Dictionary of Love
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JOHN CLELAND
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J. F. DU RADIER



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Dictionary of Love: Selections
The Dictionary of Love
Select GENDER: men

Abuse  Adventures  Agreeable  Assignation  Attractions  Beau  Blame  Boldness  Brisk  Brown  Curiosity  Deceive  Eyes  Fair  Graces  Hatred  Haughtiness  Hunting  Indiscretion  Interest  Jest  Languor  Leave  No  Nothing  Please  Presents  Prude  Quarter  Rival  Scandal  Sun  Tenderness  Truce  Undress  Verses  Wish  TOP

To Abuse, encroach, misproceed

This term is often used in protestations, and generally tacked to a negative. No! I will never abuse your goodness. Or without the negation, in a more emphatic strain: I ever abuse your goodness! Heavens forbid! All this signifies, purely and simply, since you will have promises and protestations, to bring you to my ends, there they are for you.

Sometimes it is used in the following case, with great art and delicacy. Thus, when a lady grants a slight favor, as a kiss of her hand, perhaps even of her mouth, and the lover, who his never to be satisfied, proceeds on such encouragement to liberties that put decency in danger; the lady, naturally alarmed, chides the encroacher. I am too good-natured—I own, replies the sly lover, I abuse your good-nature; but, with so much love as I have, ’tis impossible to have discretion. This confession, that be abuses her goodness, carries with it such an air of candour, that it is hard not to forgive him.


Modified text:
This confession, that he abuses her goodness, carries with it such an air of candour, that she hardly knows how to condemn him.
A Dictionary of Love (1777)
A Dictionary of Love (1795)

Added text:
Thus, when a lady grants a slight favor, as a kiss of her hand, perhaps even of her mouth, and the lover, ∗who is never to be satisfied, proceeds on such encouragement to liberties that put decency in danger… (∗Girls! be sure however, that you keep such a fellow as this at a distance.)
A Dictionary of Love (1777)
A Dictionary of Love (1795)


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Adventures

Adventures in gallantry being to lose much of their relish, by the want of their former seasoning, fears and dangers. Assignations are now so easily made, that a man must know little of the world, who thinks there is any need of a masquerade to make them at. It is just as insignificant, and as much out of use, as rope-ladders or long cloaks.


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Agreeable

A term often used for a modest cover of one's real sentiments, to a very ordinary woman, with too much sense not to suspect the sincerity of one, who should pretend to assure her seriously that he thought her handsome. Thus the saying, “Madam, I see no-body so agreeable as you,” means, “Since I have gone so far as to tell you that I loved you, I must look out for some reason to assign for it: Now, the quality of agreeable being one of those ideas of caprice purely arbitrary, a je-ne-sçai-quoi, that admits of no dangerous definition, it may serve till I have gathered impudence enough, or you are grown silly enough, for me to tell you you are handsome.”


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Assignation, Rendezvous

The expert in gallantry never so much as mention these terrible words to a young adventurer of the fair sex: they are too alarming: but they generally employ some circumlocution; into which, however, they put the full value of the thing itself. But, if the fair-one consents, and keeps touch with her appointment, she is the fool; and if she returns without special reason to remember it, she has met with one.


Modified text:
…she has met with one …she has met with one
A Dictionary of Love (1777)


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Attractions

A flattering term, and of great use to advance one's affairs: for, however versed a fine lady may be in the science of the love-language, it is hard for her to conceive, that, when applied to herself, it may not signify, as formerly it did, an assemblage of charms and perfections that constitutes a beauty. Thus, when a lover whines out, No! it is impossible to resist such attractions: This phrase, duly construed, imports, “If all the soft trash I have expended upon you is not yet able to touch you, I have a reserve-lunge, which you will, with all your cunning, be hardly able to parry; and this is it:— Then, attractions, charms, inchanting beauty, are let fly in a volley, and never fail of doing wonderful execution.


