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Sir Francis Bacon


Essay 10

Of Loue.
1 THe Stage is more beholding to Loue, then the Life of Man. For as to the Stage, Loue is euer matter of Comedies, and now and then of Tragedies: But in Life, it doth much mischiefe: Sometimes like a Syren; Sometimes like a Fury. You may obserue, that amongst all the great and worthy Persons, ( whereof the memory remaineth, either Ancient or Recent ) there is not One, that hath beene transported, to the mad degree of Loue: which shewes, that great Spirits, and great Businesse, doe keepe out this weake Passion. You must except, neuerthelesse, Marcus Antonius the halfe Partner of the Empire of Rome; and Appius Claudius the Decemuir, and Law-giuer: Whereof the former, was indeed a Voluptuous Man, and Inordinate; but the latter, was an Austere, and wise man: And therefore it seemes ( though rarely ) that Loue can finde entrance, not only into an open Heart; but also into a Heart well fortified; if watch be not well kept. It is a poore Saying of Epicurus; Satis magnum Alter Alteri Theatrum sumus: As if Man, made for the contemplation of Heauen, and all Noble Obiects, should doe nothing, but kneele before a little Idoll, and make himselfe subiect, though not of the Mouth ( as Beasts are ) yet of the Eye; which was giuen him for higher Purposes. It is a strange Thing, to note the Excesse of this Passion; And how it braues, the Nature, and value of things; by this, that the Speaking in a perpetuall Hyperbole, is comely in nothing, but in Loue. Neither is it meerely in the Phrase; For whereas it hath beene well said, that the Arch-flatterer, with whom all the petty Flatterers haue Intelligence, is a Mans Selfe; Certainly, the Louer is more. For there was neuer Proud Man, thought so absurdly well of himselfe, as the Louer doth of the Person loued: And therefore, it was well said; That it is impossible to loue, and to be wise. Neither doth this weaknesse appeare to others onely, and not to the Party Loued; But to the Loued, most of all: except the Loue be reciproque. For, it is a true Rule, that Loue is euer rewarded, either with the Reciproque, or with an inward, and secret Contempt. By how much the more, Men ought to beware of this Passion, which loseth not only other things, but it selfe. As for the other losses, the Poets Relation, doth well figure them; That he that preferred Helena, quitted the Gifts of Iuno, and Pallas. For whosoeuer esteemeth too much of Amorous Affection, quitteth both Riches, and Wisedome. This Passion, hath his Flouds, in the very times of Weaknesse; which are, great Prosperitie; and great Aduersitie; though this latter hath beene lesse obserued. Both which times kindle Loue, and make it more feruent, and therefore shew it to be the Childe of Folly. They doe best, who, if they cannot but admit Loue, yet make it keepe Quarter: And seuer it wholly, from their serious Affaires, and Actions of life: For if it checke once with Businesse, it troubleth Mens Fortunes, and maketh Men, that they can, no wayes be true, to their owne Ends. I know not how, but Martiall Men, are giuen to Loue: I thinke it is, but as they are giuen to Wine; For Perils, commonly aske, to be paid in Pleasures. There is in Mans Nature, a secret Inclination, and Motion, towards loue of others; which, if it be not spent, vpon some one, or a few, doth naturally spread it selfe, towards many; and maketh men become Humane and Charitable; As it is seene sometime in Friars. Nuptiall loue maketh Mankinde; Friendly loue perfecteth it; but Wanton loue Corrupteth, and Imbaseth it.

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