Physiology of Love and Other Writings 9781442688797

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Physiology of Love and Other Writings

Table of contents :
A Note on the Texts and Their Translations
Translator’s Note on Revising the Existing Translation of The Physiology of Love
Suggestions for Further Reading
Part One
The Physiology of Love
Part Two
From On the Hygienic and Medicinal Properties of Coca and on Nervine Nourishment in General
From One Day in Madeira: A Page in the Hygiene of Love
From A Voyage to Lapland with My Friend Stephen Sommier
From India
From Epicurus: Essay in a Physiology of the Beautiful
From The Neurosic Century
From The Tartuffe Century
From Head: or, Sowing Ideas to Create New Deeds
From Political Memoirs of a Foot Soldier in the Italian Parliament
From The Year 3000: A Dream
From ‘The Psychology of Translations’

Citation preview

The Physiology of Love and Other Writings


General Editors Luigi Ballerini and Massimo Ciavolella, University of California at Los Angeles Honorary Chairs †Professor Vittore Branca Honorable Dino De Poli Ambassador Gianfranco Facco Bonetti Honorable Anthony J. Scirica Advisory Board Remo Bodei, Università di Pisa Lina Bolzoni, Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa Francesco Bruni, Università di Venezia Giorgio Ficara, Università di Torino Michael Heim, University of California at Los Angeles †Amilcare A. Iannucci, University of Toronto Rachel Jacoff, Wellesley College Giuseppe Mazzotta, Yale University Gilberto Pizzamiglio, Università di Venezia Margaret Rosenthal, University of Southern California John Scott, University of Western Australia Elissa Weaver, University of Chicago

The Physiology of Love and Other Writings

PAOLO MANTEGAZZA Edited, with an introduction and notes, by Nicoletta Pireddu Translated by David Jacobson


© University of Toronto Press 2007 Toronto Buffalo London Printed in Canada isbn 978-0-8020-9289-2 The Lorenzo Da Ponte Italian Library Printed on acid-free paper

Libraries and Archives Canada Cataloguing in Publication Mantegazza, Paolo, 1831–1910 The physiology of love and other writings / Paolo Mantegazza; translated by David Jacobson; introduction and notes by Nicoletta Pireddu. (Lorenzo Da Ponte Italian library series) isbn 978-0-8020-9289-2 1. Ethnology. I. Jacobson, David (David J.) II. Title III. Series. GN308.3.I8M36




This volume is published under the aegis and with the financial assistance of: Fondazione Cassamarca, Treviso; Ministero degli Affari Esteri, Direzione Generale per la Promozione e la Cooperazione Culturale; Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali, Direzione Generale per i Beni Librari e gli Istituti Culturali, Servizio per la promozione del libro e della lettura. Publication of this volume is assisted by the Istituto Italiano di Cultura, Toronto. University of Toronto Press acknowledges the financial assistance to its publishing program of the Canada Council for the Arts and the Ontario Arts Council. University of Toronto Press acknowledges the financial support for its publishing activities of the Government of Canada through the Book Publishing Industry Development Program (BPIDP).


acknowledgments vii introduction


a note on the texts and their translations translator’s note


suggestions for further reading




The Physiology of Love





From On the Hygienic and Medicinal Virtues of the Coca Plant and on Nervine Nourishment in General 319 From One Day in Madeira: A Page in the Hygiene of Love


From A Voyage to Lapland with my Friend Stephen Sommier From India



From Epicurus: Essay in a Physiology of the Beautiful



Co nten ts

From The Neurosic Century


From The Tartuffe Century


From Head: or, Sowing Ideas to Create New Deeds


From Political Memoirs of a Foot Soldier in the Italian Parliament From The Year 3000: A Dream 513 From ‘ The Psychology of Translations’






Grazie to Professors Luigi Ballerini and Massimo Ciavolella for thinking my enthralment with Mantegazza’s works could turn into a volume of the Da Ponte Italian Library, and for giving me the chance to share this journey into the kaleidoscopic world of Mantegazza with a splendid translator like David Jacobson. From him I learned a great deal about the craft of writing and the subtle art of le mot juste. I deeply appreciate Ron Schoeffel’s encouraging comments on the manuscript, and the anonymous readers’ favourable responses and wise suggestions. I wish to thank Professor Kumaraswamy Velupillai for his generous input on things Indian, Professor Axel Leijonhufvud and Dr Earlene Craver for their valuable information about Scandinavian culture, Professor Charlotte Bruun for her prompt feedback on Danish spelling, Professor Mak Paranjape for his enlightening explanation of Mantegazza’s physical and pataphysical terms, and Dr Esteban Vesperoni for sharing his expertise on Argentinian flora and fauna. A special recognition of all those colleagues and friends who patiently endured questions on ‘rivellenti,’ in particular Drs Laura Luna, Francesco Luna, Marina Natale, Andrea Natale, and Domenico Natale. My thanks to the staff of Lauinger Library at Georgetown University, for their help with my endless requests for interlibrary loans, as well as to the librarians of the Anthropology Section of the Biblioteca di Scienze and of the Museum of Natural History at the University of Florence, in particular Drs Maria Emanuela Frati and Maria Gloria Roselli. I wish to dedicate this work to little Ilaria Michelle, who, with her liveliness and cheerfulness, seems to have already learned the Mantegazzian arte di essere felici. nicoletta pireddu

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The Physiology of Love and Other Writings

Introduction Paolo Mantegazza: A Scientist and His Ecstasies

‘An optimist has died, a great and unrelenting optimist who had his glory days, and who, many many years ago, inaugurated in Italy a form of literature that wanted to make science popular. A physician has died, a physiologist, a writer who believed in happiness.’1 For both novice readers and connoisseurs of Paolo Mantegazza, this eulogy – one of the many commemorating the decease of the father of Italian anthropology – captures the professional and personal qualities that make this intellectual unique and memorable. Curiously, whether written in 1910 on the occasion of Mantegazza’s death or throughout his long, productive, and exciting life, the numerous portraits of this singular figure of late nineteenth-century Italian culture could not help incorporating in their own tone the exuberance and magniloquence that are the hallmarks of their subject. Angelo De Gubernatis, for instance, praised the ‘liveliness’2 of Mantegazza’s imagination, his ‘generous ardour,’ and his enthusiasm, as qualities inflaming his language and accomplishments. Envied and targeted for his fame in Italy and abroad, but certainly superior to all his rivals, Mantegazza, for De Gubernatis, was distinguished for his impetuous and boundless love of beauty. This characteristic emerges with equal clarity from Paolo Riccardi’s profile of his mentor: for Riccardi, Mantegazza had a multifaceted ingenuity, and was able to speak to the mind and to the heart, to

1 Luciano Zuccoli, ‘La morte di un ottimista,’ originally published in Gazzetta di Venezia, 29 August 1910. Repr. in Parvulae, pagine sparse di Paolo Mantegazza (Milan: Treves, 1910), p. v. English translation mine. 2 Angelo De Gubernatis, ed., Dizionario biografico degli scrittori contemporanei (Florence: LeMonnier, 1879), p. 681. English translations mine.


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persuade through scientific facts and simultaneously to shake souls with his feelings and aesthetic sense.3 Likewise, an 1893 article by Frederick Starr in Popular Science Monthly, written to prepare the ground for Mantegazza’s visit to the United States, offered a sketch of a pioneering scholar distinguished for something more than the attractive subjects of his investigations and books. For Starr, to read Mantegazza’s work was ‘to gain a wonderful insight into the Italian mind and into the Italian mode of thought and expression.’4 Praising Physiognomy and Expression, the only major volume by Mantegazza published in America at that time, Starr claimed that ‘no one but an Italian could have written it. Expression is at its best where the blood is hot and vigorous, and where people feel as they live; in such a country as Italy, and among a people like the Italians, only could such a study be so well made.’5 And hot and vigorous Mantegazza’s blood indeed was. He felt as he lived, and he lived to accumulate an amazing number of achievements, as another American admirer of his, Victor Robinson, proclaimed in his introduction to a 1935 edition of Gli amori degli uomini: ‘Few writers of the Age of Innocence are now read so widely and reprinted as often as Mantegazza. A biographer in search of six characters could find them all in the versatile Italian: physician-surgeon, laboratory-worker, author-editor, travelleranthropologist, sanitarian and senator.’6 And as ‘a delineator of love’ Mantegazza had ‘never been surpassed and rarely equalled,’ wrote Robinson; if there were flaws in his writing, they ‘were invariably the faults of superabundance – from the depths of his nature there poured a thousand pages surcharged with passion – and never of emotional poverty.’7

3 Paolo Riccardi, Saggio di un catalogo bibliografico antropologico italiano (Modena: Vincenzi, 1883), pp. 54–5. 4 Frederick Starr, ‘Sketch of Paolo Mantegazza,’ Popular Science Monthly 43 (1893): 549. 5 Ibid., p. 551. 6 Victor Robinson, ‘Introduction,’ in Paolo Mantegazza, The Sexual Relations of Mankind, trans. Samuel Putnam (New York: Eugenics Publishing Co., 1935), p. ix. The title of the English translation, not unlike the titles of several other translations of the work, is misleading in its primary emphasis on the sexual aspect of Mantegazza’s study, given the much broader scope of Gli amori degli uomini. Such textual choices have reinforced the image of Mantegazza as a sexologist to the detriment of the numerous other aspects of his intellectual work. 7 Ibid., p. xii.



Not even Mantegazza’s detractors seemed immune to his ardour in their critiques. If Ardengo Soffici considered him the epitome of late nineteenth-century overflowing stupidity,8 Giovanni Papini coined for him the insulting label of ‘erotic senator’9 to highlight the ‘lewd malice’ with which that ‘tyrannical and bizarre’ figure – the ‘Eternal Father’ of all disciplines – covered up his inability to generate original scientific theories by resorting to sexuality and to literary touches between the materialist and the romantic. Benedetto Croce would not be more restrained in his portrait of the once very popular and later totally forgotten pseudo-scientist, who in fact, according to Croce, abused science so as to satisfy unscientific curiosities, in speaking of sexual matters as both a priest of voluptuousness and a wise scientific moderator.10 But granted that Mantegazza was not a half-tone figure, what still makes him stimulating a century after his own death, despite the slatings and the oblivion that followed his triumph? His very eclecticism, one could venture to claim. The spices in his texts are ‘his word and his pen’ – to quote his fellow anthropologist Giuseppe Sergi11 – together with that lack of specialization that made him a much extolled and equally vituperated ‘Renaissance man,’ not always methodologically rigorous but certainly always brave and brilliant in his contributions to a surprising variety of scientific and humanistic fields. Mantegazza’s extraordinary blend of pioneering intuitions and absurdly dated viewpoints effectively maps the circulation of ideas and the cross-fertilization of disciplines in a complex and contradictory period of Italian and European cultural life, in which the positivist cult of the true merges with the irrational and emotional impulses of the fin de siècle. Mantegazza marked the cultural history of the newly unified Italy not only with more than a hundred works ranging from treatises on craniology and physiognomy to handbooks on the hygiene of love, personal journals, and science fiction (some of which were put on the Index of 8 Ardengo Soffici, ‘Firenze,’ Il Selvaggio 5:4, (29 February 1928): 15. 9 Giovanni Papini, ‘Il senatore erotico,’ in Passato remoto 1885–1914 (Florence: Ponte alle Grazie, 1984), p. 91. English translation mine. 10 Benedetto Croce, ‘Scienziati-letterati,’ in Croce, La letteratura della nuova Italia, vol. 6 (Bari: Laterza, 1957), p. 54. 11 Giuseppe Sergi, ‘Paolo Mantegazza,’ Nuova antologia (16 September 1910): 232.


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Forbidden Books for the controversial physiological and moral issues they broached),12 but also with a remarkable series of public roles and institutional and social accomplishments aimed at promoting the physical, civic, and cultural development of the Italian people. Born in 1831, a physician by training, in 1860 he founded the first laboratory of experimental pathology at the University of Pavia.13 Ten years later he set up and occupied the first chair of anthropology in Florence (also the first in Europe), and created the National Museum of Anthropology and Ethnology, the Italian Society of Anthropology, and the journal Archivio per l’antropologia e l’etnologia, which has remained the official publication of the Society ever since. The first president of the Italian Photographic Society, Mantegazza was one of the first in the world to utilize and promote photography for anthropological research. And if his strictly scientific works addressed only a selected circle of scholars, the Hygienic Almanacs – serial publications he founded and edited for almost thirty years – were meant to reach out specifically to common people in order to improve their sanitary conditions and to draw attention to health as a collective rather than an individual concern. As director of the Marine Hydrotherapy Institute of Rimini on the Adriatic Sea from 1869 to 1879 and a consultant for the bathing establishment, he initiated Italy to the therapeutic and leisure potentialities of the beach resort, thereby inaugurating the fashion for seaside holidays. It is evident, therefore, that Mantegazza’reputation evokes much more than an obsessive sexologist. In Mantegazza’s own words, ‘A great

12 Among the comments in the Index, the following give an idea of Mantegazza’s overall reception: The Physiology of Love is a ‘book of blasphemies against Christianity, Jesus, the Virgin, and Christian virginity’ because of its physiological reduction of life to mere nutrition and generation; Gli amori degli uomini ‘narrates with truthful accuracy the loves of people, especially savage ones; it accepts divorce, free love, polygamy, and even polyandry’; L’arte di prender moglie and L’arte di prender marito are ‘irreligious’ because they demand free choice for both sexes, with the enlightenment of reason and the guarantee of divorce. See L’Indice dei libri proibiti. Saggi e commenti, pt 3, ‘Breve commento di tutto l’indice,’ ed. Giovanni Casati (Milan: Casa Editrice ‘Pro Familia,’ 1939), pp. 243– 4. English translations mine. 13 Additional intriguing scientific accomplishments that bear Mantegazza’s signature are the invention of the ‘globulimetro,’ an instrument for the rapid measurement of blood red cells; research on artificial insemination; and experiments on animal grafts.



author of antiquity said he feared men who had just one book, but I fear men with just one passion.’14 And he certainly never made a mystery of his penchant for intellectual ‘polygamy,’15 but portrayed himself as a proud lover of many cognitive fields, ‘which he would have liked to turn into a harem of as many lovers.’16 His professional versatility and volcanic personality won him the recognition of leading European intellectuals, among them Charles Darwin, of whom Mantegazza became an enthusiastic follower, and by whom he was rewarded in his turn by citations in The Origin of Species and The Descent of Man. Regarded as the Italian equivalent of the French anthropologist Paul Broca, he endorsed the notion of culture in the wide ethnographic sense introduced by the British anthropologist Edward B. Tylor, as ‘that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society.’17 Mantegazza could legitimately be considered a forerunner of what has now come to be known as ‘cultural studies’ precisely for his interdisciplinary approach, the passionate blend of scientific and literary elements in his writings, and his ability to transcend the boundaries between ‘high’ and ‘low’ culture in his scholarly production.18 Of this great provocateur and popularizer of knowledge, compulsive writer and success addict, the present volume collects representative examples, most of which are translated into English for the first time. The Body, the Mind, the Heart: A Physiologist for All Reasons When, in 1854, soon after graduation, Mantegazza began to practise medicine in Argentina, he not only exported his expertise to South America but also developed an interest in indigenous healing procedures. Out

14 15 16 17 18

Parvulae, p. 243. Paolo Mantegazza, La bibbia della speranza (Torino: STEN, 1909), p. 1. Ibid., p. 2. Edward Burnett Tylor, Primitive Culture (London: John Murray, 1871), 1. For a discussion of Mantegazza’s production in the theoretical context of cultural studies, see Nicoletta Pireddu, ‘The Anthropological Roots of Italian Cultural Studies,’ in Italian Cultural Studies, ed. Graziella Parati and Ben Lawton (Boca Raton, FL: Bordighera, 2001), pp. 66–88.


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of that interest he introduced the digestive and stimulating properties of coca to the European scientific community. Further substantiated by his direct experience as a coca consumer, initially recorded in numerous entries of his personal journals, the essay On the Hygienic and Medicinal Properties of Coca and on Nervine Nourishment in General, published in 1859 on his return to Italy, was the first official scientific recognition of the action of erithroxylon on the human body and of its pharmacological applications. Awarded the Dall’Acqua prize for its pioneering value, Mantegazza’s study achieved sensational success both in Italy and abroad, and has remained a landmark in the history of cocaine. It is enough to open Sigmund Freud’s later writings on cocaine to appreciate the relevance of Mantegazza’s essay for subsequent psychopharmacological investigations. Indeed, Freud’s ‘Cocaine Papers’ acknowledge the Italian anthropologist’s ground-breaking contribution to the exploration of the powers of the coca plant and substantiate much of its conclusions: coca’s ability to increase mental and physical energy supposedly with no detectable harmful consequences; its effectiveness as a euphoriant and stimulant of the central nervous system, and its simultaneous numbing effect on the stomach; and, last but not least, its aphrodisiac action, not always corroborated by science but emphasized by both scholars.19 One would even be tempted to detect Mantegazza’s ardour and enthusiasm in Freud’s preliminary work for his own study on coca: ‘I am just now busy collecting the literature for a song of praise to this magical substance,’20 almost an echo of the notion of virtue as both property and magical element conveyed in the original title of Mantegazza’s essay – ‘Sulle virtù igieniche e medicinali della

19 Sigmund Freud, Cocaine Papers, ed. Robert Byck (New York and Scarborough: New American Library, 1974). Freud makes several references to Mantegazza in his ‘Über Coca’ (ibid., pp. 49–73), but the pioneering achievements of On the Hygienic and Medicinal Properties of Coca and on Nervine Nourishment in General are also recognized in several sources that Freud consulted for his own work, such as Theodor Aschenbrandt’s ‘The Physiological Effect and Significance of Cocaine Muriate on the Human Organism’ (ibid., pp. 21–6). It should also be acknowledged that, while Mantegazza was discussing the action of the coca leaf, Freud was already experimenting with cocaine, the drug deriving from it. 20 Freud, Cocaine Papers, p. 9.



coca.’ Freud’s essay itself is written with a degree of emotional involvement and exuberance that, in the best Mantegazzian tradition, often seems to prevail over the objectivity expected of a scientific publication. Indeed, Mantegazza’s essay on coca, one of his earliest writings, exhibits the combination of scientific claim to rigour and resistance to classificatory constraints that would come to characterize his overall approach to his objects of study. The very coca that offers the scholar the opportunity for a painstaking categorization of substances is also the substance that will reveal to him a world beyond the boundaries of rationality and control. On the one hand, in the introduction to his essay, Mantegazza places foods in three different groups – ‘plastic, respiratory, or nervine’ – and quite creatively distributes nervine foods in different ‘families’ and ‘tribes.’ On the other hand, with the colourful rhetoric that would become his seal, he invites readers not to confuse artificial distinctions and facts of nature. He wishes he could ban the notions of classes, species, and genera altogether, since in his main fields of investigation – physiology and pathology – phenomena and elements constantly intersect and blend, showing that the truth of life can be grasped only if life is appraised in its entirety: ‘The analyst’s scalpel, however skilfully and penetratingly it moves over the fabric of life, cannot help but leave some droplet of blood as proof that what was cut into formed a whole’ (p. 320).21 This metaphor, which recurs with slight variations in subsequent texts, already shows Mantegazza as the servant of two masters, namely, the objectivity and impersonality proper to scientific analysis and the emotional appeal of sensations. The essay as a whole synthesizes Mantegazza’s methodological hybridity, occupying the space between the sensorially deranged confessions of a Romantic opium eater and the systematic twentieth-century medical treatise. Mantegazza’s pride in being the first European scholar to have accomplished a chemical and physiological study of the effects of coca goes hand in hand with his excitement at the results of his ingestion of the substance. After introducing his Italian readers to the practice of

21 Unless otherwise indicated, all English quotations from Mantegazza’s works are taken from our volume.



coca consumption in South America (a practice that, in addition to being presented as a sort of panacea among indigenous populations, even seems to provide cohesion among all the races and nations in that area), he describes the physiological action of coca and its applications in the area of public health, thereby challenging what for him is the ludicrous Western and white bias against coca, and giving more credit to local popular traditions than to the findings of medical science for the exploitation of this precious pharmacological treasure. And it is certainly less with the rational spirit of a scientist than with the imagination of a literary writer that Mantegazza lingers over the repercussions of coca upon the body, as announced by the essay’s opening quotation from Camoëns’s The Lusiads, a solemn introduction to the prodigious substance under the auspices of the epic. Sensitive to its difference from alcohol-induced intoxication, which for him violently disrupts muscular and mental activities, Mantegazza extols the inebriation caused by coca as a delightful gradual process of sensory infusion that enhances the vital functions and allows enjoyment of a surplus of energy without the urge to apply it to profitable purposes. In a sort of aestheticizing process exalting sensations for their own sake, coca is celebrated for its ‘very rare quality of … letting us enjoy, through its phantasmagoria, one of the greatest pleasures in life,’ an experience of ‘true happiness’ that does not ‘offend the most scrupulous morals’ (pp. 343–4). We can already see Mantegazza’s penchant for those experiences of enjoyment and excess that help the individual transcend physical, rational, moral, and social constraints and that are the subject of various other works (such as Quadri della natura umana and Le estasi umane) in which coca will reappear. As it overcomes the reality principle, the fullness of life that Mantegazza celebrates in his essay after his most substantial ingestion of coca also provides insights into the mechanisms of the creative process, with implications that, beyond Mantegazza’s own awareness, would turn out to be very relevant to the working of the psyche according to the emerging Freudian psychoanalysis as well as to the connection between literary activity and the irrational and unconscious mechanisms in avantgarde aesthetic movements like Futurism and Surrealism. The kaleidoscopic visions that Mantegazza experiences, and the language he adopts

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to describe them, may be seen as intimations of the Freudian dynamics of the dreamwork as a model for aesthetic activity: ‘those splendid apparitions, which straddled one another in the most disconnected fashion,’ juxtaposed as in a dream ‘at the whims of the most unbridled fantasy,’ (p. 341), recall the very principles of condensation and displacement that also govern the creative process as an expression of wish fulfilment.22 Significantly, Mantegazza himself explicitly relates the crescendo of those ‘phantasmagoric images’ to ‘the most aesthetic ideal of art and imagination’ (pp. 341–2) when he ultimately lingers over a rapid sequence of bizarre visions parading before his eyes. From a ‘battalion of steel pens battling an armada of corkscrews’ to a ‘glint of glass shards perforating a wheel of Parmesan cheese crowned with ivy and mulberry leaves’ or a ‘ladder of blotting paper lined with rattlesnakes, down from which are leaping red rabbits with green ears’ (p. 343), the juxtaposition of apparently unrelated and highly elaborate images suggests the process of association of ideas beyond logic and causality that would soon govern Marinetti’s imagination without strings or André Bréton’s principle of automatic writing. It is therefore not surprising that for this veritable ‘treasure of the New World’ (pp. 343–4) Mantegazza sees a variety of therapeutic applications in the treatment of digestive problems, depression, and sexual apathy23 that he hopes will become the subject of experiments by European scientists. And with equal optimism he looks at the future uses of coca, foreseeing that it will thrive across nations as one of the most valuable medicinal resources. Time would substantiate only in part his rosy forecast: the twentieth-century discovery of the disastrous effects of addiction would reduce the enthusiasm that animated the studies on coca until Freud. Mantegazza’s research, however, retains not only a medical but also an ethnographic significance, in that it draws attention

22 See, for instance, Sigmund Freud, ‘Creative Writing and Daydreaming,’ in The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, ed. James Strachey, vol. 9 (London: Hogarth, 1959), pp. 143–53. 23 Section 5 of Mantegazza’s essay, ‘Osservazioni pratiche sull’azione terapeutica della coca,’ which is not included in our volume, reports case histories of individuals who were treated with coca precisely for those kinds of problems.



to indigenous popular practices.24 For its remarkable intuitions and the deep analysis of its object of study, this essay can be considered a seminal contribution to the history of medicine despite its questionable approach and standpoints – not least, the racial prejudices in Mantegazza’s hierarchical ladder of coca consumers, with the commendable strength of the pure Indian at the top and the African’s easy predisposition to delirium and mental alienation at the bottom.25 Yet this essay also offers an intriguing preview of many attitudes and issues that Mantegazza develops in subsequent works – from experiences of pleasure, ecstasy, and beauty to the pursuit of the ideal, acquaintance with cultural otherness, and displacement in a geographical elsewhere – always within the supposedly scientific framework of physiology, which, as he claims in The Physiology of Love, ‘is, or should be, the legitimate mother of every human legislation’ (p. 221). Precisely the passion for life in all its aspects and the need for a global approach to his research object led Mantegazza to a holistic examination of human behaviour, which he undertook in a sequence of four physiological studies – Fisiologia del piacere, Fisiologia del dolore, Fisiologia dell’amore, and Fisiologia dell’odio. Those works aimed at mapping what for Mantegazza were the four basic principles of human existence, and simultaneously they drew inspiration from social questions and from the desire to improve the condition of the Italian people by attacking and overcoming certain anachronistic practices. Completed in 1854, when Mantegazza was barely twenty-three years old, Fisiologia del piacere contains in a nutshell the scientific objectives and the ethical tenets that inform its author’s overall vision. Mantegazza

24 And it is also significant that, as Antonio Aimi has observed, ethnomedicine and ethnobotanics have recently reintroduced therapies based on coca leaves precisely for the kinds of situations initially contemplated in Mantegazza’s essay. See Antonio Aimi, ‘Mantegazza e la coca: una ricerca da rivalutare,’ in Cosimo Chiarelli and Walter Pasini, eds, Paolo Mantegazza: medico, antropologo, viaggiatore (Florence: Firenze University Press, 2002), p. 169. 25 These prejudices, by no means the only ones that can be found in Mantegazza’s discourse, can be connected to similar gendered-based biases in Quadri della natura umana, where Mantegazza justifies the male’s greater propensity to use nervine nourishments and other stimulants by maintaining that men have a greater need for enjoyment than women.

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introduces this volume as a sample of the methodological approach he intends to adopt in his lifelong ‘physiological study of moral man.’26 Similarly, with respect to content, the young Mantegazza here exhibits his enduring conviction that, although pleasure is nothing less than ‘the polar star of the whole mankind,’27 people in fact disavow its appeal and influence in their hypocritical lives. For the sake of truth, which he feels should never be neglected in science, Mantegazza hence undertakes what in his view is a brave but systematic analysis of an extremely controversial yet omnipresent object of study, one that can be pinned down only in an examination of the whole spectrum of hedonistic experiences, from the materiality of senses to the sphere of emotions and feelings, culminating with the sublimation of sensuality into the ascetic pleasures of the intellect. The ultimate objective of the book’s data collections and detailed classifications is to lay the foundations of nothing less than a veritable science of pleasure, namely, hedonology. Mantegazza’s ambitious anatomy of such an elusive and subjective experience as pleasure seems to be effectively supported by the systematization of his findings in such tables as the ones on the distribution of pleasures across professions and races. These certainly belong among the many and quite grotesque taxonomic operations that dot Mantegazza’s subsequent tests, revealing not only the often questionable premises of his mathematical formalizations but also the idiosyncracies and biases in his deductions. Anything but neutral, the hierarchy of different approaches to pleasures recorded by Mantegazza constructs quite stereotypical (and often offensive) portraits of social classes and ethnic groups drawn from individual and cultural clichés of the age – from the European banker’s gratification with material possession or the enjoyable benevolence prevailing in those of the noble professions such as the physician, the teacher, and the priest, to the inscrutability of members of the American races, or, at the opposite extreme, the excessive enjoyment manifested by blacks, which Mantegazza considers inversely proportional to their degree of intelligence.

26 Paolo Mantegazza, Fisiologia del piacere (Pordenone: Edizioni Studio Tesi, 1992), p. 4. English translation mine. 27 Ibid., p. 403. English translation mine.



Nevertheless, what makes Fisiologia del piacere so unmistakably ‘Mantegazzian’ is the double status of pleasure, namely, its being not simply the volume’s object of study but also (or above all) its expressive medium. Where the scientific rigour of taxonomies and definitions vacillates (a tendency already exhibited in the essay on coca), the author’s flamboyant stylistic formulas succeed in manifesting pleasure as the author’s own unrestrained joie de vivre (‘Pleasure is the kiss that nature gives to being alive’)28 or the mystical underpinnings of his materialism and hedonism (‘Pleasure is the undulatory vibration that God imparts to living matter as it emanates from his hands’).29 The skilful and passionate rhetoric that informs Mantegazza’s scientific discourse suggests that, as has been observed,30 his idea of physiology is primarily literary and aesthetic, owing much more to Honoré de Balzac’s Physiologie du mariage and Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin’s Physiologie du goût than to the medical realm. If, in the case of Fisiologia del piacere, we can justify this ‘soft’ interpretation of physiology by thinking that the text was composed before the advent of positivism, it is worth noting that the verve and hybridity of Mantegazza’s writing do not diminish in the later volumes of his series of studies, produced in an apparently more solid scientific milieu and dealing with more negative sensory and psychological phenomena such as pain and hate – he deemed these, however, to be as pervasive in the lives of human beings as hedonistic experiences. Fisiologia del dolore (1880), indeed, is no less difficult to accommodate within the disciplinary specializations to which more recent epochs are accustomed. What is intriguing in this volume is neither the accuracy of the medical or psychological findings (in its pages, experiments on the influence of pain on the chemistry of animal breathing or discussions on different typologies of neuralgia are followed by an aesthetic critique of Laocoon or of moral forms of pain) nor the final condemnation of pain as ‘the cancerous wound corroding the happiness of living 28 ‘Il piacere è il bacio dato dalla natura all’essere vivo’ (ibid., p. 402). English translation mine. 29 ‘Il piacere è l’ondulazione lasciata da Dio alla materia viva nell’escire dalle sue mani’ (ibid., p. 403). English translation mine. 30 Grazia Misano, ‘Paolo Mantegazza: mito e realtà del “senatore erotico,”’ in ‘Trivialliteratur?’ Letterature di massa e di consumo, ed. AA.VV. (Trieste: LINT, 1979), p. 308.

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beings,’31 a quite predictable conclusion in the framework of Mantegazza’s vision. Rather, Fisiologia del dolore is most significant for what we could describe as a semiotic interpretation of human bodies and behaviours. Expanding on observations he had already presented in Physiognomy and Expression, Mantegazza here reads expressions and experiences as signs, and renders his methodology even more insightful by frequently integrating in his explanations the visual support of sketches and photographs of expressions of different kinds of pain that he had collected earlier in an atlas.32 Mantegazza is here fully aware of the communicative value of iconic representations, in that he uses attitudes and images as languages, as signifying, and hence interpretable, systems. Fisiologia del dolore, therefore, confirms its author’s status as a proto–cultural anthropologist, not simply because he studies culture globally by tackling its manifestations across different epochs, social levels, and races, but, more radically, because, beyond the verbal realm, he juggles with multiple communication systems, extracting messages from all examples of human behaviour and forms of living matter at large. But, also at the level of content, Mantegazza’s experimental science often transcends the bizarre, to highlight topics that still retain their significance. For instance, the chapter on the physical and psychological ailments of hypochondria – an illness from which Mantegazza himself suffered for some time – foregrounds the complex cognitive and behavioural disturbances caused by that emotional and psychic disorder, thereby anticipating more recent awareness of and concern with depression and psychosomatic illnesses. Likewise, Mantegazza’s investigation of hate in Fisiologia dell’odio (1889), the last component of his ‘sensory and affective cosmogony,’33 lays bare individual and collective mechanisms that are as pertinent to the world of antiquity as to the society of our own century. Once again

31 ‘La piaga cancerosa che corrode la felicità dei viventi’ (Paolo Mantegazza, Fisiologia del dolore [Florence: Paggi, 1880], pp. 437–8). English translation mine. 32 Atlante delle espressioni del dolore di Paolo Mantegazza (1876) contains 123 pictures of human expressions of pain, reproducing either real subjects or artworks on the theme of pain. 33 ‘Cosmogonia sensitiva e affettiva’ (Paolo Mantegazza, Fisiologia dell’odio [Milan: Treves, 1889], p. 3).



relying on his enduring interest in both verbal and non-verbal communication, Mantegazza attempts to map the expressive, psychological, and physical instances of hate across gender, age, personality, and ethnic boundaries. Introduced as an empirical and ethical concept, hate prompts him to analyse such diverse reactions as rage, revenge, cruelty, and swearing (he even compiles notes for nothing less than a ‘bestemmiologia comparata,’34 a comparative study of profanities, from classical Greek and Latin cultures to those of China, Japan, and contemporary Europe, and, on a smaller scale, in the dialects of several Italian regions). Many of his observations on the psychology of war are also quite insightful, as, for instance, his emphasis on the crucial role of the people and of public opinion in matters of conflict, independent of a sovereign’s personal decision. The acknowledgment of the universal and everlasting presence of hate in human life, however, does not prevent Mantegazza from concluding his work on a note of hope, emphasizing the progress from the brutality of a past plagued by murders and the death penalty to the sublimating power of contemporary justice, and even envisaging a future in which politics and education will succeed in abolishing war and violence. But if, as Mantegazza reiterates time and again, the individual is born to enjoy and to love, not surprisingly the most popular of his fourvolume series was Fisiologia dell’ amore (1873) (The Physiology of Love), which tackled ‘the most powerful and the least studied of the human affections.’ Convinced that love for too long had been ‘surrounded by a triple selvedge of prejudice, of mystery, and of hypocrisy,’ Mantegazza set out to ‘study it as a phenomenon of life and as a gigantic force,’ ‘an element of the health of the individual and of the generations’ (p. 77). With this undertaking – which he himself, with his unmistakable boldness and self-complacency considered ‘laudable’ (p. 77), and which would be followed by two subsequent works on the same topic, Gli amori degli uomini and Igiene dell’amore – Mantegazza secured his place in history as the controversial initiator of sexology35 in an Italy where the

34 Ibid., pp. 63, 84–92. 35 Even though, as Mantegazza’s texts show, the object of study is not exclusively sexual.

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psychological and sexual underpinnings of love, and the role of gender difference in that context, had never been discussed, if we exclude the Church’s interventions on sentimental and sexual matters, inevitably dictated not so much by scientific motivations as by ideological moral purposes. When we take into account that, until the 1983 reform, canon law presented marriage as exclusively in the service of procreation, and hence projected the notion of sin onto all other instances of love and sexuality as sources of gratification, it is not difficult to imagine why The Physiology of Love quickly became a best-seller, despite (or because of) the controversy over its alleged scandalous contents: it seems that a copy of The Physiology of Love was present (although out of sight) in most of those very bourgeois households that apparently endorsed the prudery the book was bashing. The twelve reprints and various translations in subsequent years36 corroborate the astonishing resonance and enduring appeal of this work. The originality and audacity of Mantegazza’s volume in the Italian context appear all the more significant if we examine the status of the debates on sexual matters within the wider European framework. The very term sexology was still recent, having been introduced by Auguste Comte a couple of decades earlier, and was infrequent in the literature of the late nineteenth century, at least until Freud. But Mantegazza’s work quickly became recognized as an authoritative source by such figures as the German psychiatrist Richard von Krafft-Ebing, the author of Psychopathia Sexualis (1886), and the English physician Havelock Ellis, the author of Studies in the Psychology of Sex (1897–1928), both of whom often quoted from The Physiology of Love. And when, in 1908, Magnus Hirschfeld published the first German journal of sexology, Zeitschrift für Sexualwissenschaft, he solicited contributions from Mantegazza.37 By then, to be sure,

36 Ehrenfreund records German, French, Russian, Bohemian, Spanish, and Portuguese translations of Fisiologia dell’amore between 1877 and 1899. See Erasmo Ehrenfreund, Bibliografia degli scritti di Paolo Mantegazza (Florence: Stabilimento Grafico Commerciale, 1926), p. 71. For additional details on the translations of Mantegazza’s texts, see our section entitled ‘A Note on the Texts and Their Translations,’ below. 37 See Erwin J. Haeberle, ‘Sexology: From Italy to Europe and the World,’ in Sessualità e terzo millennio. Studi e ricerche in sessuologia clinica, vol. 1, ed. C. Simonelli, F. Petruccelli, and V. Vizzari (Milan: Franco Angeli, 1997), pp. 13–22.



The Physiology of L0ve had been under even the Freudian spotlight: Ida Bauer, the ‘Dora’ of ‘Fragments of an Analysis of a Case of Hysteria,’ had purportedly developed her sexual fantasies from a reading of Mantegazza’s book. The evolution of the concept of sexuality and of its relation to social morality at the turn of the century also owed a great deal to the growing scholarly interest in the female figure thanks to the spreading feminist movements, although what continued to prevail in the European discourse of the time was the idea of woman’s inferiority and, especially in Italy, the cliché that woman constituted a moral danger for man. Despite the limitations of his position, therefore, Mantegazza has rightly been acknowledged for his treatment of love and sexuality as complex issues, to be examined globally, as much from the psychological and sociological point of view as from an anthropological, medical, political, and – last but not least – rigorously lay perspective. And, to be sure, in this demanding operation, attention to the status and the role of women was paramount, as we can see also in other volumes that Mantegazza devotes to the fair sex, from Fisiologia della donna, to L’arte di prender moglie and L’arte di prender marito, Le donne del mio tempo, and even his profile of a woman who exerted a strong influence on him, his mother Laura Solera, featured in La mia mamma.38 The chapters of The Physiology of Love, with their emphasis on such topics as seduction, modesty, and chastity or virginity, turn out to be mainly investigations into the feminine world that owe as much to psychological, physiological, and pathological expertise as to the charm the other sex had always held for Mantegazza. The underlying idea of the volume – colourfully synthesized in the front-page dedication 38 Laura Solera Mantegazza (1813–73) was a patriot during Italy’s wars of independence, the creator of humanitarian institutions in support of illiterate women, women workers, and children, and a committed promoter of women’s social and political activism. Not accidentally, the 1880 Italian edition of The Physiology of Love includes the responses of two women to Mantegazza’s volume, one of whom is Laura Solera. Predictably, the comments of this strong advocate of female emancipation on her son’s achievement are glowing: ‘I think you have very generously done justice to our sex in all that is spiritual, noble, and elevated.’ Mantegazza’s mamma, furthermore, in the best Italian tradition, does not miss the opportunity to recommend that her beloved and successful Paolo be magnanimous with that portion of the world not endowed with his ingenuity. See Fisiologia dell’amore (Florence: Bemporad, 1880), p. 12. English translation mine.

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to ‘the daughters of Eve’ – is that sexuality is a culture that looks at and talks about the whole individual; that love is not just feelings but also physicality; and that physicality is a source of pleasure that is neither shameful nor necessarily finalized to procreation. As for his particularly intense involvement in the theme of love, which Mantegazza himself recognizes in his apostrophe to his readers in the first Italian edition of the book,39 the reason for his warm and colourful style is the nature of the topic, which has possessed, invaded, and shaken its author even though he has tried to handle and tame it. We recognize, however, that, as his contemporaries had already remarked, rather than being a contingent exception, the attitude informing this style is a feature of most of Mantegazza’s writings. And if style is the man himself, as Buffon claimed, there surely are many captivating discoveries about Mantegazza that can be made by reading The Physiology of Love. From the first chapter, devoted to the general physiology of love, Mantegazza insists on the material foundation of life – a leading idea in the scientific discourse of his time – as he illustrates an alternating dynamics of birth and death within which the energy of love acts as a regenerating factor. Yet Mantegazza soon adds that the combination of those two molecules called man and woman – apparently explainable according to the physical principles of ‘dissimilar atoms which seek each other and unite’ (p. 89) and to be studied in the physiologist’s laboratory – in fact cannot be separated from the more complex and ideal findings of the psychologist, the philosopher, and the poet. Therefore, the ultimate goal of science, ‘which understands and directs all things’ (p. 94), is to offer the most comprehensive image of what for Mantegazza is ‘the most intense … human [and] … richest’ (p. 93) of passions, a passion that, however, is almost completely unexplored and is simultaneously distorted by inadequate social and legal norms. The Physiology of Love, indeed, is as much a journey into the female world as a denunciation of the pretences of modern life, from a standpoint that surprisingly combines what remain extremely progressive ideas today with claims that now seem quite outdated but were daring within their own context. 39 This section is not included in the English edition of The Physiology of Love that we have adopted and revised for our volume.



One of the innovative underlying ideas in the volume, for instance, is what could be called the excessive and not simply utilitarian quality of love. Mantegazza claims that, unlike other biological phenomena, in which nature acts according to the principles of economy, simplicity, and usefulness, the impulse of love at the root of the reproductive process renders the notions of both the true and the good inadequate. In all organisms from the simplest to human beings, a ‘profusion of aesthetic elements’ (p. 96) accompanies attraction and generation. The beautiful, which emerges as the principle of love, is hence presented as a form of unconditional, sumptuous expenditure beyond economic restraint: nature squanders all its resources with ‘the most pompous luxury’ (p. 96) to celebrate love and life. The sublime lavishness of these treasures in the intensity of a moment is what brings together the fertilization of a flower and the effusions of a man and a woman. This idea of love and beauty as physical and emotional squandering, a leitmotif in Mantegazza,40 can be interpreted as an attack against the obsession with functionality typical not only of a bourgeois mentality but also of the positivistic framework that was gaining ground in the scientific milieu, upholding the real, the useful, and the certain. At the same time, this anticonformist and intriguing position, which invites us to see in Mantegazza an intellectual able to project himself beyond the culture of productivity and possession by endorsing a sort of aestheticizing ethics of purposelessness, goes hand in hand with quite dated reflections that consolidate typically bourgeois clichés on gender differences. Not only our twenty-first-century sensibility and experiences

40 This is already evident, as we have seen, in the essay on coca, with its notion of an accelerated life made up of sensations consumed for their own sake, but it returns with more or less intensity at different stages of Mantegazza’s intellectual production, as we can gather from the notes of his academic lectures, Lezioni di antropologia. For a more exhaustive elaboration of this aspect within the larger framework of late nineteenthcentury European anthropology and literature, see Nicoletta Pireddu, ‘Ethnos/ Hedone/Ethos: Paolo Mantegazza, antropologo delle passioni,’ in Pireddu, Antropologi alla corte della bellezza: decadenza ed economia simbolica nell’Europa fin de siècle (Verona: Fiorini, 2002), pp. 131–84.

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but also the nascent feminism of Mantegazza’s years41 might have something to say about the rigorous division between an aggressive male who ‘seeks, conquers, retains the prey’ (p. 98) and a passive female who waits for him like a seed waiting to be impregnated yet without fail flaunting the numerous disguises that enable the coquettish feminine world to conceal a yes under a no. Mantegazza summarizes the dynamics of seduction as nothing less than ‘the first dogma that governs the religion of love in the entire animate world’ (p. 99). Yet if the childlike and idyllic rhetoric with which he describes the courting of two butterflies reproduces the gendered stock-behaviors of human beings, in defence of Mantegazza it should be added that, in content and form, his clear-cut division between male and female roles, whether it makes us laugh or enrages us in its naivety and anachronism, does present the tug of war between reticence and provocation as the basic strategy for keeping desire and attraction alive – a topic with which Mantegazza breaks the silence of a cultural taboo. 41 During the Italian Risorgimento and in the early life of the Kingdom of Italy, the debate on the status and the rights of women remained a male prerogative and essentially reinstated female subjection. However, several initiatives in favour of women’s political and social advancement began to develop in Italy, among which were Anna Maria Mozzoni’s 1879 league for the promotion of women’s interests, the National Association for Women (Rome, 1897), and the National Female Union (Milan, 1899). When examined in the larger context of the debates on feminism in Italy and abroad, Mantegazza’s overall position on the condition of women seems to occupy a middle ground. He is certainly not as biased as Giuseppe Sergi, who, in his ‘Il movimento femminista,’ written more than ten years after Mantegazza’s The Physiology of Love, continued to reject the possibility of women’s emancipation, considering feminism ‘the rebellion of women not so much against the man who subjected them as against the nature that created them as women.’ See Giuseppe Sergi, ‘Il movimento femminista,’ in Rivista politica e letteraria (April 1898. Rome: Stabilimento Tipografico della Tribuna, 1898), p. 3. On the other hand, Mantegazza’s perspective continued to generate dissent abroad also, as evident, for instance, in the reactions to a series of articles on women and feminism that he published in the British periodical The Humanitarian between 1899 and 1900, based on excerpts from The Physiology of Love and Fisiologia della donna. As we read in the reply of one of his women readers, although Mantegazza shows awareness of the restrictions that have been imposed on women’s education and seems sensitive to the need for women’s emancipation (at least in the future), his comparison between male and female intellectual capacity is unreasonable because it does not take into consideration the ‘numbing effect’ of women’s constant submission to men on women’s mental status. See Margaret Sackville, ‘Mantegazza’s View of Woman: A Reply,’ The Humanitarian 16 (1900): 88–9.



And it is always as a Janus-like figure, at once conservative and progressive, that Mantegazza expands on the non-negotiable, essentialized distinctions between the male and the female natures, in his psychological and social observations. He constructs a ‘more modest, more reserved’ (p. 119) woman, who, in her discovery of passion, is in greater need of love and yet ignores its nature, and a man with more sordid resources, who often knows voluptuousness before love. A woman who must be more beautiful than man, since man loves her looks more than anything else. A woman who, being the embodiment of beauty, can manage without a good-looking companion and certainly finds satisfactory compensation in man’s ingenuity and social status, and a man who needs female beauty as an ever present catalyst for his own desire, which requires constant renewal. Finally, a man who embodies strength and will power, and a woman who incarnates patience and sacrifice. Through the ideology of sacrifice, another recurring theme in Mantegazza’s works, The Physiology of Love renders woman simultaneously inferior and superior to man, yet in both characters she remains a creation of and appendix to the male world. She is ‘the priestess of the ideal’ (p. 179) because society denies her the opportunity for action. Her style in expressions of love is superior to man’s because of the different options offered to the two sexes: whereas man has numerous venues for his creative energies, ‘poor woman’ has only love letters. Probably inspired by actual reality, these generalizations could be the starting point for a radical critique of the very social and cultural context that produces and perpetuates such inequities. Yet Mantegazza does not question the conventions. Rather, he seems to decree female inferiority even more drastically where he claims that, since it is always the stronger mind that exerts the greater charm, woman takes ideas from man, who is more resourceful. For a woman, who is important only because she is a reward for a man’s good conduct, the highest available step on the ladder of intellectual and social progress is that of a spiritual guide like Dante’s Beatrice, whom Mantegazza transfigures into a veritable icon, a prototype of modesty and self-abnegation for the benefit of her male counterpart. Woman’s weakness turns into strength and even omnipotence only if she is desired by man, and thus, once again, she is at the mercy of the other sex’s emotional and rational choices. Mantegazza tries to re-establish a sort of equilibrium between the two sexes by

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justifying female mental frailty in relation to virile thinking as a sign of greater predisposition toward love, so much so that, if man ‘is ever right in the eyes of the woman who loves him,’ that is because ‘in the psychical evolution of the two sexes woman excels us in aesthetic sentiment as we surpass her in intellectual development’ (p. 214) – a division of labour that probably does not make everybody happy. Yet Mantegazza gives himself up to far bolder pronouncements, like those in chapter 6, on the issue of virginity, where his blatantly sexist position is conveyed in a lofty language that translates strong emotional transports on the part of the author. An unbridled literariness runs through anatomical details about the experience of first love, in passionate remarks (and even an apologue that retells the same content in a fictional mode) on ‘the apotheosis of delirium and the shuddering of the flesh’ promoted by the deep mystery of the virgin, who nourishes not only man’s feelings of love and pride but also his sense of ‘ownership’ (p. 150). Indeed, that ‘very fragile veil’ that for Mantegazza guarantees the difference between an angel and simply a ‘human female’ (p. 151) is also that which fuels Mantegazza’s spirit of exploration and of absolute conquest, on the basis of the stereotypical equivalence between an uncontaminated territory and an untouched woman – which equivalence well symbolizes man’s opportunity to exercise his unconditional power and the simultaneous feminine sense of sacrifice raised to the nth power. It is not surprising, therefore, that, among the senses instrumental to love, sight is for Mantegazza the privileged vehicle for the kindling of desire precisely because, as the first harbinger of love, it accompanies man in that ‘delicious excursion’ corresponding to the contemplation of the cherished creature without leading directly to the ‘delirium of possession’ (p. 192). In other words, unlike touch, sight never exhausts the discovery and exploration of the ‘unknown region’ (p. 193) by definitely removing the veils that cover the beautiful. Co-opted by this mechanism, the woman, in order to be loved, has the task of keeping her partner’s desire always alive by privileging chastity over an immediate satisfaction that would lead to the ‘nausea of satiety’ (p. 218). If in these observations The Physiology of Love explains with surprising clarity and detail the physical and psychological dynamics of the insatiability of desire, it also accomplishes a gradual reification of the woman, which culminates in chapter 12, on jealousy, defined by Mantegazza as



‘the injury done our property in love’ (p. 201). Here, man’s loved creature is referred to as ‘the dearest thing to us’ (p. 201), a thing that, if touched by anyone else, justifies man’s hate against his offender. And it is precisely within this objectifying framework that many of the apparent praises of the human qualities of the fair sex with which the author seemingly overturns his masculine perspective in fact reinforce his paternalism. The glorification of woman, who is the ‘receptacle of life’ (p. 222)42 and who, unlike man who demands love for himself, is shaped by her vocation of love for her husband and offspring, is not simply a homage to female unconditional generosity. In the end, it confines the very essence and function of womanhood to self-effacement through giving. It is the woman’s task not only to be loyal to man but also to render ‘monogamous, faithful, constantly tender, and modestly virile’ (p. 280) him who is by nature polygamous, unreliable, and licentious. Ironically, the woman thus has the duty to safeguard that very dynamics of conquest of which she herself is the object. And if doubts still existed about the different rights, responsibilities, and ways of loving between the descendants of Adam and of Eve, the tables of Mantegazza’s essay in ‘comparative psychology’ in chapter 15 confirm the complementary nature of the two sexes on the basis of purportedly unquestionable physiological assumptions that, if inverted, as Mantegazza highlights, would lead only to caricatures and monstrosities. One may begin to wonder where the dividing line is in Mantegazza’s discourse between description and prescription. It is on the foundation of scientific evidence that Mantegazza builds his claims about men’s and women’s physical characteristics and social practices, as well exemplified by the ‘constitutional’ forms of love in chapter 17. Yet it is often even too easy to perceive that the apparently factual and neutral authorial pronouncements are also there to reflect and consolidate Mantegazza’s own tastes and expectations with regard to the other sex. This is quite evident, for instance, in chapter 15, where, having extolled woman as ‘the true and great priestess of love’ (p. 226), Mantegazza mentions her confinement to a socially subaltern position, her lack of adequate intellectual

42 Mantegazza’s Italian expression here is ‘placenta della vita,’ which highlights even more clearly the physical determinism that turns the woman’s anatomy into her destiny as a mother. See Fisiologia dell’amore, p. 211.

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opportunities, and her passivity in matters of love, yet does so, ultimately, only to present this as the status quo, with no concrete suggestions for change, apart from his rather demagogical and vague concluding hope for equal rights in love and in family life. It is thus a clearly masculine voice that resonates in the collective ‘we’ adopted by the author throughout the book – not an all-inclusive pronoun, but the sign of a restricted male community in relation to which woman appears as the ‘other,’ an object of representation rather than an interlocutor. And this prescriptive, patriarchal perspective sometimes borders on the grotesque, as in the messianic rhetoric Mantegazza adopts for the sermon on modest voluptuousness in chapter 7 and on chastity in chapter 14, where his ‘verily I tell you’ and ‘blessed those who’ assimilate him to the Christ of the Gospel (passages that suit to perfection Croce’s attacks against the priestly tones of Mantegazza the alleged sexologist).43 To be sure, if The Physiology of Love contained only the kinds of assertions we have examined so far, it would probably retain the simply documentary value of an intriguing yet dated work reflecting the surpassed mindset of a bygone intellectual period. Mantegazza’s text, however, offers insights that are not only critical of the mentality of his time but also relevant to the sensitibility of ours. For instance, he differentiates between real decency and mere hypocrisy, and questions the notion that jealousy automatically indicate’s intensity of love. Likewise, he contests society’s tendency to see virginity or the lack thereof as an indicator of female morality and virtue, and is equally critical of the moral, religious, and financial concerns that thwart the spontaneous love between young people. Opposing what for him is a ‘vile and turbid compromise of conscience’ (p. 233) separating physical and moral love, Mantegazza invites young people to live the richness of their experience fully and without compromises, his invitation once again in line with that ethics of expenditure of sensations for their own sake that recurs in his works.

43 Indeed, if not always messianic, Mantegazza’s tone is quite often self-celebratory. However democratic Mantegazza’s impulse to reach out to the entire Italian population, he often adopts a superior and self-reflexive attitude that diminishes his ability to instruct the masses. For instance, in The Physiology of Love he repeatedly states that the populace will be unable to grasp the gist of his disquisitions. His attitude as an educator seems elitist and almost Nietzschean.



Indeed, the tension between individual natures and desires, on the one hand, and institutionalized social practices, on the other, is a crucial point in Mantegazza’s vision, and in The Physiology of Love it leads to quite progressive discussions of the contrast between love and marriage, of the necessary remedy of divorce, and of the veritable ‘martyrdom’ of prostitution, which women often undergo not simply because of ignorance but also because of perverse moral and legal norms. Questioning the facile equation of matrimony with the romanticism of eternal love, The Physiology of Love denounces the degradation of marriage to a consolidation of capital or a reproductive mechanism that thwarts women’s free choice and often leads them to unfaithfulness born of despair. Indeed, Mantegazza outspokenly lays bare what for him is the institutionalization of adultery in his own society and ascribes to man’s insensitivity and deception its main causes. He seems aware, therefore, of the social consequences of those asymmetrical relations between the sexes that, ironically, he himself helps to perpetuate with his patriarchal clichés. As he eloquently states in chapter 22, women cannot become really conscious of their choices if they do not receive ‘a free and wise education’ (p. 292).44 Only if the choice of a prospective husband is made without influence and without prejudice is there a promise, if not a guarantee, of reciprocal faithfulness in a marriage. On the one hand, therefore, while Mantegazza makes utopian forecasts about the evolution of marriage in a future governed by freedom instead of jealousy (in one of his last aphorisms he even predicts that women will have ‘the sweet possibility of living single and happy’),45 on the other hand he tackles from a more concrete political and social point of view a present for which he supports the institution of divorce

44 We can infer that this education must be, among other things, sexual, as Mantegazza confirms in Igiene del nido, for instance. 45 These claims anticipate the perspective of Fisiologia della donna, where Mantegazza foresees a ‘woman of the future’ who, though not ‘the same as man’ (because she will not lose but rather reinforce her femininity – this feature, of course, is one that Mantegazza is not ready to relinquish in the ‘daughers of Eve’), will enjoy economic independence thanks to a professional education allowing her to become a literary writer, a physician, or a pharmacist. See Paolo Mantegazza, Fisiologia della donna, vol. 2 (Milan: Treves, 1893), pp. 322–3.

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precisely as a recognition of the dignity of marriage and of the individual. In a nation such as Italy, where divorce would be legally authorized only in 1974, Mantegazza’s position in favour of the insertion of divorce in the laws of his government was certainly daring. Dismissing the value of mere theoretical assumptions of conjugal indissolubility, The Physiology of Love supports the need for freedom, and presents divorce as a safety valve, one that in no way weakens solid unions. He goes so far as to associate the morality of a society with the inclusion of the option of divorce in its legislation precisely on the ground of the need to face concrete family ordeals with ‘wise pity’ (p. 296). With justifications that may sound particularly timely even today, Mantegazza maintains that the understandable sorrow over of a family’s dismemberment should not ignore the children’s suffering caused by the unbearable daily spectacle of their parents’ reciprocal hate – in his view a no less horrendous profanity of the sacredness of the family than an actual divorce. No less explicit and, as a whole, advanced is Mantegazza’s position on the problem of prostitution, which he tackles more as a physician and sanitarian than as a moralist in this text, and from an anthropological perspective in subsequent volumes such as Gli amori degli uomini. Mantegazza is a firm supporter of the regulation of prostitution, a position in line with the measures adopted by Prime Minister Cavour in 1860, at the time of Italy’s unification: registration of prostitutes at police stations, regular medical check-ups, and hospitalization in specialized centres for treatment of sexually transmitted diseases. During his political militancy as a deputy in the Italian Parliament from 1865 to 1877, and afterwards as a senator of the Kingdom, Mantegazza also urged the allocation of money to such hospitals.46 In The Physiology of Love, for Mantegazza prostitution is a great but necessary shame, born of the separation of love from voluptuousness. Taking issue with those who invoke its suppression on moral or religious grounds without addressing the reasons behind its existence, Mantegazza acknowledges the social inevitability of this phenomenon (a generalized trend in civilized societies, as he highlights) despite its degrading aspect, and recommends approaching the 46 See Monica Boni, L’erotico senatore. Vita e studi di Paolo Mantegazza (Genova: Name, 2002), pp. 67–70.



problem with tolerance and concrete understanding instead of either ignoring it or condemning it in the abstract and with horror. Opposing what for him is an inquisitor’s morality, and aiming at a more realistic standpoint, Mantegazza maintains that brothels are not so much the cause as the consequence of prostitution, and that it is not by suppressing them that society can put an end to the problem of ‘the simony of love’(p. 267). As long as the social organism is sick, prostitution has a kind of therapeutic effect, and it is only when society has fully recovered that brothels can be closed. Far from treating prostitution as a private and even non-discussable matter in each individual’s life, Mantegazza wants to draw attention to its public implications by framing it as a political and cultural question. Government and intellectuals alike should educate the Italian people to correct conduct by detaching love from supposed sin, and by presenting it as a pure and spontaneous experience able to discourage more perverse and degrading sexual practices. Mantegazza recognizes, however, that in the actual situation of his time the phenomenon of prostitution is to be accepted and pitied, until modern civilization implements a morality of sincerity and humaneness and provides everyone with material conditions adequate for a balanced family life. All this, however, is accompanied by the discordant note of yet another contradiction: the need, among the remedies to prostitution, for chastity as an alternative to the inability to integrate love and sexual drive. It is unquestionable that, despite his extended criticism of the economic and productive bourgeois system it represents, the ideological core of Mantegazza’s physiological and psychological inquiry into love and sexual matters remains the typical monogamic family.47 It is enough to skim through his writings to realize that Mantegazza is not very lenient with practices that exceed the limits of what is acceptable to his own sensibility (which is quite inclusive for his time). Even without attempting to draw rigorous boundaries ‘between love’s physiology and

47 For a discussion of Mantegazza’s attitude with regard to the role of marriage in the bourgeois system of procreation, work, and productivity, see Misano, ‘Paolo Mantegazza,’ pp. 321–4.

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its pathology,’48 in his essay ‘The Perversions of Love’ he recognizes the existence of what for him are ‘very well known forms of sensual aberration,’49 from the moral and physical ‘abjectness’ of ‘solitary lust’ to ‘Lesbian love’ and ‘love between males,’ nothing less than ‘one of the most terrifying facts to be met with in human psychology.’50 But despite the mixture of embarrassment and compassion with which he introduces those subjects, Mantegazza seems at least to rationalize their existence in an attempt to understand them: ‘It is our duty to study these as rapidly and delicately as possible, touching them as lightly as we should a painful open wound.’51 To appreciate the original elements of Mantegazza’s perspective and his sparks of open-mindedness and unconventionality, one can bring into the picture the other great figure of late nineteenth-century Italian science, Cesare Lombroso, who, in such works as L’uomo delinquente (1879) (Criminal Man) and La donna delinquente, la prostituta e la donna normale (1893) (Criminal Woman, the Prostitute, and the Normal Woman), also tackles sexological issues. Mantegazza and Lombroso shared many of the principles of the positivist school, and crossed paths frequently during their careers. Both were self-proclaimed apostles of the experimental method and of scientific truth; both endorsed Darwinian evolutionary theories; both juggled with an amazing disciplinary potpourri of medicine, anthropology, psychology, physiognomy, phrenology, hygiene, eugenics, aesthetics and morality; and both were derided by early twentieth-century 48 Paolo Mantegazza, ‘The Perversions of Love,’ in Homosexuality: A Cross Cultural Approach, ed. Donald Webster Cory (New York: Julian, 1956), p. 248. 49 Ibid., p. 249. 50 Ibid., p. 255. 51 Ibid., p. 249. Indeed, with a sense of shock and alarm he discovers that sodomy is not confined to the most degraded social layers but is also practised by wealthy, educated, and refined individuals whom he has encountered: ‘a French journalist, a German poet, an Italian politician, and a Spanish juriconsult, all men of exquisite taste and the highest culture!’ (ibid., p. 259). But Mantegazza at least makes an attempt to sympathize with some aspects of what he sees as this puzzling reality: ‘Psychic sodomy is not a vice but a passion. A blame-worthy one, if you like, unclean and revolting, but a passion none the less. A number of sodomists have written me letters over which I have wept, telling me of their ardent loves and jealousy’ (p. 261). And even with all his shortcomings, it is Mantegazza who introduces homosexuality as a subject of scientific inquiry in the debates of his time.



avant-garde culture.52 Nonetheless, they started from a common cultural ground to develop remarkably different approaches and maintained a highly conflictual professional relationship. Their initial collaboration and friendship – Lombroso published his first articles in the periodical Igea, edited by Mantegazza – suddenly turned into fierce rivalry in 1868, when both scientists began to conduct research on human sensitivity to pain, and further differences emerged in their interpretations of the nature of genius. Behind the demolition of his competitor’s findings, Mantegazza probably concealed an attempt to protect himself from what he perceived as a clear intellectual challenge, although at the time of their divergence Lombroso was still professionally somewhat unsettled and far from enjoying the same popularity as our author.53 If Mantegazza was certainly not a unanimously acclaimed figure despite his being a star of post-unification Italian culture, Lombroso, for his part, would attract mockery and fierce criticism for a long time before gaining a reputation as a psychiatrist and ultimately attaining worldwide success with his L’uomo delinquente. That is because, within the positivism that informs both scientists’ inquiries, a fascination with the abnormal, the horrid, and the degenerate led Lombroso to an extreme position, namely, to the investigation of the world of deviance, of which prisons and insane asylums were the most representative sites (the very sites that would soon appeal to the gothic and decadent taste of the Italy of the fin de siècle). In this respect, Mantegazza can be considered somewhat antiLombrosian, unlike his rival not ready to make his physiological approach encroach upon the pathological mechanisms of insanity and criminality. For the Lombrosian psychiatric and criminological school, knowledge was in the service of a categorization of individuals that regarded physical, mental, and behavioural anomalies as signs of a depravity to be treated. Lombroso’s anthropology of the subject, in other words, was founded 52 In 1928, for instance, Ardengo Soffici mercilessly attacked both scientists as eminent representatives of the crass stupidity of late nineteenth-century culture. See Soffici, ‘Firenze,’ p. 15. 53 For an amusing and informative account of Lombroso’s personal and professional life in the context of late nineteenth-century Italian scientific culture, see Luigi Guarnieri, L’atlante criminale: vita scriteriata di Cesare Lombroso (Milan: Mondadori, 2000).

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upon a one-to-one deterministic correspondence between degenerative traits and moral physiognomy that ultimately led from pathologization to normalization. For his part, while not immune to deterministic generalizations, Mantegazza recodified the relationship between universal taxonomies and individual sensations. Whereas he classified pleasures for the sake of scientific knowledge, he also undertook a cognitive quest for the sake of pleasure as an expression of freedom and creativity, a quest that, rather than standardizing, correcting or punishing anomalies without appeal, left space for the ideal, for singularity, and for the exception. As he claims in the last aphorism of The Physiology of Love, ‘No matter how science advances, love will always remain an art’ (p. 316). The Pleasures of Narrative, More Narratives of Pleasure: The Novelist, the Traveller, the Cultural Critic The author of The Physiology of Love had already put himself to the test as a writer of fiction and transposed many of his convictions and contradictions to his literary works. In 1868 he had published One Day in Madeira: A Page in the Hygiene of Love, a novel that brings together physiology, love, and hygiene. It narrates the grim and sorrowful story of Emma and William, whose romance is sacrificed on the altar of health concerns, Emma being infected with tuberculosis. The union of love and disease, a still rather unusual literary topic, quickly captivated the morbid curiosity of readers. Written almost entirely in one month and printed at the author’s expense in 1,500 copies, the book was sold out in less than three months, and the first printing was followed by more than twenty republications and six translations into various languages during Mantegazza’s life alone.54 In his preface to the first edition, Mantegazza reiterates the continuity between his political responsibility as a deputy and senator and his duty as a writer of fiction by highlighting his unflinching hygienic mission: a better Italy for him means a nation made not merely of more honest but

54 Ehrenfreund, Bibliografia, pp. 43–4.



also of stronger and healthier individuals.55 And the two main problems on which Mantegazza intends to raise awareness in the domain of public health are the dangers inherent in marriages between blood relations – to which he devoted the monographic study Studj sui matrimonj consanguinei – and those inherent in marriages involving sick people – whose predicament he tackled both in popular handbooks such as Elementi di igiene and Igiene dell’amore and in his novel One Day in Madeira. Mantegazza defines his novel as ‘a useful and moral book’56 on the strength of its contribution to raising awareness on a matter of health. In the nineteenth century, tuberculosis was considered the most important threat to public health. Mantegazza’s One Day in Madeira highlighted the serious consequences of the illness for sexual relationships at a moment when – Robert Koch not yet having identified the bacterium responsible for its transmission – most physicians did not believe in its infectious nature.57 The setting in Madeira, in Mantegazza’s novel, is not accidental. As Mantegazza himself explains in one of the appendices to the novel’s first edition, thanks to its temperate climate the Portuguese island was a very popular destination among people suffering from tuberculosis, some of whom, after settling there, managed to improve or even recover completely. Emma, the female protagonist in the novel, leaves England for the Portuguese island in search of such a benefit; there she spends one day in the company of her beloved William, who has reached her by ship. The epistolary form of One Day in Madeira reinforces the dramatic authenticity of the story by allowing readers to participate directly in the protagonists’ private exchanges. Yet the episodes are also introduced by a first-person narrator (by means of which device, and without too much artifice, Mantegazza introduces himself, in keeping with his egocentric tendency always to place himself under the narrative spotlight) who claims to have met William during a sea voyage to the Americas, and to have been told by him the story of his and Emma’s unhappy love.

55 Paolo Mantegazza, ‘Due parole ai miei elettori di Monza,’ in Un giorno a Madera. Una pagina dell’igiene d’amore (Milan: Brigola, 1868), p. x. 56 Ibid. 57 See Walter Pasini, Paolo Mantegazza, ovvero L’elogio dell’eclettismo (Rimini: Panozzo, 1999), p. 230.

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The narrator will ultimately become the depository of all the letters written by the two unlucky lovers to each other, when William, shattered by Emma’s tragic death, disappears without a trace. Readers are thereby acquainted with the most touching details of the lovers’ heart-rending romance. Emma, the last survivor of a family ravaged by tuberculosis, despite her deep love for William has sworn to her father that she will never marry so as to avoid transmitting her illness to an innocent generation. The intense epistolary exchange between the lovers records the young woman’s lacerating conflict between reason and moral commitment on the one hand and her powerful feelings on the other. Emma’s and William’s liaison remains desperate and unfulfilled owing to the choice of the woman, who, despite consultations with various renowned English physicians, is unable to find a cure and so be relieved of the oath made to her father. Her last hope for recovery, entrusted to the mild climate of Madeira, will also fail. The novel is imbued with romantic elements, from the physical idealization of the two protagonists to the almost sublime natural settings that act as backgrounds for the highly sentimental vicissitudes of the lovers’ story. Significantly, however, Mantegazza places the novel’s hyperbolic lyrical situations within a positivistic scientific framework, making the dramatic and pathetic elements serve his specific medical and pedagogical agenda, namely, to persuade his audience of the importance of complying with his own hygienic recommendations. The message of the novel, therefore, is that the pursuit of happiness should not be dictated by the subjective reasons of the heart but by objective physiological rules substantiated by rationality and scientific truth. This tough law of the true, which must prevail as much upon prejudice as upon individuals’ personal passions and intellectual needs, is also eloquently promulgated in Studj sui matrimonj consanguinei, where Mantegazza reminds his readers of the central role of that ‘mysterious crucible in which fathers melt the blood on which their offspring will live,’ so much so that ‘under the bark of our skin we weld together … all the good and the bad of previous generations.’58 Yet in One Day in Madeira he also reinforces his warning

58 Paolo Mantegazza, Studj sui matrimoni consanguinei (Milan: Brigola, 1868), p. 1. English translation mine.



against unhealthy love choices in the novel’s appendices, where accurate geographical, meteorological, and demographic information about the Portuguese island makes Emma’s and William’s story more verisimilar and its message more incisive. Critics at various times have attacked Mantegazza’s literary dilettantism and the blatantly ideological nature of this novel.59 To be sure, the value of One Day in Madeira is not purely aesthetic but documentary: it effectively shows a synthesis of ideas and a cross-fertilization of disciplines that reflect the transitional nature of Mantegazza’s cultural context, with its tensions between different ethical and cognitive standpoints. With an intriguing mixture of openness and intolerance, the sanitarian who wants to comply with his civic duty by facing the problem of hereditary diseases upholds an ethics of sacrifice and a model of female submission to duty and virtue against the prospect of that individual freedom and happiness in matters of the heart often acclaimed in The Physiology of Love and in numerous other texts. Of the two opposing faces of this intellectual, who embodies and simultaneously criticizes the speculative and utilitarian bourgeois mentality, it is certainly the champion of middle-class material productivity and physical efficiency who emerges here, his position further supported by the exemplary Englishness of Emma and William, who are veritable models of emotional selfdiscipline for the sake of a better society. Yet its apparent conceptual inconsistencies and stylistic flaws do not seem to have diminished in any way the triumphant success of the novel at the time of its first publication. Benedetto Croce remarked that One Day in Madeira was ‘a puerile yet edifying text,’ ‘a novel that was not a novel and that, however, was read with emotion and tears.’60 It is enough to read a review of Mantegazza’s novel written soon after its release to understand the widespread appreciation of this work despite recognition of the excessively rigorous demands made of the two protagonists in the 59 For instance, Russo argues that One Day in Madeira clearly shows its author’s co-optation of literature as a vehicle for the diffusion of a well-defined thesis, whereas Portinari emphasizes its stylistic excesses. See Luigi Russo, I narratori (1850–1950) (Milan: Principato, 1951), p. 130; and Folco Portinari, ‘Amore e igiene nello scenario esotico delle isole tropicali,’ in Portinari, Le parabole del reale (Torino: Einaudi, 1976), pp. 129–35. 60 Croce, ‘Scienziati-letterati,’ p. 55. English translation mine.

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name of the enhancement of the human species: ‘The liveliness and the colour of the descriptions, the warmth of feeling that glows incessantly on every page, the burning and gentle love so suavely depicted’61 keep the reader’s mind tied to the volume until its end. Indeed, if One Day in Madeira is a symbol of its cultural era, it is so for yet another reason: Mantegazza’s effective descriptions of remote places respond to the growing appeal of exotic settings that would soon culminate in the veritable literary and cultural fashion of exoticism in the fin de siècle. But the motif and the rhetoric of the edenic elsewhere are not simply literary topoi tinging this novel with the strong hues of a decadent sensualism. They also play a crucial role in helping to develop a new kind of relationship between the Western world and geographical otherness, namely, the relationship promoted by travel in connection with the nascent discipline of anthropology. And it is all the more intriguing to notice that the stylemes we find in this novel also characterize the travel narratives composed by the author when he donned the garb of the anthropologist. While obviously not a new activity, travel acquired new meaning in a recently unified Italy. Travel results not simply from a desire to become acquainted with other civilizations but also from a need to confront cultural otherness in order to assert one’s own ethnic and national identity. The nineteenth-century Italian traveller, by now a professional figure, can be seen as embodying and exporting the image of youth, energy, courage, and progress said to underlie the very political operation that led to the construction of the Italian nation. And, after his spatial dislocation in remote lands and different populations, the returning traveller was offered the opportunity to narrate not only the story of the other worlds to which he had been exposed but also the story of his Italian success and of the international visibility and power of his own world.62 61 Adele Lessona, ‘Notizia letteraria. Un giorno a Madera. Una pagina dell’igiene d’amore di Paolo Mantegazza,’ Nuova antologia di scienze, lettere ed arti 10 (February 1869): 396. English translation mine. 62 For a more exhaustive treatment of the role of scientific travel in the formation of Italian identity, see Sandra Puccini, Andare lontano. Viaggi ed etnografia nel secondo Ottocento (Rome: Carocci, 1999).



During the last three decades of the nineteenth century, Italian naturalists, geographers, botanists, and philologists participated in numerous scientific expeditions to still unexplored lands of South America and the Far East. Between 1865 and 1868, the Magenta, an Italian warship turned into a research ship, sailed around the world on a three-year voyage sponsored by the Italian Royal Navy combining scientific, commercial, and political purposes, with the naturalist Filippo De Filippi and the ethno-anthropologist and zoologist Enrico Hillyer Giglioli on board. The monumental account of Giglioli’s adventure would be published in 1875 as Viaggio intorno al globo della R. pirocorvetta italiana Magenta, with an introduction by Mantegazza, ‘L’ uomo e gli uomini,’ which effectively synthesizes Mantegazza’s ‘profession of ethnological faith’63 against what for him were the fanaticism and dogmatism affecting the study of human classification. On the crucial dilemma concerning the unity or the multiplicity of human species, Mantegazza offers a perspective that, while preserving the possibility of human brotherhood, upholds the mutability of species and overcomes the confining notion of race as the unique expression of the history and nature of the individual. The need to reconcile sameness and difference is precisely what characterizes Mantegazza’s overall anthropological vision. Anthropology for Mantegazza is the ‘natural history of man’64 – a man to be studied with the same ‘experimental criterion’ adopted for ‘plants, animals and stones’ – yet it does not seek to obliterate any expression of human diversity and ideality. ‘Infinite tolerance’ and an ‘eclectic orientation’ are thus the hallmarks of Mantegazza’s contribution to this new science, which, by definition, can have no cultural or geographical boundaries: ‘wherever there are human beings, there is our homeland and the field of our studies.’65 And, not surprisingly, the restless Mantegazza was no armchair anthropologist. It was travel itself that, by taking this adventurous spirit 63 Paolo Mantegazza, ‘L’uomo e gli uomini,’ introduction in Enrico H. Giglioli, Viaggio intorno al globo della R. pirocorvetta italiana Magenta (Milan: Maisner, 1875), p. xvi. 64 Paolo Mantegazza, ‘Trent’anni di storia della Società Italiana di Antropologia, Etnologia e Psicologia Comparata,’ Archivio per l’antropologia e l’etnologia 31 (1901); In memoria del XXXo anno della Società Italiana d’Antropologia (Florence: Salvatore Landi, 1901), p. 4. 65 Mantegazza, ‘L’uomo e gli uomini,’ p. 50.

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to distant territories, by bringing him into contact with different ethnicities and traditions, enabled him to discover his vocation for the science of mankind. As he observes in the account of his first intercontinental journey, Rio de la Plata e Tenerife (1867), travel descriptions appeal to both heart and mind, in that they satisfy the heart’s desire to become acquainted with and love other human beings who live, die, suffer, and hope under other skies, and at the same time satisfy the mind’s intense need to move and change its horizons and ideas.66 Allegiance to what Mantegazza presents as the scrupulous respect for truth expected of an honest traveller is supposed to lead to a systematic, natural investigation into ethnicities with a view to a moral classification of human beings. But Mantegazza’s travel narratives are eclecticism made flesh – as much fascinating depictions of cultural otherness as colourful representations of the author’s own personality, which bring to the foreground his pleasure in story-telling. The hybrid nature of his simultaneously scientific and novelistic accounts, from which Mantegazza himself emerges as the incontestable protagonist (still very far from the participant-observer soon to be advocated by early twentieth-century anthropology), can be perceived in his two subsequent travelogues, A Voyage to Lapland with My Friend Stephen Sommier (1881) and India (1884). In the summer of 1879, Mantegazza travelled to Scandinavia together with the botanist and ethnologist Stephen Sommier to study the people and the geography of that ultimate frontier of the polar land – Lapland – which at the time was still relatively unknown to European scholars outside Sweden and Norway.67 With the intention of providing an

66 Paolo Mantegazza, Rio de la Plata e Tenerife. Viaggi e studj (San Vito: Brigola, 1876), p. 14. 67 Before Umberto Nobile’s 1926 flight over the North Pole in his airship Norge, Italian expeditions to the Arctic region were rare. Lapland had been depicted since the Middle Ages as the borderland between civilization and savagery, and, on the basis of their physical features, the Lapps had been likened to African Pygmies. This vision persisted in the accounts of the few subsequent Italian explorations, from the seventeenth-century sojourn of the Catholic priest Francesco Negri to Giuseppe Acerbi’s much acclaimed 1798 journey to the Sami region, although the myth of the good savage partly redeemed the image of primitive man as a wild beast. With Mantegazza’s and Sommier’s enterprise a scientific rationale begins to prevail (at least officially) over the sightseer’s curiosity. Mantegazza’s accounts, however, are not immune to a primitivism à la



exhaustive anthropological account of the Lapps before their extinction, Mantegazza undertook the first important scientific expedition of the Florentine school of anthropology and introduced the use of photography into his field research. The result of his journey would be two volumes, the more scientific and detailed Studi antropologici sui Lapponi, containing the actual pictures in support of his anthropometric studies,68 and the travelogue A Voyage to Lapland, recording a wider range of anthropological information on the Lapps but also (or above all) his personal impressions and experiences, which end up merging real cultural sites with the ideal spaces of the writer’s own emotions and desires. In the travelogue, for instance, as though trying to satisfy the readers’ taste for extreme and dangerous situations but also in order to highlight his own heroism, Mantegazza plays with the conventions of travel literature. He dramatically emphasizes the challenges he faces in the course of his adventures and the nostalgia he feels for the reassuring cosiness of his homeland immediately before his first encounter with a Lapp. But alongside the novelistic clichés, A Voyage to Lapland reveals its author’s remarkable ability to represent social situations and to convey thoughts and feelings. The many colourful images and the lengthy descriptions of the places visited should not be dismissed as digressions but rather appreciated as pieces with a purpose of their own, that of giving voice to Mantegazza’s own pleasure in story-telling. Through the filter of his eclectic gaze, we gather important geographical and social

Rousseau: as we will see, primitivism leads him to ascribe virtues to the Lapps that the rest of Europe has irremediably lost, while paradoxically he continues to endorse the negative clichés entrenched by previous explorers. Without overlooking the current resistance of many Samis to the term ‘Lapp,’ now considered derogatory, we have remained consistent with Mantegazza’s choice of term in order to avoid confusion. 68 The scattered references to the use of photography in Mantegazza’s travel narrative therefore have an important cultural and scientific value, well beyond the provision of touristic details. For an examination of Mantegazza’s pioneering use of photography, see Cosimo Chiarelli, ‘Mantegazza e la fotografia: una antologia di immagini,’ in Chiarelli and Pasini, Paolo Mantegazza: medico, antropologo, viaggiatore, pp. 91–113; and Cosimo Chiarelli and Susanna Weber, eds, Etnie. La Scuola Antropologica fiorentina e la fotografia tra ‘800 e ‘900 (Florence: Alinari, 1996).

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details about nineteenth-century Scandinavia as well as about the sensibility of its Italian visitor, who often takes on the role and adopts the tone of a journalist engaged in intercultural comparisons. By means of specific expressive strategies such as an intimate style and the use of the present tense and the pronoun ‘we,’ Mantegazza employs a dialogical technique that not only effectively communicates his experience and perceptions but also directly involves the audience in his enterprise.69 If this hot-blooded Latin traveller used to Mediterranean standards of beauty seems at first perplexed at an overall absence of the sinuosity symbolizing classical sensuousness and grace, he comes to see this apparent Scandinavian aesthetic rigidity as a sign of order and emancipation, substantiated by, among other things, the more prominent standing of women than in Italy. The tidiness, organization, and calm, however, be it in major cities like Copenhagen and Stockholm or in remote villages, at the same time substantiates the opposite idea, that of a dignity arising from patience and serenity as signs of a simpler life, a ‘blessed naivety’ (p. 380) – which Mantegazza associates, for instance, with spontaneous manifestations of generosity and ceremonial rituals, from the bouquet of flowers offered by girls along a canal, to Retzius’s munificent banquet, ‘redolent of ancient chivalry’ (p. 389), and the exquisite hospitality and simple but delightful food in a Törmo household. Likewise, nature, which occupies a major portion of Mantegazza’s travelogue, is almost always depicted in ecstatic tones not simply as an enthusiastic projection of the traveller’s own exciting encounter with the last outpost of European civilization before the Arctic ice but also as an effective term of comparison with the parameters of Mantegazza’s own cultural landscape.

69 The ‘we’ employed by Mantegazza refers, first of all, to the presence of his travel companion Sommier. But its indirect effect is to create a sense of collective experience that fosters the readers’ identification with his party. The dialogical aspect of Un viaggio in Lapponia is evident not only in the actual exchanges between Mantegazza and Sommier and in their alternating accounts (which occupy sections of the travelogue not included in our volume) but also in their frequent references to a wide range of scientific and literary sources that produce a sort of second-hand reconstruction of the Lapp cultural context. See Sandra Puccini, ‘I viaggi di Paolo Mantegazza. Tra divulgazione, letteratura e antropologia,’ in Chiarelli and Pasini, Paolo Mantegazza: medico, antropologo, viaggiatore, pp. 49–74.



Indeed, the differences he underlines allow him to raise the issue of progress and the difficult balance between social and material improvement, on the one hand, and the destruction of traditional values, cultural memory, and the environment on the other. A tension between modernity and anti-modernity culminates in the pages devoted to the Lapps, where the anthropologist’s attention to numerous manifestations of their material culture (such as food habits, social practices, the structure of houses, clothes) leads not only to conclusions about their overall way of life but also to more general considerations about the meaning of civilization. The Lapps act as a sort of reversed double of the rational and advanced Europeans in so far as they seem to ignore all the speculative and materialistic concerns that characterize so-called higher cultures, yet appear content with their extremely simple living conditions and their cohesive social rituals. Yet, confronted with this peaceful and non-alienated people, Mantegazza cannot totally abandon the perspective of the civilized mind, which judges its cultural ‘other’ from the standpoint of superiority, and ultimately resorts to the equation of ‘primitive’ and ‘child,’ a veritable leitmotif in late nineteenth-century European anthropology. The good and innocent Lapp, therefore, shades off into the ‘heedless,’ ‘inert,’ and ‘whimsical’ individual who, by reason of his immaturity, automatically deserves to be placed among ‘lower peoples’ in the hierarchical ladder of human evolution. Likewise, Scandinavian women, with their inebriating ‘fair tresses’ or savage beauty, for the most part are represented as stimulants to ecstasies in the European traveller, who consumes ethnographic alterity as a spectacle. We are only a short step from the blatant Orientalism of Mantegazza’s Indian memories, entirely founded upon the exteriority of the place, and ready to supplant the ‘real’ Orient with the representation of the author’s impressionistic and visionary experience.70 A well-defined scientific objective avowedly underlay Mantegazza’s subsequent travel. In 1882, three years after his expedition to Lapland, Mantegazza set off for India, where he intended to study the Toda ethnic minority, a pastoral people living in the Southern Indian Nilgiri hills, 70 We are referring to Edward Said’s discussion of the ideas of the ‘Orient’ in the Western intellectual tradition. See Edward Said, Orientalism (New York: Vintage, 1979).

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whose Semitic origins he wished to investigate. From the very first pages of his India, however, we realize that there is much more at issue here, in Mantegazza’s relationship with the land and the culture concerned. In an epoch marked by Darwinian evolutionism, a journey to distant and more ‘primitive’ places was a step backwards in both space and time that connected present civilization to its origins.71 In this double projection, India was a particularly captivating object of scholarly desire, since it represented the cradle of the common language and lineage from which the vast Indo-European civilization derived its own birth. As Mantegazza eloquently writes, ‘India is the country from which we have come; India gave us the blood, the language, the religion, and the bread of daily life, and that other, golden bread, as necessary, nay, more necessary perhaps, than the first, which is the ideal’ (p. 424). In this search for a primitive or archaic humankind, philology and comparative mythology shared their ground with science in Italy no less than in the rest of Europe. It is enough to look at the numerous references to foreign and domestic works on India in Mantegazza’s travel narrative to get an idea of the centrality of this topic in the literary, scientific, and political debates of nineteenth-century Europe. In Italy itself, the cultural discourse on India began to transcend the pragmatic accounts of merchants and missionaries. Earlier in the century, Carlo Cattaneo had written on the history and culture of India as a collector of historical information,72 but the actual geographical displacement for scientific purposes that characterized the end of the 1800s tightened the Italian scholar’s bond with his Aryan motherland. Not accidentally, Mantegazza’s journey to India would soon be followed by that of the comparative mythologist Angelo De Gubernatis, the author of Storia dei viaggiatori italiani nelle Indie orientali (1875); two years after the publication of Mantegazza’s travel narrative, he would also write Peregrinazioni indiane. Yet in the midst of this widespread cultural vogue for India, whereas philologists and historians had the option of conducting their research without actual dislocation, the anthropologist, as Mantegazza states at

71 For these aspects, see also Puccini, Andare lontano, pp. 22–3. 72 Carlo Cattaneo, ‘Dell’India antica e moderna,’ in Scritti filosofici, letterari e vari (Florence: Sansoni, 1973), pp. 880–931.



the beginning of his travelogue, had to go to India. As well as identifying India as a unique source of ethnological and anthropological material, this duty to go there indirectly reinstated the desire to establish a connection between the newly unified Italy and the most celebrated locus for study of the history of Western culture; it thereby dignified not only the present and the future of the new Italian nation but also its roots, by ascribing to it a sort of cultural pedigree. Significantly, Mantegazza would keep his feet on the ‘solid terrain of positive facts’ (p. 476) and maintain that the so-called Aryan race did not exist. But if he was ready to invoke science to contest racial taxonomies founded upon ontological differences among human groups, he did not at all wish to demolish the historical myth of India and its ancestral bond with his homeland. To be sure, behind the anthropologist’s avowed moral obligation to undertake the voyage to India for noble patriotic causes, there was a burning personal desire, a yearning for full immersion into a land and culture that were born as a legendary reservoir of powerful aesthetic stimuli in the author’s individual fantasies as well as in the Western mind in general, and that would remain such a reservoir even in Mantegazza’s actual encounter with them. What the author introduces as a simple travel narrative, therefore, is informed from its inception by multiple and contradictory perspectives and formal strategies. India adopts the journal technique for the first portion of the journey, as far as Bombay; follows with narrative reports of the most remarkable episodes of the subsequent sections of the journey; and finally shifts to anthropological descriptions of the costumes, rituals, and social structures of local populations. Yet even in the chapters in which objective data are supposed to prevail, first-person authorial interventions abound in a clearly Mantegazzian style, full of passionate reflections and visceral reactions. It could even be argued that the tables, statistics, and measurements that often synthesize the anthropologist’s field research are not so much the core of Mantegazza’s scientific investigation as tools in the service of the writer’s imagination: the alleged accuracy of the technical descriptions gives a flavour of plausibility to the most emotional and phantasmagoric passages of the account.

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Of Mantegazza’s three travelogues, India is the one in which the literary dimension is most prominent and the language most bombastic.73 Even more than in the accounts of the journey to Lapland, style blurs the alleged distinction between the personal reportage and the more strictly ethnographic work on India collected in Studii sull’etnologia dell’India,74 where, immediately following a series of craniometric records, there comes a celebration of the ‘orgy of sweating skins and well-designed muscles’75 with which India has set itself free from the tyranny of clothes: ‘If Italian artists could all travel to India, how much new inspiration they could draw from this ocean of human shapes, dressing, moving, covering, and colouring themselves by such different laws from those of the arid and monotonous European world! … How beautiful, how lively, how palpitating the human flesh is here!’76 No wonder, therefore, that, within the framework of an unbridled exoticism that soon obfuscates the ‘scrupulous veracity’ we have been promised, the travelogue on India, too, filters the protagonist’s experience through thematic oppositions without half-tones: the norm against the excess, the domestic and familiar against the savage and unknown, the sublime against the horror. India appears from the beginning as a place of exhilarating superabundance, which is inscribed not only in its own people and land but also in Mantegazza’s sentences: the series of paratactic phrases in the early pages mimics the frantic sequence of images, sensations, and ideas that have accumulated in the author’s experience and memory and that the narrative goes on to elaborate. The confrontation with India’s ‘too much’ provides Mantegazza with a state of constant intoxication, as in

73 The literariness and the particular stylemes of Mantegazza’s Indian travelogue are also probably behind Guido Gozzano’s letters from India, Verso la cuna del mondo, and Pier Paolo Pasolini’s L’odore dell’India (interestingly, Mantegazza devotes a section of his own narrative to the scent of India). 74 Not accidentally, Mantegazza would progressively merge the contents of the two texts in subsequent editions of India. 75 Paolo Mantegazza, Studii sull’etnologia dell’India (Florence: Società Italiana di Antropologia, 1886), p. 48. English translation mine. 76 Ibid. English translation mine.



the narrative of his expedition to the majestic Mount Kanchenjunga, one of the episodes in which the rhetoric reaches its highest level of pomposity and the traveller’s rapture becomes caricatural. But a full immersion in this enchanted corner of the Indian wonderland grants only a temporary oblivion of ‘fixed boundaries’ (p. 446) and cultural distinctions. Mantegazza’s encounter with India is founded upon comparisons between the Oriental exotic and the European, or, even more specifically, the Italian, motherland (two examples among many are the definitions of the town of Coonoor as ‘the Cutigliano of the Nilgiris’ and of Benares as ‘the Rome of Hinduism’), showing the anthropologist’s tendency to classify the unknown according to the parameters of his own civilization. Far from neutral, this comparative operation coopts the exotic to relativize the aesthetic and moral values of the West, be it to criticize them (the Bombay Brahman’s ability to live happily in poverty inspires the European’s envy) or to extol them (despite his romance with Mount Kanchenjunga, Mantegazza considers the Alps more beautiful than the Himalaya). Whenever the Indian reality does not correspond to the expectations of his Indian dream and hence fails to satisfy his hedonistic quest, Mantegazza gives voice just as forcefully to a whole range of quite different reactions, from the hilarity caused by the ‘comic temple’ where sinners are beaten by a wicked priest, to absolute disgust – with the contamination of the edenic landscape around Bombay by cholera, leeches, and snakes; with the cult of cow’s urine, which spoils the poetry of the Parsi rituals; with the dirty and ‘stupid-looking’ lama who, constantly demanding money and mechanically formulating prayers, destroys the image of abnegation and disinterestedness that Mantegazza had built of Buddhist practices. The Western mind, no longer annihilated by its exotic ‘other,’ regains the supremacy of its own knowledge and power – a supremacy that, not surprisingly, exhibits strong masculine traits. In an India depicted throughout the travelogue with recognizably feminine hues, this gendered asymmetry between the European anthropologist and proto-colonialist, on the one hand, and the object of his desire and ultimate possession, on the other, is best epitomized in the scene of Mantegazza’s encounter with a Toda woman. It represents a tug of war between defamiliarization and domesticity, in which the anthropologist’s

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fantasy of self-loss in an idealized elsewhere is fulfilled simultaneously with his yearning for control and ownership: ‘My anthropologist’s innards were afire with love, desire, frenzy. Here I was, at last, in wild India, meaning at home!’ (p. 434). And just as to feel at home on the Todas’ turf means to have the right to rule over their territory and people, so to come across intriguing objects automatically authorizes Mantegazza to possess them for the mere sake of collectionism, as the episode of the little brass vessel in the Darjeeling Buddhist temple demonstrates. Taking literally the claim that all museum directors and collectors are thieves, Mantegazza unproblematically escalates from begging and bargaining to stealing, and, recounting his experience, highlights the triumphant sense of intellectual superiority with which ‘a European from Monza’ could easily outwit ‘a fanatical little priest from Darjeeling’ (p. 452) and finally bring back to his museum in Florence77 this tiny but great trophy – an authentic piece of India acquired with a view to celebrating the anthropologist’s personal heroism and fetishism rather than preserving the flavour of its original culture so as to substantiate the objectivity of the anthropologist’s narrative of his encounter with cultural difference. If, therefore, the Italian traveller was the flag carrier of a new nation trying to gain a spot on the world map, what kind of values does Mantegazza

77 This behaviour is by no means occasional, as we can gather also from A Voyage to Lapland, where Mantegazza insistently bargains for a leather chatelaine meant for his museum. At the same time, however, it is worth remarking that, if the nineteenth-century travelling ethnographers can be said to have shared a collecting frenzy that drove them to pillage all sorts of material in the exotic places they visited, Mantegazza is distinguished for his peculiar conceptualization of the museum. He was the creator of a Psychological Museum that, unlike a traditional ethnographic museum, attempted to collect material able to illustrate human passions beyond ethnicity. According to this innovative ordering criterion, the museum was intended to represent the individual variations of psychic attitudes across national, cultural, and racial boundaries rather than exhibiting self-contained instances of each people’s thought and arts. For a discussion of Mantegazza’s project, which was only partially accomplished, and details about the museum’s collection, see Edoardo Pardini and Sandra Mainardi, ‘Il Museo Psicologico di Paolo Mantegazza,’ Archivio per l’antropologia e la etnologia 121 (1991): 137–84; and Sara Ciruzzi, ‘Le collezioni del Museo Psicologico di Paolo Mantegazza a cento anni dalla sua inaugurazione,’ ibid., pp. 185–202.



embody and uphold? At a moment when diversity at home seems in the process of being absorbed by the monolithic new Italian reality, Mantegazza not only brings back exotic memories and objects from his travels. He also develops the idea of beauty as the experience of an aestheticizing geographical space able to transcend the frontiers of an ugly Western modernity and its commonplace experiences in the name of subjective ideals and desires. Travel as actual spatial displacement hence also offers the possibility of a personal journey toward one’s own elsewhere, toward the private realm of individual fantasies: ‘we all dream of a sky that is always higher than our own, a far west more distant than all the far wests of geographers and astronomers … We all have our excelsior, we all want to have … a promised land to conquer or hope for.’78 It is precisely in the name of the beautiful that Mantegazza is ready to question even the faithfulness to truth that seems to act as the sacred principle of his scientific creed. As he claims in Le estasi umane, ‘The beautiful is and always will be higher than any human peak, because it encompasses the true and the good. There is no beauty that is not also true, no beauty that is not also good,’79 a pronouncement he passionately reiterates in many of his scientific and literary writings. And it is precisely the desire to systematize all his scattered reflections on the beautiful (be it natural, physical, or artistic) that inspires Mantegazza to devote an entire work to it, as he had already announced in The Physiology of Love: ‘Perhaps one day I will attempt a “Physiology of Beauty,” in which I intend to point out the general laws that govern the aesthetic world’ (p. 193). This project would become Epicurus: Essay in a Physiology of the Beautiful (1891), followed one year later by a second volume, Dizionario delle cose belle. If we accept Croce’s opinion, this achievement amounts to nothing more than a ‘superficial compilation.’80 Yet it is significant that more recent critics acknowledge Epicurus as a seminal work

78 Paolo Mantegazza, Lezioni di antropologia, 1870–1910, vol. 1, Archivio per l’antropologia e la etnologia 19, (1989): 119. English translation mine. 79 Paolo Mantegazza, Le estasi umane (Milan: Paolo Mantegazza Editore, 1887), p. 306. English translation mine. 80 Benedetto Croce, ‘Scienziati-letterati,’ p. 56. English translation mine.

