George L. Craik: "Canto XI. (65 stanzas). — When news is brought to Geryoneo that the Lady Belge has found a champion, and that his seneschal has been slain, he instantly arms himself, and, setting out with his retinue, comes and marches up and down before the gate of the castle where Prince Arthur is, and with much vaunting and menace calls upon him to deliver him his own. The prince does not keep him waiting long, but, coming forth to him, 'full nobly mounted in right warlike wise,' asks if he be the same who has done the Lady Belge all that wrong? 'He boldly answered him, he there did stand | That would his doings justify with his own hand'....
"His three sets of hands and arms give Geryoneo, of course, a considerable advantage, enabling him, as he sees occasion, to shift his weapon from hand to hand and from side to side, and to strike his enemy in front, in flank, and from the rear, as he chooses. After he has several times performed this operation, however, the prince, as he is trying it again, meets him with a counterstroke so swift as to smite the uplifted arm off altogether. The infuriated monster then grasps his axe in all his five remaining hands at once, and, heaving them on high, comes down with what he intends for an annihilating blow; but it luckily falls short of the prince, and only wounds his horse's head. The giant, seeing his adversary now reduced to fight on foot, is stated to have thereat — 'laughed so loud, that all his teeth wide bare | One might have seen enranged disorderly, | Like to a rank of piles that pitched are awry.'
"Another tremendous stroke of the axe is only prevented from cleaving Arthur in twain by his dexterous interposition of his adamantine shield before it has come quite down upon him. In return, however, he deals the giant such a blow, or rather furious succession of blows, that two more of his arms drop from him.... In this mad and reckless condition he soon gives 'the child' an opportunity of sending his sword, by a remarkably fortunate thrust, not only through one of his bodies but through all three; and he rolls on the ground a senseless lump, — 'biting the earth for very Death's disdain; | Who, with a cloud of night him covering, bore | Down to the house of dole, his days there to deplore.'
"When this is seen by the Lady Belge, who with her two sons has been all the while looking on from the castle, as have 'all the people both of town and land' from the city wall, she runs down, and, prostrating herself with her boys before her victorious champion's feet, 'in all that people's sight' — 'Mongst joys mixing some tears, mongst weal some woe' — returns him fervent thanks, and would have him accept for his own the realm his valour has saved; but, taking her up by the lily hand the magnanimous prince assures her that it is the justice of her cause that has fought for her that day, and that for any service he has rendered he accounts the consciousness of having rendered it sufficient reward.
"She then requests of him that he will not lay down his victorious arms till he has completed his good work, and informs him that there stands in the neighbouring church a famous idol devised and set up by the late giant, to which he was wont to offer up her children and her people in daily sacrifice, consuming them by fire with all the tortures he could invent; and that — 'underneath this idol there doth lie An hideous monster, that doth it defend, And feeds on all the carcases that die | In sacrifice unto that cursed fiend: | Whose ugly shape none ever saw, nor kenned, | That ever scaped.' The prince, on hearing this, again takes his arms and shield, and proceeds to the church.... The monster, even at her first coming forth, is dismayed at the sight of the prince's blazing shield, and would have turned back to hide herself again in her lair if he had not prevented her. She then flies at the shield, and, fiercely seizing hold of it, tries either to rend it to pieces or to rive it out of his hand. Finding it in vain to seek to make her relax her gripe, he takes his sword and with one powerful stroke smites off from her feet her lion's claws. 'With that aloud she gan to bray and yell, | And foul blasphemous speeches forth did cast'.... The monster now screams out louder than ever, and, rearing herself on her ample wings, throws herself with the whole weight of her body upon him; but he has had time to interpose his shield between her and his head, and while she is trying to crush him he thrusts his sword into her entrails, and ends the battle....
"The story now returns to 'noble Artegal,' who has also left the court of Mercilla, and proceeded on his original enterprise, the deliverance of Irena, and the chastisement of her oppressor Grantorto. He has passed over much way and through many perils, accompanied, as usual, only by his faithful attendant Talus, when he meets an aged man journeying alone, and recognises him to be an old knight named Sir Sergis, by whom Irena had been attended when he first saw her at Fairy Court. Sir Sergis informs him that Irena still lives, but that she is bound in prison, having been surprised and taken captive by Grantorto, when, at the time that Artegal had promised to meet and fight with the tyrant for trial of her right 'at the Salvage island's side,' she had gone thither, in full confidence that her champion would make his appearance. And now Grantorto is about to take her life, having fixed a day by which, if no champion shall present himself to justify her against him in battle, and to prove her innocent of the crimes with which he charges her, she must die.
