Concerning Old Dames as Fond to Practise Love as Ever the Young Ones Be  

From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search

Related e

Google
Wikipedia
Wiktionary
Wiki Commons
Wikiquote
Wikisource
YouTube
Shop


Featured:
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Enlarge
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Sur l'amour des dames vieilles, et comme certaines l'aiment autant que les jeunes is a discourse in Les Sept Discours Touchant Les Dames Galantes Du Sieur de Brantome. It concerns love and the older woman.[1]

Full text

an A. R. Allinson translation

I HAVE spoke afore of old dames which be fain to play the wanton; yet do I further append this discourse here. So by way of commencement, I will say how one day myself being at the Court of Spain and conversing with a very honourable and fair lady, but withal something advanced in age, I did hear her pronounce these words : Que ningunas damas lindas, o alo menos pocas, se hazen viejas de la cinta hasta abaxo, "that never a fair lady, or at the least very few such, are old from the waist downwards."(editor's emphasis) On my asking her in what sense she did mean this, whether 'twas the beauty of person from waist down that did never diminish in any wise by reason of age, or the desire and appetite of concupiscence that did not at all fail or grow chilled in these parts, she did make answer she intended both the one and the other. "For indeed," she went on, "as to the prickings of the flesh, no cure is there for these you must know, but death only ; albeit old age would seem to be an obstacle thereto. Yet doth every beautiful woman ever fondly love her own self, and in so loving, 'tis not for her own, but some other's sake; and is in no wise like Narcissus, the which, so foolish was the youth, himself lover and beloved, did think scorn of all other affections."

A beautiful woman hath naught of this humour about her. So have I heard it related of a very fair lady, which after first loving herself and taking much joy of her own beauty alone and by herself, and in her bed stripping of herself quite naked, and so looking at her own person, and admiring and contemplating the same, did curse her hard fate to be vowed to one sole husband that was not worthy to enjoy so fair a body, holding him to be in no wise her equal in merit. At the last was she so fired by such contemplations and sights and longings as that she did bid a long farewell to her virtue arid her marriage vow, and did practise new love with a new lover.

This is how a woman's beauty doth kindle and inflame her, constraining her to have resort to such, whether husbands or lovers, as may satisfy her desire ; while 'tis always the nature of one love to lead to another. Wherefore being thus fair and sought after of some admirer, and if she disdain not to answer to his passion, she is at once in the snare. So Lais, the famous courtesan, was used to declare, that so soon as ever a woman doth open her mouth to make a gentle reply to her friend, lo ! her heart is flown, and the door opened straightway.

Moreover no fair and honourable woman doth ever refuse any good praise that men render her; and once she is gratified and doth suffer such commendation of her beauty, grace and gentle ways, the which we courtiers be ever wont to make by way of first assault of love, though it may be some while a-doing, yet in the long run we do always win the place.

Further, it is a true thing that no beautiful woman, having once made essay of the game of love, doth ever unlearn the same, and for ever after is the sport right pleasant and delightsome to her. Just as when a man hath grown accustomed to good living, 'tis exceeding disagreeable to discontinue the same; and as this is better for the health, the more a man is got on in years, (as the doctors declare), so the more a woman advanceth in age, all the more is she greedy after the good cheer she is accustomed to. This daintiness is nowise forgot or remitted because of the weight of years, but more like by some long sickness, (so the faculty tell us), or other accident ; and albeit disinclination may be experienced for some while, yet will the taste for such good things be renewed anon.

'Tis said, again, how that all activities do decrease and diminish by reason of age, which doth rob folk of the strength to properly exercise the same, except only that of Venus, the which is carried out very luxuriously, without sore trouble or much exertion, in a soft, comfortable bed, and altogether at ease. I do speak now of the woman, and not of the man, to the share of which latter falleth all the labour and task-work in this province. A man then, once deprived of this pleasure, doth easily and early abstain from further indulgence, albeit sometimes it may be in spite of himself; whereas a woman, be she of what age she will, doth take to her, like a furnace, and burn up, all stuff that cometh her way. Nay ! even though a dame should be so aged as to look but ill, and find herself in no such good case as in her younger years, yet she may by dint of money find means to get gallant cavaliers at the current rate, and good ones too, as I have heard say. All commodities that cost dear do sore vex the purse, (this goes counter to Heliogabalus' opinion, who the dearer he did buy his viands, the better he thought them), except only the commodities of Love, the which be the more agreeable in proportion as they cost more, by reason of the great desire felt to get good value of the bargain and thoroughly enjoy the article purchased. So the poor talent one hath, is made to do triple service, or even hundredfold service, if that may any way be.

This is what a certain Spanish courtesan meant by her word to two brave gentlemen which did pick a quarrel together over her, and sallying forth to her house, did take sword in hand and fall to a-fighting. But she putting head out of window, did cry out to them: Senores, mis amores se ganan con oron y plata, non con hierro, "Nay ! Sirs, my love is won with gold and silver, not with iron."

All love well purchased is well and good. Many a lady and many a cavalier which have done such traffic could tell us so much. But to allege here examples of ladies, and there be many such, which have burned as hot in their old age as ever in youth, and have satisfied, or to put it better, have kept up, their fires with second husbands and new lovers, would be for me now a waste of labour, seeing I have elsewhere given many such. Yet will I bring forward one or two here also, for my subject doth require it and is suitable to such matters.

I have heard speak of a great lady, one that was as well talked about as any of her day, which one day seeing a young gentleman with very white hands, did ask him what he was used to do to have them so. To this he made answer, by way of jape and jest, that so oft as ever he could, he would be a-rubbing of them with the spirit of love. "Ah ! well," she replied, " 'tis my bad luck then ; for more than sixty years have I been washing myself therewith, and I'm just as bad as the day I began. Yet do I bathe so every day."

I have heard speak of a lady of pretty advanced age, who wishing to marry again, did one day ask a physician's advice, basing her reasons for so doing on the fact that she was exceeding full of all sorts of evil humours, which had assailed and ever afflicted her since she was a widow. Yet had this never so happed in the lifetime of her husband, seeing that by dint of the constant exercises they did perform together, the said humours were consumed. The physician, who was a merry fellow, and willing enough to please her herein, did counsel her to marry again, and in this fashion to chase away the humours from her, saying 'twas better far to be happy than sad. The lady did put this advice in practise, and found it answer very well, indeed, superannuated as she was. This was, I mean, with a new husband and lover, which did love her at least as much for the sake of her good money as for any pleasure he gat of her. Though of a surety there be many quite old dames, with whom as much enjoyment is to be had as with younger women; nay! 'tis sometimes greater and better with such, by reason of their understanding the art and science of love better, and so the more stimulating their lovers' taste therefor.

The courtesans of Rome and of Italy generally, when they are verging toward ripe years, do maintain this maxim, that una galina vecchia fa miglior brodo che un' ultra, "an old hen doth make better broth than any other."

The Latin poet Horace doth make mention of an old woman, which did so stir and toss about when she came to bed, and move her so violently and restlessly, that she would set not alone the bed but the whole house a-trembling. A gallant old dame in sooth! Now the Latins do name suchlike agitation and wanton movement subare a sue.

We do read of the Emperor Caligula, that of all his women which he had, he did love best Caesonia, and this not so much by reason of her beauty, nor because she was in the flower of age, for indeed she was by then well on in years, but on account of her exceeding lustfulness and the wantonness that was in her, as well as the good pains she did take in the exercise thereof, and the experience her age, and long practise had taught her, herein leaving all the other women in the lurch, albeit handsomer and younger than herself. He was used to take her commonly to the wars with him, clad and armed like a man, and riding in manlike wise side by side with him, going so far even as often times to show her to his comrades all naked, and make her exhibit to them her feats of suppleness.

