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it is sure of one which is feelingly sorry for his misery: and the joyful spends not his joy, either alone, or there where it may be envied: but may freely send it to such a well grounded object, from whence hee shall bee sure to receive a sweet reflection of the same joy, and, as in a cleere mirrour of sincere good will, see a lively picture of his own gladnesse.”—p. 347.
Dorus informs his friend, that the Princess Pamela has, at length, consented to reward the fidelity of her lover, to fly with him to Thessaly, of which he was the prince, and there become his bride; when it is agreed, Zelmane or Pyrocles shall follow as soon as he prevails upon Philoclea, who had now become acquainted with his real character, to accompany him. To facilitate their flight, Dametas and his family are despatched on fools’ errands out of the way; and taking jo. of their absence, Dorus escapes with Pamela, and, at length, reaches a forest, where Pamela, fatigued with her journey, composes herself to rest. Here we must leave them for a while, little expecting the calamities which are ready to befall them. In the mean time, Pyrocles, who, under the character of Zelmane, is hard bested between the doting love of Basilius, and the raging jealousy of Gynecia, in order to appease the latter, who threatens, if slighted, to betray his disguise, finds it necessary to pretend compliance with her wishes; and, accordingly, appoints to meet her at midnight in a cave in the forest. In the same place, he makes an assignation, also, with Basilius, and he, as .. Gynecia, are caught in the snare, and meet each other at the place of appointment, without discovering, till morning, the fraud that had been practised upon them. Gynecia, on her discovery of it, resolves to make the best use of her situation, and charges Basilius with his infidelity, which, she tells him, has thus obliged her to follow him to his haunts, and disappoint his purpose. In the midst of her reproaches, Basilius happens to meet with a cup brought by Gynecia, in which was contained a potion, which she had designed to administer to Zelmane; and, being thirsty, quaffs it off, which he has no sooner done than he falls down, to all appearance deprived of life. Pyrocles, having thus . histormentors, now bends his footsteps towards the apartment of the Princess Philoclea, whom he finds uttering complaints against the air of coldness and desertion which he had been obliged to put on to deceive the jealousy of Gynecia. Of his fidelity, he soon re-assures Philoclea, but has the mortification to find her, from the anguish she had sustained, utterly incapable of taking advantage of the opportunity of escape which presented itself. At this crisis, Dametas returns from the quest about which Dorus had sent him, and finds the Princess Pamela escaped. Half mad with surprise and fear, Dametas flies to the apartment of Philoclea to satisfy himself whether she has not, also, departed with her sister. Here he finds Zelmane, whom his dress discovers to be a man, reposing by the sleeping Philoclea, whom sorrow had composed to a transitory slumber. Aware of the importance of this discovery, and hoping, by making it known, to save himself from the punishment due to his neglect in suffering Pamela to escape, Dametas locks the door, and thus deprives Pyrocles of all means of egress from the chamber of the princess. Upon awaking, Pyrocles finds himself a prisoner; and, listening from the window, hears Dametas detailing to the crowd below his strange discovery. By the Arcadian laws, all violations of chastity were punished with death; and the mind of Pyrocles is penetrated with anguish at the danger in which he had involved the innocent Philoclea, to convict whom, his being found in her chamber and the evidence of Dametas would be grounds sufficient. To exculpate her and vindicate her reputation, his love prompts him to offer violence to himself, that thus his death might be supposed to have been occasioned by her resolute resistance in the defence of her chastity, and her character and person eventually be saved from disgrace. But from this her tears and entreaties dissuade him, and he desists from his attempt, yet not until he has wounded himself severely. It would not, perhaps, be easy, in the whole range of tragedy, to show any thing superior to the loftiness and magnanimity of the reasonings he adopts to induce her to allow him to be a sacrifice for her.
In the mean time, Gynecia, who, upon seeing the king fall down, to all appearance, dead, had become the prey of anguish and remorse for her intended crime of infidelity, resolves, as some expiation of it, to accuse herself, though innocent, before the people as the murderer t>f the king; and abandons herself to lamentations. In this state, she is met by some shepherds, to whom she charges herself with the murder, and from them Philanax, the faithful servant of the king, becomes acquainted with the news. Impatient to punish the commission of so execrable a crime, he comes, with a guard, to. take charge of her, and commit her to confinement till the hour of her trial should arrive. Being, also, informed, by Dametas, of his discovery, Philanax proceeds to the apartment of Philoclea, and finding Pyrocles still there, delivers him to a guard as companion in guilt with Gynecia; and as, besides his supposed seduction of Philoclea, an accomplice in the murder of Basilius. In vain, the gentle-minded Philoclea endeavours to vindicate her lover and herself to the hard-hearted Philanax, who, sternly and rigidly severe, forgets, in his desire to revenge his dead master, the duty and respect due to his living representatives. Another prisoner is destined to be added to these; and he is, Musidorus, whom we left with Pamela, on his journey to the nearest seaort, designing to embark with her from thence to Thessaly. hile they are on their way, they are met by “a rascal companie,” a part of those rebels who came, in tumultuous array, to offer *: to Basilius, but were prevented and dispersed by the two princes. Having no hope of pardon, they had wandered for a long time in the woods, and, at length, by an unfortunate chance, lighted upon Musidorus and Pamela, who were immediately recognized by the rabble, and suspected to be fugitives. Partly instigated by the desire of revenging themselves on Musidorus, and partly actuated by the hope of procuring pardon for their late offence, they resolve to capture the lovers, and carry them back to the king. By the stratagem of one of the gang, Musidorus is taken prisoner, and unwillingly obliged to retrace his footsteps to the royal habitation. Here he is delivered into the hands of Philanax, who, overjoyed to gain a fresh prey, whom he considers as not less deserving of punishment than Pyrocles and Gynecia, for attempting to carry away the