Lives of Fair and Gallant Ladies/Volume I

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Lives


Of


Fair and Gallant Ladies


By


The Seigneur De Brantôme


TRANSLATED FROM THE ORIGINAL



VOLUME I


Copyright, 1922, by

THE ALEXANDRIAN SOCIETY, Inc.


PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


This work is strictly limited to twelve
hundred and fifty numbered sets, which are
for sale only to subscribers. The type has
been distributed on publication and no more
will be printed.

Copy No. ……

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FOREWORD


This very fine and accurate translation of The Lives of Fair and Gallant Ladies was made by Mr. A. R. Allinson and because of its merit must be considered one of the great English translations, equalling in every quality those of the 16th and 17th centuries. The text of Brantôme's great work is given practically complete in these volumes and the only modifications are based upon good taste and not on any fearful prudery. A few of Brantôme's examples that illustrate his points belong more in a treatise on abnormal pathology than in a book of literary or historical interest and value, so nothing of any value is lost by omitting them. The rare charm, shrewd wisdom, amusing anecdote, literary merit and historical and social information will be appreciated by intelligent readers.

The cover design used on this book was made by C. O. Czeschka.

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BRANTÔME'S HANDWRITING.
(From a fac-simile page of the manuscript
Recueil des Dames. Biblio. Nat: Mss. Nouv. fses.
No. 20-474, folio 163.)

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DEDICATION

TO MONSEIGNEUR LE DUC D'ALENÇON

OF BRABANT AND COUNT OF FLANDERS

SON AND BROTHER OF OUR FRENCH KINGS

My Gracious Lord,

SEEING how you have full often done me the honour at Court to converse with me in great privity of sundry jests and merry tales, the which are so familiar and ready with you they may well be said to grow apace before men's very eyes in your Lordship's mouth, so great your wit is and so keen and subtile, and your speech the same, and right eloquent to boot,—for this cause have I set me to indite these discourses, such as they be, to the best of my poor ability, to the end that in this wise some of them may please you, making the time to pass lightly and reminding you of me in your conversations, wherewith erstwhile you have honoured me as much as any gentleman of all the Court.

To you then, my Lord, do I dedicate this present book, and do beseech you fortify the same with your name and authority, till that I may find leisure to attend to discourses of a more serious content. Of such I pray you note one in especial, the which I have all but finished, wherein I do deduce a comparison of six great Princes and Captains that be to-day abroad in this our Christendom, to wit: the King Henri III. your brother, Your Highness' self, the King of Navarre your brother-in-law, the Duc de Guise, the Duc de Maine, and the Prince of Parma, making record for each one of you of your noblest deeds of valour and high emprize, of your excellencies and exploits, the full tale and complement whereof I do resign to others better qualified than I to indite the same.

Meanwhile, My Lord, I do beseech God to bless you always more and more in your greatness, happiness and nobility.

And I am for all time

Your very humble and very obedient subject and very loving servant.

BOURDEILLE.1

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REGRETTING

THE DEATH OF THE DUC D'ALENÇON


I had already dedicated this second Part of my Discourses on Women to the aforesaid my Gracious Lord d'Alençon, the while he yet lived,—seeing how he oft did me the honour to be my friend and to converse very privily with me, and was ever right curious to be informed of mirthful tales. Wherefore, albeit his generous and valorous and most noble body hath fallen on the field of honour, I have not thought good for that to recall my erstwhile dedication; but I do repeat and renew the same to his illustrious ashes and noble spirit, of the valorousness whereof and of his great deeds and high achievements I do treat in their turn among those of the other great Princes and Captains. For of a truth he was indeed a great Prince and a great Captain, if such an one there was ever,—the more so considering he is dead so untimeously.

Enough of such serious themes; let us discourse a while of merrier matters.
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CONTENTS.

PAGE
Historical Note. By Henri Vigneau xiii

FIRST DISCOURSE
 
Of Ladies Which Do Make Love, And Their Husbands Cuckolds
3

SECOND DISCOURSE
 
On the Question Which Doth Give the More Content in Love, Whether Touching, Seeing, or Speaking
213
1. Of the Sense of Touch in Love 215
2. Of the Power of Speech in Love 226
3. Of the Power of Sight in Love 233

THIRD DISCOURSE
 
Concerning the Beauty of a Fine Leg, and the Virtue the Same Doth Possess
273

FOURTH DISCOURSE
 
Concerning Old Dames as Fond to Practise Love as Ever the Young Ones Be
293
Bibliography 341
Appendix A. Brantôme, by Arthur Tilley 345
Appendix B. Brantôme, by George Saintsbury 351
Notes 355