Shakespeare’s primary source for A Winter’s Tale was Robert Greene’s story, Pandosto. Here it is in it’s entirety.
The Triumph of Time.
VVherein is discouvred by a pleasant Historie, that although by the meanes of sinister fortune, Truth may be concealed yet by Time in spight of fortune it is most manifestly reuealed.
Pleasant for age to avoyde drowsie thoughtes, profitable for youth to eschue other wanton pastimes, and bringing to both a desired content.
Temporis filia veritas.
By Robert Greene, Maister of Artes in Cambridge.
Omne tulit punctum qui miscuit utile dulci.
[Note: these dedications are from the 1595 edition.]
To the Gentlemen
The paultring poet Aphranivs being blamed for troubling the Emperour Traian with so many doting Poems: aduentured notwithstanding, still to present him with rude and homely verses, excusing himselfe with the curtesie of the Emperour, which did as friendly accept, as he fondly offered. So Gentlemen, if anie condemne my rashnesse for trobling your eares with so many vnlearned Pamphlets: I will straight shroud my selfe vnder the shadow of your courtesies, and with Afranivs, lay the blame on you, as well for friendly reading them, as on my selfe for fondly penning them: Hoping though fond curious, or rather currish bacbiters, breath out slaunderour speeches: yet the courteous Readers (whom I feare to offend) will requite my trauile, at the least with silence: and in this hope I rest: wishing you health and happinesse.
To the Right Honovrable
George Clifford Earle of Cumberland,
Robert Greene wisheth increase
of honour and vertue.
The Rascians (right honourable) when by long gazing against the Sun, they became half blind, recover their sights by looking on the blacke Loade stone. Vnicornes being glutted with brousing on rootes of Lycoras, sharpen their stomacks with crushing bitter grasse.
Alexander vouchsafed as well to smile at the crooked picture of Vulcan, as to wonder at the curious counterfeite of Venus. The mind is sometimes delighted as much with small trifles as with sumptuous triumphs, and as well pleased with hearing of Pans homely fancies, as of Hercules renowmed labours.
Sillie Baucis could not serve Iupiter in a silver plate, but in a woodden dish. All that honour Esculapius, decke not his shrine with Iewels. Apollo gives Oracles as well to the poore man for his mite, as to the rich man for his treasure. The stone Hebites is not so much liked for the colour, as for vertue: and pitts are not to be measured by the worth, but by the will. Mison that vnskilfull Painter of Greece, aduentured to giue vnto Darius the shield of Pallas, so roughly shadowed, as he smiled more at the folly of the man, than at the imperfection of his art. So I present vnto your honour the Triumph of time, so rudely finished, as I feare your honour will rather frowne at my impudencie, than laugh at at my ignorancie: But I hope my willing minde shall excuse my slender skill, and your honours curtesie shadow my rashnesse.
The Epistle Dedicatorie.
They which feare the biting of vipers do carry in their hands the plumes of a Phoenix. Phydias drewe Vulcan sitting in a chaire of Iuorie. Caesars Crow durst never cry, Aue, but when she was pearked on the Capitoll. And I seeke to shrowd this imperfect Pamphlet vnder your honours patronage, doubting the dint of such inuenomed vipers, as seeke with their slaunderous reproches to carpe at all, beeing oftentimes, most vnlearned of all: and assure my selfe, that your honours renowmend valour, and vertuous disposition shall be a sufficient defence to protect me from the poysoned tongues of such scorning Sycophants, hoping that as Iupiter vouchsafed to lodge in Philemons thatched cottage: and Philip of Macedon, to take a bunch of grapes of a countrey pesant: so I hope your honour, measuring my worke by my will, & waighing more the minde than the matter, will, when you haue cast a glaunce at this toy, with Minerua, vnder your golden Target cover a deformed Owle. And in this hope I rest, wishing vnto you, and the vertuous Countesse your wife: such happie successe as your honours can desire, or imagine.
Your Lordships most dutifully to command:
Among al the passions wherewith humane mindes are perplexed, there is none that so galleth with restlesse despight, as the infectious soare of ielousy: for all other griefes are either to bee appeased with sensible perswasions, to be cured with wholesome counsell, to be relieued in want, or by tract of time to be worne out (Iealousie only excepted) which is so sawsed with suspitious doubtes, and pinching mistrust, that whoso seekes by friendly counsaile to rase out this hellish passion, it forthwith suspecteth that he giueth this aduise to couer his owne guiltinesse. Yea, who so is payned with this restlesse torment doubteth all, distrusteth himselfe, is alwayes frozen with feare, and fired with suspition, hauing that wherein consists all his ioy, to be the breeder of his misery. Yea, it is such a heauy enemy to that holy estate of matrimony, sowing betweene the married couples such deadly seeds of secret hatred, as Loue being once rased out by spitefull distrust, there oft ensueth bloudy reuenge, as this ensuing Historie manifestly prooueth: wherein Pandosto (furiously incensed by causelesse iealousie) procured the death of his most louing and loyall wife, and his owne endlesse sorrow and misery.
In the Countrey of Bohemia there raigned a king called Pandosto, whose fortunate successe in warres against his foes, and bountifull curtesie towardes his friendes in peace, made him to be greatly feared and loued of all men. This Pandosto had to wife a Ladie called Bellaria, by birth royall, learned by education, faire by nature, by vertues famous, so that it was hard to iudge whether her beautie, fortune, or vertue, wanne the greatest commendations. These two lincked together in perfect loue, led their liues with such fortunate content, that their Subiects greatly reioyced to see their quiet disposition. They had not beene married long, but Fortune (willing to increase their happines) lent them a sonne, so adorned with the gifts of nature, as the perfection of the child greatly augmented the loue of the parentes, and the ioys of their commons: in so much that the Bohemians, to shew their inward ioyes by outward actions, made bonefires and triumphs throughout all the kingdome, appointing iustes and turneyes for the honour of their young Prince: whether resorted not onely his Nobles, but also divers kings and princes which were his neighbours, willing to showe their friendship they ought to Pandosto, and to win fame and glory by their prowesse and valour. Pandosto, whose minde was fraught with princely liberalitie, entertayned the kings, princes, and noblemen with such submisse curtesie and magnificall bounty, that they all saw how willing he was to gratifie their good willes, making a generall feast for his subiects which continued by the space of xx. dayes: all which time the iustes and turnies were kept to the great content both of the Lordes and Ladies there present. This solemne tryumph boing once ended, the assembly taking their leave of Pandosto and Bellaria: the young sonne (who was called Garinter) was nursed vp in the house to the great ioy and content of the parents. Fortune enuious of such happy successe, willing to showe some signe of her inconstancy, turned her wheele, and darkned their bright sunne of prosperity, with the misty cloudes of mishap and misery. For it so happened that Egistus King of Sycilia, who in his youth had bin brought vp with Pandosto, desirous to shew that neither tracte of time, nor distance of place could diminish their former friendship, prouided a nauy of ships, and sailed into Bohemia to visite his old friend and companion, who hearing of his arriuall, went himselfe in person, and his wife Bellaria, accompanied with a great traine of lords and ladies, to meet Egistus: and espying him, alighted from his horse, embraced him very louingly, protesting, that nothing in the world could haue hapned more acceptable to him then his comming, wishing his wife to welcome his olde friend and acquaintance, who (to showe how she liked him whom her husband loued) intertayned him with such familiar curtesie, as Egistus perceiued himselfe to bee very well welcome. After they had thus saluted and embraced ech other, they mounted againe on horse backe and rode toward the Citie, deuising and recounting, how being children they had passed their youth in friendely pastimes: where, by the meanes of the Citizens, Egistus was receiued with triumphs and shewes in such sort, that he maruelled how on so small a warning they coulde make such preparation. Passing the streetes thus with such rare sights, they rode on to the Pallace, where Pandosto entertained Egistus and his Sycilians with such banqueting and sumptuous cheare, so royally, as they all had cause to commend his Princely liberalitie, yea, the verie basest slave that was knowen to come from Sycilia was vsed with such curtesie, that Egistus might easily perceiue how both hee and his were honored for his friendes sake. Bellaria (who in her time was the flower of curtesie), willing to shew how vnfainedly shee loued her husband by his friends intertainement, vsed him likewise so familiarly, that her countenance bewrayed how her mind was affected towards him: oftentimes comming her selfe into his bed chamber, to see that nothing shuld be amisse to mislike him. This honest familiaritie increased daily more and more betwixt them: for Bellaria noting in Egistus a Princely and bountifull minde adorned with sundry and excellent qualities, and Egistus finding in her a vertuous and curteous disposition, there grew such a secret vniting of their affections, that the one could not well be without the company of th’other: in so much that when Pandosto was busied with such vrgent affairs, that hee could not bee present with his friend Egistus, Bellaria would walke with him into the garden, where they two in priuat and pleasant deuises would passe away the time to both their contents. This custome still continuing betwixt them, a certaine melancholy passion entring the minde of Pandosto, drave him into sundry and doubtfull thoughts. First, he called to mind the beauty of his wife Bellaria, the comelines and brauerie of his friend Egistus, thinking that loue was above all lawes, and therefore to be stayed with no law: that it was hard to put fier and flaxe together without burning: that their open pleasures might breede his secret displeasures. He considereth with himselfe that Egistus was a man, and must needs loue: that his wife was a woman, and therefore subiect to loue, and that where fancy forced, friendship was of no force. These and such like doubtful thoughtes a long time smothering in his stomach, began at last to kindle in his mind a secret mistrust, which increased by suspition, grew at last to a flaming iealousie, that so tormented him as he could take no rest. He then began to measure al their actions and to misconstrue of their too priuate familiarity, iudging that it was not for honest affection, but for disordinat fancy, so as he began to watch them more narrowly, to see if he coulde get any true or certain proofe to confirm his doubtfull suspition. While thus he noted their looks and gestures, and suspected their thoughts and meanings, they two seely soules who doubted nothing of this his treacherous intent, frequented daily ech others company, which draue him into such a franticke passion, that he beganne to beare a secret hate to Egistus, and a lowering countenance to Bellaria, who maruelling at such vnaccustomed frowns, began to cast beeyond the moone, and to enter into M. sundry thoughts, which way she shuld offend her husband: but finding in herself a cleare conscience, ceased to muse, till such time as she might find fit opportunity to demand the cause of his dumps. In the meane time Pandostoes minde was so far charged with iealousie, that he no longer doubted, but was assured (as he thought) that his friend Egistus had entered a wrong point in his tables, and so had playd him false play: whereupon desirous to reuenge so great an iniury, he thought best to dissemble the grudge with a faire and friendly countenance: and so vnder the shape of a friend, to shew him the tricke of a foe. Deuising with himselfe a long time how he might best put away Egistus without suspition of treacherous murder, concluded at last to poison him, which opinion pleasing his humour, he became resolute in his determination, and the better to bring the matter to passe, he called to him his cup-bearer, with whom in secret he brake the matter: promising to him for the performance thereof, to give him 1000. crowns of yearely revenues: his cup-bearer, either being of a good conscience, or willing for fashion sake, to deny such a blody request, began with great reasons to perswade Pandosto from his determinate mischiefe: shewing him what an offence murther was to the Gods: how such vnnatural actions did more displease the heavens, than men: and that causeles crueltie did seldome or neuer escape without reuenge: he laid before his face, that Egistus was his friend, a king, and one that was come into his kingdome, to confirme a league of perpetuall amitie betwixt them, that he had and did shew him a most friendly countenance, how Egistus was not onely honoured of his owne people by obedience, but also loued of the Bohemians for his curtesie. And that if he now should without any iust or manifest cause, poison him, it would not only be a great dishonor to his Maiesty, and a meanes to sow perpetuall enmitie betweene the Sycilians and the Bohemians, but also his own subiects would repine at such trecherous crueltie. These and such like perswasions of Franion (for so was his cupbearer called) could no whit preuaile to disswade him from his deuilish enterprise, but remaining resolute in his determination, his furie so fiered with rage, as it could not be appeased with reason: he began with bitter tauntes to take vp his man, and to lay before him two baites: preferment, and death: saying that if he would poyson Egistus, he should advance him to high dignities: if he refused to do it of an obstinate minde, no torture should be to great to requite his disobedience. Franion seeing that to perswade Pandosto any more, was but to striue against the streame: consented as soone as oportunitie would give him leave to dispatch Egistus, wherewith Pandosto remained somewhat satisfied, hoping now he shoulde bee fully reuenged of such mistrusted iniuries, intending also assoone as Egistus was dead, to giue his wife a sop of the same sawce, and so be rid of those which were the cause of his restles sorrow. While thus he liued in this hope, Franion beeing secret in his chamber, began to meditate with himselfe in these termes.
