1660
ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Bentivolio and Urania.

Bentivolio and Urania, in Four Bookes. By N. I. D.D.

Rev. Nathaniel Ingelo


Bentivolio and Urania is a didactic romance by Nathaniel Ingelo, an Anglo-Scot and friend of Henry More who spent much of his life teaching at Eton College. The work once enjoyed a degree of popularity, being several times reprinted.

P. M.: "The work is itself a religious allegory, not much unlike the Pilgrim's Progress, though very inferior to it, but in which the two principle characters, Bentivolio and Urania (i.e. Goodwill and Heavenly Light), are represented as perfect Christian characters. And they travel through the world, being brother and sister, meeting with various adventures, every where reproving vice and recommending virtue and piety. All the places and persons have allegorical names, which are explained in the margin, alluding to their qualities. There is much ingenuity, learning, and goodness in it; but it is so completely dull and uninteresting as a narrative, that it requires no small degree of patience and perseverance to travel through it" Censura Literaria 9 (1809) 335-36.

W. Davenport Adams: "Nathaniel Ingelo, D.D., published in 1660 a romance called Bentivoglio and Urnaia, 'wherein Bentivoglio or Goodwill, born in the higher Theoprepia, or a State worthy of God, is enamoured of Urania, who represents Heavenly Light or Divine Wisdom, and has allegorical experience in divers godly and ungodly states'" Dictionary of English Literature (1878) 305.

Marjorie Hope Nicholson: "The influence of More and his master Spenser is constantly evident — episodes, situations, even proper names being taken over from both of them" Conway Letters (1930) 173.

A later edition of Bentivolio and Urania was among the titles in the 1859 sale catalogue of Wordsworth's library; see A. N. L. Munby, Sale Catalogues of Libraries of Eminent Persons (1971-75) 9:48.




So leaving the beaten Rode, they came to a place where steep Rocks, dark Shades, and perfect Silence struck them with a sacred horror. As they wandred up and down to please themselves with the simplicity of that neglected place, near to a silver Brook which crept along by the feet of the Rocks they spied a little Cottage, where one Pancratus had retired to make his solitary dwelling, and to enjoy the freedom of that peaceful life which is not to be found in tumultuous Townes. He was at first something in doubt of the meaning of this unexpected Visit, because he thought himself discover'd in the secure privacy of his lonesomenesse by some of Piacenza, who hated him and his way of life. Whilst they stood as much wondring at the sober countenance of a poor man, and the chearful lookes of one that seem'd very meanly accommodated, he demanded of them the reason of their accesse into that Solitude, to which no common Path gave them direction; or what they could expect in a place which all others shunn'd, because it seem's utterly barren of Delight. Urania made answer, We came not hither, Father, either because we lost our way, or that we desire our presence should give you any Interruption. We have never met with any great satisfaction in common paths, nor are altogether unacquainted with those Contentments that are most easily had where the Multitude doth least think. We know that the pleasures of Retirement are cover'd with the rough surface of Austerity and outward appearance of sad Melancholy, from such as have chosen Sensuality for their portion: but the Joyes which are conceal'd under those unlikely appearances are easily found out by the Lovers of God, for whom they are reserv'd, and who know that they are the Substance of that Felicity of which all other things, which the easie part of the world admire, are scarce a Shadow. Panecratus hearing them speak after that fashion, was no otherwise affected with their words then a Musical eare is with some select Harmony; and perceiving they had another presence then the vain slightnesse of Piacenza doth produce, he had as great a desire to entertain discourse with them, as they had to understand how he pass'd his time in that silent desart. He invited them into his Cell, which was homely, but clean; and besides one Room which serv'd him for all ordinary occasions of life, he had another where he perform'd his Religious Affaires. He gave them Bread, Herbs and Water; a great repast to such who never cared for Dainties, and were at present very hungry and thirsty. Having learn'd of them their purpose, at their request he told them where they were, the conditions of the People amongst whom they were to travaile, and said, if they would not despise the humble Counsel of a poor man, he would direct them to escape some dangers which they must expect: and with a Modest but Erect Countenance he began after this manner.

