Other causes of Love-Melancholy, Sight, Being from the Face, Eyes, other parts, and how it pierceth

Other causes of Love-Melancholy, Sight, Being from the Face, Eyes, other parts, and how it pierceth

Many such causes may be reckoned up, but they cannot avail, except opportunity be offered of time, place, and those other beautiful objects, or artificial enticements, as kissing, conference, discourse, gestures concur, with such like lascivious provocations. Kornmannus, in his book de linea amoris, makes five degrees of lust, out of Lucian belike, which he handles in five chapters, Visus, Colloquium, Convictus, Oscula, Tactus. ("Sight, conference, association, kisses, touch.") Sight, of all other, is the first step of this unruly love, though sometime it be prevented by relation or hearing, or rather incensed. For there be those so apt, credulous, and facile to love, that if they hear of a proper man, or woman, they are in love before they see them, and that merely by relation, as Achilles Tatius observes. "Such is their intemperance and lust, that they are as much maimed by report, as if they saw them. Callisthenes a rich young gentleman of Byzance in Thrace, hearing of Leucippe, Sostratus' fair daughter, was far in love with her, and, out of fame and common rumour, so much incensed, that he would needs have her to be his wife." And sometimes by reading they are so affected, as he in Lucian confesseth of himself, "I never read that place of Panthea in Xenophon, but I am as much affected as if I were present with her." Such persons commonly feign a kind of beauty to themselves; and so did those three gentlewomen in Balthazar Castilio fall in love with a young man whom they never knew, but only heard him commended: or by reading of a letter; for there is a grace cometh from hearing, as a moral philosopher informeth us, "as well from sight; and the species of love are received into the fantasy by relation alone:" ut cupere ab aspectu, sic velle ab auditu, both senses affect. Interdum et absentes amamus, sometimes we love those that are absent, saith Philostratus, and gives instance in his friend Athenodorus, that loved a maid at Corinth whom he never saw; non oculi sed mens videt, we see with the eyes of our understanding.

