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JANUARY 27, 1933 


Few more important Works have been published of late 
years than Louis Proal's Passion and Criminality. It 
is a book that appeals at one and the same time to the 
specialist in Psychology, Ethics, Criminology and Insanity, 
and to the general reader. 

M. Proal is a well-known authority on all _, . , 
questions connected with Crime, its causes w . . 
and motives, its various forms and manifesta- * J[ 

tions, its frequency and distribution, and its *° 

proper punishment, and the author of other valuable and 
interesting works, throwing light on these vitally important 
subjects. He holds a high position in the legal profession 
in France, being one of the Presiding Judges at a French 
Court of Appeal, and having previously held very respon- 
sible official and judicial appointments in other parts of 
the Country, especially in the South. All this has afforded 
M. Proal unrivalled opportunities of observation ; and in- 
deed the most cursory glance through his books must show 
what an enormous mass of invaluable information he has 
gleaned from many different sources — from cases in which 
he has acted as Advocate or Prosecutor, or presided as 
Judge, from confidences made to him as Juge d'lnstruc- 
Han, from Reports of Criminal Trials, from Official Records 
of Suicides, etc., etc. Moreover, this wealth of detail is 
marshalled in the most admirable order, each argument 
adduced and each conclusion arrived at being supported 
by a series of apposite facts in illustration, the whole set 
forth in that clearly ordered and lucid style that seems the 
birthright of every educated Frenchman. 

Passion and Criminality is a truly wonder- . 

ful book. No doubt the reading is often sad lhe Boo « * s 
and painful, but it is never dull. No doubt true t0 Lt ' e ' 
the facts are often distressing and humiliating to our ideals 


of what humanity should be, and throw a lurid light on 
some of the social arrangements and the boasted civiliza- 
tion of modern Europe, but they are authentic. The 
impressfon is ever present of a writer of great original 
acumen and powers of observation, who is thoroughly 
acquainted with all aspects and intimacies of his subject 
— a subject of enthralling interest to all concerned with 
the progress of mankind, and one displaying some of the 
most curious and little realised secrets of the human mind 
in health and still more in disease. 

Nor is the Statistical side of M. Proal's 
or oo or i a b ours unimportant. Every Chapter teems 
vt ' with valuable information as to the frequency 

and distribution of Passional Crime and Suicide in France, 
and supplies quite indispensable data both for the student 
of contemporary French life, and for the Comparative 
Statistician who would bring into focus the social phe- 
nomena of France and those of other countries, in order 
to take a comprehensive view of the whole and arrive at 
trustworthy conclusions as to the general trend of social 
evolution for good or evil. This cannot but be of especial, 
and indeed paramount, interest to Englishmen at a moment 
when their Country is confronted with the same problem 
of a diminishing birth-rate and threatened stagnation of 
population, which has for twenty years past caused so 
much anxiety to French Politicians and Sociologists. 
The Author's Then a g a * n there is the literary side, 
Literarv Here M. Proal displays a wide and ex- 

Brilliancv tensive knowledge of the Literature of 
his native land, especially that of the 
great classical period of French poetry and prose, and 
again and again aptly illustrates facts and incidents of 
criminality and criminology by pertinent quotations from 
Corneille, Racine, and the rest Nor is his acquaintance 
with more modem writers deficient ; he mentions con- 
stantly and quotes freely from Chateaubriand, Lamartine, 
George Sand, Alfred de Musset, Théophile Gautier, and 
the like, not to mention Flaubert, Barbey d'Aurevilly, 

translator's foreword. iii 

Guy de Maupassant, Zola himself. At the same time 
our Author's own personal bias in favour of thé more 
correct and academical writers of the earlier period, as 
against the "morbid, anaemic, hysterical " — to use some 
of his own epithets — Novels, Plays and Poems of the 
Romantic School, is evident enough. All the Works 
originating in the impulse of the " Romantic " revival of 
1830 and onwards, he clearly regards as without ex- 
ception showing more or less manifest traces of nervous 
derangement and diseased mental conditions on the part 
of their authors. Any way the literary aspect of the book 
is far from being the least attractive and suggestive. 
M. Proal's discussion of Werther in particular and other 
books, such as Jean Jacques Rousseau's, of the same 
period and tendency, in their bearing on suicide, being 
profoundly interesting, and, indeed, a masterpiece of its 

As throwing light upon contemporary Meaning to 
society in France, its special circumstances ., p ,• , 
and peculiar dangers, and involved in these Re der 

conditions the future of the French Nation, 
apart altogether from the more general aspect of the Work 
as dealing with the Psychological, Ethical, Criminal, and 
other problems affecting mankind at large, Passion and 
Criminality cannot fail to be intensely fascinating to 
readers of the present day. In many respects France 
leads the van of progress in Europe ; and, to a large 
extent, other countries must look to her as the mirror 
reflecting their own future development in many directions 
of social change and evolution. She is their model in 
much that is excellent, their warning as to certain social 
perils to be avoided. 

From all points of view, Legal, Statistical, y, p ro hu ms 
Literary, Social, whether limited to France of Life 

or looked at more generally as affecting 
directly or indirectly all civilized nations, Passion and 
Criminality marks an epoch. It will be read with deep 
interest by students, while affording both amusement and 


instruction to all who care to be introduced to a wealth 
of curious information bearing on social life and problems, 
and a profusion of unexpected and often pathetic side- 
lights on the dark places of contemporary civilization in 
town and country among a neighbouring people. 


The study of Crime as determined by Passion is forced 
upon the attention of Moralist and Magistrate alike by the 
large number of victims, active and passive, it is responsible 
for from year to year. Love, which occupies so consider- 
able a place in Life and Literature, claims ever more and 
more importance in the Annals of Crime and the Statistics 
of Suicide. While Poets and Novelists extol the beauties 
and virtues of Love, it is the shame and despair and 
criminality incident to the same passion that Magistrates 
have every day occasion to note. What is it but Passion 
that drives so many men desperate, turns so many into 
madmen or murderers ? What else is it brings so many 
unfortunate and guilty beings to the Morgue, the Mad- 
house, and the Criminal Assize ? In Love's dramas, which 
may so easily become dramas of the Law Courts, we may 
say with Racine : 

" Partout du désespoir on rencontre l'image, 
On ne voit que des pleurs et l'on n'entend parler 
Que de troubles, d'horreurs, de sang prêt à couler." x 


If Poets do well to represent happy love under the 
lineaments of a young and lovely woman, full of life and 
joy, not less faithfully may Students of Crime portray 
unhappy love in the guise of a dread Fate holding the 
Shears, or a Fury with brandished sword in hand. In 
very deed Love makes many self-immolated victims, — by 
drowning and charcoal fumes, by the rope and the pistol. 
Love has ruined many a fine intellect and broken many a 
heart Moreover, where unhappy lovers do not resort to 

1 ' ' Everywhere we meet the image of despair ; naught is seen but tears, 
naught spoken of but grief and horror and blood about to flow." 


suicide, or go mad, or die of chagrin, it is no uncommon 
thing to see them kill the object of their affections. Who 
shall count the cups of poison, the dagger thrusts and 
revolver shots Love is responsible for? — who reckon up 
the vitriol thrown under its promptings and the nooses it 
has tied? 

It is no mere collection of crimes of passion I propose 
to compile ; my subject is the Psychology of the lover 
whom passion drives into crime, of the mistress whom 
desertion drives into despair, of the man whom jealousy or 
a mistaken sense of honour makes a murderer, or disap- 
pointed love a suicide. These studies do but sum up the 
long séries of observations I have made, both on the 
Bench and in my Chambers as a Juge d'instruction 
and Procureur de la République, where I have enjoyed 
so many opportunities of cross-questioning those accused 
of crimes arising from passion, of studying their character 
and the motives of their aberrations, of reading the 
documents left behind by suicides, or composed by 
murderers in their own defence. 

Not a few difficult problems of psychology and moral 
responsibility are involved in suicide and crime, the results 
of outbreaks of passion. How many questions must needs 
arise from the study of those emotions which lead so many 
thousands of men and women, young men and maidens, 
to madness, suicide and crime ! 

How comes it that affection may turn to hate, and 
lovers become the bitterest foes, — that the transition is so 
easy from love to loathing, from the transports of the 
most exalted tenderness to the frenzies of the most savage 
anger? How is it so fond a feeling may grow so cruel 
and lead to the commission of so many barbarous murders 
by poison and strangulation, and the infliction of such 
appalling wounds? Whence comes the cruelty of love 
and the ferocity of jealousy ? Why does the jealous lover 
strike the very woman he adores ? Why does he pierce 
with dagger thrusts the very bosom on which he has lain, 
and disfigure the very features he has just been covering 


with kisses ? Why does the woman whom her lover has 
deserted burn out the eyes that moved her soul to love, 
and send a bullet through the heart she was so fain but 
now to feel beating beneath her hand? How is it 
love may grow so venomous as to put knife and pistol 
into the hand of lovers and husbands, who after having 
sworn eternal affection, tear each other's eyes out at the 
domestic hearth, and in the very conjugal bed ? Why 
does this passion, capable as it is of producing heroes, so 
often manufacture only cowards and murderers ? 

To end our string of questions, why does love if unre- 
quited make people so unhappy they must needs kill 
themselves ? How is it that lovers, who might very well 
live together, prefer to die together ? 

Such are the chief psychological problems I propose to 
study. It appears to me to be an inquiry not devoid of 
utility to investigate why love, which should serve as the 
foundation of society and family life, so often becomes a 
malignant power, destructive alike of the family and of 

I hope further that this study of crime as determined by 
passion, indispensable as it is to the student of Morals and 
Criminality, may also be found interesting by the Critic of 
Literature, whose delight it is to verify in the great Tragic 
poets the exact portrayal of the passions of humanity. 
The object of the Stage being the entertainment of the 
spectator by an imitation of life and a mimic representa- 
tion of its passions, the depicting of Love, its aberrations 
and its crimes, is the main thing aimed at. There are few 
Tragedies that do not contain murders and suicides from 
love. In the Andromaque for instance there is a murder, that 
of Pyrrhus, and two suicides, those of Oreste and Hermione. 
In Bajazet there are three murders, — of Bajazet himself, of 
Roxane, and of Orcan, and a suicide, that of Atalide. It is 
a regular butchery. Most of the heroes of the Stage are 
really Criminal Court heroes. Literature copies Crime, 
— the crime of passionate outbreaks, just as Crime of the 
same type copies Literature. To ascertain therefore whether 


the literary portrayal of crime and passion is faithful or no, 
it is no idle task to compare the love-sick murderers of the 
boards with those that appear at the bar of the Assize 
Courts. While determining the Psychology of the " woman 
scorned," of the jealous lover and murderer, I intend to in- 
quire concurrently how far my judicial observations coincide 
with the characters of Hermione, Roxane, Phèdre, Médée, 
Cléopâtre, Oreste, Pyrrhus, Mithridate and other heroes of 
the great Classical Drama of France. 

It has been maintained by some that it is useless to look 
for psychological truth in Dramatic poetry : " Shall we 
never learn," writes M. Stapfer, "Philistines that we are, 
vain professors of Morals and History, to taste poetry in 
its pure state, in all its complete and unsophisticated ab- 
surdity ? " This Critic admires the poetry Corneille has put 
into the rôle of Cléopâtre, while holding at the same time 
that the character is false, and that no trace of human 
verity is to be found in the part. I am of a diametrically 
opposite opinion, and believe the chief beauty of Corneille's 
and Racine's plays to consist in the psychological veri- 
similitude of the characters they draw. 

In the course of the present study, I shall frequently 
have occasion to show that Corneille's psychology is no 
less acute and delicate than Racine's. Corneille is not 
only a Politician and a Philosopher, he is a Psychologist 
to boot, and one of the most perspicacious. He is stinted 
of his due meed of praise by such as are content to admire 
the vigour of his thought and the splendour of his verse, 
complaining the while of the coldness of his delineations of 
Love. Corneille possessed the heroic spirit, but he united 
with it the tenderest of hearts, and this tenderness he has 
instilled into his Tragedies. "What greater tenderness," 
says a good judge, La Bruyère, "can there be than that 
lavished in the Ctd, in Polyeucte and in the Horaces ? " 
The Critics are wrong, I maintain, and specially so M. 
Larroumet, in attributing to Racine exclusively the gift 
of portraying passionate love ; we find it in Corneille too, 
equally precise and equally faithful, and it may be, con- 


joined with an even more penetrating analysis. Racine is 
not invariably as soft and tender as they make out, and 
Corneille is more tender and more passionate than he is 
described. He married for love at a time when Racine 
contracted a union of mere convenience. The poet of 
reason and high heroism, he showed himself less reason- 
able than his rival, and succumbed to new passions at a 
mature age ; his head was ever ready to be turned by love. 
I shall show by means of numerous examples borrowed 
from some of the less well-known pieces of Corneille that 
every shade and delicacy, every refinement and subtlety, of 
Passion has been described by him with an admirable truth 
and precision unsurpassed by Racine himself. 

Those cries of love, anger and revenge that Corneille 
and Racine put in the mouths of their dramatis personœ are 
not mere "authors' stuff," but veritable exclamations of 
Mother Nature ; so true are they to life that I have often 
heard the very same in the mouths of persons accused of 
crimes of passion. By virtue of the resemblances I shall 
bring out between the dramas of Literature and those of 
the Law Courts, the fact will once more be made manifest 
that the first and highest quality of genius is psychological 
verisimilitude. After all that Commentators have written 
on the Drama of Corneille and Racine, I trust this new 
light thrown on them by the reports of the Criminal Courts 
will not be without its interest. It will be seen that simple 
Nature suggests to the desperate or jealous lover, to the 
forsaken mistress and the wronged husband, though en- 
tirely lacking in intellectual culture of any sort, cries of 
passion bearing an astonishing likeness to those of Her- 
mione, Médée, Roxane and Phèdre, of Oreste and Othello, 
in the plays. Their exclamations of grief and love bear a 
simpler, a less elegant form, it is true, but also not unfre- 
quently one impressed with a more striking and tragic 
note, from the very fact that they are not, as in plays and 
romances, overlaid with a flood of rhetorical embellishment. 
I shall quote numerous examples of this, all proving how 

untrue is the criticism of Schlegel on Racine, when he 


writes : " The essence of Racine's muse was gallantry ; the 
major part of his Tragedies were composed merely to de- 
pict loveable, and above all, loving women." The essence 
of Racine's muse was Love, which is ever the same at 
bottom among small and great alike ; his heroines are not 
invariably loveable and loving women such as Bérénice or 
Aricie ; some of them are fierce and passionate beings, a 
prey to all the pangs of love and jealousy, such as Her- 
mione, Roxane or Phèdre. 

But side by side with the Drama of Corneille and 
Racine, which is a school of Psychology, exists a Litera- 
ture of sentiment and the senses, which glorifying pas- 
sion, suicide and crime, its results, is a veritable school of 
sensuality, ever teaching the pernicious lesson that suicide 
and crime are justified as flowing from an overmastering 
emotion. I intend in the following pages to bring home 
the responsibility resting on this class of Literature by a 
record of the suicides and crimes, literary , romantic and 
naturalistic, due to its evil influence. 


Translator's Foreword 



The disease of Love : loss of sleep and appetite 

Melancholia, wasting maladies ; the Poet Millevoye's lost bride 

Loss of the power of work ..... 

Observations of Theocritus, Virgil, Goethe, Alfred de Musset 

Origin of the pains of disappointed Love : craving after union accord- 
ing to St Thomas, Bossuet .... 

Plato's myth : mankind androgynous .... 

A fixed idea, amorous possession .... 

Exclusiveness of Love, and indifference towards friends and relations 

Love's illusions : idealization of the beloved object, effects of concen 
trating the whole mind on one image . 

Despair of unhappy Love ..... 

Grief due to the breaking off or postponement of a contemplated 
marriage ...... 

Female suicides ...... 

Number of suicides due to passion .... 

Other consequences of disappointed Love : intemperance, dissipation 

Religious vocations determined by disappointments in Love . 

Cases of suicide to escape an unwelcome marriage 

Suicide of mistresses wishing but unable to regain their reputation by 
marriage ; suicide of courtesans 

Male suicides ; Love without respect .... 

Causes of Love's blindness ; Love at first sight 

Love of women for men unworthy of their affection 

Love of men for unattractive women .... 

The age for Love ...... 

Suicide of young men ; of grown men .... 

Premeditated and unpremeditated suicide 

Repeated attempts at suicide ..... 

Various means employed ..... 

Fashion as affecting the methods chosen 

Preoccupation with toilet displayed by women committing suicide 

Choice of place ...... 

Suicides from Love in the Country and in Paris . . 

Sentiments and opinions of Suicides and the writings they leave behind 

Physiological predispositions ...... 


















The pain of separation . 

Craving for reunion in the tomb 

Cleopatra, Abelard, Olinde, Romeo 

Preparations for double suicide 

Psychical condition of lovers . 

Double suicide of soldiers and their intended brides 

Double suicide provoked by postponement of a contemplated marriage 

Double suicide provoked by incomplete possession 

Double suicide provoked by the sense of honour 

Double suicide provoked by the opposition of relatives to a contem 

plated marriage ...... 

Suicide and suggestions leading to it . 

Double suicide of a married woman and her lover 

Double suicide of a married man and his mistress 

Instances of suicide suggested by the woman ... 

Instances of suicide suggested by the lover 

Murder from jealousy under the pretence of a double suicide . 

Causes of suggestion, liability to suggestion on the part of persons of 

nervous temperament . 
Suggestion of suicide between women 
Suggestion of suicide in alcoholic households, in households troubled 

by jealousy ...... 

Execution of a double suicide, part played by each of the lovers 
Cases of the lover's surviving ..... 

