[The Colonnade of the Temple, Jerusalem]from The Temple (1633), by George Herbert:


¶   Humilitie.

I Saw the Vertues sitting hand in hand
In sev’rall ranks upon an azure throne,
Where all the beasts and fowl by their command
Presented tokens of submission.
Humilitie, who sat the lowest there
                      To execute their call,
When by the beasts the presents tendred were,
                      Gave them about to all.

The angrie Lion did present his paw,
Which by consent was giv’n to Mansuetude.1
The fearfull Hare her eares, which by their law
Humilitie did reach to Fortitude.
The jealous Turkie brought his corall-chain;
                      That went to Temperance.
On Justice was bestow’d the Foxes brain,
                      Kill’d in the way by chance.

At length the Crow bringing the Peacocks plume,
(For he would not) as they beheld the grace
Of that brave gift, each one began to fume,
And challenge it, as proper to his place,
Till they fell out: which when the beasts espied,
                      They leapt upon the throne;
And if the Fox had liv’d to rule their side,
                      They had depos’d each one.

Humilitie, who held the plume, at this
Did weep so fast, that the tears trickling down
Spoil’d all the train: then saying, Here it is
For which ye wrangle, made them turn  their frown
Against the beasts: so joyntly bandying,
                      They drive them soon away;
And then amerc’d2 them, double gifts to bring
                      At the next Session-day.

1 Mansuetude. Gentleness, meekness. Oxford English Dictionary. [Return]
2 amerced.  With a penalty of the amount expressed. This line quoted in The Oxford English Dictionary. [Return]

Editor’s note: Why does this remind me of the mischievous/malicious goddess who threw a golden apple, with "To The Fairest" written on it, into a garden where Hera, Athena and Aphrodite were sitting? You know what trouble that caused?
You be Paris. Every sin and human deficiency has its antidote and virtue. Who should get the Peacock’s plume? [a work sheet]

For legal analysis: "Not Onely a Pastour, but a Lawyer also": George Herbert’s Vision of Stuart Magistracy by Jeffrey Powers-Beck

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