Billeder på siden


CASSANDRA, OR DIVINATION. THE poets fable, that Apollo being enamoured of Cassandra, was, by her many shifts and cunning sleights, still deluded in his desire; but yet fed on with hope until such time as she had drawn from him the gift of prophesying; and having by such her dissimulation, in the end attained to that which from the beginning she sought after, at last flatly rejected his suit: who, finding himself so far engaged in his promise, as that he could not by any means revoke again his rash gift, and yet inflamed with an earnest desire of revenge, highly disdaining to be made the scorn of a crafty wench, annexed a penalty to his promise, to wit, that she should ever foretell the truth, but never be believed; so were her divinations always faithful, but at no time regarded, whereof she still found the experience, yea, even in the ruin of her own country, which she had often forewarned them of, but they neither gave credit nor ear to her words.

This fable seems to intimate the unprofitable liberty of untimely admonitions and counsels: for they that are so overweened with the sharpness and dexterity of their own wit and capacity, as that they disdain to submit themselves to the documents of Apollo, the god of harmony, whereby to learn and observe the method and measure of affairs, the grace and gravity of discourse, the differences between the more judicious and more vulgar ears, and the due times when to speak and when to be silent; be they never so sensible and pregnant, and their judgments never so profound and profitable, yet in all their endeavours either of persuasion or perforce, they avail nothing; neither are they of any moment to advantage or manage matters, but do rather hasten on the ruin of all those that they adhere or devote themselves unto; and then, at last, when calamity hath made men feel the event of neglect, then shall they, too late, be reverenced as deep foreseeing and faithful prophets: whereof a notable instance is eminently set forth in Marcus Cato Uticensis, who, as from a watch-tower, discovered afar off, and as an oracle long foretold, the approaching ruin of his country, and the plotted tyranny hovering over the state, both in the first conspiracy, and as it was prosecuted in the civil contention between Cæsar and Pompey, and did no good the while, but rather harmed the commonwealth and hastened on his country's bane; which M. Cicero wisely observed, and writing to a familiar friend, doth in these terms excellently

[blocks in formation]


JUNO, being vexed (say the poets) that Jupiter had begotten Pallas by himself without her, ear nestly pressed all the other gods and goddesses,that she might also bring forth of herself alone without him; and having by violence and importunity obtained a grant thereof, she smote the earth, and forthwith sprang up Typhon, a huge and horrid monster. This strange birth she commits to a serpent, as a foster-father, to nourish it; who no sooner came to ripeness of years but he provokes Jupiter to battle. In the conflict, the giant, getting the upper hand, takes Jupiter upon his shoulders, carries him into a remote and obscure country, and (cutting out the sinews of his hands and feet) brought them away, and so left him miserably mangled and maimed; but Mercury recovering these nerves from Typhon by stealth, restored them again to Jupiter. Jupiter being again by this means corroborated, assaults the monster afresh, and at the first strikes him with a thunderbolt, from whose blood serpents were engendered. This monster at length fainting and flying, Jupiter casts on him the mount Etna, and with the weight thereof crushed him.

This fable seems to point at the variable fortune of princes, and the rebellious insurrection of traitors in state. For princes may well be said to be married to their dominions, as Jupiter was to Juno; but it happens now and then, that being deboshed by the long custom of empiring and bending towards tyranny, they endeavour to draw all to themselves, and, contemning the counsel of their nobles and senators, hatch laws in their own brain, that is, dispose of things by their own fancy and absolute power. The people, repining at this, study how to create and set up a chief of their own choice. This project, by the secret instigation of the peers and nobles, doth for the most part take his beginning; by whose con nivance the commons being set on edge, there follows a kind of murmuring or discontent in the state, shadowed by the infancy of Typhon, which

being nursed by the natural pravity, and clownish | revenge of which act, Apollo, Jupiter not prohibitmalignity of the vulgar sort, (unto princes as in- ing it, shot them to death with his arrows.

severity of execution or accerbity of exaction. These servile creatures being by nature cruel, and by their former fortune exasperated, and perceiving well what is expected at their hands, do show themselves wonderful officious in such kind of employments; but being too rash and precipitate in seeking countenance and creeping into favour, do sometimes take occasion, from the secret beckonings and ambiguous commands of their prince, to perform some hateful execution. But princes abhorring the fact, and knowing well that they shall never want such kind of instruments, do utterly forsake them, turning them over to the friends and allies of the wronged, to their accusations and revenge, and to the general hatred of the people; so that with great applause and prosperous wishes and acclamations towards the prince, they are brought rather too late than undeservedly to a miserable end.

