The Squire of low degree releast
Pœana takes to wife:
Britomart fightes with many Knights,
Prince Arthur stints their strife.
Hard is the doubt, and difficult to deeme,
When all three kinds of louelove together meet,
And doe dispart the hart with powre extreme,
Whether shall weigh the balance downe; to weet
The deare affection vntounto kindred sweet,
Or raging fire of louelove to woman kind,
Or zeale of friends combynd with vertues meet.
But of them all the band of vertues mind
Me seemes the gentle hart, should most assured bind.
For naturall affection soone doth cesse,
And quenched is with Cupids greater flame:
But faithfull friendship doth them both suppresse,
And them with maystring discipline doth tame,
Through thoughts aspyring to eternall fame.
For as the soule doth rule the earthly masse,
And all the seruiceservice of the bodie frame,
So louelove of soule doth louelove of bodie passe,
No lesse 2.9. then: thanthenthan perfect gold surmounts the meanest brasse.
All which who list by tryall to assay,
Shall in this storie find approuedapproved plaine;
In which these Squires true friendship more did sway,
3.4. Then: ThanThenThan either care of parents could refraine,
Or louelove of fairest Ladie could constraine.
For though Pœana were as faire as morne,
Yet did this Trustie squire with proud disdaine
For his friends sake her offred fauoursfavours 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 aduiseadvise how best he mote darrayne
That enterprize, for greatest glories gayne.
That headlesse tyrants tronke he reard from ground,
And hauinghaving ympt the head to it agayne,
VponUpon his vsuallusuall beast it firmely bound,
And made it so to ride, as it aliuealive was found.
Then did he take that chaced Squire, and layd
Before the ryder, as he captiuecaptive were,
And made his Dwarfe, though with vnwillingunwilling ayd,
To guide the beast, that did his maister beare,
Till to his castle they approched neare.
Whom when the watch, that kept continuall ward
Saw comming home; all voide of doubtfull feare,
He running downe, the gate to him vnbardunbard;
Whom straight the Prince ensuing, in together far’d.
There he did find in her delitious boure
The faire Pœana playing on a Rote,
Complayning of her cruell Paramoure,
And singing all her sorrow to the note,
As she had learned readily by rote.
That with the sweetnesse of her rare delight,
The Prince halfe rapt, began on her to dote:
Till better him bethinking of the right,
He her vnawaresunawares attacht, and captiuecaptive held by might.
Whence being forth produc’d, when she perceiuedperceived
Her owne deare sire, she cald to him for aide.
But when of him no aunswere she receiuedreceived,
But saw him sencelesse by the Squire vpstaideupstaide,
She weened well, that then she was betraide:
Then gan she loudly cry, and weepe, and waile,
And that same Squire of treason to vpbraideupbraide.
But all in vaine, her plaints might not preuaileprevaile,
Ne none there was to reskue her, ne none to baile.
Then tooke he that same Dwarfe, and him compeld
To open vntounto him the prison dore,
And forth to bring those thrals, which there he held.
Thence forth were brought to him aboueabove a score
Of Knights and Squires to him vnknowneunknowne afore:
All which he did from bitter bondage free,
And vntounto former liberty restore.
Amongst the rest, that Squire of low degree
Came forth full weake and wan, not like him selfe to bee.
Whom soone as faire Æmylia beheld,
And Placidas, they both vntounto him ran,
And him embracing fast betwixt them held,
StriuingStriving to comfort him all that they can,
And kissing oft his visage pale and wan.
That faire Pœana them beholding both,
Gan both enuyenvy, and bitterly to ban;
Through iealousjealous passion weeping inly wroth,
To see the sight perforce, that both her eyes were loth.
But when a while they had together beene,
And diuerslydiversly conferred of their case,
She, though full oft she both of them had seene
A sunderAsunder, yet not euerever in one place,
Began to doubt, when she them saw embrace,
Which was the captiuecaptive Squire she lou’dlov’d so deare,
DeceiuedDeceived through great likenesse of their face,
For they so like in person did appeare,
That she vneathuneath discerned, whether whether weare.
