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WAS there ever any satisfac-
tory account given of the
passion of love? Was the subject
ever handled didactically? What
is love? Has this question, so of-
ten asked, ever been properly and
clearly answered?

Some call it a passion. Some
term it a disease. Some describe it
by its symptoms, and give us, in-
stead of definition, a case. When
we want reasoning and deduction,
they amuse us with a story. Perhaps
this is the best, and the only way.
The situation in which an affection
of the mind takes root, grows up,
flourishes and dies, the sensations
that attend it, and the consequences
mentally and personally that ensue,
are, perhaps, all that can be said in
answer to him who asks, “what is

Yet I am not contented with this.
I seem, after all, to be as much
perplexed and uninformed as I was
before the tales were told; nay,
more so. Instead of stopping, or
returning, my anxiety is more ac-
tive, my wonder more importunate.
The cases stated, are full of seem-
ing contradictions, of incidents and
feelings, which I cannot connect
in a distinct chain to each other.
Events take place, and emotions
are produced unaccountably. Now,
do these difficulties rise merely from
my own ignorance or want of pe-
netration, or from the very nature
of the thing?

Love is often an error; an evil;
it murmurs at obstacles that cannot
be removed; it desires what can-
not be obtained. It unsettles the
thoughts; hurts the understanding;
preys upon the health. It some-

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times generates sorrow, sometimes
madness, sometimes death; either
by secretly consuming the vital
principle, or arming the enamour-
ed wretch with self-destroying steel,
or cord, or poison.

It is an evil of every degree.
Some it affects for a moment;
others it torments for years. Some
it slightly incommodes; others it
tortures and kills. All degrees of
force, from sobering the features to
bursting the heart; all degrees of du-
ration, from a moment to an age, are
attendant on the thing called love.

It is modified by custom, by
opinion, by individual habits and
propensities. Love in one age, in
one nation, in one sex, in one per-
son, is different from love in ano-
ther age, nation, sex, or person.
It is mutable, capricious, deceitful;
it can never be foreseen, prevented,
or, by any medical and expeditious
process, be cured.

Love is never the same thing in
the same mind for any perceptible
duration. It varies each month,
each day, each hour, and each in-
stant. It varies as the circum-
stances that surround us vary. It
is never at a stand; always growing
or dwindling; and never waxing or
waning at the same rate in different
persons or at different times; and yet,
in all its variety of shapes, and sizes,
and duration, and symptoms, and ef-
fects, it is always recognized by the
same name. Variant as this passion
is, we are never at a loss to name it.

Since, according to events, it
leads either to happiness or misery;
since its misery is endlessly diversi-
fied in kind, duration, and degree,
so, likewise, its happiness is no less
wonderfully varied. As it has oc-
casioned instant death through too
much sorrow, instant death has fol-
lowed it from too much joy. Its
success, as its disappointment, has
enfeebled and destroyed the frame
at one time, and dispelled disease
and recalled from death at another.

The end that it toils after, the
good that it craves, is by no means
uniform. As its force and symp-
toms are modified, so its objects are
influenced by custom. Sometimes
it is exclusive; sometimes it is con-
tented to participate with others;
sometimes it merely craves pos-
session of the person; sometimes is
contented with obtaining the affec-
tions; sometimes is only to be satis-
fied by both. It is sometimes a
monopolist, sometimes a partner,
and sometimes is not offended at ab-
solute community.

Other passions spring up in cir-
cumstances not incident to every
one. Love is inseparable from sex;
sex is the property of all; all there-
fore are liable, and all have expe-
rienced the influence, some how
modified, of love; for all impulses
and cravings, joys and sorrows,
flowing from sex, varied as they
are by customs, habits, and opini-
ons, must still be resolved into love.

This passion is not extinct, be-
cause sex is not extinct, in absolute
solitude. The misery of him that
lives alone, chiefly flows from love:
and this would be the case if he had
never known a fellow creature, and
was therefore ignorant of the mean-
ing of the term sex. Such were the
miseries, as Milton paints them, of
Adam's solitude in Paradise.

I began with inquiring what love
is, and perhaps have made, insensi-
bly, some progress in answering
my own question; but I am not
satisfied with my own researches,
and would gladly hear the question,
not narratively or ludicrously, but
gravely and scientifically answered.

L. D.

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