Ralph Knevet Poems >>
Rhodon And Iris. Act III
Well, if I were but once rid of her service,
If I ever serv'd love-sicke mistris againe,
I would feed all my life time on Agnus Castus,
And give all the world leave to let me dye a maid:
I even spoyld a good mother wit
With beating my head about these knick knacks,
Which my mistris, Madam Eglantine,
Hath enjoyn'd me to procure her,
For now seduc'd by the old bawd Poneria,
She thinks to recover her old sweet-heart Rhodon.
Here is a Catalogue as tedious as a Taylors bill,
Of all the devices which I am commanded to provide, videlicet :
Chaines, coronets, pendans, bracelets and eare-rings,
Pins, girdles, spangles, embroyderies, rings,
Shadows, rebatos, ribbands, ruffes, cuffes and fals:
Scarfes, feathers, fans, maskes, muffes, laces and cals;
Thin tiffanies, copweb-lawne and fardingals,
Sweet-bals, vayles, wimples, glasses, crisping-pins;
Pots, oyntments, combs, with poking-sticks & bodkins;
Coyfes, gorgets, fringes, rowles, fillets and haire-laces;
Silks, damasks, velvet, tinsels, cloth of gold,
And tissue, with colours of a hundreth fold. Enter Gladiolus
But in her tyres so new fangl'd is she,
That which doth with her humour now agree,
To morrow she dislikes, now doth she sweare,
That a loose body is the neatest weare;
But ere an houre be gone, she will protest
A strait gowne graces her proportion best:
Now cals she for a boistrous fardingall,
Then to her hips shele have her garments fall:
Now doth she praise a sleeve that's long and wide,
Yet by and by that fashion doth deride:
Sometimes sh'applauds a pavement-sweeping traine,
And presently dispraiseth it againe.
Now she commends a shallow band so small,
That it may seeme scarce any band at all;
But soone to a new fancy doth she reele,
And cals for one as big as a coach-wheele:
She'le weare a flowry coronet to day,
The symboll of her beauties sad decay;
To morrow she a waving plume will try,
The embleme of all female lenitie,
Now in her hat, then in her haire she's drest,
For of all fashions she thinks change the best.
Gla. Good fellow servant, honest Clematis.
Let me conclude thy tedious tale with this;
I say the restlesse sea and flitting winde,
Are constant in respect of women kinde.
Cle. Nor in her weeds alone is she so nice,
But rich perfumes she buyes at any price.
Storax and Spiknard she burnes in her Chamber,
And daubes her selfe with Civit, Muske and Amber.
With limbecks, viols, pots, her Closet's fill'd,
Full of strange liquors by rare art distill'd:
She hath Vermilion and Antimony,
Cerusse and sublimated Mercury.
Waters she hath to make her face to shine;
Confections eke to clarifie her skin;
Lipsalves, and cloathes of a pure scarlet dye
She hath, which to her cheekes she doth apply:
Oyntments wherewith she pargets ore her face,
And lustrifies her beauties dying grace.
She waters for the Morphewes doth compose,
And many other things, as strange as those;
Some made of Daffadils, some of lees,
Of scarwolfe some, and some of rinds of trees,
With Centory, sower Grapes, and Tarragon,
She maketh many a strange lotion:
Her skin she can both supple and refine,
With juyce of Lemons and with Turpintine:
The marrow of the Hernshaw and the Deere,
She takes likewise to make her skin looke cleere:
Sweet waters she distils, which she composes
Of flowers of Oranges, Woodbine or Roses:
The vertue of Jesmine and three-leav'd grasse,
She doth imprison in a brittle glasse,
With Civet, Muske, and odours farre more rare,
These liquors sweet incorporated are:
Lees she can make which turne a haire that's old
Or colour'd ill, into a hue of gold.
Of horses, beares, cats, camels, conies, snakes,
Whales, Herons, bittours, strange oyles she makes,
With which dame natures errours she corrects,
Using arts helpe to supply all defects.
She in the milke of Asses bathes her skin,
As did the beautiful Poppea, when
She tempted Nero to forsake the bed
Of great Octavia, and her selfe to wed.
Gla. If there be any Gentlewoman here,
That will with gracious acceptation use
The service of a tatling Chambermaid,
I would advise her to make choice of this Frisketta;
That is as chaste as Helen, or Corinthian Lais,
As chary of bewraying secrets as was Echo:
Oh she would prove a rare Privie Councellour
In some great Ladies privie Chamber.
The perpetuall motion for which Artists have so labor'd
Is discover'd no where so plainly as in her tongue,
Which scarce finds any leisure to rest,
No not when she is asleepe:
But of her curtesie she is so charitable,
And so heroically magnificent,
That she will both vouchsafe to commiserate
The lowe estate of an humble groome of the stable,
And also satisfie the desire
Of a high and mighty Gentleman-usher
In a kisse or any other amorous encounter:
Gentlemen beleeve me in few, she is a pearle,
Whose worth the age cannot value.
