Don Tarquinio
A Kataleptic Phantasmatic

Chapter XXI


I came out into the antechamber, very vivid, very vigorous, for fatigue seemed to have left my limbs very pale and clean, for I was myself again, very grand-eyed, for lovely pleasant things were waiting for me to look upon them. My smooth hair was glittering like a cocoon, sunlit, delicate. My garb was shining silk, white as pearls, adorned with silver set with great cabochon moonstones. The armorials of mine house were emblazoned on my breast, not in our ordinary tinctures of white and red but in white and black, videlicet Luna and Saturn party per pale, a cross potent party per pale Saturn and Luna.1

1. Really, this is just like Don Tarquinio’s naive arrogance. Instead of being content with the ordinary nomenclature of his tinctures (Argent and Sable),


Everybody made haste to inspect me.

Ippolito said that he never had seen these habits before.

To whom I responded, saying that I had had them prepared secretly for the day when I should come face to face with our Lord the Paparch; and that they bore a certain signification. I in fact had made myself as it were a book which His Sanctity might read. He would see youth and strength and ability: He would see the candid whiteness of innocence: He would see the blazon of mine house blackened by the Great Ban, whitening with the dawn of hope. But, having said these things, I became conscious of the eyes of my maid, a few paces away, gazing upon me with adoration: at whom I instantly precipitated myself, forgetting the others.

disdaining even the form used by peers (Pearl and Diamond), he needs must use the terms which are employed only in blazoning the armorials of a sovereign! Certainly his lineage has no equal in this world. But—— ! Well—— ! There—— !


Madonna Lucrezia put in a sentence, saying:

“All these things are very poetic and pretty; and the beautiful and blameless gentleman certainly is most urbane: but We take pride in Ourself by cause that We are purely practical. Furthermore, all the damage, which is done on this orb of earth, is done either by saying the right things to the wrong person, or the wrong things to the right person. These admirable words ought not to be uttered to Us, but to Our Most Blessed Father. Wherefore, the present company instantly must go to the Castle of Santangelo. Boy! Litters! At the Vatican, a division shall be made, not to embarrass Our Most Blessed Father with a show of force. The Cardinal of Ferrara hath the right of demanding a boon, by cause that he provided the swift runner. The beautiful and blameless gentleman hath an equal right, by cause that he ran swiftly. Let those ij demand their said boons. If they win them, well. In any case, after dinner, when Our


Most Blessed Father is in a good humour and will concede anything for the sake of being left to His afternoon nap, then We Ourself and Our well-beloved brother, Don Gioffredo, will enter The Presence prepared to intercede. But the Lord Alexander is just and gentle; and He will be propitious. Litters! Boy! Litters!”

Half a score of pages fled down the stair with Her Tranquillity’s commandments. No one said any more: for there was nothing more to be said. Our several families began to collect themselves, while we washed our fingers; and anon we left the antechamber in due order.

In the courtyard, the tyrant and the princess and their maids ascended the litters: but we others took horse in full state; and so we set forth, a very grand procession, but not unusual in those old days, o my parthenean Prospero, when a pageant of princes going to pay respects to the Pontifex Maximus was common enough.


We went by Lungara. I rode by side of Ippolito. We both were silent, pondering the matter in hand.

As we passed the great Riarj Palace on the left, where the white-faced cardinal was entertaining The Beloved,1 I said:

“They say that one liveth there who knoweth more Greek than We do.”

It was a silly irrelevant word, uttered only by cause that I did not wish to seem either sulky or afraid. Ippolito shook his head, soberly saying:

“No one knoweth more Greek than thou, o Sideynes.”

Thereafter we rode without speaking. I knew that I was as nervous as a February sparrow, jipping and flirting, and liable to twitter entirely automatically. For which cause

1. This would be that very wonderful person of Rotterdam called Gerard, who (having no legal surname) translated his Flemish Christian name (which means “The Beloved”) into its Latin and Greek equivalents, Desiderius ᾿Εράσμιος, by which combination indeed we know him now as Desiderius Erasmus.


I set myself to consider who I was, and what I had done, and how extremely notable mine aspect was. I contemplated myself, my mind, my body, my qualities, capabilities, exploits, desires. I also called to remembrance the benignance of my stars. And behold it was all very good. So we came to Vatican.

Nothing disturbed me. Nothing ever again would disturb me. Was I not riding in triumph, to the Giver of Bays?