Page images

Behinde him was Reproch, Repentaunce, Shame;
Reproch the first, Shame next, Repent behinde:
Repentaunce feeble, sorrowfull, and lame;
Reproch despightful, carelesse, and unkinde;
Shame most ill-favourd, bestiall, and blinde:
Shame lowrd, Repentaunce sighd, Reproch did scould;
Reproch sharpe stings, Repentaunce whips entwinde,
Shame burning brond-yrons in her hand did hold:
All three to each unlike, yet all made in one mould.

And after them a rude confused rout

Of persons flockt, whose names is hard to read: Emongst them was sterne Strife; and Anger stout; Unquiet Care; and fond Unthriftyhead; Lewd Losse of Time; and Sorrow seeming dead; Inconstant Chaunge; and false Disloyalty ; Consuming Riotise; and guilty Dread Of heavenly vengeaunce; faint Infirmity; Vile Poverty; and, lastly, Death with infamy.

There were full many moe like Maladies,

Whose names and natures I note readen well;
So many moe, as there be phantasies

In wavering wemens witt, that none can tell,
Or paines in love, or punishments in hell:
All which disguized marcht in masking-wise
About the Chamber by the Damozell;
And then returned, having marched thrise,
Into the inner rowme from whence they first did rise.

So soone as they were in, the dore streightway
Fast locked, driven with that stormy blast
Which first it opened, and bore all away.
Then the brave Maid, which al this while was plast
In secret shade, and saw both first and last,
Issewed forth and went unto the dore

To enter in, but fownd it locked fast:
It vaine she thought with rigorous uprore
For to efforce, when charmes had closd it afore.





Where force might not availe, there sleights and art 28
She cast to use, both fitt for hard emprize :
Forthy from that same rowme not to depart
Till morrow next shee did herselfe avize,
When that same Maske againe should forth arize.
The morrowe next appeard with joyous cheare,
Calling men to their daily exercize:

Then she, as morrow fresh, herselfe did reare
Out of her secret stand that day for to outweare.

All that day she outwore in wandering

And gazing on that Chambers ornament,
Till that againe the second Evening
Her covered with her sable vestiment,
Wherewith the worlds faire beautie she hath blent:
Then, when the second watch was almost past,
That brasen dore flew open, and in went
Bold Britomart, as she had late forecast,
Nether of ydle showes nor of false charmes aghast.

So soone as she was entred, rownd about

Shee cast her eies to see what was become
Of all those persons which she saw without.
But lo! they streight were vanisht all and some;
Ne living wight she saw in all that roome,
Save that same woefull Lady; both whose hands
Were bounden fast, that did her ill become,

And her small waste girt rownd with yron bands
Unto a brasen pillour, by the which she stands.



And, her before, the vile Enchaunter sate,

Figuring straunge characters of his art; With living blood he those characters wrate, Dreadfully dropping from her dying hart, Seeming transfixed with a cruell dart; And all perforce to make her him to love. · Ah! who can love the worker of her smart! A thousand charmes he formerly did prove; Yet thousand charmes could not her stedfast hart remove.


Soon as that Virgin Knight he saw in place,
His wicked bookes in hast he overthrew,
Not caring his long labours to deface;
And, fiercely running to that Lady trew,
A murdrous knife out of his pocket drew,
The which he thought, for villeinous despight,
In her tormented bodie to embrew:

But the stout Damzell to him leaping light
His cursed hand withheld, and maistered his might.

From her, to whom his fury first he ment,

The wicked weapon rashly he did wrest,
And, turning to herselfe his fell intent,
Unwares it strooke into her snowie chest,
That litle drops empurpled her faire brest.
Exceeding wroth therewith the Virgin grew,
Albe the wound were nothing deepe imprest,
And fiercely forth her mortall blade she drew,
To give him the reward for such vile outrage dew.



So mightily she smote him, that to ground


He fell halfe dead; next stroke him should have slaine,
Had not the Lady, which by him stood bound,
Dernly unto her called to abstaine

From doing him to dy; for else her paine
Should be remédilesse; sith none but hee
Which wrought it could the same recure againe.
Therewith she stayd her hand, loth stayd to bee;
For life she him envyde, and long'd revenge to see:


And to him said; Thou wicked man, whose meed 35
For so huge mischiefe and vile villany

Is death, or if that ought doe death exceed;
Be sure that nought may save thee from to dy
But if that thou this Dame do presently
Restore unto her health and former state;
This doe, and live; els dye undoubtedly."
He, glad of life, that lookt for death but late,
Did yield himselfe right willing to prolong his date :

And rising up gan streight to over-looke

Those cursed leaves, his charmes back to reverse:
Full dreadfull thinges out of that balefull booke
He red, and measur'd many a sad verse,
That horrour gan the Virgins hart to perse,
And her faire locks up stared stiffe on end,
Hearing him those same bloody lynes reherse;
And, all the while he red, she did extend
Her sword high over him, if ought he did offend.

Anon she gan perceive the house to quake,
And all the dores to rattle round about;
Yet all that did not her dismaied make,
Nor slack her threatfull hand for daungers dout,
But still with stedfast eye and courage stout
Abode, to weet what end would come of all:
At last that mightie chaine, which round about
Her tender waste was wound, adowne gan fall,
And that great brasen pillour broke in peeces small.

The cruell steele, which thrild her dying hart,
Fell softly forth, as of his owne accord;
And the wyde wound, which lately did dispart
Her bleeding brest and riven bowels gor'd,
Was closed up, as it had not beene sor'd;
And every part to safety full sownd,

As she were never hurt, was soone restord:
Tho, when she felt herselfe to be unbownd
And perfect hole, prostrate she fell unto the grownd;




Before faire Britomart she fell prostrate,

Saying; "Ah! noble Knight, what worthy meede
Can wretched Lady, quitt from wofull state,
Yield you in lieu of this your gracious deed?
Your vertue selfe her owne reward shall breed,
Even immortal prayse and glory wyde,

Which I your vassall, by your prowesse freed,
Shall through the world make to be notifyde,
And goodly well advaunce that goodly well was tryde."


But Britomart, uprearing her from grownd,
"Gentle Dame, reward enough I weene,
For many labours more than I have found,
This, that in safetie now I have you seene,
And meane of your deliverance have beene:
Henceforth, faire Lady, comfort to you take,
And put away remembrance of late teene;
Insted thereof, know that your loving Make
Hath no lesse griefe endured for your gentle sake."

She much was cheard to heare him mentiond,

Whom of all living wightes she loved best.
Then laid the noble Championesse strong hond
Upon th' Enchaunter which had her distrest
So sore, and with foule outrages opprest :
With that great chaine, wherewith not long ygoe
He bound that pitteous Lady prisoner now relest,
Himselfe she bound, more worthy to be so,
And captive with her led to wretchednesse and wo.

Returning back, those goodly rowmes, which erst
She saw so rich and royally arayd,

Now vanisht utterly and cleane subverst
She found, and all their glory quite decayd;
That sight of such a chaunge her much dismayd.
Thence forth descending to that perlous porch,
Those dreadfull flames she also found delayd

And quenched quite like a consumed torch,
That erst all entrers wont so cruelly to scorch.

More easie issew now then entrance late

She found; for now that fained-dreadfull flame,
Which chokt the porch of that enchaunted gate
And passage bard to all that thither came,
Was vanisht quite, as it were not the same,.
And gave her leave at pleasure forth to passe.
Th' Enchaunter selfe, which all that fraud did frame
To have efforst the love of that faire Lasse,
Seeing his worke now wasted, deepe engrieved was.





« PreviousContinue »