The Philosophy of Love. [A Plea in Defence of Virtue and Truth!] A Poem in Six Cantos, with Other Poems
Poetry; Philosophy; LoveThe title of the following Poem may, perhaps, be rather strange at first thought; and may prompt the enquiry,—“What sort of philosophy is there in Love?”—In reply, I would say, do think again: give it another thought: and then ask, Is there no Philosophy in Love? I hope a reference even to the analysis of the poem will go far to shew that there is; and more especially, I hope, in the poem, the Muse’s endeavours will prove that there is a great deal of philosophy, in Love; and as much in value, if not more so, than all the other philosophies existing! Love; Religion; PerceptionIt is true, the idea of love, in many minds of a reprehensible nature, is often associated with notions, which has no affinity whatever with love in its true character! The affections of the heart, which are as an impress of God’s likeness on the soul, can surely not be deserving of that degraded sort of esteem, with which some would regard them. Love; ReligionTrue love is worthy of the best respect that can be shewn; and not to be ashamed; seeing it reflects, as in a mirror, that spirit of truth, with which the affections were inspired at the beginning; and had pronounced upon it the best of blessings; and it is on the merit of such, that human happiness on earth chiefly depends. But, how much has page VI true-love been defaced of its beauty, and the glory of the holy Spirit’s image been bedimmed when thoughts unholy would in the mind arise, degrading love’s own truth to quite the reverse of its original purity! So sensuality though dressed up with blandishments and flattery, to appear fair and love-like, is not true-love: there is as much difference between the one and the other, as between man, and a well dressed ape! Besides, Love; Poetry; MoralityLove is not only the essence of all true poetry, but it is also the foundation of all sound morality,—it is the very spirit of moral philosophy! Now, say, is there no philosophy in Love?
Current Affairs; PoetryIn order to prevent any misconception, which may arise, in regard to originality, in the first canto, I would remark, as the nature of the subject required a starting point,—where could it be found, but at the beginning of all things? Now, as this beginning has been treated on by Milton, some critic, who may have no farther knowledge of his works, than what they have seen, of extracts, in their school-books; and who may be ready to accuse me of plagiarism, and that without any examination, as if they believed that no one had a right to treat on the same text: yet, such an accusation I can repudiate, as I can do without any such aid. I only followed the natural course of the page VII subject, and, consequently, must have crossed some point in the path, which formerly he trode. It was not till after I had brought the Poem to a close, that the question occurred to me, when transcribing it,—What, if I should be blamed for borrowing from Milton? This rather startled me. I immediately took down his works to make search; but at this time failed in finding what I sought. About six month’s after a certain pseudo critic, to entertain the readers of the Evening Post, (June, 10, ’69) accused me, of “caricaturing the loves of Adam and Eve, from Milton!”—This made me search his works more earnestly, to see what grounds there were for such an accusation; at length, I found about the end of Book VIII. of Paradise lost the place, to which our critic must have referred, and saw, to my surprise and delight, we only painted the same picture from different points of observation; while I could not, but feel convinced that our critic himself was as ignorant of what he affirmed. as were the pen, ink, and paper, which he engaged to show the rabid spirit he possessed. I dare say (without any egotism) whoever chooses to take the trouble to compare the passages referred to above, I have no doubt, but that they will see the correctness of what I have stated,—I am no way averse to page VIII sound criticism; but let my critic prove himself master of the subject on which he exercises his censorial powers, and shew, he can give a better rendering to the idea put forth, before he vomits out his invective and abuse; let him do this, and then we will bow in respect to rebuke: but a critic, who can show nothing but maliceousness; him, we utterly scorn! My critic got a reply, but he was not gracious enough to entertain the readers of the Evening Post, with his own tirade turned against himself! However both critic and reply are pinned together for a future use.
To conclude this digressive preface, I may only add, Poetrythe rest of the Poem, after the first canto, is the result of a life-time’s observation, and, of course, a little experience. We shall now return our sincere thanks for past acceptance; and in business phrase, may we hope, this may merit a continuance of the same. Poetry; PhilosophyAs the aim of philosophy is to aid in the attainment of happiness on earth, and, by an increase of knowledge, to lesson human misery; so if this humble song can, in any way, assist in solving some of the great problems of life, the Muse will be glad to think, she has not spun her task in vain: while the consciousness of having done his duty, as her amanuensis, to assist and advise the tempted and tried, by precept and illustration, will be the joy, and rejoicing of the—