Thus are we bound to allow that age had in no wise diminished the lady's beauty, seeing how greatly the Emperor was attached to her. Natheless, with all this fond love he did bear her, very oft wheneas he was a-kissing and touching her fair neck, he could not hinder himself, so bloody-minded was he, from saying: "Ah! the beautiful neck it is; yet 'tis in my power at will to have it cut." Alas and alas! the poor woman was slain along with her husband with a sword thrust through the body by a Centurion, and her daughter broken and dashed to death against a wall, the which could never have been but for the ill deeds of her father.

1 We read further of Julia, step-mother of the Emperor Caracalla [(Julia Domna, author's note), how that one day being as it were by inadvertence half naked, she did expose one-half of her body to his eyes ; whereupon he said these words, "Ha, ha ! but I could relish it well enough, an if it were allowed me!" She answered straightway, "So please you, know you not you are Emperor, and therefore make laws instead of obeying them?" On hearing these words and seeing her readiness, he did marry her and couple with her.

A reply of pretty much the same import was given to one of our last three French Kings, whose name I will not mention. Being enamoured and fallen deep in love with a very fair and honourable lady, after having made the earlier advances and preliminaries of his suit to her, did one day cause his pleasure to be conveyed to her more at length by an honourable and very judicious and adroit gentleman I know by name and repute. So he, conveying to her the Sovereign's little missive, did use all his eloquence to persuade her to consent. But she, no fool at this game, did defend herself the best she could by many excellent reasons the which she well knew how to allege, without forgetting the chiefest, her honour, that mighty, or rather mighty small, treasure. At the last, the gentleman after much disputing and many protestations, did ask her finally what she did desire he should tell the King. Then she, after some moments of reflection, did suddenly, as if brought to bay, pronounce these words following: "What are you to tell him?" she cried, "why! what else but this? tell him I know well enough that no refusal was ever advantageous to any, man or woman, which doth make such to his King and Sovereign; and that very oft a Prince, exerting the power he hath, will rather give the orders and taking a thing than go on begging and praying for it." Not ill content with this reply, the gentleman doth straightway bear it to the King; who taking time by the fore-lock, doth hide him to the lady in her chamber, and without any over great effort or resistance doth have his will. The reply was at once witty, and showed her good will to pleasure her King. Albeit men say 'tis never well to have sport or dealings with the King, yet must we except this particular game, wherefrom never was ill advantage gotten, if only the woman do behave her prudently and faithfully.

To return to the afore named Julia, step-mother of the Emperor, she must need have been a very harlot to love and take for husband one which had on her own bosom slain some while before their own proper son ;

(verily she was a base harlot and of base heart. Still 'twas a grand thing to be Empress, and for such an honour all else is forgot. This Julia was greatly loved of her husband, albeit she was well advanced in years. Yet had she lost naught of her beauty; but was very fair and very ready-witted, as those her words do witness, which did make yet greater the bed of her greatness. )

MARIA, Third Duke of Milan, 1 did wed as second wife Beatrix, widow of the late deceased Facino Cane, 2 being then an old woman. But she did bring him for marriage portion four hundred thousand crowns, without reckoning other furnishings, rings and jewelry, which did amount to a great sum, and quite wiped out all thought of her age. Yet spite of all, she did fall under her husband's suspicions of having gone to play the wanton elsewhere, and for this suspicion was done to death of him. You see how little did old age destroy her taste for the games of love. We must e'en suppose the great practice she had had thereof had but given her the desire for more and more.

Constance, Queen of Sicily, 8 who from her youth up and near all her days, had been vestal and never budged forth of a cloister-cell, but lived there in life-long chastity, getting her freedom to come out in the world at last at the age of fifty, though in no wise fair and quite decrepit, yet was fain to taste the joys of the flesh and marry. She did grow pregnant of a child at the age of fifty-two, and did desire to be brought to bed publicly in the open meadows about Palermo, having had a tent or pavilion set up there on purpose, to the end folk might have never a doubt but the fruit of her body was verily to hand. And this was one of the greatest miracles ever seen since the days of Saint Elizabeth. Natheless the History of Naples * doth affirm 'twas reputed a supposititious child. At any rate he did grow up a great man for all that; but indeed these, and the greater part of valiant men, are just the folk that be often bastards, as a high-born friend of mine did one day remark to me.

I knew once an Abbess of Tarascon, sister of Madame d'Usez, of the noble house of Tallard, 5 which did leave off her religious habit and quit her convent at over fifty years of age, and did wed the great Chanay we have seen play so gamesome a part at Court.

Many other women of religion have done the like, whether in wedlock or otherwise, for to taste the joys of the flesh, and this at a very ripe age. If such as these do so, what are we to expect our everyday dames to do, which have been broken in thereto from their tenderest years? Is age like to hinder them from now and again tasting and eating tit-bits, the customary enjoyment whereof they have so long been used to? Else what would become of so many good strengthening soups and cunningly compounded broths, so much ambergris and other warming and comfortable drugs for to warm and comfort their stomach now grown old and chilly? For 'tis not open to doubt but that such like decoctions, while they do recreate and keep sound their weakly stomachs, do likewise perform another function on the sly, in giving them more heat of body, and rousing some degree of passionate warmth. This is sure and certain, without appealing to the opinion of physicians, to whom however I do refer me as to the matter.

And another and yet greater advantage for them is this. Being now aged and coming nigh on to their fifty years, they need feel no more fear of getting with child, and so have full, plenary and most ample freedom to enjoy and make up all arrears of those pleasures which mayhap some of them have not dared take hitherto for dread of the consequences. So it is that there be many which do give more rein to their amours when got to the wrong side of fifty than when still on the right. Not a few ladies both of the highest and less exalted rank have I heard tell of as being of this complexion, so much so that I have known or heard of several that have many a time and oft longed for their fifty years to have come and gone, to hinder them of conceiving and suffer them to do it the more freely without risk or scandal of any sort. Nay! why should they refrain them on the approach of old age? Indeed you might well say that after death itself there be women which yet feel some movement and pricking of the flesh. This bringeth me to another tale I must needs tell.

I had in former days a younger brother called Captain Bourdeille, one of the bravest and most valiant captains of his time. I am bound to say thus much of him, albeit he was my brother, without going too far in my panegyric of him. The same is proved by the fights he fought both in battle and in the lists; for indeed he was of all gentlemen of France the one that had most skill of arms, so that in Piedmont he was known as one of the Rodomonts of those parts. He was slain at the assault of Hedin, the last time that place was retaken.

He was intended by his father and mother for a life of letters; and with this view was sent at the age of eighteen into Italy to study. He did take up his abode at Ferrara, for the reason that Madame Renee de France, Duchess of Ferrara, was much attached to my mother, and did keep him in that city to pursue his studies, for there was an University there. However, seeing he was fitted neither by birth nor disposition for this sort of life, he did study scarce at all, but did rather amuse himself with the delights of love and courtship. In fact he did fall deep in love with a certain French lady, a widow, which was in the service of the Duchess, known as Mile, de La Roche (or de La Mothe) and did have much pleasure with her, each loving the other exceeding well, till at the last my brother, being recalled home again by his father, who saw he was ill fitted for letters, was reluctantly constrained to return.

The lady, loving him greatly, and greatly fearing it might turn out ill with him, for she was much of Luther's way of thinking, who was then widely followed, did beg my brother to take her with him to France and to the Court of Marguerite, Queen of Navarre, 6 in whose service she had been, and who had given her to Madame Renee, when she was married and went to live in Italy. My brother, who was young and quite heedless, was only too glad of such excellent company, and did willingly escort her to Paris, where the Queen was then residing. This last was right glad to behold her, for of all women she was the wittiest and most ready of tongue, and was a handsome widow to boot and perfect in all accomplishments.

