«By R.G. Omne tulit punctum, qui miscuit dulci. London Printed by George Purslowe Modern spelling transcript copyright 2007 Nina Green All Rights ...»
Tush, they that would refrain from drink because they heard Anacreon died with the pot at his head, or that hateth an egg because Appeyus Sanleyus [sic] died in eating of one, would be noted for persons half mad; so if I should stand to my pennyworth, having made my market like a fool and may change for the better, because other in like case have had ill hap, I may either be counted faint-hearted or foolish.
What, Eriphila, Jupiter laughed at the perjury of lovers. Meribates is fair, but not second to Lucidor; he is witty, but the other more wise. Well, what of this, but how wilt thou answer Meribates? Tush, cannot the cat catch mice but she must have a bell hanged at her ear? He that is afraid to venture on the buck for that he is wrapped in the briars shall never have hunter’s hap, and he that puts a doubt in love at every chance shall never have lover’s luck. Well, howsoever it be, Lucidor shall be mine; he shall have my heart and I his, or else I will sit beside the saddle.
Modern spelling transcript copyright 2007 Nina Green All Rights Reserved ALCIDA; GREENE’S METAMORPHOSIS 34 ________________________________________________________________________
And thus having debated with herself, she rested perplexed till she might have a sight of her new lover, which was not long, for Lucidor no sooner got home, but calling to mind the amorous glances of Eriphila, and noting both her beauty and her wit, although her honour was far beyond his parentage, yet presuming upon her favours shown him at the banquet, he boldly, as love’s champion, ventured to win what Cupid had set as a prize, so that he began to frequent the court and become a courtier, first braving it amongst the lords, then by degrees creeping into favour with the ladies, where in time he found opportunity to parle with Eriphila, whom for fashion’ sake at the first he found somewhat strange, but in short time became so tractable that there was but one heart in two bodies, insomuch that not only Meribates and my son, but all the court saw how Eriphila doted on Lucidor, whereat my son began to frown, but Meribates would not see it, lest his mistress should think him jealous, but smothered up the grief in secrecy, and thought either time or the persuasion of her friends or his continued affection would dissuade her from her follies.
Well, Eriphila had not favoured Lucidor long but there came to the court another young gentleman called Perecius, who likewise was enamoured of Eriphila, and she of him, that she proved more light of love than she was witty, yet she excelled in wit all the virgins of Taprobane.
To be brief, so many faces, so many fancies, that she became as variable in her loves as the polyp in colours, which so perplexed the mind of Meribates that, falling into melancholy and grievous passions, he exclaimed against the inconstancy of women, who like fortune stood upon a globe and were winged with the feathers of fickleness. Yet not willing to rage too far till he had talked with Eriphila, he would not stay till opportunity would serve, but early in a morning stepped into her bedchamber, where finding her between half sleeping and waking, he saluted with great courtesy. Being resaluted again of Eriphila with the like private kind of familiarity, after a few ordinary speeches,
Meribates, taking Eriphila by the hand, began to utter his mind in these words:
Sweet mistress, I feel in my mind a perilous and mortal conflict between fear and love, by the one doubting, in discovering my mind, to purchase your disfavour, by the other forced to bewray what I think, lest I perish through my own secrecy. Hoping therefore you will take that comes from me as from your second self, give me leave to say that grieves me to repeat, how I doubt madam, of your constancy. What vows there have passed between us, what protestations, what promises, I refer to your own conscience. What unseemly favours you have showed to Lucidor, what extreme fancy to Perecius, all Taprobane wonders at with sorrow, that so witty a lady should prove so light, and I especially, whom the cause toucheth at the quick and paineth at the heart, feel more miserable passions for your disloyalty than I did receive joys in hope of your constancy.
