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also; something subtle and penetrating escaped even from the folds of
her gown and from the line of her foot. Charles, as when they were first
married, thought her delicious and quite irresistible."

Up to this time this woman's beauty had consisted of her grace, her
elegance, and her clothes; finally she is shown to you without a veil
and you can say whether adultery has embellished her or not.

"'Take me away,' she cried, 'carry me off! Oh, I entreat you!'

"And she threw herself upon his mouth, as if to seize there the
unexpected consent it breathed forth in a kiss."

Here is a portrait, gentlemen, which M. Flaubert knows well how to draw.
How the eyes of this woman enlarge! Something ravishing expands around
her, and then her fall! Her beauty has never been so brilliant as the
next day after her fall and the days following. What the author shows
you is the poetry of adultery, and I ask you again whether these
lascivious pages do not express a profound immorality!

I come now to the second situation, which is the religious
reaction. Madame Bovary is very ill, is at death's door. She is brought
back to life, and her convalescence is made remarkable by a little
religious awakening.

"It was at this hour that Monsieur Bournisien came to see her. He
inquired after her health, gave her news, exhorted her to religion in a
coaxing little gossip that was not without its charm. The mere thought
of his cassock comforted her."

Finally, she goes to communion. I do not like much to meet these holy
things in a romance; but at least, when one speaks of them, he need not
travesty them by his language. Is there in this adulterous woman going
to communion anything of the repentant faith of a Magdalene? No, no; she
is always the same passionate woman, seeking illusions and seeking them
even among the most august and holy things.

"One day, when at the height of her illness, she had thought herself
dying, and had asked for the communion; and, while they were making the
preparations in her room for the sacrament, while they were turning the
night-table covered with sirups into an altar, and while Félicité was
strewing dahlia flowers on the floor, Emma felt some power passing over
her that freed her from her pains, from all perception, from all
feeling. Her body, relieved, no longer thought; another life was
beginning; it seemed to her that her being, mounting toward God, would
be annihilated in that love like a burning incense that melts into

In what tongue does one pray to God in language addressed to a lover in
the outpourings of adultery? Without doubt they will tell us it is local
colour, and excuse it on the ground that a vapourous, romantic woman
does nothing, even in religion, like anybody else. There is no local
colour which can excuse this mixture! Voluptuous one day, religious the
next, there is no woman, even in other countries, under the sky of Spain
or Italy, who murmurs to God the adulterous caresses which she gives her
lover. You can appreciate this language, gentlemen, and you will not
excuse adulterous words being introduced in any way into the sanctuary
of the Divinity!

This is the second situation. I now come to the third, which is a series
of adulteries.

After the religious transition, Madame Bovary is again ready to
fall. She goes to the theatre at Rouen. The play is _Lucia di
Lammermoor_. Emma returns to her old self.

"Ah! if in the freshness of her beauty, before the pollution of marriage
and the disillusions of adultery, she could have anchored her life upon
some great, strong heart, then virtue, tenderness, voluptuousness, and
duty blending, she would never have fallen from so high a happiness."

Seeing Lagardy upon the stage, she had a desire to run into his arms, to
take refuge in his strength, even as in the incarnation of love, and of
saying to him: "Take me, take me away, let us go! thine, thine, with
thee are all my ardour and all my dreams!"

Léon was with the Bovarys.

"He was standing behind her, leaning with his shoulder against the wall
of the box; now and again she felt herself shuddering beneath the hot
breath from his nostrils falling upon her hair."

You were spoken to just now of the pollution of marriage; then you are
shown adultery in all its poesy, in its ineffable seductions. I have
said that the expression should be modified to read: the disillusions of
marriage and the pollution of adultery. Very often when one is married,
in the place of happiness without clouds which one promises himself, he
finds but sacrifice and bitterness. The word disillusion can then be
used justifiably, that of pollution, never.

Léon and Emma have a rendezvous at the cathedral. They look around or
they do not, it makes no difference. They go out.

"A lad was playing about the close.

"'Go and get me a cab!'

"The child bounded off like a ball by the Rue Quartre-Vents; then they
were alone a few minutes, face to face, and a little embarrassed.

