Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THEALMA AND CLEARCHUS, by JOHN CHALKHILL



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THEALMA AND CLEARCHUS, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Scarce had the ploughman yoked his horned team
Last Line: And here the author died, and I hope the reader will be sorry.
Subject(s): Plowing & Plowmen


SCARCE had the ploughman yoked his horned team,
And lock'd their traces to the crooked beam,
When fair Thealma with a maiden scorn,
That day before her rise, out-blush'd the morn:
Scarce had the sun gilded the mountain tops,
When forth she leads her tender ewes, and hopes
The day would recompense the sad affrights
Her love-sick heart did struggle with a-nights.
Down to the plains the poor Thealma wends,
Full of sad thoughts, and many a sigh she sends
Before her, which the air stores up in vain:
She sucks them back, to breathe them out again.
The airy choir salute the welcome day,
And with new carols sing their cares away;
Yet move not her; she minds not what she hears:
Their sweeter accents grate her tender ears,
That relish nought but sadness: Joy and she
Were not so well acquainted; one might see,
E'en in her very looks, a stock of sorrow
So much improv'd, 'twould prove despair to-morrow.
Down in a valley 'twixt two rising hills,
From whence the dew in silver drops distils
T' enrich the lowly plain, a river ran
Hight Cygnus (as some think from Leda's swan
That there frequented); gently on it glides
And makes indentures in her crooked sides,
And with her silent murmurs, rocks asleep
Her wat'ry inmates: 'twas not very deep,
But clear as that Narcissus look'd in, when
His self-love made him cease to live with men.
Close by the river was a thick-leav'd grove,
Where swains of old sang stories of their love;
But unfrequented now since Colin died,
Colin, that king of shepherds and the pride
Of all Arcadia: -- here Thealma used
To feed her milky droves, and as they brows'd
Under the friendly shadow of a beech
She sate her down; grief had tongue-tied her speech,
Her words were sighs and tears; dumb eloquence:
Heard only by the sobs, and not the sense.
With folded arms she sate, as if she meant
To hug those woes which in her breast were pent.
Her looks were nail'd unto the Earth, that drank
Her tears with greediness, and seem'd to thank
Her for those briny showers, and in lieu
Returns her flow'ry sweetness for her dew.
At length her sorrows wax'd so big within her,
They strove for greater vent: Oh! had you seen her,
How fain she would have hid her grief, and stay'd
The swelling current of her woes, and made
Her grief, though with unwillingness, to set
Open the floodgates of her speech, and let
Out that which else had drown'd her; you'd have deem'd
Her rather Niobe than what she seem'd.
So like a weeping rock wash'd with a sea
Of briny waters, she appear'd to be.
So have I seen a headlong torrent run
Scouring along the valley, till anon
It meeting with some dam that checks his course,
Swells high with rage, and doubling of its force
Lays siege to his opposer: first he tries
To undermine it, still his waters rise,
And with its weight steals through some narrow pores,
And weeps itself a vent at those small doors;
But finding that too little for its weight,
It breaks through all. -- Such was Thealma's state,
When tears would give her heart no ease, her grief
Broke into speech to give her some relief:
'Oh, my Clearchus,' said she, and with tears
Embalms his name: -- 'Oh! if the ghosts have ears,
Or souls departed condescend so low,
To sympathize with mortals in their woe;
Vouchsafe to lend a gentle ear to me,
Whose life is worse than death, since not with thee.
What privilege have they that are born great
More than the meanest swain? The proud waves beat
With more impetuousness upon high lands,
Than on the flat and less resisting strands:
The lofty cedar and the knotty oak
Are subject more unto the thunder-stroke,
Than the low shrubs, that no such shocks endure,
Ev'n their contempt doth make them live secure.
Had I been born the child of some poor swain,
Whose thoughts aspire no higher than the plain,
I had been happy then; t' have kept these sheep,
Had been a princely pleasure; quiet sleep
Had drown'd my cares, or sweeten'd them with dreams:
Love and content had been my music's themes;
Or had Clearchus liv'd the life I lead,
I had been blest.' -- And then a tear she shed,
That was forerunner to so great a shower,
It drown'd her speech: such a commanding power
That lov'd name had: when beating of her breast.
In a sad silence she sigh'd out the rest.
By this time it was noon, and Sol had got
Half to his journey's ending: 'twas so hot,
The sheep drew near the shade, and by their dam
Lay chewing of their cuds: -- at the length came
Caretta with her dinner, where she found
Her love-sick mistress courting of the ground,
Moist with the tears she shed: she lifts her up,
And pouring out some beverage in a cup,
She gave it her to drink: -- hardly she sips.
When a deep sigh again lock'd up her lips.
Caretta woos and prays (poor country girl),
And every sigh she spent cost her a pearl,
'Pray, come to dinner,' said she, 'see, here's bread,
Here's curds and cream, and cheesecake, sweet, now feed;
Do you not love me? once you said you did.
Do you not care for me? If you had bid
Me do a thing, though I with death had met
I would have done it: -- honey mistress, eat.
I would your grief were mine, so you were well;
What is 't that troubles you? would I could tell.
Dare you not trust me? I was ne'er no blab,
If I do tell't to any, call me drab.
But you are angry with me, -- chide me then, --
Beat me, -- forgive, -- I'll ne'er offend again.'
With that she kiss'd her, and with lukewarm tears,
Call'd back her colour worn away with cares.
'Oh, my poor girl,' said she, 'sweet innocence,
What a controlling winning eloquence
Hath loving honesty; were't not to give
Thy love a thanks, Thealma would not live.
I cannot eat; -- nay, weep not, -- I am well,
Only I have no stomach; thou canst tell
How long it is since good Menippus found
Me shipwreck'd in the sea, e'en well-nigh drown'd;
And happy had it been, if my stern fate
Had prov'd to me so cruel fortunate
To have un-liv'd me then.' -- 'Ah, wish not so!'
Answer'd Caretta, 'little do you know,
What end the fates have in preserving you.
I hope a good one, and to tell you true,
You do not well to question those blest powers,
That long agone have number'd out our hours,
And, as some say, spin out our threads of life;
Some short, some longer, they command the knife
That cuts them off; and till that time be come
We seek in vain to shroud us in a tomb.
But I have done, -- and fear I've done amiss,
I ask forgiveness. -- As I guess it is
Some three years since my master sav'd your life,
'Twas much about the time he lost his wife,
And that's three years come Autumn; my good dame
Then lost her life, yet lives in her good name.
I cannot choose but weep to think on her:
'Mongst women kind, was not a lovinger.
She bred me up e'en from my infancy,
And lov'd me as her own, her piety
And love to virtue made me love it too;
But she is dead, and I have found in you
What I have lost in her: my good old master
Follow'd her soon, he could not long outlast her,
They lov'd so well together: heav'n did lend
Him longer life, only to prove your friend,
To save your life, and he was therein blest,
That happy action crowned all the rest
Of his good deeds: since heav'n hath such a care
To preserve good ones, why should you despair?
The man you grieve for so, there's none can tell
But if heav'n be so pleas'd, may speed as well.
Some lucky hand Fate may, for aught you know,
Send to save him from death as well as you.
And so I hope it hath: take comfort then,
You may, I trust, see happy days again.'
Thealma all this while with serious eye,
Ey'd the poor wench, unwilling to reply;
For in her looks she read some true presage,
That gave her comfort, and somewhat assuage
The fury of her passions; with desire
Her ears suck'd in her speech, to quench her fire:
She could have heard her speak an age, sweet soul,
So pretty loud she chud her, and condole
With her in her misfortunes. 'Oh,' said she,
'What wisdom dwells in plain simplicity!
Prithee (my dear Caretta) why dost cry?
I am not angry, good girl, dry thine eye,
Or I shall turn child too: my tide's not spent,
'Twill flow again, if thou art discontent.
For I will eat if thou'lt be merry; say,
Wilt thou, Caretta? shall thy mistress pray,
And thou deny her?' -- Still Caretta wept,
Sorrow and gladness such a struggling kept
Within her for the mastery; at the length
Joy overcame, and speech recovered strength.
'Sweet mistress,' said she, 'pardon your handmaid,
Unworthy of the wages your love paid
Me; for my over-boldness, think 't not strange,
I was struck dumb at this so sweet a change.
I could not choose but weep, if you'd have kill'd me,
With such an overplus of joy it fill'd me:
I will be merry, if you can forgive;
Wanting your love, it is a hell to live:
I was to blame; but I'll do so no more.'
Scarce had she spoke the word; but a fell boar
Rush'd from the wood, enrag'd by a deep wound
Some huntsman gave him: up he ploughs the ground,
And whetting of his tusks, about 'gan roam,
Champing his venom's moisture into foam.
Thealma and her maid, half dead with fear,
Cried out for help; their cry soon reach'd his ear,
And he came snuffling tow'rd them: -- still they cry,
And fear gave wings unto them as they fly.
The sheep ran bleating o'er the pleasant plain,
And airy Echo answers them again;
Redoubling of their cries to fetch in aid,
Whilst to the wood the fearful virgins made,
Where a new fear assay'd them: 'twas their hap
To meet the boar's pursuer in the gap
With his sword drawn, and all besmear'd with gore,
Which made their case more desp'rate than before,
As they imagin'd; yet so well as fear
And doubt would let them, as the man drew near
They 'mplor'd his help: -- he minds them not, but spying
The chafed boar in a thick puddle lying,
Tow'rds him he makes; the boar was soon aware,
And with a hideous noise sucks in the air.
Upon his guard he stands, his tusks new whets,
And up on end his grisly bristles sets.
His wary foe went traversing his ground,
Spying out where was best to give a wound.
And now Thealma's fears afresh began
To seize on her; her care's now for the man,
Lest the adventurous youth should get some hurt,
Or die untimely: -- up th' boar flings the dirt
Dy'd crimson with his blood: his foe at length
Watching his time, and doubling of his strength,
Gave him a wound so deep, it let out life,
And set a bloody period to their strife.
But he bled too, a little gash he got,
As he clos'd with him, which he minded not;
Only Thealma's fears made it appear
More dangerous than it was, -- longing to hear
her life's preserver speak: then down she falls,
And on the gods, in thanks, for blessing calls,
To recompense his valour. -- he drew near,
And smiling lifts her up, whenas a tear
Dropping into his wound, he gave a start:
Love in that pearl stole down into his heart.
He was but young, scarce did the hair begin
In shadows to write man upon his chin:
Tall and well set, his hair a chestnut brown,
His looks majestic, 'twixt a smile and frown;
Yet smear'd with blood, and all bedew'd with sweat,
One could not know him: -- by this time the heat
Was well-nigh slak'd, and Sol's unwearied team
Hies to refresh them in the briny stream.
The stranger ey'd her earnestly, and she
As earnestly desir'd that she might see
His perfect visage. -- To the river side
She toles him on; still he Thealma eyed,
But not a word he spake, which she desir'd:
The more he look'd, the more his heart was fir'd.
Down both together sate, and while he wash'd,
She dress'd his wound which the boar lately gash'd;
And having wip'd, he kiss'd her for her care,
Whenas a blush begot 'twixt joy and fear
Made her seem what he took her for -- his love;
And this invention he had to prove,
Whether she was Clarinda, aye or no:
For so his mistress hight. -- 'Did not you know
The Prince Anaxus?' -- Now Thealma knew
Not whether it were best speak false or true.
She knew he was Anaxus, and her brother,
And from a child she took him for no other;
Yet knew she not what danger might ensue,
If she disclos'd herself: her telling true
Perhaps might work her ruin, and a lie
Might rend her from his heart, worse than to die.
But she, being unwilling to be known,
Answer'd his quere with this question:
'Did not you know Thealma?' -- At the name
Amaz'd he started; 'What then, lovely dame?
Suppose I did? would I could say I do';
With that he wept, she fell a melting too,
And with a flood of tears she thanks her brother:
No danger can a true affection smother.
He wipes her eyes, she weeps again afresh,
And sheds more tears t' enrich her thankfulness.
Sorrow had tied up both their tongues so fast,
Love found no vent, but through their eyes; at last,
Anaxus blushing at his childish tears,
Rous'd up himself, and the sad virgin cheers.
'And knew you that Thealma, sweet?' said he:
'I did,' replied Thealma, 'I am she: --
Look well upon me; -- sorrow's not so unkind
So to transform me, but your eye may find
A sister's stamp upon me.' -- 'Lovely maid,
How fain I would believe thee,' the youth said,
'But she was long since drown'd: in the proud deep,
She and her bold Clearchus sweetly sleep,
In those soft beds of darkness; and in dreams
Embrace each other, spite of churlish streams.'
The very name Clearchus chill'd her veins,
And like an unmov'd statue she remains,
Pale as Death's self, till with a warm love-kiss,
He thaw'd her icy coldness; such power is
In the sweet touch of love. -- 'Sweet soul,' said he,
'Be comforted, the sorrow 'longs to me.
Why should the sad relation of a woe
You have no interest in, make you grieve so?'
'No interest,' said she, 'yes, Anaxus, know
I am a greater sharer in 't than you.
Have you forgot your sister? I am she,
The helpless poor Thealma, and to me
Belongs the sorrow; you but grieve in vain
If't be for her, since she is found again.'
'Are you not then Clarinda?' said the youth,
'Twere cruelty to mock me with untruth:
Your speech is hers, and in your looks I read
Her lovely character: sweet virgin, lead
Me from this labyrinth of doubts, whate'er
You are, there is in you so much of her
That I both love and honour you.' -- 'Fair sir,'
Answer'd Thealma, smiling, 'why of her
Make you so strict inquiry? is your eye
So dazzled with her beauty, that poor I
Must lose the name of sister? -- say you love her,
Can your love make you cease to be a brother?'
Whereat from forth her bosom, next the heart,
She pluck'd a little tablet, whereon Art
Had wrought her skill; and opening it, said she,
'Do you not know this picture? let that be
The witness of the truth which I have told.'
With that Anaxus could no longer hold,
But falling on her neck, with joy he kiss'd her,
Saying, 'Thanks, Heaven, liv'st thou then, my dear sister
My lov'd Thealma! wert not thou cast away?
What happy hand hath sav'd thee?' -- But the day
Was then far spent; 'twas time to think on home,
And her Caretta, all amaz'd, was come,
And waited her commands: the fiery sun
Went blushing down at the short race he run;
The marigold shuts up her golden flowers,
And the sweet song-birds hied unto their bowers.
Night-swaying Morpheus clothes the east in black,
And Cynthia following her brother's track
With new and brighter rays, her self adorns,
Lighting the starry tapers at her horns.
Homeward Anaxus and Thealma wend,
Where we must leave them for a while, to end
The story of their sorrows. --
Night being come,
A time when all repair unto some home,
Save the poor fisherman, that still abides
Out-watching care in tending on the tides.
Rhotus was yet at sea, and as his ketch
Tack'd to and fro, the scanty wind to snatch,
He spied a frigate, and as night gave leave
Through Cynthia's brightness he might well perceive
It was of Lemnos; and as it drew near,
From the becalmed bark he well might hear
A voice that hail'd him; asking whence he was?
He answer'd, from Arcadia. In that place
Were many little islands, call'd of old
Rupillas, from the many rocks they hold,
A most frequented place for fish; in vain
They trimm'd their flagging sails to stem the main.
But scarce a breath of wind was stirring, when
The master hail'd the fisherman again:
And letting fall an anchor, beckon'd him
To come aboard. Rhotus delay'd no time,
But makes unto the ship; he soon got thither,
Using his oars to outdo the weather.
His ketch he hooks unto the frigate's stern,
And up the ship he climbs; he might discern
At his first entry such a sad aspect
In all the passengers, he might collect
Out of their looks, that some misfortune had
Lately befall'n them, they were all so sad.
One 'mongst the rest there was, a grave old man,
(To whom they all stood bare) that thus began:
'Welcome, kind friend, nay sit. What bark? with fish?
Canst thou afford for Lemnian coin a dish?'
