« ForrigeFortsæt »
bearing of Medusa's head in his shield; to which THE SISTER OF THE GIANTS, OR there is no kind of defence for excellency com
FAME. parable: for the one famous and memorable act
It is a poetical relation, that the giants begotten prosperously effected and brought to pass, doth of the earth made war upon Jupiter and the other restrain the motions and insolencies of enemies gods; and by the force of lightning they were and makes Envy herself silent and amazed.
resisted and overthrown: whereat the earth being
excitated to wrath, in revenge of her children, ENDYMION, OR A FAVOURITE.
brought forth Fame, the youngest sister of the It is said that Luna was in love with the shep-giants. herd Endymion, and in a strange and unwonted
“ Illam terra parens ira irritata deorum, manner bewrayed her affection; for he lying in a Extremam (ut perhibent) Cæo Enceladoque sororem, cave framed by nature under the mountain Lat- Progenuit"mus, she oftentimes descended from her sphere
Provoked by wrathful gods, the mother earth
Gives Fame, the giant's youngest sister, birth. to enjoy his company as he slept; and after she had kissed him ascended up again. Yet, not- The meaning of the fable seems to be thus: withstanding this, his idleness and sleepy security By the earth is signified the nature of the vulgar, did not any way impair his estate or fortune; for always swollen and malignant, and still broachLuna brought it so to pass, that he alone, of all ing new scandals against superiors, and having the rest of the shepherds, had his flock in best gotten fit opportunity stirs up rebels and seditious plight, and most fruitful.
persons, that with impious courage do molest This fable may have reference to the nature princes, and endeavour to subvert their estates; and dispositions of princes; for they being full but being suppressed, the same natural disposiof doubts and prone to jealousy, do not easily tion of the people still leaning to the viler sort, acquaint men of prying and curious eyes, and as being impatient of peace and tranquillity, spread it were of vigilant and wakeful dispositions, rumours, raise malicious slanders, repining whiswith the secret humours and manners of their perings, infamous libels, and others of that kind, lise; but such rather as are of quiet and obser- to the detraction of them that are in authority vant natures, suffering them to do what they list so as rebellious actions and seditious reports without further scanning, making as if they were differ nothing in kind and blood, but as it were ignorant, and perceiving nothing, but of a stupid in sex only, the one sort being masculine and the disposition, and possessed with sleep, yielding other feminine. unto them simple obedience rather than sly compliments; for it pleaseth princes now and then to ACTÆON AND PENTHEUS, OR A CU. descend from their thrones or majesty, like Luna
RIOUS MAN. from the superior orb, and laying aside their robes The curiosity of men in prying into secrets, of dignity, which always to be cumbered with and coveting with an undiscreet desire to attain would seem a kind of burden, familiarly to con- the knowledge of things forbidden, is set forth verse with men of this condition, which they by the ancients in two other examples, the one of think may be done without danger; a quality Actæon, the other of Pentheus. chiefly noted in Tiberius Cæsar, who, of all Actæon having unawares, and as it were by others, was a prince most severe; yet such only chance, beheld Diana naked, was turned into a were gracious in his favour, as being well ac- stag, and devoured by his own dogs. quainted with his disposition, did yet constantly And Pentheus climbing up into a tree with a dissemble as if they knew nothing. This was desire to be a spectator of the hidden sacrifices the custom also of Lewis the Eleventh, King of of Bacchus, was strucken with such a kind of France, a cautious and wily prince.
frenzy, as that whatsoever he looked upon he Neither is it without elegancy that the cause thought it always double, supposing, among other of Endymion is mentioned in the fable, because things, he saw two suns and two Thebes; insothat it is a thing usual with such as are the fa- much, that running towards Thebes, spying anvourites of princes, to have certain pleasant retiring other Thebes, instantly turned back again, and so places whither to invite them for recreation both kept still running forward and barkward with of body and mind, and that without hurt or pre- perpetual unrest. judice to their fortunes also. And indeed these
“Eumenidum veluti demens vidit agmina Pentheus, kind of favourites are men commonly well to Et solem geminum, et duplices se ostendere Thebas." pass; for princes, although peradventure they Pentheus amazed, doth troops of Furies spy;
And sun and Thebes seem double to his eye. promote them not ever to places of honour, yet do they advance them sufficiently by their favour The first of the fables pertains to the secrets and countenance: neither do they affect them of princes, the second to divine mysteries. For thus only to serve their own turn; but are wont those that are near about princes, and come to the in enrich them now and then with great dignities knowledge of more secrets than they would have and bounties.