Variant spelling:
inchanting enchanting A Dictionary of Love (1777)


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Beau

A common word to express a medley character of coxcomb and fop; one who makes dress his principal attention, under an utter impossibility of ever succeeding; as may be demonstrated by the following plain syllogism, of which the air of pedantry may be excused for the sake of its justice:

No fool can do anything well.

None but a fool will make dress the business of his life.

A fool therefore can never dress well.

And this is so strictly true in fact, that there never was, nor probably ever will be, a beau well-drest.

This advantage can only be attained by the man of sense: far above either the weakness of making a point of his dress, or that of neglecting, or even not consulting the proprieties of it, to his age, character, fortune or station.


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To Blame

Though a lover seems to be an animal born for nothing but approving, he may sometimes take the liberty to blame her for her cruelty. The meaning of which is, that though his mistress may have great merit, he on his side has his share; and that she is very much in the wrong to hold out against it.


Modified text:
and that she is very much in the wrong not to remember it
A Dictionary of Love (1777)
A Dictionary of Love (1795)


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Boldness

Excuse my boldness: This, when said in the instant of snatching small favours, means, “I am sounding the channel, to see how you will take small liberties: if you excuse this, I shall have room, I hope, to proceed to greater.”

There are few women who would not sooner forgive an excess of boldness, than an excess of timidity


Added text:
There are few women who would not sooner forgive an excess of boldness∗, than an excess of timidity. (∗Let every young girl judge well, however, of the nature of that boldness which she is said to be so ready to forgive)
A Dictionary of Love (1777)
A Dictionary of Love (1795)


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To Brisk an Attack

There are occasions in which this method succeeds, when fear and awe are ridiculous; as every thing is that is mis-timed or mis-placed.

Machiavel, the prince of politicians, gives the lover a cue in his lesson to them. “It is better, says he, to sin through too much vivacity, than too much timidity: Fortune is a woman, and requires a brisk attack. She grants victory oftener to rash, impetuous characters, than to the cold and circumspect. Hence it is, that this goddess, like women, (N.B. His whole comparison turns upon this principle) is more favourable to the young, because they have more fire, and daring, than those of a more advanced age.”

It is also generally kindly taken by the women, that a man should afford them the excuse of saying, “I could not help it. I was surprized.” Thus, a well-timed agreeable violence may save at once their honour and their delicacy.

The Fair will forgive the detail of these maxims, for the sake of the instruction they convey of their danger, that they may avoid the application.


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Brown

A brown, or olive beauty. A Brunette. See Fair

Though the author of the TREATISE on the Passions, says, that they dispute about the pre-eminence of the brown and fair was first broached by voluptuaries; and that it is not precisely black, or blue eyes, that form the favourable distinction: yet the connoisseurs in general decide for the Cleopatra-stile of beauty, the brown, as the most poignant in love; preferring the mildened luster of a fine evening to the glare of the meridian sun.


Omitted text:
A brunette. See Fair
A Dictionary of Love (1777)
A Dictionary of Love (1795)

Variant spelling:
preeminence | preheminence A Dictionary of Love (1777)
A Dictionary of Love (1795)


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Curiosity

A desire of knowing whether one's wife or mistress is true to one. It is never a happy one. The author of Don Quixot has there inserted a novel, called, The curious impertinent, in confirmation of this assertion. He compares women in it to a glass, which no wise man will dash against the pavement to see whether it will break or not. Have you any doubts of a woman's faith, never seek to satisfy them; the least it will cost your, is the repentance of your curiosity. It is wakeing the sleeping lion: a woman may resent an unjust suspicion, and revenge it by giving it a foundation in fact. Distrust absolves faith.


Omitted text:
It is wakeing the sleeping lion: a woman may resent an unjust suspicion, and revenge it by giving it a foundation in fact. Distrust absolves faith.
A Dictionary of Love (1777)
A Dictionary of Love (1795)


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To Deceive

You deceive me; in a lady's mouth, one would imagine, signifies, “I know you deceive me”, and only means to exact assurances to the contrary.