Premeditation in cases of double suicide 









Examples of Love and Hate combined .... 88' 

The Homicidal Venus ....... co- 
Selfishness of Love ....... 91 

Love and Hate of the jealous husband, of the deserted wife . 92 

An exception ........ 93 

Love suicidal and Love homicidal ..... 94 

The Cruelty of desire, Exasperation of wounded self-love . . 95 

Heroes and Heroines of Racine and Corneille ... 96 
Part played by self-love in the violence of working men deceived in 

Love ........ 98 

Calumny resorted to against the woman who rejects advances . 99- 

Pride and vindictiveness of women . . . . 100 

Explanations of Hate as incident to Love given by St Thomas, Pascal 

and Plato ....... 101 



Love and Hate as exemplified by Hermione, Oreste, Othello, Roxane, 

Médée, Pyrrhus . . . . 102 

Instances, of arising out of Love ..... 104 



The grief of abandonment ..... 

Desertion after promise of marriage .... 

Desertion after pregnancy of the girl seduced . 

Character of the woman who kills herself on desertion 

Criticism of the character of Dido as described by Virgil 

Character of the woman who kills her deceiver on desertion . 

Fury of a woman who has been deserted against her seducer who 

marries another woman .... 

Vengeance of women deserted during their pregnancy 
Corsican girl's revenge ..... 

Refinements of revenge ..... 

Female furies ....... 

Hatred of rivals takes the form of a longing to disfigure them 
Premeditation in revenge ..... 

Struggle between Hate and Love .... 

Schlegel refuted ...... 

Psychological verisimilitude of the Tragedies of Racine and Corneille 
Hesitations and changes of mind on the part of women preparing to 

exact vengeance ...... 

State of mind of avenging women, at the moment of committing murder, 

and afterwards ....... 






Characteristics of jealousy ..... 
Brutality of the jealous husband .... 

Cases where the wife forgives the jealous husband ; where she takes 

an aversion to him ..... 

Suicide of women to escape the violence of a jealous husband 
Causeless jealousy ...... 

Jealous husbands who doubt the paternity of their children 
Moral jealousy determining suicide .... 

Physical jealousy determining murder, mutilations 
Abelard's jealousy ...... 

Retrospective jealousy ...... 

Jealous husband and his threats of death, presentiments of the mur 

dered wife 
Jealousy in its paroxysm ..... 








Physiological condition of the criminal from jealousy at the moment of 

perpetration of his crime 
Physiological condition of the woman . 
Suicide of the murderer from jealousy : Othello, Orosmane, Hermione 
Cases where the idea of suicide precedes that of murder 
Pretended double suicides .... 
Jealousy between friends ; between father and son 
Feminine jealousy ..... 
Jealousy between lawful wife and mistress 
Jealousy of stepmothers .... 

Suicide of jealous women . . . . 

Women jealous of the friends, the books, the personal attractions of 

her husband ...... 

Jealousy -of women advancing in years 

Jealousy without love ...... 

A daughter's jealousy towards her mother, parricide . 
Jealousy of fathers having criminal relations with their daughters 
Climate as conditioning the violence of jealous passion in Provence ; 

in Italy ; . 

in Spain ; ..... 

in the East ..... 

Character modified by jealousy ... 

Number of crimes and offences due to jealousy 

Cases where such crimes are premeditated ; unpremeditated 

Attitude of mind before and after the commission of crimes of jealousy 






Increase of adultery in France . . . . .181 

Causes of adultery on the part of the wife : 

§ 1. Disproportion of age . . . . .183 

§ 2. Forced marriage ...... 187 

§ 3. Education disproportionate with the social position and 

education of the husband . . .190 

§ 4. Romantic sentimentalism . * 191 

§ 5. Platonic love .*.... 192 

§ 6. Ennui . . • . . . . . 195 

§ 7. Temperament ; Love of an old woman for a young man ; 

Absence of the husband ; Opportunity . . 195 

§ 8. Music ....... 201 

§ 9. Pride of beauty, love of dress .... 202 

§ 10. Bad advice ; Pleasure in corrupting others, wives ruined by 

their mothers ; Fortune-tellers ; Adultery and piety . 204 
{11. Intemperance . . . . • . . 210- 

{12. Faults on the husband's side ; Perils of the marriage night 211 



Hypocrisy of unfaithful wives ...... 212 

Their artful ruses ; husbands' credulity; threats of suicide ; divorce . 214 
Wickidiuss and cruelty q{ unfaithful wives • . . .217 
Desertion of children ; maternal and filial love extinguished by 

adultery. ....... 217 

Hatnd of unfaithful wives towards the husband . . . 222 
Husbands spoken ill of to their children; driven to suicide or 
murder ; parricides provoked by unfaithful wives ; abortion ; 

motives for the husband's murder . 223 

Poisoning resorted to against the husband .... 230 

Examples in Greece and at Rome ; in the Seventeenth Century ; 

in the present day ...... 230 

Modes employed in the execution of the crime ; complicity of the 

lover ; the wife initiating the crime .... 235 

Jealousy on the lover's part, initiative taken by him; double 

poisoning . . 239 
A crime at Les Baux ; suicide of the husband ; Jacques in George 

Sand ........ 241 

Madness of the deceived husband ; flight of the unfaithful wife • 247 

Expiation ........ 249 

Suicide of the unfaithful wife, prostitution . • 250 
Regrets on the part of the divorced wife . . .251 

Death of Mme. Bovary ...... 252 



Discovery of adulterous relations ; credulity of husbands . . 253 

The Forgiving Husband ...... 255 

Motives of forgiveness ; relapse of the unfaithful wife into fresh 
acts of adultery ; remorse on the wife's part ; confession . 256 

The Avenging Husband ...... 259 

Conjugal honour ; examples from History of Marital vengeance ; 
misconception widely disseminated by books with regard to a 
husband's right to kill his wife ; divorce and Marital vengeance ; 
conclusion ....... 260 



Inequality of the Law as between the Sexes . 
Consequences of adultery on the part of the husband 
Brutality of the profligate husband 
Crime of President d'Entrecasteaux 
Sensuality and cruelty .... 



Adultery of the husband with a servant, a governess . 
Means employed in cases of murder between husband and wife 
Hypocrisy of the husband . . . 

Suicide of the forsaken wife ..... 
Suicide of the unfaithful husband .... 

Revenge taken by the lawful wife 

PAG s 



Forgiveness extended to the husband, fierce anger against the mistress 280 
Feminine rivalry . . . . . .281 

"Free Unions" ....... 283 

Quarrels, violence, suicide and murder incidental to "free unions" 
Lovers more vindictive than husbands . . . 285 

Blackmailing after the rupture of relations . 286 



Frequency of Crimes due to amprous passion . .. . 288 

Increase .in modern times of hate and the desire of vengeance . 289 

Principal causes ; 

§ I. Excessive mildness on the part of Juries . . . 290 

. Specially marked in the case of Parisian Juries ; Literary 
sophistries relating to crimes of passion, and their evil 
effects ; Undue influence exercised by the Counsel for 
the Defence ; Motives of this excessive mildness ; Perils 
of impunity ; Vitriol throwing contagious ; Habits of 
revenge ; Corsican vendetta ; Severity of Swiss Juries . 291 
§ 2. Precocity of the young for suicide and crimes arising out of 

amorous passion . . . . . .301 

Nervous susceptibility of young people ; Precocious alco- 
holism ; Theatre - going at too early an age ; Porno- 
graphic literature; Corruption of young people by 
popular Libraries ; Social dangers of improper read- 
ing ; Ill-advised education, maternal indulgence . 304 
§ 3, Development of nevrosity . . . . .310 

Causes of this development ; Predisposition of neuropathic 
persons towards suicide and crime arising out of amorous 
passion ....... 312 

§4. Inadequate protection of women . . 313 

Irresponsibility of the Seducer . . 313 



Increased frequency of suicide . . . . . 315 

Comparison of the motives leading to suicide in Antiquity and in 

modern times . . .316 



Mental contagion 

Imitation in Literature, Politics and Philosophy 

Influence, of early reading 

Good and bad books 

«Growing influence exercised by Literature over tastes, feelings and 

ideas, travelling and fashions in love 
Reciprocal action and reaction of society on literature, and literature on 

society . 
Influence of the heroes of d'Urfé, Mlle, de Scudéry, Corneille, Mari 

vaux, Florian, Jean-Jacques Rousseau 
Influence of Goethe ; origin of his melancholy 
His ideas as to suicide 
Werther and " Wertherism " . 
Suicidal suggestion 
Goethe's own opinion of Werther 
Jacobo Ortis of Foscolo, Leopardi 
Melancholy and suicide in France at the beginning of the Nineteenth 

Century ; Napoleon L, Mme. de Staël, Sismondi, Ampère 
Suicide of Sautelet, Gros, Leopold Robert, Moine 
Chateaubriand's René, and its imitators 

Romantic passion ; love of solitude .... 
Physiological causes of the melancholy of René, Werther \ the Painter 

of Salzburg 
Erotic fancies of Chateaubriand 
His attempted suicide characterized 
His mystic sensualism . 
Suicide of A tola, of Velleda 
Lord Byron's melancholy 
•• Byronism " 

Melancholy of Lamartine and Elvire 
Mme. de Staël on suicide 
George Sand possessed by the idea of suicide, her attempt at self* 

Suicide in her Novels . 
Influence of Indiana on the double suicide of Dr. Bancal and his 

mistress ..... 
Suicide in Ancient, and in Romantic Literature 
Alfred de Vigny,, suicide of Chatterton 
Double suicide in Literature 
The lovers of Montmorency, and of Constantine 
Glorification of passion 
Resemblance between a drama of the Criminal Courts and various 

literary dramas ..... 
Glorification of Suicide and Double Suicide by Literature 
Suicide after an orgy, in Byron, Musset, Baudelaire 
Atheism, debauchery and suicide 
Suicides modelled on that of Rolla 
A profligate's weariness of life . 














Suicides of profligates in Antiquity 

Stories of murder and profligacy in Contemporary Literature 

Death in erotic poetry and romance • 

Profanation of Death . 

Motives of suicide since Hamlet 

Suicides of women after a feast 

Theatrical side of Suicide from passion 

Suicides determined by philosophical Pessimism 

Suicides of work-girls determined by Romantic reading 

Suicide a democratic malady in modern days . 

Romeo and Juliet, and Saint-Marc Girardin • 

Suicide in Classical and in Romantic Literature ; Molière, Boileau and 

Chapelain propose to drown themselves 
Moral healthiness of the Sixteenth Century writers 
Good sense in the Eighteenth Century 
Neurosis in the Nineteenth Century 
Théophile Gautier's pessimism . 
Sainte- Beuve's pessimism 
Jean-Jacques Rousseau's madness 
Diseased imagination and sensibility of Chateaubriand 
Diseased imagination and sensibility of George Sand ; of Alfred de 

Musset ...... 

Nervous constitution of Lamartine, Sainte-Beuve 

of Octave Feuillet .... 

of the Brothers de Goncourt, of Daudet and Zola 

Well-balanced and morbid genius contrasted . 

Results of nervosity in Novelists and Poets 

Painful over-sensitiveness, neuropathic pessimism and literary pessimism 

Influence of Fiction on young men and women 

Modern impressionism in Literature, Painting, Administration of 

• Justice, and Politics 
Enfeeblement of the reasoning powers by the abuse of stimulants, by 

the encouragement of nervous complaints 

by the over-stimulation of imagination and sensibility 

Goethe on Literary irresponsibility 

M. Bourget on Literary responsibility . 

Advice to the young with regard to reading, to safeguard them from 

suicide . 

Co-existence of a physiological predisposition and a literary motive in 
i of " literary" suicide 












Crimes of Passion resulting from reading books of passion . . 415 

Prisoners attribute their criminality to the reading of such books • 41 & 




Dangers of illustrated tales of the Police and Criminal Courts . 419 
Mile. Lemoine and her crime ; her liaison with her coachman deter- 
mined by the reading of novels, in which great ladies are in 
love with their inferiors . . . .421 

Novel reading leads up to seduction ..... 423 

Erotic passions awakened by novels 424 

Erotic passions awakened by books of mysticism 425 

Paul and Virginia a dangerous book for young girls ; examples 425 

Francesca da Rimini, and Charlotte in Werther • 426 

Ovid, Catullus, Propertius admit the dangers of erotic literature 427 

Novels originate fashions in love ..... 429 

The lover idealized, the husband caricatured in novels 431 
Increase of adultery largely due to the glorification of adultery in 

books ........ 432 

Rousseau and Chateaubriand pestered by declarations of love from 

readers of the Nouvelle He loi se and Atala . 433 
Instances of jealousy provoked by reading Boccaccio's and La Fon- 
taine's Tales ....... 434 

Novels may be harmless for some readers, but dangerous for others 435 

Literary intoxication due to novel reading 436 
The Right of Love in Literature and the Criminal Courts ; Literary 

reminiscences of criminals of passion .... 437 

The Right of Love invented by two distinct literary schools , 43& 

Criminals and Novelists both invoke the Voice of Nature 439 

Romantic mysticism 440 

Romantic love . 441 
Religion of love according to the Romantic Writers and according to 

Michelet, Fourier, Renan ..... 442 

Influence of sophistries of passion ..... 443 

The Right of Adultery a creation of novelists .... 444 

Fatality of love in Literature ...... 445 

Sensualistic and determinist Fiction in Stendhal 446 

his psychological mistakes ..... 447 

Physiological and determinist Fiction in Balzac, Mérimée, Flaubert . 448 

Physiological heredity in Zola's novels ..... 449 

in those of Dumas fils ...... 45° 

Unhealthy influence of the Naturalistic Novel . .451 

Crimes inspired by Darwinist ic theories -453 

Novels popularize false systems of Philosophy . .456 

Dangers of Novels tending to animalizr mankind .458 

Corruption flowing from such books in country places . 459 
Increase of pornographic literature encouraged by the Revolutionary 

Press 460 

Glorification of crimes of passion in Novels .... 463 

Literary monsters ....... 464 

Glorification of the dagger 465 

Monsters of the Criminal Courts copy monsters of Literature . 465 

Antony and **A n/onism" ...... 466 



Stendhal's admiration for crimes of passion • . . 

Theory of " amorous energy " ..... 
Admiration of M. Barrés and Saint- Evremond for Spanish love 
Leniency in the case of crimes of passion, of political crimes, of crimes 

of Common Law ..... 

Literary Sadism ...... 

Criminal Sadism ...... 

A murderer plagiarizes from Lord Byron 

Literary vanity of Criminals of passion ; murderers' confessions in 

imitation of literary Confessions .... 

Fatalistic theory of Lacenaire as to the "born criminal " 

Sensibility in Literature and sensibility in murder 

Love of animals among Criminals .... 

Morbid sensibility developed by. Novel reading 

Danger of Novels of Analysis ..... 

Crimes determined by the investigation and analysis of sensations 
Psychological novels of the Eighteenth and of the Nineteenth Centuries 
Calumny, and the corruption of society by novels 
Imitation and description of exceptional characters as typical, in novels 
Balzac's influence ...... 

Crime of Mme. Weiss, and the mischievous effect of sophistries 
Distinction between the aesthetic and the moral sense . 
Responsibilities of Novel writers .... 

Responsibilities of parents ..... 

Responsibilities of schoolmasters 

Responsibilities of readers ..... 

Responsibilities of the founders of Lending Libraries . 








Adversaries and partisans of the Stage ..... 505 

Good and bad of the Stage ...... 507 

Powerful influence of the Stage ; M. P. Albert's opinion criticised . 509 
Instances given by Jules Janin and Philarète Charles . . . 510 - 

Passion on the French Stage . . . . .511 

Useful and harmful plays . . . .512 

The Stage as acting on the passions . . . 514 

Euripidomania determined by a Tragedy of Euripides . 515 

Infection of Stage-plays ; M. Chevreul's opinion quoted . . 516 

Powerful influence of visual impressions . . .517 

Differences of theatrical impressions according to age, sex, tempera- 
ment, education, of the audience . . .518 
Eagerness for theatrical emotions ; Theatrical heroes . . . 519 
Crime on the Stage among the Ancients, in Shakespeare, Corneille, 

Racine . ...... 520 



Theatrical heroines and their vengeance 

Reasons for the craving after theatrical emotions 

Representation of crimes of passion on the Stage 

Love stirred by the sight of its representation on the Stage, according 

to Bossuet, Ovid, Xenophon 
Effects of the representation of a love drama on the audience 
Under what conditions the delineation of love is possible 
Delineation of love by the Greek Poets 
Delineation of love in Racine .... 

in Corneille . . 

on the contemporary Stage 

in the Romantic Drama 

Effects produced by the representation of crimes of passion on the Stage 

Admiration of critics for the heroines of criminal love . 

Crime of passion due to imitation of a Tragedy of Alfieri 

Theatrical pose of persons accused of crimes of passion 

Danger incidental to the representation of crimes of passion for the 

young ....... 

Melodramas ; amiable and accomplished murderers 

Dramas of the Criminal Courts .... 

Lacenaire an imitator of Robert Macaire 

Theatrical cynicism of youthful murderers 

Indecent songs ....... 

Laughter, according to Bossuet, Plato, Rousseau 

Healthy amusement on the Stage ; dangers of unhealthy witticisms 

Marital revenge provoked by the fear of ridicule 

Plays in which marriage is attacked, and adultery excused 

Women derided on the Stage, and fathers 

Witticisms aimed at husbands, and guardians . 

Rascally men-servants and intriguing soubrettes 

Is the exact delineation of vice sufficient to inspire repulsion ? Must 

Crime necessarily be punished on the Stage? Opinions of 

Corneille, Racine, Molière ..... 
Seduction on the Stage ; the Don Juan of Molière, of Byron, of 

Musset ..... 
Love exalted into a virtue on the Stage 
Love and Profligacy confounded 
Heroines self-respecting, and the reverse 
Stage morality in Corneille, in Racine 
Rehabilitation of the Courtesan 

its results .... 