Ah Franion, treason is loued of many, but the traitor hated of all: vniust offences may for a time escape without danger, but neuer without reuenge, thou art seruant to a king, and must obey at commaund: yet Franion, against law and conscience, it is not good to resist a tyrant with armes, nor to please an vniust king with obedience. What shalt thou do? Folly refused gold, and frensie preferment, wisedome seeketh after dignity, and counsell looketh for gaine. Egistus is a stranger, to thee, and Pandosto thy soueraigne: thou hast little cause to respect the one, and oughtest to haue great care to obey the other. Thinke this Franion, that a pound of gold is worth a tunne of lead, great gifts are litle Gods, and preferment to a meane man, is a whetstone to courage: there is nothing sweeter than promotion, nor lighter than report: care not then though most count thee a traitor, so all call thee rich. Dignity (Franion) aduanceth thy posterity, and euill report can hurt but thy selfe. Know this, where Eagles build, Faulcons may pray: where Lyons haunt. Foxes may steale. Kings are knowen to commaunde, seruaunts are blamelesse to consent: feare not thou then to lift at Egistus. Pandosto shall beare the burthen. Yea, but Franion, conscience is a worme that euer biteth, but never ceaseth: that which is rubbed with the stone Galactites will neuer be hot. Flesh dipped in the sea Aegeum, will neuer bee sweete: the hearbe Tragion being once bit with an Aspis neuer groweth, and conscience once stained with innocent bloud, is alwaies tied to a guiltie remorse. Prefer thy content before riches, and a cleare minde before dignity: so being poore thou shalt haue rich peace, or els rich, thou shalt enioy disquiet.
Franion hauing muttered out these or such like wordes, seeing either he must dye with a cleare minde, or live with a spotted conscience: he was so combered with diuers cogitations that he could take no rest: vntill at last he determined to breake the matter to Egistus: but fearing that the king should either suspect or heare of such matters, he concealed the deuise till oportunity would permit him to reueale it. Lingring thus in doubtfull feare, in an euening he went to Egistus lodging, and desirous to breake with him of certaine affaires that touched the king, after all were commaunded out of the chamber. Franion made manifest the whole conspiracie, which Pandosto had deuised against him, desiring Egistus not to accompt him a traitor for bewraying his maisters counsell, but to thinke that hee did it for conscience, hoping that although his maister inflamed with rage, or incensed by some sinister reportes, or slaunderous speaches, had imagined such causelesse mischief: yet when time should pacifie his anger, and try those tale bearers but flattering Parasites, then hee would count him as a faithfull seruaunt, that with such care had kept his masters credit. Egistus had not fully heard Franion tell forth his tale, but a quaking feare possessed all his limmes, thinking that there was some treason wrought, and that Franion did but shaddow his craft with these false colours: wherefore he began to waxe in choler, and saide that he doubted not Pandosto, sith he was his friend, and there had neuer as yet beene any breach of amitie: he had not sought to inuade his landes, to conspire with his enemies, to disswade his subjectes from their allegeiance: but in word and thought he rested his at all times: he knew not therefore any cause that should moue Pandosto to seeke his death, but suspected it to bee a compacted knauery of the Bohemians, to bring the King and him at oddes. Franion staying him in the midest of his talke, told him that to dally with Princes was with the swannes to sing against their death, and that if the Bohemians had intended any such secret mischiefe, it might haue beene better brought to passe then by reuealing the conspiracy: therefore his Maiestie did ill to misconstrue of his good meaning, sith his intent was to hinder treason, not to become a traitor and to confirme his premises, if it please his Maiesty to flee into Sycilia for the safegarde of his life, hee woulde goe with him: and if then hee found not such a practise to bee pretended, let his imagined trechery be repayed with most monstrous tormentes. Egistus hearing the solemne protestation of Franion: began to consider, that in loue and kingdomes, neither faith, nor lawe is to bee respected: doubting that Pandosto thought by his death to destroy his men, and with speedie warre to inuade Sycilia: these and such doubtes throughlie weighed, hee gaue great thankes to Franion, promising if hee might with life returne to Syracusa, that hee would create him a Duke in Sycilia: crauing his counsell how hee might escape out of the countrey. Franion, who hauing some small skill in Nauigation, was well acquainted with the Ports and Hauens, and knew euery daunger in the Sea, ioyning in counsell with the Maister of Egistus Nauie, rigged all their ships, and setting them a float let them lie at anker, to be in the more readinesse when time and winde should serue. Fortune although blind, yet by chance fauoring this iust cause, sent them within 6. daies a good gale of winde, which Franion seeing fit for their purpose, to put Pandosto out of suspition, the night before they should saile, he went to him and promised, that the next daie he would put the deuice in practise, for he had got such a forcible poison as the very smell thereof should procure sodaine death. Pandosto was ioyfull to heare this good newes and thought euery houre a day till he might be glutted with bloudy reuenge, but his suit had but il successe: for Egistus fearing that delay might breede daunger, and willing that the grasse should not be cut fromvunder his feete, taking bagge and baggage with the helpe of Franion, conueied himselfe and his men out of a posterne gate of the city so secretly and speedely that without any suspition they got to the sea shoare, where, with many a bitter curse taking their leave of Bohemia, they went aboord, weighing their Ancres and hoisting saile, th[e]y passed as fast as winde and sea would permit towards Sycilia; Egistus being a ioyfull man, that he had safely past such trecherous perils. But as they were quietly floating on the sea, so Pandosto and his Citizens were in an vproare: for seeing that the Sycilians without taking their leaue were fled away by night, the Bohemians feared some treason, and the King thought that without question his suspition was true, seeing his cupbearer had bewrayed the summe of his secret pretence: whereupon he began to imagine, that Franion and his wife Bellaria had conspired with Egistus, and that the feruent affection she beare him, was the onely meanes of his secret departure, in so much that incensed with rage, he commaunded that his wife shoulde be carried to straight prison, vntil they heard further of his pleasure. The guarde vnwilling to lay their hands on such a vertuous Princesse, and yet fearing the kings fury, went very sorrowfully to fulfill their charge, comming to the Queenes lodging, they found her playing with her young sonne Garinter, vnto whom with teares doing the message: Bellaria astonished at such a hard censure, and finding her cleare conscience a sure aduocate to pleade in her case, went to the prison most willingly: where with sighs and teares shee past away the time till shee might come to her triall.
But Pandosto, whose reason was suppressed with rage, and whose vnbridled folly was incensed with fury: seeing Franion had bewrayed his secrets, and that Egistus might well be railed on, but not reuenged: determined to wreeke all his wrath on poore Bellaria, he therefore caused a generall proclamation to be made through all his Realme, that the Queene and Egistus had by the helpe of Franion not onely committed most incestuous adulterie, but also had conspired the Kings death: whereupon the Traitor Franion was fled away with Egistus, and Bellaria was most iustly imprisoned. This Proclamation being once blazed through the countrey, although the vertuous disposition of the Queene did halfe discredit the contents: yet the sodaine and speedy passage of Egistus, and the secret departure of Franion induced them (the circumstances throughly considered) to thinks that both the Proclamation was true, and the King greatly iniured: yet they pitied her case, as sorrowfull that so good a Lady should be crossed with such aduerse Fortune. But the King, whose restlesse rage would admit no pity, thought that although he might sufficiently requite his wiues falshoode with the bitter plague of pinching penury, yet his minde should neuer be glutted with reuenge, till he might haue fit time and oportunity to repay the treachery [of] Egistus with a fatall injurie. But a curst Cow hath oft times shorte hornes, and a willing mind, but a weake arme: for Pandosto although he felt; that reuenge was a spurre to warre, and that enuie alwaies proffereth steele, yet he saw, that Egistus was not onely of great puissance, and prowesse to withstand him, but also had many Kings of his alliance to aide him, if neede should serve: for he married to the Emperours daughter of Russia. These and the like considerations something daunted Pandosto his courage, so that he was content rather to put vp a manifest iniury with peace, than hunt after reuenge [with] dishonor and losse; determining since Egistus had escaped scotfree, that Bellaria should pay for all at an vnreasonyble price.
Remayning thus resolute in his determination, Bellaria continuing still in prison, and hearing the contents of the Proclamation, knowing that her minde was neuer touched with such affection, nor that Egistus had euer offered her such discurtesie, would gladly haue come to her answere, that both shee might haue knowne her vniust accusers, and cleared her selfe of that guiltlesse crime.
But Pandosto was so enflamed with rage, and infected with Jealousie as he would not vouchsafe to heare her nor admit any iust excuse, so that shee was faine to make a vertue of her neede, and with patience to beare these heauy iniuries. As thus she lay crossed with calamities (a great cause to increase her griefe) she found her selfe quicke with childe: which assoone as she felt stir in her bodie, she burst foorth into bitter teares, exclaiming against fortune in these tearmes.
Alas, Bellaria, how infortunate art thou because fortunate, better hadst thou beene borne a begger than a Prince: so shouldest thou haue bridled Fortune with want, where now shee sporteth her selfe with thy plenty. Ah happy life where poore thoughtes, and meane desires liue in secure content, not fearing Fortune because too low. For Fortune, thou seest now Bellaria, that care is a companion to honor, not to pouertie, that high Caedars are frushed with tempests, when low shrubs are not toucht with the wind: precious Diamonds are cut with the file, when despised peables lie safe in the sand: Delphos is sought to by Princes, not beggers: and Fortunes altars smoke with Kings presents, not with poore mens gifts. Happy are such, Bellaria, that curse Fortune for contempt, not fear, and may wish they were, not sorrow they haue beene. Thou art a Princesse, Bellaria, and yet a prisoner, borne to the one by discent, assigned to the other by despite, accused without cause, and therefore oughtest to die without care: for patience is a shield against Fortune, and a guiltlesse minde yeeldeth not to sorrow. Ah, but infamie galleth vnto death, and liueth after death: Report is plumed with times feathers, and Enuie oftentimes soundeth Fames trumpet: thy suspected adulterie shall flie in the aire, and thy knowne vertues shall lie hid in the Earth: one Moale staineth a whole face, and what is once spotted with Infamy can hardly be worne out with time. Die then Bellaria, Bellaria die: for if the Gods should say thou art guiltlesse, yet enuie would heare the Gods, but neuer beleeue the Gods. Ah haplesse wretch, cease these tearmes: desperat thoughts are fit for them that feare shame, not for such as hope for credite. Pandosto hath darkened thy fame, but shall neuer discredit thy vertues. Suspition may enter a false action, but proofe shall neuer put in his plea: care not then for envie, sith report hath a blister on her tongue: and let sorrow bite them which offende, not touch thee that arte faultlesse. But alas poore soule, howe canst thou but sorrow? Thou art with child, and by him that in steed of kind pitie pincheth thee in cold prison. And with that such gasping sighes so stopped her breath, that she could not vtter any mo words, but wringing her hands, and gushing forth streames of teares, shee passed away the time with bitter complaints.
The Jaylor pitying these her heauie passions, thinking that if the king knew she were with childe, he would somwhat appease his furie, and release her from prison, went in all haste, and certified Pandosto what the effect of Bellarias complaint was: who no sooner heard the Jaylour say she was with child, but as one possessed with a phrensie, he rose vp in a rage, swearing that she and the bastard brat she was withall, should die, if the Gods themselues said no: thinking that surely by computation of time, that Egistus and not he, was father to the child. This suspitious thought galled a fresh this halfe healed sore, insomuch as hee could take no rest, vntill he might mitigate his choler with a iust reuenge, which happened presently after. For Bellaria was brought to bed of a faire and beautifull daughter, which no sooner Pandosto heard, but he determined that both Bellaria and the yong infant should be burnt with fire. His Nobles, hearing of the Kings cruell sentence, sought by perswasions to diuert him from this bloody determination: laying before his face the innocency of the child, and vertuous disposition of his wife, how she had continually loued and honoured him so tenderly, that without due proof he could not, nor ought not to appeach her of that crime. And if she had faulted, yet it were more honorable to pardon with mercy, then to punish with extremity, and more Kingly, to be commended of pitie, than accused of rigor. And as for the child, if he should punish it for the mothers offence, it were to striue against nature and iustice: and that vnnaturall actions doe more offend the Gods then men: how causelesse crueltie, nor innocent bloud neuer scapes without reuenge. These and such like reasons could not appease his rage, but he rested resolute in this, that Bellaria being an adulteresse, the child was a bastard, and he would not suffer that such an infamous brat should call him father. Yet at last (seeing his noble men were importunate vpon him) he was content to spare the childs life, and yet to put it to a worser death. For he found out this deuise that seeing (as he thought) it came by Fortune, so he would commit it to the charge of Fortune, and therefore he caused a little cock-boat to be prouided, wherein he meant to put the babe, and then send it to the mercie of the seas, and the destinies. From this his Peeres in no wise could perswade him, but that he sent presently two of his Gard to fetch the child, who being come to the prison, and with weeping teares recounting their maisters message: Bellaria no sooner heard the rigorous resolution of her mercilesse husband, but she fell downe in a sound, so that all thought she had bin dead, yet at last being come to her selfe, she cried and scriched out in this wise.
