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The Melbourne Manuscript: a diplomatic transcript

The following conventions for transcribing manuscripts are followed here: [] indicates deletions, <> indicates lacunae, and \/ insertions, usually by interlineation, but sometimes by over-writing. Where convenient, the < symbol is used to indicate of single letters that one has been made from another (for instance, at l. 47 thei<are means theare was written first, then the a changed into an i to produce theire). It has not been possible to be certain of all such alterations; some doubtful cases are passed over silently. The lineation reproduces that of the MS.

[fol. 1r]

And [I should] wrongue ye. judgement of ye. highest policy
The world adores. Goe my Alphonso goe
Leave vs alone; I [my]\&/[1] my deare cosen,
In priuat must discourse: Alphonso goe
And all withdraw.
Alp: As your highnesse wills soe
Must bee or. motion: Exeunt.
Prince. Why yf death weare heare
And sett wide ope his jawes I would not shune
The [roome]\chamber/[nor]\for/[2] ye. grizlie[3] monsters Companie.
Not anie beaten soldire with lesse feare
Dares see the Canon firde. then with fixd eies
Marke his Carreir in the resounding[4] aire
And heare his thundring whistle then I dare[5]
Encounter Danger, though that danger had
[death for][6] his [Page] attendant death.
Lor: By heau'n my Lord


Page 25
Not alle ye. witt J am Commander of
Can make mee [the] \a wise/ Oedipus and vnvolue
The[7] mysterie of yr. Sphinx: I Came
To bee ye. happie messenger of yr.
approachinge happinesse.
Prince: Good good infaith
[But\And/ Can the][8] And Can theare bee an happy state
Before man meetes with his last fate.
Lor: [Nay] \What/[9] are you leane[10] Epictetus; or haue you read Boetius
de Consolatione or [haue you read] \els/ Catos sentences; well: it
is a Commendable thing in a Prince, I hope you
will in tyme write bookes, that the whole world may
laugh at you? Yf you growe bookish wee must all
turne schollers, and euery one buie his horne booke; marry
those who are wedded, may [gett] obtaine such volumes by
deed of guift: \without troubling the stationer/ When dionisius s<ttudied Geometrie, theare
was not a Courtier but walkd with his Jacobs staffe.
Prince. Can horrid Treason, which for intrailes hath
The bowels of a serpent, and Conuerts
Jnto burnt choler what \soere/[11] eare hee <ea>tes
Oppressed Euer with inspecting[12] thoughts
sett such a face of harmelesse mirth on it?
Surely Castruchio banisht from his home
[will] not[13] by these false feares would make mee leane agt[14]
In his proscription: hee<are Lorenzo read
"[The[15] Causes of Alexanders feares]
\Then[16] haue a hart to doe the mentiond deed/
But giue it mee againe; it is not fitt
That who are vigilant for or. safetie
sho<auld<p putt in ieopardie thei<are owne tears the subscrip tion
Now take and read;


Page 26
Lorenz. What's this? some bill exhibited by my Tailor. against
mee for not discharging his bill; [slight] \why/ [yf] J hope
ffauorites may runne[17] in debt, and not bee forced[18] to [bee]
pay them, but bee borne out in greater matters
then [such small] pettie trifles: or ys[19] it [some] \a/ Complaint
of some of my Tauerners for his recconings, slid<ee yf
it bee Ile [Coniure his Coat] \clapperc<llaw/ the villaine, Ile braine him
with his own potle pots; besides withdrawing of my roaring
quaffers from him, his howse shall stand more emptie then
euer it did in ye. time of [plague] \a visitation/: my anger shall bee more
terrible then ye. red crosse: Or it maie[20] tis some \opprest/[21] damosell
petition, who[se] hath thought it ye. high of honor. to bee \all one/ with your
[ffauorite] priuado, [and I] condescending to her ambition
[haue made her greate] and now [falling] fealing[22] sicke of yr
mother wo<uld> haue mee compeld by the title of a father
to legitimate ye. vnlawfully begotten progenie; why
yf thi\e/se[23] \things/ should goe by compulsion J should haue as many
wiues as Salomon: noe \noe/ weele have it enacted[24] that it
shalbee comfort enough, and honor. enough[25] for anie ladie
to bee ye. Mistresse of ye. Princes fauorite, and that Matrimonie is a felicitie beyond ye. expect[ation]\ing/ [26] of fraile Ladies in
this vayle of miserie: but in ye. name of goodnesse lett mee
[fol. 2r]
read.[27] my Honored. Lord. [yr.]\I/[28] wish Hee reades ye. Prince attentiuely marking him.
you, what your nearest freinds would take from you
safety. [Knowe you foster in yr. bosome a serpent:]
Lorenzo Medices ha[ue]\th/[29] oft tymes avowed yr. death

