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    Marriage, Women and Divorce by George Jean Nathan

    One of the fondest companions from my earlier days was theater critic George Jean Nathan, whose shameless hedonism mirrored mine: "What interests me in life is the surface of life: life's music and color, its charm and ease, its humor and its loveliness." He shared with me a disinterest in the great problems of the world, which made him an appealing but provincial figure: "The great problems of the world —social, political, economic, and theological—do not concern me in the slightest." Rereading him now, however, I notice how much he must have influenced me. The man's continuous insight, humor and eloquence have blown me away -- again. As Charles Angoff said of him, "Nathan has especially endeared himself to a host of readers by his utter lack of respectability, his persistent and wholly unmeasured childlike delight in saying precisely what is in his mind." One of his favorite subjects -- as of his partner in crime, H.L. Mencken -- was women.

    His writings contain a goldmine of truths and half-truths about women. "Woman is and always has been primarily a plaything . . . in her heart of hearts she knows the truth of it." "[A]ll women are, at bottom, much the same." He did not believe in women's suffrage, believing it had not improved politics -- women in love always voted like their partners, while women not in love did not have valuable opinions worth taking seriously. He was a much greater aphorist and writer of maxims than H.L. Mencken, crafting famous ones like: "Love is the emotion that a woman feels always for a poodle dog and sometimes for a man" and "When a woman past thirty embraces the man she loves, she embraces all the dreams that she has dreamt and lost irrevocably" and "Marriage is based on the theory that when a man discovers a particular brand of beer exactly to his taste he should at once throw up his job and go to work in the brewery."

    He remained a bachelor for most of his life, citing simple reasons: "I have never married because, very simply, in the language of a current music-show ditty, I am having too much fun. I can think of nothing that marriage could give me, but I can think of many things it could take away from me." He did fool around with women often. "But, you ask, why fool yourself with women? I ask, in turn, why fool yourself with the whiskey you drink or the God you believe in? The temporary effect is good enough, and it all will not matter a damn after you are dead." To this extent, he knew what he was doing, seeing through the flirting game: "The most successful technique that a man may employ with a woman is to show interest in her but appear not to care." He playfully differentiated between the husband and the lover: "The man who exercises his intelligence in the presence of a woman may gain a friend or a wife, but never a sweetheart." He loved slender European ladies, writing about them sentimentally especially in the Paris chapter from Europe After 8:15 (co-written with H.L. Mencken and Willard Wright). His love for the slender earned him criticism from less graceful women: "In the business of female acting, sentiment demands slenderness. The moment sentiment weighs 135 pounds, it becomes comedy; the moment it touches 136, it becomes farce; the moment it goes to 140, it becomes burlesque."

    Nathan was a critic of the theater all his life, and his worldview was distinctly theatrical. He found life just another stage -- and the game of love was one of its biggest burlesques. Love as practiced in society was nothing but acting: "Finding himself in love, as the phrase is, he synchronously finds it necessary for himself to take on the emotional and mental attributes of an actor, and to conduct himself much after the manner of a mime cast for the leading role in a romantic drama. In the degree that he succeeds in this is he successful in impressing, captivating and winning the heart and hand of his lady love." He also observed women were naturally inclined to acting and faking: "Choosing the stage as a profession, American women make a much better showing than American men for the same reason that Englishmen make a much better showing than American men. Women, and Englishmen, are actors by nature."

    He realized the dating market was defined by a lack of options, and that women never got their first choice: "I long ago wrote a note to the effect that the man a young woman marries is almost always her second choice. I now beg leave to revise that note. The man a young woman marries is almost always her third choice, if that. Is there, by way of proof, a single young woman in America who would not kick out the man she is to marry, whatever his position in her affections, if the Prince of Wales wanted her for his wife?" At the same time, he again differentiated between the husband and the lover, realizing a woman's first choice (the lover) would never be a suitable husband: "A woman’s first choice—the man closest to her heart and the one who, had the Fates been kind, she would have gained for mate—is generally a man much less suited to the profession of husband than the temporarily spurned fellow in whom—as second choice—she eventually seeks solace." Not willing to give up his freedom to serve as the dull husband who eventually replaces fantasy about the perfect lover, he married very late in his life -- when he truly needed it, his health quickly deteriorating.

    Below are numerous excerpts from essays, reviews, books and burlesques he wrote. I leave you with my favorite maxim of his: "Marriage is the reward that women graciously withhold from the men they have truly loved."

    Attitude toward Love and Marriage

    1.
    LOVE is always a tragedy for the woman. That tragedy she never succeeds entirely in escaping. It is sometimes the tragedy of a broken heart, sometimes the greater tragedy of fulfilment. A broken heart is a monument to a love that will never die; fulfilment is a monument to a love that is already on its deathbed.

    2.
    Of the two loves—that which is felt deeply and that which is simulated—the second becomes the stronger with the passing of time. A woman, for example, forgets the grand passion of her life in the paraphrased and substitute love that has brought her a husband, a home and, with the flood of the years, peace and ease and a remote tranquility.

    3.
    Perhaps the happiest time in the average hansdoodle’s life is three weeks before his marriage. It is then that the lady of his knightly yen is just far enough from his reach to enravish and englamor him and yet not near enough to give him that moment of dubiety and pause that comes, in such cases, to even the humblest of God’s boobs. The altar is still remote enough to gain enchantment from the loan of distance and not close enough to frighten him. The hansdoodle thus stands momentarily in that most beautiful of all lands, the no-man’s land of romantic love. But as the three weeks draw nearer and nearer to the amorous electric chair, his happiness grows correspondingly less and less. For the hansdoodle, no less than the rest of us professors, gradually begins to be besieged by doubts, soever small, that he actually wants what he wants when he wants it. Three weeks ago, he gave up nothing—nothing of freedom, nothing of irresponsibility, nothing of tzigane fancy. But now, at the altar, he sees in a flash what he is leaving behind him—all those things that he has convinced himself he no longer cares for but which yet, as he climbs the church steps, begin to seem never so slightly desirable. His pulse beats with happiness, but his mind ticks with a faint homesickness for the security of the day before, and the day before that, and the days and days before them. And then the honeymoon. And then the hundred and one inevitable little nuisances and concerns that take just a bit of the edge off an erstwhile inviolate romantic dream. And then the days ahead. Often happy, these days, doubtless, but days that miss something—that all important and forever vanished something—of those glad and trembling days three weeks before his anticipation, his illusion and his love were duly checked and labeled.

    4.
    To say that nine-tenths of marriages are unhappy is doubtless untrue. But, looking about me, I venture, and not without a reasonable amount of confidence, the opinion that the marriages that are happy are chiefly those in the period of the twenties and those of the early fifties and beyond. Marriage in these groups of years is apparently pleasant and agreeable to the parties concerned; during these spaces of time there seems to be little or no disagreement or unhappiness. But marriage during the period of the thirties and forties is apparently fraught with trials and tribulations. The couple that hangs together in perfect accord during its thirties and forties is as rare as the ducatoon of Priuli.

    5.
    A man’s wife is his compromise with the illusion of his first sweetheart.

    6.
    It is a popular belief, largely cultivated by men themselves, that man is a rooster who would achieve grand delight and satisfaction if, like his Turkish brother, he were permitted to have a harem. While it is perhaps true that here and there one might find a barber, or a jewelry drummer or a movie actor who would actually enjoy such an arrangement, it is far from true that the average man would relish it in the slightest. The average man would care for a plurality of women no more than he cares for a plurality of pairs of patent leather shoes. His taste is pretty uniformly for one woman, one toothbrush, one flag. That taste may undergo a change, of course; it often does. But he would have no more use for six or seven wives—spiritually, emotionally or physically—than he would have for six or seven back collar buttons. To argue that, because of his biological nature, he would have use for a dozen bathrooms.

