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Queen Mab and her light maids the while
Said, certainly (if that they might confess her) Amongst themselves do closely smile,
It would be found some devil did possess her. To see the king caught with this wile,
Thus while they stood, and knew not what With one another jesting:
to do, And to the Fairy-court they went,
“ Women," quoth one, " why do you trifte so ? With mickle joy and merriment,
I pray you, think but wherefore ye came hither ; Which thing was done with good intent;
Shall womb and burthen perish both together?
Bring forth the birth-stool--no, let it alone-
Or else she never can be brought to bed.
Let one that bath some execrable spell,
Make presently her entrance into Hell,
Call Hecate and the damn'd Furies hither, " Help! neighbours, help! for God's sake come And try if they will undertake together with speed!
To help the sick World.” One is out of hand For of your help there never was such need. Dispatch'd for Hell, who by the dread command Midwives, make haste, and dress ye as ye run; Of pow'rful charms brought Hecate away; Either come quickly, or we're all undone ! Who knowing her bus'ness, from herself doth lay The World's in labour, her throws come so thick, That sad aspect she wont to put on there That with the pangs she's waxt stark lunatic." In that black empire, and doth now appear “ But whither? whither?" one was heard to cry. As she's Lucina, giving strength and aid She that call'd thus, doth presently reply,
In birth to women; mild as any maid, “Do ye not see, in ev'ry street and place,
Full of sweet hope her brow seem'd, and her eyes The general World now in a piteous case ?" Darting fresh comfort, like the morning skies. Up got the gossips, and for very haste
Then came the Furies with their bosoms bare, Some came without shoes, some care all unlac'd, Save somewhat cover'd with their snaky hair, As she had first appointed tbem, and found In wreaths contorted, mumbling hellish charms, The World in labour, dropt into a swound : Up to the elbows naked were their arms. Wallowing she lay, like to a boist'rons hulk, Megera, eld'st of these damn'd female fiends, Dropsy'd with riots, and her big-swoln bulk Gnawing her wrists, biting her fingers' ends, Stuff'd with infection, rottenness, and stench; Enter'd the first ; Tisiphone the next, Her blood so fir'd, that nothing might it quench As to revenge her sister throughly vext, But the asp's poison, which stood by her still, In one hand bare a whip, and in the other That in her drought she often us'd to swill. A long-shape knife; the third, which seem'd to Clothed she was in a fool's coat and cap
smother Of rich embroider'd silks, aud in her lap
Her manner of revenge, cast such an eye, A sort of paper puppets, gauds, and toys, As well near turn'd to stone all that stood by, Trifles scarce good enough for girls and boys, Her name Alecto, which no plague doth rue, Which she had dandled, and with them had play'd, Nor never leaves them whom she doth pursue. And of this trash her only god had made.
The women pray the goddess now to stand “ Ont and alas !” quoth one the rest among, Anspicious to them, and to lend her hand “ I doubt me, neighbours, we have stay'd too long! To the sick World; which willingly she granted : Pluck off your rings, lay me your bracelets by, But at the sight, as altogether daunted, Fall to your business, and that speedily;
From her clear face the sprightly vigour fled, Or else I doubt, her spirits consume so fast, And but she saw the women hard bestead, That ere the birth, her strength will quite be past." Out she had gone, nor one glance back had shot, But when more wistly they did her behold, Till Heav'n or Hell she o'er her head had got ; There was not one that once durst be so bold Yet she herself retires next to the door. As to come near her, but stood all amaz'd, The gossips, worse than e'er they were before, Each upon other silently and gaz'd;
At their wits' end, know not which way to take; When as her belly they so big do see,
At length the World beginning to awake As if a tun within the same should be;
Out of the trance, in which she lay as dead, And heard a nose and rumbling in her womb, And somewhat raising her unwieldy head, As at the instant of the general doom :
To bright Lucina call'd for help, that she Thunder and earthquakes raging, and the rocks Now in her travail would propitious be. Tumbling down from their sites, like mighty blocks The goddess, not from feeling of her woe, Roll'd from huge mountains, such a noise they Only to see with what the World might go, make,
As she is dreaded Hecate, having power As tho' in sunder Heaven's huge ax-tree brake, Of all that keep Hell's ugly baleful bower, They either poles their heads together pasht, Commands the Furies to step in and aid her, And all again into the chaos dasht.