"'Ah! Léon! Really - I don't know - if I ought,' she whispered. Then with
a more serious air, 'Do you know, it is very improper?'

"'How so?' replied the clerk. 'It is done at Paris.'

"And that, as an irresistible argument, decided her."

We know now, gentlemen, that the fall did not take place in the cab.
Through a scruple which honors him, the editor of the _Revue de Paris_
has suppressed the passage of the fall in the cab. But if the _Revue_
lowered the blinds of the cab, it does allow us to penetrate into the
room where they found a rendezvous.

Emma wished to leave it, because she had given her word that she would
return that evening.

"Moreover, Charles expected her, and in her heart she felt already that
cowardly docility that is for some women at once the chastisement and
atonement of adultery."

Once upon the sidewalk, Léon continued to walk; she followed him as far
as the hotel; he mounted the stairs, opened the door and entered. What
an embrace! Words followed each other quickly after the kisses. They
told the disappointments of the week, their presentiments, their fears
about the letters; but now all was forgotten, and they were face to
face, with their laugh of voluptuousness and terms of endearment.

"The bed was large, of mahogany, in the shape of a boat. The curtains
were in red levantine, that hung from the ceiling and bulged out too
much towards the bell-shaped bed-side; and nothing in the world was so
lovely as her brown head and white skin standing out against this purple
colour, when, with a movement of shame, she crossed her bare arms,
hiding her face in her hands.

"The warm room, with its discreet carpet, its gay ornaments, and its
calm light, seemed made for the intimacies of passion."

We are told what happened in that room. Here is still a passage, very
important as a piece of lascivious painting:

"How they loved that dear room, so full of gaiety, despite of its rather
faded splendour! They always found the furniture in the same place, and
sometimes hairpins that she had forgotten the Thursday before under the
pedestal of the clock. They lunched by the fireside on a little round
table, inlaid with rosewood. Emma carved, put bits on his plate with
all sorts of coquettish ways, and she laughed with a sonorous and
libertine laugh when the froth of the champagne ran over from the glass
to the rings on her fingers. They were so completely lost in the
possession of each other that they thought themselves in their own
house, and that they would live there till death, like two spouses
eternally young. They said 'our room,' 'our carpet,' she even said 'my
slippers,' a gift of Léon's, a whim she had had. They were pink satin,
bordered with swansdown. When she sat on his knees, her leg, then too
short, hung in the air, and the dainty shoe, that had no back to it, was
held on only by the toes to her bare foot.

"He for the first time enjoyed the inexpressible delicacy of feminine
refinements. He had never met this grace of language, this reserve of
clothing, these poses of the weary dove. He admired the exaltation of
her soul and the lace on her petticoat. Besides, was she not 'a lady'
and a married woman - a real mistress, in fine?"

This, gentlemen, is a description which leaves nothing to be desired, I
hope, from the point of view of conviction. Here is another, or rather
here is the continuation of the same scene:

"She used some words which inflamed him, with some kisses which drew
forth his soul. Where had she learned these caresses almost immaterial,
so profound and evasive were they?"

Oh! I well understand, gentlemen, the disgust inspired in her by that
husband who wished to embrace her upon her return; I comprehend
admirably that after a rendezvous of this kind, she felt with horror at
night, "that man against her flesh stretched out asleep."

That is not all, for according to the last tableau that I cannot omit,
she came to be weary of her voluptuousness.

"She was constantly promising herself a profound felicity on her next
journey. Then she confessed to herself that she felt nothing
extraordinary. This disappointment quickly gave way to a new hope, and
Emma returned to him more inflamed, more eager than ever. She undressed
hastily, tearing off the thin laces of her corset that nestled around
her hips like a gliding snake. She went on tip-toe, barefooted, to see
once more that the door was closed; then, pale, serious, and without
speaking, with one movement she threw herself upon his breast with a
long shudder."