    7.
    Marriage is the reward that women graciously withhold from the men they have truly loved.

    8.
    A close student of matrimony of many years’ standing, it seems to me that the average male candidate for the honor is as greatly in need of professional advice as any other ailing man and that, neglecting to seek this advice, he lays himself open to quite unnecessary risks and hazards. When a man plans to get married—and many a man plans to enter the matrimonial state, whether by instinct, hereditary impulses, tradition, or in the interests of what he believes to be his future well-being and happiness, long before he has picked out the woman who is to be his wife—when, as I say, such a man plans to engage nuptial bliss he seldom if ever seriously considers what type of woman would be the best and safest, and not only the best and safest but the most beneficent, to take unto his bosom. Love, beauty, character, position—such things he meditates upon, but he gives no thought to subjects of much bulkier importance and, giving them no thought, often learns of them, much to his sorrow, when it is too late.
    It is my belief, and I pass on the suggestion to young men contemplating holy wedlock, that an orphan is perhaps of all women the one best fitted to be a desirable wife. The fact that she is an orphan automatically gets rid of the father-in-law and mother-in-law nuisance. She is alone in the world and grateful to the man who marries her. Having no one who is very close to her, her husband will seem closer to her than he would to a wife whose parents, or at least one of whose parents, were still living. Furthermore, the orphan is always the more tractable, wistful and tender woman. She has known sorrow, and sorrow, as the old saw wisely hath it, maketh a woman beautiful in the heart. But if the young man open to the lures and splendors of matrimony does not happen to love an orphan, but loves instead, shall we say, a widow, what advice then? My advice then—and I may be forgiven for observing that it is grounded upon a study of the problem ranging over a period of thirty-five years—my advice is to marry only a widow whose first husband either beat her or who died disgracefully, as by having been hanged or being shot in a bawdy house or getting ptomaine poisoning from a free-lunch kippered herring. If the widow’s first husband is inabsentia for other reasons or by virtue of a dignified demise, she will begin to think of him and brag about him a few years after her second marriage, and that marriage will then quickly begin heading for the rocks. Only the widow who hates the memory of Spouse I can make a happy mate for Candidate II. But, yet again, if it is neither orphan nor widow that our ambitious young man has his passion set upon, what then? Well, let us assume that the creature of our young friend’s choice is a pea-chick possessed of a considerable wealth, and who is neither orphan nor widow. In this event my long years of investigation and research impel me to discharge the advice that our young friend consider marrying such a petitioner only if he himself be a very poor man. The marriage of a rich young woman and a very poor young man is revealed by the statistics to be generally a happy one, and for a simple reason, whereas the marriage of a rich young woman and a rich young man all too often turns out badly. The rich young man who marries a rich young woman gains nothing from the marriage, or at best little, in comparison with the poor young man. The latter’s improved position and comfort operate to make his wife more desirable in his eyes and a marriage that might otherwise end in disaster is thus often perpetuated and made happy until death. There have been cases where a rich woman has kicked her poor husband out of the house, but so far as I know there has never been a case where a poor husband has kicked his rich wife out of the house.
    I further always urge my protégés to marry pretty women. The best of women get homely all too soon, and it is well to have a pretty wife at least for a beginning. A pretty wife for five or six years is something: it makes, in memory and retrospect, romantic amends for the damaged wife one must live with in the many years that loom ahead of and beyond these first five or six years. The additional advantage of marrying a pretty girl as opposed to a homely one is obvious. The pretty girl will take out all her spoiled nature, whims and outside flirtations on her husband at the very outset, and thus get them over with. After a few years, when she loses her looks, she will settle down and behave herself, and give her husband no trouble. The homely girl, to the contrary, having no looks to fall back on or bother about, will begin by being twice as sweet and attentive to her husband as the pretty girl, but will end up by taking revenge on him for all the early outside flirtations that she never could enter into and enjoy and that, unlike in the instance of the pretty girl, thus never provided her with an opportunity to let off the steam of her vanity.
    I need not pursue the subject farther, at least today. If I have so much as suggested that there is some truth in my prefatory assumptions, I shall be content. I desire merely to add, in conclusion, that all the young men who have thus far followed my advice are happy husbands and fathers. Their wives never fail to remember me, with excellent cigars, at the Yuletide.

    9.
    Women begin to think of marriage on the day that they first feel old; men on the day that they first think old. The thought of marriage enters a woman’s head when the past and all its gay and crowded uncertainties seem about to slip from hands that may no longer grasp and toy with them; the thought of marriage enters a man’s head when the future and all its grim and lonely uncertainties seem about to slip from hands that, save they grasp them now, may never have the opportunity to convert them into peace and comfort and certainty. No woman, in the highest moment of her happiness, thinks of marriage. She begins to think of it in her moments of misgiving, self-doubt and misery. Marriage, with her, is generally a craft that backs quickly out to sea from a shaky and partly condemned dock.

    10.
    Love is the democrat of the emotions; hatred the aristocrat.

    11.
    The institution known to civilized society as the husband vouchsafes to the student-connoisseur of the comédie humaine a source of profitless but none the less diverting speculation. Why, for example, should this husband, as he is called, in nine cases out of ten be to the woman whom he has taken unto his bosom a comic figure, one to snicker at silently or to razz more or less openly after the second cocktail has got in its fine Italian vermouth hand? This husband’s wife is certainly not a comic figure, as he himself is, nor does he even for an instant so regard her, yet there he stands a target for her internal derisions and for the derisions, perhaps more charitable, of persons removed from his own hearth and home. My pondering of the problem in behalf of this unfortunate fellow creature has brought me to various conclusions, some of which I have the honor here to divulge.
    Courtship, as everyone, including the parties thereto, knows, is a show, a spectacle. This show devolves largely upon the man, for, while it is not a new business for the woman—since woman is in the show business from the cradle to the grave—it is a comparatively new business for the man. Finding himself in love, as the phrase is, he synchronously finds it necessary for himself to take on the emotional and mental attributes of an actor, and to conduct himself much after the manner of a mime cast for the leading role in a romantic drama. In the degree that he succeeds in this is he successful in impressing, captivating and winning the heart and hand of his lady love. For it is customarily this actorial projection of her suitor that the lady becomes enamored of and, enveloped in the purple haze it gives out, capitulates to. But no man not an actor by profession can keep up, or feels like keeping up, the performance once the show is over. Some husbands, true enough, go bravely on with the greasepaint comportment and proscenium behavior for a variable number of years after the wedding bells have rung, but soon or late they lapse back into the status quo, into the plain, unromantic fellows they were before the divine passion, as the phrase also is, beset them. The moment the husband thus goes back to normal, that moment does his wife, with the wisdom of safely married women ever, translate her disillusion, usually calmly anticipated, into comfortable comedy. The lover’s mask is off and he is revealed as simply a poor clown who is often still lovable but who, for all that, is yet a poor clown: a human being who is half a Rudolph Rassendyl with a two-day’s growth of beard and half a shaved mealticket.
    But while this process of actorial disintegration is going on in the husband, the actorial talents of the wife increase in proportionate ratio. As if realizing that the two of them are cast for a single role in the tragi-comedy of the matrimonial relation and that one of them has, so to speak, forgotten his lines, the wife appreciates that it is her duty to carry on the show alone, singlehanded. In this, her long and natural training in romantic artifice stands her in good stead. And thus, while her husband appears to her as a once handsome cuspidor from which all the enamel has been chipped, she continues to appear to the old spittoon a relatively theatrical and effective figure. The average husband is approximately as romantic to his wife as a cow. But despite all the published cynicism to the contrary, the average wife, I fully believe, is a more or less romantic figure to her husband. By romantic I do not, obviously, necessarily mean the creature of starshine and wild white clover that she was before, during and directly after the woo period, but romantic as a man’s close possessions remain ever romantic in his eyes, as the scrapbook of his university days, or his old meerschaum pipe, or his dog. It is for the reason that everyone outside of himself is privy to him that the husband is viewed more or less generally as the pitiable figure in an extravaganza: an actor who once played the leading role in romantic “Old Heidelberg” condemned now by ironic nature and by homely fate to the permanent role of butler in a hinterland stock company.

    12.
    A man sometimes enters upon a new love affair only to protect himself from the irritatingly enduring sentiment of the previous one.

    13.
    In the many learned and eloquent treatises on divorce that have appeared in the various public prints, it seems to me that I and my colleagues in secular philosophy have at times laid too much stress on important things and too little on trivial. The adjectives are used, of course, in their generally accepted sense; hence there is no paradox. What I mean to say, specifically, is this: that the causes of divorce are doubtless infinitely more insignificant, as such things go, than the majority of investigators and examiners believe. The real causes, that is. The reasons that appear in court are generally as far from these real causes as the human eye can reach. Long before a husband has committed adultery, for instance, the divorce germ has entered his consciousness; long before a wife actually runs away from her husband, the seed of divorce has begun to take root in her mind. A hundred little things preface a husband’s beating his wife, and so giving her grounds for divorce in certain states, as a hundred little things, which the investigators dismiss as negligible, preface a wife’s running off to Paris with the first available chauffeur. What are these little things? Let me guess at a few.
    Perhaps one of the chief causes of divorce, or, more exactly, leading up to the act or acts legally recognized as grounds for divorce, is a trivial physical blemish in one or the other of the parties to the marriage. This defect, in the husband’s or the wife’s person, may be comparatively insignificant, yet no matter. Such a blemish, when lived with for a period of time, has a cruel and devastating habit of burning itself into the eye and consciousness of the other person; it gradually becomes almost a visual phobia; its image will not out. It colors the one person’s entire picture of the other; it grows to dominate that picture completely. In time, if the other person is at all sensitive—and four out of five persons are extremely sensitive in this respect—it becomes unbearable. The husband, if it be the husband, begins, almost unconsciously, to look around him at other and theoretically more immaculate women. The look grows steadier . . . Miami . . . the divorce court. Or he deserts his wife, or treats her with cruelty. The wife, on the other hand, if it be the wife, simply gets to the point where she cannot endure the marriage relation any longer, and leaves her husband’s bed and board. And the newspapers, in due course, print the ground for divorce, but fail to print the reason. Another reason for the act or acts leading to divorce may be found in the inability of the married parties to stand the aesthetic jars that propinquity forces more or less upon them. This is particularly true of men and women who marry after the twenties have passed into the thirties. Such men and such women have grown so accustomed to physical and emotional independence that the habit is not easy to break. It is much more difficult for them to endure the invasions upon privacy that marriage brings with it than it is for younger persons. For every couple that have been put asunder by adultery, or lack of support, or a carpet-beater, there are two that have split by being compelled to use the same bathroom, or by a bathroom that was too disquietingly close to their bedchamber. There are dozens of other such reasons, each and all overpowering in their superficial triviality. The two that have been set down are perhaps sufficient to suggest many of the rest. A marriage that has weathered stormy seas all too often goes to smash on a pebble.

    14.
    It takes, as they say, all kinds of men to make a world. Toward most of these, although there are many I may not accurately know or understand, I am sympathetic. I at least try to know them and understand them. But there is one kind that passes my comprehension altogether. This kind, try as I will, I cannot filter through my noodle. It is made up of the men who, though they are in love with no one woman and though they are comfortably off in health and in the world’s goods, yet view marriage as something they should presently and duly embrace.

