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Yet being from thee, had but that hollow sound
Come from the lips of any living man,
It might have won the credit of mine ear:
From thee it cannot.
Jern. If I understand thee, I am a villain :
What! dost thou speak in parables to thy friend ?!
Fab. (to Jern.) You are the man, sir, must have Millisent.
The match is making in the garden now;
Her jointure is agreed on, and the old men
Your fathers mean to launch their pursy bags.
But in mean time to thrust Mounchensey off,
For colour of this new intended match,
Fair Millisent to Cheston 2 must be sent,
To take the approbation of a Nun.
Ne'er look upon me, lad ; the match is done.
Jern. Raymond Mounchensey, now I touch thy grief
With the true feeling of a zealous friend.
And as for thy fair beauteous Millisent,
With my vain breath I will not seek to slubber
Her angel-like perfections. But thou know'st
That Essex hath the saint that I adore.
Where'er didst meet me, that we two were jovial,
But like a wag thou hast not laugh’d at me,
And with regardless jesting mock'd my love ?
How many a sad and weary summer's night
My sighs have drunk the dew from off the earth,
And I have taught the nightingale to wake,
And from the meadows sprung the early lark
An hour before she should have list to sing !
I have loaded the poor minutes with my moans,
That I have made the heavy slow-pac'd hours
To hang like heavy clogs upon the day.
But, dear Mounchensey, had not my affection
Seiz'd on the beauty of another dame,
Before I'd wrong the chase, and leave the love
Of one so worthy, and so true a friend,
I will abjure both beauty and her sight,
And will in love become a counterfeit.
Raym. Dear Jerningham, thou hast begot my life,
And from the mouth of hell, where now I sat,
I feel my spirit rebound against the stars;
Thou hast conquer'd me, dear friend, and my free soul
Nor time nor death can by their power controul.
Fab. Frank Jerningham, thou art a gallant boy;
And were he not my pupil, I would say,
He were as fine a metald Gentleman,
Of as free a spirit, and as fine a temper,
As any in England ; and he is a man,
That very richly may deserve thy love.
But, noble Clare, this while of our discourse,
What may Mounchensey's honour to thyself
the measure of thy grace ?
Cla. Raymond Mounchensey, I would have thee know,
He does not breathe this air,
Whose love I cherish, and whose soul I love,
More than Mounchensey's:
Nor ever in my life did see the man,
Whom for his wit, and many
I think more worthy of my sister's love.
But since the matter grows into this pass,
I must not seem to cross my
father's will ;
But when thou list to visit her by night,
My horse is saddled, and the stable door
Stands ready for thee; use them at thy pleasure.
In honest marriage wed her frankly, boy,
And if thou get'st her, lad, God give thee joy.
Raym. Then care away! let fate my fall pretend,
Back'd with the favours of so true a friend.
Fab. Let us alone to bustle for the set ; For age
and craft with wit and art hath met.
I'll make my Spirits dance such nightly jigs
Along the way 'twixt this and Tot'nam Cross,
' jades shall cast their heavy packs,
And the strong hedges scarce shall keep them in.
The milk-maids' cuts shall turn the wenches off,
And lay their dossers tumbling in the dust:
The frank and merry London prentices,
That come for cream and lusty country cheer,
Shall lose their way, and scrambling in the ditches
All night, shall whoop and hollow, cry, and call,
And none to other find the way at all.
Raym. Pursue the project, scholar; what we can do
To help endeavour, join our lives thereto.
[Act i., Sc. 3.2] 1 This scene has much of Shakspeare's manner in the sweetness and goodnaturedness of it. It seems written to make the Reader happy. Few of our dramatists or novelists have attended enough to this. They torture and wound us abundantly. They are economists only in delight. Nothing can be finer, more gentlemanlike,
*[Temple Dramatists, ed. Walker, 1897.]
THE COMEDY OF OLD FORTUNATUS (PUBLISHED
1600). BY THOMAS DECKER (1570 ?-1641 ?] The Goddess Fortune appears to Fortunatus, and offers him the choice of six things. He chooses Riches.
Fortune. Before thy soul at this deep lottery
Draw forth her prize, ordain'd by destiny,
Know that here's no recanting a first choice.
Chuse then discreetly : for the laws of fate,
Being grav'n in steel, must stand inviolate.
Fortunat. Daughters of Jove and the unblemish'd Night,
Most righteous Parcæ, guide
my genius right:
Wisdom, Strength, Health, Beauty, Long Life, and Riches.
Fortune. Stay, Fortunatus ; once more hear me speak.
If thou kiss Wisdom's cheek and make her thine,
She'll breathe into thy lips divinity,
And thou (like Phoebus) shalt speak oracle ;
Thy heav'n-inspired soul on Wisdom's wings
Shall fly up to the Parliament of Jove,
And read the Statutes of Eternity,
And see what's past and learn what is to come.