But the most familiar and usual cause of love is that which comes by sight, which conveys those admirable rays of beauty and pleasing graces to the heart. Plotinus derives love from sight, ερως (eros) quasi ορασις (orasis) . Si nescis, oculi sunt in amore duces, "the eyes are the harbingers of love," and the first step of love is sight, as Lilius Giraldus proves at large, hist. deor. syntag. 13. they as two sluices let in the influences of that divine, powerful, soul-ravishing, and captivating beauty, which, as one saith, "is sharper than any dart or needle, wounds deeper into the heart; and opens a gap through our eyes to that lovely wound, which pierceth the soul itself" (Ecclus. 18.) Through it love is kindled like a fire. This amazing, confounding, admirable, amiable beauty, "than which in all nature's treasure (saith Isocrates) there is nothing so majestical and sacred, nothing so divine, lovely, precious," 'tis nature's crown, gold and glory; bonum si non summum, de summis tamen non infrequenter triumphans, whose power hence may be discerned; we contemn and abhor generally such things as are foul and ugly to behold, account them filthy, but love and covet that which is fair. 'Tis beauty in all things which pleaseth and allureth us, a fair hawk, a fine garment, a goodly building, a fair house, &c. That Persian Xerxes when he destroyed all those temples of the gods in Greece, caused that of Diana, in integrum servari, to be spared alone for that excellent beauty and magnificence of it. Inanimate beauty can so command. 'Tis that which painters, artificers, orators, all aim at, as Eriximachus the physician, in Plato contends, "It was beauty first that ministered occasion to art, to find out the knowledge of carving, painting, building, to find out models, perspectives, rich furnitures, and so many rare inventions." Whiteness in the lily, red in the rose, purple in the violet, a lustre in all things without life, the clear light of the moon, the bright beams of the sun, splendour of gold, purple, sparkling diamond, the excellent feature of the horse, the majesty of the lion, the colour of birds, peacock's tails, the silver scales of fish, we behold with singular delight and admiration. "And which is rich in plants, delightful in flowers, wonderful in beasts, but most glorious in men," doth make us affect and earnestly desire it, as when we hear any sweet harmony, an eloquent tongue, see any excellent quality, curious work of man, elaborate art, or aught that is exquisite, there ariseth instantly in us a longing for the same. We love such men, but most part for comeliness of person, we call them gods and goddesses, divine, serene, happy, &c. And of all mortal men they alone ( Calcagninus holds) are free from calumny; qui divitiis, magistratu et gloria florent, injuria lacessimus, we backbite, wrong, hate renowned, rich, and happy men, we repine at their felicity, they are undeserving we think, fortune is a stepmother to us, a parent to them. "We envy" (saith Isocrates) "wise, just, honest men, except with mutual offices and kindnesses, some good turn or other, they extort this love from us; only fair persons we love at first sight, desire their acquaintance, and adore them as so many gods: we had rather serve them than command others, and account ourselves the more beholding to them, the more service they enjoin us:" though they be otherwise vicious, dishonest, we love them, favour them, and are ready to do them any good office for their beauty's sake, though they have no other good quality beside. Dic igitur o formose, adolescens (as that eloquent Phavorinus breaks out in Stobeus) dic Autiloque, suavius nectare loqueris; dic o Telemache, vehementius Ulysse dicis; dic Alcibiades utcunque ebrius, libentius tibi licet ebrio auscultabimus. "Speak, fair youth, speak Autiloquus, thy words are sweeter than nectar, speak O Telemachus, thou art more powerful than Ulysses, speak Alcibiades though drunk, we will willingly hear thee as thou art." Faults in such are no faults: for when the said Alcibiades had stolen Anytus his gold and silver plate, he was so far from prosecuting so foul a fact (though every man else condemned his impudence and insolency) that he wished it had been more, and much better (he loved him dearly) for his sweet sake. "No worth is eminent in such lovely persons, all imperfections hid;" non enim facile de his quos plurimum diligimus, turpitudinem suspicamur, for hearing, sight, touch, &c., our mind and all our senses are captivated, omnes sensus formosus delectat. Many men have been preferred for their person alone, chosen kings, as amongst the Indians, Persians, Ethiopians of old; the properest man of person the country could afford, was elected their sovereign lord; Gratior est pulchro veniens e corpore virtus, ("Virtue appears more gracefully in a lovely personage.") and so have many other nations thought and done, as Curtius observes: Ingens enim in corporis majestate veneratio est, "for there is a majestical presence in such men;" and so far was beauty adored amongst them, that no man was thought fit to reign, that was not in all parts complete and supereminent. Agis, king of Lacedæmon, had like to have been deposed, because he married a little wife, they would not have their royal issue degenerate. Who would ever have thought that Adrian the Fourth, an English monk's bastard (as Papirius Massovius writes in his life) , inops a suis relectus, squalidus et miser, a poor forsaken child, should ever come to be pope of Rome? But why was it? Erat acri ingenio, facundia expedita eleganti corpore, facieque læta ac hilari, (as he follows it out of Nubrigensis, for he ploughs with his heifer,) "he was wise, learned, eloquent, of a pleasant, a promising countenance, a goodly, proper man; he had, in a word, a winning look of his own," and that carried it, for that he was especially advanced. So "Saul was a goodly person and a fair." Maximinus elected emperor, &c. Branchus the son of Apollo, whom he begot of Jance, Succron's daughter (saith Lactantius) , when he kept King Admetus' herds in Thessaly, now grown a man, was an earnest suitor to his mother to know his father; the nymph denied him, because Apollo had conjured her to the contrary; yet overcome by his importunity at last she sent him to his father; when he came into Apollo's presence, malas Dei reverenter osculatus, he carried himself so well, and was so fair a young man, that Apollo was infinitely taken with the beauty of his person, he could scarce look off him, and said he was worthy of such parents, gave him a crown of gold, the spirit of divination, and in conclusion made him a demigod. O vis superba formæ, a goddess beauty is, whom the very gods adore, nam pulchros dii amant; she is Amoris domina, love's harbinger, love's loadstone, a witch, a charm, &c. Beauty is a dower of itself, a sufficient patrimony, an ample commendation, an accurate epistle, as Lucian, Apuleius, Tiraquellus, and some others conclude. Imperio digna forma, beauty deserves a kingdom, saith Abulensis, paradox. 2. cap. 110. immortality; and "more have got this honour and eternity for their beauty, than for all other virtues besides:" and such as are fair, "are worthy to be honoured of God and men." That Idalian Ganymede was therefore fetched by Jupiter into heaven, Hephæstion dear to Alexander, Antinous to Adrian. Plato calls beauty for that cause a privilege of nature, Naturæ gaudentis opus, nature's masterpiece, a dumb comment; Theophrastus, a silent fraud; still rhetoric, Carneades, that persuades without speech, a kingdom without a guard, because beautiful persons command as so many captains; Socrates, a tyranny, "which tyranniseth over tyrants themselves;" which made Diogenes belike call proper women queens, quod facerent homines quæ præciperent, because men were so obedient to their commands. They will adore, cringe, compliment, and bow to a common wench (if she be fair) as if she were a noble woman, a countess, a queen, or a goddess. Those intemperate young men of Greece erected at Delphos a golden image with infinite cost, to the eternal memory of Phryne the courtesan, as Ælian relates, for she was a most beautiful woman, insomuch, saith Athenæus, that Apelles and Praxiteles drew Venus's picture from her. Thus young men will adore and honour beauty; nay kings themselves I say will do it, and voluntarily submit their sovereignty to a lovely woman. "Wine is strong, kings are strong, but a woman strongest," 1 Esd. iv. 10. as Zerobabel proved at large to King Darius, his princes and noblemen. "Kings sit still and command sea and land, &c., all pay tribute to the king; but women make kings pay tribute, and have dominion over them. When they have got gold and silver, they submit all to a beautiful woman, give themselves wholly to her, gape and gaze on her, and all men desire her more than gold or silver, or any precious thing: they will leave father and mother, and venture their lives for her, labour and travel to get, and bring all their gains to women, steal, fight, and spoil for their mistress's sake. And no king so strong, but a fair woman is stronger than he is. All things" (as he proceeds) "fear to touch the king; yet I saw him and Apame his concubine, the daughter of the famous Bartacus, sitting on the right hand of the king, and she took the crown off his head, and put it on her own, and stroke him with her left hand; yet the king gaped and gazed on her, and when she laughed he laughed, and when she was angry he flattered to be reconciled to her." So beauty commands even kings themselves; nay whole armies and kingdoms are captivated together with their kings: Forma vincit armatos, ferrum pulchritudo captivat; vincentur specie, qui non vincentur pr?lio. And 'tis a great matter saith Xenophon, "and of which all fair persons may worthily brag, that a strong man must labour for his living if he will have aught, a valiant man must fight and endanger himself for it, a wise man speak, show himself, and toil; but a fair and beautiful person doth all with ease, he compasseth his desire without any pains-taking:" God and men, heaven and earth conspire to honour him; every one pities him above other, if he be in need, and all the world is willing to do him good. Chariclea fell into the hand of pirates, but when all the rest were put to the edge of the sword, she alone was preserved for her person. When Constantinople was sacked by the Turk, Irene escaped, and was so far from being made a captive, that she even captivated the Grand Signior himself. So did Rosamond insult over King Henry the Second.

--"I was so fair an object;
Whom fortune made my king, my love made subject;
He found by proof the privilege of beauty,
That it had power to countermand all duty."

It captivates the very gods themselves, Morosiora numina,

--"Deus ipse deorum
Factus ob hanc formam bos, equus imber olor."

(Stroza filius Epig. "The king of the gods on account of this beauty became a bull, a shower, a swan.")

