Montemayor's Diana

Page 486

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In many things the greatnes of their minde
They shew, contemning base and doubtfull feare:
As those, whose tender loue hath beene so kinde
Vnto their husbands, when they liuing were,
That all their moanes and sorrowes for their death
They ended soone, by stopping of their breath.
And if for vertue, and his chaste intent
Hippolytus deserued any praise,
On th’other side behold that excellent
And noble Roman Matrone in her daies
With stabbing dagger giuing vp the ghost,
I meane faire Lucrece, for her honour lost.
It was no doubt great valour in the youth,
As neuer like hath beene in all the rest,
Who vowing to his father faith and truth,
Deni’d his stepdames foule and fond request.
All which admit: Hippolytus is but one,
But thousands of Lucrecias haue beene knowne.
Giftes haue we more (our beauties set aside)
For in good letters famous haue we bin:
And now to prooue our iudgements often tride,
And sharpnes of our finest wits therein,
Let Sappho and Corynna well suffice,
Who when they liu’d, for learning got the prise.
And learned men doetherefore banish vs
Their schooles, and places where they do dispute,
For feare (if we should argue and discusse)
With praise we should their arguments confute:
Too proud therefore, they would not by their will,
That women should excell them in their skill.
And if some authors, scorned in their loues,
Haue written ill of women, in their hate,
Not this our credits any whit disprooues,
And can as lesse diminish our estates:
Since they themselues haue writ as ill of men,
Beleeue not then their lying toongs and pen.
Yet this doth cause some small and little change,
And alteration in our great desarts:
For they must needes (and sure it is not strange,
Considering their vile malicious harts)
In what soeuer they doe write or say,
To speake the woorst of women that they may.
But yet among these Authors thou shalt finde
Most famous women, and most excellent:
Peruse their works but with indifferent minde,


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