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of the pre-Crocean era, a veritable reference tool for all the supporters of a materialist aesthetics before idealism relocated art and poetry to the realm of pure intuition.81 Indeed, even if Mantegazza refused to associate the book title with the thought of the Greek philosopher, an intriguing connection took shape between his scientific materialism and the rediscovery of Epicureanism in turn-of-the-century Europe, Italy included. In Florence the philosopher Gaetano Trezza had published Epicuro e l’epicureismo (1877), which draws inspiration from the Greek model not only to support a mechanical and atomistic theory of reality, free of any transcendental or rational design, but also to call for an ethics founded upon the harmony and freedom deriving from the aesthetic realm. The appeal of Epicurus to Mantegazza appears evident in the recurrence of allusions to the Greek philosopher in his works both before and after Trezza’s study, from the ‘Decalogo di Epicuro’ in Fisiologia del piacere to Igiene di Epicuro, as well as in the treatises Gli amori degli uomini and L’arte di essere felici and the novel Il Dio ignoto. Whereas Trezza’s Epicureanism corresponded to scientific scepticism as a defence against sentiment, however, Mantegazza asserts the centrality of aesthetic experience founded upon the materialism of sensual pleasure and having priority over rational and moral issues. Not accidentally, his physiology of the beautiful explains that ‘the true and wise Epicureanism consists of the love, adoration and study of the beautiful, the only God that never sets in mankind’s sky.’82 The apparent adhesion to the experimental method suggested by the title promises a treatment of beauty as a natural and quantifiable phenomenon, yet in the very first pages of the volume Mantegazza claims that in aesthetics it is not possible to find ‘science’s serene contemplation, the pure and simple description of facts’ (p. 483), but rather enthusiasm and passion. And indeed the highly scientific terminology soon loses its proper sense and becomes figurative. Opening 81 Dizionario di sesso, amore e voluttà dagli scritti di Paolo Mantegazza, ed. Adolfo Zavaroni (Milan: Gabriele Mazzotta Editore, 1979). 82 Paolo Mantegazza, Epicuro, saggio di una fisiologia del bello (Milan: Treves, 1891), pp. vi–vii: ‘il vero e savio epicureismo consista nell’amare, nell’adorare e nello studiare il bello; unico Dio che non tramonta mai nel cielo dell’umanità.’ English translation mine.



up the language of formalization to pathos, Mantegazza defines man as an ‘aesthetic molecule,’ and thus as an elementary synthesis of a beauty that, in its turn, is ‘the true plus x’ (p. 496), where the unknown variable x is the powerful factor that confers value on all things. For Mantegazza, the beautiful is, in particular, ‘human nature’s luxury’ (p. 500), that is, a superfluous and excessive manifestation, devoid of practical utility. Precisely owing to the superiority of the beautiful to other human experiences, Epicurus moves away from an avowedly democratic vision83 and subjects the aesthetic realm to the laws of a social Darwinism that takes on uncanny Nietzschean resonances: ‘The common herd of artists and writers (who are also artists) always follow universal consensus; but the elect among them follow the immortal criterion of the true and the beautiful, protesting against the brute right of the majority or imposing their judgment on them, until they have transformed the minority into the majority. The common herd turn art into an industry, which prospers only with the consensus of the many; the elect make art a religion and prefer to be its martyrs rather than its sacristans’ (p. 498). It is therefore the responsibility of the very few – who, for Mantegazza, embody the ‘essentially and eternally aristocratic’ (p. 498) nature of human society – to reform the aesthetic standards of a nation and generation whenever bad taste contaminates authentic beauty. Accordingly, if the beautiful itself becomes ‘the grandest creator of progress’ (p. 499), such progress does not correspond to the rectilinear and unidirectional movement of biological evolution or economic advancement but rather to the pattern created by those individuals and peoples who cultivate disinterested emotional expenditure against crass utilitarianism and rational speculation. As Mantegazza also claims in Le estasi umane, the peoples who adored the beautiful ‘more or better than others were ahead of everybody else along the road to progress, were

83 See, for instance, the passage in Epicurus where Mantegazza asserts that ‘the joys the beautiful imparts to us are among the most democratic’ in that, for instance, natural elements ‘smile with equal light in the eyes of all who understand the beautiful, and aesthetic wealth is not bought with gold; rather, it is acquired with study and contemplation of beautiful things. Nature is juster than man and dispenses the greatest joys in life to all’ (p. 501).

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the precursors of civilization, and, even when tired, will form the aristocracy of the vast multitude of human creatures.’84 The patriotism of the author of Epicurus is founded precisely upon recognition of the nobility and power that derive from the purposelessness of beauty. Italy, accounting for its supreme artistic sense, can boast of its enduring aura as ‘the first and the finest heir of Greek civilization’ and, thanks to ‘the blood of Phidias and Apelles’ (p. 501) still flowing through its veins, can dictate law in aesthetic matters. Paradoxically, Epicurus thus ends up challenging the productive and instrumental underpinnings of its very materialistic foundation, tinging Mantegazza’s position with the hues of an aestheticist elitism that weakens merely scientific optimism, as we can see more evidently in several other works of Mantegazza’s last phase. Altough it is not possible in the context of this volume to provide an exhaustive overview of Mantegazza’s many other intellectual loves, we have included among our selections brief passages from several other representative works that delineate the complexity and also the evolution of our author’s position as a science fiction writer, educator, and political and cultural critic. Quite different in genre and in their objectives, these texts nevertheless offer more instances of Mantegazza’s ultimate problematization of those typical aspects of modernity rapidly spreading in an Italy attempting to keep pace with the rest of Europe. In The Neurosic Century (1887) and The Tartuffe Century (1888), Mantegazza applies his skills as a pathologist to the social body as a whole in a colourful discussion of what for him are the collective diseases of his century, namely, neurosism and hypocrisy. He does so through the creation of two fictional characters who, as we may gather from their symptomatic names, Tito Nervosetti and Nervina Convulsi, embody the symptoms of their epoch. The physiognomy of the nineteenth-century as sketched by Mantegazza in The Neurosic Century is that of an unstable and chaotic state affecting the most diverse aspects of life, from the frantic and violent life in cities to the difficult working conditions in

84 Le estasi umane, p. 306. English translation mine.



factories, the lethargy of institutions (schools above all), and the frequent mental alienation of individuals. In the metaphor of degeneration, a hallmark of intellectual debates in late nineteenth-century Europe, The Tartuffe Century combines the physical degradation of society with the moral underpinnings of its hypocrisy, seen as a consequence of the contradictions and tensions of what for Mantegazza is a transitional period: the unworthy heir of the ideals of the French Revolution, the nineteenth century is covering a void without being able to provide certainties. Mantegazza hence felt a need to promote changes not only by healing bodies, but also by modifying the mentality of his people, particularly the new generations. As an educator he had already written Head: or, Sowing Ideas to Create New Deeds (1877), a curiously hybrid text, at once novel, conduct book, and essay on practical philosophy for the young, preaching a balance of emotional, moral, and rational qualities. The title intentionally establishes a connection with Edmondo De Amicis’s Cuore, arguably the most popular novel of united Italy: Mantegazza wants to provide an alternative to the blatantly sentimental and pietistic vision of his predecessor’s best-seller, by inviting his readers to integrate the impulses of the pure heart with those of the intellect. The continuity with and differences from Cuore are evident in the plot: the protagonist is the very Enrico Bottini featured in De Amicis’s novel, who, infected with a respiratory illness that may indicate the onset of tuberculosis (we see here the re-emergence of one of Mantegazza’s main public health concerns), is sent to spend a long period on the Ligurian Riviera at the house of his uncle Baciccia (or, we should say, his uncle Mantegazza, since it is clearly the author’s personality and ideas that are embodied by this character), in contact with nature and far from books and the stress of urban life. Baciccia, an experienced sailor with rigorous moral and rational principles, undertakes the task of helping his nephew build a strong personality, through the cultivation of love and generosity as much as through physical exercise, nutritional hygiene, and observation of nature and of social reality. The book alternates dialogues between Enrico and his uncle with long personal recollections by Baciccia that function as moral parables on such diverse themes as the acquisition of

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courage, respect for the natural elements, religious pluralism, patriotic love, and professional choices. Enrico’s responses to such teachings are translated into a monthly ‘Calendar of Goodness,’ in which the boy records his own daily resolutions on the basis of the principles he has learned. With this device Mantegazza turns Head into an interactive book: after the January pages, the calendar is intentionally left blank so that readers can fill in their own, individual reactions to the monthly preachings. Needless to say, Enrico fully recovers, and with him – we can surmise – all those who follow Baciccia’s advice.85 Mantegazza’s public role as a scholar and educator also accounts for his involvement in politics. Indeed, his parliamentary interventions tackled urgent problems in the Italian school and university system (the low standards of high schools, the proliferation of small and mediocre universities, the inadequate remuneration of academic faculty) as well as equally crucial health issues, such as the relationship between the unsanitary conditions of rice workers and the diffusion of malaria, at a moment when the connection between wetlands and the causes of the disease was still not evident.86 But the overall tone of Mantegazza’s autobiographical account of his experience as a deputy and senator, Political Memoirs of a Foot Soldier in the Italian Parliament (1896), is one of disillusion and resentment, tinged with cynicism. Mantegazza soon realized that he was not cut out for what he perceived as the scheming and the ruthless power games of the governing class. His ideals and his political agenda did not gain wide support because his vision was often too farseeing. The awareness of his strangeness to the world of professional politicians and their manipulations is translated into the critical, ironic detachment of an observer who, by recovering his original identity as a scientist, examines, from within, the bizarre behaviour of inferior creatures, applying his taxonomic mania to the parliamentary exemplars of what emerges more as a zoo than a governmental organism.

85 Like the protagonists, the addressees of the book are male. One may wonder where Mantegazza’s concern for the education of women with a view to the woman of the future has gone. 86 See Pasini, Elogio, p. 63.



But if the concrete reality of the present did not always provide Mantegazza with adequate conditions in which to accomplish his projects, his ideas and ideals ultimately converged in a fiction of the future. Taking a big step beyond the merely geographical displacement of his previous travels, in The Year 3000: A Dream (1897) Mantegazza embarked upon a voyage to a utopian thirty-first century through two characters, Paolo and Maria (not accidentally the first names of the author and of his second wife, Countess Maria Fantoni), who, after a five-year liaison, are flying from Rome (at the time the capital of the United States of Europe) to Andropolis, the capital of the United Planetary States, where they will celebrate their wedding and request authorization to have children. An intriguing work of science fiction, the novel transposes to the new framework, many of the situations and issues its author had tackled in previous works, but recombines them in a story imbued with the ferments of a fin de siècle in which cutting-edge scientific and technical findings (electricity, for instance) blend with spiritualistic and paranormal elements. Not only is life in the year 3000 made easier by such means of transportation as the ‘aerotach’; even nervous illnesses can be treated thanks to the ‘psychoscope,’ an instrument that scans human thought. With an optimism that compensates Mantegazza for his disenchanting political experience in the Italian parliament, the novel delineates a world ruled by an efficient government, with no bureaucratic absurdities or interference from the Church. In Andropolis, divorce is granted to everybody, women have the power to vote, and medical science has made notable advances thanks to the inhabitants’ massive response in matters of public health (a sign of Mantegazza’s self-complacency for the enduring success of his popularizing initiatives). Last but not least, the population’s overall physical condition has improved remarkably owing to the suppression of newborns suffering from hereditary illnesses. Many of these inventions and predictions would uncannily hit their targets, such as the instrument that magnifies brain cells (the Mantegazzian prototype of a CAT scan, as has been observed)87 and the great and terrible conflict that would destroy European nations (the First World War was two decades away). The implications of Mantegazza’s vision of a 87 See Alberto Capatti, ‘Prefazione,’ in Paolo Mantegazza, L’anno 3000 (Bergamo: Lubrina, 1988), p. 14.

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federation of European states and of their subsequent merge into a planetary organization for our current debates on Europeanization and globalization are evident, just as his ultimate eugenetic solutions raise paramount moral questions about abortion and euthanasia that are still very much with us. From the years in which Freudian psychoanalysis was elaborating the notion of dream as wish fulfilment, this dream of the year 3000 reveals Mantegazza’s most authentic personal interests and desires, well beyond the many and conflicting voices that rise from his numerous other popularizing and moralistic texts. His is a questionable, provocative, and at times disquieting vision, but certainly not an obvious one. With his fertile imagination, extraordinary insights, intriguing contradictions, and grotesque limitations (among them a frequent lack of what we now call political correctness), the hyperactive and versatile Paolo Mantegazza is the sum of all the diverse roles and characters explored here, but also much more. The issues raised by the anthropologist Giuseppe Sergi about his colleague’s accomplishments may serve by way of a conclusion. Was Mantegazza a real scientist? Was he an authentic genius, or simply a dispersive, albeit brilliant, experimenter, with an excellent nose for laurels? Does he deserve to be remembered only as the creator of the Society of Anthropology, as Sergi presumes? An earlier forecast by Mantegazza himself offers an incisive reply: ‘I am convinced that to my excessive popularity, certainly superior to my merits, there will follow, during my lifetime or soon after my death, an unjust reaction. I hope, however, that after that reaction I will float again, but it will be as a psychologist and observer of human nature.’88 The final answer, of course, is up to the readers of this collection, and our hope is that they will be infected by the enthusiasm spurting from our author’s pages. But no matter what reactions the material generates, we believe that a picture of nineteenth-century Italy without a touch of Mantegazza’s personality and writings is truly incomplete. nicoletta pireddu

88 Ehrenfreund, Bibliografia, p. 1. English translation mine.

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A Note on the Texts and Their Translations

A cultural icon like Paolo Mantegazza, whose face at one point was even featured on the boxes of an Italian brand of matches, not surprisingly was also widely translated. The bibliography of his writings published by Erasmo Ehrenfreund in 1926, fifteen years after Mantegazza’s death, confirms not only that Mantegazza continued to be read, reprinted, reviewed, and quoted profusely in his homeland but also that he enjoyed a growing fame abroad. The Italian first edition of his first book-length work, Fisiologia del piacere, was immediately followed by a Spanish translation of some excerpts – an early intimation of an international appeal that would soon be consolidated with full-length unabridged translations in Spanish (Buenos Aires), German (Leipzig), French (Brussels and Paris), Polish (Warsaw), and Bohemian (Prague) by 1893. An 1890 Russian translation also exists, which Ehrenfreund does not record. This beginning was symptomatic of the diffusion and reception of Mantegazza’s most popular volumes. Whereas the essay on coca became a milestone in the history of stimulants in its original language (apart from certain excerpts translated into French and German, published in various European medical journals), thanks only to reviews and honourable mentions from Naples to Berlin, London, Buenos Aires, and Virginia,89 Fisiologia dell’amore was reprinted several times in Italy in just a few years, a trend that would not easily be arrested (Ehrenfreund lists

89 Similarly, no foreign translations exist of Quadri della natura umana. Feste ed ebbrezze, in which Mantegazza reprinted a large portion of his essay on coca, even though this work was much praised in numerous European scientific journals.


A Note on the Texts and Their Translations

at least fourteen different Italian editions in a fifty-year span). And the frenzy abroad seems no less intense, if, in addition to the many reviews in European journals soon after the volume’s publication, we take into account the multiple translations into German, French, Spanish, Bohemian, Portuguese, and Russian, many of which were enriched by prefaces written by Mantegazza himself or biographical profiles of him composed by his wife, Maria. A similar success was reserved for Un giorno a Madera. After the immediate exhaustion of the 1,500 copies of the first edition that Mantegazza had printed at his own expense, the novel reached its thirty-eighth edition in 1920. Having started as a best-seller, it was consecrated as a veritable classic from the year of Mantegazza’s death, when it began to be included in great authors’ series. The rest of the world responded no less enthusiastically, with translations in Spanish, Croatian, French, German, Dutch, and Portuguese. The international impact of Mantegazza’s travelogues, however, was far more negligible. No foreign translation of Un viaggio in Lapponia seems to exist, whereas records indicate an 1885 German translation of India (interestingly, published only a year after the first Italian edition), and, curiously, the Library of Congress Catalogue indicates an 1897 Hebrew translation.90 Likewise, the resonance of Ricordi politici di un fantaccino del parlamento italiano, despite Italian and foreign reviews, remained confined to Mantegazza’s homeland. Beyond the complex question as to whether the intrinsic aesthetic and intellectual value of those texts may have played a role in their uneven circulation, it is probably not too far-fetched to claim that the more personal, autobiographical works by Mantegazza understandably could not exert the strong appeal of essays on supposedly universal (albeit controversial) questions like love and pleasure – which highlight Mantegazza’s talent as an initiator of new social practices – or of sensational novels that could stimulate the audience’s imagination and threreby transcend cultural boundaries more easily.

90 Probably abridged, judging from its small number of pages (147) in comparison to the two-volume Italian original.

A Note on the Texts and Their Translations


Additional evidence of this rather predictable divide between ‘private’ and ‘public’ genres in Mantegazza may be provided by the fortunes of the other texts included in our volume. Within two years after its first Italian edition, Epicuro was translated into German, Bohemian, and Portuguese. An even greater popularity was attained by Il secolo nevrosico, available in German, Swedish, Russian, Spanish, and Portuguese within a year of the publication of its original version. Similarly, Il secolo tartufo was speedily translated into German, English, Polish, Spanish, and Portuguese. Testa appeared in German, Croatian, English, Polish, Spanish (first in Madrid in 1905, then in Chile in 1934), and even Yiddish (1933), and L’anno 3000 became available in Russian (within a year of its Italian first edition) and Portuguese. Within this bountiful international proliferation of Mantegazza’s works, English translations were surprisingly scarce, as both Ehrenfreund’s bibliography and the major foreign library catalogues show, despite Mantegazza’s remarkable visibility in British and American intellectual milieux. By 1908, only three of Mantegazza’s texts were available in English in Great Britain: Physiognomy and Expression, The Art of Taking a Wife, and The Legends of Flowers. The United States, for its part, seemed more hospitable to Mantegazza even before his American tour. The Tartuffian Age (Boston 1889, 1890) and Testa: A Book for Boys (Boston, 1889) were followed by three translations of Fisiologia dell’amore – The Physiology of Love (New York: Cleveland Publishing Co., 1894), The Book of Love (New York: American Neo-Latin Library, 1917), and The Physiology of Love (New York: Eugenics Publishing Co., 1936) – and by The Legends of Flowers, by various editions of Physiognomy and Expression and of The Sexual Relations of Mankind, and even by Laura: A Study of Platonic Love, a section of Mantegazza’s original Italian Le Tre Grazie. A best-selling author until the 1930s, Mantegazza almost disappeared from the international cultural panorama soon thereafter, apart from a few scattered international records.91 Though foreign translations kept Mantegazza’s popularity alive, in Italy his star set during the decades of

91 Among them a Czech translation of Testa (Hlava, Prague 1936); a Portuguese version of L’arte di prender moglie (Lisbon, 1952); a 1966 American English edition of Gli amori degli uomini; and a 1975 Chinese translation of Le leggende dei fiori.


A Note on the Texts and Their Translations

the Fascist regime. Not until the 1970s were the long-buried works of the father of Italian anthropology exhumed. At that point, spurred by post-1968 liberal social practices, the new interest in Mantegazza was confined mainly to the works that directly tackle issues of sexuality, with the paradoxical effect of reinforcing the unilateral reputation as a sexologist that Mantegazza had gained during his lifetime.92 This one-sided interpretation of the author’s intellectual production was substantiated by the often misleading titles of his translated books. The choices underlying foreign renditions of Gli amori degli uomini, for instance, were particularly revealing and influential in the construction of a sexually obsessed Mantegazza. The rather neutral and general Italian title became, in English, The Sexual Relations of Mankind, and, in Spanish, Amor mundano, and even, in a 1980 English Canadian version, Sexual Taboos; brought to the foreground, therefore, were the sexual, provocative, and transgressive aspects of Mantegazza’s wider object of study. Similarly, when Fisiologia dell’amore became Los secretos del amor in an 1899 Spanish translation (Ehrenfreud 71) and The Book of Love in English, it lost all reference to the medical and anthropological (however questionable) framework that Mantegazza had built for his investigation, and privileged the more sensational and almost mystical underpinnings of the love experience. Confronted with such a wide array of precedents, for the present volume we have made translation choices and editorial decisions that strive to respect and reproduce, whenever possible, Mantegazza’s style. The unabridged English translation of Fisiologia dell’amore is based on The Physiology of Love (New York: Cleveland Publishing Co., 1894) with only slight modifications.93 The Italian reference text is Fisiologia dell’amore (4th ed. Florence: Bemporad, 1880). On the Hygienic and Medicinal Virtues of the Coca Plant and on Nervine Nourishment in General is based on ‘Sulle virtù igieniche e medicinali

92 A symptomatic example of this rediscovery of Mantegazza as a pioneering investigator into spicy sexual matters is an article by Giovanni Mariotti, ‘“Amore mio, ti ha detto nulla Mantegazza?”’ L’Espresso 25 (24) (1979): 146–55. 93 See David Jacobson’s ‘Translator’s Note,’ below.

A Note on the Texts and Their Translations


della coca,’ Annali universali di medicina 167, fasc. 501 (March 1859): 449–519. From the original Italian we have omitted the long classifications of nervous elements on pp. 454–65, and chapter 5, ‘Osservazioni pratiche sull’azione terapeutica della coca,’ pp. 505–19. The excerpts from One Day in Madeira: A Page in the Hygiene of Love are based on Un giorno a Madera (Genova: ECIG, 1991), pp. 40–1, 51–8, 69– 77, 84–8, 107–16, and 160–72. The excerpts from A Voyage to Lapland with My Friend Stephen Sommier correspond to the following sections of Un viaggio in Lapponia coll’amico Stephen Sommier (Milan: Brigola, 1881): chapter 1, pp. 7–29; chapter 2, pp. 43–70; chapter 4, pp. 103–14; and chapter 5, pp. 115–28, 133–5, 158–65, 168–70, 172, and 178–9. The excerpts from India correspond to the following sections of India (4th ed. Milan: Treves, 1888): chapter 1, pp. 1–6; chapter 2, pp. 35–42; chapter 5, pp. 121–3; chapter 6, pp. 137–44; chapter 7, pp. 165–75 and 180–1; chapter 9, pp. 214–22, 231–2; 238–60, and 266–9; chapter 11, pp. 285–99; chapter 13, pp. 327–39; and chapter 15, pp. 391–9. The excerpts from Epicurus: Essay in a Physiology of the Beautiful correspond to the following sections of Epicuro, saggio di una fisiologia del bello (Milan: Treves, 1891): chapter 1, pp. 3–39; chapter 2, pp. 43–8; chapter 6, pp. 190–4; chapter 8, pp. 236–45. The excerpts from The Neurosic Century correspond to Il secolo nevrosico (Florence: Barbera, 1887), pp. 58–60. The excerpts from The Tartuffe Century correspond to Il secolo tartufo (Milan: Treves, 1889), pp. 59, 62,147–9. The excerpts from Head: or, Sowing Ideas to Create New Deeds correspond to Testa ovvero Seminare idee perché nascano opere (Naples: Colonnese, 1993), pp. 152, 156, and 230. The excerpts from Political Memoirs of a Foot Soldier in the Italian Parliament correspond to Ricordi politici di un fantaccino del parlamento italiano (Florence: Bemporad, 1897), pp. 232–7. The excerpts from The Year 3000: A Dream correspond to L’anno 3000. Sogno (Bergamo: Lubrina, 1988), pp. 23–4. As a farewell in keeping with the nature and purpose of this volume, we have included a final excerpt – ‘The Psychology of Translations,’ from ‘Psicologia delle traduzioni,’ in Parvulae, pagine sparse di Paolo


A Note on the Texts and Their Translations

Mantegazza (Milan: Treves, 1910), pp. 103–6 – that gives voice to Mantegazza’s insightful forecast and desire for a world more interconnected as a result of intercultural communication. Our hope is that, thanks to translation, Mantegazza’s writings will continue to travel across linguistic and cultural borders. Every effort has been made to provide explanations of uncommon names, situations, and textual references in Mantegazza’s works that may not be easily accessible to readers. In several instances it has not been possible to identify a person or place, the correct meaning of a foreign word, or the precise source of a quotation owing to Mantegazza’s erratic and often inexact transliteration and his lack of bibliographical accuracy. Much material for the textual notes was drawn from Encyclopaedia Britannica, the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, and the American Heritage Dictionary. Any errors or omissions are entirely the editor’s responsibility. Similarly, the records of Italian editions and foreign translations of Mantegazza’s works are sometimes incomplete, incorrect, or contradictory. Although not exhaustive, the evidence here provided is indicative of the overall critical fortunes and international diffusion of Mantegazza’s massive production. Most of the information about translations has been drawn from Erasmo Ehrenfreund’s Bibliografia degli scritti di Paolo Mantegazza, Index Translationum, the online databases WorldCat and RLIN, and the catalogues of the United States Library of Congress, the British Library, and the National Library in Florence. nicoletta pireddu

Translator’s Note on Revising the Existing Translation of The Physiology of Love

Since the base translation (New York: Cleveland Publishing Co., 1894) is generally excellent and seemed quite faithful to the style of Mantegazza in all its precision and bluster, I (and we) chose not to destroy its period charm. But I did modernize some spellings and punctuation (‘to-morrow’ becomes ‘tomorrow,’ ‘subtile’ becomes ‘subtle’, etc.). On reading the translation line for line against the original, I discovered some apparent misunderstandings of Italian words. Unless early in the last century the English word ‘lagoon’ meant a gap or lacuna and not a swamp or bog, ‘the lagoon which must be filled’ should read ‘the gap’ (p. 181), and ‘this glorious lagoon left by modesty’ should read ‘lacuna’ (p. 190). Similarly, unless the English ‘limb’ once stood for the Italian limbo, ‘they drag out a wretched existence in the limb of bastard affections’ should surely read ‘the limbo of bastard affections’ (p. 161). And likewise in the case of the English ‘arena’: ‘the arena of the sea’ should probably read ‘the sand of the seashore’ on pp. 161 and 247. I have kept ‘germ’ on p. 113, rather than replacing it with ‘seed,’ since the surrounding pages speak positively of the ‘germinative’. Throughout the text ‘germ’ thus retains the positive association with ‘germination’ rather than suggesting microbes (p. 194: ‘germs are animated …’). But it seemed better to change ‘woman, custodian of germs’, with its grotesque suggestion of the breeding of infection, to ‘custodian of seeds’ on p. 124. Throughout the translation I have also tried to reduce cognate word choices where they might sound uncertain or lazy. Appropriately in a physiology of love, there is much mention of ‘il nudo,’ but in the 1894 translation this is rendered as ‘nude’ and never ‘naked’, which perhaps


Translator’s Note

was too raw a word for the time. But if one bears in mind Kenneth Clark’s art-historical distinction between the naked and the nude (essentially, the natural vs the cultural body), one must replace the phrase ‘it is born nude’ with ‘it is born naked’ on pp. 276–7. No human, to exaggerate Clark’s distinction perhaps, is born nude, one becomes nude – as a model, say, for a painter. So I have tried to vary the usage between ‘nude’ and ‘naked’. Certain phrases seemed needlessly latinate and too close to the Italian original. For example, ‘oscillate suavely’ seemed preposterous as against, say, ‘waver gently’ (p. 127). So I have made changes as follows: p. 95: preserve your scorn: save your scorn [much more ‘spoken’ and direct]; and p. 233: he strives to preserve his heart pure [very unidiomatic]: … keep his heart pure p. 116: rosy as the aurora: rosy as the dawn p. 120: traduces: betrays p. 133: adherent things: pertinent things p. 178: the quadrature of the circle: the squaring … p. 191: cerated varnish: waxen varnish p. 227: the crepuscule of rising love: the twilights … p. 282: the balance suspended: the balance hung p. 296: a scourge without balsam: … without balm p. 300: insupportable: unbearable p. 301: [the Italianized] Tartufo: [the better-known French] Tartuffe I have also changed what would be a confusing use of ‘to prostitute oneself ’, where the author means to frequent prostitutes. Thus ‘men who prostitute themselves’ would be outrageously wrong, so becomes ‘men who seek out prostitutes’ (p. 265); and the odd ‘the elect never prostitute themselves’ becomes ‘resort to prostitution’ (p. 271), where I assume it will be understood that ‘resorting to (frequenting) prostitutes’ is meant. I have also trimmed what seemed redundancy in a few cases: p. 98: If it is true: If p. 130: wild savage fruit: wild fruit p. 131: a cup which we prefer to any other: a favourite cup p. 149: it consequently follows: it follows

Translator’s Note


Finally, I have adapted some phrases to suit contemporary, or simpler and spoken, usage: p. 101: I have arrested my steps: … halted my steps p. 104: the velvet body of his beloved one: his beloved’s … body p. 106: simulating indifference: feigning … p. 107: feathers disarranged: … mussed p. 153: wrench away her wings: tear away her wings p. 154: of entire humanity: of all humanity p. 174: reflected actions: reflex actions p. 185: avidious: avid p. 260: a want of the senses: a need of the senses david jacobson

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Suggestions for Further Reading

First Editions of Mantegazza’s Selected Works For reasons of space, we have listed only Mantegazza’s best-known books and articles (in chronological order), and omitted many scientific publications in specialized journals, as well as shorter interventions, such as review articles, that appeared in popularizing cultural magazines. For a more exhaustive panorama of Mantegazza’s production, see Ehrenfreund, Bibliografia degli scritti di Paolo Mantegazza. Fisiologia del piacere. Milan: Bernardoni, 1854. Sull’America meridionale. Lettere mediche. Milan: Chiusi, 1858 (vol. 1), 1860 (vol. 2). ‘Sulle virtù igieniche e medicinali della coca e sugli alimenti nervosi in generale.’ Annali universali di medicina 167, fasc. 501 (March 1859): 449–519. ‘La scienza e l’arte della vita in Francia.’ La Nuova Antologia 9 (1868): 697–713. Il bene e il male, libro per tutti. Torino: Unione Tipografico-Editrice, 1861. Ordine e libertà. Conversazioni di politica popolare. Milan: Bernardoni, 1864. Elementi d’igiene. Milan: Brigola, 1865. Igiene della cucina. Milan: Brigola, 1865. Rio della Plata e Tenerife. Viaggi e studi. Milan: Brigola, 1867. Un giorno a Madera, una pagina dell’igiene dell’amore. Milan: Brigola, 1868. Igiene della pelle. Milan: Bernardoni, 1868. Igiene della bellezza. Milan: Brigola, 1869. Le glorie e le gioie del lavoro. Milan: Maisner, 1870. Profili e paesaggi della Sardegna. Milan: Brigola, 1870.


Suggestions for Further Reading

Dizionario delle scienze mediche. With Alfonso Corradi and Giulio Bizzozero. Milan: Brigola, 1871–75. Quadri della natura umana. Feste ed ebbrezze. Milan: Bernardoni, 1871. ‘L’elezione sessuale e la neogenesi. Lettera a Carlo Darwin.’ Archivio per l’antropologia e l’etnologia 3 (1871): 306–25. Igiene di Epicuro. Milan: Brigola, 1871. Fisiologia dell’amore. Milano: Brigola, 1873. ‘L’uomo e gli uomini. Saggio di una etnologia naturale.’ Introduction in Enrico H. Giglioli, Viaggio intorno al globo della R. pirocorvetta italiana Magenta. Milan: Maisner, 1875. Pp. xv–xxvi. Atlante delle espressioni del dolore. Fotografie prese dal vero e da molte altre opere d’arte. Florence: Brogi, 1876. Il Dio ignoto. Milan: Brigola, 1876. La mia mamma, Laura Solera Mantegazza. Milan: Brigola, 1876. Igiene del nido. Milan: Brigola, 1876. Igiene dell’età. Milan: Brigola, 1877. Igiene dell’amore. Milan: Brigola, 1878. La mia tavolozza. Bologna: Zanichelli, 1878. Igiene dei climi. Milan: Brigola, 1878. Upilio Faimali, memorie di un domatore di belve. Milan: Brigola, 1879. Fisiologia del dolore. Florence: Poggi, 1880. Un viaggio in Lapponia coll’amico Stephen Sommier. Milan: Brigola, 1881. Igiene del lavoro. Milan: Brigola, 1881. Fisionomia e mimica. Milan: Dumolard, 1881. Dizionario d’igiene per le famiglie. With Neera. Milan: Brigola, 1881. Piccolo dizionario della cucina. Milan: Brigola, 1882. Commemorazione di Carlo Darwin. Florence: Arte della Stampa, 1882. Note autobiografiche. Florence: Carnesecchi, 1882. Le Tre Grazie, amori platonici. Milan: Brigola, 1883. Un bacio in tre, osservazioni di psicologia. Milan: Voghera, 1883. L’arte di non ammalare. Milan: Brigola, 1883. India. Milan: Treves, 1884. L’arte di campar vecchi. Milan: Brigola, 1885. Gli amori degli uomini, saggio di etnologia dell’amore. Milan: Treves, 1886. Le estasi umane. Milan: Treves, 1886.

Suggestions for Further Reading


L’arte di essere felici. Florence: Barbera, 1886. ‘Studii sull’etnologia dell’India.’ Florence: Società Italiana di Antropologia, 1886. Il secolo nevrosico. Florence: Barbera, 1887. Testa. Milan: Treves, 1887. Il secolo tartufo. Milan: Treves, 1888. Fisiologia dell’odio. Milan: Treves, 1889. Le leggende dei fiori. Milan: Dumolard, 1890. Epicuro, saggio di una fisiologia del bello. Milan: Treves, 1891. L’arte di prender moglie. Milan: Treves, 1891. Dizionario delle cose belle. Milan: Treves, 1892. Fisiologia della donna. Milan: Treves, 1893. L’arte di prender marito. Milan: Treves, 1894. Ricordi di Spagna e dell’America spagnuola. Milan: Treves, 1894. Elogio della vecchiaia. Milan: Treves, 1895. L’anno 3000. Sogno. Milan: Treves, 1897. Ricordi politici di un fantaccino del parlamento italiano. Florence: Bemporad, 1897. I caratteri umani. Milan: Treves, 1898. Il libro delle malinconie. Florence: Bemporad, 1901. Igiene della morale e la morale dell’igiene. Milan: Treves, 1901. ‘Trent’anni di storia della Società Italiana di Antropologia, Etnologia e Psicologia Comparata.’ Archivio per l’antropologia e l’etnologia 31 (1901). In memoria del XXXo Anno della Società Italiana d’Antropologia. Florence: Salvatore Landi, 1901. Pp. 1–7. ‘Nuovi fatti in appoggio della Pangenesi di Darwin.’ Archivio per l’antropologia e l’etnologia (1904): 189–91. ‘Darwin dopo cinquant’anni.’ Archivio per l’antropologia e l’etnologia (1905): 311–22. Le donne del mio tempo. Rome: Voghera, 1905. La bibbia della speranza. Torino: STEN, 1909. L’anima delle cose. Torino: STEN, 1910. Parvulae, pagine sparse di Paolo Mantegazza. Milan: Treves, 1910. Lezioni di antropologia 1870–1910. Archivio per l’antropologia e l’etnologia 119 (1989).


Suggestions for Further Reading

Selected Critical Works on Mantegazza Armenise, Gabriella. ‘Paolo Mantegazza: il patrocinatore di un’educazione alla sessualità responsabile.’ In Paolo Mantegazza, Fisiologia dell’amore, ed. Gabriella Armenise. Lecce: Pensa, 2003. Pp.vii–lxxx. – Amore eros educazione in Paolo Mantegazza. Lecce: Pensa, 2005. Arslan, Antonia, and Margherita Ganazzoli. ‘Neera e Paolo Mantegazza: storia di una collaborazione (con 32 lettere inedite).’ Rassegna della letteratura italiana 87:1–2 (January – August 1983): 102–24. Boni, Monica. L’erotico senatore. Vita e studi di Paolo Mantegazza. Genova: Name, 2002. Cavalli Pasini, Annamaria. La scienza nel romanzo. Romanzo e cultura scientifica tra Otto e Novecento. Bologna: Patron, 1982. Chiarelli, Cosimo, and Walter Pasini eds. Paolo Mantegazza: medico, antropologo, viaggiatore. Florence: Firenze University Press, 2002. Chiarelli, Cosimo, and Susanna Weber, eds. Etnie. La scuola antropologica fiorentina e la fotografia tra ‘800 e ‘900. Florence: Alinari, 1996. Ciruzzi, Sara. ‘Le collezioni del Museo Psicologico di Paolo Mantegazza a cento anni dalla sua inaugurazione.’ Archivio per l’antropologia e la etnologia 121 (1991): 185–202. Citro, Ernesto. ‘India di Paolo Mantegazza.’ Esperienze letterarie 4 (October – December 2002): 59–78. Clemente, P., et al., eds. L’antropologia italiana. Un secolo di storia. Bari: Laterza, 1985. Croce, Benedetto. ‘Scienziati-letterati.’ In Croce, La letteratura della nuova Italia, vol. 6. Bari: Laterza, 1957. Pp. 49–54. DeCaprio, Caterina. ‘Testa e le intenzioni pedagogiche di Paolo Mantegazza.’ Problemi: periodico quadrimestrale di cultura 98 (September – December 1993): 248–58. De Gubernatis, Angelo, ed. Dizionario biografico degli scrittori contemporanei. Florence: LeMonnier, 1879. Ehrenfreund, Erasmo. Bibliografia degli scritti di Paolo Mantegazza. Florence: Stabilimento Grafico Commerciale, 1926. Frati, Emanuela. Le carte e la biblioteca di Paolo Mantegazza. Florence: Giunta Regionale Toscana; Milan: Bibliografica, 1991. Govoni, Paola. Un pubblico per la scienza. La divulgazione scientifica nell’Italia in formazione. Rome: Carocci, 2002.

Suggestions for Further Reading


Haeberle, Erwin J. ‘Sexology: From Italy to Europe and the World.’ In C. Simonelli, F. Petruccelli, and V. Vizzari. Sessualità e terzo millennio. Studi e ricerche in sessuologia clinica, vol. 1, ed. Milan: Franco Angeli, 1997. Pp.13–22. Horch, Hans Otto. ‘Fontane und das kranke Jahrhundert: Theodor Fontanes Beziehungen zu den Kulturkritikern Friedrich Nietzsche, Max Nordau und Paolo Mantegazza.’ In Literatur und Theater im Wilhelminischen Zeitalter, ed. Hans-Peter Bayerdorfer, Karl Otto Conrady, and Helmut Schanze. Tubingen: Niemeyer, 1978. Pp. 1–34. Hudde, Hinrich. ‘Zwischen Utopie und Antiutopie: Mantegazzas L’anno 3000.’ Archiv für das Studium der Neueren Sprachen und Literaturen 212 (1975): 77–94. Landucci, Giovanni. Darwinismo a Firenze. Tra scienza e ideologia (1860– 1900). Florence: Olschki, 1977. – L’occhio e la mente. Scienze e filosofia nell’Italia del secondo Ottocento. Florence: Olschki, 1987. Lessona, Adele. ‘Notizia letteraria. Un giorno a Madera. Una pagina dell’igiene d’amore di Paolo Mantegazza.’ Nuova antologia di scienze, lettere ed arti 10 (February 1869): 396–401. Marchioni, Massimo. ‘Scienza e invenzione narrativa: i romanzi di Paolo Mantegazza.’ Ipotesi 14:2 (1985): 3–53. Mariotti, Giovanni. ‘“Amore mio, ti ha detto nulla Mantegazza?”’ L’Espresso 25 (24) (1979):146–55. Meregalli, Franco. ‘Paolo Mantegazza e l’America.’ Rassegna di iberistica 79 (February 2004): 67–8. Millefiorini, Federica. ‘Quattro lettere inedite di Paolo Mantegazza a Edmondo De Amicis.’ Rivista di letteratura italiana 2–3 (2001): 173–86. Misano, Grazia. ‘Paolo Mantegazza: mito e realtà del “senatore erotico.”’ In ‘Trivialliteratur?’ Letterature di massa e di consumo, ed. AA. VV. Trieste: LINT, 1979. Pp. 301–36. Papini, Giovanni. Passato remoto 1885–1914. Florence: Ponte alle Grazie, 1984. Pardini, Edoardo, and Sandra Mainardi. ‘Il Museo Psicologico di Paolo Mantegazza.’ Archivio per l’antropologia e l’etnologia 121 (1991): 137-84. Pasini, Walter. Paolo Mantegazza, ovvero L’elogio dell’eclettismo. Rimini: Panozzo Editore, 1999.


Suggestions for Further Reading

Pireddu, Nicoletta. ‘Paolo Mantegazza.’ In Biographical Dictionary of Literary Influences: The Nineteenth Century, 1800–1914, ed. J. Powell and D. Blakeley. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2000. Pp. 273–4. – ‘The Anthropological Roots of Italian Cultural Studies.’ In Italian Cultural Studies, ed. Graziella Parati, and Ben Lawton. Boca Raton, FL: Bordighera, 2001. Pp. 66–88. – Ethnos/Hedone/Ethos: Paolo Mantegazza, antropologo delle passioni.’ In Pireddu, Antropologi alla corte della bellezza: decadenza ed economia simbolica nell’Europa fin de siècle. Verona: Fiorini, 2002. Pp. 131–84. – ‘Primitive Marks of Modernity: Cultural Reconfigurations in the Franco-Italian fin de siècle.’ Romanic Review 97 (2006): 3–4. Special issue, ‘Italy and France: Imagined Geographies.’ Pp. 371–400. Portinari, Folco. ‘Amore e igiene nello scenario delle isole tropicali.’ In Portinari, Le parabole del reale. Torino: Einaudi, 1976. Pp. 129–35. Puccini, Sandra. ‘Il terreno della ricerca e le due anime dell’etnoantropologia. Dall’Argentina di Paolo Mantegazza al Gran Ciaco di Guido Boggiani (1854–1901).’ In Puccini, Andare lontano. Viaggi ed etnografia nel secondo Ottocento. Rome: Carocci, 1999. Pp. 225–71. Reynaudi, Carlo. Paolo Mantegazza, note biografiche. Milan: Treves, 1893. Riccardi, Paolo. Saggio di un catalogo bibliografico antropologico italiano. Modena: Vincenzi, 1883. Roda, Vittorio. ‘Tra scienza e fantascienza: il cervello umano in alcuni scrittori postunitari.’ In Roda, I fantasmi della ragione. Napoli: Liguori, 1996. Pp. 125–60. Russo, Luigi. I narratori (1850–1950). Milan: Principato, 1951. Sanguineti, Edoardo. Giornalino secondo 1976–1977. Torino: Einaudi, 1979. Sergi, Giuseppe. ‘Paolo Mantegazza.’ Nuova antologia (16 September 1910): 231–3. Starr, Frederick. ‘Sketch of Paolo Mantegazza.’ Popular Science Monthly 43 (1893): 549–51. Ternois, Ren. ‘Deux admirateurs italiens de Zola: P. Mantegazza et S. Sighele.’ Les cahiers naturalistes 28 (1965): 162–73. Zavaroni, Adolfo, ed. Dizionario di sesso, amore e voluttà dagli scritti di Paolo Mantegazza. Milan: Gabriele Mazzotta Editore, 1979.


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The Physiology of Love

By DR PAOLO MANTEGAZZA Author of ‘The Physiology of Pleasure,’ ‘The Physiology of Sorrow,’ ‘The Hygiene of Love,’ ‘Pictures of Human Nature,’ etc., etc.

‘ … Questa cara gioia Sovra la quale ogni virtù si fonda’ – Dante ‘ … This sweet joy The foundation of every virtue’ – Dante


Cleveland Publishing Company 19 Union Square New York

Copyright, 1894, by The Cleveland Publishing Company, 19 Union Square, New York. (All rights reserved.)

To the daughters of Eve, that they may teach men that love is not lechery, nor the simony of voluptuousness, but a joy that dwells in the highest and holiest regions of the terrestrial paradise, that they may make it the highest prize of virtue, the most glorious conquest of genius, the first force of human progress – The Author

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Preface To the Reader

Love has always seemed to me the most powerful and the least studied of the human affections: surrounded by a triple selvedge of prejudice, of mystery, and of hypocrisy, civilized men know it too often by way of stealth and degradation. Poets, artists, philosophers, legislators snatch at times from the great god a piece of his garments, or of his flesh, and hurry away to conceal it as a precious booty of forbidden fruit. To study it as a phenomenon of life and as a gigantic force which appears under a thousand different phases in the various races and in the various epochs; to study it as an element of the health of the individual and of the generations, has seemed to me a great undertaking; I consider even the attempt laudable. Three books have been the offspring of this thought of mine. The first is The Physiology of Love, a series of analyses of the chief affection; it is a study of love in our modern society, and as it should be in a better one. In ‘The Loves of Men’ (‘Pictures of Human Nature’), I will attempt an ethnography, an anthropological study of love, from the lowest races up to ourselves, who occupy the highest branches of the human tree. In ‘The Hygiene of Love,’1 I will give an essay on the art of loving, wherewith the greatest voluptuousness accords with the greatest good of the individual and of future generations. I hope to be able to complete this trilogy of love: of you I ask the patience to follow me in the long and fatiguing journey. the author

1 As was observed here in the 1894 English edition, both books had since been published, as Gli amori degli uomini, saggio di etnologia dell’amore and Igiene dell’amore, and had had an enormous sale on the Continent. Mantegazza ultimately kept the title ‘Pictures of Human Nature’ for a different volume, Quadri della natura umana. Feste ed ebbrezze. [Editor].

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Chapter 1 General Physiology of Love


Chapter 2 Love in Plants and Animals


Chapter 3 The First Rays of Love – Good and Evil Sources of Love Chapter 4 The First Weapons of Love – Courtship


Chapter 5 Modesty 143 Chapter 6 The Virgin 149 Chapter 7 Conquest and Voluptuousness


Chapter 8 How Love Is Preserved and How Love Dies Chapter 9 The Depths and the Heights of Love





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Chapter 10 The Sublime Childishness of Love


Chapter 11 Boundaries of Love – Their Relations to the Senses


Chapter 12 Boundaries of Love – Their Relations to the Other Sentiments – Jealousy 198 Chapter 13 Boundaries of Love – Their Relations to Thought Chapter 14 Chastity in Its Relations to Love



Chapter 15 Love in Sex 219 Chapter 16 Love in Youth and Age


Chapter 17 Love in the Temperaments – Different Ways of Loving Chapter 18 The Hell of Love


Chapter 19 The Degradations of Love


Chapter 20 The Faults and Crimes of Love


Chapter 21 The Rights and Duties of Love



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Chapter 22 The Compacts of Love – Aphorisms on Matrimony


Chapter 23 Fragments of a Code on the Art of Loving and Being Loved


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Chapter 1

General Physiology of Love

It is now many years since I wrote that to live means to nourish oneself and generate, and the deeper I cast the sounding line into the dark abysses of life the more I persuade myself that in the above definition are faithfully pictured the most salient characteristics of all creatures which, from the bacteria to man, come to life, multiply, and die on the face of our planet. If, however, I wished to simplify my idea, reducing life to its simplest and most essential form, I would say that to live means to generate. Every living body is perishable, but before death it has the power of reproducing the form that had rendered it capable of living; and that whirlwind which absorbs and rejects, which assimilates new atoms and repulses old ones, and which represents so clearly the eternal picture of life in all its manifestations, is also the most faithful portrait of every form of generation. Nutrition is a real genesis, and in the great chemical laboratory of living beings we have always before our eyes the reproduction of histological elements of organs and individuals. A nail falls off and a new one takes its place; this is the reproduction of an organ. We generate children similar to ourselves; this is the reproduction of an entire organism, the true generation. But in one of our offspring we behold repeated the mole on our nose; this is the reproduction of an organ within an organism. On the other hand, one race generates another race, one species generates another species; and here is a broader genesis through which from the reproduction of a cellule by another cellule we gradually pass to the generating of an organ, an individual, a race, a species. The world of the living is a gigantic tree, and from its trunk shoot forth the branches of the classes, orders, species. On the branches appear the leaves which are the individuals; but each one of these


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generates in itself many cellules, true organisms in greater ones. The world of the living is but a great laboratory of fecundity, of incessant generation. Cellules generate cellules; organs, organs; species, species. An intimate brotherhood makes us members of one great organism. Of the placenta of the living; and between us we exchange the same matter which each in turn contributes to the work of apparent destruction called nutrition, and to those works of reproduction termed generation. To nourish themselves and to generate, the living are continually exchanging a part of their own matter, which, in passing from one to another organism, seems to become renovated and revivified. On the one hand, we have seaweeds that live on mushrooms, carnivorous animals that feed on herbivorous, herbivorous that devour herbs, and, lastly, on the top-most branch of the tree of the living, man who partakes of all: on the other hand, we have males and females that in continuous succession are casting off a part of their matter, repairing their primitive forms. The most elementary form of life is not, however, the cellule, since lower still we find the protoplasm, the true primum vivens,2 which, dividing, generates the individual; and, nourishing itself, who can tell what mysterious genesis of atoms takes place within its most simple organism? The protoplasm cannot live without a continual exchange of matter, so that yesterday’s molecules are dead today, and those alive today will be dead tomorrow; for the same reason, also, nutrition in the last analysis is an intimate and mysterious generation. Caducity of form is one of the most essential characteristics of the living, and we term death the fall of every leaf from the tree of life. Man, also, daily sheds some of these leaves: hair from his head, body; cellules which often produce a secretion and fall off with it. Before death a part of the pre-existing form remains to generate the dead form and recasts the parabolical cycle through which the mother form has passed. This is the most general formula, which embraces all possible generation from that of scission to the highest possible form of sexual genesis. One would say that the life of an individual is but a moment of the great life of the species, of the classes, of the kingdoms of nature; it is a spark which shoots forth intermittently, passing from one organism to another.

2 The first thing that lives [Editor]

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Powerful and irresistible is the tendency to generate; in most cases the individual sacrifices himself consciously, or he is unconsciously sacrificed by the laws of nature, provided that before death he transmits life to others. The individual perishes to preserve the species! Through death to life! is the eternal cry of nature, which men and infusoria,3 mushroom and oak alike must obey. If the individual possesses preservative instincts and organs of defence, the species has a hundred bulwarks, a thousand ways of watchfulness, an excessive means of protection. And indeed, living beings generate so quickly that one species alone would invade the earth if the various circles of expansion, meeting, did not combat in turn, like the circles which appear on the tranquil mirror of the lake when a handful of sand is thrown into the waters by a little child on the shore. Apart from the way in which life is transmitted, there is a quantity of life that passes away, there is so much fecundity, and this might seem, at first glance, most capricious, whereas it is governed by the laws of preservation. To be born and to die – fecundity and mortality – are so closely allied to each other that we can consider them as different phases of the same phenomenon, as the action and reaction of life. When the reproduction increases beyond measure, then also increase the dangers for the generated individuals, and destruction gathers in the excessive number of little ones. Now the food is no longer sufficient for the offspring; now the parasites and enemies of the species are in excess, and these, increasing in turn, establish an equilibrium. The destructive force and the diverting balance alternately, as is the case with many other powers simpler and better known. The Malthusian problem, however, is much more complex. If all species were equally prolific and of equal longevity, the problem would be reduced, in fact, to a question of space and aliment; but the duration of life and the degrees of fecundity establish in turn an equilibrium by other means. If the reproduction of mice were as slow as that of man, they would all be destroyed before another generation could be born; and even if they could live fifteen or sixteen years, perhaps not one of

3 Single-celled animals [Editor].


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them would ever attain that age, surviving all dangers. So, on the other hand, if oxen multiplied in the same proportion as infusoria, the entire species would die of hunger in a week. The individual must preserve himself and generate other individuals in order to preserve the organic form. Now these powers must vary inversely. If the individual by reason of his simple organization is little adapted to resist danger, he must make up for his weakness by reaction, generating profusely. If, instead, high qualities give him a great capacity for self-defence, then he should accordingly diminish his fecundity. Given danger as a positive quantity (inasmuch as the capacity for resistance should be equal in all species) and this union of two factors, the faculty to maintain individual life and the power to multiply these cannot but vary in an opposite sense. This simple and sublime law, which Herbert Spencer read in the great book of nature, is one among those that govern with the most tenacious tyranny the elementary phenomena of reproduction, as also the highest and most complex of human loves. In the Diatomaceae4 the fecundity by scission is gigantic. Smith calculates that a single frustule5 can produce a thousand million individuals in one month. A young Gonium, capable of scission after twenty-four hours, can produce 268,435,456 individuals in a week, equal to itself. At other times the process of multiplication is not that of scission, but an endogenous one, as with the Volvox;6 but the reproduction is always extraordinary. If all generated individuals survived, a Paramecium7 would produce 268,000,000 individuals in the course of a month. Another microscopic animal can produce 170,000,000,000 in four days. The Gordius 8 lays 8,000,000 eggs in less than a day. An African termite deposits 80,000 eggs in twenty-four hours; and Eschricht counted 64,000,000 eggs in the female Ascaris lumbricoides.9

4 A family of algae, made up of microscopic plants found in fresh and salt water. [Editor]. 5 A tissue sample obtained with a biopsy. The Rev. William Smith (1808–57) published A Synopsis of the British Diatomaceae (1853–6)[Editor]. 6 Gonium, Volvox: green algae [Editor]. 7 A small unicellular organism commonly found in freshwater ponds [Editor]. 8 A worm usually found in areas near water [Editor]. 9 An intestinal roundworm, one of the most common parasites found in humans. Daniel Frederik Eschricht (1798–1863) was a Danish physiologist and zoologist [Editor].

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If, from the minute microscopic creatures exposed to every danger and which consume so little matter, if from these living atoms of which you could enclose within your fists as many as there are men on the earth, you pass to the elephant, you have a giant of flesh that requires thirty years of life to become prolific, and then, after a long gestation, produces but one of its kind. And above the elephant you have that giant of thought, man, who takes the third part of his life to reproduce himself and after nine long months generates but one child; and what is worse, he sees cut down before his eyes one half of the generated before they have borne either flower or seed. The methods of transmitting life are many, since in no other function has nature been so inexhaustible regarding forms as in that of generation; but as we are treating in these pages of the general physiology of love, we will reduce the various generative forms to the following few: Separation or scission. The individual bursts asunder in two parts, and each of these, being rendered independent, produces a generator. It is the most simple form of genesis, in which the functions of reproduction are not distinct from the other functions, but are confounded with them. Endogenesis. Within an individual many other individuals are formed: the parent opens itself, and, destroying its own individuality, becomes dissolved in its offspring. The individual generates, of itself alone, other individuals. The parent generates with special organs and without dissolving itself in the offspring. The generated are eggs, seed – perfect organisms; but in every case these are elements elaborated by special organs. The generative function is marked and distinct; it is a laboratory which detaches and prepares some of the elements of the individual in order to reproduce the same. Monoic sexual generation. A degree higher, the generative laboratory becomes complicated, and is divided in two parts, one of which fabricates the egg, the other the fructifying element. Each, independently of the other, prepares the element destined for the reproduction of the individual; but if both do not come in contact, the new being is not generated; we have the sexes well defined, but enclosed within a single individual. But, strange to say, there are individuals that produce an egg which cannot be fructified by their seed, that produce a seed which is of no service to the egg. A double embrace of two hermaphrodites which


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interweave a quadruple love, or the appearance of the winds, of insects, of birds, as fecundatory paranymphs, resolves these problems of a most singular generation. Dioic sexual generation. – Finally, the generating organs are detached and fixed upon a single individual, sterile in itself, which produces but one of the generating elements, and which, therefore, must be joined to the other in order that united they may reproduce the new creature, the sum of two individualities, the male and female, father and mother. Man loves in two; but although like the other superior animals he is favoured with a dioic sexual generation, still in his tissues he possesses also the genesis endogenus and scission; he presents likewise in this regard the remains of the elementary forms of life enclosed within himself. In this rapid course through all the forms of generation, we behold delineated the same laws with which nature governs the other functions. New forces gradually appear, and new organs come forth to represent the subdivision of the work. First, it is the entire individual that generates, then an organ of the individual, two organs in the same individual, two organs in separate individuals. In the many forms of genesis the singularity of the plan is more than conspicuous; and we who are superior to all living creatures, while like the amoeba we contain in our protoplasms, scattered all through our bodies, the faculty to generate, we behold in man and woman the two laboratories divided which prepare the seed and the human egg. While the pathology of love in many forms of lechery shows the last remains of a promiscuous hermaphroditism, fancy, which outruns science, causes us to divine how in more complex creatures the sexes can be more than two, and generation presents a more profound subdivision of work; thus, as in the cynical and sceptical distinctions of platonic and sensual love and of the more ardent polygamy of the heart and senses, we behold in the distance other rays, which disclose to us the horizon of new and monstrous possibilities; some reaching the supersensitive, others as base and brutal as the most deplorable retrogression of ancient times. When the science of the future will permit our children’s children to collect all the phenomena of nature, from the most elementary to the most complex, from the simplest motion of a molecule to the flash of

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the most sublime genius, in an uninterrupted chain of facts, then, perhaps, the prime origin of love will be sought in the physical elements of dissimilar atoms which seek each other and unite, and with opposite motion generate an equilibrium. The positive-electric body seeks the negative, the acid seeks the base, and in this conjunction, with rapid development of light, heat, and electricity, new bodies are formed, new equilibriums are settled; and it seems that nature, renewing her forces and becoming rejuvenated, prepares herself for new compositions and new loves. And is not love the combination of two dissimilar atoms which seek each other and unite notwithstanding all the opposing forces of heaven and earth? And thus as the molecule of potassium snatches away the oxygen from the water with immense development of light and heat, is not the union of those two molecules called man and woman accompanied by a hurricane of passion, by flashes of genius, by infinite ardour? Do we not behold a pandemonium of physical and psychical forces which condense, contract, and equilibrate around that point in which a man and a woman are attracted the one toward the other to rejuvenate the human matter and relight the torch of life? A particular motion arising in the ovary and in the testicle there accumulates in the nervous centres such a powerful energy as to bring, eventually, the masculine element into contact with the feminine, so that the generative germs produced in the slow laboratory of two different organisms become reunited in that nest, the maternal womb, where the fecundated egg must transform itself into a human being. The poet and the metaphysician may give of love whatever definition they choose: science has but one. Love is the energy which must bring into contact the egg and the seed: without ovary and without testicle there can be no love. The progressive movement called generation is so powerful that it can oppose and also destroy the minor motion – the preservation of the individual; and while each individual revolves around himself, he is carried forward through time and space with a movement a hundred times more powerful and irresistible. The first motion represents the life of the individual, guarded by egotism; the second is the great life of the species, defended by love.


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The most superficial study of the generative functions will convince us that love is always a phenomenon of the highest chemistry, in which the generating atoms, in order to combine, must be neither too similar nor vice versa. Scarcely has the sex appeared in animals when we have in the same individual, but in two distinct laboratories, formations of two generative elements. Sex, which at a first glance seems to us one of the deepest mysteries of life, is but a laboratory which attracts to itself the generated elements of every part of the organism, and preserves them in order to infuse them into other elements similar but not equal, generated in another laboratory, the opposite sex. When the two generative laboratories are separated in two distinct organisms, probably the greater is the diversity of their germs. If in individuals that bear a close resemblance but are of different races we unite the generative organs, we will probably still have fecundity; while if we pass to a different species it will be more difficult; if we pass to a different genus it will be generally impossible. But let us set aside the words genus and species, which, in nature, have not the value assigned them in our museums and in our books, and let us take from the world of the living a fistful of animals just as they come, so that brothers, cousins, nephews will pass through our hands, individuals of the same species, classes, genus, of distinct orders, and let us place them in file according to their similarity. Now then, if we should try to couple them to study their spontaneous loves, we would find cases of sterility in creatures too much alike and vice versa. Therefore, generation moves between two opposite poles, too great similarity and too great dissimilarity. Hence, a woman with a moustache, atrophied breasts, and deep voice remains sterile when coupled with a robust man. They do not generate because they too closely resemble each other. A dog and a cat are sterile because they are too dissimilar. Nature says to the living, ‘If you wish to love be neither too similar nor too dissimilar.’ Let us seek to discover the reason of this law. Germs that are too similar cannot fructify in turn, or they fructify badly, perhaps by reason of the same law of elementary chemistry which repels bodies equally electrified, and which resemble each other too closely in their physical and chemical characteristics. Try the combination of sulphur with phosphorus, of iodine with bromide, and, on the other hand, observe the ardent loves of chlorine with hydrogen, of potassium with oxygen.

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The impregnation of two different organisms is then, in a sense, a direct energy; it is the sum of equal resistances; while two different quantities, which may, however, be united, give a greater number of opposite resistances and therefore a greater possibility of living and opposing external enemies. An individual is the sum of many victories over foreign elements, the result of many and infinite adaptations to the atmosphere which surrounds him. Two individuals dissimilar but not enough so to impede generation, represent the summary of adaptations to those victories by which the new creature has the possibility of resistance and fewer dangers to encounter. Select for a dangerous expedition into the interior of Africa twelve men as similar as possible, all healthy, all robust, all of the same degree and form of intelligence. Or send twelve other selected men, some slender, others stout, in whom all the powers of the mind and all the various temperaments are represented; let the one be fanciful, the other prudent; one an able architect, another a distinguished chemist. Which of the two expeditions will succeed in attaining the difficult end in view? It is much easier to explain why two dissimilar forms cannot love. This impossibility is one of the most powerful means of preserving the living forms, so varied among themselves, in those conditions useful to their existence. When a living being has gone forth from the struggle of life, when he has bent himself to external agents and enemies in a certain way, he transmits himself to future generations with that form and that nature which are the fruit of a long and successful battle. It is precisely for the same reason that a herbivorous animal, which is the offspring of another that had nourished its flesh with herbs, can only increase and multiply, feeding itself on herbs. Imagine, for a moment, that to the organs and tissues of the herbivorous animal there would be soldered organs and tissues nourished by flesh. What disorders would not arise? A fragment of the carnivorous animal shut up in the organism with teeth to chew herbs, gastric juices to digest herbs, intestinal tubes to assimilate herbs, and olfactory nerves which discover with joy leaves and flowers. The apparent stability of the species, which resolves itself, in fact, in a slow modification, is therefore but the unavoidable necessity for male and female to pour into the crucible of generation elements that can combine, metals that can blend, forming a homogeneous league and compact.


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Pass with a bound from the elementary physics of generation to the most ardent sympathies, to the joining together of human characters in the nest of love, and you will see that the same law governs every one of those facts. Be neither too similar nor too dissimilar. Love is the sum of analogous but not identical forces; it is the complement of complements; it is the square of squares; it admits of neither subtraction nor division. At every step in our studies we see reproduced in the high spheres of amorous phenomena, the same laws which govern generation or socalled physical love. For us, love is simply a function which, to be understood, must not be barbarously mutilated and divided, so that one part of its members is consigned to the laboratory of physiology and the other let remain in the studio of philosophy. Love is that energy which rises from the lowest grades of the most automatic instinct to the highest regions of the supersensitive. Perhaps no other physical element strikes more opposite poles. Compare the love of the Australian who beats to death the first woman he finds in the forest and possesses her, with the love of St Teresa for a Man-God. Call to mind the worship of a VirginMother, and the adoration of the Mandowessies10 of North America for a woman who, after having invited forty of the principal warriors of her tribe, made every one of them her husband in a single night. Think of the shepherd of the Apennines who loved a goat, and of Heine, who, when dying, had to be brought to the Louvre to see once more the Venus de Milo; and you will have a pallid idea of the frontiers against which battles this ardent, tenacious, violent, multiform passion called love. While in the field of chemical facts generation marks the highest point of molecular chemistry, in the psychological field, love strikes the summit of the ideal. It is the force of forces, rising when man is strongest, setting when years have weakened him. Love is the joy of joys, it is the basis of every desire, of all riches, of every horizon of delights; it is always the highest aim. In every human sky love is the brightest star; it is the sun of every horizon. It is the strongest, richest, most human passion. In all forms of generation, whether agamous or sexual, by scission or endogenesis; whether we compare the son with the father or with the

10 A Native American tribe [Editor].

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Adam of long ago, we behold the generated which preserves a part of the last or of the first generator; so that the moto11 communicated from the first to the last generation is transmitted without interruption. Take the Adam of the Bible or the Adam of progressive evolution, the clay breathed into by a God or the Darwinian ascidian12 – each one of us contains within himself a material part of the first man or proto-parent, so that an immense brotherhood unites all living beings. To the divination of the poet who, in contemplating the flowery meadows, the forests, the buzzing of insects, was deeply affected and cried out, ‘O Mother Nature!’ science answers harmoniously on beholding a quantity of matter and a quantity of life transmitted from one to the other of those organisms called individuals. To every death responds a birth, and within us vibrate tremblingly the molecules that have passed through millions of existences and millions of loves. If love is the most intense and the most human of passions, it is also the richest. To its altars every faculty of the mind bears its tribute, every throb of the heart its ardour. Every vice and every virtue, every shame and every heroism, every torture and every lechery, every flower and every fruit, every balsam and every poison may be brought to the temple of love. Everything human can be overturned in the whirlwind of love; and man frequently regrets that he has but one life to offer in holocaust to this god. And still this gigantic force is the least governed of all the passions. It would seem that in its presence man feels himself too little, too weak; and as the savage falls on his knees before the lightning, or weeps, or flees, so civilized man, even today, is terrified in the presence of this sovereign force and acknowledges his impotency and ignorance. In the delirium of voluptuousness, in the storms of desperation, he permits himself to be carried away by a force which he considers too superior to reason, too powerful in comparison with his weakness. He writes timidly in his code, laws which he violates every day; infamous punishments which the jury always cancel; and a dense nebula of ignorance surrounds the temple which he enters almost always as a thief and

11 Movement [Editor]. 12 A kind of sea squirt [Editor].


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from which he is frequently rejected. Our amorous legislation is a miserable union of hypocrisy and lechery, and as we know not how to look love in the face, we disguise it with the garments of buffoonery and prostitution. Our laws are so perfect that many dare not love and very many cannot love, and while we weep for the few victims of hunger, we shrug our shoulders at the hundred thousand who die in celibacy, not having been able to make their nests, and we laugh at the million celibates who know nothing of love save masturbation and prostitution. In the presence of love we are all still more or less savage – exceedingly brutal before the greatest of human forces. However, even love must be conquered like all the other forces in nature; and without losing a particle of its energy, or a flower from its garland, it too must be governed by science, which understands and directs all things. The lightning which prostrates the savage in the dust of fear is guided by us with the small cord of the conductor, gilds the charms of our women, and transmits our thoughts from one hemisphere to the other. Now then, that other lightning, which, more powerful and more dangerous, explodes in the hurricane of the human heart, must be guided and reduced to a living force that measures, weighs, and governs itself. Love should be the dearest, the most precious, the most powerful of civilized forces. No other passion can aspire to primacy where it appears; no other can solve the sublime problem of uniting the greatest voluptuousness with the greatest virtue, of generating the welfare of the future with the joy of the living, of transmitting civilization to posterity in the spasm of a fond embrace. This modest book of mine aims to pay its tribute, so that in the near future we may see a more moral and a wiser legislation of love.

Chapter 2

Love in Plants and Animals

Every day and every hour, Arcadians, metaphysicians, and all adorers of the past curse the modern custom of comparing human beings to creatures beneath us in the natural order; and they hurl anathemas against this absurd and sacrilegious profanation of the Man-God. Anatomical, physiological, and psychological comparisons are for these gentlemen but different forms of a strange aberration of the human mind, something capricious and morbid which, by the continual comparison of man and beast, turns us into brutes, prostitutes us, and sends us back with renewed insanity to the bestial Olympus of men soldered with animal members and human grafts made in the flesh of a Man-God. According to the above high and self-possessed gentlemen, these are psychological maladies which should not be discussed, but cured by contempt and ridicule; they are the hysterics of thought, which disappear with the generation that saw them come forth from the corrupt entrails of the human family. Unctuous, lymphatic, tearful defenders of the past, save your scorn for nobler causes, return to the shell of your profound meditations, for the worship of the ideal is not your privilege, and the daily progress of experimental science elevates it so that our arms can scarcely reach to embrace it, weary as they are from the long battles of civilization. No, man does not lower himself by a comparison with the beings which are the matrix that gave him birth; he does not abase himself by scenting the earth which you call clay, and which is ever the skeleton that holds you upright and furnishes you the matter for your psychological aberrations. In these comparisons you see only the grosser part, the material approach of high and low forms, of the highest and lowest types, while in the scientific comparison there is an archaeo which you too should


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admire. Superficial, even when you wish to be profound, you see in the things of nature but the varnish, and the further you penetrate into the obscure labyrinth, the less you perceive that you are hollowing out a shell from which the seed has already been extracted. From the trunk of science, which, as once yours, the wood and the pith have gone forth, leaving in your hands but a dry and sterile bark. Moths of the rind of things lament a past that work of man can never call back to life. The true metaphysics (if this word still has any signification) are founded on modern science, which, in the boldest comparisons of the simplest things with the most complex, of the smallest with the greatest, extracts the subtle from the subtle, and under the many-coloured larvae of form reveals the only law that governs them. We are going to seek in the limbo of the living the first crepuscles of the highest human things, and, bowing the head modestly before the great simplicity of laws which govern and mould such a wealth of forms, let us return to the reality of things, neither dejected nor abashed, but contented to have known how to read the notes of harmony which are written in the world of dwarfs and giants. It will satisfy our pride, after many comparisons, to find ourselves the first among all living beings; and the cosmic brotherhood will enchant us with joyful poetry, and elevate us to an ideal which, amid clouds and incense, you fabricated in your temples of the supersensitive. No spectacle in nature is more splendid, more admirable, than that of the loves of plants and animals. With a less number of notes nature could not write music more fascinating; and no other phenomenon of life can resemble that of generation in profusion of forms, in prodigality of artifices, in inexhaustible fancy of mechanism. One would say that there where the reproductive germs are attracted; there where life concentrates the better part of itself to become revivified by another effort, new and strange energies are developed, and the forces of nature appear in the most gigantic form, with the most pompous luxury. In every other function, nature, like an economical stewardess, seeks the useful and often contents herself with the necessary, simplifies the mechanisms, takes away the attritions, and in the simplest way attains her end. On the contrary, the good and true do not suffice for generation: the simple humiliates nature, and surrounding the nest of love by a profusion of aesthetic elements, she exhausts every resource to prepare

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a feast for the life which is renewed. It is around a flower that the most exquisite beauty of form, the most inebriating seductions of perfume, the most varied tints of the painter’s palette are interwoven. How many treasures of aesthetic forces in a lily and in a rose! And all this luxury to celebrate the love of a day, the love of an hour; and all the splendour of a nuptial robe, a thousand times more beautiful than human industry could ever produce, to veil the virginal kiss of an anther and a pistil! And springing with a bound from the rose and lily to the summits of the animal world, how many splendours of fancy, how many meteors of passion to weave a garland for the kiss of a man and a woman! Take a flying walk some fine spring day among the blooming beds of a garden, among the thousand amorous corollas of the flowers; shake the stern boughs of the pine and cypress; plunge your feet in the soft carpet bathed with vallisneria;13 cast a penetrating glance into the humid recesses of the barks and into the mossy labyrinths of granite; and everywhere a warm sprinkling of pollen, spore, and anthers will tell your heart that in the vegetable world, among the perfumes of the corollas and the emeralds of the seaweeds, love exists in a thousand forms, and the atmosphere is charged with all the warm, inebriating sparks which, on the wings of the winds and insects and in the rays of the sun, cast everywhere an amorous, voluptuous wave. The flowers love mutely in the soft perfume of their corollas, but in many of them silence does not prevent warm kisses and fervent embraces. Many plants, although always immobile, have convulsions in their flower; others, though cold, become heated in the calyx of their loves. They often love only once a year; but what a profusion of embraces, what a fecundity of pollen and seed! Shake with your hand a single branch of the juniper tree, or of the blooming pine, and you will immediately darken the air with a cloud of fruitful dust. Entire forests love but once, and for miles and miles they fill the air with voluptuous odours; frequently the winds transport the pollen to the clouds, and the wanton rain bathes and purifies the atmosphere, tinting everything with the amorous dust.

13 Eel grass [Editor].


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And knowing naught of jealousy or rancour, in the shade of the flowering pines, and among the stems of the enamoured flowers, in every blade of grass, in every cavern of the mountain, in every fissure of the rock, in every tuft of seaweed, in the deep waves of the ocean, and in the drops of water oozing from the ice, in the obscurity of the mines and in the azure vault above us, the animals interweave their loves; so that in every part of the globe, and in every hour of the day and night, every ray of the sun fires and witnesses millions of kisses, while every ray of the moon guides the nocturnal lovers to a thousand and more intimate embraces. If a leaf falls every moment from the tree of life and dies, each moment witnesses the birth of a new bud, and for every bud how many embraces, for every newborn how many loves! The flowers planted in the ground of a cemetery seem to me the choicest form of devotion to the dead; for if our planet is a vast cemetery, where every atom of time buries a once living atom, it is also a nest of love, in which every zephyr bears to the ear a sigh of voluptuousness, and where the harmony of the ether, dreamed of by the ancient poets, is, perhaps, but the sum of all the kisses which living creatures exchange. Oh why is it that in the space of the infinite our ear cannot catch every caress that is given and received in the world of the living? Oh, why cannot our eyes surprise every kiss which the dove gives to its mate? Why can we not be mute and timid witnesses of every neigh, every roar, every bellow, every hymn of love which the living intone to nature in order to thank her for having made them capable of loving? If, in the study of generation, the anatomist and the physiologist discover precious materials to mark the highest laws of the morphology of the living, the psychologist finds delineated in the loves of brutes almost all the elements that man embraces under his robust wings. No other function is more adapted than love for contemplation of the unique type and the infinite legions of its forms, for admiration of a unique conceit turned into a thousand different languages. Scarcely has sex made its appearance, when the male quickly distinguishes himself by his aggressive character. With few exceptions it is the male that seeks, conquers, retains the prey. Run over the pages of the last work of Darwin on sexual selection,14 and you will see how many 14 The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex (London, 1871) – Darwin [Author].

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weapons nature has given to males to conquer and retain their companions. Even in plants it is the pollen which goes in search of the ovulum, and the ovulum that awaits the spark that is to fructify it. Likewise in the most simple animal forms, where the male and female live and die in the spot that witnessed their birth, it is the virile element which is always borne there where the germ awaits it. And this is the first dogma that governs the religion of love in the entire animate world; and when all humanity laughs at the chaste Joseph,15 and when all higher races look with contempt upon the woman who makes advances and the man who flees, they only protest against the violation of one of the most imperious laws from which men and molluscs, women and pistils, cannot exempt themselves. Man is the recapitulation of all the forms of living nature; so that we are frequently tempted to affirm that the human being is the greatest synthesis of all the minor forms of the living, and that he is precisely the first because he contains within himself all the forces from the secondary to the highest; and this we observe also in the psychical elements of his loves. Pigeons, although various breeds are intermingled, are seldom unfaithful to their companions; and even when the male, in a rare whim, breaks the vow of fidelity, he quickly returns to the loyal nuptial bed of his mate. Darwin kept a number of pigeons of various breeds shut up in the same place for a long time, and there was never a bastard among them. Now then, do you not find in man splendid examples of the most faithful monogamy? And is it not the social basis of almost all the superior races? The antelope of southern Africa has a dozen mates, and the Saiga antelope of Asia counts them by the hundred. Now then, have you not Solomon, have you not the lesser and hypocritical polygamies of modern society, and the bold and most splendid ones of the Orientals? Have you not in man, as in very many animals, females who submit to love as a duty and males on whom it must be imposed? Have you not libertinism side by side with chastity? Have we not in our own world all the lasciviousness, all the ardours, all the lecherous possibilities of the animal kingdom? 15 The biblical Joseph, the son of Jacob, sold by his brothers and taken to Egypt as a slave [Editor].


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And if some one were tempted to believe that vices contrary to nature are a sad privilege of humanity, I would remind him of the strange whims of incest and masturbation observed in many animals; I would remind him that many brutes, monogamous in savage life, become polygamous in quiet domestic life, thus reflecting an image of corruption similar to that produced by men in civilized society. Several fulminating forms of love, which last as long as the lightning flash, are of frequent occurrence among men, as also the cold and lingering kisses of many insects are amorous practices of various human temperaments. And burning, cruel jealousies, bloody battles are scenes common to men and brutes; nor is dying for love the exclusive privilege of man. The few and coarse passions of animals are all brought as a holocaust to the altar of generation, while man brings there all the warm desires of his rich nature, all the infinite forces which he has drawn from the great womb of the living, and which he has increased a hundredfold with the accumulations of his centuple civilization. The chaffinch in the strife of the amorous love song frequently falls from the tree upon which he intones his erotic hymn, killed by a pulmonary apoplexy; so, many a poet beholds the lyre of his genius and the cord of his life snap asunder at the feet of a woman. In the silence of the shady woods the exhausted nightingale swoons away from love and fatigue, and dies because he could not vanquish a more fortunate rival by the melody and strength of his notes. And hundreds and hundreds of times in the obscure labyrinths of life, the human lover dies in the battles of unhappy love, dies because he could not sing louder and more sweetly than his rival. Nor is coquetry the special prerogative of the human female. No woman in the world will ever know how to imitate the perfidious art with which a canary resists the impatient desires of her companion; and the thousand travesties with which in the feminine world a yes is concealed under a no are all pallid imitations of the fine coquetry, of the pretended escapes, of the loving bites, of the hundred thousand coaxings of the animal world. As to the aesthetic elements which nature diffuses in the loves of living beings, they are such and so many that the richest palette would not suffice to represent them, nor voice of poet to describe them. Here are some pictures from my poor gallery.

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I The hottest hour of a July day! I am strolling along the deserted shore of the Adriatic, inhaling the hot, stifling air of a nature which seems plunged in deep lethargy. There is not a breeze, not a leaf is stirring, and I would not know where to find leaves in a land all sand, now level, now hilly, and here and there rugged with withered thorns and sea-holly which would seem to be made of pasteboard rather than of the soft tissues of plants. Every force of living nature seems spent, every animal hidden, every sound hushed, and even the waves of the restless sea are weary and have given themselves to repose. My wandering foot that longs to traverse every land, every wave, every desert is the only living thing in the midst of this furnace, and passes along, leaving on the hot damp shore the frail footprints of a man. I too am drowsy, I do not perceive that my feet are getting wet and have barely time to stop in front of a rivulet that crosses my path. It is a noiseless stream that scarcely furrows the sands of the sea and is blended with it without a kiss or a shock arising from the meeting of the two waters. That vein of water, so slow, so hot, is at the same time so lazy that scarcely does it encounter a shell or a pebble in its course than it deviates, and goes winding about seeking a softer and easier path. Before the gentle stream poured its sluggish lymph into the sea, that vein divided and subdivided infinitely, forming a large fan of a hundred little veins, many of which died away in the sand before reaching the great heart of the earth. I have halted my steps and am looking at my feet, which are gradually becoming immersed in the soft sponge of that anonymous delta, omitted from all the maps of Italy, when in the islands of sand formed by the diverging stream I perceive an insect, two insects, many insects flying about rapidly, alighting on the scorching sand and then darting away to scintillate in the rays of the sun. I am happy to know that I am not alone, and I already love that companion which, like myself, does not fear this burning desert nor the silence of the hour muter than the hours of night. To see it, to desire it, to wound it is the work of a single moment: man does not always know how to enter into relations with other creatures, except by giving them imprisonment or death. I too observe this fatal law, and pursue with my stick the happy inhabitant of these desolate,


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Lilliputian islands. I soon perceive that those insects not only live and move, not only amuse themselves and bathe their feet in the hot wave, then dry them in the rays of the sun, but, still more, love, and that more than one of them follows a companion, makes her his own, and transports her with giddy light into heavenly space. They are grey, black, brilliant as metal, and each of their members palpitates, shivers, agitates itself, tormented by two fires. I know not which pleases or stings them the more, the heat of the sand or the ardour of love. A little coquettish female runs quickly over the sand, the male captures her and bears her away to the skies; and there after a rebuff and a flight they descend again to the desert, where a new chase and a new struggle begin. What with the grey, the dust, and the hot sun, I see nothing for a moment but the shining paunch of two enamoured little creatures, brilliant as a cuirass of burnished steel. Has the union of the two fires killed the poor creatures? Has one of them died in the struggle? Has it sunk into the cool vaults of the sand? I see but one creature! Two black, two grey, two shining metallic lights have become blended; they are now but one insect. And I, a cruel man, wish to touch that love, to destroy that scene; and my stick descends upon the happy group and wounds the conqueror. A feeler and a wing are detached; the entrails ooze hot and trembling from the little body, but the lover does not forsake his companion and run away in the sand, agonized with love and pain; he extends his remaining three wings and strives to bear away through the air his companion, whom he wishes to remove from danger, and in the meantime bathes her with his blood. Other more fortunate couples fly about the unhappy pair, helpless to assist them. And I, there in that desert, filled with remorse, regard with admiration such a weak creature, who, although wounded and dying, does not relax his embrace, and whose last agony is lost in the last spasm of love. Even in this burning desert they love, even in this obscure corner of the earth there is a hero of love, and here in this delta of sand there is also a cruel man!16

16 This coleopteron, whose loves I myself have studied, is the Cincindela sylvicola; but many others love in the same way, and although wounded and dying they do not abandon the female [Author].

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II I am in the garden, stretched at full length upon a wall so low that I can inhale voluptuously the soft aroma of the earth, which has just been bathed by a sun shower. I have no carpet under my body, nor pillows beneath my head; my bed is a glittering, rugged slate stone. With one hand extended above the wall I am nipping the petals of a lemon blossom, while with the other I am frightening away the ants that are bustling about in the sandy path. All at once two little shadows, two brown sprites, pass before my eyes and remain in front of me in the middle of the path. They are two children of heaven, all wings, all beauty; the organs of life are reduced to one as fine as a hair (but which sucks the nectar from the flowers) and four gigantic wings to conquer heavenly space. Their hours are numbered; they must love and die, and nature has adapted them to intense love by furnishing them with organs of sense greater than the stomach, organs of beauty greater than the entrails. They are butterflies, but I know not to what species they belong, and I am sorry. I look around in vain for an entomologist to baptize them for me: man does not feel he possesses a thing unless he has sprinkled it with the ink of his dictionaries. For me they will die nameless; and in vain will they knock at the gates of paradise in order to enter where dear and beloved ones are remembered. Can you imagine ever having loved a woman whose name was unknown to you? In love as in religion baptism is the first and holiest of sacraments. But these butterflies love without baptism; they are frisking about between the pebbles in the path, unaware that the greatest tiger of our planet is glaring at them, and that a great lizard is descending slowly from the little wall and looking stealthily from left to right, caressing his lip with his cleft tongue, relishing the delicate flesh of those pretty creatures. They are too happy to think of the enemies that surround them: and life and love are flowers which are culled in the midst of hurricanes and battles. The pair have discovered a stunted stalk of grass which under the footstep of the pedestrian and in the sand of the garden has nevertheless managed to survive and even bloom. This microscopic bush is an entire world for the two lovers, and the little female laughs at the sweet assailer and runs around him like a child around a table, fleeing


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from blows. But after a few impatient whirls the lover bounds on top of the little tree and with his wings shakes those of his companion. A pinch of golden dust is scattered through the air, and a rebuff, a voluptuous trembling, closes this first scene of love. Gradually the little female seems about to yield to the impatient embraces of her companion, and when he, with the timid anxiety of one about to grasp a happiness, is close, so close to her that he is about to touch with his pubescent and loving feelers his beloved’s velvet body, she flies two yards away from him. He pursues her and the coaxing, fondling, teasing begin anew. The heat increases, and the avalanche of desires has become as ardent as the sun. The coquette has turned her back to her lover and begins to open her wings slowly in order to exhibit the pomp and splendour of her gems, her silver, her velvet; she then folds her wings, raises them, and in a trice hides all the beauty with which nature adorned her. Nor is the male less seductive. With a pretty little bound he places himself before his companion, and in turn he opens his wings, exhibiting his thousand colours and the charm of his golden eyes. But they are growing impatient. Whoever has witnessed but once the caresses of two butterflies can certainly imagine how the angels must love; that is, if some planet shelters a human creature that with wings lives also in heaven. Those two butterflies approach each other, so near as to touch and kiss with their feelers; then, quick as a wink, one bounds upon the other, and with a slow, mild, prolonged caress they fondle each other with their wings. And they repose as though they wished to relish the sweetness of that full and voluptuous caress in which the wing of one softly and slowly kisses the silk and velvet of its companion. How sweet, how sensual must be the caress of two wings which with a thousand and scintillant ripples touch each other and unite! And still in this intermingling of nerves and velvet not a speck is lost of that golden dust which adorns them. Many a time I saw the happy creatures frisking about and kissing each other; many a time I stood with beaming eye envying that angelic kiss of two wings. Indeed, man may well envy the butterfly, which, in its rich love of such a poetic brilliancy, puts to shame our beastly intercourse. Two creatures naked yet clothed, passionate and chaste; that love but once and one creature only; that kiss on earth and couple in the skies; that, inebriated with the nectar of flowers and the rays of the sun, caress

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each other with their wings and fall in love with the beauties of a palette which Titian and Rubens strive in vain to imitate with their brushes and chemicals; two creatures that in a long caress bid farewell to life and from the spasms of a fond embrace return to nature their little bodies, killed by love! After long kisses and many caresses my two angels gave each other a last, a more ardent rebuff, then flew away to relight the torch of life, which in them must soon be extinguished. In their giddy flight, now united, now separated, I accompanied them, sighing, until they were lost in the azure skies. Why can we too not love in this way? III The first rays of the sun have stirred up an infernal music on my neighbour’s roof. Among the tiles, bronzed and corroded by the black wart lichen, there are some soft cushions of moss, and in the eaves, cracked by rust and contorted by the alternate sun and ice, there is some green turf that lives on light and dew, more frugal than an anchorite and happier than a king. Those tiles and eaves are a rendezvous for all the sparrows in the neighbourhood, and sprightly, petulantly they clatter, chase one another, intermix, peck, play with their wings, and dash against each other with their little feathered bodies. They speak a strange, inharmonious language, but it seems they are relating the dreams of the night, and they have many and important things to tell each other. One screeches, the other prattles, a third hisses; not one is silent. Happy to have slept well, they already forget yesterday, and reckless of today they are warming their wings in the first rays of the sun, and with the beak hidden under the wing are making war upon some troublesome mite. I see little creatures and larger ones: the grey, coppery, and black distinguish, perhaps, to the naturalist, age and sex; perhaps also the different species; but in this moment they are all brothers chattering and enjoying together. No difference of caste seems to humiliate one and elevate the other; no infirmity imposes pain on some, and on others, compassion; no head, no servant, no etiquette of rank, no hypocrisy of sentiments. Would those dear and happy young sparrows have realized the republic of Plato?


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But in that whirlwind of reckless mirth, I distinguish a sparrow of a deeper black, a deeper chestnut tint, and more high-chested than the others. Frequently he stands erect on his little legs, stretches his neck, body, and head like a child measuring its height, and without moving from his post he looks to the right and left with an air of vain complacency. And now among his companions he sees a female sparrow, plainly tinted, with a soft, elongated body, delicate and pretty, apparently made to be shut up in the ivory hand of a lady and to stretch forth its loving little head from that nest of soft folds, the hand of a woman. The arrogant little male sees her, and without approaching utters a cry of conquest, which, in force and petulance, seems to me a cry of victory. It appears that in the sparrow’s dictionary that word must have a great signification, because the pretty little female hops away from her noisy companions to the edge of the roof. But the proud lover leaps impatiently after her and repeatedly renews his insistent, petulant cry; he is already very near her; but the little female flies to the roof of the house across the road. She has scarcely touched it when her pursuer has reached her. Both face off and challenge each other; and screeching in different voices they hurl at each other a world of sounds which seem to me insolence and tenderness at the same time. The one coos, the other scolds; the one implores, the other commands; and frequently the prattle is so blended that it seems like the sound of but one instrument. But the bickering appears to have fatigued them, and the pretty little female retires hurriedly to one of the eaves, while the male looks at the sun and awaits new strength. This seems to be renewed very quickly, for the groans and cries begin again, nor does the insolent lover content himself with his voice, but runs by leaps and flights to peck his companion; and a chase, a confused cry, and a continual pulling about succeed at brief intervals through the mossy labyrinths of the roof. By now many battles have been fought between the two lovers, and the mania to escape and defend herself from the too wanton desires of her companion seems so sincere in that winged little female that I almost begin to believe she does not want to be loved that morning. But if so, why does she not open her wings and fly away into heavenly space? And if she does not love too well the obstinate persecutor, why does she call him when he, piqued, flies to the top of the roof, almost feigning indifference and contempt? But desire

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cannot hold out much longer; the male is determined to win the sweet prize of victory, and almost sliding down on the tiles, with little hops that seem like steps, he pursues his companion, who retires to the corner of the roof, there where it stands out in space over the road. Behind her she has not another span of earth; she must either fly away and lose, perhaps, her lover, already weary from so many refusals, or yield to him. The millimetres seem to have become infinite space measured by the pair with a thousand steps and leaps; and the female tries to raise her voice, but cannot drown out that of the more robust and courageous lover, who is now so near as to touch her with his beak and shake her with his wings. The two hot, hot bodies touch, cross, intermingle. There, on the extremity of that roof, with her little body suspended over the abysses, the female concedes the greatest voluptuousness to her companion, and a soft groan and a rebuff, rapid as a flash of lightning, accompany an ardent, intimate, fulminating love, a love enjoyed over the abysses of space. Those two lovers swoon away; they rise slowly and gaze at each other amazedly and languidly; then, with a shiver, they adjust the feathers mussed by the embrace; with a second shiver, they absorb slowly, slowly the last tremor of voluptuousness as it vanishes, and then away to some friendly tree to hide their happy exhaustion and to renew their strength for new battles and new pleasures. IV It was a spring day. I had reached the confines of Galeguaychù17 on horseback and knew not which way to turn. I was at the end of the last road, with an open plain before me. I spurred my tramp companion to a gallop and entered a forest of algarrobos18 and nandubays.19 I wanted to move about and breathe the air and perfumes: thought had fallen into lethargy, and failed to respond to the sensations with a single idea.

17 An Argentinian town [Editor]. 18 Carob trees [Editor]. 19 Late deciduous trees, with a short thick trunk and a large top, common in Argentina and other areas of South America [Editor].


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Parrots, teru-teru, horneros, brasitas,20 and a hundred other birds chattered and screeched among the branches, in the bushes, and on the ground: almost all talked of love. My horse put to flight the grey iguanas, which ran like lightning to their holes at the bottom of the talas, breaking the branches and grinding the leaves in their flight. I stopped a moment, hemmed in on all sides by gigantic trees whose branches, descending almost to the ground, prevented my horse from going forward. Among the many sounds, I noticed quite near me a dull, regular beat which seemed like the knocking of two bones, one against the other. It was a funereal sound and recalled to my mind the grave-digger and the dissecting-room. Slowly, slowly, through the grasses and sods, I approached the origin of the strange rumour; on the top of an algarrobillo all covered by a mantle of blooming passiflora, I saw, as I rose in the stirrups, the body of a dead horse and the body of a live carancho.21 Even here, as everywhere else, a victim and an executioner, a creature devoured and a devourer! The horse was no longer a corpse, but a skeleton stretched at full length upon the earth, prepared by the patient loves of many caranchos. There was nothing to be seen but the bones, tail, hoofs, and a tuft of hair on the black ground saturated by the soft mud of blood and entrails. Here and there on the bones were short black strips of flesh, which this last carancho plucked off greedily and devoured. And although surrounded by so much filth and so much death, how beautiful she was – that American vulture, with her brilliant feathers, clean as a young lady. Shut up among the ample ribs of the horse, she seemed to be in a cage, and from time to time thrust forth her head between the bones and cleaned her beak by beating it against one and the other. The regular strokes of the beak, detaching the last shreds of flesh from that poor carcass, were interrupted by a deep groan, to which I could hear another respond in the distance. Then my carancho answered in a louder voice, and, thrusting forth her entire head, looked up toward the skies. I too looked up and saw another carancho suspended like an eagle with outstretched wings directly over the field of autopsy. The groans 20 Kinds of local birds [Editor]. 21 A carrion hawk [Editor].

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became more affectionate, stronger; the flyer approached the ground, but the voracious female, with the exception of a few coquettish glances, continued her gastronomical strokes with the beak. I concealed myself behind the massive trunk of a nandubay to watch the loves of two vultures among the bones of a corpse. The impatient lover groaned continually; he paraded his beautiful colours and elegant movements; but the female in her subdued prattle seemed to say, ‘I see you, but I do not care about you; I find the flesh of my horse a hundred times more savoury.’ The passionate carancho darted down like an arrow, and beating with beak and talons against that bony cage, he made it creak with a shudder of love. The cold coquette crouched within the carcass, then emerged from her cage in two or three most elegant leaps, raising her wings and exhibiting the softest and most private down of her breast, and then returned to her post. The two chased each other, pulled each other about, bit each other. I heard wing flap against wing, I saw the skeleton jostled in the affray; but the aggressive lover was repulsed, and he flew off screeching with pain and fury. He had been chased off; her gluttony was more powerful than love. The unhappy bird disappeared behind the horizon for a moment, and the poor female gazed upward in a dazed manner between one mouthful and another. She thought no more of her meal, but, ascending to the top of her bony cage, began to groan timidly with real pain. To that groan responded another groan; to that pain another pain. A robust flapping of wings which made the air vibrate on that bright spring day warned me that in the innamorato22 love was more powerful than wrath. The carancho flew around, sighing, and the scornful female, now enamoured, hurled through space her most loving glances. Her wings opened and closed at brief intervals, and the feathers of the tail, erecting themselves convulsively, coaxed the winged companion to voluptuousness. And he not only descends, but falls like a thunderbolt on his companion: the bodies clasp, four wings caress each other, a thousand hot and shining feathers intermingle and blend in an only

22 A person in love [Editor].


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love; and under the weight and the robust fulminating embrace of two vultures, the bones of the skeleton yield, bend, and with a dull creak add their note to the burning kiss of two innamorati. V A beautiful day in spring! I am sitting, or rather reclining, on the shore of one of our lakes. I have not under me the soft carpet of the sea-coast, but the sand and smooth pebbles of the lake shore. The last breeze of the north wind is lost in the farthest outskirts of the eastern border, while a faint, distant sail swells at the first breath of winter, which is about to resume its daily blasts. Between the last sigh of a dying wind and the birth of another, a vast expanse of lake is tranquilly reposing, awaiting to renew the eternal and alternate labour of a rising and a falling wave. The sky and the water seem to contemplate each other and exchange in sweet confidence their azure and their fresh smiles. At my feet a coquettish wave trembles rather than moves, whispers rather than murmurs between the stones; these, in their eternal laziness, are diverting themselves, stealing from the sun an atom of his light, which they weave into a golden iridescent aureole. Among these little babbling waves and many-tinted pebbles clothed in light, there projects a hard, grey stone which, polished by the long caresses of the lake, clothed in seaweed and nostoc,23 resists the kisses and convulsions of the waves. From one side and the other the insolent water is making repeated and futile attempts to reach the top of the stone; and round and round it goes, but succeeds only in hurling at that pretty piece of rock a gentle spray, a shower of pearls. Now and then it seems to me that from both sides two waves are racing to see which will reach the top first; and then, sliding down, weary and disheartened, they course around, kissing and embracing each other in turn. No deafening noise, no cry of man or beast, no hammer of the workshop or creak of the wheel breaks the silent, peaceful air of the place. Only, from time to time, some zephyr, precursor of the winter, sends a shiver through the leaves of the poplar

23 Blue-green algae [Editor].

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tree above my head, or, flinging itself on the tranquil and distant bosom of the lake, disturbs it, furrows it, and runs off again to fool with the air. All at once I behold a quiver-like ebullition in the waters near me, of which certainly the wind has not been guilty. I rise and rivet my gaze on the spot where the low and sandy shore descends precipitately, hiding its secrets in that narrow border poetically and picturesquely termed corona by the fishermen of Lake Maggiore.24 The water no longer boils, no longer moves: perhaps I was mistaken! In the meantime I wait and contemplate. No region seduces me like that where land and water unite; whether it be the waves of the sea and the rocks of granite; the kiss of the lake and the mossy cliffs; or the gentle brook and the forest selvedge. The ancients, who divined many parts of the science of the future in their mythology and in their verses, were much wiser than we when they constituted earth, air, fire, water the four elements of the cosmos – the four elementary atoms of the universe. Is matter not solid, liquid, gaseous? And is there not a fourth mode of existence – vibration, or motion, heat, thought? Do not the grandest phenomena result from the contact of these forms of existence? Are not the most sublime pictures represented? Do not the most stupendous energies in nature burst forth? In any case, Oh friendly reader, think of this as you will, but if you care to see me and find me happy, seek me there where the earth kisses the wave, there where the wave returns to earth her caress. In the meantime I waited and contemplated. Where the transparent water had become by rapid gradations azure, opaque, grey, I beheld rising from the heart of the invisible a hundred, thousands, millions of little brown shadows, like an army in battle, all along the indented border of the corona. They passed and re-passed, new phalanxes hotly pursued those gone before, an infinite multitude, a real miracle of the gospel, the transformation of the water into fishes! It was neither a journey nor a flight. Each of those creatures was impatient and glided on more nimbly than necessary. And the active ones behind lost patience with those in front because they did not move on quickly enough; and then the shoal dashed against one another, the entire lake became as silver and effervesced as though by force of fire, scintillated as though the sun

24 A lake in Northern Italy [Editor].


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were diluted in the waves. Now and then the water did not suffice for that innumerable, impatient crowd, and they darted in thousands through the air and fell down upon other millions of little fishes, which, with their backs above the water, were resisting the mighty host that pursued and pressed them from the deep. That frisking, that confusion, that ebullition, that effervescence assumed by degrees the aspect of a giddy chaos. Scales of the fishes, spray of the waves, rays of the sun were confused and intermingled, and I could no longer distinguish the elements of animate from inanimate nature, which seemed to have given a rendezvous for the celebration of some infernal Sabbath. All those creatures wanted to reach the shore, but space would not permit it, and they rubbed their soft bodies voluptuously on the sand, and kissed and embraced among themselves. At times they disappeared for an instant in the profundity of the lake as though to repose and take breath; then they returned to pursue each other hotly on the shore, to shiver and to ripple the water, which, hitherto so tranquil, was suddenly converted into a pandemonium of waves and tempests. Save a tepid sun, everything which moved in that spot was cold: fishes, water, stones, sand; but the mass in motion was so hot! Does not science also teach us that motion is heat? And there was certainly heat in that water and in that place, for that multitude loved; and drunk with voluptuousness, twisted in a prurient vertigo, they beat their members against the sand and the waves, pouring out there the honey of love. The natives of India, under their burning skies and in the perfumed shade of their palms, never dreamed of a more promiscuous polygamy, a more gigantic wreath of orgies than that of those slippery fishes, scintillating and trembling on the shore. It is not one male that kisses a companion; not one bird that caresses his faithful mate in the warm nest; not one organ of love seeking to join another organ of love, but an instantaneous fermentation of a thousand creatures that love with all the senses, that embrace with all the body, that send back in thousands the waves of voluptuousness; not a single union of two kings, but an infinite intermingling in an entirely voluptuous and luxuriant atmosphere: the love of each is the love of thousands; the love of thousands is the spasm of one alone.