And those mali genii are taken with it, as I have already proved. Formosam Barbari verentur, et ad spectum pulchrum immanis animus mansuescit. (Heliodor. lib. 5.) The barbarians stand in awe of a fair woman, and at a beautiful aspect a fierce spirit is pacified. For when as Troy was taken, and the wars ended (as Clemens Alexandrinus quotes out of Euripides) angry Menelaus with rage and fury armed, came with his sword drawn, to have killed Helen, with his own hands, as being the sole cause of all those wars and miseries: but when he saw her fair face, as one amazed at her divine beauty, he let his weapon fall, and embraced her besides, he had no power to strike so sweet a creature. Ergo habetantur enses pulchritudine, the edge of a sharp sword (as the saying is) is dulled with a beautiful aspect, and severity itself is overcome. Hiperides the orator, when Phryne his client was accused at Athens for her lewdness, used no other defence in her cause, but tearing her upper garment, disclosed her naked breast to the judges, with which comeliness of her body and amiable gesture they were so moved and astonished, that they did acquit her forthwith, and let her go. O noble piece of justice! mine author exclaims: and who is he that would not rather lose his seat and robes, forfeit his office, than give sentence against the majesty of beauty? Such prerogatives have fair persons, and they alone are free from danger. Parthenopæus was so lovely and fair, that when he fought in the Theban wars, if his face had been by chance bare, no enemy would offer to strike at or hurt him, such immunities hath beauty. Beasts themselves are moved with it. Sinalda was a woman of such excellent feature, and a queen, that when she was to be trodden on by wild horses for a punishment, "the wild beasts stood in admiration of her person," (Saxo Grammaticus lib. 8. Dan. hist.) "and would not hurt her." Wherefore did that royal virgin in Apuleius, when she fled from the thieves' den, in a desert, make such an apostrophe to her ass on whom she rode; (for what knew she to the contrary, but that he was an ass?) Si me parentibus et proco formoso reddideris, quas, tibi gratias, quos honores habebo, quos cibos exhibebo? ("If you will restore me to my parents, and my beautiful lover, what thanks, what honour shall I owe you, what provender shall I not supply you?") She would comb him, dress him, feed him, and trick him every day herself, and he should work no more, toil no more, but rest and play, &c. And besides she would have a dainty picture drawn, in perpetual remembrance, a virgin riding upon an ass's back with this motto, Asino vectore regia virgo fugiens captivitatem; why said she all this? why did she make such promises to a dumb beast? but that she perceived the poor ass to be taken with her beauty, for he did often obliquo collo pedes puellæ decoros basiare, kiss her feet as she rode, et ad delicatulas voculas tentabat adhinnire, offer to give consent as much as in him was to her delicate speeches, and besides he had some feeling, as she conceived of her misery. And why did Theogine's horse in Heliodorus curvet, prance, and go so proudly, exultans alacriter et superbiens, &c., but that such as mine author supposeth, he was in love with his master? dixisses ipsum equum pulchrum intelligere pulchram domini fomam? A fly lighted on Malthius' cheek as he lay asleep; but why? Not to hurt him, as a parasite of his, standing by, well perceived, non ut pungeret, sed ut oscularetur, but certainly to kiss him, as ravished with his divine looks. Inanimate creatures, I suppose, have a touch of this. When a drop of Psyche's candle fell on Cupid's shoulder, I think sure it was to kiss it. When Venus ran to meet her rose-cheeked Adonis, as an elegant poet of ours sets her out,

--"the bushes in the way
Some catch her neck, some kiss her face,
Some twine about her legs to make her stay,
And all did covet her for to embrace."

Ær ipse amore inficitur, as Heliodorus holds, the air itself is in love: for when Hero plaid upon her lute,

"The wanton air in twenty sweet forms danc't
After her fingers" --

and those lascivious winds stayed Daphne when she fled from Apollo;

--"nudabant corpora venti,
Obviaque adversas vibrabant flamina vestes."

Boreas Ventus loved Hyacinthus, and Orithya Ericthons's daughter of Athens: vi rapuit, &c. he took her away by force, as she was playing with other wenches at Ilissus, and begat Zetes and Galias his two sons of her. That seas and waters are enamoured with this our beauty, is all out as likely as that of the air and winds; for when Leander swam in the Hellespont, Neptune with his trident did beat down the waves, but

"They still mounted up intending to have kiss'd him.
And fell in drops like tears because they missed him."

The river Alpheus was in love with Arethusa, as she tells the tale herself,

--"viridesque manu siccata capillos,
Fluminis Alphei veteres recitavit amores;
Pars ego Nympharum," &c.

("And with her hand wiping off the drops from her green tresses, thus began to relate the loves of Alpheus. I was formerly an Achaian nymph.")

When our Thame and Isis meet

"Oscula mille sonant, connexu brachia pallent,
Mutuaque explicitis connectunt colla lacertis."

(Leland. "Their lips resound with thousand kisses, their arms are pallid with the close embrace, and their necks are mutually entwined by their fond caresses.")

Inachus and Pineus, and how many loving rivers can I reckon up, whom beauty hath enthralled! I say nothing all this while of idols themselves that have committed idolatry in this kind, of looking-glasses, that have been rapt in love (if you will believe poets) , when their ladies and mistresses looked on to dress them.

"Et si non habeo sensum, tua gratia sensum
Exhibet, et calidi sentio amoris onus.
Dirigis huc quoties spectantia lumina, flamma
Succendunt inopi saucia membra mihi."

"Though I no sense at all of feeling have,
Yet your sweet looks do animate and save;
And when your speaking eyes do this way turn,
Methinks my wounded members live and burn."

I could tell you such another story of a spindle that was fired by a fair lady's looks, or fingers, some say, I know not well whether, but fired it was by report, and of a cold bath that suddenly smoked, and was very hot when naked C?lia came into it, Miramur quis sit tantus et unde vapor, ("We wonder how great the vapour, and whence it comes.") &c. But of all the tales in this kind, that is the most memorable of Death himself, when he should have strucken a sweet young virgin with his dart, he fell in love with the object. Many more such could I relate which are to be believed with a poetical faith. So dumb and dead creatures dote, but men are mad, stupefied many times at the first sight of beauty, amazed, as that fisherman in Aristænetus that spied a maid bathing herself by the seaside,

"Soluta mihi sunt omnia membra --
A capite ad calcem. sensusque omnis periit
De pectore, tam immensus stupor animam invasit mihi."

(Stobæus e græco. "My limbs became relaxed, I was overcome from head to foot, all self-possession fled, so great a stupor overburdened my mind.")

