"Sag mir, wer einst das Kussen efrund?
Das war ein gluhend glucklicher Mund;
Er kusste und dachte Nichts daberi." - Heine
Many are the varieties of kisses; as many, probably, as the varieties of kisses; as many, probably, as the variety of lips— and of the owners thereof. And a kiss may mean so very much— or so very little. Wherefore look not upon the lips when they are red;— for although a kiss is a small thing, so is a spark. And always, though a smile is an open window, a kiss is an open door.
Strange — strange — that from the momentary contact of lip with lip, an infinitesimal surface of epithelial tissue, there an be called up from the deeps of the soul emotions strange as deep; emotions vague and thrilling; emotions to the which to give utterance those lips are themselves all powerless. And when to the conjoined lips there is added the bliss of an up-turned eye and embracing arms..... Ah! well-a-day, there are Edens for us still, if only we will eat not of the forbidden fruit.
The value of a kiss is determined by the personage on whom it is bestowed, not by the from whom it is besought: which, if it needs any explanation, means this, that it is the man who ardently desires the kiss that puts the value upon that kiss, not the woman of whom it is desired. Yet women know that, as with commodities, so with kissings, the greater the rarity, the greater the value. Osculatory transactions there be as lasting in their results as transient in their causes. A cheek surreptitiously brushed in the dark is preferable to lips premittedly pressed by day.
What an extraordinary multiplicity of maneuvers a man will perform for "Just one kiss!" But with the precise numerical equivalent of the expression "Just one kiss" algebra has not yet been found quite able to grapple. It is believed, however, to belong to Permutations and Combinations.
There is a very decided, but wholly indefinable, line of demarcation between the kissed and the unkissed woman. In other words, the "status quo ante exosculationem" can never be re-established: hitherto the kisses may have been friends; henceforward they may be... they may be..... But who shall say to what kissing may lead? Besides, much more kissing than is supposed goes by purchase than by favor. All which, probably, will be Greek to the uninitiated. Nevertheless, and at all times, and in all places, a kiss is like faith: it is "the evidence of things not seen, the substance of things hoped for."
How appalling the immensity of the results due to the minutest of causes — a burning city from a lighted match; a life-long tragedy from a stolen kiss! In truth, Fate is often another name for Folly.
A woman who is afraid of a kiss knows much. Amongst other things, perhaps, that kisses, like misfortunes, rarely come singly— and bear many things in their train.
Despite the varieties of beards and mustachios, never will you hear from your osculatrix the source of her knowledge of that variety. If by any chance the divulgence leaks out— how the girl beshrews the mischance! For, though the man may hold his peace, she knows that she gives him to think.
It takes two to make a quarrel. Yes: and it takes two to make the reconciliating kiss.
Chalepon to mae philaesai
Chalepon de kai philaesai - Anacreon
Perhaps the pleasantest and most satisfactory period in a girl's life is the time of her first youthful engagement: Never is a girl more jubilant, never more buoyant, never so charming, so blithesome, or so debonair, as when she is the gazetted about-to-be bride of the man of her girlish choice. For during her engagement, a girl is owned and petted; and ownership and petting are dear to women—whether young or old: ownership is proof, at all events, that she is of value to the man— else the man would not sought to make her his; and petting is proof that the man properly appreciates the value. Yet meanwhile, anomalous as it may sound, the engaged girl is still her own property, and is practically free. Besides, what more delectable to a girl than to have captured and kept a real man? This flatters her, uplifts her, makes of her a woman at once: she holds her head higher she carries herself with an air; she shows off her capture. Besides, also, the engaged girl is looked up to by her compeers, is congratulated y her elders. Even if she keeps the engagement secret, these compeers and congratulatresses do not (sometimes, alas! To her detriment). In addition to all this, what delight so unique as the preparation of the trousseau! Trousseau! — it is a name of mystical import to man. A woman's trousseau is symbol of two things— and perhaps dimly indicative of a third: it proves— what needs no proof— that, such is the unselfish nature of Love, never can it give enough, never enhance too much the gifts it gives. Accordingly the bride goes to the man appareled and bedecked to the best of her ability; (ii) It is a subtle tribute to the sensibility of man, of the man in love, who is stimulated and pleased by dainty, it may be diaphanous, raiment. Lastly, since even that supernal thing Love is not unconcerned with matters practical, (iii) It bespeaks as prophetic suspicion of the little fact that perhaps it is well to go to her husband's home abundantly provided with dainty raiment, inasmuch as the man not in love is not always so delicately sensible of their need.
A girl's first engagement is peculiarly sweet: long does she remember, long meditatively dwell upon, its pettiest incidents. For, if any man dared give utterance to so outrageous an assumption, the emoluments of a promise to marry are as sweet to the donatress as undoubtedly they are to the accepter. And why not, pray? Nevertheless, a certain practical sobriety supervenes upon subsequent affairs of the heart. For the recurrence of love is apt to spoil its romance. And yet— and yet — it is a question which woman after woman has put herself, in vain, whether 't would have been wiser to have accepted and retained the romantic love of unthinking youth, or to have waited for the more sober affection of the years of discretion. Perhaps a girl hardly knows all that is meant by that thing called "love" or what is entailed upon her by that thing called an "engagement". She has played with love so much, that when a real and serious love is offered her, she still thinks it the toy that amused her. But soon enough does the man, if he is earnest— and a man never proposes unless he is in earnest — enlighten the girl of his choice: for to a man, love never is a toy— though mere lust may be: men never play with love, as do girls: they play with lust,— as they play with bats and balls and fire-arms; when men fall in love, they fall in love with a vengeance; and the seriousness with which the man falls in love startles the girl. The man demands so much; is so exacting; so peremptory; so unyielding; so frightfully selfish; so terribly jealous of the slightest look or smile or gesture bestowed upon any other than he, that the girl..... well, the girl probably begins to think, either that the man is an unreasonable brute, or that her girlish notions of love were somewhat astray. Then one or two things happens: either the man goes off in a huff; or the girl mends her ways.
