15 Jul As You Like It
Directed by Andrew Hilton
13 Feb – 22 March 2014 and in repertoire 22 April – 02 May
Production Photos © 2014 Mark Douet
Jack Wharrier Orlando
Paul Nicholson Adam
Matthew Thomas Oliver
Peter Basham Charles & William
Daisy May Celia
Dorothea Myer-Bennett Rosalind
Vic llewellyn Touchstone
Vincenzo Pellegrino Le Beau & Martext
Christopher Bianchi Dukes Frederick & Senior
Offue Okegbe Amiens
Alan Coveney Corin
Ben Tolley Silvius
Paul Currier Jaques
Hannah Lee Audrey
Sophie Whittaker Phebe
Director Andrew Hilton
Associate Director Dominic Power
Assistant Director Nicholas Finegan
Set & Costume Designer Harriet de Winton
Costume Supervisor Jane Tooze
Composer & Sound Designer Elizabeth Purnell
Lighting Designer Matthew Graham
Fight Director & Choreographer Jonathan Howell
Dialect Coach Gary Owston
Production Manager Chris Bagust
Company & Stage Manager Kevin Smith
Deputy Stage Managers Caroline Steele & Rhiannon Rutley
Assistant Stage Manager Kate Hilditch
Wardrobe Mistress Victoria Aylwin
★★★★ The Times Dominic Maxwell is enchanted by the gentle wit of this intimate new staging of the Bard … a fine example of how this studio theatre-in-the-round has consistently punched above its weight.
There are times in Andrew Hilton’s production when you want a bit more spectacle, but these are more than made up for by the clarity, intimacy and gentle wit that drives the show. As You Like It is not one of Shakespeare’s most painstakingly plotted plays: it needs to sprinkle love potion on its audience for us to fall under its spell. Yet from the moment that Dorothea Myer-Bennett’s Rosalind locks eyes with Jack Wharrier’s Orlando, it has a palpable attraction at its heart to go alongside its early 20th-century fashions. Harriet de Winton’s set is undecorated, give or take the odd Art Deco standard lamp set, but with a simple dappled lighting effect we believe that a bare stage is a forest.
Myer-Bennett is brilliant. Dragging up in exile, she turns male with a baggy peaked cap and a beige summer suit. She screams with girlish glee at the prospect of love, then murmurs with male sonority. She’s a rom-com heroine dancing between emotions with a sure grasp of Shakespeare’s language. She is knowing but sincere: when she comes on for her wedding, it’s as much a pleasure to see her drop the act as it was to see the act itself.
Among the rest of the cast of 15, Wharrier is a good-natured foil for her, Paul Currier makes Jaques a boozy prig, while Vic Llewellyn makes the fool Touchstone a funny uncle in hat, moustache and purple suit, urging the audience into a call-and-response when he mocks Orlando’s love poetry. In a story full of mirror images and double identities, Christopher Bianchi expertly exudes good cheer as the exiled Duke Senior and repressed rage as Duke Frederick … I’ve seen brasher, bigger productions of this play that never came close to the sense of discovery and joy that this offers. Dominic Maxwell
★★★★★ Stage Talk Magazine Soul-shaking love, unrequited love, love at first sight, lusty love, hopeless love – there’s an awful lot of love going on down in Bedminster, Bristol at the moment. And there, in an imagined Forest of Arden where dappled woodland glades are giving safety and shelter to those banished by a paranoid and despotic Duke, a magical theatrical performance by the Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory Company spins an enraptured audience around itself in a wonderful telling of As You Like It. If you only go to one show this year, make it this one.
Now in its fifteenth year since the company’s formation in 1999, this is an ensemble at the top of its game. Its second UK tour this summer will undoubtedly win it a growing army of supporters.
In a play that from its outset promises the darkest of outcomes, love is eventually to prove all conquering. This sparkling cast convince on all levels as evil is overturned, the righteous returned to power, and love finds closure down many a different pathway … To pick out individual performances would be to deny the sense of wholeness that Director Andrew Hilton has brought to this group of players. All are excellent. There were standout moments though. With a simple removal of an overcoat Christopher Bianchi as the icy Duke Frederick turned instantly and effectively into his deposed and banished but benign brother Duke Senior. Jack Wharrier had the stamina to convince as fearless Orlando, and the wrestling scene with Charles (Peter Basham), Duke Frederick’s professional thug, was athletic and sweaty enough to win the heart of a very passionate Rosalind (Dorothea Myer-Bennett). I loved Paul Nicholson’s portrayal of Adam, Orlando’s father’s old retainer, and Paul Currier as Jaques strutted with real gravitas amongst his fellow travellers.
