On the Question Which Doth Give the More Content in Love, Whether Touching, Seeing, or Speaking  

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

On the Question Which Doth Give the More Content in Love, Whether Touching, Seeing, or Speaking , Brantôme is the second discourse in Les Vies des Dames Galantes. It is concerned with touching, seeing, speaking and ugly women.

The discourse is famously quoted by Sigmund Freud with regards to the lapsus, citing a lady who said cons instead of ponts. See Brantome on the lapsus.


Full text

THIS is a question as concerning love that might well deserve a more profound and deeper writer to solve than I, to wit: which doth afford the more contentment in the fruition of love, whether contact or attouchment, speech, or sight. Mr. Pasquier, 1 a great authority of a surety in juris- prudence the which is his especial profession, as well as in the polite and humane sciences, doth give a disquisition thereon in his letters, the which he hath left us in writ- ing. Yet hath he been by far too brief, and seeing how distinguished a man he is, he should not in this matter have shown himself so niggard of his wise words as he hath been. For if only he had seen good to enlarge somewhat thereon, and frankly to declare what he might well have told us, his letter which he hath indited on this point had been an hundred times more delightsome and agreeable.

He doth base his main discourse on sundry ancient rhymes of the Comte Thibaut de Champagne, 2 the which verses I have never set eyes on, save only the small frag ment that M. Pasquier doth quote in his letter. This same good and gallant Knight of yore doth, I conceive, write exceeding well, not certainly in such good set terms as do our gallant poets of to-day, but still with excellent good sense and sound reason. Moreover he had a right beauteous and worthy subject, to wit the fair Queen Blanche of Castille, mother of Saint-Louis, of whom he was not little enamoured, but indeed most deeply, and had taken her for his mistress. But in this what blame or what reproach for the said Queen? Though she had been the most prudent and virtuous of women, yet could she in any wise hinder the world from loving her and burning at the fire of her beauty and high qualities, see- ing it is the nature of all merit and high perfection to provoke love? The whole secret is not to yield blindly to the will of the lover.

This is why we must not deem it strange, or blame this fair Queen, if that she was too fondly loved, and that dur- ing her reign and sovereignty there did prevail in France sore divisions and seditions and much civil strife. For, as I have heard said by a very great personage, seditions be oft stirred up as much for intrigues of love as by embroil- ments of State; and in the days of our fathers was current an old saw, which said that : All the world went mad after the merry-hearted Queen.

I know not for sure of which Queen this word was said ; but it may well be 'twas pronounced by this same Comte Thibaut, who very like, either because he was treated ill of her as concerning that he was fain of, or that his love was scorned altogether, or another preferred before him, did conceive in his heart such a disgust and discontent as did urge him to his ruin in the wars and troubles of the time.

So doth it often fall out when a fair and high-born Queen or Princess or great lady doth set her to govern a State, that every man doth love to serve her, and to honour and pay respect to her, as well for the good happiness of being agreeable to her and high in her favour, as to the end he may boast him of governing and ruling the State along with her, and drawing profit therefrom. I could allege many examples, but I had liever refrain.

Be this as it may, this Comte Thibaut did find induce- ment in the fair subject I have named to write excellent verses, and mayhap to pose the question which M. Pas- quier doth cite for us. To this latter I do refer the curious reader, and do say naught here of rhymes good or ill ; for 'twould be pure waste of words so to do. 'Twill be enough for me at this present to declare what I think thereanent, whether of mine own judgment or of that of other more experienced lovers than I.


NOW as to touch, it must be allowed that touching is very delightsome, for that the perfection of love is to enjoy the delight thereof, and the said enjoyment cannot be had without touching. For even as hunger and thirst can in no wise be assuaged or appeased except by eating and drinking, so too doth not love pass by dint either of seeing or hearing only, but by touching, kissing and the practice of Venus' rites. To this did that witty coxcomb Diogenes the Cynic allude facetiously, yet somewhat nastily, when he said he only wished he could relieve his hunger by rubbing his belly, even as / rot t ant la verge he did appease the paroxysm of desire. I would fain have put this in plainer words, but 'tis a thing must needs be passed over trippingly. He was something like that lover of Lamia, who having been too extravagantly fleeced by her to be able to enjoy her love any more, could not or would not consent to lose the pleasure of her. Wherefore he did devise this plan: he would think of her, and so thinking corrupt himself, and in this fashion enjoy her in imagination. But she hearing of this, did summon him before the Judge to render her satisfaction and payment for his enjoyment. Whereupon the Judge did order that he should but show her the money, whose sound and tinkle would be payment enough, and she would so enjoy the gold in imagination just as the other in dreams and fancy had had the gratification of his desire.

True, many other sorts of love may be alleged against what I say, the which the old philosophers do feign; but for these I do refer me to these same philosophers and the like subtle persons who will fain be discussing such points. In any case forasmuch as the fruit of mere earthly love is no other thing but enjoyment thereof, it must needs be deemed to be rightly attained only by dint of touching and kissing. So likewise have many held this pleasure to be but thin and poor, apart from seeing and speaking ; whereof we have a good example in the Cent Nouvelles of the Queen of Navarre. An honourable gentleman, having several separate times enjoyed the favours of a certain honourable lady, at night time and disguised with a small hand-mask, (for regular masks as now used were not yet employed), in a dark, ill-lighted gallery or passage, albeit he was right well assured by the sense of touch there was nothing here but what was good, tasty and exquisite, yet was not content, but was fain to know with whom he had to do. Wherefore one day as he was a-kissing her and did hold her in his arms, he did make a mark with chalk on the back of her gown, which was of black velvet; and then in the evening after supper, (for their assignations were at a certain fixed hour), as the ladies were coming into the ball-room, he did place himself behind the door. Thus noting them attentively as they passed in, he saw his own fair one enter with the chalk mark on her shoulder ; and lo ! it was such an one as he would never have dreamed of, for in mien and face and words she might have been taken for the very Wisdom of Solomon, and by that name the Queen was wont to describe her.

Who then was thunderstruck? Who but the gentleman, by reason of his great good fortune, thus loved of a woman which he had deemed least like so to yield of all the ladies of the Court ? True it is he was fain to go further, and not stop at this ; for he did much desire to discover all, and know wherefore she was so set on hiding herself from him, and would lief have herself thus served under cover and by stealth. But she, crafty and wily as she was, did deny and re-deny everything, to the renunciation of her share in Paradise and the damnation of her immortal soul, as is the way of women, when we will throw in their faces love secrets they had rather not have known, albeit we be certain of the fact, and they be otherwise most truthtelling.

She grew angry at his persistence ; and in this way did the gentleman lose his good fortune. For good it was of a surety, seeing the lady was a great lady and well worth winning. Moreover as she was for playing the sugared, chaste, demure prude, herein he might well have found double pleasure, part for the sensual enjoyment of so sweet, good and delicate a morsel, part that of gazing at her oft times in company, with her demure, coy mien, her cold and modest look and her conversation all chaste, strict and precise, thinking the while in his own mind of her wanton ways, her gay abandonment and naughtiness whenas they two were alone together.

Thus we see the said gentleman was much at fault to have asked her any questions. Rather should he have steadily pursued his pleasure and eaten his meat in quiet, just as tasty without candle at all as if illuminated by all the lights of a festal chamber. Still he had a right to know who she was ! and in a way his inquisitiveness was raiseworthy, seeing, as the Tale doth declare, he was afeared he had to do with some kind of demon (see succubus, E/N). For devils of the sort love to change shape and take the form of women for to have intercourse with men, and do so deceive them sore. However, as I have heard sundry skilled in magic arts declare, such do find it more easy to take on the shape and countenance of a woman than to imitate her speech.

And this is why the said gentleman was right in wishing to see and know with whom he had to do ; and by what he said himself, 'twas her refraining altogether from speech that did cause him more apprehension than what he saw, and did set him on thinking of the Devil. And herein he but showed a proper fear of God.

But surely, after having discovered all the truth, he should have said never a word. But, nay ! another will say to this, friendship and love be not perfect but when openly declared of heart and mouth ; and for this cause the gentle- man would fain have told her his passion. Anyhow he did gain naught thereby; but rather lost all. Moreover by any who had known the real honour of this gentleman, he will be excused, for he was in no wise so cold or so discreet as naturally to play this game and display such overcau- tion ; and by what I have heard my mother say, which was in the service of the Queen of Navarre, and did know sun- dry secrets concerning the Nouvelles, and was one of the devisers of this work, the hero of the Tale was my own uncle, the late M. de la Chastaigneraie, a man of a rough, ready and somewhat fickle disposition.

The Tale is so disguised however as to carefully hide who it was ; for in reality the said mine Uncle was never in the service of the great Princess, the mistress of the lady in question, though he was in that of the King, her brother. And so he did continue, for he was much loved both of the King and the Princess. As for the lady, I will by no means tell her name ; but she was a widow and lady in waiting to a very great Princess, and one that was better at showing the part of a prude than of a Court lady.

I have heard tell of another Court lady under our late Sovereigns, and one I do know by acquaintance, who being enamoured of a very honourable gentleman of the Court, was fain to imitate the way of love adopted by the afore- named lady. But every time she did return from her assignation and rendez-vous, she would betake her to her chamber and there have herself examined by one of her maids or chamberwomen on all sides, to make sure she was not marked ; by the which means she did guard her- self from being discovered and recognized. Nor was she ever marked until the ninth time of meeting, when the mark was at once discovered and noted by her women. Wherefore, for dread of being brought to shame and fall- ing into disgrace, she did break it all off, and never after returned to the tryst.

It had been better worth her while, it may be suggested, to have let her lover make these marks at his good pleasure, and then, directly they were made, have unmade and rubbed out the same. In this way she would have had double pleasure, first of the amorous delight enjoyed, and secondly that of making mock of her man, who was so keen to discover his philosopher's stone, to wit to find out and recognize her, yet could never succeed.

