How beautiful Winifred being ouer-much superstitious, forsook her fathers wealth, and hued poorely by a springing Fountain, from whence no man could get her to go; which Spring to this day is called Winifreds Well.
Winifred, who had but of late yeeres with her own father receiued the Christian Faith, became so superstitious, that she thought the wealth of the world for euer would haue been an heauy burthen for her soule, and haue drawne her mind from the loue of her Maker; wherefore forsaking all manner of earthly pomp, she hued a long time very poorely, hard by the side of a most pleasant, springing Well; from which place neither her friends by intreaty, nor her foes by violence could bring her; which Sir Hugh hearing, he went thither immediately after vnto her, which was the time limited by them both, and finding her mind altogether altered, he wondered not a little what she meant. And when he approached near vnto the place where she sate, all suted in simple attire, he saluted her with these words.
All health to faire Winifred: I trust (my Deare) that now the Destinies haue yeelded a conuenient opportunity for me to finish my long begun sute, with the end of my former sorrowes. Long and tedious hath the winter of my woes beene, which with nipping care hath blasted the beauty of my youthfull delight, which is like neuer again to flourish, except the bright Sunshine of thy fauour doe renew the same: therefore (fair Loue) remember thy promise made vnto me, and put me no more off with vnpheasing delayes.
She (which a)] this while sat solemnly reading in her booke) lent little eare vnto his words; which he perceiuing, pluckt her by the arme, saying : Wherefore answereth not my faire Loue to her dearest perplexed friend?
What would you haue (quoth she?) Can I neuer be quiet for you? Is there no corner of content in this world to be found?
Yes Winifred (said he) content dwels here or no where; content me, and I will content thee.
If my content may be thy content, then read this book, and there rest content (said Winifred) and if thou refuse this, then think not to find content on earth.
Sir Hugh replied, What, is this all the reward I shall haue for obeying your heart-cutting commandment. Haue I thus long hoped, and find no better hap? You wot well that it is now three long months since these eyes took comfort of thy beauty, and since that time that my bleeding heart bath receiued joy in thy great gentlenesse.
I haue forgot you quite (said she); what three moneths is that you speak of? For my part, I assure you that it is as far out of my mind as you are from the mount of Calvary.
Faire Winifred (quoth he) haue you forgotten me, and therewithall my Loue which was so effectually grounded vpon your good liking? You told me, that now I should receiue an answer to my content.
0 Sir (quoth she) you haue stayed ouer-long, and your words are in my hearing as vnprofitable as snow in haruest; my loue is fled to heauen, from whence no earthly man can fetch it, and therefore build not on vain hope, nor do thou deceiue thy selfe by following an vnprofitable suit; if euer I loue earthly man, it shall be thee, insomuch as thou hast deserued an earthly Ladies loue; hut my loue is settled for euer, both in this world, and in the world to come: and this I most earnestly intreat thee to take for a finall answer.
With that Sir Hugh turning his head a side, wept most bitterly, and in going a way he glanced his eye still back again after his
Loue, saying to himselfe: 0 vnconstant women, wauering and vncertain, how many sorrows are fond men drawn into by your wily inticements? who are also swallowed vp in the gaping gulf of care, while they listen after the heart-liking sound of your inchanting voices. 0 Winifred, full little did I think that so hard a heart could haue been shrowded vnder so sweet and louing a countenance: but, seeing that my good will is thus vnkindly requited, I will altogether abhor the sight of women, and. I will seek the world throughout, but I will find out some blessed plot, where no kind of such corrupt cattell do breed.
Hereupon all in a hot hasty humour he made preparation for to go beyond the Seas, suiting himselfe after the nature of a melancholly man; and arriuing in France, he took his iourney towards Paris, which City (at that time) was well replenished with many goodly faire women, as well as Britain, though to his thinking nothing so louely, but neuerthelesse what they wanted in beauty, they had in brauery: which when Sir Hugh saw, he suddenly departed from that place, counting it the most pernicious place in the whole Countrey; and from thence he went into Italy, where he found such stately Dames and louely Ladies, whom nature had adorned with all perfection of outward beauty, whose sight put him again in remembrance of his faire Loue, which, like fresh fuell newly augmented the flame of his burning desire, 0 (said he) how vnhappy am I to be haunted by these heart tormenting fiends, bewitching the eyes of simple men with Angel-like faces, and, like enchanting Circe’s, bringing them to a labyrinth of continual] woes.
0 Winifred, thy peeuishnesse bath hred my dangers, and done thy selfe no good at all. Thou sitest weeping by a Christall streame, where is no need of water, while I wander vp and down, seeking to forget thee; thou neuer remembrest me, hauing drawn the fountaine of mine eyes dry through thy discourteous disdain. Might I neuer see any of thy sex, my heart would be more at quiet, hut euery place where I come puts me in mind of thy perfections, and therewithall renews my pain: but I will from hence as soon as possible I can, though not so soon as I would for feare lest these sweet Serpents should sting me to death with delight.