'Yes, master, that I can, a good dish too;
And as they like you, pay me; I will go
And fetch them straight.' He did so, and was paid
To his content: the fish were ready made,
And down they sate, the better sort and worse
Far'd all alike, it was their constant course;
Four to a mess; and to augment their fare,
The second courses good discourses were.
Amongst their various talk, the grave old lord
(For so he was) that hail'd the ketch aboard,
Thus question'd Rhotus: -- 'Honest fisher, tell
What news affords Arcadia; thou knowest well:
Who rules that free-born state, under what laws,
Or civil government remain they? what's the cause
Of their late falling out?' Rhotus replies,
And as he spake the tears stood in his eyes:
'As well as grief will let me, worthy sir,
Though I shall prove but a bad chronicler
Of state affairs, yet with your gentle leave
I'll tell you all I know; nor will I weave
Any untruths in my discourse, or raise,
By flattering mine own countrymen, a praise
Their worth ne'er merited; what I shall tell
Is nothing but the truth; then mark me well.'
Then quiet silence shut up their discourse,
Scarce was a whisper heard, -- 'such a strange force
Hath novelty; it makes us swift to hear,
And to the speaker chains the greedy ear.'
'Arcadia was of old,' said he, 'a state
Subject to none but their own laws and fate:
Superior there was none, but what old age
And hoary hairs had rais'd; the wise and sage,
Whose gravity, when they are rich in years,
Begat a civil reverence more than fears
In the well-manner'd people; at that day
All was in common, every man bare sway
O'er his own family; the jars that rose
Were soon appeas'd by such grave men as those:
This mine and thine, that we so cavil for,
Was then not heard of; he that was most poor
Was rich in his content, and liv'd as free
As they whose flocks were greatest, nor did he
Envy his great abundance, nor the other
Disdain the low condition of his brother,
But lent him from his store to mend his state.
And with his love he quits him, thanks his fate,
And taught by his example, seeks out such
As want his help, that they may do as much.
Their laws, e'en from their childhood, rich and poor
Had written in their hearts by conning o'er
The legacies of good old men, whose memories
Outlive their monuments, the grave advice
They left behind in writing: -- this was that
That made Arcadia then so blest a state,
Their wholesome laws had link'd them so in one,
They liv'd in peace and sweet communion.
Peace brought forth plenty, plenty bred content,
And that crown'd all their pains with merriment.
They had no foe, secure they liv'd in tents,
All was their own they had, they paid no rents;
Their sheep found clothing, earth provided food,
And labour drest them as their wills thought good;
On unbought delicates their hunger fed,
And for their drink the swelling clusters bled:
The valleys rang with their delicious strains,
And Pleasure revell'd on those happy plains.
Content and Labour gave them length of days,
And Peace serv'd in delight a thousand ways.
The golden age before Deucalion's flood
Was not more happy, nor the folk more good.
But Time, that eats the children he begets,
And is less satisfied the more he eats,
Led on by Fate that terminates all things,
Ruin'd our state by sending of us kings:
Ambition (Sin's first-born), the bane of state,
Stole into men, puffing them up with hate
And emulous desires; love waxed cold,
And into iron froze the age of gold.
The law's contempt made cruelty step in,
And 'stead of curbing, animated sin;
The rich man tramples on the poor man's back,
Raising his fortunes by his brother's wrack.
The wronged poor necessity 'gan teach
To live by rapine, stealing from the rich.
The temples, which devotion had erected
In honour of the gods, were now neglected;
No altar smokes with sacrificed beasts,
No incense offer'd, no love-strength'ning feasts.
Men's greedy avarice made gods of clay,
Their gold and silver: -- field to field they lay,
And house to house; no matter how 'twas got,
The hands of justice they regarded not.
Like a distemper'd body fever-shaken,
When with combustion every limb is taken:
The head wants ease, the heavy eyes want sleep,
The beating pulse no just proportion keep;
The tongue talks idly, reason cannot rule it,
And the heart fires the air drawn in to cool it.
The palate relisheth no meat, the ear's
But ill affected with the sweets it hears.
The hands deny their aid to help him up,
And fall, as to his lips they lift the cup.
The legs and feet disjointed, and useless,
Shrinking beneath the burthen of the flesh.
Such was Arcadia then, till Clitus reign'd,
The first and best of kings that e'er obtain'd
Th' Arcadian sceptre: he piec'd up the state,
And made it somewhat like to fortunate.
He dying without issue on the sudden,
Heav'n nipp'd their growing glory in the budding:
They choose Philemon, one of Clitus' race,
To sway the sceptre, a brave youth he was,
As wise as valiant. Had he been as chaste,
Arcadia had been happy; but his lust
Levell'd Arcadia's glory with the dust.
There was a noble shepherd, Stremon hight,
As good as great, whose virtues had of right
Better deserv'd a crown, had severe fate
But pleas'd to smile so then upon our state.
He had one only daughter, young and fair,
Most richly qualitied, and which was rare,
In the same looser age divinely chaste;
Though sued to by no mean ones, yet at last
Her father match'd her to a shepherd's son,
Equal in birth and fortune; such a one
As merited the double dower she brought,
Both of her wealth and virtue: heav'n had wrought
Their minds so both alike: -- his noble sire
Was Clitus named, to whose Thracian lyre
The shepherds wont to tune their pipes, and frame
Their curious madrigals. The virgin's name
Was Castabella, Clitus his brave son
Lysander hight. The nuptials being done,
To which the king came willingly a guess,
Each one repair'd unto their business,
The charge of their own flocks; the nobler sort
Accompanied the king unto the court:
The meaner rout of shepherds and their swains,
With hook and scrip went jogging to the plains.
Scarce had the sun (that then at Cancer in'd)
Twice measured the earth, when Love struck blind
The lustful king, whose amorous desires
Grew into lawless passions, and strange fires,
That none but Castabella would serve turn
To quench his flames, though she had made them burn.
He had the choice of many fair ones too,
And well descended: kings need not to woo;
The very name will bring a nun to bed,
Ambition values not a maidenhead;
But he likes none, none but the new-wed wife
Must be the umpire to decide the strife.
He casts about to get what he desir'd,
The more he plots, the more his heart is fir'd;
He knew her chaste and virtuous, no weak bars
T' oppose the strongest soldier in Love's wars.
He knew her father powerful, well-beloved,
Both for his wisdom and good deeds approved,
Among the giddy rout; -- as for his son,
His own demerit spake him such a one
As durst revenge; nor could he want for friends
To second his attempts in noble ends.
Still the king burns, and still his working brain
Plots and displots, thinks and unthinks again.
At length his will resolv'd him in this sort,
Stremon and Clitus both were yet at court,
Busied in state affairs; Lysander he
Was where a husband lately wed should be,
At home a-weaning of his wife's desires,
From her old sire, to warm her at his fires.
As hapless hap would have it, it fell out
That at that time a rude uncivil rout
Of outlaw'd mutineers had gather'd head
Upon the frontiers, as their fury led,
Burning and spoiling all; the council sit
Advising to suppress them; 'twas thought fit
Some strength should go against them. All this made
For the king's purpose. Then a care was had
Who should conduct those forces: some were nam'd,
The choice one likes is by another blam'd.
Philemon gives them line enough, for he
Had 'fore projected who the man should be;
Yet held his peace, 'twas not his cue as yet
To speak his mind; at length they do entreat
That he would name the man: the king did so,
Lysander was the man, he nam'd to go:
His judgement was agreed on; th' two old men,
Stremon and Clitus, thought them honour'd when
They heard him name Lysander, and with glad ears
Welcome his killing favour without fears.
He makes him captain of his strongest fort,
Thus wolf-like he did welcome him to court.
The days were set for his dispatch; mean space
He takes his leave of his wife's chaste embrace:
It little boots her love to weep him back,
Nor stood it with his honour to be slack
In such a noble enterprise; -- he went
Arm'd with strong hopes, and the king's blandishment.
No sooner was he gone, but the sly king,
Rid of his chiefest fears, began to sing
A requiem to his thoughts: th' affairs of state
He left unto his nobles to debate;
And minds his sport, the hunting of the hare,
The fox and wolf, this took up all his care.
Upon a day, as in a tedious chase,
He lost his train that did out-ride his race;
Or rather of set purpose slack'd his course,
Intending to excuse it on his horse,
He stole to Stremon's lodge, the day was spent,
The fittest time to act his foul intent.
He knocks at Stremon's lodge, but no man hears,
All were abed, and sleep had charm'd their ears:
He knocks again; with that he heard a groan,
Pow'rful enough t' have turn'd a cruel one
From his bad purpose. "Who's within?" said he,
"If you be good folks, rise and pity me."
But none replied: -- another groan he hears,
And cruel Fortune drew him by the ears
To what he wish'd for. Castabella yet
Was not in bed; sorrow denied to let
Her moist eyes sleep, for her increasing fears
Conspir'd to keep them open, with her tears.
A little from the lodge, on the descent
Of the small hill it stood on, a way bent
Unto an orchard thick with trees beset;
Through which there ran a crystal rivelet,
Whose purling streams that wrangled with the stones,
In trembling accents, echo'd back her groans.
Here in an arbour Castabella sate,
Full of sad thoughts, and most disconsolate;
The door was ope, and in Philemon steals,
But in a bush a while himself conceals,
Till he the voice might more distinctly hear,
And better be resolv'd that she was there;
And so he did: Fortune his bawd became,
And led him on to lust. -- The fearless dame,
After a deep-fetch'd sigh, thus faintly spake,
"O my Lysander, why would'st thou not take
Me along with thee?" then a flood of tears
Clos'd up her lips; when this had reach'd his ears,
Like a fell wolf he rush'd upon his prey,
Stopping her cries with kisses: weep she may,
And lift her hands to heaven, but in vain,
It was too late for help t' undo again
What he had done. Her honour, more to her
Than was her life, the cruel murderer
Had robb'd her of, and glories in his prize:
It is no news for lust to tyrannize.
He thank'd his fortune that did so prevent
His first design by shortening his intent.
The black deed done, the ravisher hies thence,
Leaving his shame to murder innocence:
He had his wish, and that which gilt his sin,
He knew suspicion could not suspect him.
Report, the blab-tongue of those tell-tale times,
That rather magnifies than lessens crimes,
Slept when this act was done: such thoughts as these
Sear'd up his conscience with a carelessness.
Poor Castabella having now lost all
That she thought worth the losing, would not call
For help to be a witness of her shame:
It was too late, nor did she know his name
That had undone her: cruel thoughts arise,
And wanting other vent, break through her eyes.
Shame prompts [her] to despair and let out life;
Revenge advised her to conceal her grief:
Fear checks revenge, and Honour chides her fear,
Within her breast such mutinous thoughts there were
She could resolve on nothing: day then breaks,
And shame in blushes rose upon her cheeks.
With that she spies a ring lie at her feet,
She took it up, and glad she was to see 't.
By this she thought, if Fate so pitied her,
In time she might find out the ravisher.
Revenge then whispers in her ear afresh,
Be bold; she look 'd upon 't, but could not guess
Whose it might be; yet she remember'd well
She'd seen 't before, but where she could not tell.
With that she threw it from her in disdain,
Yet thought wrought so she took it up again;
And looking better on 't, within the ring
She spied the name and motto of the king:
Whereat she starts; -- "O ye blest powers!" said she,
"Thanks for this happy strange discovery."
She wrapp'd it up, and to the lodge she went
To study some revenge; 'twas her intent
By some device to 'tice Philemon thither,
And there to end his life and hers together.
But that was cross'd, Lysander back returns
Crown'd with a noble victory, -- and horns
That he ne'er dream'd of: to his wife he goes,
And finds her weeping: no content she shows
At his safe coming back; but speaks in tears:
He lov'd too well to harbour jealous fears.
He wip'd her eyes, and kiss'd her to invite
A gentle welcome from her if he might:
But 'twould not be; he ask'd her why she wept,
And who had wrong'd her; still she silence kept,
And turns away: then he began to doubt
All was not well; to find the matter out
He tries all means; and first with mild entreats
He woos her to disclose it: then with threats
He seeks to wring it from her. Much ado
She told him the sad story of her woe.
The ring confirm'd the truth of her report:
And he believ'd her. -- Straight he hies to court
T' acquaint his fathers with it. All three vow
To be reveng'd, but first they study how.
Well, to be brief, they muster up their friends,
And now Philemon 'gan to guess their ends,
And counter-works t' oppose them, gathers strength,
And boldly goes to meet them; at the length
They battle join. Philemon put to flight,
And many thousands butcher'd in the fight;
'Mongst whom old Stremon fell, whose noble spirit
Outdid his age, and by his brave merit
Did gain himself so glorious a name,
Arcadia to this day adores the same.
Lysander's wrongs spurr'd on his swift pursuit
After Philemon, when a sudden shout
Amongst his soldiers caus'd him sound retreat,
Fearing some mutiny -- all in a sweat
A messenger ran tow'rd him, crying out,
"Return, my lord, the cunning wolf's found out,
Philemon's slain, and you proclaimed king":
With that again the echoing valleys ring.
The foe, it seems, had wheel'd about a mere
In policy to set upon the rear
Of bold Lysander's troops; they fac'd about
And met his charge; when a brave youth stepp'd out
And singles forth the king: they used no words,
The cause was to be pleaded with their swords,
Which anger whet: no blow was giv'n in vain,
Now they retire, and then come on again;
Like two wild boars for mastery they strive,
And many wounds on either side they give:
Then grappling both together, both fell down,
Fainting for want of blood; when with a frown
As killing as his sword the brave youth gave
His foe a wound that sent him to his grave.
"Take that, thou murderer of my honour's name,"
Said the brave youth, or rather the brave dame;
For so it prov'd: yet her disguise was such,
The sharpest eye could not discern so much,
Until Lysander came: his piercing eye
Soon found who 'twas, he knew her presently;
'Twas Castabella, his unhappy wife,
Who losing honour, would not keep her life;
But thrusts herself into the midst of danger
To seek out death, and would have died a stranger
Unto Lysander's knowledge, had not he
Inform'd the world it could be none but she
That durst win honour so. The noble dame
Was not quite dead whenas Lysander came,
Who stooping down to kiss her, with his tears
T 'embalm her for a grave, herself she rears,
And meeting his embrace; "Welcome," said she,
"Welcome, Lysander; since I have seen thee,
I dare Death's worst"; then sinking down she died,
The honour of her sex: -- all means were tried
To call back life, but medicines came late,
Her blood was spent, and she subscribes to fate.
Lysander was about to sacrifice
Himself t' appease th' incensed destinies;
And had not one stepp'd in and held his hand,
He'd done the deed, and so undone the land.
Peace was proclaim'd to all that would submit
On the foe's side: the soldiers dig a pit
And tumble in Philemon; none there were,
Or friend or foe, that seem'd to shed a tear
To deck his hearse withal. Thus his base lust
Untimely laid his glory in the dust;
But Castabella she outliv'd her shame,
And shepherd swains still carol out her fame.
She needs no poet's pen to mount it high,
Lysander wept her out an elegy.
Her obsequies once o'er, the king was crown'd,
And war's loud noise with peals of joy was drown'd:
Janus's temple was shut up, and Peace
Usher'd in Plenty by their flocks' increase;
But long it lasted not, Philemon's friends
Soon gather'd head again. Lysander sends
Some force against them, but with bad success,
The foe prevails, and seales their hardiness.
Lysander goes in person and is slain,
Philemon's friends then make a king again;
A hot-spur'd youth, hight Hylas, such a one
As pride had fitted for commotion.
About that time, in a tempestuous night,
A ship that by misfortune chanc'd to light
Upon the rocks that are upon our coast,
Was split to pieces, all the lading lost,
And all the passengers, save a young man
That Fortune rescued from the ocean.
When day was broke, and I put out to sea,
To fish out a poor living; by the lea
As I was coasting, I might well espy
The carcass of a ship: -- my man and I
Made straightway tow'rd it, and with wind and oar
We quickly reach'd it, 'twas not far from shore,
About some half a league; we view'd the wrack
But found no people in 't, when looking back,
Upon a shelving rock, a man we spied,
As we thought, dead, and cast up by the tide:
But by good hap he was not, yet wellnigh
Starv'd with the cold, and the sea's cruelty.