I have heard tell of another in the days of King Francis in connection with that handsome Squire, Gruffy by name, which was a squire of the Stable under the said King, and died at Naples in the suite of M. de Lantric on his journey thither. The dame in question was a very great lady of the Court and did fall deep in love with him; for indeed he was exceedingly handsome, and was commonly known by no other title than the handsome Gruffy. I have seen the man's portrait, which doth certainly show him to have been so.

She did secretly summon one day her valet of the chamber, in whom she had trust, but yet a man unknown to most by sight, into her closet. This man she did charge to go tell Gruffy, the messenger being handsomely dressed to seem to be one of her gentlemen, that a very honourable and fair lady did send him greeting, and that she was so smit with love for him she did greatly desire his acquaint- ance, more than that of any man at court. Yet must it be under this condition that for nothing in all the wide world must he see her or discover who she was. But at the hour of retiring, and when every member of the Court should be abed, he would come for him and meet him at a certain spot he would indicate, and from whence he would lead him to the chamber of his lady. However there was yet a further condition, to wit that he was to muffle his eyes in a fair white kerchief, like a trumpet led into an enemy's city at a truce, to the end he might not see nor recognize the place and chamber wither he was to lead him, and that he was to hold him by the hands all the time to hinder him from undoing the said kerchief. For such were the conditions his mistress had ordered him to offer, to the end she might not be known of him before a certain fixed and given time which he did name and ap- point to him. All which being so, he was to ponder it over and decide at leisure whether he would agree to the said conditions, and was to let the messenger know his answer the next day. For he said he would come for him then at a certain place he did name ; but above all he must be alone. And he said he would take him on so good an errand he would never regret having gone on the same.

Truly an agreeable assignation, but conjoined with strange conditions ! I like no less that of a Spanish lady, which did summon one to a meeting, but with the charge he should bring with him thither three S.S.S., which were to signify sabio, solo, segreto, "prudent, alone and secret." The other did assure her he would come, but that she should adorn and furnish herself with three F.F.F., that is she must not be fea, flaca nor fria, "ill-favoured, slack nor cold."

To return to Gruffy's story, the go-between now left him, having delivered his message. Who so embarrassed and full of thought as he? Indeed, he had much cause for thought, whether it were not a trick played him by some enemy at Court, to bring him into trouble, his death mayhap or at least the King's displeasure. He pon- dered too what lady it could be, tall, short or of middle stature, well or ill favoured, which last did most trouble him, though truly all cats be grey at night time, they say, and all spots alike in the dark. However, after confiding the matter to one of his intimate comrades, he did resolve to try the risk, deeming that to win the love of a great lady, which he did conclude her to be, he must suffer no fear or apprehension to stay him. Wherefore the next night, when the King, the Queen and her ladies, all the gentlemen and ladies of the Court, were retired to bed, he made no fail to be at the spot the messenger had appointed him. The latter in likewise soon came for him there with a companion to help him keep guard, if the other were followed neither by page, lackey nor gentle- man. The instant he saw him, he said this only, "Come, Sir ! the lady waits you." Then in a moment he bound his eyes, and did conduct him through dark, narrow places and unknown passages, in such wise that the other told him frankly he had no notion whither he was taking him. Thus did he introduce him to the lady's chamber, which was so dim and dark he could see or distinguish naught therein, no more than in an oven.

Well, there he did find the lady smelling right sweet and richly perfumed, the which made him hope for some dainty treat. Whereupon the valet did straightway make him disrobe, and himself aided him; and next led him by the hand, after taking off the kerchief from his face, to the lady's bed, who was awaiting him with right good will. Then did he lay himself down beside her, and began to caress her, in the which he found naught but what was good and delicious, as well her skin as her linen and magnificent bed, which he did explore with his hands. So with right merry cheer did he spend his night with the fair lady. I have heard her name, but will not repeat it. In a word he was well and thoroughly satisfied at all points ; and recognized how he was excellently well lodged for the night. The only thing that troubled him, he said, was that he could never draw one single word out of her. She took good heed of this, seeing he was used oft times to speak with her by day, as with other Court ladies, and so would have known her voice directly. Yet at the same time, of frolickings and fondlings, handlings and caresses, and every sort of love shows and wantonness, she was most lavish ; and he did find his entertainment much to his mind.

Next morning at break of day the messenger did not fail to come and wake him, make him get up, and dress him, then bind eyes as before, lead him back to the spot whence he had taken him, and commend him to God till his next return, which he promised should be soon. Nor did he omit to ask him if he had lied at all, and if he were not glad to have trusted him, and whether he thought he had showed himself a good quartermaster, and had found him good harbourage.

The handsome Gruffy, after thanking him an hundred times, bade him farewell, saying he would always be ready to come back again for such good entertainment, and would be very willing to return when he pleased. This did he, and the merry doings continued a whole month, at the end of which time it behoved Gruffy to depart on his Naples journey. So he took leave of his mistress and bade her adieu with much regret, yet without drawing one single word from her lips, but only sighs and the tears which he did note to flow from her eyes. The end was he did finally leave her without in the least recognizing her or discovering who she was.

Since then 'tis said this lady did practice the same way of life with two or three others in similar fashion, in this manner taking her enjoyment. And some declared she was fain to adopt this crafty device, because that she was very niggardly, and in this wise did spare her substance, and was not liable to make gifts to her lovers. For in truth is every great lady bound by her honour to give, be it much or little, whether money or rings or jewels or it may be richly wrought favours. In this way the gallant dame was able to afford her person disport, yet spare her purse, merely by never revealing who she was ; and by this means could incur no reproof in relation to either of her purses, whether the natural or the artificial, as she did never let her identity be known. A sorry humour truly for a high-born dame to indulge!

Some will doubtless find her method good, while others will blame her, and others again deem her a very astute person. Certain folk will esteem her an excellent manager and a wise, but for myself I do refer me to others better qualified to form a good judgement thereon than I. At any rate she can in no wise incur such severe censure as that notorious Queen which did dwell in the Hotel de Nesle at Paris. 1 This wicked woman did keep watch on the passers-by, and such as liked her for their looks and pleased her best, whatsoever sort of folk they were, she would have summoned to her side. Then after having gotten of them what she would, she did have them cast down from the Tower, the which is yet standing, into the water beneath, and so drowned them. 2

I cannot say for sure if this be a true tale. At any rate the common folk, at least the most of them at Paris, do declare it is. And so familiar is the tale, that if one but point to the Tower, and ask about it, they will of their own accord recount the story.

Well, let us quit these unholy loves, which be nothing better than sheer monstrosities. The better part of our ladies of to-day do abhor such, as they are surely right to do, preferring to have free and frank intercourse with their lovers and not to deal with them as though they were of stone or marble. Rather, having well and carefully chosen them, they know well how to be bravely and gener- ously served and loved of them. Then when they have thoroughly tried their fidelity and loyalty, they do give themselves up to an ardent love with them, and take their pleasure with the same not masked, nor silent, nor dumb, nor yet in the darkness of night and mystery. Nay ! but in the free and open light of day they do suffer them to see, touch, taste and kiss their fair bodies, entertaining them the while with fine, lecherous discourse, merry, naughty words and wanton conversation. Yet sometimes will they have recourse to masks ; for there be ladies which are at times constrained to wear them when a-doing of it, whether it be on account of sun-burn they do so, for fear of spoiling their complexion, or for other causes. Or they may use them to the end that, if they do get too hot in the work, and are suddenly surprised, their red cheeks may escape note, and the disorder of their countenances. I have known such cases. But the mask doth hide all, and so they befool the world.


HAVE heard many fair ladies and cavaliers which have practised love declare how that, but for sight and speech, they had rather be like brute beasts, that following a mere natu- ral appetite of the senses, have no thought of love or affection, but only to satisfy their sensual rage and animal heat.

Likewise have I heard many lords and gallants which have lain with high-born ladies say, that they have ever found these an hundred times more lascivious and out- spoken in words than common women and the like. Herein do they show much art, seeing it is impossible for a man, be he as vigorous as he may, to be alway hard at the collar and in full work. So when the lover cometh to lie still and relax his efforts, he doth find it so pleasant and so appetizing whenas his lady doth entertain him with naughty tales and words of wit and wantonness, that Venus, no matter how soundly put to sleep for the time being, is of a sudden waked up again. Nay ! more, many ladies, conversing with their lovers in company, whether in the apartments of Queens and Princesses or elsewhere, will strangely lure them on, for that they will be saying such lascivious and enticing words to them that both men and women will be just as wanton as in a bed together.

Yet all the while we that be onlookers will deem their conversation to be of quite other matters.

This again is the reason why Mark Antony did so love Cleopatra and preferred her before his own wife Octavia, who was an hundred times more beautiful and lovable than the Egyptian Queen. But this Cleopatra was mistress of such happy phrases and such witty con- versation, with such wanton ways and seductive graces, that Antony did forget all else for love of her.

Plutarch doth assure us, speaking of sundry quips and tricks of tongue she was used to make such pretty play withal, that Mark Antony, when he would fain imitate her, was in his bearing (albeit he was only too anxious to play the gallant lover) like naught so much as a com- mon soldier or rough man-at-arms, as compared with her and her brilliant ways of talk.

Pliny doth relate a story of her which I think excellent, and so I will repeat the same here in brief. One day, being in one of her wildest moods, she was attired most enticingly and to great advantage, and especially did wear on her head a garland of divers blossoms most suitable to provoke wanton imaginings. Well, as they sat at table, and Mark Antony was fain to drink, she did amuse him with pleasant discourse, and meanwhile all the time she spake, she kept plucking out one by one fair flowers from her garland (but they were really strewed over every one with poisonous essences), and tossing the same from time to time into the cup Antony held ready to drink from. Presently when she had ended her discourse and Mark Antony was on the point of lifting the goblet to his lips to drink, Cleopatra doth stay him suddenly with her hand, and having stationed some slave or con- demned criminal ready to hand, she did call this fellow to her and made them give him the draught Mark Antony was about to swallow. On drinking this he fell down dead ; and she turning to Antony, said, "And if I did not love you as I do, I should e'en now have been rid of you; yea! and would gladly have had it so, only that I see plainly I cannot live without you." These words and this device were well fitted to confirm Mark Antony in his passion, and to make him even more submissive before his charmer's feet.