Alas sweete infortunate babe, scarse borne before enuied by fortune: would the day of thy birth had beene the tearme of thy life, then shouldest thou haue made an ende to care, and preuented thy fathers rigor. Thy faults cannot yet deserve such hatefull reuenge, thy daies are too shorte for so sharpe a doome, but thy vntimely death must pay thy mothers debtes, and her guiltlesse crime must be thy gastly curse. And shalt thou sweete babe be committed to fortune? When thou art already spited by Fortune: shall the seas be thy harbour, and the hard boat thy cradle? Shall thy tender mouth insteede of sweete kisses, be nipped with bitter stormes? Shalt thou haue the whistling windes for thy Lullabie, and the salt sea fome in steede of sweete milke? Alas, what destinies would assigne such hard hap? What father would be so cruell? Or what Gods will not reuenge such rigor? Let me kisse thy lips (sweet infant) and wet thy tender cheekes with my teares, and put this chaine about thy little necke, that if fortune saue thee, it may helpe to succour thee. Thus, since thou must goe to surge in the gastful seas, with a sorrowfull kisse I bid thee farewell, and I pray the Gods thou mayst farewell. Such, and so great was her griefe, that her vitall spirits being suppressed with sorow, she fell downe againe in a traunce, hauing her sences so sotted with care, that after she was reuiued, yet she lost her memorie, and lay for a great time without moouing as one in a traunce. The gard left her in this perplexitie, and carried the child to the King, who quite deuoyde of pity, commanded that without delay it should be put into the boate, hauing neither saile nor other to guide it, and so to be carried into the midst of the sea, and there left to the winde and waue as the destinies please to appoint. The very shipmen seeing the sweete countenance of the yong babe, began to accuse the King of rigor, and to pity the childs hard fortune: but feare constrained them to that which their nature did abhorre: so that they placed it in one of the ends of the boat, and with a few green bows made a homely cabin to shrowd it as they could from wind and weather: hauing thus trimmed the boat they tied it to a ship, and so haled it into the maine sea, and then cut insunder the corde, which they had no sooner done, but there arose a mighty tempest, which tossed the little boat so vehemently in the waues, that the ship men thought it could not long continue without sinking, yea the storme grew so great, that with much labour and perill they got to the shoare. But leaving the child to her fortunes. Againe to Pandosto, who not yet glutted with sufficient reuenge, deuised which way he should best increase his wives calamitie. But first assembling his Nobles and Counsellours, hee called her for the more reproch into open Court, where it was obiected against her, that she had committed adulterie with Egistus, and conspired with Franion to poyson Pandosto her husband, but their pretence being partely spied, she counselled them to flie away by night for their better safetie. Bellaria, who standing like a prisoner at the bar, feeling in herselfe a cleare conscience to withstand her false accusers: seeing that no lesse than death could pacifie her husbands wrath, waxed bold, and desired that she might haue lawe and lustice, for mercy she neither craued nor hoped, and that those periured wretches, which had falsly accused her to the king, might be brought before her face, to giue in evidence. Pandosto, whose rage and iealousie was such, no reason, nor equitie could appease, tolde her, that for her accusers they, were of such credit, as their wordes were sufficient witnes, and that the sodaine and secret flight of Egistus and Franion confirmed that which they had confessed: and as for her, it was her part to deny such a monstrous crime, and to be impudent in forswearing the fact, since she had past al shame in committing the fault: but her stale countenance should stand for no coyne, for as the bastard which she bare was serued, so she should with some cruel death be requited. Bellaria no whit dismaied with this rough reply, tolde her husband Pandosto that he spake vpon choler, and not conscience: for her vertuous life had bin ever such, as no spot of suspition could ever stain. And if she had borne a frendly countenance to Egistus, it was in respect he was his friend, and not for any lusting affection: therefore if she were condemned without any further proofe, it was rigour, and not law. The noblemen which sate in iudgment, said that Bellaria spake reason, and intreated the king that the accusers might be openly examined, and sworne, if then the evidence were such, as the Jury might find her guilty (for seeing she was a Prince) shee ought to be tried by her peeres, then let her haue such punishment as the extremitie of the law will assigne to such malefactors. The king presently made answer, that in this case he might, and would dispence with the law, and that the Jury being once panneled, they should take his word for sufficient evidence, otherwise he would make the prowdest of them repent it. The noblemen seeing the king in choler, were al whist, but Bellaria whose life then hung in the ballance, fearing more perpetuall infamie, then momentary death, told the king, if his furie might stand for a Lawe, that it were vaine to haue the Jury yeeld their verdit, and therefore she fell downe vpon her knees, and desired the king that for the loue he bare to his yong sonne Garinter, whome she brought into the world, that hee would grant her a request, the which was this, that it would please his majesty to send six of his noble men whom hee best trusted, to the Isle of Delphos, there to enquire of the Oracle of Apollo, whether she had committedæadulterie with Egistus, or conspired to poyson with Franion: and if the God Apollo, who by his divine essence knew all secrets, gave answere that shee was guiltie, shee were content to suffer any torment, were it neuer so terrible. The request was so reasonable, that Pandosto could not for shame deny it, vnlesse hee would be counted of all his subiectes more wilfull then wise. He therefore agreed, that with as much speede as might be there should be certaine Embassadors dispatched to the Ile of Delphos: and in the meane season he commaunded that his wife should be kept in close prison. Bellaria hauing obtained this grant, was now more carefull for her little babe that floatedæon the seas, then sorrowful for her owne mishap. For of that she doubted: of her selfe she was assured, knowing if Apollo should give Oracle according to the thoughts of the hart, yet the sentence should go on her side, such was the cleerenes of her mind in this case. But Pandosto (whose suspitious head still remained in one song) chose out six of his Nobilitie, whom he knew were scarse indifferent men in the Queens behalfe, and prouiding all things fit for their iourney, sent them to Delphos: they willing to fulfill the kings command, and desirous to see the situation and custome of the Iland, dispatched their affaires with as much speed as might be, and embarked themselues to the voyage, which (the wind and weather seruing fit for their purpose) was soone ended. For within three weekes they arrived at Delphos, where they were no sooner set on lande, but with great deuotion they went to the Temple of Apollo, and there offring sacrifice to the God, and gifts to the Priest, as the custome was, they humbly craued an answere of their demand: they had not long kneeled at the Altar, but Apollo with a loude voice said: Bohemians, what you finde behind the Alter take, and depart. They forthwith obeying the Oracle founde a scroule of parchment, wherein was written these words in letters of golde.
Suspition is no proofe: Iealousie is an vnequall Iudge: Bellaria is chaste: Egistus blameless: Franion a true subject: Pandosto treacherous: his babe an innocent, and the king shal liue without an heire: if that which is lost be not found.
As soone as they had taken out this scrol, the priest of the god commaunded them that they should not presume to reade it, before they came in the presence of Pandosto: vnlesse they would incurre the displeasure of Apollo. The Bohemian lords carefully obeying his commaund, taking their leaue of the priest, with great reuerence departed out of the Temple, and went to their ships, and as soone as wind would permit them, sailed toward Bohemia, whither in short time they safely arrived, and with great triumph issuing out of their ships, went to the kings pallace, whom they found in his chamber accompanied with other noble men: Pandosto no sooner saw them, but with a merry countenance hee welcomed them home, asking what newes: they told his maiestie that they had received an answer of the god written in a scroll, but with this charge, that they should not reade the contents before they came in the presence of the king, and with that they deliuered him the parchment: but his noblemen entreated him that sith therein was contained either the safety of his wives life and honesty, or her death and perpetuall infamy, that hee would haue his nobles and commons assembled in the iudgement hall, where the queene brought in as a prisoner should heare the contents: if she were found guilty by the oracle of the god, then al should haue cause to thinke his rigor proceeded of due desert: if her grace were found faultlesse, then she should bee cleered before al, sith she had bin accused openly. This pleased the King so, that he appointed the day, and assembled al his lords and commons, and caused the Queene to be brought in before the iudgement seate, commaunding that the inditement shuld be read, wherein she was accused of adulterie with Egistus, and of conspiracie with Franion: Bellaria hearing the contents, was no whit astonished, but made this cheerefull aunswere.
If the diuine powers be priuy to humane actions (as no doubt they are) I hope my patience shal make fortune blush, and my vnspottedælife shall staine spitefully discredit. For, althogh lying report hath sought to appeach mine honor, and suspition hath intended to soile my credite with infamy: yet where vertue keepeth the fort, report and suspition may assaile, but neuer sacke: how I haue led my life before Egistus comming, I appeale Pandosto to the gods, and to thy conscience. What hath past between him and me, the gods only know, and I hope will presently reueale: that I loued Egistus I can not deny that I honored him I shame not to confesse: to the one I was forced by his vertues, to the other for his dignities. But as touching lasciuious lust, I say Egistus is honest, and hope my selfe to be found without spot: for Franion, I can neyther accuse him, nor excuse him: for I was not priuy to his departure, and that this is true which I haue here rehearsed, I referre my selfe to the diuine oracle.
Bellaria had no sooner sayd, but the King commanded that one of his Dukes should reade the contents of the scroll: which after the commons had heard, they gaue a great shout, rejoicing and clapping their hands that the Queene was cleere of that false accusation: but the king whose conscience was a witnesse against him of his witlesse fury, and false suspected iealousie, was so ashamed of his rash folly, that he intretedæhis nobles to perswade Bellaria to forgive, and forget these iniuries: promising not onely to shew himselfe a loyall and louing husband, but also to reconcile himselfe to Egistus and Franion: reuealing then before them all the cause of their secrete flight, and how trecherously he thought to haue practized his death, if the good mind of his cupbearer had not preuented his purpose. As thus he was relating the whole matter, there was worde brought him that his yong son Garinter was sodainly dead, which newes so soone as Bellaria heard, surcharged before with extreme ioy, and now suppressed with heauy sorrow, her vitall spirites were so stopped, that she fell downe presently dead, and could neuer be reuived. This sodaine sight so appalled the kings sences, that he sunke from his seat in a swounde, so as he was faine to be caried by his nobles to his pallace, where he lay by the space of three dayes without speach: his commons were as men in dispaire, so diuersely distressed: there was nothing but mourning and lamentation to be heard throughout all Bohemia: their young Prince dead, their vertuous Queene bereaued of her life, and their king and soveraigne in great hazard: this tragicall discourse of fortune so daunted them, as they went like shadowes, not men: yet somewhat to comforte their heauy hearts, they heard that Pandosto was come to himselfe, and had recouered his speach, who as in a fury brayed out these bitter speaches.
O miserable Pandosto, what surer witnes then conscience: what thoughtes more sower then suspition: What plague more bad then Iealousie: Unnatural actions offend the Gods, more than men, and causelesse cruelty neuer scapes without reuenge: I haue committed such a bloudy fact, as repent I may, but recal I cannot. Ah Iealousie, a hel to the mind and a horrour to the conscience, suppressing reason, and inciting rage: a worse passion then phrensie, a greater plague than madnes. Are the Gods iust: Then let them reuenge such brutish crueltie: my innocent babe I haue drowned in the seas: my louing wife I haue slaine with slaunderous suspition: my trusty friend I haue sought to betray, and yet the Gods are slacke to plague such offences. Ah vniust Apollo, Pandosto is the man that hath committed the fault: why should Garinter, seely child, abide the paine: Wel, sith the Gods mean to prolong my daies, to increase my dolour, I will offer my guilty bloud a sacrifice to those sacklesse soules, whose lives are lost by my rigorous folly. And with that he reached at a rapier, to haue murdered himselfe, but his Peeres being present, stayed him from such a bloudy act: perswading him to thinke, that the commonwealth consisted on his safety, and that those sheepe could not but perish, that wanted a sheepheard: wishing that if he woulde not liue for himselfe, yet he should haue care of his subiects, and to put such fancies out of his mind, sith in sores past helpe, salues do not heale, but hurt: and in things past cure, care is a corasiue: with these and such like perswasions the king was ouercome, an began somewhat to quiet his minde: so that assoone as hee could goe abroad, hee caused his wife to be embalmed, and wrapt in lead with her yong sonne Garinter: erecting a rich and famous Sepulchre, wherein he intumbed them both, making such solemne obsequies at her funeral, as all Bohemia might perceiue he did greatly repent him of his forepassed folly: causing this Epitaph to be ingrauen on her Tombe in letters of gold:
Here lies intommbde Bellaria, faire,
Falsly accused to be vnchaste:
Cleared by Apollos sacred doome,
Yet slaine by Iealousie at last.
What ere thou be that passest by,
Curse him that causde this Queene to die.,
This Epitaph being ingrauen, Pandosto would once a day repaire to the Tombe, and there with watry plaints bewaile his misfortune: coueting no other companion but sorrow, nor no other harmonie, but repentance. But leauing him to his dolorous passions, at last let vs come to shewe the tragicall discourse of the yong infant.
Who beeing tossed with winde, and wave, floated two whole dayes without succour, readie at euerie puffe to be drowned in the sea, till at last the tempest ceased, and the little boate was driuen with the tide into the coast of Sycilia, where sticking vpon the sands, it rested. Fortune mynding to be wanton, willing to shew that as she hath wrinckles on her browes: so shee hath dimples in her cheekes: thought after so many sower looks, to lend a fayned smile, and after a puffing storme, to bring a pretty calme: she began thus to dally. It fortuned a poore mercenary shepheard, that dwelled in Sycilia, who got his liuing by other mens flockes, missed one of his sheepe, and thinking it had straied into the covert, that was hard by, sought very diligently to find that which he could not see, fearing either that the wolves, or Eagles had vndone him (for he was so poore, as a sheepe was halfe his substance) wandered down toward the sea cliffes, to see if perchance the sheep was browseing on the sea Iuie, whereon they greatly do feed, but not finding her there, as he was ready to returne to his flock, hee heard a child cry: but knowing there was no house neere, thought he had mistaken the sound, and that it was the bleating of his sheep. Wherefore looking more narrowly, as he cast his eie to the Sea, he spied a little boat, from whence as he attentively listened, he might heare the cry to come: standing a good while in a maze, at last he went to the shoare, and wading to the boat, as he looked in, he saw the little babe lying al alone, ready to die for hunger and colde, wrapped in a mantle of scarlet, richly imbrodered with gold, and hauing a chayne about the necke. The shepeheard, who before had neuer seene so faire a babe, nor so rich iewels, thought assuredly, that it was some little god, and began with great deuotion to knocke on his breast. The Babe, who wrythed with the head, to seek for the pap, began againe to cry afresh, whereby the poore man knew that it was a child, which by some sinister means was driuen thither by distresse of weather: maruelling how such a seely infant, which by the mantle, and the chaine, could not be but borne of noble parentage, shuld be so hardly crossed with deadly mishap. The poore shepheard perplexed thus with diuers thoughts, tooke pity of the child, and determined with himself to cary it to the K. that there it might be brought vp, according to the worthinesse of birth: for his ability could not affoord to foster it, though his minde was willing to further it. Taking therefore the childe in his armes, as he folded the mantle together, the better to defend it from cold, there fell downe at his foot a very faire and rich purse, wherein he found a great summe of gold: which sight so reuiued the shepherds spirits as he was greatly rauished with ioy, and danted with feare: ioyful to see such a summe in his power: feareful if it should be known, that it might breede his further danger. Necessity wisht him at the least, to retaine the gold, though he would not keep the child: the simplicity of his conscience feared him from such deceitful bribery. Thus was the poore man perplexed with a doubtful Dilemma, vntil at last the couetousnese of the coine overcame him: for what will not the greedy desire of golde cause a man to doe? So that he was resolued in himselfe to foster the child, and with the summe to relieue his want: resting thus resolute in this point, he left seeking of his sheepe, and as couertly, and secretly as he coulde, went by a byway to his house, least any of his neighbours should perceiue his carriage: assoone as hee was got home, entring in at the doore, the child began to cry, which his wife hearing, and seeing her husband with a young babe in armes, began to be somewhat ielous, yet marveiling that her husband should be so wanton abroad, sith he was so quiet at home: but as women are naturally given to beleeve the worst, so his wife thinking it was some bastard, began to crowe against her goodman, and taking vp a cudgell (for the most maister went breechlesse) sware solemnly that she would make clubs trumps, if he brought any bastard brat within her doores. The goodman seeing his wife in her maiestie with her mace in her hand, thought it was time to bowe for feare of blowes, and desired her to be quiet, for there was none such matter: but if she could hold her peace, they were made for euer: and with that he told her the whole matter, how hee had found the childe in a little boate, without any succour, wrapped in that costlie mantle, and hauing that rich chaine about the necke: but at last when he shewed her the purse full of golde, she began to simper something sweetely, and taking her husband about the necke, kisied him after her homely fashion: saying that she hoped God had seene their want, and now ment to relieue their pouertie, and seeing they could get no children, had sent them this little babe to be their heire. Take heede in any case (quoth the shepheard) that you be secret, and blabbe it not out when you meete with your gossippes, for if you doe, we are like not onely to loose the golde and iewels, but our other goodes and liues. Tush (quoth his wife) profit is a good hatch before the doore: feare not, I haue other things to talke of then of this: but I pray you let vs lay vp the money surely, and the iewels, least by any mishap it be espied. After that they had set all things in order, the shepheard went to his sheepe with a merry note, and the good wife learned to sing lullaby at home with her yong babe, wrapping it in a homely blanket in steed of a rich mantle, nourishing it so cleanly and carefully as it began to bee a iolly girle, insomuch that they began both of them to be verie fonde of it, seeing as it waxed in age, so it increased in beautie. The shepheard euery night at his comming home, would sing and daunce it on his knee, and prattle, that in a short time it began to speake and call him Dad, and her Mam: at last when it grew to ripe yeares, that it was about seuen yeares olde, the shepheard left keeping of other mens sheepe, and with the money he found in the purse, he bought him the lease of a prettie farme, and got a small flocke of sheepe, which when Fawnia (for so they named the childe) came to the age of ten yeares, hee set her to keepe, and shee with such diligence performed her charge as the sheepe prospered maruellously vnder her hands. Fawnia thought Porrus had been her father, and Mopsa her mother, (for so was the shepheard and his wife called) honoured and obeyed them with such reuerence, that all the neighbours praysed the dutifull obedience of the childe. Porrus grewe in a short time to bee a man of some wealth, and credite: for fortune so fauoured him in hauing no charge but Fawnia, that he began to purchase land, intending after his death to giue it to his daughter: so that diuerse rich farmers sonnes came as wooers to his house: for Fawnia was something cleanly attyred, beeing of such singular beautie and excellent witte, that whoso sawe her, would haue thought she had bene some heauenly nymph, and not a mortall creature: insomuch, that when she came to the age of sixteene yeeres, shee so increased with exquisite perfection both of bodie and mind, as her natural disposition did bewray that she was borne of some high parentage: but the people thinking she was daughter to the shephard Porrus, rested onley amazed at her beautie and wit: yea she woon such fauour and commendations in every mans eye, as her beautie was not only praysed in the countrey, but also spoken of in the Court: yet such was her submisse modestie, that although her prayse dayly increased, her minde was no whit puffed vp with pride, but humbled her selfe as became a countrey mayd and the daughter of a poore sheepheard. Every day she went forth with her sheepe to the field, keeping them with such care and diligence, as all men thought she was very painfull, defending her face from the heat of the sunne with no other vaile, but with a garland made of bowes and flowers: which attire became her so gallantly, as she seemed to be the Goddesse Flora her selfe for beautie. Fortune, who all this while had shewed a friendly face, began now to turne her backe, and to shew a lowring countenance, intending as shee had given Fawnia a slender checke, so she would give her a harder mate: to bring which to passe, she laid her traine on this wise. Egistus had but one onely sonne called Dorastus, about the age of twentie yeeres: a Prince so decked and adorned with the giftes of nature: so fraught with beautie and vertuous qualities, as not onely his father ioyed to haue so good a sonne, and all his commons reioyced that God had sent them such a noble Prince to succeede in the Kingdome. Egistus placing al his ioy in the perfection of his sonne: seeing that he was now mariageable, sent Ambassadors to the king of Denmarke, to intreate a mariage betweene him and his daughter, who willingly consenting, made answere, that the next spring if it please Egistus with his sonne to come into Denmarke, hee doubted not, but they should agree vpon reasonable conditions. Egistus resting satisfied with this friendly answere, thought conuenient in the meane time to breake with his Sonne: finding therefore on a day fit oportunitie, he spake to him in these fatherly tearmes.
Dorastus, thy youth warneth me to prevent the woorst, and mine age to provide the best. Oportunities neglected, are signes of folly: actions measured by time, are seldome bitten with repentance: thou art yong, and I old: age hath taught me that, which thy youth cannot yet conceive.
I therefore will counsell thee as a father, hoping thou wilt obey as a child. Thou seest my white hayres are blossomes for the graue, and thy fresh colour fruite for time and fortune, so that it behooueth mee to thinke how to die, and for thee to care how to liue. My crowne I must leave by death, and thou enioy my kingdome by succession, wherein I hope thy vertue and prowesse shall bee such, as though my subjectes want my person, yet they shall see in thee my perfection. That nothing either may fayle to satisfie thy mind, or increase thy dignities, the onely care I haue, is to see thee well married before I die, and thou become old.
Dorastus who from his infancie, delighted rather to dye with Mars in the field, then to dally with Venus in the chamber: fearing to displease his father, and yet not willing to be wed, made him this reuerent answere.
Sir, there is no greater bond than duetie, nor no straiter law then nature: disobedience in youth is often galled with despight in age. The commaund of the father ought to be a constraint to the child: so parents willes are lawes, so they passe not all lawes: may it please your grace therefore to appoint whome I shall loue, rather then by deniall I should be appeached of disobedience: I rest content to loue, though it bee the onely thing I hate.
Egistus hearing his sonne to flye so farre from the marke, began to be somewhat chollericke, and therefore made him his hasty aunswere.
What Dorastus canst thou not loue? Commeth this cynicall passion of prone desires, or peeuish frowardnesse. What dost thou think thy selfe too good for all, or none good inough for thee. I tell thee: Dorastus, there is nothing sweeter then youth, nor swifter decreasing, while it is increasing. Time past with folly may be repented, but not recalled. If thou marry in age, thy wiues fresh couloures will breede in thee dead thoughts and suspition, and thy white hayres her lothesomnesse and sorrow. For Venus affections are not fed with kingdomes, or treasures, but with youthfull conceits and sweete amours. Vulcan was allotted to shake the tree, but Mars allowed to reape the fruite. Yeeld Dorastus to thy fathers perswasions, which may preuent thy perils. I haue chosen thee a wife, faire by nature, royall by birth, by vertues famous, learned by education, and ritch by possessions, so that it is hard to iudge whether her bountie, or fortune, her beauty, or vertue, be of greater force: I mean, Dorastus, Euphrania daughter and heire to the King of Denmarke.
Egistus pausing here a while, looking when his sonne should make him answere, and seeing that he stood still as one in a traunce, he shooke him vp thus sharply.
Well Dorastus take heede, the tree Alpya wasteth not with fire, but withereth with the dew: that which loue nourisheth not, perisheth with hate: if thou like Euphrania thou breedest my content, and in louing her thou shalt my loue, otherwise: and with that hee flung from his sonne in a rage, leauing him a sorrowfull man, in that he had by deniall displeased his father, and halfe angrie with himselfe that he could not yeelde to that passion, whereto both reason and his Father perswaded him: but see how fortune is plumed with times feathers, and how shee can minister straunge causes to breede strange effects.
It happened not long after this, that there was a meeting of all the Farmers daughters in Sycilia, whither Fawnia was also bidden as the Mistresse of the feast, who hauing attired herselfe in her best garments, went among the rest of her companions to the merrie meeting: there spending the day in such homely pastimes as shepheards vse. As the euening grew on, and their sports ceased, each taking their leaue at other, Fawnia desiring one of her companions to beare her companie, went home by the flocke, to see if they were well folded, and as they returned, it fortuned that Dorastus (who all that day had bene hawking, and kild store of game) incountred by the way these two mayds, and casting his eye suddenly on Fawnia, he was halfe afrayd, fearing that with Acteon he had seene Diana: for hee thought such exquisite perfection could not be found in anie mortall creature. As thus he stood in a maze, one of his Pages told him, that the mayde with the garland on her head was Fawnia, the faire shepheard, whose beautie was so much talked of in the court. Dorastus desirous to see if nature had adorned her mind with any inward qualities, as she had decked her bodie with outward shape, began to question with her whose daughter she was, of what age, and how she had beene trained vp, who answered him with such modest reuerence and sharpnes of wit, that Dorastus thought her outward beautie was but a counterfeit to darken her inward qualities, wondring how so courtly behauiour could be found in so simple a cottage, and cursing fortune that had shadowed wit and beautie with such hard fortune. And thus he held her a long while with chat, Beautie seeing him at discouert, thought not to lose the vantage, but stroke him so deepely with an inuenomed shaft, as he wholly lost his libertie, and became a slaue to Loue, which before contemned loue, glad now to gaze on a poore shepherd, who before refused the offer of a rich Princesse: for the perfection of Fawnia had so fired his fancie as he felt his mind greatly chaunged, and his affections altered, cursing Loue that had wrought such a chaunge, and blaming the basenesse of his mind that would make such a choice: but thinking these were but passionate toyes that might be thrust out at pleasure, to avoid the Syren that enchanted him, he put spurres to his horse, and bad this faire shepherd farewell.
Fawnia (who all this while had marked the princely gesture of Dorastus) seeing his face so well featured, and each lim so perfectly framed, began greatly to praise his perfection, commending him so long, till she found her selfe faultie, and perceiued that if she waded but a little further, she might slip ouer the shoes: she therefore seekeing to quench that fier which neuer was put out, went home, and fayning her selfe not well at ease, got her to bed: where casting a thousand thoughts in her head, she could take no rest: for if she waked, she began of call to minde his beautie, and thinking to beguile such thoughts with sleepe, she then dreamed of his perfection: pestered thus with these vnacquainted passions, she passed the night as she could in short slumbers.
Dorastus (who all this while rode with a flea in his eare) could not by any meanes forget the sweete fauour of Fawnia, but rested so bewitched with her wit and beautie, as he could take no rest. He felt fancie to giue the assault, and his wounded mind ready to yeeld as vanquished: yet he began with diuers considerations to suppresse this frantick affection, calling to minde, that Fawnia was a shepherd, one not worthy to be looked at of a Prince, much lesse to be loued of such a potentate, thinking what a discredit it were to himselfe, and what a griefe it would be to his father, blaming fortune and accusing his own folly, that should be so fond as but once to cast a glaunce at such a country slut. As thus he was raging against himselfe, Loue, fearing if she dallie long, to loose her champion, stept more nigh, and gaue him such a fresh wound as it pearst him at the heart, that he was faine to yeeld, maugre his face, and to forsake the companie and get him to his chamber: where being solemnly set, he burst into these passionate tearmes.
Ah, Dorastus, art thou alone? No not alone, while thou art tried with these vnacquaintedæpassions. Yeeld to fancie, thou canst not by thy fathers counsell, but in a frenzie thou art by iust destinies. Thy father were content, if thou couldest loue, and thou therefore discontent, because thou dost loue. O diuine Loue, feared of men because honoured of the gods, not to be suppressed by wisdome, because not to be comprehended by reason: without Law, and therefore aboue all Law.
How now Dorastus, why doest thou blaze that with prayses, which thou hast cause to blaspheme with curses? Yet why should they curse Loue which are in Loue?
Blush Dorastus at thy fortune, thy choyce, thy loue: thy thoughts cannot be vttered without shame, nor thy affections without discredit. Ah Fawnia, sweet Fawnia, thy beauty Fawnia. Shamest not thou Dorastus to name one vnfitte for thy birth, thy dignities, thy kingdomes? Die Dorastus, Dorastus die, better hadst thou perish with high desires, than liue in base thoughts. Yea but, beautie must be obeyed, because it is beautie, yet framed of the Gods to feede the eye, not to fetter the heart.
Ah, but he that striueth against Loue, shooteth with them of Scyrum agaynst the winde, and with the Cockeatrice pecketh against the steele. I will therefore obey, because I must obey. Fawnia, yea Fawnia shall be my fortune, in spight of fortune. The Gods aboue disdaine not to loue women beneath. Phoebus liked Sibilla, Iupiter, Io, and why not I then Fawnia, one something inferiour to these in birth, but farre superiour to them in beautie, borne to be a Shepherd, but worthy to be a Goddesse.
Ah Dorastus, wilt thou so forget thy selfe as to suffer affection to suppresse wisedome, and Loue to violate thine honor? How sower will thy choice be to thy father, sorowfull to thy subiects, to thy friends a griefe, most gladsome to thy foes? Subdue then thy affection, and cease to loue her whom thou couldst not loue, vnlesse blinded with too much loue. Tush I talke to the wind, and in seeking to preuent the causes, I further the effects. I will yet praise Fawnia, honor, yea and loue Fawnia, and at this day follow content, not counsell. Do Dorastus, thou canst but repent: and with that his Page came into the chamber, whereupon he ceased from complaints, hoping that time would weare out that which fortune had wrought. As thus he was pained, so poore Fawnia was diuersly perplexed: for the next morning getting vp very early, she went to her sheepe, thinking with hard labours to passe away her new conceived amours, beginning very busily to drive them to the field, and then to shift the folds, at last (wearied with toyle) she sate her downe, where (poore soule) she was more tried with fond affections: for loue began to assault her, in so much that as she sate vpon the side of a hill, she began to accuse her owne folly in these tearmes.
Infortunate Fawnia, and therefore infortunate because Fawnia, thy shepherds hooke sheweth thy poore state, thy proud desires an aspiring mind: the one declareth thy want, the other thy pride. No bastard hauke must soare so high as the Hobbie, no fowle gaze against the Sunne but the Eagle, actions wrought against nature reape despight, and thoughts above Fortune disdaine.
Fawnia, thou art a shepheard, daughter to poore Porrus: if thou rest content with this, thou art like to stande, if thou climbe thou art sure to fall. The herb Anita growing higher then sixe inches becommeth a weede. Nylus flowing more then twelve cubits procureth a dearth. Daring affections that passe measure, are cut short by time or fortune: suppresse then Fawnia those thoughts which thou mayest shame to expresse. But ah Fawnia, loue is a Lord, who will command by power, and constraine by force.
Dorastus, ah Dorastus is the man I loue, the woorse is thy hap, and the lesse cause hast thou to hope. Will Eagles catch at flyes, will Cedars stoupe to brambles, or mighty Princes looke at such homely trulles? No, no, thinke this, Dorastus disdaine is greater then thy desire, he is a Prince respecting his honor, thou a beggars brat forgetting thy calling. Cease then not onely to say, but to thinke to loue Dorastus, and dissemble thy loue Fawnia, for better it were to die with griefe, then to liue with shame: yet in despight of loue I will sigh, to see if I can sigh out loue. Fawnia somewhat appeasing her griefs with these pithy perswasions, began after her wonted manner to walke about her sheepe, and to keepe them from straying into the corne, suppressing her affection with the due consideration of her base estate, and with the impossibilities of her loue, thinking it were frensie, not fancy, to couet that which the very destinies did deny her to obtaine.
But Dorastus was more impatient in his passions: for loue so fiercely assayled him, that neither company, nor musicke could mittigate his martirdome, but did rather farre the more increase his malady: shame would not let him craue counsaile in this case, nor feare of his fathers displeasure reueile it to any secrete friend: but hee was faine to make a Secretarie of himselfe, and to participate his thoughtes with his owne troubled minde. Lingring thus awhile in doubtfull suspence, at lost stealing secretly from the court without either men or Page, hee went to see if hee could espy Fawnia walking abroad in the field, but as one hauing a great deale more skill to retriue the partridge with his spaniels, then to hunt after such a strange pray, he sought, but was little the better: which crosse lucke draue him into a great choler, that hee began both to accuse loue and fortune. But as he was ready to retire, he saw Fawnia sitting all alone vnder the side of a hill, making a garlande of such homely flowers as the fieldes did afoord. This sight so reuiued his spirites that he drew nigh, with more iudgement to take a view of her singular perfection, which he found to bee such, as in that country attire shee stained all the courtly Dames of Sicilia. While thus he stoode gazing with pearcing lookes on her surpassing beautie, Fawnia cast her eye aside, and spyed Dorastus, with sodaine sight made the poore girl to blush, and to die her christall cheeks with a vermilion red: which gaue her such a grace, as shee seemed farre more beautifull. And with that she rose vp, saluting the Prince with such modest curtesies, as hee wondred how a country mayd could aford such courtly behaviour. Dorastus, repaying her curtesie with a smiling countenance, began to parly with her on this manner.
Faire mayde (quoth he) either your want is great, or a shepheards life very sweet, that your delight is in such country labours. I can not conceiue what pleasure you should take, vnlesse you meane to imitate the nimphes, being your selfe so like a Nymph. To put me out of this doubt, shew me what is to be commended in a shepheardes life, and what pleasures you to counteruaile these drudging labours. Fawnia with blushing face made him this ready aunswere.
Sir, what richer state then content, or what sweeter life then quiet, we shepheards are not borne to honor, nor beholding vnto beau[t]y, the lesse care we to feare fame or fortune: we count our attire braue inough if warme inough, and our foode dainty, if to suffice nature: our greatest enemy is the wolfe, our only care in safe keeping our flocke: in steed of courtly ditties we spend the daies with country songs: our amorous conceites are homely thoughtes: delighting as much to talke of Pan and his countrey prankes: as Ladies to tell of Venus and her wanton toyes. Our toile is in shifting the foldes, and looking to the Lambes easie labours: oft singing and telling tales, homely pleasures: our greatest wealth not to couet, our honor not to climbe, our quiet not to care. Enuy looketh not so lowe as shepheards: Shepheards gaze not so high as ambition: we are rich in that we are poore with content, and proud only in this that we no cause to be proud.
This witty answere of Fawnia so inflamed Dorastus fancy as he commended himselfe for making so good a choice, thinking, if her birth were aunswerable to her wit and beautie, that she were a fit mate for the most famous prince in the world. He therefore beganne to sift her more narrowly on this manner.
Fawnia. I see thou art content with country labours, because thou knowest not courtly pleasures: I commend thy wit, and pitie thy want: but wilt thou leave thy fathers cottage, and serue a courtlie mistresse.
Sir (quoth she) beggars ought not to striue against fortune nor to gaze after honour, lest either their fall bee greater, or they become blind. I am borne to toyle for the court, not in the Court, my nature vnfit for their nurture, better liue then in meane degree, than in high disdaine.
Well saide Fawnia (quoth Dorastus) I gesse at thy thoughts, thou art in loue with some country shepheard.
No sir (quoth she) shepherds cannot loue, that are so simple, and maides may not loue that are so young.
Nay therefore (quoth Dorastus) maids must loue, because they are yong, for Cupid is a child, and Venus, though old, is painted with fresh colours.
I grant (said she) age may be painted with new shadows, and youth may haue imperfect affections: but what arte concealeth in one ignorance reuealeth in the other. Dorastus seeing Fawnia held him so hard, thought it was vaine so long to beate about the bush: therefore he thought to haue giuen her a fresh charge: but he was so preuented by certain of his men, who missing their master, came posting to seeke him: seeing that he was gone foorth all alone, yet before they drew so nie that they might heare their talke, he vsed these speeches.
Why Fawnia, perhaps I loue thee, and then thou must needes yeelde, for thou knowest I can commaund and constraine. Trueth sir (quoth she) but not to loue: for constrained loue is force, not loue: and know this sir, mine honesty is such, as I had rather die than be a concubine even vnto a king, and my birth is so base as I am vnfit to bee a wife to a poore farmer. Why then, quoth he, thou canst not loue Dorastus? yes said Fawnia, when Dorastus becomes a shepheard, and with that the presence of his men broke off their parle, so that he went with them to the pallace, and left Fawnia sitting still on the hill side, who seeing that the night drew on, shifted her fouldes, and busied her selfe about other worke to drive away such fond fancies as began to trouble her braine. But all this could not preuaile, for the beautie of Dorastus had made such a deepe impression in her heart, as it could not be worne out without cracking, so that she was forced to blame her owne folly in this wise.
Ah Fawnia, why doest thou gaze against the Sunne, or catch at the wind: stars are to be looked at with the eye, not reached at with the hand: thoughts are to be measured by fortunes, not by desires: falles come not by sitting lowe, but by climing too high: what then, shall all feare to fall, because some hap to fal? No, lucke commeth by lot, and fortune windeth those threedes which the destinies spin. Thou art fauored Fawnia of a prince, and yet thou art so fond to reiect desired fauours: thou hast denial at thy tounges end, and desire at thy hearts bottome: a womans fault, to spurne at that with her foot, which she greedily catcheth at with her hand: Thou louest Dorastus, Fawnia, and yet seemest to lower. Take heede, if he retire, thou wilt repent: for vnles he loue, thou canst but die. Die then Fawnia: for Dorastus doth but iest: the lion neuer prayeth on the mouse, nor faulcons stoupe not to dead stales. Sit downe then in sorrow, cease to loue, and content thy selfe, that Dorastus will vouchsafe to flatter Fawnia, though not to fancie Fawnia. Heigh ho: Ah foole, it were seemelier for thee to whistle as a Sheapheard, than to sigh as a louer, and with that she ceased from these perplexed passions, folding her sheep, and hying home to her poore cottage. But such was the inconstant sorrowe of Dorastus to thinke on the witte and beautie of Fawnia, and to see how fond hee was being a prince: and how froward she was being a beggar, then he began to loose his wonted appetite, to looke pale and wan: insteed of mirth, to feede on melancholy: for courtly daunces to vse cold dumpes: insomuch that not only his owne men, but his father and all the Court began to maruell at his sodain change, thinking that some lingring sicknes had broght him into this state: wherefore he caused Phisitions to come, but Dorastus neither woulde let them minister, nor so much as suffer them to see his vrine: but remained stil so oppressed with these passions, as hee feared in himselfe a farther inconuenience. His honor wished him to cease from such folly, but Loue forced him to follow fancie: yea and in despight of honour, loue wonne the conquest, so that his hot desires caused him to finde new deuises, for hee presently made himselfe a shepheardes coate, that he might go vnknowne, and with the lesse suspition to prattle with Fawnia, and conueyed it secretly into a thicke grove hard ioyning to the Pallace, whither finding fit time, and opportunity, he went all alone, and putting off his Princely apparell, got on those shepheards robes, and taking a great hooke in his hand (which he had also gotten) he went very anciently to find out the mistresse of his affection: but as he went by the way, seeing himselfe clad in such vnseemely ragges, hee began to smile at his owne folly, and to reproue his fondnesse in these tearmes.
Well said Dorastus, thou keepest a right decorum, base desires and homely attires: thy thoughtes are fit for none but a shepheard, and thy apparell such as only become a shepheard. A strange change from a Prince to a pesant. What is it thy wretched fortune or thy wilful folly: Is it thy cursed destinies? Or thy crooked desires, that appointeth thee this penance? Ah Dorastus thou canst but loue, and vnlesse thou loue thou art like to perish for loue[.] Yet, fond foole, choose flowers, not weedes: Diamonds, not peables: Ladies, which may honour thee: not shepheards which maie disgrace thee. Venus is painted in silkes, not in ragges: and Cupid treadeth on disdaine, when he reacheth at dignity. And yet Dorastus shame not at thy shepheards weede: the heauenly Gods haue sometime earthly thoughtes: Neptune became a Ram, Iupiter a Bull, Apollo a shepheard: they Gods, and yet in loue: and thou a man appointed to loue.
Deuising thus with himselfe, hee drew nigh to the place where Fawnia was keeping her sheepe, who casting her eie aside, and seeing such a manerly shepheard, perfectly limmed, and comming with so good a pace, she began halfe to forget Dorastus, and to favor this pretie shepheard, whom she thought she might both loue and obtaine: but as she was in these thoughtes, she perceiued then, it was the yong prince Dorastus, wherfore she rose vp and reuerently saluted him. Dorastus taking her by the hand, repayed her curtesie with a sweete kisse, and praying her to sit downe by him, he began thus to lay the battery.
If thou marvell Fawnia at my strange attire, thou wouldest more muse at my vnaccustomed thoughts: the one disgraceth but my outward shape, the other disturbeth my inward sences. I loue Fawnia, and therefore what loue liketh I cannot mislike. Fawnia, thou hast promised to loue, and I hope thou wilt performe no lesse: I fulfilled thy request, and nowe thou canst but grant my desire. Thou wert content to loue Dorastus when he ceast to be a Prince, and to become a shepheard, and see I haue made the change, and therefore not to misse of my choice.
Truth, quoth Fawnia, but all that weare cooles are not Monkes: painted Eagles are pictures, not Eagles, Zeusis Grapes were like Grapes, yet shadowes: rich cloathing make not princes: nor homely attire beggers: shepheardes are not called shepheards, because they weere hookes and bags, but that they are borne poore, and liue to keep sheepe, so this attire hath not made Dorastus a shepherd, but to seeme like a shepheard.
Well Fawnia, answered Dorastus: were I a shepherd I could not but like thee, and being a prince I am forst to loue thee. Take heed Fawnia, be not proud of beauties painting, for it is a flower that fadeth in the blossome. Those which disdaine in youth, are despised in age: Beauties shadowes are trickt vp with times colours, which being set to drie in the sunne are stained with the sunne, scarce pleasing the sight ere they begin not to be worth the sight, not much vnlike the herbe Ephemeron, which flourisheth in the morning and is withered before the sunne setting: if my desire were against law, thou mightest iustly deny me by reason, but I loue thee Fawnia not to misuse thee as a concubine, but to vse thee as my wife: I can promise no more, and meane to performe no lesse.
Fawnia hearing this solemne protestation of Dorastus, could no longer withstand the assault, but yeelded vp the fort in these friendly tearmes.
Ah Dorastus, I shame to expresse that thou forcest me with thy sugred speech to confesse: my base birth causeth the one, and thy high dignities the other. Beggars thoughts ought not to reach so far as kings, and yet my desires reach as high as princes. I dare not say Dorastus I loue thee, because I am a shepherd, but the gods know I haue honoured Dorastus (pardon if I say amisse) yea and loued Dorastus with such dutiful affection as Fawnia can performe, or Dorastus desire: I yeeld, not overcome with prayers, but with loue, resting Dorastus handmaid ready to obey his will, if no preiudice at all to his honour, nor to my credit.
Dorastus hearing this friendly conclusion of Fawnia, embraced her in his armes, swearing that neither distance, time, nor aduerse fortune should diminish his affection: but that in despight of the destinies he would remaine loyall vnto death. Hauing thus plight their troth each to other, seeing they could not haue the full fruition of their loue in Sycilia, for that Egistus consent would neuer be graunted to so meane a match, Dorastus determined as soone as time and oportunitie would give them leave, to prouide a great masse of money, and many rich and costly iewels, for the easier carriage, and then to transport themselves and their treasure into Italy, where they should leade a contented life, vntil such time as either he could be reconciled to his father, or else by succession come to the kingdome. This deuise was geatly praised of Fawnia, for she feared if the King his father shuld but heare of the contract, that his furie would be such as no lesse than death would stand for payment: she therefore tolde him, that delay bred danger: that many mishaps did fall out betweene the cup and the lip, and that to auoide anger, it were best with as much speede as might be, to pass out of Sycilia, lest fortune might preuent their pretence with some newe despight: Dorastus, whom loue pricked forward with desire, promised to dispatch his affaires with as great haste, as either time or oportunity would giue him leaue: and so resting vpon this point, after many imbracings and sweet kisses they departed.
Dorastus hauing taken his leaue of his best beloued Fawnia, went to the grove where he had his rich apparel, and there vncasing him selfe as secretly as might be, hiding vp his shepheards attire, till occasion should serue againe to vse it: he went to the pallace, shewing by his merry countenaunce, that either the state of his body was amended, or the case of his mind greatly redressed. Fawnia poore soule was no lesse ioyfull, that beeing a shepheard, fortune had fauoured her so, as to rewarde her with the loue of a Prince, hoping in time to be aduanced from the daughter of a poore farmer, to bee the wife of a rich King: so that she thought euery houre a yeare, till by their departure they might preuent daunger, not ceasing still to goe everie day to her sheepe, not so much for the care of her flocke, as for the desire she had to see her loue and Lord Dorastus: who oftentimes when oportunity would serue, repaired thither to feede his fancie with the sweete content of Fawnias presence: and although he never went to visit her, but in his shepheards ragges, yet his oft repaire made him not only suspected, but knowne to diuerse of their neighbours: who for the good will they bare to old Porrus, told him secretly of the matter, wishing him to keepe his daughter at home, least shee went so ofte to the field that she brought him home a young sonne: for they feared that Fawnia beeing so beautifull, the yong prince would allure her to folly. Porrus was striken into a dump at these newes, so that thanking his neighbours for their good will: he hyed him home to his wife, and calling her aside, wringing his hands, and shedding foorth teares, he brake the matter to her in these tearmes.
I am afraid wife, that my daughter Fawnia hath made her selfe so fine, that she will buy repentance too deare. I heare newes, which if they be true, some will wish they had not proued true. It is told me by my neighbours, that Dorastus the Kings sonne begins to looke at our daughter Fawnia: which if it be so, I will not giue her a halfepenie for her honestie at the yeeres ende. I tell thee wife, nowadayes beauty is a great stale to trap yong men, and faire wordes and sweete promises are two great enemies to maidens honestie: and thou knowest where poore men intreat, and cannot obtaine, there Princes may commaund, and will obtaine. Though kings sonnes daunce in nets, they may not be seene: but poore mens faultes are spied at a little hole: Well, it is a hard case where Kings lusts are lawes, and that they should bind poore men to that, which they themselves wilfully breake.
Peace husband (quoth his wife) take heede what you say: speake no more than you shoulde, least you heare what you would not, great streames are to bee stopped by sleight, not by force: and princes to be perswaded by submission, not by rigor: do what you can, but no more than you may, least in sauing Fawnias maidenhead, you loose your owne head. Take heede I say, it is ill iesting with edged tooles, and bad sporting with Kings. The Wolfe had his skinne pulled over his eares for but looking into the Lions den. Tush wife (quoth he) thou speakest like a foole, if the King should knowe that Dorastus had begotten our daughter with childe (as I feare it will fall out little better) the Kings furie would be such, as no doubt wee should both loose our goods and lives: necessitie therefore hath no lawe, and I will preuent this mischiefe with a new deuise that is come in my head, which shall neither offende the King, nor displease Dorastus. I meane to take the chaine and the iewels that I found with Fawnia, and carrie them to the King, letting him then to vnderstand how she is none of my daughter, but that I found her beaten vp with the water alone in a little boat wrapped in a rich Mantle, wherein was inclosed this treasure. By this meanes I hope the King will take Fawnia into his seruice, and wee whatsoever chaunceth shall be blamelesse. This deuice pleased the good wife very well, so that they determined assoone as they might knowe the King at leasure, to make him priuie to this case. In the meane time Dorastus was not slacke in his affaires, but applied his matters with such diligence, that he prouided all thinges fit for their iourney. Treasure and iewels he had gotten great store, thinking there was no better friend than money in a straunge countrey: rich attire he had provided for Fawnia, and, because he could not bring the matter to passe without the helpe and aduice of some one, he made an olde seruant of his called Capnio, who had serued him from his childhoode, priuie to his affaires: who seeing no perswasions could prevaile to diuert him from his setled determination, gave his consent, and dealt so secretly in the cause, that within short space he had gotten a ship readie for their passage: the Mariners seeing a fit gale of winde for their purpose, wished Capnio to make no delayes, least if they pretermitted this good weather, they might stay long ere they had such a faire winde. Capnio fearing that his negligence should hinder the iourney, in the night time conueyed the trunkes full of treasure into the shippe, and by secret meanes let Fawnia vnderstande, that the next morning they meant to depart: shee vpon this newes slept very little that night, but got her vp very early, and wente to her sheepe, looking euery minute when she should see Dorastus, who taried not long, for feare delay might breede daunger, but came as fast as he could gallop, and without any great circumstance tooke Fawnia vp behinde him, and rode to the n where the ship lay, which was not three quarters of a mile distant from that place. He no sooner came there, but the Marriners were readie with their cockeboate to set them aboord, where beeing coucht togither in a Cabben, they past away the time in recounting their olde loues, till their man Capnio could come. Porrus who had heard that this morning the King would goe abroad to take the aire, called in haste to his wife to bring him his holy day hose, and his best Jacket, that he might goe like an honest substantiall man to tell his tale. His wife a good cleanly wench, brought him all things fitte, and spunged him vp very handsomlie, giuing him the chaine and iewels in a little boxe, which Porrus for the more safetie put in his bosome. Having thus all his trinkets in a readinesse, taking his staffe in his hand, he bad his wife kisse him for good lucke, and so hee went towards the Pallace. But as he was going, fortune (who meant to shewe him a little false play) preuented his purpose in this wise.