Effect of sophistries of this kind on the verdict of juries 

on crimes of passion committed by women 

Antisocial passions developed by the Romantic stage 

Dangers of fatalism on the Stage 

Moral responsibility in Corneille, Racine, Molière 

Prisoners accused of crimes of passion copying their defence from the 

heroes of plays of Fatalism ..... 






















Fatalism on the modern Stage ..... 

Differences between Ancient Fatalism and the physiological Fatalism 

of the Stage ...... 

Moral freedom in Shakespeare .... 

Physiological Fatalism in Diderot's plays 
Absence of free will and sense of remorse on the modern Stage 
Excessive compassion for crime leads to the impunity of criminals 
Right of Revenge, an invention of the Stage, invoked by persons charged 

with crimes of passion ; murderers as special pleaders 
Danger of sophistical catch-words on the Stage 
Danger of sophistical catch-words in connection with political crimes 

and crimes of passion . 
Does the Stage purify the passions ? . 
The Right of Revenge in Alexandre Dumas fits 
A dangerous stimulus to murder 
No Right of Revenge recognized on the Ancient Stage 
Accused persons invoke the Right of Revenge 
Revenge in Emile Augier's plays 
Doctrine of Forgiveness ; arguments and conclusions 
Advice to parents .... 

On what conditions the Stage is justified in depicting evil 
Inordinate number of criminals introduced on the Stage 
Literary, beauty of noble characters 
The Stage and Morality .... 

How the Stage may be made a means of good 
Alleged nobility of crimes of passion at variance with judicial 

experience ...... 

Criterion of beauty and nobility in Literature . 
Is it the sole business of the Stage to excite terror and pity ? . 
Napoleon I. and " Head -quarters Plays " ; necessity of an ideal 
Danger of paradoxes on the Stage .... 












v Two extremes of opinion ...... 608 

v Motives for leniency towards criminals of passion . 609 
Motive for leniency towards women . . .610 
Physiological reasons accounting for the jealous temperament of women ; 

predispositions of the neuropathic temperament . . 611 

Leniency of the Ancient Penal Law towards women . . . 612 
Severity of modern Law as regards women ; compensating Leniency 

of Juries. ....... 613 

Diminished responsibility of women incases of seduction . . 614 

^ Duty of Jurymen ....... 615 

Responsibility and Fatality . . . . . 616 

Power of resisting passion . , . . .617 




Is Love a pathological condition ? Is it an irresistible impulse ? . 618 

Responsibility in the case of Degenerates .... 620 

Mysteries of the brain ; Specialists disagree • .621 

Duty of medico-legal experts ; necessity for an Institution midway be- 
tween Asylum and Prison • . . . .622 

Difficulties incidental to medical examination .... 623 

Marks of pathological love ...... 624 

Jealousy in persons of ill-balanced intellects .... 625 

Doctrine of partial responsibility criticized .... 626 

Physiological predispositions ...... 627 

False accusations made by hysterical women suffering under jealousy . 628 

Morbid jealousy and its effects ...... 629 

Jealousy complicated with hallucinations, and the ' ' mania of persecution " 63 1 

Irresistible impulses ....... 632 

Twofold danger of medical examination? ; excessive timidity, excessive 

rashness, in coming to conclusions .... 633 

Readiness to adopt extraneous suggestions in some cases of jealousy ; 

non-hypnotic suggestion ..... 635 

Distinction between the "mania of persecution" and "suspicious 

susceptibility" ....... 635 

Pseudo crimes of love ....... 636 

Crimes of profligacy ....... 637 

The bestial side in man ...... 638 

Crimes of passion committed by alcoholic sufferers . 639 

Pseudo suicides of passion ...... 640 

Increase of alcoholism in Paris . . .641 

* Crimes of cupidity under the guise of crimes of passion 642 

/Adultery and theft ....... 644 

Crimes of passion committed by husbands separated from their wives, 

so-called suicides of passion committed by kept mistresses . 645 

Cupidity in crimes of abduction of minors, and bigamy . 646 
With for notoriety among hysterical prisoners charged with crimes of 

passion ........ 647 

Conclusion : distinction drawn between voluntary wickedness and 

involuntary disease ...... 648 



Different kinds of love ...... 

Love that leads to crime ..... 

Consequences of false situations .... 

Love without marriage ..... 

The m/naçe à trois ...... 

Ovid's advice for avoiding suicide and crime arising from amorous 
passion ....... 

Phocylides' advice ...... 





Marriage without love . 
Advice given by. physiologists . 
Utility of Religious Sentiment . 
Duties of Parents 


Duties of Authors 


Frailty of Human Nature 
Duties of governing powers 
Necessity for legislative reforms 





" Ariane ma sœur, de quel amour blessée 
Vous mourûtes aux bords où vous fûtes laissée ?" l 

Children are seldom known to die of grief, to kill 
themselves or go mad, on the death of their parents, 
— irreparable though the loss be. Similarly sorrow 
caused by the death of children or of husband or 
wife produces but a small crop of suicides and cases of 
madness. For instance in the year 1890 there were in all 
France only 67 suicides due to the loss of children, of 
husband or wife, and of parents. The total of suicides 
caused by disappointed love and by jealousy on the 
other hand reaches a very much higher figure, — amount- 
ing to about 500 annually. 

Again to this total of self-inflicted deaths must be 
added a not inconsiderable number of lingering deaths 
and instances of madness determined by love sorrows. 
As the result of an unreciprocated passion for a woman 
they have only known a short time, whom very likely 
they would soon have learned to hate, had they married 
her, whose loss in any case they could supply, we see 
unhappy lovers fall into a state of languor and de- 
pression, dangerous at once to health and reason. 
Their countenance expresses sadness and deep de- 
jection ; their gaze is indifferent to their surround- 

1 " Ariane, my sister, wounded by what love didst thou die on those shores 
where thou wast forsaken?" 


ings, and fixed in a stony stare, either lifted to the 
sky or lowered to the earth ; they speak little, eat little, 
and sleep less. This state of prostration, checking 
nutrition as it does, leads to a rapid wasting away. 
Amnon, the son of -David, we read in the Bible (2 Samuel, 
ch. xiii.) conceived so violent a passion for his half-sister 
Tamar, " that he fell sick " for her ; he refused to eat and 
grew thinner and thinner. This sort of dejection is well 
described by Racine in Phèdre ; the sufferer can neither 
sleep nor eat, and seeks out dark and lonely spots, the 
better to weep at her ease, exclaiming : 

"Je ne me soutiens plus, mes forces m'abandonnent." l 

Her nurse, watching her, sees with terror that she is dying 
in her arms of a disease she hides from her, the disease 
of love. This disease, so often turned into ridicule, may 
indeed be a "sickness unto death." The grief of dis- 
appointed love is sometimes fatal, especially in the case 
of a young girl. When relatives, noticing her deep-seated 
melancholy, ask her the reason, she answers, " she has a 
fatal grief." The adjective is no mere metaphor, but the 
exact expression of her feeling ; she knows that the 
gnawing grief at her heart is leading her step by step to 
the tomb. Every sorrow is able to kill, but love's sorrows 
above all others. Love then is no idle game, but a stern 
reality not to be trifled with. 

Not sensual love only, such as Phèdre feels, may bring 
about this state of dejection. Love the most pure, if with- 
out hope of return, or balked by relations, may produce 
the very same despair in the most chaste of maiden 
bosoms. Many forms of wasting sickness, resulting in 
death, arise from nothing else than an unhappy love 
affair. In his notice on Millevoye, de Pongervilie relates 
how the Poet sought the hand of a young female relative 
in marriage, with whom he was deeply in love and who 
reciprocated his affection. The girl's father rejected his 
demand, in spite of his child's prayers, unwilling to marry 

1 " I faint and fall, all my strength deserts me." 


her to a penniless poet The girl's heart broke with grief, 
and she wasted away and died. Her death, which over- 
Whelmed Millevoye with sorrow, was the first cause of 
Us characteristic melancholy. Another poet, Alfred de 
Musset, who possessed a nature of feminine susceptibility, 
well understood the influence of grief and disappointment 
on a girl's heart : 

"Savez-vous ce que c'est qu'un cœur de jeune fille ? 
Ce qu'il faut pour briser ce fragile roseau, 
Qui ploie et qui se couche au plus léger fardeau ? " ' 

The greater the purity and tenderness of the unhappy 
soul, the more imminent the risk of despair where a young 
girl is concerned, when forsaken by her fiancé or when her 
relatives are opposed to her union with him. Stricken to 
the heart, she is left dizzy and amazed, stunned and para- 
lysed by the pain ; her natural craving to love and to be 
loved is balked, and her whole being broken. If in place 
of the adored being whom in the innocence of her maiden 
fancy she had endowed with the most entrancing qualities, 
she sees quite another man appear, a hard-hearted, barren- 
souled fellow who plays her false, the blow is so heavy 
it may easily destroy life or sanity ; the victim dies of love 
and grief, like Ariane in the play. 

The young man, whose love is balked or not returned, 
experiences the same sufferings ; he grows sombre, pensive 
and silent, and no longer wears his usual air. A mother 
relates how after passing the evening with her son at 
the house of friends, she saw him, on leaving, so sad and 
preoccupied that she followed him trembling, in dread of 
some catastrophe. Suddenly her son kissed her ; then 
pushed her away with the words, " Farewell, mother, leave 
me alone now," and drawing a pistol from his pocket, drew 
the trigger and shot himself dead. 

Absorbed in his own thoughts, the unfortunate lover 

1 "Dost know the nature of a maiden's heart? dost know how little it 
needs to break that tender reed, that bends and droops beneath the lighten 


loses all taste for work. If he is a working-man, he 
neglects his trade; if a man of education, he loses the 
love of study. The Poets, those faithful observers of 
human nature, have noted this characteristic trait In 
his Idyll of the " Harvesters," Theocritus makes one 
rustic say to another, " Why ! what ails you ? you cannot 
plough a furrow now, as once you could ; you cannot cut 
the corn." The other replies, " I have no spirit left to sow 
the field before my own door." — A similar observation is 
made by Virgil in his Eclogues and in the Aineïd: "Ah! 
Corydon, unhappy Corydon, what madness has come over 
you ! your vine remains half pruned on yonder leafy elms. 
Why will you not to work ? " (Eclogue IL). Dido cannot 
sleep or busy herself any more with her usual occupations, 
when she sees jEneas is thinking of forsaking her; she 
neglects the oversight of her army and the building of her 
Palaces. — Werther notices the same thing in himself: "Tis 
a fatality, William ; all my activity has degenerated into a 
restless indolence. I cannot bear to remain idle, yet I 
find it impossible to do anything " (Letter xxxviii.) — After 
his rupture with George Sand, Alfred de Musset longs to 
set to his work afresh, but has no strength left for the 
task; he can do nothing but dream of his faithless mistress, 
whose image is engraved in his memory and flesh and 
spirit. Unable to work, he abandons himself to his grief, 
eating out his heart in sorrow ; watching the blood flow 
from his wound, his food bitter thoughts and tender, cruel 
memories, he slowly dies of love, he grows indifferent to 
life and fame, and lets his genius languish. 

I borrow next from various criminal actions sundry 
observations of a like kind. A father, whose daughter, a 
girl of sixteen, had fled from home to follow a young man, 
whom her family would not allow her to marry, said in 
reply to judicial interrogatories : " My daughter had no 
more heart for her work ; she is a good workwoman, yet 
she was obliged to begin what she was doing again and 
again." — A master said, speaking of a workman of his 
who ended by committing suicide: "He was now quite 


unable to work. Seeing him so pensive and melancholy, 
I was struck by his sombre looks and I asked him what 
he was thinking about. He replied, " I am thinking of 
her." I have myself known a case where a young lover, 
being unable to work in consequence of the one idea 
that paralysed his energies, was refused the girl whose 
hand he had asked for; the latter's family judged him a 
hopeless idler and sent him about his business, whereas 
the poor fellow's sole and only crime was to be too deep 
in love. His despair led to suicide. — " I cannot work any 
more," writes another workman who had been disappointed 
in love, " my head is half mad ; I must give up my 
work." — A young work-girl, who lately committed suicide 
at Marseilles together with a young man she wished to 
marry, because the latter's mother was opposed to the 
itiatch, had struck her companions by her dreamy, dis- 
traught and self-absorbed looks. One of her friends, 
speaking of her to me, said : " She was wrapped up in 
her own thoughts ; if you spoke to her, it was an evident 
effort to her to answer, and she seemed to be waking 
out of a dream." Finding an account in a newspaper of 
a young girl's suicide, she exclaimed, " A happy woman, 
that!" Death has no terrors for a girl suffering from 
balked or slighted love; it may even be said to have 
attractions for her. 

Love in fact longs for death, when it cannot satisfy its 
craving for union, for complete fusion, for one common life. 
I read in a farewell letter to his father written by a student, 
driven desperate by his mistress's unfaithfulness, that 
death was calling to him, luring him on, and had an 
irresistible attraction for him. Corneille has noted the 
fact in the lines : 

" L'amour au désespoir ne peut craindre la mort ; 
Dans un pareil naufrage, elle ouvre un heureux port." l 

These pangs of unhappy Love arise from an imperious 

1 "How should despairing Love fear death ? In such a shipwreck of the 
•oui, death is a happy harbour of refuge." La Toison if Or, Act iii. Sc. 5. 


craving for union that fails of satisfaction. Love is uniiivt 
by nature, St Thomas says ; its tendency is towards the 
closest union, it desires the most absolute and never-ending 
possession of the beloved object, an eternal conjuncture. 
Love would fain be one and one only, he merged in her* 
and she in him, "The loved one is in the lover," St 
Thomas says again, "and the lover in the loved one. 
Body, heart and soul, each feels the need to be absorbed 
and assimilated in the other." No one has described this 
craving for union with more truth and vigour of language 
than Bossuet : " In the transports of human passion," he 
says, " who does not know that lovers will bite and almost 
devour each other, and would fain become incorporate in 
each other's bodies in all ways, and as the Poet 1 wrote, 
seize even with the very teeth what they love, to possess 
the same, to feed on it, be one with it, live in it." 2 This 
fierce craving for union being unsatisfied, lovers feel a 
sense of aching incompleteness and pain at the enforced 

"To separate lovers is by itself a sore punishment," 
Corneille says. Plato accounted for this suffering of love 
separated from the beloved object by a myth, which 
contains a deep psychological signification. He says that 
Man was at first created androgynous, that is, uniting in 
himself both sexes. These were subsequently separated, 
and each half is ever seeking to regain the other half from 
which it has been sundered. Love is the pursuit of that 
part of ourselves which we lack. Man is happy, if he find 
his half, unhappy if he cannot find it, or cannot be united 
with it. So long as he fails to meet with it and possess it, 

1 The poet is Lucretius ; vv. 1072-1081. 

8 Meditation on the Gospel, Words of Our Lord during the Last Supper, 
first part, 24th day. — This need of union is true of Divine love no less than 
of human : " We may say," writes Bossuet in another place, " that the Divine 
Spouse, seeing the soul fulfilled with love of him, communicates himself to 
it, gives himself to it, embraces and draws it within himself. . . . We may 
say further with St Bernard that this embrace, this kiss, this Divine contact 
and conjuncture, is not in the imagination, nor in the sense, but m the most 
spiritual part of our being. " {On the Union of Jesus Christ with His Church:) 


he is incomplete ; and suffers accordingly till his being is 
made perfect. 

" Man is an imperfect creature," Pascal says ; " he must 
needs find a mate to be happy." It is in this sense the 
Bible says it is not good for man to live alone. The people 
expresses the same philosophical idea- as Plato, when it 
calls the woman man's "better half." I have found the 
same expression occurring in the letters of unfortunate 
lovers who have killed themselves in despair. "Life is 
unendurable to me," wrote one of these, "because I am 
robbed of the half of myself." The two parted halves crave 
to be rejoined in one whole. To " make but one " is the 
aspiration of all true lovers. If they were asked, "What 
you crave, is it not to be so closely joined in one as to 
make separation impossible, — to make but one?" — they 
would answer unhesitatingly in the affirmative. (Plato, 

What specially characterizes the psychological condition 
of the lover is this fixed notion ; he dreams only of one 
person, whom he longs to possess, he sees only her, he 
speaks little, that he may ponder the better of her, if he 
does speak, it is of her, — the sole and only object of his 
thoughts. The intellectual shrinkage produced by love 
leads to a correspondingly exaggerated estimate of the 
beloved object 

Corneille has very accurately noted this characteristic of 
love, how it becomes a fixed idea, a sort of possession. 
Pulchérie, "discoursing of her love, says to Justin : 

44 Léon seul est ma joie, il est mon seul désir, 
Je n'en puis choisir d'autre et n'ose le choisir ; 
Depuis trois ans unie à cette chère idée, 
J'en ai l'âme à toute heure, en tous lieux, obsédée" l 

Falling in love at a mature age with Mlle. Duparc 
CorneHle notes in himself this same possession, and seeks a 
cure : 

1 •• Léon is my only joy, the only desire of my heart ; I cannot, nor I dare 
not, choose another. For three years wedded to this cherished thought, my 
soul \s -possessed by it at every hour, in every place." Act iii. Sc 2. ' 


" Puissé-je, maigre vous* y penser un peu moins, 
M'écbapper quelque jour vers quelques autres soins, 
Trouver quelque plaisir ailleurs qu'en votre idée, 
En voir toute mon âme un peu moins obsédée? x 

It is all very well to urge a lover to admire the beauty 
of another fair one, bidding him : 

" Comparez-lui l'objet dont vous êtes blessé, 
Comparez-en l'esprit, la façon, l'entretien, 
Et lors vous trouverez qu'un autre la vaut bien ! " - 

He is incapable of examining other women, and com- 
paring them with the one he loves. The day his mind 
finds liberty enough to institute such a comparison, love 
will be near its end. But so long as it lasts, he can direct 
his thoughts to none but the one beloved object. 