We thaw'd him into life again, but he,
As if he relish'd not our charity,
Seem'd to be angry; and had we not been,
The youth had leap'd into the sea again.
Perforce we brought him home, where with warm potions
We thaw'd his numbed joints into their motions,
And chiding his despair, with good advice
I warm'd his hopes that else had froze to ice.
A braver youth mine eye ne'er look'd upon,
Nor of a sweeter disposition.'
Old Cleon could no longer silence keep,
But ask'd his name, and as he ask'd did weep.
'Was he your friend?' quoth Rhotus, 'he's alive,
Knew you as much as I, you would not grieve.
He calls himself Alexis, now our king,
And long may we enjoy his governing:
But he forgets who sav'd his life; great men
Seldom remember to look down again.
There was a time when I'd have scorn'd to crave
A thanks from any, till a churlish wave
Wash'd off my friends and thrust me from the court,
To dwell with labour; but I thank them for 't.
Content dwells not at court; but I have done,
And if you please, my lord, I will go on
Where I left off a while: -- Hylas being king,
Puff'd up with pride, by often conquering,
He fell to riot, king and people both
Laid arms aside to fall in love with sloth.
The downs were unfrequented, shepherd swains
Were very rarely seen to haunt the plains.
The plough lay still, the earth manuring needs,
And 'stead of corn brought forth a crop of weeds.
No courts of justice kept, no law observ'd,
No hand to punish such as ill deserv'd:
Their will was then their law; who durst resist,
Hylas connives, and all did what they list.
Lysander's friends were scatter'd here and there,
And liv'd obscurely circled in with fear.
Some till'd the ground, whilst others fed their flocks,
Under the covert of some hanging rocks.
Others fell'd wood, and some dye weavy yarn
The women spun; thus all were forc'd to earn
Their bread by sweaty labour: 'mongst the many,
I and some others fish'd to get a penny.
And had I but my daughter, which I lost
In the foe's hot pursuit (for without boast,
She was a good one), I should think me blest,
Nor would I change my calling with the best.
She was my only comfort; but she's dead,
Or, which is worse, I fear me ravished.
But I digress too much: -- upon a day
When Care's triumphs gave us leave to play,
We all assembled on a spacious green,
To tell old tales, and choose our Summer's queen.
Thither Alexis, my late shipwreck'd guest,
At my entreaty came, and 'mongst the rest,
In their disports made one; no exercise
Did come amiss to him; for all he tries,
And won the prize in all: the graver sort
That minded more their safety than their sport,
'Gan to bethink them on their former state,
And on their country's factions ruminate.
They had intelligence how matters went
In Hylas' court, whose people's minds were bent
To nought but idleness; that fruitful sin
That never bears a child that's not a twin.
They heard they had unmann'd themselves by ease,
And how security like a disease
Spread o'er their dwellings, how their profus'd hand
Squander'd away the plenty of the land:
How civil discords sprang up ev'ry hour,
And quench'd themselves in blood; how the law's power
Was wholly slighted, Justice made a jeer,
And sins unheard-of practis'd without fear.
The state was sick at heart, and now or never
Was time to cure it: all consult together,
How to recover what they lost of late,
Their liberty and means; long they debate
About the matter: all resolve to fight,
And by the law of arms to plead their right.
But now they want a head, and whom to trust
They could not well resolve on, choose they must
One of necessity: -- the civil wars
Had scarce left any that durst trade for scars.
The flower of youth was gone, save four or five,
Were left to keep Arcadia's fame alive;
Yet all too young to govern, all about
They view the youth, to single some one out.
By this time they had crown'd Alexis' brow
With wreaths of bays, and all the youth allow
Of him a victor; many odes they sing
In praise of him; then to the bower they bring
Their noble champion, whereas they were wont;
They lead him to a little turfy mount
Erected for that purpose, where all might
Both hear and see the victor with delight.
He had a man-like look, and sparkling eye,
A front whereon sate such a majesty
As awed all his beholders; his long hair,
After the Grecian fashion, without care
Hung loosely on his shoulders, black as jet,
And shining with his oily honour'd sweat;
His body straight, and well-proportion'd, tall,
Well-limb'd, well-set, long-arm'd; -- one hardly shall
Among a thousand find one in all points
So well compact, and sinew'd in his joints.
But that which crown'd the rest, he had a tongue
Whose sweetness toal'd unwillingness along,
And drew attention from the dullest ear,
His words so oily smooth and winning were.'
Rhotus was going on when day appear'd,
And with its light the cloudy welkin clear'd.
They heard the milkmaids halloo home their kine,
And to their troughs knock in their straggling swine.
The birds 'gan sing, the calves and lambkins bleat,
Wanting the milky breakfast of a teat.
With that he brake off his discourse, intending
Some fitter time to give his story ending.
Some household bus'ness call'd his care ashore,
And Cleon thought on what concern'd him more.
His men weight anchor, and with Rhotus sail
Toward the land; they had so strong a gale,
They quickly reach'd the port where Rhotus dwelt,
Who with old Cleon with fair words so dealt,
We won him to his cell; where as his guest
We'll leave him, earnest to hear out the rest.
By this time had Anaxus ta'en his leave
Of his kind sister, that afresh can grieve
For his departure; she entreats in vain,
And spends her tears to wash him back again,
But 'twould not be; he leaves her to her woes,
And in the search of his Clarinda goes.
He scarce had travell'd two days' journey thence,
When hieing to a shade, for his defence
'Gainst the Sun's scorching heat, who then began
T' approach the point of the meridian:
Within a little silent grove hard by,
Upon a small ascent, he might espy
A stately chapel, richly gilt without,
Beset with shady sycamores about:
And ever and anon he might well hear
A sound of music steal in at his ear
As the wind gave it being: -- so sweet an air
Would strike a syren mute and ravish her.
He sees no creature that might cause the same,
But he was sure that from the grove it came.
And to the grove he goes to satisfy
The curiosity of ear and eye.
Thorough the thick-leav'd boughts he makes a way,
Nor could the scratching brambles make him stay:
But on he rushes, and climbs up the hill,
Thorough a glade he saw and heard his fill.
A hundred virgins there he might espy
Prostrate before a marble deity,
Which, by its portraiture, appear'd to be
The image of Diana: -- on their knee
They tender'd their devotions: with sweet airs,
Off'ring the incense of their praise and prayers.
Their garments all alike; beneath their paps
Buckled together with a silver claps,
And 'cross their snowy silken robes, they wore
An azure scarf, with stars embroider'd o'er.
Their hair in curious tresses was knit up,
Crown'd with a silver crescent on the top.
A silver bow their left hand held, their right,
For their defence, held a sharp-headed flight
Drawn from their broid'red quiver, neatly tied
In silken cords, and fasten'd to their side.
Under their vestments, something short before,
White buskins, lac'd with ribbanding, they wore.
It was a catching sight for a young eye,
That Love had fir'd before: -- he might espy
One, whom the rest had sphere-like circled round,
Whose head was with a golden chaplet crown'd.
He could not see her face, only his ear
Was blest with the sweet words that came from her.
He was about removing; when a crew
Of lawless thieves their horny trumpets blew,
And from behind the temple unawares
Rush'd in upon them, busy at their prayers.
The virgins to their weak resistance fly,
And made a show as if they meant to try
The mastery by opposing; but, poor souls,
They soon gave back, and ran away in shoals.
Yet some were taken, such as scorn of fear
Had left behind to fortify the rear.
'Mongst whom their queen was one, a braver maid
Anaxus ne'er beheld; she sued and pray'd
For life, to those that had no pity left,
Unless in murdering those they had bereft
Of honour. -- This incens'd Anaxus' rage,
And in he rush'd, unlook'd-for on that stage:
Then out his sword he draws, and dealt such blows
That struck amazement in his numerous foes.
Twenty to one there were, too great an odds,
Had not his cause drawn succour from the gods.
The first he coped with was their captain, whom
His sword sent headless to seek out a tomb.
This cowarded the valour of the rest,
A second drops to make the worms a feast:
A third and fourth soon follow'd, six he slew,
And so dismay'd the fearful residue,
That down the hill they fled; he after hies,
And fells another villain, as he flies.
To the thick wood he chas'd them, 'twas in vain
To follow further; -- up the hill again
Weary Anaxus climbs, in hope to find
The rescued virgins he had left behind.
But all were gone; fear lent them wings, and they
Fled to their home affrighted any way.
They durst not stay to hazard the event
Of such a doubtful combat; yet they lent
Him many a pray'r to bring on good success,
And thank'd him for his noble hardiness
That freed them from the danger they were in,
And met the shock himself. The virgin queen
Full little dreamt, what champion Love had brought
To rescue her bright honour; had she thought
It had anaxus been, she would have shared
In the adventure howsoe'er she fared;
But Fate was not so pleased. The youth was sad
To see all gone: the many wounds he had
Griev'd him not so, as that he did not know
Her for whose sake he had adventur'd so.
Yet was he glad whoe'er she was, that he
Had come so luckily to set them free
From such a certain thraldom. Night drew on
And his wounds smarted: no chirurgeon
Was near at hand to bind them up, and pour
His balmy medicines into his sore:
And surely he had died, but that his heart
Was yet too stout to yield for want of art.
Looking about, upon a small ascent
He spied an old thatch'd house, all to berent
And eaten out by time, and the foul weather,
Or rather seem'd a piece of ruin; thither
Anaxus faintly hies, and in the way
He meets with old Sylvanus, who they say
Had skill in augury, and could foretell
Th' event of things: he came then from his cell
To gether a few herbs and roots -- the cates
He fed upon. Anaxus him entreats
To bind his wounds up, and with care t'apply
Unto his sores some wholesome remedy.
A trim old man he was, though age had plough'd
Up many wrinkles in his brow, and bow'd
His body somewhat tow'rd the earth; his hairs
Like the snow's woolly flakes made white with cares,
The thorns that now and then pluck'd off the down
And wore away for baldness to a crown:
His broad kemb'd beard hung down near to his waist,
The only comely ornament that grac'd
His reverend old age, -- his feet were bare
But for his leathern sandals, which he ware
To keep them clean from galling, which compell'd
Him use a staff to help him to the field.
He durst not trust his legs, they fail'd him then,
And he was almost grown a child again:
Yet sound in judgement, not impair'd in mind,
For age had rather the soul'd parts refin'd
Than any way infirm'd; his wit no less
Than 'twas in youth, his memory as fresh;
He fail'd in nothing but his earthly part,
They tended to its centre; yet his heart
Was still the same, and beat as lustily:
For, as it first took life, it would last die.
Upon the youth with greedy eye he gaz'd,
And on his staff himself a little rais'd;
When with a tear or two, with pity press'd
From his dry springs, he welcomes his request.
He needs not much entreaty to do good,
But having wash'd his wounds and stanch'd the blood,
He pours in oily balsam; fits his clothes,
And with soft tents he stops their gaping mouths;
Then binds them up, and with a cheerful look
Welcomes his thankful patient, whom he took
Home with him to his cell; whose poor outside
Promis'd as mean a lodging; pomp and pride
(Those peacocks of the time) ne'er roosted there.
Content and lowliness the inmates were.
It was not so contemptible within,
There was some show of beauty that had been
Made much of in old time, but now wellnigh
Worn out with envious time; a curious eye
Might see some relics of a piece of art
That Psyche made, when Love first fir'd her heart.
It was the story of her thoughts, which she
Curiously wrought in lively imag'ry;
Among the rest, the thought of Jealousy
Time left untouch'd, to grace antiquity.
It was decipher'd by a timorous dame,
Wrapp'd in a yellow mantle lin'd with flame:
Her looks were pale, contracted with a frown,
Her eyes suspicious, wand'ring up and down;
Behind her, Fear attended big with child,
Able to fright Presumption, if she smil'd.
After her flew a sigh, between two springs
Of briny water; on her dove-like wings
She bore a letter seal'd with a half-moon,
And superscrib'd, This from suspicion.
More than this, churlish Time had left no thing
To show the piece was Psyche's broidering.
Hither Sylvanus brings him, and with cates,
Such as our wants may buy at easy rates,
He feasts his guest; hunger and sweet content
Sucks from coarse fare a courtly nourishment.
When they had supp'd, they talk an hour or two,
And each the other questions how things go.
Sylvanus ask'd him how he came so hurt,
Anaxus tells him; and this sad report
Spins out a long discourse: -- the youth inquir'd
What maids they were he rescued, why so tir'd:
What saint it was they worshipp'd, whence the thieves,
And who that virgin was, that he conceives
Was queen and sovereign lady of the rest?
Sylvanus willing to content his guest,
After a little pause, in a grave tone,
Thus courteously replied; quoth he, 'My son,
To tell a sad relation will, I fear,
Prove but unseasonable; a young ear
Will relish it but harshly; yet since you
Desire so much to hear it, I shall do
My best to answer your desires in all
That truth hath warranted authentical.
You are not such a stranger to the state,
But you have heard of Hylas, who of late,
Back'd by some fugitives, with a strong hand,
Wrested the crown and sceptre of this land
From the true owner; this same Hylas when
He had what his ambition aim'd at; then
When he grew wearied with conquering
His native countrymen, and as a king
Sate himself down to taste what Fate had dress'd,
And serv'd up to him at a plenteous feast;
When the loud clangours of these civil broils
Were laid aside, and each man view'd the spoils
He had unjustly gotten, and in peace
Securely dwelt with idleness and ease --
Those moths that fret and eat into a state,
Until they render it the scorn of Fate;
Hylas, puff'd up with pride, and self-conceit
Of his own valour that had made him great,
In riot and lasciviousness he spends
His precious hours, and through the kingdom sends
His pand'ring parasites to seek out game,
To quench th' unmaster'd fury of his flame.
His agents were so cunning, many a maid
Were to their honour's loss subtly betrayed,
With gifts and golden promises of that
Which womanish ambition levell'd at,
Greatness and honour; but they miss'd their aim,
Their hopeful harvest prov'd a crop of shame.
Amongst the many beauties that his spies
Mark'd out, to offer up a sacrifice
Unto his lust, the beauteous Florimel
Was one, whose virtue had no parallel:
She is old Memnon's daughter, who of late
Was banish'd from his country, and by fate
Driven upon our coast, and as I guess
He was of Lemnos, fam'd for healthfulness.
Under this borrow'd name (for so it was,
Or else my art doth fail me) he did pass
Unknown to any; in a shepherd's weed
He shrouds his honour, now content to feed
A flock of sheep, that had fed men before,
It is no wonder to see goodness poor.
It was his daughter that the lustful king,
Beast-like, neigh'd after; still his flatt'rers sing
Odes of her praise, to heighten his desires,
To swim to pleasure through a hell of fires.
The tempting baits were laid, the nets were spread,
And gilded o'er to catch a maidenhead;
But all in vain, Eugenia would not bite,
Nor sell her honour for a base delight.
He speaks in letters a dumb eloquence
That takes the heart before it reach the sense;
But they were slighted, letters that speak sin
Virtue sends back in scorn: he writes again,
And is again repuls'd, he comes himself,
And desp'rately casts anchor on the shelf
Of his own power and greatness, toles her on
To come aboard to her destruction:
But she was deaf unto his syren charms,
Made wisely wary by another's harms.
Her strong repulses were like oil to fires,
Strength'ning th' increasing heat of his desires.
With mild entreats he woos her, and doth swear
How that his love's intendments noble were;
And if she'd love him, he protests and vows
To make her queen of all the state he owes.
But she was fix'd, and her resolves so strong,
She vow'd to meet with death, rather than wrong
Him unto whom her maiden faith was plight;
And he's no mean one, if my aim hits right.
When Hylas saw no cunning would prevail
To make her his, his angry looks wax'd pale,
His heart call'd home the blood to feed revenge,
That there sate plotting to work out his ends.
At length it hatch'd this mischief; Memnon's bid
To chide his daughter's coyness; so he did,
And she became the bolder, chid his checks,
And answer'd his injunctions with neglects.
