THE FAERIE LEVELLER: OR, King CHARLES his Leveller descri­ed and deciphered in Queene ELIZA­BETHS dayes.

By her Poet Laureat Edmond Spenser, in his unparaleld Poeme, entituled,

A lively representation of our times.

  • Parliaments Army. Paritie mar's al men.

Printed just levell anens the Saints Army: in the yeare of their Saintships ungodly Revelling for a godly Levelling. 1648.

A necessary Preface opening the Allegory.

REader, thou art here presented with a resplen­dent Jewell, taken out of a full Cabinet; but it not every ones purchase: besides, not of so speciall marke or regard there, in so great an heape, as here being culled out by it selfe, and set forth for present use: slight it not, because it is not the publishers owne invention: who does esteeme the Spyders webbe any whit the better, for that it is spunne out of her owne Intralls? or like hony the worse, for that the industrious Bee gathers it from Flowers abroad? here is meat out of the Eater, sweet hony to be found in the carkasse of a slaine Lyon; do thou but with Jonathan taste of it, and thou shalt have thy sight cleared in some remarkable matters, which before thou didst not discerne, or observe: thou hast here plainely discovered to publique view, the mis­chievous condition, the malicious diposition, the presump­tuous enterprizes, the tumultuous practises; in a word, the dangerous doings of these pernitious Sectaries, the confoun­ders of orders, the movers of Sedition, the disturbers of Peace, the subverters of well-settled States (if they be not timely met with and prevented by justice) lately risen up and now raigne­ing amongst us, by the name of Levellers; they were discryed long agoe in Queene Elizabeths dayes, and then graphically described by the Prince of English Poets Edmund Spenser, whose verses then propheticall are now become historicall in our dayes, I have now revised, and newly published them for the undeceiving of simple people, too apt to be induced into an high conceipt and overweening opinion of such Decei­vers, and too ready to be seduced by their specious pretences of reducing all to a just equality, and restoring all to their rights and libertie: whereas on the contrary their endeavour is evi­dent [Page 4] to take away every mans propriety, and to bring all under slavery to themselves. The Booke out of which this fragment is taken (called the Faery Queene) is altogether Allegoricall, and needes a little explanation: the drift and intention of the Author in it, is to set forth a compleat Gen­tleman, accomplisht with all vertues adorning a truly noble Person. The first Booke containes the Legend of Justice, the most universall vertue. In the second (anto Arthegall the Champion of Justice, with the assistance of Talus his Groome betokening execution of Law, having overcome all illegall arbi­trary, oppressive power; under the person of Pollente, a bar­barous Saracen, strengthened by his Daughter Munera im­porting bribes and taxes: He proceeds to suppresse the Gyant Ring leader to the faction of Levellers, or applying all to these times; I suppose I may briefly give you this key of the work.

  • Arthegall Prince of justice. King Charles.
  • Talus his Executioner with his yron stayle. The Kings for­ces, or Gregory.
  • Pollente an oppressing Saracen. The prevalent over awing Faction in the two Houses.
  • Munera his assistant. The intolerable Tax-raisers the Coun­trey Committees Sequestrators and Excize-men: These must first be apprehended and brought to justice, ere the Army be quelled.
  • The Gyant Leveller. Col. Oliver Cromwell, L. G. of the Sts. Army: the Letters of whose name fall into this Anagram.
    • Oliver Cromewell. Com' our vil' Leveller.
    On the constant report of whose death, take for an Epitaph that of the Poet. ‘— Mors Sceptra ligonibus aquat.’
    Death which the Scepter levells with the spade,
    His fellow levellers Cromwel's Grave hath made.
    So I dismisse him with that of the Traytor Judas, Act 1.25. who by transgression fell, that he might go to his owne place. And his complices with Thomas Sternehold, version of the 10. v. of the 3. Psalme.
    Destroy their false conspiracies, that they may come to naught:
    Subvert them in their heapes of sinne, that have rebellion wrought.

Th [...]re f [...]lloweth a brief: introductory transition from the foregoing to the ensuing part of the Canto.


