While contemplating the concept of Distancing (as a gerund ) I wondered when that happened , and that led me to John Webb 1625-1693, tr. who translated book 8 of Hymen’s Præludia… which just happened to be on my to get to [TGT] some day shelf!

So I have decide to go for it and describe it. Its front board is off and there is a lot of collating  but it is always re-assuring to see where curiosity leads!



400JGaultier de Coste, seigneur de La Calprenède

Hymen’s præludia or Loves master-peice [sic]. Being that so much admired romance, intituled Cleopatra. In twelve parts. Written originally in the French, and now elegantly rendred into English. By Robert Loveday


London; printed by W.R. and J.R. and are to be sold by Peter Parker, at his shop at the Leg and Star over against the Royal Exchange, and Thomas Guy, at the corner-shop of Little Lumbard-street and Cornhill. 1674                                $2,000

Folio 11 1/2 x 7 1/2 inches A-3Y4 A-2Y4 2Z6 3A-4B4.

“Distancing, being the action noun (gerund) of distance and defined as maintaining or keeping separate by a distance, comes from the Latin distare, meaning ‘to stand apart’, and first appeared in English via John Webb’s 1658 translation of Hymen’s Præludia by Gauthier de Costes, seigneur de la Calprenède, where he transcribes: “To regret the distancing of Coriolanus, whom she fled, and whose Infidelity she detested.”

( Social Distancing – Word of the day – EVS Translations )   https://evs-translations.com/blog/social-distancing/

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threatned her, that she was full of mortal apprehensions; but though this fear violently IMG_2739shook her, yet the remembrance of her Alexander, was nothing less sensible; and consi∣dering how her fair hopes were shipwrack’t in the Port, and how even upon the point, when with apparent reason she believed to spend her dayes with her dear Alexander in le∣gitimate sweetnesses, and in sweetnessess sweetned by so many difficulties, one reverse of Fortune so little foreseen, had taken away all her expectation, and in probability had de∣prived her of her Alexander for ever; here she had no Constancy, which bowed not un∣der the consideration of so prodigious a Misfortune; through the assistance of these rea∣sons, Artemisa believed her unhappiness greater, and more extraordinary than Cleopa∣tra‘s who in appearance ought less to redoubt the presence of a King, a Lover and Idolater of her Beauties, than that of a King irritated and furious; and less to regret the distancing of Coriolanus,whom she fled, and whose infidelity she detested, than the the loss of her Alexander, whom she loved more than her self, and whose fidelity she had never so much as suspected. This opinion of Artemisa was not without foundation, but she saw not clearly into the sentiments of Cleopatra, part whereof were kept in by the greatness of her spirit; and as she was ignorant that the sight of Artaxes a Lover, was more terrible to that Princess than the presence of Artaxes an Enemy; and that she was resolved with more joy to see him again, his Sword in his hand, with those funest designs against her life, as he appeared the first time, than to behold him in a suppliant posture, representing to her the violence of his love: Neither knew she that in the Soul of this great Princess, the re∣sentments how great soever they were, and how just soever they appeared, were uncapable to eradicate an affection which (through the many tokens of her love to Coriolanus) de∣clared the depth of its root; or at least if they had strength enough to take away all thoughts of recognizance, and all advantagious designs which she had entertained for this Prince, whil’st his fidelity appeared to her without spot; yet were they too weak to reduce her spirit into terms of receiving a new impression, or to make her suffer without horror the thought of a second affection.


(who was turned to the other side of the Bed, what essayes soever she made to retain some part of the testimonies of her grief, and to arrest the course of sighs and sobs, which un∣cessantly proceeded from her breast) gave her reason to believe that the interior miseries of her heart were far greater than they outwardly appeared, pressed one of her fair hands between hers, obliging her by this action to turn towards her: My dear Sister, said she, you sensibly augment my displeasures, by signifying so sadly that yours are not inferior to them as I thought they must needs be. This liberty whose loss you deplore, is a good sufficient to merit some part of our tears; but this loss which is common to us both, joined with my fear of Artaxes cruelty, which casts me into mortal apprehensions, and the distancing and possibly eternal separation of my dear Alexander, is a misfortune incomparably above all those whereof you are a partaker with me; had you the like addition to your affliction, I would believe you as unfortunate as Artemisa; but your Soul being free, or at least little touched on this side, you will pardon me if I profess that I have not believed your grief equal to mine.


