The Tatler "To Love Her Is A Liberal Education"

Joseph Addison

"To Love Her Is A Liberal Education"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: The witty, prolific journalist, essayist, and social arbiter, Sir Richard Steele–whose work, along with that of Joseph Addison–is preserved in the influential eighteenth-century magazines, The Spectator and The Tatler–sets about discussing considerations of love and lust in the August 2 issue of The Tatler, for 1709. Steele, writing as Isaac Bicker-staff, proposes that the discussion begin with types of love symbolized by the figure of the Satyr on the one hand and the figure of Cupid, on the other. After some discussion, Bicker-staff proposes to rank various followers of the two figures and, first, speaks of one Aspasia:

. . . though her mein carries much more invitation than command, to behold her is an immediate check to loose behaviour; and to love her is a liberal education; for, it being the nature of all love to create an imitation of the beloved person, in the lover, a regard for Aspasia naturally produces a decency of manners, and good conduct of life in her admirers . . .
As charity is esteemed a conjunction of the good qualities necessary to a virtuous man, so love is the happy composition of all the accomplishments that make a fine Gentleman. The motive of a man's life is seen in all his actions . . .