Henry Craik, ed. English Prose. 1916. Vol. I. Fourteenth to Sixteenth Century
The King of Arcadia and His Daughter
By Sir Philip Sidney (15541586)
From The Countess of Pembrokes Arcadia, Book I
HERE dwelleth and reigneth this prince whose picture you see, by name Basilius; a prince of sufficient skill to govern so quiet a country, where the good minds of the former princes had set down good laws, and the well-bringing-up of the people doth serve as a most sure bond to hold them. He, being already well-stricken in years, married a young princess, named Gynecia, daughter to the king of Cyprus, of notable beauty, as by her picture you see; a woman of great wit, and in truth of more princely virtues than her husband; of most unspotted chastity, but of so working a mind and so vehement spirits, as a man may say it was happy she took a good course, for otherwise it would have been terrible.
Of these two are brought to the world two daughters, so beyond measure excellent in all the gifts allotted to reasonable creatures, that we may think they were born to show that Nature is no stepmother to that sex, how much soever some men, sharp-witted only in evil-speaking, have sought to disgrace them. The elder is named Pamela, by many men not deemed inferior to her sister. For my part, when I marked them both, methought there was (if at least such perfection may receive the word of more) more sweetness in Philoclea, but more majesty in Pamela; methought love played in Philocleas eyes and threatened in Pamelas; methought Philocleas beauty only persuaded, but so persuaded as all hearts must yield; Pamelas beauty used violence, and such violence as no heart could resist. And it seems that such proportion is between their minds: Philoclea, so bashful as though her excellences had stolen into her before she was aware; so humble that she will put all pride out of countenance; in sum, such proceedings as will stir hope, but teach hope good manners;Pamela, of high thoughts, who avoids not pride with not knowing her excellences, but by making that one of her excellences to be void of pride; her mothers wisdom, greatness, nobility, but (if I can guess aright) knit with a more constant temper.
Now, then, our Basilius being so publicly happy as to be a prince, and so happy in that happiness as to be a beloved prince, and so in his private estate blessed as to have so excellent a wife, and so over-excellent children, hath of late taken a course which yet makes him more spoken of than all these blessings. For, having made a journey to Delphos, and safely returned, within short space he brake up his court and retired himself, his wife and children, into a certain forest hereby, which he calleth his desert; wherein, besides an house appointed for stables, and lodgings for certain persons of mean calling, who do all household services, he hath builded two fine lodges; in the one of them himself remains with his younger daughter Philoclea (which was the cause they three were matched together in this picture), without having any other creature living in that lodge with him.