Nonfiction > Henry Craik, ed. > English Prose > Vol. I. Fourteenth to Sixteenth Century
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Henry Craik, ed.  English Prose.  1916.
Vol. I. Fourteenth to Sixteenth Century
 
Italian Suitors
By Robert Greene (1558–1592)
 
From Mamillia

AND therefore, having obtained leave of the Duchess, [Mamillia] came home in haste [from the Duke’s court at Venice] to her father’s house in Padua, where she had not remained long, before divers young gentlemen, drawn by the passing praise of her perfection which was bruited abroad through all the city, repaired thither, all in general hoping to get the goal, and every one particularly persuading himself to have as much as any, wherewith to deserve her love; so that there was no feather, no fangle, 1 gem nor jewel, ouch 2 nor ring left behind, which might make them seemly in her sight; yea, some were so curious no doubt, as many Italian gentlemen are, which would even correct Nature, where they thought she was faulty in defect; for their narrow shoulders must have a quilted doublet of a large size; their thin body must have a coat of the Spanish cut; 3 their crooked legs, a side-slop; 4 their small shanks, a bombast 5 hose, and their dissembling mind, two faces in a hood; to wax with the moon and ebb with the sea; to bear both fire and water, to laugh and weep all with one wind.
  1
  Now amongst all this courtly crew, which resorted to the house of Gonsaga, there was a gentleman called Pharicles, a youth of wonderful wit and no less wealth, whom both nature and experience had taught the old proverb as perfect as his Pater-noster, He that cannot dissemble cannot live; which sentence is so surely settled in the minds of men, as it may very well be called in question, whether it belong unto them as an inseparable accident, or else is engrafted by nature and so fast bred by the bone as it will never out: for they will have the cloth to be good, though the lining be rotten rags; and a fine dye, though a coarse thread: their words must be as smooth as oil, though their hearts be as rough as a rock; and a smiling countenance in a frowning mind. This Pharicles, I say, fair enough, but not faithful enough, (a disease in men, I will not say incurable), craving altogether to crop the buds of her outward beauty, and not the fruits of her inward bounty; forced rather by the lust of the body, than enticed by the love of her virtue; thought by the gloze of his painted show to win the substance of her perfect mind, under his side clothes to cover his claws, with the cloak of courtesy to conceal his curiosity. For as the birds cannot be enticed to the trap, but by a stale 6 of the same kind, so he knew well enough, that she, whose mind was surely defenced with the rampart of honesty, must of necessity have the onset given by civility. He therefore, framing a sheep’s skin for his wolf’s back, and putting on a smooth hide over his panther’s paunch, used first a great gravity in his apparel, and no less demureness in his countenance and gesture, with such a civil government of his affections, as that he seemed rather to court unto Diana, than vow his service unto Venus. This gentleman being thus set in order, wanted nothing but opportunity to reveal his mind to his new mistress, hoping that if time would minister place and occasion, he would so reclaim 7 her with his feigned eloquence, as she should sease 8 upon his lure, and so cunningly cloak her with his counterfeit call, as she should come to his fist: for he thought himself not to have on all his armour, unless he had tears at command, sighs, sobs, prayers, protestations, vows, pilgrimages, and a thousand false oaths to bind every promise.  2
 
Note 1. fangle = trifling ornament. [back]
Note 2. ouch = the setting or frame of a necklace or bracelet. [back]
Note 3. of the Spanish cut.  A full overcoat. [back]
Note 4. side-slop = breeches. [back]
Note 5. bombast = stuffed. [back]
Note 6. stale = decoy. [back]
Note 7. reclaim = tame. A hawking term. [back]
Note 8. sease = alight or settle. [back]
 
 
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