festuous as serpents,) is again repaired by renewed This fable may be applied to the projects of strength, and at last breaks out into open rebellion, kings, who having cruel, bloody, and exacting which, because it brings infinite mischiefs upon officers, do first punish and displace them; afterprince and people, is represented by the monstrous wards, by the counsel of Tellus, that is of some deformity of Typhon: his hundred heads signify base and ignoble person, and by the prevailing their divided powers, his fiery mouths their in- respect of profit, they admit them into their places flamed intents, his serpentine circles their pesti-again, that they may have instruments in a readilent malice in besieging, his iron hands their mer-ness, if at any time there should need either ciless slaughters, his eagle's talons their greedy rapines, his plumed body their continual rumours, and scouts, and fears, and suchlike; and sometimes these rebellions grow so potent, that princes are enforced (transported as it were by the rebels, and forsaking the chief seats and cities of the kingdom) to contract their power, and, being deprived of the sinews of money and majesty, betake themselves to some remote and obscure corner within their dominions; but in process of time, if they bear their misfortunes with moderation, they may recover their strength by the virtue and industry of Mercury, that is, they may, by becoming affable, and by reconciling the minds and wills of their subjects with grave edicts and gracious speech, excite an alacrity to grant aids and subsidies whereby to strengthen their authority anew. Nevertheless, having learned to be wise and wary, they will refrain to try the chance of fortune by war, and yet study how to suppress the reputation of the rebels by some famous action, which if it fall out answerable to their expectation, the rebels, finding themselves weakened, and fearing the success of their broken projects, betake themselves to some sleight and vain bravadoes like the hissing of serpents, and at length in despair betake themselves to flight, and then when they begin to break, it is safe and timely for kings to pursue and oppress them with the forces and weight of the kingdom, as it were with the mountain Ætna.


THEY say that Narcissus was exceeding fair and beautiful, but wonderful proud and disdainful; wherefore despising all others in respect of himself, he leads a solitary life in the woods and chases with a few followers, to whom he alone was all in all; amongst the rest there follows him the nymph Echo. During his course of life, it fatally so chanced that he came to a clear fountain, upon the bank whereof he lay down to repose himself in the heat of the day; and having

THE CYCLOPS, OR THE MINISTERS espied the shadow of his own face in the water,


THEY say the Cyclops, for their fierceness and cruelty, were by Jupiter cast into hell, and there doomed to perpetual imprisonment; but Tellus persuaded Jupiter that it would do well, if being set at liberty, they were put to forge thunderbolts, which being done accordingly, they became so painful and industrious, as that day and night they continued hammering out in laborious diligence thunderbolts and other instruments of terror. In process of time Jupiter having conceived a displeasure against Esculapius, the son of Apollo, for restoring a dead man to life by physic, and concealing his dislike because there was no just cause of anger, the deed being pious and famous, secretly incensed the Cyclops against him, who without delay slew him with a thunderbolt; in

was so besotted and ravished with the contemplation and admiration thereof, that he by no means possibly could be drawn from beholding his image in this glass; insomuch, that by continual gazing thereupon, he pined away to nothing, and was at last turned into a flower of his own name, which appears in the beginning of the spring, and is sacred to the infernal powers, Pluto, Proserpina, and the Furies.

This fable seems to show the dispositions and fortunes of those, who in respect either of their beauty or other gift wherewith they are adorned and graced by nature, without the help of industry, are so far besotted in themselves as that they prove the cause of their own destruction. For it is the property of men infected with this humour not to come much abroad, or to be conversant in civil affairs; specially seeing those that are in

