Wherein All The Severall Descourses, Are Under The Government Of Honourable Philstratus: And Concerning Such Persons, Whose Loves Have Had Successelesse Ending.
Most worthy Ladies, I have alwayes heard, as well by the sayings of the judecious, as also by mine owne observation and reading, that the impetuous and violent windes of envy, do sildome blow turbulently, but on the highest Towers and tops of the trees most eminently advanced. Yet (in mine opinion) I have found my selfe much deceived; because, by striving with my very uttermost endeavour, to shunne the outrage of those implacable winds; I have laboured to go, not onely by plaine and even pathes but likewise through the deepest vallies. As very easily may be seene and observed in the reading of these few small Novels, which I have written not only in our vulgar Florentine prose, without any ambitious title: but also in a most humble stile, so low and gentle as possibly I could. And although I have bene rudely shaken, yea, almost halfe unrooted, by the extreame agitation of those blustering winds, and torne in peeces by that base back-biter, Envy: yet have I not (for all that) discontinued, or broken any part of mine intended enterprize. Wherefore, I can sufficiently witnesse (by mine owne comprehension) the saying so much observed by the wise, to be most true: That nothing is without Envy in this world, but misery onely.
But what shall I say to them, who take so great compassion on my povertie, as they advise me to get some thing, whereon to make my living? Assuredly, I know not what to say in this case, except by due consideration made with my selfe, how they would answer me, if necessitie should drive me to crave kindnesse of them; questionlesse, they would then say: Goe, seeke comfort among thy fables and follies.
But now it is time (bright beauties) to returne whence we parted, and to follow our former order begun, because it may seeme we have wandered too farre. By this time the Sun had chased the Starre-light from the heavens, and the shadie moisture from the ground, when Philostratus the King being risen, all the company arose likewise. When being come into the goodly Garden, they spent the time in varietie of sports, dining where they had supt the night before. And after that the Sunne was at his highest, and they had refreshed their spirits with a little slumbering, they sate downe (according to custome) about the faire Fountaine. And then the King commanded Madam Fiammettal that she should give beginning to the dayes Novels: when she, without any longer delaying, began:[Hide Induction]
Our King (most Noble and vertuous Ladies) hath this day given us a subject, very rough and stearne to discourse on, and so much the rather, if we consider, that we are come hither to be merry and pleasant, where sad Tragicall reports are no way suteable, especially, by reviving the teares of others, to bedew our owne cheekes withall. Nor can any such argument be spoken of, without moving compassion both in the reporters, and hearers. But (perhaps) it was his Highnesse pleasure, to moderate the delights which we have already had. Or whatsoever else hath provoked him thereto, seeing it is not lawfull for me, to alter or contradict his appointment; I will recount an accident very pittifull, or rather most unfortinate, and well worthy to be graced with bur teares.
Tancrede, Prince of Salerne (which City, before the Consulles of Rome held dominion in that part of Italy, stoode free, and thence (perchance) tooke the moderne title of a Principality was a very humane Lord, and of ingenious nature; if, in his elder yeeres, he had not soiled his hands in the blood of Lovers, especially one of them, being both neere and deere unto him. So it fortuned, that during the whole life time of this Prince, he had but one onely daughter (albeit it had beene much better, if he had had at all) whom he so choisely loved and esteemed, as never was any childe more deerely affected of a Father: and so farre extended his over-curious respect of her, as he would seldome admit her to be forth of his sight; neither would he suffer her to marry, although she had outstept (by divers yeeres) the age meete for marriage.
Neverthelesse, at length, he matched her with the Sonne to the Duke of Capua, who lived no long while with her; but left her in a widdowed estate, and then she returned home to her father againe.
This Lady, had all the most absolute perfections, both of favour and feature, as could be wished in any woman, young, queintly disposed, and of admirable understanding, more (perhappes) then was requisite in so weake a body. Continuing thus in Court with the King her Father, who loved her beyond all his future hopes; like a Lady of great and glorious magnificence, she lived in all delights and pleasure. She well perceiving, that her Father thus exceeding in his affection to her, had no minde at all of re-marrying her, and holding it most immodest in her, to solicite him with any such suite: concluded in her mindes private consultations, to make choise of some one especiall friend or favourite (if Fortune would prove so furtherous to her) whom she might acquaint secretly, with her sober, honest, and familiar purposes. Her Fathers Court being much frequented, with plentifull accesse of brave Gentlemen, and others of inferiour quality, as commonly the Courts of Kings and Princes are, whose carriage and demeanor she very heedfully observed. There was a young Gentleman among all the rest, a servant to her Father, and named Cuiscardo, a man not derived from any great descent by blood, yet much more Noble by vertue and commandable behaviour, then appeared in any of the other, none pleased her opinion, like as he did; so that by often noting his parts and perfections, her affections being but a glowing sparke at first, grew like a Bavin to take Rame, yet kept so closely as possibly she could; as Ladies are warie enough in their love.
The young Gentleman, though poore, being neither blocke nor dullard, perceived what he made no outward shew of, and understood himselfe so sufficiently, that holding it no meane happinesse to be affected by her, he thought it very base and cowardly in him, if he should not expresse the like to her againe. So loving mutually (yet secretly) in this maner, and she coveting nothing more, then to have private conference with him, yet not daring to trust any one with so important a matter; at length she devised a new cunning stratageme, to compasse her longing desire, and acquaint him with her private purpose, which proved to be in this manner. She wrote a Letter, concerning what was the next day to be done, for their secret meeting together; and conveying it within the joynt of an hollow Cane, in jesting manner threw it to Guiscardo, saying; Let your man make use of this, insteed of a paire of bellowes, when he meaneth to make fire in your Chamber. Guiscardo taking up the Cane, and considering with himselfe, that neither was it given, or the wordes thus spoken, but doubtlesse on some important occasion: went unto his lodging with the Cane, where viewing it respectively, he found it to be cleft, and opening it with his knife, found there the written Letter enclosed.
After he had reade it, and well considered on the service therein concerned; he was the most joyfull man of the world, and began to contrive his aptest meanes, for meeting with his gracious Mistresse, and according as she had given him direction. In a corner of the Kings Palace, it being seated on a rising hill, a cave had long beene made in the body of the same hill, which received no light into it, but by a small spiracle or vent-loope, made out ingeniously on the hils side. And because it had not beene a long time frequented, by the accesse of any body, that vent-light was over-growne with briars and bushes, which almost engirt it round about. No one could descend into this cave or vault, but only by a secret paire of staires, answering to a lower Chamber of the Palace, and very neere to the Princesse lodging, as being altogether at her command, by meanes of a strong barred and defensible doore, whereby to mount or descend at her pleasure. And both the cave it selfe, as also the degrees conducting downe into it, were now so quite worne out of memory (in regard it had not beene visited by any one in long time before) as no man remembred that there was any such thing.
But Love, from whose bright discerning eies, nothing can be so closely concealed, but at the length it commeth to light, had made this amorous Lady mindefull thereof, and because she would not be discovered in her intention, many dayes together, her soule became perplexed; by what meanes that strong doore might best be opened, before she could compasse to performe it. But after that she had found out the way, and gone downe her selfe alone into the cave; observing the loope-light and had made it commodious for her purpose, she gave knowledge thereof to Guiscardo, to have him devise an apt course for his descent, acquainting him truly with the height, and how farre it was distant from the ground within. After he had found the souspirall in the hils side, and given it a larger entrance for his safer passage; he provided a Ladder of cords, with steppes sufficient for his descending and ascending, as also a wearing sute made of leather, to keepe his skinne unscrached of the thornes, and to avoyde all suspition of his resorting thither. In this manner went he to the saide loope-hole the night following, and having fastened the one end of his corded ladder, to the strong stumpe of a tree being by it; by meanes of the saide ladder, descended downe into the cave, and there attended the comming of his Lady.
She, on the morrow morning, pretending to her waiting woman, that she was scarsly well, and therefore would not be diseased the most part of that day; commanded them to leave her alone in her Chamber, and not to returne untill she called for them, locking the doore her selfe for better security. Then opened she the doore of the cave, and going downe the staires, found there her amorous friend Guiscardo, whom she saluting with a chaste and modest kisse; causing him to ascend up the stayres with her into her Chamber. This long desired, and now obtained meeting, caused the two deerely affected Lovers, in kinde discourse of amorous argument (without incivill or rude demeanor) to spend there the most part of that day, to their hearts joy and mutuall contentment. And having concluded on their often meeting there, in this cunning and concealed sort; Guiscardo went downe into the cave againe, the Princesse making the doore fast after him, and then went forth among her Women. So in the night season, Guiscardo ascended up againe by his Ladder of cords, and covering the loopehole with brambles and bushes, returned (unseene of any) to his owne lodging: the cave being afterward guilty of their often meeting there in this manner.
But Fortune, who hath alwayes bin a fatall enemy to lovers stolne felicities, became envious of their thus secret meeting, and overthrew (in an instant) all their poore happinesse, by an accident most spightfull and malicious. The King had used divers dayes before, after dinner time, to resort all alone to his daughters Chamber, there conversing with her in most loving manner. One unhappy day amongst the rest, when the Princesse, being named Ghismonda, was sporting in her private Garden among her Ladies, the King (at his wonted time) went to his daughters Chamber, being neither heard or seene by any. Nor would he have his daughter called from her pleasure, but finding the windowes fast shut, and the Curtaines close drawne about the bed; he sate downe in a chaire behind it, and leaning his head upon the bed, his body being covered with the curtaine, as if he hid himselfe purposely; he mused on so many matters, at last he fell fast asleepe.
It hath bin observed as an ancient Adage, that when disasters are ordained to any one, commonly they prove to be inevitable, as poore Ghismonda could witnesse too well. For while the King thus slept, she having (unluckily) appointed another meeting with Guiscardo, left hir Gentlewomen in the Garden, and stealing softly into her Chamber, having made all fast and sure, for being descried by any person: opened the doore to Guiscardo, who stood there ready on the staire-head, awaiting his entrance; and they sitting downe on the bed side (according as they were wont to do) began their usuall kinde of conference againe, with sighes and loving kisses mingled among them. It chanced that the King awaked, and both hearing and seeing this familiarity of Guiscardo with his Daughter, he became extreamly confounded with greefe thereat. Once he intended, to cry out for have them both there apprehended; but he helde it a part of greater wisedome, to sit silent still, and (if he could) to keepe himselfe so closely concealed: to the end, that he might the more secretly, and with farre lesse disgrace to himselfe, performe what he had rashly intended to do.
The poore discovered Lovers, having ended their amorous interparlance, without suspition of the Kings being so neere in person, or any else, to betray their overconfident trust; Guiscardo descended againe into the Cave, and she leaving the Chamber, returned to her women in the Garden; all which Tancrede too well observed, and in a rapture of fury, departed (unseene) into his owne lodging. The same night, about the houre of mens first sleepe, and according as he had given order; Guiscardo was apprehended, even as he was comming forth of the loope-hole, and in his homely leather habite. Very closely was he brought before the King, whose heart was swolne so great with griefe, as hardly was he able to speake: notwithstanding, at the last he began thus. Guiscardo . cardo, the love and respect I have used towards thee, hath not deserved the shamefull wrong which thou hast requited me withall, and as I have seene with mine owne eyes this day. Whereto Guiscardo could answer nothing else, but onely this: Alas my Lord! Love is able to do much more, then either you, or I. Whereupon, Tancrede commanded, that he should be secretly well guarded, in a neere adjoyning Chamber, and on the next day, Ghismonda having (as yet) heard nothing hereof, the Kings braine being infinitely busied and troubled, after dinner, and as he often had used to do: he went to his daughters Chamber, where calling for her, and shutting the doores closely to them, the teares trickling downe his aged white beard, thus he spake to her.
Ghismonda, I was once grounded in a setled perswasion, that I truely knew thy vertue, and honest integrity of life; and this beleefe could never have beene altred in mee, by any sinister reports whatsoever, had not mine eyes seene, and mine eares heard the contrary. Nor did I so much as conceive a thought either of thine affection, or private conversing with any man, but onely he that was to be thy husband. But now, I my selfe being able to avouch thy folly, imagine what an heart-breake this will be to me, so long as life remaineth in this poore, weake, and aged body. Yet, if needes thou must have yeelded to this wanton weaknesse, I would thou hadst made choise of a man, answerable to thy birth and Nobility: whereas on the contrary, among so many worthy spirits as resort to my Court, thou likest best to converse with that silly young man Guiscardo, one of very meane and base descent, and by me (even for Gods sake?
from his very youngest yeares, brought up to this instant in my Court; wherein thou hast given me much affliction of minde, and so overthrowne my senses, as I cannot well imagine how I should deale with thee. For him, whom I have this night caused to be surprized, even as he came forth of your close contrived conveyance, and detaine as my prisoner, I have resolved how to proceed with him: but concerning thy selfe, mine oppressions are so many and violent, as I know not what to say of thee. e. way, thou hast meerly murthered the unfeigned affection I bare thee, as never any father could expresse more to his childe: and then againe, thou hast kindled a most just indignation in me, by thine immodest and wilfull folly, and whereas Nature pleadeth pardon for the one, yet justice standeth up against the other, and urgeth cruell severity against thee: neverthelesse, before I will determine upon any resolution, I come purposely first to heare thee speake, and what thou canst say for thy selfe, in a bad case, so desperate and dangerous.
Having thus spoken, he hung downe the head in his bosome, weeping as aboundantly, as if he had beene a childe severely disciplinde. On the other side, Ghismonda hearing the speeches of her Father, and perceiving withall, that not onely her secret love was discovered, but also Guiscardo was in close prison, the matter which most of all did torment her; she fell into a very strange kinde of extasie, scorning teares, and entreating tearmes, such as feminine frailety are alwayes aptest unto: but rather, with height of courage, controuling feare or servile basenesse, and declaring invincible fortitude in her very lookes, she concluded with her selfe, rather then to urge any humble perswasions, she would lay her life downe at the stake. For plainely she perceived, that Guiscardo already was a dead man in Law, and death was likewise welcome to her, rather then the deprivation of her Love; and therefore, not like a weeping woman, or as checkt by the offence committed, but carelesse of any harme happening to her: stoutely and couragiously, not a teare appearing in her eye, or her soule any way to be perturbed, thus she spake to her Father.
Tancrede, to denie what I have done, or to entreate any favour from you, is now no part of my disposition: for as the one can little availe me, so shall not the other any way advantage me. Moreover, I covet not that you should extend any clemency or kindnesse to me, but by my voluntary confession of the truth do intend (first of all) to defend mine honour, with reasons sound, good, and substantiall, and then vertuously pursue to full effect, the greatnesse of my minde and constant resolution. True it is, that I have loved, and still do, honourable Guiscardo, purposing the like so long as I shall live, which will be but a small while: but if it be possible to continue the same affection after death, it is for ever vowed to him onely. Nor did mine owne womanish weaknesse so much thereto induce me, as the matchlesse vertues shining clearly in Guiscardo, and the little respect you had of marrying me againe. Why royall Father, you cannot be ignorant, that you being composed of flesh and blood, have begotten a Daughter of the selfe same composition, and not made of stone or iron. Moreover, you ought to remember (although now you are farre stept in yeeres) what the Lawes of youth are, and with what difficulty they are to be contradicted. Considering withall, that albeit (during the vigour of your best time) you evermore were exercised in Armes; yet you should likewise understand, that negligence and idle delights, have mighty power, not onely in young people, but also in them of greatest yeares.
I being then made of flesh and blood, and so derived from your selfe; having had also so little benefit of life, that I am yet in the spring, and blooming time of my blood: by either of these reasons, I must needs be subject to naturall desires, wherein such knowledge as I have once already had, in the estate of my marriage, perhaps might move a further intelligence of the like delights, according to the better ability of strength, which exceeding all capacity of resistance, induced a second motive to affection, answerable to my time and youthfull desires, and so (like a yong woman) I became came againe; yet did I strive, even with all my utmost might, and best vertuous faculties abiding in me, no way to disgrace either you or my selfe, as (in equall censure) yet have I not done. But Nature is above all humane power, and Love commanded by Nature, hath prevailed for Love, joyning with Fortune: in meere pitty and commiseration of my extreame wrong, I found them both most benigne and gracious, teaching mee a way secret enough, whereby I might reach the height of my desires, howsoever you became instructed, or (perhaps) found it out by accident; so it was, and I deny it not.
Nor did I make election of Guiscardo by chance, or rashly, as many women doe, but by deliberate counsell in my soule, and most mature advise; I chose him above all other, and having his honest harmelesse conversation, mutually we enjoyed our hearts contentment. Now it appeareth, that I have not offended but by love; in imitation of vulgar opinion, rather then truth: you seeke to reprove me bitterly, alleaging no other maine argument for your anger, but onely my not choosing a Gentleman, or one more worthy. Wherein it is most evident, that you do not so much checke my fault, as the ordination of Fortune, who many times advanceth men of meanest esteeme, and abaseth them of greater merit. But leaving this discourse, let us looke into the originall of things, wherein we are first to observe, that from one masse or lumpe of flesh, both we, and all other received our flesh, and one Creator hath created all things; yea, all creatures, equally in their forces and faculties, and equall likewise in their vertue: which vertue was the first that made distinction of birth and equality, in regard, that such as have the most liberall portion thereof, and performed actions thereto answerable, were thereby tearmed noble; all the rest remaining unnoble: now although contrary use did afterward hide and conceale this Law, yet was it not therefore banished from Nature or good manners. In which respect, whosoever did execute all his actions by vertue, declared himselfe openly to be noble; and he that tearmed him otherwise, it was an errour in the miscaller, and not in the person so wrongfully called; as the very same priviledge is yet in full force among us at this day.
Cast an heedfull eye then (good Father) upon all your Gentlemen, and advisedly examine their vertues, conditions, and manner of behaviour. On the other side, observe those parts remaining in Guiscardo: and then if you will Judge truly, and without affection, you will confesse him to be most Noble, and that all your Gentlemen (in respect of him) are but base Groomes and villaines. His vertues and excelling perfections, I never credited from the report or judgement of any person; but onely by your speeches, and mine owne eyes as true witnesses. Who did ever more commend Guiscardo, extolling all those singularities in him, most requisite to be in an honest vertuous man; then you your selfe have done? Nor neede you to be sorry, or ashamed of your good opinion concerning him: for if mine eyes have not deceived my judgement, you never gave him the least part of praise, but I have knowne much more in him, then ever your words were able to expresse: wherefore, if I have beene any way deceived, truly the deceit proceeded onely from you. How wil you then maintaine, that I have throwne my liking on a man of base condition? In troth (Sir) you cannot. Perhaps you will alledge, that he is but meane and poore; I confesse it, and surely it is to your shame, that you have not bestowne place of more preferment, on a man so honest and well deserving, and having bene so long a time your servant. Neverthelesse poverty impayreth not any part of noble Nature, but wealth hurries into horrible confusions. Many Kings and great Princes have heeretofore beene poore, when divers of them that have delved into the earth, and kept Flockes in the field, have beene advanced to riches, and exceeded the other in wealth.
Now, as concerning your last doubt, which most of all afflicteth you, namely, how you shall deale with me; boldly rid your braine of any such disturbance; for if you have resolved now in your extremity of yeres, to doe that which your younger dayes evermore despised, I meane, to become cruell; use your utmost cruelty against me: for I wil never intreat you to the contrary, because I am the sole occasion of this offence, if it doe deserve the name of an offence. And this I dare assure you, that if you deale not with me, as you have done already, or intend to Guiscardo, mine owne hands shall act as much: and therfore give over your teares to women; and if you purpose to be cruel, let him and me in death drinke both of one cup, at least if you imagine that we have deserved it.
The King knew well enough the high spirit of his Daughter, but yet (neverthelesse) he did not beleeve, that her words would prove actions, or she do as she said. And therefore parting from her, and without intent of using any cruelty to her, concluded, by quenching the heat of another to coole the fiery rage of her distemper, commanding two of his follow (who had the custody of Guiscardo) that without any rumour or noise at all, they should strangle him the night ensuing, and taking the heart forth of his body, to bring it to him, which they performed according to their charge. On the next day, the King called for a goodly standing cup of Gold, wherein he put the heart of Guiscardo, sending it by one of his most familiar servants to his Daughter, with command also to use these words to her. Thy Father hath sent thee this present, to comfort thee with that thing which most of all thou affectest, even as thou hast comforted him with that which he most hated.
