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lute, both for beauty and virtue'? let such as have been stung with the scorpion be warned: speak thou as thou findest, and then thou wilt that women are creatures, as excellent in mind, as they be singular in complexion : as far beyond men in inward virtues, as they exceed men in exterior beauties !
I grant all this: yet, PHILIPPO, the juice of the hellebore is poison; the
greener the alisander leaves be, the more bitter is the sap; every outward appearance is not an authentical instance: women have chaste eyes, when they have wanton thoughts; and modest looks, when they harbour lascivious wishes: the eagle, when he soareth nearest to the sun, then he hovers for his salamander is most warm, when he lieth furthest from the fire: and then are women most heart-hollow, when they are most lip-holy ! And by these premises, Puilippo, argue of thy wife's preciseness ; for though she seem chaste, yet may she secretly delight in change; and though her countenance be coy to all, yet her conscience may be courteous to some one: when the sun shines most garish, it foreshews a shower; when the birds sing early, there is a storm before night; women's flatteries are no more to be trusted than an astronomer’s almanack, that proclaimeth that for a most fair day, that
proves most cloudy; and so of PHILOMELA.”
As thus as the Count PHILIPPO was jarring with himself about this humour of jealousy, there came to him while he sat (for all this while he was in an arbour in his garden) a familiar friend of his, called Seignior Giovanni LuteSIO, so private unto the Earl in all his secret affairs, that he concealed nothing from him which came within the compass of his thoughts. This Seignior Giovanni seeing the Count in a brown study, wakened him out of his muse
1 What dearer debt in all humanity Than wife is to the husband ?
Troilus and Cressida.
with a merry greeting, and bade a penny for his thought. The Earl seeing his second self, his only repository of his private passions, entertained him very courteously, and, after some familiar speeches used betwixt them, Giovanni began to question what the cause was of that melancholy dump that he found him in. The Earl fetching a great sigh, taking Lutesio by the hand, setting him down by him, began to rehearse from point to point what a jealous suspicion he had of his wife's beauty, and that for all the shew of her honesty, he somewhat doubted of her chastity.
GIOVANNI, who with a reverend love favoured the Countess, began somewhat sharply to reprove the Earl, that he should admit of so foolish a passion as jealousy, and misconstrue of her whose virtuous life was so famous through all Venice. As suspicious heads want not sophistry to supply their mistrust', so Philip at that time was not barren of arguments, to prove the subtlety of women; their inconstancy; how they were faced like Janus, having one full of furrows, the other of smiles, swearing, he should never be merry at his heart, till he had made an assured proof of her chastity. And with that he broke with Seignior Giovanni Lutes10, that he should be the man to make experience of her honesty, although the gentleman was very unwilling to take such a task in hand, doubting, lest in dallying with the flame, he might burn his finger, and so injure his friend. Yet, at the importunate entreaty of PhilipPO, he
promised to undertake the matter, and by all means possible to assault the invincible fort of her chastity; protesting, that if he found her pliant to listen to his passions, he would make it manifest to him without dissembling.
Philippo glad of this, to grant Giovanni opportunity to court his wife, would be more often abroad; and that he might drive her the sooner to listen unto his suit, he used not that wonted love and familiarity that he was accustomed to do, but quitted all her dutiful favours with uncouth and disdainful frowns, so that
poor PHILOMELA, who knew nothing of his compacted treachery, began to wonder what had altered her husband's wonted humour; and like a good wife she began to examine her own conscience, wherein she had given him any occasion of offence. Feeling herself guiltless (unless his own conceit deceived him) she imagined that her husband affected some other lady more than herself; which imagination she concealed with patience, and resolved not, by revealing it, to retrieve him from his new entertained fancy, but with obedience, love and silence' to recover her PHILIPPO to favour none but his PHILOMELA.
While thus her mind a little suspicious began to waver, LuTesio began to lay his baits to betray this silly innocent. Now you must imagine, he was a young Gentleman of a good house, of no mean wealth, nor any way made unfortunate by nature, for he was counted the most fine and courtly gentleman in all Venice. This Lutesio therefore seeking fit opportunity to find Madam PhiloMELA in a merry vein (for time is called that capillata ministra, that favours lovers in their fortunes) watched so narrowly, that he found the Countess sitting alone in her garden, playing upon a lute many pretty roundelays, borginets, madrigals, and such pleasant lessons, all as it were, amorous love, vowed in honour of Venus; singing to her lùte many pretty and merry ditties, some of her own composing, and some written by some witty gentlemen of Venice;
thinking now time had smiled upon him, by putting her in such an humorous vein. At last he heard her warble out this pleasant ode.
PHILOMELA'S ODE THAT SHE SUNG IN HER ARBOUR.
Sitting by a river's side,
No such quiet to the mind,
No love sweet but honesty.
Philomela seeing Lutesio took her napping in singing merry an ode, shewed in the blush of her cheeks, the bashfulness of her thoughts; yet knowing he was her husband's familiar, she cared the less, and smiling, made him this pleasant answer: “ Seignior LUTesio, as I relished a wanton song at random, so I little looked your ears should have been troubled with my music; but since
Fire that is closest kept, burns most of all.
Two Gentlemen of Verona.
Shakesp. Rich. II.