The players doubled as musicians, and a perfect atmosphere was conjured throughout from accordion, guitar, flute and violin, culminating in a joyous dance scene. The sweet singing of Offue Okegbe, in particular, was a treat.
This is a jewel of a performance; I cannot recommend it highly enough. Simon Bishop
★★★★ Whats On Stage This is a highly enjoyable production with a superb central performance and another feather in Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory’s cap. The company has gone from strength to strength in recent years. John Campbell
★★★★ The Arts Desk As ever with Andrew Hilton’s vigorous and intelligent productions, there is much quality acting, and a devotion to delivering the text with maximum clarity. Mark Kidel
★★★★ Plays To See: Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory has once again produced something unique, enriching and magical.” (Emily Derbyshire 19.02.14)
★★★ The Guardian I must confess to a bit of a love-hate relationship with Shakespeare’s pastoral comedy. I love the idea of it, but I’m often disappointed by it in performance. Andrew Hilton’s revival for Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory, a company that has done so much to make the bard seem fresh to 21st-century audiences, highlights some of the play’s pleasures and flaws.
It is sometimes gloriously entertaining, particularly when at its most human in its depiction of the dizziness and pain of love. It is also a bit dull in its exploration of society in a state of flux and its endless wordplay. This production can’t escape the play’s overly schematic structure … Still, there is plenty to enjoy. Touchstone – played by Vic Llewellyn – is quite funny for once and has some entertaining sock business, and there is a hot-headed Orlando from Jack Wharrier, who seems genuinely astonished by love. Dorothea Myer-Bennett’s Rosalind is not as lovable as some Rosalinds, but she is certainly a force to be reckoned with: interestingly her actions often put her relationship with Celia (Daisy May) under some strain until Celia herself is touched by the madness of love.
When Rosalind decides to dress as a boy, there is a real frisson of excitement, and Myer-Bennett not only suggests the intoxicating joy of love but also that it can hurt like crazy too. Lyn Gardner
Plays International A new season of Shakespeare at The Tobacco Factory is always something to look forward to, and this in-the-round Bristol theatre is the ideal venue for Shakespeare’s mix of imaginary landscapes and magic realism. For their spring production, As You Like It, director Andrew Hilton has assembled an outstanding cast all expert at delivering each speech as if for the first time, so even the longest exchanges feel immediate and engaging. This production makes the most of its women (Dorothea Myer-Bennett as Rosalind and Daisy May as Celia both mesmerising) but inevitably the male energy predominates, though with an electric diversity through physical spectacle, music, visual gags, meta-theatricality – Touchstone and Jacques have more than a dab of Vladimir and Estragon about them – and dark psychological twists. Especially exciting are the moments when the forest glade of good Duke Senior abruptly morphs into evil Duke Frederick’s court: brilliant mood-shifts here by double-duke Chris Bianchi. Harriet de Winton’s vaguely 1940s costumes work superbly, and the minimal props are all that’s needed. A magical production which is touring the south of England until late June: highly recommended. Crysse Morrison
Shakespeare’s most Arcadian play is first placed in France, most probably in the French part of la forêt d’Ardenne, though a possible alternative is another Arden in the Périgord region, close to Bordeaux. A French setting, certainly, is what Shakespeare inherited from his main source, the 1590 prose romance Rosalynde by Thomas Lodge. Lodge’s Orlando-figure, Rosader, is the youngest son of Sir John of Bordeaux and his Rosalynde is the niece of the French King Torismond. Later in Shakespeare’s reworking we may feel – notwithstanding a lion and an olive grove – that he moves the action, seamlessly, to his own local Arden, that large area of farmed land and dwindling forest which stretched north-west from the River Avon in Warwickshire. Certainly, that is where some of the new characters he brings to the story – Audrey, William, Touchstone and Sir Oliver Martext among them – may more properly belong.
But the world to which Shakespeare refers – and in which lion and olive tree cause no surprise – is neither France nor England but a mythical one inherited from the Greek and Roman poets and identified with Arcady. That he grounds it in elements of reality and contemporary concern is central to his purpose.
