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ROSAMOND TO KING HENRI”. (from ENGLAND's HERoicAl Epistles.)
Henry the Second keepeth (with much care)
Lord Clifford's daughter, Rosamond the fair;
And whilst his sons do Normandy invade,
He forc'd to France, with wond’rous cost hath made
A labyrinth in Woodstock, where unseen
His love might lodge safe from his jealous queen:
Yet when he stay’d beyond his time abroad,
Her pensive breast, his darling to unload,
In this epistle doth her grief complain;
And his rescription tells her his again.
If yet thine eyes (Great Henry) may endure
These tainted lines, drawn with a hand impure,
(Which sain would blush, but fear keeps blushes
And therefore suted in despairing black) [back,
Let me for Love's sake their acceptance crave.
But that sweet name vile I profaned have ;
Punish my fault, or pity mine estate;
Read them for love, if not for love, for hate.
If with my shame thine eyes thou fain would'st
Here let them surfeit of my shame to read. [feed,
This scribbled paper which I send to thee,
If noted rightly, doth resemble me:
As this pure ground, whereon these letters stand,
So pure was 1, ere stained by thy hand;
Ere I was blotted with this foul offence,
So clear and spotless was mine innocence:
Now, like these marks which taint this hateful scroul,
Such the black sins which spot my leprous soul.
What by this conquest canst thou hope to win,
Where thy best spoil is but the act of sin
Why on my name this slander dost thou bring,
To make my fault renowned by a king?
“Fame never stoops to things but mean and poor,
The more our greatness, our fault is the more;
Lights on the ground themselves do lessen far
But in the air each small spark seems a star.”
Why on my woman-frailty should'st thou lay
So strong a plot mine honour to betray?
Orthy unlawful pleasure should'st thou buy,
Both with thine own shame and my infamy?
‘Twas not my mind consented to this ill,
Then had I been transported by my will;
For what my body was inforc'd to do,
(Heav'n knows) my soul yet ne'er consented to:
For through mine eyes had she her liking seen,
Such as my love, such had my lover been.
* True love is simple, like his mother truth,
Kindly affection, youth to love with youth;
No greater cor'sive to our blooming years,
Than the cold badge of winter-blasted hairs.
Thy kingly power makes to withstand thy foes,
But cannot keep back age, with time it grows:
Though honour our ambitious sex doth please,
Yet, in that honour, age a foul disease:
Nature hath her free course in all, and then
Age is alike in kings and other men.”
Which all the world will to my shame impute,
That I myself did basely prostitute;
And say, that gold was fuel to the fire,
Gray hairs in youth not kindling green desire.
O no, that wicked woman wrought by thee,
My tempter was to that forbidden tree;
That subtle serpent, that seducing devil,
Which bade me taste the fruit of good and evil:
That Circe, by whose magic I was charm’d,
And to this monstrous shape am thus transform'd:
That vip'rous hag, the foe to her own kind,
That dev’lish spirit, to damn the weaker mind,
Our frailty's plague, our sex's only curse,
Hell's deep'st damnation, the worst evil's worse.
But Henry, how canst thou affect me thus,
To whom thy remembrance now is odious?
My hapless name, with Henry's name I found
Cut in the glass with Henry's diamond;
That glass from thence fain would I take away,
But then I fear the air would me betray:
Then do I strive to wash it out with tears,
But then the same more evident appears.
Then do I cover it with my guilty hand,
Which that name's witness doth against me stand:
Once did I sin, which memory doth cherish,
Once I offended, but I for ever perish.
“What grief can be, but time doth make it less
But infamy time never can suppress.”
Sometimes, to pass the tedious irksome hours,
I climb the top of Woodstock's mounting tow’rs,
Where in a turret secretly I lie,
To view from far such as do travel by:
Whither, methinks, all cast their eyes at me,
As through the stones my shame did make them see;
And with such hate the harmless walls do view,
As ev'n to death their eyes would me pursue.
The married women curse my hateful life,
Wronging a fair queen and a virtuous wife:
The maidens wish I buried quick may die,
And from each place near my abode do flie.
Well knew'st thou what a monster I would be,
When thou didst build this labyrinth for me,
Whose strange meanders turning ev'ry way,
Be like the course wherein my youth did stray :
Only a clue doth guide me out and in,
But yet still walk I circular in sin.
As in the gallery this other day,
I and my woman past the time away, -
'Mongst many pictures which were hanging by,
The silly girl at length hapt to espy
Chaste Lucrece' image, and desires to know
What she should be, herself that murder'd so
Why, girl (quoth 1) this is that Roman dame—
Not able then to tell the rest for shame,
My tongue doth mine own guiltiness betray;
With that I sent the prattling wench away,
Lest when my lisping guilty tongue should halt,
My lips might prove the index to my fault.
As that life-blood which from the heart is sent,
In beauty's field pitching his crimson tent,
In lovely sanguine sutes the lily cheek,
Whilst it but for a resting place doth seek;
And changing oftentimes with sweet delight,
Converts the white to red, the red to white :
The blush with paleness for the place doth strive,
The paleness thence the blush would gladly drive:
Thus in my breast a thousand thoughts I carry,
Which in my passion diversly do vary.
When as the sun hales tow'rds the western slade,
And the trees shadows hath much taller made,
Forth go I to a little current near,
Which like a wanton trail creeps here and there,
Where with mine angle casting in my bait,
The little fishes (dreading the deceit)
With fearful nibbling fly th’ inticing gin,
By nature taught what danger lies therein.
Things reasonless thus warn’d by nature be,
Yet I devour'd the bait was laid for me:
Thinking thereon, and breaking into groans,
The bubbling spring, which trips upon the stones,
Chides me away, lest sitting but too nigh,
I should pollute that native purity.
Rose of the World, so doth import my name,
Shame of the World, my life hath made the same:
And to th' unchaste this name shall given be
Of Rosamond, deriv'd from sin and me.
The Cliffords take from me that name of theirs,
Which hath been famous for so many years:
They blot my birth with hateful bastardy,
That I sprang not from their nobility;
They my alliance utterly refuse,
Nor will a strumpet shall their name abuse.
Here in the garden, wrought by curious hands,
Naked Diana in the fountain stands,
With all her nymphs got round about to hide her,
As when Acteon had by chance espy’d her:
This sacred image I no sooner view’d,
But as that metamorphos'd man pursu'd
By his own hounds, so by my thoughts am I,
Which chase me still, which way soe’er I fly.
Touching the grass, the honey-dropping dew,
Which falls in tears before my limber shoe,
Upon my foot consumes in weeping still,
As it would say, Why went'st thou to this ill;
Thus to no place in safety can I go,
But every thing doth give me cause of wo.
In that fair casket of such wond’rous cost,
Thou sent'st the night before mine honour lost,
Amimone was wrought, a harmless maid,
By Neptune that adult'rous God betray'd,
She prostrate at his feet, begging with pray'rs,
Wringing her hands, her eyes swoln up with tears:
This was not an entrapping bait from thee,
But by thy virtue gently warning me,
Yet was she kept with Argus’ hundred eyes,
So wakeful still be Juno's jealousies:
By this I well might have forwarned been,
To have clear'd myself to thy suspecting Queen,
Who with more hundred eyes attendeth me,
Than had poor Argus single eyes to see.
In this thou rightly imitatest Jove,
Into a beast thou hast transform'd thy love;
Nay, worser far (beyond their beastly kind)
A monster both in body and in mind.
The waxen taper which I burn by night,
With the dull vap'ry dimness mocks my sight,
As tho’ the damp, which hinders the clear flame,
Came from my breath in that night of my shame:
When as it look'd with a dark lowering eye,
To see the loss of my virginity.
And if a star but by the glass appear,
I straight intreat it not to look in here:
I am already hateful to the light,
And will it too betray me to the night?
Then sith my shame so much belongs to thee,
Rid me of that, by only murd'ring me;
And let it justly to my charge be laid,
That I thy person meant to have betray'd :
Thou shalt not need by circumstance t'accuse me ;
If I deny it, let the heavens refuse me.
My life's a blemish, which doth cloud thy name,
Take it away, and clear shall shine thy fame:
Yield to my suit, if ever pity mov'd thee;
In this shew mercy, as I ever lov'd thee.
HENRY HOWARD, EARL OF SURREP, TO THE LADY GERALDINE.
The Earl of Surrey, that renowned lord,
Th' old English glory bravely that restor'd,
That prince and poet (a mame more divine)
Falling in love with beauteous Geraldine,
Of the Geraldi, which derive their name
From Florence: whither to advance her fame,
He travels, and in public jousts maintain'd
Her beauty peerless, which by arms he gain'd :
By staying long, fair Italy to see,
To let her know him constant still to be,
From Tuscany this letter to her writes;
Which her rescription instantly invites.
From learned Florence (long time rich in fame)
From whence thy race, thy noble grandsires came
To famous England, that kind nurse of mine,
Thy Surrey sends to heav'nly Geraldine.
Yet let not Tuscan think I do it wrong,
That I from thence write in my native tongue;
That in these harsh-tun'd cadences I sing,
Sitting so near the muses' sacred spring;
But rather think it self adorn'd thereby,
That England reads the praise of Italy.
Though to the Tuscans I the smoothness grant, Our dialect no majesty doth want, To set thy praises in as high a key, As France, or Spain, or Germany, or they. What day I quit the fore-land of fair Kent, And that my ship her course for Flanders bent, Yet think I with how many a heavy look My leave of England and of thee I took, And did intreat the tide (if it might be) But to convey me one sigh back to thee. Up to the deck a billow lightly skips, Taking my sigh, and down again it slips, Into the gulph itself it headlong throws, And as a post to England-ward it goes. As I sate wond'ring how the rough sea stirr'd, I might far off perceive a little bird, Which as she fain from shore to shore would fly, Had lost herself in the broad vasty sky, Her feeble wing beginning to deceive her, The seas of life still gaping to bereave her: Unto the ship she makes, which she discovers, And there (poor fool!) a while for refuge hovers; And when at length her flagging pinion fails, Panting she hangs upon the rolling sails, And being forc'd to loose her hold with pain, Yet beaten off, she straight lightson again, [weather, And toss'd with flaws, with storms, with wind, with Yet still departing thence, still turneth thither: Now with the poop, now with the prow doth bear, Now on this side, now that, now here, now there. Methinks these storms should be my sad depart, The silly helpless bird is my poor heart, The ship, to which for succour it repairs, That is yourself, regardless of my cares. Of every surge doth fall, or wave doth rise, To some one thing l sit and moralize. When for thy love I left the Belgic shore, Divine Erasmus, and our famous More, Whose happy presence gave me such delight, As made a minute of a winter's night; . With whom a while I staid at Roterdame, Now so renowned by Erasmus' name: Yet every hour did seem a world of time, Till I had seen that soul-reviving clime, And thought the foggy Netherlands unfit, A wat'ry soil to clog a fiery wit. And as that wealthy Germany I past, Coming unto the Emperor's court at last, Great-learn’d Agrippa, so profound in art, Who the infernal secrets doth impart, When of thy health I did desire to know, Me in a glass my Geraldine did show, Sick in thy bed; and for thou could'st not sleep, By a wax taper set the light to keep; I do remember thou didst read that ode, Sent back whilst I in Thanet made abode, Where when thou cam'st unto that word of love, Ev’n in thine eyes I saw how passion strove : That snowy lawn which covered thy bed, Methought look’d white, to see thy cheek so red; Thy rosy cheek oft changing in my sight, Yet still was red, to see the lawn so white:
