Nature Calls a Counsel, which is Motion, Figure, Matter, and Life, to Advise about Making the World.



When Nature first the world’s foundation laid,2
She called a counsel how it might be made.3
Motion was first, who4 had a subtle wit,
And then came Life, and Form, and Matter fit.
First Nature spake:5 “My friends, if we agree,             5
We can and may do a fine work,” said she,
“Make some things to adore us,6 worship give,
Whereas now we but to7 ourselves do live.
Besides, it is my nature things to make,
To give out work, and8 you directions take.               10
Wherefore if you will pleasure have therein,9
You’ll10 breed the Fates in housewif’ry to spin,
And make strong Destiny to take some11 pains,
Lest she grow idle, let her12 link some chains.
Inconstancy and Fortune turn a wheel,                      15
Since both are13 wanton, cannot stand, but reel.
And as for moisture, let it water give,14
Which heat suck up, to make things grow and live,15
And let sharp cold stay things that run about,
And drought stop holes, to keep the water out.         20
Vacuum and darkness they will domineer
If Motion’s power make no16 light appear;
Wherefore produce a light, the world to see,17
My only child from all eternity—
Beauty, my love, my joy and dear delight—                25
Else darkness rude will cover her with spite.”
        “Alas!” said Motion, “all pains I can take18
Will do no good, Matter a brain must19 make,
And Figure20 draw a circle, round, and small,
Where in the midst must stand a glassy ball,              30
Without convex, but inwardly21 concave,
And in its middle22 a round small hole must have,
That species may thorough pass, and Life23
May view all things as through a prospective.”24
        “Alas!” said Life, “whatever we do make,           35
Death, my great enemy, will from us take:
And who can hinder his strong,25 mighty power?
He with his cruelty doth26 all devour,
And Time, his agent, brings27 all to decay:
Thus neither Death nor Time will you obey.               40
He cares for none of your commands, nor will
Obey your laws, but doth what likes him28 still.
He knows his power far exceedeth ours,
For whatsoe’er we make, he soon devours.
Let me advise you ne’er to take29 such pains              45
A world to make, since Death hath all the gains.”
        Figure’s opinion did agree with Life,
“For Death,” said she, “will fill the world with strife.
What Form soever I do turn into,
Death finds me out: that Form he doth undo.”            50
Then Motion spake: “None hath such cause as I
For to complain, for Death makes Motion die.
’Tis best to let alone this work, I think.”
Says Matter, “Death corrupts, and makes me stink.”
Says Nature, “I am of another mind:                            55
If we let Death alone, we soon shall find
He wars will make, and raise a mighty power,
If we divert him not, may us devour.
He is ambitious, will in triumph sit,30
Envies my works, and seeks my State to get.31            60
And Fates, though they upon great Life attend,
Yet fear they Death, and dare not him32 offend.
Though two be true, and spin as Life them bids,
The third is false, and cuts short the long threads.33
Let us agree, for fear we should do worse,                   65
And make some work for to employ34 his force.”
Then all rose up: “We do submit,” said35 they,
“And36 Nature’s will in every thing obey.”
        First Matter she materials in did bring,37
And Motion cut, and carved out every thing.               70
And Figure, she did draw the forms and plots,
And Life divided all out into lots.
And Nature, she surveyed, directed all,
And with four elements38 built the world’s ball.
The solid earth she as foundation39 laid;                       75
The waters round about as walls were raised,40
Where every drop lay close, like41 stone or brick,
Whose moisture like to42 mortar made them stick.
Air, as the ceiling, keeps all close within,43
Lest some materials out of place might spring.            80
And presses down the seas, lest44 they should rise
And45 overflow the Earth, and drown the skies.
For as a roof is46 laid upon a wall,
To keep it steady, that no side may47 fall,
So Nature in that place air wisely stayed,48                   85
And fire, like tile or slate, the highest laid49
To keep out rain, or wet, else it would rot:
So50 would the world corrupt if fire were not.
The planets, like as weather-fans, turn round;
The sun a dial in the midst is found,                                90
Where he doth give so just account of time51
And52 measures all, though round, by even line.
But when the Earth was made, and seed did sow,53
Plants on the Earth, and minerals down grow,54
Then creatures made, which Motion did give55 sense, 95
Yet reason none to give56 intelligence.
But Nature found, when she to make Man came,57
It was more difficult than worlds to frame;58
For she did strive to make him long to last,
And so into eternity him59 cast.                                         100
Who60 in no other place could be kept61 long,
But in eternity, that castle strong.
There she was sure that Death she could keep62 out,
Although he is a warrior strong and stout.
Man she would make, but not like other kind:63            105
Though not in body, like a God in mind.
Then she did call her counsel once again,
Told them the greatest work did64 yet remain.
“For how,” said she, “can we ourselves new make?65
Yet Man we must like to ourselves create,66                    110
Or else he never can67 escape Death’s snare;
To make this work requires68 both skill and care.
But I a mind will mix69 as I think fit,
With knowledge, understanding, and with wit.
And Motion, you your servants70 must employ,              115
Which Passions are, to wait still in the eye,
To dress, and clothe this71 mind in fashions new,
Which none knows better how to do72 you,
That, though his body die,73 this mind shall74 live,
And a free will we must unto it give.                                 120
But Matter, you from Figure form must take,
And Man from other creatures different75 make.
For he shall upright go;76 the rest shall not.
And Motion, you in him must tie a knot
Of several motions, there to meet in one.                         125
Thus Man like to himself shall be alone.
You, Life, command the Fates a thread to spin,
From which small thread the body shall begin.
And while the thread doth last, not cut in twain,
The body shall in motion still remain.                                130
But when the thread is broke, he77 down shall fall,
And for a time no motion have at all.
But yet the mind shall live and never die;
We’ll raise the body too for company.
Thus, like ourselves, we can78 make things to live          135
Eternally, but no past times can give.

