«By R.G. Omne tulit punctum, qui miscuit dulci. London Printed by George Purslowe Modern spelling transcript copyright 2007 Nina Green All Rights ...»
Aye, but, sir, quoth Marpesia, from whence will you draw your arguments to prove me in majesty like Juno? You dare not say from reason, in regard that the persons are without compare, and from love if you argue, you prove yourself double-faced like Janus, and double-hearted like Jupiter, to have two strings to a bow and two loves at one time.
Yes, madam, quoth Meribates, my common place in this enthymema shall be also from love, for in affecting so dearly your sister, I cannot but deeply honour you, if not in love as my paramour, yet in friendly affection as her sister.
You harp still, answered Eriphila, on one string, which is love; if you be in earnest, look for a frown, as I gave you a favour. Believe me, Lord Meribates, there is nothing easier than to fall in love, nor harder than to chance well. Therefore omitting such serious matters as fancy, for that I am vowed to Vesta, tell me, will you provide you, as me, of a nosegay? And if you be so minded, tell me, of all flowers which like you best?
Modern spelling transcript copyright 2007 Nina Green All Rights Reserved ALCIDA; GREENE’S METAMORPHOSIS 30 ________________________________________________________________________
Those, madam, that best fit with my present humour.
And what be they? quoth Marpesia.
Penses, madam, answered Meribates, for it is a pretty flower, and of sundry colours, feeding the eye with variety, which is the chiefest pleasure to the sight; especially I like it for the agnonimation [sic for ‘agnomination’], in that the word, coming from France, signifies fancies. Now how I am contented with fancies, I would you could as well see as I feel. One while imagination presents unto me the idea of my mistress’ face, which I allow with a fancy; another while a thought of her beauty wakens my senses, which I conform [sic?] with a fancy; straight her virtue says she is most excellent, which I gratify with a fancy; then, to seal up what may be said, her care [sic?] and supernatural wit says her conceits are divine, which, avowed with a catalogue of solemn oaths, I set down as a maxim with a fancy. Thus are my thoughts fed with fancies, and to be brief, my life is lengthened out by fancies. Then, madam, blame me not if I like penses well, and think nothing if I set no other flower in my nosegay.
And truly, Lord Meribates, answered Eriphila, you and I are of one mind, I mean in choice of flowers, but not, sir, as it is called a pense, or as you descant, a fancy, but as we homely housewives call it heart‘s-ease, I banish (as with a charm) the frowns of fortune and the follies of love, for the party that is touched by the inconstancy of the one or the vanity of the other cannot boast he meaneth heart’s-ease. Seeing then it breedeth such rest unto the mind, and such quiet to the thoughts, we will both wear this flower as a favour, you as a pense, but I as a heart’s-ease.
As these two lovers were thus merrily descanting upon flowers, I came into the garden and found this young lord and my daughter at chat. No whit displeased, in that I knew the honour of his house, his great possessions and parentage, I winked at their loves, and after a little ordinary parle called them in to dinner, where there was such banding [=bandying] of glances and amorous looks between Meribates and Eriphila as a blind man might have seen the cripples halt.
Well, dinner being ended, as Meribates entered into the consideration of Eriphila’s wit, so she more impatient, as the horse that never having felt the spur runneth at the first prick, so she, never having felt before the like flame, was more hot and less weary than if before she had been scorched with affection. Now she called him in her thoughts beautiful, saying that the fairest and greenest herbs have the most secret operation. She said he was well-proportioned, and so the reddest margarites had the most precious virtues; that he was virtuous, and then she called to mind the old verse: Gratior est pulchro veniens e corpore virtus [=That virtue is the more lovely that comes from a beautiful body]. But when she weighed his wise and witty arguments that he uttered in the garden, how they not only savoured of wit but of mirth, then Omnia vincit amor, & nos cedamus amori [=Love conquers all things; let us too surrender to love], she could not but in her conscience swear that he should be the saint at whose shrine she would offer up her devotion.
