The 'Antichristus', by far Melville's most complex and technically ambitious poem, is both a poetic paraphrase and a commentary on the key passages discussing the coming of the antichrist in the Bible - Zachariah 4, 1 Corinthians 3, 2 Thessalonians 2 - and the final apocalypse as depicted in Revelation (especially chapters 13, 16 and 17). The poem was first published in the Andreae Melvini Musae (1621) and is the last poem in a largely chronological sequence, suggesting it could have been completed in 1612 or later. Equally, the poem was published in the DPS with a concluding epigram of sorts celebrating the defeat of the Spanish Armada and the death of the Duke of Guise (see d2_MelA_055), possibly suggesting it was written in 1588/9. However, the discussion of the 'British nations' (see below) at the end of the poem makes it more likely that it was written post-1603. Melville was wholly preoccupied with the idea of the papacy as the embodiment of the antichrist (see d2_MelA_011, d2_MelA_042), and throughout the poem he offers historical interpretations of each textual excerpt - for example, he argues that the seven heads of the 'first beast' of Revelation 13 are actually references to the sequence of Roman emperors between Nero and Trajan (see notes below) from whom the papacy stole dominion over the earth, while its ten horns are the most powerful kingdoms of the contemporary world who will rise up and turn against it. Melville's interest in the Last Judgment was echoed in the writings and sermons of many Scottish intellectuals post-reformation, including Christopher Goodman, John Knox, John Napier of Merchiston, Patrick Adamson and even James VI himself, and he also cites several Continental experts on the apocalypse in the text, including Theodore Bibliander and Nicolas Colladon. The most interesting part of the poem is the epilogue, where Melville boldly states that if 'any English speaker from whatever nation, whether he be Englishman or Scotsman with no distinction' should try and deny the kingdom of Christ, he should be subject to trial and punishment in a public assembly of nobility and clerics with the king as magistrate. Melville seems to be defending the legitimacy of both general assembly and parliament as the correct venues to try heretics and recusants in body and soul, but it is interesting to note the prominent role of supervision he gives to the king and his application of this to a British context. For a full discussion of the text, see Reid, 'Andrew Melville, sacred chronology, and world history', pp. 15-21.
Due to the complexity and length of the 'Antichristus', and the interweaving of paraphrase with commentary by Melville, all paraphrased biblical text in the translation has been italicised; the corresponding scriptural citation can be found in the Latin text, alongside the original references which were added as marginalia to the 'Antichristus' when it was first published in the Musae, and which were reproduced, with some variation, by the DPS editors. Metre: hexameter.
1Quod 1 vas lectum olim et vectum trans aethera laetam 2
caelicolum in sedem, atque aulam libantis Olympi
ambrosium laticem, fata arcana auribus hausit 3
non effanda homini: 4 Suadae et sapientiae alumnum
5germanum, juvenum egregium, comitemque viarum,
consortemque operum docet impendentia fata, 5
instruit exemplis, monitis coelestibus urget; 6
et quo quemque modo subeatque feratque laborem, 7
per varios casus, per tot discrimina rerum: 8
10quam densa virtutum acie, quibus arduus armis
sanctae militiae, pulchro in certamine pergat,
axe vehens Euangelico, justam addere molem 9
coepto operi; tectumque sacro et fastigia templo
ponere: quae aeterni est Ecclesia numinis almi;
15 10 firma columna, et fundamentum immobile veri,
arcanumque ingens recti inviolabile cultus,
credendum unanimi corde, et prompto ore fatendum est.
Vitalis Deus est in mortali indole factus
late conspicuus: manifesto est numine ad auras 11
20redditus aethereas: vigilum est conspectus ocellis
caelestum angelicis: praeconum est voce sonora
Gentibus edictus: terrarum est prensus in omni
orbe manu valida fidei constantis in aevum:
ad decora alta polos supra est sublime receptus.
25 12 Quippe aliud quam quod positum, quod mole sua stat, 13
fundamen posuisse nefas; hic terminus haeret: 14
hoc caput, haec radix, structurae haec norma; 15 bifrons hic 16
quem sprevere operae, lapis arcu aedem arcet in uno. 17
Hoc super illa manu Regis quae innixa potenti 18
30 19 sidera septem, illi stellata in veste ministri, 20
21 qui liquidum infundunt laticem viridantis olivi,
in septem et statu accendunt flammaque lucernas,
22 aedificant argentum, aurum, gemmasque nitentes,
Christo opulentum, aeternum, altum super aethera templum: 23
35vel fundamento non moto desuper addunt
aut ligna, aut foenum, aut stipulam crepitantibus escam 24
ignibus arsuram, et rapidis cita pabula flammis. 25
Molimen cujusque et opus vis acrior ignis,
luxque Dei clara, et vatum spirabilis ardor 26
40arguet: et trutina flammarum dividet aequa.
Cujus opus stet firmum exploratore camino, 27
et validis rapidi tentatum viribus ignis,
ipse feret mercedem: et erunt sua praemia laudi. 28
Ille at cujus opus fumo vanescit in auras, 29
45ceu volucris vapor, aut nebulae levis umbra fugacis,
perpessus jacturam operis, damnumque laboris,
non prius emerget flammis lustrantibus ardens,
quam castam accendat Christi vis ignea mentem,
sic quasi per liquidum purus servetur ut ignem.
50 30 At templum infraeni violat qui numinis ausu,
hunc saevi effraenis violabit numinis ira. 31
Usque adeo divina Deo stat gloria cordi.
32 Quale Dei templum diro scelus occupat ausu,
incestatque nefas, sibi quod cultum arrogat omnem,
55longe omnes supra Augustos, supra omne vocatum
numen se attollens, summo et pro numine jactans,
insurgensque polo elatis cervicibus alte, 33
dum condit fidei articulos, dum jura resolvit, 34
et sacras figit leges pretio atque refigit: 35
60et torquet Scripturam omnem, sanctasque tabellas
invertit: queis vana addens sua somnia praefert:
36 quod sceleratum elatum insertum in sidera monstrum 37
conficiet divini oris spirabilis aura, 38
adventusque Dei illustris torrebit in igne.