The recurrence of a love is a great shock to love. Love thinks itself a think unique, unalterable, supreme; a thing not made out of the flux and change of earthly affairs, but heaven-born and descended from the skies; that it should go and come seems to destroy the fundamental conception of love.
The affianced man thinks he has won him the sweetest, the most sacrosanct thing that ever trode God's earth outside of Eden: a bundle of blisses, a compact little mass of exquisite mysteries, whose every tint and curve and motion are to him sources of wonderment and delight; he is at once humbled and exalted; he thanks high Heaven for the gift; for that comport himself worthy of such gift; for that this wondrous and mysterious little thing called "a woman" should of her own accord put herself in his arms, to be by him and by him alone cherished and nurtured till death them do part— this indeed gives the male heart a very sobering, a very ennobling thrill; for beneath the heaving breast he so passionately loves, behind the eyes into the depths of which he so passionately looks, there stirs, he knows, that ineffable, that indefinable thing, a woman's heart; and that TO HIM has been committed the keeping of that heart— this rouses in him the manly virtues as no other thing rouses them. Strong is the man who can live up to these emotions; sage the woman who knows what she has aroused.
The philanderer or the flirt— to whom love-making and love-taking have been a pasttime — is appalled at the seriousness of love when real love is offered him or her. For often enough the philanderer or the flirt thinks compliments and cajolery the food of love: in time they discover that love is a veritable sarcophagus!
Many an accepted lover (both masculine and feminine) tries to make up for coldness of passion by warmness of affection: a subterfuge of dubious efficacy. For though affection seeks affection, passion is only appeased by passion. Yet when one loves passionately, and the other languidly accepts, it is well perhaps for that other sometimes to be a little "unfaithful to the truth" (Tennyson, "Love and Duty") and to simulate an unfelt ardor. But, always this is of questionable value, for love abhors simulation of anything even of ardor.
If mutual confidence is not established at the moment of betrothal, it will never afterwards be established. And woeful will be the plight of those between whom mutual confidence is not then established. For mutual confidence is the only atmosphere in which love can breathe.
An engaged man, like a hungry man, is an irascible man. And How often a fiancée is sore put to it, not only to satisfy him, but to pacify him!
A woman will often blandly ask why the two rivals to her hand should not be friends! Yet it is significant of much that she does her utmost to keep them apart! Indeed, in no instance are a woman's tact and finesse so exercised as in playing off one man against another. And yet usually she delights in the task; for being-made-love-to is to women what killing — whether of men or of animals — is to men. In a word, to be sought after is to woman what war or the chase is to man.
The moment a woman accepts a man, then and there he becomes her lord and master. And this she unconsciously knows— nay, expects. If the man does not then and there exercise his lordship and show his mastery, he will find it difficult to do it later on. But of course no woman will ever be got to admit that her newly-won man is her master. Nevertheless it is counsel that every man should lay to heart, for unless a woman is dominated (N.B. not dominated over), she tries to get the upper hand. And only two instances there are in which the woman should retain the upper hand: when the man is either a philosopher or a fool; when a man is both (and the combination is not uncommon), she would be a fool if she did not retain the upper hand! But little does a woman esteem him to does not sway— nay, who does not sacrifice, it may be: her to his will.
Of that engaged pair who can confidingly speak the one to the other of the dawn of their mutual attraction, little need be feared; if they cannot, very much may be feared. For love, without confidence, is as defunct as faith without works. For if M cannot confide in N, it probably means that K and L have, or that O and P will.
So tremendous are the results of the gift of self that Nature herself seems to have ordained that the feminine sacrifice shall be utter and complete. For, a man's interests may be many and diverse - the chase, the combat, the adventure, the struggle of life - and woman has but one - her family. And only through the woman is the man bound to the family; and since the family is dependent of the man, the importance a woman attaches to the binding potency of her charms is as natural and legitimate as it is utilitarian and beneficial. Many more women, and perhaps many more men, are entrapped into an engagement that would be willing to avow it. Yet every girl thinks that, given the chance, she can get any man. But few girls go through the trouble of thinking whether they can keep the man when got. Yet how to keep the man she has got, this gives many an engaged girl food for thought. Many a woman has set her cap at a man from pique at the detractions of a rival - but how she has rued it. But indeed, how many engagements are brought about anything rather than love! How engagements come about no man or woman shall tell; they are more inconsequent, more lawless, than the wind which bloweth where it listeth. Sometimes, a girl who has failed to get or to keep the man she wanted, in a rage, or in a huff, or to show that she does not want for lovers, or in sheer desperation, will engage herself again on the shortest notice and on the shallowest grounds. Sometimes, a girl will engage herself to a man simply because another and rival girl was wanting that said man. Sometimes, a shy man and a reserved maid will eat out their hearts with longing; when lo and behold, a bold girl will appear and carry off the shy man! Perhaps to the life-long chagrin and sorrow of all three.
