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Title: The Book of Love
Author: Mantegazza, Paolo
Language: English
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The Book of Love


Prof. Dr. Paolo Mantegazza

Professor of Anthropology and General Pathology, Founder of the
first Museum of Anthropology and Ethnology in
Italy, Senator of the Kingdom of Italy

_A translation of_

The Physiology of Love

_from the Italian text_

American-Neo-latin Library

New York, N. Y.

[Illustration: "PROFANE LOVE" _By Caravaggio_ _Berlin Museum_]

PAOLO MANTEGAZZA, Italian physiologist and anthropologist, was born at
Monza in 1831. He travelled extensively in Europe, India and America. He
was appointed surgeon at Milan Hospital and Professor of General
Pathology at Pavia. In 1870 he was nominated Professor of Anthropology
at the Istituto di Studii Superiori, Florence. He founded the first
Museum of Anthropology and Ethnology in Italy, and the Italian
Anthropological Society. He was deputy for Monza in the Italian
Parliament from 1865 to 1876, subsequently being elected to the Senate.
He is the author of many well known works, as "The Physiology of
Sorrow," "The Physiology of Pleasure," "Elements of Hygiene," "Pictures
of Human Nature," "Human Ecstasies," "Head," etc. His books are most
popular in Europe, where they have been translated into almost every
language and have reached an enormous circulation. Paolo Mantegazza
ranks with the greatest European medical authorities and the most
brilliant Italian writers.




    I LOVE IN PLANTS AND ANIMALS                         29

      EVIL SOURCES OF LOVE                               41


   IV MODESTY                                            72

    V THE VIRGIN                                         79

   VI CONQUEST AND VOLUPTUOUSNESS                        89



   IX SUBLIME PUERILITIES OF LOVE                       118

      THE SENSES                                        122

      OTHER SENTIMENTS--JEALOUSY                        133



  XIV LOVE IN SEX                                       158

   XV LOVE AND AGE                                      165

      THE WAYS OF LOVING                                175

 XVII THE HELL OF LOVE                                  186

XVIII THE DEGRADATIONS OF LOVE                          198

  XIX THE FAULTS AND CRIMES OF LOVE                     211

   XX THE RIGHTS AND DUTIES OF LOVE                     219

  XXI THE COVENANTS OF LOVE                             227


Mantegazza is to Physiology what Flammarion is to Astronomy. The two
great masters head a brilliant galaxy of modern writers on natural
phenomena who draw their material from science and mould it in an
esthetic form. After the most skilful analysis of the scientific
elements to their minutest components, they proceed to an ideal
synthesis in which the various elements retain their substance, yet
change their outward appearance. It seems as if these elect minds,
having once satisfied their scientific curiosity as to physical and
human phenomena, had been fascinated and inspired by an irresistible
love of creation, and rising above the facts and laws of nature to the
evanescent and melodious world of imagination, they offer us their work
in a harmonious unity of two seemingly opposite and irreconcilable
elements--the real and the ideal, Science and Poetry.

And thus, I dare say, it is as if, by a generous law of reaction and
equilibrium, while our generation seems to gravitate toward a life of
facts and order, barren of idealism, Science would teach us that she
herself does not benumb or kill sentiment, but, on the contrary,
discloses to the minds of the elect the flowery slopes of an unknown and
infinite world of wonders and sentiment.

So it must be that those who have attained a high place in intellectual
life will gladly replace the old conception of physical and human
phenomena with a new and more intense representation, which, measured in
the finitude of our reason, is loved in the infinity of our sentiment.
To the uninitiated mind most beautiful is the representation of the sun
in the image of Phoebus crossing the heavens in his flaming chariot
drawn by fiery horses; but still more beautiful for the intellectual
mind is it to think of the immense body of fire, of the energy darting
from a star more than a hundred million miles distant from our planet,
more than a hundred million times larger than the earth, and yet a star
millions of times smaller than millions of other celestial bodies to our
naked eye unknown, unknown to our most powerful telescopes, and whose
existence and fantastic speed in the space of the heavens are divined
only by the abstraction of our faculties in an infinite representation
of the laws of physics. Poetical is the vision of a goddess of Olympus
descending to earth and carrying to a man asleep the message or the
image of a dear, distant person; but immensely more poetical is the
conception of a telepathic force within us, made of us, consciously or
unconsciously created by us, an integral part of our psychical organism,
and by which we instantly communicate over hills and dales, mountains
and valleys, oceans and deserts, with another human being whose spirit
is harmoniously attuned to ours.

The impersonation of hatred and love by Fury and Cupid is much less
poetical than the conception of an explosion of psychical forces,
powerful and antagonistic, in millions of men at the same time.

The task of dealing with the natural history, the origin and the
development of the sentiment which underlies the principal phenomena of
human existence, which came into being with the first twilight of
organic life, and which indissolubly binds together the individuals and
the generations, seems to have been reserved to the genius of Paolo
Mantegazza, and with this great subject he dealt in a masterly way, in a
way unimitated and inimitable. He has snatched Love from the Olympus of
the gods of old, from the clutches of classic literature, stripped him
of all his tinsel and garments, and revealed him as part--flesh and
blood of man.

By a new conception of love, more rational, more human and yet no less
poetical than the classic representations to which we have been
accustomed from times immemorial, Mantegazza gives us a work in which
the scientific foundation and the poetical conceptions are united in
such wealth of colors and harmonies that its reading, rich with true
and romantic charm, is incomparably superior to our best fiction. It is
a daring deed, both in the literary and the philosophical field, and it
opens a new horizon to the idealization of human feelings, discoveries
and events.

Mantegazza, unlike countless love writers and poets, approaches his
field not with a hoe or a plow to scratch the surface of the ground, but
with a powerful drill that penetrates into the lowest strata of the
earth and reveals its deepest terrestrial composition. In the pursuit of
his aim, carried by enthusiasm in the innermost research of facts and by
admiration for the beauty of his subject, Mantegazza has used all the
wealth of his literary training, skilfully and lavishly drawing upon all
the resources of the Italian language. The task of the translator has
thus been made doubly difficult, as the original language of the book
has more subtlety and artistic abandon than the English language would
allow. Rather than run the risk of betraying either the substance or the
representation of the author's idea, often it has been preferred to
sacrifice the turn of the English phrase to that of the corresponding
Italian, and possibly incur the imputation of exoticism.

Such is the translation of a beautiful Book of Love offered to the
American public at a time when all the evil passions and degradations of
hatred are unleashed over the world. In striking contrast with the trend
of the human mind today, what a meager chance is awaiting the
contemplation of a sentiment whose mission is to tie all humanity with a
bond of affection! And yet, while time and evolution relegate the memory
of the most fearful cataclysms of the human race to the icy page of
history, the fundamental elements constituting human life cannot be
changed or destroyed. Love will continue to exist as long as the laws of
affinity and procreation seize the human being at his birth and by the
evolution of matter dominate him even after his death. The struggle for
life may become intensified or disappear from the world; hatred among
classes, nations, races may deepen, expand or be altogether eliminated;
passions may gain further ascendancy over humanity, or humanity may
learn to control them; and, in the words of Shelley,

     "Fate, Time, Occasion, Chance and Change, to these
     All things are subject but eternal Love."

At the feet of him, procreator and prince of all affections, at once
proud, generous, kind, fair, and weak, avaricious, cruel, deceitful, in
all virtues rich and in all sins, a king and a miser, we shall always
lay, proudly or in shame, the innermost throbs of our heart, our tears
and our joys, the highest aspirations of our mind, the sweetest
ecstasies of our soul, our convulsions, our despairs, our crimes, up to
the very threshold of the great oblivion, when, in the words of the
poet, of the extenuated race one lone man and one woman, among the ruins
of the mountains and of the dead woods, in the wake of the departing
warmth, clasped together in the supreme fate of creation, livid, with
glassy eyes shall see the last sun descend forever.



I have conceived love to be the most powerful and at the same time the
least studied of human affections. Surrounded by a triple forest of
prejudice, mystery and hypocrisy, civilized men know it too often only
through stealth and shame. Poets, artists, philosophers, legislators,
snatch a morsel now and then from the flesh of the great god, and hurry
away to conceal it as a precious booty of forbidden fruit. To study love
as a phenomenon of life, as a gigantic power which moulds itself in a
thousand ways among various races and in various epochs, and as an
element of health for the individual and for the generations, has
appealed to me as a great and worthy undertaking.



             "... _this precious jewel
     Upon the which is every virtue founded._"




Many years ago I wrote that to live means _nutrition and generation_,
and the deeper I cast the sounding-line into the dark abysses of life,
the more I am convinced that this definition faithfully depicts the most
striking characteristics of all creatures which, from bacteria to man,
come to life, grow and die on the face of our planet. If, however, I
wished still further to simplify my idea, reducing life to its simplest
and most essential form, I would say without fear of betraying the
truth, that _to live means to generate_.

Every living body is perishable, but before dying it has the power of
reproducing the form that has made it capable of living; and that
whirlwind which absorbs and rejects, which assimilates new atoms and
repels old ones, and which so clearly represents the eternal picture of
life in all its manifestations, is also the most faithful representation
of every form of generation.

Nutrition is a real genesis, and in the great chemical laboratory of
living beings we have at all times before our eyes the reproduction of
histological elements of organs and individuals. We lose hair,
epithelia, white corpuscles every day; and yet every day we generate
hair, epithelia and leucocytes: this is an every-day generation in the
body of man. A nail falls off, a new one takes its place: this is the
reproduction of an organ. We generate children similar to ourselves:
this is the reproduction of an entire organism, the true _generation_.
But in one of our offspring we see re-repeated a mole which is on our
nose: this is the reproduction of an organ within an organism. On the
other hand, one race generates another race, one species another
species; and here we see a broader genesis by which from the
reproduction of a cell through another cell we gradually pass to the
generating of an organ, of an individual, of a race, of a species.

The world of living beings is a gigantic tree and from its trunk shoot
forth the branches of classes, orders, species. On the branches leaves
grow, which are the individuals; but each one of these small individuals
generates within itself many cells, true organisms within greater ones.
The world of living beings is but a great laboratory of prolific,
incessant generation. Cells generate cells; organs, organs; species,
species. An intimate brotherhood makes us members of one great
organism--the placenta of living beings; and among ourselves we exchange
the same matter which each of us in turn contributes to the work of
apparent destruction, called _nutrition_, and to that of reproduction,
designated as _generation_. To feed themselves and to generate, living
beings are continually exchanging with each other a part of their own
matter which, passing from one organism to another, seems to acquire new
energy and new life. On the one hand, seaweeds live on mushrooms,
carnivorous animals devour herbivorous, herbivorous feed on herbs, and
man, the highest branch of the tree of living beings, partakes of all.
On the other hand, males and females in continuous succession
interchange part of their matter, remoulding their primitive forms.

The most elementary form of life is not, however, the cell, since at a
lower stage we find the _protoplasm_, the true _primum vivens_ which, by
scission, generates the individual; and, by nourishing itself, nobody
can tell what mysterious genesis of atoms it induces within its own most
simple organism. The protoplasm cannot live without a continual exchange
of matter, so that the live molecules of yesterday are dead today; and
those which are alive today will be dead tomorrow; therefore nutrition
also, in the last analysis, is an intimate and very mysterious

Evanescence of forms is one of the most essential characteristics of
living beings, and we give the name of death to the falling of every
leaf from the tree of life. Man, also, drops some of these leaves every
day--hair, epithelia, cells, which often produce a secretive substance
and fall with it. Before dying, a part of the preëxisting form remains
to re-animate the dead form and follows in its turn the parabolical
cycle through which the mother form has passed. This is the most general
principle and includes all possible kinds of generation, from that of
scission to the highest form of sexual genesis. One would say that the
life of an individual is only a moment of the great life of the species,
of the classes, of the kingdoms of living beings; it is a spark which
shoots off intermittently, passing from one organism to another.

Powerful and irresistible is the tendency to generate; in a great many
cases the individual sacrifices himself consciously, or is unwittingly
sacrificed by the laws of nature, provided that before death he transmit
life to others. "Let the individual perish, if this preserve the
species!" Such is the eternal cry of nature, which men and infusoria,
oaks and mushrooms alike must obey. If the individual is protected and
possesses preservative instincts and defensive organs, the species has a
hundred bulwarks, a thousand manners of safeguard, more means of
protection than are needed. In fact, living beings generate so profusely
that one species alone would pervade the earth if the various circles of
expansion, falling in with each other, did not struggle among
themselves, like the circles caused on the smooth surface of a lake by a
handful of sand thrown upon it by a child. Apart from the manner in
which life is transmitted, there is an amount of life which passes away,
there is _a certain amount_ of fecundity, and this may seem, at first
glance, most whimsical, while it is governed by the laws of

_To be born and to die--fecundity and mortality_--are so closely
connected with each other that we can consider them as different aspects
of the same phenomenon, as the action and reaction of life. When
reproduction increases beyond measure, the dangers for the individuals
generated increase at the same time, and destruction mows down the
excessive number of those which are born. Now it is food that is no
longer proportionate to the new-born; then parasites and enemies of the
over-expanded species, which, increasing in turn, reëstablish the
equilibrium. The destructive forces and the protective balance mutually,
as happens with many other forces, simpler and better known.

The Malthusian problem, however, is much more intricate. If all species
were equally prolific and had a life of equal length, the problem would,
in fact, be reduced to a question of space and food; but, on the
contrary, the duration of life and the various degrees of fecundity
serve in turn to reëstablish the equilibrium by other ways. If the
reproduction of mice were as slow as that of man, they would all be
destroyed before another generation could be born; and even if they
could live fifteen or sixteen years, not one of them, perhaps, would
ever attain that age, surviving all dangers. And on the other hand,
should oxen multiply in the same proportion as infusoria, the entire
species would die of hunger in a week.

In order that an organic form be preserved, the individual must preserve
itself and generate other individuals. Now these forces must vary
inversely. If the individual, through its simple organization, is little
fit to resist danger, it must countervail this weakness with reaction,
generating intensely. If, on the contrary, high qualities give it a
great capacity for self-protection, it should then diminish its
fecundity proportionately. If danger is reckoned as a constant quantity,
inasmuch as capacity for resistance should be equal in all species, and
does consist of two factors (faculty to maintain individual life and
power to multiply it), these factors cannot but vary in opposite
directions. This most simple and sublime law, which Herbert Spencer read
in the great book of nature, is one of those that rule with the most
inflexible tyranny the elementary phenomena of reproduction, as well as
the highest and most complex phenomena of human love.

In the _Diatomaceæ_ the fecundity by scission is gigantic: Smith
reckoned that a single gnat could create a thousand million individuals
in one month. A young _Gonium_, capable of scission after twenty-four
hours, can produce in a week 268,435,456 individuals equal to itself. In
other cases, the process of multiplication is not scissiparous, but
endogenous, as with the _Volvox_; but the reproduction is always
extraordinary. If all the individuals generated should survive, a
_Paramecium_ would, by scission, produce in the course of a month
268,000,000 individuals. Another microscopic animal can produce
170,000,000,000 individuals in four days. The _Gordius_--the entozoön of
an insect--lays 8,000,000 eggs in less than a day. An African termite
lays 80,000 eggs in twenty-four hours, and Eschricht reckoned at
64,000,000 the number of eggs in the adult female of an _Ascaris

If, from the minute microscopic creatures exposed to every danger and
which consume very little matter--if, from these living atoms of which
you could gather as many in your hands as there are men on earth, you
pass to the elephant, you have there a giant of flesh that requires
thirty years of its life to become fecund, and then, after a long
gestation, produces but one offspring. And above the elephant you find a
giant of thought, Man, who requires the third part of his average life
to reproduce himself, and after nine long months generates one child
only; and, what is worse, he sees half of his offspring mowed down
before they are able to bear flower and seed.

The methods of transmitting life are manifold, since nature in no other
function has been so inexhaustibly rich with forms as in generation; but
we, dealing here with the general physiology of love, will reduce all
the various generative forms to these few:

     _Separation or Scission._--The individual dissevers into two parts,
     and each of these, made independent, reproduces the generator. This
     is the most simple form of genesis, in which the function of
     reproduction is not distinct from the other functions, but merges
     into them.

     _Endogenesis._--Within an individual many other individuals are
     formed; the parent opens, and, destroying its own individuality,
     dissolves in its offspring.

     _The individual by itself alone generates other individuals._--The
     parent generates through special organs and without dissolving in
     its offspring. The individuals generated and separated from the
     generator are eggs, seeds, perfect organisms; but in every case
     these are always elements evolved within the generator through
     special organs. The generative function is already marked and
     distinct in a laboratory which detaches and prepares some of the
     elements of the individual, so that they may reproduce it.

     _Monoecious Sexual Generation._--A step higher, the generative
     laboratory becomes complicated and divides into two parts, one of
     which brings forth the egg, the other the fecundating element.
     Each, for its own account, prepares the element destined for the
     reproduction of the individual; but if both do not come in contact,
     the new being is not generated. We have the sexes quite distinct,
     but enclosed within a single individual. Strange to observe,
     however, we behold an individual that generates an egg which cannot
     be fecundated by that individual's seed; or an individual that
     produces a seed which cannot be of any service to the egg. A duplex
     embrace of two hermaphrodites which interlace a quadruple love, and
     the appearance of winds, insects, or birds, as fecundatory
     paranymphs, resolves these problems of a most singular generation.

     _Dioecious Sexual Generation._--Finally, the generating organs,
     too, separate and fix themselves each upon a single individual,
     which is sterile in itself, produces but one of the generating
     elements, and, therefore, must combine with the other; and by such
     union they may produce the new creature: the sum of two
     individualities, the male and the female, the father and the
     mother. Man loves in twain; but although, like the other superior
     animals akin to him, he presents a dioecious sexual generation,
     yet in his inmost tissues he also possesses the _endogenous_
     genesis and the genesis by _scission_, and presents in this regard
     the remains also of the elementary forms of life enclosed within

In this rapid course through all the forms of generation we see
delineated the same laws by which nature rules the other functions.
Gradually new forces appear and new organs are brought forth to
represent the subdivision of work. First, it is the whole individual
that generates, then an organ of the individual, then again two organs
in the same individual, and again two organs in separate individuals. In
the many forms of genesis, the unity of the plan is more than ever
manifest, and we, the highest of all living creatures, while, like the
amoeba, we have in our protoplasm and scattered all through the mass of
our body the faculty to generate, recognize in man and woman the two
distinct laboratories which prepare the seed and the human egg.

While the pathology of love, in many cases of lasciviousness, shows the
last declining remains of a promiscuous hermaphroditism, imagination, a
forerunner of science, causes us to divine that in more complex
creatures sexes may be more than two, and generation presents a deeper
subdivision of work, in the same manner as in the cynical or skeptical
distinctions between platonic and sensual loves and in the most daring
polygamies of soul and senses we perceive in the distance other lights
which disclose to us the horizon of new and monstrous generative
possibilities, some of them reaching the suprasensible and some as base
and brutal as the most repelling atavic regressions.

When the science of the future will permit our posterity to connect all
the phenomena of nature, from the most elementary to the most complex,
from the simplest motion of a molecule to the flash of the most sublime
genius, in an uninterrupted chain of facts, then perhaps the first
origins of love will be sought in the elementary physics of dissimilar
atoms which endeavor to find each other and combine, and with opposite
motion generate the equilibrium. The positive electric body seeks the
negative, the acid seeks the base, and in these conjunctions, with great
development of light, heat and electricity, new bodies are formed, new
equilibriums obtained; it seems that Nature renews her forces and,
rejuvenescing, prepares herself for new combinations and new loves.

And is not love perhaps the combination of two dissimilar atoms which
seek each other and combine, notwithstanding all the adverse forces of
heaven and earth? And in the same manner as the molecule of potassium
snatches the oxygen away from water with a great development of light
and heat, is not the union of those two molecules, which we call man and
woman, accompanied by a hurricane of passion, by flashes of genius, by
infinite glittering of flames and ardor? Do we not perceive a
pandemonium of physical and psychical forces accumulating, battling and
equilibrating around that point where a man and a woman are attracted
toward each other, to rejuvenate the human matter and rekindle the torch
of life?

A particular motion, originated in the ovary and in the testis,
accumulates such energy in the nervous centers as eventually to bring
the masculine element in contact with the feminine, so that the
generative gemmulæ produced in the slow laboratory of two different
organisms reunite in that nest which is the maternal womb and where the
fecundated egg must transform into a human being.

The poet and the metaphysician may define love in whatever manner they
choose. There is only one definition for science: Love is the energy
which must bring in contact the egg with the seed; without ovary and
without testis there can be no love.

That forward movement which is called generation is so powerful as to
oppose and even destroy the minor motion, that is, the preservation of
the individual; and while each individual rotates, it is carried forward
with a movement a hundred times more irresistible and powerful through
space and time. The first motion represents the narrow life of the
individual and is protected by egotism; the second is the great life of
the species, and love defends it.

The most superficial study of the generative function is sufficient to
convince us that love is always a phenomenon of high chemistry, in which
the generating atoms, in order to combine, must be neither too similar
nor too dissimilar. No sooner has sex manifested itself in animals than
we have in the same individual, but in two distinct laboratories, the
formation of two generative elements. Sex, which, at first thought,
appears to us as one of the deepest mysteries of life, is nothing but a
laboratory which attracts the elements generated by every element of the
organism, and encloses and preserves them in itself in order to pour
them into the bosom of other elements, similar but not equal, generated
in another laboratory, that is, the opposite sex. When the two
generative laboratories are separated in two distinct organisms, it is
probable that the diversity of their gemmulæ is greater. If in
individuals closely resembling each other, but of different races, we
combine the generative elements, we still will probably have fecundity;
while, if we pass to different species, fecundity will be more
difficult; if we pass to different genera it will in most cases become

But let us set aside the words _species_ and _genera_, which, in nature,
have not the same value as we assign to them in our museums and in our
books, and let us, instead, take from the world of the living a handful
of animals, haphazard, so that we may gather together brothers, cousins,
nephews, individuals of the same or affinitive classes, genera, orders,
and let us place them in line, in the order of their degrees of
similarity. Should we try to couple them, or study their spontaneous
loves, we would find cases of sterility in beings too similar and in
beings too dissimilar; therefore, generation moves between these two
opposite poles, too great similarity and too great dissimilarity. That
is the reason why we may see a woman with a mustache, atrophied breasts
and deep voice remain sterile with a robust man: they do not generate
because they have too close a resemblance. That is the reason why a dog
and a cat are sterile: they do not generate, because they are too
dissimilar. Nature said to living beings: "If you wish to love, be
neither too similar nor too dissimilar."

Let us try and discover the reason of this law. Germs that are too
similar cannot concur in fecundation, or fecundate unsatisfactorily,
perhaps through the same laws of elementary physics and chemistry which
cause bodies to repel other bodies equally electrified or with which
they have too close a resemblance in their physico-chemical
characteristics. Try the combination of sulphur with phosphorus, of
iodine with bromine, and, on the other hand, observe the ardent loves of
chlorine and hydrogen, of potassium and oxygen. The fecundity of two
different organisms is, besides, an energy bearing in one direction; it
is the sum of resistances all of them equal, while two quantities,
different but susceptible of being summed, give a greater number of
diverse resistances and have, therefore, a greater possibility of living
and resisting external enemies. An individual is the sum of many
victories over exterior elements, the result of many and infinite
adaptations to the ambient which surrounds it. Two individuals
dissimilar, but not enough to impede generation, will bring together
those adaptations and those victories through which the new creature
enjoys the possibility of resistance and will meet with fewer dangers.

It is much easier to explain why forms too dissimilar cannot love each
other. This impossibility is one of the most powerful means of
preserving the living forms, extremely varied, in those conditions which
are useful to their existence. When a living being has come out of the
struggles of life, when it has yielded to external agents and enemies in
a certain way, it transmits itself to future generations in that form
and nature which are the fruit of a long and successful battle.
Precisely for the same reason, an herbivorous animal, which is the
offspring of another that has gained its flesh with herbs, cannot grow
and multiply except by feeding on herbs. Imagine for a moment that
organs and tissues feeding on meat should be grafted on to the organs
and tissues of an herbivorous animal. What disorders would not arise! A
fragment of carnivorous animal closed up in an organism which has teeth
to chew herbs, gastric juice to digest herbs, intestinal tube to
assimilate herbs, and olfactory nerves which find leaves and flowers
delectable! The apparent stability of the species, which in fact
resolves itself in a slow mutation, is nothing therefore but the
unavoidable necessity for male and female to pour into the crucible of
generation elements that can combine, metals that can fuse, forming a
homogeneous and compact alloy.

From the elementary physics of generation you may jump to the most
ardent sympathies, to the juxtaposition of human characters in the nest
of love, and you will see that the same law rules all and each of these
facts. _Neither too similar nor too dissimilar._ Love is the sum of
analogous but not identical forces; it is the complement of complements;
it is the square of squares; it tolerates neither subtractions nor

We shall see at every step of our studies the same laws which govern
generation, or the so-called _physical love_, re-appear in the high
spheres of love. For us, love is simply one function which, to be
understood, must not be barbarously mutilated and disrupted so as to
have one part of its limbs sent to the laboratory of physiology, and the
other left in the library of the philosopher. Love is such energy that
from the lowest grades of the most automatic instinct it ascends to the
highest regions of the suprasensible, and perhaps no other psychical
element reaches to more distant poles.

Think of the shepherd of the high Apennines who loves a goat, and of
Heine, who in the clutches of death wants to be brought to the Louvre to
see the Venus of Milo once more, and you will have a pallid idea of the
frontiers which this ardent, tenacious, violent, multiform passion
called love seeks to conquer.

While in the field of chemical facts generation marks the highest point
of molecular chemistry, in the psychological field love reaches the
loftiest summits of the ideal. Love is the force of forces; it makes its
appearance when man is strongest; it vanishes when age has weakened him.
Love is the joy of joys, it is at the bottom of every desire, of all
riches, on every horizon of pleasure; it is always the highest aim. If
we except men who were born without gentle feelings, in every human sky
love is the brightest star; it is the sun of every firmament. It is the
strongest, the most human, the richest of passions.

In all forms of generation, whether agamous or sexual, by scission or by
endogenesis, whether we consider the son in comparison with the father,
or with far Adam, we behold the generated preserve a part of the last or
of the first generator, so that the motion communicated from the first
to the last generation is transmitted without interruption. Take as the
starting-point the Adam of the Bible or the Adam of progressive
evolution, the clay breathed into by a God or the Darwinian _ascidia_:
each one of us has still within himself a material part belonging to the
first man or first father of all men, so that an immense brotherhood
unites all living beings. To the divination of the poet who, beholding
the flowery meadows, the forests, the swarming of animals, cries out
with emotion: "O Mother Nature!" science answers in accord, as it
contemplates a quantity of matter and a quantity of life pass from one
to the other of those organisms called individuals. For every life
extinguished a new life is born, and within us, who occupy the loftiest
place among all the living beings on this planet, quiver and vibrate the
molecules which have passed through thousands and thousands of
existences and thousands and thousands of loves.

If love is the warmest and the most human of passions, it is also the
richest. To its altar every faculty of the mind carries its tributes,
every throb of the heart carries its fire. Every vice and every virtue,
every shame and every heroism, every martyrdom and every lewdness, every
flower and every fruit, every balm and every poison may be brought to
the temple of love. Everything human can be carried away in the
whirlwind of love; and more than once man regrets that he possesses but
one life to offer as a holocaust to this god. And yet this gigantic
force is the least governed of all the passions. It would seem that
before it man feels too small and too weak; and just as the savage falls
on his knees before the lightning and weeps, or flees, the civilized
man, even today, is terrified before the unexplored hurricane of this
sovereign force, and acknowledges his powerlessness and his ignorance.
In the delirium of voluptuousness and in the storm of desperation, he
lets himself be carried away by a force which he considers superior to
reason, too powerful in comparison with his weakness. In his codes he
writes, timidly, laws which he violates every day; opprobrious
punishments which the juries always cancel; and a dense fog of ignorance
surrounds the temple of love, which he enters nearly always as a thief
and from which he emerges nearly always as an outcast. Our legislation
on love is a wretched connubiality of hypocrisy and lechery, and as we
know not how to look love in the face, we disguise it with the garments
of the buffoon and the prostitute. Our laws are so perfect that many
must not love, and very many cannot love; and while we all weep over the
few victims of hunger, we shrug our shoulders at the hundreds of
thousands who die in celibacy for not having been able to gather the
straw for their nests, and we laugh at the millions of celibates who
know nothing of love save masturbation and prostitution. In the presence
of love we are still more or less savage--the basest brutishness before
the most powerful of human forces!

Yet love also should be conquered like all other forces of nature; and
without losing a fraction of its energy, or a flower of its garden, it
also must be governed by science, which understands and directs all
things. The lightning which prostrates the savage in the dust of fear is
guided by us on the small wire of the conductor, gilds the ornaments of
our women and transmits our thoughts from one hemisphere to the other.
This other lightning, also, which, more powerful and more dangerous,
explodes in the hurricanes of the human heart, must be studied, guided
and reduced to a live force that can be measured, weighed and governed.
Love should be the dearest, the most precious, the most powerful of
civilized forces. No other passion can claim supremacy where it appears;
no other can solve the sublime problem of combining the greatest
voluptuousness with the greatest virtue, of generating the good of
future beings through the joy of the living ones, of transmitting
civilization to posterity in the spasm of an embrace.




Arcadians, metaphysicians, and all adorers of the past are cursing every
day and every hour the modern mania of comparing human things to living
beings and call for anathemas against this absurd and sacrilegious
profanation of the man-God. Comparative anatomy, physiology and
psychology are for these gentlemen nothing but different forms of a
strange aberration of the human mind; something capricious and morbid
which, by the continual comparison of man and beast, brutalizes us,
prostitutes us, and sends us back with a new insanity to the bestial
Olympus of men with animal members and of human grafts set on the flesh
of the son of God. According to those most exalted and supercilious
gentlemen, these are psychic maladies not to be discussed, but cured by
contempt and ridicule; they are the hysterics of thought, which
disappear with the generation that has seen them rise from the corrupt
entrails of the human family. But man does not lower himself by
comparing himself with beings that are the matrix from which he came; he
does not degrade himself by scenting the earth from which you, also you,
O super-gentlemen, say we have been moulded and which is ever the frame
supporting us.

The true metaphysics, if this word has still any meaning, was created by
modern science, which, by the boldest comparisons of the simplest things
with the most complex, of the smallest with the greatest, extracts the
subtile from the subtile, and under the motley appearance of the form
reveals the only law that governs them. We are going to seek in the
limbus of living beings the crepuscules of the highest human things.
Bowing our head modestly before the simplicity of laws which govern and
control such a wealth of forms, let us return to the reality of things,
feeling neither dejected nor ashamed of ourselves, but satisfied with
having known how to read the notes of harmony written in the world of
dwarfs and giants. Our pride will find sufficient satisfaction, after so
many comparisons, in realizing that we are first among all living

No spectacle of nature is more splendid, more admirable than that of the
loves of plants and of animals. Nature could not write more fascinating
music with a less number of notes, and no other phenomenon of life can
resemble that of generation in profusion of forms, lavishness of
artifices, inexhaustible conception of mechanisms. One would say that
where the reproductive gemmulæ are attracted, where life reconcentrates
its best part to renovate itself with a new impetus, there new and
strange energies are developed, and the forces of nature appear with the
most gigantic pomp, the most gorgeous luxury. In every other function,
Nature, like an economical housewife, seeks the useful and often is
satisfied with the necessary; she simplifies the mechanisms, removes the
attritions and through the simplest ways attains her aim. But she is not
content with the good and the true for generation, and, surrounding the
nest of love with a large profusion of esthetic elements, she exhausts
every resource to prepare a feast for the life which renews itself. It
is around the flower that, nearly always, the most exquisite beauty of
form, the most inebriating seductions of perfume, the most varied tints
of the painter's palette are interwoven. How many treasures of esthetic
force in a lily and in a rose! And all that luxury to do honor to the
love of a day, the love of an hour; and all the splendor of a nuptial
robe, a thousand times more beautiful than human industry could produce,
to screen the virginal kiss of an anther and a pistil!

And jumping from the lily and the rose to the summits of the animal
world, how many splendors of fancy, how many flashes of passion, what an
interlacement of elements, to make a garland for the kiss of a man and a
woman. Run, fly, on a spring day, among the blossoming beds of a
garden, among the thousand amorous corollas of the flowers; shake the
severe boughs of the cypress and of the pine; plunge your feet into the
soft, wet carpet of vallisnerias; let your eyes penetrate into the humid
recesses of the barks and the mossy labyrinths of the granite; and
everywhere a warm circumfusion of pollen, spores and antheridia will
tell your flaming heart that in the world of plants, among the perfumes
of the corollas and the emeralds of the seaweeds, love exists in a
thousand ways, and the atmosphere is all pervaded with the warm,
inebriating sparks which, on the wings of the winds and of the insects
and in the rays of the sun, diffuse everywhere an amorous, voluptuous

The love of flowers is mute in the soft perfume of their corollas, but
in many of them silence does not prevent tender blandishments and
fervent embraces; many plants, always immovable, have convulsions in
their flowers; always cold, they flame up in the calyx of their loves.
Often they love only once a year; but what a profusion of embraces, what
a fecundity of pollen and seed! Shake with your hand a single branch of
the juniper or of the blossoming pine, and you will immediately see the
air darken with a cloud of fruitful dust; entire forests love at one
time, and for miles and miles they fill the air with voluptuous murmurs;
more than once do the winds carry clouds of pollen, and the wanton rain
washes and purifies the atmosphere, and tinges itself all with the
amorous dust.

And without jealousy or rancors, in the shade of the blossoming pines,
and among the stamens of the enamored flowers, in every clod of grass,
in every cavern of mountain, in every fissure of rock, in every bed of
seaweeds, in the deep waves of the ocean, and in the drops of water
oozing from the glaciers, in the somberest darkness of mines and in the
infinite sky, the animals interweave their loves; so that in every part
of the globe, and in every hour of the day and of the night, every ray
of the sun warms and contemplates millions of embraces, while every ray
of the moon guides the nocturnal lovers to a thousand more intimate
blandishments. If it is true that a leaf falls from the tree of life
every second and dies, then at every moment a new gemma is born, and
for every gemma how many embraces, for every new-born how many loves!
The flowers planted in the ground of a cemetery appeal to me as the
noblest form of the cult of the dead; for, if our planet is a vast
cemetery, where every atom of time buries an atom that was living once,
this earth is all a nest of love, in which every zephyr carries to our
ear a sigh of voluptuousness, and the harmony of the ether, a dream of
the ancient poets, is nothing, perhaps, but the sum of all the kisses
exchanged among the living creatures.

If the anatomist and the physiologist discover in the study of
generation in the various animals some precious materials to mark the
highest laws of the morphology of the living beings, the psychologist
finds in the loves of brutes sketched nearly all the elements that man
has gathered under his robust wings. No function is more adapted than
love to contemplate the unique type and the infinite legion of its
forms, to admire a unique conception developed in a thousand different

No sooner has sex made its appearance than the male quickly
distinguishes himself by his aggressive character. With few exceptions,
it is the male that seeks, conquers, keeps the prey. Glance over the
pages of Darwin's work on sexual selection and you will see how many
weapons nature has given to males to conquer and keep their mates. Even
in plants, it is the pollen that goes in search of the ovulum, the
ovulum that awaits the spark that is to fecundate it. In the most simple
of animal forms, where the male and female live and die fettered to the
spot that saw their birth, it is the virile element that is always
carried there, where the germ awaits it. This is the first dogma that
governs the religion of love in the entire world of the living; and when
all high races look with contempt upon the woman who attacks and the man
who flees, they only protest against the violation of one of the most
tyrannical laws which men and mollusks, women and pistils, cannot evade.

Man summarizes all the forms of the living nature; so that we are
frequently tempted to affirm that whatever of human is in him is the
greatest synthesis of all the minor forms of the living, and that he is
precisely the first because under the bark of his individuality all the
forces are gathered within him, from the secondary to the last; and the
same phenomenon we observe in the psychical elements of his loves.

Pigeons, even when intermingled with the most varied breeds, are seldom
unfaithful to their mates; and although the male, in a rare whim, may
break the vow of fidelity, he quickly returns to the dear nuptial bed of
his spouse. Darwin kept some pigeons of different breeds shut up in the
same place for a long time, and there was never a bastard among them. Do
we not also find among men splendid examples of the most faithful
monogamy and do you not recognize it as the social basis in almost all
the superior races?

The antelope of South Africa has up to a dozen mates, and the _Antilope
saiga_ of Asia more than a hundred. But have we not the small and
hypocritical polygamies of modern society, and those, most splendid and
impudent, of the Orientals? Have we not in man, as in very many animals,
females who submit to love as to a duty, and males on whom love must be
imposed? Have we not libertinism at the very side of chastity? Have we
not in the world of man all the lasciviousness, all the ardors, all the
possibilities of lewdness of the animals' world?

Several fulmineous forms of love which last no longer than the flash of
the lightning not infrequently occur among men, as the cold,
long-lasting kisses of many insects are an amorous practice of various
human temperaments. And fiery, cruel jealousies and bloody battles are
scenes common to men and brutes; nor is death for love an exclusive
privilege of man. The few and coarse passions of animals are all carried
as a holocaust to the altar of generation, while man carries to it all
the ardors of his rich nature, all the infinite forces which he has
drawn from the great womb of the living beings and which he has
centuplicated with the accumulations of his hundred civilizations. The
chaffinch, in the contests of amorous song, more than once falls from
the tree on which he is singing his erotic hymn, smothered by pulmonary
apoplexy; just as many a poet beholds the lyre of his genius and the
chords of his life break at the feet of a woman. In the silence of the
shady thickets, the nightingale, exhausted, swoons with love and
fatigue, and dies for having been unable to vanquish a more fortunate
rival in melody and strength of notes; and hundreds and hundreds of
times, in the somber labyrinths of life, the human lover dies in the
battles of an unhappy love, and he too dies because he could not sing
louder and sweeter than his rival. Nor is coquetry peculiar to the human
female only; no woman in the world will ever be the equal of a female
canary in the wicked art with which she resists the impatient ardors of
her companion; and the thousand travesties with which in the feminine
world a "yes" is concealed under a "no" are but pallid imitations of the
refined coquetry, the simulated flights, the amorous bitings and the
hundred thousand cajoleries of the world of animals.

As to the esthetic elements which nature has lavished upon the loves of
living beings, they are such and so many that the richest palette would
be insufficient to depict them or the poet's words to describe them.
Here are two pictures from my meager collection.


I am in the garden, lying down upon a wall so low that I can
voluptuously scent the soft aroma of the earth damped by a storm; I have
no rugs under my body or pillows under my head; a slate, furrowed and
shining, is my bed. With one hand extended above the wall, I am nipping
the petals of a lemon flower, while with the other I am frightening the
ants which hustle about in the sandy path. All at once, two little
shadows, two brown sprites, pass before my eyes and alight, facing me,
in the middle of the path. They are two children of heaven, all wings
and all beauty; the organs of terrestrial life are reduced to a thread,
but a thread that sucks the nectar from the flowers, and four gigantic
wings to conquer the skies. Their hours are numbered; they must love and
die, and nature made them warm and swift for intense love: organs of
sense greater than the venter, organs of beauty greater than the
entrails. They are butterflies, but I know not their names, and I feel
disappointed. I look around in vain for an entomologist to name them for
me: man does not feel that he possesses a creature unless he has
sprinkled it with the ink of his dictionaries. They will die, as far as
I am concerned, nameless; and in vain will they knock at the gates of
paradise, to enter the place where dear and beloved things are
remembered. Can you imagine ever having loved a woman whose name you
know not? As in religion, so it is in love: baptism is the first and
holiest of sacraments.

But these butterflies love each other without baptism; they are
frolicking on the pebbles of the path, and running after each other.
They do not suspect that the greatest tiger of our planet is watching
them, and that a great lizard is creeping down slowly from the little
wall and turns its head to left and right sullenly, licking its own lips
with its forked tongue and anticipating the savory taste of the delicate
flesh of those pretty creatures. They are too happy to think of enemies
that surround them; and life and love are flowers which are picked in
the midst of hurricanes and battles. They have found a stalk of withered
grass which, under the footsteps of many pedestrians and in the sand
strewn by the gardener, has succeeded in living and blossoming. That
microscopic bush is an entire world for those two lovers, and the little
female resorts to it as to a defense against her sweet assailant and
runs around it like a child who flees from blows by running around a
table. But, after a few impatient circumvolutions, the lover jumps over
that little tree and with his wings shakes those of his companion. A
pinch of golden dust spreads through the air, and a slightly spiteful
shrug, a rebuff and a voluptuous quiver close that first scene of love.
At times the little female seems about to yield to the impatient
embraces of her companion; and when he, with the trepid anxiety of him
who is about to grasp happiness, is very close to her and on the point
of touching with his pubescent and loving antennæ the velvety body of
his beloved one, she flies two yards away, and he after her and again
and again is met with mockery and cajoleries. The heat increases and the
surcharged desire has become as ardent as the sun. The coquette has
turned her back to her pursuer and opens her wings slowly in order to
show the splendor of her gems, her silver, her velvet, in all their
pomp; and having shown them, she folds and raises her wings and
instantly hides all the most splendid dress with which nature has made
her so beautiful. Nor is the male less of a seducer, as with a little
bound, which resembles a flight, he places himself in front of his
companion, and in turn opens his wings, showing his thousand colors and
the charm of his golden eyes. But too restless is the impatience of
those two lovers who exchange their first kisses. Whoever has witnessed
but once the caresses of two butterflies can certainly imagine how the
angels love; but does any planet shelter a human creature that lives
with wings also in heaven?

Now those two butterflies come near to each other, so near as to touch,
to kiss with their antennæ; then in a wink one bounds upon the other and
with a leisurely, sweet, prolonged caress, fondly they kiss each other
with their wings. And then they repose, as though they wished to relish
the sweetness of that grand and voluptuous caress, in which the wing of
the one softly and slowly kisses the silk and velvet of his companion.
How sweet, how sensual must be the caress of two wings which with a
thousand scintillating papillæ touch each other in a perfect
juxtaposition, and yet in this intermingling of nerves and velvet do not
lose one single speck of that golden dust which adorns them!

Many and many a time I saw those happy creatures prance around and kiss
each other; many a time I stood with beaming eye, envying that angelic
kiss of two wings. Man may, indeed, envy the butterfly which in its rich
loves of glittering inspiration puts to shame our corporeal embraces.
Two creatures, nude yet clothed, passionate and chaste, that love but
once and one creature only, that kiss on earth and unite in the skies;
that, inebriated with the nectar of flowers and the rays of the sun,
caress each other with their wings and fall in love with such beautiful
hues as Titian and Rubens strove in vain to obtain from their art and
their chemistry; two creatures that abandon life in a long love and from
the spasms of a leisurely embrace return to nature their bodies
extinguished by love!

After long kisses and many caresses, my two angels exchanged a last,
more ardent rebuff, and then away in the sky to relight the torch of
life which was soon to be extinguished in them. Sighing, I followed
them, now united in a whirling flight, until they were lost in the azure
of the skies. Why do we not also love in that way?


On my neighbor's roof the first rays of the sun have stirred up an
infernal racket. Among the tiles, tawny and corroded by the black
wartwort, there are some soft cushions of moss, and on the eaves, with
edges frayed by rust and twisted by the alternating of sun and ice,
grows some grass that, more frugal than an anchoret and happier than a
king, lives on light and dew. On those tiles and on those eaves all the
sparrows in the neighborhood have their rendezvous; and, sprightly,
petulant, noisy, they pursue each other, intermingle with their wings,
and clash, peck, play with their little feathered bodies. They speak a
common and inharmonious language, but they seem to narrate the dreams of
the night, and to have many and important things to tell each other. One
shrieks, another warbles, a third is chirping; not one is still. Happy
because they have slept well, having already forgotten yesterday, and
unmindful of today, they are basking their feathers in the first rays of
the sun, and, beaks hidden under their wings, waging war upon some
importunate acarus. There are some small and some big. The gray, the
coppery, and the black with slight variations of hues indicate, perhaps,
to the naturalist age and sex, perhaps even varieties of species; but in
this moment they are all kindred chattering and enjoying themselves
together. No difference of caste seems to humiliate one and elate
another; no infirmity produces pain in some of them and compassion in
others; here is neither etiquette of rank nor hypocrisy of compliments.
Have they, those dear and happy young sparrows, carried into effect the
republic of Plato?

