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



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Dictionary of Love: Selections
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Abuse  Age  Amiable  Amorous  Beau  Brown  Change  Constraint  Coquette  Coxcomb  Cupid  Difficulties  Duty  Fashion  Faults  Flame  Heart  Liberty  Love  Love  Lust  Mistress  Paramour  Prude  Reason  Reputation  Rogue  Shepherd  Unaccountable  Virginity  Zone  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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Age

When relative to years, is a term very seldom employed in love: for to talk of age to a young person is no part of praise. It is a cruel offence to a woman anything advanced in years; and even a middle-aged woman takes no delight in those chronological discussions.

It happens indeed sometimes (but very rarely indeed) that an antient coquette will venture to pronounce the word age; but then it is only to make a particular merit of it to herself. How can you like a person of my age? This is far from meaning, “I am too old; I know it; and am persuaded I have not the charms to captivate a young man.” What she would be at is to tell you, “If I have not all the bloom of youth, neither have I its failings: mellow fruit is not so ill-tasted.” Upon which, the cue of him who has his reasons for courting her, is to answer, “At your age! madam; at your age! you are but too charming! Where, without flattery, shall one see a nobler air, a fresher complexion; and then so much fine sense!” with a thousand other impertinences in support of an evident falsity.

The cruelty of Age is, to destroy beauty, at the same time that it leaves every desire standing, of which that beauty alone could procure the satisfaction.

The word age may also be employed to oblige a lady with a critical observation on the age of her rivals in beauty. See Mrs. Fillamott, in her rose-coloured gown, or pink ribbons; can it become one of her age to lay schemes for smiting?

AGE, in the love-measure of time, applied to absence or impatience, is often employed to signify a moment: but moments are ages, to a lover with his mistress, in a very different sense, before, or after enjoyment.


Modified text:
…for to talk of age to a young person is disgust. It is cruel offence to a woman already advanced in years;
A Dictionary of Love (1777)
A Dictionary of Love (1795)

Added text:
… with a thousand other impertiences, in support of an evident falsity∗ (∗ False indeed!)
A Dictionary of Love (1777)

Omitted text:

The word age may also be employed to oblige a lady with a critical observation on the age of her rivals in beauty. See Mrs. Fillamott, in her rose-coloured gown, or pink ribbons; can it become one of her age to lay schemes for smiting?

AGE, in the love-measure of time, applied to absence or impatience, is often employed to signify a moment: but moments are ages, to a lover with his mistress, in a very different sense, before, or after enjoyment.
A Dictionary of Love (1777)
A Dictionary of Love (1795)


Abuse  Age  Amiable  Amorous  Beau  Brown  Change  Constraint  Coquette  Coxcomb  Cupid  Difficulties  Duty  Fashion  Faults  Flame  Heart  Liberty  Love  Love  Lust  Mistress  Paramour  Prude  Reason  Reputation  Rogue  Shepherd  Unaccountable  Virginity  Zone  TOP

Amiable, Lovely

Formerly denoted a person, whose beauty and merit captivated all hearts. It is now in very common use, and applied, indifferently, to all whom we take for the objects of our fancy, vanity, or fulsome, maukish flattery.


Omitted text:
…to all whom we take for the objects of our fancy, vanity, or fulsome, maukish flattery.
A Dictionary of Love (1777)
A Dictionary of Love (1795)


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Amorous

A term which means one constitutionally inclined to gallantry; a character that used formerly to be expressed by a much coarser word, which is now entirely exploded; whilst the character itself subsists in its full force.


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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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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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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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Constraint

Love endures none: it dies the minute it feels it. A necessity of loving, or living together as if one did, produces precisely and inevitably the contrary.

Freedom is the very life-hold of pleasure; the moment it becomes a duty, it loses its name, and becomes and oppression.


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Coquette

One who wants to engage the men without engaging herself; whose chief aim is to be thought agreeable, handsome, amiable; though a composition of levity and vanity.

