Page images
PDF
EPUB

LILLY.

JOHN LILLY was born in the Weald of Kent, about the year 1553. At the age of 16, he entered at Magdalene College, Oxford, and in 1573, and 1575, took his degrees in arts. In the university, he distinguished himself as a wit and a poet, rather than by his attention to the more grave and academical studies of logic and philosophy.

Having, as he informs us, received some ill treatment from Oxford, he afterwards removed to Cambridge.

In 1579, we find him at court, and a favourite with the great, through whose interest he was recommended to queen Elizabeth, who honoured the performance of several of his Comedies with her presence. Scarcely any other particulars of his life are known; except that, he himself intimates he was ten years a public reader in one of the universities, which, from the silence of Wood, the Oxford antiquary, we may infer was Cambridge. We are not informed even of the time of his death; and Wood only expresses his belief that he was alive when his last comedy was published, which was in 1597.

The only known prose composition extant of Lilly, is a work divided into two parts, of which the first is entitled, “Euphues," the second, “ Euphues and his England.” The designed tendency of the book is moral; and treats of the duties and likewise of the errors of the parent, the child, the student, the traveller, the philosopher, the divine, the courtier, and the contemplative or retired man. He is very severe too against the follies and faults of the ladies; and satyrises with keenness the libertine manners of the universities. He chooses, as the vehicle of his satyr and of his moral instructions, a fictitious story. Euphues is a young Athenian of birth and fortune, distinguished for the beauty of his person, for his wit, his amorous temperament, and roving disposition. While on his travels at Naples, he becomes the rival of his friend Philautus, in the love of Lucilla, a coquet, who, after draining his purse, forsakes him. Thus jilted, he is transported with indignation, inveighs bitterly against all women, and resolves to renounce entirely their society, for the calmer pleasures of retirement and study.

Under the influence of these feelings, he writes a long letter, or rather a pamphlet, to his friend, Philautus, which he leaves in his study, and entitles,' “ A Cooling Card for Philautus, and all Fond Lovers."

Philautus, if there be any man in despair to obtain his purpose ; or so obstinate in his opinion, that having lost his freedom by folly, would also lose his life for love, let him repair hither, and he shall reap such profit, as will either quench his flames, or assuage his fury ; either cause him to renounce his lady as most pernicious, or redeem his liberty as most precious. Come therefore to me all ye lovers, that have been deceived by fancy, the glass .of pestilence, or.deluded by women, the gate to perdition ; be as earnest to seek a medicine, as you were eager to run into a mişchief.

If thou perceive thyself to be enticed with their

1

[blocks in formation]

wanton glances, or allured with their wicked guiles, either enchanted with their beauty or enamoured with their bravery, enter with thyself into this meditation.

What shall I gain if I obtain my purpose? Nay, rather, what shall I lose in winning my pleasure ? If my lady yield to be my lover, is it not likely she will be another's lemman ? and if she be a modest matron, my labour is lost. This therefore remaineth, that either I must pine in cares or perish with

Curses,

If she be chaste, then is she coy; if light, then is she impudent ; if a grave matron, who can woo her? if a lewd minion, who would wed her? if one of the vestal virgins, they have vowed virginity; if one of Venus's court, they have vowed dishonesty. If I love one that is fair, it will kindle jealousy ; if one that is foul, it will convert me into phrenzy. If fertile to bear children, my care is increased ; if barren, my curse is augmented. If honest, I shall fear her death ; if immodest, I shall be weary of her life.

To what end then shall I live in love, seeing always it is a life more to be feared than death : for all my time wasted in sighs, and worn in sobs, for all my treasure spent on jewels, and spilt in jollity, what recompence shall I reap besides repentance? What other reward shall I have than reproach? What other solace than endless shame? But haply thou wilt say, If I refuse their courtesy, I shall be accounted a mea

neacock, a milk-sop, taunted and retaunted with check and check-mate, flouted and reflouted with intolerable glee.

Alas, fond fool! art thou so pinned to their sleeves that thou regardest more their babble, than thine own bliss, more their frumps than thine own wel. fare? Wilt thou resemble the kind spaniel, which tle more he is beaten the fonder he is; or the foolish ejesse, which will never davay ? Dost thou not know, that women deem none valiant, unless he be too venturous; that they account one a dastard if he be not desperate ; a pinch-penny if he be not prodigal ; if silent a sot; if full of words a fool ? Perversely do they always think of their lovers, and talk of them scornfully, judging all to be clowns which be no courtiers, and all to be pinglers that be not cour

sers.

Seeing therefore the very blossom of love is sour, the bud cannot be sweet: in time "prevent danger, least untimely thou run into a thousand perils. *

Do you not know the nature of women, which is grounded only upon extremities? Do they think any man to delight in them unless he doat on them? Any to be zealous unless he be jealous? Any to be fervent in case he be not furious ? If he be eleanly, then term they him proud; if mean in apparel, a sloven;

« PreviousContinue »