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THE ARGVMENT OF THE
Hero, in sacred habit deckt,
Doth priuate sacrifice effect.
Her Skarfs description wrought by fate,
Ostents that threaten her estate.
The strange, yet Phisicall euents,
Leanders counterfeit presents.
In thunder Ciprides descends,
Presaging both the louers ends.
Ecte the Goddesse of remorce,
With vocall and articulate force
Inspires Leucote, Venus swan,
T'excuse the beautious Sestian.
Venus, to wreake her rites abuses,
Creates the monster Eronusis ;
Enflaming Heros Sacrifice,
With lightning darted from her eyes:
And thereof springs the painted beast,
That euer since taints euery breast.
Now from Leanders place she rose, and found
Her haire and rent robe scattred on the ground:
Which taking vp, she euery peece did lay
Vpon an Altar; where in youth of day
She vsde t'exhibite priuate Sacrifice :
Those would she offer to the Deities
Of her faire Goddesse, and her powerfull son,
As relicks of her late-felt passion:
And in that holy sort she vowd to end them,
In hope her violent fancies that did rend them,
Would as quite fade in her loucs holy fire,
As they should in the flames she ment t'inspire.
Then put she on all her religious weedes,
That deckt her in her secret sacred deedes:
A crowne of Isickles, that sunne nor fire
Could euer melt, and figur'd chast desire.
A golden star shinde in her naked breast,
In honour of the Queene-light of the East.
In her right hand she held a siluer wand,
On whose bright top Peristera did stand,
Argument. 14-16 The marginal note is partially clipped away in
Who was a Nymph, but now transformd a Doue,
And in her life was deare in Venus loue:
And for her sake she euer since that time,
Her plentious haire in curled billowes swims
Chusde Doues to draw her Coach through heauens blew clime.
On her bright shoulder: her harmonious lims
Sustainde no more but a most subtile vaile
That hung on them, as it durst not assaile
Their different concord: for the weakest ayre
Could raise it swelling from her bewties fayre:
Nor did it couer, but adumbrate onelie
Her most heart-piercing parts, that a blest eie
Might see (as it did shadow) fearfullie
All that all-loue-deseruing Paradise:
It was as blew as the most freezing skies,
Neere the Seas hew, for thence her Goddesse came :
On it a skarfe she wore of wondrous frame;
In midst whereof she wrought a virgins face,
From whose each cheeke a firie blush did chace
Two crimson flames, that did two waies extend,
Spreading the ample skarfe to either end,
Which figur'd the diuision of her minde,
Whiles yet she rested bashfully inclinde,
And stood not resolute to wed Leander.
This seru'd her white neck for a purple sphere,
And cast it selfe at full breadth downe her back.
There (since the first breath that begun the wrack
Of her free quiet from Leanders lips)
She wrought a Sea in one flame full of ships:
But that one ship where all her wealth did passe
(Like simple marchants goods) Leander was:
For in that Sea she naked figured him;
Her diuing needle taught him how to swim,
And to each thred did such resemblance giue,
For ioy to be so like him, it did liue.
Things senceles liue by art, and rationall die,
By rude contempt of art and industrie.
Scarce could she work but in her strength of thought,
She feard she prickt Leander as she wrought :
And oft would shrieke so, that her Guardian frighted,
Would staring haste, as with some mischiefe cited.
They double life that dead things griefs sustayne:
They kill that feele not their friends liuing payne.
Sometimes she feard he sought her infamie,
And then as she was working of his eie,
She thought to pricke it out to quench her ill :
But as she prickt, it grew more perfect still.
Trifling attempts no serious acts aduance;
The fire of loue is blowne by dalliance.
In working his fayre neck she did so grace it,
She still was working her owne armes t'imbrace it:
That, and his shoulders, and his hands were seene
Aboue the streame, and with a pure Sea greene
She did so queintly shadow euery lim,
All might be seene beneath the waues to swim.
In this conceited skarfe she wrought beside
A Moone in change, and shooting stars did glide
In number after her with bloodie beames,
Which figur'd her affects in their extreames,
Pursuing Nature in her Cynthian bodie,
And did her thoughts running on change implie :
For maids take more delights when they prepare
And thinke of wiues states, than when wiues they are.
Beneath all these she wrought a Fisherman,
Drawing his nets from forth that Ocean;
Who drew so hard ye might discouer well,
The toughned sinewes in his neck did swell :
His inward straines draue out his blood-shot eyes,
And springs of sweat did in his forehead rise:
Yet was of nought but of a Serpent sped,
That in his bosome flew and stung him dead.
And this by fate into her minde was sent,
Not wrought by meere instinct of her intent.
At the skarfs other end her hand did frame,
Neere the forkt point of the deuided flame,
A countrie virgin keeping of a Vine,
Who did of hollow bulrushes combine
Snares for the stubble-louing Grashopper,
And by her lay her skrip that nourisht her.