Hereupon he passed on so far, that at length he came to a City situated in the Sea, and compassed with the wild Ocean. Here (quoth sir Hugh) is a fit place for melancholly men; where it is. supposed no women do hue, insomuch that their delicate bodies cannot abide the salt sauour of the mounting waues: if it be so, there will I make my residence, counting it the most blessed place vnder heauen. But he was no sooner set on land, but he beheld whole troops of louely Ladies passing vp and down in most sumptuous attire, framing their gestures answereable to their beauties and comly personages.
Nay, now I see (quoth Sir Hugh) that the whole world is infected with these deceiuing Syrens and therfore in vain it is for me to seek for that I shall neuer find; and therwithal sought for some house wherein he might hide himself from them. But, by that time he was set to supper, comes a crue of Courtlike Dames richly a4ired, and with wanton eyes and pleasent speech they boldly sate down by him; and perceiuing him to be a stranger, they were not strange to allure him to their delight: wherefore while he sat at meat, they yeelded him such mirth as their best skill could afford; and stretching their nimble fingers, playing on their sweet sounding Instruments, they sang this ensuing song with such cleare and quauering voices, as had been sufficient to allure chast-hearted Xenocrates vnto folly; and stil as they did sing, Sir Hugh answered in the last line, insomuch as it seemed to be a Dialogue between them; and in this manner following, the women began their song.
TheCurtizans song of Venice.
|Ladies.|| Welcome to Venice, gentle
Cast off care, and entertain content.
If any here be gracious in thy sight,
Do but request, and she shall soon content:
Loues wings are swift, then be not thou so slow;
|Hugh.||Oh that faire Winifred would once say so.|
|Ladies.|| Within my
lap lay down thy comely head;
And let me stroke those golden locks of thine,—
Looke on the teares that for thy sake I shed,
And be thou Lord of any thing is mine,—
One gentle looke vpon thy Loue bestow,—
|Hugh.||Oh that faire Winifred would once say so.|
|Ladies.|| Embrace with joy thy Lady in thine armes,
And with all pleasures passe to thy delight:
If thou doest think the light will work our harmes,
Come, come to bed, and welcome all the night;
There shalt thou find what Louers ought to know,
|Hugh.||Oh that faire Winifred would once say so.|
|Ladies.|| Giue me
those pearles as pledges of thy Loue,
And with those pearles the fauour of thy heart—
Do not from me thy sugred breath remoue,
That double comfort giues to euery part;
Nay stay Sir Knight, from hence thou shalt not go.
|Hugh.||Oh that faire Winifred would once say so.|
When Sir Hugh had heard this song, and therewithall noted their wanton gestures, he began to grow suspitious of their proffers, and, thinking in himselfe, that either they sought his destruction, as the Syrens did to Vlysses; or that they intended to make a prey of his purse, as Lais did of her louers: and therefore supposing some Adder to lie lurking vnder the fair flowers of their proffered pleasures, he determined the next morning after (with speed) to depart from the City. So when he had with good discretion auoided their company, while he lay tormented with restlesse thoughts on his still tossed bed, began thus to meditate.
Now I wel see mine own vanity, that is as ill pleased with womens fauor as their frowns; how often haue I with heart sighing sorrow complained of womens vnkindnesse, making large inuectiues against their discourtesies? And yet here where I find women as kind as they are faire, and courteous as they are comely, I runne into a world of doubts, and so suspitious of their faire proffers, as I was earnest to winne Winifreds fauour. It may be (quoth he) that it is the nature of this gentle soyle to breed as kinde creatures, as the Country of Brittaine breeds coy Dames.
Vndoubtedly, had my loue first taken life in this kind and courteous Climate, she would haue beene as kind as they. If I mis-iudge not of their gentlenesse, because I haue alwayes beene inured to scornfulnesse; methinks they are too faire to be harlots, and too bold to be honest; but as they haue no cause to hate me that neuer hurt them, so haue they little cause to loue me, being a far stranger born, to them a man altogether vnknown.
But it may be that this time of the yeere is onely vnfortunate for Louers; as it is certainly known to all men, that euery season of the yeere breeds a sundrie commoditie; for Roses flourish in June, and Gilly flowers in August, and neuer of them both doth so in the cold Winter. Such as seek for fruit on the saplesse trees in the moneth of January, lose their labours as well as their longing: then why should I couet to gather fruits of loue, when I see that loue is not yet ripe? Now let me obserue the season that yeelds the sweetest comfort of loue-sick persons, and so I may reape the ioyfull fruits of hearts content: I will therefore return to my former Loue, hopeing now to find her as friendly, as at my departure she was froward: I will once againe intreat her, and speak her exceeding faire; for with many drops the hardest stone is pierc’d; so also with many importunate intreaties a flinty heart may be moued to some remorse. I take no pleasure at all in any place, but onely in her presence, with the which she continually graceth a running streame; far be it from her minde to kisse her own shadow in the Chrystall spring, and to be in loue with her own similitude; for so she might be spoiled as Narcissus was: for it is commonly seene, that sudden dangers follows fond opinions.