"With his tender sense of justice and honour, Sir Artegal, sorely grieved, reproaches himself that he should have been the cause of drawing the fair lady into all this trouble and peril; 'But witness unto me,' he adds, — 'ye heavens! that know | How clear I am from blame of this upbraid: | For ye into like thraldom me did throw, | And kept from complishing the faith which I did owe.' Having been informed by Sir Sergis that ten days are all the time allowed her to provide a champion, 'Now turn again,' Sir Artegal then said; 'For, if I live till those ten days have end, | Assure yourself, sir knight, she shall have aid, | Though I this dearest life for her do spend.'
"As they ride along, however, they are drawn aside, pressed as they are for time, by a new adventure. They perceive a little way before them a confused rout of people; and, when they approach nearer, they see a knight pursued to and fro by a rude multitude who are trying to overthrow and capture him; while at some distance another body of them have got 'amid their rake-hell hands,' and are carrying off, a lady, who is crying bitterly and stretching out her hands to him for aid. The knight battles with his numerous assailants with the highest courage and energy, dealing among them blows on blows, 'gainst which the pallid death finds no defence;' but they are too many for all his efforts to drive them off.... Artegal and Sir Sergis now ride up to his assistance but they too fail to make any impression upon so great a multitude, and are forced to recede, — 'until that iron man | With his huge flail began to lay about; | From whose stern presence they diffused ran, | Life scattered chaff, the which the wind away doth fan.'
"The delivered knight now informs them that he is named Burbon, and had been well known and of great repute till this misfortune fell upon him, which, he says, all his 'former praise hath blemished sore;' and that the lady is Flourdelis, his own true love, although she has forsaken him — 'whether,' he adds, — 'withheld from me by wrongful might, | Or with her own good will, I cannot read aright'....
"Every reader sees that Burbon is Henry Bourbon of Navarre, or Henry IV. of France, that Flourdelis is the French crown, that the rude multitude are his rebellious Roman Catholic subjects, and that by his throwing away his shield is meant his change of religion, or recantation of Protestantism, in the year 1593. Spenser very distinctly intimates his own strong feeling upon this transaction. Artegal is made immediately to ask Burbon why in his danger and terror he should have thrown away his own good shield? 'That is the greatest shame and foulest scorn, | Which unto any knight behappen may, | To lose the badge that should his deeds display.' And, when Burbon, 'blushing half for shame,' has made the best excuse that he can, he still rejoins, 'Certes, sir knight, | Hard is the case the which ye do complain; | Yet not so hard (for nought so hard may light | That it to such a strait mote you constrain) | As to abandon that which doth contain | Your honour's style, that is, your warlike shield'....
"Burbon answers that when time shall serve he may possibly resume again his former shield, and argues that 'to temporize is not from truth to swerve.' 'Fie on such forgery,' said Artegal, 'Under one hood to shadow faces twain: | Knights ought be true, and truth is one in all.' He consents however to give him his aid in endeavouring to rescue the lady from the crew of peasants in whose hands she still is; and, chiefly through Talus and his iron flail, this is, with no great difficulty accomplished: — 'The rascal many soon they overthrew; | But the two knights themselves their captains did subdue.' When however, they get possession of the lady they find her 'neither glad nor sorry for their sight.' 'Yet,' it is added, — 'wondrous fair she was, and richly clad, | In royal robes and many jewels dight; | But that those villains through their usage bad | Them foully rent and shamefully defaced had.'
"When Burbon catches her by 'her ragged weed,' and would embrace her, she starts back in disdain and anger, bids him avaunt, nor will be allured by all he can either say or offer her; till Artegal addresses her on her extraordinary and unbecoming conduct: — 'What foul disgrace,' he says, — 'is this | To so fair lady, as ye seem in sight, | To blot your beauty, that unblemished is, | With so foul blame as breach of faith once plight, | Or change of love for any world's delight?'.... Burbon at length, without more ado, clasping her in his arms, takes her up upon his steed, and rides off with her, she apparently making no opposition.