Ghismonda, nothing altered from her cruell deliberation, after her Father was departed from her, caused certaine poisonous roots and hearbes to be brought her, which shee (by distillation) made a water of, to drinke sodainly, whensoever any crosse accident should come from her Father; whereupon, when the Messenger from her Father had delivered her the present, and uttered the words as he was commaunded: shee tooke the Cup, and looking into it with a setled countenance, by sight of the heart, and effect of the message, she knew certainely, that was the heart of Guiscardo; then looking stearnely on the servant, thus she spake unto him. My honest friend, it is no more then right and justice, that so worthy a heart as this is, should have any worser grave then gold, wherein my Father hath dealt most wisely. So, lifting the heart up to her mouth, and sweetly kissing it, she proceeded thus. In all things, even till this instant, (being the utmost period of my life) I have evermore found my Fathers love most effectuall to me; but now it appeareth farre greater, then at any time heretofore: and therefore from my mouth, thou must deliver him the latest thankes that ever I shall give him, for sending me such an honourable present.
These words being ended, holding the Cup fast in her hand, and looking seriously upon the heart, she began againe in this manner. Thou sweete entertainer of all my dearest delights, accursed be his cruelty, that causeth me thus to see thee with my corporall eyes, it being sufficient enough for me, alwayes to behold thee with the sight of my soule. Thou hast runne thy race, and as Fortune ordained, so are thy dayes finished: for as all flesh hath an ending; so hast thou concluded, albeit too soone, and before thy due time. The travalles and miseries of this World, have now no more to meddle with thee, and thy very heaviest enemy hath bestowed such a grave on thee, as thy greatnesse in vertue worthily deserveth; now nothing else is wanting, wherewith to beautifie thy Funerall, but only her sighes and teares, that was so deare unto thee in thy life time. And because thou mightest the more freely enjoy them, see how my mercilesse Father (on his owne meere motion) hath sent thee to me; and truly I will bestow them frankly on thee, though once I had resolved, to die with drie eyes, and not shedding one teare, dreadlesse of their utmost malice towards me.
And when I have given thee the due oblation of my teares, my soule, which sometime thou hast kept most carfully, shall come to make a sweet conjunction with thine: for in what company else can I travaile more contentedly, and to those unfrequented silent shades, but onely in thine? As yet am sure it is present here, in this Cup sent me by my Father, as having a provident respect to the place, for possess' of our equall and mutuall pleasures; because thy soule affecting mine so truly, cannot walke alone, without his deare companion.
Having thus finished her complaint, even as if her bead had been converted into a well spring of water, so did teares abundantly flow from her faire eyes, kissing the heart of Guiscardo infinite times. All which while, her women standing by her, neither knew what heart it was, nor to what effect her speeches tended: but being moved to compassionate teares, they often demanded (albeit in vaine) the occasion of her sad complaining, comforting her to their utmost power. When she was not able to weepe any longer, wiping her eyes, and lifting up her head, without any signe of the least dismay, thus she spake to the heart.
Deare heart, all my duty is performed to thee, and nothing now remaineth uneffected; but onely breathing my last, to let my ghost accompany thine.
Then calling for the glasse of water, which she had readily prepared the day before, and powring it upon the heart lying in the Cup, couragiously advancing it to her mouth, she dranke it up every drop; which being done, she lay downe upon her bed, holding her Lovers heart fast in her hand, and laying it so neere to her owne as she could. Now although her women knew not what water it was, yet when they had seene her to quaffe it off in that manner, they sent word to the King, who much suspecting what had happened, went in all haste to his Daughters Chamber, entring at the very instant, when she was laide upon her bed; beholding her in such passionate pangs, with teares streaming downe his reverend beard, he used many kinde words to comfort her: when boldly thus she spake unto him. Father (quoth she) well may you spare these teares, because they are unfitting for you, and not any way desired by me; who but your selfe, hath seene any man to mourne for his owne wilfull offence. Neverthelesse, if but the least jot of that love do yet abide in you, whereof you have made such liberall profession to me; let me obtaine this my very last request, to wit, that seeing I might not privately enjoy the benefit of Guiscardoes love, and while he lived, let yet (in death) one publike grave containe both our bodies, that death may affoord us, what you so cruelly in life denied us.
Extremity of griefe and sorrow, withheld his tongue from returning any answer, and she perceiving her end approaching, held the heart still closer to her owne bare brest, saying; Here Fortune, receive two true hearts latest oblation; for, in this manner are we comming to thee. So closing her eyes, all sense forsooke her, life leaving her body breathlesse. Thus ended the haplesse love of Guiscardo, and Ghismonda, for whose sad disaster, when the King had mourned sufficiently, and repented fruitlesly; he caused both their bodies to be honourably embalmed, and buried in a most royall Monument; not without generall sorrow of the subjects of Salerne.[ Hide First Novell ]
The Novell recounted by Madam Fiammetta, caused teares many times in the eyes of all the company; but it being finished, the King shewing a stearne countenance, saide; I should have much commended the kindnesse of fortune, if in the whole course of my life, I had tasted the least moity of that delight, which Guiscardo received by conversing with faire Ghismonda. Nor neede any of you to wonder thereat, or how it can be otherwise, because hourely I feele a thousand dying torments, without enjoying any hope of ease or pleasure: but referring my fortunes to their owne poore condition, it is my will, that Madam Pampinea proceed next in the argument of successelesse love, according as Madam Fiammetta hath already begun, to let fall more dew-drops on the fire of mine afflictions. Madam Pampinea perceiving what a taske was imposed on her, knew well (by her owne disposition) the inclination of the company, whereof shee was more respective then of the Kings command: wherefore, chusing rather to recreate their spirits, then to satisfie the Kings melancholy humour; she determined to relate a Tale of mirthfull matter, and yet to keepe within compasse of the purposed Argument It hath bene continually used as a common Proverbe; that a bad man taken and reputed to be honest and good, may commit many evils, yet neither credited, or suspected: which proverbe giveth me very ample matter to speake of, and yet not varying from our intention, concerning the hypocrisie of some religious persons, who having their garments long and large, their faces made artificially pale, their language meeke and humble to get mens goods from them; yet sowre, harsh and stearne enough, in checking and controuling other mens errours, as also in urging others to give, and themselves to take, without any other hope or meanes of salvation. Nor doe they endeavour like other men, to worke out their soules health with feare and trembling; but, even as if they were sole owners, Lords, and possessors of Paradice, will appoint to every dying person, place (there) of greater or lesser excellency, according as they thinke good, or as the legacies left by them are in quantity, whereby they not onely deceive themselves, but all such as give credit to their subtile perswasions. And were it lawfull for me, to make knowne no more then is meerely necessary; I could quickly disclose to simple credulous people, what craft lieth concealed under their holy habites: and I would wish, that their lies and deluding should speed with them, as they did with a Franciscane Friar, none of the younger Novices, but one of them of greatest reputation, and belonging to one of the best Monasteries in Venice. Which I am the rather desirous to report, to recreate your spirits, after your teares for the death of faire Ghismonda.
Sometime (Honourable Ladies) there lived in the City of Imola, a man of most lewd and wicked life; named, Bertho de la messa, whose shamelesse deedes were so well knowne to all the Citizens, and won such respect among them; as all his lies could not compasse any beleefe, no, not when he delivered a matter of sound truth. Wherefore, perceiving that his lewdnesse allowed him no longer dwelling there; like a desperate adventurer, he transported himselfe thence to Venice, the receptacle of all foule sinne and abhomination, intending there to exercise his wonted bad behaviour, and live as wickedly as ever he had done before. It came to passe, that some remorse of conscience tooke hold of him, for the former passages of his dissolute life, and he pretended to be surprized with very great devotion, becomming much more Catholike then any other man, taking on him the profession of a Franciscane coldelier, and calling himselfe, Fryar Albert of Imola.
In this habite and outward appearance, hee seemed to leade an austere and sanctimonious life, highly commending penance and abstinence, never eating flesh, or drinking wine, but when he was provided of both in a close corner. And before any person could take notice thereof, hee became (of a theefe) Ruffian, forswearer, and murtherer, as formerly he had-beene a great Preacher; yet not abandoning the forenamed vices, when secretly he could put any of them in execution. Moreover, being made Priest, when he was celebrating Masse at the Altar, if he saw himselfe to be observed by any; he would most mournefully reade the passion of our Saviour, as one whose teares cost him little, whensoever hee pleased to use them; so that, in a short while, by his preaching and teares, he fed the humours of the Venetians so pleasingly, that they made him executor (well-neere) of all their Testaments, yea, many chose him as depositary or Guardion of their monies; because he was both Confessour and Councellor, almost to all the men and women.
By this well seeming out-side of sanctity, the Wolfe became a Shepheard, and his renowne for holinesse was so famous in those parts, as Saint Frances himselfe had hardly any more. It fortuned, that a young Gentlewoman, being somewhat foolish, wanton and proud minded, named Madam Lisetta de Caquirino, wife to a wealthy Merchant, who went with certaine Gallies into Flanders, and there lay as Lieger long time: in company of other Gentlewomen, went to be confessed by this ghostly Father; kneel. at his feete, although her heart was high enough, like a proud minded woman, (for Venetians are presumptuous, vaine-glorious, and witted much like to their skittish Gondoloes) she made a very short rehearsall of her sinnes. At length Fryar Albert demanded of her, whether shee had any amorous friend or lover? Her patience being exceedingly provoked, stearne anger appeared in her lookes, which caused her to returne him this answer. How now Sir Domine? what? have you no eyes in your head? Can you not distinguish between mine, and these other common beauties? I could have Lovers enow, if I were so pleased; but those perfections remaining in me, are not to be affected by this man, or that. How many beauties have you beheld, any way answerable to mine, and are more fit for Gods, then mortals.
Many other idle speeches shee uttered, in proud opinion of her beauty, whereby Friar Albert presently perceived, that this Gentlewoman had but a hollow braine, and was fit game for folly to flye at; which made him instantly enamoured of her, and that beyond all capacity of resisting, which yet he referred to a further, and more commodious time. Neverthelesse, to shew himselfe an holy and religious man now, he began to reprehend her, and told her plainely, that she was vain-glorious, and overcome with infinite follies. Heereupon, him call.ed him a logger headed beast, and he knew not the difference betweene an ordinary complexion, and beauty of the highest merit. In which respect, Friar Albert, being loth to offend her any further; after confession was fully ended, let her passe away among the other Gentlewomen, she giving him divers disdainfull lookes.
Within some few dayes after, taking one of his trusty brethren in his company, he went to the House of Madam Lisetta, where requiring to have some conference alone with her selfe; shee tooke him into a private Parlor, and being there, not to be seene by any body, he fell on his knees before her, speaking in this manner. Madam, for charities sake, and in regard of your owne most gracious nature, I beseech you to pardon those harsh speeches, which I used to you the other day, when you were with me at confession: because, the very night ensuing thereon, I was chastised in such cruell manner, as I was never able to stirre forth of my bed, untill this very instant morning; whereto the weake-witted Gentlewoman thus replyed. And who I pray you (quoth she) did chastise you so severely? I will tell you Madam, said Friar Albert, but it is a matter of admirable secrecie.
Being alone by my selfe the same night in my Dorter, and in very serious devotion, according to my usuall manner: suddenly I saw a bright splendour about me, and I could no sooner arise to discerne what it might be, and whence it came, but I espied a very goodly young Lad standing by me, holding a golden Bow in his hand, and a rich Quiver of Arrowes hanging at his backe. Catching fast hold on my Hood, against the ground he threw me rudely, trampling on me with his feete, and beating me with so many cruell blowes, that I thought my body to be broken in peeces. Then I desired to know, why he was so rigorous to me in his correction? Because (quoth he) thou didst so saucily presume this day, to reprove the celestiall beauty of Madam Lisetta, who (next to my Mother Venus) I love most dearely. Whereupon I perceived, he was the great commanding God Cupid, and therefore I craved most humbly pardon of him. I will pardon thee (quoth he) but upon this condition, that thou goe to her so soone as conveniently thou canst, and (by lowly humility) prevaile to obtaine her free pardon: which if she will not vouchsafe to grant thee, then shall I in stearne anger returne againe, and lay so many torturing afflictions on thee, that all thy whole life time shall be most hatefull to thee. And what the displeased God saide else beside, I dare not disclose, except you please first to pardon me.
Mistresse shallow-braine, being swolne big with this wind, like an empty bladder; conceived no small pride in hearing these words, constantly crediting them to be true, and therefore thus answered. Did I not tel you Father Albert, that my beauty was celestiall? But I sweare by my beauty, notwithstanding your idle passed arrogancy, I am heartily sorry for your so severe correction; which that it may no more be inflicted on you, I do freely pardon you; yet with this proviso, that you tell me what the God else saide unto you; whereto Fryar Albert thus replyed. Madam, seeing you have so graciously vouchsafed to pardon me, I will thankfully tell you all: but you must be very carefull and respective, that whatsoever I shall reveale unto you, must so closely be concealed, as no living creature in the World may know it; for you are the onely happy Lady now living, and that happinesse relleth on your silence and secrecie: with solemne vowes and protestations she sealed up her many promises, and then the Fryar thus proceeded.
Madam, the further charge imposed on me by God Cupid, was to tell you, that himselfe is so extremely enamored of your beauty, and you are become so gracious in his affection; as, many nights he hath come to see you in your Chamber, sitting on your pillow, while you slept sweetly, and desiring very often to awake you, but onely fearing to affright you. Wherefore, now he sends you word by me, that one night he intendeth to come visite you, and to spend some time in conversing with you. But in regard he is a God, and meerely a spirit in forme, whereby neither you or any else have capacity of beholding him, much lesse to touch or feele him: he saith that (for your sake) he will come in the shape of a man, giving me charge also to know of you, when you shall please to have him come, and in whose similitude you would have him to come, whereof he will not falle; in which respect, you may justly thinke your selfe to be the onely happy woman livng, and farre beyond all other in your good fortune.
Mistresse want-wit presently answered, shee was well contented, that God Cupid should love her, and she would returne the like love againe to him; protesting withill, that wheresoever shee should see his majesticall picture, she would set a hallowed burning Taper before it. Moreover, at all times he should be most welcome to her, whensoever hee would vouchsafe to visite her; for, he should alwayes finde her alone in her private Chamber: on this condition, that his olde Love Psyches, and all other beauties else whatsoever, must be set aside, and none but her selfe onely to be his best Mistresse, referring his personall forme of appearance, to what shape himselfe best pleased to assume, so that it might not be frightfull, or offensive to her.
Madam (quoth Friar Albert) most wisely have you answered, and leave the matter to me; for I will take order sufficiently, and to your contentment. But you may do me a great grace, and without any prejudice to your selfe, in granting me one poore request; namely, to vouchsafe the Gods appearance to you, in my bodily shape and person, and in the perfect forme of a man as now you behold me: so may you safely give him entertainment, without any taxation of the world, or ill apprehension of the most curious inquisition. Beside, a greater happinesse can never befall me: for, while he assumeth the soule out of my body, and walketh on the earth in my humane figure: I shall be wandering in the joyes of Lovers Paradise, feeling the fruition of their felicities; which are such, as no mortality can be capeable of, no, not so much as in imagination.
The wise Gentlewoman replied, that she was well contented, in regard of the severe punishment inflicted on him by God Cupid, for the reproachfull speeches he had given her; to allow him so poore a kinde of consolation, as he had requested her to grant him. Whereuppon Friar Albert saide: Be ready then Madam to give him welcome to morrow in the evening, at the entering into your house, for comming in an humane body, he cannot but enter at your doores: n e whereas, if (in powerfull manner) he made use of his wings, he then would Eye in at your window, and then you could not be able to see him.
Upon this conclusion, Albert departed, leaving Lisetta in no meane pride of imagination, that God Cupid should be enamoured of her beauty; and therefore she thought each houre a yeare, till she might see him in the mortall shape of Friar Albert. And now was his braine wonderfully busied, to visite her in more then common or humane manner; and therefore he made him a sute (close to his body) of white Taffata, all poudred over with Starres, and spangles of Gold, a Bow and Quiver of Arrowes, with wings also fastened to his backe behinde him, and all cunningly covered with his Friars habit, which must be the sole meanes of his safe passage.
Having obtained licence of his Superiour, and being accompanied with an holy Brother of the Convent, yet ignorant of the businesse by him intended; he went to the house of a friend of his, which was his usuall receptacle, whensoever he went about such deeds of darknes. There did he put on his dissembled habit of God Cupid, with his winges, Bowe, and Quiver, in formall fashion; and then (clouded over with his Monkes Cowle) leaves his companion to awaite his returning backe, while he visited foolish Lisetta, according to her expectation, readily attending for the Gods arrivall.
Albert being come to the house, knocked at the doore, and the Maide admitting him entrance, according as her Mistresse had appointed, she conducted him to her Mistresses Chamber, where laying aside his Friars habite, and she seeing him shine with such glorious splendour, adding action also to his assumed dissimulation, with majesticke motion of his body, wings, and bow, as if he had bene God Cupid indeede, converted into a body much bigger of stature, then Painters commonly do describe him, her wisedome was overcome with feare and admiration, that she fell on her knees before him, expressing all humble reverence unto him. And he spreading his wings over her, as with wiers and strings he had made them pliant; shewed how graciously he accepted her humiliation; folding her in his armes, and sweetly kissing her many times together, with repetition of his entire love and affection towards her. So delicately was he perfumed with odorifferous savours, and so compleate of person in his spangled garments, that she could do nothing else, but wonder at his rare behaviour, reputing her felicity beyond all Womens in the world, and utterly impossible to be equalled, such was the pride of her presuming. For he told her clivers tales and fables, of his awefull power among the other Gods, and stolne pleasures of his upon the earth; yet gracing her praises above all his other Loves, and vowes made now, to affect none but her onely, as his often visitations should more constantly assure her, that she verily credited all his protestations, and thought his kisses and embraces, farre to exceed any mortall comparison.
After they had spent so much time in amorous discoursing, as might best fit with this their first meeting, and stand cleare from suspition on either side: our Albert Cupid, or Cupid Albert, which of them you best please to terme him, closing his spangled winges together againe behinde his backe, fastening also on his Bow and Quiver of Arrowes, overclouds all with his religious Monkes Cowle, and then with a parting kisse or two, returned to the place where he had left his fellow and companion, perhaps imployed in as devout an exercise, as he had bin in his absence from him; whence both repayring home to the Monastery, all this nightes wandering was allowed as tollerable, by them who made no spare of doing the like. On the morrow following, Madam Lisetta immediately after dinner, being attended by her Chamber-maid, went to see Friar Albert, finding him in his wonted forme and fashion, and telling him what had hapned betweene her and God Cupid, with all the other lies and tales which hee had told her. Truly Madam (answered Albert) what your successe with him hath beene, I am no way able to comprehend; but this I can assure you, that so soone as I had acquainted him with your answer, I felt a sodaine rapture made of my soule, and visibly (to my apprehension) saw it carried by Elves and Fairies, into the floury fields about Elisium, where Lovers departed out of this life, walke among the beds of Lillies and Roses, such as are not in this world to be seene, neither to be imagined by any humane capacity. So super-abounding was the pleasure of this joy and solace, that, how long I continued there, or by what meanes I was transported hither againe this morning, it is beyond all ability in mee to expresse, or how I assumed my body againe after that great God had made use thereof to your service. Well Fryar Albert (quoth shee) you may see what an happinesse hath befalne you, by so grosse an opinion of my perfections, and what a felicity you enjoy, and still are like to do, by my pardoning your error, and granting the God accesse to me in your shape: which as I envy not, so I wish you heereafter to be wiser, in taking upon you to judge of beauty. Much other idle folly proceeded from her, which still he soothed to her contentment, and (as occasion served) many meetings they had in the former manner.
