« PreviousContinue »
not thinking fit it should be said, that while mortals entertained themselves in all sorts of pleasures, the gods should be subject to infinite toil (as for example the Sun, who perfected his course with that diligence, that he had not the leisure to wipe his nose by the way) he resolved to treat them all at a solemn banquet.
“ He communicated his design to Juno, who was then a-bed with him, but she being somewhat of a niggardly humour, was not well pleased that he should put himself to so great expense; and to take away the desire he might have to effectuate his resolution, she told him she had not napkins enough to entertain such a number, and that it was a long time since Pallas had made her any cloth. Now you are to note, by the way, that this linen of the gods is made of the thread of the lives of mortals, which is still wound up in heaven, when the destinies have finished it. That which hath belonged to virtuous and illustrious persons, is employed in shirts, smocks, handkerchiefs, and table-cloths; but for what comes from rustics and other people of grosser education, there is only made of it kitchen-linen and dishclouts.”
They now travel to Brie, which the shepherd mistakes for the forests, where he hopes to lead, alone, a true romantic life. The fair Charité is already here, being in attendance on her mistress at the castle of one Arontes, and he obtains an interview, in which he tells her, “ the nails of your allurements have scratched my mind, the points of your features have pricked me, and the frost of your disdain hath trod upon my perseverance.” Charité understood nothing, and was glad when her mistress called her away.
The Shepherd takes his guitar, and goes out to serenade the fair enslaver, in a wood near the castle, when, perceiving a person near him with a lute, he conceives it to be some gentle Hamadryad, and following his steps, is lost in the wood, and sleeps there—an accident which delights him, as being in the true spirit of romance. He meets with one Hircan, whom he addresses as a magician, and who, having heard of his follies, humours him, and agrees to transform him into a country lass. Charmed with his metamorphosis, he adopts the name of Amaryllis, and hires himself to Arontes as a servant, that he may have the pleasure of being perpetually near Charité. He is said to look “ like a scarecrow in a hempyard, his back was long and flat, his breast no more plump than a trencher, the rest of him as straight as if he had been swaddled.”
The new maid acted with great propriety, but being well known, Anselme and the friend he visited (Montenar) amused themselves by causing an accusation to be brought against him, of seducing the handsome foot-boy of Arontes, and he was condemned to the ordeal of standing on a brass-plate: he ventured magnanimously, and did not burn upon it, thereby
proving himself as great as many of his predecessors; on which the prosecutors protest “ he is a witch, and prepare to burn him ;” but in the midst of the preparations, Hircan enters amidst smoke and crackers, and hurrying him into his chariot, conveys him in safety to his house
Anselme now endeavours, at their next interview, to convince our Extravagant Shepherd that he is under delusion in all this affair; but so far from being able to effect this purpose, the romantic youth is now confirmed in his madness, and desirous of some other transformation which should prove the strength of his passion for Charité, to whom he addresses the following delectable epistle :
• Lysis's Pullet, or Love-letter to the fair Charité. “ Since that love, which is the lightest bird in the world, hath nestled in my bosom, it hath proved so full of egg, that I have been forced to suffer him to lay there. But since he hath laid it, he hath sate upon it a long time, and at length hath hatched this little pullet, which I now send you. The breeding of it will cost you little; all the food it will require will be caresses and kisses. And withal, it is so well • taught, that it speaks better than a paraqueto, and it will tell you, as well as myself, my sufferings for you. It hath in charge to inquire whether or no you be yet displeased with me, and to let me know your mind, not by a pullet so big as this, but by the least chicken you please, if I may have the favour; with this promise, that if you have laid aside your rigour, I shall send you no more pullets, but present you with full-grown birds full of valour and affection, such as will ever be “ Your faithful shepherd,
Soon afterwards, walking in a grove, the hat of the Shepherd was caught by an old willow tree; climbing the tree to regain it from a distant twig, the tree being hollow, he slipped down into the body of it, and stuck there, with only his face and arms left out. His friends eagerly ran to his assistance, but he earnestly besought them to desist, for as it was evidently the will of the gods that he should be metamorphosed into a willow, he submitted to his fate, and maintained, that “ he was sensible of a change in every part of his body, his feet were already rooted in the earth, his skin was become bark, even his clothes were turned into an inner rind :” a shower descending, his servant would have put his hat on his head, but he shook it off with vehemence, and commanding him to depart, the man prudently took it up and went home. After the rain was over, the friends came again, in hopes that the moist state of the new Hamadryad might induce him to return; but he refused all aid, and roared so violently when they attempted to drag him out, that they at length resolved to give him succour another way :
“ I'll give you leave to water me, says the willow, but it must be at my root; and besides, you must only make use of clear water. Wine will do better, replies Clarimond; it is a secret that all gardeners know not; nay, I will cast it above, and it shall moisten you so much the more: know you not, that the rain falls straight down on the tops of the trees.
