As there be divers causes of this burning lust, or heroical love, so there be many good remedies to ease and help; amongst which, good counsel and persuasion, which I should have handled in the first place, are of great moment, and not to be omitted. Many are of opinion, that in this blind headstrong passion counsel can do no good.
"Quæ enim res in se neque consilium neque modum
Habet, ullo eam consilio regere non potes."
"Which thing hath neither judgment, or an end,
How should advice or counsel it amend?"
Quis enim modus adsit amori? But, without question, good counsel and advice must needs be of great force, especially if it shall proceed from a wise, fatherly, reverent, discreet person, a man of authority, whom the parties do respect, stand in awe of, or from a judicious friend, of itself alone it is able to divert and suffice. Gordonius, the physician, attributes so much to it, that he would have it by all means used in the first place. Amoveatur ab illa, consilio viri quem timet, ostendendo pericula sæculi, judicium inferni, gaudia Paradisi. He would have some discreet men to dissuade them, after the fury of passion is a little spent, or by absence allayed; for it is as intempestive at first, to give counsel, as to comfort parents when their children are in that instant departed; to no purpose to prescribe narcotics, cordials, nectarines, potions, Homer's nepenthes, or Helen's bowl, &c. Non cessabit pectus tundere, she will lament and howl for a season: let passion have his course awhile, and then he may proceed, by foreshowing the miserable events and dangers which will surely happen, the pains of hell, joys of Paradise, and the like, which by their preposterous courses they shall forfeit or incur; and 'tis a fit method, a very good means; for what Seneca said of vice, I say of love, Sine magistro discitur, vix sine magistro deseritur, 'tis learned of itself, but hardly left without a tutor. 'Tis not amiss therefore to have some such overseer, to expostulate and show them such absurdities, inconveniences, imperfections, discontents, as usually follow; which their blindness, fury, madness, cannot apply unto themselves, or will not apprehend through weakness; and good for them to disclose themselves, to give ear to friendly admonitions. "Tell me, sweetheart (saith Tryphena to a lovesick Charmides in Lucian) , what is it that troubles thee? peradventure I can ease thy mind, and further thee in thy suit;" and so, without question, she might, and so mayst thou, if the patient be capable of good counsel, and will hear at least what may be said.
If he love at all, she is either an honest woman or a whore. If dishonest, let him read or inculcate to him that 5. of Solomon's Proverbs, Ecclus. 26. Ambros. lib. 1. cap. 4. in his book of Abel and Cain, Philo Judeus de mercede mer. Platina's dial. in Amores, Espencæus, and those three books of Pet. Hædus de contem. amoribus, Æneas Sylvius' tart Epistle, which he wrote to his friend Nicholas of Warthurge, which he calls medelam illiciti amoris &c. "For what's a whore," as he saith, "but a poller of youth, a ruin of men, a destruction, a devourer of patrimonies, a downfall of honour, fodder for the devil, the gate of death, and supplement of hell?" Talis amor est laqueus animæ, &c., a bitter honey, sweet poison, delicate destruction, a voluntary mischief, commixtum cœnum, sterquilinium. And as Pet. Aretine's Lucretia, a notable quean, confesseth: "Gluttony, anger, envy, pride, sacrilege, theft, slaughter, were all born that day that a whore began her profession; for," as she follows it, "her pride is greater than a rich churl's, she is more envious than the pox, as malicious as melancholy, as covetous as hell. If from the beginning of the world any were mala, pejor, pessima, bad in the superlative degree, 'tis a whore; how many have I undone, caused to be wounded, slain! O Antonia, thou seest what I am without, but within, God knows, a puddle of iniquity, a sink of sin, a pocky quean." Let him now that so dotes meditate on this; let him see the event and success of others, Samson, Hercules, Holofernes, &c. Those infinite mischiefs attend it: if she be another man's wife he loves, 'tis abominable in the sight of God and men; adultery is expressly forbidden in God's commandment, a mortal sin, able to endanger his soul: if he be such a one that fears God, or have any religion, he will eschew it, and abhor the loathsomeness of his own fact. If he love an honest maid, 'tis to abuse or marry her; if to abuse, 'tis fornication, a foul fact (though some make light of it) , and almost equal to adultery itself. If to marry, let him seriously consider what he takes in hand, look before ye leap, as the proverb is, or settle his affections, and examine first the party, and condition of his estate and hers, whether it be a fit match, for fortunes, years, parentage, and such other circumstances, an sit sitæ Veneris. Whether it be likely to proceed: if not, let him wisely stave himself off at the first, curb in his inordinate passion, and moderate his desire, by thinking of some other subject, divert his cogitations. Or if it be not for his good, as Æneas, forewarned by Mercury in a dream, left Dido's love, and in all haste got him to sea,
"Mnestea, Surgestumque vocat fortemque Cloanthem,
Classem aptent taciti jubet" --
(Virg. "He calls Mnestheus, Surgestus, and the brave Cloanthus, and orders them silently to prepare the fleet.")
and although she did oppose with vows, tears, prayers, and imprecation.
--"nullis ille movetur
Fletibus, aut illas voces tractabilis audit;"
("He is moved by no tears, he cannot he induced to hear her words.")
Let thy Mercury-reason rule thee against all allurements, seeming delights, pleasing inward or outward provocations. Thou mayst do this if thou wilt, pater non deperit filiam, nec frater sororem, a father dotes not on his own daughter, a brother on a sister; and why? because it is unnatural, unlawful, unfit. If he be sickly, soft, deformed, let him think of his deformities, vices, infirmities; if in debt, let him ruminate how to pay his debts: if he be in any danger, let him seek to avoid it: if he have any lawsuit, or other business, he may do well to let his love-matters alone and follow it, labour in his vocation whatever it is. But if he cannot so ease himself, yet let him wisely premeditate of both their estates; if they be unequal in years, she young and he old, what an unfit match must it needs be, an uneven yoke, how absurd and indecent a thing is it! as Lycinus in Lucian told Timolaus, for an old bald crook-nosed knave to marry a young wench; how odious a thing it is to see an old lecher! What should a bald fellow do with a comb, a dumb doter with a pipe, a blind man with a looking-glass, and thou with such a wife? How absurd it is for a young man to marry an old wife for a piece of good. But put case she be equal in years, birth, fortunes, and other qualities correspondent, he doth desire to be coupled in marriage, which is an honourable estate, but for what respects? Her beauty belike, and comeliness of person, that is commonly the main object, she is a most absolute form, in his eye at least, Cui formam Paphia, et Charites tribuere decoram; but do other men affirm as much? or is it an error in his judgment.