And eke the Prince, when as he them auizedavized,
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,
In which he found great store of hoorded threasure,
The which that tyrant gathered had by wrong
And tortious powre, without respect or measure.
VponUpon all which the Briton Prince made seasure,
And afterwards continu’d there a while,
To rest him selfe, and solace in soft pleasure
Those weaker Ladies after weary toile;
To whom he did diuidedivide part of his purchast spoile.
And for more ioyjoy, that captiue Lady faire
The faire Pœana he enlarged free;
And by the rest did set in sumptuous chaire,
To feast and frollicke; nathemore would she
Shew gladsome countenaunce nor pleasaunt glee:
But grieuedgrieved was for losse both of her sire,
And eke of Lordship, with both land and fee:
But most she touched was with griefe entire,
For losse of her new louelove, the hope of her desire.
But her the Prince through his well wonted grace,
To better termes of myldnesse did entreat,
From that fowle rudenesse, which did her deface;
And that same bitter corsiuecorsive, which did eat
Her tender heart, and made refraine from meat,
He with good thewes and speaches well applyde,
Did mollifie, and calme her raging heat.
For though she were most faire, and goodly dyde,
Yet she it all did mar with cruelty and pride.
And for to shut vpup all in friendly louelove,
Sith louelove was first the ground of all her griefe,
That trusty Squire he wisely well did mouemove
Not to despise that dame, which lou’dlov’d him liefe,
Till he had made of her some better priefe,
But to accept her to his wedded wife.
Thereto he offred for to make him chiefe
Of all her land and lordship during life:
He yeelded, and her tooke; so stinted all their strife.
From that day forth in peace and ioyousjoyous blis,
They liu’dliv’d together long without debate,
iarrejarre, ne spite of enemis
Could shake the safe assuraunce of their state.
And she whom Nature did so faire create,
That she mote match the fairest of her daies,
Yet with lewd louesloves and lust intemperate
Had it defaste; thenceforth reformd her waies,
That all men much admyrde her change, and spake her praise.
Thus when the Prince had
These paires of friends in peace and setled rest,
Him selfe, whose minde did trauelltravell as with chylde,
Of his old louelove, conceau’dconceav’d in secret brest,
ResoluedResolved to pursue his former guest;
And taking leaueleave of all, with him did beare
Faire Amoret, whom Fortune by bequest
Had left in his protection whileare,
Exchanged out of one into an other feare.
Feare of her safety did her not constraine,
For well she wist now in a mighty hond,
Her person late in perill, did remaine,
Who able was all daungers to withstond.
But now in feare of shame she more did stond,
Seeing her selfe all soly succourlesse,
Left in the victors powre, like vassall bond;
Whose will her weakenesse could no way represse.
In case his burning lust should breake into excesse.
But cause of feare sure had she none at all
Of him, who goodly learned had of yore
The course of loose affection to forstall,
And lawlesse lust to rule with reasons lore;
That all the while he by his side her bore,
She was as safe as in a Sanctuary;
Thus many miles they two together wore,
To seeke their louesloves dispersed diuerslydiversly,
Yet neither shewed to other their hearts priuityprivity.
At length they came, whereas a troupe of Knights
They saw together skirmishing, as seemed:
Sixe they were all, all full of fell despight,
But foure of them the battell best beseemed,
That which of them was best, mote not be deemed.
Those foure were they, from whom false Florimell
By Braggadochio lately was redeemed.
To weet, sterne Druon, and lewd Claribell,
Blandamour, and lustfull Paridell.
Druons delight was all in single life,
And vntounto Ladies louelove would lend no leasure:
The more was Claribell enraged rife
With feruentfervent flames, and louedloved out of measure:
So eke lou’dlov’d
Blandamour, but yet at pleasure
Would change his liking, and new Lemans proueprove:
But Paridell of louelove did make no threasure,
But lusted after all, that him did mouemove.
