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I sing the brave adventure of two wights,
And pity 'tis, I cannot call 'em knights.

One was; and he, for brawn and brain, right able
To have been styled of King Arthur's table.
The other was a squire of fair degree,

But, in the action, greater man than he
Who gave, to take at his return from hell,
His three for one. Now, lordings, listen well.

It was the day, what time the powerful moon
Makes the poor Bankside creature wet its shoon,
In 'ts own hall; when these (in worthy scorn
Of those that put out moneys on return
From Venice, Paris, or some inland passage
Of six times to and fro, without embassage,
Or him that backward went to Berwick, or which
Did dance the famous Morris unto Norwich) 114
At Bread-street's Mermaid,115 having dined, and


Proposed to go to Holborn in a wherry:
A harder task than either his to Bristo',
Or his to Antwerp. Therefore, once more, list ho.

114 The persons alluded to in these lines are William Kempe, Taylor, the water poet, and Coryat. — G.

115 The celebrated rendezvous of the wits. It would seem from this allusion that Shelton and Heyden were amongst the frequenters of the house. In another place (see ante, p.57.) Jonson lets us know that he used to send to the Mermaid for his Canary wine. It is curious enough that the house was kept at this time by a vintner of the name of Johnson. -- B.

A dock there is, that called is Avernus,
Of some Bridewell, and may, in time, concern us
All, that are readers: - but, methinks, 'tis odd
That all this while I have forgot some god,
Or goddess to invoke, to stuff my verse;
And, with both bombard-style and phrase, re-

The many perils of this port, and how
Sans help of sibyl, or a golden bough,
Or magic sacrifice, they passed along!
Alcides, be thou succoring to my song.

Thou hast seen hell, some say, and know'st all nooks there,

Canst tell me best how every Fury looks there,
And art a god, if fame thee not abuses,
Always at hand, to aid the merry muses.
Great club-fist, though thy back and bones be sore
Still, with thy former labors, yet, once more,
Act a brave work, call it thy last adventry:
But hold my torch, while I describe the entry
To this dire passage. Say, thou stop thy nose:
'Tis but light pains: indeed this dock's no rose.

In the first jaws appeared that ugly monster, Yelep'd mud, which, when their oars did once stir, Belched forth an air as hot as at the muster Of all your night-tubs when the carts do cluster, Who shall discharge first his merd-urinous load: Thorough her womb they make their famous road, Between two walls; where, on one side, to scar


Were seen your ugly centaurs, ye call car-men, Gorgonian scolds, and harpies: on the other Hung stench, diseases, and old filth, their mother, With famine, wants, and sorrows many a dozen, The least of which was to the plague a cousin. But they unfrighted pass, though many a privy Spake to 'em louder than the ox in Livy;

And many a sink poured out her rage anenst 'em ; But still their valor and their virtue fenced 'em, And on they went, like Castor brave and Pollux, Ploughing the main. When, see, the worst of all lucks!

They met the second prodigy, would fear a Man, that had never heard of a chimera. One said, 'twas bold Briareus, or the beadle, (Who hath the hundred hands when he doth meddle ;)


The other thought it Hydra, or the rock
Made of the trull that cut her father's lock;
But, coming near, they found it but a lighter,
So huge, it seemed they could by no means quite


Back, cried their brace of Charons; they cried, No, No going back; on still, you rogues, and row. How hight the place? a voice was heard, Cocytus. Row close then, slaves. Alas! they will beshite us. No matter, stinkards, row. What croaking sound

116 Possibly, Scylla, who cut the golden hair from the head of her father, Nisus; but, as Whalley observes, Scylla was turned into a bird, not into a rock. - B.

Is this we hear? of frogs? No, guts wind-bound,

Over your heads; well, row.

At this a loud

Crack did report itself, as if a cloud

Had burst with storm, and down fell, ab excelsis,
Poor Mercury, crying out on Paracelsus

And all his followers, that had so abused him,
And in so shitten sort so long had used him;
For, where he was the god of eloquence,
And subtilty of metals, they dispense

His spirits now in pills, and eke in potions,
Suppositories, cataplasms, and lotions.

"But many moons there shall not wane," quoth he,
"In the mean time let 'em imprison me,
But I will speak, and know I shall be heard,
Touching this cause, where they will be afeard
To answer me." And sure, it was the intent
Of the grave fart late let in parliament,
Had it been seconded, and not in fume
Vanished away, as you must all presume
Their Mercury did now. By this, the stem
Of the hulk touched, and, as by Polypheme
The sly Ulysses stole in a sheep-skin,
The well-greased wherry now had got between,
And bade her farewell sough unto the lurden;
Never did bottom more betray her burden;
The meat-boat of bear's college, Paris-garden,


117 Lourden, or, as spelt in the text, lurden, is a heavy, or lumpish fellow, from lourd, heavy. Lourdin, Fr. Jonson applies it to the great lumbering lighter which obstructed the course of the wherry.-B.

Stunk not so ill; nor, when she kissed, Kate Arden.

Yet one day in the year for sweet 'tis voiced, And that is when it is the Lord Mayor's foist.

By this time had they reached the Stygian pool By which the masters swear, when, on the stool Of worship, they their nodding chins do hit Against their breasts. Here, several ghosts did flit,

About the shore, of farts but late departed, White, black, blue, green, and in more forms outstarted,

Than all those atomi ridiculous,

Whereof old Democrite, and Hill Nicholas,118 One said, the other swore, the world consists. These be the cause of those thick frequent mists Arising in that place, through which, who goes, Must try the unused valor of a nose:


And that ours did. For yet, no nare was


Nor thumb, nor finger, to the stop acquainted, But open, and unarmed, encountered all: Whether it languishing stuck upon the wall, Or were precipitated down the jakes,

And after, swam abroad in ample flakes,

118 Nicholas Hill, a fellow of St. John's College, Oxford, who, according to Antony Wood, adopted the notions of Democritus about atoms, and was a great patron of the Corpuscular philosophy. — B.

119 Nose; from nares. - B.

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