My brother, after having tarried some days with my grandmother and my mother, who was then performing her Court service, did presently go home to see his father. After some while, sickening utterly of letters, and seeing himself in no wise fitted for their pursuit, he doth quit that career altogether and away to the wars in Piedmont and Parma, where he did win much honour. So he did serve in these wars by the space of five or six months without returning home. At the end of this time he went to see his mother, who was at the time at Court with the Queen of Navarre; the Queen was then holding Court at Pau, and my brother did make his reverence to her as she was returning from Vespers. Being one of the best natured Princesses was ever in this world, she did receive him right graciously, and talcing him by the hand, did walk with him up and down the Church for an hour or twain, asking him news of the wars in Piedmont and Italy and of many other matters. To all this my brother did make answer so well that she was very well satisfied (for indeed he was as ready of tongue as any of his time) as well with his wit as with his person, for he was a most handsome man, and of the age then of twenty-four. At the last, after long discourse with him, for 'twas ever the nature and complexion of the said noble Princess in no wise to scorn good talk and the conversation of good and honourable folk, gliding from subject to subject and still walking up and down the while, she did quietly bring my brother right over the tomb of Mile. de La Roche, which had died three months before, and there staid him. Presently taking his hand, she said thus; "Cousin mine" (she called him so, seeing that a daughter of Albret had married into our house of Bourdeille; but for all that I do keep no greater state than another, nor suffer my ambition to run away with me), "cannot you feel something move down below under your feet?" "Why! no, Madame," he did reply. "Nay! take heed and mark carefully, cousin," she did resume. But my brother only made answer, "Madame, I have taken heed, but I can feel nothing moving. The stone I tread on is firm enough." "Well, well! I must tell you then," the Queen went on, without keeping him longer in suspense, "that you are standing above the tomb and the body of poor Mile, de La Roche, whom erst you did love so fondly; she is interred beneath this spot. Now seeing that our souls do possess feeling after our death, how can we doubt that this excellent creature, dead but lately, was moved so soon as ever you came over her? And if you did not mark it by reason of the grossness of the tomb, no doubt for this cause was she the more stirred and moved in herself. Now forasmuch as 'tis a right pious office to have memory of the dead, and specially of them we have loved, I do beseech you give her a Pater nosier and an Ave Maria and a de Profundis to boot, and sprinkle her resting place with holy water; so shall you win the name of a very faithful lover and a good Christian. And to this end will I now leave you," and so quits him and hies her away. My brother, (who is since dead), failed not to perform what she had said, and then went to see her again; whereupon she did somewhat take him to task and rally him, for she was familiar with folk, in a good sense that is, and had graceful skill in gentle mockery.

Such then was the view this Princess did hold, but more by way of witty conceit and gentle sentiment than from actual belief, as I think.

These gentle words of the Princess do further remind me of an epitaph over a courtesan that is buried at the Church of our Lady of the People (del Popolo) at Rome, which doth read thus: Quaesco, viator, ne me diutius calcatam amplius calces, "To him that passeth by: 'I have been kicked and spurned enough in my lifetime; spurn me no more.' ' The Latin expression hath more grace than the English equivalent. I do put the thing down here more by way of a jest than anything else.

Well, to draw to an end, no need to be astonished that the Spanish lady named above did hold the maxim she did enunciate good of all such fair ladies as have been greatly loved of others, and have loved, and do love, themselves, and do take delight in being praised, albeit they may have but little left of their by-gone beauty. But yet 'tis ever the chiefest pleasure you can give them, and the one they do love the most, whenas you tell them they are still the same, and are in no wise changed or aged, and above all those of them which grow not old from the waist downwards.

I have heard speak of a very fair and honourable lady which one day did say thus to her lover: "I know not whether for the future old age will bring me increasing inconvenience and incapacity," she was fifty-five years old ; "but, God be thanked, I did never do myself pleasure so well as I do now, nor ever took greater joy therein. Whether this do last out and continue till my extremest old age or no, I have no fault to find, nor complaint to make of my days gone by."

Now as concerning love and concupiscence, I have both here and elsewhere adduced examples enough, without dwelling longer on this subject. Let us now consider a while the maxim as concerning this special beauty of fair ladies, how that it doth not diminish by reason of old age.

For sure, the aforesaid Spanish lady did allege many good reasons and seemly comparisons, likening these fair ladies to fine old buildings of yore whose ruins do yet remain superb and imposing. So amid the noble antiquities of Rome do we see the ruins of palaces, superb relics of Collosseum and Thermae, which to this day do plainly show what they once were, and do inspire all beholders with wonder and awe, their mere ruins being wondrous and surprising. Nay, more ! on these same ruins men do still build right noble edifices, proving that the foundations be better and finer than fresh new ones. So very often in their constructions, the which our good architects and masons do undertake, if that they find some old ruins and ancient foundations, straightway do they build on these, and that in preference to laying new ones.

Likewise have I seen good galleys and ships built and reconstructed on old hulls and old keels, the which had long lain in harbour doing nothing ; and these were every whit as good and sound as others which the ship-carpenters did frame and build all new, and of new timber fresh from the forest.

Furthermore, our Spanish lady was used to say, do we not many a time see the summits of high towers carried away, overthrown and disfigured by winds, storms and lightning, while the base doth remain safe and sound? For 'tis ever against such lofty points that storms do spend their fury. The sea winds moreover do corrode and eat away the upper stones of a building and do wear them hollow more than those at the bottom, seeing these be not so much exposed as the ones higher up.

In like wise many fair ladies do lose the brilliancy and beauty of their pretty faces by various accidents whether of cold or heat, of sun and moon, and the like, as well as, more's the pity, by reason of various cosmetics, the which they do apply to them, thinking so to heighten their charms, but really and truly spoiling all their beauty thereby. Whereas in other parts, they do apply no other preparation but only nature's method, feeling therefore neither cold, nor rain, nor wind, neither sun nor moon, none of which do affect them at all.

If heat do inconvenience them, they know many means to gain relief and coolness; as likewise they can guard against cold in plenty of ways. So many inconveniences and injuries must needs be warded off from a woman's beauty of face, but few or none from that which lieth elsewhere. Wherefore we should never conclude, because a woman's countenance is spoiled, that she is all foredone all over, and that naught doth remain of fine and good, and that 'tis useless to build on that foundation.

I have heard a tale told of a certain great lady, which had been exceeding fair and much devoted to love. One of her old lovers having lost sight of her for the space of four years, through some journey he did undertake, on returning from the same did find her sadly changed from the fair countenance he had known erstwhile, the which did so disappoint him and chill his ardour as that he did no more care to board her nor to renew with her again the pleasure of former days. She did recognize him readily enough, did endeavour all she could to get him to come and see her. Accordingly to this end she did one day counterfeit sickness, and when he had come to visit her by daylight did thus say to him : "I know well enough, Sir ! you do scorn me for my poor face so changed by age; but come, look you, and see if there be aught changed there. If my face has deceived you, at any rate there is no deception about that." So the gentleman examining her and finding her as fair and sound as ever, did straight recover appetite and did enjoy the flesh he had thought to be spoiled. "Now this is the way, Sir," said the lady, "you men are deceived! Another time, give no credence to the lies our false faces tell ; for indeed the rest of OUT bodies doth by no means always match them. This is the lesson I would have you learn."

Another lady of the like sort, being thus sorely changed of her fair face, was in such great anger and despite against the same, that she would never more look at it in her mirror, saying 'twas unworthy of so much honour. So she had her head always dressed by her maids; and to make up, would ever look at the other parts of herself only and gaze at these, taking as much pride and delight therein as she had aforetime done in her beautiful face.

