girl is merely obeying great Nature's inexorable law.
What price woman pays for her high office! for in this implicit,
unquestioning, and unconscious obedience to Nature she performs perhaps
her highest function. On all accounts, therefore, let us
Pity women! They obey so faithfully great Nature's law, and Nature so
often plays them false - so very false, and so very often. Besides,
The woman who gives her hand without her heart finds in time that she has
made a sorry bargain - a sorrier bargain, perhaps, that the woman who
gives her heart with out her hand. For,
Passionately as a man desires a woman, the passionately-desired woman
will in time discover that, unless she gives her heart with her hand, her
gift suffers depreciation. And
Unless a woman gives her heart, how can she give her aid? Surely,
Unless a man's armor is buckled on for the strife of life by feminine
sympathy, the fight is apt to be a sorry one at best; since
A woman's true business is to back her husband: if SHE leaves him in the
lurch, there is little hope for him. For of a truth
The strongest man is handicapped in the struggle for existence unless he
knows and feels that his wife is at his side - not pushing him so much as
leaning upon him.
Ein Jungling leibt ein Madchen,
Die hat einen Andern erwahlt;
Der Andre leibt eine Andre,
Und hat sich mit Dieser vermahlt.
Das Madchen heirathet aus Arger
Den ersten, besten Mann,
Der ihr in den Weg gelaufen;
Der Jungling ist ubel dran.
Es ist alte Geschichte,
Doch bleibt sie immer neu;
Und wem sie just passieret,
Dem bricht das Herz entzwei.
- Buch der Lieder, 39.
* * *
To simulate passion for an hour is possible; to simulate a life-long
love - that is hard. For
Love is a thing unique and unalterable (in spite of its various alloys);
clip the coin, and it will not pass current. For
Ideal matrimony is founded on a mono-metallic basis: no amount of silver
will be accepted for gold. And yet,
How often M loves and N accepts the love! Poor M! Also (in the long run),
That, indeed, is a happy marriage where M gives and wants just what N
wants and gives: where M and N just want each other. For
Give and take is the rule of a community of two, as it is of a community
of ten thousand;
The ideal (and probably impossible) industrial community is that in which
demand and supply are in exact equipoise. The same holds good in
In wedlock, a virtuous, has probably less force than a vicious, example.
That is to say,
A frivolous spouse is more apt to drag the couple down than is a serious
spouse apt to lead the couple up. And
Many a mate there is (both masculine and feminine) feels like a pack-mule
treading a precipitous pass.
* * *
Of every Audrey her Touchstone should be able proudly to say, "A poor. .
. . Thing, Sir, but mine own". In other words,
The homely violet deserves as tender cherishing as the rare exotic.
* * *
What portion of himself or herself any one complicated physical and
psychological human being really and truly 'conveys' to another by means
of the simple contract known as the "plighted troth" or that of a larger
deed called the called the "solemnization of matrimony", is a riddle
difficult of solution; and as to how much one may claim on the strength
of one or other of these indentures, that is a more difficult problem
In no amatorial contract, probably, is it possible to include or to
enumerate all the hereditaments, messuages, or appurtenances, involved.
How great so ever the community of interest, M and N remain for ever M
Is there not always something in the "eternal feminine" which cannot
quite coalesce with the ephemeral masculine? Probably,
Trust your wife with your purse, and seven times out of ten it will grow
* * *
Many a woman, by man, is accepted at her face value.
Many a man, by woman, is taken on trust. It is difficult to tell whether
More bad debts are contracted by giving credit than by taking at face
The promissory note of marriage is undated and unendorsed. But
Children act as collateral security.
* * *
How often a girl, even an affianced girl, accustomed to a multiplicity of
admirers, forgets the man of her ultimate choice she must then and there
set above all other claimants!
If the man the woman chooses for husband does not stand in her estimation
absolutely first and all other claimants nowhere there is bound sooner or
later to be trouble. For
No man will play second fiddle to any body or any thing; and
The realm amatory is a monarchial, not a republican, one. In all realms,
there must be a ruler, whether elected or hereditary.
Always a divided sway results in schism, whether in the family or in the
state. And although
Often enough the wife proves herself the more effective Sovereign, the
forms of monarchy must be conceded to the man, even though the executive
is left to the woman.