« Clarimond having said so, would improve the occasion, believing he had already prevailed with Lysis to drink: he got upon a stool, and put into his mouth a tunnel he had sent for; which done, Champagne pours into it at least three pints of wine. The willow was very well content to swallow it; and said to Clarimond, I must needs confess, dear friend, that thou knowest well how to order plants. My pith is all moistened by this liquor thou hast given me; and my sap, which is the radical moisture of trees, is made much more vigorous thereby. I told you so, answers Clarimond; I will now give you a taste of another beverage that is more nutritive. Having said so, he softly spoke to Champagne to go and see if there were not some good broth at his house ready. The lacquey returns presently with some pompion-pottage, that had been made for the ploughmen. They gave him that also through the tunnel; and whenever the bread that had been crummed in it, would not pass through, they forced it down with a little stick, as if they had been charging a piece of ordnance. The willow received all very quietly; for though he believed that trees should not eat, yet his belly told him the contrary; and as it was not much accessary to his follies, so was it well pleased it had gotten somewhat to feed on: when all was done, and that the tunnel was taken from his mouth, he breathed three or four times, as not being able to have contained any longer, the passage of respiration having been so long stopped. At length, says he to Clarimond, this second watering is not so liquid as the first, and yet I must confess it is not the worse for it. Now you are furnished till tomorrow, says Clarimond; but I beg it of the gods, that you may shortly live after another manner among men.”
In the course of the night, finding that both Naiads and Hamadryads are wandering in the groves, he consents to join them, and spent some hours very agreeably with a party, each of whom relates his adventures, and, by good example, they at length prevail on him to eat; but as day approaches, he retires again to his hollow tree, and indulges “ the most delightful fantasies,” in the belief of this enchantment.
The following night the same scene is repeated, with the addition of his servant Carmelin, the Sancho of the tale, who is thrown into the water, and afterwards flogged to make him company for the immortals. In the mean time the willow is cut down, and the Shepherd, after seeking in vain for his own body, at length meets again the enchanted Hircan, who transforms him into a man. He returns to a Shepherd's life, sees Charité, endures her disdain, receives physic from her apothecary, seeing that, in all things, he will conform himself to her, “ if she spit I spiť too,” « if she walk before, I put my feet into the places where she tread,” &c. He afterwards sends for a chirurgeon, and commands him to bleed him, and to swathe his cheek; which is done, because his mistress's face is swollen, exclaiming, “what! shall I enjoy two eyes when Charité hath but one? I will have no more than she,” such being at that time the indisposition of the beloved fair one.
Several new Arcadian shepherds arrive at this time, professing to hold Lysis as their head—he is greatly surprized to see how much their features resemble those of the Hamadryads and River Gods, with whom he conversed during the period of his metamorphosis, but he willingly entertains them, and performs plays with them in the open country, where he is one day alarmed by seeing his uncle Adrian, who threatens to seize him as he returns from the journey he is upon. These shepherds severally relate their adventures, which are got up with a due regard for the marvellous—their stories are followed by that of Carmelin, his servant, which is the best, having much of the Spanish raciness, in the smart delineations of the characters of his masters, but its general style by no means accords with modern ideas of delicacy. The shepherd's happiness “in this true realization of Sir Philip Sidney's Arcadia," is such as to inspire him with the idea of shining in arms also, and, in order to his becoming a warrior, he prevails on the magician Hircan to render both himself and his follower Carmelin invulnerable; a favour which the latter earnestly intreats may be extended to his breeches, which are especially subject to fractures, but this, the enchanter with due dignity, rejects as unworthy of his art.
