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GILES AND PHINEAS FLETCHER.
MERCY DWELLING IN HEAVEN AND PLEADING FOR THE
GUILTY, WITH JUSTICE DESCRIBED BY HER QUALITIES.
From Giles Fletcher's Christ's Victory in Heaven.
But Justice had no sooner Mercy seen
Smoothing the wrinkles of her father's brow,
But up she starts, and throws herself between :
As when a vapour from a moory slough,
Meeting with fresh Eöus, that but now
Open'd the world, which all in darkness lay,
Doth heaven's bright face of his rays disarray,
And sads the smiling orient of the springing day.
She was a virgin of austere regard:
Not as the world esteems her, deaf and blind;
But as the eagle, that hath oft compar'd
Her eye with heaven's, so, and more brightly
Her lamping sight: for she the same could wind
Into the solid heart, and, with her ears,
The silence of the thought loud speaking hears,
And in one hand a pair of even scales she wears.
No riot of affection revel kept
Within her breast, but a still apathy
Possessed all her soul, which softly slept
Securely without tempest; no sad cry
Awakes her pity, but wrong'd Poverty,
Sending his eyes to heav'n swimming in tears,
With hideous clamours ever struck her ears,
Whetting the blazing sword that in her hand she
The winged lightning is her Mercury,
And round about her mighty thunders sound :
Impatient of himself lies pining by
Pale Sickness, with bis kercher'd head upwound,
And thousand noisome plagues attend her round.
But if her cloudy brow but once grow foul,
The flints do melt, and rocks do water roll,
And airy mountains shake, and frighted shadows
Famine, and bloodless Care, and bloody War ;
Want, and the want of knowledge how to use
Abundance; Age, and Fear, that runs afar
Before his fellow Grief, that aye pursues
His winged steps; for who would not refuse
Grief's company, a dull and raw-bon'd spright,
That lanks the cheeks, and pales the freshest sight,
Unbosoming the cheerful breast of all delight?
JUSTICE ADDRESSING THE CREATOR.
Upon two stony tables, spread before her,
She leant her bosom, more than stony þard;
There slept th' impartial judge and strict restorer
Of wrong or right, with pain or with reward ;
There hung the score of all our debts-the card
Where good and bad, and life, and death, were
painted : Was never heart of mortal so untainted, But, when that scroll was read, with thousand ter
Witness the thunder that Mount Sinai heard,
When all the hill with fiery clouds did flame,
And wand’ring Israel, with the sight afеard,
Blinded with seeing, durst not touch the same,
But like a wood of shaking leaves became.
On this dead Justice, she, the living law,
Bowing herself with a majestic awe,
All heaven, 'to hear her speech, did into silence
MERCY BRIGHTENING THE RAINBOW.
High in the airy element there hung
Another cloudy sea, that did disdain,
As though his purer waves from heaven sprung,
To crawl on earth, as doth the sluggish main ;
But it the earth would water with his rain,
That ebb’d and flow'd as wind and season would; And oft the sun would cleave the limber mould To alabaster rocks, that in the liquid rolld.
Beneath those sunny banks a darker cloud,
Dropping with thicker dew, did melt apace,
And bent itself into a hollow shroud,
On which, if Mercy did but cast her face,
A thousand colours did the bow enchase,
That wonder was to see the silk distain'd
With the resplendence from her beauty gain’d,
And Iris paint her locks with beams so lively feign'd.
About her head a cypress heav'n she wore,
Spread like a veil upheld with silver wire,
In which the stars so burnt in golden ore,
As seem'd the azure web was all on fire:
But hastily, to quench their sparkling ire,
A flood of milk came rolling up the shore,
That on his curded wave swift Argus wore,
And the immortal swan, that did her life deplore.
Yet strange it was so many stars to see,
Without a sun to give their tapers light:
Yet strange it was not that it so should be ;
For, where the sun centres himself by right,
Her face and locks did flame, that at the sight
The heavenly veil, that else should nimbly move,
Forgot his flight, and all incens’d with love,
With wonder, and amazement, did her beauty prove.
Over her hung a canopy of state,
Not of rich tissue, nor of spangled gold,