Every man, like narcissus, becomes enamored of the reflection of himself, only choosing a substance instead of a shadow. This love for any particular woman is self-love at second hand, vanity reflected, compound egotism.
When one has this intelligent self-love is commanded to love his neighbor as himself, what else is enjoined than that he shall do all in his power to commend to him the love of God? This is the worship of God, this is true religion, this right piety, this the service due to God only.
It is this unquiet self-love that renders us so sensitive. The sick man, who sleeps ill, thinks the night long. We exaggerate, from cowardice, all the evils which we encounter; they are great, but our sensibility increases them. The true way to bear them is to yield ourselves up with confidence to God.
It takes a lot of self-love and presumption to have such esteem for one’s own opinions that to establish them one must overthrow the public peace and introduce so many inevitable evils, and such a horrible corruption of morals, as civil wars and political changes bring with them in a matter of such weight - and introduce them into one’s own country.
Few things are more agreeable to self-love than revenge, and yet no cause so effectually restrains us from revenge as self-love. And this paradox naturally suggests another; that the strength of the community is not infrequently built upon the weakness of those individuals that compose it.
We strive as hard to hide our hearts from ourselves as from others, and always with more success; for in deciding upon our own case we are both judge, jury, and executioner, and where sophistry cannot overcome the first, or later the second, self-love is always ready to defeat the sentence by bribing the mind.
Nothing is so capable of diminishing self-love as the observation that we disapprove at one time what we approve at another.
Friendship is only a reciprocal conciliation of interests, and an exchange of good offices; it is a species of commerce out of which self-love always expects to gain something.