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hands are, in my opinion, the comelyest and best ordered parts of them, long, white, and slender; were their faces answerable, even an English eye would apprehend them lovely: but here I find a pretty contradictory, the hand, as it is the best ornament of the whole structure, so doth it most disgrace it: whether it be that ill dyet be the cause of it, or that hot blood wrought upon by a hot and scalding ayr, must of necessity by such means vent itself, I am not certain : this I am sure of, that scarce the tythe of all the maids we saw had their hands, armes, and wrests, free from scabs; which had overrunne them like a leprosie. Their hair is generally black, and, indeed, somewhat blacker then a gratious loveliness would admit. The poets commend Leda for her black hair, and not unworthily.
Leda fuit nigris conspicienda comis. “As Ovid hath it; yet was that blackness but a darker brown, and not so fearful as this of the French women. Again the blackness of the hair is there accounted an ornament, when the face about which it hangeth is of so perfect a complection and symmetrie, that it giveth a lustre; then doth the hair set forth the face, as a shaddow doth a picture, and the face becometh the hair, as a field argent doth a sable bearing: which kind of armoury the heralds call the most fairest. But in this the French women are most unlucky, Don Quixote did not so deservedly assume to himself the name of the knight of the illfavoured face, as may they that of the damosells of it. It was, therefore, a happy speech of a young French gallant, that came in our company out of England, and had it been spoken among the ancients, it might have been registred for an apothegme: that the English of all the people in the world were only nati ad voluptates: “you have,” saith he, “ the fairest women, the goodliest horses, and the best breed of doggs under heaven;" for mv part (as farre as I could in so short a time observe) I dare in his first believe him. England not onely being (as it is stiled) a paradise for women, by reason of their priviledges; but a paradise also of women, by reason of their unmatchable perfections: their dispositions hold good intelligence with their faces; you cannot say of them as Suetonius doth of Galba, Ingenium Galbemale habitat: they suit so well one with the other, that in my life I never met with a better decorum. But you must first hear them speak, Loquere ut te videam, was the method in old times, and it holdeth now. You cannot gather a better character of a French woman than from her prating, which is tedious and infinite; that you shall sooner want eares than she tongue. The fastidious pratler, which Horace mentioneth in his ninth Satyre, was but a puesne to her. The writers of these times call the Sicilians gerre Siculæ, and not undeservedly; yet were they but the scholers of the French; and learned this faculty of them before the vespers. It is manners to give precedency to the maistresse, and she will have it, if words may carry it. For two things, I would have had Aristotle acquainted with these chartings; first, it would have saved him a labour in taking such paines about finding out the perpetual motion : secondly, it would have freed him from an heresie with which his doctrine is now infected, and that is, Quicquid
movetur, ab alio movetur ; their tongues I am certain move themselves, and make their own occasions of discoursing: when they are a going they are like a watch, you need not wind them above once in twelve hours, for so long the thred of their tongues will be in spinning. A dame of Paris came in a coach with us from Rouen; fourteen hours we were together, of which time (I'le take my oath upon it) her tongue fretted away a eleven hours and fifty-seven minutes; such everlasting talkers are they all, that they will sooner want breath than words, and they are never silent but in the grave, which may also be doubted.
“As they are endless in their talk, so are they also regardless of the company they speak in; be he stranger or of their acquaintance it much matters not; though, indeed, no man is to them a stranger, within an hour of the first sight you shall have them familiar more than enough; and as merry with you as if they had known your bearing cloth. It may be they are chast, and I perswade myself many of them are; but you will hardly gather it out of their behaviour. Te tamen et cultus damnat, as Ausonius of an honest woman, that carryed herself lesse modestly. They are abundantly full of laughter and toying, and are never without variety of lascivious songs, which they spare not to sing in whose company soever: you would think modesty were quite banished the kingdom, or rather that it had never been there. Neither is this the weakness of some few, it is an epidemicall disease: maids and wives are alike sick of it, though not both so desperately. The galliards of the mayds being of the two a little more tollerable ; that of the women coming hard upon the confines of shamelessness.”
