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Now there,- next the oath of God, that Wrestler
reigns Who fills the land and world with peace, his spealer / Is but a pen, with whieh he down doth bear Blind ignorance, false gods, and superstitious fear.
But me, oh! never le tme, Spirits, forget
That glorious day, when I your standard bore And scorning in the second place to sit,
With you assaulted heaven, his yoke forswore; My dauntless heart yet longs to bleed, and sweat
In such a fray; the more I burn, the more I hate : should he yet offer grace
ease, If subject, we our arms and spite surcease, Such offer should I hate, and scorn so base a peace.
Where are those spirits? Where that haughty rage
That durst with me invade eternal light ? What? Are our hearts fallen too? Droop we with
Can we yet fall from hell and hellish spite !
Daré we with heaven, and not with earth to fight?
And now you states of hell give your advice,
And to these ruins lend your helping hand. This said, and ceased,-straight humming murmurs rise :
Some chafe, some fret, some sad and thoughtful stand,
Some chat, and some new stratagems devise,
And every one heaven's stronger power ban'd,
So when the falling sun hangs o'er the main,
Ready to drop into the western wave,
And with their towers bis reedy head embrave;
All have sharp spears, and all sbrill trumpets have : Their files they double, loud their cornets sound, Now march at length, their troops now gather round: The banks, the broken noise, and turrets fair rebound.
The 2nd Canto commences, as usual with this poet, in a strain of solemn reflection. At the fourth stanza, the following striking metaphor introduces the respondent to the infernal leader:
As when the angry winds with seas conspire,
The white-plum'd hills matching in set array, Invade the earth, and seem with rage on fire ;
While waves with thundering drums whet on the fray, And blasts with whistling fifes new rage inspire:
Yet soon as breathless airs their spight allay, A silent calm ensdes: the hilly main Sinks in itself; and drums unbraced, refrain Their thund'ring noise, while seas sleep on the even plain.
All so the raging storm of cursed fiends, ,
Blown up with sharp reproof and bitter spight, First rose in loud uproar, then falling, ends
And ebbs in silence : when a wily spright
To give an answer for the rest intends :
Once Proteus, now Equivocus he hight.
Of sly deceit, and refin’d perjuries,
The speech of this demon strongly reminds us of the replies of the fallen angels to Satan, in “ Paradise Lost, more particularly that of Belial, who seems to be his counterpart. Fletcher, according to the prejudice of his time, has made Equivocus the patron of the followers of Ignatius, whose qualifications as devilish agents are set forth very much at full in his speech, He advises (and here again the resemblance to Milton is very striking,) the infernal prince to carry the war from heaven to earth; to assail in particular the “Wrestler” and his subjects in the obnoxious
“ little isle" and to employ the agency of his friends the Jesuits for that particular enterprise--the synod approves his counsel.
With that the bold black spirit invades the day,
And heaven, and light, and lord of both defies. All hell run out, and sooty flags display,
A foul deformed rout: heaven shuts his eyes ; The stars look pale, and early mornings' ray
Lays down her head again, and dares not rise : A second night of spirits the air possest; The wakeful cock that late forsook his nest, Maz'd how he was deceived, Aies to his roost and rest.
So when the south, dipping his sable wings
In humid seas, sweeps with his dropping beard The ayer, earth, and ocean, down he flings
The laden trees, the ploughman's hopes new ear'd Swim on the plain; his lips loud thund'rings,
And flashing eyes make all the world afraid :
Light with dark clouds, waters with fires are met,
Canto the third opens with the following stánza :
False world how dost thou witch dim reason's eyes !
I see thy painted face, thy changing fashion : Thy treasures, honours, all are vanities,
Thy comforts, pleasures, joys are all vexation, Thy words are lies; thy oaths foul perjuries,
Thy wages, care, grief, beggary, death, damnation, All this I know : I kno thou dost deceive me, Yet cannot as thou art, but seem'st, conceive thee : I know I should, I must, yet oh! I would not leave thee!
Look as in dreams where the idle fancy plays,
One thinks that fortune high his head advances ; Another spends in woe his weary days;
A third sees sport in love and courtly dances; This groans and weeps, that chants his merry lays;
A sixth to find some glittering treasure chances : Soon as they wake they see their thoughts were vain, And quite forget and mock their idle brain ; This sigbs, that laughs to see how true false dreams can
Such is the world, such life's short acted play:
This base and scorn'd; this high in great esteeming, This poor and patched seems, this rich and gay,
This sick, that strong; yet all is only seeming: Soon as the parts are done, all slip away;
So like, that waking, oft we think we're dreaming, And dreaming hope we wake;-Wake watch mine eyes !
What can be in this world, but flatteries,
and lies ?
The scene now shifts from the infernal regions, to the theatre of the world, and we are introduced to the Jesuits and the countries of Europe most favourable to their opinions and subject to their influence. The fiend Equivocus is dispatched to Rome wlrich is well described as contrasted with its former state.
Say Muses, say, who now in those rich fields
Where silver Tibris swims in golden sands, Who now, ye Muses, that great sceptre wields,
Which once swayed all the earth in servile bands? Who now those Babel towers, once fallen, builds ?
Say, say, how first it fell, how now it stands ? How, and by what degrees that city sunk? Oh! are those haughty sp’rits so basely shrunk, Cæsars to change for friars,-a monarch for a monk?
Upon the ruins of those marble towers,
Founded, and rais'd, with skill and great expence Of ancient kings, great lords, and emperors,
He* builds his Babel up to heaven, and thence Thunders through all the world ; on sandy floors
The ground-work slightly floats, the walls to sense Seem porphyr fair, which blood of martyrs taints'; But was base loam, mixed with strawey saints ; Daub'd with untempered lime, which glittering tinfoil
* The Pope :