And be the midwives, till they safe had laid ber. Some of slight judgment, that were standing by, To do whose pleasure as they were about, Said, it was nothing but a tympany ;
A sturdy housewife pertly stepping out, Others said, sure she human help did want, Cries, “ Hold a while, and let the quean alone; And had conceived by an elephant;
It is no matter, let her lie and groan :
Hold her still to't, we'll do the best we can
Which owns the bastard : for there's not a nation How ber buge womb did past all compass swell, But hath with her committed fornication ;
And by her base and common prostitution, Afric, that's said, mother of monsters is,
Let her but show me such a one as this,
And then I will subscribe (to do her due) Which at this time may very well be us’d, And swear that what is said of her is true." That in this case, when people do desire
Quoth one,“ "Tis monstrous, and for nothing fit; To know the truth, yet doubtful of the sire, And, for a monster, quick let's bury it." When as the woman most of life doth doubt her, Nay," quoth another, “ rather make provision, In grievous throws, to those that are about her, If possibly, to part it by incision, He that is then at the last cast disclos'd,
For were it parted, for aught I can see, The natural father is to be suppos'd;
Both man and woman it may seem to be." And the just law doth faithfully decide,
“Nay,” quoth a third, “ that must be done with That for the nursing he is to provide :
And were it done, our labour is but lost :
(cost, Therefore let's see what in her pangs she'll say, For when w' have wrought the utmost that we can, Lest that this bastard on the land we lay.” He's too much woman, and she's too much man : They lik'd her counsel, and their help deny'd, Therefore, as 'tis a most prodigious birth, But bade her lie and languish till she dy'd, Let it not live here to pollute the earth.” Unless to them she truly would confess
“ Gossip," quoth the last, “ your reason I deny, Who fill'd her belly with this foul excess.
Tis more by law than we can justify ; * Alas!” quoth she," the Devil dress'd me thus, For sire and dam have certainly decreed, Amidst my riut, whilst that incubus
That they will have more comfort of their seed: Wrought on my weakness, and, by him beguild, For he begot it, and 'twas born of her, He only is the father of the child :
And out of doubt they will their own prefer. His instrument, my apish imitation
Therefore, good women, better be advis'd; Of ev'ry monstrous and prodigious fashion, For precious things should not be lightly prizd. Abus'd my weakness; women, it was she,
This Moon-Calf, born under a lucky fate, Who was the bawd betwixt the fiend and me: May pow'rful prove in many a wealthy state; That this is true, it on my death I take;
And, taught the tongues, about some few years Then help me, women, even for pity's sake.”
hence When ominous signs to show themselves began, (As now we're all tongue, and but little sense) That now at hand this monstrous birth fore-ran: It may fall out, for any thing you know, About at noon flew the affrighted owl,
This Moon-Calf may on great employments go ; And dogs in corners set them down to howl; When learned men, for noble action fit, Bitches and wolves, these fatal signs among, Idly at home (unthought of once) may sit; Brought forth most monstrous and prodigious A bawd, or a projector, he may prove, young ;
And by his purse so purchasing him love, And from his height the earth-refreshing Sun, May be exalted to some thriving room, Before his hour his golden head doth run
Where seldom good men suffer'd are to come. Far under us, in doubt his glorious eye
What will you say, hereafter when you see Should be polluted with this prodigy.
The times so graceless and so mad to be, A panic fear upon the people grew,
That men their perfect human shape shall fly, But yet the cause there was not one that knew, To imitate this beast's deformity? When they had heard this; a short tale to tell, Nay, when you see this monster, which you now The Furies straight upon their bus'ness fell, Will hardly breath upon the Earth allow, And long it was not ere there came to light In his caroche with four white Friezlands drawn, The most abhorred, the most fearful sight
And he as py'd and garish as the pawn, That ever eye beheld, a birth so strange,
With a set face, in wbich, as in a book, [look, That at the view, it made their looks to change. He thinks the world for grounds of state should “ Women," quoth one, “stand off, and come not When to some greater one, whose might doth : near it;
[him? The Devil, if he saw it, sure would fearit:
He's known a verier jade than those that draw For by the shape, for aught that I can gather, Nay, at the last, the very killing sight, The child is able to affright the father."