The Motion of Thoughts

Musing one time alone,1 mine eyes being2 fixed
Upon the ground, my sight with gravel mixed,
My feet did walk without direction’s guide;
My thoughts did travel far and wander wide.
At last they chanced upon3 a hill to climb,                                 5
And being there, saw things that were divine.
        First, what4 they saw: a glorious light did5 blaze,
Whose splendor made it painful for the6 gaze.
No separations nor shadows by stops7 made,
No darkness did8 obstruct this light with shade.                     10
This light had no dimension, nor no bound,9
No limits, but it10 filled all places round.11
Always in motion ’twas,12 yet fixed did prove,
Like to the twinkling stars, which never move.
This motion working, running several ways,                           15
Seemed as if contradictions it would13 raise,
For with itself it seemed not to agree,14
Like to15 a skein of thread, if’t knotted be.
For some did go straight in an even line,
But some again did cross, and some did twine.                        20
Yet at the last, all several motions run
Into the first Prime Motion, which begun.
In various forms and shapes did life run through,
Which was eternal, but the shapes were16 new;
No17 sooner made, but quickly18 passed away,                         25
Yet while they were, they did desire19 to stay.
But motion to one form can ne’er constant20 be,
For life, which motion is, joys in21 variety.
For the22 First Motion everything can make,
But cannot add unto itself, nor take.                                           30
Indeed no other matter could it23 frame:
Itself was all, and in itself the same.
Perceiving now this fixèd point of light,
I spied24 a union: Knowledge, Power, and Might,
Wisdom, Truth, Justice,25 Providence, all one,                          35
No attribute was by itself26 alone.
Not like to27 several lines drawn to one point,
For what doth meet may be again28 disjoint.
But this same29 point, from whence all lines did30 flow,
Nought can diminish it, or31 make it grow.                               40
’Tis its own center and circumference round,
Yet neither has a limit nor32 a bound.
A fixed eternity,33 and so will last:
All present is, nothing to come or34 past.
A fixed perfection; nothing can add more;                               45
All things is it, and itself doth35 adore.
My thoughts then wondering at what they did see,
Found at the last themselves the same to be,36
Yet were37 so small a branch, as they38 could not
Know39 whence they sprung, nor how they40 were begot.    50
        Some say, all that41 we know of Heaven above
Is that we joy, and that we love.42
But who43 can tell that? For all we know,44
Those passions we call joy and love below45
May by excess such other passions grow;                                  55
None in the world is capable to know.
Just like our bodies, although46 they shall rise,
And as St. Paul says, see God with our eyes,
Yet may we in the change such difference find,
Both in our bodies, and also in mind,47                                      60
As if we never had been of48 mankind,
And that these49 eyes we see with now were blind.
Say we can measure all the planets high,
And number all the stars be50 in the sky,
And we can circle51 all the world about,                                    65
And can find all52 th’effects of nature out:53
Yet all54 the wise and learnèd cannot tell55
What’s done in Heaven, or how we there shall dwell.

It Is Hard to Believe that there Are Other Worlds in this World.