* * *
How often the only breast to which one can go on to "rain out the heavy
mist of tears" is the one inhibited!
* * *
Two wills are not so easily blended into one as that the task may be left
to Cupid. Yet,
Unless Cupid has a hand in blending two wills, it is bound to be a sorry
business at best.
Always and in all wedlock there comes a time when will conflicts with
If both wills are inflexible, one must break - or both will fly apart.
Love and tact will relieve many a strain. Though sometimes one discovers
Human eyes have a certain store of tears. It is not difficult to weep
them all away. However,
In the final rupture between man and wife, it is the children that turn
the scales. But, O ye young husbands and wives, remember that
Youth regards the whole world as its friend; age finds itself desolate in
the midst of friends. Wherefore,
O youth, cleave unto the wife of thy bosom; since
A loving wife is worth a multitude of friends.
Sweet are friends, and fame is sweet; but sweeter far a wifely heart
whereon to lay a weary head. But
Each married pair must solve its own difficulties as best it can. If any
advice were worth the offering, it would be this:
O ye Husbands, and O ye Wives, if not for your own sakes then for your
children's, lead a straight, clean, honorable life; any other sort of
life leads to despicability, to dismalness, to disaster. - Which only
means, after all, that
In the marriage relation, as in every relation - the social, the
industrial, the commercial, the political - it is conduct, it is
character, that counts, nothing else;
Beauty - Wealth - Culture - Grace - Wit - Intellect - Sprightliness -
Vivacity - Humor - these are much but they are simply naught, and less
than naught, when just this simple, single, yet insatiable thing called
Man wants to live amicably, affectionately, martially, with that simple,
single, but incomprehensible thing called Woman.
Character - Conduct - rule the world, the Matrimonial equally with the
* * *
XIV. On this Human Heart
"The heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked; who can
- Holy Writ
It does not take much to make two hearts beat faster than one.
* * *
The heart can deceive itself when it cannot deceive another. - Which
will be cold comfort to some lovers, though it may console others.
* * *
To admit a sacred visitant into the inner recesses of the human heart,
those recesses must be neat indeed. Remember, too, that you can
Never expect an angel to act as a charwoman; the sweeping must be done by
the owner. Lastly,
Unless each heart is permitted access to the other, their union is
fictitious, perhaps perilous. - Explain these tropes who can.
* * *
No man can tell to whom a woman's heart belongs; not even the man who
calls the woman "his". And
Let no man imagine that when he has won him a woman, he has won him a
woman's heart. Since,
Sometimes a woman will give her heart to one man and her troth to
Many a heart is hard to read - especially if it is a palimpsest. Indeed,
many are illegible to their owners. Nevertheless,
That the woman should not know her own heart (as so often happens)
terrifies the woman as much as it exasperates the man. Yet,
That must be a curious love that causes the heart to hesitate. And yet,
Many a man has debated for months whether to propose or not; and
sometimes a woman will accept on a Friday the man that she refused
point-blank of a Tuesday. But perhaps,
Where the heart hesitates, it is not so much a case of love as a case of
An overwhelming love leaves the heart of either doubt or debate. But
The human heart seems to be an anatomical engine of such intricate and
delicate mechanism that its workings are uncontrollable even by its
Is a constant heart as hard a thing to manufacture in the world of life
as is an immobile thing in the world of matter? And matter, so they say,
is immobile only at absolute zero - when bereft of even molecular motion:
a thing impossible to produce, and which to produce would require
incalculable pressure and almost incalculable cold.
(Is there no chemical formula for fixing the impression of the heart?)
Who really held Burns his heart in thrall, Nelly Fitzpatrick or Mary
Campbell or Ellison Begbie or Margaret Chalmers or Charlotte Hamilton or
Jenny Cruikshank or Anne Park or Jean Armour or Mrs. Whelpdale or Mrs.
Agnes McLehose? and who the heart of Goethe, - Gretchen or Kitty Shonkopf
or Frederica Brion or Charlotte Buff or Lily Shonemann or the Countess
Augusta or Charlotte van Stein or Bettina Brentano or Mariana von
Willemer - or his wife, Christina Vulpius?