65 39 Qualis coccineo meretrix invecta caballo,
sacrilegis farcto titulis et honore Deorum, 40
vertice septuplici surgenti in cornua dena. 41
Veste illusa auro et gemmis, ostroque superba 42
purpurea, et fratrum sanctorum sanguine fuso
70ebria, plena tenens gemmata pocula dextra
aurea, adulteriis plena, stuprisque nefandis,
et foeda illuvie fictarum relligionum,
omnigenum informi de sorde superstitionum
virus inexhaustum spumantia, lenta veterno 43
75Gentibus et populis Romano more propinat,
dementans ductorum animos procerumque, subactos
decretorum armis, et traditionibus auctis,
ceu legum amentis; jaculatur tela trisulca 44
Tarpeja de rupe tonans, dum fulminat atros 45
80e Capitolinis vibratos arcibus ignes, 46
excelsam in cedrum, et proceras robore sylvas, 47
Caesareas acies, Regumque Ducumque catervas, 48
armatasque manus, florentesque aere phalanges. 49
50 Inscriptum pro fronte gerit mysterium, et urbis 51
85ingens ingentis nomen Babylonis: ut orbis
prostibulum, lupa publica, volgivagumque lupanar. 52
Undarum regina sedet late ardua, septem 53
montibus incumbens: et septem regibus aucta.
Quorum quinque olim ceciderunt, stabat et unus:
90nondum alius venit: venturus erat brevis aevi.
54 Et fera quae fuit, et non est, octavus et ipse est,
ex septem his et is est, et nigris occubat umbris. 55
56 Pande trucem, Dea casta, lupam, meretricis et artes, 57
quaque fera vehitur, capitum septemplice turba,
95qua surgente alte se dena in cornua tollit 58
bellua; quam stupet admirans vastae incola terrae 59
omnis; cui nomen tabulis vitalibus Agni
mactati inscriptum non est ab origine mundi: 60
bellua quae fuit, et non est: et gurgite ab alto 61
100emersura iterum, saepe et reditura sub undas. 62
63 Cujus ubi caput est lethali vulnere caesum,
Iulia stirps caeso de regno excisa Nerone,
curatum hoc vulnus lethale est: haud secus ac si
caelitus alternante vices, regesque novante
105imperio, per diversas gentesque domosque,
stirps alia atque alia in regnum succedit: eodem
imperii summa stat firmo corpore salva. 64
Reges quinque illi, Galba, Otho, Vitellius, ambo 65
Iudaici et belli duo fulmina Vespasiani, 66
110occiderant: caeso ut Solyma est eversa Nerone,
exule Ioanne stabat, 67 qui triste venenum
miscuerat fratri, et fatali fraude pararat
imperium sibi, monstrum invisum hominique Deoque.
Trajanum Nerva imperio designat habendo
115septimus octavum: quem secum consul ut esset
imperii et consors facit: is quoque septimus ipse est.
68 Praeterea, quae dena decem sunt cornua reges,
qui nondum accepere ferocis sceptra tyranni:
69 verum jus regni accipient cum bellua ad horam
120pseudoprophetissa: occidui quae oritura ruina
imperii: unde decem consurgent haec quoque regna:
Africa et Aegyptus, Syria, Asia, Graecia: nec non
Galli, Itali, Hispani, Germani denique, et Angli
unanimes hi mente suam vim, jusque cruentae
125belluae in arma dabunt: 70 Agno qui indicere bellum, 71
quique Agno lecti comites sunt pectore fido;
et pugnare parant: quos vincet viribus agnus
invictis, qui rex regum, et Dominus dominantum est. 72
73 Hi reges, haec regna decem, ceu corna, saevis
130vexabunt odiis meretricem, et tristibus atram,
desertam, et nudatam, et depastam ignibus urent.
74 Hanc illis mens magna Dei mentem indit utramque
in partem, ut visum est ipsi quodcunque volenti
effectum dent illi alacres concordibus omnes 75
135iuncti animis: jus omne suum regnumque superbae 76
haud mora dent in bella ferae, sortita supremo
donec fata suos eventus fine coronent.
Haec est, quae fuit, et non est, quae bellua praesto est,
et capitum variata vices stat corpore eodem.
140Nasci, denasci; nec non et oriri aboriri,
alternante vices fortuna regibus ipsis
saepius evenit summa stante imperii vi. 77
Haec septem capita, hi reges, haec cornua dena.
78 Illae autem multae meretrix quibus insidet undae,
145sunt populi, et turbae, et gentes; sunt denique linguae.
At mulier magna urbs illa est quae regibus orbis
imperat: et late rerum molitur habenas, 79
septem quae una sibi muro circumdedit arces: 80
cujus tetra ferum referunt primordia finem.
150Virgine Vestali incesto et Marte edita proles,
ubere pasta lupae, fraterno sanguine muros
imbuit olim, urgens raptas sine more Sabinas, 81
Romulus: unde urbis Romanae et stirpis origo: 82
83 et monstrum ἑπτακαρἡνον, et aequore cornua dena 84
155emersa undoso, et diademata cornibus apta:
et capitum septem praedonis nomen in albo
sacrilegi dirum, et sceleris lita gutta nefandi:
dum sibi mentitur titulos Dominique Deique:
pardi instar, pedibusque ursinis, ore leonis.
160Cui draco septem ingens capita alta, et cornua dena,
vimque vicesque suas cessit, viresque tyranno:
cui caput instauratum admirans orbis adorat,
pone sequens. Quis par monstro pugnaverit olli 85
grandia jactanti, et virus dirum ore vomenti
165inque Deum, sedemque Dei, coelique quirites?
Cui fera succedit, terrena e sorde levata,
cornua bina agni simulans: sed dira draconis
verba vomens: monstrique prioris vimque vicemque
exercens coram ipso omnem: et miracula promens 86
170devocat axe ignem: et Divum deposcit honores, 87
sceptrum addens regale apici, diadema tiarae:
divinusque hierarcha, humanusque archipolita;
pseudopropheta furens ore, armipotensque monarcha:
mortalis Deus, aut immortalis cacodaemon,
175effigiem monstro fingens animansque priori
aemulam, et effantem praegrandia, et ore tonantem:
dum caput aptum humeris, huic trunco corporis, inde 88
artubus inspirat crudum per membra vigorem:
unde trahit sensum motumque hierarchicus ordo
180paulatim, varioque gradu, longaque catena,
in seriem, et seros per secula multa nepotes,
numine sive Deae Carnae seu Cardinis, auctus
vergit ad Orcum imum, summo delapsus Olympo.