The Arcadian Pastoral Scene
pas·tor·al adj. Of or relating to shepherds or herders. Of, relating to, or used for animal husbandry. Of or relating to the country or country life; rural. Charmingly simple and serene; idyllic. Of, relating to, or being a literary or other artistic work that portrays or evokes rural life, usually in an idealized way. Music: a pastorale. [Middle English, from Old French, from Latin pastoralis, from pastor, shepherd.]
The Passionate Shepherd to his Love
Come live with me and be my love
And we will all the pleasures prove
That valleys, groves, hills and fields,
Woods or steepy mountain yields.
And we will sit upon the rocks
Seeing the shepherds feed their flocks
By shallow rivers to whose falls
Melodious birds sing madrigals.
And I will make thee beds of roses
And a thousand fragrant posies,
A cap of flowers and a kirtle
Embroider’d all with leaves of myrtle,
A gown made of the finest wool
Which from our pretty lambs we pull,
Fair lined slippers from the cold
With buckles of the purest gold,
A belt of straw and ivy buds
With coral clasps and amber studs.
And if these pleasures may thee move
Come live with me and be my love.
The shepherd swains shall dance and sing
For thy delight each May morning.
If these delights thy mind may move
Then live with me and be my love.
The Nymph’s Reply
If all the world and love were young
And truth in every shepherd’s tongue
These pretty pleasures might me move
To live with thee and be thy love.
Time drives the flocks from field to fold
When rivers rage and rocks grow cold
And Philomel becometh dumb.
The rest complains of cares to come.
The flowers do fade and wanton fields
To wayward winter reckoning yields.
A honey tongue, a heart of gall
Is fancy’s spring, but sorrow’s fall.
Thy gowns, thy shoes, thy beds of roses,
Thy cap, thy kirtle and thy posies
Soon break, soon wither, soon forgotten –
In folly ripe, in reason rotten.
Thy belt of straw and ivy buds,
Thy coral clasps and amber studs,
All these in me no means can move
To come to thee and be thy love.
But could youth last and love still breed,
Had joys no date nor age no need,
Then these delights my mind might move
To live with thee and be thy love.
Sir Walter Raleigh
Libraries of pastoral poetry and romance have come down to us from the classical period and the Renaissance. Marlowe’s and Raleigh’s poems (Raleigh’s representing the ‘anti-pastoral’ mode) may now be the most commonly remembered, but the educated Elizabethan would probably have thought first of the Eclogues (poems on pastoral themes) of Vergil, Dante, Petrarch and Boccaccio, or of Spenser’s The Shepherd’s Calendar or of Sidney’s Arcadia. For the Elizabethan aristocracy in particular, pastoral was a key genre, and the shepherd the central character of both lyric and narrative works which ranged from the merely escapist to profounder meditations on city versus country, to religious and political allegory, and to satire.
In the simpler mode, these shepherds – unlike their real-life namesakes – are creatures of leisure, articulate and whimsical. They sit on grassy knolls, or by babbling brooks, on sunlit May mornings, playing on pipes and soliloquising or discoursing of passion, while their grateful sheep safely graze. They are remarkably well educated, often composing poetry stuffed with classical reference; and they rarely seem to work. Their life is, you might say, an urban dream of pastoral content, the only shadow commonly passing over them being misfortunes in love.
Lodge’s Rosalynde is absolutely typical, as here where he describes the scene that greets Rosalynde and Alinda (Shakespeare’s Celia) when they first come across the shepherds, Corydon (Corin) and Montanus (Silvius):
“… they rose up, and marched forward till towards the even, and then coming into a fair valley, compassed with mountains, whereon grew many pleasant shrubs, they might descry where two flocks of sheep did feed. Then, looking about, they might perceive where an old shepherd sat, and with him a young swaine, under a covert most pleasantly situated. The ground where they sat was diapered with Flora’s riches, as if she meant to wrap Tellus in the glory of her vestments: round about in the form of an amphitheatre were most curiously planted pine trees, interseamed with limons and citrons, which with the thickness of their boughs so shadowed the place, that Phoebus could not pry into the secret of that arbor; so united were the tops with so thick a closure, that Venus might there in her jollity have dallied unseen with her dearest paramour. Fast by, to make the place more gorgeous, was there a fount so crystalline and clear, that it seemed Diana with her Dryades and Hamadryades had that spring, as the secret of all their bathings. In this glorious arbor sat these two shepherds, seeing their sheep feed, playing on their pipes many pleasant tunes, and from music and melody falling into much amorous chat.”
