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and then come across an essay in which the subject of falling in love is discussed as if it came as much within the calculable province of life as buying a hat, and you are told to be sure and do it wisely, because because of reasons which might find a place in “ Poor Richard's Almanac.”
“ Last niyht,” said a half-man poet and painter, “I came unexpectedly upon a fairy's funeral,” — and he proceeded to describe the ceremony as only a poet and a painter could. What wonderfully good advice might be given in an essay on Seeing Fairies' Funerals ! Be sure you never see a fairy's funeral, unless, &c., &c.
There is no thoroughly sincere person, with a grain of spiritual sensibility, who does not, in his heart, rebel when Poor Richard takes upon himself to preach about love matters. What the troubadours called amour-pour-amour, love for love's own sake, is what every human creature with a soul above buttons goes in for. And we feel a subtle pang of disapprobation when anything “in the round heaven or in the living air ” is put before love, or turned into a cause .or a justification of it. There is a legend of a distinguished preacher's courtship, which relates how he went down into the kitchen, and, addressing his maid-servant, said, “ Betty, do you love the Lord Jesus Christ ? ” “ Yes, sir,” said Betty. “ And, Betty,” resumed the good man, “ do you love me?” Similar in spirit is that letter of Governor Winthrop's wife to her husband in which she tells him she loves him for two reasons, _" First, because thou lovest God; and, secondly, because thou lovest me.” The dullest feels that here there is a play upon words; and there is. Far better was Rowland Hill's courtship: “ In the first place,” he wrote to the lady,“ I think I.can say before God that I love your person. Without this, such a union could never be happy.". The quotation is from memory, but it is substantially correct, and we feel in a moment that Rowland Hill was straightforward and true, while the Puritan lady, pressed upon by the etiquette of the current talk of her set, and not able to disentangle herself from a fallacy, was untrue to nature and to herself. This was nothing remarkable; most people are untrue to nature and to themselves.
The most plausible and the most common of the fallacies about Love is that which supposes it is the Friendship that Laura sought, with something added to it, instead of being, as it is, a thing sui generis. Coleridge exposes this fallacy in a curious piece called “ The Improvisatore,” which is included among
his poeins :
Coleridge. — Love, as distinguished from friendship on the one hand, and from the passion that too often usurps its name, on the other
“Lucius (Eliza's brother, who had just joined the trio, in a whisper lo Coleridge). — But is not love the union of both ?
Coleridge (aside to Lucius). — He never loved who thinks so.