Don Tarquinio
A Kataleptic Phantasmatic

Chapter IV


When the barge had swung free of the shoal of smaller boats by the quay, and had attained mid-stream, Ippolito anon emerged from his thoughts. I also emerged from mine. There was a gleam of hilarity in his black-eyed glance. I returned it. It was understood that we were setting trouble aside for the moment, and engaging each other in some feat of daring, as our manner was.

Having cast off his vermilion robes, Ippolito blessed his body; and forthwith smoothly plunged into the river, strongly swimming with a huge leap sideways and a circular sweep of alternate arms and a double downward thrust of his mighty haunches. I for a few moments watched him, while I strengthened my proper arms by swinging the heavy arm-shields, wooden, cylindrical, studded with


square knops, which we had used in our game of great-ball. Anon, having made ready, I climbed on the high shoulders of the steersman, standing there till Ippolito saw my whiteness; and so I dived into the barge’s wake, and swam.

The oarsmen diminished their speed to ours; and we swam between the right bank, where our Lord the Paparch kept His court in the Castle of Santangelo, and the left bank, where the army of the Keltic king inravished half the City. We continued swimming together under the new Xystine Bridge, and under the Cestian Bridge, and by the Island,1 until the barge was moored by the Estense quay in Trastevere.

Gigantic jatraleiptai,2 which Ippolito got out of Morocco, attended us when we climbed inboard. Their chestnut-coloured bodies were girdled with azure-green. Using pure oil of olives in which violets were macerated, they

1. The Island of Saint Bartholomew in the Tiber.

2. This is Don Tarquinio’s word for shampooers.


imparted friction with their hands to our chilled flesh. When my skin had the rosy glow of pomegranates, they robed me in a cloak of vair of nut-brown squirrels: but Ippolito muffled himself in the ermine and vermilion of his great-cloak, covering his head with a coif of the same. Chamberlains with vj torches went before him, iij went before me, when we left the barge and entered the palace. Our teeth chattered with cold, preventing articulate speech: but our bodies were warm.

There was an immense crowd of familiars along the quay and by the water-gate, free-lances from Ferrara, Gothic halberdiers, Dacian slingers, red-haired Skythian wrestlers very gigantic, roe-footed runners from Utter Britain, North African Moors, Ethiopic athletes, Indian acrobats, all selected for some singular physical beauty or capability. The crowd, as I have said, seemed to be immense: but considering that Ippolito was a prince as well as a cardinal, a family of merely cccc persons was by no means over-abundant.


Many barons and many sacredly purpled persons are well known to keep much larger families: but Ippolito cared more for quality than for quantity, and he cared nothing at all for ostentation or display. This trait of his character was very pleasing to me: for I myself at all times would rather have those exquisite things which no other prince hath, than a superfluity of those things which are common to all.

The water-gate, iron-barred, iron-shielded, clanged behind us. Armed footmen lined the stair. Slight vermilion pages, patrician on this side, plebeian on that, made obeisance in the xv antechambers. A bevy of delicate youngsters, whose hair glittered like cocoons in candlelight, joined our progress. Ippolito was wont to pay cccmd golden sequins1 for one of these specimens of The Creator’s handiwork; and he had collected no more than viiij. He told me this, seeing how greatly I admired them; and he described

1. About £7,000, or $30,000.


the difficulty which his agents had had in finding them, for there was no blemish on them from sole to crown. Thus conversing, we passed the wardrobe, where the master waited with his grooms and our gentlemen; and so we parted to go to our bathing-chambers. From this description, o Prospero, thou shalt know how a cardinal kept state in the days of thy father’s youth. But I will continue, that no single thing which I did on that day may be hidden from thee.

Well-grown pages, girt with white napkins, spread the floor-sheets and sponged my flesh with warm water, rubbing me with lupin-meal, alkaline, emollient. Having poured cold jasmine-water over me, and dried me with fine flax, they indued me with knitted under-garb of soft wool, swathing my wet hair with cloths. Wrapped in a woollen night-gown, I encountered Ippolito similarly arrayed in the wardrobe. The grooms produced various habits; and our pages deftly did them on us. Ippolito’s grand legs were sheathed in silk


hosen, tyrianthine-coloured. A loose doublet of the same covered his body. It was open on the breast and the long wide sleeves, shewing the laces and embroidery of his smock. His poignard dangled, from a golden belt formed of linked dryades and naiades. His cap and his shoes were vermilion. His pectoral cross was hidden in his smock; and his chain was set with those periapts which procure fearlessness and avert drowning, passion, incubi and succubi, videlicet carnelian, jasper, topaz, coral. And I must not omit to record that the sapphire of his ring, worth dc sequins,1 was engraved with a figure of the Heroic Herakles strangling the Nemean Lion, which inchanteth against colic and gaineth favour. But I, on my part, chose to wear no smock that night, preferring a certain habit of white silk which clung to my contours. It was shaped like an inverted chevron on breast and back, with broidered bands of pearls on silver; and I chose it by cause that I could