After due bathing, fumigation, &c. the knight is duly equipped ; traversing the country in an enchanted conveyance, he is met in a close building by two giants, three hideous dwarfs, and a flying dragon; all of which he vanquishes, and proceeds to release a distressed damsel, who is crying in a stable hard by. They return together in the coach of the everready Hircan, and the company in his castle are exceedingly amused with the lying legend of the shepherd, whom they crown with laurel. The author of many French romances opportunely coming thither, Lysis gladly seizes the opportunity of giving his own adventures to the world, and thus instructs him.
“ In the first place thou shalt make me take the shepherd's habit at St. Cloud, for there was the beginning of my noble adventures: and then thou must describe with what affection I contemplated those inconsiderable things which I preserved in remembrance of Charité, that is to say, the piece of leather, the paper, and the rest. Now here thou must make use of amplification, saying, that I so loved my mistress, that I would not only preserve what came from her, but that I also made a vow carefully to keep whatever were about me when I
VOL. VII. PART II.
had the happiness to speak to her, or receive any favour from her. As for example, if I chanced to go to see her where she lived, and that she entertained me favourably, my design was ever after to preserve, as a precious relique, my good and beloved shoes which had brought me into so sacred a place. And this was in my thoughts ever since that time, though I never spoke of it. In the next place thou shalt bring in how I met Anselme, and gave him the story of my youth, and acquainted him with the original of my loves, which must be soon past over: and then shalt thou mention that excellent metaphorical picture of my mistress, which he drew at his house. 'Tis there that is required à triumph of eloquence : my advice is, that thou make use of divers rhetorical figures, especially if thou make my affections relate to the colours of the draught and all that concerns it, thou wilt make a spiritual thing of a corporeal. The copper-piece, shalt thou say, is a rough metal, polished by the severity of Lysis's sufferings; the gold that shines in it is, his fidelity; the white is his purity and innocence: the flesh-colour that's in it, is his amorous inclination; the vermilion, his respectful shamefacedness; the black, his sadness and affliction ; the blue, the divinity of his imaginations: the separation and division are banishments and opticks; but as for shadow there's very little, because, jealousy, which is the causer of them, can find no place there. All these colours have been distempered with the oil of indulgence of a thousand attractions of love-looks, and beaten on the marble of constancy. This done, there may be used a handsome revocation, and thou mayest speak thus, the affection which Lysis bore Charité, made me believe a while that Lysis had himself furnished what was necessary for this picture; but I have understood since, that it was his desire it might be done with nobler things, at least as noble as could be found.
There are those that say, there was no more left of the brazen-age than that copper-piece, and that Lysis had purposely taken away that, being to pass out of the iron age into that of gold. As for the gold that glisters in Charité's eyes, and her chained tresses, 'tis certain that it is some of that into which Midas's wine was turned when he was to drink, after he had the gift of changing whatever he touched into gold; and it may be said by parenthesis, that that gold might easily be made potable. The white is the milk which Venus had in her breasts, when she nursed Cupid; for her milk was far better than Juno's, who was too cholerick to be a nurse: as to the flesh-colour, we know not what to say to it, but at last we have imagined it made of Bacchus's sweat; for he being of a perfect red, as may be seen, his sweat is dyed by it, nay, his very tears are coloured thereby; and if there be no likelihood of this, it must be conceived that this flesh-colour is composed of some other.
“ As for the vermilion, 'tis the blood of the goddess of autumn, which is one of the four seasons, who having a while since overheated herself, Esculapius was forced to let her blood; for in heaven he is both doctor and surgeon, and observes whatever is prescribed there. The black is Proserpina's paint: for as in these countries there's much pains bestowed to become white, so there she takes as much to make herself black, as being one of the most especial parts of beauty. The