"All this while Talus, who, it may be observed, never stops of his own accord when be has got fairly engaged at his favourite work, has been pursuing, scattering, and slaughtering 'the rascal many' in his usual tremendous style; but Artegal at last calls him off, and they resume, along with Sergis, their journey to the sea-coast" Spenser and his Poetry (1845; 1871) 2:250-58.
Prince Arthur overcomes the Great
Gerioneo in Fight:
Doth slay the Monster, and restore
Belge unto her Right.
It often falls in Course of common Life,
That Right, long time, is overborne of Wrong,
Through Avarice, or Pow'r, or Guile, or Strife,
That weakens her, and makes her Parry strong:
But Justice, though her Doom she do prolong,
Yet at the last she will her own Cause right.
As by sad Belge seems, whose Wrongs, though long
She suffer'd, yet at length she did requite,
And sent Redress thereof by this brave Briton Knight.
Whereof when News was to that Tyrant brought,
How that the Lady Belge now had found
A Champion, that had with his Champion fought,
And laid his Seneschal low on the Ground,
And eke himself did threaten to confound;
He 'gan to burn in Rage, and freeze in Fear,
Doubting sad end of Principle unsound:
Yet sith he heard but one, that did appear,
He did himself encourage, and take better Chear.
Nath'less himself he armed all in haste,
And forth he far'd with all his many bad,
Ne stayed step, till that he came at last
Unto the Castle, which they conquer'd had:
There with huge Terror, to be more ydrad,
He sternly march'd before the Castle-Gate;
And with bald Vaunts, and idle Threatning bade
Deliver him his own, e'er yet too late,
To which they had no right, nor any wrongful State.
The Prince stay'd not his Answer to devize,
But opening straight the Spar, forth to him came,
Full nobly mounted in right warlike wize;
And asked him, if that he were the same,
Who all that Wrong unto that woeful Dame
So long had done, and from her native Land
Exiled her, that all the World spake Shame.
He boldly answer'd him he there did stand,
That would his Doings justify with his own Hand.
With that, so furiously at him he flew,
As if he would have over-run him straight;
And with his huge great iron Axe 'gan hew
So hideously upon his Armour bright,
As he to pieces would have chopt him quite:
That the bold Prince was forced foot to give
To his first Rage, and yield to his Despight;
The whilst at him so dreadfully he drive,
That seem'd a Marble Rock asunder he could rive.
Thereto a great Advantage eke he has
Through his three double Hands thrice multiply'd,
Besides the double Strength, which in them was;
For still when fit Occasion did betide,
He could his Weapon shift from side to side,
From hand to hand, and with such Nimbless fly
Could wield about, that e'er it were espy'd,
The wicked Stroke did wound his Enemy,
Behind, beside, before, as he it list apply.
Which uncouth Use whenas the Prince perceiv'd,
He 'gan to watch the wielding of his Hand,
Lest by such Sleight he were unwares deceiv'd;
And ever e'er he saw the Stroke to land,
He would it meet, and wanly withstand.
One time, when he his Weapon fain'd to shift,
As he was wont, and chang'd from hand to hand,
He met him with a Counter-stroke so swift,
That quite smit off his Arm, as he it up did lift.
Therewith all fraught with Fury and Disdain,
He bray'd aloud for very fell Despight;
And suddenly t' avenge himself again,
'Gan into one assemble all the Might
Of all his Hands, and heaved them on hight,
Thinking to pay him with that one for all:
But the sad Steel seiz'd not, where it was hight,
Upon the Child, but somewhat short did fall;
And lighting on his Horse's Head, him quite did mall.
Down straight to ground fell his astonish'd Steed,
And eke to th' earth his Burden with him bare:
But he himself full lightly from him freed,
And 'gan himself to fight on foot prepare.
Whereof whenas the Giant was aware,
He woxe right blithe, as he had got thereby
And laugh'd so loud, that all his Teeth wide bare
One might have seen enraung'd disorderly,
Like to a Rank of Piles, that pitched are awry.
Eftsoons again his Axe he raught on high,
E'er he were throughly buckled to his Gear;
And 'gan let drive at him so dreadfully,
That had he chaunced not his Shield to rear,
E'er that huge Stroke arrived on him near,
He had him surely cloven quite in twain:
But th' Adamantine Shield, which he did bear,
So well was temper'd, that (for all his main)
It would no Passage yield unto his Purpose vain.
