Whereon, under the government of pamphilus, the severall arguments do concerne such persons, as either by Way of liberality, or in magnificent manner, performed any worthy action, for love, favour, friendship, or any other Honourable occasion
Already began certaine small Clouds in the West, to blush with a Vermillion tincture, when those in the East (having reached to their full heighth) looked like bright burnished Gold, by splendour of the Sun beames drawing neere unto them: when Pamphilus being risen, caused the Ladies, and the rest of his honourable companions to be called. When they were all assembled, and had concluded together on the place, whither they should walke for their mornings recreation: the King ledde on the way before accompanied with the two Noble Ladies Philomena and Fiammetta, all the rest following after them, devising, talking, and answering to divers demands both what that day was to be don, as also concerning the proposed imposition for the forthcoming day.
After they had walked an indifferent space of time, and found the rayes of the Sunne to be over-piercing for them: they returned backe againe to the Pallace, as fearing to have their blood immoderately heated. Then rinsing their Glasses in the coole cleare running current, each tooke their mornings draught, and then walked into the milde shades about the Garden, untill they should bee summoned to dinner. Which was no sooner over-past, and such as slept, returned waking: they mette together againe in their wonted place, according as the King had appointed, where he gave command unto Madame Neiphila, that shee should (for that day) begin the first Novell, which she humbly accepting, thus began.
Wherin may evidently be discerned, that servants to princes and great lords, are many times recompenced, Rather by their good fortune, then in any regard of their dutifull services
A Florentine knight, named Signior Rogiero de Figiovanni, became a servant to Alphonso, King of Spaine, who (in his owne opinion) seemed but sleightly to respect and reward him. In regard whereof, by a notable experiment, the King gave him a manifest testimony, that it was not through any defect in him, but onely occasioned by the Knights ill fortune; most bountifully recompencing him afterward.
I doe accept it (Worthy Ladies) as no mean favour, that the King hath given me the first place, to speake of such an honourable Argument, as Bounty and Magnificence is, which precious Jewell, even as the Sunne is the beauty, or ornament and bright glory of al heaven; so is bounty and magnificence the Crowne of all vertues. I shall then recount to you a short Novell, sufficiently pleasing, in mine owne opinion, and I hope (so much I dare rely on your judgements) both profitable, and worthy to be remembred.
You are to know then, that among other valiant Knights, which of long have lived in our City, one of them, and (perhappes) of as great merit as any, was one, named Signior Rogiero d’Figiovanni. He being rich, of great courage, and perceiving, that (in due consideration) the quality belonging to life, and the customes observed among our Tuscanes, were not answerable to his expectation, nor agreed with the disposition of his valour; determined to leave his native Countrey, and belong in service (for some time) to Alfonso, King of Spaine, whose fame was generally noised in all places, for excelling all other Princes in those times, for respect of mens well deservings, and bountifull requitall of their paines. Being provided in honorable order, both of Horses, Armes, and a competent train, he travelled to Spaine, where he was worthily entertained.
Signior Rogiero continuing there, living in honorable maner, and performing many admirable actions of arms; in short time he made himselfe sufficiently knowne, for a very valiant and famous man. And having remained an indifferent long while, observing divers behaviours in the king: he saw, how enclined himselfe first to one man, then another, bestowing on one a Castle, a Towne on another, and Baronnies on divers, som-what indiscreetly, as giving away bountiful to men of no merit. And restraining all his favors from him, as seeming close fisted, and parting with nothing: he took it as a diminishing of his former reputation, and a great empayring of his fame, wherefore he resolved on his departure thence, and made his suit to the king that he might obtaine it. The king did grant it, bestowing on him one of the very best Mules, and the goodliest that ever was backt, a gift most highly pleasing to Rogiero, in regarde of the long journy he intended to ride. Which being delivcrd, the king gave charge to one of his Gentlemen, to compasse such convenient meanes, as to ride thorow the country, and in the company of Signior Rogiero, yet in such manner, as he should not perceive, that the King had purposely sent him so to do. Respectively he should observe whatsoever he said concerning the king, his gesture, smiles, and other behavior, shaping his answers accordingly, and on the nexte morning to command his returne backe with him to the King.
Nor was the Gentleman slacke in this command, but noting Rogieroes departing forth of the city, he mounted on horseback likewise, and immediatly after came into his company, making him beleeve, that he journied towards Italy. Rogiero rode on the Mule which the king had given him, with diversity of speeches passing between them. About three of the clocke in the afternoone, the Gentleman said. It were not amisse Sir, (having such fit opportunitie), to Stable our horses for a while, till the heate be a little more overpast. So taking an Inne, and the horses being in the stable, they all staled except the Mule.
Being mounted againe, and riding on further, the Gentleman duely observed whatsoever Rogiero spake, and comming to the passage of a small River or Brooke: the rest of the beasts dranke, and not the Mule, but staled in the River: which Signior Rogiero seeing, clapping his hands on the Mules mane, hee said. What a wicked beast art thou? thou art just like thy Master that gave thee to mee. The Gentleman committed the words to memory, as he did many other passing from Rogiero, riding along the rest of the day, yet none in disparagement of the King, but rather highly in his commendation. And being the next morning mounted on horseback, seeming to hold on still the way for Tuscane: the Gentleman fulfilled the Kings command, causing Signior Rogiero to turne back againe with him, which willingly he yeelded to doe.
When they were come to the Court, and the King made acquainted with the words, which Rogiero spake to his Mule; he was called into the presence, where the King shewed him a gracious countenance, and demanded of him, why he had compared him to his Mule? Signior Rogiero nothing daunted, but with a bold and constant spirit, thus answered. Sir, I made the comparison, because, like as you give, where there is no conveniency, and bestow nothing where reason requireth: even so, the Mule would not stale where she should have done, but where was water too much before, there she did it. Beleeve me Signior Rogiero, replyed the King, if I have not given you such gifts, as (perhaps) I have done to divers other, farre inferiour to you in honour and merit; this happened not thorough any ignorance in me, as not knowing you to be a most valiant Knight, and well-worthy of speciall respect: but rather through your owne ill fortune, which would not suffer me to doe it, whereof she is guilty, and not I, as the truth thereof shall make it selfe apparant to you. Sir, answered Rogiero, I complaine not, because I have received no gift from you, as desiring thereby covetously to become the richer: but in regard you have not as yet any way acknowledged, what vertue is remaining in me. Neverthelesse, I allow your excuse for good and reasonable, and am heartely contented, to behold whatsoever you please; although I doe confidently credit you, without any other testimony. The King conducted him then into the great Hall, where (as hee had before given order) stood two great Chests, fast lockt; in the presence of all his Lords, the King thus spake. Signior Rogiero, in one of these Chests is mine imperiall Crowne, the Scepter Royall, the Mound, and many more of my richest girdles, rings, plate, and jewels, even the very best that are mine: the other is full of earth onely. Chuse one of these two, and which thou makest election of; upon my Royall word thou shalt enjoy it. Hereby shalt thou evidently perceive, who hath bin ingreatful to the deservings, either I, or thine owne bad fortune. Rogiero seeing it was the kings pleasure to have it so; chose one of them, which the King caused presently to be opened, it approving to be the same that was full of earth, whereat the King smyling, said thus unto him. You see Signior Rogiero, that what I said concerning your ill fortune, is very true: but questionlesse, your valour is of such desert, as I ought to oppose my selfe against all her malevolence. And because I know right, that you are not minded to become a Spaniard; I will give you neither Castle nor dwelling place: but will bestow the Chest on you (in meer despight of your malicious fortune) which she so unjustly tooke away from you. Carry it home with you into your Countrey, that there it may make an apparant testimoney, in the sight of all your well-willers, both of your owne vertuous deservings, and my bounty. Signior Rogiero humbly receiving the Chest, and thanking his Majestie for so liberall a gift, returned home joyfully therewith, into his native Countrey of Tuscane.
Wherein is declared that good men doe sometimes fall into bad conditions, onely occasioned thereto by Necessity: And what meanes are to be used, for their reducing to goodnesse againe
Ghinotto di Tacco; tooke the Lord Abbot of Clugni as his prisoner, and cured him of a grievous disease, which he had in his stomacke, and afterwards set him at libert. The same Lord Abbot when hee returned from the Court Rome, reconciled Ghinotto to Pope Boniface; who made him a Knight, and Lord Prior of a goodly Hospitall.
The magnificence and Royall bounty, which King Alphonso bestowed on the Florentine knight, passed through the whole assembly with mean applause, and the King (who gave the greatest praise of al) commanded Madame Eliza, to take the second turne in order; whereupon, thus she began. Faire Ladies, if a king shewed himselfe magnificently minded, and expressed his liberall bounty to such a man, as had done him good and honourable services: it can be termed no more then a vertuous deed well done, and becomming a King. But what will we say, when we heare that a Prelate of the Church, shewed himselfe wondrously magnificent, and to such a one as was his enemy: can any malicious tongue speake ill of him? Undoubtedly, no other answere is to be made, but the action of the King was meerely vertue, and that of the Prelate, no lesse then a miracle: for how can it be otherwise, when they are more greedily covetous then women, and deadly enemies to all liberality? And although every man (naturally) desireth revenge for injuries and abuses done unto him: yet men of the Church, in regard that dayly they preached patience, and commaund (above all things else) remission of sinnes: it would appeare a mighty blemish in them, to be more froward and furious then other men. But I am to speake of a reverend Prelate of the Church, as also concerning his munificent bounty, to one that was his enemy, and yet became his reconciled friend, as you shall perceive by my Novell.
Ghinotto di Tacco, for his insolent and stout robberies, became a man very farre famed, who being banished from Sienna, and an enemy to the Countes Disanta Flore: prevailed so by his bold and headstrong perswasions, that the Towne of Raticonfani rebelled against the Church of Rome, wherein he remaining; all passengers whatsoever, travelling any way thereabout, were robde and rifled by his theeving Companions. At the time whereof now I speake, Boniface the eight, governed as Pope at Rome, and the Lord Abbot of Clugni (accounted to be one of the richest Prelates in the world) came to Rome, and there either by some surfeit, excesse of feeding, or otherwise, his stomacke being grievously offended and pained; the Phisitians advised him, to travell to the Bathes at Sienna, where he should receive immediate cure. In which respect, his departure being licenced by the Pope, to set onward thither, with great and pompous Cariages, of Horses, Mules, and a goodly traine, without hearing any rumour of the theevish Consorts.
Ghinotto di Tacco, being advertised of his comming, spred about his scouts and nettes, and without missing so much as one Page, shut up the Abbot, with all his traine and baggage, in a place of narrow restraint, out of which he could by no meanes escape. When this was done, he sent one of his most sufficient attendants (well accompanyed) to the Lord Abbot, who said to him in his Masters name, that if his Lordship were so pleased, hee might come and visite Ghinotto at his Castle. Which the Abbot hearing, answered chollerickly, that he would not come thither, because hee had nothing to say to Ghinotto: but meant to proceed on in his journy, and would faine see, who durst presume to hinder his passe. To which rough words, the messenger thus mildely answered. My Lord (quoth he) you are arrived in such a place, where we feare no other force, but the all-controlling power of heaven, clearely exempted from the Popes thunder-cracks, of maledictions, interdictions, excommunications, or whatsoever else: and therefore it would bee much better for you, if you pleased to do as Ghinotto adviseth you.
During the time of this their interparlance, the place was suddenly round ingirt with strongly armed theeves, and the Lord Abbot perceiving, that both he and all his followers were surprized: tooke his way (though very impatiently) towards the Castle, and likewise all his company and carriages with him. Being dismounted, hee was conducted (as Ghinotto had appointed) all alone, into a small Chamber of the Castle, it being very darke and uneasie: but the rest of his traine, every one according to his ranck and quality, were all well lodged in the Castle, their horses, goods and all things else, delivered into secure keeping, without the least touch of injury or prejudice. All which being orderly done, Ghinotto himselfe went to the Lord Abbot, and said. My Lord, Ghinotto, to whom you are a welcome guest, requesteth, that it might be your pleasure to tell him, whither you are travelling, and upon what occasion?
The Lord Abbot being a very wise man, and his angry distemper more moderately qualified; revealed whither he went, and the cause of his going thither. Which when Ghinotto had heard, hee departed courteously from him, and began to consider with himselfe, how he might cure the Abbot; yet without any Bathe. So, commanding a good fire to be kept continually in his small Chamber, and very good attendance on him: the next morning, he came to visite him againe, bringing a faire white Napkin on his arme, and in it two slices or toasts of fine Manchet, a goodly cleare Glasse, full of the purest white-Bastard of Corniglia (but indeed, of the Abbots owne provision brought thither with him) and then hee spoke to him in this manner.
My Lord, when Ghinotto was yonger then now he is, he studyed Physicke, and he commanded me to tell you, that the very best medicine, he could ever learne, against any disease in the stomacke, was this which he had provided for your Lordship, as an especial preparative, and which he should finde to be very comfortable. The Abbot, who had a better stomacke to eate, then any will or desire to talke: although hee did it somewhat disdainfully, yet hee eate up both the toastes, and roundly dranke the Glasse of Bastard. Afterward, divers other speeches passed betweene them, the one still advising in Phisicall manner, and the other seeming to care little for it: but moved many questions concerning Ghinotto, and earnestly requesting to see him. Such speeches as savoured of the Abbots discontentment, and came from him in passion; were clouded with courteous acceptance, and not the least signe of any mislike: but assuring his Lordship, that Ghinotto intended very shortly to see him, and so they parted for that time. Nor returned he any more, till the next morning with the like two toastes of bread, and such another Glasse of white Bastard, as he had brought him at the first, continuing the same course for divers dayes after: till the Abbot had eaten (and very hungerly too) a pretty store of dryed Beanes, which Ghinotto purposely, (yet secretly) had hidden in the Chamber. Whereupon he demaunded of him (as seeming to be so enjoyned by his pretended master) in what temper he found his stomacke now? I should finde my stomacke well enough (answered the Lord Abbot) if I could get forth of thy masters fingers, and then have some good food to feed on: for his medicines have made me so soundly stomackt, that I am ready to starve with hunger.
When Ghinotto was gone from him, hee then prepared a very faire Chamber for him, adorning it with the Abbots owne rich hangings, as also his Plate and other moveables, such as were alwayes used for his service. A costly dinner he provided likewise, whereto he invited divers of the Towne, and many of the Abbots chiefest followers: then going to him againe the next morning, he said. My Lord, seeing you doe feele your stomacke so well, it is time you should come forth of the Infirmary. And taking him by the hand, he brought him into the prepared Chamber, where he left him with his owne people, and went to give order for the dinners serving in, that it might be performed in magnificent manner.
The Lord Abbot recreated himselfe a while with his owne people, to whom he recounted, the course of his life since hee saw them; and they likewise told him, how kindly they had bin initeated by Ghinotto. But when dinner time was come, the Lord Abbot and all his company, were served with costly viands and excellent Wines, without Ghinottoes making himselfe knowne to the Abbot: till after he had beene entertained some few dayes in this order: into the great Hall of the Castle, Ghinotto caused all the Abbots goods and furniture to bee brought, and likewise into a spacious Court, wheron the windowes of the said Court gazed, all his mules and horses, with their sumpters, even to the very silliest of them, which being done, Ghinotto went to the Abbot, and demaunded of him, how he felt his stomacke now, and whether it would serve him to venter on horsebacke as yet, or no? The Lord Abbot answered, that he found his stomacke perfectly recovered, his body strong enough to endure travell, and all things well, so hee were delivered from Ghinotto.
Hereupon, he brought him into the hall where his furniture was, as also all his people, and commanding a window to be opned, wherat he might behold his horses, he said. My Lord, let me plainely give you to understand, that neither cowardise, or basenesse of minde, induced Ghinotto di Tacco (which is my selfe) to become a lurking robber on the high-wayes, an enemy to the Pope, and so (consequently) to the Romane Court: but onely to save his owne life and honour knowing himselfe to be a Gentleman cast out of his owne house, and having (beside) infinite enemies. But because you seeme to be a worthy Lord, I will not (although I have cured your stomacks disease) deale with you as I doe to others, whose goods (when they fall into my power) I take such part of as I please: but rather am well contented, that my necessities being considered by your selfe, you spare me out a proportion of the things you have heere, answerable to your owne liking. For all are present here before you, both in this Hall, and in the Court beneath, free from any spoyle, or the least impairing. Wherefore, give a part, or take all, if you please, and then depart hence when you will, or abide heere still, for now you are at your owne free liberty.
The Lord Abbot wondred not a little, that a robber on the high wayes, should have such a bold and liberall spirit, which appeared very pleasing to him; and instantly, his former hatred and spleene against Ghinotto, became converted into cordiall love and kindnes, so that (imbracing him in his armes) he said. I protest upon my vow made to Religion, that to win the love of such a man, as I plainely perceive thee to be: I would undergo far greater injuries, then those which I have received at thy hands. Accursed be cruell destiny, that forced thee to so base a kind of life, and did not blesse thee with a fairer fortune. After he had thus spoken, he left there the greater part of all his goods, and returned backe againe to Rome, with few horses, and a meaner traine.
During these passed accidents, the Pope had received intelligence of the Lord Abbots surprizall, which was not a little displeasing to him: but when he saw him returned, he demaunded, what benefit he received at the Bathes? Whereto the Abbot, merrily smyling, thus replyed. Holy Father, I met with a most skilfull Physitian neerer hand, whose experience is beyond the power of the Bathes, for by him I am very perfectly cured: and so discoursed all at large. The Pope laughing heartely, and the Abbot continuing on still his report; moved with an high and magnificent courage, he demaunded one gracious favour of the Pope: who imagining that he would request a matter of greater moment, then he did, freely offered to grant, whatsoever he desired.
Holy Father, answered the Lord Abbot, all the humble suit which I make to you, is, that you would be pleased to receive into your grace and favor, Ghinotto di Tacco my Physitian, because among all the vertuous men, deserving to have especial account made of them I never met with any equall to him both in honour and honesty. Whatsoever injury he did to me, I impute it as a greater in-fortune, then any way he deserveth to be charged withall. Which wretched condition of his, if you were pleased to alter, and bestow on him some better meanes of maintenance, to live like a worthy man, as he is no lesse: I make no doubt, but (in very short time) hee will appeare as pleasing to your holinesse, as (in my best judgement) I thinke him to be.
The Pope, who was of a magnanimious spirit, and one that highly affected men of vertue, hearing the commendable motion made by the Abbot; returned answere, that he was as willing to grant it, as the other desired it, sending Letters of safe conduct for his comming thither. Ghinotto receiving such assurance from the Court of Rome, came thither immediatly, to the great joy of the Lord Abbot: and the Pope finding him to be a man of valor and worth, upon reconciliation, remitted all former errors, creating him knight, and Lord Prior of the very chiefest Hospitall in Rome. In which Office he lived long time after, as a loyall servant to the Church, and an honest thankefull friend to the Lord Abbot of Clugny.
Shewing in an excellent and lively demonstration, that any especiall honourable vertue, persevering and Dwelling in a truly noble soule, cannot be violenced or confounded, by the most politicke attemptes of malice and envy
Mithridanes envying the life and liberality of Nathan, and travelling thither, with a setled resolution to kill him: chaunceth to conferre with Nathan unknowne. And being instructed by him, in what manner he might best performe the bloody deede, according as hee gave direction, hee meeteth with him in a small Thicket or Woode, where knowing him to be the same man, that taught him how to take away his life: Confounded with shame, hee acknowledgeth his horrible intention, and becommeth his loyall friend.
It appeared to the whole assembly, that they had heard a matter of mervaile, for a Lord Abbot to performe any magnificent action: but their admiration ceasing in silence, the King commanded Philostratus to follow next, who forthwith thus began.
Honourable Ladies, the bounty and magnificense of Alphonso King of Spaine, was great and that done by the Lord great in Abbot of Clugny, a thing (perhaps) never heard of in any other. But it will seeme no lesse mervailous to you, when you heare, how one man, in expression of great liberality to another man, that earnestly desired to kill him; should bee secretly disposed to give him his life, which had bin lost, if the other would have taken it, as I purpose to acquaint you withall, in a short Novell.
Most certaine it is, at least, if Faith may bee given to the report of certaine Genewayes, and other men resorting to those remote parts, that in the Country of Cathaya, there lived somtime a Gentleman, rich beyond comparison, and named Nathan. He having his living adjoyning to a great common rode-way, whereby men travayled from the East to the West (as they did the like from the West unto the East, as having no other means of passage) and being of a bountifull and chearfull disposition, which he was willing to make knowen by experience: he summoned together many Master Masons and Carpenters, and there erected (in a short time) one of the greatest, goodliest, and most beautifull houses (in manner of a Princes Pallace) that ever was seene in all those quarters.
With movables and all kinde of furnishment, befitting a house of such outward apparance, hee caused it to be plentifully stored onely to receive, entertaine, and honor all Gentlemen or other Travailers whatsoever, as had occasion to passe that way, being not unprovided also of such a number of servants, as might continuallie give attendance on all commers and goers. Two and fifty severall gates, standing alway wide open, and over each of them in great golden carracters was written, Welcome, welcome, and gave free admission to all commers whatsoever.
In this honourable order (observed as his estated custom) he persevered so long a while, as not onely the East parts, but also those in the west, were every where acquainted with his fame and renown. Being already well stept into yeares, but yet not wearie (therefore) of his great charge and liberality: it fortuned, that the rumor of his noble Hospitality, came to the eare of another gallant Gentleman, named Mithridanes, living in a Countrey not farre off from the other.
This Gentleman, knowing himselfe no lesse wealthy then Nathan, and enviously repining at his vertue and liberality, determined in his mind, to dim and obscure the others bright splendor, by making himselfe farre more famous. And having built a Palace answerable to that of Nathans, with like windings of gates, and welcom inscriptions; he beganne to extend immeasurable courtesies, unto all such as were disposed to visite him: so that (in a short while) hee grew very famous in infinite places. It chanced on a day, as Mithridanes sate all alone within the goodly Court of his Pallace: a poore woman entred at one of the gates, craving an almes of him, which she had; and returned in againe at a second gate, comming also to him, and had a second almes; continuing so still a dozen times; but at the thirteenth returning, Mithridanes saide to her: Good Woman, you goe and come very often, and still you are served with almes. When the old Woman heard these words, she said. O the liberality of Nathan! How honourable and wonderfull is that? I have past through two and thirty gates of his Palace, even such as are here, and at every one I receyved an almes, without any knowledgement taken of me, either by him, or any of his followers: and heere I have past but through thirteene gates, and am there both acknowledged and taken. Farewell to this house, for I never meane to visit it any more; with which words shee departed thence, and never after came thither againe.
When Mithridanes had a while pondered on her speeches, hee waxed much discontented, as taking the words of the olde woman, to extoll the renowne of Nathan, and darken or ecclipse his glorie, whereupon he said to himselfe. Wretched man as I am, when shall I attaine to the height of liberality, and performe such wonders, as Nathan doth? In seeking to surmount him, I cannot come neere him in the very meanest. Undoubtedly, I spend all my endeavour but in vaine, except I rid the world of him, which (seeing his age will not make an end of him) I must needs do with my own hands. In which furious and bloody determination (without revealing his intent to any one) he mounted on horse-backe, with few attendants in his company, and after three dayes journey, arrived where Nathan dwelt. He gave order to his men, to make no shew of beeing his servants, or any way to acknowledge him: but to provide them selves of convenient lodgings, untill they heard other tydings from him.
About Evening, and (in this manner) alone by himselfe, neere to the Palace of Nathan, he met him solitarily walking, not in pompous apparrell, whereby to bee distinguished from a meaner man: and, because he knew him not, neyther had heard any relation of his description, he demanded of him, if he knew where Nathan then was? Nathan, with a chearfull countenance, thus replyed. Faire Syr, there is no man in these parts, that knoweth better how to shew you Nathan then I do; and therefore, if you be so pleased, I will bring you to him. Mithridanes said, therein he should do him a great kindnesse: albeit (if it were possible) he would bee neyther knowne nor seene of Nathan. And that (quoth he) can I also do sufficiently for you, seeing it is your will to have it so, if you will goe along with me.
Dismounting from his horse, he walked on with Nathan, diversly discoursing, untill they came to the Pallace, where one of the servants taking Mithridanes his horse, Nathan rounded the fellow in the eare, that he should give warning to al. throughout the House, for revealing to the Gentleman, that he was Nathan; as accordingly it was performed. No sooner were they within the Pallace, but he conducted Mithridanes into a goodly chamber, wher none (as yet) had seene him, but such as were appointed to attend on him reverently; yea, and he did himselfe greatly honor him, as being loth to leave his company.
