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Title: Rambles in Womanland

Author: Max O'Rell

Release date: August 12, 2010 [eBook #33416]

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Chris Curnow and the Online Distributed
Proofreading Team at (This file was
produced from images generously made available by The
Internet Archive)


Cover Page







[Pg v]



[Pg 1]





Cupid will cause men to do many things; so will cupidity.

I like economy too much as a virtue not to loathe it when it becomes a vice.

Many virtues, when carried too far, become vices.

Envy is a vice which does not pay. If you let your envy be apparent, you advertise your failure.

Nothing is less common than common-sense.

Whenever you can, pay cash for what you buy. A bill owing is like port wine—it generally improves by keeping.

[Pg 2]

There are people whose signature has no more significance at the end of a letter of insults than it has value at the bottom of a cheque.

The hardest thing to do in life is to make a living dishonestly for any length of time.

The harm that happens to others very seldom does us any good, and the good that happens to them very seldom does us any harm. People who are successful are neither envious, jealous, nor revengeful.

Very often a man says, 'I have made a fool of myself!' who should only accuse his father.

A contract is a collection of clauses signed by two honourable persons who take each other for scoundrels.

Many people make a noise for the simple reason that, like drums, they are empty. Many others think themselves deep who are only hollow.

Never have anything to do with women in whose houses you never see a man. You may say what you like, but I have heard many women admit that the presence of a man adds a great deal of respectability to a house.

[Pg 3]

If you cannot prevent evil, try not to see it. What we do not know does not hurt us.

A self-conscious man is sometimes one who is aware of his worth; a conceited man is generally one who is not aware of his unworthiness.

Many a saint in a small provincial town is a devil of a dog in the Metropolis. Life in small towns is like life in glass-houses. The fear of the neighbour is the beginning of wisdom.

Great revolutions were not caused by great grievances or even great sufferings, but by great injustices.

Revolutions, like new countries, are often started by somewhat objectionable adventurers. When they have been successful, steady and honest people come in.

The good diplomatist is not the one who forces events, but the one who foresees them, and, when they come, knows how to make the best of them. The good diplomatist is not the one who successfully takes people in, but the one who, when he has discovered who are his true friends, sticks to them through thick and thin.

I prefer unrighteousness to self-righteousness. The unrighteous man may see the error of his ways and[Pg 4] improve. He may even be lovable. The self-righteous man is unteachable, uncharitable, unloving, unlovable, and unlovely.

You can judge the social standing of a woman from the way she sits down.

A woman may love a man she has hated, never one she has despised, seldom one who has been indifferent to her.

A woman is seldom jealous of another on account of her intellectual attainments, but if her bosom friend has on purpose or by mere chance eclipsed her by her dress at a party, they will probably be no longer on speaking terms.

Scientific men are generally the most honest of men, because their minds are constantly bent on the pursuit of truth.

It requires a head better screwed on the shoulders to stand success than to endure misfortune.

The world is not ruled by men of talent, but by men of character.

A vain man speaks either well or ill of himself. A modest man never speaks of himself at all.

[Pg 5]



The Paris Presse had asked its male readers to mention which virtue they most admire in women. Here is the result, with the number of votes obtained by each virtue, and truly it is not an edifying result:

1. Faithfulness 8,278
2. Economy 7,496
3. Kindness 6,736
4. Order 5,052
5. Modesty 4,975
6. Devotion 4,782
7. Charity 4,575
8. Sweetness 4,565
9. Cleanliness 3,594
10. Patience 2,750
11. Maternal love 2,703
12. Industry 2,125
13. Courage 1,758
14. Discretion 1,687
15. Simplicity 1,580
16. Wisdom 1,417
17. Honesty 1,389
18. Amiability 1,273
19. Chastity 1,230
20. Propriety 969
21. Self-abnegation 868

Surely, here is food for reflections and comments. Economy, order, and devotion head the list; chastity and self-abnegation figure at the bottom. I should have imagined the last two virtues would have obtained the maximum of votes.

And is it not wonderful that the most beautiful trait in a woman's character—I mean Loyalty—should be altogether omitted from this list of twenty-one most[Pg 6] characteristic virtues in women? Are we to conclude that loyalty is a virtue for men alone, such as willpower, magnanimity, energy, bravery, and straightforwardness?

And Sincerity, that most indispensable and precious virtue, which is supposed to make the friendship of men so valuable, is it not also a virtue that we should value in women?

Do men mean to say that loyalty and sincerity should not be or could not be expected to be found in women? Woman must be sweet, of course, and be economical. She must charm men and keep their house on the principles of the strictest order. Lovely!

I know men who allow their wives £1 a day to keep their houses in plenty, and who spend £2 every day at their club. Whatever the husband does, however, the wife must be faithful, and possess patience and self-abnegation. She must be resigned, and, mind you, always amiable and cheerful.

Poor dear fellow! the truth is, that when a man has spent a jolly evening at his club with the 'boys,' it is devilishly hard on him to come home at one or two in the morning and to find his wife not amiable, not cheerful, but suffering from the dumps, and, maybe, not even patient enough to have waited for him. Sometimes she does worse than this, the wretch! She suffers from toothache or neuralgia. What of that? She should be patient, resigned, amiable, and cheerful; c'est son métier.[Pg 7]

Yes, on the threshold of the twentieth century we find man still considering woman as a pet animal or a nice little beast of burden; sometimes as both. I really should feel prouder of my sex if they would only be kind enough to assert that men are not beings inferior to monkeys and birds.

For monkeys have but one rule of morality for the manners of both sexes, and birds share with their mates the duties of nest-building and feeding the little ones. The latter even go further. When the female bird does her little house duties in the nursery, the male entertains her with a song in order to keep her cheerful.

Marriage will be a failure as long as men are of opinion that fidelity, patience, devotion, amiability, cheerfulness, and self-abnegation are virtues expected of women only; marriage will be a failure as long as it is a firm, the two partners of which do not bring about the same capital of qualities, as long as what is bad in the goose is not bad in the gander.

Certainly I like to see in a man a more powerful will than in a woman; I like to see more sweetness in a woman than in a man. In other words, I like to see certain virtues or qualities more accentuated in a man, others more accentuated in a woman; but, so far as fidelity, kindness, order, patience, industry, discretion, courage, devotion, self-abnegation, wisdom, honesty, sincerity, amiability, and loyalty are concerned, I absolutely deny that they should be womanly virtues only. They are virtues that a man should[Pg 8] expect to find in a woman as well as a woman in a man.

Oh, you men, most illogical creatures in the world! You call woman a weak being, but, although you make laws to protect children, you make none to protect women. Nay, on that woman whom you call weak you impose infallibility. When you strong, bearded men get out of the path of duty you say: 'The flesh is weak'; but when it is a woman who does there is no indulgence, no mercy, no pity. No extenuating circumstances are admitted.

What you most admire in women is chastity. If so, how dare you leave unpunished the man who takes it away from them? How is it that you receive him in your club, welcome him in your house, and not uncommonly congratulate him on his good fortune?

I hear you constantly complain that women are too fond of dress, too careless of the money that you make by the sweat of your brow, too frivolous, too fond of pleasure, and that matrimony becomes, on that account, more and more impossible.

Let me assure you that there are many young girls, brought up by thoughtful mothers to be cheerful, devoted, and careful wives; but, as a rule, you despise them. You are attracted by the best dressed ones, and you go and offer your heart to the bird with fine feathers. You take the rose, and disdain to look at the violet. How illogical of you to make complaints![Pg 9] You only get what you want, and, later on, what you deserve.

The law, made by man, and the customs exact virtue incarnate in woman. She is to have neither weaknesses, senses, nor passions. Whatever her husband does, she must be patient and resigned.

The laws and customs would be much wiser if, instead of demanding infallibility of women, they were to make women's duties and virtues easier by showing less indulgence for men, and by declaring that, in matrimony, the same conjugal virtues are expected alike of men as of women.

[Pg 10]



The man butterfly is the most dangerous member of society. He is generally handsome, amiable, persuasive, and witty. He may be in succession cheerful, light-hearted, poetical, and sentimental.

If he comes to the rose, he says to her in his sweetest voice: 'You are beautiful, and I love you tenderly, ardently. I feel I can devote my whole life to you. If you can love me, I can reward your love with a century of constancy and faithfulness.'

'Oh!' says the rose, with an air of incredulity, 'I know what the faithfulness of the butterfly is.'

'There are all sorts of butterflies,' he gently intimates; 'I know that some of them have committed perjury and deceived roses, but I am not one of them. Of the butterfly I have only the wings, to always bring me back to you. I am a one-rose butterfly; if the others are inconstant, unfaithful, liars, I am innocent of their faults. I swear, if you will not listen to me, I shall die, and in dying for you there will be happiness still.'[Pg 11]

The rose is touched, moved and charmed with this passionate language. 'How he loves me!' she thinks. 'After all, if butterflies are generally perfidious, it is not his fault; he is not one of that sort.'

The rose yields; she gives up to him her whole soul, all her most exquisite perfume. After he is saturated, he takes his flight.

'Where are you going?' asks the rose.

'Where am I going?' he says, with a protecting sneer. 'Why, I am going to visit the other flowers, your rivals.'

'But you swore you would be faithful to me!'

'I know, my dear; a butterfly's oath, nothing more. You should have been wiser, and not allowed yourself to be taken in.'

Then he goes in the neighbourhood of a beautiful, haughty, vain lily. Meantime an ugly bumble comes near the rose and tries to sting her. She calls the butterfly to her help, but he does not even deign to answer. For him the rose is the past and the lily the present. He is no more grateful than he is faithful.


With the lily, whom he understands well, he knows he has to proceed in quite a different manner. He must use flattery.

'Imagine, lovely lily,' he says to her, 'that this silly and vain rose thinks she is the queen of flowers. She is[Pg 12] beautiful, no doubt, but what is her beauty compared to yours? What is her perfume? Almost insipid compared to your enchanting, intoxicating fragrance. What is her shape compared to your glorious figure? Why, she looks like a pink cabbage. Is not, after all, pure whiteness incomparable? My dear lady, you are above competition.'

The vain lily listens with attention and pleasure. The wily butterfly sees he is making progress. He goes on flattering, then risks a few words of love.

'Ah!' sighs the lily, 'if you were not a fickle butterfly, I might believe half of what you say!'

'You do not know me!' he exclaims indignantly. 'I have only the shape of a butterfly; I have not the heart of one. How could I be unfaithful to you if you loved me? Are you not the most beautiful of flowers? How could it be possible for me to prefer any other to you? No, no; for the rest of my life there will be but the lily for me.'

The vanity of the lily is flattered, she believes him, and gives herself up to the passionate embrace of the butterfly.

'Oh, beloved one,' she exclaims in ecstasy, 'you will love me for ever; you will always be mine as I am yours!'

'To tell you the truth, my dear lily,' says the butterfly coolly, 'you are very nice, but your perfume is rather strong, a little vulgar, and one gets tired of it quickly. I am not sure that I do not prefer the rose[Pg 13] to you. Now, be good, and let me go quickly. I am a butterfly. I cannot help my nature; I was made like that. Good-bye!'


Then he flies towards a timid violet, modestly hidden in the ivy near the wall. Her sweet odour reveals her presence. So he stops and says to her:

'Sweet, exquisite violet, how I do love you! Other flowers may be beautiful, my darling, but that is all. You, besides, are good and modest; as for your sweet, delicious perfume, it is absolutely beyond competition. I might admire a rose or a lily for a moment, lose my head over them, but not my heart. You alone can inspire sincere and true love. If you will marry me—for you do not imagine that I could ask you to love me without at the same time asking you to be my wife—we will lead a quiet, retired life of eternal bliss, hidden in the ivy, far from the noise and the crowd.'

'This would be beautiful,' says the violet, 'but I am afraid you are too brilliant for me, and I too modest and humble for you. I have been warned against you. People say you are fickle.'

'Who could have slandered me so? Your modesty is the very thing that has attracted me to you. I have crossed the garden without looking at any other flower in order to come to you straight. What I want is a heart like yours—tender, faithful—a heart that I may feel is mine for the rest of my days.'[Pg 14]

And he swears his love, always promising matrimony as soon as a few difficulties, 'over which he has no control,' are surmounted. The poor little violet is fascinated, won; she loves him, and gives herself to him; but it is not long before he goes.

'Surely,' she says, with her eyes filled with tears, 'you are not going to abandon me. You are not going to leave me to fight the great big battle of life alone, with all the other flowers of the garden to sneer at me and despise me! Oh no, dear; I have loved you with my modest soul; I have given you all I have in the world. No, no, you are not going away, never to return again! It would be too cruel! No, the world is not so bad as that; you will return, won't you?'

'I feel very sorry for you, dear—really very sorry; but, you see, I cannot. I am a gentleman, and I have my social position to think of. I am sure you understand that. You say you are fond of me; then you will put yourself in my place, and conclude that I have done the best I could for you. Good-bye! Forget me as quickly as you can.'

The little violet commits suicide; and the butterfly, reading an account of it in the following day's papers, has not even a tear to shed, no remorse, no regret.


He is called by his club friends 'a devil of a fellow with the girls,' and that is almost meant as a compliment. As for the women of the very best society, he is[Pg 15] thought rather enterprising and dangerous; but I have never heard that, for his conduct, he has ever been turned out of a respectable house or of a decent club.

There is one drawback to the perfect happiness of the butterfly: he is generally in love with a worthless woman, who makes a fool of him.

[Pg 16]



How many people understand what love means? How many appreciate it? How many ever realize what it is? For some it is a more or less sickly sentiment, for others merely violent desires.

Alas! it requires so many qualifications to appreciate love that very few people are sufficiently free from some vulgarity or other to be worthy of speaking of love without profanity.

Love requires too much constancy to suit the light-hearted, too much ardour to suit calm temperaments, too much reserve to suit violent constitutions, too much delicacy to suit people destitute of refinement, too much enthusiasm to suit cool hearts, too much diplomacy to suit the simple-minded, too much activity to suit indolent characters, too many desires to suit the wise.

See what love requires to be properly and thoroughly appreciated, and you will easily understand why it must be in woman's nature to love better and longer than man.

Men can worship better than women, but women can love better than men. Of this there can be no doubt.[Pg 17]

Very often women believe that they are loved when they are only ardently desired because they are beautiful, piquant, elegant, rich, difficult to obtain, and because men are violent, ambitious, wilful, and obstinate; and the more obstacles there are in their way, the more bent they feel on triumphing over difficulties.

To obtain a woman men will risk their lives, ruin themselves, commit any act of folly or extravagance which you care to name. Women are flattered by these follies and extravagances due to motives of very different characters; but they mistake passion for love.

Yet passion is very seldom compatible with true love. Passion is as fickle as love is constant. Passion is but a proof of vanity and selfishness.

Woman is only the pretext for the display of it. Singers, actresses, danseuses, all women detached from that shade and mystery in which love delights in dwelling, women who give to the public all the treasures of their beauty, amiability, and talent are those who inspire in men the most violent passions, but they are seldom truly loved unless they consent to retire from the glare of the footlights and withdraw to the shade.

Passion excites vanity, noise, envy: it plays to the gallery. Love seeks retirement, and prefers a moss bank against some wall covered with ivy, some solitude where silence is so perfect that two hearts can hear each other beat, where space is so small that lips must forcibly meet.

The man who takes his bride to Paris for the honeymoon[Pg 18] does not really love her. If he loves truly he will take her to the border of a forest in some secluded, picturesque spot, where nature will act as a church in which both will fervently worship.

Now, with very few exceptions, women understand these things much better than men. They are born with feelings of delicacy and refinement that only few men can acquire or develop; they are more earnest, more poetical, better diplomatists, and of temperaments generally more artistic.

Besides—and it is in this that they are infinitely superior to men—whereas many men see their love cooled by possession, all women see theirs increased and sealed by it.

The moment a woman is possessed by the man she loves, she belongs to him body, heart, and soul. Her love is the occupation of her life, her only thought, and, I may add without the slightest idea of irreverence, her religion.

She loves that man as she does God. If all men could only be sufficiently impressed with this fact, how kind and devoted to women they would be!

[Pg 19]



There are nations still in existence where women are denied the possession of a soul; but these nations are not civilized. Now, Germany and England are civilized nations, yet I am not sure that some Germans and Englishmen really admit that women are beings possessed of a mind.

I have constantly heard Englishmen of 'the good old school' say: 'If a man steals my horse, my dog, my poultry, I have him arrested, and he gets a few months' imprisonment; if he steals my wife, he remains at large, unmolested. Yet, is not my wife my most valuable property?' And that good Englishman is absolutely persuaded that his argument is unanswerable.

The other day, in a German paper, I read the following exquisitely delicious remark: 'We have a treaty of extradition with Switzerland. If the man Giron had stolen the least valuable horse of the Crown Prince of Saxony, we could have had him arrested in Geneva and returned to us; but as he only stole the wife of that prince, the mother of his children, we can do nothing.'

From all this we are bound to conclude that, in the[Pg 20] eyes of many Germans and some Englishmen, a woman is like a horse or any other animal, a thing, a 'brute of no understanding,' a being without a mind. In my ignorance I thought that when women left their husbands to follow other men, they were, rightly or wrongly, using their own minds, acting on their own responsibility and on their own good or bad judgment.

In other words, I thought that they were thinking beings.

When a man steals a horse, he takes him by the mane or the mouth and pulls him away with him. He does not say to the animal, 'I like you; I will treat you better than your master; will you come with me?' He steals him, as he would an inanimate thing.

When a man asks a woman to elope with him, he says to her: 'I love you, I know you love me; leave your husband, who makes you unhappy, and come with me, who will make you happy.' She reflects, and, through feelings of despair, of love, of passion, she yields, and answers, 'Yes, I will.'

Now, her resolution may be most reprehensible, her conduct immoral; she may be a fool, anything you like, but she is not carried off by force. She acts of her own accord and free will, and is, I imagine, prepared to meet the consequences of her actions.

I have heard an English magistrate say to a man whose wife was accused of disorderly conduct: 'You should look after your wife better than you do, and, in future, I will make you responsible for what she does.[Pg 21] To-day I will impose a fine of ten shillings. If you pay it, I will set her free.'

Now, this argument would be fairly good if the accused had been a dog. I should understand a magistrate saying to a man: 'Your dog is a nuisance and a source of danger to your neighbours; if he causes any more damage, if I hear again that he has killed your neighbour's cat, eaten his poultry, or bitten his children, I will hold you responsible, and make you pay the damages, plus some compensation.' But a wife!—inasmuch that, mind you, when a woman has committed a murder in England, it is she who is hanged, not her husband.

I believe that women are quite prepared to accept the responsibility of their actions. The emancipation of woman should be an accomplished fact by the declaration that she can do evil as well as good. And I am sure that if she wants credit for whatever good she does, she is also ready to accept the consequences of the mischief, to herself or to others, which she may make.

[Pg 22]



Love performs daily miracles. It causes people to see with closed eyes, and to see nothing with open ones.

Women worship sacrifice to the extent of wishing us to believe (perhaps they believe it themselves) that, even at the altar of love, they make a sacrifice. Women in love have an irresistible craving for sacrifice.

I have heard of women being so much in love as to declare to their husbands that they would not want a new hat for another month.

The world of love can boast a roll of demi-gods, heroes, martyrs, and saints that would put into the shade those of Paradise and Olympus.

Love, after being conquered, has to be reconquered every day. Love is like money invested in doubtful stock, which has to be watched at every moment.[Pg 23] Speculators know this; but married men and women too often ignore it.

In love the hand lies much less than the lips and the eyes. A certain pressing of the hand is often the most respectful and surest of proofs of love.

The language of the hand is most eloquent. Who has not been able to translate a pressure from a woman's hand by 'stay' or 'go'? How a woman can say to you with her hand 'I love you' or 'I cannot love you'!

Whoever says that two kisses can be perfectly alike does not know the A B C of love.

No two acts dictated, or even suggested, by love should ever be alike.

In love it is better to be a creditor than a debtor.

Think of the torrents of harmony which maestros have composed with seven notes; the millions of thoughts which have been expressed with a score of letters; think of all the exploits, deeds of valour, and crimes that have been committed under the influence of love!

Love is not compatible with conceit; the love of self[Pg 24] excludes all other. Even injury cannot cure love; if it does, there was in the person much more conceit than love.

When a man and a woman have pronounced together the three sacramental words 'I love you,' they become priest and priestess of the same temple. In order to keep the sacred fire alive, they must be careful not to stifle it by an excess of fuel or to let it go out for want of air.

When you are in love, do not be over-sensitive, but always imagine that the other is. Thus your susceptibility will never be wounded, nor will that of your partner be.

Woe to people in love who satisfy all their desires in a week, in a month, in a year! Two lovers, or married people, should die without having drunk the cup of love to the last dregs.

Absence is a tonic for love only when men and women love with all their heart and soul. When they do not, the ancient proverb is still true: 'Far from the eyes, far from the heart.'

A beautiful woman is jealous of no woman, not even[Pg 25] of a George Sand, a George Eliot, or of a queen; but a duchess may be jealous of a chambermaid.

All the love-letters of a woman are not worth one of her smiles.

If a woman wants to know the secret for remaining loved a long time, let her keep this recipe in mind: Give much, give more still, but be sure that you do not give all. Cupid is a little ungrateful beast, who takes his flight when expectations cease to whet his appetite.

For common mortals, desire engenders love, and love kills desire; for the elect, love is the son of desire and the prolific father of a thousand new desires.

To conquer a man is nothing for a woman to boast of, but to conquer a woman is a real victory, because it requires in a man, to conquer a woman, far more qualities than it requires in a woman to conquer a man.

There is a touching exchange of amiable services between the sexes. The man of twenty often receives his first lesson in love from a woman of forty; and the woman of twenty generally receives hers from a man of forty.

[Pg 26]

The following are among the little tortures which people in love take pleasure in inflicting upon themselves-:

'Amelia has been coughing twice to-day. I wonder if the poor darling is consumptive? An aunt of hers died of consumption. She was an aunt only by marriage, but when those confounded microbes enter a family, no one knows the mischief they may do!'

'George did not notice I had a carnation, his favourite flower, on my corsage the whole of last evening. He loves me no more.'

'Do I love Algy—do I adore him as he deserves? Am I worthy of him? Shall I be able to keep the love of a man so handsome, so kind, so clever? This morning he did not kiss me with the same ardour. Perhaps he has not courage enough to confess that he does not love me as much as he used to.'

'I am too happy. Something tells me it cannot last. I have a presentiment that a great misfortune is going to happen. Our love cannot possibly enjoy such bliss for long. I feel I am going to cry.'

And she bursts into hot tears.

'To-day Arthur met me at the appointed time to the minute. Formerly he used to be in advance—always. I told him so, and he said, showing me the time by his watch, that he was quite punctual. He ought to have been pleased with my remark, and have answered otherwise. I wonder if there is anything wrong?'[Pg 27]

'He never notices my dresses as he used to. Yesterday I changed the bow I had on, and he made no remark. I know all his cravats, every one of them. I also know when he has tied them before a glass, and when he has not. He does not love me as I love him.'

'I am quite happy when my hands are in his, but he is not satisfied with that; he always wants to kiss me. He loves me with his senses, not with his heart. They say all men are the same. I thought George was different from all of them!'

'I have always heard that love is the most sublime joy on earth. I love and I am loved; yet I want to cry, and I don't know why. Oh, why?'

'Why do I find that Angelina looks better in gray than in red? I ought to admire her in whatever colour she has on. Should I make such a remark if my love was intense? Was I a brute for making it before her? She has been sad ever since. But why does she wear red? Red does not suit a blonde. Red is for brunettes. Yet, can I tell her that? Of course, I cannot. I must not imagine that she does not know that herself, and besides, I should find her beautiful in anything. I am an ass, a silly ass!'

[Pg 28]



I once heard a Frenchman say, 'My wife could do without me, but I couldn't do without her;' but, as a rule, the Frenchman who has had the good fortune of marrying an intelligent wife becomes so dependent on her, so much under her influence, that no general rule should be drawn from the remark. When a man and wife have lived happily together, I find, from my personal observations, that when one has gone, it is generally the woman who can better do without the man than the reverse.

Of course, the question is very complex, and one which I would rather ask than answer. If sexes could do one without the other, and resolved to do it for fifty years, the world would put up its shutters. May not the question resolve itself into the following: Of old bachelors and old maids, which are the happier?

Even this question is not a fair one, because it must be admitted that society, which is very lenient over the peccadilloes of unmarried men, frowns unmercifully over those of unmarried women. Shall we then say, Of old bachelors and old maids, who have led monachal lives,[Pg 29] which have been the happier, and would be the more ready to decline matrimony if the opportunity were again offered to them? Now, can you answer the question more easily? Well, if you can, I can't, and if you have anything to say on the subject I shall be glad to hear it.

Personally, I think the question practically amounts to this: Which would you rather be, a man or a woman?

Now, this is a question which my readers will find difficulty in answering, and even in speaking about, with authority, as each of them has only had the experiences of one sex.

Before answering it, we must indeed talk it over with some very intimate and trustworthy friends of the other sex, and compare their sentiments and sensations with our own. We must recall to our minds all the observations which we have made on the lives of men and women whom we have known. Let us not follow the example of the woman who would be a man 'because men are free,' and the man who would be a woman 'because women are admired,' for the reason that all men are not free, and women are far from being all admired.

I have interviewed on the subject many men and many women, and I have found an enormous majority of women who would elect to be men, and only a very small minority of men who would elect to be women. Conclusion: most people would elect to be men.[Pg 30]

I am a man, and if I were to be born again and asked to make a choice, I would elect to be a man; but the reason may be that I possess many failings of which I am aware, and also a few qualities which the most imperfect of us must necessarily possess who are not absolute objects of perdition.

For let us say at once that sex suits character.

I love freedom and hate conventionalities; I am a man of action, and must always be up and doing. I do not believe that I am in any way tyrannical, yet I like to lead and have my own way. If the position of first fiddle is engaged, I decline to form part of the orchestra. Most of these characteristics are failings, perhaps even faults, but I possess them, and I cannot help possessing them, and they naturally induce me to prefer being a man.

I have made my confession, let my readers make theirs instead of taking me to task. I hate to feel protected, to be petted, but I would love to protect and pet a beloved one, whom I would think weaker than myself. I am a born fighter, and I don't care for smooth paths, unless I can make them smooth myself for my own use and also for the use of those who walk through life by my side.

But, leaving aside personal characteristics which would lead me to elect to be a man, there are many reasons which would cause me to make that choice quite independent of my character. Nature has given women beauty of face and figure, but there she stopped, and to[Pg 31] make her pay for that gift she has handicapped her in every possible way.

And when I consider that there are in this world more ugly women than beautiful ones, and that an ugly woman is the abomination of desolation, an anomaly, a freak, I altogether fail to see why ninety women out of a hundred should return thanks for being women. I have no hesitation in saying that the woman who is not beautiful has no raison d'être, and that only a few beautiful women are happy to be alive after they are forty.

Women have terrible grievances, many of which society and legislation (that is to say, in the second case, man) ought to redress. But the greatest grievances of women are, to my mind, against nature. These grievances cannot and will never be redressed.

In love woman has an unfair position. She gets old when a man of the same age remains young. In every race she is handicapped out of any chance of winning or even getting a dead heat. For these reasons especially I should elect to be a man.

Ah, what a pity we cannot decide our fate in every phase of life! in which case I would elect to be a beautiful woman from twenty to thirty, a brilliant officer from thirty to forty, a celebrated painter from forty to fifty, a famous poet or novelist from fifty to sixty, Prime Minister of England or President of the United States from sixty to seventy, and a Cardinal for the rest of my life.

[Pg 32]



When a woman says of her husband, 'He is a wretch!' she may still love him; probably she does. When she says, 'Oh, he is a good sort'—poor fellow!

After bravery and generosity, tact and discretion are the two qualities that women most admire in men; audacity comes next.

Speaking of his wife, a Duke says, 'The Duchess'; a man standing always on ceremony, 'Mrs. B.'; a gentleman, 'My wife'; an idiot, 'My better half'; a common man, 'The missus'; a working man, as a compliment, 'The old woman'; a French grocer, 'La patronne'; a French working man, 'La bourgeoise.' The sweet French word 'épouse' is only used now by Paris concierges.

Women are roses. I always suspected it from the thorns.

In the good old times of poetry and adventures,[Pg 33] when a man was refused a girl by her parents, he carried her off; now he asks for another. But, then, posting exists no longer except for letters, and there is no poetry in eloping in a railroad car. Oh, progress! oh, civilization! such is thy handicraft! Dull, prosaic times we are living in!

Woman is an angel who may become a devil, a sister of mercy who may change into a viper, a ladybird who may be transformed into a stinging-bee. Sometimes she never changes, and all her lifetime remains angel, sister of mercy, ladybird, and sweet fragrant flower. It depends a great deal on the gardener.

When a man is on the wrong path in life, it is seldom he does not meet a woman who says to him, 'Don't go that way'; but when it is a woman who has lost her way, she always meets a man who indicates to her the wrong path.

The Lord took from man a rib, with which He made a woman. As soon as this process was finished, woman went back to man, and took the rest of him, which she has kept ever since.

The heart is a hollow and fleshy muscle which causes the blood to set in motion. It appears that this is what we love with. Funny!

[Pg 34]

Circe was an enchantress who changed men into pigs. Why do I say was? I don't think that she is dead.

Women were not born to command, but they have enough inborn power to govern man who commands, and, as a rule, the best and happiest marriages are those where women have most authority, and where their advice is oftenest followed.

There are three ways for a man to get popular with women. The first is to love them, the second to sympathize with their inclinations, and the third to give them reasons that will raise them in their own estimation. In other words, love them, love what they love, or cause them to love themselves better. Love, always love.

A woman knows that a man is in love with her long before he does. A woman's intuition is keener than her sight; in fact, it is a sixth sense given to her by nature, and which is more powerful than the other five put together.

Very beautiful, as well as very good, women are seldom very clever or very witty; yet a beautiful woman who is good is the masterpiece of creation.

A woman will often more easily resist the love which[Pg 35] she feels for a man than the love which she inspires in him. It is in the most beautiful nature of woman to consider herself as a reward, but it is also, unfortunately for her, too often her misfortune.

We admire a foreigner who gets naturalized in our own country, and despise a compatriot who makes a foreigner of himself. If a man joins our religion, we call him converted; if one of ours goes over to another, we call him perverted. In the same way, we blame the inconstancy of a woman when she leaves us for another, and we find her charming when she leaves another to come to us.

The reputation that a woman should try to obtain and deserve is to be a sensible woman in her house and an amiable woman in society.

Frivolous love may satisfy a man and a woman for a time, but only true and earnest love can satisfy a husband and a wife. Only this kind of love will survive the thousand-and-one little drawbacks of matrimony.

Men and women can no more conceal the love they feel than they can feign the one which they feel not.

Love feeds on contrasts to such an extent that you[Pg 36] see dark men prefer blondes, poets marry cooks and laundresses, clever men marry fools, and giants marry dwarfs.

God has created beautiful women in order to force upon men the belief in His existence.

Like all the other fruits placed on earth for the delectation of men, the most beautiful women are not always the best and the most delicious.

In the heroic times of chivalry men drew their swords for the sake of women; in these modern prosaic ones they draw their cheques.

Women entertain but little respect for men who have blind confidence in their love and devotion; they much prefer those who feel that they have to constantly keep alive the first and deserve the second.

A woman can take the measure of a man in half the time it takes a man to have the least notion of a woman.

There are three kinds of men: those who will come across temptations and resist them, those who will avoid them for fear of succumbing, and those who seek them.[Pg 37] Among the first are to be found only men whose love for a woman is the first consideration of their lives.

Young girls should bear in mind that husbands are not creatures who are always making love, any more than soldiers are men who are always fighting.

A love affair will interest even a very old woman, just as the account of a race will always interest an old jockey. Habit, you see!

The friendship of women for women is very often less based on love, or even sympathy, than on little indiscreet confidences which they may have made to one another.

In order that love may be lasting, it must be closely allied with tried friendship. One cannot replace the other, but so long as both march abreast, living together, a man and a woman can find life delicious.

It is not matrimony that kills love, but the way in which many people live in the state of matrimony. It may be affirmed, however, that only intelligent diplomatists (alas! the select few!) can make love last long in matrimonial life.

Women who suggest to the mind notes of interrogation[Pg 38] are more interesting than those, too perfect, who only suggest notes of admiration.

Constant reproaches do not kill love so quickly and so surely as constant reminders of what one has done to deserve gratitude. Why? Simply because Cupid loves freedom, and lives on it. To ask for love as a debt of gratitude is like forcing it, and the failure is fatal.