Yet was the Stroke so forcibly apply'd,
That made him stagger with uncertain Sway,
As if he would have totter'd to one side.
Wherewith full wroth, he fiercely 'gan assay,
That Court'sy with like Kindness to repay;
And smote at him with so importune Might,
That two more of his Arms did fall away,
Like fruitless Branches, which the Hatchet's flight
Hath pruned from the native Tree, and cropped quite.
With that, all mad and furious he grew,
Like a fell Mastiff thro enraging Heat,
And curs'd, and bann'd, and Blasphemies forth threw
Against his Gods, and Fire on them did threat,
And Hell unto himself with Horror great.
Thenceforth he car'd no more, which way he strook,
Nor where it light, but 'gan to chauf and sweat,
And gnash'd his Teeth, and his Head at him shook,
And sternly him beheld with grim and ghastly Look.
Nought fear'd the Child his Looks, ne yet his Threats,
But only wexed now the more aware,
To save himself from those his furious Heats,
And watch Advantage, how to work his Care,
The which good Fortune to him offer'd fair.
For as he in his Rage him over-strook,
He e'er he could his Weapon back repair,
His side all bare and naked overtook,
And with his mortal Steel quite through the Body strook.
Through all three Bodies he him strook attonce;
That all the three attonce fell on the Plain:
Else should he thrice have needed, for the nonce,
Them to have stricken, and thrice to have slain.
So now all three one sensless Lump remain,
Enwallow'd in his own black bloody Gore,
And biting th' Earth for very Death's Disdain;
Who with a Cloud of Night him coveting, bore
Down to the House of Dool, his Days there to deplore.
Which when the Lady from the Castle saw,
Where she with her two Sons did looking stand,
She towards him in haste her self did draw,
To greet him the good Fortune of his Hand:
And all the People both of Town and Land,
Which there stood gazing from the City's Wall
Upon these Warriors; greedy t' understand
To whether should the Victory befal,
Now when they saw it fal'n, they eke him greeted all.
But Belge, with her Sons prostrated low
Before his Feet, in all that People's Sight,
'Mongst Joys mixing some Tears, 'mongst Weal some Woe,
Him thus bespake; O most redoubted Knight,
The which hast me, of all most wretched Wight,
That earst was dead, restor'd to Life again,
And these weak Imps replanted by thy Might;
What Guerdon can I give thee for thy Pain,
But ev'n that which thou savedst, thine still to remain?
He took her up forby the lilly Hand,
And her recomforted the best he might,
Saying; Dear Lady, Deeds ought not be scan'd
By th' Author's Manhood, nor the Doer's Might,
But by their Truth, and by the Cause's Right:
That same is it, which fought for you this day.
What other Meed then need me to requite,
But that which yieldeth Vertue's Meed alway?
That is the Vertue self, which her Reward doth pay.
She humbly thank'd him for that wondrous Grace,
And further said; Ah Sir, but mote ye please,
Sith ye thus far have tender'd my poor Case,
As from my chiefest Foe me to release,
That your victorious Arm will not yet cease,
Till ye have rooted all the Relicks out
Of that vile Race, and 'stablished my Peace.
What is there else, said he, left of their Rout?
Declare it boldly, Dame, and do not stand in doubt.
Then wote you, Sir, that in this Church hereby
There stands an Idol, of great Note and Name,
The which this Giant reared first on high,
And of his own vain Fancy's Thought did frame:
To whom for endless Horrour of his Shame,
He offer'd up for daily Sacrifice
My Children and my People burnt in Flame;
With all the Tortures that he could devize,
The more t' aggrate his God with such his bloody Guize.
And underneath this Idol there doth lie
An hideous Monster, that doth it defend,
And feeds on all the Carcasses, that die
In Sacrifice unto that cursed Fiend:
Whose ugly Shape none ever saw, nor ken'd
That ever scap'd: for, of a Man they say
It has the Voice, that Speeches forth doth send,
Even blasphemous Words, which she doth bray
Out of her poisnous Entrails, fraught with dire Decay.
Which when the Prince heard tell, his Heart 'gan yearn
For great Desire that Monster to assay,
And pray'd the Place of her Abode to learn.
Which being shew'd, he 'gan himself straightway
Thereto address, and his bright Shield display.
So to the Church he came, where it was told,
The Monster underneath the Altar lay;
There he that Idol saw of massy Gold
Most richly made, but there no Monster did behold.