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And the spasms and intoxication of those enamoured fishes were indeed genuine, for they left their lacerated scales on the sands of the sea, and many glided forth from the water and frisked about on the naked shore; then, gasping (I know not whether from voluptuousness or pain), with a supreme effort they rebounded into the water, which welcomed them to new convulsions and new loves. They were so inebriated that they no longer distinguished land from water. Perhaps, like ourselves, they too felt the ideal and wished to pass the confines of the sensible; for them too, the extreme of voluptuousness approached the frontiers of death; and also in that cold, mute crowd of living creatures, love had its victims and martyrs. I picked up one little sufferer from that shore. It was dying, incapable of taking another bound in order to return to the water, and I restored it to the waves. In its agony it felt the electric contact of that atmosphere of love, and became conscious, twisted its tail slowly to right and to left, then glided away rapidly to be lost in the inebriating water, which had become all perfume, all voluptuousness. These few pictures, which I have rapidly sketched from nature, are only poor specimens from an immense gallery rich in warmer tints and more singular figures. In no function does life multiply its forces as in love, and the strangest phenomena are interwoven about the union of the sexes, which, simple in essence, assumes the most varied forms. The philosopher, the poet, the artist should study with pleasure the thousand ways in which living beings exchange the reproductive germ, and they would find therein subjects for profound meditation and lofty inspiration. It is only in the eyes of the hypocrite or the cretin that many loves of living beings seem but brutal battles or immodest embraces. Nowhere does nature manifest herself more powerful, more inexhaustible, more admirable than there where she teaches the living to eternize life. They love continually and so much on the face of our planet that even the severe walls of the cloister do not succeed in hiding from the modest nun every scene of love. It is well, however, to conceal, as far as possible, from our children, especially little girls, the obscene intercourse of animals which most resemble us. But the most rigorous morality in the


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world and the most puritanical modesty would not know how to hide the kisses of the doves, the amorous duets of the canaries, and the sublime embraces of the butterflies. More than one maiden has had in these pictures of nature her first lessons in love; and many years before the lips of a lover have taught her to love in two, the doves, the canaries, the butterflies have caused her heart to palpitate, disclosing to her the outlines of infinite and burning mysteries.

Chapter 3

The First Rays of Love – Good and Evil Sources of Love Human beings of a low order or of a simple nature do not observe in themselves the rising of the energy of that new sentiment called love, until the development of the germinative glands has marked in them the character of sex. On the contrary, in rich and powerful natures, many years before sex has imprinted its indelible mark on the organism, a vague, mysterious, and modest sympathy attracts the little boy to the little girl. There where the sun must rise in the boundless azure of the skies, one notices a rosy tint scarcely delineated on the horizon, but which suffices to tell us, ‘It is here that the superior star must shine, the father of all light.’ The sun is ever the most beautiful among all the lovely things of the heavens, but I have studied with a warm and constant affection, I have watched with religious attention the first rays of that other sun which we are now studying in this book. They appear without being invited by the precocious corruption of books and surroundings; they rise spontaneously in the heart of the most unconscious innocence; they shine like the serene and tranquil rays of a light that later will be ardent and bewitching; they appear and disappear like lightning flashes which noiselessly illuminate the clouds and then leave them darker than before. It is a coarse, vulgar malignity to assert that no child is ignorant of the secrets of love. Childhood innocence is truer, more sincere, deeper than is supposed, and it holds out limpid and adamantine even when splashed with the mud of social corruption. The rosy lips of a child can repeat, with a look of lascivious malice, a jest learned at home from a servant or from a libertine, but that filth does not penetrate the crystalline nature of the child, and the spray of a fountain will suffice to wash away the dirt. It is the custom with the malicious to doubt the innocence of others, as it is the practice of the wicked to deny all virtue.


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In the noisy and turbulent games which form the delight of the first period of life, all at once a little boy distinguishes a little girl among a hundred, a thousand; and an instantaneous sympathy weaves the rosy knot of a nameless affection, of an innocent love unconscious in itself, which could seem at the same time the caricature and the miniature of a sublime picture. I remember having seen an angelic little creature, blond as an ear of corn and rosy as the dawn, throw her arms around the neck of a little fellow, stern as a brigand and dark as a pirate. She covered him with kisses, but he scorned the fondling and repulsed her angrily; and she tried to tell him that she loved him very much, that she wanted to make him her little spouse. A world reversed! – a microscopic scene of a chaste Joseph who knew not woman and a Lilliputian woman who, in the innocent ardour of a childish embrace, seemed to be the wife of Potiphar,25 though in reality an angel! However, these instantaneous movements of affection between two children of a different sex sometimes conceal a real passion which has proud jealousies, tears, sighs, delirious joys, a history, a future! Young girls, whom a kind or a cruel nature destined to arouse at every step through life a desire and a sigh, are often ignorant of the fact that among the multitude of their adorers there are also boys who kiss in secret the flowers that have fallen from their bosoms; who furtively and mysteriously, like domestic thieves, enter the little room that shelters their angel to kiss the bed, to kneel upon the carpet where rest the feet of that woman whom they already distinguish above all other creatures in the world, whom they dare to place on a level with their mother. And how often, while running her fingers through the hair of a boy who lays his head upon her lap, a woman is unconscious that there is a little heart that beats loudly, loudly at the touch of that caress; that when the child raises his curly head his face is not flushed from congestion, but burning with a fire of which he himself is unconscious – love. These rosy phantoms, which gild some of the most fruitful hours of our child-life, seem to last as long as the shades of morning; and certainly

25 The Egyptian man to whom the Ishmaelites sold Joseph, in the biblical account. Potiphar’s scheming wife falsely accused Joseph of trying to lie with her, and Joseph was sent to prison [Editor].

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the battles of youth often make us forget them. And many of slippery memory and sceptical heart, hearing them mentioned, have only words of contempt and gestures of compassion for what they are pleased to term childish lullabies to be relegated among the horrors of witchcraft and the caresses of nurses. Yet how often these flying phantoms announce the storms of the future, reveal a nature deeply enamoured, and warp the first threads of a tissue of delirious joys and torments! Some privileged mortal may, on his deathbed, press the hand of the only one he has ever loved, whom he loved even as a child before he knew she was a woman. The trembling lip of the dying man can reunite the last kiss of life with the first hearty kiss imprinted on the downy cheek of a ten-yearold girl. And without reaching this lofty sphere of an ideal too far removed from us, how often after a long life, callous from the tortures of a hundred passions, having lost all faith and love, in the first shades of evening a last rosy flash of sunset awakens a dear memory of many buried years, and the heart of an old man races, while a tear courses down his wrinkled cheek! In front of the weary eyes there has passed a little straw hat with two blue streamers, but in the depths of that heart what an abyss has been opened for an instant! In the night of the past a most limpid ray of light has illuminated a picture all light, all beauty – an antique cameo seen under the pick of the excavator among the dust and rubbish! And that picture was a childish love, a flower uprooted by the miry torrents of a storm, but preserved by the friendly hand of memory, which is not always cruel and ungrateful. If you ask the child-man why he loves a little girl, he will run off bashfully; if you question the little girl, her face will become suffused with blushes. They love … and they know not the reason why! Ask a precious rosebud why it bloomed in March instead of awaiting the warm and voluptuous zephyrs of May; ask a July cyclamen why it did not await the cool breezes of September to perfume the mossy bed in which it has made its nest … and they know not the reason why! In passionate men the first rays of love appear sooner because they long to yield the flowers to ripe and impatient nature, and an entire life will be for them too short a day to satisfy the intense thirst of love which consumes them. They love soon because they love much – as men of genius at ten years of age often reflect on that which the masses will never think of at thirty.


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And why, boy, do you prefer that little girl to all the others? And why, pretty child, do you permit yourself to be kissed only by that dark little fellow? Because that little girl differs from all the others; because that dark little fellow is not like any of the other boys. Love, from its first and more confused appearance, is election, a deep and irresistible sympathy of different natures, the recomposition of analysed forces, the equilibrium of opposites, the complement of disunited things; it is the harmony of harmonies; the most gigantic, the most prepotent of the affinities of attraction! With the exception of those natures more powerful in love, this sentiment, in men of the lower classes, rises when a new want springs up under the wand of that magical transformer – puberty. It is then that on the smooth, round, pubescent surface of the infantile nature a deep crevice is formed, a void that woman alone can fill; it is then that that round, smooth fruit called a ‘little girl’ also sheds its childish skin, revealing the soft and juicy pulp of the fruit which was enclosed therein. It is then that from every accentuated muscle of the virile organism, from every accent of his strengthened voice, from every hair that has rendered his flesh bristly, there rises a powerful cry which demands in the loudest voice, A woman! And from every curve of the child become a woman, from every proud toss of the head, from every pore of the young girl now a crater of warm desires, arises a cry which demands, A man! And innocence and ignorance linked to the arm of the boy and girl urge them to flee far, far away, through the flower beds of the garden, through the cool fragrant woods, up, up the steep mountain side. On, on they run, until they are dazed, wearied, in order to deafen the ear to that incessant cry, A man! A woman! And they play and fool impetuously to demonstrate to themselves and others that they are the same as they were yesterday; they laugh and weep without cause to deceive themselves and others, to tell them that they are more than ever children beguiled by the last impressions; but all in vain. In play and in chase, through the flower beds of the garden and among the bushes of the woods, the new demon does not abandon them, but shouts continually, mockingly into their ears the same words, A man! A woman! Night comes on and the muscles, weary from many playful battles, prepare them for a profound sleep in which unmindful childhood seems to sink into a sea

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of forgetfulness; but in that sleep unusual larvae of naked phantoms, ah! too naked, put to flight innocence and ignorance; and strange torments, voluptuous pains which seem tearful joys, disturb, confuse them, cause their hearts to palpitate. And the innocent girl, bathed in perspiration and tears, seats herself on the virginal couch and strokes her abundant hair dishevelled from the dreams of the night, and asks herself, terrified: ‘What sin have I committed? Mamma, mamma mia, where are you?’ After a weary, restless night she runs to her mother, complains of feeling ill, seriously ill, though she has no pain! And to the affection that smiles or consoles her, she responds with unusual tears, unreasonable impatience, with a world of new tastes, new desires, strangest caprices. And how many painless, unreasonable tears, how many storms in a serene sky, how many romances created by fancy in an hour, and overturned in one moment by a mad contempt! How many caresses bestowed on a lapdog that has never been loved, how many kisses given to a canary that has never been caressed, how often the curly hair of a little brother is toyed with, and how many passionate glances cast at the eyes and limbs of a St John the Baptist, in the church during the hours of devotion! How much sudden enthusiasm and sudden dejection, how many convulsions of the heart, what a pandemonium of fancies! The passage over the fatal bridge that separates adolescence from youth is one of those epochs most freighted with anguish, most blithe with convulsive joys, and consequently I term it the hysterical period of life. I shall illustrate it some day, perhaps, in a work which I am preparing on the age of man. For the present it will suffice to mark with a flourish of the pen how the necessity of love announces itself in most men. And if I have hitherto referred principally to woman, it is because she, more modest, more reserved, and a hundred times more in need of love, feels more deeply the shudder which announces to her the approach of the new god; and being more innocent than we are, she is ignorant of his nature – more timid, she has a greater fear of him. Nature has conceded base resources to man almost unknown to woman, and too often precocious vice makes him acquainted with voluptuousness before love. If he is modest, virtuous, and impassioned, he also feels the same raging tumult stirring his viscera, and demands of nature in wrathful accents and plaintive lamentation, A woman!


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To this cry responds, alas! too often, the first comer. It is impossible for certain natures to long resist the tortures of a robust and vigorous chastity; the frail human shell would go to pieces if it persisted in imprisoning an accumulation of forces, all gigantic, all fresh, all ready for the battle. First love is not slow in announcing itself, and if the neophyte who appears on the horizon lacks more than two-thirds of the desired virtues, love is the magician to create them and to transform a worm into a god. The maiden in her dreams, as she gazed at the pictures in the church and those on the domestic walls, thought only of a winged man with nothing of earthly material save two lips to imprint on hers a kiss. The object desired was an angel all love and ether, who sheltered beneath his massive wings the soul of the young girl and bore it away through heavenly space to a golden region, all light and warmth. The tremor of the wings and a velvety kiss were all the luxury that the chaste virgin permitted in her dream; and beyond that, an obscure and infinite mystery of which she knew neither the name, the confines, nor the form. Instead of this angel there appears before her a man in trousers, with moustaches, who smokes excessively and betrays women; perhaps his hair is already grey, he may be a husband and father – but he is a man! And the youth too has dreamed of his angel. She should have been all eyes, all hair; with a slender figure, feet to scarcely touch the ground, an eternal smile wreathed in an aureole of light, a soul ardent as fire, and an innocence pure as the snow that caps the summit of the Jungfrau.26 And instead, she who wakes him from the dream of the night is a saucy fat chambermaid, whose firm accentuated curves only intimate that she is very feminine; instead of wings she has two sinewy arms and two hands hardened from the use of the pot and broom; and she pounds the floor with wooden shoes that seem to be tipped with iron – but she is a woman! Anything satisfies first love, which is, like the hunger of a million, to be satisfied with a penny’s worth of bread. How vulgar is the object of that young girl’s thoughts! A heart of a grocer in the body of a porter! But he is pallid, and the dullness of his gaze seems to her sentimental

26 A mountainous region of Switzerland [Editor].

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languor; he is ill, and his illness appears poetic; he is robust, and for her he is the god of strength; he is arrogant, but she thinks him passionate; he is an egotist, and so much the better, for he will love but her, who alone knows how to make him happy. How much poetry that ardent youth has wafted to the skies composing hymns to the luxurious bust of a strong peasant woman! How many elegies has he indited to the skyblue paleness of a chlorotic workingwoman! Woe to him if seduction unites itself to all this tissue of lies with which first love too often weaves its nest! Woe if to the inexperienced maiden the aged libertine knows how to say in accents acquired from long practice in the art, ‘I love you!’ Woe if the lascivious old woman, quelling the appetite with unripe fruit, understands how to warm the innocent youth at the fire of new voluptuousness! Then the fire is lighted, the flames arise, and the first object loved is placed on the altar, choruses of eternal oaths chanted to it, perfumed by the incense of the maddest, most licentious idolatry. First love does not always originate so basely, but it often only too closely resembles these first loves which I am expounding. Let us be sincere from the very first steps in our studies, for hypocrisy is the moth that in modern society notches and corrodes the highest and strongest trees in the garden of life. The original sin of love unveils itself to us with its first infant-cry, and even when we are obliged to use all the artifices of galvanoplasty27 to gild our idol, when the bellows of fancy labour to warm up first love, our very first utterance is a lie: ‘I love you above everything in this world; I will love you forever. You are my first love, and we can love but once.’ And a second oath responds to the first, perhaps more sacred, more ardent, and in a kiss that is often the sum of two lies the first hypocrisy is sealed, which to the last generation of the loves of those two creatures will imprint an everlasting mark on all the expressions of affection, on all the deliriums of the heart. Be sincere in the first kiss if you wish love to be the chief joy of life and not an illicit trade of voluptuous lies. Yes, first love is yours, but because it is the first, it is neither true, just, nor natural that it should be the great, the one, the only love. Do not swear falsely, do not perjure yourself before you know what truth is. To the eternity of your oaths 27 Or electroplating, the use of electric current to coat a conductive object with a thin layer of metal [Editor].


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there will reply with a jesting smile the indifference of tomorrow and the repentance of the day after tomorrow. Before you have really loved you will sing in every key that virtue does not exist, that love is a dream; and, young and old at once, you will deny the existence of a god whose temple you have never seen. Abandoned by a chambermaid who into your fresh robust youth steeped the heat of her members inflamed by long-standing lasciviousness, you will cry, ‘Treachery!’ and mistake lechery for love; hitched for a day to the wagon of a coquette, you will curse the betrayed faith, if through caprice the silken thread was broken, which bound you together with many other slaves of the triumph: liars yourselves, you say that love is a lie! You are two: a man and a woman, you say that you love each other, and, perhaps, for both it is first love. Well then, during the first days do not swear eternal fidelity if you yet value honour and if perjury still terrifies you. First love is rarely true love, as the first book of an author is rarely the true expression of his genius. We may be weak either from excessive youth or from advanced age, and love – the one, first, and only, like many other dogmatic forms which delight so much that hypocritical biped called man – has made more victims in modern society than many crimes and maladies of the body and mind. If it is your first love, so much the better. With hands chastely clasped and lips modestly united, do not pronounce any other words but these: ‘Let us love each other!’ If you are of the few and happy mortals who love but once; if you are among the rare exceptions who, in the first man or the first woman, find the angel seen in the first dreams of youth, then you are a thousand times blessed. The fidelity of the future will cement for life the virtue of your compact. If the God of the Church be really seated eternally on his gilded throne and gazing down with undying patience on the men who scrape the crust of our planet, how often must he not laugh in his sleeve as he listens to the strange abuse of oaths and the miserable ill-use that lovers make of eternity! And, perhaps, that smile comforts him in the constant disgust that he alone must submit to the fatal condemnation of eternity. As for me, if the progressive growth of a true and healthy democracy should cancel from judicial institutions the form of oath, I would wish that the man and woman who love each other should never swear to it. A vow less and an extra caress, what delight! An eternity less,

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and a prolonged kiss – what voluptuousness! Nor should modest and chosen souls throw aside my book, indignant at the cynicism of my advice. The reading of other pages will show them that no one more than myself intends to bear love on high to the most serene regions of the ideal, and that as far as sentiment can reach, I too feel the strength to follow. The triple and firm rind of hypocrisy that from the time of our swaddling clothes entangles us, the Arcadian varnish which makes us smooth and brilliant scarcely ever permit us to see the true nature of things, and in love we are all counterfeiters. The greatest liberty, the greatest sincerity can alone cure us of this malady which, more than national, is civil; its virus is absorbed by every race, every social class; it spares not the highest and strongest natures; it is incarnate in every fibre of our hearts, in the framework of every one of our institutions. Which are the true sources of love? Which are the ways that lead to the sacred temple? There must be an only source, an only road, but too many are they who press and crush to enter there where all await the greatest joy, for not all enter by the great highway of nature, but through secret gates and oblique paths reach the centre; and they are unhappy because the original sin of their loves condemns them to a dangerous life sown with discomforts and bitterness. All the natural fountainheads of true love are summed up in one alone. They are drops which slowly distil in the depths of our viscera, and in these they couple and form rivulets and streams that, in turn, write in the channel of our veins until they gush forth in the one hot, trembling wave of sympathy. Sympathy is the true and only source of love. Sympathy, most beautiful among all the lovely words of human speech! To suffer together – melancholy predictions of life experienced in two; but, better still, to feel, laugh, and weep together! Two organisms, one sense; two exterior worlds, but which unite in one centre; two nerves that by diverse ways bear various sensations, but which interweave and run parallel in one heart alone. One sees, gazes, desires: a spark that shoots forth from the contact of two desires; this is the first act of love. Two solitary wheels in the desert of waters plough the deep, unknown to each other; the wind impels one toward the other; a shiver of sympathy runs through the sails and cordage and causes them to creak; they feel themselves pressed by a


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common need, and throw out a rope that unites them. From that moment they plough the same waters, expose themselves to the same dangers, and long to reach the same shore. The most rapid and ardent sympathies arise from the admiration of form, that is to say, the sentiment of the beautiful, which is satisfied in the object desired and loved. Among the definitions of love that Tasso was pleased to discuss there are three which express and delineate this idea: ‘Love is the desire of beauty. Love is the immoderate desire of cohabitation for satisfaction by those who covet particular beauty. Love is the union of beauty for satisfaction.’ And, in fact, what is love if not the selection of the better form in order to perpetuate it? What is love if not the choice of the best in order to triumph over the mediocre – a choice of youth and strength in order to survive the old and weak elements! Woman, the custodian of seeds, vestal of life, should be more beautiful than we, and in her, man loves the figure above all other things. Mediocre forms can – elevated by a gigantic genius and an impassioned heart – still excite ardent passions, but these are always medicated sympathies. Where, then, a real deformity appears, love is dead, or it exists as a prodigy of heroism, or an aesthetic malady. Woman too is immediately carried away by the beauty of the virile form, and can love a man merely because he is handsome; but in her the field of sympathy is extensive, and character and genius seduce her more frequently than they do us. The ugliest men have enjoyed the superhuman voluptuousness of being loved, but in the phases of their character, in the power of their genius, in the pomp of their position they possessed a fascination which, nevertheless, belonged to the world of beauty. Woman contains within herself such a power of transmission of the germinative elements, and such an accumulation of beauty, that she can do without that of her companion; but she likes to feel herself conquered by a superior force, fascinated by something that shines, flashes, thunders. In love, genius and character exercise very little influence if they do not take the shape of the beautiful, and the aesthetic dominates and governs all amorous phenomena. And this is not enough: even those who seek to place in the loftiest spheres of the ideal world the criterion of their choice, and despise the beautiful as a vulgar fascination of dull

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and clouded minds, seek unwittingly, unknowingly powers that bear a deep sexual mark. The philosopher, maybe, who boasts of having loved an ugly, intelligent, and sensible woman; but let him sound the depths of his heart, study the sources of his love, and he will find that he admires and loves in his companion qualities essentially feminine: the pliant grace of tenderness, the noble intelligence of the heart, the insuperable shrewdness of affection, or the coquettish ways of her charming and modest personality. In a word, the proud despiser of form was seduced by the lovely feminine phases of character or wit. And woman, when she happens to love an ugly man, is always conquered by dominating talent, dazzling ambition, heroic courage, or the prepotency of some power that bears a deep virile mark. Sex plays too great a part in the economy of life to be stricken from the ledger, and love is too strong a current to be turned and guided between the paper banks of our sophisms and Machiavellian duplicity. If some one is not yet persuaded that beauty is the supreme inciter of every amorous sympathy, let him remember that love is the passion of youth, and youth is always a chosen form of beauty. Love at first sight is the ideal of the most ardent sympathies, it is the most fortunate combination in the great hazardous games of life. All at once to meet, to admire, to desire, to embrace with a look like a lightning flash – to feel one’s self inundated by another gaze, equally passionate and penetrating, so that one feels himself naked in front of another naked creature, to blush together in the same moment and to feel all at once that two hearts beat louder, and mutely make the sweet confession ‘I love you, and you are mine!’ – all this is a joy, too rare, too perfect, that few have known and few will ever experience. Very frequently it occurs that the awakened sympathies progress unequally, so that one has already transported man to the highest summits of desire and passion while the other scarcely begins to move itself; the one is in spasms, the other barely vibrates. Even when two loves are called to high and fortunate destinies; even when they will soon flap their robust wings together in blissful space, to woman is reserved a task in love’s intercourse which differs too widely from ours for her to feel with us the same instantaneous and violent emotions. Man says everything with a look; he instantly and proudly acknowledges his defeat.


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Woman, even under the spell of the most ardent sympathy, lowers her eyelids to shut out the excessive light and summons up all her calmness to defend her heart. The man has already said to the woman a hundred times with the flash of his eye, ‘I love you!’ The woman, trembling, scarcely dares to say, ‘Perhaps I love you!’ And the two happy creatures flee, chase each other until the sympathy of one equals that of the other, until the supreme languor of a long battle dies away in two notes which vibrate in sweetest harmony. They sigh together and say to themselves, ‘I love you!’ while to nature they repeat with a second sigh, ‘I thank you!’ The energies of amorous desire, which the longer they last the more they accumulate, follow the laws of elementary physics that govern forces. The most instantaneous loves are not always the most lasting, and if an unexpected satisfaction follows a sudden desire, love can sometimes resemble a glorious rape rather than a real passion. It is true that love is not a battle but a long war, and when to the first victory there succeed a hundred, a thousand, the fulminating sympathy can also take deep root in our heart and, becoming renewed after every struggle, reach the ideal perfection of coupling intensity with extension, of reflecting at the same time the light of those stars that never set and the lightning flash that ploughs the skies. The most perfect love is a sun that never sets. In ordinary cases, however, love that rises slowly disappears in the same manner; and that of the nature of lightning lasts about as long. Anyhow, a healthy love, well constituted and destined for a prolific existence, should begin with a violent shock that measures the depths from which the warm sympathy flashed. All other benevolent sentiments originate in a manner different from love, whose right it is to be born amid thunder and lightning, as befits the birth of gods or demons. Princes cannot enter the world like the masses; and the prince of the affections cannot come to light by the hands of a fond and intelligent midwife and the domestic care of relatives. Where a coruscation of the heavens and a trembling of earth do not accompany the new love; where nature does not hurl forth a cry of voluptuousness, or of pain – no one can deceive me – a friendship, a benevolence, any kind of a sentiment has sprung into being, but to the newborn I shall certainly not give the holy baptism of love. And thus, naturally, we have arrived at those frontiers which separate the only legitimate way that leads to the temple, from the oblique,

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unfrequented paths. Friendship can be a source of love, an excellent cause, but it has always a pathological origin, not a natural, and leads step by step to the worst among the sources of love: gratitude, compassion, vanity, luxury, revenge. When one has been accustomed to see a woman daily, to talk to her, live perhaps with her without ever calling her by any other name save sister or friend, if some day it seems that we love her, such love resembles those tropical fruits raised in our climate by means of manure and the hothouse. If love be possible between man and woman is an old problem and one that will never be solved, because many give this name to real loves, which, meeting on the threshold of desire, held back by the rigid hands of duty, waver gently and slowly before the temple without ever entering it. It is proper for the sake of delicacy to term these loves friendship. I will certainly not condemn the innocent falsification; but a real, true friendship, with all the specific characteristics that distinguish this serene affection, between man and woman is possible only on one condition: that of making tabula rasa of every sexual mark in the two who have shaken hands. Now the destroying of sex in an individual is a cruel physical and moral mutilation that destroys more than half the man. If friendship joins two eunuchs of this kind, I will say that their affection is not that of man and woman, but of two neutral beings. But as long as it is possible for one to desire the person of the other; as long as the most modest, the most innocent longing may spring up, the friendship becomes love. How many are those moral eunuchs? How many men and women can love without desire? Count them, and then I will be able to tell you how many are the cases, well verified, of friendship without love between man and woman. However, I wish to be more explicit. Do not suppose that because the problem is difficult I run past it without solving it. Are there in this sublunary world a man and a woman who are always glad to see each other, who love each other, and who have never desired even a kiss from their companion? Yes; now then, those two angels are friends, and I admit the possibility of the psychological phenomenon: friendship between two persons of a different sex. One can pass from any form of mild benevolence to that of love, and therefore much more easily from friendship, which we have admitted


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scientifically possible between man and woman. Lasting loves may arise in this way, but they have always a cold surface, a certain lymphatic tint. They require a hydropathic cure and sometimes cod-liver oil, because from the lymphatic state they can also pass to the scrofulous. A common variety of these loves is that which springs from gratitude. ‘Amor che a nullo amato amor perdona,’ sings the poet28 with truth, but on one condition only, that between the two who love each other there be no other difference than in the length of the step; that is to say, one arrives first and the other soon after; otherwise they never meet on the broad road of sympathy. O tutors who believe in the love of a pupil; philanthropists who believe in the love of the orphan benefited by you; old bachelors who believe in the love of the grateful chambermaid, remember that gratitude alone has never generated a legitimate love. It has often produced good and honest children, but they are all bastards. If gratitude takes you by the hand and conducts you over the road of sympathy, it may be a good guide, but nothing more. There are men and women who very much resemble the cold-blooded animals, which take their temperature from the atmosphere that surrounds them but of themselves can generate but little or no heat. Such men and women know not how to love of themselves, and need another love which rains down upon them, absorbs them, saturates them like sweetbreads dipped in wine. Their sympathies are cold and equal for all; they often ask of books and men what love is; they compare the descriptions given them with that which they feel in their hearts, like the naturalist who turns an insect over and over again in his hand, compares it with the chart before him, and finally exclaims: ‘But it really seems to me that this insect is the amor verus 29 of the entomologist. Am I also in love, really in love?’ For all these gentlemen, who are much more numerous than is supposed, the verse of the poet is most appropriate. They always love through gratitude or compassion, which is almost the same. This sweet and mild benevolence – grateful love – must not be confused with that pity which women frequently have for those who love

28 Love, that releases no beloved from loving. A famous line in Dante’s Divine Comedy (Inferno, Canto V, l. 103), from the love story of Paolo and Francesca [Editor]. 29 Veritable love [Editor].

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them desperately, and to whom they sometimes concede a compassionate love. Woman is easily moved, she cannot witness suffering with indifference, and she often yields, not through lechery but through pity, to which she frequently unites a legitimate pride in being able to transform a wretched creature into a happy man. And man often speculates on this weakness of Eve, and usually abuses it, ready then to slander her who had made him happy. Man too can love through compassion, but more frequently he gives himself without affection and through pride, as we shall see further on in the course of our studies. Woman, however, sometimes concedes, together with voluptuousness, also love to him who has wept, sighed, and suffered for her. Compassion is the benevolent chord which vibrates even in the most brutally egotistical natures, and in woman, so rich in affection, it can vibrate until it tortures. This sentiment is of a mild and tender nature in itself, and keeps him who suffers in a state of subjection, so that true equality can never exist between the one who inspires compassion and the one who feels it. This is the essential character of compassion, and even when by long, narrow, thorny paths it guides us to love, the latter feels the influence of its bastard origin. Compassionate loves are all forms of affectionate pity, of benign protection, and lack the highest notes of passion. All in all they are similar to the verses of a would-be poet. The god of fire does not invade them, warm them; they do not know the holy anger of the sibyls, and if they can live long in a mild climate they can still be overthrown by the appearance of the true god who demands his rights – his tributes of blood and heat. The woman who, unfortunately, has not yet experienced other love than that inspired by compassion, can deceive herself into thinking that she loves truly and deeply, but woe to her if a real warm sympathy be awakened in her heart so that she can compare the true love with the false. The tender plant of an affection long guarded by pity falls uprooted by the breaking of a fiery torrent, and the poor creature who really loves for the first time suffers the bitterest pain, the bloodiest struggles between duty and passion, sympathy and love. I know too well that some go so far as to crave love on bended knee; but I would rather be loved for the sake of caprice, revenge, or lechery than compassion. The woman who loves a man in this way has her foot on his head, and although the pressure of a woman’s little foot may be just as dear as that of


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her hand, in the face of nature we are guilty of baseness and invert the most elementary laws of the physiology of the sexes. The man who renounces the primacy of conquest is a lion that permits its tail to be cut off, a Samson after the scissors – always a mild form of eunuch. May Dame Fortune preserve you, reader, from all forms of compassionate love! A still more turbid source of love is vanity. To hear that a woman is very beautiful and chaste, that she has never permitted herself to be loved, is an immediate stimulus to man, who knows his strength and admires the daughters of Eve. And these, in turn, willingly persist in throwing the fish hook at the cold, lonely fish who live in the most obscure depths of solitude and chastity. Hence many distrustful plunges which lead oftener to the conquest of the body than to the dominion of the heart, to trophies of vanity rather than true love. The great lovers who have long since renounced the virtue of sublime love are accustomed to conquer the impressionable solely for vanity’s sake – to bind with amorous chains to their triumphal car a new slave and a new victim. They like to conquer the most eccentric and difficult character, and you see them ardently desirous of giving the first lesson in voluptuousness to the innocent, and subjugating the oldest and craftiest libertine. Together with vanity in this choice of victims there also cooperates the prurient shrub of curiosity, which is one of the strongest threads in the psychological web of woman. A weary palate can be excited by the wild fruit as well as by the sharp pungency of stale cheese; and the gay woman of pleasure is passionately fond of these alternate acid and burning relishes, of this succession of men inexperienced in love and those already consumed by this sentiment; lechery can be carried so far in their natures as to love through pure curiosity for the unknown, excluding lust, which is not always necessary in these pathological tastes. However, even when vanity alone has brought a man and a woman together, a posthumous sympathy can awaken a real love with healthy members and a long life. Yet it is always a love that resembles the rich man of low birth, the parvenu who can, in the midst of luxury and pleasure and in the most courteous manner, give one a donkey kick. To be born well is ever the first problem of life, and democracy itself will not see the overthrow of the ancient aristocracy until it can boast of legitimate and noble births.

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Man, who daily accuses his companion of vanity, manifests oftener than she the most grotesque forms of this sentiment, and in our case we rarely see him renounce the puerile obstinacy of his loves of bastard origin. How often he basely insults the woman who blessed him with love, telling her that he sought her love only to add another trophy to his triumphal chariot! Woman, on the contrary, almost always, even when she desires to be loved through vanity alone, also when she is about to dismiss the servant who has wearied her, gives him a testimonial which makes him happy and persuades him that he pleased for a day, a month, a year the woman who, perhaps, feigned to love him, or loved him indifferently. No man is humiliated in thinking himself the sweet victim of a caprice: all men feel themselves degraded when made the target of a vain speculation. Woman, very frequently, with a gracious shrewdness, feigns ignorance of the fact that she is desired and loved solely for vanity’s sake, and slowly, slowly she makes men love her for herself alone, and, without the hostile enemy perceiving it, succeeds with subtle art in substituting a sincere and ardent passion for the wretched ambition that had inspired the attack and the conquest: one of the thousand proofs that woman surpasses us in sentiment just as we are superiour to her in the strength of genius, one of the proofs that woman always endeavours to elevate even the basest loves, while we so often pass under the pitchfork of voluptuousness even those loves which, like the eagle, are born on the highest rocks of psychology. Lechery is the prolific mother of the most vulgar loves, and for many this sentiment is only the necessity of drinking at a fountain found to be sweeter than the others. Naked love, without the splendid garments of fancy and of the heart, with the robust flesh which lent it the sentiment of the beautiful washed away, becomes reduced to a skeleton – lust, which for many is all love. What a miserable thing! A practice of lasciviousness! Woman converted into a favourite cup because with it we have long been accustomed to satiate our thirst. And still we have loves that owe their origin to the house of prostitution, or the audacious rape of a moment of unreasonable lust. To have possessed previous to having loved, to have been possessed before having given the kiss of love – what ignominy! What baseness! And yet love is such a magician that at times it can perform the miracle of rising from lechery or the cradle of the


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brothel. However, I do not wish that any of my readers should become acquainted with love in such a way. Love born of lust is the most difficult to preserve. Even the most murderous cunning of the art of pleasure blunts its weapons against insurmountable difficulties; and woman, after prodigies of prostitution and lechery of the heart and of the senses, can behold her victims snatched away from her by the first comer. Love can be hot, ardent, a thirst, but the glass that satisfies it is of the most fragile crystal, and can fall from one moment to another shattered into a thousand pieces. Revenge, which is a form of hate, can with incestuous nuptials become a mother or, better, a stepmother of love. To see one’s self betrayed, to wish to humiliate the guilty one by flinging into his face a new love – here we have the origin of revengeful lovers. The unfortunate paranymph that forms the bait of a degraded passion does not always perceive the insidiousness he loves, and permits himself to be loved, and often amuses those who feign to love him, or who assist indifferently at the unworthy spectacle. Vanity diminishes the vision, and does not permit us to see that, perhaps, in the whirl of a day we have been seen, desired, conquered; and while puffed up with pride we wheel about like a peacock, without perceiving that we are placed upon the stage in order to humiliate and wound him or her who is still more than ever beloved. In some cases we descend so low as to be placed on a level with a mustard cataplasm, or a cupping-glass; the cure – thanks to ourselves – is so quick and perfect, and we are speedily dismissed, like the physician who is paid and saluted impatiently because his services are no longer needed. These, however, are the most unfortunate cases which belong to the most repulsive pathology of the heart; in other instances, revengeful love, through the virtue of either or both of the lovers, becomes a true sentiment which cures the old wounds and opens great horizons of happiness to the man and woman who had become acquainted in such a strange manner. So then it may be said that he who should be the revengeful executor, he who should be the unconscious minister of the justice of love, becomes instead the chief physician and afterward the lover of the offence; while a new sentiment arises upon the ruins of the old affection.

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I certainly do not claim to have explained all the pure and impure sources of love; but I would like to touch upon the most important; I would like to mark with a great flourish of the pen the genealogy of this sentiment. In an analytical work, no matter how much care one takes in order not to detach pertinent things, it is next to impossible to avoid breaking some thread, or destroying something. It frequently occurs that the source of love is not simple but complex, formed by the meeting of several streams, so that it is often difficult to determine whether the newborn be legitimate or a bastard. A slight but sincere sympathy can be associated with great vanity, and the desire for revenge can – fortunately for us – encounter a warm and violent affection. Thus, lechery, vanity, compassion, gratitude can meet at the same time and fecundate a love which later will run pure and limpid in its bed, although its source was a turbulent, muddy stream. Sometimes one loves another not for himself but because that person resembles a person long loved and, perhaps, already lost. Thus it happens that one loves the daughter after having loved the mother; and there have been instances in which one has loved three successive generations. The excessive disproportion in the age of the lovers – a certain mummy perfume which even the most carefully embalmed bodies exhale – gives to these loves a character that compels me to place them at least on the frontiers that separate physiology from pathology; hence I term them physio-pathological. The greater the sympathy, the purer and more fervid those loves of mixed origin; and this element alone would suffice to assign them a place in the hierarchical scale of nobility. The influence which the first origin exercises over love is so lasting and so prepotent that frequently affections which are brought into subjection by grave maladies recover all at once at the tender remembrance of such thoughts as ‘You really loved me one day of your life,’ ‘You are mine alone,’ ‘And yet I loved you!’ It often occurs that a man born in the highest circles and of noblest blood descends gradually to the gutter, loses his dignity, his fortune, even his outer garment of education and manners; but if you observe him attentively, you will certainly find in the nobility of some gesture, in the majesty of his accent, in some fine taste the traces of his distinguished origin, surviving after so much shipwreck. And such is well-born love. I


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have seen passions trailed in the mire of prostitution, tattered and filthy, like velvet rags picked up in the street; I have seen loves sold and bought again, and passed through the hands of a hundred hucksters at the public auction of vice and infamy. But in those poor rags I have always found something which remained intact, and which revealed the ancient and noble origin. With my own eyes I have witnessed fabulous resurrections which seemed miracles, and redemptions that caused me to think of divine intervention and of galley slaves calmed too Arcadian-like in the rose-water bath of our modern philanthropists. When love begins we may doubt the reality of the passion before our eyes. The heart beats more quickly than usual, and in the serene heavenly space some clouds pass and disappear in the deep azure. Perhaps in the distant fog there is an occasional flash; but will we have a storm or fine weather? If the heart is compelled to respond, it may make the same solemn mistakes as the meteorologists of almanacs or universities. Embryos are all similar, and even today the most powerful microscope cannot distinguish the egg of the lion from that of the rabbit. Love too assumes so many and such varied disguises that we are frequently unable to make a good diagnosis. However, it is always easier to perceive love in our own case than in that of others, notwithstanding that it is much more necessary to our happiness to know that we are loved than to feel conscious of being in love. To distinguish in others the true love from the false, my study of physiology will be of service to you; to explore your own heart, a moderate attention to the phase of your sentiments will suffice. One truly loves when to the excruciating cry ‘A Man!’ ‘A Woman!’ a friendly voice in the distance replies, ‘Do not weep; I am here.’ One loves when after hearing that voice the cry is silent and the immense void of desire is filled. One truly loves when all at once one pales and blushes at the sound of a name, or the swish of a garment that approaches. One loves when involuntarily one name alone arises to the lips a hundred times a day. One loves when the eyes are forever fixed on one point of the astronomical quadrant – there where dwells the creature who has become the half of ourselves. One loves when one hurries to the mirror every moment and the question arises within ‘Am I beautiful enough?’ and we penetrate the unquiet glance into the abysses of conscience to inquire of ourselves, ‘Can I be loved?’ One loves when in

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every fibre of the heart, in every atom of the organism the juices of life are excited and hurry on in their winding course through every vein and every nerve so that a deep, intimate, penetrating tumult tells us that something great and unusual is within us – almost a god has visited us. This is true love, which is not appeased by lechery, calmed by ambition, cooled by distance, which does not even disappear in the dreams of the night: to leave us it must carry off with it a great piece of bleeding flesh and broken nerves.

Chapter 4

The First Weapons of Love – Courtship

How subtle and mysterious must be that high chemistry which unites the germinative elements of two organisms of a different sex to rejuvenate life and generate a new organism! It does not suffice that in the calm, tranquil silence of thirty or forty years, lived in part by a man and in part by a woman, the germs are prepared and ready to attract each other; it is not sufficient that the powerful energies of sexual affinities are attracted; that an instantaneous sympathy prepares the spark and the conflagration. All this long labour of nature has prepared everything in order to complete the great phenomenon; but the atoms that seek each other and desire to unite must long remain opposed in order to spur on the desires and centuplicate the energies. So, to the human male has been allotted the aggressive mission; to the female, the difficult task of defending herself. To man, the part I have mentioned is simple and requires only force – physical, moral, intellectual force, or the complication of many elements, but invariably the energy of attack and seduction. His part it is to assail and wreck, one after the other, all the complicated fortifications which woman erects to defend herself, or rather to let herself be conquered slowly and modestly. To woman, on the other hand, nature assigned a task much more difficult and cruel. She must renounce that which she desires; she must struggle against the voluptuousness which invades her; she must repel him whom she loves, exact sacrifices where she would only ask kisses. She must be avaricious when everything urges her to be generous; she must collect all her poor strength to defend a door ferociously attacked, and must cry out aloud, ‘Wait!’ to him who longs to press her lovingly to his bosom.

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The battles of desire and coquetry, fervour and modesty, impatience and reticence are fought in various countries and different epochs with a widely different strategy and tactics, but all can be reduced to this general formula. Even when the sweet chain of sympathy prepares a sure love for two lovers, the one says, ‘I want it,’ the other replies, ‘Wait!’ the one says, ‘Immediately,’ and the other answers, ‘Later on.’ When the sexes exchange strategy and tactics, and invert the amorous mission, there arises always a violent discord, while virtue and aesthetics are shipwrecked. At Paraguay, where the customs are free and easy, a most impatient young man, who had every reason to believe himself loved, repeated in every key, from the most tender to the most impassioned notes, with a sobbing voice and tyrannical accent, this one word ‘Today!’ And the beautiful Creole, who knew nothing of Darwin and the sexual election, replied smilingly: ‘But how could you expect it today when you have only known me for ten days? In two months perhaps … ’ With this ingenuous reply that young girl of Paraguay marked the philosophy of courtship and coquetry – the fundamental lines of the physiology of sexes. The more beautiful half of the human species daily throws in our faces the brutal accusation that we are much less exacting in our tastes, and that, content with the external forms, we rarely ever seek to discover what the contents are. And this is natural: the different missions which are assigned the two sexes in the amorous strategy require as much. If certain curves exercise such an immediate sway over us, it is because in them we seek involuntarily, and without knowing it, the good mother and the good nurse, and oftener than it appears, voluptuousness prepares the welfare of future generations. To render a human female fruitful, who will be a good mother and a good nurse, the flash of a desire and the instantaneous heat of a battle suffice; but woman does not seek a fertilizer alone, she wants a defender of future children, a protector of her own weakness; she wants to assure herself of the force of the passion of him who says he loves her; she would cast the sounding line into the abysses of the heart and mind. The man must build the nest; is he an architect? He must defend it from rapacious animals; is he courageous? He must educate and enrich his sons; has he genius, has he ambition, has he tenacity of purpose? It is necessary to know all this. She


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is already aware that she is young and beautiful. Many times have the ardent rays of a thousand desires showered upon her. All at once numerous adorers fall at her feet – all young, perhaps, also handsome and robust; but she does not want a man. She wants the man who will be long, powerfully, and ardently hers. Here in this first weaving of love we read the inexorable laws which govern it; we see how clearly nature explains to us the inevitable fickleness of human males, their rambling polygamy, and their very powerful requirements; just as the modesty, chastity, and sublime reticence of the woman remain the faithful guardians of the destinies of the future family. Many of these elementary strategies have been lost in the stormy vicissitudes of modern civilization; it is requisite to scrape off the varnish and wrench away the tatters in order to feel the robust members of the chief passion; nevertheless, we come to find, through the multiform hypocrisy, the kernel of the thing. Even in those rare and fortunate cases of love at first sight, it is but proper that man and woman should court each other for a longer or shorter period of time, that they should show each other in a hundred ways their physical, moral, and intellectual beauty. After having been rapidly conquered by a glance, they must reconquer each other every day, every hour with the seductions of the heart, of grace, and of genius. It is meet that we should lay at the feet of the great god every beauty, every virtue, every perfection of ours. From morning till night we glean from the fields and gardens, we go roaming through forests and over mountains in order to bring to the altars of our idol every leaf, every flower, and every fruit which our hands can snatch away from fruitful nature. Sublime vying of homage and tribute – sublime profusion of riches and forces! Even the woman who feels sure of being loved brings daily to the altars a fresh sheaf, a fresh bouquet of flowers, and exclaims exultantly, ‘This too is yours!’ And the man who likewise does not doubt that he is the god of his companion approaches every moment the door of the temple, he also bearing with him a new fruit, a new treasure, and always repeating, ‘This too is yours!’ These reciprocal coquetries succeed, especially where the difference is greater between the two lovers, whether this proceeds from different sympathy, age, beauty – from whatever diversity there is between the two who must unite to generate one individual alone. It is natural, then, that

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the increased energies of the one conquer by degrees the treasures of the other, so that the differences vanish and that equilibrium arises without which a perfect love is impossible. A thousand volumes would not suffice to describe the artifices with which man conquers the love of a woman, to enumerate the hundred thousand arts with which woman heats the tepid sympathies, or carries to delirium the grand passion. In many cases the lover removes a step, the landmark of his hot desires, and while the eager and ardent hand is about to cull the fruit, it is withdrawn, impelled by an invisible and cruel hand. ‘Higher, higher, higher still,’ says the young girl to the little dog that jumps to seize the biscuit from her rosy hands; and ‘Higher, higher still,’ cry, and should cry, the women of the entire world to the man who sighingly asks for their love. Longer, more persistent, fiercer is the battle between desire and conquest, but richer is the trophy of victory. The daughters of Eve never weep for the time lost in the first skirmishes of love: not only do long wars prepare the most splendid victories, but the first struggles are of themselves alone a better part of the amorous paradise, for a long train of easy conquests is not worth one fiery and bloody battle of courtship. If then, O daughters of Eve! you have the brilliant but dangerous mission of defending yourselves from a compact phalanx of adorers, redouble the arts of strategy and tactics. If you are really powerful, victory must attend you, and you will choose the best of the excellent. Educate impatience, and kill the weak with time. The first to retire will be the pallid loves and desires of libertinism. True and deep passions know no impatience, ignore weariness; and fighting and advancing every day, they leave the disputed field strewn with corpses. And when you, tired in turn, will extend your hand to those who have waited and struggled long, rest assured that you are superior to others. It is to be regretted that we have no word in our language which expresses physiological seduction – the conquest of love by way of the laws of nature. The English call it courtship; and Darwin, adopting this word in a much broader sense and for all animals, has given it a precious and wholly scientific stamp. Coquetry is only a form of this art of seduction and conquest. Frequent enough in woman, it is also found in man; and it is so deeply rooted in some natures that it rises prior to puberty and disappears only with death. Physiological seduction is a


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necessity; coquetry is a vice. The longing to please is one of the most fundamental elements of love; it is one of its most valid instruments. When the conquest is made, the physiological seduction lowers the weapons and retires. Coquetry, on the contrary, is immoral and is daily renewed with fresh ardour and burning desire. To satisfy coquetry, it is necessary to awaken daily a new desire in former conquests, and new passions in those who are not yet conquered. It does not matter whether we share the passion or not, above all we wish to be loved by many; and in the less culpable cases we wish to weave around true love a garland of sympathy. While the heart is conceded to one alone, we dispense smiles, sighs, perhaps also half-chaste kisses and semi-libertine caresses to those we do not wish to lose as adorers and whom it is well to keep in bondage, binding them to us with the subtle but tenacious thread of hope. In more serious cases, the heart cannot give itself to any one because it is promised to all, and to many the ruthless task of pleasure wearies the sentiment and thus breaks the vertebrae of the character so as to render impossible the development of any sincere and ardent affection. The most indefatigable coquettes and the most untiring swells never love; and if virtue consists in not falling in love, then coquetry is the first and holiest thing. The moral sense revolts on beholding many women selling hourly their smiles and desires, posing as Lucretias, playing daringly with emotions which they do not feel and with love which does not burn them, hurling anathemas at the one who falls but once, carried away by a true and strong passion, and who was guilty of no other wrong than of believing a lie impossible, treachery impossible. The virtue of the coquette is like that of asbestos, which resists the fire by reason of its incapacity to burn; it is a virtue entirely physical, anatomical; and he who appreciates it possesses not even a shadow of moral sense, nor has he even read a page of the physiology of the human heart. O reader, if you have the misfortune to love a coquettish woman, never forget that coquetry belongs to the history of the lechery of sentiment. If you thirst for love, go seek it elsewhere, for you have mistaken the road that leads to it. Where you are you seek play and folly, artificial fire, the unrestrained laughter of the masquerader; but you do not seek ardent voluptuousness, nor the sublime palpitations of affection, which never were united to coquetry.

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True love, which does not seek only voluptuousness but the full, absolute, and complete possession of the entire person of the beloved one, cannot manage the subtle arts of the coquette’s politics, because it cannot have the patience to study them nor the calmness to learn them. It is a genius that knows not how to adapt itself to the domestic cares of the housewife; it is a general who knows how to fight battles, but who pays no heed to the buttons of the uniforms and the regulations of the barracks. Love shines, thunders, fulminates, threatens, and prays; disordered, it overthrows; wounded, it kills, curses, and blesses; but it is wrong in one thing alone: it does not know the game of chess. Coquetry, on the contrary, is the most famous chess-player ever known. Natural seduction is the art of making our good qualities appreciated, by presenting them in the best possible manner. To please, we try our best to improve ourselves, and, made beautiful by nature and art, we knock at the door through which the affections enter. Man, who is the stronger of the two who love and who from strength derives his most irresistible seductions, after having shaken his leonine hair throws himself at the feet of the woman and begs an alms of love. And woman, who is the weaker, loves to toss with her gentle hands the hair of the king of animals, to tantalize him and enjoy the superhuman voluptuousness of placing her foot on strength, to feel it tremble, and be able to say, ‘It is mine!’ This is one of the most general forms of the reciprocal seduction of the sexes; and when man, on his knees and, perhaps, weeping, pleads for love, he obeys one of the most inexorable laws of nature. Lion for all, lamb for me! Such is the man who desires a woman. When grace has conquered strength, the daughter of Eve feels herself complete; and when the man senses his rough skin caressed by the soft flesh of a woman’s body, he also fancies himself redoubled; and both, in the fullness of bliss, feel themselves changed into that perfect being which is – the union of man and woman. When a difficult problem of the moral world presents itself to us, the only way to resolve it is to simplify it and reconduct it to the broad highway of physiology. We should read and reread the great book of nature, seek to follow blindly the laws of the human world. This is evident at every step in our studies on the sentiment of love. What are the elements that render one woman more seductive than all others? Beauty,


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grace, affection. Which are the qualities that render one man more fascinating than all others? Strength, courage, genius. Behold seduction and sympathy, which seem the most foolish and the most mysterious things in the world, reconducted to the virgin source of the physiology of the sexes. Man should become more manly than ever in order to seduce and conquer the love of the daughters of Eve; and woman should always endeavour to be more womanly in order to please the sons of Adam. And both should refine and elevate the type of their respective sex, from excelsior to excelsior, elevating it to where human hands and poets’ hearts unite. Woman decks herself with all the allurements of art; she braids her hair with the perfumed flowers of sentiment, squanders the most elegant graces, and is consumed with the fire of all her physical and moral seductions; but at the bottom of all this there ever remains the female, and under the wings of the angel and the cherub there is always an Eve. And man tortures his ambition in order to bend it under the heel of love, and spurs on his genius so that he may throw his treasures at the feet of his idol, whether he be a hero or a martyr, a Spartan or a Caesar, a domesticated lion or one that roars; but in his loves let him always be manly, so that, underneath his heroism and his genius, the woman may always find an Adam. Seduction is neither baseness nor violence, treachery nor tyranny when it is inspired by a true and a great love; when it is the alliance of all our forces guided by the most legitimate, the most powerful, the most ardent of our desires – that of loving and being loved. Without love, seduction is a raping of voluptuousness, or else illicit trading on the part of inordinate vanity: it is either a crime or a vice.

Chapter 5


Modesty is one of the psychical phenomena whose physiology it is more difficult to determine, for the reason that it is very vague and indistinct, although in some of its forms domineering and quite demanding; because it varies in the different races; and because, forming a part of the energies which develop in the approach of the sexes, it seems instead to keep them apart and, born of love, appears as though it wished to thwart its supreme end. I acknowledge that I myself, as the years went by, changed the idea I first had of modesty, and which I treated in The Physiology of Pleasure. At first it seemed to me a sentiment that rises within us in childhood and youth, spontaneous as egotism, self-respect, love; and then again I became persuaded that modesty is taught first and learned afterward; for which reason it is one of those sentiments which I term acquired or secondary. Modesty is an extra current of love, and has its principal source in those very powerful energies which, by means of a battle or a choice, must relight the torch of life. The animals demonstrate to us some forms emanating from modesty. Many of them conceal themselves in making their sacrifice to voluptuousness; numerous females, sought by the male, begin by fleeing, resisting, by hiding that which they desire to concede. And this is probably an irreflective, automatic act; it is, perhaps, a form of fear, which rises before the aggressive requirements of the male; but these flights, these resistances, these phantoms of modesty have the scope to excite the female as much as the male, and to prepare a soil more suitable for fecundation. It is possible that the animals conceal their loves from our gaze in order to place themselves in security from danger, knowing that in those supreme moments they are exposed to every attack; but until the psychology of brutes becomes less complex, we are justified in thinking that modesty is known also to them. If this be


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true, then we would find the fact justified that also in superior animals this sentiment appears first in the female, to whom the anatomy of the organs and the defensive mission in the battles of love render the acts of chastity more spontaneous and natural. And also to the human female, nature has assigned the same mission, making her, naturally, a hundred times more modest than the male. The first hand brought by woman to cover parts which the male wished to see, called forth the first energies of the sentiment of modesty, which arose, therefore, with the first forms of coquetry. Man and woman, then living together in the family or in the tribe, were naturally forced to become, independent of their greater psychical development, the most modest animals, because the female is subject to disagreeable periodical infirmity, and man presents other genital phenomena which, if not concealed, would attract too much attention from others and excite perturbation in males and females. It is therefore most natural that almost all races of the earth present some form of modesty; that, also in man, the female should be more modest than the male, because the aggressive mission which is reserved to us by nature renders modesty dangerous and almost impossible, at least in the final battles. Love born in this way is taught together with many other things by men to children, as the latter until puberty could not distinguish the special worth of the copulative organs, nor the aggressive mission of the male, nor the thousand offensive and defensive vicissitudes of love. Perhaps, however, modesty rises spontaneously, or rather by inheritance, in the more perfect and elevated natures. Hence, we teach modesty to him who of himself would not know it, and we trace the frontiers in a way to circumscribe it to the purely genital territory, or to enlarge it beyond the amorous confines. Sherihat30 ordered the Turkish women to cover the back of the hand, but permitted them to expose the palm. The Armenian women of southern India cover the mouth even at home, and when they go out they wrap themselves in white linen. The married live in great seclusion, and for many years they cannot see their male relatives, and they conceal their faces even from the father-in-law and mother-inlaw. These two examples, elected from a thousand that might be cited,

30 The sacred law of the Turkish empire [Editor].

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suffice to persuade us that accessory and conventional elements which, physiologically considered, do not belong to true modesty, are often joined to it. We ourselves, without leaving Europe, find that the confines of modesty are marked in many countries by the various fashions, not according to morality or the requirements of sex but according to the national mode of dress. He who exchanged these conventional elements for modesty could write the great psychological heresy that this sentiment had its origin in the custom of covering oneself. We must not confound with true modesty those other aesthetic needs which compel us to conceal some repugnant actions of our animal life. The true sentiment of modesty defends from profane eye the organs and the mysteries of love and those parts of the body which directly or indirectly relate to it, as I have demonstrated in my Physiology of Pleasure.31 We behold almost all nations concealing first the genitals, afterward the flanks, the bosom, the legs, the arms, then the entire trunk, and, finally, also the head; but here modesty yields the place to the requirements of social intercourse or of jealousy. The sentiment of modesty is one of the most changeable in form and degree, and we will write its ethnical history in the volume which we will dedicate to the ethnology of love.32 Here it will suffice to indicate how I divide people into immodest, semi-modest, and modest, depending on how they manifest scarcely perceptible traces of modesty, or greater or less development of this sentiment. Modesty is not like intelligence or the sentiment of the beautiful, or other psychical phenomena, which demonstrate an ascending and regular progress, rising by degrees from the lowest races to the highest; for which reason it cannot be taken alone as a dynamometer of progress. The Tehuelches of South America bathe very often, and generally before dawn, but men and women go down to the water separately; they are a very modest people, who never in any case doff the chiripà.33 And we have the Japanese who, with a hundred times greater civilization than the Tehuelches, are much inferior to them in modesty. The Malaysians are very modest, and the Greeks and Romans were not too much so. Thus, without going further than

31 Milan, 1870, p. 189 [Author]. 32 Mantegazza, Quaopi della natura umana; Gli amori degli nomini [Author]. 33 Gauchos (trousers) [Editor].


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our race and time, we have women who would let themselves die rather than subject themselves to an examination with the speculum, and we have men of great intelligence and lofty passions who confess that they feel scarcely a shadow of modesty. In the higher races, overlooking the few exceptions and taking the human groups in a great mass, we can say that modesty, like all psychical phenomena of an elevated order, increases, becomes refined, and presents the most delicate forms, the greater the moral and intellectual worth of a people. The nations the most moral and furthest advanced in civilization are also the most modest. Modesty is one of the choicest forms of seduction and of the reticence of love; it is an extra current of the great fundamental phenomena of generation; it is a physical respect for one’s self; it is one of those psychical phenomena of the highest order. Faithful companion of love, it is a sentiment which in superior natures has infinite mysteries, unutterable delicacy, attitudes which merit a Montyon prize,34 glances which are a paradise, words and sighs which deserve to be rendered immortal by the pen of an artist. He who has the immodest or semi-immodest nature of the Fuegano or the Japanese loses more than one-half of the treasures of love, and resembles the man who without the sense of smell admires the flowers of a garden. Woman is the vestal of modesty, the teacher of its most select forms, and if she is a virgin and pure as crystal, she possesses intact the treasure of the most perfect chastity. Strolling through the garden of love, she loses some of its gems, and she loses more if her companion helps her to scatter the treasure. It is exceedingly rare, though, that a woman, even in the exciting and fatiguing races of a thousand loves, loses all that wealth of modesty with which nature has enriched her. Even in the fastest and most libertine life, even in the fetidness of prostitution, we see with infinite wonder some diamonds flash, which the fire of lechery knew not how to burn nor the mire of amorous simony to soil. We remain astonished and moved at such a power of resistance in a sentiment that

34 A series of prizes established before the French Revolution by the Baron de Montyon to be awarded by the Académie Française, the Académie des Sciences, and the Académie Nationale de Médecine [Editor].

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seemed so delicate and fragile. And as long as a piece of sacred earth remains to woman upon which grows one only, the poorest flower of modesty, virtue is not all dead and rehabilitation is still possible. Bow your heads before this flower, O jesting negators of every feminine virtue, O insatiable tormentors of wantonness; respect that piece of sacred earth, do not pluck that last poor flower from a garden which you have unleafed and deflowered! Modesty is never excessive when it is sincere; it is never too exacting when it rises spontaneously from the heart of a lofty nature; it is a sentiment which can inspire only noble things and prepare us for sublime joys. Modesty has such power that it elevates to the highest spheres ignorance and simplicity, and encloses in an aureole of light the most plebeian loves as well as the most sublime; it contains in itself such aesthetic energies as to suffocate with flowers the beastliest roar of the boldest man, to cover with an impenetrable veil the most immodest secrets of the animal man. Without linen or other garments this sublime magician knows how to cover a nude body with a mantle that renders it invisible and impenetrable to lust: guardian and priest of love, it follows it at every step and defends it from the mire as from the fire, and, directing its glance upward, elevates and sanctifies it. Economical educator of the forces of love, it preserves them always fresh and young, and when the first kiss causes the first virgin flower to fall from the brow of the woman, modesty raises up new and ever virgin blossoms before the steps of the two lovers. Linen that conceals, glass that covers, balsam which stops every putrefaction, modesty is the most powerful preserver of long affections; and, perhaps, immodesty has killed more loves than has infidelity. If the sentiment of modesty were not a great virtue, it would be the most faithful companion of voluptuousness, the greatest generator of exquisite joys. An ardent thirst and an inebriating bowl: what joy, but what danger of satiety! Now then, the bowl is full, foaming with lust; the lips are inflamed and half open to the most voluptuous kisses of the sweet liquor; but the bowl is held between the hands of Modesty, who with suavest art satisfies the thirst and renews it: so that the lips remain eternally half-open and thirsty, and in the chalice the liquor lasts forever. Admirable prodigy of an immense wealth, which finds in itself the fountains of renovation and perpetuation; stupendous spectacle of the


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most gigantic of forces confided to the hands of a maiden who guides and governs it! We should early teach modesty to our boys and especially to our girls, elevating it, refining it so that it may be a sincere and delicate sentiment and not the hypocrisy of conventionality. One can be modestly nude, just as one can be cynically immodest with the body covered like an onion. We teach our young girls to lower the eyes before the glance of him who seeks and desires them, and then we take them to the theatre, where the ballet-dancers are more than nude below the waist, and the ladies are nude above the waist; so that add together the two immodest halves of the two very different classes of women, one constitutes a single woman entirely nude and entirely immodest. We teach our daughters to conceal even the foot from the wanton eyes of man, and then we confide them to the dressmaker so that she may increase with the needle the too modest curves of nature and wantonly bend the lines which innocent youth still left chaste and modest. True hypocrites of the sixteenth century, with one hand we hide the countenance, while with the other we go on studying lasciviousness. As long as this profound hypocrisy continues to absorb the marrow of modern society, even modesty will be less sincere and can exercise but the weakest influence to elevate and refine our loves; nor do I know if, with all the wanton chastity that distinguishes us, we can have the right to inscribe ourselves proudly in the classes of modest nations. If it be true that hypocrisy is a homage rendered to virtue, let us wait until the epoch of transition is past, and we can feel ourselves as virtuous as we pretend to be.

Chapter 6

The Virgin

Since in grammar it is written that adjectives may be either masculine or feminine, it follows that man too can be virginal; but between his virginity and that of the woman there is an abyss which it is impossible to sound. A male virgin is a man who knows not the mysteries of the embrace; but of this innocence or of this ignorance he bears no trace in his body and often neither in his heart nor mind; since vice with its thousand subterfuges and nature with its thousand pitfalls can have made him more impure than a courtesan, although he can boast of never having violated a vow made to a chaste woman, to a prejudice, or to any of the many tyrannies of the will. The female virgin, on the contrary, is an entire world; she is a temple to which the people of all nations bear the tribute of their homage, their folly, and their adoration; so that to write the story is to write the greater part of the ethnography of love. In this book, however, we will confine ourselves to our European virgin, just as nature chiselled her in the secrets of the maternal womb, and as the civilization of our times sacrifices her on the altars of Mammon, of love, or of lechery. Nature, creating the human virgin, has left to the torment of our meditations one of the most obscure and tremendous problems. It was not enough that sixteen long years were required to make a child a woman; it was not enough that only through long and cruel struggles all the moral bulwarks would fall which keep us far from the temple of love; neither the strategy and tactics of defence nor the impenetrable veils of modesty sufficed to carry the impatience of desire to folly. All this seemed yet little to avaricious and cruel nature; and when to your yes another yes responded, when barricades and bulwarks fell, when the long coquetry of refusal is tired and modesty blushingly retires in a corner to


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relish the delights of an ardently sighed-for defeat, then, just there, at the doors of the sacred temple, a terrible angel with a flaming sword forbids you to enter, saying, ‘There is a virgin here.’ The rose is pressed to your lips, closed of course, but beautiful and fragrant as the dawn of spring, all compact in the chaste confusion of its hundred leaves; but to imprint thereon a kiss your lips must bleed, for the virgin is the thorn of a rose. Profound mystery! There on that threshold, two natures widely different, and yet so ardently enamoured, have arrived through a thousand obstacles and a thousand battles: that was the rendezvous where they were to empty together the bowl of voluptuousness; but there, on that threshold, is the angel of pain, and through a wound, through a butchery you must attain bliss. Cruel mystery! The poor creature who is to be mother, nurse, and vestal of the family, the woman who in the long sleepless nights of youth has pictured love as the most fragrant flower, the sweetest fruit in the gardens of life, must reap the goal through pain, nature reminding her from the first kiss, ‘O daughter of Eve, you will love and bring forth children but with much pain!’ And happy to belong to one alone, happy to be possessed and to possess, she must see in the bleeding hands the delicate petals of the first flower which she culled in the garden of voluptuousness. And yet, among those petals lacerated and heated with innocent blood, man has erected a temple where the three most formidable passions of the human heart receive adoration, and there he has crowded as many elements of idolatry, of passion, of fury, of virtue as his brain can comprehend. There, upon a rosy piece of flesh finer and smaller than the lips of a newborn, selfishness, love, and the sense of ownership find themselves pressed together to conspire against human happiness, as also to prepare the most ardent voluptuousness. ‘Mine! – mine for the first time! – mine forever!’ Three cries, one more formidable than the other, which love, pride, and the sense of ownership exclaim in chorus in the apotheosis of delirium and the shuddering of the flesh. There is a first term for all series, there is a virgin for all things human: to be first is vastly different from being second. Now nature wished to consecrate anatomically the first kiss, the first embrace; to incarnate in a physical action that tremendous union called first love.

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And civilized man, suspicious, jealous, avaricious, thanks nature for condescending to bear testimony to the purity of a woman, and blesses it for having known how to bind fast a compact of faith, which no one can ever violate with impunity. The Lombards presented the morgincap 35 immediately after the first night of matrimony; and this famous gift, prize of virginity, often equalled the fourth part of the husband’s wealth. Some shrewd spouses – adds malicious history – had the good sense to stipulate a gift beforehand, because they were too sure of not meriting it. Although we are not Lombards, still we promise to all our young girls a morgincap, provided they know how to guard intact until the supreme day of official first love the sacred veil which is the closed door of the temple wherein men are born. This morgincap is a husband; it is the esteem, veneration, adoration of everybody. With that veil intact you are a saint, a virgin, an angel, the goal of all desires; you may dream of the most foolish ambitions, you may become a queen tomorrow. But should that very fragile veil be rent, you are young, you are beautiful, you are, perhaps, as pure as you were yesterday, but you are nothing more than a human female. The temple is violated, the idol is overthrown, the priests have fled crying anathemas and invoking upon the head of the victim the vengeance of their god. What mysteries and injustices! I seem really to be in the world of exorcism and magic. The poet finds not only one, but a thousand theories to explain the virgin. The thorn beside the rose, the temple guarded by the wings of an angel, the first voluptuousness consecrated by a first pain, and the destinies of future beings marked from the first kiss, all spasms and sweetness; and an infinite mystery which covers with its dawn one of the grandest and most beautiful scenes of the human world; such is the virgin of the poet. And the moralist also finds in his theological theories a hundred reasons for the explanation of the virgin. The guardian of virtue consecrated

35 As emerges from Mantegazza’s elaboration of the term, the morgincap (a term of German origin meaning ‘morning gift’) was a gift that husbands made to their wives after their first night together, either to reward them for their efforts or as a prize for their virginity. The gift consisted of the allocation of a portion of the husband’s wealth to his wife [Editor].


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by a material defence, a gentle admonition that love will bring us a thousand sorrows, a sure guarantee of the honesty of the spouse given to the bridegroom in the most solemn manner, a precious ‘earnest’ of future faith, of lasting domestic felicity; behold the virgin of the theologian. But the naturalist shakes his head and rejects the virgin of the poet, and laughs at the virgin of the theologian. Every organ wants its function, every effect must have its cause; to every why must respond wherefore. For me the virgin is a novice angel; she is the first shadow of a future separation of two things which are still brutally united in us: the organs of love and the organs of one of the basest secretions. The more living creatures elevate themselves, the more they subdivide their labours, and in a creature higher than we, love will certainly have a special and reserved territory. From the greater sewer we have arrived at two lesser ones; a step further on and we will have three organs and three apparati; one of the greatest physical embarrassments of the body will be cancelled. If my Darwinian theory does not satisfy you, then nothing remains but the following fable of mine, which I especially recommend to you because, if it does not give you the scientific why and wherefore of the virgin, it gives you, however, almost the entire physiology. One day pride, love, and the sense of possession were called before God to give an account of the continued and bloody wars which they waged with one another, never according to the poor sons of Adam one moment of peace or joy. The Eternal Father was in a very bad humour that day, and, having given the gentlemen a violent scolding, concluded thus: ‘In a word, if you do not cease to torment men with your interminable discords, and if you do not give me here, today, a proof of your reconciliation, I will expel you from earth and hurl you into the eternal flames of hell.’ The three sentiments proffered many excuses in their defence, but there was no alternative: it was either make peace, or go to hell. After a long and protracted discussion, they decided to make a work in common, in which each should take part, and returning to the presence of God, they presented to Him the virgin, a most beautiful and precious creature, in whom it is difficult to decide which of the three accomplices took the lead in the invention. They say that God laughed heartily and dismissed in peace those three architects, saying, ‘In my infinite wisdom I would never have imagined a similar folly.’

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Now I think that if I were to ask God if – after so many centuries of the existence of the virgin – he felt contented to have let her live, he would certainly answer yes. She is a creature who does a great deal more good than evil, and were there a question of trust or mistrust, very few men would vote against her. I do not know whether all women would vote with us, but I believe that the best, the most virtuous, the most beautiful, the most poetical would be on our side. Open temples are always less sacred than closed ones, and a mystery, and, still more, a sanctum sanctorum helps to elevate and inflame idolatry. And is not love the greatest idolatry? A virgin is ours a thousand times more than any other woman; she must love much, or at least she must desire intensely to be caressed, to descend from the pedestal of the idol to come to us; to descend from the altar and tread the common evil of earthly life. And the mystery of the unknown, the fascination of primacy, and being the first teacher of the art of love centuplicate for us the sweet joys of a first embrace. Then again the dreadful fear of finding the temple violated holds us suspended over the abysses of desperation and voluptuousness, of which we sound at very short intervals the depths of pain, the ineffable delights. And woman too, who knows she is a virgin, measures the greatness of the sacrifice, and if she has the good fortune to find it equal to the immensity of affection in her heart, experiences the greatest voluptuousness that can vibrate in one moment alone nerves and thoughts, senses and sentiments. She has already given her heart with all its affections to her god; today she gives the seal which confirms the possession of her entire self; and after having divided with a companion all that she has, all that she feels, all that she desires, she gives him also her blood, and in blood perpetuates the most sacred oath a human creature could take. She confides herself naked, weak, weaponless to a powerful, armed, invulnerable man! What passion, what abnegation, what voluptuousness! An angel yesterday, she permits her lover to tear away her wings, and becomes again a woman in order to be wife, friend, mother. Priestess of a temple, she burns upon the altar of love the white garments of the vestal and says, sobbing with joy and sorrow: ‘I am thine, all thine: is there anything I can still offer thee? Tell me and I will give it thee; I have clipped my wings so that thou couldst raise me on the pinions of thy genius; I have burned


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my temple in order to live only in the temple of thy heart; I have renounced the religion of my dreams to be nothing but thy companion; do not betray me; I was thy virgin, and now I am only thy wife. Have for me an immense love, an immense pity!’ And yet it must be said, in order to cause some to pale with rancour who will read these pages, that there are men who dare to accept the sacrifice of the virgin albeit they are not priests of love; there are those who receive the victim without having received from nature the sacrificial knife; there are those who dare to accomplish it with the coarse knife of the surgeon; there are those who for the lightning of love dare to substitute a mechanical artifice; there are those still who prostitute the virgin without making her a woman! And there are men who rail at the angel with the drivel of the viper. Miserable wretches: amid the tears of shame and humiliation, the wife can dream of an infinite adultery, offended human dignity can avenge itself, the profaned virgin can betray a thousand times, and soar to heaven crying anathema against the sacrilegious profaner of the temple; the grand jury of all humanity can rise in the majesty of its omnipotence and spit in the face of the impotent man, who has dared to ask of heaven an angel and of man a virgin, and a chorus of sneering demons flagellate him, bind him to the great pillory of ridicule, and proclaim him in the loudest voice the vilest, the last among men! The anatomical fact which constitutes virginity has, however, the gravest inconvenience of being generally understood, so that the masses, proud and happy to be able to solve the question of virtue with the eyes and with the hands, throw brutally upon the most delicate scales of the world the sword of Brennus.36 Let philosophers and sentimentalists prattle as they will about purity of heart and the frontiers of virtues; for the common people there are only virgin women or the violated: and physics with its resistances of elasticity, and geometry with its diameters

36 A Gallic leader who occupied Rome but did not succeed in taking the Capitol from Marcus Manlius Capitolinus. His name is associated with the episode of a Roman citizen’s complaint when the tribute the Romans had agreed to pay was being weighed. Throwing his sword on the scale, Brennus cried, ‘Vae victis’ (Woe to the vanquished) [Editor].

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solve a problem over which the minds of many thinkers work hard. And in this respect the greater part of civilized man is vulgar, and many who know how to weep with tenderness and to soar very high, come to a standstill in the presence of the brutality of an action, acknowledge themselves conquered, and embitter life, thinking that the woman whom they have chosen for a life companion did not shed her blood upon the altar of the first kiss. Science stoutly affirms that virginity, even anatomically, has many varied forms, and can be lacking in women who have never felt the breath of man. I myself, in a medical capacity, have seen with my own eyes some very young children who were without the famous seal with which nature seems to enclose and consecrate the virgin; and I sighed as I contemplated the little ones, thinking that for them virtue and innocence would some day be of no avail in the presence of an ignorant and brutal man. And then, even when anatomy does not betray woman in this way, a fall, a shock can without crime cancel the fragile seal, which is for many the only and secure guarantee of virtue and purity. Nor does this suffice; often, in early childhood, when vice and libertinism are unknown words in the dictionary of a little girl, the lascivious trifling of a too precocious youth, or the posthumous lechery of a wretched old man, can violate the palladium of anatomical virginity, although the mirror of the heart may not be exactly dimmed; and later, when the mysteries of love appear clear to the still chaste maiden, she may feel pure and proud of herself, and carry her head high, not knowing that she has not the star of physical purity. How many domestic misfortunes this has caused! How many first nights of love have become infernal nights, how many ties have been dissolved by a prejudice, a suspicion, a calumny, which would have been a garland of the purest and most sublime joys! How many lives cruelly embittered by the brutal elasticity of a veil more fleeting than the remnant of a cloud that melts away in the first rays of the sun! And you, jurors of feminine honesty, who with so much assurance and brutality pass sentence upon hearts and virginity, have you never thought of the thousand and one compulsions through which a young, beautiful, and courted woman must pass, and that before becoming a spouse she must struggle with her own ignorance and the lust of others,


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with the surprises of the senses and with the studied artifices of lechery? A moment of weakness, an instant of inordinate curiosity, can dim but not stain the virtue of a woman, who can be before and after as pure as rock crystal. No; virginity is a great thing, it is the most brilliant diamond in the crown of youthful virtue; but it is not all of woman, it is not all of virtue. How many wretches who were never pure save in the maternal womb, and who with studied lust and infinite art preserve intact the physical veil of virtue through the lasciviousness of a hundred lovers, and full of profound wisdom and prudent libertinage, weary of lechery, bring to the altar of official first love their virginity! Beautiful treasure indeed; a diamond fallen a hundred times in the mire and a hundred times picked up and washed! Beautiful gem – a piece of flesh preserved pure in a prostituted body! A flower grown up on a lump of clay in the midst of a stinking marsh! And men often cull this flower with holy devotion, and they kiss it, adore it, perhaps after having hurled an insult at the pure and virtuous girl who had all but a seal, like the registered letter sent back by the postal clerk because it lacked a drop of sealing wax. How often have I wept with rancour, listening to mothers teaching their daughters this one dogma of virtue: ‘Preserve physical virginity!’ How often have I cursed modern morals which teach the spouse: ‘Above all, no scandal!’ These, then, are the morals of this century of hypocrisy: ‘Virgin first, prudent afterward’; behold the virtue of woman! An eye to the seal first, an eye to the keyhole later on: behold the perfect woman of the nineteenth century. The excessive, brutal, and bestial worth given to virginity by modern society has created the infamous art of manufacturing virgins; how many times has virginity two, five, ten different editions, not all improved but always correct and revised; and the idiot husbands and lovers have applauded the new virtue, the purest virtue, baptized in the apocryphal blood of who knows what mammal, tempered in the astringent juice of who knows what bark! The prostitution of the century of hypocrisy could not be more cynically avenged. You have an entirely physical and chemical idea of the virtue of a woman; now then, advanced civilization gives you what you desire; it makes for you a chemical and physical virginity, and calls to its aid also some gymnastics, dice-boxes, and natural magic.

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Mundus vult decipi, ergo decipiatur.37 You curse the pure and holy woman who is a virgin at heart, who has never loved, but on whom the Lombards could not have bestowed the prize of the morgincap. Virginity exists: it exists in the physical nature of the human female, it exists in the sanctuary of civil morals, but it does not begin and end in a piece of flesh more or less intact; in us it is anatomy and it is the physical; together with the purity which is tried virtue. The moral fact must be found together with the purity which is tried by the criterion of the senses if we want purity of heart, the adamantine transparency of character. The human virgin, the virgin of civilized man, is not the virgin of the savage, an oyster that can be opened only with a knife; she is a creature on whom the social mire has not thrown a drop of its splash; she is a woman who was loved, perhaps, and desired by many, but who never belonged to any man. She is ignorant of lasciviousness, ignorant of the art of hiding vice under the brilliant varnish of virtue; she blushes at an impure word, a too ardent gesture, an impertinent pressure of the hand. The virgin woman knows that she is intact, because she too has sighed and desired, but has never given her heart to any man; she knows that she is pure, because into the sanctuary of her purity no profane hand has ever penetrated. She has not half opened any part of her garments, any fissure of her heart, any tabernacle of her treasures. She is white as the snow that caps the summits of the Alps, where foot of marten nor wing of insect has ever rested; she is pure as the spring which gushes from the granite in a grotto never explored by human foot; she knows everything or knows nothing, but she blushes with wisdom as with ignorance, only her heart beats faster at the sight of a man. She is a virgin because she is modest; she is modest because she is a virgin; she is a virgin and modest because she is a woman. The female virgin was seen naked twice; the day of her birth, but by her mother alone; the day when she became a woman, and she alone saw herself, blushed with shame, and wept, and asked of nature the why of the sad mystery. No one will ever see her naked again but one man, and then only after she will have given him her heart; she will blush 37 The world wants to be deceived, so let it be deceived. A saying ascribed to the Latin author Petronius [Editor].


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then also more than ever, and the entire virgin, physical and moral, will fall fainting at the feet of love and will become a spouse, perhaps also a mother. And you, O mothers, who were virgins, when you teach your daughters what a treasure is virginal purity, give them together with a lesson in anatomy and physiology – which perhaps they do not need – a lesson in high morality. Tell them that to the man they love they must concede everything; to the man they do not love, nothing; tell them that one can be physically a virgin and morally a prostitute; tell them that to the first kiss they owe untarnished all their treasures, not one gem only, and that the future of their love consists in preserving the centuple virginity existing in one virgin. If nature with sad mystery has decreed that woman should love the first time with much pain, it is our duty to crown the virgin with many flowers of virtue, to perfume her with many odours of grace, to make the martyr a happy spouse; it is our duty to elevate the physical virgin to the highest region of purity and grandeur, so that she may appear to us, like an angel of Beato Angelico, all illumined with the light of the rainbow, where amid the tears of a first defeat shines the light of the sun of love; and that after the hurricane of conquest there may be announced the serenity of a beautiful day of delights. The religion of Christ, in presenting to man the worship of a virgin mother, wished perhaps to consecrate the purity of the virgin with the affections of the spouse; to create an ideal of perfection in which would shine the two chief virtues of woman; to imagine perhaps that one can be a virgin and a mother, as one can be a virgin and a prostitute. To gaze at the Madonnas of Raphael, Murillo, and Correggio: the influence which she has exercised upon Christian arts suffices to prove that this ideal creature has been a sublime creation of the human mind, and not a riddle or a myth.

Chapter 7

Conquest and Voluptuousness

If man elevates his loves to the highest spheres of the ideal, if he can call himself the most sublime lover on the terrestrial planet, he can boast of having had from nature the largest bowl at the banquet of voluptuousness; he can also pride himself on being able – perhaps the only creature among the living – to die of pleasure and to kill himself with lasciviousness. A tremendous thing is the embrace of a man and a woman who love each other! So tremendous that before this hurricane of the senses the painter lets the brush fall from his hand, the physiologist loses the thread of analysis, and the philosopher is stupefied at the ferocious grandeur and the bestial sublimity of that act, in which every human force seems to be offered as a holocaust to the animal that fecundates. Acknowledged or silent goal of every love, dream of every virgin and rage of every lechery, torment and delight of every man, voluptuousness is the greatest pleasure of the senses; but it is the deepest abyss into which vulgar loves fall at every step, where even the great ones are submerged. Voluptuousness! The tremendous word that recalls the most ardent scenes of men and the greatest chaos, which becomes more dense wherever an organism is generated or destroyed; shapeless chaos from which lightning flashes, where elements tremble and earthquakes rumble profoundly; chaos in which good and evil find themselves so near as to mingle and become confounded; chaos in which angel and brute are locked in close embrace, and human individuality vanishes for a moment to give place to a fantastic monster, half man and half woman, half god and half demon; chaos from which a man is born, as from another chaos arose the cry which generated light. I open the book of human deeds and I read:


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In Sardinia the beautiful Lady of San Luri killed with excessive embraces the young king Martin II of Sicily, of the house of Aragon, who gave the last blow to the independence of Sardinia, subjugating the still free part of the island. In 1409 he had obtained a splendid victory over Brancaleone Doria and the Viscount of Narbonne, when he himself was conquered in turn by the beauty of San Luri, who, a modern Judith, killed the Aragonian king with the fury of her kisses.38

The Empress Theodora pleased so many, that it was said that painting and poetry were not capable of representing the incomparable excellence of her form. The satirical historian did not blush in describing the nude scenes which Theodora was not ashamed to represent in the theatre. After having stated that she wore only a little girdle because no one was permitted to appear nude on the stage, Procopius adds, áõáðåðôùõôá, ‘the gates were wide open.’ Having exhausted the arts of sensual pleasure, she complained with the greatest ingratitude of the parsimony of nature, desiring a fourth altar on which she could offer libations to the god of love. After having been possessed by everybody, she seduced Justinian, who married her and called her a divine gift.39 The old age of David was heated by the young Shunamite, and Hermippus prolonged his days to the age of 105, sustained by the breath of many young women.40 The few foregoing examples will suffice to mark the frontiers between which human voluptuousness struggles, insatiable generator of so much good and so much evil. And yet before science it is nothing but the most powerful of chemical affinities felt by the most perfect of living brains. Prepared in the slow laboratory of a man and a woman, the germs of life are powerfully attracted toward each other; when love approaches they kiss and unite, and hot and trembling they re-establish one of the most powerful equilibriums of nature and generate a man. What are the Angels, Archangels, Cherubim, Thrones, and Dominations of the Christian

38 La Marmora, Itinerario in Sardegna, etc., p. 270 [Author]. 39 Gibbon, History of the Fall of the Roman Empire [Author]. 40 Bible [Author]. Avishag the Shunamite was a beautiful maiden chosen as King David’s bed-warmer at the end of his life. Hermippus was an Athenian writer, the enemy of Pericles [Editor].

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paradise in comparison with all those living creatures who, at every throb of our pulses, unite on earth in the embrace of voluptuousness? If at every second a leaf falls from the tree of life, it is also beyond dispute that in the same unit of time ten existences at least are blended in order to relight the torch of life, and if all the gigantic forces which are condensed in these unions were summed up, they would certainly suffice to send the world through infinite space without the aid of the laws of Newton. In the hut of the savage and in the gilded halls of the prince, among the soft cushions of new-mown hay and on the ice of the Sorata, in the rushing train and on two camels crossing the desert, within the humid walls of the prison and in the deep mines where the sun’s rays never penetrate, in the forest and on the sand of the seashore, wherever a man and a woman find themselves together and can desire each other, voluptuousness weaves its garlands and says to the man and the woman, ‘Be gods for an instant!’ There is no love without voluptuousness, but voluptuousness of itself alone is not love, neither is that which is ridiculously termed platonic. Lechery and platonic love are maladies or monsters of love, and they are possible, aye, too prevalent, like deaf mutes, the lame, the deformed, giants, and dwarfs. There is no attainment without possession of the thing attained, as there can be no love without voluptuousness. From the tree take away the flower, and from the flower take away the fruit, and you will have a faithful image of all those amorous reticences which dissemblingly stop at the threshold of the temple and, incapable alike of chastity and courage, of vice and virtue, drag out a wretched existence in the limbo of bastard affections. Very often duty must be stronger than love, the laws of honesty must often forbid us to love, and love must be conquered by a cruel and unheard-of torture, but it is better to be heroes of duty than brigands liberated from prison for lack of proof, often despised, despicable always. If you truly love, if you can love, and you love in the name of the most powerful of the gods of Olympus, then love in the name of nature, in the name of the most sacred of all rights. Do not act like the amorous casuist, the worst of all human hypocrites, nor hope to conquer with your reticence and your compromises of conscience the Goliath of the sentiments. How many have I beheld, after long sentimental tirades upon platonic love and after bitter tears and vows of virtue,


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descend from hypocrisy to hypocrisy, even to wantonness! How many are the guilty lovers who do not wish the sin but enjoy the vice, who do not wish to commit the crime but experience prostitution! All or nothing; such is love’s demand: cut down the tree that you cannot cultivate, be everything to somebody; demand of your companion to be everything to him; do not try to divide the indivisible: do not attempt to overthrow the omnipotent, to conquer the invincible; one must neither jest, compromise, nor come to any agreement with love. Voluptuousness without love is always lust, even in its purest and simplest forms; it is immoral even when it seems to be hygienic. With love even lechery is virtue, and the studied casuistry of theologians is more immodest than the most ardent kiss which has ever been exchanged between two lovers educated in the embrace by long experience. Voluptuousness is penetrating as light, inexhaustible as the sun, and, enclosed between two infinities, one of desire and the other of languor, it will never be thoroughly understood by the human family, even were it to live for a million centuries. All forms of the beautiful are conquered by the endearments of art; all forms of virtue are the delight of the sentiment of the good; every great and true idea is the joy of our thoughts; but voluptuousness absorbs in one moment alone all the joys of the senses, of sentiment, and of intellect; quiets all curiosity, extinguishes all heat. Voluptuousness is a light which gilds every object and weaves around it a celestial aureole. Not only is the embrace of love voluptuous, but every contact of the quivering garments and of the glossy hair, every contact of the shivering skin, every snap of the tendons, every kiss of the flesh. He is indeed to be pitied who has always drunk voluptuousness from the same bowl of Venus! Let him take lessons of woman, wisest teacher of every exquisite and sublime sensuality. Lust is the worst enemy of voluptuousness, its most faithful sister is chastity. If the poet, the painter, the sculptor knew how to interlace this divine group – ‘The Joy of Love Guided by the Hand of Chastity’ – that picture, a work of the pen, the brush, and the scalpel, would be as holy a thing as an altar, a lesson of virtue and a great work of art; fire enclosed in alabaster, the sun carried off and shut up within itself by an enamoured wave; Hercules led by a child!

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Lovers who love, who possess, who become inebriated every hour, if you still have a moment of prudence, remember that voluptuousness must not be the bread but the wine of love; that if you wish that your thirst may be eternally satiated, your voluptuousness must be pure and chaste; you must swim in the wave but not drown; you must quiver but not fall into convulsions: you must be dying but not dead. Modest voluptuousness, this priceless treasure, was given by nature to woman, so that she could restore it to you with many joys. Respect it then as a palladium of domestic felicity; teach it to your sons, because verily I tell you that in modern society there is often more modesty in the lowest harlot than in some spouses educated in the nuptial bed of an aged husband, impotent in love but most learned in prostitution and shame, and who brought no gift to the virgin save a prurient weakness.

Chapter 8

How Love Is Preserved and How Love Dies The man who, by reason of the circumstances of his origin or through his own fault, lives on the animal frontiers of the human kingdom is like the brute for whom love is a desire which springs up, is satisfied, and then is lulled. If in him affection for woman is not a passion of spring or autumn, it is always an erotic and intermittent love, which dies with every want satisfied and is born again with every desire renewed. The stimulus of the flesh marks in him the dawn of sentiment, and the unwieldy flesh puts an end to the passion of love. The new desire may apply to the same person or to another; this is for him a secondary and purely accidental question, and from the manner in which circumstances force him to solve it, he will be a monogamist or a polygamist, a virtuous man through habit or a libertine through caprice. Oftener than it seems, this is the way in which many dark-skinned people love, and many of their fairer brethren, who nevertheless believe that they faithfully love one woman at a time. The history of their love is a necklace of Venetian pearls, to which is added a new pearl at every desire satisfied, and if the colour of the glass is not too varied, one can have before the eyes a pretty necklace fit to deck a decent virtue and honest passion. Between the death of one desire and the birth of another, you can have a gentle, grateful remembrance of the pleasure enjoyed, a sweet hope of greater joy for the morrow; and then the garland of your passion will become more beautiful, new flowers will be added, and gradually it will simulate a true and great love. The lofty heights of sentiment and the apex of thought are reached by few; while hundreds of humble goats ruminate on the plains, and thousands of bees are buzzing, and millions of ants are swarming, upon the sapphire summits of the Alps two eagles alone represent the entire world of the living.

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Love, although it is a most powerful emotion, still always follows the laws of elementary physics which govern all the energies accumulated in our nervous centres and which we term sentiments. As long as passion remains in the state of desire, that is to say, as long as the force is in tension and is not transformed into fruitful labour, the energy lasts and sentiment lives, vigorous and ardent. The entire art of preserving love is reduced, therefore, to this alone, to preserve desire and to make it spring up again immediately after it is spent. As, then, even love with all its omnipotence must submit to physical laws, and as after every spark that escapes there is always a period of repose, it is expedient to act in such a way that while one part of the force is transformed into labour, another is accumulated and prepares as soon as possible a new spark, so that gradually it will not be possible to measure the interval between one and the other. To transform the intermittent electric current into a continuous one is the great secret of preserving love. As long as desire is not satisfied, as long as the struggle has not become a conquest, love is not only preserved but increased: and not in vain does woman provide for future bliss in imploring time and prolonging the battle. That love which retires from the struggle before the victory must be either very weak or brutal, and as it is exceedingly rare that a woman concedes everything at once, the little and great favours which she grants at times to the conqueror mark a continual renewal of ardent desires and a continuous revival of love. At last, sooner or later, the day of the looked-for victory arrives, and one embrace changes two beings into one, blends in a single vessel love and voluptuousness. Even when love is so base as to be only a thirst for pleasure, it rarely dies with the first embrace. And who can say that he possessed the entire woman in a night of love? Human attractions are such and so many, and our aesthetic necessities are so ardent and exquisite, that even the acquisition of voluptuousness alone is fortunately very slow, and in the sweet pursuit of new provinces, love is preserved or revivified. The various treasures of beauty or sensuality of the two lovers, the art of loving so neglected since the days of Ovid mark the duration of loves that have their force only from the worship of the form or from the heat of voluptuousness; and in some cases this duration can be very long, never infinite. Too soon arrives the hour in which the wing of time lashes the fresh cheeks of the


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young girl, the northern blast wrinkles them, and the wind scatters over the ground the rosy petals of human beauty; too soon arrives the hour in which the bowl of lechery has no longer a drop of nectar; and then, if there is no other attraction, love is dying, and no miracle in the world can save it from certain death. The energy of passion sprang entirely from voluptuousness and beauty; this is faded, that is sear, and strength is spent. No force in the world rises without mutation of matter, no energy is increased without transformations of equilibrium and decompositions of affinity; if the man and the woman do not arouse affinity or sympathy, no combination can arise; no light, no heat can flash from their contact. They intone the chorus De profundis, and together they bury the cadaver of a love which, kept alive by voluptuousness alone, should inexorably die with it. This is the general way in which vulgar loves die, and the duration of their life can be calculated with much precision by weighing the beauty of the two lovers, their youth, their lust, their art of loving. These loves can last an hour, a day, a month, a year, ten years; they can, in rare cases, last during the entire period of human youth. Men, and especially women, do not fall without a struggle under the lash of time; with unheard-of arts they repair the ravages of age, and not only do they fabricate daily adulterated and counterfeit forms, but ever into the goblet of love they pour drugs and philtres; hence to silenced hunger they give the stimulus of an artificial appetite, and for the heat and impetus of passion they substitute the soft blandishments and prurient incitements of the flesh. The battle continues a long time before defeat is acknowledged, and love changes its nature but still exists. Formerly it was a volcano, today it is a Bengal flame; formerly it was nude and chaste as a Uranian Venus, now it is clothed and brazen as a harlot; formerly it was the love of every hour, now it is periodical, intermittent, of the tertian or quartan type; formerly it defied with impunity the rays of the noonday sun, and now it seeks the twilight; but in fine, in spite of so much duplicity and so many medicaments, it is still always love. O women, who daily behold with horror the cooling off of that fire at which for so many years you have warmed your enamoured members, if you were happy on account of your beauty alone, remember that, as the last grace of the body withers, that fire will be spent, and when to the heart-rending cry

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which invokes the stimulus of a desire no one will respond, prepare yourselves for the funeral psalmody. As long as you can, with the galvanism of lust, arouse a desire in your lover’s soft flesh, love is not yet extinguished. Behold to what a base level the art of preserving love is reduced, when this has its origin only in the desire of forms: it lowers itself to a question of hygiene, I would say it almost transforms itself into a problem of taxidermy or of Appert’s Preserves!41 It is necessary to consider the antiseptic virtue of the studied refusals and of libertine reticence: to analyse lechery chemically and languor physiologically; to meditate upon the economy of the energies and visit the pharmacy to discover the aphrodisiacal virtue of various silken stuffs, of the different smiles, and of the soft movements of the thighs. To these vilest of studies we have lowered woman, who would gladly have wished to soar aloft with us and roam through the many spheres of the beautiful; to embrace not only the world of exterior forms, but also the infinite worlds of sentiment and thought. You will tell me, perhaps, that I aspire to an ideal love impossible to reach; you will tell me that the healthy, well-formed man can be handsome for forty years of his life, and that woman also has a right to thirty years of beauty and ten years of gracefulness; so that a love which lasted but thirty or forty years would still be a beautiful and enviable thing. A spring and a summer of forty years closed by a mild autumn, in which sweet remembrances, suave, reciprocal gratitude, and intimate friendship prepare for the twilight of old age, can seem to us a worthy triumph of a huge and splendid life of love. And I agree with you, if you refer to the common loves of the people; but we must look high, very high, to arrive at the middle path of the ascent, and we should all desire a love that lasts as long as life and which is buried with us in the tomb. And then, you tell me, every healthy, well-made man can present to woman the thyrsus, and every well-formed woman can offer the cup of voluptuousness to man; but how many men are handsome, how many women

41 Nicholas François Appert (1752–1841) developed an effective method of preserving food by heating it to boiling temperature and sealing it in airtight glass jars. Appert was awarded a prize by Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte, who would adopt his method of preserving food for the French troops fighting in foreign lands [Editor].


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can call themselves beautiful? Perhaps not ten in a hundred; and the others who in various degrees are removed from the type of perfection of form, must they not love, can they not be loved? No; in man, rich in so many physical elements, the beautiful does not end in the exterior form, nor should love gush forth only from the spring of voluptuousness. No deformity, no malady in him who would make men; this is hygiene; but the hundred forms of moral and intellectual beauty, relieved only by the soft shade of sex, can and should arouse ardent and tenacious passions, which do not set with the sun of youth. Thus, while love can dispense its delights to every man and every woman, perfect love should be born of the contemplation and adoration of every type of beauty; and when that of the form begins to pale, moral beauty shines in all its power, and later still the beauty of thought appears to us in all it majestic brilliancy; so that while one star disappears, another twinkles, and from the desires absorbed by the senses, we feel more strongly aroused the longing for the treasures of sentiment and thought of a creature who is all ours, and whom, if at first sight we loved on account of beauty of form, we now love and will continue to love because she is beautiful in kindness, in culture, in ideas, and in everything that man possesses of beauty and greatness. Even character and thought have a profoundly sexual type, and feminine benignity can be adored by us, just as the sweet and tender nature of woman bows before virile courage. When we, in woman, have loved not only an attractive female but also a nature imbued with all the beauties and graces of Eve, the longest life does not suffice to satisfy our desires of possession, and at the last hour of extreme old age some new conquest remains for us to make, and some desire is always renewed, while the accumulation of sweetest memories fills the void which fleeting youth has left behind it. Sublime triumph of human nature, in which love survives the spent senses, the silenced voluptuousness, the beauty of buried forms, and a warm ray of light glitters on the silvery heads of two aged persons who still love because they still desire each other, because heart and mind unite in an embrace, sexual in origin, ideal by reason of the heights which it reaches. Our study on love in old age will complete this picture, certainly one of the most beautiful and seductive in the great museum of love: a picture which we should all desire to represent in the late years of life.

