Henry Craik, ed. English Prose. 1916. Vol. I. Fourteenth to Sixteenth Century
By Thomas Nashe (15671601)
From The Unfortunate Traveller
AH, quoth he, my little Page, full little canst thou perceive how far metamorphosed I am from myself, since I last saw thee. There is a little god called Love, that will not be worshipped of any leaden brains; one that proclaims himself sole king and emperor of piercing eyes, and chief sovereign of soft hearts: he it is that exercising his empire in my eyes, hath exorcised and clean conjured me from my content. Thou knowest stately Geraldine, too stately I fear for me to do homage to her statue or shrine: she it is that is come out of Italy to bewitch all the wise men of England; upon Queen Katharine Dowager she waits, that hath a dowry of beauty sufficient to make her wooed of the greatest kings in Christendom. Her high exalted sunbeams have set the phnix-nest of my breast on fire, and I myself have brought Arabian spiceries of sweet passions and praises, to furnish out the funeral flame of my folly. Those who were condemned to be smothered to death by sinking down into the soft bottom of an high-built bed of roses, never died so sweet a death as I should die, if her rose-coloured disdain were my deathsman. Oh thrice imperial Hampton Court, Cupids enchanted castle, the place where I first saw the perfect omnipotence of the Almighty expressed in mortality, tis thou alone that, tithing all other men solace in thy pleasant situation, affordest me nothing but an excellent-begotten sorrow out of the chief treasure of all thy recreations.
Dear Wilton, understand that there it was where I first set eye on my more than celestial Geraldine. Seeing her, I admired her; all the whole receptacle of my sight was inhabited with her rare worth. Long suit and incessant protestations got me the grace to be entertained. Did never unloving servant so prentice-like obey his never-pleased mistress as I did her. My life, my wealth, my friends, had all their destiny depending on her command. Upon a time I was determined to travel; the fame of Italy, and an especial affection I had unto poetry, my second mistress, for which Italy was so famous, had wholly ravished me unto it. There was no dehortment1 from it, but needs thither I would; wherefore coming to my mistress as she was then walking with other ladies of estate in paradise at Hampton Court, I most humbly besought her of favour, that she would give me so much gracious leave to absent myself from her service, as to travel a year or two into Italy. She very discreetly answered me, that if my love were so hot as I had often avouched, I did very well to apply the plaister of absence unto it, for absence, as they say, causeth forgetfulness; yet nevertheless since it is Italy, my native country, you are so desirous to see, I am the more willing to make my will yours. I, pete Italiam; go and seek Italy with Æneas, but be more true than Æneas; I hope that kind witcherishing climate will work no change in so witty a breast. No country of mine shall it be more, if it conspire with thee in any new love against me. One charge I will give thee, and let it be rather a request than a charge: when thou comest to Florence (the fair city from whence I fetched the pride of my birth), by an open challenge defend my beauty against all comers.
Thou hast that honourable carriage in arms, that it shall be no discredit for me to bequeath all the glory of my beauty to thy well-governed arm. Fain would I be known where I was born; fain would I have thee known where fame sits in her chiefest theatre. Farewell, forget me not, continued deserts will eternise me unto thee, thy full wishes shall be expired when thy travel shall be once ended.
Here did tears step out before words, and intercepted the course of my kind-conceived speech, even as wind is allayed with rain; with heart-scalding sighs I confirmed her parting request, and vowed myself hers while living heat allowed me to be mine own: Hinc illae lacrimae, hence proceedeth the whole cause of my peregrination.