This Country is call'd Piacenza, and most justly, for the Inhabitants count Pleasure the chief Good. They make account that the Body is much better than the Soul, whose Seat they esteem to be the Belly, having no great sense or regard of any of its operations, but what they perceive there: they suppose it was put into the Body only to keep it sweet, and to make it capable of enjoying Pleasure, for which they would not think it beholden to the Soul neither, but that they judge the dead deprived of Joy. They acknowledge no other definition of the Soul but, sprightly Temper of Body. The judge that there are but two chief Affections in the Soul, which they call Joy and Grief; and that the first is Vertue, and the second Vice. They believe all things which have Joy, Love and Delight in them, and where the Objects are sensuall, to be Good; and that whatsoever hath Care, Fear or Labour in it, is Naught, and that it was made by the Devill, if there be any; of which sometimes they will expresse themselves very doubtfully. They affirm confidently that all Pleasant things were made only to allure us, and that we ought not to think any thing Unlawfull which pleaseth us. They assert the Soul to be Mortall; which they do with the more earnestnesse, because they would have it so; and deny that there is any happy state to come after this life, because they know they shall have no share in it. They are so immers'd in Flesh, that they understand not what they should do out of the Body; and therefore deny that there are any Spirits. It is a receiv'd opinion with them all, that what is not Body is Nothing. They stick not to say openly, that the name of God was invented by Fear, and made use of by Polititians to keep Superstitious people in awe: the Reason of which is, they are so stupified by a brutish life, that they neither mind the soft voice of God, which speks concerning him in the bottom of their own Souls, nor hear the loud testimony of his Goodnesse, Wisdom and Power, which his most Excellent Creation, the well-ordered World, doth constantly give. There are two things which they cannot endure to think of, Old age and Death; but when they do, it is to improve their Luxury by a more greedy fruition of that which will not last alwaies. Pleasure being the End of their Hopes, they take some pains to accomplish it; all the rest of their life being spent in Idleness: and they are so in love with it, that they count it a great pleasure to do nothing; and indeed it is but little that they are good for. They spend their time in lascivious Dances and amorous dalliance, and talk frequently of such things as Nature, where it is not perverted, blusheth at. They drink so far beyond all reasonable measures, as if Temperance were a thing capable of being drown'd; and they do so perfectly abhor all moderate allowance in eating, that they despise that Health for which they must be beholden to restrain'd Appetite. They sin in defiance of the Creators Liberality; for he hath forbidden nothing but that which hurts us. With these and other Instances of furious Lust they do so oppresse the Body, that it is wearied out with their Excesses. They sleep away the rest of their time, that they may be fitter to sin; and it serves some of them for a diversion, because it draws a thin curtain between them and the remembrance of their daily Exorbitancies. They vex that part of the morning that they are awake, with making it a tedious attendant upon their dressing themselves; which they perform in a manner so ridiculously gaudy, as if they fear'd their vanity would not be known but for the superfluity of slight Ornaments. They know no absurdity but a want of ourward behaviour, which they, not contenting themselves with the naturall decencies of prudent carriage, do vary many times according to the contemptible humour of their phantastical dancing-masters. They are much given to the emptinesse of Complement, and Flattery is a Cardinall Vertue. Lust is the Root of their slight Loves, for they acknowledge no Friendship but Concupiscence. They are ignorant of Choice, being affraid that Knowledg would torment them. In short, they live to no purpose, but to kill that Remainder of life which is in them; and their Sins are their own Punishments.