If there be any Gentleman here
That will bestow a small pension upon her,
With a kisse or two once a fortnight,
To make her his intelligencer of state
In his wives common-wealth;
I will undertake he shall be able to make good
A faction against his wife,
Had she an Amazons stomacke, a Zenobia's,
Or a Xanthippes tongue.
Cl. Out you pratling Parachito
Come you hither to abuse me.
Take this for your paines.
She strikes him.
Gla. Now thank thy stars, that with a female signature
Did stampe thy sexe, audacious strumpet,
Shall I draw? no, now I think ont I will not;
For reason and experience shewes, that no man
Ere gain'd repute by drawing gainst a woman.
Cl. Stripling, dost thinke I feare a naked blade;
Ile meete thee where thou dar'st, and whip thee too
For thy unruly tongue, thy sawcinesse.
Gla. Well minion, remember this,
If I doe not cry you quit for this abuse,
Then let me nere be trusted:
Your Mistris shall know how you have us'd me,
So she shall.
Cl. Skippjake tell what you can, I weigh't not this,
Ile make you know that you have done amisse.
Po. Forget you not the powder for your breath,
Eg. I tooke a dram of it this morning,
According to your appointment.
Po. Your pallid cheeke requires, in mine opinion,
A deeper tincture of vermilion.
Eg. And I am of the same minde:
But 'twas my Maids fault.
I thinke she goes about utterly to undoe me:
She is as good a servant as ere was
Married to the whipping-post.
Po. I tell you true I would not for twenty crownes
That Rhodon had seene you with this face.
That Ceruse on your brow is extreamely dull,
There is no lustre, no resplendency in it.
S'light I have seene often times a stain'd cloath
Over a smoakie chimmey in an Alehouse
Present me with a better face.
Eg. Nay, I could not for my heart perswade
The wicked pertinacious harlot,
To lay more colour on then pleased her fancy;
But if I live I will cashiere the queane.
Po. If you doe not, you are no friend to your selfe.
Eg. How lik'st thou the colour of my haire.
Po. O that is exceedingly well dyde.
Eg. Me thinks the hue is not high enough.
Po. Nay, pardon me Madam: tis passing well.
The browne hue is the most incomparable colour
For a haire of all other.
Those golden wires that on faire Hero's sholders dangl'd,
And those faire flaxen threds that made Jove
Dote upon faire Nonacrine,
May not be compar'd with the lovely browne.
Eg. Discreet Poneria, thy wise approbation
Doth give my fancy ample satisfaction.
But heare me Poneria, will you undertake
That I shall meet with the Shepheard Rhodon,
As you oft have promis'd me.
Po. Faire shepheardesse I will.
Eg. But 'tis a thing impossible I feare.
Po. Why so good Eglantine?
Eg. Because I heare he deeply is ingag'd
To Iris, that proud Damsell of Hymettus.
Po. I grant he is: and since things are thus,
I will so act my part, that his new love
Shall be the meanes to renue that good will
That hath bin heretofore betwixt him and you.
Eg. Nor Circes drugs, nor all Ulysses, wits,
I tell thee Beldame, can accomplish this.
Po. Good daughter undervalue not my skill,
For 'tis contriv'd how it shall be effected,
And to satisfie thy curiosity,
I will declare how I have laid the plot.
Eg. I prethe blesse my eares with this relation.
Po. I will a message beare in Iris name,
Unto the Shepheard Rhodon, which shall shew,
That she desires an am'rous interview
With him, in such a privacy
That day must not be guilty of it:
A solitary glade shall be the place,
Where you protected by the veile of conscious night,
Instead of Iris shall present your selfe
Unto the Shepheard Rhodon,
Whom you shall entertaine with sweet discourse,
And so comport your selfe, that he shall thinke,
You are his dearest Iris.
But to assure him yours, I have provided
A precious Philter of rare efficacy,
Compos'd according to the rudiments of art.
This shall you cause him to carouse
As water of inestimable worth.
Which done, he is your owne;
And Iris then shall be forgotten cleane,
As one whom he had nere scarce knowne or seene.
Eg. Tis bravely plotted sweet Poneria:
But what houre wilt thou allot for this designe.
Po. Provide your selfe to meet him in the mirtle grove
Upon eleven at night.
Eg. Very good.
Po. Now Ile to Rhodon goe, and him invite,
To meet you at the appointed place this night.
Eg. Now most auspicious be thy stars and mine,
Let all good lucke attend our great designe.
Cy. But is the angry swaine (sai'st thou) so hot,
Is Rhodon growne so zealous in his sisters cause?
Ma. If that his actions with his words agree,
I must expect a sodaine storme.
Cy. I am resolv'd to take part in thy fortunes,
Be they the worst that ere to any fell.
Ma. Thanks noble friend, then here lets joyne our hand[s]
In signe of most unseparable bands.
Cy. But there's Acanthus a jolly swaine,
He frets (they say) like a furious Mirmidon.