    15.
    Love demands infinitely less than friendship.

    16.
    That marriage mellows and civilizes the average man, I do not gainsay. But that is precisely my objection to it so far as I personally am concerned. I am already too highly civilized. Were it not for the overdose of civilization that has been inculcated in me, and that works so often to my economic and spiritual disadvantage, I should doubtless have been married long ago. To ask a man already civilized to get civilized all over again is like asking him to wear two undershirts. I dispute, further, that marriage would benefit my spirit, as certain of my friends and other enemies argue. It would make me too happy, and I could not do my work if I were too happy. A persistent touch of melancholy is essential to artistic enterprise. A happy man may be a successful bishop, dog-catcher, movie actor or sausage-monger, but no happy man ever produced a single firstrate piece of painting, sculpture, music or literature. And I, humble as I am, have aspirations.
    Again, it is inconceivable that any woman, once she penetrated my superficial charms, could be devoted to me in the role of husband. Never was there such an ignoble crank! If, after ten mellifluous years of marriage and after giving birth to our fourteenth beautiful child, my loving wife were one day to so much as snitch a favorite lead-pencil off my writing-table, I should probably proceed forthwith to the big scene from The Chinatown Trunk Mystery. I am not designed for marriage any more than a longshoreman is designed for Christian Science. I have no gift for it. I admire women and I like children, but is it necessary for a man who admires baseball, for example, to play baseball? It is not. I elect to view marriage from a seat in the bleachers.
    Still again, we have the theory that marriage is insurance against the evils of romance; that it makes a man safe, and secure, and comfortable. The average bachelor, it is contended by way of proof, is never in as good health as the average benedick. This may be true; but it proves nothing. So far as that goes, I have never known a bachelor who was in as good health as the average mule.

    17.
    Love, Dr. Mencken once argued in the course of a conversation which happened to be engaging us at Muldoon’s Health Farm at 5 a.m., is a casual matter, a chance infection, a thing not unlike a cold in the head. “The process of falling in love,” he observed, “is as fortuitous and trivial as the process of missing a train. Some fair one, hearing that one has recently received an LL.D. from Yale or made a killing at some swindle, goes to a beauty parlor, has her eyebrows gummed, puts on her best frock, and then leers at one across a dinner-table. The result, by a well-known psychological route, is the genesis of the idea that she has lovely eyes and a beautiful character, and that it would be charming to give her a hug. Or maybe the thing is pure accident. Perhaps she goes to the party without the slightest thought of serious professional business—and one is floored by the perfume she happens to wear, or by her anecdote of her little nephew, Lafcadio, or by the pretty way she takes it when the Colonel upsets his potage Arlesienne down her leg, or by the peculiar manner in which her hair is banged, or by the striking combination of cerise and pea-green in her fourth-best party dress. Such is love, a madness worse than hydrophobia. To say that a man should be in love when he marries is to say that a ship-captain should be doubled up with cramps when he steers down the Ambrose Channel. It is a folly.”
    Although I am not the authority on love that my friend, the affable professor, is—as I politely confided to him at the time while four low Irishmen were running a cold squirt-hose up and down our backs—I permit myself to disagree with him. If falling in love is as easy as he says it is—and has personally demonstrated it to be on at least eleven occasions during the last fiscal year—I have the honor to set myself down as a duffer. No less than one thousand times in my life have I assiduously tried to fall in love, but to be baffled. All the time that I have been eloquently trying to convince myself that the girl eating dinner at my expense was a divine mélange of Debussy, apricots and chiffon, some irrepressible bogle within me has confounded me with the hypothesis that she was merely another Patou gown that hadn’t had enough lunch. My imagination and my intelligence meet, to my sorrow, at at an eternal Château-Thierry. I have thus far fallen in love, during the forty-odd years of my life, with twenty-seven lace and linen baby collars, eighteen bobbed hairs, forty-three blue dresses, ten lisps, thirty-six pairs of hands on my forehead when I was down with neuralgia, and eleven dozen initialed handkerchiefs and laundry bags, but with not a single girl. What, therefore, am I to do about it? I am helpless. And to ask me to marry a girl I don’t love is to ask me to go to Buffalo when I have business in Chattanooga.

    18.
    No marriage can be a successful and happy one which calls upon the man to change his ideas of what constitutes amusement after his day’s work is done. If a man whose idea of pleasure after working hours is strip poker or playing a snare drum loves a woman passionately and marries her only to learn that her idea of pleasure in the same hours is Old Maid or Kelly pool, a timetable to Reno, if the man is a gentleman, or one to Atlantic City, if he is not, will be found on the drawing-room table before the year is over.

    19.
    To ask a man to marry on the ground that it will safeguard and comfort him in his later years is to ask him to cut his throat on the ground that he may be down with Bright’s disease in 1950.

    20.
    The happiest marriage is not that which defers disillusion, but that which admits it at the outset. Few marriages between completely adult men and women turn out unhappily. Age is happy; youth, unhappy. Illusion is the happiness of the heart; disillusion is the merriment of the mind.

    21.
    I long ago wrote a note to the effect that the man a young woman marries is almost always her second choice. I now beg leave to revise that note. The man a young woman marries is almost always her third choice, if that. Is there, by way of proof, a single young woman in America who would not kick out the man she is to marry, whatever his position in her affections, if the Prince of Wales wanted her for his wife?

    22.
    It is the belief of most persons that a bachelor has a much happier time of it in this world than his married brother. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The married man’s misery is confined to one woman. The bachelor’s emotional aches spread over a dozen or more.

    23.
    Back of all the romance blather about Uhuhu, Ahahaha, Umhumha and the other South Sea island maidens in whose amiable embraces the Anglo-Saxon heroes of current fictional opera find at length the peace and solace and comfort that have been denied them in paler embraces nearer home, there is, I have a notion, a soupçon of disconcerting truth. A man, as I have observed before, is always happiest with a woman who is deferentially his inferior. It is the equality of woman to man in the Anglo-Saxon countries—and not only the equality, but often actually the superiority—that is the cause of man’s frequent dissatisfaction with his married lot and of the consequent alarming increase in the divorce rate. A marriage in which the wife knows the difference between a sonata and a Geburtslied, the distinction between second growth Pichon-Longueville and fifth growth Mouton d’Armailhacq, the relative eminence of George Eliot and George Barr McCutcheon, and the batting average of Babe Ruth, is always on its way to consult a shyster lawyer. The most successful marriage is ever the one in which the wife believes the husband to be a compendium of all the refinements of wisdom and understanding, however depressing an ass the husband may really be. And as in marriage, so in love. Since the discovery of ink, there is no record of an Anglo-Saxon’s having divorced, for example, a Japanese wife.

    24.
    What a man beyond the years of forty seeks in the woman he marries is less an instrument of future happiness than a bulwark and haven against future unhappiness and disappointments. He chooses his wife not for the better in the years to come, but for the worse. He sees in her not so much a companion for his days of joys as a sympathetic companion for his days of sorrow. He sees her not in terms of music, moonlight and roses but in terms of mother-woman, heart-nurse and guarantee against the loneliness of unromantic old age.

    25.
    I have a theory that no intelligent man ever loves a woman truly until he knows her so well that he doesn’t really see her when he talks to her—that is, until she ceases to arrest his actual attention. What he talks to thereafter is an artificiality created by his own imagination. If the woman is clever, she quickly converts herself into this artificiality, or, at all events, tries to do so. If she succeeds, the man is lost. His ideal has him by the ear.

    26.
    Love is an emotion experienced by the many and enjoyed by the few.

    27.
    The bravery of women! How hard they strive to love the men they marry!

    [From The Autobiography of an Attitude, 1925, pp. 268—92.]
    And when her lips so sweetly move
    The soul such height attain,
    You're free, yet would no longer rove
    But lay you down in chains.

  2. #2

    Re: Marriage, Women and Divorce by George Jean Nathan

    General Conclusions about the Coarse Sex

    A woman declined by the man she loves and seeking sanctuary and solace in the embraces of her second choice is rarely the unhappy creature that common delusion insists she is. It is not the woman, but the second choice, for whom Tragi-Comedy, enwrapt in deceptive satins, waits open-armed in the wings.

    One of the strangest of the many common beliefs concerned with amour is that which maintains it an impossible thing for a man to be equally in love with two women at one and the same time. Doubtless originated by woman’s own eternally assiduous Wilhelmstrasse and shrewdly disseminated for her own sly ends, the belief—for all its popularity with the ever-sentimental, ballad-singing male of the species—wears a sour motley. The majority of men are in love with one woman, and one woman only, simply because their acquaintanceship with women is so meagre, so bounded and confined, that they have not had the opportunity nor the good fortune to meet coincidentally another woman of equal charm and equal appeal. Since it is a matter of not infrequent occurrence for a man to fall in love with another woman after he has engaged himself to the one woman with whom he has believed himself singly in love, is it not perfectly reasonable to assume that had he initially met both women simultaneously he would have been taken with each of them equally?
    The bachelor is a monument to women’s charm. Unlike the married man, he offers up constant proof of the charm of several women as opposed, in the bigoted instance of the former agnostic, to the charm of one. The heart of a bachelor is a mirror in which every love, peering, sees the image of a love equally beautiful and equally bewitching. The heart of a married man is a mirror upon which lack of adventure and laziness have breathed their obscuring fogs.

    Every woman, when she marries, fondly believes that she has married but one man: her lover-husband. It is only after a few years, upon looking one day wistfully out of the window, that she suddenly realizes that she committed bigamy.
    That woman who begins saying to a man, “I don’t think you love me any more,” and who reiterates it from time to time, is already beginning to fall out of love with him.

    Love is never absolute, entire. In it, though it be as deep as the deepest sea, there is always elbowroom for a bit of a glance at some other man or woman.

    A man is charming to women in the degree that he does not appeal to men. A woman is charming to men in the degree that she does not appeal to women.

    The ideal marriage is one contracted by a man and woman who have been jilted by their first loves. It is a marriage securely based upon defeat and disillusion, the only sound ground from which marriage may flower into mutual understanding, into the love that is comradeship, and into the sweet and lasting peace that is ever the child of rosemary.