For your safe passage it will be requisite that you keep a strict guard upon your Eyes and Eares: for they will attempt by wicked Arts to make them Instruments of your harm. Drink nothing presented to you in a Golden Cup, for they give their deadly Poison in the form of Delicious Wine. When your Senses begin to be seiz'd upon with delectable Objects, hearken presently to a soft Voice, which from within your bosomes will tell you what you should do. Be sure you never retire into any of their privacies; for there they have such a sort of Nets, made of invisible Wires, as Vulcan us'd to entangle Mars and Venus when he made a sport of them to the Gods. If you accept of any entertainment, or taste the Fruites of the Country, be as quick and wary as the Doggs of Aegypt when they drink of the River Nilus. In the close of his talk he said, There is one thing that I might further remember, though I need not inform such as are instructed by their own Prudence, That the thoughts of the Country whither you are going are of such rare virtue, that if you repeat them often, you will never endure to stay long in Piacenza, much lesse be taken with the muddy delights of it.

Thus Pancratus ended his talk. Urania and Panaretus having stay'd here two dayes, being much pleas'd with the Wisdom of Pancratus his Discourses and the sincerity of his plain Love, as they were taking their leave and expressing their Resentments of the Civility which they had received, Pancratus not knowing to what lodgings they might unawares betake themselves to their great prejudice, commended them to a friend of his call'd Eupathus, and gave them directions concerning the way to his house, which is not easily found in that Country.

Here the Travailers had a clear Demonstration of the Imperfection of this World, where Joyes are shown to us and then snatch'd away. For they began to be afflicted with the consideration of those things which but a little before did much content them, and they found that the Pleasures which were bestow'd upon them in Pancratus's company, attended them only to prepare their Spirits for a greater Grief which they were to sustain in the losse of it. Pancratus guessing at their Thoughts by their Deportment, which was more Melancholick then ordinarily it us'd to be, and being himself as willing to go with them as they were unwilling to leave him behind, he attempted to give them that Comfort which he wanted for himself. We must go on, quoth he, and not be startled when we meet on Dissatisfaction, where we look for many: and since the general Rendezvous of good friends is only there to be expected where our Journey ends, let us comfort our selves all the way with the Hope of what we shall enjoy when we come Home. Thus the good Man dismiss'd his Guests, having accompanied them part of their way, and return'd to his holy Solitude. They came in a few Houres to the chief City of Piacenza, which was so plac'd, that it was manifest they had no regard to any thing else but Pleasure in the situation. Upon the South side, which they saw first, in the midst of a Grove planted thick with Laurells and Myrtills stood a Magnificent Temple which was dedicated to Alypia, a jocund Goddesse, whom all the Piacenzians devoutly worship: in the middle stood a large Altar, from which ascended great Clouds, being the continual smoake of delicious Odors. Upon the East Wall was plac'd the Picture of Aphrodite, sitting wantonly in a Charriot drawn, not as she us'd to be, with Doves and Sparrows, but with an Hee-goate and a Boare; which at first they judg'd very ill-favour'd, but considering the reason of the Device, they thought it would serve well enough. The rest of the Walls on all sides were covered with pictures of Naked Women and Boyes. Cupid playing many apish Tricks among them. A multitude of Priests attended, all clad in Venus Liveries; their work was to make Orations in the praise of Beauty, or to write stories of Idle Lovers. The chief of them, cloath'd with a Silken Vest and an Asian Mitre upon his head, was call'd Trimalcio; and whilst he sung their Amorous Songs, which it was his Office to compose, the rest accorded to him with an effeminate sort of Lydian Musick.

