Henry Craik, ed. English Prose. 1916. Vol. I. Fourteenth to Sixteenth Century
Grief and Sudden Joy
By Philemon Holland (15521637) and the Classical Translators
From An Æthiopian Historie written in Greek by Heliodorus: Englished by Thomas Underdowne
BUT after they had gone a little way, Cnemon suddenly cried out, O Jupiter, what meaneth this? We are undone: Cariclia is slain. And therewith he cast his light to the ground, and put it out, and holding his hands before his face, fell on his knees, and lamented. But Theagenes as though by violence one had thrust him down, fell on the dead body, and held the same in his arms a great while without moving. Cnemon therefore perceiving that he was utterly overcome with sorrow, and fearing lest he should do him some harm, took his sword out of his scabbard, and ran out to light his link again. In the meantime, Theagenes tragically, and with much sorrow lamented: and oh, grief intolerable, oh manifold mischiefs, sent from the gods, said he, What insatiable fury so much rageth still to have us destroyed? Who hath banished us out of our country, cast us to dangers by seas, perils by pirates, and hath often delivered us into the hands of robbers, and spoiled us of all our treasures? Only one comfort we had, which is now taken from us, Cariclia is dead, and by enemys hand (my only joy) is slain: while she no doubt defended her chastity, and reserved herself unto me, she unhappy creature is dead, and neither had she by her beauty any pleasure, neither any commodity. But oh my sweet heart, speak to me lastly, as thou wert wont to do, and if there be any life in thee, command me to do somewhat. Alas thou dost hold thy peace, that godly mouth of thine, out of the which proceeded so heavenly talk, is stopped: darkness hath possessed her who bare the star of beauty: and the last end of all hath now gotten the best minister that belonged to any temple of the gods. These eyes of thine, that with passing fairness looked upon all men, are now without sight, which he, who killed thee, saw not, I am sure. But by what name shall I call thee? my spouse? thou wert never espoused. My wife? thou wert not married, what shall I therefore call thee? or how shall I lastly speak unto thee, shall I call thee by the most delectable name of all names, Cariclia? O Cariclia hear me, thou hast a faithful lover, and shalt ere it be long, recover me, for I will out of hand, with mine own death perform a deadly sacrifice to thee, and with mine own blood will I offer a friendly offering unto thee, and this rude den shall be a sepulchre for us both. It shall be lawful for us, after death, to enjoy either other, which while we lived, the gods would not grant. As soon as he had spoken thus, he set his hand, as though he would have drawn out his sword, which when he found not, O Cnemon said he, how hast thou hurt me, and especially injured Cariclia, deprived now again of most delectable company: while he spake thus, through the hollow holes of the cave, there was a voice heard, that called Theagenes. He heard it well, and was nothing afraid, and O sweet soul, pardon me, said he: by this it manifestly appeareth, that thou art yet above the earth, partly for that with violence expulsed out of such a body, thou canst not depart without grief, partly for that, not yet buried, thou art chased away of infernal spirits. And when Cnemon came in with a light in his hand the same voice was heard again, calling Theagenes. O gods, said Cnemon, is not this Cariclias voice? Surely Theagenes, I think that she is yet saved. Wilt thou not yet leave, said Theagenes, so oft to deceive and beguile me? Indeed, said Cnemon, I deceive you, and am myself deceived, if this be not Cariclia that lieth here. And therewithal, he straightway turned her face upward, which, as soon as he saw, you gods, said he, which be the authors of all wonders, what strange sight is this? I see here Thisbes face, and therewith he leapt back, and without moving any whit, stood quaking in a great admiration. Therewithal Theagenes came somewhat to himself, and began to conceive some better hope in his mind, and comforted Cnemon, whose heart now failed him, and desired him in all haste to carry him to Cariclia. A while after, when Cnemon came somewhat to himself again, he looked more advisedly on her: it was Thisbe indeed, and he knew also the sword that lay by her, by the hilts to be Thyamis his, which he for anger, and haste left in the wound. Last of all, he saw a little scroll hang at her breast, which he took away, and would fain have read it, but Theagenes would not let him, but lay on him very earnestly, saying, let us first receive my sweet heart, lest even now as some god beguile us: as for these things, we may know them hereafter. Cnemon was content, and so taking the letter in his hand, and the sword also, went in to Cariclia, who creeping both on hands and feet to the light, ran to Theagenes, and hanged about his neck. Now Theagenes, thou art restored to me again, said she. Thou livest, mine own Cariclia, quoth he, oftentimes. At length they fell suddenly to the ground, holding either other in their arms, without uttering any word, except a little murmuring, and it lacked but a little, that they were not both dead. For, many times too much gladness is turned to sorrow, and immoderate pleasure hath engendered grief, whereof ourselves are the causes. As also these, preserved contrary to their hope and opinion, were in peril, until Cnemon taking a little water in his hands sprinkled it on their faces, and rubbing their nostrils caused them to come to themselves again.