«By R.G. Omne tulit punctum, qui miscuit dulci. London Printed by George Purslowe Modern spelling transcript copyright 2007 Nina Green All Rights ...»
I dare not, madam, quoth Eurimachus, infer what I would, but to answer more plainly, Endymion waking and feeling Phoebe grace him with a kiss was not more amazed than I at your heavenly presence, fearing, if not Actaeons’ fall, yet that I had committed the like fault, for at the first blush, your excellency drave me into such a maze that I dreamed not of the Lady Marpesia, but of some goddess that had solaced in these woods, which supposition made me so mute.
You fly still, quoth Marpesia, from my demand, playing like the lapwing that crieth farthest from her nest. I asked who it was that you loved so as to honour her with such a sonnet.
It was, madam, to keep accord to my lute, not to discover any passions, for all the amordelayes [sic for ‘roundelays’?] Orpheus played on his harp were not amorous, nor every sonnet that Arion warbled on his instrument vowed unto Venus. I am too young to love, for fear my youth be overbidden, fancy being so heavy a burden that Hercules, who could on his shoulder sustain the heavens, groaned to bear so weighty a load. If then, madam, I strive above my strength, I shall but with the giants heap Pelion upon Ossa, passions upon passions, so long till I be stricken to death with love’s thundering bolt;
therefore, madam, I dare not love.
Marpesia, who determined to sound the depth of his thoughts, took him before he fell to
the ground, and made this reply:
Trust me, Eurimachus, your looks, your actions, your sighs and gesture argues no less than a lover; therefore seeing we are alone, none but we three, I’ll have you once in shrift, and therefore I conjure you by your mistress’ favour and beauty to tell me whether you be in love or no.
You strain me so hard, madam, quoth Eurimachus, that I am in love, and love so far in me as neither time nor fortune can raze out. The name of my mistress, madam, pardon, for in naming her I discover mine own presumption, having aimed so by the means of aspiring love as her excellency crosseth all my thoughts with disdain, for madam, give me leave to say (making no compare) that the Graces at her birth did agree to make her absolute. I having soared so high as the sun hath half melted my feathers, I fear with Icarus to fall into the ocean of endless miseries, for be her disdain never so great, yet my Modern spelling transcript copyright 2007 Nina Green All Rights Reserved ALCIDA; GREENE’S METAMORPHOSIS 43 ________________________________________________________________________
desire will never be less; scorn she I should look so high, affection will not bate an ounce of his main, but seeing the dice be in his hands, will throw at all. But madam, so far I am out of conceit to have but one favour at her hands, as I pass every day and hour in as deep perplexed estate as the ghosts grieved by the infernal furies.
And with this the water stood in his eyes, which Marpesia, not able to brook, began to
I will not, Eurimachus, be inquisitive of your mistress’ name sith you have yielded a reason to conceal it, but for your loves that are lodged so high, fear not, man; the blacksmith dared to covet fair Venus; the little sparrow pecketh sometimes wheat [sic for ‘where’?] the eagle taketh stand, and the little mouse feedeth where the elephant hath eaten hay. Love as soon stoopeth to visit a poor cottage as a palace. To dare, I tell thee, Eurimachus, in love is the first principle, and Helen told Paris: Nemo succenset amanti.
Thou must then to Paphos, and not use bashfulness in Venus’ temple; sacrifices serve at her altars as a thing unfit for lovers, and be she as high of degree as any in Taprobane, court her, Eurimachus, and if thou miss, it is but the hap that lovers have.
As she should have prosecuted her talk, her brother, who was stalking to kill a deer, came by, and espying them at so private and familiar chat, frowned, commanding Eurimachus (as half in anger) to get him home; he, leaving his sport, accompanied my daughter to the court.
These lovers thus parted, were not long ere they met, where Eurimachus, following the precepts of Marpesia, began very boldly to give the assault, she very faintly, for fashion’ sake, making a woman’s resistance, but the battery was so freshly renewed that Marpesia yielded, and there they plighted a constant promise of their loves, vowing such faith and loyalty as the troth of two lovers’ hearts might afford.
In this happy content they lived a long while, till Marpesia, blabbing the contract out to a gentleman of the court, it came to her brother’s and her mother’s ear, who taking the matter grievously, had her strictly in examination. Marpesia confessed her loves, and maintained them. On the contrary side, they persuaded with promises and threatened with bitter speeches, but in vain, for Marpesia was resolved, and told for a flat conclusion Eurimachus was the man, and none but he, whereupon my son, seeing no means could prevail to remove her affection, he thought by taking away the cause to raze out the effects, and therefore he sent for Eurimachus, whom after he had nipped up with bitter taunts, he banished from the court.
