«By R.G. Omne tulit punctum, qui miscuit dulci. London Printed by George Purslowe Modern spelling transcript copyright 2007 Nina Green All Rights ...»
Cupid, seeing how his scholars flocked from his school, thought he would retain some one with whom to dally, and therefore pulling forth a fierce inflamed arrow, he strook the son of a nobleman here in Taprobane to the quick, that he of all the rest remained fast snared in her beauty. His name was Telegonus, a youth every way equal to Fiordespine except in parentage, and yet he was no meaner man than the son of an earl. This Telegonus (omitting his proportion and qualities, for that it shall suffice to say they were excellent), having had a sight of Fiordespine, stood as the deer at the gaze, swallowing up greedily the envenomed hook that Venus so subtilly had baited for him, for after the idea of her person and perfection had made a deep impression on his mind, and that he had passed three or four days in ruminating her excellency, and debated in his bed with many lewtene [sic for ‘a broken’?] slumber how sweet a saint she was, he fell from liking to so deep love that nothing but death did rase it out.
And [sic for ‘As’?] thus he marched under the standard of fancy, being but a freshwater soldier, to abide the alarums of affection, feeling a restless passion that fretted his mind as the caterpillar the fruit, he could not tell on which ear to sleep, but builded castles in the air and cast beyond the moon. First he began to consider with himself how many brave noblemen of sundry islands, rich in possessions, honourable in parentage, in qualities rare, in property excellent, had sought her love and yet missed. When he had made comparison between himself and them, despair began with dark persuasions to dissuade him from attempting such high loves, knowing that Aquila non capit muscas Modern spelling transcript copyright 2007 Nina Green All Rights Reserved ALCIDA; GREENE’S METAMORPHOSIS 14 ________________________________________________________________________
[=The eagle catcheth not flies], ladies of great beauty look not at mean personages, that Venus frowned on the smith with a wrinkle on her forehead when she smiled on Mars with a dimple on her chin.
These premises considered, poor Telegonus sad [sic for ‘sat’?] nipped on the pate with these new thoughts, resembling the melancholy disposition of Troilus for the inconstancy of Cressida, yet after he had mused awhile, and passed over a few dreaming dumps, hope, clad in purple-suited robes, told him that Cupid had but one string to his bow, one head to one arrow, that Venus’ greatest number was an unity, how the heart could harbour but one fancy, and one woman be wedded but to one man. Therefore though they missed, as either infortunate or crossed by some contrary influence, sith love’s fee simple was registered in the court of their destinies, there was no cause of his despair, but that he might be the man that should enjoy Fiordespine and set up the trophy of love, maugre all the sinister determinations of Cupid. Floating thus between despair and hope, he passed over three or four days, melancholy and passionate, taking his only content in being solitary, so that at last, finding himself all alone, feeling the fire too great to smother in
secrecy, he burst forth into these flames:
Ah, Telegonus, miserable in thy life and infortunate in thy loves, is thy youth blasted with fancy, or the prime of thy years daunted with affection? Canst thou no sooner see Paphos but thou must provide sacrifice for Venus? Canst thou not hear the sirens sing but thou must bend thy course to their music? May not beauty kindle a fire but thou must straight step to the flame? Wilt thou dally with the fly in the candle, sport with the salamander in the heat of Aetna, and with Troilus hazard at that which will breed thy harm? Knowest thou not love is a frantic frenzy that so enforceth the minds of men that under the taste of nurture they are poisoned with the water of Styx, so as he which was charmed by Laon [sic?] sought still to hear her enchantment, or as the deer, after he once browseth on the tamarisk, he will not be driven away until he dieth, so lovers have their senseless senses so besotted with the power of this lascivious god they count not themselves happy but in their supposed unhappiness, being at most ease in disquiet, at greatest rest when they are most troubled, seeking contentation in care, delight in misery, and hunting greedily after that which always breedeth endless harm.