    Love, as the word has it, is impossible between an old man and a young girl not, as is commonly held, because youth seeks youth but more precisely because age seeks age. What a man over forty seeks in love is comfort—and this he may find only in one similarly seeking it. What a young girl seeks in love is a species of discomfort—and this she may find, readily enough, in an alliance with a man seeking comfort alone. A love that is comfortable is unknown to youth: when love becomes comfortable it is, to youth, no longer love. A young girl’s love is of a piece with riding on a shoot-the-chutes, having a small fish-bone lodge in the windpipe, and stepping suddenly from a warm room onto a snow-covered balcony.
    What passes for woman’s intuition is more often intrinsically nothing more than man’s transparency. To argue that there is something almost occult in a woman’s instinctive divination of the fact that a man likes her is to argue that there is something almost occult in a rat’s instinctive divination of the fact that, close at hand, there is a piece of cheese.

    No woman has ever loved a man so truly and deeply that she has not at some time permitted herself the thought of the pleasurable heartache his death would bring to her.

    To a man, the least interesting of women is the successful woman, whether successful in work, or in love, or on the mere general gaudy playground of life. A man wants a woman whose success is touched, however faintly, with failure. The woman who is sure, resolute and successful, he may want for an associate in business, a friend and a confidante, a nurse or a housekeeper, but never for a sweetheart.
    The most gracious heroine of life, as of drama, is the poor girl —and for a simple reason. Money gives a woman confidence, and confidence is the deadliest enemy of a woman’s attractiveness and allure. Money gives a woman a sense of security; it steals from her all of her charming little Cinderella wishes; it envelops her with a pampered air; it makes her, if however vaguely, self-conscious. Such a woman no man can take into his arms without some slight, undefined feeling of restraint. When a man embraces for the first time the woman he loves, he first embraces the child in her and then the woman herself. The poor girl is always a child before the great world, with its surprises and hopes and treasures. The rich girl, however young, is always a woman.

    The notion that as man grows older his illusions leave him is not quite true. What is true is that his early illusions are supplanted by new and, to him, equally convincing illusions. The man of forty-five has just as many illusions as the boy of eighteen, but they are different illusions. The man of ninety, dying, carries with him to the grave, if not the boyhood illusion of one woman’s love, the senescent illusion of all women’s faithlessness, and if not the boyhood illusion of the goodness of Santa Claus, the senescent illusion of the goodness of God.

    Marriage defeats and humbles the man since it soon or late robs him of his greatest bulwark, viz., vanity. The man who is no longer vain is a man already beaten. The man who is no longer proud of himself, who is no longer possessed of a pretty, healthy conceit, is a man slipping into the living grave. The vanity so essential to his happiness and well being, marriage takes from him. However great his success in material things, marriage, like the steady dropping of water, gradually wears down his antecedent self-pride and self-glory. The married man is the man whom romance has vanquished. He is a Cornwallis at Yorktown. He is the corpse of a bachelor.

    The common theory that a woman who marries her second choice is more or less a creature for pity is as hollow as most theories cherished by the great yokelry. Not only is the woman not to be pitied; she is rather to be envied and congratulated. A woman’s first choice—the man closest to her heart and the one who, had the Fates been kind, she would have gained for mate—is generally a man much less suited to the profession of husband than the temporarily spurned fellow in whom—as second choice—she eventually seeks solace. The first choice is more often than not a gaudy Romeo, good-looking, fun-loving, engaging, witty—but without the substantial qualities possessed by the second choice. These substantial qualities, in the youthful game of romance and amour, do not appeal to the woman: they seem commonplace and unattractive to her as against the easy flash and graceful glitter of her other love. But they are the qualities that make a husband if not a lover. And, having married them, as the years pass by and romance dies out of the world, the woman achieves a peace, a contentment and a happiness that her first choice, had she married it, would never have given her. A woman’s first choice belongs not to her maturer years; it belongs to that green and sunlit period of her life when all the world sings a wonderful music, and the clouds are made of cotton. It is for youth, and passion, and gay colors, and the moon. The second choice, the sounder choice, is for the later years when the rain begins to fall. It is the choice for home, for comfort, and for grateful peace.

    The young woman most attractive to men is not, as is claimed, the completely innocent young woman, but the young woman who, though anything but completely innocent, still looks as if she were completely innocent. The completely innocent young woman—granting that there still exists such an animal—is approximately as interesting to a man as a Sunday school. It is the Encyclopedia Britannica dressed in baby blue with eyes downcast and a hurt mouth who grabs us as sure as there’s a hell!

    The most loyal and faithful woman indulges her imagination in a hypothetical liaison whenever she dons a new street frock for the first time.

    A girl should go to church regularly. To a ritualistic, not an evangelical church, however. The adventure softens her, makes her lovelier, makes her more charming. A girl leaving St. Patrick’s is twice as lovely as when she enters. There is a charming wonder in her eyes, a new sweetness and music in her soul. The ritualistic church takes the hardness out of a girl’s eyes and heart; it perfumes her with a touch of spirituality that is pleasing to men. The evangelical church; to the contrary, turns her into a sour-ball, a woman with the flash of acid in her eyes and the set of a bear-trap to her teeth. But the other church! What man can resist the allure of a woman who has knelt before high, candlelit altars with the rays of dying suns falling upon her from stained-glass? What man can fail to love a woman who has listened, hushed, for many years to great organs and to soft and rhythmical Latin prayers, and has knelt at vespers in great, dim, majestic cathedrals? Let the dog step up!

    There are two times in a man’s life when he particularly needs the ear of a friend: (1) when he has just lost his old girl, and (2) when he has just got a new one.

    The beauty of even the most beautiful woman is a comically insecure and fragile thing. The beauty of Helen herself could not have survived so absurdly simple a trial as a combination of red and pink, or wet hair, or circular striped stockings, or a mosquito bite on the eyelid.

    Woman, with exception so rare that it is negligible, admires intelligence in man only in so far as this intelligence is confined to his dealings and enterprises with other men in the world of men. She has a disrelish for the man who is intelligent in her own presence, in his relations with her. She likes to know that he is intelligent, but indirectly, at secondhand. The man who exercises his intelligence in the presence of a woman may gain a friend or a wife, but never a sweetheart.

    One of the most fecund and persistent myths of amour is that which maintains that a man, once he is taken with a woman, is intrigued in the degree that she affects indifference toward him. The truth, of course, is that while such indifference, whether honest or assumed, may actually contrive to keep him stepping lively for a short spurt, it very soon thereafter causes him suddenly to halt and get out of the race altogether. The clever woman, desiring to ensnare a man, realizes that the best way to get him is to throw away all the traditional feminine weapons and subterfuges and frankly and openly, yet charmingly, tell him that she likes him. The man thus handled, all folklore to the contrary, is won—and absolutely. The indifference tactic may in the end achieve some vagrom boob, but it has never yet in the history of the world gained for a woman a single desirable, firstrate man.

    However charming the American woman, there is about her always one thing that keeps that charm from true perfection. Unlike the French woman, she is unable to flirt with two men at the same time without causing one of the men to regard her as being just a trifle vulgar.

    The flapper of today differs from the young girl of yesterday not in that, unlike her sister of yesterday, she is hep to all the esoteric subjects, but in that, unlike her sister of yesterday, she is hep to all the maidenly artifices which successfully conceal from men her hepness to those subjects.
    Woman is most lovable when there has just occurred in her life something that saddens her. No man has ever loved a woman passionately at that moment in her life when she was happiest.

    A man, looking back over the bridge of the years, always sentimentalizes his first love affair. A woman always gives hers the laugh.

    The greatest happiness is that of the imminent, but not yet quite realized, achievement. To be about to succeed—that is true happiness. To have succeeded—that is to be in the Pschorr brewery, with diabetes.

    What makes a man fall in love with a girl? A noble character? A tender disposition? An alert mind? Womanly sympathy? A fine integrity? Dependability? Gentleness, kindness, charitableness? The fact that she is a fit potential mother for his children? Perhaps, but I doubt it. I doubt that a man fell in love with a girl for any of such more or less sound, accepted reasons. What generally gets him is something much less granted, something entirely superficial, something—when viewed after the years—that seems almost absurd. Looking back over the girls I have been in love with, I recall that I fell in love, as the phrase goes, with one because I was fetched by the smooth quality of her speaking voice, with three others because they wore lace or linen baby collars, with one because she stole up behind me one night at a rather formal dance and tickled my ear, with still another because, when drinking a glass of water, she had a habit of holding the glass with both palms, with still another because she had the knack of keeping her pretty hair up without hairpins, and with another still because she had a trick of saying the most unimportant and innocent things to me in a very low voice, as if dangerous spies were lurking all about us. I am an idiot, you say? Undoubtedly. But, unlike you, I am an honest idiot.

    Most alluring to man is that woman whose wickedness has to it a touch of the angelic and whose virtue a touch of the devil.

    The instinct of the married man to dally with a woman other than his wife or of a married woman to flirt with some man other than her husband is not in the least the vicious instinct we are sometimes asked to believe. It is natural and, above natural, innocent. When one grows used to a person, or to a thing, the human impulse is ever toward experiment in some other and fresher direction. The man who has been married to a woman for a number of years, who has lived with her, has played upon all her whims and moods, knows her every response to every act, recognizes in advance her every gesture and every tone, is like the man who has owned a piano and has played upon it for the same long length of time. The moment he enters a house with another piano in it, he feels like trying the new one. There isn’t a man or woman living who hasn’t experienced the innocent wish to try someone’s else piano. And there are few married men or women who haven’t in a similar way experienced the innocent wish to try someone’s else kiss.

    A woman dislikes sentiment in a man in the degree that she is pretty.

    The sweetest memory is that which involves something which one should not have done; the bitterest, that which involves something which one should not have done, and which one did not do.

    The girl subsequently alleges with tears that the man had given her hope in the matter of marriage. The man subsequently recalls to himself, by way of supporting his self-respect, that the girl in turn had given him hope in that she professed elaborately not to desire, but even to disdain, that hope for marriage.

    A woman is charming in the degree of her reaction to a charming man.