She resembles a fire-eater, who makes a show of handling, and even chewing live coals, without receiving any damage from the fire. But, whatever may be their pretended insensibility, they have their critical moments as well as others, in which they are said to give more pleasure, as prudes do more glory, in the reduction of them.


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Coxcomb

Is a term of such extensive comprehension, that it takes in near the whole race of mankind, from the throne to the peasant's cottage. All ranks, all orders of men, are liable more or less, to that vanity, which is its fundamental, and only varies in its signs of eruption.

There are coxcomb-kings, coxcomb-judges, coxcomb-physicians, coxcomb men of letters, coxcomb men of business; even professions have their peculiar distinctions of coxcombry. The gravity of an apothecary, who carries his profession printed in his face, is not less a symptom of coxcombry, than a hat and feather in a declared beau.— Mr. Addison even thought no fine gentleman could exist without a dash of the coxcomb. My Lord Rochester says, that it is a character not to be acquired but by much pains and reflection; that, in short, God never made a coxcomb worth a groat. The women in general are so fond of this character, that, however they snuff at the title, the attributes of it are the principal means of succeeding with them. An intrepid, self-assured coxcomb, who is called so to-day, passes to-morrow for a pretty fellow with them; on no better grounds than having kept inflexibility to it, and beat them at their own weapons of pride and insolence. The lady is vain; so is the coxcomb: she affects to despise him; he disdains to dangle after her. One would think these were no promising dispositions to come to a good understanding. But, let them alone, and it will happen to them, as to two persons, who, taking different ways to walk round a garden, being by turning their back to one another, and are sure to meet again in their circuit.


Omitted text:
All ranks, all orders of men, are liable more or less, to that vanity, which is its fundamental, and only varies in its signs of eruption. There are coxcomb-kings, coxcomb-judges, coxcomb-physicians, coxcomb men of letters, coxcomb men of business; even professions have their peculiar distinctions of coxcombry.
A Dictionary of Love (1777)
A Dictionary of Love (1795)


Abuse  Age  Amiable  Amorous  Beau  Brown  Change  Constraint  Coquette  Coxcomb  Cupid  Difficulties  Duty  Fashion  Faults  Flame  Heart  Liberty  Love  Love  Lust  Mistress  Paramour  Prude  Reason  Reputation  Rogue  Shepherd  Unaccountable  Virginity  Zone  TOP

Cupid

The god of love; born out of the poets brains, who paint him a child with wings, a quiver on his shoulder, a bow in one hand, a torch in the other, and a bandage over his eyes. All which emblematically signify, that he is figured like a child, because those who deliver themselves up to love, part with their reason for the silliness of that age. His bow and arrows denote his power to wound, and pierce; the bandage over his eyes, his blindness; the torch, a light he carries for others, and not himself; his wings, his inconstancy.

This allegorical personage is, however, entirely banished from prose, and is even scarce suffered in the modern Parnassus, in any such thing above a ballad to lovely Sue, at the head of which one may still see a wooden cut of his figure.


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Difficulties

They are the zest of a passion, that would often flatten, languish, and die without them. They are like hills, and tufts of trees, interspersed in a country, that interrupt the prospect, only to make it the more agreeable.


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Duty

The obligation of doing a thing, either by law, necessity, or decency. Generally speaking, duty is a clog, for which most people have more respect in profession than in practice, and conveys an idea of subjection, to which love has naturally an antipathy.

A woman that says, she will love from duty, where her inclination has not given its consent, either deceives herself or others. That pliancy of the heart is not very conceivable, and it is dangerous to trust it. It would not be hard to demonstrate the moral and physical impossibility of this fine resolution.