To see this Calf (as Virtue to despite) “ Out!” cries another; “ now, for God's sake, Above just honest men his head to rear, It is so ugly, we may not abide it! [hide it, | Nor to his greatness may they once come near?" The birth is double, and grows side to side,
Each ignorant sot to honour seeks to rise;
But as for Virtue, who did first devise
Goes unregarded, that they who should own her, Is partly man, and yet in face they be
Dare not take notice ever to have known her: Full as prodigious as in parts; the twin
And but that Virtue, when she seemeth thrown That is most man, yet in the face and skin Lower than Hell, bath power to raise her own Is all mere woman : that which most doth take Above the World, and this her monstrous birth, From weaker woman, nature seems to make She long ere this had perish'd from the Earth; A man in show, thereby as to define,
Her fautors banish'd by her foes so bigh, A feminine man, a woman masculine,
Which look so big, as they would scale the sky. Before bred nor begot; a more strange thing But seeing no help, why should I thus complain? Than ever Nile yet into light could bring,
Then to my Moon-Calf I return again, Made as creation merely to despite,
By his dear dam the World so choicely bred, Nor man, nor woman, scarce bermaphrodite. To whom there is such greatness promised ;
For it might well a perfect man amaze,
His blasphemies he useth for his grace,
Where is thy thunder, God, art thou asleep?
Or to what suffering hand giv'st thou to keep Shall get him many friends, for that there be Thy wrath and vengeance? where is now the Many in every place just such as he.
strength The evil love them that delight in ill;
Of thy almighty arm, fails it at length ?
But to return, that ye may plainly see, Yet to my Moon-Calf keep I close the while,
Who by some knave persuaded he hath wit, And that my words for truth that ye may try,
Wben like a brave fool, he to utter it, Of the World's babe thus do I prophesy:
Dare with a desperate boldness roughly pass Mark but the more man of these monstrous twins, Ilis censure on those books, which the poor ass From his first youth, how tow'rdly he begins ! Can never reach to, things from darkness sought, When he should learn, being learn'd to leave the That to the light with blood and sweat were school,
brought : This arrant Moon-Calf, this most beastly fool, And takes upon him those things to control, Just to our English proverb shall be sceni,
Which should the brainless idiot sell his soul, “ Scarcely so wise at fifty, as fifteen :”
All his dull race, and be, can never buy, And when himself he of his home can free, With their base pelf, his glorious industry. Ile to the city comes, where then if be,
Knowledge with him is idle, if it strain
Above the compass of his yesty brain :
For he himself doth nothing understand ; (not:
He would have something, but what 'tis he shows Then in his cups you shall not see him shrink, What he would speak, nay, what to think, be knows To the grand devil a caruuse to drink.
not: Next to his whore he doth himself apply;
He nothing more than truth and knowledge loaths, And to maintain his goatish luxury,
And nothing he admires of man, but clothes. Eats capons cook'd at fitteen crowns a piece,
Now for that I thy dotage dare mislike, With their fat bellies stuff'd with ambergrise. And seein so deep into thy soul to strike ; And being to travel, he sticks not to lay
Because I am so plain, thou lik’st not me:
Why now, poor slave, I no more think of thee,
Misfortune light on him, that aught doth weigh,
And from desert should so much credit win?
But all this poisonous froth Hell hath let fly,
In these last days, at noble Poesy,
Such as high Hear'n were able to affright,
grace her, Hath she so much the devils terrify'd,
As from the Earth (ev'n) utterly to raze her:
What princes lov'd, by peasants now made bateful
And to give open passage to her fall,
It is devis'd to blemish her withal,
In accents so untupeable and vile,
With oils and broths most venomous and base
She soon doth alter; and with fading blue
Blotting the curious workmanship of Nature ;
That ere she be arriv'd at her full stature,
Ere she be drest, she seemeth aged grown,
Naturally lovely, she doth scorn to wear;
It must be white, to make it fresh to show,
And with compounded meal she makes it so,
The Sun yet ne'er exhal'd from any fen,
Thy white goats' hair, Wales, dearer will be sold
Than silk of Naples, or than thread of gold.
Our water-dogs and islands here are shorn,
White hair of women here so much is worn.
And with large sums they stick not to procure
Hair from the dead, yea, and the most unclean; papie
To help their pride they nothing will disdain.
Then in attiring her, and in her sleep,
And in ridiculous visits she doth spend
The other fourth part, to no other end
And to glean from her some deformities,
She thinks herself to be but counterfeit.
Our merchants from all parts 'twixt either Ind,
Which she doth wear; nor thinks they can her
Except she have them in most strange excess.