While thus Mithridanes conversed with him, he desired to know (albeit he respected him much for his yeares) what he was. Introth sir, answered Nathan, I am one of the meanest servants to Nathan, and from my child-hood, have made my selfe thus olde in his service: yet never hath he bestowed any other advancement on mee, then as you now see; in which respect, howsoever other men may commend him, yet I have no reason at all to do it. These Words, gave some hope to Mithridanes, that with a little more counsell, he might securely put in execution his wicked determination. Nathan likewise demaunded of him (but in very humble manner) of whence, and what he was, as also the businesse inviting him thither: offering him his utmost aide and counsell, in what soever consisted in his power.
Mithridanes sat an indifferent while meditating with his thoghts before ie would returne any answer: but at the last, concluding to repose confidence in him (in regard of his pretended discontentment) with many circumstantial perswasions, first for fidelity, next for constancie, and lastly for counsell and assistance, he declared to him truly what he was, the cause of his comming thither, and the reason urging him thereto. Nathan hearing these words, and the detestable deliberation of Mithridanes, became quite changed in himself: yet wisely making no outward appearance thereof, with a bold courage and setled countenance, thus he replyed.
Mithridanes, thy Father was a Noble Gentleman, and (in vertuous qualities) inferiour to none, from whom (as now I see) thou desirest not to degenerate, having undertaken so bold and high an enterprise, I meane, in being liberall and bountifull to all men. I do greatly commend the envy which thou bearest to the vertue of Nathan: because if there were many more such men, the world that is now wretched and miserable, would become good and conformable. As for the determination which thou hast disclosed to mee, I have sealed it up secretly in my soule: wherein I can better give thee counsell, then any especiall helpe or furtherance: and the course which I would have thee to observe, followeth thus in few words.
This window, which we now looke forth at, sheweth thee a smal wood or thicket of trees, being litle more then the quarter of a miles distance hence; whereto Nathan usually walketh every morning, and there continueth time long enough: there maist thou very easily meet him, and do whatsoever thou intendest to him. If thou kilst him, because thou maist with safety returne home unto thine owne abiding, take not the same way which guided thee thither, but another, lying on the left hand, and directing speedily out of the wood, as being not so much haunted as the other, but rather free from all resort, and surest for visiting thine owne countrey, after such a dismall deed is done.
When Mithridanes had receyved this instruction, and Nathan was departed from him; hee secretly gave intelligence to his men, (who likewise were lodged, as welcom strangers, in the same house) at what place they should stay for him the next morning. Night being passed over, and Nathan risen, his heart altred not a jot from his counsel given to Mithridanes, much lesse changed from anie part thereof: but all alone by himselfe, walked on to the wood, the place appointed for his death. Mithridanes also being risen, taking his Bow and Sword (for other weapons had he none) mounted on horsbacke, and so came to the wood, where (somewhat farre off) hee espyed Nathan walking, and no creature with him. Dismounting from his horse, he had resolved (before he would kill him) not onely to see, but also to heare him speake: so stepping roughly to him, and taking hold of the bonnet on his head, his face being then turned from him, he sayde. Old man, thou must dye. Whereunto Nathan made no other answer, but thus: Why then (belike) I have deserved it.
When Mithridanes heard him speake, and looked advisedly on his face, he knew him immediately to be the same man, that had entertained him so lovingly, conversed with him so familiarly, and counselled him so faithfully: all which overcomming his former fury, his harsh nature became meerly confounded with shame: So throwing downe his drawne sword, which he held readily prepared for the deede: he prostrated himselfe at Nathans feet, and in teares, spake in this manner. Now do I manifestly know (most loving Father) your admired bounty and liberalitie; considering, with what industrious providence, you made the meanes for your comming hither, prodigally to bestow your life on me, which I have no right unto, although you were so willing to part with it. But those high and supreame powers, more carefull of my dutie, then I my selfe: even at the very instant, and when it was most needfull, opened the eyes of my better understanding, which internall envy had closed up before. And therefore, looke how much you have bin forward to pleasure me; so much the more shame and punishment, I confesse my heinous transgression hath justly deserved: take therefore on me (if you please) such revenge, as you thinke (in justice) answerable to my sin.
Nathan lovingly raised Mithridanes from the ground, then kissing his cheeke, and tenderly embracing him, he said. Sonne, thou needest not to aske, much less to obtaine pardon, for any enterprise of thine, which thou canst not yet terme to be good or bad: because thou soughtest not to bereave me of my life, for any hatred thou barest me, but onely in coveting to be reputed the Woorthier man. Take then this assurance of me, and beleeve it constantly, that there is no man living, whom I love and honour, as I do thee: considering the greatnesse of thy minde, which consisteth not in the heaping up of money, as wretched and miserable Worldlings make it their onely felicity; but, contending in bounty to spend what is thine, didst hold it for no shame to kil me, thereby to make thy selfe so much the more worthily famous.
Nor is it any matter to be wondred at, in regard that Emperors, and the greatest Kings, hadde never made such extendure of their Dominions, and consequently of their renowne, by any other Art, then killing; yet not one man onely, as thou wouldst have done: but infinite numbers, burning whole Countries, and making desolate huge Townes and Cities, onely to enlarge their dominion, and further spreading of their fame. Wherefore, if for the increasing of thine owne renowne, thou wast desirous of my death: it is no matter of novelty, and therefore deserving the lesse mervaile, seeing men are slaine daily, and all for one purpose or other.
Mithridanes, excusing no further his malevolent deliberation, but rather commending the honest defence, which Nathan made on his behalfe; proceeded so farre in after discoursing, as to tel him plainely, that it did wondrously amaze him, how he durst come to the fatall appointed place, himselfe having so exactly plotted and contrived his owne death: whereunto Nathan returned this aunswere.
I would not have thee Mithridanes, to wonder at my counsel or determination; because, since age hath made mee Maister of mine owne will, and I resolved to doe that, wherein thou hast begun to follow me: never came any man to mee, whom I did not content (if I could) in any thing he demanded of me. It was thy fortune to come for my life, which when I saw thee so desirous to have it, I resolved immediately to bestow it on thee: and so much the rather, because thou shouldst not be the onely man, that ever departed hence, without enjoying whatsoever hee demanded. And, to the end thou mightst the more assuredly have it, I gave thee that advice, least by not enjoying mine, thou shouldest chance to loose thine owne. I have had the use of it full fourescore yeares, with the consummation of all my delights and pleasures: and well I know, that according to the course of Nature (as it fares with other men, and generally all things else) it cannot bee long before it must leave mee.
Wherefore, I hold it much better for me to give it away freely, as I have alwayes done my goods and treasure; then bee curious in keeping it, and suffer it to be taken from me (whether I will or no) by Nature. A small gift it is, if time make me up the full summe of an hundred yeares: how miserable is it then, to stand beholding but for foure or five, and all of them vexation too? Take it then I intreate thee, if thou wilt have it; for I never met with any man before (but thy selfe) that di desire it, nor (perhaps) shall finde any other to request it: for the longer I keepe it, the worse it wil be esteemed: and before it grow contemptible, take it I pray thee.
Mithridanes, being exceedingly confounded with shame, bashfully sayde: Fortune fore-fend, that I should take away a thing so precious as your life is, or once to have so vile a thought of it as lately I had; but rather then I would diminish one day thereof, I could wish, that my time might more amply enlarge it. Forthwith aunswered Nathan, saying. Wouldst thou (if thou couldst) shorten thine owne dayes, onely to lengthen mine? Why then thou wouldest have me to do that to thee, which (as yet) I never did unto any man, namely, robbe thee, to enrich my selfe. I will enstruct thee in a much better course, if thou wilt be advised by mee. Lusty and young, as now thou art, thou shalt dwell heere in my house, and be called by the name of Nathan. Aged, and spent with yeares, as thou seest I am, I will goe live in thy house, and bee called by the name of Mithridanes. So, both the name and place shall illustrate thy Glorie, and I live contentedly, without the very least thought of envie.
Deare Father, answered Mithridanes, if I knew so well howe to direct mine owne actions, as you doe, and alwayes have done, I would gladly accept your most liberall offer: but because I plainlie perceive, that my very best endeavours, must remayne darkened by the bright renowne of Nathan: I will never seeke to impayre that in another, which I cannot (by any means) increase in my selfe, but (as you have worthily taught me) live contented with my owne condition.
After these, and many more like loving speeches had passed between them; according as Nathan very instantly requested, Mithridanes returned back with him to the Pallace, where many dayes he highly honored and respected him, comforting and counselling him, to persever alwayes in his honourable determination. But in the end, when Mithridanes could abide there no longer, because necessary occasions called him home: he departed thence with his men, having found by good experience, that hee could never goe beyond Nathan in liberality.
Wherein is shewne, that true love hath alwayes bin, and so still is, the occasion of many great and worthy Courtesies
Signior Gentile de Carisendi, being come from Modena, took a Gentlewoman, named Madam Catharina, forth of a grave, wherin she was buried for dead: which act he did, in regard of his former honest affection to the said Gentlewoman. Madame Catharina remaining there afterward, and delivered of a goodly Sonne: was (by Signior Gentile) delivered to her owne Husband, named Signior Nicoluccio Caccianimico, and the yong infant with her.
By judgment of all the honorable assembly, it was reputed wonderfull, that a man should be so bountifull, as to give away his owne life, and to his hatefull enemy. In which respect, it passed with generall affirmation, that Nathan (in the vertue of liberallity) had exceeded Alphonso, King of Spain, but (especially) the Abbot of Clugny. So, after every one had delivered their opinion, the King, turning himselfe to Madame Lauretta, gave her such a signe, as well instructed her understanding, that she should be the next in order, whereto she gladly yeelding, began in this manner.
Youthfull Ladies, the discourses already past, have been so worthy and magnificent, yea, reaching to such a height of glorious splendour; as (me thinkes) there remaineth no more matter, for us that are yet to speake, whereby to enlarge so famous an Argument, and in such manner as it ought to be: except we lay hold on the actions of love, wherein is never any want of subject, it is so faire and spacious a field to walke in. Wherefore, as well in behalfe of the one, as advancement of the other, whereto our instant age is most of all inclined: I purpose to acquaint you with a generous and magnificent act, of an amourous Gentleman, which when it shall be duely considered on, perhaps will appeare equall to any of the rest. At least, if it may passe for currant, that men may give away their treasures, forgive mighty injuries, and lay downe life it selfe, honour and renowne (which is farre greater) to infinite dangers, only to attaine any thing esteemed and affected.
Understand then (Gracious hearers) that in Bologna, a very famous City of Lombardicy there lived sometime a Knight, most highly respected for his vertues, named Signior Gentile de Carisendi, who (in his yonger dayes) was enamoured of a Gentlewoman, called Madam Catharina, the Wife of Signior Nicoluccio Caccianimico. And because during the time of his amourous pursuite, he found but a sorry enterchange of affection from the Lady; hee went (as hopelesse of any successe) to be Potestate of Modena, whereto he was called by place and order.
At the same time, Signior Nicoluccio being absent from Bologna, and his Lady at a Farme-house of his in the Countrey (about three miles distant from the City) because she was great with child,; and somewhat neere the time of her teeming: it came to passe, that some dangerous accident befell her, which was so powerfull in operation, as no signe of life appeared remained in her, but she was reputed (even in the judgement of the best Phisitians, whereof she wanted no attendance) to be verily dead. And because in the opinion of her parents and neerest kinred, the time for her deliverance was yet so farre off, as the Infant within her, wanted much of a perfect creature: they made the lesse mourning; but in the next Church, as also the vault belonging to her Ancestors, they gave her buriall very speedily.
Which tydings comming to the hearing of Signior Gentile, by one that was his endeared friend: Although (while she lived) he could never be gracious n her favour, yet her so sudden death did greatly grieve him, whereupon he discoursed in this sort with himselfe. Deare Madame Catharina, I am not a little sorry for thy death, although (during thy life-time) I was scarcely worthy of one kind looke: Yet now being dead, thou canst not prohibite me, but I may robbe thee of a kisse. No sooner had hee spoke the words, but it beeing then night, and taking such order, as none might know of his departure: hee mounted on horsebacke, accompanied onely with one servant, and stayed no where, till hee came to the vault where the Lady was buried. Which when he had opened, with instruments convenient for the purpose, he descended downe into the vault, and kneeled downe by the Beere whereon she lay, and in her wearing garments, according to the usuall manner; with teares trickling mainly downe his cheekes, he bestowed infinite sweet kisses on her.
But as we commonly see, that mens desires are never contented, but still will presume on further advantages, especially such as love entirely: so fared it with Gentile, who being once minded to get him gone, as satisfied with the oblation of his kisses; would needs yet step backe againe, saying. Why should I not touch her yvory breast, the Adamant that drew all desires to adore her? Ah let me touch it now, for never hereafter can I bee halfe so happy. Overcome with this alluring appetite, gently he laid his hand upon her breast, with the like awefull respect, as if she were living, and holding it so an indifferent while: either he felt, or his imagination so perswaded him, the heart of the Lady to beate and pant. Casting off all fond feare, and the warmth of his increasing the motion: his inward soule assured him, that she was not dead utterly, but had some small sense of life remaining in her, whereof he would needs be further informed.
So gently as possible he could, and with the helpe of his man, he tooke her forth of the monument, and layingher softly on his horse before him, conveighed her closely to his house in Bologna. Signior Gentile had a worthy Lady to his Mother, a woman of great wisdome and vertue, who understanding by her Sonne, how matters had happened, moved with compassion, and suffering no one in the house to know what was done, made a good fire, and very excellent Bathe, which recalled back againe wrongwandering life. Then fetching a vehement sigh, opening her eyes, and looking very strangly about her, she said. Alas! where am I now? whereto the good old Lady kindly replyed, saying. Comfort your selfe Madame, for you are in a good place.
Her spirits being in better manner met together, and she still gazing every way about her, not knowing well where she was, and secing Signior Gentile standing before her: he entreated his mother to tell her by what meanes she came thither; which the good old Lady did, Gentile himselfe helping to relate the whole history. A while she grieved and lamented, but afterward gave them most hearty thankes, humbly requesting, that, in regard of the love he had formerly borne her, in his house she might finde no other usage, varying from the honour of her selfe and her Husband, and when day was come, to be conveighed home to her owne house. Madame, answered Signior Gentile, whatsoever I sought to gaine from you in former dayes, I never meane, either here, or any where else, to motion any more. But seeing it hath been my happy fortune, to prove the blessed means of reducing you from death to life: you shal find no other entertainment here, then as if you were mine owne Sister. And yet the good deed which I have this night done for you doth well deserve some courteous requitall: in which respect, I would have you not to deny me one favour, which I will presume to crave of you. Whereto the Lady lovingly replyed, that she was willing to grant it; provided, it were honest, and in her power: whereto Signior Gentile thus answered.
Madame, your parents, kindred and friends, and generally all throughout Bologna, doe verily thinke you to be dead, wherefore there is not any one, that will make any inquisition after you: in which regard, the favour I desire from you, is no more but to abide here secretly with my Mother, untill such time as I returne from Modena, which shall be very speedily. The occasion why I move this motion, aymeth at this end, that in presence of the chiefest persons of our City, I may make a gladsome present of you to your Husband. The Lady knowing her selfe highly beholding to the Knight, and the request he made to be very honest: disposed her selfe to doe as he desired (although she earnestly longed, to glad her parents and kindred with seeing her alive) and made her promise him on her faith, to effect it in such manner, as he pleased to appoint and give her direction.
Scarcely were these words concluded, but she felt the custome of women to come upon her, with the paines and throwes incident to childing: wherefore, with helpe of the aged Lady, Mother to Signior Gentile, it was not long before her deliverance of a goodly Sonne, which greatly augmented the joy of her and Gentile, who tooke order, that all things belonging to a woman in such a case, were not wanting, but she was as carefully respected, even as if she had been his owne Wife. Secretly he repaired to Modena, where having given direction for his place of authority; he returned back againe to Bologna, and there made preparation for a great and solemne feast, appointing who should be his invited guests, the very chiefest persons in Bologna, and (among them) Signior Nicoluccio Caccianimico the especiall man.
After he was dismounted from horsebacke, and found so good company attending for him (the Lady also, more faire and healthful then ever, and the Infant lively disposed) he sate downe at the Table with his guests, causing them to be served in most magnificent manner, with plenty of all delicates that could be devised, and never before was there such a joviall feast. About the ending of dinner, closely he made the Lady acquainted with his further intention, and likewise in what order every thing should be done, which being effected, he returned to his company, and used these speeches.
Honourable friends, I remember a discourse sometime made unto me, concerning the Countrey of Persia, and a kind of custome there observed, not to be misliked in mine opinion. When any one intended to honour his friend in effectuall manner, he invited him home to his house, and there would shew him the thing, which with greatest love he did respect; were it Wife, Friend, Sonne, Daughter, or any thing else whatsoever; wherewithall hee spared not to affirme, that as he shewed him those choyce delights, the like view he should have of his heart, if with any possibility it could be done; and the very same custome I meane now to observe here in our City. You have vouchsafed to honour me with your presence, at this poore homely dinner of mine, and I will welcome you after the Persian manner, in shewing you the jewell, which (above all things else in the world) I ever have most respectively esteemed. But before I doe it, I crave your favourable opinions in a doubt, which I will plainely declare unto you.
If any man having in his house a good and faithfull servant, who falling into extremity of sickenesse, shall be throwne forth into the open street, without any care or pitty taken on him: A stranger chanceth to passe by, and (moved with compassion of his weakenesse) carryeth him home to his owne house, where using all charitable and not sparing any cost, he recovereth the sicke person to his former health. I now desire to know, if keeping the said restored person, and imploying him about his owne businesse: the first Master (by pretending his first right) may lawfully complaine of the second, and yeeld him backe againe to the first master, albeit he doe make challenge of him?
All the Gentlemen, after many opinions passing among them, agreed altogether in one sentence, and gave charge to Signior Nicoluccio Caccianimico, (because he was an excellent and elegant speaker) to give answere for them all. First, he commended the custome observed in Persia, saying, he jumpt in opinion with all the rest, that the first Master had no right at all to the servant, having not onely (in such necessity) forsaken him, but also cast him forth into the comfortlesse street. But for the benefits and mercy extended to him; it was more then manifest, that the recovered person, was become justly servant to the second Master, and in detayning him from the first, hee did not offer him any injury at all. The whole Company sitting at the Table (being all very wise and worthy men) gave their verdict likewise with the confession of Signior Nicoluccio Caccianimico. Which answere did not a little please the Knight; and so much the rather, because Nicoluccio had pronounced it, affirming himselfe to be of the same minde.
So, sitting in a pretended musing a while, at length he said. My honourable guests, it is now more then high time, that I should doe you such honour, as you have most justly deserved, by performing the promise made unto you. Then calling two of his servants, he sent them to Madame Catharina (whom he had caused to adorne her self in excellent manner) entreating her, that she would be pleased to grace his guests with her presence. Catharina, having deckt her child in costly habiliments, layed it in her armes, and came with the servants into the dyning Hall, and sate down (as the Knight had appointed) at the upper end of the Table, and then Signior Gentile spake thus. Behold, worthy Gentlemen, this is the jewell which I have most affected, and intend to love none other in the world; be you my judges, whether I have just occasion to doe so, or no? The Gentlemen saluting her with respective reverence, said to the Knight; that he had great reason to affect her: And viewing her advisedly, many of them thought her to be the very same woman (as indeed she was) but that they beleeved her to be dead.
But above all the rest, Nicoluccio Caccianimico could never be satisfied with beholding her; and, enflamed with earnest desire, to know what she was, could not refraine (seeing the Knight was gone out of the roome) but demaunded of her, whether she were of Bologna, or a stranger? when the Lady heard her selfe to be thus questioned, and by her Husband, it seemed painefull to her, to containe from answering: Neverthelesse, to perfect the Knights intended purpose, she sate silent. Others demaunded of her, whether the sweet Boy were hers, or no; and some questioned, if she were Gentiles Wife, or no, or else his Kinsewoman; to all which demaunds, she returned not any answere. But when the Knight came to them againe, some of them said to him. Sir, this woman is a goodly creature, but she appeareth to be dumbe, which were great pitty, if it should be so. Gentlemen (quoth he) it is no small argument of her vertue, to sit still and silent at this instant. Tell us then (said they) of whence, and what she is. Therein (quoth he) I will quickely resolve you, upon your conditionall promise: that none of you do remove from his place, whatsoever shall be said or done, untill I have fully delivered my minde. Every one bound himselfe by solemne promise, to perform what he had appointed, and the Tables being voided, as also the Carpets laid; then the Knight (sitting downe by the Lady) thus began.
Worthy Gentlemen, this Lady is that true and faithfull servant, wherof I moved the question to you, whom I tooke out of the cold street, where her parents, kindred and friends (making no account at all of her) threw her forth, as a thing vile and unprofitable. Neverthelesse, such hath been my care and cost, that I have rescued her out of deaths griping power; and, in a meere charitable disposition, which honest affection caused me to beare her; of a body, full of terror and affrighting (as then she was) I have caused her to become thus lovely as you see. But because you may more apparantly discerne, in what manner this occasion happened; I will lay it open to you in more familiar manner. Then he began the whole history, from the originall of his unbeseeming affection to her (in regard she was a worthy mans wife) and consequently, how all had happened to the instant houre, to the no meane admiration of all the hearers, adding withall. Now Gentlemen (quoth he) if you varry not from your former opinion, and especially Signior Nicoluccio Caccianimico: this Lady (by good right) is mine, and no man els by any just title, can lay any claime to her.
All sate silent, without answering one word, as expecting what he intended further to say: but in the meane while, Nicoluccio, the parents and kindred, but chiefely the Lady her selfe, appeared as halfe melted into teares with weeping. But Signior Gentile, starting up from the Table, taking the Infant in his arme, and leading the Lady by the hand, going to Nicoluccio, thus spake. Rise Sir, I will not give thee thy wife, whom both her kindred and thine, threw forth into the street: but I will bestow this Lady on thee, being my Gossip, and this sweet Boy my God-sonne, who was (as I am verily perswaded) begotten by thee, I standing witnesse for him at the Font of Baptisme, and give him mine owne name Gentile. Let me entreat thee, that, although she hath lived here in mine house, for the space of three monethes, she should not be lesse welcome to thee, then before: for I sweare to thee upon my soule, that my former affection to her (how unjust soever) was the onely meanes of preserving her life: and more honestly she could not live, with Father, Mother, or thy selfe, then she hath done here with mine owne Mother.
Having thus spoken, he turned to the Lady, saying. Madame, I now discharge you of all promises made me, delivering you to your Husband franke and free: And when he had given him the Lady, and the child in his armes, he returned to his place, and sate downe againe. Nicoluccio, with no meane joy and hearty contentment received both his wife and childe, being before farre from expectation of such an admirable comfort; returning the Knight infinite thankes (as all the rest of the Company pany the like) who could not refraine from weeping for meere joy, for such a strange and wonderful accident: every one highly commending Gentile, and such also as chanced to heare thereof. The Lady was welcommed home to her owne house, with many moneths of joviall feasting, and as she passed through the streets, all beheld her with admiration, to be so happily recovered from her grave Signior Gentile lived long after, a loyall friend to Nicoluccio and his Lady, and all that were well-willers to them.
What thinke you now Ladies? Can you imagine, because a King gave away his Crowne and Scepter; and an Abbot (without any cost to himselfe) reconciled a Malefactor to the Pope; and an old idle-headed man, yeelding to the mercy of his enemy: that all those actions are comparable to this of Signior Gentile? Youth and ardent affection, gave him a just and lawfull title, to her who was free (by imagined death) from Husband, Parents, and all friends else, she being so happily wonne into his owne possession. Yet honestly not onely overswayed the heate of desire, which in many men is violent and immoderate: but with a bountifull and liberall soule, that which he coveted beyond all hopes else, and had within his owne command; he freely gave away. Beleeve me (bright Beauties) not any of the other (in a true and unpartiall judgement ) are worthy to be equalled with this, or stiled by the name of magnificent actions.
Admonishing all ladies and gentlewomen, that are desirous to preserve their chastity, free from all Blemish and taxation: To make no promise of yeelding to any, under a compact or covenant, how impossible soever it may seeme to be
Madame Dianora, the Wife of Signior Gilberto, being immodestly affected by Signior Ansaldo, to free her selfe from his tedious importunity, she appointed him to performe (in her judgement) an act of impossibility; namely, to give her a Garden, as plentifully stored with fragrant Flowers in January, as in the flourishing moneth of May. Ansaldo, by meanes of a bond which he made to a Magitian, performed her request. Signior Gilberto, the Ladyes Husband, gave consent, that his Wife should fulfill her promise made to Ansaldo. Who hearing the bountifull mind of her Husband; released her of her promise: And the Magitian likewise discharged Signior Ansaldo, without taking any thing of him.