"Fallunt nos oculi vagique sensus,
Oppressa ratione mentiuntur,"
"our eyes and other senses will commonly deceive us;" it may be, to thee thyself upon a more serious examination, or after a little absence, she is not so fair as she seems. Quædam videntur et non sunt; compare her to another standing by, 'tis a touchstone to try, confer hand to hand, body to body, face to face, eye to eye, nose to nose, neck to neck, &c., examine every part by itself, then altogether, in all postures, several sites, and tell me how thou likest her. It may be not she, that is so fair, but her coats, or put another in her clothes, and she will seem all out as fair; as the poet then prescribes, separate her from her clothes: suppose thou saw her in a base beggar's weed, or else dressed in some old hirsute attires out of fashion, foul linen, coarse raiment, besmeared with soot, colly, perfumed with opoponax, sagapenum, asafoetida, or some such filthy gums, dirty, about some indecent action or other; or in such a case as Brassivola, the physician, found Malatasta, his patient, after a potion of hellebore, which he had prescribed: Manibus in terram depositis, et ano versus cælum elevato (ac si videretur Socraticus ille Aristophanes, qui Geometricas figuras in terram scribens, tubera colligere videbatur) atram bilem in album parietem injiciebat, adeoque totam cameram, et se deturpabat, ut, &c., all to bewrayed, or worse; if thou saw'st her (I say) would thou affect her as thou dost? Suppose thou beheldest her in a frosty morning, in cold weather, in some passion or perturbation of mind, weeping, chafing, &c., rivelled and ill-favoured to behold. She many times that in a composed look seems so amiable and delicious, tam scitula, forma, if she do but laugh or smile, makes an ugly sparrow-mouthed face, and shows a pair of uneven, loathsome, rotten, foul teeth: she hath a black skin, gouty legs, a deformed crooked carcass under a fine coat. It may be for all her costly tires she is bald, and though she seem so fair by dark, by candlelight, or afar off at such a distance, as Callicratides observed in Lucian, "If thou should see her near, or in a morning, she would appear more ugly than a beast;" si diligenter consideres, quid per os et nares et cæteros corporis meatus egreditur, vilius sterquilinium nunquam vidisti. (Hugo de claustro Animæ, lib. 1. c. 1. "If you quietly reflect upon what passes through her mouth, nostrils, and other conduits of her body, you never saw viler stuff.") Follow my counsel, see her undressed, see her, if it be possible, out of her attires, furtivis nudatam coloribus, it may be she is like Æsop's jay, or Pliny's cantharides, she will be loathsome, ridiculous, thou wilt not endure her sight: or suppose thou saw'st her, pale, in a consumption, on her death-bed, skin and bones, or now dead, Cujus erat gratissimus amplexus (whose embrace was so agreeable) as Barnard saith, erit horribilis aspectus; Non redolet, sed olet, quæ, redolere solet, "As a posy she smells sweet, is most fresh and fair one day, but dried up, withered, and stinks another." Beautiful Nireus, by that Homer so much admired, once dead, is more deformed than Thersites, and Solomon deceased as ugly as Marcolphus: thy lovely mistress that was erst Charis charior ocellis, "dearer to thee than thine eyes," once sick or departed, is Vili vilior æstimata cœno, "worse than any dirt or dunghill." Her embraces were not so acceptable, as now her looks be terrible: thou hadst better behold a Gorgon's head, than Helen's carcass.
Some are of opinion, that to see a woman naked is able of itself to alter his affection; and it is worthy of consideration, saith Montaigne the Frenchman in his Essays, that the skilfulest masters of amorous dalliance, appoint for a remedy of venerous passions, a full survey of the body; which the poet insinuates,
"Ille quod obscænas in aperto corpore partes
Viderat, in cursu qui fuit, hæsit amor."
"The love stood still, that run in full career,
When once it saw those parts should not appear."
It is reported of Seleucus, king of Syria, that seeing his wife Stratonice's bald pate, as she was undressing her by chance, he could never affect her after. Remundus Lullius, the physician, spying an ulcer or cancer in his mistress' breast, whom he so dearly loved, from that day following abhorred the looks of her. Philip the French king, as Neubrigensis, lib. 4. cap. 24. relates it, married the king of Denmark's daughter, "and after he had used her as a wife one night, because her breath stunk, they say, or for some other secret fault, sent her back again to her father." Peter Mattheus, in the life of Lewis the Eleventh, finds fault with our English chronicles, for writing how Margaret the king of Scots' daughter, and wife to Louis the Eleventh, French king, was ob graveolentiam oris, rejected by her husband. Many such matches are made for by-respects, or some seemly comeliness, which after honeymoon's past, turn to bitterness: for burning lust is but a flash, a gunpowder passion; and hatred oft follows in the highest degree, dislike and contempt.
--"Cum se cutis arida laxat,
Fiunt obscuri dentes" --
(Juvenal. "When the wrinkled skin becomes flabby, and the teeth black.")
when they wax old, and ill-favoured, they may commonly no longer abide them,-- Jam gravis es nobis, Be gone, they grow stale, fulsome, loathsome, odious, thou art a beastly filthy quean,-- faciem Phœbe cacantis habes, thou art Saturni podex, withered and dry, insipida et vetula, -- Te quia rugæ turpant, et capitis nives, (Tully in Cat. "Because wrinkles and hoary locks disfigure you.") (I say) be gone, portæ patent, proficiscere.