Et facit accipiant omnes, magni atque pusilli,
185paupertate inopes jejuna, opibusque potentes,
mancupio servi in vinclis nexuque soluti,
fronte notam, aut dextra signi vernilis inustam
stigmatiae, signati omnes punctisque notisque
Threiceis; ultro et citro ut commercia possent 89
190exercere placet queis promercalis abusus.
Ne nisi compunctus vendat ne praestinet ullus
bullarum attellas et pontificalia scruta.
Tantum juris habet stigma indelebile fronti, 90
aut dextrae impressum aut nomen numerusve ferini
195nominis. Est autem humanus numerus, numeralis, 91
obvius, et cuivis homini facilis numeratu:
sive a Christo ortu, sive a Christo redivivo,
sive a deletis Solymis gentisque ruina,
sexcenti, sexaginta et sex insuper anni.
200Quum firmata virum maturum reddidit aetas, 92
praedonem geminus sceleratum accinxit et ensis, 93
quo mare nunc terrasque metu coelumque fatigat, 94
ipse pedum plantis et calcibus ut premat altas 95
induperatorum cervices, et juga mittat
205sub sua regum apices, orcumque invergat olympo. 96
97 Usque adeo tria flabra obscoena ex ore draconis,
monstri ex ore prioris, et ore ex pseudoprophetae
aeemula raucisonis per stagna loquacia ranis, 98
flantibus in terram Capitoli a culmine ventis,
210cardinibusque truci glomerantibus igne procellas,
praesulibusque graves cogentibus aethere nimbos.
Missifices monachi, 99 mentiti nomen Iesu,
Romulidum de faece recens orti scarabaei
prodire et bella, arma, minas per regna ciere,
215sulfureosque globos flammarum ad sydera ferre. 100
Quid memorem quae dira vomit maledicta profanus
arbiter hic, aeterna hominum Divumque potestas? 101
Scilicet, ut Superus visum: si credere dignum est. 102
Ut pauca ex multis delibem, ex ungue leonem. 103
220'Quod Papa Romanus vult norma est juris et aequi.
Quod Papa cunque facit ratum habet Deus aethere in alto.
Posse Papam quodcunque Deus: par, aequa potestas
cumque Deo Christoque, Papae commune tribunal.
Est major Paulo Papa: major foedere prisco. 104
225Contra Euangelium statuat Papa, scriptaque Pauli,
articulos fidei condens, Oecumenicumque
concilium cogens, decretaque sancta reformans:
si currus plenos animarum ad Tartara trudat
secum ipse, haud quisquam potis est contendere contra, aut
230dicere: "Cur facis hoc?" Stat pro ratione voluntas!' 105
Haec, atque his sexcenta alia haud meliora, Papana
quae Canonistarum schola concrepat, omnia chartis
illinit, obtrudens toti pro legibus orbi,
quaesitor pravae haereseos caelique sequester,
235dictatore Papa et sancti plausore theatri. 106
Nemo repente fuit turpissimus. Occulit atra 107
clandestinus agens aevum puer indole noxam.
Sensim animi gliscit virus, cum viribus aucti
corporis in nervum tendens erumpere tandem.
240Ut puppis quassata undis compage soluta,
paulatim imbrem inimicum haurit, rimisque fatiscit, 108
donec flicta vadis findat se effoeta carina: 109
ut vitio quae structa domus, labefacta columnas,
fundamento innixa putri, saevisque deinceps
245obvia ventorum furiis, crebrisque procellis
paulatim concussa, trahit cum labe ruinam:
ut quae lenta viget languenti in corpore tabes,
paulatim absumit densum cum abdomine pingui,
et solidas carpit partes, populatque medullas:
250ossa cutem donec terebratam exstantia monstrent:
haud secus immissa gutta de semine Ditis
conceptum est germen, gestatum est tempore longo,
materno et fotum gremio, dum erupit in auras 110
mole aucta disrupto utero molimine magno,
255monstrum horrendum, informe, ingens; quod lumine cassa, 111
paulatim et tenebris assueta nigrantibus, aetas
susceptum genibus binis amplectitur ulnis.
Imperiique novi molem miratur opimam;
cui faustis favet omnibus, spondetque salutis
260autori Christique vices Petrique cathedram:
omnibus ut caput emineat 112 pastoribus unus
pacatum et fraenet turbatis rebus Olympum.
Sic molem informem formare enititur ursus
lambendo, et fingit partes et membra figurat,
265commensum naturae intra molemque modumque:
paulatim donec collectis viribus ultro,
involet in praedam, quam devoret ore cruento. 113
Non simul advenit simul est patefactus eidem
natalis, lux fatali discrimine longo
270diditur: haud qua natus, ea maturus 114 et aevi.
Duravit per saecla diu: brevioribus Agnum
persequitur. Gradibus variis adolevit, et annis
pluribus absolvit numeros quibus integrat aevum.
Haec qui confundit, qui non distinguit apertis
275luminibus, cornicum oculos configit: et atram 115
ipse sibi obducit caecae caliginis umbram.
Tantum noctis habet redivivae incuria lucis. 116
Haud videt ignarus rerum: stupet inscius aevi 117
tardior. Ignavus formidine, callidus arte
280dissimulat; spernit curam ridetque profanus
sollicitam secure omnem. Populatur apertus
hostis, et insidias struit atra inimicus in umbra
proditor. Occurrentem ultro, vi et fraude morantur
deprensi in bello lepores, in pace leones. 118
285Excusant alli majorum exempla sequutos.
Credo equidem ipsi impressa premunt vestigia patrum,
sustollunt turbam revocatam a limine limbi:
suspiciunt delubra Deum celsa atria: et arces
inspectant, et opes et demirantur honores.
290Caligant orta nunc caeci 119 in luce sub umbris,
in pejusque ruunt lapsi, retroque feruntur. 120
Tu Christum in coelis agnosce, Britannia, regem,
flectentem in terris regni caelestis habenas,
et septem in dextra stellas victrice tenentem.
295At sceleratum hominem, jam clara in luce retectum 121
veridicis vatum dictis et numinis aura,
eventuque ipso properata everte ruina.
Hae tibi erunt laudes, haec clara tropaea, triumphus
hic summus, revehens virtutem ad sidera veram,
300ejecisse lupam, catulos pepulisse, nefandi
omnia detersisse solo vestigia monstri.