And as Lucian, in his images, confesses of himself, that he was at his mistress's presence void of all sense, immovable, as if he had seen a Gorgon's head: which was no such cruel monster (as C?lius interprets it, lib. 3. cap. 9.) , "but the very quintessence of beauty," some fair creature, as without doubt the poet understood in the first fiction of it, at which the spectators were amazed. Miseri quibus intentata nites, poor wretches are compelled at the very sight of her ravishing looks to run mad, or make away with themselves.

"They wait the sentence of her scornful eyes;
And whom she favours lives, the other dies."

4865]Heliodorus, lib. 1. brings in Thyamis almost besides himself, when he saw Chariclia first, and not daring to look upon her a second time, "for he thought it impossible for any man living to see her and contain himself." The very fame of beauty will fetch them to it many miles off (such an attractive power this loadstone hath) , and they will seem but short, they will undertake any toil or trouble, long journeys. Penia or Atalanta shall not overgo them, through seas, deserts, mountains, and dangerous places, as they did to gaze on Psyche: "many mortal men came far and near to see that glorious object of her age," Paris for Helena, Corebus to Troja.

--"Illis Trojam qui forte diebus
Venerat insano Cassandræ insensus amore."

"who inflamed with a violent passion for Cassandra, happened then to be in Troy." King John of France, once prisoner in England, came to visit his old friends again, crossing the seas; but the truth is, his coming was to see the Countess of Salisbury, the nonpareil of those times, and his dear mistress. That infernal God Pluto came from hell itself, to steal Proserpine; Achilles left all his friends for Polixena's sake, his enemy's daughter; and all the Græcian gods forsook their heavenly mansions for that fair lady, Philo Dioneus daughter's sake, the paragon of Greece in those days; ea enim venustate fuit, ut eam certatim omnes dii conjugem expeterent: "for she was of such surpassing beauty, that all the gods contended for her love." Formosa divis imperat puella. "The beautiful maid commands the gods." They will not only come to see, but as a falcon makes a hungry hawk hover about, follow, give attendance and service, spend goods, lives, and all their fortunes to attain;

"Were beauty under twenty locks kept fast,
Yet love breaks through, and picks them all at last."

When fair Hero came abroad, the eyes, hearts, and affections of her spectators were still attendant on her.

"Et medios inter vultus supereminet omnes,
Perque urbem aspiciunt venientem numinis instar."

"So far above the rest fair Hero shined.
And stole away the enchanted gazer's mind."

When Peter Aretine's Lucretia came first to Rome, and that the fame of her beauty, ad urbanarum deliciarum sectatores venerat, nemo non ad videndam eam, &c. was spread abroad, they came in (as they say) thick and threefold to see her, and hovered about her gates, as they did of old to Lais of Corinth, and Phryne of Thebes, Ad cujus jacuit Græcia tota fores, "at whose gates lay all Greece." "Every man sought to get her love, some with gallant and costly apparel, some with an affected pace, some with music, others with rich gifts, pleasant discourse, multitude of followers; others with letters, vows, and promises, to commend themselves, and to be gracious in her eyes." Happy was he that could see her, thrice happy that enjoyed her company. Charmides in Plato was a proper young man in comeliness of person, "and all good qualities, far exceeding others; whensoever fair Charmides came abroad, they seemed all to be in love with him" (as Critias describes their carriage) , "and were troubled at the very sight of him; many came near him, many followed him wheresoever he went," as those formarum spectatores did Acontius, if at any time he walked abroad: the Athenian lasses stared on Alcibiades; Sappho and the Mitilenean women on Phaon the fair. Such lovely sights do not only please, entice, but ravish and amaze. Cleonimus, a delicate and tender youth, present at a feast which Androcles his uncle made in Piræo at Athens, when he sacrificed to Mercury, so stupefied the guests, Dineas, Aristippus, Agasthenes, and the rest (as Charidemus in Lucian relates it) , that they could not eat their meat, they sat all supper time gazing, glancing at him, stealing looks, and admiring of his beauty. Many will condemn these men that are so enamoured, for fools; but some again commend them for it; many reject Paris's judgment, and yet Lucian approves of it, admiring Paris for his choice; he would have done as much himself, and by good desert in his mind: beauty is to be preferred "before wealth or wisdom." Athenæus Deipnosophist, lib. 13. cap. 7, holds it not such indignity for the Trojans and Greeks to contend ten years, to spend so much labour, lose so many men's lives for Helen's sake, for so fair a lady's sake,

"Ob talem uxorem cui præstantissima forma,
Nil mortale refert."

That one woman was worth a kingdom, a hundred thousand other women, a world itself. Well might Sterpsichores be blind for carping at so fair a creature, and a just punishment it was. The same testimony gives Homer of the old men of Troy, that were spectators of that single combat between Paris and Menelaus at the Seian gate, when Helen stood in presence; they said all, the war was worthily prolonged and undertaken for her sake. The very gods themselves (as Homer and Isocrates record) fought more for Helen, than they did against the giants. When Venus lost her son Cupid, she made proclamation by Mercury, that he that could bring tidings of him should have seven kisses; a noble reward some say, and much better than so many golden talents; seven such kisses to many men were more precious than seven cities, or so many provinces. One such a kiss alone would recover a man if he were a dying, Suaviolum Stygia sic te de valle reducet, &c. Great Alexander married Roxanne, a poor man's child, only for her person. 'Twas well done of Alexander, and heroically done; I admire him for it. Orlando was mad for Angelica, and who doth not condole his mishap? Thisbe died for Pyramus, Dido for Æneas; who doth not weep, as (before his conversion) Austin did in commiseration of her estate! she died for him; "methinks" (as he said) "I could die for her."

