+ ~ -
Please report pronunciation problems here. Select and sample other voices. Options Pause Play
Report an Error

    When once love begins to slacken, it soon dies;
it seldom gains strength again.
    The true lover is always timid.
    No one must have two attachments at the same
    Every lover should come before his mistress with
a pallid face.
    The death of a lover is to be followed by two
years of widowhood.

The cases brought under the jurisdiction of
the court were of sufficient diversity. A few
questions, with their decisions, I shall now
cull from André the Chaplain, Martial
d'Auvergne, and other authorities of that

Once this problem was propounded: Do
the greatest affection and liveliest attachment
exist between lovers or married
persons? The Lady Ermengarde thus
determined the matter: The attachment of the
married and the tender affection of lovers, are
altogether different sentiments. No just
comparison can be established between
objects which have neither resemblance nor
relation to one another.

This question is theoretical: other and
more practical ones are cited. A knight
claimed redress under the following
circumstances: His mistress had strictly enjoined
him never to contend publicly. But one day
he was thrown into the company of some
lords and ladies, who said disparaging things
about the object of his love. At first he
restrained his wrath, but at last was
overpowered by the desire of maintaining the
honour and defending the name of the absent
one. She, instead of thanking him, withdrew
her favour, because he had broken the
pledge exacted. The Countess of
Champagne, however, when the dispute was
brought before her, judged that the lady had
been unlawfully severe, and that a knight
could never incur blame by repelling charges
brought against his mistress.

Another knight had a more serious grievance.
He appeared before the same Countess
of Champagne, when she was sitting in a full
court of sixty ladies, and said that he had
been tenderly attached to a lady whom
distance and his other duties prevented him from
meeting as often as he liked. They had,
however, established a means of communication
by means of his secretary, and for a time
all went happily. But at length the faithless
secretary showed his perfidy. He made
offer of devotion to his master's mistress, and
succeeded in drawing off her affections, thus
violating the most sacred laws of love and
honour. The court, after mature deliberation,
uttered this decision: That the
dishonourable secretary had found his mate in
the lady who could encourage his advances,
and that the knight might be glad to leave
them to what enjoyment their base alliance
could afford; but it was decreed that they,
having broken the rule of chivalry, should be
for ever precluded from chivalrous society:
they must never seek the esteem of knights
or ladies, and never show themselves in any
court of love.

In contrast to this action for breach of
promise, take the instance of a more
humorous trial. It is the great case of The
Kiss, in which a lady demanded damages for
the felonious taking of that article. The
defendant pleaded that he had long been
deeply attached to the plaintiff, and that
three months previously she had promised to
bestow on him a kiss; yet, as often as he
claimed the fulfilment of the pledge, she put
him off with some excuse or other. At last,
he said, he could wait no longer; and, when
the lady's husband was out of the way, he
took her and it by storm. The plaintiff
rejoined that, in making the promise, she had
limited herself to no period, and that, if left
to herself, she would have fulfilled it in
proper time. But the court (which, I find,
generally favoured the distressed cavaliers)
overruled this excuse as trivial, gave judgment
against the plaintiff, condemned her to
pay all costs, and, in addition, to furnish a
supplementary kiss.

There is another kiss affair chronicled,
which, for the credit of the sex, I wish I
could find reason to doubt. A knight
summoned his mistress before the court on the
charge of pricking one cheek while pressing
her lips against the other, with intent, &c.
The lady asserted that the kiss had been
taken, not given, and that the wound, if
inflicted at all, was the accidental result of
her proper resistance. But unanswerable
evidence was brought; medical certificates
were produced; and her statement was
clearly disproved. It was decreed that, by
way of reparation, she should kiss the
injured cheek as often as the plaintiff chose,
until it was healed.

All these trials took place in the twelfth
and thirteenth centuries; and, alas! this
is the nineteenth. The Court of Love is
a dead thing; its last assembly took place
about the year thirteen hundred and eighty-
two. Its nearest resemblance, faint as it is,
is to be seen in modern breach of promise
actions, where love is paid for in bank-notes,
and in the editorial columns of penny
journals. There Betsy is informed that,
however intense her feelings, she must submit
to the custom which prescribes that the
gentleman shall make the offer of marriage.
There Susan is told that it is quite allowable
for affianced lovers to kiss one another. And
there John Thomas is counselled to prefer
the sober cook to the flighty nursery-maid.
How are the mighty fallen! How is the
sublime travestied!