In such ways did her cleverness of tongue serve Cleo- patra, whom all the Historians do describe as having been exceedingly ready of speech. Mark Antony was used never to call her anything but "the Queen," by way of greater distinction. So he did write to Octavius Caesar, previous to the time when they were declared open enemies : "What hath changed you," he writes, "concerning my lov- ing the Queen? She is my wife. Is it but now I have begun the connection? You fondle Drusilla, Tortale, Leontiphe and a dozen others; what reck you on whom you do bestow your favour, when the caprice seizeth you?"

In this letter Mark Antony was for extolling his own constancy, and reproaching the other's changeableness, for loving so many women at once, while himself did love only the Queen. And I only wonder Octavius did not love her too after Antony's death. It may well be he had his pleasure when he had her come alone to his chamber, and he there beheld her beauty and heard her address him ; or mayhap he found her not so fair as he had thought, or scorned her for some other reason, and did wish to make his triumph of her at Rome and show her in his public procession. But this indignity she did forestall by her self-inflicted death.

There can be no doubt, to return to our first point, that when a woman is fain after love, or is once well engaged therein, no orator in all the world can talk better than she. Consider how Sophonisba hath been described to us by Livy, Appian and other writers, and how eloquent she did show herself in Massinissa's case, when she did come to him for to win over and claim his love, and later again when it behooved to swallowed the fatal poison. In short, every woman, to be well loved, is bound to possess good powers of speech; and in very deed there be few known which cannot speak well and have not words enough to move heaven and earth, yea! though this were fast frozen in mid winter.

Above all must they have this gift which devote them- selves to love. If they can say naught, why ! they be so savourless, the morsel they give us hath neither taste nor flavour. Now when M. du Bellay, speaking of his mistress and declaring her ways, in the words,

De la vertu je S9avois deviser,

Et je S9avois tellement eguiser,

Que rien qu'honneur ne sortait de ma bouche ;

Sage au parler et folastre a la couche.

(Of virtue I knew how to discourse, and hold such fair lan- guage, naught but honour did issue from my mouth ; modest in speech, and wanton a-bed.)

doth describe her as "modest in speech, and wanton a-bed," 1 this means of course in speaking before company and in general converse. Yet when that she is alone and in private with her lover, every gallant dame is ready enough to be free of her speech and to say what she chooseth, the better to provoke his passion.

I have heard tales told by sundry that have enjoyed fair and high-born ladies, or that have been curious to listen to such talking with others a-bed, how that these were every whit as free and bold in their discourse as any courtesans they had ever known. And this is a noteworthy fact that, accustomed as they were so to entertain their husbands or lovers with lecherous and wanton words, phrases and discourse, and even freely to name the most secret parts of their bodies, and this without any dis- guisement, yet when the same ladies be set to polite con- verse, they do never go astray and not one of all these naughty words doth ever issue from their lips. Well, we can only say they are right well skilled in self-command and the art of dissimulation; for no other thing is there which is so frisky and tricksome as a lady's tongue or an harlot's.

So I once knew a very fair and honourable lady of the great world, who one day discoursing with an honourable gentleman of the Court concerning military events in the civil wars of the time, did say to him: "I have heard say the King hath had every spot in all that countryside broke down." Now when she did say "every spot, what she meant to say was every bridge" (pont) ; but, being just come from her husband, or mayhap thinking of her lover, she still had the other word fresh in her mouth. And this same slip of the tongue did mightily stir up the gentleman for her. Another lady I knew, talking with a certain great lady and one better born than herself, and praising and extolling her beauty, did presently say thus to her, "Nay ! Madam, what I tell you, is not to f utter you," meaning to say, flatter you, and did afterward correct herself. The fact is her mind was full of futtering and such like.

In short, lively speech hath a very great efficacy in the game of love; and where it is lacking, the pleasure is incomplete. So in very truth a fair body, if it have not a fair mind to match, is more like a mere image of itself or idol than a true human body. However fair it may be, it must needs be seconded by a fair mind likewise, if it is to be really loved; and if this be not so by nature, it must be so fashioned by art.

The courtesans of Rome do make great mock of the gentlewomen of the same city, which are not trained in witty speech like themselves, and do say of them that chia- vano come cani, ma che sono quiete della bocca come sassi, that is, "they yield them like bitches, but are dumb of mouth like sticks and stones."

And this is why I have known many honourable gentle- men which have declined the acquaintance of ladies, and very fair ladies I tell you, because that they were simple- tons, without soul, wit or conversation, and have quitted them for good and all, saying they would as soon have to do with a beautiful statue of fair white marble, like that Athenian youth which did love a statue, and went so far as to take his pleasure thereof. And for the same reason strangers that do travel in foreign lands do seldom care to love foreign women, nor are at all apt to take a fancy to them. For they understand not what they say, and their words in no wise touch their hearts. I speak of course of such as know not their language. And if they do go with them, 'tis but to satisfy nature, and quench the mere brute flame of lust, and then andar in barca ("away to the ship"), as said an Italian who had come ashore one day at Marseilles on his way to Spain, and enquired a place where women were to be found. He was directed to a spot where a wedding feast was being held. So when a lady came up to accost him and engage him in conversa- tion, he said to her only, V. S. mi perdona, non voglio par- lare, voglio solamente chiavare, e poi me n'andar in barca, "Pardon me, Madam ; I want not to talk, but only to do, and then away again to the ship."

A Frenchman doth find no great pleasure with a Ger- man, Swiss, Flemish, English, Scotch, Slavonian, or other foreign woman, albeit she should chatter with the best, if he understand her not. But he taketh great delight with his French mistress, or with an Italian or Spanish woman, for generally speaking the most part of Frenchmen of our day, at any rate such as have seen the world a little, can speak or understand these languages. And God wot, it matters not if he be skilled and meet for love, for whoso- ever shall have to do with a Frenchwoman, an Italian, Spanish or Greek, and she be quick of tongue, he must needs frankly own he is fairly catched and conquered.

In former times this our French tongue was not so excellent and rich a language as nowadays it is ; whereas for many a long year the Italian, Spanish and Greek have been so. And I will freely own I have scarce ever seen a lady of these nations, if she have but practised a little the profession of love, but hath a very good gift of speech. I do refer me to them that have dealt with such women. Certain it is, a fair lady, if endowed with fair and witty words, doth afford double contentment.


I speak next of the power of sight. Without a doubt, seeing the eyes be the first part to join combat in love, it must be allowed that these do give a very great contentment, whenas they are the means to our beholding something fair and rare in beauty. And by my faith! what thing is there in all the world a man may see fairer than a fair woman, whether clothed and handsomely tricked out, or naked? If clothed, then 'tis only the face you see naked; but even so, when a fair body, of a beauteous shape, with fine carriage and graceful port, stately look and proud mien, is presented to our view in all its charms, what fairer and more delightsome display can there be in all the world? Then again, when you come to enjoy a fair lady, thus fully dressed and magnificently attired, the desire and enjoyment of her are doubled, albeit a man doth see only the face, while all the other parts of the body are hid. For indeed 'tis a hard matter to enjoy a great lady according to all the conveniences one might desire, unless it were in a chamber apart at full leisure and in a secret place, to do what one best liketh. So spied upon is such an one of all observers!

And this is why a certain great lady I have heard speak of, if ever she did meet her lover conveniently, and out of sight of other folk and fear of surprise, would always seize the occasion at once, to content her wishes as promptly and shortly as ever she could. And indeed she did say to him one day, "They were fools, those good ladies of former days, which being fain of over refinement in their love pleasure, would shut themselves up in their closets or other privy places, and there would so draw out their sports and pastimes that presently they would be discovered and their shame made public. Nowadays must we seize opportunity whenever it cometh, with the briefest delay possible, like a city no sooner assailed than invested and straightway captured. And in this wise we do best avoid the chance of scandal."

And I ween the lady was quite right; for such men as have practised love, have ever held this a sound maxim that there is naught to be compared with a woman in her clothes. Again when you reflect how a man doth brave, rumple, squeeze and make light of his lady's finery, and how he doth work ruin and loss to the grand cloth of gold and web of silver, to tinsel and silken stuffs, pearls and precious stones, 'tis plain how his ardour and satisfaction be increased manifold, far more than with some simple shepherdess or other woman of like quality, be she as fair as she may.

And why of yore was Venus found so fair and so desirable, if not that with all her beauty she was alway gracefully attired likewise, and generally scented, that she did ever smell sweet an hundred paces away? For it hath ever been held of all how that perfumes be a great incitement to love.

This is the reason why the Empresses and great dames of Rome did make much usage of these perfumes, as do likewise our great ladies of France, and above all those of Spain and Italy, which from the oldest times have been more curious and more exquisite in luxury than French- women, as well in perfumes as in costumes and magnificent attire, whereof the fair ones of France have since bor- rowed the patterns and copied the dainty workmanship. Moreover the others, Italian and Spanish, had learned the same from old models and ancient statues of Roman ladies, the which are to be seen among sundry other antiquities yet extant in Spain and Italy ; the which, if any man will regard them carefully, will be found very perfect in mode of hair-dressing and fashion of robes, and very meet to incite love. On the contrary, at this present day our ladies of France do surpass all others. 'Tis to the Queen of Navarre * they do owe thanks for this great improve- ment.