He met by chaunce in his way Capnio, who trudging as fast as he could with a littly coffer vnder his arme to the ship, and spying Porrus, whom he knew to be Fawnias Father, going towards the Pallace, being a wylie fellow, began to doubt the worst, and therefore crost him the way, and askt him whither he was going so early this morning.
Porrus (who knew by his face that he was one of the Court) meaning simply, told him that the Kings son Dorastus dealt hardly with him: for he had but one Daughter who was a little Beautifull, and that his neighbours told him the young Prince had allured her to folly, he went therefore now to complaine to the King how greatly he was abused.
Capnio (who straight way smelt the whole matter) began to sooth him in his talke, and said, that Dorastus dealt not like a Prince to spoyle any poore mans daughter in that sort: he therefore would do the best for him he could, because he knew he was an honest man. But (quoth Capnio) you lose your labour in going to the Pallace, for the King meanes this day to take the aire of the sea, and to go aboord of a ship that lyes in the n, I am going before, you see, to prouide all things in a redinesse, and if you will follow my counsell, turne back with me to the hauen, where I will set you in such a fit place as you may speake to the King at your pleasure. Porrus giuing credit to Capnios smooth tale, gave him a thousand thanks for his friendly aduise, and went with him to the hauen, making all the way his complaints of Dorastus, yet concealing secretly the chaine and the iewels. Assone as they were come to the sea side, the marriners seeing Capnio, came a land with their cocke-boate, who stil dissembling the matter, demanded of Porrus if he would go see the ship, who vnwilling and fearing the worst, because he was not well acquainted with Capnio made his excuse that he could not brooke the Sea, therefore would not trouble him.
Capnio, seeing that by faire meanes he could not get him aboord, commanded the mariners that by violence they should carrie him into the shippe, who like sturdy knaves hoisted the poore shepheard on their backs, and bearing him to the boate, lanched from the land.
Porrus seeing himselfe so cunningly betrayed, durst not crie out, for hee saw it would not prevaile, but began to intreate Capnio and the mariners to be good to him, and to pittie his estate, he was but a poore man that liued by his labour: they laughing to see the shepheard so afrayde, made as much haste as they could, and set him aboord. Porrus was no sooner in the ship, but hee sawe Dorastus walking with Fawnia, yet hee scarse knew hir: for she had attired herselfe in rich apparell, which so increased her beautie, that she resembled rather an Angell than a creature.
Dorastus and Fawnia, were halfe astonished to see the olde shepheard, maruelling greatly what winde had brought him thither, til Capnio told them all the whole discourse: how Porrus was going to make his complaint to the King, if by pollicie he had not preuented him, and therefore now sith he was aboord, for the avoyding of further danger it were best to carrie him into Italie.
Dorastus praised greatly his mans deuise, and allowed of his counsaile: but Fawnia, (who still feared Porrus, as her father) began to blush for shame, that by her meanes hee should either incure daunger or displeasure.
The old shepherd hearing this hard sentence, that he should on such a sodaine bee caried from his wife, his countrey, and kinsfolke, into a forraine land amongest straungers, began with bitter teares to make his complaint, and on his knees to intreate Dorastus, that pardoning his vnaduised follie he would give him leaue to go home: swearing that hee would keepe all things as secret as they could wish. But these protestations could not preuaile, although Fawnia intreated Dorastus verie earnestly, but the mariners hoisting their maine sailes weyed ankers, and hailed into the deepe, where we leaue them to the fauor of the wind and seas, and returne to Egistus.
Who hauing appointed this day to hunt in one of his Forrests called for his Sonne Dorastus to go sport himselfe, because he saw that of late hee began to lowre: but his men made answere that hee was gone abroad none knewe whither, except he were gone to the groue to walke all alone, as his custome was to doe euery day.
The King willing to waken him out of his dumpes, sent one of his men to goe seeke him, but in vaine, for at last he returned, but finde him he could not, so that the king went himselfe to goe see the sport: where passing away the day, returning at night from hunting, hee asked for his sonne, but he could not be heard of, which drave the king into a great choler: whereupon most of his noble men and other courtiers, posted abroad to seeke him, but they could not heare of him through all Sicilia, onely they missed Capnio his man, which againe made the king suspect that hee was not gone farre.
Two or three dayes being passed, and no newes heard of Dorastus, Egistus began to feare that he was deuoured with some wilde beastes, and vpon that made out a great troupe of men to goe seeke him: who coasted through all the Countrey, and searched in euery daungerous and secret place, vntill at last they met with a Fisherman that was sitting in a little couert hard by the sea side mending his nettes, when Dorastus and Fawnia tooke shipping: who being examined if he either knewe or heard where the Kings sonne was, without any secrecie at all reuealed the whole matter, how he was sayled two daies past, and had in his company his man Capnio, Porrus and his faire Daughter Fawnia. This heauie newes was presently caried to the king, who halfe dead for sorrow commaunded Porrus wife to be sent for: she being come to the Pallace, after due examination, confessed that her neighbours had oft tolde her that the kings sonne was too familier with Fawnia her daughter: wherenpon her husband fearing the worst, about two dayes past (hearing the King should goe an hunting) rose earely in the morning and went to make his complaint, but since she neither heard of him, nor saw him. Egistus perceyuing the womans vnfeigned simplicitie, let her depart without incurring further displeasure, conceiving such secret greife for his Sonnes recklesse follie, that he had so forgotten his honour and parentage, by so base a choise to dishonor his father, and discredit himselfe, that with very care and thought he fell into a quartan feuer, which was so vnfit for his aged yeares and complexion, that he became so weake, as the Phisitions would graunt him no life.
But his sonne Dorastus little regarded either father, country: or kingdome, in respect of his Lady Fawnia, for fortune smyling on his young nouice, lent him so luckie a gale of wind, for the space of a day and a night, that the Mariners lay and slept vpon the hatches: but on the next morning about the breake of the day, the aire began to be ouercast, the winds to rise, the seas to swell, yea presently there arose such a fearfull tempest, as the ship was in danger to be swallowed vp with euery sea, the maine mast with the violence of the wind was thrown ouer boord, the sayles were torne, the tackling went in sunder, the storme raging still so furiously that poore Fawnia was almost dead for feare, but that she was greatly comforted with the presence of Dorastus. The tempest continued three dayes, all which time the Mariners euery minute looked for death, and the aire was so darkned with cloudes that the Maister could not tell by his compasse in what coast they were. But vpon the fourth day about ten of the clocke, the wind began to cease, the sea to wax calme, and the sky to be cleare, and the Mariners descryed the coast of Bohemia, shooting of their ordinance for ioy that they had escaped such a fearefull tempest.
Dorastus hearing that they were arrived at some harbour, sweetly kissed Fawnia, and bad her be of good cheare: when they told him that the Port belonged vnto the cheife Cittie of Bohemia where Pandosto kept his Court, Dorastus began to be sad: knowing that his Father hated no man so much as Pandosto, and that the king himselfe had sought secretly to betray Egistus: this considered, he was halfe afrayd to go on land, but that Capnio counselled him to chaunge his name and his country, vntill such time as they could get some other Barke to transport them into Italy. Dorastus liking this devise made his case privie to the Marriners, rewarding them bountifully for their paynes, and charging them to say that he was a Gentleman of Trapalonia called Meleagrus. The shipman willing to shew what friendship they could to Dorastus, promised to be as secret as they could, or hee might wish, and vpon this they landed in a little Village a mile distant from the Citie, where after they had rested a day, thinking to make provision for their mariage the fame of Fawnias beautie was spread throughout all the Citie, so that came to the ears of Pandosto: who then being about the age of fiftie, had notwithstanding yong and fresh affections: so that he desired greatly to see Fawnia, and to bring this matter the better to passe, hearing they had but one man, and how they rested at a very homely house: he caused them to be apprehended as spies, and sent a dozen of his guard to take them: who being come to their lodging, tolde them the kings message. Dorastus no whit dismaied, accompanied with Fawnia and Capnio, went to the court (for they left Porrus to keepe the stuffe) who being admitted to the kings presence, Dorastus and Fawnia with humble obeysance saluted his Majestie.
Pandosto amazed at the singular perfection of Fawnia, stood half astonished, viewing her beautie, so that he had almost forgot himselfe what he had to doe: at last with stearne countenance he demaunded their names, and of what countrey they were, and what caused them to land in Bohemia. Sir (quoth Dorastus) know that my name Meleagrus is a Knight borne and brought vp in Trapalonia, and this Gentlewoman, whom I meane to take to my wife is an Italian borne in Padua, from whence I haue now brought her. The cause I so small a traine with me, is for that her friends vnwilling to consent, I intended secretly to conuey her into Trapalonia: whether as I was sayling, by distresse of weather I was driuen into these coasts: thus haue you heard my name, my country, and the cause of my voyage. Pandosto starting from his seat as one in choller made this rough reply.
Meleagrus, I feare this smooth tale hath but small trueth, and that thou couerest a foule skin with faire paintings. No doubt this Ladie by her grace and beautie is of hier degree more meete for a mightie Prince, than for a simple knight, and thou like a periured traitor hath bereft her of her parents, to their present griefe, and her insuing sorrow. Till therefore I heare more of her parentage and of thy calling, I wil stay you both here in Bohemia.
Dorastus, in whome rested nothing but kingly valour, was not able to suffer the reproches of Pandosto, but that he made him this answer.
It is not meete for a king, without due proofe to appeach any man of ill behauiour, nor vpon suspition to inferre beleefe: straungers ought to be entertained with curtesie: not to be intreated with crueltie, least beeing forced by want to put vp injuries the gods reuenge their cause with rigor.
Pandosto hearing Dorastus vtter these wordes, commaunded that he should straight be committed to prison, vntill such time as they heard further of his pleasure, but as for Fawnia, he charged that she should be entertained in the Court, with such curtesie as belonged to a straunger and her calling. The rest of the shipmen he put into the Dungeon.
Hauing thus hardly handled the supposed Trapalonians: Pandosto contrarie to his aged yeares began to bee somewhat tickled with the beautie of Fawnia, insomuch that he could take no rest, but cast in his old head a thousand new devises: at last he fell into these thoughtes.
How art thou pestred Pandosto with fresh affections, and vnfit fancies, wishing to possesse with an vnwilling minde, and a hote desire troubled with a cold disdaine? Shall thy minde yeelde in age to that thou hast resisted in youth? Peace Pandosto, blabbe not out that which thou mayest bee ashamed to reueale to thy selfe. Ah Fawnia is beautifull, and it is not for thine honour (fond foole) to name her that is thy captive, and another mans concubine. Alas, I reach at that with my hande which my hart would faine refuse: playing like the bird Ibis in Egypt, which hateth Serpents, yet feedeth on her egges.
Tush hote desires turne oftentimes to colde disdaine: Loue is brittle, where appetite, not reason beares the sway: Kings thoughts ought not to climbe so high as the heauens, but to looke no lower then honour: better it is to pecke at the starres with the young Eagles, than to prey on dead carkasses with the Vulture: tis more honourable for Pandosto to die by concealing Loue, then to enioy such vnfit Loue. Doth Pandosto then loue: Yea: Whome: A maid vnknowne, yea and perhappes, immodest, stragled out of her owne country: beautifull, but not therefore chaste: comely in body, but perhappes crooked in minde. Cease then Pandosto to looke at Fawnia, much lesse to loue her: be not overtaken with a womans beautie, whose eies are framed by art to inamour, whose hearte is framed by nature to inchaunt, whose false teares knowe their true times, and whose sweete wordes pearce deeper then sharpe swords. Here Pandosto from his talke, but not from his loue: for although he sought by reason, and wisedome to suppresse this franticke affection: yet he could take no rest, the beauty of Fawnia had made such a deepe impression in his heart. But on a day walking abroad into a Parke which was hard adjoyning to his house, he sent by one of his seruants for Fawnia, vnto whom he vttered these words.