them, do certainly incur great hatred: and there
fore, suspecting that they are shot at, and oppor-| with tumbles back again headlong into hell. tunities watched for their overthrow, do lead their Orpheus falling into a deep melancholy, became lives like stags, fearful and full of suspicion. a contemner of women-kind, and bequeathed himAnd it happens oftentimes that their servants, and self to a solitary life in the deserts; where, by those of their household, to insinuate into the the same melody of his voice and harp, he first prince's favour, do accuse them to their destruc- drew all manner of wild beasts unto him, who, tion, for aga'mst whomsoever the prince's displea- forgetful of their savage fierceness, and casting off sure is known, look how many servants that man the precipitate provocations of lust and fury, not hath, and you shall find them for the most part so caring to satiate their voracity by hunting after many traitors unto him, that his end may prove to be prey, as at a theatre, in fawning and reconciled like Actæon's.
amity one towards another, standing all at the gaze The other is the misery of Pentheus; for that about him, and attentively lend their ears to his by the height of knowledge and nature in philo- music. Neither is this all : for so great was the sophy, having climbed as it were into a tree, do power and alluring force of this harmony, that he with rash attempts, unmindful of their frailty, drew the woods, and moved the very stones to pry into the secrets of divine mysteries, and are come and place themselves in an orderly and justly plagued with perpetual inconstancy, and decent fashion about him. These things succeedwith wavering and perplexed conceits; for seeing happily, and with great admiration for a time; ing the light of nature is one thing and of grace at length certain Thracian women, possessed with another, it happens so to them as if they saw the spirit of Bacchus, made such a horrid and two suns. And seeing the actions of life and strange noise with their cornets, that the sound of decrees of the will to depend on the understand Orpheus's harp could no more be heard, insomuch ing, it follows that they doubt, are inconstant no as that harmony, which was the bond of that order, less, in will than in opinion; and so in like and society being dissolved, all disorder began manner they may be said to see two Thebes ; again, and the beasts returning to their wonted nafor by Thebes, seeing there was the habitation ture, pursued one another unto death as before; and refuge of Pentheus, is meant the end of neither did the trees and stones remain any longer actions. Hence it comes to pass that they know in their places; and Orpheus himself was by these not whither they go, but as distracted and unre- female Furies torn in pieces, and scattered all over solved in the scope of their intentions, are in all the desert; for whose cruel death the river Helicon, things carried about with sudden passions of the sacred to the Muses, in horrible indignation hid his mind.
head underground, and raised it again in another
place. ORPHEUS, OR PHILOSOPHY.
The meaning of this fable seems to be thus :
Orpheus's music is of two sorts, the one appeasThe tale of Orpheus, though common, had ing the infernal powers, the other attracting beasts never the fortune to be fitly applied in every point. and trees. The first may be fitly applied to It may seem to represent the image of philoso- natural philosophy, the second to moral or civil phy: for the person of Orpheus, a man admirable discipline. ind divine, and so excellently skilled in all kind The most noble work of natural philosophy is of harmony, that with his sweet ravishing music the restitution and renovation of things corrupthe did, as it were, charm and allure all things to ible: the other, as a lesser degree of it, the prefollow him, may carry a singular description of servation of bodies in their estates, detaining philosophy; for the labours of Orpheus do so far them from dissolution and putrefaction: and if exceed the labours of Hercules in dignity and this gift may be in mortals, certainly it can be efficacy, as the works of wisdom excel the works done by no other means than by the due and exof fortitude.
