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This, Rome's first Cæsar; these three of latter times
Great Charles of France it and the brave Bulloin
And this is Britain's glory,§ king'd thirteen times."|| I have already observed that this, though the usual, was not the invariable, way of nominating the worthies. Flattery would sometimes turn out a hero from his niche, and exalt into his place an individual of much inferior reputation. Perhaps the worst instance of the kind is the elevation of the bloated and heartless tyrant, Henry the Eighth, into a worthy. Sometimes too the caprice of poets or romancers would displace one of these legitimates for the sake of a favourite knight, though on such occasions the change was the less objectionable, as the substitutes were generally proper men enough. In a manuscript in the British Museum, we find "Sir Guy of Warwickk," superseding Godfrey of Boulogne, the said manuscript giving us the armorial bearings of the worthies, a great improvement upon our previous knowledge of heraldry.**
The ladies also had their worthies, and we find them recorded by Chaucer. According to him they wereQuene Sinope; Ladie Hippolyte; Ladie Deiphile; Ladie Teuca; Quene Penthesilea; Quene Thamyries; Ladie Lampede; Quene Semiramis; and Ladie Menalippe. As this goodly troop is for the most part made up of strangers, it may not be amiss to hear what the old poet himself has to say for his Lady-Worthies, and the rather as, with
* i. e. Julius Cæsar.
† i. e. Charlemagne.
i. e. Godfrey of Boulogne.
§ i. e. King Arthur.
The WORKS OF THOMAS MIDDLETON. Vol. v. p. 177.-The World Tost at Tennis.
See the Introduction to STRUTT'S SPORTS AND PASTIMES, p. 27. ** MS. p. 7, No. 2220. Harleian Catalogue.
the exception of his CANTERBURY TALES, his works are too much neglected now-a-days.
Profulgent in preciousnes, O Sinope the quene,
Of all feminine berynge the sceptir and regalie, Subduyng the large countrie of Armenie as it was sene,
For maugre their mightis thou ybrought them for to applie
O most renoumid Hercules, with al thy pompous boste
Yet Hercules wexed red for shame when I spake of Hippolyt,
She smote the unto the ground for all thy cruiltie;
The most noble triumphe of this Ladie Deiphile
In releve and succor of the gret Duke of Athenis; She chastisid and brought into perpetual exile
The aureat citizeinis of the mightie Thebis;
But she with her sister, Argife, them doune did cast
O pulchrior sole in beautie and full ylucident,
Of all feminine creturis the most formous¶ flour
* A mythological daughter of the Esopus, by Methone. + Urry reads in his edition, fighte, evidently a typographical blunder. HIPPOLITE is only another name for ANTIOPE, the queen of the
§ Deipyle, rather-the wife of Tydeus and mother of Diomedes; she was also the daughter of Adrastus.
|| i. e. "O brighter than the sun." Chaucer here drags in, with no very good taste, a phrase from the Latin.
Ti.e. FORMOSE, beautiful, an obsolete word from the Latin, formoOf the lady herself I never heard before.
In Italy reigning with gret chevalry right fervent,
O ye Trojanis, for this noble quene, Penthesila,
Sorrowe her mortalitie with dolorous compassion, Her love was towardis you so pregnant and fertile,
Which that against the proude Grekis made defension;
To lashe the Grekis to ground, and with their hert is joie
O thou most rigorous quene, Thamyris invincible,
Upon the strong and hideous peple of citees reining Whiche by thy grete power and by wittis sensible
Ytokist in battaile captive Cyrus, the grete King
Thou biddest him to drinkin of the blode he had thurstid,
* A queen of the Amazons, who was slain by Achilles at the siege of Troy.
+ Thomyris, Tameris, or Tomeris. Chaucer must have been sadly put to it for female worthies, when he elevated this fury to the rank of one. She was a queen of the Massagetæ, who, having defeated Cyrus and killed, according to Justin, two hundred thousand of the Persians, cut off his head and flung it into a vessel full of blood, exclaiming "satiate yourself with the blood for which you thirsted and of which you were always insatiable,”-satia te sanguine, quem sitisti, cujusque insatiabilis semper fuisti." (JUSTINI HIST. Lib. i. Cap. v.) Herodotus however has recorded that she condemned him to be crucified, which does not much mend the matter, though to be sure the Persian monarch had slain her son and Heaven knows how many of her barbarous subjects in a night-attack, which may be some excuse for her Scythian ferocity.
M. i.e. MILLIA, thousands-twenty two thousand of his host were
The famous loude trumpe ymade of gold yforgid so bright,
That al the land of Feminie, Europe, and Epheson,
Many an high toure she raisid, and ybilt touris long,
Lo, here Semiramis, the quene of grete Babilon!
The most generous gem and the flour of lovily favor,
Also the ladie Menalippe, thy sister so dere||
Whose martial power there was no man that coud withstand,
* ENVIRON is here used adverbially-about-" the trump of fame hath blown about her glory."
Whether a Worthy or not, the Lacedæmonian Lampido, as the poet should have written her name, was placed by fortune in a singular position, being the daughter of a Spartan king, the wife of a Spartan king, and the mother of a Spartan king-"Una fæminarum in omni ævo Lampido, Lacadæmonia, reperitur, quæ regis filia, regis uxor, regis mater fuit," says Pliny, (Historia Nat. Lib. vii. Cap. 52,) for which he has been taken to task by his commentators, who certainly have brought together not a few cases of the same description. See Lemaire's excellent edition of the Latin Classics-Vol. lx.-p. 316. Excursus ;-as well as the notes upon the text, p. 152. As respects the genealogy in question, Lampido was the daughter of Leotychides, the wife of Archidamus, and the mother of Agis, all Spartan monarchs.
i.e. Zoroaster, a king of Bactria.
§ Speght, in his edition of Chaucer, reads " she slue in Ethiop." There must be some typographical blunder.
The poet is any thing but clear in this passage. To whom does "sister dere" refer? certainly not to the Semiramis of the preceding stanzas, for she lived long after the time of Theseus. He must there
For thorough the wide world there was not yfound her pere ;*
And she sorely chastised him, and conquirid his lande;
A CERTAIN Lord of Argouges, near Bayeux, was protected by a fairy, whose name has not come down to us. She helped him to overcome a giant, and in the end crowned all her benefits by marrying him and bringing him immense wealth, while the only condition she exacted in requital of so much kindness was that he should never pronounce before her the word, death. He promised, and as the fairy was young, rich, handsome, and intelligent, they for a long time lived very happily together upon their feudal manor. One day, however, it so happened that they were to assist at a tourney in their chateau at Bayeux. The lady's palfrey stood in waiting for her at the castle-gate, but she was too much occupied with her toilette and was not yet ready. At last she made her appearance, as brilliant by her natural charms as by her dress, when the Lord of Argouges, somewhat impatient, it may be supposed, at the delay exclaimed, "Fair dame, you would be a good one to go in search of death, for fore mean, though the construction of the sentence is abrupt and ungrammatical, to break off from speaking of Menalippe, of whom he could know little or nothing, that he may relate the deeds, or what he chooses to consider the deeds, of her sister Antiope, the queen of the Amazons. By exactly reversing the facts of history he has exalted the lady into a conqueror; the truth is that Hercules in his attack upon these female warriors made a prisoner of her and bestowed her on his friend Theseus, according to the usual Greek mode of treating captives. This Antiope is the Hippolyte of Shakespeare's Midsummer's Night's Dream.
* i. e. peer, equal.