Quare oro Regemque pium sanctumque Senatum 122
poplitibus flexis, tendensque ad sidera palmas 123
obtestor dirae Christi per vulnera mortis 124
305per patris aetherei constantis pignora amoris,
si quis amor Christi superat, si numinis ardor,
ut si quis, si quis, quacunque e gente sit, Anglus,
Anglusve, Scotusve fuat, discrimine nullo, 125
sive ego, sive alius quisquam, quacunque sub umbra
310relligionis, et obtentu pietatis avitae,
hoc fundamentum sinceri immobile veri,
hoc arcanum ingens casti inviolabile cultus,
vertere pertentet clam, aut vi 126 violare laboret:
aut ligna, aut foenum, aut stipulam, superextruat audax 127
315scipturas pervertendo, sanctumve negando
legis Apostolicae morem, fastum ambitione,
mollitie luxum revocando ignobilis oti,
aut cultus errore tuendo superstitiosos,
igne peregrino patrios adolendo penates,
320ignis ad examen qua vi, qua lege trahatur
in lucem, atque auram illustris sine nube diei,
concilio in medio procerum, vatumque corona,
vindice rege, actore inimico, interprete verbo
caelesti, in tabulis divinitus inspiratis,
325exploretur. Ubi convictus, et usque revictus 128
Aυτοκατὰκριτος dignum luat impius ausu
supplicium importuno: ignominiaque notetur
sempiterna atque exemplum statuatur in aevum. 129
Hoc pietate tua, bone Rex, hoc relligione
330dignum vestra, almi proceres, hoc numinis iram
mulcebit, bellum arcebit. Pestemque famemque
praesentem hanc animis cito corporibusque fugabit.
333Et regem et regnum tranquilla pace beabit.
1 Now a long time ago a vessel a was chosen and conveyed across the ether towards the happy home of the celestials, and the court of Olympus where ambrosian liquid is poured, and it lapped up secret utterances with its ears which must not be told by men: and it informs the true disciple of winning speech b and wisdom, an outstanding youth, the sharer of life's journeys, the companion in work about his approaching destiny, instructing him by example and encouraging him with heavenly precepts; and informs him how, through differing calamities and so many dangerous affairs, he should approach and conduct each task: and with how dense a battle-line of the virtues, with what armaments of holy military service, he must ardently enter the fray, driving a Gospel chariot, and add his full weight to the enterprise that has been started; and erect a roof and pinnacle for a holy temple: which is the church of the everlasting and nourishing God; the enduring column and unalterable foundation of truth, the great and incorruptible mystery of true devotion, which must be followed with a harmonious heart, and affirmed with a ready mouth. The living God c has come into view, plain for all to see in a mortal nature: he was returned to heaven by the manifest will of God: he was visible to the angelic eyes of the heavenly guardians: he was revealed to the Gentiles by the booming voice of heralds: d he was grasped by the mighty hand of everlasting faith throughout the whole world: [p125] and he was admitted to the highest honours above the heavens.
25For it is unlawful to have lain any other foundation than that which
has already been lain, that which stands by its own strength; this boundary is fixed: here is the apex, here is the foundation, here is the layout of the building; here too the twin-headed stone which masons rejected, e supporting the temple in a single dome.
29 Above it seven stars are held up by the mighty hand of the king, f they are seven angels dressed in starry cloaks, who pour out the flowing juice of the green olive into seven oil lamps and kindle them with fire at the appropriate time; they build for Christ a lofty, silver, gold, splendid and eternal temple above the ether sparkling with jewels: or above a heavenly fixed foundation they erect wood, or straw, or grain-bearing hay which will blaze in crackling fires,
and which is easy fodder for the swift flames.
The extremely intense force of fire, the bright light of god,
and the infectious ardour of the prophets will put
the effort and work of each to the test: and the impartial
scales of fire will judge them.
Let their work stand firm in the judging furnace,
and after it has been tested by the robust power of swift fire,
they will lift up their just deserts: and worth will have its own rewards.
44 However, he whose work disappears into thin air in a puff, like the volatile vapour, or the light shade of a fleeting cloud, having endured the loss of his labours and a wasted task,
he will not escape from burning in the purifying flames until the fiery power of Christ burns cleans his mind, so that he is delivered stainless as if by a liquid fire.
But he who attacks the temple through the initiative of a barbaric deity, that man the wild anger of a savage god will attack. Thus continually does divine praise for God hold fast in the heart. Such wickedness takes hold of the temple of God with dire outrage, and sacrilege defiles it, and it appropriates all worship unto itself, raising itself far above all Caesars, and above all that is called divinity, presenting itself in place of the highest divinity, and rising up to heaven with necks held high, while it buries the articles of faith, and breaks God's laws, and both sets up and abolishes sacred laws for a price: [p126] and it distorts all Scripture, and perverts the sacred tablets: in addition to these things, it sets forth its own worthless imaginings: The breathing breeze from the divine mouth will destroy
the wicked monster which has been raised up and placed into the stars,
and the arrival of the noble God will roast it on the fire. Such a prostitute has been conveyed on a scarlet nag, covered in profane names and prayers to the gods, with a head divided into seven and sprouting ten horns.
The prostitute sported a purple gown and gold, haughty in her jewels
and purple, drunk upon the gushing blood of the saints, holding in her hand a bejeweled and golden cup,
which is full of adultery, and unmentionable debauchery, and the foul scum of false beliefs, and smoothly she raises her cup that
froths with strong poison sprung from the hideous squalor of all types of superstitions, and she toasts the health of the Gentiles and peoples in the ancient Roman fashion, driving the wits from the minds of leaders and nobles, their minds brought into subjection by the weapons of her decrees, enhanced by her traditions, which are like the bindings of laws: this thunderer hurls out forked missiles from the Tarpeian rock, g as she projects deadly thunderous lightning into the high cedars, and into the woods high with oaks, which are Caesar's legions, the array of generals and rulers, the armed ranks, and the ordered regiments gleaming with bronze.
She bears a mystery inscribed on her forehead, and the huge
name of the huge city of Babylon: as the brothel of the world,
the common whore, the wanton prostitute.
Spead out and raised high the queen of the waves reclines, sprawling over
seven mountains: and supported by seven kings.
Of them five have long since fallen, and one was standing:
the other has not yet come: he is going to come in a short time.
And the beast which was, and is not, and he himself is the eighth,
he is from these seven, and he lies in the black shadows.