Modern spelling transcript copyright 2007 Nina Green All Rights Reserved ALCIDA; GREENE’S METAMORPHOSIS 31 ________________________________________________________________________
These two lovers thus living the more happily for that they rested upon hope, it pleased my son and me to walk abroad into a park hard adjoining to the court, and with us my two daughters, and forget the strangers [sic for ‘stranger’?] we could not. Pacing thus abroad to take the air, when we were in the green meads, Meribates and my daughter had singled themselves, and he taking time while she proffered opportunity, began boldly to
court her in this manner:
It is an old saying, madam, holden as an oracle, that in many words lieth mistrust, and in painted speech deceit is often covered. Therefore I, sweet mistress, whose acquaintance with you is small and credit less, as being a stranger, dare use no circumstance for fear of mistrust, neither can I tell in what respect to bring a sufficient trial of my goodwill, but only that I wish the end of my love to be such as my faith and loyalty is at this present, which I hope tract of time shall try without spot. Thy wit, Eriphila, hath bought my freedom, and thy wisdom hath made me captive, that as he which is hurt of the scorpion seeketh a salve from whence he received the sore, so you only may minister the medicine which procures the disease. The burning fever is driven out with a hot potion, the shaking palsy with a cold drink; love only is remedied by love, and fancy must be cured by continual affection.
Therefore, Eriphila, I speak with tears outwardly, and with drops of blood inwardly, that unless the mizzling showers of your mercy mitigate the fire of my fancy, I am like to buy love & repentance with death. But perhaps you will object that the beasts which gaze at the panther are guilty of their own death, that the mouse taken in the trap deserveth her chance, that a lover which hath free will deserveth no pity if he fall into any amorous passions. Can the straw resist the virtue of the pure jet, or flax the force of the fire? Can a lover withstand the brunt of beauty, or freeze if he stand by the flame, or prevent the laws of nature? Weigh all things equally, and then I doubt not but to have a just judgment, and though small acquaintance may breed mistrust, and mistrust hinders love, yet tract of time shall infer such trial as I trust shall kindle affection.
And therefore I hope you will not put a doubt till occasion be offered, nor call his credit in question whom neither you have found nor heard to be halting. What though the serpentine powder is quickly kindled and quickly out, yet the salamander stone, once set on fire, can never be quenched. As the sappy myrtle-tree will quickly rot, so the shittim wood will never be eaten with worms; though the polyp changeth colour every hour, yet the sapphire will crack before it will consent to disloyalty. As all things are not made of one mould, so all men are not of one mind, for as there hath been a trothless Jason, so there hath been a trusty Troilus, and as there hath been a dissembling Damocles, so there hath been a loyal Lelius. And sure, Eriphila, I call the gods to witness without feigning that sith thy wit hath so bewitched my heart, my loyalty and love shall be such as thy honour and beauty doth merit. Sith therefore my fancy is such, repay but half so much in recompense, and it shall be sufficient.
Eriphila, hearing this passionate speech of Meribates, made him this answer:
Lord Meribates, it is hard taking the fowl when the net is descried, and ill catching of fish Modern spelling transcript copyright 2007 Nina Green All Rights Reserved ALCIDA; GREENE’S METAMORPHOSIS 32 ________________________________________________________________________
when the hook is bare, and as impossible to make her believe that will give no credit, and to deceive her that spieth the fetch. When the string is broken, it is hard to hit the white;
when a man’s credit is called in question, it is hard to persuade one. Blame me not, Meribates, if I urge you so strictly, nor think nothing if I suspect you narrowly; a woman may knit a knot with her tongue that she cannot untie with all her teeth, and when the signet is set on, it is too late to break the bargain. Therefore I had rather mistrust too soon than mislike too late; I had rather fear my choice than rue my chance, for a woman’s heat is like the stone in Egypt that will quickly receive a form, but never change without cracking. If then I fear, think me not cruel, nor scrupulous if I be wise for myself.
The wolf hath as smooth a skin as the simple sheep; the sour elder hath a fairer bark than the sweet juniper. Where the sea is calmest, there it is deepest, and where the greatest colour of honesty is, there oftentimes is the most want, for Venus’ vessels have the loudest sound when they are most empty, and a dissembling heart hath more eloquence than a faithful mind, for truth is ever naked. I will not, Lord Meribates, run for my [sic for ‘infer any’?] particular comparison.
