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«By R.G. Omne tulit punctum, qui miscuit dulci. London Printed by George Purslowe Modern spelling transcript copyright 2007 Nina Green All Rights ...»

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Greene’s Metamorphosis

Wherein is discovered a pleasant transformation of bodies into sundry shapes, showing

that as virtues beatify the mind, so vanities give greater stains than the perfection of any

quality can rase out.

The discourse confirmed with divers merry and delightful histories full of grave principles to content age, and sauced with pleasant parleys and witty answers to satisfy youth; profitable for both, and not offensive to any.

By R.G.

Omne tulit punctum, qui miscuit dulci.

London Printed by George Purslowe Modern spelling transcript copyright 2007 Nina Green All Rights Reserved



The Epistle Dedicatory To the right worshipful Sir Charles Blount, Knight, endued with perfections of learning and titles of nobility, Robert Greene wisheth increase of honour and virtue Achilles, the great commander of the Myrmidons, had no sooner (right Worshipful) encountered the hardy Troian with his curtal-ax, and registered his valour on the helm of his enemy, but returning to his tents he portrayed with his pen the praise of Polyxena, joining amours with armours and the honour of his learning with the resolution of his lance. In the Olympiads, the laurel strived as well for the pen as the spear, and Pallas had double sacrifice, as well perfumes of torn papers as incense of broken truncheons.

Entering, right Worshipful, with deep insight into these premises, I found [+fame] blazoning your resolute endeavours in deeds of arms, and report figuring out your ever intended favours to good letters. Presuming upon the courteous disposition of your Worship, I adventured to present you, as Lucius did Caesar, who offered him an helmet topped with plumes in wars and a book stuffed with precepts in peace, knowing that Caesar held it as honourable to be counted an orator in the court as a soldier in the field.

So, right Worshipful, after your return from the Low Countries (passing over those praiseworthy resolutions executed upon the enemy), seeing absence from arms had transformed Campus Martius to Mount Helicon, I over-boldened myself to trouble your Worship with the sight of my Metamorphosis, a pamphlet too simple to patronage under so worthy a Maecenas, and unworthy to be viewed of you, whose thoughts are intended to more serious studies.

Yet Augustus would read poems and write roundelays, rather to purge melancholy with toys than for any delight in such trifles. So I hope your Worship will, after long perusing of great volumes, cast a glance at my poor pamphlet wherein is discovered the anatomy of women’s affections, setting out as in a mirror how dangerous his hazard is that sets his rest upon love, whose enemy [sic?] (if it have any) is momentany, and effects variable. If either the method or matter mislike, as wanting scholarism in the one, or gravity in the other, yet if it shall serve your Worship as a trifle to pass away the time, and so slip with patience as a board jest, I shall be less grieved; if any way it please, as to procure your delight, I shall be glad and satisfied, as having gained the end of my labours. But, howsoever, hoping your Worship will pardon my presumption in presenting, and weigh more of the well-affected will than of the bad-laboured work, I wish your Worship such fortunate favours as you can desire, or I imagine.

Your Worship’s to command, Robert Greene

–  –  –

Falling, gentlemen, by chance amongst a company of no mean gentlewomen, after supposes and such ordinary sports passed, they fell to prattle of the qualities incident to their own sex. One amongst the rest, very indifferent, more addicted to tell the truth than to self-conceit, said that woman [sic for ‘women’] that had favours had most commonly contrary faults, For, quoth she, beauty is seldom without pride, and wit without inconstancy. The gentlewomen began to blush because she spake so broad, be sure [sic for ‘censured’?], and blamed her that she would so fondly soil her own nest. She still maintained it, that what she had spoken was true, and more, that she had forgotten their little secrecy. Whereupon there grew arguments, and a sophistical disputation fell out among the gentlewomen about their own qualities. I sat still as a cipher in algorism, and noted what was spoken, which after I had perused in my chamber, and seeing it would be profitable for young gentlemen to know and foresee as well their faults as their favours, I drew into a fiction, the form and method in manner of a metamorphosis, which, gentlemen, I present unto your wonted courtesies, desiring you not to look for any of Ovid’s witty inventions, but for bare and rude discourses, hoping to find you, as hitherto I have done, whatsoever in opinion, yet favourable and silent in speech. In which hope setting down my rest, I bide you farewell.