You say you love me, but I do not know how to trust you; I am afraid you deceive me. This is as much as to say, “I believe you but too much: but it is the custom, in such cases, to make objections: a conquest would appear too easy without them: let me have then some ardent protestations: turn my head: deceive me. I desire no better. I do not want to examine too scrupulously into the credit due to you: I wish your sincerity too much to plague myself with the doubt of it: all I want is the excuse of your vows and assurances, if but for form-sake.”

There are two powerful reasons for this interpretation.


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Eyes

Lovers praise the mouth, the teeth, the hair, the complexion, &c. of their mistresses; but theeyes have always a chief share of their compliments: it is upon their beauty they particularly insist. All that can be said of them, is not obscure to those who understand the signification of charms, attractions, &c. to which the reader is referred.


Omitted text:
All that can be said of them, is not obscure to those who understand the signification of charms, attractions, &c. to which the reader is referred.
A Dictionary of Love (1777)
A Dictionary of Love (1795)


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Fair

A fair beauty is rarely so lasting as a brown one. They are less lively, less animated; but generally they are more dazzling, more tender, more affecting, and pass for more susceptible of a constant passion. 'Tis a great question, yet undecided, in gallantry, which is the most amiable: but in this the taste is arbitrary; some love the fair, others the brown; and some both.


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Graces

The Heathens, who defied every thing that was amiable, acknowledged three divinities, under the names of Thalia, Aglaë, and Euphrosine, who presided over all the charms of the form and soul. Venus was never without them at her side: they were her premier ministers. Our poets, and our lovers, ever fond of fiction, have adopted these fine ideas: “The Graces accompany you every where.” This stale, thread-bare compliment, and a number of others, in which the Graces are most ungracefully dragged in, have the same signification as charms, beauty, attractions, &c. They have a romantic sound, and do very prettily in poetry.

Sometimes the word is used ironically: as, “Here she comes, with all her airs and graces.”


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Hatred

Where there has been true love, has a very figurative signification. Transports of love have been often mistaken for transports of hatred. It is even often the expression of the most lively tenderness, By hatred then is often to be understood the emotions of a heard fond to distraction, breathing a revenge seldom in its inclination, and never in its power. A declaration of hatred is in women who have loved, never but a declaration of love: when they really do hate, indifference and silence are the genuine signs of it.


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Haughtiness

In the fair, signifies the art of dissembling, and the secret of rendering a lover submissive. The women rarely employ it against those who do not care a farthing for it. It is likewise often used in public as a disguise for great humility in private.


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Hunting

The love-chace [sic] has this in common with that sport, that a multiplicity of game distracts and spoils it: as dogs confounded between two equal burning heats, pass the hare first sprung, and come to a dead default.


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Indiscretion

It is rare that a lover can avoid the imputation of this word: he may even be indiscreet thorough too great an affectation of discretion; and betray his secret, by the very measures he takes to conceal it: but this is not so common a character as that of premeditated indiscretion. There are those who would not care a farthing for a conquest, but for the pleasure of making a parade of it to the public. They may say, as Alexander, in the midst of the toils of his expeditions cost him, “Oh! Athenians, all this is to talked of, and to give your tongues employment.”


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Interest

Women in general are so persuaded, that interest in love supposes a thorough meanness of heart, that the most mercenary fair-one covers the deformity of this vice with all the flowers of the love-rhetoric. It is especially when she receives presents, that she makes a parade of all the finest sentiments against interestedness: but, whatever they may say, the conduct of the sex in general proves the falsity of their protestations in this point. Interest is the strongest battery that can be employed in the love-sieges, and generally makes a breach by weight of metal. Jupiter changed into a golden shower, and penetrating into the tower of Danaë, as hackneyed as the fable is, furnishes very just and solid reflexions. Interest, if never the key of the heart, is the key of every thing else: and the generality of lovers are fools enough to wink hard at the motive in favour of their pleasure; or mean enough to accept it, on terms that cannot be spurned with half the contempt they deserve.