    The greatest burden of Prohibition will fall upon amour. Without the friendly cooperation of alcohol, love-making—to the only kind of man that interests a woman—will be a difficult and awkward business. Without a few cocktails cavorting in his middle, a man embarking upon the preliminaries of amour feels too idiotic to continue. His mind is too clear for a business that, however delightful, is intrinsically always banal and silly. His amorous words fall upon his own ears in all their stenciled gauntness. They lack the carelessness, the ardor, the thoughtlessness essential to them and to the great game, qualities that—save in the case of a professional actor, a clergyman or a Frenchman—only a touch of alcohol can bequeath to them. Love-making is a sort of boozy human music, and it can be played only, in the instance of an adult man, upon a keyboard of mellifluous beverages.

    The contention that women are more intelligent than men (a favorite hokum of such amateurs of the sex as Mencken) has never succeeded in exciting me. That the contention sells books, gains for its sponsor many free deviled-ham sandwiches and pots of tea flavored with rum, and achieves for him a fine reputation for sagacity, open-mindedness and chivalry, I—privy to the enviable facts—am not one to deny. But that it is grounded in truth—that seems to me another matter. The truth is that while women as a class are not so intelligent as men, they are, by virtue of their superior histrionic faculties, able with extraordinary success to make themselves appear so. It is this histrionism that deceives the amateurs. When a male blockhead and a female blockhead get together, the male blockhead keeps his mouth wide open and permits it to betray the news of his blockheadedness. The female blockhead keeps hers closed, winks sagaciously about nothing, droops a lovely blue eye with an empty, but vastly effective, dubiety, negotiates an impressively inscrutable smile, and thus leads the eavesdropping menckens to believe that she is fully privy to the lewd asininity of the fellow.
    The platitude that all the good dressmakers and cooks are men, not women, doesn’t interest me. That men should succeed over women in such professions as these, which are customarily held to be the especial province of women, has nothing to do with the question of relative intelligence: it assuredly takes no Socrates or Gladstone to make a pretty Peter Thomson or a fine cheese pie: the circumstance that men are better in these fields than women would, indeed, seem to prove that the argument of the amateurs is sound. But, for all the agreeable paradoxes, the fact remains that, save in the single instance of the conflict of sex, the best woman is the inferior of the secondbest man. Women’s intelligence is emotional intelligence: it is showy, appealing, moving, and generally gains its ends: but if this is sound intelligence then every highball is a Bismarck, every hypnotist a Huxley. The woman does not argue with a man’s mind, but with his eye and his heart—as an actress, playing a colorful and sympathetic role, argues. No woman in the history of the world has yet substituted, in her arguments with the male, facts for nose varnish or sharp philosophy for talc and perfume. Woman is the Jap of the sexes: she is shrewd, clever, wily and, nine times in ten, gets what she goes after. Man is the German.

    The secret of dressing in such wise that the picture shall subtly appeal to men, few young women understand. The true secret—as any man who stops momentarily to reflect and analyze will agree—is for the young woman to dress like a poor country girl expensively.

    A man, weary of the chill and commonplace of his surroundings, seeks the Riviera for pretty new scenery, warmth and quiet. A man thus also seeks woman.

    The trouble with girls is not that one gets tired of them, but that one doesn’t. This is the true cause of a man’s unhappiness. The popular view is that a man is chronically unable to love a girl long, that he tires of her in due time, and that he is then eager to get rid of her as soon as he can. This is sometimes the case. But more often the opposite is true. He does not get tired of the girl; he continues to like her; he doesn’t want to lose her; and his troubles begin.

    The effect of cocktails—or any other alcoholic beverage—upon women is curiously unlike the effect of such tonics upon men. Take, for example, the relation of the effect of alcoholic indulgence to amour. A man and a woman, mutually intrigued, are seated at the table. The man drinks a cocktail, then another, then another, then another. With each successive tipple he becomes more and more excited over the charms of his fair companion, more and more eloquent, more and more eager to imprint a smack behind her little pink seashell of an ear. As one cocktail follows its predecessor down his alimentary canal, he waxes amorous crescendo, fortissimo. But consider now the woman.
    After her first cocktail, she is in a mood precisely like the mood of the man after his first cocktail. After the second, she is in a mood precisely like the man after his second. But comes now the curious change. Though his third cocktail increases the man’s ardor, her third cocktail almost instantaneously decreases the woman’s. As if struck by a ghostly streak of lightning, as if touched by some occult hand, the woman’s mood suddenly achieves a certain restraint, a peculiar rigidity, a trace of coolness. The man’s third cocktail has sent his acumen packing; the woman’s third has brought her acumen back with a rush. She is lit, true enough—as lit as the man—but she is yet, by some esoteric phenomenon, again master of him and of the situation.
    All of which is respectfully submitted to such teetotaler moralists as believe that when a woman has had three cocktails she is completely in the villain’s power and ripe for the Italianos.

    The most successful technique that a man may employ with a woman is to show interest in her but appear not to care.

    It takes very, very little to make a woman snicker at a worthy man. Let a man be soever noble, soever upright, profound, charming and eloquent, if he happens to have on a collar a size too large for him, he is lost.

    The notion that a pretty girl is prettier if she doesn’t know that she is pretty is a sour chestnut. If a pretty girl doesn’t know that she is pretty, she ruins her prettiness with carelessly selected colors and with snap-judgment hats and frocks. If she appreciates her prettiness, she commits no such mistake, but carefully—even painstakingly—heightens her prettiness with colors, hats and frocks that melt harmoniously into her prettiness. The pretty girl who is unaware of her prettiness may be a charming girl, but she is never one-half so pretty as the equally pretty girl who knows that she is pretty.

    When the estimable Bell conceived the idea for the telephone, little did the good old soul reckon that it would turn out, in time, to be an innocent and unwitting agent in the dealing of the deuce to the young female of the species. That, more than any other thing, the telephone has been instrumental in bringing the young woman of today to a point where her grandmother wouldn’t recognize her, that it is in no little degree responsible for her increasingly loose manners and looser habits, any mother who takes the time to analyze the situation will doubtless agree.
    Before the introduction of the telephone into general family use, the young girl of the house, meeting her young man in the paternal parlor, was naturally subject to the nervousness, shyness, bashfulness, etc. common on such occasions to nine well-bred young women out of every ten. After weeks of such conferences the friendship of the twain would progress so far as the hand-holding stage; after months, so far as the first kiss; after a year or two, probably so far as the proposal of marriage. The great barriers to intimacy that modesty, awkwardness and personal idiosyncrasy and reserve always throw up operated here; and our mothers thus took so long to bring our fathers around with the ring that we children, as yet unborn and so comprehending the drollery of love, almost gave up in despair our chances of ever seeing the Ziegfeld “Follies” and Ernest Poole initiated into an American Institute of Arts and Letters.
    These barriers the telephone gradually did away with, broke down. It is not so easy—nor so safe—to look a man in the eye and tell him to go to hell as it is to drop a nickel in a slot at 206th Street, call up Rector ten miles away, and then do it. Similarly, it is not so easy for a flapper to sit next to a man on a sofa and, without blushing, tell him to press his ruby lips to hers. The telephone gives the flapper courage—and more. It conceals blushes; it gives the strength that is always afforded by remoteness; it removes, in a sense, the personal equation. It permits a girl to lie in her bed and talk with a man lying in his bed; it permits her, half-clothed, to talk with him a moment after its ring has made him hop nude out of his bathtub. Its delicate suggestiveness is not lost in these instances. Its whisper is the whisper of the clandestine note of the 1870’s hidden in the hole of the old oak; its voice is the voice of the chaperon asleep. The most modest girl in America, the girl who blushes even at a man’s allusions to his chilblains, once she gets her nose in a telephone mouthpiece acquires a sudden and surprising self-assurance and aptitude at wheeze. Every time a young girl calls up a man for the first time, the devil instructs Tyson to lay aside for him, a year hence, a seat in the first row.

    How little it takes to make the beautiful ridiculous: two flies engaged in amour on the nose of the finest Rembrandt . . . Washington’s farewell to his men read aloud by a veteran of the Home Guard of 1917—18 . . . a lovely woman engaging an asparagus.

    [From The Theatre, the Drama, the Girls, 1921, pp. 218—47.]