However, whether it is a provision of Nature, or whether it is due to the
perversity of Man, probably the feminine heart is far more constant than
the masculine, and perhaps any one of Goethe's or of Burns his inamoratas
would have clung to him had he been faithful to her. And yet,
Would you have had Shelley stick to Harriet Westbrooke? and how shall one
interpret his feelings for Amelia Viviani? What would have happened if
Keats had lived and married Fanny Brawne - she who flirted with somebody
else while he was sick and did not even know that he was a poet? Yet she
was an inspiration to Keats, as Mary Godwin (and Amelia Viviani) were to
Shelley (1). Ought Byron to have said 'No' to Claire or Lady Caroline
Lamb or the Countess Guiccioli or any one of the many maids and matrons
that besieged his heart? Could anything have kept Rosina Wheeler and
Bulwer Lytton side by side, - Rosina Wheeler to whom, before marriage,
Lytton could find write, "Oh, my dear Rose! Where shall I find words to
express my love for you?" and to whom, after marriage, he wrote, "Madam,
The more I consider your conduct and your letter, the more unwarrantable
God in heaven! what a pitiful game it all is! And alas! as George Sand
says, "All this, you see, is a game that we are playing, but our heart
and life are the stakes, and that has an aspect which is not always
(1) See the Dedication of "The Revolt of Islam" (and see the
(2) Letter to Alfred de Musset.
* * *
Many a man's heart has been treated as a football. Yes; but many a
woman's heart has been treated as a shuttlecock.
* * *
Human beings there are - both men and women - out of whom, at a mere
touch, virtue seems to go: converse with them is stimulating; contact
enthralling. And yet,
Powerful as physical or as mental attraction may be, permanently to
retain the attracted object requires a profounder force. Perhaps,
Beauty and grace and brilliancy may attract; it is only something far
more deep-seated that retains. In other words,
Charm of body and mind may appeal to body and mind; only the heart
appeals to the heart. Those who know not this, and they are
Many, permit the heart to leak through the senses; with the result that,
when demands are made upon the heart, that cistern is found to have run
To philanderers and to flirts, when a great and true love comes, they do
not comprehend it, and they cannot appreciate it. Wherefore,
Would-be lover, keep thy heart intact until it be required of thee.
* * *
You need not imagine that, because you have once been permitted to see
some way down into a human heart, that you will necessarily ever again be
* * *
Hard words break no bones. But they often break hearts.
* * *
Drink is too often the refuge of the masculine, and a rich husband the
refuge of the feminine, broken heart.
* * *
Extreme youth thinks the world is a toyshop - where anything may be had
for the asking; old age regards it as a museum - where nothing may be
* * *
No heart, under repeated temperings, can remain forever keen. And
As a little body sometimes has a very big pain; so an aching heart
wonders that it can bear so much. And
What takes place in the quiet deeps of a troubled heart, who shall know?
* * *
The way to the heart is not through the head:
Between heart and heart, there are many channels. But three are in
universal use: the eyes, the lips, and the finger-tips. Now the
greatest of these is the eyes.
* * *
The masculine heart will never wholly understand the feminine, nor the
feminine the masculine. (O the pity o' it!) And yet, after all,
The human heart is much more the same, whether it beats under a cuirass
or under a corset.
Between the masculine heart and the feminine, perfect frankness is
perhaps of questionable import. But why? It is difficult to say.
The aspirations and desires of the human heart are infinite and
unappeasable. To attempt to formulate them is to frustrate them. For
It is as impossible for any two human hearts, as it is impossible for
any two material things, to occupy the same space. Especially when we
Between the masculine heart and the feminine is a great gulf fixed. Nay,
From youth to age, each human heart seems unwittingly to build about
itself a high and ever higher-growing wall, impenetrable, indelapidable,
not to be scaled by the look or speech or gesture.
Never can heart coalesce with heart. And yet
The absolute and intimate coalescence of heart with heart - is not this,
after all, the consummation that every lover seeks? To attempt that
consummation by mere speech, it is this that is of questionable import.
Between heart and heart, speech is the paltriest of channels.