Women are all actresses. What makes actresses so fascinating and attractive to men is that they are women twice over.

Woman is weak and man is strong—so we constantly hear, at any rate. Then why, in the name of common-sense, do we expect to find in women virtues that demand a strength of which we men are not capable?

There are women in the world who love with such ardour, such sincerity, and such devotion, that, after their death, they ought to be canonized.

Love is a divine law; duty is only a human—nay, only a social—one. That is why love will always triumph over duty; it is the greater of the two.

Lovers are very much like thieves; they proceed very much in the same way, and the same fate eventually[Pg 39] awaits them. First, they take superfluous precautions; then by degrees they neglect them, until they forget to take the necessary ones, and they are caught.

A man who has been married enters the kingdom of heaven ex-officio, having served his purgatory on earth; but if he has been married twice he is invariably refused admittance, as the Sojourn of the Seraphs is no place for lunatics.

As long as there is one woman left on the face of the earth, and one man left to observe her, the world will be able to hear something new about women.

A man may be as perfect as you like, he will never be but a rough diamond until he has been cut and polished by the delicate hand of a woman.

Middle-aged and elderly men are often embellished by characteristic lines engraven on their faces, but women are not jealous of them.

A woman who marries a second time runs two risks: she may regret that she lost her first husband, or that she did not always have the second one. But, in the first case, her second husband may regret her first one even more than she does, and tell her so, too.

[Pg 40]

Many men say that they marry to make an end; but they forget that if marriage is for them an end, it is a beginning for the women, and then, look out!

It is a great misfortune not to be loved by the one you love; but it is a still greater one to be loved by the one whom you have ceased to love.

Love is like most contagious diseases: the more afraid you are of it, the more likely you are to catch it.

Men and women have in common five senses; but women possess a sixth one, by far the keenest of all—intuition. For that matter, women do not even think, argue, and judge as safely as they feel.

Cupid and Hymen are brothers, but, considering the difference in their temperaments, they cannot be sons by the same wife.

The motto of Cupid is, 'All or nothing'; that of Hymen, 'All and nothing.'

Love is more indulgent than Friendship for acts of infidelity.

If men were all deaf, and women all blind, matrimony would stand a much better chance of success.

[Pg 41]



I sometimes wonder how some women dare go out when it is windy. Their hats are fixed to their hair by means of long pins; their hair is fixed to their heads by means of short ones, and sometimes it happens that their heads are fixed to their shoulders by the most delicate of contrivances. Yes, it is wonderful!

Fiction is full of Kings and Princes marrying shepherdesses and beggar-maids; but in reality it is only the Grand-Ducal House of Tuscany, which for nearly three hundred years has exhibited royal Princesses running away with dancing masters and French masters engaged at their husbands' courts.

A man in love is always interesting. What a pity it is that husbands cannot always be in love!

Men who always praise women do not know them[Pg 42] well; men who always speak ill of them do not know them at all.

What particularly flatters the vanity of women is to know that some men love them and dare not tell them so. However, they do not always insist on those men remaining silent for ever.

The saddest spectacle that the world can offer is that of a sweet, sensible, intelligent woman married to a conceited, tyrannical fool.

The mirror is the only friend who is allowed to know the secrets of a woman's imperfections.

When a woman is deeply in love, the capacity of her heart for charity is without limit. If all women were in love there would be no poverty on the face of the earth.

The fidelity of a man to the woman he loves is not a duty, but almost an act of selfishness. It is for his own sake still more than for hers that he should be faithful to her.

Two excellent kinds of wine mixed together may make a very bad drink. An excellent man and a very[Pg 43] good woman married together may make an abominable match.

Jealousy, discreet and delicate, is a proof of modesty which should be appreciated by the very woman who should resent violent jealousy.

When you constantly hear the talent or the wit of a woman praised, you may take it for granted that she is not beautiful. If she were, you would hear her beauty praised first of all.

It is slow poison that kills love most surely. Love will survive even infidelity rather than boredom or satiety.

Men study women, and form opinions, generally wrong ones. Women look at men, guess their character, and seldom make mistakes.

All the efforts that an old woman makes to hide her age only help to advertise it louder.

Of a man and a woman, it is the one who is loved, but who does not love, that is the unhappier of the two.

[Pg 44]

Women often see without looking; men often look without seeing.

I know handsome men who are bald, and there are not a few, but many, who derive distinction from this baldness. There are men—severe, stern types of men—who are not disfigured, but improved, by spectacles. Just imagine, if you can, the possibility of a bald woman with spectacles inspiring a tender passion! So much for the infallibility of the proverb, 'What's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander,' so often quoted by women when they are told that men can afford to do this or that, but not they. Lady women-righters, please answer.

In the tender relations between men and women, novelty is a wonderful attraction, and habit a powerful bond; but between the two there is a bottomless precipice into which love often falls, never to be heard of afterward. Happy those who know how to bridge over the chasm!

A woman never forgets, however old she may be, that she was once very beautiful. Why should she? The pity is that she very often forgets that she is so no longer. My pet aversion in society is the woman of sixty who succeeds in making herself look fifty, thinks she is forty, acts as if she were thirty, and dresses as if she were twenty.

[Pg 45]

I am not prepared to say that celibacy is preferable to marriage; it has, however, this decided advantage over it: a bachelor can always cease to be one the moment he has discovered that he has made a mistake.

Women are extremists in everything. Poets, painters and sculptors know this so well that they have always taken women as models for War, Pestilence, Death, Famine and Justice, Virtue, Glory, Victory, Pity, Charity. On the other hand, virtues and vices, blessings and calamities of a lesser degree are represented by men. Such are Work, Perseverance, Laziness, Avarice, etc.

It is not given to any man or woman to fall in love more than once with the same person. And although men and women may love several times in succession, they can only once love to the fulness of their hearts.

Love does to women what the sun does to flowers: it colours them, embellishes them, makes them look radiant and beautiful; but when it is too ardent it consumes and withers them.

There are two terribly embarrassing moments in the life of a man. The first is when he has to say 'all' to the woman he loves, and the second when all is said.

[Pg 46]

If a man is not to a certain extent ill at ease in the presence of a woman, you may be quite sure that he does not really love her.

A woman explains the beauty of a woman; a man feels it. A man does not always know why a woman is beautiful; a woman always does.

The sweetest music in the ears of a woman is the sound of the praises of the man whom she loves.

It is a mistake for a married couple to consider that marriage has made them one. To be attractive to each other they should each preserve their personality quite distinct. Marriage is very often dull because man and wife are one, and feel lonely. Most people get bored in their own company.

Happiness in matrimony is sober, serious, based on love, confidence, and friendship. Those who seek in it frivolity, pleasure, noise, and passion condemn themselves to penal servitude.

The great misfortune of mankind is that matrimony is the only vocation for which candidates have had no training; yet it is the one that requires the most careful preparation.

[Pg 47]

On the part of a husband, violent jealousy is an insult to his wife, but delicate, discreet jealousy is almost a compliment to her, for it proves his lack of self-confidence, and that sometimes he feels he is not good enough for her, not worthy of her.

Most women have the hearts of poets and the minds of diplomatists. What makes a wife so useful to an ambassador is that she adds her own power of intuition to the five senses already possessed by her husband.

Love in matrimony can live only on condition that man and wife remain interesting in each other's eyes. Devotion, fidelity, attention to duty, and all the troop of domestic virtues will not be sufficient to keep love alive.

Beauty is not the mother of Love. On the contrary, it is often love which engenders beauty, gives brilliancy to the eyes, gracefulness to the body, vibration to the voice. Love is the sun that hatches the flowers of the soul. The face which reflects all the inner sentiments of the heart betrays the love of its owner, and is beautiful.

Those who in good faith promise eternal love and those who believe in such promises are dupes—the former of their hearts, the latter of their vanity.[Pg 48] Wine well taken care of improves by keeping, but not for ever; it is destined to turn to vinegar sooner or later.

Love is a great healer. The worst characteristic traits of a man and of a woman have been known to be cured by it.

Men and women do not love before they are thirty, men especially. Until then it is little more than rehearsing. Fortunate are those who retain for the play the same company they had engaged for the rehearsal.

[Pg 49]



Naturalists make little difference between women and the other females of the animal kingdom: they declare that the mission of woman is to be a mother. Napoleon I., who was a naturalist, being asked to give a definition of the best woman, answered: 'The one who bears most children.' And as for him man was mere 'cannon flesh,' I am surprised he did not say, 'The one who bears most boys.'

Moralists are kinder to women; they go so far as to grant that woman's mission is twofold: that she is intended to be a wife and a mother; that she is to be the guardian of the hearth, submissive and devoted to man, her lord and master; to look after her household, and be absorbed by her duties toward her husband and children.

No sinecure, this mission of woman, as you see—no joke either; but moralists have no sense of humour—not a particle of it.

No doubt this double rôle of wife and mother is most respectable; it is even sacred; but woman's nature demands something else. To restrict her circle of[Pg 50] activity and influence to her family is to misappreciate her many faculties, her aspirations, her feelings, which, like those of men, are entitled to respect; it amounts to not recognising that her mission is not only familial, but social also.

I will not dwell on the part she is called upon to play in the family as wife and mother. We men all know it, whether we are husbands or sons; but we have also to consider what the rôle of woman is in that society of which she is the great civilizing element as well as the greatest ornament.

The most noble part that has been allotted to woman is that of the flower in the vegetable kingdom. This rôle consists in throwing a spell over the world, in making life more refined and poetical—in a word, in spreading fragrance around her and imparting it to all who come in contact with her. A wag once said that but for the women men could have hoped for Paradise. Good! But what about this world? Is not woman the direct or indirect motive for all our actions? Is she not the embodiment of the beautiful, and therefore the mother of Art?

If she is sometimes the cause of a crime, is she not always the cause of the most heroic deeds performed by man? Can we for a moment suppose society without her? Why, without her it would fall into a state of indolence and degradation, even of utter abjection. Would life be worth living without the sweet presence of kind, cheerful, and amiable women?[Pg 51]

Ah, my dear sir, make fun of woman in your club as much as you like; crack jokes at her expense to your heart's content; but acknowledge frankly that you are under her power—at least, I hope, under her influence—and that you could no more do without her than without the air which enables you to breathe.

Talk of woman's mission as wife and mother, as naturalists and moralists do, but let all of us artists cry at the top of our voices that woman's mission is to make life beautiful by the cultivation of her own beauty, beauty of body, mind, and heart.

It is the duty of woman to look as beautiful as she can; it is her imperious duty to charm the world by her sweetness and amiability. A woman who neglects this duty is guilty toward her fellow-creatures, even guilty toward her Maker, by not helping the destiny for which she was created. Countries are civilized in proportion to the influence that women have over men in them.

As long as gardens have flowers and the world has beautiful and amiable women, so long will life be worth living.

[Pg 52]



Many, many years ago a great council was held to discuss the question whether women had souls. I forget the conclusion which that learned assembly arrived at; but what is certain is that now most men do believe that women have souls, although a great number of them are still of opinion that woman is a being inferior to man.

They hold that man is the lord of creation, the masterpiece, the last word of the Almighty.

Now, is this really the case? First, God made the earth, then light, after which He created fishes, birds, and animals of all sorts. Then He said: 'I will now create a being far above all the other animals.'

He took some mud; mark well, I say, some mud, and made Adam. In His wisdom He thought that mud was not good enough to make woman out of, and for her creation he took matter which had already been purified by His Divine breath, and He took part of Adam, and out of it made Eve.

Now, surely, my dear fellow-men, you must own that either mud is better stuff than yourself, or you must[Pg 53] confess that woman has a nobler origin than you. You can't get out of it.

Please notice the order of creation: Fish, birds, animals, man and woman. If men do not admit that the Creator began by the least and finished with the best, they will have to conclude that lobsters, eels, crocodiles, sharks, owls, vultures, and mere sparrows are beings superior to them.

If men do not recognise the superiority of these animals over them, they will have to come to the conclusion that the work of creation is one of improvement every day.

But man will say, woman is not so strong as we are. True enough; but horses are stronger than men; elephants by trampling on them can make marmalade of them. Stags are swifter than men. Camels can carry a weight of 2,500 lb. on their backs. Birds can fly, and men are only trying machines to help them do it.

Is man more intelligent than woman? Certainly not. Who ate the apple? I know that Eve was the first to be disobedient, but she had an idea, at all events before Adam had one.

Had he even the power of resistance? No. Did he even try to shield woman after the offence was committed? No, he didn't, the coward. He turned against her and accused her of being the cause of the whole evil done. Poor beginning, a poor show, and a sad lesson by which men have profited, and to this day[Pg 54] they turn against the woman they have deceived, and often abandon her. Man is still true to his origin.

My dear sirs, the proof that God was satisfied that, in creating woman, He had said the last word of His Divine work, is that He entrusted her with the most noble of missions, that of bearing the future generations, of bringing children to the world, of guiding their first steps, of cultivating their minds and inculcating in them the love of what is good and right. In intending woman to be mother, God proclaimed the superiority of women over the rest of the creation.

[Pg 55]



I have constantly heard women complain, in Paris, in London, and in New York, that they can seldom go out in the street without being followed and annoyed by men, many of whom look like gentlemen.

And they express their complaint in tones of indignation not altogether free from a little air of self-satisfaction that seems to say: 'Of course a pretty woman like myself is bound to be noticed and stared at by men.'

Well, I hate to say anything unpleasant to women, but there is an illusion in which they too often indulge, and which I should like to dispel at once.

There are women beautiful as they can be, who can walk in every city perfectly unmolested and in perfect comfort and security, and who would be unable to tell you whether any man or woman had noticed them.

We men are not so bold as many women believe, nor are we so silly. We have instinct, and we know pretty well the woman who enjoys being noticed and looked[Pg 56] at, and even the one who seeks that enjoyment for purpose of self-satisfaction or vanity.

I am over fifty years old, and any girl of twenty, I guarantee, will make me feel as timid as she likes in her presence, not by words, but simply by her attitude of dignity and reserve.

And I believe that practically the same might be said of every man who is not an unmitigated scoundrel or blackguard.

In a word, I should like to prove that a woman, who is too often noticed and followed in the street, should be offended by it, and have enough conscience of her value to mention it as little as possible; she should also exercise more control over herself and pay great attention to the way she dresses, looks and walks when out in the street.

For if she is constantly followed, take it for granted that there is in her appearance something, just a little something, that gives a wrong impression of her.

Let women have simplicity in their toilette, dignity in their manner, a severe gracefulness in their general attitude, and I guarantee you that no man—I mean no fairly well-bred man—will ever turn round to look at them.

Women should not call it success. They should feel humiliated to see that some gloriously beautiful women do not obtain it. They should take advice and seek a remedy with the earnestness of that cashier who, returning home, could not even take notice of his wife[Pg 57] and children, much less kiss them, until he had discovered the cause of an error of a penny in his accounts amounting to several thousands of pounds.

When a woman tells me that she cannot go out without men looking and smiling at her, I have always a mind to say to her: 'Perhaps you wink at them.'

[Pg 58]




Among the men who are the most dangerous for women must be reckoned those whose advances of love generally prove unsuccessful. Women have no idea of the harm that may be done to them by those parasites of their homes.

A woman, young, amiable, and cheerful, welcomes such men in her house without entertaining any suspicion. She invites them to her receptions, her dinner-parties; she often finds them pleasant, witty, and then they venture a few flattering compliments. She at first accepts them as the current coin of society, and pays no attention to them.

As she is amiable to her guests, she is not on her guard, and she treats them to the same smiles, which these fops of the purest water often imagine are gracious smiles conferred on them only. Thus encouraged, they go further, and venture compliments bordering on declarations of love, or, at any rate, on expressions of deep admiration. The young woman, used to compliments,[Pg 59] takes no notice of our heroes, or pretends to have understood nothing.

Her silence is then taken for a tacit acceptance, and the fops, emboldened, make an open declaration of love. Now, a regular flirt or coquette knows how to encourage or discourage a man with one glance, but a perfectly good woman is taken unaware; she feels embarrassed, and, thus apparently encouraged, these men get bolder and bolder, until the young woman has to show them the door.

Then her troubles begin. These parasites will go to their clubs, and, even in drawing-rooms, say that she is a heartless coquette who encourages men to make love to her just to amuse herself. They abuse her, watch her, and, if one day she should compromise herself in the least, woe to her if the secret should fall into such men's hands! There is no revenge of which they are not capable. A case of this sort was, not long ago, investigated thoroughly, and it turned out that an anonymous letter had been written to the husband of a most charming society woman by a cur whom she had to turn out of her house for offering her a worthless love.

[Pg 60]



There is to be met in society a man who is particularly provoking and supremely objectionable and offensive. He is about forty, very gentlemanly, self-possessed, irreproachably dressed, well informed, interesting talker, with a somewhat patronizing air, and an eternal smile of self-satisfaction on his face.

This man has compromised more women than many a 'devil of a fellow.' If you say before him, 'Mrs. X. is very beautiful, isn't she?' he says nothing, but smiles complacently. So you look at him and add:

'Oh, you know her, then?' He smiles again. 'You don't say so!' you remark. 'I should have thought her a woman above the breath of suspicion.'

He smiles still. You become persuaded that he is, or has been, on the most intimate terms with the lady in question.

Mention before him the name of any woman you like to choose, and if the woman is in the least fashionable, or renowned for her beauty or position, he smiles.

If at a ball he asks a lady to give him the pleasure of her partnership for a waltz or a polka, he leans close[Pg 61] toward her, smiling at her in such a strange way that people believe he is telling her words of love, or, worse, that he is granted permission to do so.

If he calls on a lady on her reception day, he has a way to salute her, to kiss her hand, to look at her in a patronizing way that seems to say to the other callers:

'See how ceremonious I am with her before other people, and what a good comedian I am!'

And he smiles, smiles, and smiles.

Women are ill at ease in his presence. They hate him, but as he is content with smiling, and goes no further, what are they to do? They avoid him when they can, his smiles are so compromising.

And they are right. His smiles are more compromising than bonâ fide slander and calumny.

The men hate him, too, but they feel as powerless as the women do. They would like to slap his face, but you cannot say to a man:

'I slap your face because I saw you smile on hearing my wife's name.'

No, that would be too absurd. He knows it, and that is why he goes on smiling. He is safe.

When he hears a bit of gossip on a woman, he immediately takes her defence, but in such a weak manner, and with such a smile on his face all the time, that people immediately come to the conclusion that 'it must be all true.'

What is most provoking is that the man has not a[Pg 62] bad reputation. He has never been openly mixed in any intrigue, and even his intimate friends have never heard of any love affair connecting him with any woman. For some people he is an enigma, for others a clever comedian, a maniac, a bore, or a fop.

For men who justly hold that women should be treated with such respect that no act of man should cause anyone to even breathe a light remark on their character, the man who smiles is a cur.

[Pg 63]



The love of little girls for their dolls is a very serious love; it absolutely amounts to maternal tenderness. I have watched little girls nurse their dolls, and detected in their eyes that almost divine glance that you can see in devoted mothers tending their little children. For that matter a little girl is only a woman in miniature. A young boy has none, or very few, of the characteristics of a man; but a young girl has, at ten years of age, all the characteristics of a woman.

I have known little girls of ten and twelve who were perfect flirts, little coquettes, careful housekeepers, and, toward their dolls, most devoted mothers. I remember one who sternly refused to accompany us to a most tempting party, because her doll had a cold and she felt she must stay at home to nurse it. She was absolutely serious over it, and found even great delight in remaining at home all the time by the bedside of her doll. I remember another who had spent the whole morning cleaning her doll's house from top to bottom. When it was all over she drew a great sigh of relief. 'At last,' she said, 'the house is clean; that's comfort,[Pg 64] anyway.' A good, dutiful, bourgeois housewife would not have expressed herself otherwise. Have you not, some of you, even seen little girls give medicines to their dolls, rock them to sleep, put them to bed, tuck them in most carefully, and see that the bedclothes did not choke them and cause them to have nightmares? I have, many times.

A man very often shows inclinations, tastes, and all sorts of characteristic traits which his parents never discovered in him when he was a young boy; but a woman of thirty is what she was when she was ten, only a little more so. A bad boy may become a very good man, and I have known very good boys become very bad men; but a caressing, loving little girl will surely make a loving wife and a tender mother; a cold and uncaressing little girl will become a heartless woman, an indifferent wife and mother. A boy is a boy! a little girl is a little woman.

This is so true that women, many women at all events, who treated their dolls as if they were children, treat their children as if they were dolls. It is the survival of the little girl in the woman. I have known women allow the hair of their boys to fall down their backs in long curls because they looked prettier and more like dolls, although they must have known that the sap of their young bodies was feeding hair at the expense of other far more important parts of their anatomy. When you see a woman most attentive to her baby, insisting on washing it, dressing it herself, you say: 'She[Pg 65] is a most dutiful mother; she would trust no one but herself to attend her little child.' But it is not only the satisfaction of a duty performed that makes that woman look so happy, it is also the pleasure she derives from it. And the odds are ten to one that this very woman will play at doll with her child a great deal too long, and that the day on which she will be compelled to allow the child to have some liberty and become independent of her, she will resent it.

There is not, I believe, a single elderly woman that does not prefer the child of her daughter to her daughter herself, who has become now an unmanageable doll who dresses and undresses without the help of anybody. And if this daughter does not allow her mother to do with the grandchild just as she likes, there will be trouble, caused by jealousy. There will be two women now to play at dolls. Why does a grandmother indulge a young child, give it sweets and candies? Is it to give that child a good digestion? No; it is to play at dolls. Do they dress little girls like the 'principal boys' of pantomimes in the palace scene, in order to make them acquire modest tastes and sensible notions? No; it is to play at dolls.

Woman plays at dolls to the end of her life, with her toys, with her children, with her grandchildren, and with herself.

I have never heard women have a good word to say of daughters-in-law who had not given children to their sons. Poor, dear old ladies! They certainly were under[Pg 66] the impression that their sons had only one object in view when they contemplated matrimony, that of presenting 'Grannie' with dolls to play with. I quite understand that grandmothers should be admired, that children should bless them, and even advise other children to 'get some,' when they have not got any, but I do not think that grandmothers should be held up to the world as models, because more than nine times out of ten they spoil children, and derive pleasure not from duties performed to the child, but from the satisfaction of playing at dolls. I have very often met sensible mothers, but grandmothers seldom; they generally are incorrigible sinners—and proud of it, too.

Alphonse Karr, in his 'Reminiscences,' relates how he used to meet in society a young and charming woman who always behaved towards him in a very cool manner. Unable to understand the reason, he one day took a chair by her side, made himself particularly pleasant, and point-blank asked her why she did not seem pleased to meet him, and inquired whether he might have unconsciously done anything to cause her displeasure. For a long time she defended herself, assuring him that her coldness towards him was only in his imagination; but, as he insisted, she at last said to him: 'Well, I will tell you. It was thirty-five years ago. One afternoon you called on us, and I was in the drawing-room. Being invited to take a seat by my mother, you chose an arm-chair on which my doll was asleep. You removed it, and quite unceremoniously laid it on a[Pg 67] table, head downwards, at the risk of hurting it. In fact, you damaged its nose. I conceived for you a perfect hatred, and, upon my word, I do not think that I am now capable of forgiving you altogether.'

Moral.—If you want to get into the good graces of a woman, praise her baby; if you want a little girl to love you, admire her dolls and treat them with respect.

[Pg 68]



There are in the world men who are devotion and self-abnegation personified; there are women who are the embodiment of selfishness. From this we cannot lay down a rule any more than we could if, in landing in New York, we saw a red-haired woman, and said at once:

'The Americans are a red-haired people.'

But as, during my life, I have known more men who are selfish than unselfish, and more women who are unselfish than selfish, I am prepared to conclude that man is more selfish than woman.

I have known men of small income (and in their way good men they were) belong to two or three clubs, dine at expensive restaurants, and smoke excellent cigars all day long.

Their daughters had to give lessons in order to obtain the money that was necessary for dressing decently, and the house had to be kept on most economical lines.

I have known others, not worse than those I have[Pg 69] just mentioned, allow nothing but water on their family table, and take champagne for dinner at the club or the restaurant.

I could divide selfish men into two classes: the man with good redeeming features, and the execrably selfish man.

The former is good-hearted and fairly sensitive. He hates nobody, because hatred disturbs sleep and rest. He avoids emotions for his own comfort; he is learnedly selfish.

If you are unhappy, in distressed circumstances, don't bother him about it. He is sorry, he cannot help it, and he would rather not hear of it.

If you are ill, do not expect a visit from him; the sight of pain or grief affects him. If you are in want, he may send you a £5 note, but he does not want to see you. He seeks the company of cheerful and happy people only.

He has an income of £6,000 a year, and will tell you that nobody dies of starvation except in novels.

He turns his head from wretches shivering with cold in the street, and is of opinion that a good Government should suppress paupers and all sorts of people who disturb the peace and happiness of the rich. His friends call him 'a good fellow.'

The other type is execrable. The miseries of other people increase his happiness. When he sees a starving-looking man or a sick one, he returns thanks that he is rich and healthy.[Pg 70]

He does not avoid the unfortunate: he almost seeks them. The more horrible tales you tell him of poverty, sorrows, disease, wretchedness, the happier he is to feel that he runs no danger of ever encountering such calamities.

Well wrapped up in furs in a good carriage, the sight of a beggar, benumbed with cold, sitting on the stone steps of an empty house, doubles his comfort. He finds his carriage better suspended, and his furs warmer.

He almost believes that the abject poor were invented to make him appreciate his good fortune better. He is not unlike those fanatics of a certain school who believe that the greatest bliss reserved for the elect in heaven is to see their less fortunate brethren burn in hell. As I have said, this type of selfish man is execrable.

[Pg 71]




Since the escapade of the Royal Princess of Saxony with the French tutor Giron, many have asked me, 'Do you approve or forgive her? Do you not think that a woman who can no longer endure life with a sullen and unsympathetic husband has a right to break away from the social conventionalities of life and go her own way in search of happiness?'

The question is not easy to answer. There may be, or there may not be, extenuating circumstances in the conduct of a woman who deserts her husband, or a man who leaves his wife.

First of all, let me say that I place the consideration of duty far higher than that of personal happiness. Therefore, a man or a woman who abandons a home where there are children of a tender age, children who require the protection of a father and the affection of a mother, which no one can replace, is a coward that should be placed under the ban of society.

I don't care how much a woman may fall in love[Pg 72] with a man, or a man with a woman, the duty of either is to remain by the side of their children, to watch over their education, and to see them launched in life. If they shirk this duty, there is no excuse, no atonement for their conduct, which closely borders on crime.

When there are no children, I admit that there may be circumstances in which I would forgive a man or a woman who leaves a home in which life has become unendurable, in order to seek happiness in the company of a partner who has given proof of love, devotion, and disinterestedness. I might also be prepared to forgive if the children were grown up and able to support themselves.

On no account, however, could I approve, or even forgive, a man who leaves a wife with whom life may have become as intolerable as you like without duly providing for her comfort, even if by so doing he should have nothing left for himself, and be obliged to start life afresh.

I do not admit that anyone, man or woman, has a right to shirk responsibilities imposed by solemn promises. Let them set this right first of all. After that, let them solve the problem of happiness as best they can.

No doubt there are drawbacks in holding royal honours, but I believe in the old motto, Noblesse oblige; and if noblesse does, surely royalty should. Royalty nowadays is not of much use, except when it[Pg 73] gives to the people over which it rules the example of all virtues, of all domestic virtues especially.

When people are born in the purple, they are born with responsibilities. If they fling them to the four winds of the earth, there is no use for royalty: the reason for its existence has ceased to exist.

[Pg 74]



Every year in Paris, in springtime, we see the American women reappear with the regularity of the swallow. We expect them, we watch for their arrival, and we are delighted when we hear them say, with their singing voices, that they have come for our season, which begins in April and goes on till 'The Grand Prix' is run during the second week of June.

The American woman is not only received, but eagerly sought in our most aristocratic society. Her amiability and brilliancy have forced open the doors of our most exclusive mansions. She affords so much pleasure that she is indispensable. We are dull without her, because she is not only beautiful and a feast for the eyes, but she is bright, brilliant, witty, unconventional, and a feast for the mind. It is thanks to all these qualities, far more than to her dollars, that the American woman is to-day part and parcel of what is called 'Tout Paris.' And, indeed, there is no woman in the world so attractive as the fair daughter of Uncle Sam. Her physical, moral, and intellectual charms[Pg 75] make her the most interesting woman one may wish to meet.

The English woman is very often beautiful. Her freshness is exquisite, her figure excellent when she knows how to enhance its beauty by well-made garments. She is, perhaps, beyond competition when she is really beautiful, but her beauty is too often statuesque, and lacks lustre and piquancy. The French woman is supple and graceful, but she is more fascinating by her manner, by her chic, than by the beauty of her complexion, the regularity of her features, and the proportions of her figure. The German is often fine, but generally heavy, compact, and lacking elegance.

The American woman is an altogether. She has the piquancy, the fascinating manner, the elegance, the grace, and the gait of the Parisienne; but, besides, she often possesses the eyes of a Spaniard, the proud figure of a Roman, and the delicate features of an English woman. If, during the Paris season, you walk in the Champs-Elysées district, where all the best Americans are settled, you will admire those women looking radiant with intelligence, cheerful, independent, who, you can see, have the consciousness of their value.

The education which she has received has developed all her faculties. The liberty she always enjoyed, the constant attentions she has received from father, brother, husband, and all her male friends, have made her feel safe everywhere, and she goes about freely, with a firm step that stamps her American. Thanks[Pg 76] to her finesse, her power of observation, her native adaptability, she can fit herself for every station of life. If one day she finds herself mistress of the White House or Vice-Queen of India, she immediately feels at home. She may be ever so learned, she is never a pedant. She is, and remains, a woman in whose company a man feels at once at his ease; a sort of fascinating good fellow, with all the best attributes of womanhood; a little of a coquette, with a suspicion of a touch of blue-stocking—but so little. She loves dresses, and none puts them on better than she does. English women, even the most elegant ones at home, seldom favour us, when they visit us, but with all the worst frumps and frippery they can find in their wardrobe. The American women are considerate enough to try and do their best for us, and we appreciate the compliment. And thus they brighten our theatres, our promenades, our balls and dinner-parties, our fashionable restaurants, and Paris, which loves them, could not now do without them.

[Pg 77]



A few weeks ago I was watching the church parade in Hyde Park, London, between the statue of Achilles and Stanhope Gate, when I met an American lady of my acquaintance. We walked together for awhile, and then sat down in order to watch the fashionable crowd more closely.

It is said that, although Americans and Englishmen think a great deal of one another nowadays, you seldom hear American women praise the women of England, and more seldom still hear English women say a good word of American women.

So I was tickled to know what my American lady friend thought of the crowd that was performing before us, and I asked her to give me her impressions.

'Well,' she said, 'it is as good as, if not better than, anything that New York could produce. Possibly on some special occasion Fifth Avenue might turn out a few lovelier dresses, but the London average is above the New York average. You see fewer absolute failures here among the women, while the men are quite[Pg 78] unapproachable—surely Londoners are the best-dressed men in the world.'

'And the New Yorkers the most brand-newly dressed men,' I interrupted. 'But you are right. I like to think that a coat has been worn just more than once. But please go on.'

'The days when the London girl was really badly dressed are dead and gone. We have educated her, we Americans, until she has all but reached our standard. Just think what the London shops were fifteen and even ten years ago! Something awful! But now I can buy in them everything I want just as easily as though I were in Paris or New York.

'I don't know whether the supply of pretty dresses and dainty et ceteras made the demand, or whether it was the other way about, but, at any rate, there has been a change within the last decade that is almost a revolution. The London woman of to-day dresses quite as well as her sister across the Channel or the Atlantic.'

I was getting sadly disappointed, for my lady friend is a critic and a wit, and I was expecting a few amusing remarks on English women. So I ventured:

'So you think that now English women can obtain in London dresses just as pretty as women can in Paris and New York?

'Certainly,' she replied. 'Yet they never look so well, because, you see, when they get these pretty dresses, these poor English women don't know how to put them on. The English girl's education is not yet[Pg 79] completed. She has not learned how to carry herself as we have in America, both at home and at school. You know the splendid air and prima donna effects that American women can bring off when they choose. These young English women have hardly a suspicion of them.

'In taste for the delicate things of dress the Londoner is now just about where she should be; but she has not yet learned how to wear a dress. A French woman or an American would make fifty per cent, more of it than the English woman knows how to do; and if this is to be remedied, English girls will first have to be taught how to walk and how to hold themselves.'