Whereat the king enrag'd, laid hands upon her,
And was a-dragging her to her dishonour,
When Memnon's servants, at their mistress' cry,
Rush'd in and rescued her, -- 'twas time to fly,
Hylas had else met with a just reward
For his foul lust: he had a slender guard,
And durst not stand the hazard: Memnon's men
Would have pursued, but they came off again
At Memnon's call: the woful Florimel
(For so her name was) on the pavement fell,
Waiting the stroke of death; life was about
To leave her, had not Memnon found her out.'
Anaxus all this while gave heedful ear
To what he spake, and lent him many a tear --
To point out the full stops of his discourse;
But that he calls her Florimel, the force
Of his strong passions had persuaded him
It had been his Clarinda (as in time
The story makes her). -- 'Spare thy tears, my son,'
Said old Sylvanus; so his tale went on.
'These are but sad beginnings of events
Spun out to Sorrow's height; the foul intents
Of Hylas being frustrate, and his fires
Wanting no fuel to increase desires;
He lays a snare to catch his maiden prize
By murdering her old father; and his spies
Were sent to find his haunt out: Memnon, he
Of old experienced in court policy,
Wisely forecasts th' event, and studies how
He might prevent his mischiefs, ere they grow
Too ripe and near at hand to be put by,
By all the art and strength he had; -- to die,
For him that now was old, he nothing cared,
Death at no time finds goodness unprepared.
But how he might secure his Florimel,
That thought most troubled him; he knew full well
She was the white was aimed at; were she sure,
He made but slight of what he might endure.
He was but yet a stranger to those friends
That his true worth had gain'd him, yet intends
To try some one of them; anon his fears
And jealous doubts call back those former cares.
He thinks on many ways for her defence;
But, except heav'n, finds none save innocence.
Memnon at last resolves next day to send her
To Vesta's cloister, and there to commend her
Unto the virgin goddess's protection,
And to that purpose gave her such direction,
As fitted her to be a vestal nun,
And time seem'd tedious till the deed was done.
The fatal night, before that wish'd-for day,
When Florimel was to be pack'd away,
Hylas besets the house with armed men,
Loath that his lust should be deceived again.
At midnight they brake in, Memnon arose,
And e'er he call'd his servants, in he goes
Into his daughter's chamber, and besmears
Her breast and hands with blood; the rest her fears
Counsel her to; each hand took up a knife
T' oppose her foe, or let out her own life
If need should be, to save her honour'd name
From Lust's black sullies, and ne'er dying shame.
Memnon then calls his servants, they arise,
And wanting light, they make their hands their eyes.
Like seamen in a storm, about they go,
At their wits' end, not knowing what to do;
Down a back stairs they hurried to the hall,
Where the most noise was; in they venture all,
And all were suddenly surpris'd; in vain,
Poor men, they struggle to get loose again.
A very word was punish'd with a wound.
Here might they see their aged master bound,
And though too weak to make resistance, found
Wounded almost to death; his hoary hairs
Now near half worn away with age and cares,
Torn from his head and beard; he scorn'd to cry,
Or beg for mercy from their cruelty.
He far'd the worse because he would not tell
What was become of his fair Florimel;
She heard not this, though she set ope her ears
To listen to the whispers of her fears.
Sure had she heard how her good father far'd,
Her very cries would have the doors unbarr'd,
To let her out to plead his innocence;
But he had lock'd her up in a close room,
Free from suspicion, and 't had been her tomb,
Had not the Fates prevented; search was made
In every corner, and great care was had,
Lest she should 'scape; but yet they miss'd the lass;
They sought her everywhere but where she was.
Under the bed there was a trap-door made,
That open'd to a room where Memnon laid
The treasure and the jewels which he brought
From Lemnos with him: -- round about they sought,
Under and o'er the bed; in chests they pry,
And in each hole where scarce a cat might lie;
But could not find the cunning contriv'd door
That open'd bed and all: then down they tore
The painted hangings, and survey the walls,
Yet found no by-way out. -- Then Hylas calls
To know if they had found her; they reply,
She was not there: then with a wrathful eye,
Looking on Memnon; -- "Doting fool," said he,
"Wilt thou not tell me where she is: if she
Be in this house conceal'd, I have a way
Shall find her out; if thou hast mind to pray
Be speedy, thou hast not an hour to live:
I'll teach thee what it is for to deceive
Him that would honour thee." -- "Would shame me rather,"
Answer'd old Memnon, "and undo a father,
By shaming of his daughter; lustful king,
Call you this honour? death's not such a thing
As can fright Memnon; he and I have met
Up to the knees in blood, and honour'd sweat,
Where his scythe mow'd down legions; he and I
Are well acquainted, 'tis no news to die."
"Dost thou so brave it?" Hylas said, "I'll try
What temper you are made on by and by.
Set fire upon the house, -- since you love death
I'll teach you a new way to let out breath."
This word struck Memnon mute, not that he fear'd
Death in what shape soever he appear'd;
But that his daughter, whom as yet his care
Had kept from ravishing, should with him share
In such a bitter potion; this was that
Which more than death afflicted him, that Fate
Should now exact a double sacrifice,
And prove more cruel than his enemies.
This struck him to the heart, -- the house was fired,
And his sad busy thoughts were well-nigh tired
With studying what to do: whenas a post
That had out-rid report, brought news the coast
Shined full of fired beacons, how his lords,
Instead of sleep, betook themselves to swords;
How that the foe was near, and meant ere day
To make his court and treasury their prey;
How that the soldiers were at their wits' end
For th' absence of their king, and did intend,
Unless he did prevent them suddenly,
To choose a new one. -- Hylas fearfully
Did entertain this news, calls back his men,
And through by-paths he steals to court again,
Leaving the house on fire; the thatch was wet,
And burnt but slowly: Memnon's servants get
Their master loose, and with their teeth unties
The bloody cords that binds the sacrifice,
That Fate was pleas'd to spare; they quench the fire,
Whilst he runs to his daughter; both admire
Their little hop'd-for wond'rous preservation,
Praising their gods with fervent adoration.
Next day he shifts his Florimel away
Unto the vestal cloister, there to stay
Till he heard how things went, and what success
Befell the wars; his men themselves address,
At his command to wait upon the ars,
To purchase freedom, or by death, or scars.
Memnon himself keeps home, attended on
But by a stubbed boy; his daughter gone,
His fears 'gan lessen: -- Hylas was o'erthrown,
And bold Alexis' conquest gain'd a crown:
And worthily he wears it; with his reign
Desired Peace stept on the stage again.
The laws were executed, justice done,
And civil order stayed confusion.
Sloth and her sister Ease were banished,
And all must labour now to get their bread:
Yet Peace is not so settled, but we find
Some work for swords; the foe hath left behind
Some gleanings of his greater strength, that still
Commit great outrages, that rob and kill
All that they meet with, ravishing chaste maids
Both of their life and honour; some such lads
Were they that set upon the virgin crew,
That were redeem'd so worthily by you.
A hundred virgins monthly do frequent
Diana's temple, where with pure intent
They tender their devotions: one is chose
By lot to be their queen, to whom each owes
Her best respect, and for this month I guess
Their queen was Florimel, now votaress.'
Sylvanus here brake off; 'twas late, and sleep,
Like lead, hung on their eyelids, Heav'n them keep.
We'll leave them to their rest awhile, and tell
What to Thealma in this space befell.
Anaxus had no sooner ta'en his leave
Of his glad sister, making her believe
That he would shortly visit her, when she
Led forth her flock to field more joyfully
Than she was wont to do; those rosy stains
That nature wont to lend her from her veins,
Began t' appear upon her cheeks, and raise
Her sickly beauty to contend for praise.
She trick'd herself in all her best attire,
As if she meant this day t' invite Desire
To fall in love with her: her loose hair
Hung on her shoulders, sporting with the air:
Her brow a coronet of rose-buds crown'd,
With loving woodbine's sweet embraces bound.
Two globe-like pearls were pendant to her ears,
And on her breast a costly gem she wears,
An adamant, in fashion like a heart,
Whereon Love sat a-plucking out a dart,
With this same motto graven round about
On a gold border: Sooner in than out.
This gem Clearchus gave her, when, unknown,
At tilt his valour won her for his own.
Instead of bracelets on her wrists, she wore
A pair of golden shackles, chain'd before
Unto a silver ring enamel'd blue,
Whereon in golden letters to the view
This motto was presented: Bound yet free.
And in a true-love's knot a T. and C.
Buckled it fast together; her silk gown
Of grassy green, in equal plaits hung down
Unto the earth: and as she went the flowers,
Which she had broider'd on it at spare hours,
Were wrought so to the life, they seem'd to grow
In a green field, and as the wind did blow,
Sometimes a lily, then a rose takes place,
And blushing seems to hide it in the grass:
And here and there gold oaes 'mong pearls she strew,
That seem'd like shining glow-worms in the dew.
Her sleeves were tinsel, wrought with leaves of green,
In equal distance, spangeled between,
And shadowed over with a thin lawn cloud,
Through which her workmanship more graceful show'd.
A silken scrip and shepherd's crook she had,
The badge of her profession; and thus clad,
Thealma leads her milky drove to field,
Proud of so brave a guide: had you beheld
With what a majesty she trod the ground,
How sweet she smil'd, and angrily she frown'd,
You would have thought it had Minerva been,
Come from high Jove to dwell on earth again.
The reason why she made herself thus fine
Was a sweet dream she had; some power divine
Had whisper'd to her soul Clearchus liv'd,
And that he was a king for whom she griev'd:
She thought she saw old Hymen in Love's bands,
Tie with devotion both their hearts and hands.
She was a-dreaming farther, when her maid
Told her the sun was up: she, well apaid
With what her greedy thoughts had tasted on,
Quickly got up; and hurried with her dream,
Thus tricks herself, having a mind to seem
What she would be, but was not; strong conceit
So wrought upon her; those that are born great
Have higher thoughts than the low-minded clown,
He seldom dreams himself into a crown.
Caretta, modest girl, she thought it strange,
And wonder'd greatly at so sudden change;
But durst not be so bold to ask the cause.
Obedience had prescrib'd her knowledge laws,
And she would not transgress them; yet it made
Her call to mind what garments once she had,
And when her father liv'd, how brave she went,
But, humble-minded wench, she was content.
She knew the vanity of pomp and pride,
Which if not pluck'd off, must be laid aside
One day; and to speak truth, she had a mind
So deck'd with rich endowments, that it shin'd
In all her actions; howsoe'er she goes,
Few maids have such an inside to their clothes.
Yet her dame's love had trick'd her up so brave,
As she thought fit to make her maid, and gave
Her such habiliments to set her forth,
As rather grac'd than stain'd her mistress' worth.
They made her ne'er the prouder, she was still
As ready and obedient to her will.
Thus to the field Thealma and her maid
Cheerfully went; and in a friendly shade
They sat them down to work; the wench had brought,
As her dame bid, her lute; and as she wrought,
Thealma play'd and sang this cheerful air,
As if she then would bid adieu to care.

I

Fly hence, Despair, and heart-benumbing Fears,
Presume no more to fright
Me from my quiet rest:
My budding hopes have wip'd away my tears
And fill'd me with delight,
To cure my wounded breast.

II

Mount up, sad thoughts, that whilom humbly stray'd
Upon the lowly plain,
And fed on nought but grief.
My angry fate with me is well apaid,
And smiles on me again,
To give my heart relief.

III

Rejoice, poor heart, forget these wounding woes
That robb'd thee of thy peace,
And drown'd thee in despair;
Still thy strong passions with a sweet repose
To give my soul some ease,
And rid me of my care.

My thoughts presage, by Fortune's frown,
I shall climb up unto a crown.

She had not ended her delicious lay,
When Cleon and old Rhotus, who that day
Were journeying to court, by chance drew near,
As she was singing, and t' enrich their ear
They made a stand behind the hedge, to hear
Her sweet soul-melting accents, that so won
Their best attention, that when she had done,
The voice had ravish'd so the good old men,
They wish'd in vain she would begin again;
And now they long to see what goddess 'twas
That own'd so sweet a voice, and with such grace
Chid her sad woes away. -- The cause that drew
Rhotus to court was this; after a view
Made by the victor -- king of all his peers,
And well-deserving men, that force or fears
Had banish'd from their own, and Peace begun
To smile upon Arcadia; to shun
The future cavils that his subjects might
Make to recover their usurped right:
He made inquiry what each man possess'd
During Lysander's reign, to re-invest
Them in their honour'd places, and such lands
As tyranny had wrung out of their hands.
And minding now to gratify his friends,
Like a good prince, he for old Rhotus sends;
As he to whom he ow'd his life, and all
The honour he had rose to; -- at his call
Old Rhotus quickly comes, leaving his trade
To an old servant whom long custom had
Wedded to that vocation; so that he
Aim'd at no higher honour than to be
A master fisher. Cleon, who of late,
As you have heard, came from the Lemnian state
In search of one whose name he yet kept close,
With Rhotus, his kind host, to court he goes,
And with him his son Dorus: in the way,
As you have heard, Thealma made them stay,
And not contented to content their ear
With her sweet music, tow'rd her they drew near;
And wond'ring at her bravery and her beauty,
They thought to greet her with a common duty
Would ill become them: humbly on their knee
They tender'd their respect, and, prince-like, she
Thank'd them with nods: her high thoughts still aspire
And their low lootings lift them a step higher.
Old Cleon eyed her with such curious heed,
He thought she might be, what she prov'd indeed,
Thealma: -- her rich gems confirm'd the same,
For some he knew, yet durst not ask her name.
Caretta viewing Rhotus (loving wench)
As if instinct had taught her confidence,
Runs from her mistress, contradicts all fears,
And asks him blessing, speaking in her tears.
'Lives then Caretta?' said he. -- 'Yes,' quoth she,
'I am Caretta, if you'll father me.'
'Then heaven hath heard my prayers, or thine rather,
It is thy goodness makes me still a father.'
A thousand times he kiss'd the girl, whilst she
Receives them as his blessings on her knee.
At length he took her up, and to her dame
With thanks return'd her: saying, 'If a blame
Be due unto your handmaid's fond neglect
To do you service, let your frown reflect
On her poor father. She, as children use,
Is overjoy'd to find the thing they lose.'
'There needs no such apology, kind sir,'
Answer'd Thealma, 'duty bindeth her
More strictly to th' obedience of a father,
Than of a mistress: I commend her rather
For tend'ring what she owed so willingly;
Believ't I love her for it; she and I
Have drank sufficiently of Sorrow's cup,
And were content sometimes to dine and sup
With the sad story of our woes; poor cates
To feed on; yet we bought them at dear rates:
Many a tear they cost us: -- you are blest
In finding of a daughter, and the best
(Though you may think I flatter) that e'er liv'd
To glad a father; as with her I griev'd
For his supposed loss, so being found
I cannot but rejoice with her; the wound
Which you have cur'd in her, gives ease to mine,
And I find comfort in her medicine.
I had a father, but I lost him too,
And wilfully; my girl, so didst not thou;
Nor can I hope to find him, but in wrath
I lost his love in keeping of my faith.'
She would have spoken more, but sighs and tears
Brake from their prison to revive her fears.
Cleon, although he knew her by her speech,
And by some jewels which she wore, too rich
For any shepherdess to wear, forbare
To interrupt her; he so lov'd to hear
Her speak, whom he so oft had heard was drown'd,
And still, good man, he kneel'd upon the ground,
And wept for joy. -- 'Why do you kneel?' quoth she,
'Am I a saint? what do you see in me
To merit such respects? pray rise, 'tis I
That owe a reverence to such gravity,
That kneeling better would become; I know
No worth in me to worl you down so low.'
'Yes, gracious madam, what I pay is due
To none, for aught I know, so much as you:
Is not your name Thealma? hath your eye
Ne'er seen this face at Lemnos? I can spy,
Ev'n through the clouds of grief, the stamp of him
That once I call'd my sovereign; age and time
Hath brought him to his grave, that bed of dust,
Where when our night is come, sleep we all must.
Yet in despite of Death his honour'd name
Lives, and will ever in the vote of Fame.
Death works but on corruption, things divine,
Cleans'd from the dross about them, brighter shine:
So doth his virtues. What was earth is gone,
His heavenly part is left to crown his son,
If I could find him.' You may well conceive
At his sad tale what cause she had to grieve;
Reply she could not, but in sighs and tears,
Yet to his killing language lent her ears;
And had not grief enforc'd him make a pause
She had been silent still; she had most cause
To wail her father's loss. 'Oh, unkind Fate,'
Replied Thealma; 'it is now too late
To wish I'd not offended; cruel Love,
To force me to offend, and not to prove
So kind to let him live to punish her,
Whose fault, I fear me, was his murderer.
O, my Clearchus, 'twas through thee I fell
From a child's duty; yet I do not well
To blame thee for it, sweetly may'st thou sleep,
Thou and thy faults lie buried in the deep,
And I'll not rake them up: ye partial powers,
To number out to me so many hours,
And punish him so soon; why do I live?
Can there be hope that spirits can forgive?'
'Yes, gracious madam, his departing soul
Seal'd up your pardon with a prayer t' enroll
Amongst his honour'd acts, left you a blessing,
And call'd it love, which you do style transgressing,
Left you a dowry worthy a lov'd child,
With whom he willingly was reconcil'd.
Take comfort, then; kings are but men, and they
As well as poor men must return to clay.'
With that she op'd the flood-gates of her eyes,
And offer'd up a wealthy sacrifice
Of thankful tears, to expiate her crimes,
And drown their memory, lest after-times
Might blab them to the world. Rhotus gave ear
To all that past, and lent her many a tear:
The alms that sweet compassion bestows
On a poor heart that wants to cure its woes.
Caretta melted too, though she had found
What her poor mistress griev'd at; all drank round
Of the same briny cup. Rhotus at last
'Gan thus to comfort her: -- 'Madam, though haste
To obey my sovereign's commands would fit
The duty of a subject better; yet
I will incur the hazard of his frown
To do you service; glory and renown,
The mark the noble spirits still aim at
To crown their virtues, did so animate
Alexis, our new sovereign, once my guest,
(And glad he was to be so) that his breast,
Full of high thoughts, could relish no content
In a poor cottage. One day as he went
With me unto our annual games, where he
Puts in for one to try the mastery,
And from them all came off a victor, so
That all admir'd him; on him they bestow
The wreath of conquest; at that time this state
Was govern'd by a tyrant, one that Fate
Thrust in to scourge the people's wickedness,
That had abus'd the blessing of their peace,
As he abus'd his honour, which he gain'd
By cruel usurpation: for he reign'd
More like a beast than man; Fortune at length
Grew weary of him too; weak'ning his strength
By wantoning his people, without law
Or exercise to keep their minds in awe.
Which the exil'd nobility perceiving,
Took heart again, some new strong hope conceiving
Through th' enemies' neglect, to regain that
Which formerly they lost; so it pleas'd Fate
To change the scene: most of the noble youth
The former war consum'd, and to speak truth,
Unless some few old men, there was left none
Worthy to be a leader; all was gone.
Wherefore when they had seen what he could do,
And by that guess'd, what he durst undergo,
(If they were put to 't) they Alexis chose
To lead their warlike troops against their foes.
His valour spake him noble, and 's behaviour
Was such as won upon the people's favour;
His speech so powerful, that the hearer thought
All his entreats commands: so much it wrought
Upon their awful minds: this new-come stranger
They chose to be their shield 'twixt them and danger;
And he deceived not th' expectation
They fix'd upon him: Hylas was o'erthrown,
And he return'd in triumph. Joy was now
Arcadia's theme; and all oblations vow
To their protector Mars: to 'quite him then,
They chose him king, the wonderment of men.
'Twas much, yet what they gave was not their own,
They ow'd him for it; what they gave he won,
And won it bravely. When this youth I found
Hanging upon the craggy rock, half drown'd,
I little dream'd that he should mount so high
As to a crown; yet such a majesty
Shin'd on his look sometimes, as show'd a mind
Too great to be to a low state confin'd:
Though while he lived with me, such sullen clouds
Of grief hung on his brow, and such sad floods,
Rather than briny tears, stream'd from his eyes
As made him seem a man of miseries.
And often as he was alone I heard him
Sigh out Thealma; I as often cheer'd him.
May not this be the man you grieve for so?
Your name's Thealma, and for aught I know,
He may not be Alexis; perhaps fear
Borrow'd that nickname, to conceal him here.
Take comfort, madam, on my life 'tis he,
If my conjecture fail me not; then be
Not so dejected till the truth be tried.' --
'And that shall be my charge,' Cleon replied;
'Thanks, noble Rhotus, this discovery
Binds me to thee for ever: thou and I
Will to the court; could I Anaxus find
My work were ended; if Fate prove so kind,
I hope a comical event shall crown
These tragical beginnings; do not drown
Your hopes (sweet madam) that I so would fain
Live to your comfort, when we meet again,
Which will be speedily; the news we bring,
I trust, shall be Clearchus is a king.'
'Most noble Cleon, thanks, may it prove so,'
Answer'd Thealma; 'yet before you go,
Take this same jewel, this Clearchus gave me,
When first I did consent that he should have me:
And if he still do love, as is a doubt,
For he ne'er hath a power to work love out,
By this you shall discover who he is.
If Fortune have assign'd me such a bliss
As once more to be his, she makes amends
For all my sorrow; but if she intends
Still to afflict me, I can suffer still,
And tire her cruelty, though 't be to kill:
I have a patience that she cannot wrong
With all her flatteries; a heart too strong
To shake at such a weak artillery,
As is her frowns: no, Cleon, I dare die,
And could I meet death nobly I would so,
Rather than be her scorn, and take up woe
At interest to enrich her power, that grows
Greater by grieving at our overthrows.
No, Cleon, I can be as well content
With my poor cot, this woolly regiment,
As with a palace; or to govern men;
And I can queen it when time serves again.
Go, and my hopes go with you; if stern Fate
Bid you return with news to mend my state,
I'll welcome it with thanks; if not, I know
The worst on't, Cleon; I am now as low
As she can throw me.' -- Thus resolv'd they leave her,
And to the court the two lords wend together,
Leaving young Dorus, Cleon's son, behind,
To wait upon Thealma; Love was kind
In that to fair Caretta, that till now
Ne'er felt what passion meant, yet knew not how
To vent it but with blushes; modest shame
Forbade it yet to grow into a flame.
Love works by time, and time will make her bolder;
Talk warms desire, when absence makes it colder.
Home now Thealma wends 'twixt hope and fear;
Sometimes she smiles; anon she drops a tear
That stole along her cheeks, and falling down
Into a pearl, it freezeth with her frown.
The sun was set before she reach'd the fold,
And sparkling Vesper Night's approach has told.
She left the lovers to enfold her sheep,
And in she went resolv'd to sup with sleep,
If thought would give her leave: unto her rest
We leave her for awhile. -- Sylvanus' guest
You know we lately left under his cure,
And now it is high time, my Muse to lure
From her too tedious weary flight, and tell
What to Anaxus that brave youth befell.
Let's pause awhile, -- she'll make the better flight,
The following lines shall feed your appetite.
Bright Cynthia twice her silver horns had chang'd,
And through the zodiac's twelve signs had rang'd,
Before Anaxus' wounds were throughly well;
In the meanwhile Sylvanus 'gan to tell
Him of his future fortune; for he knew
From what sad cause his mind's distemper grew.
He had ylearnt, as you have heard, while-ere,
The art of wise soothsaying, and could clear
The doubts that puzzle the strong working brain
And make the intricat'st anigmas plain:
His younger years in Egypt's schools he spent,
From whence he suck'd this knowledge; not content
With what the common sciences could teach,
Those were too shallow springs for his deep reach,
That aim'd at Learning's utmost: that kid skill
That out-doth nature, hence he suck'd his fill
Of divine knowledge: 'twas not all inspir'd,
It cost some pains that made him so admir'd;
He told him what he was, what country air
He first drew in, what his intendments were;
How 'twas for love, he left his native soil
To tread upon Arcadia, and with toil
Sought what he must not have, a lovely dame;
But art went not so far to tell her name.
Heav'n, that doth control art, would not reveal it
Or if it did, he wisely did conceal it.
He told him of his father's death, and that
The state had lately sent for him, whereat
Anaxus starting; -- 'Stay, old man,' quoth he,
'I'll hear no more! thy cruel augury
Wounds me at heart; can thy art cure that wound,
Sylvanus? No, -- no medicine is found
In human skill to cure that tender part:
When the soul's pain'd, it finds no help of Art.'
'Yet, sir,' said he, 'art may have power to ease,
Though not to cure, the sick soul's maladies:
And though my sadder news distaste your ear,
'Tis such as I must tell, and you must hear.
I know you're sent for, strict inquiry's made
Through all Arcadia for you; plots are laid
(By some that wish not well unto the state)
How to deprive you of a crown; but Fate
Is pleas'd not so to have it, and by me
Chalks out a way for you to sovereignty.
I say again, she whom you love, though true,
And spotless-constant, must not marry you.
One you call sister, to divide the strife,
Fate hath decreed, must be your queen and wife.
Hie to th' Arcadian court, what there you hear
Perhaps may trouble you; but do not fear,
All shall be well at length, the bless'd event
Shall crown your wishes with a sweet content.
Inquire no farther, I must tell no more,
Here Fate sets limits to my art: -- before
You have gone half a league, under a beech,
You'll find your man inquiring of a witch
What is become of you? the beldame's sly,
And will allure by her strange subtlety
The strongest faith to error; have a care
She tempt you not to fall in love with air.
She'll show you wonders; you shall see and hear
That which shall rarely please both eye and ear.
But be not won to wantonness, but shun
All her enticements: credit not, my son,
That what you see is real; -- Son, be wise,
And set a watch before thy ears and eyes.
She loves thee not, and will work all she can
To give thy crown unto another man.
But fear not, there's a power above her skill
Will have it otherwise, do what she will.
But Fate thinks fit to try thy constancy,
Then arm thyself against her sorcery.
Take this same herb, and if thy strength begin
To fail at any time, and lean to sin,
Smell to 't, and wipe thine eyes therewith, that shall
Quicken thy duller sight to dislike all,
And reinforce thy reason to oppose
All her temptations, and fantastic shows.
Farewell, Anaxus, hie to court, my son,
Or I'll be there before thee!' -- 'Twas high noon,
When after many thanks to his kind host,
Anaxus took his leave, and quickly lost
The way he was directed; on he went
As his Fate led him, full of hardiment.
Down in a gloomy valley, thick with shade,
Which two aspiring hanging rocks had made
That shut out day, and barr'd the glorious sun
From prying into th' actions there done;
Set full of box, and cypress, poplar, yew,
And hateful elder that in thickets grew,
Amongst whose boughs the screech-owl and night-crow
Sadly recount their prophecies of woe,
Where leather-winged bats, that hate the light,
Fan the thick air, more sooty than the night.
The ground o'ergrown with weeds, and bushy shrubs,
Where milky hedgehogs nurse their prickly cubs:
And here and there a mandrake grows, that strikes
The hearers dead with their loud fatal shrieks;
Under whose spreading leaves the ugly toad,
The adder, and the snake make their abode.
Here dwelt Orandra, so the witch was hight,
And thither had she toal'd him by a sleight:
She knew Anaxus was to go to court,
And, envying virtue, she made it her sport
To hinder him, sending her airy spies
Forth with delusions to entrap his eyes,
And captivate his ear with various tones,
Sometimes of joy, and otherwhiles of moans:
Sometimes he hears delicious sweet lays
Wrought with such curious descant as would raise
Attention in a stone: -- anon a groan
Reacheth his ear, as if it came from one
That crav'd his help; and by and by he spies
A beauteous virgin with such catching eyes
As would have fir'd a hermit's chill desires
Into a flame; his greedy eye admires
The more than human beauty of her face,
And much ado he had to shun the grace:
Conceit had shap'd her out so like his love,
That he was once about in vain to prove,
Whether 'twas his Clarinda, yea or no,
But he bethought him of his herb, and so
The shadow vanish'd, -- many a weary step
It led the prince, that pace with it still kept,
Until it brought him by a hellish power
Unto the entrance of Orandra's bower,
Where underneath an elder-tree he spied
His man Pandevius, pale and hollow-eyed,
Inquiring of the cunning witch what fate
Betid his master; they were newly sate
When his approach disturb'd them; up she rose,
And tow'rd Anaxus (envious hag) she goes;
Pandevius she had charm'd into a maze,
And struck him mute, all he could do was gaze.
He call'd him by his name, but all in vain,
Echo returns Pandevius back again;
Which made him wonder, when a sudden fear
Shook all his joints; she, cunning hag, drew near,
And smelling to his herb, he recollects
His wand'ring spirits, and with anger checks
His coward fears; resolv'd now to outdare
The worst of dangers, whatsoe'er they were;
He eyed her o'er and o'er, and still his eye
Found some addition to deformity.
An old decrepid hag she was, grown white
With frosty age, and wither'd with despite
And self-consuming hate; in furs yclad,
And on her head a thrummy cap she had.
Her knotty locks, like to Alecto's snakes,
Hang down about her shoulders, which she shakes
Into disorder; on her furrowed brow
One might perceive Time had been long at plough.
Her eyes like candle-snuffs by age sunk quite
Into their sockets, yet like cat's-eyes, bright:
And in the darkest night like fire they shin'd,
The ever open windows of her mind.
Her swarthy cheeks, Time, that all things consumes,
Had hollowed flat unto her toothless gums;
Her hairy brows did meet above her nose,
That like an eagle's beak so crooked grows,
It well nigh kiss'd her chin; thick brist'led hair
Grew on her upper lip, and here and there
A rugged wart with grisly hairs behung;
Her breasts shrunk up, her nails and fingers long,
Her left leant on a staff, in her right hand
She always carried her enchanting wand.
Splay-footed, beyond nature, every part
So patternless deform'd, 'twould puzzle Art
To make her counterfeit; only her tongue,
Nature had that most exquisitely strung.
Her oily language came so smoothly from her,
And her quaint action did so well become her,
Her winning rhetoric met with no trips,
But chain'd the dull'st attention to her lips.
With greediness he heard, and though he strove
To shake her off, the more her words did move.
She woo'd him to her cell, call'd him her son,
And with fair promises she quickly won
Him to her beck; or rather he to try
What she could do, did willingly comply
With her request; into her cell he goes,
And with his herb he rubs his eyes and nose.
His man stood like an image still, and stared
As if some fearful prodigy had scared
Life from its earthly mansion; but she soon
Unloos'd the charms, and after them he run.
Her cell was hewn out of the marble rock,
By more than human Art; she need not knock,
The door stood always open, large and wide,
Grown o'er with woolly moss on either side,
And interwove with Ivy's flattering twines,
Through which the carbuncle and diamond shines;
Not set by Art, but there by Nature sown
At the World's birth, so star-like bright they shone.
They serv'd instead of tapers to give light
To the dark entry, where perpetual night,
Friend to black deeds, and sire of ignorance,
Shuts out all knowledge; lest her eye by chance
Might bring to light her follies: in they went,
The ground was strew'd with flowers, whose sweet scent
Mix'd with the choice perfumes from India brought,
Intoxicates his brain, and quickly caught
His credulous sense; the walls were gilt, and set
With precious stones, and all the roof was fret
With a gold vine, whose straggling branches spread
All o'er the arch; the swelling grapes were red;
This Art had made of rubies cluster'd so,
To the quick'st eye they more than seem'd to grow;
About the walls lascivious pictures hung,
Such as were of loose Ovid sometimes sung.
On either side a crew of dwarfish elves
Held waxen tapers, taller than themselves:
Yet so well shap'd unto their little stature,
So angel-like in face, so sweet in feature.
Their rich attire so diff'ring; yet so well
Becoming her that wore it, none could tell
Which was the fairest, which the handsomest deck'd,
Or which of them Desire would soon'st affect.