Me! do anything against my duty? says a fair-one: this is a shield often opposed to the attacks of a lover; but a shield rarely impenetrable to any but a novice. A woman who makes her duty a plea, is not long before she deserts it: it is a sort of capitulation. It is but too often faintly pronounced, and ill-supported, and enters into a plan of resistance, only to raise the merit of the sacrifice of it to an enterprizing lover, who is not the dupe of its sound.


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Fashion

Governs the world: it regulates the morals, the way of thinking, dressing, eating, writing, entertainments, pleasures, every thing. In love, it exercises a perfect despotism; heroic love is now out of fashion, and constancy and exploded virtue.

A man in fashion is a man who has insinuated himself into the heart of two or three women of reputation in gallantry. It is merely a chance, or some lucky incidents that confer this title: the fame of two or three in intrigues is sufficient for it. The Countess of Light-airs has taken an unaccountable fancy to some coxcomb as worthless as herself. This is spread about, and the curiosity of all the coquettes is a tiptoe, to know whether a woman, who passes for a knowing one, is in the right to have made such a choice. They all design upon him; some, through downright whim; others, out of jealousy, or emulation of beauty: others, to be in the fashion. Then commences a kind of scramble for this hero of the day; whose reign is generally, however, of not long duration. A trifling incident raised him, a trifling incident destroys him; and he sinks out of fashion like any other bauble.


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Faults

The person one loves never has any. Either the lover does not see them, or is as much reconciled to them as to his own. If they offend him, he is so far from being a true lover, that he is scarce more than an acquaintance, and less than a friend.


Added text:
Either the lover does not see them, (blinded by Cupid's fillet) or is as much reconciled to them as to his own.
A Dictionary of Love (1777)
A Dictionary of Love (1795)


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Flame

It has the same signification as love. It is a monosyllable of great use in a love-song.


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Heart

A term employed to lard almost every love-period. You possess my heart. My heart feels for you, &c. All these turns signify, “there are certain words of great grace and effect in the love-dialect; and which a young person delights in hearing.” So that the sound of this, and a thousand other words of the like nature, should alarm the fair to stand on their guard against the impression of them. The poison that enters at the ears often makes every vein thrill, and is rarely a slow one.

The heart is often employed as an antithesis to the head. Nothing is juster: for they have their pleasures and language apart. An expression directly from the heart goes to the heart: but the head may imitate its language so well as to produce the same effect. Such a mistake is not even uncommon; and a love-letter has been often taken to come from the heart, when nothing but the head has dictated it.

A novice-heart is one that is at its first campaign. This is the heart most in request, for the great pleasure one imagines there is in giving it the first lesson of love.

A battered heart is one open to love on all sides, and which a thousand coquetteries has worn out, and rendered incapable of a real passion.

For the dissection of a coquette's heart, see the Spectator.


Omitted text:
A novice-heart is one that is at its first campaign. This is the heart most in request, for the great pleasure one imagines there is in giving it the first lesson of love.
A Dictionary of Love (1777)
A Dictionary of Love (1795)


Abuse  Age  Amiable  Amorous  Beau  Brown  Change  Constraint  Coquette  Coxcomb  Cupid  Difficulties  Duty  Fashion  Faults  Flame  Heart  Liberty  Love  Love  Lust  Mistress  Paramour  Prude  Reason  Reputation  Rogue  Shepherd  Unaccountable  Virginity  Zone  TOP

Liberty

The state of a heart which has never loved, or has ceased loving. See Calm . It is often used in a libertine sense, as in this phrase: I dread the marriage-fetters: I love my liberty.

Liberty is the life of Love, which is of the nature of some birds, who refuse all sustenance, and dies, under the least confinement.

I do not like these liberties: this said before company, with a stolen wink, means, “You forget yourself: when we are in private, as much of them as you please: but in public pray be more reserved.”