    Love in Youth—and Later

    IT is possible that a man may love only one woman in his life. So, for that matter, is it equally possible that a man may get through life with only one pair of trousers. The possibility is hardly open to question, but the probability one fears, particularly in the case of an artist like myself, is remote. It is quite possible that a man may remain physically loyal to one woman throughout his life, but it is extremely improbable that he can remain always mentally and emotionally loyal to her. A man’s taste in women changes with the passing of time as inevitably as does his taste in literature and neckties. The man who whispers into the ear of a sweet one that she is the only woman he will ever have a penchant for is, accordingly, one of three sorts: a deliberate fraud and liar; an unconscious fraud and liar; or, finally, a man over sixty who, at once deliberately and unconsciously, is telling the melancholy truth.
    There are perhaps young men in the twenties who fall in love, as the phrase is, marry the refreshment of their choice, and live with her in peace and comfort until the embalmer enters upon the scene. And so, too, are there perhaps older men who negotiate the same feat. But the mere fact that they spend their lives with one woman and are biologically faithful to her and are relatively content with their lot does not mean—as anyone knows whose eye is gifted in the penetration of externals—that their taste does not occasionally and refractorily wander to some other woman. The wandering of fancy—I will have to admit this much—may be perfectly innocent and eminently moral, but it is there in the backs of their heads none the less and, being there, it offers proof of the theory that though a man may conceivably be a saint in the matter of monogamous uprightness, his taste often resides in a harem.
    A man’s taste in the fair sex nine times out of ten changes every so often with what is sometimes, even to him, an alarming suddenness. The girl a man of twenty-one admires usually seems to him, in the retrospect of forty, to have been a gimcrack of pretty low grade. If he has married her at twenty-one, true enough, he often doesn’t so regard her as the years chase each other down the corridor of the late thirties and middle forties, but that proves nothing. It simply proves that marriage has warped his honest critical talents, has caused him to suspend judgment for the sake of his own vanity and self-esteem, and has made him bury his head in the sand in order to deceive himself that no brilliant caravan ever crosses the desert. But I doubt that one can find a single unmarried man—or, for that matter, married man, provided he has married the girl in question and will tell the truth—who would confess that the girl he fancied in his younger years is exactly the sort of pea-chick he would fancy today, that she is his ideal in every respect, and that it is inconceivable that he could have eyes, ears and aesthetic taste for any other.
    A man is not a single, definite, fixed creature all his life: he is a dozen different creatures. He is no more the same man at forty that he was at twenty or thirty than he is the same at sixty he was at forty or fifty. I will admit exceptions, of course; there are a few men who punch the emotional time-clock relatively early in life and stick obediently to the same job until they are carted away to the glueworks. But the average man—and the artist much more so—changes periodically as certainly as the weather changes, even in California. He may always vote the straight Republican ticket; he may always eat an apple before he goes to bed; he may always smoke just so many cigars a day and no more; but his views of women alter every so often. The man who marries in his forties, let us say, thus marries that woman in whom he finds less to laugh at derisorily than in any of the women he has previously known. This diminution of objections to her is what captivates and hamstrings him, and is what our friends, the poets, call love. It is actually less love, in the commonly accepted sense of the word, than it is the man’s respect for his improved intelligence in taste. The lad of twenty who jumps to the nearest minister and gets himself married offers his wife the dubious tribute of an amateur taste. He is like a small boy who has learned how to turn a somersault and who confidently offers himself as a professional partner to a star circus acrobat. But the man of maturer years who takes unto his bosom a wife offers her the high compliment of a post-graduate taste and emotion.
    Although a suspicion of superficiality, smartiness and lack of sound sense always hovers over epigrammatic expression—for what good reason I have never been able to make out—it seems to me (I recall that I once encountered the idea in some book or other) that the woman an adult man marries is generally a compromise with the illusion of his first sweetheart. That is to say that while the man would not have married his first sweetheart on a wager and while he knows full well that she had as many faults as a second-hand toothbrush, he yet hocus-pocuses her into a romantic legend to fill the actual lack of romance in his life and embodies that legend, in so far as he is able to, in the person of the woman he marries in later years. There is no contradiction here. For though a man’s taste in women changes, he often likes to flatter his romantic donkeyishness that it doesn’t change—that, in other words, his ideal in women is still the young, wide-eyed girl in gingham who used to throw her broad straw bonnet with the sunflower on it over her shoulder and swing on the garden gate.
    For every man who succumbs to the charms of a girl early in life and devotes the rest of his life to admiring her charms and those of no other girl, there are a thousand whose eyes rove hither and thither during their days on earth. In this polygamy of taste lies, indeed, man’s, and particularly the artist’s, tribute to the fair sex.

    [From Monks Are Monks, 1929, pp. 20—4.]

    Mens Nana in Corpore Sano

    THAT, taking one with another, women’s minds are less clean than men’s is a fact which, while sufficiently recognized by men in the mass, has yet strangely, so far as I know, not found its commentator and analyst on paper. We have had a few general epigrams on the subject, and we have thought, now and again, that we were about to read some sharp and penetrating affidavit on the matter, but in both cases delicate evasion and polite half-statement have been the only reward of our curiosity. In the interests of lovely truth, therefore, let us make bold to pursue the inquiry a bit further.
    Any man who moves about in feminine society and who is not deaf in both ears can testify to the fact that women’s conversation, whatever the specific nature of its initial impulse, sooner or later is inevitably bound to get around to sex. The manoeuvre may be contrived indirectly and with a certain spurious show of neo-Victorian modesty—in some instances; but once it gains a measure of confidence it stalks into the topic like a bouncer into a barroom. Whereas men, when they enter into the subject, customarily enter into it, often somewhat disconcertingly, with what may metaphorically be described as both feet, women begin by skirting around its edges, by tossing out innuendo, and by playing ping-pong with suggestiveness before getting to the main business of the conversational meeting. A man will say, frankly, openly, and plainly, what is in his mind; a woman will by verbal by-play and insinuation convert what would otherwise be forthrightly clean into something that is vaguely dirty. Women seldom, in sex matters, use the straight-forward, clean-cut, appropriate terms. They rely upon circumlocutions and synonyms which, like burlesque-show strippers, are twice as suggestive as the naked words. They drape their colloquies in gauze veils and, slowly and with deliberately timed oral movements and gestures, remove them, to their twofold—or sevenfold—eroticism.
    For this, the still remaining double standard of sex—it still remains for all the vociferous verbal and physical promiscuity of a relative handful of females and for all the editorial fulminations in liberal publications edited by unwanted old maids or fed-up married men who have eyes for their stenographers and obliquely wish to give their wives the gate—the still operative double standard, as I say, is doubtless responsible. Women, under its terms, are denied the privilege of directness and honesty and must perforce take refuge in an arsenal of allusive hints and winks. Their thoughts may be the same as men’s thoughts, but the forbidden direct articulation of them serves by repression to make them gradually stagnant and fungus-covered. A man, as the saying is, gets them off his chest and is done with them; a woman is not equally permitted to get them off her mind, and there they remain to crawl about with their increasingly slimy worminess.
    This enforced repression seeking vicarious outlet is indicated, among other things, by the stuff that women read. Who are the chief consumers of cheap sex novels and magazines of so-called snappy fiction? The sales statistics show, and emphatically, that they are women—young, medium, and pretty old. The phrase, “shop-girl fiction,” tells its own story. On the higher literary but equally sexy level, who have been and are the chief worshippers of D. H. Lawrence, particularly in his Lady Chatterley’s Lover mood? The answer is too obvious to be recorded.
    Women think of sex in the daytime as well as at night, whereas men in general seldom find their thoughts hovering about the topic when the sun is shining. Even Frenchmen and the Viennese hardly begin before twilight. And speculation is inflammation. I have known many men in my lifetime, but I have yet to encounter one who talked or thought about sex at lunch. The majority of women, on the other hand, even those who have to work for a living, allow their imaginations and conversation to play around it from the first application of the morning lipstick to the last dab of cold cream at night. Like hatred, sex must be articulated or, like hatred, it will produce a disturbing internal malaise. The edicts of polite society are responsible to no small degree for women’s dirty minds.
    Any psychoanalyst or practitioner of psychopathology will tell you that, out of every ten customers and patients, nine are women. And out of the nine, at least eight will be found to be troubled with sex complexes. These sex complexes, the aforesaid professors need hardly tell you, are the result of repressions, and the aforesaid repressions are responsible for all kinds of mental quirks. The injunction, “Get it out of your mind,” suggests the nature of the mind and its thoughts. These thoughts are not healthy, but diseased. Concentration on sex, though sometimes unsuspected, has brought with it a species of mental corruption.
    Plays dealing with abnormality always find their chief customers among women. When The Captive was, previous to its enforced withdrawal by the police, shown in New York, the box-office statistics revealed that five women to every man attended it, and the matinees were patronized almost exclusively by women.
    Such pornographic literary trash as Elinor Glyn’s Three Weeks, the Mlle. Hull’s The Sheik, and Arlen’s The Green Hat finds itself in the best-seller class solely because of women.
    The sex moving pictures, with Mae West’s alone excepted (and they are humorous rather than erotically stimulating), are patronized overwhelmingly, the exhibitors’ records assure us, by women.
    The heroines of men are Joan of Arc, Florence Nightingale and Edith Cavell. The heroines of women are Du Barry, Pompadour and Gabriele d’Annunzio.
    I have lately had the privilege of scrutinizing the account books of the four leading purveyors of so-called erotica in New York City. Not the cheap dispensers of contemptible pink-backs, but the sellers of books that, for one reason or another, are not supposed to be read by the moral element in the community. The account books of the first, covering the period from January 1, 1934, to July 1, 1934, showed that his customers number 1,810 women as against 254 men. The books of the second, covering a like period, showed 927 women as against forty-six men. Those of the third, covering the time from January 1, 1934, to September 1, 1934, showed 737 women and only thirty-four men. And those of the fourth, covering the period from February 1, 1934, to August 1, 1934, disclosed 462 women as against just fourteen men. I am not acquainted with the sellers of pink-backs, and so, unfortunately, cannot offer statistics in that quarter. But the story on the somewhat higher sex level is sufficiently illuminating. Men usually outgrow their taste for pornography after they have completed, at an early age, the prescribed course of Only a Boy, Fanny Hill and Green Girls in Paris. But women’s taste for pornography seems seldom to abate.
    Perhaps in no clearer way may we appreciate the dubious quality of the feminine mind than by referring to the question of motion picture censorship and observing the peculiar aberrations of that mind when it serves on the various state censorship committees whose business it is to pass on the morality of the films. Through various esoteric channels, I have managed to glean certain facts and certain information in this direction that offer tasty reading. I herewith present my findings:
    1. The male members of three of these censorship boards—there are state boards at the present time in New York, Maryland, Virginia, Ohio, Kansas, Pennsylvania, and for Sunday films, in Massachusetts—found nothing particularly dirty in such words and phrases as “naked,” “twin beds,” “mistress,” “birth control” and “long, lonely nights,” but were compelled to demand their deletion upon the insistence of women members of the boards.
    2. It was the women on the boards of two state censorship bodies who, against the male members’ indifference, forced the elimination from certain films of such innocent spectacles as women’s underclothing hanging on a clothes line and a husband appearing in his wife’s presence clad in his undershirt and B.V.D.’s.
    3. The deletion of such childishly harmless lines as “I wonder if Molly’s mother has told her everything” (spoken by the husband on his wedding night), as “You made her so dizzy she had to go in and lie down” (spoken after a kiss), as “I’m from America”—“What part?”—“All of me,” as “If you think Americans are good at the Black Bottom, just watch those Africans,” and as “Come in, young man, don’t be frightened. It’s much warmer here than on the balcony,” was ordered not by male committee members but by female.
    4. Although the male censors could not discern anything excessively foul in a view of a nude little baby, of a girl sitting on a couch with a man’s head in her lap, of a man in pajamas, of a girl drawing her feet up on a bench, of nightgowns arranged on a bed, of a nude figure carved on a pipe, and of table book-ends showing a female figure’s single nude breast, the women censors apparently could.
    5. The censorship ladies also saw something extremely filthy in the following lines: “Corinne thinks a mistress is something you read about in a French novel”; “You know, experience should have taught you, my dear, that the name Smith is always suspicious on the hotel register”; “You mustn’t think of the man in me, only the artist”; “It wasn’t love”; “What’s your name?”—“Eve”—“Mine’s Adam”; “Is friend husband out of town again?”; and “This girl, painted as a harlot, met death with a smile.”
    Under beautiful rose-beds, it would seem, there are often sewers.