93 Expose, chaste Goddess, the savage whore, and her tartish wiles,
wheresoever that wild, seven-headed throng is borne,
where upon those heads sprouting ten horns the brute raises itself up high;
and each and every resident of the vast earth wonders at it; [p127] its name has not been written in the living books of the sacrificed Lamb from the beginning of the world: the beast which was, and is not, will emerge again from the depths of the sea,
and again return under the waves. After its head was lopped off by a deadly blow, and the Julian line was removed from the kingdom by Nero's death, h this deadly wound was healed: just as if from heaven one line after another, through different bloodlines and houses, follows each king in quick succession to the throne, with their power renewed: and on the same intact body the uninjured head of the empire endures.
108 Those five kings, Galba, Otho, Vitellius, and the twin thunderbolts of Vespasian's Jewish war, had fallen: i and as Jerusalem fell upon Nero's death, and with John in exile, the monster hateful to man and God was reigning, who had cooked up a harsh poison for his brother, j and obtained the power for himself through deadly deceit.
Nerva being the seventh marks out Trajan who is eighth
to rule the empire: and as consul Nerva makes him his colleague, to
have a partner in power: and Trajan himself is also the seventh. k
117 Moreover, those ten horns are ten kings, who have not yet received the power of the savage tyrant: they will receive true authority over their kingdom at the time when the beast is the false prophetess: and the ruins of the fallen empire will appear: and on them these ten kingdoms will rise: Africa and Egypt, Syria, Asia, and Greece: and also the French, Italians, Spanish, Germans, and English and together with one mind they will provide their power and authority
for the beast's war: and they will consign themselves to wage war on the Lamb,
and those who are his companions are chosen by the Lamb and have a faithful heart;
and they make ready to fight: and the lamb will overcome the kings with his
undefeated strength, he who is king of kings, and lord of lords. These kings, these ten kingdoms, or as it were horns, will torment the harlot with fierce hatred, and will scorch the black-hearted girl
with death-bringing fires: she will be abandoned, exposed, and burnt to a crisp.
132 To the cause of both sides has the great mind of God fixed their mind so that all joyously and joined in harmonious hearts, provide [p128] the result that seemed right to God who desired it: and so that without delay they give over their own authority and kingdom for the haughty beast's battle, until the already-determined fates crown their own successes at the ultimate end.
138 This is that beast which was, and is not, and which now is at hand, and the altered succession of heads stand firm in the same body. To be born and to die; and also to rise and to fall, often this turn of events happens to the rulers themselves through changing fortune while the highest might of the empire endures.
143 These are the seven heads, these are the kings, these are the ten horns. Those many waves on which the prostitute sits, they are peoples, and multitudes, and tribes; they are also languages. However, the great woman is that city which rules over the kingdoms of the earth: and far and wide it wields the reins of government, and in one body it has enclosed seven fortified summits with a wall: l its abominable beginnings find reward in a cruel end.
150 An offspring sprung from a Vestal Virgin and immoral Mars, and fed from the breast of a she-wolf, Romulus splattered the city walls with his brother's blood, while instigating without scruple the Sabine rape: m this is the genesis of the Roman city and race: and the seven-headed monster, and the ten horns arose from the stormy sea, and ten crowns were fitted to the horns:
and the ill-omened name of a wicked thief, a stain of abominable wickedness, was smeared on the seven heads' tablet: for it falsely assigns the glorious name of Lord and God to itself:
it looks like a leopard, with the feet of a bear, and the face of a lion.
An immense dragon yielded to him the seven lofty heads, the ten horns,
the power and its own position, and the powers of a tyrant: amazed at its renewed head the world worships it, following on behind. Who will put up a fight as a match for that monster
who hurls forth such massive things, and spews fearful venom from its
mouth against God, the home of God, and the citizens of heaven?
166 A beast follows this one, emanating from the earthly filth, and copying the twin horns of the lamb: but spitting forth the fearful
words of a dragon: wielding all the power and office of the previous
monster in its presence: and conjuring up wonders it calls down fire from the sky: and claims the honours due to God for itself,
as it adds a royal sceptre to its mitre, a royal headdress to its tiara:
[p129] both divine hierarch, and human ruler; a fulminating pseudoprophet, and a warlike monarch: a mortal god, or an immortal demon, conjuring and animating a figure to imitate the previous beast, one that utters great things, and thunders from its mouth: while the head is joined to the shoulders, and to this trunk of a body, there it injects a raw strength into the marrow and throughout the limbs: by these means, little by little, by varying degree, and in a long series, the hierarchical succession drew sense and motion into an ancestral lineage, a line of descendants stretching through many ages, empowered by the divinity of a Goddess either carnal or cardinal, n having fallen down from high Olympus, which it turns towards the depths of Orcus.
And he sees to it that all, both great and meek,
both those helpless with needy poverty and those mighty in resources,
even the slaves in chains and those freed from bondage,
all receive in full the mark of the branded slave on their
forehead, or the mark of the slave burned on their hand, and
all are imprinted with the Thracian signature and seal;
so that all who love mercantile consumption are able
to conduct their business wherever they wish.
Let nobody who does not bear the mark either buy or sell
the farces of papal bulls and other pontifical trash.
193 The name and the characters of the beastly name are stamped on the forehead and hand, and the everlasting imprint has such great power. It is a human number, a numeral, intimidating, yet possible to compute
for any man: for it is over six hundred and sixty six years from either the birth of Christ, of from Christ's resurrection, or from the destruction of Jerusalem and the tribe's o fall. When the robust time of life has restored the man to full strength, and a twin sword has come to support the impious robber, with that sword he now assails land, sea, and heaven with fear, so that he may press down upon the high necks of emperors with the soles of his feet and with his heels, and may submit the heads of kings to his own yoke, and pour hell onto heaven. Even now three vile belches from the mouths of a dragon,
the previous beast, and the pseudoprophet mimic the croaking frogs amid the noisy ponds, as their winds blast down from the Capitol Hill,
[p130] and the heavens gather storms with fearful lightning, and the leaders
draw together the thick storm clouds in the sky. The mass-makers and priests, sacred dung beetles lately risen from the Roman filth, having counterfeited Christ's name, went forth and stirred up arms, wars and threats throughout the kingdoms, and drove sulphurous balls of flames towards the stars.
216 Should I recount what fearful curses this unholy arbiter, the eternal ruler of gods and men, spews forth? Clearly, as it seems acceptable to the gods: if it is right to believe that. In order to examine a few examples from the many, let us come to know this lion from its claws.