Upon the Image with his naked Blade
Three times, as in defiance, there he strook;
And the third time, out of an hidden Shade,
There forth issu'd, from under th' Altar's Smook,
A dreadful Fiend, with foul deformed Look,
That stretch'd it self, as it had long lien still;
And her long Tail and Feathers strongly shook,
That all the Temple did with Terror fill;
Yet him nought terrify'd, that feared nothing ill.
An huge great Beast it was, when it in Length
Was stretched forth, that nigh fill'd all the Place,
And seem'd to be of infinite great Strength;
Horrible, hideous, and of hellish Race,
Born of the Brooding of Echidna base,
Or other like infernal Fury's kind:
For of a Maid she had the outward Face,
To hide the Horror which did lurk behind,
The better to beguile, whom she so fond did find.
Thereto the Body of a Dog she had,
Full of fell Ravin and fierce Greediness;
A Lion's Claws, with Pow'r and Rigour clad,
To rend and tear what-so she can oppress;
A Dragon's Tail, whose Sting without Redress
Full deadly wounds, where-so it is empight;
An Eagle's Wings for Scope and Speediness,
That nothing may escape her reaching Might,
Whereto she ever list to make her hardy Flight.
Much like in Foulness and Deformity
Unto that Monster, whom the Theban Knight,
The Father of that fatal Progeny,
Made kill her self for very Heart's despight,
That he had read her Riddle, which no Wight
Could ever loose, but suffer'd deadly Dool:
So also did this Monster use like Slight
To many a one, which came unto her School,
Whom she did put to death, deceived like a Fool.
She coming forth, whenas she first beheld
The armed Prince, with Shield so blazing bright,
Her ready to assail, was greatly quell'd,
And much dismay'd with that dismayful Sight,
That back she would have turn'd for great Affright.
But he 'gan her with Courage fierce assay,
That forc'd her turn again in her Despight,
To save her self, lest that he did her slay:
And sure he had her slain, had she not turn'd her way.
Tho when she saw, that she was forc'd to fight,
She flew at him, like to an hellish Fiend,
And on his Shield took hold with all her Might,
As if that it she would in pieces rend,
Or reeve out of the Hand that did it hend.
Strongly he strove out of her greedy Gripe
To loose his Shield, and long while did contend:
But when he could nor quite it, with one Stripe
Her Lion's Claws he from her Feet away did wipe.
With that, aloud she 'gan to bray and yell,
And foul blasphemous Speeches forth did cast,
And bitter Curses, horrible to tell;
That e'en the Temple, wherein she was plac'd,
Did quake to hear, and nigh asunder brast.
Tho with her huge long Tail she at him strook,
That made him stagger, and stand half aghast
With trembling Joints, as he for Terror shook:
Who nought was terrify'd, but greater Courage took.
As when the Mast of some well-timber'd Hulk
Is with the Blast of some outrageous Storm
Blown down, it shakes the bottom of the Bulk,
And makes her Ribs to crack, as they were torn,
Whilst still she stands astonish'd and forlorn:
So was he stunn'd with Stroke of her huge Tail.
But e'er that it she back again had borne,
He with his Sword it strook, that without fail
He jointed it, and marr'd the swinging of her Flail.
Then 'gan she cry much louder than afore,
That all the People (there without) it heard,
And Belge' self was therewith stonned sore,
As if the only Sound thereof she fear'd.
But then the Fiend her self more fiercely rear'd
Upon her wide great Wings, and strongly flew
With all her Body at his Head and Beard;
That had he not foreseen with heedful View,
And thrown his Shield atween, she had him done to rue.
But as she press'd on him with heavy Sway,
Under her Womb his fatal Sword he thrust,
And for her Entrails made an open way
To issue forth; the which, once being brust,
Like to a great Mill-dam forth fiercely gush'd,
And poured out of her infernal Sink
Most ugly filth, and Poison therewith rush'd,
That him nigh choked with the deadly Stink
Such loathly Matter were small Lust to speak or think.
Then down to around fell that deformed Mass,
Breathing out Clouds of Sulphur foul and black,
In which a Puddle of Contagion was,
More loath'd than Lerna, or than Stygian Lake,
That any Man would nigh awhaped make.
Whom when he saw on ground, he was full glad.