It fortuned within few dayes after that Madam Lisetta being in company with one of her Gossips, and their conference (as commonly it falleth out to be) concerning other women of the City; their beauty, behaviour, amorous suters and servants, and generall opinion conceived of their worth, and merit; wherein Lisetta was over-much conceyted of her selfe, not admitting any other to be her equall. Among other speeches, savouring of an unseasoned braine: Gossip (quoth she) if you knew what account is made of my beauty, and who holdes it in no meane estimation, you would then freely confesse, that I deserve to be preferred before any other. As women are ambitious in their owne opinions, so commonly are they covetous of one anothers secrets, especially in matter of emulation, whereupon the Gossip thus replyed. Beleeve me Madam, I make no doubt but your speeches may be true, in regard of your admired beauty, and many other perfections beside; yet let me tell you, priviledges, how great and singular soever they be, without they are knowen to others, beside such as do particularly enjoy them; they carry no more account, then things of ordinary estimation. Whereas on the contrary, when any Lady or Gentlewoman hath some eminent and peculiar favour, which few or none other can reach unto, and it is made famous by generall notion; then do all women else admire and honor her, as the glory of their kinde, and a miracle of Nature.
I perceive Gossip said Lisetta, whereat you aime, and such is my love to you, as you should not lose your longing in this case, were I but constantly secured of your secrecy, which as hitherto I have bene no way able to taxe, so would I be loth now to be more suspitious of then needs. But yet this matter is of such maine moment, that if you will protest as you are truly vertuous, never to reveale it to any living body, I will disclose to you almost a miracle. The vertuous oath being past, with many other solemne protestations beside, Lisetta then pro. ceeded in this maner.
I know Gossip, that it is a matter of common and ordinary custome, for Ladies and Gentlewomen to be graced with favourites, men of fraile and mortall conditions, whose natures are as subject to inconstancy, as their very best endevours dedicated to folly, as I could name no mean number of our Ladies heere in Venice. But when Soveraigne deities shall feele the impression of our humane desires, and behold subjects of such prevailing efficacy, as to subdue their greatest power, yea, and make them enamored of mortall creatures: you may well imagine Gossip, such a beauty is superiour to any other. And such is the happy fortune of your friend Lisetta, of whose perfections, great Cupid the awefull commanding God of Love himselfe, conceived such an extraordinary liking: as he hath abandoned his seate of supreme Majesty, and appeared to in the shape of a mortall man, with lively expression of his amourous passions, and what extremities of anguish he hath endured, onely for my love. May this be possible? replied the Gossip. Can the Gods be toucht with the apprehension of our fraile passions? True it is Gossip, answered and so certainly true, that his sacred kisses, sweete embraces, and most pleasing speeches with proffer of his continuall devotion towards me, hath given me good cause to confirme what I say, and to thinke my felicity farre beyond all other womens, being honoured with his often nightly visitations.
The Gossip inwardly smiling at her idle speeches, which (nevertheles) she avouched with very vehement asseverations: fell instantly sicke of womens naturall disease, thinking every minute a tedious month, till she were in company with some other Gossips, to breake the obligation of her vertuous promise, and that others (as well as her selfe) might laugh at the folly of this shallow-witted woman. The next day following, it was her hap to be at a wedding, among a great number of other women, whom quickly she acquainted with this so strange a wonder; as they did the like to their husbands: and passing so from hand to hand, in lesse space then two dayes, all Venice was fully possessed with it. Among the rest, the brethren to this foolish woman, heard this admirable newes concerning their Sister; and they discreetly concealing it to themselves, closely concluded to watch the walks of this pretended God: and if he soared not too lofty a flight, they would clip his wings, to come the better acquainted with him. It fortuned, that the Friar hearing his Cupidicall visitations over-publikely discovered, purposed to check and reprove Lisetta for her indiscretion. And being habited according to his former manner, his Friarly Cowle covering all his former bravery, he left his companion where he used to stay, and closely walked along unto the house. No sooner was he entred, but the Brethren being ambushed neere to the doore, went in after him, and ascending the staires, by such time as he had uncased himselfe, and appeared like God Cupid, with his spangled wings displayed: they rushed into the Chamber, and he having no other refuge, opened a large Casement, standing directly over the great gulfe or River, and presently leapt into the water; which being deepe, and he skilfull in swimming, he had no other harme by his fall, albeit the sodaine affright did much perplex him.
Recovering the further side of the River, he espied a light, and the doore of an house open, wherein dwelt a poore man, whom he earnestly intreated, to save both his life and reputation, telling him many lies and tales by what meanes he was thus disguised, and throwne by night-walking Villaines into the water. The poore man, being moved to compassionate his distressed estate, laid him in his owne bed, ministring such other comforts to him, as the time and his poverty did permit; and day drawing on, he went about his businesse, advising him to take his rest, and it should not be long till he returned. So, locking the doore, and leaving the counterfet God in bed, away goes the poore man to his daily labor. The Brethren to Lisetta, perceiving God Cupid to be fied and gone, and she in melancholly sadnesse sitting by them: they tooke up the Reliques he had left behind him, I meane the Friars hood and Cowle, which shewing to their sister, and sharpely reproving her unwomanly behaviour: they left her in no meane discomfort, returning home to their owne houses, with their conquered spolle of the forlorne Friar.
During the times of these occurrences, broad day speeding on, and the poore man returning homeward by the Rialto, to visit his guest so left in bed: he beheld divers crouds of people, and a generall rumor noysed among them, that God Cupid had bene that night with Madam Lisetta, where being over-closely pursued by her Brethren, for feare of being surprized, he leapt out of her window into the gulfe, and no one could tell what was become of him. Heereupon, the poore man began to imagine, that the guest entertained by him in the night time, must needs be the same suppose God Cupid, as by his wings and other embellishments appeared: wherefore being come home, and sitting downe on the beds side by him, after some few speeches passing betweene them, he knew him to be Friar Albert, who promised to give him fifty ducates, if he would not betray him to Lisettaes Brethren. Upon the acceptation of this offer, the money being sent for, and paied downe; there wanted nothing now, but some apt and convenient meanes, whereby Albert might safely be conveyed into the Monastery, which being wholly referred to the poore mans care and trust, thus he spake. Sir, I see no likely-hood of your cleare escaping home, except in this manner as I advise you. We observe this day as a merry Festivall, and it is lawfull for any one, to disguise a man in the skin of a Beare, or in the shape of a savage man, or any other forme of better advice. Which being so done, he is brought upon S. Markes market place, where being hunted a while with dogs, upon the huntings conclusion, the Feast is ended; and then each man leades his monster whether him pleaseth. If you can accept any of these shapes, before you be seene heere in my poore abiding, then can I safely (afterward) bring you where you would be. Otherwise, I see no possible meanes, how you may escape hence unknown; for it is without all question to the contrary, that the Gentlewomans brethren, knowing your concealment in some one place or other, wil set such spies and watches for you throughout the City, as you must needs be taken by them.
Now, although it seemed a most severe imposition, for Albert to passe in any of these disguises: yet his exceeding feare of Lisettaes brethren and friends, made him gladly yeelde, and to undergo what shape the poore man pleased, which thus he ordered. Annointing his naked body with Hony, he then covered it over with downy small Feathers, and fastening a chaine about his necke, and a strange ugly vizard on his face, he gave him a great staffe in the one hand, and two huge Mastive dogs chained together in the other, which he had borrowed in the Butchery. Afterward, he sent a man to the Rialto, who there proclaimed by the sound of Trumpet: That all such as desired to see God Cupid, which the last nights had descended downe from the skies, and fell (by ill hap) into the Venetian gulfe, let them repaire to the publike Market place of S. Marke, and there he would appeare in his owne likenesse.
This being done, soone after he left his house, and leading him thus disguised along by the chaine, he was followed by great crowds of people, every one questioning of whence, and what he was. In which manner, he brought him, to the Market place, where an infinite number of people were gathered together, as well of the followers, as of them that before heard the proclamation. There he made choice of a pillar, which stood in a place somewhat highly exalted, wherto he chained his savage man, making shew, as if be meant to awaite there, till the hunting should begin: in which time, the Flies, Waspes, and Hornets, did so terribly sting his naked body, being annointed with Hony, that he endured therby unspeakable anguish. When the poore man saw, that there needed no more concourse of people; pretending, as if he purposed to let loose his Salvage man; he tooke the maske or vizard from Alberts face, and then he spake aloud in this manner. Gentlemen and others, seeing the wilde Boare commeth not to our hunting, because I imagine that he cannot easily be found: I meane (to the end you may not lose your labour in comming hither) to shew you the great God of Love called Cupid, who Poets feigned long since to be a little boy, but now growne to manly stature. You see in what maner he hath left his high dwelling onely for the comfort of our Venetian beauties: but belike, the night-fogs overflagging his wings, he fell into our gulfe, and comes now to present his service to you. No sooner had he taken off his vizard, but every one knew him to be Fryar Albert; and sodainely arose such shoutes outcries, with most bitter words breathed forth against him, hurling also stones, durt and filth in his face, that his best acquaintance then could take no knowledge of him, and not any one pittying his abusing. So long continued the offended people in their fury, that the newes therof was carried to the Convent, and six of his Religious Brethren came, who casting an habite about him, and releasing him from his chaine, they led him to the Monastery, not without much mollestation and trouble of the people; where imprisoning him in their house, severity of some inflicted punishment, or rather conceite for his open shame, shortned his dayes, and so he dyed. Thus you see (fayre Ladies) when licentious life must be clouded with a cloake of sanctifie, and evill actions daylie committed, yet escaping uncredited: there will come a time at length, for just discovering of all, that the good may shine in their true luster of glory, and the bad sinke in their owne deserved shame.[ Hide Second Novell ]
When the King perceyved that Madame Pampinea had ended her discourse, he sat sadly a pretty while, without uttering one word, but afterward spake thus. Little goodnesse appeared in the beginning of this Novell, because it ministred occasion of mirth; yet the ending proved better, and I could wish, that worse inflictions had falne on the venerious Friar. Then turning towards Madam Lauretta, he said; Lady, do you tell us a better tale, if possible it may be. She smiling, thus answered the King: Sir, you are over-cruelly bent against poore Lovers, in desiring, that their amourous processions should have harsh and sinister concludings. Neverthelesse, in obedience to your severe command, among three persons amourously perplexed, I will relate an unhappy ending; whereas all may be saide to speede as unfortunately, being equally alike, in enjoying the issue of their desires, and thus I purpose to proceed.
Every Vice (choice Ladies) as very well you know, redoundeth to the great disgrace and prejudice of him, or her, by whom it is practised, and oftentimes to others. Now, among those common hurtfull enemies, the sinne or vice which most carrieth us with full carrere, and draweth us into unadvoydable dangers (in mine opinion) seemeth to be that of choller or anger, which is a sodain and inconsiderate moving, provoked by some received injury, which having excluded all respect of reason, and dimnd (with darke vapors) the bright discerning sight of the understanding, enflameth the minde with most violent fury. And albeit this inconvenience hapneth most to men, and more to some few then others, yet notwithstanding, it hath bene noted, that women have felt the selfesame infirmity, and in more extreme manner, because it much sooner is kindled in them, and burneth with the brighter flame, in regard they have the lesser consideration, and therefore not to be wondred at. For if we wil advisedly observe, we shall plainely perceive, that fire even of his owne nature) taketh hold on such things as are light and tender, much sooner then it can on hard and weighty substances; and some of us women (let men take no offence at my words) are farre more soft and delicate then they be, and therefore more fraile. In which regard, seeing wee are naturally enclined hereto, and considering also, how much our affability and gentlenesse do shew themselves pleasing and full of content to those men with whom we are to live; and likewise, how anger and fury are compacted of extraordinary perils: I purpose (because we may be the more valiant in our courage, to outstand the fierce assaults of wrath and rage) to shew you by mine ensuing Novell, how the loves of three yong Gentlemen, and of as many Gentlewomen, came to fatall and fortunat successe by the tempestuous anger of one among them, as I have formerly related unto you.
Marseilles (as you are not now to learne) is in Provence; seated on the Sea, and is also a very ancient and most Noble Citty, which hath bene (heeretofore) inhabited with farre richer and more wealthy Merchants, then at this instant time it is. Among whom, there was one named Narnaldo Civida, a man but of meane condition, yet cleare in faith and reputation, and in lands, goods, and ready monies, immeasurably rich. Many children he had by his Wife, among whom were three Daughters, which exceeded his Sonnes in yeeres. Two of them being twinnes, and borne of one body, were counted to be fifteene yeeres old; the third was foureteene, and nothing hindered marriage in their Parents owne expectation but the returne home of Narnaldo, who was then abroad in Spaine with his Merchandizes. The eldest of these Sisters was named Ninetta, the second Magdalena, and the third Bertella. A Gentleman (albeit but poore in fortunes) and called Restagnone, was so extraordinarily enamoured of Ninetta, as no man possibly could be more, and she likewise as earnest in affection towards him; yet both carrying their loves proceeding with such secrecy, as long time they enjoyed their hearts sweet contentment, yet undiscovered.
It came to passe, that two other young Gallants, the one named Folco, and the other Hugnetto, (who had attained to incredible wealth, by the decease of their Father) were also as far in love, the one with Magdalena, and the other with Bertella. When Restagnone had intelligence thereof, by the meanes of his faire friend Ninetta, he purposed to releeve his poverty, by friendly furthering both their love, and his owne: and growing into familiarity with them, one while he would walke abroad with Folco, and then againe with Hugnetto, but oftner with them both together, to visite their Mistresses, and continue worthy friendship. On a day, when hee saw the time suteable to his intent, and that hee had invited the two Gentlemen home unto his House, he fell into this like Conference with them.
Kinde Friends (quoth he) the honest familiarity which hath past betweene us, may render you some certaine assurance, of the constant love I beare to you both, being as willing to worke any meanes that may tend to your good, as I desire to compasse And because the truth of mine affection cannot conceale it selfe to you, I meane to acquaint you with an intention, wherewith my braine hath a long While travelled and now may soone be delivered of, if it may passe with your liking and approbation. Let me then tell you, that except your speeches savour of untruth, and your actions carry a double understaning, in common behaviour both by night and day, you appeare to and consume away, in the cordiall love you beare to two of the Sisters, as I suffer the same afflictions for the third, with reciprocall. requitall of their deerest affection to us. Now, to qualifie the heate of our tormenting flames, if you will condescend to such a course as I shall advise you, the remedy will yeild them equall ease to ours, and we may safely injoy the benefit of contentment. As wealth aboundeth with you both, so doth want most extremely tyrannize over me: but if one banke might be made of both your rich substances, I embraced therein as a third partaker, and some quarter of the world dissigned out by us, where to live at hearts ease upon your possessions, I durst engage my credit, that all the sisters (not meanely stored with their Fathers treasure) shall beare us company to what place soever we please. There each man freely enjoying his owne deerest love, may live like three brethren, without any hinderance to our mutuall content: it remaineth now in you Gentlemen, to accept this comfortable offer, or to refuse it.
The two Brothers, whose pass exceeded their best means for support, perceiving some hope how to enjoy their loves; desired no long time of deliberation, or greatly disputed with their thoughts what was best to be done: but readily replyed, that let happen any danger whatsoever, they would joyne with him in this determination, and he should partake with them in their wealthiest fortunes. After Restagnone had heard their answer, within some few dayes following, he went to confer with Ninetta, which was no easie matter for him to compasse. Neverthelesse, opportunity proved so favourable to him, that meeting with her at a private place appointed, he discoursed at large, what had passed betweene him and the other two young Gentlemen, maintaining the same with many good reasons, to have her like and allow of the enterprize. Which although (for a while) he could very hardly doe; yet, in regard shee had more desire then power, without suspition to be daily in his company, she thus answered. My hearts chosen friend, I cannot any way mislike your advice, and will take such order with my Sisters, that they shal agree to our resolution. Let it therefore be your charge, that you and the rest make every thing ready, to depart from hence so soone, as with best convenient meanes we may be enabled.
Restagnone being returned to Folco and Hugnetto, who thought everie houre a yeare, to heare what would succeede upon the promise past between them; he told them in plain termes, that their Ladies were as free in consent as they, and nothing wanted now, but furnishment for their sodaine departing. Having concluded, that Candye should bee their harbour for entertainment, they made sale of some few inheritances which lay the readiest for the purpose, as also the goods in their Houses; and then, under colour of venting Merchandizes abroad, they bought a nimble Pinnace, fortified with good strength and preparation, and wayted but for a convenient winde. On the other side, Ninetta who was sufficiently acquainted with the forwardnesse of her Sisters desires, and her owne, had so substantially prevailed with them, that a good Voyage now was the sole expectation. Whereupon, the same night when they should set away, they opened a stronk barred Chest of their Fathers, whence they tooke great store of Gold and costly jewels, wherewith escaping secretly out of the house; they came to the place where their Lovers attended for them, and going all aboord the Pinnace, the windes were so furtherous to them, that without touching any where, the night following, they arrived at Geneway. There being out of perill or pursuit, they all knit the knot of holy wedlocke, and then freely enjoyed their long wished desires, from whence setting saile againe, and being well furnished with all things wanting passing on from Port to Port, at the end of eight dayes, they landed in Candie, not meeting with any impeachment on the way. Determining there to spend their daies, first they provided themselves of goodly land in the Countrey, and then of beautifull dwelling houses in the City, with al due furnishments belonging to them, and Families well beseeming such worthy Gentlemen, and all delights else for their dally recreations, inviting their. Neighbours, and they them againe in loving manner; so that no lovers could wish to live in more ample contentment.
Passing on their time in this height of felicity, and not crossed by any sinister accidents, it came to passe (as often wee may obserye in the like occasions, that although delights doe most especially please us, yet they breede surfet, when they swell too over-great in abundance) that Restagnone, who most deerely affected his faire Ninetta, and had her now in his free possession, without any perill of loosing her: grew now also to bee weary of her, and consequently, to faile in those familiar performances, which formerly had passed betweene them. For, being one day invited to a Banket, hee saw there a beautifull Gentlewoman of that Countrey, whose perfections pleasing him beyond all comparison: he laboured (by painfull pursuite) to win his purpose; and meeting with her in divers private places, grew prodigall in his expences upon her. This could not be so closely carried, but being seene and observed by Ninetta, she became possessed with such extreame jealousie, that hee could not doe any thing whatsoever, but immediately she had knowledge of it: which fire, growing to a flame in her, her patience became extreamely provoked, urging rough and rude speeches from her to him, and daily tormenting him beyond power of sufferance.
As the enjoying of any thing in too much plenty, makes it appeare irkesome and loathing to us, and the deniall of our desires, do more and more whet on the appetite: even so did the angry spleen of Ninetta proceed on in violence, against this new commenced love of Restagnone. For, in succession of time, whether he enjoyed the embracements of his new Mistresse, or no: yet Ninetta (by sinister reports, but much more through her owne jealous imaginations) held it for infallible, and to bee most certaine. Heereupon, she fell into an extreame melancholly, which melancholly begat implacable fury, and (consequently) such contemptible disdaine, as converted her formerly kindely love to Restagnone, into Most cruell and bloudie hatred; yea, and so strangely was reason or respect confounded in her, as no revenge else but speed death, might satisfie the wrongs shee imagined to receive by Restagnone and his Minion.
Upon enquiry, by what meanes shee might best compasse her bloody intention, she grew acquainted with a Grecian woman, and wonderfully expert in the compounding of poysons, whom shee so perswaded by gifts and bounteous promises, that at the length shee prevayled with her. A deadly water was distilled by her, which (without any other counsell to the contrary) on a day when Restagnone had his blood somewhat over-heated, and little dreamed on any such Treason conspired against him by his Wife, shee caused him to drinke a great draught thereof, under pretence, that it was a most soveraigne and cordiall water; but such was the powerfull operation thereof, that the very next morning, Restagnone was found to bee dead in his bed. When his death was understoode by Folco, Hugnetto, and their Wives, and not knowing how hee came to bee thus empoysoned (because their Sister seemed to bemoane his sodaine death, with as apparant shewes of mourning, as they could possibly expresse) they buried him very honourably, and so all suspition ceased.