And no doubt my American friend had hit on the national defect of English women—their bad way of walking and holding themselves.

One's thoughts naturally fly to Spain, where every member of the feminine sex, from the little girl of four to the old woman, who in England would be bent and tottering, knows how to carry herself as if she were a queen.

If it is true that this result is achieved by the Spanish custom of carrying everything on the head instead of on the back or in the hand, it is a pity the English do not make their girls begin at once to carry their school-satchels in a way that will make them hold their heads up instead of down, and accentuate gracefully their lines both behind and in front.

When I was in South Africa I invariably admired the[Pg 80] manner in which the Kaffir and Zulu women walked and held themselves. On watching them I often exclaimed: 'If English women could only walk and carry themselves as these women do, with their pretty faces and figures, with their beautiful skin and complexion, they would have few rivals in the world.'

It is by walking barefooted and carrying everything on their heads that the women of Kaffirland and Zululand learn to walk so well, to hold their heads up, to bring their chests forward, to throw back their shoulders, and give to their gait that gentle swing which is so dainty and graceful.

American women obtain the same result by being drilled at school, for it is incontestable, and, I believe, incontested, that they are the best walking women, and also those who, with the Parisiennes, know best how to put on their dresses.

[Pg 81]



Heller, who has collected the greatest number of instances of extreme long life, found 1,000 persons who lived from 100 to 110, 60 from 110 to 120, 30 from 120 to 130, 15 from 130 to 140, 6 from 140 to 150, and one who lived to be 169 years of age.

French writes that from 1881 to 1890, in Massachusetts, there were 203 deaths of persons past the age of 100. Of these 153 were women and 50 were men. Let us add that the parts of the world which have supplied, in proportion to their population, the greatest number of centenarians, are New England, Scotland, and Brittany.

All these centenarians, without exception, have been found among the humbler classes, and most of them among peasants—that is to say, among the workers of the community who lead quiet, regular, and busy lives.

It is worthy of note that just those very principles which were laid down by the Founder of the Christian religion as best for the eternal welfare of the soul have been proved by the passing years to be best for the body also.[Pg 82]

It is not those who are clad in purple and fine linen and fare sumptuously every day who are strong enough to climb to the clear heights of a great age. Neither titles nor wealth keep the feet from wearying of the uphill path of life.

They who would have their days long in the land must honour their great mother, Nature. They must walk in her ways. Nature does not rejoice in sluggards, therefore they must work, and the more steadily they work the longer they live.

Men of thought have always been distinguished for their age. Solon, Sophocles, Pindar, Anacreon, and Xenophon were octogenarians. Kant, Buffon, Goethe, Fontenelle, and Newton were over eighty. Michael Angelo and Titian were eighty-nine and ninety-nine respectively. Harvey, the discoverer of the circulation of the blood, lived to be eighty.

Victor Hugo was over eighty. Gladstone, who worked every minute of his life, always in search of new subjects to master, and who took his recreation in bodily work—gardening, cutting down his trees—died at eighty-eight.

Sidney Cooper, the English animal painter, whose work of last year will be exhibited at the Royal Academy, London, this year, died at ninety-nine, practically with his brushes in his hands.

The preponderance of females over males in the matter of long life is a striking fact. It is also constant. All authorities agree in this, that more women than men[Pg 83] live to be very old. The more fragile pitcher is not so soon broken at the fountain. Why?

One would hardly expect woman, with all the dangers and sufferings attending motherhood, to last longer than man. Yet undoubtedly she does.

I know in Brittany a peasant woman who is now ninety-seven. She does her sewing without spectacles; she walks a couple of miles every day; goes to bed at eight, rises at six in the winter and at five in the summer.

She eats and sleeps well, and is in the enjoyment of perfect health. She had seventeen children. The healthiest trees are those which bear fruit every year.

The reason for woman's longevity is not far to seek. Women lead more careful, regular, and sheltered lives than men. It is the man who has to fight daily with the world, and how hard and trying the fight often is none but the fighter himself can tell.

He succumbs to more temptations than woman, because more come his way. It is the man who is often called upon to undermine his bodily vigour by earning his bread at unhealthy occupations. It is he who goes down the mines, to sea, and to the battlefield.

[Pg 84]



Nothing is more difficult to define than beauty. It is not something absolute, like truth; it differs according to times, countries, races, and individual tastes. Greek beauty is not Parisian beauty, English beauty is pretty well the opposite of Italian beauty.

A European beauty might strike a Chinaman as very ugly, and a Chinese beauty would find no admirer in Europe, except, perhaps, among blasé people with the most fastidious tastes and ever in search of novelty.

The Buddha of the Hindoos has nothing in common with the Jupiter of the Greeks. Ancient art differs entirely from modern art.

In Antiquity, beauty consists in the harmony of the proportions, the purity of the lines, the nobility of form and attitude, the sobriety of the figure, and the coldness of the expression. In modern times, beauty consists in gracefulness, piquancy, intelligence, sentiment, vivacity, and exuberance of form.

But there are two kinds of beauty in women: that which is natural to them, and that which they can acquire by carefully studying what suits them best to[Pg 85] wear, and how they can use to advantage their style of face and figure.

I have seen women absolutely transformed by the hands of a skilful dressmaker or a clever hairdresser.

The natural beauty is that happy ensemble of lines and expression which attract and charm the eyes. It is not at all indispensable that this ensemble should be harmonious. On the contrary, contrasts are often less cold and monotonous than perfect harmony, and the statuesque beauty generally leaves us unmoved.

The woman who looks amiable and cheerful is naturally beautiful—far more so than a woman with irreproachable sculptural outlines and features so regular that she makes you wish she had some redeeming defect or other. Perfection was attractive in ancient Greece; it is not now.

Perfection seldom looks amiable and bright, and modern beauty must look intelligent—brilliant even. Ancient Greece would not have looked at a turned-up nose; but such a nose denotes gaiety, wit, spirit of repartee, and we like it.

I hope I shall not offend that most talented of French actresses, Madame Rejane, or her admirers, by saying that Athens would have refused to look at her; but the Parisians, the descendants and successors of the Attic Greeks, love her, with her big mouth, square when it laughs, and her turned-up nose. To them she is the embodiment of liveliness, wit, and gaiety.

A small, piquante brunette, with small, keen eyes,[Pg 86] thick lips, thin, alert; a blonde dishevelled, like a spaniel, with glorious form, will excite admiration—both are beautiful.

But the other beauty, the one that can be obtained of art, is at the disposal of every woman. In fact, the woman who knows how to put on her dress and do her hair well, who has on a becoming hat, pretty shoes, and neat gloves, who has good taste in furniture, who speaks pleasantly, smiles cheerfully and good-naturedly, who has elegance of manners and a pretty voice, who has a bright conversation—that woman will be declared pretty, even beautiful, far more readily and unanimously than the real beauty, one who fails to pay attention to her dress and manners, who has no consciousness of her power and her value, and who constantly forgets that good surroundings are to her what a handsome frame is to a picture.

Practically every woman can obtain this result, and that is why I have entitled this chapter 'Women may All be Beautiful.'

[Pg 87]



Of all the pitiful sights, of all the pathetic figures in the world, there is none to compare to women at sea.

Is it possible that these dejected, abject-looking bundles of misery only yesterday were the bright, proud, elegant, queenly fashion-plates whom I saw on Fifth Avenue? Quantum mutatæ ab illis! What a metamorphosis!

Poor things! Even the most terrible home ruler is satisfied with the lower berth, and gives her husband a chance to look down upon her. She is meek and grateful, she is submissive, and her imploring eyes beg the most hen-pecked husband not to take advantage of his temporary superiority.

She arrived on board flamboyant, with her most bewitching finery on, or a most becoming yachting-suit. She meant to 'fetch' all the men on deck. She went radiant to the saloon and examined the lovely flowers which had been sent to wish her bon voyage. Bon voyage! What irony!

These flowers are the very emblem of all that is[Pg 88] going to happen to her—bright, fresh, and erect as the boat starts; wet, withered, drooping, and dripping, with no life left, twenty-four hours later.

She is present at the first meal, and declares to her neighbours that things at sea are not so bad as some people pretend, and the Atlantic is too often libelled. Besides, she is used to travelling, and she knows a remedy for sea-sickness.

Before sailing she doctored herself. She took an infallible drug—a rather unpleasant one, it is true; but what is that compared to the benefit derived from it? Yes, an infallible remedy—at any rate, one that succeeds nine times out of ten. Alas! this time is going to be the tenth.

You get outside the harbour, and leave Sandy Hook behind you. She has taken soup and fish. Somehow she now feels she has had enough. Her appetite is satisfied, and she goes on deck. When you see her again, she is lying on an easy-chair, packed as carefully and tightly as a valuable clock that is to be sent to the Antipodes.

There she now lies, motionless, speechless, helpless, and hopeless, wondering if the infallible remedy is going to fail. The yachting-cap is no longer roguish and cocky, but hanging over her eyes, or her beautiful hat is replaced by a tam-o'-shanter. The damp air has already taken away all her curls, and her hair, straight as drum-sticks, is hanging in front and behind, and, worse than all, she doesn't care. Provided you don't[Pg 89] speak to her, don't shake her, and don't ask her to move, she doesn't care.

The boat is heaving. All the different parts of her anatomy go up with the boat, but they all come down again one by one, and she has to gather them together. She is at sea with a vengeance! Her husband is all right, the brute! so is pretty Miss So-and-So, who is chatting with him, the cat!

Their smiles and insulting pictures of health are more than she can bear. She is a good Christian, but if only that girl could be sick, too! What business has she to be well?

Of course, her husband has packed her up, tucked her in most carefully, and placed grapes and iced soda-water within her reach. He has done his duty, and now he makes himself scarce. Maybe he is flirting on the weather side, maybe he is in the smoke-room having a game of piquet or poker.

Anyway, he is all right, having a good time. Why isn't he sick, too?

For six or seven days, that bright American woman, who runs household, husband, children, and servants with one glance of the eye, is at the mercy of everyone who belongs to her, suffering agonies, tortures of body and mind, and you would imagine that a boat sees her on the Atlantic for the last time.

You would think that all the beauties of American scenery, its seashores, lakes, and mountains, will attract her next season. Not a bit of it. In order to be[Pg 90] seen at the dreary funereal functions of Mayfair and Belgravia, she will cross again. She goes where duty calls her. She has to be 'in it' first, in the hope of soon being 'of it.'

And, in order to secure her social standing on a sure basis, twice a year she will pack her belongings and suffer death agonies. The pluck and power of endurance of women is perfectly prodigious.

[Pg 91]



The secret of a woman's beauty is not to be discovered in her dressing-room, as cynics might intimate; it is not obtained by the use of cosmetics, pomade, magic waters, and ointments; by the application of red, white, and black, neither by painting nor dyeing; the real secret of woman's beauty lies in resplendent health and a cheerful mind.

It was only a few days ago that I said to a lady, an intimate friend of mine, who has just been promoted to the dignity of a grandmother: 'Won't you make up your mind one of these days to look over thirty years of age?' My lady friend is very beautiful, and she knows it; but she carries her beauty without any affectation and bumptiousness.

She is simplicity personified, and if you were to talk to her about her looks she would smile, and immediately beg you to kindly change the subject of conversation. But we are old friends, and when I asked her to tell me what she did, that I might tell others how she succeeded in remaining young, fresh, and beautiful, she allowed me to insist.[Pg 92]

'Well,' she said, 'let me tell you at once that I do not spend fifty shillings a year in perfumery. I have always retired and risen early; I have always done as much good as I have been permitted to do; I have always frequented cheerful and happy people, read cheerful books, and seen cheerful plays; I have always taken healthy exercise and indulged in plenty of fresh air by day and night.

'But I should add: I have had the good luck of being born with a cheerful disposition, and of being brought up by cheerful and happy parents. I have always dearly enjoyed humour, and have always been able to appreciate it. I am a philosopher.

'You say that I look thirty—well, I am forty-five; but if my body is young, my mind is younger still, and I am perfectly sure that, when I am a great-grandmother, I shall enjoy playing with a doll as much as any of my little great-grand-daughters.'

And she went on giving me advice in minute details. Here are a few hints which my lady readers might hear with profit:

Hint No. 1

Never expose your shoulders and arms to cold. When you leave a hot room to go out in the open air, cover them most carefully so as to create on your body an increase of temperature exactly equal to the difference there exists between the indoor temperature you leave and the outdoor one.

[Pg 93]

Hint No. 2

Avoid beds too soft and too much bed-clothing, which cause nightmares, develop nervous irritation, and conduce to stoutness. Never have round your beds curtains, except as an ornament, if you like, at the head; but draw them in such a way that fresh air can circulate freely round your head. Renew the air of your bedroom several times a day, and during the night, however cold it may be, have one window slightly open, even if you should be compelled to keep a fire all night.

Hint No. 3

Your bedroom should never be at a temperature above sixty-five degrees.

Hint No. 4

A woman enjoying good health should sleep eight hours, nine at most, and never less than seven. Sleep is a repairing balm which gives rest to the muscles, the nerves, and all the organs. Late evening and night sleeps are refreshing, but not so the sleep you may indulge in in the morning, or the nap you may have in the afternoon. What you want is uninterrupted sleep from eleven at night till seven in the morning. No other sleep will keep you fresh and well.

Hint No. 5

Never go to bed hungry, although you wait till your indigestion is well over. If you are hungry take some very light refreshment that you will digest at once and without any difficulty.

[Pg 94]

Hint No. 6

No sleep is thoroughly sound and good unless your face assumes a perfectly serene expression. To attain this end, do not allow your brain to work at night, or your mind to be besieged by painful thoughts. Do or read nothing exciting. Go to bed with pleasant thoughts and a quiet mind.

I am sure my lady friend is right; for, consulting advice on hygiene in a book written by a famous physician, I see that this great doctor advises the following:

Substantial and digestible meals at regular times.
Very little liquids at meals, if any.
Well-aired rooms and cool bedrooms.
Plenty of fresh air and cold water.
Warm but light clothing.
Eight hours of uninterrupted sleep.
A contented mind.
A cheerful disposition.
Indulgence in deeds of generosity and charity.
Plenty of genial occupation.

Such is certainly the secret of health and cheerfulness, and the secret of beauty, which is the reflection of both.

[Pg 95]



Descartes, Montesquieu, Scribe, Stahl, and many other famous writers of modern times, not to speak of philosophers of antiquity, have decried beauty, and warned mankind against its illusions, and especially its short duration, without succeeding, I must say, in disgusting the world out of it. True, beauty does not last for ever; but who would think of singing the praises of ugliness because it does last? And, for that matter, I am of opinion that beauty does last. I have known men quite handsome at sixty, and women quite beautiful at the same age. And even if it did not last, what of that? Are we not to admire the sun because it is followed by night and obscurity? Are we to despise spring because it is followed by winter one day?

Wise parents say to young men: 'Be sure you do not marry a woman for the sake of her beauty. Marry a woman for her lasting qualities, not for such an ephemeral one as beauty.' Upon my word, to hear some people talk, you would imagine that the beauty of a woman is a thing that lasts a year at most. The[Pg 96] beauty of a happy woman who loves and is loved lasts thirty years at least, and the beauty of some women is such that if it only lasted a year, it would be sufficient to leave about a man for his life a fragrance that all the roses of the world put together could give but a faint idea of.

Nobody complains that peaches are not as big as pumpkins, and therefore do not last so long. Some peaches arrived at their full maturity are so excellent that, although they only make two 'swallows,' you not only enjoy eating them, but you long remember the beautiful taste they had.

I must say that nobody is the dupe of all the diatribes which are hurled at beauty, women still less than men. It has always been, and still is, and always will be, the wish of women to be beautiful, and the wish of men to see women beautiful. Even Ernest Renan, whom nobody would have ever accused of frivolity, joined the ranks, and said that the first duty of woman was to try and look beautiful. Let a woman hear that, in speaking of her, you have said that she was bad-tempered, giddy, silly, extravagant, everything you like, but that you have acknowledged that she was exceedingly beautiful, and I will warrant that you have not made an enemy of that woman. She may keep a grudge against you, but not for long. But let that woman hear that you have owned that she was sweet, dutiful, clever, devoted, and possessed of all the domestic virtues, but that she was far from being[Pg 97] beautiful, you will discover you have made a bitter enemy for the rest of your natural life.

The great attributes of a woman are the beauty of her face and figure, the brilliancy of her mind, and the qualities of her heart. But when a woman is not beautiful, other women will never discuss the good opinion you may have of her mental attainments and sweet disposition. They will leave her in peaceful possession of all these qualities; but if you praise her beauty in terms of ecstasy before them—lo, they will form the square and fight until the last cartridge is used. It is beauty, not cleverness or virtue, that makes women jealous of other women. And when the beauty of a woman is perfectly indisputable, and it is almost impossible for them to find the slightest fault either with her face or her figure, then they declare that, unfortunately, her beauty is one which will not last. The dear women! how they wish they could possess that beauty, were it but for a day!

[Pg 98]



The woman who belongs to the 'jolly good fellow' type is frank and sincere, and as steady in her friendships as the most perfect gentleman. In love, she is disappointing, if not absolutely a fraud. Indeed, the idea of her possibly falling in love would seem to her quite as funny as it would to other people. She is of a cool temperament.

In friendship, her heart is set in the right place; in love, it is deaf and dumb.

She is fond of good living and of gaieties of all sorts, both in town and country. She prefers the society of men to that of women. She is no coquette, but has no objection to flirting—in fact, she enjoys it, and all the more that she knows it cannot make her run the least danger. 'It amuses men,' she thinks, 'and it doesn't hurt me.'

She sleeps, eats, drinks, dresses, rides, drives, dances, smokes, talks, laughs, and throws her money out of every window from the garret to the cellar.

People enjoy her society because she is cheerful and gay, a bright conversationalist, generally pretty, always[Pg 99] elegant and fashionable, and most exquisitely dressed. She is unconventional, and the men like her for it; she seldom indulges in silly gossip, and the women are grateful to her for it. In fact, she is popular with men and women alike, because neither of them has anything to fear from her. The hearts of men and the reputations of women are safe in her hands; she does no damage to either.

Most people think that this type of woman is the happiest. As a girl, yes, perhaps; but not after twenty-five. The woman 'jolly fellow' very often makes all that noise in order to shake off her thoughts. If her heart is unable to speak and unable to hear, the reason often is that it is dead.

[Pg 100]



Men and women who retail slander, whether it has any foundation or not, ought to be unmercifully boycotted by all decent people; and, to be just, I will say that there is as much gossip, and of the worst kind, too, going on in men's club smoking-rooms as there is at afternoon tea-gatherings. Great, though scarce, is the woman who can keep other people's secrets as safely as her own. And how watchful women should be, and constantly be on their guard, always mindful that not more than one man out of ten can keep a secret. I mean his own.

There are many women who gossip and retail scandal, not out of wickedness or with the intention of hurting anyone, but for the mere sake of being entertaining at the dinner-table or round the tea-tray. When she makes her appearance people welcome her, and say: 'Oh, here is Mrs. A——; she is so amusing; we'll hear some good story.' Knowing that she has a reputation to sustain, she prepares her stories before starting on her visits, and gives them an artistic and piquant finishing touch that will make them go down successfully.[Pg 101] Being fairly good-hearted, she begins by warning you that she is only repeating what is 'going on,' and 'does not know for certain.' She only wishes to be amusing and entertaining, you understand, and does not mean to do injury to any woman. Oh dear, no! she is a bit of an actress in an amateurish sort of way, and if she exaggerates she asks you to put it down to the account of Art. As long as people are entertained by gossip there will be people to gossip for their benefit. Now, men and women who repeat scandal which is true do harm enough, goodness knows, but the most dangerous ones are those who repeat what they have heard, which gossip will be repeated and 'improved' until it gets to gigantic proportions.

Slander generally takes refuge behind such platitude as, 'Of course, I have not seen it; I only repeat what I have heard.'

Who says those things?—Why, everybody.

Everybody?—Everybody; that's enough.

Please mention a name.—Well, I am afraid I can't.

But where have you heard such a thing?—Everywhere.

Can't you be precise? Is it in a private house?—I forget.

In a restaurant?—I don't know.

At a café? At a club? Perhaps in a theatre?—Yes, I think it was in a theatre.

What a cure—temporary, at least, if not to last for ever—to look the 'gossip,' man or woman, straight in[Pg 102] the face, and say: 'Scandal-mongers are the most despicable parasites and scoundrels of society!' and you may be sure that, at least, is a statement which the 'gossip' will not repeat.

There is a law of libel practically in every civilized country to protect people against having their character stained at the will and for the pleasure of their fellow-creatures, but for the life of me I cannot see why libel should be libel, and thus punishable by law, only when it is published in a newspaper or written on a postcard. The worst libel, the one that does most injury, is the one that goes from house to house by word of mouth. To say a libellous thing is quite as bad as to write it down; it is even worse, because what is written often escapes notice, and the law should reach the libeller whether he has committed the offence with his mouth or with his pen.

[Pg 103]



We all of us have heard of people falling madly in love at first sight, men especially. No doubt there are men who are exceedingly susceptible, passionate, artistic, and ardent natures, who may take a violent fancy for a woman on seeing her for the first time; but I decline to call such a fancy love, and woe to the woman who marries such a man, for there is no guarantee for her that he will not many times again take such violent fancies for other women; indeed, there is every probability that he will.

I would always advise a woman, or at all events always wish her, to marry a lover and admirer of her sex, but a man who madly falls in love with women at first sight, never. There is no steadiness in that man, no solidity, no reliability, no possible fidelity in him. He is erratic and unmanly. He may be a good poet, a talented artist, a very good actor, but certainly he will never be a good husband, not even a decent one.

There are women who are proud to say that they inspired ardent love at first sight. They should not be proud of it, for it is only the love of a reflecting,[Pg 104] lofty man that should make a woman proud. Men may feel immediate admiration for a woman.

In the presence of certain beautiful women I have felt ready to fall into ecstasies of admiration, as I have in the presence of Niagara Falls, Vesuvius in eruption, the Venus of Milo, or any other grand masterpiece of nature and art; but I have never felt that I could, or must, right away implore them to marry me or let me die at their feet. To fall in love at first sight is a great proof of weakness of mind, of utter absence of self-control, and of wretched unmanliness. I believe I may affirm, without the fear of contradiction, that love at first sight has never proved to be love of long duration.

How can we imagine that a solid affection can be the result of a caprice felt for a person whom you had never seen before, and of whose character you are absolutely ignorant? In certain cases affection may follow a first impression, but only when she can inspire as much affection by her merit as she could produce a good impression by her charms. Only in this case can love become sincere and profound. To form at once a charming impression of a woman is not to fall madly in love with her.

How much preferable is that love gradually increasing through the better knowledge of the beloved one! It is no longer an ephemeral fancy, but a solid affection. In order to love well and truly, you must know well and thoroughly. There must be between people in love that blind confidence, that complete abandon, which can only[Pg 105] be born of the sweet habit to constantly see each other and to understand each other better and better every day. With such love you can brave all obstacles, but with a caprice it vanishes at the first violent storm.

Sincere, serious love is never love at first sight. When one look—and the first one, too—binds a man and a woman, you may be sure that one single word will soon be sufficient to unbind them. Lasting love comes slowly, progressively. Heart alone has never been particularly successful unless in partnership with that sober and wise counsellor that is called Reason. No love is placed on a solid basis which is not governed by reason as well as by the heart.

[Pg 106]



I have just digested a most interesting book by M. Novicow, entitled 'L'Affranchisement de la Femme.' This is a very serious subject, and I feel sure that I need not apologize for treating it with all the earnestness of which I am capable.

In a society organized in conformity with the nature of things, woman will be brought up, from infancy, with the same object in view as man—that is to say, in order to learn how to live by her work. And so it should be, since work is the universal law of biology. Every living creature, from the invisible microbe to the most powerful animal, works unceasingly to assure its existence. Work being the law of Nature, to remain idle is to resist that law and to be immoral.

Woman must become an independent economic unity. There is nothing revolutionary in this; on the contrary, it is a most conservative idea. The leisure class does not represent one-thousandth part of society, and 999 out of every 1,000 women have, or should have, to work to support themselves or help to support their families.[Pg 107]

From time immemorial women have worked in families, in manufactures, offices, in the fields, either as mistresses of houses, as helps, or as servants.

If woman has to be recognised as an independent economic unity, her education should enable her to earn her living, and, whether she gets married or not, she ought always to be ready to support herself without the help of man. Knowledge of every description should be placed at her disposal by the State, as well as at the disposal of man.

This is not all. Not only should she receive an education enabling her to make a livelihood, but also one enabling her to direct her steps in life in the right direction. She should be told the mysteries of life, and the rôle she is called upon to play in life. In our times the ideal young girl is the one who knows nothing. This ideal is absolutely false, and creates the greatest source of danger in existence that stares women in the face. This ideal was created by the monstrous selfishness of man, who reserved to himself the satisfaction, the pleasure (only a rake's pleasure) of teaching her in one moment what, little by little, without shock, she should learn without astonishment.

It is innocence that disarms women and hands them over, defenceless, to the most odious and revolting attempts to corrupt them. When we suppose nowadays that a girl knows too much of the mysteries of love, we think she is depraved; but degradation does not come from the knowledge of certain things—it[Pg 108] comes from the mysterious and unhealthy way in which that knowledge is sometimes imparted.

If she were told openly, in full daylight, all she should know of the rôle Nature has given her to play, she would not be depraved.

When a young girl shall have received from a rational society an education that will enable her to live independently by her work, and to behave to the best of interests, what will she do?

Well, she will do exactly what men do. The rich ones will manage their own fortune, and will engage in pursuits, civil, political, and intellectual. They will embrace professions, be writers, lawyers, artists, doctors, professors, and so on. All the careers will be open to them. In humbler stations of life, she will be clerk, shop-woman, work-woman, servant, labourer, etc. In fact, no woman will be prevented from entering a career for which she has aptitude, and, by so doing, no intellectual force will be lost to society.

For instance, we have lately heard, in Europe, of a young American girl passing a brilliant examination for naval engineering, who presented the model of a ship far superior to anything known up to date. With the new system a woman will not be prevented from building ships for the State because she is a woman. This will not only be justice to woman, but justice to society, which has a right to benefit by the genius of all its members, whether they be men or women.

Now let us examine what will become of society if all[Pg 109] these transformations take place. When all the liberal professions and political functions are exercised by men and women alike, women will be members of Parliament, of chambers of commerce, of literary and scientific academies, and will sit by the side of men, as, in America, at schools and colleges, girls sit by the side of boys. On this account America will be the first country to get quickly reconciled to the new state of things.

The activity of women will be as indispensable to nations and their success as that of men. But I see other consequences. Women being no longer dependent on men, people will be no more concerned about the private life of an unmarried man. A woman who has committed indiscretions will not be called a woman with a past, but, may be, one with experience.

It is even just possible that men will feel more flattered to be chosen by them. They will repeat the word of Balzac, that a woman loves any first man who makes love to her, and that there is nothing in this to make a man feel proud; and Alphonse Karr goes as far as Ninon de Lenclos when he says that the only love that a man may feel proud of is that of a 'woman of experience.'

Another thing, and a very important point. Woman, in this future system, will be so busy with her occupations as a bread-winner that she will have very little time to devote to love.

'Woman lives by love and for love' will be thought[Pg 110] an absurdity. She will come across love in her way through life. She will stop or pass on, according to her fancy, just as man does at present. She will not be taught early that woman was born to be a mother, and that she has constantly to keep her artillery in good order so as to bring down a man.

For that matter, it is just possible that, in those days, it will be women who will propose to men. I should not regret to see it for the sake of the happiness of mankind, because I maintain that woman is a far keener individual than man, and that a woman is much better able to choose the right husband than a man the right wife.

Of course, the frivolous woman, the doll, will have ceased to exist, and the woman will cease to be considered what she is in Turkey and Persia, an instrument of pleasure.

The author assures us that when his system is put into practice, it will work so well that society will discover that it has reached a climax, the advent of happy and perfect civilization.

Well, if it does, all I can say is that what consoles me for getting old is the thought that I shall not be there to see it.

[Pg 111]



This momentous question has been asked, and is daily answered, in a Paris paper called La Fronde, on the staff of which all the writers are women. This is a very delicate question to ask, and I am not sure that it is particularly politic to do so on the part of women.

That women take love more seriously than men is a fact which, I believe, is incontestable; but what would become of women if men were to decide in the negative and answer that love should not be taken seriously?

Their only protection, their only weapon would be taken away from them. See what happens in countries, not civilized, I must quickly add, where men do not take love seriously.

In these countries there is practically no difference between a woman and a slave, and even a beast of burden. The Arab, the Kaffir, the Zulu, the Soudanese, can be seen on horseback, or walking majestically with a blanket slung over his shoulder, while his womankind are following, carrying a baby on their backs, a pail of water or a cask of beer on their heads, and the rest of the burden in their hands.[Pg 112]

These primitive creatures find all this quite natural, men as well as women, and their greatest source of amusement is to see a white man carry his wife's umbrella. How they pity and scorn that poor white man!

They look at him, and seem to say: 'Aren't you a man?' The more these men treat their women as inferior beings, the more highly the women think of the men, and the more respect they feel for them. And we would probably do the same if love, which we men do take seriously, did not subject, and even enslave, us to women.

Indeed, this would be our right—our Divine right—and women, I repeat, are very impolitic to compel us to remind them of what happened at the beginning.

We men have a Divine right to rule over women, and if we use that power given to us only with the greatest moderation, it is because we love women seriously.

This love for you, ladies, is your only safeguard. See how imprudent of you it is to come and ask us if we take love seriously.

Not only do we take love seriously, but I believe that there is nothing else in this world that is taken so seriously.

Love is the only universally serious thing in the world. Ask scientists what they think of actors.[Pg 113] They will tell you that there is no such despicable profession in the world. Yet actors—and rightly, too—take their art seriously.

Literature and music appear to those who cultivate them the most absolutely serious things in existence, yet men of business, whose chief object in life is money-making, shrug their shoulders, and feel ready to say, like a London Lord Mayor to his son, who wanted to devote his life to literature: 'I will be very much obliged to you if you will decide on choosing an honest and respectable calling.'

What is serious to some is not to others. There is nothing in this world which is universally serious—that is to say, recognised as serious by all the civilized members of the human race, except bread and love.

The mission of man is to keep it alive with bread, and we perpetuate it with love. When we have eaten and when we have loved, we have fulfilled our mission. All the rest is accessory, and only more or less serious.

Poets and artists, who help make life beautiful, are not indispensable; they are not serious. Scientists, who make great discoveries, help make life more comfortable; they protect us against disease; they drug us; they cure us, but they are not indispensable—the world would go on without them; they are not serious.

Only as long as there is bread and there is love will the world go on and the earth continue to be inhabited by the human race; bread and love are serious.[Pg 114]

I fear that I may have offended many people who think that they are indispensable and that their vocation is serious. Well, I am very sorry—very sorry indeed—but I cannot help it. The world was made thus, and when it was made I was not consulted.

Put aside a few men and women, most of them to be found in the leisure class or among the parasites of society, for whom love is a pastime, and you will find that love is taken very seriously by men, if not quite in the same way as it is taken by women, who are more delicate and refined psychologists than men generally are.

But, my dear ladies, as long as we men are only too proud and happy to fight the battle of life for you, to live for you, and, when occasion arises, sometimes die for you, please thank the progress of civilization, which has made us forget the origin of our relations toward each other; do not give us reasons for reminding you of it, and, for Heaven's sake! when we have spent years working twelve hours a day, providing you with all the comforts, and often the luxuries, of life, reared and settled in the world a large family of boys and girls, do not come and ask us if we take love seriously. You are adding insult to injury. Yes, indeed, we take love seriously, and matrimony too.

[Pg 115]



'You are often writing about women,' fair correspondents keep writing to me, 'sometimes praising them, often criticising them. Couldn't you now and then tell us something of what you think of men, especially in their relations with women? We know you to be fair, sometimes generous, always good-humoured. Now, do have a try.'

The invitation is tempting and intended to be pleasant, and I yield to it, not only without any reluctance, but with a good deal of pleasure.

To plunge in medias res, Are men fair to women? The laws, which are made by men, the usages—everything is calculated to cause men to reduce to a minimum the qualities, the intelligence, and the influence of women.

For instance, let a woman make a reputation in art or literature, and men begin to smile and shrug their shoulders: they dispute her talent.