Wherefore is it good and desirable to have to do with suchlike fair ladies so well appointed, so richly tricked out and in such stately wise. So have I heard many courtiers, my comrades, declare, as we did discourse together on these matters,

De sorte que j'ai out dire a aucuns courtisans, mes com- pagnons, ainsi que nous decisions ensemble, qu'ils les aimai- ent mieux ainsi, que desacoutrees et couchees neus entre deux linceuls, et dans un lit le plus enrichi de broderie que Von sut faire.

D'autres disaient qu'il n't/ avait que le naturel, sans aucun fard ni artifice, comme un grand prince que je sais, lequel pourtant faisait coucher ses courtisanes ou dames dans des draps de taffetas noir bien tendus, toutes nues, afin que leur blancheur et delicatesse de chair parut bien mieux parmi ce noir et donndt plus d'ebat. 2

There can be no real doubt the fairest sight of any in the whole world would be that of a beautiful woman, all complete and perfect in her loveliness ; but such an one is ill to find. Thus do we find it recorded of Zeuxis, the famous painter, how that being asked by sundry honourable ladies and damsels of his acquaintance to make them a portrait of the fair Helen of Troy and depict her to them as beautiful as folk say she was, he was loath to refuse their prayer. But, before painting the portrait, he did gaze at them all and each steadfastly, and choosing from one or the other whatever he did find in each severally most beautiful, he did make out the portrait of these fragments brought together and combined, and by this means did portray Helen so beautiful no exception could be taken to any feature. This portrait did stir the admiration of all, but above all of them which had by their several beauties and separate features helped to create the same no less thans Zeuxis himself had with his brush. Now this was as good as saying that in one Helen 'twas impossible to find all perfections of beauty combined, albeit she may have been most exceeding fair above all women.

Be this as it may, the Spaniard saith that to make a woman all perfect, complete and absolute in loveliness, she must needs have thirty several beauties, the which a Spanish lady did once enumerate to me at Toledo, a city where be very fair and charming women, and well instructed to boot. The thirty then are as followeth :

(Translated, for the reader's better comprehension:)
Three things white: skin, teeth and hands.
Three black: eyes, brows and lids.
Three red: lips, cheeks and nails.
Three long: body, hair and hands.
Three short: teeth, ears and feet.
Three wide: chest or bosom, forehead and space be-

twixt the eyes.

Three narrow: mouth (upper and lower), girth or

waist, and ankle.

Three big and thick: arm, thigh and calf.
Three long and fine: fingers, hair and lips.
Three small and delicate: breasts, nose and head.
Making thirty in all.

'Tis not inconceivable nor impossible but that all these beauties should be united all together in one and the same fair lady ; but in that case she must needs be framed in the mould of absolute perfection. For indeed to see them all so combined, without there being a single one to carp at and find at fault is scarce possible. I do refer me to such as have seen beautiful women, or will see such anon, and who would fain be heedful in noting the same and apprais- ing them, what they shall say of them. But though they be not complete and perfectly beautiful in all these points, yet will a beautiful woman alway be beautiful, an if she have but the half, and those the chief ones, of the parts and features I have named. For truly I have seen many which had more than the half, and were exceeding fair and very lovable. Just as a wood seemeth ever beautiful in Spring-tide, even though it be not filled with all the little pretty shrubs one might wish for. Yet are there plenty of fine, tall, spreading trees, which by their abundance may very well hide the lack of other smaller vegetation.

M. de Ronsard must pardon me, if he will. Never did his mistress, whom he hath represented as so very beauti- ful, really attain such perfection, nor any other lady he ever saw in his day or did describe. He calleth her his fair Cassandra, and sure I am she was fair, but he hath disguised her under a fictitious name. And the same is equally true of his Marie, who never bore other name but that, as it is of the first mentioned. Still it is allowed to poets and painters to say and do what pleaseth them, for instance you will find in the Orlando Furioso won- drous fair beauties portrayed by Ariosto, those of Alcina and of many another fair one.

All this is well enough; but as I have heard a great personage of my acquaintance say, never could plain nature make so fair and perfect a woman as the keen and subtile imagination of some eloquent poet might featly describe, or the pencil and brush of some inspired painter represent. No matter ! a man's eyes are ever satis- fied to see a beautiful woman of fair, clear-complexioned and well-featured face. Yea! and though it be somewhat brown of hue, 'tis all one; the brunette is as good as the blonde many a time, as the Spanish girl hath it, Aunqite to sia morisca, no soy de menos preciar, "Brown though I be, I am not to be scorned for that." So the fair Marfisa era brunetta alquanto "was something brown of face." Still must not the brown overset the white too much! Again, a beautiful countenance must be borne by a body fashioned and built to correspond. This doth hold good of little as well as big, but tall stature will ever take first place.

Well, as to seeking out suchlike exquisite points of beauty as I have just spoke of, and as poets have of old depicted, this we may very well dispense with, and find pleasure enough in our common and everyday beauties. Not that I would say common in any ill sense, for verily we have some so rare that, by my faith! they be better far than all those which your fantastic poets, and whimsical painters, and lyrical extollers of female charms could ever delineate.

Alas ! the worst of it is this. Whenas we do see suchlike fair beauties and gracious countenances, we do admire and long for the fair bodies to match, for the love of the pretty faces. But lo ! in some cases, when these come to be re- vealed and brought to light, we do lose all appetite therefor. They be so ugly, spoiled, blotched, disfigured and hideous, they do give the lie direct to the face. This is one of the ways we men are oft sore taken in.

Hereof we have a good example in a certain gentleman of the Island of Majorca, by name Raymond Lulle, 4 of a very good, wealthy and ancient family. This nobleman by reason of his high birth, his valour and merit, was appointed in the prime of his years to the governorship of the said island. While in this office, as will oft happen to Governors of provinces and cities, he did grow enam- oured of a beautiful lady of the island, one of the most accomplished, beautiful and ready-witted women of those parts. Long and eagerly did he court her ; and at length, seeing he was ever demanding the reward of his exertions, the lady after refusing as long as ever she could, did one day give him an assignation. This he did not fail to keep, nor did she ; but presently appeared thereat, more beauti- ful than ever and more richly apparelled. Then just as he thought the gates of Paradise were opening for him, lo! she stepped forward and did show him her breast and bosom all covered over with a dozen plasters, and tearing these off one after other and angrily tossing them to the ground, did exhibit a horrid cancer to him. So with tears in her eyes, she did rehearse all her wretch- edness and her affection to him, and asked him, was there then such mighty cause why he should be so much enam- oured of her, making him so sad and dismal a discourse, that he did presently leave her, all overcome with ruth for the grief of this fair lady. Then later, after making supplication to God for her restoration to health, he did give up his office, and turned hermit.

Afterward, on returning from the Holy Wars, to the which he had vowed himself, he went to study at Paris under Arnaldus de Villanova, a learned philosopher ; then after finishing his course there, he did withdraw into England, where the King of that day did welcome him with all the good will in the world for the sake of his deep learning, and seeing he did transmute sundry ingots and bars of iron, copper and tin, scorning the common, trivial fashion of transmuting lead and iron into gold. For he knew how more than one of his contemporaries could do this much as well as he, whereas he had skill to do both this and the other as well. But he was fain to perform a, feat above the capacity of the rest of alchemists.

I have this tale from a gallant gentleman, which told me himself had it of the jurisconsult Oldrade. This author doth speak of Raymond Lulle in the Commentary he made on the Code De Falsa Moneta ("On False Coining"). Likewise he had it, so he said, on the authority of Carolus Bovillus, 6 a native of Picardy, who hath writ in Latin a life of this same Raymond Lulle.

This is how he did rid himself of his craving for the love of this fair lady. Other men, 'tis very like, had done dif- ferently, and would not have ceased to love, but shutting their eyes would e'en have taken what they did desire of her. This he might well enough have done, had he been so minded, seeing the part he did aim at was in no wise touched by any such disease.

I knew once a gentleman and a widow lady of the great world, which were not so scrupulous. For though the lady was afflicted with a great and foul cancer of the breast, yet he did not hesitate to wed her, nor she to take him, contrary to her mother's advice.

I knew likewise a very honourable gentleman, and a great friend of mine, who told me that one time being at Rome, he did chance to love a certain Spanish lady, one of the fairest was ever seen in that city. Now when he did go with her, she would never suffer him to see her, nor ever to touch her, but only with her clothes on. For, if ever he was for touching her, she would cry out in Spanish, Ah! no me tocays, hareis me quosquillas, that is to say, "Nay ! do not touch me ; you tickle me." But one morning, passing by her house and finding the door open, he goes boldly in. So having entered, without meeting either domestic, page or any living soul, he did penetrate to her bedchamber, and there found her so fast asleep he had leisure to behold and examine her at his ease, for that it was very hot weather. And he declared he did never see aught so fair as was her body, excepting only that he did discover how that, while the one thigh was fair, white, smooth and well-shapen, the other was all dried up, withered and shrunken, so that it looked no bigger than a young child's arm. Who so astonished as my friend? Who yet did not much compassionate her, and never after returned to visit her, nor had any sub- sequent dealings with her.

Many ladies there be which are not indeed thus shrunken by disease, yet are so thin, scraggy, withered and fleshless they can show naught but the mere skeleton oi a woman. Thus did I know one, a very great lady, of whom the Bishop of Sisteron, 6 one of the witties men at Court, did by way of jest and gibe declare that it were better to sleep with a rat-trap of brass-wire than with her. In a like strain did another gentleman of the Court, when we were rallying him on having dealings with a certain great lady, reply, "Nay! but you are all wrong, for indeed I do love good flesh too well, and she hath naught but bones." Yet to look at these two ladies, so fair and beauteous of face, you would have supposed them both most fleshy and right dainty morsels.