And straight went forth his Gladness to partake
With Belge, who watch'd all this while full sad,
Waiting what end would be of that same Danger drad.
Whom when she saw so joyously come forth,
She 'gan rejoice, and shew triumphant Chear,
Lauding and praising his renowned Worth,
By all the Names that honourable were.
Then in he brought her, and her shewed there
The Present of his Pains, that Monster's Spoil,
And eke that Idol deem'd so costly dear;
Whom he did all to pieces break and foil
In filthy Dirt, and left so in the loathly Soil.
Then all the People, which beheld that Day
'Gan shout aloud, that unto Heav'n it rong;
And all the Damsels of that Town in ray,
Came dauncing forth, and joyous Caroles song:
So him they led through all their Streets along,
Crowned with Girlonds of immortal Bays;
And all the Vulgar did about them throng,
To see the Man, whose everlasting Praise
They all were bound to all Posterities to raise.
There he with Belge did awhile remain,
Making great Feast and joyous Merriment,
Until he had her settled in her Reign,
With safe Assurance and Establishment.
Then to his first Emprise his Mind he lent,
Full loath to Belge, and to all the rest:
Of whom yet taking leave, thenceforth he went,
And to his former Journey him address'd
On which long way he rode, ne ever day did rest.
But turn we now to noble Arthegal;
Who, having left Mercilla, straightway went
On his first Quest, the which him forth did call,
To weet, to work Irena's Franchisement,
And eke Grantorto's worthy punishment.
So forth he fared as his manner was,
With only Talus waiting diligent,
Through many Perils, and much way did pass,
Till nigh unto the Place at length approach'd he has.
There as he travel'd by the way, he met
An aged Wight, wayfaring all alone,
Who through his Years long since aside had set
The Use of Arms, and Battel quite forgone:
To whom as he approach'd, he knew anon,
That it was he which whilom did attend
On fair Irena in her Affliction,
When first to Fairy Court he saw her wend,
Unto his sovereign Queen her Suit for to commend.
Whom by his Name saluting, thus he 'gan;
Hail good Sir Sergis, truest Knight alive,
Well try'd in all thy Lady's Troubles than,
When her that Tyrant did of Crown deprive;
What new Occasion doth thee hither drive,
Whiles she alone is left, and thou here found?
Or is she thrall, or doth she not survive?
To whom he thus; She liveth sure and sound,
But by that Tyrant is in wretched Thraldom bound.
For she presuming on th' appointed Tide,
In which ye promis'd, as ye were a Knight,
To meet her at the Salvage Island's side
(And then and there, for Trial of her Right,
With her unrighteous Enemy to fight)
Did thither come, where she (affraid of nought)
By guileful Treason, and by subtil Slight
Surprised was, and to Grantorto brought,
Who her imprison'd hath, and her Life often sought.
And now he hath to her prefix'd a Day,
By which, if that no Champion do appear,
Which will her Cause in battailous Array
Against him justify, and prove her clear
Of all those Crimes, that he 'gainst her doth rear,
She Death shall sure aby. Those Tidings sad
Did much abash Sir Arthegal to hear,
And grieved sore, thee through his Fault she had
Fallen into that Tyrant's Hand and Usage bad.
Then thus reply'd; Now sure and by my Life,
Too much am I to blame for that fair Maid,
That have her drawn to all this troublous Strife,
Through Promise to afford her timely Aid,
Which by default I have not yet defray'd.
But witness unto me, ye Heavens, that knew
How clear I am from Blame of this Upbraid;
For ye into like Thraldom me did throw,
And kept from complishing the Faith, which I did owe.
But now aread, Sir Sergis, how long space
Hath he her lent a Champion to provide:
Ten days, quoth he, he granted hath of Grace,
For that he weeneth well, before that Tide
None can have Tidings to assist her side.
For all the Shores, which to the Sea accost,
He day and Night doth ward both far and wide,
That none can there arrive without an Host:
So her he deems already but a damned Ghost.
Now turn again, Sir Arthegal then said:
For if I live till those ten days have end,
Assure your self, Sir Knight, she shall have aid,
Though I this dearest Life for her do spend;
So backward he attone with him did wend.
Tho, as they rode together on their way,
A Rout of People they before them ken'd,
Flocking together in confus'd Array,
As if that there were some tumultuous Affray.