Not any one in all the Company, but extolled the worthy Act of Signior Gentile to the skies; till the King gave command to Madame Aemillia, that she should follow next with her Tale, who boldly stepping up, began in this order.
Gracious Ladies, I thinke there is none heere present among us, but (with good reason) may maintaine, that Signiour Gentile performed a magnificent deede; but whosoever saith, it is impossible to do more; perhaps is ignorant in such actions, as can and may be done, as I meane to make good unto you, by a Novell not overlong or tedious.
The Countrey of Fretulium, better knowne by the name of Forum Julij; although it be subject to much cold, yet it is pleasant, in regard of many goodly Mountaines, Rivers, and cleare running Springs, wherewith it is not meanly stored. Within those Territories, is a City called Udina, where sometime lived a faire and Noble Lady, named Madame Dianora, WiFe to a rich and woorthie Knight, called Signior Gilberto, a man of very great fame and merite.
This beautiful Lady, beeing very modest and vertuously inclined, was highly affected by a Noble Baron of those parts, tearmed by the name of Signior Ansaldo Gradense; a man of very great spirit, bountifull, active in Armes, and yet very affable and courteous, which caused him to be the better respected. His love to this Lady was extraordinary, hardly to bee contained within any moderate compasse, striving to bee in like manner affected of her: to which end, she wanted no daily solicitings, Letters, Ambassages and Love-tokens, all proving to no purpose.
This vertuous Lady, being wearied with his often temptations, and seeing, that by denying whatsoever he demanded, yet he wold not give over his suite, but so much the more importunatly stil pursued her: began to bethinke her selfe, how she might best be rid of him, by imposing some such taske upon him, as should bee impossible (in her opinion) for him to effect. An olde woman, whom hee imployed for his continual messenger to her, as shee came one day about her ordinary errand, with her she communed in this manner. Good woman (quoth she) thou hast so often assured me, that Signior Ansaldo loveth me above all other Women in the world, offering me wonderfull gifts and presents in his name, which I have alwayes refused, and so stil wil do, in regard I am not to be woon by any such allurements: yet if I could be soundly perswaded, that his affection is answerable to thy peremptory protestations, I shoulde (perhaps) be the sooner wonne, to listen to his suite in milder manner, then hitherto I have done. Wherefore, if he wil give me assurance, to perform such a businesse as I mean to enjoyne him, he shall the speedier heare better answer from me, and I wil confirme it with mine oath.
Wonderfully pleased was Mistresse Maquerella, to heare a reply of such comfortable hope; and therefore desired the Lady, to tel hir what she wold have done. Listen to me wel (answerd Madam Dianora) the matter which I would have him to effect for me, is; without the wals of our City, and during the month of Januarie nexte ensuing, to provide me a Garden, as fairely furnished with all kind of fragrant flowers, as the flourishing month of May can yeelde no better. If he be not able to accomplish this imposition, then I command him, never hereafter to solicite me any more, either by thee, or any other whatsoever: for, if he do importune me afterward, as hitherto I have concealed his secret conspiring, both from my husband, and all my friends; so wil I then lay his dishonest suite open to the world, that he may receive punishment accordingly, for offering to wrong a Gentleman in his wife.
When Signior Ansaldo heard her demand, and the offer beside thereuppon made him (although it seemed no easie matter, but a thing meerly impossible to be done) he considered advisedly, that she made this motion to no other end, but onely to bereave him of all his hope, ever to enjoy what so earnestly hee desired: neverthelesse, he would not so give it utterly over, but would needs approve what could be done. Heereupon, hee sent into divers partes of the world, to find out any one that was able to advise him in this doubtfull case. In the end, one was brought to him, who beeing well recompenced for his paines, by the Art of Nigromancie would under take to do it. With him Signior Ansaldo covenanted, binding himselfe to pay a great summe of mony, upon performance of so rare a deed, awaiting (in hopefull expectation) for the month of januaries comming. It being come, and the weather then in extreamity of cold, every being covered with ice and snow, the Magitian prevailed so by his Art, that after the Christmas Holy dayes were past, and the Calends of january entred: in one night, and without the Cittie Wals, the goodliest Garden of flowers and fruites, was sodainely sprung up, as (in opinion of such as beheld it) never was the like seen before. Now Ladies, I think I need not demand the question, whether Signior Ansaldo were wel pleased, or no, who going to beholde t, saw it most plenteously stored, with al kind of fruit trees, flowers, herbes and plants, as no one could be named, that was wanting in this artificiall garden. And having gathered some pretty store of them, secretly he sent them to Madam Dianora, inviting hir to come see her Garden, perfected according to her owne desire, and uppon view thereof, to confesse the integrity of his love to her; considering and remembring withall, the promise shee had made him under solemne oath, that she might be reputed for a woman of her word.
When the Lady beheld the fruites and flowers, and heard many other thinges recounted, so wonderfully growing in the same Garden: began to repent her rash promise made; yet notwithstanding her repentance, as Women are covetous to see all rarities; so, accompanied with divers Ladies and Gentlewomen more, she went to see the Garden; and having commended it with much admiration, she returned home againe, the most sorrowfull Woman as ever lived, considering what she had tyed her selfe to, for enjoying this Garden. So excessive grew her griefe and affliction, that it could not be so clouded or concealed: but her Husband tooke notice of it, and would needs understand the occasion thereof. Long the Lady (in regard of shame and modesty) sate without returning any answer; but being in the end constrained, she disclosd the whol History to him.
At the first, Signior Gilberto waxed exceeding angry, but when he further considered withall, the pure and honest intention of his Wife; wisely he pacified his former distemper, and saide. Dianora, it is not the part of a wise and honest woman, to lend an eare to ambassages of such immodest nature, much lesse to compound or make agreement for her honesty, with any person, under any condition whatsoever. Those perswasions which the heart listeneth to, by allurement of the eare, have greater power then many do imagine, and nothing is so uneasie or difficult, but in a lovers judgement it appeareth possible. Ill didst thou therefore first of all to listen, but worse (afterward) to contract.
But, because I know the purity of thy soule, I wil yeelde (to disoblige thee of thy promise) as perhaps no wise man else would do: mooved thereto onely by feare of the Magitian, who seeing Signior Ansaldo displeased, because thou makest a mockage of him; will do some such violent wrong to us, as we shal be never able to recover. Wherefore, I would have thee go to Signior Ansaldo, and if thou canst (by any meanes) obtaine of him, the safe-keeping of thy honour, and ful discharge of thy promise; it shal be an eternall fame to thee, and the crowne of a most victorious conquest. But if it must needs be otherwise, lend him thy body onely for once, but not thy wil: for actions committed by constraint, wherein the will is no way guilty, are halfe pardonable by the necessity.
Madame Dianora, hearing her husbands words, wept exceedingly, and avouched, that shee had not deserved any such especiall grace of him, and therefore she would rather dye, then doe it. Neverthelesse, it was the wil of her Husband to have it so, and therefore (against her wil) she gave consent. The next morning, by the breake of day, Dianora arose, and attiring her selfe in her very meanest garments, with two servingmen before her, and a waiting Woman following, she went to the lodging of Signior Ansaldo, who hearing that Madam Dianora was come to visite him, greatly mervailed, and being risen, he called the Magitian to him, saying. Come go with me, and see what effect will follow upon thine Art. And being come into her presence, without any base or inordinate appetite, he did her humble reverence, embracing her honestly, and taking her into a goodly Chamber, where a faire fire was readilie prepared, causing her to sit downe by him, he sayde unto her as followeth.
Madam, I humbly intreat you to resolve me, if the affection I have long time borne you, and yet do stil, deserve any recompence at all: you would be pleased then to tel me truly, the occasion of your instant comming hither, and thus attended as you are. Dianora, blushing with modest shame, and the teares trickling mainly down her faire cheekes, thus answered. Signior Ansaldo, not for any Love I beare you, or care of my faithfull promise made to you, but onely by the command of my husband (who respecting more the paynes and trave of your inordinate love, then his owne reputation and honor, or mine;) hath caused me to come hither: and by vertue of his command, am ready (for once onely) to fulfill your pleasure, but far from any will or consent in my selfe. If Signior Ansaldo were abashed at the first, hee began now to be more confounded with admiration, when he heard the Lady speake in such strange manner: and being much moved with the liberall command of her husband, he began to alter his inflamed heate, into most honourable respect and compassion, returning her this answer.
Most noble Lady, the Gods forbid (if it be so as you have sayd) that I should (Villain-like) soile the honour of him, that takes such unusuall compassion of my unchaste appetite. And therefore, you may remaine heere so long as you please, in no other condition, but as mine owne naturall borne Sister; and likewise, you may depart freely when you will: conditionally, that (on my behalfe) you render such thankes to your husband, as you thinke convenient for his great bounty towards me, accounting me for ever heereafter, as his loyall Brother and faithfull servant. Dianora having well observed his answer, her heart being ready to mount out at her mouth with joy, said. All the world could never make mee beleeve (considering your honourable minde and honesty) that it would happen otherwise to me, then now it hath done, for which noble courtesie, I will continually remaine obliged to you. So, taking her leave, she returned home honorably attended to her husband, and relating to him what had happened, it proved the occasion of begetting intire love and friendship, betweene himselfe and the Noble Lord Ansaldo.
Now concerning the skilfull Magitian, to whom Ansaldo meant to give the bountifull recompence agreed on betweene them, hee having seene the strange liberality, which the husband expressed to Signior Ansaldo, and that of Ansaldo to the Lady, hee presently saide. Great jupiter strike me dead with thunder, having my selfe seene a husband so liberall of his honour, and you Sir of true noble kindnesse, if I should not be the like of my recompence: for, perceiving it to be so worthily imployed, I am well contented that you shal keepe it. The Noble Lord was modestly ashamed, and strove (so much as in him lay) that he should take all, or the greater part thereof: but seeing he laboured meerly in vaine, after the third day was past, and the Magitian had destroyed the Garden againe, hee gave him free liberty to depart, quite controlling all fond and unchaste affection in himselfe, either towards Dianora, or any Lady else, and living (ever after) as best becommeth any Nobleman to do.
What say you now Ladies? Shal wee make any account of the woman wel-neere dead, and the kindnesse growne cold in Signiour Gentile, by losse of his former hopes, comparing them with the liberality of Signior Ansaldo, affecting more fervently, then ever the other did? And being (beyond hope) possessed of the booty, which (above all things else in the world) he most desired to have, to part with it meerly in fond compassion? I protest (in my judgement) the one is no way comparable to the other; that of Geitile, with this last of Signior Ansaldo.
Sufficiently declaring, that how mighty soever the power of love is: Yet a magnanimous and truly generous Heart, it can by no meanes fully conquer
Victioious King Chrles, sirnamed the Aged, and first of that Name, fell in love with a yong Maiden, named Genevera, daughter to an ancient Knight, called Signior Neri degli Uberti. And waxing ashamed of his amorous folly, caused both Genevera, and her fayre Sister Isotta, to be joyned in marriage with two Noble Gentlemen; the one named Signior Maffeo da Palizzi, and the other, Signior Gulielmo della Magna.
Who is able to expresse ingeniously, the diversity of opinions, which hapned among the Ladies, in censuring on the act of Madame Dianora, and which of them was most liberall, eithet Signior Gilberto the Husband, Lord Ansaldo the importunate suiter, or the Magitian, expecting to bee bountifully rewarded. Surely, it is a matter beyond my capacity: but after the King had permitted their disputation a long while, looking on Madam Fiammetta, he commanded that she should report her Novel to make an end of their controversie; and she (without any further delaying) thus began. I did alwaies (Noble Ladies) hold it fit and decent, that in such an assembly as this of ours is, every one ought to speake so succinctly and plainly: that the obscure understanding, concerning the matters spoken of, should have no cause of disputation. For disputes do much better become the Colledges of Schollers, then to be among us, who hardly can manage our Distaves or Samplers. And therefore I, who intend to relate something, which (peradventure) might appeare doubtfull: will forbeare (seeing you in such a difference; for that which hath bin spoken alreadie) to use any difficult discourse; but will speake of one, a man of no meane ranke or quality, being both a valiant and vertuous King, and what he did, without any impeach or blemish to his honor.
I make no doubt, but you have often heard report, of king Charls the Aged, and first of that name, by reason of his magnificent enterprises, as also his most glorious victory, which he obtaind against King Manfred, when the Ghibellines were expulsed foorth of Florence, and the Guelphes returned thither againe. By which occasion, an ancient knight, named Signior Neri degli Uberti; forsaking then the City, with all his family and great store of wealth, woulde live under any other obedience, then the awful power or command of King Charles. And coveting to be in some solitary place, where he might finish the remainder of his dayes in peace, he went to Castello da Mare; where, about a Bow shoote distance from all other dwelling houses, hee bought a parcel of ground, plentifully stored with variety of Trees, bearing Olives, Chesnuts, Orenges, Lemons, Pomcitrons, and other excellent frutages, wherewith the Countrey flourisheth abundantly. There he built a very faire and commodious house, and planted (close by it) a pleasant Garden, in the middst whereof, because he had great plenty of water: according as other men use to do, being in the like case so wel provided; he made a very goodly Pond, which forthwith had all kinde of Fish swimming in it, it being his daily care and endevour, to tend his Garden, and encrease his Fish-pond.
It fortuned, that King Charles in the Summer time) for his pleasure and recreation, went to repose himselfe (for some certayne dayes) at Castello de Mare, where having heard report of the beautie and singularitie of Signiour Neries Garden; hee grew very desirous to see it. But when he understoode to whome it belonged, then he entred into consideration with himselfe, that hee was an ancient Knight, maintaining a contrarie faction to his: wherefore, he thought it fit to goe in some familiar manner, and with no trayne attending on him. Wherupon he sent him word, that he wold come to visit him, with foure Gentlemen onely in his companie, meaning to sup with him in his Garden the next night ensuing. The newes was very welcome to Signior Neri, who took order in costly maner for all things to bee done, entertaining the King most joyfully into his beautifull Garden.
When the King had survayed all, and the house likewise, he commended it beyond all other comparison, and the Tables being placed by the Ponds side, he washed his hands therin, and then sat down at the the Count, Sir Guy de Montforte (who was one of them which came in his company) to sitte downe by him, and Signior Neri on his other side. As for the other three of the traine, hee commaunded them to attend on his service, as Signior Neri had given order. There wanted no exquisite Viandes and excellent Wines, all performed in most decent manner, and without the least noise or disturbance, wherein the King tooke no little delight.
Feeding thus in this contented manner, and fancying the solitude of the place: sodainly entred into the garden, two yong Damosels, each aged about some fifteene yeares, their haire resembling wyars of Gold, and curiously curled, having Chaplets (made like provinciall Crownes) on their heades, and their delicate faces, expressing them to be rather Angels, then mortall creatures, such was the appearance of their admired beauty. Their under-garments were of costly Silke, yet white as the finest snow, framed (from the girdle upward) close to their bodies, but spreading largely downward, like the extendure of a Pavillion, and so descending to the feet. She that first came in sight, caried on her shoulder a couple of fishing Netts, which she held fast with her left hand, and in the right she carryed a long staffe. The other following her, had on her left shoulder a Frying-pan, and under the same arme a small Faggot of woodde, with a Trevit in her hand; and in the other hand a pot of Oyle, as also a brand of fire flaming.
No sooner did the King behold them, but he greatly wondered what they should be; and, without uttering one word, attended to listen what they wold say. Both the yong damosels, when they were come before the King, with modest and bashfull gesture, they performed very humble reverence to him, and going to the place of entrance into the Pond, she who held the Trevit, set it downe on the ground, with the other things also; and taking the staffe which the other Damosell carried: they both went into the Pond, the water whereof reached so high as to their bosomes. One of the Servants to Signior Neri, presently kindled the fire, setting the Trevit over it, and putting Oyle into the Frying-panne, held it uppon the Trevit, awaiting untill the Damosels should cast him uppe Fish. One of them did beate a place with the staffe, where she was assured of the Fishes resort, and the other hadde lodged the Nets so conveniently, as they quickly caught great store of Fish, to the Kings high contentment, who observed their behaviour very respectively.
As the Fishes were throwne up to the servant, alive as they were, he tooke the best and fairest of them, and brought them to the Table, where they skipt and mounted before the King, Count Guy de Montfort and the Father: some leaping from the Table into the Pond againe, and others, the King (in a pleasing humour) voluntarily threw backe to the Damosels. jesting and sporting in this manner, till the servant had drest divers of them in exquisite order, and served them to the Table according as Signior Neri had ordained. When the Damosels saw the Fishes service performed, and perceived that they had fished sufficiently: they came forth of the water, their garments then (being wet) hanging close about them, even as if they hid no part of their bodies. Each having taken those things againe, which at first they brought with them, and saluting the king in like humility as they did before, returned home to the mansion house.
The King and Count likewise, as also the other attending Gentlemen, having duely considered the behavior of the Damosels: commended extraordinarily their beauty and faire feature, with those other perfections of Nature so gloriously shining in them. But (beyond all the rest) the King was boundlesse in his praises given of them, having observed their going into the water, the equall carriage there of them both, their comming forth, and gracious demeanor at their departing (yet neither knowing of whence, or what they were) he felt his affection very violently flamed, and grew into such an amourous desire to them both, not knowing which of them pleased him most, they so choisely resembled one another in all things.
But after he had dwelt long enough upon these thoughts, he turned him selfe to Signior Neri, and demanded of him, what Damosels they were. Sir (answered Neri) they are my Daughters, both brought into the world at one birth, and Twinnes, the one being named Genevera the faire, and the other Isotta the amiable. The King began againe to commend them both, and gave him advise to get them both married: wherein he excused himselfe, alleadging, that he wanted power to doe it. At the same time instant, no other service remaining to be brought to the table, except Fruit and Cheese, the two Damosels returned againe, attyred in goodly Roabes of Carnation Sattin, formed after the Turkish fashion, carrying two fayre Silver dishes in their hands, filled with divers delicate Fruites, such as the season then afforded, setting them on the Table before the King. Which being done, they retyred a little backeward, and with sweet melodious voyces, sung a ditty, beginning in this manner.
Where Love presumeth into place:
Let no one sing in Loves disgrace.
So sweet and pleasing seemed the Song to the King (who tooke no small delight, both to heare and behold the Damosels) even as if all the Hirarchies of Angels were descended from the Heavens to sing before him. No sooner was the Song ended, but (humbly on their knees) they craved favour of the King for their departing. Now, although their departure was greatly grieving to him, yet (in outward appearance) he seemed willing to grant it.
When Supper was concluded, and the King and his Company remounted on horsebacke: thankefully departing from Signior Neri, the King returned to his lodging, concealing there closely his affection to himselfe, and whatsoever important affaires happened: yet he could not forget the beauty, and gracious behaviour of Genevera the faire (for whose sake he loved her Sister likewise) but became so linked to her in vehement maner, as he had no power to think on any thing else. Pretending other urgent occasions, he fell into great familiarity with Signior Neri, visiting very often his goodly Garden; onely to see his faire Daughter Genevera, the Adamant which drew him thither.
When he felt his amourous assaults, to exceed all power of longer sufferance: he resolved determinately with himselfe, (being unprovided of any better meanes) to take her away from her Father, and not onely she, but her Sister also; discovering both his love and intent to Count Guy de Montforte, who being a very worthy and vertuous Lord, and meet to be a Counseller for a King, delivered his mind in this manner.
Gracious Lord, I wonder not a little at your speeches, and so much the greater is my admiration, because no man els can be subject to the like, in regard I have knowne you from the time of your infancy; even to this instant houre, and alwayes your carriage to bee one and the same. I could never perceive in your youthfull dayes (when love should have the greatest meanes to assaile you) any such oppressing passions: which is now the more novell and strange to me, to heare it but said, that you being old, and called the Aged; should be growne amorous, surely to me it seemeth a miracle. And if it appertained to me to reprehend you in this case, I know well enough what I could say. Considering, you have yet your Armour on your backe, in a Kingdome newly conquered, among a Nation not knowne to you, full of falsehoods, breaches, and treasons; all which are no meane motives to care and needfull respect. But having now wone a little leisure, to rest your selfe a while from such serious affaires; can you give way to the idle suggestions of Love? Beleeve me Sir, it is no act becomming a magnanimious King; but rather the giddy folly of a young braine.
Moreover you say (which most of all I mislike) that you intend to take the two Virgines from the Knight, who hath given you entertainment in his house beyond his ability, and to testifie how much he honoured you, he suffered you to have a sight of them, meerely (almost) in a naked manner: witnessing thereby, what constant faith he reposed in you, beleeving verily, that you were a just King, and not a ravenous Woolfe. Have you so soone forgot, that the rapes and violent actions, done by King Manfred to harmelesse Ladies, made your onely way of entrance into this Kingdome? What treason was ever committed, more worthy of eternall punishment, then this will be in you: to take away from him (who hath so highly honoured you) his chiefest hope and consolation? What will be said by all men, if you doe it?
Peradventure you thinke, it will be a sufficient excuse for you, to say: I did it, in regard hee was a Ghibelline. Can you imagine this to be justice in a King, that such as get into their possession in this manner (whatsoever it be) ought to use it in this sort? Let me tell you Sir, it was a most worthy victory for you, to conquer King Manfred: but it is farre more famous victory, for a man to conquer himselfe. You therfore, who are ordained to correct vices in other men, learne first to subdue them in your selfe, and (by brideling this inordinate appetite) set not a foule blemish on so faire a fame, as will be honour to you to preserve spotlesse.
These words pierced the heart of the King deepely, and so much the more afflicted him, because he knew them to be most true: wherefore, after he had ventred a very vehement sigh, thus he replyed. Beleeve me noble Count, there is not any enemy, how strong soever he be, but I hold him weake and easie to be vanquished, by him who is skilfull in the warre, where a man may learne to conquere his owne appetite. But because he shall find it a laborious taske, requiring inestimable strength and courage; your words have so toucht me to the quicke, that it becommeth me to let you effectually perceive (and within the compasse of few dayes) that as I have learned to conquer others, so I am not ignorant, in expressing the like power upon my selfe. Having thus spoken, within some few dayes after, the King being returned to Naples, he determined, as we to free himself from any the like ensuing follie, as also to recompence Signior Neri, for the great kindnesse he had shewne to him (although it was a difficult thing, to let another enjoy, what he rather desired for himselfe) to have the two Damosels married, not as the Daughters of Signior Neri, but even as if they were his owne. And by consent of the Father, he gave Genevera the faire, to Signior Maffeo da Palizzi, and Isotta the amiable, to Signior Gulielmo della Magna, two Noble Knights and honourable Barons. After he had thus given them in marriage, in sad mourning he departed thence into Apuglia, where by following worthy and honourable actions, he so well overcame all inordinate appetites: that shaking off the enthraling fetters of love, he lived free from all passions, the rest of his life time, and dyed as an honourable King.
Some perhaps will say, it was a small matter for a King, to give away two Damosels in marriage, and I confesse it: but I maintaine it to be great, and more then great, if we say, that a King, being so earnestly enamoured as this King was; should give her away to another, whom he so dearely affected himselfe, without receiving (in recompence of his affection) so much as a leaffe, flowre, or the least fruit of love. Yet such was the vertue of this magnificent King, expressed in so highly recompencing the noble Knights courtesie, honouring the two daughters so royally, and conquering his owne affections so vertuously.
Wherein is covertly given to understand, that howsoever a prince may make use of his absolute power and Authority, towards maides or wives that are his subjects: Yet he ought to deny and reject all things, as shall make him Forgetfull of himselfe, and his true honour
Lisana, the Daughter of a Florentine Apothecary, named Bernardo Puccino, being at Palermo, and seeing Piero, King of Aragon run at the Tilt; fell so affectionately enamored of him, that she languished in an extreame and long sickenesse. By her owne devise, and means of a Song, sung in the hearing of the King: he vouchsafed to visite her, and giving her a kisse, terming himselfe also to bee her Knight for ever after, hee honourably bestowed her in marriage on a young Gentleman, who was called Perdicano, and gave him liberall endowments with her.
Madame Fiametta being come to the end of her Novell, and the great magnificence of King Charles much commended (howbeit, some of the Company, affecting the Ghibelline faction, were otherwise minded) Madame Pampinea, by order given from the King, began in this manner.
There is no man of good understanding (honourable Ladies) but will maintaine what you have said of victorious Charles; except such as cannot wish well to any. But because my memory hath instantly informed me, of an action (perhaps) no lesse commendable then this, done by an enemy of the said King Charles, and to a yong Maiden of our City, I am the more willing to relate it, upon your gentle attention vouchsafed, as hitherto it hath been courteously granted.