If thou lay claim to Strength, armies shall quake
To see thee frown: as Kings at mine do lie,
So shall thy feet trample on empery,
Make Health thine object, thou shalt be strong proof
'Gainst the deep searching darts of surfeiting,
Be ever merry, ever revelling.
Wish but for Beauty, and within thine eyes
Two naked Cupids amorously shall swim,
And on thy cheeks I'll mix such white and red,
That Jove shall turn away young Ganimede,
And with immortal arms shall circle thee.
Are thy desires Long Life ? thy vital thread
Shall be stretch'd out, thou shalt behold the change
Of monarchies, and see those children die
Whose great great grandsires now in cradles lie.
If through Gold's sacred hunger thou dost pine ;
Those gilded wantons which in swarms do run
To warm their slender bodies in the sun,
Shall stand for number of those golden piles
Which in rich pride shall swell before thy feet;
As those are, so shall these be infinite.
[Five lines omitted.]
Fortunat. O whither am I rapt beyond myself?
More violent conflicts fight in every thought
Than his whose fatal choice Troy's downfall wrought.
Shall I contract myself to Wisdom's love ?
Then I lose Riches ; and a wise man poor
Is like a sacred book that's never read ;
To himself he lives and to all else seems dead.
This age thinks better of a gilded fool,
Than of a threadbare saint in Wisdom's school.
I will be Strong : then I refuse Long Life ;
And though mine arm should conquer twenty worlds,
There's a lean fellow beats all conquerors :
The greatest Strength expires with loss of breath,
The mightiest in one minute stoop to death.
Then take Long Life, or Health ; should I do so,
I might grow ugly, and that tedious scroll
Of months and years much misery might enroll :
Therefore I'll beg for Beauty ; yet I will not:
The fairest cheek hath oftentimes a soul
Leprous as sin itself, than hell more foul.
The Wisdom of this world is idiotism;
Strength a weak reed ; Health Sickness' enemy,
And it at length will have the victory.
Beauty is but a painting; and Long Life
Is a long journey in December gone,
Tedious and full of tribulation.
Therefore, dread sacred Empress, make me rich :
My choice is Store of Gold; the rich are wise :
He that upon his back rich garments wears
Is Wise, though on his head grow Midas' ears.
Gold is the Strength, the Sinews of the world,
The Health, the Soul, the Beauty most divine ;
A mask of gold hides all deformities ;
Gold is heaven's physic, life's restorative ;
Oh therefore make me rich !
(Act i., Sc. 1.'] Fortune gives to Fortunatus a purse that is inexhaustible. With
this he puts on costly attire, and visits all the Asian Courts, where he is caressed and made much of for his infinite wealth. At Babylon he is shown by the Soldan a wondrous hat, which in a wish transports the wearer whithersoever he pleases, over land and sea. Fortunatus puts it on, wishes himself at home in Cyprus; where he arrives in a minute,
[Mermaid Series, ed. Rhys.) VOL. IV.-4
as his sons Ampedo and Andelocia are talking of him; and tells his Travels.
FORTUNATUS. AMPEDO. ANDELOCIA. Fort. Touch me not, boys, I am nothing but air ; let none speak to me till you have marked me well.? —Am I as you are, or am I transformed ?
And. Methinks, father, you look as you did, only your face is more withered.
Fort. Boys, be proud; your father hath the whole world in this compass. I am all felicity, up to the brims. In a minute am I come from Babylon; I have been this half hour in Famagosta.
And. How! in a minute, father? I see travellers must lie.
Fort. I have cut through the air like a falcon. I would have it seem strange to you.
But 'tis true. I would not have
I would not have you believe it neither. But tis miraculous and true. Desire to see you brought me to Cyprus. I'll leave you more gold, and go to visit more countries
Amp. The frosty hand of age now nips your blood,
And strews her
upon your head,
And gives you warning that within few years
Death needs must marry you : those short lines, minutes,
That dribble out your life, must needs be spent
peace, not travel ; rest in Cyprus then.
Could you survey ten worlds, yet you must die;
And bitter is the sweet that's reap'd thereby.
And. Faith, father, what pleasure have you met by walking your stations ?
Fort. What pleasure, boy? I have revelled with Kings, danced with Queens, dallied with Ladies; worn strange attires ; seen Fantasticoes; conversed with Humourists; been ravished with divine raptures of Doric, Lydian and Phrygian harmonies ; I have spent the day in triumphs and the night in banqueting.
And. O, rare! this was heavenly.—He that would not be an Arabian Phenix to burn in these sweet fires, let him live like an owl for the world to wonder at.
Amp. Why, brother, are not all these Vanities?
Fort. Vanities ! Ampedo, thy soul is made of lead, too dull, too ponderous, to mount up to the incomprehensible glory that Travel lifts men to.
And. Sweeten mine ears, good father, with some more.
Fort. When in the warmth of mine own country's arms
We yawn'd like sluggards, when this small horizon
Imprison'd up my body, then mine eyes
Worship’d these clouds as brightest : but, my boys,
[Lamb has omitted the Shadow's part in this conversation.)