But this is not the matter in hand; what prerogative this beauty hath, of what power and sovereignty it is, and how far such persons that so much admire, and dote upon it, are to be justified; no man doubts of these matters; the question is, how and by what means beauty produceth this effect? By sight: the eye betrays the soul, and is both active and passive in this business; it wounds and is wounded, is an especial cause and instrument, both in the subject and in the object. "As tears, it begins in the eyes, descends to the breast;" it conveys these beauteous rays, as I have said, unto the heart. Ut vidi ut perii. Mars videt hanc, visamque cupit. Schechem saw Dinah the daughter of Leah, and defiled her, Gen. xxxiv. 3. Jacob, Rachel, xxix. 17, "for she was beautiful and fair." David spied Bathsheba afar off, 2 Sam. xi. 2. The Elders, Susanna, as that Orthomenian Strato saw fair Aristoclea daughter of Theophanes, bathing herself at that Hercyne well in Lebadea, and were captivated in an instant. Viderunt oculi, rapuerunt pectora flammæ; Ammon fell sick for Thamar's sake, 2 Sam. xiii. 2. The beauty of Esther was such, that she found favour not only in the sight of Ahasuerus, "but of all those that looked upon her." Gerson, Origen, and some others, contended that Christ himself was the fairest of the sons of men, and Joseph next unto him, speciosus præ filiis hominum, and they will have it literally taken; his very person was such, that he found grace and favour of all those that looked upon him. Joseph was so fair, that, as the ordinary gloss hath it, filiæ decurrerent per murum, et ad fenestras, they ran to the top of the walls and to the windows to gaze on him, as we do commonly to see some great personage go by: and so Matthew Paris describes Matilda the Empress going through Cullen. P. Morales the Jesuit saith as much of the Virgin Mary. Antony no sooner saw Cleopatra, but, saith Appian, lib. 1, he was enamoured of her. Theseus at the first sight of Helen was so besotted, that he esteemed himself the happiest man in the world if he might enjoy her, and to that purpose kneeled down, and made his pathetical prayers unto the gods. Charicles, by chance, espying that curious picture of smiling Venus naked in her temple, stood a great while gazing, as one amazed; at length, he brake into that mad passionate speech, "O fortunate god Mars, that wast bound in chains, and made ridiculous for her sake!" He could not contain himself, but kissed her picture, I know not how oft, and heartily desired to be so disgraced as Mars was. And what did he that his betters had not done before him?

--"atque aliquis de diis non tristibus optat
Sic fieri turpis" --

When Venus came first to heaven, her comeliness was such, that (as mine author saith) "all the gods came flocking about, and saluted her, each of them went to Jupiter, and desired he might have her to be his wife." When fair Antilochus came in presence, as a candle in the dark his beauty shined, all men's eyes (as Xenophon describes the manner of it) "were instantly fixed on him, and moved at the sight, insomuch that they could not conceal themselves, but in gesture or looks it was discerned and expressed." Those other senses, hearing, touching, may much penetrate and affect, but none so much, none so forcible as sight. Forma Briseis mediis in armis movit Achillem, Achilles was moved in the midst of a battle by fair Briseis, Ajax by Tecmessa; Judith captivated that great Captain Holofernes: Dalilah, Samson; Rosamund, Henry the Second; Roxolana, Suleiman the Magnificent, &c.

"Νικα δε και σιδερον
Και πυρ καλη τις ουρα"
(Nika d
e kai sideron
Kai pur kalee tis oysa.)

"A fair woman overcomes fire and sword."

"Nought under heaven so strongly doth allure
The sense of man and all his mind possess,
As beauty's loveliest bait, that doth procure
Great warriors erst their rigour to suppress,
And mighty hands forget their manliness,
Driven with the power of an heart-burning eye,
And lapt in flowers of a golden tress,
That can with melting pleasure mollify
Their harden'd hearts inur'd to cruelty."

Clitiphon ingenuously confesseth, that he no sooner came in Leucippe's presence, but that he did corde tremere, et oculis lascivius intueri; he was wounded at the first sight, his heart panted, and he could not possibly turn his eyes from her. So doth Calysiris in Heliodorus, lib. 2. Isis Priest, a reverend old man, complain, who by chance at Memphis seeing that Thracian Rodophe, might not hold his eyes off her: "I will not conceal it, she overcame me with her presence, and quite assaulted my continency which I had kept unto mine old age; I resisted a long time my bodily eyes with the eyes of my understanding; at last I was conquered, and as in a tempest carried headlong." Xenophiles, a philosopher, railed at women downright for many years together, scorned, hated, scoffed at them; coming at last into Daphnis a fair maid's company (as he condoles his mishap to his friend Demaritis) , though free before, Intactus nullis ante cupidinibus, was far in love, and quite overcome upon a sudden. Victus sum fateor a Daphnide, &c. I confess I am taken,

"Sola hæc inflexit sensus, animumque labentem
Impulit" --

(Virg. Æn. 4. "She alone hath captivated my feelings, and fixed my wavering mind.")

I could hold out no longer. Such another mishap, but worse, had Stratocles the physician, that blear-eyed old man, muco plenus (so Prodromus describes him) ; he was a severe woman's-hater all his life, f?da et contumeliosa semper in f?minas profatus, a bitter persecutor of the whole sex, humanas aspides et viperas appellabat, he forswore them all still, and mocked them wheresoever he came, in such vile terms, ut matrem et sorores odisses, that if thou hadst heard him, thou wouldst have loathed thine own mother and sisters for his word's sake. Yet this old doting fool was taken at last with that celestial and divine look of Myrilla, the daughter of Anticles the gardener, that smirking wench, that he shaved off his bushy beard, painted his face, curled his hair, wore a laurel crown to cover his bald pate, and for her love besides was ready to run mad. For the very day that he married he was so furious, ut solis occasum minus expectare posset (a terrible, a monstrous long day) , he could not stay till it was night, sed omnibus insalutatis in thalamum festinans irrupit, the meat scarce out of his mouth, without any leave taking, he would needs go presently to bed. What young man, therefore, if old men be so intemperate, can secure himself? Who can say I will not be taken with a beautiful object? I can, I will contain. No, saith Lucian of his mistress, she is so fair, that if thou dost but see her, she will stupefy thee, kill thee straight, and, Medusa like, turn thee to a stone; thou canst not pull thine eyes from her, but, as an adamant doth iron, she will carry thee bound headlong whither she will herself, infect thee like a basilisk. It holds both in men and women. Dido was amazed at Æneas' presence; Obstupuit primo aspectu Sidonia Dido; and as he feelingly verified out of his experience;

"Quam ego postquam vidi, non ita amavi ut sani solent
Homines, sed eodem pacto ut insani solent."