Within a myrtle shade she sate and sung,
And tufts of wauing reedes about her sprung:
Where lurkt two Foxes, that while she applide
Her trifling snares, their theeueries did deuide:
One to the vine, another to her skrip,
That she did negligently ouerslip:
By which her fruitfull vine and holesome fare
She suffred spoyld to make a childish snare.
These omenous fancies did her soule expresse,
And euery finger made a Prophetesse,
To shew what death was hid in loues disguise,
And make her iudgement conquer destinies.
O what sweet formes fayre Ladies soules doe shrowd,
Were they made seene & forced through their blood,
If through their beauties like rich work through lawn, They would set forth their minds with vertues drawn, 115 In letting graces from their fingers flie,
To still their yas thoughts with industrie :
That their plied wits in numbred silks might sing
Passions huge conquest, and their needels leading
Affection prisoner through their own-built citties,
Pinniond with stories and Arachnean ditties.
Proceed we now with Heros sacrifice;
She odours burnd, and from their smoke did rise
Vnsauorie fumes, that ayre with plagues inspired,
And then the consecrated sticks she fired,
On whose pale flame an angrie spirit flew,
And beate it downe still as it vpward grew.
The virgin Tapers that on th'altar stood,
When she inflam'd them burnd as red as blood :
All sad ostents of that too neere successe,
That made such mouing beauties motionlesse.
Then Hero wept; but her affrighted eyes
(She quickly wrested from the sacrifice:
Shut them, and inwards for Leander lookt,
Searcht her soft bosome, and from thence she pluckt
His louely picture: which when she had viewd,
Her beauties were with all loues ioyes renewd.
The odors sweetned, and the fires burnd cleere,
Leanders forme left no ill obiect there.
Such was his beautie that the force of light,
Whose knowledge teacheth wonders infinite,
The strength of number and proportion,
Nature had plaste in it to make it knowne
Art was her daughter, and what humane wits
For studie lost, intombd in drossie spirits.
After this accident (which for her glorie
Hero could not but make a historie)
Th' inhabitants of Sestus, and Abydus
Did euerie yeare with feasts propitious
To faire Leanders picture sacrifice,
And they were persons of especiall prize
That were allowd it, as an ornament
T'inrich their houses; for the continent
Of the strange vertues all approu'd it held :
For euen the very looke of it repeld
All blastings, witchcrafts, and the strifes of nature
In those diseases that no hearbs could cure.
The woolfie sting of Auarice it would pull,)
And make the rankest miser bountifull.
It kild the feare of thunder and of death;
The discords that conceits ingendereth
Twixt man and wife it for the time would cease:
The flames of loue it quencht, and would increase :
Held in a princes hand it would put out
The dreadfulst Comet: it would ease all doubt
Of threatned mischiefes: it would bring asleepe
Such as were mad: it would enforce to weepe
Most barbarous eyes and many more effects
This picture wrought, and sprung Leandrian sects,
132 Here again a page is omitted in the British Museum copy of ed. 1598. Lines 133-58 follow the edition of 1600.
Of which was Hero first: For he whose forme
(Held in her hand) cleerd such a fatall storme,
From hell she thought his person would defend her,
Which night and Hellespont would quickly send her.
With this confirmd, she vowd to banish quite
All thought of any check to her delite:
And in contempt of sillie bashfulnes,
She would the faith of her desires professe :
Where her Religion should be Policie,
To follow loue with zeale her pietie:
Her chamber her Cathedrall Church should be,
And her Leander her chiefe Deitie.
For in her loue these did the gods forego;
And though her knowledge did not teach her so,
Yet did it teach her this, that what her hart
Did greatest hold in her selfe greatest part,
That she did make her god; and t'was lesse nought
To leaue gods in profession and in thought,
Than in her loue and life: for therein lies
Most of her duties, and their dignities;
And raile the brain-bald world at what it will,
Thats the grand Atheisme that raignes in it still.
Yet singularitie she would vse no more,
For she was singular too much before :
But she would please the world with fayre pretext;
Loue would not leaue her conscience perplext.
Great men that will haue lesse doe for them still,
Must beare them out though th'acts be nere so ill.
Meannes must Pandar be to Excellencie,
Pleasure attones Falshood and Conscience :
Dissembling was the worst (thought Hero then)
And that was best now she must liue with men.
O vertuous loue that taught her to doe best,
When she did worst, and when she thought it lest.
Thus would she still proceed in works diuine,
And in her sacred state of priesthood shine,
Handling the holy rites with hands as bold,
As if therein she did Ioues thunder hold;
And need not feare those menaces of error,
Which she at others threw with greatest terror.
O louely Hero, nothing is thy sin,
Wayd with those foule faults other Priests are in;
That hauing neither faiths, nor works, nor bewties,
T'engender any scuse for slubberd duties,
With as much countnance fill their holie chayres,
And sweat denouncements gainst prophane affayres,
As if their liues were cut out by their places,
And they the only fathers of the Graces.
Now as with setled minde she did repaire
Her thoughts to sacrifice her rauisht haire