The little taper which should give thee light, Methought wax'd dim, to see thy eyes so bright; Thine eye again supply'd the taper's turn, And with his beams more brightly made it burn: . The shrugging air about thy temples hurls, And wrapt thy breath in little clouded curls, And as it did ascend, it straight did seize it, And as it sunk it presently did raise it. Canst thou by sickness banish beauty so, Which if put from thee, knows not where to go To make her shift, and for succour seek To every rivel’d face, each bankrupt cheek? “If health preserv'd, thou beauty still dost cherish; If that neglected, beauty soon doth perish.” Care draws on care, woe comforts woe again, Sorrow breeds sorrow, one grief brings forth twain. If live or die, as thou do'st, so do I: If live, I live; and if thou die, I die: One heart, one love, one joy, one grief, one troth, One good, one ill, one life, one death to both. If Howard's blood thou hold'st as but too vile, Or not esteem'st of Norfolk's princely stile; If Scotland's coat no mark of fame can lend, That lion plac'd in our bright silver bend, Which as a trophy beautifies our shield, Since Scottish blood discolour'd Floden field; When the proud Cheviot our brave ensign bare, As a rich jewel in a lady's hair, And did fair Bramston's neighbouring vallies choke With clouds of cannons fire-disgorged smoke; If Surrey's earldom insufficient be, And not a dower so well contenting thee: Yet I am one of great Apollo's heirs, The sacred Muses challenge me for theirs. By Princes my immortal lines are sung, My flowing verses grac'd with ev'ry tongue: The little children when they learn to go, By painful mothers daded to and fro, Are taught my sugar'd numbers to rehearse, And have their sweet lips season'd with my verse. When heav'n would strive to do the best it can, And put an angel's spirit into man, The utmost power it hath, it then doth spend, When to the world a Poet it doth intend. That little diff'rence 'twixt the gods and us, (By them confirm'd) distinguish'd only thus: Whom they in birth ordain to happy days, The gods commit their glory to our praise; To eternal life when they dissolve their breath, We likewise share a second pow'r by death. When time shall turn those amber locks to gray, My verse again shall gild and make them gay And trick them up in knotted curls anew, And to thy autumn give a summer's hue; That sacred pow'r, that in my ink remains, Shall put fresh blood into thy wither'd veins, And on thy red decay’d, thy whiteness dead, Shall set a white more white, a red more red: When thy dim sight thy glass cannot descry, Northy craz'd mirror can discern thine eye; My verse, to tell th' one what the other was, Shall represent them both, thine eye and glassi
Where both thy mirror and thine eye shall see,
What once thou saw'st in that, that saw in thee;
And to them both shall tell the simple truth,
What that in pureness was, what thou in youth.
If Florence once should lose her old renown,
As famous Athens, now a fisher-town;
My lines for thee a Florence shall erect,
Which great Apollo ever shall protect,
And with the numbers from my pen that falls,
Bring marble mines to re-erect those walls.
Nor beauteous Stanhope, whom all tongues report
To be the glory of the English court,
Shall by our nation be so much admir’d,
If ever Surrey truly were inspir'd.
And famous Wyat, who in numbers sings
To that enchanting Thracian harper's strings,
To whom Phoebus (the Poets' god) did drink
A bowl of nectar, fill'd up to the brink;
And sweet-tongu'd Bryan (whom the Muses kept,
And in his cradle rockt him whilst he slept)
In sacred verses (most divinely penn'd)
Upon thy praises ever shall attend.
What time I came into this famous town,
And made the cause of my arrival known,
Great Medices a list for triumphs built;
Within the which, upon a tree of gilt,
(Which was with sundry rare devices set)
I did erect thy lovely counterfeit,
To answer those Italian dames desire,
Which daily came thy beauty to admire;
By which, my lion in his gaping jaws
Held up my lance, and in his dreadful paws
Reacheth my gauntlet unto him that dare
A beauty with my Geraldine's compare.
Which, when each manly valiant arm assays,
After so many brave triumphant days,
The glorious prize upon my lance I bear,
By herald's voice proclaim'd to be thy share.
The shiver'd staves here for thy beauty broke,
With fierce encounters past at every shock,
When stormy courses answer cuff for cuff,
Denting proud bevers with the counter-buff,
Upon an altar, burnt with holy flame,
I sacrific'd, as incense to thy fame:
Where, as the phoenix from her spiced fume
Renews herself, in that she doth consume;
So from these sacred ashes live we both,
Ev’n as that one Arabian wonder doth.