Pastoral remained a key mode into the eighteenth century in poetry and art and also found expression in the landscapes of William Kent and Capability Brown. Even the layout of the stately home itself figured in this; the elegant proportions of the 18th century dairy of Kenwood House, and its elevated position commanding fine views over the park, are said to have been designed so that great ladies could spend leisure hours there playing at being milkmaids.
Although it is unworldly – because it is unworldly – uncomplicated pastoral answers a longing central to romance. Hero and heroine, while they invariably have the education and sensibility that only the wealthy can afford, have no burden of status or inheritance. Unlike their readers, therefore, they are free to love whom they will. No-one is watching over them, planning their alliances or measuring their wealth. Love is passion, pure and untramelled.
In ‘Rosalynde’ Lodge makes few concessions to reality. All his characters, aristocrats and shepherds alike, exchange carefully crafted verse; the shepherd Montanus sings his own sonnets, adds to them Latin tags, and at one point is so anguished that he is moved to express himself in highly-wrought rhyming French – see the excerpts we reprint later.
Shakespeare plays with the dream, but also questions and subverts it. His Arden romance is shadowed by “the icy fang and churlish chiding of the winter’s wind”, by Jaques’ bruised cynicism, and by a central game of love that is in some respects deadly serious.
The Elizabethan Pasture
Alongside the primacy of the fictional shepherd in the aristocratic imagination was the very real importance of sheep-farming in the fifteenth and early sixteenth century economy. British wool fetched good prices abroad – among other things financing the magnificent ‘wool churches’ of the Cotswolds and East Anglia – and, in a foretaste of the eighteenth and nineteenth century enclosures, poor subsistence farmers were expelled from the common land to turn large areas over to grazing. The decline in the ‘wool economy’ in the later sixteenth century might lie behind the decision of Corin’s absentee master to sell up.
Sheep have eat up our meadows and our downs,
Our corn, our wood, whole villages and towns,
Yea, they have eat up many wealthy men,
Besides widows and orphan children,
Besides our statutes and our iron laws
Which they have swallow’d down into their maws.
Till now I thought the proverb did but jest,
Which said a black sheep was a biting beast.
Thomas Bastard (from Chrestoleros 1598)
In Greek and Roman mythology, Hymen is the God of Marriage, usually represented as a young man carrying a torch. Whether Shakespeare intended him to descend from on high – as a deus ex machina – at the conclusion to his play, or merely be one of the play’s earthly characters assuming the symbols of his power, is one of the many fascinating choices every production has to make.
The Literate Shepherd in Later Years
Two excerpts from Andrew Murphy’s excellent book about Shakespeare’s working-class readership in the nineteenth century, Shakespeare for the People (Cambridge):
Betsy Cadwaladyr was born in Pen Rhiw in Wales in 1789. She was sent by her parents to a small-scale local school in Bala. Her father well understood the value of education, as he himself had received no formal schooling. A small farmer and sometime Methodist preacher, Dafydd Cadwaladyr had taught himself to read his native Welsh in the most extraordinary manner. Tending sheep on a mountain, he learned much of the alphabet from the owners’ initials tarred on the sides of the various flocks grazing on the hillside. Afterwards, leafing through the pages of the Llyfr Gweddi Gyffredin (the Book of Common Prayer), he recognised some of the letters, and `finding out their sounds in combination, he taught himself to read in the course of two months’!
Robert Skeen (b. 1797) of Tweedmouth, North Durham … writes in his autobiography of a shepherd friend and he tells of how this friend and a group of other shepherds circulated a small collection of books among themselves in a strikingly original manner: “The sheep-walks were very extensive, and in some places there were boundaries of loose stone walls. In certain crannies in these walls they agreed to deposit whatever books they might acquire – having first read them. The next who passed that way took the volume so deposited, leaving another in its place. The first, after being read, was carried miles farther on, and left in another similar depository; and so on, for a circuit of thirty or forty miles.”
No early quarto texts of this play have survived – many scholars believe there was no early printing – so our earliest text is that of the First Folio of 1623. The date of composition is uncertain but it is likely to be after Francis Meres’ list of Shakepeare’s plays – in which As You Like It does not appear – was entered in the Stationers’ Register on 7th September 1598. However, as the play itself was entered in the Register in August 1600, it is most likely that it was roughly contemporary with Julius Caesar and Twelfth Night and perhaps written only shortly before Hamlet.