At such time as the French were driven out of Sicilie, there dwelt at Palermo a Florentine Apothecary, named Bernardo Puccino, a man of good wealth and reputation, who had by his Wife one onely Daughter, of marriageable yeares, and very beautifull. Piero, King of Arragon, being then become Lord of that Kingdom, he made an admirable Feast Royall at Palermo, accompanyed with his Lords and Barons. In honour of which publique Feast, the King kept a triumphall day (of Justs and Turnament) at Catalana, and whereat it chanced, that the Daughter of Bernardo, named Lisana, was present. Being in a window, accompanied with other Gentlewomen, she saw the King runne at the Tilt, who seemed so goodly a person in her eye; that being never satisfied with beholding him, she grew enamoured, and fell into extremity of affection towards him.
When the Feastivall was ended, she dwelling in the house of her Father, it was impossible for her to thinke on any thing else, but onely the love, which she had fixed on a person of such height. And that which most tormented her in this case, was the knowledge of her owne condition, being but meane and humble in degree; whereby she confessed, that she could not hope for any successefull issue of her proud love. Neverthelesse, she would not refraine from affecting the King, who taking no note of this kindnesse in her, by any perceivable meanes; must needs be the more regardles, which procured (by wary observation) her afflictions to be the greater and intollerable.
Whereon it came to passe, that this earnest love encreasing in her more and more, and one melancholly conceit taking hold on another: the faire Maide, when she could beare the burden of her griefe no longer; fell into a languishing sickenesse, consuming away daily (by evident appearance) even as the Snow melteth by the warme beames of the Sunne.
The Father and Mother, much dismayed and displeased at this haplesse accident, applying her with continuall comforts, Phisicke, and the best skill remayning in all the Phisitions, sought all possible meanes wayes to give her succour: but all proved to no effect, because in regard of her choyce (which could sort to none other then a desperate end) she was desirous to live no longer. Now it fortuned, that her parents offering her whatsoever remained in their power to performe, a sudden apprehension entred her minde, to wit, that (if it might possible be done) before she dyed, she would first have the King to know, in what manner she stood affected to him. Wherefore, one day she entreated her Father that a Gentleman, named Manutio de Arezza, might be permitted to come see her. This Manutio was (in those times) held to be a most excellent Musitian, both for his voyce in singing, and exquisite skill in playing on Instruments, for which he was highly in favour with King Piero, who made (almost) daily use of him, to heare him both sing and play.
Her tender and loving father conceived immediately, that shee was desirous to heare his playing and singing, both being comfortable to a body in a languishing. sickenesse, whereupon, he sent presently for the Gentleman, who came accordingly, and after he had comforted Lisana with kind and courteous speeches; he played dexteriously on his Lute, which purposely hee had brought with him, and likewise he sung divers excellent Ditties, which insted of his intended consolation to the Maid, did nothing else but encrease her fire and flame.
Afterward, she requested to have some conference with Manutio alone, and every one being gone forth of the Chamber, she spake unto him in this manner.
Manutio, I have made choyce of thee, to be the faithfull Guardian of an especial secret, hoping first of al, that thou wilt never reveale it to any living body, but onely to him whom I shall bid thee: And next, to helpe me so much as possibly thou canst, because my onely hope relyeth in thee. Know then my dearest friend Manutio, that on the solemne festivall day, when our Soveraigne Lord the King honoured his exaltation, with the noble exercises of Tilt and Turney; his brave behaviour kindled such a sparke in my soule, as since brake forth into a violent flame, and brought me to this weake condition as now thou seest. But knowing and confessing, how farre unbeseeming my love is, to aime so ambitiously at a King, and being unable to controule it, or in the least manner to diminish it: I have made choyce of the onely and best remedy of all, namely, to dye, and so I am most willing to doe.
True it is, that I shall travaile in this my latest journey, with endlesse torment and affliction of soule, except he have some understanding thereof before, and not knowing by whom to give him intelligence, in so oft and convenient order, as by thee: I doe therefore commit this last office of a friend to thy trust, desiring thee, not to refuse me in the performance thereof. And when thou hast done it, to let me understand what he saith, that I may dye the more contentedly, and disburdened of so heavy an oppression, the onely comfort to a parting spirit: and so she ceased, her teares flowing forth abundantly.
Manutio did not a little wonder at the Maides great spirit, and her desperate resolution, which moved him to exceeding commiseration, and suddenly he conceived, that honestly he might discharge this duty for her, whereupon, he returned her this answer. Lisana, here I engage my faith to thee, that thou shalt find me firme and constant, and die I will, rather then deceive thee. Greatly I doe commend thy high attempt, in fixing thy affection on so Potent a King, wherein I offer thee my utmost assistance: and I make no doubt (if thou wouldest be of good comfort) to deale in such sort, as, before three dayes are fully past, to bring such newes as will content thee, and because I am loath to loose the least time, I will goe about it presently. Lisana the yong Maiden, once againe entreated his care and diligence, promising to comfort her selfe so well as she could, commending him to his good fortune. When Manutio was gone from her, hee went to a Gentleman, named Mico de Sienna, one of the best Poets in the composing of verses, as all those parts yeelded not the like. At his request, Mico made for him this ensuing Dittie.
Sung in the hearing of King Piero, on the behalfe of love-sicke Lisana
Goe Love, and tell the torments I endure,
Say to my Soveraigne Lord, that I must die
Except he come, some comfort to procure,
For tell I may not, what I feele, and why.
With heaved hands Great Love, I call to thee,
Goe see my Soveraigne, where he doth abide,
And say to him, in what extremity,
Thou hast (for him) my firm affection tryed.
To die for him, it is my sole desire,
For live with him I may not, nor aspire,
To have my fortunes thereby dignified,
Onely his sight would lend me life a while:
Grant it (great love) mine anguish to beguile.
Goe love, and tell the torments, etc.
Since the first houre that love enthralled me,
I never had the heart, to tell my griefe,
My thoughts did speake, for thoughts be alwayes free,
Yet hopefull thoughts doe find but poore reliefe.
When Gnats will mount to Eagles in the ayre,
Alas! they scorne them, for full well they know,
They were not bred to prey so base and low,
Aloft they look, to make their flight more faire.
And yet his sight would lend me life a while:
Grant it (great love) mine anguish to beguile.
Goe love, and tell the torments, etc.
If sight shall be denyed, then tell them plaine,
His high triumphall day procurd my death,
The Launce that won him Honour, hath me slaine,
For instantly it did bereave my breath.
That speake I could not, nor durst be so bold,
To make the Ayre acquainted with my woe:
Alas! I lookt so high, and doing so,
Justly deserve by death to be controld.
Yet mercies sight would lend me life a while,
Grant it (great love) mine anguish to beguffe.
Goe love, and tell the torments I endure,
Say to my Soveraigne Lord, that I must die:
Except he come, some comfort to procure,
For tell I may not, what I feele, and why.
The lines contained in this Ditty, Manutio fitted with noates so mooving and singularly musicall, that every word had the seisible motion of life in it, where the King being (as yet) not risen from the Table, he commanded him to use both his Lute and voyce.
This seemed a happy opportunity to Manutio, to sing the dittie so purposely done and devised: which hee delivered in such excellent manner, the voice and Instrument concording so extraordinary pleasing; that all the persons then in the Presence, seemed rather Statues, then living men, so strangely they were wrapt with admiration, and the King himselfe farre beyond all the rest, transported with a rare kinde of alteration.
When Manutio had ended the Song, the King demanded of him, whence this Song came, because he had never heard it before? My gracious Lord, answered Manutio, it must needes seeme straunge to your Majesty, because it is not fully three dayes, since it was invented, made, and set to the note. Then the King asked, whom it concerned? Sir (quoth Manutio) I dare not disclose that to any but onely your selfe. Which answer made the King much more desirous, and being risen from the Table, he tooke him into his Bedchamber, where Manutio related all at large to him, according to the trust reposed in him. Wherwith the King was wonderfully well pleased, greatly commending the courage of the Maide, and said, that a Virgin of such a valiant spirit, did well deserve to have her case commiserated: and commanded him also, to goe (as sent from him) and comfort her, with promise, that the very same day, in the evening, he would not faile to come and see her.
Manutio, more then contented, to carry such glad tydings to Lisana; without staying in any place, and taking his Lute also with him, went to the Apothecaries house, where speaking alone with the Maide: he told her what he had done, and afterward sung the song to her, in as excellent manner as he had done before, wherein Lisana conceived such joy and contentment, as even in the very same moment, it was observed by apparant signes, that the violence of her fits forsooke her, and health began to get the upper hand of them. SO, without suffering any one in the house to know it, or by the least meanes to suspect it; she comforted her selfe till the evening, in expectation of her Soveraignes arrivall.
Piero being a Prince, of most liberall and benigne nature, having afterward divers times considered on the matters which Manutio had revealed to him, knowing also the yong Maiden, to bee both beautifull and vertuous: was so much moved with pitty of her extremitie, as mounting on horsebacke in the evening, and seeming as if he rode abroad for his private recreation; he went directly to the Apothecaries house, where desiring to see a goodly garden, appertaining then to the Apothecarie, he dismounted from his horse. Walking into the garden, he began to question with Bernardo, demaunding him for his Daughter, and whether he had (as yet) marryed her, or no? My Gracious Lord, answered Bernardo, as yet shee is not marryed, neither likely to bee, in regard shee hath had a long and tedious sickenesse: but since Dinner time, she is indifferently eased of her former violent paine, which we could not discerne the like alteration in her, a long while before.
The King understood immediately, the reason of this so sudden alteration, and said. In good faith Bernardo, the world would sustaine a great maine and imperfection, by the losse of thy faire daughter; wherefore, we will goe our selfe in person to visite her. So, with two of his Lords onely, and the Father, he ascended to the Maides Chamber and being entred, he went to the Beds side, where she sate, somewhat raised, in expectation of his comming, and taking her by the hand, he said. Faire Lisana, how commeth this to passe? You being so faire a Virgin, yong, and in the delicacy of your daies, which should be the chiefest comfort to you, will you suffer your selfe to be over-awed with sickenesse? Let us intreat you, that (for our sake) you will be of good comfort, and thereby recover your health the sooner, especially, when it is requested by a King, who is sorry to see so bright a beauty sicke, and would helpe it, it consisted in his power.
Lisana, feeling the touch of his hand, whom she loved above all things else in the world, although a bashfull blush mounted up into her cheekes: yet her heart was seazed with such a rapture of pleasure, that she thought her selfe translated into Paradise, and, so well as she could, thus she replyed. Great King, by opposing my feeble strength, against a burden of over-ponderous weight, it became the occasion of this grievous sickenesse: but I hope that the violence thereof is (almost) already kild, onely by this soveraigne mercy in you, and doubtlesse it will cause my speedy deliverance. The King did best understand this so well palliated answere of Lisana, which as he did much commend, in regard of her high adventuring; so he did againe as greatly condemne Fortune, for not making her more happy in her birth.
So, after he had stayed there a good while, and given her many comfortable speeches, he returned backe to the Court. This humanity in the King, was reputed a great honour to the Apothecary and his daughter, who (in her owne mind) received as much joy and contentment thereby, as ever any wife could have of her owne Husband.
And being assisted by better hopes, within a short while after, she became recovered, and farre more beautifull (in common judgment) then ever she was before.
Lisana being now in perfect health, the King consulted with his Queene, what meete recompence he should gratifie her withall, for loving and affecting him in such fervent manner. Upon a day determined, the King mounting on horsebacke, accompanied with many of his cheefest Lords and Barons, he rode to the Apothecaries house, where walking in his beautifull Garden, hee called for Bernardo and his daughter Lisana. In the meane space, the Queene also came thither, Royally attended on by her Ladies, and Lisana being admitted into their company, they expressed themselves very gracious to her. Soone after, the King and the Queene cald Lisana, and the King spake in this manner to her.
Faire Virgin, the extraordinary love which you bare to us, calleth for as great honour from us to you; in which respect, it is our Royall desire, by one meanes or other to requite your kinde Love. In our opinion, the chief honour we can extend to you. is, that being of sufficient yeares for marriage, you would grace us so much, as to accept him for your Husband, whom we intend to bestow on you. Beside this further grant from us, that (notwithstanding whatsoever else) you shall call us your Knight; without coveting any thing else from you, for so great favour, but only one kisse, and thinke not to bestow it nicely on a King, but grant it the rather, because he begges it.
Lisana, whose lookes were dyed with a vermillian tincture, or rather converted into a pure maiden blush, reputing the Kings desire to be her owne; in a low and humbled voyce, thus answered. My Lord, most certaine am I, that if it had beene publikely knowne, how none but your highnes, might serve for me to fixe my love on, I should have been termed the foole of all fooles: they perhaps beleeving, that I was forgetfull of my selfe, in being ignorant of mine owne condition, and much lesse of yours. But the Gods are my witnesses (because they know the secrets of all hearts) that even in the very instant, when Loves fire tooke hold on my yeelding affection: I knew you to be a King, and my selfe the daughter of poore Bernardo the Apothecary: likewise, how farre unfitting it was for me, to be so ambitious in my loves presuming. But I am sure your Majestie doth know (much better then I am able to expresse) that no one becommeth amourous, according to the duty of election, but as the appetite shapeth his course, against whose lawes my strength made many resistances, which not prevailing, I presumed to love, did, and so for ever shall doe, your Majestie.
Now Royall Soveraigne, I must needes confesse, that so soone as I felt my selfe thus wholly conquered by loving you, I resolved for ever after, to make your will mine owne, and therefore, am not onely willing to accept him for my Husband, whom you shall please to appoint, befitting my honor and degree: but if you will have me to live in a flaming fire, my obedience shall sacrifice it selfe to your will, with the absolute conformity of mine owne. To stile you by the name of my Knight, whom I know to be my lawfull King and Soveraigne; you are not ignorant, how farre unfitting a word that were for me to use: As also the kisse which you request, in requitall of my love to you; to these two I will never give consent, without the Queenes most gracious favour and license first granted. Neverthelesse, for such admirable benignity used to me, both by your Royall selfe, and your vertuous Queene: heaven shower downe all boundlesse graces on you both, for it exceedeth all merit in me, and so she ceased speaking, in most dutifull manner.
The answer of Lisana pleased the Queene exceedingly, in finding her to be so wise and faire, as the King himself had before informed her: who instantly called for her Father and Mother, and knowing they would be well pleased with whatsoever he did; he called for a proper yong Gentleman, but somewhat poore, being named Perdicano, and putting certaine Rings into his hand, which he refused not to receive, caused him there to espouse Lisana. To whome the King gave immediately (besides Chaines and jewels of inestimable valew, delivered by the Queene to the Bride) Ceffala and Calatabelotta, two great territories abounding in divers wealthy possessions, saying to Perdicano. These wee give thee, as a dowry in marriage with this beautifull Maid, and greater gifts we will bestow on thee hereafter, as we shal perceive thy love and kindnesse to her.
When he had ended these words, hee turned to Lisana, saying: Heere doe I freely give over all further fruits of your affection towards me, thanking you for your former love: so taking her head betweene his hands he kissed her faire forhead, which was the usuall custome in those times. Perdicano, the Father and Mother of Lisana, and she her selfe likewise, extraordinarily joyfull for this so fortunate a marriage, returned humble and hearty thankes both to the King and Queene, and (as many credible Authors doe affirme) the King kept his promise made to Lisana, because (so long as he lived) he alwales termed himselfe by the name of her Knight, and in al actions of Chivalry by him undertaken, he never carried any other devise, but such as he received still from her.
By this, and divers other like worthy deeds, not onely did he win the hearts of his subjects; but gave occasion to the who world beside, to renowne his fame to all succeeding posterity. Whereto (in these more wretched times of ours) few or none bend the sway of their understanding: but rather how to bee cruell and tyrranous Lords, and thereby win the hatred of their people.
Declaring, that notwithstanding the frownes of fortune, diversity of occurrences, and contrary accidents Happening: Yet love and friendship ought to be preciously preserved among men
Sophronia, thinking her selfe to be the maried wife of Gisippus, was (indeed) the wife of Titus Quintus Fulvius, and departed thence with him to Rome. Within a while after, Gisippus also came thither in very poore condition, and thinking that he was despised by Titus, grew weary of his life, and confessed that he had murdred a man, with ful intent to die for the fact. But Titus taking knowledge of him, and desiring to save the life of Gisippus, charged himself to have done the bloody deed. Which the murderer himself (standing then among the multitude) seeing, truly confessed the deed. By meanes whereof, all three were delivered by the Emperor Octavius; and Titus gave his Sister in mariage to Gisippus, giving them also the most part of his goods and inheritances.
By this time Madam Philomena, at command of the King, (Madam Pampinea ceasing) prepared to follow next in order, whereupon thus she began. What is it (Gracious Ladies) that Kings cannot do (if they list) in matters of greatest importance, and especially unto such as most they should declare their magnificence? He then that performeth what he ought to do, when it is within his owne power, doth well. But it is not so much to bee admired, neither deserveth halfe the commendations, as when one man doth good to another, when least it is expected, as being out of his power, and yet performed. In which respect, because you have so extolled king Piero, as appearing not meanly meritorious in your judgements; I make no doubt but you will be much more pleased, when the actions of our equals are duly considered, and shal paralell any of the greatest Kings. Wherefore I purpose to tell you a Novel, concerning an honorable curtesie of two worthy friends.
At such time as Octavius Caesar (not as yet named Augustus, but only in the office called Triumveri) governed the Romane Empire, there dwelt in Rome a Gentleman, named Publius Quintus Fulvius, a man of singular understanding, who having one son, called Titus Quintus Fulvius, of towardly yeares and apprehension, sent him to Athens to learne Philosophy, but with letters of familiar commendations, to a Noble Athenian Gentleman, named Chremes, being his ancient friend, of long acquaintance. This Gentleman lodged Titus in his owne house, as companion to his son, named Gisippus, both of them studying together, under the tutoring of a Philosopher, called Aristippus. These two yong Gentlemen living thus in one Citty, House, and Schoole, it bred betweene them such a brother-hoode and amity, as they could not be severed from one another, but only by the accident of death; nor could either of them enjoy any content, but when they were both together in company.
Being each of them endued with gentle spirits, and having begun their studies together: they arose (by degrees) to the glorious height of Philosophy, to their much admired fame and commendation. In this manner they lived, to the no meane comfort of Chremes, hardly distinguishing the one from the other for his Son, and thus the Schollers continued the space of three yeares. At the ending wherof (as it hapneth in al things else) Chremes died, whereat both the young Gentlemen conceived such hearty griefe, as if he had bin their common father; nor could the kinred of Chremes discerne, which of the two had most need of comfort, the losse touched them so equally.
It chanced within some few months after, that the kinred of Gisippus came to see him, and (before Titus) avised him to marriage, and with a yong Gentlewoman of singular beauty, derived from a most noble house in Athens, and she named Sophronia, aged about fifteen years. This mariage drawing neere, Gisippus on a day, intreated Titus to walk along with him thither, because (as yet) he had not seene her. Commingto the house, and she sitting in the midst betweene them, Titus making himselfe a considerator of beauty, and especially on his friends behalfe; began to observe her very judicially, and every part of her seemed so pleasing in his eie, that giving them al a privat praise, yet answerable to their due deserving; he becam so enflamed with affection to her, as never any lover could bee more violentlie surprized, so sodainly doth beauty beguile our best senses.
After they had sate an indifferent while with her, they returned home to their lodging, where Titus being alone in his chamber, began to bethink himselfe on her, whose perfections had so powerfully pleased him: and the more he entred into this consideration, the fiercer he felt his desires enflamed, which being unable to quench, by any reasonable perswasions, after hee had vented foorth infinite sighes, thus he questioned with himselfe. Most unhappie Titus as thou art, whether doost thou transport thine understanding, love, and hope? Dooest thou not know as well by the honourable favours, which thou hast received of Chremes and his house, as also the intire amity betweene thee and Gisippus (unto whom faire Sophronia is the afflanced friend) that thou shouldst holde her in the like reverent respect, as if shee were thy true borne Sister? Darest thou presume to fancie her? Whether shall beguiling Love allure thee, and vaine immaging hopes carrie thee? Open the eyes of thy better understanding, and acknowledge thy selfe to bee a most miserable man. Give way to reason, bridle thine intemperate appetites, reforme all irregulare desires, and guide thy fancy to a place of better direction. Resist thy wanton and lascivious will in the beginning, and be master of thy selfe, while thou hast opportunity, for that which thou aimest at, is neyther reasonable nor honest. And if thou wert assured to prevaile upon this pursuite, yet thou oughtst to avoide it, if thou hast any regard of true friendship, and the duty therein justly required. What wilt thou do then Titus? Fly from this inordinate affection, if thou wilt be reputed to be a man of sensible judgement.
After he had thus discoursed with himselfe, remembring Sophronia, and converting his former allegations, into a quite contrarie sense, in utter detestation of them, and guided by his idle appetite, thus he began againe. The lawes of love are of greater force, then any other whatsoever, they not only breake the bands of friendship, but even those also of more divine consequence. How many times hath it bin noted, the father to affect his own daughter, the brother his sister, and the stepmother her son in law, matters far more monstrous, then to see one friend love the wife of another, a case happening continually? Moreover, I am yong, and youth is wholly subjected to the passions of Love: is it reasonable then, that those should be bard from me, which are fitting and pleasing to Love? Honest things, belong to men of more years and maturity, then I am troubled withall, and I can covet none, but onely those wherein Love is directer. The beauty of Sophronia is worthy of generall love, and if I that am a yongman do love her, what man living can justly reprove me for it? Shold not I love her, because she is affianced to Gisippus? That is no matter to me, I ought to love her, because she is a woman, and women were created for no other occasion, but to bee Loved. Fortune had sinned in this case, and not I, in directing my frends affection to her, rather then any other; and if she ought to be loved, as her perfections do challenge, Gisippus understanding that I affect her, may be the better contented that it is I, rather then any other.
With these, and the like crosse entercourses, he often mockt himselfe, falling into the contrary, and then to this againe, and from the contrary, into another kind of alteration, wasting and consuming himselfe, not only this day and the night following, but many more afterward, til he lost both his feeding and sleepe, so that through debility of body, he was constrained to keepe his bed. Gisippus, who had divers dayes noted his melancholly disposition, and now his falling into extreamitie of sicknesse, was very sorry to behold it: and with all meanes and inventions he could devise to use, hee both questioned the cause of this straunge alteration, and essayed everie way, how hee might best comfort him, never ceassing to demaunde a reason, why he should become thus sad and sickely. But Titus after infinite importuning (which still he answered) with idle and frivolous excuses, farre from the truth indeede, and (to the no meane affliction of his friend) when he was able to use no more contradictions; at length, in sighes and teares, thus he replyed.
Gisippus, were the Gods so wel pleased, I could more gladly yeild to dye, then continue any longer in this wretched life, considering, that Fortune hath brought mee to such an extremity, as proofe is now to be made of my constancie and vertue; both which I finde conquered in me, to my eternall confusion and shame. But my best hope is, that I shal shortly be requited, as I have in justice deserved, namely with death, which will be a thousand times more welcome to me, then a loathed life, with remembrance of my base dejection in courage, which because I can no longer conceale from thee; not without blushing shame, I am well contented for to let thee know it.
Then began hee to recount, the whole occasion of this straunge conflict in him, what a maine battaile hee had with his private thoughts, confessing that they got the victory, causing him to die hourely for the love of Sophronia, and affirming withall, that in due acknowledgement, how greatly hee had transgressed against the lawes of friendship, he thought no other penance sufficient for him, but onely death, which he willingly expected every houre, and with all his heart would gladly bid welcome.
Gisippus hearing this discourse, and seeing how Titus bitterly wept, in agonies of most moving afflictions: sat an indifferent while sad and pensive, as being wounded with affection to Sophronia, but yet in a well-governed and temperate manner without any long delaying, hee concluded with himselfe; that the life of his friend ought to be accounted much more deare, then any love hee could beare unto Sophronia: And in this resolution, the teares of Titus forcing his eyes to flow forth like two Fountaines, thus he replyed.
Titus, if thou hadst not neede of comfort, as plainly I see thou hast, I would justly complaine of thee to my selfe, as of the man who hath violated our friendship, in keeping thine extreamitie so long time concealed from mee, which hath beene overtedious for thee to endure. And although it might seeme to thee a dishonest case, and therefore kept from the knowledge of thy friend, yet I plainly tell thee, that dishonest courses (in the league of amitie) deserve no more concealment, then those of the honestest nature. But leaving these impertinent wandrings, let us come to them of much greater necessitie.