But as Fortune is infinite in her fagaries, never acting disaster so closely, but as cunningly discovereth it againe: so it came to passe, that within a few dayes following, the Grecian Woman that had delivered the poyson to Ninetta, for such another deede of damnation, was apprehended even in the action. And being put upon he tortures, among many other horrid villanies her committed, she confessed the empoysoning of Restagnone, and every particle thereto appertaining. Whereupon, the Duke of Candie, without any noyse or publication, setting a strong guard (in the night time) about the house of Folco, where Ninetta then was lodged; there sodainly they seized on her, and upon examination, in maintenance of desperate revenge, voluntarily confessed the fact, and what else concerned the occasion of his death, by the wrongs which he had offered her.
Folco and Hugnetto understanding secretly, both from the Duke, and other intimate friends, what was the reason of Ninettaes apprehension, which was not a little displeasing to them, labored by all their best paines and endeavour, to worke such meanes with the Duke, that her life might not perish by fire, although she had most justly deserved it; but all theyr attempts proved to no effect, because the Duke had concluded to execute justice.
Heere you are to observe, that Magdalena (beeing a very beautifull Woman, yong, and in the choisest flower of her time:) had often before bene solicited by the Duke, to entertaine his love and kindnesse: whereto by no meanes she would listen or give consent. And being now most earnestly importuned by her for the safetie of her Sisters life, hee tooke hold on this her dayly suite to him, and in private told her, that if she was so desirous of Ninettaes life: it lay in her power to obtain it, by granting him the fruition of her love. She apparantly perceiving that Ninetta was not likely to live, but by the prostitution of her chaste honour, which she preferred before the losse of her owne life, or her sisters, concluded to let her dye, rather then run into any such disgrace. But having an excellent ingenious wit, quicke, and apprehensive in perillous occasions, she intended now to make a triall of overreaching the lascivious Duke in his wanton purpose, and yet to be assured of her sisters life, without any blemish to her reputation.
Soliciting him still as shee was wont to doe, this promise passed from her to him, that when Ninetta was delivered out of prison, and in safetie at home in her house: hee should resort thither in some queint disguise, and enjoy his long expected desire; but untill then she would not yeeld. So violent was the Duke in the prosecution of his purpose, that under colour of altering the manner of Ninettaes death, not suffering her to bee consumed by fire, but to be drowned, according to a custome observed there long time, and at the importunity of her Sister Magdalena, in the still silence of the night, Ninetta was conveyed into a sacke, and sent in that manner to the House of Folco, the Duke following soone after, to challenge her promise.
Magdalena, having acquainted her Husband with her vertuous intention, for preserving her Sisters life, and disappointing the Duke in his wicked desire; was as contrary to her true meaning in this case, as Ninetta had formerly beene adverse to Restagnone, onely being over-ruled likewise by jealousie, and perswaded in his rash opinion, that the Duke had already dishonoured Magdalena, otherwise, he would not have delivered Ninetta out of prison. Mad fury gave further fire to this unmanly perswasion, and nothing will now quench this but the life of poore Magdalena, suddenly sacrificed in the rescue of her Sister, such a divell is anger, when the understandings bright eye is thereby abused. No credit might bee given to her womanly protestations, or any thing seeme to alter his bloody purpose; but, having slaine Magdalena with his Poniard (notwithstanding her teares and humble entreaties) he ranne in haste to Ninettaes Chamber, she not dreaming on any such desperate accident, and to her he used these dissembling speeches.
Sister (quoth he) my wife hath advised, that I should speedily convey you hence, as fearing the renewing of the Dukes fury, and your falling againe into the hands of justice: I have a Barke readily prepared for you, and your life being secured, it is all that she and I doe most desire. Ninetta being fearefull, and no way distrusting what he had saide; in thankfull allowance of her Sisters care, and curteous tender of his so ready service; departed thence presently with him, not taking any farewell of her other Sister and her Husband. To the Seashore they came, very weakely provided of monies to defray their charges, and getting aboard the Barke, directed their course themselves knew not whether.
The amorous Duke in his disguise, having long daunced attendance at Folcoes doore, and no admittance of his entrance; angerly returned backe to his Court, protesting severe revenge on Magdalena, if she gave him not the better satisfaction, to cleare her from thus basely abusing him. On the morrow morning, when Magdalena was found murthered in her Chamber, and tidings thereof carried to the Duke; present search was made for the bloody offendor, but Folco being fled and gone with Ninetta; some there were, who bearing deadly hatred to Hugnetto, incensed the Duke against him and his wife, as supposing them to be guilty of Magdalenaes death. He being thereto very easily perswaded, in regard of his immoderate love to the slaine Gentlewoman; went himselfe in person (attended on by his Guard) to Hugnettoes House, where both he and his wife were seized as prisoners.
These newes were very strange to them, and their imprisonment as unwelcome; and although they were truly inocent, either in knowledge of the horrid fact, or the departure of Folco with Ninetta: yet being unable to endure the tortures extremity, they made themselves culpable by confession, and that they had a hand with Folco in the murder of Magdalena. Upon this their forced confession, and sentence of death pronounced on them by the Duke himselfe; before the day appointed for their publike execution, by great summes of money, which they had closely hid in their House, to serve when any urgent extremitie should happen to them; they corrupted their keepers, and before any intelligence could be had of their flight, they escaped by Sea to Rhodes, where they lived afterward in great distresse and misery. The just vengeance of Heaven followed after Folco and Ninetta, he for murthering his honest wife, and she for poysoning her offending Husband: for being beaten a long while on the Seas, by tempestuous stormes and weather, and not admitted landing in any Port or creeke; they were driven backe on the Coast of Candie againe, where being apprehended, and brought to the City before the Duke, they confessed their several notorious offences, and ended their loathed lives in one fire together.
Thus the idle and loose love of Restagnone, with the franticke rage and jealousie of Ninetta and Folco, overturned all their long continued happinesse, and threw a disastrous ending on them all.
Madam Lauretta having concluded her Novel, and the company complaining on Lovers misfortunes, some blaming the angry and jealous fury of Ninetta, and every one delivering their severall opinions; the King, as awaking out of a passionate perplexity, exalted his lookes, giving a signe to Madame Elisa, that shee should follow next in order, whereto she obeying, began in this manner. I have heard (Gracious Ladies, quoth she) of many people, who are verily perswaded, that loves arrowes, never wound any body, but onely by the eyes lookes and gazes, mocking and scorning such as maintaine that men may fall in love by hearing onely. Wherein (beleeve me) they are greatly deceived, as will appeare by a Novell which I must now relate unto you, and wherein you shall plainely perceive, that not onely fame or report is as prevailing as sight; but also hath conducted divers, to a wretched and miserable ending of their lives.
Gulielmo the second, King of Sicilie, according as the Sicilian Chronicles record, had two children, the one a sonne, named Don Rogero, and the other a daughter, called Madame Constance. The saide Rogero died before his Father, leaving a sonne behind him, named Gerbino, who, with much care and cost, was brought up by his Grand-father, proving to be a very goodly Prince, and wonderously esteemed for his great valour and humanity. His fame could not containe it selfe, within the bounds or limits of Sicilie onely, but being published very prodigally, in many parts of the world beside, flourished with no meane commendations throughout all Barbarie, which in those dayes was tributary to the King of Sicilie. Among other persons, deserving most to be respected, the renowned vertues, and affability of this gallant Prince Gerbino, was understood by the beautious Daughter to the King of Tunis, who by such as bad seene her, was reputed to be one of the rarest creatures, the best conditioned, and of the truest noble spirit, that ever Nature framed in her very choicest pride of Art.
Of famous, vertuous, and worthy men, it was continually her cheefest delight to heare, and the admired actions of valiant Gerbino, reported to her by many singular discoursers: such as could best describe him, with language answerable to his due deservings, won such honourable entertainment in her understanding soule, that they were most affectionately pleasing to her, and in recapitulating (over and over againe) his manifold and heroycall perfections; meere speech made her extreamely amorous of him, nor willingly would she lend an eare to any other discourse, but that which tended to his honour and advancement.
On the other side, the fame of her incomparable beauty, with addition of her other infinite singularities beside; as the World had given eare to innumberlesse places, so Sicilie came at length acquainted therewith, in such flowing manner, as was truly answerable to her merit. Nor seemed this as a bare babling rumour, in the Princely hearing of royall Gerbino; but was embraced with such a reall apprehension, and the entire probation of a true understanding: that he was no lesse enflamed with noble affection towards her, then she expressed the like in vertuous opinion of him. Wherefore, awaiting such convenient opportunity, when he might entreat license of his Grand-father, for his owne going to Thunis, under colour of some honourable occasion, for the earnest desire he had to see her: he gave charge to some of his especiall friends (whose affaires required their presence in those parts) to let the Princesse understand, in such secret manner as best they could devise, what noble affection he bare unto her, devoting himselfe onely to her service.
One of his chosen friends thus put in trust, being a jeweller, a man of singular discretion, and often resorting to Ladies for sight of his jewels, winning like admittance to the Princesse: related at large unto her, the honourable affection of Gerbino, with full tender of his person to her service, and that she onely was to dispose of him. Both the message and the messenger, were most graciously welcome to her, and flaming in the selfe-same affection towards him: as a testimony thereof, one of the very choisest Jewels which she bought of him, she sent by him to the Prince Gerbino, it being received by him with such joy and contentment, as nothing in the world could be more pleasing to him. So that afterward, by the trusty carriage of this Jeweller, many Letters and Love-tokens passed betweene them, each being as highly pleased with this poore, yet happy kind of entercourse, as if they had seene and conversed with one another.
Matters proceeding on in this manner, and continuing longer then their love-sick passions easily could permit, yet neither being able to finde out any other meanes of helpe; it fortuned that the King of Thunis promised his daughter in marriage to the King of Granada, whereat she grew exceedingly sorrowfull, perceiving, that not onely she should be sent further off, by a large distance of way from her friend, but also be deprived utterly, of all hope ever to enjoy him. And if she could have devised any meanes, either by secret flight from her Father, or any way else to further her intention, she would have adventured it for the Princes sake. Gerbino in like maner bearing of this purposed marriage, lived in a hell of torments, consulting oftentimes with his soule, how he might be possessed of her by power, when she should be sent by Sea to her husband, or private stealing her away from her Fathers Court before: with these and infinite other thoughts, was he incessantly afflicted, both day and night.
By some unhappy accident or other, the King of Thunis heard of this their secret love, as also of Gerbinoes purposed policy to surprize her, and how likely he was to effect it, in regard of his manly valour, and store of stout friends to assist him. Hereupon, when the time was come, that he would convey his daughter thence to her marriage, and fearing to be prevented by Gerbino: he sent to the King of Sicilie, to let him understand his determination, craving safe conduct from him, without impeachment of Gerbino, or any one else, untill such time as his intent was accomplished. King Gulielmo being aged, and never acquainted with the affectiotiate proceedings of Gerbino, nor any doubtfull reason to urge this security from him, in a case convenient to be granted: yeelded the sooner thereto right willingly, and as a signall of his honourable meaning, he sent him his royall Glove, with a full confirmation for his safe conduct.
No sooner were these Princely assurances received, but a goodly ship was prepared in the Port of Carthagena, well furnished with all thinges thereto belonging, for the sending his daughter to the King of Granada, waiting for nothing else but best favouring windes. The young Princesse, who understood and saw all this great preparation; secretly sent a servant of hers to Palermo, giving him especiall charge, on her behalfe, to salute the Prince Gerbino, and to tell him that (within few dayes) she must be transported to Granada. And now opportunity gave faire and free meanes, to let the world know, whether he were a man of that magnanimous spirit, or no, as generall opinion had formerly conceived of him, and whether he affected her so firmely, as by many close messages he had assured her. He who had the charge of this embassie, effectually performed it, and then returned backe to Thunis.
The Prince Gerbino, having heard this message from his divine Mistresse, and knowing also, that the Kin his Grandfather, had past his safe conduct to the King of Thunis, for peaceable passage through his Seas: was at his wits end, in this urgent necessity, what might best bee done. Notwithstanding, moved by the setled constancy of his plighted Love, and the speeches delivered to him by the messenger from the Princesse: to shew himselfe a man endued with courage, he departed thence unto Messina, where he made ready two speedy gallies, and fitting them with men of valiant disposition, set away to Sardignia, as making full account, that the Ship which carried the Princesse, must come along that Coast. Nor was his expectation therein deceived: for, within few dayes after, the Ship (not over-swiftly winded) come sailing neere to the place where they attended for her arrivall; whereof Gerbino had no sooner gotten a sight, but to animate the resolutes which were in his company, thus he spake.
Gentlemen, if you be those men of valour, as heretofore you have bene reputed, I am perswaded, that there are some among you, who either formerly have, or now instantly do feele, the all-commanding power of Love, without which (as I thinke) there is not any mortall man, that can have any goodnesse- or vertue dwelling in him. Wherefore, if ever you have bene amorously affected, or presently have any apprehension thereof, you shall the more easily Judge of what I now aime at. True it is, that I do love, and love hath guided me to be comforted, and manfully assisted by you, because in yonder Ship, which you see commeth on so gently under saile (even as if she offered her selfe to be our prize) not onely is the Jewell which I most esteeme, but also mighty and unvalewable treasure, to be wonne without any difficult labour, or hazard of a dangerous fight, you being men of such undauntable courage. In the honour of which victory, I covet not any part or parcell, but onely a Ladie, for whose sake I have undertaken these Armes, and freely give you all the rest contained in the Ship. Let us set on them, Gentlemen, and my deerest friends; couragiously let us assaile the ship, you see how the wind favours us, and (questionlesse) in so good an action, Fortune will not faile us.
Gerbino needed not to have spoken so much, in perswading them to seize so rich a booty, because the men of Messina were naturally addicted to spoile and rapine: and before the Prince began his Oration, they had concluded to make the ship their purchase. Wherefore, giving a lowde shout, according to their Country manner, and commanding their Trumpets to sound chearfully, they rowed on a maine with their Oares, and (in meere despight) set upon the ship. But before the Gallies could come neere her, they that had the charge and managing of her, perceyving with what speede they made towards them, and no likely meanes of escaping from them, resolvedly they stood upon their best defence, for now it was no time to be slothfull. The Prince being come neere to the Ship, commanded that the Patrones should come to him, except they would adventure the fight. When the Sarazines were thereof advertised, and understood also what he demanded, they returned answer: That their motion and proceeding in this manner, was both against Law and plighted faith, which was promised by the King of Sicilie, for their safe passage through the Sea by no meanes to be mollested or assailed. In testimony whereof, they shewed his Glove, avouching moreover, that neither by force (or otherwise) they would yeelde, or deliver him any thing which they had aboorde their Ship.
Gerbino espying his gracious Mistresse on the Ships decke, and she appearing to be farre more beautifull then Fame had made relation of her: being much more enflamed now, then formerly he had bin, replyed thus when they shewed the Glove. We have (quoth he) no Faulcon here now, to be humbled at the sight of your Glove: and therefore, if you will not deliver the Lady, prepare your selves for fight, for we must have her whether you will or no. Hereupon, they began to let flie (on both sides) their Darts and arrowes, with stones sent in violent sort from their slings, thus continuing the fight a long while, to very great harme on either side. At the length, Gerbino perceiving, that small benefit would redound to him, if he did not undertake some other kinde of course: he tooke a small Pinnace, which purposely he brought with him from Sardignia, and setting it on a flaming fire, conveyed it (by the Gallies help) close to the ship. The Sarazines much amazed thereat, and evidently perceiving, that either they must yeeld or dye; brought their Kings daughter to the prow of the ship, most greevously weeping and wringing her hands. Then calling Gerbino, to let him behold their resolution, there they slew hir before his face, and afterward, throwing her body into the Sea, saide: Take her, there we give her to thee, according to our bounden duty, and as thy perjury hath justly deserved.
This sight was not a little greevous to the Prince Gerbino, who madded now with this their monstrous cruelty, and not caring what became of his owne life, having lost her for whom he onely desired to live: not dreading their Darts, Arrowes, slinged stones, or what violence els they could use against him; he leapt aboord their ship, in despight of all that durst resist him, behaving himselfe there like a hunger-starved Lyon, when he enters among a heard of beasts, tearing their carkasses in pieces both with his teeth and pawes. Such was the extreme fury of this poore Prince, not sparing the life of any one, that durst appeare in his presence; so that what with the bloody slaughter, and violence of the fires encreasing in the Ship; the Mariners got such wealth as possibly they could save, and suffering the Sea to swallow the rest, Gerbino returned unto his Gallies againe, nothing proud of this so ill-gotten victory.
Afterward, having recovered the Princesse dead body out of the Sea, and enbalmed it with sighes and teares: he returned backe into Sicilie, where he caused it to be most honourably buried, in a little Island, named Ustica, face to face confronting Trapanum. The King of Thunis hearing these disastrous Newes, sent his Ambassadors (habited in sad mourning) to the aged King of Sicilie, complaining of his faith broken with him, and how the accident had falne out. Age being sodainly incited to anger, and the King extreamly offended at this injury, seeing no way whereby to deny him justice, it being urged so instantly by the Ambassadors: caused Gerbino to be apprehended, and he himselfe (in regard that none of his Lords and Barons would therein assist him, but laboured to divert him by their earnest importunity) pronounced the sentence of death on the Prince, and commanded to have him beheaded in his presence; affecting rather, to dye without an heire, then to be thought a King voyde of justice. So these two unfortunate Lovers, never enjoyed the very least benefite of their long wished desires: ended both their lives in violent manner.[ Hide Fourth Novell ]
The Novell of Madame Eliza being finished, and some-what commended by the King, in regard of the Tragicall conclusion; Philomena was enjoyned to proceede next with her discourse. She being overcome with much compassion, for the hard Fortunes of Noble Gerbino, and his beautifull Princesse, after an extreame and vehement sighe, thus she spake. My Tale (worthy Ladies) extendeth not to persons of so high birth or quality, as they were of whom Madame Eliza gave you relation: yet (peradventure) it may prove to be no lesse pittifull. And now I remember my selfe, Messina so lately spoken of, is the place where this accident also happened.
In Messina there dwelt three young men, Brethren, and Merchants by their common profession, who becomming very rich by the death of their Father, lived in very good fame and repute. Their Father was of San Gemignano, and they had a Sister named Isabella, young, beautifull, and well conditioned; who upon some occasion, as yet remained unmarried. A proper youth, being a Gentleman borne in Pisa, and named Lorenzo, as a trusty factor or servant, had the managing of the brethrens businesse and affaires. This Lorenzo being of comely personage, affable, and excellent in his behaviour, grew so gracious in the eyes of Isabella, that she affoorded him many very respective lookes, yea, kindnesses of no common quality. Which Lorenzo taking notice of, and observing by degrees from time to time, gave over all other beauties in the City, which might allure any affection from him, and onely fixed his heart on her, so that their love grew to a mutuall embracing, both equally respecting one another, and entertaining kindnesses, as occasion gave leave.
Long time continued this amorous league: of love, yet not so cunningly concealed, but at the length, the secret meeting of Lorenzo, and Isabella, to ease their poore soul of Loves oppressions, was discovered by the eldest of the Brethren, unknowne to them who were thus betrayed. He being a man of great discretion, although this sight was highly displeasing to him: yet notwithstanding, he kept it to himselfe till the next morning, labouring his braine what might best be done in so urgent a case. When day was come, he resorted to his other Brethren, and told them what he had seene in the time past, betweene their sister and Lorenzo.
