Page images


If thou mean'st the prince,
It does. He's the same melancholy man
He was at's father's death; sometimes speaks sense,
But seldom mirth; will smile, but seldom laugh;
Will lend an ear to business, deal in none;
Gaze upon revels, antic fopperies,
But is not moved; will sparingly discourse,
Hear music; but what most he takes delight in
Are handsome pictures. One so young and goodly,
So sweet in his own nature, any story
Hath seldom mentioned.

Why should such as I am
Groan under the light burthen 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.

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 value.

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 ye how I found him.

Prithee do.
Men. Passing from Italy to Greece, the tales
Which poets of an elder time have feigned


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 encountered me: I heard
The sweetest and most ravishing contention
That art and nature ever were at strife in.

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

I shall soon resolve ye.
A sound of music touched 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 seemed, so bold a challenge
To the clear quiristers of the woods, the birds,
That, as they flocked about him, all stood silent,
Wondering at what they heard. I wondered too.

Amet. And so do I; good, on!

A nightingale,
Nature's best skilled musician, undertakes
The challenge, and for every several strain
The well-shaped youth could touch, she sung her own;
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, 'tis much easier to believe
That such they were than hope to hear again.

Amet. How did the rivals part?
i Vide (Ford says) Fami. Stradam, lib. ii. Prolus. 6. Acad. 2.
Imitat. Claudian. This story has been paraphrased by Crashaw,
Ambrose Philips, and others.


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

Amet. Now for the bird.

The bird, ordained to be
Music's first martyr, strove to imitate
These several sounds; which when her warbling throat
Failed in, for grief down dropped she on his lute,
And brake her heart. It was the quaintest sadness,
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.

I believe thee. Men. He looked upon the trophies of his art, Then sighed, then wiped his eyes, then sighed 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 1 it against a tree, I suddenly stept in. Amet.

Thou hast discoursed A truth of mirth and pity.

1 Dashing


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

But is this miracle
Not to be seen?

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 reserved --
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 published to the world, though not obscure;
His country Athens, and his name Parthenophil.

Amet. Came he with you to Cyprus ? 'Men.

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,
Prevailed with him; and I have lodged him privately
In Famagosta.

Amet. Now thou’rt doubly welcome:
I will not lose the sight of such a rarity
For one part of my hopes. When d'ye intend
To visit my great-spirited sister ?

. May I Without offence ?

Amet. Without offence.---Parthenophil Shall find a worthy entertainment too. Thou art not still a coward ?


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

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

SCENE II.-Another Room in the Palace.

Enter RHETIAS, carelessly attired.
Rhe. I will not court the madness of the times;
Nor 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 mushrooms
Grow up, and make new laws to license folly;
Why should not I, a May-game, scorn the weight
Of my sunk fortunes ? snarl1 at the vices
Which rot the land, and, without fear or wi
Be mine own antic?3 'Tis a sport to live
When life is 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 ye here on earth. Or I will be
Mine own mirth, or mine own tormentor.---So!
Here comes intelligence; a buzz o' the court.

1 “Snarl” as well as “girl,” is commonly made a dissyllable by our poet: he passed his youth in the neighbourhood of Dartmoor, and probably adopted the practice of that wild district. - Gifford.

2 i.e. Carelessly. 3 Buffoon.

« PreviousContinue »