64 University of Texas Bulletin
by this fact they undertake to explain the phenomenon. Now, if a person who was going into a dark room to fetch something should answer, on my advising him to take a light along, that it was only a trifling matter he wanted and so he would not bother to take a light along â€” ah! then I would understand him excellently well. If, on the other hand, this same person should take me aside and, with an air of mystery, confide to me that the thing he was about to fetch was of the very greatest importance and that it was for this reason that he was able to do it in the dark â€” ah! then I wonder if my weak mortal brain could follow the soaring flight of his speech. Even if I should refrain from laugh- ing, in order not to offend him, I should hardly be able to restrain my mirth as soon as he had turned his back. But at love nobody laughs ; for I am quite prepared to be embar- rassed like the Jew who, after ending his story, asks: Is there no one who will laugh ?^Â« And yet I did not miss the point, as did the Jew, and as to my laughter I am far from wanting to insult any one. Quite on the contrary, I scorn those fools who imagine that their love has such good rea- sons that they can afford to laugh at other lovers ; for since love is altogether inexplicable, one lover is as ridiculous as the other. Quite as foolish and haughty I consider it also when a man proudly looks about him in the circle of girls to find who may be worthy of him, or when a girl proudly tosses her head to select or reject; because such persons are simply basing their thoughts on an unexplained assumption. No. What busies my thought is love as such, and it is love which seems ridiculous to me; and therefore I fear it, lest I become ridiculous in my own eyes, or ridicu- lous in the eyes of the gods who have fashioned man thus. In other words, if love is ridiculous it is equally ridiculous, whether now my sweetheart be a princess or a servant girl ; for the lovable, as we have seen, is the inexplicable.
Look you, therefore do I fear love, and find precisely in this a new proof of love's being comical ; for my fear is so
'Â«The reference is to a situation in Richard Cumberland's (1732- 1811) play of "The Jew," known to Copenhagen playgoers in an adaptation.