public place must of necessity encounter with many outwardly seeming fair pretexts, especially many contempts and scorns which may much seeing there is no umpire or moderator of matters deject and trouble their minds; and therefore concluded upon, to whom a reason should be they lead for the most part a solitary, private, and tendered. Therefore there is no true and proper obscure life, attended on with a few followers, thing made choice of for the confirmation of faith, and those such as will adore and admire them, and that no celestial power neither, but is indeed like an echo, flatter them in all their sayings, and necessity, (a great god to great potentates,) the applaud them in all their words; so that being peril also of state, and the communication of by this custom seduced and puffed up, and as it profit. As for necessity, it is elegantly representwere stupified with the admiration of themselves, ed by Styx, that fatal and irremeable river; and they are possessed with so strange a sloth and this godhead did Ipichrates, the Athenian, call to idleness, that they grow in a manner benumbed the confirmation of a league, who, because he and defective of all vigour and alacrity. Ele- alone is found to speak plainly that which many gantly doth this flower, appearing in the begin- hide covertly in their breasts, it would not be ning of the spring, represent the likeness of these amiss to relate his words. He observing how men's dispositions, who in their youth do flourish the Lacædemonians had thought upon and proand wax famous; but being come to ripeness of pounded divers cautions, sanctions, confirmations, years, they deceive and frustrate the good hope and bonds, pertaining to leagues, interposed thus: that is conceived of them. Neither is it impertinent that this flower is said to be consecrated to the infernal deities, because men of this disposition become unprofitable to all human things. For whatsoever produceth no fruit of itself, but passeth and vanisheth as if it never had been, like the way of a ship in the sea, that the ancients were wont to dedicate to the ghosts, and powers below.


THE oath by which the gods were wont to oblige themselves when they meant to ratify any thing so firmly as never to revoke it, is a thing well known to the vulgar, as being mentioned almost in every fable, which was, when they did not invoke or call to witness any celestial majesty or divine power, but only the river Styx, that with crooked and meandry turnings encircleth the palace of the infernal Dis. This was held as the only manner of their sacrament, and, besides it, not any other vow to be accounted firm and inviolable, and therefore the punishment to be inflicted, if any did perjure themselves, was, that for certain years they should be put out of commons, and not to be admitted to the table of the gods.

This fable seems to point at the leagues and pacts of princes, of which more truly than opportunely may be said, that be they never so strongly confirmed with the solemnity and religion of an oath, yet are for the most part of no validity; insomuch, that they are made rather with an eye to reputation, and report, and ceremony, than to faith, security, and effect. Moreover, add to these the bonds of affinity, as the sacraments of nature, and mutual deserts of each part, and you shall observe, that with a great many, all these things are placed a degree under ambition and profit, and the licentious desire of domination; and so much the rather, because it is an easy thing for princes to defend and cover their unlawful desires and unfaithful vows with VOL. I-37

Unum Lacædemonii, nobis vobiscum vinculum, et securitatis ratio esse possit, si plane demonstretis, vos ea nobis concessisse, et inter manus posuisse, ut vobis facultas lædendi nos si maxime velletis minime suppetere possit." There is one thing, oh Lacædemonians! that would link us unto you in the bond of amity, and be the occasion of peace and security, which is, if you would plainly demonstrate that you have yielded up and put into our hands such things as that, would you hurt us never so fain, you should yet be disfurnished of means to do it. If, therefore, the power of hurting be taken away, or if, by breach of league, there follow the danger of the ruin or diminution of the state or tribute, then indeed the leagues may seem to be ratified and established, and as it were confirmed by the sacrament of the Stygian lake; seeing that it includes the fear of prohibition and suspension from the table of the gods, under which name the laws and prerogatives, the plenty and felicity of a kingdom were signified by the ancients.


THE ancients have exquisitely described Nature under the person of Pan, whose original they leave doubtful; for some say that he was the son of Mercury, others attribute unto him a far different beginning, affirming him to be the common offspring of Penelope's suitors, upon a suspicion that every one of them had to do with her; which latter relation doubtless gave occasion to some after writers to entitle this ancient fable with the name of Penelope: a thing very frequent amongst them when they apply old fictions to young persons and names, and that many times absurdly and indiscreetly, as may be seen here: for Pan, being one of the ancient gods, was long before the time of Ulysses and Penelope. Besides, for her matrimonial chastity, she was held venerable by antiquity. Neither may we pretermit the third conceit of his birth: for some say 2 B

such of the philosophers as had any smack of divinity assented unto, or else from the confused seeds of things. For they that would have one simple beginning, refer it unto God; or if a materiate beginning, they would have it various in power; so that we may end the controversy with this distribution, that the world took beginning, either from Mercury, or from the seeds of all things.