"I lov'd her not as others soberly,
But as a madman rageth, so did I."

So Museus of Leander, nusquam lumen detorquet ab illa; and Chaucer of Palamon,

He cast his eye upon Emilia,
And therewith he blent and cried ha, ha,
As though he had been stroke unto the hearta

If you desire to know more particularly what this beauty is, how it doth Influere, how it doth fascinate (for, as all hold, love is a fascination) , thus in brief. "This comeliness or beauty ariseth from the due proportion of the whole, or from each several part." For an exact delineation of which, I refer you to poets, historiographers, and those amorous writers, to Lucian's Images, and Charidemus, Xenophon's description of Panthea, Petronius Catalectes, Heliodorus Chariclia, Tacius Leucippe, Longus Sophista's Daphnis and Chloe, Theodorus Prodromus his Rhodanthes, Aristænetus and Philostratus Epistles, Balthazar Castilio, lib. 4. de aulico. Laurentius, cap. 10, de melan. Æneas Sylvius his Lucretia, and every poet almost, which have most accurately described a perfect beauty, an absolute feature, and that through every member, both in men and women. Each part must concur to the perfection of it; for as Seneca saith, Ep. 33. lib. 4. Non est formosa mulier cujus crus laudatur et brachium, sed illa cujus simul universa facies admirationem singulis partibus dedit; "she is no fair woman, whose arm, thigh, &c. are commended, except the face and all the other parts be correspondent." And the face especially gives a lustre to the rest: the face is it that commonly denominates a fair or foul: arx formæ facies, the face is beauty's tower; and though the other parts be deformed, yet a good face carries it (facies non uxor amatur) that alone is most part respected, principally valued, deliciis suis ferox, and of itself able to captivate.

"Urit te Glyceræ nitor,
Urit grata protervitas,
Et vultus nimium lubricus aspici."

"Glycera's too fair a face was it that set him on fire, too fine to be beheld." When Chærea saw the singing wench's sweet looks, he was so taken, that he cried out, O faciem pulchram, deleo omnes dehinc ex animo mulieres, tædet quotidianarum harum formarum! "O fair face, I'll never love any but her, look on any other hereafter but her; I am weary of these ordinary beauties, away with them." The more he sees her, the worse he is,-- uritque videndo, as in a burning-glass, the sunbeams are re-collected to a centre, the rays of love are projected from her eyes. It was Æneas's countenance ravished Queen Dido, Os humerosque Deo similis, he had an angelical face.

"O sacros vultus Baccho vel Apolline dignos,
Quos vir, quos tuto f?mina nulla videt!"

--"O sacred looks, befitting majesty,
Which never mortal wight could safely see."

Although for the greater part this beauty be most eminent in the face, yet many times those other members yield a most pleasing grace, and are alone sufficient to enamour. A high brow like unto the bright heavens, c?li pulcherrima plaga, Frons ubi vivit honor, frons ubi ludit amor, white and smooth like the polished alabaster, a pair of cheeks of vermilion colour, in which love lodgeth; Amor qui mollibus genis puellæ pernoctas: a coral lip, suaviorum delubrum, in which Basia mille patent, basia mille latent, "A thousand appear, as many are concealed;" gratiarum sedes gratissima; a sweet-smelling flower, from which bees may gather honey, Mellilegæ volucres quid adhuc cava thyma rosasque, &c.

"Omnes ad dominæ labra venite meæ,
Illa rosas spirat," &c.

A white and round neck, that via lactea, dimple in the chin, black eyebrows, Cupidinis arcus, sweet breath, white and even teeth, which some call the salepiece, a fine soft round pap, gives an excellent grace, Quale decus tumidis Pario de marmore mammis! and make a pleasant valley lacteum sinum, between two chalky hills, Sororiantes papillulas, et ad pruritum frigidos amatores solo aspectu excitantes. Unde is, Forma papillarum quam fuit apta premi! -- Again Urebant oculos duræ stantesque mamillæ. A flaxen hair; golden hair was even in great account, for which Virgil commends Dido, Nondum sustulerat flavum Proserpinina crinem, Et crines nodantur in aurum. Apollonius (Argonaut. lib. 4. Jasonis flava coma incendit cor Medeæ) will have Jason's golden hair to be the main cause of Medea's dotage on him. Castor and Pollux were both yellow haired. Paris, Menelaus, and most amorous young men, have been such in all ages, molles ac suaves, as Baptista Porta infers, Physiog. lib. 2. lovely to behold. Homer so commends Helen, makes Patroclus and Achilles both yellow haired: Pulchricoma Venus, and Cupid himself was yellow haired, in aurum coruscante et crispante capillo, like that neat picture of Narcissus in Callistratus; for so Psyche spied him asleep, Briseis, Polixena, &c. flavicomæ omnes,

--"and Hero the fair,
Whom young Apollo courted for her hair."

Leland commends Guithera, king Arthur's wife, for a flaxen hair: so Paulus Æmilius sets out Clodeveus, that lovely king of France. Synesius holds every effeminate fellow or adulterer is fair haired: and Apuleius adds that Venus herself, goddess of love, cannot delight, "though she come accompanied with the graces, and all Cupid's train to attend upon her, girt with her own girdle, and smell of cinnamon and balm, yet if she be bald or badhaired, she cannot please her Vulcan." Which belike makes our Venetian ladies at this day to counterfeit yellow hair so much, great women to calamistrate and curl it up, vibrantes ad gratiam crines, et tot orbibus in captivitatem flexos, to adorn their heads with spangles, pearls, and made-flowers; and all courtiers to effect a pleasing grace in this kind. In a word, "the hairs are Cupid's nets, to catch all comers, a brushy wood, in which Cupid builds his nest, and under whose shadow all loves a thousand several ways sport themselves."