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When the sources of love are many, while one recedes the other swells up, so that the insatiable thirst of love never feels the want of a wave to satisfy it. All the passions in their movements follow a parabolical line, and those that have risen the highest descend the most rapidly; hence the weariness so allied to strength; hence the ennui which approaches enthusiasm; hence the thousand dangers which accompany the death of sentiment. Love presents, more than any other passion, these phenomena and dangers, and it is almost impossible to make voluptuousness, ecstasy, and apotheosis last beyond a very short flash of a few instants. Intermittence is one of the most inexorable laws of the nervous system, and he who would increase enthusiasm and Only breathe the exhalation Of a kiss and of a sigh,

dies consumed by his own fire; and, what is worse, before expiring he beholds love dead at his feet. We cannot rebel against the laws of nature, nor can we subjugate them; but it is conceded us to direct them to our advantage; and thus it is in our case. Between one ecstasy and another we can sow the seeds of joy and suppress ennui; between one voluptuousness and another we can overcome weariness and cull the flowers of sentiment, and from too ardent contemplations we can repair to the cool temple of thought and meditate together. This is perfect love, this is ideal love, which is preserved pure, unaltered, brilliant as a diamond in the tortured sand of a stream. Few reach it; many, however, can approach it, and for human happiness and human greatness it is enough to see it from afar, like the promised land, which, as the poet says, ‘is always beyond the mountain.’ The man who brutally opposes the holy and noble aspirations of the woman for a higher participation in mental culture signs his own condemnation; and when he cynically sends her to bed or to the nursery, he shows that he cares to know only the coarsest and most brutal part of the joys of love. You may be the strongest male and the wisest libertine; but even Venus herself, descended from the heaven of the ideal, would tire you, and for you too will arrive the hour of nausea; then you will curse life and the vanity of love and recite the litany of lamentation and


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disillusion which, from Adam down, has been repeated by all those who know not how to live, and who bestially ignore the laws of the economy of strength. We must elevate woman not only in order to fulfil an act of justice, but also to enlarge the field of our joys and increase the value of our voluptuousness. A great step has been taken in this respect by transforming the prostitute of the polygamous gynaeceum into the mother of a family; but this new freedwoman of modern civilization is tolerated, not raised to any equality by us; she is like an orphan picked up on the wayside, who lives with the members of a family without forming an integral part of it. If the concubine has become a mother, she has still a great step to take in order to become hic et haec homo 42 – a most noble and delicate creature, who thinks and feels with us, and thinks and feels femininely, thus completing in us the aspect of things of which we see only a part; and she brings to us in the meditations and struggles of life that precious element which only a daughter of Eve can give us. If from woman you want only the joys of love, then teach her the sentiments and ideas of the same. She is like the bee that changes sugar to nectar, and the juice of every flower into honey; make her wise, and wisdom will be transformed into caresses; make her strong, and she will use her strength to enrich you; make her great, and she will deposit her greatness at your feet in exchange for a kiss. Fear not, she will never place her foot upon the neck of man, because she loves him only too well, and because, in order to become a tyrant, she would be obliged to amputate the better part of herself, abdicating her omnipotence. There where man and woman are bound together by the senses, sentiment, and thought, love is easily preserved, and without any artificial aid. Some fortunate individuals demand with astonishment why their love should ever cease; love lives in them, ardent, tenacious, invincible, and at death is extinguished instantaneously, like the porcelain cup, old but always new, which falls from the hand of the inexperienced servant and perishes as it came into being, beautiful and brilliant. It is not thus when voluptuousness is all or almost all of love: then the easiest way to prolong it is to always preserve in the cup of love some

42 In the Italian text Mantegazza writes uomo-femmina, a female man [Editor].

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drop of desire, so that between one embrace and another voluptuousness is never spent, and gives a deep sexual mark to the relations of conversation and habit. And this is an indirect but decided advantage, which ever produces chastity between two persons who love each other without having the fortune to participate in any treasures beyond those of the senses. One should remember that every virtue is the fruitful mother of other virtues. The preservation of love is one of the most sacred rights and duties that devolve upon woman, although we cannot refuse with impunity to take an active part in this mission. We, however, are too thoughtless, too polygamous, too exacting in our instantaneous desires for the prudence and economy of love to be easy virtues to us. To see all, touch all, desire all and at once, this is the childish physiognomy of many virile loves. Woman loves more than we, but she foresees and fears; also, in love she is the better provider, and while she culls the flower for the joy of today, she knows how to preserve the fruit for the dreary wintertime. Woe to her if she joins in the thoughtlessness of her prodigal companion! They will make together a splendid blaze of their affections, renewing, alas! too soon, the thousandth edition of the grasshopper and the ant. If the women who read my book learn nothing but this, I would believe them recompensed for the ennui which they will have experienced; and I will be happy to know that I have not written in vain for the welfare of the most cherished part of the human family. With the right of a long and laboured experience, with the right which is mine by a deep, unwearied study of the human heart, I pray them and conjure them to close with their white little hands and their rosy lips the mouth of the man who asks too eagerly for love. Let them say no and no again, and let them bury the friendly yes under a mass of flowers, holding back desire for new supplications and new battles. Every sacrifice will bring them one hundred per cent profit, and for a caress denied today they will have ten tomorrow. Woman is the ancient teacher of sacrifice, and she makes use of her experienced wisdom in preserving love, which is the air she breathes, the blood which nourishes her, her greatest treasure. She must never say yes before having said at least one no; if she truly loves the prodigal friend, she reserves for the days of famine the crumbs which fall from his hand and which today he despises; let her be


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the stewardess of love as she already is of the household; man produces and she preserves; man conquers, and she retains the booty. If genital chastity is the chief preservative of vulgar loves, a certain chastity of sentiment and of thought, a certain reserve, is also indispensable for the duration of sublime loves. The man must never see his wife naked, nor should the woman ever find her companion naked before her; veils and mists, leaves and flowers should shade the man and woman in their senses, sentiments, and intellect. The infinite is the only thing that man never wearies of loving, contemplating, studying, because it is neither weighed nor measured. Now so it is in love; the beautiful, the true, the good of the person beloved should be infinite, because we must neither see, weigh, nor measure these qualities in their entirety. A sun that passes from one crepuscule into another, never manifesting itself fully, such is eternal and immutable love, which does not fear the frost of winter nor the hurricane of summer; that dies on its feet like the ancient heroes. Study the fortunate men who are capable not only of arousing great passions but also of preserving the same, and you will perceive in them all those exalted virtues precisely understood in the term politica crepuscolare.43 A beauty that has more grace than splendour, more seduction than heat, a compliance that retains strength, an authority that can be made to smile, a deep and tender benignity, and a genius that has more spirit than grandeur – these are the great preservative powers of love. Grace preserves love longer than beauty does, because it has more glimmering tints than the latter, and sympathetic natures retain love longer than beautiful nature, and wit longer than genius. There are men and women who at first sight do not thrill, but on every hair of their head they seem to have a hook and in every pore of the skin a vent-hole, so that you have scarcely come into intimate contact with them, when you find yourself seized by a thousand fish hooks and swallowed up by a thousand suckers, as though a gigantic polyp has embraced you in the absorbing coils of its numerous tentacles. Love is dead without possibility of resurrection, when, as is the case with all living things, there is no galvanism to awaken the sleepy nerves,

43 Crepuscular politics [Editor].

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nor wave of blood to rouse the heart. How often an apparently dead love has been resuscitated! And it has been called a miracle, one of the usual mysteries of the heart; whereas life was not spent but only latent; the truly dead, with the exception of Lazarus, have never been known to rise again. A nerve was still sensible, a desire was still possible, and the apparent dead revived. Physicians observe that cases of apparent death are much more frequent in hysteria, catalepsy, and all forms of nervous diseases; now it is natural that many live loves have been interred with most cruel equivocation, since an organism more nervous, more cataleptic, and more hysterical than love it is difficult to find in the entire world of the living. In our case, however, the sepulture is less dangerous, because love of itself opens every casket, every tomb; penetrates every kind of earth, overturns every sod, and appears, saying, ‘ Do not weep, I am here!’ Love rarely dies a violent death, and cases so termed are wounds, ruptures, syncope, and nothing more. Real death comes through decay and after long illness. Duty frequently forbids us to love him (or her) who suddenly appears to us vile and infamous; but love, condemned to death, weeps, despairs, but does not want to expire. Chased back to prison, without light, without food, it resists hunger, darkness, frost, but does not die. The public, perhaps, believe that it has disappeared from the face of the earth, like those illustrious prisoners concealed in the stillness of a castle; but love lives there, in the depths, and groans and tosses about in prolonged agony, and dies a pitiful death alone with him who feels it. If the appearance of a new creature on the path of life seems to kill love violently, it is because it was not a true love; if it really were such, the battle would be long and bitter, and the prince of the affections would die, as in other cases, a slow and lingering death. When we shall once have ceased to give the name of love to the desire of the flesh and the pride of possession, we shall see that that sentiment is much more beautiful, great, and honourable than is generally supposed; many miracles will be explained as simple physical phenomena, and many obscure mysteries made clear. To cause love to gush forth from the stone of indifference is a seductive prodigy; to rouse it from its sleep is a desirable power; to sow our steps through life with love and desires can be the dazzling pride of every


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living creature; but to preserve the acquired love, to retain it pure and bright, to make it pass with impunity through the cyclones of life, the fogs of November and the frosts of December, to guide it healthy and robust from the spring of youth to the border of the tomb, so that it dies, like the Mexican victim, amid choruses of admiration and surrounded by flowers of eternal freshness, is one of the highest ambitions to which we can aspire; it is as beautiful a thing as to create a work of art; it is as useful a work as to become rich; it is as great a work as to win fame. Many say that the most natural way for love to die is to transform itself into friendship; but several times already I have given the reader to understand what I think of sexual friendship. Perhaps in some very rare cases neither of the two remembers that the beloved object belongs to the other sex: but how can they forget the loves of the entire past, how cancel suddenly the ardent remembrances of the many years of intercourse? If the sweet habit of seeing each other can be substituted for exhausted love; if a man and a woman can forget that they are man and woman, what name will this new and singular affection merit? Perhaps that of automatic habit; and I will send this psychical phenomenon back to the laboratory of the physiologist, so that he may study it together with unconscious and reflex actions.

Chapter 9

The Depths and the Heights of Love

Whenever I see a flower that opens and blooms on the border of a precipice, the same thought ever recurs to my mind: such is love; it always seems to live between two infinities, one of height and the other of profundity. While it darts its aspirations above, while it seems to seek in the heavens space and light, it deepens its roots into the most subtle mazes of the rocks and into the most obscure secrets of the abyss. Star that shines in the infinity of the ideal; root that shatters the stones in the infinity of depth; reaches all heights and touches all depths; it is the most human of passions, and was always ranked among the divine; it is the most heartfelt and the most ethereal; it is thought on the summit of the mountain, it is strength down in the valley; it guides the poet when he soars to paradise, accompanies man when he plunges into the hot wave of sensuality; virgin and father in heaven, lover and spouse on earth. If to live means to exist in the most beautiful form of life, love is the richness, the luxury, the splendour of life; love is the divine of the human. No one will ever be able to say where love penetrates when it excites all the depths of human nature, there where together with the mire are to be found pearls and corals. It is a diver that brings to light strange and unknown things, and reveals to the astonished eye of the observer new things never before imagined; it is the most daring and the most fortunate of excavators. How many natures are agitated at the contact of the new god, who seems to evoke from the depths all the silent passions, all the dormant ideas, all the phantoms of the heart and of thought. The deep simmering of the psychical elements at the contact with Jove almost always announces the birth of a second moral nature, and, renewing life, marks in it a new era. Of our birth we are always ignorant, and of our death almost always unconscious; between the to be and the not to be there is possible only a third and great thing – to love. While the


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many judge from the skin, the countenance, the coarse voice that the boy has become a man, a tremendous earthquake announces to him that he should love, that he already loves; and while mothers behold with trepidation the rounding of the bosom of their little girl who has become a woman, another deep earthquake tells her that she should love, that she already loves. In the season of love many animals change colour and form, they clothe themselves with new feathers or arm themselves with new weapons; with the nuptial garments they assume different habits and singular ability; mutes become exquisite singers; the stupid are transformed into skilled architects; granivorous become carnivorous; inhabitants of earth are changed into winged messengers of the skies; caterpillars become butterflies. And so it is with man, only the change scarcely touches the epidermis of his skin, but sinks into the veins and mazes of his psychical nature. The phases of puberty deserve a monograph; it will suffice here to remark that every force is redoubled, every vigour refined, and while growing to manhood, force and potency are prepared and accumulated, love calls them into action. Puberty declares war, love calls us to the battle. Weaponless if impubescent, armed if pubescent; armed and combatants if enamoured. Not all human motives are good, and for this reason love calls into action also bad elements, which in the beginning were not visible. For the first time, from the deep abysses of the moral man appear phantoms of crime and vice, spectres of revelry and of the prison. In badly constructed organisms, predestined for the prison or the madhouse, together with first love there often appears the first crime or the first mania. To the great musterer of the depths and the heights, every human element responds, ‘Present,’ and the sudden wrath in characters formerly mild, the first tears on hitherto smiling faces, the first song of poetry in brains all prose, the first hysteria in a body that seemed to be without nerves, the first ambition in the timid youth, the first meditations in the mirror, the first impetus, the first war declared against the invisible enemy, the first harlequin follies, the first flashes of genius, the first lies and the first heroisms, are all new spectres called from the depths by the magic wand of the magician of magicians, by the greatest conjurer of spirits of the blessed age of sorcerers and exorcists.

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The man who loves is twice a man, because for the first time he feels not only that he is alive, but also the power to create living beings, to generate. Woman is not the sole generator, since in the male viscera the half of a future creature is also agitated, and the seed of a second existence enclosed within us is redoubled and renders us almost as proud as the ancient prophets, to whom God consigned, as to a tabernacle, the supreme truth, the prophecy of future history. A man who loves has within him a part of that which will live in the future, the fecund germs of a new generation. While all the psychical forces in contact with the new sentiment are confusedly and still indistinctly agitated, love passes them in review and orders them all into ranks. Every beauty must transform itself into flowers for a garland, every passion must lend its fire, every potency must be disguised as a servant or slave. Many to serve, one only to command; many strong, one only very strong; many subjects and only one tyrant. No objection, no discussion. Where love is present, who would wish to propose or counsel? O virgin and rising forces of youth, bow your head to your god; splendid beauties of human nature, deposit upon the new altars your tributes; are you not satisfied with the glory of bringing homage to love? Very rarely does avarice find a place in the first and deep meditations of an enamoured heart, but the question is continually repeated: ‘Have I still something, have I anything better to offer? Have I really given my entire self to my king?’ The most singular and harassing voluptuousness of love is to feel that everything flees from us and that we no longer belong to ourselves. It seems as though we were assisting at a satanical phantasmagoria in which we behold members, viscera, senses, affections, thoughts fleeing from us, running wildly toward a new centre, in which with our spoils they are going to form a new organism. Even time appears to be no longer ours, since we no longer measure it with the watch, but with the impatience of desire or the flashes of voluptuousness; thought too no longer belongs to us, for it is tyrannically governed by one image alone. To be ourselves again, to remember that we have still intimate relations with the man of yesterday, we must go in search of another creature, who has stolen everything from us. Hence that vague unrest which invades the body, senses, and thoughts of every lover; hence the


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attempt – difficult even for the most able dissembler – to conceal the new god who invades and penetrates us entirely. Every hair, every pore, every epiderm, every nerve of the man who loves, sings and says to the universe of the living, ‘I love, and who loves me?’ Day and night, in the calm and in the storm, the entire nature of a lover sings its note until another song responds in the same key. Not a moment of peace, not an instant of truce, until the new energy finds its sister force, which combats and quiets it. Love is like the sea: it can be as calm as the mirror of an Alpine lake, mute and soft as a sheet of lead; but there among the rocks that surround it and the sea-coast that frames it, there is eternal motion; and roaring or sighing, wailing or caressing, it agitates with never-ending action the land it kisses. The man and woman who meet and fall in love with each other are like the sea and the land which are at continual war, now sweet, now bitter, now caressing, now cruel, now voluptuous, now merciless. Look at that young girl seated at the window, bending over a piece of white linen which she is sewing. How attentive she is to the needle. She seems, between one stitch and the other, to be meditating on the solution of the squaring of the circle, so absorbed is she in the arduous task. But if I could write a volume of the thoughts that pass through her brain between the stitches! She is fishing in the deep abysses of love. And there, a short distance away, unknown to her, a young man with dishevelled hair is standing also at a window, and with his hands thrust violently into his pockets, his breast swelled threateningly, he has been gazing at the sky for the last hour. Is he meditating, perhaps, upon the tremendous problem of the proletarians or of human liberty? Is he dreaming, perchance, of glory or of riches? No, he too is fishing in the deep abysses of love. Woman dives deeper and soars higher than man in the regions of love; to her, society generally denies the field of action, and an infinite time remains for her to penetrate into the abysses of the heart. How often during many long hours will an innocent young girl, who scarcely knows how to write, open and reopen her lips for the kiss which lasted but a second; how often during a long, weary night she feels again the bitterness of a cold salute or of a rude word. Here you have a profundity of sense, which, however, is nothing in comparison with the extravagant and transubstantial processes of sentimental analyses with which woman pulverizes,

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analyses, distils a look, a word, a gesture. O chemists, hide your ignorance before the profundity of the analytical art of an enamoured woman; for her, the spectroscope is a coarse instrument of prehistoric art; for her, homeopathic solutions are poisons; for her, atoms are worlds: she has measured them many centuries before Thompson.44 But a millionth part of rancour diluted in an ocean of voluptuousness is still most sensible to her process of analysis; for her, an atom of indifference is a lava of desire instantaneously marked by the thermoelectric apparatus which she uses in her laboratory. She is the priestess of the ideal, of the infinite, of the incommensurable, and will be religious many centuries after man will have buried the last god. Even in love she is not satisfied with the finite. Love always elevates the lover above the ordinary man, and as the increased forces make him capable of greater undertakings, so the horizons are continually enlarged, and he sees men and things from a greater height. Each one of us has a different capacity of elevating ourselves to the region of the ideal; but coarseness and genius, prose and poetry always raise themselves by a work of love to a world which is more beautiful, more serene, greater than that in which we drag out our daily existence. How many coarse, despicable natures have been redeemed by a work of love; how many sluggish intelligences have been guided to the paths of glory, how many of the vulgar have raised themselves to the Olympus of thought with the aid of a loving hand! And still the wretched proverb is daily repeated, that science and glory must guard themselves against love as a dread enemy, and great men are pedantically quoted, who love but art, and who to chastity alone were indebted for their greatness. Strange confusion of ideas, in which hygiene is confounded with morality, chastity with the impotency of loving! Give me a chaste and enamoured genius, and I will see him scale the greatest human heights; give me a eunuch of the heart, and he cannot be great without loving; but a man healthy in sense and sentiment will always be elevated by love, provided he does not squander his affections on an unworthy creature, or exchange love for lechery. For one genius killed

44 Mantegazza is probably alluding to and misspelling the name of Sir Joseph Thomson (1856–1940), the British scientist who was making the first modern attempt to construct a theory of atomic structure, and who would be awarded the Nobel Prize in 1906 for the discovery of the electron [Editor].


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by love you have a hundred who to it owe their greatest inspirations, who from it attained the strength to live, who bless it as superior to glory, who in it alone find the fresh wave that tempers the boiling heat of enthusiasm and of passion. It is an ancient custom of the human beast to trample underfoot the rind of the fruit from which has been sucked the last drop of juice! If love does not work the same miracles in everyone; if it is not always a virtue that elevates and refines, it is because we have debased woman to the level of our lasciviousness, and because even we, civilized men, feel for her more desire than esteem, more lechery than love. And yet woman has a more ardent thirst than we for the ideal, and like all oppressed creatures she looks aloft with more faith than we. Her exquisitely sensitive nature, always open to the raptures of enthusiasm, pliant to the ardour of poetry, continually urges her to soar above; and she would have assisted us also to rise, if we had not made of her a sweet concubine or a good housekeeper. Woman senses the ideal, aspires to every height of the excelsior, but she has neither the courage nor the strength to climb, and if she is not supported by the robust arm of the lover, she easily wearies and sits down to rest on the uphill path. To her, nature has assigned the task of indicating the landmark toward the goal, to us the duty of accompanying and sustaining her. In a stupendous painting by Schaeffer,45 Dante is standing below, Beatrice above: Dante regards her, contemplates, and is inspired: and Beatrice, with her gaze riveted on the sky above, seems to say to him, ‘Upward, upward, it is there that we shall go together!’ Nothing is more contagious than enthusiasm; nothing is more fascinating, more irresistible than the enthusiasm of woman. Without arguments for belief, without strength for hope, sustained only by love, she is always full of faith in great and beautiful things, and at every step of life, now rendered lovely by a sublime imprudence, now moved by a youthful enthusiasm, she seems to say to us, ‘Onward, onward!’ and with her tender little hands she pulls us along, guides us, and lends us her ever fresh strength even when she appears fatigued. When Christ made faith the cornerstone of his religion, when he said

45 Probably Ary Scheffer (1795–1858), a Dutch-born French painter [Editor].

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that with faith we could move mountains, he was inspired, perhaps, by that ardent faith which woman feels and which makes her strong in her weakness. Woe to us if previous to preparing for an achievement we were obliged to sum up with mathematical exactitude all the favourable and unfavourable probabilities; woe to us if we should undertake only such things as are sure of success! More than three-fourths of the great achievements of the world would never have been begun. There is always an element beyond calculation, and it is in the capricious hands of fate; it is the gap which must be filled by faith, that faith which moves mountains, which woman feels so deeply and infuses into our hearts so tenderly. Find me the most celebrated eunuchs of the heart who, without the aid of any woman, reached measureless heights of fame, and I promise that, guided by a loving hand, they would have soared higher still. Love is a second sight, and woman sees things under an aspect which generally escapes the synthetic glance of man; she discovers many hidden elements of things and helps us to penetrate more deeply into the substance of every problem, and above all into the knowledge of human nature. In all things, both great and small, after having consulted science and art, experience and fancy, after having studied the book of history and that of the human heart, never fail to consult also the woman who loves you; in treating of a book, a law, a work of art or of commerce, industry, or poetry, woman will always have something new to suggest, she will always have her revelations; and through a work of love you will feel yourselves elevated. Some men of genius lack the coefficient of ambition, and you often see them die before their gigantic forces have borne any fruit: woman and love alone can give them that energy which they cannot have from the stimulus of self-love. Eve knows how to give faith to the sceptic, ambition to the disheartened, strength to all; and thrones and fortunes, civil and martial crowns, glories of art and science are won through the ambition inspired by a beloved woman. During the heroic and chivalrous ages, this was publicly proclaimed, and men boasted of it; today, when women sell themselves in houses of prostitution or at the bank of matrimony, it has become the custom to blush to owe glory to woman, and the chivalrous element is being too deeply submerged. In my ‘Loves of Men’ I will study the passage of chivalrous love in the gallantry of our grandfathers and great-grandfathers, while today in the limbo of


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the rising generation we think to discern the germs of a more beautiful epoch for the amorous life of man. The sooner love casts away the ballast which binds it to earth, the quicker are we raised to the regions of the ideal. This ballast is made up of lechery and self-love, and it is woman’s duty to help us to throw it out of our little bark. Does she not concur with her lasciviousness and vanity in goading to still greater excesses man’s base and bestial love? In the rapture we feel when inhaling the ether of the loftiest mountains, we can sometimes forget that night is near and our home far away; in love too we can feel ourselves so carried away by the poetry of the ideal as to desire a love without contact, the spirit without the material. These are sublime maladies of the brain – only too rare – which are touched by the extreme confines of human possibilities: they lead to delirium, to the sacrifice of oneself, drag us down to folly or to martyrdom. If a desire continues pure upon the summit of human love, and the contact of the material does not disturb it, men contemplate the statue from below as a fantastic monument erected by the morning clouds of the Alps, nor do they know whether it is a play of mist or the fancy of a dream: they contemplate and admire. The pure and intimate communion of thought and sentiment, with nothing of the senses save two clasped hands and four pupils which blend together, is certainly the greatest voluptuousness of the sexual world; and independent of platonic love, it may be that two creatures in that moment forget that one of them is a man and the other a woman. It is then and there that feminine nature shines with the aureole of its celestial light; it is at that fount of poetry that genius can acquire its greatest strength; it is then and there that coarse natures become refined; it is in that pure air that all human mire is washed away. Women, profit by those fleeting moments to regenerate the human family and urge it on to higher destinies! Man remains a shorter time than you in the ecstasy of sentiment, and your angel will soon fall at your feet, imploring of you the kiss of the terrestrial creature. In that moment you are omnipotent, for you have the lion at your feet; and if man is strong, you are very strong, since his strength is all for you. Guide it to the good, direct it to the beautiful; in that lion at your feet there is still much of the beast; in that conquered Hercules there is still much of the savage.

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Silence that wild beast, and, running your slender fingers through the waves of that dishevelled mane, call forth from the depths blessed energies, noble inspirations, and a thirst for the ideal. We wish to be great for your sake; we wish to be strong in order to give you all our strength; we desire the glories of conquest, but only to place them at your feet. For every kiss of yours may the human family produce a great work; for every caress of yours, a useful work! May your love be the highest prize of every ambition! You are weak, it is true, but when you are desired you are very strong. Who dares assert that he is stronger than the no of a woman? What phalanx attempts to advance when the finger of woman threatens and says, ‘Backward’? Love, after having sent the minute fibres of its roots into all the deep fissures of the human world, and after having absorbed every drop of affection, every throb of energy, consigns to the branches of the robust tree every juice and every energy. And above, in the far-off ether, leaves, flowers, and fruit drink from the rays of the sun the sweetest, most inebriating voluptuousness. There, in those regions full of light and heat, where worms of the soil, atoms of dust, and breath of miasma never reach, the depths become the heights, and man and woman, blended together in the ecstasy of an ardent contemplation of the beautiful and the good, ask of themselves, ‘And what is God?’

Chapter 10

The Sublime Childishness of Love

The butterfly just issued forth from the chrysalis state still bears upon its wings some bit of the covering which so long enclosed it; love too, the most youthful passion, carries with it the spoils of the child of which it has been scarcely divested. In its caprices and in its follies, in its games rich in grace and strength, in its blind idolatries as in its infantile sorrows, you would say you had before you a boy-genius. Now he surprises you with his violence, then he awakens your sympathy for his weakness; now all-powerful, then most timid; now a hero, then a coward; today he defies heaven with closed fists, tomorrow with tears he implores a caress. Love is childish because it is a child; it is childish because it is a poet; it is childish because, setting at liberty all the forms of the aesthetic world and all the forces of the moral world, agitating with a convulsive kaleidoscope all the images of thought, it is more often lyric than epic, and writes more dithyrambs than history, more poems than philosophical treatises. Love is also puerile because it is religious to the point of superstition, and suffers all the omens that can pass through the brain of a timid and ignorant woman. Love, even in northern countries, delights in the pomp of southern idolatry; protests against the iconoclasts, protests against the serious worship of the Protestants, and, more enamoured of the Roman Catholic on account of its incense, images, and tinsel, it requires altars and pontificals, canopies and tabernacles. No religion was ever more senselessly idolatrous than love, no Olympus had more gods, more altars, and more priests. It accepts every belief, every worship, from the fetishism of the savage to the omnipotent, invisible God of the Christian, admits exorcism and plenary indulgence, the benediction and the anathema, the amulet and the

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rogations, the aspergillum 46 of the priest who blesses and the red-hot iron of the inquisitor; admits paradise, hell, and purgatory, St Anthony and the Immaculate Conception. Full of faith and fears, love would of itself have invented idolatry if this had not had infinite other roots to sprout from the human brain. When man feels, desires, and loves very much, arrived at the extreme boundaries of the human field, he always erects an altar with whatever he has of beauty or riches, and there on his knees he prays and adores. To that altar he brings the amber and coral gathered on the seashore and the gold found in the sand of the dream; the poetry culled in his vagabond excursions through the heaven of the ideal; he brings the most beautiful flowers of his thought and offers all in tribute to a creature of earth or space, of nature or fancy. And to love, also, man erects his altar, there upon the extreme frontiers of the human, and on bended knee he pronounces beautiful, good, and holy above everything the creature whom he loves; not content with this, he penetrates with his avid, restless glance into the darkness of the unknown, where no form appears to him save the prolongation of the reflected rays of the known world, and there he is suspended over the abysses of nothing. In this obscurity dwell all the infinities, all the gods, all human loves borne to the most distant regions of the ideal. For love, everything is holy that has been touched by the hand, eye, or thought of the beloved, everything is holy in which the dear image has been reflected. All becomes an object of worship, all is transformed into a magic mirror, in which we contemplate our god. And who does not remember the adoration for a rosebush from which she had plucked a flower, and the idolatry for a petal which she had smelled; who does not remember the thousand varied and foolish relics of love? In the reliquary of love there is a place for the beautiful and the grotesque, the horrible and the graceful. I had a friend who used to weep for hours at a time with joy and emotion, kissing and contemplating a thread of silk which she had held in her hands, and which was for him the only relic of love. Another kept on his desk for many long years the 46 An instrument (a brush or a perforated container) for sprinkling holy water, used in Roman Catholic liturgical rites [Editor].


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skull of his deceased sweetheart, making it his dearest companion. There are many who have slept for months and years with a book, a dress, a shawl. And who can narrate all the sublime childishness, all the ardent tenderness, all the foolish things of the idolatry of love? In man, the sensations accumulate in the brain such hidden mysteries and deep energies that at a sign from us they can all rise and erect an edifice before us, greater and more beautiful than the reality of things. No beloved woman was ever as beautiful as the image which the lover sees in his solitary desires or pictures upon the black ground of a night of dreams, a comparison which would often be dangerous, if the magic brush of fancy did not exaggerate also the beauty of things seen by the eye and caressed by the hand, a comparison which sows the lives of artists and poets with sorrow, with disillusion, and also with crime. If every beautiful woman could know all the kisses, all the caresses, all the hymns which are offered her by the men who contemplate and desire her, she would certainly feel proud of her power to call forth so much force from the world of the living. Who knows where all those rays end, who knows where the heat of so much motion is condensed, who knows where so much scattered force is collected, if it is true that nothing is lost of all that is generated and which is the transformation of so many ardent desires that project in the infinite void of space? On woman, modesty imposes much temperance in manner, often a tyrannical reserve. She conceals from our eyes the secret adoration, the struggles of the heart, and the strange hysteria of sentiment. We, always less enamoured than she, give greater vent to our excitement, and if a beautiful, fortunate woman would wish to describe the scenes at which she has assisted in her youthful career, she could really furnish us with a gallery of caricatures before which all others would become pale and insipid; a gallery in which at every step the grotesque and the sublime, folly and passion find themselves united. Bold threats of death and impossible fasts, resignation of dignity, abdications of common sense, orgies of fancy, and hurricanes of the senses. How much misery, how many carnivals, bacchanals, and how much baseness must woman witness! She, fortunately for us, is pious and modest, and for the sake of our honour she covers us with a piece of her queenly mantle, hiding our puerility from the eyes of the profane, and often from our own.

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To awake in the morning and wish that the first glance be directed toward the beloved object; to retire at night and daily wish that the last quivering of the drooping eyelid and the last glimmering of thought be directed to her; to wish that no hour of the day may pass without having thought of her: these are some of the thousand requirements of love. To want to dress in her favourite colour, and with it to paint our houses, our carriages, and cover our books; to perfume everything with her favourite scent, and to eat, sleep, and walk at the same time that she does: these are some of the sublime puerilities of love. Not to care to read any book that she has not previously perused, and to always want to read the same page together. Never to look any other man or any other woman in the face. To cultivate in our gardens only those trees that she loves and the flowers that she prefers. To divest oneself in a day of a vice of ten years, merely because she turned up her pretty little nose at the smell of a cigar. To pronounce a word with the accent she uses. To dismiss a faithful servant who displeases her, and to sell a house in which she has fallen downstairs. To go to church without believing in God, and to curse the supersensible because he is a rationalist. To kill a horse in order to bring to her grandmother a rosary forgotten in a country-house twenty miles from the city. To kiss a horse that she has caressed. To cross the ocean in order to kiss her a month sooner. To learn a science, a language, an art in order to give her a surprise which will last perhaps a half-hour. To hate father and mother because they have insulted her. To become a soldier because she likes the uniform. To become a hero with the hope of moving her heart. To feign voluptuousness in sorrow. To kiss a hat a hundred times, to bestow a hundred caresses on a canary touched by her, and to mark with the eye a brick of the pavement where she has rested her little foot in order later on to kiss and adore it. To become jealous of God, to defy hell, to decapitate all statues in order to place but one head on every one of them.


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To feign illness so as to have her for nurse or have him for doctor. To feign health even when dying, so as not to cause suffering. To feign riches, to feign poverty. To feign genius, to hide genius. These are things, now puerile, now sublime, now grotesque and sublime at the same time, which love daily performs, but which are nothing in comparison to the thousand and one eccentricities of which this leviathan of the sentiments is capable.

Chapter 11

Boundaries of Love – Their Relations to the Senses We do not study a country without tracing exactly its boundaries, following them in their capricious and serpentine lines, marking the point where individuality ends and the influence of the neighbouring country is already felt. You may have trampled every sod, run over every path, you may have scented the soil of every field and drunk the water of every spring and every stream; but if you have not marked the borders of a country, you are ignorant of more than half its history. Everything is equal to itself and its surroundings, and no thing in this world can, with impunity, approach another, and all things act and react among themselves. So it is with love, which has frontiers as vast as the human world, as indented as the coasts of Dalmatia or of Norway, capricious, irregular, changeable. It is a land which projects into all neighbouring countries; and senses, sentiments, and thought come into close and complicated contact with it. Every sense, every passion, every force of the mind is an instrument of love; but this, in turn, is inclined in a thousand different ways to the senses, the passions, and thought. It is a continual interlacing of factors and instruments, of causes and effects; and while this gigantic power heats and moves the inmost fibres of the human organism, it irradiates its penetrating light into the extreme confines of the known world. Love, which requires by the supreme right of existence the contact of two different natures – which is but the kiss of two creatures who for an instant blend and mix the germs of their potency – must have the most varied and numberless relations to the sense of touch. It can also be said, without departing from strict scientific truth, that physical love is a sublime form of contact and touch. In inferior animal forms, as in human natures of a low and bestial type, love is nothing else but touch and contact; but rising to the high spheres of the animal world and of


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the human microcosm, the other senses also interweave their flowers in the garland of love, except taste, which takes no part in the pleasures of love save in exceptional cases, and which can, without scruple, be dispatched to the clinic of pathological psychology. Of the other four senses, touch has the greatest part in love, and hearing the least; sight and smell range between the two former in different degrees. The senses differ in the nature of the joys and sorrows with which they take part in the greatest of human passions. Touch conquers, sight delights, hearing moves, and smell inebriates. We can easily form a comparative idea of the various parts which the four senses take in love by comparing these four moments: to see the beloved woman and contemplate her for a long time – to embrace her eagerly – to hear her voice without seeing her – to inhale voluptuously the essence with which she alone perfumes her gowns and linen. A thousand, a million notes would not suffice to express accurately all the harmonies and melodies of amorous contact, and as the most voluminous dictionary in the world would reject such an undertaking, the pen of the writer would slip where science becomes lascivious. At times I regret that one of the greater poets has not sung the sublime voluptuousness of love, carrying the style to such a height as to leave the pen uncontaminated. Perhaps man would also like to know the limits of the genius of lechery, to mark the confines of this human possibility; but I console myself with this our sublime ignorance, with this glorious lacuna left by modesty in the field of human knowledge, because I think that where poetry is silent and science veils itself, where an intimate contact of two kisses creates a new existence, an unknown current transmits to the new man, together with the spark of life, all the treasures of past voluptuousness; and the son of Adam with a second kiss will transmit the innate science of love, pour out the entire contents of the chalice of voluptuousness into the lips of the daughter of Eve. Sublime science, which was never written on papyrus nor sculpted in marble or in bronze, but which transmits itself in the heat of a kiss through thousands of generations that loved, love, and will love. From the most chaste caress given to a fine head of hair to the greatest hurricane of voluptuousness, touch has still the character designated

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by its anatomy. Touch in love is always excited by voluptuousness, it is always deeply sensual, it is always a positive possession, without contrast or possibility of contrast. Woman can deceive herself, she can believe herself pure of all virile contact when the hand of man has never touched but the hem of her garments; but when skin has touched skin, when a finger has touched another finger, something is already lost of that waxen varnish with which nature covers the virgin fruit, still odorous with the perfume of the tree that nourished it. A hand that clasps another hand means, in love, two fires that blend in one; a head of hair that touches another head of hair means two streams of voluptuousness which rush into the bed of another stream. The molecules of a man who loves can never touch with impunity the molecules of the woman who returns his love; and as contact can be more rapid than lightning, every molecule that re-enters the sphere of its own individuality carries with it something that does not belong to it, and leaves with others something of itself. Touch soft iron with the lodestone and you will see it magnetized; touch a particle of a man with an atom of a woman and the two molecules will become different from the first. Touch is always a spoil of possession, and the thousand contacts can, by degrees, rob us of so much that we will find ourselves borne to the sphere of the woman we love, while she is entirely infused into us. It is natural that the modest woman trembles and rebels at every innocent contact. Every sensation in touch is, in love, a boundary cancelled between mine and thine; it is a property we are losing. It is not only hypocrisy that levies greater requirements on higher races: in exquisitely elevated natures, contact is more dangerous because it irradiates rapidly in the field of voluptuousness, of the other senses, and of sentiment. Vulgar natures begin where refined natures end; and while two elevated natures live long together, held back by the barrier of a handshake, the uncouth and audacious rustic snatches a kiss, and embraces ardently at the first declaration of love. It belongs to this most powerful passion to perform a hundred miracles a day and thus arrest voluptuousness at the boundary of a kiss; but it requires great tactics to keep it there for any length of time. From the clasp of the hand to the kiss the way can be very long and also insuperable, but beyond a kiss given and returned every definite boundary is lost sight


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of, everything is possible. In touch, love has but two principal stations before one reaches the goal: the clasp of the hand and the kiss. Whoever believes himself or herself a virgin after a kiss given and returned is a hypocrite, and is somewhat like him who believes that the studied reticence of lechery can still leave something to attain. O women, who have the dangerous fortune to be beautiful and desired, stay all your adorers at the handshake, in rare cases arrive at the given kiss; but remember that a kiss returned is a tremendous bill of exchange which one should never sign – never, of course, unless you wish to change your name. Sight is the first messenger of love, and in rare natures it is so prodigious of joy to the lovers as to conquer in extension, if not in intensity, also the insuperable heights of voluptuousness. Sight possesses all save the delirium of possession, and rapid and penetrating as it is, it sounds the abysses of infinite beauty, over which is suspended, as in an aureole of light, the creature beloved. The object one contemplates with eyes of love ends always in two infinities into which desire is hurled with frenzied audacity and insatiable curiosity. Sight is made to accompany us in that delicious excursion; and as it can tarry long and suavely in a dimple of the cheek, in the little vortex of a curl, or in the opal of a nail, it can also with vertiginous velocity compel us to pass and repass, a thousand times a minute, through the divine boundaries that enclose our treasure. The eyes of love have all the virtues of the telescope and microscope, and while from them not a single curve of the thousand labyrinths through which mobile feminine beauty seems to wind and glide can escape, so they also attain the most sublime summits of ideal beauty. When the eye contemplates and attains, it invites to the picture which it draws from nature all the senses, all the passions, all thought, all the psychical energies of man. No other sense possesses this gigantic faculty of elevating us to the highest regions of the ideal, compelling also the minor senses, animal intestines, and plebeian passions to assist at its panoramas. The eye is the first minister of the mind, and while it refines desire and takes away from passion the coarsest lasciviousness, it elevates the man and woman who love each other to the highest spheres of human possibility. Touch likes to remove the veils that cover the beautiful; sight need not strip the object it contemplates, for its light illumines

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every shade and every shadow, penetrates opaque bodies and renders them transparent, meanders through the most intricate mazes, and while it sees, reviews, discovers, analyses, measures, compares, it directs with unspeakable agility all the elements of the aesthetic world. In all men of a base type, every emotion of love rapidly passes to the regions of touch. In elect natures, on the contrary, sight has daily some beauty to discover, a region to explore, a world to conquer. The richest man in the world can always enumerate the dollars and title deeds he possesses; the most powerful king can always tell the number of square miles in his dominions: but he who loves a beautiful creature dies without having seen all, contemplated and admired all. In the last day of his life there is always some ‘unknown region’ which the eye has not yet discovered or which it has not sufficiently explored. And this is just the difference that distinguishes touch from sight, and while the former has well-determined outlines and a definite task, the latter enlarges the limits of its dominions to a number infinitely greater in aesthetic combinations. In the flash of a glance you have seen a beautiful creature and exclaimed, ‘Oh, the angelic creature!’ A chaos of sensations, a world of beauty have surprised, enamoured you; but how many days, how many months, how many years your eyes will roam through the thousand paths of that garden, to study every flower, every petal! How many turns of voluptuous analysis, how many poems of delight in order to repeat five, ten years after, ‘Oh, the angelic creature!’ Nature lavishes attractions with a generous hand on the body of man and woman, and life’s short, sad day always departs before we have been able to see all the forms of human beauty; but to the aesthetic treasures of nature man has known how to unite those of art, and with a thousand artifices of garment and ornaments we have added to our forms such and so many beauties as are easier imagined than enumerated. Perhaps one day I will attempt a ‘Physiology of Beauty,’47 in which I intend to point out the general laws that govern the aesthetic world; here I must only indicate the confines where love and beauty meet, kiss, and fecundate each other. When the eye has love for a companion, it finds a new

47 This work would become Epicurus [Editor].


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world to conquer in the cerulean blossom that our sweetheart interweaves for the first time in her golden hair, or in the red geranium which makes brilliant her luxuriant raven tresses. A natty little muslin apron can be a new continent, and a glove too tightly and cruelly drawn over her pretty hand can be the home of so many new beauties as to move our senses and transport us with rare voluptuousness. The man who loves a beautiful woman laughs compassionately at the polygamist who in a hundred women must seek for the hundred beauties of the human Venus; and the beautiful woman, in the arsenal of her garments, in the palette of her smiles, in the thousand undulations of her body, resuscitates to the eyes of her lover not a hundred but a thousand women, all of different types of beauty. Sight is the only sense which, in love, prepares for moral and intellectual discoveries in the beloved; and we contemplate not only to admire and enjoy, but also to determine by the flash of the eye and the throbbing of the facial muscles how much affection, how much thought we can find in the one we would make ours forever. In love, beauty is such a powerful tyrant that it bends us to its yoke and usurps the rights of the highest wants. A beautiful and desired woman rarely ever seems to us frivolous and heartless, and the attraction of beauty can make us pardon every crime, it can give us the most stupid and ridiculous hallucinations. However, this is not the fault of the eyes that see, but of the senses that desire too ardently; and it is above all the fault of nature, which fondles so lovingly the stamps of the forms in which germs are animated in living bodies! Nature defends and protects the beautiful above everything else; perhaps because it is the vessel in which the good and the true are blended. If I wished to indicate by a stenographic sign all the varied and essential parts which the sense of sight assumes in love, I would like to remember it as a winged messenger, a sort of Mercury, leading voluptuousness with the left hand, and with the right elevating our gaze toward the highest regions of the ideal, where in sweet and holy companionship dwell the good and the beautiful, the true and the sublime; there where are preserved all the variegated archetypes of the excelsior. Hearing has a small but interesting part in the story of love, if we set aside its great function as an instrument of thought. We are discussing

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here neither music nor the value of ideas communicated by words, but the purely sensual influence of the ear in amorous phenomena. Hearing has some pleasures almost tactile, and always very sensual, such as are afforded by some sounds that might be termed lascivious: the swish of a silk gown, the trilling of some birds, the murmur of certain waves; but beyond these rare exceptions, hearing has a tender and affectionate part in love; one would say it moved the affections, disposing them to vibrate with the sweetest, most impassioned notes. The sexual character of the female voice affects man, and the virile timbre of our voice causes woman’s heart to throb with deeply sexual desires. There are some feminine voices that cannot be heard with impunity, so suavely do their notes descend into the depths of the heart. The voice of some women resembles the caress of a swan’s wing, and while it delights, disturbs, and confuses us, it also affects us deeply. Man and woman, sending back the notes of their voice, reveal, in turn, their sex, and the heart throbs violently, as in the bosom of a bather who, before sinking the foot into the wave, looks around at the rustle of the leaves. The sound of the voice cannot say, ‘I am beautiful, I am intelligent,’ but of itself alone it can say many other sweet things: ‘I am a woman, I am very much a woman, I desire much, I am languishing with love, I am alone, I want you at once, I await you ardently,’ etc. The seduction of the voice has some of the characteristics attributed to ancient magic; it surprises, fascinates, and conquers us without our being able to discover the cause of such a storm, roused by a few accents, a few words. We feel ourselves almost humbled in being vanquished without a battle, in being carried off without our consent; and the fascination of the voice seems to us the work of a sorcerer. We have often resisted the seductions of the sight, the violence of touch, but the voice conquers us, delivers us, bound hand and foot, into the arms of a mysterious power, which requires of us the blindest submission, against which all rebellion is impossible. And this influence of the voice lasts a long time, is never forgotten, survives often love itself. After long years of silence, of indifference, of contempt, the wind bears to us the sound of a voice; and as though it were the first day of our love, we feel ourselves disturbed, surprised, reconquered. Hearing casts the fish hook into the deepest waters of our affection; and more than love rises from


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the cold ashes by means of a dear voice which we have, perhaps, long since forgotten. Love has many mysterious relations to the sense of smell. In the animal world, perfumes are often the more direct and powerful instigators in amorous struggles, and even before the female has seen the companion by whom she desires to be conquered, the wings of the wind have borne to her nostrils a perfume that inebriates and fills her with voluptuousness. Nature has placed musk, civet, and many other odorous substances in a certain part to show us clearly to what end she destined them; and the flowers that delight us with so multiplied and such varied fragrances tell us plainly how intimate are the relations that bind smell to love and the odorous molecules to the mysteries of reproduction.48 Man and woman have various transpirations, and in some parts of their body various odorous emanations; these can be powerful inciters in inferior races and in coarse men of a high race; but even in the most refined natures smell exercises a powerful influence in love, by means of the perfumes which we have obtained from nature. We have extracted the essence of every petal, the perfume of every calyx, of every leaf, of every bark; we have taken the peculiar fetidness of many enamoured animals, and mixing with libertine art the odours of flowers and exciting aroma, we have concentrated in a few drops of essence much more olfactory voluptuousness than a warm spring could concentrate in a flowering meadow or a tropical forest. Now then, the deep and intense voluptuousness of perfumes is a daughter of a remote origin which fraternizes with the sexual emanations of many beings, and it is solely for this reason that no sense has more intimate ties with animal voluptuousness than smell. Study the physiognomy of a woman who is smelling a very fragrant flower which inebriates her, and you will see that the picture resembles but a sublime scene of love. Question many deeply sensual men, and they will tell you that they cannot visit with impunity the laboratories of essences and perfumes. Interrogate the art of the perfumer, and it will

48 See Darwin, The Descent of Man, vol. 2, p. 279 [Author].

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respond that, after having mixed a hundred essences of flowers and leaves, it revives and improves all those perfumes by adding an infinitesimal quantity of a matter in itself fetid, but taken from the organs of love of some animal. Inquire why women love perfumes so much, and perhaps few will know how to answer, or they will reply with a blush. But those who, by long practice, have learned the most subtle mysteries of the senses, all the fine shrewdness of coquetry, will tell you that odours are powerful weapons in the amorous arsenal, and that some perfumes possess an irresistible charm for the senses of man.49 It is very difficult to remain a long time in the heated atmosphere of voluptuousness without sacrificing a great part of those noble forces which are destined for higher attainments; and this is why a too impassioned mania for perfumes cannot have a moral influence over us. He who plunges into the tepid, titillating, and prurient wave of odours no longer proportions strength to a chaste and robust virility, but squeezes from the fruit the last drop of juice, and in the rabid convulsions of weariness imagines new delights. But from this human abasement to the disdain for perfumes there is an abyss, and relegating them to the woman who sells her body, or to the savage who anoints himself from head to foot, we cast aside and without reason much sweet voluptuousness, which can be enjoyed and cultivated without offending morals. Do you believe that a kiss given to her who loves you, through the petals of a rose, can be a sin of lechery? Do you think that the love gathered in a nimbus of violets, hyacinths, and narcissus, between the crepuscules of two sighs, can be called lasciviousness? Nature is eternally rich, and the garlands we weave with their flowers around our joys never strip the inexhaustible garden.

49 A lady with an exquisite sense of smell once remarked, ‘I experience at times so much pleasure in smelling a flower that it seems to me I have committed a sin’ [Author].

Chapter 12

Boundaries of Love – Their Relations to the Other Sentiments – Jealousy In the cabinet of Apollo in the Vatican you see an ancient bas-relief representing two priestesses of Bacchus; the one is standing, while the heat of voluptuousness is burning within her; in her countenance is written lechery, and a bull is beating its horns against her legs; the other falls exhausted from intoxication. These are two moments of the voluptuousness of love, but they are also the two most elementary forms that bind man to woman. Now ardent energy, now calm possession; now the struggle that conquers, now the affectionate caress that amuses. The most sublime, most constant, most perfect love that man of a superior race can desire or dream of is a bright, hot flame, lasting as life and in whose flickering are lighted from time to time the sparks of a desire that dart forth and disappear. When love comes in contact with the other sentiments, it governs them, attracts and trails them in the orbit of its movements like a little piece of cosmic matter which, having approached too near the sun, is by it attracted and devoured. The sentiments are forces that have, each in their sphere, laws that govern them: when they come together, they either unite or elide, or, oftener still, they exercise a mutual influence which causes them to deviate from the line they followed a moment previous. When an affection approaches love, it yields to such a powerful influence as to seem to disappear from sight; while neither matter nor force can ever be destroyed, but can only change in form. They say that love is the most egotistic of sentiments, because in it we seek the greatest voluptuousness; but love and egotism are two affections that follow very different orbits, since the former brings us to love another creature and has for its object the preservation of the species; the latter makes us love ourselves and tends to the preservation of the

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individual. If by egotism we understand the search for the satisfaction of a need, then all the sentiments, even the most generous, can be considered as forms of egotism, since the martyr too satisfies a very high need of a generous nature. Love is also in perpetual war with egotism; and although the latter is a gigantic affection, it pales before the brilliant light of the Titan of the affections. Many animals suffer death rather than abandon the faithful companion; and even the toad lets itself be tortured, burned, its members amputated, its eyes taken out, but while a healthy member remains, with it the female is lovingly embraced. And do we not also offer peace, riches, glory, science in holocaust to love? And does not woman too bring to love the long illness of pregnancy, the martyrdom of childbirth, the pains of nursing, the tribulation of domestic cares? And how many remember in the intoxication of love the bitter wormwood and nettle they are sowing in that moment, and who thinks then of all the history of sorrow, which, perhaps, with inexorable laws they are preparing? Even the most perfect egotist, if he is a healthy man, desires and loves woman. With the exception of the few elect to whom is conceded the creations of thought, for all others love represents the greatest of energies, the greatest of joys, the crowning of every edifice. Riches and glory are sought, of course; but in the background there is painted on the horizon a feminine creature at whose feet must be deposited the trophies of victory. I do not speak of woman, because for her every satisfied vanity, every hoped-for glory, all desired riches, every flower and every fruit of the garden of life must be laid at the feet of somebody, and this somebody is always a man. The fireworks that close every festival must always be a woman; at the bottom of every common revelry, as on the horizon of every sublime glory, there is ever an Eve. To love and to be loved is of all things human the best; and even in the world of the supersensible, the religions of every country have always promised to the good and faithful an eternity of love, in the harem of voluptuousness or in a mystic but amorous ecstasy. Read the burning pages of the mystic writers, the aspirations to the heart of Jesus, and you will be able to tell me if all that fantastic world is not a transubstantiation of love. The gods of every Olympus have a sexual form, and there are females for the males and males for the females. From the cradle to the grave, love is for


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all and always the highest security. From the automatic lust of adolescence to the studied and avaricious lechery of old age, we pass through the febrile hysteria of early youth and to the deep passions of virility; but for every age love is the sweetest joy. The tocsin50 of old age begins to sound when with the first white hairs we shudder and fear that we are no longer loved, that we are no longer able to love; and we all hope with deep anxiety that for us the hour, the minute will never arrive in which, like the pontiff of Rome, we must pronounce the dreadful words Non possumus! 51 I do not deny that in some human monsters egotism is so powerful as to exclude love, like a sacrifice made to the god Myself, but such cases are very rare. It often occurs that a man trained and habituated to the most sordid egotism, in extreme old age falls in love with a poor young girl and becomes expansive, generous, prodigal perhaps; and he too pays at one time and in a very ridiculous manner the debt which nature had reclaimed of him in vain during youth and maturity. Great egotists also love, but their love is selfish, detracting from the most prodigal and most splendid of the passions that tribute which they cannot refuse to themselves. They are ignorant of the most sublime joys of love; they know nothing of the holy voluptuousness of loving a woman more than oneself: but they also love, they love in their own way. If you wish to study the physiognomy of egotistical love, compare man’s love with woman’s, and you will find it easy to penetrate into the mysteries of this part of psychology; if you would have the contrast more striking, compare the love of an old man with the love of a young woman: in the former you will have an egotistical type, in the latter a generous one. More complex are the influences which the sentiment of possession and selfishness exercise upon love, and the importance given to jealousy will suffice to prove this.

50 Originally a French word designating a bell used as an alarm, and, by extension, an omen [Editor]. 51 We cannot. A sentence pronounced by the pope in rejecting innovations in church doctrine; the expression has come to indicate inability or unwillingness to honour a request [Editor].

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Jealousy really signifies a sorrow of the sentiment of love, caused by the injury done us through the infidelity of the beloved object. This sorrow is natural in all men, in all times, and in almost all races. It is the injury done our property in love. The child scratches and bites the one who touches or destroys its fruit or its toy; it pains us to be robbed of our books, the flowers of our garden; it is natural that we should detest him who touches our sweetheart, the dearest thing to us. And, in fact, this jealousy is but a form of hatred, the most natural, the most legitimate of all others. It is not necessary to create a new energy, or a new word to express this hatred. We may beat or kill a man because he has brutally offended our son, our father, our friend, our country, our sweetheart; five offences against five different sentiments, but always hatred resuscitated from a sorrow, an energy which is developed with the same mechanism. There were offended in us the paternal sentiment, the filial, the benevolent, devotion to the Fatherland, love; and we have responded with centrifugal hatred, with blows or death. But is the presence of a new sentiment deemed necessary in these various cases, because a crime has been committed? Certainly not; injured paternal affection roused such sorrow in us as to lead to assault or assassination; an insult offered to the flag of our country blinded us and led us to commit a violence. Why then, when love is offended, must we create a new sentiment – jealousy? All satisfied sentiments impel us to fondle, to benefit whoever procures us these satisfactions. All injured sentiments force us to repel those who offend, and do evil to such as have brought sorrow to us. Is it jealousy, the hatred that an animal manifests toward the one who interrupts it in its loves? Well then, for many savages, to whom love is nothing but intercourse, all the phenomena of jealousy are reduced to this single form. The instinct satisfied, the unions being promiscuous, woman considered common property, there can be no jealousy. If woman is a cup which may be emptied by everyone, why should there be jealousy? A Bolivian girl once made the cynical remark to me: ‘Woman is the wave of the stream; throw into it a stone; will you be able to tell me a moment after where the stone broke that wave? You, men, are very foolish to make fine distinctions between equal things …’ In polygamous races, man only can be jealous; in the polyandrous, woman alone can be so legally. Among various nations woman is a


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possession like everything else, and hence can be voluntarily offered to the friend or to the guest, like a horse, a dog. It is only in the higher and monogamous races that the sentiments of love, selfishness, and possession, forming a triple cuirass around our women, enable us to defend them tooth and nail; and to this tenacious body, composed of the union of three sentiments, we give the name of jealousy; here we have a second psychical form, a second thing called by the same name. We have termed jealousy a psychical individual organization by which we become suspicious and tyrannical with the beloved, unjustly offend and deny him (or her) legitimate liberty. And after having confounded three different things, that is to say, the sorrow of injured love, the triple combination of three sentiments – love, selfishness, possession – and a pathological irritability of suspicion, we discuss at length, and ever in vain, in order to decide if all men are jealous, whether jealousy measures love with an exact rule, and if one can love without being jealous: vain discussions, I would say puerile, and which would not take place if words were defined beforehand. If by jealousy you mean the sorrow of not feeling oneself beloved or of seeing oneself betrayed, then every heart that loves must be jealous; thus, whoever loves country, mother, son, cannot be indifferent to an offence offered to them; but if by jealousy you understand that form of tyrannical suspicion which torments the person possessed, I will tell you that we can and should love without ever feeling jealousy; and we can be jealous and not love. Let us make a few chemical analyses, and we will understand each other. Under the name of a single sentiment, a single effective energy, there are embraced the most unlike phenomena, namely: 1. The sorrow of injured love. 2. The sorrow for an injury done to a possession. 3. A sorrow of the sentiment of selfishness. 4. A habitual suspicion which refers to the person beloved or possessed. As jealousy is not an elementary psychical phenomenon but simply a quack mixture, it has many and varied ethnical forms; and I will treat them in ‘The Loves of Men.’ It will suffice here to indicate that it becomes necessary in all countries where polygamy prevents man from physically and morally satisfying a woman, and where the husband,

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merely because he is rich and powerful, selects the wives and imposes upon them his love. The jealousy of many nations of the Orient is proverbial, and perhaps monogamous peoples too become jealous through contact with polygamous races, as in Sicily and a part of Spain. It seems to me, however, that in some cases jealousy has not a clear historical origin, but assumes an ethnical character through the special constitution of a race. In any case, in Europe, the Italians, the Spaniards, and above all the Portuguese are very jealous people; and as I learned in America, the most jealous of all are the Brazilians. The generality of my readers will certainly not be persuaded by my psychological analysis, and will continue to measure the force of love by the unreasonableness of suspicion; while many dear and lovely women will continue, who knows for how many centuries, to cast in their lover’s teeth this foolish lament: ‘You do not love me, because you are not jealous; and how can you love me if you do not feel for me the least jealousy?’ Foolish lamentations, indulged in frequently by the contented and who, perhaps, finding it strange and against nature to be too happy, go in search of occasions of sorrow and regret. Is it possible to love anybody on earth more deeply than we do our children? Certainly not; and yet we are not jealous when others love them, and father and mother sublimely vie with each other in fondling and adoring them. Love your companion in the same manner; fear also to lose him, but that fear must not be the anger of the inquisitor, nor the clutch of the miser. Vain counsels, words thrown to the winds! Jealousy is one of the most constitutional psychological maladies, and, if inherited, very difficult to cure. May a benign fate keep it far away from you! It poisons the sweetest joys of life; penetrates into every pore of the skin; pours its gall into every drop of water, into every mouthful of bread; it transforms the man who loves into a carabiniere,52 continually armed, with attentive ear and watchful eye. The jealous man is ever spying, doubtful, suffers always; he investigates the past, the present, and the future; in the caress he seeks the lie, in the kiss he fancies indifference, in love he always fears hypocrisy. What a hellish life! It is a

52 A member of the Italian police force [Editor].


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hundred times better not to love than to love in this way. The punishment of the few jealous with exquisitely refined heart be this: to know that their colleagues have generally more selfishness than love, and that the noblest creatures have always loved without jealousy. The moment in which we perceive that we are no longer loved, that we are betrayed, let love die and give jealousy no quarter. From suspicion to condemnation, or absolution, the path must be short; to a frank question, a frank response; suspicion or love dies, but they die in a hurricane or in a battle; they do not drag out a miserable existence between the courtrooms and the prisons; a hundred times preferable the lightning that prostrates us than the febrile jaundice which consumes the stamen of life and poisons for us all sources of joy. Jealousy, moreover, as it is largely diminished in monogamous society, will continue to become more subtle in the future, when matrimony will be only the sanctification of love, when the choice will always be reciprocal, when in the moral relations of the two sexes every trace of hypocrisy will have disappeared. To know oneself beloved, esteemed, to love and esteem our companion deeply and sincerely, is the most certain guarantee of defence against that sordid parasite, that moth of love – jealousy. When woman will cease to be a slave or freedwoman, and the husband or lover will no longer be the proprietor of a woman, then all those lepers of love, the jealous-sick, will disappear in a trice. Selfishness, independent of jealousy, has many relations to love. No man, no woman in the world can avoid a feeling of pride when conscious of being loved by some noble creature; and if a delicate reserve prohibits us from heralding our good fortune, we can still enjoy the secret pleasure of knowing that the world envies us. It is generally beyond human strength to renounce these joys which can be relished without humiliating others, joys in which there is no shadow of rancour. Woman especially, with admirable art, says a world of things with her silence, and when elated by a noble love, she irradiates such an aureole of light as to dazzle alike adorers and the indifferent. With the majesty of a queen and reserve of a woman, she, without moving her lips, can say to everyone, ‘Envy me, I am loved!’ Holy, just, and modest pride, which I wish to all the daughters of Eve who will have merited love.

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Lovers and sweethearts, choirs of adorers can be objects of luxury as well as horses and palaces; it is natural for human vanity to seek those things, appreciate and utilize them to humiliate such as are unfortunate. Vanity uses love then as a pretext; and many women, incapable of loving, can conquer men solely to make of them trophies of war; and men also, more frequently than women, can through pure vanity undertake a war of attainment. All these facts, though, belong to the story of pride or vanity, and we have already treated them in our study on the sources of love. In that study we saw the paths which lead to love, and hence we were obliged to consider friendship, compassion, and many other sentiments as sources of love; but all benevolent sentiments can have other relations with the prince of the affections; they can take the place of the love that wanes. When the sun shines in the heavens, the moon and minor stars all disappear: and so when love gilds the horizon of life, friendship, compassion, the other benevolent affections can no longer be seen or felt; but when love sets, we see in its place the minor sentiments. Esteem, veneration, and all other analogous sentiments may be companions of love, but they are only too often directed to a creature who little merits them. Love is a magician that transforms and beautifies everything it touches; and we can have an immense esteem and a deep veneration for the most despicable man, for the vilest, most wicked woman. This is not much credit to us, but it is true. No brigand ever stood in need of loves often deep and ardent, and no beautiful courtesan ever lacked illustrious lovers. What does it matter if the beloved object is a disgrace to everybody, if he has been fettered to the pillory of universal hatred? We love him, this is enough. And why do we love him? Because he pleases us. What can science say, what can morality counsel before the not-to-be-appealed-from brutality of this reason? Science recognizes the fact and explains it: a creature despicable in every respect must please us very much to be able to inspire us with love; and this sentiment must be really gigantic to conquer human respect, vulgar prejudices, and the most persistent habits. It has been said, and with much truth, that no woman was ever so ardently loved as


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an ugly woman; and the same may be said of a brutal or wicked man, a prostitute or otherwise vile woman. The illustrious man, accused of loving a vicious or stupid woman, can strip her before the world like Phryne53 of old, saying, ‘Let him dare to cast the first stone at me, who feels himself incapable of loving this beautiful creature!’ And those men who, by reason of their crimes or baseness, have been ostracized from civilized society, have for the one who loves them some pure and virgin oasis, in which repose their loves; some still healthy spot in the heart for the beloved one; and their loves, concealed and bitter, have for certain natures all the perilous seductions of strong odours and intoxicating poisons. No man in the world was ever entirely wicked; and some ferocious kindness of the assassin, some generous impetuosity of the thief is ever preserved for the companion of love. Oh, the omnipotence of this sentiment, which like the ancient alchemist transforms the vilest metals into potable gold, and discovers the only diamond buried in the sand of an alluvium! Science then admits love without esteem, and with a blush of shame bows its head and acknowledges that it is only too frequent. There where science is silent and humiliates itself, morality erects the head and flagellates. Love without esteem is a crime; it is the fecund breeder of other crimes. Woe to us when, bold avengers of public contempt, we dare to boast of loving a vile creature, and impudently parade our loves, as though we arrogantly wished to impose silence on indignant modesty, or petulantly act as a footstool for the offended sweetheart. Liars to ourselves, we defy the most holy and inviolable laws of beauty and honesty, and in the beginning proud, then bold and petulant, we end as true ribalds; enclosed within a circle of mire, we permit no gentle creature to approach who could inspire us with a pure and noble affection. We can raise for an instant the vilest creature on the crest of pride, but the arm wearies, and we roll into the mire together with our idol of a day. Our sweetheart must be not only the companion of our voluptuousness,

53 A Greek courtesan who had different prices for customers according to her feelings for them. Her real name was Mnesarete, but she was called Phryne (toad) owing to her yellow complexion [Editor].

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but also the mother of our children; our lover must be the father and the husband of the family, and we should not consecrate the blush of our countenance in that of our children, who will curse our wicked loves, perhaps the name of the father and the memory of the mother. Pride becomes blunted, the hour of revenge is over, and when we find ourselves alone with a creature whom we cannot love, woe to us! If love is really the holiest thing in life, the most ardent affection, the most voluptuous joy, we should with our hands erect a temple, and with our most sublime sentiments chisel a tabernacle in which we can worthily adore it as a god. Love born in crime and baseness is a nest woven with brambles, while we should interweave it with the most aromatic herbs and the most beautiful flowers. Men and women, we should vie with each other in gleaning from fields and gardens and in bearing to love every gentle affection, every noble aspiration, every impetus of lofty ambition. Lechery and pride, united, become the stepmother of every love without esteem, which, like every organism of evil birth, lives a rickety, scrofulous life, full of sorrow and calamity. If love is really the most precious gem, we should enclose it in a casket which, for richness of material, skill of art, aesthetic workmanship, is worthy of its contents. Only the noblest things should touch it; no hand save an angel’s should caress it; no heat animate it except that of the kisses of two loving lips. If tomorrow woman would only concede her favours to the honest and industrious man; if it were possible that man loved but the modest woman, we would behold the human family regenerated in the course of a generation, we would see men educated by means of voluptuousness. For the prison that terrifies, for the hell that threatens, we would have substituted the caresses of a woman, the kisses of a man, as instructive forces. Will this be eternally a dream? Must we always threaten and assault men to make them better? Will we have no less cruel medicine than sorrow to cure men of vice and crime?

Chapter 13

Boundaries of Love – Their Relations to Thought Thought can be, for various reasons, now an ally, now a victim of love. First instrument of seduction after the exterior form of the body, thought is revived and elevated in contact with the new sentiment, as is the case with every other energy condensed in our brain; and while it becomes refined it is also strengthened, exhibiting some of its rarest, most exquisite fruits. Many torpid intellects cannot be roused save by the kiss of love, only to fall back into the old lethargy the moment the goad of desire has left them; healthier brains, however, rise above themselves when called upon to offer an unusual tribute at the new altar. For very many, poetry is the song of spring, and, mute and prosaic previous to having loved, they return to their prose and dumbness when the season of loves is past. This is because men can continue to possess a woman; but being poor in moral energy, they have only in the May of life a smile of poetry, which lasts as long as the petals of a rose. Their cold and indolent fancy permits itself a little flight among the bushes of the garden, raises its feeble trill, and falls without wings on the main road, to walk until death. A woman who has been loved by one of these spring lovers, and who remembers having once seen him ideal and impassioned, finds it very difficult to persuade herself that the man who today is all prose from his head to his feet, who lives between his chocolate and his nightcap, who has seven varieties of flannels and ten kinds of lozenges, once wrote verses, even fell on his knees at her feet and covered them with bitter tears. On the contrary, the more fortunate derive from their loves a continual and powerful stimulus to the works of thought, which seem to be renewed at every phase of the passion and every change of lovers. In the life of many artists, poets, and even statesmen, these various influences

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can be studied in their works, which turn out much more vigorous when the artist, the poet, the head of state is a woman. The influence of love upon the forces and forms of thought is twofold, and is derived from self-love and from the psychical nature of the beloved person. As a sentiment born in youth or which rejuvenates the aged, it excites especially the fancy, refines the skill for reproducing the beautiful; animates, in a word, those mental aptitudes that generally reach their apogee in the age in which love manifests its greatest energies. We can rarely ever be great poets and great artists without having loved intensely, without having at least a great capacity for loving. Chastity, forced or voluntary, can conceal love; but there below, in the depths of the heart, some images, more angelic than human, hold sway; they rise at every inspiration of genius, at every song of the lyre, at every touch of the brush, and revive or light the sacred fire of art. The genius of many among the great poets, artists, and writers of the world had love for a first companion, a sovereign inspirer, and without this sentiment their names would be unknown to us. The love born in a sublime brain accumulates gigantic forces, and chastity, always imposed by the great passions in their first stages, refines and augments them; so that love seems to transform itself into genius, and genius colours with splendid tints every amorous manifestation. A chaste genius who loves is a phalanx of combatant forces, a host of winged geniuses, and hence no conquest is difficult, no resisting force can offer opposition. Thought, companion of love, offers to it the richest tributes of its energy, as the enamoured bird sings its most harmonious notes to its companion, as the flower condenses all its perfumes and the fascination of its most beautiful colours around the nest in which plants love. And to thought augmented, transformed, adorned with all its splendours, there is also united the goad of selfishness, which, in the satisfaction of pride in possessing the beloved person, always finds new ambition and new incentive to work. Not only does the beloved creature receive the tribute; but in the enthusiastic eloquence with which she expresses her gratitude, it is manifest that she also feels the same stimulating influence, and the most modest and silent tongue finds splendours of rhetoric and beauties of style unknown until that day.


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An old experience demonstrates that in every country of the world woman conquers man by her epistolary style and especially by the amorous letter; this is not only owing to the peculiar nature of the feminine mind, but also to the strong excitement produced in woman by the stimulus of love. A letter is generally an exchange of benevolence; and woman feels more deeply than we the intimate relations of two affections; she loves more and better than we. Man has a hundred different ways of giving vent to his genius excited by love; art, ambition, science open to him a thousand avenues wherein to manifest the new energies; to poor woman, on the contrary, there remains no other literary form open save amorous correspondence, and she uses and abuses it in a surprising manner. Among the many hecatombs, among the daily pyres of many perfumed letters, there are scattered real treasures of art, which should be saved from the conflagration that consumes so many volumes of words and phrases – since the commonplace always dominates every field of good and evil, and commonplace, like all things human, are the generality of loves. The eloquence of love, true song of enamoured genius, is not contradicted by the timid and often stupid silence which invariably accompanies the first declarations, the first skirmishes. Fear in all its forms dries up the mouth, and the pharynx suddenly suspends the secretions of mucus and saliva, and for many it is physically impossible to speak; the deep disturbance of thought confuses ideas and words, so that eloquence is reduced to an absolute silence or one interrupted only by disconnected phrases. That love-mute, however, scarcely returned to the quiet of the solitary chamber, suddenly becomes a new Demosthenes, and into space, or on paper, launches the torrents of a fiery eloquence, which a few moments previous would have proved so opportune and so beautiful. Happy love in the stage of attainment raises all brains above the medium temperature, fecundating them continually with new energies. Even in intoxication the thyrsus of the dithyramb never falls from the hand of the happy mortal who loves or hopes to be loved. When, on the contrary, our affection vibrates with notes of sorrow, there will follow a sublime elegy, the anguish of thought; we can become poets or fools. Brains of a superior organization are cured of the great sorrows of the heart with a book, with a musical creation, or with a picture; but

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many human brains are submerged in the hurricane of an unhappy love; the statistics of lunatic asylums have always an ample file of the love-mad; and in the obscurity of the domestic walls are concealed many other brains withered or fallen into lethargy through unfortunate loves. I am writing in these pages a poor essay of general physiology, or, as it is usually termed, psychology, and I have neither the right nor the strength to occupy myself with a work of literary criticism, which still remains to be done, notwithstanding the beautiful things written by many on the influence of love in art. Not only has every poetic or artistic genius (and among these I consider the writer the greatest of all) left in his works the imprint of his loves, but he has felt and interpreted love, in a way entirely his own, and which in some cases became the style of a school or of an epoch. The woman loved by Byron is quite different from the sweetheart of Burns, Laura is not Beatrice, and the woman seen by Leopardi is not Vittoria Colonna. To attempt the assimilated psychology of celebrated loves and of the amorous types of art is a gigantic labour in which the artist, the psychologist, and the literary man should join hands in order to complete a work worthy of the subject. For me it will suffice to have prepared some materials for this work of the future with the present essay and with the other two which will follow at short intervals. Love ceases to be a spur of thought and becomes its first assassin, not only when unhappy, but also when stifling in the slough of lechery. Chastity is an almost entirely hygienic question, and I will treat it at length in ‘The Hygiene of Love’; here, however, is the place to indicate the point from which the hygienic branch starts out from the great trunk of physiology. The embrace has never debased thought, when voluptuousness was but love; but when lasciviousness is stronger than sentiment, and the animal man regrets having given too much of himself to the future, the individual rebels against the excessive tribute paid to the preservation of the species. Then the animal man is ill, or the moral man has fallen into libertinism. No, nature never punishes those who wisely obey its laws; and after the sacrifice of love, man is as happy and intelligent as before; since in the blessed languor of a brief repose, nature stills even the pain of weariness. ‘Cut down the entire forest of concupiscence, not one tree alone: when you shall have levelled every tree, every branch, you can then pronounce


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yourselves free, pure, virtuous,’ cries the Dhammapada 54(chap. XX), and science utters the same cry; but instead of the word ‘concupiscence’ it writes the more precise term ‘lechery.’ In our organism every function is so well regulated that we, like the cedar, can always bear leaves, flowers, and fruits, provided we do not sacrifice the fruit for the flower, that we do not imitate the monstrous exuberant petals or the seedless fruits. Wise chastity is the most able administrator of harmonies and vital energies; love and labour do not disagree, as we shall see in our ‘Hygiene of Love,’ and as many exacting or hypocritical moralists are continually asserting with too great severity. I have previously stated that the influence of love over thought is twofold, and we have still to study the second phase, namely, that exercised by means of the psychical nature of the beloved. Two creatures in love with each other are two bodies excessively electrified, and it follows that of the two thoughts brought face to face by love, one exercises an influence of attraction greater than the other; consequently, one gives more than it receives. In general, the stronger mind exercises a greater fascination, and as man’s talent is more frequently greater than woman’s, the latter easily acquires the ideas, theories, intellectual tastes of man. It is not always true, however, that superior attractions are in proportion to the superior strength of mind, since some special characteristics of certain intellects render them more fascinating, make their contact more dangerous, richer in elective affinity. Thought can be robust, original; but when rigid, unpolished, it dwells in solitary heights, and the beloved contemplates it with admiration but feels no attraction. It is like a star too cold and too distant for us to desire. Some other talents, on the contrary, seem to be hooked, so strongly do they adhere to men and things; when we approach them, we feel ourselves absorbed, and after their contact we carry away some influence of contagion, fascination, imitation. These magnetic brains unite to the other amorous seductions also

54 A collection of 423 Buddhist verses arranged in twenty-six chapters by topic. It is said to contain the essential teachings of the Buddha, delivered on a wide variety of occasions and for the benefit of a broad range of human beings. Its title can be translated as ‘The Way of Virtue,’ ‘The Path of Law,’ or ‘The Foundation of Religion’ [Editor].

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this most powerful one of subjugating the mind of the beloved, so that to the sweet chain of affection is added that of thought. The particular influence of fascinating talents is seen in some women, who, to their other amiabilities, add also this of conquering the stronger and more elevated thought of man. Living with them, breathing their moral atmosphere, it becomes impossible, even for the most strenuous opposers of the ideas of others, not to think as they think, not to write as they write, not to acquire certain psychical tastes which form their delight. The style of some writers and the manner of some painters have unconsciously yielded to these slow and mysterious influences; and the ignorant masses examine the origin of these aesthetic mutations and seek it in abstruse causes and in evolutions of art and science, while, on the contrary, they have a more humble but more natural source. The style and manner are changed, reposing the head on the bosom of a blonde friend, or playing among the curly labyrinths of a black head. In the history of arts and of literature these influences are rarely mentioned, because they are generally unknown to the biographer and often not perceived by the artist and the poet who felt them. Woman always confesses, and frequently with pride, to having conformed her thought to that of her friend; man rarely ever acknowledges this, but rebels and feels hurt at the strange accusation. When did the king of the universe ever change his style or direct his thought for the sake of a kiss or a caress? ‘Mine and mine alone!’ exclaims the man. ‘His and his alone,’ ever sighs the woman; and I with different words must frequently have repeated the same thing in the pages of this book. Not only does the robust nature of human brains measure their various influence in the struggles and caresses of love, but the degree of love makes us feel the high influences of thought. The more one loves, the more one yields to the fascination of another’s talent; the more one loves, the more one is disposed to abdicate one’s own ideas and aesthetic tastes, to assume the tastes of the beloved. Man, in his stupid pride, constantly repeats in every tone that woman, in politics, in morality, in religion, thinks always like her lover; and by this he believes himself to affirm with the most eloquent proof the evident superiority of his genius. Woman generally feels more deeply the influence of virile thought, not only because she is weaker than we, but because she loves


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much more than it is possible for us to love. She sacrifices instantly and willingly even selfishness to love; man rarely and with difficulty accomplishes this sacrifice. ‘She is stupid, but beautiful,’ we say in our happy moments. Woman, on the contrary, often soliloquizes: ‘How can God exist, if he does not believe in God? And how can democracy be respectable, if he insults it daily? Socialism must be a holy thing, if it is his religion.’ Man is ever right in the eyes of the woman who loves him, because she can seldom love without esteem; we, on the contrary, very often permit ourselves to love blindly women whom we cannot or should not esteem. This difference would suffice to prove that in the psychical evolution of the two sexes woman excels us in aesthetic sentiment as we surpass her in intellectual development. Woman has already attained perfect love, which is the fusion of all human elements, the election of elections; we see the concubine even in the sweetheart and spouse; and the highest genius does not disclaim to pour out the burning metal of his thoughts into the moulds of an unworthy Venus. In love we are oftener disciples than masters on the field of sentiment. Two thoughts cannot with impunity be enclosed in the same atmosphere, cannot follow the orbit of a like planetary system. The one gives much, and the other gives little; the one receives more than it gives, the other gives more than it receives; but together they modify, send back, and exchange influences and energies. This is a consequence of the most elementary laws of natural philosophy: two loves and two brains are two systems of forces; or, however powerful one may be in comparison to the other, both must in their contact undergo a molecular modification of their movements. To the direct influence of love join the automatic power of imitation; unite the tyranny of habit, the epicureanism of the transactions of ideas, of conscience, and many other minor causes, and you will see how inexorably thought must change when we think in two. Not all intellectual phenomena submit equally to the persuasion of love, but those feel it most that are interwoven with it, forming binary bodies, composed of affection and thought. Religion and morality are more easily modified than aesthetic tastes, and these undergo more frequent changes than philosophical theories. There is a certain architecture in our brain that forms its framework and can be destroyed only by

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death or lunacy. Against it love is powerless; and also certain intellectual antitheses between a man and a woman suffice to render love impossible, even when the sympathy of appearances and a certain congeniality of affections should violently rouse the sovereign of the sentiments. To despise the influence of love over thought may be the fruit of pride, but it is also more frequently a solemn proof of gross ignorance: pride and ignorance which we bitterly expiate, because if today we can content ourselves with the comeliness of appearance, and if robust youth, comforted later by coquetry, can prolong a love based on voluptuousness, sooner or later the day arrives in which, when the great disparity of brains destroys every hope of common intelligence, we find ourselves in the presence of a horned dilemma: either to renounce dual thought, horrible amputation of intellectual life; or to lower ourselves day by day in order that the voice of him who speaks so feebly may reach our ear. Hence a continual toil, a sad and weary strain; hence a tottering of lofty intellects and a festering of weak brains; hence the inevitable death of a love which should have submerged only with the last plank of shipwrecked beauty; hence the hidden polygamy of our modern society, profoundly immoral because profoundly false; because it wishes to run too impatiently, when it has barely strength to move one foot before the other; because it petulantly tries to leap with its legs still wrapped in the sacred bands of the Middle Ages. We must all inexorably yield to the influence of thought in love. If our robust brain can elevate a few degrees the smaller one of the beloved person, we must always humble ourselves, bringing down with us the level of our thought and wasting many of the nobler forces of human progress. A certain disparity of levels is inevitable, but it should not be excessive, because in the continual efforts to equalize those levels, in the sorry attritions that take place in the attempt to reach equal levels, a great part of love, sadly, can be consumed.

Chapter 14

Chastity in Its Relations to Love

To many readers this chapter may seem to no purpose in a psychological work, since chastity is a question of hygiene or a negation of love; and anyway it can be whispered in my ear, Non est hic locus.55 Let the enemies of chastity or those to whom it is unknown skip this chapter, which will be among the shortest in the book, and permit that where we speak of light we may also say what is shadow. Chastity is the shadow of love, and the most enthusiastic among the adorers of the sun seeks always the friendly shade of a tree, where among the knotty roots or on the soft field-carpet he can slowly drink in the light of which he went in search; he too must love a tranquil shade, from which he can contemplate the distant splendours of the supreme father of every energy and every heat. Even in the sandy desert of Sahara, or the grassy pampas of South America, man feels the necessity of reposing in the shadow of his camel or his horse, to brood voluptuously over the long and fiery suns absorbed. Do you also repose in the shadow of the hair or eyebrows of your sweetheart, to drink in the long memories of the lightning flashes of love. Chastity is not only repose, but also a wise and powerful creation of new energies and infinite poetry. Voluptuousuess is a hurricane or thunderbolt, but always a superior force that brutally tears up and prostrates the tree of life, dashing the leaves rudely against the ground that nourishes them. Chastity is a boundless temple, in which the fresh and silent atmosphere dries the sweat of the struggle, refreshes the stifling air of the battle, and restores tranquillity to every brow. The chastity of two lovers is a real temple, in which the animal man takes shelter, prays and

55 This is not the place [Editor].

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invokes an unknown god to make of him an angel; and love is refined, cleansed from all mire, and mounts, flapping its wings, to the highest regions of the ideal. Desire subdued without violence, unhesitatingly by chastity, lowers the brows, inclines the head, and bends the knee before the statue of love, and, trembling but subdued, caresses with its long neck and warm hair the soft knees, like an enamoured swan that lets itself be fondled by the gentle hand of a nude but modest woman. Have you ever noticed two lovers sitting on one chair and reading the same book together, while a child, fruit of their first loves, is seated at their feet shouting and prattling? When that little angel raises its head too petulantly or screams too boisterously, the caressing hand of the mother or the severe hand of the father brings it back again to silence. Thus should desire remain a long time in sweet imprisonment at the feet of two lovers, obedient to the amorous voice and not to the rattan of the old-time schoolmaster. No more odious virtue than the chastity taught by the intolerant and often not very chaste priest; no more delicate, more sublime virtue than the chastity instilled by love and the noblest faculties of the human mind. An immodest love can be happy for a time, can laugh and smile; can let itself be transported by the vortex of voluptuousness into a dissolute, giddy dance, but it is always a drunken love; and intoxication ends quickly, and generally badly. Chaste love is an ardent but pure love; it is a love ever armed and cheerful; it is a sapphire illuminated by electric light. Monastic chastity is a hidden form of onanism, sickness, or mania; it is an affirmation that something is lacking in the man, or it is a violent amputation, a cruel mutilation. The free and agreeable chastity of two lovers is the wisest lust that sacrifices the daily bread to the splendours of a Sardanapalian feast;56 it is the education of the senses and the affections; it is the holiest worship of the noblest joys of thought; it is one of the most precious gems that can ornament the tissues of life. Blessed those who know how to be chaste in this manner, who understand how to make of love an energy that educates and ennobles, who make it also the greater coefficient of noble ambitions and magnanimous purposes.

56 From the name of Sardanapalus (Ashurbanipal), an Assyrian king famous for his luxurious living [Editor].


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And you, O women, who have ‘intellect of love,’ teach us chastity, for this holiest of virtues is difficult for us to acquire. Prize dearly this delicate mission, because you will be the first to enjoy the fruits. With coarse and vulgar calculation, you prefer to disarm your lovers, in order that they may not wound other victims besides yourselves: perhaps, also, that they may not hurt their hands; but your reckonings are falsely based: from the nausea of satiety springs more infidelity than from the prudent custody of the desires; and to leave a desire always kindled and a virgin flower ever in your garden is one of the most precious secrets of reigning eternally, of being always loved. There is an absolute chastity imposed by the cruel written and unwritten laws of the sects or of society; we will speak of them in ‘The Hygiene of Love’ and in ‘The Loves of Men.’ There is another absolute chastity imposed by ambition, by a misunderstood virtue, or even by egotism; chastity is reduced to an idolatry of oneself, an eager concentration of forces to reach lofty or foolish ends. The fruit which human voluptuousness reaps is generally inferior to what it desired or hoped for, and nature avenges itself in a thousand ways upon those who outrage it. In many cases, however, true, sincere chastity imposed by an iron will is so admirable as to merit a place in the museum among rare and valuable things. Not one in a hundred of those whom history venerates deserves the incense which it is the custom to offer them, because many of these forms of chastity are false or easy through impotency; hence, a false virtue. Others are sterile as the sands of the desert, they are clouds that rise without shape or aim among the fancies of the human heart, and evaporate without leaving a trace of themselves; however, they do not belong to the history of love, and to discuss them here would warrant the kind reader to whisper in my ear a second time, Non est hic locus.

Chapter 15

Love in Sex

Man and woman can love with the same force, but they will never love in the same manner, since to the altar of their passion they bring a vastly different nature, even apart from the unlike genetic mission assigned to each. As long as there shall be a man and woman on our planet, they will eternally exchange and re-exchange this innocent reproach: ‘Ah, you do not love me as I love you!’ And the lament will be forever true, because woman will never love like man, and man can never love like woman. A complete monography of the assimilated psychology of the two sexes could mark the distinctive characteristics of virile and of feminine love, and who knows but one day I will try it; here it is sufficient for me to indicate the two phases of a passion unique in its essence, but rendered so very unlike by the two different natures called Adam and Eve. Let us listen to two spontaneous cries, from two distant races, and we will find the first lines of a physiology of the sexual character of love. The Munda-Kolhs of Chota Nagpore have some popular songs in which they express the psychical difference of man and woman. The women sing: ‘Singbonga from the beginning has made us smaller than you, therefore we obey you. Even if it were not so from the beginning, you would still have overburdened us with work; our strength is not equal to yours. To you God has given two hands, to us but one.’ And the men sing to the women: ‘As God has given us two hands, so he has made us greater than you. Are we great of ourselves? He himself has separated us into great and small. If now you do not obey the word of man, you certainly disobey the word of God. He himself has made us greater than you.’57

57 Sagen, ‘Sitten und Gebraüche der Munda-Kolhs in Chota Nagpore vom Missionar Th. Jelliughaus,’ Zeitschrift für Etnol. (1871), p. 331 [Author]. The Munda, or Kols, also known as Kolarians, are a tribe of the Indian Chota Nagpur plateau [Editor].


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Here is a Kabila song in which a chorus of young women alternate with a chorus of sturdy youths. The women: ‘He who would be loved by woman always goes armed; puts the butt-end of the gun to his cheek and cries, ‘Come to me, O maiden!’ The men: ‘You do well to love us. God sends us war and we die, and there remains at least the memory of the happiness that we have given you.’ Rising from the Munda-Kolhs and the Kabils to the higher and more civilized races, we always find a remnant of this savage cry of nature, in which man proclaims his strength or imposes it, or woman yields to or invokes it. Hence the very unequal part of joys and sorrows, of rights and duties, that man concedes to his companion in the world of love; hence an ever increasing usurpation of joys and rights on the part of the strong, the lower we descend in the human scale; hence a continual aspiration of civilized people to make a more equal division of good and evil between the two sexes, that still share so diversely and so unjustly light and darkness, joys and sorrows. Where muscular strength is the criterion of the hierarchy, where it constitutes the first of human forces, the difference between man and woman in the rights and joys of love is immense, and woman becomes little more than a domestic animal, which is bought, sold, or killed according to the necessity of the moment. Polygamy originates there where morality is uncertain, where lechery is ardent; and woman, guarded as a treasure of voluptuousness, falls morally lower than in a wandering tribe of naked but monogamous savages, where woman is the companion of the labours and joys of man. It is for this, perhaps, that Solomon in his harem cried out, ‘And who will find me a strong woman?’ Even among us, woman does not play the part in love that nature has assigned her, and here also she can rank herself without scruple among the oppressed who await their jacquerie58 or their statute; here too she is a legitimate pretender, who by means of right or strength will one day or other attain her proper place in the world.

58 The French peasants’ anti-feudal rebellion, and, by extension, any revolution led by oppressed people [Editor].

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But of rights I will speak in another chapter; here we must remain in the confines of physiology, which still is, or should be, the legitimate mother of every human legislation. If anthropology would place at our disposal all the moral and intellectual elements that separate man from woman, science could with surety insert in its laws and customs a rightful place for each. Nature has allotted to woman the greater part of love, and if this difference could be expressed in figures, I would say that to us there has been conceded but a fifth, a quarter at the most, of the amorous territory.59 No civilization, no caprices of tyrants, no omnipotence of genius has been able to modify this immutable law. In the rancid, fetid hut of the Eskimo or in the palace of the prince, woman gives her entire self to man, first as daughter, then as sweetheart, wife, mother; she is the great receptacle of the living, the bosom from which we draw blood, voluptuousness, love: every pleasure that inspires us with love, every heat that animates us. Woe to us if with a bastard education we poison the source of human life! Woe to us if we deny to Eve the holiest of rights, that of loving and being loved! For woman, love is the first necessity, that which rises pre-eminently over all others; her entire organism and psychology are bent and formed by the influence of love. Van Helmont brutally asserts, ‘Tota mulier in utero,’60 but thinkers of all times applaud the aphorism of the Dutch physician. Woman physically desires and possesses very long, and she can enjoy attainment every day, every hour, and make of it a warm and perfumed atmosphere in which she lives as in a nest; woman cradles in her viscera an angel that desires ardently and continually and does not quench in her the affection for her companion; she forms, nourishes, and fondles man, and every year she can see herself, her flesh, and her

59 Only a woman could write these sublime words: ‘Ah, sans doute que dans les mystères de notre nature aimer, encore aimer est ce qui nous est resté de notre héritage céleste’ – Mme de Staël [Author]. Undoubtedly among the mysteries of our nature, to love and love again is that which has remained of our heavenly legacy [Editor]. 60 The whole woman is her womb. Jean Baptiste van Helmont (1579–1644) was a Flemish chemist and physician, the first who realized the presence of gases other than air and who is credited with the coinage of the word ‘gas’ itself. He is renowned for having taken the melting point of ice and the boiling point of water as standards for temperature, and also for his adoption of medical remedies specifically targeting a disease, its causes, and the bodily organ affected [Editor].


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loves transformed into a host of little angels, who are pieces of her heart, rose petals fallen from the flower of her beauty, and who all softly call her ‘mamma,’ that is to say, receptacle of life. From the eager embrace of the man she loves, she passes to the caresses of her children; voluptuousness does not weary her, heat parch her, nor passion disgust her; from her head to her feet she is entirely absorbed by love, and this is the sap that circulates in every vein and moistens every fibre; so that when it is taken from her she resembles the tree torn up by the whirlwind and which sees every leaf wither and every flower fall. The love of man is a lightning that flashes and passes; the love of woman is a ray of the sun that descends slow and warm into the heart and fecundates it; and she absorbs it gradually and voluptuously; every root of sentiment, joy, or thought is nourished, so that, even when the sun is set, its fecundating rays still remain concealed in the soil it warmed. Many have contradicted my opinion, advanced about twenty-eight years ago in my Physiology of Pleasure, that to woman nature conceded a larger bowl to drink from at the inexhaustible fount of love’s voluptuousness; and as until now joy has never been measured nor weighed, the problem will still remain a long time in discussion. Eve can thirst longer than we to renew the battles of love, and realize the blessed dream of a voluptuousness that, changing form, is eternally renewed, so that weariness remains unknown. But if for many men voluptuousness is the whole of love, for woman it is only a sweet episode, even for the most lecherous of sensual women. And if you do not believe this audacious affirmation, send heralds throughout the civilized world, call together all men and women and invite them to a strange tournament of love; ask each if they would accept a lasting, faithful love without voluptuousness in exchange for a voluptuousness without love: a hundred women would vote for love; perhaps ten, perhaps five men would join in the sublime refusal of the embrace. O all you who have studied the heart of woman in the street or in the house of ill fame, and think to make your companion happy with lechery, gold, and fine dress, remember that, above all, woman desires to love, to feel herself warmed by the breath of a man, to lean entirely on the faithful arm of a man, to feel herself necessary to a companion of whom she would be proud; she wants to be the first for somebody. You behold one

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woman unhappy in the midst of luxury’s splendour, fondled by a kind husband, her every wish gratified; and you see another happy though surrounded by misery, oppressed by the brutal caprices of a lover. Mysteries of the heart, you say; most natural things, I assert. The first does not love her husband, the second loves her lover. And this is another essential difference between the loves of man and woman; man wants to be loved, woman desires above all to love. The sentiment that consumes her is more active and more expansive than in us; she requires little from her companion, because she is too rich and her affection is too strong to require the aid of selfishness in fighting the battles of life. Certainly, perfect love is the sum of these two beautiful things: ‘I love – I am loved’; but for woman it is often sufficient to be able to exclaim, ‘I love,’ while man is generally satisfied to repeat, ‘I am loved.’ Never ask a woman why she loves: she sometimes loves a creature so ugly, so poor, so deformed as to fill us with surprise and terror. Provided that creature is entirely hers, she will know how to adorn him with the flowers of fancy, illuminate him with the bright light that emanates from the heart. When woman loves she always believes herself to be loved in return. Did Caesar ever doubt that he would win a battle? Did Napoleon ever doubt that he was immortal? So it is with the love of woman; it will cringe like a reptile at the feet of her companion or roar like a lion that demands what it needs, it will be the rabbit caressed in the lap of a child or the eagle that mounts with its prey. The eager faith of the neophyte, the proud faith of infallibility, the boundless impatience of the fortunate conqueror are virtues common to the loves of woman, very rare among men. For woman to love it is enough to find genius, strength, even crime in him whom she would make her own; she can love the ugliest, the vilest, the most deformed among men. She elevates every man she touches; she believes herself capable of heating even ice. Man prefers the beautiful to everything else, and pardons the rest; man often abases even the most exalted loves. Woman bears even lechery to the high regions of sentiment; man sinks even affection in the mire of lust. Pardon the cynical phrase, but do not reject it, because it is only too true: man in his loves is much more beast than angel; woman is more angel than man. And now let us take from the breast of two lovers the bleeding, hot,


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palpitating hearts, and let us analyse them with the needles and pincers of anatomy; many sexual differences of love will appear clear to us, which until now have not been apparent. adam’s love Oh, how happy I am! Remember that she is mine. It is not true that I love her.

Always! My God, what ennui! We must separate; reason will kill our love. How beautiful you are! Preserve your beauty and I will always love you. Make me happy, even without loving me. Do not make me ridiculous. Give me all. Every love ends in indifference or in friendship. I want it, and if you do not yield, it is because you do not love me. Love is the greatest voluptuousness. She has certainly granted favours to others. Is she worthy of me? Will she make me happy? Can she satisfy me? I think too much of her. I have delayed only a quarter of an hour.

eve’s love Are you happy? Remember that I am his. Yes, I love him very much, I love him alone. Is there anyone who would have something to say? Always! My God, what voluptuousness! Monster, I despise you, you horrify me … but I love you still. How tall you are! Be true to me and I will always love you. Insult me, but love me. Do not betray me. Give me your heart. From love we can pass only to hatred or contempt. And if I love you, why do you ask again? Love is life. Ah, he has loved another before me. Am I worthy of him? Will I make him happy? Can I satisfy him? I do not think enough of him. Why do you always arrive so late?

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I must leave: I have been here a long time. Another embrace. Forgive me: I am a wretch, but my heart is always yours. Platonic love is a chimera. I want her because I desire her. With time she will love me.