The Queen of the Country, call'd Hedonia, went every day to the Temple to present Oblations to the Goddesse. Urania and Panaretus happen'd to arrive at the time as she was just come forth of her Palace, and so had opportunity to behold the form of their Solemnities. The Van of this wanton company was led by the Master of Ceremonies with a slow pace, which fitted their Voluptuous March. He was call'd Pigerrimo, and was of such a sluggish Temper, that he would never rise till some body pull'd him out of his Bed: he was such a lover of Rest, that he would complain many times because he could not go without Motion: he was unwilling to be at the trouble of feeding himself, and therefore would wish that men might live the life of Trees, and being invers'd have their Mouthes alwayes fastned to their Meat. There was hung upon his arme a slight Bow, and a Quiver of golden-headed Arrows; which he would not have carried, but that he would not be at the paines of throwing them down. He was followed by a great company of Gallants, who had so attired themselves, that one would think they had made themselves a perfect Outside: and they attended upon divers Ladaies, which were Hedonia's Maides of Honor, who had attempted by immodest Habit to pervert the Primitive institution of Clothes; for they afffected only transparent Garments tinctured with variety of light colours; and yet they found fault with them still, because they did too much hide their Bodies. Only their Faces they did desire to be a little more conceal'd from common view, and therefore had covered them almost quite over with spots, and signified that they would not be known by the natural features of their Faces, but only by the curious Figures of their Patches. In this, as in all other things, they did but follow the humorous example of Hedonia; for she seem'd to have woven the Rainbow into a loose Robe, which being so rarified that she might be seen through it, and also spatter'd with radiant Jewells in the forms of Stars, one might well say that she was an Embellish'd Cloud. The names of the Gentlemen were Asotus, Narcissus, Acolastus, Aphron, Anaescuntus, Pangelos, and many others who had left the studie of Wisdom and the practise of Vertue, and were now so corrupted that they pleas'd themselves only in that which was a reproach to them; and had so far advanc'd their distempers beyond puny Wickednesses, that they despis'd Pleasure unlesse it was mix'd with Theft and Adulteries. The Gentlewomen were name'd Bellezza and Lusingha who were foremost; and they were followed by Aspasia, Carezza and Amasia, with many more which made up that light Retinue. After these at some distance came in a disguise Perilype and Stimia: but we knew them well though they cover'd their faces, for they were asham'd to be seen, and would not be known to belong to that company. Hedonia her self was led between two brothers call'd Eros and Anteros: their looks were so discontented when they ey'd one an other, that they were a lively Image of the Jealousie of Rivalls. Their Gesture, besides all other defects, made a plain signification that they esteem'd themselves the Glories of the World; and the Ladies made no doubt but that the whole Splendor was but the reflexion of their unparallel'd Beauties: and these they measur'd by such a vast size of estimation, that they believ'd if the Sun should have fallen they could supply his place and make day; and in the night, they did not think it possible that any Stars could appear but themselves and Venus. But Panaretus, who had observed them judiciously, thought them the most deform'd of all that he had seen. The defects of their Beauty were as good as confess'd by the Artificiall correction of the fashion of the Eyes, the addition of false Hair, the borrowed colour of their Lips and Cheeks, their ingrafted Teeth and painted Breasts. If they had not been poor, they would not have borrow'd such Vanities: and they were not very Vertuous, because they could not be content without them. The Simplicity of excellent Beauty is witness'd by a carelesse neglect of adventitious Ornament, and Worthy Lovers despise Beauty when it stoops to such mean Condescensions as, it may be, would think proper to a Thais.

As they were in the middle of their vain Orisons (for they pray for such things as Holy Souls abhor to think of) Bellezza pull'd out a Song which Trimalcio had set the day before to a Treble Voice, and one of the Ladies sung it in Honor of Hedonia. It is not worth recording, but only to give notice of what poor things they make Hymns.

Fair Queen, the Sun for Thee takes paines to rise,
But shines with Beams he borrowes of Thy Eyes.
The Aire both warm'd and sweetned in thy Breast
Goes still to come, and doth in Motion rest.
The Springs, wer't not for Thee, would cease to flow:
Wer't not thy Walk, Earth would a Desart grow;
Which whilst Dame Nature paints with gaudy Flowers,
Th' obsequious Trees grow of themselves in Bowers.
And whil'st thou smil'st upon her Fruites, her gain
Is, then to know, she hath no toil'd in vain.

Anteros seeing them well pleas'd, desired that they would have the patience to hear him sing a few verses which he had set to a Base, in which he did magnifie the Happinesse of Hedonia's Courtiers. Hedonia giving her consent with a stately nod, he began.