Yours ever, as he is bound, Robert Greene.

Modern spelling transcript copyright 2007 Nina Green All Rights Reserved



Authoris ad librum suum carmen Ouidianum, cum diutina febri rure laboraret.

Parue (nec inuideo) sine me liber ibis in vrbem:

Hei mihi, quod domino non licet ire tuo.

Et palma tu dignus, & hic, & quisquis in altam, Pluribus vt profit, doctus descendit arenam.

R.A. Oxon.

In praise of the author The busy bee, that riseth with the sun, Hies forth her hive to end her daily task;

With weary wings she plies into the fields, And nature’s secrets searcheth by her skill;

From flower to flower her careful way doth fly, To suck her honey from her native sweet;

Loaden, she rich bestirs her to her home, And there she works and tills within her hive;

Not for herself thus busily she roams, But for us men, that feed upon her combs;

So GREENE hath sought into the depth of art, With weary labours toiling at his books For fruits such as the learned authors yield, Searching the secrets that their wits have penned, Tossing amongst their learned principles, Their rhetoric and deep philosophy, Gathering the sweet that every science gives To carry pleasant honey to his hive;

Not for himself alone the author looks, But for such men as deign to read his books.

Sic vos non vobis mellificatis apes [=Thus you bees make honey, but not only for yourselves].

Ed. Percy.

Modern spelling transcript copyright 2007 Nina Green All Rights Reserved



To the author, his friend Well hast thou painted in thy learned prose The perfect portraiture of women’s works, How many scapes they shadow with a gloze, What mortal faults amongst their favours lurks, How if they have a virtue to entice, A cooling card comes following with a vice;

Beauty doth grace, and yet is stained with pride, Fair is abused by being over-coy;

If it is a gem, but if inconstant tried, Account if for a trifle and a toy;

Constant and kind are virtues that do grace, But babbling dames such glories do deface;

Virtue thus set opposed unto their vice Gives us a light to settle safe our loves, To fear, lest painted shows may us entice;

Subtile are women; then it men behoves To read, sweet friend, and over-read thy books, To teach us ware of women’s wanton looks.

Bubb Gent.

Modern spelling transcript copyright 2007 Nina Green All Rights Reserved



In Roberti Greni Metamorphosin carmen enkomiastikon Bellica pacificae concedat lancea linguae, Seu tibi prosa magis, seu tibi metra placent.

Saepe Duces inter laudem meruere Poetae, Hostibus in medijs arma virosq{ue} canunt.

Inter Philosophos laudem meruere Poetae, Qui leuibus miscent feria metra iocis.

Bella Ducum, & claros multi scripsere triumphos, Inter quos primas Maro Poeta tenet.

Sunt qui mutatas studuerunt dicere formas, Quales quae quondam Naso Poeta dedit, Post Metamorphosin Nasonis, carmine scriptam, Mutatas formas carmine nemo dedit.

Grenus adest tandem, rhetor bonus atque Poeta, Qui sua cum profis carmina iuncta dedit Si cupis ingratae poenas persoluere amicae, Hic exempla legas, moribus apta suis.

Orabis Venerem (solet exaudire precantem) Inque nouam formam vertet amica Venus.

Dura est? in saxum: leuis est? in Chameleontem:

Inque rosam vertet, garrula si fuerit.

G.B. Cant.

Modern spelling transcript copyright 2007 Nina Green All Rights Reserved



In laudem Roberti Greni Cantab. in Artibus Magistri Olim praeclaros scripsit Chaucerus ad Anglos,

Aurea metra suis patrio sermone refundens:

Post hunc Gowerus post hunc sua carmina Lydgate, Postque alios alij sua metra dedere Britannis.