But, lo! in that crowd of thoughtless, happy creatures I behold a
sparrow of a deeper black, a darker chestnut hue, and more high-chested
than the others. Frequently he stands upright on his small legs,
stretches his neck, his body, his head, like a child about to have his
height measured, and, without moving from his place, he looks to the
right and to the left with an air of indefinable, vain complacency. And,
lo! among his neighbors he sees a female sparrow, of a plain gray color,
with an elongated body, delicate and pretty. She seems to have been made
for the ivory hand of a lady to hold, thrusting out her loving head from
that nest of intelligent folds that is the hand of a woman. The impudent
sparrow sees her and, without approaching, utters a cry of conquest
which in force and petulance already seems to be a cry of victory. It
appears to me that in the sparrow's dictionary that sound must be a word
with great significance and important consequences, because the pretty
little female with a short flight leaves the noisy crowd of her
companions and draws near to the edge of the roof. But the bold lover
impatiently flies after her and repeatedly renews his insistent,
petulant cry; he is already very close to her, but the little female
flies to the roof of the house on the opposite side of the street. She
has hardly reached it when the male overtakes her, and at short distance
they both face and defy each other; and, twittering in different voices,
they hurl at each other a world of words which seem to me insolence and
tenderness at the same time. The one whines, the other shrills; the one
implores, the other commands, and frequently the prating is so closely
intermingled that it seems like the sound of one instrument. But the
bickering appears to have fatigued them, and the pretty little female
withdraws, running to an eave, while the male looks up at the sun and
awaits new strength. And strength seems to be restored to him very soon,
for the warbling and shrieking begin anew. Nor is the insolent lover
satisfied with his voice, but runs by leaps and flights to peck his
companion; and a hasty retreat, a confused crying, a continual clashing
succeed each other at brief intervals through the mossy labyrinths of
that roof. Already many battles have been fought between the two lovers;
the anxiety to escape and to defend herself from wanton desires seems so
sincere in that winged little female that I almost begin to believe that
she does not want to be loved that morning. But, if this be really so,
why does she not open her wings and fly away into the infinite sky? And
if she does not love that too obstinate persecutor, why does she call
him when he, piqued, flies to the top of the roof, almost simulating
indifference or vexation? But desire cannot stand that war any longer,
and the male is now decided to seize the sweet prize of victory, and as
if sliding down on those tiles, with short leaps that seem steps he
pursues his companion, who withdraws to a corner of the roof where it
projects over the street. Behind her she has not an inch of space left:
she must either fly away and lose, perhaps, her lover, already tired of
so many refusals, or capitulate. Fractions of an inch seem to have
become infinite space, measured as they are by male and female with
steps and leaps; and the female raises her voice louder and louder at
intervals, but does not succeed in drowning the more robust and
courageous voice of the lover who is now so close to her as to touch her
with his beak and shake her with his wings. The two little warm bodies
come into contact, clash, commingle. There, on the extreme brink of the
eave, with her little body suspended over the abyss, the female concedes
the crowning voluptuousness to her companion, and a sweet inspiration
and a rebuff which seems like a flash of lightning attend an ardent,
intimate, fulmineous love, a love caught over the abyss of space.

The two lovers fall in a swoon; they rise slowly and stare at each
other, amazed and languid; then, with a shiver, they adjust their
feathers, disarranged by the embrace; with a second shiver they absorb
slowly, slowly the last quaver of the vanishing voluptuousness, and away
they fly to hide in some hospitable tree their happy lassitude and to
restore their strength for new battles and new loves.

These two pictures, which I have rapidly sketched from nature, are only
poor specimens from an immense collection, rich in the warmest tints and
in the most singular designs. In no function does life multiply its
forces as in love, and the queerest phenomena are interlaced around the
union of the sexes, which, unique in essence, assumes the most varied
forms. The philosopher, the poet, the artist, should study with interest
the thousand ways in which living beings exchange the germinative
gemmulæ, and they would find subjects for profound meditation and a
strong incentive to inspiration. Only in the eyes of the hypocrite or of
the idiot many loves of living beings may seem brutal battles or
lascivious embraces. Nowhere does Nature manifest herself more powerful,
more inexhaustible, more admirable than where she teaches the living how
to perpetuate life. It is well to conceal, as far as possible, from the
eyes of our children, especially from little girls, the too obscene
intercourses of those domestic animals which most resemble us. However,
the most rigorous morals in the world and the most puritanical modesty
would be unable to hide the kisses of doves, the amorous duets of
canaries, the sublime embraces of butterflies. More than one maiden had
in these pictures of nature her first lesson of love; and many years
before the lips of a lover taught her the life in two, doves, canaries,
butterflies had caused her heart to throb, disclosing to her a corner in
the realm of infinite and glowing mysteries.



A human being of a low order or of a simple nature does not feel the
energy of that new sentiment called love rise within him until the
development of the germinative glands has marked in him the character of
the sex and made of that being a man or a woman. On the other hand, in
rich and powerful natures, many years before sex has impressed its deep
mark on the organism, a vague, mysterious and chaste sympathy attracts
the young boy toward the young girl. There, where the sun of the
infinite azure of the skies is to rise, one notices a rosy tint lightly
projected on the horizon, but sufficient to warn us: "There must the
greatest star shine some day, the father of all light." The sun is ever
the most beautiful among all the beautiful things of the skies, and I
have studied with warm and constant affection, watched with religious
attention the first crepuscules of that other sun which we are now
studying in this book. They appear without being invited by the
precocious corruption of books and of neighbors, they rise spontaneously
in the heart of the most unconscious innocence; they shine like serene
and calm rays of a light that later will be ardent and fascinating. They
appear and disappear, like flashes of lightning, flashes which
noiselessly illuminate the clouds and then leave them darker than
before. A vulgar and coarse malignity repeats a blasphemy every day when
it asserts that no child is ignorant of the secrets of love. The
innocence of childhood is truer, more sincere and deeper than is
supposed, and lasts limpid and adamantine even when it has been splashed
with the mud of social corruption. The rosy lips of a child may repeat,
with an expression of lascivious malice, a jest learned by chance from a
maid-servant or from a libertine, but that stain does not penetrate into
the crystalline nature of the child, and the spray of a fountain will be
sufficient to wash the trace away. The malignant rabble is wont to doubt
of the innocence of others, just as the wicked is to deny all virtue.

In the infantile songs, in the noisy and turbulent games which form the
delight of the first age, suddenly a young boy beholds a little girl
among a hundred, among a thousand; and an instantaneous sympathy ties
the rosy knot of a nameless affection, of an innocent, unwitting love,
which may seem at the same time the caricature and the miniature of a
sublime picture. I remember having seen an angelic little girl, blonde
as an ear of wheat and rosy as the aurora, throw her arms around the
neck of a little boy as haughty as a brigand and as dark as a pirate.
And the impudent little thing would cover him with kisses, and he would
disdain and resent these cajoleries; and she would tell him that she
loved him very much, that she wanted to make of him her little
bridegroom. A reversed world, a microscopic scene of a chaste Joseph who
did not know what woman was, and a Lilliputian woman who, in the
innocent ardors of a childish embrace, seemed to be the wife of Potiphar
and was nothing but an angel. However, this sudden movement of affection
between two children of different sex conceals sometimes a true and real
passion which has haughty jealousies, tears and sighs, delirious joys, a
history, a future.

The beautiful young girls whom a kind or a cruel nature has destined to
arouse at every step of life a desire or a sigh, often ignore the fact
that in the multitude of their adorers there are boys so small as to
seem babies and who kiss in secret the flowers that have fallen from
their bosoms; who furtively and mysteriously, like domestic thieves,
steal into the little room that shelters their angel to kiss her bed, to
kneel on the carpet which that woman treads--that woman whom they
already distinguish above all the creatures in the world, whom they dare
already to place on the same level as their mother. And how often a
woman who playfully runs her fingers through the locks of a boy laying
his head upon her knees, is unconscious of a little heart that beats
loudly, loudly, under those caresses; unconscious, when the child raises
his curly head, of the cause of his flush, which does not come from
congestion, but from burning with a fire of which he himself is
ignorant, but which is love.

These rosy phantoms, which gild some of the most beautiful hours of our
child-life, seem to last only as long as the morning twilight; and
certainly the battles of youth often cause them to be forgotten. And
many, with slippery memories and skeptical hearts, when they hear them
mentioned have only words of contempt and gestures of pity for what they
are pleased to term infantile lullabies to be relegated among the
horrors of the witches and the caresses of the nurse. And yet how often
these fleeting phantoms announce the storms of the future, reveal a
deeply enamored nature and weave the first threads of a long fabric of
delirious joys and torments! Some very, very fortunate mortal, on his
death-bed, could press the hand of the only woman he had ever loved,
whom he had loved when still a child, before he even knew she was a
woman. The trembling lips of the dying man could link the last kiss of
life with the first noisy, insolent, clumsy kiss on the soft cheek of a
ten-year-old girl. And without trying to reach this loftiest sphere of
an ideal too far removed from our existence, how often, after a long
life hardened by the tortures of a hundred passions, after having lost
faith and love, in the dusk of the early evening a last rosy flash of
sunset awakened a dear memory, buried many years since, and the heart of
an old man throbbed and a tear ran down his wrinkled face! Before the
weary eyes a little straw hat had passed, with two blue streamers, but
in the depths of the heart what an abyss of dear memories had opened in
an instant! In the night of the past, a limpid ray of light had
illumined a picture all life and all beauty; an antique cameo had
appeared under the pick of the gravedigger, among ruins and dust! And
that picture was a childish love, a flower carried away by the turbid
torrent of a storm, but preserved by the friendly hand of memory,
which, after all, is not always ungrateful or cruel.

If you ask a boy why he loves a little girl, he will blush and run away;
if you ask the little girl, her face will flush and she will answer with
a sublime impertinence. They love--_and they know not why_! Ask a
precocious rosebud why it wanted to bloom in March, instead of awaiting
the warm and voluptuous air of May; ask a July cyclamen why it did not
await the cool breezes of September to perfume the mossy bed in which it
had made its nest. _They love, and they know not why!_ In passionate men
the first light of love appears sooner, because Nature, fruitful and
impatient, longs to give her flowers, and an entire life will be for
them too short a day to satisfy the intense thirst of love which
consumes them. They love soon because they love much; as men of genius,
at ten years of age, often conceive that which the masses will never
conceive at thirty.

And why, my boy, do you prefer that little girl to all the others? And
why, my pretty girl, do you allow yourself to be kissed only by the lips
of that dark, impertinent little beau? Because that little girl differs
from all the others; because that dark lad is unlike any other boy.
Love, from its first and most indistinct appearance, is selection, a
deep and irresistible sympathy of different natures, the recomposition
of discomposed forces, the equilibrium of opposites, the complement of
dissociated things; the harmony of harmonies; the most gigantic, the
most prepotent of the affinities ties of attraction!

Aside from the precursory crepuscules of natures most powerful in love,
this sentiment, in ordinary men, rises when a new want springs forth
under the rod of that magical transformer which is puberty. At that
time, on the smooth, pubescent, roundish surface of the infantile
nature, a deep crevice opens; a void is formed which woman alone can
fill; then, that little, round, smooth fruit called _little girl_ also
sheds its childish skin, disclosing the juicy and delicate flesh of the
fruit which was hidden in it. Then, from every developed muscle of the
virile organism, from every sound of its strengthened voice, from every
hair that makes its skin hirsute, there rises a powerful cry which
demands in the loudest tone: _A woman!_ And from every flexuous limb of
the girl who has become a woman, from every quiver of the hair which
makes her proud, from every pore of the young girl who has become a
crater of burning desires, arises a cry which demands: _A man!_

The passage of the fatal bridge that separates adolescence from youth is
one of the epochs most burdened with anxieties, most merry with
convulsive joys, and for this I call it the _hysterical period of life_.
I shall illustrate it, perhaps, some day, in a work which I am preparing
on the ages of man. I shall here describe with few, wide strokes of the
pen how the necessity of loving makes itself felt to most men. And if I
have referred to woman most of the time, it is because she, more chaste,
more reserved, and yet a hundred times more in need of love, feels more
deeply the shudder which announces to her the appearance of the new god;
more innocent than we are, she does not know his nature; more timid, she
has a greater fear of him. Nature conceded to man common resources
almost unknown to woman, and only too often precocious vice makes him
acquainted sooner with voluptuousness than with love. When he is chaste,
virtuous and impassioned, he also feels the same raging tumult, which
stirs his soul; he too, somber, melancholy, frantic, demands of nature,
with the accents of wrath and plaintive lamentations: _A woman!_

To this cry answers, alas! only too often, the first comer. It is
impossible for certain natures to resist a long time the tortures of
robust and vigorous chastity: the frail human shell would fall to pieces
if it persisted in keeping imprisoned an accumulation of forces, all
gigantic, all fresh, all ready for the battle. The first love is not
slow to appear; and if the neophyte who appears on the horizon lacks
more than two-thirds of the desired virtues, Love is such a magician
that he can create them and transform a worm into a god.

The maiden in her dreams, by looking at the pictures in the church and
within the domestic walls, had fancied a winged man with nothing earthly
and material but two lips to kiss. The object desired by her was an
angel, all love and all ether, who would gather under his large folded
wings the soul of the young girl and carry it away, through the space of
heaven, to a golden region, all light and warmth. The quivering of the
wings and the velvet of a kiss were all the voluptuousness which the
chaste virgin ever thought of dreaming; and beyond it, an obscure and
infinite mystery of which she knew neither name, nor confines, nor form.
And instead of this angel, she beholds a man in trousers, with
mustaches, who smokes much and slanders women; perhaps his hair is
already turning gray, already he may be a husband and a father--but he
is a man.

And the youth, too, had dreamed of his angel. She should have been all
eyes, all locks of hair; divinely slender, with feet which would hardly
touch the earth, eternal smile wreathed in an aureole of light, a soul
ardent as fire and an innocence as pure as the snow that falls upon the
summits of the Jungfrau. And, instead, she who wakes us from the dream
of the night is the provocative, stout maid-servant who by her contours
only, distinct and strong as they are, shows nothing but that she is
much of a woman, and instead of wings she has two sinewy arms and two
hands hardened from the use of pot and broom; and, far from having
winged feet, she pounds the floor with pattens that seem to be soled
with iron--but she is a woman.

Anything is good and enough for a first love, which is nearly always a
million of hunger and a penny of bread. How vulgar is the object of that
enamored young girl's thoughts! The heart of a grocer in the body of a
porter! But he is pallid, and the hebetude of his stare seems
sentimental languor to her; he is ill, and to her his illness appears
poetic; he is robust, and for her he is the god of strength; he is
arrogant, but to her he is passionate; he is an egotist, and so much the
better, for he will love but her, who alone will know how to make him
happy. How much poetry that ardent youth has launched to the skies, when
he sang the exciting form of a strong peasant woman! How many elegies
has he not wept, thinking of the bluish paleness of a cholerotic
working-woman! Woe, if seduction accompanies all this texture of lies
with which too often the first love builds its nest! Woe, if to the
inexperienced maiden the aged libertine says, with the accent acquired
from long practice: "I love you!" Woe, if the lascivious old woman,
satisfying her old appetite with unripe fruit, knows how to warm the
innocent youth at the fire of new voluptuousness! Then the fire is
kindled, the flames spread, and the first object loved is placed on the
altar with vows of eternal fealty, and perfumed with the incense of the
maddest, most unrestrained idolatry.

The first love is not always born so evilly, but it too closely
resembles, alas! these first loves which I have just described. Let us
be sincere from the very first steps in our studies, for hypocrisy is
the wood-worm that in modern society cuts into and corrodes the highest
and strongest tree in the garden of life. The original sin of love
appears to us with its first cry, and even when we have been forced to
use all the artifices of the galvanoplastic to gild our idol, even when
the bellows of imagination have worked to inflame the first love, the
very first thing we say is a lie: "I love you above everything in this
world; I shall love you forever. You are my first love, and one can love
but once." And a second vow answers the first, perhaps more sacred and
more ardent; and in a kiss, that is often the sum of two lies, the first
hypocrisy is sealed, which down to the last generation of the loves of
those two beings will seal with an everlasting mark all the expressions
of affection, all the cravings of the heart.

Be sincere with the first kiss, if you desire love to be the chief joy
of life, not a shameful trade of voluptuous lies. Yes, yours is the
first love, but because it is the first it is neither true nor just nor
natural that it should be the greatest, the one, the only love. Do not
swear falsely, do not perjure yourselves before you know what truth is.
To the eternity of your vows, the indifference of tomorrow will answer
with a sardonic, mocking grin. Before you have really loved, you will
sing in every tune that virtue does not exist, that love is a dream,
and, children and elders at the same time, you will forswear a god whose
temple you have never seen.

You are two: a man and a woman; and you say that you love each other,
and perhaps it is first love for both. Well, then, during the first days
do not swear, if you still value the word of an honest man, and if
perjury still has terrors for you. Rarely is the first love true love,
as the first book of an author rarely is the true expression of his
genius. One is weak from excessive youth as from old age; and the one
and first and only love, like many other dogmatic formulas which delight
so much that pedantic and hypocritical biped called man, has made more
victims in modern society than many crimes and many maladies of body and
mind ever did. If your love is the first, so much the better; with hands
chastely clasped and lips modestly conjoined, do not pronounce any other
words but these: "Let us love each other!" If you are among the few and
happy mortals who will love but once; if you are among the very few who,
in the first woman or in the first man, have found the angel seen in
their first dreams of youth, thousand and thousand times blessed! The
fidelity of the future will cement for life the virtues of your souls.
As for myself, if the increased progress of true and healthy democracy
should eliminate from juridical institutions the formula of the oath, I
would wish that the man and the woman who love each other should never
swear. An adjuration less and a caress more, what a delight! An eternity
less, and a longer caress, what voluptuousness! Nor should chaste and
chosen souls throw my book away, feeling hurt by my cynic advice. If
they will read the pages that follow, they will clearly see that no one
more than I intends to elevate love to the most serene regions of the
ideal, and that, however high sentiment can ascend, I, also, feel the
strength to follow it. The triple and thick skin of hypocrisy that
enwraps us from infancy, the Arcadic varnish which makes us look
polished and brilliant, nearly always forbid us to see the true nature
of things, and in love we are all unmistakably counterfeiters. The
greatest liberty, the greatest sincerity alone can cure us of this
malady, which is civil rather than national, because it penetrates every
race, every social class; it does not spare the highest and strongest
natures; it has become an integral part of every fiber of our hearts, of
the framework of all our institutions.

Which are the true sources of love? Which are the paths that lead to the
sacred temple? There should be an only source, an only path, but so many
are those who throng and crowd to enter there, where all expect the
greatest joy, that not all enter by the great highway of nature, but
through secret gates and oblique ways reach their aim; they are unhappy
because the original sin of their loves condemns them to a dangerous
life sown with despondency and bitterness.

All the natural flows of the true and great love collect in one source.
They are drops which slowly trickle into the depths of our body, and
there they gather and form rivulets and streamlets that, in turn,
collect in the channel of our veins until they effuse as the warm,
quivering wave of _sympathy_.

Sympathy is the only and true source of love. _Sympathy_, most beautiful
among the beautiful words of human speech! To suffer together, a
melancholy vaticination of life lived in two; but better still, to feel,
laugh and weep together! Two organisms, but one sense; two exterior
worlds, but which unite around a unique center; two nerves that by
various ways carry various sensations, but which interweave and run
together in one heart. To see, to gaze at, to desire each other. A spark
shoots forth from the contact of two desires: such is the first fact of
love. Two solitary ships in the desert of the ocean were plowing through
the waves, unknown to each other; the wind propelled one near to the
other; a shiver of sympathy ran through the sails and the shrouds and
caused them to creak simultaneously; they felt pressed by a common need,
and cast out a hawser which should tie them together. From that moment
they shall plow the same waters, expose themselves to the same dangers,
and long and sigh for the same land.

The most rapid and ardent sympathies have their sources in the
admiration of form, that is to say, in the sentiment of the beautiful
which is satisfied by the object which we desire and are about to love.
Among the four definitions of love that Tasso was wont to discuss, there
are three which express or suggest this idea: "Love is a desire of
beauty; Love is the cupidity of embrace for the pleasure of those who
covet a particular beauty; Love is the union through pleasure of
beauty." And, in fact, what is love if not the choice of the better
forms in order to perpetuate them? What is love if not the selection of
the best in order that it may triumph over the mediocre, a selection of
youth and strength in order that it may survive the old and weak
elements? Woman, the custodian of germs, the vestal of life, must be
more beautiful than we, and man loves in her the form above all other
things; and mediocre forms can, if elevated by a gigantic genius and an
impassioned heart, still excite ardent passions. But these are always
unstable sympathies, and where a real deformity appears, love is dead,
or lives only as a prodigy of heroism, or as an esthetic malady. Woman
also is immediately affected by the beauty of virile forms and can love
a man merely because he is handsome; but in her the field of sympathy
expands and is much higher, and character and genius will seduce her
more frequently than is the case with men. The ugliest men enjoyed the
superhuman voluptuousness of being loved; but in the attitude of their
characters, in the power of their genius, in the greatness of their
position, they possessed a fascination which belonged, nevertheless, to
the world of beauty. Woman has within herself such a power of
transmission of the germinative elements and such an accumulation of
beauty as to be capable of doing without the power and the beauty of her
companion; but she wants to feel conquered by a superior force,
fascinated by something that shines or flashes or thunders.

In love, genius and character exercise very little influence if they do
not assume a beautiful form, and esthetics dominate and govern all
amorous phenomena. This is not enough: even those who believe that their
judgment in making a selection soars to the loftiest spheres of the
ideal world, and despise the beautiful as a vulgar fascination of dull
and clouded minds, seek, involuntarily, unknowingly, some virtues that
bear a deep sexual mark. There may be a philosopher who boasts of having
loved a homely but intelligent and sensible woman; but let him search
the depths of his heart, let him study the sources of his love, and he
will find that he admires and loves in his companion those virtues which
are essentially feminine: the flexuous grace of tenderness and the kind
intelligence of the heart, or the insuperable cleverness of affection,
or the coquettish forms of a refreshing and modest intellect. In other
words, the proud despiser of form was seduced by the form, all beautiful
and all feminine, of a character or of an intelligence. And woman, when
she happens to love an ugly man, is conquered either by dominating
intellect, by dazzling ambition, by heroic courage, or by the power of
some virtues that bear a deeply virile mark. Sex is too great a portion
of the economy of life to be eliminated from our calculations by our
caprice, and love is a stream too large to be dammed and directed
between the paper dikes of our sophisms and our reticences; and if some
one should not be convinced yet that beauty is the supreme inciter of
every amorous sympathy, let him remember that love is the passion of
youth, and this is always a chosen form of beauty.

It rarely happens that two flashes from the eyes of a man and of a woman
who meet for the first time should kindle one fire only. This is the
ideal of the most ardent sympathies, the most fortunate combination in
the great, hazardous game of life. To meet suddenly, to see, to admire,
to desire each other at once and to embrace with such a look as if it
came from above; to feel inundated by a gaze, equally warm and
penetrating; to blush together and to feel all at once that two hearts
beat louder and mutely make this sweet confession: "I love you, and you
are mine!"--all this is a joy too rare, too beautiful, one which few
mortals have known and few will know.

It happens more frequently that nascent sympathies proceed unequally, so
that the one has already carried a man to the highest summits of desire
and passion, while the other hardly begins to stir; the one already
throbs, the other only faintly vibrates. Even when two loves are called
to high and fortunate destinies, even when they will soon spread their
robust wings together in the space of bliss, a task is reserved to woman
in the vicissitudes of love, so different from ours that she cannot feel
with us the same sudden and violent emotions. Man says everything with a
look; unhesitatingly and proudly he acknowledges his defeats. Woman,
even under the spell of the most ardent sympathy, lowers her eyelids,
refuses the too intense light and protects her heart with all the
refrigeratives and sedatives at her command. Man has already said to
woman a hundred times with the flash of his eyes: "I love you!" The
woman, trembling, hardly dares to say: "Perhaps I will love you!" And
away run those two happy beings, fleeing from each other, until the
sympathy of the one equals that of the other, until the supreme languor
of a long battle is smothered in two notes which vibrate together with
the sweetest harmony, while they say to each other, with a sigh, "I love
you!" and to nature repeat with another sigh: "Thanks!"

The energies of amorous desire, which the longer they last the larger
they grow, follow the laws of elementary physics governing the forces.
The most instantaneous love is not the most durable, and if an
unexpected satisfaction follows a sudden desire, love may sometimes
resemble a glorious rape rather than a true and real passion. It is true
that love is not a battle but a long war, and when the first victory is
followed by a hundred, a thousand victories, the fulmineous sympathy
also may take deep roots in our hearts, and rallying after nearly every
struggle, may pervade us all and reach the ideal perfection of coupling
intensity with extensiveness, of twinkling at the same time with the
light of those stars that never set and that of the lightning flash
that plows the skies. The most perfect love is a sun that never sets,
but does cast forth now and then more scintillant flashes. In ordinary
cases, however, loves that rise slowly, slowly die away; and those of
the nature of lightning last as long as lightning. In all cases, a
healthy love, well constituted and destined for a prolific existence,
whether born suddenly or slowly, should begin with a violent shock that
measures the depths from which the warm sympathy sprang forth. All other
affectionate sentiments arise in a manner different from love, whose
nature it is to be born amidst thunder and lightning, as gods or demons
should be born. Princes cannot come into the world like the masses; and
the Prince of Affections cannot come to light with the assistance of an
intelligent and affectionate midwife and the domestic cares of
relatives. Where a coruscation of the skies and a trembling of the earth
do not attend the birth of the new love; where nature does not rend the
air with a cry of voluptuousness or of pain, no one can deceive me: a
friendship, an affection, some sort of a sentiment, may have come into
existence; but I shall certainly not christen the new-born with the
sacred baptism of love.

And thus, naturally, we have arrived at those frontiers which separate
the only legitimate way by which we may enter the temple from those ways
that lead to it through oblique and unused paths. Friendship can be a
source of love, and a very good one, but it is always a pathological,
unnatural origin, which leads step by step to the worst of the sources
of love, such as gratitude, compassion, vanity, lust, revenge.

When one has been able to see a woman during a long time, talk to her
and perhaps live with her without calling her by any other name but that
of sister or friend, if he feels some day that he loves her, such love
resembles those tropical fruits grown in our climate by means of manure
and hothouse. Whether friendship is possible between man and woman is an
old problem which will never be solved, because many give that name to
true, real loves, which, approaching the threshold of desire, held
back, perhaps, by the rigid hand of duty, oscillate suavely and
lingeringly in front of the temple without ever entering it. It is by a
conventional politeness that to these loves we give the name of
friendship, and I will certainly not condemn such innocent
falsification; but a true and real friendship, with all the specific
characteristics that distinguish this serene affection between man and
woman, is not possible except on one condition: to obliterate every
sexual mark in the two beings that have shaken hands. And the
elimination of the sex in an individual is such a cruel mutilation, both
physical and moral, that it destroys more than half of man. If
friendship unites two eunuchs of this kind, I shall say that their
affection is no longer that which exists between man and woman, but that
of two neutral beings. However, as long as a single desire of the
other's person is possible in them, as long as the most chaste, the most
innocent of desires may arise in them, friendship becomes love. How many
are these moral eunuchs? How many men and women can love without desire?
Count them and then I shall be able to tell you how many are the cases,
well ascertained, of _friendship without love_ between man and woman.

I wish, nevertheless, to be more explicit, so that I may not seem to go
on beating about the bushes without attacking and solving the question
because I find it difficult. Are there in this sublunary world a man and
a woman glad to see each other, who love each other and who have never
desired even a kiss from each other? Yes; those two angels, then, are
friends and I admit the possibility of the psychological phenomenon of
friendship between two persons of different sex.

From any form of mild affection one can pass to love, and therefore much
more easily from that friendship between man and woman knowingly
admitted by us as possible. Long-lasting and healthy loves may arise in
this way, but they always have a cold skin and a somewhat lymphatic hue.
They require restoratives, a hydropathic cure, and, sometimes, cod-liver
oil as well, because from the lymphatic they may also pass to the
scrofulous stage. A common variety of this kind of loves is that which
originates from gratitude.

"Love who to none beloved to love remits" sang the poet, and he told the
truth; but this goes on one condition, that between the two who love
each other there shall be no other difference but in the length of the
step; that is to say, that one should arrive first and the other join
him afterward; otherwise they would never meet on the main road of
sympathy. You, O tutors, who believe in the love of a pupil; you,
gentlemen, who believe in the love of the orphan girl whom you have
helped out of her poverty; you, old bachelors, who believe in the love
of the grateful chambermaid, remember that gratitude alone did never
generate a legitimate love. If gratitude takes you by the hand and leads
you on the road of sympathy, it may be a good guide, but nothing more.
There are men and women who very much resemble cold-blooded animals,
which have the same temperature as the ambient that surrounds them, but
can generate little or no heat. They know not how to love of themselves,
and it is necessary that another love descend upon them to soak them, to
saturate them, like cake dipped in wine. Their sympathies are cold and
equal for all; they often ask of books and men what is love, and compare
the descriptions by others to what they feel in their hearts, like the
naturalist who turns and turns an insect in his hands, compares it to
the pictures before him, and finally exclaims: "It really seems to me
that this insect is the _Amor verus_ of the entomologists. I, too, do
love, really love." For all these gentlemen, whose number is much
greater than supposed, the verse of the poet is most true, and they
always love out of gratitude or compassion, which is almost the same.

That mild and sweet affection which is love out of gratitude must not be
confused with that commiseration which women especially feel for those
who love them desperately, and to whom they often concede not love, but
love out of pity. Woman is easily moved; she cannot look on
apathetically when a man suffers, and frequently yields, not out of
lewdness but of pity, which is also coupled with the legitimate pride
of being able to transform a wretched being into a happy man. And man
often takes advantage of this weakness of Eve and wickedly abuses it,
and is ready, later, to calumniate her who has made him happy. Man, too,
can love out of compassion, but more frequently concedes himself without
affection and through pride, as we shall see further on in the course of
our studies.

Woman, however, sometimes concedes love, together with voluptuousness,
to him who weeps, sighs and suffers for her. Compassion is the
benevolent chord which vibrates even in natures brutally egotistical;
while in woman, rich in so many affections, it can vibrate until it
tortures her. This sentiment, however, is, of its own nature, tender and
mild, and by placing a hand on him who suffers, keeps him always in a
state of subjection, so that true equality can never exist between the
one who inspires compassion and the one who feels it. This is the
essential character of compassion; and even when, by narrow, long and
thorny paths, it leads us to love, this is always under the influence of
its bastardly origin. All loves out of compassion are forms of
affectionate commiseration, of benign protection, and lack the highest
notes of passion. They strongly resemble the verses of him who is not a
poet; the god of fire does not pervade, does not inflame them; they do
not know the sacred agitation of the sibyl; and if they can live long in
a mild climate, they can, however, be suddenly overthrown by the
appearance of the true god, who demands his rights, his tributes of
blood and of ardors. The woman who, unfortunately, has not yet
experienced any love other than that inspired in her by compassion, may
deceive herself, may believe that she loves truly and deeply; but woe to
her, if a real and warm sympathy should awake in her heart, that she may
make a comparison between the true love and the false one! The weak
little plant of an affection long guarded by commiseration will fall and
be carried away by the fury of the impetuous stream, and the poor
creature, who really loves for the first time, may suffer the most
excruciating pain, and be made to fight the bloodiest struggles between
duty and passion, between commiseration and love. I know only too well
that among the thousand forms of cowardly love there is also the
cowardice which begs love on bended knees, but I would prefer to be
loved by caprice, revenge or lechery, rather than by compassion. The
woman who loves us in that way has always her heel on our heads; and
although the sweet pressure of a woman's little foot may be as dear as
the caress of her hand, in the face of nature we commit an act of
cowardice and invert the most elementary laws of the physiology of the
sexes. The man who waives the primacy of conquest is a lion that allows
his mane to be shorn, a Samson with clipped hair, always a mild and
disguised form of eunuch. May fortune protect you all from love out of

A still more turbid source of love is vanity; to hear that a woman is
very beautiful and chaste, that she has never permitted herself to be
loved, is an immediate stimulus of sudden ambition to the man who knows
that he is strong and adores the daughters of Eve. And the daughters of
Eve, in turn, very willingly persist in throwing the baited hook to
catch the cold, lonely fish who lives in the most dark recesses of
solitude and chastity. Hence many challenges sent and taken which lead
oftener to a conquest of bodies than to true love. The great
woman-lovers, who have long since renounced the virtue of sublime love,
are accustomed to conquer all the conquerable solely for vanity's sake,
solely to tie with amorous chains to their triumphal chariot a new slave
and a new victim. They nearly always like to conquer the most difficult
and different characters, and you may find them ardently wishing to give
the first lesson in voluptuousness to the innocent as well as to
subjugate the most cunning and oldest libertines. Besides vanity, the
goad of morbid curiosity has its share in this choice of victims, as
curiosity is one of the strongest threads in the psychological web of
woman. A tart, wild fruit may stimulate the appetite of a palate too
dull, as would the mordant pungency of cheese too old; the frivolous
woman is passionately fond of this alternating of sour and burning
tastes, of this succession of men inexperienced in love and men only too
well versed in it; and lechery may go so far in these natures as to
cause them to love through mere curiosity of the unknown, even excluding
lust, which is not always necessary in these pathological tastes. At any
rate, even when vanity alone has brought a man and a woman together, a
posthumous sympathy may awaken a real love with healthy members and a
long life. It is, however, always a love that resembles the rich man who
was born a peasant and, true upstart that he is, may, in the midst of
luxury and pleasure and in the most courteous manner, kick you out of
his presence when you least can afford it. To be born well is really the
first problem of life in all cases, and democracy itself cannot succeed
in overthrowing the ancient aristocracy unless it can boast of a
legitimate and noble birth.

Man, who daily accuses of vanity his female companion, shows oftener
than the latter the most grotesque and clownish forms of that sentiment;
and we rarely see him renounce the puerile ostentation of those of his
loves which had the bastardly origin of vanity. How often has he reached
the lowest stage of cowardice by casting up to the woman who blessed him
with love, that he sought her love only to adorn with another trophy his
triumphal chariot! Woman, instead, almost always, even when she has
desired to be loved out of vanity alone, even when she is about to
dismiss the servant who has wearied her, will give him a testimonial
which makes him happy, does not humiliate him, and will satisfy him that
he pleased--for a day, a month, a year--the woman who, perhaps, feigned
to love him, or loved him very blandly. No man feels humiliated in
thinking that he was the sweet victim of a caprice; all feel dejected if
made the target of a vainglorious speculation. And many other times,
woman, with a very refined and generous tact, pretends not to understand
that she is desired and loved solely out of vanity, and gradually
succeeds in making men love her for herself, and for herself alone. The
_friendly enemy_ not perceiving it, she succeeds with subtle art in
substituting a sincere and warm passion for the narrow ambition that had
inspired the attack and the conquest: one of the thousand proofs that
woman is superior to us in sentiment in the same degree as we are
superior to her in mental strength; one of the thousand proofs that
woman always endeavors to elevate even the basest loves, while we so
often want to force under the Caudine Forks of voluptuousness even those
loves which, like the eagles, were born on the highest rocks of

Lust is the prolific mother of most vulgar loves; nay, this sentiment is
to many only the necessity of drinking at a spring found to be sweeter
than any other. Nude love, without the splendid garments of imagination
and heart, stripped even of the robust flesh lent to it by the sentiment
of the beautiful, is reduced to a skeleton which is lust and which for
very many is all they think of love. What a poor, wretched thing! A
practice of lasciviousness! Woman converted into a cup which we prefer
to any other because we have long been accustomed to satiate our thirst
out of it. To have possessed before having loved, to have been possessed
before having given the kiss of love! What ignominy! What baseness! And
yet love is such a magician that, at times, it can perform the prodigy
of being born of lechery.

Loves born of lust are the most difficult to preserve, and every day of
their life is a difficult and rare conquest. Even the most perfidious
cunning of the arts of pleasing blunts against insurmountable
difficulties, and woman, after having brought into play all the witchery
of body and heart, may see her victim snatched away from her by the
first comer. Love may be warm, ardent, thirsty, but the glass that
satisfies it is always made of the most fragile crystal and may at any
moment fall and be shattered into a hundred pieces.

Revenge, which is a form of hatred, may, by incestuous nuptials, become
a mother, or better, a stepmother of love. To be deceived and to know
it, to wish to humiliate the guilty by flaunting in the latter's face a
new love, to seek it, finding it in one day: there is the source of love
out of revenge. The unfortunate paranymph who acts as the call-bird of a
degraded passion does not always perceive the trap, allows himself to be
loved, loves, and often amuses the person who pretends to love him and
those who unconcernedly witness the shameful spectacle. Vanity makes us
blind, and it does not permit us to see that, perhaps, in the period of
a day we have been seen, desired, conquered; and while, inflated with
pride, we display our feathers like a peacock, we do not realize that we
are actors in a comedy staged to humiliate him or her who is loved
always and more than ever. In some very humiliating cases we serve as
rubefacient and sink so low as to be placed on a level with a mustard
poultice or a leech; and the cure effected at our expense is so quick
and perfect that we are immediately dismissed, like a physician who is
impatiently paid and impatiently taken leave of because his services are
no longer required.

These, however, are the most unfortunate cases, and belong to the
ugliest pathology of the human heart; in other instances love out of
revenge becomes, through the virtue of either or both of the lovers, a
true and real love which cures the old wound and opens a wide horizon of
happiness to the man and to the woman who have become acquainted in such
a strange manner, and it may then be said that he who was to be the
revengeful executioner, the unconscious minister of the justice of love,
becomes, instead, first the physician and afterward the lover of the
offended, and a new love arises on the ruins of the old one.

I certainly do not claim to have studied all the pure and impure sources
of love, but I would feel satisfied if I had touched upon the most
important ones, and outlined the genealogy of this sentiment. In an
analytical work, however great may be the care exercised in order not to
detach adherent things, it is next to impossible to avoid breaking some
fiber or destroying anything. It frequently occurs that the source of
love is not one, but double, or is formed by the collecting of various
streamlets, so that it would be difficult to state whether the new-born
is a legitimate son or a bastard. A slight but sincere sympathy may be
associated with great vanity, but the desire for revenge may,
fortunately for us, fall in with a warm and violent affection. Thus,
lust, vanity, compassion, gratitude, may meet at the same time and
fecundate a love which later may flow limpid and pure in its bed,
although its source was an impure, muddy stream.

Sometimes a human being loves another not for the latter's sake, but out
of a strange resemblance which the latter bears to a person long loved
and, perhaps, already lost; thus it happens that one may love the
daughter after having loved the mother; and there have been cases in
which one has loved even three successive generations. The excessive
disproportion in the age of the lovers, a certain mummy effluvium
exhaled even by the most carefully embalmed bodies, gives to those loves
a character that induces me to place them at least on the frontiers that
separate physiology from pathology; I would, therefore, term them

Loves of mixed origin are the purer and warmer, the larger the part
played in them by sympathy, and this element alone would suffice to
allot a place to them in the hierarchical scale of nobility. The
influence which the first origin exercises over love is so lasting and
so prepotent that more than once affections suffering from a dangerous
illness recovered suddenly at the tender remembrance of these thoughts:
"You really loved me one day of your life." "You are mine by love and
nothing else." "And yet I loved you!" Often a man born in the highest
place and of noblest blood sinks gradually into the mire, loses his
dignity, his fortune, even the most superficial appearance of manners
and behavior; yet if you observe him attentively you will certainly find
in the nobility of some gesture, in the majestic tone of his voice, in
some refined taste, such traces of his ancient origin as may have
survived the shipwreck. And so it happens with a well-born love. I have
seen passions dragged in the mire of abjection, tattered and foul, like
a velvet rag picked up in the gutter; I have seen loves sold and bought
again, and passed through the hands of a hundred hucksters at the public
auction of vice and infamy; but in those poor shreds I have always found
something that had remained intact and revealed its ancient and noble
origin; and with my own eyes I have witnessed fabulous resurrections
that seemed miracles, and redemptions that caused me to think of the
divine intervention and of the galley-slaves too arcadically
rehabilitated through the rose-water bath of our modern philanthropists.

When love begins we may entertain some doubts as to the reality of the
passion before our eyes. The heart beats more quickly than usual, and in
the serene sky some clouds pass and evanesce in the deep azure; perhaps
in the distant mist we behold, at times, a lightning flash; but will we
have a storm or fine weather? If the heart is forced to answer, it may,
in these cases, make the same solemn mistakes as the meteorologists in
their almanacs or from the university chair. Embryos in their first
stage are all similar, and even the most powerful microscope cannot
distinguish today the egg of the lion from that of the rabbit. Incipient
sympathies, growing friendships, affinities about to become loves, are
all crepuscular things faintly delineated on the gray horizon, and the
human eye may be easily deceived; but we cannot cast any blame upon it.
And love, too, assumes so manifold and varied disguises as to render it
difficult for us to make a good diagnosis in many cases. However, it is
always easier to recognize love in our own home than in that of others,
notwithstanding the fact that it is much more important for our
happiness to know whether we are loved than to realize that we really
are in love. To distinguish in others the true love from the mendacious,
you may be helped by this physio-psychological essay, while in order to
explore your own heart scant attention to the phase of your sentiments
will suffice.

One truly loves when to the agonizing cry: "A man!--A woman!" a friendly
distant voice replies: "Do not weep; I am here!" One loves when, after
hearing that voice, the cry subsides and the deep void of desire is
filled. One loves when the desire of the beloved is placed above
everything else. One loves when one suddenly blushes or pales if he
hears a name or the familiar swish of a garment that approaches. One
loves when one involuntarily has on one's lips one name only a hundred
times in a day, or when one ceases to pronounce a word which one was
pronouncing a hundred times before. One loves when one's eyes are always
fixed on one point of the star-map where the creature dwells who has
become half of ourselves. One loves when one hurries to the mirror at
every instant to ask of oneself, "Am I beautiful enough?" and when one
restlessly explores the abyss of one's own conscience with the query,
"Can I be loved?" One loves when in every fiber of the heart, in every
atom of the organism, the sap of life is stirred and rushes through
every vein and every nerve, so that an intimate, penetrating, deep
commotion warns us with thrilling voice that something great and unusual
is in us, as though God had visited us. This is the true love, that is
not appeased by lust, nor quieted by ambition, nor cooled by distance,
that does not even lose itself in the dreams of the night; the love
that, to abandon us, must carry away with itself a large piece of
bleeding flesh and tortured nerves.



How subtle and mysterious must that high chemistry be which unites the
germinative elements of two organisms of different sex to renew life and
generate a new organism! It does not suffice that in the calm and long
silence of thirty or forty years, half lived by a man and half by a
woman, the gemmulæ have prepared and made ready to call and attract each
other; it does not suffice that the powerful energies of sexual
affinities have accumulated; it still does not suffice that a sudden
sympathy shall prepare the spark and the conflagration. All this long
activity of nature has prepared things in order that the great
phenomenon may occur; but the atoms that seek each other and ardently
desire to unite must long oppose each other in order to rekindle the
ardors and centuplicate the energies. To the human male the aggressive
mission has been assigned; to the human female, the difficult task of
defending herself. The part assigned to man is simple and requires only
strength, physical or moral, intellectual or made complex by many
elements; yet always an energy of attack and seduction, to assail and
overthrow, one after the other, curtain-walls and ramparts, barricades
and lunettes, all the intricate system of fortifications which woman
erects against man to defend herself; or rather, to let herself be
defeated slowly and chastely.