So with this and the like thoughts he droue out the night till the Suns bright eye began to peep at his chamber window, at which time dressing himselfe, he went to the water side, where he found a ship ready to transport rich merchandize into the western Ilands, in the which Sir Hugh became a passenger. But when they were put off to Sea, there arose so sudden a storme, and of long continuance, that no man looked for life, but expected euery moment present death, so that the Mariners quite forsooke the tackle, and the Master the helme, committing themselues to God, and their ship to the mercy of the swelling Seas, by whose furious waues they were sometime tossed vp towards heauen, anon thrown down to the deep of hell. In which extremity Sir Hugh made this lamentation:
0 vnhappy man, how eagerly doth mischance pursue me at my heels; for betwixt my Loue on the land, and danger of life on the Sea, it hath made me the wretchedst man breathing on earth.
Here we may see that miseries haue power ouer men, and not men ouer miseries. Now must I die far from my friends and be drenched in the deepe, where my body must feed the fishes that swim in the rich bottom of the Sea. Therefore faire Winifred, the chiefe ground of my griefs, here will I sacrifice my last teares vnto thee, and poure forth my complaints.
0 how happy should I count my selfe, if those fishes which shall line on my bodies food, might be meat for my Lone! It grieueth me much to think that my poore bleeding heart, wherein thy picture is engrauen, should be rent in pieces in such greedie sort; but thrice accursed be that fish that first seteth his nimble teeth thereon, except he swim therewith vnto my Loue, and so deliuer it as a present token from me.
Had my troubled stars allotted me to leaue my life in the pleasant valley of Sichnant, then no doubt but my Loue with her faire hands would haue closed vp my dying eyes, and perhaps would haue rung a peal of sorrowfull sighs for my sake.
By this time was the weather beaten Bark driuen by the shore of Sicilie, where the men had safety of their liues, although with losse of the ship, and spoile of their goods: but they had no sooner shaken off their dropping wet garments on the shore, but that they were asaulted by a sort of monstrous men that had but one eye apiece, and that placed in the midst of their foreheads, with whom the tempest-beaten Souldiers had a firce fight, in which many of them were slain, and diuers of them fled away to saue themselues; so that in the end Sir Hngh was left alone to Fortune in a double fray: and hauing at last quite ouercome all his aduersaries, he went his way, and was so far entered into the dark wildernesse, that he could not denise with himselfe which way he should take to get out, where he was so cruelly affrighted with the dreadfull cry of fierce Lyons, Beares, and wilde Bulls, and many thousand more of other dangerous and cruell, rauenous Beasts, which with greedy mouthes ranged about for their prey, in which distresse Sir Hugh got him vp into the top of a tree, and, being there, brake out into this passion:
0 Lord (quoth he) hast Thou preserued me from the great perill and danger of the Sea, and deliuered me out of the cruell hands of monstrous men, and now sufferest thou me to be deuoured of wild beasts? Alas, that my foule sins should bring so many sundrie sorrows on my head.
But for all this may I thank vnkinde Winifred, whose disdain hath brought my destruction. Wo worth the time that euer my eyes beheld her bewitching beauty. But hereby we may see that the path is smooth that leadeth to danger. But why blame I the blamelesse Lady? Alas, full little did she know of my desperate courses in trauell. But such is the fury that hants frantick Louers, that neuer feare danger vntill it fall, and light vpon their own heads.
But by that time that the day began to appeare, he perceiued an huge Elephant with stiffe joynts stalking towards him, and presently after came a fiery-tongue Dragon, which suddenly assaulted the peacefull Elephant in whose subtle encounter the wrathfull Dragon with his long, wringing taile did so shackle the hinder feet of the Elephant together, that, like a prisoner fast fettered in irons, he could not stir a foot for his life: what time the furious Dragon neuer left till he had thrust his slender head into the Elephants long hooked nose, out of which he neuer once drew it, vntill by sucking the Elephants blood, he had made him so feeble and so weak, that he could stand no longer vpon his feet; at which time the fainting Elephant with a greiuous cry, fel down dead vpon the Dragon: so with the fall of his weightie body burst the Dragon in peices, and so killed him; whereby their bloods being mingled together, it stain’d all the ground where they both lay, changing the green grasse into a rich scarlet colour.
This strange fight betwixt these two beasts caused good Sir Hugh to iudge that Nature had planted betwixt them a deadly hatred, the fire whereof could not be quenched but by shedding of both their hearts blood. Now when Sir Hugh saw that grim death had ended their quarrell, and perceiuing no danger neare, he came down from the tree, and sought to find out some inhabited Town: but being intangled in the woods, like the Centaure in his Labirinth, he could by no meanes get out, but wandred in vnknown passages leading him to many perils.
At last another Elephant met him, who according to his kind nature neuer left him till he had conducted him out of all danger, and brought him out of the Wildernesse into the way again; wherby sir Hugh at the length came in sight of a Post-town, where in foure dayes after he imbarked himselfe in a ship bound for Brittaine, and at last obtained the sight of his natiue Countrey, where he arriued in safetie, though in very poore sort, coming on shore at a place called Harwich, where for want of money he greatly lamented. And made much moan. But meeting with a merry Iourneyman-shoomaker dwelling in that town, and after some conference had together, they both agreed to trauell in the Countrey, where we will leaue them, and speake of Winifred, and of her great troubles and calamities.