You would leave me, and you have only just arrived? Another kiss. I forgive you because I love you still. Platonic love is quite possible. I want him because I love him. I will love him so much that he must love me in return. I will give her so much gold and I will caress him so much that he must love me in return. so many jewels that she will have to love me. My God! How did you get here? And what can the world do against me, if you love me? But you will compromise me! Oh, how she loves me! Oh, how I love him! I must go to her. Why does he not come? Woman is changeable … Man is a vile being. She will be mine. He will be my husband. She was my sweetheart, she is my He was my friend, he is my friend. sweetheart. Today. Tomorrow. Tomorrow. The day after tomorrow. In a month. In a year. Immediately. Never. Yes, yes, yes, yes. No, no, no, no. I desire her, hence I love her. I desire him, but I do not love him. She is virtuous because she is He is virtuous because he loves me chaste. very much. Woman cannot be faithful. Man does not know how to love. And let this be a poor essay of assimilated physiology of the two sexes. Every thought, every word, every gesture of the man and woman who love receives the stamp of sex; and when the characters are inverted, we find ourselves before a caricature, a monster, or even a crime. Sometimes, however, women of a virile temperament love manfully, and men of gentle fibre manifest in their loves tenderness, weakness, and sublime


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pictures which should be observed only in woman. We are still in the field of pathology; but the psychical forms, through the unusual intermingling of figures and strange colouring, can have an aesthetic element which rouses our amazement and invites us to meditate. However varied may be the sexual elements of love, our modern civilization is guilty of a grave sin, because to woman, the true and great priestess of love we concede only a poor and wretched tribute. We have ambition, glory, science, and the mad thirst for gain; we have refined every nourishment of the heart and mind, demonstrating that she must only love. After having usurped almost the entire field of human activity, we have left her the garden of love as her only possession, her only comfort. And when this poor prisoner, with all the eager curiosity of her nature, begins to cull the flowers and scented herbs of her dominion, when she would cultivate the garden in her own way, we interfere even there, planting the placards of our restrictive regulations and the palisades of our laws. That flower bed is reserved, you must not pluck that flower, and do not walk over that path. Even the selection of flowers to be cultivated must be made by us, who possess the field, the meadow, the forest, the ice of the Alps and the wave of the ocean. Thus, we have a slave who murmurs and conspires against us; we ourselves have unleafed the garden in which a proud and noble chatelaine would have been able to receive us and quiet us after our glorious labours; thus, instead of being welcomed to halls resplendent with gold and gems, we have a prisoner or a slave who places her head upon our knees and weeps. We have measured out to her the bread and wine of life, as the jailer measures for the thief; and, tyrants even in love, we have assigned ourselves the part of the lion in voluptuousness as in the free choice of the sovereign affection. But every injustice is repaid, as every rupture of equilibrium is settled again; and the continual and often justified betrayals of our slaves, the plots of the seraglio, the conspiracies of the palace, assure us daily that we build on a false foundation the edifice of the family, and they cry out to us in a loud voice that it will soon be imperative to give to woman that which belongs to woman: the free choice of loves, equality of rights in affection as in the family.

Chapter 16

Love in Youth and Age

In studying the twilights of rising love, we have involuntarily outlined the lineaments of childish and youthful love. We have seen it, timid and spasmodic, exerting itself between the last swaddling clothes of infancy and the first weapons of youth, like a little warrior armed with a wooden sabre and a tin gun. It is in adolescence that this sovereign affection reveals to us the most sublime puerility, the maddest hysteria. Side by side with the most ideal aspirations we find the impetuous and automatic outbreak of first lust; and youthful fancy, inflaming the first fevers of lust, agitates and startles the tender and fragile organism. Happy those who in the first storms of life find a loving hand that guides and comforts them, and preserves them from the thousand dangers which threaten at the same time health and morality. After the first and impatient lusts of adolescence there generally follows, in elect natures, a period of reaction, during which they make heroic vows of chastity and extraordinary endeavours to learn to hate woman. It is then that in the diary of the boy-man we read these vows and aspirations to chastity which I copy here: … Tremendous dilemma of life: the universe without woman – woman without the universe. I have been able to pass an entire day without embracing a woman or directing any fervid aspiration to her; and yet I have passed a very happy day! Try always to do without the vile race of Eve. I was seated near a young Creole, and I found her beautiful, inebriating, voluptuous. I thought of the paradise of delights enclosed within her, and


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I wavered. The most Creole embrace in the world, however, is not worth the cosmic synthesis, as I have conceived it and as I will know how to describe it to men. No pleasure is shorter than erotic delirium; no sacrifice more fruitful of advantageous consequences than the disdain for this voluptuousness. Instinct, with the fury of its power, represents pleasure to you in its most attractive aspect; it is only a faculty of yours, and would draw into its whirlpool your entire activity. It is only one of your faculties and that which you have in common with the vilest creatures at the end of the scale of creation, and this faculty desires to be the first: the first, and only for a few moments; but in these moments the least noble of your powers can and will take away a great part of yourself, of your ego. It is a sovereign who reigns only a few seconds, but who has enough power in the period of his dominion to destroy half the state and to leave his throne on a heap of ruins, brands, and ashes; it is easy to destroy, but from a mass of ruins and ashes an overthrown state is poorly reconstructed. But you have soldiers to send against this ephemeral monarch; and if you know how to arm and discipline them, they will bring you of that sire nothing but a corpse, and you will see what a miserable carcass it is of putrefaction, dirt, and worms. But beware lest your soldiers parley with him; he has a voice so sweet and mysterious, a look so attractive that he would enchant them, and succeed even in stupefying your faithful captain, Reason, and reason would be conquered by instinct. Oh, foresee that fatal instant! A moment after, sorrow and repentance would be too late. A moment later you would see instinct with an infernal smile holding reason beneath its feet. A moment later you would no longer be able to think.

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And, taking you by the hand, that putrefying skeleton would make you its toy and decoy bird; you would be like the blind man guided by the hand of a jesting youth. Oh, you would be worse than he; he has lost only the light of the eyes, and you would have lost the light of reason, that which makes you superior to all beings which the transforming power develops on earth, that by which you think and glory in feeling. Elect souls, in passing, would look on you with an air of disdain, and would withdraw from you in disgust. Oh? you could no longer follow, nor hear their soft voices! Your hands are held, one by instinct, the other by crime; and all around you behold for companions vice and infamy and another throng of similar issue; and at the end of these you have Suicide with a dagger in one hand, poison in the other, gazing, with bloodshot eyes and hair standing on end from fright, now at the dagger, now at the bowl. And all these companions surround you, binding you with numerous chains, each of which ends at the same point, which is grasped by instinct, your sovereign conqueror. And you hear in the distance a sound as of a sigh or groan of a dying man; you hear a languid voice calling you; but that sound, that voice is far away; you have heard that voice, and it causes a shudder of horror to glide down your skin. It is the voice, it is the sound of expiring reason; it is the voice, it is the sound of your faithful soldiers dying on the deserted battlefield. How sad that voice is, how tremendous is that sound; it has ceased perhaps, but you will bear the echo always with you; always, even to the tomb. How wretched is the condition of the man who becomes a slave of passion, and pays for an instant of pleasure with inaction of mind and prostration of strength? He was burning with passion, his eyes were flames, he longed ardently for voluptuousness, the force of his imagination represented pleasure to him in its most attractive aspect. Reason reminded him of the repentance which follows the crime; represented to him the detriment of yielding to instinct. There was a momentary struggle – reason surrendered: the man abused the laws of nature, and made an end of that which


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was only a means; enjoyed an instant of pleasure, but this was short; it had scarcely vanished when he repented, reason was clouded, and remorse and sadness possessed his soul. The first made him feel the brevity of pleasure; and he was sad because the faculties were disturbed, and part of his being was detached from his ego and had diminished his essence. And the mind, perturbed, weakened, did not repose in the calm joy of existence, but was sad. The part gone forth from the body had impaired his corporeal being, rendering it restless and infirm. Oh, wretched the man who has diminished his essence, not to form a being similar to himself, but only to taste voluptuousness, which nature wishes to accompany generation! Oh, wretched the man who has ranked pleasure before glory, the consciousness of his own strength, and the esteem of men! God, who sees him, does not bless him; the men who hear him do not respect him.

These fragments of childish literature are faithfully transcribed from the diary of a youth, and will suffice to manifest the reaction of the individual who at the rising of the new sun of love protests against the rape of nature, and attempts in vain to fight against it. In the same pages we find a still more singular form of this reaction, which is felt more or less by all men born under the sun; it is an experiment at founding a science and a new art, Agnology (science of chastity), namely, the art of resisting love. I transcribe: Elements of Dogmatic Agnology 1. General definitions. Dogmatic agnology is that science which treats of chastity, considered as a physiological fact and applied to the civilization of individuals and nations. This is a science of the greatest importance, because it progresses equally with morality, and embraces the three worlds of sense, sentiment, and intelligence. Nature, all-powerful in its commands, compels man to surrender a part of his life with the seduction of the most violent sensual pleasure. In this illusion nature acts toward us like the mother who, in order to snatch a gold piece from her child’s hand, offers in exchange a confection.

These pages, taken from the great book of nature, are but the thousandth reproduction of a psychical phenomenon which is repeated in

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all men when they pass from the threshold of adolescence into the gardens of youth. A historical fact, together with a proverb, embodies this truth, in two great monuments: in the Council of Trent it was the youngest priests who voted for celibacy; and the French language has a proverb which says, Si jeunesse savait, si vieillesse pouvait!’ 61 Vote and proverb that merit a volume of meditations, and which find their origin in the deepest roots of the human heart. Exuberance of strength prepares us for the battle; but at the same time it leaves us calm and serene, because true force is always calm. A boaster is rarely strong, and the frequent mentioning of one’s own energy is generally a symptom of decadence and weakness. The sick person who fears death often says he feels much better, even before we interrogate him on the state of his health, and he endeavours to deceive himself and others concerning the danger that threatens him. The young man is always more timid in love than the adult and the aged; and this fact has so many and such mysterious causes, as to be verified also in many animals. The birds, among others, the older they are, the more economic are they of preliminaries in their amorous attainments.62 The young man, however he may be invaded by love, still trembles. He is a mature and sweet-scented fruit, but the rude contact of the gardener and of the shop have not deprived him of the pure colouring. He has renounced the useless and too unequal struggle against love and flung himself into its arms; but he still trembles when the currents of the god pass through his viscera and cause his nerves to vibrate. He is the priest initiated in the mysteries of the temple but who in the sanctum sanctorum still trembles, and a gentle, sublime timidity tempers in him the too virile expression of strength. We have before our eyes one of the most sublime pictures of the moral world: the acme of beauty without the affectation of pride, the maximum of strength without the shadow of convulsion; an ever active force, a serene but infinite energy; ready for the start, the work, the reaction. The physically well formed young man belongs entirely to love, and love is the property of youth. All the energies of sentiment, all the powers of thought take in that age the form of the sovereign affection, 61 If youth knew how, if old age could [Editor]. 62 Darwin, The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex [Author].


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which absorbs and draws everything into its hot and raging whirlpools. Whoever does not love at twenty is less than a eunuch, because even a eunuch can love; there is an amorous sterility which has its seat in the brain and in the heart, and which is more humiliating than any mutilation of organs and of functions. If, at twenty, a man does not encounter a woman in the social paths, he loves a painted or sculptured female, he loves the heroine of a romance or poem; and the young girl adores the angels that flap their wings against the bolster of her virginal couch. At twenty, one possesses the physical energy to love a hundred women, and even the most modest maiden finds in the air at every step a spark that darts from the contact of a man. Notwithstanding a gigantic and fruitful possibility of polygamy, man and woman are, in robust youth, essentially monogamous, and in their most foolish idolatries are still monotheists. One only god, one only temple, one religion alone. One must be born singularly perverse to be polygamous before the first steps in love, and the young woman who already loves more than one man at a time must have been conceived in a house of ill fame, kneaded with the blood and flesh of a bacchante. Against this virtuous, this energetic, this holy monogamy there rise on all sides most frightful obstacles; formidable adversaries are moving against it from every direction and opposing the first steps. Adam has found his Eve; Eve has seen her Adam; but between the embrace of these two lovers, how many enemies, how many barriers, how many abysses! Adam loves Eve; Eve loves Adam; what can be more simple, what affinity can be more intense, what affection more inexorable than their meeting? And yet before embracing each other the two unhappy creatures must ask the permission of prejudice, hypocrisy, conventionality, hygiene, morality, religion, above all, finance; and one in a hundred has the fortune to hear the answer ‘Yes’ from all these superior authorities, who have the right to veto their affection. The nightingale has seen and loved its modest companion; in the deep shadow of a mysterious alder he sang his tenderest song and inspired her with love. Today they sleep happy in their love, and tomorrow they will find pliant branches and downy moss to weave a nest for themselves; no need of civil matrimony, religious matrimony, financial matrimony. But woe to the man who trusts to nature to weave his nest! The tomorrow of his loves will be cursed by hunger; and scrofula and rickets

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will kill his children, born of a union which lacked the consent of finance. Further on we will study the tremendous contests of love with matrimony; here we must consider how the powerful youthful energy is bent and deformed at the sudden encounter of so many rocks and impediments. From the clash of two contrary forces there arises a decomposition of movements, a transformation of energies: thus, pure love, virginal and powerful, which, scarcely issued from the hot viscera of nature, finds the bristly porcupine of social impediments and is rudely dashed against them, foams and returns, dragging along with it a heap of pebbles, chips, and mud displaced by the furious clashing of so many forces and resistances. Would to fate that in that first shock love suffered nothing but sorrow! Tears have blessed thousands of loves and bathed them with a sweet lymph; very few have they killed. But in the dashing of first love against the cruel rock of social resistances, many new and cruel forces spring from the decomposition of the two contrary motions, and a thousand compromises of conscience stain even the swaddling clothes of newborn love, humiliating it with the shame of an original sin. The first transaction of the pure and enamoured youth whom society hinders from being monogamous is that of analysing love into sentiment and voluptuousness; he strives to keep his heart pure and to erect to it one temple only, while he sacrifices himself to lechery on the thousand altars of the roaming Venus. And still this decomposition of love seems to the most refined and virtuous lovers a very wise shrewdness, a miracle of art, the ideal of morality joined to the most urgent needs of the heart and senses; and after some skirmishing and lamenting, everyone adapts himself to this compromise of conscience and accommodates himself as in a badly made carriage, but in which one must be resigned to making a long journey. The most gentle, the most virtuous lovers are continually looking forward to the fortunate day when all hypocrisy will be cancelled, and physical and moral love united will give them the right to weave a nest in which sentiment and voluptuousness will keep faithful company. And in the meantime they go on between a reticence and a lie: the heart to the wife of another, the body to the house of prostitution. Young men who resign themselves too easily to this vile and turbid compromise of conscience are cruelly punished for their crime, since


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they are ignorant of the richest and most splendid treasures of youthful love. Do not lie, do not betray; do not seek your love in the mire, but in the skies: and then abandon yourselves heart and senses to the wave that bears you to paradise. Inhale all the perfumes, cull all the flowers from a garden into which an icy breeze never enters, and where for every petal that falls a hundred new corollas are blown. Be rich, be recklessly rich; be gods once, at least, in life: nature concedes even to the most miserable creature a day of spring, weaves a garland on the head of the most abject of men. Remember there is no iron safe in which an hour of sunlight can be enclosed, nor artifice of chemical art that can preserve a blooming rose. The fortunate young man who has not subjected love to the process of decomposition indicated by us, loves ardently, recklessly, nobly. His love is a sunny day in May, cloudless, joyous; it is a festival that knows neither weariness nor disillusion. He lives because he loves and he loves because he lives; he loves, loves, and loves, and thinks of nothing else; he neither weeps, foresees, fears, nor calculates; he loves, loves, and loves. He burns his incense to the goddess, but it is chaste and knows no lust; it is sometimes so pure as to cause the woman to blush who, having passed her thirtieth year, already loves too wisely. He neither measures nor weighs; and who has ever dared to calculate the force of a thunderbolt or the kilograms of an earthquake? And the loves of a young man are thunderbolts and earthquakes. He is not very jealous; he is less so, in any case, than the adult and the aged man: he is too confident, too happy to doubt; and besides, he has no time. The cruel calculations of suspicion and long and hidden observations require much time, and he has not any: he is too occupied. He must love; and he loves, loves, loves. His lips are wreathed in perpetual smiles; a ray of sunlight rests on his brow and gilds it with an aureole of bliss. Tomorrow for him does not exist, except under the form of a continuation of the happiness of today; the future is a prolonging of the desire of the present: he does not remember the past, and in good faith believes himself to have always loved his goddess, even when she was unknown to him. He believes in innate loves, as Rosmini believed in cognate ideas. Happy youth! If the young man is the most potent, the most ardent lover, the adult is the most skilful. The use and abuse of life have blunted the corners

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for him, and almost cooled off the flames of passion; but useless impatience, excessive timidity, the sudden bursting forth of desire present no obstacle to the blissful plenitude of his loves. He loves with shrewdness, passion, and finished art; he is a hundred times more lecherous than the young man, but he is also more delicate and richer in exquisite tastes which belong to the world of thought. The youthful lover is a naked and often ferocious savage; the adult lover is civilized from long experience and clothed with the blandishments of art. His most spontaneous sympathies are for unripe fruit, for the flowers still enclosed within the bristly calyx of innocence and ignorance; but he willingly loves the independent woman, the widow, and the mature female; he is essentially eclectic. His joys are scarcer than in youth, but they are more precious, because rendered more delicious by an economy almost touching on avarice. He knows that his hours are numbered. Rich in the past but poor in the future, he concentrates on the present all his care, patience, and attention. He is the most clever, the wisest teacher of love; and when health and freshness of heart are not lacking in him, he can awaken ardent and lasting passions. Woman is less apt than we to search for white hairs and to examine baptismal certificates; provided she feels herself loved deeply and ardently, she willingly forgets two or three lustra of age. In the love of the adult for the young woman there is always a benevolent and tender protection, an almost paternal affection, full of tenderness and generosity. This characteristic of mature love tends to deprive it of some of the hot and voluptuous expansions, to cool off the volcanic explosions of youthful love; but the paternal affection, which would easily tend to become authority and to destroy the perfect equality of the two lovers, is tempered by a deep and hidden diffidence in oneself. The young man asks for love on bended knee, but he knows he has legitimate rights; and often from the humble position of one begging alms, prostrated in the dust, he leaps to his feet, demanding with the force of beauty, genius, passion that which through humility he could not obtain. The mature man, on the contrary, has lost many rights, and requests with greater modesty, with a reserve full of grace and delicacy; he often implores with a tenderness so ardent and a tone so supplicating that it is difficult to deny him. The continual alternation of an


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authority that teaches and an authority that implores gives to adult love the most characteristic tint, the most salient mark. And when poor nature, medicated by art, has known how to attain love, the precious affection penetrates its roots into the deepest recesses of the heart. The adult has tenacious passions, and no one is more faithful in love than he; he is the best husband: and not only for the sake of egotism does the bridegroom seek a spouse a few years younger than himself. Man ages later, and two ignorant young people seldom unite in matrimony without exposing themselves to serious danger. The woman of thirty also loves with modesty, with deep tenderness, with religious fidelity, with avaricious sagacity. If I were permitted to express an audacious desire, I would like to love a young girl and be loved by a mature woman, who was beginning to need the shades of evening and less glaring lights. The man who is aging is a trunk on which every day a branch withers, and every gust of wind detaches a handful of yellow leaves. When the entire tree is dead, then upon the ruins of love rises an implacable hatred for those who love and are loved, and the cruel domestic inquisitions, a posthumous and ridiculous ostentation of forced continence or of mummified modesty poison the existence of the intolerant old man, who avenges himself upon the young for his misfortune in no longer being able to love. It is an inexorable law which condemns those old fellows to the mystic meditations of the sacristy, since in all times and in all countries the last spark of lust serves to kindle the choleric light on the altar of superstition. Unhappy indeed is the poor young girl who confides the story of her first love to a peevish and bigoted old woman, who considers love a synonym for lechery and in affection sees only the sin. The deformity of a Chinese foot is less monstrous and less cruel than the forced contortion which a youthful love must undergo in the clutches of intolerant bigotry. Man, however, is a tree so robust and vigorous that it rarely dies all at once, and in the old man there often remains solid the branch of lechery only. It is then that the economy of the adult becomes true avarice, lust becomes wantonness, and love takes unheard-of forms. The lechery of the old man, warmed in the hotbed of the aphrodisiac and by the burning, stifling air of vice, is like a mushroom fabricated by the fetid

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artifices of horticulture, and bears fruits which smell in the distance of the manure in which they were raised. We cannot give the name of love to these lusts; it would be more appropriate to baptize them erotic illicit trading and the prostitution of innocence to the calculations of the probability of life or of near heredity. And yet some so-called potent lovers carry into extreme decrepitude phantom desires, and like eels they go on rubbing their slimy paunches in the hot mire of the lowest social depths, and until the last sigh they unleaf with their wasted hands the rose bushes, or at fabulous prices purchase an ‘I love you’ chillier than the snow and more deceitful than a Jesuit. The man of high type can also love until advanced age; but then, lechery spent, every right of attainment abdicated, love is elevated to the highest spheres of the ideal world and becomes a sublime contemplation of feminine beauty. Before the maiden and heroic greatness of Joan of Arc or before the succulent sensuality of Barzaghi’s Phryne;63 at the lively prattle of a girl of fourteen or at the side of a calm, plump matron, even the venerable old man feels himself affected; and perhaps, under the childlike or compassionate caresses of a woman, he feels his eye moisten, and he invokes, if a believer, the benedictions of Heaven on the more beautiful half of the human family. If even the old man can love woman, the old woman can also love the young man; but their love should be a serene contemplation of the beautiful, the suave reminder of joys possessed for a long time and ardent aspirations to an ideal ever loved because never attained. Also, the hoary old man, without offending the modesty of her who cannot be his, can caress with paternal affection the hair of Eve, can in her adore the most splendid manifestation of the aesthetic forces of nature, can again warm his cold fancy at the ardent fire of others’ loves; and, without envying them, can say with sweet complacency: ‘I too have done my duty; do yours now. I also have loved without sowing the seeds of remorse; try to follow my example!’

63 An 1863 sculpture by Francesco Barzaghi representing the Greek courtesan Phryne. See p. 206 n53 [Editor].

Chapter 17

Love in the Temperaments – Different Ways of Loving I shall not repeat in these pages for the hundredth time the criticism of the temperaments as defined by the ancient schools, and which I have expounded in many of my works. My method of classification has not been universally adopted, but all agree with me in the belief that the temperaments have had their day, and that hygiene, medicine, psychology await from the progress of modern physiology the elements to define, as science requires it, the physical and moral characteristics of an individual. Against this impotency of the physiology of today I have protested, changing the name ‘temperament’ to that of ‘individual constitution’; innocent revenge of all men who, powerless to alter the nature of a thing, satisfy their rage by changing its name. Every man loves in his own way, and as to love we bring the greatest possible tribute of psychical elements, it follows that human loves differ among themselves more than hatreds, more than the manner of eating, motion, etc. The lower we descend from the branches to the trunk, the more human elements resemble each other; the higher we mount to the loftiest branches, the more the elements diverge and differ. Ask a demimondaine or a Don Juan how many are the methods of loving, and both will not only answer that everyone loves in a different manner, but add that the ways are so intensely unlike that it is repugnant to call all the varied forms of loving by the baptismal name of the same sentiment. It is true that some authors have amused themselves by describing a ‘sanguine love,’ a ‘nervous love,’ a ‘lymphatic love,’ a ‘hepatic love’; but these pictures are innocent pastimes, arabesques traced on the epidermis of human nature; and the schools of psychology and literature, which succeed each other, cancel these arabesques so that not the least

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trace of them remains. Even when, instead of the caricatures of the temperaments, we should chance to succeed in distinguishing a true family of human constitutions, it would still be very difficult for all the forms of love to enter. The thousands and thousands of tesserae of the Roman mosaics suffice to classify the innumerable tints that a practised eye succeeds in discerning; but who will give me a palette so gigantic that I may be able to extend all the polychromic impasting, all the simple and compound colours, all the proteiform iridescence that human light presents in passing through the powerful prism of love? Take even the largest dictionary of the richest language in the world; search for all the adjectives from A to Z, and you will find that all these treasures of language are not sufficient to cover the many forms of love. It is for this reason, perhaps, that some, too deeply enamoured of the study of assimilated physiology, die before they have been able to subject to the experimental criterion all the adjectives that can baptize love. The question as to the quantity of love an individual may feel is the easiest to solve; but it is also one of the most important. In every psychological problem there is an element of quantity; and as it is the most simple and most apparent, I would almost say the skeleton of the phenomenon, it is expedient to grasp it eagerly as a conducting wire which guides us through the labyrinth of these studies. Many men, as well as those of exalted minds and gentle hearts, have asked themselves seriously and frequently if they were capable of loving, because they were unacquainted with all that world of mystery and passion which they found described in many books and by the enthusiastic voice of some enamoured friends. My book, although a purely physiological study, may seem to them an exaggeration, a caricature of the natural. Now then, these are weak and insignificant lovers. For them, love is an intermittent pruriency that begins at eighteen and ends at forty or, at the latest, fifty; pruriency between the pleasing and the troublesome, and which morally can be cured only by one medicine alone – woman. This medicine, they say, is sometimes worse than the evil, and it is well to reflect long and maturely in order to decide if they should prefer that pruriency which the poets call ‘love’ or that other weighty burden termed by naturalists ‘the female of man’ and by polished vocabularies


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‘woman.’ When these eunuchs of the sentiment of love prefer woman, they may find that this animated object, so like ourselves, is also tolerably pleasing and sympathetic, and tender habit of benevolence binds them to this companion whom they truly love, in their own way of course, calmly, prudently, gently. These unhappy creatures have reason to ask themselves if what they feel is love, and to inquire of true lovers, ‘But tell me; will you explain to me what is this love?’ The moon emanates heat, the frog develops heat; well then, these gentlemen also love. Peaceful love, faint or cold love (call it what you will) does not belong exclusively to the male; it also presents its most perfect, but rarest, forms in woman. Man, however weak a lover he may be, cannot renounce the mission of sex which constrains him to attack, assault, declare the war that must lead him to conquest. Woman, on the contrary, if she is a born eunuch, need not combat the companion in any way; she can, if she will, relinquish the labour of directing her gaze toward her lover and of opening her lips to say a yes; to let herself be loved is enough! What lymphatic delights in these few words! To let herself be loved; to leave to others every labour of conquered timidity, of violated modesty; all strategy and tactics of moral violence; to resign to others all the work, to reserve for herself only the voluptuousness of leaving the gate ajar or letting others open it. To let herself be loved! What aesthetic, angelic bliss, what voluptuousness of soft, wavy motions, of carnal pruriency, what wonderful gentle heat of sweet caresses! And then no responsibility for the future of a passion which is never confessed; no storm; a tranquil lake without ebb and flow. And should the larded heart permit itself the liberty of a restless throb, there is instantly a cataplasm of cooked figs to bring it back to duty; modesty to justify the perennial ice; and virtue to warrant the absence of aroma. Oh, why can we not reduce love to a problem of hygiene and régime? From this zero of the amatory scale we rise by degrees to the maximum gradations of the pyrometer, where each metal is blended and volatilized, and the entire human organism is transformed into a red and ardent vapour that burns everything it touches. There are tremendous lovers, who have loved before they were men, who will love also when they have lost their manhood; there are women who have loved, perhaps, since they were enclosed in the maternal womb, and will love even

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the undertaker who will nail up in the cold casket their prurient flesh; there are men and women in whom every affection takes a sensual form, and love absorbs them like a sponge born, grown, and decayed in the saline depths of a tropical sea. Having neither time nor patience to wait, they love the first come and yield them affection and fancy; then, discouraged but not wearied, they love again the next come, and always loving more than they are loved in return, their thirst remains unsatisfied forever; happy when they succeed, at rare intervals, in contenting themselves with successive loves; but oftener they precipitate quickly into contemporaneous polygamy, where through sophism, reticence, and compromise with conscience they love the one with the heart, the other with the mind, and all of them with the senses. They have a first love, an only love, a true love; but very frequently they forget the name, and with it they baptize too many different lovers, and like the polyps they extend their hundred eager and monopolizing arms in the hot, succulent flesh of the feminine cosmos. Among these polygamists there are some who love only with the heart, others solely with the senses; while to a few giants nature concedes the sad gift of a twofold thirst for affection and voluptuousness. Between these two poles, which mark the extreme measure of amatory intensity, agitate the innumerable masses of men who are neither Don Juans nor Hebrew Josephs; the numberless women who resemble neither Messalina64 nor Joan of Arc. Besides the varied force of amorous needs, the sentiment which we are studying together assumes different characters, according to the passion which is most energetic in the individual and which gives to love a mark, proud, humble, egotistical, vain, furious, jealous, etc. And around these binary compounds of love and pride, of love and egotism, of love and vanity, there are grouped many other minor elements, which with less energetic affinity result in forming a homogeneous whole; this might be called a ‘temperament of love’ or a ‘constitutional form of love.’ I will try to sketch some taken from truth.

64 Valeria Messalina, third wife of the Roman emperor Claudius, notorious for her cruelty, lust, and thirst for power [Editor].


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Tender love. – This is a love with shaded outlines and few reliefs, and is felt more frequently by men of mild and gentle character. Emotion surprises them at the slightest cause, tears are always ready to gush forth at the first impetuosity of joy and of sorrow; a perennial compassion and an inexhaustible tenderness drown all declarations of love, warmth of voluptuousness, and outbursts of affection in a sweet sea of milk and honey. Tender love is suppliant, sad, and faithful; at times it touches the boundaries of sensual love, but never enters there with swelling sails. It is a love that is often constant, almost as immutable as an old and serene friendship; it leads, however, only too frequently to sighs, groans, and tears. It has, nevertheless, stupendous expansions which, however interminable they may be, are fruitful of intense joy and sweet comfort, and dispose us to universal benevolence, to philanthropy, and to pardoning offences. It is a Christian, evangelical love that prefers the caress to the kiss, and lingering kisses to the instantaneous battle. Its most aesthetic forms are found in woman, to whom we readily pardon a certain weakness, and who can even faint without falling into ridicule. Blondes of fine and rosy skin love in this way, as well as Germans and the scrofulous. Contemplative love. – A high aesthetic sense, an irresistible tendency to inertia, and few genital wants constitute the soil in which bud and thrive the various forms of contemplative love. It is a sublime love, too sublime; it has something of the mystic and supernatural; the lover places his idol very high and prostrates himself before it, lavishing upon it adoration and incense. Contemplative love is situated in the anterior lobes of the brain; it moves but slightly the hollow depths of the heart and scarcely skims over the hot wave of voluptuousness; it lives on ecstasies and meditations, and, making of the beloved creature a god or a goddess, forgets too frequently that in the god there is enclosed a male, and in the goddess a human female. This sublime forgetfulness makes this love more horned than is supposed, because nature can be neither forgotten nor offended with impunity; and while one adores and contemplates in the temple, warlike and rapacious love profanes the tabernacle and carries off the god. Contemplative love lives on the frontiers of pathology and belongs properly to Arcadians, the hysteric, and the mystic. Disillusioned and betrayed, they accuse love of simony and falsehood, when they themselves are the cause of their sorrows and disappointments.

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Sensual love. – It is one of the most ardent, most inebriating, most tenacious of loves, because it springs from the most fruitful and spontaneous source of sensual affections. It is the most sincere and powerful love, because it satisfies one of the most natural and irresistible needs of man; but it rests on a mobile soil – beauty; and its ardours are indicated by too deep a note – desire. It does not deceive; it does not don the hundred garments of amorous hypocrisy, but it is nude, entirely nude, and often modest in its nudity. Brazen or tender, insatiable or satisfied, rash even to insolence, it is, however, always what it is: the tremendous attraction of two great and opposite organic units; a burning thirst that seeks the fresh water of the Alpine spring; the vigorous clash of the two most gigantic forces in the world. From voluptuousness to voluptuousness – if youthful strength does not accompany it – it generally descends to lasciviousness, where it sinks with each day that passes and each force that declines, and down, down it plunges into the filthiest mire of domestic lechery or of the wandering Venus. It is a love inexhaustible in discoveries and inventions, indefatigable in voluptuousness; it is also a sublime artist, and presents to our view warm and fascinating tints. Born in the lowest depths of the animal man, it rarely rises to the high spheres of the ideal, and knows neither dignity, delicacy, nor heroism; on the contrary, it is often suppliant even to baseness, impure even to nausea. It accepts also a bone to gnaw, just as it accepts voluptuousness without love. It is of no consequence to it whether voluptuousness is reached by the sole moral course of love, but it seeks it by all possible means; and it conquers, steals, buys love: goes even so far as to borrow and forge it. Provided the insatiable pruriency be appeased, sensual love acts as mediator to the loves of others, becomes usurer, thief, and forger with the same indifference. This love is generally masculine: in women even licentiousness always throws over itself a splendid garment of sentiment, and in it hides its insolent nudity. Ferocious love. – Perhaps the word which baptizes this love is too conspicuous; but in painting a psychical portrait one is irresistibly inclined to exaggerate the tints and outlines, and make it more salient than truth. A great development of the sense of ownership joined to a certain impetuosity of character is the most natural source of all those violent loves which I embrace under the common name of ‘ferocious love.’ Its


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birth resembles the eruption of a volcano, and so many storms accompany it that one would suppose a hatred had come to light instead of a love. And this fault of origin accompanies it through life and ends only with death; you see these ferocious loves giving certain kisses that seem bites, and certain embraces that resemble homicides; and you behold them tyrants without jealousy, furious without anger; insatiable even after possession, because voluptuousness does not calm nor fidelity always satisfy them. Ferocious love, in all the sublime greatness of its forces, resembles the conquering Venus. If politeness and the patient file of education do not succeed in rounding the angles, this love often becomes surly and also brutal. Such must have been the love of our remote ancestors of the caves and mountains, who, continually bathed in the blood of the chase and of war, imbrued their hands with blood in order to love, woman also being the prey of the strongest and most audacious. As it is easy to divine, it is generally man who loves ferociously; but woman likewise occasionally feels this cruel form of love; and the more devoted she is to her lover, the more she torments him, and the deeper she penetrates the talons of passion into the depths of the viscera, to feel the heat, and to be able to say with voluptuous fury, ‘These too are mine.’ Proud love. – It is a binary compound of one part love and ten equivalents of selfishness. When proud love is satisfied, when it is in all the pomp of its bliss, it can present the appearance of a pure, great, sublime love; but selfishness scarcely stings when it foams, and puffs up like a snail or a basilisk, and exhibits in all its ugly bareness the dual nature of its energy. Even in the few moments in which this affection is wholly contented, it never manifests the same, never abandons itself to an unreserved confession of bliss; for the same reason that the rustic never acknowledges that he admires new and great things. Proud love occupies itself much more with being loved than loving; speaks always of rights and often ignores duties; it is full of requirements and has little consideration; it goes wheeling round and round if fortunate, and murmurs at the slightest suspicion; it is the most jealous of loves and among the most unhappy, the poorest in sweet abandonment and ingenuous voluptuousness. Even in the most secret intimacy it never unbosoms itself, for fear of ridicule or of spoiling some fold of the ancient military cloak in which it is wrapped: it is never the first to give the caress, but awaits it as a right and a duty; it is a love

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which in order to be approached requires much consideration, much etiquette, and many ceremonies, that tire quickly and frequently disgust. It exacts fidelity, not as an agreeable reciprocation of affection but as a right of its own dignity, and pardons readily the sins which the world ignores: it is a sterile, dry, sickly love. Excoriated love. – The sources of this form of love are often confounded with the preceding; but it is more unhappy still and belongs by full right to the pathology of the heart. It is a love that can be sincere, tender, and passionate; but it is so irritable that a mosquito annoys it and a pebble between the toes causes it to cry out, ‘Misfortune and treachery!’ like the ancient Epicurean who could not sleep unless he had a folded rose petal under his back. It also seeks, like all human affections, the goal of its aspirations, but never reaches it, because suspicion, susceptibility, and fear arrest them at every step, cut off the word from their lips, withdraw the arms in the embrace, extinguish the flame when scarcely lighted. I compare this affection to a St Bartholomew who was obliged to walk among brambles and over pointed rocks; for this reason I have given the strange and new baptism of ‘excoriated love’; the French would call it un amour mauvais coucheur.65 It is perhaps the most wretched of loves, because besides the natural and inevitable misfortunes which happen to every daughter of Eve and every son of Adam, it creates some for itself and enlarges them with the lens of the most unhappy fancy. Excoriated love is a fatal alembic which transforms rose petals into nettle, honey into wormwood, perfume into fetidness, nutriment into poison. If kissed, it murmurs because the kiss was too violent or too cold: if caressed, it asks of itself if the caress did not have a second end in view; even in the raptures of creation, it asks of the creator why he made the light so soon or so late. Whoever is loved by these unfortunate creatures has always the right to repeat to them the words of the courtesan of Venice to the unhappy and foolish philosopher of Geneva: ‘Zaneto, Zaneto, ti non ti xe fato per far a l’amor!’66 And yet these unfortunates love and love deeply, and it is the

65 A love with a bad personality [Editor]. 66 Zaneto, Zaneto, you were not born to make love. From an episode narrated in the autobiographical writings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau (‘Zaneto’ means ‘Little Jean’ in Venetian dialect). While in St Mark’s Square, Rousseau was approached by a man who told him to put women aside and turn his thoughts to mathematics [Editor].


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enviable glory of powerful lovers to cure and conquer them, even to make them confess that at least once in life they were truly, faithfully, and passionately loved. It is one of the most admirable triumphs of amatory art to find a tissue so fine that can touch the excoriated skin of these poor unfortunates, and to fabricate for them an artificial atmosphere, in which they can move without lamenting, breathe without coughing, and live without cursing life. These forms of love, which I have poorly outlined, are rarely found in nature in a simple state, but are complicated and interwoven among themselves, forming a thousand pictures; a real mine of resources for art, a treasure of torments for the psychological thinker. No man loves like another, and no man loves perfectly, as the type of a sublime love can be idealized in the thinking regions of our brain. To the perfect harmony of one love there is lacking a note of sensuality, to another a tone of energy; one love is too restless, another too languid, a third too violent. And even the most fortunate, those that have in themselves a just measure of voluptuousness, sentiment, and poetry; even those who know they are loved passionately and faithfully aspire to a love more perfect than that which they feel, and better than what they receive; and when this thirst for the ideal does not lead us to violate the compacts of fidelity, there is nothing to regret, because love too is subject to the common law of aspiring always to purer regions, richer in splendours and most fervent in desires. At the dawn of day love awaits the promise of a hot noon, and in the burning sultriness, longs for the fresh twilight of the evening; love is also led by that impulse which impels forward men and things, matter and force, and the bliss of today awaits a more intense voluptuousness for tomorrow. If this insatiable thirst for better things should cease in us, it would be because in us life is spent; if the irresistible longing for a higher love should cease, it would be because to us, as to the blind, are closed all at once the regions of the ideal, there where all the infinite targets are reunited at which the glances and arrows of the human family are aimed.

Chapter 18

The Hell of Love

Pain, so rich in tortures, which in its varieties is as infinite as the grains of sand in the ocean, as deep as its abysses, has also allotted its greatest bitterness, its most cruel torments to love. And so it should be: the deepest passion should precipitate into the lowest depths; the passion richest in joys should be the most fecund in sorrows. From the passing breeze of a suspicion more rapid than the lightning flash, frailer than the word written in the soft sand of the seashore, to the conscience most certain of an unexpected betrayal; from the impatience of him who awaits a beloved person, to the prolonged desperation of him who can no longer expect her, love indicates all the notes of torture, all the torments of the senses and all the pangs of sentiment. In the long path through which the human family passes on this planet, among the bones they scatter daily, very many are left by love and suicide; homicide and madness reckon in their cemeteries and hospitals a much greater number of victims than is noted in the great statistics of our sociologists. All this, of course, pertains to those who love not only with the senses but also with the heart and mind. He who considers love a question of régime and hygiene recovers quickly from the loss of the lover with a little tear and a new conquest; cures betrayal with betrayal, and with licentiousness heals every malady of the heart, and in it stifles every sorrow. I certainly have neither the strength nor the courage to accompany the reader into the depths of the amorous hell. If you have already passed the thirtieth year, you must surely have among the reminders of your past some half-hour of desperation and some sleepless night, which terrify you at the mere remembrance; you must have suffered certain torments, compared to which Dante’s dark depths can seem to you blooming flower beds, and you must imagine that nature rarely torments a man with all the tortures of amorous passion. In human nature


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some sorrows render the heart incapable of suffering certain others, and the furious rage of a jealous passion arms us against the bitter sigh of a generous sorrow, as the chaste reserve of a modest nature cuts off the possibility of suffering the ardent thirst for certain pleasures. You will tell me, perhaps, that with these oppositions and these incompatibilities of suffering, Providence kindly cures some of the most cruel sorrows, and I brutally reply that, without appealing to Providence, I believe a lion cannot be at the same time a viper, nor a sphere a prison: a thing cannot be all at once gall and arsenic. If you wish to open ever so little the door of this hell, if you would sound the abysses with a fleeting glance, imagine on the one hand all the hopes, all the voluptuousness, all the riches of love, and on the other all the fears, all the bitterness, all the miseries that correspond. And after this cruel description, you will not have ended yet, because the fields of suffering are a hundred times larger than those where joy is sown. The physical possession of a woman is one alone, the tortures of having the fruit before one and not being able to touch it are thousands; and this example will suffice for all. Thus, as the antithesis of life is death, so in its presence all the arrows of our pride are blunted, all our hopes are broken, all our joys interrupted. In the delirium of passion and pride we repeat hundreds of times, ‘Better dead than belong to another – a thousand times buried, but not unfaithful.’ And frequently the man who utters this blasphemy, with livid lips and hair standing on end, imbues his hands in the viscera of a victim. Folly and delirium! Hurricanes of the heart where love and hate, pride and love, crimes and tortures contend and blend in the tumult of a dreadful storm. But true love, infinite love which transforms man, ideal love that few feel and see dimly through the glimmering of a supersensible to which their hands cannot reach, recognizes no greater torture than the death of the beloved. Yes, let indifference, contempt, hatred, betrayal all come, provided the dear one lives. Let others possess this creature whom we have believed to be ours, into whose veins we have poured our blood; let this temple, which we have adorned with our flowers, perfumed with the incense of our thoughts, with the lingering love of our passions, become the church of another god; let our flowers be trampled upon, our crowns broken, ourselves chased away by the

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broom of the brutal sacristan; but let the god live who sojourns there, and on the altar shine the idol of our life! Reviled as a fugitive, despised as a guilty creature, vituperated as a spy, in the cold and distant solitude we drink drop by drop a bottomless chalice of gall, and in which every drop is more bitter than the other; but we know that she breathes the air of the same planet that we inhabit; we know that she is elated by the same sun that warms us; we know that among the infinite shadows that wander through invisible space there is a creature around whom the air grows more bracing and the light brighter; that there are certain sods of earth which bend under the weight of a body that we love. No, as long as the beloved one lives, hope does not pluck off all its feathers, and in the far-away, more impalpable than a dream, more invisible than heavenly space, more inconceivable than eternity, she still flutters on our horizon; she still lives and keeps us alive. But when we still have the baseness to live, to breathe, to eat, and she is shut up in the humid miasma of a wooden box; when everybody exists and she is dead; when the joy of a thousand flowers that open to every ray of light, the chirping of a thousand birds that sing of love, the choruses of the fortunate who embrace, and the benedictions of so many happy creatures make a cornice over a void all ice, all darkness; when we remain suspended between an infinity of joy that was ours and an infinity of sorrow that is ours, and will be as long as we have the baseness to live; then we regard suicide as the supreme joy of life, as the most sublime human pride; then we understand how man in a flash can dream of the great voluptuousness of mingling his bones with those of another creature; then we can understand how fancy can smile at the idea of the embrace of two skeletons, at the fusion of two heaps of ashes, at the resurrection of two spent existences in the perfume of two flowers grown upon a human grave and which the caressing wind brings together so that they kiss again. In the silence of the cemeteries, there are those flowers that kiss, to which perhaps responds under the earth the quivering of certain bones; there are certain lips on our planet, which are closely pressed one day, which death cruelly disunites, and a second death joins once and forever. And when one survives it is because a new organism is created in us, and today we are no longer what we were yesterday. The thoughts of


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the past, the members of the past, all that we were yesterday is dead and forever; from the seared trunk of our existence, science, duty, friendship, paternal, maternal, or filial love cause a new branch to shoot forth, which reproduces the ancient plant; and the passeby, seeing the same leaves, the same flowers, the same fruits, believes that only one corpse has been buried – but he is mistaken. We can survive certain sorrows in one way alone – accomplishing the miracle of dying today to be born anew tomorrow with the same name, but with a new life. And for the honour of human nature these survivors remain faithful and silent priests of the retired god, similar to those Peruvians who, on the summits of the Andes, among the eternal frosts of the Sorata, still render homage to the god of their fathers. To understand certain sorrows is the mark of a lofty mind; to experience them is a martyr’s glory which refines and ennobles us. I am very sure that many who weep for love or because they are not loved in return, because they fear betrayal or have already been deceived, or because they suffer the bitter disillusion of having burned their incense to an idol of clay or a statue of marble, will find my description exaggerated, which nevertheless is a pallid picture of a sorrow that pen of man will never be able to portray faithfully, but will succeed only in divining from afar. Many think that death, the absolute evil, in the presence of which perishes every hope, is preferable to the torture that threatens life yet does not destroy it. To these gentlemen I wish that from their own experience they may never have occasion to make the cruel comparison, the assimilated anatomy of two great sorrows, one of which is termed death, the other desperation. If they truly love, may they die before the beloved one! This is the sweetest blessing that I can offer them from the pages of my book. Love is a passion so fervent, so deep, that it is not to be wondered at should it have sudden convulsions and instantaneous swoons. Accustomed to dwell in lofty regions, to feed only on extreme voluptuousness, to vibrate with the highest notes of sentiment and the delirium of the senses, it can be seized all at once, when it least expects it, by unreasonable fears, foolish suspicions, inexplicable restlessness. I do not intend

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to speak of diffidence, jealousy, nausea, weary licentiousness, or bitter disillusions, but of a vague and shapeless cloud which invades the heart that is languid from having felt too deeply, and congeals the nerves exhausted from excessive quivering. It is a confused hysteria, which from a slight indisposition can reach the maximum grades of deep bitterness. An immense love, from whatever source of the heart it gushes forth, is always followed by a shadow of intense fear. You adore your child; you have left him for five minutes in the flower bed of your garden, intent on filling his little cart with sand; he was fresh and rosy as the flowers near him; he was bright as the sun that gilded his curling locks. Now then, seated at your table, you wish to call him, I know not why, perhaps to hear the sweet sound of his silvery voice; and he does not answer; you call him once more, and again silence. He is wholly intent on his wagon; but you, running in a few seconds through a thousand miles of thought, have imagined he is dead, that a snake has bitten him, that he has fainted – who knows what you thought – and with throbbing heart and perspiring skin you fear to rise, in order to defer a moment the spectacle of a cruel loss. Of these and other follies we are given a sad and daily spectacle by that love of loves, which alone was called by this name, the prince and god of all the amorous sentiments. Today he kissed me distractedly – he thought of someone else. His love begins to grow cold; he is already tired of me; he tolerates me because he has not the courage to tell me that he no longer loves me. I am too happy, and bliss cannot last. My heart tells me that some dreadful misfortune awaits me – I know not what, but our love cannot live much longer in such happiness – I feel like weeping. He did not notice that I wore in my hair a geranium, his favourite flower; he no longer loves me. She is not as lovely by day as by night; perhaps, perhaps – But why do I make this observation? Is it a sign that she does not please me sufficiently? A first impression fascinated me. Will I always love her?


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My God! She coughed; is she ill? Her aunt died of consumption – she is very delicate; and if she should die? Do I love him enough? Do I adore him according to his merits? Am I worthy of him? Can I preserve for myself the love of such a handsome, intelligent, and good man? Today he came to our rendezvous just at the hour appointed, while formerly he always arrived before the time. He was displeased when I remarked it to him. He showed me his watch; it was slow. On the contrary, he should have been proud of my observation and answered more graciously. He does not love me enough. I content myself looking at him; I feel happy when he holds my two hands clasped in his; but he always wants kisses and is never satisfied. He loves me because I am young and beautiful: he loves me with the senses and not with the heart. Ah! all men are alike! Why did he say he could not? Is there anything impossible in love? Is there something of greater value than a desire of mine? But then this is not love! He never perceives that I have changed a gown or a ribbon, and I, on the contrary, always know the colour of his cravats; I immediately notice if he has tied the knot before the mirror. He does not observe me enough; I do many things for him which he never senses. But then he does not love me! I have always heard that love is the supreme joy of life: I love and am loved; and yet I often weep and know not why. But then?

These are some of the thousand querulous voices which rise spontaneously from the heart of a lover; but they are not the most unreasonable or the most sorrowful. Neither the most patient and prolonged observation of human phenomena nor the most lively fancy could enable us to divine all the trifling torments that lovers inflict upon themselves, perhaps to obey that cruel law which, according to some people, wills that no one should be happy on our planet.

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In this field of evil, temperament is everything; there are some to whom may be applied the phrase of Linnaeus concerning the loves of the cat: Clamando misere amat.67 For these unfortunates (I have already described them) love is tinged with so much bitterness, surrounded by so many thorns, that it truly resembles a brambled meadow all thistles and wormwood. Suspicious, melancholy, it fears and examines all things; passes them through the filter, pulverizes them to find the mite or the poison. In the kiss they seek ice, in the caress indifference; of the hurricanes of love they appreciate only the damages. And then even the little honey that love has for all, they wish guarded in so many tabernacles and under so many seals that they are fortunate if they succeed in finding and testing it! From a jealous lamentation they fall into a hysterical soliloquy, and, scarcely issued forth from a gloomy meditation on the infidelity of man, they fall back like a thunderbolt into the autopsy of a love letter. These creatures are certainly born unlucky, and even if nature would make them a gift of a Venus clothed with the Graces, and of an Apollo with the brain of a Jupiter, they would still be always unhappy, because the bitterness is on their lips and not in the goblet of love. Terque quaterque 68 unfortunate! On their tomb they engrave the story of their torment: Clamando misere amavit. There is perhaps no greater torture than that which obliges a human creature to submit to the caresses of one whom she does not love. And I do not wish to speak of brutal violence that brings the embrace near to homicide, I relegate it to the criminal code: in this case we have on one side a human beast that strikes, bites, sheds the blood of a poor creature who swoons away with terror or struggles powerlessly in the clutches of a tiger: they are sorrows which belong to the story of terror, to the bloodiest pages of supreme tortures. I intend to mention here the caresses that you must accord to a man, because the law, money, or a surprise of the senses has sold you to him without your having loved him; I intend to speak of that bitter, secret torture, deep as infinity and which brings the prostitute very near to the martyr.

67 He loves complaining miserably [Editor]. 68 Three and four times [Editor].


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These sorrows, among the greatest that the human heart can suffer, were reserved by a cruel nature almost exclusively to woman. Man, by the special nature of his aggressive sex, must be urged on to the embrace by an instantaneous enthusiasm, he must be clouded by a deep lust. In him voluptuousness can do without love; in him physical love has a joy that suffices to kindly conceal all that is lacking in him of sentiment and passion. For if indifference, hatred, contempt absorb him entirely, invading even the last entrenchments of love, then there is no caress that can revive him, no law human or divine that can impose upon him a caress which is repugnant. There is no case in which the ancient theory of free arbitration shows its ridiculous falsity as in this. But woman can be all ice, can feel cold shivers of loathing and nausea pervading her entire body; woman can hate even to the desire of death, can despise even to abhorrence a man who is beside her; and yet she can in many cases (in many others she must) submit to the caress. She, cold as ice, with regret in her heart, hatred on her lips, beholds the ardour of another, who burns but does not warm her; she sees the sublime enthusiasm, and for her it is but the height of ridicule; she sees passion, and finds it only grotesque; she sees impetuosity, and for her it is merely violence; of love, with its flashes, its light, its perfumes, she sees, smells, touches only a brutal force which abases, prostitutes, and defiles her; an endless shivering in a sea of nausea! When woman is in the mire through her own fault she certainly could not be more cruelly punished. The immensity of prostitution is avenged with numberless outrages; the holiest thing is plunged down, down into the most fetid mire; the greatest joy is substituted by the greatest shame. But when, on the contrary, the daughter of Eve is brought to this sacrifice of the body by the tyranny of the laws, by the perverse guiding of the moral education; when she finds herself led to that cruel misfortune through ignorance or through the fault of others; oh, then, if she does not yet possess the scepticism that heals the heart or the cynicism that arms it, if she still knows what modesty is, if she still remembers love’s pulsations, oh, then, that poor woman drinks drop by drop the most cruel torture that any creature can endure; then she passes through a long and cruel agony.

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To have dreamed for years and years of the promised land of love, to have reached it through the reveries of childhood and of the rosy dawn of adolescence; to have had an immense, a horrible fear of dying before having loved; to have loved and to love, to feel a volcano in the heart, to be at the gates of paradise and through a portal ajar to inhale the inebriating perfumes, and then, after all this, to behold oneself transformed into a vessel which satisfies the thirst, to feel in the viscera a roaring beast, to be obliged to perform the functions of a purgative, to take part in the régime of a man, like magnesia or leeches – truly this is a torture more cruel than any the inquisitors ever invented; it is really too great a sorrow for one weak creature! And in fact, besides a boundless cynicism that with the pulsations of the embrace counts the money, and a blessed and stupid thoughtlessness which in love sees but a pleasing diversion, there is only a supreme counsel of duty that can make of woman a martyr, that can force a human heart to accept so much torture. How many volumes of meditations, how many abysses of desperation fall in a few seconds upon the head of a woman caressed by a man whom she does not love! How much eloquence in certain periods of silence, which Ovid, the libertine, eagerly advised women to avoid! Many a time a man presses to his breast a creature whom he does not love, whom he prostitutes too thoughtlessly, while the victim meditates a long and cruel revenge. More than one adultery, more than one assassination have been thought of, discussed, sworn to in that instant, in which man, enjoying the supreme bliss, believed himself to have in his arms a happy creature. Many an embrace is the father of twins, generating a new man and a new hatred: a hatred tenacious and bitter, which only the death of the one who hates can cancel, since it often survives the death of the person hated. O men, who in love see only a chalice to empty, and in matrimony find only an association of two capitals or a mechanism for reproducing the species, remember that for many creatures love is the first and the last of passions, the first and the last of joys; and remember that for very many women, whom you care nothing about, whom perhaps you despise, love is life.


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There is no man born weak or sickly who cannot become robust when he enjoys the climate, food, and physical and moral atmosphere that agree with him. And I believe the same is true of love. If we could dedicate half a century to the search for the right woman, and if to Diogenes’s lamp69 there could be adapted the electric light which modern science concedes to us, certainly among the millions of men who walk the earth we could and should be able to find the one who would be happy with us and make us happy. Unfortunately, life is too short, and love is too rapid and exacting in its desires, to render such a research possible, and even to the most fortunate and wisest, a part of happiness is always among the unknown quantities that chance determines, and not reflection. Hence the many and beautiful natures tied by love-knots and still not happy, because the characters fit in many sides of the great human polygon and not in all. The study of these oppositions, of these partial incompatibilities would require a moral analysis of the entire man, of all his social surroundings, and many of these pains do not belong solely to love but are the result of all human affections, and poison friendship, fraternal, filial, and paternal love: some, however, belong especially to the love of loves. To feel in the same hour, at the same moment, in the same degree the stimulus of a desire or the thirst for a caress is a rare thing, a fortunate coincidence which gilds with the most beautiful rays the happiest hours of life; it can never be the daily bread of bliss. In all other cases the thirst arises in one of the two and is transmitted to the other, so that spark calls forth spark, the caress generates caresses. It is an invitation of lips, a striking of wings, it is a harmonious note which from a branch calls to the branch; but it is always the invitation to a rendezvous, it is ever the awakening of one who slumbers. In these invitations, in these first skirmishes, the ridiculous runs parallel to, and very near, the sublime. Love is between them, it is true, and will never permit them to unite; but the least inattention, the least dishonest or listless movement can cause the two elements to touch; and the ridiculous, there where it touches, wounds selfishness and with it love. 69 The Greek Cynic philosopher Diogenes walked through Athens in broad daylight carrying a lighted lamp, searching in vain for an honest man [Editor].

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Even to the most impatient, the most ridiculous, the most grotesque desires, throw at once the mantle of love to cover them. Every threat of ridicule disappears then in smoke, any wounding of selfishness is impossible, and I address myself to woman, because oftener than we she has occasion to repair these damages, because she has her hand ready to aid and is delicate in healing. Woe to you if your companion must blush through your fault, because you knew not the time and place to close the eyes or extend the pitying veil of your hand or your love! How much bitterness, how much spite and contempt, how many thorns and nettles are found on the blooming path of the most fervid passion, just because delicacy of sentiment does not always know how to reconcile the incompatibility of the senses, because a too exacting modesty insults the lively ardour of the temperament, or woman does not condemn with wise perception the hungry demands, dictated by selfishness and not by love! Fleeing, one loses and conquers; remaining, one loses and conquers; but many flee when they should remain, remain when they should flee; hence many defeats, in which conquerors and conquered remain discontented, and love often lies down imbrued in its own blood. The tortures, the contempt, the bitterness, the weariness, the torments of love must be deeply studied, because they move side by side with joy and voluptuousness, and very few are the fortunate ones who do not stumble. Much luck, a thorough knowledge of men, many arts can defend us; so that at the end of our career we can bless love, which together with some slight sorrow has perfumed life with its most beautiful flowers. I have indicated here only some of the torments which populate the hell of love; but their number is infinite, their name is legion. In every field of sentiment, of the senses, and of intellect man possesses a much greater possibility of suffering than of enjoying, and when bliss is attained and we cut off the veins from which oozes forth the bitter sap of sorrow, it is always after a long, rough battle, in which we defend ourselves with all the weapons of nature and art. Here also, perhaps, more than anywhere else, the weight of genius is revealed in all its power, together with the influence of a noble and generous character. The ardent, impetuous heart is not a source of greater amorous bitterness


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when together with it there burns the calm light of reason; when the sublime incapacity to act basely accompanies the desire for the good; when we enjoy more the pleasure we give than that which we receive. Even weak and defective natures are strengthened and set upright when they lean against the robust columns of an affectionate and disdainful nature; even the angry rancours of little hearts lose their bitterness in the calm blue ocean of a character all sweetness and nobility. We should revel in all love’s joys, refuse or quench all its sorrows.

Chapter 19

The Degradations of Love

Love, being the most powerful known agitator of human elements, stirs up the slime which is found in the noblest natures, while in men kneaded with mire it becomes the greatest coefficient of vice and crime. Love, like all the other sentiments, has a pathology of its own and a superior one, because it extends its sphere of action into a larger field and has more powerful needs to satisfy. The man who would not be capable of baseness even though dying of hunger, even when about to lose all that he holds most dear, can compromise with conscience where there is a question of love, and many, many blemishes stain the textures of the noblest and loftiest natures. Love wants to possess us with our hands and feet bound, to have us in its possession, as the Jesuits wish to have their neophytes perinde ac cadaver.70 This is an inexhaustible source of degradation and crime. The degradations of love are as innumerable as the sands of the sea, and are as many as love’s delights; they are of every magnitude, and can adapt themselves to every degree of human baseness. It seems to me, however, that in a general study of physiology they can be reduced to two principal forms, impotency and prostitution. Impotency is not only a disease that should receive the attention of the physician and the hygienist, it is not only a case for the legislator, but a moral degradation that must be thoroughly studied by the psychologist who seeks to trace the natural story of love. In the simplest organism of the inferior animal, every desire of love ceases when age, disease, or a wound has exhausted every energy of the genital organs. In man, on the contrary, the most irresistible and beastly

70 As a cadaver [Editor].


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wants are so complicated with the psychical elements of the moral and intellectual world as to survive the organic disease. The innocent man loves before he is conscious of his manhood, and a woman can die of love and yet know nothing of the existence of the womb. It is very true that in the perfect eunuch every amorous note is silent, or, if we behold the phantoms of a strange lasciviousness wandering here and there, they are spectres that belong to the limbo of transcendent pathology. These poor pariahs of nature are, however, very rare; while our rickety civilization fabricates by hundreds the semi-eunuchs who fill with cuckold ornaments the sanctuary of the family and the low world of wandering loves. The statistics, fortunately, cannot give the exact number of these ‘semi-men’ and consign them to the inexorable files; it is enough for us to know that they are much more numerous than feminine virtue and patience can tolerate. True love is not all sentiment or thought, but it is also a function of reproductive life, it is also a need of the senses. Martyrs and saints have mutilated themselves and died happy in consequence; but the human majority does not consist of saints and martyrs. Every mutilation of love is a disgrace and the most fecund generator of many other minor degradations. In the chaste and fresh dawn of youth, many a woman has consented unknowingly to an infamous agreement in which a man offered her a great name, great riches in exchange for a ‘yes.’ The wretched man loved her, desired her, but he could not possess her as nature commanded man to possess woman, he wished to own the temple without having the right to enter. Sometimes the eunuch confessed his shame before betrayal, and the innocent maiden did not understand and accepted the contract. Who does not believe himself a hero or a martyr at this age? And the eunuch embraced the precious booty, inundated it with sterile kisses, and endeavoured to warm it with his impotent caresses; and the marble statue of adolescent virginity trembled with new and incomprehensible emotions. Later on the virgin perceived that she was a woman, that she was one in vain, and love seized virtue, ruined it, notwithstanding its clamours, and the agreement sworn to in good faith was cancelled by the omnipotence of the affections. How many domestic misfortunes, what a fruitful sprinkling of bastards, how many brigands spring forth from this filthy source!

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Real eunuchs, half eunuchs, quarter eunuchs, do not hope to be loved by a woman on whom you have imposed an infamous contract; no virtue is sufficient, no oath can resist the sacred laws of love: nothing is stronger than nature. And if you have found a heroine, why make of her a martyr? Do you want to be the executioner of her whom you say you love? And you, generous women, noble women, who can elevate to the highest regions even the basest passions, do not consent to an agreement that requires a mutilation of love. You, teachers of every kind of sacrifice, think to make happy an outcast of nature; you impose upon yourselves, smiling perhaps, the sublime mission of redeeming a desperate creature; but I assure you neither virtue, sacrifice, nor heroism can stifle that formidable cry of the universe of the living that wants you to be spouse and mother. While the martyr, with the palm of sacrifice clutched tightly in her hand, will try to smile, a cruel spasm of the viscera will say to her, ‘You, Eve and daughter of Eve, will become a mother only by means of a crime; you will enter the sanctuary of sanctuaries, the tabernacle of matrimony through the door of domestic treachery.’ No, love is not all senses and lust; sentiment can pervade it to such an extent as to conceal voluptuousness in the most secret of hidden recesses. No, woman can be happy without voluptuousness, provided she feels herself loved; but she wishes to and should love ‘a man.’ I appeal to all the daughters of Eve, and, in order to be spared a blush, they reply with a nod of the head and without moving their lips: is it not true that they would prefer a hundred times to be loved by a ‘real man,’ even with a vow of chastity, rather than to be profaned and gorged with lust by the hands of a eunuch? Is it not true that they want to lean on that strong column called an honourable man? And certainly he is not a man, who, having lost his manhood, presumes to possess a woman and be loved by her. The semi-men who at forty, at fifty years of age aspire to become the head of a family, after having trailed the half of their virility through the lasciviousness of prostitution and the gastronomy of the erotic kitchen, never suppose that lechery can take the place of true love in a woman. They may prostitute their spouse, but they can never make her love them deeply and seriously. They are called upon by the inexorable laws of nature to give the largest contingent to predestined husbands.


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When impotency falls like a thunderbolt on the head of two happy lovers, it is only a disease, it is a misfortune that concerns the physician and the pharmacist; but when it precedes love, it is a baseness, a degradation, an infamy. The honest man never attempts to conceal it, to justify it; he either courageously renounces love, which is something that does not concern him, or he exposes the sore and invokes the aid of the surgeon. He becomes a man again, and then sees if he can be a lover and husband; he cures the flesh, and then sees if he can aspire to the delights of sentiment. Before he becomes a farmer he possesses some land. The complicated mechanism of our social organism, in the same manner that it offers to the thirst of ardent youth voluptuousness without love, imposes on many lovers, with more cruel amputation, love without voluptuousness; two chief sources of the thousand sorrows that human society prepares for those who love: ‘voluptuousness minus love,’ that is, all the shame and degradation of prostitution; ‘love minus voluptuousness,’ namely, all the tortures of enforced chastity. Between these two hells the enamoured youth remains a long time suspended, until, in order to survive, he ships lechery and fancy in a gloomy old barge and away he flees with them to hide among the cane reeds and marshes of self-abuse – greatest of the degradations of love and which occupies a convenient place between impotency and prostitution. Yes, as man should enjoy the Olympus of love, he should also submit to its degradations. He is an animal that prostitutes himself and makes love without the female; he is an animal that buys and sells voluptuousness or fabricates it for himself in the familiar shell of the basest egotism. Man, in love, is monogamous and polygamous. How rich in resources, how multiform in loves! In the book which I will dedicate to the hygiene of love this problem will be thoroughly studied; here I will indicate only what concerns the physiology of sentiment. It is sad to say, but true: our modern society has rendered love so difficult to many unhappy creatures as to make them pass under the Caudine Forks71 of this cruel dilemma: either to buy voluptuousness and with it counterfeit love, or in the mire of lasciviousness to dream of love. In one way or the other we are condemned to be 71 A narrow path surrounded by mountains near Benevento, in the Southern Italian region of Campania, where the Samnites defeated the Roman army in 321 BCE [Editor].

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counterfeiters, and to blush before ourselves at the manner in which we satisfy the most powerful of human needs. Self-abuse is not only a sin of hygiene which destroys health and vigour, but also a moral offence and the poison of happiness. He who is frequently obliged to blush and who repeatedly falls again into the same crime tarnishes daily the limpid purity of his own dignity; weakens daily the strong spring of virile intentions; and daily makes himself more cowardly for all the battles of life. While he blushes for himself and curses himself and the love that condemns him to a daily abasement, he blushes more than ever in the presence of woman, of whom he does not feel worthy and of whom at each fall he feels less worthy. He poisons the wave of love in its first sources, and even when later on he succeeds in loving, he has spoiled the purity of his tastes, of his aspirations, and in the arms of a woman who loves him he complains of the solitary twinges of a diseased voluptuousness resembling in everything the one who, having burned his mouth with the pungent aromas of the pipe and brandy, can no longer relish the perfumes of the pineapple and strawberry. Love is the greatest of conquests, the sweetest of delights, it is the joy of joys; to renounce it in order to supplant it with degradation is worse than a crime, it is an infamy. Better a hundred times chastity with its sublime tortures; better a hundred times prostitution with its mire. True and complete love is the splendid banquet under the fragrant trees of a garden, among the harmonies of music and the merry badinage of friends: solitary love is the furtive meal of a bone gnawed in the dark and taken from the fetidness of a dunghill. Prostitution is, after self-abuse, the greatest degradation of love, and, what is worse – it should be said at once – in modern society it is a necessary degradation. Tibullus hurls at it a splendid malediction: Jam tua qui Venerem docuisti vendere primus Quisquis es, infelix urgeat ossa lapis.72

This imprecation, repeated by all moralists of every age, could not prevent for one day alone the sale of love, and universal experience 72 Crushed to pieces by a stone be the bones of the one who first taught others to sell their flesh. Mantegazza misquotes Tibullus’s first line, ‘At tibi, qui …’ [Editor].


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demonstrates that St Augustine was a sound philosopher when he wrote, ‘Aufer meretrices de rebus humanis, turbaveris omnia libidinibus; constitue matronarurm loco, labe ac dedecore dehonestaveris.’73 If St Augustine had written but this sentence alone, I would proclaim him a thorough psychologist; in a few words he has indicated all the phases of the tremendous problem, he has given a lesson of toleration to the intolerant, a lesson of social science to economists, and today, after so many centuries, his words are as true, profound, inexorable as when he pronounced them to a world so different to ours. Today Alfieri also, in his memoirs, speaking of woman, did not blush to write, ‘As the health of my soul had become again a thousand times dearer to me than that of the body, I endeavoured and succeeded in my efforts to flee always from the virtuous.’ Difficult problems are not solved by fleeing from them or concealing them; and yet many physicians, many philosophers attempt to solve the most burning questions of modern society after the manner of a child, who, closing the eyes, thinks to flee from the dog that threatens him. Catholicism has only one method of solving the problem, and the moralist of its school proclaims it to the four winds, now with a touching, pathetic voice, now in angry and threatening tones. The city of Rome, one of the most corrupt in the world, bears a horrible testimony of the fruit derived from public morality. I never wondered at this morality nor at its unavoidable consequences; but I certainly wept when I found physicians allied to Catholic intolerance. To Dr Monlan in Spain and Dr Bergeret in France, who thought to save society by abolishing prostitution, I replied in a few words which I wish to save from the shipwreck of journalism in order to gather them in the shadow of this book. I have never wondered at finding some philosopher who studies man in Fichte or in Kant without ever having touched the palpitating viscera, or examined a fibre with the microscope; and who advises the legislator to destroy in the social organism with iron and fire that livid and cancerous spot called prostitution; I have never raised the hue and cry of fright or of

73 Take prostitutes out of the world, and you will upset the whole of it with lusts; put them in the place of wives, and you will defile it with disease and dishonour [Editor].

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miracle when I heard the auto-da-fé invoked against cases of toleration by some moralist who has had the singular fortune to be born without the sixth sense; or the still rarer merit of smothering it with the extinguisher of an iron will. But when I hear these intolerant cries from the mouth of a physician, I shake my head diffidently, and with a compassionate voice I ask myself, Is he really a physician? It this moralist perhaps someone who has seen man in a convulsive delirium and, cold and hard, has cut into his flesh on the chilly marble of the anatomical hall? Is he who hurls the anathema at prostitution really the physician, who should serve as a kind link between the legislator, who in man sees only an accused person to punish, and the philanthropist, who in him considers but an unhappy creature to heal and help?

These questions and other similar ones I addressed to the illustrious Spanish physician Monlan, when he proposed to his government the absolute suppression of houses of ill fame; and then I had the pleasure of seeing my poor words printed in the progressive Spanish medical journals. Now I make the same reproach to Dr Bergeret, who, in one of his memoirs on prostitution in the villages and small towns of France, flung an anathema against that caustic wound which civilization has opened in the diseased flesh of the modern social organism; and I, with a sad air, repeat to the French physician a melancholy Tu quoque, fili mi? 74 Bergeret lost much time and ink in narrating lurid stories of what occurs in French country towns. And who is ignorant of these stories? We have the same in Italy, in Germany; the same things must happen in every land where there are men who love and suffer, who get drunk and seek out prostitutes; wherever the eye of authority cannot penetrate into the fissures of the social edifice, where lie concealed the lurid parasites that sting and devour us. But from the deploring of the evil results of clandestine prostitution to the destroying of all toleration there is an abyss that must not be crossed by the physician and the legislator on the waxen wings of an Arcadian flight, but over the solid bridge of a wise criticism. 74 You too, my son? Reputed to be Julius Caesar’s last words, to his younger friend and former ally Brutus, as Brutus joined with others in stabbing him [Editor].


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Then, my dear moralist, my dear theorist, you say that men learn vice in houses of ill fame; but without taverns would there be no assassins, without pharmacists would there be no poisoning cases, without manufacturers of gunpowder and bayonets would there be no wars? And who, pray tell me, makes houses of ill fame, taverns, daggers, poisons, firearms, if not man himself, that man whom you ought to be able to understand, if it is true that you also are made of the same dough? Your morality is that of the inquisitor who burns the sinner whom he cannot convert; it is as false and coarse as that of the legislator who has only the prison and the scaffold for the education of the guilty; it is that of the surgeon who barbarously amputates the member that with a wiser and more compassionate science he should preserve. Modern civilization substitutes the school for the inquisitor’s stake; it has more faith in books than in prisons and halters, more confidence in preservative medicine than in the surgeon’s knife. And as long as the social organism is diseased, as long as it is a poor creature saturated with evil humours, with many carious bones and many scrofulous tumors, we kindly cauterize the flesh to keep it alive, to diverge in more ignoble parts those acrid humours that would poison the sources of life, until with the tonic cure of education we succeed in renewing the blood in the veins of this old invalid, and then strengthen flesh, bones, and nerves and make of them something new. This is why we still preserve the cautery of prostitution, and we wish to guard it with the same jealous care with which a physician keeps a precious sore open which saves the life of a diseased organism; and believe me, worthy ultramontane colleague, that when life will no longer be threatened and the organism will be strengthened, we will heal this wound also, together with many others now bleeding. We will then close the houses of voluptuousness, when every man can have a nest of his own, and when love will not be a crime for anyone.75

Lubbock76 attempted lately an ethnography on prostitution: I will delineate it still more completely in my ‘Pictures of Human Nature;’

75 Hygiene, vol. 4, p. 289 [Author]. 76 Sir John Lubbock (1834–1913) was a renowned archaeologist, biologist, anthropologist, and politician, and the author of many scientific works, such as the 1865 Pre-historic Times, as Illustrated by Ancient Remains, and the Manners and Customs of Modern Savages (which would become the most influential archaeological study of the

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here we must occupy ourselves only with the sale of love as it is carried on in our European society. There are some savage races who do not prostitute themselves: no civilized nation lacks prostitutes; on the contrary, every country, even the most moral, has the refined and very refined, the low and very low. Not in all countries are prostitutes cynically named according to the price they require for their favours, as in Persia, where they are termed the fifty tomans,77 the twenty tomans, etc.; but everywhere a tariff rates the hierarchy of vice and a scale of lechery. Alexander Severus did not wish the money collected from taxes on houses of prostitution to enter the treasury; and Ulpian, his minister, devoted it to the maintenance of the theatres and public health. With youthful sagacity the government of Brazil devotes to the circumspection of vice the money received from the sale of decorations and titles of nobility. In our country a tax is levied on lechery, but they dare not enter it on the state ledgers, and it goes toward increasing the secret funds, destined for the rule or misrule of that pandemonium of our modern society called quaestorship, espionage, electoral broils, etc. Wherever we find women who sell themselves, we also find, to our honour, that society is ashamed of this stain, conceals it, and is silent; and a great mystery of a mephitic air hangs heavily over the simony of love. A thousand muddy streamlets bear their tribute to prostitution; but the source of all is the same powerful one; in man the brutal appetite for voluptuousness, in woman the frightful want of bread or licentiousness, or of licentiousness and bread at the same time. And unfortunately woman can sell, at all hours, five minutes of voluptuousness without love, without desire; she can sell herself with nausea in her heart and hatred on her lips. And the joy she sells is paid for according to the requirements of beauty, luxury, manner, according to the infamous art with which she feigns pleasure and counterfeits love. Procurers and procuresses hasten to the market of lechery to feel the flesh of the precious victims, to fatten the lean, and to buy the plump at the greatest advantage; and in the shadow of the law they conceal in the lurid or gilded prisons of prostitution that trembling herd of youth and shame. And there are found shut

nineteenth century) and the 1870 Origin of Civilization. He was also the creator of the names Palaeolithic and Neolithic to designate the Old and New Stone Ages [Editor]. 77 The toman was the currency of Iran until 1932 [Editor].


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up in the same atmosphere obscure martyrs of love and many affected with nymphomania; victims of hunger and victims of ignorance; fallen angels and filthy demons – all the lowest depths of feminine society. And there, at the sound of a bell which seems to call a victim to the scaffold; at the creak of a door that seems to open a prison or a galley, a human female must run, smiling, to a man who, without love, without ever having seen her before, for a few pennies or a few francs can make her his own, insult her in what woman holds most sacred, and can make of it dung for his intoxication and tainted drivelling for his most obscene lusts. If at least the money were hers, earned with so much shame; if she could with that filthy lucre, accumulated with so many tears and so much frivolity, dream of a ransom, a real oblivion of the past in distant lands! But no: that money is restored to the mistress of the place, to her who buys and fattens those anonymous chickens of universal lechery; for them suffice the bread that nourishes and the silk gown loaned at illegal interest, which serves as a bait for the blackbirds. And there, in those dark haunts of licentiousness, man forgets how to love, there he loses daily the holy poetry of the heart and the mysterious quiverings of sentiment, there he prostitutes the most gigantic forces of thought and affection. Without hunger one partakes there of delicious food, without thirst men become intoxicated, without the necessity of overcoming modesty one obtains everything, and money levels all virtue and concedes the wildest polygamy; and there one sees the nude and chaste statue of love trailed in the fetid mire by a merry, tipsy crowd. Behold the love that modern civilization offers to the hundred thousand pariahs who cannot find a straw wherewith to weave the chaste family nest; to all those who cannot make a vow of chastity, and who do not wish to betray an innocent maiden or violate the wife of others. Our civil society can really be proud of this: the philanthropists with their tearful dirges, the economists with their wise reflections, the legislators with their elaborate codes can all chant in chorus hosanna to the stupendous solution of the problem. Either a starving family or prostitution; children cast on the dunghill of misery or faith betrayed in the house of a friend; degradation or crime. Stupendous dilemmas that crown our society with a wilderness of horns, that sow betrayal, hunger, and corruption everywhere. If the rotten trunk of our modern civilization

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were not covered by a thick rind, what a horrible spectacle would be presented to us! And when a sincere moralist, when a true philosopher attempts to split the bark, and through a little fissure would show us the thorough rottenness, we flee appalled, raising the hue and cry of sacrilege and impudence. There where modern society is pitifully and modestly wise is when, although cursing prostitution, it tolerates and oversees it as a senile wound that preserves the old social organism from a deadly corruption. And we should do likewise, until civil progress will have conceded to all men a woman and a nest; until progressive education will have given many to understand and enjoy the holy delights of chastity. As we are constituted at present, prostitution, with its degradation, infamy, and gangrene, is a hundred times preferable to the proletarians who abandon their offspring on the public roads; a hundred times better the purchased voluptuousness, than domestic treachery, habitual adultery, and matrimony made the illicit trade of capital and the friendly shadow of polygamy; a hundred times better voluptuousness cruelly wrenched away from love, than friendship betrayed and love contaminated in the sanctuary of the family, and all society saturated with the cancerous sap of false virtue and profound lechery that kills it slowly but surely. In this country the government should handle prostitution as a malady to be treated, not because there is any hope of cure, but because society owes to every sick person a physician and a bed. It should not be permitted to spread, to parade its lurid sores, to cover itself with tinsel and false gems; but it should be pitifully guarded as in a hospital, so that it may awaken in the passerby compassion instead of lechery. If some people, cynically audacious, write on certain houses, ‘Here is enjoyment,’ I would write these more appropriate words: ‘Here is weeping, and here the healthy become diseased.’ And while the state watches and guards, writers and teachers should raise the level of general culture and teach the elect the paradise of chastity, which contains a treasure of delights for the future (that the libertine will never be able to understand) and preserves for true love, which all may hope to attain, the infinite joys of a virgin voluptuousness. And every one of us should teach men that prostitution, even in extreme cases, should be but a question of hygiene, and can never be substituted for or united to true love. The sale of love should neither be proclaimed


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as a feast of the human family nor officially suppressed, because then it overflows all the paths of society; it should be tolerated and pitied, as we tolerate and pity many other maladies of our social organism. To reach this sublime goal, to at least hope to attain it, we must above all scrape off the hundred coats of hypocrisy of modern love; we must not permit our children to learn love as a crime in the houses of vice, but immediately, at the first dawn of youth, they should be taught that it is a sublime delight conceded to the good and excellent, and must be attained in the same manner as glory and riches. No, the chambermaid or the prostitute should not be the first mistress of love; she should be a modest and pious maiden, a woman who teaches us love before voluptuousness, who teaches us to be chaste in the desire to possess her some day. I dare to suppose that this, my poor Physiology of Love, may be read by a youth and contribute to his virtue. Today, while we do not even permit a maiden to direct her gaze to a sympathetic youth, and to our sons, already men, we do not concede the right to desire and to love, the innocence which we think to guard with an Arcadian and ridiculous rigour plunges into the mire of domestic concubinage, solitary lasciviousness, corrupted prostitution. We conceal and with silence think to suppress the passions and suffocate desire; but we have concealed too much and have been silent too long. In the most reserved country in the world, England, one of the most honest and wisest physicians of London published a book that has already reached the ninth edition, in which he frankly dared to assert that free love, without fecundation, is the only remedy against the proteiform corruption that invades modern society, on account of the impossibility which the majority find of morally satisfying one of the most powerful needs. I do not agree with the English physician, who wrote anonymously in order not to offend the delicate susceptibility of those dear to him; but in the perusal of the book I stop in sad surprise, as one stretches the ear at the sound of the tocsin. When in England they can write such a book and devour nine editions; when an honest physician can calmly discuss preventive intercourse; when Malthus finds so ardent and eloquent a commentator, who brings his theory from the field of economy into that of morality, hygiene, and even religion, I must affirm that society is thoroughly diseased, and should be cured.

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Yes, modern society, which, tainted with so much prostitution and adultery, daily proclaims itself monogamous and is largely polygamous, demands a physician to cure its sores, to cleanse it from all degradation, to concede it loves more free and virtuous, at least less deformed with mire and lies. And this physician should have a morality less false and less exacting, but at the same time more exalted, because more human; it should be a morality that teaches us never to separate voluptuousness from love; that teaches us chastity as the most beautiful and holiest of joys, as the most watchful guardian of true love. Even today the elect never resort to prostitution themselves, because they love, and because, having once entered the paradise of love, they are too reluctant to descend to the mire of the simony of voluptuousness. The few elect should exert themselves with all their strength so that the masses too may elevate themselves to the high spheres in which they dwell, where, as the air they breathe is purer, they also cull more beautiful flowers.

Chapter 20

The Faults and Crimes of Love

If you ask a hundred women what is the most common fault of love, very probably the same reply will be repeated a hundred times: ‘Love is inconstant, love is a liar.’ If, on the other hand, you consult the gloomy volumes wherein man collects the statistics of his crimes, you will find an extraordinary number of suicides and homicides for love’s sake; will you not find inconstancy noted, and rarely, scattered here and there, will you run across some case of adultery. The jury then, in which amorphous and chaotic mass every idea of right and guilt is dissolved and tempered, always inflicts slight punishments for crimes fined in the code with the penalty of death or the galley, and often absolves homicides committed for love’s sake. What a confusion of ideas, what contradictions in the customs and laws of a people; what a cruel irony of paradoxes in man who would be an angel in his laws, who is a tiger and serpent in the paths of life, and calls to the tribunal of justice a body of men all at once elevated to the rank of judges and who can in a sudden emotion applaud or hiss him, send him to the clamorous triumph of the public square or to the slow agony of the prison cell. Nowhere does such heavy darkness reign as on the field of love, where an intricate mass of reticence, contradictions, toleration, and cruelty causes common sense to stumble at every step, and, what is worse, offends and wounds the sentiment of justice. It is written in the laws that adultery is a crime, subject to the gravest penalties, and in practical life adultery is the most common and most venial sin we know; it is not only tolerated but celebrated, and almost admitted as a social institution. According to law, homicide is punishable with death, and many who have become assassins for love’s sake are borne in triumph by the people, or at least absolved. The incitement to prostitution is considered a

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very serious crime, and many gowned legislators sell their daughter to a rich husband who cannot love her, who will never love her, and who will drag her down to the irresistible necessity of adultery. And this is not prostitution? Either man is not worthy of the laws which he imposes on himself, or he is lost in a dizzy maze; he is either an arrogant blockhead or a brazen liar. Man is a little of all this, but he is chiefly a hypocrite. He proclaims solemnly to the four winds that he is a son of God and that he inhabits the earth by chance: born in Olympus, he will return there soon and forever. He is a god sojourning in the country who adapts himself to play and eat with the rustics; but he is winged and lives only on the ideal. A moment after, he forgets his proclamations, his flourish of trumpets, and proves himself more than ever an animal of the soil; he revises the sad contrast between what he has said and what he has done, covers himself, and retreats in confusion. Here is the immutable formula of his eternal contradictions. In love he lies more frequently and more brazenly than in any other case. He has supposed for a moment that love could be just, and hence measured according to the reckoning of the other sentiments, and above all levelled by the yoke of the other affections. And yet love can possess all virtues; it can be pitiful, heroic, gracious, generous, but it can never be just; born in injustice, it lives on injustice and dies of injustice: it has but one right, strength; it possesses only one weapon, power. When betrayed love arms itself with a homicidal knife, I brand that crime among the most inevitable of instantaneous hatred and of the most natural revenge; when one imposes love as a duty on a maiden and instead of love a hatred is born, and instead of affection there springs up contempt, I note that love cannot be ordered at a fixed hour like a dinner, and that if bastards are born of the obscene union of gold and vanity, love has nothing to do with it, because love was absent; and he who can prove an alibi is at once pardoned by the most cruel and headstrong of public prosecutors. When I see love killing dignity, friendship, the holiest affections of the heart, when I behold it breaking with furious rage the iron grating of the cage in which a cruel code of laws has imprisoned it, I absolve it instantly, because love is not a wild beast that can be shut up in a seraglio, but a creature free as the air, that lives on light and


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burning suns, on the aroma of the forest and the fragrance of the fields. You have rendered it hydrophobic through hunger and thirst; you have made it furious with your violence, and you complain because the madman bites and kills? As there is an immense inequality between that which the laws require and that of which human loves are capable, men, by universal consent, shrug their shoulders and forgive; forgive always, forgive all even there where human justice should rise in all the solemn grandeur of its majesty to guard the holiest rights of the family and society. In the laws, love is often a crime; in the paths of life, it is for the very rigorous at the most a weakness – a dear, a sympathetic weakness. For me hypocrisy is an intricate mass that chokes love in modern society, and I dare to affirm that the only fault, the only crime that this sentiment can commit is falsehood. Let us commence to tear off the leprosy that infects, devours, vituperates it, and then we will see what remains sound in that dear, naked, and virginal love that Mother Nature has conceded us. Let us first save the life of this poor creature, and then we will see if it has other misfortunes, if it can commit other crimes besides that of lying. Today, in my opinion, love is a liar from head to foot; it is a liar when it swears and forswears; it is a liar when a hundred times a day it pronounces the words eternal, eternity, eternally; it is a liar in law and in life; it is unfaithful, it is a thief, a traitor solely because it is a liar. I may have a Scipionian mania, my head may be full of my delenda Carthago;78 but if I should be obliged to reply to him who would ask me, ‘Which are the true, the great loves?’ I would reply without hesitation, ‘The sincere’ ‘Which are the happy loves?’ ‘The sincere.’ All the faults of love are all lies, almost all the misfortunes of love are daughters of untruth; and finally, adultery is nothing but the most infamous of love’s lies. What is, I will ask in my turn, the only remedy for unhappy loves, the only anchor of salvation for betrayed loves? Sincerity, sincerity, nothing but sincerity. At the risk of beholding many disciples and masters of love smiling sceptically, I will say at once that woman, from the first day she loves, is less given to lying than we. Man, in his first declarations, even when he is 78 Carthage is to be destroyed. The sentence was pronounced by Cato the Censor; Scipio Africanus led the siege of Carthage and conquered the city [Editor].

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not quite sure that he loves, swears instantly, swears an eternity of infinite affection; while woman, more modest, more reserved, replies that she does not love yet, that she has not yet consulted her heart, that perhaps she will love. The less one swears the less one forswears; and if a holy horror of the oath can hinder some fiery accent, some inebriation of amorous expansion, it gives nevertheless to the human word a masculine stamp of dignity, which makes it blessed among women, while it gives to the sexual relations a character of mild reserve and delicate serenity. Man often uses the eternal oaths as weapons of seduction, and parades them at every hour, as a measure of the endless depths of his love; but sometimes he swears sincerely, honestly, because there is no more eager creator of eternity and infinity than armed desire. And only too often is the hasty and imprudent oath the fecund father of lies and most fruitful grandparent of infidelity. Eternal loves are rare as geniuses, Venuses, and Apollos. We all anxiously climb the hill of the ideal, but few can gather a branch or a leaf of the sacred tree. The lower orders of loves last some years, some months; there are some as transient as the ephemera, for which the life of a day is long. Now then, frankness can give to all loves the baptism of honesty, and even a frivolous man can die without amorous remorse, because his loves were all vulgar but honest. He has loved much and transiently, but he has never been guilty of an untruth, he has never perjured himself. Sometimes people tell lies through compassion, and woman, more frequently than we, endeavouring in vain to preserve the life of a dying love, dislikes to cruelly wound the companion who still loves her, and she strives with a cruel effort to deceive herself and him, until with habitual hypocrisy she succeeds in feigning a love that no longer exists; and from the lie to betrayal the road is short and slippery. The lie at first was pitiful, then it grew to a habit, until it became transformed into crime. No, lovers or husbands, companions of voluptuousness or vestals of the family, never tell an untruth, even when the same is suggested to you by pity. It is hard, it is cruel to see the blooming tree of a happy passion rooted up by a sudden hurricane; tremendous is the rending of a heart that breaks in a day under the shock of an atrocious disillusion; but these are sorrows that do not abase and that, capable of killing us, do not humiliate us. Love killed by violence remains stretched on the beautiful soil like


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a thunderstruck angel, and memory crowns it, and with the most precious aromas and balsams preserves it from the larvae of putrefaction. Love killed by the lingering decay of a secret betrayal is a leper who dies in the fetidness of a hospital, a horror to himself and others; it is a corpse slowly corroded by phthisis and scrofula, and which leaves no trace whatever of the time in which it too was a young and robust organism. False and cruel is the pity that causes us to simulate a love which no longer exists. No sorrow is greater than that which a betrayal inflicts upon us: love, selfishness, self-love, love of ownership, all the warmest and most powerful human affections are lacerated at the same time, and the pain is so intense that it poisons life with wormwood and gall. How beautiful, on the contrary, how sublime is a love that, without swearing eternity and infinity, lasts as long as two human hearts throb with the same affection; how beautiful a love that needs no chains, and lives on faith and liberty! To love means to belong entirely to one alone; to be loved signifies to have become a living part of another: the lie begins when, with cynical licentiousness, the man or woman divide themselves in two parts, and give to one person the body, to the other (as it is termed) the soul. Love is a whole that cannot be divided without killing it, and, unless voluptuousness is made a base question of hygiene, one cannot and should not love two human creatures at the same time without betraying both. I esteem much more highly a woman who, after a long career of facile loves, can say, ‘I have never loved two men at the same time,’ than I do a bigoted matron who boasts to her confessor and to God of having never betrayed the duties of a spouse, because with wise and cautious lechery she could sell voluptuousness without seriously compromising the property reserved to the husband. Lies are all infamous; but in love there are the venial and the perfidious: it is one thing to deceive an old libertine and another to betray a faithful husband; to tell a lie to a frivolous coquette differs vastly from betraying a pious woman. We will treat further on of the rights and duties of love; but here we must indicate the stem from which they are suspended. Woman belongs to man, man belongs to woman; love is the son of the most free election; it is born when it will and as it will; it appears on the plains or on the summit of the mountains; it is born

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naked and free as the air; it asks not for passports, because it violates with impunity all the custom-houses. Men and women, free and pure, seek ye each other and love; study true love, and consecrate it with the only vow that love should make, when it would enclose itself in the family temple. If you truly love, if you are worthy of each other, if your love offends no superior duty, no human force can oppose itself to your powerful attractions, and nature and men will bless your election. Read and read again all that I have written on first loves; swear seldom; at least, swear but once, the first and last oath that will make you spouses. The compact violated in the first steps of the life of love is a homicide and prepares one for the career of a brigand tolerated by civilization. To betray a virgin is, according to law, a question for the public prosecutor or the mayor of your community; to betray her without dishonouring her is an anonymous infamy that poisons two existences and two loves, that leaves in you an eternal bitterness, in another an eternal rancour. Love, seek, study each other, but never swear, never tell a lie to the maiden who at the dawn of youth demands of the first sun a ray to enlighten and warm her. There is, however, in love a lie that exceeds all lies, a betrayal that surmounts all others; there is a rascality that surpasses every assassination, every homicide, every rape, namely, love with the wife of another; a crime which, protected by the laws, celebrated by our infamously deceitful customs, escapes the prison and the scaffold, only because it takes the precaution not to be termed adultery. To introduce oneself into the sanctuary of a happy family, to become a friend of him whom we wish to betray, to cover him with the mantle of our benevolent protection; to seduce slowly and pitilessly the wife of another; with surprise, with the thousand pitfalls of moral violence to open for her an abyss into which she falls; to propagate bastards, and open in the family a large vein of gall that will poison two or three generations: to do all this without expense and without danger, is termed in our century shrewdness, the consoling of unhappy wives, and it can be done once, twice, ten times, without losing the love of women or the esteem of men. To be seized by a vertigo of the senses, to embrace publicly the wife of another, or to let oneself be seen by the husband, is called adultery, and according to the circumstances, and above all according to the gravity of


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the scandal, means a journey to prison or to the galley; signifies a dishonouring of one’s name and that of one’s children. Modern society above all recommends prudence, the avoiding of scandal; it does not wish to be disturbed in its amply polygamous but piously circumspect loves; modern civilization does not care to behold publicly any nudity whatever; it desires to be believed moral, respectful, and respected. It matters little and does not concern it at all if a shrewd libertine spends his youth in propagating bastards, awaiting the day when he can abandon the betrayed wives to make a prudent match. It is a private affair, with which husbands and wives should individually occupy themselves. It is recommended to make no noise, to take care of the keyholes, and to listen attentively for approaching footsteps. The meshes of the law are wide, very wide; he must be more than an idiot who stumbles and cannot extricate himself. The flag of matrimony covers all contraband goods; the search for paternity is prohibited; the sons of two blessed spouses are legitimate: onward, onward! For God’s sake do not weary me with caprices and embarrassing declarations of foreign merchandise. The guardians of finance close the eyes and see not, they shut the ears and hear not; why do you foolishly wish to awaken them with your impatient cries? Onward, onward! The meshes of the law are wide: degenerate families, falsify names and surnames; sprinkle the lie and sow betrayal in all the paths of social and civil life; spread corruption and infamy everywhere; make the name of father a senseless word; make the name of mother a blasphemy!

Chapter 21

The Rights and Duties of Love

‘Love me, you must love me.’ This is a cry of sorrow that man often utters, and still more frequently the forsaken woman; but it is generally an impotent cry. To require love as a right is one of the greatest follies; it is like asking poetry of the slave of thought, it is expecting to find the perfumes of the rose and cedar in the icy zone that freezes the head and feet of our planet. However, lovers have always the right to hurl into space another lamentation: ‘You must not betray me.’ It is better to wrench out of the hand the goblet of love and shatter it in a thousand pieces than to pour into it secretly the poison of betrayal and the wormwood of indifference. Love bursts forth spontaneously from the human heart, and attains all its beauty and strength from the infinite freedom of the horizon in which one moves. The code that governs it is simple as the simplest law of elementary physics: to render love for love, sweetness for sweetness, to give joy to those who make us happy – this is its law. If love was only a contact of hearts and thoughts; if, having ascended to heaven, you did not descend with an angel; if in your embraces you have not rekindled the torch of life, shake hands cordially, bless the happy hours that your love has conceded you, and preserve in the most precious caskets and among the rarest things the memory of the time that was. Never close a day spent in Eden with a blasphemy or a remorse; tears of sorrow can be the dew of a summer’s night that tempers the ardour of the enamoured corollas; but your tears should not be cursed by a lie, a betrayal, an insult. To the only right of fidelity there corresponds a very simple duty, that of making oneself beloved. You could not command love, and by beauty of form or vivacity of wit, by the voluptuous grace of movement or the virtues of the heart you have roused the affection of affections; preserve it,


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and you will be loved forever. At the beginning of every code of love, at the head of every gospel of two lovers, I would always write this sentence: ‘If we are not loved it is always our own fault.’ And in a hundred different forms you will find this sentence written in the pages of my book. Ask the most fortunate of women if she has not often found it necessary to win again a love that threatened to escape. She conceals with jealous care the numberless arts with which she warmed the tepid, aroused the sleeping, caused the weary to smile, and gave hunger and thirst to those who had the happy misfortune to have dined to excess at the banquet of voluptuousness. Man is naturally polygamous, naturally more unfaithful, more brutal, more capricious, more licentious than woman, and it is her duty to make him monogamous, faithful, constantly tender, and modestly virile. If it is true that man attacks and conquers, it is also very true that nature assigns to woman the more difficult task of guarding the acquisition, of being the vestal of the fire that man has generally been the first to kindle. This is perhaps the most common formula that expresses the different mission which man and woman have in love. We kindle the fire, our companion must keep it burning. By all that you hold sacred on earth do not be so brutal as to register the embrace among the rights and duties of love. This is written in the code, and is daily repeated by the Boeotians, for whom love is the union of male and female. Voluptuousness should be the inebriating foam that floats on the trembling wave of passion, and overflows and sinks irresistibly in those abysses where man loses the consciousness of existence and believes in the infinite: it cannot be a feast ordered for a stated hour, much less a tribute exacted with the brutality of a tax collector. No, the embrace is not a right, and much less a duty; it is a unanimous consent of two powerful energies that seek each other through infinite space, and, the one with the other mildly struggling, they become exhausted together in an ocean of sweetness. Sincerity and fidelity, which are identical and constitute the entire code of love, must never be discussed by two lovers, and the words right and duty should be excluded from the amorous vocabulary. Who ever loses his time descanting on the beauties of the sun, and who thinks of doubting the necessity of air to life? When certain things begin to be discussed, it is because they are already in serious danger. I do not fear

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sudden anger between two lovers, nor querulous and tender lamentations; but I have a deep horror of every question of right and duty. When these discourses appear on the horizon, I always see at the same time dark, heavy waves, I behold the horns appearing of Balzac’s tawny moon. I am discussing here only the general base or foundation of the rights and duties of love, the particulars of which you will find in the last chapter of the book, where I have outlined a code on the art of loving and being loved. Are the rights of love equal in man and woman? No, a thousand times no, I proclaim it in a loud voice and after the first white hairs and great experience give me the consciousness that I speak without either anger or love. No, the sin of infidelity is not the same in Adam and Eve; it is in the latter a hundred times greater. Before right and justice all equals are equal, and man and woman differ too greatly to be punished equally. If the code is one, the jury numbers a thousand, the accusers and lawyers are many; and the sentence of amorous betrayal has been pronounced by all civilized nations and always in the same manner. This consent was not dictated by the power of men, who alone were legislators and judges in the forum of public opinion. No, this unanimous consent was dictated by a deep consciousness of the social necessities, by a profound and subtle justice that descends into the viscera of things seeking the roots of that blundering and superficial justice which asserts that all men are equal before the law. The history of the jury, one of the institutions in which our century seems to glory, will suffice to prove the falsity of this dogma. From man society exacts a hundred different and difficult virtues: man must give his blood to the Fatherland and the sweat of his brow to labour for the family and society; he must be strong, ambitious; he must not permit himself to be corrupted by gold nor the seductions of vanity. A physician, he must throw himself into the inglorious and tremendous battle of contagion; a soldier, he must hold his head high in the face of the homicidal fire; a lawyer, he must resist the allurements of gold and ambition; a politician, he must fight against himself, against his family, for the welfare of his country. Defender of the weak, the shipwrecked, the poor, natural defender of the female half of the human species, he is an armed warrior in perpetuity, and if he neglects even one of his duties he is a coward; society despises him, a woman ignores him, no one cares for him.