A little soft hand, pretty little mouth, small, fine, long fingers, Gratiæ quæ digitis -- 'tis that which Apollo did admire in Daphne,-- laudat digitosque manusque; a straight and slender body, a small foot, and well-proportioned leg, hath an excellent lustre, Cui totum incumbit corpus uti fundamento ædes. Clearchus vowed to his friend Amyander in Aristænetus, that the most attractive part in his mistress, to make him love and like her first, was her pretty leg and foot: a soft and white skin, &c. have their peculiar graces, Nebula haud est mollior ac hujus cutis est, ædipol papillam bellulam. Though in men these parts are not so much respected; a grim Saracen sometimes,-- nudus membra Pyracmon, a martial hirsute face pleaseth best; a black man is a pearl in a fair woman's eye, and is as acceptable as lame Vulcan was to Venus; for he being a sweaty fuliginous blacksmith, was dearly beloved of her, when fair Apollo, nimble Mercury were rejected, and the rest of the sweet-faced gods forsaken. Many women (as Petronius observes) sordibus calent (as many men are more moved with kitchen wenches, and a poor market maid, than all these illustrious court and city dames) will sooner dote upon a slave, a servant, a dirt dauber, a brontes, a cook, a player, if they see his naked legs or arms, thorosaque brachia, &c., like that huntsman Meleager in Philostratus, though he be all in rags, obscene and dirty, besmeared like a ruddleman, a gipsy, or a chimney-sweeper, than upon a noble gallant, Nireus, Ephestion, Alcibiades, or those embroidered courtiers full of silk and gold. Justine's wife, a citizen of Rome, fell in love with Pylades a player, and was ready to run mad for him, had not Galen himself helped her by chance. Faustina the empress doted on a fencer.

Not one of a thousand falls in love, but there is some peculiar part or other which pleaseth most, and inflames him above the rest. A company of young philosophers on a time fell at variance, which part of a woman was most desirable and pleased best? some said the forehead, some the teeth, some the eyes, cheeks, lips, neck, chin, &c., the controversy was referred to Lais of Corinth to decide; but she, smiling, said, they were a company of fools; for suppose they had her where they wished, what would they first seek? Yet this notwithstanding I do easily grant, neque quis vestrum negaverit opinor, all parts are attractive, but especially the eyes,

--"videt igne micantes,
Sideribus similes oculos" --

which are love's fowlers; aucupium amoris, the shoeing horns, "the hooks of love" (as Arandus will) "the guides, touchstone, judges, that in a moment cure mad men, and make sound folks mad, the watchmen of the body; what do they not?" How vex they not? All this is true, and (which Athæneus lib. 13. dip. cap. 5. and Tatius hold) they are the chief seats of love, and James Lernutius hath facetely expressed in an elegant ode of his,

"Amorem ocellis flammeolis heræ
Vidi insidentem, credite posteri,
Fratresque circum ludibundos
Cum pharetra volitare et arcu," &c.

"I saw Love sitting in my mistress' eyes
Sparkling, believe it all posterity,
And his attendants playing round about
With bow and arrows ready for to fly."

Scaliger calls the eyes, "Cupid's arrows; the tongue, the lightning of love; the paps, the tents:" Balthazar Castilio, the causes, the chariots, the lamps of love,

--"æmula lumina stellis,
Lumina quæ possent sollicitare deos."

"Eyes emulating stars in light,
Enticing gods at the first sight;"

Love's orators, Petronius.

"O blandos oculos, et o facetos,
Et quadam propria nota loquaces
Illic est Venus, et leves amores,
Atque ipsa in medio sedet voluptas."

"O sweet and pretty speaking eyes,
Where Venus, love, and pleasure lies."

Love's torches, touch-box, naphtha and matches, Tibullus.

"Illius ex oculis quum vult exurere divos,
Accendit geminas lampades acer amor."

"Tart Love when he will set the gods on fire,
Lightens the eyes as torches to desire."

Leander, at the first sight of Hero's eyes, was incensed, saith Musæus.

"Simul in oculorum radiis crescebat fax amorum,
Et cor fervebat invecti ignis impetu;
Pulchritudo enim celebris immaculatæ f?minæ,
Acutior hominibus est veloci sagitta.
Oculos vero via est, ab oculi ictibus
Vulnus dilabitur, et in præcordia viri manat."

"Love's torches 'gan to burn first in her eyes.
And set his heart on fire which never dies:
For the fair beauty of a virgin pure
Is sharper than a dart, and doth inure
A deeper wound, which pierceth to the heart
By the eyes, and causeth such a cruel smart."

A modern poet brings in Amnon complaining of Thamar,

--"et me fascino
Occidit ille risus et formæ lepos,
Ille nitor, illa gratia, et verus decor,
Illæ æmulantes purpuram, et rosas genæ,
Oculique vinctæque aureo nodo comæ." --

"It was thy beauty, 'twas thy pleasing smile,
Thy grace and comeliness did me beguile;
Thy rose-like cheeks, and unto purple fair
Thy lovely eyes and golden knotted hair."

Philostratus Lemnius cries out on his mistress's basilisk eyes, ardentes faces, those two burning-glasses, they had so inflamed his soul, that no water could quench it. "What a tyranny" (saith he) , "what a penetration of bodies is this! thou drawest with violence, and swallowest me up, as Charybdis doth sailors with thy rocky eyes: he that falls into this gulf of love, can never get out." Let this be the corollary then, the strongest beams of beauty are still darted from the eyes.

"Nam quis lumina tanta, tanta
Posset luminibus suis tueri,
Non statim trepidansque, palpitansque,
Præ desiderii æstuantis aura?" &c.

"For who such eyes with his can see,
And not forthwith enamour'd be!"

And as men catch dotterels by putting out a leg or an arm, with those mutual glances of the eyes they first inveigle one another. Cynthia prima suis miserum me, cepit ocellis. Of all eyes (by the way) black are most amiable, enticing and fairer, which the poet observes in commending of his mistress. Spectandum nigris oculis, nigroque capillo, which Hesiod admires in his Alemena,

"Cujus a vertice ac nigricantibus oculis,
Tale quiddam spiral ac ab aurea Venere."