quisite temper of nature, as by the melody and Orpheus, for the love he bare to his wife, snatch- delicate touch of an instrument; but seeing it is ed, as it were, from him by untimely death, re- of all things most difficult, it is seldom or never solved to go down to hell with his harp, to try if he attained unto; and in all likelihood for no other might obtain her of the infernal power. Neither reason, more than through curious diligence and were his hopes frustrated : for having appeased untimely impatience : and therefore philosophy, them with the melodious sound of his voice and hardly able to produce so excellent an effect in a touch, prevailed at length so far, as that they pensive humour, and that without cause, busies granted him leave to take her away with him; but herself about human objects, and by persuasion on this condition, that she should follow him, and and eloquence insinuating the love of virtue, he look not back upon her till he came to the light equity, and concord, in the minds of men, draws of the upper world ; which he, impatient of, out multitudes of people to a society, makes them of love and care, and thinking that he was in a subject to laws, obedient to government, and formanner past all danger, nevertheless violated, in- getful of their unbridled affections, whilst they somuch that the covenant is broken, and she forth- give ear to precepts, and submit themselves in
discipline: whence follows the building of houses, which Democritus afterwards laboured to mainerecting of towns, planting of fields and orchards tain, attributing eternity to the first matter and with trees, and the like; insomuch, that it would not to the world : in which he comes somewhat not be amiss to say, that even thereby stones and near the truth of divine writ, telling us of a huge woods were called together and settled in order. deformed mass, before the beginning of the six And after serious trial made and frustrated about days' work. the restoring of a body mortal, this care of civil The meaning of the fable is this: by Cælum may affairs follows in his due place; because, by a be understood that vast concavity or vaulted complain demonstration of the inevitable necessity pass that comprehends all matter ; and by Saturn of death, men's minds are moved to seek eternity may be meant the matter itself, which takes from by the fame and glory of their merits. It is also his parent all power of generating; for the uniwisely said in the fable, that Orpheus was averse versality or whole bulk of matter always remains from the love of women and marriage, because the same, neither increasing or diminishing in rethe delights of wedlock and the love of children spect of the quality of its nature; but by the divers do for the most part hinder men from enterprising agitations and motions of it were first produced great and noble designs for the public good, hold- imperfect, and ill agreeing compositions of things, ing posterity a sufficient step to immortality, with making, as it were, certain worlds for proofs or out actions.
in process of time a perfect fabric Besides, even the very works of wisdom, al- or structure was framed, which would still retain though amongst all human things they do most and keep his form: and therefore the government excel, do nevertheless meet with their periods. of the first age was shadowed by the kingdom of For it happens that after kingdoms and common- Saturn, who for the frequent dissolutions and wealths have flourished for a time, even tumults, short continuances of things was aptly feigned to and seditions, and wars arise; in the midst of devour his children. The succeding government which hurly-burlies first laws are silent; men re- was deciphered by the reign of Jupiter, who conturn to the pravity of their natures; fields and fined those continual mutations unto Tartarus, a towns are wasted and depopulated ; and then, if place signifying perturbation. This place seems their fury continue, learning and philosophy must to be all that middle place between the lower suneeds be dismembered, so that a few fragments perficies of heaven and the centre of the earth, in only in some places will be found, like the scatter- which all perturbations, and fragility, and mortaled boards of shipwreck, so as a barbarous age ity or corruption are frequent. During the former must follow; and the streams of Helicon being generation of things in the time of Saturn's reign hid under the earth, until the vicissitude of things Venus was not born: for so long as in the unipassing, they break out again and appear in some vereality of matter, discord was better and more other remote nation, though not perhaps in the prevalent than concord, it was necessary that there same climate.
should be a total dissolution or mutation, and that
in the whole fabric; and by this kind of generaCELUM, OR BEGINNINGS.
tion were creatures produced before Saturn was
deprived of his genitals. When this ceased, that We have it from the poets by tradition, that other which was wrought by Venus immediately Cælum was the ancientest of the gods, and that came in, consisting in settled and prevalent conhis members of generation were cut off by his son cord of things, so that mutation should be only in Saturn. Saturn had many children, but devoured respect of the parts, the universal fabric remaining them as soon as they were born ; Jupiter only whole and inviolate. escaped, who being come to man's estate, thrust Saturn, they say, was deposed and cast down Saturn his father into hell, and so usurped the into hell, but not destroyed and utterly extinkingdom. Moreover, he pared off his father's guished ; because there was an opinion that the genitals with the same falchion that Saturn dis- world should relapse into the old chaos and intermembered Cælum, and cast them into the sea, regnum again, which Lucretius prayed might not whence came Venus. Not long after this, Jupiter, happen in his time: being scarce settled and confirmed in this kingdom,
“Quod procul à nobis flectat fortuna gubernans; was invaded by two memorable wars; the first Et ratio potius quam res persuadeat ipsa.” of the Titans, in the suppressing of which Sol,
O, guiding providence be gracious who alone of all the Titans favouring Jupiter's That this dooms-day be far removed from us; side, took exceeding great pains. The second was And grant that by us it may be expected,
Rather than on us, in our times effected. of the giants, whom Jupiter himself destroyed with thunderbolts; and so all wars being ended, For afterwards the world should subsist by its he reigned secure.
