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And for the front, ear, neck, and wrists, the ornament was of the most choice and orient pearl; best setting off from the black.
For the light-bearers, sea-green, waved about the skirts with gold and silver; their hair loose and flowing, gyrlanded with sea-grass, and that stuck with branches of coral.
These thus presented, the scene behind seemed a vast sea, and united with this that flowed forth, from the termination, or horizon of which (being the level of the state, which was placed in the upper end of the hall) was drawn by the lines of prospective, the whole work shooting downwards from the eye; which decorum made it more conspicuous, and caught the eye afar off with a wandering beauty: to which was added an obscure and cloudy night-piece, that made the whole set off. So much for the bodily part, which was of master Inigo Jones's design and
By this, one of the tritons, with the two sea-maids, began to sing to the others' loud music, their voices being a tenor and two trebles.
Fair Niger, son to great Oceanus,
With all his beauteous race:
All rivers are said to be the sons of the Ocean; for, as the ancients thought, out of the vapours exhaled by the heat of the sun, rivers and fountains were begotten. And both by Orph. in Hym. and Homer, Il. . Oceanus is celebrated tanquam pater, et origo diis, et rebus, quia nihil sine humectatione nascitur, aut putrescit.
Yet are they bright,
To prove that beauty best,
Which, not the colour, but the feature
Ocea. Be silent, now the ceremony's done,
Niger. Divine Oceanus, 'tis not strange at all, That, since th' immortal souls of creatures mortal, Mix with their bodies, yet reserve for ever
power of separation, I should sever
My fresh streams from thy brackish, like things fix'd, Though, with thy powerful saltness, thus far mix'd. "Virtue, though chain'd to earth, will still live free; And hell itself must yield to industry."
Ocea. But what's the end of thy Herculean labours,
Extended to these calm and blessed shores?
1 There wants not enough, in nature, to authorize this part of our fiction, in separating Niger from the ocean, (beside the fable of Alpheus, and that, to which Virgil alludes of Arethusa, in his 10. Eclog.
Sic tibi, cum fluctus subter labêre Sicanos,
Doris amara suam non intermisceat undam.)
Examples of Nilus, Jordan, and others, whereof see Nican. lib. i. de flumin. and Plut. in vita Syllæ, even of this our river (as some think) by the name of Melas.
Niger. To do a kind and careful father's part,
Of these my daughters, my most loved birth :
Since death herself (herself being pale and blue)
m Read Diod. Sicul. lib. iii. It is a conjecture of the old ethnics, that they which dwell under the south, were the first begotten of the earth.
n Notissima fabula, Ovid. Met. lib. ii.
Alluding to that of Juvenal, Satyr. v. Et cui per mediam nolis
Which, when my daughters heard, (as women are Most jealous of their beauties) fear and care Possess'd them whole; yea, and believing them,P They wept such ceaseless tears into my stream, That it hath thus far overflow'd his shore
To seek them patience: who have since, e'ermore
On their scorch'd cheeks with such intemperate fires,
That they a land must forthwith seek,
Sounds TANIA; where bright Sol, that heat
Their bloods, doth never rise or set,
But in his journey passeth by,
And leaves that climate of the sky,
To comfort of a greater light,
Who forms all beauty with his sight.
In search of this, have we three princedoms past,
P The poets.
A custom of the Ethiops, notable in Herod. and Diod. Sic. See Plin. Nat. Hist. lib. v. cap. 8.
• Plin. ibid.
" Consult with Tacitus, in vita Agric. and the Paneg. ad Constant.
Swarth Lusitania; next we did descry
Rich Aquitania: and yet cannot find
The place unto these longing nymphs design'd.
What land is this that now appears to us?
Ocea. This land, that lifts into the temperate air His snowy cliff, is Albion the fair;
So call'd of Neptune's son," who ruleth here:
At this the Moon was discovered in the upper part of the house, triumphant in a silver throne, made in figure of a pyramis. Her garments white and silver, the dressing of her head antique, and crowned with a luminary, or sphere of light: which striking on the clouds, and heightened with silver, reflected as natural clouds do by the splendour of the moon. The heaven about her was vaulted with blue silk, and set with stars of silver, which had in them their several lights burning. The sudden sight of which made NIGER to interrupt OCEANUS with this present passion.
O see, our silver star! Whose pure, auspicious light greets us thus far! Great Æthiopia goddess of our shore,*
Since with particular worship we adore
Thy general brightness, let particular grace
Shine on my zealous daughters: shew the place
* Orpheus, in his Argonaut. calls it Aevкatov xépoov.
Alluding to the right of styling princes after the name of their princedoms: so is he still Albion, and Neptune's son that governs. As also his being dear to Neptune, in being so embraced by him.
* The Æthiopians worshipped the moon by that surname. See Step. περὶ πόλεων, in voce ΑΙΘΙΟΠΙΟΝ.