I have heard speak of another lady, who whenever she did lie by daylight with her lover, was used to cover her face with a fair white kerchief of fine Holland web, for fear lest, if he should look in her face, the upper works might chill and stay his affection, and move him to mere disgust; for indeed below was naught to chide at, but all was as fine as ever. This doth remind me of yet another very honourable lady I have heard tell of, who did make a diverting and witty reply. Her husband one day asking her why her hair in one place was not grown white and hoary like that of her head, "Ah, yes," she did exclaim, "the wretch it is ! It hath done all the folly, yet doth it feel naught, nor experience any ill consequences. Many and many a time hath it made my head to suffer; whereas it doth ever remain unchanged, in the same good estate and vigour, and keepeth the same complexion, and above all the same natural heat, and the same appetite and sound health. But how far otherwise it is with my other parts, which do endure aches and pains for it, and my hair which hath long ago grown white and hoary."

And she had good reason so to speak; for truly this doth engender in women many ills, and gout and other sicknesses. Moreover for being over hot at it, so the doctors say, do they grow prematurely hoary-headed. Thus we see fair ladies do never grow old in some parts, either in one fashion or the other.

I have heard many men relate, men which have fol- lowed women freely, even going with courtesans, how that they have scarce ever seen pretty women get old in certain parts, did always keep all their former beauty, and good will and hearty disposition to boot as good as aforetime. Nay, more ! I have heard not a few husbands declare they did find their old women (so they called them) as fair and fine as ever, and as full of desire and wantonness, beauty and good will, discovering no change at all but of face, and were as fain to love them as ever they were in their young days.

In fine, how many men there be which do love old women for many reasons better than young ! Just as there be many which do love old horses best, whether for a good day's work, or for the riding-school and display, such animals as have been so well drilled in their youth as that you will have never a fault to find with them when grown old. Right well trained have they been, and have never after forgot their pretty cunning.

I have myself seen in our Royal stables a horse they called Quadragant, first broke in the time of King Henri. He was over two and twenty years old ; but aged as he was, he yet went very well, and had forgot naught of his exercises. He could still give his King, and all which did see him go through his paces, great and real pleasure. I have seen the like done by a tall charger called Gonzago, from the stud-farm of Mantua, and which was of the same age as Quadragant.

I have likewise seen that magnificent and well-known black, which had been set to stallion's work. Signer An- tonio, who had charge of the Royal stud, did show him me at Meung, 7 one day I did pass that way, making him do the two strides and a leap, and the round step, both which he did execute as well as the day M. de Carnavallet had first trained him, for he was his horse. The late M. de Longueville was fain to hire him of his master for three thousand livres; however King Charles would not have it, but took him for himself, recompensing the owner in another way. A whole host of others I could easily name ; but I should never have done, and so do refer me to those worthy squires which have seen so many of the sort.

Our late King Henri, at the camp of Amiens, had chose for his mount on the day of battle an horse called le Bay de la Paix, & very fine and strong charger, and aged. But he died of fever in the camp of Amiens ; so the most expert farriers did declare, but 'twas deemed a strange thing to have happed.

The late Due de Guise did send to his stud-farm of Esclairon 8 for the bay Sanson, which was there serving the mares as stallion, to be his mount at the battle of Dreux, where he did carry him excellently.

In his first wars the late Prince did take from the stud at Mun two and twenty horses, which were there as stallions, to serve him in his campaigns ; and did divide the same among the different lords which were with him, after reserving his own share. Whereof the gallant Avaret did have a charger which the great Constable had given to King Henri, and which was called le Compere (Old Gos- sip). Aged as he was, never was seen a better mount ; his master did prove him in some good tough rencontres, and he did carry him right well. Captain Bourdet gat the Arab, on whose back our late King Henri was wounded and slain, a horse the late M. de Savoie had given him, called le Malheureux (the Unlucky). This was his name when he was presented to the King, and verily 'twas one of very ill omen to him. Never in his youth was he near so good as he was in his old age ; though 'tis true his master, which was one of the most gallant gentlemen of France, did show him ever to the best advantage. In a word, of all these stallions, was not one that age did hinder from serving his master well, and his Prince and country. Indeed there be some old horses that will never give up ; hence 'tis well said, no good horse doth ever become a mere hack.

3.

IF such sort be many fair dames, which in their old age be every whit as good as other women in their youth, and do give as great pleasure, from their having been in their time thor- oughly well taught and trained. And be sure such lessons are not easily forgot. Then again the best of it is these be always most liberal and generous in giving, so as to keep in hand their cavalier and riders, which do get more money and demand an higher salary to bestride an old mount than a young one. 'Tis just the opposite with squires and real horsemen, which do never care so much to mount broke horses as young ones that be yet to break. However this is but reasonable after all.

There is a question I have seen debated on the subject of women of years, to wit: which doth bring the greater glory, to love a woman of years and have the enjoyment of her, or to so do with a young one. Not a few have I heard pronounce for the older woman. For they would maintain that the foolishness and heat which be in youth are of themselves debauched enough already and right easy to undo; whereas the prudence and coldness that would seem natural to age cannot but with difficulty be led astray. And so they which do succeed in corrupting such win the higher repute.

In like wise was the famous courtesan Lai's used to boast and glorify herself greatly of the fact that the philosophers did come so oft to visit her and learn in her school, more than of all the young and giddy folks which did frequent her society. So also Flora was ever proud to see great and dignified Roman senators arrive at her door, rather than young and foolish gallants. Thus methinks 'tis great glory to vanquish and overcome the wise prudence which should be in persons of ripe age, so far as pleasure and satisfaction go.

I do refer me to such men as have made experiment hereof, of the which sundry have told me how that a trained mount is ever more agreeable than a wild colt and one that doth not so much as know the trot. Furthermore, what pleasure and what greatest delight may not a man enjoy in mind, whenas he doth behold enter a ballroom, or one of the Queen's apartments, or a Church, or other place crowded with company, a lady of ripe years and dignity, de alta guisa (of lofty carriage) as they say in Italian, and above all a lady of honour to the Queen or some Princess, or the governess of some King's daughter, young queen or great princess, or mayhap mother of the maids of honour, one that is chose out and set in this high and sober office by reason of her modest and seemly carriage? You shall see her assuming all the part of the prudish, chaste and virtuous dame, while everybody doth of course suppose her so, by reason of her years ; then what joy, when a man doth think in his heart, or e'en say it out to some trusty comrade and confidant of his, "Look at her yonder, with her solemn ways, her staid and cold and scornful mien! To see her, would you not deem butter would not melt in her mouth? Yet, alack-a- day! never a weathercock in all the wide world doth so shift and whirl so swift and nimbly as doth she."

For myself, I do verily believe the man which hath known this joy and can so say, is right well content at heart. Ha ! ha ! but I have known a many such dames in this world, which did counterfeit to be most modest, prudish and censorious duennas, yet were exceeding dissolute and lecherous when they did come to it. Yea ! and they would be put on their backs far more than most young damsels, which, by reason of their too much inex- perience, be afraid of the gentle strife! So do they say there is naught so good as old vixens for hunting abroad and getting food for their cubs to eat.

We read how of old days several Roman Emperors did take their pleasure in the debauching and having their will of suchlike high-born ladies of honour and repute, as well for the pleasure and contentment to be had therein, and in good sooth there is more with such than with women of inferior sort, as for sake of the glory and honour they did arrogate to themselves for having so debauched and bested them. So in like wise have I known in my own time not a few great Lords, Princes and Noblemen, which have found great boast and great content at heart, by reason of having done the same.