So diuerslydiversly these foure disposed were to louelove.
But those two other which beside them stoode,
Were Britomart, and gentle Scudamour,
Who all the while beheld their wrathfull moode,
And wondred at their impacable stoure,
Whose like they neuernever saw till that same houre:
So dreadfull strokes each did at other driuedrive,
And laid on load with all their might and powre,
As if that eueryevery dint the ghost would riuerive
Out of their wretched corses, and their liueslives
As when Dan AEolus in great displeasure,
For losse of his deare louelove by Neptune hent,
Sends forth the winds out of his hidden threasure,
VponUpon the sea to wreake his fell intent;
They breaking forth with rude vnrulimentunruliment,
From all foure parts of heauenheaven doe rage full sore,
And tosse the deepes, and teare the firmament,
And all the world confound with wide vproreuprore,
As if in stead thereof they Chaos would restore.
Cause of their discord, and so fell debate,
Was for the louelove of that same snowy maid,
Whome they had lost in Turneyment of late,
And seeking long, to weet which way she straid
Met here together, where through lewd vpbraideupbraide
Of Ate and Duessa they fell out,
And each one taking part in others aide,
This cruell conflict raised thereabout,
Whose dangerous successe depended yet in dout.
For sometimes Paridell and Blandamour
The better had, and bet the others backe,
Eftsoones the others did the field recoure,
And on their foes did worke full cruell wracke:
Yet neither would their fiendlike fury slacke,
But euermoreevermore their malice did augment;
Till that vneathuneath they forced were for lacke
Of breath, their raging rigour to relent,
And rest themseluesthemselves for to recouerrecover spirits spent.
26.1. Their: ThereTheirThere gan they change their sides, and new parts take;
For Paridell did take to Druons side,
For old despight, which now forth newly brake
Gainst Blandamour, whom alwaies he enuideenvide:
And Blandamour to Claribell relide.
So all afresh gan former fight renew.
As when two Barkes, this caried with the tide,
That with the wind, contrary courses sew,
If wind and tide doe change, their courses change anew.
Thenceforth they much more furiously gan fare,
As if but then the battell had begonne,
Ne helmets bright, ne hawberks strong did spare,
That through the clifts the vermeil bloud out sponne,
And all adowne their riuenriven sides did ronne.
Such mortall malice, wonder was to see
In friends profest, and so great outrage donne:
But sooth is said, and tride in each degree,
Faint friends when they fall out, most cruell fomen bee.
Thus they long while continued in fight,
Till Scudamour, and that same Briton maide,
By fortune in that place did chance to light:
Whom soone as they with wrathfull eie bewraide,
They gan remember of the fowle vpbraideupbraide,
The which that Britonesse had to them donne,
In that late Turney for the snowy maide;
Where she had them both shamefully fordonne,
And eke the famous prize of beauty from them wonne.
Eftsoones all burning with a fresh desire
Of fell reuengerevenge, in their malicious mood
They from them seluesselves gan turne their furious ire,
And cruell blades yet steeming with whot bloud,
Against those two let driuedrive, as they were wood:
Who wondring much at that so sodaine fit,
Yet nought dismayd, them stoutly well withstood;
Ne yeelded foote, ne once abacke did flit,
But being doubly smitten likewise doubly smit.
The warlike Dame was on her part assaid,
Of Claribell and Blandamour attone;
And Paridell and Druon fiercely laid
At Scudamour, both his professed fone.
Foure charged two, and two surcharged one;
Yet did those two them seluesselves so brauelybravely beare,
That the other litle gained by the lone,
But with their owne repayred duely weare,
And vsuryusury withall: such gaine was gotten deare.
Full oftentimes did Britomart assay
To speake to them, and some emparlance mouemove;
But they for nought their cruell hands would stay,
Ne lend an eare to ought, that might behouebehove,
As when an eager mastiffe once doth proueprove
The tast of bloud of some engored beast,
No words may rate, nor rigour him remoueremove
From greedy hold of that his blouddy feast:
So litle did they hearken to her sweet beheast.