"Namque canebat uti magnum per inane coacta.
Semina, terrarumque, animæque marisque fuissent.
Et liquidi simul ignis: Et his exordia primis
Omnia et ipse tener mundi concreverit orbis."
For rich-vein'd Orpheus sweetly did rehearse
How that the seeds of fire, air, water, earth,
Were all pact in the vast void universe:
And how from these, as firstlings, all had birth,
And how the body of this orbic frame,
From tender infancy so big became.

that he was the son of Jupiter and Hybris, which | Scriptures without all controversy affirm, and signifies contumely or disdain: but howsoever begotten, the Parcæ, they say, were his sisters. He is portrayed by the ancients in this guise; on his head a pair of horns to reach to heaven, his body rough and hairy, his beard long and shaggy, his shape biformed, above like a man, below like a beast, his feet like goats' hoofs; bearing these ensigns of his jurisdiction, to wit, in his left hand a pipe of seven reeds, and in his right a sheephook, or a staff crooked at the upper end, and his mantle made of a leopard's skin. His dignities and offices were these: he was the god of hunters, of shepherds, and of all rural inhabitants; chief president also of hill and mountains; and, next to Mercury, the ambassador of the gods. Moreover, he was accounted the leader and commander of the nymphs, which were always wont to dance the rounds, and frisk about him; he was accosted by the satyrs and the old Sileni. He had power also to strike men with terrors, and those especially vain and superstitious, which are termed panic fears. His acts were not many, for aught that can be found in records; the chiefest was, that he challenged Cupid at wrestling, in which conflict he had the foil. The tale goes, too, how that he caught the giant Typhon in a net, and held him fast. Moreover, when Ceres, grumbling and chafing that Proserpina was ravished, had hid herself away, and that all the gods took pains, by dispersing themselves into every corner, to find her out, it was only his good hap, as he was hunting, to light on her, and acquaint the rest where she was. He presumed also to put it to trial who was the best musician, he or Apollo; and by the judgment of Midas was indeed preferred: but the wise judge had a pair of asses' ears privily chopped to his noddle. for his sentence. Of his love tricks there is nothing reported, or at least not much; a thing to be wondered at, especially being among a troop of gods so profusely amorous. This only is said of him, that he loved the nymph Echo, whom he took to wife; and one pretty wench more called Syrinx, towards whom Cupid, in an angry and revengful humour, because so audaciously he had challenged him at wrest-nature of all these things being like a pyramis, ling, inflamed his desire. Moreover, he had no issue, which is a marvel also, seeing the gods, especially those of the male kind, were very generative, only he was the reputed father of a little girl called Iambe, that with many pretty tales was wont to make strangers merry: but some think that he did indeed beget her by his wife Iambe.

[ocr errors]

But as touching the third conceit of Pan's original, it seems that the Grecians, either by intercourse with the Egyptians, or one way or other, had heard something of the Hebrew mysteries; for it points to the state of the world, not considered in immediate creation, but after the fall of Adam, exposed and made subject to death and corruption; for in that state it was, and remains to this day, the offspring of God and sin; and therefore all these three narrations concerning the manner of Pan's birth may seem to be true, if it be rightly distinguished between things and times. For this Pan, or Nature, which we inspect, contemplate, and reverence more than is fit, took beginning from the word of God by the means of confused matter, and the entrance of prevarication and corruption. The Destinies may well be thought the sisters of Pan, or Nature, because the beginnings, and continuances, and corruptions, and depressions, and dissolutions, and eminences, and labours, and felicities of things, and all the chances which can happen unto any thing, are linked with the chain of causes natural.

Horns are attributed unto him, because horns are broad at the root and sharp at the ends, the

sharp at the top. For individual or singular things being infinite are first collected into species, which are many also; then from species into generals, and from generals, by ascending, are contracted into things or notions more general; so that at length Nature may seem to be contracted into an unity. Neither is it to be wondered at that Pan toucheth heaven with his horns, seeing the height of nature or universal ideas do in some sort pertain to things divine; and there is a ready and short passage from metaphysic to natural theo

This, if any be, is a noble tale, as being laid out and big bellied with the secrets and mysteries of nature. Pan, as his name imports, represents and lays open the all of things or nature. Con-logy. cerning his original there are two only opinions The body of nature is elegantly and with deep that go for current; for either he came of Mercu- judgment depainted hairy, representing the beams ry, that is, the Word of God, which the Holy or operations of creatures; for beams are, as it

were, the hairs and bristles of nature; and every | thority ought in very deed to be crooked in the creature is either more or less beamy, which is upper end. most apparent in the faculty of seeing, and no less in every virtue and operation that effectuates upon a distant object; for whatsoever works up any thing afar off, that may rightly be said to dart forth rays or beams.