Julius Caesar and Octavius, his successor, were exceeding ardent after such sort of conquests, as I have alleged before; and after them Caligula, who summoning to his feasts the most illustrious Roman ladies together with their husbands, would gaze steadfastly at the same and examine them minutely, nay! would actually put out his hand and lift their faces up, if by chance any of them did hang their heads as conscious of being dames of honour and repute, though truly other some were fain but to counterfeit this modesty, and play the shamefaced prude. But verily there cannot have been a many genuine prudes in the days of these dissolute Emperors ; yet must they needs make the pretense, albeit nothing more. Else had the game not been worth the playing; and I have myself in our day seen many a fair lady do the like.

Afterward such of them as did hit the worthy Emperor's taste, these he would take aside openly and from their very husbands' side, and leading them from the hall would escort them to a privy chamber, where he would take his pleasure of them to his full content. This done he would lead them back to sit down once more in their place ; and then before all the company would proceed to commend their beauties and special hidden charms that were in them, specifying these same separately and severally. And any which had any blemishes, faults or defects of beauty, these he would by no means let off in silence, but was used always to describe and declare the same openly, without disguising or concealing aught.

Nero was even yet worse than this, being so curious as that he did examine his own mother's dead body, gazing steadfastly upon the same and handling all her limbs and parts, commending some and abusing others.

I have heard the same thing told of sundry great Lords of Christian days, which have had this same strange curiosity toward their dead mothers.

Nor was this all with the said Caligula ; for he was used to retail all their movements, their naughty ways and tricks, and the modes and fashions they did follow in their doing of it, and in special of any which had been modest and prudish, or which had made pretense to be so at table. For verily if a-bed they were fain to do the like, there is small doubt but the cruel tyrant did menace them with death, unless they would do all his pleasure for his full content, and so constrained them by the terror of execu- tion. Then after would he speak despitefully of them to his heart's content, to the sore shame and general mockery of the poor dames, who thinking to be accounted chaste and modest as ever women can be, and to play the hypo- crite and counterfeit donne da ben (virtuous ladies), were utterly and entirely revealed in their true colours and made known as mere harlots and wanton wenches. And truly this was no bad business so to discover them in a character they did never wish to be known. And better still, 'twas always, as I have said, great ladies that were so entreated, such as wives of consuls, dictators, praetors, quaestors, senators, censors, knights, and others of the highest estate and dignity, as we might say in our own days and Christian lands, mighty Queens, (which yet are not to be compared with Consuls' wives, seeing these were paramount over all men), Princesses of greater and less puissance, Duchesses, Marchionesses, and Countesses, great and small, Baronesses, Knights' dames, and the like ladies of rank and rich estate. And truly there is no doubt at all but that many Christian Emperors and Kings, if they had the power to do the like of the Emperor Caligula toward ladies of such quality, would avail themselves thereof. But then they be Christians, which have the fear of God before their eyes, his holy ordinances, their own conscience and honour, and the ill-repute of their fellows, to say naught of the ladies' husbands, to whose generous spirit suchlike tyranny would be unendurable. Wherein of a surety our Christian Kings be deserving of high esteem and commendation, thus to win the love of fair ladies rather by dint of gentleness and loving arts than by brute force and harsh rigour, and the conquest so gained is by far a nobler one.

I have heard speak of two great Princes * which have taken exceeding pleasure in thus discovering their ladies' beauties, charms and especial graces, as well as their de- formities, blemishes and defects, together with their little ways, privy movements and wanton wiles, not however in public, as did Caligula, but in privity, with their close and particular friends. Truly a sad fashion to entreat the pretty persons of these poor ladies. Thinking to do well and sport agreeably for to pleasure their husbands, they be but scorned therefor and made a laughing-stock.

Well, to return to our former comparison, just as we do see beautiful buildings based on better foundations and of better stone and material some than others, and for this cause endure longer in their glory and beauty, even so there be some dames of bodies so well complexioned and fairly fashioned, and endowed with so fine a beauty, as that time doth in no wise so prevail over them as with others, nor seem to undermine their comeliness at all.

We read in history how that Artaxerxes, 2 among all the wives he had, did love the most Astacia, which was a woman of very ripe age, yet still most beautiful, and had been the mistress of his late brother Darius. His son did fall so deep in love with her, so exceeding fair was she in spite of years, that he did demand to share her with his father, in the same way as his share of the Kingdom. But the father, angered by this and jealous at the notion of another sharing with him this dainty morsel, did make her Priestess of the Sun, forasmuch as in Persia women which hold this estate must vow themselves to absolute chastity.

We read again in the History of Naples how Ladislas, a Hungarian and King of Naples, did besiege in Taranto the Duchess Marie, widow of Rammondelo de Balzo, and after sundry assaults and feats of arms, did take her by ar- rangement with her children, and wed her, albeit she was of ripe years, yet exceeding fair to look upon, and carried her with him to Naples. She was thereafter known as Queen Marie and fondly loved and cherished of the King.

Myself once saw the fair Duchesse de Valentinois (Diane de Poitiers) at the age of seventy, as fair of face, as fresh- looking and lovable as at thirty ; and verily she was well loved and courted by one of the greatest and most gallant Kings in all the world. I may tell her age frankly, with- out wrong to the beauty of this fair lady, seeing whenever a lady is loved of a great King, 'tis sure sign perfection doth abundantly reside in her, and make her dear to him. And surely that beauty which is given of heaven should never be spared in favour of heaven's demigods.

I saw this lady, six months before she died, still so very fair I can imagine no heart so flinty as not to have been stirred thereby, and though a while before she had broke a leg on the stony pavement of Orleans, riding and sitting her horse as lightly and cleverly as she had ever done. But the horse slipped and fell under her; and for this broken limb, and all the pains and sufferings she did en- dure, one would have thought her fair face must have been changed. But nothing of the sort, for her beauty, grace, majesty and gallant mien were just what they had ever been. And above all, she did possess an extraordinary whiteness of skin, without any recourse had to paint; only 'tis said that every morning she did employ certain washes compounded of spring water and sundry drugs, the which I cannot name like good doctors or cunning apothecaries can. I do believe that if this fair lady had lived yet another hundred years, she would never have aged, whether in face, so excellently framed was it, or in body, the parts covered and concealed that is, of such excellent temper and good condition was this. The pity is earth should ever cover these beauteous forms !

Likewise myself have seen the Marquise de Rothelin, 8 mother of the Dowager Princess de Conde and the late deceased M. de Longueville, in no wise diminished of her beauty by time or age, but keeping the fresh flower of her youth as aforetime, except only that her face did grow something redder toward the end. Yet did her beautiful eyes, that were unmatched in all the world, and which her daughter hath inherited, never alter, but were to the last as meet to wound hearts as ever.

Another I have seen in like case was Madame de la Bour- daisiere, 4 afterward by a second marriage wife to the Marechal d'Aumont. This lady in her later days was so fair to look on you would have said she was in her early youth still, and her five daughters, all beautiful women, did in no wise eclipse her. And readily enough, if the choice had been to make, would a man have left the daugh- ters to take the mother in preference ; yet had she borne a number of children. And truly of all women she did most take heed of her good looks, for she was a mortal enemy of the night damp and moonlight, and did avoid these all ever she could. The ordinary use of paint for the face, practised by so many ladies, was quite unknown to her.

I have also seen, and this is a more striking instance still, Madame de Mareuil, mother of the Marquise de Mezieres and grandmother of the Princess-Dauphin, at the age of an hundred, at which she died, looking as fresh and upright, as alert, healthy and comely as at fifty. She had been a very handsome woman in her younger days.

