Vox Stellarum

Miss Porden

When Mars was of Jupiter’s judgement informed
In favour of Hermes, he raged and he stormed
With anger he reddened as when he foreshows
To terror struck mortals fresh combats and woes
And seizing his helmet, his spear and his shield
Challenged the gods all at once to the field
He swore, that to Hermes he never would yield.

But Pallas stept forward, and counselled her brother
For the present at least his fierce anger to smother,
Since openly thus at his father to fly
Would fill with contention and clamour the sky.
And Jupiter then in his choler might send him
To Hades, where tortures for ever might rend him
Nor their sorrows or prayers could avail to befriend him
She therefore advised he should use his endeavour
His rights to preserve, and yet keep in Jove’s favour
“And since with your laurel my olive they blend
Your suit with the members I’m bound to befriend
And propose that we straight convene each constellation
To hold in the evening a consultation.”

Vox Stellarum

All ye who remember the Vox Planetarum
Attend to my verse, ’tis the last Vox Stellarum
Nor let the great Moore, of astrologers king
Think I mean to depose him, I mean no such thing
For I frankly declare, that I have no pretension
To rival his learning, his art, or invention
We know his vast genius directs and controls
States, kingdoms and kings, from the line to the poles
Yet to build up a scheme, for a contest between
Two gods or two planets — his wisdom I ween
Would disdain to attend to a subject so mean
Tho’ the doctor erewhile, all the world will attest
Has graced with his presence our classical Chest.

It was night, on my pillow I pensive reclined
And poems intended revolved in my mind,
When in a bright blaze of ineffable light,
Jove’s messenger, Iris, appeared to my sight
When briefly the story ensuing she told.
To the Attic Society bade me unfold

“I therefore have called you, that if you approve
Of my plea, you may straight seek the mansion of Jove
To entreat, at the first since unbiass’d their choice
That now if I yield, I may yield to their voice.
And of all information now fully possessed
Your suffrages, Mars and Minerva request!”

When Mars had conclud’d, to banish disorder
’Twas agreed that the stars should all speak in their order
That those next the pole, should the parley commence
And the others succeed in their oder from thence.

But th’ events which at this starry council befell
If my strains you approve, the next reading shall tell.

The order of speaking determined the bear
His thoughts on the subject began to declare,
He briefly observed he had little to say
Except, that as he was a creature of prey,
Of course he should follow where Mars led the way,
And if with his rival he happened to meet,
He should have an embrace, much too strict, to be sweet,
They smiled, and next Draco1 began (who of yore
Was Minerva’s own watchman and slept at her door
But since that sage goddess from Athens was chased
In the skies, to reward his attention was placed,
Where now through the aether his volumes are rolled
And the pole of the ecliptic involved in his fold.)

“Since my blue-eyed protectress left Attica’s plain
To assume in the skies her erratic domain
On Earth she ala! has disdained to abide
And by cunning and craft has her place been supplied,
Who to alchemists, lawyers, projectors gave birth,
And the whole tribe of flatterers, infesting the Earth
Whose project and schemes, in foundation unsound
Have sooner, or later, all dropt to the ground.”

“Till moved by the prayers of the best of the race
To mortals at length, she discovered her face 2
And finding with sorrow upon her return,
Greece no longer was fit for goddess’ sojourn,
The relics of all she had formerly loved,
To other dominions with care she removed,
Among them the Chest, which has caused this debate,
And whose story you know, so I need not relate,
Save that when fair Minerva had settled her plan
And the Attic amusements at first were began,
She appointed her brother to reign on their night
Which I therefore esteem his unchangeable right.
Next Cepheus whose rule Ethiopia obeyes
Declared from what his predecessors had said
That if any change should be made in the night
To Jupiter only could Mars yield his right:
For Mars also voted Cassiope fair
Who dared with the Nereids her charms to compare,
And who now sits forever enthroned in her chair,
And Perseus and she whom his prowess did save
When condemned for her mother’s vain pride to the grave;
For Mercury voted the charioteer
The Lion and Bootes, for Mars did appear
For Cyllenius the crown, for Mars Hercules rose
Nor his plea did the lyre of Apollo oppose,
And next Cygnus her wishes began to disclose
’Tis my pleasing employment from Lethe’s black stream
To rescue each poet, or orator’s name,”

“And on tablets engraved to consign them to fame
And oft have I view’d on these tablets expressed
Names beloved by the Muses, and dear to the Chest
Which preserv’d from oblivion shall ever remain
And envy, and time, will attack them in vain!
In their poems I found if Mars did not inspire
At least that he lent them additional fire,
And therefore for this I esteem it were best
That beneath his protection, their labours should rest.”