When to my chamber I myself retire,
Burnt with the sparks that kindled all this fire,
Thinking of England, which my hope contains,
The happy isle where Geraldine remains:
Of Hunsdon, where those sweet celestial eyne
At first did pierce this tender breast of mine:
Of Hampton-Court and Windsor, where abound
All pleasures that in Paradise were found:
Near that fair castle is a little grove,
With hanging rocks all cover'd from above,
Which on the bank of goodly Thames doth stand,
Clipt by the water from the other land, -
Whose bushy top doth bid the sun forbear,
And checks his proud beams that would enter there;
Whose leaves still mutt'ring, as the air doth breathe,
With the sweet bubbling of the stream beneath,
Doth rock the senses (whilst the small birds sing)
Lulled asleep with gentle murmuring ;
Where light-foot Fairies sport at prison-base,
(No doubt there is some pow'r frequents the place)
There the soft poplar and smooth beech do bear
Our names together carved every where,
And Gordian knots do curiously entwine
The names of Henry and Geraldine.
O let this grove, in happy times to come,
Be call'd the lover's bless'd Elyzium;
Whither my mistress wonted to resort,
In summer's heat, in those sweet shades to sport:
A thousand sundry names I have it given,
And call'd it Wonder-hider, Cover-heav'n,
The roof where beauty her rich court doth keep,
Under whose compass all the stars do sleep.
There is one tree, which now I call to mind,
Doth bear these verses carved in the rind:
“When Geraldine shall sit in thy fair shade,
Fan her fair tresses with perfumed air,
Let thy large boughs a canopy be made,
To keep the sun from gazing on my fair:
And when thy spreading branched arms be sunk,
And thou no sap nor pith shalt more retain,
Ev’n from the dust of thy unwieldy trunk
I will renew thee, phoenix-like, again,
And from thy dry decayed root will bring
A new-born stem, another Æson's spring.”
I find no cause, nor judge I reason why,
My country should give place to Lombardy.
As goodly flow'rs on Thamesis do grow,
As beautify the banks of wanton Po;
As many nymphs as haunt rich Arnus' strand,
By silver Severn tripping hand in hand:
Our shade's as sweet, though not to us so dear,
Because the sun hath greater power here.
. This distant place doth give me greater woe;
Far off, my sighs the farther have to go.
Ah, absence! why thus should'st thou seem so long?
Or wherefore should'st thou offer time such wrong,
Summer so soon to steal on winter's cold,
Or winter blasts so soon make summer old?
Love did us both with one self-arrow strike,
Our wounds both one, our cure should be the like;
Except thou hast found out some mean by art,
Some pow'rful medicine to withdraw the dart;
But mine is fixt, and absence being proved,
It sticks too fast, it cannot be removed.
Adieu, adieu, from Florence when I go,
By my next letters Geraldine shall know,
Which if good fortune shall my course direct,
From Venice by some messenger expect;
Till when, I leave thee to thy heart's desire,
By him that lives thy virtues to admire.
THE LADY GERALDINE TO HENRY HOWARD, EARL OF SURREY. Such greeting as the noble Surrey sends, The like to thee thy Geraldine commends;
A maiden's thoughts do check my trembling hand,
On other terms or compliments to stand,
Which (might my speech be as my heart affords)
Should come attired in far richer words:
But all is one, my faith as firm shall prove,
As her’s that makes the greatest shew of love.
In Cupid's school I never read those books,
Whose lectures oft we practise in our looks,
Nor ever did suspicious rival eye
Yet lie in wait my favours to espy;
My virgin thoughts are innocent and meek,
As the chaste blushes sitting on my cheek:
As in a fever I do shiver yet,
Since first my pen was to the paper set.
If I do err, you know my sex is weak,
Fear proves a fault where maids are forc’d to speak.
Do I not ill Ah, sooth me not herein;
Or, if I do, reprove me of my sin:
Chide me in faith, or if my fault you hide,
My tongue will teach myself, myself to chide.
Nay, noble Surrey, blot it if thou wilt,
Then too much boldness should return my guilt:
For that should be ev'n from ourselves conceal’d,
Which is disclos'd, if to our thoughts reveal’d;
For the least motion, more the smallest breath,
That may impeach our modesty, is death.