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Woman, on the contrary, can be a coward in the presence of fire, work, contagion, and in all the battles of life; she can be ignorant and timid and still be loved and esteemed by all; for weakness in her approaches grace, and it is so sweet to take the trembling dove to our bosom and comfort her with our courage, defend her with our strength. And how amusing are even stupid blunders when pronounced by the beautiful lips of a beloved woman! We forgive her all and require only one thing from her: fidelity; we impose upon her only one virtue: fidelity! I pray you, most gentle and divine companions, from which part is the balance hung? Certainly not from our side. Woman may be humble, ignorant; she may tremble at every leaf that moves on the tree and at every insect’s wing that vibrates on the air; but let her be faithful to him who loves her. Gracious to all, she should, however, resist bold glances and the corruptions of gold and vanity; she should be the heroine of sentiment, as we are the heroes of all the battles of life. She is the vestal of our heart and blood. While we are fighting for her in open field, for the name she bears, for the honour of our children, she is guarding alone and faithful the sacred fire of fidelity; she does not let it die out through neglect, nor permit it to be ruined by the hurricane. This is the only virtue we ask of her; is it perhaps too much? What duty has she then? What is the difficult struggle that must give to her also the characteristic mark and make her equal to us, that must render her worthy to be our companion? If she is beautiful and we are strong; if she is graceful and we are witty; for her we have conquered our planet, for her we have ruled the lightning, destroyed the wild beasts, invented the arts, and created sciences. But neither beauty, grace, nor wit is sufficient for the baptism of civilized man; on us there are imposed a thousand dangers, on her but one, that of seduction; we are called to a hundred battles, she has only to conquer the senses; from us there are required a hundred virtues, from her but one faith. Are we then tyrants, are we too exacting with her whom we love so tenderly, for whom we do so much, to whom we dedicate our thoughts, our glories, our dreams, and our labours? No, a thousand times no: modern society is thoroughly just when it exacts from woman much more fidelity in love than from man; it is just when it terms a crime in woman that which for us is only a fault.

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But there is another powerful reason why the duties of love are differently assigned to man and woman. Man, by the special mission which sex imposes on him, is an impulsive aggressor, and can have organic necessities that are unknown to woman, and which he can satisfy with the rapidity of lightning. He, without changing in his love, can have a caprice more fleeting than the lightning flash and which, once disappeared, leaves no trace of itself behind, not even a pinch of ashes. I neither praise nor justify these sudden surprises of the senses, these passing infidelities, but I describe them, because I find them frequently in the aggressive and wanton nature of the virile sex. Woman, on the contrary, must defend herself; and according to this point of view I confess that in love I would prefer to be a woman. Man loses a great part of his energy in the tooth that bites and in the claw that firmly holds the prey. Woman draws in her horns, like the snail in the spires of its labyrinth, and languidly and voluptuously concealed in the foam of her shell of love, she permits herself to be caressed. Woman too can have caprices of the senses, but they are light clouds which scarcely appear when they are dissolved in the azure of the skies, and only become ardent desires when the human claw presses and condenses them. Woman is silent even when she desires: weak in the attack, she is formidable in the defence, and her no has sufficient power to stop and disarm a host of combatants. With much shrewdness she daily defends her weakness, telling us that seduction makes war upon her from every side; while we seek the opportunities to sin. This is one of the most insidious sophisms, but it is also one of the most powerful arguments of defence. Man attacks and assaults simply because he is a man and could not await seduction without condemning himself to be a eunuch and without inverting the most elementary and inexorable laws of nature. And woman would not commit a minor sacrilege in becoming the assailant instead of the assailed, profaning the sex and violating nature in that which it holds most sacred and immutable. Not in vain has nature made the human female a virgin, and denied to us the sad virtue of virginity. The woman who yields to the first amorous pruriency is a Messalina; the man who hurls the first arrow of love is a warrior, who with wise prudence prepares the weapons for the long battle that awaits him. Man commences with yes and I will, woman begins


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and ends with no and 1 will not. The sudden caprice of the senses is in her harassed by so many physical, social, moral and, religious impediments that really she must be more than an Amazon to overthrow them with a single struggle. Everything provokes man to the transient assault, and which perhaps does not scarify the first epiderm of the heart: everything defends woman from these caprices. To yield she must have long fought against nature and society; laws and religions offer her a thousand allies for defence, and not one time in a hundred can she say, without touching the frontiers of prostitution, ‘I had a caprice.’ No one believes in the efficacy of overbearing power, much less woman herself, when she has no need of this faith to justify her own sin. In love, every fault, every crime is possible, even to parricide and incest; but stealth is never possible. Let woman never profane herself nor ruin the often very just cause which she defends, speaking of seduction and violence. Let her speak rather of the irresistible need of vengeance; let her discuss the natural right, because there she is on the soil of truth and justice; let her cry aloud, because I will add a chorus for her in the pages of my book which you will find a few steps further on; let her cry aloud, because in the human organism she is the left side, the weakest, the least honoured, and the oppressed. Let her demand the right to love and to be loved, but never ask for equality of punishment for sins too unlike. Not only according to the reckoning of the natural right does society measure human culpability; but the more the crime generates sorrow, the more it offends human needs, the more severe the punishment. Have you ever thought of the various consequences of a caprice of infidelity, according to the guilt of the man or the woman? For man a caprice of an hour is a stain that tarnishes the bright mirror of a sworn faith, of an immaculate and sublime love: but a few moments afterward, a new kiss, more ardent and pregnant with the pungent aroma of remorse, revives love perhaps more intensely and renders impossible for long years, perhaps forever, another infidelity. The amorous caprice can be a blasphemy that breaks forth from the lips of a saint, but which is immediately washed out by a wave of holy prayer; it is the weakness of a robust courser that stumbles over a stone, but proudly resumes its way and with excited steps gains in speed a hundredfold. The amorous caprice in woman can in a single instant create a bastard, poisoning the

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wave of milk and honey of an entire family; it can sow a generation of fraternal hatreds, of infinite sorrows; it can overflow a vast field, inundating everything with wormwood and gall. In man a stain, in woman a gangrene; in man the wound of a pin, in woman the rottenness of a bone; in man a leaf that falls, in woman a hurricane that uproots a forest; in man an offence, in woman a crime; in man the remorse of an hour, in woman a monument of infamy that time can never efface. O enamoured women, O holy women who have loved much and sinned much, do not think to find in my book a malediction, a blasphemy without redemption. No, society requires from you more certain fidelity and virtue without stain; but it should also concede you the right to love, it should not bind you hand and foot, like an African slave, on the gloomy vessel of an infamous marriage. As the contracts of love are today, which make of matrimony almost always a sworn prostitution, no one has a right to hurl at you the first stone. Your sin is very great, but the truly guilty are the men who create infamous laws, who deny you the first and last right of love, free election. I reserve every malediction, every blasphemy, every condemnation for the men who live, like rapacious vultures, on the carrion that is thrown them from the dunghill of modern civilization; all my contempt, all my disgust is for those who, able to redeem the victim, corrupt her, who kill instead of saving; for those who with impunity taint our society with bastards and adulteries, that live on and enjoy social corruption, even as the louse lives on the filthy juices of the human dunghill. If the law does not interfere with them, it is perhaps on account of the modesty that in the ancient code denied even a place to parricide in the file of crimes. For my part I have placed them below the traitor, the spy, and the assassin, beneath the basest and vilest things that can be termed human; and so they should always be regarded by honest men. To the unhappy woman who sinfully loves because an infamous society denies her love with virtue, I can only repeat these sublime words of Christ: Much will be pardoned him who loves much.

Chapter 22

The Compacts of Love – Aphorisms on Matrimony Love is not only a voluptuousness given and returned, it is not a twisting and untying of instantaneous knots, but a compact between two creatures who, after having given themselves to each other, can in a single instant have created a family, perhaps also a nation. In man love is likewise fecundation, but it is, above all, the interweaving of two existences, a union of new relations, deep modifications of the manner of existence of a man and a woman. Even in the lowest races, where morality is only interest defended by strength, and sacrifice is a stupidity; where there scarcely exist vague phantoms of religious sentiment; where they bury alive the old mother, or celebrate victories and vendettas with a sea of blood; even there love is bound by a compact, silent or sworn. Prostitution is also a compact, that can last an hour, a minute: in any case, the sale and purchase of voluptuousness cannot found a family, a tribe, a people, and even the greatest libertine and the wildest savage feel other needs than that of fecundating a female; they feel the necessity of loving a woman. And to love does not mean to tie the members of two bodies in a single knot, but to possess a long time, to desire, to defend, to protect; it means to hold oneself responsible to nature for the weakness of one creature and the violence of another, for the future of the being whom we have created together and brought into the world. The fecundated woman is for nine months weaker and more vulnerable; the woman who brings forth is a wounded creature; the woman who nurses can neither flee nor defend herself: the man-child is for a long time defenceless and very weak. Hence the man who has loved a companion, even for a day, becomes for a long time the friend and protector, without ceasing to be the lover. This is the simplest form of the nuptial compact, which is found in many low people and which we will

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study in ‘The Loves of Men.’ While the savage female leans affectionately and confidingly on the male who has made her fruitful, he often finds himself still a man when his companion cannot be a woman, and he then fecundates other females, who are added to his possessions and whom he protects with the same devotion and affection with which he protected and defended the first woman he made his own. The very weak man can have but one female, and he must often do without her, because the strong have more than one and the very strong have many, who often dwell in joyous companionship among themselves and without being in the least jealous of one another. A polygamy limited to a few females is the most common form of human society in the lower races, and this custom is so incarnated in our organism that even in the highest forms of civilization, where morality and religion do not lend their valid support, monogamy slips and falls, to give place to a polygamy more or less acknowledged or concealed. We, however, must occupy ourselves only with our European society, where the compact of love has only one moral form, matrimony; while it has various forms that belong to the world of pathology, namely, prostitution, rape, concubinage. We have already considered prostitution: it is the sale of voluptuousness, it is the possession of bodies without love, it is the barter and deceit of nature; for if a new creature is born of a purchased embrace, it enters the world with the mark of infamy on the brow, and, anonymous child of vice, it is cast by society into the most obscure corner of the social vaults, there where lie the things we wish to cancel, forget, or let die. Prostitution is a safety valve, only too often necessary in our immoral society, falsely and wickedly constituted, and it proves with most cruel eloquence that many men cannot love, that very many men should not love. We have also spoken of rape in the house of others; even this greatest of the crimes of love we have been obliged to discuss: secret agreement of two traitors who, in the shadow of a social and holy compact, violate the faith of the family and corrupt the world; vile contract of the thief and the go-between, who in obscurity assassinate and conceal the victim between the wide folds or in the deep fissures of our written laws. Concubinage is a form of matrimony, which lacks only religious and civil consecration. It is more despicable in its origin than in the nature


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of the compact that binds it, since if it lasted eternally, supported only by the word of honour of two creatures who love each other, it would be a true marriage, sealed by the faith of two lovers. Only too often, however, concubinage has an obscure and even shameful origin: it is domestic lechery transformed into a habit; it is a vulgar custom that has a newsprint type and a mustiness of the kitchen or stink of the hospital. Born among Turkish slippers and nightcaps, among after-dinner yawns and the counsels of the hygienist, it is aware of prostitution and rape, but knows neither the inebriation of the former nor the pungent remorse of the latter. It is a vulgar pickpocket who begs pardon of the public and is ashamed of himself and weeps when caught in the act; it is something low, plebeian, and shameful, that does not confess publicly, and hides itself like a wound in a leg or a false tooth; abases love to pygmy proportions, lowers the level of the spouse and elevates the chambermaid; an upstart who can dress well, but reeks of the stable; a despicable creature, tolerated, often even ridiculous. And yet into concubinage fall many priests of a cruel religion, which condemns them to be eunuchs although potent; and therein fail very many celibates who, despising matrimony and adoring independence, slide down, down into this slough of domestic concubinage, which has neither the dignity of matrimony nor the orgies of prostitution; neither the splendours of a passion or a virtue, nor the free intoxication of an easy voluptuousness that is bought and forgotten. And these scorners of matrimony often leave an unpublished fruit of their daily and hygienic expansions, and without having the holy pride to call themselves fathers, they often leave, however, sons whom society justly ignores, because it knows not how to name them. No, I say it frankly and without blushing, prostitution inspires me with the pity which I feel for a moral infirmity of the human family; concubinage disgusts and horrifies me. Before the former I feel myself a doctor and examine the pulse and seek the remedy, before the second I am but an avenging scourger. If the word love means only voluptuousness, if for you love is not a sentiment but a need, why do you not purchase the animal love which you alone understand? Go to the house of ill fame and satiate your thirst; there are wines of every colour and every price: there is a tariff on kisses and a hierarchy for lechery; hurry and help your-

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selves; modern society is ingenious, pitiful, generous. And if, on the contrary, you truly love the one with whom you divide the hidden burdens of daily life, with whom you share bread and bed, why do you not give her the dignity of spouse? Why do you not consecrate love with the compact of an honest and social man? Why do you not give to your children the civil baptism of men? Amphibians of love and guilt, make yourselves fish or men, but be one thing or the other. Thus, as modern society is constituted, concubinage is a vile thing that destroys all dignity of character, that cuts off the last nerves that hold upright the social organism on the wheel of duty, that corrupts all the relations of man to man, of man to woman, of father to son. When one escapes from assuming all moral responsibility; when through sluggishness, or ignorance, or scepticism one abdicates the sovereign primacy of spouse and father, rights that not even the naked and cannibal savage relinquishes, he becomes in modern society a species of preceptor to whom liberty is granted with the agreement to be continually inspected by the police, he is a sort of tolerated brigand who cannot be condemned for lack of proof. A hundred times better prostitution with its degradations and vile infirmities! Public opinion, the laws, books should hang on the pillory of ridicule and opprobrium this bastard compact of concubinage, denying it all assent, consent, and toleration. And women, who can be, even better than the laws, the avengers of these social degradations, should also flagellate these amphibians of love, denying them caresses and esteem, demonstrating to them every hour of the day with cruel art how different are the voluptuous aromas of true love from the daily broths of domestic concubinage. The man of a high race, and who aspires to be called a civilized man, should be monogamous, and cannot consecrate his love with any other compact than that of matrimony. And yet modern society knows how to lend to man a love so perfect as to render matrimony impossible to many, difficult and dangerous to all. But what more? After having reduced it to a pitfall for the ingenuous, society leaves it defenceless to the attacks of all, and makes it, deprived of all free movement, abased and prostituted, a subject of the most childish sarcasms in books and in theatres, and crushes it with ridicule after having wounded it to death in its laws. Matrimony, as it is today in our country, is a corrupt institution which


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must be thoroughly reformed in order to regain its natural dignity. Not in vain have men called in the highest authorities of the human world to witness this compact, religion with its mysterious myths, the law with its oaths; not in vain have they called men and gods to the altar of the most solemn of social compacts. Today the gods have fallen, through decrepitude, from their Olympic seats; religion has been declared destitute of civil authority, and is not called to witness our compacts save by those for whom the name of a god, the administrator of human things, does not sound in vain. The religious ideal died before its time; it died before a successor was born, and matrimony has become a purely civil compact, and very often an infamous agreement. Today the nuptial compact is frequently (according to a great writer) a sworn prostitution: it is a trading of capital and blazonry in the higher class; a factory of proletarians on a vast scale in the lower classes. Today matrimony is one of the most fruitful sources of misfortune; it is a slow poison that kills domestic happiness, the morality of a nation, the economic development of the forces of a country. Matrimony is often a patent which gives free irresponsibility to woman and an easy and unpunished polygamy to man; it is a false mask of virtue, with which they cover the vice of modern society; it is a safeguard which justifies all smuggling of infidelity, all treachery; it is a flag that hides a domestic slave-market, an exchange of easy lechery, or a bigamy tolerated with enviable longanimity by offenders and offended. Matrimony in modern society is the most cruel, the most inhuman parody of faith, of the oath, of eternity. Today the woman is a girl, and for her the slightest fault is a crime; if she should become a mother she would be brought to the public pillory as a wretch; the seducer would be dragged off to the Court of Assizes79 first, afterward to the galleys. Tomorrow she has added to the laws of nature a written law and an oath: her sin must be a hundred times greater, and the seducer should be bound to the tail of four wild horses. Nothing of all this; the links of matrimony are wide, and through the chains one passes comfortably and easily: a virgin, she was punished if she felt herself a woman; a wife, she belongs to all, and under the large wings of a sworn compact

79 The Italian criminal court, which is also the highest court [Editor].

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procurers, seducers, and bastards are friendly welcomed. Modern marriage is a house of prostitution into which one enters without blushing or paying; the proprietor of the sworn brothel opens the door for you himself with a smile on his lips and a warm shake of the hand. Why do you not profit by such a generous providence, and why do you not laud to the skies an institution so moral, so accommodating, so agreeable? Not all European society is as corrupt as ours and that of the French, and the less matrimony has of hypocrisy and barter, the more dignity it possesses. We are immoral even in the nuptial compact, because we have lost the religion of Olympus and we have not yet that of duty; we are deeply immoral in the most sacred family contract, because we are badly trained and ignorant. Vice and corruption are the offspring of ignorance. And still matrimony is the cornerstone of families, and of families nations are formed; the nuptial compact should be the sweetest, holiest, most inviolable bond of human society. What can be hoped from a nation that is no longer religious, and that has substituted a sworn lie for the oath! What can be expected from a society that has made an institution of adultery; from a society for whom the word bastard is no longer a term of infamy? Matrimony should be a free, a very free election, as much for the woman as for the man; it should be the election of elections, the typical election. In our country, on the contrary, it is only the man who selects; woman generally accepts or yields to the choice. It is more out of derision than justification to say that woman has always the supreme right to pronounce a no when kneeling at the altar or seated in front of the legislator. It is the same as to assert that a man, chased by a hundred voracious wolves and driven to the brink of an abyss, is free not to fall therein. Surround an ingenuous maiden with all the solemn armament of paternal and maternal authority, of religious duties and filial duties; cut off all paths of retreat, and urge her on every day, every hour, every minute there where you wish to conduct her; and then tell me that she is free to refuse that which is imposed upon her, which she is entreated to do; then tell me that the timid no, which her little heart pronounces in the depths of her breast, is capable of making itself heard in a chorus of yes, which everybody cries out to her, sings and echoes around her! And even when parents are sincere and believe in good faith to leave to their daughter the free choice of the spouse, how can there ever be a


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true and free election when there is a complete, absurd ignorance of the human world? How can one choose without distinguishing, and how can one distinguish without knowing? Perhaps your daughter has not spoken to ten handsome young men who could love her. It was told her and repeated a thousand times that love was a crime, and around her chaste desires there were erected such catafalques of crime, unheard-of offences, that she scarcely dared to desire and look any man in the face save an old one. And even when, modestly audacious, she wished to look upon men, what would she have known of them? Nothing but the rind. When was she ever able to study a human heart, to distinguish in it the phases of a desire or the hypocrisy of a seduction, to conjugate the various tenses of the verb to love, with a man who told her he adored her; when have you ever left her alone with the omnipotent weapons of her innocence to combat with true love or with hypocrisy, with true passion or with the desire of voluptuousness? And you say that she chooses, that you leave to her free election? Rousseau, who now and then, between a puff of bile and a hysterical declamation, read well and deeply in the human heart, says that in a society where girls are more facile, wives are more virtuous; and this truth is confirmed by the most superficial observation of European and American society. Nor is there any value in the coarse and cynical assertion that in Germany and England, among the coldest people under the heavens, they can permit the contact of Adam and Eve with more impunity. The human passions have much more powerful exciters than latitude and longitude; and in the Argentine republic, there where a southern race loves under a sky beyond the sea, where most beautiful women excite ardent desires in their adorers, in the midst of an easy and thoughtless life, wives are much more virtuous than in our country; because young girls are free, very free in their election, and because they study and know men better than our ignorant young maidens from schools and convents. In that country and in many others, the lack of dowry and the facility to enrich oneself by labour add much dignity to marriage, since prospective husbands do not seek the dowry and brides know they are not sold. Until we give to the young woman a free and wise education so that she may choose well, until we grant her the equal right of election that man possesses, we can never elevate matrimony. The common consciousness

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in two creatures of choosing each other freely and loving each other without any bond of interest, any pressure of authority, prejudice, or ambition, is the sacred stone on which the most splendid temples of conjugal felicity are erected. Neither do I believe in sudden and irresistible loves, nor in the future happiness of two spouses who, without straw to weave the nest, in the open country, amid the frosts of misery, wish to erect a temple to love. No, matrimony is love and should be nothing else than love, but love is naked and wants to be clothed; love is delicate, and wants to be nourished and protected from the winds and frosts; love is fruitful, and should have bread and wine to keep alive the little angels that will bloom in its gardens. All this should be known by our young girls; we should never impose anything on lovers except patience; and this in itself is sufficient to cause many transient desires to vanish, while it invigorates true loves. But in any case and always the election should be free, and to prepare for it the education of our daughters should be more sincere, more frank, less false. Teach your child modesty and personal dignity, and you will see that with such sentiments one rarely enters the fortress you wish to guard. Perpetual diffidence rouses many false alarms, and stirs up in many frivolous and captious natures the desire for revenge. Diffidence always armed gives me, then, a pessimistic idea of the virtue of the mothers; perhaps they remember how poorly they resisted temptation, and try every art to avoid it in order to strengthen the forces that should defend virtue. The free election of woman is much more important in our society, because she is not ignorant of the fact that in marriage she will find an indefinite liberty; perhaps she also divines that, even should she not love the official spouse, she can still love and be loved. When a society is entirely saturated with adultery and hypocrisy, even the chaste and ingenuous maiden is aware of certain things which she dare not acknowledge to herself. And without leaving the domestic nest, perhaps she has more than once repeated to herself, ‘I will not sin, but – I too could sin with impunity.’ Free election is the best guarantee of faith; it is the only touchstone by which are tried the true natural rights of mutual fidelity. No one has a right to cast the first stone at the adulteress if she was dragged, ignorant, to the altar; no spouse can be condemned if she was forced to sign the


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compact like a victim and a slave. If she obeyed through filial pity, swearing on your faith, while you have bound her forever to an ignoble man, then she is cleansed of every sin, and the adultery and misfortunes of the future will fall upon you, who are the truly guilty, the unpunished wretches of modern society. When, on the contrary, two spouses truly love each other, when they have freely clasped hands to pass together through the paths of life, then they alone are responsible for their infidelity, they alone must undergo the shame and misfortune. They can accuse neither paternal authority nor the social laws; they alone have sinned; they alone devour in silence the bitter bread of repentance; society is irresponsible, and washes its hands of them. Have you exchanged desire for love, voluptuousness for passion? Suffer the consequences of your sin. Even beside the easy infidelity born of the limited liberty of election that woman has in matrimony, we have sown in our soil thorns and brambles, of which everyone gathers the part that awaits him as a member of a false and corrupt society. We daily despise the culture of woman and hold it up to ridicule; we forgive her ignorance, puerility, inconstancy, provided she is gay and pretty, provided she plays with expression and dances voluptuously; we adore her, provided she is a pleasing, graceful, and entertaining little animal. From among these nice little animals, formed to our image and likeness, we select one to be our spouse, the mother of our children; and then, when spring has passed, we complain that the plant we cultivated is sterile of fruit. We have trained it to produce flowers, nothing but flowers, and then we lament because it cannot give us some fruit. All the forces of life were used and consumed to bring forth petals, and we are astonished and annoyed at the result of our art; we ask for seeds after we have cut off all the stems of a fecund nature. When the flower of beauty is withered, we would like to have in our companion the cultured friend, the woman who aids us in the struggles of labour and ambition; but the nice little animal was not educated for those beautiful things, and, weeping, she thus replies to our desires, ‘I do not know, I cannot.’ All these reforms, which must elevate marriage, can be introduced only slowly, with the progress of education and customs; with morality improved by means of science and not by fear; by a greater respect for the liberty of woman, who must soon be elevated from the base level in

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which modern civilization has left her until today. However, a reform could be made at once in the laws that govern the nuptial compact, and this is the introduction of divorce. We want divorce because we have a high esteem for matrimony and human dignity; we want divorce in order to tie with a more internal knot the sworn compact between a man and a woman. It is not the ferocity of the laws that moralizes a people, and the punishment of death has never yet prevented a single crime. It is not the written indissolubility that maintains the sanctity of a compact, but the consciousness of having sworn freely. It is an old and vulgar objection that the laws should not provide for the honest, since to do good they need no laws, but for the inconstant and frivolous masses, who are liable to break at every step a compact which is the base of the social order. There where the moth of vice corrodes the parchment of the nuptial compact, the bond is broken against the law and in spite of the law; the children scattered, separated, or tolerated, and the spouses neither united nor disunited, carry off their piece of galley chain, multiplying to infinity concubinage and prostitution. To know oneself free is one of the greatest needs of social man; to feel ourselves free gives us courage for sacrifice and heroism; while a compact which binds eternally, and without any participation of our will, cuts off much dignity and merit from faith. The higher we rise in progress and civilization, the more sensible our neck becomes to every kind of yoke, and although crowned with roses and lined with velvet, the yoke always offends human dignity. Moreover, if psychology and right had not given us a priori ample reason to demand divorce, there would be the wide experience of European society, which has opened in its codes this safety valve, that can liberate two desperate victims and not unbend a single link of the fortunate, born to live happily together. Those communities that have introduced divorce into their code are the most moral and have the highest conception of liberty and human responsibility; and yet very few profit by it, morals are improved, and the intellectual level of a nation is raised. Very few among us today dare to defend divorce with arguments deduced from the happiness of married couples, but many still defend the absolute indissolubility of matrimony as a safe guarantee for the


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children of misfortune. In sterile unions they would find perhaps no difficulty in granting a divorce; before the abandoned and separated children they feel their hearts swelling with pity and dare not vote the salutary reform. This deep sigh which breaks forth spontaneously at the cruel sight of the disunited members of a family is a pitiful weeping, but not a wise pity. The rabid rancours of an unhappy union are daily spasms of the children, and they, reunited like serpents poisoned in a brambled meadow, daily attack and bite each other, and the union is almost that of the executioner and victim, tiger and lamb. And how often the impossibility of divorce, generating concubinage in its ugliest and most disgusting form, gives to the children this joyous spectacle of a father and mother who, hating each other to death, defy each other daily with revengeful anger, and in the family nest profane the sanctity of a compact which the law upholds, but which they have lacerated with horrible torture, the bleeding fragments of which they cast into each other’s faces every day! On the day of divorce the children follow the moral attractions of the elective affinity, and whoever has the most heart assumes the most sacrifice and abnegation; the poor creatures, whom fate denied the supreme joy of feeling themselves embraced by four loving arms at the same time, lament the sad separation but do not blaspheme; they suffer but do not despair. The old family dies, but it expires with dignity and in religious silence: as it is, a hundred families live in a perpetual agony, which is at the same time torture and vituperation, malediction and treachery. Divorce should be written into our laws as soon as possible; happy couples demand it in order to ensure their dignity, offended by a tyrannical bond; unhappy creatures implore it on bended knee, whom misfortune or guilt condemned to the greatest of human tortures, that of a slavery without redemption, a yoke without repose, a scourge without balm, a sorrow without hope. As an appendix to this chapter, I here transcribe some aphorisms which I would like to be read again and again by all who are thinking of taking a husband or wife. I. To marry for hygienic reasons is often the same as to drown oneselfin in order to satiate thirst.

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II. To marry to enrich oneself is a baseness and a fecund factory of horns. III. To marry to impoverish oneself is a stupidity and a crime; to bring proletarians into the world is one of the gravest responsibilities a man can assume. IV. To marry to do something is a stupidity and a most fruitful sowing of horns. V. To marry for the sake of a title is to buy at a very dear price a bauble of no value. VI. To marry in order to get a beautiful woman is to buy at a very dear price a handful of earth, from which one contemplates a sky that belongs to all. VII. To marry in order to possess a beautiful woman is almost the same as to sell one’s birthright for a mess of pottage. VIII. Before marriage it is well to make long meditations before the mirror; very long ones before the money-coffers. IX. Always suppose, before measuring your forces, that your wife is the purest woman in the world; but admit that she can be the most dissolute of chaste women. X. To marry in a dignified manner it is necessary to have double health, double strength, and a double income for that which is absolutely necessary. XI. To have the necessary to take a wife means to have the feet bare and to walk in the snow with a piece of mouldy bread under the arm. XII. Before taking a wife or husband it is well to read at least twice the works of Malthus. XIII. Read again and again the affecting stories of celebrated cuckolds and illustrious bastards. XIV. Read and reread Kempis, Jeremiah, the De virginitate by St Ambrose, and The Physiology of Marriage by Balzac. XV. If a maiden thinks to accomplish a heroic action in marrying an antipathic man in order to make her parents happy, she deceives herself in great part. No authority of a father nor blessing of a mother can take the place of love, and many of these heroines end in becoming adulteresses. XVI. It is not to be wondered at that excellent marriages are rare, because to constitute a perfect union there are needed so many such


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and such rare ingredients that to put them all together would require great ability and an enormous fortune. XVII. The elementary analyses of an excellent marriage have given me the following results: Reciprocal love, ardent, deep, very tenacious Kindness in woman Subtle genius in man Patience in woman Ambition in man Modesty in woman Lechery in man Aesthetic sense in both Riches in both Myopia in woman Jealousy in man Jealousy in woman Grace, reciprocal delicacy (imponderable quantities)

9,000,000 100,500 100,500 150,100 150,200 120,000 180,000 100,000 50,200 20,100 10,300 0,000 000,000 10,000,000

XVIII. To take a husband because a woman should marry in any case is one of the greatest prejudices and very fruitful of evil. XIX. Modern civilization is preparing for woman the sweet possibility of living single and happy. XX. The idea of being bought and sold should be for woman a hundred times more humiliating than that of not finding a husband. XXI. As much for man as woman, to await matrimony is to place much probability of good on the plate of a balance. In this case, that often occurs which is written in the gospel, The last shall be first. XXII. Hastiness in everything that concerns love is the assassination of future happiness. XXIII. Fabius the Temporizer should be the saint to whom parents, lovers, and sweethearts offer their vows in order to attain their frequently different and contrary ends, Wait, wait, wait; this is the virtue of virtues, the art of arts, the secret of secrets.

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XXIV. Waiting cures caprices and strengthens true love; waiting kills false loves and makes the true ones great and noble: to wait means to be sincere, prudent, good, holy. XXV. Matrimony is not a question of love, hygiene, social economy, beauty, sentiment, or similarity of thought alone; it is neither the satisfaction pure and simple of an ardent desire, nor an affair; it is a correct harmony of all these different things. XXVI. Love is the best godfather of matrimony; reciprocal esteem, its most faithful friend. XXVII. The marriage of a very young man or a very old one can have the same filthy and dangerous origin, lechery. XXVIII. The marriage of a young and an old woman is generally a barter; the marriage of two old people is an innocent joke or a pleasing caricature of friendship. XXIX. To unite in matrimony without knowing each other would be a crime if it were not a folly. XXX. To marry in order to save one’s honour is often necessary but always horrible. XXXI. One can never enter the temple of matrimony with impunity through the door of weakness, prostitution, or lechery. One can enter there triumphantly only through the wide gates of love and esteem. XXXII. To make a happy marriage, congeniality of character is much more necessary than harmony of wit. XXXIII. Congeniality of character does not mean identity or resemblance, but a harmony of things which, placed side by side, are united but not subtracted; they form a harmonious or melodious accord, and not discord. XXXIV. The harmonic accords of characters for the happiness of matrimony are much less studied than the musical and gastronomical, perhaps just because they are much more important. Often in the nuptial bed, as in the kitchen, the sweet-and-sour and the aromatic bitter succeed well. XXXV. Never believe in a woman who wants to know your entire past, swearing to love you in any case. To be sincere and frank does not mean to serve at the table of a friend the mud of one’s own shoes. Who has not a little mire on some sole or undersole of his own moral world?


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XXXVI. Women have lost time in being jealous of the past, and you owe them only the present and the future: be, then, sincere but prudent. XXXVII. O woman, before giving the name of husband to the man you love, you should have seen him once, at least, after dinner, and once angry. O man, before making a woman yours forever, you should have seen her once, at least, in her chemise, even were you obliged to abase yourself to look through the keyhole. XXXVIII. In taking a wife or a husband it is generally useless to ask counsel of others so as to enlighten oneself on a difficult problem: if you have a stubborn will, act in your own way, against the judgment of everybody; but if you are wavering between yes and no, you can lose the little will that you possess. XXXIX. To have truly loved him or her whom we have chosen for a companion through life is an antidote against many evils, a supreme comfort in the greatest bitterness, an almost certain impossibility of being entirely unhappy. XL. Men always prefer the curious to the good, the rare to the beautiful; it is perhaps for this reason that in the search for a wife they take care to find the virgin, while above all things and before all things they should seek the woman. XLI. The widower generally makes an excellent husband, so women easily pardon him a dozen extra years. XLII. The same cannot be said of the widow; in her, no matter how good she may be, one can always taste the spices in the warmed-over soup. XLIII. Beyond the second edition, marriages belong to the history of mummies and fossils. XLIV. If you love beauty, remember that the most lasting is in the eye, the frailest that of the lips and the tint of the skin. XLV. If you love virtue, remember that the first virtue of all in matrimony is a sweet kindness, a tender and impassioned kindness. If you admire wit, remember that the most precious is that which you yourself discover in the mind of the beloved one, not that which belongs to the public. There are unbearable great men, there are enchanting procuresses.

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XLVI. Man, fear above all things the coquette; she will sin a hundred times more than the wanton. XLVII. Woman, fear the idle man; he will kill you with nausea. XLVIII. Men who wish to be happy, fear the gossiping woman, the bigoted woman, the woman who talks too much of her virtues and her dowry. XLIX. Women who wish to be happy, fear those men who talk too much of their horses, their blazonry; fear Don Juan, but still more Tartuffe. L. Never marry the daughter of your sweetheart, especially if the latter is yet alive.

Chapter 23

Fragments of a Code on the Art of Loving and Being Loved When an artist has given the last touch of the brush to his picture; when the sculptor has given the last, the most amorous caress to his statue, I do not think that all the sighs, all the pulsations of art are on the canvas or in the marble. On the palette, in that little chaos of tints many sublime aspirations have remained as in a limbo of future fecundity; and in the white marble dust the sculptor has left many incomplete ideas, many germs of future beauty. And thus it is with a writer: having reached the last page of his book, he knows not how to detach himself from the work which he has loved so well, and among the tools of his laboratory he too finds scattered here and there germs that he knew not how to fecundate, abortions which he could not finish, phantoms that glided from his hand in his handling too impetuously the plastic clay of his thoughts. I do not know if all writers experience this feeling, but it certainly occurs to me in every one of my works. To scatter those germs, to destroy those larvae, always seemed too cruel to my paternal hand, and lovingly I collect and arrange them, like the savage maiden who, roaming through meadows and forests, makes a booty of seeds and flowers to weave them into a necklace for her fine brown throat. Neither the aphorisms nor the mosaics or fragments of codes with which I have concluded several of my books were placed together by me to obey an irresistible aphoristic requirement of my genius, nor for the avaricious pleasure of preserving jealously all that was mine. It seemed to me that, besides the symmetrical interior of the book made after a preconceived plan, traced by that architect of ink called an author; it seemed that to leave to the reader, besides the work, a maiden fistful of that first material from which the little or great creation called a book has been excavated, might be useful to all. Among the atoms of that germinative and fecund matter, the reader can find many seeds which perhaps belong

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to him, and which he can cultivate and raise to a robust plant. In that chaos, the property of everybody, the interweaving of the thought of the writer with that of the reader seems to become warmer, more intimate. A book that aspires to live and to enter into the veins of a generation, or to pour out at least a drop of its blood, must be a long, warm, affectionate shake of the hand which the author gives to the reader; and you know that two hands which unclasp, in the last moment leave a deeper imprint of their contact. Now then, this last chapter is the last handshake which I give to you, reader: I. It is our own fault if we are not loved: this dogma is eternal as the world, ancient as man, immutable as the laws which govern the physics of the universe. II. Everyone receives precisely the quantity of love he merits. III. On the scales of love, beauty can balance genius, affection, heroism, adoration. IV. To say to him who loves, ‘Be just,’ is to utter the most ridiculous and insensible joke in the world, since one of the most essential characteristics of love is injustice. V. Love is the boldest, most powerful, most irresistible, most colossal of injustices. Independent of truth, virtue, gratitude, the written laws, love casts its favours to the first-coiner, to the most superior as to the most inferior of creatures. VI. The mother has brought forth, nursed, and nourished for twenty years with kisses and caresses a gentle creature; she has breathed with her, slept with her; with her she watched during the long nights of sorrow, with her she enjoyed the festivals of life. Mother and daughter have been united heart with heart, skin with skin, thought with thought during all the millions of minutes that pass in a fifth of a century. Now then, one fine day that rosy angel of twenty meets on the path of life a pair of black moustaches, carried about with a pair of trousers; and those moustaches and those trousers make a tabula rasa of twenty years of love; the maternal sun is eclipsed, frozen, timid in the presence of the most cruel, the vilest injustice. VII. Speaking of love, use even the most polyglot of vocabularies, but never pronounce the word injustice, because it would be sheer nonsense.


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VIII. We enter the temple of love through many doors, and by stooping we can also get through the low and narrow one of gratitude. Compassionate loves are, however, generally affections of organic vice, of original sin; they are scrofulous children cured with iodine and salt baths. IX. In any case, it is a hundred times better to accord a love through gratitude than to implore it. It is always preferable to be a creditor than a debtor. X. There are loves sown in the furrow of reason, manured by prudence, daily refreshed with habit. They are little plants erect and healthy which bear flowers and fruits; but these flowers and these fruits are really the product of love. XI. Few healthy men die without having possessed a woman, many die without having loved. For them love is like hunger and thirst; it only differs in this, that instead of being appeased with bread and wine it is satisfied with a human female. XII. The sky of Italy is not less serene nor less splendid after long days of clouds and thunderstorms. Thus it is with love: if it is true love, it cures the gravest and most bloody wounds; it can rise from the slumbering ashes; it can die a hundred times and be born again as often. If it cannot accomplish these miracles, it will be friendship, lechery, but not love. XIII. O lovers, fear not tempests, cyclones, thunderstorms; fear not the dagger, poison, the earthquake. If you wish to preserve your fire eternally, the gems of your treasure always sparkling, fear a little insect, the most formidable enemy of love: the moth of weariness. XIV. To love for an hour is natural to every animal; to love for a day is natural to every man; to love for a lifetime belongs to the angels; to love for a lifetime and one creature only is of the gods. XV. The animal man is polygamous; the manly man, monogamous. XVI. Nature has made man polygamous; it is the sublime mission of woman to make him monogamous. XVII. Contemporaneous loves are hypocrisy, lechery, cynicism, or simony: not one of them is true love. Successive loves can be all sincere, all ardent, all divine. XVIII. To say that in life we can love but once is to utter one of the greatest affronts of which love is daily guilty.

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XIX. Those who have often loved are really embarrassed to tell which was the first, the true love. To extricate themselves from the difficulty, they should imitate the naturalists when confused in their classifications; they should follow the chronological or alphabetical order. Then the most ardent love is the most ancient or that which begins with A. XX. To free love from thorns and thistles, to heal its wounds, to restore it, ennoble it, make it sublime, the fecund nest of joy and gymnasiarch of virtue, one thing alone will suffice, a little sincerity. XXI. In love, homicide is a venial sin; a shock is a mortal offence and a sacrilege. XXII. When insult can kill love, it is because selfishness was greater than love. XXIII. How often love is only selfishness seasoned with lechery! XXIV. He who in a hurricane complains of a windowpane spattered with mud resembles him who in nature seeks the bug and the excretion; both are like him who in amorous storms sticks with a pin an unhappy speech or an insolent gesture so as to preserve them in the domestic museum of rancour. XXV. For love there is no stain, no baseness, no degradation. It is a light that brightens all things; it is a heat that melts every ice; it is a sweetness that destroys all bitterness. XXVI. Every contact of male and female is indecent when not excited by love; every lust is modest in the shadow of the great wings of love. XXVII. It is not modesty, virtue, nor the immodest doctrinal treatises of the casuists that mark the frontiers of honesty and dishonesty between man and woman; they are traced with the sure and infallible hand of love. XXVIII. The woman we love is always an angel: she is mother, sister, daughter, wife. The woman we do not love is only a female, even were she as beautiful as the Fornarina,80 as plastic as the Venus de Milo. XXIX. From the moment in which a man and a woman have pronounced together these sweet words, I love you, they unconsciously become the priests of a temple in which they must guard the sacred fire of desire. To keep it alive is the great secret of loving eternally. 80 The subject of a famous painting by Raphael (c. 1518) [Editor].


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XXX. In love, desire is a little bird from the nest given into the hand of a child; he handles it so much and gorges it with such a quantity of food that the little bird dies. XXXI. Lechery is sometimes the mother of love, but more frequently its executioner. XXXII. ‘I love you always, I love you always the same.’ Another boast of lovers, another falsehood of the most lying century in the history of the human family. We always love differently; and every day, every hour of the day, and every minute of the hour, love is transformed and changed. XXXIII. He who believes that two kisses resemble each other, that two caresses are equal, has never even read the alphabet of love. XXXIV. They will see you – They have seen you – They will see us – They have seen us; four successive scenes that alternate eternally in the great comedy or in the great tragedy of love. XXXV. The handshake is the last, the most intense salutation of friendship; it is often the first step in the conquests of love. XXXVI. The hand lies much less frequently in love than the lip or the eye; even the most deceitful woman does not mistrust a shake of the hand, because she believes that act the most innocent of expressions. XXXVII. He who does not know the language of a hand that presses is worthy neither to love nor to be loved. With it the most simple woman in the world knows how to say, ‘Stay’ or ‘Go’; with it she can say, ‘I have loved you – I love you – I will love you.’ XXXVIII. How often and in how many ways a woman can say to us with her hand the tremendous word perhaps. XXXIX. Love, like the sun and all the great things of human thought and of the world, rises and sets between two crepuscules, the perhaps of hope and the perhaps of remorse. XL. Love is a flower, matrimony a fruit; but floriculture and horticulture are twin arts, and their interweaving is a delightful combination. XLI. ‘Which will you have, a rose or a fish?’ As stupid a question as ‘Do you prefer a lover or a husband?’ XLII. Matrimony is the Appert’s Preserves of love. XLIII. In your love have ever the least selfishness possible, but always suppose in the love of others the greatest selfishness possible. In this way you will neither wound nor be wounded.

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XLIV. The criminal code of every nation has many crimes and transgressions, and infinite forms of punishment. The code of love has but one crime, the lie; it has only one punishment, death. XLV. Many people wonder how it is that with only seven notes our musicians have been able to reach torrents of harmony; how with only twenty-six letters of the alphabet men express millions of thoughts. I find the thing very simple, because love with only three notes can create infinite worlds of passion and voluptuousness. XLVI. The three notes are to desire, to possess, to regret. How many combinations, how many variations on these three notes! XLVII. Desire is, for the generality of men, a glass that one empties; for the more fortunate few it is a sea with ebb and flow; for the elect of the paradise of love it is an eternal wave of the stream that flows on and on and never stops; the water pursues the water, and the movement never ceases. XLVIII. Among the masses of lovers, desire generates love and love kills desire; among the elect, love is the son of a desire and the fecund father of a thousand and new desires. XLIX. All those who ask themselves why they are alive, all those who blaspheme life, have never loved or have loved too much. L. He who has loved and been loved, even for a day, has no right to curse life. LI. Love in all its problems of quantity easily persuades us that the chemical balance is a very coarse instrument. LII. The supreme voluptuousness of love demonstrates to us what a crude instrument a chronometer is for measuring certain minutes more infinite than the universe, shorter than a lightning flash. LIII. The joy of joys, the delirium of deliriums, the intoxication of intoxications, the gem of gems, the treasure of treasures, the infinite of the infinities is always love. LIV. There is no hunger that bread cannot appease; no thirst that fountains and cellars cannot silence; no lechery of the palate that the art of the cook cannot flatter; but love, even after a life of loves, dies thirsty, and we all die with a virgin capital of passion, which we leave, perhaps, as an inheritance to our sons. LV. Lasciviousness is to love as fire is to the sun.


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LVI. Few men have seen love naked, perhaps because they are not worthy to see it. LVII. Men and civilization cover love with new garments, new varnish, new plaster, studying to conceal degradation. LVIII. Nature is always naked, innocence is always naked: at every violation of virtue, at every stain of innocence, man throws a new veil over the statue of love. LIX. No creature is more modestly covered than innocence in a chemise; no one is more naked than a courtesan who places between the world and the skin twenty strata of linen and of thirst. LX. Conceal voluptuousness: the sweetest and holiest prudency of virtue. Feign voluptuousness: one of the most obscene lies of vice. LXI. To possess does not mean to love, much less to be loved. The senses have their needs and their caprices, and in order to have free access to the sacred temple they disguise themselves with the garments of love. LXII. They say that the cold shower bath is a sovereign remedy for many evils; I know, however, that if it falls in the form of icy words on the flame of love, it can cause death. LXIII. Love, the son of a warrior always armed, fears not violence, but it detests brutality. To understand where one begins and the other ends is one of the greatest secrets of the art of love. LXIV. Many wiseacres in the art of love are accustomed to concentrate all precepts in this one: ‘Dare!’ People of little intelligence! It is the same as to say to him who would cross a torrent, ‘Jump!’ Before daring and jumping we must measure our courage and how far our legs can reach. To go beyond the mark is the same as not to reach it. LXIV. Woe to you if after audacity you should manifest cowardice. You would lose in an instant all that you have gained. LXVI. If you have remorse, digest it alone. Nothing is less gallant, more vile than to invite your companion to ruminate with you the sins of yesterday. LXVII. After rashness we must be calm and serene; we must show that strength has become right. LXVIII. To prepare the mechanism, combat the attritions, weaken resistances, and show that the machine moves of itself is the art of every famous mechanic.

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LXIX. Men daily avenge themselves for many refusals by calumniating woman; but the fact remains that it is easier to conquer a hundred men than one woman. LXX. To conquer man, a mediocre beauty suffices, or a certain formation of the body; to be a woman is often enough. For a woman to be conquered, she must above all things be pleased. LXXI. To please a woman is a phrase that expresses the sum of a hundred virtues and a thousand artifices. LXXII. The lowliest of chambermaids can in five minutes conquer an Apollo Belvedere or a crowned king. Apollo can be refused by a prostitute. This is the true greatness of woman. LXXIII. Man or woman, never cause your companion to blush without chasing away the blush with a kiss or a caress. It is a wound light or serious, but which can be healed only by the assailant. LXXIV. O woman, do you wish to be loved? Be beautiful: beautiful in body, in heart, or in mind. You are in the world of the living the vestal of form, the sacred guardian of seeds, you are the web of life; you must be beautiful. LXXV. Man, do you want to be loved? Be strong in muscle, in brain, in rashness of passion, or in the flash of genius. The woman who admires is in the vigil of love. Nature has made you the defender of the family, the rouser of latent forces; it has made you a soldier destined to love and to live; you must be strong. LXXVI. Men are caught like flies in the battles of love, with the hand, with milk, with bird-lime, with the smoke of a thousand burned substances, but especially with that of incense. There is no need of art or books to teach this easiest of easy things. It is much more difficult to catch a mouse, because there must be a trap made ad hoc; while to catch a man a woman’s old shoe often suffices. LXXVII. Women, like great fortresses, are taken only by hunger or assault, after you have made the breach with the strongest artillery. LXXVIII. To leave a woman’s poor heart without the bread of friendship, the wine of voluptuousness, the air of love, and to persuade her that you have in your fist bread, wine, air, and water: this is called taking a woman by hunger. LXXIX. To seduce the senses, to fascinate the fancy, to conquer the faculties of the mind one by one; to open the breach with all the


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formidable artillery of human passions is called taking a woman by strategy or tactics. LXXX. It is much easier to take a fortress by surprise than a woman. When one thinks the conquest has been made by surprise, the woman has been possessed, but without love. The senses of woman are in the vanguard and can easily be turned aside by a stroke of the hand; but the heart has too many sentiments, and it is not conquered without a siege and a strong and continual bombardment. LXXXI. The woman taken by a surprise of the senses has always the right to say to her assailer: ‘You have possessed me, but I have not loved you. The flag is torn, but it still exists, I am not yours.’ LXXXII. The possession of a female is for man, as for an animal, a physical act which we do not dispute; but woman is morally ours only when she has given us her heart, and this is never taken by surprise. LXXXIII. Even after has been the surrender prepared by hunger or by the breach, woman needs a last and more vigorous assault if she is to be conquered. She yields only after having burned the last cartridge, after having beheld the last redoubt crumble under the last stroke of the last cannon. She always comes forth from the fortress in flying colours, with weapons and baggage. Her surrender is always honourable. LXXXIV. No fortress in Europe can boast of never having been taken by assault, by hunger, or by treachery; many and weak women have resisted the most fiery assaults; and man avenges himself, saying she is a weak creature! Three times a liar! LXXXV. The women who are the most easily won are the most difficult to keep, and vice versa. LXXXVI. To preserve the love of a man or a woman it is necessary, after having won it, to win it again every day. LXXXVII. Salt is a great preserver of meats and loves; and to the many who lose love, I am accustomed to repeat, ‘A little more salt!’ LXXXVII. Studied absences are a good antiseptic to preserve love; but much prudence is required in order not to obtain the opposite effect. Absences might be compared to pruning in the art of gardening: an opportune cutting strengthens the plant, an excessive cutting kills it. LXXXIX. Woe to the woman who satisfies all the desires of a man in a year, a month, a day! Two lovers, two spouses should die without having emptied the last drop of the goblet of love.

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XC. The tradition of St Ursula and the Eleven Thousand Virgins was wrongly interpreted by learned men and historians. It signifies that the virgin encloses within herself an infinite legion of minor virgins, who wish to be loved and won in turn. XCI. The tonic and antiseptic value of absence can be appreciated only by men and women who have a heart. To the men who are won with the hands and the women who are bought, the ancient proverb may be applied, Out of sight, out of mind. XCII. Never mistrust your companion in love, but, on your part, never give him occasion to sin. XCIII. Indifference and contempt as weapons of seduction must be handled with the finest art, and they find no support where a certain energy of will and a good dose of pride are lacking. XCIV. To simulate infidelity in order to rouse love is like blistering and cauterizing: excellent means when the capacity of reaction still exists in the organism, when the healing forces of nature are still vigorous. To adopt them at the last hour is a useless torture. XCV. The artifices of coquetry for arousing love succeed well when concealed and practised by a master hand. When they reach the form of a philtre, they hear the enchantress a mile away, and there is danger that the artificial heat conceals a deathly ice, that the false appetite hides dyspepsia. XCVI. Love is, in the physical and moral world, the force of forces, the health of health. He sins grievously who curses love after having experienced its delight. The last sigh of expiring voluptuousness should be a benediction to life. XCVII. Woe to the woman who shows a superior knowledge concerning certain things. The man wishes to be the teacher and not the disciple of his companion. XCVIII. In virtue, in beauty, in coquetry, in voluptuousness, that is delightful which is neither too little nor too great, too sweet nor too tart, neither ostentation nor ingenuity: a just, mean, pungent, prurient glimmering. XCIX. Infidelities for the sake of revenge are pretexts to sin, compromises of conscience; they are plants that grow in a soil where love is already dead. C. Study as long as you will the chemistry for the soil and the art of agriculture, but to reap you must sow. He who sows much and well generally reaps in the same proportion.


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CI. The libertine is often like the soldier surprised without weapons and with an empty stomach; the chaste man is like the soldier who is always on the alert. CII. Love has forms so varied and opposite that it can be great, sublime, noble, as well in the garments of a slave as in the mantle of a tyrant. CIII. To have a penetrating and mysterious glance is a bill payable at sight, is to possess the best qualities of a conqueror. CIV. Woman is for man always a?; and man, in turn, is for woman an x: how many loves are born to answer the ? to solve the x! CV. If in love all the ? were changed into! how many happy creatures this world would contain! CVI. One can be jealous without love; one can love without being jealous. CVII. All the analyses of love, all the alchemies that divide it into platonic and sensual, belong to the stem of putrefaction. CVIII. Platonic love is a part of love, lust is a part of love; when put together they are all love. CIX. One can love platonically for life, as one can be a great man without ever having won a battle, invented a machine, or written a book: but in the one case and the other humanity has the right to ask, A quoi bon? CX. To reawaken love twenty years after its death is a sin against nature; it is the lechery of the grave-digger; it is a taste very similar to that of him who eats putrefied woodcock. CXI. To heal the wounds of the heart with voluptuousness is one of the sweetest, most infallible cures, in which it is difficult to say which is most to be envied, the physician or the patient. CXII. To love with avarice is one of voluptuous tortures of maturity; to love basely, one of the greatest degradations of old age. CXIII. And who is not vile in love, who has not been so at twenty? CXIV. To place a great fortune at the feet of a poor woman is one of the greatest glories of man; to sell oneself to lecherous riches, the greatest of human degradations. CXV. The woman who sells herself to man is to be pitied; the man who sells himself to a woman should be crushed underfoot.

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CXVI. The beautiful woman is usually jealous of the witty woman, while illustrious women are often jealous of their chambermaids. CXVII. Jealousy is the most bestial, the most foolish, the most ridiculous, the most cruel, the most imbecile of human passions. CXVIII. The happiest, the most honest, the most perfect of lovers is he who at the close of his life can say, ‘I have never caused sorrow to any woman; I have sown a thousand joys, and not one of them has generated a pang of remorse.’ CXIX. Our false modern society has written in its code infamous and cruel punishments in order to defend the modesty and innocence of woman, and it has sown in all paths of life so much impunity in order to defend its vices, as to render every infamy lawful to man, to disarm woman of all weapons. CXX. Each white hair on the head of man is an expiring desire; on the head of a woman it is an arrow that is becoming blunted. CXXI. To pretend that a prudent marriage generates love is the same as to sow pumpkins and wish them to produce melons. CXXII. Great lovers are often tired, but in their weariness there is no shadow of disgust. CXXIII. One of the greatest miracles of love is to behold a new and stronger desire arise from spent voluptuousness. Love is an insatiable thirst: love is the ocean that no one can empty: while the sun steals away a single wave, a hundred streams pour into it thousands. CXXIV. Misery and love, suffering and love, prudence and love, nausea and love, cold and love: impossible combinations, the greatest incompatibilities found in nature. CXXV. In love it is better to receive one kiss more and one letter less. CXXVI. Women write their love letters very well, but all these together are not worth one of their glances, one of their smiles, one of their sighs. CXXVII. If fewer letters were written, how much less remorse, how much less disillusion, how much more happiness! I think that ink is the greatest poison of love. CXXVIII. The woman who weeps without a known cause is the solitary bird who, single, invokes a love. CXXIX. There are tears that mean wait. There are others that signify enough. We must know how to distinguish them.


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CXXX. It is vile to taunt a lover with the joys and voluptuousness that have been accorded him. It is the same as to boast of being an egotist. CXXXI. In love at twenty, one travels a mile in a hundred days; at forty, one makes a hundred miles in a day. CXXXII. At sixteen and at fifty, love is requested in the same way – that is, as an alms. CXXXIII. To render a rival ridiculous is the most pitiful and surest way to kill him. CXXXIV. Ask nothing, obtain all: here is the most precious secret of great loves and of refined coquetry. CXXXV. Coquetry is the most faithful and most perfect imitation of love in nature. CXXXVI. To scrape off the hundred coats of varnish and the thousand disguises with which modern society has covered love is one of the most sublime missions of moral and civil philosophy. CXXXVII. To give much, to give very much, but never to give all: this is for woman the most precious secret of being loved for a long time. CXXXVIII. The two sexes give each other lessons in love with an affecting exchange. The youth learns them from the woman of thirty, and the man of forty teaches them to the young girl. CXXXIX. There is a more mathematical, more inexorable, more just leveller than death: it is love. CXL. Love is the only precious thing which with money we cannot buy. That which is acquired with gold is lechery. CXLI. Youth is the most beautiful metal in which to set the gems of love. CXLII. The young peach tree bears many peaches; the old peach tree bears few fruits, but they are always fresh. Thus it is with love: we love in every age, and each one loves with his own organism; but in youth it is much, in old age little. CXLIII. The shake of the hand is to the caress as the kiss is to x. CXLIV. The embrace is, for very many, all of love; for him who knows how to love truly it is the safety-valve which prevents destruction. CXLV. Love should always be a choice, an exaltation of the excellent over the better, of the better over the good; it should be the incarnation of an immortal hope, of an inextinguishable desire.

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CXLVI. If all were sons of love, everybody would have it for his child. CXLVII. In Italy they love more and better than in any other part of the world, because it is the country of beauty and art. CXLVIII. To obtain nothing, to suffer always and always love: one of the daily miracles of love. CXLIX. To see everything with closed eyes, to see nothing with open eyes: other daily prodigies of love. CL. To make love reason is to wish to solve the problem of the squaring of the circle. CLI. To be ugly and to be loved: the greatest human voluptuousness. CLII. To be loved and to betray: the vilest of crimes. CLIII. To preserve the hair, the ribbons, the thousand relies of the beloved object is, perhaps, idolatry; but idolatry is the principal part of every religion. CLIV. It is a pity we cannot bottle love as we do wine; that we cannot preserve it as we do mushrooms; that we cannot embalm it as we do rare birds! What a knave would be extracted from each process of mummification! CLV. He who must sacrifice himself to lechery to prove a passion should be relegated to Boeotia or among the eunuchs. CLVI. Women, after having read a book, admired a statue, a picture, or a poem that treats of love, always draw a long sigh, exclaiming, ‘All this is not love; man knows nothing of love save lechery!’ It is well to let our companion cherish the innocent pretension that she alone possesses the patent of love. CLVlI. Woman is so accustomed to sacrifice that she would have us believe that even on the altar of love she sacrifices herself to us. CLVIII. To inquire into the origin of amorous caprices is one of the most stupid of human imbecilities. CLIX. Many die virgins in this world; no woman dies who has not conjugated at some time or other the verb to love. CLX. The world of love has an Olympus of heroes, martyrs, and saints to discredit the paradise and the pantheon of all nations. CLXI. To be the unconscious medium of another’s love is certainly ridiculous; but it is perhaps more ridiculous and humiliating to serve as an entr’acte between two loves.


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CLXII. Many writers, who never visit the countries of the torrid zone, nevertheless assign love to the tropics, perhaps because love and the tropics are very hot things; but they certainly did not think to affirm such an undeniable truth. Not only is it very hot in both places, but there are found in both the crocodile and the rattlesnake, the drug that irritates and exalts and the opium that induces slumber, the tiger and the hummingbird; there life is short and ardent, and the yawn is long that follows the brief intoxication. CLXIII. No matter how science advances, love will always remain an art; no matter what heights genius attains, love will always have stronger wings than genius; no matter what happiness riches and glory can confer upon man, the supreme joys of life will always be given by LOVE. the end


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From On the Hygienic and Medicinal Properties of Coca and on Nervine Nourishment in General

a memoir awarded the dell’acqua prize in 1858 Lhe dava a verde folha da herva ardente Que a seu costume estava ruminando. (Camoëns, Canto vii, l. 58.)1

Introduction: A Classificatory Sketch of the Nervine Foods Man, in his use and abuse of life, feels the continual need to repair through nourishment his molecular wear and the expenditure of forces that constitute his mode of being. Some of the substances which he takes from the outer world help him to repair in particular the tissues that regularly fray apart in the exercise of their vital actions, and they are called plastic nutrients; while others, made for calorification, are burned by the oxygen breathed into the vast web of all the organs, or are deposited in the form of adipose in cellular tissue, where they serve as spare fuel, and they are given the name respiratory nutrients. To these two classes of nutritive substances, established some time ago by the illustrious Liebig,2 I

1 He gave him the burning green herb leaf he was wont to chew. From Os Lusíadas (The Lusiads, 1572), an epic poem by the Portuguese poet and soldier Luis Vaz de Camoëns (1524–80), telling the story of the explorer Vasco da Gama and incorporating much Portuguese history [Editor]. 2 Justus von Liebig (b. 12 May 1803 in Darmstadt, Germany; d. 18 April 1873), one of the most influential chemists of the nineteenth century. He radically changed the teaching of chemistry, by shifting from a philosophical approach to an experimental, laboratory-oriented methodology. In the field of applied chemistry, Liebig remarkably


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should like to add a third, namely the nervine nutrients, whose purpose is to heighten the action of the nervous system in all its various attributes. Needless to say, we should not take this classification of foods very strictly; as ever, it is impossible to do so in the area of physiology and pathology. For here the elements, the phenomena, the functions cross and overlap so frequently and so intricately that it becomes all but impossible to separate even two things without mishandling or destroying them. The analyst’s scalpel, however skillfully and penetratingly it moves over the fabric of life, cannot help but leave some droplet of blood as proof that what was cut into formed a whole. Life cannot be understood in its truth except by considering it in its entirety and in infinitely small moments; whereas studying a single phenomenon across time, although it may be highly useful work and, alas, all too necessary for weak human nature, distracts from the truth and at every step creates artificial distinctions, which we ultimately believe to be facts of nature. For this reason I would like to see banished forever from our science the words for systems, classes, genera, and species, which are at once overambitious and impotent; we should leave them to the exact sciences which, more fortunate than our own, rest upon solid terrain that allows them to draw straight lines with a mathematical hand. We must be content to classify physiological and morbid phenomena, and many others of secondary importance, in families, which bring together the most similar facts without claiming to imprint upon them an indelible mark that would make them recognized by all, infallibly different from other facts: and just as in human families we find closely similar individuals, less similar ones, and seeming interlopers, so it is with our divisions – in which we must never search for a scientific system, but only a thread to guide us through the dark, intricate path of our studies. All we have said thus far is amply confirmed in the case of foods. No nutritive substance is entirely plastic, respiratory, or nervine. Muscle tissue, no matter how thin, always contains the sugar of flesh, which is a respiratory enhanced food production thanks to the development of mineral fertilizers, as emerges from his two volumes Organic Chemistry in Its Application to Agriculture and Physiology (1840) and Organic Chemistry in Its Application to Physiology and Pathology (1842). Liebig was also distinguished for his commitment to the diffusion of the benefits of chemistry to the lay population, a mission of scientific popularization that Mantegazza would take on with equal passion [Editor].

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food; bread contains amylaceous and proteic elements; cocoa, which is a nervine food, contains a material that can aid breathing, and so on. In dividing foods into these three families, we should content ourselves with reuniting them into natural groups that serve to indicate their most important physiological function; and if science has admitted a clear distinction between the plastic and the respiratory, it cannot also refuse to admit the nervine. These foods are distinguished by the following salient characteristics: 1. They almost invariably act in small quantities, and their action depends more on their nature than their mass. 2. They are consumed only by humans, who possess a more complex nervous life than all other animals. Among these fellow animals, those closest to us in intelligence may like these foods when introduced to them in their domesticated state. Monkeys, parrots, and even dogs often take to coffee and tea; but in their wild state they never instinctively seek out these substances. 3. In the various ages of life their consumption is always proportionate to the cerebral-spinal axis. A baby is content with milk, which to date is not known to contain any nervine nourishment; a child must consume coffee and wine in great moderation and generally feels no need of either. An adult man, at the height of his nerve functions, may consume all nervine foods in careful abundance. 4. A man needs them more than a woman because his brain and his muscles are more active. 5. Civilized man needs and enjoys these foods more than the savage, and in the brilliant deployment of his intelligence may in a single day consume the fermented juices of the vines of Vesuvius, the misty beer of England, the cocoa of America, and the tea of remote China. 6. The stomach, under the immediate action of these foods, creates a peculiar feeling of well-being and rebels against any diet that completely excludes them. Raspail,3 insistently drawing physicians’ attention to the usefulness of fragrant condiments, has rendered a true service to

3 François Vincent Raspail (b. 25 January 1794 in Carpentras, France; d. 7 January 1878 in Arcueil, near Paris). He began his professional career as a self-taught botanist and chemist and later became a nationally renowned hygienist. He wrote the very successful Manuel annuaire de la santé, which was followed by his Histoire naturelle de la santé (1843).


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science, once one has pardoned his helminthomania.4 Children and women can feel well for some time on a diet of milk and fruit, but an adult man almost always rebels against it. The sheer drowsiness and dullness of sensation that follow a drink of milk are at the root of this. When milk is heated, this effect is less perceptible, since the heat imparts a stimulating effect that utterly vanishes when wine is added. In this regard, the café au lait dreamed up by a woman of high standing in France is a culinary and hygienic discovery of the first order, for it offers, combined in one pleasant, easily digested form, the three families of foods. The casein represents the plastics, the sugar of the milk and butter supply the respiratory materials, and the coffee stimulates the nerves as one of the principal nervine foods. This drink even contains the salts our skeleton requires. So it is not by mere habit and fashion that some four-fifths of the inhabitants of Europe and America breakfast upon milk mixed with tea, coffee, or chocolate. 7. The nervine foods are almost all absorbed very quickly, and once they enter into the eddy of circulation, at every point in our organism, they stimulate the various regions of the nervous system. Some, indeed, are apparently absorbed without prior digestion, enabling the foods to quickly repair the use of the nerve force. Just as a farmer returning from the field craves nothing so much as a glass of wine, the traveller in South America, after a gallop of fifty miles or more in the pampas, is courteously handed a cup or gourd of mate on the rancho. Once the organism has quickly been strengthened by alcohol or caffeine and by the aromatic properties of mate, the stomach is better disposed to patiently await the more solid, long-lasting restoration of the plastic and respiratory foods. 8. The nervine foods pass unmodified into our organism or undergo further transformations. This is an area in which physiology eagerly awaits fresh illumination from chemistry. Some of these foods, from the wealth of hydrogenic-carbonated properties they contain, have

Like Mantegazza after him, Raspail reached out to people, especially the lower classes, in highlighting the importance of public health measures for a better life. A supporter of microscopes for the study of tissues, he is considered one of the founders of cell theory (Essai de chimie microscopique, 1830; Nouveau système de chimie organique, 1833) [Editor]. 4 Obsession with worms [Editor].

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a respiratory value comparable or superior to their nerve power. Such is the case with alcohol and the fat content in cocoa. These foods could be termed nervine-respiratory. Others have a pronounced plastic property, as is the case with tea, which in certain Oriental countries is eaten, and gives the organism a great abundance of casein (neuro-plastic foods). 9. The nervine foods contribute considerably to a happier life. Through their influence, one’s sense of existence is always heightened, moral suffering is mitigated or forgotten, and a cheerfulness is revived that may ascend to the heights of happiness (coca, opium, etc.). 10. These foods exert different influences from one other, adapting to the various needs of life as determined by age, sex, temperament, climate, and race. We can only impatiently await the history of the nervine foods studied in their multiple relations to civilization, health, and medicine. I hope to return to this subject at greater length; for now I must be content to sketch a few lines that may help to show where I would like to situate coca. Suffice it for me to say that these foods find clear-cut favour with given parts of the nervous system. The exertions of the intellect are more quickly repaired by a cup of coffee, whereas alcohols better prepare use of the muscles. Guaranà strengthens the genital organs, whereas opium rekindles the imagination. 11. The words excitement and stimulation should not be understood in the sense given them by the champions of diathesis.5 The nervine foods can serve the life of the nervous system by halting the effects of organic regression and thereby suspending one function for the good of another. To want to expand and elaborate upon this point, however, would be to rush ourselves beyond our current state of ignorance. Let us settle for the little known over the ill-known. […] Chapter 1: The Botanical and Agricultural History of Coca The coca, Lamarck’s Erythroxylon6 coca, is a small, prolifically branching tree that reaches a few feet in height and is adorned with alternating, oval, sharp, unary, membranous leaves generally marked by three longitudinal

5 The constitutional predisposition to illness [Editor]. 6 Or ‘red wood’ [Translator].


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venations, about an inch and a half long and one inch wide. The flowers are small, whitish, grouped over some small tubercules that appear on its branches in May. When the fruit is ripe it is a red, oblong, and prismatic stone fruit. The coca tree grows only in hot, very humid, and thickly vegetated places called Yungas, along the entire eastern side of the Peruvian and Bolivian Andes. No author, to my knowledge, has yet noted the presence of this cherished little tree in the Argentine Confederation; but I think it can be affirmed upon the authority of a very distinguished American friend of mine, Mr Villafane, the former governor of Oran, who assured me he had seen the coca in the woods of a district in the province of Salta. He confirmed this statement in his most recent work, published last year, and mentioned as well that he knew it to be of the highest quality. It is hard to trace, in the depths of the historical traditions of America's indigenous peoples, when the Incas found coca in those virgin forests; when they recognized its precious qualities; and when they brought it to their own fields, which they knew how to cultivate so masterfully with irrigation, tilling, and fertilizing. What is certain is that at the time of the Conquest the Indians of Upper and Lower Peru were considered to have cultivated coca from time immemorial, and to have long reserved it for the royal family and its dependents. There are those who think that the Spanish, by granting free use of coca for all, endeared themselves to the masses tyrannically deprived of one of life’s greatest comforts. At the same time, Pizarro’s companions, by levying heavy taxes on this important commercial item, reaped quite a large harvest for the ever greedy coffers of Spain.7 What seems almost incomprehensible is that the Spanish should never have drawn the attention of learned Europeans to a plant that provided nervine sustenance for an entire nation; and it is even more remarkable that travellers of all nations forgot coca for the span of some three centuries, barely noting it, or else relaying only partial or erroneous information about it. It is also truly notable that in Pereira’s8 great work on medicinal substances I have been able to gather precious little bibliographical information on the subject.

7 Prescott, History of the Conquest of Peru (7th ed. London, 1854), p. 60 [Author]. 8 Probably the British physician and pharmacologist Jonathan Pereira (b. 22 May 1804; d. 20 January 1853), the author of Elements of Materia Medica and Therapeutics (1839–40) [Editor].

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Coca is grown especially in the department of Yungas in Bolivia, where they choose the dampest spots down in the valleys and the first slope of the mountains; there, they build low walls to keep the soil from breaking apart. The coca is sown or planted. In the former case the seeds are deposited in the ground in December and January, the hemisphere’s hottest months, and seedbeds are made, from which the tiny plants are transplanted the following year. This is almost always the preferred method. In any case, the leaves are harvested in the second year. The harvesting of the leaves, which are the plant’s usable portion, is called mita, and it is repeated two, three, or four times a year. It is done with the greatest diligence, by manually detaching leaf after leaf from branches, and transporting them into various paved courtyards, since the harvesters need them to dry quickly, on stone in the sun. This operation does much to bring out the good qualities of the coca, because if the damp and rainy weather interrupts its drying or wets it, it very easily undergoes a process of fermentation that alters it and changes its effect. To show the importance of coca in the agriculture of Bolivia, it is enough to note that in several places the coca fields are hedged with coffee plants. To those uninitiated into coca’s pleasures this may seem a true sacrilege, especially when one considers that Yungas coffee is one of the finest in the world. When the leaves are dried, they form loaves, which are wrapped in banana leaves and covered with a very coarse woollen fabric. Tambor is the name given commercially to the joining of two loaves in one woollen sack; each of these is called a cesto and contains about a rubbo 9 of leaves (25 pounds, in pounds of 16 ounces). This very crude way of preserving and shipping coca may suffice for the commerce of Peru and Bolivia, countries with very arid air, but would hardly do for its exportation to distant lands. Coca is consumed almost exclusively in Bolivia, Peru, and the two Argentine provinces of Salta and Jujuy. I would say that it is also used in the American republics that make up the former state of Colombia, although I have failed to find definite proof of this. For now, wanting precise data to determine with certainty the annual production of coca in Bolivia, I must content myself with an official, and highly reliable, record published in La Paz in 1832. It states that Bolivia 9 A variable Italian unit of 8 to 9 kilograms [Translator].


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harvests 400,000 cestos of coca annually, 300,000 in the province of Yungas and the rest in those of Larecaja and Apolobamba and the department of Cochabamba. The average price was then 30 francs per cesto in La Paz, the general depository for it, which would bring the Bolivian republic an annual revenue of 12 million francs for its coca production. According to Orbigny,10 Peru, in this same period, produced 1,207,435 francs; in all, 13,207,435, a huge sum given its population. In fact the number of indigenous or mestizo inhabitants of the provinces in which coca is consumed can, in Bolivia, reach roughly 700,000, which would mean an annual consumption of 17.50 francs per person. However much coca Peru might produce, it always buys a certain quantity from Bolivia, deeming it far superior to its own; and in 1856, 7851 rubbi came from this country, at a value of 205,600 francs. The Argentine republic buys 3,000 rubbi of coca annually from its neighbour, a huge quantity given the sparse population of the two provinces, Salta and Jujuy, that consume it, and in which there are rather fewer natives relative to the white population than are found in Bolivia. Since the official data we have thus far cited were published, the cultivation of coca has spread somewhat, and its price risen. Suffice it to say that it is bought for between 60 and 80 francs, depending on the scarcity or abundance of the harvest, as well as on its quality. In certain years a rubbo fetched even 100 francs. In Salta it is usually sold at 7 francs a pound. High-quality coca presents whole leaves of medium size and bright green colour. It has a very light fragrance reminiscent of hay or chocolate. It breaks down easily when chewed, and gives off a rather bitter flavour that is not unpleasant. When steeped in hot water, coca turns an attractive green colour that grows darker the poorer its quality. This tea has a pleasant taste that is like nothing else. The brew has a rather sickening, even nauseating taste. 10 The French naturalist Alcide Charles Victor Marie Dessalines d’Orbigny (b. 6 September 1802; d. 30 June 1857) made contributions in various scientific domains, such as anthropology, zoology, geology, and archaeology. In 1826–33 he travelled in South America, visiting Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Chile, Bolivia, and Peru. He described his expedition in La relation du voyage dans l’Amérique Méridionale, much praised by Charles Darwin [Editor].

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Coca is always more or less bad when brownish, spotted, or very hard to chew. The worst coca gives off a foul smell, and is close in colour to roasted coffee; it is crushed and reused in a thousand different ways. The best, from the province of Yungas, may, in certain tiny cestos, fetch a very high price under the name of coca selecta. The worst, since it is very tough and not very powerful, comes from Peru. Between the worst and the best, then, an infinite variety is to be found, and those varieties can be distinguished only by connoisseurs, who bring to their habit a subtlety of discrimination befitting the voluptuousness of a pleasure studied over many years. The still uninitiated European pharmacist should always look for the two most salient traits in coca, its green colour and the thinness of its leaves. Many travellers insist that the fruits of the coca plant serve as coins in Peru, and the Chevalier de Jaucourt,11 who wrote a brief article on this plant in the Grande encyclopédie française, repeats this fact, which I believe to be false. On the other hand he refuses to believe what others have written, namely, that the revenue of Cuzco’s cathedral is but a tenth that of the coca trade. Other authors have drawn on the coca/cuca distinction to posit two entirely different erythroxylon plants. I know of no chemical study of this plant and anxiously await Italian research on its active principle. I believe I have been the first in America to prepare a hydro-alcoholic extract, which seemed to me to represent the integral active part of the leaf. This solution was created in the pharmacy of the Flemings, distinguished Irish chemists who settled many years ago in the Argentine Confederation. Anyone wishing to acquaint himself with coca can find it in the Brera pharmacy run by our illustrious Erba, who does such credit in Italy to pharmaceutical chemistry.12 This is the only coca thus far to be found in Europe. 11 Chevalier Louis de Jaucourt (b. 16 September 1704 in Paris; d. 3 February 1779 in Compiègne), a French scholar who practised medicine and contributed more than 18,000 articles on physiology, chemistry, botany, and pathology to the Encyclopédie [Editor]. 12 The pharmacist Carlo Erba, who operated in Brera, near Milan. He was one of several figures in the medical domain who, around 1847 in Milan, began to experiment with hashish and marijuana and to devise therapeutic uses for them. The first Italian pharmacist to sell hashish, he accepted a small quantity of coca from Mantegazza. For Italian medicine’s discovery of cannabis, see Giorgio Samorini, L’erba di Carlo Erba: per una storia della canapa indiana in Italia: 1845–1948 (Torino: Nautilus, 1996) [Editor].


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Chapter 2: On the Use of Coca in America Coca is consumed in three large regions of South America, namely, Bolivia, Peru, and the Argentine Confederation, and in the last of these, only in the two provinces of Salta and Jujuy. Forgetting for a moment the political divisions of the American republics, which have arbitrarily joined together such different countries and disparate races, we could say that this leaf is used by the descendants of the great nation of the Incas. It makes up the treasure of the full-blooded Indians and the cholos – the children of Indians and whites – and less frequently it is chewed by the black, the mulatto, and, rarely, the white. In his chuspa (leather sack, made of a bladder or other material) the Indian always carries a certain supply of coca leaves, and with this he welcomes the new day and the setting sun, which was once his God. With all the attention lent to a cherished habit, he takes a small bunch of leaves, which may vary from one to two drams, and puts into his mouth a sort of bolus or cud called an acullico, to which he joins a small fragment of llicta. The llicta is an alkaline substance made from cooked potato and bonded with rich potash ashes obtained from the combustion of many plants. Travellers are wrong to cite only the llicta of Chenopodium quinoa; for I have seen used, in addition to this plant, the woodlike torso of the buckwheat stalk, vine leaves and stipes, and a grass the indigenous call moco-moco (this grass, which I took back to Europe, was examined by my very good friend the distinguished botanist Dr Gibelli,13 who recognized it as Gomphrena boliviana). The llicta, by breaking down in the mouth, serves both to stimulate the secretion of the salivary glands and soften the leaves. I have several times used coca by chewing it either with or without llicta and have never found this alkaline matter to alter even minimally the coca’s overall effect, although using it I did occasionally have to endure a very annoying irritation of the mouth’s mucus-producing glands. The coca that grows in Peru has such tough leaves that one often must remove their veins in order to chew them, and for this reason perhaps the Peruvians must use quicklime instead of llicta. In fact, they carry it in a small 13 Giuseppe Gibelli (1831–98), a professor of botany in Bologna and Turin, a specialist in lichens, and the author of Compendio della flora italiana [Editor].

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silver and gold receptacle, and remove it with a small pencil-brush. This habit is very similar to that of the Malaysians, who use lime to chew betel leaves and arec nuts; perhaps this is what misled Don Antonio Ulloa14 to believe that coca and betel were the same leaf. To this day everyone knows that the latter substance – the delight of all the inhabitants of the Archipelago – is made of the leaves of the Piper betle. I do not understand how Raynal15 can assure us that coca is eaten with a greyish-white, clay dirt called tocera; nor how, in the general history of his travels, La Harpe16 refers to llicta by the name of mambi. Never did I hear these words used in the lands in which coca is chewed, nor did I hear them recalled by people who had made long voyages into the interior of Peru and Bolivia. Perhaps these terms were used in the republics of the former Colombia, but with the data available to me I can neither confirm nor deny this. The swallowed acullica is chewed slowly, wetted with saliva, and left to melt slowly in either cheek, while the juice is slowly squeezed out and drunk. The coquero17 is immediately recognizable because he resembles some ruminative animal or monkey who has hidden his theft of fruit in his cheeks. After a while, nothing remains of the coca but a stubbly mass from the woody webbing of the leaves, and the descendant of the Incas

14 Antonio de Ulloa (1716–95), a Spanish general, explorer, astronomer, and colonial administrator, and the first Spanish governor of Louisiana. He published A Voyage to South America (1748), an account of his scientific mission to Peru in 1736–44. He returned to South America in 1758 as governor of Huancavelica in Peru and general manager of the quicksilver mines until 1764 [Editor]. 15 Probably Abbé Guillaume-Thomas de Raynal (b. 12 April 1713 in Saint-Geniez, France; d. 6 March 1796 in Chaillot), a French writer. His most renowned work is Histoire des deux Indes (1770), a six-volume account of the European colonies in India and the Americas denouncing the cruelty of the Europeans toward colonial peoples, consisting mainly, according to Raynal, of religious intolerance and abuse of power. This very popular work, which had gone through thirty editions by 1789 (most of them expanded versions with an increasingly radical tone), was placed on the Roman Catholic church's Index of Forbidden Books and ordered burned. In 1781, Raynal was exiled from France and banished from Paris until 1790 [Editor]. 16 Jean-Baptiste Bénard de La Harpe (b. January 1683 in Saint-Malo, France; d. 26 September 1765 in Saint-Malo), a French trader and explorer. In 1718 he travelled in the southern United States along the Mississippi, Arkansas, Red, and Sulphur Rivers trying to establish trading posts. In 1831, on his return to France, he published an account of his adventures – Journal historique concernant l'établissement des français à la Louisiane – which is not considered totally accurate [Editor]. 17 Coca user [Translator].


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must always take care to place it above various monuments made by wayfarers, who set down a stone in the same spot as if to greet one another. This custom is performed with all the reverence of a religious rite. The most moderate coqueros consume between half an ounce and an ounce daily, divided into two rations, one for their morning labours and one for their evening rest. Few, however, are content with such a small amount, and are forced to accept it mostly by poverty, not lack of desire. An Indian may chew two, three, or even four ounces of coca a day without being called a drug fiend, and it is only when he takes six to eight ounces a day that everyone considers him a lost soul. Scarcely has the Indian been weaned from his mother’s nipple than he is introduced to the favourite stimulant of his fathers; and even as a small child he is entrusted with a full day’s watch of the sheep or llama herd with no other provision than a little sack of coca leaves and a bit of llicta. While thus he leads the animals that constitute his sole paternal wealth over the bald rocks of the Andes, which are faintly vegetated here and there with a bit of moss or a rare tuft of pajonal,18 he chews the leaves that are his only food for many long hours. Coca serves the native as a food and stimulant, and without being able, most of the time, to explain its action, he feels lighter in spirit, more strengthened and comforted in his ongoing struggle against the elements, and better able to withstand the harshness of his continual, often abasing labours. Without coca he poorly digests his potatoes (which freezing deprives of extractive materials), his charqui (dried meat), his mote, and his lagua; rough foods all made with maize; without coca he cannot work, or enjoy himself, or, in a word, live. Imagine a small man with tiny feet and a very wide torso, obliged to live on very bad food and at an altitude ranging from 7,500 to 15,000 feet above sea level. In these conditions other men would scarcely survive; and he must live and continually work. He serves as a foot postilion, or mule guide, escorting for several leagues a traveller almost always mounted on a good mule and riding up and down the slopes at a quick trot with scarcely a thought for the poor Indian who must accompany him. Working at other times in the mines, barefoot, in the morning he

18 A scrub or field of thick stubble [Editor].

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breaks up the frozen mud mixed with a silver amalgam, and sweats, driven on in his labour, beneath a sky that would numb the heartiest. All these prodigies the Indian accomplishes with coca, and without it he rebels against his master and against life itself; and this everyone knows, because in addition to the usual terms of a salary, the hired man is almost always allotted a coca ration. When the Indian must stand guard or walk many leagues or take a wife, all deeds requiring greater than usual strength, he raises his normal amount of coca, meticulously calibrating it to the expenditure of nervous energy he needs.19 Human nature is so constituted that in every clime and every country the next step to enjoying a pleasure is abusing it; and this is no less true of coca. The vice of coquear is, indeed, one of the most tenacious and invincible known to man. The incorrigible coquero always has his acullico in his mouth and can be seen without it only when he is eating. He often sleeps with coca in his mouth. He forgets his own duties, forgets his family, and even takes from life’s most pressing needs the time and money to devote to his passion. If fortune has not made him rich, he works only as much as he needs to buy himself his cherished leaf, and, withdrawing into the solitude of the woods and mountains, lingers there, a prey to the delirium that inebriates him with pleasure. I knew a Negro who would vanish every so often from his master’s house for an indefinite period, and return only when not a single costermonger would furnish him, penniless and without credit, with the smallest dose of Bolivian leaf. I know a gentleman of the white race who, addicted to this vice, left for good his own family, and for long intervals could be found only in the densest forests, prey to the basest degradation. And so it is no mere metaphor when the Americans say, Fulano anda perdido por la coca.20

19 In Bolivia the natives’ marital honour does not allow the groom to lay down arms for a single moment the first night after his wedding. Their lustfulness is due more to temperament than corruption, and some desires are so common among them that, ever since the first years of the Conquest, it has sufficed to tell one’s confessor, Confeso me mi padre; que me equivoquè [Hear me, Father, for I have sinned; lit., erred, gone astray (Translator)] for him to understand immediately. The wedding festival of the llamas is enough to bring tremors to the boldest pen that would describe it [Author]. 20 The fellow’s lost to coca [Translator].


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The coquero is self-sufficient; social ties, the most sacred bonds of affection, ambition, all life’s amenities are meaningless to him; his pleasure absorbs all others, and when, through money, labour, or fraud, he has come by a generous supply of leaves, he has before him a sure future of several days of happiness, nor does he seek anything else. To this summit of prostitution arrive, more than the Indians, the blacks, the halfcastes, and the whites. Contributing to this fact is the varied effect this substance exerts on the different races. From my experience I can say that the pure-blooded native is the man least subject to the ravages of coca, the black the one who most readily succumbs to its delirium and mental alienation. Sometimes the coca addiction is connected with alcohol abuse, the two combining to abase the man to the lowest degree, causing him even to lose any sense of who he is. In America, coca, beyond its dietetic importance, has many uses in popular medicine. Its infusion is continually used in cases of indigestion, for stomach pains, for hysteria, for flatulence, and above all for the enteralgias of all sorts that in that clime go by the general name of colicos. In such cases, the infusion is administered orally or through an enema. The horror the coca vice inspires in Europeans who have settled in America may perhaps have contributed to its limited use among the white race. Indeed, a ridiculous prejudice against it has arisen by virtue of which those who chew it are hidden away, as though to consume it by infusion were to place it beyond reproach, and the immorality of this act were confined to its chewing. I know, however, of a respectable prelate in Chuquisaca, less fastidious than others, who did not blush to present at his table, after the fruit, a silver platter full of greener, more fragrant coca leaves, assuring his guests that it brought him the best digestion in the world. Chapter 3: On the Physiological Action of Coca and Its Applications in Hygiene Two main sources provide us with the materials necessary for ascertaining the therapeutic impact of a substance: tradition, and the study of its physiological effects. The most valuable treasures of the pharmacy do

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not come from scientific divination but from one of the manifold tendencies of the instinct for preservation and the vagaries of chance, and in this the living art of the people has done rather more than medical science. We are left with the task of humbly receiving the legacy of time and of recording it in our name-rich, fact-poor protocols. To classify a remedy, I, however, do not intend to find it some small slot in one of the many pigeonholes that vie for space in the thousand archives of pharmacy; I mean, rather, that one should study physiological effects, weigh advantages and dangers, exactly define its therapeutic limits, and finally try to counterbalance the findings of popular tradition with the results of science, to see where they overlap. If the physicians had had the patience to do the former before receiving every medicinal substance with open hands – and closed eyes – we would now find the ground we stand on less shaky, and could build ourselves a sturdy edifice. To date, as far as I know, no physiological study of coca has been undertaken, and I offer the following remark as the first lines in a picture that men more learned and experienced than I will have the chance to complete.21 Until physicians provide us with an analysis of the Bolivian leaf, I have thought to set up experiments about its juices as extracted by chewing, because I was thereby producing only the leaf’s utterly inert wood texture, which put me in the exact situation of the Indians who use coca in this way. When one ingests a dram of this leaf, it is rapidly steeped in saliva, and there is no need to follow the Americans in using llicta, which is excessively irritating to the mouth; and by the chewing, it is quickly reduced to a soft mass that easily allows the pressing out of the juice, which has a bitter taste at first, then a herbaceous one; gradually the cud of the coca loses its juice. Shortly after swallowing the salivary solution of the leaves, one feels a sense of well-being in one’s stomach that is neither hot nor tingling; it might be better compared to the feeling one

21 Here Mantegazza emphasizes the pioneering nature of his findings and, with his usual far-sightedness, seems convinced that his contribution will stimulate subsequent investigations and scientific accounts [Editor].


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has of having digested something well. On an empty stomach this sensation can elude many people, but when one chews coca after a meal, it is impossible for its beneficial effects to go unnoticed even by the least sensitive or observant person. In this instance, five or ten minutes after beginning to use the leaf, a wholesome exaltation announces to us that the digestive process is working more easily and rapidly than usual. This advantage is better noticed by those with low, difficult digestion. A young doctor in Milan, who found himself in this circumstance and who for years awakened in the morning with a filmy mouth and a white tongue, found such advantages to taking coca after meals that he never forgets it a single day and has given up cigars and coffee. Coca has a most mysterious effect upon the stomach; it neither hastens digestion nor stimulates it, irritating it in some excessive way; I, taking it almost daily for two years, have never found that it irritated my stomach, even when I took a rather copious amount. It does seem slightly to excite the nervous system of the upper viscera of the epigastrium, removing any awareness of its activity or easing the process. I, for example, absolutely cannot occupy my mind after dining without experiencing headache and difficult digestion, and only when I chew coca or take it in a hot infusion can I engage in light reading after meals without taxing my stomach or brain. Without being absolutely sure of this, I believe that coca aids in the secretion of the gastric juices; for when a large amount is chewed on an empty stomach, acid eructations follow. Llicta would probably bring the stomach’s acidity up to its maximum level, unless some foods might benefit from it for their own dissolution. When I took coca at breakfast with some granules of bicarbonate of soda, I never suffered acid eructations. Habitual use of coca greatly whitens the teeth, and I have always found them to be quite magnificent in the Indians who have taken it daily for years. It is not uncommon to see octogenarians in Upper Peru whose teeth are now only a few millimetres tall through the wear of constant chewing, yet are otherwise exceedingly healthy. Contributing to this fact are certainly race and the alkaline llicta with which coca is consumed in America; but I have always noticed my own teeth to be whiter and better able to break through hard substances whenever I have chewed the precious Bolivian leaf for some time. I have been able to ver-

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ify this fact several times in different climates of America and Europe. Convinced of the healthy effect of coca upon the teeth, I merely doubt whether and to what extent the leaf’s chemical nature and the mechanical effect of the teeth bear upon this fact. All organs are evenly perfected in their functioning, and the coqueros chew ten times more than others who use their teeth only for food. When the first acullico of coca has been used up and one starts to chew the second, one feels a thirst that comes from a dryness of the mouth and throat, not from stomach irritation. The abuse of coca exerts no other influence upon the first stage of digestion beyond that mentioned, and if the appetite diminishes, or rather one feels a less urgent need for food, one should trace this back to its overall effect, and not to a harmful effect upon the stomach. Slight or non-existent is the action erithroxylon exerts upon the small and large intestine. Enteric digestion and the final action of the rectum suffer no modification by the use and abuse of coca. The faeces lose their foul odour, taking on instead the special smell of coca juice. The habitual use of high doses of coca may result in constipation. Coca exerts a marked effect upon certain secretions. Shortly after chewing one or two drams, one feels a dryness in the eyes and the pituitary gland, which enlarges in proportion to the dose. This dryness is in truth produced by a weakness in secretion and precedes the slight redness of the eyes that later appears as a symptom of cerebral congestion. I have occasionally seen an increase in urine. Sweat appears only when a fever arises from larger doses. Using a moderate dose of coca several days in a row, I noticed a small rim of pityriasis22 form around the eyelids; only by momentarily discontinuing my use of erithroxylon did I see it go away. I corroborated this fact twice in different climates and, never having suffered on other occasions from this harmless ailment, cannot believe that it was a pure coincidence. Anyone not yet used to using coca can, after chewing a few drams of it, see certain spots of simple erythema surface on his limbs and torso, spots which are transitory and harmless; at other times one experiences

22 A skin condition characterized by dry scaling or scurfy patches [Editor].


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a pleasant tingling in the skin and, with the urge to scratch, sees oneself redden more than usual, particularly at the least rubbing. Sperm, then, is a very important secretion, for its relation to the entire nervous system and for the influence it exerts over health, and it may be excited by immoderate use of the Bolivian leaf. One must be fairly well addicted before erections increase in frequency and potency; but chewing a few drams a day and, to a far lesser extent, taking it in a hot infusion, ought not in the least to alarm the scruples of the more chaste; I would only bar its use to someone who had excessively demanding needs, and attempt to curb them with all the physical and moral anaphrodisiacs available. Anyone, on the other hand, with naturally weak organs I would advise to read and meditate upon the next chapter, in which he will perhaps find some useful advice. Wishing to ascertain with exactitude the influence that coca has upon heart movements, I performed upon myself certain comparative experiments by which to measure its effect against that of other nervine foods and of hot water. The circumstances of the experiments were always identical, and I made the observations with as much precision as I could apply, checking my pulse before having my drink, one minute after, and then every five minutes for an hour and a half. I went no further than this, mindful that, after this time had elapsed, the pulse stayed the same or slowly followed its usual inclinations over the course of a day, without further succumbing to any influence by the drink. The pulsations were always counted for a full minute and in a sedentary position, which produces an average rate for all the positions. During the experiment, I remained calm, and did not perform any action that might appreciably alter heart motions. The water was consistently four ounces, the quantities of substances involved 88 granules, and the brew, consistently prepared in the same way and at the same time for the infusion, was 61.25°C, the temperature most people prefer for hot drinks. Only in the case of cocoa was a decoction prepared instead of an infusion. As for the substances, I obtained them while they were at their purest, and except for those with some question mark hovering about them, I procured them where they are produced and got them from thoroughly reliable sources.