Arthegall with his Groome Talus
having Pollente quel'd:
And drown'd his Daughter Munera,
they on their journey wel'd.
IN which they measur'd mickle weary way,
Till that at length nigh to the Sea they drew;
By which as they did travaile on a day,
They saw before them far as they could view,
Full many people gathered in a crew,
Whose great assembly they did much admire;
For never there the like resort they knew:
So towards them they Coasted to enquire
What thing so many Nations met, did there desire.
There they beheld a mighty Gyant stand
Upon a Rock, and holding forth on high
An huge great paire of Ballance in his hand;
With which he boasted in his surquedry,
That all the world he would waigh equally;
If ought he had the same to counterpoys:
For want whereof he waighed vanity;
And fil'd his Ballance full of idle toyes:
Yet was admired much of Fooles, Women, and Boyes.
He said, that he would all the earth up take,
And all the Sea, divided each from either:
So would he of the fire one Ballance make,
And one of th'Ayre, without or wind, or weather:
Then would he Ballance Heaven and Hell together,
And all that did within them all containe,
Of all whose waight he would not misse a feather;
And looke what surplus did of each remaine,
He would to his owne part restore the same againe.
For why, he said, they all unequall were,
And had encroached upon others share.
Like as the Sea (which plain he shewed there)
Had worne the earth: so did the fire the Ayre:
So all the rest did others parts impaire.
And so were Realmes, and Nations run awry:
All which he undertooke for to repaire,
In sort as they were formed anciently:
And all things would reduce to equallity.
Therefore the vulgar did about him flocke,
And cluster thick unto his leasings vaine:
(Like foolish Flies about a hony crocke)
In hope by him great benefit to gaine,
And uncontrolled freedome to obtaine.
All which when Arthegall did see, and heare
How he mis-led the simple peoples traine.
In'sdainefull wise he drew unto him neere,
And thus unto him spake without regard, or feare.
'Thou that presum'st to waigh the world anew;
'And all things to an equall to restore.
'Instead of right, me seemes, great wrong dost shew,
'And far above thy forces pitch to fore;
'For ere thou limit what is lesse or more
'In every thing, thou oughtest first to know
'What was the poyse of every part of yore:
'And looke then how much it doth overflow,
'Or faile thereof, so much is more then just to trow.
'For at the first they all created were
'In goodly measure, by their makers might:
'And waighed out in Ballances so nere,
'That not a dramme was missing of their right.
'The Earth was in the middle Center pight,
'In which it doth unmoveable abide,
'Hem'd in with waters, like a wall in sight:
'And they with Ayre, that not a drop can slide:
'All which the Heavens containe, and in their courses guide.
'Such Heavenly justice doth among them raigne,
'That every one do know their certaine bound,
'In which they do these many yeares remaine;
'And 'mongst them all no change hath yet beene found:
'But if thou now shouldst waigh them new in pound,
'We are not sure they would so long remaine:
'All change is perilous, and all chance unfound:
'Therefore leave off to waigh them all againe,
'Till we may be assur'd they shall their course retaine.
'Thou foolish Else, said then the Gyant wroth,
'Seest not how badly all things present be?
'And each estate quite out of order go'th?
'The Sea it selfe, dost thou not plainely see,
'Encroach upon the Land there under thee?
'And th'Earth it selfe how dayly its encreas'd
'By all that dying to it turned be?
'Were it not good that wrong were then surceast,
'Therefore I will throw downe those mountaines high,
'And make them levell with the lowly plaine:
'These towring rocks that reach unto the skie
'I will thrust downe into the deepest maine;
'And as they were, them equalize againe:
'Tyrants that make men subject to their Law,
'I will suppresse that they no longer raigne,
'And Lordings curbe that Commons over-aw:
'And all the wealth of rich-men to the poore will draw.
'Of things unseene how canst thou deeme aright?
Then answered the righteous Arthegall.
'Sith thou misdeem'st so much of things in sight,
'What though the Sea with waves continuall
'Doe eate the Earth? it is no more at all:
'Ne is the Earth the lesse, or looseth ought:
'For whatsoever from one place doth fall,
'Is with the tide unto another brought;
'For there is nothing lost that may be found, if sought.
'Likewise the Earth is not augmented more,
'By all that dienge into it do fade;
'For of the Earth they formed were of yore;
'However gay their blossome or their blade
'Doe flourish now, they into dust shall vade:
'What wrong then is it, if that when they dye,
'They turne to that whereof they first were made?
'All in the power of their great maker lye:
'All Creatures must obey the voice of the most high.
'They live, they dye, like as he doth ordaine:
'Ne ever any asketh reason why?
'The hills do not the lowly Dales disdaine.
'The Dales do not the lofty hills envy.
'He maketh Kings to sit in Soveraignty.
'He maketh Subjects to their power obey.
'He pulleth downe, he setteth up on high.
'He gives to this, from that he takes away:
'For all we have is his; what he list do he may.
'What ever thing is done, by him is done:
'Ne any may his mighty will withstand.
'Ne any may his Soveraigne pow [...]r shunne:
'Ne loose that he hath bound with stedfast band:
'In vaine therefore dost thou now take in hand,