Fawnia, I commend thy beautie and wit, and now pitie thy distresse and want: but if thou wilt forsake Sir Meliagrus, whose pouertie, though a Knight, is not able to maintaine an estate aunswerable to thy beautie, and yeelde thy consent to Pandosto, I will both increase thee with dignities and riches. No sir, answered Fawnia: Meliagrus is a knight that hath wonne me by loue, and none but hee shall weare me: his sinister mischance shall not diminish my affection, but rather increase my good will: thinke not though your Grace hath imprisoned him without cause, that feare shall make me yeeld my consent: I had rather be Meliagrus wife, and a beggar, then liue in plentie, and be Pandostos Concubine.
Pandosto, hearing the assured aunswere of Fawnia, woulde, notwithstanding, prosecute his suit to the vttermost: seeking with faire wordes and great promises to scale the fort of her chastitie, swearing that if she would graunt to his desire, Meleagrus should not only be set at libertie, but honored in his courte amongst his Nobles: but these alluring baytes could not intise her minde from the loue of her new betrothed mate Meleagrus: which Pandosto seeing, he left her alone for that time to consider more of the demaund. Fawnia being alone by her selfe, began to enter into these solitarie meditations.
Ah, infortunate Fawnia, thou seest to desire aboue fortune, is to striue against the Gods and fortune. Who gazeth at the sunne weakeneth his sight: they which stare at the sky, fall oft into deepe pits: haddest thou rested content to beene a shepheard, thou neededst not to haue feared mischance: better had it beene for thee, by sitting low, to haue had quiet, then by climing high to haue fallen into miserie. But alas I feare not mine owne daunger, but Dorastus displeasure. Ah sweete Dorastus, thou art a Prince, but now a prisoner, by too much loue, procuring thine owne losse: haddest thou not loued Fawnia thou haddest bine fortunate, shall I then be false to him that hath forsaken kingdomes for my cause, no, woulde my death might deliuer him, so mine honour might be preserved. With that, fetching a deepe sigh, she ceased from her complaints, and went againe to the Palace, inioyning a liberty without content, and profered pleasure with smal ioy. But poore Dorastus lay all this while in close prison, being pinched with a hard restraint, and pained with the burden of colde, and heauy irons, sorrowing sometimes that his fond affection had procured him this mishap, that by the disobedience of his parentes, he had wrought his owne despight: an other while cursing the Gods, and fortune, that they should crosse him with such sinister chance: vttering at last his passions in these words.
Ah vnfortunate wretch borne to mishappe, nowe thy follie hath his desert: Art thou not worthy for thy base minde to haue bad fortune: could the destinies fauour thee, which hast forgot thine honor and dignities: wil not the Gods plague him with despight that payneth his father with disobedience. Oh Gods, if any fauour or iustice be left, plague me, but fauour poore Fawnia, and shrowd her from the tirannies of wretched Pandosto, but let my death free her from mishap, and then welcome death: Dorastus payned with these heavie passions, sorrowed and sighed, but in vayne, for which hee vsed the more patience. But againe to Pandosto, who broyling at the heat of vnlawfull lust coulde take no rest but still felt his minde disquieted with his new loue, so that his nobles and subiects maruelled greatly at this sodaine alteration, not beeing able to coniecture the cause of this his continued care: Pandosto thinking euery hour a yere till he had talked once againe with Fawnia, sent for her secretly into his chamber, whither though Fawnia vnwillingly comming, Pandosto entertained her very courteously vsing these familiar speeches, which Fawnia answered as shortly in this wise.
Fawnia, are you become lesse wilfull and more wise, to preferre the loue of a king before the liking of a poore knight: I thinke ere this you thinke it is better to be fauoured of a king then of a subiect.
Pandosto, the body is subject to victories, but the mind not to be subdued by conquest, honesty is to be preferred before honour, and a dramme of faith weigheth downe a tun of gold. I promised Meleagrus to loue, and will performe no lesse.
Fawnia, I know thou art not so vnwise in thy choice, as to refuse the offer of a king, nor so ingratefull as to dispise a good turne: thou art now in that place where I may commaund, and yet thou seest I intreate, my power is such as I may compell by force, and yet I sue by prayers: yeeld Fawnia thy loue to him which burneth in thy loue, Meleagrus shall be set free, thy countrymen discharged, and thou both loued and honoured.
I see, Pandosto, where lust ruleth it is a miserable thing to be a virgin, but know this, that I will alwaies preferre fame before life, and rather choose death then dishonour.
Pandosto seeing that there was in Fawnia a determinate courage to loue Meleagrus, and a resolution without feare to hate him fleeing away from her in a rage: swearing if in short time she would not be wonne by reason: he would forget all courtesie, and compel her to grant by rigour: but these threatning words no whit dismayed Fawnia: but that she still both despighted and despised Pandosto. While thus these two louers stroue, the one to winne loue, the other to liue in hate: Egistus heard certaine newes by marchauts of Bohemia, that his son Dorastus was imprisoned by Pandosto, which made him feare greatly that his sonne should be but hardly intreated: yet considering that Bellaria and hee was cleared by the Oracle of Apollo from that crime wherewith Pandosto had vniustly charged them, he thought best to send with all speede to Pandosto, that he should set free his sonne Dorastus, and put to death Fawnia and her father Porrus: finding this by the aduise of counsaile the speediest remedy to release his son, he caused presently two of his ships to be rigged and thoroughly furnished with prouision of men and victuals, and sent diuers of his nobles, embassadores into Bohemia: who willing to obey their king, and recieue their yong prince: made no delayes, for feare of danger, but with as much speed as might be, sailed towards Bohemia: the winde and seas fauoured them greatly, which made them hope of some good happe, for within three dayes they were landed: which Pandosto no sooner heard of their arrivall, but he in person went to meete them, intreating them with such sumptuous and familiar curtesie, that they might well perceiue how sory hee was for the former iniuries he had offered to their king, and how willing (if it might be) to make amends. As Pandosto made report to them, how one Meleagrus a knight of Trapolonia was lately ariued with a lady called Fawnia in his land, comming very suspitiously, accompanied onely with one seruant, and an old shepheard. The embassadours perceiued by the halfe, what the whole tale meant, and began to coniecture, that it was Dorastus, who for feare to bee knowen, had changedæhis name: but dissembling the matter, they shortly arriued at the court, where after they had bin very solemnely and sumptuously feasted, the noblemen of Sicilia being gathered togither, they made reporte of their embassage: where they certified Pandosto that Meleagrus was sonne and heire to the king Egistus, and that his name was Dorastus: how contrarie to the kings minde hee had priuily conueied away that Fawnia, intending to marry her, being but daughter to that poore shepheard Porrus: whereupon the Kings request was, that Capnio, Fawnia, and Porrus might be murthered and put to death and that his sonne Dorastus might bee sent home in safetie. Pandosto hauing attentively and with great marvelle heard their Embassage, willing to reconcile himselfe to Egistus, and to shew him how greatly he esteemed his labor: although loue and fancy forbad him to hurt Fawnia, yet in despite of loue he determined to execute Egistus will without mercy, and therefore he presently sent for Dorastus out of prison, who marvelling at his vnlooked for curtesie, found at his comming to the kings presence, that which he least doubted of, his fathers Embassadours: who no sooner saw him, but with great reuerence they honored him: and Pandosto embracing Dorastus, set him by him very louingly in a chaire of estate. Dorastus ashamed that his folly was bewrayed, sate a long time as one in a muse, till Pandosto told him the summe of his fathers embassage: which he had no sooner heard, but he was toucht at the quicke, for the cruell sentence that was pronounced against Fawnia: but neither could his sorrow nor perswasions preuaile, for Pandosto commaunded that Fawnia, Porrus, and Capnio, shoulde bee brought to his presence: who were no sooner come, but Pandosto hauing his former loue turned to a disdainfull hate, began to rage against Fawnia in these termes.
Thou disdainfull vassall, thou currish kite, assigned by the destinies to base fortune, and yet with an aspiring minde gazing after honor: how durst thou presume, being a beggar, to match with a Prince: By thy alluring lookes to inchant the sonne of a King to leaue his owne countrie to fulfill thy disordinate lusts. O despitefull minde, a proud heart in a beggar is not vnlike to a great fire in a small cottage, which warmeth not the house, but burneth it: assure thy self thou shalt die, and thou olde doating foole, whose folly hath bin such, as to suffer thy daughter to reach aboue thy fortune, looke for no other meede, but the like punishment. But Capnio, thou which hast betrayed the king, and has consented to the vnlawfull lust of thy lord and master, I knowe not how iustly I may plague thee: death is too easie a punishment for thy falsehoode, and to liue (if not in extreme miserie) were not to shew thee equitie. I therefore award that thou shalt thine eies put out, and continually till thou diest, grinde in a mill like a brute beast. The feare of death brought a sorrowfull silence vpon Fawnia and Capnio, but Porrus seeing no hope of life, burst forth into these speeches.
Pandosto, and yee noble embassadours of Sycilia, seeing without cause I am condemned to die: I am yet glad I haue opportunitie to disburden my conscience before my death: I will tell you as much as I know, and yet no more than is true: whereas I am accused that I bin a supporter of Fawnias pride, and she disdained as a vile beggar, so it is that I am neither father vnto her, nor she daughter vnto me.
For so it hapned that I being a poore sheepherd in Sycilia, living by keeping other mens flockes: one of my sheepe straying downe to the sea side, as I went to seeke her, I saw a little boate driven vpon the shoare, wherein I found a babe of sixe daies old, wrapped in a mantle of scarlet, hauing about the necke this chaine: I pittying the child, and desirous of the treasure, carried it home to my wife, who with great care nursed it vp, and set it to keepe sheep. Here is the chaine and the iewels, and this Fawnia is the child whom I found in the boat. What she is, or of what parentage, I know not, but this I am assured of that she is none of mine.
Pandosto would scarce suffer him to tell out his tale, but that he required the time of the yeere, the manner of the boat, and other circumstances, which when he found agreeing to his count, he suddenly leapt from his seate, and kissed Fawnia, wetting her tender cheeks with his tears, and crying my daughter Fawnia, ah sweete Fawnia, I am thy father, Fawnia. This sodaine passion of the king draue them all into a maze, especially Fawnia and Dorastus. But when the king had breathed himselfe a while in this new ioy, he rehearsed before the Embassadours the whole matter, how hee hadde intreated his wife Bellaria for iealousie, and that this was the child whome hee sent to floate in the seas.
Fawnia was not more ioyfull that she had found such a father, then Dorastus was glad he should get such a wife. The Embassadors reioyced that their yong Prince had made such a choice, that those kingdoms which through enmitie had long time bene disseuered, should now through perpetuall amitie be vnited and reconciled. The Citizens and subiects of Bohemia (hearing that the King had found againe his daughter, which was supposed dead, ioyfull that there was an heire apparant to their kingdome) made bonfires and shows throughout the Citie: The Courtiers and Knights appointed Justs and Turneyes to signifie their willing minds in gratifying the Kings hap.
Eighteene dayes being past in these princely sports, Pandosto willing to recompence old Porrus, of a shepheard made him a Knight: which done, prouiding a sufficient Nauie to receiue him and his retinue, accompanied with Dorastus, Fawnia, and the Sicilian Embassadours, he sailed towards Sicilia, where he was most princely entertained by Egistus: who hearing this comicall euent, reioyced greatly at his sonnes good hap, and without delay (to the perpetuall ioy of the two yong louers) celebrated the marriage: which was no sooner ended, but Pandosto (calling to mind how first he betrayed his friend Egistus, how his iealousie was the cause of Bellarias death, that contrarie to the lawe of nature hee had lusted after his owne daughter) moued with these desperat thoughts, he fell into a melancholie fit, and to close vp the Comedie with a Tragicall stratageme, he slue him selfe, whose death being many daies bewailed of Fawnia, Dorastus, and his deere friend Egistus, Dorastus taking his leaue of his father, went with his wife and the dead corps into Bohemia, where after they were sumptuously intoombed, Dorastus ended his dayes in contented quiet.