BOOK VI. CONTAINING ABOUT THREE WEEKS.
1. Chapter i. Of love.
To deny the existence of a passion of which we often see manifest
instances, seems to be very strange and absurd; and can indeed proceed
only from that self-admonition which we have mentioned above: but how
unfair is this! Doth the man who recognizes in his own heart no traces
of avarice or ambition, conclude, therefore, that there are no such
passions in human nature? Why will we not modestly observe the same
rule in judging of the good, as well as the evil of others? Or why, in
any case, will we, as Shakespear phrases it, "put the world in our own
Predominant vanity is, I am afraid, too much concerned here. This is
one instance of that adulation which we bestow on our own minds, and
this almost universally. For there is scarce any man, how much soever
he may despise the character of a flatterer, but will condescend in
the meanest manner to flatter himself.
To those therefore I apply for the truth of the above observations,
whose own minds can bear testimony to what I have advanced.
Examine your heart, my good reader, and resolve whether you do believe
these matters with me. If you do, you may now proceed to their
exemplification in the following pages: if you do not, you have, I
assure you, already read more than you have understood; and it would
be wiser to pursue your business, or your pleasures (such as they
are), than to throw away any more of your time in reading what you can
neither taste nor comprehend. To treat of the effects of love to you,
must be as absurd as to discourse on colours to a man born blind;
since possibly your idea of love may be as absurd as that which we are
told such blind man once entertained of the colour scarlet; that
colour seemed to him to be very much like the sound of a trumpet: and
love probably may, in your opinion, very greatly resemble a dish of
soup, or a surloin of roast-beef.