To woman, on the other hand, nature has assigned a task much more
difficult and cruel. She must repudiate what she desires; she must
struggle against the voluptuousness which invades her, repel him whom
she loves, exact sacrifices when she would ask only for kisses, be
avaricious when everything urges her to be generous. She must collect
all her meager strength to defend a gate vigorously attacked, and cry
out aloud, "Wait!" to him whom she would like to press sweetly to her

The battles of desire and coquetry, of ardor and modesty, impatience and
reticence are fought in the various countries and in the various epochs
with widely different strategy and tactics, but all may be reduced to
this general formula. Even when the sweet chain of sympathy prepares a
sure love for two lovers, the one says, "Immediately," and the other
answers "Later." When the sexes exchange their strategy and tactics, and
invert their amorous missions, there invariably arises a violent
disorder, and virtue and esthetics are submerged in the same shipwreck.

In Paraguay, where laxity of customs prevails, a most impatient young
man, who had reasons to believe himself loved, would repeat in every
key, from the most tender to the most impassioned, with sobbing voice
and tyrannical accent, this one word: "Today!" And the beautiful Creole,
who knew nothing of Darwin and sexual selection, would reply smilingly:
"But why today? You have known me for ten days only; in two months,
perhaps." In this artless reply that Paraguayan girl was evolving the
philosophy of seduction and coquetry, the fundamental lines of the
physiology of the sexes.

Every day the most beautiful half of the human race throws in our faces
the rude accusation that we are much less exacting in our tastes, and
that, satisfied with the external forms, we rarely seek to determine the
substance. And it is natural that it should happen this way; the
different missions assigned to each of the two sexes in the amorous
strategy require that this should be done. If certain contours exercise
so great and immediate a sway over us, it is because we seek in them,
unwittingly and involuntarily, the good mother and the good nurse; and,
more than it seems, voluptuousness prepares the future generations for
the good and the better. To fructify a human female, who shall become a
good mother and a good nurse, the flash of a desire and the
instantaneous ardor of a battle will suffice; but woman does not seek a
fecundator only; she wants her companion to be the defender of her
future children, the protector of her weakness; she wants to assure
herself as to the deep energy of the passion of him who says he loves
her; she wants to sound the abysses of heart and mind. The man shall
build the nest: is he an architect? He shall defend it from rapacious
animals: is he courageous? He shall train and enrich his children: has
he talent, ambition, tenacity of purpose? He must know all this. For
some time she has been aware that she is young and beautiful; many a
time the ardent rays of a thousand desires have showered upon her; at
her command numerous adorers would fall at her feet, all young, perhaps,
handsome and robust; but she does not want a man; she wants the man who
will be lastingly, powerfully and ardently hers. This is how, in the
initial web of love, we read the inexorable laws which govern it; how
clearly nature explains to us the inevitable fickleness of human males,
their polygamic wanderings and their unreasonable requirements; just as
modesty, chastity and the sublime reticence of woman are the faithful
guardians of the destinies of the future family. Much of this elementary
strategy was lost in the stormy vicissitudes of modern civilization; it
is necessary to scrape off much varnish and snatch away many rags in
order to touch the robust members of the primitive passions;
nevertheless, through multiform hypocrisy, we succeed in finding the
kernel of the thing.

Even in the rarer and more fortunate cases of two lovers suddenly and
simultaneously struck by a sympathy equally warm and energetic, it is
necessary that man and woman should court each other for a longer or
shorter period of time. They should show to each other, in a hundred
ways, their physical, moral and intellectual beauties. After having been
rapidly conquered through their glances, they must re-conquer each other
every day, every hour, with the seductions of the heart, grace and
talent. It is necessary that the great god should receive the homage of
all our beauties, all our virtues, all our perfections. From morning
till night, we go on gleaning from the fields, picking from gardens and
orchards and roaming through forests and over mountains, in order to
carry to the altar of our idol every leaf, every flower, and every fruit
which our hands can snatch away from fruitful nature. Sublime contest of
homages and tributes, sublime profusion of riches and forces! The woman,
also, who feels sure of being already loved brings to the altar a fresh
sheaf of corn ears, a fresh bouquet of flowers, and exultantly exclaims:
"This, too, is yours!" And man, although not doubting that he is the god
of his companion, approaches every moment the door of the temple, he
also carrying a new fruit, a new treasure, and always repeats: "This,
too, is yours!"

These reciprocal seductions especially succeed where dissimilarities are
deeper between the two lovers, whether proceeding from different
sympathy, age, beauty, or from any other difference of some importance
between the two that must unite to make one individual. It is then
necessary that the increased energies of the one should conquer by
degrees the treasures of the other, so that the differences may vanish
or diminish and an equilibrium be brought about without which perfect
love is impossible. One hundred volumes would not suffice to describe
the craftinesses with which man conquers a woman's love, to enumerate
the hundred thousand arts with which woman warms tepid sympathies or
carries to delirium a great passion. In many cases the intriguant holds
off a step further every day "the aim of his warm desires," and while
the avid and ardent hand is on the point of picking the fruit, this is
withdrawn by an invisible and cruel hand. "Higher, higher, still
higher," the young girl seems to say to the puppy which jumps to catch
the cracker from her rosy hands; and "Higher, still higher," cry and
should cry the women of the entire world to the man who sighs and asks
for their love.

Longer, more persistent, more fiery is the battle between desire and
conquest, and richer is the trophy of victory. The daughters of Eve
never regret the time lost in the first fights of love; not only do long
wars prepare the most splendid victories, but the first struggles are of
themselves, and for themselves alone, a better part of love's paradise,
and a long string of easy conquests is not worth one fierce and bloody
battle of enticements. If, however, O daughters of Eve, you have the
brilliant but dangerous mission of defending yourselves from a compact
phalanx of adorers, you must redouble your arts of strategy and tactics.
If you are really powerful, victory cannot fail you, and you will choose
the best among the best. Train your impatience and kill the weak with
time. The first to withdraw are the pallid loves and the desires of
libertinism. True and deep passions ignore impatience and weariness,
and, fighting every day, and every day advancing, they leave the
disputed field strewn with corpses; and when you, tired in turn, proffer
your hand to those who have long waited and long struggled, you may rest
assured that you are among the blest.

Physiological seduction, or conquest of love by nature's law, is called
by the English-speaking people _courtship_, and Darwin, by using this
word in a much broader sense and for all animals, has impressed upon it
the precious and wholly scientific mark. _Coquetry_ is only a form of
this art of seduction and conquest, and belongs already to the field of
pathology. Much more frequent in woman, it is also seen in man; and it
is so deeply rooted in some natures that it springs up before puberty
and disappears only with death. Self-esteem, however, plays in it a part
so great that its history belongs rather to the domain of pride than of
love. Physiological seduction is a necessity; coquetry is a vice; the
need of pleasing is one of the most fundamental elements of love, one of
its most useful tools; coquetry has only itself for aim. When the
conquest is made, physiological seduction lowers its weapons and
withdraws; coquetry, on the contrary, is immortal and every day it grows
afresh with new ardor and new yearning. To satisfy it, it is necessary
to awaken daily a new desire in those who have already been vanquished,
and new passions in those who have not been conquered yet, no matter
whether we share the passion or not. Above all, woman wishes to be loved
by many; and, in the less reprehensible cases, around true love she
wishes to entwine a garland of sympathies. While the heart is given to
one alone, she dispenses smiles, sighs--perhaps, also, half-chaste
kisses and semi-libertine caresses--to those she does not wish to lose
as adorers and whom she deems it opportune to keep in bondage, tying
them to herself with the subtle but strong thread of hope. In the
gravest cases the heart cannot be given to any one, because it has been
promised to all, and the huge task of pleasing many wearies the
sentiment and breaks the vertebræ of character in such a way as to make
impossible the development of any sincere and ardent affection. The most
indefatigable coquettes and the most worn-out flirts never love; and if,
in questions of love, not falling means to be virtuous, then coquetry
can be said to be most pure and most holy. Every day the moral sense
rebels at seeing many women selling smiles and desires every hour and,
posing as Lucretias, impunely playing with lasciviousness which they do
not feel, and with love which does not burn them, while they hurl
anathemas at the woman who may, perhaps, have fallen but once, torn, as
it were, by a true and strong passion, guilty of no other wrong than
believing mendacity and treachery impossible. The virtue of the coquette
is like that of the asbestos, which resists the fire by its fire-proof
nature; it is a virtue entirely physical, anatomical, and he who values
it does not possess a shadow of moral sense, nor has he even read a page
of the physiology of the human heart.

Readers, if you have the misfortune of loving a coquettish woman, never
forget that coquetry belongs to the history of the lust of sentiment;
and if you thirst for love, go and seek it elsewhere, for you have taken
the wrong road to it. Where you are, do seek play and folly,
pyrotechnics, acrobatism, the tintinnabulation of the fool's bells, the
laughter of the masquerader; but do not seek ardent voluptuousness, or
the sublime palpitations of an affection which never was the companion
of coquetry.

True love, which does not seek voluptuousness only, but the full,
absolute, complete possession of all the beloved, cannot bring into play
the subtle arts of the diplomacy of coquetry, because it cannot have the
patience to study them, or the calmness to learn them. It is a genius
that knows not how to adapt itself to the domestic cares of the home
life; a general who knows how to win battles, but does not waste any
attention on the buttons of the uniforms and on barrack regulations.
Love shines, thunders, weeps, fulminates, threatens and prays;
overthrown, it overthrows; wounded, it kills. It curses and blesses, but
is wrong in one thing only: it does not know the game of chess.
Coquetry, on the contrary, is the most famous chess-player ever known.

Natural seduction is the art of making all our values well appreciated
by presenting them with the best possible appearance. To please, we
better ourselves as much as we can, and, made beautiful by nature and
art, knock at the door through which affections enter. Man, who is the
stronger of the two who love, and from strength derives his most
irresistible seductions, after having tossed his leonine hair throws
himself habitually at the feet of the woman and begs an alms of love.
And woman, who is the weaker of the two, loves to disarrange with her
gentle hands the mane of the king of animals, to tease him and to enjoy
the superhuman voluptuousness of placing her foot on strength, to feel
it quiver underneath and be able to say: "It is mine!" This is one of
the most general forms of the reciprocal seduction of the sexes; and
when man, on his knees and, perhaps, weeping, pleads for love, he obeys
one of the most inexorable laws of nature and does not appear a coward,
nor does he debase himself. Before throwing himself down in the dust, he
must have shown flashes and thunder. "Lion for all, lamb for
myself!"--such is the man who claims a woman; she wants only to be the
Franklin of the human lightning and to attract it to herself and conduct
it along the most subtle wires of her nervous organism. And when grace
has conquered strength the daughter of Eve feels complete; and when the
man feels the rough skin of his herculean nature caressed by the soft
contact of a woman's body, he also feels as though redoubled; and both,
in the fullness of bliss, feel changed into that perfect being which is
the sum of a man and a woman.

When a difficult problem belonging to the moral world presents itself
to us, the only way to resolve it is that of simplifying it by leading
it again to the broad highway of physiology. To read and re-read the
great book of nature, trying to follow blindly its laws in the human
world: there is art. This is manifest at every step in our studies on
the sentiment of love. Which are the elements that make a woman
seductive above all others? Beauty, grace, affection. Which are the
virtues that make a man fascinating above all others? Strength, courage,
talent. There is seduction, there is sympathy, which seem the most
foolish and the most mysterious things in the world, taken back to the
virgin source of the physiology of the sexes; there is an opening
through which we see much of the light of future progress. Man must make
himself more manly than ever in order to seduce and conquer the love of
the daughters of Eve; and woman must always make herself more womanly in
order to please the sons of Adam. And both must refine and elevate the
type of their respective sexes, higher and higher, to the greatest
sublimity which human hands and poet's wings may attain. Woman may
dress, if she likes, with all the allurements of art; she may adorn her
hair with the fragrant flowers of sentiment, assume all the classic
graces and consume us with the fire of all her physical and moral
seductions; but, at the bottom, there should ever remain a female, and
under the wings of an angel and a cherub there should always be an Eve.
And man may torture his ambition in order to bend it under the heel of
love, and spur his talent so that it may throw its treasures at the feet
of his idol; he may be a hero or a martyr, Spartacus or Cæsar, a tamed
lion or a roaring lion; but in his loves let him always be as manly as
ever, so that woman, after having stripped her hero, may always find an
Adam. Seduction is never baseness, never violence, never treachery,
never tyranny, when it is inspired by a true and great love, when it is
the alliance of all our forces guided by the most legitimate, the most
powerful, the most ardent of our desires, that of loving and being
loved. Without love, seduction is a rape of voluptuousness, or a bargain
in mordant vanities; it is either a crime or a vice.



Modesty is one of the psychical phenomena the physiological study of
which is more difficult because that phenomenon is very indistinct and
vague, although prepotent and most exacting in some of its forms;
because it is very variable in the different races; and because, though
a part of the energies which develop in the reciprocal approaching of
the sexes, it seems to keep them apart, and, born of love, seems to have
a tendency to frustrate its supreme end.

I, too,--I must admit it,--through the various periods of life, have
changed the idea I first had of modesty. At first it seemed to me a
sentiment that rises within us in childhood and during adolescence, as
spontaneous as egotism, self-esteem and love; but, later, I became
convinced that modesty is taught first and learned afterward; therefore,
it is one of those sentiments which I term _acquired_ or _secondary_.

Modesty is an _extra-current_ of love, and has its principal source in
those powerful energies which, through a battle or a choice, must
relight the torch of life. Animals demonstrate to us some rudimentary
forms originating from modesty. Many of them conceal themselves when
offering a sacrifice to voluptuousness; very many females, sought by the
male, begin by fleeing, resisting, hiding that which they desire to
concede. And this is probably an irreflective, automatic act; it is,
perhaps, a form of fear which rises before the aggressive demands of the
male; but the aim of these resistances, of these pretenses of modesty is
to excite the male as much as the female and to make the ground better
fitted for fecundation. It is possible that animals conceal their loves
from our sight to protect themselves from danger, knowing that in those
supreme moments they are exposed to every attack; but until the
psychology of brutes is so limited we will be allowed to assume that
among them also the first light of modesty has penetrated. If this be
so, then we will find justification in the fact that, in superior
animals also, this sentiment appears first in the female, for whom the
anatomy of the organs and the defensive mission in the battles of love
make the actions of modesty more spontaneous and natural. And to the
human female, too, nature has assigned the same mission, making her
characteristically a hundred times more modest than the male.

The first hand brought by woman to cover parts which the male wished to
see gave origin to the first energies of the sentiment of modesty, which
arose, therefore, at the same time as the first forms of coquetry. Man
and woman, then living together in the family or in the tribe, were
naturally forced to become, independently of their greater psychical
development, the most modest animals, because woman is subject to
repulsive periodical infirmities and man shows other genital phenomena
which, if not concealed, would attract too much attention from all and
excite perturbation in males and in females. It is therefore natural
that almost all, not to say all, races of the earth present some form of
modesty, and that also in the human race the female should be more
modest than the male, because the aggressive mission, which is reserved
to him by nature, makes modesty dangerous and almost impossible, at
least in the last battles.

Modesty, born in this way, is taught, together with many other things,
by men to children, as the latter cannot, until they reach puberty,
distinguish the special importance of copulative organs, or the
aggressive mission of the male, or the thousand offensive and defensive
vicissitudes of love. Modesty, however, is perhaps born spontaneously,
or, to use a better expression, by heredity in the more perfect and
elevated natures. Hence modesty is taught to those who, of themselves,
would not know it, and we determine its limits in such a way as to
circumscribe it within the purely genital field or to widen it beyond
the amorous boundaries. The Sherihat prescribes that Turkish women
should cover the back of the hand, but permits them to expose the palm.
The Armenian women of the population of southern India cover their
mouths wherever they happen to be, even in their own homes, and when
they go out they wrap themselves in a white cloth. The married women
live in strict seclusion, and for many years they cannot see their male
relatives, hiding their faces even from the father-in-law and the
mother-in-law. And these two examples, selected from a thousand that
might be quoted, should be sufficient to persuade us that accessory and
conventional elements often accompany true modesty, to which,
physiologically, they do not belong. We, ourselves, in our own
countries, find that the boundaries of modesty are, in many places,
marked by the various fashions of dress, and that they stop from the
knees down or from the breast up and not according to the national mode
of dress. He who mistook these conventional elements for modesty could
write the great psychological heresy, that this sentiment had its origin
in the custom of covering the body.

We must not confound with true modesty those other esthetic needs which
compel us to conceal some repulsive actions of our animal life. The true
sentiment of modesty defends from profane eyes the organs and the
mysteries of love and those parts of the body that are directly or
indirectly related to it. We behold almost all races conceal first the
genitals, afterward the sides, the breast, the legs, the arms, then the
entire trunk, and finally the head; but here modesty yields the place to
the requirements of social intercourse or of jealousy.

The sentiment of modesty is among the most changeable in form and
degree. Its ethnical history is written in the volume which I have
dedicated to the ethnology of love. It will suffice here to point out
that I divide the nations into immodest, semi-modest and modest,
according to the traces of modesty and the greater or less development
of this sentiment. Modesty is unlike intelligence, or the sentiment of
the beautiful, or other psychical phenomena, which show an ascending
and regular progress as we gradually proceed from the lowest races to
the highest; therefore, it cannot be considered alone as a dynamometer
of progress. The Tehuelches of South America bathe very often, generally
before dawn: but the men go into the water separately from the women;
they are very modest people who never, in any case, take off their
_chirípas_. And the Japanese, with a civilization a hundred times
superior to that of the Tehuelches, are much inferior to them in the
matter of modesty. The Malaysians are very modest, but the Greeks and
the Romans were none too much so. Without leaving our own race and
times, we have women who would die rather than subject themselves to an
examination with the speculum, while men of great intelligence and lofty
passions admit that they hardly feel a shadow of modesty.

In the higher races, however, if we neglect a few exceptions and take
human groups in great masses, we may say that modesty, like all
psychical phenomena of a high order, grows, refines and presents more
delicate forms proportionately to the growth of the moral and
intellectual importance of a people. The nations which are the most
advanced in civilization and morality are also the most modest. Modesty
is one of the most elect forms of the seductions and the reticences of
love; an extra-current of the great fundamental phenomena of generation;
a physical self-respect; one of the psychical phenomena of the highest
order. Faithful companion of love, it is a sentiment which in superior
natures possesses infinite mysteries, ineffable delicacies, gestures
deserving a virtue prize, glances which are a paradise, words and sighs
which deserve to be immortalized by the pen of an artist. He who
possesses the immodest or semi-modest nature of the Fuegian or the
Japanese loses more than half of the treasures of love, and is like a
man who, deprived of the olfactory sense, admires the flowers of a

Woman is the vestal of modesty, the queen of its most elect forms, and,
when a virgin and as pure as crystal, she possesses intact the entire
treasure of the most exquisite chastity. Wandering through the garden of
love, she loses some of its gems, and she loses more if her companion
helps her to disperse the treasure. It very rarely happens, however,
that a woman, even in the exciting and wearing races of a thousand
loves, loses all the wealth of modesty with which nature has enriched
her. Even in the most gay and libertine life, even in the filth of
libertinism, we see with infinite wonder some diamonds flash, which the
fire of lust was incapable of destroying and the mud of amorous simony
could not soil. We remain astonished and moved at such a power of
resistance in a sentiment that seems so fragile and delicate. And as
long as a corner of sacred earth remains to woman upon which a humble
flower of modesty grows, virtue is not all dead and resurrection is
still possible. Bow your head before this flower, you, jeering deniers
of every feminine virtue! you, insatiable tormentors of lust. Respect
that clod of sacred earth; do not pluck that humble and last flower of a
garden, which you so brutally have stripped of all leaves and reduced to

Modesty is never excessive when it is sincere; it is never too exacting
when it rises spontaneously from the heart of a lofty nature; it is a
sentiment that can inspire only noble things and prepare us for sublime
joys. Modesty has such power that it can elevate ignorance and
simplicity to the highest spheres and encircle with a halo the most
common loves as well as the most exalted; it is possessed of such
esthetic energies as to smother with flowers the most bestial roar of
the most brazen man and hide with an impenetrable veil the most immodest
secrets of the animal man. Without any need of cloth or garments, this
sublime wizard will cover a nude body with a mantle that will make it
invisible and impenetrable to lust. Guardian and priest of love, it
follows it at every step and defends it from the mire and from the fire,
and, causing it to direct its eyes upward, elevates and sanctifies it.
Parsimonious trainer of the forces of love, it preserves them always
fresh and always young; and when the first kiss causes the first virgin
flower to fall from the brow of a woman, modesty brings forth new and
ever virgin flowers before the steps of the two lovers. Texture that
conceals, glass that covers, balsam that stops every putrescence,
modesty is the most powerful preserver of the affections; and, perhaps,
more loves are killed by immodesty than by infidelity.

If the sentiment of modesty were not a great virtue, it would be the
most faithful companion of voluptuousness, the greatest generator of
exquisite joys. An ardent thirst and an inebriating cup! What joy, but
what danger of satiety! Now the cup is full, foaming with lust; the lips
are burning and half open to the most voluptuous kisses of the sweet
liquor; but the cup is held by the hands of modesty, who with the
suavest art satisfies the thirst and renews it, so that the lips
eternally remain half open and thirsty, and in the chalice the liquor
will last forever. Admirable prodigy of an immense wealth, which finds
in itself the sources of renovation and perpetuation; stupendous
spectacle of the most gigantic of forces confided to the hands of a
child who guides and governs it!

We should teach modesty to our children, and above all to our little
girls, as clearly as possible, and refine it, so that it may be all
sincerity and delicacy, and not a conventional hypocrisy.

We may be chastely nude, and we may be cynically immodest with the body
as fully covered as an onion. We teach our young girls to lower their
eyes before the glance of him who seeks and desires them, and then we
take them to the theater, where the ballet-dancers are more than nude
from the waist down and the ladies are nude from the waist up; so that,
adding together the two immodest halves of the two very different
classes of women, we may easily have one woman, all nude and all
immodest. We teach our daughters to conceal even the foot from the eager
eyes of man, and then we trust them to the hands of the dressmaker, that
she may perfect with her sartorial art the too modest curves allotted by
nature, and mould in an alluring way the contours which innocent youth
still left chaste and modest. True Tartufes on a reduced scale, with one
hand we hide our face, while with the other we go on exploring
lasciviousness. As long as this profound hypocrisy continues to
penetrate into the marrow of our modern society, modesty, too, will not
be very sincere or will be able to exercise only the weakest influence
toward elevating and refining our loves; nor do I know whether, with all
the unchaste chastity that forms our distinction, we are entitled to
class ourselves proudly among the modest nations. If it be true that
hypocrisy is a homage paid to virtue, let us wait until the epoch of
transition is past, and we shall then feel that we really are as
virtuous as we pretend to be.



Since, according to the grammar, adjectives may be either masculine or
feminine, it consequently follows that man also can be virgin; but
between his and woman's virginity there is an abyss which we in vain try
to sound. A virgin male is a man who does not know the mysteries of the
embrace; but of this innocence, or of this ignorance, he bears no trace
in his body and often neither in his heart nor in his mind, since vice
with its thousand subterfuges and Nature with her thousand pitfalls may
have made him more impure than a courtesan, although he may boast of
having never violated a vow made to a caste, to a prejudice, or to any
of the many tyrannies of the will. The virgin female, on the contrary,
is an entire world; she is a temple to which peoples from all parts of
the world bear the tribute of their religion, their follies and their
adoration; so that to write its story is to write the greater part of
the ethnography of love. In this book, however, we will confine
ourselves to consider the virgin, just as nature has carved her in the
secrets of the maternal bosom, and as the civilization of our times
sacrifices her on the altars of greed, of love, or of lust.

Nature, in creating the human virgin, has left to the torment of our
meditations one of the most obscure and tremendous problems. It was not
enough that sixteen long years should be required to turn a child into a
woman; not enough that all moral bulwarks which keep us far from the
temple of love should fall only through long and cruel battles; strategy
and tactics of defense, the impenetrable veils of modesty, were deemed
insufficient to push to folly the impatience of desire. All this still
seemed little to avaricious and cruel nature; and when your "yes" is
answered by another "yes," when barricades and bulwarks fall, when the
long coquetry of refusal is wearied and modesty blushingly withdraws to
a corner to relish the delights of an anxiously hoped for
defeat,--there, just there, at the doors of the sacred temple, a
terrible angel with a sword of fire bars the entrance and says to you:
"There is a virgin here!" The rose is near to your lips, closed, it is
true, but beautiful and fragrant as the dawn of spring, all collected in
the chaste involutions of its hundred small leaves; but to impress a
kiss on it, you must let your lips bleed, because _the virgin is the
thorn of a rose_. Profound mystery! There, at that threshold, two
natures widely different, and yet so ardently enamored, have arrived
through a thousand obstacles and a thousand battles: there was their
rendezvous, for them to empty together the cup of voluptuousness; but
there, on that very threshold, they find the angel of sorrow, and
through a wound, through a torture, they must attain joy. Cruel mystery!
The poor creature who shall be a mother and the nurse and vestal of the
temple of the family, the woman who in the long sleepless nights of
adolescence had imagined love as the most fragrant flower, as the
sweetest fruit in the orchards of life, must reach the goal of her
desires through pain, as though nature from the first kiss had reminded
her: "Daughter of Eve, you will love and be a mother with great pain!"
And happy because she belongs to one man, happy because she is possessed
and does possess, she must behold in her bleeding hands the delicate
petals of the first flower which she picked in the garden of

And yet there, among those torn petals, warm with innocent blood, man
has erected a temple where the three most formidable passions of the
human heart receive adoration, and there he has accumulated as many
elements of idolatry, passion, fury, virtue, as his brain could
comprehend. There self-pride, love and the sense of ownership have found
themselves bound together to conspire against human happiness and at the
same time to prepare the most ardent voluptuousness. "Mine!--mine for
the first time!--mine forever!" Three cries, one more formidable than
the other, which love, pride and the sense of ownership utter in unison,
in the apotheosis of delirium and in the quivering of the flesh.

There is a unit for all the series, there is a virgin for all human
things: to be the first means to be vastly different from being the
second. Now, nature wished to consecrate anatomically the first kiss,
the first embrace; to incarnate in a physical fact that tremendous unit
which is called the first love. And civilized man, suspicious, jealous,
avaricious, gives thanks to Nature for having come and borne testimony
to the purity of a woman, and blesses her for having known how to bind a
covenant of faith which no one can ever violate with impunity. The
Longobards used to give the _morgincap_ to the bride immediately after
the first night of matrimony; and this famous gift, the prize of
virginity, often equaled the fourth part of the husband's estate. Some
shrewd spouses (adds the malicious historian) had the good sense of
stipulating beforehand the conditions of a gift which they were too sure
of not deserving. However, although we are not Longobards, we promise to
all our young girls a _morgincap_ to induce them to guard intact, until
the supreme day of the official first love, the sacred will. This
_morgincap_ is a husband; it is the esteem, the veneration, the
adoration of all. With that veil intact, you are a saint, a virgin, an
angel; the goal of all desires; you may entertain the most foolish
ambitions; you may become a queen tomorrow. If that flimsy veil is rent,
you are young, beautiful, perhaps, as pure as you were yesterday, but
you are nothing more than a human female. The temple has been violated,
the idol overthrown, the priests have fled, hurling anathemas and
invoking the vengeance of their god upon the head of the victim. What a
tangle of mysteries and injustices! I really feel as if I were in the
world of exorcism and necromancy!

The poet finds not one, but a thousand theories to explain the virgin.
The thorn beside the rose, the temple guarded by the wings of an angel,
the first voluptuousness consecrated by a first pain, the destinies of
the lives of future beings marked from the first kiss, all spasm and
sweetness; and an infinite mystery which covers with its crepuscules one
of the grandest and most beautiful scenes of the human world: such is
the virgin of the poet.

And the moralist, too, finds in his theological theories a hundred
reasons for the explanation of the virgin. The protection of virtue
consecrated by a material defense, a kind admonition that love will lead
us to a thousand sorrows, a sure guarantee of the honesty of the bride
given to the bridegroom in the most solemn manner, a precious pledge of
future faith, of everlasting domestic happiness,--there is the virgin of
the theologian.

But the naturalist shakes his head and rejects the virgin of the poet
and scoffs at the virgin of the theologian. Every organ must have its
function; every effect must have its cause; every "why" must be answered
by a "because." The virgin is for me an inceptive angel; she is the
first shadow of a future separation of two things which are still
brutally coupled in us: the organs of love and the organs of a bodily
function. The more the living beings elevate themselves, the more they
subdivide their labors; and in a creature higher than we, love will
certainly have a determined and reserved ground. From the "cloaca
maxima" we have arrived at two smaller ones; a step further, and we
shall have three organs and three apparatus; one of the greatest
physical disgraces of our body will be eliminated.

A virgin is a creature who does a great deal more of good than evil, and
very few among the men, if asked to vote for or against her, would
blackball her. I do not know whether all women would vote with us, but I
believe that the best, the most virtuous, the most beautiful, the most
poetical of them would side with us. Open temples are always less sacred
than closed ones, and a mystery and a _sanctum sanctorum_ help to
elevate and revive idolatry. And is not love the greatest of idolatries?

A virgin is ours a thousand times more than any other woman; she must
love us much, or at least she must desire an embrace much, to descend
from the pedestal of the idol and come to us; to descend from the altar
and tread the vulgar ground of earthly life. And the mystery of the
unknown, and the fascination of primitiæ, and of being the first teacher
of the art of love, centuplicate for us the sweet joys of a first
embrace. Even the dreadful trepidation of finding the temple violated
holds us suspended over the abysses of desperation and voluptuousness,
of which, at very short intervals, we sound the somber sorrows, the
ineffable delights. And a woman, too, who knows that she is a virgin
will fathom the immensity of her sacrifice, and if she has the fortune
of finding it equal to the immensity of her affection she feels one of
the greatest ecstasies that can vibrate simultaneously nerves and
thoughts, senses and sentiments. She had already given her heart and all
her affections to her god; today she gives him the seal which attests
the possession of her entire self; and divides with her companion all
that she has, all that she feels, all that she desires. An angel
yesterday, she allows her lover to tear away her wings and becomes again
a woman in order to be a wife, a friend, a mother. Priestess of a
temple, she burns on the altar of love the niveous robe of the vestal
and cries, sobbing with joy and sorrow: "I am thine, all thine! Is there
anything more that I can give thee? Tell me and I will give it to thee.
I have clipped my wings, that thou mayst carry me aloft on the wings of
thy genius; I have burned my temple, that I may live only in the temple
of thy heart; I have forsworn the religion of my dreams, that I may be
nothing but thy companion. Do not deceive me; I was thy virgin, and I
shall be only thy wife. Have an immense love, an immense sympathy for

And yet, we must say it to cause some one who will read these pages to
turn pale with animosity, there are men who dare accept the sacrifice of
the virgin without any right to be priests of love. And there are men
who bite and defile her with the slime of the viper. Miserable, a
hundred times miserable wretches! Amidst tears of shame and humiliation,
may the woman dream of an infinite adultery; may human dignity,
insulted, avenge itself by making the man a cuckold a thousand times;
may the profaned virgin reascend to heaven, hurling anathema at the
sacrilegious profaner of the temple; may the jury of entire humanity
rise with the full majesty of its omnipotence and spit in the face of
the enervated who has dared to ask of heaven an angel and of man a
virgin, and may a horde of sneering demons scourge him, tie him to the
great pillory of ridicule and, in the loudest voice, proclaim him the
most dastardly, the last among men!

The anatomical fact which constitutes virginity has, however, the great
inconvenience of being understood by all, so that the mass of the
people, proud and happy to be able to solve a question of virtue with
the eyes and with the hands, brutally throw upon the most delicate
scales of the world the sword of Brennus. Let philosophers and
sentimentalists prattle at will about purity of heart and the frontiers
of virtue; for the common people there are but virgin women or violated
women; and physics, with its resistances of elasticity, and geometry
with its diameters, solve a problem over which the minds of many
thinkers were hard at work. And from this point of view, a large part of
civilized men are common people, and many who weep through tenderness of
heart and soar very high, stop wondering in the presence of the
brutality of a fact, acknowledge defeat and empoison their own lives,
thinking that the woman whom they have chosen for their companion had
already sacrificed at the altar of love.

Science openly affirms that virginity, even anatomically, has many
varied forms, and may be lacking in women who never felt the breath of
man. In my medical capacity, I have myself seen, with my own eyes, some
little girls who were lacking that seal with which nature seems to
consecrate the virgin; and as I contemplated the little creatures I was
distressed by the thought that, though having kept virtuous and
innocent, virtue would some day be unavailing for them in the presence
of an ignorant and brutal man. In vain these poor girls will some day be
as pure as an angel. And even when anatomy does not practise such an
imposition upon a woman, a fall, a blow, a contortion may, in the most
innocent way, break the fragile seal which for many is the only and
secure guarantee of virtue and purity. Nor is this all. Often, in early
childhood, when vice and libertinism are words unknown in the dictionary
of a little girl, the lascivious jest of a too precocious boy, or the
posthumous lechery of a wretched old man, may violate the palladium of
anatomical virginity without dimming in the slightest degree the mirror
of the heart; and later, when the mysteries of love shall be unveiled,
the still chaste maiden may feel pure and proud of herself and raise her
head high, not knowing that she does not possess the star of physical
purity. How many domestic misfortunes have happened in this way! How
many first nights of love have become infernal nights, and how many ties
have been dissolved by a prejudice, a suspicion, a calumny, when they
should have been a garland of the purest and most sublime joys!

How many existences have been cruelly empoisoned through the elasticity
of a veil more fleeting than the cloudlet that dissolves under the first
rays of the sun!

And all of you, jurors of feminine honesty, who with so much assurance
and brutality pass your judgment upon hearts and virginity, have you
ever thought of the thousand and one aggressions which a young,
beautiful and courted woman must pass through, and that, before becoming
a bride, she must struggle with her own ignorance and others' lechery,
with the surprises of the senses and with the cunning artifices of lust?
A moment of weakness, an instant of morbid curiosity, may dim but not
stain the virtue of a woman who can be, before and after, as pure as
rock-crystal. No; virginity is a great thing, it is the largest diamond
in the crown of youthful virtue; but it is not all the woman, it is not
all the virtue.

How many wretched women were never pure except in the maternal womb, and
yet with studied lasciviousness and infinite art preserved intact the
physical seal of virtue, through the lechery of a hundred lovers, and,
full of profound wisdom and prudent libertinage and weary of carnal
lust, carried their virginity to the altar of the official first love!
Beautiful treasure, indeed! A diamond fallen a hundred times into the
mud and a hundred times picked up and washed! Beautiful gem! A piece of
flesh preserved pure in a prostituted body; a flower grown on a clod of
earth in the midst of a fetid marsh! And men often picked that flower
with sacred devotion and kissed it and adored it, perhaps after having
hurled an insult at the pure and virtuous girl who lacked only a seal,
like a registered letter refused by the post-office clerk because it
lacked a drop of sealing-wax. How often have I wept in wrath, listening
to mothers teaching their daughters this one dogma of virtue: "Preserve
physical virginity!" How often have I cursed modern morals which teach
the bride: "Above all, no scandal!" These, then, are the morals of this
hypocritical century: "Virgin first, prudent afterward." There is the
virtue of woman! An eye on the seal first, an eye to the keyhole later
on: such is the perfect woman of our times!

The excessive, brutal and bestial importance given to virginity by
modern society has created the infamous art of manufacturing virgins;
and many times virginity has had two, five, ten different editions, not
all improved, but always correct and revised, while the idiotic mass of
husbands and lovers have been tricked into applauding the new virtue,
the purest virtue, heaven knows how acquired!

The debasement of this hypocritical time could not be more cynically
avenged. Of the virtue of a woman you have an idea utterly physical and
chemical. Now, this advanced civilization is all at your service; it
manufactures a chemical and physical virginity for your convenience, and
calls to its aid some acrobatism, hocus-pocus and natural magic. _Mundus
vult decipi, ergo decipiatur._ Curse, then, the pure and holy woman
whose heart is virgin, who never has loved, but to whom the Longobards
could never have awarded the prize of the _morgincap_!

Virginity exists; it exists in the physical nature of the human female,
it exists in the sanctuary of civil morals, but it does not begin and
end with an anatomical condition: it is also virtue. The anatomical fact
must be accompanied by the moral fact; with the purity of which the
senses are the judges, we want purity of heart, the adamantine
transparency of character. The human virgin, the virgin of the civilized
man, is not the virgin of the savage, an oyster that can be opened only
with a knife. She is a creature whom no social mud has ever soiled; she
is a woman who was loved, perhaps, and desired by many, but who never
belonged to any man. She knows no lasciviousness, no art of hiding vice
under a shining varnish of virtue; she blushes at an impure word, at a
too ardent gesture, at an impertinent pressure of the hand. The virgin
knows that she is all intact, because she, too, has had longings and
desires, but has never given her heart to any man; she knows that she is
pure, because no profane hand has ever penetrated into the sanctuary of
her purity. She has not opened any part of her robe, any fissure of her
heart, any tabernacle of her treasures. She is white as the snow of the
Alps, on which no foot of marten and no wing of insect have ever rested;
she is pure as the water which spouts from the granite in a cave never
explored by human foot; she knows everything, or is ignorant of
everything, but she blushes for wisdom as well as for ignorance, if only
her heart pulsates faster at the sight of a man. She is a virgin because
she is modest; she is modest because she is a virgin; she is a virgin
and modest because she is a woman.

And you, mothers, who were virgins, when you teach your daughters what a
treasure virginal purity is, give them, together with a lesson of
anatomy and physiology, which perhaps they need, a lesson of high
morals. Tell them that to the man they love they should give everything;
to the man they do not love, nothing; tell them that a woman can be
physically a virgin and a prostitute morally; tell them that to the
first kiss they owe all their treasures untouched, not one gem only, and
that the future of their love will depend on the preservation of the
centuple virginity enclosed in the one virgin as the masses conceive
her. If nature, with a sad mystery, has prescribed that woman should
love her first love with much pain, it is incumbent on us to crown the
virgin with so many flowers of virtue, to scent her with so many
perfumes of grace, as to turn a martyr into a happy spouse. It is our
task to elevate the physical virgin to a very high region of purity and
grandeur, so that she may appear to us like an angel of Beato Angelico,
all illumined by the iridescent light of the rainbow, where, amidst
tears of a first defeat, should shine the light of the sun of love; and
that after the hurricane of conquest there may be announced the bright
calm of a day all beauty and delight. The Christian religion, in
offering to man a virgin-mother to worship, wished, perhaps, to
consecrate the purity of the virgin with the affections of the bride; to
create an ideal of perfection in which the two chief virtues of woman
should shine; to suggest, perhaps, that one can be a virgin and a
mother, as another can be a virgin and a courtesan. That this ideal
creature has been a sublime creation of the human mind, and not a riddle
or a myth, will be clearly proved by the influence which she has
exercised upon Christian art, by gazing at the Madonnas of Raphael, of
Murillo and of Correggio.



If man elevates his loves to the highest spheres of the ideal; if he can
be called the most sublime lover on the terrestrial planet, he can boast
of having had from nature the largest cup at the banquet of
voluptuousness; he can also boast of being able, alone among the living
creatures, to die of pleasure and to end his life with lasciviousness.
Certainly, a tremendous thing is the embrace of a man and a woman who
love each other! So tremendous that, before this hurricane of the
senses, the painter lets the brush fall from his hand, the physiologist
loses the thread of analysis, and the philosopher is bewildered by the
ferocious grandeur and the brutish sublimity of that act, in which every
human force seems to be offered as a holocaust to animal fecundation.
The avowed or secret aim of every love, the dream of every virgin and
rage of every lust, the torment and delight of every man, voluptuousness
is the greatest pleasure of the senses; but it is also the deepest abyss
into which vulgar loves fall at every step, and where the great ones too
are submerged. Voluptuousness! Tremendous word that recalls the most
ardent scene of life and the greatest chaos, which concentrates wherever
an organism is born or destroyed; formless chaos, from which flashes
radiate and where elements quiver and earthquakes rumble and thunder;
chaos in which good and evil are so near as to mingle, confuse and melt
together; chaos in which angel and brute join in close embrace, and
human individuality vanishes for a moment to give way to a fantastic
monster, half man and half woman, half god and half demon; chaos from
which a man is born, just as from another chaos arose the cry that
generated light. I open the book of human deeds and read:

     "In Sardinia the San Luri belle killed with her exuberance of
     carnality the young King Martin II. of Sicily, of the House of
     Aragon, him who gave the last blow to the independence of Sardinia,
     subjecting to his dynasty that part of the island which was still
     free. In 1409 he had gained a splendid victory over Brancaleone
     Doria and the Viscount of Narbonne, when he himself was defeated in
     turn by the belle of San Luri, who, modern Judith, killed the
     Aragonese king with the fury of her kisses." ("La Marmora,
     Itinerario in Sardegna," etc., p. 270.)

     "The Empress Theodora was the source of such exquisite delight that
     it was said that painting and poetry were incapable of delineating
     the matchless excellence of her form. The satirical historian has
     not blushed to describe the naked scenes which Theodora was not
     ashamed to exhibit in the theatre. After the mention of a narrow
     girdle, which she wore, as none could appear stark naked in the
     theatre, Procopius adds: [Greek: anapeptôkuia]. After exhausting
     the arts of sensual pleasure, she most ungratefully murmured
     against the parsimony of nature, wishing a _fourth altar_, on which
     she might pour libations to the god of love. After having been
     possessed by everybody, she seduced Justinian, who made her his
     wife and called her _a gift of the Deity_." (Gibbon, "Decline and
     Fall of the Roman Empire.")

     "The old age of David was warmed by the young Shunammite, and
     Hermippus lived to be one hundred and five years old, sustained by
     the spirit of many young women." (Bible.)

These few examples will be sufficient to delineate in a general way the
frontiers within which human voluptuousness struggles, an insatiable
author of so much good and so much evil. And yet, in the eyes of
science it is nothing but "the most powerful of chemical affinities
comprehended by the most perfect of living brains." Prepared in the slow
laboratory of a man and a woman, the gemmulæ of life intensely seek each
other and are reciprocally attracted; and when love gathers them by
millions and millions, they kiss and join and, quivering, restore one of
the most prodigious equilibriums of nature and generate a man.

If it is true that at every second a leaf detaches itself and falls from
the human tree, it is most true that in the same unit of time ten
existences at least are fused in order to relight the torch of life; and
if all the gigantic forces which are condensed in those aggregations
could be summed up, they would certainly be sufficient to send the world
through infinite space without the aid of the laws of Newton. In the hut
of the savage and in the gilded halls of the prince, on the soft
cushions of new-mown hay and on the glaciers of the Sorata; on the swift
train and on two camels crossing the desert, within the damp walls of
the prison and in the deep mines where the rays of the sun never
penetrate, in the forest and on the sands of the sea-shore, wherever a
man and a woman find themselves near and can desire each other,
voluptuousness wreathes its garlands and says to the man and the woman:
"Be gods for an instant!"

There is no love without voluptuousness, but voluptuousness alone is not
love, as that is not love which is ridiculously termed platonic. Lust
and platonic love are maladies or monsters of love and are possible,
nay, even too prevalent, like the deaf-mutes, the lame, the deformed,
the giants and the dwarfs.