Whom when the Briton Prince a farreafarre beheld
With ods of so vnequallunequall match opprest,
His mighty heart with indignation sweld,
And inward grudge fild his heroicke brest:
Eftsoones him selfe he to their aide addrest,
And thrusting fierce into the thickest preace,
DiuidedDivided them, how euerever loth to rest,
And would them faine from battell to surceasse,
With gentle words perswading them to friendly peace.
But they so farre from peace or patience were,
That all at once at him gan fiercely flie,
And lay on load, as they him downe would beare;
Like to a storme, which houershovers
Long here and there, and round about doth stie,
At length breakes downe in raine, and haile, and sleet,
First from one coast, till nought thereof be drie;
And then another, till that likewise fleet;
And so from side to side till all the world it weet.
But now their forces greatly were decayd,
The Prince yet being fresh vntouchtuntoucht afore;
Who them with speaches milde gan first disswade
From such foule outrage, and them long forbore:
Till seeing them through suffrance hartned more,
Him selfe he bent their furies to abate,
And layd at them so sharpely and so sore,
That shortly them compelled to retrate,
And being brought in daunger, to relent too late.
But now his courage being throughly fired,
He ment to make them know their follies prise,
Had not those two him instantly desired
T’asswage his wrath, and pardon their mesprise.
At whose request he gan him selfe aduiseadvise
To stay his hand, and of a truce to treat
In milder tearmes, as list them to deuisedevise:
Mongst which the cause of their so cruell heat
He did them aske, who all that passed gan repeat.
And told at large how that same errant Knight,
To weet faire Britomart, them late had foyled
In open turney, and by wrongfull fight
Both of their publicke praise had them despoyled,
And also of their priuateprivate
Of two full hard to read the harder theft.
But she that wrongfull challenge soone assoyled,
And shew’d that she had not that Lady reft,
(As they supposd) but her had to her liking left.
To whom the Prince thus goodly well replied;
Certes sir Knight, ye seemen much to blame,
To rip vpup wrong, that battell once hath tried;
Wherein the honor both of Armes ye shame,
And eke the louelove of Ladies foule defame;
To whom the world this franchise euerever yeelded,
That of their louesloves choise they might freedom clame,
And in that right should by all knights be shielded:
Gainst which me seemes this war ye wrongfully hauehave
And yet (quoth she) a greater wrong remaines:
For I thereby my former louelove
Whom seeking euerever since with endlesse paines,
Hath me much sorrow and much trauelltravell cost;
Aye me to see that gentle maide so tost.
But Scudamour then sighing deepe, thus saide,
Certes her losse ought me to sorrow most,
Whose right she is, where euerever she be straide,
Through many perils wonne, and many fortunes waide.
For from the first that I her louelove profest,
VntoUnto this houre, this present lucklesse howre,
ioyedjoyed happinesse nor rest,
But thus turmoild from one to other stowre,
I wast my life, and doe my daies deuowredevowre
In wretched anguishe and incessant woe,
Passing the measure of my feeble powre,
That liuingliving thus, a wretch I and louingloving so,
I neither can my louelove, ne yet my life forgo.
Then good sir Claribell him thus bespake,
Now were it not sir Scudamour to you,
Dislikefull paine, so sad a taske to take,
Mote we entreat you, sith this gentle crew
Is now so well accorded all anew;
That as we ride together on our way,
Ye will recount to vsus in order dew
All that aduentureadventure, which ye did assay
For that faire Ladies louelove: past perils well apay.
So gan the rest him likewise to require,
But Britomart did him importune hard,
To take on him that paine: whose great desire
He glad to satisfie, him selfe prepar’d
To tell through what misfortune he had far’d,
In that atchieuementatchievement, as to him befell.
And all those daungers vntounto them declar’d,
Which sith they cannot in this Canto well
Comprised be, I will them in another tell.