Abbildungen der Seite

ever much mistaken if the name of Greene was not either printed in the title of the other edition, or at least written on it in an ancient hand. I hardly suppose the authority of Mr. Bowle's quotation from one of old Jackson's catalogues would have been suflicient for me to rely on. GS.”

The dedication is addressed

66 To all kind, and vnkind, readers of both kindes.—To please many, yea rather a few, is a thing easie to be desired, but hardly obtained; for in this sicke age the mindes of most are infected with such a froward malady, and their appetites infected with such a giddy humour, that scant any thing (be it neuer so curious) can procure a pleasing realish to their dainty-toothed curiosity. But I must tell such distempered persons, that heere is nothing prepared to afford them any kind entertainment: for where loue is rewarded with hate, cost is better spared then ill spent, and I had rather such guests should fast then to be invited to my feast. And if they will follow the rules of my physicke, I couusell them to clear and purge their quesie stomaches from that corrupt humor, which turneth the sweetest honny into boysome poy, son, for before that time wholesome food can minister no comfort to feeble nature ; but doth rather feede the peenish malady and augment the vigor of their dangerous disease.

6 Now for other who are of a better complexion, and a more healthfull coostitution, shall all be hartily welcome, so many as after a friendly iouitation are willing to come to take such cheare as is chearefully prouided for them. I will keep open house al the year, you may be bold to enter without checke of any churlish porter, and kind harted hospitality shall be my steward, although for his large liberality, he is quite shut out of doores in most places, I beshrew wanton Pride for her labour, it is by her procurement: for they two can neuer dwell together vnder one roofe, and she in this new fangled doting olde age, hath gotten the vpper hand; more is the pitty and greater the impiety. But you that are my welcome guestes shall not come to a nigarde's feast, for if variety m[a]y please you, you shall haue store and plenty, and if the first seruice will not serue your turne, I pray you be patient till you see the prouision of all your fare, and I doubt not but before it be time to take vp the table, you shal meete with some dish that shall be so well dressed as it may delight your palat. If I should praise my cheare ouermuch, men might beg me for a foole, and bid me hold my peace


P 2

while I learned more wit: yet I may be bold to say, it is not so good, but I wish it were far better for your sakes. And if you thinke yourselves as welcome as you are new.come, I beshrew you if you spare, and therefore once againe for all, I bid you all hartily welcome.”

The scene of this tragical history is laid in Greece, of which the king was far renowned for maintaining with vigour impartial justice. “He would neither be induced by soft harted pittie, to spare his dearest friends, nor incensed by the passions of fieric choler to be revenged of his greatest foes." Il is only child is the heroine, Bellora : Her, we are told,

“ The diuine graces had so gloriously adorned, with such excellent beautie of bodie and exceeding such admirable qualities of minde, that they might well be deemed to have emptied their rich.stored treasurie, of their fairest and rarest iewells, to bestowe them on this gracious lady, for her princely dower, whose fresh and amiable cheekes nature had so deepely died with her purest and choisest colours, that their eie-pleasing tincture farre surpassed the fairest damask rose, and much excelled the whitest growing lilly and so curiously compacted the whole frame of her refined substance, that if Apelles (that resembling limner) had beene tasked to haue drawne her counterfeit, her two bright-burning lampes would haue so dazled his quicke.seeing sences, that quite dispairing to expresse with his cunning pensill so admirable a worke of nature, he had beene inforced to have staid his hand, and left this earthly Venus ynfinished.”

As men in elder time might with less harm view the monstrous Medusa than the quick-sighted lover the bright shining Bellora, for the one being metamorphosed into stone was freed from pain, but the other lived a dying life more dolorous than sudden death, therefore the king, to prevent further mischief, commanded bis daughter to be privily conveyed to a distant solitary cottage. Two knights being equally inflamed with love, haunt the residence of the princess : on the first discovery of their passion, disregarding their hitherto preserved amity, they fight, and the one wbo in a previous discourse proposed determining their chance by lots, is slain by Fidelio. The victor also succeeds in obtaining an interview with his mistress, and an amorous intercourse commences. This being discovered to the king and both parties in durance, he determines that the strict law shall be enforced, whereby “ whosoeuer were apprebended and conuicted, for the like crime that Fidelio and Bellora had committed, that one of them after straight examination, and due inquisition made, who was found least culpable, should bee condemned to perpetuall exilment, and the other offending most, to suffer a most bitter death. For their lawe did decme it a thing opposite and flat contrarie to right, that the punishment inflicted should not differ in quantitie, when the fault of the transgressors did differ in qualitie.” The strict examination gives place for long orations from the lovers, and wherein each strenuously seeks to be considered the greater delinquent. The judges declare them to have been alike affected and little or no difference in their offence ; this conclusion not pleasing the king, it is suggested to him to have

both could

« Such a competent number of men and women to bee assembled, as might be thought meete and to elect one of each sex, to argue by a solemne disputation, whether man to woman, or woman to man, offereth greatest occasions of in. ducements to lewdnesse and follie, and if woman had the worst, and lost the day, that then his daughter Bellora should die : but if it were apparant that men were most faultie in matters of such condition that then sentence and speedie execution of death should passe against Fidelio.”