Yea, but Telegonus, beauty is therefore to be obeyed because it is beauty, and love to be feared of men because it is honoured of the gods. Dare reason abide the brunt when beauty bids the battle; can wisdom win the field where love is captain? No, no, love is without law, and therefore above all law, honoured in heaven, feared in earth, and a very terror to the infernal ghosts. Bow then unto that, Telegonus, whereunto lawless necessity doth bend; be not so fond as with Zeuxes [sic for ‘Xerxes’?] to bind the ocean in fetters;
fight not with the Rascians against the wind; bark not with the wolves against the moon;
seek not with them of Scyros [=sic for ‘Scyrum’?] to shoot against the stars; strive not with Thesides [sic?] against Venus, for love bring on lewd [sic for ‘being once allowed’?] looks to command by power, and to be obeyed by force.
Truth, Telegonus, for Juno strove but once with Venus, and he [sic for ‘she’] was vanquished; Jupiter resisted Cupid, but he went by the worst. It is hard for thee with the Modern spelling transcript copyright 2007 Nina Green All Rights Reserved ALCIDA; GREENE’S METAMORPHOSIS 15 ________________________________________________________________________
crab to strive against the stream, or to wrestle with a fresh wound, lest thou make the sore more dangerous. Well, Telegonus, what of all this prate? Thou dost love. Thou honourest beauty as supernatural; thou saist Venus amongst all the goddesses is most mighty, that there is no island like Paphos, no bird like the doves, no god like Cupid.
What of this? But why dost thou love no meaner woman that Fiordespine, the daughter of the prince, the fairest in Taprobane? Ah, Telegonus, derogate not from her beauty -the fairest in the world. Unhappy man, in recounting her beauty, in reckoning her perfections thou dost emblaze thine own misfortunes, for the more she is excellent, the less will be her love, and the greater her disdain. Can the eagle and the blind [sic for ‘bird’?] ossifrage build in one tree? Will the falcon & the dove covet to sit on one perch? Will the ape and the bear be tied in one tether? Will the fox and the lamb be in one den? Or Fiordespine, who thinketh herself fairer than Venus, stoop to the lure of one so base as I? No, for the more beauty, the more pride, and the more pride, the more preciseness. None must play on Ormenes’ [sic?] harp but Orpheus, none rule Lucifer but Phoebus, none wear Venus in a tablet but Alexander, nor none enjoy Fiordespine but such a one as far exceedeth thee in person and personage.
Tush, Telegonus, enter not into these doubts. Sappho, a queen, loved Phao, a ferryman, she beautiful and wise, he poor and servile; she holding a sceptre, he an oar; the one to govern, the other to labour. Angelica forsook divers kings and took Medon [sic for Medoro?], a mercenary soldier. Love, Telegonus, hath no lack. Cupid shooteth his shafts at randon; Venus as soon looketh at the sun as at a star. Love feareth a prince as soon as a peasant, and fancy hath no respect of persons. Then, Telegonus, hope the best.
Audaces fortuna adiuuat: Love and fortune favoureth them that are resolute. The stone sandastra is not so hard but being heat in the fire it may be wrought, nor ivory so tough but seasoned with zathe [sic?] it may be engraven. The gates of Venus’ temple are but half shut. Cupid is a churl, and peremptory, yet to be entreated. Women are wilful, but in some means they may be won, were she as full of beauty as Venus, or as great in majesty as Juno. Hope, then, the best, and be bold, for cowards are admitted to put in no plea at the bar of love.
Telegonus having by uttering these passions disburdened some part of his pains, and yet not in such sort but his temples were restless, his grief much, his content none at all, his care in his sleep incessant, his mind melancholy, so that his only delight was to be in dumps, insomuch that he gadded solitary up and down the groves as a satyr enamoured of some country nymph. Cupid, seeing his art did well, thought to show him some sport, for on a day as he walked, contemplating the beauty of Fiordespine, being sore athirst with inward sorrow, he went to a fountain hard by to cool his heat, where he found his heart set on fire with a great flame, for there he espied Fiordespine and her other two sisters sitting solacing themselves about the spring, which sudden sight so appalled his senses as if he had been appointed a new judge to the three goddesses in the valley of Ida. Yet seeing before his eyes the mistress of his thoughts, and the saint unto whom he did owe his devotion, he began to take heart at grass, thinking that by this fit opportunity love and fortune began to favour his enterprise. Willing therefore not to omit so good an occasion,
he saluted them in this sort:
Modern spelling transcript copyright 2007 Nina Green All Rights Reserved ALCIDA; GREENE’S METAMORPHOSIS 16 ________________________________________________________________________
Muse not, fair creatures, if I stand in a maze, sith the sight of your surpassing beauties makes me doubt whether I should honour you as earthly ladies, or adore you as heavenly goddesses, for no doubt Paris never saw fairer in Ida. But now noting with deep insight the figure of your divine faces, I acknowledge your honours to be sisters to our prince, whom I reverence as allied to my sovereign, and offer my service as a servant ever devoted to such fair and excellent saints.