A young man, to whom a plan of marriage was proposed 
in order to divert him from an unhappy love affair, 
answered in these words : " I have a high esteem for the 
young lady you would have me marry, but I can never 
love her ; the other is ever before my eyes, I am sick of 
love for her." — All very well for Charlotte to cry to 
Werther: "Cannot you find in the whole world another 
woman able to satisfy the wishes of your heart ? " Werther 
only answers there is for him in all the world no woman 
but Charlotte. — I read in the official account of a suicide 
how friends, by way of consoling a comrade who had been 
unfortunate in love, would tell him : " Think no more of 
her ! there are plenty of other pretty girls in Marseilles." 
"Nay!" answered the unhappy lover, "there is but one 
girl in all Marseilles I can love, the rest are nothing to 

The ill-starred lover rejects all consolation ; he buries 

1 "Could I, in your despite, but dream something less of my passion, 
escape for an hour to some other preoccupation, find some pleasure elsewhere 
than in the thought of you, see my whole" soul something less possessed of this 
one idea." 

a " Compare with her the source of your wound, compare her wit and mien 
and conversation, and lo ! you will find another in no way inferior to your 
own beloved !" Corneille, La Veuve, Act ii. Sc 2. 


himself in his grief and would rather not be cured. He 
seeks out lonely places that he may concentrate his 
thoughts on the loved one ; he finds her image in his 
soul and takes delight in a contemplation that only serves 
to still further increase his passion. Or else he carries 
with him into his solitude the portrait of his mistress, 
holding it for ever before his eyes to feed them on her 
44 counterfeit-presentment." 

The attempt is often made, and rightly, to induce the 
patient to travel, in order to distract his mind and help 
him to get rid of the one idea that possesses him ; and 
this means is sometimes efficacious. 1 But more often than 
not, the sick man hugs his malady and refuses to apply 
the remedy ; he will not leave home, he would rather not 
be cured. A young man suffering from unhappy love 
replied to his friends, who begged him to follow Tele- 
machus' example in the island of Calypso and sail away : 
"No!" he said, "it is impossible for me to leave her; my 
feelings simply overmaster me." 

Separation from the beloved object is not always 
successful in driving away the fond memory by which 
the unhappy lover is possessed ; far from inducing forget- 
fulness, absence may merely serve, by reason of the pangs 
of separation and the tears it sets flowing, to make the 
desire of fruition more violent than ever. I have known 
victims of this species of possession return from a long 
journey without being cured, and presently commit suicide 
or kill the loved one who refused to favour their suit. 
Year by year we see young soldiers join the Regiment 
with sore hearts, because they have left behind in their 
native village a girl they love. Separation does not 
invariably calm their grief; some of them grow sombre 
and silent and avoid their comrades' society. Eventually 

1 In his notice on Béranger, Paul Hoi t eau tells how this means was success- 
ful in tbe poet's case. The latter, desirous of curing himself of a violent 
passion which had attacked him when well on in years, had with his usual 
excellent good sense, recognised the fact that separation was the most effectual 
remedy, seeing that the presence of the person loved invariably increases the 
strength of love. 


they are found hanged, or drowned, or their brains blown 
out by à pistol shot. Love sorrow may survive separation 
many years or even to the last day of life. A young 
woman of twenty-two, who had wished to marry her 
cousin whom she dearly loved, having been married by 
her relatives to another man, remained all her life plunged 
in so deep a despair that, widowed eventually, she could 
find no consolation, and ended by suffocating herself, 
crying: "I long to die, I long to die." (January 1897.) 
It is a mistake to say Time cures all griefs ; there are 
some griefs Time cannot heal. Love sorrows are all the 
more difficult- to bear for young people from the very 
fact that they are not yet broken in to suffering, and have 
no knowledge of the great sorrows of life. 

Lovers are themselves aware of their psychological con- 
dition, characterized as it is by the presence of one fixed 
idea. A young man under accusation, who had killed his 
fiancée because she broke her troth, said in answer to 
questions: "Her conduct turned me into something like 
a madman. Still I cannot say I am mad ; only I had the 
fixed idea the girl was to become my wife, and I could not 
drive it out of my head. I was urged again and again to 
forget her, to dismiss the notion altogether, but it was 
impossible." — In another case, the friend of a man who 
had committed a murder out of disappointed love, spoke 
in similar terms : " His projected marriage had grown into 
a fixed idea with him ; he was ready to talk of his passion 
to anyone who would listen. Under the fatal influence of 
this fixed idea, which would seem to have to some degree 
disturbed his intellect, he must in my opinion have made 
the murderous attempt he did." 

In some instances parents are so alarmed at the change 
wrought in their child's character as a result of thwarted 
love, that they suppose him to be ill (as indeed he is), and 
call in the doctor. In a murder case, where a young man 
had killed his fianc/e, who had broken off the engagement, 
cross-examination revealed the fact that the accused, -in 
the agonies of the deepest despair, used to beat his head, 


crying out : " I have an idea in my brain that tortures me ; 
that's where the mischief is." Possessed by the image of 
the girl he loved, he could neither sleep at night nor work 
by day ; l he was constantly getting up in the night, walk- 
ing about his room, getting into bed again, then once -more 
rising, unable to find a moment's repose and complaining 
of violent headaches. The physician who was called in 
by the parents found him to be suffering from congestion 
of the brain ; from the first he had a presentiment the 
young fellow would come to no good, — and as a matter of 
fact he ended by killing the girl. Once a lover in his 
despair falls into this condition of prostration succeeded 
by exaggerated excitability, anything may happen ; ac- 
cording to circumstances and the bent of his character, he 
may resort either to suicide or murder, or both. Some* 
times we hear these despairing lovers cry out, " This thing 
must end ! " — for they feel themselves that this state of 
excessive tension cannot last. Friends and neighbours are 
conscious of calamity brooding in the air, and the* actual 
conclusion is very often suicide or murder or both together, 
or else madness. 

Among the common people simple folks are still to be 
found who firmly believe witchcraft to be responsible for 
such like catastrophes. Some few years ago, the Criminal 
Court of the Bouches-du-Rhône had to deal with an offender, 
who had killed a young woman, because, as he said, she 
had made him ill by taking away his sleep, his appetite 
and his taste for work ; I have had the " dossier " of 
papers connected with the case in my hands. The un- < 
fortunate young man was condemned to fifteen years' 
hard labour ! — I have also known mothers accuse their 
daughters' seducers of having used magic arts to turn 
them mad with love ; they believed them to be " be- 
witched." Again, the father of Desdemona is quite unable 
to explain otherwise than by the intervention of sorcery 
the love his daughter, young, beautiful, bashful, proud and 

1 Plato has noticed these tortures of unhappy love : •' He cannot sleep by 
night, nor stay still by day." {Pkadrus.) 


rich, feels for Othello, a man of years, poor and a foreigner, 
and " black as soot " into the bargain. He cannot fathom 
the motives that have led her to quit the paternal roof to 
follow after this man to all appearance so ill fitted for the 
part of a seducer ; he asks him if he has not thrown a spell 
over the girl by means of love potions and arts magic. 

Even when it is not a disease, love is a passion that is 
by its very nature exclusive and absorbing. M. Maillet 
holds that Ambition presents a yet more exclusive 
character; but I do not agree with him. No doubt 
Ambition is absorbing, but not to the same extent as 
Love. "The thoughts of my sin so absorb me," said 
Ûavid, "that my eye can see naught else." 1 The man 
who is deeply smitten with love can think of one thing 
only : 

" Aimer est tout son but, aimer est tout son bien." 2 

Dominated by this one fixed idea, intelligent men grow 
stupid. They have only a single thought left, that of 
their passion ; to this they make everything else sub- 
servient, indifferent alike to fortune and the pleasures of 
society, of pride and of ambition : 

" Son arc, ses javelots, son char, tout l'importune." 3 

All they care for is solitude, that they may ponder 
undisturbed over the object of their passion ; they think 
only of the individual they are enamoured of, they seek 
out every opportunity of meeting and seeing her. Girls 
who are pursued by these ardent lovers declare they 

1 Masillon's analysis of this state of mind evinced much penetration when 
he said, speaking of Love : " It is distinctive of this passion to fill the whole 
heart to overflowing. . . . The lover can think of nothing but his love ; it 
possesses and intoxicates him to the exclusion of everything else. Every 
object recalls its fatal images, and rouses its unholy desires ; society, solitude, 
presence, absence, objects the most indifferent, occupations the most serious, 
the holy sanctuary itself, the blessed altars of God, the awful mysteries of 
Religion, all recall its memory." (Sermon on the " Prodigal Son.") 

2 " To love is all his aim, to love is all his bliss." 

Corneille, Andromède, Act i. Sc. 4. 
1 ' Her bow, her darts, her car, all stir his heart." 


cannot take a step without encountering them in their 
path. This obstinacy, this possession of all the faculties, 
lasts sometimes for a number of years ; no matter how 
often shown the door, they return to the attack again and 
again, never wearying of the one idea they have in their 
heads, their love. A working man of Marseilles who had 
asked in marriage a sailor's daughter and had been refused, 
commits a series of acts of savage nocturnal violence, for 
which he is condemned to four years' hard labour. After 
undergoing his punishment at Noumea, he returns to 
Marseilles on the expiration of the five years, as fiercely 
in love as at the moment of his leaving the place. He 
starts out to find the girl, discovers her living as the 
mistress of another workman and kills her on her refus- 
ing to have anything to do with him. 

The ill-starred lover neglects his business, his friends 
and even his kinsmen : 

" Et quand on aime bien et qu'on voit ce qu'on aime, 
Peut on songer à des parents ? " l 

Pascal, that profound observer of the passionate emotions, 
has also observed : " I entirely agree with the man who 
declared that in love we forget fortune and family and 
friends. . . . What makes men go so far in love is this, 
that they imagine themselves to need nothing else what- 
ever but what they love ; their whole mind is full of this, 
and there is no room for any other thought or anxiety." 

If Love can make children forget their parents, it 
also on occasion will make parents forget their children. 
Fathers allow their children by a first marriage to be 
ill-treated by their second wife or by their mistress; in 
their case paternal love is stifled under their passion for 
die woman they are enamoured of. I find in a letter to his 
second wife from a working joiner who had married again 
the following expression : " From one who is ready to die 
for you and who loves you better than his life, for I would 
have sacrificed my little girl for your sake." 

1 " When a man loves ardently and sees what he loves, how can he think 
of kinsfolk ? " Psyché^ Act iv. Sc. 3. 


It is the concentration of every thought on one single 
object which makes the joy of reciprocated love so great 
and the pangs of unhappy love so poignant The imagina- 
tion, entirely absorbed in a single object, pictures under 
enormously exaggerated proportions the bliss and the 
unbappiness resulting from the possession or the loss of 
the person beloved. He is persuaded he could no longer 
live without her : 

" Hors de votre présence, il doute s'il peut virre." l 

And in actual fact, sometimes the lover is made so 
miserably unhappy by the loss of the loved one that he 
dies of the blow. In the letters of unfortunate lovers 
who put an end to themselves, we often meet with this 
thought : " Without you life is unbearable. I would much 
rather die." 

It is this same concentration of thought on one single 
object again which accounts for the empire the woman 
exercises over the man who is enamoured of her. 

There is a large element of illusion in love, whether 
happy or the reverse, serving to exalt the merits of the 
beloved object by the addition of quite imaginary per- 
fections. The lover is convinced there exists no other 
woman prettier, or more sweet and lovable, than the one 
he loves, — yet she is very often plain. The official reports of 
suicides which I have consulted often enclose, along with 
letters written by the despairing lover, the photograph of 
the woman for whose sake he has done the deed. And 
the woman is seldom possessed of any remarkable charms 
of person. It is by no means always fine eyes, whether 
black or blue, straight cut noses and regular features, that 
trouble men's heads and set hearts aflame. A woman 
in love is, on her side, no less firmly persuaded of her 
lover's superiority. Everybody knows the "loci classici" 
in Lucretius, Horace and Molière describing the blindness 
of Love, which lends entirely imaginary good qualities to 
the object of affection, transforming positive defects into 

1 M Deprived of your presence, he doubts if he can live," 


merits. M Passion spreads a veil over their mistress's faults ; 
nay ! does more, it changes them into beauties ; the polypus 
on Agna's nose is no defect in Balbinus' eyes." 

But let Love be flown, and the lover is astonished he 
can no longer find in his former mistress the high qualities 
that once charmed him so. It is not that she is changed ; 
the alteration is in himself. The ardour of desire as yet 
unsatisfied contributes greatly to this process of idealiza- 
tion, which often comes to an abrupt end after fruition. 

The lover has ever before his eyes the image of the 
loved one, which follows him everywhere and never leaves 
him. He sees it everywhere ; as Corneille says : 
"Tout ce que je voyais me semblait Curiace." * 

The presence of the beloved object embellishes Nature, 
brightens the horizon, warms the very air he breathes. 
The lover lives enveloped by her image, brightened and 
warmed by the sunbeams of her eyes. The fond feelings 
that swell his heart make him find the flowers more 
lovely, the rays of the setting sun and the light of the 
moon more beauteous, the songs of the birds more tuneful. 
The days of their love-making are those when poets and 
painters are able to delineate best and most emotionally 
the charms of Nature, the cheerfulness of morn and the 
sadness of evening, the softness of night and the silent 
peacefulness of the fields. It is just because the image 
of the beloved object peoples the world and makes it 
beautiful, that when this is lost the world is left desolate, 
and seems a desert. After Berenice's departure, the East 
appears an empty waste to Antiochus : 

44 Dans l'Orient désert quel devient mon ennui ! " 2 

The East is but Bérénice personified; Bérénice gone, 
nothing is left. For the man who is deep in love, the 
universe is but the woman he loves. 

44 Un seul être vous manque et tout est dépeuplé." 3 

1 •• All I beheld, methought, was Curiace." 

a •• In the desert East, what weariness of soul is mine Ï *' 

* " One being is taken from you, and all is left desolate." — Lamartine. 


His horizon is so limited, the World is simply the 
dwelling-place of the one he adores; apart from her, it 
has no existence, universal Nature is nothing to him. 
His love is fortunate, — the World wears a radiant smile ; 
unfortunate, — and all Nature frowns. This Earth, which 
seems a Paradise to him who loves and is loved again, 
becomes a sepulchre or a hell, when he loses the loved one 
or is hindered from wedding her. Already frantic with 
love, he grows frantic with despair, and longs to quit a 
world where he suffers so sorely. The tomb has no terrors 
for him, for what is existence to him henceforth but a 
living death? When he announces to his friends his 
intention to have done with life, these refuse to take his 
words seriously, for they have no true conception of his 
sufferings. Parents again, who are sometimes admitted 
by their sons into the secret of their projected suicide, 
attach no importance to the confidence ; having outgrown 
the age of love and lost the recollection of the high-strung 
emotions of earlier years, they do not realize the young 
man's despair and the fatal attraction the idea of suicide 
exercises over him. A young girl when disappointed in 
love, very rarely lets her parents know of it ; she is afraid 
to confide her despair to them, she would like to spare 
them the pain of seeing her unhappiness, and carefully 
conceals her scheme of putting an end to herself. 

A man in pain would be ever asleep, if he could ; in 
waking, he regrets the time of respite during which he 
ceased to feel his agony. His sum of energy once ex- 
hausted, he longs for death as for an eternal sleep, that he 
may suffer no more. In the written documents left behind 
them by suicides, I have again and again found this same 
cry of suffering, this craving for rest : " My pain is more 
than I can bear ; I am going to sleep, I am going to seek 
forgetfulness of my sorrows in death." It is excess of 
suffering that is the determining factor of suicide. " Oh ! 
fair and cruel girl, who deserve not to be loved," cries a 
shepherd in Theocritus, " I am here to make you my last 
present, the noose that is to end my days, for I am fain 


to encounter your scorn no more, and I am away whither 
you send me, to a land where Love can give no further 
pain, where is oblivion of all sorrows." — I am mad with 
grief," exclaimed an unhappy lover before putting an end 
to his life. . . my tears hinder me from writing more." — " I 
am sorry to quit this world," writes another in his despair ; 
"still I am happy to think I shall find rest in eternal 
sleep." — "The eternal repose of the tomb seems infinitely 
sweet to me . . . my pain is greater than I can bear," are the 
words of yet another ill-starred lover before killing himself. 
— A young workwoman, an embroiderer by trade, who had 
been unable to marry the man of her choice, wrote before 
ending her days : " Life has been for me nothing but one 
huge sorrow; may my death be the awakening to true 
happiness ! " — " How soundly I shall sleep ! God grant 
my hand fail me not ! " writes one desperate man. — 
Another unhappy lover prefaces his death with the words : 
44 1 am wretched on these shores, and I am away to see 
what lies on the other side." — " I admit I am an arrant 
coward, but my suffering is more than I can bear, and 
I am at the end of my endurance," writes a domestic 
servant, who empties two chambers of a revolver into 
her body, because she cannot obtain fulfilment of a promise 
of marriage that had been made her. — Another woman 
whose lover had forsaken her, writes : " My agony is too 
great, I can endure my life no longer ; my poor head 
cannot bear the pain of desertion any more." 

