ON PALLING IN LOVE 17
and the dizziest elevation is to love and be loved in return.
Consequently, accepted lovers are a trifle condescending in
their address to other men. An overweening sense of the
passion and importance of life hardly conduces to simplicity
of manner. To women, they feel very nobly, very purely,
and very generously, as if they were so many Joan-of -
Arcs ; but this does not come out in their behaviour ;
and they treat them to Grandisonian airs marked with a
suspicion of fatuity. I am not quite certain that women
do not like this sort of thing ; but really, after having
bemused myself over Daniel JDeronda, I have given up
trying to understand what they like.
If it did nothing else, this sublime and ridiculous super-
stition, that the pleasure of the pair is somehow blessed
to others, and everybody is made happier in their happi-
ness, would serve at least to keep love generous and great-
hearted, Nor is it quite a baseless superstition after all.
Other lovers are hugely interested. They strike the
nicest balance between pity and approval, when they see
people aping the greatness of their own sentiments. It
is an understood thing in the play that, while the young
gentlefolk are courting on the terrace, a rough flirtation is
being carried on, and a light, trivial sort of love is growing
up, between the footman and the singing chambermaid.
As people are generally cast for the leading parts in their
own imaginations, the reader can apply the parallel to real
life without much chance of going wrong. In short, they
are quite sure this other love-affair is not so deep-seated as
their own, but they like dearly to see it going forward.
And love, considered as a spectacle, must have attractions
for many who are not of the confraternity. The senti-
mental old maid is a common-place of the novelists; and
he must be rather a poor sort of human being, to be sure,
who can look on at this pretty madness without indulgence
and sympathy. For nature commends itself to people
with a most insinuating art; the busiest is now and again
arrested by a great sunset; and you may be as pacific or
as cold-blooded as you will, but you cannot help some
emotion when you read of well-disputed battles, or meet a
pair of lovers in the lane.