What a thin - yet what an invisible and impenetrable - film separates
those two worlds: the one, that of the visible, audible, and tangible,
the world of chatter and laughter, of convention, often of make-believe;
and the other, the world of deep and voiceless emotions, of the feelings
which know not how to give themselves utterance, of affections which
crave so much and are so impotent to say or to seek what they crave! It
is like a layer of ice separating the hidden and soundless deeps from the
aerial world of noise and motion. - What would not one heart give to
break the icy crust and see and know what was really passing in another?
- And how often we drown if we do break through!
The isolation of the individual human heart is complete. It is the most
pathetic past in the universe, and it is that against which the
individual human heart rebels most.
There must be some profound and cosmic problem underlying this fact which
no philosophy - and no religion - can solve. That it is pathetic seems
to prove it temporary, earthly, a matter of time and space; but, when
will the individual human heart coalesce with the Heart of the Universe -
which, perhaps, is the goal of all Life? For
It may be that these little terrestrial human individuals which we call
men and women are after all only tiny and temporary centers of conscious
activity in an ocean of infinite consciousness; as atoms are but tiny and
temporary centers of energy in an ocean of infinite ether. Could we see
the sum total of Supreme and Infinite Consciousness at a glance, perhaps
individual men and women would dissolve into a mighty unity, could see
and comprehend the whole of the luminiferous ether. Well, perhaps
Love is the only known means by which the individual heart can make any
expansion whatsoever beyond its own bounds. Yet, alas!
Nothing seems to break down the barriers of sense. The human heart beats
its ineffectual wings in vain against the walls of its fleshly
tabernacle. Will nothing unite the Boy and the Girl? Will nothing bring
the Man and the Woman really together? Yet the Boy thinks that, were the
Girl wholly his, he and she would be happy; and the Man thinks that, were
the Woman and he to share every thought and every emotion, he and she
would want naught else. Is the amalgamation impossible? Is the
coalescence of thought and feeling outside the bounds of human
possibility? What, then, impels mankind to crave it, to attempt it, to
sacrifice so much for it? - There is a cosmic puzzle here with which nor
philosophy nor psychology nor religion has yet attempted to grapple.
After all, pitiful as it may be, lamentable as it may be, it is true, and
it must be said, that this human heart of ours goes through life hungry,
very hungry and unappeased. For what it hungers, what it has missed,
whereto it looks for sustenance, it itself does not know. Thus,
This feminine heart sighs without ceasing for because that other
masculine heart upon which it staked all its all, and an all that meant
so much, proved callous and indifferent;
That masculine heart ceases not to curse itself for resorting to such
hasty and violent methods by which to obtain for itself an ephemeral and
This feminine heart eats out its life with remorse for because it gave
itself so unthinkingly when asked; though of a survey it thought that
asking was a thing prompted by impulses as noble as they seemed divine;
That masculine heart, when the tidal wave of heated passion has subsided,
wonders how it was led captive by lures so deceptive and untried.
M regrets, and regrets in vain, that he did not await a purer and more
permanent passion; and
N chews for a life-time the cud of persistent remorse for an hour's
Ach! this human heart knows nothing of itself nor anything of its fellow
beating hearts. If it follows its bent, it is cracked; if it holds
itself in leash, it aches. If it calls reason to aid, its soaring hopes
are dashed, its romance spoiled, and it itself reduced to the level of a
machine that calculates. If it acts on impulse and, meeting a heart that
beats, so it thinks, in unison, unites itself with it, often enough that
other soon palpitates to a different rhythm, or itself cannot keep time,
and all things go awry.
Poor aching, beating, human heart! It cannot reason; it cannot count the
cost. To it seems that impulse, divine and mighty impulse, is the sole
law of the earth; in time it learns that impulse, the mightiest, the
divinest, though it may be law in heaven, is sometimes a veritable
nemesis on earth: it gives freely, gladly, without compunction; it finds
the gift rewarded by consequences too pitiful for tears.
Alas, this human heart! Can no one advise it Is there no advice will help
it? Must it always go wrong, and always suffer? - Well,
- If one loves, one dare not reason; if one reasons, it is difficult to
* * *
There seems to be something cosmic, something transcending the bounds of
the visible and tangible universe, in the desires and cravings of this
same human heart; this little human heart beating blindly beneath a
waistcoat or a blouse. Its owner is little bigger than a beetle or an
ant, and the habitat of that owner is a speck in space; a pygmy in
comparison with Sirius or Arcturus, and invisible from the
ultra-telescopic confines of vision.