After a low salute they all 'gan sing,
And circle in the stranger in a ring.
Orandra to her charms was stepp'd aside,
Leaving her guest half-won and wanton-eyed.
He had forgot his herb: cunning delight
Had so bewitch'd his ears, and blear'd his sight,
And captivated all his senses so,
That he was not himself; nor did he know
What place he was in, or how he came there,
But greedily he feeds his eye and ear
With what would ruin him; but that kind Fate,
That contradicts all power subordinate,
Prevented Art's intents; a silly fly
(As there were many) light into his eye,
And forc'd a tear to drown herself, when he
Impatient that he could not so well see,
Lifts up his hand wherein the herb he held,
To wipe away the moisture that distill'd
From his still smarting eye; he smelt the scent
Of the strong herb, and so incontinent
Recovered his stray wit: his eyes were clear'd,
And now he lik'd not what he saw or heard.
This knew Orandra well; and plots anew
How to entrap him: next unto his view
She represents a banquet, usher'd in
By such a shape, as she was sure would win
His appetite to taste; so like she was
To his Clarinda, both in shape and face.
So voic'd, so habited, of the same gait
And comely gesture; on her brow in state
State such a princely majesty, as he
Had noted in Clarinda; save that she
Had a more wanton eye, that here and there
Roll'd up and down, not settling anywhere.
Down on the ground she falls his hand to kiss,
And with her tears bedews it; cold as ice
He felt her lips, that yet inflam'd him so,
That he was all on fire the truth to know,
Whether she was the same she did appear,
Or whether some fantastic form it were,
Fashioned in his imagination
By his still working thoughts; so fix'd upon
His lov'd Clarinda, that his fancy strove,
Even with her shadow, to express his love.
He took her up, and was about to 'quite
Her tears with kisses, when to clear his sight
He wipes his eyes, and with his herb of grace
Smooths his rough lip to kiss with greater grace.
So the herb's virtue stole into his brain,
And kept him off; hardly did he refrain
From sucking in destruction from her lip:
Sin's cup will poison at the smallest sip.
She weeps, and wooes again with subtleness,
And with a frown she chides his backwardness.
'Have you so soon, sweet prince, (said she,) forgot
Your own belov'd Clarinda? are you not
The same you were, that you so slightly set
By her that once you made the cabinet
Of your choice counsel? hath my constant heart
(As Innocence unspotted) no desert,
To keep me yours? or hath some worthier love
Stole your affections? what is it should move
You to dislike so soon? must I still taste
No other dish but sorrow? when we last
Emptied our souls into each other's breast
It was not so, Anaxus, or at least
I thought you meant what then you promis'd me':
With that she wept afresh. -- 'Are you then she?'
Answer'd Anaxus, 'doth Clarinda live?'
Just thus she spake, how fain would I believe!
With that she seem'd to fall into a swound,
And stooping down to raise her from the ground,
That he must use both hands to make more haste,
He puts his herb into his mouth, whose taste
Soon chang'd his mind: he lifts her but in vain;
His hands fell off, and she fell down again.
With that she lent him such a frown as would
Have kill'd a common lover, and made cold
Ev'n lust itself: Orandra fumes and frets,
And stamping, bites the lip to see her nets
So long a-catching souls: once more she looks
Into the secrets of her hellish books.
She bares her breast, and gives her spirits suck,
And drinks a cup in hope of better luck.
Anaxus still the airy shadow ey'd,
Which he thought dead, conceit the truth belied.
This cunning failing, out she drew a knife,
And as if she had meant to let out life,
In passion aim'd it at her breast, and said,
'Farewell, Anaxus'; but her hand he staid,
And from her wrung her knife: 'Art thou,' said he,
'Clarinda then?' and kiss'd her: 'can it be
That fate so loves Anaxus?' Still with tears
She answer'd him, and more divine appears.
His herb was now forgot, lust had stol'n in
With a loose kiss, and tempted him to sin.
A bed was near, and she seem'd sick and faint:
(Women to Cupid's sport need no constraint)
Down on the bed she threw herself, and turn'd
Her blushing beauty from him; still he burn'd,
And with intreaties her seeming coyness woo'd
To meet with his embraces, and bestow'd
Volleys of kisses on her icy cheek,
That wrangled with their fire: she would not speak,
But sigh'd and sobb'd, that bellows of desire
Into a flame had quickly blown his fire.
Now did Orandra laugh within her sleeve,
Thinking all was cock-sure, one might perceive
Ev'n in that wither'd hag, an amorous look,
'Twas for herself she train'd them to her hook.
Softly she steals unto the bed, and peeps
Betwixt the curtains, nearer then she creeps,
And to her spirit whispers her command:
With that the spirit seem'd to kiss his hand,
Which stew'd him into sweat; a cloth he wants
To wipe his face, and his inflam'd heart pants
Beyond its usual temper for some air,
To cool the passions that lay boiling there.
Out of his bosom, where his nosegay was,
He draws a napkin, so it came to pass
In plucking of it out, the nosegay fell
Upon her face; when with a countenance fell,
She started from him, curs'd him, and with threats
Leap'd from the bed: Orandra stamps and frets,
And bit her lip; she knew the cause full well
Why her charms fail'd her, but yet could not tell
With all her art, how she might get from him
That sovereign herb; for touch it she durst not,
And at this time Anaxus had forgot
The virtue of it, as in a maze he lay
At her soon starting from him. -- 'Cast away,'
Said she, 'that stinking nosegay': with that he
Bethinks of it; but it was well that she
Put him in mind on't; it had else been lost,
He little knew how much that nosegay cost.
He seeks for't, finds it, smells to't, and by it
Turns out his lust, and reassumes his wit.
'No, hag,' said he, 'if this do vex thee so,
I'll make thee glad to smell to't ere I go.'
With that he leaps unto her, cursing ripe,
And with his herb the witch's face did wipe.
Whereat she fell to earth, the lights went out,
And darkness hung the chamber round about.
A hellish yelling noise was eachwhere heard,
Sounds that would make e'en Valour's self afear'd;
A stifling scent of brimstone he might smell,
Such as the damned souls suck in in hell.
He kept his powerful herb still at his nose,
And tow'rd the entry of the room he goes.
For though 'twas more than midnight dark, yet he
Found the way out again. Orandra she
Threw curses after him, and he might hear
Her often say, 'I'll fit you for this gear.'
At the cave's mouth he found his careless man,
Wrapp'd in the witch's charms; do what he can
He could not wake him, such sweet lullabies
Pleasure sang to him, till he rubb'd his eyes
With this rare herb; then starting up he leaps
For joy to see his master, that accepts
His love with thanks; from thence they make no haste,
Yet where they were they knew not; at the last
They came into a plain, where a small brook
Did snake-like creep with many a winding nook,
And by it here and there a shepherd's cot
Was lowly built. To one of them they got
T' inquire the way to court: now night drew on,
It was a good old man they lighted on,
Hight Eubolus, of no mean parentage,
But courtly educated, wise and sage,
Able to teach, yet willing to enrich
His knowledge with discourses, smooth in speech,
Yet not of many words; he entertains
Them with desire, nor spares for any pains
To amplify a welcome: -- with their host
Awhile we leave them. --
Now my Muse must post
Unto Alexis' court; lend me, I pray,
Your gentle aid to guide her on the way.
Alexis, after many civil broils
Against his rebel subjects, rich in spoils,
Being settled in his throne in restful peace,
The laws establish'd (and his people's ease
Proclaim'd) he 'gan to call into his mind
The fore-past times, and soon his thoughts did find
Matter to work on: -- First, Thealma now
Came to his remembrance, where, and when, and how
He won and lost her; this sad thought did so
Afflict his mind, that he was soon brought low
Into so deep a melancholy, that
He minded nothing else: nor car'd he what
Became of state affairs, and though a king,
With pleasure he enjoy'd not anything.
His sleep goes from him, meats and drinks he loathes,
And to his sadder thoughts he suits his clothes.
Mirth seemed a disease, good counsel, folly,
Unless it serv'd to humour melancholy.
All his delight, if one may call't delight,
Was to find turtles, that both day and night
Mourn'd up and down his chamber, and with groans
His heart consented to their hollow moans;
Then with his tears, the briny drink they drank,
He would bedew them: while his love to thank,
They nestle in his bosom, where, poor birds,
With piteous mournful tones, instead of words,
They seem'd to moan their master: thus did he
Spend his sad hours; and what the cause might be
His nobles could not guess, nor would he tell;
For turtle-like he lov'd his griefs too well
To let them leave his breast; he kept them in,
And inwardly they spake to none but him.
Thus was it with him more than half a year,
Till a new bus'ness had set ope his ear
To entertain advice: -- the first that brake
The matter to him, or that durst to speak
Unto the king, was bold Anaxocles,
One that bent all his study for the peace
And safety of his country; the right hand
Of the Arcadian state, to whose command
Was given the city's citadel: a place
Of chiefest trust, and this the bus'ness was.
The rebels, as you heard, being driven hence,
Despairing e'er to expiate their offence
By a too late submission, fled to sea
In such poor barks as they could get, where they
Roam'd up and down which way the winds did please
Without or chart or compass: the rough seas
Enrag'd with such a load of wickedness,
Grew big with billows, great was their distress;
Yet was their courage greater; desperate men
Grow valianter with suffering: in their ken
Was a small island; thitherward they steer
Their weather-beaten barks, each plies his gear;
Some row, some pump, some trim the ragged sails,
All were employ'd, and industry prevails.
They reach the land at length, their food grew scant,
And now they purvey to supply their want.
The island was but small, yet full of fruits,
That sprang by nature, as potato roots,
Rice, figs, and almonds, with a many more:
Till now unpeopled; on this happy shore
With joy they bring their barks, of which the best
They rig anew, with tackling from the rest.
Some six or seven they serviceable made,
They stand not long to study where to trade:
Revenge prompts that unto them; piracy
Was the first thing they thought on, and their eye
Was chiefly on the Arcadian shore, that lay
But three leagues off: their theft is not by day
So much as night, unless some straggling ship
Lights in their trap by chance: closely they keep
Themselves in rocky creeks, till sun be down
And all abed, -- then steal they to some town
Or scatt'ring village; which they fire, and take
What spoils they find, then to their ship they make,
And none knew who did harm them; many a night
Had they us'd this free-booting; many a fright
And great heart's-grieving loss the unarm'd poor
Were nightly put to; and to cure the sore
The old man rous'd the king Alexis, chid
His needless sorrow: told him that he did
Not like a man, much less like one whose health
Strengthens the sinews of a commonwealth.
He lays his people's grievances before him
And told him how with tears they did implore him
To right their wrongs: -- at first Alexis frown'd,
And in an angry cloud his looks were drown'd:
A sign of rain or thunder; 'twas but rain,
Some few drops fell, and the sun shone again.
Alexis rising, thanks his prudent care,
And as his father lov'd him; all prepare
T' un-nest these pirates: ships were ready made,
And some land-forces; as well to invade,
As for defence: the pirates now were strong,
By discontents that to their party throng.
Not so much friend to the late tyrant king,
As thirsting after novelty, the thing
That tickles the rude vulgar: one strong hold
The cunning foe had gain'd, and grew so bold
To dare all opposition; night and day
They spoil the country, make weak towns their prey;
And those that will not join with them they kill,
Not sparing sex, nor age, proud of their ill
By their rich booties: against these the king
Makes both by sea and land. It was now Spring,
And Flora had embroider'd all the meads
With sweet variety; forth the king leads
A chosen troop of horse, with some few foot,
But those experienc'd men, that would stand to't,
If any need were; to the sea he sends
Anaxocles, and to his care commends
His marine forces; he was bold and wise,
And had been custom'd to the seaman's guise.
He gave it out that he was bound for Thrace
To fetch a princely lady thence, that was
To be th' Arcadian queen, which made the foe
The more secure and careless: forth they go
Assur'd of victory, and prosperous gales,
As Fate would have't, had quickly fill'd their sails:
The pirates' rendezvous was soon discover'd
By scouting pinnaces, that closely hover'd
Under the lee of a high promontory,
That stretch'd into the sea; and now day's glory
Night's sable curtains had eclips'd, the time
When robbers use to perpetrate a crime.
The pirates steal aboard, and by good hap,
Without suspect, they fell into the trap
Anaxocles had laid; for wisely, he
Divides his fleet in squadrons, which might be
Ready on all sides: every squadron had
Four ships well mann'd, that where'er the foe made
He might be met with; one kept near the shore,
Two kept at sea, the other squadron bore
Up tow'rd the isle, yet with a wheeling course,
Not so far distant, but the whole fleet's force
Might quickly be united if need were.
Between these come the pirates without fear,
Making tow'rds th' Arcadian shore, where soon
Th' Arcadians met them; now the fight begun,
And it was hot, the foe was three to one,
And some big ships: Anaxocles alone
Gave the first onset. Cynthia then shone bright,
And now the foe perceives with whom they fight,
And they fought stoutly, scorning that so few
Should hold them tack so long: then nearer drew
The two side squadrons, and were within shot
Before they spied them: now the fight grew hot:
Despair put valour to the angry foe,
And bravely they stand to 't, give many a blow.
Three ships of theirs were sunk at last, and then
They seek to fly unto their isle again;
When the fourth squadron met them, and afresh
Set on them, half o'ercome with weariness;
Yet yield they would not, but still fought it out;
By this the other ships were come about,
And hemm'd them in; where, seeing no hope left,
Whom what the sword did not ex'cute for theft,
Leap'd in the sea and drown'd them; that small force
They'd left within the isle fared rather worse
Than better; all were put to the sword,
And their nest fir'd; much booty brought aboard,
With store of corn, and much 'munition
For war; thus glad of what was done
The fleet with joy returns. The like success
Alexis had by land, at unawares
Surprising their chief fort: some lucky stars
Lending their helpful influence that night,
Yet for the time it was a bloody fight.
At length the fainting foe gave back, and fled
Out of a postern-gate with fear half dead,
And thinking in the port to meet their fleet,
They meet with death; an ambush did them greet
With such a furious shock, that all were slain,
Only some straggling cowards did remain,
That hid themselves in bushes, which next day
The soldiers found, and made their lives a prey
Unto their killing anger. -- Home the king
Returns in triumph, whilst Pan's priests do sing
Harmonious odes in honour of that day,
And dainty nymphs with flowers strew'd the way.
Among the which he spied a beauteous maid,
Of a majestic count'nance, and array'd
After so new a manner, that his eye
Imp'd with delight upon her, and to try
Whether her mind did answer to her face,
He call'd her to him, when with modest grace
She fearless came, and humbly on her knee
Wish'd a long life unto his majesty.
He ask'd her name; -- she answer'd, Florimel;
And blushing, made her beauty to excel,
That all the thoughts of his Thealma now
Were hush'd and smothered; -- upon her brow
Sate such an awful majesty, that he
Was conquer'd ere oppos'd; 'twas strange to see
How strangely he was alter'd: -- still she kneels,
And still his heart burns with the fire it feels.
At last the victor, pris'ner caught with love,
Lights from his chariot, and begins to prove
The sweetness of the bait that took his heart,
And with a kiss uprears her: yet Love's dart
Fir'd not her breast to welcome his affection,
Only hot sunny beams with their reflection
A little warm'd her; -- then he questions who
Her parents were, and why apparell'd so.
Where was her dwelling, in what country born?
And would have kiss'd her, when 'twixt fear and scorn
She put him from her; 'My dread lord,' said she,
'My birth is not ignoble, nor was he
That I call father, though in some disgrace,
Worthy his unjust exile: what he was,
And where I first breath'd air, pardon, dread king,
I dare not, must not tell you: none shall wring
That secret from me: what I am, you see,
Or by my habit you may guess to be
Diana's votaress: the cause, great sir,
That prompts me to this boldness to appear
Before your majesty, was what I owe,
And ever shall, unto your valour: know,
(For you may have forgot it) I am she
Who with my good old father you set free,
Some two years since, from bloody-minded men
That would have kill'd my honour, had not then
Your timely aid stepp'd in to rescue me,
And snatch'd my bleeding father, dear to me
As was mine honour, even from the jaw of death,
And given us both a longer stock of breath.