I maintain, without much fear of contradiction, that a woman, in order to succeed in a profession, must have ten times more talent than a man, inasmuch as a man[Pg 116] will have friends and comrades to help him, and a woman only difficulties put in her way by man to surmount.

Man receives encouragements from all sides. If he is successful, he even knows that his talent will receive official recognition. In France he may become a member of the French Academy; in England, of the Royal Academy. Orders will be given him by rich patrons, and 'orders' conferred on him by sovereigns and statesmen.

Why should not women get all this? Why, simply because man, being both 'verdict' and 'execution,' has kept everything for himself. Personally, I have no great liking for female genius—to my prejudiced mind a female genius is a freak; but what I like or do not like is quite out of the question. Here I state facts, and why women should not have as much chance to prove their genius as men I should like to know.

Everybody knows that the famous School of Alexandria, in the fifth century, had as orators and teachers the greatest philosophers and theologians of the time, such men as St. Jerome, St. Cyril, etc.

Among these sublime intellects rose a young girl, twenty years old, pure, radiantly beautiful, who modestly said to them:

'Please make room for me—hear me. I want my place in the glorious sun.'

She ascended the famous chair and began to explain before an enthusiastic crowd the works of Plato and[Pg 117] Aristotle. Her talent, her learning, her eloquence astonished the people who thronged to hear young and fair Hypatia, daughter of Theo.

Now, do you believe that all those learned, bearded philosophers and theologians encouraged her, applauded her? No. History tells us they lay in wait in a street where she used to pass, and when she appeared in her chariot, resplendent with youth, beauty, and glory, acclaimed by the crowd, they—St. Cyril and his companions—seized her, killed her, cut her body in hundreds of pieces, which they threw to the four winds of the earth.

Now, modern Hypatias are not treated quite so roughly by men, who content themselves with turning them to ridicule, although I have heard of some who did not hesitate in disposing of successful women's reputations as the learned doctors of Alexandria disposed of the body of Hypatia.

Women, perhaps unfortunately, cannot all be intended to be mothers, or spend their lives mending socks and attending to spring house-cleaning. Such women, who have received a high education, may not feel inclined to be shop-girls, ladies'-maids, or cooks. If they feel that they have talent, and can paint or write successfully, every man ought to give them a helping hand.

[Pg 118]



'There are too many men in the world,' once exclaimed H. Taine. This was only a joke, but there is a great deal of truth in it. There are, in France especially, far too many men engaged in official Government offices, in professional occupations, and in stores; too many doctors without patients; too many lawyers without briefs; too many functionaries, each doing little or nothing, and the others seeing that he does it; too many men in stores showing women dresses, silks, and gloves.

And the woman hater exclaimed: 'No wonder men cannot find a living to make; all the occupations that once were filled by men are now monopolized by women. The hearth is deserted, the street crowded—that's the triumph of modern feminism.'

On the other hand some feminists, more royalist than the King, exclaim: 'Woman should be kept in clover, the protégée of humanity, and never be allowed to work.'

And, taken between two fires, poor women are ready to shout at the top of their voices, 'Save us from our friends as well as from our enemies!' It is a fact that[Pg 119] at a recent congress of Socialists an orator declared himself in favour of the suppression of work for women.

But women do want to work, and many of them married, too. If what husbands earn is not enough to maintain the family or keep it in comfort, they are partners, and they wish to contribute to the revenue.

If they are not married, they want to support themselves or help to keep aged parents. Many of them prefer their independence to matrimony, which not uncommonly turns out to be about the hardest way for a woman to get a living.

Women have a right to work as they have a right to live, and every work which is suitable for women should be open to them. And when I see Lancashire make girls work in the coal-mines I may ask, 'What work is there that women cannot do?'

God forbid that I should be in favour of women working in the mines, but this is not necessary. There are so many men who do a kind of work that women should do, and could do just as well, if not better, that there should be no question of any kind of work done by women which men could do better.

The earth was meant to keep her children, and she would if everybody, man or woman, was in his or her right place. The supply is all there and all right, but it is its distribution which is all wrong. The same may be said of work.

There should be in this world work for all and bread[Pg 120] for all, men or women, only the poor inhabitants of this globe have not yet been able to obtain a proper division of the goods which they have inherited from nature.

Thanks to the discoveries of science and the openings of new markets, opportunities for work increase every day, but men and women are like children in a room full of toys—they all make a rush for those which tempt them most, and fight and die in order to obtain them. In the presence of all the careers open to them, they rush toward the most easy to follow or the most brilliant.

Agriculture is forsaken by men who prefer swaggering in towns with top-hats and frock-coats, instead of imitating in their own country the virile, valiant men of the new worlds who fell forests, reclaim the land, and are the advanced pioneers of civilization. They prefer being clerks or shop assistants.

Instead of taking a pickaxe, working a piece of land and making it their own, they prefer taking a pen and adding from 9 a.m. till 5 or 6 p.m. pounds and shillings which do not belong to them. The result is that they overcrowd the cities, and women can often obtain no work except on condition that they accept it for a smaller remuneration than would be offered to men, or, in other words, submit to being sweated.

Is it a manly occupation to be assistant in a draper's store, to be a hairdresser, copyist, to make women's dresses, hats, corsets? When I see in dry goods stores a great big man over six feet high measure ribbons or[Pg 121] lace, instead of tilling the soil or doing any other kind of manly work, I want to say to him, 'Aren't you a man?'

Europe is full of men doing such work. I know America is not, although I have many times seen in the United States positions filled by men which would be filled equally well by women, and often better.

Many writers maintain that woman was intended to tread on a path of roses, to be tended, petted—I may have been myself guilty of holding views somewhat in this direction—but women are not all born in 'society'; millionaires are very few, and people whom you may call rich form after all but a very small minority in the whole community. The path of roses can only exist for the very few, and, besides, there are women whose aim in life is not to be petted. In fact, some absolutely object to being petted.

I tell you the time is coming, and coming at giant strides, when every child—boy or girl—will be made early to choose the kind of work he or she best feels ready to undertake to make a living. The time is coming when no poverty will stare in the face the woman who can and is willing to work.

Maybe the time is coming when a woman who bravely earns a good living will be considered not only most respectable—she is that now—but will be envied for her 'social standard' by the frivolous, useless women who, from morning to night, yawn and wonder how they could invent anything to make them spend an hour usefully for their good or the good of their fellow-creatures.

[Pg 122]



The women's-righters are so often accused, and justly, too, of trying to disturb the equilibrium of happiness in family life, that they should immediately be praised when they do something likely to establish it on a firmer basis.

In Paris they have just succeeded in starting, under the best and happiest auspices, schools where girls will be taught how to bring up babies and how to keep house. When it is considered that, out of about a million children which are born annually, over 260,000 die before the age of five, it calls for the utmost care in the watchfulness and habits of parents with regard to young children.

Of all European countries, it is perhaps in France that mortality among babies is largest. France is being depopulated, or at least is not increasing her population. Enough children are born, but not enough are brought to grown-up age. This problem, over the solution of which our legislators are very anxious, is vital to France. It will not be solved by laws enacted, congresses held, and leagues founded. It will be solved[Pg 123] by a reform in the manners and habits of the people, by making marriage easier, by marrying for love more often, and by teaching French women that the first duty of a mother is to raise her children herself, and the second to know how to do it. This new school, just established in France, will help in the right direction.

The teaching of household duties will also tend to make marriages happier by enabling wives to be more clever and economical. If we consider that in England and France, which each has a population of about 40,000,000, only about 100,000 men in each country have an income of more than £500 a year, it will soon be clear that the great problem of happiness can only be solved by the good management of wives.

Girls will be taught family hygiene, domestic economy, and the art of cooking, including that of utilizing the remnants of a previous meal. They will be taught how to 'shop' intelligently; that is to say, to distinguish good material from shoddy, and thus obtain the worth of their money. They will, I hope, also be taught how to make a bargain, a talent which I must say is practically inborn in every French woman of the middle and lower classes. No woman in the world knows as she does how to bring down the price of things to what she wants it to be, in Paris especially.

Perhaps they will advise her to do what I would advise every visitor to Italy. I take it that you do not speak Italian. Never mind that; three words will[Pg 124] serve your purpose perfectly. When you are in an Italian shop and you ask the price of an article you wish to buy, say to the man 'Quanto?' (how much?); as soon as he has named it, say 'Troppo' (too much). Then he will say something else. Just remark 'Mezzo' (half that), and then pay, and you will find that the shopkeeper has still 40 or 50 per cent. profit.

When I consider that women's-righters, as a rule, complain bitterly of men for being of opinion that the only thing which young girls should think about is to prepare to become one day good wives and mothers, I believe that great credit should be given to them for having had the idea of starting schools where young girls will be taught all the duties of attentive mothers and economical wives.

I had the privilege of being present at one lecture on the training of children, and among all the good things which I heard on the occasion I will quote the following, which may be of great use, even to my English readers.

1. Never threaten children with punishments you may not be able or feel inclined to carry out. Don't let your 'yea' mean 'nay,' nor your 'nay' 'yea.' You must never be fickle or wavering in your dealing with them, but always firm, just, and reliable, though kind and indulgent. Don't punish them, and then regret it, and afterwards fondle them as if to ask for their pardon. If you do, you will run the risk of having your child say to you: 'Ah, you see, mamma, you are sorry for what[Pg 125] you have done. Instead of scolding me, I think you ought to thank God for giving me to you!'

2. Don't make mountains of molehills, or be constantly down upon children for little breaches of every-day discipline; don't be fidgety and fussy. Never offer them a piece of candy, a bun, or an orange as a reward for virtues, or as a bribe to cease being naughty.

Then came a few pieces of advice of a higher order, and which I thought were sound in their philosophy. Among these I cull the following:

1. Do not expect your children to become a joy to you in your old age if you have failed to be a joy to them in their early life and training. Do not expect them to support you when you are old. You had a fair start of them in life, and you should be able to provide for yourselves. They will very likely have families of their own. Children are often sadly thrown back through having to look after parents who, had they taken time by the forelock, would have been able to look after themselves, and to have given their children a nudge onward into the bargain. For that matter, never have to be grateful to your children, except for the happiness they may procure you by their affection and the successes which they meet with in life, thanks to the education, money, advice, and what not which you may have given to them.

2. Don't let your vanity cheat you into the belief that your children are wonders and exceptional[Pg 126] phenomena, and that Nature's ordinary rules are not applicable to them.

In the nursery lecture on baby culture I retained two or three pieces of advice which seemed to me remarkably good, although my ignorance would not have enabled me to give them. Young mothers, please listen:

1. Don't squeeze your baby's head.

2. Never allow your child to go to bed in a bad temper.

3. Never encourage it to gaze into the fire, and never tell it ghost stories, at night especially.

4. Do not allow a rocking-horse before the age of five.

5. Never startle a child by sudden shrieks or any other noises.

6. In fact, quiet and diet will be the making of a child strong in mind and body.

I could fill several pages of this book with all the good things I heard on the occasion of my visit to that useful school.

Maybe, one day such schools will be started in other countries. I recommend this to the women's-righters of the United States.

[Pg 127]



Only a few days ago, while calling on a lady of my acquaintance, the conversation fell on a lady singer whom the public admired and applauded for many years, and whose private character made her also a great favourite in society. She left the operatic stage a good many years ago, and went on the concert platform under the management of her husband, who was a well-known impresario. One day her voice failed her, and so did her husband, who, realizing there was no more money in his wife, thought that the best thing he could do now was to leave her. With this, however, he was not satisfied. A so-called London society paper, having published a paragraph to the effect that he had left his wife without any provision, this unspeakable cur wrote to all the papers denying that he had ever been married to that beautiful woman, who for years had loved him, who had not only been faithful to him and devoted to him, but had entirely supported him.

People in England were so indignant that I remember the man had immediately to leave all the clubs he was[Pg 128] associated with, and that the beautiful and talented woman, who had been so shamefully deceived, inspired such keen sympathy that she was more than ever sought in society, where her reputation was so firmly established that the letters written to the papers could not put a stain on her character. In spite of my reminding my lady friend of all the incidents of the case, the only sympathy I could extract from her was the following remark, 'She should have expected all this,' almost to the tune of, 'She only got what she deserved.' Then, starting to philosophize, she added: 'A woman should know that the man who wickedly wrongs her does not mean to marry her; and if a woman will live with a man without being his wife, she must be prepared to bear the consequences of her folly, and to be one day left in the lurch.'

'But,' I rejoined, 'do you mean to tell me that a woman who, purely out of love, devotes her life to a man, has not a right to expect that man to devote his life to her, to protect her, to make her future safe, and all the more so because they are not married? I am afraid that what makes those acts of desertion so frequent is the leniency shown by society towards them, and the supreme contempt which women who are legally married have for those who are not, and who are just as respectable as they are, and very often a good deal more so.'

I am in business with many people who always had such confidence in me, and I such confidence in them,[Pg 129] that there were never any contracts signed between us, and I do not think they are more afraid of my breaking my engagements with them, because they have not my signature, than I am of their breaking their promise to me, because I have in my hands no contract duly signed, stamped, and witnessed.

Men who deceive men, who break with them contracts made only by word, are ostracized from society. Why should men who deceive women be received by it with open arms?

There are men of honour in the world, thank Heaven! and if men are expected to act honourably towards their fellow-men, can you explain to me why women should be found who think it quite natural that these same men should not behave honourably, not even decently, towards women who have placed their trust in them to the extent of not exacting their signature on a contract?

The worst feature of women as a sex is the absence of free-masonry among them. They stick together only for the redress of more or less imaginary grievances; perhaps the only one really momentous to their sex—I mean the desertion of trusting women by treacherous men—scarcely appeals to them. The woman who has fallen through love and confidence will get no sympathy from women, not even from the one who should give it to her—I mean the one who has given herself to a man, not because she loved him, but because he offered her money and matrimony.[Pg 130]

Women who have in hand a contract of marriage signed, stamped, and witnessed, are so inexorable towards their sex that they will—I am ashamed to say it for them—rather take the part of men betrayers than that of poor women betrayed.

[Pg 131]



Since the publication of 'Her Royal Highness Woman' and 'Between Ourselves,' some people, I am afraid, have somehow been under the impression that I keep open a sort of Dr. Cupid's office, in which I hold consultations on questions referring to love and matrimony; and I have received many letters—far too many to answer—in which fair correspondents in trouble have written for advice.

Only quite recently I received a letter from a lady, who writes: 'I am madly in love with a man whom I cannot marry, but whom I have to see on business almost every day; what should I do to be cured? Should I marry another man who is now seeking my hand, who can offer me a very good position, but whom I do not love?'

Now, here is a problem if you like: Can matrimony be administered as an antidote? If so, in what doses?

To tell you the truth, I rather believe in homœopathy—that is to say, in the cure of the like by the like. You want to be cured of your love for a man—why, love another; it is as simple as possible. Yes, but[Pg 132] the lady tells me she cannot love that other, yet she seems inclined to 'swallow' him as an antidote. At any rate, she suggests that she might do so, and I suppose she wants me to tell her whether she is likely to be successful, if the cure will be effective and lasting.

Of course, there is more chance of happiness in a marriage which is contracted between a man who loves a woman and a woman who does not love him than in one contracted between a woman who loves a man and a man who does not love her. Under the circumstances, a man, after entering matrimonial life, is much more likely to win his wife's love than a woman her husband's. I believe this to be so true as to be almost taken for granted.

But, my dear lady correspondent, are you going to tell that man honestly on what terms you are going to marry him? Are you going to trust to his intelligence, his tact, his love, his devotion, to win your affections? And are you going to do your utmost to help him? Surely you are not going to deceive him, let him think you love him, and prepare for him and for yourself a life of misery and wretchedness, and thus build your married life on contempt and deceit, which will lead you to hate your husband.

But enough of awful suppositions, for, between you and me, I can declare that your case is much more hopeful than you think. The disease from which you suffer—or, rather, from which you imagine that you[Pg 133] suffer—is quite curable, and is cured every day without having to resort to such extreme measures as you suggest, for, dear lady, do you not say to me that you love that man 'madly'?

Fireworks, shells, volcanic eruptions, and mad love have this in common: they may do harm, cause suffering, but they last a short time only. And, pray, why do you see the man on business every day? Is he your confessor, your doctor, your music-teacher, your dancing-master? Has a royal escapade of recent date, like a 'penny dreadful,' created a disturbance in your otherwise well-balanced mind?

And why can't you marry him? Oh, I see, he is married already.

Now, are you aware that we never fall in love madly except with people whom we cannot marry? You say you did not know that. I tell you you have no idea how simple your case is, and how common.

By the way, would not, perchance, that man be the 'juvenile lead' who acts in the romantic drama which is being played every day in your city? Oh, you matinee girl! Are you aware that matinee girls invariably love madly? Yes, as madly and as idiotically as do in the play the heroes whom they worship.

Now, do not take tragically, or even seriously, such little clouds as 'mad love.' Do not use big words for very little things. Mad love is the easiest love to cure. Change your doctor or your dancing-master, or—if I have otherwise guessed right—patronize another[Pg 134] theatre. Go and see 'Hamlet'—that will cure you of 'Romeo.'

Then look more carefully at that very sensible man who offers you marriage and a good position, and if you realize that you can make him happy, and you are sure you are not madly in love with him, marry him. And if you study him very closely and discover in him qualities and attainments that may lead you to fall in love with him madly, don't tell him: he might believe you.

Men are so silly!

[Pg 135]



The domestic tyrant has redeeming features. As a rule he does not beat his wife.

He feeds her well, clothes her decently, and is faithful to her. When she is ill he sends for the doctor, and does not grumble unless her convalescence should last too long. He does not want her to die, because she consents to be his housekeeper without wages and allows him to get out of her all the work that can possibly be extracted from one being who does not claim the protection of the 'eight-hour' law.

He has enough self-control to resist the temptation of insulting her. He treats her coolly, patronizingly, and keeps her at a respectful distance, lest she should take liberties with him.

He is dull, solemn, conceited and selfish. When he joins the family circle, wife and children have to be busy and silent, the only noise allowed being the rustling of the newspaper he reads. He takes the lamp, the only one on the table, and places it just behind his shoulder, so as to light his paper well. His wife—poor cat! who has to see in the dark—goes on with her[Pg 136] sewing as best she can. The children remain motionless and speechless until it is time to go to bed. Then they smile, say good-night, and run away like culprits.

When he goes out the children speak above a whisper, and the women of the family breathe and express an opinion among themselves, an act of audacity which they would never think of indulging in in his presence; and life goes merrily until someone, with a face a yard long, rushes in and announces 'Father is coming!' The domestic tyrant is invariably called 'Father' by the wife as well as by the children, and the word is spelt with a capital 'F,' and the 'a' is sounded as if there were a dozen French circumflex accents on the top of it.

The domestic tyrant is neither a lazy man nor a drunkard, nor anything that is bad. On the contrary, he is a moral man. As a rule he does not even smoke, and that is what makes him so powerful against reproach. What can you say to a man who is steady, sober, intelligent, hard-working, stingy perhaps, but asks forgiveness for that on the plea that he has a large family to secure the future of? Outside of his house he has a very good reputation; he is invariably called a good husband and a good father. He invariably speaks well of his wife. Before strangers, before friends and relatives, in her very presence, he will sing her praises and extol her virtues, and will constantly repeat that for industry he does not know a woman who could compete with her. That is the way he encourages her in the path of duty.[Pg 137] The domestic tyrant is particularly great on duty, and when he and his wife are alone, and there is nobody else to hear him, he tells her that he fulfils his duties, and that surely he can expect 'females' to perform theirs. For him, women are 'females.' His wife alone can tell you what he really is, and on the subject this is the information you will receive from her:

'I have to be his slave for twenty-four hours a day, work for him, humour him, and, most especially, I must never complain of being ill, or even mention that I am tired. I have never had from him a word of pity, of condolence, or even of sympathy. I have never received encouragements. I have never heard a word of praise from his lips.

'On the other hand, it takes very little to discourage him and make him lose his high spirits. If anything has gone wrong with his business during the day, he comes home frowning, snarling, quarrelsome, looking for more trouble and grievances. He does not use me as a consoling companion in the hour of misfortune or as a comforter in moments of annoyance. No; he looks upon me as a target at which he can aim all his bitterness.'

And she will tell you much more than that. She will probably tell you that the larger the family gets, the more he is pleased, because it gives her less and less chance of finding time to leave her home.

He goes out when he likes, where he likes, and would never think of asking her, 'Won't you come along?'[Pg 138] You never see them out together. Poor thing! life would be tolerable to her if they were never in together.

It would never enter the domestic tyrant's mind to ask his wife if she is able to do her work alone, whether he can help her in this or that, or simply inquire, in a sympathetic manner, whether she doesn't feel tired after her day's work.

If he should hear complaints from her he has a beautiful phrase ready for an answer: 'What did my mother do? What did your mother do? I am sure you are not worse off than they were.'

This moral man, the domestic tyrant, is not uncommonly dyspeptic, and bad digestion has been the cause of more unhappy marriages than all the immorality of the world put together.

[Pg 139]





The great art, the great science of happiness, in matrimony especially, is never to expect of life more than it can give. Therefore, prepare your nest in such a way that the provisions will not be exhausted in a few weeks. From the very beginning, put on the brake, or the car will go too fast, and will get smashed.

Economize your caresses, rule your passions so as never to make more promises than you can keep. You cannot always work unless now and then you take a rest, a holiday; neither can you always love unless you proceed quietly and occasionally take a holiday. Be sure that a holiday is as necessary to make you enjoy blissful times as it is to make you endure hard ones.

Do not for a moment believe that happiness in matrimony can go on for ever and ever without[Pg 140] calculation, without a great display of diplomacy on the part of both husband and wife. Avoid being too constantly the lover of your wife, because the lover-husband is such a revelation to a woman that when the day arrives—the fatal day!—on which the husband remains alone and the lover has ceased to exist, your wife will forget everything you may have done for her: your constant attentions, your assiduity to your profession or business, your forethought for her future and that for her children—all that will count for nothing when she realizes that the lover is gone.

Never allow a third person to interfere with your private affairs. Never confide your little troubles and grievances to anybody. Beware of the advising lady who would say to you: 'If I were in your place, I would not allow him to do this or to do that.' First of all, she is not in your place; secondly, she cannot be in your place, because she is neither in your heart nor in that of your husband.

You are the best judge—in fact, you are the only judge—of what is best for you to do in the presence of the many little difficulties that arise in married life. Whether you are happy or unhappy, keep the secrets of your married life to yourself; neither your happiness nor your misfortune will cause you to increase the number of your friends. Indeed, if you are perfectly[Pg 141] happy, it is only by remaining silent about it that you will get people to forgive you your happiness.

Accept a life of abnegation and devotion. There is in devotion a bliss which is unsurpassed. Devotion is perhaps the most refined and lofty form of selfishness; it raises you so much in your own estimation! It enslaves so surely the hearts of those whom you love! Devotion is not a sacrifice; it is a halo.

If I were a woman, I would give all the pleasures of life to witness the smile of my husband on a sick-bed as I entered the room to come and sit by his side with his hand in mine. In health, the man loves to feel that he is the protector of his wife; in sickness, there is no such arbour for him as the arms of the woman he loves.

[Pg 142]



From inquiries which I have made right and left I have arrived at this conclusion—that, out of a hundred couples who have got married, fifty would like to regain their freedom after six months of matrimonial life, twenty have come to the same opinion after a couple of years, ten more after a longer period, and about twenty are satisfied, though, in the last case, it often amounts to making the best of it. Not ten of them spend their leisure time in returning thanks that they got married—perhaps ten, but certainly not more.

And I will add this—that, among my friends and acquaintances, the couples who live most happily together are, without exception, those who made up their minds to be married most quickly, and did not attempt, during years and years of engagement, to try and learn how to know something of each other. I do not give this as a piece of advice to those about to marry. I simply state a fact, although I am prepared to admit that long engagements have never been the proper way of preparing for matrimony.[Pg 143]

In my opinion, the majority of marriages will have a chance of turning out happily when the following will have become customs and laws:

1. Before a man makes love to a woman with the intention of asking her to become his wife, and before a woman allows a man to speak love to her, certainly before she accepts his offer of matrimony, both will have ascertained that there is no disease, moral or physical, of an hereditary nature in either family; that the man has been a good and devoted son, a cheerful brother, and an honest man in all his dealings, well spoken of by his employers or his acquaintances; that the girl is not an extravagant woman, and has, among her friends, the reputation of being amiable, cheerful, and a favourite at home; that both will have sufficient means to support themselves.

I will go further. I will say that it should not only be a custom to make inquiries about the antecedents of the parties, and their financial position, but a law, and a strict law, too, that would prevent couples from marrying who were likely to present society with undesirable children, or become a burden to the community. I believe that no emigrant is allowed to land in America who cannot prove that he possesses some means of existence. No couples should be allowed to enter the 'State of Union' who cannot prove that they possess means to support themselves, and are healthy in mind and in body.

2. Girls will be told, like in the past, that their[Pg 144] destiny is to be one day wives and mothers, but they will be intelligently prepared for both noble vocations. They will come out of school able to keep a house, cook a good, palatable meal, and make their own dresses. They will know how to get their money's worth when they go a-shopping. They will have learned how to attend to babies, and have played with live dolls. They will have listened to, and profited by, lectures on hygiene. They will know all these things, besides possessing the accomplishments which are only meant to be dessert in matrimonial life.

Boys who have never been once told that their destiny is to become one day husbands and fathers will be prepared to be tolerably good ones. They will be taught the consideration that man should always show to woman. They will be taught to take off their hats to women and young girls, and advised to do the same one day to their own wives when they meet them. When they get to be eighteen or twenty, they will be informed of women's characteristic traits. They will be told that a woman who accepts an offer of matrimony does a man more honour than he conferred on her by making the offer.

When men and women shall by early training be made, the former less selfish and conceited, the latter less frivolous and extravagant, the chances of happiness in matrimony will be greatly increased.

Still, the problem will not be solved.[Pg 145]

You will never prevent matrimony being a lottery. Take your ticket and—your chance.

After all, matrimony is like a mushroom. The only way to ascertain whether it is the genuine article or poison that you have got is to swallow it—and wait.

[Pg 146]



A cynic once said that in this world men succeed through the qualities which they do not possess. By this he meant to say that to cope with the pushing crowd, you must not be too scrupulous, or you will let everybody pass before you.

A worse cynic, one of the blackest type and deepest dye, went as far as to say: 'The way to succeed is to have unbounded impudence, popular manners, absence of scruple, and complete ignorance of everything.'

But, then, take it for granted that this cynic was only a disappointed failure. You will constantly hear the man who has failed in life exclaim: 'Oh, if I had not always wished to remain perfectly honest, I could have succeeded like many others I know.'

Just as you hear women who fail to get engagements on the stage or the concert platform remark: 'If I had had no objection to obtaining engagements in the way some women do, I would have made my mark—but I am not one of that sort.'

At the risk of appearing paradoxical, and even cynical, I will venture to say that in love, and in matrimony[Pg 147] especially, certain great qualities are more detrimental to the happiness of women than many of their defects. And if this is a correct statement, to what shortcoming of man are we going to attribute it?

I know that on reading this some women will exclaim: 'Shame on you to say such a thing!' Very well, will you listen to me? Look around you, among all your circles of friends and acquaintances, of relatives even, and tell me if, as a rule, the young girl who is vain, selfish, coquettish, a flirt even, has not better chances of marriage, and is not sought after rather than the simple, unaffected, devoted, intellectual girl? Tell me if the bumptious rose does not generally carry the day over the modest, retiring violet?'

Of course, I know that you will say to me, 'You may be right; men—I mean most men—are caught, like mackerel, by shining bait; but when a man is married, surely he is not slow to recognise which of the two is the right one to have as a wife, and to appreciate all the qualities and virtues of the second one.'

Well, you are wrong—wrong as can be. Look around you again, study now the married couples that you know, and you will have to confess that the wife who is coquettish, frivolous, clever, will know how to make herself respected, and even feared, by her husband much more than the other.

That husband will pay to her his best attentions, will be proud of her, and will work like a slave in order to meet all the expenses required for the adornment[Pg 148] of her beauty without once venturing to make a remark.

I tell you that if I had a marriageable daughter, whom I wanted to get rid of, I would tell her to put all her retiring ways in the cloak-room and to assert herself, and, after the wedding ceremony, I would whisper in her ears:

'My dear child, never make yourself the slave of your husband; be good, faithful and devoted to him, but do not forget that man is a strange animal, who seldom appreciates what he does not pay for. In this respect men are like those people who listen breathlessly to music in a hall or theatre where they have paid a guinea for their seats, and who, as guests in a drawing-room, take the very best music as a signal for entering into general conversation. If you want your husband to listen to your music, make him pay for his seat.'

The poor little woman who follows to the letter all the lectures she has heard on matrimony, at home and at church wedding ceremonies, will soon find the irreparable mistake she has made. In this rôle of devoted slave she will lose her beauty, her intelligence, her very mind, and will wither rapidly.

Devoting herself, body and soul, forgetting herself always in order to increase the welfare of her husband she will work, wear herself out, until, when her beauty is gone, her husband will feel for her nothing but indifference, if not, alas! sometimes contempt.[Pg 149]

If one of the two must endure a privation in order that the other may have more comfort, it should be the man, always the man: first, because hard work and privations do not hurt a man as they can hurt a woman, physically and mentally; secondly, because a woman is far more apt to appreciate self-abnegation in a man than a man in a woman.

All this does not mean that men are all brutes—no; although it must be admitted that there is something brutal in their very nature which is ever fascinated by what is piquant, and never excited by a devotion which they feel is, above all, the duty of the stronger toward the weaker.

Let women gently, diplomatically, but firmly, assert themselves on the very threshold of matrimony, or all the concessions which they make at the beginning will soon be considered by their husbands as their due. In matrimonial life, as in the government of nations, you can never take back concessions or privileges granted too quickly and without enough consideration.

Women who start married life as slaves will never be able to assert themselves or enjoy the slightest influence over their husbands; and bear in mind that no marriage has ever proved to be happy where the influence of woman, though sweet and gentle, has not been paramount.

[Pg 150]



I have many times been asked the question, Who are the best subjects for matrimony? I believe (kindly mark that I do not say I am sure) that the best subjects for matrimony are people with simple tastes, equable tempers, no very great aspirations, satisfied with doing little and being little. These, at all events, are the kind of people most likely to be happy in matrimony, far more likely than, say, for instance, the 'intellectuals,' who are ever in search of the pathway that leads to the higher walks of life, who have ambitions to satisfy and many inducements to divert their minds from the peaceful ways of contentment and happy matrimony. Little things please little minds, and those couples, whom we have all met in life, who know nothing, who dream of nothing above what they have got, who are perfect mutual admiration societies, are the best subjects for matrimony. These people, snoring under the same curtain, eating out of the same plate, as it were, having the same tastes, persuaded that no one is blessed with such children as they have, satisfied with all they do, sure that the religion they follow is the only true one[Pg 151] in the world, spend a peaceful and happy life in the exchange of familiarities which, for them, constitute love. They respect and enjoy each other; they echo each other's sentiments; and their beings are coupled together, trotting along, like two dogs well looked after. Their discussions at home are never on any higher questions than whether green peas are better with duck than Brussels sprouts. They are cheerful, smiling. She calls him Smith or Brown, and he never speaks of her but as 'my good lady.' Before the children they call each other 'father' and 'mother.' They may be grocers, fruiterers—I don't care what they are; they are happy, perfect subjects for matrimony.

What divers and strange unions are sanctioned by matrimony, to be sure! By the side of resigned couples, harnessed together and painfully dragging the plough, those who have never been able to understand each other, through want of space, because they were too near to make proper observations; those who, alas! understand each other too well; sweet, amiable women of poetic dispositions, chained to matter-of-fact, brutal men; honest, saving, hard-working men fastened for life to silly, thoughtless, extravagant women; romantic women married to men who see no difference between Vesuvius in eruption and the smoking chimneys of Pittsburg or Birmingham; women of a keen, humorous disposition living with dullards unable to see a joke; Wagnerians having for wives women who prefer the[Pg 152] music of 'The Casino Girl' to that of 'Lohengrin': almost everywhere tragedy or comedy.