He is equally piquant on all subjects.—This is what he says of the love of dancing of the French:
“At my being there, the sport was dancing, an exercise much used by the French, who do naturally affect it. And it seems this natural inclination is so strong and deep rooted, that neither age nor the absence of a smiling fortune can prevaile against it. For on this dancinggreen there assembleth not onely youth and gentry, but also age and beggery; old wives, which could not set foot to ground without a crutch in the streets, had here taught their feet to amble; you would have thought by the cleanly conveyance and carriage of their bodies, that they had beene troubled with the sciatica, and yet so eager in the sport, as if their dancing dayes should never be done. Some there were so ragged, that a swift galliard would almost have shaked them into nakednesse, and they, also, most violent to have their carcasses directed in a measure. To have attempted the staying of them at home, or the perswading of them to work when they heard the fiddle, had been a task too unweildy for Hercules. In this mixture of age and condition did we observe them at their pastime; the raggs being so interwoven with the silks, and wrinkled browes so interchangably mingled with fresh beauties, that you would have thought it to have been a mummery of fortunes; as for those of both sexes which were altogether past action, they had caused themselves to be carried thither in their chaires, and trod the measures with their eyes.”
And of French minstrels.
Whilst they were at dinner at Tours,
“There entred upon us three uncouth fellowes, with hats on their heads like covered dishes; as soon as ever I saw them, I cast one eye upon my cloak and the other on my sword, as not knowing what use I might have of my steele to maintain my cloath. There was a great talk at that time of Mr. Soubise's being in armes, and I much feared that these might be some straglers of his army; and this I suspected by their countenances, which were very thievish and full of insolence. But when I had made a survey of their apparell I quickly altered that opinion, and accounted them as the excrement of the next prison; deceived alike in both my jealousies, for these pretty parcels of man's flesh were neither better nor worse, but even arrant fidlers, and such which in England we should not hold worthy of the whipping-post. Our leaves not being asked, and no reverence on their parts performed, they abused our eares with a harsh lesson; and as if that had not been punishment enough unto us, they must needs adde unto it one of their songs; by that little French which I had gathered, and the simpering of a fille de joie of Paris who came along with us, I perceived it was bawdy, and to say truth, more than patiently could be endured by any but a Frenchman; but quid facerem, what should I doe but endure the misery, for I had not language enough to call them rogues handsomely, and the villaines were inferiour to a beating, and, indeed, not worthy of mine or any honest man's anger.
Præda canum lepus est, vustos non implet hiatus
Nec gaudet tenui sanguine tanta sitis. “ They were a knot of rascalls so infinitely below the severity of a statute, that they would have discredited the state, and to have hanged them had been to hazard the reputation of the gallows. In a yeare you would hardly finde out some vengeance for them, which they would not injure in the suffering; unlesse it be not to hearken to their ribaldry, which is one of their greatest torments. To proceed, after their song ended, one of the company (the master of them it should seem) draweth a dish out of his pocket and layeth it before us, into which we were to cast our benevolence. Custom hath allowed them a sol, for each man at the table; they expect no more, and will take no less; no large summe, and yet I assure you, richly worth the musick, which was meerly French, that is, lascivious in the composure; and French, also, that is, unskilfully handled in the playing.”
The following description of French travelling is a very pleasant piece of exaggeration, and will remind more modern visitors of the accommodation they themselves have experienced in France.
