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As she had first appointed them, and found
The World in labour, dropt into a swound:
Wallowing she lay, like to a boist'rous hulk,
Dropsy'd with riots, and her big-swoln bulk
Stufl’'d with infection, rottenness, and stench;
Her blood so fir’d, that nothing might it quench
But the asp's poison, which stood by her still,
That in her drought she often us’d to swill.
Clothed she was in a fool's coat and cap
Of rich embroider'd silks, and in her lap
A sort of paper puppets, gauds, and toys,
Trifles scarce good enough for girls and boys,
Which she had dandled, and with them had play'd,
And of this trash her only god had made.
“ Out and alas !” quoth one the rest among,
“I doubt me, neighbours, we have stay'd too long!
Pluck off your rings, lay me your bracelets by,
Fall to your bus’ness, and that speedily;
Or else I doubt, her spirits consume so fast,
That ere the birth, her strength will quite be past."
But when more wistly they did her behold,
There was not one that once durst be so bold
As to come near her, but stood all amaz’d,
Each upon other silently and gaz'd;
When as her belly they so big do see,
As if a tun within the same should be ;
And heard a noise and rumbling in her womb,
As at the instant of the general doom:
Thunder and earthquakes raging, and the rocks
'Tumbling down om their sites, like mighty blocks
Rolld from huge mountains, such a noise they make,
As tho’ in sunder Heaven's huge ax-tree brake,
They either poles their heads together pasht,
And all again into the chaos dasht.

Some of slight judgment, that were standing by,
Said, it was nothing but a tympany;
Others said, sure she human help did want,
And had conceived by an elephant;
Or some sea-monster, of a horrid shape,
Committed with her by some violent rape :
Others, more wise, and noting very well
How her huge womb did past all compass swell,
Said, certainly (if that they might confess her)
It would be found some devil did possess her.

Thus while they stood, and knew not what to do,
“Women," quoth one, “why do you trifle so?
I pray you, think but wherefore ye came hither;
Sball womb and burthen perish both together?
Bring forth the birth-stool-no, let it alone,
She is so far beyond all compass grown,
Some other new device us needs must stead,
Or else she never can be brought to bed.
Let one that hath some execrable spell,
Make presently her entrance into Hell,
Call Hecate and the damn’d Furies hither,
And try if they will undertake together
To help the sick World.” One is out of hand
Dispatch'd for Hell, who by the dread command
Of pow'rful charms brought Hecate away ;
Who knowing her bus'ness, from herself doth lay
That sad aspect she wont to put on there
In that black empire, and doth now appear
As she's Lucina, giving strength and aid
In birth to women; mild as any maid,
Full of sweet hope her brow seem’d, and her eyes
Darting fresh comfort, like the morning skies.
Then came the Furies with their bosoms bare,
Save somewhat cover'd with their snaky hair,

In wreaths contorted, mumbling hellish charms,
Up to the elbows naked were their arms.
Megera, eld'st of these damn'd female fiends,
Gnawing her wrists, biting her fingers' ends,
Enter'd the first; Tisiphone the next,
As to revenge her sister throughly vext,
In one hand bare a whip, and in the other
A long-shape knife; the third, which seem'd to

Her manner of revenge, cast such an eye,
As well near turn’d to stone all that stood by,
Her name Alecto, which no plague doth rue,
Nor never leaves them whom she doth pursue.
The women pray the goddess now to stand
Auspicious to them, and to lend her hand
To the sick World ; which willingly she granted :
But at the sight, as altogether daunted,
From her clear face the sprightly vigour fled,
And but she saw the women hard bestead,
Out she had gone, nor one glance back had shot,
Till Heav'n or Hell she o'er her head had got;
Yet she herself retires next to the door.
The gossips, worse than e'er they were before,
At their wits' end, know not which way to take ;
At length the World beginning to awake
Out of the trance, in which she lay as dead,
And somewhat raising her unwieldy head,
To bright Lucina call'd for help, that she
Now in her travail would propitious be.
The goddess, not from feeling of her woe,
Only to see with what the World might go,
As she is dreaded Hecate, having power
Of all that keep Hell's ugly baleful bower,
Commands the Furies to step in and aid. her,
And be the midwives till they safe had laid her.

To do whose pleasure as they were about,
A sturdy housewife pertly stepping out,
Cries, “Hold a while, and let the quean alone ;
It is no matter, let her lie and groan :
Hold her still to't, we'll do the best we can
To get out of her certainly the man
Which owns the bastard : for there's not a nation
But hath with her committed fornication ;
And by her base and common prostitution,
She came by this unnatural pollution.
There is a mean for women thus abus'd,
Which at this time may very well be us’d,
That in this case, when people do desire
To know the truth, yet doubtful of the sire,
When as the woman most of life doth doubt her,
In grievous throws, to those that are about her,
He that is then at the last cast disclos’d,
The natural father is to be suppos’d ;
And the just law doth faithfully decide,
That for the nursing he is to provide :
Therefore let's see what in her pangs she'll say,
Lest that this bastard on the land we lay.”
They lik'd her counsel, and their help deny'd,
But bade her lie and languish till she dy'd,
Unless to them she truly would confess
Who fill'd her belly with this foul excess.

“Alas !" quoth she, “the Devil dress’d me thus,
Amidst my riot, whilst that incubus
Wrought on my weakness, and, by him beguild,
He only is the father of the child :
His instrument, my apish imitation
Of ev'ry monstrous and prodigious fashion,
Abus'd my weakness ; women, it was she,
Who was the bawd betwixt the fiend and me

That this is true, it on my death I take;
Then help me, women, even for pity's sake.”

When ominous signs to show themselves began,
That now at hand this monstrous birth fore-ran :
About at noon flew the affrighted owl,
And dogs in corners set them down to howl;
Bitches and wolves, these fatal signs among,
Brought forth most monstrous and prodigious

young : And from his height the earth refreshing Sun, Before his hour his golden head doth run Far under us, in doubt his glorious eye Should be polluted with this prodigy. A panic fear upon the people grew, But yet the cause there was not one that knew, When they had heard this; a short tale to tell, The Furies straight upon their bus'ness fell, And long it was not ere there came to light The most abhorred, the most fearful sight That ever eye beheld, a birth so strange, That at the view it made their looks to change. “Women,” quoth one, “ stand off, and come not

near it; The Devil, if he saw it, sure would fear it : For by the shape, for ought that I can gather, The child is able to affright the father.” “Out!” cries another; “now, for God's sake,

hide it,
It is so ugly, we may not abide it!
The birth is double, and grows side to side,
That human hand it never can divide;
And in this wond'rous sort as they be twins,
Like male and female, they be Androgynes :

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