There is no conquest without possession of the thing conquered, just as
there can be no love without voluptuousness. Take the flower from the
tree, the fruit from the flower, and you will have a faithful image of
all those amorous reticences which hypocritically stop at the threshold
of the temple and, incapable alike of chastity and courage, of vice and
virtue, drag a wretched existence in the limbo of bastardly affections.
Often duty must be stronger than love, and, the principles of honesty
forbidding, love must be conquered with a cruel and incredible torture;
but it is better to be heroes of duty than brigands acquitted for lack
of proofs, often despised, despicable always. If you truly love, if you
can love, then love in the name of the most powerful of the gods of
Olympus, love in the name of nature, in the name of the most sacred of
rights. Leave aside all amorous casuistry, the worst of human
hypocrisies; leave aside the hope of winning with your reticences and
your compromises with conscience the Goliath of the sentiments. How many
have I beheld, after long sentimental tirades on platonic love, and
after bitter tears and vows of virtue, sink from hypocrisy into
hypocrisy and down to lasciviousness! How many guilty lovers did not
wish sin and had vice, did not wish guilt and had prostitution! All or
nothing: such is love's command. Break down the tree that you cannot
cultivate, be everything to somebody; demand to be everything to your
companion; do not try to divide the indivisible; do not attempt to
overthrow the omnipotent, to win over the invincible. With love you
cannot jest; any compromise is impossible.

Voluptuousness, even in its purest and simplest forms, without love is
always lasciviousness; it is immoral even when it seems hygienic. With
love, even lust is virtue; and the studied casuistry of theologians is
more immodest than the most ardent kiss ever exchanged between two
lovers educated by a long experience of embraces. Voluptuousness is as
penetrating as light, as inexhaustible as the sun, and, enclosed between
two infinities, one of desire and the other of languor, it will never be
all known by the human family, were it to live for millions of
centuries. All forms of the beautiful are conquered by the blandishments
of art; all forms of virtue are the delight of the sentiment of the
good; every great and true idea is the joy of our thought; but
voluptuousness relishes simultaneously all the joys of the senses, of
sentiment and of intellect, calms all morbosities, extinguishes all
fires, intoxicates itself with all inebriations, high and low, with all
languors, all human flashes. Voluptuousness is a light which gilds
every object it strikes and encircles it with a halo of celestial
iridescence. Nor is the embrace of love alone voluptuous; for
voluptuousness is in every contact of quivering robes, of glossy hair;
voluptuousness is in every quiver of the skin, in every shock of the
nerves, in every kiss of the flesh. Unfortunate he who has tasted
voluptuousness only out of the one cup of Venus! Let him take lessons of
woman, wisest teacher of every exquisite and sublime sensuality. A
Boeotian in art, let him go to Athens and study the beautiful. There is
no worse enemy of voluptuousness than lust, no sister more faithful than
chastity. If the poet, the painter, the sculptor could conceive this
divine group, "the joy of Love guided by the hand of Chastity," that
representation, whether due to pen, brush or chisel, would be as holy a
thing as an altar, a lesson in virtue and a great work of art; fire
enclosed in alabaster, the sun abducted by the wave, enamored and
jealous; Hercules led by a child!

Lovers who love and possess each other, lovers whom voluptuousness
inebriates every hour, if you still have an instant to devote to
prudence, remember that voluptuousness should not be the bread but the
wine of love; that if you wish that your lips be eternally thirsty, your
voluptuousness must be chaste and modest; you must swim, but not drown;
you must quiver, but not fall into convulsions; you must be in the grasp
of death, but not dead. Modest voluptuousness, this priceless treasure,
was given by nature to woman, that she may restore it to you with
unbounded joys; and you should respect it as a palladium of domestic
happiness and nurture it in your daughters, because verily I say unto
you that in modern society there is often more pudicity in the lowest of
courtesans than in some married women whose nuptial education has been
imparted by an aged and libertine husband.



The man who, through fault of the trees he sprang from or through his
own, lives on the bestial frontiers of the human kingdom, is like the
brute for which love is a desire that rises, is satisfied and falls
asleep. If his affection for woman is not a passion of spring or autumn,
it is always an erotic and intermittent love which dies every time a
need is satisfied and revives with every renewed desire. The stimulus of
the flesh announces in him the dawning of sentiment, and the obesity of
the flesh puts an end to the passion of love. The new desire may have
the same person or another as its object: this is for him a secondary
and merely accidental question, and, according to the manner in which
circumstances force him to solve it, he will be a monogamist or a
polygamist, a virtuous man through habit or a libertine through caprice.
Oftener than it seems this is the way in which many dark-skinned nations
love, as well as many white-skinned men, who nevertheless believe that
they faithfully love one woman at a time. The history of their love is a
necklace of Venetian beads, to which a new bead is added for every
desire satisfied; and if the hues of the glass corpuscles are not too
diverse, one may have before his eyes a pretty ornament that may spangle
the neck of a decent virtue and an honest passion. Between the desire
that dies and another that is born, you can set a gentle remembrance of
gratitude for the pleasure enjoyed, a sweet hope of a greater joy for
the future; and the garland of your passion will then acquire greater
beauty and new flowers and perhaps stimulate a true and great love. The
most sublime heights of sentiment, the summits of thought, are reached
by few; while hundreds and hundreds of lowly sheep ruminate on the
plains, where thousands and thousands of bees are buzzing, and millions
and millions of ants are swarming. Upon the sapphire summits of the Alps
two lone eagles represent the world of the living.

Love, although a most powerful affection, always follows the laws of
elementary physics, which govern all the energies accumulated in our
nervous centers and which we call sentiments. As long as passion remains
in a condition of desire, that is to say, as long as force is potential
and is not turned into a product, energy lasts and sentiment lives,
vigorous and ardent. All the art of preserving love is, therefore,
reduced to this alone: to preserve desire and to cause it to spring up
again almost immediately after it is spent. And as even love, with all
its omnipotence, cannot evade the physical laws, and every spark that
springs forth must always be followed by a period of repose, it is
indispensable to act in such a way that while a part of the force is
transformed into labor, another be accumulated, preparing a new spark in
such a short time that it should be nearly impossible to perceive any
interval between the two sparks. To transform the intermittent electric
current into a continuous one constitutes the great secret of
protracting the existence of love.

As long as desire is not satisfied, and the struggle has not become a
conquest, love is not only preserved but increased; and not in vain does
woman provide for her happiness in asking for time and prolonging the
battle. A love must be either very weak or very brutal if it withdraws
from the struggle before victory; and as it happens very seldom that a
woman yields everything at once, the small and great favors which from
time to time she concedes to the conqueror mark a continual renewal of
ever ardent desires and a continuous revivification of love. Finally,
sooner or later, the day of the wished-for victory arrives, and one
embrace makes two lives one, melts in a single crucible two volcanic
rocks and two feelings of voluptuousness. However, even when love is so
base as to be only a thirst for pleasure, it seldom dies with the first
embrace. And who can say that he has possessed a woman entirely in one
night of love? Human charms are such and so many, and our esthetic
needs so exquisite and ardent, that even the acquisition of
voluptuousness alone is, fortunately, very slow, and in the sweet
occupation of new provinces love is preserved or revivified. The various
treasures of beauty and sensuality of two lovers, the art of loving, so
neglected even after Ovidius' times, mark the limit of duration of those
loves that derive their energies only from the worship of form or from
the ardor of voluptuousness; and if in some cases that duration is
long-lasting, it never is infinite. The hour comes when, alas! the wing
of time smites the fresh cheeks of youth, and the northern winds wrinkle
them, and the storm scatters over the ground the rosy petals of human
beauty; the hour comes when the cup of lust no longer contains a drop of
nectar, and then, if nothing is left, love is dying, and no miracle in
the world can save it from a certain death. The energy of passion had
its only source in voluptuousness and beauty; one has vanished, the
other one is withered and the strength is spent. No force in the world
is produced without the transmutation of matter; no energy is increased
without transformations of equilibrium and decompositions of affinities.
If man and woman do not revive an affinity of sympathy, no combination
can take place; no light, no heat can spring forth from their contact.
Let them sing the psalms of death and together bury the remains of a
love which, kept alive by voluptuousness alone, was inexorably to perish
with it.

This is the most general way in which vulgar loves die, and the duration
of their life can be calculated with fair precision by weighing the
beauty of the two lovers, their youth, their lust, their art of loving.
Those loves may last an hour, a day, a month, a year, ten years; they
may, in rare cases, last for the entire period of human youth. Men, and
especially women, do not fall without a struggle under the blows of
time, and with incredible art repair the ravages of age; and not only
are forms daily adulterated, denatured and counterfeited, but into the
cup of love, as well, spices and drugs and philters are poured, that the
silent hunger may receive the stimulus of an artificial appetite, and
soft blandishments and morbid temptations of the flesh substitute the
ardor and impetus of passion. Long lasts the battle before defeat is
acknowledged and love changes its nature but still lives. It was a
volcano, it is now a Bengal light; it was as nude and chaste as an
Uranian Venus, it is now as clothed and immodest as a courtesan; it was
love of every hour, it is now periodical, intermittent, like the tertian
or the quartan; it impunely defied the rays of the sun at midday, it now
prefers the twilight; but, when all is said, in spite of so much
reticence and so much tinkering, it is still and always love. Women, you
who behold with horror the gradual extinction of that fire which for so
many years has warmed your enamored members, if you were happy through
beauty alone, remember that that fire will be extinguished with the
withering of the last attraction of your body; and when the heartrending
cry which invokes the stimulus of a desire will not be answered, prepare
for the funeral psalmody. As long as you can, with the galvanism of
lust, arouse a desire in the flaccid flesh of your lover, love will not
be dead. You see, then, to what a low level the art of preserving love
has sunk, when love has its origin only in the desire of bodily form: it
sinks to a question of hygiene; I would nearly say, it transforms itself
into a problem of taxidermy and preservation by chemical process! It is
necessary to study the antiseptic virtue of deliberate refusals and
libertine reticence; to submit lust to a chemical research and fatigue
to a physiological investigation; to meditate upon the economy of
energies and visit the pharmacy for the purpose of discovering the
aphrodisiacal virtues of the various silken fabrics, of the various
smiles, and of the sensual movements of the body. To these basest
studies we have lowered the woman who would so gladly have wished to
soar aloft with us through the numberless spheres of the beautiful and
not only embrace the world of exterior forms, but also the infinite
worlds of sentiment and thought.

You will tell me, perhaps, that I aspire to an ideal love, impossible,
therefore, to reach; you will tell me that a man with a good
constitution can be handsome for forty years of his life, and that
woman, too, is entitled to thirty years of beauty and ten more years of
gracefulness; so that a love which should last but these thirty or forty
years would still be a most beautiful and most enviable thing. A spring
and a summer of forty years, ending with a mild autumn, in which a sweet
remembrance, a suave reciprocal gratitude, and an intimate friendship
prepare the last twilight of old age, may seem to us a worthy triumph of
a long and splendid life of love. And I am with you if you mean the
common loves of the common people; but we must have a high, a very high
aim, and we all should desire a love lasting as long as life and which
shall be buried alone in its grave. And then every healthy man can offer
to woman the thyrsus of love, and every healthy woman can offer the cup
of voluptuousness to man; but how many men are handsome, how many women
can be called beautiful? Perhaps not ten in a hundred; and all the
others who in various degrees are removed from the type of perfection of
form, shall they not love, can they not be loved? Certainly.

In man, rich in so many physical elements, the beautiful does not end
with the exterior form, nor should love spring from the source of
voluptuousness alone. No deformity, no disease in him who would
procreate men: this is hygiene; but the hundred forms of moral and
intellectual beauty, relieved only by a soft shade of sex, can and
should awaken ardent and tenacious passions that do not vanish with the
sun of youth. Thus, while love can dispense its delights to every man
and every woman, perfect love should be born of the contemplation and
adoration of every type of beauty; and when that of the form begins to
fade, let moral beauty shine in all its power, and, later still, let the
beauty of thought appear to us in all its brilliant majesty, so that
while one star disappears, another twinkles, and from the slumbering
desires of the senses we feel a stronger yearning awaken, the yearning
for possessing the treasures of sentiment and thought of a creature who
is all ours, and whom, if we suddenly loved her for the beauty of form,
we now love and will continue to love for her beauty of kindness,
culture, ideas, and everything that a human being can boast of beauty
and greatness. Even character and thought have a profoundly sexual type,
and feminine kindness can be adored by us, just as virile courage is
admired by the sweet and tender nature of woman. When we have loved in a
woman not only the beautiful female, but a whole nature imbued with all
the beauties and graces of the human Eve, the longest life will not
suffice to satisfy our desires of possession, and at the last hour of
extreme old age we have still some new conquest to make, and some desire
is reawakened, while the accumulation of most sweet memories fills the
void which youth, by fleeing, has left behind itself. Sublime triumph of
human nature, in which love survives the senses exhausted,
voluptuousness which is mute, the beauty of forms which is buried, while
a warm ray of light shines on the silvery heads of two old beings who
still love each other because they still desire each other and because
heart and mind unite in an embrace, sexual by origin, but ideal for the
heights attained. Our study on love in old age will complete this
picture, certainly one of the most beautiful and seductive in the great
museum of love: a picture which we should all desire to represent in the
late years of our life.

When the sources of love are many, while one dries up another swells so
that love never lacks a flow of water to quench its insatiable thirst.
All passions follow in their movements a parabolic line, and those that
have risen the highest descend the most rapidly; hence the weariness so
close to strength; the tediousness that follows enthusiasm; the thousand
dangers of the death of sentiment. More than any other passion, love
presents these phenomena and dangers, and it is impossible for all to
make voluptuousness, ecstasy and apotheosis last beyond a very short
flash of a few instants. Intermittence is one of the most inexorable
laws of the nervous system, and he who would increase enthusiasm and

     "Only breathe the life of kisses and of sighs,"

dies consumed by his own fire, and, what is worse, before dying,
beholds love dead at his feet. We cannot rebel against the laws of
nature, nor can we subjugate them; but it is conceded to us to direct
them to our advantage. And thus it is in our case. Between ecstasy and
ecstasy we can sow joy and suppress tediousness; between voluptuousness
and voluptuousness we can suppress weariness and pick the flowers of
sentiment, and from too ardent and sensual contemplations we can repair
to the cool temple of thought to meditate and remember together. This is
perfect love, this is ideal love, which keeps pure, unaltered, brilliant
as a diamond in the tormented sand of a river. A few reach it; many,
however, can approach it, and for human happiness and human greatness it
is enough to see it even from afar, like the promised land, which, as
the poet says, "is always beyond the mountain."

The man who brutally opposes the holy and noble aspirations of woman for
a higher participation in mental work signs his own sentence; and when
he cynically sends her back to the bed or to nursing cares, he resigns
himself to knowing only the coarsest and most brutish part of the joys
of love. You may be the strongest male and the wisest libertine; but
Venus herself, descended from the heaven of the ideal, would tire you,
and for you, too, would arrive the hour of dislike; then you would curse
the vanity of love and execrate life, reciting the litany of
lamentations and disappointments which, from Adam down, has been
repeated by all those who know not how to love and are bestially
ignorant of the laws of the economy of strength. We must elevate woman
more and more in order not only to fulfil an act of justice but also to
enlarge the field of our joys and increase the value of our
voluptuousness. A great step has been made in this direction, by
transforming the _female_ of the polygamous gyneceum into the mother of
a family; but this new "freedman" of modern civilization is merely
tolerated, not considered equal to us, like an orphan taken from the
street and living with the members of a family but not forming an
integral part of it. If the _concubine_ has become a _mother_, a great
step still remains to be made in order that she may become a woman, or,
to put it in a better way, become a _female-man_, a most noble and
delicate creature, who shall think and feel as we do and think and feel
in a _feminine way_, thus completing in us the aspect of things, of
which we see only a part, and bringing to us, in the meditations and
struggles of life, that precious element which only the daughter of Eve
can give us. If from woman you want nothing but the joys of love, then
sow sentiments and ideas in her. She is like the bee that changes sugar
and nectar and the fluid of every flower into honey: make her wise, and
wisdom will be transformed into caresses; make her strong, and she will
use her strength to enrich you; make her great, and she will place her
greatness at your feet for a kiss. Fear not; she will never place her
foot upon the neck of man, because she loves him too much, and because,
to become a tyrant, she would be compelled to amputate the better part
of herself, abdicating her omnipotence.

Where man and woman are bound together by the three natures of sense,
sentiment and thought, love is easily preserved by its own nature and
without any need of artifice. Some fortunate individuals ask with
astonishment why their love should ever cease; and love lives in them,
warm, tenacious, invincible, and only with death is extinguished,
instantaneously, like the porcelain bowl, very old but always new, which
falls from the hands of the inexperienced servant and perishes as it was
created, beautiful and brilliant.

It is not so when voluptuousness is all, or nearly all, of love; then
the easiest way to preserve it is to keep always some drops of desire in
the cup of love, so that, between embrace and embrace, voluptuousness is
never quite extinguished, giving a deeply sexual character to the common
relations of habits, conversations and family intercourses. This is an
indirect but sure advantage, ever produced by chastity between two
creatures that love each other without having the fortune to participate
in any treasures beyond those of the senses. It is opportune to remember
that every virtue is the fruitful mother of other virtues.

The preservation of love is one of the most sacred rights or duties
incumbent upon woman, although we cannot refuse with impunity to take an
active part in this mission. We, however, are too light-minded, too
polygamous, too exacting in our sudden desires to find prudence and
economy of love easy virtues for us. To see all, to touch all, to want
all and at once: such is the childish appearance of many virile loves.
Woman loves more than we, but she foresees, presurmises, fears. In love,
too, she is a good provider, and, while she picks the flower for the joy
of today, knows how to preserve the fruit for the dreary winter. Woe to
her, if she joins in the thoughtlessness of her prodigal companion! They
will make together a splendid bonfire of their affections, of their
voluptuousness, renewing, alas! too soon, the thousandth edition of the
story of the grasshopper and the ant.

If the women who will read my book should learn nothing but this one
thing, I would believe that they have had a just compensation for the
tediousness which they may have experienced; and I shall be happy for
not having written in vain to promote the welfare of the dearer part of
the human family. With the right given to me by a long and troublesome
experience, by a deep, untired study of the human heart, I pray and
entreat and conjure them to close with their white little hands and
their rosy lips the lips of the man who too ardently begs their love.
Let them say "no" and "no" again, and bury the "yes" of the friend under
a shower of flowers, reserving the desire for other supplications and
other battles. Every sacrifice will be compensated a hundredfold, and
for a caress denied today, they will receive ten tomorrow. Woman is an
old teacher of sacrifice, and let her use this practical wisdom in
preserving love, which is the air she breathes, the blood which gives
life to her, love which is her dearest treasure. Never should she say
"yes" before having said "no" at least once; if she truly loves the
prodigal friend, she should save for the days of famine the crumbs which
now fall from his hands and which today he despises; let her be the
stewardess of love as she already is that of the household; let man
fecundate and woman preserve; let him conquer and let her keep the

If genital chastity is the virtue which, better than any other,
preserves vulgar loves, a certain chastity of sentiment and thought, a
certain reserve of manner and forms are also indispensable if sublime
loves are to last. The man must never see his wife nude, nor should the
woman ever behold her companion nude before her; veils and mists, leaves
and flowers must shade the man and woman in sense, sentiment and
intellect. The infinite is the only thing that man never tires of
loving, contemplating, studying, just because it is neither weighed nor
measured. And so it is in love: the beautiful, the true, the good of the
creature whom we love must be infinite, because they must not be seen,
weighed or measured by us. A sun that passes from the crepuscule of the
morning to the evening twilight and never entirely reveals itself: such
is eternal and immutable love, that fears no frost of winter or
hurricanes of summer; that dies standing like the ancient heroes.

Study the fortunate men who are not only capable of arousing, but also
of preserving great passions, and you will behold in them all those
exalted virtues which may be grouped under the name of _crepuscular
politics_. A beauty that has more grace than splendor, more seduction
than heat; a flexibility that retains strength; an authority that can be
made to smile, and a nature that is smiling rather than laughing; a deep
and tender kindness, and a genius that has more spirit than grandeur:
such are the great preservative powers of love. Grace more than beauty
preserves love, because it has more crepuscular hues; sympathetic
natures more than beautiful ones preserve love, kind natures more than
grand ones, wit more than genius. There are men and women who at first
sight do not make any great impression, but on every hair of their head
they seem to have a hook and in every pore of the skin a leech, so that
no sooner have you come into intimate contact with them than you find
yourself seized by a thousand grapnels and absorbed by a thousand
cupping-glasses, as though a gigantic polyp had seized you in the
absorbing coils of its manifold tentacles.

Love is dead without possibility of resurrection when, unlike all living
things, there is no galvanism to awaken the slumbering nerves, no wave
of blood to rouse the heart. But love also has swoons and syncopes and,
like the rotifer, may die provisorily and desiccate, awaiting a
beneficial rain to restore it to life. Whoever denies this virtue in
love, then believes that love is baser than the rotifer and has never
known the most elementary physiology of life and affection. There is for
love, as for any other organism, a real death and an apparent one; the
former is inexorable, the latter curable, like any other malady, by
having recourse to skill and knowledge.

How often has a love apparently dead resuscitated as live as ever,
probably more alive than before; and this, heralded as a miracle, is one
of the usual mysteries of the heart, for life was not extinguished, but
only latent, as no dead, really and truly dead, with the exception of
Lazarus, has ever been seen to rise again. A nerve was still sensitive,
a desire could still be resuscitated, and the apparently dead comes to
life again. Physicians remark that apparent death is much more frequent
in cases of hysteria, catalepsy and in all forms of neurosis; it is then
natural that many loves, alive but believed to be dead, have been
interred through a most cruel mistake, since an organism more nervous,
more cataleptic and more hysterical than love is difficult to find in
the entire world of the living. In our case, however, the burial is less
dangerous, because love itself opens every coffin, every grave,
overturns every clod and appears to you saying: "Do not weep; here I

Very rarely does love die a violent death, and cases called by that name
are wounds, ruptures, syncopes and nothing more. Real death occurs
through senility and after long illness. Duty frequently commands not to
love him or her who suddenly has seemed base and infamous to us; but
love, sentenced to death, weeps, despairs, but does not want to die.
Sent back to prison, without light, without food, it defies hunger,
darkness, cold, but does not die. The public, perhaps, believes that it
has disappeared from the face of the earth, as has happened with
illustrious prisoners plunged into the stillness of a castle; but love
lives in those depths and groans, convulsed by a prolonged agony, until
at last, with him who feels it, it dies a merciful death.

If the appearance of a new creature on the path of life seems to kill
love violently, it is because it was not true love; and if it really
were such, the battle will be relentless and long, and the Prince of
Affections will die, as in other cases, a lingering death. When we shall
once and forever have ceased to call love that which is the desire of
the flesh and the pride of possession, that sentiment will appear to us
as a much more beautiful thing, greater and more honorable than is
ordinarily supposed; many miracles will at last be explained as very
simple physical phenomena, and many obscure mysteries will be exposed to

To cause love to gush forth from the rock of indifference is a
fascinating prodigy; to rouse it from its slumber is a desirable power;
to sow the path of our life with love and desires may be the splendid
pride of every living creature; but to cherish the conquered love, to
preserve it pure and bright, to bring it impunely through the cyclones
of life, the fogs of November and the frost of December, to guide it,
healthy and robust, from the spring of youth to the border of the grave
that it may die, like the Mexican victim, amid choruses of admiration
and adorned with flowers of eternal freshness, is one of the highest
ambitions to which we can aspire. It is as beautiful a thing as to
create a work of art; it is as useful an achievement as to become rich;
it is as great a feat as to reach glory. It is said by many that the
most natural way for love to die is to transform itself into friendship;
but several times already I have made clear to the reader what I think
of sexual friendships. Perhaps, in some very rare cases, neither of the
two lovers remembers that the beloved one belongs to the other sex: but
how can the loves of the entire past be forgotten? How can we suddenly
obliterate the ardent remembrances of the many years of love? If for a
dead love the sweet custom of friendly visit can be substituted, if a
man and a woman can forget that they are man and woman, what name will
this new and singular affection deserve? Perhaps that of automatic
habit; and I will send this psychical phenomenon back to the laboratory
of the physiologist, that he may study it together with the unconscious
and reflected motions.



Whenever I see a flower that opens and shows its cheerful petals on the
border of an abyss, the same thought ever recurs to my mind: there is
love, which always seems to live between two infinities, height and
depth. While its aspirations carry it aloft, while it seems to ask of
heaven space and light, it projects its roots into the most intricate
mazes of the rocks, into the most somber mysteries of the abyss. Star
that glitters in the infinity of the ideal, root that dissolves the
stones in the infinity of depth, it reaches all altitudes and all
profundities, is the most human of passions and always placed among the
divine passions; it is inmost in us and the most ethereal. Thought on
the summit of a mountain, strength in the valley below, it guides the
poet when he ascends to paradise, accompanies man when he plunges into
the hot sea of sensuality; virgin and father in heaven, lover and spouse
on earth. If to live means to exist in the most beautiful form of life,
then love is richness, luxury, splendor of life; love is whatever is
divine in human beings.

No one will ever be able to say where love penetrates when it lifts the
bottom of human nature, where pearls and corals are intermixed with mud.
It is a diver that brings to light strange and unknown things and
reveals to the astonished eye of the observer new things never before
conceived; it is the most daring and the most fortunate of excavators.
How many simple natures of young girls, how many vulgar talents of men
are perturbed, agitated and renovated by the contact of the new god, who
seems to evoke from the abysses all silent passions, all dormant ideas,
all the phantoms of heart and thought! The deep simmering of psychical
elements at the contact with love almost always announces the birth of a
second moral nature and, revivifying life, marks a new era in it. Of our
birth we are always ignorant, and of our death almost always
unconscious; between the "to be" and the "not to be" only one third and
great thing is possible--"to love." While the common people judge from
the hair on the face and from the deepened voice that a boy has become a
man, a tremendous profound earthquake warns him that he must love, that
he already loves; and while mothers behold with affectionate trepidation
the rounding of their daughters' form to womanhood, another profound
earthquake warns the girl that she must love, that she already loves.

In the loving season many animals change color and shape, adorn
themselves with new feathers, or arm themselves with new weapons; with
the nuptial robe they assume different habits and singular abilities;
mutes, they become clever singers; obtuse, they are transformed into
skilled architects; granivorous, they become carnivorous; if the earth
is their habitat, they become winged messengers of the skies; if
caterpillars, they are metamorphosed into butterflies. So it is with
man, although such transmutation hardly affects his epidermis, but sinks
into the veins and the meanders of his physical nature. The phase of
puberty deserves to be dealt with separately; it will suffice here to
remark that every force redoubles, every vigor refines, and while, with
our growing to manhood, forces and energies prepare and grow, love calls
forces and energies into action. Puberty declares us in a state of war;
love calls us to the battle. Defenseless if we have not reached puberty,
we are armed if we have reached it; armed and combative if we have
reached it and are in love.

Not all human forces are good, not all the resources of mind are
beneficial to the good, and, therefore, love calls into action bad
elements as well, which had not been seen before. For the first time,
from the deep abysses of the moral man, specters of crime and vice,
phantoms of revelry and prison appear. In defective organisms,
predestined for the prison or the madhouse, together with first love
often the first crime or the first mania reveals itself. To the great
summoner of profundity and sublimity every human element answers,
"Present"; and the sudden anger in natures erstwhile mild, the first
tears on faces till then smiling, the first poetic outburst in natures
hitherto utterly prosaic, the first hysterical paroxysms in a body that
seemed to have no nerves, the first ambitions in the most timid youth,
the first meditations at the mirror, the first impulses, the first war
declared against an invisible enemy, the first follies, the first
flashes of genius, the first lies and the first heroisms, are all new
specters called from the abysses by the magic wand of the sorcerer among
sorcerers, by the greatest conjurer of spirits that the blessed age of
wizards and exorcisms might have boasted of.

The man who loves is twice a man, because for the first time he feels
not only that he is alive, but also that he has the power of creating
living beings, of procreating. Nor is woman the sole generator, because
in man's blood is half of a future creature, and the seed of a second
existence within us doubles us and makes us almost as proud as the
ancient prophets, to whom God entrusted, as to a tabernacle, the supreme
truth, the prophecy of future events. A man who loves has within him a
part of that which will live in the future, the fruitful germs of a new

While all the psychical forces are still confused and indistinct at
first contact with the new sentiment, Love will march them in procession
and muster them under his orders. Every beauty must transmute itself
into flowers for a garland, every passion must lend its fire, every
energy must don the livery of a servant or a slave. Many to serve, one
to command; many strong, but only one supremely strong; many subjects,
but only one tyrant. No objection, no discussion; where love is present,
who would give suggestions or counsel? O virgin and rising forces of
youth, bow your head before your god; splendid beauties of human nature,
lay your tributes upon the new altars. Are you not satisfied with the
glory of doing homage to love? Rarely does avarice find place in the
first and deep meditations of a heart in love, but the question is
continually repeated: "Have I something else, something better, to
offer? Have I really given my whole self to my king?"

A most singular and heartrending voluptuousness of love is to feel that
everything leaves us and that we no longer belong to ourselves. It seems
as though we were witnessing a satanic phantasmagoria in which we behold
limbs, organs, senses, affections, thoughts fleeing from us, running
madly toward a new center, where a new organism is being moulded with
our remains. Even time appears to be ours no longer, since it is no
longer measured by the watch, but by the impatience of desire or the
flashes of voluptuousness; thought, too, no longer belongs to us, as it
is tyrannically ruled by one image alone. To find ourselves again, to
remember that we have still intimate relations with the man of
yesterday, we must go and seek another creature who has robbed us of
everything. Hence a vague unrest which invades the body, the senses and
the thoughts of every lover; hence the undertaking, most difficult even
for the ablest dissembler, to conceal the new god who invades and
penetrates every part of us. Every hair, every pore, every nerve, every
part of the epidermis of the man who loves sings and says to the
universe of the living: "I love, and who loves me?" Day and night, in
the calm and in the storm, all the nature of a lover sings its note
until another song responds in the same tone. Not a moment of peace, not
an instant of truce, until the new energy has found a sister energy.
Love is like the sea: here it is as calm as the surface of an Alpine
lake, still and smooth as a sheet of lead; but there, among the rocks or
upon the coast, it is eternally in motion, and, roaring or sighing,
howling or caressing, agitates with incessant motion the land it kisses.
Man and woman who meet and love are the sea and the land, which are
perpetually at war--a war in turn sweet and bitter, tender and cruel,
voluptuous and merciless.

Look at that young girl seated at the window, bending over a piece of
white linen which she is sewing. How attentive she is to her work! She
seems, between one stitch and another, to be meditating on the solution
of the quadrature of the circle, so absorbed is she in her arduous task.
But if I only could write the volume of thoughts that pass through her
brain between two stitches! She is fishing in the deep abysses of love.

And at a short distance thence, she unaware of it, a young man, too, is
at the window, his hair disheveled, his hands firmly thrust into his
pockets, his breast swelling as by a threat. He has been staring at the
sky for the last hour. Is he meditating, perhaps, upon the tremendous
problem of the proletariate or on that of human liberty? Is he, perhaps,
dreaming of glory, of wealth? No; he, too, is fishing in the deep
abysses of love.

Woman more than man dives deeper and soars higher in the regions of
love; society generally withholds her from the field of action, and an
infinite time is left to her for penetrating into the abysses of the
heart. How often an innocent young girl, who, perhaps, hardly knows how
to write, for many long hours feels in her imagination the sweetness of
a kiss which lasted but a second; how often she is tortured during a
whole night by the bitterness of a cold salute or of a rude word! Here
is a deepness of sense which, nevertheless, is nothing in comparison
with the queer and transubstantial process of sentimental analysis with
which woman pulverizes, analyzes, distills a look, a word, a gesture.
Hide, O chemists, your ignorance before the profundity of the analytical
art of an enamored woman; to her the spectroscope is a coarse instrument
of prehistoric science; homoeopathic draughts are poisons; atoms are
worlds; she has measured them many centuries before Thomson. A billionth
part of a milligram of rancor diluted in an ocean of voluptuousness is
detected by her process of analysis; an atom of indifference in the lava
of desire is instantaneously traced by the thermo-electric apparatus
which she uses in her laboratory. She is a priestess of the ideal, of
the infinite, of the incommensurable, and will continue to be religious
many centuries after man will have buried the last god. Even in love,
the infinite is insufficient for her.

Love always elevates the lover above the average man; and as his
increased strength makes him capable of greater undertakings, the
horizon widens before him more and more because he sees men and things
from a greater height. Each one of us has a different capacity of
soaring to the regions of the ideal; but rabble and genius, prose and
poetry, always raise themselves, by the action of love, to a world which
is nobler, more beautiful, more serene than that in which we drag out
our daily uneventful existence. How many vulgar, despicable natures are
redeemed by the action of love; how many inert intellects are guided
through the paths to glory; how many of the vulgar herd reach the height
of the Olympus of thoughts with the aid of a loving hand! And still the
ignoble proverb is daily repeated, that science and glory must guard
against love as against a bitter enemy, and the examples are
pedantically quoted of great men who loved but art and to chastity alone
owed their greatness. Strange disorder of ideas, in which hygiene is
confused with morality, chastity with the incapacity of loving; but a
man healthy in sense and sentiment will always be elevated by love, if
he does not make an unworthy creature the object of his affection, if he
does not confound love with lust. For one genius killed by love, you
have a hundred who owe to love their greatest inspirations, who drew
from it the strength to live, who blessed it as superior to glory, who
in it alone found the fresh wave that tempered the burning ardor of
enthusiasm and passion. It is an old habit of the human beast to trample
under its feet the rind of the fruit from which it has just sucked the
last drop of juice!

If love does not work in all creatures the same miracles which we
expect, if it is not always a virtue that elevates and refines, it is
because we have lowered woman to the level of our lasciviousness,
because even we, civilized men, feel for her more desire than esteem,
more lust than love. And yet woman thirsts more than man for the ideal,
and, like all oppressed creatures, looks upward with more faith. Her
exquisitely sensitive nature, open to the raptures of enthusiasm, easily
inflamed by the warmth of poetry, attracts her irresistibly to higher
and higher altitudes, and she would have helped us also to soar if we
had not made of her a sweet concubine or a good housewife. Woman feels
the ideal, aspires to every sublimity, but she has neither courage nor
strength to ascend; and if she is not supported by the robust arm of her
lover, she will become easily prostrated and sit down to rest on the
path that leads upward. To her nature has assigned the task of
indicating the high aim, to us the duty of accompanying and sustaining
her. In a magnificent painting by Schoeffer, Dante is standing below,
Beatrice above. Dante gazes at her, contemplates her and is inspired by
her; and Beatrice, her eyes turned to heaven, seems to say to him:
"Upward, upward! There it is where we shall go together!" Nothing is
more contagious than enthusiasm; nothing more fascinating, more
irresistible than the enthusiasm of woman. Without arguments that induce
one to believe, without the strength of hoping, sustained only by love,
she is always full of faith in great and beautiful things, and at every
step of life, now handsome by her sublime imprudence, now affecting by
her youthful enthusiasm, seems to say to us: "Onward, onward!" And with
her tender little hands she draws us upward, guides us and lends us her
ever fresh strength, even when she would appear fatigued.

When Christ made faith the corner-stone of his religion, when he said
that with faith we could move the mountains, he was inspired, perhaps,
by that ardent faith which woman is possessed of and which makes her
strong in her weakness. Woe to us, if before preparing for an
undertaking we should be obliged to weigh with mathematical precision
all favorable and unfavorable probabilities; woe to us, if we were to
launch only into those enterprises of which we are sure! More than
three-fourths of the great achievements would never have been performed.
There is always an element which evades calculation, and it is in the
capricious hands of destiny; it is the lacuna which must be filled by
faith, by that faith which lifts the mountains, and which woman so
deeply feels and so tenderly infuses into our hearts. You may point at
the most celebrated eunuchs of the heart, who, without the aid of woman,
reached the prodigious heights of fame; but I most solemnly affirm that,
had they been guided by a loving hand, they would have soared still
higher. Love is a second sight, and woman sees things from a point of
view which nearly always escapes the synthetic survey of man; she
discovers many hidden elements of things which we, through excessive
haste or excessive pride, do not see; and helping us with the light of
love, she assists us in penetrating more deeply into the substance of
every problem and, above all, into the knowledge of human nature. In
small and great things, after having consulted science and art,
experience and imagination, after having read the book of history and
the book of the human heart, you should never fail to consult the woman
who loves you; whether about a book, or a law, or a work of art, or
commerce, or industry, or poetry, woman will always have something new
to tell you, she will always have her revelations, and through the
action of love you will feel elevated.

Some men of talent lack the coefficient of ambition to ascend, and you
will often see them die before producing the fruit of their gigantic
forces; only woman and love can give them that energy which they cannot
obtain from the stimulus of self-love. Eve knows how to infuse faith
into the skeptic, ambition into the disheartened, strength to all;
unaspiring for herself, she is intensely ambitious, haughty, proud, if
necessary, for the man she loves; and thrones and political power, civil
and martial crowns, glories of art and science, were won through the
ambition lent or inspired by a beloved woman. In heroic and chivalrous
ages this was publicly proclaimed and boasted of; today, when women are
sold in houses of prostitution or at the counter of matrimony, it has
become fashionable to blush at owing one's glory to a woman, and the
chivalrous element, alas! sank and perished together with many other
evil things which we would not like to see come back again. Chivalrous
love vanished and its place was taken by the cicisbeism of our
great-grandfathers, while today in the limbo of a new rising generation
we feel that we begin to discern the germs of a more beautiful epoch for
the amorous life of man.

The more ballast love throws away which keeps it near to the ground, the
higher we soar in the regions of the ideal. This ballast consists all of
lust and self-pride, and it is woman's duty to help us throw it out of
our car. She should not assist with her lasciviousness and her vanity in
further debasing man's loves, already so brutish and vulgar. In the
rapture we feel when inhaling the pure air of the loftiest mountains, we
may sometimes forget that night is drawing near and home is far away;
and thus in love we may feel so carried away by the fascination of the
ideal as to desire a love without contact, the spirit without the
matter. These are sublime derangements of the brain, only too rare, but
reaching the extreme limits of human possibilities; they lead to
delirium, to self-sacrifice; they drag us to folly or to martyrdom. If a
desire continues durable and pure upon the highest summits of human love
and is not perturbed by the contact of matter, men from beneath will
contemplate that statue as a fantastic monument erected by the morning
clouds of the mountain. Not knowing whether it is an effect of the mist
or the imagery of a dream, they contemplate and admire.

The pure and intimate communion of thought and sentiment, with nothing
of the senses but two clasping hands and two pairs of eyes which blend
together, is certainly a voluptuousness among the greatest of the sexual
world; and without any need of platonic love, it may so happen that two
creatures in that moment will forget that one of them is a man and the
other a woman. Then feminine nature shines with all the halo of its
celestial light; from that source of poetry, genius may draw its
greatest energies. Then coarse natures undergo the influence of
refinement in that pure air, social scrofula disappears and all human
soil is washed off. Women, you should take advantage of those fleeting
instants to regenerate the human family and urge it on to higher
destinies! The influence of the ecstasy of sentiment on man is of
shorter duration than on woman, and your angel will soon fall at your
feet, imploring of you the kiss of the terrestrial creature. You are
omnipotent then, for you have the lion at your feet; and if man is
strong, you are stronger still, since his strength is all for you. Guide
it toward the good and the better; direct it to the beautiful. In that
lion which roars with a subdued voice at your feet there is still much
of the beast; in that conquered Hercules there is still much of the
human brute. Silence the beast by running your slender fingers through
his disheveled mane, summon forth from the depths holy energies, noble
inspirations and a thirst for the ideal. We wish to be great for your
sake; we wish to be strong in order to give you all our strength; we
desire the conquest, but only to place it at your feet. To every kiss of
yours may the human family owe a great attainment; to every endearment
of yours, a useful deed! May your love be the highest and dearest prize
to every ambition! True, you are weak; but when you are desired you are
very strong. Who dares assert that he is stronger than the "no" of a
woman? What phalanx attempts to advance when the finger of woman
threatens and commands: "Stand back!"?

Woman sins at least four times less than man; she fears crime, she is
horrified at the very thought of crime. Let us, then, disarm the man who
too often wounds or strikes; let the coward find no woman who loves him,
let him have no cup but that of the coarsest voluptuousness; let the
ignorant, the debased, the social parasites, all the fiends of the moral
world, find no bosom of woman on which to rest their heads! As the
Church once would banish excommunicated persons, so that they could find
no bread, no shelter, it should so be with moral monsters: let them be
banished from the region of love! And the elect women, whom nature
favored with the fateful gift of beauty, should preserve their treasures
for the strong and the immortal; their smiles should be the crown of
triumphing genius and magnanimous heart, for genius and beauty are the
most sublime interlacement of human forces, one of the most splendid
pictures of the nature of living beings.

Love, after having spread the minute fibrils of its tiny roots into all
the deep fissures of the human world and absorbed every drop of liquor,
every throb of energy, sends up to the branches of the robust tree every
sap and every energy; and there, high in the air, leaves, flowers, and
fruits drink from the rays of the sun the sweetest and most inebriating
voluptuousness. There, in those regions full of light and heat, and
which no worm of the soil, no atom of dust, no miasmatic exhalation ever
attain, profundity becomes sublimity, and man and woman, blended in the
ecstasy of an ardent contemplation of the beautiful and the good, ask of
themselves: "And what is God?"



Like the butterfly, which, when just emerged from the involucre of the
chrysalis, still bears on its folded wings some strips of the wrapping
in which it was long enveloped, so Love, the youngest of human passions,
carries remnants of the robe of childhood which he has just discarded.
In his caprices and in his follies, in his games full of grace and
strength, in his blind idolatries and in his childish sorrows, you would
say that you behold before you a child genius. Now he surprises you with
his violence, then he awakens your sympathy for his weakness; now all
powerful, then most timid; now a hero, then a coward; today he defies
heaven with closed fists; tomorrow he will with tears implore a caress.
Love is childish because he is a child; childish because he is a poet;
childish because, unleashing all the impulses of the moral world, and
agitating in a convulsive kaleidoscope all the images of thought, he is
more often lyric than epic, and writes more dithyrambs than stories,
more poems than philosophical treatises.

Furthermore, Love is puerile because he is also so religious as to be
superstitious and subject to all the nonsensical ideas that may pass
through the brain of a timid and ignorant woman. Love, even in northern
countries, delights in the pomp of the idolatry which is most
characteristic of the south, protests against the severe worship of
certain religious sects and, being a great admirer of churchly
gorgeousness, demands incense, images, tinsel, altars, insignia,
canopies and tabernacles.

No religion ever had more senseless idolatry than Love, no Olympus had
more gods, more altars and more priests. He accepts every belief, every
worship, from the fetish of the savage to the omnipotent, invisible God
of nobler religions. Full of faith and fears, Love would himself have
invented idolatry if this had not had an infinity of other roots to
sprout from through the human brain.

When man feels, desires, loves very much, and has reached the
furthermost boundary of the human field, he always erects an altar with
the richest and most beautiful material at his command and there, on his
knees, prays and adores; often he prays and adores at the same time. To
that altar he brings the amber and the coral gathered on the sea-shore
and the gold found in the sands of the stream, the poetry found in his
erratic wanderings through the heaven of the ideal, the most beautiful
flowers of his thought, and offers all as a tribute to a creature of
earth or space, of nature or imagination. And to love, also, man erects
his altar, at the furthermost boundary of the human world, and, on his
knees, solemnly asserts that beautiful, good and holy above everything
is the creature whom he loves. Not satisfied with this, he raises
himself upon the altar and casts avidious glances into the darkness of
the unknown, where no form appears to him but the expansion and the
reflection of the rays of this world; and there he is suspended over the
abysses of nothingness. In that darkness live all the infinities, all
the gods, all the human loves carried into the farthest regions of the

To love, everything is holy that has been touched by the hand, the eye,
or the thought of the beloved, everything in which the dear image is
reflected. All these become an object of worship, all is transformed
into a magic mirror in which we contemplate our god. Who does not
remember the adoration for a rosebush from which _she_ had plucked a
flower, and the idolatry for a petal which _she_ had scented; and who
does not remember the thousand various and foolish relics of love?