I notice here two things, gentlemen, an admirable picture, the product
of a talented hand, but an execrable picture from a moral point of
view. Yes, M. Flaubert knows how to embellish his paintings with all
the resources of art, but without the discretion of art. With him there
is no gauze, no veils, it is nature in all her nudity, in all her

Still another quotation:

"They knew one another too well for any of those surprises of possession
that increase its joys a hundred-fold. She was as sick of him as he was
weary of her. Emma found again in adultery all the platitudes of

The platitudes of marriage and the poetry of adultery! Sometimes it is
the pollution of marriage, sometimes the platitudes, but always the
poetry of adultery. These, gentlemen, are the situations which
M. Flaubert loves to paint, and which, unfortunately, he paints only too

I have related three scenes: the scene with Rodolphe, and you have seen
the fall in the forest, the glorification of adultery, and this woman
whose beauty became greater with this poesy. I have spoken of the
religious transition, and you saw there a prayer imprinted with
adulterous language. I have spoken of the second fall, I have unrolled
before you the scenes which took place with Léon. I have shown you the
scene of the cab - suppressed - and I have shown you the picture of the
room and the bed. Now that we believe your convictions are formed, we
come to the last scene, - that of the punishment.

Numerous excisions have been made, it would appear, by the _Revue de
Paris_. Here are the terms in which M. Flaubert complains of it:

"Some consideration which I do not appreciate has led the _Revue de
Paris_ to suppress the number of December 1st. Its scruples being
revived on the occasion of the present number, it has seen fit to cut
out still more passages. In consequence, I wish to deny all
responsibility in the lines which follow; the reader is informed that he
sees only fragments and not the complete work."

Let us pass, then, over these fragments and come to the death. She
poisons herself. She poisons herself, why? Ah! it is a very little
thing, is death, she thinks; I am going to fall asleep and all will be
finished. Then, without remorse, without an avowal, without a tear of
repentance over this suicide which is brought about by adulteries in the
night watches, she goes to receive the sacrament for the dying. Why the
sacrament, since in her last thought she is going to annihilation? Why,
when there is not a tear, not a sigh of the Magdalene over her crime of
infidelity, her suicide, or her adulteries?

After this scene comes that of extreme unction. These are holy and
sacred words for all. It is with these words that our ancestors have
fallen asleep, our fathers and our relatives, and it is with them that
one day our children will see us sleep. When one wishes to make use of
them, it should be done with exactness; it is not necessary, at least to
accompany them with the voluptuous image of a past life.

You know how the priest makes the holy unctions upon the forehead, the
ears, upon the mouth, the feet, pronouncing at the same time the
liturgical phrases: _quidquam per pedes, per auras, per pectus_, etc.,
always following with the words _misericordia_ ... sin on one side and
pity on the other. These holy, sacred words should be reproduced
exactly; and if they cannot be reproduced exactly, at least nothing
voluptuous should be put with them.

"She turned her face slowly and seemed filled with joy on seeing
suddenly the violet stole, no doubt finding again, in the midst of a
temporary lull in her pain, the lost voluptuousness of her first
mystical transports, with the visions of eternal beatitude that were

"The priest rose to take the crucifix; then she stretched forward her
neck as one who is athirst, and gluing her lips to the body of the
Man-God, she pressed upon it with all her expiring strength the fullest
kiss of love that she had ever given. Then he recited the _Misereatur_
and the _Indulgentiam_, dipped his right thumb in the oil and began to
give extreme unction. First, upon the eyes, that had so coveted all
worldly pomp; then upon the nostrils, that had been greedy of the warm
breeze and amorous odours; then upon the mouth that had uttered lies,
that had been curled with pride and cried out in lewdness; then upon the
hands, that had delighted in sensual touches; and finally upon the soles
of the feet, so swift of yore, when she was running to satisfy her
desires, and that would now walk no more."

Now, in the prayers for the dying which the priest recites, at the end
or at the close of each verse occur these words: "Christian soul, go out
to a higher region." They are murmured at the moment when the last
breath of the dying escapes from his lips. The priest recites, etc.

"As the death-rattle became stronger the priest prayed faster; his
prayers mingled with the stifled sobs of Bovary, and sometimes all
seemed lost in the muffled murmur of the Latin syllables that tolled
like a passing-bell."