Yea, but you will infer, your mistress is complete, of a most absolute form in all men's opinions, no exceptions can be taken at her, nothing may be added to her person, nothing detracted, she is the mirror of women for her beauty, comeliness and pleasant grace, inimitable, meræ deliciæ, meri lepores, she is Myrothetium Veneris, Gratiarum pixis, a mere magazine of natural perfections, she hath all the Veneres and Graces,-- mille faces et mille figuras, in each part absolute and complete, Læta genas læta os roseum, vaga lumina læta: (Locheus. "Beautiful cheeks, rosy lips, and languishing eyes.") to be admired for her person, a most incomparable, unmatchable piece, aurea proles, ad simulachrum alicujus numinis composita, a Phœnix, vernantis ætatulæ Venerilla, a nymph, a fairy, like Venus herself when she was a maid, nulli secunda, a mere quintessence, flores spirans et amaracum, fœminæ prodigium: put case she be, how long will she continue? Florem decoris singuli carpunt dies: "Every day detracts from her person," and this beauty is bonum fragile, a mere flash, a Venice glass, quickly broken,
"Anceps forma bonum mortalibus,
--exigui donum breve temporis,"
(Seneca Hyp. "Beauty is a gift of dubious worth to mortals, and of brief duration.")
it will not last. As that fair flower Adonis, which we call an anemone, flourisheth but one month, this gracious all-commanding beauty fades in an instant. It is a jewel soon lost, the painter's goddess, fulsa veritas, a mere picture. "Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vanity," Prov. xxxi. 30.
"Vitrea gemmula, fluxaque bullula, candida forma est,
Nix, rosa, fumus, ventus et aura, nihil."
"A brittle gem, bubble, is beauty pale,
A rose, dew, snow, smoke, wind, air, nought at all."
If she be fair, as the saying is, she is commonly a fool: if proud, scornful, sequiturque superbia formam, or dishonest, rara est concordia formæ, atque pudicitiæ, "can she be fair and honest too?" Aristo, the son of Agasicles, married a Spartan lass, the fairest lady in all Greece next to Helen, but for her conditions the most abominable and beastly creature of the world. So that I would wish thee to respect, with Seneca, not her person but qualities. "Will you say that's a good blade which hath a gilded scabbard, embroidered with gold and jewels? No, but that which hath a good edge and point, well tempered metal, able to resist." This beauty is of the body alone, and what is that, but as Gregory Nazianzen telleth us, "a mock of time and sickness?" or as Boethius, "as mutable as a flower, and 'tis not nature so makes us, but most part the infirmity of the beholder." For ask another, he sees no such matter: Dic mihi per gratias qualis tibi videtur, "I pray thee tell me how thou likest my sweetheart," as she asked her sister in Aristenætus, "whom I so much admire, methinks he is the sweetest gentleman, the properest man that ever I saw: but I am in love, I confess (nec pudet fateri) and cannot therefore well judge." But be she fair indeed, golden-haired, as Anacreon his Bathillus, (to examine particulars) she have Flammeolos oculos, collaque lacteola, (Luc. Brugensis. "Bright eyes and snow-white neck.") a pure sanguine complexion, little mouth, coral lips, white teeth, soft and plump neck, body, hands, feet, all fair and lovely to behold, composed of all graces, elegances, an absolute piece,
"Lumina sint Melitæ Junonia, dextra Minervæ,
Mamillæ Veneris, sura maris dominæ," &c.
(Idem. "Let my Melita's eyes be like Juno's, her hand Minerva's, her breasts Venus', her leg Amphitiles'.")
Let her head be from Prague, paps out of Austria, belly from France, back from Brabant, hands out of England, feet from Rhine, buttocks from Switzerland, let her have the Spanish gait, the Venetian tire, Italian compliment and endowments:
"Candida sideriis ardescant lumina flammis,
Sudent colla rosas, et cedat crinibus aurum,
Mellea purpurem depromant ora ruborem;
Fulgeat, ac Venerem coelesti corpore vincat,
Forma dearum omnis," &c.
(Petron. Cat. "Let her eyes be as bright as the stars, her neck smell like the rose, her hair shine more than gold, her honied lips be ruby coloured; let her beauty be resplendent, and superior to Venus, let her be in all respects a deity," &c.)
Let her be such a one throughout, as Lucian deciphers in his Imagines, as Euphranor of old painted Venus, Aristænetus describes Lais, another Helena, Chariclea, Leucippe, Lucretia, Pandora; let her have a box of beauty to repair herself still, such a one as Venus gave Phaon, when he carried her over the ford; let her use all helps art and nature can yield; be like her, and her, and whom thou wilt, or all these in one; a little sickness, a fever, small-pox, wound, scar, loss of an eye, or limb, a violent passion, a distemperature of heat or cold, mars all in an instant, disfigures all; child-bearing, old age, that tyrant time will turn Venus to Erinnys; raging time, care, rivels her upon a sudden; after she hath been married a small while, and the black ox hath trodden on her toe, she will be so much altered, and wax out of favour, thou wilt not know her. One grows too fat, another too lean, &c., modest Matilda, pretty pleasing Peg, sweet-singing Susan, mincing merry Moll, dainty dancing Doll, neat Nancy, jolly Joan, nimble Nell, kissing Kate, bouncing Bess, with black eyes, fair Phyllis, with fine white hands, fiddling Frank, tall Tib, slender Sib, &c., will quickly lose their grace, grow fulsome, stale, sad, heavy, dull, sour, and all at last out of fashion. Ubi jam vultus argutia, suavis suavitatio, blandus, risus, &c. Those fair sparkling eyes will look dull, her soft coral lips will be pale, dry, cold, rough, and blue, her skin rugged, that soft and tender superficies will be hard and harsh, her whole complexion change in a moment, and as Matilda writ to King John.
"I am not now as when thou saw'st me last,
That favour soon is vanished and past;
That rosy blush lapt in a lily vale,
Now is with morphew overgrown and pale."
'Tis so in the rest, their beauty fades as a tree in winter, which Dejanira hath elegantly expressed in the poet,
"Deforme solis aspicis truncis nemus?
