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Touching the beauty of this prince, her countenance, her personage, her majesty, I cannot think that it may be sufficiently commended, when it cannot be too much marveled at; so that I am constrained to say as Praxitiles did, when he began to paint Venus and her son, who doubted whether the 10 world could afford colors good enough for two such fair faces, and I, whether our tongue can yield words to blaze that beauty, the perfection whereof none can imagine; which seeing it is so, I must do like those that want a clear sight, who, being not able to discern the sun in the sky, are en- 15 forced to behold it in the water. Zeuxis, having before him fifty fair virgins of Sparta whereby to draw one amiable Venus, said that fifty more fairer than those could not minister sufficient beauty to show the goddess of beauty; therefore, being in despair either by art to shadow her, or by imagina-20 tion to comprehend her, he drew in a table a fair temple, the gates open, and Venus going in so as nothing could be perceived but her back, wherein he used such cunning that Apelles himself, seeing this work, wished that Venus would turn her face, saying that if it were in all parts agreeable to the back, 25 he would become apprentice to Zeuxis, and slave to Venus.
In the like manner fareth it with me, for having all the ladies in Italy, more than fifty hundred, whereby to color Elizabeth, I must say with Zeuxis that as many more will not suffice, and therefore in as great an agony paint her court 30 with her back towards you, for that I cannot by art portray her beauty, wherein, though I want the skill to do it as Zeuxis did, yet viewing it narrowly, and comparing it wisely, you all will say that if her face be answerable to her back, you will like my handicraft and become her handmaids. In the 35 mean season, I leave you gazing until she turn her face, imagining her to be such a one as nature framed, to that end that no art should imitate, wherein she hath proved herself to be exquisite, and painters to be apes.
40 This beautiful mold when I beheld to be indued with
chastity, temperance, mildness, and all other good gifts of nature (as hereafter shall appear), when I saw her to surpass all in beauty, and yet a virgin, to excell all in piety, and yet a
prince, to be inferior to none in all the lineaments of the body, 45 and yet superior to every one in all gifts of the mind, I began
thus to pray, that as she hath lived forty years a virgin in great majesty, so she may live four score years a mother with great joy, that as with her we have long time had peace
and plenty, so by her we may ever have quietness and abun50 dance, wishing this even from the bottom of a heart that
wisheth well to England, though feareth ill, that either the world may end before she die, or she live to see her children's children in the world; otherwise how tickle their state is
that now triumph, upon what a twist they hang that now 55 are in honor, they that live shall see, which I to think on,
sigh! But God for his mercy's sake, Christ for his merit's sake, the Holy Ghost for his name's sake, grant to that realm comfort without any ill chance, and the prince they
have without any other change, that the longer she liveth the 60 sweeter she may smell, like the bird Ibis, that she may be
triumphant in victories like the palm tree, fruitful in her age like the vine, in all ages prosperous, to all men gracious, in all places glorious, so that there be no end of her praise
until the end of all flesh. 65 Thus did I often talk with myself, and wish with mine
But whither do I wade, ladies, as one forgetting himself; thinking to sound the depth of her virtues with a few fathoms,
when there is no bottom; for I know not how it cometh to 70 pass that, being in this labyrinth, I may sooner lose myself than find the end.
Behold, ladies, in this glass a queen, a woman, a virgin, in all gifts of the body, in all graces of the mind, in all perfection of either, so far to excel all men, that I know not whether I may think the place too bad for her to dwell among men. 75
To talk of other things in that court were to bring eggs after apples, or after the setting out of the sun, to tell a tale of a shadow.
Cupid and Campaspe
SIR PHILIP SIDNEY
(From Astrophel and Stella)
Loving in truth, and fain in verse my love to show,
Some fresh and fruitful showers upon my sunburned brain.
Biting my truant pen, beating myself for spite;
With how sad steps, O Moon, thou climb'st the skies ! a
Those lovers scorn whom that love doth possess ?
Description of Arcadia
(From Arcadia, Book I, Chap. II) There were hills which garnished their proud heights with stately trees; humble valleys whose base estate seemed comforted with the refreshing of silver rivers; meadows enamelled with all sorts of eye-pleasing flowers; thickets 5 which, being lined with most pleasant shade, were witnessed so to, by the cheerful disposition of many well-tuned birds; each pasture stored with sheep, feeding with sober security, while the pretty lambs, with bleating oratory, craved the dams' comfort; here a shepherd's boy piping, as though he should never be old; there a young shepherdess knitting, 10 and withal singing; and it seemed that her voice comforted her hands to work, and her hands kept time to her voicemusic. As for the houses of the country for many houses came under their eye they were all scattered, no two being one by the other, and yet not so far off as that it barred 15 mutual succour; a show, as it were, of an accompanable solitariness, and of a civil wildness.
“I pray you," said Musidorus, then first unsealing his long-silent lips, "what countries be these we pass through, which are so diverse in show, the one wanting no store, the 20 other having no store but of want?”
'The country,” answered Claius, “where you were cast ashore, and now are passed through, is Laconia, not so poor by the barrenness of the soil — though in itself not passing fertile as by a civil war, which, being these two years 25 within the bowels of that estate, between the gentlemen and the peasants — by them named Helots - hath in this sort, as it were, disfigured the face of nature and made it so unhospitall as now you have found it; the towns neither of the one side nor the other willingly opening their gates to 30 strangers, nor strangers willingly entering, for fear of being mistaken.
“But this country, where now you set your foot, is Arcadia ; and even hard by is the house of Kalander, whither we lead you: this country being thus decked with peace and the 35 child of peace, good husbandry. These houses you see so scattered are of men, as we two are, that live upon
the modity of their sheep, and therefore, in the division of the Arcadian estate, are termed shepherds; a happy people, wanting little, because they desire not much.”