«By R.G. Omne tulit punctum, qui miscuit dulci. London Printed by George Purslowe Modern spelling transcript copyright 2007 Nina Green All Rights ...»
I? quoth Fiordespine, filling her ivory brows full of shrewish wrinkles. I hope the young Lord Telegonus knows what suitors I have shaken off, and therefore, not inferring comparisons because they be odious, I may give him his answer with an etc. There are more maids than Malkin, and more birds for the falcon to perch with than the eagle. The lion is a bloody beast for that he knoweth his strength. I will not conclude, but Lord Telegonus, if I be the woman you mean, cease from your suit, for in faith so well I do love you that you cannot more displease me than in seeking to please me, for if I knew not [sic for ‘no’] other cause to mislike, yet this might suffice, that I cannot love.
At this flat and peremptory answer Telegonus sat nipped on the pate like to them which taste of the fish mugra, whose operation maketh them for a time senseless, which Eriphila espying, thinking to jump even with the gentleman, pitying his passions in that
Fiordespine was so coy to so courteous a youth, said:
You may see now, Telegonus, that Venus hath her frowns as she hath smiles, that Cupid hath arrows headed with lead to procure disdain as well as with gold to increase love.
Hear me, that am a virgin, as dutiful to Vesta as reverent to Venus. The pains that lovers take for hunting after loss, if their minds were not confirmed with some secret enchantment, were able to keep their fancies from being inflamed, or else to cool desire already kindled. For the days are spent in thoughts and the nights in dreams, both in danger either of beguiling us of that we had, or promising us that we have not, the head fraught with fantasies, fired with jealousy, troubled with both. Yea, so many inconveniences wait upon love as to reckon them all were infinite, and to taste but one of them were intolerable, being always begun with grief, continued with sorrow, and ended Modern spelling transcript copyright 2007 Nina Green All Rights Reserved ALCIDA; GREENE’S METAMORPHOSIS 18 ________________________________________________________________________
with death, for it is a pain shadowed with pleasure, and a joy stuffed with misery. So that I conclude that as none ever saw the altars of Busiris [sic?] without sorrow, nor banqueted with Phoebus [sic for Pholus?] without surfeiting, so as impossible it is to deal with Cupid and not either to gain speedy death or endless danger.
As I [sic for ‘Telegonus’] was ready in defence of love to make reply, there came a little page from their lady mother to call them home to dinner, whereupon they all rose, and
would have taken their leave, but boldly I stood to my tackling, and told them:
Ladies, you pass not so, for construe my meaning how you please, or accept of my repay [sic for ‘company’?] how you list, I will not be so discourteous to leave you so slenderly guarded as in the guard of this little page.
And with that I conducted them to the court and there with a loath to depart, took my leave, having a courteous farewell of all but Fiordespine, who fermning [sic for ‘frowning’?] like Juno in her majesty, gave me a niggardly A dio with a nod, which notwithstanding, love commanded me to take as a prodigal courtesy.
Well, Telegonus thus left alone, fearing too much solitariness might breed intemperate passions, went home musing on the strange qualities of his mistress, where casting himself on his bed he began to consider that as she was beautiful, so she was proud, and that her exterior favour was blemished with an interior disdain, that Venus was as much despised for her lightness as honoured for her deity, that the black violet was more esteemed for her smell than the lily for her whiteness, that the darkest topaz was held more precious than the brightest crystal, and women are to be measured by their virtues, and not by their beauty.
And why dost thou urge this, Telegonus? For that she hath not fawned on thee at the first meeting, given over the fort at the first assault, and consented to thy love at the first motion? Wouldst thou have her so light, fond youth, as to stoop to the lure at the first call? Helena was wanton, yet was she long in wooing; Paris courted her before he caught her. If a straggler made it strange, blame not her that is virtuous and a virgin if she be somewhat coy.
