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N° 194. THURSDAY, JULY 6, 1710.
Militat omnis amans.
Ovid. Amor. El. ix. ver. 1. The toils of love require a warrior's art, And every lover plays a soldier's part.
From my own Apartment, July 5. I was this morning reading the tenth canto in the fourth book of Spenser, in which Sir Scudamore relates the progress of his courtship to Amoret under a very beautiful allegory, which is one of the most natural and unmixed of any in that most excellent author. I sball transprose it, to use Mr. Bayes's term, for the benefit of many English Lovers, who have, by frequent letters, desired me to lay down some rules for the conduct of their virtuous amours; and shall only premise, that by the Shield of Love is meant a generous, constant passion for the person beloved.
“When the fame," says he, “ of this celebrated beauty first flew abroad, I went in pursuit of her to the Temple of Love. This temple," continues he, « bore the name of the goddess Venus, and was seated in a most fruitful island, walled by nature against all invaders. There was a single bridge that led into the island, and before it a castle garrisoned by twenty knights, Near the castle was an open plain, and in the midst of it a pillar, on wbich was hung the Shield of Love ; and underneath it, in letters of gold, was this inscription:
“ Happy the man who well can use his bliss; “ Whose ever be the shield, fair Amoret be his. “My heart panted upon reading the inscription : I struck upon the shield with my spear. Immediately issued forth a knight well mounted, and completely armed, who, without speaking, ran fiercely at me. I received him as well as I could, and by good fortune threw him out of the saddle. I encountered the whole twenty successively, and, leaving them all extended on the plain, carried off the shield in token of victory. Having thus vanquished my rivals, I passed on without impediment, until I came to the utmost gate of the bridge, which I found locked and barred. I knocked and called ; but could get no answer. At last I saw one on the other side of the gate, who stood peeping through a small crevice. This was the porter; he had a double face resembling a Janus, and was continually looking about him, as if he mistrusted some sudden danger. His name, as I afterwards learned, was Doubt. Overagainst him sat Delay, who entertained passengers with some idle story, while they lost such opportunities as were never to be recovered. As soon as the porter saw my shield, he opened the gate; but upon my entering, Delay caught hold of me, and would fain have made me listen to her fooleries. However, I shook her off, and passed forward, until I came to the second gate, The Gate of good Desert, which always stood wide open, but in the porch was an bideous giant, that stopped the entrance; his name was Danger. Many warriors of good reputation, not able to bear the sternness of his look, went back again. Cowards fled at the first sight of him; except some few, who, watching their opportunity, slipt by him unobserved. I prepared to assault him; but upon the first sight of my shield, he immediately gave way. Looking back upon him, I found his binder parts much more deformed and terrible than bis face; Hatred, Murder, Treason, Envy, and Detraction, lying in ambush behind him, to fall upon the heedless and unwary.
now entered the ‘Island of Love,' which appeared in all the beauties of art and nature, and feasted every sense with the most agreeable objects. Amidst a pleasing variety of walks and alleys, shady seats and flowery banks, sunny hills, and gloomy valleys, were thousands of lovers sitting, or walking together in pairs, and singing hymns to the deity of the place.
“I could not forbear envying this happy people. who were already in possession of all they could desire. While I went forward to the temple, the structure was beautiful beyond imagination. The gate stood open. In the entrance sat a most amiable woman, whose name was Concord.
« On either side of her stood two young men, both strongly armed, as if afraid of each other. As I afterwards learned, they were both her sons, but begotten of her by two different fathers; their names Love and Hatred.
“The lady so well tempered and reconciled them both, that she forced them to join hands; though I could not but observe, that Hatred turned aside his face, as not able to endure the sight of his younger brother.
“I at length entered the inmost temple, the roof of which was raised upon an hundred marble pillars, decked with crowns, chains, and garlands. The ground was strewed with flowers. An hundred altars, at each of which stood a virgin priestess clothed in white, blazed all at once with the sacrifice of
lovers, who were perpetually sending up their vows to heaven in clouds of incense. “ In the midst stood the Goddess herself
upon an altar whose substance was neither gold nor stone, but infinitely more precious than either. About her neck flew numberless flocks of little Loves, Joys, and Graces ; and all about her altar lay scattered heaps of lovers, complaining of the disdain, pride, or treachery of their mistresses. One among the rest, no longer able to contain his griefs, broke out into the following prayer:
“Venus, queen of grace and beauty, joy of gods and men, who with a smile becalmest the seas, and renewest all nature; Goddess, whom all the different species in the universe obey with joy and pleasure, grant that I may at last obtain the object of my vows.
“The impatient lover pronounced this with great vehemence; but I; in a soft murmur, besought the Goddess to lend me her assistance.
While I was thus praying, I chanced to cast my eye on a company of ladies, who were assembled together in a corner of the temple waiting for the anthem.
“ The foremost seemed something elder and of a more composed countenance than the rest, who all appeared to be under her direction. Her name was Womanhood. On one side of her sat Shamefacedness, with blushes rising in her cheeks, and her eyes fixed on the ground; on the other was Cheerfulness, with a smiling look, that infused a secret pleasure into the hearts of all who saw her. With these sat Modesty, holding her hand on her heart: Courtesy, with a grateful aspect, and obliging behaviour: and the two sisters, 'who were always linked together and resembled each other, Silence and Obedience.
Thus sat they all around in seemly rate,
“As soon as I beheld the charming Amoret, my heart throbbed with hopes. I stepped to her, and seized her hand; when Womanhood immediately rising up, sharply rebuked me for offering in so rude a manner to lay hold on a virgin. I excused myself as modestly as I could; and at the same time displayed my shield:
: upon which, as soon as she beheld the God emblazoned with his bow and shafts, she was struck mute, and instantly retired.
“I still beld fast the fair Amoret; and turning my eyes towards the Goddess of the place, saw that she favoured my pretensions with a smile, which so emboldened me that I carried off my prize.
“ The maid, sometimes with tears, sometimes with smiles, intreated me to let her go: but I led her through the temple gate, where the Goddess Concord, who had favoured my entrance, befriended my retreat."
This allegory is so nalural, that it explains itself. The persons in it are very artfully described, and disposed in proper places. The posts assigned to Doubt, Delay, and Danger, are admirable. The gate of Good Desert has somethiug noble and instructive in it. But above all I am most pleased with the beautiful groupe of figures in the corner of the temple. Among these Womanhood is drawn like what ihe philosophers call an Universal Nature, and