own quantity and power : yet from the beginning This fable seems enigmatically to show from there was no rest; for in the celestial regions there whence all things took their beginning, not first followed notable mutations, which by the much differing from that opinion of philosophers, power of the sun, predominating over superior
bodies, were so quieted, that the state of the world for then by the power of that divine word, proshould be conserved; and afterward, in inferior ducat, matter at the Creator's command did conbodies, by the suppressing and dissipating of in- gregate itself, not by ambages or turnings, but undations, tempests, winds, and general earth- instantly, to the production of its work into an act quakes, a more peaceful, durable agreement and and constitution of species: and thus far have we tranquillity of things followed. But of this fable the narration of Proteus, free and unrestrained, toit may convertibly be said, that the fable contains gether with his flock complete; for the universality philosophy, and philosophy again the fable: for of things, with their ordinary structures and comwe know by faith, that all these things are no-positions of species, bears the face of matter not thing else but the long-since ceasing and failing limited and constrained, and of the flock also of oracles of sense, seeing that both the matter and material beings. Nevertheless, if any expert minifabric of the world are most truly referred to a ster of nature shall encounter matter by main force, Creator.
vexing and urging her with intent and purpose to reduce her to nothing, she contrariwise, seeing an
nihilation and absolute destruction cannot be effectPROTEUS, OR MATTER.
ed by the omnipotency of God, being thus caught The poets say that Proteus was Neptune's in the straits of necessity, doth change and turn herdsman; a grave sire, and so excellent a pro- herself into divers strange forms and shapes phet, that he might well be termed thrice excel- of things, so that at length, by fetching a circuit as lent : for he knew not only things to come, but it were, she comes to a period, and, if the force coneven things past as well as present: so that be- tinue, betakes herself to her former being. The sides his skill in divination, he was the messen- reason of which constraint or binding will be more ger and interpreter of all antiquities and hidden facile and expedite, if matter be laid on by mana mysteries. The place of his abode was a huge cles, that is, by extremities. vast cave, where his custom was every day at Now whereas it is feigned that Proteus was a noon to count his flock of sea-calves, and then to prophet, well skilled in three differences of times, go to sleep. Moreover, he that desired his advice it hath an excellent agreement with the nature of in any thing could by no other means obtain it, but matter : for it is necessary that he that will know by catching him in manacles, and holding him fast the properties and proceedings of matter, should there with: who, nevertheless, to be at liberty, comprehend in his understanding the sum of all would turn himself into all manner of forms and things which have been, which are, or shall be, alwonders of nature: sometimes into fire, sometimes though no knowledge can extend so far as to sininto water, sometimes into the shape of beasts, and gular and individual beings. the like, till at length he was restored to his own form again. This fable may seem to unfold the secrets of na
MEMNON, OR A YOUTH TOO FOR
WARD. ture and the properties of matter. For under the person of Proteus, the first matter, which, next to The poets say that Memnon was the son of God, is the ancientest thing, may be represented ; Aurora, who, adorned with beautiful armour, and for matter dwells in the concavity of heaven as in animated with popular applause, came to the Tro
jan war: where, in rash boldness, hasting into, He is Neptune's bond-man, because the opera- and thirsting after glory, he enters into single comtions and dispensations of matter are chiefly exer- bat with Achilles, the valiantest of all the Grecians, cised in liquid bodies.
by whose powerful hand he was there slain. But His flock or herd seems to be nothing but the Jupiter, pitying his destruction, sent birds to moordinary species of sensible creatures, plants, and dulate certain lamentable and doleful notes at the metals, in which matter seems to diffuse, and, as it solemnization of his funeral obsequies. Whose were, spend itself; so that after the forming and statue also, the sun reflecting on it with his mornperfecting of these kinds, having ended as it were ing beams, did usually, as is reported, send forth her task, she seems to sleep and take her rest, not a mournful sound. attempting the composition of any more species. This fable may be applied to the unfortunate And this may be the moral of Proteus counting of destinies of hopeful young men, who, like the his flock, and of his sleeping.