heiress of the throne, commits Musidorus to the same confinement as his friend had before been consigned to, and already dooms them, in imagination, to tortures and to death. Philanax, though loyal and faithful to his dead master, is cruel and ambitious: perceiving that the two princes would be obstacles in his road to greatness, he determines to remove them out of his way, and breathes against them nothing but inextinguishable hate. His appears to #. a character compounded of mixed and opposite qualities; yet, unfortunately for his prisoners, both the good and evil principles of his mind equally serve to spur him on to their destruction. In vain, the Princess Pamela vindicates her . of choice, and threatens him with her future vengeance, when possessed of the throne of Arcadia: he determines to prosecute the severity of his vengeance, and rather, if compelled, to put them to death privately and without trial, than suffer them to escape. All of the Arcadian noblemen are, however, not so relentless as Philanax: Kalander, the old host of Musidorus, uses all his endeavours to procure their liberation, and, winning over several others to his side, causes a diversion in favour of the prisoners, till, at last, both sides are almost prepared to second their opinions with force. While this tumult is continuing, intelligence is brought of the arrival of Euarchus, King of Macedon, who had come for the purpose of visiting his old friend Basilius; and, on learning his unhappy fate, had sent to the Arcadian council, requesting them to allow him to remain and be present at the funeral of his friend. The reputation of Euarchus for wisdom and justice is so universally established, that he appears to Philanax to be the change the never-changing justice. No, no, Pyrocles and Musidorus, I preferre you much before my life, but I preferre justice as farre before you: while you did like your selves, my body should willingly have been your shield, but I cannot keep you from the effects of your own doing: nay, I cannot in this case acknowledge you for mine; for never had I shepheard to my nephew, nor ever had woman to my son; your vices have degraded you from being princes, and have disanull'd your birthright. Therefore, if there be any thing left in you of princely vertue, shew it in constant suffering, that your unprincely dealing hath purchased unto you. For my part I must tell you, you have forced a father to rob himselfe of his children. Doe you, therefore, O, Philanax, and you my other lords of this countrey, see the judgement be rightly performed, in time, place, and manner, as before appointed. With that, though hee would have refrained them, a man might perceive the teares drop downe his long white beard."—p. 479.
The princes intercede for each other, but Euarchus is immoveable. At this juncture, the body of Basilius, which had been placed near the seat of judgment during the trial, is seen to move, and he regains animation, having recovered from the effects of the draught he had imbibed, which, in reality, was only a sleeping potion. The sequel of the story may easily be conceived. The fame of Gynecia is cleared up by the asseverations of her husband, and she is considered as a paragon of fidelity and conjugal love. Basilius, effectually cured of his passion for Zelmane, marries his daughters to the two princes, who, after many rejoicings, depart to their respective kingdoms, and thus the oracle is accomplished.
Such is the outline of this interesting story: to continue and supply which, many attempts were made by different authors during the period when its celebrity continued, and brought with it the usual concomitant of familiar acquaintance, the desire of imitation. Amongst these, Sir William Alexander, afterwards Earl of Sterling, may be mentioned, who has attempted to supply the defect existing in the third book, as an imitator not unworthy of Sidney. This performance, as well as the other continuations, is a proof, from the exactness with which the style of Sidney is copied, how great a portion of attention had been paid to its model, and what labour and care were exerted to rival the excellencies of its original. All these attempts, indeed, are, as good imitations, deserving of praise; and, perhaps, that of Johnstoun is the best, but, like all other imitations, they want the spirit of originality; and, however closely they resemble their precursor in its outward accompaniments, have little of its peculiar and inward character.
The modernization of the Arcadia, by Mrs. Stanley, has little to recommend it. With most meritorious industry she has managed, with its occasional quaintnesses and conceits, to remove all the charms of diction and freshness of expression, which the work itself possessed, and to convert the felicitousness and force of its language into prettiness and insipidity. Such transmutations of the original productions of genius, such meltings down of the massive gold of our ancestors for the purposes of modern frippery, have much of bad taste in them, if not something of profanation. They resemble, in the boldness of their attempts and the weakness of their execution, the impotent endeavours of the modern Greeks, to repair the mighty monuments of their forefathers' power and politeness; “who,” to use the words of a great author, “can do no more for the preservation of those admirable specimens of art, than to whitewash the Parian marble with chalk, and incrust the porphy and granite with tiles and potsherds.” To those only can suc literary metamorphoses present attraction, who prefer Shakspeare fresh from the alembic of Dryden, and are wishful to see all the bold irregularities and exquisite touches of genius transformed to one flat level of even mediocritv. Of the poetry interspersed in the oralia, there is much good, but much more bad, in its composition. It is not, however, our present design to consider Sir Philip in his poetical character. We shall only observe by the way, that, in general, his prose is much superior to his poetry. There is frequently about the latter, and particularly in his sonnets, a kind of clogged and cumbrous restraint, which appears to shackle and confine the natural and accustomed play of his thoughts, in attempting to bound himself within the limits of verse. The breathings of his feeling do not proceed in their usual unobstructed manner, and his spirit does not seem to move at large under the incumbrance to which it is subjected. There is, also, a more frequent recurrence of conceit, and mean and unsuited images, disgracing sentiments lofty and elevated, by their juxta-position. The success of his injudicious attempt to model the English metre after the example of the Roman is well known, and the reasons of his failure are too evident to need any exposition. Of his poetry, the following specimen, part of a very beautiful song, shall suffice.