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To Jest

When at a Tête-à-tête, a lady says, with a certain air, I do not like this jesting; it signifies, “Every thing declares in your favour; even this little coyness is but a signal of your victory.”

Other more learned interpreters pretend with more boldness and probability, that these words mean, “This is no time for jesting: I should like better you was in earnest.” And that it is using a lady very ill not to take it in that sense.

Some make love only by way of jest, but this is inhuman sport: they may as well commit murther [sic] in jest.


Variant spelling:
murther | murder A Dictionary of Love (1777)
A Dictionary of Love (1795)

Omitted text:
To Jest
A Dictionary of Love (1795)


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Languor

There is an air of languor, which, when a lover knows how to put on, is devilish contagious to a young unexperienced heart. Nothing so powerful to inspire the fair with a dangerous forgetfulness of themselves, and throw them into those tender reveries, in which a lover is sure to find his account.


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Leave

Leave me; pray leave me: In certain situations, and in the mouth of a mistress to an urgent lover, are terribly critical words, that imply an imminent surrender at discretion. Every pulse is then beating the dead-march of her virtue; and they are such tender deprecations of his taking the advantage of her confessed weakness, that he would be cruel indeed to take her at her word, and leave her.


Omitted text:
To Leave
A Dictionary of Love (1795)


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No

Is a term very frequently employed by the fair, when they mean nothing less than a negative. Their yes is always yes, but their no is not always no. The air and tone of it determines the signification: Sometimes too the circumstances, a smile, or a look.


Added text:
Sometimes too the circumstances, a smile, or a look. The Fair one does not always wish we should take her at her word when she answers no
A Dictionary of Love (1777)
A Dictionary of Love (1795)


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Nothing

It is a maxim in general practice, as well as in Love, that she who says nothing, gives consent. Silence is then a formal acceptance of whatever is offered. A fair-one pressed to explain herself, and who says nothing, says full enough. One must be a great novice indeed not to construe her in that sense: but when there is withal a tender, languishing look, a perplexed air that accompanies this silence, there is no doubt to be made of the energy and meaning of it.


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To Please

Constitutes the whole art of Love. It is one of those words that would be obscured by definitions. He who possesses the power of pleasing has every thing that is necessary to his success in Love.

I desire nothing but to please you, is equivalent to saying, I love you. See To Love .

At least tell me that I do not displease you, is a trap for an encouraging compliment, as for the fair-one to reply, “Who tells you that I am not pleased with you?” imports, that she is entering into a course of payment.


Omitted text:
To Please
A Dictionary of Love (1795)


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Presents

A term of great power and energy, and, generally speaking, the shortest way for a lover to get to his journey's end. They are proportioned to the fortune and rank of the person upon whom the design is. A duchess may fall to a diamond necklace, and a chambermaid to a taudry ribbon. It has even been known, that a silly girl has been seduced by a dozen of stick-cherries. In short, the great art is how to adapt, place, proportion, and time them.


Added text:
In short, the great art is how to adapt, place, proportion, and time them well
A Dictionary of Love (1777)
A Dictionary of Love (1795)


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Prude

Signifies a woman who at her heart is no enemy to gallantry, but loves it without noise; or one who is slenderly provided with personal charms, and betakes herself to prudery, to acquire the esteem of the world; or one who wants to throw the veil of it over her conduct, or use it for a varnish to her reputation.

These grimaces, however, deceive nobody. We are in too clear-sighted an age to be the dupes of that false delicacy, that takes umbrage at every thing, and gives a criminal sense to the most innocent actions and words: a mysterious severity, of which some women hoist the standard, and pass one half of their lives in concealing the other half.

Occasions however occur too often to prudes, as they do to bullies, for either of them to brave it long on a false bottom.