A very high-born Prince of the great world did chance once to be in love with two very fair ladies at one and the same time, as doth often happen to the great, which do love change and variety. The one was exceeding fair, the other a brunette, but both the twain right handsome and most lovable women. So one day as he came away from visiting the dark one, her fair rival being jealous did say to him : "Ah, ha ! so you've been flying for crow !" Whereto the Prince did make answer, something angered and ruffled at the word: "And when I am with you, my lady, what am I flying for then?" The lady straight made answer : "Why ! for a phanix, to be sure !" But the Prince, who had as ready a tongue as most, did retort: "Nay! say rather for a bird of Paradise, the which hath ever more feathers than flesh"; casting up at her by this word how that she was rather thin and meagre. The fact is she was too young a thing to be very fat, stoutness commonly coming only upon such women as are getting on in years, at the time when they do begin to lay on flesh and get bigger in limbs and all bodily parts. A certain gentleman did make a good reply to a great Lord I wot of. Both had handsome wives. The great Lord in question found the gentleman much to his taste, and most enticing. So one day he said to him, "Sir! I must e'en sleep with your wife." To this the gentleman, without a thought, for he was very ready of tongue, did answer, "I am willing enough, but on condition I sleep with yours." The Lord replied, "Why! what would you be at? I tell you, mine is so thin, you would not find her to your taste at all." To this the gentleman did retort, "Yea ! by my faith ! je la larderai si menu que je la rendrai de bon gout."

Many women there be whose pretty, chubby faces make men fain to enjoy them yet when they do come to it, they find them so fleshless the pleasure and temptation be right soon done away. Among other defects, we do often find the gridiron form, as it called, the bones so prominent and fleshless they do press and chafe a man as sorely as though he had a mule's packsaddle on him. To remedy this, there be some dames are used to employ little cushions or pads, very soft and very delicately made, to bear the brunt and avoid chafing. I have heard speak of many which have used these in such wise that lovers not in the secret, when they do come to them, find naught but what is good to touch, and are quite persuaded 'tis their mistress's natural plumpness. For above the satin, they will wear thin, loose, white muslin. In this way the lover would leave the lady well pleased and satisfied, and him- self deem her a right good mistress.

Other women again there be which have the skin all veined and marked like marble, or like mosaic work, dap- pled like a fawn's coat, itchy and subject to sores and farcies ; in a word so foul and disfigured the sight thereof is very far from pleasant.

I have heard speak of a certain great lady, and I have known her myself and do know her still, who is all shaggy and hairy over the chest, stomach, shoulders and all down the spine, like a savage. I leave you to imagine the effect. The proverb hath it, no person thus hairy is ever rich or wanton; but verily in this case the lady is both the one and the other, I can assure you, and is well able to win admirers, to please their eye and gain their love.

Others' skin is like goose flesh or like a feathered star- ling, all rugged and cross-grained, and black as the devil. Others are blessed with great dangling bosoms, hanging down worse than a cow's giving its calf milk. Very sure am I these be not the fair breasts of Helen, who one day desiring to present to the Temple of Diana an elegant cup in fulfilment of a vow, and employing a goldsmith to make it for her, did cause him to model the same on one of her lovely breasts. He did make the goblet of white gold and in such wise that folk knew not which to admire the most, the cup itself or its resemblance to the beautiful bosom which he had taken for his pattern. It looked so round and sweet and plump, the copy only made men the more to desire the real thing. Pliny doth make especial mention thereof, in the place where he treateth of the ex- istence of white gold. 'Tis very strange, but of white gold was this goblet made.

But who, I should like to know, would care to model golden cups on the great ugly breasts I speak of and have seen. We should be bound to give the goldsmith a big supply of gold, and then all our expense would but end in laughter and mockery, when we should cry, "Look ! see our cup wrought on the model of so and so's breasts." Indeed they would not so much be like drinking cups at all as those great wooden puncheons, round and big-bel- lied, we see used for feeding swine withal.

Others there be the nipples of whose breasts are for all the world like a rotten pear. Others again whose bodies are all rough and wrinkled, that you would take them for old leathern game-bags, such as troopers and innkeepers carry. This cometh to women which have borne children, but who have not been properly seen to by the midwives. On the contrary there be others which have the same sweet and smooth and polished, and their bosom as plump and pretty as if they were still maids.

Other women there be have their parts so pale and wan you would say they had the fever. Such do resemble some drunkards, which though they do drink more wine than a sucking pig, are yet always as pale as the dead. Wherefore do men call them traitors to their wine, as in contrast with such tipplers as are rosy-faced. In like fashion women that are pale in this region might very well be spoke of as traitors to Venus, were it not for the proverb which saith, "a pale whore and a red-faced scamp." Be this as it may, there is no doubt their being pale and wan is not agreeable to see ; and is very far from resembling that of one of the fairest ladies of our time, and one that doth hold high rank (and myself have seen her), who they used to say did commonly sport three fine colours all together, to wit scarlet, white and black. For her mouth was brilliant and as red as coral, her hair pretty and curly and as black as ebony. So should it ever be, for indeed this is one of the chiefest beauties of a woman. Then the skin was white as alabaster, and was finely shadowed by this dark hair. A fair sight in truth !

I have heard Madame de Fontaine-Chalandray, known as the fair Torcy, relate how that her Mistress, Queen Eleanor, being robed and dressed, did appear a very beauteous Princess, and indeed there be many which have seen her looking so at our King's Court, and of a good noble figure. But being stripped, she did seem a very giantess in body, so long was it and big; whereas going lower down, she seemed but a dwarf, so short and small were her thighs and legs and all those parts.

Another great lady I have heard speak of was just the opposite. For whereas in body she looked a dwarf, so short and diminutive was it, for the rest down below she was a perfect giantess or colossus, so big, long and high- forked were her thighs and legs, though at the same time well-proportioned and fleshy.

There be many husbands and lovers among us Christians which do desire to be in all respects different from the Turks, which last take no pleasure in looking at women closely, because they say, as I have stated above, they have no shape. We Christians on the other hand do find, 'tis said, great contentment in regarding them carefully and do delight in such. Nay ! not only do men enjoy seeing them, but likewise in kissing, and many ladies have shown their lovers the way. Thus a Spanish lady did reply to her lover on his quitting her one day with the words,

Bezo las manos y los pies, Senora;
Senor, en el medio esta la mejore stacion. (a reference to cunnilingus, a/n)

Other women have their thighs so ill proportioned, so unattractive looking and so badly made that they deserve not to be regarded or desired at all ; and the same is true of their legs, which in some be so stout and heavy you would say the thick part thereof was a rabbit's belly when it is with young. In others again they be so thin and tiny and so like a stork's shanks, you might well deem them flute pipes rather than a woman's thighs and legs. What the rest is like, I will e'en leave you to imagine !

If I were to detail all the other beauties and deformities women are subject to, truly I should never have done. Now all I do say hereanent, or might say, is never of low-born or common women, but always of high-born, or at least well-born, ladies, which by their fairness of face do set the world on fire, but what of their person is hid doth but ill correspond.


IT is no long while agone since in a certain district of Guyenne a married dame, of very good station and descent, had a strange adventure. As she was overlooking her children's studies, lo ! their tutor, by some madness or frenzy of the brain, or maybe from a fierce access of love that did suddenly master him, did take a sword belonging to her husband and which lay on the bed, and did assail her so furiously as that he did transpierce her two thighs and her two labia from the one part to the other. Whereof she did after all but die, and would have right out but for the help of an excellent surgeon. She might well say of her poor body how that it had been in two divers wars and assailed in two different ways. The sight thereof afterward was, I imagine, scarce agreeable, seeing it was so scarred and its wings so torn. I say wings, for while the Greeks do call these labia hymenaea, the Latins name the same alae (wings), the moderns labia, or lips, and sundry other names. For truly there is no beast or bird, be it falcon, raw and untrained, like that of our young girls, or hawk, whether haggard or well practised, as of our married women and widows, that doth go more nimbly or hath the wing so active.

Other women, for dread of colds and catarrhs, do smother themselves in bed with cape and mufflers about the head, till upon my word they do look more like old witches than young women. Yet once out of bed, they are as smart as dolls. Others again be all rouged and painted up like images, fine enough by day; but a-nights the paint is off, and they are as ugly as sin.

It were well to examine suchlike dames before loving, marrying and enjoying the same, as Octavius Caesar was used to do. For along with his friends he did have sundry great ladies and Roman matrons stripped naked, and even vigins of marriageable age, and did examine them from head to foot, as if they had been slave-women and purchased serfs. The said examination was carried out by a certain horse-jockey or dealer by name Toranus, and according as this man did approve and find them to his liking, and unspoiled, would the Emperor take his pleasure with them.

This is precisely what the Turks do in their slave-market at Constantinople and other great towns, when they buy slaves, whether male or female.

Well ! I will say no more of all this ; indeed methinks I have already said over much. So this is how we be sore deceived in many sights we at the first imagine and believe very admirable. But if we be thus deceived in some good ladies, no less are we edified and well satisfied in other some, the which are so fair and sweet and clean, so fresh and plump, so lovable and desirable, in one word so per- fect in all their bodily parts, that after them all sights in this world are but mean and empty. Whence it cometh there be men, which at such a sight do so lose their wits they must at once to work. Moreover 'tis often the case that such fair dames do find pleasure in showing their persons and do make no difficulty so to do, knowing them- selves as they do without spot or blemish, to the end they may the better rouse temptation and concupiscence in our manly bosoms.

One day when we were together at the siege of La Ro- chelle, the late unfortunate Due de Guise, 1 which did me the honour to hold me in affection, did come and show me some tables he had just filched from Monsieur the King's brother, 2 our General in that enterprise, from out the pocket of his breeches, and said thus: "Monsieur hath done me a displeasure and mocked me concerning my love for a certain lady. Well I would fain now take my revenge; look at these tables of his, and read what I have writ therein." With this he did hand me the tables, and I saw writ therein in his hand these four verses fol- lowing, which he had just made up, only that the word was set down outright in the first line:

Si vous ne m'avez congeue, II n'a pas term a moy; Car vous m'avez bien vue nue, Et vous ay monstre de quoy.