The lover, whose love is not reciprocated, is so terribly 
unhappy for this reason, that he has concentrated all his 
thoughts, all his desires, all his plans, all his hopes on one 
single being. This being failing him, what is left ? " Every- 
thing is ended," he cries ; " to live without you is an im- 
possibility. My only hope is to find peace and quietness 
in a better world." — In her love letters to Bothwell, Mary 
Queen of Scots again and again gives expression to this 
thought, that she cares for life for his sake only, that his 
love is the sole and only stay of her life and that without 
him all she could wish for would be instant death. The 


instant her passion meets with an obstacle, she exclaims : 
" Alack ! would I were dead ! " 

Grown-up men know there are greater sorrows in this 
world than love disappointments; but young folks imagine 
no pangs can be keener than those of thwarted love, or a 
projected marriage broken off or even merely delayed. 
The fear of seeing a marriage drop through, which after all 
is only deferred, may be sufficient to determine an access 
of despair ending in self-destruction. To give a recent 
instance: a young man of twenty-eight is anxious to 
marry a girl he is in love with. The girl's family, without 
refusing his suit, require the young man to put in his period 
of military service first He consents to this and prepares 
to join his regiment, but his parents now raise objections ; 
eventually the youthful lover, in despair at seeing his 
marriage postponed, commits suicide. — A young workman 
without a penny of property, is eager to marry, but his 
family urge him strongly to put some money by before 
entering on housekeeping, telling him the nightingale does 
not begin singing till it has built its nest. He however 
is for marrying before having made his nest, and kills 
himself because his parents advise him to put off his 

Talent and genius are no preservatives against suicide 
from disappointed love; indeed they may even be de- 
scribed as predisposing causes. The greatest writers of 
the Nineteenth Century, Goethe, Chateaubriand, Lamartine, 
George Sand, Alfred de Musset, etc., all felt the temptation 
of suicide. Leopold Robert did put an end to Jiimself 
in consequence of ill success in love. Poets, Musicians, 
Painters, feel keenly the pangs of unhappy love from the 
very fact of their high degree of sensibility. 

Women of equivocal character are by no means in- 
capable of feeling love sorrows acutely, even to the extent 
of leading them to commit suicide. Not a year passes but 
the Quartier Latin is the scene of sundry tragedies of the 
sort. " I am a poor girl without family or fortune, ,, wrote 
a young woman who had been forsaken by a student of 


medicine ; " I have had to bear much sorrow and dreadful 
suffering ; I am sick of life, and I have made up my mind 

to kill myself. I am taking the opportunity of M 

being away to take some acetic acid from amongst his 
drugs." This she swallowed, lay down on her bed and 
so died. When Parisian students at the end of their 
course seek to break off connections likely to stand in the 
way of their plans of settling down and making a name 
for themselves, it is not an uncommon occurrence for the 
rupture to provoke a fit of despair leading to suicidal 

Then again, there are many women of unstable equili- 
brium, mentally incapable of being crossed, who after 
making a scene with their lover, suddenly throw them- 
selves out of window or jump into the River. Sudden 
impulses of this sort towards suicide are of frequent 
occurrence among a degenerate type hereditarily, among 
hysterical and neurotic subjects. Plenty of examples may 
be found in the Works of Doctors Magnan, Legrain, 
Dagonnet, Féré, Legrand du Saule, Gamier. 

Speaking generally, suicides of women are less numerous 
than those of men. There are a crowd of good reasons 
to account for the difference. Religious and family feel- 
ing, fear of death, tolerance of suffering, avoidance of 
excess, dread of scandal, are all sentiments more fully 
developed in the female than in the male sex. Besides, 
a woman is better protected against the temptation to 
commit suicide by the sense of shame, which makes her 
dread the exposure of the Morgue and the inevitable 
medico-legal examinations. It is well known how an 
epidemic of suicide which appeared among the women of 
Miletus was stayed by a law ordering that every woman 
who killed herself should be exposed naked in the public 
Market-place. Nevertheless, under stress of acute dis- 
appointment in love, the most timid young girl will put 
an end to herself with as much determination as the 
bravest man ; grief will make her oblivious of everything, 
religion, family, weakness, shame, timidity, fear of death 


itself. " Women," says Plutarch, " have ordinarily nothing 
in common with Mars ; but for all this the frenzy of love 
drives them to the commission of reckless deeds entirely 
repugnant to their natural disposition and to self-sought 

While, taking the total number of suicides, the figure 
representing those of women is four or five times less than 
that of men, we yet find an almost identical number of 
female and of male suicides consequent upon thwarted 
love. Thus for instance, in the year 1889, of 247 suicides 
due to disappointments of the affections, 123 were men, 
124 women ; in 1893, of 333 suicides, there were 164 men 
and 169 women. 

Moral suffering is more especially acute with delicately 
organised natures, endowed with keen sensibility and vivid 
imagination, — and these are just the qualities in which 
women excel. Besides this, Love being the chief business 
of her life, she has nothing else to console her disappoint- 
ment such as the acquisition of power and influence, the 
winning of honours and wealth, — all important safety 
valves where men are concerned. For a while she will 
struggle against her grief and force herself to take an 
interest in the affairs of every day, but this battle against 
mental suffering very quickly wears out her strength. 

Among young girls and women who are led to commit 
suicide by disappointments in love, a certain number of 
those who put an end to themselves in Paris come from 
the provinces. Forsaken by their lover or finding them- 
selves pregnant, they fly from home to hide their shame in 
Paris. " I can never get over my grief," cries a girl of 
twenty on the eve of committing suicide. " I have come 
to Paris. The only favour I ask is to be buried without 
inquiries as to my family." 

Suicide due to thwarted love was of much less frequent 
occurrence in former days. Schopenhauer reckoned the 
total at- only half a dozen per annum for the whole of 
Europe. "It is not in Novels only that Werthers and 
Jacobo Ortis are to be found; every year Europe might 


supply a half dozen of instances." 1 In his Treatise on 
Suicide written in 1822, Dr Fabret says that in 181 8 there 
were eighteen suicides attributed to the effects of amorous 
passion. Now in the year 1893, for example, there were 
in Fiance no less than 333 cases of suicide from dis- 
appointed love, and this figure must be further increased 
by a number of suicides arising out of jealousy. It is 
difficult to arrive at the precise number, inasmuch as the 
Statistics published by the Ministry of Justice make the 
mistake of confounding in a single category suicides de- 
termined by jealousy, dissipation and ill living. For 
instance in 1892 the total of suicides due to these three 
factors rose as high as 1 37. 

Why in the society of to-day are there more suicides 
from love than in former times? Is it because there is 
more love ? Obviously not. The reasons for the increase 
must be sought in the non-satisfaction of the craving for love 
by way of marriage, which day by day grows less frequent, 
in the ever-growing number of irregular liaisons, ending 
in eventual rupture, in the precocity of the rising genera- 
tion in matters of love and dissipation, in the development 
of nervous diseases and of alcoholism, in weakening of 
the will power and excessive excitation of the sensibility, 
in novel reading and morbid over-stimulation of the 
imagination, in the decay of belief in Religion with its 
prohibitions of suicide. 

To arrive at the exact total of suicides caused by love 
and jealousy, we must add in also a certain number set 
down to intemperance. Of the 927 cases coming under 
this head in 1892, I am convinced that in a very con- 
siderable number of instances the real cause of the in- 
temperance and consequent suicide was some unhappy 
love affair. Despairing lovers very frequently rush into 
intemperance to stifle their grief. Men end miserably as 
sots, because in earlier days they could not marry the girl 
they loved or because they were betrayed by their mistress, 
and so tried to drown their sorrows in wine and alcohol 

1 Schopenhauer, Reflexions* p. 73 (Paris éd., F. Alcan). 


" To stupify my wits," writes Werther to his friend, " I have 
for some time now got into the habit of allowing myself, 
starting with a glass of wine, to presently finish off the 
bottle" {Letter LXVIL). Intoxication is like sleep, it 
brings forgetfulness. We know how Alfred de Musset, 
to console himself for his rupture with George Sand, 
adopted habits of intemperance. His god-mother (Mme. 
Jaubert) having reproached him for his folly, the un- 
fortunate and still inconsolable poet wrote to her to 
excuse his glass of absinthe, 

" Qui pendant un quart d'heure étourdit ma misère ... • 
Dans ce verre, où je cherche à noyer mon supplice, 
Laissez plutôt tomber quelques pleurs de pitié." J 

Again it not unfrequently happens that unhappy lovers 
rush in their despair into dissipation, as others take to 
drink, to stifle their grief. Not a few girls moreover after 
being forsaken by their lovers, hurry out of recklessness, 
wretchedness or despair into evil living, yet without being 
able to forget their first love. "Since Louis left me to 
rejoin his regiment," wrote a young girl who had already 
made several attempts at suicide and who ended by 
smothering herself with charcoal fumes, " I have been 
guilty of numberless follies, which he will never forgive. 
Write and tell him of my fatal determination. You will 
cut off a lock of my hair and give it him as a remembrance 
of me." 

Again we find included in the Statistics of the Ministry 
of Justice a large number of suicides under the extremely 
vague heading of "domestic troubles." For instance in 
1890 there were 1097 such. The officials who draw up the 
formal reports of suicides make use of this phrase when- 
ever they are ignorant of the precise nature of the trouble 
which brought about the suicide, and which the family 
wish to keep secret. I have devoted special study to these 

1 il Which for a brief half hour stifles my wretchedness ... in this glass, 
wherein I seek to drown my torment, rather let fall some drops of pitying 


reports, and I have come to the conclusion that a number 
of suicides classed under the category " domestic troubles " 
ought properly speaking to be set down to disappointed 
and unfortunate love. 

We see then that Love unreciprocated or otherwise 
balked is responsible for a large number of victims ; this 
living principle becomes a principle of death, when it is 
left unsatisfied. Nor is it only unfortunate love that leads 
to suicide ; the mere craving for love if it fails of satisfac- 
tion may bring on a profound melancholy ending in suicide. 
A young man of timid, morbid disposition, devoured by 
the need of loving and being loved, may suffer so acutely 
from the aching void in his heart as to eventually kill him- 
self in sheer despair. " I deliberately choose to put an end 
to myself; I suffer so, because no one loves me," writes 
a young workman, a brass-founder, and consumptive. A 
young workwoman of Paris, seventeen years of age, leaves 
her father's house one morning as usual on her way to the 
workshop, after kissing her mother and brothers affec- 
tionately ; her face wears an untroubled look, and there is 
absolutely nothing to point to an impending catastrophe. 
Yet she has just written a letter to her parents, which she 
is now on her way to post, before throwing herself into the 
Seine, which runs thus : " My dear parents, — to-morrow 
morning you will receive a letter, giving you full particulars 
of my death. Courage. I die of want of interest in life, 
and this terrible feeling must be my excuse and my claim 
to forgiveness. It has been the curse of my life. I felt 
myself attacked by a mysterious malady that was bound 
to bring me to the grave. Courage, dear parents,— courage, 
if for nothing else, for the sake of your dear little ones, who 
will have a brighter destiny than their sister. My dead 
body will be found in the Seine." 

Moreover, every year thwarted love is the predisposing 
cause of a certain number of religious vocations, more 
particularly among young girls who have been betrayed 
and forsaken. These turn to God and wed Him, — for is 
not the Religious life a chaste form of wedlock ? God 


becomes " the beloved consort," as Bossuet himself names 
Him in his letters of pious exhortation and advice ad- 
dressed to Religious Women. 

Spouse of God, the maiden who takes the Veil becomes 
at the same time mother of the orphaned and the poor. 
Nunneries are well worthy the respect of all, inasmuch as 
they afford young girls who cannot marry satisfaction of 
that imperious craving to love and to be loved which under 
other circumstances calls so urgently for marriage and 
motherhood. 1 These human feelings, spiritualized by the 
Divine Love, beget the marvels of charity, and give happi- 
ness to thousands of noble creatures, who but for the 
Religious life would miss it altogether. Alfred de Musset 
who, in spite of all his loose living, possessed a vivid 
intuition of the needs of the human heart, clearly recog- 
nized the truth that nowhere else is so much love to be 
found as in Religious Houses : 

" Cloîtres silencieux, voûtes des monastères, 
C'est vous, sombres caveaux, vous qui savez aimer." s 

Nor is it women alone that pass from human love to love 
Divine, like Mlle, de la Vallière who became Sister Louise 
de la Miséricorde ; men of tender and emotional natures 
turn priests, when they lose their fiancée, as did the Abbé 
de Rohan, Lamartine's friend, or throw themselves enthusi- 
astically into the Divine Love, when the age for human 
love is over. Enough to recall the names of St Augustine, 
Pascal and Racine, to see how easily high-souled lovers 
merge into religious mystics. " Racine," Mme. de Sévigné 
said, " loves God as ardently as he used to love his 

Over and above lovers who resort to suicide because 
they are unable to marry the one they love, there are also, 

1 Ch. Nodier, writing in 1803 his Méditations du Clottre (Meditations of the 
Cloister), demanded the re-establishment of Religious Houses, in order to save 
men from suicide. 

* " Silent cloisters, vaulted monasteries, 'tis you, ye dark and sombre halls, 
that best know how to love." 


exceptionally, young men, and still more young women, 
who put an end to themselves in order to escape marrying 
against their will ; they prefer death to an antipathetic 
marriage. When a girl commits suicide to avoid marrying, 
it is because she is anxious to wed another husband than 
the one her friends desire her to. At first she appears 
resigned to her family's wishes, but as the wedding day 
comes nearer and nearer, her heart rises in revolt, her 
aversion to the man they would force upon her increases 
and on the eve of the fatal day she kills herself. So it is 
with Monime in the play, who loves another, and rather 
than marry Pharnace or Mithridate is for stabbing herself 
to the heart, tries subsequently to hang herself, to 

" Faire un affreux lien d'un sacré diadème," l 

and after that plans to poison herself, when her previous 
attempt fails. 

To give one or two examples of suicide on the part of 
young women whose inclinations have been thus thwarted. 
A girl who had been deeply affected because she could 
not marry the man she was fondly in love with, in con- 
sequence of her parents' opposition, was plighted by them 
to another young man. As the wedding-day came nearer, 
she grew more and more nervous and agitated ; compelled 
to take to her bed, she showed evident signs of a wish to 
put an end to herself. The physician who was called in 
gave her a draught to calm her nerves. Left alone with 
her sister, she had recourse to various pretexts to get her 
out of the way ; not succeeding in this, she went to the 
window under the pretext of the room being too hot, and 
suddenly springing over the sill threw herself out. — 
Another instance : a girl living in the suburbs of Paris, 
being on the point of contracting a marriage she disliked 
with an officer in the Army, went to town one day to visit 
a relative ; she seemed in excellent spirits, and presently 
asked her relative to go into the garden to gather her 
some roses. Thus left alone in the house, she shot herself 

1 "To make an ill-omened cord of a sacred diadem." 


dead. — This type of suicide is very uncommon among young 
men, who are much less often constrained by their family 
into a marriage contrary to their wishes. Still examples 
do occur, such as the following : a Parisian shop-assistant, 
in love with a woman of the same place whom he could 
not marry, makes up his mind to a provincial marriage. 
He leaves the city, but the very day before his wedding, 
returns to Paris and blows his brains out, after writing 
the following letter : " I choose to end my life by my 
own hand. Why? Mystery. No one will ever know. 
Farewell, father, mother, family and friends. Forgive me. 
Farewell. Louise, forgive me. Be happy." I myself 
noted the case of a young man who killed himself, to 
escape marrying a cousin, whom he had seduced indeed, 
but had now ceased to care for. He was a clerk of 
twenty-three, living at Marseilles with an uncle, who was 
in business. He had run away from the cousin, leaving 
her at her country home in the Department of the Loire 
in a condition of pregnancy. The girl wrote to him to 
remind him of his promises. This letter he showed to 
his uncle, who told him, M As you have deceived the girl, 
you are bound to make it good. Go and marry her ; I will 
give you the necessary leave of absence." Hearing this, 
the young man left his uncle with the words : " Well and 
good ! I know now what I must do," and went away to 
kill himself. — A working man of sixty-one, who had been 
living for years with a mistress, who was now sixty-two 
years of age, had at last, yielding to her importunities, 
promised to marry her ; when his mistress claimed the 
fulfilment of this promise, he hanged himself rather than 
keep it 

Most cases of female suicide determined by disappoint- 
ments in love are those of young girls. Still, instances 
do occur of married women, repulsed by men they are 
running after, putting an end to themselves, in a fit of 
despair. This is what Phèdre does in Racine's play, — 
hanging herself because she is scorned by Hippolyte. 

Then again the desire for marriage, if remaining un- 


satisfied, may kad to acute despair in the case of women 
living under irregular circumstances and suffering from the 
fact In Paris especially, where this equivocal form of 
ménage is so common, when the mistress begins to see the 
number of children increasing fast, she feels an eager 
desire to regularize their status, and her own, a desire the 
lover does not always share. Hence bickerings, house- 
hold differences and much mental suffering, ending in 
some instances in the woman's suicide. In very excep- 
tional cases also shame at her degraded condition and the 
impossibility of escaping it may lead a fallen woman to 
commit suicide, even when she has no child, if she belong 
to a well-connected family. " My dreams proved im- 
possible of realization," wrote a young woman in this situa- 
tion, who had hoped to rise above her shame by marrying 
her lover ; " I shall be a dead woman when you get this 
letter. The man I thought worthy of me has deceived 
me, and I die of the blow. Pity and forgive me. Tell 
papa and mamma of my death." She then proceeded to 
smother herself by means of charcoal fumes. — Another 
mistress, before meeting her death in the same way, wrote 
to her lover, who obstinately refused to marry her : " All 
I ask you is to leave me your photograph, when you bury 
me. A long farewell from your loving mistress, who had 
hoped to be your wife." Suicides of this kind, of mistresses 
anxious to become lawful wives, but driven to despair 
because they cannot succeed in restoring their good name 
by this means, are of pretty frequent occurrence in Paris. 
Such women are hungry for respect and consideration and 
perfectly well aware of the fact that a fallen woman's re- 
habilitation is worked out not by Love, as the Novelists 
would have us believe, but by marriage and the proper 
performance of the duties it involves. It is the world's 
scorn makes them suffer ; to recover its esteem is the great 
object of their ambition. 