However, there remain arguments for placing the play several years earlier, and the possibility that Meres simply missed the play off his 1598 list.
As You Like It is a radical reworking of Thomas Lodge’s engaging prose romance, Rosalynde or Euphues’ Golden Legacy (1590) – see the excerpts we print later in this programme. In his turn Lodge was inspired by The Tale of Gamelyn, once thought to have belonged in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, an attribution now dismissed by scholars. That poem tells of of Sir Johan of Boundys and his three sons. On his deathbed, and against the advice of his friends, Sir Johan bequeaths most of his property to his youngest son, Gamelyn. However, Gamelyn is a minor and so he and his property fall to the care of the eldest brother who treats Gamelyn like a servant and allows the property to fall into decay. The story is violent and bloody and has no element of romance, but although the poem was not printed until 1721 it is clear that Lodge – and possibly Shakespeare, too – was aware of it and inspired by it.
Other possible influences on Shakespeare include a play of 1599, Syr Clyomon and Clamydes (authorship uncertain), Tasso’s play Aminta (1581), Guarini’s Il Pastor Fido (1589) and Montemayor’s Diana Enamorada,translated from the Spanish by Bartholomew Yonge in 1598. It is assumed that Shakespeare took the name ‘Orlando’ for the play’s hero from Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso, perhaps via Robert Greene’s 1592 play, The Historie of Orlando Furioso, though Sir John Harington’s English translation of the original Italian poem was first published in 1591.
Rosalynde by Thomas Lodge (1590)
This romance, in prose and verse, Lodge claimed to have written to while away the hours on a long voyage to the Canaries. As in the play, the romance between Rosalynde and Rosader (Orlando) is the centrepiece, while the parallel romance – that between Phoebe and Montanus (Silvius) – Lodge gives greater prominence than Shakespeare. Lodge’s work is vivid and engaging, though – lacking the range of character that Shakespeare introduced to the story – its tonal range is far more limited.
In this first excerpt, Saladyne [Shakespeare’s Oliver] meditates on how to ignore his late father’s instruction to care for his two brothers, Fernandyne [Jaque] and Rosader:
“Let him [Rosader] know little, so shall he not be able to execute much: suppress his wits with a base estate, and though he be a gentleman by nature, yet form him anew, and make him a peasant by nurture: so shalt thou keep him as a slave, and reign thyself sole lord over all thy father’s possessions. As for Fernandyne, thy middle brother, he is a scholar and hath no mind but on Aristotle: let him read on Galen while thou gamble with gold, and pore on his book till thou dost purchase lands: wit is great wealth; if he have learning it is enough: and so let all rest.”
In this humour was Saladyne, making his brother Rosader his foot-boy, for the space of two or three years, keeping him in such servile subjection, as if he had been the son of any country vassal. The young gentleman bore all with patience, till on a day, walking in the garden by himself, he began to consider how he was the son of John of Bordeaux, a knight renowned for many victories, and a gentleman famoused for his virtues; how, contrary to the testament of his father, he was not only kept from his land and treated as a servant, but smothered in such secret slavery as he might not attain to any honourable actions.
“Ah,” quoth he to himself, nature working these effectual passions, “why should I, that am a gentleman born, pass my time in such unnatural drudgery? Were it not better either in Paris to become a scholar, or in the court a courtier, or in the field a soldier, than to live a foot-boy to my own brother? Nature hath lent me wit to conceive, but my brother denies me art to contemplate: I have strength to perform any honourable exploit, but no liberty to accomplish my virtuous endeavours: those good parts that God hath bestowed upon me, the envy of my brother doth smother in obscurity; the harder is my fortune, and the more his frowardness.”
With that, casting up his hand he felt hair on his face, and perceiving his beard to bud, for choler he began to blush, and swore to himself he would be no more subject to such slavery.