Often, oh! how often, an awkward and sophisticated youth and a prim maid with down-cast eyes will sit together, waltz together, and the one never get one inch the nearer to the other, though soul and mind and body crave a closer union. The youth would give the solid earth— nay, the solid earth would be naught— to gain him the courage to clasp the maiden to his breast; yet, so intense his awe, he would not strain a spider's web to risk the maid's good will. The maid— who shall say what passes in her mind? That the youth should adventure, she could wish; yet his very hesitancy bespeaks his devotion true. Were he to fall about her neck, embrace her close, and demand the kiss of love— most like she would recoil aghast — at first! Yet if he desisted— she would also recoil aghast. What should he do, poor awkward youth? What she? One thing onlookers will do: smile, and simper, and smile again; but in their inmost heart of hearts they will envy that awkward youth, that simple maid. For because, in this the first symptoms of unsolicited and reciprocal love, they will recognize something of the divine and mystical nature of Love itself, of Love untrammeled by convention or law; of Love itself, in its purity, its intensity, its diffidence, its terrifying yet restraining force.
Ah! Love, not in every conflict art thou victor crowned. (Eros anikate machan. - Sophocles, Antigone, 781).
"ariston andri ktaema sympathaes gunae" - Hippothoon
Marriage laws are framed, not for or by the likes and dislikes of men and women, but by the exigencies of social, often of political, economy. Therefore men and women's likes and dislikes are obliged to conform to the usages demanded by social and political economy: so in Turkey women accept with a good grace the custom of a plurality of wives; in Tibet men accept with good grace a plurality of husbands. In the western world..... Humph! Always will there be everywhere prevalent a latent hostility between the likes and dislikes of men and women on one hand, and the laws enforced by a social and political community on the other. This is why always there will be those who will try to "reform" the marriage state: some looking only to the likes and dislikes of men and women, others only to the advantages which shall accrue to the State. So, some there will be will always advocate a loosening of the marriage bond, others who will seek to make it indissoluble. Both should remember that the unit of the State is the family; therefore the State makes laws, not to suit the tastes or convenience of the husband and the wife, but for the good and preservation of the family. All of which, surely, is right and proper, since it is the business of the State to make laws governing the welfare of the generations to come. In fine the children— they are the pivot about which all matrimonial controversies should turn. Reformers of marriage laws should seek a preventative, not a cure; since it is doubtful whether the ills of matrimony are really curable, for, generally speaking, matrimonial incompatibility is a malignant, not a benignant, disease; its prognosis is doubtful; nor does it run a regular course.
Many are the women who, soon after marriage, silently turn over in their minds this little problem: whether it were better to marry the man they loved but who did not love them; or to marry the man who loved them but to whom they were indifferent. And the man a woman ultimately marries will give her no clue to the solution. And for the following reasons: (i) He, fond wight, does not know that any such problem is agitating her little brain; and (ii) She, of course, dare not divulge the factors of the problem. In short, most marriages are brought about by the following simple, yet fateful, consideration: The man marries the woman he wants; the woman marries the man who wants her. The two propositions, though apparently identical, often produce results very far from identical. And yet, sometimes — sometimes — that glorious dream comes true, in which a hale and heart-whole youth implants the first pure passionate kiss upon the lips of a hale and heart-whole girl.— Ah, happy twain! For them the sun shines, the great earth spins, and constellations shed their selectest influence. 'T is a dream that all youth dreams. 'T is a dream makes wakeful life worth living. Ah! the wild dream of youth! The maenad dream! The spring-time dream!
Of the maid: the dim, dim dream of stalwart man offering a love supreme without alloy, and taking, forceful, a love as flawless, as supreme; a steady breast on which to lean, strong circling arms, a face set firm against the world, a face that softens only to her up-turned eyes that seek the lover who is hers and hers alone; a dream of music, color, and the swaying dance; of rivals splendidly out-shone; of home and friends and trappings; of raiment. Retinue; of ordered bliss; and by and by, in a still dimmer far-off time, a time un-whispered to herself, of baby-fingers, baby lips.....
Of the youthful man: a vivid dream, involved, unsteady, shifting; a dream of lust and love and smoke, and flame and fame; of cuirass and horse and saber; of blood and battle; of high place; of many dominated by his look and gesture; of mighty man, and orders issued, preemptory, not to be gain said; also of lithe arms, a supple waist, sweetly-soft entwining limbs, a gentle girlish woman all his own who never was another's and always will be his; and an heir and household gods. —Ah! the wild dream of youth!
Youths, dream ye while ye may! And you, ye aged, I charge ye do not wake them: it is the dream makes wakeful life worth living. And yet— and yet, sometimes— sometimes, alack and fie for shame, things come to such a pass, between husband and wife, that a modus viviendi has to be tacitly agreed upon. In that case, alas! Too often, between husband and wife, it depends upon who is the better actor and liar— to their shame be it said. But before this happens, much else must have happened. For, here and there, ahem! we meet a woman who is like the moon: she circles sedately round, and dutifully faces, the planet to which she is united; but that planet does not know that she is irradiated and warmed by a far-distant sun— a sun which symbolizes, ahem! Duty, or Necessity, or Affection for her children, or (tell it not in Gath) Affection for another. And here and there, ahem! we meet a man who, like the sun, shines steadfastly enough upon his own earth, but shines also, all unbeknown to earth, upon other earths— and errant comets — and small aerolites. As it is usually physical or sentimental characteristics that bring a man and a woman into the field of mutual attraction, so it is generally physical or sentimental characteristics that drag them apart. Thus, A clever wife will put up with a stupid husband, and an intellectual man will get on admirably with a dull but domestic woman. But if either party to the marriage contract disregards or is unable to appease the demands made upon him or her for sympathy or emotion, there is likely to be trouble; for sentiment, not intellect, is the cementing material in marriage, and if a man and wife cannot effuse a mutual sentiment, gradually they will grow apart. Indeed, the demands of the emotions are at once more imperious and tyrannical, and more fastidious and critical, than are the demands of the mind. Of all of which, what is the moral? This: the married pair who would live in amity, not to say in affection, must so live as that each shall persuade the other is the sole personage under the roof of heaven that he or she desires. Alas! The unwritten motto of many a married couple is: The Heart Knoweth its own Bitterness.
Marriage reveals the moods of a man.
What is an ideal marriage? That perhaps in which the man is to the woman at once friend, husband, and lover. But some people prefer these functions distinct. That is a happy marriage in which a woman's husband is also her confidant. And always, Husband and wife should move like binary stars: revolving about a common centre; mutually attractive; and, unless closely viewed, presenting a single impression.
Matrimony is sometimes a terrible iconoclast. Whether it throws down the images of false or of true gods, depends on the religion of the worshipper.
It would be difficult, sometimes, to determine whether constancy was an autogenous or enforced virtue.
Never play pranks with your wife, your horse, or your razor.
There is a thing which not gold nor favor nor even love can buy. Its true name is secret; but it is content to be called Sympathy. Accordingly, let no man or woman think when he or she has won wife or husband all has been won that is necessary. For, if sympathy cannot be gained from one quarter, it will probably be sought in another.
At the moment of the formation of a matrimonial syndicate of two, each member of this as yet unincorporated joint-stock company verily believes that each has put into the concern his whole real and personal property. Yet it is to be feared that, although the woman, possibly, invests her whole capital, the man— often, no doubt, unwittingly to himself — retains not a few unmatured bonds and debentures. That is to say, Love, it is to be feared, is often enough a bargain in which the woman comes off second-best. For a woman gives herself; man accepts the gift. Rarely, if ever, does a man give himself. He cannot. His work, his play, his politics, his friends, his club— these are matters to him highly important. To a woman the only highly important things are: her husband and her home.
A woman rules until she tries to rule, which will be an enigma to many. Out of a wife's obedience will grow her governance; never out of her dominance. Those who think this sheer nonsense, are welcome to think so. But it is worth thinking about. A man ought to rule his wife. Granted. But he cannot do this unless he rules himself. The Colonel of a Regiment cannot command if he himself breaks the King's or the State's Regulations. And an uncontrolled wife deems her husband indifferent— or weak. The number of husbands who, though they think they rule, yet in reality are ruled, would astonish— not their wives, but themselves. It is customary to call the man the head of the household; yet, between man and wife, it is a question after all whether it is not the stronger will and the cooler judgment that should, and generally does, guide the family, independent of sex or custom.
As in the solar spectrum, so in love: beyond and intermingled with the visible rays of passion are numerous actinic but invisible rays of affection, invisible to careless spectators, but known and felt by the recipients. These, too, must be introduced if the connubial domicile is to be warmed as well as illuminated.
The marriage tie loosens all other ties. In fact, neither men or women are always aware of the absoluteness of the marriage tie: thenceforward the woman belongs not to her own people, hardly to herself.— As to the man, well, often a wife will actually be jealous of the time and attention her husband spends on things and matters unconnected with her— his work — his play — his politics — his friends — his club.
Many are there who still believe that the marriage service, like a legal indenture, irrevocably entails the whole estate of a human heart. In sober truth, there never was a married couple yet who had not to purchase their own happiness. And the only charms that increase in value as time goes on are the charms of character; beside these, those of person, and even those of mind, are weak. In short, in marriage, as in every human relationship, it is character that avails and prevails, naught else.
Chemists draw a distinction between a chemical and a mechanical mixture. Moralists might discover the same in marriage.
To encircle monogamy with an ever-increasing halo of romance— that is a problem deserving of study. Monogamy is one of the disharmonies of life; it seems (as I have said) to be the decree of politics rather than of nature. But surely polygamy or polyandry would be more disharmonious still.
Marriage renders no one immune. That is to say; unless husband and wife both avoid infection, both can catch amatory fevers.
The woman who has learned how to minister to a man's creature comforts has learned much. And it has disconcerted many a young wife to discover how important a part of her education this is! Since it is certainly sometimes hard to reconcile a suitor's poetic protestations with a spouse's prosaic requisitions.
In the game of life a man may venture many stakes; a woman's fate is determined by a single throw of the dice. Thus, how often it happens that a young and inexperienced maid will look about her, will weigh and consider, will pick and choose, and, when she thinks she has found a man to her purpose, will set her cap at him will attract him, enslave him, bring him to her feet, make him propose, accept him as husband, give him all the sweets of engagement, regard herself and proclaim herself his affianced bride — all with most prudential — it may be, most praise-worthy—motives. On a sudden, the man discovers that this was no real attachment, but a fictitious, almost an enforced, one; that the methods (so he thinks) were artificial, the results delusive. What happens? The man withdraws— politely —gallantly: t'was a mistake; he is sorry; they are unsuited; he did not know his own mind; he is sorry;— and so on, and so forth. They separate. And, in this concatenation of circumstances, action for breach of promise is out of the question. Besides, often enough, the girl, through pride or through sheer chagrin at the indifference of the man, pretends acquiescence. What happens to the man? Nothing. If his senses were stirred, he himself is heart-whole. He gave nothing; he merely received. He proposes again to somebody else; is accepted; marries happily; rears a family. What happens to the girl? Everything. The man gave her nothing; she gave all— her lips, her looks, the recesses of her heart; the premonitions of the gift of her self; for, when she leant on him, looked up to him, clung to him, felt his strong encircling arms, was perturbed by his ardor, she gave that which was not to give again. Such woman is to be pitied. For, however much she may strive to make it appear that she gave nothing, that she had all to give again, not even her own soul will bear her witness, and sooner, or later, a subsequent lover (and such girl accepts the first lover that offers) will find a void where he hoped to find an inexhaustible treasure. For the woman cannot forever keep up a fictitious affection; and languid looks, and eyes that will not brighten, and smiles which are so evidently forced, bespeak her sympathies elsewhere. But, as Heine said*, this is an old story often repeated.
*(Ein Jungling leibt ein Madchen,
Die hat einen Andern erwahlt;
Der Andre leibt eine Andre,
Und hat sich mit Dieser vermahlt.
Das Madchen heirathet aus Arger
Den ersten, besten Mann,
Der ihr in den Weg gelaufen;
Der Jungling ist ubel dran.
Es ist alte Geschichte,
Doch bleibt sie immer neu;
Und wem sie just passieret,
Dem bricht das Herz entzwei.
—Buch der Lieder, 39.)
Wherefore let us pity women! The dice they throw are their hearts— and they have only one throw:— when they have thrown away their hearts— Pity women! Men have so many dice to throw: income, status, title; virility, fortune, fame; good spirits, good connections, good looks; an air, a figure, a soul-stirring voice; manners, breeding, force; a good name, a good bank account. The pity o' it is that the whole marriage question revolves about a single point: The man wants him a woman, a woman who shall be his and only his; the woman wants her a head of a home. And here again, and once again, we see the difference between the sexes:— The one thing that the man wants is: a mate; the one thing that a woman wants is: a head and provider of a household. The man's thoughts never go beyond the woman; the woman's thoughts always and at once travel far beyond the man— to the children, the household, the home. This is great Nature's inexorable law. But little knows the woman, and less knows the man, that the nubile girl is merely obeying great Nature's inexorable law. What price woman pays for her high office! for in this implicit, unquestioning, and unconscious obedience to Nature she performs perhaps her highest function. On all accounts, therefore, let us pity women! They obey so faithfully great Nature's law, and Nature so often plays them false— so very false, and so very often. Besides, the woman who gives her hand without her heart finds in time that she has made a sorry bargain— a sorrier bargain, perhaps, that the woman who gives her heart with out her hand. For, passionately as a man desires a woman, the passionately-desired woman will in time discover that, unless she gives her heart with her hand, her gift suffers depreciation. And unless a woman gives her heart, how can she give her aid? Surely, unless a man's armor is buckled on for the strife of life by feminine sympathy, the fight is apt to be a sorry one at best; since a woman's true business is to back her husband: if SHE leaves him in the lurch, there is little hope for him. For of a truth the strongest man is handicapped in the struggle for existence unless he knows and feels that his wife is at his side— not pushing him so much as leaning upon him.
To simulate passion for an hour is possible; to simulate a life-long love — that is hard. For love is a thing unique and unalterable (in spite of its various alloys); clip the coin, and it will not pass current. For ideal matrimony is founded on a mono-metallic basis: no amount of silver will be accepted for gold. And yet, how often M loves and N accepts the love! Poor M! Also (in the long run), poor N! That, indeed, is a happy marriage where M gives and wants just what N wants and gives: where M and N just want each other. For give and take is the rule of a community of two, as it is of a community of ten thousand; the ideal (and probably impossible) industrial community is that in which demand and supply are in exact equipoise. The same holds good in matrimony.
In wedlock, a virtuous, has probably less force than a vicious, example. That is to say, a frivolous spouse is more apt to drag the couple down than is a serious spouse apt to lead the couple up. And many a mate there is (both masculine and feminine) feels like a pack-mule treading a precipitous pass.
Of every Audrey her Touchstone should be able proudly to say, "A poor... ...thing, Sir, but mine own". In other words, the homely violet deserves as tender cherishing as the rare exotic.
What portion of himself or herself any one complicated physical and psychological human being really and truly 'conveys' to another by means of the simple contract known as the "plighted troth" or that of a larger deed called the called the "solemnization of matrimony", is a riddle difficult of solution; and as to how much one may claim on the strength of one or other of these indentures, that is a more difficult problem still.
In no amatorial contract, probably, is it possible to include or to enumerate all the hereditaments, messuages, or appurtenances, involved. Certainly how great so ever the community of interest, M and N remain for ever M and N. Is there not always something in the "eternal feminine" which cannot quite coalesce with the ephemeral masculine? Probably, trust your wife with your purse, and seven times out of ten it will grow heavy.
Many a woman, by man, is accepted at her face value. Many a man, by woman, is taken on trust. It is difficult to tell whether more bad debts are contracted by giving credit than by taking at face value. For the promissory note of marriage is undated and unendorsed. But children act as collateral security.
How often a girl, even an affianced girl, accustomed to a multiplicity of admirers, forgets the man of her ultimate choice she must then and there set above all other claimants! If the man the woman chooses for husband does not stand in her estimation absolutely first and all other claimants nowhere there is bound sooner or later to be trouble. For no man will play second fiddle to any body or any thing; and the realm amatory is a monarchial, not a republican, one. In all realms, there must be a ruler, whether elected or hereditary. Always a divided sway results in schism, whether in the family or in the state. And although often enough the wife proves herself the more effective Sovereign, the forms of monarchy must be conceded to the man, even though the executive is left to the woman. How often the only breast to which one can go on to "rain out the heavy mist of tears" is the one inhibited! Two wills are not so easily blended into one as that the task may be left to Cupid. Yet, unless Cupid has a hand in blending two wills, it is bound to be a sorry business at best. Always and in all wedlock there comes a time when will conflicts with will. If both wills are inflexible, one must break— or both will fly apart. But love and tact will relieve many a strain. Though sometimes one discovers that human eyes have a certain store of tears. It is not difficult to weep them all away. However, in the final rupture between man and wife, it is the children that turn the scales. But, O ye young husbands and wives, remember that youth regards the whole world as its friend; age finds itself desolate in the midst of friends. Wherefore, O youth, cleave unto the wife of thy bosom; since a loving wife is worth a multitude of friends. Sweet are friends, and fame is sweet; but sweeter far a wifely heart whereon to lay a weary head. But each married pair must solve its own difficulties as best it can. If any advice were worth the offering, it would be this: O ye Husbands, and O ye Wives, if not for your own sakes then for your children's, lead a straight, clean, honorable life; any other sort of life leads to despicability, to dismalness, to disaster. Which only means, after all, that in the marriage relation, as in every relation— the social, the industrial, the commercial, the political — it is conduct, it is character, that counts, nothing else; Beauty — Wealth — Culture — Grace — Wit — Intellect — Sprightliness — Vivacity — Humor — these are much but they are simply naught, and less than naught, when just this simple, single, yet insatiable thing called Man wants to live amicably, affectionately, martially, with that simple, single, but incomprehensible thing called Woman. Character — Conduct — rule the world, the Matrimonial equally with the Municipal.
"The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked; who can know it?" - Holy Writ
It does not take much to make two hearts beat faster than one.
The heart can deceive itself when it cannot deceive another. Which will be cold comfort to some lovers, though it may console others.
To admit a sacred visitant into the inner recesses of the human heart, those recesses must be neat indeed. Remember, too, that you can never expect an angel to act as a charwoman; the sweeping must be done by the owner. Lastly, unless each heart is permitted access to the other, their union is fictitious, perhaps perilous. Explain these tropes who can.
No man can tell to whom a woman's heart belongs; not even the man who calls the woman "his". And let no man imagine that when he has won him a woman, he has won him a woman's heart. Since, sometimes a woman will give her heart to one man and her troth to another. Besides, many a heart is hard to read— especially if it is a palimpsest. Indeed, many are illegible to their owners. Nevertheless, That the woman should not know her own heart (as so often happens) terrifies the woman as much as it exasperates the man. Yet, that must be a curious love that causes the heart to hesitate. And yet, many a man has debated for months whether to propose or not; and sometimes a woman will accept on a Friday the man that she refused point-blank of a Tuesday. But perhaps, where the heart hesitates, it is not so much a case of love as a case of convenience. For, an overwhelming love leaves the heart of either doubt or debate. But alas, the human heart seems to be an anatomical engine of such intricate and delicate mechanism that its workings are uncontrollable even by its owner.
Is a constant heart as hard a thing to manufacture in the world of life as is an immobile thing in the world of matter? And matter, so they say, is immobile only at absolute zero— when bereft of even molecular motion: a thing impossible to produce, and which to produce would require incalculable pressure and almost incalculable cold. (Is there no chemical formula for fixing the impression of the heart?)
Who really held Burns his heart in thrall, Nelly Fitzpatrick or Mary Campbell or Ellison Begbie or Margaret Chalmers or Charlotte Hamilton or Jenny Cruikshank or Anne Park or Jean Armour or Mrs. Whelpdale or Mrs. Agnes McLehose? and who the heart of Goethe — Gretchen or Kitty Shonkopf or Frederica Brion or Charlotte Buff or Lily Shonemann or the Countess Augusta or Charlotte van Stein or Bettina Brentano or Mariana von Willemer— or his wife, Christina Vulpius?
However, whether it is a provision of Nature, or whether it is due to the perversity of Man, probably the feminine heart is far more constant than the masculine, and perhaps any one of Goethe's or of Burns his inamoratas would have clung to him had he been faithful to her. And yet, would you have had Shelley stick to Harriet Westbrooke? and how shall one interpret his feelings for Amelia Viviani? What would have happened if Keats had lived and married Fanny Brawne— she who flirted with somebody else while he was sick and did not even know that he was a poet? Yet she was an inspiration to Keats, as Mary Godwin (and Amelia Viviani) were to Shelley (See the Dedication of "The Revolt of Islam" (and see the "Epipsychidion"). Ought Byron to have said 'No' to Claire or Lady Caroline Lamb or the Countess Guiccioli or any one of the many maids and matrons that besieged his heart? Could anything have kept Rosina Wheeler and Bulwer Lytton side by side, —Rosina Wheeler to whom, before marriage, Lytton could find write, "Oh, my dear Rose! Where shall I find words to express my love for you?" and to whom, after marriage, he wrote, "Madam, The more I consider your conduct and your letter, the more unwarrantable they appear"?
God in heaven! what a pitiful game it all is! And alas! as George Sand says, "All this, you see, is a game that we are playing, but our heart and life are the stakes, and that has an aspect which is not always pleasing." (Letter to Alfred de Musset.)
Many a man's heart has been treated as a football. Yes; but many a woman's heart has been treated as a shuttlecock.
Human beings there are— both men and women — out of whom, at a mere touch, virtue seems to go: converse with them is stimulating; contact enthralling. And yet, powerful as physical or as mental attraction may be, permanently to retain the attracted object requires a profounder force. Perhaps, though, beauty and grace and brilliancy may attract; it is only something far more deep-seated that retains. In other words, charm of body and mind may appeal to body and mind; only the heart appeals to the heart. Those who know not this, and they are many, permit the heart to leak through the senses; with the result that, when demands are made upon the heart, that cistern is found to have run dry. So, to philanderers and to flirts, when a great and true love comes, they do not comprehend it, and they cannot appreciate it. Wherefore, would-be lover, keep thy heart intact until it be required of thee.
You need not imagine that, because you have once been permitted to see some way down into a human heart, that you will necessarily ever again be so permitted.
Hard words break no bones. But they often break hearts.
Drink is too often the refuge of the masculine, and a rich husband the refuge of the feminine, broken heart.
Extreme youth thinks the world is a toyshop— where anything may be had for the asking; old age regards it as a museum — where nothing may be touched.
No heart, under repeated temperings, can remain forever keen. And as a little body sometimes has a very big pain; so an aching heart wonders that it can bear so much. And what takes place in the quiet deeps of a troubled heart, who shall know?
The way to the heart is not through the head: between heart and heart, there are many channels. But three are in universal use: the eyes, the lips, and the finger-tips. Now the greatest of these is the eyes.
The masculine heart will never wholly understand the feminine, nor the feminine the masculine. (O the pity o' it!) And yet, after all, the human heart is much more the same, whether it beats under a cuirass or under a corset.
Between the masculine heart and the feminine, perfect frankness is perhaps of questionable import. But why? It is difficult to say. Perhaps because the aspirations and desires of the human heart are infinite and unappeasable. To attempt to formulate them is to frustrate them. For it is as impossible for any two human hearts, as it is impossible for any two material things, to occupy the same space. Especially when we remember that between the masculine heart and the feminine is a great gulf fixed. Nay, rather from youth to age, each human heart seems unwittingly to build about itself a high and ever higher-growing wall, impenetrable, indelapidable, not to be scaled by the look or speech or gesture. Never can heart coalesce with heart. And yet the absolute and intimate coalescence of heart with heart— is not this, after all, the consummation that every lover seeks? To attempt that consummation by mere speech, it is this that is of questionable import. Since between heart and heart, speech is the paltriest of channels.
What a thin—yet what an invisible and impenetrable—film separates those two worlds: the one, that of the visible, audible, and tangible, the world of chatter and laughter, of convention, often of make-believe; and the other, the world of deep and voiceless emotions, of the feelings which know not how to give themselves utterance, of affections which crave so much and are so impotent to say or to seek what they crave! It is like a layer of ice separating the hidden and soundless deeps from the aerial world of noise and motion. —What would not one heart give to break the icy crust and see and know what was really passing in another? —And how often we drown if we do break through!
The isolation of the individual human heart is complete. It is the most pathetic past in the universe, and it is that against which the individual human heart rebels most. There must be some profound and cosmic problem underlying this fact which no philosophy— and no religion — can solve. That it is pathetic seems to prove it temporary, earthly, a matter of time and space; but, when will the individual human heart coalesce with the Heart of the Universe — which, perhaps, is the goal of all Life? For it may be that these little terrestrial human individuals which we call men and women are after all only tiny and temporary centers of conscious activity in an ocean of infinite consciousness; as atoms are but tiny and temporary centers of energy in an ocean of infinite ether. Could we see the sum total of Supreme and Infinite Consciousness at a glance, perhaps individual men and women would dissolve into a mighty unity, could see and comprehend the whole of the luminiferous ether. Well, perhaps love is the only known means by which the individual heart can make any expansion whatsoever beyond its own bounds. Yet, alas! Nothing seems to break down the barriers of sense. The human heart beats its ineffectual wings in vain against the walls of its fleshly tabernacle. Will nothing unite the Boy and the Girl? Will nothing bring the Man and the Woman really together? Yet the Boy thinks that, were the Girl wholly his, he and she would be happy; and the Man thinks that, were the Woman and he to share every thought and every emotion, he and she would want naught else. Is the amalgamation impossible? Is the coalescence of thought and feeling outside the bounds of human possibility? What, then, impels mankind to crave it, to attempt it, to sacrifice so much for it?— There is a cosmic puzzle here with which nor philosophy nor psychology nor religion has yet attempted to grapple. After all, pitiful as it may be, lamentable as it may be, it is true, and it must be said, that this human heart of ours goes through life hungry, very hungry and unappeased. For what it hungers, what it has missed, whereto it looks for sustenance, it itself does not know. Thus, this feminine heart sighs without ceasing for because that other masculine heart upon which it staked all its all, and an all that meant so much, proved callous and indifferent; that masculine heart ceases not to curse itself for resorting to such hasty and violent methods by which to obtain for itself an ephemeral and passing pleasure; this feminine heart eats out its life with remorse for because it gave itself so unthinkingly when asked; though of a survey it thought that asking was a thing prompted by impulses as noble as they seemed divine; and that masculine heart, when the tidal wave of heated passion has subsided, wonders how it was led captive by lures so deceptive and untried.
M regrets, and regrets in vain, that he did not await a purer and more permanent passion; and N chews for a life-time the cud of persistent remorse for an hour's poignant pleasure.
Ach! this human heart knows nothing of itself nor anything of its fellow beating hearts. If it follows its bent, it is cracked; if it holds itself in leash, it aches. If it calls reason to aid, its soaring hopes are dashed, its romance spoiled, and it itself reduced to the level of a machine that calculates. If it acts on impulse and, meeting a heart that beats, so it thinks, in unison, unites itself with it, often enough that other soon palpitates to a different rhythm, or itself cannot keep time, and all things go awry.
Poor aching, beating, human heart! It cannot reason; it cannot count the cost. To it seems that impulse, divine and mighty impulse, is the sole law of the earth; in time it learns that impulse, the mightiest, the divinest, though it may be law in heaven, is sometimes a veritable nemesis on earth: it gives freely, gladly, without compunction; it finds the gift rewarded by consequences too pitiful for tears.
Alas, this human heart! Can no one advise it Is there no advice will help it? Must it always go wrong, and always suffer?— Well — If one loves, one dare not reason; if one reasons, it is difficult to love.
There seems to be something cosmic, something transcending the bounds of the visible and tangible universe, in the desires and cravings of this same human heart; this little human heart beating blindly beneath a waistcoat or a blouse. Its owner is little bigger than a beetle or an ant, and the habitat of that owner is a speck in space; a pygmy in comparison with Sirius or Arcturus, and invisible from the ultra-telescopic confines of vision. What it makes the desires and cravings of this human heart more important, more importunate, to its owner than the measuring of the vastest space? Why is it that the longings, the hopes, the disappointments, the desperate aspirations, and the passionate loves of little human hearts should cause to their possessors such prepotent commotions, such poignant qualms? Rigel and Betelgeuse and Algol rush through space, and about them probably circle numerous planets inhabited by countless and curious beings, each and all, perhaps, possessing hearts as perturbable as our own. And yet, if our own little earthly Jack cannot get our own little earthly Jill, what cares Jack what happens to Vega or Capella or to the great nebula in Orion? Jack wants Jill; and that want is to Jack the only thing in the sidereal heavens that matters. The curious and perhaps semi-comical but wholly-pathetic thing about the whole matter is this: that though undoubtedly our little planet is part of and has a place in this great sidereal universe, and consequently all our Jacks and Jills are related to all the Jacks and Jills everywhere else, yet each little human heart behaves as it were the only heart in the sum-total of created things: if it enjoys, it calls upon all that is, to congratulate it; if it suffers, it cries aloud to high heaven to avenge its wrongs: it comports itself as if it and it alone were the only sensitive things in existence. —That is curious. That it wrongs may have been wrought by itself; that is fate may have been determined in the reign of Chaos and Old Night, or ere even cosmic nebulae were born, it does not dream: if Jill is indifferent or Jack morose, —either is enough to cause Jack or Jill to curse God and die. Is there some archetypal and arcanal secret in this the extreme, the supernal egoism of the human heart?
Of all of which, what is the moral?—Humph! Frankly, I do not know what is the moral. Only this I see: that each little heart creates its own little universe: the bee's, the that of its hive and the fields; man's, that of his earth and the stars. What may be above or beyond the stars, man no more knows than the bee knows what is beyond the fields. The heart— be it man's or a bee's — is the centre of its self-made sphere. Some day, perhaps, man's sphere will extend as far beyond the stars as today it extends beyond the fields. Then — who knows? — perhaps unlimited senses and an uncircumcised intellect may find themselves commensurate with this high-aspiring heart, and an emancipated and ecstatic Jack unite with a congenial Jill.
That there is a Universe, is apparent; that it is one and complete, we suppose; that there are in it Jacks and Jills, is indubitable; that these Jacks and Jills crave mutual support, sympathy, love, friendship, wifehood, sistership, companionship, brotherhood, is also indubitable. If therefore the whole scheme of the Universe is not a farce, what does this craving of Love for Lover mean? And yet, it is quite impossible to conceive of a Universe of Love, in which all the claims of Heart and Soul and Senses shall be eternally and infinitely satisfied? Nevertheless, on this little earth, perhaps I'll betides the heart that leans overmuch on another. For, alas! Not even the entire immolation of one heart for another will satisfy that other. —Indeed, indeed, in this life, would one seek comfort and solace, one must seek it in one's own self, or in one's God. For only one of two things can comfort: To put the world under one's feet; or, to keep a God over one's head: only he who is "captain of his soul", or he who commits his soul to God, can rise above fate.
There is a vacuum in every human heart. And the human heart abhors it as much as nature. What will fill this cardiac void no mortal to this moment has found out. Art cries, "Beauty", and tries to depict it; Philosophy cries, "Truth, and strives to define it; Religion cries, "Good", and does its best to embody it; and numberless lesser voices in the wilderness cry, "Power", or "Gold", or "Work",— which is a narcotic, or "Excitement", — which is an intoxicant; and a many-toned changeful siren with sweetly-saddening music cries, "Love". And one pursues a phantom, and another clasps a shadow, and a third cloaks his eyes with a transparent veil, or steeps his senses in floods that will not drown. — No, what the human heart wants it does not know. And, what is more, pathetic problem amongst problems pathetic, often it puzzles this human heart to distinguish between the things which it is right and proper to seek wherewith to fill that void, and the things which are wrong and improper. Furthermore: how apt is the heart to seek in the illegitimate for the satisfaction which the legitimate fails to give! — Problems ancient as Eden.
What does it want, this human heart, what does it so earnestly desire, so strenuously seek? All about it and about are beauty, friendship, mirth, and gladness; the sea and the earth and the sky; color and music and song; and to each, if he wills it, wife, or husband, and children and home. — Wanting is — what?— Ah!
One lesson this human heart has to learn, so easy to put into words, so difficult to carry out by deed; is this:
To get, the human heart must give.
The heart eats out itself; causes its own emptiness; creates its own void. The selfish and egoistical life breeds always the vapid and vacuous heart.
Would you appease your own hunger? Feed the hungry hearts around you.
Do you crave fullness of joy? Give joy to the joyless.
Would you fill your own cavity, satisfy your craving, attain your desire, find what you seek? Give—give—give. The more the better, for the greater the donation, the greater the repletion.
Nature gives, gives lavishly, wantonly, unquestioningly.
Every atom of soil, every drop of sap, goes to produce flowers and fruit and seed: root and branch and leaf are but carefully constructed means by which to transmute sunshine and soil and flower and fruit and seed. No tree lives for itself.
Shall, then, this human heart live for itself; gather and store up for its own delectation, for its own good? There is no such thing as one's own good: Goodness is mutual, is communal; is only guided by giving and receiving.
Wherefore O frail, weak, human heart, seek thou out carefully constructed means by which to transmute sunshine and soil and showers into flowers and fruit.
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