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Let me add once more that the outside temperature was almost always the same in all experiments, and I always conducted the experiments in the period between three and four hours after lunch, so as to choose the most opportune time and to make the experiments comparable in the respect also. The immediate results of my tabulations, and of other small corroborative experiments it would be pointless to refer to, are as follows: 1. All hot drinks raise the number of heartbeats; the maximum rise, which almost always comes right after drinking, gradually ebbs until the pulse-rate returns to normal. 2. An hour and a half later, pure water almost always reduces the pulse-rate. This fact, which is also in certain rare instances verified for tea and coffee, occurs only later with these drinks. 3. The rise in the pulse-rate under the influence of hot water is followed by a state of exhaustion, when the pulsations are scarcely returning to their normal rate, and even more, when they are falling; whereas the other drinks give off no feeling of weakness even when the number of heartbeats has returned to the physiological number, or even diminished. In the fifth experiment, in which, after I took hot water, the pulsations, after the usual ascent, remained normal, I felt no illness, but it should be noted that the next evening I had chewed a half-ounce of coca, there by putting myself into a state of overexcitement. This fact, which at first sight may seem exceptional, confirms, rather, the physiological law that the causes of weakening are all the less active the more resistant the organism is to them. 4. The rise in the pulse is somewhat different with different drinks, and can be precisely represented, according to the experiments I performed on myself, by the following numbers: Pure water Tea Coffee Cocoa Mate Coca

39.8 40.6 70.0 87.4 106.2 159.2


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We see, then, that the erythroxylon infusion excites the heart four times more than hot water and tea and twice more than coffee, and the substance that comes closest to it is mate. Cocoa would seem to be only slightly more exciting than coffee. 5. The influence exerted by hot drinks on the heart varies according to an infinity of circumstances, and only now, I believe, can it be said that the pulse-rates rise the slower their effect is, and vice versa. Coca, beyond raising the number of heartbeats when it has barely reached a certain quantity (between 100 granules and several drams), produces a temporary fever, with a rise in heat and number of breaths. Once under its influence I observed a temperature of + 37.5°C in the palm of the hand, and, on two occasions, + 38.75°C under the tongue. During the circulatory reaction, the face grows flushed and the eyes sparkle. Larger doses induce heart palpitations, and the congestion of blood in the vital centres is obvious. After three drams I experienced some moments of heart palpitations and cold hands and feet. The highest rise in the pulse-rate under the influence of coca was 134 pulsations, whereas the normal rate is 65. When the name of unknown regions has been expunged from the outlying parts of the nervous systems, a few words will suffice us, perhaps, to pinpoint the particular effect coca has on the cerebral-spinal axis and the ganglia network: at present, it would be an act of temerity, an idle classificatory whim, to seek to assign them a single term. I leave it to others to place them among the narcotics, the hypersthenias, the antispasmodics; had I to choose the least misleading among these words, I should stay with the first. Shortly after one has chewed one or two drams of coca and swallowed its juice, one starts to feel a sensation of mild, and I might say fibrillar, warmth spreading over the whole surface of the body, while one sometimes feels a very gentle buzzing in the ears. At other times one feels the need for space and the urge to rush out as though in search of some wider horizon. One gradually grows aware that the nervous powers are waxing, that life is turning more active and intense; and we feel heartier, more agile, better disposed to all sorts of work. In certain people I have seen a state of drowsiness precede this awareness of strength, though this effect occurred only with stronger doses. With a bit of attention to

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apprehending the changes in consciousness in this first phase of cocal inebriation, one finds it quite different from that of alcohol. In the latter, nervous excitation is immediately accompanied by exaggerated or violent, and always irregular, movements; there is a general disordering of thoughts and muscular actions, whereas in the inebriation induced by coca it appears that the new strength imbues our organism in all senses and quite pleasantly so, like a sponge dipped in water. The delight of this phase is almost entirely bound up with the heightened awareness of being alive, and we, crouching inside ourselves, enjoy this period without feeling impelled to put the newly acquired strength to immediate use. The sensitivity and excitability never increase: whereas the intelligence turns more active and we speak more vehemently, and feel, in a word, that the intellectual mechanism is more active, nevertheless, with our sensitivity either not having grown equally or often even having been blunted, we feel less apt to take on a higher level of mental labour. In this, coca works rather differently than coffee, and more closely resemblies opium. The precious coffea bean hones sensibility and the inner perceptions of consciousness, inducing us to search and find, and supplying the mind with many elaborate materials; whereas the Bolivian leaf vehemently arouses the whole brain without providing it with more abundant and more delicate sensations. Several times, for instance, I would put together, under the influence of the first doses of coca, some quite unimportant work, only to find it too slight to give vent to my mental overexcitement; and while my pen furiously raced across the page, I could no longer conceive new ideas nor at that moment imagine a more intense labour, nor a higher level to which my brain’s extraordinary state could be adapted. With two to four drams, one begins to withdraw from the outer world, and one plunges into a blissful awareness of pleasure and of feeling intensely alive. An almost absolute immobility takes hold of all our muscles, and even summoning words is a bother, since it seems to disturb the altogether calm, tepid atmosphere in which we are immersed. Every so often, however, life’s very fullness seems to stifle us and we do burst out with energetic words, or feel impelled to deploy our muscular strength in various ways. I, who am by nature utterly inept at any gymnastic exertion,


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after four drams of coca feel extraordinarily nimble, and once jumped with both feet onto a tall writing desk so deftly and surely that I disturbed neither the lamp nor the many books piled upon it. At other times I felt I could leap over the head of the person near me. In general, however, these excessive feelings are fleeting whims, and one immediately falls back into a blessed state of torpor, in which we think we could remain a whole day without moving a finger or feeling the least desire to change states. In this period of inebriation one never loses consciousness of oneself, but attains an ideal laziness, in all its perfection. One heaves deep sighs, occasionally laughs like a madman, and when one wishes to convey to others what one is feeling, the words come hard or confusedly at best. Several times I had to speak with extraordinary slowness, dividing the very syllables of my words at extremely long intervals. Others say that the first doses of coca induce in them a sense of heavyheadedness and genuine pain; others feel their brain shrouded as though by a cloud; still others feel light-headed. All, at any event, among those who are examined by someone not under the influence of the American leaf present a blessedly still physiognomy, fixed in a peculiar smile that may even assume a kind of daze. All seem to be sleeping, but waver within those mysterious regions that divide wakefulness from drowsiness and sleep. If, after passing through the first stages of cocal inebriation, one stops and goes to bed, sleep comes quickly and is very deep, interrupted at times by long intervals of drowsing with a peculiar feeling of well-being; almost always accompanied by the oddest dreams, which mount and straddle one another with amazing rapidity. The particular drowsiness produced by three or four drams of coca can, in certain individuals, last for more than a day, but it wears off without a trace. Coffee, tea, and mate curtail this state, quickly bringing back the customary activity of the brain and nerves. In America everyone thinks that coca can cure alcoholic intoxication, and vice versa. I admit to the former case because I have witnessed it several times, and because the very pronounced digestive power of this leaf takes away one of the most distressing complications of alcoholic drunkenness; but for the moment I refuse to believe that wine can remove cocal intoxication, having never witnessed this, nor having reason to believe it could happen.

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The highest dose of coca I ever chewed was eighteen drams in a day, of which I consumed the last ten in the evening, one after another. This was the only time in which I experienced the delirium of cocal inebriation to the ultimate degree, and I must confess that I found this pleasure far superior to any other physical ones I have ever known. At the outset, until I reached eight drams, I felt the usual effects of a kind of fever pitch of excitement, a pleasant torpor, and a slight headache; but shortly before I reached ten drams my pulse had already climbed to 893 and I felt an indefinable exaltation, which I somewhat hesitantly described with these words: ‘I do not know if it is I who hold this pen in hand … I speak and hear my voice echo as though it were not mine; my hands are cold, I am tingling and feel only a slight ache. The skull bones seem to want to crush my brain …’ Fifteen minutes later my pulse had reached 95 beats. A half-hour later I chewed another two drams of leaf, and my pulse instantaneously soared to 120 beats. I then began to feel a sense of extraordinary happiness, dragged my feet as I walked, distinctly felt my heart beating, and could write only with the greatest difficulty. Over the next two hours my consumption gradually reached two ounces of coca, and I felt deep happiness. My heart palpitations had ceased, but the pulse remained at 120 beats, and I was lying down with a divine sensation of a more active, fuller life; then, roughly a quarterhour later, after taking the two last drams, I started to shut my eyes involuntarily, and the most splendid and unexpected phantasmagoria began to pass before my eyes. At that moment I had full self-awareness yet seemed isolated from the external world and saw the most bizarre, splendidly coloured, and splendidly shaped images one can imagine. The pen of neither the deftest colourist nor the fastest stenographer could for a single moment render those splendid apparitions, which straddled one another in the most disconnected fashion, at the whims of the most unbridled fantasy, the most fertile kaleidoscope. A few moments later, the swiftness of phantasmagoric images and the intensity of inebriation reached such a level that I sought to describe to a colleague and friend near me at the time the full felicity now sweeping over me, but my words were so vehement that he could jot down only a


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few of the thousands I was shouting at him. I quickly fell into the gayest delirium in the world, but one in which I lost no consciousness at all, because I extended my hand to my friend – only to discover that the pulse had reached 134 beats. Some of the images I sought to describe in the first phase of my delirium were full of poetry, and I mocked those poor mortals doomed to live in a vale of tears while I, carried aloft on the wing of two coca leaves, was flying through the space of 77,438 worlds, each more radiant than the last. One hour later I was calm enough to write these words in a steady hand: ‘God is unjust because he has made man unable to live always cocheando, I prefer a life of 10 years with coca to 100,000 … (and here there followed a line of zeros) centuries without coca.’ I could not, however, manage to resist the desire to see the phantasmagoria repeated, and took two drams of coca, which I chewed in a real frenzy. The images still appeared, but I was overwhelmed as if by a nightmare – truly terrible ones, full of ghosts, skulls, satanic dances, strangling victims … Gradually, however, they grew calmer, more serene, to the point of reaching the most aesthetic ideal of art and imagination, and in this state of calm I spent three hours without my pulse ever falling below 120. Three hours of tranquil sleep restored me to the life of daylight, and I could move on to my usual occupations, feeling that I could study more assiduously and without anyone being able to tell from my expression that I had experienced sensations of a voluptuousness I would previously have thought unattainable. For forty hours I remained under the influence of coca without eating any food and without feeling the least weakness. From this experience I realized very clearly that the vice of cocal inebriation can be unstoppable, and that the Indians, who still travel on foot, can, with their treasured Bolivian leaf, live for three or four days without taking any food. What most amazed me in this experiment is that I felt neither exhaustion nor languor, although I had used up so much vital energy in just a few hours. The day after inebriation I felt a pleasant warmth throughout my body and felt mildly constipated. Thereafter, my digestion was excellent. Another time, chewing coca after my meal, I began to see phantasmagoria after the sixth dram, and this continued for over three hours, during which time I chewed another two drams. Immersed though I was

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in a state of ineffable bliss, I still had extremely clear consciousness and could clearly delineate some of the bizarre images that passed before my eyes swift as lightning. Here are a few: note that for every one I could set down upon the page, ten others eluded me in their too rapid succession: … A grotto of lace beyond the entrance to which one could see at the other end a gold tortoise seated upon a throne of soap. … A battalion of steel pens battling an armada of corkscrews. … A glint of glass shards perforating a wheel of Parmesan cheese crowned with ivy and mulberry leaves. … A saffron-coloured inkpot out of which rises an emerald mushroom lashed with rose-coloured fruit. … A ladder of blotting paper lined with rattlesnakes, down from which are leaping red rabbits with green ears. … Flowers of striped porcelain with stamens of burning silver. … Looms made of tapers, on which a group of cicadas are weaving various pine plants made of sulphur. The next day too after this experiment I felt more energetic than usual, although I had slept but an hour that night. To sum up in a few words the physiological effect of erythroxylon, let us say: 1. Coca has a special stimulating effect of some aid to digestion. 2. In a high dose it raises body heat, pulse, and breathing, also inducing fever. 3. It can cause some slight constipation. 4. In mild doses (1 to 4 drams) it excites the nervous system enough to make us more prone to muscular fatigue and gives us a very high resistance to any altering external causes, thereby creating in us a state of blissful calm. 5. In higher doses, coca produces truly delirious hallucinations. 6. Coca possesses the very rare quality of exciting the nervous system and letting us enjoy, through its phantasmagoria, one of the greatest pleasures in life without draining away our strength. 7. It probably reduces certain secretions. Coca’s hygienic applications are easy to deduce from its physiological effect, and in America have long been determined by many centuries of experience. It remains to be adopted in Europe as a genuine treasure of


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the New World, on the order of opium, and the bark of a country common to both substances, Peru. A hot infusion of leaves is the healthiest drink to take after a meal, particularly when one has a weak stomach or when one has somewhat exceeded the bounds of temperance. Coca tea, when taken regularly, offers the huge advantage of mitigating excessive sensitivity, so that I recommend it for vaporous and sentimental creatures of the fair sex. Coca chewed in a dose of a few drams makes us resistant to cold, dampness, and all the altering causes of climate and fatigue; so one must warmly recommend it to miners and travellers in swampy terrains and polar regions. Coca fortifies us against heavy fatigue and counteracts the exhaustion of force that follows our exertions of nervous currents – I unhesitatingly consider it the most powerful nutrition for the nerves. Taken in high doses it can make life more cheerful, bringing with it hours of true happiness that need not offend the most scrupulous morals. Wine, consumed at times to the verge of drunkenness, does not make us guilty; no more does coca, chewed to the point of inducing highly pleasurable phantasmagoria, turn us into addicts. Coca in high doses should not be used by those who suffer from cerebral congestions or tend toward apoplexy. Used in infusions, it is harmful to everyone. The abuse of coca, if prolonged over years, may produce idiocy and dementia. I have never been able to detect any trouble in the functions of the digestive organs. Chapter 4: On the Therapeutic Action of Coca and Its Use in Medicine In those blessed times when the sharp sword of dualists, cutting with a single stroke through the awful tangle of pathological doctrines, sent two fine words aloft, coca might, with the greatest of ease, have been marshalled into one or another column of therapeutic aids. Yet I, out of an unconquerable horror of words that do not represent things or that tyrannically legislate over facts, gladly forswear any facile efforts to systematically baptize this leaf, settling for pointing out its practical usefulness in medicine.

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Having always noticed how white the teeth of coca users were, I naturally thought of using it as a dentrifice, particularly in the north of the Argentine Confederation, where the condition of most people’s teeth tends to be terrible. I therefore recommended that they wash their mouths once or twice a day with a concentrated cold decoction of coca, and rinse their mouths often with the powder of the leaves, either on its own or mixed with rose honey. I have always stood by this advice, above all when the tooth cavities are caused by a scurvy altering the gums as they gradually recede. Since coca, however, though very useful in these cases, does not seem to displace other known remedies and remains quite expensive, I would advise that it be used in Europe only in those cases of gum softening that often accompany slow stomach infections, or when the other known substances have proved ineffective. To anyone who wishes to use it for this purpose, let me point out only that it has the advantage over bitter barks and harsh-tasting roots of cleansing without irritating and of not having an unpleasant taste. Beyond cleaning the mouth and teeth with it, I have never used coca externally in any way, nor can I yet say whether its various preparations might act as a narcotic when applied to the skin or the outermost mucous passages. Coca’s most important medical uses can be deduced quite naturally from its physiological action upon the gastroenteric mucous membranes and the nervous system. The Bolivian leaf acts in two quite different ways upon the digestive organs, and up to this point they have not been combined so harmoniously into any other remedy. It eases the digestion, animating it when it is slow and readjusting it when it has been altered; at the same time, it dulls the sensitivity of the gastroenteric mucous, often easing even the strongest pains. In general, the substances that stimulate the stomach to greater activity often tire it and almost always exhaust its physiological powers, even when they do not induce greater irritation in it, or a slow phlogosis. This is why their action is more or less dangerous, and in a healthy therapy their use is seldom indicated. Coca, on the other hand, mysteriously reanimates the stomach’s digestive activity without ever irritating it; nor do I recall having seen, even once, either in myself or others, the well-known symptoms with which the very delicate viscera rebels against anyone who would force it to


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work without first protecting against its festerings. While practising medicine for almost four years in tropical countries, I had on several occasions to treat genuine phlogosis-induced stomach irritations produced by the abuse or even just use of mate, coffee, or tea – irritations I never found among the coqueros. The Europeans who settle in Upper Peru and the northern provinces of the Argentine Confederation can almost never resist their preference for coffee, and almost always feel its bad effects on the stomach and on the nervous system as well; only after many sins of persistence are they persuaded to consume a coca infusion after a meal, temporarily abandoning their delicious-smelling coffee. I have recommended coca to young and old, healthy and convalescent, Indians, blacks, and whites of many nations, and to hybrids of all colours; I have used it in one or another hemisphere, in countries at sea level and at altitudes of thousands of feet, and I have no hesitation in saying that it is superior in its digestive powers to tea, coffee, and other, obscurer hot beverages served at the end of a meal. Those fortunate enough to have a good belly would be wrong to replace beverages they prefer with a new and perhaps less enjoyable one; but to those whose digestion is slow, difficult, or painful, I warmly recommend use of this infusion for many consecutive months. It can be prepared with a denaro or half-dram of leaves in the same way as tea is brewed. A great many people prefer the latter infusion, since it is less strong and more delicate. I would advise gentlewomen and the highly-strung to blend their coca with orange leaves, preferably of the bitter variety. The narcotic or antispasmodic action of the American leaf upon the stomach and the intestine is very pronounced, and leaves even the most sceptical physician free of doubt. Gastralgia and a whole range of ventricular neuroses, simple enteralgia, colic pains, and flatulent enteralgia are almost invariably overcome by a coca infusion. I have always found it to be of great utility against the diarrhoea that often attends bad digestion and is almost always accompanied by very distressing pains. In the case of enteralgic or colic pains, I administer it orally or through an enema, making sure that the infusion passes through the rectum in a more concentrated form (one dram to every four ounces of boiling water) and in small quantities, lest it be expelled too soon. If a first injection is not enough to calm the pain, it should be repeated at

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half-hour intervals, using the same leaf for two or three infusions. Since I have never seen a single case of saturnine colic in South America, I could never determine what benefit coca might have for wiping out the fierce pains this sickness brings. I have never used it for vegetal colic. I am inclined to set great hopes on its beneficial action against Asian cholera, because it combines great stimulation to the nervous system with a very healthy influence upon the gastrointestinal tube. Except in cases of acute inflammation of gastrointestinal mucus, I encourage coca use for dyspepsia, gastralgia, enteralgia, and all spasmodic and painful ailments of the digestive organs. A slight gastric or enteric irritation or liver blockage is never sufficient cause to counterindicate use of this leaf. One should never forget coca in regard to pepsin, and indeed one should closely study the cases in which one or another was used. In convalescence from long illnesses, when one must resort to tonics while fearing that they might not be tolerated, it would be advisable to consider coca first. It has the advantage of restoring the convalescent’s strength in two ways, by easing the digestion and invigorating the nervous system. The action of this substance upon the cerebral-spinal axis is even more important and mysterious than that which it exerts upon the digestive organs, and warrants deep study. The few observations that I can offer are accompanied by the keenest desire to be illuminated by my colleagues, who by trial and retrial will probably be able eventually to obtain precise therapeutic indications for coca, thereby expanding the very narrow circle of my doubts and convictions. Whether the erythroxylon leaf suspends or slows the incessant destructive motion of the tissues, as the distinguished Lehmann proved for coffee, and whether this leaf rouses the organism's neural battery to great action, it is true at any rate that coca sustains life by making man capable of greater expenditure of his nervine force. The intelligence is revived only at the outset by the effect of coca, and only when it is taken in small doses; later, the mind comes to a state of rest in calm contemplation. The muscles are better able to sustain the incessant contraction, and the whole organism has less need to be restored by foods. The coquero eats little without losing weight, and the coca user who does not overindulge can withstand humidity, cold, and all other altering causes considerably better than a non-user.


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With these facts in mind I have used coca in all cases of great nervous prostration; of general weakness, hysteria, hypochondria, and tedium vitae. On occasion I have administered it in highly concentrated infusions, at other times in hydroalcoholic extracts in doses of 5, 10, or 20 granules a day, depending on the cases. Given all the obscurity that surrounds the nature of cerebral and nervous disorders, the physician should proceed cautiously in reaching a diagnosis, but, once sure, should indicate coca use without hesitation or fear. It is a remedy that exerts a slow but deep effect, and when used over a long period of time can permanently modify the nervous system. When there is real congestion, or phlogosis, or organic damage to the central nervous substance, coca is dangerous. I have used coca in cases of mental alienation, and warmly recommend it to physicians who use opium to treat melancholia. In high doses it may have the same advantages as poppy juice, but with added beneficial influence upon the stomach. But here let me simply set a stone marker in the road and hope to return to this subject another time. Coca should be given in all those cases in which there has occurred a functional disturbance to nervous life, stemming apparently from a state of weakness or perversion. Simple spinal irritations, idiopathic convulsions, constitutional dulling of sensitivity are always or almost always improved by the action of erythroxylon. I have a strong desire to try administering it in cases of simple chorea,23 hydrophobia, and tetanus. These indications are quite tentative and may well seem insufficient, but one should not be too demanding when one recalls that to this day the effect of opium and the cases in which it should be used are still subject to debate, and coca, as far as I know, has never as yet been used in Europe. If my studies have entitled me to briefly describe the action of coca upon the nervous system, I would like to relate it to that of opium and the antispasmodics, while recognizing that it differs from all other hitherto known remedies. As a substance that generates nervous strength, I rank coca superior

23 St Vitus’s dance [Translator].

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to all others known to us thus far; and to a man in imminent danger of losing his life through nervous exhaustion, I would give either a tincture of it or a strong dose of its extract. In America there is no one who doubts the aphrodisiac action of the Bolivian leaf, and I myself, if I wished to believe in certain observations I have amassed, would have to concur with universal opinion. Persuaded, however, that doubt permits science far greater advantages than affirming without a firm basis of certainty, I shall say only that on some people coca unquestionably acts as a stimulus to the genital organs. The American nations that use coca are surely among the world’s heartiest in love’s combats, and if modesty permitted us to make a gynodynamometer we would see its highest degrees reached among the descendants of the Incas, who maintain the most enviable prowess into very advanced age. I have also observed certain cases of daily or nocturnal pollutions from weakness of the genitals improved and cured by the chewing of coca after dinner, and have often heard, from various Europeans of different countries, that their erotic desires were reawakened by varying doses of erythroxylon. I never gathered enough data, however, to determine with any precision what role the use of coca and the influence of race played in the genital vigour of Bolivians. Erythroxylon rouses the genital organs to action, stimulating the spinal axis or boosting the circulation yet never irritating the mucuous of the bladder or the urethra, so that if its aphrodisiac power were once recognized, the power would be that much greater thanks to its two precious qualities of aiding the digestive organs and doing no harm to the genital-urinary apparatus. Of all the functions regulated by the brain and the spinal marrow surely none is more capricious than genital activity; for this reason there is so much variance of opinion among physicians and non-physicians over the relative value of aphrodisiacs. In the Orient, where a large part of life is spent among the embraces of the harem, blissful sybarites often urgently demand that foreigners prescribe for them certain aphrodisiacs. A renowned traveller, embraced with urgent entreaties by an old man in Indonesia who only that day had married a very beautiful young girl, in order that some remedy might help him overcome his terrible fears of what must take place on the first night of pleasure, prescribed for him two granules of muscat with calomel. When this traveller passed


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through the same land several years later, the good native, overjoyed, showed him a sprightly little boy, saying that he had named him calomel. In this case, then, even mercurous chloride had gained fame as an aphrodisiac – proof of what a supreme influence the imagination exerts upon the reproductive function. For the Orientals, opium, asafoetida,24 hashish, and swallows’ nests are aphrodisiacs, whereas in South America liquors made from corn, guaranà, and coca are considered such. Until we know the chemical composition of coca, I advise using it in infusion form, or, better yet, for those so willing, chewing it in a dosage of one dram a day. If there is need for a profound action upon the nervous system and the patient refuses to chew it, one can resort to a powder of the leaves (in 1–4 dosage) or to a hydroalcoholic extract, which can be given daily in from five to ten granules, with a gradual rise in the dosage. The coca tincture is a very active preparation. I have always blended coca only with aromatics in the infusion, and with subnitrate of bismuth when I was taking the extract in pill form. The action of coca varies somewhat with different individuals, and the first sign of intolerance is a sense of heavy-headedness, which in certain cases can turn into a genuine ache. The careful physician should encounter this drowsiness or delirium only in very rare cases. I do not know what place coca should be assigned in the treasury of therapies; I do know that it is likely to be championed or contested, rousing excessive enthusiasm or excessive indifference; I believe, however, that it will remain, with its other siblings, among the host of heroic remedies that often change country and name, but which sensible physicians never remove from their pharmacopoeiae. [Chapter 5: Practical Observations on the Therapeutic Action of Coca]

24 A resin gum with a strong sulphurous odour, from the dried sap of the stem and roots of the wild fennel [Editor].

From One Day in Madeira: A Page in the Hygiene of Love

[…] On the eve of his arrival in Madeira, William’s joy was mixed with agitation; he seemed fitfully nervous. He spoke in broken phrases, shut himself up in his cabin a hundred times a day, and a hundred times reemerged on the quarterdeck. Often he checked his watch; and although he sat at table with the others, he could not for the life of him have later said with whom he had drunk or eaten. He spent the night on the quarterdeck. On the morning of the 17th all the passengers stood on deck, devoured by a common curiosity to see land, and quickly recover from the sea-weariness long afflicting them. William was not among them […] […] We are climbing along rapid roads enclosed by a scattering of low walls, we ride from field to field; but some gentle soul has, along with the bread of men, sown flowers, which here and there, tousled, dot the meadows, bushes of heliotropes and geraniums, jasmine and roses, all in bloom. Our head often comes under the shadow of a vault entwined in honeysuckle and passion flower. I sit up in my stirrups and eat the aromatic fruits, bend left and right and fill my hands with a booty of rose, heliotropes, and other flowers in a thousand colours. The abundance justifies the theft. My companions, male and female, increase the booty, without fertile Nature seeming at all despoiled by our rapine. Our hands cannot contain the plunder, and among us breaks out a war of flowers, throwing roses against carnations, showering the hair and shoulders of the women with jasmine and violets. The intoxication of the perfume floods over us; and every so often I look back and gaze at the ocean, mingling the fragrance of the flowers with the tangy salt scent of the surf.


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For a long stretch the road leading us to Palheiro is steep and we can move only at a trot, but as soon as it grows less precipitous, I feel the need to spur my horse as though I wanted to sink into this enchanting nature, this sea of delights. I am mindful that my arrieiro, my muleteer, has fastened both his hands on my horse’s hair and with legs dangling let himself be dragged in the most ludicrous way imaginable. I cannot help but laugh, and I point out to the lady near me that her horse is also dragging behind it the curious appendage of an arrieiro. We laugh together, laugh heartily, but the two muleteers, although they wear their carabuza, or cloth cap, light blue on the outside, scarlet on the inside, with a long, very straight pigtail to it; a cap so tiny it barely covers the crown of the head, a true comic solideo or skullcap – it seems the most paradoxical hat in the world for an extremely hot country – despite all this, the arrieiros remain serious in their place of honour and let themselves be drawn along, whether I go at a trot or coax the horse to a gallop. Eventually, however, I too turn serious, and attempting to make my Italian more Portuguese, tell the gentleman behind me that I would like to ride alone; but he either does not understand my Portuguese or chooses not to, which either way brings the same result. I remain patient, however, and strive to improve my Portuguese. Wasted effort! The arrieiro is still hanging upon my horse’s tail. Here my patience gives out, my Portuguese gives out with it, and I lapse into perfectly good Italian for cursing, before resorting to the universal language, the language that makes all men brothers and part of a single family, the language of gesture. I give two or three lashes of my riding crop to the arrieiro’s hand; cursing in turn, he releases his prey and leaves me alone with my horse. Would I had never done this! The living appendage seems to have been necessary to the steady progress of affairs, because no sooner did he detach himself than my horse champed the bit and then took flight among walls high and low, leaving me not a second to brake. My position was difficult, but would become even more so just a few minutes later. The horse broke into a trot in a side path that only barely let it pass through and skirted the edge of an abyss.

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My feet were being broken against the stones of the low wall; my eyes were lost in an abyss of hundreds and hundreds of metres, and my panting horse, with its breast foaming, ran as though possessed. It happened in a minute’s flash; all my strength was gathered to a single end – to stay in the saddle; but my wandering brain managed to formulate this thought I shall never forget: If in a minute my bones should land in the depths of that chasm, what would I feel? Instantly a deep chill came over me and, like some sudden breeze over a lake, made my whole body shudder. A moment later the horse was under my control, and I, having lost my way and my companions, found myself on a beautiful road, slightly sloping, broad, opening amid sugar fields. My horse was sweating, and so was I. Before me lay the sea, apparently close, with a white sail seeming to frolic happily over its surface of a nameless blue. All at once, at a bend in the road, I saw before me, though some hundred paces on, a young lady on horseback, all alone. I felt I was dreaming, or had fallen into a canto of Ariosto. The horse was walking slowly, and the lady, loosening the bridle at its neck, sat like one weary or ill, folded in upon herself. Her body was thin but elegant, covered with a long blue Amazon-like dress. Her neck was slender and her bowed head rested on her shoulder: from a little black cap adorned with a pheasant feather, thick blonde hair rained down upon her shoulders. I wanted to rouse my horse to a trot in order to catch up with this fantastic apparition, but at once the steed, untempered by its living counterweight, shot out like an arrow along the path and reached the lady in a flash, and scarcely had I time to puzzle all this out when I had overtaken her, since her horse too, seized with sudden imitation, had taken up the same furious pace. I trembled for the lady, but was utterly helpless, charging ahead ever faster on the wings of my demon. As soon as I could, with all the strength in my hands, rein in its ardour, I felt behind me the gallop of another horse, and looked: but its saddle was empty. No longer did I think of the whims of my own horse; I turned the bridles and a few paces from the edge of a field saw the beautiful lady stretched upon the ground in a faint. Where she had fallen


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there were no stones; I hoped that no harm had come to her; I leaped off my horse, ran to a nearby spring, and with my little leather boat brought water to where she lay, and sprinkled some drops onto her ashen face. She drew in an arm that still held a silver-handled riding crop in its fist, and she sighed without quite reviving. I thought I could unlace her suit, but although I was twenty-two years old, I did not dare to do so, so fiercely was my heart beating with emotion, and again I sprinkled water, even more water, on her lovely face. She opened her eyes, and since I was so close at hand, her face turned from its deep pallor to red, at which she could only shut those eyes and murmur, ‘Sir, I thank you.’ This very young woman was a miracle of delicate beauty and deep melancholy. Her golden-brown hair was loosened from a net and fell copiously upon her neck and breast. She gathered it in now and with a fleeting glance assessed that, in her fall, she had exposed rather more than her foot; she took care to cover her aching body; with more modesty, however, than pain. Bending over the ground before this creature, happy to help her, I had few moments in which to relish the delight, for along the same way by which I had come I heard the approach of a trotting horse. It was William, his pale face imprinted with a nameless distress. He recognized me, halted, and before I could barely glance at the ground, I heard two shouts at once, such as I had never heard before and shall never in my life hear again: ‘William! …’ ‘Emma! …’ How much passion, how much sorrow, how much joy, how much delirium in those two shouts! In my soul I heard only the distant echo of this, but enough to know its torment, and hurrying back onto my horse, I said to William: ‘Sir, take care of this poor young lady. I shall go and get her horse.’ This I did, and brought it back to those happy creatures, who, with hands interlocked, were gazing at one another and weeping; and in the veil of their tears shone an ardent passion, a boundless joy. Who can now remember what those lovers said to me? William, unable to speak, may have sobbed a word or two to me. I think he took my hand and called me his friend, but I cannot recall

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whether Emma also touched me. I hastened to leave them alone, once I knew that the lady had not suffered the slightest contusion and that they had no further need of me. […] Three Years Later For two years in a row I received letters from William, although there would be long intervals between them. Many surely went missing; and it was natural that this should happen, both of us being nomads travelling in more or less wild countries. I received some from Rio de Janeiro, from Minas Gerais, then from Mato Grosso; then a long silence, a painful interruption. Then all of a sudden the first letter came from Valparaiso, then, by Bobija, from Lima, Guayaquil. The last was from Quito. Map in hand, I strung together my unhappy friend’s strange itinerary, following its sorrowful stations. Long travel, changing places and activities were unavailing to bring peace to that desperate soul; it seemed, rather, that time only aggravated the pain and poisoned the wound. These were the pains with which one would live and die if one had to live for centuries. Some of those letters had such an aspect of torment that I could truly imagine them having been written on the eve of a suicide; but the deep piety and the religion of the uttered word, perhaps more than all this a ray of hope, kept William alive. After the last letter received from Quito in the summer of 1856, I heard no more from my friend, nor could anyone else give word of him. By now I was mourning his death, when I received a parcel from the British Legation of Buenos Aires, which I opened with great agitation. As I had neither affairs nor friends in England, in my heart I feared that these were my William’s papers. In the parcel I immediately found these few undated lines: My friend, Here, gathered together and sealed, you will find some letters: my dearest possession in the world. Keep them another ten years, and if during this time no one has come to you to ask for their return in my name, publish them. In so desiring this I heed the call of my Emma when she told me:


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Every act in your life must be a useful action; even our sorrows must be useful to someone. My friend, I thank you once again for all that you did for Emma one hour in Madeira, and all you have always done for Your William

[…] William to Emma London, 15 January 18–. Why are you silent, Miss Emma? Why are you so cruel? Were you perhaps born in Spain? Have you the blood of St Dominic in your veins? Have pity and slay me, then, in one single blow; every fibre of my heart is stirred, every feeling weeps; all the faculties of my soul are nought but pain; all that I am, all that I think, is only pain. I would never have believed that man could suffer so much and not grow weary in his pain. Byron was right to say that pain is half of his immortality. Hunger is sated, joy is sated, labour wearies, thought rests; ambition sleeps, greed sleeps, genius sleeps: but pain does not sleep, does not rest; no, it feeds upon itself, like the phoenix of ancient fable it is revived out of its own ashes; and when the nerves no longer suffice for such torment, pain changes shape and grows crueller still, and torture ever fresh. After a biting wrath, I feel a clawing torment; after torment, despair; after despair, bitterness; after bitterness, dejection, and then again torment and torture, the vampire that sucks the blood from my heart, the dismay of a frightening dream; and always, a bottomless chasm of pain, boundless, black, eternal, icy, inexorable. Ah! Miss Emma, anyone who has dared to laugh at religion has never suffered. And you are the executioner of so much torture; and you the only one in this world who understands me, who can understand the magnitude of my pain. You bring suffering not only to one man but to two generations of men … as you know. In me, love has united two races, two destinies. Two worlds. My mother was Italian, my father English; they were two natures

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whom Nature never made more remote, more different; and love, the most powerful of alchemists, was called upon to perform the miracle of reuniting them as one. And I feel two natures within me, two worlds of thoughts, sensations, joys, and sorrows. At every stroke I feel Vesuvius and the London fog; and you, laughingly, have more than once called me volcano and fog, depending on whether the Italian or the Englishman was speaking in me. Never as in these days have I felt what it means to be double. Hot senses, burning imagination fire me with the speed of lightning; I feel that in me Mongibello1 and Vesuvius flare at one time, and I gaze at myself and touch myself, thinking that so great a flame will consume my thin, frail body, and suffer and savour and feel like the children of the land that gave us Dante and Leonardo, Machiavelli and the Borgias; but the senses do not devour me, nor imaginings consume me; in my crater I have never seen ash, only the constant blazing fire. I feel like a man made of asbestos, always amid the flames yet never consumed. Amid delirium, the Englishman does not die; and I observe myself and count my heartbeats, and steel my will to put the fire out; and the man of action and the man of the senses breathe together, fight together, suffer together. And after delirium, when the man of the south, consumed by the flames, sleeps and rests, the Englishman rises refreshed, more active, more eccentric than ever, renewing passion and rekindling pain. I feel as an Italian does, I take action as an Englishman does; and if perpetual motion exists, and if eternal pain is no dream, then I find in myself perpetual motion and eternal pain. Nature that has given the volcanoes to Italy has given it a breeze perfumed with orange-groves, Nature has given the tropics the Arab’s jealousy and the lust of the seraglio, has also given it long sleeps and blissful yawns; but I have the volcano and the fog; I have the intensity and the expanse of pain. Why does love permit itself these cruel jokes, welding together the polar bear and the tiger, the pine tree and the rose, ice and fire? While I suffer from a nameless sorrow, which should be quelled in a wordless lament, in a thoughtless delirium; the Englishman’s will is to master pain and sorrow, bring forms of

1 Mount Etna, the active volcano on the east coast of Sicily [Editor].


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lofty thought to bear upon it, to change torture into an art, and in the tormented, throbbing viscera seek the beautiful. Emma, Emma, you have understood all this, you could have educated me, you could have managed to find the secret for bringing order to all these forces, so that I would not be a living paradox, but a good and useful man. Emma, why do you wish to kill yourself, why commit suicide? You sense this: that this is not pride on my part. Our souls are welded together, our hearts beat at one and the same time, the breath of your soul seeks out mine; in killing William, you bring death to yourself. Why should you, so young, so beautiful, so dear, wish to die? Why wish to cause the death of two creatures who, placed close by one another, would be so happy that they would bless the hour of their birth, and their father and mother, and the Creator who had made one for the other? What word, what secret can explain such a horrendous misdeed? I am growing superstitious; I seem to feel I am in the cold, dank grotto of a sibyl I cannot see, I seem to feel chills and be awaiting in some magic word the decree of my destiny. Does fate exist, then; is the nightmare real, does the witch exist, and magic and the arcane, the inexorable silence of the temple and the word that kills without reason? Does the invisible sword of destiny exist, hovering over one’s head, unjustly, unreasonably, prompting the cynic’s sneer, and the curse against life, against providence, against God? Why do I not go mad? Why can I not die? Yet even if I should be the last, the poorest, the unhappiest, the most contemptible of men, I am a man nonetheless, and you, a woman, must reach out your hand to one suffering so much. For one last time caress your victim before delivering him to the hangman’s noose; grace him with a single word. I am asking not for love, not for pity, I am asking for the charity of a word. It is three days since I have written to you; do you understand, Emma, what three days mean? Three days and three nights; seventy-two hours, since reading a piece of paper you signed and on which you told me that you could not be mine. The modern laws still allow the death penalty, yet the condemned man at least hears his sentence being read; he knows why he is being killed. Should I be treated worse than a killer, worse than a parricide? It is three days since you have received my letter, and you have managed to

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keep silent three days? Are you not a woman … not even a human being? Surely you are dead, you cannot be alive, knowing that, just a few steps from you, in front of your house, around the walls of your garden, a spirit restlessly roams that is your own, a part of yourself, dying of frostbite, its teeth chattering with cold and for which no one opens the door to warm it. Surely you are dead, Miss Emma. I am a weak, craven creature; I do ask you for pity, for the sake of your father, whom you constantly invoke and whom I hate as you do, as do all people, as does the universe … for the sake of your father, a word … Emma to William London, 16 January 18–. For the sake of my father, whom you hate, for the sake of your love for me, forget me, William. Do you not realize that I too am suffering, that I too curse the fate you dread, which is not some fantastic dream in our minds, but which exists, which is above us and stronger than us? Poor drops in a boundless sea, a sea to which we owe our joy and our pains. Before us duty exists, the human family exists before us, and to it we owe our sacrifice of blood and tears. The creature of a day has no right to snuff out the sun to warm himself or the nest of those he loves. Forget me, William, you will be fulfilling an obligation, performing a generous, great, and noble act, and I will be performing it with you. In the bond of a holy duty we shall be bound together for all of life. Remember your Emma, but love another woman; above all, forget me. Love is not everything for a human being, higher than love is virtue, is greatness of sacrifice – there dwells the happiness of the human family. All creatures love, all creatures burn with their fire of love; but man alone can put out love’s fire to become noble and great. Smother Vesuvius, William, and become an Englishman again. I suffer no less than you do, but I know how to calm myself, and dry my tears so that they will not fall upon this sheet of paper and leave a fire that will consume you, my good friend. I am entirely English, as you know; then too, dear William, I have always suffered, and grown mistress of my sorrow, whereas you rise up against your misfortune because it is the first sorrow you suffer. It is great, it is infinite, my dear William; I know, my William, how infinite it is; but before now I have wept a


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thousand times and for years and years have suffered, so that my life already seems rather long. But this sorrow is the first, and the greatest of my sorrows; it crushes me, drains me of all strength, kills me. Is it not enough, William mine, that I tell you this? Is this not yet enough? You wish to know more? On my own I did not feel the courage to fight; and in these three days of silence in which your imagination pictured me as utterly intent on tormenting you, I sought, loudly implored allies. My good aunt wept with me, but she too had need of the very force I asked of her. After two days of weeping, my dear William, I gathered up enough force to go to my father’s old physician; the one he had advised me to consult in the hardest moment of my life. Well, that good old man, after spending an entire day with me, ordered me out of England. And when you read this letter, I shall already be on the Continent. Do not ask where I take my steps, my sorrows. Leave a line, and nothing more, at my house, telling me that you obey me, and that you will live, and do your utmost to forget me, and transform yourself into my brother. And then, William, swear that you will not seek me out, nor ever write to me again. Farewell, my dear William; do not snuff out your youth, your strength, your genius in a barren path that can lead you only to despair. We are creatures too weak to struggle against all others. May your life not be a curse! Look within yourself, see how many difficult things you can accomplish: how many truths you can conquer; work, console, lift up the fallen, comfort the downcast, sow joy and truth all about you. Do this for my love, for love of your sister Emma. […] Emma to William San Terenzo, 20 April 18–. William, my dear William; do you need me to tell you for whom my heart beats, after so many months of shared distress, after so many shared sorrows; do you need words to know whom your poor Emma loves? Do you not know better than I? But Emma cannot be yours, nor anyone else’s; by a sacred oath she is bound to live alone, and die alone.

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My blood is cursed, and fatefully vowed to remain unmingled; neither your love nor mine nor all the human forces united together could conjure away the inexorable decree before which your Emma has bent her head for years now, even before knowing you. I pledged to my father never to become the bride of any man, before I knew what love is, and when affection for my father filled my heart. Scarcely more than a child myself, I pledged never to take upon my knees a babe that would gaze tenderly at me and laughing call me mamma! Now I know what it means to love: but I shall be neither bride nor mother, nor ever break my oath. Oh! Why, my dear William, did cruel fate ever thrust you in my path, why did you have to love me, why did you love me so much? Alone, I might have borne all the weight of my grief, alone I would have lost myself in the infinite emptiness of my solitude, alone with the memory of my father, proud to be fulfilling a duty, remaining loyal to his ashes, to the sanctity of my word! Why did I draw you into the vortex of my inexorable, immutable fatality? Listen to me, William, and you learn how equal our sorrows are. I do not know if I was born, as all human beings are, crying, but I do remember that my whole childhood was uninterrupted weeping, that I grew up in tears, and that I was to shed the bitterest tears yet once I became a woman. I lived amid a pain that, though ever varying, has never abated. I played with my older sisters, holding dearest a twelve-year-old brother, John; and when I could not live without him, he fell ill and, after a few bedridden months, died; and I remember Jenny, an angel of a sister, always dressed in white, with a tear in her eye that never dried, and who also died, slowly, slowly wasting away like a piece of sugar dissolving in water. In the duskiness of my earliest memories, I remember saying one day to Jenny, ‘Why do you grow more pale and thin each day?’ And Jenny, running into her room in a burst of tears, cried out, ‘Because I am dying.’ There was no laughter in my house. When my little brothers and sisters made noise, our father would stalk in with a warrior’s frightening scowl and silence us. There was always someone ill lying abed who could not be disturbed. The doctor and his medicines were always going and


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coming from our house with eternal monotony. At table too silence reigned, and we were accustomed to eating without scraping the fork and knife on our plate, and drinking without the glasses clinking against the bottles. For many years I recall that in our house we always dressed in mourning. We were twelve children; and I, as you can see, am the only one left; the last; and through my birth I killed the mother I thus never knew. My father too was always ill, coughing all the time, and I remember that for many winters we went with him to Nice or Pisa. Once we went as far as Algeria and remained for some months aboard a ship. I could count the words my father spoke to me in my life; but often he would hold me on his knees and kiss me hundreds of times, and pass his hands through my hair. He combed and dressed me himself, and I both loved and feared him; I felt for him the sort of veneration one feels praying to God in a large, deserted church. My father was so unhappy, bore upon his face the traces of a suffering so deep, so infinite, that I could not look at it without a compassion full of love and respect. At fifteen, I was the only one left of all the children to whom my father had given birth. All had died of consumption, and all those years my father faced the threat of dying a similar death. I remember that kissing him I always had to take care not to pull his left arm, where he bore a wound the doctors had opened in his flesh. Many times the house servants would give me a compassionate look and say to me with a cruel pity, ‘How hard for poor Emma, she doesn’t want to die, but who knows what will become of her?’ A maid of my aunt’s, really a good woman at heart, made me cry once for an entire day. My father had forbidden me to go out at evening into the park around our house, saying the cool night air would be bad for me; but one evening the moon was shining so beautifully behind the little stream’s pine trees that I asked Mary to accompany me to the park. I knew I was disobeying my father, but wanted my Mary to be my accomplice and abet me in this sin. Mary hesitated somewhat, and then, covering me with a warm coat, said, ‘Let us go, let us go, Emma, and for once enjoy the life that’s left you; your sister and brothers also followed all these precautions, and yet they are dead; come, let us go, let us go into the park.’

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I burst into tears and did not want to go see the moon between the stream’s pine trees and, mightily sobbing, told Mary I wanted to obey my father and did not want to die. I cried all that night and all the next day. So, my dear William, went the childhood of your Emma; so I lived my adolescence, and when I sensed I had become a woman, in the age in which a world of paradise, all poetry and all hope, opens up to every other young girl, I was accustomed to living only amid tears, and seeing my family so unhappy and utterly blameless, that more than once I wondered why God had dealt so unfairly with us; why we alone should have to be devoted to living in a cemetery that had always had a grave lying open for us. Poor Aunt Anna was a good woman, and you know her, William, a very good woman, who had been a nurse to my mother and my eleven siblings; but she never comforted me with her fond, long speeches. She never cried, because her eyes were always moist and red, as though tired and worn out by now for having already shed so many tears, and when I questioned her in order to discover what awful mystery weighed upon our house, she would answer with some monosyllable and immediately start fussing over my little flannel jacket and my damp stockings; and I could not breathe once more than usual without everyone being alarmed, putting me to bed, and summoning the doctor. When I was very young, my father called a new physician, Dr Thom, who from that moment on became his dearest friend, and was the only person I saw laugh, the only one who brought a ray of light and pleasure into the eternal shades of our family. To him I owe the sole consolations of my early youth. My father, when he had lost all his little children and I alone remained, made Dr Thom pay me a visit, even when I felt perfectly fine; but that good doctor managed somehow never to be annoyed and always ended with the same words: ‘Miss Emma is delicate but healthy, there is no cause for alarm.’ One autumn my father was sicker than usual, and Dr Thom advised him to leave at once for Menton. We left, but my poor papa was so weak that it was necessary to stop at every point along the way, and it took a full fortnight to go from London to the Mediterranean.


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At Menton he spent almost the entire winter in bed, and I had to walk over meadows and mountains alone with the governess, because my father always said, against the opinion of the doctors, that his illness was contagious; and he did not want me to stay more than a few moments in his room: and even when, in the morning and evening, we went to say our good mornings and good nights, he was never willing to kiss me on the lips, but only on the forehead. Dr Thom had come from London and suggested a change in treatment that restored his strength within a few days. He rose and, leaning upon a stick, would spend several hours in the garden. Aunt Anna and I were quite pleased with this improvement, but when we tried to make our patient smile, he would simply shake his head and on his face reveal a desperation that frightened us. One day he rose early and gave orders for us to ready ourselves to return to London. Aunt Anna and I, worried by this rash decision, ran to him, attempting to steer him from his plan. Dr Thom had ordered him to stay in Menton until he himself gave him leave to depart, but now, for the first time, my father was disobeying his doctor. Aunt Anna shouted, threatened; I threw myself at my father’s knees and, tightly embracing him, begged him for the sake of my love to wait until the air was a little warmer to undertake such an ambitious voyage. It was all to no avail, and he grew so exasperated that he stood up and shouted, ‘I wish to go and die in England; I wish to die in my own home.’ I had never heard such a tone from my father and, withdrawing to pack our trunks, wept for a long time, convinced that in those words I had read my poor papa’s death sentence. In eight days we were back in London: but my father arrived there in a deplorable state. Dr Thom, the moment he saw him, shook his head and said, ‘This man wanted to kill himself!’ For ten days my father lay abed devoured by a fierce fever, and then one evening he summoned me to him. It was late evening, and I was just about to retire for the night. I found him there alone: the oil lamp was dimmed and hidden. My father was seated on his bed, and scarcely had he drawn me to him than he took my hand, and I felt him burning and damp with sweat. Without letting go of my hand, he motioned me to sit on the bed and said to me:

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‘Emma, do you know why all your brothers and sisters have died? Do you know why for so many years our house has been a cemetery? … Because I have killed all my children.’ And my father dried the sweat from his pale brow, which seemed waxen, and passed his hand through his hair. ‘Yes, my dear Emma, I have killed your brothers; I have killed your sisters, and condemned you to an unhappy life.’ ‘Papa, dear Papa, this is mad talk, you are delirious,’ I muttered. ‘No, I am not delirious; I was sick, I had in my blood the germ of the illness that is killing me now, and I have transmitted it to my little children and killed them. I had no right to become a father, yet I wanted to have a family; I had received only nature’s condemnation, but instead I wanted to have children, and I have poisoned them all with my blood, killed them all, you understand?’ … And my father, seized with a strong fit of coughing, had to rest and take several sips of water before continuing his speech. ‘And you, my dear Emma, bear the same poison in your blood: and only the efforts of art and a posthumous pity from Providence have sustained you, so that you might close the eyes of your poor father, who without you would die alone, alone with his remorse and the weight of a repentance that can end only in the grave; but you, dear Emma, can become no one’s bride; you must not become a mother. You must swear to me, Emma, swear here on this page that I have written for you and that you are to read when I have died. You are to live with Aunt Anna. Do whatever you wish: devote your life to the arts; to travel, to charity, to religion; I grant you anything except to become any man’s wife, ever, ever. Swear to me, Emma … only if you swear this to me will I die in peace.’ I wept and stifled my lament to spare my father further desperation; I understood none of this; I understood only that a word from me would console my dying father; but sobs and tears prevented me from speaking. ‘Then swear to me, Emma, swear it; I am dying; I cannot wait.’ My father was gasping horribly for breath. ‘Yes, I swear it, Papa, I swear it.’ ‘Swear it by your mother, by your father.’ ‘Yes, papa, I swear by you and by my mother. I shall live and die alone.’


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My dear William, my father’s eyes shone at that moment with a divine joy. He threw his arms about my neck and covered me in kisses, and I, beside him, wept and wept while I felt that his arms and hands were growing chill. I cannot remember what happened after that, I remember only that a few moments later my father was dead. William, do you now understand why Emma cannot be yours? Do you now understand my pain? Do you still have the courage to curse me? William, what was written on the pages left me by my father? Read and see if anyone in this world can rightly claim to be more hapless than I. Farewell, William, come to see me when you have vowed to yourself that you can be that you wish to be, only my friend, only my brother. No one has the right to give life to others when reason, experience, universal agreement shout aloud that this life will be brief, and sickly, and unhappy. […] William to Emma London, 3 July 18–. How joyfully, catching sight of our letters, do I see that a long chasm of days separates the last that you will be writing in the paradise of San Terenzo from the one that, at a few minutes’ distance from your house, I am writing under the grey London sky. You, my tyrant, have ordered eight days of exile, and your slave, humbly kissing the hand of his master, has accepted the exile. You have told me smiling, and giving me a little grimace, that I see you too often, that I was stealing over the borders that must separate us, that the brother is growing too much like a lover; and I suffer the pains of my attempted transgression. I am not complaining, Emma; I shall try to become a true brother, nought but a brother to you. It is no easy craft and one I never learned, having been an only child, but with a master as patient and calm as Miss Emma I shall make strides, and I too shall become a master of brotherliness toward the woman loved more than anything else in this world. But no, no: I haven’t the right to complain – nor to conceal my sorrow beneath a varnish of malign irony. Have you not given me hope, have you not decided, out of love for me, to consult the three most celebrated doctors in London to

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find out if, by recovering your strength, you might not be able to become a mother without fear and without dishonouring your father’s memory? And would I have the right to accuse you, in that, being stronger and better than I, you lead me back, with a gentle and imperious look, onto the path of duty? Emma, Emma, I feel I am so small a thing when I am near you, that you could do with me then whatever you will. I have a duty to obey you my entire life, because you once allowed me to command you; and weeping by the tomb of your father, you asked his shade to release you from the tyranny of an oath that has enchained you for a lifetime. When I think, Emma dear, of the long struggles you waged in San Terenzo and here in London, I feel proud to be loving you. Love and duty have warred so bitterly that I could not tell you if I loved you more when, in tears, you said to me, ‘My father will forgive us, will he not?’ or when, suddenly sitting up, you exclaimed, ‘William, our love would be something too base if duty could not conquer it!’ And you came here to London to consult the shade of your father, and, through the mouthpiece of old Dr Thom, he answered you that if frail, cough-racked Emma were once to become a strong, sturdy woman, she could, without grief to her living soul, give her hand in marriage to William. Your father, Dr Thom told you, would twice bless you if you knew you could manage to be happy and faithful to the spirit of his word. Woe to man if he had not dams of duty, if he had not to prop his faith, his conviction, on the cornerstone of indisputable principles! Woe to us if man had in each instance to weigh on scales passion, reason, eternal oaths, and the negotiations of conscience to decide how to act! It would be tantamount to losing his dignity and living his whole life in a nauseous, see-sawing seasickness. A hundred times you have said this to me, Emma, and you have convinced me. Man must bow his head to duty; but when our frail nature is about to dash itself against that ever sturdy column, hurl your from the billowing wave of life, you are allowed to ask for help; and none ever dared call the drowning man base who asks for such help. Now we have asked Dr Thom for a rescue plank, and he has thrown it out to us and made us happy; because in a sky that has long glowered with the blackness of the hurricane, a rim of blue sky has pierced the clouds. To the two of us, poor castaways on the


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sea of life, Dr Thom has thrown the rope-line of hope, and we have held out and won with the fierce tenacity of the dying man who sees the smiling shore a brief arm’s-length away, yet still does not reach it. Emma, my Emma, my love for you is as large as the world; in it I see an image of the infinite; but I would not wish to be yours by the sacrifice of your duty, by violating an oath. Had I loved another woman, my egotism would have smashed everything, would have forced the sanctuary doors, but before you, Emma, I bow my head and wait. You have carried me into a sphere too lofty to permit me to separate love from duty; and if, in giving me your love, you had to take away your respect for me, I would tell you, ‘Emma, without your love I shall die, but I wish to die with your respect.’ When with my mind’s eye my gaze seeks you out and you appear before me as serene and as beautiful as a starry sky, without wishing to I always picture myself prostrate at your feet, because you are so far from me, so much higher. If there are angels and the angels love, they must be loved as I love you, my dear Emma. You can be sure that, in our consulting the leading doctors in England, and then your declaring yourself prepared to bow your head, I certainly did not wish to make you unhappy: I wanted only that you not need to make others unhappy. At Dr Thom’s word the most scrupulous conscience can keep calm and assured. He was your father’s closest friend and first confidant; he knew the man’s every thought, read deeply into that noble and tortured soul. He accepted the mission to enlighten you with his knowledge, correcting you with his broad, sure experience. When he speaks to you, it is the voice of your father that caresses your ear; when he commands you, as you have said yourself, it is the authoritative accent of a father who convinces and subdues you. If he said to you, ‘Emma, recover and hope,’ this ray of hope comes from your father, and we must receive it with the holiest reverence, the most serene joy. Emma, console these days of my exile with long letters; give the prisoner a half-hour of light and air; grant him to await his sentence without dying. […]

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Aunt Anna to William London, 3 August. William, our Emma is dead; I can find no other word, I cannot imagine the pious hypocrisy that would allow me to silence this fact. Ah William, you who have loved her so, you who will live for all eternity with the memory of that angel we have lost, will understand my brutality. Why should I attempt to conceal from you the awful news amid the folds of long periods, why should I attempt to conceal it in the last page of my letter? I am sure that on opening this sheet of paper, you will scent in the air the odour of the grave, and I could not deceive you. For a while I might forestall the dread word, but silence would be crueller still. She had sworn to write to you at every post, and you would have received no more news from Emma. There is something worse than death, and that is agony. It is a fortnight since our Emma has been laid to rest in the pine grove in the park, near the little bridge; and only because the courier is leaving today have I managed, after long torment, to take pen to paper and write to you. William, how can those who do not believe in God tolerate life, how can we feel ourselves tear out the beating heart in fine shreds, while we go on living, without believing that we shall someday see our loved ones again? I have read that the inhabitants of Abyssinia tear palpitating strips of flesh from their oxen and then have them cooked for their food: and so, day by day, do they slaughter and torture those poor animals, until there remain only the bones and the guts, half living, half dead. But all told, are we not, over the course of our life, equal to the oxen of Abyssinia? Do we not lose, strip by strip, our holiest affections, until anyone who lives long enough finds himself reduced to a fleshless, joyless skeleton that goes on walking nonetheless, weary and pale from the long habit of having lived? William, just think that your Emma died with the assurance of seeing you again in a better world and shut her eyes calmly and serenely, trusting that you will manage to withstand your pain and not push forward the clock of your life by a single minute. As long as I live I shall weep for my Emma, whom I loved like my own daughter, yet through my tears I shall always have the cherished hope of


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seeing her again. And you too, William, must weep for her in this way; return to England to kiss her tomb, return to us. I have been so very alone, the last of a numerous family extinguished over just a few years. You are my adoptive child, come and give solace to a poor old woman who walks in silence in a vast house and takes fright at the sound of her own steps, the last remainder of so much life, so much sound. For many years she had not heard the glad uproar of little children, the shouts of innocent crying, the exclamations to old Aunt Anna; but for a year Emma filled the house once more with new life. Wherever that angel moved, wherever she breathed, there was an ever flourishing garden. She did not say a word that was not a living poem; never wore a smile that was not a caress; melancholy, infirm, suffering, she had nothing but joys and benedictions for the creatures who came near her. What a void a creature whom one loves leaves in this world! Come, William, and gather up all this heritage of perfumes and passions. It is yours, yours only, none before you will be coming to profane it. I have closed the house to the curious, the distant relatives, the friends. The house in which your Emma lived is all yours, yours only. Let me be sole keeper of your cemetery. You will still find the harpsichord open, and on the stand, the last music she played. In the glass beside the bed in which she died you will find her flowers, dried now but still fragrant; you will see her clock, which ticked on another seven hours after she died; you will still find her canary alive. On her easel you will see an unfinished drawing; you will find her clothes, her favourite books: you will find everything but our Emma, who rests in peace in the park, beside her father. Come, William, do not die in distant lands, among foreigners who do not understand you, people who have not known you; come and take in the last breath of that soul who has lived for you, and you alone. Come and kiss her spirit that flies about this nest, like a butterfly beating its delicate wings against the windowpanes in quest of the rays of a sun that no longer sets. Our Emma felt death near, and, despite her resoluteness, she feared it. Days before it came, she wished not to be alone any more and, when she had a maid or friend by her, would be put out by mere trifles, contradict everything, and fly into a rage. She, always the most patient of

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persons, would snap at her maids, then regret her conduct and beg their pardon. She said she felt fine but coughed more than usual and had no appetite; and after having said a few words, she would be tired; and even a few steps of the stairs made her terribly winded. I suggested a doctor be summoned; but at that proposal she unleashed her furies and turned so red in the face I thought a raging fever had struck her with the speed of lightning. Restless, irascible, unhappy with everything, she would lie upon her bed, then rise to sit, then, collapsing again, fling herself head first among the pillows. In a single hour she would do a hundred things; in a single hour she would read, write, play the harpsichord, try to paint, ask for the newspapers, roam through the library, and nothing would satisfy her. In the hottest hours of the day her strength was so spent that she would not leave her room. I saw her suffering but could not console her. I tried every way of doing so, but it was a deep, irremediable pain that gnawed at her bowels; and I did not insist on importuning her with my questions and advice. She who had always had the ability to read into the heart of anyone around her without need of words, was grateful now for my respectful silence. One morning – it was to be her last – I rose late, as I did not feel very well, and, asking for Emma, was told that she had risen very early and, wrapped in her shawl, had left the house, saying to the maid, ‘Tell my aunt that I have taken the first train to Bath, to visit my father’s grave, but that I shall be back at meal time.’ The whole day I was nervous, my eyes impatiently gazed at the clock, and more than once I put my ear to it, for it seemed to me to have stopped, so slowly did the time seem to be passing. Finally at four she returned: I ran to her: she was deathly pale, unable to speak from the sheer labour of having to walk upstairs. She tried to smile at me and, as though with mute lips, tried to reply to the hundred questions that rushed into my mind and were engraved upon my worried face and frantic gestures. She rushed into her bedroom and crashed down upon the sofa, with neither time nor strength to remove her shawl, hat, or gloves. Her hands were frozen, and the only signs of life in her were repeated shudders and deep, laboured sighs.


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I pulled the small bell with such force that I tore the rope: I shouted for someone to fetch the doctor at once, and then, beside myself, supporting myself against the chairs and walls, thinking I would fall in a faint with each step, and with each step renewing the force of my will, I left her room looking for I know not what. I wanted to do a world of things all at once; wanted to have mustard, fire, cologne; would have wanted to have all the doctors and the pharmacists of London by me; but above all I looked for William. It seemed in that moment that you were the thing most necessary to my Emma. I went back in a few minutes later; only to see the maid tearing her hair and hear her scream wildly, ‘My mistress is dead! Miss Emma is dying!’ I approached the bed and saw how my child had turned the colour of wax: her livid, bloodless lips were swimming on the pillow in a pool of blood that also flooded the bed and had fallen upon the rug. Those lips were opening and closing, and her last breath gurgling in the blood. I threw myself upon my child, squeezed her in an embrace, shouted to her, ‘Emma! Emma!’ with such force that my cries frightened me. She opened her eyes, attempted to speak, lifted a hand and motioned to the writing desk, and then, raising herself and pulling herself together in a supreme effort, leaned her lips to my ear and clearly pronounced your name, William; and then fell back, and I lost my senses. William, for two days and two nights I was beside myself and opened my eyes only to weep, for all that remains to me in years or months in this world; I opened my eyes again only to feel wretched and alone. Only a few days after the death of our Emma did I remember that supreme gesture with which she had motioned me to the writing desk, and with religious fear I approached it and opened the drawer. I instantly glimpsed a letter sealed and addressed to you. I am sending it to you, William, having kissed it a hundred times. I feel that in those pages our angel must have enclosed some sacred thought that will be a balm for you who loved her so. I feel that in those pages you will find the courage to live, the strength to hope; and I cannot detach myself from that final treasure without pain and a terrible apprehension that, in such a long voyage, it can go lost. May an angel accompany those pages across the ocean: may they reach you intact …

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William, I know that with this letter I have given you the cruellest torment that a human heart can bear; but I too weep and suffer and live because I wait for you: and I shall count the days and hours, because I know that with the first postal boat from Panama you will be here with me. From then on I shall keep away from the house our Emma lived in every curious person, even friends. No one shall touch her books, her flowers, her harpsichord, anything that was hers. No one shall take profane steps there, beneath the pines, where she rests beside her father. More than once she told me that she would sleep her last sleep there; and I have laid here there for ever. Come to weep with your old Aunt Anna over that grave. Come, William, come at once; I await you. Emma’s last letter bore the date of 14 July, the eve of her death. William, I feel I am dying. I did not say so to my good Aunt Anna, nor to the doctor, because I feel it would all be useless. The gentle climate of Madeira cast a thin veil over my wound, but the London fogs have reopened it, crueller than ever. I can no longer live, and the only thing that grieves me is that I shall die without having seen you. Every hour, every hour I gaze at your portrait, and I gaze at you with such intense desire that it seems you must reply to me, that you must see me one last time. But you will not come. And then the thought frightens me that I shall have to die suddenly. In my breast I feel a burning fire; it seems something is going to burst from one moment to the next. All this means nothing, my dear William, everyone dies: dying should be an easy thing. I have in me one divine joy that gives me courage, that makes me proud to have lived, that makes me blessed to have known you, to have loved you, and to have been so loved by you! How selfish we are; I am about to die, and rejoice like some young girl in the blessed certainty that you will belong to no other woman, that you have belonged and will belong to no one but your Emma. But you have loved me too much! I leave you too rich a treasure of memories, too splendid a legacy of affections, for you to be someone


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else’s. This thought makes me delirious with joy. I must place my two hands on my breast and squeeze those hands tight, for my heart races so fast it seems to want to choke me. My faith in your love is as sure as my faith in God. Ah, Father, I have done your bidding. Tomorrow I shall go to visit your tomb, shall go and murmur in your ear that your Emma has kept her word and is worthy of you, that she is dying without having brought into the world other unfortunates who would have died like herself, but who might have cursed life and her who gave it to them. You, no, Father, you were not to blame for having brought me into the world; you did not know you were ill when you gave me life. Do you not see, dear William? I was right to resist your love, to resist your hopes. The climate of Madeira closed up my wound, but it did not cure me. Had I given you my hand in marriage, we would have had children cursed in their mother’s womb. An eternal remorse would have poisoned our love; I would have been unable to think of my father. It would have been a hell. But you must live, dear William, as you swore to me you would, my William; here at the bottom of this page, on which your Emma’s pale, gaunt hand has rested for the last time, you must write your oath; you must swear, for the sake of this little daisy, this first flower you picked for me in the park at Bath, when you told me, wordlessly, that you loved me. You must swear upon this lock of hair, upon which one day, in a delirium of love, you planted a kiss. These are the relics of your Emma. When your last day will come, be buried with these; keep them for me, until we meet again in heaven. William mine, you must not only live, you must make your life fruitful with courageous works, great works. Your splendid mind can find in all places a field of activity. In science, in travels perilous and new, in the ardent terrain of politics, you can, must be a great, useful, powerful man. Do all the good I myself could not do, that we could not do together. And I too shall not have lived in vain, because my memory will accompany you in your struggles, in your weal and woe. I die with the pride of having inspired lofty sentiments in you, great and useful accomplishments. When, in the silence of your study, your mind will dictate sublime pages that teach men to be honest, remember that the shade of your

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Emma is near you; that she crosses her thin, pale hands in her lap; know that she is contemplating you, smiling in the flashes of your keen mind. And when, in the struggle of political passions, you will fight for freedom; when, in the whirlwind of affairs, your sublime warrior’s eyes will flash, remember that amid the crowd the shade of your Emma is concealed; remember that she is applauding your triumphs, weeping with joy to have been loved by a man so noble, great, and generous. And when you come to the poor man’s house, and when you dry a tear, when you study the sad problems of impoverishment and suffering, remember that I see you and hear you, weep and rejoice with you. And when you contemplate the beauties of nature, which we worshipped together so many times like two devout priests of beauty, and in the blue of a calm sky and the moon’s melancholy ray and the mystic silence of the thick woods, and among the grasses of the fragrant meadows and the tossing wave of lakes and the howl of the sea, remember that I am with you; am hidden but trembling with love, mute but sighing, blessed to be accompanying you everywhere, to be living still in your hopes, your memory. Dedicate to me every good work, every sacred idea, every generous impulse, and your Emma will be proud of all your ingenuity, of everything great that you do. She waits for you, awaits you sure of clutching your breast in an eternal embrace, carefree, free of regrets; unslaked with a thirst that will have lasted infinite centuries, but which the infinite will have to extinguish. Your Emma is leaving and waits for you there where you too will come. Farewell. Live and be great; live and be useful; live and spare the living soul suffering; live and love me; as I shall eternally love you. Traced in violent, tremulous characters below this page read the lines ‘I swear, my Emma, that I shall live. I swear to you to be useful and diligent, I swear it by your love. Quito, 27 October 18–. William.’ Since receiving the relics of Emma and William, I have always waited religiously, and silently, for a letter telling me something of my hapless friend, and I have always waited in vain.


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Ten years have passed and I have the right to publish these ardent pages of two of the noblest creatures I have ever known. Despite my right, I have written to England several times, to William, to Aunt Anna, but never have I received any response. And after having waited to the last hour for a word from my friend, I have thought to publish the papers he sent me. I hold the firm conviction that having read them will harm no one and will do many good.

From A Voyage to Lapland with My Friend Stephen Sommier

Chapter 1 Scandinavian Notes – The Lake of Blonde Tresses – Copenhagen – Sweden’s Canals and Lakes – From Göteborg to Stockholm – Stockholm and the Swedes – A Meal at Retzius’s House i Voyages undertaken in haste have their advantages, and do not deserve the ill repute in which they are so often held. After all, in the fevered pace of life today, what do we not rush through? Do we read every word of a book? Do we study a political reform for ten years before enacting it? Do we even perchance remember what we did yesterday? We have been put to sleep for so many years with the lullaby of immutable dogmas that, once awake, we go running off for who knows how long. Then too, when one knows how to read well, one can also read quickly, except in those very rare cases in which the book is an artistic gem to gaze upon, contemplate, caress, and which, like some beloved lady, reveals to us every day new treasures, new beauties. So with voyages; they too can be made well and quickly, and even from the window of a wagon or an inn, many precious aesthetic and psychological medals may flash in thought’s stenography. Cross, for example, the picturesque mountains and the beckoning valleys of the Tyrol; in the railroad stations you hear the poetical blast of mountain trumpets, at the crossroads of country roads you see the large crucifixes guarding over the corn’s ripening, and you recall the deeply religious feelings of the good Tyrolians. Cross the woods of the Black Forest, the fields of central Germany, and see hung about everywhere the artificial nests that bid the Lord’s small birds to live beside human dwellings, and


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you find here revealed a page of Germanic sentiment, so lovingly protecting small creatures. And so forth. Even those with little time to spend I advise to spend a month in Scandinavia without remorse for hurrying their travels. It will be a shower for the psyche, refreshing their fevered blood. What a splendid thing it is to rest eyes that in the Italian summer must look upon so many parched meadows, to rest them upon endless plains, cool green meadows, or let them wander calmly over dense forests of pine and birch! How splendid to rest the ears in the silence of a society that moves, amuses itself, and toils without making noise! Here, even in the large cities, the bells do not toll, the dogs do not bark, newspaper sellers do not shout, the urchins do not curse: all is still, reposing in a serene contemplation of nature, and activity itself is also calm and noiseless. Silence for the eyes, silence for the ears, and silence too for that other sense, the quintessence of them all, and which makes the daughters of Eve so endearing. In Italy we have too many heads of raven-black hair sending off sparks, like a feline’s electric fur; we have too many pitch-black pupils in whose deep abysses one loses the serene peace of a tranquil life. Here, from Copenhagen on, you will swim in a calm lake of fair tresses (if you’ll permit me this harmless baroque conceit). Ah, how much blondness, and oh how many beautiful, beautiful shades of blonde there are! The blonde of linen stubble and the blonde of cornsilk, chifel blonde and auburn blonde, which shines in the sunlight like molten gold, and chestnut blonde, with its thousands of undulations of in-between shades; and then, beneath those blonde frames, so much milk and so many Bengal rose petals that one feels refreshed the whole way, and cured of the conflagrations of our women’s raven tresses and deep pupils. There is something else refreshing and reposeful in the feminine world of Scandinavia: the lack of the curvilinear and of serpentine movement. (May the geographers forgive me, but ethnologically and psychologically I am including Denmark in Scandinavia.)1 In Germany one already starts to see that men move with another system of joints,

1 Mantegazza here takes a definite position on an issue that continues to keep debates open: although Denmark partakes of Scandinavian culture, geographically it belongs to continental Europe, and hence its status makes it more difficult to define Scandinavia precisely [Editor].

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and that ladies, not to show them up, follow suit; thus, in Scandinavia the curving line of movement is strictly forbidden in all cases and all directions. People walk at an angle, laugh at an angle, sit at an acute angle. You will find beauty, strength, majesty, thousands of aesthetic elements in the human figure, but grace is absent and unknown. Who will show me even one of those supple movements that are a poem of elegance and sensuousness; who will show me the grace of the GraecoLatin races? Yet the angles have their own refreshing, calming aspect too, and if you go to Scandinavia, they will do you great good. I beg our own beauties, on hearing this, not to swell with pride. Up north their sisters have a breeding that is truly surprising, and a serious, profound breeding it is, not the gloss of patent leather and Dutch enamel. In Stockholm I was able to speak Italian (imagine with what pleasure) with Countess Hamilton and Mrs Retzius, the wife of one of the most distinguished anthropologists;2 but then those two ladies also speak French, German, and English extremely well. Here the most distinguished professors have true working partners in their spouses. One of these ladies is a photographer, another works with microscopy or dissects insects, because the man has made her the helpmeet of his labours as well as of his joys; and in Italy too I know ladies with raven hair and deep pupils who could certainly do what their Scandinavian sisters do on a daily basis. In Copenhagen something else consoled me – not seeing ragamuffins on the streets; nor have I seen them anywhere else. The filthy, tattered urchin does not exist, one does not find the unwashed workingman, lacking many parts of his attire; every man, every woman has a clean, decent appearance; you could say that the proletarian does not exist, or at least is hidden. In addition, people show great respect for one another and want to be respected; in shops one must remove one’s hat; in a great many places one cannot smoke; there is great order all about. One feels, then, that one is living in a saner, cleaner society, both 2 Magnus Gustaf Retzius (1842–1919), a Swedish physician and anatomist. He pursued extensive research into the histology of the nervous system and sense organs and was the author of more than three hundred studies in a variety of scientific fields such as anatomy, anthropology, and zoology. Together with his wife, Anna Hierta, he founded the Hierta-Retzius Foundation in support of biological research and socially oriented scientific projects [Editor].


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indoors and out, one that is toned and vigorous; not fitful and jaded, agitated one moment and collapsing the next. In the park of Frederikstoy at Pentecost I saw thousands upon thousands of people strolling; a wave of calm, serene people, smiling, speaking little, yet apparently well entertained. I then spent more than eight hours in Tivoli,3 studying the blessed naivety of a populace happy because it feels fine and needs no inebriation to enjoy life. Naivety is a quality that, for some time now, has disappeared from the Latin races: in Copenhagen’s Tivoli there was enough of it to flood all Italy. This fine people amused itself on Russian sleds, in bowling matches, in breaking pipes with wooden balls, and a printed announcement enjoined them, Pubblicums opmaerksomhed henledes paa TULIPANFLORET – to admire the extraordinary beauty of the tulips in bloom … Who, oh who, can bring us even a little of this sancta simplicitas? And here I am ready to end my description without having said anything about Copenhagen; but my official character as an anthropologist bids me to study humankind with livelier affection; besides, you need only open a guidebook and you will find for yourself the description of monuments, museums, churches. Denmark has erected a veritable temple to its Torwaldsen,4 in which all his works, either originals or copies, are assembled. It is at once a palace and a church, in which you can admire all the fruits of one of the most productive of modern artists. Italy has not managed to do as much for its native son Canova, much less its Raphael or Michelangelo; but then the Danes have not been as rich in artistic glories, and every one of our cities is both a museum and a temple. The prehistoric museum and the ethnological museum of Copenhagen are indisputably the leading ones in the world, and I cannot speak of them lightly, just as one can speak only confidentially and in a hushed voice about the lady one loves. I have spent enough hours in them for my eyes to go blind and my legs to fail me. Steinhauer and Worsoe honoured me with the courtesy and grace that are such an endearing quality in all Scandinavians.

3 A celebrated amusement park in Copenhagen, opened in 1843 [Editor]. 4 Bertel Thorvaldsen (or Thorwaldsen) (1770–1844), a Danish sculptor who spent most of his life in Rome at the time of Canova [Editor].

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A short while ago, in the very lovely castle of Rosenborg, a third museum was created, which gathers together the artistic and industrial products of the modern era, so that, without leaving Copenhagen, you can trace the historical evolution of human labour from the enormous flint hatchets of the fathers of the Scans to the latest fancy goods of our trinket-cluttered century. Copenhagen is an austere and beautiful city. Some palaces have a thoroughly Greek architecture, no houses have balconies; the roads are broad and straight; all about there are trees. Gigantism and tastelessness are ubiquitous: tramways look like towers, omnibuses seem to be whales, and people walk about rigged out in dress that suggests that tailors do not exist in Denmark and the clothing has been brought to the city from some faraway country by people no one there has ever laid eyes on. ii To go from Göteborg to Stockholm, I traversed Sweden, following the lake route and failing at every turn to summon words of praise, from our lexicon or the even more amazing German vocabulary, sufficient to admire all the beauties that passed before my enchanted eyes: wunderschön, wundergross, wunderhübsch … In Scandinavia it is necessary to know German, and on the coasts of Norway one must know English in order not to live in isolation amid a world that we do not understand and that does not understand us. Unfortunately, however, even German and English help only for speaking with educated people; in shops, among the common people, with railway employees, one must use the universal language of gesture, and the even more eloquent one of money and threats – the two poles within which so many things move and operate in this sublunary world. My admiration lasted three days and three nights, and then finally was sufficiently spent to be declared dead. Our poor human nerves also have their limits, and the cup of joy, alas, has a bottom too soon discovered. I advise touristes not to take the steamboat to Göteborg, but to reach it by railway to Trollhättan, the better, and more calmly, to visit the enchanting falls at Gotaelo. That is what I did; and on foot, blissfully savouring the soft, cool contact with the mosses and erpines, I moved from one cascade to another, under the guidance of the sprightly blonde little scamp who wore emblazoned on his cap Cicerone No. 12 –


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an Italian word found at long last deep in Sweden and worn on the head of the sweetest, most innocent little lad I have ever laid eyes on. The eleven other ciceroni were his companions at the station, but as soon as they saw that they had not been chosen as our guide, they bade us a courteous goodbye, without cursing the heavens or shaking a fist at their luckier rival. What a difference between those numbered Trollhättan ciceroni and our own, who have no numbers on their caps but are so often insolent, brutish, and insufferable! Anyone who has seen the classic waterfalls of Switzerland will find those in Sweden less imposing, yet nowhere will you see a greater number, one after another, or a greater variety. Here the river suddenly hurtles from a great height, surrounding a cliff with a coterie, and, a little further on, gathers up a jet of foam to fling into a black, narrow, deep abyss; while half a kilometre off, the frothing waters make three or four leaps between the cliffs, in alternation with billowing rests, like a horse shaking its mane amid its caracoles. The falls are framed by gentle hills covered with pine trees and paper-making factories and romantic cottages that jut out in pert profiles among the trees. Spend the night in the Trollhättan hotel, built entirely of wood and redolent of pleasant pine scent and bunches of flowers and sprigs of juniper or pine, which you will find scattered through the entrance-hall of the houses or gathered in small saucers set on the floor in each room; a Swedish and Norwegian custom full of a heady poetry. The next morning, leave this land and embark on the Baltzar von Platen, a steamer that greatly resembles a great cetacean but which bears an illustrious name, that of the man who, with iron tenacity, gave Sweden one of the longest and most wondrous waterways known to the world.5 No poverty in the country, no greed of ministers, no whim of parliament could steer him from the purpose; and today, with systems of basins that follow upon one another like steps of a giant staircase, hundreds of winding canals connect an entire system of natural lake, by

5 Count Baltzar Bogislaus von Platen (1766–1829), a Swedish naval officer and statesman, became chairman of the Göta Canal directorate, in charge of the construction of a canal across Sweden. As Mantegazza here notes, the canal was completed only after von Platen’s death, in 1832. His grave, on the Göta Canal in Motala, has become a tourist attraction [Editor].

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which iron, timber, and passengers move from Göteborg to Stockholm and reunite two seas and two coasts in a brotherly embrace. Poor Platen died just a few years before his enormous undertaking was concluded, yet died happy in the knowledge that its existence was forever secured. He wanted no grand monuments: he sleeps out his final rest on the banks of his canal near Motala, in the shadow of huge birches, and I have doffed my hat to him upon finding that he had chosen for himself the greatest and most poetic of tombs. The man who sleeps at the foot of his own work must sleep the sweetest and most glorious of sleeps. Traversing the wondrous valleys of Scotland once, I remembered our own great Leonardo and the distant glories of my country. As a passionate lover of natural beauty, I have experienced ecstasy a hundred times over on seeing from afar the enormous ships raising their masts above the pines, confirming with my own eyes the dream of an enchanted ship moving amid the forests and over the hilltops. With truly incredible, consummate skill these sailors slip their steamships and their large ships into these basins, plying up and down without collisions, without jolts, without the least incident. The pilot too must be extremely adept, since at every moment the canal winds and winds again, serpent-like, following the whims of the woods and the plains, hugging the banks to kiss its flowers, and surely not to harm the boat. At Venersborg the canal abruptly opens into Lake Vener, Sweden’s largest, and the third largest in all of Europe. It will suffice to tell you that it has a surface of 5,214 square kilometres, a length of 150 kilometres, and a width of 75. It is, then, a veritable sea, indeed has its own storms and shipwrecks, yet I found it calm and caressing, covered over with a splendid blue sky, and around which was a halo of white clouds whose nearly southerly shapes made for it a lovely crown. After having wound among pines and navigated over the mountains, this great, calm, silent lake produced in me a new, deep sensation, reminding me of life’s vicissitudes, which change with such variety of scenes. When you have finished with the lake, you return to the canal, and between one basin and another you can go down and walk along its shores, treading upon an extremely soft carpet of flowers, as though you were in some princely park. And a true park it is, almost three days’ voyage in length, and enchanting with its cool shadows, its lichen shimmering with dew, and the velvet of its mosses. At every steamer station, blonde little


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girls with invariably clean faces come up to offer you bouquets of lilies of the valley, narcissi, lilacs; and they hand you them without a word, without insisting, happy to receive a single coin, perhaps even to receive none. How sweet and lovely they were in their silence! It seemed to me that Nature herself was offering those flowers by way of little nymphs, creatures not of this world. After a long tour of canals you cross another lake, Lake Vetter, as blue as sapphire, then other rivers and endless canals. The sun sets after nine o’clock, in a sky aflame in a mix of purple and pearl. In the soft outline of the distant hills, a giant windmill, also stilled in so much silence, rests its eye, and seems like a cross weeping over the sun’s death. The villages of purple wooden houses sleep too, and the quivering birches barely, noiselessly shake their small, elegant leaves. During the night, as the moon makes love with a sunlight that here and in this season never dies, there are points in which our steamer ploughs amid birch and pine leaves, and we can caress the plants from the quarterdeck. In the morning, you pass by Motala, a city of large dockyards, and by a tier of locks you descend into lovely, graceful Lake Boven; a truly enchanting, transparent mirror in which the sky gazes coquettishly on itself and casts its image with its white clouds. The coasts are altogether lithe, curving, voluptuous even, with the soft undulations of a woman’s body; pubescents of spruce firs and birches. In one of the most beautiful hills is shyly hidden among the trees a villa riddled with daylight; and the fortunate mortal who owns it, in the entry-hall of his house, can see at one and the same time two lakes, because Boven, winding about a peninsula, doubles back here, infinitely multiplying its beauties. The air temperature is simultaneously warm and cool, and reminds me of a gruff man’s caress, all the more welcome because it comes so rarely. Next you pass by Husbyfiöl and Lake Jocksen, set between rolling, Lilliputian hillocks, with scattered villages and squat black and white villas comfortably set in soft meadows, framed by pines, created apparently to hide the secret delights of a long love. After Norsholm, the canal runs parallel to a river visible from above and, in the great variety of its banks, unwinding before your eyes like a magical ribbon. And the fantastic race continues, and from the lakes,

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the canals, the rivers, and by night, before you have realized it, you have entered into the Baltic, and again you pass over a canal into a lake, this time the Melarn, which will lead you on clear to Stockholm. And you will see it in all its seriousness, there at the bottom of the pine trees, with its tall domes and its jet-black iron bell-tower, sharp as a sword. O fortunate lovers, who crave a cool, calm nest in which to enjoy your first love, go to verdant Sweden, and kiss on the banks of those lakes I am smitten with! iii Stockholm is a beautiful city, large and austere, framed by forests so deep, so green, so tall they make a Druid of anyone who passes beneath the vaults of their giant birches or those oaks that count the centuries the way we count the years. Anyone who has compared Stockholm to Venice has not seen Stockholm and has never been to Venice, or rather has seen neither of these cities. Sweden’s capital is situated on the water and is surrounded by water; but it has none of the mysterious silence of Venice’s canals, nor the urban walkways that turn into water, nor the gondola; finally, it is not a place that makes you say, Here one can only plot or make love. Stockholm is set on the banks of Lake Mälar and on an island that rests on its mouth to the sea, and the water is intertwined with the land in amorous embrace; which raises a surpassingly keen feeling that you need to have an elegant yacht in which to move about in this labyrinth of salt and fresh waters, woods and villas. The city is dominated by the imposing royal palace, which raises its colossal walls to 130 and 137 metres high. Facing it is another palace, built not for the kings but for the comfort of voyagers; it is the Grand Hotel, one of the most beautiful I have seen anywhere in Europe, and which, by virtue of its location, commands the finest panorama in Stockholm. Here, as in Denmark, you find an alternation of pure Greek architecture with Scandinavian. In theory it would seem that, seen alongside each other, they should sound a strident note of disharmony, yet a certain stern majesty unites them, born of simplicity of line. Everything can enter into architecture, provided it represents an idea; nothing repels me more than pastiche, the invasion of knick-knacks and even confectionery in the sacred domains of this supreme art, which should inspire all other arts.


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The Palace of Fine Arts, or National Museum, is a splendid edifice of Venetian Renaissance architecture, and we could only wish to see our own masterpieces housed as splendidly. Unfortunately, in Stockholm the contents count less than the container. In the entry-hall you realize at once that you are in Scandinavia, admiring the three colossal statues by Fogelberg of Odin, Thor, and Balder. Walking up a flight you will find many drawings by Dürn, and some statues by Sergel, Byström, Göthe, Fogelberg, and Quarnström, who are not too ashamed to be seen alongside the Sleeping Endymion, the one found in 1783 in the ruins of Hadrian’s Villa. As a curiosity you cannot turn away from a Venus Callipigia that King Gustav III commissioned from Sergel, who gave the figure the head of Countess Höpken, to avenge the opposition this lady of the high aristocracy directed against the court. Stockholm also has a prehistoric museum devoted entirely to Sweden, a rich ethnological museum particularly for objects of the hyperborean races, and an anthropological museum that historically is the father of all anthropological museums in the world, having been founded by the great Retzius,6 the creator of modern craniology and the father of one of the most distinguished scientists that Sweden has today. The son is a professor of histology at the University and, with Kei, has made extremely important discoveries in the delicate structure of the nervous system. He has recently published a huge work on the ethnology and the craniology of the Finns; having been printed in only two hundred copies, it will not be released commercially; but of the two hundred, at least a dozen are intended for Italy, which Retzius and his wife love so much that they have converted their hospitable house into a small temple of Italian art. Furniture, sculptures, watercolours, etchings, vases – everything is Italian, and the beautiful tropical plants crowning these artistic jewels make you forget utterly that you are on Scandinavian soil. Retzius is currently at work on a comparative histology of the ear in batrachians, salamanders, and fish, and his first findings are already very important, contributing new, precious materials to Darwinian science.

6 Anders Retzius (b. 1796 in Lund; d. 1860 in Stockholm), the father of Magnus Gustaf Retzius (see p. 379 n2), was a Swedish anthropologist and professor of anatomy who made important discoveries about teeth, muscles, the nervous system, and the human skull [Editor].

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To speak only of my own field, how many great researchers Sweden can boast today; and Loven, Illebrand father and son, Axel Kei, Montelius, Van Düben, Stolpe, and so many others demonstrate to us that the land that gave us Linnaeus and Berzelius is still fertile ground for great men who open new horizons in natural studies. The Swedes have a distinctive physiognomy. In the common people you often see the Finnic type of face, indeed almost Lapp; it is squarish and very broad, with a small nose and large mouth. In the upper class, on the other hand, you see the German, or rather Skanic, physiognomy. These are generally plump, blonde, stout, and sprightly people, conveying strength and affability; smallish grey or blue eyes, not large. Cheerful, lacking full, rounded grace, grazia rotonda, in their movements. Everything about them is angular; they greet by bowing like a pair of compasses that can snap shut, or lower and raise their head a number of times, like machines. Courteous, hospitable, they present you with bouquets of flowers at every turn. It has been said that the Swedes are the Frenchmen of the north, but this was said also of the Russians, and such phrases are in fact always commonplaces that spare us careful or deep observation. A human character is not something to be defined with a phrase. It has also been said that mores are rather relaxed in Sweden, and certain statistics appear to prove that Stockholm is, after Munich, the European city with the greatest number of illegitimate children. I would prefer to leave open this question, since I have seen, in the daughters of Eve of every class, a good deal of demureness and reserve, and have not found the courtesans that parade their impertinence about so many other cities. In Sweden I found a quite pronounced democratic tendency in the middle classes and, even more, among literati and scholars. Whereas in Denmark a ribbon in one’s buttonhole brings happiness to many mortals, in Sweden no one wears one, and I know many professors at the University who have turned down such an honour. Nordenskjöld, the great polar explorer,7 who is awaited from one day to the next with the

7 The Finnish-born scientist and explorer Adolf Erik Nordenskjöld (1832–1901) was exiled from Sweden in 1857. His most famous expedition took place in 1878–80, when he navigated the ‘Northeast Passage’ from northern Norway to the Bering Strait [Editor].


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glorious booty of his exploits, was once shown a lesson by the king. His majesty had conferred on him some order or other, and Nordenskjöld had declined it. The great scientist in turn offered him a magnificent fur from his voyage, and Oscar accepted, saying to him, ‘You are prouder than I; I have accepted your gift, you have declined mine.’ The pietistic party is very active in Sweden, and is strenuously combated by the middle classes and intelligentsia. Popular instruction is nurtured with great love, and the city’s most distinguished ladies dedicate the best part of their time and their money to it. I have had the pleasure of being invited to a dinner at which Retzius, with exquisite courtesy, thought to surround me with the capital’s most illustrious anthropologists and physiologists. Never had I seen franker, fuller, and more brilliant hospitality. Dining in Sweden is something original and grand, reminiscent of the Middle Ages in its finest forms.8 Above all you find arrayed on the table at least twelve or twenty little dishes, in which earth and sea offer up to you their most alluring and appetizing treasure: ox tongue and cod roe, Norwegian herring and marinated eels, raw salami and ham. Picking from here and there, you wash it all down with aquavit, which comes in three or four different fragrances. Then comes the soup, which might be made with turtle or freshwater shrimp or even nettles. They keep in reserve large fresh- or saltwater fish, venison or beef, and wood pheasants; ices of balmy cream; the wines of all the peoples of the earth that have vineyards. With delicate care Retzius had laid the table also with Chianti and muscatel from Gerace. And with each new drink the master of the house took, he invited me to drink with him, toasting me anew. And I would drink and thank him, while all our table companions graciously lifted their glasses to me. Whenever one drinks, one invites someone to give a toast in friendship, what is called skole.9 Round the dining table there also circulated the imposing Ölbolle, a huge painted wooden cup filled with beer, and everyone drank fraternally from the same vessel. After this banquet, everyone goes up to shake the hands of the master and

8 What Mantegazza describes here is an elaborate Swedish smörgåsbord [Editor]. 9 The toast is skål in Swedish. In North American English is it usually transliterated skol, without the ‘e’ that Mantegazza has used [Editor].

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mistress, thanking them. These are patriarchal customs, redolent of ancient chivalry, taking us back to a time in which no one blushed to express what he felt in order to learn with subtle hypocrisy how to express what he did not feel. Blessed be the countries in which progress does not mean erasing all memories of the past and being ashamed to have had ancestors. […] Chapter 2 The Trip to Öjungen – The First Lapps Let me backtrack a moment to tell you of a trip I took over Norway’s central plateau on a visit to various Lapps who have lived from time immemorial in the mountains surrounding Röros. Professor Friis,10 the leading authority on things Lapp, had told us in Christiania that these Lapps represented the purest type of their race, and, to encourage us to visit them, had given us a letter of recommendation to his brother, a distinguished engineer who directs the copper foundries of Röros. I set out from Christiania, then, on the morning of 15 June with my friend Sommier,11 with the sort of enthusiasm blended of curiosity and impatience that stirs us to see new things. The weather was glowering and reminded us of the gloomy days in March when, with irritable alternation, in a matter of minutes came rain followed by gusts of wind and then sunshine. Heaven’s ill humour could not penetrate us, however; an inner climate of warmth armoured us against all of Scandinavia’s bad weather. In two or three days, perhaps even on the morrow, we might be seeing our first Lapps: how, then, could we be less than happy? At eight in the morning, with the last whistle of a small locomotive,

10 Jens Andreas Friis (1821–96), a professor of Lapp at the University of Christiania and the author of seminal works on Lapp grammar and mythology [Editor]. 11 Stephen Sommier (1848–1922), an internationally renowned botanist and, together with Mantegazza, one of the founders of the Italian Society of Anthropology and Ethnology. Sommier’s journey to Lapland with Mantegazza was followed by another expedition to Cape North with Giovanni Cosimo Cini in 1884–5, during which he collected additional photographic material. The account of this journey, Un viaggio d’inverno in Lapponia, was published in 1887 [Editor].


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we left the city of Christiania and steered the prow of our ardent desires (as a seventeenth-century poet might say) toward Röros. Rain dulled the landscape, and we preferred to focus our thought within the train compartments. Nielsen’s German guide and study of certain Norwegian words claimed the first hours of our voyage; later, we examined the snug place in which we were enclosed. Small but clean cars: between compartments a crystal urn full of ice offered us fresh water from a silver tap; but in fact we felt no need, wrapped as we still were in warm winter overcoats. A huge signboard hung upon the car offered us a map of the country we were traversing, with stations, the minutes we would be stopping, and all necessary information for the traveller. Another signboard gave the prices of hotels along the route in which we could have spent the night. […] A Norwegian railway car is a guide and a school. A third sign, in Norwegian and English, urged us not to throw matches or lighted cigars from the windows, since they might set fire to the forest we were crossing: ‘Passengers are requested not to throw lighted cigars, matches, etc. out of the carriage windows. Doing so has occasionally caused turf, heath, and thereby forests to be ignited.’ Meanwhile, 10:46 arrives, and with it we must leave the train at Eidsvold station to take a steamer across Lake Mjösen, the most beautiful in all of Norway, Y-shaped, like our own Lake Como, and reminiscent, with shores poor in villages but rich in pine trees and rugged cliffs, of the Scottish lakes. On board, our meal is served by strapping blonde Scandinavian Amazons, who are rather more appealing than the dishes they serve: boiled mutton, the never-ending salmon, the never-ending beer, and a salad dressed with sugar and milk. But an excellent cream served with multeber (fruit of the Rubus chamaemorus) reconciles me to Norwegian cuisine and makes me bless life. Lombard though I be, I must confess, for the sake of the truth, that Norwegian cream is far superior to ours, which is delicious enough: it is smooth and rich, like the Lombard variety, but more fragrant and less thick; a true balm for one’s fussy, hard-to-please ventricles. At 2:15, Lake Mjösen has been travelled up and down, and we come back to the railway, where, to my great pleasure, I find that my second-

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class ticket gives me the right to advance to the first class, and I enter, with my loyal friend, into a carriage that is all mirrors and purple velvet. In this gracious sitting room we traverse beautiful woods, dense with birches that rise up from soft carpets of the Cenomyce rangiferina.12 Here and there we glimpse wooden cottages crowned with earth that harbours saplings and grasses, a veritable little hanging garden atop a human habitation. On the left bank of the Glommen River I find six or seven villages, all of motley-coloured wood. All the stations are tiny, but tidy and clean. None are without flower vases in the windows, and always a huge thermometer stands out announcing to all one of the most important facts for man’s well-being in these hyperborean climes. Some of the stations are adorned with elk or reindeer horns. On the right the Glommen accompanies our every step, and here and there large heaps of morainic pebbles tell us aloud that we are stepping over the bed of ancient glaciers. In the stations I observe, with an anthropologist’s eye, the face of the inhabitants. Among the long, blonde faces and large heads of the Scandinavians, other faces stand out: those of lowly people, with their very broad Mongoloid faces and very small noses. Can they be Finnic or Lappoid? I shall not answer that question, because it is all too simple to venture conjectures or devise theories, but strict science judges both to be just so many pages of historical novels. The station at Koppang demands a few minutes for us to admire it. Beautiful, heavily rusticated wooden houses surround it; but to human labours I always prefer the works of nature, and close by, with the guidance of my friend Stephen, who botanizes even in the stations, I pick, for the first time, the Betula nana, Europe’s most microscopic tree, many purple violets, and a beautiful heather, the Andromeda polifolia. We arrive at Toenset at 11:55 p.m. and dine on salted salmon, hardboiled eggs, and beer. We must spend the night in this station: because in Norway, one travels only by day, and the train, like some fine old diligence from olden times, stands still before us, awaiting our morning

12 A kind of lichen [Editor].


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reawakening; while many travellers leave their things in the carriages, sure they will find them intact on the morrow. Our hotel, made completely of wood, has large reindeer antlers on its door, and our plain little room is diminutive, the bed tiny, and the peaceful light of a night that is day gently floods over us, rocking us in a somnolence that cannot turn into sleep. Gradually the veiled light grows strong, nay, insolent; the two twilights of evening and morning, like two ardent paramours, can part for only a few moments before kissing anew, fused in the embrace of a single dawn. The train’s horn warns us that we must be off; but if some traveller should be straggling or longing to sip his coffee with greater leisure, the conductor makes no bones about this and halts the departure for a few minutes. Here men are not made for trains, but trains for men, and the railways are full of affability, patience, and obligingness. We are back in our elegant little red-velvet sitting room, but we cannot enjoy it for much more than two hours, because Röros station halts us. It is here that we must gather information about the Lapps of Ojung, it is here that the fine engineer Fries must serve as guide and master for our adventurous expedition. He is so nice that, even as we are heading to his house, he has come to meet us and, without needing a photograph or passport with personal notes, guesses who we are. In his house we study the map of the place and decide to send a telegram to the engineer Hauan, who manages another copper foundry in Eidet. He replies after a few hours that there are Lapps at Ojungstrakten, and that on the morrow he will be waiting for us at the station in Eidet with all we shall need for our expedition. Röros is a sad and a heart-chilling place; it lies in the middle of Norway, on a plateau more than two thousand feet above sea level; not a tree in sight: an almost deserted moorland, with glacier ruins scattered across it, ill-shaped, barren mountains all about it, almost always snowbound. Mercury always freezes in the winter, and last winter Engineer Fries forged a fine silver nail out of mercury, beating it into shape with a hammer on an anvil. Tiny, grey houses; streets paved with metallurgic slag; smoke, sulphur fumes everywhere; a torrent that has torn at the bowels of that infertile earth, and that roars among the coal heaps and piles of copper mineral, giving this countryside a bread that must taste of sulphur and be cold itself.

