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The Bearer of the charmed Rod, the suttle Mercurie,
This done, arose with waving wings and from that place did flie.
And as he hovered in the Ayre he viewde the fieldes bylow
Of Atticke and the towne it selfe with all the trees that grow
In Lycey where the learned Clarkes did wholsome preceptes show.
By chaunce the verie selfesame day the virgins of the towne
Of olde and auncient custome bare in baskets on their crowne
Beset with garlands fresh and gay and strowde with flowres sweete
To Pallas towre such sacrifice as was of custome meete.
The winged God beholding them returning in a troupe
Continued not directly forth, but gan me downe to stoupe,
And fetch a wyndlasse round about. And as the hungry kite
Beholding unto sacrifice a Bullocke redie dight,
Doth sore about his wished pray desirous for to snatche
But that he dareth not for such as stand about and watch:
So Mercurie with nimble wings doth keepe a lower gate
About Minervas loftie towres in round and wheeling rate.
As far as doth the Morning starre in cleare and streaming light
Excell all other starres in heaven: as far also as bright
Dame Phebe dimmes the Morning starre, so far did Herses face
Staine all the Ladies of hir troupe: she was the verie grace
And beautie of that solemne pompe, and all that traine so fayre.
Joves sonne was ravisht with the sight, and hanging in the ayre
Began to swelt within himselfe, in case as when the poulder
Hath driven the Pellet from the Gunne, the Pellet ginnes to smoulder:
And in his flying waxe more hote. In smoking brest he shrowdes
His flames not brought from heaven above but caught beneath the clouds.
He leaves his jorney toward heaven and takes another race
Not minding any lenger time to hide his present case.
So great a trust and confidence his beautie to him gave
Which though it seemed of it selfe sufficient force to have,
Yet was he curious for to make himselfe more fine and brave.
He kembd his head and strokt his beard, and pried on every side
To see that in his furniture no wrinkle might be spide.
And forbicause his Cloke was fringde and garded brode with golde,
He cast it on his shoulder up most seemely to beholde.
He takes in hand his charmed rod that bringeth things asleepe
And wakes them when he list againe. And lastly taketh keepe
That on his faire welformed feete his golden shooes sit cleene,
And that all other things therto well correspondent beene.
In Cecrops Court were Chambers three set far from all resort
With yvorie beddes all furnished in far most royall sort.
Of which Aglauros had the left and Pandrose had the right,
And Herse had the middlemost. She that Aglauros hight
First markt the comming of the God, and asking him his name
Demaunded him for what entent and cause he thither came.
Pleiones Nephew, Maias sonne, did make hir aunswere thus:
I am my fathers messenger, his pleasure to discusse
To mortall folke and hellish fiendes as list him to commaund.
My father is the mightie Jove. To that thou doste demaund
I will not feyne a false excuse. I aske no more but graunt
To keepe thy sisters counsell close, and for to be the Aunt
Of such the issue as on hir my chaunce shalbe to get.
Thy sister Herse is the cause that hath me hither fet.
I pray thee beare thou with my love that is so firmely set.
Aglauros cast on Mercurie hir scornfull eyes aside,
With which against Minervas will hir secretes late she spide,
Demaunding him in recompence a mighty masse of Golde:
And would not let him enter in until the same were tolde.
The warlike Goddesse cast on hir a sterne and cruell looke,
And fetched such a cutting sigh that forcibly it shooke
Both brest and brestplate, wherewithall it came unto hir thought
How that Aglauros late ago against hir will had wrought
In looking on the Lemman childe contrarie to hir othe,
The whiche she tooke hir in the chest, for which she waxed wrothe.
Againe she saw hir cancred heart maliciously repine
Against hir sister and the God. And furthermore in fine
How that the golde which Mercurie had given hir for hir meede,
Would make hir both in welth and pride all others to exceede.
She goes me straight to Envies house, a foule and irksome cave,
Replete with blacke and lothly filth and stinking like a grave.
It standeth in a hollow dale where neyther light of Sunne
Nor blast of any winde or Ayre may for the deepenesse come.
A dreyrie sad and dolefull den ay full of slouthfull colde
As which ay dimd with smoldring smoke doth never fire beholde,
When Pallas, that same manly Maide, approched nere this plot,
She staide without, for to the house in enter might she not,
And with hir Javelin point did give a push against the doore.
The doore flue open by and by and fell me in the floore.
There saw she Envie sit within fast gnawing on the flesh
Of Snakes and Todes, the filthie foode that keepes hir vices fresh.