"From her black eyes, and from her golden face
As if from Venus came a lovely grace."

and Triton in his Milæne -- nigra oculos formosa mihi. Homer useth that epithet of ox-eyed, in describing Juno, because a round black eye is the best, the son of beauty, and farthest from black the worse: which Polydore Virgil taxeth in our nation: Angli ut plurimum cæsiis oculis, we have grey eyes for the most part. Baptisma Porta, Physiognom. lib. 3. puts grey colour upon children, they be childish eyes, dull and heavy. Many commend on the other side Spanish ladies, and those Greek dames at this day, for the blackness of their eyes, as Porta doth his Neapolitan young wives. Suetonius describes Julius Cæsar to have been nigris vegetisque oculis micantibus, of a black quick sparkling eye: and although Averroes in his Colliget will have such persons timorous, yet without question they are most amorous.

Now last of all, I will show you by what means beauty doth fascinate, bewitch, as some hold, and work upon the soul of a man by the eye. For certainly I am of the poet's mind, love doth bewitch and strangely change us.

"Ludit amor sensus, oculos perstringit, et aufert
Libertatem animi, mira nos fascinat arte.
Credo aliquis dæmon subiens præcordia flammam
Concitat, et raptam tollit de cardine mentem."

"Love mocks our senses, curbs our liberties,
And doth bewitch us with his art and rings,
I think some devil gets into our entrails,
And kindles coals, and heaves our souls from th'hinges."

Heliodorus lib. 3. proves at large, that love is witchcraft, "it gets in at our eyes, pores, nostrils, engenders the same qualities and affections in us, as were in the party whence it came." The manner of the fascination, as Ficinus 10. cap. com. in Plat. declares it, is thus: "Mortal men are then especially bewitched, when as by often gazing one on the other, they direct sight to sight, join eye to eye, and so drink and suck in love between them; for the beginning of this disease is the eye. And therefore he that hath a clear eye, though he be otherwise deformed, by often looking upon him, will make one mad, and tie him fast to him by the eye." Leonard. Varius, lib. 1. cap. 2. de fascinat. telleth us, that by this interview, "the purer spirits are infected," the one eye pierceth through the other with his rays, which he sends forth, and many men have those excellent piercing eyes, that, which Suetonius relates of Augustus, their brightness is such, they compel their spectators to look off, and can no more endure them than the sunbeams. Barradius, lib. 6. cap. 10. de Harmonia Evangel. reports as much of our Saviour Christ, and Peter Morales of the Virgin Mary, whom Nicephorus describes likewise to have been yellow-haired, of a wheat colour, but of a most amiable and piercing eye. The rays, as some think, sent from the eyes, carry certain spiritual vapours with them, and so infect the other party, and that in a moment. I know, they that hold visio fit intra mittendo, will make a doubt of this; but Ficinus proves it from blear-eyes, "That by sight alone, make others blear-eyed; and it is more than manifest, that the vapour of the corrupt blood doth get in together with the rays, and so by the contagion the spectators' eyes are infected." Other arguments there are of a basilisk, that kills afar off by sight, as that Ephesian did of whom Philostratus speaks, of so pernicious an eye, he poisoned all he looked steadily on: and that other argument, menstruæ faminæ, out of Aristotle's Problems, morbosæ Capivaccius adds, and Septalius the commentator, that contaminate a looking-glass with beholding it. "So the beams that come from the agent's heart, by the eyes, infect the spirits about the patients, inwardly wound, and thence the spirits infect the blood." To this effect she complained in Apuleius, "Thou art the cause of my grief, thy eyes piercing through mine eyes to mine inner parts, have set my bowels on fire, and therefore pity me that am now ready to die for thy sake." Ficinus illustrates this with a familiar example of that Marrhusian Phædrus and Theban Lycias, "Lycias he stares on Phædrus' face, and Phædrus fastens the balls of his eyes upon Lycias, and with those sparkling rays sends out his spirits. The beams of Phædrus' eyes are easily mingled with the beams of Lycias, and spirits are joined to spirits. This vapour begot in Phædrus' heart, enters into Lycias' bowels; and that which is a greater wonder, Phædrus' blood is in Lycias' heart, and thence come those ordinary love-speeches, my sweetheart Phædrus, and mine own self, my dear bowels. And Phædrus again to Lycias, O my light, my joy, my soul, my life. Phædrus follows Lycias, because his heart would have his spirits, and Lycias follows Phædrus, because he loves the seat of his spirits; both follow; but Lycias the earnester of the two: the river hath more need of the fountain, than the fountain of the river; as iron is drawn to that which is touched with a loadstone, but draws not it again; so Lycias draws Phædrus." But how comes it to pass then, that the blind man loves, that never saw? We read in the Lives of the Fathers, a story of a child that was brought up in the wilderness, from his infancy, by an old hermit: now come to man's estate, he saw by chance two comely women wandering in the woods: he asked the old man what creatures they were, he told him fairies; after a while talking obiter, the hermit demanded of him, which was the pleasantest sight that ever he saw in his life? He readily replied, the two fairies he spied in the wilderness. So that, without doubt, there is some secret loadstone in a beautiful woman, a magnetic power, a natural inbred affection, which moves our concupiscence, and as he sings,

"Methinks I have a mistress yet to come,
And still I seek, I love, I know not whom."

'Tis true indeed of natural and chaste love, but not of this heroical passion, or rather brutish burning lust of which we treat; we speak of wandering, wanton, adulterous eyes, which, as he saith, "lie still in wait as so many soldiers, and when they spy an innocent spectator fixed on them, shoot him through, and presently bewitch him: especially when they shall gaze and gloat, as wanton lovers do one upon another, and with a pleasant eye-conflict participate each other's souls." Hence you may perceive how easily and how quickly we may be taken in love; since at the twinkling of an eye, Phædrus' spirits may so perniciously infect Lycias' blood. "Neither is it any wonder, if we but consider how many other diseases closely, and as suddenly are caught by infection, plague, itch, scabs, flux," &c. The spirits taken in, will not let him rest that hath received them, but egg him on. Idque petit corpus mens unde est saucia amore; (Lucretius. "And the body naturally seeks whence it is that the mind is so wounded by love.") and we may manifestly perceive a strange eduction of spirits, by such as bleed at nose after they be dead, at the presence of the murderer; but read more of this in Lemnius, lib. 2. de occult. nat. mir. cap. 7. Valleriola lib. 2. observ. cap. 7. Valesius controv. Ficinus, Cardan, Libavius de cruentis cadaveribus, &c.


Previous Next