Resting in this hope, he somewhat appeased his passions, driving away his melancholy and despairing humours by setting his rest on this point. But love, that is impatient, was in the day his companion, and in the night his pillow; Venus commanded her son to be beaten with roses, which as they are fair coloured, and savour sweet, so they are full of pricks, and pierce the skin. Love thus hammering in the head of Telegonus, he was doubtful what to do, or how best to prosecute his purpose. To repair to the court and there to court her was to attempt an adventure very perilous and half impossible; to seek means to parle with her was to offer blank papers to Venus. Therefore he resolved to write unto her, and thereupon entering into his study he took pen and paper, and sent unto
her in this effect:
Telegonus to Fiordespine, health.
Modern spelling transcript copyright 2007 Nina Green All Rights Reserved ALCIDA; GREENE’S METAMORPHOSIS 19 ________________________________________________________________________
They, honourable Fiordespine, that are envenomed with the hydaspis, if they presently discover not their pain, perish; such as are stung with the tarantula must have music at their ear before the poison come at their heart. Venus’ temple is never shut, Cupid’s register ever unfolded, and the secrets of love, if they be concealed, breed either danger by silence, or death by secrecy. I speak this by experience, for the deep impression of your divine beauty, co-united with the admiration of your excellent virtues, have printed such a character in my thoughts since first I saw your sweet self, as either must be confirmed with your mercy or I shall be confounded with misery. Where Cupid striketh, there no salves can prevail; where love serveth his writ of command, there a supersedeas of reason is of no avail.
Beauty forceth the gods, and therefore may fetter men. But perhaps your Honour will say that the fox is no fere for the lion, none [sic for ‘nor’?] so mean a man as I worthy to gaze at so glorious a personage, so that I may rather be counted impudent than passionate in attempting that which so many my betters have missed. To this objection give me leave to say that Venus respecteth not the robes, but the mind; [-not the parentage, but the mind]; not the parentage, but the person; not the wealth, but the heart;
not the honours, but the loyalty. If then faith in fancy, not possessions, are to be respected, I hope, as nature by her secret judgment hath endued all creatures with some perfect quality where want breeds mislike, as the mole, deprived of sight, hath a wonderful hearing; the hare, being very fearful, is most swift; the fish, having no ears, hath most clear eyes; so I, of parentage mean, of wealth little, of wit less, yet have given me by nature such a loyal heart as I hope the perfection of the one shall supply the want of the other, coveting not to rule as a husband, but to live dutiful and loving ever to the Lady Fiordespine.
Blame me not, madam, if I plead with my pen, for ever since I fell into the labyrinth of your looks, I have felt in my heart, as in a little work [sic for ‘world’?] all the passions and contrarieties of the elements, for mine eyes (I call the gods to witness I speak without feigning) almost turn into water through the continual streams of tears, and my sighs fly as wind in the air proceeding from the flaming fire which is kindled in my heart, as that without the drops of your pity it will turn my body into dry earth and cinders.
Then, Fiordespine, sith your beauty hath given the wound, let it like Achilles’ spear cure the same sore; covet not to set out the trophy of disdain where already you are [sic for ‘have’?] conquered. Strive not for life, sith you have any [sic for ‘my’?] liberty, but fetch water from the fountain of Alcidalie, simples from the hill Erecius [sic?], conserves from the temple of Venus to appease that passion that otherwise cannot be cured. Render but love for love; yea, madam, such love as time shall never blot out with oblivion, neither any sinister fortune diminish, so that if the world wondered at the loyalty of Petrarch to his Laura, or of Amadis to his Gryance [sic for ‘Oriana’?], they shall have more cause to marvel at the love of Telegonus to Fiordespine, whose life and death standeth in your answer, which I hope shall be such as belongeth to the desert of my love and the excellency of your beauty.
Modern spelling transcript copyright 2007 Nina Green All Rights Reserved ALCIDA; GREENE’S METAMORPHOSIS 20 ________________________________________________________________________
Yours, if he be Telegonus of Taprobane.
Telegonus, having finished this letter, caused it to be delivered to Fiordespine with great trustiness and secrecy, who receiving it with a frowning look, as half suspecting the contents, yet unripped the seals and read it, which when she had throughly perused, drave her into such a fury that she in a rage rent it and flung it into the fire, saying: There end his letters and his loves. But as the sea once hoised with a gale calmeth not till it hath passed with a storm, as the stone pyrites once set on fire burneth in the water, so a woman’s stomach once stirred ceaseth not to be discontent till it be glutted with revenge.