Sic nostra longum forma percurrens iter,
Deperdit aliquid semper, et fulget minus,
Malisque minus est quiquid in nobis fuit,
Olim petitum cecidit, et partu labat,
Maturque multum rapuit ex illa mihi,
Ætas citato senior eripuit gradu."
"And as a tree that in the green wood grows,
With fruit and leaves, and in the summer blows,
In winter like a stock deformed shows:
Our beauty takes his race and journey goes,
And doth decrease, and lose, and come to nought,
Admir'd of old, to this by child-birth brought:
And mother hath bereft me of my grace,
And crooked old age coming on apace."
To conclude with Chrysostom, "When thou seest a fair and beautiful person, a brave Bonaroba, a bella donna, quæ salivam moveat, lepidam puellam et quam tu facile ames, a comely woman, having bright eyes, a merry countenance, a shining lustre in her look, a pleasant grace, wringing thy soul, and increasing thy concupiscence; bethink with thyself that it is but earth thou lovest, a mere excrement, which so vexeth thee, which thou so admirest, and thy raging soul will be at rest. Take her skin from her face, and thou shalt see all loathsomeness under it, that beauty is a superficial skin and bones, nerves, sinews: suppose her sick, now rivelled, hoary-headed, hollow-cheeked, old; within she is full of filthy phlegm, stinking, putrid, excremental stuff: snot and snivel in her nostrils, spittle in her mouth, water in her eyes, what filth in her brains," &c. Or take her at best, and look narrowly upon her in the light, stand near her, nearer yet, thou shalt perceive almost as much, and love less, as Cardan well writes, minus amant qui acute vident, though Scaliger deride him for it: if he see her near, or look exactly at such a posture, whosoever he is, according to the true rules of symmetry and proportion, those I mean of Albertus Durer, Lomatius and Tasnier, examine him of her. If he be elegans formarum spectator he shall find many faults in physiognomy, and ill colour: if form, one side of the face likely bigger than the other, or crooked nose, bad eyes, prominent veins, concavities about the eyes, wrinkles, pimples, red streaks, freckles, hairs, warts, neves, inequalities, roughness, scabredity, paleness, yellowness, and as many colours as are in a turkeycock's neck, many indecorums in their other parts; est quod desideres, est quod amputes, one leers, another frowns, a third gapes, squints, &c. And 'tis true that he saith, Diligenter consideranti raro facies absoluta, et quæ vitio caret, seldom shall you find an absolute face without fault, as I have often observed; not in the face alone is this defect or disproportion to be found; but in all the other parts, of body and mind; she is fair, indeed, but foolish; pretty, comely, and decent, of a majestical presence, but peradventure, imperious, dishonest, acerba, iniqua, self-willed: she is rich, but deformed; hath a sweet face, but bad carriage, no bringing up, a rude and wanton flirt; a neat body she hath, but it is a nasty quean otherwise, a very slut, of a bad kind. As flowers in a garden have colour some, but no smell, others have a fragrant smell, but are unseemly to the eye; one is unsavoury to the taste as rue, as bitter as wormwood, and yet a most medicinal cordial flower, most acceptable to the stomach; so are men and women; one is well qualified, but of ill proportion, poor and base: a good eye she hath, but a bad hand and foot, fœda pedes et fœda manus, a fine leg, bad teeth, a vast body, &c. Examine all parts of body and mind, I advise thee to inquire of all. See her angry, merry, laugh, weep, hot, cold, sick, sullen, dressed, undressed, in all attires, sites, gestures, passions, eat her meals, &c., and in some of these you will surely dislike. Yea, not her only let him observe, but her parents how they carry themselves: for what deformities, defects, encumbrances of body or mind be in them at such an age, they will likely be subject to, be molested in like manner, they will patrizare or matrizare. And withal let him take notice of her companions, in convictu (as Quiverra prescribes) , et quibuscum conversetur, whom she converseth with. Noscitur ex comite, qui non cognoscitur ex se. ("Show me your company and I'll tell you who you are.") According to Thucydides, she is commonly the best, de quo minimus foras habetur sermo, that is least talked of abroad. For if she be a noted reveller, a gadder, a singer, a pranker or dancer, than take heed of her. For what saith Theocritus?
"At vos festivæ ne ne saltate puellæ,
En malus hireus adest in vos saltare paratus."
("Hark, you merry maids, do not dance so, for see the he-goat is at hand, ready to pounce upon you.")
Young men will do it when they come to it. Fauns and satyrs will certainly play wreeks, when they come in such wanton Baccho's or Elenora's presence. Now when they shall perceive any such obliquity, indecency, disproportion, deformity, bad conditions, &c., let them still ruminate on that, and as Hædus adviseth out of Ovid, earum mendas notent, note their faults, vices, errors, and think of their imperfections; 'tis the next way to divert and mitigate love's furious headstrong passions; as a peacock's feet, and filthy comb, they say, make him forget his fine feathers, and pride of his tail; she is lovely, fair, well-favoured, well qualified, courteous and kind, "but if she be not so to me, what care I how kind she be?" I say with Philostratus, formosa aliis, mihi superba, she is a tyrant to me, and so let her go. Besides these outward neves or open faults, errors, there be many inward infirmities, secret, some private (which I will omit) , and some more common to the sex, sullen fits, evil qualities, filthy diseases, in this case fit to be considered; consideratio foeditatis mulierum, menstruæ imprimis, quam immundæ sunt, quam Savanarola proponit regula septima penitus observandam; et Platina dial. amoris fuse perstringit. Lodovicus Bonacsialus, mulieb. lib. 2. cap. 2. Pet. Hædus, Albertus, et infiniti fere medici. A lover, in Calcagninus's Apologies, wished with all his heart he were his mistress's ring, to hear, embrace, see, and do I know not what: O thou fool, quoth the ring, if thou wer'st in my room, thou shouldst hear, observe, and see pudenda et pœnitenda, that which would make thee loathe and hate her, yea, peradventure, all women for her sake.