(If you have not known me, this is no fault of mine. For indeed you have seen me naked, and I have shown you all you need.)

After, he did tell me the lady's name, an unmarried girl to say truth, which I did already suspect. I said I was greatly surprised the Prince had never touched or known her, seeing his opportunities had been very ample, and he was credited by common report with being her lover. But he did answer, 'twas not so, and that it was solely by his own fault. To which I replied, "Then it must needs, my Lord, have been, either that at the time he was so weary and so sated in other quarters he was unable to bear the brunt, or else that he was so entranced with the contemplation of her naked charms that he did give never a thought to the active part." "Well ! it may be," the Prince answered, "he was good to do it; but anyhow this time he failed to take his opportunity. So I am having my fun of him, and I am going to put his tables back in his pocket, which he will presently examine, as is his wont, and must needs read what I have writ. And so I have my revenge." This he did, and never after did they twain meet without having a good laugh over it, and a merry passage of arms. For at that period was great friendship and intimacy betwixt these two, though after so strangely altered.

A lady of the great world, or to speak strictly a young maid, was held in much love and close intimacy by a cer- tain great Princess. The latter was one time in her bed, resting, as was her wont, when a gentleman did come to see the damsel, one which was deep in love with her, albeit he had naught at all but his love to aid his suit. Then the fair lady, being so well loved and on such intimate terms with her Mistress the Princess, did come to her as she lay, and nimbly, without any warning whatsoever, did suddenly drag away all the coverings from off her, in such wise that the gentleman, by no means slow to use his eyes, did instantly cast them on her, and beheld, as he did tell me the tale afterward, the fairest sight ever he saw or is like to see, her beautiful body, and all her lovely, white, exquisite person, that did make him think he was gazing on the beauties of Paradise. But this scarce lasted an instant; for the moment the bed-clothes were thrown off, the lady did snatch back the same, the girl having meanwhile run off. Yet as luck would have it, the more the fair lady did struggle to pull back the coverings, the more she did display her charms. This in no wise spoiled the sight and the pleasure the gentleman had therein, who you may be sure did not put himself about to help her, he had been a fool so to do. How- ever, presently in one way or another she did get her coverings over her again as before, chiding her favourite, but gently withal, and telling her she should pay for her pranks. The damsel, who had slipped away a little out of her reach, did only reply, "Madam, you did play me a trick a while agone; forgive me if that I have paid you back in your own coin." And so saying, through the chamber-door and away! But peace was not long a-making.

Meanwhile the gentleman was so content with what he had seen, and so full of ecstasy, delight and satisfaction, I have heard him declare an hundred times over he did wish for naught else his life long but only to live and dream of this fair sight day by day. And in sooth he was right for to judge by the fair face that is without a rival and the beauteous bosom that hath so ravished man- kind, there must indeed have been yet more exquisite dainties. And he did affirm that among these charms, the said lady did possess the finest figure, and the best devel- oped, ever he did set eyes on. And it may well be so, for she was of a very rich and opulent figure, and this must needs be one of the chief of all a woman's beauties, and like a frontier fortress, one of the most necessary and indispensable.

When the said gentleman had told me all his tale, I could only bid him, "Live on, my friend, live on ; with this divine sight to dream on and this happy contemplation, you should never die. And heaven grant me before I die, at least to see so fair a spectacle!"

The said gentleman did surely owe an eternal debt of gratitude to the damsel, and did ever after honour and love her with all his heart. And he did woo her right eagerly as lover, yet married her not at the last; for another suitor, richer than he, did carry her off, for truly 'tis the way of all women to run after the solid good things of life.

Sights like this be fair and right pleasant ; yet must we beware they work not harm, as the view of the beauteous Diana in her nakedness did to poor Acteon, or yet another I am about to tell of.

A great King did in his day love fondly a very beauti- ful, honourable and great lady, a widow, so that men did esteem him bewitched of her charms. For little did he reck of other women, or even of his wife, except only now and again, for this fair lady did always have the pick of the flowers of his garden. This did sorely grieve the Queen, for she knew herself as fair and lovable, as well deserving of loyal service and as worthy to enjoy such dainty morsels as the other. All this did both anger and surprise her much; wherefore having made her moan to a great lady which was her chief favourite, she did plot with her and contrive if there were no way whereby she might e'en spy through some peep-hole the game her hus- band and the lady should play together. And accord- ingly she did contrive to make sundry holes in the ceiling of the said lady's chamber, for to see it all and the life they twain should lead with one another. So they did set them to view the sight; yet beheld naught but what was fair to see, for they did behold only a most beauteous, white and delicately made woman, tender and sweet, half muffled in her shift, entertaining of her lover with pretty, dainty caresses and most tricksome pranks, and her lover performing the like to her. Then presently the twain would lie and frolic together on the thick, soft carpet which was by the bed-side, so to escape the heat and the better to enjoy the cool. For it was then at the hottest of the year; and myself have also known another very great Prince which was used to take his amusement with his wife in this fashion, to avoid the heat brought on by the great warmth of the summer season, as himself did declare.

The unhappy Queen then, having seen and observed it all, did of very despite set to and weep, sob, sigh and make sore moan, thinking, and saying too, how that her husband did never the like with her, nor ever went through suchlike amorous follies as she had seen him perform with his mistress.

The other lady, which was with her, did what she could for to comfort her, and chided her for making so sad a moan, saying what was true enough, that as she had been so curious as to spy out such doings, she could scarce have expected else. To this the Queen did make no other answer but only this, "Alas ! yes, I was wilful, and fain to see a thing I should never have beheld, for verily the sight thereof did hurt me very sore!" Natheless did she find some comfort anon and resolution of mind, and did leave off sorrowing.

I have heard yet another story of an honourable lady who when a girl was whipped by her mother twice every day, not that she had done aught wrong, but because, as she supposed, her mother did find a pleasure in seeing her so wriggle.

I have heard even a worse thing of a great Lord and Prince, more than eighty years agone, how that before going to cohabit with his wife, he was used to have him- self whipped, not being able to be moved nor to do any- thing without this ridiculous remedy. I should greatly like some competent physician to tell me the reason hereof.

That great and distinguished author, Pico della Mirandola, 3 doth declare himself to have seen a gallant of his day, who the more he was thrashed with heavy blows of a stirrup-leather, the more was he thereby fierce after wom- en. Never was he so valiant with them as after he had been so leathered, though \vhen it was once well done, he was as fierce as any man. Truly here be some strange and terrible caprices ! At any rate to see others whipped is a more agreeable sort of humour than this last !

|HEN I was at Milan, I was one day told a diverting tale, how the late Marquis de Pcs- caire, 1 dead no long while agone, erst Viceroy of Sicily, did fall deeply in love with a very fair lady. And so one morning, believing her husband was gone abroad, he set forth to visit her, finding her still a-bed ; but in conversation with her, he did win naught else but only to see her, gaze at her under the clothes at his leisure, and touch her with his hand. While this was a-doing, lo ! the husband did appear, a man which was not of the high consideration of the Marquis in any respect, and did surprise them in such sort that the Mar- quis had no time to get back his glove, the which was lost some way or another among the sheets, as doth frequently happen. Presently, after exchanging a few words with him, he did leave the chamber, conducted to the door by the husband. The latter on returning did, as chance would have it, discover the Marquis's glove lost among the sheets, the lady not having noticed the same. This he did take and lock up, and after, putting on a cold de- meanour toward his wife, did long remain without sleep- ing with her or touching her at all. Wherefore one day she being alone in her chamber, did set hand to pen and write this quatrain following:

Vigna era, vigna son. Era podata, or piu non son; E non so per qual cagion Non mi poda il mio patron.

So leaving these verses writ out on the table, anon the husband came and saw the lines; and so taketh pen and doth thus reply:

Vigna eri, vigna sei, Eri podata, e piu non sei. Per la granfa del Icon, Non ti poda il tuo patron.

These he did leave likewise on the table. The whole was carried to the Marquis, who made answer :

A la vigna chez voi dite

lo fui, e qui restai;

Alzai il pampano; guardai la vite;

Ma, se Dio m'ajuti, non toccai.

This in turn was shown to the husband, who satisfied with so honourable a reply and fair apology, did take his vine to him again, and did cultivate the same as indus- triously as heretofore; and never were husband and wife happier together.

I will now translate the verses from the Italian, that all may follow the sense :

"I was a vine, and am so still. I was well cultivated ; but am so no more. And I know not for what cause my mas- ter doth not now cultivate me as before."


"A vine thou wert, and art so still; thou wert well cultivated, and art so no more. Because of the lion's claw, for this cause thy master doth not now cultivate thee as before."


"The vine you both do speak of I visited 'tis true, and tarried a space. I lifted the cluster, and looked at the grape; but, so God help me, touched not at all."

By the "lion's claw" the husband meaneth to signify the glove he had found lost between the sheets.

A good husband this, which did not take umbrage over- much, and putting away his suspicions, did thus forgive his wife. And there is no doubt there be ladies which do take such a delight in themselves they do love to see themselves naked and gaze at their own beauty, in such wise that they are filled with ravishment beholding them- selves so lovely, like Narcissus. What then, I ask, is it like we men should do, whenas we do see and gaze at the same ?

Mariamn, the wife of Herod, 2 a fair and honourable lady, when that one day her husband was fain to sleep with her at full midday, and see openly all her charms, did refuse flatly, so Josephus doth record. Nor did he insist on his rights as a husband, as did a great Lord I knew once with his wife, one of the fairest of the fair, whom he did enjoy thus in open day, and did strip her stark naked, she protesting stoutly the while. After, he did send her women to her to dress her again, who did find her all in tears and filled with shame. Other dames on the contrary there be which do make no set scruples of the sort at making display of their beauty and showing themselves thus, the better to stir their lovers' passion and caprice, and draw them the more fondly to them. Yet will they in no wise suffer them to enjoy their most precious favour. Some indeed, ill liking to halt on so pleasant a road, soon go further ; but others there be, I have heard tell of not a few such, which have long time entertained their lovers with such fair sights, and no more.