Matrimony is a very narrow carriage. If you want to be comfortable in it you have to be careful, or one will soon be in the way of the other. To put yourself to a little inconvenience now and then is the only way of making the other comfortable. To believe that love alone, without careful study, will resist all the shocks and will be all the more durable that it is ardent is the greatest mistake one can make in the world. Violent passion may be compared to Hercules, who might have enough strength to raise a palace on his shoulders, but not enough to stand a cold in his head. It is the thousand and one little drawbacks of matrimonial life that undermine it. Love will survive a great misfortune, but will be killed by the little miseries of conjugal partnership. In matrimony it is the little things that count and which, added up, make a terrible total. The waning love of a wife will not be revived by the present of a thousand pound pair of ear-rings, but it may be kept up by the daily present of a penny bunch of violets, which reminds her that you think of her every day of your life. It is not the great sacrifices that appeal to her as do constant little concessions. Many men would sacrifice their lives who would not give up smoking or their too frequent visits to their clubs for their wives. Many women will be the[Pg 153] incarnation of devotion and self-abnegation who will not do their hair as their husbands beg them to.

Surely matrimony ought to procure happiness, for the greatest bliss on earth should be to love in peaceful security with the guarantee of the morrow. Matrimony is all right. So are the symphonies of Beethoven—when they are performed by orchestras who play in time and in tune.

The worst—indeed, the only serious—drawback to matrimony is that it is an everyday meal which, palatable as it may be, runs the risk of becoming insipid, and of making fastidious the people who have to partake of it. True, but then let people who are intelligent and thoughtful supply seasoning which will whet the appetite and combat Habit, that demon which is their deadliest enemy.

It is folly, rank folly, to believe that it is wise, even prudent, to exhaust all at once the sum of happiness, illusion, and love with which one enters the state of matrimony, and to give one's self body and soul until, soon satiated and by-and-by tired of each other, both will turn their heads away in disgust, and may, later on, lose them in despair.

[Pg 154]



There was a time, and I can remember it myself, when men as well as women wore wedding-rings. It was, I think, a very pretty custom. The wedding-ring ought to be worn by both husband and wife, not only as a constant reminder of faith sworn, but also as a talisman; it should be a cherished jewel given to the husband by the wife, as well as one given to the wife by the husband, and given in each case with a loving, earnest kiss impressed upon it. The wedding-ring is such a priceless jewel in the eyes of loving women that I have heard of some who became insane on losing it. Why should it not be priceless in the eyes of a man who loves his wife?

Every time that two beings who live together are not of the same opinion or of the same taste, a concession on the part of the one or of the other has to be made, or trouble will follow. This is a rule without exception. In conjugal parlance Concession is another name for Duty. Concessions should even be made in[Pg 155] everyday conversation, and long discussions most carefully and invariably avoided. Discussions are generally useless; they never lead to conviction, and may cause you to run a dangerous risk—that of losing your control over your good temper. In a wild desire to prove that he is right, a man will blurt out words that he will be sorry to have uttered, betray thoughts which he always meant to keep to himself, and when the discussion is over those words remain and the harm is done.

The moment a discussion takes too lively a form, one of the two should have enough self-control to stop adding fuel to it and remain silent, even at the risk of letting the other suppose that his (or her) arguments are unanswerable. Of course, this silence should be kind, discreet; not that odious silence of ill-assorted couples, which is a silence of disgust and hatred. If both man and wife are quick-tempered and unable to avoid a heated discussion, they should leave off at once; they should even separate and go, he to light a cigar in his library or in the garden, she to touch her piano or take up a novel, until both have forgotten all about it.

A mistake made by a great many married couples is to avoid speaking of money matters. But the most loving couples cannot altogether live on love and the air of the atmosphere; it is not given to all of them—in fact, it is given to only very few of them—to spend[Pg 156] without having to count. A man and a wife are two friends, two partners, who should constantly hold pleasant little committee meetings of two in order to discuss all matters of pecuniary interest and balance their budget of receipts and expenditure. Once a week at least, they should employ an hour in this way, hand in hand, like the best of friends. Thus it is that by mutual confidence each will encourage the other to think of the future, and little by little both will soon find themselves possessing the nucleus of a small fortune, in which they will take more and more interest, and which one day, to their surprise, will be found quite snug and bearing an interest that will add considerably to their annual revenue.

A married woman should never consent to receive so much a week for household expenses, so much a month for her dress, and to be treated, so to speak, as a dependent person. It should be left to her to decide whether, considering what the financial situation is, she can afford two new hats or one only. The suggestion, much less the order, should not come from her husband, but from herself.

I like the French system, where a man consults his wife in all important matters of financial interest, such as the investment of savings, etc.; but from the day she is married, the French wife begins to be taught by her husband the details of his profession or business, and the best and safest investments of the day, and she immediately and invariably is appointed by him[Pg 157] secretary of the treasury—among the masses of the people, anyway—and that is why I have not the least hesitation is asserting the fortune of France is so stable and steady. It is because, thanks to the influence of the wife, French families have their money invested in the safest Government securities. So long as they can work, they are satisfied with a very small interest for their capital, in order to be quite sure that when the days of rest will become a necessity, that capital will be there to keep them, if not in wealth, at all events in comfort and complete independence.

When married couples have nothing better to do, they should amuse themselves making all sorts of plans for the future. They should plan journeys to distant countries, build castles in the air, buy country houses, and consult each other and decide how they shall furnish them and lay out the grounds. These plans are like barricades—they mask the future; besides, they cause you amusement and cost nothing. And—who knows?—among those many plans perhaps there will be one of your predilections that you will actually be able to realize. What happens then? Plans are akin to caresses—they go together hand in hand; they are the gratuitous pleasures of sweet intimacy.

Young married people should avoid being too demonstrative, not only in public, but in private, in the[Pg 158] first years especially. They should constantly remember that they enter the state of matrimony with a certain capital of love. They must not squander that capital, but live on the interest of it only.

There are young people who too often feel the want of manifesting their love by exaggerated proofs of tenderness, such as the administration to each other of names of birds and pet quadrupeds, of showers of kisses, of little pats on the face. The exaggerated frequency of such acts produces a reaction, and often a slight sensation of enervation, that should never be born of caresses. And as these outward shows of love run the risk of diminishing in number and fervour, there is danger of their thus becoming a sign or a proof of decline in tenderness.

In public these demonstrations are ridiculous and vulgar; they put other people ill at ease, who smile and sneer, and even remark, 'They will soon get over it.'

[Pg 159]



To marry a beautiful woman for the mere love of her beauty is to undertake to dwell in a country that has a temperature of 100 in the shade without being provided with clothes that will enable you to stand a winter of 50 below zero when it comes.

In the relations between men and women it is, after all, beauty that makes woman particularly attractive to man. For this reason, the love of a man is more sensual, more jealous, than that of a woman, which is more affectionate, more confiding, and more faithful. As a rule, the passion of a husband goes on diminishing as that of his wife goes on increasing. A man exacts of his wife her first love; a woman exacts of her husband his last. Only the select few can manage their matrimonial affairs with such clever diplomacy as to make these different elements of happiness and sources of danger work together with success.

Married people would live more happily together if[Pg 160] they could now and then forget that they are tied together for life. Any little scene that may help them to forget it should be enacted by them.

Happiness in matrimony is more solid when it is founded on friendship through thick and thin than when it is merely on love.

In love a moment of bliss is nothing; it is only the morrow which purifies and sanctifies it. How many married couples would be happy if they would only think of the morrow!

The husband who knows how to always keep something in store for his wife has solved the great problem of happiness in matrimonial life.

Cupid introduces men and women into that enclosure which is called matrimony, and then discreetly and almost immediately retires. What a pity it is he does not make their acquaintance later, in order to remain with them for ever!

Marriages would be very much happier if women preferred marrying men who love them to those whom they love.

[Pg 161]

Matrimony would be a glorious institution if women would take as much care of themselves for their husbands as they do when they expect guests at their dinner-parties and receptions.

Women should devote all their best attentions to learning how to grow old in time and gradually, and in remembering that tears make them unattractive, and angry looks hideous.

One of the greatest dangers to happiness in matrimony is not want of love, but too much of it, at the beginning especially. Love dies of indigestion more quickly than of any other disease. Never satiate your wife—or your husband—with love. Do not live on £10,000 the first year of your married life, and be obliged to reduce your income by £1,000 or £2,000 every year. Begin gently, quietly, and let your revenue, like your love, slowly but steadily increase. There lies your only chance. With self-control you have it at your disposal.

All vocations require preparation and apprenticeship. Matrimony is the only one which men and women can enter into without knowing anything about it. Alas!

[Pg 162]



In matrimony it is not 'All is well that ends well'; it is 'All is well that begins well, but not too well.' Starting from this principle, I have often advised young husbands to control themselves, and to be careful to avoid putting all their smartest dialogue and strongest situations in the first act of the comedy of matrimony, for fear lest the interest should go on flagging steadily to the end.

I have advised them to see that their wives do not get their own way in everything at once, and not to make themselves their abject slaves, because, just as no government has ever been known to successfully suppress, or even reduce, any liberty or privilege previously granted to the people, just so will no husband be able to recover one inch of the ground he has surrendered if he capitulates on the threshold of matrimony.

In fact, let young husbands and young wives behave toward each other in such a way that their friends will not smile and say: 'Lovely, but too good to last, I'm afraid.'[Pg 163]

The dangers against which I have attempted to warn men exist for women—devoted, loving women who wish to start matrimony by trying to do the impossible in order to please their husbands, or, if not the impossible, at all events, what it may not be in their power to do for ever, or even for a long time.

One of these dangers is that of economy.

'My dear,' remarked a shrewd friend to a bride of a few weeks' standing, 'you will make a terrible mistake if you let your husband think that you can keep house on nothing.'

Young wives are sometimes pitifully anxious to be credited with remarkable cleverness as house-mistresses. The more they love their husbands, the less they like the idea of their toiling and moiling. Hence they are keenly anxious to prove themselves helpmeets in the literal sense of the word.

Not only will they name a far smaller sum as housekeeping money than their husbands can well afford to give them, but they will actually save out of that sum enough for their own clothes and petty cash expenses.

All this self-sacrifice is not only charming, but beautiful, when there is necessity for rigid economy. Young couples who wisely marry on small incomes, instead of wasting the sweetness of their youth over an endless engagement, must make a study of ways and means, and the wife who will cajole a shilling into doing duty for a five-shilling piece is a jewel beyond price.[Pg 164]

Again, when times are bad, when the bread-winner falls ill, and the treasury runs dry, there is no more pathetic and lovely sight than the brave little wife who struggles and succeeds in keeping the wolf out of the house.

But in instances where no serious demand of this kind need be made upon a wife's ingenuity, she is a very short-sighted woman indeed who does not see the dangers and realize the evils of overzealous economy.

There would be fewer complaints of marriages that result in the wife being merely an unpaid servant or housekeeper, who cannot give notice to leave, if brides began as they meant to go on, for no one save those who have lived through the process knows how difficult it is to introduce a new régime when once its opposite had been inaugurated and accepted.

'You said you would find £3 10s. a week ample a month ago. Why in the world do you want £5 now?' asks the husband, whose wife has been foolishly anxious to impress him with her cleverness as an economist, and finds she cannot keep up the farce beyond the limit of a few weeks.

Economy may be carried too far from choice. There are women who simply love saving. They neglect their intellectual life, and abandon all attempts to keep in the movement, all in order to grind down the weekly bills. No reward awaits them.

The women who believe themselves perfect because[Pg 165] they are economical, and consider the spring-cleaning of their house the greatest event of the year, grow old before their time, and are never the companions modern wives should be to their husbands.

Be good, but never overdo it, I will say to any woman who has the sense of humour.

[Pg 166]



When you are dining with an intimate friend, and an omelette au rhum is served, what do you do? Without any ceremony, you take a spoon, and, taking the burning liquid, you pour it over the dish gently and unceasingly. If you are careless, and fail to keep the pink and blue flame alive, it goes out at once, and you have to eat, instead of a delicacy, a dish fit only for people who like, or are used to have, their palates scraped by rough food. If you would be sure to be successful, you will ask your friend to help you watch the flame, and you will even ask him to lift the omelette gently so that the rhum may be poured all over it until the whole of the alcohol contained in the liquor is burned out.

This omelette au rhum is a fairly good symbol of matrimony.

In the earliest stage of married life the eggs have just been broken, beaten, and strewn with sugar, a light has been set, and everything is burning and perfectly beautiful. The young partakers of the matrimonial repast are intoxicated with their new life, their new emotions, their new sensations; they require no[Pg 167] indulgence toward each other, no special cleverness or diplomacy to please each other; there are no concessions to make—neither of them can go or do wrong; the flame burns of itself.

I do not mean to say that the flame can be kept burning for ever and ever—alas! no, not any more than life can be made to eternally animate your body. The flame must go out one day, as some illness must one day end your life. But, just as hygiene teaches how to keep our good health prolonged by precautions of all sorts, just so does common-sense, aided by diplomacy and skill, help us to keep alive the flame of love between the man and the woman who have kindled it.

And let no woman accuse me of manly conceit if I say that, clever and attentive as the man must be, the woman has to be more clever and attentive still, and that simply because it is a fact—an uncontradicted fact (call it psychological if you like, or physiological if you prefer)—that the love or passion of a woman goes on naturally increasing in married life, whereas that of a man goes on just as gradually and steadily decreasing.

In marriage the flame of love has been known to keep long alive through the intelligence of the wife, and even without any effort in that direction on the part of the husband; but the contrary has never been known to be successful.

Woman is a divine delicacy who has to tempt the appetite of man; but the most exquisite delicacy may become insipid if served every day with the[Pg 168] eternally same sauce. This is plain common-sense, and let me tell you this: that no married life (not one) has a shadow of chance to be happy for long unless the woman clearly understands and quickly realizes that, if moral duties are the same for men and women, Nature has made their temperaments absolutely different.

[Pg 169]



No coquetry in matrimony? Who is the Philistine who dares utter such blasphemy? Good heavens! if half the curling-pins, which are used by women at night in order to be beautiful the following day and attract the attention and admiration of strangers, were used by them in the morning, so that they might be beautiful the same day, and draw the attention and admiration of their husbands, there would be happiness in matrimony, and the world would go much better than it does.

The greatest, the most dangerous enemy of happiness in matrimony is habit which engenders monotony. You get too much accustomed to each other, and love fades, as a flower which falls off its stem before it has lived its natural life, owing to some insect which destroys it.

That insect in matrimony is habit, which devours everything without your being aware of its presence. Destroy that insect before it has had time to do any harm, and you will have saved your dual happiness.

A grave error committed by many women is to believe that they must look their best for the friends,[Pg 170] acquaintances and strangers who visit them, but that they need not take much trouble for their husbands.

But the fact is that a woman ought to ever appear before her husband at her very best, whether it is in a morning negligée or in a full afternoon or evening toilette.

Your husband, my dear lady, ought to see in you more than he could see in any other woman. All comparisons ought to be to your advantage. It is not at all necessary that you should have an expensive gown on at breakfast-time. Your hair well fixed, and a nice-fitting dressing-gown may make you look as attractive as a beautiful ball-dress.

It is not clothes that make a woman fascinating; it is the way she puts them on.

In fact, never allow yourself to be seen by your husband in any other state than that in which you would allow yourself to be seen by the male portion of your acquaintances, not even in illness. As long as your strength permit, remain coquettish and jealous of your appearance. Yes, I say, even on a sick-bed.

The part you have to play consists in spraying a perfume of poetry around you. Fill your husband with remembrances of you, so that, even when you are not visible, you are present before his eyes.

Allow him the most complete liberty, and never ask him questions on what he has done, where he has been.

Take it for granted that he has done nothing which he should not have done, that he has been nowhere[Pg 171] where he should not have been, and it is that perfect confidence which you show you have in him that will always keep him in the path of faithfulness, unless he is, which is only exceptional, an absolutely bad man.

If clouds are gathering over your happiness, it is for you women to clear them away. You are the guardian angels of the home, which is your kingdom. If you have trials, strain every nerve to appear smiling, and if sometimes tears stifle you, shed them in secret, even should the cause of your trial be the inconstancy of your husband.

You will not bring him back to you with reproaches, tears and scenes. You will thus keep him away for good. Remember that Nature, which has treated you so ungenerously, makes you ugly when you weep and hideous when you make a scene.

You will bring back an erring husband by your kindness, your sweetness, your devotion, and your intelligence. The only infallible way to get a husband attached to you is to let him believe that you never suspected him, much less accused him, even when he was guilty. Call to your aid whatever resources are at your disposal—resources of intelligence, of beauty, of abnegation—and, if your husband is not a brute, he will return to you, and he will be all the more ashamed of the way in which he neglected you for a time that, by your behaviour, you seem to consider he had never for a day ceased to love you.

Never make an allusion to the fatted calf which you[Pg 172] killed on the return of the prodigal heart. Be as merciful in your victory as you were in your temporary defeat.

Do not be satisfied with forgiving; forget, and make him forget everything. Use scales: on one side place his years of devotion to you, his industry, his forethought in securing your future and that of your children; on the other his faults; and even if these scales should incline to remain horizontal, with a gentle touch of your finger make them go down in favour of what he has done for you.

The supreme coquetry of a woman is to know how to reign, even when her husband governs. Her very weakness is the best weapon in her hands. Her husband should be the motive of all her actions. Before thinking of appearing beautiful to the indifferent, she should think of appearing beautiful to her husband.

If she is admired, she should feel proud of it for his sake, and make him understand that only crumbs are for strangers; that he alone is invited to the whole meal of her beauty, her love, her boundless devotion.

And let me add that there is not, in this chapter, a single word of advice which I give to women in their dealings with husbands which I do not endorse and give to men in their dealings with their wives.

[Pg 173]



According to characters and circumstances, resignation is the virtue of the weak or the virtue of the strong. A woman resigns herself to her fate in married life, sometimes because she has not enough strength of will, sometimes because she does not deign to revolt, oftener still because she discovers that her rebellion could only make matters worse for herself, and especially for her children.

If her husband is good, her resignation will soon bring him back to her; if he is bad, her rebellion will make him much worse.

If you cannot sympathize with your husband, or adopt his views and manner of thinking, resign yourself, keep your views for yourself, and do not transform your married life into an eternal French public meeting, where, instead of striking pebbles together in order to obtain light, they throw them at one another's faces.

Fulfil your duties. Never complain. Never exact what is not offered to you, unless it be respect. So long as your husband treats you with respect, at home as[Pg 174] well as in public; so long as he is the thoughtful father of your children, and carefully and industriously attends to his profession or business, respect him and inspire in your children the respect for him, and especially do not make your children the confidant of your grievances; that is your foremost duty.

I cannot say to you: Try to force yourself to love your husband. This is not in your power. But I will say: Be irreproachable, and thus make yourself the superior of your husband. Devote yourself to your family. If you are rich, do with your money all the good that you can. The greatest possession is self-esteem. You can rise so high that the offences committed against you may appear infinitely small. After all, we get in this world the place that we know how to make for ourselves.

Never let the outside public know the details of your private life. Receive your friends and your guests with a smile on your lips. If your husband is a gentleman, he will show you before them the greatest consideration, and if you are a lady you will treat him in a like manner.

If your husband is unable to offer you his love—I mean a lover's love—do not commit the mistake of refusing his friendship, for it is just possible that this man, who has not in him the power to love you as a lover, would still be ready to give his life for you.

He would certainly be still ready to give it for his children, your children. Surely that friendship is worth[Pg 175] having. Of course, the young wife, who discovers after only a few years of marriage that the dream of love has vanished, is to be pitied, supposing that it has not been through her fault that the dream has had such a short life; but the woman who for twenty or more years has had a faithful lover-husband is conceited and ridiculous beyond measure when she does not almost cheerfully resign herself to the inevitable crisis in matrimony; and if she has children that she takes in her confidence, and thus estranges from their father, her vanity is not very far from criminal. At all events, she deserves the sympathy of no one.

Resign yourself to the inevitable. Let the days of love, happiness, and devotion count in the final reckoning, and, in turning over a new leaf, be sure you bring forward devotion, and soon happiness may have to be added again.

Put on a cheerful face always, and remember that it pays to excite envy, never to excite pity.

[Pg 176]



There is more joy in heaven, we are told, for one sinner who repents than for a hundred righteous people who keep straight on the narrow ways of salvation.

And, I should add, there must be more joy in hell for one good man who goes wrong than for a hundred sinners who persevere in their wicked ways.

There should be more joy in the heart of a woman for a man who remains in love with her than for a hundred others whose admiration she may obtain.

There are some women who may love a man ever so much, and be loved by him to their hearts' content, who will use all their artillery to bring down strangers to their feet, but who will make little or no effort to look their best for the man who loves them and is devoted to them. For such women their beauty is an altar erected to unknown gods.

Married life would be an everyday bliss and an eternal one if men never thought of doing to or before their wives what they would never dream of doing to or before any ladies of their acquaintance, and, of course,[Pg 177] if women did the same; but such is not always, even often, the case. Hence the trouble.

How many men have taken their wives to a ball, women whose radiant beauty and brilliant toilettes have caused the admiration of all men present, and also the envy of many women?

How many men have felt that, if the said wives had made as much preparation for them as they had for all the strangers present at that ball, they could have fallen at their feet and worshipped them?

On returning home, however, Madame has immediately retired to her room, ordered her maid to quickly remove and pack away the lovely attire, and, an hour later, prepared for the night's rest, she appeared before her husband with her hair all prepared for the next day, her hands carefully gloved so that they may be as white as snow—also for the next day—and wrapped up and as inaccessible as a valuable clock that is going to be shipped to the other end of the world.

That is the lot of many men—may I not even say of most husbands? Then a bold husband will venture to make some remarks. He will say, 'Now, my dear, I hear you practise your scales and exercises, but seldom do you treat me to a piece of music, which I only hear when I have guests or we go out. Everyone—at the ball—has admired your beautiful hair and your lovely gown, but for me, all I see is hairpins and curlers and a dressing-gown.'

And Madame will answer more or less sourly, 'Is it[Pg 178] because I am your wife that I must grow ugly? Do you want my hair to fall over my neck and shoulders to-morrow like weeping willows? Do you want my hands to be red and chappy? Are you sorry I am careful of my clothes and have them put away, well folded in tissue-paper, when I have no need of them?

'Do you reproach me for doing you honour and being at the same time careful? Will you tell me, is there any way to please you? And do you think that, after enjoying herself and receiving compliments during a whole evening, it is very pleasant for a woman to return home and hear nothing but rebuffs, reproaches and the like?'

The poor man feels he is beaten, that he is a brute, and he says nothing more, until one night when it is time to retire, he prepares a surprise for his wife.

'What's all this?' exclaims the wife when she realizes what has happened.

'Nothing, dear,' he replies. 'To tell you the truth, I go hunting to-morrow morning, and I shall have to rise very early. My hunting-boots are new, and in the morning my feet are always a little swollen, so I keep them on to save trouble. You must excuse my spurs, too, dear, but I prefer these, which are fastened to the boots. I shall be most comfortable to-morrow.'

[Pg 179]



There are qualities which most women admire in men, and there are qualities which practically every man admires in all women; but if you were to ask of a hundred men, 'What is the ideal wife?' and of a hundred women, 'What is the ideal husband?' you would get a hundred opinions all different one from the other.

Quot capita, tot sensus, which, in the case of women, I should like to translate, 'So many pretty heads, so many different opinions.' This, however, is as it should be. Only there remains that terrible problem for every man and woman to solve: Find your ideal if you can, and when you think you have found it, see that you are not disappointed.

I have of late interviewed a good many Parisiennes on the subject, and I will give some of the answers which I have received.

One said to me: 'The ideal husband is the one who devotes his life to his wife, who makes her the first consideration in all his thoughts and acts, who understands that she is the aim of everything which he[Pg 180] undertakes, and that he should use all the resources that Nature has placed in his mind and Fortune has put in his hands in order that she may be happy and remain long beautiful.'

I need not say that this was the opinion of a young girl who had only just made her début in society. Nor do I need say that the following came from the lips of a married woman—one, however, whom I guarantee to be in the possession of all the womanly virtues likely to make a husband most satisfied with his lot.

'The ideal husband,' she said, 'is the one who lets his wife alone, who does not interfere with her household duties or any of her little womanly fads, who is not always paying her compliments or besieging her with advice, and who is not always by her side or behind her back, who seldom addresses her reproaches, and never reminds her of what he has done to deserve her gratitude, who is not fussy, fidgety, or a bore of a model of propriety and virtue.

'When I was a young girl I dreamed of matrimony as a sweet state of slavery. Now I shout for liberty—liberty for him and liberty for me. I do not mean to say, of course, that man and wife should live apart and not care one what the other does. No, no; but I firmly believe that we should remain at a respectful distance from the objects which we want to see to advantage and admire.

'A woman should never allow even the most loving and beloved of husbands to be constantly making love[Pg 181] to her. One may suffer from abundance of wealth. A great deal of discretion and a certain amount of respect between married people are sure to secure the duration and the solidity of their affection. Those who live at too close quarters are sure to part one day or the other.'

Here is another, with less philosophy, but a good deal of what I might call paradoxical psychology:

'The ideal husband,' said to me a woman married to a French painter on the road to celebrity, 'is the one who is not a man of genius. Nothing monopolizes a man like a great talent for writing, painting, or even business; he belongs to his muse, his art, or his figures. His thoughts are absorbed, and he has very few, if any, left for the little creature who lives with him, not in the clouds, but by his side on this earth.

'When he returns from his dreams, he throws at her—poor inferior being!—a glance of pity, if not of contempt. My ideal husband is a man who can live for me as I am ready to live for him, and who can do without a mistress, whether that mistress be called Literature, Art, or Commerce. I love great men, great poets, great painters or sculptors, but I would not have a great man for a husband; nay, furthermore, I should like to have a husband jealous of all the great men of my predilection in the world of fiction.'

A piquant little woman, not a bit beautiful, but absolutely charming and the embodiment of amiability and cheerfulness, said to me:[Pg 182]

'The ideal husband shall not be a handsome man, but a gentlemanly one, with a keen sense of humour, cheerful, a laughing philosopher, and a man with a magnanimous turn of mind, who would never take advantage of a little trouble in which I might find myself entangled to say to me, "I told you so," but get me out of it quickly.'

Of course, all my fair friends, without exception, have insisted on the ideal husband being indulgent, generous, manly, sincere, loyal, and above middle height. Strange to say that none of them ask him to be handsome, much less insist on it. One of them even went so far as to say:

'A husband should not be handsome. First of all he is never very beautiful, since he is a man. But he might be worse; he might think he is beautiful, and then Heaven help his wife!'

'The ideal husband,' remarked a lady, 'is a man who should never be ridiculous, never make a fool of himself, and never for a moment believe that women took notice of him. A woman's love may survive any defect in her husband, but ridicule never.'

The fact is that words or acts of a man ridiculous enough to make his wife wish she were a mile deep under the floor will lower him so much in her estimation that she will never be able to look up to him again; and no woman has ever been known to drop her love—she sends it up always. I will conclude with the opinion of an American lady:[Pg 183]

'The ideal husband should never part with any of his most refined manners in his home, where he should endeavour ever to appear at his best, in dress, language, and behaviour, in the presence of his wife, who is his queen.'

I expected as much from her supreme and magnificent majesty, Mrs. Jonathan, Queen of the United States.

[Pg 184]



It is said in England that, of all men who occupy high positions in professional life, judges are those who oftenest marry below their station.

Many are even said to have married impossible women, and on these women many amusing stories are related in the smoke-rooms of London clubs—stories which, I have no doubt, are of the se non è vero, è ben trovato type, and as faithful to truth as the stories that are told on the feet of the Chicago women or the intellect of the Boston girls.


However, it must be admitted that fools are not the only men who marry women that are greatly inferior to them in manner, education, and social standing; the cleverest men and the most aristocratic ones have often been known to do the same.

Dukes, marquises, and earls have married chorus-girls and shop-girls; great literary men and artists have married uneducated girls, and have led very happy lives with them. Of course, I pass over the aristocracy[Pg 185] who marry among the common people in order to get their coats of arms out of pawn. If they are poor and marry rich girls, you can hardly call this a case of mésalliance, since the superiority of birth in the man is compensated by the superiority of fortune in the woman.

Of course, mésalliances appeal to people, because they always suggest marriages for love, and novelists of all countries have worked this theme for all it is worth. In real life they very seldom work well, for the simple reason that matrimony places a man and a woman on absolutely equal footing, and that happiness for them, in the case of a mésalliance, is only possible on condition that one goes up to the level of the superior, or the other comes down to the level of the inferior.


Marriages that have the greatest chances of success are those in which the two partners bring the same amount of capital in social position, in education, in fortune, in character, and I will even add in stature and in physical beauty, with perhaps a slight—a very slight—superiority to the credit of the man in all these conditions, except that of beauty, which is an attribute that woman can possess in any degree without making the happiness of her husband and herself run any risk.

Mrs. Hodgson Burnett, in one of her novels, makes a barrister fall in love with a girl who works in the coal-mines of Lancaster (another case of the legal profession[Pg 186] going wrong). The man has the girl sent to school to learn manners and get educated, then marries her, and all is smooth ever after.

I have heard of this being done in real life with less success. The behaviour of the man in a case like this should create gratitude in the heart of the woman, and gratitude does not engender love. On the contrary, Cupid is a little fellow so fond of his liberty and so wilful that anything that tends to influence him—worse than that, to force him—has on him the contrary effect to that which should be expected.

Yet, I say, it is the only way to bring an uneducated woman to the level of an educated man—before matrimony. After marriage the woman is acknowledged, proclaimed the equal of her husband, and she will stand no hint as to her being inferior to her husband in any way.

If she loves him and is not conceited, any act on his part, however kindly performed, that would suggest to her that she might improve herself in language, behaviour, etc., would cause her unhappiness and even pangs of anguish.

If, on the other hand, she did not love him and was conceited, or even only of an independent character, she would soon give him a piece of her mind on the subject of her improvements, and let him hear the great typical phrase of democracy, 'I'm as good as you.'

[Pg 187]


No, no; he must put up with the situation, and make the best of it. In that case men console themselves with the thought that their wives are pretty, or that they are good housekeepers, good cooks. After all, a man gets married to please himself, not for what the world has to say of his wife.

Still, you have to succeed in the world, and if you despise the opinion of the world the world turns its back on you. And you must remember this: however big you are, or you think you are, the earth can go on running its course round the sun without your help.

French and American women have a keen power of observation and native adaptability. Better than any other women in the world, they can soon adapt themselves to new surroundings and new ways, and learn how to talk, walk, dress, and behave like the leading women of any new social circles they may have entered. Witness the American women that are to be seen at the courts of Europe.

However, the experiment of a mésalliance is always a dangerous one to make. Nine times out of ten the rabbit will always taste of the cabbage it was brought up on.

[Pg 188]



I'll tell you what the trouble is with most women in connection with matrimony—they expect too much out of it. Not only do they expect too much, but, in their goodness, they prepare themselves to do too much, to give too much; in fact, they overtrain themselves.

The moment a woman is in love and becomes a fiancée she cultivates the growing of her wings, and orders a halo for her head—in fact, she sets herself to rehearse the part of an angel.

But see the 'cussedness' of things! Man is a strange animal, who prefers women to angels, and the result is that things go wrong. The dear soul is persuaded that she is going to marry a hero, a demi-god, and very soon she discovers that, after all, she has married only a man. How few of us can stand comfortably and long on the pedestals that our admiring friends have erected for us!

When that woman engaged herself she did not go straightway to her parents, as she should have done, and ask them for information on man and matrimony. Her[Pg 189] father might have gently disabused her on the subject of many illusions. Certainly her mother would. No, she did not do that. She kept to herself, read poetry, invented poetry, filled herself with poetry.

Boys dream of military life. To them it means gorgeous uniforms, a sword, a life of adventure, battle and glory. Girls dream of married life. To them it means beautiful dresses and jewels and a life of love-making. But soldiers do not always fight, and husbands do not always make love, and that is why military life and married life are often so sadly disappointing.

The dear little woman has prepared herself to be loving and devoted every minute of her life. She has stored provisions of all the best resolutions and virtues under the sun and above. She arrives in her new home ready to yield in everything, even ready to run the house and dress on nothing a year. How she loves that man! Her whole being is given up to love. By-and-by she discovers that the most loving couples require one or two meals a day, and that fig-leaves are much more expensive than they were when they were first worn. Her husband, who, like all men, is an idiot as far as the knowledge of housekeeping is concerned, begins to grumble when she asks for a reasonable sum to allow her to keep things going decently. Remarks pass, lectures are delivered, faces frown, and frowning faces don't go well with halos.

Why will young girls leave it to their imagination to find out what married life is? Why do they not[Pg 190] consult and listen to the advice of married lady friends, choosing those who are happy, of course?

They would hear the voice of common-sense.

'If you want your husband to love you and be happy, my dear,' some old stager will tell her, 'follow Punch's advice—feed the brute. Never expect him to be loving while he is hungry. The way to his heart is through the portion of his anatomy that lies just under it.'

Another will say to her: 'Don't start married life by keeping your house on nothing a year, because your husband will find it quite natural, and will get used to it.'

Let that girl frankly confess to her sweetheart that she is not an angel, and the probability is that, if he is a man, he will say to her: 'Never mind the angels, dearie; be a woman: that's quite good enough for me.'

[Pg 191]



'Are you married?' once asked an English magistrate of an actress who had been summoned for assault. She had flung a pot of cold cream in the face of her manager.

'No, sir,' replied the lively lady, 'nor do I wish to be.'

'That is fortunate for your husband,' remarked the judge, who probably had Irish blood in his veins.

The actress—I do not mean the mere woman on the stage—is made by her profession unfit for matrimony. If she is fit for it, she is not, and never will be, a great actress.

I know that you will at once tell me that Mr. and Mrs. Kendal and Mr. and Mrs. Cyril Maude (Winifred Emery) have been married a good many years and lived most happy lives together. I even imagine that you will easily be able to name others, but I will still maintain that they are only exceptions, and you will please remark that in the exceptions I have named the husbands have, as actors, quite as high a reputation as[Pg 192] their wives, which may be the very explanation of those exceptions.

The actress is a heroine, partly owing to the rôles that she plays, and partly to the talent which she displays in them, and no heroine can be a good wife to a man unless he be a hero himself. A woman can never drop her love, and she never does; she gives it only to a man she can look up to.

But there are a great many other reasons. An actress wants perfect freedom of action. She cannot be bothered by household duties, hampered by the bringing up of children, mindful of the attentions required, or at least expected, by a husband.

Her soul and her very nervous system have to be stirred by the whole gamut of sentiments, sensations, and even passions, or she will never be able to stir the soul of her audience.

Can you imagine Lady Macbeth, Camille, Fedora, Phedre, La Tosca, Brunnehilde, played by young innocent virgins or by attentive and devoted wives who mend their husbands' stockings and make the puddings? Perhaps you will tell me that Mrs. Kendal does all that, and if you do, my reply will be, 'Will you please leave me alone with Mrs. Kendal?'

However, since we have mentioned the name of that great actress, I will quote her, and repeat what she said to me one day: 'It is a general rule with me never to engage married couples in my company; whenever I have done so I have had trouble. I want both men and[Pg 193] women to act in my plays without having to mind what their wives or husbands may look like in the wings while they are making love on the stage.'

The husband of an actress is nine times out of ten an intolerable bore. He is jealous when she rehearses, he is jealous when she plays, he is jealous when the audience applauds her, he is jealous when she receives bouquets, he is jealous and suspicious if the manager increases her salary, he is jealous during the intervals, he makes scenes to her when she returns home, and, if he does not, he sulks, which is worse, because the man who consumes his own smoke is far less bearable than the one who 'has it out' and has done with it. Even if he is not all that, he has that feeling, which we can quite understand, that his wife belongs to the authors of the play, to the manager of the theatre, to the public, to the critics—in fact, to everybody except himself.

No, actresses should certainly not marry unless they marry actors, but as a rule they do not, and will not.

The actor may be a hero to the susceptible matinée girl, who sees him as Othello, Hamlet, Romeo, Henry V., d'Artagnan, or some other romantic swashbuckler, but he is no hero to the woman who dwells in the dressing-room next to his, and who knows that he is putting on his wig, smearing his face with grease-paint, making-up his eyes, and covering his face with violet-powder with a puff, which he handles in ladylike manner. The actor loses in the eyes of an actress all the prestige which is[Pg 194] due to mystery and imagination, and which constitutes the primary and fundamental element of the attraction of one sex for the other. I have never met actresses of standing who had admiration for actors as men, much as they might praise them as members of their profession.

Ninety-nine times out of a hundred the marriage of an actress is a mistake, a remorse, or an act of folly. An actress, in order to interpret the works of dramatists, should love, love passionately, dream, suffer even terribly, in order to be able to incarnate love, voluptuousness, suffering, and despair. The drama is the reflection of humanity; the art of the actress should be the reflection of all the different passions that have stirred her own heart and soul.

Another thing: The public takes a greater personal interest in a woman who is not married than in one who is. Actresses know this so well that, when they are married, they insist on having their names put on the bills as Miss So-and-So. When they do not, managers make them do it.

For art's sake, for her own sake, and, remembering the remark of the magistrate, I will add, for her husband's sake, an actress should not marry.

[Pg 195]



There is quite a boom in the French matrimonial market just at present, and not marriages of convenience either, but real good love matches. Young girls elope with respectable young men holding good positions in order to compel their parents to give their consent. Sons now inform their fathers and mothers that they have, without their help or even their meddling, chosen wives for themselves. It is an open state of rebellion against the old state of affairs in France.

Hitherto there were practically only two kinds of marriages among the upper classes and the good bourgeoisie of France: the marriage of convenience from which love was excluded, and the marriage for love, which, nine times out of ten, was a mésalliance. And, to do justice to the old system, let me say that, as a rule, the marriages of convenience turned out to be much happier than mésalliances, which generally consisted in marrying mistresses—that is to say, according to Balzac, in changing tolerably good wine into very sour vinegar. However, in these marriages of convenience, arranged by families, the social position of[Pg 196] the bridegroom and the dot of the bride were the first considerations, and these couples, after being married, often discovered they were made one for the other, and more than one husband won his wife by courting, and really fell in love with her. In cases of mésalliance, after the hours of passion had gone, the husband discovered that all his prospects in life were destroyed through being married to a woman he would never be able to make acceptable to the people of the set he belonged to, and often despair followed disgust, for woe to married people if either of them has the slightest cause for being ashamed of the other!

But things are being changed, and a splendid sign of the times it is, too. Young Frenchmen now seek wives among the families of their own stations in life, court them, and make up their minds to marry them, and, what is best of all, parents begin to realize that, after all, it is their sons, and not themselves, who marry, and that it is they who should make their choices.

I believe that this new state of things, which I hope, for my country, will last, and even yet improve, is greatly due to the influence of the Anglo-Saxons, English and Americans, whose freedom in matrimonial matters is getting more and more familiar to the French through reading and travelling.

Like the Anglo-Saxons, they begin to see the practical side of matrimony. The young Frenchman says to himself: 'I do not send my father to my tailor to choose the clothes I am to wear, and I do not see why[Pg 197] I should allow him to go and choose for me the girl I am to marry.'

There are other reasons which may also be due to the ever-increasing influence of Anglo-Saxon manners and customs on France. The French girl is every day getting freer. She is no longer cloistered, as it were, at home and at school. She now frequents the society of young men, gets better acquainted with them, and on more intimate terms than before. She is more independent, feels more confidence in herself, knows more of life than before, and the consequence is that she is better able to provoke the love which she desires to inspire in a man of her choice.

There may also be an economical reason which incites young Frenchmen to seek love in matrimony instead of outside of it. They have been observing their elders, and come to the right conclusion that real love and respectable women are much more within their means than sham love and disreputable women. A charming companion, who is at the same time a sweet mistress and counsellor, a careful housekeeper and a devoted wife, appears to them in her true light—the best article in the market. Besides, they realize that the man who is married has a social advantage over the one who is not. The man who marries a girl of his own society can now explain that he married her simply because he loved her, without thinking that he has to apologize for his action by mentioning what a good stroke of business he has made.[Pg 198]

Most men of the preceding generation avoided matrimony as they would have avoided ridicule. The part of husband and father struck them as unpleasant and too petit bourgeois. Literature and the drama helped to fill them with this notion; but now literature and the drama are getting optimistic. We are getting over the period of problem novels and plays, in which all the morbid diseases of the heart were dissected. The heroes of novels and plays begin to get married without ceasing to be interesting, and the result is that the present generation of France is getting more healthy and more cheerful. This is most hopeful for France, for the regeneration seems to take place in every class of society. The friends of France will rejoice in this evolution. I have always maintained, and still maintain, that it is the educational system that explains the prosperity of the Anglo-Saxon race, and that absolute freedom for men to marry the women they love explains its strength and its marvellous vitality.

[Pg 199]



Don't smile. If there is a love absolutely beautiful, almost holy, it is love with white hair. If conjugal tenderness deserves at all the name of love, it is at that time of life when it becomes idealized and purified. If two hearts can, in this world, beat in perfect unison, it is the two hearts of old married couples united by a whole life of tender intimacy. Love, in getting old, does not become repulsive—like an old beau, who, with dyed hair and moustache perfumed, thinks he can pass for a handsome young man. In those kisses, which are no longer given on the lips, but, with sweet reverence, are discreetly given on the hand or on the forehead, in the effusions of an old married couple, I see the most profound and most holy of human tenderness.

They are no more lovers, but they are friends who cannot for a single moment forget that they were lovers, and who spend the winter of their lives in sweet remembrance of the beautiful spring, the glorious summer, and the restful, sober autumn they enjoyed together.

This final sublime love may be rare, but it does exist; it is the reward of concessions made and of faults[Pg 200] forgiven; the reward of cheerfulness, the result of long years spent together, sharing the same joys, the same sorrows, and the same dreams. Tactful, refined, they are at this very moment as thoughtful as they ever were before. Each one is the first consideration in the world to the other. The refinement of their courtesy to each other is a constant avowal of the esteem they feel; in their old intimacy they keep the same scruples, the same delicacy as they did in the first days of their married life. They do not call each other 'love,' 'darling,' not even, perhaps, by their Christian names, but 'dear friend'—and they lay on 'dear' an emphasis that shows how sincere the expression is.

I tell you that there is no love in which you can find as much poetry as in the love of those dear couples who for forty or fifty years have walked side by side loving, respecting, helping each other, dreaming, praying, suffering together, and whose actions, words, and thoughts have each added an item to that treasure which they can now count piece by piece. This long community of hearts, this habit of sharing everything, has even established between them a physical likeness which would almost cause you to take them for brother and sister rather than for man and wife.

And how children do love these dear old couples! how they feel attracted toward them! There is a wonderful affinity between very old people and very young children. Both are alike in many ways: the former have lost their strength, the latter have not yet got[Pg 201] theirs. The world goes in a circle, and at the end of his career the old man meets the child. They have sympathy for each other, they understand each other, and the past and the future are the best of friends. Old people play with children with their hearts and souls in absolute earnest, without any of those signs of condescension which children are so quick to detect and to resent; and I am not prepared to say that the young children enjoy the play more keenly than do the old ones.

Oh, if people would early prepare to become old, what pleasures would be kept in store for them!

In the peaceful winter of a well-spent life, love with white hair is an evening prayer that soars to the abode of the seraphs.

[Pg 203]

[Pg 202]





It would do most of us a great deal of good to always keep in mind, or to be now and then reminded of it, lest we should forget it, that, when we are gone, the earth will not stop, but will continue her course around the sun. No one is indispensable in this world.

In order to be successful, the cruet-stand should be used with a great deal of discretion: a little salt always, never any pepper, vinegar very sparingly, and oil always in plenty.

Never in your dealings with a man let him suppose that you take him for a fool. If he is not one, he will appreciate your consideration; and if he is one, he will go about singing your praises. Either way, you will[Pg 204] probably win; at any rate, you can't lose, and that's something.

When you have seen a man enjoying himself telling you a story, never tell him that you have heard that story before, and, above all, never tell him that you know a much better version of it, and proceed with it.

Remember that the acknowledged best conversationalists are those who have the reputation of being good listeners. You will be called brilliant according to the way in which you will give others a chance to shine.

People who tell you all the good things that are said of you teach you nothing new. Listen to criticism, especially that which is fair and kind; then you may learn something and profit by it.

When there is something nasty said about you in a newspaper, you never run the slightest risk of not seeing it. There is always a friend, even at the Antipodes, who will post it to you, well marked in blue pencil at the four corners. He takes an interest in you, and feels that the paragraph may not do you any harm in the way of antidote. It doesn't.

[Pg 205]

When you hear that a man has taken such and such a resolution, take it for granted, when you feel ready to criticise him, that you are not the only person in the world who knows what he is about.

The most valuable gift of nature to man is not talent, not even genius, but temperament and character. If you have both talent and character, the world will belong to you, if you succeed in making talent the servant, and not the master, of your character.

The successful man is not the one who seeks opportunities, but the one who knows how to seize them by the forelock when they present themselves. The great diplomatist is not the one who creates events, but the one who foresees them and knows best how to profit by them.

A man may be very clever without being very successful. This happens when he has more talent than character; but when a man is very successful, never be jealous of him, for you may take it for absolutely granted that he possesses qualities which account for his success.

Envy is the worst of evils, the one that pays least, because it never excites pity in the breast of anyone, and because it causes you to waste lots of time concerning[Pg 206] yourself about other people's business instead of spending it all minding your own.

Watch your children most carefully, for when they are ten or twelve years of age you may detect in them signs of defects, or even vices, which, if developed, instead of checked at once, may prove to be their ruin.

The key to success in life is the knowledge of value of all things.

It often requires a head more solidly screwed on the shoulders to bear a great success than to stand a great misfortune.

The knowledge of the most insignificant thing is worth having.

[Pg 207]



It would be absurd to say that there is no such thing as luck. Of course, there is luck, and fortunate is the man who knows how to seize it at once by the forelock.

For instance, it is luck to be born handsome, strong, and healthy; it is luck to be born rich, or of generous parents who spend a little fortune in giving you a first-class education.

What is absurd, however, is to say that you are always unlucky. You cannot always be unlucky any more than you can always be lucky. When a man says to you, 'I am pursued by bad luck,' or, 'This is my usual bad luck,' you know that he is lazy, quarrelsome, unreliable, foolish, or a drunkard.

You may be unlucky at piquet a whole evening—even, though seldom, a whole week; but if you go on playing a whole year every day, you will find that, out of 365 games, you have won about 180 and lost about 180. I take it for granted, of course, that you are as good a player as your opponent.

There is no more constant luck or constant bad luck[Pg 208] in life than there is at cards, but there is such a thing as good playing with either a good or bad hand, and in life such a thing as making the best of fortunate and unfortunate occurrences. A man is bound to have his chance, and his 'luck' consists in knowing how to avail himself of it.

Practically every officer has had a chance to distinguish himself one way or the other, and therefore to be noticed by his chiefs and obtain promotion. Every artist has seen something which may reveal his talent, his genius, if he has any. Every good actor is bound to come across a part which may make his fortune.

The same may be said of literary men and journalists. Every man in business, if he keeps a sharp look-out, has a chance for a good investment that will be the nucleus of his fortune if he knows how to watch and nurse it carefully. What most men call bad luck is not that chance does not present itself to them, but simply that they let it go by and miss it.

If you want to be lucky in life, force luck and make it yourself. Believe in yourself, and others will believe in you.

Rise early, be punctual, reliable, honest, economical, industrious, and persevering, and, take my word for it, you will be lucky—more lucky than you have any idea of.

Never admit that you have failed, that you have been beaten; if you are down, get up again and fight on.[Pg 209] Frequent good company, be sober, constantly take advice, and refrain from giving any until you have been asked for it. Be cheerful, amiable, and obliging. Do not show anxiety to be paid for any good turn you may have the chance of doing to others. When you have discovered who your real friends are, be true to them, stick to them through thick and thin.

Do not waste time regretting what is lost, but prepare yourself for the next deal. Forget injuries at once; never air your grievances; keep your own secrets as well as other people's; get determined to succeed, and let no one, no consideration whatever, divert you from the road that leads to the goal; let the dogs bark and pass on. According to the way you behave in life, you will be your greatest friend or your bitterest enemy. There is no more 'luck' than that in the world.

[Pg 210]



'Leave well enough alone,' as the English say, is a piece of advice which may be followed with benefit in many circumstances of life.

How many excellent pictures have been spoiled by the finishing touch! How often have I heard art critics, after examining a beautiful portrait, exclaim, 'H'm, léché!' Well, I cannot translate that French art expression better than by 'Too much retouched—too well finished!' This is a fault commonly found in women's portraits.

How many fortunes have been lost because people, instead of being satisfied with reasonable profits, waited for stocks to go still higher, and got caught in a financial crash!

Even in literature I see sad results, when authors follow too closely that principle laid down by Boileau for the elaboration of style: 'Polish and repolish it incessantly.'

Alas! how many stilted lines are due to the too strict obedience to this advice! What is too well finished often becomes far-fetched and unnatural.[Pg 211]

How many sauces have been spoiled by cooks trying to improve what was already very good!

How many wings have been singed for not knowing how to keep at a respectful distance from the fire or the light!

No doubt there is such a thing as perfection; but who is perfect and what is perfect in this world, except that ineffable lady who, some weeks ago, took me severely to task for having written an article in which I advised my readers to be good, but not to overdo it?

The firmaments are perfect, some flowers are perfect, but these are not the work of man. Nature herself seems to have divided her gifts so as to have no absolute perfection in her creatures. The nightingale has song, but no plumage; the peacock has plumage, but his voice makes you stop your ears.

And the women! Well, yes, the women—let us speak of them.

Which of us, my dear fellow-men, has not admired a woman of ours whose toilet was finished? We thought she looked beautiful then, we admired her, and we put on our gloves proudly, saying:

'She is coming.' Yet she did not come. True, her hat was on and fixed when we saw her, and we thought that she was ready. Not a bit of it. She was not.

After she has finished dressing, and is absolutely ready to go out, she will begin to fret and potter about[Pg 212] in her room for another hour. She goes from looking-glass to looking-glass. That is the time when she thinks of the finishing touches.

She pulls her hat a little more to the right, then a little more to the left, in order to ascertain how that hat can be improved. She touches and retouches her hair.

Her complexion is beautiful, a natural rosy pink, for which she ought to return thanks, all day long, to the most generous and kind Nature who gave it to her. But, at the last moment, she thinks that this, too, might be improved.

So she rubs her cheeks and puts more powder on them. The rubbing makes her cheeks so red that she has to subdue the colour. She works and works, and now takes it into her head that, being warm, her nose must be shining.

She takes the puff and puts powder on it. An hour before she was a woman who, in your eyes at all events, could not very well be improved.

Now she is ready, and emerges from her apartment. Her hair is undone behind and ruffed in front, her hat is too straight, and her face looks made-up. The rubbing has changed her lovely pink complexion into a sort of theatrical purple red.

You feel for her, because, being very proud of her complexion, you do not want your friends—you do not want anybody—to say: 'Oh, she is made-up.' And you own that she looks it, and altogether she[Pg 213] does not look half so well as she did when she had finished dressing, and had not begun the finishing touches.

Beware, ladies! Many a most beautiful woman has been spoiled by the finishing touches.

[Pg 214]



Real sorrow is no more expressed by the correctness of a mourning attire and the despair written on a face than true religious fervour is expressed by the grimaces that are made at prayer-time.

Just as we are told in the Gospel to look cheerful and not to frown and make faces when we pray, just so, I believe, those who have gone before us would advise us not to advertise the sorrow we feel at their loss, but keep it in restraint, and not surround ourselves, and especially not compel those who are living with us to be surrounded, with gloom.

The outward signs of sorrow are often exaggerated and not uncommonly nothing but acts of selfishness. The memory of the departed is better respected by control over the most sincere sorrow, and children, young ones especially, who cannot at their age realize the loss they have sustained, have a right to expect to be brought up in that cheerfulness which is the very keynote of the education of children.

The real heroine is the woman who leaves her grief in her private apartments and appears smiling and[Pg 215] cheerful before her children. The best way to serve the dead is to live for the living. There is no courage in the display of sorrow; there is heroism in the control of it.

Great hearts understand this so well that many of them, like the late Henry Ward Beecher, desire in their wills that none of their relatives should wear mourning at their death. There is a great difference between being in mourning and being in black, and I often suspect that the more in black a person is the less in mourning he or she is.

To be able to attend minutely to all the details of a most correct mourning attire almost shows signs of recovery from the depth of the sorrow.

But even when our sorrow is deeply felt and perfectly sincere is it not an act of selfishness on our part to impose it, to intrude it, on others—even on our nearest relatives?

I admire the Quaker who, quietly, without attracting the attention of anyone at table, silently says grace before taking his meal.

How favourably he compares with the host who invites every one of his guests to bend their heads, and to listen to him while he delivers a long recital of all the favours he has received from a merciful God, and of all the favours he expects to receive in the future!

The first is a Christian, the second a conceited Pharisee. There is as much selfishness in an exaggerated display of sorrow as there is in any act that[Pg 216] is indulged in in order to more or less command admiration.

The truly brave and courageous people are modest in their countenance; the truly religious are tolerant and forgiving; the truly great are forbearing, simple, and unaffected; the truly sorrowful remember that their griefs are personal; before strangers they are natural and even cheerful, and before their children they are careful to appear with cheerful and smiling faces.

After all, the greatest virtue, the greatest act of unselfishness, is self-control. Sorrow gives man the best opportunity for the display of this virtue.

[Pg 217]



A woman's prerogative, it is said, is the right of changing her mind. How is it that she so rarely avails herself of it when she is wrong?

It should be the prerogative of a man also. 'What is a mugwump?' once asked an American of a Democrat. 'It's a Republican who becomes a Democrat,' was the answer. 'But when a Democrat becomes a Republican, what do you call him?' 'Oh, a d—— fool!' quickly rejoined the Democrat.

We forgive people for changing their opinions only when they do so to espouse our views, otherwise they are, in our eyes, fools, scoundrels, renegades, and traitors.

To my mind the most dignified, praiseworthy, manly act of a man is to change his opinions the moment he has become persuaded that they are wrong. To acknowledge to be in the wrong is an act of magnanimity. To persist in holding views that one knows to be wrong is an act of cowardice. To try to impose them on others is an act of indelicacy. The successful man is the opportunist who does what he thinks to be right at the[Pg 218] moment, whatever views he may have held on the subject before.

When, in full Parliament, Victor Hugo and Lamartine declared that they ceased to be Royalists, and immediately went to take their seats on the Opposition benches, their honesty and manliness deserved the applause they received.

Gladstone, who died the greatest leader of the Liberal party, began his political life as a Tory Member of Parliament. Disraeli, Earl of Beaconsfield, who for years was the chief of the Tory party, began his public career as Radical member for Maidstone.

Mr. Joseph Chamberlain, to-day practically the leader of the Conservative party, not only was an advanced Radical, but a Republican. Up to about eighteen years ago, the comic papers never failed to represent him with a Phrygian cap on.

Every man can be mistaken in politics as well as in science, just as he can for a long time be mistaken in his friends.

The more you study, the more independence of mind you acquire. Events take a new aspect, and strike you in a different light. With age, judgment becomes more sober: you weigh more carefully the pros and cons of all questions, and you often arrive at the conclusion that what you honestly believed to be right is absolutely wrong. And it is your duty to abide by your conclusions.

The greatest crimes in history were committed by[Pg 219] irreconcilable men who lacked moral courage and dared not admit that they were not infallible. Philip II. of Spain was one.

That irreconcilable Imperialist, M. Paul de Cassagnac, wrote the other day: 'When a statesman, a leader of men, perceives that he has made a mistake, he has only one thing left for him to do: disappear altogether from the scene, for, having deceived himself, he has been guilty of deceiving others.'

The aim of man—of the leader of men especially—is to seek truth at any price.

Some men proudly say at the top of their voices: 'I swear by the faith of my ancestors, what I thought at twenty I think now. I have never changed my opinions, and, with God's help, will never change them.'

Those men believe themselves to be heroes; they are asses, and if they are leaders of men, they are most dangerous asses.

To live and learn should be the object of every intelligent man whose eyes are not blinded by conceit or obstinacy.

[Pg 220]



Pascal once said that if Cleopatra's nose had been half an inch shorter the face of the world would have been changed. If we read history, or even only use our own recollections, we can get up an interesting and sometimes amusing record of more or less important events which are entirely due to chance or most insignificant incidents.

To begin with my noble self. On August 30, 1872, I went to the St. Lazare station in Paris to catch a train to Versailles. At the foot of the stairs I met a friend whom I had not seen for a long time. He took me to the café, and there, over a cup of coffee, we chatted for half an hour. I missed my train; but fortunately for me I did, for that train which I was to have caught was a total wreck, and thirty lives were lost in the accident.

A lady whom I knew many years ago once eloped with a young man she had fallen in love with. Now, this was very wicked, because she was married. It was on a cold December day. When both arrived at the hotel where they were going to stay, they found no fire[Pg 221] in their apartment, and ordered one to be made at once. While this was going on they both caught a cold, and were seized with an endless fit of sneezing. They thought that they looked so ridiculous—well, the lady did, at any rate—that she ordered her trunk to be taken to the station immediately. She caught the next train to Paris, and never did I hear that she was guilty of any escapade ever after. But for that fire that was not lit, all would have been lost.

At the inquest which a few days ago was held over the body of Mrs. Gore, the American lady who was shot accidentally while in the room of her Russian friend, it was discovered that the bullet had struck the eye without even grazing the eyelid. The experts came to the conclusion that if she had been murdered, or had committed suicide, she would have blinked, and her eyelids would have been touched by the bullet. But for this marvellous occurrence, the young Russian would have been tried for murder, and perhaps found guilty.

An Australian of my acquaintance some years ago wrote to his broker ordering him to sell 500 shares in the Broken Hill Mining Company. The servant to whom the letter was given mislaid it, and only screwed up his courage to tell his master two days later. In the meantime the shares had gone up, and, so seeing, the Australian waited a little longer before selling. Then came the boom. Two months after the day on which he had ordered his broker to sell the 500 shares at 40s. apiece these shares were worth £96. He sold, and[Pg 222] through the carelessness of his servant became a rich man. This is luck, if you like.

The late Edmond About, the famous French novelist, came out first of the Normale Supérieure School. As such he was entitled to be sent to the French school at Athens for two years before being appointed professor in some French Faculty. About had a humorous turn of mind. Instead of studying ancient Greece at Athens, he studied the modern Greeks. After his two years he returned with the manuscripts of two books, 'Contemporary Greece' and 'The Mountain King,' which were such successes that he immediately resigned his professorship to devote his time to literature. If, instead of coming out first, he had come out second, he would never have been sent to Athens, and About would probably have spent his life as a learned Professor of Greek or Latin at one of our Universities.

[Pg 223]



'When my next birthday comes,' once said to me Oliver Wendell Holmes, 'I shall be eighty years young.' And he looked it—young, cheerful, with a kind, merry twinkle in his eyes.

'And,' I said to him, 'to what in particular do you attribute your youth? To good health and careful living, I suppose?'

'Well, yes,' he replied, 'to a certain extent, but chiefly to a cheerful disposition and invariable contentment, in every period of my life, with what I was. I have never felt the pangs of ambition.'

'You needn't,' I remarked. 'The most ambitious man would have been content with being what you have been—what you are.'

'Happiness, which has contentment for its invariable cause, is within the reach of practically everyone,' the amiable doctor asserted. 'It is restlessness, ambition, discontent, and disquietude that make us grow old prematurely by carving wrinkles on our faces. Wrinkles do not appear on faces that have constantly smiled.[Pg 224] Smiling is the best possible massage. Contentment is the Fountain of Youth.'

That same evening he was the guest at a banquet given by a Boston club, to which I had been kindly invited. When he rose to make a speech, they cheered and applauded to the echo. His face was radiant, beautiful. After he sat down, I said to him:

'Are you not tired of cheers and applause, after all these years of triumphs?'

'No,' he replied; 'they never cheer loud enough, they never applaud long enough to please me.'

Oliver Wendell Holmes was right; he had found the key to happiness.

The philosophers of all ages have deservedly condemned that universal discontent and disquietude which runs through every rank of society and degree of life as one of the bitterest reproaches of human nature, as well as the highest affront to the Divine Author of it.

If we look through the whole creation, and remark the progressive scale of beings as they rise into perfection, we shall perceive, to our own shame, that every one seems satisfied with that share of life that has been allotted to it, man alone excepted. He is pleased with nothing, perpetually repining at the decrees of Providence, and refusing to enjoy what he has, from a ridiculous and never-ceasing desire for what he has not.

He is ambitious, restless, and unhappy, and instead of dying young at eighty, dies old at forty. He misses[Pg 225] happiness which is close at hand all his lifetime. The object which is at a distance from him is always the most inviting, and that possession the most valuable which he cannot acquire. With the ideas of affluence and grandeur he is apt to associate those of joy, pleasure, and happiness.

Because riches and power may conduce to happiness, he hastily concludes that they must do so. Alas! pomp, splendour, and magnificence, which attend the great, are visible to every eye, while the sorrows which they feel escape our observation. Hence it arises that almost every condition and circumstance of life is considered preferable to our own, that we so often court ruin and do our very best to be unhappy.

We complain when we ought to be thankful; we weep when we ought to rejoice; we fidget and fret. Instead of smiling, which keeps the cheeks stretched and smooth, we frown, which keeps them contracted and engraves wrinkles on them.

Instead of looking at the rosy side of things, which makes the eyes clear and bright, we run after the impossible or the unlikely to happen, which makes us look gloomy. In short, I may say that old age is of our own make, for youth is placed at our disposal for ever and ever.

[Pg 226]



The organs of man are like the works of a clock. If they are not used, they rust; and when, after a period of rest, it is attempted to set them in motion again, the chances are that the human machine will work badly, or not at all.

Therefore, wind up your clock always and regularly, and it will keep going. This does not apply only to your bodily clock, but to your mental one as well.

Persons who work regularly, and, above all, in moderation, especially those who maintain the activity of their physical and mental faculties, live longer than those who abandon active life at the approach of old age.

Do not stop taking bodily exercise. Go on having your walk and your ride; go on working steadily; go on even having your little smoke, if you have always been used to it, without ever abusing it—in fact, if your constitution is good, forget that you are advancing in age; go on living exactly as you have always lived, only doing everything in more and more moderation. Busy[Pg 227] people live much longer than idle ones. Sovereigns who lead a very active life live long.

See the Pope! Moltke, Bismarck, Disraeli, Carlyle, Victor Hugo, Gladstone, Ruskin, Littré, Darwin, De Lesseps, Renan, Pasteur—all great workers—died nearly eighty or over eighty years of age.

It is not work, but overwork, that may kill; it is not smoking, but inveterate smoking, that hurts; it is not a little drinking that does any harm, but too much indulgence in drink which kills.

Mrs. Elizabeth Cady Stanton, who died only a short time ago, was writing brilliant articles for the New York American only a few days before her death; maybe, she was writing one an hour before it.

Her death at the age of eighty-seven may furnish a moral lesson to those who desire a long life. She died in complete possession of her mental and physical faculties.

At eighty-five, Gladstone was felling trees in his garden and writing articles on Homer and theology as a rest from his political labours. At eighty-two, De Lesseps was riding three hours every day in the Bois de Boulogne. At ninety-eight, Sidney Cooper was exhibiting pictures at the Royal Academy.

Yes, so long as the human machine is kept well oiled and regularly wound up, it goes; and not only do active bodies and minds who go on working live long, but they live happily and die peacefully, and they also make happy all those who live with them.[Pg 228]

It was a lovely sight to see De Lesseps ride and drive with a troop of grandchildren and great-grandchildren. The youngest and most boisterous member of the party was the old gentleman, and all that band of joyous youngsters adored him.

The man of healthy body and active mind, who abandons work at fifty, even at sixty, prepares himself for a life of mere vegetation.

Let him stop remunerative work, if he does not find it congenial, and has enough or more than he wants to live upon, but let him immediately trace out for himself a programme of life that will enable him to keep his body and mind active, or let him look out for dyspepsia, gout, rheumatism, paralysis, stiffness of the joints, and the gradual loss of his mental faculties.

'I am sorry to be getting an old man,' once remarked Ferdinand de Lesseps, 'but what consoles me is the thought that there is no other way of living a long time.'

It is activity, it is work, that keeps you young, healthy, cheerful, and happy; it is work—thrice blessed work—that makes you feel that you are not a useless piece of furniture in this world, and makes you die with a smile on your face. Work, work again, work always!

[Pg 229]



1. When you go out with the intention of posting a letter, be sure you do not put it in your pocket, or the odds are ten to one that you will return home with it.

2. Always address the envelope before you write a letter.

3. If you write love-letters to two different women, be careful to enclose the first one in its properly addressed envelope before you begin writing the second one, or Maria may receive the letter intended for Eliza, and vice versâ.

4. Do not apologize in your postscript for having forgotten to stamp your letter. It might get you found out.

5. If you have written an important letter, or one containing money, put it in the letter-box yourself. If anything wrong happens to it, you will have no one to accuse or suspect.

