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The Squire of low degree, releast,
Britomart fightes with many Knights;
ARD is the doubt, and difficult to deeme, I When all three kinds of love together meet And doe dispart the hart with powre extreme, Whether shall weigh the balance downe; to weet, The deare affection unto kindred sweet,
Or raging fire of love to womankind,
Or zeale of friends combynd with vertues meet:
Me seemes, the gentle hart should most assured bind.
For naturall affection soone doth cesse,
And quenched is with Cupids greater flame
So love of soule doth love of bodie passe, [brasse. No lesse then perfect gold surmounts the meanest All which who list by tryall to assay
Shall in this storie find approved plaine ;
In which these Squires true friendship more did sway Then either care of parents could refraine, Or love of fairest Ladie could constraine; For though Pæana were as faire as morne, Yet did this trustie squire with proud disdaine For his friends sake her offred favours scorne, And she her selfe her syre of whom she was yborne.
Now, after that Prince Arthur graunted had
To yeeld strong succour to that gentle swayne, Who now long time had lyen in prison sad; He gan advise how best he mote darrayne That enterprize for greatest glories gayne. That headlesse tyrants tronke he reard from ground, And, having ympt the head to it agayne, Upon his usuall beast it firmely bound, And made it so to ride as it alive was found.
Then did he take that chaced Squire, and layd
Whom when the watch, that kept continuall ward, Saw comming home, all voide of doubtfull feare He, running downe, the gate to him unbard; Whom straight the Prince ensuing in together far'd.
There did he find in her delitious boure
That with the sweetnesse of her rare delight
Whence being forth produc'd, when she perceived 7
Then tooke he that same Dwarfe, and him compeld 8
And forth to bring those thrals which there he held.
Amongst the rest that Squire of low degree
Whom soone as faire Æmylia beheld
And Placidas, they both unto him ran,
Through jealous passion weeping inly wroth,
To see the sight perforce that both her eyes were loth.
But when awhile they had together beene,
And diversly conferred of their case,
She, though full oft she both of them had seene Asunder, yet not ever in one place,
Began to doubt, when she them saw embrace, Which was the captive Squire she lov'd so deare, Deceived through great likenesse of their face: For they so like in person did appeare, That she uneath discerned whether whether weare.
And eke the Prince, when as he them avized,
Their like resemblaunce much admired there, And mazd how nature had so well disguized Her worke, and counterfet her selfe so nere, As if that by one patterne, seene somewhere, She had them made a paragone to be; Or whether it through skill or errour were. Thus gazing long at them much wondred he; So did the other knights and Squires which him did see.
Then gan they ransacke that same Castle strong, 12 In which he found great store of hoorded threasure, The which that tyrant gathered had by wrong And tortious powre, without respect or measure: Upon all which the Briton Prince made seasure, And afterwards continu'd there a while
To rest him selfe, and solace in soft pleasure
And, for more joy, that captive Lady faire,
And by the rest did set in sumptuous chaire
But her the Prince, through his well wonted grace, 14
And, for to shut up all in friendly love,
Sith love was first the ground of all her griefe,
He yeelded, and her tooke; so stinted all their strife.
From that day forth in peace and joyous blis
Could shake the safe assuraunce of their state:
Had it defaste, thenceforth reformd her waies, That all men much admyrde her change, and spakc her praise.
Thus when the Prince had perfectly compyld
These paires of friends in peace and setled rest, Him selfe, whose minde did travell, as with chylde, Of his old love conceav'd in secret brest,
Resolved to pursue his former quest;
And, taking leave of all, with him did beare
Left in the victors powre, like vassall bond, Whose will her weakenesse could no way repress In case his burning lust should breake into excesse
But cause of feare, sure, had she none at all