Women of pleasure also occasionally commit suicide. 
Courtesans are capable in very exceptional cases of so 
fond an attachment as to lead to their death. La 


Fontaine, in La Courtisane amoureuse, shows how a woman 
of this class can still sometimes be susceptible of a dis- 
interested love. He represents her as saying with touching 
humility : 

" Constance vous adore. 
Méprisez-la, chassez-la, battez-la, 
Si vous pouvez, faîtes-lui pis encore ; 
Elle est à vous." * 

We give a copy of a letter written quite lately by a 
woman of pleasure, who put an end to her own life : " You 
know, dearest, that without you my life is unendurable, 
above all since I have lost my poor little girl. Farewell, 
I loved you true. My wish is that you may be happy." 

The sort of mistresses for whose sake men kill them- 
selves have little resemblance to those I have just been 
describing; more often than not they are creatures only 
worthy of contempt. We see intelligent men fall deeply 
in love with women quite unworthy of their affection, 
which is only increased by the scorn they cannot but feel 
for them. Once a man allows his senses to govern him, 
the more he despises a woman, the more he loves ; like 
the Chevalier Desgrieux, who goes on loving Manon, 2 in 
spite, nay! perhaps because of her infidelities towards 
him, he says : 

"Je t'aimais d'autant plus que je t'estimais moins." 3 

Blinded by passion, cheated by the modest exterior and 
angel face vicious women often possess, unhappy and 
infatuated young men adore to madness contemptible 
creatures who drive them to despair. When proofs of 
unfaithfulness accumulate, they weep and lament like 
children, without having the strength of mind to break 
off the connection. If they do try to end the liaison, the 
shame of which they feel, they soon come back again, in 

1 "Constance adores you, scorn her, repulse her, beat her, do what worse 
you can to her ; she is yours in spite of all." 

* Matton Lescaut by the Abbé Prévost. 

* " I loved you all the more, the less I could respect you." 


the vain hope of inspiring an exclusive attachment in 
their fickle mistress's bosom. But this reconciliation is 
short-lived, fresh disputes arise, and a final separation 
takes place. Instead of looking upon the termination of 
so degrading an attachment as a happy release, they feel 
the parting so acutely as to come back once more, to beg 
another reconciliation ; and if this is refused, they kill 
themselves, crying : 

" Vous lirez dans mon sang à vos pieds répandu 
Ce que valait Pâmant que vous avez perdu.' 

i» i 

They hope such a proof of love as this will make their 
mistress remorseful. But no ! — all the woman sees in her 
lover's death is an act of homage due to her beauty ; her 
self-conceit is pleasantly tickled at having inspired so fine 
a frenzy of despair, and she is much obliged to the unhappy 
man for having offered so striking and public a testimony 
to the power of her charms, for of course the Papers will 
not fail to entertain their readers with this drama of love 
and suicide, which will confer a flattering celebrity on the 
heroine. There are even coquettes ready to find pleasure 
in pushing men who love them to despair, and owing them 
a grudge if they do not kill themselves. 

Love without respect is common enough. Catullus 
loved Lesbia without respecting her. Cynthia's treacheries 
failed to cure Propertius of his love. The Emperor Justinian 
chose his wife Theodora from a house of ill-fame. Des- 
grieux adored Manon; Jean-Jacques Rousseau loved 
Thérèse, and so on and so on. 

Plenty of men prefer love without respect to respect 
without love. Every day we see husbands forgiving their 
wives, not out of any magnanimity or philosophical 
tolerance, but out of simple weakness. Quite lately in 
Paris, a husband, Agent for a Commercial house, surprising 
his wife flagrante delicto in a lover's arms, takes steps in 
the first flush of his indignation to procure a Separation ; 

1 44 You will read in my blood shed at your feet what worth the lover was 
that you have lost. " Corneille, I^a GaUrit du Palais, 


yet the day he receives notice to present himself, along 
with his wife, before the Magistrate, he feels he has not the 
strength of mind, so fondly does he love her still, to see 
her again without taking her back, and ashamed of such 
weakness shoots himself through the heart. It cost him 
less pain to kill himself than to go on living without 
taking an adulterous woman back into his arms ! 

I found one day while examining the report of a 
criminal trial an expression, trivial indeed but highly 
expressive, which renders excellently at once the violence 
and the physical origin of this love which survives all 
proofs of unworthiness in the object : " I have you in my 
blood, darling, in my very skin." 

Women likewise very often separate love and respect ; 
they love men they do not respect, while they do not care 
for others they do esteem. 

"Je vous estimai plus, — je l'aimai davantage." l 

Clarissa Harlow in Richardson's Novel loves Lovelace. 
Don Juan is loved by Elvira, Charlotte, "a thousand and 
three " other women. 

If Love is irrational, the reason is that while not without 
a psychical side, it is yet closely bound up with the 
senses and has a corporeal origin. It is a passion quite 
as much physiological as intellectual, capable of being 
developed by food, perfumes, temperature, a whole host 
of physical conditions. External charms determine it far 
more than moral qualities, and this without any conscious- 
ness on the part of the lover, who believes himself all the 
time to be affected by the mental and moral attributes 
only of his inamorata. Deep down lurks the instinct of 
reproduction, a fact which lovers plunged in ecstatic 
reverie often fail to observe; when their heart is pure, 
they have no very clear conception of their real feelings, 
and imagine themselves to have none but ethereal desires, 
aspirations for the union of twin souls, and the like, while 

1 " I esteemed you the more, — I loved him the better." Corneille, Médée, 
Act. ii. Sc. 6. 


really and truly it is a case of Dame Nature inspiring 
them, without their knowing it, with the craving for a 
physical union whose object is the reproduction of the 

" Ces délires sacrés, ces désirs sans mesure, 
Déchaînés dans vos flancs comme d'ardents essaims, 
Ces transports, c'est déjà Phumanité future, 
Qui s'agite en vos seins." l 

Nature in her desire to secure before all else the continu- 
ance of the species, has multiplied the motives of sexual 
attraction, making Love dependent on the colour of the 
eyes, the abundance of the hair, the delicacy of the skin, 
the shape of the nose and a hundred other minutiae. . . . 
•• If Cleopatra's nose had been shorter," Pascal says, " the 
face of the whole World would have been changed." A 
mere nothing, a smile, a gesture, are enough to kindle a 
passion that stirs the universe." " The eyes," writes Pascal 
in another passage, "have the greater share in this." — 
"The emanations of beauty," Plato declares, "enter the 
soul by the eyes, the most subtle of the organs of sense." 
Ex aspectu nascit amor, — " Love springs from the eyes." 
A look from them captivates the heart, a smile is the 
determining factor of a man's life. 

Reason has nothing to do with the blossoming of Love ; 
it is some quite trivial motive, something at once futile 
and mysterious, that brings passion to a head : 

u Souvent je ne sais quoi qu'on ne peut exprimer 
Nous surprend, nous emporte et nous force d'aimer." J 

As the virtuous Pauline says to Sévère : 

" Un je ne sais quel charme encor vers vous m'emporte." 3 

The rapidity with which "love at first sight" often 

1 "Those sacred longings, those ineffable cravings, let loose within your 
frame like eager swarms, those transports of desire, 'tis already the humanity 
of a future day that stirs your bosom." — Madame Ackerman. 

t4i Ofttimes a mysterious something that none can express surprises us, 
carries us away and forces us to love." Corneille, Polyeucte, Act ii. Sc. 6. 

a " A mysterious charm once more impels me towards you." 


springs into existence is yet another proof to show it is 
not reason that determines it, but certain external qualities 
visible at the first glance. Virgil, Racine, Shakespeare, 
have all described this commotion produced by a look, 
the lightning stroke of love, as it is called : 

" Ut vidi, ut pcrii, ut me malus abstulit error." l 

Virgil, Eclogue, viii. 
"Je le vis, je rougis, je pâlis à sa vue." 2 Racine, Phèdre. 

From the instant of the first glance they exchange, 
Romeo and Juliet feel they belong to each other. Both 
men and women are at times struck down with love, as 
one is struck down by a disease. Dr Féré quotes one 
case in his book, where the lightning stroke was determined 
in the French King, Henri III., by an impression of the 
olfactory nerves (U Instinct sexuel, p. 129). 3 The strong 
stimulus the sense of smell may exercise over the genital 
sense is well known ; and this is why, ever since Jean- 
Jacques Rousseau, who was intensely sensitive to the 
exciting influence of perfumes, erotic novelists so often 
attribute the fall of their heroines in part to the scent of 

It would appear difficult then to share the opinion of 
Pascal, who holds that the Poets have erred in depicting 
Love as blind, inasmuch as according to him it is always 
reasonable. " It is ill done to have robbed Love of the 
title of Reason," he says ; " the two have been quite 
unwarrantably contrasted one with the other, seeing that 
Love and Reason are but one and the same thing." As 
a matter of fact, so little is Love the same thing as Reason, 
so near akin is it to Unreason, that we say of a man 
deeply in love that he is mad with love, that he loves to 
distraction. Love is so subversive of reason, that a man 
of sense is recognised to be in love, when he begins to 
commit follies ; 

1 " I saw, I was undone, in an instant a fatal frenzy carried me away." 

2 " I saw him, I blushed red, I grew pale at sight of him." 

8 L'Institut sexuel. ("The Sexual Instinct") Evolution. Dissolution. 
Paris, F. Alcan. 


44 L'amour et la raison sont ennemis jurés." l — (La Veuve.) 
M Vouloir que la raison règne sur un amant 
C'est être plus que lui dedans l'aveuglement." 2 

The Poets then have not done wrong to represent Love 
under the guise of a boy with a bandage over the eyes. 
It is this blindness that accounts for the follies, suicides, 
murders and crimes of every kind Love is responsible for. 
While it costs some their reason, others lose life and yet 
others honour. Unless Love brought about a species of 
blindness, should we see so many young men ruin, dis- 
honour and even kill themselves for the sake of unworthy 
mistresses, — so many young girls sacrifice their good name 
and expose themselves in unlicensed intrigues to the chance 
of a pregnancy that may bring them to shame, abortion, 
infanticide or suicide, and hurry them from the arms of 
their parents to the bar of a Criminal Court or the slabs of 
the Morgue, — so many married women become adulteresses 
or even poisoners, — so many mothers forget their children 
to fly with a lover, who is often a contemptible scoundrel, 
and will forsake them in their turn, — so many men turn 
cowards, traitors, swindlers, thieves, forgers, murderers, to 
satisfy the caprices of a mistress who will one day betray 
them, and maintain at the price of crime a precarious hold 
over a woman, neither prettier nor more agreeable than 
the rest of her sex ? How many times do the Magistrates 
whose office it is to question criminals hear the latter 
exclaim : " Ah ! women ! women ! It is the love of women 
has been our ruin ! " Some years ago, questioning a young 
man of education and intelligence, who had just been con- 
demned to death for theft and murder, I asked him how 
he had come to such a pass. "Tis love of women has 
brought me to this," was his unhesitating answer. 

Love blinds men so completely it can render the wisest 
of them fools, humble the proudest at a woman's feet, rob 
the strongest of their might, the cleverest of their wits, the 

1 " Love and Reason are sworn foes." 

* "To imagine Reason sways a lover's mind, is to be further gone in blind* 
nets than he." Corneille, Andromède. 



most prudent of their virtue. The most beautiful and 
high-born ladies suffer themselves to be seduced by men 
who are both ugly and vulgar. 

This insane infatuation was symbolized in Antiquity by 
the legend of Pasiphaé, who albeit she had a king for her 
husband, became madly enamoured of a bull. The wild 
passion Mary Stuart conceived for Bothwell is familiar to 
all readers of history, though the latter was ill-favoured 
and brutal and often ill-treated her, to the point of making 
her wish for death, yet without curing the Queen of her 
infatuation. So great was her attachment that she used 
to say, " she would give up without a moment's hesitation 
France, England and her own country, and follow Bothwell 
to the end of the world clad in a white petticoat rather 
than be parted from him." * Her correspondence reveals 
her submitting to her lover's wishes even to the extent of 
doing a crime at his orders. When Bothwell bids her seek 
out the King her husband and entice him into a lonely 
palace, where it will be easy to murder him, she goes on 
the vile errand. Women enamoured of men unworthy of 
them themselves recognize this unworthiness, but they say 
like Mary Tudor in Victor Hugo : " I know quite enough 
all you are going to tell me, that he is a villain, a coward 
and a wretch ; I know it as well as you do and blush for 
it, but I love him, — what would you have me do ? " These 
attachments to vulgar fellows, actors, mountebanks and 
the like, often arise from physiological reasons. In all 
ages great ladies have been found frantically in love with 
men of the people, Bohemians, servants. Already in the 
eighteenth century Gilbert wrote : 

"J'aurais pu te montrer nos duchesses fameuses 
Tantôt d'un histrion amantes scandaleuses 
Fières de ses soupirs obtenus à grand prix, 
Elles-mêmes aux railleurs dénonçant leurs maris." * 

1 Mignet, vol. i., p. 316. 

8 " I might have shown you our high-born Duchesses, now shameful 
mistresses of an actor, proud of his sighs won at such a price, themselves 
denouncing their husbands to the mockery of their lovers. " 


Mountebanks and acrobats, like the gladiators of old, 
frequently inspire with a mad passion not only -women of 
vicious life, but even virtuous and modest girls belonging 
to respectable families. Here is an instance : a certain 
Matracia, condemned to death some years ago at the 
Assize Court of the Department of the Bouches-du-Rhône 
and executed at Marseilles, an acrobat, was already a man 
of fifty- four, and a widower, having killed his first wife by his 
cruelty (in a scene of furious jealousy he had bitten her 
nose off and then exposed her. in a state of nudity at the 
window), when he seduced a pretty girl of Marseilles of 
twenty-two, belonging to a highly respectable family of 
watchmakers. He had carried her off and married her in 
spite of all the precautions taken by her family. Some 
time afterwards, the acrobat having killed for some quite 
trivial motive his mother and sister-in-law, whom he 
had never forgiven for the opposition they had shown 
to his marriage, his wife who was an eye-witness of 
this double murder, still madly in love with him, fol- 
lowed him in his flight, all covered as he was with 
the blood of her mother and sister, without taking 
the time even to raise the unhappy victims from the 
ground where they lay dying, stabbed by the ferocious 

Beauty is not a sine qua non for the excitation of this 
amorous fascination. The Comte de Chamilly, who in- 
spired the pious authoress of the Lettres portugaises with 
so violent a passion, was so dull and heavy a fellow, " that 
to see and hear him," Saint-Simon declares, " no one could 
ever have believed him capable of inspiring so extravagant 
a love as that which is the soul of these famous Lettres 

Plain women may nevertheless inspire violent love. I 
have myself seen a curious case of a husband who was 
madly in love with his wife who was a hunchback and a 
cripple. When the latter ran away from him, he wept 
scalding tears like a child and fell fainting under the 
severity of the blow. 


" Tout est mystère dans l'amour. 
Ce n'est pas l'affaire d'un jour 
Que d'épuiser cette science." l — {La Fontaine.) 

Love claims its victims at all ages, but more especially 
among the young. Love has its age, in spite of what 
Pascal says, who holds that " love is ageless, it is always 
being born afresh." But in exceptional instances it may 
spring up in the heart of a man of ripe years or even in 
that of an old woman ; Mme. du Defiant was seventy when 
she conceived a violent passion for Walpole. But, except 
in rare and exceptional cases, Love is the passion of youth, 
as ambition is that of maturity. 

When a young girl commits suicide, it is almost invari- 
ably owing to an unhappy love affair. Suicides of young 
people are very frequent as the result of thwarted affection. 
For many years past the number of such suicides has been 
on the increase. 2 For instance, in the year 1892 there 
were, from various causes, 87 cases of suicide of minors 
under sixteen, and 475 of minors between the ages of six- 
teen and twenty-one, whereas in 1880 these figures stood at 
55 and 267 respectively. Suicides for love on the part of 
minors are not classified separately in the statistics pub- 
lished by the Ministry of Justice, but since perusing, as I 
have done, all the officiai reports preserved in the Bureau 
of the Public Prosecutor of the Department of the Seine, I 
am convinced that these represent a considerable figure out 
of the total number. 

The precocity of young people of the present day in 
matters of love and licence has produced a corresponding 
precocity in suicide. Cases of suicide for love occur at 
sixteen, fifteen and even earlier ages. The fierce emotions 
of love and jealousy are too strong for children of this 

1 " All is mystery in Love. 'Tis not the business of a day to exhaust this 

8 The total of suicides which had for a long period followed an upward 
course, fell again in 1893. It increased again in 1894, but once more fell in 
1895, the date of the latest statistics available. In the latter year it decreased 
from 9,703 to 9,253. 


tender age, and shatter them ; unable to bear the pain, 
they kill themselves. But persons of mature and even 
advanced age also commit suicide from the same motives. 
Men of fifty and sixty lay violent hands on themselves 
because they are repulsed by young girls whose affections 
they try to win. Women of forty and fifty seek a voluntary 
death, because they are scorned by young men with whom 
they have fallen in love. Quite lately a woman of forty- 
two was found hanged on a tree in the Wood of Clamart, 
with a letter in her pocket declaring the motives of her 
desperate act. It ran as follows : 

" I am forty-two years of age, and an unhappy and 
desperate woman. My lover has left me. Ah ! if only I 
had known him when I was twenty, I should not be putting 
an end to myself to-day. 

" I wish to be buried just as I am, without being un- 
dressed, or exposed at the Morgue, not to shame my 
family, which is very respectable. 

u 1 was not born vicious, but I had no trustworthy 
support to rely upon. I was considered pretty ; the 
downward path was rapid, and I followed it only too 
quickly. May I be forgiven. 

"Alas and alas! I loved him fondly, he has such a 
good heart ! Had they not made me appear so vile in 
his eyes, he would have rehabilitated my good name. 

"Farewell to all my family. Forgive me. Peace to 
my ashes. Tis wrong to despise the dead ; they have 
paid their debt to society. 

" How bitterly I suffer ! I might be already dead." 

To make quite sure of success, the unhappy woman had 
drunk nitric acid before hanging herself. 