Nothing so hard in nature as faith is,2
For3 to believe impossibilities—
Not that they’re not,4 but that they do not clear5
Unto our reason and to sense appear.6                      
For reason cannot find them out, since they7                    5
Seem wrought beyond all Nature’s course and way.8
For9 many things our senses dull may scape,10
For they’re too gross to know each form and11 shape.
So in this world another world12 may be,
Which13 we do neither touch, taste, smell, hear, see.14   10
What eye so clear is, yet did ever see15
Those little hooks that in the loadstone be,16
Which draw hard iron, or give reasons why17
The needle’s point still in the north will lie?
As for example, atoms in the air                                           15
We ne’er perceive, although the light be fair.
And18 whatsoever can a body claim,
Though ne’er so small, life may be in the same.
And what has19 life may understanding have,
Though’t20 be to us as buried in the21 grave.                      20
Then probably may men and women small,
Live in the world, which we know not22 at all,
May build them houses to dwell in, and make23
Orchards and gardens,24 where they pleasure take,
Have25 birds which sing, and cattle in the field,                25
May plow and sow, and there26 small corn may yield;
They may have commonwealths,27 and kings to reign,
Make wars and battles, where are many28 slain,
And all without our hearing, or our sight,
Or29 any of our other senses30 light.                                     30
And other stars, and suns, and moons31 may be,
Which our dull eyes shall never come to see.
But we are apt to laugh at tales so told:
Thus senses gross do back our reason32 hold.
Yet things which are ’gainst nature we think33 true,        35
That spirits change and can take bodies new,
That life may be, yet in no body live,
For which no sense nor reason we can give.
As34 incorporeal spirits this fancy35 feigns,
Yet fancy cannot be without some brains.                          40
If fancy36 without substance cannot37 be,
Then souls are more than reason well can see.

The Circle of Honesty Squared



Within the head of man’s a circle round
Of Honesty, in which no end2 is found.
Some think it fit this circle should be squared,3
Though to make Honesty take sides is hard.4
Prudence and Temperance as two lines5 take;                 5
With Fortitude and Justice, four will6 make.
If Temperance do prove too short a line,7
Then do the figure of Discretion join;8
Let9 Wisdom’s point draw up Discretion’s figure,10
That make two equal lines joined both together.11         10
Betwixt the line Temperance and Justice,12 Truth must point;
Justice’s line draw down to Fortitude,13 that corner joint.
Of Fortitude, which line do make agree14
With Prudence; Temperance must also be15
Of equal length with Justice; both must stand16               15
’Twixt Fortitude and Prudence on each hand.17
At every corner must a point be laid,
Where every line that meets, an angle’s made.18
And when those19 points too high or low do fall,
Then must the lines be stretched, to make them20 all      20
Even. And21 thus the circle round, you’ll find,
Is squared with the four virtues of the mind.

The Same Circle Squared in Prose

1  2

A circle is a line without ends, and a square hath3 four equal sides, not one longer or shorter than another. To square the circle is to make the square figure4 to be equal with the round figure. Honesty is the5 circle without ends, that is,6 by-respects, for an honest man is honest7 for honesty’s sake. But8 to square this circle is9 very difficult, for it is hard10 for Honesty to take part with four sides without Faction. For where there is siding there is11 Faction; and where Faction is,12 there is Partiality; and where Partiality is, there is Injustice; and where Injustice is, there is Wrong;13 and where Wrong is, Truth is not; and where Truth is not, Honesty cares not to live.

But let us see how we can square this circle of Honesty. First, draw four lines: Prudence, Temperance, Fortitude, and Justice. These four lines, let them be cross parallels,14 to make a square,15 and at each end of every line make a point. At16 the line of Justice, a point of Severity at one end and another of Facility at the other end. And at either17 end of Fortitude, one of Rashness and another of Timorosity. And at each18 end of Temperance, Prodigality and Covetousness. At each end of Prudence, Sloth and Stupidity. Then draw out these points and make them angles: as Severity and Timorosity make one19 angle, Rashness and Stupidity another. Sloth and Prodigality make a third angle;20 Facility and Covetousness make the fourth.21

Then exactly in the midst of either line, set on22 either23 side of the line a figure: as Distributive on the outside of the line of Justice, and Communicative within the line. So on the line24 of Fortitude, Despair on the outside and Love within. On Prudence line, Experience on the outside25 and Industry within. On Temperance26 line, Observation on the outside and Ease within.

Then draw a line of Charity27 from the point Distribution, and from the point of Observation28 a Line of Discretion, and make an angle of29 Hope. Then from Community30 a line of Clemency,31 and from the point of Ease32 a line of Comfort, which make an angle of Peace. Then from Despair a line of Hope, and from Industry a line of Fruition, which make an angle of Tranquility. Then from the point of Love a line of Faith, and from the point of Ease a Line of Pleasure; this makes an angle of Joy. Then set a point at every angle, viz.,33 Obedience, Humility, Respect, and Reverence. And thus the square measured with truth will34 be equal with the circle of Honesty.

The Trisection


Cut the line of Wisdom into three parts: Prudence, Experience, and Judgment. Then draw a line of Discretion equal to the line of Experience, and a line of Industry equal to the line of Prudence, and a line of Temperance equal to the line of Judgment; and to Temperance an equal line of Tranquility, and to the line Industry a line of Ingenuity, and to the line of Discretion draw an equal line of Obedience. Then all these lines measured with the rule of Reason, you’ll find them2 equal to the line of Wisdom. Join these lines3 together, and let Truth make4 the angle. This is the Trisection. 5