221 'Whatever the Roman pope desires is the measure of justice and equity. Everything the pope does God ratifies on his heavenly throne. Everything God does empowers the pope: a co-ruler with God and Christ, both the equal power, a high throne shared with the pope. The pope precedes Paul: precedes the ancient covenant. Let the pope legislate against the Gospel, and the writings of Paul, while establishing articles of faith, and convening ecumenical councils, and altering sacred commandments: If he should drive a carriage full of souls down to Hell with him, is there no one able to confront him or say against him: "Why do you do this?" His will stands in place of reason!' All these things, and six hundred others no better than these, which the papal college of the canonists thunders out, p they then daub onto paper, foisting them upon the whole world as if they were laws, acting as the inquisitor of improper heresy and agent of heaven, while the pope is supreme commander and cheerleader of the holy theatre.
236 No one ever became really wicked all at once. The boy who passes his time secretly conceals his propensity for crime behind an unreadable character. Gradually the poison in his soul increases, until finally it strives with all its powers to burst forth into the sinews of the fully-grown body. As when a ship is struck by some waves and its joints loosened, little by little it drinks in the hostile streams, and it gapes with open cracks, until dashed on the rocks the worn-out boat splits itself apart: just as a house built by sin, weakened in supporting columns, that has been standing on a rotten foundation, also open to the savage frenzy of the winds, and gradually undermined by many storms, collapses with a fall: just as the plague which flourishes in a wearying body, and gradually wastes away the man plump with a fat belly, [p131] and eats away at the strong limbs, and lays waste the marrow of the bones: while the protruding bones expose the punctured skin: not otherwise does the shoot born of a droplet from the seed of Hell, and borne in the womb for a long time, and nurtured in the maternal bosom, until with its strength increased, it burst forth into the light from the ruptured womb with great force: a terrfiying monster, massive, misshapen; which the generation bereft of light, and gradually habituated to the darkening gloom, embraces with both arms after it has sprung forth from its mother's knees. It wonders at the vast might of the new empire; it supports the empire with happy portents, and promises the role of Christ and the throne of Peter to the promoter of the empire's health: and promises that one chief shall rise above all shepherds and govern tranquil Olympus in a disorded state. So a bear strives to shape a shapless enormity by licking, q and he forms the sections and shapes the limbs, keeping within its natural bulk and design: until, with its powers gradually increased, it falls upon its prey, which it consumes through its blood-stained mouth.
268 The day of his birth was not disclosed as soon as he was born to the same age, the light of day was given to this fatal creature after a long delay; for he was not born in it, but became a mature man when exposed to it. Through long ages he has endured: he now pursues the Lamb for a very brief period. He has grown up in different stages, and over many years he completed the numbers by which he brought his age to manhood.
274 He who throws these things into confusion, who does not see with open eyes, blinds the eyes of crows: and he himself draws the black shadow of dulling gloom upon himself.
277 An indifference to the born-again light cultivates such ignorance. Unaware of the world, he does not understand things: rather slow, and not familiar with the times, he is bewildered. Timid through fear, with his tricks he skilfully dissembles; he spurns compassion and impiously laughs at all anxiety at a safe distance. This enemy plunders in full view, and also this unfriendly betrayer lays wait in ambush in the dark shadows. For those who have been shown to be timid rabbits at time of war, and brave lions at peacetime, startle their foe from afar with a show of force and through deceit.
285 Some absolve those who have followed the example of their ancestors. I do not doubt they follow in the footsteps of their fathers, and conjure up the throng of their ancestors recalled from the edge of limbo: [p132] they honour the temples of the Gods and their eminent courts: they gaze at their strongholds, and they marvel at both their riches and their glories. Stupefied by the splendour before them they are blinded to the darkness beneath its shadow, and fallen they hasten towards a worse outcome, and are driven backwards.
You, Britain, ackowledge Christ the king in heaven,
who directs the reins of his heavenly kingdom on earth,
and who holds seven stars in his conquering right hand.
But overturn that accursed man, lately exposed in the bright daylight
as the prophecies of oracles and divine illumination foretold,
in a rapid descent as fate itself has decreed.
These will be your glories, these your illustrious trophies, this
your ultimate victory that, as you returned true virtue to the heavens,
you threw out the she-wolf, expelled the cubs, and have wiped out
every footprint of the unmentionable beast from the earth.
302 Therefore I petition both pious king and venerable senate on bended knees, and with hands outstretched to heaven I vow by the scars of Christ's awful death and by the heavenly father's assurance of constant affection, if Christ's love abides and my passion for God too, I vow that, should anyone, any English speaker from whatever nation, whether he be Englishman or Scotsman with no distinction, if it be me or anyone else under whatever shade of religion, and under the protection of their ancestral devotion, should anyone attempt secretly to overturn either this unchangable foundation of the uncorrupted truth and this mighty incorruptible mystery, or try to injure it by force; that is, should he, by corrupting scripture build upon either wood or straw or hay, whether denying any knowledge of both apostolic law's venerable tradition and pride with its vanity, or restoring excess with its weakness born of base idleness, or protecting worship which is superstitious in its deviancy, and burning the ancestral gods with a foreign fire, then he would be interrogated, partly by force and partly by law, in the light and cloudless air of bright day, and would be subject to a trial in the middle of a council of the nobles, in an assembly of the clerics, with the king as judge, a hostile attorney, an expert in heaven's word and in the books inspired by God. When shown clearly to have erred, and exposed again and again, may the wicked false one suffer a punishment fitting his crude audacity: [p133] may he be branded with eternal disgrace and also made an example of for generations now and to come.
This becomes your piety, good king, this becomes your religion,
kind nobles, and this will assuage God's anger and prevent war.
Speedily will this drive the plague and this current famine from minds and bodies.
And it will reward the king and kingdom with untroubled peace.
1: Original note: Act. 9. 2 Cor. 12.
2: cf. Lucretius, De Rerum natura III.434-444, where Lucretius discusses the body as a vessel ('Quod vas...') containing water/soul. This section paraphrases II Corinthians 12.3-5
3: Virgil, Aeneid IV.359
4: Original note: Ad Tim. 1 et 2. Epistl.
5: Virgil, Aeneid VI.891
6: Horace, Odes II.1.28. Melville uses this Horatian line at 'Carmen Mosis' (d2_MelA_005), l.44-45. There is a textual issue with the punctuation here. The subjunctives which follow 'urget' are subordinated by 'docet' two lines back
7: Virgil, Aeneid VI.891
8: Virgil, Aeneid I.204
9: Statius, Thebaid XII.745
10: Original note: 1. Tim. 3.16.