For Fiordespine, not satisfied with tearing the letter of Telegonus, could take no rest till either she had breathed out some hard speeches with her tongue or set down bitter taunts with her pen. Seeing therefore no fit means for the one, she stepped in great choler to her
standish, and wrote to him thus satirically:
Fiordespine to Telegonus.
Though Vulcan with his polt-foot presumed to covet the queen of beauty, though Ixion adventured to attempt the love of Juno, yet, Lord Telegonus, no offence to your person, these paltering precedents are no conclusions that person unworthy should disgrace by their impudent and worthless motions the honours of excellent personages. How I am grieved at your letters guess by my sharp reply; how I like of your lines, examine in my writing; how I disdain them both, time shall put you in evidence. My beauty, you say, hath made an impression in your heart; a man of soft metal, that so soon takes the stamp;
a lover of great conceit, that is fixed at the first look. But since it is your gentle nature to be so full of fancy, I would have the gods to make you either Venus’ chamberlain or Cupid’s chaplain, or both, because being so amorous you should not want offices. You forestalled me in red letters with an objection that many your betters have courted me and missed; then, good lovely Lord Telegonus, think not, if I delighted not to gaze at stars, that I mean to stumble at stones, if I vouchsafe not to smell to most fragrant flowers, that I mean to make me a nosegay of weeds. If honourable princes offered to Venus and could not be heard, and sought for my favours but found them not, [-I think] suppose the rest, for I list not to be tedious, lest I should weary myself, and grace thee with writing so much. For thy loyalty, keep it for thy equals; for thy love, lay it not on me, lest as I disdain thy person, so I revenge thy presumption. And so my hand was weary, my eyes sleepy, and my heart full of contempt, and with that I went to bed.
Her own, Fiordespine of Taprobane.
This letter was no sooner sealed but (as women are impatient of delays) it was conuied [sic for ‘conveyed’] with all possible speed to Telegonus, who receiving it, kissed and rekissed it, as coming from the hands of his goddess, changing colour oft, as one between fear and hope. At last unripping the seals, he read such a corrosive as cut him to the heart. The aspis stingeth not more deadly, the serpent porphirius envenometh not more deeply, neither did ever the sight of Medusa’s head more amaze a man that the contents of this satirical letter did Telegonus. Yea, it drave the poor gentleman into so many passions that he became half lunatic, as if he had eaten of the seed of sputanta, that Modern spelling transcript copyright 2007 Nina Green All Rights Reserved ALCIDA; GREENE’S METAMORPHOSIS 21 ________________________________________________________________________
troubleth the brain with giddiness. He fell to exclaim against Venus and her deity, blaming the gods that would suffer such a giglet to remain in heaven, repeating her lawless loves with Adonis and her scapes with Mavors. Cupid he called a boy, a fondling, blind in his aim, and accursed in hitting the mark; rageth against women, saying they were merciless, cruel, unjust, deceitful, like unto the crocodile in tears; in sight they seem to be carnations; in smelling, roses; in hearing, sirens; in taste, wormwood; in touching, nettles. Thus he railed and raged, casting himself on his bed, and there forging a thousand perplexed passions, one while accusing love as a lunacy, and then again saying beauty was divine, and the richest jewel that ever nature bestowed upon men.
Lingering a day or two in this frenzy, he thought not to give over the castle at the first repulse, or to prove so lewd a huntsman as to give over the chase at the first default.
Therefore he once again armed himself with his pen and paper, and gave a fresh alarum
to his friendly foe in this manner:
Telegonus to fair Fiordespine of Taprobane.
Honourable lady, the physicians say salves seldom help an once long-suffered sore, and too late it is to plant engines to batter when the walls are already broken. Autumn showers are ever out of season, and too late it is to dislodge love out of the breast when it hath infected every part of the body. The sore, when the festering fistula hath by long continuance made the sound flesh rotten, can neither with lenitive plasters nor cutting corrosives be cured; so love craveth but only time to bring the body and mind to ruin.