It lothde hir to beholde the sight. Anon the Elfe arose
And left the gnawed Adders flesh, and slouthfully she goes
With lumpish laysure like a Snayle, and when she saw the face
Of Pallas and hir faire attire adournde with heavenly grace,
She gave a sigh, a sorie sigh, from bottome of hir heart.
Hir lippes were pale, hir cheekes were wan, and all hir face was swart:
Hir bodie leane as any Rake. She looked eke askew.
Hir teeth were furde with filth and drosse, hir gums were waryish blew.
The working of hir festered gall had made hir stomacke greene.
And all bevenimde was hir tongue. No sleepe hir eyes had seene.
Continuall Carke and cankred care did keepe hir waking still:
Of laughter (save at others harmes) the Helhound can no skill.
It is against hir will that men have any good successe,
And if they have, she frettes and fumes within hir minde no lesse
Than if hir selfe had taken harme. In seeking to annoy
And worke distresse to other folke, hir selfe she doth destroy.
Thus is she torment to hir selfe. Though Pallas did hir hate,
Yet spake she briefly these few wordes to hir without hir gate:
Infect thou with thy venim one of Cecrops daughters three,
It is Aglauros whome I meane, for so it needes must bee.
This said, she pight hir speare in ground, and tooke hir rise thereon.
And winding from that wicked wight did take hir flight anon.
The Caitife cast hir eye aside, and seeing Pallas gon,
Began to mumble with hir selfe the Divels Paternoster,
And fretting at hir good successe, began to blow and bluster.
She takes a crooked staffe in hand bewreathde with knubbed prickes,
And covered with a coly cloude, where ever that she stickes
Hir filthie feete, she tramples downe and seares both grasse and corne:
That all the fresh and fragrant fieldes seeme utterly forlorne.
And with hir staffe she tippeth off the highest poppie heades.
Such poyson also every where ungraciously she sheades,
That every Cottage where she comes and every Towne and Citie
Doe take infection at hir breath. At length (the more is pitie)
She found the faire Athenian towne that flowed freshly then
In feastfull peace and joyfull welth and learned witts of men.
And forbicause she nothing saw that might provoke to weepe,
It was a corsie to hir heart hir hatefull teares to keepe.
Now when she came within the Court, she went without delay
Directly to the lodgings where King Cecrops daughters lay,
There did she as Minerva bad. She laide hir scurvie fist
Besmerde with venim and with filth upon Aglauros brist,
The whiche she filde with hooked thornes: and breathing on hir face
Did shead the poyson in hir bones: which spred it selfe apace,
As blacke as ever virgin pitch through Lungs and Lights and all.
And to th'intent that cause of griefe abundantly should fall,
She placed ay before hir eyes hir sisters happie chaunce
In being wedded to the God, and made the God to glaunce
Continually in heavenly shape before hir wounded thought.
And all these things she painted out, which in conclusion wrought
Such corsies in Aglauros brest that sighing day and night
She gnawde and fretted in hir selfe for very cancred spight.
And like a wretche she wastes hir selfe with restlesse care and pine
Like as the yse whereon the Sunne with glimering light doth shine.
Hir sister Herses good successe doth make hir heart to yerne,
In case as when that fire is put to greenefeld wood or fearne
Whych giveth neyther light nor heate, but smulders quite away:
Sometime she minded to hir Sire hir sister to bewray,
Who (well she knew) would yll abide so lewde a part to play.
And oft she thought with wilfull hande to brust hir fatall threede,
Bicause she woulde not see the thing that made hir heart to bleede.
At last she sate hir in the doore and leaned to a post
To let the God from entring in. To whome now having lost
Much talke and gentle wordes in vayne, she said: Sir, leave I pray
For hence I will not (be you sure) onlesse you go away.
I take thee at thy word (quoth he) and therewithall he pusht
His rod against the barred doore, and wide it open rusht.
She making proffer for to rise, did feele so great a waight
Through all hir limmes, that for hir life she could not stretch hir straight.
She strove to set hirself upright: but striving booted not.
Hir hamstrings and hir knees were stiffe, a chilling colde had got
In at hir nayles, through all hir limmes. And eke hir veynes began
For want of bloud and lively heate, to waxe both pale and wan.
And as the freting Fistula forgrowne and past all cure
Runnes in the flesh from place to place, and makes the sound and pure
As bad or worser than the rest, even so the cold of death
Strake to hir heart, and closde hir veines, and lastly stopt hir breath:
She made no profer for to speake, and though she had done so
It had bene vaine. For way was none for language forth to go.
Hir throte congealed into stone: hir mouth became hard stone,
And like an image sate she still, hir bloud was clearely gone,
The which the venim of hir heart so fowly did infect,
That ever after all the stone with freckled spots was spect.
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