A discourse of the adventures passed by Master F. J.

8 - "...the being of this hellish bird..."

A wonderful change: and here a little to stay you, I will describe (for I think you have not read it in Ariosto) the beginning, the fall, the return, and the being of this hellish bird, who indeed may well be counted a very limb of the Devil.

Many years since, one of the most dreadful dastards in the world, and one of them that first devised to wear his beard at length -- lest the barber might do him a good turn sooner than he looked for it, and yet not so soon as he deserved -- had builded for his security a pile on the highest and most inaccessible mount of all his Territories. The which, being fortified with strong walls and environed with deep ditches, had no place of entry but one only door so straight and narrow as might by any possibility receive the body of one living man, from which he ascended up a ladder & so creeping thorough a marvelous straight hole attained to his lodging, the which was so dark & obscure as scarcely either sun or air could enter into it. Thus he devised to lodge in safety, and for the more surety gan trust none other letting down this ladder but only his wife, and at the foot thereof kept always by daylight a fierce mastiff close enkenneled which never saw nor heard the face or voice of any other creature but only of them two; him by night he trusted with the scout of this pretty passage, having nevertheless between him and this dog a double door with treble locks, quadruple bars: and before all a portcullis of Iron. Neither yet could he be so hardy as to sleep until he had caused a guard of servants (whom he kept abroad for that purpose) to search all the corners adjoining to his fortress, and then between fearful sweat and shivering cold, with one eye open and the other closed, he stole sometimes a broken sleep divided with many terrible dreams.

In this sort the wretch lived all too long, until at last his wife, being not able any longer to support this hellish life, grew so hardy as with his own knife to dispatch his carcass out of this earthly purgatory.

The which being done his soul (and good reason) was quickly conveyed by Charon unto hell. There, Radamanthus, judge of that bench, commanded him quickly to be thrust into a boiling pool. And being therein plunged very often, he never shrieked or cried, "I scald," as his other companions there cried, but seemed so lightly to esteem it that the judge thought meet to condemn him unto the most terrible place, where are such torments as neither pen can write, tongue express, or thought conceive. But the miser even there seemed to smile and to make small account of his punishment. Radamanthus, hereof informed, sent for him and demanded the cause why he made so light of his durance.

He answered that whiles he lived on earth he was so continually afflicted and oppressed with suspicion as that now only to think that he was out of those meditations was sufficient armor to defend him from all other torments.

Radamanthus astonied hereat, gan call together the Senators of that kingdom, and propounded this question: how & by what punishment they might devise to touch him according to his deserts?

And hereupon fell great disputation. At last -- being considered that he had already been plunged in the most unspeakable torments & thereat little or nothing had changed countenance, therewithal that no soul was sent unto them to be relieved of his smart but rather to be punished for his former delights -- it was concluded by the general council that he should be eftsoons sent into the world & restored to the same body wherein he first had his residence, so to remain for perpetuity and never to depart nor to perish.

Thus this body and soul being once again united, and now eftsoons with the same pestilence infected, he became of a suspicious man Suspicion itself.

And now the wretch, remembering the treason of his wife who had so willingly dispatched him once before, gan utterly abhor her and fled her company, searching in all countries some place of better assurance. And when he had in vain trod on the most part of the earth, he embarked himself to find some unknown Island wherein he might frame some new habitation, and finding none so commodious as he desired, he fortuned (sailing along by the shore) to espy a rock more than six hundred Cubits high, which hung so suspiciously over the seas as though it would threaten to fall at every little blast. This did Suspicion Imagine to be a fit foundation whereon he might build his second Bower. He forsook his boat and traveled by land to espy what entry or access might be made unto the same, and found from land no manner of entry or access unless it were that some courteous bird of the air would be Ambassador, or convey some Engines as whilom the Eagle did carry Ganymedes into heaven.

He then returned to Seas, and approaching near to his rock, found a small stream of fresh water issuing out of the same into the Seas -- the which, although it were so little and so straight as might unethes receive a boat of bigness to carry one living creature at once, yet in his conceit he thought it more large and spacious than that broad way called of our forefathers Via appia, or than that other named Flaminia -- he abandoned his bark and, putting off his clothes, adventured (for he was now assured not to drown) to wade and swim against the stream of this unknown brook, the which (a wondrous thing to tell, and scarcely to be believed) came down from the very top and height of this rock. And by the way he found six straight & dangerous places where the water seemed to stay his course, passing under six straight and low bridges, and hard by every of those places a pile raised up in manner of a Bulwark, the which were hollow in such sort as lodgings and other places necessary might in them commodiously be devised by such one as could endure the hellishness of the place.