    [From Passing Judgments, 1935, pp. 89—96.]
    And when her lips so sweetly move
    The soul such height attain,
    You're free, yet would no longer rove
    But lay you down in chains.

  3. #3

    Re: Marriage, Women and Divorce by George Jean Nathan

    Why Men Marry

    A FEW nights ago, there were gathered together in one of the esoteric salles à boire of New York, a dozen middle-aged men. All save two were benedicks. As the mineral water began to work its magic on those at the board, the two bachelors bade of their fellows to tell them honestly the reasons that had prompted them to marry the women they had married. What, in other words, precisely had it been about these women that had fetched the men and converted them into husbands. The ten husbands pondered the question gravely and then, in turn, gave out the underlying provocative causes, which I set down seriatim:

    1. Because the woman had shared a taste for F. W. Bain’s translations of the Hindu Digit of the Moon and Bubbles of the Foam, could play the piano, and had Japanese eyes.
    2. Because the woman disliked public restaurants and jazz music, and liked to stay home nights.
    3. Because the woman had a beautiful, soft speaking voice and hated golf and all golf players.
    4. Because the man had been thrown over by the woman he really loved.
    5. Because the woman had $50,000 in the bank which the man needed to buy a partnership in the firm for which he was working.
    6. Because the woman dressed in the way the man admired; because she hadn’t bobbed her hair; and because she shared the man’s wish to make a trip to Cairo.
    7. Because the man was tired of living at his club and because he felt that he was getting old.
    8. Because the woman had been attentive to him during an illness of two months’ duration.
    9. Because the woman had an even temper; because she spoke three languages fluently; and because she was the only woman the man had ever met who didn’t wear her fingernails sharply pointed like a Chinaman’s.
    10. Because she was the best-looking girl at the resort where the man spent his summers.

    Although these may at first glance seem to be excessively superficial reasons for the men’s marrying the respective women, I thoroughly believe that they represent accurately the basic reasons that often shove men into the state of hymeneal blessedness. It is upon such a profound philosophical basis that the great institution of marriage is frequently founded; it is upon such a basis that the lions and unicorns of genealogy proudly prance and lift their heads to heaven.

    [From the American Mercury, December 1925, p. 492.]

    Why Men Marry? 2

    Men marry for a variety of reasons, few of them self-appreciated and self-apprehended. The reasons they believe they marry for are seldom the real ones. Men, even quite young men, often marry for no other reason than that they are lonely and seek a consoling companionship. Older men frequently marry not because they are immediately lonely or seek companionship but because they fear loneliness in their later years. This is particularly—almost inevitably—true in cases where the man is alone in the world, without living parents or close relatives. He is, like a child, afraid of the dark that lies ahead. Love, money, all the other usual theoretical considerations, have nothing to do with his marrying or with the woman he marries. He just wants to get married, and that is that.
    “Love at first sight—there is no other kind of love, for all men’s analysis,” an eminent Viennese psychologist has lately observed. Although the illustrioso’s remark has been widely ridiculed, there is a deal of truth in it. If it isn’t love, or at least something quickly leading to love, at first sight, it isn’t love. It may be respect, or admiration, or understanding, or camaraderie, or animal magnetism, or anything else of the sort, but it is not love. And it is this first sight, impromptu emotional galvanism that often draws men into marriage without the slightest sober reflection on such matters as have occupied the Viennese Professor Baber’s solemn inquiry. A man’s eye has much oftener propelled him into wedlock than his heart, and both combined have sucked him into matrimony twenty thousand times oftener than his cerebrum.
    Men also marry out of disappointment. The beaten man, the humiliated man, the disappointed man, the man who has taken it on the chin in one way or another, is a veritable gull for almost any woman gunning for a mate. And this is even more true in the case of women. The woman who has been hurt, the woman who has been disappointed, is ready to take on the first even faintly eligible man who comes her way.

    News Item—John Edwards, husband of Maria Sanborn Hotchkiss, writer and prominent figure in public life, committed suicide by shooting himself through the brain early last evening in his apartment on upper Madison Avenue, where he lived with his wife. They had been married ten years. Mr. Edwards was forty-five years old and was connected with the Hercules Cement Company, 302 West Thirteenth Street.
    A maid, Martha Jones, discovered the suicide. She found Mr. Edwards’ body lying on the floor of the bedroom, a bullet hole in his right temple. He was clad in pajamas. He left no note. The head office manager of the company which employed him said that he appeared to be in excellent health when he showed up for work yesterday morning, that he had never missed a day at the office, and that his accounts were in perfect order.
    His wife, Miss Hotchkiss, is, in addition to her literary and lecturing work, active in local political and civic—as well as in national—affairs. She was recently appointed chairman of the women’s division of the local Unemployment Relief Committee, is chairman of the women’s branch of the Civil Liberties Union, vice-president of the Association for the Betterment of Foreign Relations, Secretary of the Ohio Society, and has served on the O. Henry Annual Short Story Award Committee. She was elected to the State Assembly in 1934, and is at present chairman of the Manhattan Women’s Democratic Club and women’s Democratic leader in her district. She is head of the Women’s Amalgamated Charities, vice-president of the Order of Bookfellows, a trustee of the Girls’ Service League of America, recording secretary of the Good Roads Association, Inc., of the United States, an active worker for the Home Mission Council, the Humane Association of America, the American Library Association and the United Chapters of Phi Beta Kappa, a member of the Presbyterian Board of Christian Education, vice-president of the Pan-American Society, secretary and treasurer of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and assistant secretary of the National Committee on Prisons and Prison Labor. She is also vice-president of the Women’s Peace Society and the National Recreation Association, a director of the Roerich Museum and the Sociological Society of America, and a member of the National Council of the Sons and Daughters of Liberty, the American Vocational Association, and the National League of Women Voters.
    The police were at a loss to assign a motive for the suicide.

    [From The Bachelor Life, 1941, pp. 189—201.]

