Monday, 14 February 2011

Of Love

Sir William Cornwallis the Younger (c.1579 - 1614), 'Of Loue' from Essayes (1600):

It is a pretty soft thing this same Loue, an excellent company keeper; full of gentlenesse and affabilitie; makes men fine and to go cleanly; teacheth them qualities, handsome protestations; and if the ground be not too barren, it bringeth forth Rimes and Songs full of passion, enough to procure crossed armes and the Hat pulled down. Yea, it is a very fine thing, the badge of eighteene and vpward, not to be disallowed. Better spend thy time so than at Dice. I am content to call this Loue thou I holde Loue too worthy a Cement to ioyne earth to earth. The one parte must be celestiall or else it is not Loue.

I hope I shall not offend Diuinity if I say the coniunction of man & wife is not Loue. It is an allowance of God's and so good, and the name of it, I thinke, two honest Affections vnited into one.

If this bee so, what becomes of all the rest, which are counterfaits & yet begge vnder the passe-port of Loue? Loue thy neighbour as thy selfe. That which comes nearest to Loue is this: man with man agreeing in sexe. I cannot thinke it is so betweene man and woman, for it giues opportunity to lust, which the pureness of Loue will not endure.

Among all Affections that of Socrates was the best, who sought to better the mindes of all his familiars, and loued a good witte and inclinations to good, and sought to confirme them in that.

I laugh and wonder at the straung occasions that men take now a dayes to say they loue. If they meete with a fellowe at a Feast or in a Potte, if their Delights bee any thing a Kinne or their Faces any thing alike, if their Countries be one or their landes near adioyning, if they be both rich or both poore, or indeed, if their new-fangled inuentions can finde out any occasion, they are sworne brothers; they will liue and dye together. But they scarce sleepe in this mind; the one comes to make vse of the other and that spoyles all. He entred this league not to impaire but to profit himselfe. I can compare prosperity to nothing so rightly as to the promising plenteous fields of the Egyptians, which were deuoured by the numberlesse troupes of Flies. You cannot haue the one without the other. Flatters deuoure the Inheritance of Fortune, who, while she hath no neede of them, looke like Bees that will not be vnprofitable; but be once driuen and let Pouerty be your Arithmetician, you shall then see they brought nothing to your stocke but fed vpon it, and then you shall easily discerne them to be Drones. There is no Loue vpon the earth. God loueth vs vndeservedly, and some good men loue and so feare him. It is Loue from this last because God is a partie, or else it might be affection, not possibly Loue. Loue is diuine & eternall; Affection, like our flesh, momentary & mortall. If I could be sure of them, I would say I loued too and make men say they are my friends. But it is an vncertain trade this louing and stands vpon such a company of circumstances as I like it not. I make no difference between common louers and common whores; they both flatter and make the name of Loue their Bawdes to serue their particular pleasures. For my choyse of friends, vertue shall be the groundworke, and so I may build surely. Let his fortunes be what they will, I care not; yet if I might choose, I would haue him poore, for so I might easiest shew my affection to him and profit my selfe by him with least cost. For I hold obseruation more precious than wealth, and I will rather giue him my purse than my tyme.


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