I will say nothing of the vices of their minds, their pride, envy, inconstancy, weakness, malice, selfwill, lightness, insatiable lust, jealousy, Ecclus. v. 14. "No malice to a woman's, no bitterness like to hers," Eccles. vii. 21. and as the same author urgeth, Prov. xxxi. 10. "Who shall find a virtuous woman?" He makes a question of it. Neque jus neque bonum, neque æquum sciunt, melius pejus, prosit, obsit, nihil vident, nisi quod libido suggerit. "They know neither good nor bad, be it better or worse" (as the comical poet hath it) , "beneficial or hurtful, they will do what they list."
"Insidiæ humani generis, querimonia vitæ,
Exuviæ noctis, durissima cura diei,
Poena virum, nex et juvenum," &c.--
(Lædieus. "Snares of the human species, torments of life, spoils of the night, bitterest cares of day, the torture of husbands, the ruin of youths.")
And to that purpose were they first made, as Jupiter insinuates in the poet;
"The fire that bold Prometheus stole from me,
With plagues call'd women shall revenged be,
On whose alluring and enticing face,
Poor mortals doting shall their death embrace."
In fine, as Diogenes concludes in Nevisanus, Nulla est fœmina quæ non habeat quid: they have all their faults.
Every each of them hath some vices,
If one be full of villainy,
Another hath a liquorish eye,
If one be full of wantonness,
Another is a chideress.
When Leander was drowned, the inhabitants of Sestos consecrated Hero's lantern to Anteros, Anteroti sacrum, and he that had good success in his love should light the candle: but never any man was found to light it; which I can refer to nought, but the inconstancy and lightness of women.
"For in a thousand, good there is not one;
All be so proud, unthankful, and unkind,
With flinty hearts, careless of other's moan.
In their own lusts carried most headlong blind,
But more herein to speak I am forbidden;
Sometimes for speaking truth one may be chidden."
I am not willing, you see, to prosecute the cause against them, and therefore take heed you mistake me not, matronam nullam ego tango, I honour the sex, with all good men, and as I ought to do, rather than displease them, I will voluntarily take the oath which Mercurius Britannicus took, Viragin. descript. tib. 2. fol. 95. Me nihil unquam mali nobilissimo sexui, vel verbo, vel facto machinaturum, &c., let Simonides, Mantuan, Platina, Pet. Aretine, and such women-haters bare the blame, if aught be said amiss; I have not writ a tenth of that which might be urged out of them and others; non possunt invectivæ omnes, et satiræ in fœminas scriptæ, uno volumine comprehendi. And that which I have said (to speak truth) no more concerns them than men, though women be more frequently named in this tract; (to apologise once for all) I am neither partial against them, or therefore bitter; what is said of the one, mutato nomine, may most part be understood of the other. My words are like Passus' picture in Lucian, of whom, when a good fellow had bespoke a horse to be painted with his heels upwards, tumbling on his back, he made him passant: now when the fellow came for his piece, he was very angry, and said, it was quite opposite to his mind; but Passus instantly turned the picture upside down, showed him the horse at that site which he requested, and so gave him satisfaction. If any man take exception at my words, let him alter the name, read him for her, and 'tis all one in effect.
But to my purpose: If women in general be so bad (and men worse than they) what a hazard is it to marry? where shall a man find a good wife, or a woman a good husband? A woman a man may eschew, but not a wife: wedding is undoing (some say) marrying marring, wooing woeing: "a wife is a fever hectic," as Scaliger calls her, "and not be cured but by death," as out of Menander, Athenæus adds,
"In pelaprus te jacis negotiorum,--
Non Libyum, non Ægeum, ubi ex triginta non pereunt
Tria navigia: duceus uxorem servatur prorsus nemo."
"Thou wadest into a sea itself of woes;
In Libya and Ægean each man knows
Of thirty not three ships are cast away,
But on this rock not one escapes, I say."
The worldly cares, miseries, discontents, that accompany marriage, I pray you learn of them that have experience, for I have none; παιδας εγω λογους εγενησαμην [paidas ego logoys egensamen] , libri mentis liberi. For my part I'll dissemble with him,
"Este procul nymphæ, fallax genus este puellæ,
Vita jugata meo non facit ingenio: me juvat," &c.
("Avaunt, ye nymphs, maidens, ye are a deceitful race, no married life for me," &c.)
many married men exclaim at the miseries of it, and rail at wives downright; I never tried, but as I hear some of them say, Mare haud mare, vos mare acerrimum, an Irish Sea is not so turbulent and raging as a litigious wife.
"Scylla et Charybdis Sicula contorquens freta,
Minus est timenda, nulla non melior fera est."
"Scylla and Charybdis are less dangerous,
There is no beast that is so noxious."
Which made the devil belike, as most interpreters hold, when he had taken away Job's goods, corporis et fortunæ bona, health, children, friends, to persecute him the more, leave his wicked wife, as Pineda proves out of Tertullian, Cyprian, Austin, Chrysostom, Prosper, Gaudentius, &c. ut novum calamitatis inde genus viro existeret, to vex and gall him worse quam totus infernus than all the fiends in hell, as knowing the conditions of a bad woman. Jupiter non tribuit homini pestilentius malum, saith Simonides: "better dwell with a dragon or a lion, than keep house with a wicked wife," Ecclus. xxv. 18. "better dwell in a wilderness," Prov. xxi. 19. "no wickedness like to her," Ecclus. xxv. 22. "She makes a sorry heart, an heavy countenance, a wounded mind, weak hands, and feeble knees," vers. 25. "A woman and death are two the bitterest things in the world:" uxor mihi ducenda est hodie, id mihi visus est dicere, abi domum et suspende te. Ter. And. 1. 5. And yet for all this we bachelors desire to be married; with that vestal virgin, we long for it, Felices nuptæ! moriar, nisi nubere dulce est. 'Tis the sweetest thing in the world, I would I had a wife saith he,
"For fain would I leave a single life,
If I could get me a good wife."