Moreover, Pan's beard is said to be exceeding long, because the beams or influences of celestial bodies do operate and pierce farthest of all; and the sun, when his higher half is shadowed with a cloud, his beams break out in the lower, and looks as if he were bearded.

Nature is also excellently set forth with a biformed body, with respect to the differences between superior and inferior creatures. For one part, by reason of their pulchritude and equability of motion, and constancy and dominion over the earth and earthly things, is worthily set out by the shape of man; and the other part in respect of their perturbations and unconstant motions, and therefore needing to be moderated by the celestial, may be well fitted with the figure of a brute beast. This description of his body pertains also to the participation of species; for no natural being seems to be simple, but as it werd participated and compounded of two; as for example, man hath something of a beast, a beast something of a plant, a plant something of inanimate body, of that all natural things are in very deed biformed, that is to say, compounded of a superior and inferior species.

It is a witty allegory that same, of the feet of the goat, by reason of the upward tending motion of terrestial bodies towards the air and heaven; for the goat is a climbing creature, that loves to be hanging about the rocks and steep mountains; and this is done also in a wonderful manner even by those things which are destinated to this inferior globe, as may manifestly appear in clouds and meteors.

The two ensigns which Pan bears in his hands do point, the one at harmony, the other at empire: for the pipe, consisting of seven reeds, doth evidently demonstrate the consent, and harmony, and discordant concord of all inferior creatures, which is caused by the motion of the seven planets: and that of the sheep-hook may be excellently applied to the order of nature, which is partly right, partly crooked: this staff therefore or rod is specially crooked in the upper end, because all the works of divine Providence in the world are done in a far-fetched and circular manner, so that one thing may seem to be effected, and yet indeed a clean contrary brought to pass, as the selling of Joseph into Egypt, and the like. Besides, in all wise human government, they that sit at the helm do more happily bring their purposes about, and insinuate more easily into the minds of the people by pretext and oblique courses than by direct methods: so that all sceptres and masses of au

Pan's cloak or mantle is ingeniously feigned to be a skin of a leopard, because it is full of spots: so the heavens are spotted with stars, the sea with rocks and islands, the land with flowers, and every particular creature also is for the most part garnished with divers colours about the superficies, which is as it were a mantle unto it. The office of Pan can be by nothing so lively conceived and expressed, as by feigning him to be the god of hunters; for every natural action, and so by consequence motion and progression, is nothing else but a hunting. Arts and sciences have their works, and human counsels their ends, which they earnestly hunt after. All natural things have either their food as a prey, or their pleasure as a recreation which they seek for, and that in a most expert and sagacious manner. "Torva leæna lupum sequitur, lupus ipse capellam. Florentem cytisum, sequitur lasciva capella.



The hungry lioness, with sharp desire,
Pursues the wolf, the wolf the wanton goat:
The goa again doth greedily aspire

To have the trefoil juice pass down her throat.

Pan is also said to be the god of the countryclowns because men of this condition lead lives more agreeable un nature than those that live in cities and cour of princes, where nature, by too much art, is corrupted; so as the saying of the poet, though in the sense of love, might be Here verified::

"Pars minima est ipsa puella sui."

The mano trick'd herself with art,
That of herself she is least part.

He was held to be lord president of the mountains; because in the high mountains and hills nature lays herself most, open, and men most apt to view and contemplation,

Whereas Pan is said to be, next unto Mercury, the messenger of the gods, there is in that a divine mystery contained; for, next to the word of God, the image, of the world proclaims the power and wisdom, divine, as sings the sacred poet. Psal. ix. 1 Chenarrant gloriam Dei atque opera manuum ejus indicat firmamentum." The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth the works of his hands.

The nymphs, that is, the souls of living things, take great delight in Pan: for these souls are, the delights or minions of nature; and the direction or conduct of these nymphs is, with great reason, attributed unto Pan, because the souls of all things living do follow their natural dispositions as their guides; and with infinite variety every one of them, after his own fashion, doth leap, and frisk, and dance, with incessant motions about her. The satyrs and Sileni also, to wit, youth and of age, are some of Pan's followers: for of all natural things, there is a lively, jocund, and, as I may say, a dancing age; and an age

« ForrigeFortsæt »