If thou doest earnestly love faire Sophronia, who is betroathed and afflanced to me, it is no matter for me to marvaile at: but I should rather be much abashed, if thou couldst not intyrely affect her, knowing how beautifull she is, and the nobility of her minde, being as able to sustaine passion, as the thing pleasing is fullest of excellence. And looke how reasonable thou fanciest Sophronia, as unjustly thou complainest of thy fortune, in ordaining her to be my wife, although thou doest not speake it expresly: as being of opinion, that thou mightst with more honesty love her, if she were any others, then mine. But if thou art so wise, as I have alwayes held thee to be, tell me truely upon thy faith, to whom could Fortune better guide her, and for which thou oughtest to be more thankfull, then in bestowing her on me? Any other that had enjoyed her, although thy love were never so honest, yet he would better affect her himselfe, then for thee, which thou canst not (in like manner) looke for from me, if thou doest account me for thy friend, and as constant now as ever.
Reason is my warrant in this case, because I cannot remember, since first our entrance into friendship, that ever I enjoyed any thing, but it was as much thine, as mine. And if our affaires had such an equall course before, as otherwise they could not subsist; must they not now be kept in the same manner? Can any thing more perticularly appertaine to me, but thy right therein is as absolute as mine? I know not how thou maist esteeme of my friendship, if in any thing concerning my selfe, I can plead my priviledge to be above thine. True it is, that Sophronia is affianced to me, and I love her dearely, daily expecting when our nuptials shall be celebrated. But seeing thou doest more fervently affect her, as being better able to Judge of the perfections, remaining in so excellent a creature as she is, then I doe: assure thy selfe, and beleeve it constantly, that she shall come to my bed, not as my wife but onely thine. And therefore leave these despairing thoughts, shake off this cloudy disposition, reassume thy former joviall spirit, with comfort and what else can content thee: in expectation of the happy houre, and the just requitall of thy long, loving, and worthy friendship, which I have alwayes valued equall with mine owne life.
Titus hearing this answer of Gisippus, looke how much the sweet hope of that which he desired gave him pleasure, as much both duty and reason affronted him with shame; setting before his eyes this du consideration, that the greater the liberality of Gisippus was, farre greater and unreasonable it appeared to him in disgrace, if hee should unmannerly accept it. Wherefore, being unable to refrain from teares, and with such strength as his weaknesse would give leave, thus he replyed.
Gisippus, thy bounty and firme friendship suffereth me to see apparantly, what (on my part) is no more then ought to be done. All the Gods forbid, that I should receive as mine, her whom they have adjudged to be thine, by true respect of birth and desert. For if they had thought her a wife fit for me, doe not thou or any else imagine, that ever she should have beene granted to thee. Use freely therefore thine owne election, and the gracious favour wherewith they have blessed thee: leave me to consume away in teares, a mourning garment by them appointed for me, as being a man unworthy of such happinesse; for either I shall conquer this disaster, and that wil be my crowne, or else will vanquish me, and free me from all paine: whereto Gisippus presently thus answered.
Worthy Titus, if our amity would give me so much licence, as but to contend with my selfe, in pleasing thee with such a thing as I desire, and could also induce thee therein to be directed: it is the onely end whereat I aime, and am resolved to pursue it. In which regard, let my perswasions prevaile with thee, and thereto I conjure thee, by the faith of a friend, suffer me to use mine authority, when it extendeth both to mine owne honour, and thy good, for I will have Sophronia to bee onely thine. I know sufficiently, how farre the forces of love doe extend in power, and am not ignorant also, how not once or twice, but very many times, they have brought lovers to unfortunate ends, as now I see thee very neere it, and so farre gone, as thou art not able to turne backe againe, nor yet to conquer thine owne teares, but proceeding on further in this extremity, thou wilt be left vanquished, sinking under the burthen of loves tyrannicall oppression, and then my turne is next to follow thee. And therefore, had I no other reason to love thee, yet because thy life is deare to me, in regard of mine owne depending thereon; I stand the neerer thereto obliged. For this cause, Sophronia must and shal be thine, for thou canst not find any other so conforme to thy fancy: albeit I who can easily convert my liking to another wife, but never to have the like friend againe, shall hereby content both thee, and my selfe.
Yet perhaps this is not a matter so easily done, or I to expresse such liberality therein, if wives were to be found with the like difficultie, as true and faithfull friends are: but, (being able to recover another wife) though never such a worthy friend; I rather chuse to change, I doe not say loose her (for in giving her to thee, I loose her not my selfe) and by this change, make that which was good before, tenne times better, and so preserve both thee and my selfe. To this end therefore, if my prayers and perswasions have any power with thee, I earnestly entreat thee, that, by freeing thy selfe out of this affliction, thou wilt (in one instant) make us both truely comforted, and dispose thy selfe (living in hope) to embrace that happinesse, which the fervent love thou bearest to Sophronia, hath justly deserved.
Now although Titus was confounded with shame, to yeeld consent, that Sophronia should be accepted as his wife, and used many obstinate resistances: yet notwithstanding, Love pleading on the one side powerfully, and Gisippus as earnestly perswading on the other, thus he answered. Gisippus, I know not what to say, neither how to behave my selfe in this election, concerning the fitting of mine contentment, or pleasing thee in thy importunate perswasion. But seeing thy liberality is so great, as it surmounteth all reason or shame in me, I will yeeld obedience to thy more then noble nature. Yet let this remaine for thine assurance, that I doe not receive this grace of thine, as a man not sufficiently understanding, how I enjoy from thee, not onely her whom most of all I doe affect, but also doe hold my very life of thee. Grant then you greatest Gods (if you be the Patrones of this mine unexpected felicitie) that with honor and due respect, I may hereafter make apparantly knowne: how highly I acknowledge this thy wonderfull favour, in being more mercifull to me, then I could be to my selfe.
For abridging of all further circumstances, answered Gisippus, and for easier bringing this matter to full effect, I hold this to be our onely way. It is not unknowne to thee, how after much discourse had between my kindred, and those belonging to Sophronia, the matrimoniall conjunction was fully agreed on, and therefore, if now I shall flye off, and say, I will not accept thee as my wife: great scandall would arise thereby, and make much trouble among our friends, which could not be greatly displeasing to me, if that were the way to make her thine. But I rather stand in feare, that if I forsake her in such peremptory sort, her kinred and friends will bestow her on some other, and so she is utterly lost, without all possible meanes of recovery. For prevention therefore of all sinister accidents, I thinke it best, (if thy opinion jumpe with mine) that I still pursue the busines, as already I have begun, having thee alwaies in my company, as my dearest friend and onely associate. The nuptials being performed with our friends, in secret manner at night (as we can cunningly enough contrive it) thou shalt have her maiden honour in bed, even as if she were thine owne wife. Afterward, in apt time and place, we will publiquely make knowne what is done; if they take it well, we will be as jocond as they: if they frowne and waxe offended, the deed is done, over-late to be recalled, and so perforce they must rest contented.
You may well imagine, this advise was not a little pleasing to Titus, wherupon Gisippus received home Sophronia into his house, with publike intention to make her his wife, according as was the custome then observed, and Titus being perfectly recovered, was present at the Feast very ceremonially observed. When night was come, the Ladies and Gentlewomen conducted Sophronia to the Bride-Chamber, where they left her in her Husbands bed, and then departed all away. The Chamber wherein Titus used to lodge, joyned close to that of Gisippus, for their easier accesse each to the other, at all times whensoever they pleased, and Gisippus being alone in the Bride-Chamber, preparing as if he were comming to bed: extinguishing the light, he went softly to Titus, willing him to goe to bed to his wife. Which Titus hearing, overcome with shame and feare, became repentant, and denyed to goe. But Gisippus, being a true intyre friend indeed, and confirming his words with actions: after a little lingring dispute, sent him to the Bride, and so soone as he was in the bed with her, taking Sophronia gently by the hand, softly he moved the usuall question to her, namely, if she were willing to be his wife.
She beleeving verily that he was Gisippus, modestly answered. Sir, I have chosen you to be my Husband, reason requires then, that I should be willing to be your wife. At which words, a costly Ring, which Gisippus used daily to weare, he put upon her finger, saying. With this Ring, I confesse my selfe to be your Husband, and bind you (for ever) my Spouse and Wife; no other kind of marriage was observed in those dayes, and so he continued all the night with her, she never suspecting him to be any other then Gisippus, and thus was the marriage consumated, betweene Titus and Sophronia, albeit the friends (on either side) thought otherwise.
By this time, Publius, the father of Titus, was departed out of this mortall life, and letters came to Athens, that with all speed he should returne to Rome, to take order for occasions there concerning him; wherefore he concluded with Gisippus about his departure, and taking Sophronia thither with him, which was no easie matter to be done, until it were first known, how occasions had bin caried among them. Wherupon, calling her one day into her Chamber, they told her entirely, how all had past, which Titus confirmed substantially, by such direct passages betweene themselves, as exceeded all possibility of denyall, and moved in her much admiration; looking each on other very discontentedly, she heavily weeping and lamenting, and greatly complaining of Gisippus, for wronging her so unkindly.
But before any further noyse was made in the house, shee went to her Father, to whom, as also to her Mother, shee declared the whole trecherie, how much both they and their other friends were wronged by Gisippus, avouching her selfe to be the wife of Titus, and not of Gisippus, as they supposed. These newes were highly displeasing to the Father of Sophronia, who with hir kinred, as also those of Gisippus, made great complaints to the Senate, very dangerous troubles and commotions arising daily betweene them, drawing both Gisippus and Sophronia into harsh reports; he being generally reputed, not onely worthy of all bitter reproofe, but also the severest punishment. Neverthelesse, hee maintained publikely what he had done, avouching it for an act both of honour and honestie, wherewith Sophronia’s friends had no reason to bee offended, but rather to take it in very thankfull part, having married a man of farre greater worth and respect, than himselfe was, or could be.
On the other side, Titus hearing these uncivill acclamations, became much moved and provoked at them, but knowing it was a custome observed among the Greeks, to be so much the more hurried away with rumours and threatnings, as lesse they finde them to be answered, and when they finde them, shew themselves not onely humble enough, but rather as base men, and of no courage; he resolved with himselfe, that their braveries were no longer to be enclured, without some bold and manly answere. And having a Romane heart, as also an Athenian understanding, by politique perswasions, he caused the kinred of Gisippus and Sophronia, to be assembled in a Temple, and himselfe comming thither, accompanied with none but Gisippus onely, he began to deliver his minde before them all, in this manner following.
“Many Philosophers doe hold opinion, that the actions performed by mortall men, doe proceed from the disposing and ordination of the immortall gods. Whereupon some doe maintaine, that things which be done, or never are to be done, proceed of necessity: howbeit some other doe hold, that this necessity is onely referred to things done. Both which opinions (if they be considered with mature judgment) doe most manifestly approve, that they who reprehend any thing which is irrevocable, doe nothing else but shew themselves, as if they were wiser then the Gods, who we are to beleeve, that with perpetuall reason, and void of any error, doe dispose and governe both us, and all our actions; In which respect, how foolish and beast-like a thing it is, presumptuously to checke or controule their operations, you may very easily consider; and likewise, how justly they deserve condigne punishment, who suffer themselves to be transported in so temerarious a manner.
“In which notorious transgression, I understand you all to be guiltie, if common fame speake truely, concerning the marriage of my selfe and Sophronia, whom you imagined as given to Gisippus; for you never remember that it was so ordained from eternitie, shee to be mine, and no Wife for Gisippus, as at this instant is made manifest by full effect. But because the kinde of speaking, concerning divine providence, and intention of the Gods, may seeme a difficult matter to many, and somewhat hard to bee understood: I am content to presuppose, that they meddle not with any thing of ours, and will onely stay my selfe on humane reasons, and in this nature of speech, I shall be enforced to doe two things, quite contrary to my naturall disposition. The one is, to speake somewhat in praise and commendation of my selfe: And the other, justly to blame and condemne other mens seeming estimation. But because both in the one and the other, I doe not intend to swerve a jot from the Truth, and the necessitie of the present case in question, doth not onely require, but also command it, you must pardon what I am to say.
“Your complaints doe proceed, rather from furie then reason, and (with continuall murmurings, or rather seditions) slander, backe-bite and condemne Gisippus, because (of his owne free will and noble disposition) hee gave her to be my Wife, whom (by your election) was made his; wherein I account him most highly praiseworthy: and the reasons inducing mee thereunto, are these. The first, because he hath performed no more then what a friend ought to doe: And the second, in regard he hath dealt more wisely, then you did. I have no intention, to display (at this present) what the sacred law of amitie requireth, to be acted by one friend towards another, it shall suffice mee onely to informe you, that the league of friendship (farre stronger then the bond of bloud and kinred) confirmed us in our election of either at the first, to be true, loyall and perpetuall friends; whereas that of kinred, commeth onely by fortune or chance. And therefore if Gisippus affected more my life, then your benevolence, I being ordained for his friend, as I confesse my selfe to be; none of you ought to wonder thereat, in regard it is no matter of mervaile.
“But let us come now to our second reason, wherein, with farre greater instance I will shew you, that he hath (in this occasion) shewen himselfe to be much more wise, then you did, or have done: because it plainely appeareth, that you have no feeling of the divine providence, and much lesse knowledge in the effects of friendship. I say, that your foresight, councell and deliberation, gave Sophronia to Gisippus, a yong Gentleman, and a Philosopher: Gisippus likewise hath given her to a yong Gentleman, and a Philosopher, as himselfe is. Your discretion gave her to an Athenian; the gift of Gisippus, is to a Romaine. Yours, to a Noble and honest man; that of Gisippus, to one more Noble by race, and no lesse honest then himselfe. Your judgement hath bestowed her on a rich young man: Gisippus hath given her to one farre richer. Your wisedome gave her to one who not onely loved her not, but also one that had no desire to know her: Gisippus gave her unto him, who, above all felicitie else, yea, more than his owne life, both entirely loved and desired her.
“Now, for proofe of that which I have said, to be most true and infallible, and that his deede deserveth to bee much more commended then yours, let it bee duely considered on, point by point. That I am a young man and a Philosophe, as Gisippus is; my yeares, face, and studies, without seeking after further proofe, doth sufficiently testifie: One selfe-same age is both his and mine, in like quality of course have wee lived and studied together. True it is, that hee is an Athenian, and I am a Romaine. But if the glory of these two Cities should bee disputed on: then let mee tell you, that I am of a Citie that is Francke and Free, and hee is of a Tributarie Citie. I say that I am of a Citie, which is chiefe Lady and Mistresse of the whole World and hee is of a Citie subject to mine. I say that I am of a Citie, that is strong in Arms, Empire, and studies: whereas his can commend it selfe but for Studies onely. And although you seeme heere to bee a Scholler, in appearance meane enough, yet I am not descended of the simplest stocke in Rome.
“My houses and publique places, are filled with the ancient Statues of my Predecessors, and the Annales recorde the infinite triumphs of the Quintij, brought home by them into the Romane Capitole, and yeares cannot eate out the glory of our name, but it will live and flourish to all posteritie.
“Modest shame makes me silent in my wealth and possessions, my minde truely telling mee, that honest contented povertie, is the most ancient and richest inheritance, of our best and Noblest Romanes, which opinion, if it bee condemned by the understanding of the ignorant multitude, and heerein wee shall give way to them by preferring riches and worldly treasures, then I can say that I am aboundantly provided, not as ambitious, or greedily covetous, but sufficiently stored with the goods of Fortune.
“I know well enough, that you held it as a desired benefit, Gisippus being a Native of your Citie, should also be linked to you by alliance: but I know no reason, why I should not be as neere and deere to you at Rome, as if I lived with you heere. Considering, when I am there, you have a ready and well wishing friend, to stead you in all beneficiall and serviceable offices, as carefull and provident for your support, yea, a protectour of you and your affaires, as well publique as particular. Who is it then, not transported with partiall affection, that can (in reason) more approve your act, then that which my friend Gisippus hath done? Questionlesse, not any one, as I thinke. Sophronia is married to Titus Quintus Fulvius, a Noble Gentleman by antiquitie, a rich Citizen of Rome, and (which is above all) the friend of Gisippus: therfore, such a one as thinkes it strange, is sorrie for it, or would not have it to be; knoweth not what he doth.
“Perhaps there may be some, who will say, they doe not so much complain, that Sophronia is the wife to Titus; but of the manner whereby it was done, as being made his wife secretly, and by theft, not any of her parents, kinred or friends called thereto: no, nor so much as advertised thereof. Why Gentlemen, this is no miraculous thing, but heeretofore hath oftentimes happened, and therefore no noveltie.
“I cannot count unto you, how many there have beene, who (against the will of their Fathers) have made choice of their husbands; nor them that have fled away with their lovers into strange Countries, being first friends, before they were wives: nor of them who have sooner made testimonie of marriage by their bellies, then those ceremonies due to matrimonie, or publication thereof by the tongue; so that meere necessity and constraint, hath forced the parents to yeeld consent: which hath not so happened to Sophronia, for she was given to me by Gisippus discreetly, honestly, and orderly.
“Others also may say, that shee is married to him, to whom it belonged not to marrie her. These complaints are foolish, and womanish, proceeding from verie little, or no consideration at all. In these daies of ours, Fortune makes no use of novell or inconsiderate meanes, whereby to bring matters to their determined effect. Why should it offend me, if a Cobler, rather than a Scholler, hath ended a businesse of mine, either in private or publique, if the end be well made? Well I may take order, if the Cobler bee indiscreet, that hee meddle no more with any matters of mine, yet I ought, in courtesie, to thanke him for that which hee did.
“In like manner, if Gisippus hath married Sophronia well, it is foolish and superfluous, to finde fault with the manner hee used in her marriage. If you mislike his course in the case, beware of him hereafter, yet thanke him because it is no worse. “Neverthelesse, you are to understand, that I sought not by fraud or deceit, (but onely by witte) any opportunitie, whereby any way to sullie the honestie and cleere Nobilitie of your bloud, in the person of Sophronia: for although in secret I made her my wife, yet I came not as an enemie, to take her perforce, nor (like a ravisher) wronged her virginitie, to blemish your no. titles, or despising your alliance. But fervently, enflamed by her bright beauty, and incited also by her unparalleld vertues, I shaped my course; knowing well enough, that if I tooke the ordinarie way of wiving, by moving the question to you, I should never winne your consent, as fearing, lest I would take her with me to Rome, and so conveigh out of your sight, a jewell by you so much esteemed, as she is.
“For this, and no other reason, did I presume to use the secret cunning which now is openly made knowne unto you: and Gisippus disposed himselfe thereunto, which otherwise hee never determined to have done, in contracting the marriage for me, and shee consenting to me in his name.
Moreover, albeit most earnestly I affected her, I sought to procure your union, not like a lover, but as a true husband, nor would I immodestly touch her, till first (as her selfe can testifie) with the words becomming wedlocke, and the Ring also I espoused her, demanding of her, if shee would accept mee as her husband, and shee answered mee, with her full consent. Wherein, if it may seeme that shee was deceived, I am not any way to be blamed, but she, for not demanding, what, and who I was.
This then is the great evill, the great offence, and the great injurie committed by my friend Gisippus, and by mee as a Lover: that Sophronia is secretly become the wife of Titus Quintus Fulvius. And for this cause, like spies you watch him, threaten him daily, as if you intended to teare him in pieces. What could you doe more, if hee had given her to a man of the very vilest condition? to a villaine, to a slave? What prisons? what fetters? Or what torments are sufficient for this fact? But leaving these frivolous matters, let us come to discourse of more moment, and better beseeming your attention.
The time is come, that I may no longer continue heere, because Publius my Father is dead, and I must needs returne to Rome, wherefore being minded to take Sophronia thither with mee, I was the more willing to acquaint you therewith, as also what else I have said, which otherwise had still beene concealed from you. Nor can you but take it in good part, if you be wise, and rest well contented with what is done: considering, if I had any intention eyther to deceive, or otherwise wrong you, I could have basely left her, and made a scorne both of her and you, you not having any power to stay mee heere. But the Gods will never permitte that any couragious Romane, should ever conceive so vile and degenerate a thought.
Sophronia, by ordination of the Gods, by force of humane Lawes, and by the laudable consent of my friend Gisippus, as also the powerfull command of Love is mine. But you perchance, imagining your selves to be wiser then the Gods, or any other men whatsoever; may thinke ill of it, and more brutishly then beasts, condemne their working in two kinds, which would be offensive to mee. The one is, your detaining of Sophronia from mee, of whom you have no power, but what pleaseth mee. The other, is your bitter threatnings against Gisippus my deare friend, to whom you are in duty obliged. In both which cases, how unreasonablie soever you carrie your selves, I intend not at this time to presse any further. But rather let mee counsell you like a friend, to cease your hatred and disdaine, and suffer Sophronia to be delivered mee, that I may depart contentedly from you as a kinsman, and (being absent) remaine your friend: assuring you, that whether what is done shall please or displease you, if you purpose to proceed any otherwise: I will take Gisippus along with me,, and when I come to Rome, take such sure order, to fetch her hence, who in justice is mine, even in meere despight of you all, and then you shall feele by sound experience, how powerfull is the just indignation of the wronged Romanes.”
When Titus had thus concluded his Oration, he arose with a sterne and discontented countenance, and tooke Gisippus by the hand, plainly declaring, that he made small account of all the rest that were in the Temple; and shaking his head at them, rather menaced then any other wise seemed to care for them.
They which tarried, when they were gone, considering partly on the reasons alleadged by Titus, and partly terrified by his latest speeches; became induced, to like well of his alliance and amitie, as (with common consent) they concluded: that it was much better to accept Titus as their kinsman (seeing Gisippus had made manifest refusall thereof) than to lose the kinred of the one, and procure the hatred of the other. Wherefore they went to seeke Titus, and said unto him, they were very well contented that Sophronia should bee his Wife, hee their deare and loving kinsman, and Gisippus to remaine their much respected friend. And embracing one another, making a solemne feast, such as in the like cases is necessarilie required, they departed from him, presently sending Sophronia to him, who making a vertue of necessity, converted her love (in short time after) to Titus, in as effectuall manner, as formerly shee had done to Gisippus, and so was sent away with him to Rome, where she was received and welcommed with very great honour.
Gisippus remaining still at Athens, in small regard of eyther theirs or his owne friends: not long after by meanes of sundry troublesome Citizens; and partialities happening among the common people, was banished from Athens, and hee, as also all his familie, condemned to perpetuall exile: during which tempestuous time, Gisippus was become not onely wretchedly poore, but wandred abroad as a common begger; in which miserable condition he travelled to Rome, to try if Titus would take any acknowledgement of him. Understanding that he was living, and one most respected among the Romanes, as being a great Commander and a Senator: he enquired for the place where hee dwelt, and going to be neere about his house, stayed there so long, till Titus came home, yet not daring to manifest himselfe, or speake a word to him, in regard of his poore and miserable estate, but strove to have him see him, to the end, that hee might acknowledge and call him by his name; notwithstanding, Titus passed by him without either speech, or looking on him: Which when Gisippus perceived, and making full account, that (at the least) he would remember him, in regard of former courtesies, done to him: confounded with griefe and desperate thoughtes, hee departed thence, never meaning to see him any more.
Now, in regard it was night, he having eaten nothing all that day, nor provided of one penny to buy him any food, wandred he knew not whether, desiring rather to die than live; hee came at last to an old ruinous part of the City, over-spred with briers and bushes, and seldome resorted unto by any: where finding a hollow Cave or vault, he entred into it, meaning there to weare away the comfortlesse night, and laying himselfe downe on the hard ground, almost starke naked, and without any warme garments, over-wearied with weeping, at last he fell into a sleepe.
It fortuned that two men, who had beene abroad the same night, committing thefts and robberies together; somwhat very earlie in the morning, came to the same Cave, intending there to share and divide their booties, and difference happening betweene them about it, hee that was the stronger person, slew there the other, and then went away with the whole purchase.
Gisippus having heard and seene the manner of this accident, was not a little joyfull, because he had now found a way to death, without laying any violent hand on himselfe; for life being very loathsome to him, it was his only desire to die. Wherfore, he would not budge from the place, but taried there so long, till the Sergeants and Officers of justice (by information of him that did the deede) came thither well attended, and furiously ledde Gisippus thence to prison.
Being examined concerning this bloudy fact, he plainly confessed, that hee himselfe had committed the murder, and afterward would not depart from the Cave, but purposely stayed for apprehension, as being truely toucht with compunction for so foule an offence: upon which eremptorie confession, Marcus Varro being then Praetor, gave sentence that he should be crucified on a Crosse, as it was the usuall manner of death in those dayes. Titus chancing to come at the same time into Praetorium, advisedly beholding the face of the condemned man (as hee sate upon the bench) knew him to bee Gysippus, not a little wondring at this strange accident, the povertie of his estate, and what occasion should bring him thither, especially in the questioning for his life, and before the Tribunall of justice.