Heigh-ho for a husband, cries she, a bad husband, nay, the worst that ever was is better than none: O blissful marriage, O most welcome marriage, and happy are they that are so coupled: we do earnestly seek it, and are never well till we have effected it. But with what fate? like those birds in the Emblem, that fed about a cage, so long as they could fly away at their pleasure liked well of it; but when they were taken and might not get loose, though they had the same meat, pined away for sullenness, and would not eat. So we commend marriage,
--"donec miselli liberi
Aspicimus dominam; sed postquam heu janua clausa est,
Fel intus est quod mel fuit:"
"So long as we are wooers, may kiss and coll at our pleasure, nothing is so sweet, we are in heaven as we think; but when we are once tied, and have lost our liberty, marriage is an hell," "give me my yellow hose again:" a mouse in a trap lives as merrily, we are in a purgatory some of us, if not hell itself. Dulce bellum inexpertis, as the proverb is, 'tis fine talking of war, and marriage sweet in contemplation, till it be tried: and then as wars are most dangerous, irksome, every minute at death's door, so is, &c. When those wild Irish peers, saith Stanihurst, were feasted by king Henry the Second, (at what time he kept his Christmas at Dublin) and had tasted of his prince-like cheer, generous wines, dainty fare, had seen his massy plate of silver, gold, enamelled, beset with jewels, golden candlesticks, goodly rich hangings, brave furniture, heard his trumpets sound, fifes, drums, and his exquisite music in all kinds: when they had observed his majestical presence as he sat in purple robes, crowned, with his sceptre, &c., in his royal seat, the poor men were so amazed, enamoured, and taken with the object, that they were pertæsi domestici et pristini tyrotarchi, as weary and ashamed of their own sordidity and manner of life. They would all be English forthwith; who but English! but when they had now submitted themselves, and lost their former liberty, they began to rebel some of them, others repent of what they had done, when it was too late. 'Tis so with us bachelors, when we see and behold those sweet faces, those gaudy shows that women make, observe their pleasant gestures and graces, give ear to their siren tunes, see them dance, &c., we think their conditions are as fine as their faces, we are taken, with dumb signs, in amplexum ruimus, we rave, we burn, and would fain be married. But when we feel the miseries, cares, woes, that accompany it, we make our moan many of us, cry out at length and cannot be released. If this be true now, as some out of experience will inform us, farewell wiving for my part, and as the comical poet merrily saith,
"Perdatur ille pessime qui fœminam
Duxit secundus, nam nihil primo imprecor!
Ignarus ut puto mali primus fuit."
"Foul fall him that brought the second match to pass,
The first I wish no harm, poor man alas!
He knew not what he did, nor what it was."
What shall I say to him that marries again and again, Stulta maritali qui porrigit ora capistro, (Juvenal. "Who thrusts his foolish neck a second time into the halter.") I pity him not, for the first time he must do as he may, bear it out sometimes by the head and shoulders, and let his next neighbour ride, or else run away, or as that Syracusian in a tempest, when all ponderous things were to be exonerated out of the ship, quia maximum pondus erat, fling his wife into the sea. But this I confess is comically spoken, and so I pray you take it. In sober sadness, marriage is a bondage, a thraldom, a yoke, a hindrance to all good enterprises, ("he hath married a wife and cannot come") a stop to all preferments, a rock on which many are saved, many impinge and are cast away: not that the thing is evil in itself or troublesome, but full of all contentment and happiness, one of the three things which please God, "when a man and his wife agree together," an honourable and happy estate, who knows it not? If they be sober, wise, honest, as the poet infers,
"Si commodos nanciscantur amores,
Nullum iis abest voluptatis genus."
"If fitly match'd be man and wife,
No pleasure's wanting to their life."
But to undiscreet sensual persons, that as brutes are wholly led by sense, it is a feral plague, many times a hell itself, and can give little or no content, being that they are often so irregular and prodigious in their lusts, so diverse in their affections. Uxor nomen dignitatis, non voluptatis, as he said, a wife is a name of honour, not of pleasure: she is fit to bear the office, govern a family, to bring up children, sit at a board's end and carve, as some carnal men think and say; they had rather go to the stews, or have now and then a snatch as they can come by it, borrow of their neighbours, than have wives of their own; except they may, as some princes and great men do, keep as many courtesans as they will themselves, fly out impune, Permolere uxores alienas, that polygamy of Turks, Lex Julia, with Cæsar once enforced in Rome, (though Levinus Torrentius and others suspect it) uti uxores quot et quas vellent liceret, that every great man might marry, and keep as many wives as he would, or Irish divorcement were in use: but as it is, 'tis hard and gives not that satisfaction to these carnal men, beastly men as too many are: What still the same, to be tied to one, be she never so fair, never so virtuous, is a thing they may not endure, to love one long. Say thy pleasure, and counterfeit as thou wilt, as Parmeno told Thais, Neque tu uno eris contenta, "one man will never please thee;" nor one woman many men. But as Pan replied to his father Mercury, when he asked whether he was married, Nequaquam pater, amator enim sum &c. "No, father, no, I am a lover still, and cannot be contented with one woman." Pythias, Echo, Menades, and I know not how many besides, were his mistresses, he might not abide marriage. Varietas delectat, 'tis loathsome and tedious, what one still? which the satirist said of Iberina, is verified in most,
"Unus Iberinæ vir sufficit? ocyus illud
Extorquebis ut hæc oculo contenta sit uno."
"'Tis not one man will serve her by her will,
As soon she'll have one eye as one man still."
As capable of any impression as materia prima itself, that still desires new forms, like the sea their affections ebb and flow. Husband is a cloak for some to hide their villainy; once married she may fly out at her pleasure, the name of husband is a sanctuary to make all good. Eo ventum (saith Seneca) ut nulla virum habeat, nisi ut irritet adulterum. They are right and straight, as true Trojans as mine host's daughter, that Spanish wench in Ariosto, as good wives as Messalina. Many men are as constant in their choice, and as good husbands as Nero himself, they must have their pleasure of all they see, and are in a word far more fickle than any woman.