Fol. 1r

Page Fol. 1r

Fol. 1v

Page Fol. 1v

Fol. 2r

Page Fol. 2r

Fol. 2v

Page Fol. 2v


Page 27
and alteration [is] of[30] ye. gouernment. I Could wish this
latter; but not b<oy ye. oblation of Cassius
sacrifice. [w] whosoeuer writt this was
a spartan on my life, hee writes soe laconicē
breifly and to ye. purpose. with an abhominable
deale of l<nove to ye. generation[31] of Hercules:
Ile gett it without booke. read againe
Prince. Treason is like the Cockatrice o<ince seene
It straite fals sicke, and after a few pangues
Giues vp the Ghoast. but heeres noe languishing[32]
Noe chaunge of hue, [bu<t>] noe guilty feare driues back
The bloud in to the hart, and pales the face.
Hee is all innocent, and that cleare virtue
makes him vndaunted;
Lorenz: Prince Alexander
Who soe're writt this Caueat had infallible intelligence,
Prince: Why is it true?
Lorenz: as ye. first veritie
But I am a better Phisitian then
Æacides hee hauing wounded curde
But I before the blow bee giuen Can helpe.[33]
My Lord you shall preuent
Prince: Preuent? what? and how?
Loren: Treason: ye. mean[s]es anticipation.
Hee<are take this blade: and run quite through a Traitor.
And yf you want a hart, or hande[34] to doe it,
speake to Lorenzo, and Lorenzo shall
Performe this justice:
Prince: why art thou faultie then?
[fol. 2v]
J knowe thou art not by ye. love thow owest mee tell
[Lor.]\mee/[why(?)/my(?)] [what][35] is theare ye. least ground of this letter? why
should that brest harbour ye. first thought of danger
Towards Alexander, Alexander would
[Himselfe] with his owne hands saue thee a killing labour
I haue <Allr>eadie liude a thousand yeares too longue
<my(?) first(?)> nearest freinds growe wearie of my being.
[<Taken>(?)] <p(?)eep...> <........>er[36] doubtefull: I aduise thee


Page 28
Lor: well <t>reason <is> a <..grim> devill an<d> y<our> <Hono>r
a learned Co<nveie>r. it shall Comme vp, and appear
in its likenesse. but first hee \must/ make his waie.
first tell mee Prince what services of frends<hip(?)>[37]
haue J n<dot done; how oft discouered
Plots of ye. ban<isht> partie, who would jnnovate
The forme of g<o> uernment; who did preuent
The last surpri<se> soe [likely] probable
by ye. Conspiracie of saluiatto that man
of daunger <di>d for his Cardinalls cap.
<.......................> ye. states of Italie;
<.........> <not> <...........>ie <store>(?).
Pr: ye. world saies soe:
Lor: Now[38] J Come to [show]\proue/[39] my[40] selfe <healie..ns>[41]; Theare
are a thousand waies of doing \good/ services in a Common wealth,
but are not all \those who doe these services/ yr. statesmen greate intelligencers and
without this[42] intelligence Can theare bee anie thing done
in this[43] \Common/ [world]\wealth/[44]: \or if/ why it is the spectacles wise men putt
on to reade others liues, and how they should direct
their owne acts. some w<hith infinite summes corrupt
those who are able to informe them[45]; Consales ye.
Graund [pr]\C/apitan[46], putt in fferdinands reckoning
a million of Crownes giuen to spies. Others with an
easier way, and sweeter know their enemies secrets
namely by lying with their wiues or mistresses; this was seianus
tricke with Liuia ye. wife of drusus; and in or. latter
daies it hath beene much more putt in practice:
but for mee to doe Alexander service to deliuer
Ilium to ye. Argiues I haue putt on ye. Person
of sinon; spoke against Agammemnon, ray<lld against
ye. Greekes, thereatened[47] my Prince, fauoured ye. Exiles
<&> all for ye. safety of my Prince, and to discouer ye. plots of ye. Exiles