As Meribates was ready to have prosecuted his parle, my daughter broke off his discourse
in this manner:
And what of this, Lord Meribates? May not a woman look but she must love? Are you jealous, forsooth, before the wedding? Well, suppose I favoured Lucidor and Perecius;
Modern spelling transcript copyright 2007 Nina Green All Rights Reserved ALCIDA; GREENE’S METAMORPHOSIS 35 ________________________________________________________________________
Si natura hominum sit nouitatis auida, give women leave to have more fancies than one, if not as we are lovers, yet as we are women. Venus’ temple hath many entrances; Cupid hath more arrows than one in his quiver, and sundry strings to his bow; women have many looks, and so they may have many loves. What, Lord Meribates, think you to have a woman’s whole heart? No, unless you can procure Venus to make her blind, or some other deity deaf, for if either she see beauty or gold, or hear promises or passions, I think she will keep a corner for a friend, and so will I.
But madam, the glorious frame of the world consists in unity, so we see that in the firmament there is but one sun.
Yea, quoth Eriphila, but there be many stars.
The Iris or rainbow, madam, quod he, hath but one quality.
Truth, answered my daughter, but it hath many colours.
But to come to a familiar example, replied Meribates, the heart hath but one string.
Yea, but, quoth Eriphila, it hath many thoughts, and from these thoughts spring passions, and from passions, not love but loves; therefore content you, sir, for if you love me you must have rivals.
And so turning her face, as in choler, to ye other side of the bed, she bade him good morning. He, passing away out of the chamber in great melancholy, began as soon as he was alone to exclaim against the inconstancy of women, saying they were like marigolds, whose form turneth round with the sun; as wavering as weathercocks, that move with every wind; as fleeting as the north-west islands, that float with every gale; witty but in wiles, conceited but in inconstancy; as brittle as glass, having their hearts framed of the polyp-stones, their faces of the nature of adamants, and in quality like the jacinth, which when it seemeth most hot, is then as cold as iron,; carrying frowns in their foreheads and dimples in their cheeks; having their eyes framed of jet, that draw every beauty in a minute, and let them fall in a moment. Thus he exclaimed against women, but such was his fervent affection towards Eriphila that he would neither rage against her openly nor secretly, but smothered his passions in silence, which growing to the extreme, brought him into a fever wherein lingering, he died, but in such sort that all Taprobane said it was for the inconstancy of Eriphila, Well, his gentlemen and mariners mourned and sorrowed in that their pinnace should bring him home dead whom they brought forth alive, all jointly praying that the gods would be revenged on Eriphila, who as she was then attending with me and her brother on the dead corps to the ship, suddenly before all our sights was turned into this bird, a chameleon, whereupon the mariners rejoiced. Hoising up sails and thrusting into the main, we scoured and [sic for ‘they scoured, and we’?] returned home to the court.
Thus, son, thou hast heard the misfortune of my two daughters, the one for her pride, the Modern spelling transcript copyright 2007 Nina Green All Rights Reserved ALCIDA; GREENE’S METAMORPHOSIS 36 ________________________________________________________________________
other for her inconstancy. It is late, and the setting of the sun calleth us home with the bee to our poor hive; therefore we will now to our cottage, and tomorrow at thy breakfast I will satisfy thee with the hard fortune of Marpesia. With that I gave the Countess Alcida great thanks, and accompanied my courteous hostess to her cottage.
The third discourse, of Marpesia
No sooner was the day up, and Phoebus had marched out the greatest gates of heaven, lighting the world with the sparkling wreath circled about his head, but old Alcida got up and called me from my bed. Ashamed that old age should be more early than youth, I start up to wait upon mine hostess, who being ready with her staff in her hand, carried me forth into the fields hard adjoining to the sea-side, where we came to a tomb on which lay the picture of a gentleman very artificially carved. By him hung two tables without any symbol, emblem, imprest [sic for ‘imprese’?] or other hieroglyphical character; only
there were written certain verses to this effect:
The Graces in their glory never gave A rich or greater good to womankind That more impales their honours with the palm Of high renown than matchless constancy;
Beauty is vain, accounted but a flower Whose painted hue fades with the summer sun;
Wit oft hath wrack by self-conceit of pride;
Riches is trash that fortune boasteth on;
Constant in love, who tries a woman’s mind, Wealth, beauty, wit and all in her doth find.;
In the other table were set down these verses:
The fairest gem oft blemished with a crack Loseth his beauty and his virtue too, The fairest flower nipped with the winter’s frost In show seems worser than the basest weed;
Virtues are oft far over-stained with faults;
Were she as fair as Phoebe in her sphere, Or brighter than the paramour of Mars, Wiser than Pallas, daughter unto Jove, Of greater majesty than Juno was, More chaste than Vesta, goddess of the maids, Of greater faith than fair Lucretia, Be she a blab, and tattles what she hears, Want to be secret gives far greater stains Than virtues’ glory which in her remains.
