Dictionary of Love
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JOHN CLELAND
RALPH GRIFFITHS
J. F. DU RADIER



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Dictionary of Love: Selections
The Dictionary of Love
Select POS: verb

Abuse  Adore  Address  Blame  Burn  Change  Cure  Deceive  Esteem  Exclaims  Forsake  Gloat  Grant  Hate  Jest  Know  Languish  Leave  Level  Marry  Obey  Offer  Ogle  Please  Ruin  Run  Sacrifice  Swear  Toy  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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To Adore

This sacred word is adopted into the love-language, and proves two things.

First, That the men are perfectly knowing, and acquainted with the vanity of women, who are apt to take themselves for little goddesses, or at least divine creatures.

The Second, That they are not sparing for any expressions they thing may make them lose the small share of sense their vanity may have left them.

I love: love did I say? I adore you! The true meaning of which fine speech is, “The secret of pleasing consists in flattering your self-love, at the expence of your understanding. I am straining hard to persuade you, that you have distracted my brain; not that it is so in the least; but, whilst I laugh at you in my sleeve, for your swallowing this stuff, I may gain wherewith to laugh at you in good earnest.”


Omitted text:
To Adore
A Dictionary of Love (1777)
A Dictionary of Love (1795)

Added text:
“…but, whilst I laugh at you in my sleeve, for you swallowing this stuff, I may gain wherewith to laugh at you in good earnest.∗” (∗A truth worth remembering.)
A Dictionary of Love (1777)
A Dictionary of Love (1795)


Abuse  Adore  Address  Blame  Burn  Change  Cure  Deceive  Esteem  Exclaims  Forsake  Gloat  Grant  Hate  Jest  Know  Languish  Leave  Level  Marry  Obey  Offer  Ogle  Please  Ruin  Run  Sacrifice  Swear  Toy  Wish  TOP

To Address one's self

To whom do you think you are addressing yourself?

This phrase severely pronounced, may be employed by a lady to dash, or disconcert her lover, to inspire him with respect, or check his forwardness. It is as much to say,

“Let us see whether you are a novice or not? Whether you have duly taken your degrees of assurance? or whether you are not in your horn-book of gallantry?”

You address yourself to the wrong person, I assure you.

This little affectation means at bottom, that one is not sorry to have a lover, but that it is necessary to put on an air of dignity; to remind him of one's value; to give the spurs, whilst one reins in the bridle.

However, these finesses of love-rhetoric over-awe none but the fresh-water adventurers: and that terrible expression, To whom do you think you are addressing yourself? is oftener a trap for a compliment, than a denotation of anger.


Omitted text:
To Address
A Dictionary of Love (1777)
A Dictionary of Love (1795)

Added text:
To whom do you think you are adressing yourself? is oftener a trap for a compliment, than a denotation of anger∗. (∗ A proper hint to all prudes!)
A Dictionary of Love (1777)
A Dictionary of Love (1795)


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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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Burn

An obsolete metaphor, formerly used to express the violence of one's desires. I burn for you, has now an ill grace even in poetry: and as to any meaning, it is scarce of more significance than talking to a woman of the weather, or the like.


Abuse  Adore  Address  Blame  Burn  Change  Cure  Deceive  Esteem  Exclaims  Forsake  Gloat  Grant  Hate  Jest  Know  Languish  Leave  Level  Marry  Obey  Offer  Ogle  Please  Ruin  Run  Sacrifice  Swear  Toy  Wish  TOP

Change

A lover assures that he will never change: sometimes too he even believes it: nor is change always the effect of a premeditated inconstancy. Distaste may come on one, without one's own permission. A lover who makes protestations and vows of constancy, may perhaps mean what he says; but he says what is often not in nature, and assuredly what is not in his power to keep.

I will never change, may also be understood with the mental reservation of, “I am in the disposition to pass my time agreeably, no matter at whose expence: and this disposition I find so convenient I shall hardly every change it.”

Too quick a change to fondness in a wife who has married a husband, to whom she had given signs of dislike before marriage, creates an ugly suspicion of the motive's being something she has found so much to her taste, that she may say to herself is to be found in others, besides him.


Modified text:
permission | seeking A Dictionary of Love (1777)
A Dictionary of Love (1795)

Omitted text:
I will never change, may also be understood with the mental reservation of, “I am in the disposition to pass my time agreeably, no matter at whose expence: and this disposition I find so convenient I shall hardly every change it.”
A Dictionary of Love (1777)
A Dictionary of Love (1795)


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To Cure

I hope you will cure the wounds you have made; a hackney'd phrase, and means, “You have raised desires which I expect you have too much good-nature to disappoint, and that you will restore me to the quiet you have destroyed, tho' it should be at the expence of your own.”