Multis post annis, coniungens carmina profis, Florint [sic for ‘floruit’] Ascamus, Chekus, Gascoynus, & alter Tullius Anglorum nunc viuens Lillius, illum Consequitur Grenus, praeclarus vterque Poeta.

–  –  –

Loosing from Tripoli to make for Alexandria, as we thought to cross the seas with a speedy cut, our ship had not long gone under sail, scarce past two hundred leagues upon the main, but whether our unhappy fortune, the frowardness of the fates, the constellation of some contrary aspect, or the particular destiny of some unhappy man had so decreed, when the calm was smoothest, the sea without storm, the sky without clouds, then Neptune, to show he was god of the seas and Aeolus master of the winds, either of them severally and both of them conjointly so conspired that they first drew a foggy veil over Phoebus’ face, that the heavens appeared all gloomy, the Tritons danced, as foreshowing a rough sea, and Aeolus, setting his winds at liberty, hurled such a gale into the ocean that every surge was ready to overtake our ship, and the bark ready to founder with every wave. Such and so miserable was our estate that we shook [sic for ‘strook’?] all our sails, weighed [sic?] our anchors and let the ship hull at wind and weather, from our handy labours falling to hearty prayers. Thus looking every hour to commit our souls to the gods and our bodies to the seas, after we had floated by the space of five days without hope of life, our bark by chance fell upon the coast of Taprobane, an island situated far south under the pole Antarctic, where Canopus, the fair star, gladdeth the hearts of the inhabitants. There we suffered shipwreck, all perishing in the sea except my infortunate self, who count my misfortune greater in surveying [sic for ‘surviving’?] all the rest than if I had been partner with them of their destinies.

Well, the gods would have me live to be more miserable, and despair I would not, lest I should prove guilty of mine own mishap, but taking heart at grass, wet and weary as I was I passed up into the island, which I found inhabited and fruitful, the air passing temperate, the situation pleasant, the soil abounding with trees, herbs and grass, fowls and beasts of all kind, the champian fit for corn and grain, the woodland full of thickets, the meads full of springs and delightful fountains, that the soil and the air equally proportioned, the isle seemed a sacred Eden or paradise, much like that fair England, the flower of Europe, stored with the wealth of all the western world, which as ex opposito is contrarily placed far north under the pole Artic.

Well, crept up the cliffs into the main continent of this island, I wandered far and found no village, till at last under a hill I spied a little cottage at the door whereof sat an old woman, decrepit, overworn with years, her hair as white as the down found upon the shrubs of Arabia, her face full of wrinkles, furrowed so with age as in her visage appeared the very map of antiquity, yet might I perceive by the lineaments of her face that she had been beautiful and well-featured, and that she was descended from some good parentage, such sparks of gentility appeared in her countenance. Musing at this old matron that sat passing melancholy, my teeth for cold beating in my head, I saluted her in

this manner:

Mother (for this title I may use in respect of your age), craving pardon if I impart not what reverence belongs to your estate, in that I am a stranger, I salute you, wishing as Modern spelling transcript copyright 2007 Nina Green All Rights Reserved



many good fortunes may end your days as you have passed ill fortunes in the course of your life. My name or countries [sic for ‘country’?] little avails now to reveal, time being too short, and my state too miserable; let it suffice I am a stranger that have suffered shipwreck on your coast; my fellow consorts drowned, ending their sorrows, I escaped, reserved to great misfortunes. The weather is cold, and I am wet. Might I crave harbour this night, I should be bound to make such requital as distress can afford, which is thanks, and pray to the gods that you may die as fortunate as the mother of Cleotis [sic for ‘Cleobis’?] and Biton.

The old beldam, lifting up her head and seeing me stand shaking for cold, uttered not a word, but taking up her staff, and me by the hand, confirmed my welcome with silence, and led me into her cottage, where stumbling about on her three legs she made me a lusty fire that cheered my half-dead limbs, and revived what the sea had half mortified. After she perceived I began to wax warm, and that my colour grew to be fresh, she began to

make me answer in this manner:

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