At the royal court, Lodge tells how Alinda [Shakespeare’s Celia] protests to her father, King Torismond [Duke Frederick] at the banishment of Rosalynde. Torismond then proceeds – a development modified by Shakespeare – to banish both the young women:
“If, mighty Torismond, I offend in pleading for my friend, let the law of amity crave pardon for my boldness; for where there is depth of affection, there friendship alloweth a privilege. Rosalynde and I have been fostered up from our infancies, and nursed under the harbour of our conversing together with such private familiarities, that custom had wrought a union of our nature, and the sympathy of our affections such a secret love, that we have two bodies and one soul. Then marvel not, great Torismond, if, seeing my friend distressed, I find myself perplexed with a thousand sorrows; for her virtuous and honourable thoughts, which are the glories that maketh women excellent, they be such as may challenge love, and raze out suspicion. Her obedience to your majesty I refer to the censure of your own eye, that since her father’s exile hath smothered all griefs with patience, and in the absence of nature, hath honoured you with all duty, as her own father by nouriture, not in word uttering any discontent, nor in thought, as far as conjecture may reach, hammering on revenge; only in all her actions seeking to please you, and to win my favour. Her wisdom, silence, chastity, and other such rich qualities, I need not decipher; only it rests for me to conclude in one word, that she is innocent. If then, fortune, who triumphs in a variety of miseries, hath presented some envious person (as minister of her intended stratagem) to taint Rosalynde with any surmise of treason, let him be brought to her face, and confirm his accusation by witnesses; which proved, let her die, and Alinda will execute the massacre. If none can avouch any confirmed relation of her intent, use justice, my lord, it is the glory of a king, and let her live in your wonted favour; for if you banish her, myself, as copartner of her hard fortunes, will participate in exile some part of her extremities.”
Torismond, at this speech of Alinda, covered his face with such a frown, as tyranny seemed to sit triumphant in his forehead, and stopped her with such taunts, as made the lords, that only were hearers, to tremble.
“Proud girl,” quoth he, “hath my looks made thee so light of tongue, or my favours encouraged thee to be so forward, that thou darest presume to preach after thy father? Hath not my years more experience than thy youth, and the winter of mine age deeper insight into civil policy, than the spring of thy flourishing days? The old lion avoids the toils, where the young one leaps into the net: the care of age is provident and foresees much: suspicion is a virtue, where a man holds his enemy in his bosom. Thou, fond girl, measurest all by present affection, and as thy heart loves, thy thoughts decide; but if thou knowest that in liking Rosalynde thou hatchest up a bird to peck out thine own eyes, thou wouldst entreat as much for her absence as now thou delightest in her presence. But why do I allege policy to thee? Sit you down, housewife, and fall to your needle: if idleness make you so wanton, or liberty so malapert, I can quickly tie you to a sharper task. And you, maid, this night be packing, either into Arden to your father, or whither best it shall content your humour, but in the court you shall not abide.”
This rigorous reply of Torismond nothing amazed Alinda, for still she prosecuted her plea in the defence of Rosalynde, wishing her father, if his censure might not be reversed, that he would appoint her partner of her exile; which if he refused to do, either she would by some secret means steal out and follow her, or else end her days with some desperate kind of death. When Torismond heard his daughter so resolute, his heart was so hardened against her, that he set down a definite and peremptory sentence, that they should both be banished, which presently was done, the tyrant rather choosing to hazard the loss of his only child than anyways to put in question the state of his kingdom; so suspicious and fearful is the conscience of an usurper. Well, although his lords persuaded him to retain his own daughter, yet his resolution might not be reversed, but both of them must away from the court without either more company or delay. In he went with great melancholy, and left these two ladies alone.
Much later, in Arden, the shepherd Corydon [Corin] invites ‘Aliena’ and ‘Ganymede’ to observe the shepherd Montanus [Silvius] attempting unsuccessfully to woo Phoebe:
“Oh, mistress,” quoth Corydon, “you have a long time desired to see Phoebe, the fair shepherdess whom Montanus loves; so now if you please, you and Ganymede, but to walk with me to yonder thicket, there shall you see Montanus and her sitting by a fountain, he courting with his country ditties, and she as coy as if she held love in disdain.”
The news were so welcome to them, that up they rose, and went with Corydon. As soon as they drew nigh the thicket, they might espy where Phoebe sate, the fairest shepherdess in all Arden, and he the frolickest swain in the whole forest, she in a petticoat of scarlet, covered with a green mantle, and to shroud her from the sun, a chaplet of roses, from under which appeared a face full of nature’s excellence, and two such eyes as might have amated a greater man than Montanus. At gaze upon the gorgeous nymph sat the shepherd, feeding his eyes with her favours, wooing with such piteous looks; and courting with such deep-strained sighs, as would have made Diana herself to have been compassionate. At last, fixing his looks on the riches of her face, his head on his hand, and his elbow on his knee, he sung this mournful ditty:
A turtle sate upon a leaveless tree,
Mourning her absent fere
With sad and sorry cheer:
About her wondering stood
The citizens of wood,
And whilst her plumes she rents
And for her love laments,
The stately trees complain them,
The birds with sorrow pain them.
