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"I think you will readily admit that your mistress has had other admirers, and that she will have still others in the future; you will doubtless reply that it matters little, so long as she loved you. But I ask you, since she has had others, what difference does it make whether it was yesterday or two years since? Since she loves but one at a time, what does it matter whether it is during an interval of two years or in the course of a single night? Are you a man, Octave? Do you see the leaves falling from the trees, the sun rising and setting? Do you hear the ticking of the horologe of time with each pulsation of your heart? Is there, then, such a difference between the love of a year and the love of an hour? I challenge you to answer that, you fool, as you sit there looking out at the infinite through a window not larger than your hand. "You consider that woman faithful who loves you two years; you must have an almanac that will indicate just how long it takes for an honest man's kisses to dry on a woman's lips. You make a distinction between the woman who sells herself for money and the one who gives herself for pleasure; between the one who gives herself through pride and the one who gives herself through devotion. Among women who are for sale, some cost more than others; among those who are sought for pleasure some inspire more confidence than others; and among those who are worthy of devotion there are some who receive a third of a man's heart, others a quarter, others a half, depending upon her education, her manner, her name, her birth, her beauty, her temperament, according to the occasion, according to what is said, according to the time, according to what you have drunk at dinner. "You love women, Octave, because you are young, ardent, because your features are regular, and your hair dark and glossy, but you do not, for all that, understand woman. "Nature, having all, desires the reproduction of beings; everywhere, from the summit of the mountain to the bottom of the sea, life is opposed to death. God, to conserve the work of His hands, has established this law- that the greatest pleasure of all sentient beings shall be to procreate. "Oh! my friend, when you feel bursting on your lips the vow of eternal love, do not be afraid to yield, but do not confound wine with intoxication; do not think of the cup divine because the draught is of celestial flavor; do not be astonished to find it broken and empty in the evening. It is but woman, but a fragile vase, made of earth by a potter. "Thank God for giving you a glimpse of heaven, but do not imagine yourself a bird because you can flap your wings. The birds themselves can not escape the clouds; there is a region where air fails them and the lark, rising with its song into the morning fog, sometimes falls back dead in the field. "Take love as a sober man takes wine; do not become a drunkard. If your mistress is sincere and faithful, love her for that; but if she is not, if she is merely young and beautiful, love her for that; if she is agreeable and spirituelle, love her for that; if she is none of these things but merely loves you, love her for that. Love does not come to us every day. "Do not tear your hair and stab yourself because you have a rival. You say that your mistress deceives you for another; it is your pride that suffers; but change the words, say that it is for you that she deceives him, and behold, you are happy! "Do not make a rule of conduct, and do not say that you wish to be loved exclusively, for in saying that, as you are a man and inconstant yourself, you are forced to add tacitly: 'As far as possible.' "Take time as it comes, the wind as it blows, woman as she is. The Spaniards, first among women, love faithfully; their hearts are sincere and violent, but they wear a dagger just above them. Italian women are lascivious. The English are exalted and melancholy, cold and unnatural. The German women are tender and sweet, but colorless and monotonous. The French are spirituelle, elegant, and voluptuous, but are false at heart. "Above all, do not accuse women of being what they are; we have made them thus, undoing the work of nature. "Nature, who thinks of everything, made the virgin for love; but with the first child her bosom loses form, her beauty its freshness. Woman is made for motherhood. Man would perhaps abandon her, disgusted by the loss of beauty; but his child clings to him and weeps. Behold the family, the human law; everything that departs from this law is monstrous. "Civilization thwarts the ends of nature. In our cities, according to our customs, the virgin destined by nature for the open air, made to run in the sunlight; to admire the nude wrestlers, as in Lacedemonia, to choose and to love, is shut up in close confinement and bolted in. Meanwhile she hides romance under her cross; pale and idle, she fades away and loses, in the silence of the nights, that beauty which oppresses her and needs the open air. Then she is suddenly snatched from this solitude, knowing nothing, loving nothing, desiring everything; an old woman instructs her, a mysterious word is whispered in her ear, and she is thrown into the arms of a stranger. There you have marriage, that is to say, the civilized family.