1. About £1,200, or $6,000.


breathe more freely when my throat was bare, for mine heart was very full of the joy which cometh to him who hath done well with his body. Indeed I hardly could stand still while the pages very carefully rubbed the delicate fabric on me, smoothing the wrinkles: but, when this was done, I knew that I had chosen rightly, for this habit was no restraint to me. A pointed belt of linked silver medals engraved with the loves of Leykippe and Kleitophonta bound a brief close flounce of silver-banded silk round my loins; and my boots were of white buckskin, clasped with silver at an handsbreadth below my knees. They also brought me a white silk cap proud with plumes, and a thick cloak of white velvet reversed with ermine.

So I stood, while Ippolito praised me, saying that I resembled Messer Verrocchio’s lithe thalerose image of David carven of shimmering mother o’ pearl. Concerning which same image, and concerning also the other image of David by Messer Donatello, I took occasion


to narrate the tragicomedy of the said images, and of the ij adolescents of Deira named Baldonero Fioravanti and Rufo Drudodimare, and of their doings with the white-faced cardinal.1 And the same history I shall put in an appendix,2 seeing that no more than the mention of it is pertinent to this present history. But my discourse was so pleasing to Ippolito that, when I had made an end of speaking, he sent to me a page with a tray of rings for mine acceptance. Wherefrom I chose vj for the adornment of my thumbs and my first-fingers and my third-fingers: videlicet a cockatrice, intagliate in green jasper, for averting the evil eye: a fair boy’s head well-combed, intagliate in smaragd, for preserving joy: an Apollino with a necklace of herbs, intagliate in heliotrope, which conferreth invisibility when anointed with marigold-juice: the Kythereia and Ares, intagliate in chal-

1. Rafaele Sansoni-Riarj, struck pallid at sixteen when he was expecting to be murdered by the Medici.

[2.] Which his present tralator takes leave to omit.


cedonyx, for gaining victories: the Anadyomene, intagliate in sea-blue beryl, fine, brilliant, very large, also for gaining victories: a silver ring set through on all sides with toadstone and ass-hoof, for augmenting manlihood and for protection against venom; and, having thanked Ippolito, I sent him the rest in the tray.

The patrician pages, who stood in our shadows, quietly quarrelled among themselves while they filled our burses with perfumes, comfit-boxes, kerchieves, combs, mirrors, amulets, tablets, rosaries, and other gear. We struck them in the rear with spatulas from time to time. Nor would we permit them to affix the said burses to our belts: for our forms would have been falsified thereby. Wherefore, they perforce were compelled to carry them, attending us closely, buffeted as occasion served. But we sat resting in arm-chairs, while the grooms covered us with sheets with fringes, drying and combing and scenting our raven-hued and yellow-silver hair.

For our solace, a chamberlain admitted a


pair of chaplains in black cymars with an arch-luth and a book of hours. They kneeled, and intoned vespers with completorium. At the Sign and Et fidelium animae, the bells of the City began to sound in a new manner, strange then to me, but familiar enough to thee, o Prospero, videlicet iij strokes, iiij strokes, v strokes, i stroke, xiii strokes in all.

I looked with inquiry toward Ippolito. He smiled: for he had been at the heart of things that day; and he said that it was the new ordinance of our Lord the Paparch.

Our coverings instantly were removed. Two vermilion cushions were placed before us. All sank on the knees. The Cardinal of Ferrara intoned, in honour of the Fructiferous Incarnation; and we responded to him, saying

V. Angelus Domini nuntiavit Mariae:
R. Et cõcepit de Spiritu Sãcto.
                    Aue Maria, etc.
V. Ecce ãcilla Domini:
R. Fiat michi secundu’ Verbu’ Tuu’
                   Aue Maria, etc.

V. Et Verbu’ Caro factu’ est:
R. Et habitauit i’ nobis.
                   Aue Maria, etc.
V. Ora pro nobis, Sãcta Dei Genitrix:
R. Et digni efficiamur promissionibus Christi.
V. Oremus. Gratia’ Tua’, quaesumus, Domine, mentibus nostris infunde, ut Qui, ãgelo nuntiãte, Christ Filj Tui Incarnatione’ cognovimus, per Passione’ Ejus et Cruce’ ad Resurrectionis Gloria’ perducamur. Per Eunde’ Christu’ Dominu’ nostru’:
R. Amen.
V. cross Et fideliu’ animae per Misericordia’ Dei requiescãt i’ pace:
R. Amen.

It was the first hour of night.1

Now, the day which for me for ever is marked with a white stone, fortune-bringing, the great day of my life was begun.

1. About 6 p.m. Each day was counted to begin at sunset of the previous night.