The Fox next arose, and he tried by a smile,
To conceal from his hearers his bosom’s deep guile:
“It grieves me,” he said, “of this contest to hear
And I dread lest at length it disorder the sphere,
For when two such great gods for dominion contend
It is hard to forseewhere their quarrel may end.
You are all well aware of the disinclination
I have ever expressed against all innovation
Yet such evident good on this change must attend
That Mercury’s plea I am forced to befriend,
The Muses reclined on some favorite mountain,
When the bay and the olive o’ershadow the fountain
To its soft flowing waters their voices unite,
And sing of love’s pains or of rural delight
The seasons that change, or the stars as they move,
Or raise their loud hymns, to omnipotent Jove;
But they fly when the trumpet’s shrill clangour alarms
Nor mingle their songs with the clashing of arms.
The city laid waste, or the harvest destroyed,
On which for support its whole people relied,
The brave warrior’s fate, or the patriot’s bier
May draw from the Muse as she passes a tear;
But she hastens to realms where no discord is found,
And where plenty, and peace, shed their blessing around
Hence with Mars it is plain, they can never unite,
And the readings ought not to be held on his night.”

“But Cyllenius who if dire Tisiphone rose,
With his magical rod, could the fury compose,
Of letters th’ inventor, of commerce the friend,
A herald your charge always prompt to attend,
Of magic the sire (but no magic they need
Whose nymphs can so well in enchantment succeed)
Mathematics thro’ them, to Terpsichore yield
And castles, and palaces, fade from the field,
Their smile the grave sculptor entices, and draws
From his desk e’en the sable expounder of laws
Nay the children of Chiron its sway have confest
And painters, and soldiers, have honoured the Chest
Then since so many talents in Hermes combine
And Jove for the night does all contest decline
To Hermes let Mars his dominion resign.
Thus artful he spoke, and the arrow replied,
’Tis in vain you endeavour your cunning to hide,
Shall he, who so lately was placed in the sphere,
And then thro’ his art, not his merit, I fear — 
Shall sly Renard against innovation declare
Innovation alone placed his worship in heaven
But while he pretends to condemn innovation
Still in Mercury’s favour he makes declaration
Sure the goose which he carries, his speech must inspire
Or perhaps, we the depth of his art should admire
It is true the fair Nine, fly from anarchy far,
Nor blow the shrill trumpet, nor mingle in war,
But oft when in battle two armies unite,
They gaze on the field from a neighbouring height.”

“And if some brave patriot attention should claim
Their songs give his actions forever to fame.
Hence Achilles, and Ajax, and Hector survive,
Hence Eneas and Turnus forever shall live.
Hence Orlando, Rinaldo, and great Charlemain
Hence Godfrey, and Tancred, their fields, fight again,
Such names to preserve, is their noblest employ
And I therefore to Mars, give my suffrage with joy.”

He spoke and sly Renard endeavoured in vain
To make a new speech as he said to explain
But to order he quickly is called by the fly
And order, resounds from all parts of the sky
Next the eagle began, and in Mercury’s favour
(As expected by all) used his utmost endeavour,
For of old, when fair Venus had smitten the heart,
Of the wily Cyllenius, he tried all his art,
For a smile or a look, but with little success
Till the eagle with pity, beheld his distress
And in Achelons as she bathed, he purloined,
Her sandal, and swiftly to Hermes consigned,
Who the prize to its owner refused to return
And the goddess, the suppliant became in her turn
Hence Hermes his friend, to requite for his care
Procured him the place he now holds in the sphere
The benevolent dolphin, whose kindness did save
The son of Ulysses of yore, from the wave,
Who rescued Arion, Palemon and bore
The corpse of poor Hesiod, again to the shore
Who in heaven for his kindness to mortals was placed
With his suffrage the cause of the Argicide graced
But Pegasus rose, and declared as the friend
Of the Muses, he must to their interests attend,
That the whole tribe of poets he feared they would find
To pilfering by nature, were too much inclined.
And therefore, should Hermes be placed at their h[...]
From their thefts, and their tricks, we sad mischief might d[...]
The fly, once the rival of Phoebe the bright
For the love of Endymion, that goddess to spite
Hearing she for Mercurius the first had proposed
For his rival, directly her wishes disclosed.
The ram, who the children of Athamus bore
When they fled from their stepmother Ino, of yore
To Mars, when at Colchos, by Phrygus devoted
For him (as his God) with celerity voted.

The bull that Europa conveyed o’er the wave
His voice to the offspring of Maia now gave.
The daughters of Atlas, the Hyades named
With their sister the Pleiads for chastity famed
Who the shipwrecked accuse, as the cause of their woes
With their votes, the protector of commerce oppose
The brethren to whom beauteous Leda gave birth
For fraternal affection renowned upon Earth.
Old ocean’s dominion from pirates who freed
With their voices in favour of Hermes decreed
The crab on the side of Cyllenius declares
But the lion, his vote, gives in favour of Mars.


