Love and Life

Charlotte Mary Yonge
Love and Life

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Title: Love and Life
Author: Charlotte M. Yonge
Release Date: May, 2004 [EBook #5700] [Yes, we are more than one
year ahead of schedule] [This file was first posted on August 12, 2002]

Edition: 10
Language: English
Character set encoding: ASCII
LIFE ***

This e-text was created by Doug Levy, littera scripta manet.

Transcriber's note: There are numerous examples throughout this text
of words appearing in alternate spellings: madame/madam, practise/
practice, Ladyship/ladyship, &c. We can only wonder what the
publisher had in mind. I have left them unchanged.--D.L.

An Old Story in Eighteenth Century Costume

The first edition of this tale was put forth without explaining the old
fable on which it was founded--a fable recurring again and again in
fairy myths, though not traceable in the classic world till a very late
period, when it appeared among the tales of Apuleius, of the province
of Africa, sometimes called the earliest novelist. There are, however,
fragments of the same story in the popular tales of all countries, so that
it is probable that Apuleius availed himself of an early form of one of
these. They are to be found from India to Scandinavia, adapted to the
manners and fancy of every country in turn, Beauty and the Beast and
the Black Bull of Norroway are the most familiar forms of the tale, and
it seemed to me one of those legends of such universal property that it
was quite fair to put it into 18th century English costume.
Some have seen in it a remnant of the custom of some barbarous tribes,
that the wife should not behold her husband for a year after marriage,
and to this the Indian versions lend themselves; but Apuleius himself

either found it, or adapted it to the idea of the Soul (the Life) awakened
by Love, grasping too soon and impatiently, then losing it, and, unable
to rest, struggling on through severe toils and labours till her hopes are
crowned even at the gates of death. Psyche, the soul or life, whose
emblem is the butterfly, thus even in heathen philosophy strained
towards the higher Love, just glimpsed at for a while.
Christians gave a higher meaning to the fable, and saw in it the Soul, or
the Church, to whom her Bridegroom has been for a while made known,
striving after Him through many trials, to be made one with Him after
passing through Death. The Spanish poet Calderon made it the theme
of two sacred dramas, in which the lesson of Faith, not Sight, was
taught, with special reference to the Holy Eucharist.
English poetry has, however, only taken up its simple classical aspect.
In the early part of the century, Mrs. Tighe wrote a poem in Spenserian
stanza, called _Psyche_, which was much admired at the time; and Mr.
Morris has more lately sung the story in his Earthly Paradise. This
must be my excuse for supposing the outline of the tale to be familiar to
most readers.
The fable is briefly thus:--
Venus was jealous of the beauty of a maiden named Psyche, the
youngest of three daughters of a king. She sent misery on the land and
family, and caused an oracle to declare that the only remedy was to
deck his youngest daughter as a bride, and leave her in a lonely place to
become the prey of a monster. Cupid was commissioned by his mother
to destroy her. He is here represented not as a child, but as a youth, who
on seeing Psyche's charms, became enamoured of her, and resolved to
save her from his mother and make her his own. He therefore caused
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