Internet Shakespeare Editions

Author: Thomas Lodge
Editor: David Bevington
Not Peer Reviewed

Rosalind: Euphues' Golden Legacy



"Ah, Rosalind, how the Fates have set down in their synod to make thee unhappy! For when Fortune hath done her worst, then Love comes in to begin a new tragedy: she seeks to lodge her son in thine eyes and to kindle her fires in thy bosom. Beware, fond girl, he is an unruly guest to harbor; for, cutting in by entreats, he will not be thrust out by force, and her fires are fed with such fuel as no water is able to quench. See'st thou not how Venus seeks to wrap thee in her labyrinth, wherein is pleasure at the entrance, but within, sorrows, cares, and discontent? She is a Siren; stop thine ears to her melody. She is a basilisk; shut thy eyes and gaze not at her lest thou perish. Thou art now placed in the country content, where are heavenly thoughts and mean desires; in those lawns where thy flocks feed, Diana haunts; be as her nymphs, chaste and enemy to love, for there is no greater honor to a maid than to account of fancy as a mortal foe to their sex. Daphne, that bonny wench, was not turned into a bay tree, as the poets feign; but for her chastity her fame was immortal, resembling the laurel that is ever green. Follow thou her steps, Rosalind, and the rather for that thou art an exile and banished from the court; whose distress, as it is appeased with patience, so it would be renewed with amorous passions. Have mind on thy forepast fortunes; fear the worst, and entangle not thyself with present fancies, lest, loving in haste, thou repent thee at leisure. Ah, but yet, Rosalind, it is Rosader that courts thee; one who, as he is beautiful, so he is virtuous, and harboreth in his mind as many good qualities as his face is shadowed with gracious favors; and therefore, Rosalind, stoop to love, lest, being either too coy or too cruel, Venus wax wroth and plague thee with the reward of disdain."

Rosalind, thus passionate, was wakened from her dumps by Aliena, who said it was time to go to bed. Corydon swore that was true, for Charles' Wain was risen in the north. Whereupon each taking leave of other went to their rest--all but the poor Rosalind, who was so full of passions that she could not possess any content. Well, leaving her to her broken slumbers, expect what was performed by them the next morning.

The sun was no sooner stepped from the bed of Aurora but Aliena was wakened by Ganymede, who, restless all night, had tossed in her passions, saying it was then time to go to the field to unfold their sheep. Aliena, that spied where the hare was by the hounds and could see day at a little hole, thought to be pleasant with her Ganymede, and therefore replied thus:

230"What, wanton? The sun is but new up, and as yet Iris' riches lie folded in the bosom of Flora; Phoebus hath not dried up the pearled dew, and so long Corydon hath taught me, it is not fit to lead the sheep abroad, lest, the dew being unwholesome, they get the rot. But now see I the old proverb true: he is in haste whom the devil drives, and, where love pricks forward, there is no worse death than delay. Ah, my good page, is there fancy in thine eye and passions in thy heart? What, hast thou wrapped love in thy looks and set all thy thoughts on fire by affection? I tell thee, it is a flame as hard to be quenched as that of Aetna. But nature must have her course: women's eyes have faculty attractive like the jet and retentive like the diamond; they dally in the delight of fair objects, till, gazing on the panther's beautiful skin, repenting experience tell them he hath a devouring paunch."

"Come on," quoth Ganymede, "this sermon of yours is but a subtlety to lie still a-bed, because either you think the morning cold, or else, I being gone, you would steal a nap. This shift carries no palm, and therefore up and away. And for Love, let me alone; I'll whip him away with nettles and set Disdain as a charm to withstand his forces. And therefore look you to yourself. Be not too bold, for Venus can make you bend; nor too coy, for Cupid hath a piercing dart that will make you cry Peccavi."

"And that is it," quoth Aliena, "that hath raised you so early this morning." And with that she slipped on her petticoat, and start up; and as soon as she had made her ready and taken her breakfast, away go these two with their bag and bottles to the field, in more pleasant content of mind than ever they were in the court of Torismond.

They came no sooner nigh the folds but they might see where their discontented forester was walking in his melancholy. As soon as Aliena saw him, she smiled and said to Ganymede:

"Wipe your eyes, sweeting, for yonder is your sweetheart this morning in deep prayers, no doubt, to Venus, that she may make you as pitiful as he is passionate. Come on, Ganymede, I pray thee, let's have a little sport with him."

235"Content," quoth Ganymede, and with that, to waken him out of his deep memento he began thus:

"Forester, good fortune to thy thoughts, and ease to thy passions! What makes you so early abroad this morn? In contemplation, no doubt, of your Rosalind. Take heed, forester; step not too far. The ford may be deep and you slip over the shoes. I tell thee, flies have their spleen, the ants choler, the least hairs shadows, and the smallest loves great desires. 'Tis good, forester, to love, but not to overlove, lest, in loving her that likes not thee, thou fold thyself in an endless labyrinth."

Rosader, seeing the fair shepherdess and her pretty swain in whose company he felt the greatest ease of his care, he returned them a salute on this manner:

"Gentle shepherds, all hail, and as healthful be your flocks as you happy in content! Love is restless, and my bed is but the cell of my bane, in that there I find busy thoughts and broken slumbers. Here, although everywhere passionate, yet I brook love with more patience, in that every object feeds mine eye with variety of fancies. When I look on Flora's beauteous tapestry, checked with the pride of all her treasure, I call to mind the fair face of Rosalind, whose heavenly hue exceeds the rose and the lily in their highest excellence. The brightness of Phoebus' shine puts me in mind to think of the sparkling flames that flew from her eyes and set my heart first on fire. The sweet harmony of the birds puts me in remembrance of the rare melody of her voice, which, like the Siren, enchanteth the ears of the hearer. Thus in contemplation I salve my sorrows with applying the perfection of every object to the excellence of her qualities."

"She is much beholding unto you," quoth Aliena, "and so much that I have oft wished with myself that if I should ever prove as amorous as Oenone, I might find as faithful a Paris as yourself."

240"How say you by this item, forester?" quoth Ganymede. "The fair shepherdess favors you, who is mistress of so many flocks. Leave off, man, the supposition of Rosalind's love, whenas watching at her you rove beyond the moon, and cast your looks upon my mistress, who no doubt is as fair, though not so royal. One bird in the hand is worth two in the wood. Better possess the love of Aliena than catch furiously at the shadow of Rosalind."

"I'll tell thee, boy," quoth Rosader, "so is my fancy fixed on my Rosalind that, were thy mistress as fair as Leda or Danae, whom Jove courted in transformed shapes, mine eyes would not vouch to entertain their beauties; and so hath love locked me in her perfections that I had rather only contemplate in her beauties than absolutely possess the excellence of any other."

"Venus is to blame, forester, if, having so true a servant of you, she reward you not with Rosalind, if Rosalind were more fairer than herself. But leaving this prattle, now I'll put you in mind of your promise about those sonnets, which you said were at home in your lodge."

"I have them about me," quoth Rosader. "Let us sit down, and then you shall hear what a poetical fury love will infuse into a man." With that they sat down upon a green bank, shadowed with fig trees, and Rosader, fetching a deep sigh, read them this sonnet: