Dictionary of Love

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Dictionary of Love
The Dictionary of Love
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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.

Ah! if you did but love me!

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…

But what?

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)

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)


In numbers of women, is no more than a regard for their reputation. A desire of raising the value of one's favours, and of inflaming, by teazing, the passion of a silly lover: the desire of acquiring esteem by resistance: the hopes of getting a husband: the disagreeableness of a gallant, his follies, or indiscretions: a natural coolness. All, or some of these, compose the essence of virtue in the greatest part of the women.

Who is the most virtuous of women? (says a modern author) she who by constitution is the most amorous, and by reason the most chaste.

Who Knows but he may marry me at last?

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.

Modified text:
…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)