In the reliquary of love have found a place the beautiful and the
grotesque, the horrid and the graceful. I had a friend who used to weep
for long hours with joy and emotion, kissing and contemplating a thread
of silk which _she_ had held in her hands, and which was for him the
only relic of love. Another kept on his desk for long years the skull of
his sweetheart as his dearest companion. There are those who have slept
for months and years with a book, a dress, a shawl. And who can
enumerate all the sublime puerilities, all the ardent tendernesses, all
the insensate acts of the idolatry of love?

Sensations accumulate such mysterious and deep energies in the brain of
man, that, at a sign from us, they can all spring up and erect an
edifice before us, greater and more beautiful than the reality of
things. No woman was ever as beautiful as the image which her lover sees
in the calm of his solitary adoration, or pictures upon the black ground
of a night of dreams, a comparison which would often be dangerous, if
the magic brush of imagination did not also overcolor the beauty of the
things seen by the eye and caressed by the hand; but it is a comparison,
however, which often sows the lives of artists and poets with sorrow,
delusions and even crimes.

If every beautiful woman could know all the kisses, all the caresses,
all the hymns offered to her by the multitude of men who admire and
desire her, she would certainly feel proud that she possessed the power
of calling forth so many energies from the world of the living. Who
knows where all those rays end, where the heat of so many motions
accumulates, where such a scattered force gathers again? If it is true
that nothing is lost of all that is generated, what transformation takes
place in so many ardent desires that extend in the infinite void of

Modesty imposes a great sobriety of behavior on woman, often a
tyrannical reserve. She conceals from our eyes the most intimate
adorations, the revels of the heart and the strange hysterics of
sentiment. We, always less enamored than she, give vent more freely to
our effervescence; and if a beautiful and fortunate woman should
describe the scenes which she has witnessed in her youth, she would
present a collection of caricatures before which all others would grow
dim and mawkish; a collection which would combine the grotesque with the
sublime, folly with passion, impudent threats of death and impossible
fasts; sudden abandonments of one's dignity, abdications of common
sense, stupid sacrifices of one's own personality, orgies of fancy and
hurricanes of the senses, humiliations worthy of a Franciscan friar and
braggart rodomontades. How much misery, how many carnivals and
bacchanalia, and how much baseness has woman to witness! Fortunately for
us, she is merciful and modest; for our honor's sake, she covers us with
a corner of her queenly mantle, hiding our puerilities from the eyes of
the profane, and often from our own.



A country cannot be surveyed without tracing exactly its boundaries,
without following them in their capricious and serpentine lines, without
marking the point where its individuality ends and the influence of the
neighboring country begins to be felt. You may have trampled every clod;
wandered through every path, scented the soil of every field, and drunk
the water of every spring and every stream; but if you have not sketched
the confines of a country, you know less than half its history.
Everything is important for what it is and what adjoins it. Not one,
then, in this world can impunely be near to another, and all things act
and react reciprocally. So it is with love, which has frontiers as vast
as the human world, as indented as the coast of Dalmatia or of Norway,
capricious, irregular, changeable. It is a land which projects into all
adjacent countries, and with it sense, sentiment and thought come into
close and complicated contact.

Every sense, every passion, every force of the mind is an instrument of
love; but this, in turn, bends in a thousand different ways to senses,
passions and thoughts. It is a continual interlacing of factors and
instruments, of causes and effects; and while this gigantic power warms
and agitates the inmost fibers of the human organism, it radiates its
penetrating light to the furthermost confines of the world.

Love, which by the supreme right of existence requires the contact of
two different natures, which is but the kiss of two creatures who blend
for an instant and fuse together the germs of their power, must have
most varied, numberless relations to the sense of touch. It could even
be said, without departing from strict scientific truth, that physical
love is a sublime form of contact and touch. In inferior animal forms,
as well as in human natures of a low and bestial type, love is nothing
but touch and contact; but ascending to the high spheres of the animal
world and of the human microcosm, the other senses also add their
flowers to the garland of love, with the exception of taste, which takes
no part in the pleasures of love, except in peculiar cases, which can,
without any scruple, be entrusted to the clinic of pathological
psychology. Of the other four senses, touch has the greatest part in
love, hearing the smallest; sight and smell range between the two former
in very different degrees.

The senses, however, differ more in the nature of the joys and sorrows
with which they take part in the greatest of human passions than in the
various quantities of elements which they yield to love. Touch conquers,
and twinges with delight; sight reveals and charms; hearing impassions
and conquers; smell cherishes and inebriates. We can easily have a
comparative idea of the various parts which the four senses take in love
by comparing these four moments: To see the beloved woman and gaze at
her for a long time; to embrace her passionately; to hear her voice
without seeing her; to inhale voluptuously the aroma with which she is
wont to scent her robe.

A thousand, a hundred thousand, a million notes would be insufficient to
express all the harmonies and melodies of amorous contact; and as the
most voluminous dictionary in the world would decline to enter upon such
an undertaking, the pen of the writer would slip into the field where
science becomes lasciviousness. I regret at times that one of the
greatest poets did not sing the sublime voluptuousness of love with such
loftiness of style as to leave his pen uncontaminated. Perhaps man would
like to know also the limits of the genius of lust, to mark the
confines, too, of this human possibility; but I find some consolation
for this sublime ignorance of ours, for this glorious lacuna left by
modesty in the field of human knowledge, in thinking that where poetry
kept silent and science inactive, where an intimate contact of two
kisses creates a new existence, an unknown current transmits to the new
man, together with the sparks of life, all the treasures of past
voluptuousness; and the son of Adam, with a second kiss, will transmit
the innate science of love, pour all the nectar of the chalice of
voluptuousness into the lips of the daughter of Eve. Sublime science,
which was never written on papyrus nor sculptured in marble or bronze,
but is transmitted in the flash of a kiss through thousands of
generations that loved, love, and will love!

From the purest caress on a mass of hair to the greatest hurricane of
voluptuousness, touch always keeps the character moulded for it by its
anatomy. Touch, in love, is always made oversensitive by voluptuousness,
always deeply sensual, is always a positive, definite, uncontrasted and
uncontrastable possession. Woman may delude herself into believing that
she is unblemished by man's contact when his hand has but touched the
hem of her garments or the leather of her shoes; but when skin has
touched skin, when a finger has touched a finger, something is already
lost of that waxy varnish which nature spreads upon the virginal fruit
still preserving the perfume of the tree that nourished it. A hand that
clasps a hand means, in love, two fires that blend in one; a mass of
hair that touches a mass of hair means two streams of voluptuousness
rushing into the bed of one river; two feet that come in contact are
always two sparks that fly. A molecule of a man who loves can never
touch impunely a molecule of the woman who returns his love; and
although the contact may be more rapid than lightning, every molecule
that returns to the spheres of its own individuality carries away
something that does not belong to it, and leaves with the other
something of itself. Touch soft iron with the loadstone and you will see
it magnetized; touch a molecule of a man with that of a woman and the
two molecules will not be what they were before. Touch is always the act
of possession, and the thousand contacts can, gradually, steal so much,
that we may find ourselves carried into the sphere of the woman we love,
while she has entirely passed into our sphere. Not in vain the modest
woman trembles and rebels at every innocent contact. Every sensation of
touch, in love, means a boundary that is eliminated between two
properties; it means the loss of a property.

It is not hypocrisy alone that makes modesty more exacting in higher
races; in exquisitely elevated natures a contact is more dangerous
because it radiates rapidly into the field of voluptuousness, into that
of the other senses and that of sentiment. Vulgar natures begin where
refined natures end; and while too elevated natures live long together,
held back by the barrier of a handshake, the bold and uncouth rustic
throws a kiss to the girl and embraces her at the first declaration of
love. It is typical of this most powerful passion to perform a hundred
miracles a day and thus arrest voluptuousness at the last boundary of
kissing; but adroitness and fortune are necessary to make it possible to
stop there for a long time. From handclasping to the kiss the path may
be very long and even endless; but beyond a kiss given and returned,
every definite boundary has vanished and everything is possible. Even in
touch love has but two principal stations before the goal is reached;
handclasping and kiss. Whoever believes she has remained a virgin after
a kiss given and returned is a hypocrite, like him who believes that the
studied reticence of lust may still leave something to conquer. O women
who have the dangerous fortune to be beautiful and to be desired, do not
let your adorers go beyond handclasping; you may in rare cases arrive at
the kiss that you may receive; but remember that a kiss returned is a
tremendous bond, which you should never sign,--never, of course, unless
you intend to change your name.

Sight is the first messenger of love, and in elect natures it is so
prodigal of joy to lovers as to excel, in extensity if not in intensity,
even the insuperable heights of voluptuousness. Sight possesses
everything save the delirium of possession, and rapid and penetrating as
it is, it sounds at a stroke the abysses of infinite beauty, over which
is suspended, as in a halo, the object of our love. What one
contemplates with the eyes of love from head to foot always ends in two
infinities into which desire hurls itself with frenzied audacity and
insatiable curiosity. Sight is made to accompany us in that delicious
excursion; and as it can tarry long and suavely at a dimple of the
cheek, at the little vortex of a curl or at the opalescence of a nail,
it can also compel us to pass and repass with vertiginous speed, a
thousand times in a minute, through the divine lines that enclose our

The eyes of love have all the virtue of the telescope and the
microscope, and while not a single curve of the thousand labyrinths
through which the mobile feminine beauty seems to flutter and flicker
can escape them, they also attain the most sublime summits of ideal
beauty. When the eye admires and conquers, it invites to the picture
which it draws from nature all senses, all passions, all thought, all
psychical energies of man. No other sense possesses this gigantic
faculty of elevating us to the highest regions of the ideal, compelling
the minor senses, the animal instincts and the lower passions to
contemplate its panoramas. The eye is the first minister of the mind,
and while it refines desire and frees passion from the coarsest
lasciviousness, it elevates the man and woman who love to the highest
spheres of human possibility. Touch likes to remove the veils that cover
the beautiful; sight need not divest the object it contemplates, for its
light illumines every shade, penetrates through opaque bodies and makes
them transparent, threads its way through the most intricate folds, and
while it sees it also surmises, inspects, divines, analyzes, measures,
compares and controls with incredible agility all the elements of the
esthetic world.

The eye which rests the rays of its light on a loving eye illumines it,
is illumined in turn and shows to us the phenomenon of two brilliant
stars exchanging their lights and rendering themselves more beautiful.
If one does not lower the chaste eyelids, it may so happen that the fire
will spread from the high spheres of the esthetic ideal down to the vile
and brutish instincts. This, in fact, happens in all men of a base type;
every emotion of love is rapidly transferred to the regions of touch.
In elect natures, on the contrary, sight has ever some beauty to
discover, a region to explore, a world to conquer. The richest man in
the world can always count the dollars and the stocks he possesses; the
most powerful king can always know the extent in square miles of his
dominions: but he who loves a beautiful creature dies without having
seen, contemplated or admired all. In the last day of his life there is
always some "unknown land" which the eye has not yet discovered or
sufficiently explored. And this is just the intimate difference which
distinguishes touch from sight. While the former has well determined
boundaries and a definite task, the latter widens the limits of its
dominions to include a number infinitely greater in esthetic
combinations. In a flash of the eye you have seen a beautiful being and
immediately said: "Oh, the angelic creature!" A chaos of sensations, a
world of beautiful things have surprised, enraptured, enamored you; but
how many days, how many months, how many years will be required for your
eyes to roam through the thousand paths of that garden, to study every
flower, every petal of each flower. What intensity of voluptuous
analysis, how many poems of delight, in order to say again, five or ten
years after: "Oh, the angelic creature!"

Nature was very generous in distributing attractions in the bodies of
man and woman, and the short, sad day of our life always vanishes before
we have been enabled to see all the forms of human beauty. But to the
esthetic treasures of nature, man succeeded in adding those of art; and
with the thousand artifices of garment and ornaments, we have added to
our forms such and so many beauties that it is easier to imagine than to
enumerate them. Perhaps I will some day attempt to write a "Physiology
of Beauty," in which, if I do, I intend to point out the general laws
which govern the esthetic world. Here I must only describe the confines
where love and beauty meet and, in turn, kiss and fecundate each other.
When the eye has love for a companion it finds a new world to
contemplate in the cerulean star-thistle which our sweetheart
interweaves for the first time in her golden hair, or in the crimson
geranium which gives a magnificent relief to her raven locks; a naughty
little muslin apron may become a new continent, and a glove, which too
cruelly and too tightly squeezes a rosy little hand, may enclose in the
nest of its little buttons of mother of pearl so many new beauties as to
stir our senses or infuse an unknown voluptuousness into us. The man who
loves a beautiful woman laughs compassionately at the polygamist pasha
who needs a hundred women to find the hundred beauties of the human
Venus; and the beautiful woman, in the arsenal of her garments, in the
variety of her smiles, in the thousand undulations of her flexuous body,
evokes before the eyes of her lover not a hundred, but a thousand women,
all beautiful with a different beauty.

Sight is the only sense which, in love, proceeds to effect moral and
intellectual discoveries in the person beloved; and we not only
contemplate to admire and to enjoy, but also to discover, by the flash
of the eye and the throbbing of the facial muscles, how many affections,
how many thoughts we can find in the one whom we intend to make ours
forever. However, beauty is such a powerful tyrant in love that it
forces us under its yoke and usurps the rights of the highest needs. A
beautiful woman who is desired seldom seems to us frivolous and
heartless, and the fascination of beauty may impel us to pardon every
crime, to accept the most shameful compromises with our conscience, and
may cause in us the most ridiculous and farcical hallucinations.
However, this fault is not of the eyes, that see, but of the senses,
that desire too ardently; and, above all, of nature, which has such a
loving care of the forms in which germs are moulded into living bodies.
Nature defends and protects the beautiful above everything else, perhaps
because it is the crucible in which the good and the true are melted

If I wished to indicate by an ideographic sign all the varied and
essential parts which the sense of sight assumes in love, I would use
the figure of a winged messenger, a sort of Mercury, with the left hand
leading Voluptuousness on the earth, and with the right directing our
gaze toward the highest regions of the ideal, where in holiest and most
tender company live the good and the beautiful, the true and the
sublime, where are preserved all the variform archetypes of sublimity.

Hearing has a small but interesting part in the story of love, if we set
aside the prominent part it has as an instrument of thought. We are not
to discuss here music or the value of ideas communicated through words,
but the purely sensual influence of the ear in amorous phenomena.

Hearing yields some pleasures almost tactile, and always very sensual,
such as are brought to us by some sounds which may be termed lascivious
(the swish of a silk gown, the warbling of some birds, the murmur of
certain waves, etc.); but beyond these rare exceptions, hearing has a
tender, affectionate part. We would say that it stirs affections,
predisposing them to vibrate with the sweetest, most impassioned notes.
Man and woman have each a peculiar voice, and the sexual character of
the feminine voice affects man, while the virile timbre of his voice
causes woman's heart to throb with the most deeply sexual desires. There
are some feminine voices that cannot be heard with impunity, so suavely
do their notes penetrate into the greatest depths of the heart, which
throbs with excitement and emotion. The voice of some women resembles a
caress by the wing of a swan; and while it delights us, it perturbs and
confuses us, affects us deeply and lastingly. Man and woman, through the
notes of their voices, chastely reveal their sex, and the heart
palpitates violently, as that of a girl bathing, who, before trusting
her little foot to the wave, looks around as though frightened by the
rustle of the leaves.

The sound of the voice, beyond the idea it represents, cannot say, "I am
beautiful, I am intelligent," but it can say, alone, many other sweet
things: "I am a woman, I am very much of a woman, I desire much, I am
languishing with love, I am alone, I want you at once, I await you
ardently," etc.

The seduction of the voice has some of the characteristics attributed
to ancient sorcery; it surprises, fascinates and conquers us, and we are
unable to discover the cause of such a storm roused by a few sounds, a
few words. We feel ourselves almost humiliated at being vanquished
without a battle, carried off without our consent; and the fascination
of a voice seems to us the work of a witch. More than once we have
resisted the seductions of sight, the violence of touch; but the voice
conquers us, delivers us, bound, hand and foot, into the arms of a
mysterious power which demands from us the blindest submission, against
which rebellion is impossible. And this influence of the voice lasts a
long time, is never forgotten, often survives love itself.

After long years of silence, indifference, contempt, the wind carries to
us the sound of a voice; and we feel ourselves disturbed, surprised,
reconquered, as in the first day of our love. Hearing will cast its
fishing-line into the deepest waters of our affection; and more than one
love has been resuscitated miraculously from the coldest ashes by a dear
voice which we had, perhaps, long since forgotten.

Love has many mysterious relations to the olfactory sense. In the animal
world perfumes are often the more direct and powerful instigators in
amorous struggles; and even before the female has seen the companion by
whom she desires to be conquered, the wings of the wind have carried to
her nostrils a perfume that inebriates and fills her with

This sense may be a powerful excitant in inferior races, or in the lower
type of men of high races, but it exercises, in love, a powerful
influence even in the most refined natures, by means of perfumes which
we have conquered from nature and which, by the omnipotence of
chemistry, we know how to reproduce without having recourse to the power
of life. We have brought into our power the essence of every petal, the
perfume of every calyx, of every leaf, of every bark, the repugnant
smell of many enamored animals, and, with impudent art, mixing the odors
of flowers with exciting aromas, we have concentrated in a few drops of
essence so much olfactory voluptuousness as warm spring could hardly
concentrate in a flowering meadow or in a tropical forest. Now the deep
and intense voluptuousness of perfumes is the daughter of a remote
atavism which makes us susceptible of the sexual exhalations of many
living beings and, solely for this reason, no sense has more intimate
ties with animal voluptuousness than smell.

If you study the expression on the face of a woman who is scenting a
very odorous flower and feels as though inebriated, you will see that
such a picture resembles, more than anything else, a sublime scene of
love. Ask many over-sensual men and they will tell you that they cannot
visit with impunity the laboratories where essences and perfumes are
made. Ask the art of the perfume-maker, and it will answer that, after
having mixed a hundred essences of flowers and leaves, it gives relief
to and improves all those perfumes by adding an infinitesimal quantity
of a matter, fetid in itself, but taken from the organs of love of some
animal. Ask why women love perfumes so much, and perhaps a few will be
able to tell you, or will answer with a blush. And if by a long
experience they have already learned the most subtle mysteries of the
senses, all the finest arts of coquetry, they will tell you that
perfumes are a powerful weapon in the arsenal of love and that some of
them possess an irresistible charm over the senses of man.

It is difficult to remain a long time in the warm atmosphere of
voluptuousness without sacrificing a great part of those noble forces
which are destined for higher attainments; and this explains why no
impassioned mania for perfumes can have a moral influence over us. He
who plunges into the tepid, titillating and morbid wave of odors no
longer measures his strength in relation to a chaste and robust
virility, but squeezes from the fruit the last drop of juice, and in the
rapid convulsion of weariness imagines new delights. But between this
human debasement and the contempt for perfumes there is an abyss, and by
abandoning them to the courtesan, or to the savage woman who anoints
herself from head to foot, we throw away, without any reason, much of a
dear and sweet voluptuousness which could be enjoyed and cultivated by
us without any offense to morals.

Do you believe that a kiss given to that one whom you love and who is
yours, through the petals of a rose, is a sin of lust? Do you ever
believe that love gathered in a shower of violets, hyacinths and
narcissus, between the crepuscules of two sighs, could be called
lasciviousness? Nature is eternally rich, and the garlands we weave with
her flowers around our joys do not deplete her inexhaustible gardens.



In the Apollo room in the Vatican you will see an ancient bas-relief
representing two bacchantes with the Dionysian thyrsus; one is standing,
while the heat of voluptuousness is flaming within her; she bears the
thyrsus, lust transpires on her face, and a bull is beating his horns
against her legs; the other falls exhausted from intoxication. These are
two moments of the voluptuousness of love, but they are also the two
most elementary forms of the sentiment that bind man to woman. Now an
ardent energy, then calm possession; now struggle that conquers, then
affectionate blandishment that restrains. The most sublime, most
constant, most perfect love that a man of superior race can desire or
dream of, is a hot, bright flame, lasting as long as life, and at which,
from time to time, are kindled the sparks of a desire that flares up,
wavers and disappears.

Love, in comparison with all other sentiments, is such a thing that,
when it comes in contact with them, it rules, attracts and draws them
into the orbit of its movements, like a small fragment of cosmic matter
which, having come too near to the sun, is attracted and devoured by
that body. The sentiments are forces, each controlled by certain laws in
its own sphere; when they come together, they conglomerate or eliminate
each other, or exercise a mutual influence which causes them to deviate
from the line followed by them a moment before. When an affection
approaches love it is so powerfully influenced by it as to seem to
disappear from the sight of the common people, while neither matter nor
force can ever be destroyed, but can only change in form.

On this subject many fallacious arguments are advanced every day. It is
said, for instance, that love is the most egotistic of sentiments,
because we seek in it the greatest voluptuousness; but love and egotism
are two affections that follow very different orbits, since the former
causes us to love another creature and has as its object the
preservation of the species, while the latter makes us love ourselves
and tends to preserve the individual. If by egotism we mean the desire
of satisfying a need, then all the sentiments, even the most generous
ones, could be considered as forms of egotism, since even the martyr
satisfies a very high need of a generous sentiment.

Love is, on the contrary, at perpetual war with egotism; and although
the latter is a gigantic affection, yet it pales before the brilliant
light of the Titan of the Affections. Many animals prefer death to
abandoning the faithful companion. Even the toad suffers himself to be
tortured, burned, to have his limbs amputated, his eyes gouged; but as
long as he has one limb intact, he uses it to embrace the female in an
amorous clasp. And do we not, too, offer as holocaust to love wealth,
glory, science? Does not woman offer to love the long illness of
gestation, the tortures of childbirth, the pains of nursing, the anxious
cares of domestic and educational struggles? And how many think, in the
intoxication of love, of the bitterness and the thorns which they are
sowing in that moment; the history of sorrow which, perhaps, by an
inexorable law, they are preparing for themselves?

Even the most perfect egotist, if he be a healthy man, desires and loves
a woman. Apart from a few elect creatures to whom the supreme joys of
the creations of thought are permitted, love represents the greatest of
energies, the crowning of every edifice. We may thirst for wealth and
glory as the greatest of joys, but in the background we behold the
outline of a feminine creature at whose feet the trophies of victory
must be laid. I do not speak of woman, because, for her, every satisfied
vanity, every hoped for glory, all riches desired, every flower and
every fruit of the garden of life must be laid at the feet of somebody,
and this somebody is always a man. The fireworks with which every
festivity of life ends must always be a woman; at the bottom of every
vulgar revelry and on the horizon of every sublime glory there is ever
an Eve. To love and to be loved is of all human things the best; and
even in the world of the suprasensible, the religions of every country
have always promised to the good and the believer an eternity of love in
the harem of voluptuousness, or in a mystic but amorous ecstasy. Read
the burning pages of the mystic writers, and you will be able to tell me
if all that fantastic world is not, too, a transubstantiation of love.
The gods of every Olympus also have a sexual form, and there are
feminine forms for the males and masculine forms for the females. From
the cradle to the grave, love is for all and always the highest promise.
Between the automatic lust of adolescence and the studied and covetous
lecheries of old age, we pass, through the feverish hysteria of early
youth, to the deep passions of virility; but for every age love is the
sweetest joy. The tocsin of old age begins to sound when, with the first
white hairs, we fear that we are no longer able to love; and every one
ardently, anxiously hopes that the hour, the minute will never come for
him in which he shall be compelled to say the tremendous words: "I

I do not deny that in some human monsters egotism, as a sacrifice made
to the god "Myself," is so powerful as to exclude love; but such cases
are very rare if they last the whole life, rare when they last for a
shorter period. It often occurs that a man, trained to and living in the
most sordid egotism, falls in love when old with a poor young girl, and
becomes expansive with her, generous, prodigal, perhaps; and he too
pays, at one time and in a very ridiculous way, the debt which nature in
vain claimed from him during his young and mature age.

Great egotists also love, but in a selfish manner, denying the most
prodigal and most splendid of the passions that tribute which they
cannot refuse to themselves. They are ignorant of the most sublime joys,
of the most inebriating enthusiasms of love, of the holy voluptuousness
of loving a woman more than oneself; but they also love, they love in
their own way. If you wish to study the physiognomy of egotistical love,
compare man's with woman's love and you will find it easy to penetrate
into the mysteries of this part of psychology; and if you desire a more
striking contrast, that the differences may be represented in a bolder
relief, compare the love of an old man with that of a young woman: you
will have in the former an egotistical type of love, in the latter a
generous one.

More complex are the influences which the sentiment of possession and
that of self-esteem exercise upon love, and the importance given to
jealousy is sufficient to prove this.

The physiological study of jealousy would be sufficient, if it were
still needed, to demonstrate the queer confusion of language in relation
to psychical facts. One would say that it is the language of the
alchemists, employed to express the chemical composition of bodies; one
would believe that we are still dealing with the "nothing white," the
"philosophic wool" and the "tetrascelitetraoxicoquindodeca" of our good

Jealousy really signifies a pain of the sentiment of love, or, to be
more specific, the sentiment caused by the offense done us through the
infidelity of the person we love. This pain is natural in all men, in
all times and in almost all races. It is the injury to our property
applied to love. The child scratches and bites him who touches or spoils
its fruits or its toy; it grieves us to be robbed of our books, of the
flowers of our garden. It is natural, then, that he who touches our
sweetheart, our dearest thing, should be hated. And, in fact, this
jealousy is but a form of hatred, the most natural, the most legitimate
of all hatreds. It is not necessary to create a new energy or a new word
to express this hatred. We may beat or kill a man because he has
brutally offended our son, our father, our friend, our country, our
sweetheart; five offenses given to five different sentiments, but always
hatred aroused by grief, energy developed by the same mechanism. The
paternal, the filial, the friendly sentiment, the devotion to our
country, love have been offended in us, and we have responded with a
centrifugal hatred, with blows or death. But in these various cases, was
the presence of a new sentiment deemed necessary in order that the crime
might be committed? Certainly not. It was said that the paternal
affection, injured, had aroused such distress in us as to lead to
assault or assassination; it was simply asserted that an insult to the
flag of our country had rendered us blind and led us to commit violence;
and why, then, when love is offended, should we create a new
sentiment--jealousy? All sentiments, when satisfied, lead us to close
friendships, to endearments, to be of assistance to those who have given
us these satisfactions. All injured sentiments lead us, on the contrary,
to repel those who have offended them, to harm those from whom we have
received that pain.

Is it jealousy, then, the hatred that an animal manifests toward any
creature which interrupts it in its loves? Well, for many savages, to
whom love is nothing but sexual intercourse, all the phenomena of
jealousy are reduced to this single form. When the instinct is
satisfied, as the unions are promiscuous and woman is considered common
property, there can be no jealousy. If woman is a cup out of which every
one may drink, why should there be jealousy? A Bolivian woman once
cynically told me: "Woman is the water of a stream. Throw a stone into
it: will you be able to tell me a minute afterward where the stone broke
that water? You are very foolish, you man, to make distinctions between
identical things!"

In polygamous races, man only can be jealous; in polyandric ones, woman
alone can be jealous legally. With various nations, woman is a property
like any other; hence she can be voluntarily offered to the friend or to
the guest, like a horse or a dog. They do not want anybody to steal her,
but she can be given away without either disgrace or jealousy. Only in
the higher and monogamous races the sentiments of love, self-esteem and
property, forming a triple armor around our woman, incite us to defend
her "with claws and beak"; and to this unyielding body, consisting of
the union of three sentiments, we give the name of "jealousy"; and here
we have a second psychical form, another thing called by the same name.

But, as though such confusion were not already excessive, we have called
jealousy a special psychical individual organization by which we become
suspicious and tyrannical toward the person we love and whom we offend
without any reason and from whom we withhold all legitimate liberty. And
after having confused three different things, that is to say, the grief
of injured love, the triple combination of three sentiments--love,
self-pride, possession--and a pathological irritability of suspicion, we
discuss at length, and always in vain, in order to decide whether all
men are jealous and whether jealousy measures love with an exact ruler
and whether anyone can love without being jealous: vain, not to say
puerile, discussions, which would not take place if words were
previously defined. If by jealousy you mean the sorrow caused by not
being loved or by being deceived, then every heart that loves must be
jealous; thus, whoever loves country, mother, son, cannot witness
without sorrow an offense offered to son, mother, country. But if by
jealousy you mean that form of tyrannical suspicion which tortures the
person possessed by it, then I shall tell you that we very well can and
should love without ever feeling that jealousy, and that we can be
jealous even without loving. Let us proceed to an elementary analysis,
and we shall understand each other. Under the name of a single
sentiment, of a single effective energy, the most dissimilar phenomena
are grouped, to wit:

     (1) The sorrow caused by a love offense;

     (2) The sorrow for an injury to property;

     (3) A sorrow born of the sentiment of self-esteem;

     (4) An habitual, constitutional suspicion, which centers on the
     person beloved or possessed.

The only common ties among these psychical phenomena are these: that all
apply to a love offended, or alleged to be offended, and that they are
all accompanied by grief. Such an empiricism, such a coarse empiricism!
Is this not actual alchemy, that which called all volatile bodies
"spirits," and the oxide of zinc "philosophic wool"!

As jealousy is not an elementary psychical phenomenon, but simply an
empirical mixture, it has many and varied ethnical forms, and becomes
necessary in all countries where polygamy prevents man from physically
and morally satisfying a woman, and where the husband, merely because he
is rich and powerful, selects his wife and forces his love upon her. The
jealousy of many Oriental nations is proverbial, and perhaps monogamous
peoples become jealous through contact with polygamous ones, as in
Sicily and in certain parts of Spain. It seems to me, however, that in
some cases jealousy has not a clear historical origin, but assumes an
ethnical character, according to the special constitution of a race. In
any case, in Europe, Italians, Spaniards, and, above all, Portuguese are
very jealous; and, as I learned, in America the most jealous of all are
the Brazilians.

The common people will certainly not be persuaded by my psychological
analysis, and will continue to measure the force of love by the
unreasonableness of suspicion; and many dear and lovely women will
continue, heaven knows for how many centuries, to taunt their lovers
with this foolish plaint: "You do not love me because you are not
jealous. How can you love me if you do not feel for me the slightest
jealousy?" Foolish lamentations, often uttered by happy creatures who,
perhaps, finding it strange and against nature to be too happy, look for
some occasion of sorrow and regret. Can anyone love anybody on earth
more deeply than one's own children? Certainly not; and yet we are not
jealous when others love them, and father and mother sublimely vie with
each other in adoring and fondling them. You should love your companion
in love in the same manner; and if you fear to lose him, that fear must
not be the wrath of the inquisitor nor the clutch of the miser. Vain
counsels! Words thrown to the winds! Jealousy is one of the most
constitutional psychological maladies, and, if one is born with it, it
is very difficult to cure. May a benign fate keep it from you! It
poisons the dearest joys of life; penetrates every pore of the skin;
pours its gall into every drop of water, into every mouthful of bread;
it transforms the man who loves into a policeman, always armed, with
alert ear and prying eyes. And the jealous man is always spying,
doubting, suffering; he investigates the past, the present and the
future; he seeks the lie in a caress, indifference in a kiss; in love he
always fears hypocrisy. What a hellish life! It is a hundred times
better not to love than to love in this way. The punishment of the few
jealous men with exquisitely gentle heart should be this: to know that
those who are as jealous as they generally entertain more self-love than
love, and that the highest and noblest creatures have always loved
without jealousy. The day when we perceive that we are no longer loved,
when we are deceived, let love die without replacing it with jealousy.
From suspicion to condemnation or acquittal, between sincere lovers, the
path cannot and must not be a long one; to a frank question, a frank
answer; let suspicion or love die, but they should die in a hurricane or
in a battle, die a violent death; they should not drag a miserable
existence between the courts and the prisons. A hundred times better a
lightning that kills us than the feverish jaundice which consumes the
stamina of our lives, poisons all sources of our joy.

Jealousy, besides, as it has already largely declined in monogamous
society, will continue to decrease in the future, when matrimony shall
be but the sanctification of love, when the choice shall be always
reciprocal, when in the moral relations between the two sexes all trace
of hypocrisy shall have disappeared. To know that we are loved,
esteemed, and to love and esteem our companion, deeply and sincerely, is
the surest guarantee of defense against that sordid parasite, that
wood-worm of love which is jealousy. Let woman cease to be a slave or a
freedwoman, let the husband or lover cease to be the proprietor of a
woman, and all those lepers of love, the jealousy-mad, will disappear at

Self-esteem, independent of jealousy, has many legitimate relations to
love, of which it enriches the treasures. No man, no woman in the
world, knowing that he or she is loved by a most noble creature, can
help feeling proud; and if a delicate reserve prohibits our heralding
our good fortune, we can, however, relish the secret joy of knowing that
the world envies us. It is almost always beyond human strength to
renounce these joys, which can be delighted in without humiliating
others and without any shadow of rancor. Woman, especially, with
admirable art, knows how to say countless things silently; and when she
is proud of a noble love, she radiates such an aureole of light as to
dazzle the adorer and the apathetic. With the majesty of a queen and the
reserve of a woman, and without opening her lips, she can say to all:
"Envy me; I am loved!" Holy and just and chaste pride, which I wish all
the daughters of Eve who shall have deserved love should feel.

Lovers and sweethearts, choirs of adorers and famous beauties may be
objects of luxury, as are horses and palaces; and it is natural for
human vanity to seek those things and to appreciate and utilize them to
humiliate those who have them not. Vanity uses love, then, as a pretext;
and many women, incapable of loving, may conquer men solely as trophies
of war, just as men oftener than women may, through pure vanity,
undertake a war of conquest. All these facts, however, belong to the
history of pride and vanity, and we have already dealt with them in our
study on the sources of love.

In that study we have seen by what paths one is led to love, and we were
therefore obliged to consider friendship, compassion and many other
sentiments as sources of love. But all endearing sentiments may have
relation to the Prince of Affections; that is to say, take the place of
love that wanes. When the sun shines in the heavens, the light of the
moon and that of the minor stars are invisible; and in the same way,
when love glows above the horizon of life, friendship, compassion, and
all other tender affections can no longer be seen or felt; but when love
disappears we can see the minor sentiments take its place.

Esteem, veneration and all other analogous sentiments may be companions
of love; but only too often they are bestowed upon a creature who little
deserves them. Love is a wizard that transforms and beautifies and
magnifies everything he touches; and we can have immense esteem and deep
veneration for the most despicable man, for the most abject, most wicked
woman. It does not reflect much honor upon us, but it is true. No
brigand ever stood in need of loves, often deep and ardent, and no
beautiful courtesan ever lacked illustrious lovers. What does it matter
if the object of love is a disgrace in everybody's eyes, spat upon by
public contempt, set in the pillory of universal hatred?

We love him, we love her; that is enough. And why do we love him? Why do
we love her? Because it pleases us. Before the inappellable rudeness of
this explanation what can science say, what can morality suggest?

Science recognizes the fact and explains it. A creature despicable in
every respect must please us very much to inspire us with love; and this
sentiment must be really gigantic if it conquers human
conventionalities, vulgar prejudices and the most persistent habits. It
has been said with much truth that no woman was more ardently loved than
a homely woman; and the same may be said of a brutal or criminal man, a
woman of the street or abject for any reason. A great man, if accused of
loving a debased or silly woman, could often, blushing with shame, strip
her before the world, like ancient Phryne, saying: "Let him dare throw
the first stone at me, who feels himself incapable of loving this
beautiful creature!" And the man who, through crime or baseness, has
been banned from civilized society, has in his heart, for the woman who
loves him, some pure and virgin oasis in which his love is lying; he
still has some untainted place reserved in his soul for the beloved one;
and this love, concealed and bitter, possesses, for certain natures, all
the perilous seductions of strong aromas and intoxicating poisons. No
man in the world is entirely wicked; and some of the ferocious
kindnesses of the assassin, some of the generous impulses of the thief
are preserved for the companion of love. Such is the omnipotence of
this sentiment, which, like an ancient alchemist, transmutes the vilest
metals into liquid gold and discovers the only diamond buried in the
sand of a great alluvium! Science, then, admits loves without esteem,
and, bowing its head with a blush of shame, acknowledges that they are
only too frequent.

Where science is still and humiliates itself, morality erects its head
and flagellates. Love without esteem is a crime--and a crime which
breeds other crimes. Woe to us when, bold avengers of public contempt,
we dare boast of loving a vile creature, and impudently parade such
love, as though intending by our arrogance to impose silence on
indignant decency, or by our insolence to act as pedestal for the
offended paramour! Liars in our own eyes, we defy, alone, the holiest
and most inviolable laws of beauty and honesty; and proud, first, then
bold and insolent, we end by becoming truly ribalds, and all encircled
and hidden by mire, we permit no gentle creature to approach us who
could inspire us with a pure and noble affection. Human passions may try
many stunts and tricks, but, in the end, natural sentiments, like normal
situations, are the healthiest and most enjoyable. We can raise, for an
instant, the vilest creatures on the shield of pride, but our arms will
tire and we will roll into the mire, together with our idol of a day.

The woman we love must not only be the companion of our voluptuousness,
but also the mother of our children; the man a woman loves must be the
husband and the father of the family. We should not consecrate the blush
of our face in that of our children, who will curse our wicked loves,
and will, perhaps, execrate the name of the father or the memory of the
mother. When pride has lost its keenness, and the hour of revenge has
passed, woe to us if we shall find ourselves alone with a creature whom
we cannot hold in estimation!

If Love is really the holiest thing of life, the most ardent affection,
the most voluptuous joy, we must erect a temple to him, with our own
hands, and with our most sublime sentiments decorate his tabernacle, in
which we can worthily adore him as a god. Love born among crimes and
turpitudes is a nest woven with thorny shrubs and thistles, while we
should weave it with the most aromatic leaves and the most beautiful
flowers. Men and women, we should vie with each other in gleaning fields
and gardens and in bearing to love every gentle affection, every noble
aspiration, every impulse of lofty ambition. Lust and pride, when
coupled, become the step-parents of every love without esteem, which,
like every organism born of evil, lives a scrofulous and rachitic life,
full of sorrows and calamities.

If love is really the most precious gem, we should enclose it in a
casket which, for richness of material, artistic skill and inimitable
esthetic conception, should be worthy of its contents. Nothing but
noblest things should touch it; no breath, unless perfumed with
sandalwood and roses, should be exhaled near it; no hand but that of an
angel should caress it; no heat should warm it but that of the kisses of
two loving lips.

If woman should concede her love only to the honest and industrious man,
if it were possible that man loved no woman but a modest one, we would
see the human family regenerated in the course of a generation, we would
see men educated through voluptuousness. For the prison that terrifies,
for the hell that threatens, we would then substitute the caresses of a
woman, the kisses of a man, as educative energies. Shall this eternally
be a dream? Shall we always threaten and assault men to make them
better? Shall we not have a medicine less cruel than sorrow to cure men
of vice and crime?



Thought may, for very different reasons, now be an ally and now a victim
of love. First instrument of seduction, next to the external form of the
body, thought revives, flares up in contact with the new sentiment, as
occurs with every other energy condensed in our brain; and while it
becomes purer, it strengthens itself, exhibiting some of its rarest,
most exquisite fruits. Many torpid intellects do not awake except by the
kiss of love, and then only to fall back into the previous lethargy the
moment they are left without the stimulus of desire; but healthier
brains, too, rise above themselves when called upon to offer an unusual
tribute on the new altar. For very many, poetry is the song of spring,
and, prosaic and mute before having loved, they return to their prose
and taciturnity when the season of loves is past. As they are men, they
may continue to possess a woman; but being poor in moral energy, in the
May of their life they have only a smile of poetry, lasting as long as
the petals of a rose. Their cold and indolent imagination indulges in a
little flight among the bushes of the garden or the orchard; emits its
feeble trill, then falls wingless on the highroad, plodding until death.
How often a woman, who has been loved by one of these spring lovers and
who remembers having once seen him, an ardent creature, full of
imagination, finds it very difficult to persuade herself that the man
who today is all prose, from head to foot, living between his chocolate
and his nightcap, wearing seven varieties of flannels, and using ten
different kinds of lozenges, once wrote verses and fell on his knees at
her feet, which he covered with bitter tears!

More fortunate men, instead, derive from their loves a continual and
powerful stimulus to the works of thought, which seems to reshape and
renew itself at each different phase of passion, at each change of love.
These influences upon the lives of many artists, poets, and even
statesmen can be studied in their works, and have a stronger power when
the artist, the poet, the head of the state is a woman.

The influence of love upon the forces and forms of thought is twofold,
and is derived from self-love and from the psychical nature of the
person loved. Being a sentiment born during youth or rejuvenated during
old age, it especially excites the imagination and refines the aptitude
for reproducing the beautiful; in a few words, it warms those mental
aptitudes that generally reach their climax at the same age when love
manifests its greatest energies. Very rarely a man can be a poet or a
great artist without having loved intensely, without having had at least
a great capacity for loving. Chastity, forced or voluntary, may conceal
love; but down in the depths of the heart some images, resembling an
angel more than a woman, have sway, rising at every inspiration of
genius, at every song of the lyre, at every touch of the brush, and
reviving or kindling the sacred fire of art. The genius of many among
the greatest poets, artists and writers of the world had love as its
first companion and supreme inspirer; and without this sentiment their
names might be totally unknown to us. The love that is born in a sublime
brain accumulates gigantic forces, and chastity, always imposed by great
passions in their first stage, refines and intensifies them; so that
love seems to transform into genius, and genius dyes with splendid hues
every amorous manifestation. A chaste genius which loves is a legion of
fighting forces, a whole host of winged geniuses, and therefore no
difficult question, no irresistible force can oppose it. Thought, when
the companion of love, offers to it the richest tributes of its energy,
just as the enamored bird sings its most harmonious notes for its
companion, the flower condenses all its perfumes and the fascination of
its most beautiful colors around the nest in which plants love. And
with thought, intensified, transformed, adorned with all its splendors,
goes the stimulus of self-esteem, which in the satisfaction of pride of
the person loved finds always new incitement and new incentive to work.
Nor does the creature loved receive only the tribute, but from the
enthusiastic eloquence with which gratitude is expressed by that
creature, it is manifest that the latter also feels the same inciting
influence, and the most modest and stillest tongue finds splendors of
form and savoriness of style unknown to that day.

A long experience in every country of the world demonstrates the
superiority of woman over man in the epistolary style and especially in
love-letter writing, which is the effect not only of the peculiar nature
of the feminine mind but also of the powerful excitement created in
woman by the stimulus of love. A letter is nearly always an exchange of
affections, and woman more than man feels the intimate relations between
two affections; she loves more and better than we. Man has a hundred
different ways of exerting his talents when excited by love; art,
ambition, science open to him a thousand avenues to manifest his new
energies; to woman, on the contrary, no literary path is open other than
amorous correspondence, and she uses and abuses it in a surprising
manner. In the numberless hecatombs, in the daily pyres of many perfumed
letters, real treasures of art are being destroyed, which should be
saved from the conflagration that consumes so many volumes of words and
phrases; for the commonplace always dominates every field of good and
evil, and commonplace, like all things human, are most loves. Was it not
Balzac who said: "It is recognized that in love all women have some

The eloquence of love, a real song of a gifted mind in love, is not
contradicted by the timid and often dull silence which invariably
accompanies the first declarations, the first skirmishes. Fear in all
its forms desiccates the mouth and the pharynx, suspends nearly
instantaneously the secretions of mucus and saliva, and many are made
physically unable to speak, in the same manner as when a violent mental
perturbation disconcerts ideas and words, so that eloquence is reduced
to an absolute silence, possibly interrupted only by disconnected
phrases. That man so mute in love, however, has hardly returned to the
quiet of his solitary room when he suddenly becomes a new Demosthenes,
and pours out into space or on paper the rivers of a fiery eloquence,
which a few moments before would have proved so opportune and so
beautiful. Happy love, in the stage of attainment, raises all brains
above medium temperature, continually infusing new energies into them.
Even during the intoxication, the thyrsus of the dithyramb never falls
from the hand of the happy mortal who loves or hopes to be loved. When,
on the contrary, our affection vibrates with the notes of sorrow, a
sublime elegy may be produced as the outburst of thought; one can become
poet or insane. Brains better organized are cured of the great sorrows
of the heart with a book, or a musical creation, or a picture; but many
human brains submerge in the hurricane of an unhappy love, and the
statistics of the hospitals for the insane always show a large number of
cases of insanity produced by love, while in the secrecy of the domestic
walls are concealed many other brains withered or fallen into lethargy
through unfortunate loves.

I am writing in these pages a modest essay of general physiology, or, as
it is usually termed, psychology, and have neither the right nor the
strength to undertake the work of literary critic, which still remains
to be done, notwithstanding the very beautiful things written by many
upon the influence of love in art. Not only has every poet and every
artist (and I consider the writer the greatest of all) left in his works
the imprint of his loves, but he has felt and interpreted love in a way
entirely his own, and which in some cases became the style of a school
or an epoch. The woman loved by Byron is quite different from the woman
loved by Burns; Laura is not Beatrice, and the woman dimly discerned by
Leopardi is not Vittoria Colonna. To study the influences of the times
and the mind over the particular mouldings of the loves of great men--in
a few words, to draw the comparative psychology of celebrated loves and
of the amorous types of art--is a gigantic labor, in which the artist,
the psychologist and the literary man should join hands in order to
produce a work worthy of the subject. For me it will suffice to have
prepared in the present essay some materials for this work of the

Love ceases to be an impulse for thought and becomes its first assassin,
not only when it is unhappy, but also when it sinks into the mud of
lust. Chastity is an almost entirely hygienic question, and here we
should mark the place where the hygienic branch shoots out from the
great trunk of physiology. No embrace has ever debased thought when
voluptuousness was only love; but when lasciviousness is stronger than
sentiment and the animal man regrets having given too much of himself to
the future, then the individual rebels against the excessive tribute
paid to the preservation of the species. Then the animal man is diseased
and the moral man has fallen into libertinism. No; nature never punishes
him who wisely obeys its laws, and after the sacrifice of love man is as
happy and intelligent as before, since, in the blessed languor of a
brief repose, nature stills even the pain of weariness.

"Lay waste the entire forest of concupiscence, not one tree alone. When
you shall have felled every tree, cut every branch, you can then
pronounce yourselves free, pure, virtuous," exclaims the Dhammapada, and
science utters the same cry, but instead of the word "concupiscence" it
writes the more precise term "lust." In our organism every function is
so well regulated that we, like the citron, can always bear leaves,
flowers and fruits, provided we do not sacrifice the fruit to the flower
and do not imitate the monstrous flowers with over-expanded petals or
seedless fruits. Wise chastity is the ablest administrator of vital
harmonies and energies; love and labor do not oppose each other, as many
too exacting or hypercritical moralists are continually repeating with
too rigid severity.

I have previously stated that the influence of love over thought is
twofold, and we have still to study its second manifestation, namely,
the influence exerted by the psychical nature of the person loved. Two
creatures who love each other are two bodies differently electrified,
continually exchanging currents of energy in order to reëstablish the
equilibrium of forces and obey the law of universal affinity. But, since
no two identical creatures, no two identical brains, no two identical
sentiments ever exist in nature, it follows that, of the two thoughts
brought face to face by love, one exercises an influence of attraction
greater than the other, and consequently one of the two gives more than
it receives. Generally the stronger mind exercises a greater
fascination; and as the mind of man is oftener greater than that of
woman, the latter more easily follows the ideas, the theories, the
intellectual tastes of man. It is not always true, however, that a
greater attraction betokens a greater mental force, since some peculiar
characteristics of certain intellects render them more fascinating,
their contact more dangerous and richer in elective affinity. Thought
may be robust, original; but if rigid, rude and without any weapon of
conquest, it lives alone, in solitary loftiness, and the person loved
contemplates it with admiration, but feels no attraction. It is like a
star, too cold and too distant for us to desire. Some other talents, on
the contrary, seem to be magnetized, so strongly do they adhere to men
and things; and when we approach them, we feel ourselves absorbed and,
after their contact, carry away some influence of contagion, of
fascination, of imitation. These magnetic brains combine with the other
amorous seductions another and most powerful one, that of subjugating
and bending the mind of the person loved, so that to the sweet chain of
affection is added the chain of thought.

A most peculiar and little studied influence of fascinating talents is
seen in some women, who add to their other admirable qualities the power
of conquering the thought of men whose minds are stronger and swifter
than theirs. Living with them, breathing their moral atmosphere, it
becomes impossible, even for the most tenacious opposers of the ideas of
others, not to think as they think, not to write as they write, not to
acquire certain psychical tastes which constitute their delight. The
style of certain writers, the manner of certain painters have
unconsciously yielded to these slow and mysterious influences; and the
masses, investigating the origin of these esthetic mutations, seek it in
mysterious causes and in evolutions of art and science, while, instead,
they have a humbler but more natural source. The style and manner
changed when the head was resting on the bosom of a blonde friend, or
the hand playing among the curly labyrinths of raven hair. In the
history of arts and of literature, mention of these influences is nearly
always omitted because nearly always they are unknown to the biographer,
and often unknown to the artist and the poet who was subject to them.
Woman always confesses, and frequently with pride, that she has moulded
her thought on that of her friend; man hardly acknowledges this, and if
warned by criticism, rebels and feels hurt by such an odd accusation.
How and when should the king of the universe ever change the style and
the direction of his thought through the influence of a kiss or a
caress? "Mine, and only mine!" exclaims the man who loves. "His, and
only his!" always sighs the woman who loves; and I must, although with
different words, have frequently said the same thing in this book.

It is not only the robust and attracting nature of human brains that
measures their various influences in the struggles and the caresses of
love, but it is the degree that causes the high influences of thought to
be differently felt. The more one loves, the more one yields to the
fascination of another's talent; the more one loves, the more one is
disposed to abdicate one's own ideas and esthetic tastes in order to
assume the ideas and the tastes of the person loved. Man, proudly
awkward, constantly repeats in every tone that in politics, morality,
religion, woman thinks always like her lover; and by this he deludes
himself into believing that he affirms with the most eloquent proof the
uncontrasted superiority of his mind. However, in our case he fails to
mention a reason, most honorable for woman and little for us: woman
generally feels more deeply the influence of a virile thought, not only
because she is weaker than we, but because she loves us much more than
we ever could love. She sacrifices instantly and willingly even
self-pride to love; man rarely and with difficulty makes this sacrifice.
"She is silly, but beautiful," we say, feeling very happy. Woman, on the
contrary, says oftener than we: "How can Democracy be respectable if he
insults it every day? And how cannot Socialism be a sacred thing if it
is his religion?" Man is always right for the woman who loves him,
because she can seldom love without esteem. We, indeed, allow ourselves
to love with all our senses a woman whom we cannot or must not hold in
estimation. This difference would be sufficient to demonstrate that, in
the psychical evolution of the two sexes, woman is ahead of us in the
esthetic of sentiment, as we outrun her in intellectual development.
Woman has already attained perfect love, which is the fusion of all
human elements, the selection of selections; we see the concubine even
in the sweetheart and in the wife; and the highest talent does not
disdain to pour out the molten metal of its thoughts into the mould of a
Venus who hardly could be called heavenly. In matters of love we are
disciples oftener than masters on the field of sentiment.

Whatever be the reason for which a brain in love bends its love
companion with a larger power of influence, the tyrant, too, undergoes
the influence of the victim. Two thoughts cannot impunely be enclosed in
the same atmosphere, they cannot follow the orbit of the same planetary
system. The one gives much, and the other gives little; the one receives
more than it gives, the other gives more than it receives; but they both
alter and exchange influences and energies. This is a consequence of the
most elementary laws of physics: two loves and two brains are two
systems of forces; and, however powerful one may be in comparison with
the other, they both must undergo, in their contacts, a molecular
modification of their movements. To the direct influence of love add the
automatic power of imitation, the tyranny of habit, the epicurism of the
compromise of ideas and of conscience, and many other minor causes, and
you will see how inexorably thought must change when we think in two.

Not all intellectual phenomena undergo the influence of love in equal
measure, but those feel it most who by contacts and origins are nearer
to the energies of sentiment or are interwoven with them, constituting
binary bodies, composed of affection and thought. Religion and morality
are more easily modified than esthetic tastes, and these change more
frequently than philosophical theories or the method of study. There is
a certain architecture in our brains that constitutes their framework
and can be destroyed only by death or insanity. Against it love is
powerless; furthermore, certain intellectual antitheses between a man
and a woman are enough to render love impossible, even when the sympathy
of forms and a certain community of affections violently rouse the
sovereign of sentiments.

To scorn influences of love over thought may be the fruit of pride, but
it is also, more frequently, an incontrovertible proof of crass
ignorance,--pride and ignorance which we shall bitterly expiate,
because, if we today may be contented with the beauty of form, and if
robust youth, comforted later by coquetry, may prolong the life of love
founded on voluptuousness only, the day will come, sooner or later, in
which, when the great disparity of brains shall destroy every hope of
common intelligence, we shall find ourselves in the presence of this
horned dilemma: either to renounce dual thought--horrible amputation of
intellectual life--or lower ourselves more every day in order that the
voice of a person who speaks in a subdued tone may reach our ear. Hence
a continual toil, a weary and sad exertion, the impairment of lofty
intellects and the disorders of weak brains; hence the inevitable death
of a love which should have submerged only with the last plank of
shipwrecked beauty; hence the veiled polygamy of our modern society,
profoundly hypocritical, because it is so impatient that it wants to
run, when it has only the strength to walk slowly; because it is so
petulant that it wants to jump while its legs are still tied by the
sacred straps of the middle ages.

We must all inexorably yield to the influence of thought in love. If our
robust brain can elevate in some little measure the smaller one of the
person we love, we must always descend from our lofty plane, lowering
the level of our thought and wasting many of the nobler forces of human
progress. A certain disparity of levels is inevitable, but it should
never be excessive, because, in the continual efforts to equalize them,
in the sorrowful struggles to reach them, a great part of love may be
wretchedly dissolved.



This chapter may to many readers seem utterly useless in a psychological
work, since chastity is a question of hygiene or a negation of love; and
in any case, someone could whisper in my ear: "_Non est hic locus_." Let
the enemies of chastity, or those who do not know what chastity is, jump
this chapter, which will be among the shortest in the book, and allow
us, when we speak of light, to say at least what shade means.

Chastity is the shadow of love, and the most enthusiastic among the
adorers of the sun seeks always the friendly shade of a tree where,
among the labyrinths of the knotty roots, or on the soft carpet of a
meadow, he can slowly drink in the light of which he went in search; he,
too, must love a tranquil shade from which to contemplate without injury
the distant splendors of the supreme father of every energy and every
heat. Even in the desert of sand called the Sahara, or in the desert of
grass called the Pampas, man feels the necessity of resting in the
shadow of his camel, or of his horse, to brood voluptuously over the
long and fiery suns absorbed. Repose you, also, then in the shadow of
the hair, of the eyebrows of your sweetheart to relish the long memories
of the lightning flashes of love.

Chastity is not only repose, but also a wise and powerful creation of
new energies and infinite poetry. Voluptuousness is a hurricane or
thunderbolt, but always a superior force which brutally rends and
brutally bends the tree of life, dashing the leaves against the ground
that nourishes them. Chastity is a boundless temple, in which the fresh
and silent atmosphere dries the sweat of the struggles, refreshes the
sultry air of the battle and restores calm to every turbulent and
stormy brow. The chastity of two lovers is a real temple in which the
animal man collects himself, prays and invokes an unknown god that he
may make him an angel; and love is purified, cleansed of all mire, and
soars on its wings to the highest regions of the ideal. Desire, when
subdued without violence but without hesitation by chastity, lowers its
eyes, bows its head and kneels before the statue of love, and, quivering
but subdued, caresses with its long neck and warm hair the soft knees,
like an enamored swan fondled by the gentle hand of a nude but chaste

Have you ever noticed two lovers who, sitting on one chair, read the
same book together, while a little child, the fruit of their first
loves, sits at their feet, chattering and prattling? When that little
angel raises its head too petulantly or screams too boisterously, the
fondling hand of the mother or that of the father will silence him. Thus
must desire long remain under restraint at the feet of the two lovers,
obeying an amorous voice and not the rod of the schoolmaster of old.

No more odious virtue exists than chastity taught by the intolerant and
often not very chaste prude; no more delicate, more sublime virtue than
chastity taught by love and by the noblest faculties of the human mind.
An immodest love, an unchaste love may be happy for a time; it may laugh
and smile, let itself be carried away by the maelstrom of voluptuousness
into a revel of unrestrained dances; but it is always an inebriated
love, and inebriety ends quickly and, generally, very badly. Chaste love
is ardent but serene; a love always armed and always cheerful; a
sapphire illuminated by electric light. Self-imposed chastity is a
hidden form of onanism, disease or mania; the evidence of something
lacking in a man, or of a violent amputation, of a cruel mutilation. The
free and sweet chastity of two lovers is a most wise lust, which
sacrifices the daily bread to the splendors of a Sardanapalian banquet;
an education of senses and affections; a most holy worship of the
noblest joys of thought; one of the most precious gems that can adorn
the crown of life. Blessed are those who know how to be chaste in this
manner, to turn love into an energy that educates and etherealizes, and
who find in it the greater coefficient of noble ambitions and
magnanimous purposes!

And you, women, you who have the "intellect of love," teach chastity to
us, for whom this holiest of virtues is difficult to acquire. Prize
dearly this delicate mission, because you will be the first to enjoy its
fruits. Through an ignoble and vulgar calculation, you prefer to disarm
your lovers in order that they may not strike other victims than
you,--perhaps, also, that they may not hurt their own hands; but your
calculation is groundless. From the nausea of satiety more infidelity
has sprung than from the prudent restraint of desires; and to leave a
desire always lighted, and a flower in your garden always untouched, is
one of the most precious secrets for reigning eternally, for being
always loved.

There is an absolute chastity imposed by the cruel laws of sects or of
society, but this is not the place to speak of it. And there is another
absolute chastity imposed by ambition, by a misinterpreted virtue, or
even by egotism; a chastity which, at the bottom, is nothing else than
self-idolatry, a rabid concentration of forces to reach lofty or
insensate ends. The fruit which human voluptuousness reaps is, however,
generally beneath its desire or expectation, and nature wreaks its
vengeance in a thousand ways upon those who outrage it. In many cases,
however, true, sincere chastity, imposed by an iron will, is an
admirable thing, deserving a place among the rarest and most valuable
things in a museum. Not one case in a hundred of those upon which
history has bestowed veneration deserves the praises which are
habitually offered to them, because many of these forms of chastity are
false, or easy through impotency; they are, therefore, false virtues.
Other chastities are as sterile as the sands of the desert, they are
clouds that rise without shape and without aim in the imagination of the
human heart, and vanish without leaving any trace. Be that as it may,
they do not belong to the history of love, and to discuss them here
would entitle the gentle reader to whisper in my ear a second time:
"_Non est hic locus_."



Man and woman can love with the same degree of force, but they will
never love in the same manner, since to the altar of their passion they
carry two greatly different natures beside their different genetic
missions. As long as there shall live on our planet a man and a woman,
they will eternally exchange and counterchange this innocent reproach:
"Ah, you do not love me as I love you!" And the lament will be forever
true, because woman will never love like man, and man will never be
capable of loving like woman. In a complete essay on the comparative
psychology of the two sexes we could delineate the distinctive
characteristics of virile love and feminine love, and I may try it some
day; be it sufficient for me here to sketch in a general way the two
figures of passion, one in essence, but rendered so variform by the two
different natures called Adam and Eve.

Listen to two spontaneous cries, uttered by two nations very distant and
well-nigh uncivilized, and you will find the first lines of a physiology
of the sexual characters of love. The Munda-Kols of Chota Nagpur have
some popular songs which express the psychical difference between man
and woman. The women sing:

     "Singbonga from the beginning has made us smaller than you,
     therefore we obey you. Even if it were not so and from the
     beginning we had overburdened you with work, still we would not be
     your equals. To you God has given with two hands, to us with one;
     and for this we do not plough the ground."

And the men sing to the women:

     "As God has given us with two hands, so has He made us bigger than
     you. Have we made ourselves big? He Himself has divided us into
     big and small. If you do not obey now the word of man, you
     certainly disobey the word of God. He himself has made us bigger
     than you."

And flying to a very distant land, we find a Kabyle song, in which a
chorus of young women alternates with a chorus of sturdy youths.

     _The women_: "Let him who wants to be loved by a woman march with
     his weapons; let him put the butt-end of the gun to his cheek and
     cry: 'Come to me, O maidens!'"

     _The men_: "You do well to love us. God sends us war and we will
     die, and keep at least the memory of the happiness that you have
     given us."

Rising from the Munda-Kols and the Kabyles to the higher and more
civilized races, we always find, however, an echo of this wild cry of
nature, in which man proclaims his strength or imposes it, and woman
acquiesces in or invokes it. Hence the very unequal part of joys and
sorrows, of rights and duties, which man allows his companion in the
world of love; hence an ever increasing usurpation of joys and rights by
the strong as we descend to the lower strata of humanity; hence
civilized nations continually struggling to divide good and evil in a
more equitable proportion between the two sexes, which still so unfairly
share light and darkness, joys and sorrows.

Where muscular strength is the criterion of hierarchies, where it
constitutes the first of human forces, the difference between man and
woman in the rights and joys of love is immense, and woman becomes
little more than a domestic animal which is bought, sold or killed
according to the necessity of the moment. Setting civilization aside,
polygamy exists where morality is uncertain and lust is ardent; and
woman, guarded as a treasure of voluptuousness, falls morally lower than
in a wandering tribe of nude but monogamous savages, where woman is the
companion of the labors and joys of man. For this, perhaps, Solomon used
to cry out in his harem: "And who will find me a strong woman?" Among
us, also, woman does not play in love the part assigned to her by
nature; and here also she can without scruple class herself among the
oppressed who await their "jacquerie" or their constitution; here also
she is a legitimate pretender who, by right or might, will have some day
to conquer her place in the sun.

But I will speak of rights in another chapter; here we must remain
within the confines of physiology, which still is, or should be, the
legitimate mother of every human legislation. If anthropology should put
in our hands all the moral and intellectual elements which separate man
from woman, then science could most safely establish in its laws and
customs the right place for each sex, without any danger of usurpation,
abuse or imposition from any quarter.

Nature has given woman the greatest part of love, and if this difference
could be expressed with figures, I would say that we were allotted one
fifth, or one fourth at most, of love's territory. Only a woman could
write Mme. de Staël's sublime words: "Undoubtedly, in the mysteries of
nature, to love and still to love is what we have retained of our
celestial inheritance." Neither civilization in any of its most varied
phases, nor customs in their numberless forms, nor impositions of
tyrants, nor power of genius could alter this immutable law. In the rank
and fetid hut of the Eskimo, or in the palace of the prince, woman gives
all of herself to man, first as daughter, then as lover, as wife, as
mother. She is the great placenta of human beings, the bosom from which
we draw blood, voluptuousness, love, every delight of our soul, every
heat that warms us. Woe to us, if we should poison the source of human
life with a pseudo-education; woe to us, if we should deny Eve the most
sacred of rights! For woman, love is the first, the uppermost necessity,
and all her organism and her psychology are softened and moulded by the
influence of love. Van Helmont said too rudely, "_Tota mulier in
utero_," but thinkers of all epochs applauded the aphorism of the Dutch
physician. Woman physically desires for long time; she possesses for
long time and can enjoy her conquest every day, every hour, and turn it
into a warm and scented atmosphere in which she lives as in a nest;
woman nurses in her bosom an angel who always ardently desires and who
does not quench in her the affection for her companion; she moulds the
man, nourishes and caresses him, and as the years pass she sees herself,
her flesh, her loves transformed into a group of little angels who dance
around her, who are bits of her heart, petals of a rose fallen from the
flower of her beauty, all calling her "mother," which has the meaning of
"placenta of life." From the ardent embrace of the man whom she loves
she flits to the endearments of her little children; voluptuousness does
not fatigue, nor ardor wither, nor passion weary her; she is all, from
her hair to her feet, imbued with love, the fluid that flows in her
through every vein and moistens every fiber; so that when she is
deprived of it she is like the tree shattered by the hurricane and which
sees every leaf wither, every flower fall. The love of man is a
lightning that flashes, thunders and vanishes; the love of woman is a
ray of sun which, slow and warm, penetrates her heart and fecundates
her; and she absorbs it, languidly and voluptuously, and every little
root of her sentiments, her joys, her thoughts imbibes and feasts upon
it; so that, even after the sun has disappeared, its fruitful rays
remain, hidden in the earth which it has warmed.

Many have contradicted my opinion, which I expressed several years ago
in my "Physiology of Pleasure," that woman has received from nature a
larger cup to drink at the inexhaustible spring of the voluptuousness of
love; and inasmuch as joy cannot be measured or weighed yet, the problem
must wait for its solution a long time still. Nobody, however, can deny
that, lasciviousness and sensibility being equal in both sexes, Eve can
thirst much longer than man, and, without experiencing fatigue, realize
the happy dream of a voluptuousness which, changing its form, is
eternally renewed. But while for many men voluptuousness is all that is
in love, for a woman, be she the most libertine among the sensual women,
it is only a sweet episode. And if you do not believe such a bold
assertion, send heralds through the whole civilized world and assemble
all those, men and women, who can love and invite them to a singular
love tournament; ask them whether they would accept an eternal and most
faithful love without voluptuousness in exchange for voluptuousness
without love. For every hundred women who will vote for love, ten,
perhaps five, men will decide for the sublime refusal of the embrace.

O you, all of you who have studied the heart of woman in the most abject
places and believe that you are making your companion happy because you
give her luxuriousness and gold and dresses, remember that woman wants
to love above all, to be warmed by the spirit of man, to lean all upon
the faithful arm of man, to feel that she is needed by a companion of
whom she wants to be proud; she wants to be the first for someone. You
may behold a woman unhappy amid the splendors of luxury, caressed by the
sweet affection of a husband, satisfied in all her desires; and you may
see another happy in poverty, amid the storms of life, oppressed by the
brutal whims of a lover. "Mysteries of the heart," you say. "A very
natural thing," I say. The first woman does not love her husband; the
second loves her lover. This is another essential difference between
man's and woman's loves: man wants to be loved; woman wants, above all,
to love. The sentiment which burns in her is more active, more expansive
than in man. Little she demands of her companion, because she is too
rich and her affection is too strong to need the support of self-esteem
to fight the battles of life. Certain it is that perfect love is the sum
of these two most beautiful things, "I love--I am loved"; but often
woman is satisfied when able to exclaim, "I love," while man needs only
to expand his chest and say, "I am loved."

Do not ask woman why she loves. She can love such ugly, poor, deformed
creatures as to astonish and horrify us. If that creature can only be
hers, she will know how to adorn him with the flowers of imagination,
illumine him with the brilliant light which comes from her heart. When
woman loves she almost never doubts of being loved. Has Cæsar ever
doubted of winning a battle? Has Napoleon ever doubted of being
immortal? So it is with woman's love; she will creep like a reptile at
the feet of her companion, or roar like a lion which wants what it
wants; she will be a pet rabbit caressed in the bosom of a child, or an
eagle that carries aloft the prey in its claws; but her love will be
reciprocated. The ardent faith of the neophyte, the proud faith of
infallibility, the immeasurable arrogance of the fortunate conqueror,
are virtues that are more frequently found in woman's loves, more rarely
in man's.

In order to love, woman needs only find talent, strength and even crime
in the man she wants to have for herself; she can love the ugliest, most
wicked, most deformed of men. She elevates every man she touches; she
believes she can heat even the ice. Man loves the beautiful above all
and pardons everything else; man often lowers even the highest loves.
Woman carries even luxuriousness aloft into the big regions of
sentiment; man lowers even affection into the mire of lasciviousness.
Pardon my cynical phrase, but do not reject it, because it is too true:
man in his loves is more of a brute than of an angel; woman is more of
an angel than of a human being.

An essay on the comparative psychology of love cannot be written unless
based upon a complete physiology of the two sexes. Every thought, every
word, every gesture of man or woman in love receives the imprint of the
sex; and when the characters are inverted a most disgusting spectacle
takes place and we behold a caricature, a monster, or even a crime. At
times, however, women of manly inclinations love manly, and men of
docile disposition manifest in their loves sublime tenderness, softness
and sentiments which should be found in woman only. We are again in the
domain of pathology, but the psychical forms may, from the unusual
combination of figures and strange coloring, derive an esthetic element
which astonishes us and invites us to meditation.

However variform the sexual elements of love may be, our modern
civilization is stained by a most heinous sin because we allow woman,
who is the true and great priestess of love, but a small tribute and a
trivial part. We have for ourselves ambition, glory, science, the morbid
thirst for gain; we have granted to man all the energies of sentiment,
all the conquests of genius, all the victories of passion; to woman we
have refused every nourishment of heart and thought, representing to her
that she must only love. After having robbed her of nearly every field
of human activity, we have left the garden of love to her as her only
possession, her only solace. And when this poor prisoner, with all the
ardent curiosity of her nature, wished to pick the flowers and the
scented herbs of her garden, when she proceeded to cultivate the garden
in her own way, we interfered there, too, setting up the posters of our
restrictive regulations and erecting the fences of our laws: "That
flower-bed is reserved; that flower must not be picked. No
thoroughfare." The selection of the plants to cultivate must also be
made by us,--by us, who possess the orchard and the field, the meadow
and the forest, the ice-fields of the Alps and the water of the ocean.
Thus we have a woman slave who murmurs and conspires against us; thus we
have made sterile and barren the garden where a proud and noble lady
would have splendidly received us, where we could rest from our glorious
labors; thus, instead of being welcomed by a lady of our station, in
gilded halls, brilliantly decorated with gems, we have a woman prisoner
or slave who reclines her head on our knees and weeps. We have measured
the bread and wine of her life as the jailer does with the thief; and,
tyrants in love as well, we have kept the lion's share both in
voluptuousness and in the free choice of the sovereign affection. But
every injustice must be paid for, just as the equilibrium is
reëstablished every time it has been disturbed; and the continual
deceptions, only too well justified, of our slaves, seraglio
conspiracies and palace plots, are every day evidence that we erect upon
a false foundation the edifice of family, and loudly proclaim that it
will soon be necessary to give woman what belongs to her, the free
choice of loves, the equality of rights in the affections as well as in
the family.



In studying the morning crepuscules of Love, we have involuntarily
outlined the first phases of Love. We have seen him timid and spasmodic,
exerting himself between the swaddling clothes of infancy and the first
weapons of arrogant youth, like a boy warrior armed with a wooden sword
and a pop-gun. During the age of adolescence this sovereign affection
shows the most sublime puerilities, the maddest hysterias, the most
fanciful vows of an infinite without limits of time or space. Side by
side with the most ideal aspirations we find, however, the impetuous and
automatic outbreaking of the first lusty actions; and a youthful
imagination, inflaming the first fevers of lust, agitates and shakes the
tender and fragile organism. Happy those who in the first storms of life
find a friendly hand as a guide and solace to preserve them from
thousands of dangers which threaten health and morality at the same

The first, impatient acts of lust in adolescence are generally followed
in elect natures by a period of reaction, during which heroic vows of
chastity are made together with extraordinary endeavors to learn to hate
woman. Just at that time, in the diary of the boy who is about to become
a man, we may read these vows and aspirations for chastity which I
literally reproduce here for you:

     " ... Tremendous dilemma of life; the cosmos less the woman--the
     woman less the cosmos."

     "I have been able to pass an entire day without embracing a woman
     and without any fervid aspiration for her; and yet I have passed a
     very happy day! Try and do without the evil-born race of Eve, for
     all time."

     "I took a seat near a Creole young lady and found her beautiful,
     inebriating, voluptuous. I thought of a paradise of delights in
     looking at her, and wavered. The most Creole embrace in the world,
     however, is not worth the cosmic synthesis as I have conceived it
     and as I will expose it to men."

     "No pleasure is shorter than the erotic delirium; no sacrifice more
     fruitful of useful consequences than the disdain for this

     "Instinct, with the fury of its power, is for you the outward
     manifestation of pleasure in its most attractive aspect; it is only
     a faculty of yours, and tends to draw into its whirlpool all your

     "It is only one of your faculties and that which you have in common
     with the lowest creatures at the bottom of the series of creation,
     and this faculty wants to be the first; the first and only for a
     few moments; but in these moments the least noble of your powers
     wants to, and can, take a great part of yourself, of your _ego_. It
     is a sovereign who rules only for a few seconds, but who has power
     enough during the period of his reign to destroy half of the state
     and leave his throne upon a heap of ruins, firebrands and ashes; it
     is easy to destroy, but from a mass of ruins and ashes to rebuild a
     state is a hopeless task."

These few expressions are but the thousandth reproduction of a psychical
phenomenon which is reiterated in all men when they pass from the
threshold of adolescence into the gardens of youth. An historical fact
and a proverb embodied this truth in two great monuments: in the Council
of Trent those who voted for celibacy were the youngest priests; and the
French language has a proverb which says: "If youth but knew; could age
but do!"--a vote and a proverb deserving a volume of meditations, and
springing forth from the deepest roots of the human heart.

Exuberance of forces prepares us for the battle; but, at the same time,
it leaves us calm and serene, because true force is always calm. Rarely
a braggart is strong, and a frequent intimation of one's own energy is
nearly always a symptom of decline and weakness. The invalid who fears
death often says that he feels very well, even before being asked about
his health, and endeavors to delude himself and others with respect to
the danger that threatens him.

A young man is, in love, always more timid than an adult or an old man;
and this fact originates from so many and mysterious causes as to occur
in many animals as well. Birds, among others, the older they are, the
quicker they go at their amorous undertaking. A young man, however deep
his love may be, still trembles. He is a ripe and fragrant fruit, but
the rude contacts of the gardener and the store have not deprived him
yet of his untouched varnish. He has foregone the useless and too
unequal struggles against love and flung himself into its arms; but he
still trembles when the currents of the god pass through his body and
cause his nerves to vibrate. He is a priest initiated into the mysteries
of the temple, but still trembling when in the _sanctum sanctorum_, and
a gentle and sublime timidity tempers in him the too virile expression
of strength. Before our eyes we have one of the most sublime pictures of
the moral world: the apex of beauty without the mannerism of pride, the
maximum of strength without a shadow of convulsion; an ever lively
force, a serene but definite energy, ready to spring, ready for action
and reaction.

A young man with a good physical constitution belongs entirely to love,
and love is the property of youth. All the energies of sentiment, all
the powers of thought at that age are moulded by that sovereign
affection, which absorbs and carries away everything into its hot and
turbulent whirlpools. He is less than a eunuch who does not love at
twenty, because even a eunuch can love, and there is an amorous
sterility which has its seat in the brain and in the heart, and which
is more humiliating than any mutilation of organs, than any lack of
functions. If, at twenty, a man does not encounter a woman in the social
world, he loves the picture or statue of a woman, he loves the heroine
of a story or of a poem, and the young girl adores the angels whose
wings flutter around her virginal bed.

At twenty, one should possess the physical energy to love a hundred
women, and even the most modest maiden finds in the air, at every step,
a spark darting from her contact with a man. Notwithstanding, however, a
gigantic and fruitful possibility of polygamy, man and woman are, in
their robust youth, essentially monogamous, and in their most senseless
idolatries they are still monotheists. One god, one temple, one religion
only. One must be born with singular perversity to be polygamous from
the first steps in love, and the young girl who already loves more than
one man at a time must have been conceived in a bawdy-house by the
kneading of the blood and the flesh of a bacchante.

Yet against this virtuous, energetic, holy monogamy there rise on all
sides enormous obstacles; formidable adversaries move against it from
every quarter, opposing the first steps. Adam has found his Eve; Eve has
seen her Adam; but in the embrace of those two lovers, how many enemies,
how many barriers, how many abysses! Adam loves Eve; Eve loves Adam;
what can be more simple, what affinity more intense, what affection more
inevitable than their union? Still before they can embrace each other,
these two unfortunate creatures must ask permission of prejudice,
hypocrisy, conventionalities, hygiene, morality, religion, and above
all, finance; and there is scarcely one chance out of a hundred that the
answer will be a "yes" from all these superior authorities that have the
right of vetoing their affection. The nightingale has seen and loved his
modest companion; in the deep shadow of a mysterious alder he has sung
to her his tenderest song and infused his love into her. Today they
sleep, happy in their love, and tomorrow they will find flexuous
branches and soft moss to weave their nest. No need of civil matrimony,
of religious matrimony, of financial matrimony. But woe to the man who
shall rely upon nature to have his nest prepared! The morrow of his
loves would be cursed by hunger; and scrofula and rachitis would kill
his children, born of a union which lacked the consent of finance.

From the clash of two contrary forces there arises a decomposition of
movements, a transformation of energies; and this phenomenon occurs in
love when, pure, virginal, powerful and hardly issued from the hot bosom
of nature, it finds the sharp rocks of social obstacles, and, like a
wave, breaks against them, raises a mass of foam and withdraws dragging
away a congeries of stones, splinters and mud scattered by the turbulent
clashing of so many forces and resistances. Would fortune that in that
first shock love should suffer nothing but sorrow! Tears have blessed
thousands of loves and bathed them in a sweet dew; very few have they
killed. But in the dashing of the first love against the cruel rock of
social resistances many new forces, all of them ruthless, spring from
the decomposition of the two contrary motions, and a thousand
compromises with conscience stain in its swaddling clothes the new-born
love, humiliating it under the shame of an original sin.

The very first compromise with his own conscience on the part of a pure
and enamored youth, when prevented by society from being monogamous, is
that of decomposing love into sentiment and voluptuousness; thus he
strives to preserve his heart pure and to erect one temple only, while
sacrifices are offered to lust on the hundred altars of the wandering

And still this decomposition of love seems to the most refined and most
virtuous lovers a very wise move, a miracle of art, the ideal of
morality coupled with the most urgent needs of a heart and senses; and
after a few skirmishes and lamentations every one adapts himself to this
compromise and tries to make himself as comfortable as possible, as
though in an uncomfortable carriage in which one must journey for a long
time. The most considerate, the most virtuous lovers, however, are
continually looking forward to the fortunate day when all hypocrisy
will be eliminated and physical and moral loves united will give them
the right to build a nest in which sentiment and voluptuousness will
keep faithful company. And in the meantime we just go on between a
reticence and a lie; the heart to the wife of another, the body to the

Those young men who adapt themselves too easily to this ignominious and
degrading compromise with their conscience are cruelly punished for
their crime, since they will not know the richest and most splendid
treasures of youthful love. Do not lie, do not betray; do not seek your
love in the mire, but in the sky; and then abandon your heart and senses
to the wave that carries you to paradise. Inhale all the perfumes, pick
all the flowers of a garden over which no winter breeze ever blows, and
where for every petal that falls a hundred new corollas blossom. Be
rich, be recklessly rich; be gods at least once in your life: nature
concedes a day of spring even to the most miserable creature and weaves
a garland on the head of the lowliest of men. Remember, there is no
coffer in which an hour of sunlight can be kept, no artifice of chemical
science that can preserve a blooming rose.

The fortunate young man who has not subjected his love to the process of
decomposition we have described loves ardently, recklessly, splendidly.
His love is a sunny day in May, without clouds, without chills, without
sorrows; it is a feast where weariness, fatigue and delusions are
unknown. He lives because he loves, and he loves because he lives. He
burns his incense to the goddess, but he is chaste and knows very little
of lasciviousness. He is sometimes so pure as to call a blush on the
face of a woman who, being in her thirties, already loves too knowingly.
He neither measures nor weighs; and who has ever dared to reduce to a
mathematical formula the force of a thunderbolt or the kilogrammeters of
an earthquake? And the loves of a young man are thunderbolts or
earthquakes. A young man is not very jealous; he is less so, in any
case, than the adult and the old; he is too confident, too happy to
doubt; and, besides, he has no time! His lips are wreathed in a
perpetual smile; a golden ray of sunlight rests on his brow like a halo
of bliss. There is no tomorrow for him except under the form of a
continuation of the happiness of today; he does not remember the past,
and in good faith believes himself to have always loved his goddess,
even when he did not know her. He believes in inborn loves, as the
philosopher of old used to believe in congenital ideas. O happy youth!

If the young man is the most powerful, the most ardent lover, the adult
is the most skillful. The use and abuse of life have somewhat dulled his
spirit, almost extinguished the flames of passion; but no excessive
impatience, no needless timidity, no sudden explosions of desire oppose
any obstacle to the blissful perfection of his loves. He loves with
shrewdness, with passion, with a most subtle art; he is a hundred times
more libertine than the youth, but also more delicate, richer in
exquisite tastes belonging to the world of thought. The youthful lover
is a nude and often ferocious savage; the adult has become civilized
from long experience and is clothed with the blandishments of his art.
His most spontaneous sympathies are for unripe fruit, for the flowers
still enclosed within the untouched and thorny calyx of innocence and
ignorance; but he likes to love the independent woman as well, the widow
and the matron; he is essentially eclectic. His joys are scarcer than in
the days of youth, but they are more precious, because rendered more
savory by a certain economy almost verging on avarice. He knows that his
hours are numbered and follows with a caress every coin he spends;
before parting with it, he bestows upon it a look of affection and
regret. Rich in memories, but poor in hopes, he concentrates all his
cares, patience and attention on the present. He is the ablest, the
wisest master of love; and when health and freshness of heart do not
desert him, he can awaken ardent and lasting passions and preserve them
for a long time. Woman much less than man is bent on inquiring about
white hair and birth certificates; and if she only feels that she is
loved deeply and ardently, she willingly forgets half a score of years,
and more, of the age of her companion.

In the love of the adult man for the young woman one feels always a
benevolent and sympathetic protection, an almost paternal affection,
full of tenderness and generous impulses. This characteristic tends to
deprive mature love of some of the warmest and most voluptuous
expansions, to cool down the volcanic explosions of youthful love; but
the paternal affection, which might easily tend to become authority and
eliminate the perfect equality between the two lovers, is tempered in
adult man by a deep and hidden mistrust of himself.

The young man asks for love on his knees, but knows that he is
legitimately entitled to it, and often from the humble position of a
beggar of alms, prostrated in the dust, he leaps to his feet, demanding
with the force of beauty, genius, passion, that which he could not
obtain by humility. A mature man, on the contrary, has lost many rights,
and his requests are made with greater constraint, with a reserve full
of grace and delicacy; he often implores with a tenderness so ardent and
a tone so supplicatory that it is difficult to answer with a refusal.
The continual alternation of an authority that teaches and an authority
that implores gives the adult love the most characteristic hue, the most
conspicuous mark. And when poor nature, medicated by art, has succeeded
in attaining love, the precious affection firmly fixes itself on it and
thrusts its roots into the deepest recesses of the heart. The adult has
tenacious passions, and none is more faithful in love than he; often,
conditions being equal, he is the best husband, and not only through
egotism does the bridegroom seek a bride a few years younger than
himself. Man grows old later than woman, and two ignorant and very young
people seldom wed without exposing themselves to the most serious

The woman of thirty, also, loves with modesty, with deep tenderness,
with religious fidelity, with avaricious sagacity.

The man who is growing old is the trunk of a tree on which every day a
branch withers, and from which every gust of wind detaches a handful of
yellow leaves. When the entire tree is dead, then upon the ruins of love
rises an implacable hatred for those who love and are loved; the cruel
domestic inquisitions and a posthumous, ridiculous ostentation of forced
continence or mummified modesty will then poison the existence of the
intolerant old man, who avenges himself upon the young people for his
misfortune in not being longer able to love. It is an inexorable law
which condemns those old men to mystic and wrathful meditations, because
in all times and in all countries the last spark of lust serves to light
the bilious taper on the altar of superstition. Most unfortunate is the
poor young girl who must have as a confidante of her first loves an
irascible and bigoted old woman, to whom love is a synonym of lechery
and affection a sin. Less monstrous and less cruel is the deformity of a
Chinese foot than the contortions which a youthful love must undergo in
the hooked and yellow clutches of intolerant bigotry.

Man, however, is a tree so robust and vigorous that it rarely dies all
at once, and in the old man there often remains flourishing the only
branch of lust. It is then that the economy of the adult turns into real
avarice, lust becomes lasciviousness, and love assumes unheard-of forms,
worthy of Tiberius and Caligula. The lust of the old man, warmed by the
stifling atmosphere of vice, is like a mushroom produced by the fetid
artifices of horticulture and bears fruits which give out in the
distance the stench of the manure in which they were raised. Nor can the
name of love be given to those lusts, but they should be given that of
erotic mercature, of prostitution of innocence to the calculus of
probability of life, or to the expectation of an inheritance. And yet
some powerful lovers maintain ghosts of desire until their extreme
decrepitude and, like eels, go on rubbing their frothy paunches in the
hot mire of the lowest social strata; to their last breath, with their
ossified hands they strip of leaves the rosebushes and purchase at
fabulous prices an "I love you" icier than snow, more deceitful than

The man of high type, too, can love until old age; but then, lust being
spent, every right of conquest having been abandoned, love soars to the
highest spheres of the ideal world and becomes a sublime contemplation
of feminine beauty. Whether before the maiden and heroic greatness of
Joan of Arc, or the startling sensuality of the statue of Phryne by
Barzaghi, hearing the lively prattling of a girl of fourteen or at the
side of a calm and plump matron, even a venerable old man, without any
offense in words or acts, feels moved; and, perhaps, under the childlike
or compassionate caresses of a woman, his eyes will fill with tears and,
if he is a believer, he will invoke the benedictions of Heaven on the
most beautiful half of the human family.

If even the old man can love a young woman, the old woman also can love
a young man; but their love should be a serene contemplation of the
beautiful, a suave remembrance of joys possessed for a long time and
ardent aspirations for an ideal which is ever loved, because it is never
attained. Even the white-haired old man can, without offending the
modesty of her who cannot be his any more, caress with paternal
affection the curls of Eve, adore in her the most splendid manifestation
of the esthetic forces of nature, warm his cold imagination again at the
ardent fire of others' loves; and, without envy and without regrets, but
with sweet satisfaction he can say: "I, too, have done my duty; do yours
now. I, too, have loved without sowing the seeds of remorse for my old
age; try you, and follow my example!"



I shall not repeat in these pages for the hundredth time the criticism
of temperaments as they were described by the ancient schools, and which
I have expounded in many of my works, small and large. Not everybody has
accepted my standards of classification, but all agree with me in the
belief that temperaments have had their time, and that hygiene,
medicine, psychology await from the progress of modern physiology the
elements to determine, as science requires, the physical and moral
characteristics of a human individual. Against this impotency of modern
physiology I have protested, changing the name of "temperament" to that
of "individual constitution": innocent revenge of all men who, when
powerless to change a thing, satisfy their rage by changing its name.

Every man loves in his own way and, as we bring to love the greatest
possible tribute of psychical elements, it follows that human loves
differ more than hatreds, more than the manners of eating, of motion, of
will. The lower we descend from the branches to the trunk, the more
human elements resemble each other; the higher we ascend to the loftiest
branches of the tree, the more the elements diverge and differ. Ask a
woman of easy virtue, or a Don Juan, how many are the methods of loving,
and they both not only will answer that every one loves in a different
manner, but will add that the manners themselves are so extraordinarily
different that calling all these most variform ways of loving by the one
name of the same sentiment excites repugnance.

