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- The Physiology of Marriage Part 3 - 13/19 -

by the task. The master admits that his extreme youth has not permitted him as yet to note and verify more than a few symptoms; but he feels a just pride, on his arrival at the end of his difficult enterprise, from the consciousness that he is leaving to his successors a new field of research; and that in a matter apparently so trite, not only was there much to be said, but also very many points are found remaining which may yet be brought into the clear light of observation. He therefore presents here without order or connection the rough outlines which he has so far been able to execute, in the hope that later he may have leisure to co-ordinate them and to arrange them in a complete system. If he has been so far kept back in the accomplishment of a task of supreme national importance, he believes, he may say, without incurring the charge of vanity, that he has here indicated the natural division of those symptoms. They are necessarily of two kinds: the unicorns and the bicorns. The unicorn Minotaur is the least mischievous. The two culprits confine themselves to a platonic love, in which their passion, at least, leaves no visible traces among posterity; while the bicorn Minotaur is unhappiness with all its fruits.

We have marked with an asterisk the symptoms which seem to concern the latter kind.



*When, after remaining a long time aloof from her husband, a woman makes overtures of a very marked character in order to attract his love, she acts in accordance with the axiom of maritime law, which says: /The flag protects the cargo/.


A woman is at a ball, one of her friends comes up to her and says:

"Your husband has much wit."

"You find it so?"


Your wife discovers that it is time to send your boy to a boarding school, with whom, a little time ago, she was never going to part.


*In Lord Abergavenny's suit for divorce, the /valet de chambre/ deposed that "the countess had such a detestation of all that belonged to my lord that he had very often seen her burning the scraps of paper which he had touched in her room."


If an indolent woman becomes energetic, if a woman who formerly hated study learns a foreign language; in short, every appearance of a complete change in character is a decisive symptom.


The woman who is happy in her affections does not go much into the world.


The woman who has a lover becomes very indulgent in judging others.


*A husband gives to his wife a hundred crowns a month for dress; and, taking everything into account, she spends at least five hundred francs without being a sou in debt; the husband is robbed every night with a high hand by escalade, but without burglarious breaking in.


*A married couple slept in the same bed; madame was always sick. Now they sleep apart, she has no more headache, and her health becomes more brilliant than ever; an alarming symptom!


A woman who was a sloven suddenly develops extreme nicety in her attire. There is a Minotaur at hand!


"Ah! my dear, I know no greater torment than not to be understood."

"Yes, my dear, but when one is--"

"Oh, that scarcely ever happens."

"I agree with you that it very seldom does. Ah! it is great happiness, but there are not two people in the world who are able to understand you."


*The day when a wife behaves nicely to her husband--all is over.


I asked her: "Where have you been, Jeanne?"

"I have been to your friend's to get your plate that you left there."

"Ah, indeed! everything is still mine," I said. The following year I repeated the question under similar circumstances.

"I have been to bring back our plate."

"Well, well, part of the things are still mine," I said. But after that, when I questioned her, she spoke very differently.

"You wish to know everything, like great people, and you have only three shirts. I went to get my plate from my friend's house, where I had stopped."

"I see," I said, "nothing is left me."


Do not trust a woman who talks of her virtue.


Some one said to the Duchess of Chaulnes, whose life was despaired of:

"The Duke of Chaulnes would like to see you once more."

"Is he there?"


"Let him wait; he shall come in with the sacraments." This minotauric anecdote has been published by Chamfort, but we quote it here as typical.


*Some women try to persuade their husbands that they have duties to perform towards certain persons.

"I am sure that you ought to pay a visit to such and such a man. . . . We cannot avoid asking such and such a man to dinner."


"Come, my son, hold yourself straight: try to acquire good manners! Watch such and such a man! See how he walks! Notice the way in which he dresses."


When a woman utters the name of a man but twice a day, there is perhaps some uncertainty about her feelings toward him--but if thrice? --Oh! oh!


When a woman goes home with a man who is neither a lawyer nor a minister, to the door of his apartment, she is very imprudent.


It is a terrible day when a husband fails to explain to himself the motive of some action of his wife.


*The woman who allows herself to be found out deserves her fate.

What should be the conduct of a husband, when he recognizes a last symptom which leaves no doubt as to the infidelity of his wife? There are only two courses open; that of resignation or that of vengeance;

The Physiology of Marriage Part 3 - 13/19

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