The daughter of Themis, Astrea the Fair
Who honoured of old, our weak race with her care
Who with Pallas oft deigned o’er our Laws to preside
On the part of the injured each cause to decide
When Men by her rules would no longer be swayed
And Hermes, a Thing, called a Lawyer had made,
To the wealthiest client his suffrage who sold
And sapped the foundation of Justice — with Gold.
Among Men to sojourn, she no longer would deign
But fixed in the skies, her eternal domain.
And since then, she has never been found upon Earth
Save in schemes to which idle Projectors gave birth
She declared that since Mars had been freely elected
With Justice his plea could not now be rejected
And her Scales in which she the Competitors weigh’d
In favour of Mars, their decision had made.
Serpentarius for wily Cyllenius declared,
Poniatowski’s famed Bull for him also appeared.
The Scorpion whose sting famed Orion destroyed
By jealous Diana against him employed
When enraged that his love bright Aurora should share
Made the cause of insidious Mercurius his care
Great Chiron the offspring of Saturn the Old
Who to Peleus brave son did his knowledge unfold
Who taught him alike the proud Courser to rein
To close the deep round and diminish the pain
Or draw from the Lyre its most musical strain.

But since brave Alcides dread shaft in the blood
Of the Lernean Hydra so deeply embrued
In his foot was infixed, so excessive the smart
He wish’d but in vain with his being to part
To resign in the stream of oblivion his breath
And envied poor Mortals, the blessing of Death
Till his pain with compassion was witness by Jove
Who removed him at length to the concave above,
As a Warrior renowned while on Earth he remained
The cause of great Mars, with his vote he maintained.

The Goat Amalthea, to whom it was given
To nourish the future Director of heaven,
When Saturn his child would himself have destroyed
Her influence in favour of Hermes employed.
Young Ganymede, snatched up by Jove to the Sky,
And the Fishes their interest for Mercury try.
The Whale gives his vote for the homicide Mars,
But the Hare on the side of Cyllenius appears.
The meandering Eridanus, Orion the brave,
And the Unicorn votes for the Homicide gave.
The Dog, who the lovely Erigone drew
To his corpse, when the Shepherds fame Icarus slew
The Altar on which the Gods vowed they would aid
Chronides, when war on the Titans he made
The Raven, the Centaur, the Crown and the Crane
With the Hydra near Lerna by Hercules slain
With their interest the Warrior’s party sustain
The Bee, and the Ship in which Jason left Greece
When to Colchis he sailed to recover the Fleece.

The Wolf, and the Cup to Apollo devoted,
With the Peacock and Swordfish for Mars also voted.3
Then Pallas the votes having counted, declared
In favour of Mars, that the numbers appeared
And proposed that each bright Constellation should move
Their petition to urge at the footstool of Jove,
And that radiant Asterea, the speaker should prove.

They agreed; As they moved in bright order along
The Gods in astonishment gazed on the throng
While Mortals affrighted, the concourse to view,
Each moment expect some dread change to ensue.
Great Herschel and Maskelyn, worthies renowned
Thought their schemes of eternal duration unsound
Johanna whose Oracles thousands can sway,4
Hence predicted that Gaul should Napoleon obey
The Yorkshireman too, in Astrology skilled
Deemed in this, that he saw his predictions fulfilled
That the Planets and Stars in confusion were hurled
And expected each Moment, the end of the World.5
E’en Moore, the strange sight in astonishment view’d
And feared that to England it boded no good!

Meanwhile they arrived, where enthroned in his state,
Four Lords in attendance Jove’s [his] orders await,
Then suppliant Astrea their grievances stated,
The forbearance of Mars, how the Synod debated,
And their fiat, with suitable comments related.
The loudly implored him brave Mars to protect
Till the members themselves, should another elect.

Jove replied with a smile, that he Hermes had sent
Since the Planets in council had given consent,
In the Attic Society votes to collect,
But since Justice herself appeared Mars to protect
Their deeds by his voice should not now be controlled
But he willed, they ere long an Assembly should hold
The claims of The Rivals unbiassed to hear,
Who by person or proxy, that day should appear
When each circumstance known, they should freely decide
And th’ opponents their judgement were bound to abide.
He nodded! To Jove commission was given,
To make known upon Earth, the decision of Heaven.


E.N.R. begs leave to state that the sole object of the Poem was to induce the author of ‘Vox Planetarum’ to discover his reasons for desiring the change in the Evening, when if they shall appear sufficient to counterbalance the inconvenience of alteration, ENR will be happy to vote in his favour.


  1. The Ancient Greek Constellation of the Bear, comprehended not only the stars now known to us by the name of Ursa Major, but the whole Arctic Circle — The Lesser Bear was first distinguished by the Phoenicians — I have used the Greek division. 

  2. The Planet named Pallas was not discovered ’till within these few years.  

  3. Three or four modern Constellations are here omitted for the sake of brevity.  

  4. It should be remembered that the predictions of this Lady are never shown until after the events have happened.  

  5. A Yorkshire Astrologer predicted a few years ago that the end of the World was fixed for Ash Wednesday 1808. When the day arrived, he said that thro’ his intercession the event was postponed.