Friday, December 10, 2004

Advice for the lovelorn

Human nature doesn't seem to change much, does it?

I am prompted to think that thought by the events of this week. It would be invidious to name names, but it has come to my attention that there are at least two individuals who have recently conducted love affairs of a slightly unfortunate nature. Both these individuals have first names beginning with the letter D. Out of consideration for their finer feelings, I will identify them no further than that, except to say that one of them is a princess, or was, and the other is the UK Home Secretary; or he is as I write these words, though the situation may soon change.

How different the lives of these two Ds would have been if only they had heeded the words of Mario Equicola (c. 1470-1525). Michelle Lovric, in her splendid anthology Venice, Tales of the City, tells us that Mario Equicola was the author of a book published in 1530 and entitled The New Courtier, on Prudent and Moral Living. Here, by way of a taster, is what Mario has to say on the subject of Love. And let his words be a lesson to you all.
I would suggest that you should flee extreme Love.... The souls of the Lovers have the time-honoured privileges of raging, arguing, frequent battles and declarations of peace, of rare pleasures and frequent miseries, and hardly ever a brief moment of stability.... According to many unvarying testimonies from those who, with irreparable damage to themselves, have essayed excessive Love, there comes a rapid turbulence and an inevitable (even to the wiser minds) blinding passion, which, as well as transforming a man from humble to insufferable, from shy to insolent, also obscures intelligence, confounds the Memory, dissolves conscience, and cancels out mercy, dissipates all earthly faculties, corrupts the strength of the body, exterminates freedom and brings old age before its time.
Now don't say you haven't been warned.

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