This being grievous to the two lovers, yet the assurance of each other’ constancy, and the hope in time to have the prince reconciled, mitigated some part of their martyrdom, and Marpesia, to show to the world she was not fleeting, whatsoever her friends said, discovered the grief she conceived by his absence openly, for she went apparelled in mourning attire. Well, Eurimachus thus banished, went home to his father, who for fear of ye prince durst not entertain him, which unkindness had doubled his grief, that he fell almost frantic, and began to leave the company of men as a flat Timonist, in which Modern spelling transcript copyright 2007 Nina Green All Rights Reserved ALCIDA; GREENE’S METAMORPHOSIS 44 ________________________________________________________________________
humour, meeting with the gentleman that bewrayed their loves, he fought with him and slew him, and buried him so secretly as the care of his own life could devise.
Well, Cleander was missed, but hear of him they could not. Posts were sent out, messengers through all Taprobane, but no news, so that divers did descant diversly of his departure. Some said he was, upon secret displeasure between him and the prince, passed out of the land; others that he was slain by thieves; some that he was devoured by wild beasts. Thus debating of his absence, he was generally lamented of all the court.
But leaving the supposition of his death, again to Marpesia, who taking the exile of Eurimachus to her heart, began to grow into great and extreme passions, and for grief of the mind, to bodily disease, that she fell into a quartan, which so tormented her as the physicians said there was no hope of life nor no art to cure her disease unless her mind were at quiet, whereupon her brother, fearing his sister’s life, recalled home Eurimachus, admitted him into great favour, and gave free grant of his goodwill to their marriage.
Upon this, Marpesia growing into a content, in short time amended. After she had recovered her health, she daily used the company of Eurimachus very privately and familiarly, but she found him not the man he was before, for before he was exiled, no man more pleasant nor more merrily conceited, now none more melancholy nor fuller of dumps, uttering far-fetched sighs and uncertain answers, so that it discovered a mind greatly perplexed. Marpesia noting this, being on a day all alone with Eurimachus in his chamber, she sought with fair entreaties and sweet dalliance to wring out the cause of his sorrows, protesting, if she could, even with the hazard of her life redress it; if not, to participate in grief some part of his distress.
Eurimachus, that loved her more than his life, although he knew women’s tongues were like the leaves of the aspe [sic for ‘aspen’?] tree, yet thinking her to be wise, after a multitude of mortal sighs he discoursed unto her how he had slain Cleander, and that the remembrance of his death bred this horror in his conscience.
Marpesia, hearing this, made light of the matter to comfort Eurimachus, promising and protesting to keep it as secret as hitherto she had been constant, but she no sooner was parted from her best-beloved but she was with child of this late and dangerous news, labouring with great pains till she might utter it to her gossips, where we may note, son, (I speak against myself) that the closets of women’s thoughts are ever open, that the depth of their heart hath a string that stretcheth to the tongue’s end, that with Semele they conceive and bring forth oft before their time, which Marpesia tried true, for sitting one day solitary with a lady in the court called Celia, she fetched many pinching sighs, which Celia marking, desired her to tell her the cause of that late conceived grief, as to a friend in whose secrecy she might repose her life. Marpesia made it somewhat coy and chary a great while, insomuch that Celia began to long, and therefore urged her extremely.
Marpesia could keep no longer, and therefore using this preamble, began to play the blab:
If I did not, Madam Celia, take you for my second self, and think you to be wise and secret, I would not reveal a matter of so great importance, which toucheth me as much as Modern spelling transcript copyright 2007 Nina Green All Rights Reserved ALCIDA; GREENE’S METAMORPHOSIS 45 ________________________________________________________________________
my life to conceal. Women, you know, having anything in their stomach, long while they have discoursed it to some friend. Taking you therefore for my chiefest, and hoping all shall be trodden underfoot, know, madam, that Eurimachus hath slain Cleander, and that is the cause that makes him thus melancholy.
Marry, God forbid, quoth Celia.
It is true, madam, quoth Marpesia, and therefore let whatsoever I have said be buried in this place.
With that I came into place, and they broke off their talk. Celia, longing to be out of the chamber that she might participate this news to her gossips, as soon as opportunity gave her leave went abroad, & meeting by chance another gentlewoman of the court, calling her aside, told her if she would be secret and swear not to reveal it to anyone, she would tell her strange news. The other promising, with great protestation, to be as close as a woman could be, Celia told her how Eurimachus was the man that slew Cleander, and that her author was Marpesia.
