Felice was the only daughter of Rohand — among the more prominent nobles in England during a century not proximate to ours. He was brave, wise, and liberal (though not in a sense proximate to our Liberals), and his daughter was well-bred. Her many perfections are described in Guy of Warwick:

Gentle she was, and as demure / As ger-fauk, or falcon to lure / That out of mew were y-drawe, / So fair was none, in soothe sawe. …

The reader may be astonished that the modest and unassuming demeanour of a virgin is compared to that of a bird of prey; but, he may know less than our ancestors did about the moral qualities of gyrfalcons (largest, quickest, and most startlingly beautiful of the falcon species).

More surprises are in store; for the young countess, who must certainly have been home-schooled, is expert in astronomy, geometry, and sophistry; as well as music, theology, and a few other things.

What a girl! … I have a crush already, comparing her to a modern young countess, who may not even be a virgin.

I am reading in Ellis’s Metrical Romances, the Bohn edition published 1848, which tumbled into my hands at a college book sale. My own mild surprise extends to the book itself, in remarkable condition, and the catalogue bound in at the back. For 175 years ago, the “Bohn Library” could supply pretty much all the works of English standard authors, in comprehensive collected editions, and European literature in English translation. They were printed on paper that has not yellowed, with attractive typography, and stitched within pressed case boards. Moreover, they were cheap (just three shillings and sixpence a volume).

You who believe that the world is progressing: think this through.