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Merlin bewrayes to Britomart
The state of Arthegall:
And shewes the famous progeny,
Which from them springen shall.
In living brests, ykindled first above Emongst th' eternall spheres and lamping sky, And thence pourd into men, which men call Love; Not that same, which doth base affections move In brutish mindes, and filthy lust inflame; But that sweete fit that doth true beautie love, And choseth Vertue for his dearest Dame, Whence spring all noble deedes and never-dying fame:
Well did Antiquity a God thee deeme,
That over mortall mindes hast so great might,
To order them as best to thee doth seeme,
And all their actions to direct aright:
The fatall purpose of divine foresight
Thou doest effect in destined descents,
Through deepe impression of thy secret might,
And stirredst up th' Heroes high intents,
Which the late world admyres for wondrous moniments.
But thy dredd dartes in none doe triumph more,
Ne braver proofe in any of thy powre
Shewd'st thou, then in this royall Maid of
Making her seeke an unknowne Paramoure,
From the worlds end, through many a bitter stowre:
From whose two loynes thou afterwardes did rayse
Most famous fruites of matrimoniall bowre,
Which through the earth have spredd their living prayse, That fame in tromp of gold eternally displayes.
Begin then, O my dearest sacred Dame,
Daughter of Phœbus and of Memorye,
That doest ennoble with immortall name
The warlike Worthies, from antiquitye,
In thy great volume of Eternitye;
Begin, O Clio, and recount from hence
My glorious Soveraines goodly Auncestrye,
Till that by dew degrees, and long protense,
Thou have it lastly brought unto her Excellence.
Full many wayes within her troubled mind
Old Glaucè cast to cure this Ladies griefe; Full many wayes she sought, but none could find, Nor herbes, nor charmes, nor counsel that is chiefe And choicest med'cine for sick harts reliefe: Forthy great care she tooke, and greater feare, Least that it should her turne to fowle repriefe And sore reproch, whenso her father deare Should of his dearest daughters hard misfortune heare.
At last she her avisde, that he which made
That Mirrhour, wherein the sicke Damosell
So straungely vewed her straunge lovers shade,
To weet, the learned Merlin, well could tell
Under what coast of heaven the Man did dwell,
And by what means his love might best be wrought:
For, though beyond the Africk Ismaël
Or th' Indian Peru he were, she thought
Him forth through infinite endevour to have sought.
Forthwith themselves disguising both in straunge
And base attyre, that none might them bewray, To Maridunum, that is now by chaunge Of name Cayr-Merdin cald, they tooke their way : There the wise Merlin whylome wont (they say) To make his wonne, low underneath the ground, In a deepe delve, farre from the vew of day, That of no living wight he mote be found, Whenso he counseld with his sprights encompast round.
And, if thou ever happen that same way
To traveill, go to see that dreadful place:
It is an hideous hollow cave (they say)
Under a rock that lyes a litle space
From the swift Barry, tombling downe apace
Emongst the woody hilles of Dyneuowre:
But dare thou not, I charge, in any cace
To enter into that same balefull bowre,
For feare the cruell Feendes should thee unwares devowre:
But standing high aloft low lay thine eare,
And there such ghastly noyse of yron chaines And brasen Caudrons thou shalt rombling heare, Which thousand sprights with long enduring paines Doe tosse, that it will stonn thy feeble braines; And oftentimes great grones, and grievous stownds, When too huge toile and labour them constraines; And oftentimes loud strokes and ringing sowndes From under that deepe Rock most horribly rebowndes.
The cause, some say, is this: A litle whyle
Before that Merlin dyde, he did intend
A brasen wall in compas to compyle
About Cairmardin, and did it commend
Unto these sprights to bring to perfect end:
During which worke the Lady of the Lake,
Whom long he lov'd, for him in hast did send;
Who, thereby forst his workemen to forsake,
Them bownd, till his retourne, their labour not to slake.
In the meane time through that false Ladies traine
He was surprisd, and buried under beare,
Ne ever to his worke returnd againe:
Nath'lesse those feends may not their work forbeare,
So greatly his commandement they feare,
But there doe toyle and traveile day and night,
Untill that brasen wall they up doe reare:
For Merlin had in Magick more insight
Then ever him before or after living wight:
For he by wordes could call out of the sky
Both Sunne and Moone, and make them him obay;
The land to sea, and sea to maineland dry,
And darksom night he eke could turne to day;
Huge hostes of men he could alone dismay,
And hostes of men of meanest thinges could frame,
Whenso him list his enimies to fray:
That to this day, for terror of his fame, The feendes do quake when any him to them does name.
And, sooth, men say that he was not the sonne
Of mortall Syre or other living wight,
But wondrously begotten, and begonne
By false illusion of a guilefull Spright
On a faire Lady Nonne, that whilome hight
Matilda, daughter to Pubidius
Who was the Lord of Mathtraval by right,
And coosen unto King Ambrosius;
Whence he indued was with skill so merveilous.
He nought was moved at their entraunce bold,
For of their comming well he wist afore;
Yet list them bid their businesse to unfold,
As if ought in this world in secrete store
Were from him hidden, or unknowne of yore.
Then Glaucè thus; "Let not it thee offend,
That we thus rashly through thy darksom dore
Unwares have prest; for either fatall end,
Or other mightie cause, us two did hether send."
They, here arriving, staid awhile without,
Ne durst adventure rashly in to wend,
But of their first intent gan make new dout
For dread of daunger, which it might portend;
Untill the hardy Mayd (with Love to frend)
First entering, the dreadfull Mage there fownd
Deepe busied 'bout worke of wondrous end,
And writing straunge characters in the grownd,
With which the stubborne feendes he to his service bownd.
He bad tell on: And then she thus began;
"Now have three Moones with borrowd brothers light
Thrise shined faire, and thrise seemd dim and wan,
Sith a sore evill, which this Virgin bright
Tormenteth and doth plonge in dolefull plight,
First rooting tooke; but what thing it mote bee,
Or whence it sprong, I cannot read aright:
But this I read, that, but if remedee
Thou her afford, full shortly I her dead shall see."
Therewith th' Enchaunter softly gan to smyle
At her smooth speeches, weeting inly well
That she to him dissembled womanish guyle,
And to her said; 66
Beldame, by that
More neede of leach-crafte hath your Damozell,
Then of my skill: who helpe may have elsewhere,
In vaine seekes wonders out of Magick spell."
Th' old woman wox half blanck those wordes to heare; And yet was loth to let her purpose plaine appeare;
And to him said; "Yf any leaches skill,
Or other learned meanes, could have redrest
This my deare daughters deepe-engraffed ill,
Certes I should be loth thee to molest:
But this sad evill, which doth her infest,
Doth course of naturall cause farre exceed,
And housed is within her hollow brest,
That either seemes some cursed witches deed,
Or evill spright, that in her doth such torment breed."
The Wisard could no lenger beare her bord,
But, bursting forth in laughter, to her sayd; 66 Glaucè, what needes this colourable word To cloke the cause that hath itselfe bewrayd? Ne ye, fayre Britomartis, thus arayd, More hidden are then Sunne in cloudy vele; Whom thy good fortune, having fate obayd, Hath hether brought for succour to appele; The which the Powres to thee are pleased to revele."