'Twas this, great king, that drew me with this train,
From our devotion to review again
My honour's best preserver, and to pay
The debt of thanks I owe you: many a day
I've wish'd for such a time, and heav'n at last
Hath made me happy in it.' -- Day was now
Well nigh spent, and cattle 'gan to low
Homewards t' unlade their milky bags, when she
Her speech had ended; every one might see
Love sit in triumph on Alexis' brow,
Firing the captive conqueror, and now
He 'gins to court her, and Love tipp'd his tongue
With winning rhetoric; her hand he wrung,
And would again have kiss'd her; but the maid
With a coy blush, 'twixt angry and afraid,
Flung from the king, and with her virgin train,
Fled swift as roes unto their bower again.
Alexis would have follow'd, but he knew
What eyes were on him, and himself withdrew
Into his chariot, and to courtward went
With all his nobles, hiding his intent
Under the veil of pleasant light discourse,
Which some mark'd well enough; -- that night perforce
They all were glad within the open plain
To pitch their tents, where many a shepherd swain
Upon their pipes troll'd out their evening lays
In various accents, emulous of praise.
It was a dainty pleasure for to hear
How the sweet nightingales their throats did tear,
Envying their skill, or taken with delight,
As I think rather, that the still-born night
Afforded such co-partners of their woes.
And at a close from the pure streams that flows
Out of the rocky caverns, not far off,
Echo replied aloud, and seem'd to scoff
At their sweet-sounding airs: this did so take
Love-sick Alexis, willingly awake,
That he did wish 't had been a week to-day
T' have heard them still; but Time for none will stay.
The wearied shepherds at their usual hour
Put up their pipes, and in their straw-thatch'd bower
Slept out the rest of night: the king likewise,
Tir'd with a weary march, shut in his eyes
Within their leaden fold, all hush'd and still;
Thus for awhile we leave him, till my quill,
Weary and blunted with so long a story,
Rest to be sharpen'd, and then she is for ye.
No sooner welcome day, with glimmering light,
Began to chase away the shades of night,
But Echo wakens, rous'd by the shepherd swains,
And back reverberates their louder strains.
The airy choir had tun'd their slender throats,
And fill'd the bushy groves with their sweet notes;
The flocks were soon unfolded, and the lambs
Kneel for a breakfast to their milky dams.
And now Aurora blushing greets the world,
And o'er her face a curled mantle hurl'd,
Foretelling a fair day; the soldiers now
Began to bustle; some their trumpets blow,
Some beat their drums, that all the camp throughout
With sounds of war they drill the soldiers out.
The nobles soon were hors'd, expecting still
Their king's approach, but he had slept but ill,
And was but then arising, heavy-ey'd,
And cloudy-look'd, and something ill beside.
But he did cunningly dissemble it
Before his nobles: all that they could get
From him was, that a dream he had that night
Did much disturb him; yet seem'd he make slight
Of what so troubled him; -- but up, he cheers
His soldiers with his presence, and appears
As hearty as his troubled thoughts gave leave,
So that, except his groans, none could perceive
Much alteration in him: -- toward court
The army marches, and swift-wing'd report
Had soon divulg'd their coming; by the way
He meets old Memnon, who, as you heard say,
Was sire to Florimel, good man, he then
Was going to his daughter: when his men,
Then in the army, in his passing by
Tender'd their duty to him lovingly.
He bids them welcome home; the king drew near,
And question'd who that poor man was, and where
His dwelling was; and why those soldiers show'd
Such reverence to him. ''Twas but what they ow'd,'
Answer'd a stander-by; 'he is their lord,
And one that merits more than they afford,
If worth were rightly valued, gracious sir.
His name is Memnon, if one may believe
His own report; yet sure, as I conceive,
He's more than what he seems.' The army then
Had made a stand, when Memnon and his men
Were call'd before the king: the good old man
With tears, that joy brought forth, this wise began:
'To welcome home Alexis, ever be
Those sacred powers bless'd, that lets me see
My sovereign's safe return: still may that power
Strengthen your arm to conquer: heav'n still shower
Its choicest blessings on my sovereign,
My life's preserver: -- welcome home again.
I would my girl were here,' with that he wept,
When from his chariot Alexis stepp'd
And lovingly embrac'd him: he knew well
That this was Memnon, sire to Florimel;
And [call'd] to mind how he had set them free
From more than cruel rebels; glad was he
So luckily to meet him: from his wrist
He took a jewel: 'twas an Amethyst,
Made like a heart with wings: -- the motto this,
Love gives me wings: and with a-----kiss
He gave it to old Memnon: 'Bear,' said he,
'This jewel to your child, and let me see
Both you and her at court; fail not with speed
To let me see you there: old man, I need
Thy grave advice'; all wonder'd at the deed,
But chiefly Memnon. -- 'Father,' said the kind,
'I'll think upon your men: fail not to bring
Your daughter with you.' -- So his leave he takes,
And ravish'd Memnon tow'rd his daughter makes.
The army could not reach the court that night,
But lay in open field, yet within sight
Of Pallimando, where the court then lay.
For greater state, Alexis the next day
Purpos'd to enter it; the townsmen they
In the meantime prepare what cost they may,
With shows and presents to bid welcome home
Their victor king; and amongst them were some
Studied orations, and compos'd new lays
In honour of their king: the oaks and bays
Were woven into garlands for to crown
Such as by valour had gain'd most renown.
Scarce could the joyful people sleep that night,
In expectation of the morrow's sight.
The morrow came, and in triumphant wise
The king and soldiers enter: all men's eyes
Were fix'd upon the king with such desire,
As if they'd seen a god, while Music's choir
Fill'd every corner with resounding lays,
That spake the conquering Alexis' praise,
Drown'd in the vulgar's louder acclamations;
'Twould ask an age to tell what preparations
Were made to entertain him, and my Muse
Grows somewhat weary: these triumphant shows
Continued long, yet seem'd to end too soon,
The people wish'd 't had been a week to noon.
By noon the king was hous'd, and order given
To pay the soldiers; now it grew tow'rd even,
And all repair to rest, so I to mine,
And leave them buried in sound sleep and wine.
I'll tell you more hereafter; friendship's laws
Will not deny a friendly rest and pause.
You heard some few leaves past Alexis had
A dream that troubled him, and made him sad;
Now being come home it 'gan revive afresh
Within his memory, and much oppress
The pensive king: Sylvanus, who you heard
Was good at divinations, had steer'd
His course, as Fate would have him, then to court,
Belov'd and reverenc'd of the nobler sort,
And sainted by the vulgar: -- that that brought
The old man thither, was, for that he thought
To meet Anaxus there; but he you heard
Was otherwise employ'd: -- the nobles cheer'd
Their love-sick king with the welcome report
Of old Sylvanus coming to the court;
For he had heard great talk of him before,
And now thought long to see him, and the more
Because he hop'd to learn from his tried art,
What his dream meant, that so disturb'd his heart.
Sylvanus soon was sent for, and soon came.
At his first greeting he began to blame
The amorous king for giving way to grief
Upon so slight occasion, but relief
Was rather needful now than admonition,
That came too late; his mind lack'd a physician,
And healing comforts were to be applied
Unto his wounds before they mortified.
Sylvanus therefore wish'd him to disclose
The troublous dream he had, and to repose
His trust in that strong pow'r that only could
Discover hidden secrets, and unfold
The riddle of a dream, and that his skill
Was but inspir'd by that Great Power, whose will
By weakest means is oftentimes made known.
'Methought,' Alexis said, 'I was alone
By the sea-side, noting the prouder waves,
How mountain-like they swell, and with loud braves
Threaten the bounden shore; when from the main
I see a turtle rise, the wings and train
Well nigh deplum'd, and making piteous moan,
And by a mark I guess'd it was mine own,
And flying tow'rd me; suddenly a kite
Swoopt at the bird, and in her feeble flight
Soon seiz'd upon her, crying, as I thought,
To me for help: -- no sooner was she caught,
Whenas an eagle seeking after prey,
Flew tow'rd the main land from the isles this way,
And spying of the kite, the kingly fowl
Seiz'd on her straight; the turtle, pretty soul,
Was by this means set free, and faintly gate
Upon the eagle's back, ordain'd by Fate
To be preserv'd: full glad was I to see
Her so escape; but the eagle suddenly
Soaring aloft to seaward, took her flight,
And in a moment both were out of sight,
And left me betwixt joy and sorrow; sad
For the bird's flight, yet for her freedom glad.
Then, to my thinking, I espied a swain
Running affrighted tow'rd me o'er the plain.
Upon his wrist methought a turtle sate,
Not much unlike th' other mourning for 's mate:
Only this difference was; upon her head
She had a tuft of feathers blue and red,
In fashion of a crown; it did me good
To see how proudly the poor turtle stood
Pruning herself, as if she scorn'd her thrall;
If harmless doves can scorn that have no gall.
I was so much in love with the poor bird,
I wish'd it mine, methought the swain I heard
Cry out for help to me: with that I spied
A lion running after him glare-eyed,
And full of rage; fear made the swain let go
The lovely turtle to escape his foe;
The bird, no sooner loose, made to the beast,
And in his curled locks plats out a nest.
The beast not minding any other prey,
Save what he had, ran bellowing away,
As overjoy'd; and as, methought, I strove
To follow him, I wak'd, and all did prove
But a deluding dream; yet such a one
As nightly troubles me to think upon.
The powers above direct thee to unfold
The myst'ry of it.' -- 'Twas no sooner told,
When old Sylvanus, with a cheerful smile,
Answer'd the king in a familiar style.
'You are in love, dread sovereign, and with two,
One will not serve your turn: look what you do,
You will go near to lose them both; but Fate
At length will give you one to be your mate:
She that loves you, you must not love as wife,
And she that loves another as her life
Shall be th' Arcadian queen; take comfort then,
The two lost turtles you will find again.
Thus much my art doth tell me, more than this
I dare not let you know: my counsel is,
You would with patience note the working fates,
That joy proves best that's bought at dearest rates.'
He would not name Anaxus, though he knew
He should not make one in what was to ensue;
And would not hasten sorrow sooner on him,
Than he himself would after pull upon him.
The king was somewhat satisfied with what
Sylvanus told him; and subscrib'd to fate.
He puts on cheerful looks, and to his lords
No little comfort by his health affords.
He sits in council, and recalls those peers
That liv'd conceal'd in exile many years,
'Mongst whom was Rhotus, Memnon, and some others;
And though with cunning his desire he smothers,
Yet did he not forget fair Florimel,
Of whom my straggling Muse is now to tell.
Memnon, you heard, was going to his child,
When the king left him with a heart o'erfill'd
With joy and hopes: some marks he had espied
About Alexis, which so fortified
His strong conjecture that he was the man
He ever took him for, that he began
With youthful cheerfulness to chide his age,
That stole so soon upon him with presage,
Sweet'ning his saucy sorrows that had sour'd
Life's blessing to him; -- many tears he shower'd
With thought of what had pass'd, and though not sure
Alexis was his son, those thoughts did cure,
Or at the least-wise eas'd his troubled mind.
The good old man no sooner saw his child,
And bless'd her for her duty, when he smil'd
At what he was to say, and glad she was
To see her sire so cheerful. To let pass
The long discourse between them: 'twas his will
She should prepare for court, chiding her still
For mentioning Anaxus; nor did he
Give her long time to think on what might be
The cause that mov'd her father to such haste.
But by the way he had given her a taste
Of what might follow: -- three days were assign'd
Her for to get things ready; -- 'twas his mind
It should be so, and duty must obey:
When fathers bid, 'tis sin to say them nay.
Well then, he meant to send for her, till when
He leaves her to her thoughts, and home again
The joyful old man wends: -- that very night,
Before the day prefix'd, the fates, to spite
Secure Alexis, sent Anaxus thither,
And brought his long-sought love and him together.
You know we left him with old Eubolus,
A wisely discreet man, and studious,
In liberal arts well seen, and state affairs,
Yet liv'd retir'd, to shun the weight of cares
That greatness fondly sues for: -- all that night
Was spent in good discourse too long to write.
He told the prince the story of the war,
And pourtray'd out Alexis' character
So to the life, that he was fir'd to see
The man he spake of, and disguised he
Intended in his thoughts next day to prove
The truth of what he heard: -- but cruel Jove,
That loves to tyrannize for pleasure, stay'd
His purposed journey, and unawares betray'd
Anaxus to an ambush of sad woes,
That set on him when he least dream'd of foes.
Amongst the various discourse that pass'd
Between these two, it fortuned at last
Eubolus fell in talk of Florimel,
And of her father Memnon, who full well
He knew to be a Lemnian; howsoe'er
He gave it out for otherwise, for fear
Of double-ey'd suspicion. To the prince
He set his virtues forth, and how long since
He left his native soil; the prince conceiv'd
Good hope of what he aim'd at, and believ'd,
By all conjectures, that this Memnon might
Be banish'd Codrus, whom he meant to right,
If ever he was king. Eubolus went on
In praises of him and of Florimel.
'Friend,' quoth the prince Anaxus, 'canst thou tell
Where this fair virgin is?' -- 'Yes,' he replied,
'I can and will, 'tis by yon river side,
Where yonder tuft of trees stands,' -- day then brake,
And he might well discern it. -- 'For love's sake,'
Answer'd Anaxus, 'may one see this maid,
That merits all these praises!' -- 'Yes,' he said,
'But through a grate; no man must enter in
Within the cloister -- that they hold a sin.
Yet she hath liberty some time to go
To see her father; none but she hath so,
Whate'er the matter is: unless when all,
Arm'd with their bows, go to some festival
Upon a noted holiday, and then
This female army, out and home again,
In comely order marcheth. -- Th' other day
It was my luck to see her, when this way
The king came from the wars; she with her train
(For she seem'd captain) met him on this plain.
Her coming hither, as I heard her say,
Was for her life's preserving to repay
A debt of thanks she ow'd him: many words
Did pass between them, and before the lords
Most graciously he kiss'd her, and did woo
Her for a longer stay; but she in scorn,
Or finding him too am'rous, blew her horn,
To call her troops together; all like roes
Ran swiftly tow'rd their cloister: -- she is fair,
And you know beauty is a tempting snare.
Hers is no common one; her very eye,
That sparkled with a kind of majesty,
Might, without wonder, captivate a king.' --
But this is too too high a strain to sing.
It was enough that Eubolus had said,
If not too much, to him that throughly weigh'd
Each circumstance: a kind of jealous fire
Stole to his heart, and spurr'd on his desire
To see and prove her; -- taking pen and ink,
He writ his mind, foreseeing (as I think)
She might not come alone unto the grate,
And so could not so privately relate
(If she should prove Clarinda) his intent.
So for an hour in vain to sleep he went,
But restless thoughts did keep him still awake,
Still musing on the words the old man spake.
Well, sun being up, with thanks he takes his leave
Of his kind host, that did not once perceive
Him to be troubled: with such cunning he
Dissembled what had mov'd him, -- jealousy.
His man and he toward the cloister go,
Casting in's mind what he were best to do
To win a sight of her: -- his nimble brain
Soon hatch'd a polity, that prov'd not vain.
The cloister outward gate was newly ope,
When he came there; and now 'twixt fear and hope
He boldly enters the base-court, and knocks
At th' inner gate, fast shut with divers locks:
At length one came, the port'ress, as I guess,
For she had many keys; her stranger dress
Much took Anaxus, who ne'er saw till then
Women attir'd so prettily like men.
In courteous wise she ask'd him what he would?
'Fair dame,' said he, 'I have been often told
By one (I make no question) whom you know,
Old Memnon, (to whose tender care I owe
For my good breeding) that within this place
I have a kinswoman, that lately was
Admitted for a holy sister here,
My uncle Memnon's daughter: -- once a year,
As duty binds me, I do visit him,
And in my journey homeward at this time
A kinsman's love prompted me to bestow
A visit on my cousin; who[m] I know
Will not disdain to own me.' -- 'Gentle sir,'
Answer'd the man-like maid, 'is it to her
You'd pay your loving tender?' -- 'Yes,' said he,
'To Florimel, if in this place she be?
