Page images

By sundry meanes thereto she prickt him forth;
Now with remembrance of those spightfull speaches,
Now with opinion of his owne more worth,
Now with recounting of like former breaches
Made in their friendship, as that Hag him teaches :
And ever, when his passion is allayd,

She it revives, and new occasion reaches :
That, on a time as they together way'd,
He made him open chalenge, and thus boldly sayd;


"Too boastfull Blandamour! too long I beare

The open wrongs thou doest me day by day: Well know'st thou, when we friendship first did sweare, The covenant was, that every spoyle or pray Should equally be shard betwixt us tway : Where is my part then of this Ladie bright, Whom to thyselfe thou takest quite away? Render therefore therein to me my right, Or answere for thy wrong as shall fall out in fight."

This hand her wonne, this hand shall her defend." With that they gan their shivering speares to shake, And deadly points at eithers breast to bend, Forgetfull each to have bene ever others frend.


Exceeding wroth thereat was Blandamour,

And gan this bitter answere to him make;
"Too foolish Paridell! that fayrest floure
Wouldst gather faine, and yet no paines wouldst take:
But not so easie will I her forsake;

Their firie steedes with so untamed forse

Did beare them both to fell avenges end,
That both their speares with pitilesse remorse
Through shield and mayle and haberjeon did wend,
And in their flesh a griesly passage rend,

That with the furie of their owne affret



Each other horse and man to ground did send ;
Where, lying still awhile, both did forget

The perilous present stownd in which their lives were set.

As when two warlike Brigandines at sea,
With murdrous weapons arm'd to cruell fight,
Do meete together on the watry lea,
They stemme ech other with so fell despight,
That with the shocke of their owne heedlesse might
Their wooden ribs are shaken nigh asonder;
They which from shore behold the dreadfull sight
Of flashing fire, and heare the ordenance thonder,
Do greatly stand amaz'd at such unwonted wonder.


At length they both upstarted in amaze,

As men awaked rashly out of dreme,

And round about themselves a while did gaze; Till seeing her, that Florimell did seme, In doubt to whom she victorie should deeme, Therewith their dulled sprights they edgd anew, And, drawing both their swords with rage extreme, Like two mad mastiffes each on other flew, [hew. And shields did share, and mailes did rash, and helmes did


So furiously each other did assayle,

As if their soules they would attonce have rent
Out of their brests, that streames of bloud did rayle
Adowne, as if their springs of life were spent ;
That all the ground with purple bloud was sprent,
And all their armours staynd with bloudie gore;
Yet scarcely once to breath would they relent,
So mortall was their malice and so sore
Become, of fayned friendship which they vow'd afore.


And that which is for Ladies most befitting,

To stint all strife, and foster friendly peace,
Was from those Dames so farre and so unfitting,
As that, instead of praying them surcease,
They did much more their cruelty encrease;
Bidding them fight for honour of their love,
And rather die then Ladies cause release:

With which vaine termes so much they did them move, That both resolv'd the last extremities to prove.


There they, I weene, would fight untill this day,
Had not a Squire, even he the Squire of Dames,
By great adventure travelled that way;
Who seeing both bent to so bloudy games,
And both of old well knowing by their names,
Drew nigh, to weete the cause of their debate:
And first laide on those Ladies thousand blames,
That did not seeke t' appease their deadly hate,
But gazed on their harmes, not pittying their estate:

And then those Knights he humbly did beseech
To stay their hands, till he awhile had spoken:
Who lookt a little up at that his speech,
Yet would not let their battell so be broken,
Both greedie fiers on other to be wroken.
Yet he to them so earnestly did call,

And them conjur'd by some well knowen token, That they at last their wrothfull hands let fall, Content to heare him speake, and glad to rest withall.

First he desir'd their cause of strife to see:

They said, it was for love of Florimell.

Glad man was he to see that joyous sight,

For none alive but joy'd in Florimell,
And lowly to her lowting thus behight;
66 Fayrest of faire, that fairenesse doest excell,
This happie day I have to greete you well,
In which you safe I see, whom thousand late
Misdoubted lost through mischiefe that befell;
Long may you live in health and happie state!"
She litle answer'd him, but lightly did aggrate.




"Ah! gentle Knights," quoth he, "how may that bee, And she so farre astray, as none can tell?" "Fond Squire," full angry then sayd Paridell, "Seest not the Ladie there before thy face?" He looked backe, and, her avising well, Weend, as he said, by that her outward grace That fayrest Florimell was present there in place.


Then, turning to those Knights, he gan anew;
"And you, Sir Blandamour, and Paridell,
That for this Ladie present in your vew
Have rays'd this cruell warre and outrage fell,
Certes, me seemes, bene not advised well;
But rather ought in friendship for her sake
To joyne your force, their forces to repell
That seeke perforce her from you both to take,
And of your gotten spoyle their owne triumph to make."

[ocr errors]

Thereat Sir Blandamour, with countenance sterne
All full of wrath, thus fiercely him bespake;
“Aread, thou Squire, that I the man may learne,
That dare fro me thinke Florimell to take!"

"Not one," quoth he, "but many doe partake

Herein; as thus: It lately so befell,

That Satyran a Girdle did uptake
Well knowne to appertaine to Florimell,
Which for her sake he wore, as him beseemed well.



"But, whenas she herselfe was lost and gone,
Full many Knights, that loved her like deare,
Thereat did greatly grudge, that he alone
That lost faire Ladies ornament should weare,
And gan therefore close spight to him to beare;
Which he to shun, and stop vile Envies sting,
Hath lately caus'd to be proclaim'd each where
A solemne feast, with publike turneying,
To which all Knights with them their Ladies are to bring:


"And of them all she, that is fayrest found,

Shall have that golden Girdle for reward;

And of those Knights, who is most stout on ground, Shall to that fairest Ladie be prefard. Since therefore she herselfe is now your ward, To you that ornament of hers pertaines, Against all those that chalenge it, to gard, And save her honour with your ventrous paines; That shall you win more glory than ye here find gaines."


When they the reason of his words had hard,
They gan abate the rancour of their rage,
And with their honours and their loves regard
The furious flames of malice to asswage.
Tho each to other did his faith engage,
Like faithfull friends thenceforth to joyne in one
With all their force, and battell strong to wage
Gainst all those Knights, as their professed fone,
That chaleng'd ought in Florimell, save they alone.

So, well accorded, forth they rode together

In friendly sort, that lasted but a while;

And of all old dislikes they made faire weather:
Yet all was forg'd and spred with golden foyle,
That under it hidde hate and hollow guyle.
Ne certes can that friendship long endure,
However gay and goodly be the style,
That doth ill cause or evill end enure:
For vertue is the band that bindeth harts most sure.

Thus as they marched all in close disguise

Of fayned love, they chaunst to overtake
Two Knights that lincked rode in lovely wise,
As if they secret counsels did partake;

And each not farre behinde him had his Make,
To weete, two Ladies of most goodly hew,
That twixt themselves did gentle purpose make,
Unmindfull both of that discordfull crew,
The which with speedie pace did after them pursew.




Who, as they now approched nigh at hand,
Deeming them doughtie as they did appeare,
They sent that Squire afore, to understand
What mote they be: who, viewing them more neare,
Returned readie newes, that those same weare
Two of the prowest Knights in Faery Lond;
And those two Ladies their two Lovers deare;
Couragious Cambell, and stout Triamond,
With Canacee and Cambine linckt in lovely bond.


« PreviousContinue »