11: cf. Virgil, Aeneid IV.357-8. See also note above line 3, where Melville uses the same passage
12: Original note: 1 Cor. 11, 12, 13.
13: End of line: Virgil Aeneid X.771. Melville also uses it at 'Carmen Mosis' (d2_MelA_005), l.24
15: Original note: Psal. 118, 22
16: cf. Cicero, Academica II.46.140
17: Claudian, In Eutropium II.228
18: Word omitted in Andreae Melivini Musae (hereafter Musae)
19: Original note: Apocal. 1, 16.20.
20: Most of this line is taken verbatim from Sannazaro, De Partu Virginis I.55
21: Original note: Zach. 4.3, 11, 12. Apoc. 11, 3, 4
22: Original note: Cor. 3, 14, 15, 16
23: cf. Virgil, Aeneid I.379
24: Virgil, Georgics I.85. The passage, from 'vel' to 'flammis' is a paraphrase of I Corinthians III.12-15. Melville reworks it again at line 323
De Bello Civili VII.5
26: cf. Virgil,
27: This line is a composite of I Corinthians III.13, and George Buchanan, Psalms XII.25.
28: Virgil, Aeneid I.461
29: Ovid, Heroides XII.85. See also Buchanan, Psalms XC.21
30: Original note: Ibid. v. 17.
31: Musae: 'infaenis'
32: Original note: Thes.2, 3, 4.
33: Virgil, Aeneid XI.495
34: Virgil, Aeneid IV.27
35: Virgil, Aeneid VI.622
36: Original note: Ibid. v. 8.
37: Musae: 'monstrum'
38: cf. '...caeli
spirabile lumen', from Virgil, Aeneid III.600. See note above, line
39: Original note: Apoc. 17.
40: Virgil, Aeneid III.406
41: Virgil, Aeneid X.725
42: Virgil, Georgics II.464. Virgil, Aeneid IV.134. This entire passage is a Vergilian reworking of Revelations XVII
43: 'pocula', four
lines back, is conditioned by 'spumantia'. cf. Virgil, Eclogues
44: Ovid, Amores II.52
45: Lucan, De Bello Civili I.196
46: cf. Virgil, Aeneid IV.384; XI.186
47: Calvin, Notes on Ezechiel XVII.23
48: Lucan, De Bello Civili I.117
49: Both the end of this line and the end of the previous line are adapted from Virgil, Aeneid XI.433
50: Original note: Ibid. v. 5.
51: Musae: 'orbis'
52: 'Volvivagus': extrememly rare word only found in Classical Latin in Lucretius, De Rerum Natura IV.1071; V.932.
53: George Buchanan, Psalms XLV.42
54: Original note: vers. 11.
55: Virgil, Aeneid I.547
56: Original note: 7.
57: Virgil, Aeneid VII.641; X.163. Also cf. Ausonius, Epistulae XIII.40
58: Virgil, Aeneid X.725
59: Statius, Silvae IV.2.143
60: Whole passage:
Revelations XIII.8. 'ab origine mundi' also lends itself easily to
the final three feet of a hexameter line: Ovid, Metamorphoses I.3;
and Virgil Georgics II.336
61: Virgil, Aeneid VI.310; VII.704
62: Musae: 'umbras'
63: Original note: Apoc. 13.
64: cf. Horace, Odes IV.4.61 and following
65: The idea that these Roman emperors represent the biblical kings is first found in Marius Victorinus, In Apocolysia Beati Joannis XVII.10 and following
66: Virgil, Aeneid VI.843
67: Original note (marked by '*'): Domitianus.
68: Original note: Apoc. 17, 12.
69: Original note: 13.
70: Original note: 14.
71: A paraphrase of Revelations XVII.14 with a section from Ovid, Metamorphoses VI.92
72: Taken verbatim from Vulgate, Revelations XIX.16
73: Original note: 16.
74: Original note: 17.
75: End of line
begining of next: cf. Livy, Ab Urbe Condita VI.6.18
76: Musae: 'regnumquae superbae'
77: cf. Caesar, De Bello Gallico VII.63
78: Original note: Apoc. 17.15.
79: Virgil, Aeneid VII.600; XII.327
80: Virgil, Georgics II.535
81: Virgil, Aeneid VIII.635
82: Virgil, Aeneid XII.166
83: Original note: Apoc. 13.
84: Now begins an extended paraphrase of Revelations XIII, which reveals a great deal about Melville's compositional approach. Most prominent features: the use of classical words to replace those of the Vulgate; the recomposition of lines (for metrical purposes) from the Vulgate with surprising verbal fidelity to the original; and, finally, the gilding of the biblical image with half lines and full lines taken from various Classical authors (Virgil in particular)
85: Melville uses
Virgil's 'pone sequens' to paraphrase the Vulgate's more ambiguous 'post bestiam', Revelations XIII.3. He also employs it in Ex Cantico
Salomonis 10. The phrase can be found in Virgil, Aeneid X.226,
and Georgics IV.487
Vulgate, Secundum Lucam I.75
87: Virgil, Aeneid XI.219. Also found at 'Carmen Mosis' (d2_MelA_005), l.179. For the first half of the line see: Horace, Epodes XVII.5; V.45-6
88: Virgil, Aeneid II.557-8
89: Musae: 'Threiciis' for 'Threiceis'. The start of this line and most of the previous line: Cicero, De Officiis II.7
90: Ovid, Metamorphoses VI.270; and XV.874-6
91: Musae: 'etiam' for 'autem'
92: Virgil, Eclogues IV.37; Aeneid XII.438
93: Musae: 'cinxit' for 'accinxit. cf Virgil, Aeneid
94: Virgil, Aeneid I.280. This line is not found in the Musae
95: Musae: 'altos'
96: '...et juga mittat / sub sua...' cf. Virgil, Aeneid VIII.148: '...sua sub juga mittant /'
97: Original note: Apoc. 16.13.
98: Virgil, Aeneid XI.458
99: Original note (marked by '*'): Bellarminus.
100: Virgil, Aeneid III.574
101: Virgil, Aeneid X.18. Servius discusses the original context.