Whilst greedy Merchants plow the boistrous Seas,
We laugh ashore, they venture for our Ease.
Our Boores, yoak'd in like labour with their beasts,
Shall make the fields pay Tribute to our Feasts.
Whilst Bookish men for Wisdom sweat, that thence
They may fetch Reasons to disparage sense,
We sit above, and by Experience know
What's only talk'd of in the World below.

Trimalcio having fitted their fine Songs with a suitable Chorus, gave them their Parts; and so they ended that dayes Musick with these Words,

Since Envious Time, to spite us, posts away,
Let us improve each Minute of our day.

After the Musick they entred upon another manner of converse, which was so impertinent that I shall not trouble my self to give any account of it. Urania taking the advantage of their absence from the Palace, and their busie attendance upon these most irreligious Rites, went with more security to view the Gardens, so great in report, that the Fabulous Paradise of the Hesperides seem'd to have been but an imperfect Description of these incomparable Delights.

Behind the Temple they perceived fair Walks fill'd with great companies of proud Peacocks with their Traines spread, and the boughs of the Trees loaden with salacious Sparrows. Upon one side was planted a large Vineyard, and in the midst was set a Priapus, which, by the Manners of the owners, they guess'd to be the Guardian of the Vines. Upon the other was a spacious Garden adorn'd with all Varieties of Flowers, and those put into such orderly plots, divided with smooth Walks, that they gave and receiv'd mutual Ornament from each other. In convenient shades they had pleasant Bathes, whither to cool or heat, they knew not; but from what they heard, they understood that they defil'd the Soul more then they wash'd the Body. Amongst other Rarities they observ'd a Grott, which had many Caverns furnish'd with rare water-works; where the streams did not only show themselves in all variety of delectable forms, but convey'd melodious Tunes through several Pipes, and making a Combate of pleasure between the Eye and the Eare, put the Soul in a suspence to determine which had the superiority, which being not able to seen and hear at once with due Intention to both, gave judgement for each by turns. The chief imperfection of which they took notice was in the Flowers and Fruits: for they had no sooner gather'd a Rose or Gilly-flower, but by a sudden withering in their hand they confess'd the Infidelity of their Vigour; and the Fruits, which grew both upon the walls and in other places, though they look'd most lovely to the sight, yet upon the least touch of their fingers they fell into Ashes; as it is reported of those Apples which grow upon that Lake by which Sodom hath but a dishonourable remembrance in History.

In the midst of the Garden, as they were led by the windings of an intricate Wildernesse, they came to a fair Banqueting-house, which was so rais'd upon an Artificial Mount, that besides all the delights of the Garden it receiv'd the pleasure of a gallant Prospect. Here sate an overgrown Woman reading the loves of Venus and Adonis; which by her excessive bulk, swollen out of all measure with intemperance, they guess'd to be Acrasia. She was attended by a drowsie fat Boy call'd Morpheolus, cloth'd with a particolour'd mantle, where black and white were so interchangeably plac'd, that one might see the Workman had a mind to bestow upon it the colours of Day and Night in equal divisions. She call'd up her servants by the names of Bevanda and Mangibella. It seems Bevanda was drunk in the Cellar; but Mangibella came up with a basket of most delicate Fruites, which Urania putting by with her hand, Morpheolus went out of the room, and call'd Veneriola. Urania and Panaretus suspecting the worst, where they had no reason to hope for any good, made haste out of the Room, and shutting the door after them, with the benefit of a spring-lock they freed themselves from two great lumps of Flesh; and Veneriola declaring by her carriage, that she had learn'd more sorts of Intemperance then what consisted meerly in eating and drinking, Paneretus threw her into a fish-pond which was hard-by, to cool her Lust. As Morpheolus was seizing upon Urania, he gave him such a blow on the right Eare, that left him in a dead sleep.

Having escaped this troublesome Foolery, for fear of worse they made hast from this nest of Dangers. . . .


[pp. 75-83]