'To call to count, or waigh his workes anew,
'Whose counsells depth thou canst not understand,
'Sith of things Subject to thy dayly view,
'Thou dost not know their causes nor their courses dew.
'For take thy Ballance, (if thou be so wise)
'And weigh the winde that under Heaven doth blow;
'Or waigh the light that in the East doth rise,
'Or weigh the thought that from mans minde doth flow;
'But if the waight of these thou canst not shew,
'Waigh but one word which from thy lips doth fall;
'For how canst thou those greater secrets know?
'That dost not know the least thing of them all:
'Ill can he rule the great, that cannot reach the small.
Therewith the Gyant much abashed said,
That he of little things made reckoning light;
Yet the least word that ever could be laid
Within his Ballance, he could waigh aright:
Which is, said he, more heavy than in waight,
The right or wrong? the false or else the true?
He answered that he would try it streight:
So he the words into his Ballance threw;
But streight the winged words out of his Ballance flew.
Wroth waxt he then, and said that words were light;
Ne would within his Ballance well abide:
But he could justly waigh the wrong or right:
Well then said Arthegall let it be try'd,
First in one Ballance, set the true aside:
He did so first, and then the false he layd
In th'other skale; but still it downe did slide,
And by no meane could in the waight be stayd,
For by no meanes the false will with the true be waigh'd.
Now take the right likewise said Arthegall,
And counterpeise the same with so much wrong:
See first the right he put into one skale;
And then the Gyant strove with puissance strong
To fill the other skale with so much wrong;
But all the wrongs that he therein could lay,
Might not it poise; yet did he labour long,
And swet, and chas't, and proved every way;
Yet all the wrongs could not a little right downe lay.
Which when he saw he greatly grew in rage,
And almost would his Ballances have broken:
But Arthegall him fairly 'gan asswage,
'And said, be not upon thy Ballance wroken,
'For they do nought but right or wrong betoken:
'But in the minde the doome of right must be;
'And so likewise of words the which be spoken,
'The Eare must be the Ballance to decree,
'And judge whether with truth or falsehood they agree.
'But set the truth, and set the right aside:
'(For they with wrong, or falsehood will not fare)
'And put two wrongs together to bee try'd,
'Or else two falses of each equall share:
'And then together do them both compare;
'For truth is one, and right is ever one.
So did he, and then plaine it did appeare▪
Whether of them the greater were a [...]one:
But right set in the middest of the Beame alone.
But he the right from thence did thrust away:
For it was not the right which he did seeke;
But rather strove extremities to w [...]igh,
Th'one to diminish th'other for to eeke;
For of the meane he greatly did missele [...]ke;
Whom-when so lewdly-minded Talus found,
Approaching nigh unto him cheeke by cheek,
He shoulderd him from off the higher ground,
And downe the Rock him throwing, in the Sea him drownd.
Like as a Ship which cruell tempest drives
Upon a Rock with horrible dismay:
Her shatterd Ribs in thousand p [...]eces rives,
And spoyling all her geares and goodly ray.
Does make herselfe mis-fortunes pitious prey:
So downe'the Cliffe the wretched Gyant rumbled.
His batterd Ballances in peeces lay,
His timbred bones all broken rudely rumbled:
So was the high aspiring with huge ruine humbled.
That when the people who had there about
Long wayted, saw his suddaine desolation;
They gan to gather in tumuluous Rout,
And mutining to stir up civill Faction;
For certaine losse of so great expectation:
For well they hoped to have got great good,
And wondrous riches by his innovation:
Therefore resolving to revenge his bloud,
They rose in armes and all in battell order stood.
Which Lawlesse multitude him comming to
In warlike wise, when Arthegall did view,
He much was troubled, ne wist what to doe,
For loath he was his noble hands t'embrew,
In the base blood of such a Rascall crew.
And otherwise if that he should retire,
He fear'd lest they with shame would him pursue:
Therefore he Talus to them sent t'enquire
The cause of their array, and truce for to desire.
But soone as they him nigh approaching spy'd,
They 'gan with all their weapons him assay,
And rudely stroke at him on every side:
Yet nought they could him hurt, ne ought dismay:
But when at them he with his Flayle 'gan lay.
He like a swarme of flies them overthrew:
Ne any of them durst come in his way,
But here and there before his presence flew,
And hid themselves in holes and Bushes from his view.
As when a Faulcon hath with nimble flight
Flowne at a flush of Ducks fore-by the brooke:
The trembling Fowle dismay'd with dreadfull sight
Of Death the which them allmost overtooke,
Doe hide themselves from her astonying looke,
Amongst the Flags, and covert round about:
When Talus saw they all the field forsooke,
And none appear'd of all that Raskall Rout:
To Arthegall he turnd, and went with him throughout.

This keyboarded and encoded edition of the work described above is co-owned by the institutions providing financial support to the Text Creation Partnership. Searching, reading, printing, or downloading EEBO-TCP texts is reserved for the authorized users of these project partner institutions. Permission must be granted for subsequent distribution, in print or electronically, of this EEBO-TCP Phase II text, in whole or in part.