What it makes the desires and cravings of this human heart more
important, more importunate, to its owner than the measuring of the
vastest space? Why is it that the longings, the hopes, the
disappointments, the desperate aspirations, and the passionate loves of
little human hearts should cause to their possessors such prepotent
commotions, such poignant qualms? Rigel and Betelgeuse and Algol rush
through space, and about them probably circle numerous planets inhabited
by countless and curious beings, each and all, perhaps, possessing hearts
as perturbable as our own. And yet, if our own little earthly Jack
cannot get our own little earthly Jill, what cares Jack what happens to
Vega or Capella or to the great nebula in Orion? Jack wants Jill; and
that want is to Jack the only thing in the sidereal heavens that matters.
The curious and perhaps semi-comical but wholly-pathetic thing about the
whole matter is this: that though undoubtedly our little planet is part
of and has a place in this great sidereal universe, and consequently all
our Jacks and Jills are related to all the Jacks and Jills everywhere
else, yet each little human heart behaves as it were the only heart in
the sum-total of created things: if it enjoys, it calls upon all that is,
to congratulate it; if it suffers, it cries aloud to high heaven to
avenge its wrongs: it comports itself as if it and it alone were the only
sensitive things in existence. - That is curious. That it wrongs may
have been wrought by itself; that is fate may have been determined in the
reign of Chaos and Old Night, or ere even cosmic nebulae were born, it
does not dream: if Jill is indifferent or Jack morose, - either is enough
to cause Jack or Jill to curse God and die. Is there some archetypal and
arcanal secret in this the extreme, the supernal egoism of the human
Of all of which, what is the moral? - Humph! Frankly, I do not know what
is the moral. Only this I see: that each little heart creates its own
little universe: the bee's, the that of its hive and the fields; man's,
that of his earth and the stars. What may be above or beyond the stars,
man no more knows than the bee knows what is beyond the fields. The
heart - be it man's or a bee's - is the centre of its self-made sphere.
Some day, perhaps, man's sphere will extend as far beyond the stars as
today it extends beyond the fields. Then - who knows? - perhaps
unlimited senses and an uncircumcised intellect may find themselves
commensurate with this high-aspiring heart, and an emancipated and
ecstatic Jack unite with a congenial Jill.
That there is a Universe, is apparent; that it is one and complete, we
suppose; that there are in it Jacks and Jills, is indubitable; that these
Jacks and Jills crave mutual support, sympathy, love, friendship,
wifehood, sistership, companionship, brotherhood, is also indubitable.
If therefore the whole scheme of the Universe is not a farce, what does
this craving of Love for Lover mean? And yet,
It is quite impossible to conceive of a Universe of Love, in which all
the claims of Heart and Soul and Senses shall be eternally and infinitely
satisfied? Nevertheless, on this little earth, perhaps
Ill betides the heart that leans overmuch on another. For, alas!
Not even the entire immolation of one heart for another will satisfy that
other. - Indeed, indeed,
In this life, would one seek comfort and solace, one must seek it - in
one's own self, or in one's God. For
Only one of two things can comfort: To put the world under one's feet;
or, to keep a God over one's head: only
He who is "captain of his soul", or he who commits his soul to God, can
rise above fate.
There is a vacuum in every human heart. And the human heart abhors it as
much as nature.
What will fill this cardiac void no mortal to this moment has found out.
Art cries, "Beauty", and tries to depict it; Philosophy cries, "Truth,
and strives to define it; Religion cries, "Good", and does its best to
embody it; and numberless lesser voices in the wilderness cry, "Power",
or "Gold", or "Work", - which is a narcotic, or "Excitement", - which is
an intoxicant; and a many-toned changeful siren with sweetly-saddening
music cries, "Love". And one pursues a phantom, and another clasps a
shadow, and a third cloaks his eyes with a transparent veil, or steeps
his senses in floods that will not drown. - No, what the human heart
wants it does not know. And, what is more,
Pathetic problem amongst problems pathetic, often it puzzles this human
heart to distinguish between the things which it is right and proper to