It is true that some authors have amused themselves by describing a
"sanguine love," a "nervous love," a "lymphatic love," a "hepatic love";
but these pictures are innocent pastimes, arabesques traced on the
epidermis of human nature, and the schools of psychology and literature,
which succeed each other, so completely obliterate these arabesques that
not the least trace of them is left. Even when, instead of the
caricatures of temperaments, we should succeed in delineating a true
family of human constitutions, it would be very difficult to class under
it all forms of love. The thousands and thousands of color cases of the
Roman mosaic-maker are sufficient to classify the innumerable tints that
an expert eye succeeds in discerning; but who will give me a palette so
gigantic that I may spread on it all the polychromic mixtures, all the
simple and compound colors, all the proteiform iridescences offered by
the human light when it strikes the powerful prism of love?

The question as to the quantity of love which an individual may feel is
the easiest to solve; but it is also one of the most important. In every
psychological problem there is an element of quantity; and as it is the
simplest, it is also the most visible. It is, I would almost say, the
skeleton of the phenomenon and we should grasp it eagerly, as the thread
which guides us through the labyrinth of these studies.

Many men, even if possessing a lofty mind and a gentle heart, have asked
themselves seriously, and more than once, whether they were capable of
loving, unacquainted as they were with all that world of mysteries and
passions which they found described in many books and heard from the
mouths of some enamored friends. To those men my book, although I have
striven to contain it within the limits of a physiological study, may
seem an exaggeration, a caricature of nature. Now, all those men are
petty and weak lovers. To them love is an intermittent prurience that
begins at eighteen years and ends, perhaps, at forty, or fifty at the
latest; a prurience that stands somewhere between pleasure and bother
and which can be morally cured by only one medicine, woman. This
medicine, so they say, is sometimes worse than the disease, and it is
necessary to reflect at length and with great care whether preference
should be given to that prurience which poets call "love," or to that
other load which naturalists call "the female of man" and the courteous
dictionaries "woman." When these eunuchs of the sentiment of love prefer
the woman, they may find that this animated object, so like ourselves,
is also tolerably pleasing and congenial, and a sweet and tender habit
of benevolence may tie them to this companion whom they love, and truly
love, in their own way, that is, calmly, prudently, suavely. These
unhappy creatures have more than one reason to ask of themselves whether
what they feel is love, and a thousand reasons to inquire of true
lovers: "But tell me now, will you explain to me what this love is!" The
moon radiates heat; frogs, too, develop heat: well, then, these
gentlemen, too, do love!

Peaceful love, petty or cold love (call it what you will) does not
exclusively belong to the male; but, on the contrary, it offers,
although more rarely, its most perfect forms in woman. Man, however weak
a lover he may be, cannot renounce the mission of sex, which compels him
to attack, assault, declare that war which must lead him to conquest.
Woman, on the contrary, if she be born a _eunuch_, need not attack her
companion in the slightest way; she can, if she so wishes, avoid the
trouble of directing her gaze toward her lover or opening her lips to
say "yes." To let herself be loved will be enough. How many romantic
delights in these few words! To let herself be loved; to leave to others
every labor of conquered timidity, of injured modesty; every strategy,
every tactic of moral violence; to let the others struggle and reserve
for herself alone the voluptuousness of slightly opening the door or
even letting others open it! To let herself be loved! What esthetic,
heavenly beatitude, what voluptuousness of soft undulations and carnal
prurience, what wonderful warmth of sweet caresses! And, then, no
responsibility for the future of a passion which has never been
confessed; no storm; a calm lake without tempest, without tides. And if
the heart, full of sentiment, would take the liberty of a restless
throb, to apply then and there a cataplasm to bring it back to its
duty, and modesty to justify the perpetual ice, and virtue to apologize
for the absence of aroma. Oh, why did not heaven make us out of this
blessed, soft, sweet paste? Oh, why can we not reduce love to a problem
of hygiene and régime?

From this zero of the amatory scale we gradually rise to the maximum
degree of the pyrometer, where every metal is melted and volatilized and
the entire human organism is transformed into a red and incandescent
vapor that burns everything it touches. There are tremendous lovers, who
have loved before they were men, who will love, too, when they are men
no longer; there are women who have loved, perhaps, since they were
closed in the maternal womb, and will love even the sexton who will nail
down the cover on the cold coffin which contains their morbid flesh;
there are men and women in whom every affection takes a sensual form and
love absorbs them like a sponge born, grown and dead in the saline
depths of a tropical sea. Having neither time nor patience to wait, they
love the first comer, to whom they lend their affections and their
imagination; then, discouraged but not wearied, they love the next comer
and, always loving more than they are loved, they remain with their
thirst forever unquenched. Happy they are when they succeed, although
rarely, in being satisfied with consecutive loves; but oftener they
precipitate quickly into polygamy, where, through sophisms, reticences
and compromises with conscience, they love this one with the heart, that
other one with the mind, and all of them with the senses. They have a
_first_ love, an _only_ love, a _true_ love; but too frequently they
forget the names of such loves and use them to designate too many
different lovers, and, like the octopus, they stretch forth their
numerous, avid, sucking arms to reach the hot, succulent flesh of the
feminine cosmos. Among these polygamists there are some who love only
with the heart, others only with the senses; while to a few giants
nature concedes the sad gift of a twofold thirst for affection and

Between these two poles, which mark the extreme degrees of amatory
intensity, plods the innumerable mass of those men who are neither Don
Juans nor chaste Josephs; the numberless women who are neither
Messalinas nor Joans of Arc.

Besides the variform force of amorous needs, the sentiment which we are
now studying together assumes a different character, according to the
passion which predominates in the individual and by which love is marked
as proud, humble, egotistical, vain, furious, jealous. And around these
binary compounds of love and pride, of love and egotism, of love and
vanity, there are grouped many other minor elements, which, although
with less energetic affinity, still form a homogeneous whole that might
be called a "temperament of love" or a "constitutional form of love." I
shall try to sketch some of them from nature.

_Tender Love._--This love is more frequently felt by men of mild and
gentle character; it has shaded outlines and little relief. Emotion
surprises them for the slightest cause; tears are always ready to gush
forth at the first impulse of joy or sorrow; a perennial compassion and
an inexhaustible tenderness drown declarations of love, ardors of
voluptuousness and outbursts of affection in a most sweet sea of milk
and honey. Tender love is suppliant, lachrymose and faithful; it often
touches the boundaries of sensual love, but never enters that sea under
full sail. It is a love that is frequently constant and trustworthy,
almost as immutable as an old and serene friendship; it has, however, a
tendency to being disconsolate and mournful, if not querulous, and it
sighs, sobs or weeps too often. Nevertheless, it is capable of wonderful
expansiveness which, however interminable, is pregnant with intense joy
and sweet solace and predisposes us to universal benevolence, to
philanthropy, to forgiveness. It is a Christian, evangelical love that
delights more in a caress than in a kiss, and in lingering kisses more
than in sudden battles. Its most esthetic forms are found in the woman,
whom we readily exculpate from a certain weakness and who may even swoon
without making herself ridiculous. Persons with fair complexion,
Germans and lymphatic creatures love in this way.

_Contemplative Love._--A high, esthetic sense, an irresistible tendency
to inertness and limited genital needs constitute the soil in which
germinate and grow the various forms of contemplative love. It is a
lofty love--too lofty; it has something of the mystic and the
supernatural; the lover places his idol very high and prostrates himself
before it, lavishing upon it every kind of adoration and incense.
Contemplative love is situated in the anterior lobes of the brain; it
affects but slightly the somber depths of the heart and hardly skims
over the warm wave of voluptuousness; it lives on ecstasies and
contemplations and, making of the creature it loves a god or a goddess,
it forgets too frequently that the god comprehends a human male, the
goddess a human female. This sublime forgetfulness makes of this love
the greatest cuckold ever known, because nature can neither be forgotten
nor offended with impunity; and while one adores and is absorbed in
admiration in the temple, the warlike and rapacious love profanes the
tabernacle and carries off the god. Contemplative love lives on the
frontiers of pathology, and properly belongs to Arcadic, fanatic and
mystic persons. Disillusioned and betrayed, they accuse love of simony
and falsehood, when they themselves are only too guilty of having caused
their own sorrows and their own bitter disappointments.

_Sensual Love._--This is one of the most ardent, most inebriating, most
tenacious of loves, because it springs from the most fruitful and
spontaneous source of sensual affections. It is the most sincere and
most powerful of loves, because it satisfies one of the most natural and
most irresistible needs of man; but its foundation rests on a shifting
ground: beauty; and its ardors are indicated by too deep a note: desire.
It never lies; it does not wrap itself in the hundred cloaks of amorous
hypocrisy, but is nude, entirely nude and, in its nudity, often modest.
Brazen or tender, insatiable or satisfied, rash to the point of
insolence, it is, however, always itself: the tremendous attraction of
two great and opposite organic units; a burning thirst that seeks the
cool water of the Alpine spring; the most vigorous clash of the two most
gigantic forces in the world of the living. From voluptuousness to
voluptuousness, if youthful strength does not accompany it, it usually
slides into lasciviousness, where it sinks deeper each day that passes
and with the decline of each force; and down, down it plunges until it
reaches the filth of domestic libertinism or that of the wandering
Venus. It is inexhaustible in discoveries and inventions, indefatigable
in voluptuousness; it is also a sublime artist; it may emit high musical
notes of tenderness and show warm and fascinating tints. Born in the
lowest depths of the animal man, it rarely rises to the high spheres of
the ideal and knows no dignity, no delicacy, no heroism; rather, it is
often suppliant to the point of baseness, impure to nausea. It accepts a
bone to gnaw, just as it accepts voluptuousness without love. It does
not matter to sensual love whether voluptuousness is reached by the sole
moral path of love, but it accepts it also through this way, it seeks it
by all possible ways. And it conquers, steals, buys love; it goes even
so far as to borrow it, to commit forgery, provided it gets it. Let its
insatiable prurience be but appeased and sensual love will act as
mediator or pander for the loves of others, become usurer, thief and
forger with the same callousness. This love is generally masculine: in
women, even licentiousness always dons a splendid robe of sentiment and
hides its too insolent nudity.

_Ferocious Love._--Perhaps the term which is applied to this love is
stronger than it should be; but in painting a psychical picture one is
irresistibly inclined to exaggerate the coloring or the outlines and
give the subject more relief than it has in nature. Abnormal development
of the sense of ownership, amplified by conceit and joined to a certain
impetuosity of character: such is the most natural source of all those
violent loves which I class under the common name of "ferocious love."
Its birth is nearly always like the eruption of a volcano and
accompanied by so many storms and fits of affection and such clashing of
energies that one would suppose that, instead of a love, a hatred had
come into existence. And this original sin follows it through life, and
ends only with death. We see this love distribute handshakes with such
strength that we say they are tetanic convulsions, kisses that seem
bites, embraces that look like homicides; and we behold it as a tyrant
without jealousy, a fury without anger, insatiable even after
possession, because voluptuousness does not calm nor fidelity always
satisfy it. Venus triumphant and not disarmed would represent this love
in all the sublime greatness of its forces. If kindness of habits or the
patient file of education does not succeed in smoothing its angles, it
often becomes rugged and even brutal. So must have loved our most remote
ancestors of the caves and the palisades, who continuously bathed in the
blood of hunt and war and stained their hands with blood in love as
well, as woman also was the prey belonging to the strongest and most
audacious. As it is easy to imagine, man generally is the one who loves
ferociously; but woman, too, occasionally feels this cruel form of love;
and the more attached she is to her lover, the more she torments him and
the deeper she plunges the claws of her passion into the depths of his
body to feel its heat and to say with voluptuous fury: "This, too, is

_Proud Love._--This form is a binary combination of one part of love and
ten parts of self-love. When proud love is satisfied, when it is in all
the pomp of its happiness, it may appear as a pure, great, sublime love;
but as soon as self-love suffers a sting it froths and swells like a
snail or a basilisk and shows the dual nature of its energy in all its
nudity. Even in the few moments when this affection is entirely happy,
it never betokens it nor does it abandon itself to an unrestrained
confession of beatitude or bliss, for the same reason that the rustic
never admits that he admires new and great things. Proud love thinks
more of being loved than of loving; it always speaks of rights and
often does not know of duties. Rich in exactions and poor in
consideration, it swells up with pride if fortunate, and murmurs at the
slightest suspicion; it is the most jealous of loves and among the most
unhappy, among the poorest in sweet abandonments and ingenuous
voluptuousness. Even in the most secret intimacy it never unfolds its
thoughts for fear of ridicule or of spoiling a crease of the starched
paludament in which it has wrapped itself; it is never the first to
concede a caress, but expects it as a right and a duty. It is a love
which, to be approached, requires infinite attentions, ceremonies,
formalities; which quickly becomes tiresome and often disgusting. It
exacts fidelity, not as a dear reciprocation of affection, but as a
right of its own dignity, and easily pardons such sins as the world does
not become aware of. It is a sterile, barren, sickly love.

_Excoriated Love._--Because of its origins, this form of love is often
confounded with the preceding; but it is still more unhappy and
rightfully belongs to the pathology of the heart. It is a love that can
be sincere, tender and passionate; but it is so irritable and such a
grumbler that a mosquito would annoy it and a pebble in its path cause
it to cry against misfortune and treachery. Like the Epicurean of old,
it cannot sleep unless a folded rose-leaf is placed in its bed. It also
seeks, like all human affections, the goal of its aspirations; but never
reaches it, because suspicion, susceptibility and fear stop it at every
step, freeze the words on its lips, weaken its arms in the embrace,
extinguish its flame when hardly lighted. I compare this affection with
a St. Bartholomew obliged to walk among brambles and over rocks
bristling with points, and for this reason I have given it the strange
and new name of _excoriated love_; the French would call it _un amour
mauvais coucheur_. It is perhaps the most wretched of loves, because,
besides the natural misfortunes which are the inevitable lot of every
daughter of Eve and every son of Adam, it creates its own troubles and
enlarges them with the lens of the most unhappy imagination. Excoriated
love is a fatal still which transforms rose-petals into poison-ivy,
honey into wormwood, aroma into fetidness, nourishment into venom. If
kissed, it murmurs because the kiss was too violent or too cold; if
caressed, it suspects that the caress may have had a second end in view.
Even in the ecstasies of creation it would ask of the Creator why He had
made the light so soon or so late. Whoever is loved by these
unfortunates has always the right to address them with the words of the
courtesan of Venice to the unhappy and mad philosopher of Geneva:
"_Zaneto, Zaneto, ti non ti xe fato per far a l'amor!_" ("Johnny,
Johnny, you are not made to make love!") And yet these unfortunate
creatures love, and love deeply; and it is the enviable glory of
powerful lovers to cure and win them over to the point of making them
confess that at least once in their lives they were truly, faithfully
and passionately loved. It is one of the most admirable triumphs of the
amatory art to find a fabric so fine that it can touch the excoriated
flesh of those poor unfortunates, and create for them an artificial
atmosphere, in which they may be able to move without groaning, breathe
without coughing, and live without cursing life.

These forms of love, which I have poorly outlined, are but rarely found
in nature in a simple state, but are complicated and interwoven with
each other, forming a thousand pictures: a real mine of resources for
art, a veritable treasure of torments for the psychological thinker.

No man loves like another and no man loves perfectly, in the manner in
which the type of a sublime love can be idealized in the regions of
thought of our brain.

The perfect harmony of one love lacks a note of sensuality, that of
another a tone of energy; one is too restless, another too languid, a
third too violent. Even the most fortunate creatures, those who possess
a just measure of voluptuousness, of sentiment and of poetry,--even
those, who know they are loved ardently and faithfully, aspire to a love
more perfect than that which they feel and better than that which they
receive; and when this thirst for the ideal does not induce us to
violate the compact of fidelity, we should not complain, because love,
too, must obey the common law, which compels us ever to aspire to purer
regions, richer in splendors and warmer with ardors. At early dawn love
awaits the promise of a warm noon, and in the burning sultriness looks
forward with eager anticipation to the cool twilight of the evening; it
is spurred by that impulse which drives forward men and things, matter
and force, and the bliss of today expects a more intense voluptuousness
for tomorrow. If this unquenchable thirst for the better should cease in
us, it would be simply because life is spent in us; if the irresistible
desire for a higher love should cease, it would be simply because, as
light to the blind, the heavenly regions of the ideal--those regions
where numberless targets are gathered at which are aimed the glances and
the arrows of the human family--have all at once been closed to us.



Pain, so rich in afflictions and tortures, in its varieties as infinite
as the grains of sand in the ocean, and as deep as the ocean's abysses,
has reserved its greatest bitterness, its most cruel torments for love.
And so it was to be; the warmest passion was to turn into the most
inflexible frigidity; the deepest was to precipitate itself into the
somberest depths; the richest in joys to be the most fecund in sorrows.
From the fleeting breeze of a suspicion more rapid than the lightning,
more evanescent than a word written in the soft sand of the seashore, to
the certain consciousness of an unexpected betrayal; from the impatience
of him who for one instant awaits his beloved, to the prolonged
desperation of him who can no longer wait, love evinces all the notes of
affliction, all the torments of the senses, all the tortures of
sentiment. Of the bones which are scattered every day on the long path
through which the human family passes on this planet, many were left by
love; and suicide, homicide and insanity count in cemeteries and
hospitals a much greater number of victims than are reckoned in the
summary statistics of our sociologists. All this, of course, is for
those who love with heart and mind and not with senses only. He who sees
in love a question only of régime and hygiene recovers from the loss of
his sweetheart with a tear and a new conquest; cures betrayal with
betrayal, and with licentiousness heals every malady of the heart and
drowns all his sorrows in his libertinism.

I certainly have neither strength nor courage sufficient to accompany
the reader into the lower regions of the amorous hell. If you have
already passed your thirtieth year, you surely must have among the
memories of your past some half hour of desperation and some sleepless
night which make you shudder only by recalling them; you must have
suffered certain torments, compared to which Dante's infernal region
will seem blooming flower-beds to you, and you must imagine that nature
rarely torments one man with all the tortures of the amorous passion. In
human nature some sorrows make the heart incapable of suffering certain
others, and the morbid rage of jealous pride protects us against the
bitter sob of a generous sorrow, just as the chaste reserve of a modest
nature deprives us of the possibility of suffering the ardent thirst for
certain pleasures.

If you wish to open just a little the door of this hell, if you want to
sound its abysses with a passing glance, imagine on one side all the
hopes, all the voluptuousness, all the riches of love, and on the other
all the fears, all the bitternesses, all the miseries. And after this
cruel exposition of the joys and sorrows of love, you will not have
ended yet, because the fields of sufferance are a hundred times larger
than those where joy is sown. The physical possession of a woman is one;
the tortures of a man beholding the fruit near without his being able to
touch it are thousands; and this example will suffice for all.

Thus, as the antithesis of life is death, in its presence all the arrows
of our pride lose their sharpness, all our hopes are torn, all our joys
shattered. In the delirium of passion and pride we all repeat hundreds
of times: "I would have her dead rather than belonging to another--a
thousand times buried, but not unfaithful." And frequently the man who
utters this blasphemy, his lips livid and his hair standing on end,
stains his hands with blood by plunging them into the bosom of a victim.
Folly and delirium! Hurricanes of the heart where love and hatred, pride
and love, crime and torture clash and blend in the tumult of a dreadful
storm. But love, which truly loves, infinite love which transforms man
into the half of a creature that suffers and desires, ideal love that
few feel and few see dimly in the twilight of a suprasensible region
which their hands cannot reach, recognizes no greater torture than the
death of the beloved. Oh, yes; let indifference, contempt, hatred,
betrayal come, but that the dear one may live. Let others have this
creature whom we have believed to be ours, into whose veins we have
poured our blood; let this temple, perfumed with the incense of our
thoughts, with the durable love of all our passions, become the temple
of another god; let our flowers be trampled upon, our crowns broken,
ourselves driven away by the rough broom of the sexton, but let the god
live who sojourns there, let the idol of our life shine on the altar.
Dejected like a fugitive, despised like a criminal, vituperated like a
spy, in the cold and distant solitude we drink drop by drop a bottomless
cup of gall, and every drop is bitterer than the last; but we know that
she breathes the air of our planet, which we too breathe; we know that
she is inebriated by the same sun that warms us; we know that among the
numberless shadows that wander through the spaces of the invisible there
is a creature around whom the air becomes mellower and the light
brighter; that there are certain clods of earth which yield to the
weight of a body that we love. No; as long as the woman we love lives,
hope does not lose all its feathers, and far, far away, less tangible
than a dream, more invisible than the regions of heaven, more
inconceivable than eternity, it still soars on our horizon, perhaps not
believed, not confessed, but it still lives and keeps us alive.

But when we still live and she is dead; when we are still so cowardly as
to live, to breathe, to eat, and she is buried in the humid miasma of a
wooden coffin; when all the world still exists and she is dead; when the
joy of a thousand flowers that blossom in every ray of light, the trills
of a thousand birds that sing of love, the groups of the fortunates who
embrace each other, and the benedictions of so many happy creatures are
nothing but a frame to a gelid void, a dark world; when we remain
suspended between an infinity of joy that _was_ ours and an infinity of
sorrow that _is_ ours and shall be ours tomorrow and as long as we are
so cowardly as to live,--then we may look upon suicide as the supreme
joy of life, as the most sublime of human prides; then we may understand
how man can in a flash dream of the great voluptuousness of mingling his
bones with those of another creature; then we can understand how
imagination can smile at the idea of the embrace of two corpses, of the
fusion of two ashes, of the resurrection of two existences extinguished
in the perfume of two flowers grown upon a human grave and which the
wind blandly brings together that they may kiss again.

In the silence of the cemeteries there are some flowers that kiss each
other and to which, perhaps, from under the earth responds the quivering
of certain bones; there are certain lips on our planet, which closely
pressed against each other one day, which death cruelly separated and
which a second death has reunited forever. And when we survive, it is
because a new organism has been created in us, and today we are no
longer what we were yesterday. The thoughts of the past, the limbs of
the past, all that we were yesterday is dead, dead forever; from the
withered trunk of our existence, science, duty, friendship, paternal or
maternal or filial love cause a new branch to shoot forth, which
reproduces the ancient tree; and the common passer-by, seeing the same
leaves, the same flowers, the same fruits, believes that only one corpse
is buried there--but he is in error. We can survive certain sorrows on
one condition only: to accomplish the miracle of dying today in order to
be born anew tomorrow with the same name, but with a new life. And for
the honor of human nature, these survivors remain the faithful and
silent priests of the vanished god, like those Peruvians who, on the
summits of the Andes, amidst the eternal glaciers of the Sorata or of
the Illimani, still worship the god of their fathers. To understand
certain sorrows is the proof of a lofty mind; to have experienced them
is the glory of a martyr which exalts and purifies us.

I feel very sure that many who weep for love, either because their love
is not returned or because they fear deception--if they have not already
been deceived--or because of their bitter disappointment when they
found that they had burned their incense to an idol of clay or a statue
of marble, will repute my description exaggerated, yet it is
nevertheless a pallid picture of a sorrow which pen of man will never be
able to portray from nature, but succeed only in divining from afar. To
many death, the absolute evil, in the presence of which every hope
perishes, seems preferable to the torture that threatens life yet does
not kill, which opens the wounds and hinders the work done by nature to
heal them. I wish that these gentlemen may never have the opportunity of
making the cruel comparison for themselves, of experiencing the effects
of an assimilated anatomy of two great sorrows, one of which is termed
death, the other desperation. If they truly love, may they die earlier
than their beloved! This is the sweetest blessing that I can offer them
from the pages of my book.

Love is a passion so fervid and so deep that we must not wonder if it
has abrupt convulsions and sudden swoons. Accustomed to dwell always in
lofty regions, to have but extreme voluptuousness for nourishment, to
vibrate with the highest notes of sentiment and the delirium of the
senses, it may instantaneously become possessed, when it least expects
it, by unreasonable fears, idiotic suspicions, inexplicable
restlessness. By this I do not mean diffidence, jealousy, disgust, weary
libertinism, or bitter disappointments, but a vague and shapeless fog
that invades the heart which, by feeling too deeply, has become languid
and congeals the nerves exhausted from excessive quivering. It is an
indefinable hysteria which from a slight disorder may develop into a
most intense bitterness.

An immense love, whatever the source of the heart from which it springs
forth, is always followed by the shadow of an infinite fear. You adore
your child; you have left him for five minutes on the lawn or in your
garden, intent on filling his little cart with sand; he was as rosy and
fresh as the flowers near him; as bright as the sun that gilded his
curly locks. Now, while you are seated at your table, you have wished to
call him, I know not why, perhaps to hear the sweet sound of his
silvery voice; and he does not answer you. You call him again, and again
silence. He is utterly absorbed in the ponderous care of his wagon; but
you, flying in a few seconds over a thousand miles of thought, have
imagined that he was dead, that a snake had bitten him, that he had
fallen in a swoon--who knows the fantastic visions that have passed
through your mind! With your heart throbbing, your skin in a
perspiration, you are afraid to rise and wish to defer for a moment the
spectacle of a cruel loss. Of these and greater follies we are given a
sad spectacle every day by that love of loves which alone was called by
this name as the prince and god of all the amorous sentiments.

Neither the most patient and long observation of human phenomena nor the
most lively imagination could enable us to divine all the petty tortures
that lovers inflict upon themselves, perhaps to obey that cruel law
which, according to some persons, has decreed that no one shall be happy
on this planet.

In this field of evil, temperament is everything; to some individuals
the phrase of Linnæus concerning the loves of the cat may be applied:
"_Clamando misere amat_." For these unfortunates (we have already
described them) love is imbued with so much bitterness and surrounded by
so many nettles that it actually resembles a bramble, all thorns and
wormwood. Suspicious, fastidious, melancholy, they fear everything,
scrutinize everything; they pass everything through the sieve, they
pulverize everything, looking for the mite or the poison. In the kiss
they suspect ice, in the caress indifference; of the impulses they feel
only the shock, only the blows. And then, even that little honey that
love has for all they wish to keep under watch in so many tabernacles
and under so many seals that they are very fortunate when they can find
and relish it! From a jealous jeremiad they fall into an hysterical
soliloquy, and have hardly emerged from a gloomy meditation on the
infidelity of man when they fall into the autopsy of a love-letter.
These creatures were certainly born under an unlucky star, and even if
nature should make them a gift of a Venus draped by the Graces, or an
Apollo with the brain of Jupiter, they would still be always unhappy,
because bitterness is on their lips and not in the cup of love.

There is perhaps no greater torture than that which a woman must suffer
when compelled to submit to the caress of a man whom she does not love.
I do not mean by this the brutal violence that assimilates an embrace to
homicide, and relegates it to the criminal code and the prison. In this
case we would have a human beast that strikes, bites, sheds the blood of
a poor creature who swoons with terror or struggles powerlessly in the
clutches of a tiger: they are sorrows which belong to the story of
terror, to the bloodiest pages of supreme tortures. I intend to speak
here of the caresses that a woman must accord to a man because law,
money or a surprise of the senses has sold her to him without love; I
intend to speak of torture bitter, somber, deep as infinity, and which
assimilates the prostitute to the martyr.

These sorrows, among the greatest that the human heart can suffer, were
by a cruel nature almost exclusively reserved for woman. Man, by the
special nature of his aggressive sex, must be spurred to the embrace by
a sudden enthusiasm; his senses must be clouded by intense lust. In him
voluptuousness can do without love, and physical love has a joy that is
sufficient to conceal mercifully all his lack of sentiment and passion.
For if indifference, hatred, contempt permeate him entirely, invading
even the last intrenchments of love, then no caress in the world can
revive it, no law, human or divine, can force him to accept a caress
which to him is repugnant. There is no case in which the ancient theory
of freedom of the will shows its ridiculous falsity as plainly as in

Woman, however, may be as cold as ice, feel chilly shivers of aversion
and loathing run through her entire body, hate a man to the desire of
death, despise to abhorrence a man who is near to her; and yet in many
cases she can, and in very many she must, submit to his caress. Frigid,
with grief in her heart and hatred on her lips, she beholds the ardor
of that man which burns but does not warm her; she looks on the
sublimity of enthusiasm only as the culmination of ridicule; she
discerns passion, but finds it simply grotesque; she perceives
impetuosity, and for her it is nothing but violence; instead of love,
with its flashes, its light, its perfumes, she sees, smells, touches
simply a brutal force which debases, prostitutes, pollutes her; an
infinity of repugnance in an ocean of nausea!

When woman has fallen into that mire through her own fault, she cannot
be more cruelly punished. The immensity of prostitution is avenged with
an infinity of outrage; the holiest thing is plunged into the most fetid
mud; the greatest joy gives place to the greatest shame. But when, on
the contrary, the daughter of Eve is brought to this sacrifice of the
body by the tyranny of the law, by the perverted tendencies of our moral
education, when she finds herself led to that cruel misfortune through
ignorance or through the fault of others,--then, if she does not yet
possess that skepticism which heals the heart or that cynicism which
shields it, if she still knows what modesty is, if she still remembers
the trepidations of love, then that poor woman drinks drop by drop the
most cruel torture that any creature can endure; then she passes through
a long and merciless agony.

To have dreamed for years and years of the promised land of love, to
have conquered it, inch by inch, through the reveries of childhood and
the rosy aurora of adolescence; to have felt an immense, horrible fear
of dying before having loved; to have loved and to love, to be aware of
a volcano in the heart, to be at the gates of paradise and inhale
through the portal its inebriating perfumes--and then, after all this,
to become conscious of having been transformed into a vessel which
satisfies the thirst, to feel in the bosom a roaring beast--to be a part
of the régime of a man, like magnesia or leeches--truly this is more
cruel torture than the inquisitors ever invented; it is really too great
a sorrow for a lonely weak creature!

What mass of meditations, what abysses of desperation are gathered in a
few seconds in the head of a woman caressed by a man whom she does not
love! What eloquence in silence, that silence which Ovid, the libertine,
eagerly advised women to avoid! Often does a man press to his bosom a
creature who does not love him and whom he too heedlessly prostitutes,
while the victim meditates a long, cruel revenge. More than one
adultery, more than one assassination was conceived, discussed, vowed in
that moment when man, enjoying the supreme bliss, believed to have in
his arms a happy creature. More than one embrace has generated twins, a
new man and a new hatred; a tenacious and bitter hatred, which only the
death of the one who hates can extinguish, since it often survives the
death of its object.

O men, you who see in love a cup to empty, and find in matrimony only an
association of two capitals or a mechanism for reproducing the species,
remember that for many creatures love is the first and the last of
passions, the first and the last of joys; and remember that for very
many women, whom you neglect and perhaps despise, love is all of life.

There is no nature so unhappy that its distress could not be relieved by
another nature capable of mending the shreds of the heart, tempering the
bitterness, straightening the rachitic limbs. There is no man, born weak
or sickly, who could not become robust if he only should live in a
climate, be supplied with food and surrounded with the physical and
moral atmosphere that agrees with him. And I believe that the same can
apply to love. If we could dedicate half a century to the search for the
right woman, if Diogenes' lantern could be fitted with the electric
light which modern science concedes to us, certainly among the thousand
millions of human beings who tread this planet we could and should be
able to find the woman who would be happy with us and make us happy.
Unfortunately, life is too short and love is too rapid and exacting in
its desires to make such a search possible; and even for the most
fortunate and wisest creatures a part of happiness is always among the
unknown quantities determined by chance and not by reflection. Hence
many and beautiful natures are tied by love-knots, and still are not
happy because characters fit each other on many sides of the human
polygon but not on all.

The study of these contrasts, of these partial incompatibilities would
require the moral analysis of the entire man, of all his social
vicissitudes, while many of those sorrows do not belong solely to love,
but spring from all human affections and poison friendship, fraternal,
filial and paternal loves; some of them, however, are peculiar to the
love of loves.

To feel at the same hour, at the same moment, in the same degree, the
stimulus of a desire or the thirst for a caress is a rare thing, a
fortunate coincidence which gilds with the most beautiful rays the
happiest hours of life; but it can never be the bread of a daily bliss.
In all other cases, thirst arises in one of the two and is communicated
to the other, so that a spark draws a spark, a caress generates
caresses. It is an invitation of lips, a fluttering of wings, a
harmonious note which calls from a bough to another bough; but it is
always the invitation to a rendezvous, the awakening of one who
slumbers. In these invitations, in these first skirmishes, the
ridiculous always runs parallel and very near to the sublime. Love
stands between them, it is true, and never permits them to unite; but
the least inadvertence, the least unscrupulous or heedless movement may
bring the two elements into contact; and the ridiculous, wherever it
touches, wounds self-love and, with it, love.

Even upon the most impatient, the most ridiculous, the most grotesque
desires you should throw at once the mantle of love to cover them. Every
threat of ridicule then vanishes like vapor; no wounding of self-love is
possible. I address myself to woman, because she oftener than we has the
opportunity of healing these unsightly wounds, because she has her hand
suavely ready to aid. Woe, if your companion should blush through your
fault, because you knew not at the proper time and place how to close
your eyes or shield them with the merciful veil of your hand or your

How much bitterness, how much rancor and spite, how many nettles and
thorns are found on the blooming paths of the most fervid passion, just
because delicacy of sentiment does not always know how to reconcile the
inequalities of the senses, because a too exacting modesty repels a too
live ardor of temperament, or because woman does not decide with wise
perception that the too exacting demands, prompted by selfish love and
not by love, should be allowed to starve! By fleeing one may lose or
conquer; by standing one's ground one may lose or conquer: but many flee
when they should not recede, many stand firm when they should flee;
hence many defeats which disappoint both conquerors and conquered, and
love often lies on the ground drenched with its own blood.

The tortures, the spites, the bitternesses, the wearinesses, the stings,
the torments of love should be deeply studied because they always move
side by side with joy and voluptuousness, and very few are so fortunate
as not to stumble against them. Much luck, a thorough knowledge of man,
great experience can defend us from them, so that at the end of our
career we may bless love, which, though with some slight sorrow, has
perfumed our life with its most beautiful flowers.

I have alluded only to some of the torments which populate the hell of
love; but their number is infinite, their names are countless. In every
field of sentiment, of senses and of intellect man possesses a much
greater possibility to suffer than to enjoy; and when bliss is attained
and the veins are cut from which oozes the bitter sap of sorrow, it is
always after a long, fierce battle, in which we defend ourselves with
all the weapons of nature and art. Here also--and here more, perhaps,
than anywhere else--the weight of mental virtues is revealed in all its
power, the influence of a noble and generous character in all its
strength. The ardent and impetuous heart is not a source of greater
amorous bitterness when the calm light of reason burns within it, when
the sublime incapacity to commit base actions accompanies the desire
for the good, when we enjoy more the pleasure we give than that which we

Weak and defective natures are strengthened and straightened when they
have for support the robust column of an affectionate and noble nature;
even the rabid rancors of small hearts lose their bitterness in the calm
blue ocean of a character which is all sweetness and sympathy.



Love, being the most powerful agitator of human elements that was ever
known, stirs the slime which is always found even in the noblest
natures; while in men whose souls have been kneaded with sludge it
becomes the greatest coefficient of vice and crime. Love, like all other
sentiments, has a pathology of its own, a superior pathology, because it
so widens its sphere of action as to enclose a larger field and has more
prepotent needs to satisfy. A man incapable of a base deed even though
dying of hunger, even though about to lose all that he holds most dear,
may compromise with his conscience when a question of love arises, and
many, many blemishes stain the texture of the noblest and loftiest
natures. Love wants to possess us bound hands and feet, and this is an
inexhaustible source of disgrace, guilt, mean cowardice and great

The degradations of love are as numberless as the grains of sand in the
sea, as many as love's own delights; they are of every size and adapt
themselves to the infinite degrees of human baseness. It seems to me,
however, that in a general study of physiology they can be reduced to
two principal forms, that is to say, _impotency_ and _prostitution_.

Impotency is not only a disease that should receive the care of the
physician or the hygienist; it is not only a case which requires the
attention of the legislator: but it is a moral shame that must be
thoroughly studied by the psychologist who endeavors to outline the
natural story of love.

In the very simplest organism of inferior animals every desire of love
ceases when age, disease or a wound has exhausted the energy of the
genital organs. In man, instead, the most irresistible and bestial
needs are so teeming with psychical elements of the moral and the
intellectual world as to survive the disease of the organ. An innocent
man loves even without being aware of his manhood, and a woman can die
of love although knowing nothing of the existence of the womb. True it
is, no amorous note arises in the eunuch, or if the phantoms of a
strange lasciviousness are noticed wandering here and there, they are
specters that belong to the limbo of the most transcendent pathology.
These poor pariahs of nature are, however, very rare; while our rachitic
civilization makes by hundreds the semi-eunuchs who fill with cuckoldly
ornaments the sanctuary of the family and the low world of wandering
loves. Statistics, fortunately, cannot obtain the exact number of these
"half-men" and consign them to their inexorable files; be it enough for
us to know that they are many, very many, much more numerous than
feminine virtue and patience could tolerate.

Nature's whole love, true love, nude but innocent love, is not all
sentiment or thought, but also a function of reproductive life, a need
of the senses. Martyrs and saints could mutilate themselves and die in
the beatitude of their mutilations; but the majority of men does not
consist of saints or martyrs. Every mutilation of love is a shame and
the most fecund generator of many other minor shames. In the chaste and
cool dawn of early youth, more than one woman consented unwittingly to
an infamous compact by which a man offered her a great name and great
wealth in exchange for a "yes." The wretched man loved her, desired her,
but could not possess her as nature commanded man to possess woman; he
wished to own the temple and feel the emotion of owning it without
having the right to enter it. Sometimes the eunuch was not an abject
being and did confess his shame before his betrayal, but the innocent
maiden did not understand and accepted the compact. And who does not
believe himself a hero or a martyr at that age? And the eunuch embraced
his precious prey, inundated her with sterile kisses, and endeavored to
warm her with his impotent caresses; and the marmoreal statue of
adolescent virginity trembled with new and, to her, incomprehensible
emotions. Later on, the virgin realized that she was a woman, that in
vain she was a woman, and love attacked and seized virtue, and felled it
despairing and imploring, and the covenant sworn in good faith was
broken by the most powerful of affections. How many domestic
misfortunes, what a fruitful stream of bastards, how many brigands
spring from this contaminated source!

O you, real eunuchs, half-eunuchs, quarter-eunuchs, do not hope to be
loved by a woman on whom you have imposed an infamous contract! No
virtue, no oath can resist the sacred laws of love; nobody is stronger
than nature. And if you have found a heroine, why make a martyr of her?
Do you want to be the executioner of her whom you say you love?

And you, generous women, noble women, who can elevate to the highest
regions even the lowest passion, do not accept any compact involving a
mutilation of love. You, teachers of every kind of sacrifice, you think
that you will make happy an outcast of nature, you impose upon
yourselves, smiling perhaps, the sublime mission of redeeming a
desperate man: but I assure you that neither virtue nor sacrifice nor
heroism can stifle that formidable cry of the universe of the living
that wants you to be wives and mothers. While the martyr, with the palm
of sacrifice tightly pressed to her bosom, will try to smile, a cruel,
deep, painful stab in her heart will warn her: "You, Eve and daughter of
Eve, will become a mother only through a crime, will enter the sanctuary
of sanctuaries, the tabernacle of maternity, only through the door of
domestic treason."

No; love is not all senses and all lust. Sentiment can be such a great
part of it as to conceal voluptuousness in the most secluded recess of a
hidden region. No; woman can be happy even without voluptuousness if she
only feels herself loved: but she wishes to love, and should love, "a
man." I appeal to all the daughters of Eve, and, to be spared blushing,
they may reply with a nod of the head and without moving their lips: Is
it not true that you would prefer a hundred times to be loved by a
"real man," even with a vow of chastity, rather than to be profaned and
satiated with lust at the hands of a eunuch? Is it not true that above
all you want to have for support that firm column called "an honorable
man"? And certainly he is not an honorable man who claims the possession
of a woman and demands to be loved by her when he is not a man.

The half-men who at forty, at fifty years of age aspire to have a
family, after having dragged their half-virility through the
lasciviousness of prostitution and the dainties of the erotic kitchen,
should never suppose that lechery can take the place of true love in a
woman. They can prostitute their spouse, but they can never make her
love them earnestly and deeply. They are foredoomed by the inexorable
laws of nature to figure largely in the population of cuckoldom.

When impotency falls like a thunderbolt on the head of two happy lovers,
it is only a disease, a misfortune that concerns the physician and the
pharmacist; but when it precedes love, it is cowardice, degradation,
infamy. The honest man should never attempt to conceal it from himself
or justify it; he should either courageously renounce love, a thing that
does not concern him, or expose the sore and ask the armed hand of the
surgeon to cut and cauterize it. Let him become a man again, and then
see if he can aspire to the delights of sentiment. Before becoming a
farmer, he should possess a farm.

The complicated mechanism of our social organism, in the same manner as
it offers to the thirst of ardent youth voluptuousness without love,
imposes on many lovers, with a more cruel amputation, love without
voluptuousness. Here we have the two chief sources of the thousand
sorrows which human society prepares for those who love: "Voluptuousness
without love," that is, all the degradations and shames of prostitution;
"Love without voluptuousness," that is, all the tortures of enforced
chastity. Between these two hells the enamored youth remains a long time
suspended, until, to avoid death, he takes lechery and imagination into
a somber old boat and flees away with them to hide in the reedy marshes
and among the miasmas of self-abuse--the lowest of the degradations of
love, and one which occupies a proper place between impotency and
prostitution. Yes; as man enjoys all the Olympus of love, he must also
submit to all its degradations.

In the book which I will dedicate to the hygiene of love this problem
will be thoroughly studied. Here I shall refer to it only so far as it
concerns the physiology of sentiment. It is painful to admit it, but it
is true: our modern society has rendered love so difficult to many
unhappy creatures as to make them pass under the Caudine Forks of this
cruel dilemma: either to buy voluptuousness and counterfeit love with
it, or dream of love in the mire of solitary lasciviousness. In one way
or the other, we are forced to become counterfeiters and to blush for
ourselves at the manner in which we satisfy the most powerful of human

Solitary love is not only a sin against hygiene, and one which kills
health and vigor, but it is also an offense against morals, a poison of
happiness. He who repeatedly falls into the crime and is frequently
obliged to blush, tarnishes more every day the limpid purity of his own
dignity, weakens the strong spring of virile resolutions and becomes a
greater coward in all the battles of life. While he blushes for himself
and curses himself and the love that condemns him to a continuous
debasement, he blushes more than ever in the presence of the woman of
whom he does not feel worthy and of whom he becomes less worthy at each
fall. He poisons the wave of love at its very first source and, even
when he later succeeds in loving, has spoiled the purity of his tastes
and his aspirations and in the arms of a woman who loves him complains
of the solitary twinges of a morbid voluptuousness, like one who, having
burned his mouth with the pungent tastes of pipe and brandy, can no
longer relish the flavors of pineapple and strawberry.

Love is the greatest of conquests, the sweetest of delights, the joy of
joys; to renounce it in order to replace it with degradation is worse
than a crime, it is an infamy. Better a hundred times chastity with its
sublime tortures, prostitution with its filth. True and complete love
is a splendid banquet under the fragrant trees of a garden, amidst the
glittering of the chalices, the harmonies of music and the witty jests
of friends; solitary love is a furtive meal with a bone picked up in the
fetidness of a dunghill and gnawed in the dark.

Prostitution is, after solitary abuse, the greatest degradation of love,
and, what is worse,--it should be said at once,--a necessary one in
modern society. Tibullus hurls at it a splendid malediction:

     "Jam tua qui Venerem docuisti vendere primus
     Quisquis es, infelix urgeat ossa lapis!"

     ("Whoever thou art who first hast taught to sell the pleasures of
     love, may an ill-boding stone crush thy bones!")

This imprecation, repeated by all moralists of every succeeding age,
could not prevent for one day the sale of love, and universal experience
demonstrates that St. Augustine was a sounder philosopher when he wrote:

     "Aufer meretrices de rebus humanis, turbaveris omnia libidinibus;
     constitue matronarum loco, labe ac dedecore dehonestaveris."

     ("Take the prostitutes out of human things, and you will disturb
     the whole world with lust; put them in the place of wives, and you
     will defile home with disease and dishonor.")

