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.”
Are you mad? is a term often used, with no very forbidding term, to an enterprizing lover, who has never more his senses about him, than when he seems to be so much out of them, as not to know what he is about. The truth is, that he only knows too well what he is about.
A common term, or at least a common thought of girls, who have seen little of the world. It is the usual conclusion of those soliloquies which love, supported by vanity, engages them to make. A man of condition, rich, and struck with the charms of a young person, addresses her, and soon finds the way to her heart. He makes proposals to her, and promises in course. The young creature, full of the prejudices of a virtuous education, tho' poor, rejects them at first. The gallant then sets himself to work to dissipate her fears, and vanquish her scruples. Letters, presents, and especially some female intriguer, who talks all the while of honour, whilst she is labouring to undermine the principles of it, are employed to turn the girl's head, and induce her to accept a lodging well furnished, and a table well kept. The reflexions of the young creature disturb this happiness, she declares she had rather return to her needlework than live in infamy. Then the difficulties and inconveniences of marrying, at least for the present, are pleaded, and at length believed. The girl returns to her old seducing thought, Who knows but he may at last marry me? which had before prevailed, and tranquillizes herself, “I am adored, says she to herself; I am adorable. So much pains, so many rich presents, are sure proofs of my lover's sincerity: then he is so fine a gentleman: would he deceive me? Why should I despair of my fortune? Why should not I grace a coronet as well as another? Have I less charms than lady such an one, who jumped out of the street into a title and a coach?”
But soon the scene changes, and the illusion vanishes; when my Lord, satisfied with having taken with her the copy of a marriage, proceeds to finish an original one with some lady of fortune or rank equal to his own, or, what is worse, changes one copy for another. Then the Who Knows is converted to rants of madness and despair. Then succeed the exclamations of Traitor, Villain, and the like, till Madam, now wiser at her own expence, acquiesces in the ordinary course of things, and suppresses the Who Knows for ever.
…till Madam, now wiser at her own expence, is under the melancholy necessity to acquiesce in the ordinary course of things, and condems most heartily her own folly and credulity
A Dictionary of Love (1777)
A Dictionary of Love (1795)