On the Famous Voyage

No more let Greece her bolder fables tell
Of Hercules, or Theseus going to hell,
Orpheus, Ulysses: or the Latin muse,
With tales of Troy's just knight, our faiths abuse:
We have a Shelton, and a Heyden got,
Had power to act, what they to feign had not.
All, that they boast of Styx, of Acheron,
Cocytus, Phlegeton, our have proved in one;
The filth, stench, noise: save only what was there
Subtly distinguished, was confused here.
Their wherry had no sail, too; ours had none:
And in it, two more horrid knaves than Charon.
Arses were heard to croak, instead of frogs;
And for one Cerberus, the whole coast was dogs,
Furies there wanted not: each scold was ten.
And, for the cries of ghosts, women, and men,
Laden with plague-sores, and their sins, were heard,
Lashed by their consciences, to die, afeared.
Then let the former age, with this content her,
She brought the poets forth, but ours the adventer.


I sing the brave adventure of two wights,
And pity 'tis, I cannot call them 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 it' shoon,
In its own hall; when these (in worthy scorn
Of those, that put out monies, 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)
At Bread Street's Mermaid, having dined, and merry,
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.
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, rehearse
The many perils of this port, and how
Sans help of Sybil, or a golden bough,
Or magic sacrifice, they passed along!
Alcides, be thou succouring to my song.
Thou hast seen hell (some say) and know'st all nooks there,
Canst bell me best, how every Fury looks there,
And art a god, if Fame thee not abuses,
Always at hand, to aid the mercy muses.
Great club-fist, though thy back, and bones be sore,
Still, with thy former labours; 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,
Ycleped 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 men,
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 them louder, than the ox in Livy;
And many a sink poured out her rage anenst 'hem;
But still their valour, and their virtue fenced 'hem,
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, it was 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 quit her.
" 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
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 subtlety 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 meantime, let them imprison me)
But I will speak (and know I shall be heard)
Touching this cause, where they will be afeared
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 sheepskin,
The well-greased wherry now had got between,
And bad her farewell sough, unto the lurden:
Never did bottom more betray her burden;
The meat-boat of Bears' college, Paris garden,
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,
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 valour of a nose:
And that ours did. For, yet, no nare was tainted,
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, swom abroad in ample flakes,
Or, that it lay, heaped like an usurer's mass,
All was to them the same, they were to pass,
And so they did, from Styx, to Acheron:
The ever-boiling flood. Whose banks upon
Your Fleet Lane Furies; and hot cooks do dwell,
That, with still-scalding steams, make the place hell.
The sinks ran grease, and hair of measled hogs,
The heads, houghs, entrails, and the hides of dogs:
For, to say truth, what scullion is so nasty,
To put the skins, and offal in a pasty?
Cats there lay divers had been flayed and roasted,
And, after mouldy grown, again were toasted,
Then, selling not, a dish was ta'en to mince them,
But still, it seemed, the rankness did convince them.
For, here they were thrown in with the melted pewter,
Yet drowned they not. They had five lives in future.
But 'mongst these Tiberts, who do you think there was?
Old Banks the juggler, our Pythagoras,
Grave tutor to the learned horse. Both which,
Being, beyond sea, burned for one witch:
Their spirits transmigrated to a cat:
And, now, above the pool, a face right fat
With great grey eyes, are lifted up, and mewed;
Thrice did it spit; thrice dived. At last, it viewed
Our brave heroes with a milder glare,
And, in a piteous tune, began. " How dare
Your dainty nostrils (in so hot a season,
When every clerk eats artichokes, and peason,
Laxative lettuce, and such windy meat)
'Tempt such a passage? When each privy's seat
Is filled with buttock? And the walls do sweat
Urine, and plasters? When the noise doth beat
Upon your ears, of discords so unsweet?
And outcries of the damned in the Fleet?
Cannot the plague-bill keep you back? Nor bells
Of loud sepulchres with their hourly knells,
But you will visit grisly Pluto's hall?
Behold where Cerberus, reared on the wall
Of Holborn (three sergeants' heads) looks o'er,
And stays but till you come unto the door!
Tempt not his fury, Pluto is away:
And madam Caesar, great Proserpina,
Is now from home. You lose your labours quite,
Were you Jove's sons, or had Alcides' might".
They cried out puss. He told them he was Banks,
That had, so often, showed them merry pranks.
They laughed, at his laugh-worthy fate. And passed
The triple head without a sop. At last,
Calling for Radamanthus, that dwelt by,
A soap-boiler; and Aeacus him nigh,
Who kept an ale-house: with my little Minos,
An ancient purblind fletcher, with a high nose;
They took them all to witness of their action:
And so went bravely back, without protraction.
In memory of which most liquid deed,
The city since hath raised a pyramid.
And I could wish for their eternized sakes,
My muse had ploughed with his, that sung A-JAX .
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