Many deliberations passed on in this case; but after all, thus they concluded together, to let it proceede on with patient that no scandall might ensue to them, or their Sister, no evill acte being (as yet) committed. And seeming, as if they knew not of their love, had a wary eye still upon her secret walkes, awaiting for some convenient time, when without their owne prejudice, or Isabellaes knowledge, they might safely breake off this their stolne love, which was altogether against their liking. So, shewing no worse countenance to Lorenzo, then formerly they had done, but imploying and conversing with him in kinde manner; it fortuned, that riding (all three) to recreate themselves out of the City, they tooke Lorenzo in their company, and when they were come to a solitarie place, such as best suited with their vile purpose: they ran sodainly upon Lorenzo, slew him, and afterward enterred his body, where hardly it could be discovered by any one. Then they returned backe to Messina, and gave it forth (as a credible report) that they had sent him abroad about their affaires, as formerly they were wont to do: which every one verily beleeved, because they knew no reason why they should conceite any otherwise.
Isabella, living in expectation of his returne, and perceiving his stay to her was so offensive long: made many demands to her Brethren, into what parts they had sent him, that his tarrying was so quite from all wonted course. Such was her importunate speeches to them, that they taking it very discontentedly, one of them returned her this frowning answer. What is your meaning Sister, by so many questionings after Lorenzo? What urgent affaires have you with him, that makes you so impatient upon his absence? If hereafter you make any more demands for him, we shall shape you such a reply, as will be but little to your liking. At these harsh words, Isabella fell into abundance of teares, where-among she mingled many sighes and groanes, such as were able to overthrow a farre stronger constitution: so that, being full of feare and dismay, yet no way distrusting her brethrens cruell deede; she durst not question any more after him.
In the silence of darke night, as she lay afflicted in her bed, oftentimes would she call for Lorenzo, entreating his speedy returning to her: And then againe, as if he had bene present with her, she checkt and reproved him for his so long absence. One night amongst the rest, she being growen almost hopelesse, of ever seeing him againe, having a long while wept and greevously lamented; her senses and faculties utterly spent and tired, that she could not utter any more complaints, she fell into a trance or sleepe; and dreamed, that the ghost of Lorenzo appeared unto her, in torne and unbefitting garments, his lookes pale, meager, and staring: and (as she thought) thus spake to her. My deere love Isabella, thou dost nothing but torment thy selfe, with calling on me, accusing me for overlong tarrying from thee: I am come therefore to let thee know, that thou canst not enjoy my company any more, because the very same day when last thou sawest me, thy brethren most bloodily murthered me. And acquainting her with the place where they had buried his mangled body: hee strictly charged her, not to call him at any time afterward, and so vanished away.
The young Damosell awaking, and giving some credite to her Vision, sighed and wept exceedingly; and after she was risen in the morning, not daring to say any thing to her brethren, she resolutely determined, to go see the place formerly appointed her, onely to make triall, if that which she seemed to see in her sleepe, should carry any likelyhood of truth. Having obtained favour of her brethren, to ride a dayes journey ney the City, in company of her trusty Nurse, who long time had attended on her in the house, and knew the secret passages of her love: they rode directly to the designed place, which being covered with some store of dried leaves, and more deeply sunke then any other part of the ground therabout, they digged not farre, but they found the body of murthered Lorenzo, as yet very little corrupted or impaired, and then perceived the truth of her vision.
Wisedome and government so much prevailed with her, as to instruct her soule, that her teares spent there, were meerley fruitelesse and in vaine, neither did the time require any long tarrying there. Gladly would she have carried the whole body with her, secretly to bestow honourable enterment on it, but it exceeded the compasse of her ability. Wherefore, in regard she could not have all, yet she would be. possessed of a part, and having brought a keene razor with her, by helpe of the Nurse, she divided the head from the body, and wrapped it up in a Napkin, which the Nurse conveyed into her lap, and then laide the body in the ground againe. Thus being undiscovered by any, they departed thence, and arrived at home in convenient time, where being alone by themselves in the Chamber: she washed the head over and over with her teares, and bestowed infinite kisses thereon.
Not long after, the Nurse having brought her a large earthen pot, such as we use to set Basile, Marjerom, Flowers, or other sweet hearbes in, and shrouding the head in a silken Scarfe, put it into the pot, covering it with earth, and planting divers rootes of excellent Basile therein, which she never watered, but either with her teares, Rose water, or water distilled from the Flowers of Oranges. This pot she used continually to sitte by, either in her chamber, or any where else: for she carried it alwaies with her, sighing and breathing foorth sad complaints thereto, even as if they had beene uttered to her Lorenzo, and day by day this was her continuall exercise, to the no meane admiration of her bretheren, and many other friends that beheld her.
So long she held on in this mourning manner, that, what by the continuall watering of the Basile, and putrifaction of the head, so buried in the pot of earth; it grew very flourishing, and most odorifferous to such as scented it, that as no other Basile could possibly yeeld so sweete a savour. The neighbours noting this behaviour in her, observing the long continuance thereof, how much her bright beauty was defaced, and the eyes sunke into her head by incessant weeping, made many kinde and friendly motions, to understand the reason of her so violent oppressions; but could not by any meanes prevaile with her, or win any discovery by her Nurse, so faithfull was she in secrecie to her. Her brethren also waxed wearie of this carriage in her; and having very often reproved her for it, without any other alteration in her: at length, they closely stole away the potte of Basile from her, for which she made infinite wofull lamentations, earnestly entreating to have it restored againe, avouching that she could not live without it.
Perceiving that she could not have the pot againe, she fell into an extreame sicknesse, occasioned onely by her ceaselesse weeping: and never urged she to have any thing, but the restoring of her Basile pot. Her brethren grew greatly amazed thereat, because she never called for ought else beside; and thereupon were very desirous to ransacke the pot to the very bottome. Having emptied out all the earth, they found the Scarfe of silke, wherein the head of Lorenzo was wrapped; which was (as yet) not so much consumed, but by the lockes of haire, they knew it to be Lorenzoes head, whereat they became confounded with amazement.
Fearing least their offence might come to open publication, they buried it very secretly; and, before any could take notice thereof, they departed from Messina, and went to dwell in Naples, Isabella crying and calling still for her pot of Basile, being unable to give over mourning, dyed within a few dayes after. Thus have you heard the hard fate of poore Lorenzo and his Isabella. Within no long while after, when this accident came to be publikely knowne, an excellent ditty was composed thereof beginning thus.
Cruell and unkinde was the Christian?
That robd me of my Basiles blisse, etc.
The Novell which Madam Philomena had so graciously related, was highly pleasing unto the other Ladies; because they had oftentimes heard the Song, without knowing who made it or upon what occasion it was composed. But when the King saw that the Tale was ended: he commanded Pamphilus, that he should follow in his due course: whereupon he spake thus.
The dreame already recounted in the last Novell, doth minister matter to me, to make report of another Tale, wherein mention is made of two severall dreames; which divined as well what was to ensue, as the other did what had hapned before. And no sooner were they finished in the relation, by both the parties which had formerly dreampt them, but the effects of both as soddainly followed.
Worthy Ladies, I am sure it is not unknowne to you, that it is, and hath bene a generall passion, to all men and women living, to see divers and sundry things while they are sleeping. And although (to the sleeper) they seeme most certaine, so that when he awaketh, he judgeth the trueth of some, the likelyhood of others, and some beyond all possibility of truth: yet notwithstanding, many dreames have bene observed to happen; and very strangely have come to passe. And this hath bene a grounded reason for some men, to give as great credit to such things as they see sleeping, as they do to others usually waking. So that, according unto their dreames, and as they make construction of them, that are sadly distasted, or merrily pleased, even as (by them) they either feare or hope. On the contrary, there are some, who will not credit any dreame whatsoever, untill they be falne into the very same danger which formerly they saw, and most evidently in their sleepe.
I meane not to commend either the one or other, because they do not alwayes fall out to be true; neither are they at all times lyars. Now, that they prove not all to be true, we can best testifie to our selves. And that they are not alwayes lyars, hath already sufficiently bene manifested, by the Discourse of Madame Philomena, and as you shall perceive by mine owne, which next commeth in order to salute you. Wherefore, I am of this opinion, that in matters of good life, and performing honest actions; no dreame is to be feared presaging the contrary, neither are good works any way to be hindred by them. Likewise, in matters of bad and wicked quality, although our dreames may appeare favourable to us, and our visions flatter us with prosperous successe: yet let us give no credence unto the best, nor addict our minds to them of contrary Nature. And now we wil. proceed to our Novell.
In the Citie of Brescia, there lived somtime a Gentleman, named Messer Negro da Ponte Cararo, who (among many other children) had a daughter called Andreana, yong, and beautifull, but as yet unmarried. It fortuned, that shee fell in love with a Neighbour, named Gabriello; a comely young Gentleman, of affable complexion, and graciously conditioned. Which love was (with like kindenesse) welcommed and entertained by him; and by the furtherance of her Chamber-maide, it was so cunningly carried, that in the Garden belonging to Andreanaes Father, she had many meetings with her Gabriello. And solemne vowes being mutually passed betweene them, that nothing but death could alter their affection: by such ceremonious words as are used in marriage, they maried themselves secretly together, and continued their stolne chaste pleasures with equall contentment to them both.
It came to passe, that Andreana sleeping in her bed, dreamed, that shee met with Gabriello in the Garden, where they both embracing lovingly together, she seemed to see a thing blacke and terrible, which sodainely issued forth of his body, but the shape therof she could not comprehend. It rudely seized upon Gabriello, and in despight of her utmost strength, with incredible force snatched him out of her armes, and sinking with him into the earth, they never after did see one another. Whereupon, overcome with extremity of greefe and sorrow, presently she awaked, being then not a little joyfull, that she found no such matter as she feared, yet continued very doubtfull of her dreame. In regard whereof, Gabriello being desirous to visite her the night following: she laboured very diligently to hinder his comming to her; yet knowing his loyall affection toward her, and fearing least he should grow suspitious of some other matter, she welcommed him into the Garden, where gathering both white and Damaske Roses (according to the nature of the season) at length, they sate downe by a very goodly Fountaine, which stoode in the middest of the Garden.
After some small familiar Discourse passing betweene them, Gabriello demanded of her, upon what occasion shee denyed his comming thither the night before, and by such a sodaine unexpected admonition? Andreana told him, that it was in regard of a horrid Dreame, wherewith her soule was perplexed the precedent night, and doubt what might ensue thereon. Gabriello hearing this, began to smile, affirming to her, that it was an especial note of folly, to give any credit to idle dreames: because (oftentimes) they are caused by excesse of feeding, and continually are observed to be meere lyes. For (quoth he) if I had any superstitious beleefe of Dreames, I should not then have come hither now: yet not so much as being dismayed by your dreame, but for another of mine owne, which I am the more willing to acquaint you withall.
Me thought, I was in a goodly delightfull Forrest, in the Noble exercise of sportfull hunting, and became there possessed of a young Hinde, the verie loveliest and most pleasing beast that was ever seene. It seemed to be as white as snow, and grew (in a short while) so familiar with me, that by no meanes it would forsake mee. I could not but accept this rare kindnes in the beast, and fearing least I should loose it, I put a collar of Gold about the necke thereof, and fastned it into a chaine of Gold also, which then I held strongly in my hand. The blind afterward couched downe by me, laying his head mildely in my lap; and on the sodaine, a black Grey-hound bitch came rushing; on us (but whence, or how, I could not imagine) seeming halfe hunger-starved, and very ugly to looke upon. At me she made her full carreere, without any power in me of resistance, and putting her mouth into the left side of my bosom, griped it so mainly with her teeth, that (me thought) I felt my heart quite bitten through, and she tugged on still, to take it wholly away from me; by which imagined paine and anguish I felt, instantly I awaked. Laying then my hand upon my side, to know whether any such harme had befalne me, or no, and finding none, I smiled at mine owne folly, in making such a frivolous and idle search. What can be said then in these or the like cases?
Divers times I have had as ill seeming dreames, yea, and much more to be feared, yet never any thing hurtfull to me, followed thereon; and therefore I have alwayes made the lesse account of them.
The young Maiden, who was still dismayed by her owne Dreame, became much more afflicted in her minde, when shee had heard this other reported by Gabriello: but yet to give him no occasion of distast, she bare it out in the best manner she could devise to doe. And albeit they spent the time in much pleasing discourse, maintained with infinite sweete kisses on either side: yet was she still suspitious, but knew not whereof; fixing her eyes oftentimes upon his face, and throwing strange lookes to all parts of the Garden, to catch hold on any such blacke ugly sight, whereof he had formerly made description to her. As thus she continued in these afflicting feares, it fortuned, that Gabriello sodainly breathing forth a very vehement sighe, and throwing his armes fast about her, said: O helpe me dear Love, or else I dye; and, in speaking the words, fell downe upon the ground. Which the yong Damosel perceiving, and drawing him into her lappe, weeping saide: Alas sweete Friend, What paine doest thou feele?
Gabriello answered not one word, but being in an exceeding sweate, without any ability of drawing breath, very soon after gave up the ghost. How greevous this strange accident was to poore Andreana, who loved him as deerely as her owne life: you that have felt loves tormenting afflictions, can more easily conceive, then I relate. Wringing her hands, and weeping incessantly, calling him, rubbing his temples, and using all likely meanes to reduce life: she found all her labour to be spent in vaine, because he was starke dead indeed, and every part of his body as cold as ice: whereupon, she was in such wofull extremity, that she knew not what to do, or say. All about the Garden she went weeping, in infinite feares and distraction in soule, calling for her Chamber maid, the only secret friend to their stolne meetings, and told her the occasion of this sodaine sorrow. After they had sighed and mourned awhile, over the dead body of Gabriello, Andreana in this manner spake to her maide.
Seeing Fortune hath thus bereft me of my Love, mine owne life must needs be hatefull to me: but before I offer any violence to my selfe, let us devise some convenient meanes, as may both preserve mine honour from any touch or scandall, and conceale the secret love passing betweene us: but yet in such honest sort, that this body (whose blessed soule hath too soone forsaken it) may be honourably enterred. Whereto her Mayde thus answered: Mistresse, never talke of doing any violence to your selfe, because by such a blacke and dismall deed, as you have lost his kind company here in this life, so shall you never more see him in the other world: for immediately you sinke downe to hell, which foule place cannot be a receptacle for his faire soule, that was endued with so many singular vertues. Wherefore, I hold it farre better for you, to comfort your selfe by all good meanes, and with the power of fervent praier, to fight against all desperate intruding passions, as a truly vertuous minde ought to doe. Now, as concerning his enterrement, the meanes is readily prepared for you here in this Garden, where never he hath bene seene by any, or his resorting hither knowne, but onely to our selves. If you will not consent to have it so, let you and I convey his body hence, and leave it in such an apt place, where it may be found to morrow morning: and being then carried to his owne house, his friends and kindred will give it honest buriall.
Andreana, although her soule was extraordinarily sorrowfull, and teares flowed abundantly from her eyes; yet she listned attentively to hir maids counsell; allowing her first advice against desperation, to be truly good; but to the rest thus she replyed. God forbid (quoth she) that I should suffer so deere a loving friend, as he hath alwayes shewed himselfe to me; nay, which is much more, my husband; by sacred and solemne vowes passed betweene us, to be put into the ground basely, and like a dog, or else to be left in the open street. He hath had the sacrifice of my virgin teares, and if I can prevaile, he shall have some of his kindreds, as I have instantly devised, what (in this hard case) is best to be done. Forthwith she sent the maid to her Chamber, for divers elles of white Damaske lying in her Chest, which when she had brought, they spread it abroad on the grasse, even in the manner of a winding sheete, and therein wrapped the body of Gabriello, with a faire wrought pillow under his head, having first (with their teares) closed his mouth and eyes, and placed a Chaplet of Flowers on his head, covering the whole shrowd over in the same manner; which being done, thus she spake to her Maid.
The doore of his owne house is not farre hence, and thither (betweene us two) he may be easily caried, even in this maner as we have adorned him; where leaving him in his owne Porch, we may returne back before it be day: and although it will be a sad sight to his friends, yet because he dyed in mine armes, and we being so well discharged of the body, it will be a little comfort to me. When she had ended these words, which were not uttered without infinite teares, the maid entreated her to make hast, because the night swiftly passed on. At last, she remembred the Ring on her finger, wherewith Gabriello had solemnly espoused her, and opening the shroud againe, she put it on his finger, saying; My deere and loving husband, if thy soule can see my teares, or any understanding do remaine in thy body, being thus untimely taken from me: receive the latest guift thou gavest me, as a pledge of our solemne and spotlesse marriage. So, making up the shroud againe as it should be, and conveighing it closely out of the Garden, they went on along with it, towardes his dwelling house.
As thus they passed along, it fortuned, that they were met and taken by the Guard or Watch belonging to the Potestate, who had bin so late abroad, about very earnest and important businesse. Andreana, desiring more the dead mans company, then theirs whom she had thus met withall, boldly spake thus to them. I know who and what you are, and can tell my selfe, that to offer flight will nothing availe me: wherfore, I am ready to go along with you before the Seigneury, and there will tell the truth concerning this accident. But let not any man among you, be so bold as to lay hand on me, or to touch me, because I yeeld so obediently to you; neyther to take any thing from this body, except hee intend that I shall accuse him. In which respect, not any one daring to displease her, shee went with the dead bodle to the Seigneurie, there to answere all Objections.
When notice heereof was given to the Potestate, he arose; and shee being brought foorth into the Hall before him, he questioned with her, how and by what meanes this accident happened. Beside, he sent for divers Physitians, to be informed by them, whether the Gentleman were poysoned, or otherwise murthered? All of them affirmed the contrarie, avouching rather, that some Impostumation had engendered neere his heart, which sodainly breaking, occasioned his as sodaine death. The Potestate hearing this, and perceiving that Andreana was little or nothing at all faulty in the matter, her beauty and good carriage, kindled a vitlanous and lustful desire in him towards her, provoking him to the immodest motion, that upon granting his request, he would release her. But when he saw, that all his perswasions were to no purpose, hee sought to compasse his will by violence; which like a vertuous and valiant Virago, shee worthily withstood, defending her honour Nobly, and reprooving him with many injurious speeches, such as a lustfull Letcher Justlie deserved.
On the morrow morning, these newes being brought to her Father, Messer Negro da Ponte Cararo, greeving thereat exceedingly, and accompanied with many of his friends, he went to the Pallace. Being there arrived, and informed of the matter by the Potestate: he demaunded (in teares) of his daughter, how, and by what meanes shee was brought thither? The Potestate would needs accuse her first, of outrage and wrong offered to him by her, rather then to tarry her accusing of him; yet, commending the yong Mayden, and her constancie, proceeded to say, that onely to prove her, he had made such a motion to her; but finding her so firme, his liking was now so addicted to her, that- if her Father were so pleased to forget the remembrance of her former secret husband, he willingly would accept her in marriage.
While thus they continued talking, Andreana comming before her Father, the teares trickling mainly downe her cheekes, and falling at his feete, she began in this manner. Deare Father, I shall not neede to make an Historicall relation, either of my youthfull boldnesse or misfortunes, because you have both seene and knowne them: rather most humbly, I crave your pardon, for another errour by mee committed, in that, both without your leave and liking, I accepted the man as my troth-plighted husband, whom (above all other in the world I most intirely affected. If my offence heerein doe challenge the forfeite of my life, then (good Father) I free you from any such pardon; because my onely desire is to dye your daughter, and in your gracious favour: with which words, in signe of her humility, she kissed his feete. Messer Negro da Ponte, being a man well in yeeres, and of a gentle nature, observing what his daughter saide, could not refraine from teares, and in his weeping, lovingly tooke her from the ground, speaking thus to her.
Daughter, I could have wisht, that thou hadst taken such an Husband, as (in my judgement) had bene best fitting for thee: yet if thou madest election of one answerable to thine owne good liking, I have no just reason to be offended therewith. My greatest cause of complaint is, thy too severe concealing it from me, and the small trust thou didst repose in me, because thou hast lost him before I knew him. Neverthelesse, seeing these occasions are thus come to passe, and accidents already ended, cannot possibly be re-called, it is my will, that as I would gladly have contented thee, by making him my Son in Law if he had lived, so I wil expresse the like love to him now he is dead. And so turning himselfe to his kindred and friends, lovingly requested of them, that they would grace Gabriello with most honourable obsequies.