The ladies, hearing this strange and unlooked for salutation, began to smile, but Fiordespine frowning, as half angry he should presume into her presence, with a coy
countenance returned him this answer:
If, Sir Telegonus, for so I suppose is your name, your eyesight be so bad, perhaps with peering too long on your books, or yourself so far beside your senses as to take us for nymphs, I would wish you to read less, or to provide you a good physician, else shall you not judge colours for me, and yet [-since] I would you should know we count our penny good silver, and think our faces, if not excellent, yet such as may boot [sic for ‘brook’?] compare.
Telegonus, taking opportunity by the forehead, and thinking to strike the iron at this heat,
Maiden [sic for ‘madam’?], he might be thought either blind or envious that would make a doubt of Venus’ beauty, and he be deemed either frantic or foolish that cannot see and say, as you are superior to most, so you are inferior to none. Pardon, madam, if my censure be particular, I mean of your sweet self, whose favours I have ever loved and admired, though unworthy to set my fancy on such glorious excellency.
Fiordespine, hearing herself thus praised, was not greatly displeased, yet passed she over what was spoken as though her ears had been stopped with Ulysses, but Eriphila, the second, who was as wise as her sister was beautiful, desired Telegonus to rest him by them on the grass, and that they would, at their departure, ask him as a guard to the court.
Telegonus, as glad of the command as if he had been willed by the gods to have been chamberlain to Venus, sat down with a mind full of passions, having his eye fixed still on the beauty of Fiordespine, which Eriphila espying, thinking to be pleasant with
Telegonus, she began thus to prattle:
Your late passionate speech, Telegonus, to my sister Fiordespine, makes me think that Venus is your chief goddess, and that love is the lord whose livery your [sic for ‘you’] wear. If it be so, neighbour, take heed, for fancy is a shrew; many like that are never loved. Apollo may cry long after Daphne before she hear him, and Troilus may stand long enough on the walls before Cressida wave her glove for a Salve. I speak Telegonus, against ourselves. Take heed; we be coy and wily. We with our looks can change men, though [sic for ‘that’?] Venus will wear the target and Mars the distaff, Omphalo [sic for ‘Omphale’] handle the club and Hercules the spindle, Alexander must crouch, and Campaspe look coy. Women will rule in loves, howsoever men be lofty in courage.
Modern spelling transcript copyright 2007 Nina Green All Rights Reserved ALCIDA; GREENE’S METAMORPHOSIS 17 ________________________________________________________________________
Indeed, madam, quoth Telegonus, him whom no mortal creature can control, love can command; no dignity is able to resist Cupid’s deity. Achilles was made by his mother Thetis invulnerable, yet wounded by fancy; Hercules, not to be conquered of any, yet quickly conquered by affection; Mars able to resist Jupiter, but not to withstand beauty.
Love is not only kindled in the eye by desire, but engraven in the mind by destiny, which neither reason can eschew nor wisdom expel. The more pity, I confess, madam, for poor men, and the greater impiety in the gods, that in giving love free liberty, they grant him a lawless privilege, but since Cupid will be obeyed, I am contented to bow, especially seeing I have chanced to set my affection to so excellent a creature.
And who might that be, I pray you, quoth Fiordespine (taking the matter in dudgeon that Telegonus should make report), that is of such great excellency? Dwelleth she in Taprobane?
In Taprobane, madam, replied Telegonus, but with such a peal of sighs bewraying his
loves in silence that Eriphila, smiling, said:
I see fire cannot be hidden in the flax without smoke, nor musk in the bosom without smell, nor love in the breast without suspicion. I perceive, in faith, neighbour, by your lips what lettuce you love. The saint that you account of such excellency, whose perfection hath so snared your senses, is my sister Fiordespine.