Thus I cast all these doubts, and others have tried them true. Yet am I forced by fancy to take some remorse of thy passions. Medea knew the best, but yet followed the worst in choosing Jason, but I hope not to find thee so wavering. Well, Meribates, to be short and plain, thou hast won the castle that many have besieged, and hast obtained that which others have sought to gain. It is not the shape of thy beauty but the hope of thy loyalty which enticeth me; not thy fair face but thy faithful heart; not thy parentage, but thy manners; not thy possessions, but thy virtues, for she that builds her love upon beauty means to fancy but for awhile. Would God I might find thee such a one as I will try myself to be, for whereas thou dost protest such loyalty which, suppose it be true, yet shall it be but counterfeit respecting mine. Be thou but Admetus, and I will be Alcest; no torments, no travail, no, only the loss of life shall diminish my love. In lieu thereof remain thou but constant, and in pledge of my protested goodwill, have here my heart and hand to be thine in dust and ashes.
Here, son, mayest thou judge into what quandary Meribates was driven when he heard the answer of his mistress so correspondent to his suit; the prisoner being condemned hearing the rumour of his pardon never rejoiced more than Meribates did at this pronouncing of his happiness. Well, these lovers thus agreeing, broke off from their parle for fear of suspicion, and joined with company, where falling into other talk, we passed away the afternoon in many pleasant devices.
Eriphila and Meribates, thus satisfied, living in most happy content, honouring no deity but Venus, determined as well as opportunity would minister occasion to break the matter to me and her [+brother?] betime, but in the meanwhile my son proclaimed for his delight certain jousts and tourneys, whither resorted all the bravest noblemen and gentlemen in Taprobane, where they performed many worthy and honourable deeds of chivalry. The jousts ended, my son bade them all to a banquet, where to grace the board and to honour the company was placed my daughters Eriphila and Marpesia; gazed on they were for their beauties, and admired for their honourable behaviour.
Modern spelling transcript copyright 2007 Nina Green All Rights Reserved ALCIDA; GREENE’S METAMORPHOSIS 33 ________________________________________________________________________
Eriphila, whose eye walked about the troop of these lusty gallants, espied a young gentleman midst the rest called Lucidor, the son of an esquire, a man of personage tall and well-proportioned, of face passing amiable, of behaviour well nurtured. This gallant, furnished with these singular qualities, so set on fire Eriphila’s fancy that as if she had drunk of the fountain of Ardenia [sic?], her hot love was turned to a cold liking. Now her heart was set upon Lucidor which of late was vowed to Meribates, in such sort that her stomach lost the wonted appetite to feed the eyes with the beauty of her new lover, as that she seemed to have eaten of the herb sputania, which shutteth up the stomach for a long season. Yea, so impatient was her affection as she could not forbear to give him such looks that the gentleman perceived she was either resolved to outface him or else affected towards him. Well, the dinner ended, and the gentlemen all departed, Eriphila getting
secretly to her closet, began to fall into these terms:
Infortunate Eriphila, what a contrariety of passions breeds a confused discontent in thy mind! What a war dost thou feel between the constant resolution of a lover and the inconstant determination of a lecher, between fancy and faith, love and loyalty. Wilt thou prove, Eriphila, as false as Venus, who for every effeminate face hath a new fancy; as trothless as Cressida, that changed her thoughts with her years; as inconstant as Helena, whose heart had more lovers than the chameleon colours? Wilt thou vow thy loyalty to one, and not prove steadfast to any? The turtle chooseth, but never changeth; the lion, after that he hath entered league with his mate, doth never covet a new choice. These have but nature for their guide, and yet are constant; thou hast both nature and nurture and yet art moveable, breaking thine oath without compulsion, and thy faith without constraint, whereas nothing is so hated as perjury, and a woman having cracked her loyalty is half hanged. Civilia, being betrothed to Horatius Secundus, chose rather to be racked to death than to falsify her constancy. Lamia, a concubine, could by no torments be haled from the love of Aristogiton. What perils suffered Cariclia for Theagines? Let these examples, Eriphila, move thee to be constant to Meribates. Be thou steadfast, and no doubt thou shalt not find him straggling. Caustana [sic?], when she came into the court to swear that she never loved Sudalus [sic?], became dumb, and after fell mad;
beware of the like reward if thou commit the like offence.