The page that brought thy letters to my hand,
(Methinks) should marvel at my strange demand:
For till he blush'd, I did not yet espy
The nakedness of my immodesty,
Which in my face he greater might have seen,
But that my fan I quickly put between;
Yet scarcely that my inward guilt could hide,
“Fear seeing all, fears it of all is spy’d.”
Like to a taper burning bright,
But wanting matter to maintain his light,
The blaze ascending, forced by the smoke,
Living by that which seeks the same to choke;
The flame still hanging in the air, doth burn,
Until drawn down, it back again return: [closeth,
Then clear, then dim, then spreadeth, and then
Now getteth strength, and now his brightness loseth;
As well the best discerning eye may doubt,
Whether it be yet in, or whether out:
Thus in my cheek my sundry passions shew’d,
Now ashy pale, and now again it glow'd.
If in your verse there be a pow'r to move,
It's you alone, who are the cause I love,
It's you bewitch my bosom by mine ear;
Unto that end I did not place you there:
Airs to asswage the bloody soldier's mind,
Poor women, we are naturally kind.
Perhaps you'll think, that I these terms enforce,
For that in court this kindness is of course:
Or that it is that honey-steeped gall,
We oft are said to bait our loves withal;
That in one eye we carry strong desire,
In th' other drops, which quickly quench that fire;
Ah, what so false can envy speak of us,
But it shall find some vainly credulous?
I do not so, and to add proof thereto,
I love in faith, in faith, sweet Lord, I do:
Nor let the envy of envenom'd tongues,
Which still is grounded on poor ladies’ wrongs,
Thy noble breast disasterly possess,
By any doubt to make my love the less.
My house from Florence I do not pretend,
Nor from those Geralds claim I to descend;
Nor hold those honours insufficient are,
That I receive from Desmond, or Kildare:
Nor better air will ever boast to breathe,
Than that of Lemster, Munster, or of Meath:
Nor crave I other foreign far allies,
Than Windsor's or Fitz-Gerald's families:
It is enough to leave unto my heirs,
If they but please to acknowledge me for theirs.
To what place ever did the court remove,
But that the house gives matter to my love?
At Windsor still I see thee sit, and walk,
There mount thy courser, there devise, there talk,
The robes, the garter, and the state of Kings,
Into my thoughts thy hoped greatness brings:
None-such, the name imports (methinks) so much,
None such as it, nor as my Lord, none such:
In Hampton's great magnificence I find
The lively image of thy princely mind:
Fair Richmond's tow’rs like goodly trophies stand
Rear'd by the pow'r of thy victorious hand:
White-Hall's triumphing galleries are yet
Adorn'd with rich devices of thy wit:
In Greenwich still, as in a glass, I view,
Where last thou bad'st thy Geraldine adieu.
With ev'ry little perling breath that blows,
How are my thoughts confus'd with joys and woes!
As through a gate, so through my longing ears
Pass to my heart whole multitudes of fears.
O, in a map that I might see thee show
The place where now in danger thou do'st go!
Whilst we discourse, to travel with our eye
Romania, Tuscan, and fair Lombardy;
Or with thy pen exactly to set down
The model of that temple, or that town;
And to relate at large where thou hast been,
As there, and there, and what thou there hast seen;
Expressing in a figure, by thy hand,
How Naples lies, how Florence fair doth stand:
Or as the Grecian's finger dip'd in wine,
Drawing a river in a little line,
And with a drop, a gulf to figure out,
To model Venice moated round about;
Then adding more to counterfeit a sea,
And draw the front of stately Genoa.
These from thy lips were like harmonious tones,
Which now do sound like mandrakes dreadful
Some travel hence, t'enrich their minds with skill,
Leave here their good, and bring home others ill;
Which seem to like all countries but their own,
Affecting most, where they the least are known:
Their leg, their thigh, their back, their neck, their
As they had been in sev'ral countries bred;
In their attire, their gesture, and their gate,
Found in each one, all Italianate,