Variant spelling:
tho' | though A Dictionary of Love (1777)
A Dictionary of Love (1795)

Omitted text:
To Cure
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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Esteem

I esteem you. This expression in the mouth of a young person only means, that she wants a little boldness, to say in downright terms that she loves you.

In the mouth of a coquette it signifies, that she has a mind to play reserve upon you, and impose sentimental delicacy on you.

In certain circumstances, I esteem you, is a salving phrase, and is as much as to say, “You distress me: I do not know how to come off with you: To tell you plainly, that I hate you, would be too much against all the laws of politeness.”

A young man, who tells a disagreeable prude, or a woman on the decline, that he esteems her, means, that she is a fool to entertain any pretensions to his heart; and that he does not esteem her enough to have the complaisance of telling her that he loves her.


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Exclaims

These are amorous interjections, designed for marks of a violent desire of persuading what one does not feel. They also serve to fill up, whilst one is recovering breath from a long period; and when a lover has nothing better to say; or is got out of his depth.

Oh! how cruel you are ! How unjust! This means, “Why do not you believe me? I have done every thing toward persuading you, that a gentle lover should: I have talked: I have sighed: I have been for this hour heaping lies upon lies, till I am at the end of my part.” Besides, these breaks have great power and effect; as they express a disorder that always flatters the woman, who thinks herself the cause of it.


Modified text:
Exclamations
A Dictionary of Love (1777)
A Dictionary of Love (1795)

Added text:
These are amorous interjections…
A Dictionary of Love (1777)
A Dictionary of Love (1795)


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Forsake, Quit, Leave, Desert, Cast off

This word is almost always joined to a negation, which, for enforcement-sake, is generally accompanied with an oath.

No! madam; never will I forsake you. May heaven forsake me, if I do. This, at the first view, seems to signify, that one prefers the beloved object to one's life: but use teaches us that you should at least suppose to be understood such conditions as follows: “If you have always the same charms in my eyes: If I see no other beauty that pleases me better;” And the like.

Sometimes this term is employed, in the style of a half-pique, to re-animate a languishing passion: Well, cruel, since you drive me from you, since you force me to forsake you, it must be so.

A lover who knows how to say this with a tender air, and if he can squeeze out a few tears, so much the better; will advance his affairs notably: though the English of it is:

“The fear of losing a lover may make you give me some encouragement: if I leave you, it will diminish your train: think of that.”

It is, in short, a hint, that, dropped with art, and well-timed, rarely fails of its effect.

In the mouth of one's mistress, when she says, Faithless wretch! And can you forsake me then? It is as much as to say, “Am I then to have the pain of seeing another possess what I thought my own? What will the world say? Why, that I had not charms enough to fix Silvio, who adores Lucinda: they are every day together: he handed her yesterday into the side-box: they danced together at the last ball. Gods! this is not to be borne.”

Such a thought is enough to turn a woman's head, when it is once possessed with so cruel an idea; and will make her say a thousand impertinences, and commit a thousand more, that will fix the terrible term of forsaken upon her.


Omitted text:
And the like. Sometimes this term is employed, in the style of a half-pique, to re-animate a languishing passion: Well, cruel, since you drive me from you, since you force me to forsake you, it must be so.
A Dictionary of Love (1777)
A Dictionary of Love (1795)


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To Gloat

To leer, or look liquorish upon a woman

It is a kind of goatish stare, chiefly used by superannuated letchers.


Omitted text:
Entry omitted. A Dictionary of Love (1777)
A Dictionary of Love (1795)


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Grant

The signification of this word is restrained, or extended, according to the occasions, and the person who employs it.

At least, madam, grant me… means in petto, “There is no coming to my point but by degrees. Neglecting one step may set one back twenty: this slight favour I now sue for will bring on others. My play is to disguise the danger. I petition now, that I may get into a condition of giving laws hereafter.”

A lover resembles Sinon, the introducer of the Trojan horse: he puts on the air of a captive: an humble wretch who fears death, makes a moving speech: the enemy relents, pities his complaint, unties his hands, and grants, what not? Then, if he has but a lucky impudence to assist his treachery, the town before it is aware of its danger, admits the insidious conqueror, that will surprize it, whilst all its guards are asleep.


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


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To Hate

Is never understood in a literal sense, but when employed against the ugly and old. In general it is construed in a contrary sense.

A mistress, from whom a favour is extorted by an agreeable violence, whilst she faintly resists, says, Pray, let me alone, I hate you mortally:— This signifies, “Your boldness is far from displeasing me; you may even venture it as far as it will go.”

Can you hate me then? means, “I want to give myself the pleasure of hearing an assurance to the contrary, or of perplexing you, — or of seeing how prettily you can turn a declaration of love.”