Each one that doth her view
Her pain and sorrows rue;
But were the sorrows known
That me hath overthrown,
Oh how would Phoebe sigh if she did look on me!
The lovesick Polypheme, that could not see,
Who on the barren shore
His fortunes doth deplore,
And melteth all in moan
For Galatea gone,
And with his piteous cries
Afflicts both earth and skies,
And to his woe betook
Doth break both pipe and hook,
For whom complains the morn,
For whom the sea-nymphs mourn,
Alas, his pain is nought;
For were my woe but thought,
Oh how would Phoebe sigh if she did look on me!
Beyond compare my pain;
Yet glad am I,
If gentle Phoebe deign
To see her Montan die.
After this, Montanus felt his passions so extreme, that he fell into this exclamation against the injustice of Love:
Hélas, tyran, plein de rigueur,
Modère un peu ta violence:
Que te sert si grande dépense?
C’est trop de flammes pour un coeur.
Épargnez en une étincelle,
Puis fais ton effort d’émouvoir,
La fière qui ne veut point voir,
En quel feu je brûle pour elle.
Exécute, Amour, ce dessein,
Et rabaisse un peu son audace:
Son coeur ne doit être de glace,
Bien qu’elle ait de neige le sein.
Montanus ended his sonnet with such a volley of sighs, and such a stream of tears, as might have moved any but Phoebe to have granted him favour.
Finally, the denouement: Phoebe explains to King Gerismond (Duke Senior) how she is unable to love Montanus because she has fallen for Ganymede …
“ … I am in love with a shepherd’s swain, as coy to me as I am cruel to Montanus, as peremptory in disdain as I was perverse in desire; and that is,” quoth she, “Aliena’s page, young Ganymede.”
Gerismond, desirous to prosecute the end of these passions, called in Ganymede, who, knowing the case, came in graced with such a blush, as beautified the crystal of his face with a ruddy brightness. The king noting well the physnomy of Ganymede, began by his favours to call to mind the face of his Rosalynde, and with that fetched a deep sigh. Rosader, that was passing familiar with Gerismond, demanded of him why he sighed so sore.
“Because Rosader,” quoth he, “the favour of Ganymede puts me in mind of Rosalynde.”
At this word Rosader sighed so deeply, as though his heart would have burst.
“And what’s the matter,” quoth Gerismond, “that you quite me with such a sigh?”
“Pardon me, sir,” quoth Rosader, “because I love none but Rosalynde.”
“And upon that condition,” quoth Gerismond, “that Rosalynde were here, I would this day make up a marriage betwixt her and thee.”
At this Aliena turned her head and smiled upon Ganymede, and she could scarce keep countenance. Yet she salved all with secrecy; and Gerismond, to drive away his dumps, questioned with Ganymede, what the reason was he regarded not Phoebe’s love, seeing she was as fair as the wanton that brought Troy to ruin. Ganymede mildly answered:
“If I should affect the fair Phoebe, I should offer poor Montanus great wrong to win that from him in a moment, that he hath laboured for so many months. Yet have I promised to the beautiful shepherdess to wed myself never to woman except unto her; but with this promise, that if I can by reason suppress Phoebe’s love towards me, she shall like of none but of Montanus.”
“To that,” quoth Phoebe, “I stand; for my love is so far beyond reason, as will admit no persuasion of reason.”
“For justice,” quoth he, “I appeal to Gerismond.”
“And to his censure will I stand,” quoth Phoebe.
“And in your victory,” quoth Montanus, “stands the hazard of my fortunes; for if Ganymede go away with conquest, Montanus is in conceit love’s monarch; if Phoebe win, then am I in effect most miserable.”
“We will see this controversy,” quoth Gerismond, “and then we will to church. Therefore, Ganymede, let us hear your argument.”
“Nay, pardon my absence a while,” quoth she, “and you shall see one in store.”
In went Ganymede and dressed herself in woman’s attire, having on a gown of green, with kirtle of rich sendal, so quaint, that she seemed Diana triumphing in the forest; upon her head she wore a chaplet of roses, which gave her such a grace that she looked like Flora perked in the pride of all her flowers. Thus attired came Rosalynde in, and presented herself at her father’s feet, with her eyes full of tears, craving his blessing, and discoursing unto him all her fortunes, how she was banished by Torismond, and how ever since she lived in that country disguised.