sons of Aurora, puffed up with the glittering show Now this is said to be done, not in the morning of vanity and ostentation, attempt actions above nor in the evening, but at noon: to wit, at such their strength, and provoke and press the most time as is most fit and convenient for the perfect- valiant heroes to combat with them, so that meeting and bringing forth of species out of matter ing with their overmatch, are vanquished and deduly prepared and predisposed ; and in the middle, stroyed, whose untimely death is oft accompanied
1 as it were, between their beginnings and declina- with much pity and commiseration. For among tions, which we know sufficiently, out of the holy all the disasters that can happen to mortals, there history, to be done about the time of the creation; lis none so lamentable and so powerful to move
compassion as the flower of virtue cropped with The success of such intentions being for the most too sudden a mischance. Neither hath it been part measured by the nature and disposition of often known that men in their green years become so those to whom men sue for grace: who, if of loathsome and odious, as that at their deaths either themselves they be endowed with no gifts and sorrow is stinted or commiseration moderated: but ornaments of nature, but are only of haughty and that lamentatiop and mourning do not only flutter malignant spirits, intimated by the person of Juno, about their obsequies like those funeral birds, but then are suitors to know that it is good policy to this pitiful commiseration doth continue for a long omit all kind of appearance that may any way space, and specially by occasions and new mo- show their own least praise or worth ; and that tions, and beginning of great matters, as it were they much deceive themselves in taking any other by the morning rays of the sun, their passions and course. Neither is it enough to show deformity desires are renewed.
in obsequiousness, unless they also appear even
abject and base in their very persons. TITHONUS, OR SATIETY. It is elegantly feigned that Tithonus was the
CUPID, OR AN ATOM. paramour of Aurora who, desirous to enjoy his
That which the poets say of Cupid or Love, company, petitioned Jupiter that he might never die, but through womanish oversight, forgetting
cannot properly be attributed to one and the selfto insert this clause in her petition, that he might
same person, and yet the difference is such that by not withal grow old and feeble, it followed that he rejecting the confusion of persons, the similitude
be received. was only freed from the condition of mortality;
They say that Love is the ancientest of all the but for old age that came upon him in a marvellous and miserable fashion, agreeable to the state
gods, and of all things else except chaos, which of those who cannot die, yet every day grow as touching chaos, that by the ancients was never
they hold to be a contemporary with it. Now, weaker and weaker with age.
Insomuch that Jupiter, in commiseration of that his misery, did dignified with divine honour, or with the title of at length metamorphose him into a grasshopper. him in without a father; only some are of opinion
the god. And as for Love, they absolutely bring This fable seems to be an ingenious character that he came of an egg that was laid by Nox, and or description of pleasure, which in the beginning, that on chaos he begat the god and all things else. and as it were in the morning, seems to be plea- There are four things attributed to him, perpetual sant and delightful, that men desire they might enjoy and monopolize it forever unto themselves, infancy, blindness, nakedness, and an archery.
There was also another Love, which was the unmindful of that satiety and loathing, which, like
youngest of the gods, and he, they say, was the old age, will come upon them before they be aware. And so at last, when the use of pleasure leaves son of Venus. On this also they bestow the
attributes of the elder Love, as in some sort will men, the desire and affection not yet yielding unto death, it comes to pass that men please themselves apply unto him.
This fable tends and looks to the cradle of naonly by talking and commemorating those things which brought pleasure unto them in the flower of ture, Love seeming to be the appetite or desire of their age, which may be observed in libidinous
the first matter, or, to speak more plain, the na
tural motion of the atom, which is that ancient and
say, no cause, seeing every cause is a parent to its
cause in nature, as for God we always except him, JUNO'S SUITOR, OR BASENESS.
for nothing was before it, and therefore no efficient The poets say, that Jupiter, to enjoy his lustful cause of it. Neither was there any thing better delights, took upon him the shape of sundry crea- known to nature, and therefore neither genus nor tures, as of a bull, of an eagle, of a swan, and of form. Wherefore whatsoever it is, positive it is, a golden shower: but being a suitor to Juno, he and but inexpressible. Moreover, if the manner came in a form most ignoble and base, an object and proceeding of it were to be conceived, yet full of contempt and scorn, resembling indeed a could it not be by any cause, seeing that, next miserable cuckoo, weather-beaten with rain and unto God, it is the cause of causes, itself only tempest, numbed, quaking, and half dead with without any cause. And perchance there is no cold.
likelihood that the manner of it may be contained This fable is wise, and seems to be taken out of or comprehended within the narrow compass of the bowels of morality; the sense of it being this, human search. Not without reason therefore it that men boast not too much of themselves, think- is feigned to come of an egg that was laid by ing hy ostentation of their own worth to insinuate Nox. Certainly the divine philosopher grants themselves into estimation and favour with men.
Eccl. iii. 11: “Cuncta fecit tempesta