This work tells the basic story of Argalus and Parthenia in twenty-three duodecimo pages. It is bound with popular versions of Aesop’s Fables, Patient Grissel, Drake’s travels, ‘The History of Sir Richard Whittington’, ‘Robinson Crusoe of York, Mariner’, and the like as The Ballad-Singers Basket. A Choice Collection of Pretty Pennyworths (1809), ‘collected by Mr. Haslewood.’ Chapter 1, reproduced here, is representative of the style and content of the whole. The main sources are Quarles’s poem (No. 49) and its prose derivatives.
This may be the version of the story which, according to Julius Lloyd (The Life of Sir Philip Sidney, London, 1862, p. 101), ‘is still sold in a cheap form by hawkers’.
In the pleasant country of Arcadia, a place noted for rural delights and sweetness of air, reigned a prince named Basilius; a man possessed of all those amiable qualifications which rendered him beloved, honoured, and esteemed by all ranks of subjects. This good King married a young princess, named Cyrecia, daughter to the king of Cyprus, a lady of beauty, wit, virtue, and unspotted chastity; with whom there came to the court of Basilius a cousin German of her’s, called Argalus, led with her by the humour of youth to observe the manner and customs of strange countries; a gentleman both learned and valiant.—He had not long resided in that place, before the fame of a gallant lady’s virtues and beauty reached his ears, and so affected his heart, that he could not but take an opportunity to see her, and in seeing he could not avoid liking, and loving so matchless a piece of nature’s perfection. Her name was Parthenia, daughter to a great lady of the court; endowed with every accomplishment to render the man happy to whose lot she should fall.
Such rare perfections meeting with those of Argalus soon found out each other, and to be short, they kindled a fire in each others breast, which was attended with many trials and disappointments: as the sequel of this history will prove.