Passing by these, he attained with much pain unto the top of the Rock, the which he found hollowed as the rest, and far more fit for his security than otherwise apt for any commodity. There gan Suspicion determine to nestle him self, and having now placed six chosen porters, (to wit, Dread, Mistrust, Wrath, Desperation, Frenzy, and Fury) at these six strange Bulwarks, he lodged himself in the vii. all alone, for he trusted no company, but ever mistrusting that his wife should eftsoons find him out, therein he shrieketh continually like to a screech owl to keep the watch waking, never content to sleep by day or by night, but, to be sure that he should not oversleep himself, gan stuff his couch with Porcupines quills to the end that when heavy sleep overcame him and he thereby should be constrained to charge his pallet with more heavy burden, those plumes might then prick through and so awake him. His garments were steel upon Iron, and that Iron upon Iron, and Iron again, and the more he was armed, the less he trusted to be out of danger. He chopped and changed continually now this, now that, new keys, new locks, ditches new scoured, and walls newly fortified, and thus always uncontented liveth this wretched hellhound Suspicion in this hellish dungeon of habitation, from whence he never removeth his foot but only in the dead & silent nights when he may be assured that all creatures (but himself) are whelmed in sound sleep. And then with stealing steps he stalketh about the earth, infecting, tormenting, and vexing all kinds of people with some part of his afflictions, but especially such as either do sit in chair of greatest dignity and estimation, or else such as have achieved some dear and rare emprise.

Those above all others he continually galdeth with fresh wounds of dread, lest they might lose and forgo the rooms whereunto with such long travail and good haps they had attained, and by this means percase he had crept into the bosom of F. J. who (as is before declared) did erst swim in the deepest seas of earthly delights.

Now then, I must think it high time to return unto him, who being now through feebleness eftsoons cast down upon his bed, gan cast in his inward meditations all things passed and, as one thoroughly puffed up and filled with one peevish conceit, could think upon nothing else, and yet accusing his own guilty conscience to be infected with jealousy, did compile this translation of Ariosto's xxxi. song as followeth.

What state to man so sweet and peasant were,
As to be tied in links of worthy love?
What life so bliss'd and happy might appear
As for to serve Cupid, that God above?
If that our minds were not sometimes infect
With dread, with fear, with care, with cold suspect,
With deep despair, with furious frenzy,
Handmaids to her whom we call jealousy.

For ev'ry other sop of sour chance
Which lovers taste amid their sweet delight
Increaseth joy and doth their love advance,
In pleasures place to have more perfect plight.
The thirsty mouth thinks water hath good taste,
The hungry jaws are pleas'd, with each repast:
Who hath not prov'd what dearth by wars doth grow
Cannot of peace the pleasant plenties know.

And though with eye we see not ev'ry joy,
Yet may the mind full well support the same.
An absent life long led in great annoy
When presence comes doth turn from grief to game.
To serve without reward is thought great pain,
But if despair do not therewith remain,
It may be borne, for right rewards at last
Follow true service though they come not fast.

Disdains, repulses, finally each ill,
Each smart, each pain, of love each bitter taste,
To think on them gan frame the lovers will
To like each joy, the more that comes at last:
But this infernal plague, if once it touch
Or venom once the lovers mind with grouch,
All feasts and joys that afterwards befall,
The lover counts them light or nought at all.

This is that sore, this is that poisoned wound,
The which to heal nor salve nor ointments serve,
Nor charm of words, nor Image can be found,
Nor observance of stars can it preserve,
Nor all the art of Magic can prevail,
Which Zoroastes found for our avail.
Oh, cruel plague, above all sorrows smart,
With desperate death thou slay'st the lover's heart.

And me, even now, thy gall hath so infect
As all the joys which ever lover found
And all good haps that ever Troilus' sect
Achieved yet above the luckless ground:
Can never sweeten once my mouth with mel,
Nor bring my thoughts again in rest to dwell.
Of thy mad moods and of naught else I think,
In such like seas, fair Bradamant did sink.

F. J.

This is the translation of Ariosto his xxxi. song, all but the last staff, which seemeth as an allegory applied to the rest. It will please none but learned ears, he was tied to the invention, troubled in mind &c.

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The Adventures of Master F. J. by George Gascoigne, 1573