Happy they which have patience so to bide their time, without yielding overmuch to temptation. Yet must the man be fair bewitched of virtue who seeing a beautiful woman, doth give his eyes no gratification. So was Alex- ander the Great used to say at whiles to his friends how that the Persian maids did much hurt the eyes of such as did gaze at them. And for this cause, when he held pris- oners the daughters of King Darius, he would never greet them but with downcast eyes, and likewise as seldom as ever he could, for fear he should have been overcome by the excellence of their beauty.

Not in those times only, but likewise in our own days, among all the women of the East, the Persian fair ones do bear the bell and prize of beauty, and fine proportion of bodily parts, and natural charm, as well as of becom- ing grace and fitness in dress and foot-gear and above all others, they of the ancient and royal city of Shiraz. 8 These last be so commended for their beauty, fair skin, civility of manners and sweet grace, that the Moors do say in an old and well-known proverb, how that their Prophet Mahomet would never go to Shiraz, for fear, had he once set eyes on its lovely women, his soul after death would never have entered Paradise. Travellers which have been to that city and writ thereof, do say the same. And herein observe the hypocrisy of that same dissolute and rascal Prophet and his pretended continence; as if it were not to be found writ down, as Belon doth tell us, in an Arab work entitled "Of the Good Customs of Mahomet," extolling the Prophet's corporeal vigour, how that he was used to boast of working and satisfying all his eleven wives which he had in a single hour, one after the other. To the deuce with the rascally fellow ! Let us speak no more of him. When all is said and done, I had as lief never have named him at all!

I have heard this question raised concerning the be- haviour of Alexander which I have described above and that of Scipio Africanus, to wit which of the twain did merit the greater praise of continency?

Alexander, distrusting the strength of his chasteness, did refuse even to look at the fair Persian maids. Scipio, after the taking of New Carthage, did look at the beau- tiful Spanish girl his soldiers brought him and offered him as his share of the booty, which maid was so excellent in beauty and of so fair a time of life and flower of age, that wheresoever she did pass, she would brighten and charm the eyes of all that did behold her, and eke of Scipio himself. But he, after greeting her right courteously, did make inquiry of what city of Spain she was and of her family.

Then was he informed, among other things, how that she was betrothed to a young man, Alucius by name, Prince of the Celtiberians, to whom he did give her up and to her father and mother, without ever laying a hand on her. By which conduct he did lay the said lady, her rela- tions and her betrothed, under such obligation that they did ever after show themselves most well affectioned to the city of Rome and the Commonwealth.

Yet who knoweth but in her secret soul this fair dam- sel had not rather have been assailed first of all by Scipio, who, remember, was young, handsome, brave, valiant and victorious ? It may well be that if some bosom friend, male or female of the girl's had asked her on her faith and conscience whether she had not wished it so, I leave it to the reader to suppose what she would have answered, and if at the least she would not have made some little sign or gesture signifying what her real wish had been. For think how the climate of her country and that wester- ing sun of Spain might well have made her hot and keen for love, as it hath many another fair lady of that land, as fair and gracious as she, in our own day, as myself have seen many an one. It can scarce be doubted then, if this fair and honourable maid had but been asked and courted of the young and handsome Scipio, but she would have taken him at the word, yea ! even on the altar of her heathen gods !

Herein hath Scipio doubtless been commended highly of some for his noble gift of continence. Yet hath he been no less blamed of others; for wherein may a brave and valorous gallant better show forth the generosity of his heart towards a fair and honourable lady than by mani- festing to her in deeds that he doth prize her beauty and highly admire it. Better this than treating her with that cold respect, that modesty and discretion, the which I have heard many good gentlemen and honest ladies call rather by the name of silliness and want of spirit than of virtue? Nay, verily! 'tis not such qualities at all a beau- tiful and worthy dame doth love in her heart of hearts, but rather good love and service that is prudent, discreet and secret. In one word, as an honourable lady did one day exclaim a-reading of this tale, Scipio was a fool, valiant and noble captain as he was, to go out of his way so to bind folk to him under obligation and to the Roman side by any such silly ways, when he might have done it just as well by other means more convenient. Beside, 'twas booty of War, whereof a man may take his joy and triumph as legitimately as of any other thing whatsoever in the world, or more so.

The great First Founder of Rome did not so, on oc- casion of the rape of the fair Sabine women, toward her which fell to his share. Rather he did to her accord- ing to his good pleasure, and paid her no cold respect whatever. This she did relish well enough and felt no grievance, neither she nor her companions, which did very soon make accord with their new husbands and ravishers. The women for their part did make no complaint like their fathers and mothers, which did rouse a fierce war of reprisals.

True it is, folk be of different sorts, and there be women and women. Some are loth to yield to any stranger in this sort, herein more resembling the wife of King Orti- agon, one of the Galatian monarchs of Asia Minor. She was of a perfect beauty, and being taken captive on the Kings' defeat by a Roman Centurion and solicited in her honour, she did stand firm in refusal, having a horror of yielding herself to him, a man of so low and base a station compared with herself. Wherefore he did have her by force and violence, whom the fortune and chance of War had given him by right of conquest to make his slave of. But 'twas no long while before he did repent him, and meet with vengeance for this offence; for the Queen, hav- ing promised him a great ransom for her liberty, and both being come to the appointed place for him to receive the money, she did have him slain, as he was a-counting of the gold, and did carry away it and his head to her husband. To this last she did confess freely how that the Roman had indeed violated her chastity, but that she had taken her vengeance of him therefor in this fashion, the which her husband did approve and did highly honour her for her behaviour. And from that day forth, said the history, she did faithfully keep her honour unsullied to the last day of her life with all scrupulousness and serious- ness. Anyway she did enjoy this good treat, albeit it did come from a low-born fellow.

Lucretia did otherwise, for she tasted not the pleasure at all, albeit solicited by a gallant King. Herein was she doubly a fool, first not to gratify him on the spot and readily enough, and secondly to kill herself.

To return once more to Scipio, 'twould seem he knew not yet the ways of War concerning booty and pillage. For by what I learn of a great Captain of our troops, there is no such dainty morsel for loot as a woman taken in War. The same good soldier did make much mock of sundry others his comrades, which were used to insist above all things, at assaults and surprises of towns, on the saving of the women's honour, as well as on divers other occasions and rencontres. This is sheer folly, see- ing women do always love men of arms more than any others, and the very roughness of these doth give them the better appetite. So who can find aught to blame? The pleasure is theirs; their honour and their husbands' is in no way fouled ; and where is the mighty harm and ruin? And yet another point, they do oft by this means save their husbands' goods and lives, as did Eunoe, wife of Bogud or Bocchus, King of Mauretania, to whom Cassar did give great possessions and to her husband likewise, not so much, we may well believe, for having followed his side, as Juba, King of Bithynia did that of Pompey, as because she was a beautiful woman, and Caesar did have the enjoyment of her pleasant favours.

Many other excellent conveniences are there and advan- tages of these loves I must needs pass over. Yet, this same great Captain would exclaim, in spite of them all would other commanders, his comrades and fellows, obeying silly, old-fashioned laws of War, be fain to preserve the honour of women. But surely 'twere more meet first to find out in secrecy and confidence their real wishes, and then decide what to do. Or mayhap they be of the complexion of our friend Scipio, who was worse than the gardener's dog, which, as I have before said, will neither himself eat the cabbages in the garden, nor yet let other folk taste of them. This is the way he did treat the unhappy Mas- sinissa, who had so oft times risked his life for him and for the Roman People, and so sore laboured, sweated and endeavoured, for to gain him glory and victory. Yet after all he did refuse him the fair Queen Sophonisba and did rob him of her, seeing he had chose her for his chiefest and most precious spoil. He did take her from him to send her to Rome, there to live out the rest of her days as a wretched slave, if Massinissa had not found a remedy to save her from this fate. The Conqueror's glory had been fairer and nobler, if she had appeared at Rome as a glorious and stately Queen, and wife of Massinissa, so that folk would have said, as they saw her go by : "Look ! one of the fair vestiges of Scipio's conquests." Surely true glory doth lie much rather in the display of great and noble things than of mean and degraded.

In fine, Scipio, in all this discussion, was shown to have committed grievous faults, whether because he was an enemy of the whole female sex, or as having been altogether impotent to satisfy its wishes. And yet 'tis said that in his later years he did engage in a love intrigue with one of his wife's maids, the which the latter did very patiently endure, for reasons that might easily be alleged to account for the said complaisancy.


|OWEVER, to return from the digression I have just been indulging in and come back into the direct course of my argument, I do declare as my last word in this discourse, that nothing in all the wide world is so fair to see and look upon as a beautiful woman splendidly attired or else daintily dis- robed and laid upon a fair bed, provided always she be sound and sweet, without blemish, blot or defect, as I have afore said.

King Francis I. was used to say, no gentleman, how- soever magnificent, could in any better wise receive a great Lord, howsoever mighty and high-born, at his mansion or castle, than by offering to his view on his first arrival a beautiful woman, a fine horse and a handsome hound. For by casting his gaze now on the one, now on the other and presently on the third, he would never be a-weary in that house, having there the three things most pleasant to look upon and admire, and so exercising his eyes right agreeably.

Queen Isabelle of Castile was wont to say, there were four things did give her very great pleasure to behold: H ombre d'armas en campo, obisbo puesto en pontifical, Undo, dama en la cama, y ladron en la horca, "A man of arms in the field, a Bishop in his pontificals, a fair lady in her bed, and a thief on the gallows."