    Mens Nana in Corpore Sano

    THAT, taking one with another, women’s minds are less clean than men’s is a fact which, while sufficiently recognized by men in the mass, has yet strangely, so far as I know, not found its commentator and analyst on paper. We have had a few general epigrams on the subject, and we have thought, now and again, that we were about to read some sharp and penetrating affidavit on the matter, but in both cases delicate evasion and polite half-statement have been the only reward of our curiosity. In the interests of lovely truth, therefore, let us make bold to pursue the inquiry a bit further.
    Any man who moves about in feminine society and who is not deaf in both ears can testify to the fact that women’s conversation, whatever the specific nature of its initial impulse, sooner or later is inevitably bound to get around to sex. The manoeuvre may be contrived indirectly and with a certain spurious show of neo-Victorian modesty—in some instances; but once it gains a measure of confidence it stalks into the topic like a bouncer into a barroom. Whereas men, when they enter into the subject, customarily enter into it, often somewhat disconcertingly, with what may metaphorically be described as both feet, women begin by skirting around its edges, by tossing out innuendo, and by playing ping-pong with suggestiveness before getting to the main business of the conversational meeting. A man will say, frankly, openly, and plainly, what is in his mind; a woman will by verbal by-play and insinuation convert what would otherwise be forthrightly clean into something that is vaguely dirty. Women seldom, in sex matters, use the straight-forward, clean-cut, appropriate terms. They rely upon circumlocutions and synonyms which, like burlesque-show strippers, are twice as suggestive as the naked words. They drape their colloquies in gauze veils and, slowly and with deliberately timed oral movements and gestures, remove them, to their twofold—or sevenfold—eroticism.
    For this, the still remaining double standard of sex—it still remains for all the vociferous verbal and physical promiscuity of a relative handful of females and for all the editorial fulminations in liberal publications edited by unwanted old maids or fed-up married men who have eyes for their stenographers and obliquely wish to give their wives the gate—the still operative double standard, as I say, is doubtless responsible. Women, under its terms, are denied the privilege of directness and honesty and must perforce take refuge in an arsenal of allusive hints and winks. Their thoughts may be the same as men’s thoughts, but the forbidden direct articulation of them serves by repression to make them gradually stagnant and fungus-covered. A man, as the saying is, gets them off his chest and is done with them; a woman is not equally permitted to get them off her mind, and there they remain to crawl about with their increasingly slimy worminess.
    This enforced repression seeking vicarious outlet is indicated, among other things, by the stuff that women read. Who are the chief consumers of cheap sex novels and magazines of so-called snappy fiction? The sales statistics show, and emphatically, that they are women—young, medium, and pretty old. The phrase, “shop-girl fiction,” tells its own story. On the higher literary but equally sexy level, who have been and are the chief worshippers of D. H. Lawrence, particularly in his Lady Chatterley’s Lover mood? The answer is too obvious to be recorded.
    Women think of sex in the daytime as well as at night, whereas men in general seldom find their thoughts hovering about the topic when the sun is shining. Even Frenchmen and the Viennese hardly begin before twilight. And speculation is inflammation. I have known many men in my lifetime, but I have yet to encounter one who talked or thought about sex at lunch. The majority of women, on the other hand, even those who have to work for a living, allow their imaginations and conversation to play around it from the first application of the morning lipstick to the last dab of cold cream at night. Like hatred, sex must be articulated or, like hatred, it will produce a disturbing internal malaise. The edicts of polite society are responsible to no small degree for women’s dirty minds.
    Any psychoanalyst or practitioner of psychopathology will tell you that, out of every ten customers and patients, nine are women. And out of the nine, at least eight will be found to be troubled with sex complexes. These sex complexes, the aforesaid professors need hardly tell you, are the result of repressions, and the aforesaid repressions are responsible for all kinds of mental quirks. The injunction, “Get it out of your mind,” suggests the nature of the mind and its thoughts. These thoughts are not healthy, but diseased. Concentration on sex, though sometimes unsuspected, has brought with it a species of mental corruption.
    Plays dealing with abnormality always find their chief customers among women. When The Captive was, previous to its enforced withdrawal by the police, shown in New York, the box-office statistics revealed that five women to every man attended it, and the matinees were patronized almost exclusively by women.
    Such pornographic literary trash as Elinor Glyn’s Three Weeks, the Mlle. Hull’s The Sheik, and Arlen’s The Green Hat finds itself in the best-seller class solely because of women.
    The sex moving pictures, with Mae West’s alone excepted (and they are humorous rather than erotically stimulating), are patronized overwhelmingly, the exhibitors’ records assure us, by women.
    The heroines of men are Joan of Arc, Florence Nightingale and Edith Cavell. The heroines of women are Du Barry, Pompadour and Gabriele d’Annunzio.
    I have lately had the privilege of scrutinizing the account books of the four leading purveyors of so-called erotica in New York City. Not the cheap dispensers of contemptible pink-backs, but the sellers of books that, for one reason or another, are not supposed to be read by the moral element in the community. The account books of the first, covering the period from January 1, 1934, to July 1, 1934, showed that his customers number 1,810 women as against 254 men. The books of the second, covering a like period, showed 927 women as against forty-six men. Those of the third, covering the time from January 1, 1934, to September 1, 1934, showed 737 women and only thirty-four men. And those of the fourth, covering the period from February 1, 1934, to August 1, 1934, disclosed 462 women as against just fourteen men. I am not acquainted with the sellers of pink-backs, and so, unfortunately, cannot offer statistics in that quarter. But the story on the somewhat higher sex level is sufficiently illuminating. Men usually outgrow their taste for pornography after they have completed, at an early age, the prescribed course of Only a Boy, Fanny Hill and Green Girls in Paris. But women’s taste for pornography seems seldom to abate.
    Perhaps in no clearer way may we appreciate the dubious quality of the feminine mind than by referring to the question of motion picture censorship and observing the peculiar aberrations of that mind when it serves on the various state censorship committees whose business it is to pass on the morality of the films. Through various esoteric channels, I have managed to glean certain facts and certain information in this direction that offer tasty reading. I herewith present my findings:
    1. The male members of three of these censorship boards—there are state boards at the present time in New York, Maryland, Virginia, Ohio, Kansas, Pennsylvania, and for Sunday films, in Massachusetts—found nothing particularly dirty in such words and phrases as “naked,” “twin beds,” “mistress,” “birth control” and “long, lonely nights,” but were compelled to demand their deletion upon the insistence of women members of the boards.
    2. It was the women on the boards of two state censorship bodies who, against the male members’ indifference, forced the elimination from certain films of such innocent spectacles as women’s underclothing hanging on a clothes line and a husband appearing in his wife’s presence clad in his undershirt and B.V.D.’s.
    3. The deletion of such childishly harmless lines as “I wonder if Molly’s mother has told her everything” (spoken by the husband on his wedding night), as “You made her so dizzy she had to go in and lie down” (spoken after a kiss), as “I’m from America”—“What part?”—“All of me,” as “If you think Americans are good at the Black Bottom, just watch those Africans,” and as “Come in, young man, don’t be frightened. It’s much warmer here than on the balcony,” was ordered not by male committee members but by female.
    4. Although the male censors could not discern anything excessively foul in a view of a nude little baby, of a girl sitting on a couch with a man’s head in her lap, of a man in pajamas, of a girl drawing her feet up on a bench, of nightgowns arranged on a bed, of a nude figure carved on a pipe, and of table book-ends showing a female figure’s single nude breast, the women censors apparently could.
    5. The censorship ladies also saw something extremely filthy in the following lines: “Corinne thinks a mistress is something you read about in a French novel”; “You know, experience should have taught you, my dear, that the name Smith is always suspicious on the hotel register”; “You mustn’t think of the man in me, only the artist”; “It wasn’t love”; “What’s your name?”—“Eve”—“Mine’s Adam”; “Is friend husband out of town again?”; and “This girl, painted as a harlot, met death with a smile.”
    Under beautiful rose-beds, it would seem, there are often sewers.

    [From Passing Judgments, 1935, pp. 89—96.]
    And when her lips so sweetly move
    The soul such height attain,
    You're free, yet would no longer rove
    But lay you down in chains.

  4. #4

    Re: Marriage, Women and Divorce by George Jean Nathan

    Burlesques

    THE ATHEIST
    "I worship no one," cried the atheist. "Divinities are senseless, useless, barriers to progress and ambition, a curse to man. Gods, fetiches, graven images, idols—faugh!"

    On the atheist's work-table stood the photograph of a beautiful girl.

    MAXIM
    The young man, sitting at the feet of a philosopher, noticed a cynic smile tugging at the silence of the philosopher's lips.

    "I was thinking," observed with an alas presently the philosopher, "that one is always a woman's second lover."

    THE GREATER LOVE
    "I love you," said the wife to her husband, looking up from the book she was reading, "because you are a successful man."

    "I love you," said she to her lover, drawing his head close to hers, "because—because you are a failure."

    SIC PASSIM
    "For what qualities in a man," asked the youth, "does a woman most ardently love him?"

    "For those qualities in him," replied the old tutor, "which his mother most ardently hates."

    THE GOOD FAIRY
    A fairy, in the form of a beautiful woman, came to a young man and whispered, "One wish will I grant you."

    The young man gazed into the deep eyes of the beautiful woman and, with thoughts playing upon her rare loveliness, breathed, "I wish for perfect happiness for all time!"

    And the fairy in the form of the beautiful woman granted him his wish.

    She left him.

    THE PHILOSOPHER
    They had quarrelled.

    Suddenly, her eyes flashing, she turned on him. "You think you are sure of me, don't you?" she cried. And in her tone at once were defiance and irony.

    But the man vouchsafed nothing in reply. For he well enough knew that when a woman flings that question at a man, the woman herself already knows deep in her heart that the man is—perfectly.

    OFFSPRING
    Egotism and Carnality married and gave birth to a child.

    They named it Love.

    BUT—

    "But——" interposed the young woman.

    A gleam came into the eyes of the man who coveted and who had long and vainly laid subtle siege against her.
    He appreciated now that it was merely a matter of time.

    CONJECTURE
    The pretty girl looked up at the stars, wondering....

    The stars looked down at the pretty girl, wondering....

    THE MIRROR
    In a great lonely house on a far lonely roadway lived in seclusion among her waxen flowers and cracking walls and faded relics of a far yesterday, a hateful and withered and bitter old woman. To the lonely house on the lonely roadway came one day out of the world to live with the old woman her young and beautiful and very lovely granddaughter. And one day—it was not so long afterward—the very lovely girl, rummaging about the great house, came upon a tall mirror, the mirror that the withered and bitter old woman had long been wont to use and that for all these many lonely years had seen and reflected naught but acrimony and decay and despair and ugliness. And the very lovely girl looked into the mirror—and suddenly cried out. For what the mirror reflected was not her very lovely self, but something hateful and withered and bitter....

    THE LOVER
    "Three brilliant men are my suitors," said the beautiful young woman. "And I would marry the one who loves me most. Tell me how I may know that one."

    "Pick the one who, when he is with you, is the most stupid," replied her old nurse.

    ECCE HOMO
    A homely woman smiled at a man. And the man, puzzled and speculating what was wrong with him, slouched on.

    A pretty woman smiled at a man. And the man, with the mien of a cock, threw out his chest and strutted on.

    THE COQUETTE
    A rose, an orchid and a little white clover were pressed between the leaves of a coquette's diary.

    "She loves me more than she loves either of you," cried the rose, "because I am the first flower my master ever gave her!"

    "She loves me more than she loves either of you," protested the orchid, "because I am the last flower my master ever gave her!"

    The little white clover smiled to itself and said nothing. For the little white clover knew that its mistress had picked it herself.

    THE ETERNAL MASCULINE
    "Whatever happens, wherever I go, wherever I am, I shall think of you," he said as he drew her to him and kissed her goodbye.

    Three days out at sea he met another. And that night on the silver hurricane deck, under shelter of the life boats, true to his word and promise, he thought of her. He thought how cold her kisses were compared with those of this lovely creature.

    ROMANCE
    There were many ardent suitors for her hand. And they sent her orchids and violets and lilies and roses. All save one, a poor young fellow, who sent her but a simple little bunch of daisies.

    She married the man who sent orchids.

    THE SPIDER AND THE FLY

    "Won't you come into my parlour?" said the spider to the fly.

    "What nice hair you have," said the woman to the man.

    FINIS
    Somewhere, a funeral bell was tolling.

    Somewhere, a thousand and one miles away, a woman was asking her lover for the third time in five minutes if he really loved her.

    [From A Book Without a Title, 1918]
    And when her lips so sweetly move
    The soul such height attain,
    You're free, yet would no longer rove
    But lay you down in chains.


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