By this time, the kindred and friends to the dead man (uppon noise of his death bruited abroad) were likewise come to the Pallace, yea, most of the men and women dwelling in the Cittie, the bodie of Gabriello being laide in the midst of the Court, upon the white Damaske shrowd given by Andreana, with infinite Roses and other sweet Flowers lying theron: and such was the peoples love to him, that never was any mans death, more to be bemoaned and lamented. Being delivered out of the Court, it was carried to buriall, not like a Burgesse or ordinary Citizen, but with such pompe as beseemed a Lord Baron, and on the shoulders of very noble Gentlemen, with great honor and reverence.
Within some few dayes after, the Potestate pursuing his former motion of mariage, and the father mooving it to his daughter, she would not by any meanes listen thereto. And he being desirous to give her contentment, delivered her and her Chamber-maid into a Religious Abbey, very famous for devotion and sanctity, where afterwards they ended their lives.[ Hide Sixt Novell ]
Pamphilus having ended his Tale, the King declaring an outward shew of compassion, in regard of Andreanaes disastrous Fortune; fixed his eye on Madam Aemilia, and gave her such an apparant signe, as expressed his pleasure, for her next succeeding in discourse; which being sufficient for her understanding, thus she began. Faire assembly, the Novell so lately delivered by Pamphilus, maketh me willing to report another to you, varying from it, in any kinde of resemblance; onely this excepted: that as Andreana lost her lover in a Garden, even so did she of whom I am now to speake. And being brought before the seate of Justice, according as Andreana was, freed her selfe from the power of the Law; yet neither by force, or her owne vertue, but by her sodaine and inopinate death. And although the nature of Love is such (according as we have oftentimes heeretofore maintained) to make his abiding in the houses of the Noblest persons; yet men and women of poore and farre inferiour quality, do not alwayes sit out of his reach, though enclosed in their meanest Cottages; declaring himselfe sometime as a powerfull commaunder in those humble places, as he doth in the richest and most imperious Palaces. As will plainly appeare unto you, either in all, or a great part of my Novell, whereto our Citie pleadeth some title; though, by the diversity of our discourses, talking of so many severall accidents; we have wandred into many other parts of the world, to make all answerable to our owne liking.
It is not any long time since, when there lived in our City of Florence, a young and beautifull Damosell, yet according to the nature of her condition; because she was the Daughter of a poore Father, and called by the name of Simonida. Now, albeit she was not supplied by any better means, then to maintaine her selfe by her owne painfull travell, and earne her bread before she could eate it, by carding and spinning to such as employed her; yet was she not so base or dejected a spirit, but had both courage and sufficient vertue, to understand the secret soliciting of love, and to distinguish the parts of well deserving both by private behaviour and outward ceremony. As naturall instinct was her first tutor thereto, so wanted she not a second maine and urging motion, a chip hewed out of the like Timber, one no better in birth then her selfe, a proper young springall, named Pasquino, whose generous behaviour, and gracefull actions (in bringing her dayly wooll to spin, by reason his Master was a Clothier) prevailed upon her liking and affection.
Nor was he negligent in the observation of her amorous regards, but the Tinder tooke, and his soule flamed with the selfe same fire; making him as desirous of her loving acceptance, as possibly she could be of his: so that the commanding power of love, could not easily be distinguished in which of them it had the greater predominance. For every day as he brought her fresh supply of woolles, and found her seriously busied at her wheele: her soule would vent forth many deepe sighes, and those sighes fetch floods of teares from her eyes, thorough the singular good opinion she had conceyved of him, and earnest desire to enjoy him. Pasquino on the other side, as leysure gave him leave for the least conversing with her: his disease was every way answerable to hers, for teares stood in his eyes, sighes flew abroad, to ease the poore hearts afflicting oppressions, which though he was unable to conceale; yet would he seeme to clowd them cleanly, by entreating her that his Masters worke might be neatly performed, and with such speed as time would permit her, intermixing infinite praises of her artificiall spinning; and affirming withall, that the Quilles of Yearne received from her, were the choisest beauty of the whole peece; so that when other workewomen played, Simonida was sure to want no employment.
Hereupon, the one soliciting, and the other taking delight in being solicited; it came to passe, that often accesse bred the bolder courage, and over-much bashfulnesse became abandoned, yet no immodesty passing betweene them: but affection grew the better setled in them both, by interchangeable vowes of constant perseverance, so that death onely, but no disaster else had power to divide them. Their mutuall delight continuing on in this manner, with more forcible encreasing of their Loves equall flame: it fortuned, that Pasquino sitting by Simonida, told her of a goodly Garden, whereto he was desirous to bring her, to the end, that they might the more safely converse together, without the suspition of envious eyes. Simonida gave answer of her wellliking the motion, and acquainting her Father therewith, he gave her leave, on the Sunday following after dinner, to go fetch the pardon of S. Gallo, and afterwards to visit the Garden.
A modest yong maiden named Lagina, following the same profession, and being an intimate familiar friend, Simonida tooke along in her company, and came to the Garden appointed by Pasquino; where she found him readily expecting her comming, and another friend also with him, called Puccino (albeit more usually tearmed Strambo) a secret well-willer to Lagina, whose love became the more furthered by his friendly meeting. Each Lover delighting in his hearts chosen Mistresse, caused them to walke alone by themselves, as the spaciousnesse of the Garden gave them ample liberty: Puccino with his Lagina in one part, and Pasquino with his Simonida in another. The walke which they had made choise of, was by a long and goodly bed of Sage, turning and returning by the same bed their conference ministred occasion, and as they pleased to recreate themselves, affecting rather to continue still there, then in any part of the Garden.
One while they would sit downe by the Sage bed, and afterward rise to walke againe, as ease and wearinesse seemed to invite them. At length, Pasquino chanced to crop a leafe of the Sage, wherewith he both rubbed his teeth and gummes, and champing it betweene them also, saying; that there was no better thing in the world to cleanse the teeth withall, after feeding. Not long had he thus champed the Sage in his teeth, returning to his former kinde of discoursing, but his countenance began to change very pale, his sight failed, and speech forsooke him; so that (in briefe) he fell downe dead. Which when Simonida beheld, wringing her hands, she cryed out for helpe to Strambo and Lagina, who immediately came running to her. They finding Pasquino not onely to be dead, but his body swolne, and strangely over-spred with foule black spots, both on his face, hands, and all parts else beside: Strambo cried out, saying; Ah wicked maide, what hast thou poisoned him?
These words and their shrill out-cries also were heard by Neighbours dwelling neere to the Garden, who comming in sodainly uppon them, and seeing Pasquino lying dead, and hugely swoln, Strambo likewise complaining, and accusing Simonida to have poysoned him; she making no answer, but standing in a gastly amazement, all her senses meerely confounded, at such a strange and uncouth accident, in loosing him whom she so dearely loved: knew not how to excuse-her selfe, and therefore every one verily beleeved, that Strambo had not unjustly accused her. Poore wofull maide, thus was she instantly apprehended, and drowned in her teares, they led her along to the Potes. tates Palace, where her accusation was justified by Strambo, Lagina, and two men more; the one named Atticciato, and the other Malagevole, fellowes and companions with Pasquino, who came into the Garden also upon the out-cry.
The Judge, without any delay at all, gave eare to the busines, and examined the case very strictly: but could by no meanes comprehend, that any malice should appeare in her towards him, nor that she was guiltie of the mans death. Wherefore, in the presence of Simonida, he desired to see the dead body, and the place where he fell downe dead, because there he intended to have her relate, how she saw the accident to happen, that her owne speeches might the sooner condemne her, whereas the case yet remained doubtfull, and farre beyond his comprehension. So, without any further publication, and to avoid the following of the turbulent multitude, they departed from the bench of Justice, and came to the place, where Pasquinoes body lay swolne like a Tunne. Demanding there questions, concerning his behaviour, when they walked there in conference together, and, not a little admiring the manner of his death, while he stood advisedly considering thereon.
She going to the bed of Sage, reporting the whole precedent history, even from the originall to the ending: the better to make the case understood, without the least colour of ill carriage towardes Pasquino; according as she had seene him do, even so o she plucke another leafe of the Sage, rubbing her teeth therewith, and champing it as he formerly did. Strambo, and the other intimate friends of Pasquino, having noted in what manner she used the Sage, and this appearing as her utmost refuge, either to acquit or condemne her: in presence of the Judge they smiled thereat, mocking and deriding whatsoever she saide, or did, and desiring (the more earnestly) the sentence of death against her, that her body might be consumed with fire, as a just punishment for her abhominable transgression.
Poore Simonida, sighing and sorrowing for her deere loves losse, and (perhappes) not meanly terrified, with the strict infliction of torment so severely urged and followed by Strambo and the rest standing dumb still, without answering so much as one word; by tasting of the same Sage, fell downe dead by the bed, even by the like accident Pasquino formerly did, to the admirable astonishment of all there present.
Oh poore infortunate Lovers, whose Starres were so inauspicious to you, as to finish both your mortall lives, and fervent love, in lesse limitation then a dayes space. How to censure of your deaths, and happines to ensue thereon, by an accident so strange and inevitable: it is not within the compasse of my power, but to hope the best, and so I leave you. But yet concerning Simonida her selfe, in the common opinion of us that remaine living: her true vertue and innocency (though Fortune was otherwise most cruell to her) would not suffer her to sinke under the testimony of Strambo, Lagina, Atticciato, and Malagevole, being but carders of wool, or perhaps of meaner condition; a happier course was ordained for her, to passe clearely from their infamous imputation, and follow her Pasquino, in the very same manner of death, and with such a speedy expedition.
The Judge standing amazed, and all there present in his company, were silent for a long while together: but, uppon better recollection of his spirits, thus he spake. This inconvenience which thus hath hapned, and confounded our senses with no common admiration; in mine opinion concerneth the bed of Sage, avouching it either to be venomous, or dangerously infected, which (neverthelesse) is seldom found in Sage. But to the end, that it may not be offensive to any more hereafter, I will have it wholly digd up by the rootes, and then to be burnt in the open Market place.
Hereupon, the Gardiner was presently sent for, and before the Judge would depart thence, he saw the bed of Sage digged up by the roots, and found the true occasion, whereby these two poore Lovers lost their lives. For, just in the middest of the bed, and at the maine roote, which directed all the Sage in growth; lay an huge mighty Toad, even weltring (as it were) in a hole full of poyson; by meanes whereof, in conjecture of the judge, and all the rest, the whole bed of Sage became envenomed, occasioning every leafe thereof to be deadly in taste. None being so hardy, as to approach neere the Toade, they made a pile of wood directly over it, and setting it on a flaming fire, threw all the Sage thereinto, and so they were consumed together. So ended all further suite in Law, concerning the deaths of Pasquino and Simonida: whose bodies being carried to the Church of Saint Paul, by their sad and sorrowfull accusers, Strambo, Lagina, Atticciato and Malagevole, were buried together in one goodly Monument, for a future memory of their hard Fortune.[ Hide Seventh Novell ]
Madam Aemilia no sooner concluded her Novell, but Madam Neiphila (by the Kings command) began to speake in this manner. It seemeth to me (Gracious Ladies) that there are some such people to be found, who imagine themselves to know more, then all other else in the world beside, and yet indeede do know nothing at all: presuming (thorough this arrogant opinion of theirs) to imploy and oppose their senselesse understanding, against infallible grounded reason, yea, and to attempt courses, not only contrary to the counsell and judgement of men, but also to crosse the nature of divine ordination. Out of which saucy and ambitious presumption, many mighty harmes have already had beginning, and more are like to ensue uppon such boldnesse, because it is the ground of all evils.
Now, in regard that among all other naturall things, no one is lesse subject to take counsell, or can be wrought to contrariety, then Love, whose nature is such, as rather to run upon his owne rash consumption, then to be ruled by admonitions of the very wisest: my memory hath inspired it selfe, with matter incident to this purpose, effectually to approve, what I have already said. For I am now to speake of a woman who would appeare to have more wit, then either she had indeed, or appertained to her by any title. The matter also, wherein she would needs shew her studious judgement and capacity, was of much more consequence then she could deserve to meddle withall. Yet such was the issue of her fond presuming; that (in one instant) she expelled both love, and the soule of her owne sonne out of his body, where (doubtlesse) it was planted by divine favour and appointment.
In our owne City (according to true and ancient testimony) there dwelt sometime a very worthy and wealthy Merchant, named Leonardo Sighiero, who by his wife had one onely Sonne, called Jeronimo; and within a short while after his birth, Leonardo being very sicke, and having setled all his affaires in good order; departed out of this wretched life to a better. The Tutors and Governours of the Childe, thought it fittest to let him live with his Mother, where he had his whole education, though schooled among many other worthy neighbours children, according as in most Cities they use to do. Yong Jeronimo growing on in yeares, and frequenting dayly the company of his Schoole-fellowes and others: he would often sport (as the rest did) with the neighbors children, and much pretty pastime they found together.
In the harmlesse recreations of youth, graver judgements have often observed, that some especiall matter received then such originall, as greater effect hath followed thereon. And many times, parents and kindred have bene the occasion (although perhaps beyond their expectation) of very strange and extraordinary accidents, by names of familiarity passing betweene Boyes and Girles, as King and Queene, sweet heart and sweet heart, friend and friend, husband and wife, and divers other such like kind tearmes, prooving afterwards to be true indeed. It fell out so with our yong Jeronimo; for, among a number of pretty Damosels, daughters to men of especiall respect, and others of farre inferiour quality: a Taylors daughter, excelling the rest in favour and feature (albeit her Father was but poore) Jeronimo most delighted to sport withall; and no other titles passed betweene them, even in the hearing of their parents and friends, but wife and husband: such was the beginning of their yong affection, presaging (no doubt) effectually to follow.
Nor grew this familiarity (as yet) any way distasted, till by their daily conversing together, and enterchange of infinite pretty speeches, Jeronimo felt a strange alteration in his soule, with such enforcing and powerfull afflictions; as he was never well but in her company, nor she enjoyed any rest if Jeronimo were absent. At the length, this being noted by his Mother, she began to rebuke him, yea many times gave him both threatnings and blowes, which proving to no purpose, not hindering his accesse to her; she complained to his Tutors, and like one that in regard of her riches, thought to plant an Orange upon a blacke thorne, spake as followeth.
This Sonne of mine Jeronimo, being as yet but foureteene years of age, is so deeply enamoured of a yong Girle, named Silvestra, daughter unto a poore Tailor, our neere dwelling neighbour: that if we do not send him out of her company, one day (perhaps) he may make her his wife, and yet without any knowledge of ours, which questionlesse would be my death. Otherwise, he may pine and consume himselfe away, if he see us procure her marriage to some other. Wherefore, hold it good, that to avoid so great an inconvenience, we should send Jeronimo some far distance hence, to remaine where some of our Factors are employed: because, when he shall be out of her sight, and their often meetings utterly disappointed; his affection to her will the sooner cease, by frustrating his hope for ever enjoying her, and so we shall have the better meanes, to match him with one of greater quality. The Tutors did like well of her advice, not doubting but it would take answerable effect: and therefore, calling Jeronimo into a private Parlor, one of them began in this manner.
Jeronimo, you are now growne to an indifferent stature, and (almost) able to take government of your selfe. It cannot then seeme any way inconvenient, to acquaint you with your deceased Fathers affaires, and by what good courses he came to such wealth. You are his onely sonne and heire, to whom he hath bequeathed his rich possessions (your Mothers moity evermore remembred) and travaile would now seeme fitting for you, as well to gaine experience in Trafficke and Merchandize, as also to let you see the worlds occurrences. Your Mother therefore (and we have thought it expedient) that you should journey from hence to Paris, there to continue for some such fitting time, as may grant you full and free opportunity, to survey what stocke of wealth is there employed for you, and to make you understand, how your Factors are furtherous to your affaires. Beside, this is the way to make you a man of more solid apprehension, and perfect instruction in civill courses of life; rather then by continuing here to see none but Lords, Barons, and Gentlemen, whereof we have too great a number. When you are sufficiently qualified there, and have learned what belongeth to a worthy Marchant, such as was Leonardo Sighiero your famous Father; you may returne home againe at your owne pleasure.
The youth gave them attentive hearing, and (in few words) returned them answer: That he would not give way to any such travaile, because he knew how to dispose of himselfe in Florence, as well as in any other place he should be sent too. Which when his Tutors heard, they reproved him with many severe speeches: and seeing they could win no other answer from him, they made returne thereof to his Mother. She storming extreamly thereat, yet not so much for denying the journey to Paris, as in regard of his violent affection to the Maide; gave him very bitter and harsh language. All which availing nothing, she began to speake in a more milde and gentle straine, entreating him with flattering and affable words, to be governed in this case by his Tutors good advice. And so farre (in the end) she prevailed with him, that he yeelded to live at Paris for the space of a yeare, but further time he would not grant, and so all was ended.
Jeronimo being gone to remaine at Paris, his love daily increasing more and more, by reason of his absence from Silvestra, under faire and friendly promises, of this moneth, and the next moneth, sending for him home; there they detained him two whole yeares together. Whereuppon, his love was growne to stich an extremity, that he neither would, or could abide any longer there, but home he returned, before he was expected. His love Silvestra, by the cunning compacting of his Mother and Tutors, he found married to a Tent-makers Sonne; whereat he vexed and greeved beyond all measure. Neverthelesse, seeing the case was now no way to be holpen; he strove to beare it with so much patience, as so great a wrong, and his hearts tormenting greefe, would give leave to doe.
Having found out the place where she dwelt, he began (as it is the custome of yong Lovers) to use divers daily walkes by her doore: as thinking in his minde, that her remembrance of him was constantly continued, as his was most intirely fixed on her. But the case was very strangely altred, because she was now growne no more mindfull of him, then if she had never seene him before. Or if she did any way remember him, it appeared to be so little, that manifest signes declared the contrary. Which Jeronimo very quickely perceived, albeit not without many melancholly perturbations. Notwithstanding, he laboured by all possible meanes, to recover her former kindnesse againe: but finding all his paines frivolously employed; he resolved to dye, and yet to compasse some speech with her before.
By meanes of a neere dwelling neighbour (that was his very deare and intimate friend) he came acquainted with every part of the house, and prevailed so far, that one evening, when she and her husband supt at a neighbours house; he compassed accesse into the same bed chamber, where Silvestra used most to lodge. Finding the Curtaines ready drawne, he hid himselfe behinde them on the further side of the bed, and so tarried there untill Silvestra and her husband were returned home, and laide downe in bed to take their rest. The husbands sences were soone overcome with sleepe, by reason of his painefull toyling all the day, and bodies that are exercised with much labour, are the more desirous to have ease.
She staying up last, to put out the light, and hearing her husband sleepe so soundly, that his snoring gave good evidence thereof: layed her selfe downe the more respectively, as being very loath any way to disease him, but sweetly to let him enjoy his rest.
Silvestra lay on the same side of the bed, where Jeronimo had hid himselfe behinde the Curtaines; who stepping softly to her in the darke, and laying his hand gently on her brest, saide: Deare Love, forbeare a little while to sleepe, for heere is thy loyall friend Jeronimo. The yong woman starting with amazement, would have cried out, but that he entreated her to the contrary; protesting, that he came for no ill intent to her, but onely to take his latest leave of her. Alas Jeronimo (quoth she) those idle dayes are past and gone, when it was no way unseemly for our youth, to entertaine equality of those desires, which then well agreed with our young blood. Since when, you have lived in forraine Countries, which appeared to me to alter your former disposition: for, in the space of two whole yeares, either you grew forgetfull of me (as change of ayre, may change affection) or (at the best) made such account of me, as I never heard the least salutation from you. Now you know me to be a married wife, in regard whereof, my thoughts have embraced that chaste and honourable resolution, not to minde any man but my husband; and therefore, as you are come hither Without my love or license, so in like manner I do desire you to be gone. Let this priviledge of my Husbandes sound sleeping, be no colour to your longer continuing here, or encourage you to finde any further favour at mine hand: for if mine husband should awake, beside the danger that thereon may follow to you, I cannot but loose the sweet happinesse of peacefull life, which hitherto we have both mutually embraced.