Her daughter, the Marquise de Mezieres named above, was of like sort and died in the like good case, but she was twenty years younger when this took place, and her figure had shrunk somewhat. She was aunt of Mme. de Bourdeille, my elder brother's wife, and did bring him the like excellent qualities. For albeit she have passed her fifty- third year and hath had fourteen children, one may truth- fully say this, and others which see her are of better judgment than I, and do assure me of the fact, that the four daughters she hath by her side do look like her own sisters. So do we often see winter fruits, and relics of the past season, match those of Summer itself, and keep their sweetness, and be as fine and savour as these, and even more.

The Amirale de Brion too, and her daughter, Mme. de Barbezieux, 5 did continue very handsome women to quite old age.

I have been told of late how that the fair Paule de Tou- louse, 6 so renowned of old days, is yet as beautiful as ever, though she is now eighty-four, and no change is to be seen, whether in her fine, tall figure or her beautiful face.

Another I have seen is the Presidente de Conte, of Bor- deaux, of equal age and equal beauty, in all ways most lovable and desirable ; and indeed she was a woman of many perfections. Many other such could I name, but I should never have done.

A young Spanish knight speaking of love to a lady of advanced age, but still handsome, she did make him this answer: A mis completas desta manera me habla V. M.f "How can you speak so to my complines?" meaning to signify by complines her age and the decline of her best days, and the approach of night. The knight did reply: Sus completas valen mas, y son mas graciosas que las horas de prima de qualquier otra dama, "Your complines are better worth, and more fair and delectable than the hours of prime of any other lady." A very pretty conceit surely !

Another speaking in like wise of love to a lady of ripe years, and she making objection to him of her withered beauty, which yet was not over and above so, did thus answer her : A las visperas se conoce la fiesta, "at vespers is the feast at its best."


4.

WE have yet among us to this day Madame de Nemours, of yore in the April of her beauty the wonder of the world, which doth still defy all devastating time. I may truly say of her, as may all that have seen her with me, that she was erst the fairest dame, in her blooming days, in all Christen- dom. I did see her one day dance, as I have told else- where, with the Queen of Scots, they twain all alone to- gether and without any other ladies to bear them com- pany, by way of a caprice, so that all such, men and women, as did behold them knew not to which to adjudge the palm of beauty. Verily, as one said at the time, you would have thought them those two suns which we read in Pliny to have once appeared together in the sky, to dazzle the world. Madame de Nemours, at that time Madame de Guise, did show the more luxurious figure ; and if it be allowed me so to say without offence to the Queen of Scots, she had the more imposing and apparent dignity of port, albeit she was not a Queen like the other. But then she was grand-daughter of that great King, 1 the father of his people, whom she did resemble in many of her features, as I have seen him portrayed in the gallery of the Queen of Navarre, showing in every look the great monarch he was.

I think I was the first which did call her by this name of Grand-daughter of the great King, Father of his People. This was at Lyons, time when the King did return out of Poland ; and often would I call her so, and she did me the honour to deem it well, and like it at my hands. She was in very deed a true grand-daughter of that great King, and especially in goodness of heart and beauty. For she was ever very good-hearted, and few or none are to be found that she ever did ill or displeasure to, while many did win great advantage in the time of her favour, that is to say in the time of her late husband, Monsieur de Guise, which did enjoy high consideration in France. Thus were there two very noble perfections united in this lady, goodness and beauty, and both of these hath she right well maintained to this present day, and by their means hath married two most honourable husbands, and two that few or none at all could have been found to match. And indeed, and if another could be found of like sort and worthy of her, and if she did wish for a third, she might well enjoy one more, so fair is she yet.

And 'tis a fact that in Italy folk do hold the ladies of Ferrara for good and tasty morsels, whence hath come the saying, potto, ferraresa, just as they say, cazzo man- tuano (a Mantua verge). As to this, when once a great Lord of that country was making court to a great and beauteous Princess of France, and they were all com- mending him at Court for his excellent merits, valiance and the high qualities which did make him deserving of her favours, there was one, the late M. d'Au, 2 Captain of the Scottish Guards, which did come nearer the point than any with these words, "Nay ! you do forget the chief of all, his cazzo mantuano to wit."

I did once hear a like speech, how when the Duke of Mantua, which was nicknamed the Gobin (Hunchback), because he was excessively hunchbacked, was desirous of wedding the sister of the Emperor Maximilian, the lady was told that he was so sadly deformed. But she only made answer, as 'tis said: Non importa purche la cam- pana habbia qualche diffetto, ma ch' el sonaglio sia buono ("No matter if the bell have some flaw, provided the clap- per be good"), meaning thereby this same cazzo man- tuano. Some indeed aver she did never say the thing at all, seeing she was too modest and well brought up ; but at any rate others did say it for her.

But to return to this same Princess of Ferrara, I did see her at the marriage of the late M. de Joyeuse appear clad in a mantle of the Italian fashion, the sleeves drawn back half way up the arms in the Siennese mode. But there was no lady there which could outshine her, and no man but said: "This fair Princess cannot make herself any fairer, so fair is she already. And 'tis easy to judge by her beauteous face that she hath other hidden beauties of great charm and parts which are not seen. Just as by looking at the noble fa9ade of a fine building, 'tis easy to judge that within there be fair chambers, antechambers and closets, fair alcoves and privy places." In many another spot likewise hath she displayed her beauty, and no long while since, in this autumn of her days, and espe- cially in Spain at the marriage of Monsieur and Madame de Savoie, in such wise that the admiration of her and her charms did remain graven in that land for all time. And if my pen had wings of power and range enough to raise her to the skies, right gladly would I devote it to the task; but 'tis too weak for such emprise. Yet will I speak of her again later. No doubt is there but this Princess was a very beautiful woman in her Springtide, her Summer and Autumn, yea ! and is still in her Winter, albeit she hath had many griefs and many children.

The worst of it is that the Italians, scorning a woman which hath had a number of children, do call such an one scrofa, that is to say a "sow." But surely they which do bear handsome, gallant and noble sons, as did this Prin- cess, are praiseworthy, and do in no wise merit this ugly name, but rather that of heaven's favourites.

I will only add this remark : What a strange and won- drous inconsistency is here, that the thing of all others most fickle and inconsistent doth offer such resistance to time, to wit a pretty woman! 'Tis not I which do say this; sorry should I be to do so. For truly I do esteem highly the constancy of many of the sex, nor are all incon- stant. 'Tis from another I borrow the remark.

I would gladly adduce the names of ladies of other lands, as well as of our own, that have still been fair in their Autumn and Winter; but for this while I will men- tion two only in this class.

One is the good Queen Elizabeth of England, the which is reigning at this day, and who they tell me is as fair as ever. If this be true, I do hold her for a very fair and beauteous Princess ; for myself have seen her in her Sum- mertide and in her Autumn season. As for her Winter, she doth now approach near the same, if she be not there already ; for 'tis long ago I did see her, and the first time ever I saw her, I know what age they did give her then. I do believe what hath kept her so long in her prime of beauty is that she hath never been wed, nor borne the burden of marriage, the which is a very grievous one, above all when a woman hath many children. The said Queen is deserving of all praise on all accounts, were it not for the death of that gallant, beautiful and peerless Princess, the Queen of Scots, the which hath sore stained her good repute.


5.

THE second foreign Princess I shall name is the Marquise de Gouast, Donna Maria of Ara- gon, which lady myself have seen still very beautiful in her final season. And I will show this in an account, the which I will abridge all ever I can. After the death of King Henri 1 of France, one month later died also Pope Paul IV., 2 Caraffa, and it became needful for the election of a new Pope that all the Car- dinals should meet together. Amongst others there came from France the Cardinal de Guise, and did fare to Rome by sea with the King's galleys, whereof the General was Fran9ois de Lorraine, Grand Prior of France, brother of the said Cardinal, who did convoy him, as a good brother should, with a fleet of sixteen galleys. And they did make such good speed and with so fine a wind astern, as that they did arrive in two days and two nights at Civita Vecchia, and from there presently to Rome. But being come thither, the Grand Prior seeing they were not yet ready to proceed to the new election (and as a fact it was yet three months more a-doing), and that accord- ingly his brother could not at present return, and his galleys were but lying idle in port meantime, he did deter- mine to go on to Naples to see that town and spend his leisure there.

So on his arrival, the Viceroy, at that time the Duke of Alcala, did receive him as if he had been a King. But before his actual arrival he did salute the town with a very fine salvo of artillery which did last a great while; and the same honour was repaid him by the town and its forts, so as you would have said the very heavens were strangely thundering during the said cannonade. And keeping his galleys in line of battle and review order, and at some distance to seaward, he did despatch in a skiff M. de 1'Estrange, a gentleman of Languedoc, a very dis- creet and honourable man, and one which could speak very gracefully, to the Viceroy, to the end he might not startle him, and to ask his leave (seeing that albeit we were at peace and on the best of terms we did come with all the terrors of war) to enter the harbour, for to see the town and visit the sepulchres of his ancestors which were there interred, and cast holy water upon them and make a prayer.

This the Viceroy did accord very readily. Then did the Grand Prior advance and renew the salvo with as fine and furious a cannonade as before, both with the main- deck guns and his sixteen galleys and other pieces of ord- nance and with arquebus fire, in such wise that all his fleet was a mass of flame. So did he make entry most proudly to the mole, with standards and pennants flying, and dressed with flags of crimson silk, and his own of damask, and with all the galley-slaves clad in crimson velvet, and the soldiers of his body-guard the same, and wearing short cloaks covered with silver broidery. The commander of these was Captain Geoffroy, a Proven9al and a brave and gallant soldier. Altogether our French galleys were found of all right fine, swift and well careened and above all the "Ship Royal," to the which never a fault could be found ; for indeed this Prince was in all ways exceeding magnificent and right liberal.

So being come to the mole in this gallant array, he did there land and all we his suite with him, at a spot where the Viceroy had commanded to have ready horses and coaches for to receive us and carry us to the town. And truly we did there find an hundred steeds, coursers, jen- nets, Spaniards, barbs and other horses, each finer than the other, with saddle-cloths of velvet all wrought with broidery, some silver and some gold. He that would ride a-horse did so, and he that preferred to go in a coach, found one ready, for there were a score there of the finest and richest, excellently horsed and drawn by the finest cattle ever seen. There too stood many great Princes and Lords, as well of the Kingdom of Naples as of Spain, which did welcome the Grand Prior most honourably on behalf of the Viceroy. On landing he did mount a Span- ish horse, the finest I have seen for many a long day, which the Viceroy did after present to him ; and did man- age him right well, and make him perform some brilliant curvets, as was much spoke of at the time. The Prince, who was a very good horseman, as good indeed as he was a seaman, did make a very fine show thus mounted ; and he did display his horse's paces to the best advantage, and in most graceful style, seeing he was one of the hand- somest Princes of his day, and one of the most pleasant and accomplished, and of a fine, tall and active figure, which is a rare thing with suchlike great personages. Thus was he conducted by all these Lords and many another noble gentleman to the Viceroy's Palace, where this last did await him and paid him all possible honour, and lodged him in his own house, and did feast him most sumptuously, both him and all his band. This he was well able to do, seeing he did profit him by twenty thou- sand crowns through this journey. We were, I daresay, a couple of hundred gentlemen that were with him, Cap- tain of galleys and others, and were lodged with most of the great Lords of the city, and that most sumptuously. First thing in the morning, on coming out from our chambers, we did find attendants so well appointed as that they would present themselves instantly to ask what we were fain to do, and whither we would go to take our pleasure. And if we did call for horses or coaches, in a moment, our wish was no sooner expressed than satisfied. So they would away at once to seek whatever mount we did crave, and all these so fine, rich and magnificent as might have contented a King; and then off on our way to take our day's pleasure, in such wise as each did pre- fer. In very fact were we well nigh spoiled by excess of enjoyment and all delights in that fair city; nor can we say there was any lack of such, for indeed I have never seen a town better supplied therewith in every sort. One alone was wanting, to wit the familiar converse, frank and free, with ladies of honour and repute, for of others there was enough and to spare. But the defect was well and wisely remedied for the time being by the complaisance of this same Marquise de Gouast, in whose honour is the present discourse writ. For she, being a right courteous lady and full of all honourable feeling, and well fitting the nobility of her house, having heard the high repute of the Grand Prior for all the perfections that were in him, and having seen him pass through the city on horse- back and recognized his worth, as is meet between folk of high station toward one another, with the magnanimity she did ever show in all things, did send one day a very honourable and well mannered gentleman of her attend- ance to greet the Prince from her, charging him to say, that if her sex and the custom of the country had suf- fered her to visit him, she would right gladly have come very readily to offer him her best services, as all the great Lords of the Kingdom had done. But she did beg him to take the will for the deed, offering him the use of her houses, castles and her best service in all things.

The Grand Prior, who was courtesy itself, did thank her most heartily, as was but meet; and did send word how that he would come to kiss her hands straightway after dinner. And this he did not fail to do, accompanied by all of us gentlemen which were with him in his suite. We did find the Marquise in her guest hall along with her two daughters, Donna Antonina and Donna Hieronima, or was it Donna Joanna? for indeed I cannot say for sure, it having now slipped my memory, as well as many other fair dames and damsels, so richly apparelled and of such a charming grace as that I have never, outside our own Court of France and that of Spain, seen else- where a more beauteous band of fair ladies.

Then did the Marquise salute the Grand Prior in the French fashion and did welcome him with every mark of honour; and he did return the same, even yet more hum- bly, con mas gran sosiego (with the very greatest re- spect), as they say in Spanish. Their discourse was for the present of mere commonplaces; while the rest of us, such as could speak Italian or Spanish, did accost the other ladies, whom we did find most honourable and gal- lant, and of very pleasing conversation.

On our departure, the Marquise, having learned from the Grand Prior that he did purpose to make a stay of a fortnight in the place, said thus to him: "Sir, if at any time you know not what to do and are in lack of pastime, your coming hither will ever do me much honour, and you shall be most welcome, as it were at the house of your own lady mother; and I beg you to use the same precisely as though it were your own, neither more nor less. I have the good fortune to be loved and visited by honourable and fair dames of this Kingdom and city as much as any lady therein; and seeing your youth and merit do set you to love the conversation of honourable ladies, I will beseech them to resort hither yet more frequently than they do use, to bear you company and all the fair and noble gentlefolk which be with you. Here stand my two daughters, the which I will direct, albeit they are not so well accomplished as they should be, to bear you company after the French fashion, to wit to laugh, dance, play and talk freely, modestly and honourably, even as you do at the Court of France. And I would gladly enough offer myself for one; only 'twould be very irksome to a young Prince, handsome and gallant like yourself, to have to entertain an old woman, worn out, tiresome and unlovable such as I. For verily and indeed youth and age do scarce accord well together."

These words the Grand Prior did straightway take objection to, assuring her that old age had gat no hold at all upon her, and that he would never hear of any such thing, but that her Autumn did overpass all the Spring- tides and Summers that were in that hall. And truly she did still seem a very handsome and very lovable woman, yea ! even more than her two daughters, pretty and young as these were. Yet was she then very nigh sixty good years old. This little speech of the Prince did much pleasure the Marquise, as we could easily see by her laughing face and all her words and ways.

We did leave her house exceeding delighted with the lady, and above all the Grand Prior himself, who had instantly fallen in love with her, as he did inform us. Little doubt then but this fair and honourable lady, and her fair band of attendant dames, did draw the Grand Prior to resort every day to her house; for indeed if we went not there after dinner, we did so in the evening. The Prince did take for mistress her eldest daughter, albeit he did better love the mother; but 'twas done per adumbrar la cosa, "to veil the matter."

Tiltings at the ring were held in plenty, whereat the Grand Prior did bear away the prize, as well as many ballets and dances. In a word, the gay society he did enjoy was the cause of this, that whereas he had pur- posed to tarry but a fortnight, we were there for a good six weeks. Nor were we in any wise irked thereby, for we had likewise gotten us mistresses no less than our Gen- eral. Nay! we had certainly remained longer still, had not a courier come from the King, bringing him news of the breaking out of the war in Spain. For this cause he had to weigh anchor and carry his galleys from the Eastern shore to the Western, though in fact they did not cross over till eight months later.

So had we to take leave of all these delightsome pleas- ures, and quit the good and gracious town of Naples ; and truly 'twas not without great sadness and many regrets to our General and all of us, but we were right sorry to leave a place where we had been so happy.

At the end of some six years, or mayhap longer, when we were on our way to the succour of Malta, I was again at Naples and did make enquiry if the aforesaid fair lady were yet alive. I was told yes ! and that she was in that town. Instantly I made a point of going to see her ; and was immediately recognized by an old seneschal of her house, which did away to tell his mistress that I was fain to kiss her hands. She, remembering my name of Bour- deille, did summon me up to her chamber to see her. I found her keeping her bed, by reason of a slight rash she had on one of her cheeks. She did make me, I swear, a right excellent welcome. I did find her very little changed, and still so handsome a woman she might well have made any man commit a mortal sin, whether in will or deed.

She did ask me eagerly for news of my late General the Grand Prior, and lovingly, and how he had died ; and saying she had been told how that he had been poisoned, did curse an hundred times over the wretch that had done the deed. I told her 'twas not so, and bade her disabuse her fancy of any such idea, informing her how he had died really of a treacherous and secret pleurisy he had caught at the battle of Dreux, where he had fought like a Cassar all day long. But at evening, after the last charge, being greatly heated by fight and a-sweat, and then withdraw- ing on a night of the most bitter hard frost, he was chilled to the bone. He did conceal his sickness, and died of it a month or six weeks afterward.

She did manifest, both by words and manner, her deep regret for him. And note now, two or three years before this, he had despatched two galleys on a freebooting ex- pedition under the charge of Captain Beaulieu, one of the Lieutenants of his galleys. He had adopted the flag of the Queen of Scots, one which had never been seen or known in the Eastern seas, and which did cause folk much amaze; for 'twas out of the question to take that of France, because of the alliance with the Turks. Now the Grand Prior had given orders to the said Captain Beaulieu to land at Naples and pay a visit on his behalf to the Marquise de Gouast and her daughters, to which three ladies he did send by his hand an host of presents, all the little novelties then in vogue at the Court and Palace, in Paris and in France generally. Indeed this same noble Grand Prior was ever the soul of generosity and magnificence. This task Captain Beaulieu did not fail to perform, and did present all his master's gifts; himself was most excellently received, and rewarded by a fine present for his mission.

The Marquise did feel such obligation for these gifts and for that he had continued to remember her, that she did tell me again and again how gratified she had been and how she had loved him yet more than afore for his goodness. Again for love of him, she did a graceful courtesy to a gentleman of Gascony, which was at that time an officer in the galleys of the Grand Prior. This gentleman was left behind, when we set sail, sick unto death. But so kind was fortune to him, that addressing himself to the said lady in his adversity, he was so well succoured of her that his life was saved. She did take him in her household, and did serve him so well, as that a Captaincy falling vacant in one of her Castles, she did bestow the same on him, and procured him to marry a rich wife to boot.

None of the rest of us were aware what had become of the poor gentleman, and we deemed him dead. But lo ! at the time of this latter voyage to Malta, there was amongst us a gentleman, younger brother of him I spake of, which did one day in heedless talk tell me of the main occasion for his going abroad. This he said was to seek news of a brother of his that had formerly been in the service of the Grand Prior, and had tarried behind sick at Naples more than six years before and had never been heard of since. Then did I bethink me, and presently did make enquiry for news of him of the folk belonging to the Mar- quise. These told me of his good fortune, and I did at once inform the younger brother. The latter did thank me very heartily, and accompanied me to pay his respects to the said lady, who did take him into great favour also, and went to visit him at his lodging.

Truly a pretty gratitude and remembrance of a friend- ship of old days, which remembrance she did still cher- ish, as I have said. For she did make me even better cheer than before, and did entertain me with tales of the old happy time and many other subjects, all which did make me to find her company very pleasant and agree- able. For she was of a good intelligence and bright wit, and an excellent talker.

She did beseech me an hundred times over to take no other lodging or meal but* with her; but to this I would never consent, it not being my nature ever to be impor- tunate or "self-seeking. But I did use to go and visit her every day for the seven or eight days we did tarry there, and I was always most welcome, and her chamber ever open to me without any difficulty.

When at last I bade her adieu, she did give me letters of recommendation to her son, the Marquis de Pescai're, General at that time in the Spanish army. Besides which, she did make me promise that on my return I would come to see her, and take up my lodging in no other house but hers.

However so great was my ill luck that the galleys which did carry us did land us only at Terracina, from whence we hied to Rome, and I was unable to retrace my steps. Moreover I was fain at that time to join the wars in Hungary ; but being at Venice, we did learn the death of the great Sultan Soliman. 'Twas there I did curse my luck an hundred times over, for that I had not anyhow returned to Naples, where I should have passed my time to advantage. Indeed it may well be, that by favour of my lady the Marquise I should there have found some good fortune, whether by marriage or otherwise. For she did certainly do me the honour to like me well.

I suppose my evil destiny willed it not so, but was de- termined to take me back again to France to be for ever unfortunate there. In this hath dame Fortune never showed me a favourable countenance, except only so far as appearances go and a fair repute as a good and gal- lant man of worth and honour. Yet goods and rank have I never gotten like sundry of my comrades, and even some of our lower estate, men I have known which would have deemed themselves happy if I had but spoke to them in a courtyard, or King's or Queen's apartment, or in hall, though only aside and over the shoulder. Yet to- day I do see these same fellows advanced and grown ex- ceeding big with the rapidity of pumpkins, though in- deed I do make but light of them and hold them no greater than myself and would not defer to any of them by so much as the length of my nail.

Well, well! I may herein apply to myself the word which our Redeemer Jesus Christ did pronounce out of his own mouth, "a prophet hath no honour in his own country." Mayhap had I served foreign Princes as well as I have done mine own, and sought adventure among them as I have among those of our land, I should now be more laden with wealth and dignities than I actually am with years and vexations. Patience ! if 'tis my Fate hath spun it so, I do curse the jade; if 'tis my Princes be to blame, I do give them to all the devils, an if they be not there already!

This doth end my account of this most honourable lady. She is dead, with an excellent repute as having been a right fair noble dame and having left behind her a good and generous line, as the Marquis eldest son, Don Juan, Don Carlos, Don Caesar d'Avalos, all which myself have seen and have spoke of them elsewhere. The daugh- ters no less have followed in their brothers' steps. And herewith I do terminate the main thread of my principal Discourse.




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Concerning Old Dames as Fond to Practise Love as Ever the Young Ones Be" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

Personal tools