I know you hate me; in the mouth of a coxcomb, signifies, “I defy you, for the soul of you, to be otherwise than violently in love with such a pretty fellow as I am.”


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

Omitted text:

A mistress, from whom a favour is extorted by an agreeable violence, whilst she faintly resists, says, Pray, let me alone, I hate you mortally: — This signifies, “Your boldness is far from displeasing me; you may even venture it as far as it will go.”

Can you hate me then? means, “I want to give myself the pleasure of hearing an assurance to the contrary, or of perplexing you,— or of seeing how prettily you can turn a declaration of love.”


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


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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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To Know

In love, most persons, instead of desiring to know, before they fix their choice, choose first, and learn to know afterwards. When, as Davenant expresses it, “As knowledge is but sorrow's spy, it might be better not to know.”


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Languish

Is a term of great significance in heroic love: it is the delicate effect of a pure flame, that consumes one agreeably: it is a dear and tender love-sickness, that makes one hate the thought of a cure, and secretly nourishes the disease at the bottom of the heart: and when it ventures a discovery of itself, the eyes, silence, a sigh that escapes one, involuntary tears, express it more pathetically than all the eloquence of words.

The reign of these heroic passions is pretty well over. The Celadons, and the Philanders, are now only to be found in soft pastorals, or pure and silly romances. To languish then has no longer the same signification that it has in Astrea, or in the mouth of a Cyrus, or Oroondates. At present it means a state of stupidity, or ignorance of the means of succeeding; as when a money'd cit addresses a fine lady, without bethinking himself of putting his hand to his purse; or a soft fop gives himself the air of languishing metaphorically, and ogles amorously a gay coquette, who laughs at his white hand, and his slimy figure.


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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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Level

Love levels every thing.

This is a shrewd persuasive turn, often employed by a lover of a superior rank to a mistress of an inferior one, to induce her to conceive chimerical hopes, and stun her reflections upon the consequences of the sly sap they serve him to carry on. Sometimes he joins to it the examples of some famous fools, who have thrown themselves away upon Pamelas, and winds up with some insidious praises of the beauty and merit of the person upon whom he is designing. This conclusion is generally very forcible: but before she determines, she would do well to consult upon the value of it, one of those numberless deserted damsels, who have been the dupes of their hopes from it.


Omitted text:
This is a shrewd persuasive turn, often employed by a lover of a superior rank to a mistress of an inferior one ,to induce her to conceive chimerical hopes, and stun her reflections upon the consequences of the sly sap they serve him to carry on.
A Dictionary of Love (1777)
A Dictionary of Love (1795)


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Marry

Most lovers, persuaded that he who marries is an enemy to his own repose, the betrayer of his own freedom, or a cully to his own desires, rarely employ this word but as a last resource.

After the ordinary declarations, a man worked up to a proper pitch, and who finds his fair-one deaf to any other proposal, has recourse to this word, or rather to some term equivalent to a promise of marriage.

Thus, I have no designs on you but what are honourable, signifies, “Since you exact so much, and I must give you hopes of marriage, this may serve to quiet your scruples, till this lure may give me moments of advantage.”

In the mean time, this plausible word covers their approaches, as the blind of fascines does those of the besiegers, till their mine is ready for springing, to blow up the virtue thus sapped to its foundations.


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Obey

Is a word never to be construed too literally. Thus when a lover says, “I look on it as my duty to obey you: your will is my law.” He means, “I treat you as a sovereign in order to make you my slave. I fob you with appearances, that I may obtain realities.”

The conduct of most lovers justifies this interpretation.

There are moments in which a woman would be very ill pleased with a blind submission, and an obedience without reserve. Any lover, novice enough on those occasions to dread the fair-one's displeasure, would infallibly incur it. It is misconstruing her intention to obey orders pronounced only for form's sake, and on which she would have just reason to complain, if you was [sic] to act as if you thought her in earnest.


Modified text:
…and on which she would have just reason to complain, if you were to act as if you thought her in earnest.
A Dictionary of Love (1777)
A Dictionary of Love (1795)

Added text:
…as if you thought her in earnest.

It is the only word so disgusting to the fair-one in the matrimonial service


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


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Offer

I offer you a heart penetrated with the tenderest passion. Words of course that signify very little. I offer you my purse, not only sounds better, but expresses more sincerity.


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To Ogle

To fix one's eyes amorously upon a woman, to catch hers, and strive to fix them. This is one of the first methods of attack practiced by fortune-hunters.


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


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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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Ruin

To Ruin a woman of her honour, or (what is worse to many of them) of the reputation of it.

Terrible as this word sounds, there are of them, who would look on no unhappiness so great, as that of having no reason ever to fear it would be attempted.

Do you want to ruin me? is a phrase of capitulation: a kind of dying speech of a virtue, just going to be turned off.