After the fashion of alternating these words, the author has tried to
make for them a sort of reply. He puts upon the sidewalk a blind man who
intones a song of which the profane words are a kind of response to the
prayers for the dying.

"Suddenly on the pavement was heard a loud noise of clogs and the
clattering of a stick; and a voice rose - a raucous voice - that sang -

"'Maids in the warmth of a summer day
Dream of love and of love alway.
The wind is strong this summer day,
Her petticoat has flown away.'"

This is the moment when Madame Bovary dies.

Thus we have here the picture: on one side the priest reciting the
prayers for the dying; on the other the hand-organ player who excites
from the dying woman

"an atrocious, frantic, despairing laugh, thinking she saw the hideous
face of the poor wretch that stood out against the eternal night like a
menace.... She fell back upon the mattress in a convulsion. They all
drew near. She was dead."

And then later, when the body is cold, above all should the cadaver,
which the soul has just left, be respected. When the husband is there
on his knees, weeping for his wife, when he extends the shroud over her,
any other would have stopped, but M. Flaubert makes a final stroke with
his brush:

"The sheet sank in from her breast to her knees, and then rose at the
tips of her toes."

This the scene of death. I have abridged it and have grouped it after a
fashion. It is now for you to judge and determine whether there is a
mixture of the sacred and the profane in it, or rather, a mixture of the
sacred and the voluptuous.

I have related the romance, I have brought a charge against it and,
permit me to say, against the kind of art that M. Flaubert cultivates,
the kind that is realistic but not discreet. You shall see to what
limits he has gone. A copy of the _Artiste_ lately came to my hand; it
is not for us to make accusations against the _Artiste_, but to learn to
what school M. Flaubert belongs, and I ask your permission to read you
some lines, which have nothing to do with M. Flaubert's prosecuted book,
only to show to what a degree he excels in this kind of painting. He
loves to paint temptations, especially the temptations to which Madame
Bovary succumbed. Well, I find a model of its kind in the lines to
follow, from the _Artiste_, for the month of January, signed _Gustave
Flaubert_, upon the temptation of Saint Anthony. Heaven knows it is a
subject upon which many things might be said, but I do not believe it
possible to give more vivacity to the image, stronger lines to the
picture. Apollonius says to Saint Anthony: -

"What is knowledge? What is glory? Wouldst thou refresh thine eyes
under the humid jasmines? Wouldst thou feel thy body sink itself, as in
a wave, in the sweet flesh of swooning women?"

Ah! well! here is the same colour, the same strength of the brush, the
same vivacity of expression!

To resume. I have analyzed the book, I have related the story without
forgetting a page, I have then made the charge, which was the second
part of my task. I have exhibited some of the portraits, I have shown
Madame Bovary in repose, by the side of her husband, in contact with
those whom she could not tempt, and I have pointed out to you the
lascivious colour of that portrait! Then I have analyzed some of the
great scenes: the fall with Rodolphe, the religious transition, the
meetings with Léon, the death scene, and in all this I find the double
count of offense against public morals and against religion.

I had need of but two scenes: Do you not see the moral outrage in the
fall with Rodolphe? Do you not see the glorification of adultery in it?
And then, the religious outrage, which I find in the drawing of the
confession, in the religious transition, and finally, the scene of

You have before you, gentlemen, three guilty ones: M. Flaubert, the
author of the book, M. Pichat who accepted it, and M. Pillet, who
printed it. In this matter, there is no misdemeanor without publicity,
and all those concerned in the publicity should be equally blamed. But
we hasten to say that the manager of the _Revue_ and the printer are
only in the second rank. The principal offender is the author,
M. Flaubert; M. Flaubert who admonished by a note from the editor,
protested against the suppression which had been made in his work. After
him comes M. Laurent Pichat, from whom you will demand a reason, not
for the suppression which he has made, but of that which he should have
made; and finally comes the printer, who is a sentinel at the door of
scandal. M. Pillet, besides, is an honourable man against whom I have
nothing to say. We ask but one thing of you, which is to apply the law
to him. Printers should read; when they do not read or have read what
they print, it is at their own risk and peril. Printers are not
machines; they have a privilege, they take an oath, they are in a
special situation and they are responsible. Again, they are, if you
will permit the expression, like an advanced guard; if they allow a
misdemeanor to pass, it is like allowing the enemy to pass. Make the
penalty as mild as you will for Pillet, be as indulgent as you like with
the manager of the _Revue_; but as for Flaubert, the principal culprit,
it is for him you should reserve your severities!