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Yet even in Röros I reap two smiles full of beauty and life. In the arid sands that surround this hellish landscape, spontaneous bushes of pansies are blooming, so thick that a single plant yields a bouquet. In the station hotel, fragrant with pine resin, other budding creatures smile: they are the blonde, roseate daughters of the stationmaster-cum-host, and with their blue eyes they scatter rays of fresh youth and innocent sympathy. They bring you early morning coffee while you are abed, rightly trusting in their virtue and in the man’s respect for the virginal purity of youth. From Röros the railway descends to Eidet, and as it gradually leaves the arid plateau, the trees spring up and the forest grows more dense. At Eidet, engineer no. 2 stands ready, Mr Hauan, who, to judge solely from his sombre, even surly face, must be less than delighted to have to accompany us to the mountain-tops in search of Lapps; but who, on the contrary, is warm-hearted company, and has prepared for us a horse, a cart, and the men needed to carry our heavy photographic luggage to the foundry, which lies below, at the bottom of the valley. Engineer Hauan, a disciple of the Freiberg school, is a man of few words but many deeds. He sees our boxes being lowered from the baggage car and watches them in excruciating silence. At our insistence that he translate that silence for us into German, and, if possible, also into Danish, he answers with long-drawn hmm hmm’s that do not bode well. My companion and I are constrained, therefore, to translate this gloomy silence for ourselves, and we succinctly render it: These two Italians must be madmen to think they can carry their photographic boxes to the heights of Ojung; it would be easier to get the Lapps to come down to them, if not the mountains to the valley. There’s nothing crueller than to have to speak a few stilted words of a foreign tongue with a man who holds his tongue in all languages. At your lips you feel rivers of words surfacing, arguments, and persuasions, torrents of questions, beguilements, reasonings, all of which you would like to array in legions, regiments, squadrons, batteries to persuade, to excuse yourself and beg pardon; and instead you have, on the one hand, a human monolith who stares at you in silence; on the other, your precious few words, coming out one by one, laboriously, distortedly, and always off the mark. Were Dante to come back to life, he would assign a new circle of his hell to this, damning all expansive, garrulous men to


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the fearful punishment I endured at Eidet station, in the central plateau of Norway.13 If one cannot speak, then fact must be serried against fact, deed against deed, and there, in the freight room in Eidet, Sommier and I set about simplifying our photographic luggage, reducing it to a bare minimum. The camera lucida with its large Dalmayer lens, the developing tent, a few plates, fewer reagents. Meanwhile, to complete our happiness, it is raining. The bare minimum, meanwhile, has been packed into a two-wheel handcart pulled by a pachyderm that has something of the donkey, mule, and horse about it and, accompanied by us on foot, descends the slope to the foundry, led by Mr Hauan. Simple, sincere hospitality, blonde and rosy-cheeked ladies, babies with honey-and-cream complexions, reconcile us to life and to the Lapps of Ojung. When our meal has ended, the man of few words invites us in to the courtyard, where the caravan stands ready to take us on our journey. A horse for Mr Hauan, a cariole for me, another for Sommier, a two-wheel cart for the luggage, drawn by a pachyderm of uncertain species. Everyone falls to the place assigned to him, and I, reins in hand, for the first time in my life lead a horse without being on horseback. And upward, upward, up the steep slopes peopled by pines, as far as Törmo, where even the carioles cannot advance and the draught animals must be changed into saddle horses. The single cart and the single horse incertae sedis14 will carry on as they are. While the caravan undergoes this radical transformation, we enter a house at Törmo, where they offer us extremely fresh milk, wooden chairs almost as white as the milk, and smiling faces, with the kindest, most endearing hospitality. The women are busy at the oven baking their flatbread, or fladbröd. It is a scene from the lives of our stone-age forefathers. A woman with sturdy bare arms, and singular skill and agility, moulds an extremely thin circle of dough, into which many different grains go, rye, barley, possibly oat as well; and no sooner is it made than she tosses it onto a large stone disc that has been quickly heated by a

13 Dante features prominently in Mantegazza’s imaginations, especially the vivid scenarios evoked by his Inferno. We find similar remarks in India [Editor]. 14 Of uncertain taxonomic position [Editor].

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good fire of twigs. The high temperature of the stone and the thinness of the dough make the baking almost instantaneous, and the cornet, piping hot on both sides, is taken out dry and semi-toasted and ready for the mouth of anyone with any appetite. This national Norwegian bread lasts months and years; it is tasty, easy to digest, and can seem like a dainty compared to the bread of the Lapps, more prehistoric still. But we are already on horseback, have bid adieu to our ladies of the oven, and go up and up the mountain slope, which grows ever steeper. Meanwhile a fine, icy, gloomy rain soaks us to the bone and makes us more silent than fish. From the height of my saddle I look at Sommier, who looks back at me from his; we cannot quite claim we are being amused, but we submit to our martyrdom, waiting for the Lapps. Not from the extinction of the light, which, in those latitudes and in that season never goes out, but from our own weariness we grasp that bedtime must already have arrived; yet the leader of the caravan presses on, and the guides follow him grudgingly, in the foulest mood. The clock tells us that 11 p.m. is nigh, and we are obliged to stop, while the engineer and guides, on horseback and on foot respectively, disperse in different directions, in search of someone or something. Perhaps they are looking for the Lapps, and the idea of spending the night in a Lapp hut lifts our weary spirits and promises us much poetry. But instead, they have been looking for a saeter. And the saeter has been found: a little cabin shrunk to the smallest scale possible, made of wood and straw, in which the shepherds spend two months of the summer grazing their cows. The key is hidden in the roof, reached at arm’s height. They step inside bowing their heads and immediately light the iron stove, the most important and expensive part of the whole house. In a moment the birch branches crackle, burn, and heat the tiny nest in which we have been gathered, while the horses, left free to roam under the fine, freezing rain, search, amid the sod that the snow has just abandoned, for some scrubby, yellowed blade of grass. Bread, butter, chocolate, and aquavit keep us alive until morning, and, stretched over wood, we prepare for our future exertions. Three hours of sleep pass quickly, and the dawn of a day that has never died urges us up onto our horses again. It is 3 a.m., and already we are all gathered together in front of the little saeter door, surrounded by an amphitheatre of snow-covered mountains.


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At our feet, deep in the valley, sleeps picturesque Lake Ojung, with its multiform little islets, also full of snow and small barren trees, where, through our telescope, we can see the first budding gems of green (and this on 18 June!). If the trees up above are still sleeping out the last sleeps of the long, long winter, the gentle meadows of those plateaux are a true beauty, and even a man less enamoured of nature would immediately compare them to a Persian carpet, so variegated and seductive are they in all their polychromatic disorder. My friend Stephen, who accompanies me on my voyage and who, in all his intelligent affection and stalwart youth, comforts me in the harshness of the journey, baptizes in passing all those gentle little creatures of Norwegian flora. Learning their names, I feel I love them even more. It is hard to find a vegetation more distinctive, more full of character than the one I admired on the Ojung plateaux. Up there, trees, mosses, herbs, and short grasses, tamed by the common enemy, the cold, are all of diminutive size; they level off to the same height and form a hundredcoloured surface, as though sensate shears had trimmed them all. Among the microscopic shrubs of the Betula nana, the dwarf birch, you see the profuse flowers of the rose-colored Azalea procumbens, the white little pillows of the Diapensia lapponica, the red frills of the Silene acaulis, the yellow spots of the Pedicularis oederi, the white blots of the Arctostaphylos alpina, the thick gilded heads of the Viola biflora; while between one little garden and another stretch the microscopic little woods of the Empetrum nigrum and the broad fringes of hundred-coloured lichens. Among them, the Cenomyce rangiferina raises its soft, filmy head, a sign to you that the reindeer cannot be far off. But unfortunately love of life does not let me long admire this Persian rug spread over the Norwegian plateaux. The difficulties of the path increase with every step. Now it is a peat bog that threatens us, now, blocking the road, a pile of snow into which the horses sink: once, mine fell onto its knees, and it was a miracle that I and it could emerge with our limbs still sound. It was raining, it was cold, and the silence round about us was colder than the snow; but past the lake there were the Lapps, and so, with profound resignation, we pressed on. But, alas, a merciless river, the Galoe, having risen with the last rains, snatched our photographic equipment

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from us, and we, alone with our horses, wading at great peril, forded the wicked water that would keep us from photographing the Lapps of Ojung. At one point a guide shouted, ‘Look, a reindeer!’ It was the first I had seen, and its white profile, giant antlers, and calm, measured gait were to remain deeply etched in me, there where the most vivid memories of our travels linger until the day we die. Was it a straggler, or a wild reindeer? Our imagination inclined toward the latter hypothesis, although we know from those who have travelled in the polar regions that where the tame reindeer live, the wild ones stay away, as though out of disdain for the air of enslavement surrounding them. There must be certain exceptions, however, since a wild buck sometimes approaches herds of the civilized she-reindeer, flirts with them, and then fecundates them, as also occurs between the wild boar and sows, the muflon and ewes. The exhilarating effect of that reindeer passed quite quickly, as the path became more impassable with every step, and it was necessary to let the horses go free and continue our search for the Lapps on foot. Our feet, of course, were already freezing in the snow, now sinking into the treacherous peat, now slipping on stones subdued by the glacier’s long caresses; and I, sweating on the inside, rain-soaked on the outside, was gazing southward and thinking of Florence, my fair Firenze, which at that very moment must be shining in the golden rays of its flower-perfumed air. Engineer Hauan and the guides were running ahead of me on their Norwegian ankles, but they all seemed to be in a bad mood for not finding the Lapps. They would not answer our questions, and to judge from their general gestures it was easy to understand how they must be cursing, if only under their breath and in the deep silence of their consciousness – but with sullen, cruel curses, the kind reserved for great occasions, pitched battles waged with men and things. To us, uncertain as we were whether to go on or to stay, it was enough to see, every so often, the profile of a guide or Hauan’s hat; but suddenly the guides vanished, the engineer’s hat vanished, and for over an hour we felt about us the coldness of silence, which together with the fine, freezing rain was deeply demoralizing for us. I, who run, with my imagination and my nerves, from joy to sorrow at a speed faster than light, gave myself up for dead and felt fully submerged in the blackest fog of


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despair. Yonder, beyond the river, the photographic gear washing up onto the bald countryside; here the horses let go, close by us but in danger of straying; we, alone in the desert, forsaken by guides, without supplies. Abandoned, I flung myself down upon a carpet of snow dazzlingly white and unsullied by the tread of man or beast, longing for it to enfold me like a winding sheet. And I launched into lamentations worthy of Jeremiah, accusing myself of rashness and frivolity, railing, like the engineer and the guides, against the Lapps, and, even more, against my appetite, always larger than my stomach. Without the comfort of my friend, always so serene, so calm and self-assured, I would have given myself up for dead; but he consoled me, helped me to see the Lapps just a few paces on, led me to the flowering hills of hope … And behold! All at once a distant barking of dogs, steadily approaching … the dogs of the Lapps. I rise from my snowy winding sheet, feel my heart beating, reborn to a new life. The little black dogs already cavorting among us; we follow them and are soon outside two Lapp huts at the bottom of two small hills. From one of them rises a thick column of blue smoke that seems to be giving us warm welcome and inviting us to the hospitable table of these good people. Little more than termite mounds, these two houses are a blend of peat and sod held up by a few posts. An upper opening to let smoke escape, a triangular opening in front to let people in, an opening closed by a canvas stretched by a few laths. It is so narrow, this opening, that one person can barely squeeze in, and must do so by bending over at two points. You must bend your head, round your back, and then slip in sideways. It is not very comfortable, this door, but I would have entered on all fours just to be able to see a Lapp hut. Here the body must learn to bend at any moment and in the strangest ways; for no sooner have I entered than I must throw myself on the bed of birch branches that forms the house’s floor, not to be choked by the smoke. The interior of the hut was one of the most stunning pictures I have ever beheld. What a want of comforts and wealth of life, what poverty of space and condensation of creatures, what contrasts of hues for a Flemish painter, how many psychological scenes for a philosopher, how much tenderness for a friend of mankind! A reversed black funnel, that was the form of the house; black the walls, from the smoke’s long kisses,

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black the human faces, also smoky with soot; black Fick, Nump, and Kiarf, who with their pointy ears and their eyes blacker and shinier than anthrax smut burrowed into reindeer pelts stretched over a springy bed of birch boughs; in the middle, the fire, contained amid so much combustible matter by large stones, and above the fire a chain holding up a pot. Round about, a mountain of ladles, knives, smoked meats, reins for the reindeer, a tangle of boys, women, and girls who seemed to be stewing and fermenting together. In a corner a small genre scene cheerfully, picturesquely jumping out of the larger tableau. There was a furswathed baby, who raised his frightened little blonde head from his tiny bed and, with his large, still bright eyes glazed with blessed sleep, looked toward us without quite knowing whether to cry or laugh. Hauan and the guides were also crouching in that cave, which seemed to resolve the large problem that, according to sacred tradition, must be resolved on the day of universal judgment from the small Valley of Jehoshaphat. The contents of the hut seemed much larger than the container. None of us would give his dog or goat such a habitation; and yet those good Lapps, who, possessing more than three thousand reindeer and wearing silver rings, were veritable Rothschilds of Lapland, were not only content with this house but were gay, serene, extremely happy. How various the range of man’s capacity for happiness! I gradually became aware of my hosts, who had welcomed us with a very cordial handshake. All the men were absent, because they were following the reindeer, who were grazing on a nearby hill. Margaret, the mother of the family, in her forties, with chestnut-blonde hair, a Mongoloid face with its tiny nose, her hands and skin blackened by the smoke. Her young daughter Eva, eighteen years old, with bright golden hair, and who seemed to laugh all the time, baring close little white teeth. She was naive, nimble, savouring of a wild beauty. With her blue eyes and blonde hair, with her impertinent little nose, her prominent cheekbones, her fresh complexion tanned by long frosts, her bare little feet and little hands, she had all the dangerous allures of some rustic fruit whose taste she does not even know. A little sister, barely younger than Eva, and two or three boys made up the family. This good family spoke passable Norwegian, and our friend Engineer Hauan would translate into German what they were saying, constantly


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bringing us into a bond of sympathies and ideas. The mother immediately set about grinding excellent coffee for us, speedily preparing the Lapps’ favourite drink, which we drank sweetened with extremely white lumps of sugar. After the coffee came the meal: smoked reindeer meat with reindeer tallow hardened by the cold, all of it cooked rapidly over a very strong birch fire. It was tough but flavourful food, with a goatish, rather wild, aroma. We ate everything, and digested everything; but we had to struggle against a true seasickness to behold the strange cleaning method of the good Margaret. She was wielding her large metal ladle to serve first the coffee, then the thick, rich reindeer, then the drinking water. That all-purpose tool was always washed with the tongue, which, like a very busy dust-cloth, cleaned away all the fat and made the spoon more polished than silver. The tongue, for that fine woman, was the soap of soaps, the broom of brooms; so much so that when we parted, Margaret, before putting out her hand, quickly licked herself with amazing deftness. Every so often our courteous hostess also used her fingers to clean her nose, without recourse, this time, to her tongue. In action, Margaret was all perpetual motion: she stoked the fire, slapped a dog that too impudently stuck its snout toward the meat or the tallow; then with her hands she cleaned a little girl’s nose, gave a piece of raw meat to a little boy who was too hungry to wait till it was boiled; and all this she did with a pipe in her mouth, which at very short intervals she would empty and refill. When hunger and thirst were sated, clothes dried, and a more breathable air stirred up by the excellent coffee of the Lapps, the hour came for exquisite courtesies, gifts, and trade. It would be hard to gather more diverse people into a smaller space: Latins and Goths and Scandinavians and the ancient Mongols of the Altai; a people raised under vine leaves and olive branches, or hardened by the pole’s sempiternal frosts, children of Odin amid children of Horace; yet at that moment all were squeezed around one and the same hearth, with a single atmosphere bringing them close and heating them with the same flame of sympathy. I offered Eva an excellent, gold-label cigarette. She took it warily, looking at her mother with bashful eyes.

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‘Our girls do not smoke.’ And Eva sought to return it to me. But I wouldn’t accept. ‘Madam Margaret, today, just for today, let Eva have a cigarette.’ Bowing her head, she agreed. And Eva, blushing with joy and gently thanking me with laughing eyes, lit it and drew in two or three mouthfuls of smoke, then passed it to her mother, who finished smoking it. Engineer Hauan poured our hosts cognac, and Margaret, Eva, and all the others emptied their small glasses in one gulp, after dipping their index finger into them, making the sign of the cross on their brows, and saying, May it do no evil. I offered chocolate. They had never seen it. Margaret asked if it was soap. I told her to try some and set an example. She found it excellent, had Eva taste it, and then tucked it away in a spot under her thighs, saying she would save it for her husband. It was the place she hid everything, money, cigarettes, knives. It was the house’s sanctuary. It was where, close by, she had a small wooden bench; closed with a key, where she kept the silver jewellery, the Norwegian Bible, a gospel-book in the Lapp language. I bought two wonderful reindeer antlers for two crowns (three lire). I fell in love with a leather chatelaine15 that Margaret kept by her side and which, from a beautiful brass star, dangled a bell-rattle of small domestic tools. I wanted this at any cost for the museum in Florence. ‘How much do you want, Margaret, for this chatelaine?’ ‘I cannot sell it; it has been with me since my marriage.’ ‘I will give you as much as you need in order to have a new and more beautiful one made.’ ‘I cannot, I am sorry.’ I offered a splendid Norwegian knife with a sculptured wooden handle. Margaret found it very beautiful, and showed it to Eva; the children and babies had to pass it around, each admiring it; yet the knife was not accepted. 15 A decorative belt, usually made of metal, deriving from the belt formerly worn by the lady of a manor for holding keys and other tools [Editor].


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I offered four crowns, then six, then seven, eight; and for eight crowns the chatelaine was mine. The good engineer Hauan had, however, to make a drawing of the piece and to promise to have a jeweller in Eidet make another one just as fine. Margaret knew how to sell, but was not greedy. I wanted to buy a sausage made of milk and reindeer blood, but she gave it to me, laughing and saying in bad Norwegian, ‘Ikke betale. This you not pay for.’ Strangest was the exchange of a lock of hair for fine little English scissors I carried in my pocket, and which Eva had liked enormously. ‘Give me a lock of your hair, and I will give you the scissors.’ ‘That is impossible, impossible’ – and she laughed like a mad girl. I put the scissors back in my pocket, but soon after she asked for them again. And again the scissors came out of my pocket and blonde Eva opened them; closed them, admiring the device that could fold in on itself; hid their points. And I again hoped to have the hair and to put it in my museum in Florence. All at once Eva starting laughing, with the air of one who has hit upon some piece of devilry by which to reconcile two opposite things – and proposed trading the small English scissors for the hair of her sister. I accept, and with the very scissors in question she snips a lock of her little sister’s hair, which is the same colour as her own. She has won the match! The scissors are hers, without her sacrificing a single strand of her own beautiful hair. I did not want to concede full victory to the wiles of a Lapp Eve, and told her that I also wanted a kiss from her. And the innocent girl kissed me on the mouth, without scruples or malice. As she was too elated, however, to contain her joy in the narrow confines of the hut, she offered to call the reindeer so that we could see them more closely. She stuffed her reindeer-skin shoes with a hay so green and fragrant and well combed that I envied her for them. Once outside, she began to run on the lichen-softened rocks, skipping from stone to stone like some insolent chamois, with her hair blown by the wind; and fixing her gaze on the far horizon to see where the reindeer had gone and to point them out, she laughed and frolicked. How beautiful was this wild innocence of hers, how precious this blameless youth; this joy that knew no regrets, this smile of a happy life, which responded

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to a pale sunbeam that, among the wind-torn clouds, shone amid an extremely fine silvery rain of tiny pearls. Eva could read, speak Norwegian, could milk and lead the reindeer, sew and cook, and dress the younger children. She was good, clever and, in the Lapp way, knowledgable; what matters more, she was happy. How many of our ladies would not envy her here in her Ojungstrakten hut! Chapter 4 The Scandinavian Environment – The Sea, the Cold, and the Silence – The Character of the Scandinavians Every country has an environment of its own, and until we have breathed it in and absorbed it, so that it penetrates into the least and deepest veins of our organism, we cannot say we know the new land we would study or describe. It is a certain quantity and a movement of air and light, it is a certain warmth of human breath, it is a special perfume that emanates from the ground; it is certain dominant colours in the sky and in houses; it is certain sounds that things living and dead emit, mingling with one another; it is certain female profiles and male characters that meet or clash with our aesthetic tastes; it is hidden currents of sympathy and antipathy; finally, it is a consummate physical and moral atmosphere, surrounding us both along the brain’s five senses and through the thousand associations of our past, that binds us with hatred or love to the country through which we make our first voyage. The Scandinavian environment is one of the most distinctive I have ever encountered in my many long voyages; and if the things in our inner world could be photographed as one can photograph those set before the lens of the camera obscura, I think that I would faithfully and vividly portray the image of that polar world, because I feel it in my heart and mind as something of my own. That cold world should make the wide-open pores of our Italian skin cringe: that desert world should distress our eyes, accustomed as they are to find a village on every slope and every hilltop; these men are mute, and our ears, trained upon the gay din of endless chatter, should thirst there for words and songs; those lands are buried for eight months of the year


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under a winding-sheet of ice, and we who grew up in the shade of sempiternal laurel trees and among golden stalks should look with horror on that ground of desolation and frosts. Yet nothing of the sort occurs: Scandinavia has a mysterious fascination for us, attracting us, enamouring us, and leaving an abiding memory more precious than any immediate enjoyment. Love of contrast, deep, mysterious inner concentration of life in small points separated by vast deserts; the giant festival of a summer that never tires of a three-month-long sun; the infinite jaggedness of a land intertwining in a thousand love-embraces with a turbulent sea; and a sad grandeur of nature and a naivety full of strength and chastity in the humanity there, are utter novelties for us, satisfying healthy, virginal tastes we may not have suspected we have, or barely met with in the early hours of life, when desire is a vague light that gilds all it touches. Man in Scandinavia seems to have disembarked on land yet remains ever ready to return to the sea whence he came. There, sea is everything, land, nothing: in the latter, life is meagre, gruelling, short; in the former, life is fertile, inexhaustible, sempiternal. There are so many islands you can scarcely count them, but terra firma is an island too, and the coasts, not the roads, guide the traveller’s path. For the gentlemen of Stockholm and Christiania it is supreme bliss to tack in an elegant yacht in their fjords and rivers; and in the Glacial Sea you find yourself invariably in boats steered by women’s arms. And fishing is more than half this people’s life and in its vagaries follows the highs and lows of national wealth. Herrings which, a century ago, crowded the waters of Göteborg, suddenly deserted it in this one; then, gradually, they returned, until in the winter of 1878–9 great schools of them appeared. Correlated to these leaps are statistics for mortality and wealth; the prosperity or poverty of an entire people is bound up here. When the herrings appear in great numbers toward the end of summer in the fjords of Lapland, the sorrow is universal, because the fishermen know through long experience that herrings and cods never swim successively in the same waters in one year. On the other hand, when there are few herrings, new boats are built, fishing lines and nets are borrowed, and the joy of imminent wealth can almost be tasted. The sea, transformed into everyone’s main road, makes men and women brave and strong; and certain hysterical simperings on the part of our ladies, and certain mental and spiritual scurvies common to so

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many of those youth of ours sallow from the theatre wings or the sultriness of cafes, are impossible in this country utterly imbued with the salt scent of the waves. For a Norwegian girl, to go from Tromsoe to Bergen to visit a girlfriend or some female relative, is a pleasure tour – it is sufficient to consult the map to measure the length of such a journey. When you have disembarked on that very narrow strip of land, enclosed on all sides by the ocean, you continually think you will encounter the prehistoric beasts you have dreamed of in some sleepless night of your childhood. At any moment you fear or hope to brush up against some long-horned reindeer or giant elk, white bear or pack of wolves.16 Where there are no people, the earth can only be at the mercy of the beasts. But what this land is at the mercy of is silence, which forms the most characteristic and, for us Italians, the most surprising note of this beautiful, beloved Scandinavia. Never could I make peace with that continual muteness of all nature. Not a thunderclap in the sky, not a crash of waves in the sea, no little girls singing in a field; no cicadas in the trees, nor crickets in the meadows: mute is the earth, mute the birds and quadrupeds, mute the men and boys, mute the dogs and insects. All nature submerged in an infinite silence, in serene and tranquil selfcontemplation. Never shall I forget the strange impression of a walk I took in a pine forest around the station at Koppang, in the Norwegian upland plain. The lodge was entirely made of wood, heavily rusticated; over the door, two large antlered reindeer heads, and in the building’s one and only storey a poetical little terrace with chairs made of woven hazelnut boughs. In the esplanade in the front of the house, a microscopic-sized palace harboured turtle doves that, as evening drew on,

16 Even in Scandinavia the beasts are growing rarer every day. According to Elis Sidenbladh, there were killed in Sweden

From 1865 to 1870 From 1871 to 1875

Bears 618 259

Wolves 865 229

Lynxes 873 526

Wolverines 611 504

The wild reindeer is found today only in the most isolated parts of Lapland, and even the elk has grown very rare. If is it still found to the south of Christiania, that is because the law prohibits killing it. And this is a country in which the laws are obeyed [Author].


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would wing in silence to their night refuge. Not even they billed and cooed, but, nipping each other silently with their beaks, they gave one another a last kiss, amorously riding one another’s backs and flaring their wings with a silent shudder. Farther on, the train departed without a single screech of iron, or human cry. In the post-house all was silent. I set out on foot to the pine forest, where not a bird sang, not a leaf rustled, not an insect murmured. The silence fascinated me and absorbed me into the mysteries of its impenetrability; all at once I noticed, almost with terror, that I could not hear even the noise of my own footsteps; the myrtle bushes lounged upon the soft cushion of reindeer lichen, and even my footsteps were muffled in the soft, smooth carpet that seemed laid there to quell every sound and not disturb Nature’s eternal sleep. I almost feared I was no longer alive, I thought perhaps my consciousness of feeling alive was but a memory from my already extinguished life, which itself was dissolving into the infinitude of that silence; and seized by a strange whim, I struck a tree-trunk. The noise came and went on its own, unaccompanied by any echo, or response of fear or surprise of man or animal; it seemed to me a profanation, that noise, one I would not repeat, immersed wholly in that enthralling mystery. And if you consider that, in that silence, another companion, muter than ever, the cold, abides with that silence for eight or nine months of the year, you can guess what self-concentration must come to the men of those lands. Among us, the house is a refuge against the sun, it is a nest in which to find love or repose; yet our true home is the open field, whose ceiling is the blue sky and whose walls are the far-off curtains of the mountains and hills. For the Scandinavian, the house is an oyster shell, the coleoptera’s elytron, a second skin, almost as alive as the first that mamma has woven over us, only warmer perhaps. To take the house away from Nordic man is to pry the shell from the oyster, the elytron from the insect; to tear out and expose its very bowels. And in those houses, where nights that last months are spent, every wooden table, every book, every door, every stair, and every picture is imbued with human emanations, desires, and memories; and the house lives, pulsates, thinks, heats up, and freezes together with the man who dwells in it. From this emerges a deep familial intimacy; from this, the long solitary meditations that temper the dignity of conscience and the endless

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communal readings that increase the most precious family bonds of thought and refine the heart in its most hidden delicacy. In those houses in Sweden and Norway, the garden too enters the house and is part of it, and the architects have had to increase the windows, not to open and broaden the paths for light so much as to make life possible for the flowers that the women grow with boundless art. In the salons of gentlefolk in Tromsoe, at nearly seventy degrees northern latitude, I have seen the most beautiful roses and daisies in the world, even blazing tropical cacti. Marmier17 saw a lady in Tromsoe weep with emotion at a flowering stalk of lilac that her husband had brought to her from Christiania – ‘Oh my God!’ she shouted, ‘it is seven years since I last saw anything like that.’ It was a childhood memory, the memory of a land that had been richer for her in sunlight and flowers. The cold has many other virtues; it slows down every action in life, and in so doing conserves. One of us sees and has not yet seen that he loves and hates, worships or disdains, and in the whirlwind of a sudden fire ignites, blazes, and gutters out. The man of the north sees and thinks and then thinks again; for the sake of precision, he feels truly, and thinks how he feels. Tomorrow and the day after tomorrow as well, slow thought will lead him into long travail to ponder and act. Meanwhile, the surprises of the senses and the excesses of passion become impossible, keeping the man more immaculate and serene. The slowness of response, of decision, and of understanding makes us impatient at first, but then persuades us that it is something of a virtue. Once Marmier lost patience in a posthouse, having waited three hours for a change of horses for his kärra. So the post-master walked up to him with a solemn air and said: ‘My dear sir, why are you complaining that you have waited three hours for your horses? Sometimes folks wait even four.’ With this slowness, however, comes a great tenacity of feeling. After several years of absence you can be sure to find on the same lips the

17 Xavier Marmier (1809–92), a French novelist and writer. His passion for travelling inspired numerous volumes of letters and memoirs. He was a great promoter of Scandinavian literature and culture [Editor].


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same smile of a friendship not forgotten. Add to this a naive simplicity, a deep honesty, a very winning naturalness, all those virtues of sympathy that rest upon a spontaneous sincerity. I have never seen a dyed beard, false hair, but in a Scandinavian setting have felt transported into an ancient world, as if into an earthly paradise pre-dating Eve’s sin; I have felt cleansed and purged of the hundred and one hypocrisies with which one is painted, masked, travestied every day, every hour of life. In that frozen clime I have found a human society based on reciprocal respect; whereas, among us, I see a society that rests its laws and customs upon a mutual distrust, so that half its citizenry is charged with keeping watch over the other. In Scandinavia there are no beggars. And please do not think that in idealizing I exaggerate; no, there too there exist vices and crimes, there too they drink to excess and love loose women, yet vice is but an episode or a sickness; it has not penetrated into all veins, all fibres, all marrow. There I have not seen a policeman on every street, or carabinieri in every station; there I have felt free of the daily, slow, tyrannical inquisition of tax collector, priest, or judge. There I have seen the umbrellas left out on the streets to keep the stairs dry. There I have seen the jeweller’s shops not closed the entire night by wooden shutters, but protected only by fragile glass, and there I have known that the whole large city of Trondheim had only eight policemen; and even they never left their barracks, for lack of work! But is it not true, therefore, that man moralizes only when he is kept, as it were, on ice, like a slab of conserved meat? Is it not true, therefore, that the same sun that fires our blood with the surges of passion, inflames us to base lust; that the same light that burns our skins and exalts our nerves, leads us into the shadow of hypocrisy, betrayals, and crime? But isn’t this sentence inexorable that confers on man one property only, either impetuosity or tenacity? Can we not, we other children of blue heavens, aspire to the serene, everlasting light of the stars, to flare up only in volcanic eruptions or to burn in the sultriness of dog days? A harsh sentence upon our descendants;18 we, for now, must content ourselves with fondly saluting that virgin land of the north, where men 18 The Italian, ‘Ai posteri l’ardua sentenza,’ is a clear reference to a famous line in Alessandro Manzoni’s ode to Napoleon, ‘Il cinque maggio’ [Editor].

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are so sincere, and women so serene, and freedom is not writ only in the proud bronze tablets of our laws; but fused with the blood or flesh of every citizen, from the Lapp king on, forming the first light of that inclement sky, the prime nobility of that able and hard-working people. Chapter 5 Natural History of the Lapps – Their Number and Their Name – Portrait of the Lapps by a Poet and Priest – Habits and Customs – [Sleds, Huts, and Nomadic Life – Their Psychology –] Weddings and Funerals – Social Organization and Political Economy – [Their Industry –] Origin of the Lapps What exactly are these Lapps, then? What place should we assign in the hierarchy of intelligence and sentiment to these geographical brethren of ours, who in fact are so barely European and so different from us? Let us start with the easiest part, the plain headcount: arithmetic being always the alphabet of science and the surest basis on which to support the edifice of our cognitions. Friis and Réclus19 are the two most reliable authors regarding a census of the Lapps. The wonderfully learned professor of Christiania tells us that there are somewhat fewer than 30,000 scattered over a surface of 10,000 square miles of Norway. Norway counts 17,178 pure-bred and 1,900 cross-bred; Sweden, 7,248; Finland, 1,200; Russia, 2,000. Réclus’s statistic is more recent. He reckons 30,000, in the following distribution: Norwegian and cross-bred Lapps Swedish Lapps Russian and Finnish Lapps

21,179 (1875) 6,600 (1875) 2,822 (1859)

It is necessary to counter this census with one of the reindeer, an animal 19 The French geographer Jean Jacques Elisée Réclus (1830–1905) spent six years (1852–7) in the British Isles, the United States, Central America, and Colombia contributing to the Revue des deux mondes, the Tour du monde, and other travel periodicals. In 1867–8 he published the two-volume La terre; description des phénomènes de la vie du globe, and then he authored the nineteen-volume compilation Nouvelle géographie universelle, la terre et les


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so closely tied to the Lapp and without which this variety of Homo [sapiens] would surely vanish. Census of Reindeer Sweden in 1870 Norway in 1865 Finland in 1865 Russia in 1859

220,800, or 165 per family 101,768, or 130 per family 40,200, or 325 per family 232?

According to Réclus, the Lapps, rather than disappearing, are rising in number, particularly in Norway. According to the tax records of 1567, 1799, and 1815, the nomads have tripled over three centuries, and grown sevenfold in Norway alone. Von Buch20 provides these figures for the year 1799: Sweden and Finland 5,113 Norway 3,000 Russia 1,000 9,113 But everyone will probably share my opinion that when one goes back to such ancient statistics, figures are little more than good intentions to achieve an impossible accuracy, particularly in reference to a nomadic people. And now that they have been counted, let us baptize them: for even in natural history this is the first sacrament performed on every living creature. The Lapps call themselves salme or same (plural, samek). The name we give them was given to them by the Finns, who called them lappalainen (plural, lappalaiset). This word probably derives from the Finnish lappaa, which means forward and backward (for their vagabond ways). hommes (1875–94), which gained him the gold medal of the Paris Geographical Society in 1892 [Editor]. 20 Christian Leopold, Freiherr von Buch (1774–1853), a leading German palaeontologist and geologist. After studying volcanoes in southern Europe, he spent two years in Scandinavia, where he made the important observations on its plants, climate, and geology recorded in his Reise durch Norwegen und Lappland (1810) [Editor].

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The Norwegians, and especially the northern ones, called them finner, a false designation, originating in their confusion of two different albeit close races, bound by a distant kinship. The Lapps divide themselves into fieldlappen (field Lapps) and fisklappen (fisher Lapps). The latter, in Lapp language known as jaure-kaddle-sameh, constitute the whole group found in Russia, while in Sweden there are only a few, and most of them indigent nomads who, having lost their reindeer, have sought in the sea the bread that the earth denied them. Some authors also divide the Lapps into nomadic and settled, but this is an arbitrary and highly artificial classification, since nomads can always, by nature and ancient traditions, settle down, exceptionally, for some years in a port, only to revert to their vagrant life once the land no longer provides their reindeer with sufficient grazing. The geographical divisions too, although they bring with them differences of dialect, do not change essentially the pronunciation and the character of the Lapps, who can be studied all together, as one of the most natural and homogeneous groups in the great family of man. And we are saying homogeneous because the crossing of Lapps with Finns is a rare occurrence, albeit less rare than the crossing with Scandinavians. And now that we have counted and baptized them, let us look into their faces to see what part of them is in us and what of us is to be found in them. Heine has given us a humorous portrait of them in some famous lines of poetry, in which the humour, however, is joined with the sure trace of the man of genius. But caricature is often more accurate than portraiture. In Lappland sind schmutzige Leute, Plattköpfig, breitmaulig und klein, Sie kauern um’s Feuer und backen Sich Fische und quäcken und schrei’n.21

Another portrait in Linnaean style was given to us by Knud Leem, though it is not on a par with Heine’s: ‘Vultum habent fusci et luridi coloris, capillos curtos, latum os, genas cavas, menta longa, oculos lip21 In Lapland live dirty people, / Flatheaded, wide-jawed, and small, / They squat round the fire and roast one another / Fish, and they scream and squall [Translator].


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pos.’22 Here we see that the priest studied the soul rather better than the body, and failed to observe that the cheeks were prominent, the jaw small, and the skin grimy, not fosca. 23 The poet has managed to see better than the priest, as is only natural. If the poet did not have the sharp, profound mind of the observer, he would be lacking the most powerful string of his lyre. The first impression that a Lapp makes on us is of a poor, modest human creature who excuses himself to the powerful for existing in this world, of which he asks to occupy the least space possible. He is so small, this poor fellow, and so hampered in his fur covering, and so unprepossessing, with so little to claim before all the grandees of our European life, that we feel for him that sympathy laden with compassion and benevolence that every man inspires in us who rouses in us neither envy nor ire. Indeed, all travellers have always spoken with great sympathy of the poor Lapps, and some have even been impelled to a lyrical sentiment that distorts the truth; and some we may find going even further in speaking of the moral character of these third cousins of ours in the great European family. Réclus, who may be the last writer to have spoken to us at all of the Lapps, creates too flattering a portrait, following Van Düben. He says that their forehead is noble and the largest among the Scandinavians, and adds, ‘La bouche est souriante; l’éclair du regard vif et bienveillant, le front élevé, est d’une véritable noblesse.’24 This is true adulation, yet it comes closer to the truth than the disdain and repugnance that almost all Norwegians express for their poor neighbours of Mongolic extraction. It is proverbial for them to say, He’s as annoying as a Lapp, A Lapp is no better than a dog. Von Buch has collected these insults, which now one may hear less frequently, perhaps because the Lapps drink less to excess than in the past. In any case, locals and travellers always view an inferior people a little differently. The traveller is

22 They have dark faces, and of a ghastly pallid colour, short hair, large mouths, hollow cheeks, long chins, blear eyes. Knud Leem (1696–1774) was a Norwegian missionary who, after working as a vicar at Talvik and Alta, became the leading eighteenth-century specialist on Sami language and culture, and collected a large amount of ethnological material [Editor]. 23 Dark [Translator]. 24 The mouth is smiling, the glimmer in the eye lively and kindly, the forehead high and truly noble [Translator].

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almost always good-humoured and given to optimism, seeing all objects and reproducing them in his books with rose-coloured glasses; whereas when a superior race is dogged by greatly inferior men whom it can neither educate nor kill, it hardly feels disposed to indulgence. If you go to Norway and speak with prefects in the provinces occupied by Lapps, you will scarcely have sat down before you must hear the Scandinavian’s lamentations against the same: – They are filthy, they are cunning, they invade our fields with their reindeer; There’s nothing to be done about them, they are the scourge of my province. They are partly right, but still forget that the north of the peninsula would manage to provide neither bread nor well-being for the Scandinavian races, who would have to endure the winter without their tasty helpings of reindeer meat if those poor same were to vanish today from the face of the earth. The Lapps are among the shortest human beings on the planet. Dalk found the average stature of shepherd Lapps to be 1.60 metres; according to Van Düben and Humboldt, it is closer to 1.50. Ecker came up with these measurements: Nilla (male), age 20: height 1.53 m Puches (male), age 17: height 1.37 m Kaisa (female), age 24: height 1.42 m Ippa (female), age 20: height 1.44 m The measurements taken by Sommier and myself would bring the following results: Average height of 59 men: 1.52 m; max. 1.70, min. 1.32 Average height of 22 women: 1.45 m; max. 1.60, min. 1.27 These calculations excluded all people under the age of twenty. The Lapp certainly does not look athletic, and more often is lean than fat; indeed, I can say that I have never seen one who warranted that adjective. The children, as happens in nearly all human races, are chubby if not plump, but grow thin over time. Knud Leem describes them as magni roboris 25 although small, and as 25 Of great strength [Editor].


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one proof of their robustness cites the fact of a woman who, five days after giving birth, in wintertime, made a long voyage on foot across the snowy hills to be purified in church. This, however, is proof of resistance to snow, and nothing else. All the Lapps I and Sommier saw were subjected to dynametric testing and generally yielded numbers lower than our average. When they are dressed in their furs and look like walking sacks, no one would think them nimble, but they are, as a result of the exertions polar life imposes on them. They seem to fly on their skates, and Knud describes them with poetic words: ‘Et tanta feruntur pernicitate, ut venti circa aures strideant, crinesque surrigant.’26 For the good Norwegian parish priest there is proof of great agility in the ability to sit folded in two with heels under the buttocks, and he credits this ability to the fish oil they constantly rub into themselves (!). It is this same oil, with which their clothes are also soaked, that also makes them, more often than not, foul-smelling: ‘Eundem foetorem non aliunde quam ex vestibus hujus gentis perpetuo in tuguriis fumo et oleo ex pinguedine piscium expresso, imbutis et perunctis, provenire.’27 The Lapps are among the least hirsute of peoples. The men have little beard, and often none at all on their cheeks, but only on the upper lip and the chin. We have seen certain ones without any hair in their armpits, and one stocky man we photographed hadn’t a single pubic hair. Certain women, of whom we could examine the underarms only with great coaxing, had hair there; but it was absolutely impossible to explore the lower parts. The examination they did allow us showed flaccid, drooping breasts in young women who claimed to have never given birth, a striking fact in a people living in such a harsh climate. They have a lot of hair on their heads, and the women’s is always longer than the men’s; never curly, but not straight and thick either, as are many Mongolic and American races. The rarest colours for them are light blonde and deep black. Among the Swedish Lapps we photographed in Tromsoe, only one had truly black hair, and light blonde we found only in Ojung, in one other rare instance. The commonest

26 They moved so fast and nimbly that the winds would whistle next to their ears and their hair would rise [Editor]. 27 That smell came from nowhere else but the clothes of those people always in the smoke of huts, and oil squeezed from the fat of fish [Editor].

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colour is brown, ranging from light to dark, with occasionally a fine tawny shade. We never saw albino or red hair. They turn grey later than we do, and baldness too is fairly rare, and for the most part partial. The Lapps’ hair seldom encounters a comb, and their style of hair can be described as dishevelled or tousled. The women too are often content to gather their hair in a bun tied at the crown of the head; the most decorous among them make very simple braids, which they often neglect for days and weeks. The Lapps have white-brown skin, and many among them, if well scrubbed, would be whiter than an Italian. The Lapp’s forehead is handsome, broad, high, and as such stands in remarkable contrast to other features typical of inferior races. Their eyes are mostly grey or bright blue, but fairly frequently brown as well. They are small eyes, with scant eyebrows, and tend to be rheumy and teary owing to their always living between smoke and snow-glare. Leem relates that in the winter, upon return from the hunt, they remain blind for days on end. Yet they are not wont to wear eyeglasses to protect themselves from the snow’s glare, as do other peoples living about the poles. Some of them told me they had thrown them out because they weakened their eyes, which instead needed fortifying against the stark whiteness of the snow and ice.28 Almost all the Lapps have the same shape of nose, which can be termed one of the most characteristic traits of the race; it is short, flattened, quite broad at the base, with a very small point, and sometimes upturned. The mouth is large, with thin lips and teeth marvellous in both their evenness and their whiteness and strength. The Chukchi also must have these precious prerogatives, as can be said of other hyperborean peoples, the beauty of whose teeth might be suspected of being preserved by the smoky atmosphere of their huts and the action of the cold. The face is invariably very broad, but this breadth quickly tapers around the chin, which ends almost in a point, so that the lower

28 Bove found that the Chukchi do not wear eyeglasses, although many of them have eyes in the most parlous condition. The indigenous peoples of the American polar coasts and the Eskimos, on the other hand, use wooden eyeglasses with a very narrow lengthwise slit that lets in few rays of light [Author]. The Chukchi (from the Russian Cukci) are a people living in the northeastern area of Siberia and devoted to fishing and reindeer breeding. The Italian explorer Giacomo Bove (1852–87) took part in Nordenskjold’s 1878 expedition in search of the Northeast Passage [Editor].


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jawbone is small and delicate. It is this that gives a Lapp face the character typical of the Mongol, which at times shows up in the most Turanic races of the north of East Asia, whereas it can vanish by infinite gradations until it gives the physiognomy an Aryan character. It is hard to say whether this is due to the admixture of other blood or to the individual variations to which any man born under the sun is susceptible. The hands and feet are small, in conformity with the smallness of the body, and the index finger is always shorter than the ring finger, sometimes to a most remarkable degree. This observation, which we first made, would seem to corroborate Ecker,29 who found in this fact a character inherent in inferior races and, relating them to anthropomorphic monkeys. The Lapps are a long-living and healthy people. My travel companion saw several octogenarians and even nonagenarians. They have no particular diseases, and Leem says he has in the span of ten years never seen them sick with dysentery, leprosy, or malign fevers (typhoid fevers?). It appears they very rarely suffer from phthisis, though often from cephalea, but it is rather difficult to gather positive information about their pathology, since they treat themselves and rarely resort to our hospitals. It is said that their popular remedies are revellents30 and asafoetida.31 They treat many internal ailments by drinking the hot blood of seals or reindeer. They treat leucoma by putting a common louse in the eye, and toothache by rubbing the tooth or teeth with wood from a tree blasted by lightning. They use the thread taken from reindeer tendons to bind broken or sprained limbs, though women must get this from a female animal and men from a male. Bear fat was the most prized remedy against rheums, though again men and women had to get the fat from an animal of their respective sex. Smallpox only rarely has struck and devastated them.

29 Ecker, ‘Einige Bemerkungen über einen schwankenden Charakter in der Hand der Menschen’ [Some Observations on the Varying Character of the Human Hand], Archiv für Anthropologie; Mantegazza, Della lunghezza relative dell’indice e dell’anulare, Archivio per l’Antropologia e l’Etnologia, vol. 7 (Florence, 1877), p. 19 [Author]. 30 Revellents (or revulsives): agents that produce revulsion, that is, a counterirritation aimed at reducing the inflammation in or increasing the blood supply to the infected part of the body [Editor]. 31 See p. 350 n24 [Editor].

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The Lapps are not ugly, and the smile of the girls in their springtime can sometimes even be said to be beautiful. The concept I have been able to formulate of their general physiology cannot corroborate Virchow’s opinion of the Lapps as a pathological race.32 It is a small and wretched race, but suited to its environment. One could just as well declare the dwarf birch a pathological species. Beyond that I shall not insist on disputing with my illustrious friend from Berlin, having never believed that boundaries between physiology and pathology truly exist in nature; they are borders marked by our pencil in our books, and nothing more. […] The luxuries of the meagre polar cuisine are coffee and tobacco. You have already seen how they prepare the former; the latter they either smoke in a pipe or chew. The pipe is always in the mouth of every Lapp, of both sexes and of all ages, so that they chew it more rarely. When tobacco is hard to come by, they sit in a circle on the floor and pass around a single pipe. When the divine nicotine is nowhere to be found, they even gnaw the wooden vessels or bowls that have held their supply. It has also been learned that in chewing they spit into the palm of their hand and snort in the delightful juice, lest any of their divine narcotic be wasted. And thus my friend Sommier was right to tell me the Lapps have three gods: fire, coffee, and tobacco. Undoubtedly the abuse of coffee and tobacco contributes in no small measure to the remarkable nervousness of the Lapps, which very often leads them to hallucinations and the strangest hystericisms of the imagination; yet what poor humans could tolerate their polar life without these two nervine foods? The Lapps have all the most marked characteristics of lower peoples. Heedless, inert, only in rare instances busy; whimsical and in all respects much like our children. They themselves are the children of a land that is among the most sterile on earth, covered with ice for so many months of the year, and they have done nothing to attempt improving this land and making it more fertile. Their environment rules them, not they their

32 Rudolf Ludwig Karl Virchow (1821–1902), a German pathologist, prehistorian, biologist, and politician. Considered the first to recognize leukaemia, he is also the founder of the disciplines of cellular pathology and comparative pathology. In 1869 he established the German Society for Anthropology, Ethnology, and Prehistory [Editor].


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environment. Without the reindeer, they would cease to exist or would be transformed (were such a thing possible) by utterly different customs and qualities. In winter, the night is eternal and they sleep long, long hours: in summer, the sun shines sempiternally on the horizon and they sleep little or not at all. When Forbes expressed his wonder at seeing work extending into the night at Bosekop, and people sleeping either very little or sporadically, someone replied to him, ‘We have enough time to sleep in winter.’ Even in summer, however, I have seen them napping day and night. When they have nothing better to do they lie down at random on the ground, at some roadside, on a pile of stones or planks, or piled alongside each other, looking like heaps of furs or dirty linen. […] The Lapps have a gentle, kindly character, and hospitality is one of their most salient virtues. Leem says they never curse, which makes them, in this respect (he adds), far superior to the Norwegians. Fjellner relates that they used to be hospitable in the fullest sense of the term,33 so that, according to custom, the guest slept next to the wife and daughters of the master of the house. Now that they are more civilized,

33 It is worth comparing the character of the Chukchi with that of the Lapps. Even these Oriental brethren of our good Scandinavian friends are kindly and tender with their families – neither thieves nor murderers. If you give a child some candy or treat, he will invite his little siblings and friends in order to divide the gift with them. They try nothing, these children, without first presenting it to their parents and receiving permission to eat. At the age of seven or eight the poor children begin following the seal-fishing caravans, at nine or ten years old they already drive a team of seven or eight dogs; at thirteen or fourteen they already own a harpoon, a lance, and a bow, weapons they will never set down until their dying day. They are cheerful, happy people. The Chukchi are very hospitable, and at one time they would offer their guest their wives. This no longer happens, although it must be said that Chukchi women know nothing of modesty. The Chukchi too show little liking for music and have no musical instruments but a drum made from a seal bladder and a one-string viola. The few songs they know are sweet and monotonous. Only the girls dance, alone, and their dance consists of little jumps to left and right, and they roll their eyes horribly, groaning and panting like their very beasts and cetaceans. There are many external similarities between our Lapps and the Chukchi. The latter also wear two furs in winter, one on the outside, the other on the inside. They too, when they rest, pull in one or both arms from their sleeves, the better to warm themselves. They too never give up their knife, their pipe, or their tobacco pouch. Our Bove more than once saw Chukchi women chewing tobacco, and their babies give up their mother’s nipple to suck on a pipe [Author].

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the Lapps still receive guests, but with a certain rationabile obsequio.34 Von Buch relates having once knocked in vain at the hut of a Lapp. The master of the house answered his request with these words: ‘Today two Lapps came from far away and they have taken the only places available.’ The guide who accompanied the illustrious voyager was mortified, and, after brief bickering, uttered this biblical sentence: ‘When there is room in the heart one soon finds room in the tent.’ Van Düben also says that today the Lapps sometimes think nothing of eating with their families without offering anything to the guest who watches them. When a storm breaks out, however, fifteen or even twenty may enter the hut. Those whom they know are given coffee or meat; the unknown guests are offered only water and fire. Even the most affectionate among the Lapps are, on a first encounter, cold and reserved; later, when the ice has been broken by conversation or, better yet, by small gifts, they grow courteous and expansive. In Swedish Lapland they greet you on arriving with a buorist (well!), and bid goodbye with a batze dervan. They kiss by rubbing noses, or they embrace and wrap the right arm about the waist, touching nose against nose. There used to be an entire hierarchy of greetings: a kiss on the lips among very close relatives, a kiss on the cheeks for less close relatives, a nose-to-nose ‘kiss’ for others. Today few still grasp the right arm, others shake hands as we do. One mark of their decency is the great infrequency of murder among them, which occurs only out of religious fanaticism. Many travellers, therefore, are not entirely wrong in saying that they do not shed blood. They do steal reindeer, however, and often cheat in business. Even the good Leem, who is so fond of them, says, ‘Lappones, ut reliqui mortalium suis quoque vitiis laborant, sed paucis sane et raris …,’35 and the vices in question are drunkenness (today all but forgotten) and fraud. In their selling they manage, among other things, to pass off bad furs as good, skilfully hiding the holes and patches. Domestic theft, however, is practically unknown, and Leem says that in all the years he lived in Lapland nothing was ever stolen from him, although he left all his things out in the open.

34 Rationabile obsequium, reasonable service [Editor]. 35 The Lapps, like the rest of mankind, are afflicted by their own vices, but actually these are few and infrequent [Editor].


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Marrying very young, the men passionately love their wives and children. Maternal affection is evidenced in the cradles they make so artfully and decorate with painstaking love. These are wooden, fur-covered, and for the winter have a casing of soft fur, with a sort of canopy to shield their little one’s eyes from the light. Women breastfeed their babies for two years and sometimes longer. Weddings are extremely simple. The bridegroom goes to the house of the bride with some of his kin, one of whom serves as his advocate and spokesman, and entering the hut offers wine to the future father-in-law. If this is accepted, the matrimony is arranged, and all the relatives drink the same drink. Finally, the suitor also enters, and offers the girl a small gift, which is usually some article of silver. The nuptials are later celebrated with a small dinner, without pomp or fuss and without any singing or dancing. When the ceremony is over, the bridegroom almost always remains with his bride in the father-in-law’s house for the span of a year, after which he will set up his own household, receiving all he needs for it from the father-in-law. Matrimony among kin is forbidden. Funerals are as simple as weddings. The corpse, attended by a small cortège, is carried on a stretcher to some outlying site, where it is buried, not very deep, in a birch casket, or even with no casket. At one time, the sled of the deceased was planted on the grave-plot, and a crude monument in stone and birch bark erected. The wealthiest sometimes receive a funeral supper. Regarding the modesty of Lapps, opinion is sharply divided. If I had to judge from my own experience, I would say that their women are more modest than many others, for I never managed to photograph any in the nude, even when I offered the handsome sum of 150 lire for this favour. […] Cheerful and voluble, they love to chat for hours at a time; and to us children of the nineteenth century, it seems strange that they can find so much to talk about in their narrow world. They sing without any harmony and love to declaim their poems, also improvising their vuoleh, especially when they have been cheered by a bit of aquavit. Often two singers embrace and, long clinging together, respond to each other in song, weeping with emotion. […]

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The Lapps have no clocks and keep time only rather approximately with the sun. Time is the last thing on their minds. If a thing does not get done today, it will be done tomorrow, and if it is not done tomorrow, it will be some other time: that is their philosophy. They make decisions slowly, willy-nilly, but once something has been decided, it is carried out with dispatch. […] The Lapps are generally thrifty, and in their contracts they prefer coin, which they call blanca, to paper money, which, however, does not have forced currency. Commerce used to be enacted by barter, but now it is done with money. They often give gifts to their clients, but with the assurance of receiving something in return. Having seen Lapps buying and selling, I have found them quite similar in their transactions to the Indians of South America. They are peevish, insistent, meticulous; they hide their cunning under a thick mantle of geniality and seeming dullwittedness, but in the end, in dealing with us people of higher race and evangelical morals, they are more often the taken than the takers. Every Scandinavian merchant who has business dealings with the Lapps has his own particular clients. When he wishes to draw up a contract, he must first and foremost bring aquavit and offer small gifts. The Lapp, for his part, offers him reindeer and wild game meat, which he then receives cooked by his merchant. In general, when dealings have been concluded and the balance drawn up, the poor Lapp remains forever in debt, which binds him all the tighter to his merchant, without being able to offer his wares to any other merchant. The debts are recorded in the simplest way, by notches scored on a piece of wood that is cut into two equal halves, one for the creditor and one for the debtor. In general, every notch stands for a half crown (0.75 lire). When one thinks that vast deserts of marshland and ice separate debtors and creditors for long months, one must give a civil crown for honesty to those poor hyperborean dwarfs who conduct their business dealings in such naive forms, with such trust in the promises made them. The Lapps enjoy all the rights of citizens of Sweden and Norway, though they are unaware of having them. They faithfully pay their taxes; they learn to read and write, because this too is one of their duties, and they would otherwise be denied the


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sacrament of confirmation, which they hold quite dear; yet their literary culture is mostly limited to poorly reading the Gospels and roughly signing their names. Some, however, are more open to study and cultivation. […] But these Lapps of ours, where did they come from? Who are they? By what ring are they joined to the great family of peoples of Asia or Europe? Today, we rightly feel we do not know a creature on this small sublunary globe if we have not assigned to him a genealogy and conferred upon him a hierarchical place in the great story of becoming. […] An ancient tradition has it that they came from the Orient; and Castren, taking up that tradition, thought he could be more specific by asserting that they came from the Altai with the Finns – which, however, is easier to say than to prove. Van Düben, more sceptical than Castren, finds the Lapps too different from the Finns to trace them to a single stock. It is true that their languages are similar, and that both belong to the UgroAltaic group; but physiological affinity is one thing and ethnic affinity quite another. The Lapps may have been the first to emigrate from a great Altaic centre, moving northwest, along the Irtisch or Obi river, passing by the Urals. It is impossible to say when they arrived in Europe. The Lapps have 18 words in their language to express the form of mountains, 20 for ice, 11 for cold, and 41 for snow and its varieties, whereas their vocabulary for the things of temperate climes is quite poor. This fact is also a powerful index showing, that this poor people was born amid the ice and emigrated yet again amid the ice, merely exchanging the cold of Asia for that of Europe. These are the few certainties that ethnological criticism can state about the origin of the Lapps; to advance on narrower paths in search of more minute particulars would simply be to lose one’s way in the labyrinth of the historical novel.

From India

Chapter 1 The Symphony of the Book [– Journey from Florence to Bombay – Notes from My Notepad – Port Said and Suez – The Red Sea – Aden – Life on Board – In the Indian Ocean – The Last Day on the Singapore – Hymn to the Earth and Anathema to Cremation] Surely there is no one among us who in childhood did not dream of India and in youth did not yearn for it. The Thousand and One Nights, Golconda, nabobs, elephants, bayadères1 are part of popular poetry in the theatres, and come to us at night in mysterious dreams. We find something of India in our brain even before it has been born in outer life; we find fragments of it in our dictionaries, on our skin, in our words, everywhere. A child in Lombard says; Va a Calicut, go to Calcutta; the man of the people wears a shirt of Madapolam cotton; our fine ladies cover their shoulders with cashmere, on their breast gleams a sapphire, on their fingers a little piece of heaven made from Tibetan turquoise. The words with which we display our feelings have their roots in that faraway land of blazing sunlight and intoxicating perfumes. Why have we not the same sympathies for America? Has it not deep virgin

1 Golconda is one of the most spectacular fortresses in India, located close to the city of Hyderabad. The city it originally enclosed was renowned for the diamond trade. The Ko-hi-noor diamond is said to have come from there. Nabobs were provincial governors of the Mogul empire in India, and the word, by extension, designates people of great wealth or prominence. Bayadères are Indian professional female dancers [Editor].


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forests? More gigantic rivers? Has it not, perhaps, also perfumes and flowers, and if not Golconda, caskets-worth of gems even more brilliant in its hundred thousand hummingbirds? Java too is more beautiful than India, Africa too has its aesthetic mysteries and the dangerous, fatal seductions of virginity. But America, and Java, and Africa are not India. India is the country from which we have come; India gave us the blood, the language, the religion, and the bread of daily life, and that other, golden bread, as necessary, nay, more necessary perhaps, than the first, which is the ideal. India exerts a charm upon us that no other land on earth can have. That is because we are all fragments of it. In no other instance do we see atavism work more powerfully within us. Thus I too, in childhood, in boyhood, in youth, dreamed of India, dreamed it as you did, as all do. And when, having grown into manhood, I devoted my whole being to studying mankind, as a physician, a pathologist, an anthropologist, I felt it was my duty to see that problem-ridden land. And I was and remain happy to have done so, as one is happy after satisfying any long-harboured, ardent desire. The philologist may have a profound knowledge of Sanskrit, the historian may solve great problems, without setting foot in India. The anthropologist must go there. Apparently this need is generally felt, too, because, on finding Haeckel2 there, I learned that Lubbock also was expected. Half a century ago, Jacquemont3 took eight months to go from France to Calcutta; today you can go there and come back, in the same length of time, after a stay of six months traversing that entire land so rich in people and problems. 2 Ernst Heinrich Philip August Haeckel (b. 16 February 1834; d. 8 August 1919), a German biologist, physician, and philosopher responsible for popularizing Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution in Germany. He is remembered for his much debated ‘recapitulation theory,’ according to which ontogeny (the development of form) recapitulates phylogeny (evolutionary descent), as well as for his ‘biogenic theory,’ which, by seeing the development of races as parallel to that of the individuals, implied that socalled primitive races corresponded to the infancy of civilization and hence needed supervision by more advanced societies. [Editor]. 3 Victor Jacquemont (b. 8 August 1801 in Paris; d. 7 December 1832 in Bombay), a botanist, natural historian, and traveler. He sailed for America in 1826, visited Haiti and two years later, having returned to France, left on a scientific mission to India, where



Two hundred and fifty-two thousand million people, all the climates in the world, all the colours of human flesh, Buddhism, Brahmanism, Mohammedanism, and every form of the religion of Christ, plus the wildest fetishism; Buddha, Brahma, Christ, and the Sun. All the material needed to resolve the largest questions of anthropology and ethnology. The fruit of my voyage to India is this book, which has no claim beyond the very modest one of limning in broad strokes one of the most fascinating countries on earth, and of enticing the reader to go there, be he a man of science or an artist, a businessman or a touriste. All will experience there new emotions, troves of observation for the present, precious memories for the future. Beyond this book I shall publish four scientific memoirs which, assembled under the title ‘Studii sull’etnologia dell’India,’4 will form a volume illustrated by original photos I took during my voyage. To make a book about India, however, I should like to be a musician, to be able to write a symphony that could serve as a preface to my volume. Music is the only art that can generally express the indefinite, the immensity of sensations that India arouses, it is the only art that could speak of all the warm sensuality and the interlacement of great, exalted, multiform thought to which we are borne in visiting that faraway land; a country of cholera and elephants, the most beautiful orchids and tigers, and where almost 300 million people of all colours throng like ants in an anthill on the Queen’s coronation day. Excess is the dominant note in India – too many people and too many animals, too much heat, too-high mountains, too much wealth and too much poverty, too much senility and too much childhood, too

he explored the Himalaya region, penetrated into Chinese Tartary, the Kashmir region, and Tibet. After returning to Bombay, he died of cholera. The journal of his Indian experience, Voyage dans l’Inde (1836), edited posthumously by Guizot, is rich in geological, geographical, botanical and zoological information, and offers equally interesting details about the institutions, traditions, and languages of the countries he visited. His chief claim to fame, however, is probably his epistolary exchanges with family and friends during his travels (Correspondance, 1833), which were appreciated for their lively style and detailed observations [Editor]. 4 ‘Studies in the Ethnology of India’ [Editor].


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many colours and too many odours, too many fevers and too many loves, too many dead and too much life. We poor lukewarm men of the temperate zone feel overwhelmed, inundated by too many sensations; one is dazed, dazzled, wearied. Inside and out, one is forever sweating. Temperance, modesty, shame, thrift are all exotic plants in that land of fire, and there we are led at every turn to envy its natives. I should therefore be writing a symphony in the key of the excessive, and then I would want to take you inside dark, horrid temples, with cows and peacocks and mendicant priests, and elephants covered in gold and silver, and gleaming gems on the breast of babes, and princes who have on their garments millions in precious stones, and coolies5 who live on four lire a month, and black people, naked, always gleaming with coconut oil or sweat or both at once, and then an orgy of naked flesh, well shaped, not deformed by layers of dress and trousers, and then multicoloured apparel that veils, covers, but does not hide the human body, speaking and feeling, rather, with the man who uses it, and then the grotesque in the saint and the gigantic in the awkward, monkeys that are worshipped and holy men who don’t budge from their spot for thirty years, and monkeys kept at the expense of the state and hospitals for cats, and dogs and ravens and snakes and elephants, crocodiles, rhinoceroses, buffaloes cavorting in fevered lands and bamboos tall as towers and forests of magnolias and rhododendrons big as chestnut trees, and bayadères who seem epileptic, and faces dulled by opium and teeth corroded by betel and mouths that seem to spit blood everywhere, and mountains among the tallest on the earth, and shops smaller than a cupboard; and a pandemonium and a dithyramb of gleaming things, grotesque things, things very big and very small that seem some colossal masquerade dreamed up by a delirious Victor Hugo. But I am no musician, and the symphony will not be written. I shall, instead, make a simple narration of my trip, drawing it from the jottings in my notebook and alternating it with studies on the Hindus and their ways. I make but two claims: scrupulous veracity in every detail, and the

5 A term deriving from the Hindi kul. Coolies were unskilled labourers or porters usually from the Far East, hired for low or subsistence wages [Editor].



clear distinction between what I myself saw and how much I learned instead from the written word of books and from the talk of the many Englishmen I met in India and who had resided there for many long years. […] Chapter 2 In Bombay – The First Scent of India – Watson’s Hotel and Indian Hotels – Servants and Their Delights [– Bombay Described by a Hindu Poet – The Market – The Animal Hospital – The School of Arts – The Black Town and Dwarkanath – Bombay’s Bazaar] Before you have barely disembarked at Bombay, you sense a smell that is new to you, utterly peculiar, that comes close to that of a blend of musk and spices. If you open the window in the morning, it wafts into your room as the first greeting the land of India gives you; you smell it more strongly where the indigenous population gathers, probably owing to the sandalwood and other sacred scents burned in the houses. In Madras and in general through the south of India, the smell of the place is, rather, one of coconut oil, and in the stations, the districts inhabited by the natives, and the market, it smells its sharpest, almost seizing you by the throat. For those with delicate senses of smell, many countries have a characteristic odour, and I recall, among the best known, that of fish oil in Norway, of fog and fossil coal in London, and of gatinga (the Negroes’ sweat) in Rio de Janeiro. The smell of the air, however, is not what strikes you most when you land at Bombay. It is the fantastic spectacle of a half-English, half-Indian city, with a population among the most multicoloured in the world, where human flesh is presented to you in all its pigments, and human garb in all styles and shapes, all the hues of a carnival or a Venetian palette. It is a museum of races, an exposition of ethnic types, a kaleidoscope of dazzling shades and bizarre figures composed for you – and decomposed before your eyes. Woe to you if, in that magical city, in your first days you have kept that intensely calm sensitivity you enjoy in our cool continent of Europe. You will be intoxicated and feverish, as I was


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at the age of twenty-two, on landing for the first time on the coast of Brazil. Instead, luckily for your nerves, the gentle weariness of the tropics embraces you on your first descent into India, and in the preferred horizontal position that you immediately assume, you peacefully see pass before you the magic lantern of the white Parsis6 having stovepipes for hats, the naked coolies, the pariah girls black as ebony, the red, yellow, violet turbans, with or without a horn, with or without a tail, and horses and coaches and palanquins; and you hear a confused murmur of all the world’s tongues, which seem to collide unwittingly, like dialogues between drunken people, lingering in the air. My lodging is the Esplanade or Watson’s Hotel, one of Bombay’s best; I have taken a small room on the fourth floor.7 It costs me two rupees less than if I had chosen the second floor, and one less than the third. If I were to go up to the fifth, I would pay one less than that. As for board and service, I am treated the same as the other guests; that is, I may eat all that is available in the kitchen and appears on the menu. I could, for example, if I were to try emulating Gargantua, consume ten plates for lunch and twenty at dinner, without counting the tea and coffee with bread and butter in the morning, and the bath, which I am free to take whenever I wish. For all this, by God’s grace, I pay a mere six rupees a day.8 India’s hotels cost little, but are the most hilarious thing in the world. When you scold the English for their deplorable state, for the utter lack of comfort found in their Indian hotels, they start to laugh and shrug their shoulders. They frequent them only by chance and for very few days at a time, having homes of their own, or finding easy accommodations at the

6 A term deriving from the Persian Pars, meaning ‘Persia.’ It designates a Zoroastrian descended from Persian refugees settled principally at Bombay [Editor]. 7 Terzo piano [Editor]. 8 In India’s cities, money is English although Indian-coined. The unit is the rupee, which is worth between 2.10 and 2.50 lire, depending on the exchange rate, and the rupee divides into the ana, corresponding to one and a half English pennies. The ana in turn breaks down into the pais, a copper coin. Gold pieces are not coined, since the Hindus would take them out of circulation to use as jewellery. Higher than the rupee, however, there is paper money, with the same value as silver coin; but as it is issued by various banks, it can often be lost by the traveller moving from one part of India to another. One can only hope that, with a single government ruling India, there will be a single form of money throughout the country [Author].



houses of friends or in their clubs. Then too, they always go about with one or more of their own servants. Yet I, who travelled through all of India with no servant, something as remarkable as a European travelling among us without valise or trunk, experienced the delights of Indian hotels. At Watson’s Hotel, for instance, these things happen: at one moment you could have dropped dead and no one notices (they do not have alarm bells here), at another, you are assailed by a cohort of servants that won’t leave you in peace. One day when I received many visits, the visitor for chamber pots entered the room four times within an hour to see if I needed his help, naively lifting the bed-covers to verify this fact. My indignation was all for nought, since he understood not a single word of English. Another time I was wakened ten times between five and seven in the morning, five times to offer me a bath, which I had said I did not want, and five times to offer me a tea I had declined. Pum, pum! ‘Will you take a bath?’ ‘I don’t take a bath this morning.’ Pum, pum! ‘Will you take a cup of tea?’ ‘I don’t take tea this morning.’9 At the tenth knock I leapt out of bed in my nightshirt, and made a terrible scene in the corridor, yelling and shouting and cursing in English, Milanese, and every language I could muster. Apparently they understood, since I was left in peace. Words cannot describe the dinner scene at a table d’hôte in Watson’s Hotel. An immense room, more than a hundred or even two hundred people, all Europeans, at table. The punkahs (huge fans suspended in the air and moved by a coolie posted behind the door) are all waving together, scattering menu cards and napkins, and blowing the hair of those who have hair and wear it long. Behind every seated person a servant, in addition to the hotel servants, who must number at least fifty, and who come and go, ask without receiving a reply, and reply without being asked. It is the dining room of Watson’s Hotel that first gave me a sense of what took place at the Tower of Babel, that famous day when it pleased the Lord God to prepare so many thesauri for the study and pleasure of the future philologists of Europe.

9 The conversation is in English in the original text [Translator].


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Those servants ought to have been there to serve, and indeed, anyone who has a servant of his own reads the menu and orders him off into kitchen to fetch the desired dish. This process is not quite so smooth, however: for the private servant,10 dispatched into the kitchen, finds many other private servants who, like him, want to bring their master the best portion of said dish, so they fight, with words or fists, with or without mercy, depending on their respective temperaments and relative breeding: but sometimes two servants at once want the same good turkey thigh, and both grab it, until it falls onto the floor and a cat snatches it. Meanwhile, the table companion, who is hungry, waits with philosophical patience for the dish he has requested and envies his neighbour who, by not having a private servant, has all at once received four turkey thighs from four different servants. The slowness of return of the dispatched man depends at other times on such incidental causes as his finding a comely servant-girl in a corridor. All things considered, however, he dines best who has his own manservant. I, for example, who did not have one, once asked four servants in a row for beer, only to be told, ‘Private.’ I had mistakenly turned to private servants. On another occasion, by the law of compensation, I asked for two eggs to drink, and my cry of hunger, received by five hotel servants with nothing to do at that moment, resulted in my having, a moment later, ten eggs before me. Add to this that the hour of the table d’hôte is so elastic that, while you are eating your soup, your neighbour to the right is already having his cheese, and the one on the left his entrée. Add the multicoloured colour of all those servants, the clinking of glasses, the clash of plates and knives, the shouting of the help, the calls of the hungry, and the sighs of the patient, and I assure you the scene is worthy of the pen of Rabelais or Yorrick. Nor do the consolations of a first-class Indian hotel end here. One night in Watson’s Hotel I awoke, hearing a noise as of teeth gnawing upon something: I turned on the lamp and saw a large rat fleeing away, dragging off with it one of my shoes. The hole through which it had entered, though, was too small, and it left its loot with a break big as a

10 In English in the original text [Translator].



scudo.11 I hung my shoes on the nail of a picture and calmly went back to sleep. Travelling in India in the wintertime, I did not encounter the famous land bloodsuckers, nor did I see snakes roaming about loose, but I did have dealings with rats on several occasions. In the Deccan in 1878–9, some rats destroyed whole harvests of sorghum, devouring everything. It was the Golunda mettada, of which Elliot spoke half a century ago.12 But to return to the servants. I wished, and managed, to travel throughout India without any servant; but I would advise you to take one. Among the other fine things you cannot do without one is to be invited to dine, since even in the host’s house you must have your servant behind your seat, so that he can go into the kitchen to get you your food. I dined more than modestly only in the house of governors and kings, or Italians and foreigners kind enough to have the heart of kings; there, I was always served by the of those who had invited me. […] Chapter 5 [The Peculiar Way I Began the Year 1882 –] Journey from Bombay to Madras – Indian Railways and Cold Showers on the Train [– Madras and Its Hotels – A Tragicomical Boarding in Madras Bay – A Quick Presentation to the Reader of the Town of Madras] […]Wednesday, 4 January. I awaken at 4:30 and find myself among cultivated plains of sorghum, tobacco, cotton, and the castor-oil plant. Here and there are groups of Acacia arabica, one of the commonest plants in all of India. A village with Muslim tombs. Every so often there rises from the plain a conical hillock with ruins of ancient fortresses.

11 A silver coin used in Italy, and varying in value in different areas, until the end of the eighteenth century [Editor]. 12 The coffee-rat or Golunda ellioti, an insular variety of the Mus hirsutus identified by Sir Walter Elliott in Southern India. Sir Walter Elliot (b. 1803 in Edinburgh; d. 1887) joined the Indian Civil Service in Madras in 1821 and worked in that city until 1860. In addition to zoology and botany (Flora andhirica, 1859), his interests spanned Oriental studies, archaeology, and numismatics (Coins of Southern India, 1884). A scholar of Sanskrit legal literature, in 1844 he began publication of The Crescent, reputedly the first Hindu periodical in Madras [Editor].


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At a station I see an old black woman with her face and arms dyed yellow. It is one of the most horrid pictures yet painted with the human palette. Over the Deccan Plateau, and at a station I buy Hyderabad currency.13 As though as an antidote to the old black woman, I see a young Indian woman almost naked, who smiles in the chaste and maidenly pride of her bronzed limbs. I watch her with an eye perhaps too European, for she, blushing as well as bronze can blush, draws a veil across her shoulders and drapes herself like a Greek statue. At Cooty I marvel at many stark white houses, so tiny one might think they are a wooden village erected out of a Nuremberg toy-box. The men are all shaved two-thirds up to the crown of their head, and the remaining hair is gathered in a ponytail. The women have hair so black and sleek with coconut oil that it flames into a shade of blue I have never in my life seen. We are in the first days of January, but the heat is tremendous. I allow myself the luxury of going into the small room annexed to every firstclass car, and there I take a cold shower, while from the windows I see fleeting groups of palms and acacias. It is a new pleasure, worth a voyage to India. One travels very well and inexpensively in Indian trains. A first-class car has only four seats, and if you are three friends travelling together you can be sure to be left alone. And the four seats change into beds at your pleasure, and you have desks and blinds and blue-tinted glass lest you tire your eyes in the garish light of the tropics. Every white-coloured car is protected from the sun’s rays by an awning and has a double covering, across which, in the hottest summer months, a sheet of cool water runs. From the car you enter the water closet, where you can take a

13 The city of Hyderabad, lying on the Deccan (Dakkan) Plateau, was founded in 1591 and ruled by the Qutb Shahi dynasty until it became part of the Mogul empire in 1687. After gaining independence from the Mogul emperor in 1724, the Hyderabad province experienced a period of cultural and economic growth and became the largest princely state in India under the Nizam rule, which remained in power even during British control. The Hyderabad state preserved its own currency, postal system, and mint. It became an Indian state only after Indian independence, when it was divided among several linguistic regions. [Editor].



shower or a cool cleansing sponge-bath. Baggage is expensive, but travelling in first class you can carry gratis as much as you desire in your car. You must always travel in first class, however, unless you want to find yourself in contact with not always clean Hindus, who are wont to travel in second class. There are cars for ladies only (i.e., Indian women) in the third class as well, and there is also a fourth class, in which one travels for just a few cents. The Indians travel a great deal and love the railways, and a train in India accordingly is one of the most picturesque spectacles you can imagine. Colours you would find only on the wings of parrots or in a country church consecration feast; as many physiognomies as Noah gathered into his ark; and if by chance you come upon a car for ladies only, when the train has halted, you see as many marmoreal and sculptured feminine bosoms as you can dream on for a good long while. At the stops, a Hindu black as ink runs bare-legged along the cars, shouting in a nasal voice, Pani, pani (water, water), and you see a hundred naked arms extending jars gleaming like gold to receive the water. […] Chapter 6 From Madras to Metapollium – The Nilgiri Mountains – My Toda [– The Coconut Dance – King Karudi and the Beautiful Ponmomi – At Ootacamund Market – A Trip to the Todas’ Mund – Milk and Betel at a Hindu Home – At the Botanical Garden – At the Seven-Kairns-Hill with Dr Griffith – Prehistoric Relics of India] I gladly leave Madras and, happy to find myself safe and sound after breathing that air mixed with warm fog and germ-laden dust, steer my prow toward the Nilgiris, those enchanting mountains I have dreamed of for years and years, those blue mountains where I must find the Todas. After a whole night spent in the railway car I see some lovely mountains at Salem, then endless palm trees and cultivated fields of rice, bananas, sugar, cotton, and capsicum peppers. Many villages ensconced among the coconut palms attest to the dense population and the riches of this land. Before Pothanur I could already see the Nilgiris in the distance and greeted them with anxious love. At Pothanur we leave the Bepur railway and board the branch line that will take us to Metapollium.


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We are at the foot of the Nilgiris, or, as Breeks14 calls them, the Niligiris (from nila, blue, and giri, mountain). They call them this because in the distance they seem blue, or rather because in springtime the meadows on those mountains are covered with a thick carpet of blue flowers. The English today write Nilgiris or Nilgherris, and I leave it to the philologists to decide which of these forms is the correct one. What is beyond dispute is that the Nilgiris are set mid-tropics between 11° 10’ and 11° 32’ north latitude and 76° 59’ and 77° 31’ east longitude – and that they are an earthly paradise. At Metapollium the railway ends, and one must ready the tonga15 for us, the ox-carts for baggage. I had telegraphed to have four tongas, whereas one would have sufficed, and an ox-cart, rather more economical than a tonga, would have accommodated all our baggage. Instead, the four tongas required some eight spare horses and an expense of two hundred rupees. An error that truly cost us dearly! I was soon to undergo a second panic, when I saw descend on my trunks a whole population of coolies. They were so many that, even had I given each fifty cents, I would have had to spend quite a sum. Just imagine, that upon one medium-sized valise six coolies found the means to set their heads and arms. The stationmaster laughed at my dismay and assured me that I would not be ruined. In fact, the transportation of all the immense baggage cost no more than a rupee! Forthwith I forgot my false alarm and the terrible bleeding made in my purse by four tongas, when in the multicoloured, Malaysian-type crowd milling about the station, I noticed a young black woman with long black curls and eyes of a blazing beauty. Certainly she was a Toda; she very much resembled the very beautiful portraits I had admired so often in Marshall’s work.16 I approached her smiling and said to her, in a questioning tone, ‘Toda?’ And she replied, ‘Toda!’ Alongside her, an old woman held a lance decorated with peacock feathers.

14 James Wilkinson Breeks (1830–72), an administrator in India and an anthropologist, took over the administration of the Nilgiris as its first Commissioner. He is the author of An Account of the Primitive Tribes and Monuments of the Nilagiris [sic] (1873), and he photographed the Kota, Kurumba, and Toda people of southern India in the early 1870s [Editor]. 15 A light two-wheeled vehicle drawn by a horse, commonly found in India [Editor]. 16 The British anthropologist William E. Marshall, the first to establish contact with the



My anthropologist’s innards were afire with love, desire, frenzy. Here I was, at last, in wild India, meaning at home! The colts of the tonga were tiny but ardent, never slowed their gallop, and at every moment were exchanged for others awaiting us along the road. They were running too quickly, those little horses, for I would have liked more time to admire the beauties of such fertile nature. First, there were fields of an extremely soft green rice and then forests of Areca, one of the loveliest palms in the world, shooting its emerald head heavenward with an agile trunk smooth as a column, then other palms (Borassus) and giant bamboo bushes, which at their base measured up to 500 millimetres in circumference and, bolt upright, propelled skyward for 20 and 30 metres, bending their spindly extremities in an arc, as though they were fishing rods. And from a single shrub sprang thirty, fifty, a hundred bamboo shoots, as from some pyrotechnic apparatus in the form of shooting rockets, which turned a single tuft into a forest. Now and then small silvery torrents and deep valleys with giant trees and leafless lianas that hung straight as ropes for 10 to 20 metres or wound in on themselves, coiled like a nest of vipers; and dangling below them, fruits and flowers of all colours and multicoloured little birds which looked fearlessly at us from their perfumed haunts, as though they were in a cage Nature had fashioned; and a warm scent of virgin forest that made my head spin. When the horses changed, I leaped down from my tonga with my botanist’s seed-receptacle and within a few minutes made a little booty of the loveliest plants for my friend Sommier. At Coonoor, the Cutigliano of the Nilgiris,17 we changed carriages. Giant eucalyptuses and huge Australian acacias showed the invading but also reforming hand of the English: yet in that artificial flora I was happy to see the first flowering rhododendron, with its great bunches of red flowers, its ferruginous leaves, its trunk thick as that of our mediumsized chestnut tree. Todas, to whom he devoted the study A Phrenologist among the Todas; or, The Study of a Primitive Tribe in South India (1873) [Editor]. 17 Mantegazza is here making an analogy between the second-largest hill station in the Nilgiris and a picturesque village in the Italian Apennines, close to the Tuscan city of Pistoia. As often in Mantegazza’s travel narratives and anthropological writings, new places are described and classified in relation to standards belonging to the author’s domestic culture [Editor].


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As we approached Ootacamund (7,416 feet), the vegetation became entirely Australian, and the Eucalyptus and Acacia melanoxylon made up an enchanting garden. At 6:30 p.m. we arrived at Silk’s Hotel, where I took Room 2. I dined with four or five Englishmen and a lady with teeth so brilliantly white they were a poem unto themselves; then I warmed myself at a crackling little fire, which made me happier than I can say. Only a few hours before, I had sweated as I gazed out on sugar-cane fields, and now I was warming myself at a fire of Australian acacias. Saturday, 7 January. I rise extremely early and climb the mountain, moving from one intoxication to another. This month of January, which for us others means snow, fog, stoves, and head colds, here signifies an emerald green on the land, a deep, transparent blue, a sapphire blue in the sky; an inebriating air of tepid coolness between land and sky. I walk amid woodland jasmine, flowering rhododendron, and the loveliest ferns. Every plant is a new friend to me, every bird that greets me a new acquaintance. From on high I see with real emotion, below, the first two Toda huts. I meet an Indian who, where I pass by, is breaking, to the right and left of him, a twig of the shrubs he has found. From the suspicious, fearful air with which he gazes at me, I think I can guess that with that operation he is defending himself from the evil eye I could cast upon him. Homo homini lupus18 and the evil eye are not just a Neapolitan, not even a Latin, invention. In that enchantment of nature, in that earthly paradise, man awakens a note of fear and suspicion. In my idle excursion I find a tiny, tranquil lake, designed by some fairy to hide her loves there. You reach it by immersing your foot in erpine and lichen velvets, and from a picturesque cliff a shrub of flowering rhododendron hangs over the water, which mirrors its bunch of pinks in the tranquil water. Beside that shrub a pure aloe, in bloom from its spiky nest, hurls skyward a direct flower-laden flame. The air is inebriating and raises my sensitivity to the highest pitches: it is so transparent, it seems you can touch the farthest mountains with your hands. The landscape is so rich and, in the vibrancy of the light, achieves hues so novel they keep me in a continual state of aesthetic intoxication. Wednesday, 11 January. Cosa bella e mortal passa e non dura,19 and when

18 Man is a wolf to his fellow man. A Roman proverb attributed to Plautus and later used by Thomas Hobbes to describe what for him was the savage egotism and violence of the state of nature in which man lived before the creation of society [Editor]. 19 Mortal beauties pass and fade. The title of Sonnet 190 in Francesco Petrarca’s Canzoniere [Editor].



the Eternal Father in his infinite justice finds a happy man on the face of the earth, he immediately declares him in flagrante delicto of a violation of the laws of nature: ‘Will be prosecuted!’20 And I was punished, in my excessively long walks and the excessively rapid change of climate, with a fierce lumbago, which for some days kept me fastened a sort of highchair, unable to photograph the Todas, to conduct research on skulls, to work. I must content myself with taking notes on the rare and valuable works I have borrowed from the Reading Room of Ootacamund, to which I have subscribed. […] Chapter 7 A Brief Account of the Todas and Their Neighbours – The Irulas – The Kurumbas – The Kotas – The Badagas To the Todas I shall be dedicating an illustrated monograph based on the portraits of them that I made from life, but permit me here to sketch some outlines of them which may serve to illustrate my voyage. The Todas live in the Nilgiris, scattered over a vast mountainous territory surrounded by the Kotas, the Kurumbas, the Irulas, the Badagas,21 and many Hindus who settled in that country after the English made it the most important sanatorium22 of Southern India. According to the revised and corrected census of 15 November 1871, they number 683, distributed as follows: Todanad 507 Peranganad 105 Mekanad 33 Ootacamund 38 The Todas are divided into two classes or castes, which cannot be joined in marriage, and are the Devalyal and the Tarserzhal. The first class claims to represent, more or less, the Brahmans, and consists of the

20 In English in the original text [Translator]. 21 Various Nilgiris tribes [Editor]. 22 Because of its temperate climate and rich vegetation, the Nilgiris district became a sanatorium for convalescing British troops beginning in the 1820s [Editor].


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Peiki Clan; the second is subdivided into the four categories of the Pekkan, Kuttan, Kenna, and Toda. Their hardiness, their noble bearing, their very handsome features have won them comparison with the ancient Romans, but surely what has greatly contributed to this false analogy is simply the mantle, their only article of outer dress, with which they drape themselves, indeed, with singular majesty. There is also among them a quite Semitic type, some of whom could easily serve as excellent models for biblical patriarchs. They have thick, jet-black hair, flowing black beards, thick eyebrows, aquiline, often rabbinical, noses, large black eyes, fine mouths with very large lips, splendid teeth, chins neither receding nor overprominent. The colour of their skin is like that of high-roasted chocolate, and I cannot concur with Shortt23 in calling it a dull copper hue. The measuring of their heads has yielded to me the following results: Average cephalic index24 of men 75.20 Minimum 724 Maximum 794 Average cephalic index of women 77.17 Minimum 747 Maximum 791 Average index for both sexes 76.18 Average height of men 1,679 mm Minimum 1,543 mm Maximum 1,768 mm Average height of women 1,570 mm Minimum 1,485 mm Maximum 1,671 mm The Toda villages are called mund or mott and for the most part are made up of five distinct buildings, three serving as habitations, one as 23 John Shortt, an ethnologist, who provided important information on the Todas’ bodily features in An Account of the Tribes of the Nilgiris (Madras, 1868) [Editor]. 24 The ratio of the maximum width of the head to its maximum length, multiplied by 100. This parameter was first introduced by the Swedish anatomist Anders Retzius in the mid-nineteenth century, for the racial classification of ancestral populations. Its usefulness was disputed in the early twentieth century by Franz Boas [Editor].



a dairy and temple, and another as a pen for the calves during the night. Their houses are made of bamboo, rattan, and sod, meshed together so tightly as to shut out the least ray of light, the least air bubble. When they have closed the tiny door from within with a real square cork, they are sealed up as though in a box. The houses are 10 feet high, 18 feet long, and 9 feet wide. The door is 32 inches high and 18 inches wide, so that one can enter only by slithering along the ground like a snake. Around the houses there is a stone wall with a narrow entrance, and a gap between house and wall 2 to 3 feet high, with a space of 13 feet by 10 feet. The facade is coloured with coats of red and black. The inside of the house is 8 to 15 square feet, and only at the centre can a man stand up. It is divided into two parts, a lower one, where you find the fireplace, a few copper and bamboo vessels, the pestle for grinding the rice and other grains, and a hole in the ground, which is the mortar. The upper part, rising 2 feet above the lower, is the bed, and presents only some buffalo and deer hides: there, ten or twelve people of both sexes and of all ages sleep together. The inhabitants of a mund are generally relatives and are considered one family. Each family may possess two or three mund in various regions of the mountain, to which they will periodically repair in order to graze their buffalo herds, which are almost their sole wealth, their treasure, the first object of their affections, if not their adoration. The shepherd of the mund is also a priest. He milks the she-buffalo mornings and evenings during the months of monsoon, and in the other months only in the morning. The milk is kept in a dairy which only the priest, or pujari, may enter. Every family has a recognized head, in the case of whose death the older son almost always succeeds him. The Todas are a pastoral people who live only on buffalo milk, honey, and gudu, or a grain tribute paid to them by the Badaga and Kota peoples as rent for land, which is considered the Todas’ ancient and legitimate property. They disdain work, are proud, and laugh often and heartily even at the Europeans. Inheritance is divided equally among the sons; the house goes to the younger son, whose obligation it is to provide for the sustenance of the women of the house.


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The Todas, up until recent years, were polyandrous, but now, with infanticide of their newborn girls strictly forbidden by the English, they are becoming monogamous, and I have known some among them to have confessed to being polygamous. The women embroider red and turquoise into their white mantles, which are made of cotton they buy from their neighbours, they tend to the kitchen and fetch the water. The men take care of the firewood and raise the livestock. Here are some names the Todas take: Men’s Names Kevi: sacred bell of the buffalo Pernal: great man Narikut: jackal’s son Ponkut: son of gold Tshinkut: idem Padrithzh: with God who dwells on the mountain Kedalven: man of the funeral Alven: man Beltaven: like silver Kirneli: small on Women’s Names Kathaveli: silver coin Darzthinir: jewel splinter Tshinab: golden Berzth: ?[sic] Depbili: silver ring Piltimuruga: white earring Piltzaras: white ring Takem: doctor (because she was cured by a European doctor, shortly after birth) Pondshilkammi: little golden bell worn at the ankle



The Todas dress in a large white cloak or mantle, and go about barefoot and bareheaded. Only recently have some adopted the Hindu turban. The women wear huge silver earrings, extremely heavy bronze bracelets, and other lighter, more ornate silver ones, and wear rings in various shapes. They tattoo the neck and arms in blue, simple, elegant designs. They burn their dead like the Hindus, sacrificing buffaloes during the funeral they call the green one, and they let their neighbours the Kotas eat the flesh of the sacrificed animals. They hold a second funeral, which they call the dry one, and which once they would always solemnize two or three months after the first. Today, however, to spare the buffaloes that must be killed on that occasion, they wait at least a year and thus mourn many dead at one time. For the dry funeral they save fragments of the cremated skull and a tuft of hair and offer these once more to the pyre, after dousing them in the blood of the slaughtered buffaloes. On this occasion, various objects which belonged to the deceased are also burned, together with a flute or a kind of bow and arrow and another sort of buffalo horns. These are sacred symbols and nothing more, since the Todas no longer use bows and arrows and have no weapon but a large, high staff with which they kill the buffaloes in their two funerals. In the dry funeral they also perform a sacred dance, in which anywhere from twenty to fifty men take part. It is difficult to gain an accurate sense of the religion of the Todas. They recognize the existence of various divinities, and perhaps their Usuru Swami is also a supreme deity. They have neither idolatry nor fetishism, and offer their gods neither human nor animal sacrifices. They believe in an afterlife, but have no clear ideas about it, unsure if it is only the soul that passes beyond death or whether the body also accompanies it. The Todas’ place of origin is still uncertain. Marshall, who lived among them a long time and studied them with loving exactitude, thinks it fairly likely that their ancestors lived in the low hills between the Canarese and Tamil districts, in the direction of Hasanur, and that they emigrated from there, breaking up into two different groups. One of them headed northward, to Kollegal, and the other settled in the


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Nilgiris. Metz25 says they came from Kaligal, and they themselves, when questioned on their origin, reply that they have always lived in the same country. What is certain is that they have always had a relation with the west coast of India, as the ornaments of their women’s face-powdering prove. The first reports about the Todas, according to Breeks, are found in the journal of the archbishop of Goa, Aleixo de Menezes (Coimbra, 1606). At the Synod of Udiamparur in the State of Chichin held by the same archbishop in 1599, you have information about a Christian people that inhabited an area called Tadamala that had lost its religious beliefs; so it was decided to send certain priests to visit it, including Iacomo Ferreiro. In the account he left of his voyage, he describes the Todas, but says he has found no record among them of Christian faith. They said their fathers had come from the East. The Todas are discussed also in the Viaggio alle Indie Orientali by Padre F. Vincenzo Maria di Santa Caterina da Siena, procurer-general of the Barefoot Carmelites (Rome, 1672; Venice, 1683). This father made his voyage in 1657, but gathered notes on the coast. This is what he says: ‘The Todri [sic], a small tribe of a rather light-skinned [sic] people, live on the mountains behind Ponane, in the Kingdom of Zamorin, and pray to the buffaloes on which they live. They select the oldest cows and hang on them a little bell, which suffices as a means of adoring them. They allow the buffaloes to wander at will and also to graze in the fields, and everyone considers himself fortunate to eat something that belongs to them. Although the buffaloes are often killed by tigers, the people do not cease on that account to adore them.’ All ethnologists classify the Todas among the Dravidian races, but let me repeat what I have said elsewhere, that we must throw out the concept of a Dravidian race. Dravidian languages exist, but not races, and the philological criterion, as in many other cases, adopted as the sole classificatory criterion for peoples, has led to the gravest errors. The

25 Friedrich Metz, a Swiss missionary considered the only Westerner to speak the Toda tongue at the time. He was the author of various studies on the Todas’ vocabulary and on other Nilgiris populations, resulting from over twenty years spent among them. He also assisted Marshall in his research on the Todas [Editor].



Todas, of Semitic type, speak Dravidian languages, as do the Kotas, as Aryan as the finest European, the athletic coolies of Madras, and the Malaysian-type people of the Malabar coast. For this reason, must we say that men this diverse in skull formation, physiognomy, indeed, all their anatomical characteristics belong to a single race? By that logic one would have to assert that all humans on the face of the earth belong to one race and are but varieties of Linnaeus’s Homo sapiens. Bold as this assertion will sound, for me there are no distinct, well-defined races such as the Dravidians, just as Semites and Aryans do not exist, and it would be wise to erase these distinctions, which in their philological baptism suggest an ancient error, one imposed with the full force of an indisputable, irrevocable tradition on anthropology and ethnology. […] And these Todas, so splendid, so hale, so happy, what will become of them? What will become of their neighbours? They will vanish, intermingling with races close to them. Their individuality pales by the day. With their infanticide hindered, and their prosperity increased, they will gradually become monogamous, perhaps also polygamous. They already wear the turban: soon they will be finding trousers and jacket more comfortable. Perhaps they will also become Christians: then they will cross-breed with Hindus, with Muslims, with Eurasians, and their blood will be lost in the great ocean of the human family. A traveller visiting the south of India two or three centuries hence will glimpse, here and there, some Toda physiognomy, the ancestral glimmer of a lost, and quite ancient, form, and will say, ‘Look, here is a Toda, like one in those photographs by Breeks, Marshall, Mantegazza.’ Perhaps, too, nothing of these black patriarchs I have so lovingly studied will appear again. In the ocean all drops look alike, whether they have come from the glaciers of the Faulhorn or Kanchanyanga, from the forests of Cotopaxi or New Zealand. If all those drops were to tell their stories, they would give us the greatest poem the world would ever know, they would give us the history of the living and the dead, from the tears of a dying man to the dewdrop gathered at dawn from amid the rosepetals: but all those drops sunk into the great seabed fall asleep or murmur a single language, telling us that from the microcosm of an atom to


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the macrocosm of the universe, existences and forces, actions and reactions war and are reconciled, recuperate the small in the great, preparing for the morrow’s struggles in a moment of respite, while human shades flit across the horizon, like fog dissipated by the rising sun. Chapter 9 [Darjeeling –] The Kanchanyanga – [The Market and the Purchase of a Chonga –] The Puhari – A Trip to the Bhootea Bustee – [My Portrait among the Clouds –] The Himalaya and the Alps – A Ride to Runjit – [A Hand-to-Hand Fight with a Bootia Girl – Master Partridge – My Occupations in Sikkim –] The Wandering Merchants […] 19 February, 7:45 a.m. For a half-hour I have been on a hillock behind my bungalow, seated upon a gleaming mica schist. The ground is silvered with hoarfrost, and the grass bare. Facing me is Kanchanyanga,26 which I am seeing for the first time. It is the second, or we might say the foremost, mountain in the world, since Everest is only somewhat higher. It is the finest thing in creation; I would not place a starry sky or stormy sea beside it; the sky we see from the time we are babes, and the sea in its fury is always so convulsive. Here, though, I have before me force without struggle, grandeur without pride. I saw it at 6:45, on climbing over the edge of a hillock. Behold it, calm, serene, stretching east to west its boundless arms bristling with silver tips and glaciers. Beneath the snows, light, fleecy clouds knit for it a sort of cravat, farther down they weave it a garment, then its whole body plunges into a sea of thick, shapeless clouds. Who can ever count the peaks that the great giant Himalaya commands? To the right they stand out, high and hardy, then lower and lower fade out in a fine, jagged line. I am dumbfounded, and even if I were not alone would still be speechless. I feel too small in the face of this overlarge scenery. I look for something more like me in its smallness.

26 Mount Kanchenjunga, a Himalayan peak now in Nepalese territory, the world’s thirdhighest mountain. Throughout the text we have retained Mantegazza’s spelling of this name, as of most other names [Editor].



Behind me a small Anglican church sleeps calmly in the peace of faith: about me all is silence, and even India’s eternal ravens, which for months now have deafened me with their clamour, have either flown far off or fallen silent. I rested my eyes on the little church, yet my eyes strayed back to Kanchanyanga, spellbound by that colossus. Just look at him there, he seems mirrored in the ocean of clouds at his feet, and gazes out with pleasure to come off so big, so handsome. Yes, he is king of all those clouds hugging and squeezing h