6. When you send currency by post, do not let anyone know it by having the letter registered. Money stolen through the post has always been abstracted from registered letters. I have never heard of one[Pg 230] letter of mine not being delivered in Europe and in America. People never take their chance. They never open a letter unless they know there is money in it. How can they know if you are careful in concealing paper money under cover? Never label your letters, 'There is money in it.'

7. If you post a letter, which you do not want anybody to read except the person to whom it is addressed, do not forget to write your name and address on the back of the envelope, so that, if not delivered, or mislaid, it may be returned to you unopened.

8. If you want an important letter to be delivered in New York at a determined time, take my advice: Post that letter, in the city, twenty-four hours before the said determined time.

9. Never, or very seldom, in some exceptional cases, answer a letter by return post, even if the request be made. Always take twenty-four hours for consideration. Besides, it will give you the appearance of being a very busy man, which is always a splendid advertisement.

10. When you enclose a bill or a cheque in a letter, pin it to the letter, that it may not drop when the envelope is opened, and before posting it feel the letter-box inside to see that it is not choked.

11. If you write a letter of a private nature—words of love that you would be sorry for everyone to read except the lady you are addressing, put a blank sheet of notepaper around the letter. Most envelopes are transparent, and may disclose your secrets.[Pg 231]

12. Always read twice the address you have written on your envelopes. Apply the same process to your letters; your time will not be wasted.

13. When you write to a friend, do not inquire about his health and that of his family after your signature. It would look like an afterthought.

14. Ladies, whose minds are full of afterthoughts, generally write the most important part of their letters in the postscript. I once received a letter, in a woman's handwriting, the signature of which was unknown to me. At the end of sixteen pages of pretty prattle there was a postscript: 'You will see by my new signature that I am married.'

[Pg 232]



Steer clear once for all of useless people and parasites of all sorts—bores, who make you waste your time; indelicate people, who borrow money when they do not know whether they will be able to return it; swindlers, who know perfectly well they will never pay you back a penny. Elbow your way out of all those frauds—poseurs, spongers, leeches, fleas, and bugs—who try to fasten themselves to you.

Be generous, and help a friend in need; devote a reasonable portion of your income to the hospitals, charitable institutions, and the sufferers from public calamities; after that, attend to yourself and to all those who live around you and depend on you for their comfort and happiness.

Bang your door in the face of people who, in your hour of success, come to treat you with a few patronizing sneers in order to take down your pride. Kick down your stairs, even if you live on the tenth floor, the man with an alcoholic breath who calls to tell you that, as you are a fortunate man, it is your duty, and should be your pleasure, to help those who have no luck.[Pg 233]

Life is too short to allow you to play the part of a friend to the whole human race. Concern yourself about interesting and deserving people; cultivate the friendship of pleasant men and women, who brighten up your life, and that of useful ones, who may occasionally give you the lift you deserve. Attend to your business; carefully watch over the interests of those who have a right to expect you to keep them in comfort, and dismiss the rest, even from your thoughts.

[Pg 234]



Advice is a piece of luxury thoroughly enjoyed by the one who gives it. If you want to be popular with your friends, do them all the good turns you can. Lend them your money if you have a surplus to spare, and which you can comfortably make up your mind to the loss of, but give them advice when they ask you for it.

People who are lavish of advice are seldom guilty of any other act of generosity. If, however, you cannot resist the temptation of advice-giving, be sure, at least, that you give it in time. People who keep on saying to their friends, 'I told you so,' are the most aggravating bores in the world.

If a little boy wants to venture on a dangerous piece of ice, give him a warning and advise him not to go, but if he disregards your advice and falls into a hole, rescue him and wait until he is quite well again before you say to him, 'I told you so.'

Of all your best friends, your wife is the last person to whom you should say, 'I told you so.' These four words have killed happiness in matrimonial life more than any number of blasphemous words put together.[Pg 235]

A wife forgives a few hot words uttered in moments of bad temper or passion, but there is something cold, sneering, provoking, blighting, assertive, presumptive in 'I told you so,' which gives you an unbearable air of superiority and self-satisfaction.

When you are already upset, dissatisfied with yourself, ready to take your revenge out of anyone who takes advantage of your awkward and unenviable position, 'I told you so' is the drop that causes the cup to overflow.

The amateur advice-giver is a nuisance, a fidget, a kill-joy, and an unmitigated bore. Men avoid him, women despise him, and children mind him until he is out of sight. To the latter he sets up as a model, and always begins his admonitions with the inevitable 'When I was a boy.' Then they know what is coming, and giggle—when they do not wink.

Advice given by old folks to children sows as much valuable seed as do sermons on congregations, with this difference to the advantage of congregations, that they can close their eyes during a sermon in order to take it in better, whereas children cannot do the same for fear of being called rude and of being punished for it.

Among other advice-givers whom I have in my mind's eye, I remember the one who calls on me the day after I have given a lecture in order to make suggestions which 'I might use with advantage the next time I give this lecture.' Also the one who calls to advise me to introduce a 'reminiscence of his,' which I might use on the[Pg 236] platform to illustrate a point, and which 'reminiscence of his' I have heard for twenty years and know to be part of a classic on the subject.

The chairman who, before I go on the platform, advises me how to use my voice in order to be well heard by all the members of the audience, a piece of advice which I thoroughly appreciate, as I have lectured only 3,000 times—well, over 2,500 times, to be perfectly exact.

I even remember one who criticised my pronunciation of a French word in my lecture, and suggested his as an improvement.

[Pg 237]



Holidays are an institution established to keep you reminded every year that one is really happy and comfortable at home only. Oh! the board and lodging, advertised comfortable and moderate, which you leave with pleasure because the board was the bed! Oh! the little house with creepers from which you 'flee' because you discover that the creepers are inside! And the sofas and chairs stuffed with the pebbles from the beach, and the bad cooking, and the smiles of the head waiter, of the waiters, of the chambermaid, of the hall porter, of the baggage porter, all of whom have to be tipped! And the extras on the bill! How you rub your hands with delight when at last you are in the train on the way to that dear home of yours, where you are going to sleep in your lovely bed, sit on your comfortable chairs, stretch on your soft sofa, eat the appetizing, simple, and healthy meals of your good cook, where, on a rainy day, you will go and take down a favourite book from the shelves of your library; where you are going to be all the time surrounded by your own dear belongings, able to look at your pictures, at your china;[Pg 238] where you are going to put again in their usual places the photographs of all your friends; in fact, where you are going to live once more, after an interval necessary to your health, perhaps, through the rest from work and the change of air it has afforded you, but for all that an interval, nothing but an interval in life.

The only enjoyable holidays that I know are either those spent in a house of your own which you may possess in the country or by the sea, or those spent in travelling, making the acquaintance of new, interesting and picturesque countries; but these holidays are only within the reach of the privileged few.

Very often loving couples, fearing they should get too much accustomed to each other, part for a few days, just for the sake, epicures that they are, of experiencing the ineffable joy of meeting again and of proving to themselves that each one is absolutely indispensable to the other—a fact which, although they may be well aware of it, is always pleasant to be reminded of. The holidays are to the home what the parting for a few days is to the loving couples—a reminder of the priceless treasure which you possess, and which you do not always sufficiently appreciate.

Think of your children, too, especially of those young boys who are boarders at school or college and can only know the joys of home life during their holidays. How they would prefer going to their own homes, playing with their own things, looking after their animals, to being trotted out and taken to a hotel[Pg 239] where children are not tolerated to do this or allowed to do that! When parents live in a house of their own, and in the country, it is absolutely wicked of them not to let their children enjoy their holidays at home. They should remember that if their children at school long for holidays, it is not because they are tired of their work, it is because they are homesick.

And young people just married always think that the best way of beginning the matrimonial journey is to have a holiday and travel, although, maybe, the thoughtful bridegroom has prepared a delightful nest for his bride.

'Where should I spend my honeymoon?' I have often been asked by young men not rich enough to go and spend it in the expensive resorts. I have invariably answered, 'Go home and spend it there, you idiot.'

[Pg 240]



(After Jules Noriac)

Alabaster—Kind of beautiful white marble, so much used in novels for ladies' necks and shoulders that very little is left for ordinary consumption. Very rare now in the trade, still very common in poetry.

Alibi—An aunt for wives; the club for husbands.

Ardour—Heat, extreme and dangerous. Those who gamble with ardour ruin their families; those who work with ardour ruin their health; those who study with ardour go to a lunatic asylum; those who love with ardour get cured more quickly than others.

Argus—Domestic spy. Juno gave him a cow to look after. With his hundred eyes he did not find out that the cow was no other than a woman, Io.

Attraction—Force which tends to draw bodies to each other. Isaac Newton thought he had discovered the principle of universal attraction when he watched an apple fall. Eve had discovered it five thousand years earlier.[Pg 241]

Austerity—Self-control which enables a man or a woman to receive a call from Cupid without inviting him to stay to dinner.

Boudoir—From the French bouder (to sulk). Coquettish little room where women retire when they have a love-letter to write or any other reason for wishing to be left alone.

Candour—A virtue practised by women who do not understand what they know perfectly well.

Collection—Hobby. Men collect flies, beetles, butterflies. Women collect faded flowers, hair, letters, and photographs.

Duenna—Old woman who watches over the good conduct of young Spanish girls and of married women. In the second case, her wages are higher.

Egotism—Piece of ground on which Love builds his cottage.

Love—A disease which mankind escapes with still more difficulty than the measles. It generally attacks men at twenty and women at eighteen. Then it is not dangerous. At thirty you are properly inoculated; it is, as it were, part of your system. At forty it is a habit. After sixty the disease is incurable.

To Love—Active verb—very active—the most active of all.

Mystery—The principal food of love. This is probably why elevated souls have raised love to the level of religion.

Nest—Sweet abode made for two. He brings soft[Pg 242] moss, she a few bits of grass and straw; then both give the finishing touch by bringing flowers.

Passion—Violent affection that always finishes on a cross.

Platonic (love)—A kind of love invented by Plato, a philosopher who sat down at table only to sleep. Advice: If ever Platonic love knocks at your door, kick him down your stairs unmercifully, for he is a prince of humbugs.

Resolution—A pill that you take every night before going to bed, and which seldom produces any effect.

Respect—A dish of which women are particularly fond in public, and which they seldom appreciate in private. How many women would be happier if their husbands respected them less and loved them more!

Servitude—Most bitter and humiliating state when it is forced upon us by poverty; most sweet when it is imposed on a man by the woman whom he loves.

Tact—The quality that, perhaps, of all, women admire most in men. The next is discretion.

Veil—Piece of lace which women put over their faces to excite the curiosity of the passers-by. Women get married with a white veil, but they always flirt with a black one.

[Pg 243]



I shall never forget the dry way and pitiful manner in which Robert Louis Stevenson passed a funeral oration on Matthew Arnold. It was on a Sunday evening, in the early spring of 1888, at a reception given at the house of Edmund Clarence Stedman, whose poetry and scholarly attainments excite as much admiration as his warm heart excites love in those who, like myself, can boast of his friendship. Someone entered and created consternation by announcing that a cablegram had just reached New York with the news that Matthew Arnold was dead. 'Poor Matthew!' said Stevenson, lifting his eyes with an air of deep compassion; 'heaven won't please him!'

And it is true that on many occasions that great English writer had hinted that if the work of the Creation had been given to him to undertake, it would have proved more successful than it has been. For that matter, many philosophers of a more or less cynical turn of mind have criticised the work of Creation.

Voltaire said that if he had been Jehovah 'he would[Pg 244] not have chosen the Jews.' My late friend, Colonel Robert G. Ingersoll, a Voltairian to the core, said that if he had been consulted 'he would have made health, not disease, catching.' Ninon de Lenclos, the veriest woman that ever lived, said that, had she been invited to give an opinion, 'she would have suggested that women's wrinkles be placed under their feet.'

'Everything is for the best in the best of worlds!' exclaims Dr. Pangloss in Voltaire's famous novel, 'Candide,' but few people are as satisfied with the world as that amiable philosopher. There are people who are even dissatisfied with our anatomy, and who declare that man's leg would be much safer and would run much less risk of being broken if the calf had been placed in front of it instead of behind. Some go as far as to say that man is the worst handicapped animal of creation—that he should have been made as strong as the horse, able to run like the stag, to fly like the lark, to swim and dive like the fish, to have a keen sense of smell like the dog, and one of sight like the eagle. Not only that, but that man is the most stupid of all, the most cruel, the most inconsistent, the most ungrateful, the most rapacious, the only animal who does not know when he has had enough to eat and to drink, the only one who kills the fellow-members of his species, the only one who is not always a good husband and a good father.

'Man, the masterpiece of creation, the king of the universe!' they exclaim. 'Nonsense!' There is hardly[Pg 245] an animal that he dares look straight in the face and fight. No; he hides behind a rock, and, with an engine of destruction, he kills at a distance animals who have no other means of defence than those given them by nature, the coward!

There is not the slightest doubt that the genius of man has to reveal itself in the discovery of all that may remedy the disadvantages under which he finds himself placed. Boats, railways, automobiles, balloons, steam, electricity, and what not, have been invented, and are used to cover his deficiencies. Poor man! he has to resort to artificial means in every phase of life. Even clothes he has to wear, as his body has not been provided with either fur or feathers.

[Pg 246]




I have often heard Americans say that the future may keep in store for them the paying of income-tax, and, as a warning to them, I should like to let them know how this tax is levied in England.

In theory the income-tax is the most just of taxes, since it compels, or seems to compel, the people to contribute to the maintenance of their country in proportion to the income they possess. In reality this tax, levied as it is in England, is little less than the revival of the Inquisition.

And, first of all, let me point out a great injustice, which I trust no Government will ever inflict on the American people or any other, and which is this: The income derived from property inherited, or any other which the idlest man may enjoy without having to work for it, is taxed exactly the same as the income which is derived from work in business, profession, or any other calling.

I maintain that if I have a private income of, say, £2,000, and my work brings me in another £2,000, the[Pg 247] first income ought to be taxed much more heavily than the second.

I maintain that if a man enjoys a private income, and does no work for the community in return for the privilege of the wealth he possesses, he ought to pay a larger percentage than the man who has to work for every shilling which he amasses during the year.

But this is discussing, and in this article I only wish to show how the free-born Briton is treated in the matter of income-tax.

A fact not altogether free from humour is that the salary of the English tax-collector is a percentage of what he can extract from the tax-payer.

He asks you to send him the amount of your income, and warns you that you will have to pay a penalty of £50 if you send him a false return. I have it on the authority of Mr. W. S. Gilbert that every Englishman sends a false return and cheats his Government; but now a good many men, I am sure, cannot cheat the Government—those, for example, in receipt of a salary from an official post, and many others whose incomes it is easy to find out.

Of course, some cannot be found out; so that those who cannot conceal their real and whole income have got to pay for those who can.

A merchant sends his return, and values it at £10,000. The collector says to him, if he chooses to do so: 'Your return cannot be right. I will charge you on £20,000. Of course, you can appeal.'[Pg 248]

The merchant is obliged to lose a whole day to attend the Court of Appeal, taking all his books with him, in order to prove that the return he sent is exact.

Very often he pays double what he owes, so as not to have to let everybody know that his business is not as flourishing as people think. But the most amusing side of the whole thing is yet to be told.

If you sell meat in one shop and groceries in another, and you make £5,000 in the first shop and lose £3,000 in the second, you must not suppose that you will be charged on £2,000, the difference between your profit in the first business and the loss in the second. Not a bit of it. The two businesses being distinct, you will have to pay on the £5,000 profit made in the first, and bear your loss in the other as best you can.

As an illustration, I will give you a somewhat piquant reminiscence. Many years ago I undertook to give lectures in England under my own management. My manager proved to be an incompetent idiot, and I lost money.

When I declared my yearly income, I said to the income-tax collector: 'My books brought me an income of so much, but I lost so much on my lecture tour; my income is the difference—that is, so much.'

'No,' he said; 'your books and your lectures are two perfectly different things, and I must charge you on the whole income you derived from the sale of your books.'

Then I was struck with a luminous idea, which[Pg 249] proved to me that I was better fitted to deal with the English tax-collector than to manage a lecture tour.

'The two things are not at all distinct,' I replied; 'they are one and the same thing. I gave lectures for the sole purpose of keeping my name before the public and pushing the sale of my books.'

'Ah!' he exclaimed, 'you are right. In that case you are entitled to deduct your loss from the profit.'

And this is how I got out of the difficulty—a little incident which has made me proud of my business abilities ever since.

I was in America last season to give lectures. Instead of lecturing, I had to be in bed and in convalescence for a month, then undergo an operation and stay in the hospital for six weeks.

You may imagine the fine income I derived from my last American tour. On my return to Europe, I passed through London, and stopped there a week before coming to Paris.

I found awaiting me a bill for about £54, a percentage on 'my profit of £1,000 realized in America.' Now, this was adding insult to injury. I have the greatest respect for H.M. Edward VII., but I regret that his officials should have resorted to such means to defray the expenses of his Coronation.

[Pg 250]



To know how to entertain people is a talent; but there is one better, and which makes you still more popular with your friends and acquaintances—it is that talent which consists in drawing them out and allowing them to entertain you.

I know very clever people, not exactly conceited or assertive, but who have the objectionable knack of gently sitting upon you. Their opinions are given with an ex cathedra air that seems to exclude any appeal against them.

Sometimes they tell anecdotes very well, and they give you strings of them, each one bridged over to the other by a 'That reminds me.' They laugh at their anecdotes heartily, and invite you to do so with such a suggestion as 'That's a good one, isn't it?'

You do laugh, and you hope for your reward, that you will be able to tell a little anecdote yourself. Sometimes they will cut you short and go on with another; sometimes they will give you a chance, show little signs of impatience while you give it, and never laugh when you have finished.[Pg 251]

Worse than that, they will occasionally say: 'Oh yes,' on the tune of 'I have heard that one before,' or, maybe, 'Why, I am the inventor of it myself.' I have known such clever people and good anecdote tellers to prove terrific bores.

Whether you are discussing a question or merely spending a little time telling stories over a cup of coffee and a couple of cigarettes, you like to be allowed to prove alive, and the really entertaining people are those who know how to make you enjoy yourself as well as their company.

You are grateful to those friends who give you a chance of shining yourself, and there are some who know not only how to draw you out, but who know how to do it to the extent of making you brilliant.

Those who make you feel like an idiot are no better than those who take you for one. Although they do not do it on purpose, the result is exactly the same as if they did. You find that kind of man in every walk of life.

There is the savant who pours forth science by the gallon and talks you deaf, dumb, and lame. There is the other kind also. I once spent an hour talking on philology with the greatest professor of the College of France in Paris.

I know a little philology, but my knowledge of that science compared to his is about in the proportion of the length of my little finger to that of his whole[Pg 252] body, and he is over six feet. He put me so much at my ease; he so many times asked me 'if I didn't think that it was so,' that for the time being I really felt I was something of a philologist myself. It was only after I had left him that I realized that I had learned a great deal from the famous master.

The nice people of the world are those who make you feel satisfied with yourself. All the talkers, advice-givers, assertive critics put together are not worth for your good a considerate friend who gives you a little praise, or a good, loving woman who, two or three times a day, gives you a teaspoonful of admiration.

After all, the greatest reward for our humblest efforts is appreciation, the greatest incentive is encouragement. What makes us powerless to achieve anything are the sneers of all the wet-blankets and kill-joys of this world.

You do not make a child get on at school by calling him a little idiot and telling him he will never do anything in his life; you do not impart bravery into the heart of a timid soldier by treating him as if he were a coward.

If a horse is afraid of anything lying on the road, don't whip him, don't use the spurs; pat him gently on the neck and lead him near the object to make him acquainted with it. Like that you will cure him of his shyness.

Help men with encouragement, praise, and admiration.

[Pg 253]



Genius is a form of madness. Early in the Christian era, St. Augustine declared that there was no genius without a touch of insanity. The human being who is born without a grain of folly will never be a great poet, a great novelist, a great painter or sculptor, a great musician, or a great anything.

Unless you are erratic, irritable, full of fads, you need not aspire to attain sublime heights. Homer, Shakespeare, Raphael, Shelley, Wagner were lunatics. That is why, to my mind, nothing is more absurd, preposterous, than to go and poke one's nose into the private life of geniuses. Let us admire the work that their genius has left to us, without inquiring whether they regularly came home to tea, and were attentive fathers and faithful husbands. Do we not love Burns and Shelley?

Certainly, if I had lived in their times and had a marriageable daughter, I would have been careful to see that she did not fall in love with either of them; but what has that to do with their poetry and the enjoyment of it?[Pg 254]

To this very day, in the autumn of my life, I enjoy the fables of dear old La Fontaine, and can't help smiling when I am reminded that he was married, but that he was separated from his wife. She lived in Lyons and he in Paris. One day they persuaded him to go to Lyons and 'make it up' with her.

He started. In those days the journey took five days and five nights. On the eleventh day after his departure he was back in Paris. 'Well,' they said to him, 'is it all right?'

'I could not see her,' replied he, 'when I called at her house. They told me that she had gone to Mass.' So he came back.

I once criticised the acting of a well-known actress before good folks, who said to me: 'Ah, but she is a woman who leads an irreproachable life!' What do I care about that? I am very glad to hear it, for the sake of her husband and children; but I would rather go and hear Miss So-and-so, who stirs my soul to its very depth by her genius, although I am told, by jealous people, no doubt, that she is not quite as good as she should be.

I hear that Sarah Bernhardt travels with either a lion, a bear, or a snake. Very well, that is her business. She goes to a hotel with her menagerie, and does not ask you to invite her to stay with you. Is that a reason for not going to see her play Phedre, Tosca, Fedora, or any other of her marvellous creations?

Wagner could not compose his operas unless he had[Pg 255] on a red plush robe and a helmet. What do I care if this enabled him to write 'Lohengrin,' 'Tannhäuser,' and the Trilogy?

One day Alexandre Dumas, a lunatic of the purest water, called on Wagner. The latter kept him waiting half an hour. Then he appeared dressed as Wotan. 'Excuse me, Master,' he said to Dumas, 'I am composing a scene between the god and Brunnehilde.'

'Don't mention it, please,' replied Dumas, who, before leaving, invited him to come and see him in Paris. A few months later Wagner called on Dumas. The latter kept him waiting a little, and then appeared with nothing on but a Roman helmet and a shield.

'Excuse me, Maestro,' he said, 'I am writing a Roman novel.' The two great geniuses or lunatics were quits.

I knew a great poet who could no more write good poetry than he could fly unless he had blue paper. Victor Hugo would have been a failure if he had not been able always to be provided with very thick pens.

Balzac could write only on condition he was dressed as a monk, had the shutters of the room closed, and the lamps lighted. Alfred de Musset would compose his immortal poetry only when under the influence of drink. All lunatics, every one.

[Pg 256]



The Paris Matin has started a new kind of dramatic criticism. The day after a play has been produced it publishes a criticism of it by the author himself, or by the manager of the theatre. This is as piquant as it is novel, and if the French had the sense of humour as keenly developed as the Americans, the result would be highly diverting.

Just imagine a play by Mark Twain reviewed and criticised the following morning in a paper by Mr. Samuel L. Clemens!

Gentlemen of the American press, take the hint, if you like.

This new kind of criticism is only a few days old, but the readers of the Matin have taken to it kindly already. Two well-known men have inaugurated it. They are Pierre Wolff, the dramatist, and Antoine, the actor and proprietor-manager of the Antoine Theatre. Both give a very flattering account of their plays: how beautifully they were acted, how well they were received, and, after giving a short synopsis of them, wind up with heartfelt thanks to the actors and[Pg 257] actresses who appeared in them. Everybody is satisfied, author, actors, managers, editor, who has attracted the notice of the public, and the readers, who are amused at the new idea, and do not care a jot what critics say of the plays which they review.

Why should not books be reviewed in the same way? Why should they not be reviewed and criticised by the author or the publisher? I should prefer—by the author.

I have never read a notice of any of my books, however favourable, which I did not think I could have done better myself, if I had had to write it.

Just imagine, if only for fun, a new novel (pronounced 'novell,' please) by Hall Caine reviewed by Mr. Hall Caine; or one by Marie Corelli criticised by that talented lady herself! I say, just think of it!

We might have the good-fortune to read something in the following style: 'A new novel by myself is one of those literary events which keep the world breathless, in awful silence, for a long time before it comes to pass. The first edition of 100,000 copies was exhausted a week before the book appeared, but a second edition of the same number will be ready in a day or two. The story is wonderful, colossal, like everything that comes from the pen of that author, whose genius is as Shakespearian as his brow, which even reminds one of that of—but perhaps it would be profane to name.'

Or something interesting like this: 'His Majesty[Pg 258] the King and most members of the Royal Family ordered copies of this book long before it was ready for publication, and no doubt to-day, and for many days following, there will be no other topic of conversation than my book at Windsor Castle. I should like to call the attention of the reading public—and who is it that does not read me?—to the fact that this is the longest book I have yet published. The public will also, I am sure, forgive me for calling it my best. A mother's last baby is always, in her eyes, her best.'

At all events, I salute the new criticism. It should greatly add to the gaiety of nations.

[Pg 259]



There is very little originality in this world. Even among the greatest thoughts expressed by famous philosophers, there are very few that had not been heard before in some form or other. It is the pithy way in which they are expressed by such men as La Rochefoucauld, La Bruyère, and Balzac that made the reputation of these great writers. The characteristics of man and woman have always existed, just as has their anatomy, and the dissector of the human heart cannot invent anything new any more than the dissector of the human body. We all know these characteristics, but what we like is to see a philosopher present them to us in a new shape.

Pascal says that the greatest compliment that can be paid to a book, even to a thought, is the exclamation, 'I could have written that!' and 'I could have said that!' In fact, the author whom we admire most is the one who writes a book that we 'could' have written ourselves. And we say 'bravo' when a philosopher gives us a thought of our own, only better expressed[Pg 260] than we could have done it, or when he confirms an opinion that we already held ourselves.

No; there is nothing original, not even the stories that we hear and tell in our clubs. They have been told before. I forget who said that there were only thirty-five anecdotes in the world, seventeen of which were unfit for ladies' ears.

Even the characters of fiction are not original. The novelist is, as a rule, none but a portrait painter, possessed of more or less originality and talent. Charles Dickens said that there was not a single personage of his novels whom he had not drawn from life. Thackeray and Balzac, two observers of mankind of marvellous ability, said the same. Racine borrowed of Sophocles and Euripides, Molière of Plautus and Terence. Alexandre Dumas chose his heroes from history, and regifted them with life with his unequalled imagination. George Eliot's personality remained a mystery for a long time, but everybody knew that the author of 'Scenes of Clerical Life' was a native of Nuneaton, or had lived long enough in that town to introduce local characters who were recognised at once. The Dame aux Camélias, the Camille of the American stage, by Dumas, junr., was inspired, if not suggested, by Manon Lescaut. And is not the Adam Bede of George Eliot a variation of Goethe's Faust? Is not Tess of Thomas Hardy another? And that marvellous hero Tartarin of Alphonse Daudet: do you not recognise in him Don Quixote? More than that,[Pg 261] he is a double embodiment, Don Quixote and Sancho Panza in one: the Don Quixote who dreams of adventures with lions in the desert, of ascensions on Mont Blanc, of guns, swords, and alpinstocks, and the Sancho Panza who thinks of wool socks, flannel vests, and a medicine-chest for the marvellous journeys that are going to be undertaken—a tremendous creation, this double personage, but not altogether original.

Every character has been described in fiction, every characteristic of mankind has been told; but we like to see those characters described again with new surroundings; we love to hear the philosophy of life told over again in new, pleasant, pithy, witty sentences.

This lack of originality in literature is so obvious, it is so well acknowledged a fact that authors, novelists, or philosophers have used mankind for their work, and availed themselves of all that mankind has written or said before, that the law does not allow the literary man to own the work of his brain for ever and ever, as he owns land or any other valuable possession. After allowing him to derive a benefit for forty or fifty years, his literary productions become common property—that is to say, return to mankind to whom he owed so much of them.

[Pg 262]



La Bruyère said: 'Women often love liberty only to abuse it.' Two hundred years later Balzac wrote: 'There are women who crave for liberty in order to make bad use of it.' The thoughts are not great, they are not even true, but that is not the question. Could such a genius as Balzac be accused of plagiarism because he expressed a thought practically in the very words of La Bruyère? I would as soon charge Balzac with plagiarism as I would accuse a Vanderbilt or a Carnegie of trying to cheat a street-car conductor out of a penny fare. The heroines of Tess and Adam Bede practically go through the same ordeals as Gretchen. Would you seriously accuse Thomas Hardy and George Eliot of plagiarism, and say that they owed their plots to Goethe's 'Faust'?

There are people engaged in literary pursuits, or, rather, in the literary trade, and, as a rule, not very successful at that, who spend their leisure time in trying to catch successful men in the act of committing plagiarism. The moment they can discover in their[Pg 263] works a sentence that they can compare to a sentence written by some other author, they put the two sentences side by side and send them to the papers. There are papers always ready to publish that sort of thing. Of course, respectable papers throw those communications into the waste-paper baskets. Then, when the papers have published the would-be plagiarism, the perpetrator marks it in blue pencil at the four corners and sends it to the author—anonymously, of course. For that matter, whenever there appears anything nasty about a successful man in the papers—an adverse criticism or a scurrilous paragraph—he never runs the slightest risk of not seeing it; there are scores of failures, of crabbed, jealous, penurious nobodies who mail it to him. It does him no harm; but it does them good.

As far as I can recollect I have, during my twenty-one years of literary life, committed plagiarism four times: twice quite unintentionally, once through the inadvertence of a compositor, and once absolutely out of mere wickedness, just to draw out the plagiarism hunter. And I will tell you how it happened. Once, many years ago, I was reading a book on the French, written by an American. A phrase struck me as expressing a sentiment so true, so well observed, that I memorized it, and, unfortunately, when, several years later, I wrote a series of articles on France for a London paper, I incorporated the phrase. I was not long in being discovered. The author of the book, which had[Pg 264] never sold, wrote to all the papers that I had 'stolen his book,' and thought the correspondence would start a sale for his book. Of course I was guilty, and I apologized, explaining how it had happened. For years the phrase had been in my mind—had, as it were, become part and parcel of myself. May this be a warning to authors who may take too great a fancy to a thought of theirs well expressed by some other author. It is a very dangerous practice. Another time I incorporated in a newspaper article a quotation from Emerson, but the compositor omitted the inverted commas, and Emerson's sentence read as if it was mine. Of course, no one would accuse me of choosing Emerson to plagiarize in America, but this article brought me half a dozen anonymous letters. In one of them there was this choice bit: 'The second half of the article is by Emerson; the first half I don't know, but probably not by the author.' Twenty centuries of Christianity have caused Christians to love one another. But when I really had a good time was when, deliberately, as I said before, out of sheer wickedness, I introduced into my text nine lines of Shakespeare.

I have kept the newspapers that commented on it and the anonymous letters that were mailed to me. One of them had humour in it. 'My dear sir,' said the writer, 'when you speak of an incident as being a personal reminiscence, it is a mistake to borrow it of an author so widely known for the last three centuries as the late William Shakespeare.'[Pg 265]

A celebrated literary friend of mine once amused himself in incorporating twenty lines of Dickens as his own in the midst of an essay he published in his own paper.

When he feels dull, he takes from his shelves a scrapbook which contains the letters and newspaper cuttings referring to the subject.

When a literary man has a reputation of long standing, never for a moment accuse him of plagiarism. He may express a thought already expressed by someone else; he may work out a plot which is not original; but success that lasts rests on some personal merit. I have never heard successful men charge any of their brethren of the pen with plagiarism. Successful men are charitable to their craft, as beautiful women are to their sex.

[Pg 266]



The best writers of memoirs have been the French, and it is through those memoirs that we know so well and so intimately the reigns of Louis XIV., Louis XV., and Napoleon I., as well as the history of the Revolution, the Restoration, and the Second Empire.

Courtiers, diplomatists, statesmen, and women of the Court, by their memoirs and letters, have made us acquainted not only with the public life of Sovereigns, but with all the details of their private life, with all the Court gossip.

The French, however, care little or nothing for memoirs that do not make clear to them some chapter of history.

The English, on the contrary, have practically no memoirs of that sort. The only interesting ones that I know are those of Greville. On the other hand, almost every man of note, literary man, journalist, artist, actor, publishes his autobiography or his reminiscences.

While the French only care for the work that a man[Pg 267] before the public has produced, the English like to know how he lived, how he worked, whom he met, whom he knew, and his appreciation of the character of his more or less famous friends and acquaintances.

Why, even the music-hall star publishes his reminiscences in England. The fact is that, if a man keeps his diary regularly, and knows how to tell an anecdote well, he can always write a readable book of reminiscences.

