Wednesday, February 07, 2007

from The Anatomy of Melancholy

from the beginning of the third "partition" which deals with "love-melancholy"...

Love's limits are ample and great, and a spacious walk it hath, beset with thorns, and for that cause, which Scaliger reprehends in Cardan, not lightly to be passed over. Lest I incur the same censure, I will examine all the kinds of love, his nature, beginning, difference, objects, how it is honest or dishonest, a virtue or vice, a natural passion, or a disease, his power and effects, how far it extends: of which, although something has been said in the first partition, in those sections of perturbations for love and hatred are the first and most common passions, from which all the rest arise, and are attendant, as Picolomineus holds, or as Nich. Caussinus, the primum mobile of all other affections, which carry them all about them) I will now more copiously dilate, through all his parts and several branches, that so it may better appear what love is, and how it varies with the objects, how in defect, or (which is most ordinary and common) immoderate, and in excess, causeth melancholy.

Love universally taken, is defined to be a desire, as a word of more ample signification: and though Leon Hebreus, the most copious writer of this subject, in his third dialogue make no difference, yet in his first he distinguisheth them again, and defines love by desire. Love is a voluntary affection, and desire to enjoy that which is good. Desire wisheth, love enjoys; the end of the one is the beginning of the other; that which we love is present; that which we desire is absent. It is worth the labour, saith Plotinus, to consider well of love, whether it be a god or a devil, or passion of the mind, or partly god, partly devil, partly passion. He concludes love to participate of all three, to arise from desire of that which is beautiful and fair, and defines it to be an action of the mind desiring that which is good. Plato calls it the great devil, for its vehemency, and sovereignty over all other passions, and defines it an appetite, by which we desire some good to be present. Ficinus in his comment adds the word fair to this definition. Love is a desire of enjoying that which is good and fair. Austin dilates this common definition, and will have love to be a delectation of the heart, for something which we seek to win, or joy to have, coveting by desire, resting in joy. Scaliger exerc. 301. taxeth these former definitions, and will not have love to be defined by desire or appetite; for when we enjoy the things we desire, there remains no more appetite: as he defines it, Love is an affection by which we are either united to the thing we love, or perpetuate our union; which agrees in part with Leon Hebreus.

Previous Extracts from The Anatomy of Melancholy...

The Melancholy of the Trees

On the Uses of Venery

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