Page images

Are handsome pictures. One so young, and goodly,
So sweet in his own nature, any story
Hath seldom mention'd.

Men. Why should such as I am
Groan under the light burthens of small sorrows,
Whenas a prince, so potent, cannot shun
Motions of passion ?' To be man, my lord,
Is to be but the exercise of cares
In several shapes; as miseries do grow,
They alter as men's forms; but how none know.

Amet. This little isle of Cyprus sure abounds
In greater wonders, both for change and fortune,
Than any you have seen abroad.

Men. Than any I have observed abroad! all countries else To a free eye and mind yield something rare; And I, for my part, have brought home one jewel Of admirable virtue.

Amet. Jewel, Menaphon?

Men. A jewel, my Amethus, a fair youth; A youth, whom, if I were but superstitious, I should repute an excellence more high, Than mere creations are: to add delight, I'll tell you how I found him.

Amet. Prithee do. Men. Passing from Italy to Greece, the tales Which poets of an elder time have feign'd To glorify their Tempe, bred in me Desire of visiting that paradise. To Thessaly I came; and living private, Without acquaintance of more sweet companions Than the old inmates to my love, my thoughts, I day by day frequented silent groves, And solitary walks. One morning early This accident encounter'd me: I heard The sweetest and most ravishing contention, That art [and] nature ever were at strife in.'

i Vide (Ford says) Fami. Stradam, lib. ii. Prolus. 6, Acad. 2, Imitat. Claudian. This story, as Mr. Lambe observes, has been para

Amet. I cannot yet conceive what you infer
By art and nature.

Men. I shall soon resolve you.
A sound of music touchi'd mine ears, or rather,
Indeed, entranced my soul: as I stole nearer,
Invited by the melody, I saw
This youth, this fair-faced youth, upon his lute,
With strains of strange variety and harmony,
Proclaiming, as it seem'd, so bold a challenge
To the clear choristers the woods, the birds,
That, as they flock'd about him, all stood silent,
Wond'ring at what they heard. I wonder'd too.

Amet. And so do I'; good! on

Men. A nightingale,
Nature's best skill'd musician, undertakes
The challenge, and for every several strain
The well-shaped youth could touch, she sung her

He could not run division with more art
Upon his quaking instrument, than she,
The nightingale, did with her various notes
Reply to: for a voice, and for a sound,
Amethus, 't is much easier to believe
That such they were, than hope to hear again.

Amet. How did the rivals part?

Men. You term them rightly; For they were rivals, and their mistress, harmony:Some time thus spent, the young man grew at last Into a pretty anger, that a bird Whom art had never taught cliffs, moods, or notes, Should vie with him for mastery, whose study Had busied many hours to perfect practice: To end the controversy, in a rapture Upon his instrument he plays so swiftly, So many voluntaries and so quick, That there was curiosity and cunning,

phrased by Crashaw, Ambrose Philips, and others : none of those vereions, however, can at all compare for harmony and grace with this before us.-GIFFORD,

Concord in discord, lines of differing method
Meeting in one full centre of delight.

Amet. Now for the bird.

Men. The bird, ordain'd to be Music's first martyr, strove to imitate These several sounds: which, when her warbling

throat Fail'd in, for grief, down dropp'd she on his lute, And brake her heart! It was the quaintest sad

To see the conqueror upon her hearse
To weep a funeral elegy of tears;
That, trust me, my Amethus, I could chide
Mine own unmanly weakness, that made me
A fellow-mourner with him.

Amet. I believe thee.
Men. He look'd upon the trophies of his art,
Then sigh’d, then wiped his eyes, then sigh'd and

cried, “Alas, poor creature! I will soon revenge This cruelty upon the author of it; Henceforth this lute, guilty of innocent blood, Shall never more betray a harmless peace To an untimely end :" and in that

sorrow, As he was pashing' it against a tree, I suddenly stepp'd in.

Amet. Thou hast discours'd
A truth of mirth and pity.

Men. I repriev'd
The intended execution with entreaties,
And interruption.-But, my princely friend,
It was not strange the music of his hand
Did overmatch birds, when his voice and beauty,
Youth, carriage, and discretion must, from men

1 i. e. dashing it. 2

- Thou hast discours'd A truth of mirth and pity.] This is evidently corrupt; but I can suggest no remedy. Pathetic, indeed, this most beautiful' tale is, but it certainly contains nothing or merriment.-GIFFORD.

Endued with reason, ravish admiration:
From me, they did.

Amet. But is this miracle
Not to be seen ?

Men. I won him by degrees To choose me his companion. Whence he is, Or who, as I durst modestly inquire, So gently he would woo not to make known; Only (for reasons to himself reserv'd) He told me, that some remnant of his life Was to be spent in travel: for his fortunes, They were nor mean nor riotous; his friends Not publish'd to the world, though not obscure: His country Athens, and his name Parthenophill.

Amet. Came he with you to Cyprus ?

Men. Willingly.
The fame of our young melancholy prince,
Meleander's rare distractions, the obedience
Of young Cleophila, Thamasta's glory,
Your matchless friendship, and my desperate love
Prevail'd with him; and I have lodg’d him privately
In Famagosta.

Amet. Now thou art doubly welcome:
I will not lose the sight of such a rarity
For one part of my hopes. When do you intend
To visit my great-spirited sister?

Men. May I
Without offence ?

Amet. Without offence !--Parthenophill Shalí find a worthy entertainment too. Thou art not still a coward ?

Men. She's too excellent, And I too low in merit.

Amet. I'll prepare A noble welcome; and, friend, ere we part, Unload to thee an overcharged heart. [Exeunt.


Another Room in the Palace.

Enter RHETIAS, carelessly attired. Rhe. I will not court the madness of the times; Not fawn upon the riots that embalm Our wanton gentry, to preserve the dust Of their affected vanities in coffins Of memorable shame. When commonwealths Totter and reel from that nobility And ancient virtue which renowns the great, Who steer the helm of government, while mush


Grow up, and make new laws to license folly ;
Why should not I, a May-game,' scorn the weight
Of my sunk fortunes? snarl at the vices?
Which rot the land, and, without fear or wit,
Be mine own antic? 'Tis a sport to live
When life irksome, if we will not hug
Prosperity in others, and contemn
Affliction in ourselves. This rule is certain ;
“He that pursues his safety from the school
“ Of state, must learn to be madman or fool."
Ambition, wealth, ease I renounce—the devil
That damns you here on earth.—Or I will be
Mine own mirth, or mine own tormentor.-So!

Here comes intelligence; a buzz o' the court.

Pel. Rhetias, I sought thee out to tell thee news, New, excellent new news. Cuculus, sirrah, That gull, that young old gull, is coming this way. ! Why should not I, a May-game, &c.) i. e. an unconsidered trifte, a jest, a piece of mirth.-GirFord.

2 Snarl at the vices.] Snarl (as well as girl) is commonly made a dissyllable by our poet.-GIFFORD.

3 i. e. boldly, desperately, without care of consequences.

« PreviousContinue »