His soule earnestly thirsting, by all possible meanes to helpe and defend him, and no other course could now be taken for safetie of his life, but by accusing himselfe, to excuse and cleare the other of the crime: hee stept from off the judgement bench, and crouding through the throng to the Barre, called out to the Praetor in this manner. Marcus Varro, recall thy sentence given on the condemned man sent away, because hee is truely guiltlesse and innocent: With one bloudie blow have I offended the Gods, by killing that wretched man, whom the Serjeants found this morning slaine, wherefore Noble Praetor, let no innocent mans bloud be shed for it, but onely mine that have offended.
Marcus Varro stood like a man confounded with admiration, being very sorrie, for that which the whole assistants had both seene and heard, yet hee could not (with honour) desist from what must needs be done, but would performe the Lawes severe injunction. And sending for condemned Gisippus backe againe, in the presence of Titus, thus he spake to him. How becamest thou so madly incensed, as (without any torment inflicted on thee) to confesse an offence by thee never committed? Art thou wearie of thy life? Thou chargest thy selfe falsly, to be the person who this last night murdered the man in the Cave, and there is another that voluntarily also doth confesse his guiltinesse.
Gisippus lifting up his eyes, and perceiving it was Titus, conceived immediately, that he had done this onely for his deliverance, as one that remembred him sufficiently, and would not be ungratefull for former kindnesses received. Wherefore, the teares flowing abundantly down his cheekes, he said to the Judge Varro, it was none but I that murdered the man, wherefore, I commiserate the case of this Noble Gentleman Titus, who speakes now too late for the safety of my life. Titus on the other side, said. Noble Praetor, this man (as thou seest) is a stranger heere, and was found without any weapon, fast asleepe by the dead body: thou mayst then easily perceive, that meerely the miserable condition wherein he is, hath made him desperate, and he would make mine offence the occasion of his death. Absolve him, and send me to the Crosse, for none but I have deserved to die for this fact.
Varro was amazed, to observe with what earnest instance each of them strove to excuse the other, which halfe perswaded him in his soule, that they were both guiltlesse. And as he was starting-up, with full intent to acquaint them: a yong man, who had stood there all this while, and observed the hard pleading on either side; he crowded into the Barre, being named Publius Ambustus, a fellow of lewd life, and utterly out of hopes, as being debauched in all his fortunes, and knowne among the Romaines to be a notorious theefe, who verily had committed the murder. Well knew his conscience, that none of them were guilty of the crime, wherewith each so wilfully charged himselfe: being therefore truely toucht with remorse, he stept before Marcus Varro, saying.
Honourable Praetor, mine owne horrid and abominable actions, have induced me thus to intrude my selfe, for clearing the strict contention betweene these two persons. And questionlesse, some God or greater power, hath tormented my wretched soule, and so compunctually solicited me, as I cannot chuse, but make open confession of my sinne. Here therefore, I doe apparantly publish, that neither of these men is guilty of the offence, wherewith so wilfully each chargeth himselfe. I am the villaine, who this morning murdered the man in the Cave, one of no greater honesty then my selfe, and seeing this poore man lie there sleeping, while we were dividing the stolne booties betweene us; I slew my Companyon, because I would be the sole possessor. As for Noble Lord Titus, he had no reason thus to accuse himselfe, because [he] is a man of no such base quality: let them both then be delivered, and inflict the sentence of death on me.
Octavius Caesar, to whom tydings was brought of this rare accident, commanding them al three to be brought before him; would needs understand the whole History, in every particular as all had happened, which was substantially related to him. Whereupon, Octavius pleased them all three: the two noble friendes, because they were innocent, and the third, for openly revealing the very truth.
Titus tooke home with him his friend Gisippus, and after he had sharpely reproved him for his distrust, and cold credence of his friendship: he brought him to Sophronia, who welcomed him as lovingly, as if he had bin her naturall borne brother, bemoaning his hard and disastrous fortune, and taking especiall care, to convert all passed distresses, into as happy and comfortable a change, fitting him with garments and attendants, beseeming his degree both in Nobility and vertue. Titus, out of his honourable bounty, imparted halfe his lands and rich possessions to him, and afterward gave him in marriage, his owne Sister, a most beautifull Lady, named Fulvia, saying to him beside. My deare friend Gisippus, it remaineth now in thine owne election, whether thou wilt live here still with me, or returne backe to Athens, with all the wealth which I have bestowed on thee. But Gisippus, being one way constrayned, by the sentence of banishment from his native City, and then againe, in regard of the constant love, which he bare to so true and thankefull friend as Titus was: concluded to live there as a loyall Roman, where he with his Fulvia, and Titus with his faire Sophronia, lived long after together in one and the same house, augmenting daily (if possible it might be) their amity beyond all other equalizing.
A most sacred thing therefore is (ordiall amity, worthy not onely of singuler reverence, but also to be honoured with eternall commendation, as being the onely wise Mother of all magnificence and honesty, the Sister of Charity and Gratitude, the enemy to hatred and avarice, and which is alwayes ready (without attending to be requested) to extend all vertuous actions to others, which she would have done to her selfe. Her rare and divine effects, in these contrary times of ours, are not to be found between two such persons, which is a mighty fault, and greatly checketh the miserable covetousnesse of men, who respecting nothing but onely their particular benefit; have banished true Amity, to the utmost confines of the whole earth, and sent her into perpetuall exile.
What love, what wealth, or affinity of kindred, could have made Gisippus feele (even in the intyrest part of his soule) the fervent compassion, the teares, the sighes of Titus, and with such efficacy as plainely appeared: to make him consent, that his faire elected Spouse, by him so dearely esteemed, should become the wife of his Companion, but onely the precious league of Amity?
What Lawes, what threatnings, what feares, could cause the yong armes of Gisippus to abstaine embraces, betaking himselfe to solitary walkes, and obscure places, when in his owne bedde, he might have enjoyed so matchlesse a beauty (who perhaps desired it so much as himselfe) but onely the gracious title of Amity? What greatnesse, what merits or precedence, could cause Gisippus not to care, for the losse of his kindred, those of Sophronia, yea, of Sophronia her selfe, not respecting the dishonest murmurings of base minded people, their vile and contemptible language, scornes and mockeries, and all to content and satisfie a friend, but onely Divine Amity?
Come now likewise to the other side. What occasions could compell Noble Titus, so promptly and deliberatly, to procure his owne death, to rescue his friend from the crosse, and inflict the pain and shame upon himselfe, pretending not [to] see or know Gisippus at all, had it not bin wrought by powerfull Amity? What cause else could make Titus so liberall, in dividing (with such willingnesse) the larger part of his patrimony to Gisippus, when Fortune had dispossest him of his owne, but onely heaven-borne Amity? What else could have procured Titus, without any further dilation, feare or suspition, to give his Sister Fulvia in marriage to Gisippus, when he saw him reduced to such extreame poverty, disgrace and misery, but onely infinite Amity? To what end doe men care then, to covet and procure great multitudes of kinred, store of brethren, numbers of children, and to encrease (with their owne monyes) plenty of servants: when by the least losse and dammage happening, they forget all duty to Father, Brother, or Master? Amity and true friendship is of a quite contrary nature, satisfying (in that sacred bond) the obligation due to all degrees, both of parentage, and all alliences else.
Declaring what an honourable vertue courtesie is, in them that truely know how to use them
Saladine, the great Soldan of Babylon, in the habite of a Merchant, was honourably received and welcommed, into the house of Signior Thorello d’Istria. Who travelling to the Holy Land, prefixed a certaine time to his Wife, for his returne back to her againe, wherein, if he failed, it was lawfull for her to take another Husband. By clouding himselfe in the disguise of a Faulkner, the Soldan tooke notice of him, and did him many great honours. Afterward, Thorello falling sicke, by Magicall Art, he was conveighed in one night to Pavia, when his Wife was to be married on the morrow: where making himselfe knowne to her, all was disappointed, and shee went home with him to his owne house.
Adam Philomena having concluded her discourse, and the rare acknowledgement, which Titus made of his esteemed friend Gisippus, extolled justly as it deserved by all the Company: the King, reserving the last office to Dioneus (as it was at the first granted him) began to speake thus. Without all question to the contrary (worthy Ladies) nothing can be more truely said, then what Madame Philomena, hath delivered, concerning Amity, and her complaint in the conclusion of her Novell, is not without great reason, to see it so slenderly reverenced and respected (now a dayes) among all men. But if we had met here in duty onely for correcting the abuses of iniquity, and the malevolent courses of this preposterous age; I could proceed further in this just cause of complaint. But because our end aimeth at matters of other nature, it commeth to my memory to tel you of a History, which (perhaps) may seeme somewhat long, but altogether pleasant, concerning a magnificent act of great Saladine: to the end, that by observing those things which you shall heare in my Novell, if we cannot (by reason of our manifold imperfections) intirely compasse the amity of any one; yet (at least) we may take delight, in stretching our kindnesse (in good deeds) so farre as we are able, in hope one day after, some worthy reward will ensue thereon, as thereto justly appertaining.
Let me tell you then, that (as it is afermed by many) in the time of the Emperour Frederick, first of that name, the Christians, for the better recovery of the holy land, resolved to make a generall voyage over the Seas. Which being understood by Saladine, a very worthy Prince, and then Soldan of Babylon: he concluded with himselfe, that he would (in person) goe see, what preparation the Christian Potentates made for this Warre, that hee might the better provide for himselfe. Having setled all things orderly in Aegypt for the busines, and making an outward appearance, as if he purposed a pilgrimage to Mecha: he set onward on his journey, habited like a Merchant, attended onely with two of his most Noble and wisest Baschaes, and three waiting servants.
When he had visited many Christian Provinces, and was riding thorow Lombardle, to passe the mountaines; it fortuned, in his journeying from Millaine to Pavia, and the day being very farre spent, so that night hastened speedily on him: he met with a Gentleman, named Signior Thorella d’Istria, but dwelling at Pavia, who with his men, Hawkes and Hounds, went to a house of his, seated in a singular place, and on the River of Ticinum. Signior Thorello seeing such men making towardes him, presently imagined, that they were some Gentle-strangers, and such hee desired to respect with honor.
Wherefore, Saladine demanding of one of Thorelloes men, how farre (as then) it was to Pavia, and whether they might reach thither by such an houre, as would admit their entrance into the Citty: Thorello would not suffer his servant to returne the answer, but replyed thus himselfe. Sir (quoth he) you cannot reach Pavia, but night will abridge you of any entraunce there. I beseech you then Sir, answered Saladine, favour us so much (because we are all strangers in these parts) as to tell us where we may be well lodged. That shal I Sir, said Thorello, and very gladly too.
Even at the instant Sir, as we met with you, I had determined in my mind, to send one of my servants somewhat neere to Pavia, about a businesse concerning my selfe: he shall go along with you, and conduct you to a place, where you will be very well entertayned. So, stepping to him, who was of best discretion amongst his men, he gave order to him what should bee done, and sent him with them. Himselfe, making hast by a farre neerer way, caused Supper to be prepared in worthy manner, and the Tables to be covered in his Garden; and all things being in good readinesse, he sate downe at his doore, to attend the comming of his guests. The Servingman, discoursing with the Gentlemen on divers occasions, guided them by such unusuall passages, as (before they could discerne it) he brought them to his Masters house; where so soone as Thorello saw them arrived, he went forth to meet them, assuring them all of most hearty welcome.
Saladine, who was a man of accute understanding, did well perceive, that this Knight Thorello misdoubted his going with him, if (when he met him) hee should have invited him; and therefore, because he would not be denied, of entertaining him into his house; he made choise of this kinde and honourable course, which caused him to returne this answer. Gentle Sir, if courtesie in one man to another, do deserve condemning, then may we justly complaine of you, who meeting us upon the way, which you have shortened by your kindnesse, and which we are no way able to deserve, wee are constrained to accept, taking you to bee the mirrour of courtesie. Thorello being a Knight of ingenious apprehension, and wel languaged, replyed thus.
Gentlemen; this courtesie (seeing you terme it so) which you receive of me, in regard of that justly belonging to you, as your faces do sufficiently informe mee, is matter of very slender account. But assuredly out of Pavia, you could not have any lodging, deserving to be termed good. And therefore let it not bee displeasing to you, if you have a little gone forth of the common rode way, to have your entertainment somewhat bettered, as many travaylers are easily induced to do.
Having thus spoken, all the people of the house shewed themselves, in serviceable manner to the Gentlemen, taking their horses as they dismounted, and Thorello himselfe, conducted the three Gentlemen, into three severall faire Chambers, which in costly maner were prepared for them, where their boots were pluckt off, faire Napkins with Manchets lay ready, and delicate Wines to refresh their wearied spirits, much prety conference being entercoursed, til Supper time invited them thence.
Saladine, and they that were with him, spake the Latine tongue very readily, by which meanes they were the better understoode; and Thorello seemed (in their judgement) to bee the most gracious, compleate, and best spoken Gentleman, as ever they met with in all their journey. It appeared also (on the other side) to Signiour Thorello, that his guests were men of great merit, and worthy of much more esteeme, then there he could use towards them: wherefore, it did highly distast him, that he had no more friends there this night to keepe them company, or himselfe better provided for their entertainment, which hee intended (on the morrow) to recompence with larger amends at dinner.
Heereupon, having instructed one of his men with what hee intended, he sent him to Pavia, which was not farre off (and where he kept no doore shut) to his Wife, named Madam Adialetta; a Woman singularly wise, and of a Noble spirit, needing little or no direction, especially when she knew her husbands minde. As they were walking in the Garden, Thorello desired to understand, of whence, and what they were? Whereto Saladine thus answered. Sir, wee are Cyprian Marchants, comming now from Cyprus, and are travalling to Paris, about affaires of importance. Now trust me Syr, replyed Thorello, I could heartily wish, that this Countrey of ours would yeeld such Gentlemen, as your Cyprus affordeth Marchants. So, falling from one discourse unto another, Supper was served in; and looke howe best themselves pleased, so they sate at the Table, where (we need make no doubt) they were respected in honourable order.
So soone as the Tables were withdrawne, Thorello knowing they might be weary, brought them againe to their Chambers, where committing them to their good rest, himselfe went to bed soone after. The Servant sent to Pavia, delivered the message to his Lady; who, not like a woman of ordinary disposition, but rather truely Royall, sent Thorelloes servants into the City, to make preparation for a Feast indeed, and with lighted Torches (because it was somewhat late) they invited the very greatest and noblest persons of the Citie, all the roomes being hanged with the richest Arras, Clothes and Golde worke, Velvets, Silkes, and all other rich adornments, in such manner as her husband had commanded, and answerable to her owne worthy mind, being no way to learne, in what manner to entertaine strangers.
On the morrow morning, the Gentlemen arose, and mounting on horsebacke with Signior Thorello, he called for his Hawkes and Hounds, brought them to the River, where he shewed two or three faire flights: but Saladine desiring to know, which was the fayrest Hostery in all Pavia, Thorello answered. Gentlemen, I wil shew you that my selfe, in regard I have occasion to ride thither. Which they beleeving, were the better contented, and rode on directly unto Pavia; arriving there about nine of the clocke, and thinking he guided them to the best Inne, he brought them to his owne house; where, above fifty of the worthiest Citizens, stood ready to welcome the Gentlemen, imbracing them as they lighted from their Horsses. Which Saladine, and his associates perceiving, they guessed as it was indeede, and Saladine sayd. Beleeve me worthy Thorello, this is not answerable to my demand; you did too much yester night, and much more then we could desire or deserve: Wherefore, you might wel be the sooner discharged of us, and let us travaile on our journey.
Noble Gentlemen, replyed Thorello (for in mine eye you seeme no lesse) that courtesie which you met with yester-night, I am to thanke Fortune for, more then you, because you were then straited by such necessity, as urged your acceptance of my poore Country house. But now this morning, I shall account my selfe much beholding to you (as the like will all these worthy Gentlemen here about you) if you do but answer kindnes with kindnes, and not refuse to take a homely dinner with them.
Saladine and his friends, being conquerd with such potent perswasions, and already dismounted from their horses, saw that all deniall was meerly in vaine: and therefore thankfully condiscending (after some few ceremonious complements were over-past) the Gentlemen conducted them to their Chambers, which were most sumptuously prepared for them, and having laid aside their riding garments, being a little re reshed with Cakes and choice Wines; they descended into the dining Hall, the pompe whereof I am not able to report.
When they had washed, and were seated at the Tables, dinner was served in most magnificent sort; so that if the Emperor himself had bin there, he could not have bin more sumptuously served. And although Saladine and his Baschaes were very Noble Lords, and wonted to see matters of admiration: yet could they do no lesse now, but rather exceeded in marvaile, considering the qualitie of the Knight, whom they knew to bee a Citizen, and no Prince or great Lord. Dinner being ended, and divers familiar conferences passing amongst them: because it was exceeding hot, the Gentlemen of Pavia (as it pleased Thorello to appoint) went to repose themselves awhile, and he keeping company with his three guests, brought them into a goodly Chamber, where, because he would not faile in the least scruple of courtesie, or conceale from them the richest jewell which he had; he sent for his Lady and wife, because (as yet) they had not seene her.
She was a Lady of extraordinary beauty, tall stature, very sumptuously attired, and having two sweet Sonnes (resembling Angels) she came with them waiting before her, and graciously saluted her guests.
At her comming, they arose, and having received hir with great reverence, they seated her in the midst, kindly cherishing the two Children. After some gracious Language past on eyther side, she demanded of whence, and what they were, which they answered in the same kind as they had done before to her husband. Afterward, with a modest smiling countenance, she sayd. Worthy Gentlemen, let not my weake Womanish discretion appeare distastable, in desiring to crave one especiall favour from you, namely, not to refuse or disdaine a small gift, wherewith I purpose to present you. But considering first, that women (according to their simple faculty) are able to bestow but silly gifts: so you would be pleased, to respect more the person that is the giver, then the quality or quantity of the gift.
Then causing to be brought (for each of them) two goodly gowns or Robes (made after the Persian manner) the one lyned thorough with cloth of Gold, and the other with the costlyest Fur; not after such fashion as Citizens or Marchants use to weare, but rather beseeming Lords of greatest account, and three light under-wearing Cassocks or Mandillions, of Carnatian Sattin, richly Imbroidred with Gold and Pearles, and lined thorow with White Taffata, presenting these gifts to him, she sayd. I desire you Gentlemen to receive these meane trifies, such as you see my Husband weares the like, and these other beside, considering you are so far from your Wives, having travailed a long way already, and many miles more yet to overtake; also Marchants (being excellent men) affect to be comely and handsome in their habits; although these are of slender value, yet (in necessity) they may do you service.
Now was Saladine and his Baschaes halfe astonyed with admiration, at the magnificent minde of Signiour Thorello, who would not forget the least part of courtesie towardes them, and greatly doubted (seeing the beauty and riches of the Garments) least they were discovered by Thorello. Neverthelesse, one of them thus answered the Lady. Beleeve me Madame, these are rich guiftes, not lightly either to be given, rich or receyved: but in regard of your strict imposition, we are not able to deny them. This being done, with most gracious and courteous demeanour, she departed from them, leaving her Husband to keepe them still companie; who furnished their servants also, with divers worthy necessaries fitting for their journey.
Afterward, Thorello (by very much importunitie) wonne them to stay with him all the rest of the day; wherefore, when they had rested themselves awhile, being attyred in their newly given robes; they rode on Horsebacke thorow the Citty. When supper time came, they supt in most honourable and worthy company, beeing afterwards Lodged in most faire and sumptuous Chambers, and being risen in the morning, in exchange of their horses (over-wearied with Travaile) they found three other very richly furnished, and their men also in like manner provided. Which when Saladine had perceyved, he tooke his Baschaes aside, and spake in this manner.
By our greatest Gods, I never met with any man, more compleat in all noble perfections, more courteous and kinde then Thorello is. If all the Christian Kings, in the true and heroicall nature of Kings, do deale as honourably as I see this Knight doeth, the Soldane of Babylon is not able to endure the comming of one of them, much lesse so many, as wee see preparing to make head against us. But beholding, that both refusall and acceptation, was all one in the minde of Thorello: after much kinde Language had bin intercoursed betweene them, Saladine (with his Attendants) mounted on horsebacke.
Signiour Thorello, with a number of his honourable Friends (to the number of an hundred Horsse) accompanied them a great distance from the Citie, and although it greeved Saladine exceedingly, to leave the company of Thorello, so dearely he was affected to him: but necessity (which controlleth the power of all lawes whatsoever) must needs divide them: yet requesting his returne agayne that way, if possibly it might be granted; which Saladine promised but did not performe. Well Gentlemen (quoth Thorello at parting) I know not what you are, neither (against your will) do I desire it: but whether you be Marchants or no remember me in your kindnesse, and so to the heavenly powers I commend you. Saladine, having taken his leave of all them that were with Thorello, returned him this answer. Sir, it may one day hereafter so happen, as we shal let you see some of our Marchandises, for the better confirmation of your beleefe, and our profession.
Thus parted Signior Thorello and his friends, from Saladine and his company, who verily determined in the heighth of his minde, if he should be spared with life, and the warre (which he expected) concluded: to requite Thorello with no lesse courtesie, then hee had already declared to him; conferring a long while after with his Baschaes, both of him and his beauteous Lady, not forgetting any of their courteous actions, but gracing them all with deserved commendation. But after they had (with very laborious paines) surveyed most of the Westerne parts, they all tooke Shipping, and returned into Alexandria: sufficiently informed, what preparation was to be made for their owne defence. And Signior Thorello being come backe againe to Pavia, consulted with his privat thoughts (many times after) what these three travailers should be, but came farre short of knowing the truth, till (by experience) hee became better informed.
When the time was come, that the Christians were to make their passage, and wonderfull great preparations, in all places performed: Signiour Thorello, notwithstanding the teares and intreaties of his Wife, determined to be one in so woorthy and honourable a voyage: and having made his provision ready, nothing wanting but mounting on Horsebacke, to go where he should take shipping; to his Wife (whom he most intirely affected) thus hee spake. Madame, I goe as thou seest in this famous Voyage, as well for mine Honour, as also the benefite of my soule; all our goodes and possessions, I commit to thy vertuous care. And because I am not certaine of my returning backe againe, in regard of a thousand accidents which may happen, in such a Countrey as I goe unto: I desire onely but one favour of thee, whatsoever daunger shall befall mee; Namely, when any certaine tydings shall be brought you of my death; to stay no longer before thy second marriage, but one yeare, one month, and one day; to begin on this day of my departing from thee.
The Lady, who wept exceedingly, thus answered. Alas Sir: I know not how to carry my selfe, in such extremity of greefe, as now you leave me; but if my life surmount the fortitude of sorrow, and whatsoever shall happen to you for certainty, either life or death: I will live and dye the Wife of Signiour Thorello, and make my obsequies in his memory onely. so Madame (replyed her Husband) not so; Be not overrash in promising any thing, albeit I am well assured, that so much as consisteth in thy strength, I make no question of thy performance. But consider withall (deare heart) thou art a yong woman, beautifull, of great parentage, and no way thereto inferior in the blessings of Fortune.
Thy Vertues are many, and universally both divulged and knowen, in which respect, I make no doubt; but divers and sundrie great Lords and Gentlemen (if but the least rumor of my death be noysed) will make sulte for thee to thy parents and brethren, from whose violent solicitings, wouldst thou never so resolutely make resistance, yet thou canst not be able to defend thy selfe; but whether thou wilt or no, thou must yeeld to please them; and this is the only reason, why I would tie thee to this limited time, and not one day or minute longer.
Adalietta, sweetly hugging him in her armes, and melting her selfe in kisses, sighes, and teares on his face, said. Well Sir, I will do so much as I am able, in this your most kinde and loving imposition: and when I shall bee compelled to the contrary: yet rest thus constantly assured, that I will not breake this your charge, so much as in thought. Praying ever heartily to the heavenly powers, that they will direct your course home againe to me, before your prefixed date, or else I shall live in continual languishing. In the knitting up of this woful parting, embracing and kissing either infinit times, the Lady tooke a Ring from off her finger, and giving it to her husband, said. If I chaunce to die before I see you againe, remember me when you looke on this. He receiving the Ring, and bidding all the rest of his Friends farewell, mounted on horsebacke, and rode away wel attended.