And in her fashion she is likewise thus,
In ev'ry thing she must be monsterous.
tier piccadil above her crown up-bears ;
Which like a broad sail with the wind doth swell,
Shorn like a man; and for that she will be
Like him in all, her congies she will make
Her sharp stiletto in a riband tyd ; of prostitution; and such lashes given,
Then gird herself close to the pape she shall,
But of this She-Calf now to cease all strife,
But now proceed we with the other twin, Not long ago it was iny chance to meet
Is never man saw yet, except 'twere sbe,
Again, I pray; but where I will not name, Nay, more, it told the very day and hout,
That it new rivers in the earth should wear,
Let them inquire that have desire to kuow : And so remembring an old woman's tale,
The story leaves out that ; let it alone, As she sat drcaining o'er a pot of ale,
And, gossips, with my lale I will go on. That on a time she did the devil meet,
Yet what was worse, the prophecy this spake, And knew him only by his cloven foet;
(As to warn men defence for it to make) So did I look at her's where she did go,
That upon whom one drop should chance to light, To see if her feet were not cloven so.
They should of reason be deprived quite.
But not a man did it one pia regard ;
And of their laughter made it all the theme, That I dare boldly justify, that he
By terming it, the drunken wizard's dream. Who but one hour her loud clack ean endure, There was one honest man, amongst the rest, May undisturbed, safely, and secure
That bare more perfect knowledge in his breast, Sleep under any bells, and never hear
And to himself his private hours had kept, Tho they were rung, the clappers at his ear; To talk with God, whilst others drank or slept, And the long'st night with one sweet sleep beguile, Who, in his inercy to this man, reveal'd As tho' he dreamt of music all the whilo.
That'which in justice he had long conceal'd The very sight of her, when she doth roar,
From the rude herd, but let them still run on Is able to strike dumb the boldest whore
The ready way to their destruction. That ever traded : she'll not stick to tell,
This honest man the prophecy that noted, All in her life that ever her befell;
And things therein more curiously had quoted, How she hath lain with all degrees and ages, Found all those signs were truly come to pass, Her ploughboys, scullions, lackies, and some pages; That should foreshow this rain, and that it was And swear, when we have said all that we can, Nearly at hand; and froin his depth of skill That there is nothing worth a pin in man ; Had many a time forewarn'd them of their ill, And that there's nothing doth so please her mind, And preach'd to them this delnge (for their good) As to see mares and horses do their kind :
As to th' old world Noe did before the floud, And when she's tipsy, howsoe'er 't offend,
But lost his labour; and since 'twas in vain Then all her speech to bawdry doth intend; To talk more to those idiots of the rain, In women's secrets, and she'll name ye all He let them rest, and silent sought about Read to the midwives at the Surgeons-ball. Where he might find some place of safety out, Were the poor coxcomb her dull husband dead, To shroud himself in; for right well he knew, He that durst then this female Moon-Calf wed, That froin this show'r, which then began to brev, Should quite put down the Ronan, which once No roof of tile or thatch he could come in Into the burning gulf, thereby to keep (leapt Could serve him from being wet to the bare skin. His country from devouring with the fame : At length this man bethought bim of a cave, Thus leave we her, of all her sex the Giane. In a huge rock, which likely was to save
Aingngst the rest at the World's labour, there Him from the show'r, upon a hill so steep, Four good old woinen most especial were,
As up the saine a man could hardly creep; Which had been jolly wenches in their days, So that, except Noe's flood should come again, Through all the parish and had borne the praise He never could be raught by any rain: For merry tales; onc, mother Redcap bight, Thither at length, cho' with much toil he clomb, And mother Owlet, somewhat ill of sight,
List'ming to hear what would thereof become. Por sine bad hurt her eyes with watching late, It was not long ere he perceiv'd the skies Then mother Bumby, a mad jocund mate
Settled to rain, and a black cloud arise,
When the wind came about with all his pow'r, The bus'ness done for which they had come thither, Into the tail of this approaching show'r, Quoth jolly mother Redcap at the last,
And it to lighten presently began, “ I see the night is quickly like to waste;
Quicker than thought from east to west that ran; And since the World so kindly now is laid, The thunder following did so fiercely rave, And the child safe, which made us all afraid, And through the thick clouds with such fury drave, Let's have a night on it, wenches; hang up sorrow, | As Hell had been set open for the nonce, And what sleep wants now, take it up to·morrow. And all the devils heard to roar at once : Stir up the fire, and let us have our ale,
And soon the tempest so outrageous grew, And o'er our cups let cach one tell her tale: That it whole hedge-rows by the roots upthrew, My honest gossips, and to put you in,
So wond'rously prodigious was the weather, I'll break the ice, and thus doth mine begin. As Heaven and Earth had meant to go together ; «"There was a certain prophesy of old,
And down the show'r impetuously doth fall, Which to an isle had anciently been told,
Like that which men the hurricano call; That after many years were com'n and gone, As the grand deluge had been come again, Which then came out, and the set time came on ; And all the world should perish by the rain