Omitted text:
Entry omitted. A Dictionary of Love (1777)
A Dictionary of Love (1795)


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Run Away

There is nothing left for it but your running away with me. This is rarely hazarded in express terms: but when the fair-one is sufficiently disposed, and her reason destroyed, her artful seducer employs this proposal, though in softened expressions, which at the bottom means as follows:

“Hitherto we have only committed the common follies of love; but now, let us consummate them by a stroke of êclat. I have so perfect a regard for you, that I make use of all the advantage your love gives me over you, to persuade you to take refuge in my arms, from tyrannical parents, whose darling you are, whose life it is necessary to my happiness you should imbitter [sic] for ever: (or perhaps) from a husband who adores you, who is so cruel to you as to want to have you all to himself; and whom you are going to overwhelm with shame and sorrow, whilst my passion lasts; and it will last as long — as it can: I will stand you in the stead of all you lose for my sake: when I am heartily tired of you, I shall arm myself with firmness enough to part with you: you may cry, complain, storm, all will be in vain: then you may go back to your family; that is to say, if it is silly and fond enough to receive you: if not, there are the ever open arms of the town for you.”

All this, the word Run-away implies, though you may be sure so much is never expressed.


Modified text:
“that is to say, if it is fond enough to receive you: if not,the town will receive you with open arms”
A Dictionary of Love (1777)
A Dictionary of Love (1795)

Omitted text:
“…ever open arms of the town for you” All this, the word Run-away implies, though you may be sure so much is never expressed
A Dictionary of Love (1777)
A Dictionary of Love (1795)


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Sacrifice

I Sacrifice to you my heart, my liberty, &c. This sacrifice is generally of no great importance, and is accordingly accepted for what it is worth.

To sacrifice an old mistress to a new one. Nothing costs a gallant so little, or flatters a Fair-one so much. Thus,

“I had a passion for Lucinda: I had inspired her with an equal one for me; and she will be desperately vexed at finding I sacrifice her to you.”

This means, “I know there is nothing of which you women are fonder, than being enriched with the spoils of another.”

But the sacrifice is doubly welcome, when it is that of her dear friend, and her rival in beauty. Thus, You reproach me with this conquest? Well; I sacrifice it to you: Can you desire more?

This means,“ I will use you one day just as I use her at present. Your vanity shuts your eyes to this certain consequence: but when a sad experience shall make you open them, you will have no reason to complain. Had not my conduct given you sufficient warning?”


Abuse  Adore  Address  Blame  Burn  Change  Cure  Deceive  Esteem  Exclaims  Forsake  Gloat  Grant  Hate  Jest  Know  Languish  Leave  Level  Marry  Obey  Offer  Ogle  Please  Ruin  Run  Sacrifice  Swear  Toy  Wish  TOP

Swear

I swear, I protest to you that I will for ever be constant; should never be understood but with the following restrictions. “So long as you afford me lasting pleasure, so long as you can amuse me agreeably, and preserve your power to charm me; for otherwise the implicit contract is, in fact, void.”

This is both law and practice in Love. As soon as the object ceases to please, the love-correspondence drops of course. A respect to oaths is treated as a chimæra; pleasure is the life-hold of Love: and when pleasure ceases to exist, the court of conscience absolves the lover of all breach of them. Sappho, in the midst of her plaintive elegies on the inconstancy of her lover, admits that the Gods keep no register of lovers oaths. She knew so much before, and yet was the dupe of them. Women should imitate the Romans upon an occasion, when a noted lyar made them a promise, which he confirmed by the most terrible oath, the whole assembly of that people answered it, by yet a more terrible one, that they did not believe a word he said.


Modified text:
The Romans when a noted liar made them a promise, which he confirmed by the most terrible oath…
A Dictionary of Love (1777)
A Dictionary of Love (1795)


Abuse  Adore  Address  Blame  Burn  Change  Cure  Deceive  Esteem  Exclaims  Forsake  Gloat  Grant  Hate  Jest  Know  Languish  Leave  Level  Marry  Obey  Offer  Ogle  Please  Ruin  Run  Sacrifice  Swear  Toy  Wish  TOP

To Toy

Love-toying, with delicacy and refinement, is the science of very few. It is the very sauce to enjoyment, and of course more relishing than the meat itself. It is the very girldle of Venus, which wives should, like Juno when she visited Jupiter on Mount Ida, know how to put on, upon proper occasions.


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


Abuse  Adore  Address  Blame  Burn  Change  Cure  Deceive  Esteem  Exclaims  Forsake  Gloat  Grant  Hate  Jest  Know  Languish  Leave  Level  Marry  Obey  Offer  Ogle  Please  Ruin  Run  Sacrifice  Swear  Toy  Wish  TOP

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.