The text has a convoluted publishing history.

‘Having become proficient in French and Italian under the instruction of another member of the Clinton household, Loveday translated into English the first three parts of La Calprenède’s Cléopâtre under the title Hymen’s Præludia, or, Love’s Master-Piece; these appeared respectively in 1652, 1654, and 1655, and were reprinted many times. Despite the erroneous attribution of other parts of the romance to Loveday’s hand in some later editions, it was only with the collaboration of John Coles that part 4 was completed and published in 1656. Loveday [who died in 1656] was an agreeable writer, and his translation is accurate and idiomatic’ (ODNB). Coles was responsible for parts 5-7, James Webb for part 8, and John Davies for parts 9-12. Individual parts, and incomplete collections were published until the first collected edition appeared in 1668, and there were several editions until the mid-eighteenth century. The daughter of Anthony and Cleopatra, the Cleopatra of the title (also known as Cleopatra Selene) was the consort of Juba II, King of Mauretania.

Synopsis (from https://arabellasromances.weebly.com/cleopatra.html

 Coriolanus, a Roman prince, falls in love with Cleopatra after the fall of Alexandria, but Tiberius comes between their love and forces Coriolanus to Alexandria, while Cleopatra is shipwrecked.  Coriolanus meets Caesario when he helps him fight off a band of pirates, led by Zenodorus.  Cleopatra and Artemissa meet up with Coriolanus and chastise him for his supposed infidelity, but while they are together, a band of villains comes and steals away the two women.   After several adventures, Coriolanus attempts to commit suicide by throwing himself into the sea, but lands within reach of a boat which carries the captive Cleopatra.  Coriolanus’ identity is discovered, but he fends off the entire crew of the ship with the help of Marcellus and Alexander.  Cleopatra and Coriolanus end up in Alexandria, where Coriolanus is put into prison and Cleopatra is courted by Tiberius.   The emperor demands that Cleopatra marry Tiberius if she wants to save Coriolanus’ life.  While deliberating on this decision, a revolt staged by Candace, Alexander, Artaban, and others frees Coriolanus.  Coriolanus then asks the emperor to execute him in order to save the other rebels captured during the revolt.  Marcellus rushes in and threatens to commit suicide if Coriolanus is actually executed.  He also tells the emperor that Coriolanus is responsible for saving his life, which causes him to reverse his decision.  Cleopatra and Coriolanus reunite.

Important subplots include the Artaban-Elisa plot, in which Artaban falls in love with the princess Candace, is banished, falls in love with Arsinoe, is banished again, and becomes a general among the Medes.  He conquers Phraates and captures his daughter, Elisa.  Artaban joins the side of Phraates, however, and turns against the Medes.  As a reward for his service to Phraates, Artaban asks to marry Elisa, but he is refused and he then leaves.  After some adventures including being captured by Zenodorus and his pirates, he meets Elisa again.  In Alexandria he is imprisoned by Tigranes, but after the Parthian king dies, the people demand that Artaban become their new ruler, and he and Elisa are married.

The other important sub-plot (though there are others) is the Caesario-Candace plot.  Caesario is the son of Cleopatra and he falls in love with Candace, the daughter of the king of the Ethiopians.  When the king dies, Tyribasus takes control of the kingdom.  Caesario kills Tyribasus in battle, then sets out to find Candace, who has also been captured by Zenodorus.  She sets the ship on fire, and is rescued by Tyridates. Caesario has several adventures and meets Candace in Alexandria.  Augustus realizes he is in the city and imprisons him, but Candace initiates a rescue plan.  Everyone is reconciled in the end (Hill 11-16).

Hill, Herbert W. La Calprenède’s Romances and the Restoration Drama. N.p.: University of Nevada, 1911. Print.
In this text, Hill provides contextual information about La Calprenede’s romances, as well as summaries of the stories, themselves. His broader thesis shows the influence that Cleopatra and Cassandra, specifically, had on late seventeenth-century drama.