To which as they approach'd, the Cause to know,
They saw a Knight in dangerous Distress
Of a rude Rout, him chasing to and fro,
That sought with lawless Pow'r him to oppress,
And bring in Bondage of their Brutishness:
And far away, amid their rake-hell Bands,
They spy'd a Lady left all succourless,
Crying, and holding up her wretched Hands
To him for Aid, who long in vain their Rage withstands.
Yet still he strives, ne any Peril spares,
To rescue her from their rude Violence,
And like a Lion wood amongst them fares,
Dealing his dreadful Blows with large dispence,
'Gainst which the pallid Death finds no Defence.
But all in vain; their Numbers are so great,
That nought may boot to banish them from thence:
For soon as he their Outage back doth beat,
They turn afresh, and oft renew their former Threat.
And now they do so sharply him assay,
That they his Shield in pieces batter'd have,
And forced him to throw it quite away,
From Danger's Dread his doubtful Life to save;
Albe that it most Safety to him gave,
And much did magnify his noble Name.
For from the Day that he thus did it leave,
Amongst all Knights he blotted was with Blame,
And counted but a recreant Knight, with endless Shame.
Whom when they thus distressed did behold,
They drew unto his Aid; but that rude Rout
Them also 'gan assail with Outrage bold,
And forced them, however strong and stout
They were, as well approv'd in many a Doubt,
Back to recule; until that yron Man
With his huge Flail began to lay about;
From whose stern Presence they diffused ran,
Like scatter'd Chaff, the which the Wind away doth fan.
So when that Knight from Peril clear was freed,
He drawing near, began to greet them fair,
And yield great Thanks for their so goodly Deed,
In saving him from dangerous Despair
Of those, which sought his Life for to empair.
Of whom Sir Arthegal 'gan then enquere
The whole Occasion of his late Misfare,
And who he was, and what those Villains were,
The which with mortal Malice him pursu'd so near.
To whom he thus; My Name is Burbon hight,
Well known, and far renowned heretofore,
Until late Mischief did upon me light,
That all my former Praise hath blemish'd sore;
And that fair Lady, which in that Uproar
Ye with those Caitives saw, Flourdelis hight,
Is mine own Love, though me she have forlore,
Whether withheld from me by wrongful Might,
Or with her own Good-will, I cannot read aright.
But sure to me her Faith she first did plight,
To be my Love, and take me for her Lord;
Till that a Tyrant, which Grantorto hight,
With golden Gifts, and many a guileful Word
Enticed her, to him for to accord.
(O! who may not with Gifts and Words be tempted!)
Sith which, she hath me ever since abhor'd,
And to my Foe hath guilefully consented:
Ay me! that ever Guile in Women was invented!
And now he hath his Troop of Villains sent,
By open Force to fetch her quite away:
'Gainst whom my self I long in vain have bent
To rescue her, and daily Means assay,
Yet rescue her thence by no means I may;
For they do me with Multitude oppress,
And with unequal Might do over-lay,
That oft I driven am to great Distress,
And forced to forgo th' attempt remediless.
But why have ye, said Arthegal, forbore
Your own good Shield in dangerous Dismay?
That is the greatest Shame and foulest Scorn,
Which unto any Knight behappen may,
To lose the Badge, that should his Deeds display.
To whom Sir Burbon, blushing half for Shame,
That shall I unto you, quoth he, bewray;
Lest ye therefore mote happily me blame,
And deem it done of Will, that through Enforcement came.
True is, that I at first was dubbed Knight
By a good Knight, the Knight of the Redcross;
Who, when he gave me Arms, in Field to fight,
Gave me a Shield, in which he did endoss
His dear Redeemer's Badge upon the Boss:
The same long while I bore, and therewithal
Fought many Battels without Wound or Loss;
Therewith Grantorto' self I did appall,
And made him oftentimes in Field before me fall.
But for that many did that Shield envy,
And cruel Enemies encreased more;
To stint all Strife and troublous Enmity,
That bloody Scutchin being batter'd sore,
I laid aside, and have of late forbore,
Hoping thereby to have my Love obtain'd:
Yet can I not my Love have nathemore;
For me by Force is still from me detain'd,
And with corruptful Bribes is to Untruth mis-train'd.
To whom thus Arthegal; Certes, Sir Knight,
Hard is the Case, the which we do complain;
Yet not so hard (for nought so hard may light,
That it to such a Straight mote you constrain)
As to abandon that which doth contain
Your Honour's Stile, that is your warlike Shield.