And so my uncle told me.' -- 'Yes,' replied
The grave virago, 'she is here: yet, sir,
You must content yourself to speak with her
Thorough this grate; her father comes not in,
And by our laws it is esteem'd a sin
To interchange aught else, save words, with men.'
'I ask no more,' the prince replied again.
'That cannot be denied,' said she, 'stay here
With patience awhile, and do not fear
But you shall see her'; -- so away she went,
Leaving the glad Anaxus to invent
Excuses for his boldness, if by hap
She might not prove Clarinda, and entrap
Him in a lie: -- Clarinda came at last
With all her train, who as along she pass'd
Thorough the inward court, did make a lane,
Op'ning their ranks, and closing them again
As she went forward, with obsequious gesture,
Doing their reverence. -- Her upward vesture
Was of blue silk, glistering with stars of gold,
Girt to her waist by serpents, that enfold
And wrap themselves together, so well wrought
And fashion'd to the life, one would have thought
They had been real. Underneath she wore
A coat of silver tinsel, short before,
And fring'd about with gold: white buskins hide
The naked of her leg; they were loose tied
With azure ribands, on whose knots were seen
Most costly gems, fit only for a queen.
Her hair bound up like to a coronet,
With diamonds, rubies, and rich sapphires set;
And on the top a silver crescent placed,
And all the lustre by such beauty graced,
As her reflection made them seem more fair,
One would have thought Diana's self were there,
For in her hand a silver bow she held,
And at her back there hung a quiver fill'd
With turtle-feathered arrows. -- Thus attir'd,
She makes toward Anaxus, who was fir'd
To hear this goddess speak; -- when they came near,
Both stared upon each other, as if fear
Or wonder had surpris'd them; for awhile
Neither could speak, -- at length with a sweet smile,
Graced with a comely blush, she thus began.
'Good-morrow, cousin, are not you the man
That I should speak with? I may be deceiv'd;
Are not you kin to Memnon? -- I believ'd
My maid that told me so; -- he is my father, --
If you have aught to say to me.' -- 'Fair soul,'
Answer'd Anaxus, 'many doubts control
My willingness to answer; pardon me,
Divinest creature, if my answer be
Somewhat impertinent; read here my mind,
I am Anaxus, and I fain would find
A chaste Clarinda here.' -- She was about
To call the port'ress to have let her out,
But wisely she call'd back her thought, for fear
Her virgin troop might see or overhear
What pass'd between them; doubts did rise
Within her, whether she might trust her eyes.
It was Anaxus' voice, she knew that well,
But by his disguis'd look she could not tell
Whether 'twere he or no; all that she said
Was, 'I may prove Clarinda too'; and pray'd
Him stay a little, till her short return
Gave him a better welcome: -- all her train
Thought she had fetch'd some jewel for the swain;
And, as they were commanded, kept their station
Till her return. The prince with expectation
Feeds his faint hopes; she was not long from thence,
And in a letter pleads her innocence,
Which he mistrusted; now she could not speak,
But wept her thoughts, for fear her heart should break,
And casting o'er a veil to hide her tears,
She bid farewell, and leaves him to his fears.
With that the gate was shut: Anaxus reads,
And with judicious care each sentence heeds;
And now he knew 'twas she, whom he so long
Had sought for; now he thinks upon the wrong
His rash mistrust had done her: 'twas her will,
Whate'er he thought of her, to love him still:
Nor could th' Arcadian crown tempt her to break
Her promise with Anaxus: -- now to seek
For an excuse to gild o'er this offence.
Yet this did somewhat cheer him, -- two hours thence
He was enjoin'd to come unto a bower,
That overlook'd the wall; -- and at his hour
Anaxus came; -- there she had often spent
One hour or two each day alone, to vent
Her private griefs: -- she came the sooner then
To meet Anaxus, and to talk again
With him, whom yet her fears misgave her, might
Be some disguised cheat. -- At the first sight
She frown'd upon him, and with angry look,
A title that but ill became the book,
Wherein her milder thoughts were writ. 'Are you,'
Said she, 'Anaxus? these loose lines do show
Rather you are some counterfeit; set on
By some to tempt my honour. Here are none
That love the world so well to sell her fame,
Or violate her yet unspotted name,
To meet a king's embraces, though a crown,
And that the richest, Fortune can stake down
Should be the hire. -- I tell thee, saucy swain,
Whoever sent thee, I so much disdain
To yield to what these looser lines import,
That rather than I will be drawn to court,
To be Alexis' whore; nay, or his wife,
I have a thousand ways to let out life.
But why dost thou abuse Anaxus so
To make him pander to my overthrow?
Know'st thou the man thou wrong'st; -- uncivil swain!
Thou hast my answer, carry back disdain.'
With that she was about to fling away
When he recall'd her; loath to go away,
Whate'er she seem'd. -- Before she'd turn'd about
He pull'd off his false hair, and cured her doubt.
'My dearest Florimel,' said he, and wept:
'My sweet Clarinda; and hath Heav'n kept
Thee yet alive to recompense my love?
My yet unchang'd affection, that can move
But in one sphere, in thee, and thee alone.
Forgive me, my Clarinda, what is done
Was but to try thee, and when thou shalt know
The reason why I did so, and what woe
My love to thee hath made me willingly
To undergo, thou wilt confess that I
Deserve Clarinda's love.' -- Poor Florimel
Would fain have sooner answer'd; but tears fell
In such abundance, that her words were drown'd,
E'en in their birth; at length her passions found
Some little vent to breathe out this reply.
'O, my Anaxus, if it be no sin
To call you mine, methinks I now begin
To breathe new life, for I am but your creature,
Sorrow hath kill'd what I receiv'd from nature.
Before I see you, though this piece of clay
My body seem'd to move, until this day
It did not truly live: my heart you had,
And that you pleas'd to have it I was glad:
Yet till you brought it home, the life I led,
If it were any, was but nourished
By th' warmth I had from yours, which I still cherish'd
With some faint hopes, or else I quite had perish'd.
But time steals on, and I have much to say;
Take it in brief, for I'd be loath my stay
Above my usual hour, should breed suspect
In my chaste sisterhood. -- Blest powers! direct
Me what to do; my soul's in such a strait
And labyrinth of doubts and fears, that wait
Upon my weakness, that I know no way
How to wade out: -- to-morrow is the day,
Th' unwelcome day, when I must to the court,
For what intent I know not. -- To be short,
I would not go, nor dare I here to stay,
The king so wills it: yet should I obey,
It may perhaps undo me; besides this,
My father so commands it, and it is
A well-becoming duty in a child
To stoop unto his will: yet to be styled,
For doing what he bids me, a loose dame,
And cause report to question my chaste fame!
'Twere better disobey; -- a father's will
Binds like a law in goodness, not in ill.
I hope I sin not, that so ill conceive
Of th' end I'm sent for; and, can I believe
That honour's aim'd at in't? Court favours shine
Seldom on mean ones, but for some design.
Are not these fears to startle weak-built woman,
A virgin child of virtue, should she summon
Her best and stout'st resolves'; -- with that, in tears
And sighs, she speaks the remnant of her fears,
And sinks beneath their weight. Anaxus soon
Caught hold of her, pluck'd her to the grate,
And with a kiss reviv'd her. -- 'Twas now late,
The cloister bell had summon'd all to bed,
And she was missing, little more she said:
'Save, help me, my Anaxus, keep the jewel
My love once gave thee': -- swift Time was so cruel
He could not answer; for her virgin train
Flock'd to the lodge, and she must back again.
She had enjoin'd him silence, and to speak
Anaxus durst not, though his heart should break:
As it was more than full of care and grief
For his Clarinda, thirsting for relief.
And in his looks, one might have read his mind,
How apt it was to afford it; still she enjoin'd
Him not to speak; such was her wary fears
To be discovered; kisses mix'd with tears
Was their best oratory: then they part,
Yet turn again t' exchange each other's heart.
Something was still forgot; it is Love's use
In what chaste thoughts forbid, to find excuse.
Her virgins knock, in vain she wipes her eyes,
To hide her passions, that still higher rise.
She whispers in his ear, 'Think on to-morrow';
They faintly bid farewell, both full of sorrow.
The window shuts, and with a feigned cheer,
Clarinda wends unto her cloister, where
Awhile we'll leave her to discourse with Fear.
Pensive Anaxus to the next town hies,
To seek a lodging: rather to advise
And counsel with himself, what way he might
Plot Florimel's escape: 'twas late at night,
And all were drown'd in sleep, save restless lovers.
At length, as chance would have it, he discovers
A glimm'ring light, tow'rd it he makes, and knocks,
And, with fair language, open picks the locks.
He enters, and is welcome by his host,
Where we will leave him, and return again
Unto th' Arcadian court, to sing a strain
Of short-liv'd joy, soon sour'd, by such a sorrow
As will drink all our tears: -- and I would borrow
Sometime to think on't, 'twill come at the last:
Sorrows we dream not on, have sourest taste.
Cleon and Rhotus, as you heard of late,
Were travelling to court, when (led by Fate)
They met Thealma, who by them had sent
A jewel to the king: -- six days were spent
Before they reach'd the court; for Rhotus' sake
Cleon was nobly welcom'd, means they make
To do their message to the love-sick king,
And with Sylvanus found him communing.
Sometimes he smil'd, another while he frown'd,
Anon his paler cheeks with tears been drown'd;
And ever and anon he calls a groom,
And frowning, ask'd.if Memnon were not come?
One might perceive such changes in the king,
As hath th' inconstant welkin in the Spring;
Now a fair day, anon a dropsy cloud
Puts out the sun, and in a sable shroud
The day seems buried; when the clouds are o'er,
The glorious sun shines brighter than before:
But long it lasts not; so Alexis fared:
His sun-like majesty was not impair'd
So much by sorrow, but that now and then
It would break forth into a smile again.
At last Sylvanus leaves him for a space,
And he was going to seek out a place
To vent his griefs in private; ere he went,
He ask'd if one for Memnon was yet sent?
With that he spies old Rhotus, him he meets,
And Cleon with him; both he kindly greets.
They kneeling kiss his hand; he bids them rise,
And still Alexis noble Cleon eyes.
'Whence are you, father,' said he, 'what's your name?'
Cleon replied, 'From Lemnos, sir, I came,
My name is Cleon'; -- and full well the king
Knew he was so, yet he kept close the thing.
He list not let his nobles know so much,
Whate'er the matter was: his grace was such
To the old men, as rich in worth as years.
He leads them in, and welcomes them with tears,
The thoughts of what had pass'd wrung from his eyes:
And with the king, in tears, they sympathize.
'O Rhotus,' said he, ''twas thy charity
That rais'd me to this greatness, else had I
Fall'n lower than the grave, and in the womb
Of the salt ocean wept me out a tomb.
Thy timely help preserv'd me, so it pleas'd
The all-disposing Fates.' -- There the king ceas'd
His sad discourse; he sighs and weeps afresh,
And wrings old Rhotus' hand in thankfulness.
Sorrow had tongue-tied all, and now they speak
Their minds in sighs and tears, nor could they check
These embryos of passion: reason knows
No way to counsel passion that o'erflows.
Yet like to one that falls into a swoon,
In whom we can discern no motion,
No life, nor feeling, not a gasp of breath,
(So like the body's faintings are to death)
Yet little and by little life steals in,
At last he comes unto himself again.
Life was but fled unto the heart for fear,
And thronging in it, well-nigh stifles there,
Till by its struggling, Fear that chill'd the heart,
Meeting with warmth, is forc'd for to depart,
And Life is loose again: -- So Sorrow wrought
Upon these three, that any would have thought
Them weeping statues; Reason at the length
Struggling with passions recover'd strength,
And forc'd a way for speech. -- Rhotus was first
That brake this silence, there's none better durst;
He knew his cause of sorrow, and was sure
The gladsome news he brought had power to cure
A death-struck heart; yet in his wisdom he
Thought it not best, whate'er his strength might be
To let in joy too soon; too sudden joy,
Instead of comforting, doth oft destroy:
Experience had taught him, so 't might be;
Nor would old Rhotus venture 't, wherefore he
By some ambigual discourses thought
It best to let him know the news he brought.
So, lowly bowing, Rhotus thus begins:
'Dread sovereign, how ill it suits with kings
(Whose office 'tis to govern men) that they
Should be their passions' laws; self-reason may,
Or should instruct you: pardon, gracious sir,
My boldness; virtue brooks no flatterer;
Nor dare I be so; you have conquer'd men,
And rul'd a kingdom; shall your passions then
Unking Alexis? -- be yourself again,
And curb those home-bred rebel thoughts that have
No power of themselves, but what you gave
In suff'ring them so long: had you not nurs'd
Those serpents in your bosom, but had crush'd
Them in the egg, you then had had your health.
He rules the best, that best can rule himself.'
And here he paus'd. Alexis' willing ear
Was chain'd to his discourse; when with a tear,
He sigh'd out this reply: -- 'I know it well,
I would I could do so'; -- but tears 'gan swell,
Rais'd by a storm of sighs: he soon had done.
Which Rhotus noting, boldly thus went on.
'Most royal sir, be comforted; I fear
My rude reproofs affect not your soft ear,
Which if they have I'm sorry, gracious sir:
I ask your pardon, if my judgement err.
I came to cure your sorrows, not to add
Unto their heavy weight that makes you sad.'
'To cure me, Rhotus?' said Alexis, 'no!
Good man, thou canst not do't, didst thou but know
The sad cause whence they spring?' 'Perhaps I do,'
Replied old Rhotus, 'and can name it too,
If you'll with patience hear me: cheer up then,
After these show'rs it may be fair again.
As I remember, when the Heav'ns were pleased
To make me your preserver, you my guest,
(And happy was it that it fell out so)
Amongst the many fierce assaults of woe,
That then oppress'd your spirit, this was one:
When you were private, as to be alone
You most affected, I have often heard
You sigh out one Thealma: nor have spar'd
To curse the Fates for her: what might she be,
And what's become of her? If I may be
So bold to question it, tell us your grief,
The heart's unlading hastens on relief:
When sorrows, pent up closely in the breast,
Destroy unseen, and render such unrest
To the soul's wearied faculties, that Art
Despairs to cure them: -- pluck up a good heart,
And cast out those corroding thoughts that will
In time undo you, and untimely lay
Your honour in the dust.' The speechless king
Wept out an answer to his counselling;
For speak he could not, sighs and sobs so throng'd
From his sad heart, they had him quite untongued.
'Will it not be?' said Rhotus, 'then I see
Alexis is unthankful; not that he
That once I took him for: -- but, I have done. --
When first I found you on the rock, as one
Left by stern Fate to ruin, well-nigh drown'd,
And starv'd with cold, yet heaven found,
E'en in that hopeless exigent, a way
To raise you to a crown; and will you pay
Heav'n's providence with frowns? for aught you know,
She that you sorrow for so much, may owe
As much to heav'n as you do, and may live
To make the joy complete, which you conceive
In your despairing thoughts impossible:
I say, who knows but she may be as well
As you; nay, better, more in health and free
From headstrong passion?' -- 'Can I hope to be
So happy, Rhotus?' answer'd the sad king,
'No, she is drown'd; these eyes beheld her sink
Beneath the mountain waves, and shall I think
Their cruelty so merciful, to save
Her, their ambition strove for to engrave?'
'Why not?' replied old Cleon, who till then
Had held his peace: 'the gods work not like men;
When Reason's self despairs, and help there's none,
Finding no ground for hope to anchor on;
Then is their time to work. This you have known,
And heaven was pleas'd to mark you out for one
It meant thus to preserve: 'tis for some end,
(A good one too, I hope) and heav'n may send
This happy seed-time such a joyful crop
As will weigh down your sorrows; kill not hope
Before its time, and let it raise your spirit
To bear your sorrows nobly: never fear it,
Thealma lives:' --

And here the author died, and I hope the reader will be sorry.





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