Omitted text:
The state of a heart which has never loved, or has ceased loving. See Calm. It is often used in a libertine sense, as in this phrase: I dread the marriage-fetters: I love my liberty.
A Dictionary of Love (1777)
A Dictionary of Love (1795)


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To Love

In times of yore, signified an invincible inclination: at present it has quite another meaning, and often no meaning at all. There is as much difference between what we call Love, and what our fore-fathers called so, as between our dress and theirs; between our snug frocks and cut bobs, and their slashed doublets and natural hair. Every sublunary thing changes; but our manner is so easy and commodious, that it threatens a long duration.

Most of the present Love is what our blunt ancestors called by another very coarse name, or what is infinitely coarser yet, though unblushingly pronounced, Sordid Interest.

Tom Featherhead loves Miss Lightairs. That is to say, Tom is a coxcomb, whose glitter has dazzled the eyes of a silly frothy girl: he is what is called extremely well with her, and has the rare privilege of murdering his time in gallanting her Ranelagh, Vaux-hall, &c. charmed with which glorious reputation, he would not change it for a Marlborough's or Turenne's.

Goatly loves the innocent Sylvia. That is as much as to say, he is laying every scheme he can imagine, to add her to the lift of the wretched victims who have fallen a prey to his brutal appetites: whilst all her personal beauties, her inimitable bloom, her fine-turned shape, have been surveyed by him, with the same eye as Cannibals view their captives, of whom they design to make a meal.

When young Sharply says to the old liquorish Lady Wishfort, I love you, the true English of this is, “I am a younger born, unfortunately born under a star that gave me the soul of a prince, and the fortune of a beggar. No man had ever a stronger passion for pleasures and expence than I have: but I am ruined at play; I am over head and ears in debt. As you have then a fortune that may stop all my leaks, and set me on float, let us supply one another's wants.” And 'tis ten to one but he carries his point with the fond dotard, who never considers that she is making a bubble's bargain, for one of those few things which money can never purchase.


Omitted text:
Every sublunary thing changes; but our manner is so easy and commodious, that it threatens a long duration.
A Dictionary of Love (1777)
A Dictionary of Love (1795)

Modified text:
…charmed with which glorious renown, he would not change it…
A Dictionary of Love (1777)
A Dictionary of Love (1795)

Omitted text:

Goatly loves the innocent Sylvia. That is as much as to say, he is laying every scheme he can imagine, to add her to the lift of the wretched victims who have fallen a prey to his brutal appetites: whilst all her personal beauties, her inimitable bloom, her fine-turned shape, have been surveyed by him, with the same eye as Cannibals view their captives, of whom they design to make a meal.


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

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


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Love, The Love-passion

It is a modern discovery, that Love is as much a bodily appetite as hunger and thirst, which are removed by a hearty meal, or a copious draught; and, like them too, is liable to a surfeit. This doctrine is so far countenanced, that some knowing ladies prefer by much, that Love which is a corporeal want, to that which is an imaginary one.— Some indeed will have it a distemper, that may be cured by plentiful evacuations, bleeding, purging, and a low diet. A certain duke, who was what they call violently in love, being seized by a fever, for which he was bled, blistered, and brought low in the flesh, on his recovery he lost at once his fever and his love, to a point, that no trace of it remained in his imagination.

As to Platonic Love, it is a mere opera-finger, a voice, and nothing more. Lady Manlove, who is an excellent judge, said, if such a rascal as Platonic Love was to come within her doors, she would order her porter to kick him out.

There are who [sic] have defined Love to be a desire of being loved by the object one loves. According to La Rochefoucault, it never goes, at the delicatest, without a secret desire of enjoyment. This is the end after which the merest Arcadian swain is sure to sigh, even whilst he protests the contrary to his nymh[sic], who with all her modesty would despise him, if she believed him; and who herself often goes his halves in the wish, without distinctly knowing the nature of the wish.

Love was formerly a commerce of fair-dealing; a Love-for-love scheme. Other times, other manners. It is now a match play'd of tricks and sharpership, in which each side proposes to take fair or unfair advantages of the other. At present, sheer disinterested love passes for a chimaera, and the sentiments of it are left to garnish romances, or flower the fustian of some modern tragedy. All the metaphysical ideas of it are not so much as understood now. Here follows a specimen of the style of our modern lovers.

