Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: Thomas Lodge
Editor: David Bevington
Not Peer Reviewed

Rosalind: Euphues' Golden Legacy


SIR JOHN OF BORDEAUX' LEGACY HE GAVE TO HIS SONS

7"O my sons, you see that fate hath set a period of my years, and destinies have determined the final end of my days. The palm tree waxeth away-ward, for he stoopeth in his height, and my plumes are full of sick feathers touched with age. I must to my grave that dischargeth all cares, and leave you to the world that increaseth many sorrows. My silver hairs containeth great experience, and in the number of my years are penned down the subtleties of fortune. Therefore, as I leave you some fading pelf to countercheck poverty, so I will bequeath you infallible precepts that shall lead you unto virtue. First, therefore, unto thee, Saladin, the eldest, and therefore the chiefest pillar of my house, wherein should be engraven as well the excellence of thy father's qualities as the essential form of his proportion, to thee I give fourteen ploughlands, with all my manor houses and richest plate. Next, unto Fernandin I bequeath twelve ploughlands. But unto Rosader, the youngest, I give my horse, my armor, and my lance, with sixteen ploughlands; for if the inward thoughts be discovered by outward shadows, Rosader will exceed you all in bounty and honor. Thus, my sons, have I parted in your portions the substance of my wealth, wherein, if you be as prodigal to spend as I have been careful to get, your friends will grieve to see you more wasteful than I was bountiful, and your foes smile that my fall did begin in your excess. Let mine honor be the glass of your actions and the fame of my virtues the lodestar to direct the course of your pilgrimage. Aim your deeds by my honorable endeavors and show yourselves scions worthy of so flourishing a tree, lest, as the birds halcyons, which exceed in whiteness, I hatch young ones that surpass in blackness. Climb not, my sons. Aspiring pride is a vapor that ascendeth high, but soon turneth to smoke; they which stare at the stars stumble upon stones, and such as gaze at the sun, unless they be eagle-eyed, fall blind. Soar not with the hobby lest you fall with the lark, nor attempt not with Phaethon lest you drown with Icarus. Fortune, when she wills you to fly, tempers your plumes with wax; and therefore either sit still and make no wing, or else beware the sun, and hold Daedalus' axiom authentical, medium tenere tutissimum. Low shrubs have deep roots, and poor cottages great patience. Fortune looks ever upward, and envy aspireth to nestle with dignity. Take heed, my sons: the mean is sweetest melody, where strings high stretched either soon crack or quickly grow out of tune. Let your country's care be your heart's content, and think that you are not born for yourselves, but to level your thoughts to be loyal to your prince, careful for the common weal, and faithful to your friends; so shall France say, 'These men are as excellent in virtues as they be exquisite in features.' O my sons, a friend is a precious jewel, within whose bosom you may unload your sorrows and unfold your secrets, and he either will relieve with counsel or persuade with reason. But take heed in the choice. The outward show makes not the inward man, nor are the dimples in the face the calendars of truth. When the liquorice leaf looketh most dry, then it is most wet; when the shores of Lepanthus are most quiet, then they forepoint a storm. The baaran leaf, the more fair it looks, the more infectious it is, and in the sweetest words is oft hid the most treachery. Therefore, my sons, choose a friend as the Hyperborei do the metals: sever them from the ore with fire, and let them not bide the stamp before they be current. So, try and then trust; let time be touchstone of friendship, and then, friends faithful, lay them up for jewels. Be valiant, my sons, for cowardice is the enemy to honor; but not too rash, for that is an extreme. Fortitude is the mean, and that is limited within bonds and prescribed with circumstance. But above all," and with that he fetched a deep sigh, "beware of love, for it is far more perilous than pleasant, and yet, I tell you, it allureth as ill as the Sirens. O my sons, fancy is a fickle thing, and beauty's paintings are tricked up with time's colors, which, being set to dry in the sun, perish with the same. Venus is a wanton, and, though her laws pretend liberty, yet there is nothing but loss and glistering misery. Cupid's wings are plumed with the feathers of vanity, and his arrows, where they pierce, enforce nothing but deadly desires. A woman's eye, as it is precious to behold, so is it prejudicial to gaze upon; for as it affordeth delight, so it snareth unto death. Trust not their fawning favors, for their loves are like the breath of a man upon steel, which no sooner lighteth on but it leapeth off, and their passions are as momentary as the colors of a polyp, which changeth at the sight of every object. My breath waxeth short, and mine eyes dim; the hour is come, and I must away. Therefore let this suffice: women are wantons, and yet men cannot want one. And therefore, if you love, choose her that hath eyes of adamant, that will turn only to one point; her heart of a diamond, that will receive but one form; her tongue of a sethin leaf, that never wags but with a southeast wind. And yet, my sons, if she have all these qualities, to be chaste, obedient, and silent, yet for that she is a woman shalt thou find in her sufficient vanities to countervail her virtues. Oh, now, my sons, even now take these my last words as my latest legacy, for my thread is spun and my foot is in the grave. Keep my precepts as memorials of your father's counsels, and let them be lodged in the secret of your hearts; for wisdom is better than wealth, and a golden sentence worth a world of treasure. In my fall see and mark, my sons, the folly of man, that, being dust, climbeth with Biares to reach at the heavens, and ready every minute to die, yet hopeth for an age of pleasures. Oh, man's life is like lightning that is but a flash, and the longest date of his years but as a bavin's blaze. Seeing then man is so mortal, be careful that thy life be virtuous, that thy death may be full of admirable honors: so shalt thou challenge fame to be thy fautor and put oblivion to exile with thine honorable actions. But, my sons, lest you should forget your father's axioms, take this scroll, wherein read what your father dying wills you to execute living."

8At this he shrunk down in his bed and gave up the ghost.

9John of Bordeaux being thus dead was greatly lamented of his sons and bewailed of his friends, especially of his fellow Knights of Malta, who attended on his funerals, which were performed with great solemnity. His obsequies done, Saladin caused, next his epitaph, the contents of the scroll to be portrayed out, which were to this effect: