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N° 107. SATURDAY, MAY 16, 1780.
And love and war take turns like day and night.
In every art and science, practitioners complain how often they are deceived by specious theories and delusive speculation. Learned men, in the solitude of their studies, are apt to imagine, that nothing which they can reconcile to their own ideas upon paper can fail to be evinced by actual experiment, or to be reduced into easy and constant practice. But those who are to apply the doctrine to the fact, too often find, that what was infallible in the brain of the demonstrator, is sadly fallacious in the hands of him who is to execute it.
There is something, however, so delightful in this art of theory-building, that the experience of a thousand disappointments will never be able to extinguish it. Nor, indeed, should any body wish for its extinction, when it is remembered, that the person who builds is delighted with the expectation of suc. cess, and that other people are often little less pleased with tracing the disappointment. The last are flattered by seeing the superiority of science thus levelled and brought down; the first solaces himself by imputing the failure to errors in the execution, and shutting his closet-door, returns to fresh theories, and new speculation.
In the course of my reading, I have met with
two theoretical descriptions, which pleased me so much by the appearance they exhibited of self-satisfaction in the sages who composed them, that I cannot resist the desire of laying them before my readers in this day's paper.
The first I found in an obscure author of the reign of Queen Elizabeth, who, in tracing the progress of certain affections of the mind, thus personifies his ideas of Honourable Love.
When a young man,' says he, of illustrious s descent, rarely gifted by Nature in mind and body, • the which he hath, through the care of his noble
parents and his own special industry, much helped • by art, first cometh from the retired haunts of learning into the resort of the world, he is suddenly smitten by the beauty and rare accomplishments of
damsel, of parentage no less honour• able than his own, and of endowments no less pre* cious than those wherewith he himself is graced. • He seeketh all opportunities of converse with, and • of courtesy towards, her ; which nevertheless she, out of maiden-shyness, whereof her lady-mother
hath well instructed her, doth, with a determined 6 stateliness of aspect, most constantly avoid; whereat -- the young man being grieved in his mind, but no,
wise damped in his love, he resteth not till by all means he render himself more worthy of her regard, not only by excelling in all gentleman-like • exercises, such as dancing, horsemanship, skill in s his rapier, and the like, but likewise in all becoming softness of behaviour, and courtly niceness of speech,
adding thereunto the study of sweet poesy, wherei with, in curious sonnets, he speaketh the praise * of his mistress's manifold perfections. But she, nowise yielding to such flatteries, nor abating the
rigour of her looks, he sometimes complaineth of • his thraldom in more bitter terms, and for a while, * as seeking freedom from this fair tyrant, shun
neth her company, and resorteth to that of jovial companions, much given to the sports of the field, • and the joys of wine, thinking thereby to efface '* her image quite from his mind. But after no great
space, he groweth uneasy and unquiet, and though * stoutly denying all allegiance to that dominion, whereof he hath sworn to be free, he goeth secretly where he çan again steal a glance of her
lovely face, by one look of which being, as he • deemeth, encouraged to better hope, he reneweth « his suit with fresh warmth, renouncing his past
rebellion as a grievous sin, the which he is to • expiate by tenfold increased love, Nevertheless
she, willing to shew her power, thus marvellously confirmed and increased, demeaneth herself as haughe tily as before, and, haply, to punish his late treasonous lapse and falling off, seemeth to cast upon others more soft and favourable looks; whereat
our lover, being stung with envy and jealous ! wrath, doth encounter the chiefest of his rivals • with sharp and angry words ; which growing into ç keener and more deadly rage, they agree to decide
which is the worthiest by trial of arms; and hav, ing met, in some retired place, either on horseback • or on foot, attended by their squires, a furious ( combat ensueth, in which the valour of both shin, . eth out worthy of their noble birth, and of that • love wherewith it is more especially inflamed and spurred on. After various turns of fortune, and many wounds on both sides, our ļoyer doth, with
difficulty, master his adversary, to whom he shew*eth no less courtesy in defeat, than fierceness in fight.
After a time, having recovered of his VOL, XXXV,
• his wounds, at hearing whereof the lady hath shew*ed as much grief and pity as beseemeth a modest
maiden to shew for man, he appeareth before her, his arm scarfed, and his cheeks yet pale from loss of blood, and, kneeling at her feet, imploreth • forgiveness for past faults, and voweth constancy 6 and love, not shorter than he hath life to feel them, • and breath to utter; while she, without speaking a word, doth, by looks and silent blushes, in some
sort confess herself propitious to his vows; wheresof, having passed a probation of years, one or
more, he arriveth at the end of his wishes, and o obtaineth her consent to be his wedded wife. Last• ly, their noble parents being well satisfied with • this union of their blood, the marriage is celebrated, ' with much ceremony and pomp, at the castle of • the bride's princely father, whereat there is all • manner of good cheer, of dancing, and of minstrelsy • for many days.'
This theory of ancient love and courtship, instead of simplifying the matter, makes it much more difficult than, in modern practice at least, it is actually found. The lover now-a-days, finds but little of that stately pride and maiden shyness above described ; nor is he obliged to cultivate poetry to celebrate his mistress, nor to meet any rival attended by his squire, nor to suffer wounds and loss of blood for her sake, nor to go through a probation of years, one or
All he has to do is, to dance with the lady at a ball, say a few soft things to her in plain prose, then meet her father attended by his lawyer, go through a probation of deeds and settlements, and so proceed to the bridal ceremony, and to good cheer and jollity for as short or as long a time as he thinks proper.
The second theoretical description, which I shall
lay before may readers, is so far different from the first, that it renders a very confused and intricate business, as I have been told it is, perfectly clear and obvious to the meanest capacity. This, however, is by no means owing to any want in the theoretical situation of that incident or bustle which occurs in the real; on the contrary, the events are infinitely more numerous and astonishing in the first than in the latter, though the art of the theorist carries the imagination through them all with wonderful distinctness and regularity. The instance to which I allude is the description of a battle, given by the ingenious Mr. A. Boyer, in his French Dictionary, under the word Battaille.
Description of a Battle. • The two armies being in sight, the cannon roar . on each side ; and the signal of the fight being
given, they both move, and begin the encounter. • In the height of danger, the generals shew their • intrepidity by preserving their cool temper, and
by giving their orders without emotion and without • hurry. In the close engagement, the officers per• form wonders, and shew extraordinary valour and • judgment; and seconded by their men, who fight • like lions, they cut the enemy in pieces, kill and • overthrow all they meet in their way, break through • battalions, and bear down squadrons. Upon • the point of being overpowered by numbers, they
resolutely sustain the effort of the enemy; and the
generals being informed by their aids-de-camp of • what passes on that side, cause succours to march . thither with all speed, revive the spirits of the • soldiers by their presence, rally the broken bat.talions, bring them again to the charge, repulse