Some further examples. A seamstress of thirty-three, 
very respectable and industrious, falls suddenly in love 
with a young locksmith of the same neighbourhood ; she 
hopes he will come and propose for her, but he never 
does, and she poisons herself. — A man of forty, possessed 
apparently of everything needful for happiness, excellent 
health, a handsome fortune, several country houses, ex- 


périences the most acute grief at his failure to marry a 
young lady he is in love with. He never leaves off re- 
peating to his mother, who lives with him : " I am terribly 
unhappy ! I cannot bear my life any longer ; " till one 
evening, after supping with his mother, he goes up to his 
room and there kills himself. 

Suicide resulting from disappointed love is as a rule 
premeditated ; the idea becomes more and more persistent 
as the mental agony increases. A struggle ensues between 
the longing to escape the pain which has now grown un- 
bearable on the one hand and the instinct of self-preserva- 
tion and the family affections on the other, motives still 
attaching the sufferer to life. 

"Jeannette mine, I am going to blow out my poor 
brains. Don't think I do so in a moment of temporary 
insanity; I have made up my mind long ago. Good- 
bye! I have only another quarter of an hour to. live; it 
is now a quarter past eight, at the half-hour all will be 

" Accept my last kiss. 

" I tremble, but I am not afraid." 

In a number of letters and documents left behind by 
suicides, I find this confession of nervous trembling, which 
indeed is manifested plainly enough by the handwriting, 
which becomes more and more irregular towards the last 
words. The desperate man whose letter I have quoted 
just above, fighting against this trembling, declares he is 
not afraid ; while others avow the terror to which they are 
a prey. Finishing a letter to his parents, a young man 
who is on the point of killing himself out of disappointed 
love, adds : " I must bid farewell, for I begin to tremble ; 
in these my last moments I am afraid, and I believe it is 
for the first time in my life." — In some cases there is much 
hesitation as the supreme moment approaches, and in- 
tending suicides will wander all day long about the banks 
of the river before finally throwing themselves into its 
waters. — Some women are strong enough to offer a long 
resistance to the temptation to commit suicide, and only 


yield to it after several months' time. Others give in 
sooner, after a vain struggle extending over weeks or days. 
Yet others succumb to a sudden access of despair ; after 
some scene of jealousy and recrimination, women of a 
nervous temperament suddenly throw themselves from the 
window or into the water. Take an example. A young 
student was living with a young workwoman, when he 
received a visit from a former mistress. A violent quarrel 
broke out between the two women, and the student in 
order to calm them, told them he loved them both, but 
that henceforth, to prevent all jealousy, he would see 
neither the one nor the other. So far were these words 
from restoring peace, that one of the two instantly declared 
she was ready to sacrifice herself and rushed towards the 
door to hurl herself down the stairs. The young man 
darted after her, caught her up and made her come back 
again. But meantime the other work-girl pushed a chair 
to the window, climbed over the balcony and threw herself 
into space. Suchlike cases of jumping out of windows are 
very common in Paris, especially after quarrels between 
lovers and on the part of jealous women. These women, 
after threatening their husband or lover that they will 
throw vitriol in their face, will suddenly turn their fury on 
themselves and hurl themselves out of the window. 

Suicides by charcoal fumes, by hanging and fire-arms 
are more premeditated than those by drowning or jumping 
out of window, for they require more preparation beforehand. 
At the same time the presence of a weapon within reach 
may suddenly rouse the idea of suicide, as in the following 
instance. A young man of wealth is anxious to marry a 
poor girl, a match his family are strongly opposed to ; to 
overcome their objections, he threatens to kill himself, 
though without any intention of doing so really, and 
flourishes a pistol about to frighten them. In the course 
of the interview, he flies into a passion, grows exhausted by 
his own violence, and finally quits the room angry and 
exasperated at the refusal he has met with. At this 
moment feeling the revolver in his pocket, he pulls it out 


and shoots himself. — Suicides of young men are, I believe, 
less deliberate than those of young girls ; they are very 
often done on the spur of the moment, as in the following 
case. A young man says to his mistress : " You wish to 
leave me ? " " You really wish to leave me ? " — " Yes ! '* 
the woman replies, " I want no more of you." Instantly 
the young man takes out a razor and cuts his throat 

The general belief is that anyone who survives an 
attempted suicide feels no desire whatever to begin again. 
Nevertheless we see plenty of instances where unhappy 
lovers, even young girls sometimes, when rescued from 
death, refuse all remedies, openly express regret that their 
lives have been saved, and repeat their attempt at the first 
opportunity. They display remarkable energy too in 
accomplishing their purpose. One such, after drinking 
poison, hangs himself to hasten his death ; the rope breaks, 
but he only begins again. These determined suicides 
repeat their attempt by the most varied methods or some- 
times by the same over again. If hanging or poisoning 
fail, they light a brazier of charcoal ; if this fail, they jump 
into the river ; if they are rescued from a watery grave, 
they try poison again. A seamstress who had twice already 
attempted to poison herself, but had been brought back to 
life, took poison for the third time and refused to drink an 

A young shop-assistant who killed himself by means of 
charcoal fumes, left the following behind him : " I have 
tried to poison myself, but without success ; perhaps I shall 
have better luck to-day." — A young girl, who had already 
tried to drown and poison herself, makes yet another 
attempt, after first writing this note : " When you read this 
letter, I shall be dead. This time I do not mean to fail. 
I hoped you would return ; I waited till ten o'clock, the 
hour at which I am now dissolving the poison I am going 
to drink. My sufferings will soon be over; buy flowers 
for my grave. Tis my birthday ; good-bye ! " She had 
just swallowed the poison, when her lover came in ; show- 
ing him the phial she had emptied, she cried : " Look ! I 


have kept my word." A few hours later she breathed her 
last. — After trying to hang herself in her diadem or head- 
band, Monime exclaims in Racine's play : 

" D'autres armes sur toi, sauront me secourir. ,, l 

A woman of pleasure throws herself into a river, in 
despair after a love disappointment. Rescued by a soldier, 
she takes him for her lover, but after a while returns to her 
intention of committing suicide and puts it into execution. 

Intending suicides seek such means of killing themselves 
as are most rapid and involve the least possible amount 
of pain. Afraid of failure and dreading to survive the 
attempt, they sometimes resort to several methods in 
succession ; very often they take poison first and then 
proceed to smother themselves with charcoal fumes. 

The instruments of suicide differ according to sex. 
Women who are so ready to avenge themselves on rivals 
by disfigurement, dread wounds for themselves which have 
the same effect ; they prefer such modes of death as avoid 
convulsive spasms at the moment of dissolution and mutila- 
tion of the person. Wishing to preserve their beauty even 
in death, they generally shrink from using fire-arms, which 
disfigure the face. 

In 1888, out of 597 suicides by means of fire-arms, 563 
were men, and only 34 women. Women prefer charcoal 
fumes, drowning, hanging or poison. A woman who 
poisoned herself had previously written to one of her 
friends, begging her to come as quickly as possible and 
see to her funeral, to save her from the inquisitive eyes 
of strangers, because she said she hated people to see 
her looking ugly. 

The charcoal brazier appeals to women as a means of 
suicide, as being handy and allowing them to wait death 
lying on their bed. 

Drowning is another of their favourite methods ; 

"Dans la profonde mer Œnone s'est lancée." 2 

1 " Other arms you wear may yet avail to help." 
9 •' Into the deep sea Œnone has thrown herself." 


In Antiquity, the Leucadian rock from which unhappy 
lovers threw themselves into the sea is remembered to this 
day. Horace tells us how despairing suicides used to leap 
by crowds into the Tiber from the summit of the Fabrician 
Bridge. In our day the bridges of the Seine, the Rhône 
and other rivers have taken the place of the Leucadian 
rock and the Fabrician Bridge for intending suicides who 
do not live by the sea. Rivers, the waters of which are 
clear and rapid, seem to tempt those bent on self-destruc- 
tion more than streams having a slow and turbid current ; 
where the choice is open, they select the former. Thus at 
Lyons more suicides take place in the Rhône than in the 

Women who feel a repugnance to water resort to hanging 
or poison. Many poets make their heroines die by hang- 
ing. In a tragedy of Euripides Leda hangs herself, and 
Sophocles describes J ocas ta as perishing by the same 
means. In Mithridate, Racine represents Monime as at- 
tempting her life by hanging. 

" Et toi, fatal tissu, malheureux diadème, 
Instrument et témoin de toutes mes douleurs, 
Bandeau, que mille fois j'ai trempé de mes pleurs, 
Au moins en terminant ma vie et mon supplice, 
Ne pouvais-tu me rendre un funeste service ? w l 

The motives deciding women to make use of poison are 
the same which moved Cleopatra, who after instituting 
a number of experiments upon her slaves in order to study 
the effects of various poisons, eventually chose the bite 
of an asp, on the ground that this was followed neither 
by convulsions nor pain at the last moment. Parisian 
suicides, both men and women, very often employ cyanide 
of potassium, which is used in the workrooms to clean 
jewellery with. Opportunity determines the choice of this 
poison, the fact that it is ready to the workwomen's hand. 

1 *' And thou, fatal web, unhappy diadem, instrument and witness of all my 
griefs, fillet that binds my brow and which a thousand times I have wetted 
with my tears, — couldst not now at least, when I am ending life and suffer- 
ings together, couldst not render me this last dismal office ? " 


There is a fashion in ways of suicide as in everything 
else. In Tacitus' day men opened their veins; and the 
Roman Historian mentions with scorn the case of a victim 
of proscription who had drowned himself in the Tiber. 
One form of suicide is deemed noble, another common and 
vulgar. For some years now the pistol has been adopted 
by women more frequently than it used to be, having been 
brought into vogue by several much-talked-of instances of 
double suicides committed by this means. But women 
always find the disfigurement caused by fire-arms repug- 
nant to them ; a girl who killed herself together with her 
lover by means of a pistol, writing to one of her female 
friends to announce her intended suicide, declared, " The 
thing that grieves me, is to spoil my face." Occasionally 
after taking poison a woman discovers she has not drunk 
a sufficient dose, so lays hold of a pistol to make an end. 
I have also verified some cases of suicide by fire-arms 
occurring in a carriage. Here is an instance. On October 
31st, 1896, a young woman of twenty-five, elegantly dressed 
was seen crossing the Pont de Solférino in Paris, her face 
exhibiting evident signs of grief ; presently she hailed and 
got into a passing cab. The vehicle had barely advanced 
a few yards when the driver heard an explosion ; on de- 
scending from the box, he found the young woman lying 
on the seat of the cab and vomiting blood. She had just 
aimed a revolver bullet at her heart, after partly unfastening 
dress and stays. " Kill me, put an end to me," she cried 
repeatedly to the crowd which had collected ; " put me out 
of my pain." She was conveyed to a hospital, but refused 
to answer any questions, only saying: "Let me die in 
peace; I would rather die." It was not long before she 
breathed her last. She was a country governess ; and the 
following letter was found upon her : " Dearest, I love you 
too fondly, and would have you all to myself. I have 
struggled till I can no more. I am ill and broken-hearted. 
All reasons urge me to leave you ; love me and forgive 
me, farewell ! " 

Men hesitate between different forms of suicide, seeking 


the one that will cause them least pain ; some will first of 
all determine to drown themselves and direct their steps 
to a river, then presently change their mind and go home 
and hang themselves. Fire-arms are the weapons preferred 
by men, especially by sportsmen and soldiers, who always 
have a gun or a revolver handy. Young men often go in 
for suicide by shooting after a scene of mad dissipation. 
Sailors prefer drowning. In sea-port towns this last 
method is common among all classes of society. If a 
sailor does choose the pistol, he goes to the sea-shore to 
kill himself. The following is a case in point, where the 
unhappy lover announced his intention in a letter he left 
behind conceived in these terms : " Three o'clock in the 
morning. I have slept soundly, and night bringing re- 
flection, I have determined to kill myself on the pier, 
beside the sea on which I have spent half my life." 

Thoughts of dress by no means desert a woman when 
she is making her preparations for suicide. A girl adorns 
herself for death as for a fête day. When Cleopatra had 
resolved to seek a voluntary death, she had her hair 
dressed, donned her finest raiment and placed the Crown 
Royal on her head. Nor are young work-girls less vain 
than the Egyptian Queen ; they wish to be pretty even 
in death, in the first place to please themselves, and 
secondly, to make the faithless lover sorry for what he has 
lost. When a poor girl commits suicide in consequence 
of an engagement broken off or a promise of marriage 
forgotten, she puts on to die in the costume she had got 
ready for her wedding day or fondly dreamed of wearing 
on that occasion ; she dons the white frock, which very 
often she has embroidered with her own hands, and throws 
the veil over her head, then lies down on her bed of death 
as on a nuptial couch, fain to be as pretty when dying 
as she had dreamed to be fair in church and at the dance 
for the man who has scorned her. A girl who was found 
dead dressed in a white wedding-dress and holding a book 
of devotion in her hands, had traced these lines before 
killing herself by means of charcoal fumes : " I want M. G." 


(the man who had jilted her) " to see me as I lie dead." — 
Another young girl, who had drowned herself, had been 
careful to write down what her wishes were as to the way 
they were to dress her and to point out the place where 
she had put the wedding veil she had bought. — Another 
girl of sixteen went out to get flowers, saying to a neigh- 
bour on her return : " Do you see my bouquet ? but you 
don't know what it is for." The woman paid no particular 
attention to the remark at the time ; but the same evening 
when the girl's lover came back from the factory, he found 
his sweetheart stretched dead upon her bed, dressed in 
white and surrounded by flowers. — Moreover when a 
young girl commits suicide, she is filled with thoughts 
of her funeral. A work-girl of nineteen finding herself 
pregnant threw herself in despair from a fourth floor 
window. Throughout the day preceding her suicide the 
neighbours were struck by her melancholy looks and 
nervous trembling. She spoke repeatedly of death, saying 
that if she were to die, at any rate she would have white 
funeral trappings. This wish for a fine funeral is con- 
stantly found among women under similar circumstances. 
I have noted the same thing in the case of a Magistrate, 
who confessed to having eagerly desired the red gown 
that it might be laid over his coffin, as also in an Officer 
of high rank, who before putting an end to himself, took 
off his ordinary clothes in order to don his uniform. 

In the choice of the garments she assumes for her death, 
women are influenced by fond recollections connected with 
the articles in question. " I wish them," wrote a work-girl, 
" to put on me the hat that lies on my table." — " I wish," 
said another young girl, " to be left in the same clothes 
I shall be wearing at my death ; my lace frock, it will be 
almost the identical costume I used to wear when I knew 

M ; I beseech them to let me keep it on for that 

reason." — Virgil had noticed this trait as characteristic of 
women who commit suicide from despair at disappointed 
love ; he describes Dido as putting on and mournfully 
gazing at the garments she had worn when she was happy. 


" Ce lit, ces vêtements si connus à ses yeux, 
Suspendent un moment ses transports furieux. 
Sur ces chers monuments, ce portrait et ces armes 
Pensive, elle s'arrête et répand quelques larmes." * 

I found the same tender recollections that moved the 
Queen of Carthage, actuating a Parisian workman for 
the garments which recalled the best days of his life. 
Having lost his wife by consumption, he killed himself a 
month afterwards by means of charcoal fumes, and was 
found dressed in the clothes he had worn on his wedding- 
day. He had placed on his bosom wrapped in newspaper 
the necktie and shirt studs his wife had given him on that 
day. — A lover deserted by his mistress begged before 
killing himself that the ring he wore might be left on 
his finger as a souvenir of the faithless one. — "I wish, 
Lottchen," writes Werther, when informing her of his last 
wishes, " I wish to be buried in the clothes I am now 
wearing. Your hand has touched them ; they are sacred." 
{Letter LX XVI IL) 

Lovers again often desire to have buried with them 
objects that have belonged to their beloved, her photo- 
graph, the love letters they have received from her. 
Women put these letters in their bosom. They ask like- 
wise for flowers to be placed on their tomb, a rose or a 
bunch of violets in their hands. 

Despairing lovers as a rule wish to die on the same 
spot where they have loved. I have found this desire 
expressed in the letters of simple working-men, so natural 
is it The places that witnessed their love remain graven 
on their memory, and they love to call up the image of 

To kill herself, a woman will choose the spot where she 
has been happy, the bed where she has lain beside him 
she loved. In Sophocles' play of the Traehiniœ, Deianira 
enters the chamber of Hercules to kill herself there ; after 

1 " This bed, these garments so familiar to her eyes, suspend for an instant 
the transports of her frenzy. Pondering on these fond memorials, his portrait 
and his arms, she tarries and sheds some tears." 


throwing her husband's garments on the nuptial bed, she 
lays herself on the same spot, crying : " Oh ! nuptial couch, 
farewell for ever. You will never more see me rest here." 
Like the heroine of the Greek poet, to-day as of old, — 
for is not the human heart ever the same? — women often 
come to die in the room, on the bed of their lover, in his 
absence ; if they find the door locked, they get in if needs be 
by breaking it open or climbing in at the window. When 
unable to enter the old room they once occupied, they 
will die outside its threshold or somewhere near at hand. 
" I am dying near you," wrote a forsaken woman, who 
had come to a house close to her lover's residence to kill 
herself there. ..." I send you a thousand kisses before 
I die. I love you still. My last thoughts and my last 
tears are for you." 

A country girl jilted by her fiancé \ drowned herself in 
the fountain which had been witness to the oaths of 
eternal affection which they had exchanged, but which 
she alone remembered. — Men whose imaginations are less 
romantic and their sensibility less delicate, do not attach 
the same importance to their choice of the spot where 
they propose to lay hands on themselves. Most usually 
the unhappy lover prefers to kill himself at the feet or 
outside the door of his mistress. 

