Page images

Pet. And I'll second

My nephew's suit, with importunity.

Ros. You are, my lord Fernando, late return'd From travels; pray instruct me:-since the voice Of most supreme authority commands

My absence, I determine to bestow

Some time in learning languages abroad;
Perhaps the change of air may change in me
Remembrance of my wrongs at home: good sir,
Inform me; say I meant to live in Spain,
What benefit of knowledge might I treasure?
Fern. 'Troth, sir, I'll freely speak as I have

In Spain you lose experience; 'tis a climate
Too hot to nourish arts; the nation proud,
And in their pride unsociable; the court
More pliable to glorify itself

Than do a stranger grace: if you intend

To traffic like a merchant, 'twere a place
Might better much your trade; but as for me,
I soon took surfeit on it.

Ros. What for France?

5 Fernando's character of the Spanish nation is somewhat tinctured with severity; yet not unjust in the main. James had, with much political foresight, and some success, strove to cultivate the friendship of Spain; but the culpable capriciousness of Charles, aggravated by the ruffian insolence of Buckingham, abruptly checked his endeavours, and by rendering the Spanish party unpopular, as well as unfashionable at court, occasioned a fatal re-action in politics, which in no long process of time threw that country and its resources into the arms of France, to be constantly directed against us. Ford seems to be indebted to Howell for a part of his description.

Fern. France I more praise and love." You are,

my lord,

Yourself for horsemanship much famed; and there,
You shall have many proofs to shew your skill.
The French are passing courtly, ripe of wit,
Kind, but extreme dissemblers; you shall have
A Frenchman ducking lower than your knee,
At th' instant mocking even your very shoe-ties.
To give the country due, it is on earth
A paradise; and if you can neglect
Your own appropriaments, but praising that
In others, wherein you excel yourself,
You shall be much beloved there.

Ros. Yet, methought,

I heard you and the duchess, two nights since,

• France I more praise and love, &c.] Here again we have the prevailing language of the day; though it must be admitted, that Ford (with some assistance from Massinger) has selected his traits of character with impartiality and judgment. The excellence of the French in horsemanship is noticed by most of our old writers. Thus, the King in Hamlet—

"I have seen myself, and serv'd against the French,
And they can well on horseback; but this gallant
Had witchcraft in't, he grew unto his seat." &c.

And in the White Devil

"He told me of a restive Barbarie horse

Which he would feign have brought to the careere,
The sault, and the ring galliard: now, my lord,

I have a rare French rider."

There is more of this in the same play; but enough on so trite a subject. It seems, indeed, that about this period, the English were surpassed by most nations in this noble art; nor was it till James I. wisely encouraged horse-races, that we thought of improving the old heavy, short-winded breed of horses, by the introduction of Barbary and other stallions, and that the consequent improvement in managing them took place, which long since rendered us the most skilful and daring riders of Europe.

[ocr errors]

Discoursing of an island thereabouts,

Call'd-let me think-'twas

Fern. England?

Ros. That pray sir

You have been there, methought I heard you praise it.

Fern. I'll tell you what I found there; men as


As courtly as the French, but in condition
Quite opposite. Put case that you, my lord,
Could be more rare on horseback than you are,
If there (as there are many) one excell'd
You in your art as much as you do others,
Yet will the English think their own is nothing
Compared with you a stranger; in their habits
They are not more fantastic than uncertain;
In short, their fair abundance, manhood, beauty,
No nation can disparage but itself.

Ros. My lord, you have much eased me; I re-

Fern. And whither are you bent?

Ros. My lord, for travel;

To speed for England.

[blocks in formation]

Quite opposite, &c.] i. e. in disposition. We have the word in the same sense in the next page, where Petruchio says of the Duchess that she is

[blocks in formation]

8 In short, their fair abundance, manhood, beauty.] The old copy reads, their fare abundance; a slighter change would be to place a comma after fare; but the text, as it now stands, seems to me, more in the author's manner.

Fern. No, my lord, you must not;

I have yet some private conference

To impart unto you for your good; at night
I'll meet you at my lord Petruchio's house,

Till then, be secret.

Ros. Dares my cousin trust me??

Pet. Dare I, my lord!


yes, 'less your

Than a bold woman's spleen.

Ros. The duke's at hand,

fact were

And I must hence; my service to your lordships.

[Exit. Pet. Now, nephew, as I told you, since the


Hath held the reins of state in his own hand,

Much altered from the man he was before,

[blocks in formation]

(As if he were transformed in his mind,')
To sooth him in his pleasures, amongst whom
Is fond Ferentes; one whose pride takes pride
In nothing more than to delight his lust;

Dares my cousin trust me] It does not appear what plan Fernando had formed to serve Roseilli, who, like his friend, seems already to have forgotten that he was ordered to leave the court that morning.

'Here, or rather, perhaps, after the preceding verse, a line or more has dropt out at the press. The purport of the lost passage is easily collected from the context. The duke, since his accession, has drawn round him a set of profligate parasites, who, &c. It is scarcely necessary to observe that no part of the duke's conduct justifies the reproach here laid upon him; he is rather a wellmeaning dotard, a better Bassanes, than a follower of debauched society but Ford seems to have lost his way through a great part of this drama.

And he (with grief I speak it) hath, I fear,
Too much besotted my unhappy daughter,
My poor Colona; whom, for kindred's sake,
As you are noble, as you honour virtue,
Persuade to love herself: a word from you
May win her more than my intreats or frowns.
Fern. Uncle, I'll do my best; mean time, pray
tell me,

Whose mediation wrought the marriage

Betwixt the duke and duchess, who was agent? Pet. His roving eye and her enchanting face, The only dower nature had ordained

T' advance her to her bride-bed. She was daugh


Unto a gentleman of Milàn—no better

Preferr'd to serve i' th' Duke of Milan's court;
Where for her beauty she was greatly famed:
And passing late from thence to Monaco,
To visit there her uncle, Paul Baglione,

The abbot, Fortune (queen to such blind matches)
Presents her to the duke's eye, on the way,

As he pursues the deer: in short, my lord,

He saw her, lov'd her, woo'd her, won her, match'd her;'

No counsel could divert him.

Fern. She is fair.

2 In short, my lord,

He saw her, lov'd her, &c.] The duke is " a thriving wooer." In this rapid abstract of his success, the poet seems to have had another bold and fortunate adventurer in view.

Mars videt hanc, visamque cupit, potiturque cupita.

« PreviousContinue »