Page images

Ne day nor night he suffred her to rest,

But her all night did watch, and all the day molest.


At last, when him she so impórtune1 saw,

Fearing least he at length the raines would lend
Unto his lust, and make his will his law,
Sith in his powre she was to foe or friend;
She thought it best, for shadow, to pretend
Some shew of favour, by him gracing small,
That she thereby mote either freely wend,3
Or at more ease continue there his thrall:
A little well is lent that gaineth more withall.


So from thenceforth, when love he to her made, With better tearmes she did him entertaine, Which gave him hope, and did him halfe perswade, That he in time her ioyance should obtaine: But when she saw, through that small favours gaine, That further then she willing was he prest5; She found no meanes to barre him, but to faine A sodaine sickenesse which her sore opprest, And made unfit to serve his lawlesse mindes behest.


By meanes whereof she would not him permit

Once to approach to her in privity,

But onely mongst the rest by her to sit,
Mourning the rigour of her malady,
And seeking all things meete for remedy:
But she resolv'd no remedy to fynde,

1 Impórtune, importunate.

4 Then, than.

Sith, since.

3 Wend, go.

5 Prest, ready, inclined.

VI. 4.- To foe or friend.] To be a foe or a friend, as he pleased.

Nor better cheare to shew in misery,

Till Fortune would her captive bonds unbynde: Her sickenesse was not of the body but the mynde.


During which space that she thus sicke did lie,

It chaunst a sort of Merchants, which were wount To skim those coastes for bondmen there to buy, And by such trafficke after gaines to hunt, Arrived in this isle, though bare and blunt,2 T' inquire for slaves; where being readie met By some of these same Theeves at th' instant brunt, Were brought unto their Captaine, who was set By his faire patients side with sorrow full regret.


To whom they shewed, how those Marchants were
Arriv'd in place their bondslaves for to buy;
And therefore prayd that those same captives there
Mote to them for their most commodity 3
Be sold, and mongst them shared equally.
This their request the Captaine much appalled;
Yet could he not their iust demaund deny,

And willed streight the slaves should forth be called, And sold for most advantage not to be forstalled.


Then forth the good old Melibee was brought,

And Coridon with many other moe,1

Whom they before in diverse spoyles had caught; All which he to the Marchants sale did showe: Till some, which did the sundry prisoners knowe,

1 Sort, company.

2 Blunt, uncultivated.

3 Commodity, advantage. 4 Moe, more.

IX. 7. — At th' instant brunt.] Instantly, or immediately

Gan to inquire for that faire Shepherdesse,

Which with the rest they tooke not long agoe;
And gan her forme and feature to expresse,

The more t'augment her price through praise of comlinesse.


To whom the Captaine in full angry wize

Made answere, that "the Mayd of whom they spake
Was his owne purchase1 and his onely prize;
With which none had to doe, ne ought partake,
But he himselfe which did that conquest make;
Litle for him to have one silly 2 lasse ;

Besides through sicknesse now so wan and weake,
That nothing meet in merchandise to passe:"

So shew'd them her, to prove how pale and weake she was.


The sight of whom, though now decayd and mard,
And eke but hardly seene by candle-light,

Yet, like a diamond of rich regard,3

In doubtfull shadow of the darkesome night
With starrie beames about her shining bright,
These Marchants fixed eyes did so amaze,

That what through wonder, and what through delight,
A while on her they greedily did gaze,

And did her greatly like, and did her greatly praize.


At last when all the rest them offred were,

And prises to them placed at their pleasure,
They all refused in regard of her;

Ne ought would buy, however prisd with measure,
Withouten her, whose worth above all threasure
They did esteeme, and offred store of gold:

1 Purchase, something purchased or procured, property.
2 Silly, simple.


Regard, value.

But then the Captaine, fraught with more displeasure, Bad them be still; "his Love should not be sold; The rest take if they would; he her to him would hold.”


Therewith some other of the chiefest Theeves
Boldly him bad such iniurie forbeare;
For that same Mayd, however it him greeves,
Should with the rest be sold before him theare,
To make the prises of the rest more deare.
That with great rage he stoutly doth denay1;
And, fiercely drawing forth his blade, doth sweare
That whoso hardie hand on her doth lay,
It dearely shall aby, and death for handsell pay.


Thus, as they words amongst them multiply,
They fall to strokes, the frute of too much talke,
And the mad steele about doth fiercely fly,
Not sparing wight, ne leaving any balke,
But making way for Death at large to walke;
Who, in the horror of the griesly night,

In thousand dreadful shapes doth mongst them stalke,
And makes huge havocke; whiles the candle-light
Out-quenched leaves no skill nor difference of wight.


Like as a sort of hungry dogs, ymet

1 Denay, deny.

2 Aby, abide.

3 Sort, company.

XV. 9.- Handsell.] Handsell is a term used in contracts of business for that which is given as a pledge or earnest of future payment. It is here used in the sense of price, or reward.

XVI. 4. Ne leaving any balke.] "Balke is here used in the sense of balke in agriculture; that is, a ridge of land between two furrows. Ne leaving any balke; i. e., leaving no ridges or furrows; making all even."-UPTON.

About some carcase by the common way,
Doe fall together, stryving each to get
The greatest portion of the greedie pray;
All on confused heapes themselves assay,

And snatch, and byte, and rend, and tug, and teare;
That who them sees would wonder at their fray,
And who sees not would be affrayd to heare:
Such was the conflict of those cruell Brigants there.

But, first of all, their captives they doe kill,
Least they should ioyne against the weaker side,
Or rise against the remnant at their will:

Old Melibee is slaine; and him beside

His aged wife; with many others wide:
But Coridon, escaping craftily,

Creepes forth of dores, whilst darknes him doth hide,
And flyes away as fast as he can hye,

Ne stayeth leave to take before his friends doe dye.


But Pastorella, wofull wretched elfe,

Was by the Captaine all this while defended, Who, minding more her safety then himselfe, His target alwayes over her pretended 1 ; By meanes whereof, that mote not be amended, He at the length was slaine and layd on ground, Yet holding fast twixt both his armes extended Fayre Pastorell, who with the selfe same wound Launcht through the arme fell down with him in drerie


1 Pretended, stretched over.

XVIII. 5.- Wide.] Far and wide; round about.

« PreviousContinue »