Being come unto Geneway, he and his company boorded a Galley, and (in few dayes after) arrived at Acres, where they joyned themselves with the Christian Army, wherein there happened a verie dangerous mortality: During which time of so sharpe visitation (the cause unknowne whence it proceeded) whether thorough the industrie, or rather the good Fortune of Saladine, well-neere all the rest of the Christians (which escaped death) were surprized his prisoner (without a blow strucken) and sundred and imprisoned in divers Townes and Citties. Amongest the which number of prisoners, it was Signior Thorelloes chaunce to be one, and walked in bonds to Alexandria, where being unknowne, and fearing least he should be discovered: constrained thereto meerly by necessity, hee shewed himselfe in the condition of a Faulconer; wherein he was very excellently experienced, and by which means his profession was made knowne to Saladine, hee delivered out of prison, and created the Soldans Faulconer.
Thorello (whom the Soldane called by no other name, then the Christian, neyther of them knowing the other) sadly now remembred his departure from Pavia, devising and practising many times, how he might escape thence, but could not compasse it by any possible meanes. Wherefore, certaine Ambassadours beeing sent by the Genewayes, to redeeme divers Cittizens of theirs, there detained as prisoners, and being ready to returne home againe: he purposed to write to his Wife, that he was living, and wold repaire to her so soone as he could, desiring the still continued rememberance of her limited time. By close and cunning meanes hee wrote the Letter, earnestly intreating one of the Ambassadors (who knew him perfectly, but made no outward apparance thereof) to deale in such sort for him, that the Letter might be delivered to the handes of the Abbot Di San Pietro in Ciel d’Oro, who was (indeede) his Unckle.
While Thorello remayned in this his Faulconers condition, it fortuned uppon a day, that Saladine, conversing with him about his Hawkes: Thorello chanced to smile, and used such a kinde of gesture or motion with his Lippes, which Saladine (when he was in his house at Pavia) had heedfully observed, and by this note, instantly he remembred Signior Thorello, and began to eye him very respectively, perswading himselfe that he was the same man. And therefore falling from their former kinde of discoursing: Tell me: Christian (quoth Saladine) what Country-man art thou of the West? Sir, answered Signiour Thorello, I am by Country a Lombard, borne in a Citty called Pavia, a poore man, and of as poore condition.
So soone as Saladine had heard these Words; becomming assured in that which (but now) he doubted, he saide within himselfe. Now the Gods have given me time, wherein I may make knowne to this man, how thankefully I accepted his kinde courtesie, and cannot easily forget it. Then, without saying any thing else, causing his Guard-robe to be set open, he tooke him with him thither, and sayde. Christian, observe well all these Garments, and quicken thy remembrance, in telling mee truly, whether thou hast seene any of them before now, or no. Signiour Thorello looked on them all advisedly, and espyed those two especiall Garments, which his Wife had given one of the strange Merchants; yet he durst not credit it, or that possibly it could be the same, neverthelesse he said. Sir, I doe not know any of them, but true it is, that these two doe resemble two such Robes, as I was wont to weare my selfe, and these (or the like) were given to three Merchants, that happened to visite my poore house.
Now could Saladine containe no longer, but embracing him joyfully in his armes, he said. You are Signior Thorello d’Istria, and I am one of those three Merchants to whom your Wife gave these Roabes: and now the time is come to give you credible intelligence of my Merchandise, as I promised at my departing from you, for such a time (I told you) would come at length. Thorello, was both glad, and bashfull together: glad, that he had entertained such a Guest, and bashfully ashamed, that his welcome had not exceeded in more bountifull manner. Thorello, replyed Saladine, seeing the Gods have sent you so happily to me: account your selfe to be soly Lord here, for I am now no more then a private man.
I am not able to expresse their counterchanges of courtesie, Saladine commanding him to be cloathed in Royall garments, and brought into the presence of his very greatest Lords, where having spoken liberally in his due commendation, he commanded them to honour him as himselfe, if they expected any grace or favour from him, which every one did immediatly, but (above all the rest) those two Baschaes, which accompanied Saladine at his house. The greatnesse of this pompe and glory, so suddenly throwne on Signior Thorello, made him halfe forget all matters of Lomberdie; and so much the rather, because he had no doubt at all, but that his letters, were safely come to the hands of his Uncle.
Here I am to tell you, that in the Campe or Army of the Christians, on the day when Saladine made his surprizal, there was a Provinciall Gentleman dead and buried, who was Signior Thorello de Dignes, a man of very honourable and great esteeme, in which respect (Signior Thorello d’Istria, knowne throughout the Army, by his Nobility and valour) whosoever heard that Signior Thorello was dead: beleeved it to be Thorello d’Istria, and not he of Dignes, so that Thorello d’Istriaes unknowne surprizall and thraldome, made it also to passe for an assured truth.
Beside, many Italians returning home, and carrying this report for credible; some were so audaciously presumptuous, as they avouched upon their oathes, that not onely they saw him dead, but were present at his buriall likewise. Which rumour comming to the eare of his Wife, and likewise to his kinred and hers: procured a great and grievous mourning among them, and all that happened to heare thereof.
Over-tedious time it would require, to relate at large, the publique griefe and sorrow, with the continuall lamentations of his Wife, who (within some few moneths after) became tormented with new marriage solicitings, before she had halfe sighed for the first: the very greatest persons of Lomberdie making the motion, being daily followed and furthered by her owne brothers and friends. Still (drowned in teares) she returned denyall, till in the end, when no contradiction could prevaile, to satisfie her parents, and the importunate pursuers: she was constrained to reveale, the charge imposed on her by her Husband, which shee had vowed infallibly to keepe, and till that very time, she would in no wise consent.
While wooing for a second wedding with Adalietta, proceeded in this manner at Pavia, it chanced on a day, that Signior Thorello had espied a man in Alexandria whom he saw with the Geneway Ambassadours, when they set thence towards Geneway with their Gallies. And causing him to be sent for, he demaunded of him, the successe of the voyage, and when the Gallies arrived at Geneway; whereto he returned him this answere. My Lord, our Gallies made a very fatall voyage, as it is (already) too well knowne in Creete, where my dwelling is. For when we drew neere Sicilie, there suddenly arose a very dangerous North-West-winde, which drove us on the quicke-Sands of Barbarie, where not any man escaped with life, onely my selfe excepted, but (in the wracke) two of my brethren perished.
Signior Thorello, giving credit to the mans words, because they were most true indeed, and remembring also, that the time limitted to his Wife, drew neere expiring within very few dayes, and no newes now possibly to be sent thither of his life, his Wife would questionlesse be marryed againe: he fell into such a deepe conceited melancholly, as food and sleepe forsooke him, whereupon, he kept his bed, setting downe his peremptory resolution for death. When Saladine (who dearely loved him) heard thereof, he came in all haste to see him, and having (by many earnest perswasions and entreaties) understood the cause of his melancholly and sickenesse: he very severely reproved him, because he could no sooner acquaint him therewith. Many kind and comfortable speeches, he gave him, with constant assurance, that (if he were so minded) he would so order the businesse for him; as he should be at Pavia, by the same time as he had appointed to his Wife, and revealed to him also the manner how.
Thorello verily beleeved the Soldanes promise, because he had often heard the possibility of performance, and others had effected as much, divers times else-where: whereupon he began to comfort himselfe, soliciting the Soldan earnestly that it might be accomplished. Saladine sent for one of his Sorcerers (of whose skill he had formerly made experience) to take a direct course, how Signior Thorello should be carryed (in one night) to Pavia, and being in his bed. The Magitian undertooke to doe it, but, for the Gentlemans more ease, he must first be possessed with an entraunced dead sleep. Saladine being thus assured of the deeds full effecting, he came againe to Thorello, and finding him to be setled for Pavia (if possibly it might be accomplished by the determined time, or else no other expectation but death) he said unto him as followeth.
Signior Thorello, if with true affection you love your Wife, and misdoubt her marriage to some other man: I protest unto you, by the supreme powers, that you deserve no reprehension in any manner whatsoever. For, of all the Ladyes that ever I have seene, she is the onely woman, whose carriage, vertues, and civile speaking (setting aside beauty, which is but a fading flowre) deserveth most graciously to be respected, much more to be affected in the highest degree. It were to me no meane favour of our Gods, (seeing Fortune directed your course so happily hither) that for the short or long time we have to live, we might reigne equally together in these Kingdomes under my subjection. But if such grace may not be granted me, yet, seeing it stands mainly upon the perill of your life, to be at Pavia againe by your own limitted time, it is my chiefest comfort, that I am therewith acquainted, because I intended to have you conveighed thither, yea, even into your owne house, in such honourable order as your vertues doe justly merit, which in regard it cannot be so conveniently performed, but as I have already informed you, and as the necessity of the case urgently commandeth; accept it as it may be best accomplished.
Great Saladine (answered Thorella) effects (without words) have already sufficiently warranted your Gracious disposition towards me, farre beyond any requitall remayning in me; your word onely being enough for my comfort in this case, either dying or living. But in regard you have taken such order for my departure hence, I desire to have it done with all possible expedition, because to morrow is the very last day, that I am to be absent. Saladine protested that it should be done, and the same evening in the great Hall of his Pallace, commanded a rich and costly Bedde to be set up, the mattras formed after the Alexandrian manner, of Velvet and cloth Gold, the Quilts, counterpoints and coverings, sumptuously imbroydered with Orient Pearles and Precious Stones, supposed to be of inestimable value, and two rarely wrought Pillowes, such as best beseemed so stately a Bedde, the Curtaines and Vallans every way equall to the other pompe.
Which being done, he commanded that Thorello (who was indifferently recovered) should be attyred in one of his owne sumptuous Saracine Roabes, the very fairest and richest that ever was seene, and on his head a Majesticall Turbant, after the manner of his owne wearing, and the houre appearing to be somewhat late, he with many of his best Baschaes, went to the Chamber where Thorello was, and sitting downe a while by him, in teares thus he spake. Signior Thorello, the houre for sundering you and me, is now very neere, and because I cannot beare you company, in regard of the businesse you goe about, and which by no meanes will admit it: I am to take my leave of you in this Chamber, and therefore am purposely come to doe it. But before I bid you farewell, let me entreat you, by the love and friendship confirmed betweene us, to be mindfull of me, and to take such order (your affaires being fully finished in Lombardie) that I may once more enjoy the sight of you here, for a mutuall solace and satisfaction of our mindes, which are now divided by this urgent hast. Till which may be granted, let me want no visitation of your kind letters, commanding thereby of me, whatsoever here can possibly be done for you: assuring your selfe, no man living can command me as you doe.
Signior Thorello could not forbeare weeping, but being much hindred therby, answered in few words. That he could not possibly forget, his Gracious favours and extraordinary benefits used towards him, but would accomplish whatsoever hee commaunded, according as heaven did enable him.
Hereupon, Saladine embracing him, and kissing his forehead, said. All my Gods goe with you, and guard you from any perill, departing so out of the Chamber weeping, and his Baschaes (having likewise taken their leave of Thorello) followed Saladine into the Hall, whereas the Bedde stood readily prepared? Because it waxed very late, and the Magitian also there attending for his dispatch: the Phisitian went with the potion to Thorello, and perswading him, in the way of friendship, that it was onely to strengthen him after his great weaknes: he drank it off, being thereby immediately entraunced, and so presently sleeping, was (by Saladines command,) laid on the sumptuous and costly Bed, whereon stood an Imperiall Crowne of infinite value, appearing (by a description engraven on it) that Saladine sent it to Madame Adalietta, the wife of Thorello. On his finger also hee put a Ring, wherein was enchased an admirable Carbuncle, which seemed like a flaming Torche, the value thereof not to bee estimated. By him likewise hee laid a rich sword, with the girdle, hangers, and other furniture, such as seldome can be seene the like. Then hee laid a jewell on the Pillow by him, so sumptuouslie embelished with Pearles and precious Stones, as might have beseemed the greatest Monarch in the World to weare. Last of all, on either side of them, hee set two great Basons of pure Gold, full of double ducates, many cords of Orient Pearles, Rings, Girdles, and other costly jewells (over-tedious to bee recounted) and kissing him once more as hee lay in the bedde, commanded the Magitian to dispatch and be gone.
Instantly, the bedde and Thorello in it, in the presence of Saladine, was invisibly carried thence, and while he sate conferring with his Baschaes, the bed, Signior Thorello, and all the rich Jewells about him, was transported and set in the Church of San Pietro in Ciel d’Ore in Pavia, according to his own request, and soundly sleeping, being placed directly before the high Altar. Afterward, when the bells rung to Mattines, the Sexton entring the Church with a light in his hand (where hee beheld a light of greater splendor) and suddenly espied the sumptuous bedde there standing: not only was he smitten into admiration, but hee ranne away also very fearefully. When the Abbot and the Monkes mette him thus running into the Cloyster, they became amazed, and demanded the reason why he ranne in such haste, which the Sexton told them. How? quoth the Abbot, thou art no childe, or a new-come hither, to be so easilie affrighted in our holy Church, where Spirits can have no power to walke, God and Saint Peter (wee hope) are stronger for us then so: wherefore turne backe with us, and let us see the cause of thy feare.
Having lighted many Torches, the Abbot and his Monkes entred with the Sexton into the Church, where they beheld the wonderful riche bedde, and the Knight lying fast asleepe in it. While they stood all in amazement, not daring to approach neere the bedde, whereon lay such costly jewells: it chanced that Signior Thorello awaked, and breathed forth a vehement sigh. The Monkes and the Abbot seeing him to stirre, ranne all away in feare, crying aloud, God and S. Peter defend us.
By this time Thorello had opened his eyes, and looking round about him, perceived that hee was in the place of Saladines promise, whereof hee was not a little joyfull. Wherefore, sitting up in the bedde, and particularly observing all the things about him: albeit he knew sufficiently the magnificence of Saladine, yet now it appeared far greater to him, and imagined more largely thereof, then hee could doe before. But yet, without any other ceremony, seeing the flight of the Monkes, hearing their cry, and perceiving the reason; he called the Abbot by his name, desiring him not to be afraid, for he was his Nephew Thorello, and no other.
When the Abbot heard this, hee was ten times worse affrighted then before, because (by publique fame) hee had beene so many moneths dead and buried; but receiving (by true arguments) better assurance of him, and hearing him still call him by his name: blessing himselfe with the signe of the Crosse, hee went somewhat neerer to the bed, when Thorello said. My loving Uncle, and religious holy Father, wherof are you afraid? I am your loving Nephew, newly returned from beyond the Seas. The Abbot, seeing his beard to be grown long, and his habit after the Arabian fashion, did yet collect some resemblance of his former countenance; and being better perswaded of him, tooke him by the hand, saying:
Sonne thou art happily returned, yet there is not any man in our Citie, but doth verily beleeve thee to bee dead, and therefore doe not much wonder at our feare. Moreover, I dare assure thee, that thy Wife Adalietta, being conquered by the controuling command, and threatnings of her kinred (but much against her owne minde) is this very morning to be married to a new husband, and the marriage feast is solemnly prepared, in honour of this second nuptialls.
Thorello arising out of the bedde, gave gracious salutations to the Abbot and his Monkes, intreating earnestly of them all, that no word might be spoken of his returne, untill he had compleated an important businesse. Afterward, having safely secured the bedde, and all the rich Jewells, he fully acquainted the Abbot with all his passed fortunes, whereof he was immeasurably joyfull, and having satisfied him, concerning the new elected husband, Thorello said unto the Abbot. Unckle, before any rumour of my returne, I would gladly see my wives behavior at this new briding feast, and although men of religion are seldome seene at such joviall meetings: yet (for my sake) doe you so order the matter, that I (as an Arabian stranger) may be a guest under your protection; wherto the Abbot very gladly condescended.
In the morning, he sent to the Bridegroom, and advertised him, that he (with a stranger newly arrived) intended to dine with him, which the Gentleman accepted in thankefull manner. And when dinner time came, Thorello in his strange disguise went with the Abbot to the Bridegroomes house, where he was lookt on with admiration of all the guests, but not knowne or suspected by any one; because the Abbot reported him to be a Sarracine, and sent by the Soldane (in Ambassage) to the King of France. Thorello was seated at a by-table, but directly opposite to the new Bride, whom hee much delighted to looke on, and easily collected by her sad countenance, that shee was scarcely well pleased with this new nuptialls. She likewise beheld him very often, not in regard of any knowlege she took of him: for the bushiness of his beard, strangeness of habit, (but most of all) firm beleefe of his death, was the maine prevention.
At such time as Thorello thought it convenient, to approve how farre he was falne out of her remembrance; he took the ring which she gave him at his departure, and calling a young Page that waited on none but the Bride, said to him in Italian: Faire youth, goe to the Bride, and saluting her from me, tell her, it is a custome observed in my Country, that when any Stranger (as I am heere) sitteth before a new married Bride, as now shee is, in signe that hee is welcome to her feast, she sendeth the same Cup (wherein she drinketh her selfe) full of the best wine, and when the stranger hath drunke so much as him pleaseth, the Bride then pledgeth him with all the rest. The Page delivered the message to the Bride, who, being a woman of honourable disposition, and reputing him to be a Noble Gentleman, to testifie that his presence there was very acceptable to her, shee commanded a faire Cuppe of gold (which stood directlie before her) to bee neately washed, and when it was filled with excellent Wine, caused it to bee carried to the stranger, and so it was done.
Thorello having drunke a heartie draught to the Bride, conveyed the Ring into the Cuppe, before any person could perceive it, and having left but small store of Wine in it, covered the Cuppe, and sent it againe to the Bride, who received it very gracioasly, and to honour the Stranger in his Countries custome, dranke up the rest of the Wine, and espying the Ring, shee tooke it forth undescried by any: Knowing it to be the same Ring which shee gave Signior Thorello at his parting from her; she fixed her eyes often on it, and as often on him, whom she thought to be a stranger, the cheerfull bloud mounting up into her cheeks, and returning againe with remembrance to her heart, that (howsoever thus disguised) he only was her husband.
Like one of Bacchus Froes, up furiously she started, and throwing downe the Table before her, cried out aloud: This is my Lord and Husband, this truely is my Lord Thorello. So running to the Table where he sate, without regard of all the riches thereon, down she threw it likewise, and clasping her armes about his necke, hung so mainly on him (weeping, sobbing, and kissing him) as she could not be taken off by any of the company, nor shewed any moderation in this excesse of passion, till Thorello spake, and entreated her to be more patient, because this extremity was over-dangerous for her. Thus was the solemnitic much troubled, but every one there very glad and joyfull for the recovery of such a famous and worthy Knight, who intreated them all to vouchsafe him silence, and so related all his fortunes to them, from the time of his departure, to the instant houre. Concluding withall, that hee was no way offended with the new Bridegroome, who upon the so constant report of his death, deserved no blame in making election of his wife.
The Bridegroome, albeit his countenance was somewhat cloudie, to see his hope thus disappointed: yet granted freely, that Adalietto was Thorello’s wife in equitie, and bee could not justly lay any claime to her. She also resigned the Crown and Rings which she had so lately received of her new Spouse, and put that on her finger which she found in the Cup, and that Crowne was set upon her head, in honor sent her from great Saladine. In which triumphant manner, she left the new Bridegrooms abiding, and repayred home to Thorello’s house, with such pompe and magnificence as never had the like been seene in Pavia before, all the Citizens esteeming it as a miracle, that they had so happily recovered Signior Thorello againe.
Some part of the Jewells he gave to him, who had beene at cost with marriage feasting, and some to his the Abbot, beside a bountie bestowed on Monkes. Then he sent a messenger to Saladine, with Letters of his whole successe, and confessing himselfe (for ever) his obliged servant: living many yeeres (after) with his wife Adalietta, and using greater curtesies to strangers, then ever before he had done.
In this manner ended the troubles of Signior Thorello, and the afflictions of his dearely affected Lady, with due recompence to their honest and ready courtesies. Many strive (in outward shew) to doe the like, who although they are sufficiently able, doe performe it so basely, as i: rather redoundeth to their shame, then honour. And therefore if no merit ensue thereon, but onely such disgrace as justly should follow; let them lay the blame upon themselves.
Set downe as an example or warning to all wealthie men, how to have care of marrying themselves. and Likewise to poore and meane women, to be patient in their fortunes, and obedient to their husbands
The Marquesse of Saluzzo, named Gualtiero, being constrained by the importunate solliciting of his Lords, and other inferiour people, to joyne himselfe in marriage; tooke a woman according to his owne liking, called Grizelda, she being the daughter of a poore Countriman, named Janiculo, by whom he had two children, which he pretended to be secretly murdered. Afterward, they being grown to yeres of more stature, and making shew of taking in marriage another wife, more worthy of his high degree and Calling: made a seeming publique liking of his owne daughter, expulsing his wife Grizelda poorely from him. But finding her incomparable patience; more dearely (then before) hee received her into favour againe, brought her home to his owne Pallace, where (with her children) hee caused her and them to be respectively honoured, in despight of all her adverse enemies.
Questionlesse, the Kings Novell not so much exceed the rest in length, but it proved as sing to the whole assembly, past with their generall approbation, till Dioneus (in a merry jesting humour) said. The plaine honest simple man, that stood holding the Candle, to see the setting on of his Mules tayle; deserved two penny-worth of more praise, then all our applauding of Signior Thorello: And knowing himselfe to bee left for the last speaker, thus he began.
Milde and modest Ladies, for ought I can perceive to the contrary, this day was dedicated to none but Kings, Soldanes, and great Potentates, not in favour of any inferiour or meaner persons. And therefore, because I would be loth to dis-ranke my selfe from the rest, I purpose to speake of a Lord Marquesse, not any matter of great magnificence, but rather in a more humble nature, and sorted to an honest end: which yet I will not advise any to immitate, because (perhaps) they cannot so well digest it, as they did whom my Novell concerneth; thus then I begin.
It it a great while since, when among those that were Lord Marquesses of Saluzzo, the very greatest and worthiest man of them al, was a young Noble Lord, named Gualtiero, who having neyther wife nor childe, spent his time in nothing else but hawking and hunting: nor had he any minde of marriage, or to enjoy the benefit of children, wherein many did repute him the wiser. But this being distastfull to his subjects, they very often earnestly solicited him, to match himselfe with a wife, to the end, that hee might not decease without an heire, nor they be left destitute of a succeeding Lord; offering themselves to provide him of such a one, so well descended by Father and Mother, as not only should confirm their hope, but also yeeld him high contentment; whereto the Lord Marquess thus answered.
Worthie friends, you would constraine me to the thing, wherewith I never had any intent to meddle, considering, how difficult a case it is to meet with such a woman, who can agree with a man in all his conditions, and how great the number is of them, who daily happen on the contrarie: but most (and worst of all the rest) how wretched and miserable prooves the life of man, who is bound to live with a wife not fit for him. And in saying, you can learn to understand the custome and qualities of children, by behaviour of the fathers and mothers, and so to provide mee of a wife, it is a meere argument of folly: for neither shall I comprehend, or you either, the secret inclinations of parents; I meane of the Father, and much lesse the complexion of the mother. But admitte it were within compasse of power to know them; yet it is a frequent sight, and observed every day; that daughters doe resemble neither father nor mother, but that they are naturally governed by their owne instinct.
But because you are so desirous to have me fettered in the chains of wedlocke; I am contented to grant what you request. And because I would have no complaint made of any but my selfe, if matters should not happen answerable to expectation; I will make mine owne eyes my electors, and not see by any others sight. Giving you this assurance before, that if she whom I shall make choice of, be not of you honoured and respected as your Lady and Mistresse: it will ensue to your detriment, how much you have displeased me, to take a wife at your request, and against mine owne will.
The Noble men answered, that they were well satisfied, provided that he tooke a wife.
Some indifferent space of time before, the beauty, manners, and well-seeming vertues, of a poore Countrie-mans daughter, dwelling in no farre distant village, had appeared very pleasing to the Lord Marquesse, and gave him full perswasion, that with her hee should lead a comfortable life. And therefore without any further search or inquisition, he absolutely resolved to marry her, and having conferred with her Father, agreed, that his daughter should be his wife. Whereupon, the Marquesse made a generall convocation of all his Lords, Barons, and other of his especiall friends, from all parts of his Dominion; and when they were assembled together, hee then spake unto them in manner as followeth. Honourable friends, it appeared pleasing to you all, and yet (I thinke) you are of the same minde, that I should dispose my selfe to take a wife: and I thereto condescended, more to yeeld you contentment, then for any particular desire in my selfe. Let mee now remember you of your solemne made promise, with full consent to honor and obey her (whosoever) as your Soveraigne Lady and Mistresse, that I shall elect to make my wife: and now the time is come, for my exacting the performance of that promise, and which I look you must constantly keepe. I have made choyce of a yong virgine, answerable to mine owne heart and liking, dwelling not farre off hence, whom I intend to make my wife, and (within few dales) to have her brought home to my Pallace. Let your care and diligence then extend so farre, as to see that the feast may be sumptuous, and her entertainment to bee most honourable: to the end that I may receive as much contentment in your promise performed, as you shall perceive I doe in my choice.
