His palace garden where his courtiers walk
His jewel’s cabinet. Here his cabal
Do sham it, and truss up their privie talk. 15
In fardels of consults and bundles all.
His shambles, and his butcher’s stalls herein.
It is the fuddling school of every sin.
His heart now the Devil’s Palace.
It is the place where his servants gather, “where his courtiers walk.” A courtier is an attendant upon a king.
It is the place where precious things are kept, “His jewel’s cabinet” (cabinet for his jewels).
This is the place where the devils generally to meet together to make plans. They are a “cabal” who gather together to plan deceptions (sham). They are brought in a close-knit group (truss up) which belongs to the sovereign (privie).
A “fardel” is a bundle, a small pack a wrapping. So this would be a close gathering. The idea is repeated in the same line, “bundles all.” The OED provides an interesting use of fardel to be a burden used figuratively of sin. Thus, the thing which is experienced by Taylor as a burden (fardel) of sin and sorrow is the result of a close gathering (fardel) of demonic actors.
It is not just the place where the agents of Satan meet; it is even the place where they find time to eat. Their “butcher” has quarters present. But this also raises the idea of what is being butchered? There are no cattle or sheep mentioned.
Fuddle refers to intoxication. It is a drunken school: it is place where sin’s are learned and taught.
His heart is the palace of rebellion against God.
Was ever heart like mine? Pride, passion, fell.
Ath’ism, blasphemy, pot, pipe it, dance 20
Play barlybreaks, and at last couple in hell.
At cudgels, kit-cat, carts and dice here prance.
At noddy, ruff-and trumped, jing, post-and-are,
Put, one-and-thirty, and such other ware.
He repeats the refrain, “Was ever heart like mine” which again alludes to Herbert’s poem on the passion of Christ (Was ever grief like mine?)
Line 19, through the first half of line 20 speaks to what his heart contains: pride, the archetype of all sin, passion (wild desire), “fell” (simply evil).
Line 20, active rebelling of God, atheism and blasphemy.
Atheism had a far more diabolical sound to a 17th century minister than it does to modern ears. Consider Thomas Manton:
Partly because the most universal and incurable disease of the world is atheism; it is disguised under several shapes, but atheism it is that lies at the root, and blasts and destroys all practice and good conscience; and therefore it is good to deal upon this argument, and to reflect the light of this truth upon our conscience, and to take all occasions to batter down that atheism that is in our hearts.
Thomas Manton, The Complete Works of Thomas Manton, vol. 14 (London: James Nisbet & Co., 1973), 125. Atheism is a direct denial of God. This is followed by the charge of blasphemy, which would be disparaging God.
At this point, Taylor’s description of his heart sounds like the trouble faced by Christian in Pilgrim’s Progress as he crossed the Valley of the Shadow of Death:
One thing I would not let slip. I took notice that now poor Christian was so confounded that he did not know his own voice; and thus I perceived it. Just when he was come over against the mouth of the burning pit, one of the wicked ones got behind him, and stepped up softly to him, and whisperingly suggested many grievous blasphemies to him, which he verily thought had proceeded from his own mind. This put Christian more to it than any thing that he met with before, even to think that he should now blaspheme Him that he loved so much before. Yet if he could have helped it, he would not have done it; but he had not the discretion either to stop his ears, or to know from whence these blasphemies came.
John Bunyan, The Pilgrim’s Progress: From This World to That Which Is to Come (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1995).
Then seemingly in an incongruous move, the remainder of the stanza is merely a list of the drunken games played by the devils:
pot, pipe it, dance 20
Play barlybreaks, and at last couple in hell.
The Wikipedia page for Barley Breaks reads “Barley-Break is an old English country game frequently mentioned by the poets of the 17th and 18th centuries. It was played by three pairs, each composed of a man and a woman, who were stationed in three bases or plots, contiguous to each other. The couple occupying the middle base, called hell or prison, endeavoured to catch the other two, who, when chased, might break to avoid being caught. If one was overtaken, he and his companion were condemned to hell. From this game was taken the expression “the last couple in hell”, often used in old plays.”
Willam Chappell, Popular Music of the Olden Times (1859) contains this entry: