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Title: Rambles in Womanland
Author: O'Rell, Max, 1848-1903
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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                              IN WOMANLAND


                               MAX O'RELL

                               AUTHOR OF


                             SECOND EDITION

                            CHATTO & WINDUS




  CHAPTER                                                         PAGE
       I. THOUGHTS ON LIFE IN GENERAL                                1
      II. OH, YOU MEN!                                               5
                METHODS APPEAL TO DIFFERENT WOMEN                   10
      IV. WOMEN LOVE BETTER THAN MEN                                16
       V. IS WOMAN A RESPONSIBLE BEING?                             19
      VI. RAMBLES IN CUPID'S DOMAIN                                 22
     VII. WHICH SEX WOULD YOU CHOOSE TO BE?                         28
    VIII. RAMBLES IN WOMANLAND                                      32
      IX. WOMEN AND THEIR WAYS                                      41
       X. WOMAN'S MISSION IN THIS WORLD                             49
      XI. IS WOMAN INFERIOR TO MAN?                                 52
    XIII. DANGEROUS MEN                                             58
     XIV. THE MAN WHO SMILES                                        60
      XV. WOMEN AND DOLLS                                           63
    XVII. EXTENUATING CIRCUMSTANCES                                 71
   XVIII. AMERICAN WOMEN IN PARIS                                   74
     XIX. WOMEN WHO WALK BEST                                       77
      XX. WOMEN LIVE LONGER THAN MEN                                81
     XXI. WOMEN MAY ALL BE BEAUTIFUL                                84
    XXII. WOMEN AT SEA                                              87
   XXIII. THE SECRET OF WOMAN'S BEAUTY                              91
    XXIV. THE DURATION OF BEAUTY                                    95
     XXV. THE WOMAN 'GOOD FELLOW'--A SOCIETY TYPE                   98
    XXVI. THE WOMAN 'GOSSIP'                                       100
   XXVII. LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT                                      103
  XXVIII. THE EMANCIPATION OF WOMEN                                106
    XXIX. SHALL LOVE BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY?                           111
     XXX. ARE MEN FAIR TO WOMEN?                                   115
    XXXI. A PLEA FOR THE WORKING WOMAN                             118
   XXXII. A STEP IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION                            122
  XXXIII. THE WORST FEATURE OF WOMEN AS A SEX                      127
   XXXIV. IS HOMOEOPATHY A CURE FOR LOVE?                          131



       I. ADVICE TO YOUNG MARRIED PEOPLE                           139
      II. THE MATRIMONIAL PROBLEM                                  142
      IV. RAMBLES ABOUT MATRIMONY--I.                              150
       V. RAMBLES ABOUT MATRIMONY--II.                             154
      VI. RAMBLES ABOUT MATRIMONY--III.                            159
     VII. THE START IN MATRIMONY, AND ITS DANGERS                  162
    VIII. 'OMELETTE AU RHUM'                                       166
      IX. COQUETRY IN MATRIMONY                                    169
       X. RESIGNATION IN MATRIMONY                                 173
      XI. TIT FOR TAT                                              176
     XII. THE IDEAL HUSBAND                                        179
    XIII. MARRYING ABOVE OR BELOW ONE'S STATION                    184
      XV. ACTRESSES SHOULD NOT MARRY                               191
     XVI. A MATRIMONIAL BOOM                                       195
    XVII. LOVE WITH WHITE HAIR                                     199



       I. LITTLE MAXIMS FOR EVERYDAY USE                           203
      II. DO THE BEST WITH THE HAND YOU HAVE                       207
     III. BEWARE OF THE FINISHING TOUCH                            210
      IV. THE SELFISHNESS OF SORROW                                214
       V. THE RIGHT OF CHANGING ONE'S MIND                         217
      VI. WHAT WE OWE TO CHANCE                                    220
     VII. WE NEEDN'T GET OLD                                       223
    VIII. THE SECRET OF OLD AGE                                    226
      IX. ADVICE ON LETTER-POSTING                                 229
       X.  ON PARASITES                                            232
      XI. ADVICE-GIVING                                            234
     XII. ON HOLIDAYS                                              237
     XIV. VARIOUS CRITICISMS ON CREATION                           243
      XV. THE HUMOURS OF THE INCOME-TAX                            246
     XVI. HOW TO BE ENTERTAINING                                   250
    XVII. WHAT IS GENIUS?                                          253
   XVIII. NEW AND PIQUANT CRITICISM                                256
     XIX. ORIGINALITY IN LITERATURE                                259
      XX. PLAGIARISM                                               262
     XXI. AUTOBIOGRAPHIES AND REMINISCENCES                        266
    XXII. THOUGHTS ON HATS                                         270
   XXIII. THOUGHTS ON EYE-GLASSES                                  273
    XXIV. THOUGHTS ON UMBRELLAS                                    277
     XXV. SOME AMERICAN TOPICS                                     280
    XXVI. SOME AMERICANS I OBJECT TO                               283
   XXVII. PATIENCE--AN AMERICAN TRAIT                              286
  XXVIII. AMERICAN FEELINGS FOR FOREIGNERS                         289
    XXIX. SHOULD YOUNG GIRLS READ NOVELS?                          292
     XXX. NOW, WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH FATHER?                      295





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

     *   *   *

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.

     *   *   *

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.

     *   *   *

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 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.



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 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

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_.

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

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 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

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! You only get what you want, and, later on, what you

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



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.'

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 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 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

'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.'

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 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.



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.

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

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

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 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

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

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!



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

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 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.
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.



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. 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 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 of a George Sand, a
George Eliot, or of a queen; but a duchess may be jealous of a

     *   *   *

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

     *   *   *

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?'

'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



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, 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.

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

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 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

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.



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

     *   *   *

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

     *   *   *

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

     *   *   *

In the good old times of poetry and adventures, 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

     *   *   *

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!

     *   *   *

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

     *   *   *

A woman will often more easily resist the love which 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 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. 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

     *   *   *

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 are more
interesting than those, too perfect, who only suggest notes of

     *   *   *

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

     *   *   *

Lovers are very much like thieves; they proceed very much in the same
way, and the same fate eventually 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

     *   *   *

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

     *   *   *

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.

     *   *   *

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

     *   *   *

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.



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 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 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.

     *   *   *

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.

     *   *   *

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.

     *   *   *

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

     *   *   *

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.

     *   *   *

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. 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.



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 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

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?

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.



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 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 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.



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 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

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 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




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

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, 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.



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

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 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 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.



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, 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 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

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 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 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.



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 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.

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.




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

I don't care how much a woman may fall in love 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 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.



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 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 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



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

'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 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

'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
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 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.



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.

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

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 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.



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 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

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, 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.'



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

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

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 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

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 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

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

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 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.



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.

'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:


_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


_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._


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


_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._


_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._


_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

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.



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 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 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!



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

People enjoy her society because she is cheerful and gay, a bright
conversationalist, generally pretty, always 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.



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. 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

What a cure--temporary, at least, if not to last for ever--to look the
'gossip,' man or woman, straight in 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

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.



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

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, 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 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.



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.

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

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 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 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 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

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.



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.

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

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. 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.

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.



'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

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 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 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

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.



'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

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 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 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

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 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



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 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 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

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 you have done.
Instead of scolding me, I think you ought to thank God for giving me to

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 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.



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 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, 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.

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.



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 homoeopathy--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 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

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
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 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!



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 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. 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

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?' You never see them out together.
Poor thing! life would be tolerable to her if they were never in

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.





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 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 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.



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.

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 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.

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.



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 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 of her beauty without once venturing to make a

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.

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

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

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.



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 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 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 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.



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 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 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

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 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 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.'



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 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.

     *   *   *

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!



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

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.'

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.

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 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.



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 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
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.



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, 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 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 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

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.



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 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

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 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.



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

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

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, 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

And Madame will answer more or less sourly, 'Is it 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

'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.'



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
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 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:

'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

'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:

'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.



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

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
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


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 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.'


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

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.



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 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 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



'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
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

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 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 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



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 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 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.

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.



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 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

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 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.





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
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

     *   *   *

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.

     *   *   *

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 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

     *   *   *

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.



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

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

There is no more constant luck or constant bad luck 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. 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.



'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

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 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

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 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.



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 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

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 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.



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

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 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 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

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.



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 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

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 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



'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. 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

'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

He is ambitious, restless, and unhappy, and instead of dying young at
eighty, dies old at forty. He misses 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.



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

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 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.

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!



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 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.

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.'



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.

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.



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

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

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 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.



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;
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 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.'



(_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

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 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

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

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.



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 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 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.




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

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 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.'

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

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 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.



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

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

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 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.



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

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?

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 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.



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 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

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 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.



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 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, 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



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 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 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

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.



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 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

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 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

'Yes,' he said, 'the book has done me good, because X., you know,
mentions my name once or twice in that book.'

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.'



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 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.

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

       *       *       *       *       *

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.



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 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, 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 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.



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

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 coming off, who is always in trouble on account of one thing or

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

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 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

'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.'



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 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

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

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

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.

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

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.



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 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 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

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



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 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 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!



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 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, 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.



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, 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 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.



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 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 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

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 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

Do give father a chance, if you please.






    'Max O'Rell has in this volume given us another entertaining and
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    does not know about the sex to which he has not the honour to
    belong is hardly worth knowing.'--_St. James's Gazette._

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    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._

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    '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._


1. Passages in italics are surrounded by _underscores_.

2. The word homoeopathy uses an "oe" ligature in the original.

3. Apart from one misprint correction on page 157 ("necesssity" changed
to "necessity") and few punctuation corrections, no other modifications
have been made in the text.

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