After I had read over the verses, Alcida said:
Modern spelling transcript copyright 2007 Nina Green All Rights Reserved ALCIDA; GREENE’S METAMORPHOSIS 37 ________________________________________________________________________
Son, I perceive thou dost muse at this tomb set in so uncouth a place, hard by the steepdown cliffs of the sea, especially furnished with enigmatical posies, yet hast thou not considered what after thou shalt find, and therefore let us sit down under the shadow of this rose-tree which thou seest flourished in this barren place so fair and beautiful, and I will drive thee out of these doubts by discovering the fortune of my daughter Marpesia.
I, desirous to hear what the meaning of this monument, seated so prospective to Neptune, should be, sat me down very orderly under the rose-tree, and began to settle myself very attentive to hear what old Alcida would say, who began in this manner.
My two daughters being thus metamorphosed and transformed for their follies into strange shapes, I had left me only my youngest daughter, Marpesia, in face little inferior to her eldest sister Fiordespine, for she was passing beautiful. Wise she was, as not second to Eriphila, but other special virtues she had that made her famous through all Taprobane, and as the burnt child dreads the fire, and other men’s harms learn us to beware, so my daughter Marpesia by the misfortune of Fiordespine feared to be proud, and by the sinister chance of Eriphila hated to be inconstant, insomuch that, fearing their nativities to be fatal, and that hers being rightly calculated would prove as bad as the rest, she kept such a strict method of her life and manners, and so foreguarded all her actions with virtue, that she thought she might despise both the fates and fortune.
Living thus warily, I and her brother conceived great content in her modesty and virtue, thinking though the gods had made us infortunate by the mishap of the other two, yet in the fortunate success of Marpesia’s life, amends should be made for the other [sic for ‘others’?] mishap. Persuaded thus, it fortuned that my son entertained into his service the son of a gentleman, a bordering neighbour by, a youth of greater beauty than birth, for he was of comely personage, of face lovely, and though but meanly brought up, as nuzzled in his father’s house, yet his nature discovered that he was hardy in his resolution touching courage, and courteous in disposition as concerning his manners.
This youth, called Eurimachus, was so diligent and dutiful towards his lord, so affable to his fellows, and so gentle to everyone that he was not only well thought on by some, but generally liked and loved of all. Continuing in this method of life, he so behaved himself that in recompense of his service my son promoted him not only to higher office and some small pension, but admitted him into his secret and private familiarity. Living thus in great credit, it chanced that Venus, seeing how my daughter Marpesia lived careless of her loves and never sent so much as one sigh to Paphos for a sacrifice, she called Cupid, complaining that she was atheist to her deity, and one opposed to her principles, whereupon the boy, at his mother’s beck, drew out an envenomed arrow, and levelling at Marpesia, hit her under the right pap so nigh the heart that, giving a groan, she felt she was wounded, but how or with what she knew not, as one little skilful in any amorous passions. Yet she felt thoughts unfitting with her wonted humour, for noting the person of Eurimachus, which she found in property excellent, and admiring the qualities of his mind co-united with many rare and precious virtues which she perceived to be Modern spelling transcript copyright 2007 Nina Green All Rights Reserved ALCIDA; GREENE’S METAMORPHOSIS 38 ________________________________________________________________________