"The Deceiving Mirror Of Self-love"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: As the text of The Parliament of Love is defective, what we have of the play begins in scene iv of the first act, with Chamont conjuring his former ward, the noble Bellisant, to live a quieter and more decorous life. She is associating herself with unworthy persons, and as a result of her behavior, her reputation will suffer. Bellisant spurns Chamont's advice and says that, since she is entirely virtuous, she will pursue the course that gives her the most amusement; she says that she will disprove the generally accepted idea that chastity can live only in a cottage by living a pure life in the center of court activity. In Act I, scene v, Charles VIII of France returns to his court from his successful military campaign in Italy and finds a universal dullness prevailing. When a courtier attributes the lack of gaity to the cruel behavior of the court ladies, Bellisant says that the fault lies with the courtiers. Formerly, when they desired to woo a lady, they were careful to have to their credit a series of gallant exploits, deep wisdom, and service to the state, and men such as those the ladies could treat with favor. But now, anyone who has traveled enough in Italy to learn a little of the language and can make fashionable grimaces, dance lavoltas, and be rude and saucy and see himself as his self-love would like him to be, thinks there is hardly a woman worthy of him. Bellisant speaks:

"Ere they durst
Presume to offer service to a lady,
In person they perform'd some gallant acts
The fame of which prepared them gracious hearing,
Ere they made their approaches: what coy she, then,
Though great in birth, not to be parallel'd
For nature's liberal bounties, both set off
With fortune's trappings, wealth; but, with delight,
Gladly acknowledged such a man her servant,
To whose heroic courage, and deep wisdom,
The flourishing commonwealth, and thankful king,
Confess'd themselves for debtors? Whereas, now,
If you have traveled Italy, and brought home
Some remnants of the language, and can set
Your faces in some strange and ne'er-seen posture,
Dance a lavolta, and be rude and saucy;
Protest, and swear, and damn, (for these are acts
That most think grace them,) and then view yourselves
In the deceiving mirror of self-love,
You do conclude there hardly is a woman
That can be worthy of you."