They were no sooner parted but this news was told to another, that before night it was through the whole court that Eurimachus had slain Cleander, whereupon the prince could do no less (thought very loath for his sister’s sake) but cause him to be apprehended and cast into prison, then, assembling his lords and commons, produced Eurimachus, who after strict examination was found guilty, the greatest witness against him being the confession of Marpesia. The verdict given up, the prince could not but give judgment, which was that within one month, in the place where he killed Cleander, he should be beheaded. Sentence given, Eurimachus took his misfortune with patience. News coming to Marpesia of this tragical event, she fell down in a sound, and grew into bitter passions, but in vain.
My son, to show how he loved Eurimachus, caused a carver to cut out this sumptuous tomb in this form, wherein after his death he resolved to bury him, so to grace him with extraordinary honour. All things provided, and the day of his death being come, Eurimachus, clad all in black velvet, came forth, mourning in his apparel, but merry in his countenance, as one that sorrowed for the fault, but was not daunted with death. After him followed my son, the earls, lords and barons of the land, all in black, and I and my daughter Marpesia and the ladies of the court covered with sable veils, attending on this condemned Eurimachus. Being come to the place, the deathsman having laid the block,
and holding the axe in his hand, Eurimachus, before his death, uttered these words:
Lords of Taprobane, here I slew Cleander, & here must I offer my blood as amends to the soul of the dead gentleman, which I repent with more sorrow than I performed the deed with fury. The cause of his death and my misfortune is all one, he slain for bewraying my loves, I executed for discovering his death, but infortunate I, to bewray so private a matter to the secrecy of a woman, whose hearts are full of holes, apt to receive but not to retain, whose tongues are trumpets that set open to the world what they know. Foolish is he that commits his life into their laps, or ties his thoughts in their beauties. Such is the Modern spelling transcript copyright 2007 Nina Green All Rights Reserved ALCIDA; GREENE’S METAMORPHOSIS 46 ________________________________________________________________________
nature of these fondlings that they cannot cover their own scapes, nor strain a veil over their greatest faults, their hearts are so great, their thoughts so many, their wits so fickle, and their tongues so slippery. The heart and the tongue are relatives, and if time serves they cannot paint out their passions in talk, yet they will discover them with their looks, so that if they be not blabs in their tongues, they will be tattlers with eyes. The gods have greatly revenged this fault in men, letting it overslip in women because it is so common amongst that sex. Mercury for his babbling turned Battus to an index or touchstone, whose nature is to bewray any metal it toucheth, and Tantalus, for his little secrecy in bewraying that Proserpina ate a grain of pomegranate, is placed in hell, up to the chin in water, with continual thirst, and hath apples hang over his head, with extreme hunger,
whereof the poet saith:
Quaerit aquas in aquis, & poma fugatia captat Tantalus: hoc ille garrula lingua dedit.
But why do I delay death with these frivolous discourses of women? Suffice they are blabs.
And so turning to the deathsman, laying his neck on the block, his head was smitten off.
The execution done, his death was lamented, and his body solemnly entombed as thou seest, all exclaiming against my daughter Marpesia’s little secrecy, who in penance of her fault used once a day to visit the tomb, and here to her lover[‘s] soul sacrifice many sighs and tears. At length Venus taking pity of her plaints, thinking to ease her of her sorrow and to inflict a gentle and meek revenge, turned her into this rose-tree.
As Alcida had uttered these words, there was a ship within ken, whose streamers hanging out, I judged by their colours they were of Alexandria, whereupon I waved them to leeward. The mariners (more than ordinary courteous) struck sails, & sent their cockboats ashore. The shippers were no sooner aland but I knew them to be of Alexandria, and for all my misfortunes, basely attired as I was, the poor knaves called me to remembrance, and their reverence done, asked if I would to Alexandria. I told them it was mine intent, whereupon, taking leave of my old hostess, the Countess Alcida, with many thanks for my courteous entertainment, she very loath to leave me, went with the mariners towards the boat.
The poor lady, seeing herself alone, fell to her wonted tears, which the gods taking pity on, before my face turned to a fountain. I, wondering at their deities, entered the boat, and went to the ship, where welcomed and reverenced of the master and the rest, hoising up all our sails, we made for Alexandria.
Modern spelling transcript copyright 2007 Nina Green All Rights Reserved