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A CHALLENGE AT TILT.] The title is from the first folio. The date of the marriage is not given, nor are the names of those in honour of whom the challenge took place. That they were of high distinction is certain, from the splendour of the court on the occasion, and the presence of the royal family. Many defiances of this kind are noticed in the life of prince Henry, who was much attached to these manly exercises, in which he was well skilled : Instead of contrasting the chariness of Milton on these occasions with the exuberance of Jonson, Warton might with far more justice have complained of the retentiveness of the latter. But he probably knew no more of him than he had picked up in casual reading: and, at any rate, he was sure to be on the popular side, in condemning him.
A CHALLENGE AT TILT.
THE DAY AFTER THE MARRIAGE.
The Court being in expectation, as before.
Enter two Cupids striving.
T is my right, and I will have it.
2 Cup. By what law or necessity? Pray you come back.
1 Cup. I serve the man, and the nobler creature.
2 Cup. But I the woman, and the purer; and therefore the worthier. Because you are a handful above me, do you think to get a foot afore me, sir? No; I appeal to you, ladies.
1 Cup. You are too rude, boy, in this presence.
2 Cup. That cannot put modesty in me, to make me come behind you though; I will stand for mine inches with you, as peremptory as an ambassador: ladies, your sovereignties are concerned in me; I am the wife's page.
1 Cup. And I the husband's. 2 Cup. How!
1 Cup. Ha!
2 Cup. One of us must break the wonder; and therefore I that have best cause to be assured of mine own truth, demand of thee, by what magic thou wear'st my ensigns? or hast put on my person?
I Cup. Beware, young ladies, of this impostor; and mothers, look to your daughters and nieces: a false Cupid is abroad: it is I that am the true, who to do these glad solemnities their proper rites, have been contented, not to put off, but, to conceal my deity, and in this habit of a servant do attend him who was yesterday the happy Bridegroom, in the compliment of his nuptials, to make all his endeavours and actions more gracious and lovely.
2 Cup. He tells my tale, he tells my tale; and pretends to my act. It was I that did this for the Bride: I am the true Love, and both this figure and those arms are usurped by most unlawful power: can you not perceive it? do not I look liker a Cupid than he? am I not more a child? ladies, have none of you a picture of me in your bosom is the resemblance of Love banished your breasts? Sure they are these garments that estrange me to you! If I were naked, you would know me better: no relick of love left in an old bosom here! what should I do?
1 Cup. My little shadow is turned furious.
2 Cup. What can I turn other than a fury itself, to see thy impudence? If I be a shadow, what is substance? was it not I that yesternight waited on the bride into the nuptial chamber, and, against the bridegroom came, made her the throne of love? had I not lighted my torches in her eyes, planted my mother's roses in her cheeks; were not her eye-brows bent to the fashion of my bow, and her looks ready to be loosed thence, like my shafts? had I not ripened kisses on her lips, fit for a Mercury to gather, and made her language sweeter than his upon her tongue? was not the girdle about her, he was to untie,
my mother's, wherein all the joys and delights of love were woven?
I Cup. And did not I bring on the blushing bridegroom to taste those joys? and made him think all stay a torment? did I not shoot myself into him like a flame, and made his desires and his graces equal? were not his looks of power to have kept the night alive in contention with day, and made the morning never wished for? Was there a curl in his hair, that I did not sport in, or a ring of it crisped, that might not have become Juno's fingers? his very undressing was it not Love's arming? did not all his kisses charge? and every touch attempt? but his words, were they not feathered from my wings, and flew in singing at her ears, like arrows tipt with gold?
2 Cup. Hers, hers did so into his and all his virtue was borrowed from my powers in her, as thy form is from me. But, that this royal and honoured assembly be no longer troubled with our contention, behold, I challenge thee of falsehood; and will bring, upon the first day of the new year, into the lists, before this palace, ten knights armed, who shall undertake against all assertion, that I am a child of Mars and Venus and, in the honour of that lady (whom it is my ambition to serve) that that love is the most true and perfect that still waiteth on the woman, and is the servant of that sex.
1 Cup. But what gage gives my confident counterfeit of this?
1 Was not the girdle about her my mother's, &c.] That girdle had scarcely more charms in it, than the poet's language in these sprightly and gallant little pieces: but the allusion of Cupid is to this beautiful passage:
Η, και απο στήθεσφιν ελυσατο κεστον ίμαντα,
Il. xiv. v. 214.