All Peril ought be less, and less all Pain
Than Loss of Fame in disadventrous Field;
Die rather than do ought that mote Dishonour yield.
Not so, quoth he; for yet when time doth serve,
My former Shield I may resume again:
To temporize is not from Truth to swerve,
Ne for advantage Term to entertain,
Whenas Necessity doth it constrain.
Fie on such Forgery, said Arthegal,
Under one Hood to shadow Faces twain;
Knights ought be true, and Truth is one in all:
Of all things to dissemble foully may befal.
Yet let me you of Courtesy request,
Said Burbon, to assist me now at need
Against these Peasants, which have me opprest,
And forced me to so infamous Deed,
That yet my Love may from their Hands be freed.
Sir Arthegal, albe he earst did wyte.
His wavering Mind, yet to his Aid agreed,
And buckling him eftsoons unto the Fight,
Did set upon those Troops with all his Pow'r and Might.
Who flocking round about them, as a Swarm
Of Flies upon a birchen Bough doth cluster,
Did them assault with terrible Alarm,
And over all the Fields themselves did muster,
With Bills and Glayves making a dreadful Luster;
That forc'd at first those Knights back to retire:
As when the wrathful Boreas doth bluster,
Nought may abide the Tempest of his Ire,
Both Man and Beast do fly, and Succour do enquire.
But whenas overblowen was that Brunt,
Those Knights began afresh them to assail,
And all about the Fields like Squirrels hunt;
But chiefly Talus with his iron Flail,
'Gainst which no Flight nor Rescue mote avail,
Made cruel Havock of the baser Crew,
And chaced them both over Hill and Dale;
The rascal Many soon they overthrew;
But the two knights themselves their Captains did subdue.
At last, they came whereas that Lady bode;
Whom now her Keepers have forsaken quite,
To save themselves and scatter'd were abroad:
Her half dismay'd they found in doubtful Plight,
As neither glad nor sorry for their Sight;
Yet wondrous fair she was, and richly clad
In Royal Robes, and many Jewels dight,
But that those Villains, through their Usage bad,
Them foully rent, and shamefully defaced had.
But Burbon, straight dismounting from his Steed,
Unto her ran with greedy great Desire,
And catching her Fair by her ragged Weed,
Would have embraced her with Heart entire.
But she, back-starting with disdainful Ire,
Bade him avaunt, ne would unto his Lore
Allured be, for Prayer nor for Meed:
Whom when those Knights so froward and forlore
Beheld, they her rebuked and upbraided sore.
Said Arthegal; What foul Disgrace is this
To so fair Lady, as ye seem in sight,
To blot your Beauty, that unblemish'd is,
With so foul Blame, as Breach of Faith once plight,
Or Change of Love for any World's Delight?
Is ought on Earth so precious or dear,
As Praise and Honour? Or is ought so bright
And beautiful, as Glory's Beams appear?
Whose goodly Light than Phebus' Lamp doth shine more clear.
Why then will ye, fond Dame, attempted be
Unto a Stranger's Love; so lightly plac'd,
For Gifts of Gold, or any worldly Glee,
To leave the Love, that ye before embrac'd,
And let your Fame with Falshood be defac'd?
Fie on the Pelf, for which good Name is sold,
And Honour with Indignity debas'd:
Dearer is Love than Life, and Fame than Gold;
But dearer than them both, your faith once plighted hold.
Much was the Lady in her gentle Mind
Abash'd at his Rebuke, that bit her near,
Ne ought to answer thereunto did find;
But hanging down her Head with heavy Chear,
Stood long amaz'd, as she amated were.
Which Burbon seeing, her again assay'd,
And clasping 'twixt his Arms, her up did rear
Upon his Steed, while she no whit gain-said;
So bore her quite away, nor well nor ill apaid.
Nath'less the yron Man did still pursue
That rascal Many with unpity'd Spoil;
Ne ceased not, till all their scatter'd Crew
Into the Sea he drove quite from that Soil,
The which they troubled had with great Turmoil.
But Arthegal, seeing his cruel Deed,
Commanded him from Slaughter to recoil,
And to his Voyage 'gan again proceed,
For that the Term approaching fast, required Speed.
[Works, ed. Hughes (1715) 3:827-43]