I have heard the late Cardinal de Lorraine, a short while since deceased, relate how on the occasion of his going to Rome to the Court of Pope Paul IV., to break off the truce made with the Emperor, he did pass through Venice, where he was very honourably received, we cannot doubt, seeing he was so high in the favour of so high and puissant a King. The most noble and magnificent Senate of that city did set forth in a body to meet him. Presently, passing up the Grand Canal, where every window of all the houses was crowded with all the fairest ladies of the place, who had assembled thither to see the state entry, there was a certain great man of the highest rank which did discourse to him on the business of the State, and spake at length of great matters. But after a while, seeing the Cardinal was for ever casting his eyes and fixing them on all these beautiful dames, he said to him in his native Venetian dialect: "My Lord Cardinal, I think you heed me not, and you are right enough. For surely 'tis much more pleasure and diversion to watch these fair ladies at the windows and take delight of their beauty than to listen to the talk of a peevish old man like me, even though he should be talking of some great achievement and success to redound to your advantage." On this the Cardinal, who had no lack of ready wit and memory, did repeat to him word for word all he had said, leaving the good old man excellently well pleased with him, and full of wonder and esteem, seeing that for all his feasting of his eyes on the fair ladies of Venice, he had neither forgot nor neglected aught of all he had said to him.

Any man which hath seen the Court of our French Kings, Francis I., Henri II., and other Sovereigns his sons, will freely allow, whosoever he be and though he have seen all the world, he hath never beheld aught so fair and admirable as the ladies which did frequent their Court and that of the Queens and Princesses, their wives, mothers and sisters. Yet a still fairer sight would he have seen, say some, if only the grandsire of Master Gon- nin had yet been alive, who by dint of his contrivances, illusions, witchcrafts and enchantments could have shown the same all undressed and stript naked, as they say he did once in a private company at the behest of King Francis. For indeed he was a man very expert and subtile in his art of sorcery ; whose grandson, the which we have ourselves seen, knew naught at all in this sort to be com- pared with him.

This sight I ween would be as agreeable and diverting as was of yore that of the Egyptian women at Alexandria, on occasion of the reception and welcoming of their great god Apis, to greet whom they were used to go forth in great state, and lifting their gowns, bodices and shifts, and tucking up the same as high as ever they could, did show the god themselves right out. If any will see the tale, let him read Alexander ab Alexandro, in the 6th book of his Dies Joviales. I think such a sight must indeed have been a right agreeable one, for in those days the ladies of Alexandria were exceeding fair, as they are still to this day.

Doubtless the old and ugly women did in like wise ; but there! what matter? The eye should never strain but after what is fair and comely, and avoid the foul and unlovely all it may.

In Switzerland, men and women do meet promiscuously in the baths, hot and cold, without doing any dishonest deed, but are satisfied with putting a linen cloth in front of them. If this be pretty loose, well! we may see some- thing, mayhap agreeable or mayhap not, according as our companion is fair or foul.

Before ending this part of my discourse, I will add yet one word more. Just think again to what sore tempta- tions were exposed the young lords, knights and nobles, plebeians and other men of Rome, and what delectation of the eye they did enjoy in ancient times on the day when was kept the feast of Flora at Rome. This Flora, 'tis said, was the most engaging and successful courtesan that did ever practise harlotry at Rome, or in any other city. And what did yet more recommend her herein was the fact she was of a good house and noble lineage; for dames of such high sort do naturally please the more, and to go with such doth afford greater gratification.

Thus the lady Flora had this excellence and advantage over Lai's, seeing the latter would give herself to any like a common strumpet, but Flora to great folk only. And indeed she had this writing put up at the entering in of her door, "Kings, Princes, Dictators, Consuls, Censors, Pontifices, Quagstors, Ambassadors, and other the like great Lords, enter; but no other."

Lai's did ever ask payment beforehand, but Flora never, saying she did act so with great folk to the end they might likewise act by her as great and illustrious men should, and also that a woman of much beauty and high lineage will ever be esteemed as she doth value herself. So would she take naught but what was freely given her, declaring every gentle dame should do pleasure to her lover for love's sake, and not for avarice, for that all things have their price save and except true love alone.

In a word, she did in her day so excellently and sweetly practise love, and did win her such gallant lovers, that whenever she did quit her lodging now and again to walk abroad in the city, there was talk of her enough to last a month, as well for her beauty, her fair and rich attire, her gallant bearing and engaging mien, as for the ample suite of courtiers and lovers and great lords which went with her, and did follow and attend her like veritable slaves, an honour she did take with no ill grace. And ambassadors from foreign lands, when they did return to their own country, would ever find more delight in tales of the beauty and wondrous excellence of the divine Flora than in describing the greatness of the Roman State. And above all would they extol her generosity, a thing contrary to the common bias of suchlike dames; but then she was out of the common altogether, seeing she was of noble origin.

Eventually she did die so rich and opulent that the worth of her money, furniture and jewels were enough to rebuild the walls of Rome, and furthermore to free the State of debt. She did make the Roman People her heir in chief ; and in memory thereof was erected at Rome a very sumptuous Temple, which was called from her name the Florianum.

The first Festival ever the Emperor Galba did celebrate was that of the fond Flora, at the which 'twas allowed all Roman men and women to do every sort of debauchery, dissoluteness, abomination and extravagance they chose and could imagine. Indeed she was deemed the most re- ligious and most gallant dame, which on that day did best play the dissolute, debauched and abandoned wanton.

Think of it ! Never a fiscaigne ('tis a lascivious dance the loose women and Moorish slave-girls dance on Sun- days at Malta publicly in the open square), nor saraband did come near these Floralia for naughtiness; and never a movement or wanton posture or provocative gesture or lascivious twist and twirl did these Roman dames omit. Nay! the more dissolute and extravagant the figures she did devise, the more gallant and gay was deemed the per- former ; for the Romans did hold this creed that the more wanton and lecherous the gesture and carriage wherewith a woman did approach the Temple of this goddess, the more like was she to win the same charms and opulence Flora herself had enjoyed.

Verily a fine creed, and a fine mode of solemnizing a festival ! but remember they were but Pagans. Well ! little doubt there was never a sort of naughtiness they did fail to bethink them of, and that for long beforehand these worthy dames would be a-studying of their lessons, just as our own countrywomen will set to work to learn a ballet, and would devote all their heart and soul to these things. Then the young men, and the old ones too, would be no less eager to look on and behold their quaint grimacings and wanton tricks. If such a show could be held in our days, folks would be right glad to profit by the same in every sense ; and to be present at such a sight, the public would verily crowd itself to death!

Further details let each imagine for himself; I leave the task to our merry gallants. Let any that is fain, read Suetonius, as also Pausanias in Greek and Manilius in Latin, in the books they have writ concerning illustrious, amorous and famous ladies, and he will learn the whole in full.

This one more story, and then an end. We read how the Lacedaemonians set forth once to lay siege to Messene" ; but the Messenians were beforehand with them. For they did sally out upon the enemy, some of them, whilst the rest did make all haste and away to Lacedaemon, thinking to surprise their town and pillage it, while the Spartans were occupied before Messene. They were however valor- ously repelled and driven off by the women which had been left behind. Hearing of their design, the Lacedaemonians did turn about and make their way back toward their own city. But from a long way off they did make out their women all armed, who had already driven off the enemy whose attack on the city they had dreaded. Then did the said women straightway inform them of all, and relate their victory, the news whereof did so delight them they did set to on the spot to kiss, fondle and caress the victors. In such wise that, forgetting all shame and without even waiting to take off their harness, neither men nor women, they did gallantly do the thing with them on the very spot where they had met them first. Then were things to be seen not usual in War, and a right pleas- ant rattle and tinkle of arms and armour and the like to make itself heard. In memory whereof they did have built a temple and statue to the goddess Venus, under the title of the Armed Venus, unlike all other images of the goddess, which do always represent her naked. A merry tale of a merry encounter, and a happy idea to depict Venus armed, and call her by that title!

'Tis no uncommon sight among men of arms, especially at the taking of towns by assault, to see soldiers fully armed enjoying women, having neither the time nor pa- tience to disarm before satisfying their lust and appetite, so fierce and eager are they. But to see soldier and woman both armed in cohabitation together is a thing seldom seen.

Well, well! enough! we must needs make an end, albeit I could have filled out this discourse to more ample length by not a few other examples, had I not feared to seem over wanton, and incur an ill repute of naughtiness.

However, after so much praise of fair ladies, I do feel me bound to repeat the words of a Spaniard, who one day wishing ill to a woman, did describe her in very proper terms to me thus :

Senor, vieja es como la lampada azeytunada d'iglesia, y de hechura del armario, largo, y desvayada, el color y gesto como mascara mal pintada, el talle como una campana o mola de el andar y vision d'una antigua fantasma de la noche, que tanto tuviese encontrar-la de noche, como ver una mandragora. lesus! lesus! Dios me libre de su mal encuentro! No se content a de tener en su casa por hues- ped al provisor del obisbo, ni se contenta con la demasiada conversacion del vicario ni del guardian, ni de la amistad antigua del dean, smo que agora de nuevo ha tornado al que pide para las animas del purgatorio, para acabar su negra vida; "Sir ! look at her ! She is like an old, greasy Church lamp. Form and shape are those of a great aumry, all mis-shapen and ill made; complexion and fea- tures like a badly drawn mask; figure as shapely as a monastery bell or a great millstone. Her face is like an old idol; her look and gait like an antic ghost that walks by night. I should be as sore afraid to meet her in the dark as to face a horrid mandrake. The good Jesus keep me from such an encounter! The Bishop's Ordinary is her constant guest, but she is not satisfied; the garrulous Vicar and the good old Dean are her oldest friends, but she is not content. She must needs entangle now the Pardoner for poor souls in Purgatory, to com- plete the infamy of her black and odious life."

Observe how the Spaniard, which hath so well described the thirty beauties of a fair lady (have I not quoted them above, in this same Discourse?), can, when he so wills, abuse the sex with the like gusto.

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