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Project Gutenberg's The Physiology of Marriage, Part II., by Honore de Balzac
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Title: The Physiology of Marriage, Part II.
Author: Honore de Balzac
Release Date: July 4, 2005 [EBook #5899]
Character set encoding: ASCII
*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE PHYSIOLOGY OF MARRIAGE ***
Produced by Dagny; and John Bickers
THE PHYSIOLOGY OF MARRIAGE
HONORE DE BALZAC
MEANS OF DEFENCE, INTERIOR AND EXTERIOR.
"To be or not to be,
That is the question."
A TREATISE ON MARITAL POLICY.
When a man reaches the position in which the first part of this book
sets him, we suppose that the idea of his wife being possessed by
another makes his heart beat, and rekindles his passion, either by an
appeal to his _amour propre_, his egotism, or his self-interest, for
unless he is still on his wife's side, he must be one of the lowest of
men and deserves his fate.
In this trying moment it is very difficult for a husband to avoid
making mistakes; for, with regard to most men, the art of ruling a
wife is even less known than that of judiciously choosing one.
However, marital policy consists chiefly in the practical application
of three principles which should be the soul of your conduct. The
first is never to believe what a woman says; the second, always to
look for the spirit without dwelling too much upon the letter of her
actions; and the third, not to forget that a woman is never so
garrulous as when she holds her tongue, and is never working with more
energy than when she keeps quiet.
From the moment that your suspicions are aroused, you ought to be like
a man mounted on a tricky horse, who always watches the ears of the
beast, in fear of being thrown from the saddle.
But art consists not so much in the knowledge of principles, as in the
manner of applying them; to reveal them to ignorant people is to put a
razor in the hand of a monkey. Moreover, the first and most vital of
your duties consists in perpetual dissimulation, an accomplishment in
which most husbands are sadly lacking. In detecting the symptoms of
minotaurism a little too plainly marked in the conduct of their wives,
most men at once indulge in the most insulting suspicions. Their minds
contract a tinge of bitterness which manifests itself in their
conversation, and in their manners; and the alarm which fills their
heart, like the gas flame in a glass globe, lights up their
countenances so plainly, that it accounts for their conduct.