For either they be full of jealousy,
Or masterfull, or loven novelty
Good men have often ill wives, as bad as Xanthippe was to Socrates, Elevora to St. Lewis, Isabella to our Edward the Second; and good wives are as often matched to ill husbands, as Mariamne to Herod, Serena to Diocletian, Theodora to Theophilus, and Thyra to Gurmunde. But I will say nothing of dissolute and bad husbands, of bachelors and their vices; their good qualities are a fitter subject for a just volume, too well known already in every village, town and city, they need no blazon; and lest I should mar any matches, or dishearten loving maids, for this present I will let them pass.
Being that men and women are so irreligious, depraved by nature, so wandering in their affections, so brutish, so subject to disagreement, so unobservant of marriage rites, what shall I say? If thou beest such a one, or thou light on such a wife, what concord can there be, what hope of agreement? 'tis not conjugium but conjurgium, as the Reed and Fern in the Emblem, averse and opposite in nature: 'tis twenty to one thou wilt not marry to thy contentment: but as in a lottery forty blanks were drawn commonly for one prize, out of a multitude you shall hardly choose a good one: a small ease hence then, little comfort,
"Nec integrum unquam transiges lætus diem."
"If he or she be such a one,
Thou hadst much better be alone."
If she be barren, she is not -- &c. If she have children, and thy state be not good, though thou be wary and circumspect, thy charge will undo thee,-- fœcunda domum tibi prole gravabit, thou wilt not be able to bring them up, "and what greater misery can there be than to beget children, to whom thou canst leave no other inheritance but hunger and thirst?" cum fames dominatur, strident voces rogantium panem, penetrantes patris cor: what so grievous as to turn them up to the wide world, to shift for themselves? No plague like to want: and when thou hast good means, and art very careful of their education, they will not be ruled. Think but of that old proverb, ηρωων τεκνα πηματα [eroon tekna pemata], heroum filii noxæ, great men's sons seldom do well; O utinam aut cœlebs mansissem, aut prole carerem! "would that I had either remained single, or not had children," Augustus exclaims in Suetonius. Jacob had his Reuben, Simeon and Levi; David an Amnon, an Absalom, Adoniah; wise men's sons are commonly fools, insomuch that Spartian concludes, Neminem prope magnorum virorum optimum et utilem reliquisse filium: they had been much better to have been childless. 'Tis too common in the middle sort; thy son's a drunkard, a gamester, a spendthrift; thy daughter a fool, a whore; thy servants lazy drones and thieves; thy neighbours devils, they will make thee weary of thy life. "If thy wife be froward, when she may not have her will, thou hadst better be buried alive; she will be so impatient, raving still, and roaring like Juno in the tragedy, there's nothing but tempests, all is in an uproar." If she be soft and foolish, thou wert better have a block, she will shame thee and reveal thy secrets; if wise and learned, well qualified, there is as much danger on the other side, mulierem doctam ducere periculosissimum, saith Nevisanus, she will be too insolent and peevish, Malo Venusinam quam te Cornelia mater. (Juvenal. "I would rather have a Venusinian wench than thee, Cornelia, mother of the Gracchi," &c.) Take heed; if she be a slut, thou wilt loathe her; if proud, she'll beggar thee, so "she'll spend thy patrimony in baubles, all Arabia will not serve to perfume her hair," saith Lucian; if fair and wanton, she'll make thee a cornuto; if deformed, she will paint. "If her face be filthy by nature, she will mend it by art," alienis et adscititiis imposturis, "which who can endure?" If she do not paint, she will look so filthy, thou canst not love her, and that peradventure will make thee dishonest. Cromerus lib. 12. hist., relates of Casimirus, that he was unchaste, because his wife Aleida, the daughter of Henry, Landgrave of Hesse, was so deformed. If she be poor, she brings beggary with her (saith Nevisanus) , misery and discontent. If you marry a maid, it is uncertain how she proves, Hæc forsan veniet non satis apta tibi. ( "Perhaps she will not suit you.") If young, she is likely wanton and untaught; if lusty, too lascivious; and if she be not satisfied, you know where and when, nil nisi jurgia, all is in an uproar, and there is little quietness to be had; If an old maid, 'tis a hazard she dies in childbed; if a rich widow, induces te in laqueum, thou dost halter thyself, she will make all away beforehand, to her other children, &c.-- dominam quis possit ferre tonantem? ("Who can endure a virago for a wife?") she will hit thee still in the teeth with her first husband; if a young widow, she is often insatiable and immodest. If she be rich, well descended, bring a great dowry, or be nobly allied, thy wife's friends will eat thee out of house and home, dives ruinam ædibus inducit, she will be so proud, so high-minded, so imperious. For -- nihil est magis intolerabile dite, "there's nothing so intolerable," thou shalt be as the tassel of a goshawk, "she will ride upon thee, domineer as she list," wear the breeches in her oligarchical government, and beggar thee besides. Uxores divites servitutem exigunt (as Seneca hits them, declam. lib. 2. declam. 6.) -- Dotem accepi imperium perdidi. They will have sovereignty, pro conjuge dominam arcessis, they will have attendance, they will do what they list. In taking a dowry thou losest thy liberty, dos intrat, libertas exit, hazardest thine estate.
"Hæ sunt atque aliæ multæ in magnis dotibus
Incommoditates, sumptusque intolerabiles," &c.
"with many such inconveniences:" say the best, she is a commanding servant; thou hadst better have taken a good housewife maid in her smock. Since then there is such hazard, if thou be wise keep thyself as thou art, 'tis good to match, much better to be free.
" -- procreare liberos lepidissimum.
Hercle vero liberum esse, id multo est lepidius."
(Plautus Mil. Glor. act. 3. sc. 1. "To be a father is very pleasant, but to be a freeman still more so.")
Art thou young? then match not yet; if old, match not at all.
"Vis juvenis nubere? nondum venit tempus.
Ingravescente ætate jam tempus præteriit."
And therefore, with that philosopher, still make answer to thy friends that importune thee to marry, adhuc intempestivum, 'tis yet unseasonable, and ever will be.