Clarissa
Ah! if you did but love me!

Townly
Who me! not love you! Nothing is comparable to my love for you: you alone are the mistress of my heart. Without you I can have no thought of happiness: but…

Clarissa
But what?

Townly
Nothing: only you know the world too well to take it ill: Emilia has a thousand pounds more to her fortune: and could I deserve your love, if I was so weak as not to let my reason get the better of my inclination?

And (N.B.) this is so much in common course, that the Hibernicism of his incomparable Love, yielding to his interest, passes unnoticed.

There is indeed a Love, which seems a contradiction to the power of Interest: and that is, when some raw, silly novice takes a passion for an object very much disproportioned to him; or when a rich old fellow marries his tucker-up: but neither does this deserve the name of genuine Love. It only supposes a more than ordinary eclipse of reason; a blind rage, that does not let them see how many bitter days they are preparing themselves, for the sake of one night's luscious banquet. It is being put to bed in a fit of drunkenness, to rise the next morning miserably sobered, and with a head-ach for life.


Variant spelling:
nymh | nymph A Dictionary of Love (1777)
A Dictionary of Love (1795)

Modified text:
It is now a match play'd of tricks and sharps
A Dictionary of Love (1777)
A Dictionary of Love (1795)


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Lust

A term extremely odious; and which, however, as nothing is commoner than the thing itself, it behooves the fair to take care of not mistaking for Love. The test of both is enjoyment. If Love subsists unabated after it, the love was real: if not, it was only Lust. But how should women not be deceived in this point, when the men themselves are often woefully deceived by themselves, and mistake one passion for another, all wide as is the difference?


Omitted text:
…and mistake one passion for another , all wide as is the difference?
A Dictionary of Love (1777)
A Dictionary of Love (1795)


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Mistress

See To Love


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


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Paramour

A Favourite gallant; a peculiar, a minion.


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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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Reason

Is banished the states of Love. Where-ever reason is against pleasure, pleasure is against reason, and generally carries the day. Sometimes, indeed, reason is bribed into the interests of the enemy, and mounts the stage only like those prize-fighters, who have sold their battles, and are hired to take a beating.

You make me lose my reason, in a lover's mouth, signifies, “Since it is a maxim in love, that no one is a thorough lover who has any share of reason, I renounce at least the appearances of it, in hopes to bring you to renounce the reality.”


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Reputation

One of the great centinels upon female virtue.

Think of what your love exposes me to: Consider what may be said of us; signifies, “At least we must save appearances: cover our game, and throw dust in the eyes of the world.”

Thus in some women, reputation is but a crime, the more in them, since they owe it to the vice of hypocrisy.


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Rogue

Is generally a term of honour, or at least of tenderness. He is a happy rogue, — the rogue of my heart, and the like.

Sometimes indeed it is employed rather angrily, by a deserted damsel: as, for instance, half sobbing and crying, “I am sure he has been a rogue to me”: which is, in other words, “I have been a fool to myself.”


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Shepherd, Swain

Terms synonymous to Lover, and borrowed from the country, to preserve at least, in the words, some idea of rural sincerity and innocence.


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Unaccountable

It is the je ne sçai quoi of the French, and a term often used like fate, stars, destiny, &c The true sense of which is, when a woman will do what she will do; and instead of owning the ridiculousness of her passion for a worthless object, she pleads an unaccountable liking or impulse; and prefers renouncing her reason, and building a system on no foundation, to the painful task of controlling her inclination, and subordinating her heart to her duty.


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Virginity

See Maidenhood


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


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The Virgin Zone

Whatever stuff this zone was made of, which the virgins of antient times wore about their waists, it is at present so lightly wove, that it is apt to give way at the least touch.