Of Love

The stage is more beholding to love, than the life of man. For as to the stage, love is ever matter of comedies, and now and then of tragedies; but in life it does much mischief; sometimes like a siren, sometimes like a fury.

You may observe, that amongst all the great and worthy persons (whereof the memory remaineth, either ancient or recent) there is not one, that hath been transported to the mad degree of love: which shows that great spirits, and great business, do keep out this weak passion. You must except, nevertheless, Marcus Antonius, the half partner of the empire of Rome, and Appius Claudius, the decemvir and lawgiver; whereof the former was indeed a voluptuous man, and inordinate; but the latter was an austere and wise man: and therefore it seems (though rarely) that love can find entrance, not only into an open heart, but also into a heart well fortified, if watch be not well kept.

It is a poor saying of Epicurus, Satis magnum alter alteri theatrum sumus; as if man, made for the contemplation of heaven, and all noble objects, should do nothing but kneel before a little idol, and make himself a subject, though not of the mouth (as beasts are), yet of the eye; which was given him for higher purposes.

It is a strange thing, to note the excess of this passion, and how it braves the nature, and value of things, by this; that the speaking in a perpetual hyperbole, is comely in nothing but in love. Neither is it merely in the phrase; for whereas it hath been well said, that the arch-flatterer, with whom all the petty flatterers have intelligence, is a man's self; certainly the lover is more. For there was never proud man thought so absurdly well of himself, as the lover doth of the person loved; and therefore it was well said, That it is impossible to love, and to be wise. Neither doth this weakness appear to others only, and not to the party loved; but to the loved most of all, except the love be reciproque.

For it is a true rule, that love is ever 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 itself! As for the other losses, the poet's relation doth well figure them: that he that preferred Helena, quitted the gifts of Juno and Pallas. For whosoever esteemeth too much of amorous affection, quitteth both riches and wisdom.

This passion hath his floods, in very times of weakness; which are great prosperity, and great adversity; though this latter hath been less observed: both which times kindle love, and make it more fervent, and therefore show it to be the child of folly.

They do best, who if they cannot but admit love, yet make it keep quarters; and sever it wholly from their serious affairs, and actions, of life; for if it check once with business, it troubleth men's fortunes, and maketh men, that they can no ways be true to their own ends. I know not how, but martial men are given to love: I think, it is but as they are given to wine; for perils commonly ask to be paid in pleasures.

There is in man's nature, a secret inclination and motion, towards love of others, which if it be not spent upon some one or a few, doth naturally spread itself towards many, and maketh men become humane and charitable; as it is seen sometime in friars.

Nuptial love maketh mankind; friendly love perfecteth it; but wanton love corrupteth, and embaseth it.

  中文:

  舞台上的爱情要比生活中的爱情美好得多。在舞台上,爱情永远都是喜剧的题材,也不时成为悲剧的内容。但在人生中,爱情时而有如艳女,时而有如泼妇,惹是生非,招灾致祸。

  值得注意的是,所有古今伟大而尊贵的人物,只要是我们还记得的,还没有一个会在爱情中被诱至热昏的程度,可见伟大的人物和伟大的事业的确可与这种孱弱之情毫不沾边。然而,有两个必须视为例外的事,一是曾为罗马帝国两个合伙统治者之一的马库斯·安东尼奥斯,还有就是作为十大执政官之一和拟订法典的阿皮尔斯·克劳迪亚斯。前者确是一个好色之徒,放纵无度;但后者却是一个严肃而多谋的人。所以,虽然不多见,但看起来,爱情不但会对不设防之心长驱直入,即或对严阵以待之心,也照样随进随驻,如果把守稍有松弛的话。

  伊壁鸠鲁说过一句蹩脚的话,“我们彼此都是值得对方观赏的”,好像生来即向往天堂及一切崇高事物的人类,不该干别的,只应跪在一个小偶像面前,自己任由对方眼目所奴役,虽然还不至于如畜生一般为胃口所奴役,而上帝赐给人眼目本是为了更崇高之目的。

  显而易见的是,看这种情欲之放纵,及其不顾事情就里和意义而肆意妄为的结果,真是触目惊心。就此而言,浮夸谄媚的词令仅仅适用于谈情说爱。这不仅是在言论上如此,因为一直都有这样一个很有见地的说法,说人主要吹嘘的是自己,但情人要算例外。情人眼里出西施,再自大的人也都不会夸张至此。所以,有人很精辟地说过:“人在爱情中不会聪明。”这种缺点并非只有外人可见,并非恋爱对象看不见——除非恋爱双方也在爱着对方。

  铁定的规律是,爱情所得到的回报,从来都是要么得到回爱,要么得到对方内心隐隐地轻蔑。因此,人们更应小心对待这种情欲,它不但使人失去其它的东西,连爱情自己也保不住。至于其它方面的损失,诗人的诗史刻画的极好,说那个喜欢海伦的人放弃了朱诺和帕拉斯的礼物。凡是沉迷于爱情的人就会丢弃财富和智慧。

  每当人处于脆弱状态时,即最亨通和最受挫时,这种情欲就泛滥成灾(虽然人在最受挫时也有此问题是一直较少人注意的)。这两种状态都在引燃爱火并使其热烈的,因此可见,爱情是愚昧之子。

  有些人处理得极好,当他们非爱不可的时候,就予以节制,并使之与其重大任务和人生主旨彻底分离,因为爱情一旦掺和到正事上,就会破坏人的运气,使人再也无法持守自己既定的目标。我不明白:为什么武士们都是耽于爱情的,我想这是和他们好酒一样的吧,因为冒险多需要快感作报酬的。

  人性中有一种深藏的主动爱人的倾向和动机,若无具体对象得以倾注,它便会撒向大众,并使人变得仁厚而慈善,正如有时在天主教修道士身上所见到的情形那样。

  夫妻的爱,使人类繁衍;朋友的爱,给人以帮助;荒淫纵欲的爱,却只会使人堕落。