My task is accomplished; we await the objections on the part of the
defense. The general objection will be: But after all the romance is
moral on the whole, for is not adultery punished?

To this objection there are two replies: I believe that in a
hypothetically moral work, a moral conclusion cannot be reached by the
presentation of the lascivious details we find here. And again I say:
that the work is not moral at the foundation.

I say, gentlemen, that lascivious details cannot be covered by a moral
conclusion, otherwise one could relate all the orgies imaginable,
describe all the turpitude of a public woman, making her die in a
charity bed of a hospital. It would be allowable to study and depict
all the poses of lasciviousness. It would be going against all the
rules of good sense. It would place the poison at the door of all, the
remedy at the doors of few, if there were any remedy. Who are the ones
to read M. Flaubert's romance? Are they men who are interested in
political or social economy? No! The light pages of Madame Bovary fall
into hands still lighter, into the hands of young girls, sometimes of
married women. Well, when the imagination has been seduced, when this
seduction has fallen upon the heart, when the heart shall have told it
to the senses, do you believe that cold reason would have much power
against this seduction of sense and sentiment? And then, man should not
clothe himself too much in his power and his virtue; man has low
instincts and high ideas, and, with all, virtue is only the consequence
of an effort ofttimes laborious. Lascivious pictures have generally more
influence than cold reason. This is what I respond to that theory, that
is, as a first response; but I have a second.

I hold that the romance of _Madame Bovary_, from a philosophic point of
view, is not moral. Without doubt Madame Bovary died of poison; she
suffered much, it is true; but she died at her own time and in her own
way, not because she had committed adultery but because she wished to;
she died in all the prestige of her youth and beauty; she died after
having two lovers, leaving a husband who loved her, who adored her, who
found Rodolphe's portrait, his letters and Léon's, who read the letters
of a woman twice an adulteress, and who, after that, loved her still
more, even on the other side of the tomb. Who would condemn this woman
in the book? No one. Such is the conclusion. There is not in the book a
person who condemns her. If you can find one wise person, if you can
find one single principal virtue by which the adulteress is condemned, I
am wrong. But if in all the book there is not a person who makes her
bow her head, there is not an idea, a line, by virtue of which the
adulteress is scourged, it is I who am right, and the book is immoral!

Should it be in the name of conjugal honor that the book be condemned?
No, for conjugal honor is represented here by a devoted husband who,
after the death of his wife, meets Rodolphe and seeks to find upon the
face of the lover the features of the woman he loved. I ask you whether
you could stigmatize this woman in the name of conjugal honor when there
is not in the book a single word where the husband does not bow before
the adulteress?

Should it be in the name of public opinion? No, for public opinion is
personified in a grotesque being, in the Homais apothecary surrounded by
ridiculous persons whom this woman dominated.

Will you condemn it in the name of religious sentiment? No, for this
sentiment you see personified in the curate Bournisien, a priest as
grotesque as the apothecary, believing only in physical suffering, never
in moral, and little more than a materialist.

Will you condemn it in the name of the author's conscience? I know not
what the author thinks, but in chapter 10, the only philosophical one of
his book, I read the following:

"There is always after the death of any one a kind of stupefaction; so
difficult is it to grasp this advent of nothingness and to resign
ourselves to believe in it."

This is not a cry of unbelief, but it is at least a cry of
scepticism. Without doubt it is difficult to comprehend and believe it,
but why this stupefaction which manifest's itself at death? Why?
Because this surprise is something that is a mystery, because it is
difficult to comprehend and judge, although one must resign himself to
it. And as for me, I say that if death is the beginning of annihilation,
that if the devoted husband feels his love increase on learning of the
adulteries of his wife, that if opinion is represented by a grotesque
being, that if religious sentiment is represented by a ridiculous
priest, one person alone is right, and that is Emma Bovary, - Messalina

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