The Lords and all the rest, were wondrously joyfull to heare him so well inclined, expressing no lesse by their shouts and jocund suffrages: protesting cordially, that she should be welcommed with pompe and majestie, and honoured of them all, as their Liege Ladie and Soveraigne. Afterward, they made preparation for a princely and magnificent feast, as the Marquesse did the like, for a marriage of extraordinary state and qualitie, inviting all his kinred, friends, and acquaintance in all parts and Provinces, about him. Hee made also readie most riche and costly garments, shaped by the body of a comely young Gentlewoman, who he knew to be equall in proportion and stature, to her of whom hee hade made his election.
When the appointed nuptiall day was come, the Lord Marques, about nine of the clocke in the morning, mounted on horsebacke, as all the rest did, who came to attend him honourably, and having all things in due readinesse with them, he said: Lords, it is time for us to goe fetch the Bride. So on hee rode with his traine, to the same poore Village whereat shee dwelt, and when hee was come to her Fathers house, hee saw the maiden returning very hastily from a Well, where shee had beene to fetch a paile of water, which shee set downe, and stood (accompanied with other maidens) to see the passage by of the Lord Marquesse and his traine. Gualtiero called her by her name, which was Grizelda, and asked her, where her Father was: who bashfully answered him, and with an humble courtesie, saying. My gracious Lord, hee is in the house.
Then the Marquesse dismounted from his horse, commanding every one to attend him, then all alone hee entred into the poore Cottage, where he found the maides father, being named Janiculo, and said unto him. God speed good Father, I am come to espouse thy daughter Grizelda: but first I have a few demands to make, which I will utter to her in thy presence. Then hee turned to the maide, and saide.
Faire Grizelda, if I make you my wife, will you doe your best endeavour to please me, in all things which I shall doe or say? will you also be gentle, humble, and patient? with divers other the like questions: whereto she still answered, that she would, so neere as heaven (with grace) should enable her.
Presently he tooke her by the hand, so led her forth of the poore homely house, and in the presence of all his company, with his owne hands, he took off her meane wearing garments, smocke and all, and cloathed her with those Robes of State which he had purposely brought thither for her, and plaiting her haire over her shoulders, hee placed a Crowne of gold on her head, whereat every one standing as amazed, and wondring not a little, hee said: Grizelda, wilt thou have me to thy husband? Modestly blushing, and kneeling on the ground, she answered. Yes my gracious Lord, if you will accept so poore a maiden to be your wife. Yes Grizelda, quoth hee, with this holy kisse, I confirme thee for my wife; and so espoused her before them all. Then mounting her on a milke-white Palfray, brought thither for her, shee was thus honourably conducted to her Pallace.
Now concerning the marriage feast and triumphes, they were performed with no lesse pompe, then if she had beene daughter to the King of France. And the young Bride apparantly declared, that (with her garments) her minde and behavior were quite changed. For indeed shee was (as it were shame to speake otherwise) a rare creature, both of person and perfections, and not onely was shee absolute for beautie, but so sweetely amiand gracious, and goodlie; as if she were not the daughter of poore Janicula, and a Countrie Shepheardesse, but rather of some Noble Lord, whereat every one wondred that had knowne her. Beside all this, shee was so obedient to her husband, so fervent in all dutifull offices, and patient, without the very least provoking: as hee held himselfe much more then contented, and the onely happy man of the world.
In like manner, towards the subjects of her Lord and Husband, she shewed her selfe alwayes so benigne and gracious; as there was not any one, but the more they lookt on her, the better they loved her, honouring her voluntarily, and praying to the heavens, for her health, dignity and well-fares long continuance. Speaking now (quite contrary to their former opinion of the Marquesse) honourably and thily, that he had shewne him selfe a singular wise man, in the election of his Wife, which few else (but he) in the world would have done: because their judgement might fall farre short, of discerning those great and precious vertues, veiled under a homely habite, and obscured in a poore Countrey cottage. To be briefe, in very short time, not onely the Marquisate it selfe, but all neighbouring Provinces round about, had no other common talke, but of her rare course of life, devotion, charity, and all good actions else; quite quailing all sinister Instructions of her Husband, before he received her in marriage.
About foure or five yeeres after the birth of her daughter, shee conceived with child againe, and (at the limitted houre of deliverance) had a goodly Sonne, to the no little liking of the Marquesse. Afterward, a strange humour entred into his braine, namely, that by a long continued experience, and courses of intollerable quality; he would needes make proofe of his faire Wives patience. First he began to provoke her by injurious speeches, shewing fierce and frowning lookes to her, intimating; that his people grew displeased with him, in regard of his Wives base birth and education, and so much the rather, because she was likely to bring children, who (by her blood) were no better then beggers, and murmured at the daughter already borne. Which words when Grizelda heard, without any alteration of countenance, for the least distemperature in any appearing action she said.
My honourable and gracious Lord, dispose of me, as you thinke best, for your owne dignity and contentment, for I shall therewith be well pleased: as she that knowes her selfe, farre inferiour to the meanest of your people, much lesse worthy of the honour, whereto you liked to advance me.
This answere was very welcome to the Marquesse, as apparantly perceiving hereby, that the dignity whereto hee had exalted her, or any particular favours beside, could not infect her with any pride, coynesse, or disdaine. Not long after, having told her in plaine and open speeches, that his subjects could not endure her so late borne daughter: he called a trusty servant of his, and having instructed him what he should doe, sent him to Grizelda, and he being alone with her, looking very sadde, and much perplexed in mind, he saide. Madame, except I intend to loose mine owne life, I must accomplish what my Lord hath strictly enjoyned me, which is, to take this your yong daughter, and then I must: So breaking off abruptly, the Lady hearing his words, and noting his frowning lookes, remembring also what the Marquesse himselfe had formerly said; she presently imagined, that he had commanded his servant to kill the childe. Suddenly therefore, she tooke it out of the Cradle, and having sweetly kissed, and bestowne her blessing on it (albeit her heart throbbed, with the inward affection of a Mother) without any alteration of countenance, she tenderly laid it in the servants armes, and said. Here friend, take it, and doe with it as thy Lord and mine hath commanded thee: but leave it in no rude place, where birds or savage beasts may devour it, except it be his will to have it so.
The servant departing from her with the child, and reporting the Marquesse what his Lady had said; he wondered at her incomparable constancy. Then he sent it by the same servant to Bologna, to an honourable Lady his kinsewoman, requesting her (without revealing whose child it was) to see it both nobly and carefully educated.
At time convenient afterward, being with child againe, and delivered of a Princely Sonne (then which nothing could be more joyfull to the Marquesse) yet all this was not sufficient for him; but with farre ruder language then before, and lookes expressing harsh intentions, he said unto her. Grizelda, though thou pleasest me wonderfully, by the birth of this Princely Boy, yet my subjects are not therewith contented, but blunder abroad maliciously; that the grandchild of Janiculo, a poore countrey pezant, when I am dead and gone, must be their Soveraigne Lord and Master. Which makes me stand in feare of their expulsion, and to prevent that, I must be rid of this childe, as well as the other, and then send thee away from hence, that I may take another wife, more pleasing to them.
Grizelda, with a patient sufferent soule, hearing what he had said, returned no other answere but this. Most Gracious and Honourable Lord, satisfie and please your owne Royall minde, and never use any respect of me: for nothing is precious or pleasing to mee, but what may agree with your good liking. Within a while after, the Noble Marquesse in the like manner as he did before for the Daughter, so he sent the same servant for the Sonne, and seeming as if he had sent it to have been slaine, conveighed it to be nursed at Bologna, in company of his sweete Sister. Whereat the Lady shewed no other discontentment in any kinde, then formerly she had done for her Daughter, to the no meane marvell of the Marquesse, who protested in his soule, that the like woman was not in all the world beside. And were it not for his heedfull observation, how loving and carefull she was of her children, prizing them as dearely as her owne life: rash opinion might have perswaded him, that she had no more in her, then a carnall affection, not caring how many she had, so shee might thus easily be rid of them; but he knew her to be a truely vertuous mother, and wisely liable to endure his severest impositions.
His Subjects beleeving, that he had caused the children to bee slaine, blamed him greatly, thought him to be a most cruell man, and did highly compassionate the Ladies case: who when shee came in company of other Gentlewomen, which mourned for their deceassed children, would answere nothing else: but that they could not be more pleasing to her, then they were to the father that begot them.
Within certaine yeares after the birth of these children, the Marquesse purposed with himselfe, to make his last and finall proofe of faire Grizeldaes patience, and said to some neere about him: that he could no longer endure, to keepe Grizelda as his wife, confessing, he had done foolishly, and according to a young giddie braine, when he was so rash in the marriage of her. Wherfore he would send to the Pope, and purchase a dispensation from him, to repudiate Grizelda, and take another Wife. Wherein although they greatly reproved him; yet he told them plainely, that it must needes be so.
The Lady hearing these newes, and thinking she must returne againe to her poore father’s house, and (perhaps) to her old occupation of keeping sheepe, as in her yonger dayes she had done, understanding withall, that another woman must enjoy him, whom shee dearely loved and honoured; you may well thinke (worthy Ladies) that her patience was now put to the maine proofe indeede. Neverthelesse, as with an invincible true vertuous courage, she had outstood all the other injuries of Fortune; so did she constantly settle her soule, to beare this with an undaunted countenance and behaviour.
At such time as was prefixed for the purpose, counterfeit Letters came to the Marquesse (as sent from Rome) which he caused to be publikely read in the hearing of his subjects: that the Pope had dispensed with him, to leave Grizelda, and marry with another Wife, wherefore sending for her immediatly, in presence of them all, thus he spake to her. Woman, by concession sent me from the Pope, he hath dispensed with me, to make choyce of another Wife, and to free my selfe from thee. And because my predecessors have beene Noblemen, and great Lords in this Country, thou being the daughter of a poore Countrey Clowne, and their blood and mine notoriously imbased, by my marriage with thee: I intend to have thee no longer my Wife, but will returne thee home to thy Fathers house, with all the rich Dowry thou broughtest me; and then I wil take another Wife, with whom I am already contracted, better beseeming my birth, and farre more contenting and pleasing to my people.
The Lady hearing these words (not without much paine and difficulty) restrayned her teares, quite contrary to the naturall inclination of women, and thus answered. Great Marquesse, I never was so empty of discretion, but did alwayes acknowledge, that my base and humble condition, could not in any manner sute with your high blood and Nobility, and my being with you, I ever acknowledged, to proceed from heaven and you, not any merit of mine, but onely as a favour lent me, which you being now pleased to recall backe againe, I ought to be pleased (and so am) that it bee restored. Here is the Ring, wherewith you Espoused me; here (in all humility) I deliver it to you. You command me, to carry home the marriage Dowry which I brought with me: there is no need of a Treasurer to repay it me, neither any new purse to carry it in, much lesse any Sumpter to be laden with it. For (Noble Lord) it was never out of my memory, that you tooke me starke naked, and if it shall seeme sightly to you, that this body which hath borne two children, and begotten by you, must againe be seene naked; willingly must I depart hence naked. But I humbly beg of your Excellency, in recompence of my Virginity, which I brought you blamelesse, so much as in thought: that I may have but one of my wedding Smocks, onely to conceale the shame of nakednesse, and then I depart rich enough.
The Marquesse whose heart wept bloody teares, as his eyes would likewise gladly have yeelded their naturall tribute; covered all with a dissembled angry countenance, and starting up, said. Goe, give her a Smocke onely, and so send her gadding. All there present about him, entreated him to let her have a petticote, because it might not be said, that she who had been his Wife thirteene yeares and more, was sent away so poorely in her Smocke: but all their perswasions prevailed not with him. Naked in her Smocke, without hose or shoes, bareheaded, and not so much as a Cloth about her necke, to the great griefe and mourning of all that saw her, she went home to her old fathers house.
And he (good man) never beleeving, that the Marquesse would long keepe his daughter as his Wife, but rather expected dally, what now had happened: safely laid up the garments, whereof the Marquesse despoyled her, the same morning when he espoused her. Wherefore he delivered them to her, and she fell to her fathers houshold businesse, according as formerly she had done; sustayning with a great and unconquerable spirit, all the cruell assaults of her enemy Fortune.
About such time after, as suted with his owne disposition, the Marquesse made publiquely knowne to his subjects, that he meant to joyne in marriage again, with the daughter to one of the Counts of Panago, and causing preparation to be made for a sumptuous wedding; he sent for Grizelda, and she being come, thus he spake to her. The Wife that I have made the new election of, is to arrive here within very few dayes, and at her first comming, I would have her to be most honourably entertained. Thou knowest I have no women in my house, that can decke up the Chambers, and set all requisite things in due order, befitting for so solemne a Feast: and therefore I sent for thee, who knowing (better then any other) all the partes, provision and goods in the house, set every thing in such order, as thou shalt thinke necessary.
Invite such Ladies and Gentlewomen as thou wilt, and give them welcome, even as if thou wert the Lady of the house: and when the marriage is ended, returne then home to thy father againe.
Although these words pierced like wonding daggers, the heart of poore (but Noble patient) Grizelda, as being unable to forget the unequal’d love she bare to the Marquesse, though the dignitie of her former fortune, more easily slipt out of her remembrance; yet neverthelesse, thus she answered.
My Gracious Lord, I am glad I can doe you any service; wherein you shall find mee both willing and ready. In the same poore garments, as she came from her fathers house, (although shee was turned out in her Smocke) she began to sweep and make cleane the Chambers, rubbe the stooles and benches in the Hall, and ordered every in the Kitchin, as if she were the worst maide in all the house, never ceasing or giving over, till all things were in due and decent order as best beseemed in such a case. After all which was done, the Marquesse, having invited all the Ladies of the Countrey, to be present at so great a Feast: when the marriage day came, Grizelda, in her gowne of Countrey gray, gave them welcome, in honourable manner, and graced them all with very cheerefull countenance.
Gualtiero the Marquesse, who had caused his two children to be nobly nourished at Bologna, with a neere kinswoman of his, who had married with one of the Counts of Panago, his daughter being now aged twelve yeares old, and somewhat more, as also the Son about sixe or seven. He sent a Gentleman expresly to his kindred, to have them come and visite him at Saluzza, bringing his daughter and Sonne with them, attended in very honourable manner, and publishing every where as they came along, that the young Virgin (knowne to none but himselfe and them) should be the Wife to the Marquesse, and that onely was the cause of her comming. The Gentleman was not slacke, in the execution of the trust reposed in him: but having made convenient preparation; with the kindred, Sonne, daughter, and a worthy company attending on them, arrived at Saluzza about dinner time, where wanted no resort, from all neighbouring parts round about, to see the comming of the Lord Marquesses new Spouse.
By the Lords and Ladies she was joyfully entertained, and comming into the great Hall, where the tables were readily covered: Grizelda, in her homely Country habite, humbled her selfe before her, saying. Gracious welcome, to the new elected Spouse of the Lord Marquesse.
All the Ladies there present, who had very earnestly importuned Gualtiero (but in vaine) that Grizelda, might better be shut up in some Chamber, or else to lend her the wearing of any other garments, which formerly had been her owne, because she should not be so poorely seene among strangers: being seated at the Tables, she waited on them very serviceably. The yong Virgin was observed by every one, who spared not to say; that the Marquesse had made an excellent change: but above them all, Grizelda did most commend her, and so did her brother likewise, as young as he was, yet not knowing her to be his Sister.
Now was the Marquesse sufficiently satisfied in his soule, that he had seene so much as he desired, concerning the patience of his Wife, who in so many hart-grieving trials, was never noated so much as to alter her countenance. And being absolutely perswaded, that this proceeded not from any want of understanding in her, because he knew her to be singularly wise: he thought it high time now, to free her from these afflicting oppressions, and give her such assurance as she ought to have. Wherefore, commanding her into his presence, openly before all his assembled friends, smiling on her, he said. What thinkst thou Grizelda of our new chosen Spouse? My Lord (quoth she) I like her exceeding well, and if she be so wise, as she is faire (which verely I thinke she is) I make no doubt but you shall live with her, as the onely happy man of the world. But I humbly entreat your Honor (if I have any power in me to prevaile by) that you would not give her such cutting and unkind language, as you did to your other wife: for I cannot thinke her armed with such patience, as should (indeed) support them: as wel in regard she is much yonger, as also her more delicate breeding and education, whereas she who you had before, was brought up in continual toile and travaile.
When the Marquesse perceyved, that Grizelda beleeved verily, this yong daughter of hers should be his wife, and answered him in so honest and modest manner: he commanded her to sit downe by him, and saide. Grizelda, it is now more then fitte time, that thou shouldst taste the fruite of thy long admired patience, and that they who have thought me cruell, harsh and uncivill natured, should at length observe, that I have done nothing basely, or unadvisedly. For this was a worke premeditated before, for enstructing thee, what it is to be a married wife, and to let them know (whosoever they be) how to take and keepe a wife. Which hath begotten (to me) perpetuall joy and happinesse, so long as I have a day to live with thee: a matter whereof I stoode before greatly in feare, and which (in marriage I thought) would never happen to me.
It is not unknown to thee, in how many kinds (for my first proofe) I gave thee harsh and unpleasing speeches, which drawing no discontentment from thee, either in lookes, words, or behaviour, but rather such comfort as my soule desired, and so in my other succeedings afterward: in one minute now, I purpose to give thee that consolation, which I bereft thee of in many tempestuous stormes, and make a sweet restauration, for all thy former sower sufferinges. My faire and dearly affected Grizelda, shee whom thou supposest for my new elected Spouse, with a glad and cheerfull hart, imbrace for thine owne daughter, and this also her Brother, beeing both of them thy children and mine, in common opinion of the vulgar multitude, imagined to be (by my command) long since slaine. I am thy honourable Lord and Husband, who doth, and will love thee farre above all women else in the world; giving thee justly this deserved praise and commendation, That no man living hath the like Wife, as I have.
So, sweetly kissing her infinitely, and hugging her joyfully in his armes (the teares now streaming like new-let-loose Rivers, downe her faire face, which no disaster before could force from her) hee brought her, and seated her by her daughter, who was not a little amazed at so rare an alteration. Shee having in zeale of affection) kissed and embraced them both, all else there present being clearely resolved from the former doubt which too long deluded them; the ladies arose jocondly from the tables, and attending on Grizelda to her Chamber, in signe of a more successfull augury to follow, tooke off her poor contemptible rags, and put on such costly robes, which (as Lady Marchionesse) she used to weare before.
Afterward, they waited on her into the Hall againe, being their true Soveraigne Lady and Mistresse, as she was no lesse in her poorest Garments; where all rejoycing for the new restored Mother, and happy recovery of so noble a son and daughter, the Festivall continued many months after. Now every one thought the Marquesse to be a noble and wise Prince, though somewhat sharpe and unsufferable, in the severe experiences made of his wife: but (above al) they reputed Grizelda, to be a most wise, patient, and vertuous Lady. The Count of Panago, within few daies after returned backe to Bologna; and the Lord Marques, fetching home old Janiculo from his country drudgery, to live with him (as his Father in law) in his Princely Palace, gave him honorable maintenance, wherein hee long continued, and ended his daies. Afterward, he matched his daughter in a Noble marriage: he and Grizelda living a long time together, in the highest honor that possibly could be.
What can now be saide to the contrary, but that poore Country Cottages, may yeeld as divine and excellent spirits, as the most stately and Royall mansions, which breed and bring uppe some, more worthy to be Hog-rubbers, then hold any soveraignty over men? Where is any other (beside Grizelda) who not only without a wet eye, but imboldned by a valiant and invincible courage: that can suffer the sharpe rigors, and (never the like heard of proofes) made by the Marquesse? Perhaps he might have met with another, who would have quitted him in a contrary kinde, and for thrusting her forth of doores in her smocke, could have found better succor somewhere else, rather then walke so nakedly in the cold streets.
Dioneus having thus ended his Novel, and the Ladies delivering their severall judgements, according to their owne fancies, some holding one conceite, others leaning to the contrary; one blaming this thing, and another commending that, the King lifting his eyes to heaven, and seeing the Sun began to fal low, by rising of the Evening Starre; without arising from his seat, spake as followeth. Discreet Ladies, I am perswaded you know sufficiently, that the sense and understanding of us mortals, consisteth not onely (as I think) by preserving in memory things past, or knowledge of them present; but such as both by the one and other, know how to foresee future occasions, are worthily thought wise, and of no common capacity.
It will be (to morrow) fifteene dayes, since we departed from the City of Florence, to come hither for our pastime and comfort, the conservation of our lives, and support of our health, by avoyding those melanchollies, griefes and anguishes, which we beheld daylie in our City, since the pestilentiall visitation beganne there, wherein (by my judgement) we have done well and honestly. Albeit some light Novels, perhaps attractive to a little wantonnes, as some say, and our joviall feasting with good cheare, singing and dancing, may seeme matters inciting to incivility, especially in weake and shallow understandings. But I have neither seene, heard, or knowne, any acte, word, or whatsoever else, either on your part or ours, justly deserving to be blamed: but all has bin honest, as in a sweete and hermonious concord, such as might well beseeme the communitie of Brethren and Sisters; which assuredly, as well in regard of you, as us, hath much contented me.
And therefore, least by over-long consuetude, something should take life, which might be converted to a bad construction, and by our country demourance for so many dayes, some captious conceit may wrest out an ill imagination; I am of the minde (if yours be the like) seeing each of us hath had the honor, which now remaineth still on me: that it is very fitting for us, to returne thither from whence we came. And so much the rather, because this sociable meeting of ours, which already hath wonne the knowledge of many dwellers here about us, should not grow to such an increase, as might make our purposed pastime offensive to us. In which respect (if you allow of advise) I wil keepe the Crowne till our departing hence; the which I intend shalbe to morrow: but if you determine otherwise I am the man ready to make my resignation.
Many imaginations passed amongst the Ladies, and likewise the men, but yet in the end, they reputed the Kings counsell to bee the best and wisest, concluding to do as he thought convenient. Wherupon, hee called the Master of the housholde, and conferred with him, of the businesse belonging to the next morning, and then gave the company leave to rise. The Ladies and the rest, when they were risen, fel some to one kinde of recreation, and others as their fancies served them, even as (before) they had done. And when Supper time came, they dispatcht it in very loving manner. Then they began to play on instruments, sing and dance, and Madame Lauretta leading the dance: the King commaunded Madame Fiammetta to sing a song, which pleasantly she began in this manner.
The chorus sung by all the rest of the company
If Love were free from Jealousie,
No Lady living,
Had lesse heart-greeving,
Or liv'd so happily as I.
If gallant youth
In a faire friend, a woman could content,
If vertues prize, valour and hardiment,
Wit, carriage, purest eloquence,
Could free a woman from impatience:
Then I am she can vaunt (if I were wise)
All these in one faire flower,
Are in my power,
And yet I boast no more but trueth.
If Love were free from jealousie, etc.
But I behold
That other Women are as wise as
Which killes me quite,
Fearing false sirquedrie.
For when my fire begins to flame
Others desires misguide my aim,
And so bereaves me of secure delight.
Onely through fond mistrust, he is unjust:
Thus are my comforts hourely hot and cold.
If Love were free, etc.
If in my friend,
I found like faith, as manly minde I know;
Mistrust were slaine.
But my fresh griefes still grow,
By sight of such as do allure,
So I can thinke none true, none sure,
But all would rob me of my golden gaine.
Loe thus I dye, in jealousie,
For losse of him, on whom I most depend.
If Love were free, etc.
Let me advise
Such Ladies as in Love are bravely bold,
Not to wrong me, I scorne to be controld.
If any one I chance to finde,
By winkes, words, smiles, in crafty kinde,
Seeking for that, which onely mine should be:
Then I protest, to do my best,
And make them know, that they are scarsly wise.
If Love were free from jealousie,
I know no Lady living,
Could have lesse heart-greeving,
Or live so happily as I.
So soone as Madam Flammetta had ended her Song; Dioneus, who sate by her, smiling said. Truly Madam, you may do us a great courtesie, to expresse your selfe more plainly to us all, least (thorow ignorance) the possession may be imposed on your selfe, and so you remaine the more offended.
After the Song was past, divers other were sung beside, and it now drawing wel-neere midnight, by the Kings command, they all went to bed. And when new day appeared, and all the world awaked out of sleepe, the Master of the Houshold having sent away the carriages; they returned (under the conduct of their discreet King) to Florence, where the three Gentlemen left the seven Ladies at the Church of Santa Maria Novella, from whence they went with them at the first. And having parted with kinde salutations, the Gentlemen went whether themselves best pleased, and the Ladies repaired home to their houses.
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Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:51