If St. Augustine had written but this sentence, I would proclaim him a
great psychologist; in a few words he has shown all the sides of the
tremendous problem, given a lesson of toleration to the intolerant, of
social science to economists, and today, after so many centuries, his
words are as true, profound, inexorable as when he addressed them to a
world so different from ours.

Difficult problems are not solved by fleeing from or by concealing
them; and yet many physicians, many philosophers attempt to solve the
most burning questions of modern society after the manner of a child who
by closing his eyes believes that he is fleeing from the dog that
threatens him. To Dr. Monlau in Spain and Dr. Bergeret in France, who
thought that they would be able to save society by abolishing
prostitution, I replied in a few words which I wish to save from the
shipwreck of the newspapers in order to gather them in the shadow of
this book:

     "I have never wondered at finding philosophers who study man in
     Fichte or in Kant without having ever touched his palpitating body,
     or examined any of his fibers with the microscope; who advise the
     legislator to destroy in the social organism, with iron and fire,
     that livid and cancerous spot called prostitution; neither have I
     given the alarm or extolled it as a miracle when I heard the
     _auto-da-fé_ invoked against the houses of ill fame by moralists
     who have had the rare fortune of having been born without the sixth
     sense, or the still rarer merit of smothering it with the
     extinguisher of an iron will. But when I hear these intolerant
     cries from the mouth of a physician, I shake my head diffidently,
     and with a compassionate voice I ask myself: 'Is he really a
     physician? Has this moralist actually seen a man in convulsive
     delirium and cut into his cold and rigid flesh on the chilly marble
     slab of the anatomical cabinet? He who hurls the anathema at
     prostitution, is he really the physician who should act as a kind
     link between the legislator, who in man sees only a defendant to
     punish, and the philanthropist, who in him considers only an
     unhappy creature to heal and help?'

     "These and other questions I addressed to the illustrious Spanish
     physician Monlau when he proposed to his government the absolute
     suppression of the houses of ill fame; and then I had the pleasure
     of seeing my poor words printed in the progressive Spanish medical
     journals. Now I make the same reproach to Dr. Bergeret, who, in
     one of his memoirs on prostitution in the country places and small
     towns of France, went so far as to fling the anathema against that
     caustic wound which civilization has opened in the diseased flesh
     of the modern social organism; and I, with a sad air, repeat to the
     French physician a melancholy: '_Tu quoque, fili mi_?'

     "Bergeret lost much of his time and ink in narrating lurid stories
     of what occurred in some villages of France. And who does not know
     similar stories? We have them in Italy, in Germany; we can find
     them in every country where humanity loves and suffers, gets drunk
     and prostitutes itself; wherever the eyes of the authorities cannot
     penetrate into the most secret fissures of the social edifice where
     lie concealed the lurid parasites that sting and devour us. But
     between deploring the evils that are the results of clandestine
     prostitution and destroying all toleration on this ground there is
     an abyss over which the physician and the legislator should not
     pass on the waxen wings of an Arcadian flight, but which should be
     crossed over the solid bridge of a wise criticism.

     "Then, my dear moralist, my dear theorist, you say that men learn
     vice in the houses of ill fame; but, then, without taverns would
     there be no assassins, without pharmacists would there be no
     poisoners, without manufacturers of gunpowder and bayonets would
     there be no wars? And who, pray, is the cause of the existence of
     houses of ill fame, taverns, daggers, poisons, firearms, if not man
     himself, that man whom you ought to be able to understand if it is
     true that you also are made of the same dough? Your morals are
     those of the inquisitor who burns the sinner whom he cannot
     convert; they are as false and coarse as those of the legislator
     who has only the prison and the scaffold for the education of the
     guilty; as those of the surgeon who barbarously amputates the
     member which, with a wiser and more merciful science, he should
     preserve. Modern civilization substitutes the school for the
     inquisitor's stake, has more faith in books than in prisons and
     halters, more in preservative medicine than in the surgeon's
     knife. And as long as the social organism is diseased, as long as
     it is a poor creature imbued with evil humors, with many curious
     bones and many scrofulous tumors, we will kindly cauterize its
     flesh to keep it alive, to divert into more ignoble parts those
     acrid humors that would poison the sources of life, until we shall
     succeed with the tonic cure of education in renewing the blood in
     the veins of this old invalid and in pouring this new blood into
     his flesh, his bones and his nerves, to rebuild them.

     "This is why we still preserve the cautery of prostitution, and we
     wish to guard it with the same jealous care with which a physician
     keeps a precious wound open to save the life of a diseased

     "And believe me, O egregious colleague of the country beyond the
     Alps, when life shall be no longer threatened and the organism
     shall have new blood, then we will close this wound, too, together
     with many other ones which are still bleeding. We will close the
     house of voluptuousness when every man will have his nest and love
     will not be considered a crime any longer."

There are some savage races among which prostitution is unknown, while
no civilized nation is without prostitutes; on the contrary, every
country, even the most moral, has the high prostitutes and the very
high, the low and the very low. Not in all countries are prostitutes
cynically named according to the price they ask for their favors, as in
Persia, where they are termed "the fifty _tomani_," "the twenty
_tomani_," etc.; but everywhere a tariff is the index of the hierarchy
of vice and a scale of lechery. Alexander Severus did not want the money
collected through taxes on houses of prostitution to be paid into the
treasury; and Ulpian, his minister, used it for the maintenance of the
theaters and the public health. With Juvenalian sagacity, the government
of Brazil devotes to the regulation of vice the money received from the
sale of decorations and titles of nobility. We find everywhere women who
sell themselves, but we also find, to our honor, that society is
everywhere ashamed of this stain, conceals and does not mention it, and
a mysterious mephitic air hangs heavily over the simony of love.

A thousand muddy streamlets carry their tributes to prostitution; but at
the first source the cause is one and powerful: in man an imperious
appetite for voluptuousness, in woman an imperious want of bread or
licentiousness, or licentiousness and bread at the same time.
Unfortunately woman can always sell five minutes of voluptuousness
without love, without desire; she can sell herself with disgust in her
heart and hatred on her lips. And the joy she sells is paid for
according to the requirements of beauty, luxury, fashion, according to
the infamous art with which she knows how to feign pleasure and
counterfeit love. Procurers and procuresses hasten to the market of
lechery to test the flesh of the precious victims, to fatten the lean
and buy the plump for the higher bidder; and panders and bawds, keeping
within the shadow of the law, conceal in the lurid or gilded prisons of
prostitution that quivering herd of youth and shame. And prisoners in
the same gloomy atmosphere are martyrs of love and nymphomaniacs;
victims of hunger and of ignorance; fallen angels and foul demons; all
the lowest strata of feminine society, all the bloody carrions of the
great social battles.

There, in those dark haunts of licentiousness, man forgets how to love,
loses the holy poetry of the heart and the mysterious quivers of
sentiment, prostitutes the most gigantic forces of thought and
affection. Without hunger, he partakes of savory food; thirstless, he
becomes intoxicated; without the necessity of overcoming modesty, he
obtains everything, and money levels all virtues and concedes the
maddest polygamy; and there one sees the nude and chaste statue of Love
dragged in the fetid bog by a frolicsome tipsy crowd. Such is the love
that modern civilization offers to all those hundred thousand pariahs
who cannot find the straw to weave the chaste nest of the family, to all
those who cannot make a vow of chastity and do not wish to deceive an
innocent maiden or steal another man's woman.

Our civilized society can really be proud of this; the philanthropists
with their tearful dirges, the economists with their wise reflections,
the legislators with their elaborate codes, can join in a chorus to sing
hosannas to this stupendous solution of the problem. Either a starving
family or prostitution; either children cast into the depth of misery or
faith betrayed in the house of a friend; proletariate or infamy;
degradation or crime. Stupendous dilemmas that crown our society with
numberless horns and sow deception, hunger and corruption everywhere. If
a thick bark of hypocrisy did not cover the rotten trunk of our modern
civilization, what a horrible spectacle should we behold! And when a
sincere moralist or a true philosopher attempts to cut the bark away and
show to us through a little fissure how deep the decay is, then we flee
horrified and clamor against such impudence, such sacrilege!

The government should, therefore, deal with prostitution as a malady to
be treated, not because there is any hope of cure, but because society
owes to every sick person a physician and a bed. It should not be
permitted to grow, to spread, to parade its lurid sores, to cover itself
with tinsel and paint; but it should be watched tenderly as in a
hospital, so that in the passer-by it may awaken compassion rather than

And while the state keeps a good vigil, writers and teachers should
raise the level of general culture and teach the elect the paradise of
chastity, which contains a treasure of delights for the future of him
who waits (this, alas! the libertine will never be able to understand),
and preserves for true love, which all may hope to attain, the infinite
joys of a virgin voluptuousness. The sale of love should neither be
proclaimed as a feast of the human family, nor officially suppressed,
because it then overflows and inundates all the paths of society; it
should be tolerated and pitied, as we already tolerate and pity many
other maladies of our social organism.

To reach this sublime goal, to hope at least to attain it, we must above
all scrape off from modern love the hundred coats of hypocrisy; we must
not have our children learn love as a crime in the house of vice; but
immediately, at the first dawn of youth, they should be taught that it
is a sublime delight conceded to the good and the noble and is to be
conquered in the same manner as glory and wealth. Not the chambermaid or
the prostitute, but a modest and pure girl should be the first teacher
of love; a woman who should teach us love before voluptuousness, to be
chaste in our desires in order to possess her some day.

We conceal and believe that we are able with silence to suppress the
passions and suffocate the desires; but we have concealed too much and
have been silent too long. In the most puritanical country in the world,
England, one of the most honest and wisest physicians of London
published a book--that has already reached the ninth edition--in which
he frankly dared assert that free love, without fecundation, is the only
remedy against the proteiform corruption that invades modern society,
because of the impossibility for most of the people of morally
satisfying one of the most powerful needs. This book was a distressing
surprise to me. When they can write such a book as this in England and
devour nine editions, when an honest physician can calmly discuss
_preventive intercourse_, when Malthus finds such an eloquent and daring
commentator who brings his theory from the field of economy into that of
morality, of hygiene and even of religion, I believe it my duty to
affirm that society is thoroughly diseased and (I say it loudly) should
be cured.

Yes; modern society, infected with so much prostitution and adultery,
and incessantly proclaiming itself monogamous while it is largely
polygamous, demands a physician to cure its sores, to cleanse it from so
much degradation, to concede loves virtuous and more free, or at least
less soiled with filth and lies. And this physician must be a less
hypercritical and less exacting morality, but at the same time more
exalted, because more human; a morality that should teach us never to
separate voluptuousness from love, and that chastity is the most
beautiful and holiest of joys and the most watchful guardian of love.

The elect never prostitute themselves, not even in these times, because
they love, and because, having once entered the paradise of love, they
feel too great repugnance to descend to the mire of the simony of
voluptuousness. They should exert all their faculties with all their
strength in order that the masses, too, may elevate themselves to the
high spheres in which they dwell, and where they breathe a purer air and
cull the most delicate and beautiful flowers.



If you ask a hundred women what is the most common fault of love,
probably the same reply will be repeated a hundred times: "Love is
inconstant; love is a liar." If, on the other hand, you consult the
gloomy volumes in which man gathers the statistics of his crimes, you
will find several columns bristling with figures indicating the large
number of suicides and homicides for love; you will find no records of
inconstancy, and but rarely, scattered here and there, some cases of
adultery. The jurymen, then, that amorphous and chaotic mass in which
every idea of right and wrong dissolves and vanishes, always deal very
leniently with crimes for which the code would send the culprit to death
or to prison for life, and they often acquit the man who has turned
murderer for love.

In none of the human institutions is such impenetrable darkness as in
the field of love, where an intricate mass of reticences,
contradictions, tolerations and cruelties causes common sense to stumble
at every step and, what is worse, offends and wounds the sentiment of
justice. It is a written law that adultery is a crime to be punished
with the gravest penalties, but in actual life adultery is the most
common and most venial sin ever known; it is not only tolerated, but
fêted and almost accepted as a social institution. The incitement to
prostitution is considered a very serious crime, but many legislators
sell their daughters to a rich husband who cannot love her, never will
love her and will drive her to adultery with the force of irresistible
necessity. And is this not prostitution? Man is either not worthy of the
laws which he has imposed on himself, or he is rambling in a labyrinth
of maniacal vertigo; he is either an arrogant blockhead or a shameless

Man is a little of all this, but he is chiefly a hypocrite. He proclaims
solemnly to the four winds that he is a son of God and that he inhabits
the earth by chance and temporarily; born in Olympus, he will return
there soon and forever. He is a god on vacation who condescends to play
and eat with the peasants, but he is winged and lives only on ideals. A
moment later he forgets his proclamations, his braggardism and shows
more than ever that he is an animal of the soil; he sees the painful
contrast between what he has said and what he has done, covers himself
and goes into hiding. Such is the eternal formula of his eternal
contradictions. In love he lies more frequently and more brazenly than
in any other case. He has supposed for a moment that love, too, could be
just and hence measured on the same scale as the other sentiments, and
above all leveled by the common yoke of the other affections. And yet
love may possess all virtues; it may be merciful, heroic, kind,
generous, but it can never be just; born in injustice, it lives on
injustice and dies of injustice; it has but one right--strength; it
possesses only one weapon--arrogance.

When deceived love arms itself with an homicidal knife, I class that
crime among the most inevitable effects of instantaneous hatred and
natural revenge; when love is imposed as a duty on a girl, and instead
of love hatred is born, instead of affection contempt springs up, I
remark that love cannot be ordered for a fixed hour like a dinner, and
that, if infamies and bastards are born from the obscene nuptials of
gold and vanity, love has nothing to do with it, because love was
absent, and he who can prove an alibi is at once acquitted by the most
cruel and most stubborn of public prosecutors. When I see love kill
dignity, friendship, the holiest affections of the heart; when I see it
breaking with furious rage the iron bars of the cage in which a cruel
code of laws has imprisoned it, I acquit it instantly because love is
not a wild beast that can be shut up in a menagerie, but a creature as
free as air, that lives on bright light and burning suns, on the aroma
of the forest and the fragrance of the meadows. You have made it
hydrophobic with hunger and thirst; you have made it furious with your
own violence; and you complain because the mad creature bites and kills?
This is admitted to be true by universal consent; and as there is an
immense inequality between what the laws require and that of which human
loves are capable, men shrug their shoulders and forgive, forgive
always, forgive all, even where human justice should rise in all the
solemn grandeur of its majesty to protect the most sacred rights of
family and society. In the codes, love is often a crime; in the paths of
life, for the most rigorous individuals, it is at most a weakness--a
dear, a sympathetic weakness.

For me hypocrisy is a chain that ties and chokes love in modern society,
and I dare affirm that the only fault, the only crime which this
sentiment can commit is falsehood. Let us begin by freeing it from the
leprosy which infects, devours, disgraces it, and then we shall see what
remains sound beneath in that dear, nude and virginal love that Mother
Nature has conceded us. Let us first save the life of this poor
creature, and then we shall attend to the rest; we shall find out
whether it has other misfortunes, whether it can commit other crimes
besides that of lying.

In my opinion, love is today a liar from head to foot; a liar when it
swears and when it forswears; a liar when, a hundred times a day, it
pronounces the words _eternal_, _eternity_, _eternally_; it is a liar in
law and in life; it is unfaithful, a thief, a traitor, solely because it
is a liar. I may have a _Scipionian mania_, the fixed idea of a _delenda
Carthago_; but if I should have to answer the questions: "Which are the
true, the great loves?" "Which are the happy loves?" I would reply
without hesitation: "The sincere." All the faults of love are all lies;
almost all the misfortunes of love are the offspring of untruth; and,
finally, adultery is nothing but the most infamous of love's lies. "What
is," I will ask in turn, "the only remedy for unhappy loves, the only
anchor of salvation for betrayed loves?" "Sincerity, sincerity, nothing
but sincerity."

At the risk of seeing many disciples and many masters of love smile
skeptically, I will say at once that woman, from the first day she
loves, lies less than we do, and during the life of love she is less
unfaithful than we are. Man, in his first declaration, even when quite
sure that he loves, swears instantly, swears an eternity of infinite
affection; while woman, more modest, more timid, more reserved, answers
that she does not love yet; that she has not yet consulted her heart;
that, perhaps, she will love. The less one swears, the less one
forswears; and if a holy horror may deprive speech of some fiery accent
and some amorous expansion of inebriating expressions, it nevertheless
stamps it with virile dignity which makes it blessed among women, while
it gives the sexual relations a character of tender reserve and delicate
serenity. Man often uses the "eternal oaths" as weapons of seduction,
and parades them at every hour as a measure of the bottomless depths of
his love; but sometimes he swears sincerely, honestly, because nothing
so boldly generates eternity and infinity as does armed desire. It is
only too true, however, that the hasty and imprudent vow is a fruitful
father of lies and most fruitful grandparent of infidelity.

Very few are the eternal loves, as are geniuses, Venuses, and Apollos.
We all anxiously climb the mountain of the ideal, but few can get a
branch or a leaf of the sacred tree. Some loves of the lower orders last
years; others, months; some of them are as transient as the ephemera,
for which long is the life of a day. Now, frankness can give all loves
the baptism of honesty, and even a frivolous man can die without amorous
remorse if his loves were all honest. He has loved much and fleetingly,
but he has never lied, never betrayed anybody, never perjured himself.

Sometimes lies are told through compassion, and woman, more frequently
than we, striving in vain to keep alive a dying love, is loath to
inflict a cruel wound on the companion who still loves her, and
endeavors with a mighty effort to deceive herself and him, until through
habit of hypocrisy she succeeds in feigning a love that no longer
exists; and from lie to betrayal the road is short and slippery. The
lie at first was merciful, then it grew into a habit, and at last became
transformed into a crime.

No; lovers or husbands, companions of voluptuousness or vestals of the
family, never tell an untruth, even when it is suggested to you by pity.
It is hard, cruel, to see the blooming tree of a happy passion felled by
a sudden hurricane; tremendous is the rending of a heart that breaks in
a day under the shock of an atrocious blight; but these sorrows do not
debase us, and, although capable of killing, do not humiliate us. Love
killed by violence remains stretched on the ground as beautiful as a
thunderstruck angel, and memory weaves a wreath for him and with the
most precious aromas and balsams preserves him from putrefaction. Love
killed by the lingering tabes of a secret betrayal, is a leper who dies
in the fetidness of a hospital, a horror to himself and to the others; a
corpse slowly corroded by phthisis and scrofula, leaving no trace
whatever of the time when he, too, was a young and robust organism.

False and cruel is the pity that causes us to simulate a love which no
longer exists. No sorrow is greater than that which deception inflicts
upon us; love, self-esteem, self-love, love of ownership, all the
warmest and most powerful of human affections, are pierced with a
hundred stabs at the same time, and the pain is so intense that it
poisons all our life with wormwood and gall. How beautiful, instead, how
sublime is a love that, without swearing eternity or infinity, lasts
eternal and infinite as long as two human hearts throb together; how
beautiful is a love that needs no chains and lives on faith and liberty!

To love means to be all of another; to be loved means to have become a
living part of another: the lie begins when, with cynical
licentiousness, the man or the woman is divided in two parts, and the
body is given to one, the soul, as it were, to the other. Love is a
whole that cannot be divided without being killed, and, unless
voluptuousness is reduced to a plain question of hygiene, one cannot
love two human creatures at the same time with that sentiment which for
its superiority over all other affections is called love, without
betraying both. I hold in much higher estimation a woman who, after a
long career of facile loves, can say, "I have never loved two men at the
same time," than a bigoted matron who boasts of having never betrayed
her duties as a spouse because with wise and cautious lechery she knows
how to sell voluptuousness without seriously compromising the property
reserved for the husband.

Lies are all infamous; but in love there are some venial and some
perfidious: it is one thing to deceive an old libertine and another to
betray a faithful husband; one to lie to a frivolous coquette, another
to deceive a virtuous woman. Further on we shall outline the rights and
duties of love; but here we must point out the stem from which they
hang, like the grapes from their stalk. Woman belongs to man, man
belongs to woman; Love is the son of the most free selection; it is born
when it wants and as it wants; it appears on the plains or on the summit
of the mountains; it is born nude and as free as the air; it does not
ask for passports, because it passes with impunity through all the
police lines.

Men and women, free and pure, you should seek and love each other; study
true love, and consecrate it with the only vow that love should make
when it would close itself in the temple of the family. If you truly
love, if you are worthy of each other, if your love offends no superior
duty, no human force can oppose your powerful attraction, and nature and
men will bless your selection. Read and read again all that I have
written on the first loves; swear seldom; never swear if you possess
this virtue; at most swear but once, the first and last oath that will
unite you in wedlock. The compact violated in the first steps of the
life of love is a murder and prepares the career of a brigand tolerated
by civilization. To betray a virgin is, in so far as the law is
concerned, a question for the public prosecutor or for the mayor of your
town; to betray her without dishonoring her is an anonymous infamy that
poisons two existences and two loves, that leaves in you an eternal
bitterness, in the woman an eternal rancor. Love, seek, study each
other, but never swear, never lie to the maiden who at the dawn of youth
demands of the first sun a ray to enlighten and warm her.

There is, however, a lie in love that excels all lies, a betrayal that
surpasses all others; there is a perfidiousness that outclasses every
assassination, every homicide, every rape: love with the wife of
another, a crime which, protected by the law, cherished by consuetudes,
fêted by our infamously hypocritical customs, avoids prison and scaffold
only because it takes the simple and easy precaution not to be termed
adultery. To introduce ourselves into the sanctuary of a happy family,
to become a friend to him whom we wish to betray, to cover him with the
mantle of our benevolent protection; to seduce slowly and pitilessly the
wife of another; with surprise, with the thousand pitfalls of moral
violence to open for her an abyss into which she will fall; to acquire
with the first conquest the impunity of a long series of crimes and open
in the family a large spring of gall that will poison two or three
generations: to do all this without expense and without danger,--these
in our century are termed the deeds of astute men, the consolation of
unhappy wives; and it can be done once, twice, ten times without the
perpetrators losing either the love of women or the esteem of men.

To be seized by a vertigo of the senses, to embrace publicly the wife of
another, or to let oneself be seen by her husband, is called adultery,
and, according to the circumstances and, above all, the gravity of the
scandal, it means a journey to prison or to some other rigorous penal
institution; it means disgrace to one's name and to that of one's
children. Modern society particularly recommends prudence; it does not
want any scandal; it does not want to be disturbed in its loves so amply
polygamous, but so piously cautious; modern civilization does not wish
to behold publicly any nudity whatever; it wishes to be believed moral,
respectful and respected. It matters little and is none of its concern
if an astute libertine spends his youth in filling families with
bastards, awaiting the day when he can abandon the betrayed wives for a
convenient marriage. It is a private affair with which husbands and
wives should occupy themselves individually. It is recommended to do
things nicely, to make no noise, to take good care of the keyholes and
listen attentively to the footsteps of those who walk in the apartments.
The meshes of the law are wide, very wide; he must be more than an idiot
who falls into them and cannot extricate himself. The flag of matrimony
covers all contraband; to try to establish one's paternity is
prohibited; the sons born of a legitimate couple are legitimate. Onward,
onward! For heaven's sake do not bother with your whims and your
embarrassing declarations of foreign merchandise. The customs, officers
close their eyes and do not see, shut their ears and do not hear; why
are you such an idiotic crowd as to wish to awaken them with your
imprudent cries? Onward, onward! The meshes of the law are wide.
Bastardize families, falsify names and surnames, spread mendacity and
sow deception in all the paths of social and civil life! Disseminate
lies and scatter deceptions everywhere! See to it that there shall be no
wall against which to lean, no road that can be trod without injuring
the foot with a sharp stone or a piece of poisoned glass! Make the name
of father a senseless word, that of mother a blasphemy!



"Love me! You must love me!" This is a cry of sorrow that often man
utters, and oftener a forsaken woman; but it generally is a vain cry. To
demand love as a right is one of the greatest follies; it is like asking
poetry of the slave of thought, or expecting to find the perfumes of the
rose and the cedar in the frigid zones that glaciate the head and the
feet of our planet. Lovers, however, have always the right to hurl into
space another cry of sorrow: "You must not betray me!" Better to snatch
from one's hand the cup of love and shatter it into a thousand pieces
than stealthily to pour into it the poison of betrayal or the wormwood
of indifference. Love bursts forth spontaneously from the human heart,
and draws all its beauty and strength from the infinite freedom of the
horizon in which it moves. The laws that govern it are as simple as the
simplest law of elementary physics: to attract, to unite, to render love
for love, sweetness for sweetness, to give joy to those who give us so
much joy, make happy those who make us happy: such is its law. If love
were only a contact of hearts and thoughts; if, having ascended to
heaven, you have descended from it without an angel; if in your embraces
you have not rekindled the torch of life, greet each other as friends,
bless the happy hours that your love has conceded you, and preserve in
the most precious casket and among the dearest things the memory of the
time that is no more. Never close a day of paradise with a blasphemy or
a remorse; the tears of regret for what you have lost can be the dew of
a summer night that tempers the ardor of the enamored corollas; but your
tears should not be cursed by a lie, a betrayal, an insult.

The only right--that of not being deceived--has its counterpart in a
very simple duty--that of making oneself beloved. You cannot command
love, but through beauty of form, quickness of mind, voluptuous grace of
movements or virtues of the heart you have awakened the affection of
affections; if you know how to preserve it, you will be loved forever.
On the very first page of every code of love, at the beginning of every
gospel of two lovers, I would always write this sentence: "Not to be
loved is always a great fault." And you will find this sentence written
in a hundred different forms in the pages of my book.

Ask the most fortunate of women if she has not often felt impelled to
reconquer a love that threatened to fly away. She jealously conceals the
numberless stratagems with which she warmed the tepid, aroused the
sleeping, caused the wearied to smile, made hungry and thirsty him who
had the happy misfortune of overgorging himself at the banquet of
voluptuousness. Man is, by nature, polygamous, more unfaithful, more
brutal, more capricious, more licentious than woman, and it is her duty
to make him monogamous, faithful, constantly tender and modestly virile.
If it is true that man attacks and conquers, it is also very true that
nature assigns to woman the more difficult task of keeping the conquest,
of being the vestal of that fire which man has nearly always been the
first to kindle. This is perhaps the most common formula that expresses
the different missions which man and woman have in love. To us to kindle
the fire, to our companion to keep it burning.

By all that you hold most sacred on earth, do not be so brutal as to
record the embrace among the rights and duties of love. This is written
in the code, and is daily repeated by those Boeotians for whom love is
but the union of male and female. Voluptuousness should be inebriating
foam that floats on the quivering wave of passion and overflows and
falls irresistibly into those abysses where man loses the consciousness
of existence and believes in the infinite; it cannot be a feast ordered
for a stated hour, much less a tribute exacted with the rudeness of a
tax collector. How many delicate loves were extinguished by the
sacrilegious hand of an arrogant desire, which would assume the air of
command and tread the ground with the iron boot of an alleged right! No;
the embrace is not a right and much less a duty: it is a unanimous
consent of two powerful energies that seek each other through infinite
space and, suavely struggling against each other, die together in an
ocean of sweetness.

Sincerity and fidelity, which are after all an identical thing and
constitute the entire code of love, should never be on the lips of two
lovers, and the words _right_ and _duty_ should be debarred from the
amorous vocabulary. Who ever loses his time in discussing the beauties
of the sun? Who doubts that air is necessary to live? When certain
things begin to be discussed, they are already in serious danger of
being lost; and if a continuous, vexatious investigation should at every
hour cast the shadow of doubt upon the faithfulness of one's companion,
the latter would have the right of feeling wretchedly loved or at least
cruelly loved. I do not fear sudden anger between two lovers, or the
querulous and tender lamentations; but I have a deep horror of every
question about right and duty. When these discourses appear on the
horizon, I always see at the same time dark clouds massing; I see
looming up the horns of Balzac's tawny moon.

Are the rights of love equal in man and woman? No! a thousand times no!
I say so in a loud voice and after the first white hairs and a wide
experience permit me to believe that I speak without anger or love. No;
the sin of infidelity is not the same in Adam and in Eve: in the latter
it is a hundred times greater. As a right and before the courts all
parties are equal, but man and woman differ too greatly to be punished
in the same measure. If the code is one, the jurors are a thousand; many
are the accusers, many the lawyers; and the sentence of amorous betrayal
has already been pronounced by all civilized nations and always in the
same manner. This unanimous consent was not imposed by the arrogance of
men, who alone were the legislators before the courts and judges in the
forum of public opinion. No; this unanimous consent was dictated by a
deep consciousness of social necessities, by a more profound and subtler
justice that descends into the inmost recess of things to find the roots
of that awkward and superficial justice which asserts that all men are
equal before the law. How false this dogma is can be sufficiently proved
by the history of the jury system, one of the institutions on which our
century seems to pride itself.

From man society exacts a hundred different and difficult virtues: he
must give his blood for his country and the sweat of his brow for his
family and for society; he must be strong, ambitious; he must not allow
himself to be corrupted by gold or the seductions of vanity. A
physician, he must throw himself into the inglorious and tremendous
battle of epidemic; a soldier, he must hold his head high in the face of
murderous fire; a lawyer, he must resist the temptations of gold and
ambition; a statesman, he must fight against himself, against his
family, for the welfare of his country. Defender of the weak, of the
shipwrecked, of the poor, natural defender of the female half of the
human species and of all the individuals who are of no value to society,
he is a warrior perpetually under arms, and should he neglect one of his
duties, he is branded as a coward; society despises him, woman does not
want him, everyone ignores him.

Woman, on the contrary, can be a coward in the face of fire, of work, of
contagion, and of all the battles of life; she can be ignorant and
timorous and still be loved and esteemed by all; for in her weakness
approaches grace, and it is so sweet to us to take the faint-hearted
dove to our bosom and comfort her with our courage, defend her with our

And even blunders are amusing when pronounced by the beautiful lips of a
beloved woman! We forgive her if she very rarely reaches the height of
genius and more rarely than we attains the average height of the great
intellectual minds; we forgive her if she has no profession, if she does
not earn her bread with work. Of her we ask only one thing: _fidelity_;
from her we exact only one virtue: _fidelity_! Pray, O most gentle and
divine companions, on what side does the scale of the balance fall?
Certainly not our side.

Woman may be humble, ignorant, tremble at every leaf that quivers, at
every wing that vibrates in the air; but she should be faithful to him
who loves her. She may yield to everything, but must resist the
seductions of defiant glances and the corruptions of gold and vanity;
she should be the heroine of sentiment, as we are the heroes of all the
battles of life. She is the vestal of our heart and blood. While we are
fighting in one field for her, for the name she bears, for the honor of
our children, she should assiduously and faithfully watch the sacred
fire of fidelity, that it may not die out through neglect or be
overthrown and extinguished by the hurricane. This virtue only we ask of
her; is it, perhaps, too much? What is her duty, then? What is the
difficult struggle that shall give her also the mark of character and
make her equal to us, worthy to be our companion? If she is beautiful,
we are strong; if she is graceful, we are gifted. For her we have
conquered our planet, subdued the lightning, destroyed the beasts of
prey, invented arts, created sciences. But neither beauty nor grace nor
wit is sufficient for a man to deem himself civilized; there are imposed
on us a thousand dangers, on her but one: that of seduction. We are
dragged into a hundred battles; she has only to gain victory over the
senses. From us the world expects a hundred virtues; from her but one:
_faith_. Are we, then, tyrants? Are we too exacting with her whom we
love so much, for whom we do everything, to whom we dedicate all our
thoughts, our glories, our dreams and our labors?

But there is another powerful reason for which the duties of love are
differently distributed between man and woman. Man, by the special
mission which his sex imposes on him, is a sudden aggressor and has
organic necessities which are unknown to woman, and which he can satisfy
with the rapidity of lightning. Without losing his love, he may have a
caprice more fleeting than the lightning flash, and which, once
vanished, leaves behind not even a pinch of ashes. I neither praise nor
justify these sudden surprises of the senses, these passing
infidelities; but I describe them because I find them frequently in the
aggressive and petulant nature of the virile sex. Woman, instead, must
defend herself. Man loses a great part of energy in the tooth that bites
and in the claws that firmly hold the prey. Woman draws in her horns,
like the snail does in the spires of its labyrinth, and, languidly and
voluptuously concealed in the foam of her shell of love, allows herself
to be caressed. She loses nothing in the struggle for conquest, and she
is wholly consumed in the delights of letting herself be loved. Woman
also may have caprices of the senses, but they are light clouds which no
sooner appear than they are dissolved in the deep azure of the skies,
and do not become ardent desires until the human claws press and
condense them. Woman is silent even when she desires. Very weak in the
attack, she is formidable in the defense, and has in herself so much
energy as to stop and disarm a legion of combatants. With much
shrewdness she defends her weakness every day, telling us that
seductions wage war upon her from all quarters, while we are the first
to seek the opportunities of sin. This is one of the most insidious
sophisms, but it is also one of the weakest arguments of defense. Man
attacks and assails simply because he is a man and could not wait for
the seductions to come to him without condemning himself to be a eunuch
and without inverting the most elementary and most inexorable laws of
nature. Nor would a woman commit less of a sacrilege in turning from the
defensive to the offensive, profaning her sex and violating nature in
that which it holds most sacred and immutable.

Not in vain has nature made the human female a virgin, and denied us the
sorrowful virtue of virginity. The woman who yields to the first amorous
pruriency is a Messalina; the man who darts the first arrow of love is a
warrior who with wise prudence prepares the weapons for the long battle
that awaits him. Man begins with "yes" and "I will"; woman begins and
ends with "no" and "I will not." The sudden caprice of the senses is in
her harassed by so many physical, social and religious impediments that
she must really be more than an Amazon to overthrow them in a single
dash. Everything incites man to a swift assault which perhaps does not
even bruise the epidermis of his heart; everything defends woman from
these caprices. To yield she must have had a long struggle against
nature and society; laws and religions offer her a thousand allies for
defense, and not once in a hundred times she can say without touching
the frontiers of prostitution: "I had a caprice." No one believes in the
efficiency of overbearingness, much less woman herself, unless she
should need this faith to justify her own sin. In love every fault,
every crime, even patricide and incest, are possible--but not theft. Let
woman never profane herself nor spoil the cause, often very just, which
she defends, by speaking of seduction and violence. Let her rather speak
of the irresistible impulse of vengeance, of the law of retaliation; let
her discuss the natural right, because there she is on the ground of
truth and justice; let her complain aloud because in the human organism
she is the left side, the weakest, the least honored and the most
oppressed. Let her demand the right to love and to be loved, but never
ask equality of punishment for sins too disparate.

Nor does society measure human guilt only according to the reckoning of
the natural right; but the more sorrow a crime generates and the more it
offends human needs, the more severe the punishment inflicted by
society. Have you ever thought of the various consequences of a caprice
of infidelity, according as a man or a woman is guilty? For man the
caprice of an hour is a stain that tarnishes the bright mirror of a
sworn faith, of an immaculate and sublime love; but a few moments
afterward a new kiss, more ardent and pregnant with the pungent aroma of
remorse, revives love perhaps more intensely and makes impossible for
long years, perhaps forever, another sudden infidelity. The amorous
caprice may be a blasphemy that breaks forth from the lips of a saint,
but which is immediately deterged by a wave of holy prayer; it is the
weakness of a robust runner who stumbles against a stone, but proudly
resumes his way and with energetic steps recovers the space lost a
hundredfold. The amorous caprice of a woman may in a single instant
procreate a bastard, poison the wave of milk and honey of an entire
family, sow a generation of fraternal hatreds, of infinite sorrows,
overflow into a vast field, inundating everything with wormwood and
gall. In man such a caprice is a stain, in woman a gangrene; in man a
wound by a pin, in woman the caries of a bone; in man a leaf that falls,
in woman a hurricane that fells a whole forest; in man a misdemeanor, in
woman a felony; in man the remorse of an hour, in woman a monument of
infamy that time will never efface.



Love is not only a voluptuousness given and returned, the interweaving
and untying of instantaneous knots, but a compact between two creatures
who, after having given themselves to each other, may in a single
instant have created a family, perhaps a nation. In man, love is
fecundation as well, but is, above all, the interweaving of two
existences, a combination of new relations, a deep modification of the
manner of existence for a man and a woman.

Even in the lowest races, even where morality is only interest defended
by strength and sacrifice is a folly, where phantoms of religious
sentiment scarcely exist, where they bury the old mother alive, or
celebrate victories and vintage with a sea of blood; even there love is
bound by a compact, silent or sworn. Prostitution also is a compact that
may last an hour or a minute, but is always a compact. In any case, the
sale and purchase of voluptuousness cannot found a family, a tribe, a
people; and even the loosest libertine and the wildest savage feel other
needs than that of fecundating a female: they feel the necessity of
loving a woman. And to love does not mean to unite the members of two
bodies in a single knot, but to possess each other a long time, and to
desire, to defend, to protect each other; it means to hold oneself
responsible to nature for the weakness of one creature and the violence
of another, for the future of the being whom we have procreated together
and brought into the world.

Woman, when fecundated, is for nine months weaker and more vulnerable;
the woman who is in travail is a wounded creature; the woman who nurses
can neither flee nor defend herself, and the man-child is for a long
time defenseless and very weak. The man, then, who has loved a companion
even for one day becomes for a long time her friend and protector
without ceasing to be her lover. This is the simplest form of the
nuptial compact, which is found in many of the lower nations. While the
savage female leans affectionately and confidingly on the male who has
made her fruitful, he often finds himself to be a man when his companion
cannot be a woman, and he then fecundates other females, who are added
to his possessions and whom he protects with the same devotion and
affection with which he protects and defends the first woman who was
his. The very weak man can have but one female, or he must often do
without her, because the strong men have more than one and the very
strong have many, who often dwell merrily under one roof without being
in the least jealous of one another. A polygamy limited to a few females
is the most common form of human society in the lower races, and our
organism is so imbued with this custom that even in the highest forms of
civilization, where morality and religion do not lend their valid
support, monogamy slips and falls, to give place to a polygamy more or
less acknowledged or concealed.

We, however, must occupy ourselves only with our own society, where the
compact of love has but one moral form: _matrimony_; while it has
various forms that belong to the world of pathology, namely,
_prostitution_, _rape_, _concubinage_.

We have already studied prostitution. It is the sale of voluptuousness,
the possession of bodies without love, the swindling and deceiving of
nature; and if nature, only too often cruel, causes a new creature to be
generated through a purchased embrace, that creature will enter the
world with the mark of infamy on its brow, and, anonymous child of vice,
will be cast by society into the most obscure corner of the social
vaults, where the things lie which we wish to efface, forget and allow
to die. Prostitution is a safety-valve only too necessary in our immoral
and hypocritical society, wretchedly constituted, and it exists to prove
with most cruel eloquence that many men cannot love, that very many men
should not love.

We have also dealt with rape in the house of others. Even this greatest
of the crimes of love we have been compelled to discuss: secret
agreement of two traitors who, in the shadow of a social and holy
compact, violate the faith of the family and bastardize the world; vile
contract of the thief with the procurer, who assassinate in the dark and
conceal the victim in the wide folds or the deep fissures of our written

Concubinage in many imperfect societies, and even among us, is a form of
matrimony which lacks only religious and civil consecration. It is more
despicable for its origin than for the nature of the compact that binds
it, because if it lasted eternally, supported only by the word of honor
of two creatures who love each other, it would be a true and proper
marriage, sealed by the faith of two lovers. Only too often, however,
concubinage has an obscure and even shameful origin: it is domestic
lechery which has become a habit; it is a vulgar custom that has a
periodical type: mustiness of the kitchen or stench of the hospital.
Born between the Turkish babooshes and the nightcaps, between the
after-dinner yawns and the advices of the hygienist, it has a tinge of
prostitution and rape, but knows neither the inebriation of the one nor
the pungent remorse of the other. It is a vulgar pickpocket, who begs
pardon of the public and is ashamed of himself and weeps when caught in
the act; it is something low, plebeian and shameful, that does not admit
of public confession, and hides like a wound in the leg or a false
tooth; it debases love to pygmy proportions, lowers the level of the
spouse and elevates that of the chambermaid. It is an upstart who can
dress well, but smells of the stable; a despicable, often even
ridiculous creature, who is merely tolerated.

When one refrains from assuming all moral responsibility; when, through
sluggishness, ignorance or skepticism, or for all these reasons, one
abdicates the supreme primacy of husband and father, a right which not
even the nude cannibal will relinquish, one becomes in modern society a
sort of convict freed on parole, to whom liberty is granted on condition
that he will regularly report to the police; a sort of brigand allowed
at large, who, for lack of proof, cannot be sentenced to prison. A
hundred times better, prostitution with its degradations and vile
infirmities! Public opinion, laws, books should scourge and place in the
pillory of ridicule and opprobrium this bastard compact of concubinage,
denying it all assent, consent and toleration. And women too, who, more
than the laws, can be the avengers of these social degradations, should
flagellate these amphibia of love, denying them caresses and esteem, and
showing to them at every hour, with cruel art, how different are the
voluptuous aromas of true love from the daily slop of domestic

The man of a high race, who aspires to be called a civilized man, should
be monogamous, and cannot consecrate his love with any other compact
than matrimony.

Matrimony should be a free, a very free selection, for the woman as much
as for the man; it should be the selection of selections, the typical

As long as we deny the young woman a free and wise education so that she
may choose well; as long as we deny her the same right of selection as
man possesses, we never will be able to elevate matrimony. The common
consciousness in two creatures that they have chosen each other freely
and that they love each other without any bond of interest, any pressure
of authority, of prejudice, of ambition, is the sacred corner-stone on
which the most splendid temples of conjugal happiness are erected, and
it has sufficient power to preserve that happiness amidst the greatest
domestic storms.

Neither do I believe in sudden and irresistible loves, nor in the future
happiness of a married couple who, without straw to weave the nest, in
the open country, amid the frosts of misery, wish to erect a temple to
Love. No; matrimony is love and should be nothing except love. But love
is nude and wants to be clothed; love is delicate, and wants to be
nourished and protected from the winds and the frosts; love is
fruitful, and should have bread and wine to keep alive the little angels
that will bloom in its garden. All this should be known by our young
girls; our authority should go no further than temporizing; we should
never impose anything on lovers except patience; and this in itself is
sufficient to cause many transient desires to vanish, while it
invigorates true loves. But in any case, and always, selection should be
free, and to prepare for it the education of our daughters should be
more sincere, more frank, less hypocritical, less false. Teach your
child modesty and personal dignity, and you will see that with such
sentiments the fortress you wish to guard will very rarely capitulate.
Perpetual diffidence rouses many false alarms, stirs up in many
frivolous and touchy natures the desire for spite and revenge.
Diffidence always in arms gives one a pessimistic idea of the virtues of
mothers; perhaps they remember how weakly they resisted temptation and
they try by every art to avoid it, instead of strengthening the forces
that should defend virtue.

The free selection of woman is much more important in our society,
because she is not ignorant of the fact that in marriage she will find
an immense liberty; perhaps she also divines that, even though she
should not love the official spouse, she can still love and be loved.
When a society is entirely saturated with adultery and hypocrisy, even
the chaste and ingenuous maiden is dimly prescient of certain things
which she dares not acknowledge to herself. Without leaving the domestic
nest, she may perhaps know with what infamy a family may become sullied;
she has, perhaps, more than once repeated to herself: "I will not sin,
but--I, too, could sin with impunity."

Free selection is the best guarantee of faith; it is the only touchstone
by which the true natural rights of mutual fidelity are tried. No one
has the right to cast the first stone at the adulteress if she,
ignorant, was dragged to the altar; no wife can be condemned if she was
forced to sign the compact like a victim and a slave instead of as a
woman and a lover.

All these reforms which must elevate matrimony will be but slowly
secured through the progress of education and customs, through morality
strengthened by science and not by fear, through greater respect for the
liberty of woman, who must be raised from the low level where modern
society has still left her.


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