Consider withal how free, how happy, how secure, how heavenly, in respect, a single man is, as he said in the comedy, Et isti quod fortunatum esse autumant, uxorem nunquam habui, and that which all my neighbours admire and applaud me for, account so great a happiness, I never had a wife; consider how contentedly, quietly, neatly, plentifully, sweetly, and how merrily he lives! he hath no man to care for but himself, none to please, no charge, none to control him, is tied to no residence, no cure to serve, may go and come, when, whither, live where he will, his own master, and do what he list himself. Consider the excellency of virgins, Virgo cœlum meruit, marriage replenisheth the earth, but virginity Paradise; Elias, Eliseus, John Baptist, were bachelors: virginity is a precious jewel, a fair garland, a never-fading flower; for why was Daphne turned to a green bay-tree, but to show that virginity is immortal?
"Ut flos in septis secretus nascitur hortis,
Ignotus pecori, nullo contusus aratro,
Quam mulcent auræ, firmat sol, educat imber, &c.
Sic virgo dum intacta manet, dum chara suis, sed
Cum Castum amisit," &c.--
(Catul. car. nuptiali. "As the flower that grows in the secret inclosure of the garden, unknown to the flocks, impressed by the ploughshare, which also the breezes refresh, the heat strengthens, the rain makes grow: so is a virgin whilst untouched, whilst dear to her relatives, but when once she forfeits her chastity," &c)
Virginity is a fine picture, as Bonaventure calls it, a blessed thing in itself, and if you will believe a Papist, meritorious. And although there be some inconveniences, irksomeness, solitariness, &c., incident to such persons, want of those comforts, quæ, ægro assideat et curet ægrotum, fomentum paret, roget medieum, &c., embracing, dalliance, kissing, colling, &c., those furious motives and wanton pleasures a new-married wife most part enjoys; yet they are but toys in respect, easily to be endured, if conferred to those frequent encumbrances of marriage. Solitariness may be otherwise avoided with mirth, music, good company, business, employment; in a word, Gaudebit minus, et minus dolebit; for their good nights, he shall have good days. And methinks some time or other, amongst so many rich bachelors, a benefactor should be found to build a monastical college for old, decayed, deformed, or discontented maids to live together in, that have lost their first loves, or otherwise miscarried, or else are willing howsoever to lead a single life. The rest I say are toys in respect, and sufficiently recompensed by those innumerable contents and incomparable privileges of virginity. Think of these things, confer both lives, and consider last of all these commodious prerogatives a bachelor hath, how well he is esteemed, how heartily welcome to all his friends, quam mentitis obsequiis, as Tertullian observes, with what counterfeit courtesies they will adore him, follow him, present him with gifts, humatis donis; "it cannot be believed" (saith Ammianus) "with what humble service he shall be worshipped," how loved and respected: "If he want children, (and have means) he shall be often invited, attended on by princes, and have advocates to plead his cause for nothing," as Plutarch adds. Wilt thou then be reverenced, and had in estimation?
--"dominus tamen et domini rex
Si tu vis fieri, nullus tibi parvulus aula.
Luserit Æneas, nec filia dulcior illa?
Jucundum et charum sterilis facit uxor amicum."
(Annal. 11. "If you wish to be master of your house, let no little ones play in your halls, nor any little daughter yet more dear, a barren wife makes a pleasant and affectionate companion.")
Live a single man, marry not, and thou shalt soon perceive how those Hæredipetæ (for so they were called of old) will seek after thee, bribe and flatter thee for thy favour, to be thine heir or executor: Aruntius and Aterius, those famous parasites in this kind, as Tacitus and Seneca have recorded, shall not go beyond them. Periplectomines, that good personate old man, delicium senis, well understood this in Plautus: for when Pleusides exhorted him to marry that he might have children of his own, he readily replied in this sort,
"Quando habeo multos cognatos, quid opus mihi sit liberis?
Nunc bene vivo et fortunate, atque animo ut lubet.
Mea bona mea morte cognatis dicam interpartiant.
Illi apud me edunt, me curant, visunt quid agam, ecquid velim,
Qui mihi mittunt munera, ad prandium, ad coenam vocant."
"Whilst I have kin, what need I brats to have?
Now I live well, and as I will, most brave.
And when I die, my goods I'll give away
To them that do invite me every day.
That visit me, and send me pretty toys,
And strive who shall do me most courtesies."
This respect thou shalt have in like manner, living as he did, a single man. But if thou marry once, cogitato in omni vita te servum fore, bethink thyself what a slavery it is, what a heavy burden thou shalt undertake, how hard a task thou art tied to, (for as Hierome hath it, qui uxorem habet, debitor est, et uxoris servus alligatus,) and how continuate, what squalor attends it, what irksomeness, what charges, for wife and children are a perpetual bill of charges; besides a myriad of cares, miseries, and troubles; for as that comical Plautus merrily and truly said, he that wants trouble, must get to be master of a ship, or marry a wife; and as another seconds him, wife and children have undone me; so many and such infinite encumbrances accompany this kind of life. Furthermore, uxor intumuit, &c., or as he said in the comedy, Duxi uxorem, quam ibi miseriam vidi, nati filii, alia cura. (Ter. Adelph. "I have married a wife; what misery it has entailed upon me! sons were born and other cares followed.") All gifts and invitations cease, no friend will esteem thee, and thou shalt be compelled to lament thy misery, and make thy moan with Bartholomeus Scheræus, that famous poet laureate, and professor of Hebrew in Wittenberg: I had finished this work long since, but that inter alia dura et tristia quæ misero mihi pene tergum fregerunt, (I use his own words) amongst many miseries which almost broke my back, συζυγια [syzygia] ob Xantipismum, a shrew to my wife tormented my mind above measure, and beyond the rest. So shalt thou be compelled to complain, and to cry out at last, with Phoroneus the lawyer, "How happy had I been, if I had wanted a wife!" If this which I have said will not suffice, see more in Lemnius lib. 4. cap. 13. de occult. nat. mir. Espensæus de continentia, lib. 6. cap. 8. Kornman de virginitate, Platina in Amor. dial. Practica artis amandi, Barbarus de re uxoria, Arnisæus in polit. cap. 3. and him that is instar omnium, Nevisanus the lawyer, Sylva nuptial, almost in every page.