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Quarter

He must be a novice indeed, who does not know that when the fair-one cries out quarter, it is only a form of prayer to him not to shew her any.

Quarter is sometimes the debt of a superannuated lady to some petty-coat pensioner Adonis, upon whom she has no beauty to operate, but that of her strong-box.


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Rival

There are few persons worth loving, with whom a lover must not lay his account with being plagued by Rivals. A Rival then is looked on as a sure card to keep a heart in action, to give it a new degree of vivacity, or to reanimate an indolent lover, whom it may be dangerous to leave in too great a security. Sometimes a Rival is made use of as a shoeing-horn, to draw another into matrimony. He is a sort of bank opposed to a torrent, in order only to augment its violence.

Rival is sometimes synonymous to out-bidder. A lady of the town is on the point of a treaty with a man of fortune: he thinks the terms high; he hesitates; he wants to beat down her price. To determine him, a rival is brought into play, who he is afraid will take his bargain out of his hands. At this, he is piqued in honour not to give up the point. He concludes upon the foot she at first proposed, and his charmer melts into his arms, upon touching the first quarter of her settlement in advance.


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Scandal

After employing a thousand praises on the Fair one loves, scandal and detraction are what please the most. They are even received as implicit, indirect praise. Thus a lover who abuses, to his mistress, every woman of merit, and especially her dearest friends, proves himself to be a master of his art. It is one of the most leading avenues to a woman's heart, who always places to her own account whatever is detracted from another's.

The great Chinese moralist, being asked why he allowed scandal to women, answered, First, because it is impossible to hinder it. Secondly, because the fear of it from one another is an useful check upon their conduct.

And, in fact, the tea-table assizes form courts of judicature, the respect of which have kept many a woman from playing the fool.


Omitted text:

The great Chinese moralist, being asked why he allowed scandal to women, answered, First, because it is impossible to hinder it. Secondly, because the fear of it from one another is an useful check upon their conduct.

And, in fact, the tea-table assizes form courts of judicature, the respect of which have kept many a woman from playing the fool.


A Dictionary of Love (1777)
A Dictionary of Love (1795)

Added text:
…whatever is detracted from another's It argues however, very mean talents in any lover who is at a loss to amuse his mistress, but at the expence of another's reputation.
A Dictionary of Love (1777)
A Dictionary of Love (1795)


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Sun

All comparisons of one's mistress to the sun, the starts, &c. are out of date. They are all so hackney'd out, that even poetry rejects them. One modern poet indeed has lately ventured to compare his mistress to the Sun, because, like him, she was a common benefit, and shone on all alike


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Tenderness

In the present system of Love, signifies especially the happy disposition of women to gallantry: Thus, when they say, You know my tenderness, it means, “I have too much vanity, interest, and self-love, not to keep you on the hooks with this bait. I should be sorry to lose an admirer, whom a profession of tenderness may keep on my lift.”


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Truce

Truce, I beg you, good Sir, with your compliments. This phrase used by a woman who is immoderately praised, signifies, “I am insatiable upon the article of compliments; the way to make you continue them is to plead modesty, which will furnish you a new topic upon which to praise me.”


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Undress

The Fair-one who meets her lover in a certain undress, or a studied negligence, shews plainly what she would be at. The olive-branch, or the white flag, are not more expressive signals in war, than this Undress is in Love. It speaks of itself, that she is not so streight-laced, that a ruffling would discompose her. The least experienced of lovers might feel that they have nothing but to take the field to make sure of their triumph. The victory waits but for their onset. A fair-one in this condition declares herself ready for the sacrifice to Venus. There wants nothing but the priest and the alter.


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Verses

They were formerly in great vogue in Love: at present they are generally exploded. It is enough that a lover vents his nonsense in poetical prose.


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Wish

I wish I could love you, in the mouth of a fair one, signifies, “I actually do love you.”

I wish I could hate you, signifies precisely the same as above.