Among the best books of this sort that I know I would mention those of the late Edmund Yates and George Augustus Sala; but the best of all is the one which I do hope will make its appearance one day (although I am not aware that it is being prepared), and will be signed by the wittiest raconteur and causeur of England, Mr. Henry Labouchere.

Try to get Mr. Labouchere in one corner of the smoke-room in the House of Commons, give him a cup of coffee and some good cigarettes, and just turn him on; there is no better treat, no more intellectual feast of mirth and humour and wit in store for you. His style is the very one suited for a crisp, gossipy, brilliant book of reminiscences.

Among possible writers of interesting and piquant memoirs or reminiscences I ought to mention Lady Dorothy Nevil and Lady Jeune. Both ladies have known in intimacy every celebrity you wish to name—Kings, Queens, statesmen, generals, prelates, judges, politicians, literary men, artists, lawyers, actors; there[Pg 268] is not a man or woman of fame who has not supplied an impression or an incident to them.

And they are the very women to write memoirs, both possessed of keen judgment and insight in human nature, and of great literary ability, both delightful conversationalists, always capable of drawing you out and enabling you to do your best, and thus supplying them with materials for notes and observations.

I am not announcing any book, for neither of these two ladies ever mentioned to me that she was preparing a book of memoirs, but I wish they would, and I have simply named them as being both capable of writing books of unsurpassed interest.

In order to write a good and trustworthy book of reminiscences, you must, above all, be an observer and a listener, besides a good story-teller. You must be modest enough to know how to efface yourself, remain hidden behind the scenes, and put all your personages on the stage without hardly appearing yourself.

You must be satisfied with sharing the honours of the book with all your dramatis personæ, and not cause the printing of the volume to be stopped for want of a sufficient supply of 'I's' and 'me's.'

I knew a famous actor whose reminiscences were published some years ago by a literary man. Once I congratulated that actor on the success of the book.

'Yes,' he said, 'the book has done me good, because X., you know, mentions my name once or twice in that book.'[Pg 269]

And many books of reminiscences that I know are full of the sayings and doings of the author, with an occasional mention of people of whom we should like to hear a great deal.

I have met these men in private, and sometimes found them clever, and invariably fatiguing bores, and their books are not more entertaining than their conversation. Many of them reminded me of the first visit that Diderot paid to Voltaire, on which occasion he talked the great French wit deaf and dumb.

'What do you think of Diderot?' asked a friend of Voltaire a few days after that visit.

'Well,' replied Voltaire, 'Diderot is a clever fellow, but he has no talent for dialogue.'

[Pg 270]



The manly man wears his hat slightly inclined on the right, naturally, without exaggeration, and without swagger. The braggart wears his right on his ear. Jolly fellows, destitute of manners, and drunkards, wear theirs on the back of the head; when far gone, the brim of the hat touches the neck.

Hypocrites wear theirs over the eyes. Fops wear their hats inclined on the left. Why? The reason is simple. Of course, they know that the hat, if inclined, should be on the right; but, unfortunately for them, they look at themselves in the glass, where the hat inclined on the left looks as if it were inclined on the right. So they wear it on the left, and think they have done the correct thing.

The very proper man and the prig invariably wear their hats perfectly straight. The scientific man and all men of brains put their heads well inside their hats; the more scientific the mind is, the deeper the head goes inside the hat.

Fools put on their hats with the help of both hands, and simply lay them on the top of their heads. I suppose[Pg 271] they feel that hats are meant to cover the brain, and they are satisfied, in their modesty and consciousness of their value, with covering the small quantity of brains given to them by Nature.

The absent-minded man is recognised by his hat brushed against the nap, the tidy man by his irreproachably smooth hat, and the needy man by a greasy hat.

A shabby coat is not necessarily a sign that a man is hard up. Many men get so fond of a coat that they cannot make up their minds to part with it and discard it; but shoes down at heel and a shabby, greasy hat prove that their wearer is drowning: he is helpless and hopeless.

Only the well-off man, who serves nobody, wears a white top-hat; this hat is the emblem of independence and of success in life.

Man's station in life is shown from the way he takes off his hat. Kings and emperors just lift it off their heads. A gentleman takes off his hat to whoever salutes him. Once a beggar in Dublin saluted the great Irish patriot, Daniel O'Connell. The latter returned the salute by taking off his hat to the beggar.

'How can you take off your hat to a beggar?' remarked a friend who was with him. 'Because,' he replied, 'I don't want that beggar to say that he is more of a gentleman than I am.' Parvenus keep their hats on always, unless before some aristocrat, to whom they cringe.[Pg 272]

The Englishman takes off his hat with a stiff jerk and puts it on again immediately. The Frenchman takes it off gently, and, before a lady, remains uncovered until she says to him: 'Couvrez-vous, monsieur, je vous prie.'

The Italian takes it off with ceremony, and with his hand puts it nearly to the ground. Timid men keep rolling their hats in their hands. Very religious ones pray inside them, making a wry face, as if the emanations were of an unpleasant character.

Soldiers and horsemen fix their hats by pressing on the top of the crown.

Men who belong to decent clubs and frequent 'at homes' never need be in want of a good hat.

In Paris, in London, and in New York during the season no gentleman can wear anything but a silk hat after lunch-time.

When you pay calls, you must enter the drawing-room with your hat in your hand and keep it all the time, unless you are on very intimate terms with your host and hostess, when you may leave it in the hall.

A well-put-on hat is the proof of a well-balanced mind.

[Pg 273]



The man who wears spectacles—I mean eye-glasses with branches fixed behind the ears—is a serious man, a man of science, a man of business—at all events, a man who thinks of his comfort before he thinks of his appearance. There is no nonsense, no frivolity about him, especially if they are framed in gold. He is a steady man, somewhat prosaic, and even matter-of-fact. If he is a young man and wears them, you may conclude that he means to succeed, and always look on the serious side of life. He is no fop, no lady-killer, but a man whose affections can be relied on, and who expects a woman to love him for the qualities of his mind and the truthfulness of his heart.

Next to a solid gold watch and chain, a pair of gold spectacles are the best testimony of respectability; then comes a sound umbrella.

The man who wears his eye-glasses halfway down his nose is a shrewd man of business, who ever bears in mind that time is money. Thus placed, his eye-glasses enable him to read a letter of introduction, and, above them, to read and observe the character of the person who[Pg 274] has presented it to him. Lawyers generally wear them that way, and they seldom fail to have their bureau so placed that they can have their backs to the window, while their clients or callers are seated opposite in the full light of the day.

Old gentlemen wear their eye-glasses on the tip of their noses when they read their newspaper, because it enables them to recline in their arm-chairs and assume a more comfortable position.

The single eye-glass was originally worn by people whose eyes were different, in order to remedy the defective one. To-day it may be asserted that, out of a hundred men who wear single eye-glasses, ninety-nine see through—the other one. The single eye-glass is tolerable in a man of a certain age who is both clever and distingué looking. John Bright, with his fine white mass of hair and intelligent, firm, yet kind expression, looked beautiful with his eye-glass on. Lord Beaconsfield also looked well with one. To Mr. Joseph Chamberlain, with his turned-up nose and sneering smile, and his jaw ever ready to snap, it adds impudence.

When a man looks silly, the single eye-glass finishes him and makes him look like a drivelling idiot. If, besides, he is very young, it gives you an irresistible desire to smack his face or pull his nose.

The single eye-glass originated in England, but it is now worn in France quite as much, especially by young dudes, who, lacking the manliness of young Englishmen,[Pg 275] look preposterously ridiculous with them on. I must say, however, that great Frenchmen have worn single eye-glasses, among them Alphonse Daudet, Aurélien Scholl, President Felix Faure, Gaston Paris. Alfred Capus, now our most popular dramatist, wears one; so does Paul Bourget, but the latter is short-sighted on the right side.

No Royalty has ever been known to wear one, although not long ago I saw a portrait of the Kaiser with a single eye-glass.

America is to be congratulated on the absence of single eye-glasses. I may have seen one or two at the horse-show in New York, but I should not like to swear to it. An American dude, with his trousers turned up, wearing a single eye-glass and sucking the top of his stick, would be a sight for the gods to enjoy. I believe that a single eye-glass, not only in Chicago or Kansas City, but in Broadway, New York, and even in Boston, would cause Americans, whose bump of veneration is not highly developed, to pass remarks not of a particularly favourable character on its wearer. In the West, he might be tarred and feathered, if not lynched. One way or the other, he would be a success there.

But the most impudent, the most provoking single eye-glass of all is the one which is worn, generally by very young men, without strings. As they frown and wink, and make the grimace unavoidable to the wearer of that kind of apparel, they seem to say: 'See what practice can do! I have no string, yet I am not at all[Pg 276] afraid of my glass falling from my eye.' Rich Annamites grow their finger-nails eight and ten inches long, to show you that they are aristocrats, and have never used their hands for any kind of work. French and English parasites advertise their uselessness by this exhibition of the single eye-glass without string. And with it on, they eat, talk, smoke, run, laugh, and sneeze—and it sticks. Wonderful, simply wonderful! When you can do that, you really are 'in it.'

When you consider the progress that civilization is making every day, the discoveries that are made, the pluck and perseverance that are shown by the pioneers of all science, by the princes of commerce, by the explorers of new fields and pastures, in your gratitude for all they have done and are still doing for the world, you must not forget the well-groomed young man who has succeeded in being able to wear a single eye-glass without a string.

[Pg 277]



Tell me how a man uses his umbrella, and I will tell you his character.

The Anglo-Saxon Puritan always carried his umbrella open. If he rolled it, you might, at a distance, take that umbrella for a stick, which, he thinks, would give him a certain fast appearance. The miser does the same, because an umbrella that is never rolled lasts longer.

The man who always takes an umbrella out with him is a cautious individual, who never runs risks, and abstains from speculation. He will probably die rich; at all events, in cosy circumstances. On the contrary, the man who always leaves his umbrella behind him is generally one who makes no provision for the morrow. That man is thoughtless, reckless, always late for the train or an appointment, leaves the street-door open when he comes home late at night, and is generally unreliable.

The man who is always losing his umbrella is an unlucky dog, whose bills are protested, whose boots split, whose gloves crack, whose buttons are always[Pg 278] coming off, who is always in trouble on account of one thing or another.

The man, who leaves a new umbrella in his club and hopes to find it there the following day, is a simpleton who deserves all the bad luck that pursues him through life.

The man who comes early to an 'at home' may not show his eagerness to present his respects to a hostess early so much as to aim at having a better chance to choose a good umbrella.

The man who is perpetually showing a nervous anxiety about his umbrella, and wondering if it is safe, is full of meanness and low suspicion. Let him be ever so rich, if he asks your daughter in marriage, refuse her to him. He will undoubtedly take more care of his umbrella than of his wife.

If you are fortunate enough to have your umbrella when it rains, and you meet a friend who has left his at home, and asks you to shelter him, try immediately to meet another friend or acquaintance to whom you will offer the same service. By so doing, you will be all right in the middle, you will have your sides also well protected, and, besides, you will have obliged two friends instead of one.

The possession of a well-regulated watch and a decent umbrella is to a great degree a sign of respectability. More watches and silk umbrellas are pawned than all the other pieces of man's apparel put together.

The man who carries a cotton umbrella is either a[Pg 279] philosopher, who defies the world and all its fashionable conventions and prejudices, or an economist, who knows that a cotton umbrella is cheaper than a silk one, and lasts longer.

The man who walks with short, jerky steps, and never allows his umbrella to touch the ground, is a very proper man, and not uncommonly a downright hypocrite. On the other hand, the man who walks with a firm, long step, swinging his body slightly from right to left, and using his umbrella like a stick, is generally a good, manly fellow.

Once a man came to an afternoon 'at home,' and, when ready to leave the house, could not find his umbrella, a beautiful new one. He made somewhat of a fuss in the hall. The master of the house came to his rescue, and looked for the missing umbrella among the scores that were there.

'Are you sure you had an umbrella when you came?'

'Quite sure.'

'Perhaps you left it at the other party, where you went first.'

'No, no; that's where I got it.'

[Pg 280]



As I sit quietly thinking over my seventh visit to the United States, some impressions take a definite shape. I may here repeat a phrase which I used yesterday while speaking to the representative of an English newspaper who had called to interview me:

'This last visit has left me more than ever impressed with the colossal greatness of the American people.'

The progress they have made during the last five years is perfectly astounding—progress in commerce and industry, progress in art and science, progress in architecture. The whole thing is simply amazing. And the ingenuity displayed in the smallest things!

Really, this morning I was pitying from the bottom of my heart a poor English carman, who was emptying sacks of coal into a hole made in the pavement, as in New York, in front of a house.

He had to go and fetch every sack of coal, put it on his back, carry it with his bent body, and then aim at the hole as best he could. In New York the cart is lifted one side by means of a handle, an inclined tray is[Pg 281] placed at the bottom of the cart, with its head over the hole, and down goes the coal as the man looks at the work done for him.

It is in thousands of little things like this that you understand how the American mind is constantly at work. I do not know whether America makes more inventions than other nations (I believe that France is still leading), but there is no country where so many inventions are perfected.

In a great measure I attribute the commercial prosperity of the Americans to the soundness and practicability of their principles in the matter of the commercial education of their youth. It is partly due to the existence of the 'business college,' which has no counterpart in England, but which is as great and powerful an institution in the States as public schools are in England. Until Europe has such colleges, she will never breed leaders of commerce and industry as they are bred in America.

France possesses the best artisans in the world—glass-cutters, cabinet-makers, book-binders, gardeners—simply because boys of the working classes choose their trade early, work long apprenticeships, and study.

The English boy of these classes becomes a plumber at thirteen, then he tries everything afterward. He is in turn a mason, a gardener, anything you like 'for a job.' In America it is the mind of boys which is prepared for commerce in the business colleges. At twenty they are practical men.[Pg 282]

Of course, my mind is full of trusts. Is it possible that in a few years all the great industries of America—its mines, its railroads, its telegraphic and telephonic systems, its land, its land produce—will all be amalgamated and transformed into trusts?

I am not inclined to look on this great system of trusts in too pessimistic a fashion. In my view, they may eventually lead to the nationalization of those gigantic enterprises, and in this way bring about the greatest good for the greatest number, by the simple reason that it will be much easier for the State to deal with all those different trusts than with thousands of different companies and individuals.

One day the earth will belong to its inhabitants, not to a privileged few. Trusts may lead to the solution of the question.

Another impression deeply confirmed more than ever: the English may talk of the 'blood-thicker-than-water' theory, but it will never stand the test of a political crisis.

Of course, there are the '400' of New York who are entirely pro-English, and half apologetic for being American; but the population of Greater New York is 4,000,000. If out of 4,000,000 you take 400, there still remain some Americans. And these have no love lost for England.

[Pg 283]



An American was one day travelling with an Englishman friend of mine in the same railway compartment from Dieppe to Paris. During the conversation, the American did not care to own that he hailed from America, but went as far as to confess that he came from Boston, which, he thought, would no doubt atone for his being American in the eyes of his English companion.

'And where are you going to put up in Paris?' inquired the Englishman. 'Well,' replied the Bostonian, 'I was thinking of staying at Meurice's; but it's so full of d——d Americans! Where are you going to stop yourself?' 'H'm,' said the Englishman; 'I was thinking of stopping at Meurice's myself, but the place is so full of d——d English people!'

I object to the American who tells you that he spends the summer in Europe because America does not possess a summer resort fit to visit, and who regrets being unable to spend the winter in the South of France because there is not in the United States a decent place where to spend the winter months, who assures you that[Pg 284] America does not possess a single spot historically interesting. In my innocence I thought that an American might be interested to visit the Independence Hall of Philadelphia, Mount Vernon in Virginia, Lexington, Bunker's Hill, Yorktown, Chattanooga, Gettysburg, and a few other places where his ancestors made America what she is now.

I thought that the Hudson River compared favourably with the Thames and the Seine, the Rocky Mountains with the Alps and the Pyrenees, the Sierras with Switzerland, and that Europe had nothing to offer to be mentioned in the same breath with the Indian summer of America, when the country puts on her garb of red and gold.

When you meet that American in Europe, he asks you if you have met Lord Fitz-Noodle, Lady Ginger, and the Marquis de la Roche-Trompette. When you confess to him that you never had the pleasure of meeting those European worthies, he throws at you a patronizing glance, a mixture of pity and contempt, which seems to say: 'Good gracious! who on earth can you be? In what awful set do you move?'

At fashionable places, on board steamers, he avoids his compatriots and introduces himself into the aristocracy, always glad to patronize people who have money. He makes no inquiry about the private character of those titled people before he allows his wife and daughters to frequent them. They are titled, and, in his eyes, that sanctifies everything. On board a[Pg 285] steamer he works hard with the purser and the chief steward in order to be given a seat at the same table with a travelling lord. You never see him in anybody else's company.

A favourite remark of his is: 'The Americans one meets in Europe make me feel ashamed of my country and of my compatriots.'

How I do prefer to that American snob the good American who has never left the States, and who is perfectly convinced that America is the only country fit for a free man to live in—God's own country! At any rate, he is a good patriot, proud of his motherland. I even prefer to him that American (often to be met abroad) who damns everything in Europe; who prefers the Presbyterian church of his little city to Notre Dame, Westminster Abbey, and the cathedrals of Rouen, Cologne, and Milan; who thinks that England is such a tight little island that he is afraid of going out at night for fear of falling into the water; who thinks that French politeness and manners are much overrated, and who, when being asked if he likes French cuisine, replies: 'No; nor their cookery either.'

I love the man who sees only things to admire in his mother and his own country; and in America that man has his choice—une abondance de biens.

[Pg 286]



For power of endurance, give me the Americans. They are angels of patience. The best illustration is what they can put up with at their Custom House when they return home. Foreigners are more leniently dealt with, but if the American and his wife return from a trip to Europe and have with them twelve trunks and ten bags, these twelve trunks and ten bags have to be opened and thoroughly searched, and that although the said American has already signed a paper that he has nothing dutiable with him.

In every civilized nation of the world, there is a Custom House officer to inquire of the foreign visitor or the returning native whether he has anything to declare. He is not required to sign anything. He is asked the question on presenting himself with his baggage.

Never more than one piece of luggage is opened, and when the owner is a lady alone she is allowed to pass without having anything opened, unless, of course, she appears to be a suspicious character.

Everywhere in Europe any decent-looking man or[Pg 287] woman who declares that he or she has nothing dutiable has one piece of luggage examined and no more. But in America not only is every trunk, every bag, opened, but everything in it most searchingly examined.

'Have you worn this?' says the man.

I knew a gentleman who had had ten trunks examined from top to bottom, but could not find the key to his hat-box, a light piece of luggage which, by its weight, was labelled innocent. The Custom House officer took a hatchet and smashed it.

I allowed myself to be told that the gentleman in question could obtain no redress against the man in authority. A lady, for that matter, would have been treated in exactly the same way. No respect for her sex, no consideration for the pretty things she had had so carefully packed; everything is taken out, felt, and replaced topsy-turvy.

When a favourite steamer arrives in New York, with 500 first and second class passengers, it means about 5,000 pieces of luggage to open and examine. If you have no servants to see it done for you, the odds are that you will be five hours on the wharf before you are able to proceed to your hotel.

The Americans grumble, but patiently endure the nuisance, as if they were not masters in their own home and able to put a stop to it. No Englishman would stand it a day. If it was a special order, it would be repealed at once. The only time when the thing was done in England was during the period of scare[Pg 288] produced by the Irish dynamitards some twenty-five years ago.

To some American millionairesses fifty new dresses are less extravagant than two or three for other women; besides, if they are extravagant, that's their business. What does it matter so long as it is not some materials for sale or any other commercial purpose?

The Americans endure bureaucracy much more readily than the English. In that, as in many other traits, they more resemble the French, who, in spite of their reputation for being unruly, are the most docile, enduring, easily-governed people in the world, until they are aroused, when—then look out!

[Pg 289]



Jonathan has such a large family of his own to think of and look after at home that he has not much time to spare for concerning himself about what is going on in other people's houses.

He takes a general interest in them, likes to be kept acquainted with what is happening in the world, in Europe especially; he feels sympathy for most people, antipathy to one, but it would be difficult to say, so far as the names of the American people are concerned, that he has a predilection for any particular nation more than for any other.

The largest foreign element in the United States is German, Scandinavian, and Irish; but they are all now digested and assimilated, and they inspire no particular feeling in the breast of Uncle Sam for the respective countries they originally came from. He asks them to be, and they are, good American citizens, ready to fight his battles on election day or, if need be, on the battlefield.

There is no 'most favoured' nation in the American[Pg 290] character, which in this respect is opportunist to the greatest degree.

During the war with Spain the Americans were pro-English, because they had the moral support of the English, or thought they had.

In 1895, during the Venezuelan difficulty, they were above all anti-English. Just at present their love of the English is somewhat cooler, because they wonder whether England was really friendly and sincere during the Spanish-American War, and because their sympathy was for the Boers who, in their eyes, rightly or wrongly, bravely fought for their liberty and independence as the Americans did 125 years ago.

When Prince Henry visited the United States, the Americans regarded his visit as a great compliment paid to their country, and a delicate advance and attention on the part of the German Emperor.

Then Germany naturally came to the front, and, at the time, might with reason have been called the nation nearest to the heart of Jonathan. Prince Henry was fêted, banqueted, liked, and when the steamer took him home, he was remembered with pleasure and forgotten, and Germany resumed her position of foreign nation, just like that of any other.

The English, who buy inventions, but seldom make them, are now starting the rumour that the Prince of Wales has been invited to visit the United States. The idea is not very original, not any more than that of King Edward having a racing yacht built in America,[Pg 291] and sending his son over to be present at its launching and christening. That sort of thing may be overdone.

If, however, the Prince of Wales went to America, he would be received with open arms, the 'blood-thicker-than-water' business, and the 'kin-and-kith' cry would be indulged in during his visit, after which everything would resume its normal state.

If the President of the French Republic could be induced to visit America, the Americans would become pro-French; Lafayette, the 'never-to-be-forgotten helper of the Americans' in their struggle for liberty and independence, would be resurrected, and this visit would, perhaps, be the one most likely to go straight to the hearts of the Americans, as, in this case, the visit paid would bring to the United States the very head of the French nation and the President of a great Republic, the sister Republic.

But the visit over, I have no doubt that Jonathan would resume his business habits, forget all about it, and only remember a little excitement and a good time.

Let me, however, advise any royalty, English or other, to wait a little before visiting America. For a long time there will be no originality, no novelty even, about the presence of a real Prince in the United States, and the Americans are particularly fond of novelties. They want a constant change in the programme.

[Pg 292]



A lady, an intimate friend of the late Alphonse Karr, was one day on a visit to the famous French author, and noticing in his library the statuettes of the Venus of Milo and a few other classical beauties, she said to him: 'I am afraid you are wrong to feast your eyes on those exquisite faces and perfect forms, because they very seldom exist in real life, and they can only make you feel disappointed and spoil your mind. When you go to a ballroom, I imagine that there are few women, if any, that you are not inclined to criticise.'

For the same reason I will answer a lady correspondent, who asks me whether she should encourage or even allow her daughters to read novels: No, young people should not read novels. Instead of infusing into their minds sensible ideas about the stern realities of life, they portray disinterestedness that is overdone, beauty that is rarely seen outside of museums, devotion that has been very uncommon since the days of the Crusaders, love that has been unheard of since the death of Orpheus and Eurydice, pluck that died with Bayard and Bertrand du Guesclin; and I am not sure that,[Pg 293] loathsome as they are to me, I would not recommend the novels of the realistic school rather than those of the romantic school to young people of both sexes; for if the former make you feel fairly disgusted with humanity, they do not, like the latter, fill the minds of youth with illusions that are destined to be blown to the four winds of the earth by the realities of life. In fact, I know some novels which young people might read, and also some which they ought to read; but I believe I could count them all on the fingers of my two hands. Let young people study life from life, listen to the experience of those who have lived, frequent people who have found happiness and met with success in life. This will much better make them serve their apprenticeship.

Yes, I say, avoid reading all novels, and, above all, the sentimental ones—those that make young girls believe that husbands are lovers who spend their lives at the feet of their wives making love to them, and young men imagine that wives are sweethearts who have nothing to do but coo and try to look pretty. Let young people read books that will help make them sensible and cheerful, books of travels and adventures, books of pleasant philosophy, of common-sense and humour. Boyhood, girlhood, as well as young manhood and womanhood, should be spent in cheerful surroundings, for nothing leads better to morality than cheerfulness. If I had a house full of young people, I would have my house ring all day long with the peals[Pg 294] of laughter of my boys and girls. Fun of the good, wholesome sort, humour and gaiety, should be the daily food of youth, and only books that supply it should be given to them.

On the whole, there is not much to choose between the novels of the realistic school, that would make you believe that the world is full of murderers, forgers, men and women with diseased minds, novels that reek of disinfectants, and make you feel as you do when you come out of a hospital and your clothes are permeated with a smell of carbolic acid, and the novels of the sentimental school, that would lead you to believe that all the male and female geese who are their heroes and heroines have the slightest chance of being successful in life.

People should already know a great deal of real life before they get acquainted with the way in which it is represented in novels.

[Pg 295]



I confess that I am a little tired, and I will say so frankly, of continually hearing such phrases as 'What is home without a mother?' 'God bless our mother!' and so forth. I should like to use an Americanism and ask, 'Now, pray, what's the matter with father?'

I cannot help thinking that children would grow just as sensible if they sometimes heard a word of praise bestowed on their fathers instead of being loaded with an endless litany of all the virtues of mother.

Mother's love, mother's devotion, mother's influence, mother's this, and mother's that. Now, father does exist, and occasionally makes himself useful enough to stand in no need of an apology for daring to exist.

He generally loves his children, and sometimes feels that he cannot compete with his wife in their affections, simply because she monopolizes them, not only when they are babies, but after they are out of infancy. He resents it, but, as a rule, resigns himself to what he is made to believe inevitable.

The first duty of a woman is to teach her children to love their father, and, as they grow up, to teach them[Pg 296] to respect him and admire him. It is her duty to hide from her children any little thing that might cause them to lose the least respect or admiration towards him.

But, out of one hundred women, will you find one who will not be of opinion that mother is foremost?

When a woman has become a mother, her vanity, though often full of repose, gets the best of her. She is a mother, and thinks she is the most important thing in the world. Yet, as I say elsewhere, it is no extraordinary testimonial for a woman to be fond of her children. All mothers are fond of their children and good to them—why, even the fiercest and cruellest of animals. The feeling is given to them by Nature. We all profit by it; we are all happier for it. For being able to dispense maternal love woman is to be admired and blessed, but not congratulated. A child is part and parcel of a mother. In loving a child a woman loves part of herself. It is not selfishness so much as self-love. When she brings up her children for herself, for the love of herself, without doing her utmost to see that their father gets his share; when, thanks to her own trumpeting, her house rings only with 'God bless our mother!' she is guilty of an act of terrible injustice.

The vanity of some women is such that some expect a pedestal—nay, an altar—when the spring-cleaning of their house is over.

I know men who work with one view only—that of bringing up their children in comfort, giving them a[Pg 297] University education, and starting them in life at the cost of any sacrifice.

I know Americans who work like slaves at home so that their wives and daughters may enjoy themselves in Paris and London. For this they demand nothing except an occasional letter, which they sometimes get.

Mother is very tired! She has had to pay calls, go to so many 'at homes,' so many garden-parties! She is exhausted; she wants a change of air immediately. Father is at his office, a dingy, badly-ventilated room. He has had no holiday for a year. He, too, would like a little change of air; but what's the matter with father? He's all right.

In the most humble stations of life we have all of us known that man who gets up at five o'clock in the morning, lights the fire to cook a bit of breakfast for himself, gets his tools and starts to his daily labour, wiping off the dew of the dawn on his boots while many a mother is sleeping. With his hard-earned wages he pays the butcher, the grocer, the milkman and the baker. He stands off the wolf and the bailiff and pays the rent.

What's the matter with father? How blessed that home would be without him!

I know there are loafers who refuse the work that would enable them to support their wives and children. There are also good steady workmen who at home find nothing awaiting them except the sight of a drunken[Pg 298] woman, who not only has not prepared a meal for him, but has spent his hard-earned money, and not uncommonly even pawned the baby's shoes to get brandy or gin with. 'What's home without a mother?' 'God bless our mother!'

Do give father a chance, if you please.






'Max O'Rell has in this volume given us another entertaining and delightful dissertation upon woman and her kind. What Max O'Rell does not know about the sex to which he has not the honour to belong is hardly worth knowing.'—St. James's Gazette.

'It is too late in the day to dwell upon the features of style which render the work of Max O'Rell such easy and agreeable reading, and it is unnecessary to illustrate his pretty gift of phrase-making. He has gained his own place among popular authors, and offers no sign of vacating it.'—Pall Mall Gazette.

'We hardly know whether to recommend the book to our readers or not. They will not put it down, once begun—that is certain.'—Spectator.

'Max O'Rell, in his new book, expresses in his own peculiar and entertaining way many witty, satirical, and humorous ideas on the subject of the "eternal woman."'—Daily Express.

'Max O'Rell is always entertaining, and provokes friendly discussion as readily as any writer I know. His new book contains many aphorisms, and some of them are very good.'—British Weekly.

'Max O'Rell supplies, not for the first time, a delightful mixture of commonplace and common-sense.'—Daily Chronicle.

'We have no doubt a great many people will enjoy the book, and the enjoyment will be innocent and wholesome.'—Academy.

'Max O'Rell's chaff is excellent, and all in perfect good taste.'—Pelican.

'The genial author takes up the cudgels on behalf of the better-looking sex in a way which should make his book tremendously popular with lady readers—especially the married ones.... A very entertaining book.'—Golden Penny.

'Contains some delightful reading.... It is a book happy in idea, felicitous in expression, cynically frank and refreshing in its candour.'—Gossip.

'Another collection of amusing and epigrammatic essays.... Max O'Rell, as everyone knows, has the gift of discoursing fluently and amusingly on any subject on which he touches, and to English and American people his good-humoured criticisms are particularly valuable, as they are not only sound and sane in themselves, but they are written from an outside standpoint.'—Morning Leader.

'Women will not feel sorry that Max O'Rell's last work should be his new book on the fair sex. For many a year he has helped us with his gentle raillery, cheered us with his bright humour, and taught us much. "Rambles in Womanland" contains many little personal reminiscences and revelations, and its author's wit is undimmed. The book is full of epigrams, bons mots, and piquant criticisms.'—Gentlewoman.

'Max O'Rell's last book will add to the regret that his genial pen will write no more. Usually there is a tone of gaiety in what he says, but at all times he discusses important problems with all seriousness, and with not a little of the wisdom with which a wide knowledge of the world had endowed him. Max O'Rell's writings have always been notable for witty epigrammatic sentences.... His last work is a bright and engaging book.'—Daily Telegraph.

'With a pretty wit and a turn for epigram this writer can scarcely be dull, and no one will turn to one or other of these chatty chapters without being pleasantly entertained.'—Scotsman.

'Liveliness, amiability, charm, honourable sentiment, humour, every quality that the best kind of French culture produces, are open to anyone who can read English in the pages of Max O'Rell. Every page of these "Rambles" is sprinkled over with aphorisms. ... This most entertaining book.'—Vanity Fair.

'There is much that is entertaining in these short pithy comments on women's characteristics, and occasionally criticism that penetrates deep beneath the surface, and reveals a vast amount of observation and knowledge of the world.... The book is full of smart sayings and clever aphorisms.'—Publishers' Circular.

'Whatever his theme, he is always bright, and the coruscations of his wit are exceedingly diverting.... This last contribution is full of good things, placed in an amusing setting.... These are but a few maxims culled from a crowded garden.... This wonderful little volume.'—Echo.

'"Rambles in Womanland" has between its covers much wisdom, served up with a pretty garnish of wit and that wholesome sauce—common sense. Indeed, Max O'Rell has written nothing better than—in fact, nothing so good as—"Rambles in Womanland." Here we have his riper wisdom, his fuller experience; but while he has gained in wisdom or experience, he has not lost his spiciness or his power of brief, terse epigram.'—Black and White.

'Full of sparkling common-sense.'—T. P.'s Weekly.

'There is enough fresh material to commend these "Rambles in Womanland" to those who have enjoyed rambling through the author's entertaining writings.'—Morning Post.

Transcriber's Notes:Apart from one misprint correction on page 157 ("necesssity" changed to "necessity") and a few punctuation corrections, no other modifications have been made in the original text for this HTML version.