Which being concluded upon, heralds are sent to the confines of other nations to divulge this

66 Decreed disputation, to incite some knight trained vp in amorous battells and well schoolled in the precepts of Ouid's art, that great master of loue, like a stoute champion, to patronage the cause of men : and on the other side to instigate some ladie qualified with the like skill and practized in controversies of the same condition to mannage the de. fence of her female sexe, and to resist the forces of her contrarie foe, induced thereunto by promise of an honorable reward, and a thirstie desire to be enrowled in the booke of euerlasting fame."

The disputation is evidently to imitate the ancient mooting matches, and the following is the author's description of his mooters :

66 Nowe in those daies, there was a noble ladie, and gal. Jant gentlewoman in the Spanish court, witty, quick-con. ceited, and for commendable qualities so gracious, that shee could bee seconded of none, she did so far surpasse them all: so that this glorious ladie, richly decked with nature's choisest jewells, was greatly affected and often courted by many of great note and honor, who by their loue fauours sought to woe her and by ceaselesse importunitie to winne her. Yet shee did alwaies demeane herselfe in those light affaires with such a modest temperature, that it was a doubt. full case, whether shee was more to be prised and praised for her prompt ac[ti]uitie of wit, then to be admired at for her wel-disposed inclination and womanlie discretion. This gentle. woman (who by her long practize was wonderfull skilfull in loue's-logicke, and quick.eied to spie out any fallacian in that faire-speaking art) was named Moranio. There was also within the circuit of the Spanish region, a certaine effemi. nate knight called Agamio: who rather delighting to write quaint deuises to courtlie ladies, with his idle pen, then in open field to encounter his foe with his warlike launce, be. came with often exercise very ingenious in that skill, and prooued a marueilous proficient in the art of loue, and was so sharp-sighted to discrie the subtile close contriued pra. tizes of women-kind, and to crosse their wittie shifts, that for his dexteritie in those qualities hee was no where to bee equaled.”

In the disputation the author has collected all the arguments and examples that an extensive reading could supply, making six speeches of the disputants fill near thirty pages. Finally, the moderators, or judges, twelve in number, “ gaue sentence of death with one consent against Bellora and doom of perpetuall banishment against Fidelio.” Intercessions with the king proving incffectual, preparation is made to carry the sentence into effect, at which time Fidelio rushes unexpectedly into the fire. This occasions the deferring of the sentence against Bellora, who contrives in despair to give herself a prey to the lions kept at the palace.

A gamio is next made to fall in love with Morania; who maddened with disappointment at the failure of her own eloquence, and to revenge the death of the princess, determines by artifice, and with the connivance of the queen, to make him believe he has excited a mutual passion. This ends in bis destruction in a way horrific and cruel, making monsters of the women who could inflict such a death; but take the author's own words: " Agamio his priuate speech vnto Morania.- So great is


the delight of my inward thoughts, and so far pleasing is the present object of my outward sences that I could now wishi to abide the wounds of death, and to pay nature her due debt, least changing time shold change my present myrth into future sorrow, and eruious fortune giue me a fearefull downefal from so high a seat. But how can my rude tongue (gracious madam) tell forth thy worthy praises, from whose blisseful bounty do flow the sweet streams of my instant ioy, and doubtles hope of a happie lise, seeing your rare and mi. raculous clemency hath clean remitted the misdemenor of my foriner iniurious follies, and that now after a long war, you haue entred a kind league with me of perpetual peace.

"Neuertheles, althogh the bright sun shine of your beaming vertues hath bin heretofore a little obscured by the false oppositions of my blacke and slanderous tongue, yet now it hath recouerd his former light, and shal herafter shine far more clearer, and as I haue before intended all my forces to the dishonor of all you female angel-like creatures, so now I will not spare (in part of recompence) to spend my derest blood to aduance or aduantage the glory of your tender harted sex. And now I wish that he may still abide much wo, and live in little ease, that can be so hard-harted as once to wrong your gentle nature, and to you (kind lady) I protest with solemne vow, (and let the heavens reuenge it) if my deeds keep not even bias with my words, that I will continue faithfull in the sure bond of our nuptiall coniunction, vntill death by taking away my life, disolue the knot of my fixed loue, and in token of my loyall fidelity, I giue you my hande, a sure pawne of my true hart; and let thy Agamio soone cease to breath and liue, if he once think to faile in the duty of perfect loue, or imagine to breake his plighted faith to thee (worthy and gracious lady) who art his first, and shalt be his last, and best beloued.

“ The Author.*-As soone as false conceited Agamio had ended his penitary confession, and was come to the foote of his submissiue recantation, counterfetting Morania, too subtle to intangle this credulous doter within the hidden spare, soone changed the coppy of hir countenance, and suddenly ouercast bir smiling face with sad and louring looks, and thirsty reuenge had now ingrauen deep and angry frowns in her smooth forehead, as outward signes of her old malice, (for awhile) low couched, and close imprisoned in the narrou

* By the interlocutory observations of “ the author,” he appears to have imitated the model of the early drama, which introduces the churus for explanatory purposes to the auditory.


« ZurückWeiter »