102: Virgil, Aeneid VI.173; III.2
103: Erasmus, Adages I.XI.34. Translated from Diogenianus' Greek original: Ἐκ
104: Musae: 'et'
105: Juvenal, Satires VI.223
106: cf. Horace, Epistulae II.2.130
107: Juvenal, Satires II.83
108: This and the previous line: Virgil, Aeneid I.123
The passive participle of 'fligo, fligere' is not attested anywhere else in Classical Latin.
It is only found in compounded forms of the word. Melville has used Virgil, Aeneid X.303, for this line and has replaced 'inflicta' with
110: Virgil, Aeneid I.692
111: Virgil, Aeneid III.658
112: Musae: 'superemineat'
113: A common
Vergilian hexameter ending: Virgil, Aeneid I.295; IX.341; X.489;
114: Musae: 'moriturus'
115: '...cornicum oculos configit...' This is a common saying in Latin literature. See Cicero, Pro Murena 25; and Pro Flacco 46, where it is referred to as a saying. However, Melville may have got it from Calvin, Commentary on Acts V, I.3.1-6, whose commentaries he interacts with elsewhere in the corpus.
116: Ovid, Metamorphoses VI.473
117: Virgil, Aeneid VIII.627; X.247-9; X.666
Apollinaris uses this expression to describe barbarians in Roman service: 'in praetoriis
leones, in castris lepores'. Sidonius Apollinaris, Epistulae
119: Musae: 'lusci'
120: Virgil, Aeneid I.692. Melville also uses this passage in the 'Carmen Mosis' (d2_MelA_005), l.131
121: Virgil, Aeneid IX.461
122: Musae: 'supplex'; 'que' omitted
123: Virgil, Aeneid I.93
124: For this line and what follows: Virgil, Aeneid III.599-600
125: Virgil, Aeneid X.108
126: Musae:; 'vi' omitted
127: I Corinthians III.12. Melville uses this section of the Vulgate elsewhere (lines 36-7 above)
128: Musae: 'et' omitted; 'atque'
129: Musae: the final five lines are omitted
a: According to tradition, the Book of Revelation was a vision granted by Christ to John 'the theologian' (described as such in later MSS of the title, but unlikely to be St John the Apostle as early scholars believed) while he was in exile on the Aegean island of Patmos during the reign of Domitian (81-96AD). The vessel here is the angel sent by Christ with the revelation for John; John is the disciple who is commanded to hear the vision and build the church on earth by sending letters to the seven churches in Asia (Revelation 1:1; see also note below).
b: Capitalised in text, suggesting an oblique reference to the goddess Persuasion.
d: The 'Annunciation' of the incarnation of Christ is delivered to Mary by the angel Gabriel in Luke 1:26-38.
e: Psalm 118:22: 'The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone'; in Acts 4:11, Jesus is 'the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone' (NIV).
f: John is instructed to write to the 'angels' of the seven churches in Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea (Revelation 1:11). The angel who appears to John holds 'seven stars' in his right hand (1:16) which represent the 'angels' at these churches, and the seven lampstands that surround the angel (1:12-13) are the seven churches (1:20).
g: The rock from which traitors were thrown in ancient Rome.
h: Nero Claudius Caesar (r. 54-68AD) was the last of the first five Roman emperors (he was preceded by Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, and Claudius) who were part of the Julio-Claudian dynasty. Nero's suicide was also the end of the family line, hence Melville's assertion that this first 'head' of the empire was cut off and grew back with a sequence of emperors from different families.
i: Servius Sulpicius Galba, Marcus Salvius Otho, and Aulus Vitellius all reigned briefly in a series of bloody coups and counter-coups in the year after Nero's death, before Titus Flavius Vespasianus (Vespasian) seized control. Vespasian ruled until 79AD, and was followed briefly by his son Titus (Titus Flavius Vespasianus), who died in 81AD. Vespasian and Titus acted in concert in 67AD to supress the Jewish revolt in Judaea that had broken out in the preceding year, and in 70AD Titus captured Jerusalem and destroyed the Second Temple (which had existed since 516BC, on the site where Solomon's Temple had supposedly stood between the sixth and tenth centuries BC), decisively ending the revolt. Melville explores the significance of the fall of the Second Temple in the context of scriptural prophecy in his Carmina Danielis 9. See Reid, 'Andrew Melville, sacred chronology and world history', pp. 4-15.
j: Domitian (Titus Flavius Domitianus, r. 81-96AD), was rumoured to have murdered his brother Titus with poison. Domitian was especially hated by Christians for his attempts to restore ancient Roman religion. Melville's chronology linking Domitian to Nero and John's exile in the preceding lines is obviously erratic.
k: Nerva (Marcus Cocceius Nerva) ruled between 96 and 98AD, but was
elderly and infirm; bowing to political pressure, he adopted Trajan (Marcus Ulpius Traianus,
r. 98-117AD), who had previously been appointed by him as governor of Upper Germany, as his
son, co-emperor and successor in late 97AD.
l: Ancient Rome had seven hills - the Palatine, Aventine, Capitoline, Caelian, Esquiline, Viminal and Quirinal.
m: The origin story of Rome narrated that the brothers Romulus and Remus had been born from the rape of Rhea Silvia, a vestal virgin, by Mars, the God of War. Their uncle Amulius, fearing rivals to the crown of Alba Longa which he had seized from his father (and their grandfather) Numitor, ordered the infants to be thrown into the Tiber. However, they were washed ashore and suckled by a she-wolf. Raised by a herdsman, the two boys grew up to kill Amulius and restore Numitor, before founding Rome in a settlement around the Palatine hill. Romulus walled it, and either he or his lieutenant killed Remus for leaping over the walls; Romulus also seized women from the neighbouring Sabines to provide his men with wives.
n: Melville is making a rather weak pun here linking sexual licence and the ecclesiastical rank of cardinal in the Catholic Church.
o: Of Israel.
p: This is a satire of the canon law Si Papa, which stated that the pope's will on earth is directed by God, and thus not open to question. It is also satirised by Nicolas Colladon, who was rector of the Genevan academy between 1564 and 1571 (and thus at the time that Melville was a teacher there), in his 'Privilege of the Roman Pontiff or the Papal Alpha and Omega' ('Privilegium Romani Pontificis sive Alpha et Omega Papae'), appended to the 1584 edition of his Methodus Facilima ad Explicationem Apocalypseos Iohannis, which Melville is clearly referencing. See Reid, 'Andrew Melville, sacred chronology and world history', pp. 19-20.
q: There was a common folk belief that bears were born as inchoate masses which the mother 'licked into shape', hence the popular expression.