“ July the last we took post-horse for Boulogne, if, at least, we may call those post-horses which we rode on : as lean they were as Envie is in the Poet: Macies in corpora tota, being most true of them. Neither were they onely lean enough to have their ribs numbered, but the very spur-gals had made such casements through their skins, that it had been no great difficulty to have surveyed their entrails. A strange kind of cattel in mine opinion, and such as had neither flesh on their bones, nor skin on their flesh, nor hair on their skin. Sure I am, they were not so lusty as the Horses of the Sun in Ovid : neither could we say of them, fiammiferis implent hinnitibus auras: all the neighing we could hear from the proudest of them was onely an old dry cough, which I'le assure you did much comfort me, for by that noise I first learned there was life in them. Upon such anatomies of horses, or to speak more properly, upon such several heaps of bones, were I and my company mounted ; and when we expected, however they seemed outwardly, to see somewhat of the post in them, my beast began to move after an alderman's pace, or like Envie in Ovid:
Surgit humi pigre, passuque incedet inerti. Out of this gravity no perswasion could work them; the dull jades being grown insensible of the spur; and to hearten them with wands would in short time have distressed the country. Now was the cart of Diepe thought a speedy conveyance, and those that had the. happiness of a waggon were esteemed too blessed, yea, though it came with the hazard of the old woman and the wenches. If good nature, or a sight of their journeys, ever did chance to put any of them into a pace like a gallop, we were sure to have them tire in the middle way, and so the remainder of the stage was to be measured with our own feet: being weary of this trade, I made bold to dismount the postilion, and ascended the trunk horse, where I sate in such magnificent posture, that the best carrier in Paris might have envied my felicity: behind me I had a good large trunk and a portmanteau, before me a bundle of cloaks and a parcel of books. 'Sure I was, that if my stirrups could poize me equally on both sides, that I could not likely fall backwards nor forwards. Thus preferred I encouraged my companions, who cast many an envious eye upon my prosperity: and certainly there was not any of them who might not more justly have said of me, Tu as un meilleur temps que le pape, than poor Lazarillo's master did, when he allowed him an onion for four dayes. This circumstance I confess might have well been omitted, had I not example for it. Philip de Commines, in the midst of his grave and serious relation of the battel of Mont l'Hierrie, hath a note much about this nature, which gave me encouragement, which is, that himself had an old horse half tired (and this was just my case) who by chance thrust his head into a pail of wine, and drunk it off, which made him lustier and friskier that day than ever before; but in that his horse had better luck than I had.”
H. Roscoe. Art. III. Godfrey of Bulloigne, or the Recouerie of Hiervsalem.
An Heroicall poeme written in Italian by Seig. Torquato Tasso, and translated into English by R. C. Esquire : and now the first part containing fiue cantos imprinted in both languages. London, Imprinted by John Winden, for Christopher Hunt of Exceter. 1594.
“Our English men Italianated,” says old Ascham, “ have in more reverence the Triumph of Petrarche than the Genesis of Moyses,-they make more accompt of Tullie's Offices than the story of the Bible.” The patriotic pedagogue was indignant at beholding the genius of his own country succumbing to the wits of Italy; and, certainly, he for one did all in his power to uphold the native literature of England. At the period when Ascham wrote, the custom of aping every thing Italian had risen to its highest pitch. The elite of fashionable society at the present day are not half so much attached to Parisian accomplishments as the polished gentleman of Elizabeth's reign was to the finish of Italian manners. The celebrated satirist, Tom Nash, reproaches his enemy, poor Gabriel Harvey (whom, to his infinite chagrin, he had dignified with the title of Gabriellissime Gabriel,) with “making no bones of taking the wall of Sir Philip Sidney, in his black Venetian velvet ;” and he tells him “to fetch him two penny-worths of Tuscanism, quite renouncing his natural English accents and gestures_wresting himself wholly to the Italian punctilios—painting himself like a courtezan, till the Queen declared he looked something like an Italian.” When the manners and taste of Italy were thus so greatly in vogue, it was impossible but that the literature of that country should also become fashionable. The introduction of Italian learning, however, may be traced to an earlier period. In the reign of Henry VIII. the unfortunate Earl of Surrey, the finished pattern of chivalric accomplishments, had done much towards rendering the study of Italian letters popular. Even at the earliest period of our English literature, it cannot be questioned that our authors were much indebted to those great revivers of learning, who were the first to spread the rays of knowledge over the modern world. Chaucer and his cotemporaries borrowed largely from these valuable stores; but their communication with the authors of Italy does not appear to have been direct, and they most probably became acquainted with them through the medium of French translations. At that period, as at present, a knowledge of the French language was an uni