Ma. In braving language he exceeded so,
That Martagon nere saw so bold a foe,
Surcharg'd with swelling passion, he did vowe
To take a full revenge on me and you.
Cy. And is the youth so fill'd with valrous heate?
Who would have thought the frozen mountaines could
Have bred so brave a hot-spurre.
Ma. These raging Lyons must, Cynosbatus,
Be undermin'd by some egregious sleight;
We must pitch some strong toile for these fierce Beasts,
Where we may take them captive at our pleasure:
For if we should assaile them openly,
Much perill then we might incurre thereby.
Cy. What thy high judgement shall conclude to doe,
I am resolv'd to condiscend unto.
Ma. Then heare what I propound. Cynosbatus,
Within a place nigh hand, resides
A Beldam much renown'd for sacred skill
In magicke mysteries.
She with her awfull Charmes wonts to call forth
All sorts of noysome Creatures that are bred
In Sandy Lybia, or cold Scythia,
From whome she takes her choyce of poyson strong.
The Herbs which grow on precipitious Erix,
She with her bloudy Sicle crops:
And whatsoever poysonous weed springs on
The craggy top of snowy Caucasus,
That's sprinkled with the bloud of wise Prometheus,
She carefully selects;
Those venomes which the warlike Medians, and
The nimble Parthians, or Arabians rich,
Use to annoynt their deadly shafts withall.
She doth by Moone-light gather;
Each Herbe that in this fertle vernall season
Puts forth its head from Opses pregnant bosome
She searches for; whether the same be bred
In the cold Forrest of Hercynea,
Or in the deserts of parch'd Africae,
What flower soe're doth in his seed or root
Strange causes of great mischiefe nourish,
She never faileth to finde out:
Whether the same on bankes of Tigris growes,
Or on the sun-burnt brinke of warme Hydaspes,
Whose golden channels pav'd with precious stones;
Some of these herbes she doth by twilight gather,
At midnight some, and some at breake of day.
Nor is she ignorant how to apply
The panting heart of the dull melancholy Owle,
Or the breathing entrailes cut from a living Cat.
The proudest Swaine that lives in Thessaly.
Is glad to be obsequious to her will,
For in her power it is to cure or kill.
Unto this reverent Sybill let us goe,
And her advice request in this designe;
By her instructions let us our actions regulate;
Providing for our owne security:
She can divine of all events, and tell
Whether things shall succeed or ill or well.
Cy. What thy sound judgement thinks fit to be done,
I condescend to, noble Martagon.
Rhodon, Anthophotus, Acanthus.
Rho. Since that the proud usurper Martagon
Will not restore what he hath tane away
By force and injury from Violetta,
We are resolv'd to put on lawfull armes,
To swage the pride of that great Termagant;
That of his prowesse doth so vainly vaunt.
Therefore deere friends addresse your selves to shew
Your true and faithfull fortitudes, for know
An ignominious peace may not compare,
With any just and honourable warre.
An. Out upon this Fabian valour,
These tedious cunctations: I tell thee Rhodon,
I must needs chide thee for our losse of time.
My troopes are all in perfect readinesse,
And long to meet their foes in open field;
If we deliberate a day longer
The edge of their valour (I feare) will be quite taken off.
Rho. Now fie upon that valour which depends
On circumstance of time or place,
Tis relative vertue, that like glasse is brittle,
Whose force soone dyes and perfects very little.
Ac. Now recollect thy spirits Rhodon,
Let Spartan resolution spread it selfe
Into each angle of thy noble heart.
For now our hostile forces are assembled,
Covering the fields from Ossa to Olympus.
Their painted banners with the windes are playing:
Their pamper'd coursers thunder on the plaines:
The splendor of their glistring armes repels
The bashfull sun-beames backe unto the clouds.
Their bellowing drums and trumpets shrill,
Doe many sad corrantos sound,
Which danger grim and sprawling death must dance.
Now therefore Rhodon, doe reflect thy eye
Upon the glories of thy ancestours,
And strive by emulation to transcend
Those trophies which were yet nere paralleld.
An. Surcease this needlesse talke, let us to action,
The losse of time consisteth in protraction.
Rho. Your noble courages, endeared friends,
A good event to our designes portends.
Ma. Within the precincts of this grove Poneria dwels,
Here nightly she hath co[n] venticles
With her wise spirits; see how the trees are carv'd
With Magicall mysterious characters,
See how the fiery fiends with their frequent resort have
Scorch'd the leaves, and chang'd the
Merry livery of the spring into a mournfull hue.
Behold the grasse dyde with the swarthy gore
Of some great sacrifice, that late was offer'd up
To the infernall powers.
Cy. The blacke aspect of this strange uncouth place
Doth make my heart to quake.
Ma. Within a vault hewne from the stony bowels,
Of yon high precipicious rocke she dwels.
Cheere up (Cynosbatus) and come away,
Let's to her Cell, and Ile shew thee the way.
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Based on Keywords: herbe, chary, beldame, entertaine, rocke, browne, gowne, dyde, coronets, regulate, ignominious