The yong man, hearing these wordes, and remembring what loving kindnesse he had formerly found, what secret love Letters he had sent from Paris, with other private intelligences and tokens, which never came to her receite and knowledge, so cunningly his Mother and Tutors had carried the matter: immediately felt his heart-strings to breake, and lying downe upon the beds side by her, uttered these his very last words. Silvestra farewell, thou hast kilde the kindest heart that ever loved a woman: and speaking no more, gave up the ghost. She hearing these words delivered with an entire sighe, and deepe-fetcht groane, did not imagine the strange consequence following thereon; yet was mooved to much compassion, in regard of her former affection to him. Silent she lay an indifferent while, as being unable to returne him any answer, and looking when he would be gone, according as before she had earnestly entreated him. But when she perceyved him to lye so still, as neither word or motion came from him, she saide: Kinde Jeronimo, why doest thou not depart and get thee gone? So putting forth her hand, it hapned to light upon his face, which she felt to be as cold as yce: whereat marvailing not a little, as also at his continued silence, she jogged him, and felt his hands in like manner, which were stiffely extended forth, and all his body cold, as not having any life remaining in him, which greatly amazing her, and confounding her with sorrow beyond all measure, she was in such perplexity, that she could not devise what to do or say.
In the end, she resolved to try how her husband would take it, that so strange an accident should thus happen in his house, and putting the case as if it did not concerne them, but any other of the neighbours; awaking him first, demaunded of him what was best to be done, if a man should steale into a neighbours house, unknowne to him, or any of his family; and in his bed chamber to be found dead. He presently replyed (as not thinking the case concerned himselfe) that, the onely helpe in such an unexpected extremity, was to take the dead body, and convey it to his owne house, if he had any; whereby no scandall or reproach would follow to them, in whose house he had so unfortunately dyed. Hereupon she immediately arose, and lighting a candle, shewed him the dead body of Jeronimo, with protestation of every particular, both of her innocency, either of knowledge of his comming thither, or any other blame that could concerne her. Which he both constantly knowing and beleeving, made no more ceremony, but putting on his Garments, tooke the dead body upon his shoulders, and carried it to the Mothers doore, where he left it, and afterward returned to his owne house againe.
When day light was come, and the dead body found lying in the Porch, it moved very much greefe and amazement, considering, he had bin seene the day before, in perfect health to outward appearance. Nor neede we to urge any question of his Mothers sorrow upon this strange accident, who, causing his body to be carefully searched, without any blow, bruise, wound, or hurt uppon it, the Physitians could not give any other opinion, but that some inward conceyte of greefe had caused his death, as it did indeed, and no way otherwise. To the cheefe Church was the dead body carried, to be generally seene of all the people, his Mother and Friends weeping heavily by it, as many more did the like beside, because he was beloved of every one. In which time of universall mourning, the honest man (in whose house he dyed) spake thus to his wife: Disguise thy selfe in some decent manner, and go to the Church, where (as I heare) they have laide the body of Jeronimo. Crowde in amongest the Women, as I will do the like amongst the men, to heare what opinion passeth of his death, and whether we shall be scandalized thereby, or no.
Silvestra, who was now become full of pitty too late, quickely condiscended, as desiring to see him dead, whom sometime she dearly affected in life. And being come to the Church, it is a matter to be admired, if advisedly we consider on the powerfull working of love; for the heart of this woman, which the prosperous fortune of Jeronimo could not pierce, now in his wofull death split in sunder; and the ancient sparks of love so long concealed in the embers, brake foorth into a furious flame; and being violently surprized with extraordinary compassion, no sooner did she come neere to the dead body, where many stood weeping round about it; but strangely shrieking out aloud, she fell downe upon it: and even as extreamity of greefe finished his life, so did it hers in the same manner. For she moved neither hand nor foot, because her vitall powers had quite forsaken her. The women labouring to comfort her by all best meanes they could devise; did not take any knowledge of her, by reason of her disguised garments: but finding her dead indeed, and knowing her also to be Silvestra, being overcome with unspeakable compassion, and danted with no meane admiration, they stood strangely gazing each upon other.
Wonderfull crowds of people were then in the Church; and this accident being now noysed among the men, at length it came to her Husbands understanding, whose greefe was so great, as it exceeded all capacity of expression. Afterward he declared what had hapned in his house the precedent night, according as his wife had truly related to him, with all the speeches, which passed between Silvestra and Jeronimo; by which discourse, they generally conceived, the certaine occasion of both their sodaine deaths, which moved them to great compassion. Then taking the yong womans body, and ordering it as a coarse ought to be: they layed it on the same Biere by the yong man, and when they had sufficiently sorrowed for their disastrous fortune, they gave them honourable buriall both in. one grave. So, this poore couple, whom love (in life) could not joyne together, death did unite in an inseparable conjunction.[ Hide Eight Novell ]
When the Novell of Madam Neiphila was ended, which occasioned much compassion in the whole assembly; the King who wold not infringe the priviledge granted to Dioneus, no more remaining to speake but they two, began thus. I call to minde (gentle Ladies) a Novell, which (seeing we are so farre entred into the lamentable accidents of successelesse love), will urge you unto as much commisseration, as that so lately reported to you. And so much the rather, because the person of whom we are to speake, were of respective quality; which approveth the accident to be more cruell, then those whereof we have formerly discoursed.
According as the people of Provence do report, there dwelt sometime in that jurisdiction, two noble Knights, each well possessed of Castles and followers; the one being named Messer Guiglielmo de Rossiglione, and the other Messer Guiglielmo Guardastagno. Now, in regard that they were both valiant Gentlemen, and singularly expert in actions of Armes; they loved together the more mutually, and held it as a kinde of custome to be seene in all Tiltes and Tournaments, or any other exercises of Armes, going commonly alike in their wearing garments. And although their Castles stood about five miles distant each from other, yet were they dayly conversant together, as very loving and intimate friends. The one of them, I meane Messer Guiglielmo de Rossilione, had to wife a very gallant beautifull Lady, of whom Messer Guardastagno (forgetting the lawes of respect and loyall friendship) became overfondly enamoured, expressing the same by such outward meanes, that the Lady her selfe tooke knowledge thereof, and not with any dislike, as it seemed, but rather lovingly entertained; yet she grew not so forgetfull of her honour and estimation, as the other did of faith to his friend.
With such indiscretion was this idle love carried, that whether it sorted to effect, or no, I know not: but the husband perceived some such maner of behaviour, as he could not easily digest, nor thought it fitting to endure. Whereuppon, the league of friendly amity so long continued, began to faile in very strange fashion, and became converted into deadly hatred: which yet he very cunningly concealed, bearing an outward shew of constant friendship still, but (in his heart) he had vowed the death of Guardastagno. Nothing wanted, but by what meanes it might best be effected, which fell out to be in this manner. A publicke joust or Tourney, was proclaimed by sound of Trumpet throughout all France, wherewith immediately, Messer Guiglielmo Rossiglione acquainted Messer Guardastagno, entreating him that they might further conferre theron together, and for that purpose to come and visit him, if he intended to have any hand in the businesse. Guardastagno being exceeding glad of this accident, which gave him liberty to see his Mistresse, sent answer backe by the messenger, that on the morrow at night, he would come and sup with Rossiglione; who upon this reply, projected to himselfe in what maner to kill him.
On the morrow, after dinner, arming himselfe, and two more of his servants with him, such as he had solemnly sworne to secrecy, he mounted on horsebacke, and rode on about a mile from his owne Castle, where he lay closely ambushed in a Wood, through which Guardastagno must needs passe. After he had stayed there some two houres space and more, he espyed him come riding with two of his attendants, all of them being unarmed, as no way distrusting any such intended treason. So soone as he was come to the place, where he had resolved to do the deed; hee rushed forth of the ambush, and having a sharpe Lance readily charged in his rest, ran mainly at him, saying: False villaine, thou art dead. Guardastagno, having nothing wherewith to defend himselfe, nor his servants able to give him any succour; being pierced quite through the body with the Lance, downe he fell dead to the ground, and his men (fearing the like misfortune to befall them) gallopped mainely backe againe to their Lords Castle, not knowing them who had thus murthered their Master, by reason of their armed disguises, which in those martiall times were usually worne.
Messer Guiglielmo Rossiglione, alighting from his horse, and having a keene knife ready drawne in his hand; opened therewith the brest of dead Guardastagno, and taking foorth his heart with his owne hands, wrapped it in the Bandelote belonging to his Lance, commanding one of his men to the charge thereof, and never to disclose the deed. So, mounting on horse-backe againe, and darke night drawing on apace, he returned home to his Castle. The Lady, who had heard before of Guardastagnoes intent, to suppe there that night, and (perhaps) being earnestly desirous to see him; marvailing at his so long tarrying, saide to her husband: Beleeve me Sir (quoth she) me thinkes it is somewhat strange, that Messer Guiglielmo Guardastagno delayes his comming so long, he never used to do so till now. I received tidings from him wife (saide he) that he cannot be here till to morrow. Whereat the Lady appearing to be displeased, concealed it to herselfe, and used no more words.
Rossiglione leaving his Lady, went into the Kitchin, where calling for the Cooke, he delivered him the heart, saying: Take this heart of a wilde Boare, which it was my good happe to kill this day, and dresse it in the daintiest manner thou canst devise to do; which being so done, when I am set at the Table, send it to me in a silver dish, with sauce beseeming so dainty a morsell. The Cooke tooke the heart, beleeving it to be no otherwise, then as his Lord had saide: and using his utmost skill in dressing it, did divide it into artificiall small slices, and made it most pleasing to be tasted. When supper time was come, Rossiglione sate downe at the table with his Lady: but he had little or no appetite at all to eate, the wicked deed which he had done so perplexed his soule, and made him to sit very strangely musing. At length, the Cooke brought in the dainty dish, which he himselfe setting before his wife, began to finde fault with his owne lacke of stomacke, yet provoked her with many faire speeches, to tast the Cooks cunning in so rare a dish.
The Lady having a good appetite indeede, when she had first tasted it, fed afterward so heartily thereon, that she left very little, or none at all remaining. When he perceived that all was eaten, he said unto her: Tell me Madame, how you do like this delicate kinde of meate? In good faith Sir (quoth she) in all my life I was never better pleased. Now trust mee Madame, answered the Knight, I do verily beleeve you, nor do I greatly wonder thereat, if you like that dead, which you loved so dearly being alive. When she heard these words, a long while she sate silert, but afterward saide. I pray you tell me Sir; what meate was this which you have made me to eate? Muse no longer (saide he) for therein I will quickly resolve thee. Thou hast eaten the heart of Messer Guiglielmo Guardastagno, whose love was so deare and precious to thee, thou false, perfidious, and disloyall Lady: I pluckt it out of his vile body with mine owne hands, and made my Cooke to dresse it for thy diet.
Poore Lady, how strangely was her soule afflicted, hearing these harsh and unpleasing speeches? Teares flowed aboundantly from her faire eies, and like tempestuous windes embowelled in the earth, so did vehement sighes breake mainly from her heart, and after a tedious time of silence, she spake in this manner. My Lord and husband, you have done a most disloyall and damnable deede, misguided by your owne wicked jealous opinion, and not by any just cause given you, to murther so worthy and Noble a Gentleman. I protest unto you upon my soule, which I wish to be confounded in eternall perdition, if ever I were unchaste to your bed, or allowed him any other favour, but what might well become so honourable a friend. And seeing my body hath bene made the receptacle for so precious a kinde of foode, as the heart of so valiant and courteous a Knight, such as was the Noble Guardastagno; never shall any other foode hereafter, have entertainment there, or my selfe live the Wife to so bloody a Husband.
So starting up from the Table, and stepping unto a great gazing Window, the Casement whereof standing wide open behinde her: violently shee leaped out thereat, which beeing an huge height in distance from the ground, the fall did not onely kill her, but also shivered her body into many peeces. Which Rossiglione perceiving, hee stoode like a body without a soule, confounded with the killing of so deare a friend, losse of a chaste and honourable wife, and all through his owne overcredulous conceit.
Upon further conference with his private thoughts, and remorsefull acknowledgement of his heinous offence, which repentance (too late) gave him eyes now to see, though rashnesse before would not permit him to consider; these two extreamities inlarged his dulled understanding. First, he grew fearfull of the friends and followers to murthered Guardastagno, as also the whole Country of Provence, in regard of the peoples generall love unto him; which being two maine and important motives, both to the detestation of so horrid an act, and immediate severe revenge to succeede thereon: he made such provision as best he could, and as so sodaine a warning would give leave, he Red away secretly in the night season.
These unpleasing newes were soone spread abroad the next morning, not only of the unfortunate accidents, but also of Rossiglions flight; in regard whereof, the dead bodyes being found, and brought together, as well by the people belonging to Guardastagno, as them that attended on the Lady: they were layed in the Chappell of Rossigliones Castle; where, after so much lamentation for so great a misfortune to befall them, they were honourably enterred in one faire Tombe, with excellent Verses engraven thereon, expressing both their noble degree, and by what unhappy meanes, they chanced to have buriall in that very place.[ Hide Ninth Novell ]
After that the King had concluded his Novell, there remained none now but Dioneus to tell the last: which himselfe confessing, and the King commaunding him to proceede, hee beganne in this manner. So many miseries of unfortunate Love, as all of you have already related, hath not onely swolne your eyes with weeping, but also made sicke our hearts with sighing: yea (Gracious Ladies) I my selfe finde my spirits not meanly afflicted thereby. Wherefore the whole day hath bene very irkesome to me, and I am not a little glad, that it is so neere ending. Now, for the better shutting it up altogether, I would be very loath to make an addition, of any more such sad and mournfull matter, good for nothing but onely to feede melancholly humor, and from which (I hope) my faire Starres will defend me. Tragicall discourse, thou art no fit companion for me, I will therefore report a Novell which may minister a more joviall kinde of argument, unto whose Tales that must be told to morrow, and with the expiration of our present Kings reigne, to rid us of all heart-greeving hereafter.
Know then (most gracious assembly) that it is not many yeeres since, when there lived in Salerne, a very famous Physitian, named Signieur Mazzeo della Montagna, who being already well entred into yeeres, would (neverthelesse) marrie with a beautifull young Mayden of the City, bestowing rich garments, gaudie attyres, Ringes, and Jewelles on her, such as few Women else could any way equall, because hee loved her most deerely. Yet being an aged man, and never remembring, how vaine and idle a thing it is, for age to make such an unfitting Election, injurious to both; and therefore endangering that domesticke agreement, which ought to be the sole and maine comfort of Marriage: it maketh me therefore to misdoubt, that as in our former Tale of Signiour Ricciardo de Cinzica, some dayes of the Calender did here seeme as distastefull, as those that occasioned the other Womans discontentment. In such unequall choyses, Parents commonly are more blamewoorthy, then any imputation, to bee layde on the young Women, who gladdely would enjoy such as in heart they have elected: but that their Parents, looking through the glasse of greedie lucre, doe overthrow both their owne hopes, and the faire fortunes of their children together.
Yet to speake uprightly of this young married Wife, she declared her selfe to be of a wise and chearfull spirit, not discoraged with her unequalitie of marriage: but bearing all with a contented browe, for feare of urging the very least mislike in her Husband. And he, on the other side, when occasions did not call him to visite his Patients, or to be present at the Colledge among his fellow-Doctours, would alwayes bee chearing and comforting his Wife, as one that could hardly affoord to be out of her company. There is one especiall fatall misfortune, which commonly awaiteth on olde Mens marriages; when freezing December will match with flourishing May, and greene desires appeare in age, beyond all possibility of performance. Nor are there wanting good store of wanton Gallants, who hating to see Beauty in this manner betrayed, and to the embraces of a loathed bed, will make their folly seene in publike appearance, and by their daily proffers of amorous services (seeming compassionate of the womans disaster) are usually the cause of jealous suspitions, and very heinous houshold discontentments.
Among divers other, that faine would be nibling at this bayte of beautie, there was one, named Ruggiero de Jeroly, of honourable parentage, but yet of such a beboshed and disordered life, as neither Kindred or Friends, were willing to take any knowledge of him, but utterly gave him over to his dissolute courses: so that, throughout all Salerne, his conditions caused his generall contempt, and he accounted no better but even as a theeving and lewde company. The Doctours Wife, had a Chamber-maide attending on her; who, notwithstanding all the ugly deformities in Ruggiero, regarding more his person then his imperfections (because he was a compleate and well-featured youth) bestowed her affection most entirely on him, and oftentimes did supplie his wants, with her owne best meanes.
Ruggiero having this benefite of the Maides kinde love to him, made it an hopefull mounting Ladder, whereby to derive some good liking from the Mistresse, presuming rather on his outward comely parts, then any other honest qualitie that might commend him. The Mistresse knowing what choise her Maide had made, and unable by any perswasions to remoove her, tooke knowledge of Ruggieroes private resorting to her house, and in meere love to her Maide (who had very many especiall deservings in her) oftentimes she would (in kinde manner) rebuke him, and advise him to a more settled course of life; which counsell, that it might take the better effect; she graced with liberall gifts: one while with Golde, others with Silver, and often with garments, for his comelier accesse thither; which bounty, he (like a lewde mistaker) interpreted as assurances of her affection to him, and that he was more gracefull in her eye, then any man else could be.
In the continuance of these proceedings, it came to passe, that Master Doctor Mazzeo (being not onely a most expert Physitian, but likewise as skilfull in Chirurgerie beside) had a Patient in cure, who by great misfortune, had one of his legges broken all in pieces; which some weaker judgement having formerly dealt withall, the bones and sinewes were become so fowly putrified, as he tolde the parties friends, that the legge must be quite cut off, or else the Patient must needes dye: yet he intended so to order the matter, that the perill should proceede no further, to prejudice any other part of the body. The case beeing thus resolved on with the Pacient and his Friends, the day and time was appointed when the deede should be done: and the Doctor conceiving, that except the Patient were sleepily entranced, he could not by any meanes endure the paine, but must needes hinder what he meant to do: by distillation he made such an artificiall Water, as (after the Patient hath received it) it will procure a kinde of a dead sleepe, and endure so long a space, as necessity requireth the use there of, in full performance of the worke.
After he had made this sleepy water, he put it into a glasse, wherewith it was filled (almost) up to the brimme; and till the time came when he should use it, hee set it in his owne Chamber-Window, never acquainting any one, to what purpose he had provided the water, nor what was his reason of setting it there; when it drew towards the evening, and he was returned home from his pacients, a Messenger brought him Letters from Malfy, concerning a great conflict happening there betweene two Noble Families, wherein divers were very dangerously wounded on either side, and without his speedy repairing thither, it would prove to the losse of many lives. Hereupon, the cure of the mans leg must needs be prolonged, untill he was returned backe againe, in regard that many of the wounded persons were his worthy friends, and liberall bounty was there to be expected, which made him presently go aboord a small Barke, and forthwith set away towards Malfy.
This absence of Master Doctor Mazzeo, gave opportunity to adventurous Ruggiero, to visite his house (he being gone) in hope to get more Crownes, and curtisie from the Mistresse, under formall colour of courting the Maide. And being closely admitted into the house, when divers Neighbours were in conference with her Mistresse, and held her with much pleasing discourse, as required longer time then was expected: the Maide, had no other roome to conceale Ruggiero in, but onely the bed Chamber of her Master, where she lockt him in; because none of the houshold people should descry him, and stayed attending on her Mistris, till all the Guests tooke their leave, and were gone. Ruggiero thus remayning alone in the Chamber, for the space of three long houres and more was visited neither by Maide nor Mistris, but awaited when he should be set at liberty.
Now, whether feeding on salt meates before his coming thither, or customary use of drinking, which maketh men unable any long while to abstaine as being never satisfied with excesse; which of these two extreames they were, I know not: but drinke needs he must. And, having no other meanes for quenching his thirst, espied the glasse of water standing in the Window, and thinking it to be some soveraigne kinde of water, reserved by the Doctor for his owne drinking, to make him lusty in his old yeeres, he tooke the glasse; and finding the water pleasing to his pallate, dranke it off every drop; then sitting downe on a Coffer by the beds side, soone after he fell into a sound sleepe, according to the powerfull working of the water.
No sooner were all the Neighbours gone, and the Maide at liberty from her Mistresse, but unlocking the doore, into the Chamber she went; and finding Ruggiero sitting fast asleepe, she began to hunch and punche him, entreating him (softly) to awake: but all was to no purpose, for he neither moved, or answered one word; whereat her patience being somewhat provoked, she punched him more rudely, and angerly saide: Awake for shame thou drowsie dullard, and if thou be so desirous of sleeping, get thee home to thine owne lodging, because thou art not allowed to sleepe here. Ruggiero being thus rudely punched, fell from off the Coffer flat on the ground, appearing no other in all respects, then as if he were a dead body. Whereat the Maide being fearfully amazed, plucking him by the nose and young beard, and what else she could devise to do, yet all her labour proving still in vaine: she was almost beside her wits, stamping and raving all about the roome, as if sense and reason had forsaken her; so violent was her extreame distraction.
Upon the hearing of this noise, her Mistris came sodainely into the Chamber, where being affrighted at so strange an accident, and suspecting that Ruggiero was dead indeed: she pinched him strongly, and burnt his finger with a candle, yet all was as fruitelesse as before. Then sitting downe, she began to consider advisedly with her selfe, how much her honour and reputation would be endangered hereby, both with her Husband, and in vulgar opinion when this should come to publike notice. For (quoth she to her Maide) it is not thy fond love to this unruly fellow that can sway the censure of the monster multitude, in beleeving his accesse hither onely to thee: but my good name, and honest repute, as yet untoucht with the very least taxation, will be rackt on the tenter of infamous judgement, and (though never so cleare) branded with generall condemnation. It is wisedome therefore, that we should make no noise but (in silence) consider with our selves, how to cleare the house of this dead body, by some such helpfull and witty device, as when it shall be found in the morning, his being here may passe without suspition, and the worlds rash opinion no way touch US.
Weeping and lamenting is now laid aside, and all hope in them of his lives restoring: onely to rid his body but of the house, that now requires their care and cunning: whereupon the Maide thus began. Mistresse (quoth she) this evening, although it was very late, at our next Neighbours doore (who you know is a joyner by his trade) I saw a great Chest stand; and, as it seemeth, for a publike sale, because two or three nights together, it hath not bene thence removed: and if the owner have not lockt it, all invention else cannot furnish us with the like helpe. For therein will we lay his body, whereon I will bestow two or three wounds with my Knife, and leaving him so, our house can be no more suspected concerning his being here, then any other in the streete beside; nay rather farre lesse, in regard of your husbands credite and authority. Moreover, hereof I am certaine, that he being of such bad and disordered qualities: it will the more likely be imagined, that he was slaine by some of his own loose companions, being with them about some pilfering busines, and afterward hid his body in the chest, it standing so fitly for the purpose, and darke night also favouring the deed.
The Maids counsell past under the seale of allowance, only her Mistris thought it not convenient, that (having affected hirn so deerely) she should mangle his body with any wounds; but rather to let it be gathered by more likely-hood, that villaines had strangled him, and then conveyed his body into the Chest. Away she sends the Maide, to see whether the Chest stood there still, or no; as indeede it did, and unlockt, whereof they were not a little joyfull. By the helpe of her Mistresse, the Maide tooke Ruggiero upon her shoulders, and bringing him to the doore, with dilligent respect that no one could discover them; in the Chest they laide him, and so there left him, closing downe the lidde according as they found it.
In the same streete, and not farre from the joyner, dwelt two yong men who were Lombards, living upon the interest of their moneyes, coveting to get much, and to spend little. They having observed where the Chest stood, and wanting a necessary mooveable to houshold, yet loath to lay out money for buying it: complotted together this very night, to steale it thence, and carry it home to their house, as accordingly they did; finding it somewhat heavy, and therefore imagining, that matter of woorth was contained therein. In the Chamber where their wives lay, they left it; and so without any further search till the next morning, they laid them downe to rest likewise.
Ruggiero, who had now slept a long while, the drinke being digested, and the vertue thereof fully consummated; began to awake before day. And although his naturall sleepe was broken, and his senses had recovered their former power, yet notwithstanding, there remained such an astonishment in his braine, as not onely did afflict him all the day following, but also divers dayes and nights afterward. Having his eyes wide open, and yet not discerning any thing, he stretched forth his armes every where about him, and finding himselfe to be enclosed in the Chest, he grew more broad awake, and said to himselfe. What is this? Where am I? Do I wake or steepe? Full well I remember, that not long since I was in my sweet-hearts Chamber, and now (me thinkes) I am mewed up in a Chest. What should I thinke hereof? Is Master Doctor returned home, or hath some other inconvenience happned, whereby finding me a sleepe, she was enforced to hide me thus? Surely it is so, and otherwise it cannot be: wherefore, it is best for me to lye still, and listen when I can heare any talking in the Chamber.
Continuing thus a longer while then otherwise he would have done, because his lying in the bare Chest was somewhat uneasie and painfull to him; turning divers times on the one side, and then as often againe on the other, coveting still for ease, yet could not finde any: at length, he thrust his backe so strongly against the Chests side, that (it standing on an un-even ground) it began to totter, and after fell downe. In which fall, it made so loud a noise, as the women (lying in the beds standing by) awaked, and were so overcome with feare, that they had not the power to speake one word. Ruggiero also being affrighted with the Chests fall, and perceiving how by that meanes it was become open, he thought it better, least some other sinister fortune should befall him, to be at open liberty, then inclosed up so strictly. And because he knew not where he was, as also hoping to meete with his Mistresse; he went all about groping in the darke, to find either some staires or doore, whereby to get forth.
When the Women (being then awake) heard his trampling, as also his justling against the doores and windowes; they demaunded, Who was there? Ruggiero, not knowing their voyces, made them no answer; wherefore they called to their husbands, who lay very soundly sleeping by them, by reason of their so late walking abroad, and therefore heard not this noise in the house. This made the Women much more timorous, and therefore rising out of their beddes, they opened the Casement towards the streete, crying out aloude, Theeves, Theeves. The neighbours arose upon this outcry, running up and downe from place to place, some engirting the house, and others entering into it: by means of which troublesome noise, the two Lombards awaked, and seizing there upon poore Ruggiero (who was well-neere affrighted out of his wittes, at so strange an accident, and his owne ignorance, how he happened thither, and how to escape from them) he stood gazing on them without any answer.
By this time, the Sergeants and other Officers of the City, ordinarily attending on the Magistrate, being raised by the tumult of this uproare, were come into the house, and had poore Ruggiero committed unto their charge: who bringing him before the Governor, was forthwith called in question, and known to be of a most wicked life, a shame to all his friends and kindred. He could say little for himselfe, never denying his taking in the house, and therefore desiring to finish all his fortunes together, desperately confessed, that he came with a fellonious intent to rob them, and the Governor gave him sentence to be hanged.
Soone were the newes spread throughout Salerne; that Ruggiero was apprehended, about robbing the house of the two usuring Lombardes: which when Mistresse Doctor and her Chamber-maide heard, they were confounded with most strange admiration, and scarsely credited what they themselves had done the night before, but rather imagined all matters past, to be no more than meerely a dreame, concerning Ruggieroes dying in the house, and their putting him into the Chest, so that by no likely or possible meanes, he could be the man in this perillous extreamitie.
In a short while after, Master Doctor Mazzeo was returned from Malfy, to proceede in his cure of the poore mans legge; and calling for his glasse of Water, which he left standing in his owne Chamber window, it was found quite empty, and not a drop in it: whereat he raged so extreamly, as never had the like impatience bene noted in him. His wife, and her Maide, who had another kinde of businesse in their braine, about a dead man so strangely come to life againe, knew not well what to say; but at the last, his Wife thus replyed somewhat angerly. Sir (quoth she) what a coyle is here about a paltry glasse of Water, which perhaps hath bene spilt, yet neyther of us faulty therein? Is there no more such water to be had in the world? Alas deere Wife (saide he) you might repute it to be a common kinde of Water, but indeed it was not so; for I did purposely compound it, onely to procure a dead seeming sleepe: And so related the whole matter at large, of the Pacients legge, and his Waters losse.
When she had heard these words of her husband, presently she conceived, that the water was drunke off by Ruggiero, which had so sleepily entranced his sences, as they verily thought him to be dead, wherefore she saide. Beleeve me Sir, you never acquainted us with any such matter, which would have procured more carefull respect of it: but seeing it is gone, your skill extendeth to make more, for now there is no other remedy. While thus Master Doctor and his Wife were conferring together, the Maide went speedily into the City, to understand truly, whither the condemned man was Ruggiero, and what would now become of him. Being returned home againe, and alone with her Mistresse in the Chamber, thus she spake. Now trust me Mistresse, not one in the City speaketh well of Ruggiero, who is the man condemned to dye; and, for ought I can perceive, he hath neither Kinsman nor Friend that will doe any thing for him; but he is left with the Provost, and must be executed to morrow morning. Moreover Mistresse, by such instructions as I have received, I can well-neere informe you, by what meanes he came to the two Lombards house, if all be true that I have heard.
You know the joyner before whose doore the Chest stoode, wherein we did put Ruggiero; there is now a contention betweene him and another man, to whom (it seemeth) the Chest doth belong; in regard whereof, they are ready to quarrell extreamly each with other. For the one owing the Chest, and trusting the joyner to sell it for him, would have him to pay him for the Chest. The joyner denieth any sale thereof, avouching, that the last night it was stolne from his doore. Which the other man contrarying, maintaineth that he solde the Chest to the two Lombard usurers, as himselfe is able to affirme, because he found it in the house, when he (being present at the apprehension of Ruggiero) sawe it there in the same house. Hereupon, the joyner gave him the lye, because he never sold it to any man; but if it were there, they had robd him of it, as he would make it manifest to their faces. Then falling into clamerous speeches they went together to the Lombardes house, even as I returned home. Wherefore Mistresse, as you may easily perceive, Ruggiero was (questionlesse) carried thither in the Chest, and so there found; but how he revived againe, I cannot comprehend.
The Mistresse understanding now apparantly, the full effect of the whole businesse, and in what manner it had bene carried, revealed to the Maide her husbands speeches, concerning the glasse of sleepie Water, which was the onely engine of all this trouble, clearly acquitting Ruggiero of the robbery, howsoever (in desparate fury, and to make an end of a life so contemptible) he had wrongfully accused himselfe. And notwithstanding this his hard fortune, which hath made him much more infamous then before, in all the dissolute behaviour of his life: yet it could not quaile her affection towards him; but being loath he should dye for some other mans offence, and hoping his future reformation; she fell on her knees before her Mistresse, and (drowned in her teares) most earnestly entreated her, to advise her with some such happy course, as might be the safety of poore Ruggieroes life. Mistresse Doctor, affecting her Maide dearely, and plainely perceiving, that no disastrous fortune whatsoever, could alter her love to condemned Ruggiero; hoping the best hereafter, as the Maide her selfe did, and willing to save life rather then suffer it to be lost without just cause, she directed her in such discreet manner, as you will better conceive by the successe.
According as she was instructed by her Mistresse, she fell at the feete of Master Doctor, desiring him to pardon a great error, whereby she had over-much offended him. As how? said Master Doctor. In this manner (quoth the Maide) and thus proceeded. You are not ignorant Sir, what a lewde liver Ruggiero de Jeroly is, and notwithstanding all his imperfections, how deerely I love him, as he protesteth the like to me, and thus hath our love continued a yeere, and more. You being gone to Malfy, and your absence granting me apt opportunity, for conference with so kinde a friend; I made the bolder, and gave him entrance into your house, yea even into mine owne Chamber, yet free from any abuse, neither did he (bad though he be) offer any. Thirsty he was before his comming thither, either by salt meat, or distempered diet, and I being unable to fetch him wine or water, by reason my Mistresse sat in the Hall, seriously talking with her Sisters; remembred, that I saw a violl of Water standing in your Chamber Window, which he drinking quite off, I set it empty in the place againe. I have heard your discontentment for the said Water, and confesse my fault to you therein: but who liveth so justly, without offending at one time or other? And I am heartily sory for my transgression; yet not so much for the water, as the hard fortune that hath followed thereon; because thereby Ruggiero is in danger to lose his life, and all my hopes are utterly lost. Let me entreat you therefore (gentle Master) first to pardon me, and then to grant me permission, to succour my poore condemned friend, by all the best meanes I can devise.
When the Doctor had heard all her discourse, angry though he were, yet thus he answered with a smile. Much better had it bin, if thy follies punishment had falne on thy selfe, that it might have paide thee with deserved repentance, upon thy Mistresses finding thee sleeping. But go and get his deliverance if thou canst, with this caution, that if ever hereafter he be seene in my house, the perill thereof shall light on thy selfe. Receiving this answer, for her first entrance into the attempt, and as her Mistresse had advised her, in all hast she went to the prison, where she prevailed so well with the Jaylor, that hee granted her private conference with Ruggiero. She having instructed him what he should say to the Provost, if he had any purpose to escape with life; went thither before him to the Provost, who admitting her into his presence, and knowing that shee was Master Doctors Maid, a man especially respected of all the City, he was the more willing to heare her message, he imagining that shee was sent by her Master.
Sir (quoth shee) you have apprehended Ruggiero de Jeroly, as a theefe, and judgement of death is (as I heare) pronounced against him: but hee is wrongfully accused, and is clearly innocent of such a heinous detection. So entring into the History, she declared every circumstance, from the originall to the end: relating truly, that being her Lover, shee brought him into her Masters house, where he dranke the compounded sleepy water, and reputed for dead, she laide him in the Chest. Afterward, she rehearsed the speeches betweene the Joyner, and him that laide claime to the Chest, giving him to understand thereby, how Ruggiero was taken in the Lombards house.
The Provost presently gathering, that the truth in this case was easie to be knowne; sent first for Master Doctor Mazzeo, to know, whether he compounded any such water, or no: which he affirmed to be true, and upon what occasion he prepared it. Then the Joyner, the owner of the Chest, and the two Lombards, being severally questioned withall: it appeared evidently, that the Lombards did steale the Chest in the night season, and carried it home to their owne house. In the end, Ruggiero being brought from the prison, and demanded, where he was lodged the night before, made answer, that he knew not where. Onely he well remembred, that bearing affection to the Chamber-maide of Master Doctor Mazzeo della Montagna, she brought him into a Chamber, where a violl of water stoode in the Window, and he being extreamly thirsty, dranke it off all. But what became of him afterward (till being awake, he found himselfe enclosed in a Chest, and in the house of the two Lombards) he could not say any thing.
When the Provost had heard all their answers, which he caused them to repeate over divers times, in regard they were very pleasing to him: he cleared Ruggiero from the crime imposed on him, and condemned the Lombards in three hundred Ducates, to be given to Ruggiero in way of an amends, and to enable his marriage with the Doctors Mayde, whose constancie was much commended, and wrought such a miracle on penitent Ruggiero; that after his marriage, which was graced with great and honourable pompe, he regained the intimate love of all his kindred, and lived in most Noble condition, even as if he had never bene any disordered man.
If the former Novels had made all the Ladies sad and sighe, this last of Dioneus as much delighted them, as restoring them to their former jocond humor, and banishing Tragicall discourse for ever. The King perceiving that the Sun was neere setting, and his government as neere ending, with many kinde and courteous speeches, excused himselfe to the Ladies, for being the motive of such an argument, as expressed the infelicity of poore Lovers. And having finished his excuse, up he rose, taking the Crown of Lawrell from off his owne head, the Ladies awaiting on whose head he pleased next to set it, which proved to be the gracious Lady Fiammetta, and thus he spake. Here I place this Crowne on her head, that knoweth better then any other, how to comfort this faire assembly to morrow, for the sorrow which they have this day endured.
Madame Fiammetta, whose lockes of haire were curled, long, and like golden wiers, hanging somewhat downe over her white and delicate shoulders, her visage round, wherein the Damaske Rose and Lilly contended for priority, the eyes in her head, resembling those of the Faulcon messenger, and a dainty mouth; her lippes looking like two little Rubyes, with a commendable smile thus she replyed.
Philostratus, gladly I do accept your gift; and to the end that ye may the better remember your selfe, concerning what you have done hitherto: I will and command, that generall preparation be made against to morrow, for faire and happy fortunes hapning to Lovers, after former cruell and unkinde accidents. Which proposition was very pleasing to them all.
Then calling for the Master of the Houshold, and taking order with him, what was most needfull to be done; she gave leave unto the whole company (who were all risen) to go recreate themselves untill supper time. Some of them walked about the Garden, the beauty whereof banished the least thought of wearinesse. Others walked by the River to the Mill, which was not farre off, and the rest fell to exercises, fitting their owne fancies, untill they heard the summons for Supper. Hard by the goodly Fountaine (according to their wonted manner) they supped altogether, and were served to their no meane contentment: but being risen from the Table, they fell to their delight of singing and dancing. While Philomena led the dance, the Queene spake in this manner.
Philostratus, I intend not to varie from those courses heretofore observed by my predecessors, but even as they have already done, so it is my authority, to command a Song. And because I am well assured, that you are not unfurnished of Songs answerable to the quality of the passed Novels: my desire is, in regard we would not be troubled hereafter, with any more discourses of unfortunate Love, that you shall sing a Song agreeing with your owne disposition. Philostratus made answer, that hee was ready to accomplish her command, and without all further ceremony, thus he began.
Chorus. My teares do plainly prove?
How justly that poore heart hath cause to greev?
Which (under trust) findes Treason in his Love.
When first I saw her, that now makes me sigh?
Distrust did never enter in my thoughts.
So many vertues clearly shin'd in her?
That I esteem'd all martyrdome was ligh?
Which Love could lay on me. Nor did I greeve?
Although I found my liberty was lost.
But now mine error I do plainly see?
Not without sorrow, thus betray'd to bee.
My teares do, etc.
For, being left by basest treacher?
Of her in whom I most reposed trust?
I then could see apparant flatteri?
In all the fairest shewes that she did make.
But when I strove to get forth of the snare?
I found my selfe the further plunged in.
For I beheld another in my place?
And I cast off, with manifest disgrace.
Then felt my heart such hels of heavy woes?
Not utterable. I curst the day and hour?
When first I saw her lovely countenance?
Enricht with beautie, farre beyond all other?
Which set my soule on fire, enflamde each part?
Making a martyrdome of my poore hart.
My faith and hope being basely thus betrayde?
I durst not moove, to speake I was affrayde.
My teares do, etc.
Thou canst (thou powerfull God of Love) perceive?
My ceasselesse sorrow, voyde of any comfort?
I make my moane to thee, and do not fable?
Desiring, that to end my misery?
Death may come speedily, and with his Dar?
With one fierce stroke, quite passing through my heart?
To cut off future fell contending strife?
An happy end be made of Love and Life.
My teares do, etc.
No other meanes of comfort doth remaine?
To ease me of such sharpe afflictions?
But onely death. Grant then that I may die?
To finish greefe and life in one blest houre.
For, being bereft of any future joyes?
Come, take me quickly from so false a friend.
Yet in my death, let thy great power approve?
That I died true, and constant in my Love.
My teares do, etc.
Happy shall I account this sighing Song?
If some (beside my selfe) do learne to sing it?
And so consider of my miseries?
As may incite them to lament my wrongs.
And to be warned by my wretched fate?
Least (like my selfe) themselves do sigh too late.
Learne Lovers, learne, what tis to be unjust?
And be betrayed, where you repose best trust.
The words contained in this Song, did manifestly declare, what torturing afflictions poore Philostratus felt, and more (perhaps) had beene perceived by the lookes of the Lady whom he spake of, being then present in the dance; if the sodaine ensuing darknesse had not hid the crimson blush, which mounted up into her face. But the Song being ended, and divers other beside, lasting till the houre of rest drew on; by command of the Queene, they all repaired to their Chambers.[ Hide Tenth Novell ]