" Le désespoir le fit courir 
A la porte de l'inhumaine . . . 
J'espérais, cria-t-il, expirer à vos yeux." * 

He hopes to melt her heart or stir a feeling of remorse. 
But the woman who has ceased to love, after uttering a 
scream of physical terror at the horrid sight, steps over the 
corpse and away to her pleasures. She has no wish to 
weep over a dead man, she much prefers laughing with 
the living. 

Women who have been forsaken also sometimes experi- 
ence the desire to go and kill themselves at the feet of 
their faithless lover. " I have many a time told you I 

1 "Despair made him hasten to the cruel one's door. ... I hope, he 
cried, to die before your eyes." 


shall never have another lover but you," writes a girl who 

has been jilted. I will wait for you at X , and 

ask you whether you wish me to come back with you. 
If you say yes! you will make me very happy; if no! 
I intend to die at your feet." Jealous wives who have 
run away or have been turned out again often come to 
put an end to themselves before their husband's house; 
they wish to make him a witness of their death. 

Suicides from love are much less frequent in the country 
than in towns. Though the agricultural population is 
much more numerous than the industrial, two or three 
times more suicides are found among the latter than among 
the former. Thus in 1880, 23 cases of suicide resulting 
from disappointed love were noted committed by persons 
engaged in agriculture as against 66 by individuals belong- 
ing to the industrial classes, in 1890, 35 as against 88, 
in 1 89 1, 44 as against 139. The reasons are obvious. 
Peasants, who read few novels, hardly ever go to the 
theatre or hear passionate music, develop their muscles 
rather than their nervous system by the manual labour 
they accomplish in the open air; they are calmer, more 
judicious, better balanced than the men of cities; the 
peace of the open country enters into their hearts and is 
an anodyne to their sorrows. In large towns on the 
contrary the feverish activity there prevalent, the sedentary 
life, the abuse of highly-spiced reading, the taste for erotic 
music and literature, the habit of theatre-going, the over 
refinements of civilization, all tend to develop sensuality 
and sensibility at the cost of quiet reasonableness. 

Then again in all large cities, Paris above all, the 
conditions under which women live are going from bad 
to worse, marriage becoming more and more difficult for 
them and longer and longer postponed, irregular liaisons 
growing more frequent and giving rise to constant ruptures. 
Paris has been called the hell of horses, the purgatory 
of husbands, and the paradise of women ; x but to judge 

1 This was a proverbial saying as long ago as the seventeenth century. 
In his Suite du Menteur (Act ii. Sc. 1), Corneille makes Lyse say : 


by the number of the last-named who commit suicide 
there, it is more of a hell than a heaven for them. As 
a matter of fact, of the whole number of suicides for love 
in Paris, the proportion of women exceeds that of men. 
Indeed, suicide on the part of women forsaken by their 
lovers is growing so common in that city that within the 
last two or three years a girl of seventeen, wishing to 
poison herself in consequence of a disappointment in love, 
begged one of her female friends to get her some poison, 
and the latter made no sort of difficulty about doing so. 
As the quantity provided was insufficient, the intending 
suicide despatched another friend to a druggist's to obtain 
some more. The two friends stood by quietly while she 
swallowed the poison, looking upon the thing as quite a 
matter of course, and calmly watched her dying struggles 
without a thought of calling in a doctor. About the same 
date (July 1897) four young women stifled themselves all 
together in one room with charcoal fumes, saying they 
were tired of existence and wanted to be rid of the 
troubles and vexations of their life. Among them was 
a young workwoman, who was pregnant and had been 
forsaken by her lover. 

The writings left behind them by suicides deserve par- 
ticular attention, inasmuch as they enable us to diagnose 
accurately the moral character of suicide and discover 
whether it is or is not a form of criminality. According 
to some writers on crime, suicide and homicide are to be 
referred to one and the same physiological and psycho- 
logical condition ; they are, so these thinkers maintain, 
only different forms of the same degeneracy, the same 
immorality. I believe myself, on the other hand, that 
if there are some suicides as guilty as murderers, there 
are others that should inspire a profound feeling of 
compassion, nay ! even in certain cases sympathy and 

" II est riche et de plus il demeure à Paris, 
Où des dames, dit-on, est le vrai paradis." 

— " He is rich and what is more he lives in Paris, where they say is the true 
Pmdise of ladies." 


esteem, — though without this in any way implying approba- 
tion of their conduct Can anyone regard as an act of im- 
morality the suicide of a workman who, betrothed to a 
girl he loves and who loves him, kills himself on discover- 
ing himself to be consumptive, with the words: "being 
threatened with tuberculosis and being unwilling to marry 
under these circumstances, I think it better to kill myself"? 
The motives of suicide are so complex and varied, and 
differ so widely in different instances, it is impossible to 
judge all cases by the same standard. Some kill them- 
selves from cowardice, others from devotion. 

Doubtless among suicides are to be found criminals, 
madmen, fanatics, men of morbid, nervous, hysterical 
organization and weak mind, but also refined and tender 
hearts, — hearts too tender, too sensitive. Such as kill 
themselves for disappointed love may be of morbid con- 
stitution and over-tender susceptibility, but they entertain 
none of the anti-social sentiments characteristic of the 
criminal ; they are but victims of their unsatisfied cravings 
after love and tenderness. This tenderness shines in the 
most touching light through all they write ; their letters 
are full of delicate, disinterested, lofty feeling, for their 
parents and family, their friends, and even for those who 
have occasioned their present despair. As a rule they 
bear no grudge for the cruelty, indifference and treachery 
that have caused them such agony. To the last they 
express nothing but love towards those who love them 
not, they wish nothing but happiness for those who have 
wrought their misery. The woman who is killing herself 
because she has been forsaken, cannot bring herself to 
hate the faithless wretch who is responsible for her death-. 
The lover who is committing suicide because he has been 
betrayed, pardons with his last breath the woman to whom 
he owes his doom. I have before me a very large number 
of letters written by persons who have put an end to 
themselves for love ; as I cannot quote them all, I will 
copy a few only as examples of the rest : 

"My darling Alice," writes a sailor to a girl who had 


refused him ; " let me call you so for the last time, 
for when you receive this letter, I shall be a corpse. 
The heart that beat only for you will be pierced by 
a bullet. 

" I shall not fail, my hand will be steady ; the grief I 
suffer assures me of this, for I shall be rid of this and my 
life together. 

" All I take with me is a lock of hair and some flowers 
— memorials of happier days. 

u Be happy, Alice ; this is my only wish for you, and 
receive the last kisses of one who loved you so well, he 
dies for your sake." 

" From the first day I saw you would not be my husband," 
writes a woman who had been engaged in an irregular 
liaison of which she was ashamed, " I have had but one 
thought, to die ! If I cannot be your wife, at least I will 
end my present pain. I forgive you from my heart, and 
my last thought will be for you." 

Among a thousand letters I have read, I have only once 
met with bitter words directed against the faithless lover, 
and in that case we must add that the woman had thought 
of killing him before putting an end to herself. " If I do 

not succeed in killing M ," she writes, " I ask that he 

may be confronted with my corpse, if I die. Death inspires 
the meanest wretch with sentiments of awe and terror, and 
I want him to feel some remorse at any rate for his villainy." 
The letters of women deserted and of disappointed lovers 
who commit suicide invariably end with words of love and 
forgiveness. The only angry expressions occasionally found 
are addressed to stern parents who have opposed their union 
and so led to their despair. " I shall kill myself within the 
hour, and you will have my death on your conscience," 
writes a young man to the father of the girl who had 
refused him. 

Despairing lovers do not forget their parents when dying 
by their own hand ; we constantly find them writing to 
aunts or cousins, begging these to come and console their 
grief and live with them. A young girl wrote to her friend : 


4 1 beseech you, directly you hear of my death, hasten to 
my father " (she was an only daughter) ; " comfort him, make 
him understand it was better for me to die, as L could 
never have endured my pain ; if I had lived, I should* have 
fallen into some wasting sickness or a brain fever. . . . Let 
no one accuse my father or my brother of want of fore- 
sight. When M showed too marked attentions to- 
wards me, they did say some words of warning, but I 
promptly reassured them, for I did not at that time fore- 
see myself that the attachment then just beginning would 
assume such proportions later on. Both felt confidence 
in me, for the past was a guarantee for my future con- 
duct; hitherto I had manifested so little susceptibility 
to love, they thought me superior to all feminine weak- 
nesses ; my cheerful, but at the same time haughty, dis- 
position made them feel quite secure." The same young 
girl, writing directions for the distribution of various 
souvenirs among her female friends asked that one of 
these should be given a little frame of black velvet which 
hung at her bed's head and contained her mother's hair. 
" She can put into the same frame," she writes, " her own 
much regretted mother's hair. . . . We both felt the same 
fond affection for our dear lost ones ; she will understand 
me perhaps better than anyone, for God has tried us both 
with the same bereavement." 

These two or three letters I have quoted, full as they 
are of tender and refined feeling, are amply sufficient in 
my opinion to prove that the unhappy beings who kill 
themselves for love, so far from being criminals, are more 
often than not good-hearted and affectionate creatures, 
only too loving and too sensitive. It is the very excess 
of their love and tender-heartedness that makes the grief 
of not being loved or of not being united tQ the object 
of their passion intolerable to them ; it is the craving for 
affection, eating out their hearts with unsatisfied desire, 
that plunges them in despair and disgusts them with life. 
To this excess of sensitiveness they join a lack of sufficient 
will power. They feel too keenly and suffer too acutely, 


without possessing the force of mind to bear the suffering. 
They are creatures of too emotional an organization, often 
sufferers from neurasthenia and hysteria. A man of sound 
organization and strong will may meet with a great 
sorrow, but he will bear up against it and not kill him- 
self ; a man of ill-balanced temperament, excessive sensi- 
tiveness and feeble will, is crushed under the weight of 
sorrow and shirks the pain by committing suicide. The 
thought of suicide soon becomes a fixed idea, a " pos- 
session by the Evil One," in persons of degenerate type 
hereditarily ; it is a symptom of mental debility. Notions 
of suicide are very common in hysteria, and it is now well 
known that hysteria affects men as well as women, and 
is not, as was long supposed to be the case, an exclusively 
féminine complaint. In one word, a physiological predis- 
position must be present over and above a disappoint- 
ment in loye to determine suicide. 



. " Et jusque dans la tombe il est doux de s'unir." * — Corneille. 

The analysis I have attempted of Love in the foregoing 
chapter has clearly shown the fact that lovers experience 
a craving to be one, "the twain to make one flesh," to 
adopt the powerful language of Scripture. Unless this 
craving is satisfied, unless they can be united and live 
always together, they are so unhappy they prefer death 
to separation. Unable to be united in life, they are fain 
to be joined together in death ; they say with Corneille : 

" Si l'hymen n'a pu joindre nos corps, 
Nous joindrons nos esprits, nous joindrons nos deux morts." * 

When a lover who has lost his betrothed kills himself, 
it is that he may rejoin her in the tomb ; he thinks death 
will bring them together once more ; 

" Et si dans le tombeau le ciel permet qu'on aime, 
Dans le fond du tombeau je l'aimerai de même." 3 

To go on living, when she is dead, seems an impossi- 
bility to him ; he must follow her even in the grave. This 
longing for union in death has been described by Ovid 
in the suicide of Pyramus and Thisbé. Pyramus believing 
mistakenly that Thisbé is dead, betakes himself to the 
tree they had designated for their tryst, carrying with him 

1 " Yea ! even in the tomb 'tis sweet to be united." 

2 " Though Hymen could not join our bodies, yet will we unite our souls, 
our two deaths, in one." Corneille, Œdipe, Act ii. Sc. 4. 

* "And if Heaven but suffer Love to flourish in the tomb, in the depths of 
the tomb I will love her as fondly as ever." 

Corneille, Pulchérie, Act iii. Sc. 2. 


Thisbé's veil, which he kisses and exclaims : " Now, dear 
and holy veil, be dyed with my blood too." Thisbé 
coining to the trysting place finds Pyramus' dead body, 
and kills herself in her turn. " Unhappy Pyramus," she 
cries, " the love you bore me has undone you. Ah well ! 
my arm shall be as brave as yours and my love shall 
fear death no more than yours has. I will follow you 
to the tomb ; I will be at once the cause and the com- 
panion of your death. Alas ! nothing but death could 
have separated us, and even death shall not divide us ! " 
Separation is the greatest of all griefs for lovers. They 
long to be together, and never part ; they want a close, a 
lasting, an eternal union ; failing it, they grow despairing 
and die together, their craving to be together still express- 
ing itself in the wish they formulate in their last written 
words, to be buried in the same grave. 

This longing for union in the tomb I have found in all 
the letters and documents I have examined of those 
whom Love has driven to suicide ; they express it under 
many difFerent forms, and repeat it over and over again, 
in their anxiety to induce their relatives to respect their 
wishes. The impossibility of union in this world or of 
a complete, final and immutable possession of each other, 
is at the bottom of all their grief and despair ; accordingly 
they find their only consolation in the thought that their 
bodies will lie side by side in the same grave. 

A young married woman of twenty-six, who had made 
up her mind to die with her lover, but survived the wound 
received, told me a short time since that her lover kept 
repeating, while engaged in the preparations for their 
suicide, how grieved he was to think they would not be 
laid in the same grave ; the young woman's relatives 
possessing a family vault in a cemetery at Marseilles, he 
was afraid they would wish to keep their daughter's corpse 

in their own tomb. — When Dr Bancal and Mme. X 

were making their plans to die together, they wrote to a 
friend of both of them, begging him to unite them after 
death on one and the same bier. Mme. X told him : 


" Pray be so good as to come to the house directly you 
receive this letter, you will find us dead ... do not grieve 
for us, we shall die very happy . . . you must lay us on* 
the same bier." Bancal for his part had written to his 
friend: "I am most anxious to be beside my dear mistress, 
that our bones may mingle together ; the thought of this 
gratifies me inexpressibly/' 

" La mort môme, à. ce prix, la mort a sa douceur." ! 

Lovers dying together constantly write to their parents 
in such terms as these : " Do not part us ! if you still love 
your son a little, I trust you will respect his last wish, 
which is to be buried with the woman he loves." 

The longing to be joined in the tomb with the loved one 
is so natural a one, we see it expressed no less by queens 
than by work-girls, by artisans as by princes, and that at 
all epochs, — for is not the human heart ever the same? 
Cleopatra after the defeat of Antony, in the petition 
she addresses to Octavius, begs to be interred by her 
lover's side : " Do not refuse me," she prays, " a tomb by 
his side, and that dying for him, I may at any rate dwell 
with him in Hades." Going to kneel on her lover's 
sarcophagus, she cries to him : " Thou wilt not suffer 
thy wife to be dragged alive behind the victor's car of 
triumph. No ! thou wilt rather hide me by thy side, and 
take me to be with thee in this tomb." 

Abelard writing to Heloïse, after he has entered the 
cloister and made her do the same, concludes his letter 
by expressing the wish that she may have herself buried 
beside him in the same tomb. "I hope and trust," he 
tells her, " that, when you have accomplished the time of 
your life, you will be buried by my side." And — for he 
is as full of vanity as love, — he adds, " My tomb will be 
the more famous for it." 

In the Cyropœdia (bk. vii., ch. iii.), Xenophon, describing 
the despair of Pantheia at the death of Abradatas, relates 

1 '* Death itself, at this price, death has a sweetness of its own." 

Delille, Aineid % Bk. iv. 


how she has his body brought in, then stabs herself and 
dies with her head resting on her husband's bosom ; 
before striking the fatal blow, she had directed her nurse 
to wrap in the same shroud her husband's corpse and 
her own. 

Poets have not failed, when depicting the death of 
lovers, to assign them this longing to be united in the 
same grave. Tasso in his Jerusalem Delivered represents 
Olindo, who dies with Sophronia, as saying : " As thou 
hadst to die, it makes me happy to be the companion to 
share thy death, since I could not share thy life. I weep 
for thee, but not for myself, — for am I not dying by thy 
side ? " — When Romeo comes to Juliet's tomb to kill 
himself upon it, he cries to Paris : " If you have any 
vestige of pity left, open the tomb and lay me by Juliet's 
side." This craving to be reunited in the tomb with the 
loved one must needs be a cry of Nature's own prompting, 
for I have found it expressed in a letter written by a joiner 
of Aix who, inconsolable at the loss of his wife, committed 
suicide in his despair. Writing to his children, he says : 

" I am leaving you to rejoin her I have always loved ; 
divide what I leave behind amongst you, as brothers 
should ; do not let selfishness make you quarrel ; re- 
member what your mother used to say, 4 why be ill- 
conditioned ? we have such a short time to be in this 
world/ — good words worthy of so good a woman. ... My 
last wish, if you can get it granted, would be to put my 
body in your mother's grave, that is to say, to take me 
from my coffin, open hers and place my body on hers ; I 
shall be near her then. 

" Farewell, children, farewell all ; in dividing, you will 
put aside for my little Jeanne 160 francs. 

"Your Father." 

In René 1 when Amélie is bidding farewell to her brother, 
she says to him : " Ah ! if only the same tomb could one 
day reunite us! but no! I must sleep alone." — In the 
Elective Affinities, Charlotte has Edward laid by the side 


of Ottilia, although she is not his wife : " They have 
suffered enough," she says, " to have won >the right to 
rest together." — Quite lately in a criminal case that made 
no little noise in the world, we have seen a married woman 
consent with a similar generosity to her husband's being 
buried beside his mistress, for whom he died. 

When a pair of lovers kill themselves, they not only 
find consolation in the thought that they are about to be 
united in the tomb ; each of them is likewise made happy 
by seeing that the other loves so ardently as to prefer 
death to separation, — a knowledge that sweetens death. 

A girl who committed suicide in Paris on August 31st, 
1897, along with a young man she wished to marry, on 
the refusal of the latter's family to consent to the match, 
wrote thus : " As I have no hope of marrying him, why ! 
I prefer to die with him. Death will make us one for 
ever, and I shall be happy. Above all let no one touch 
my engagement ring." 

The numerous judicial documents I have consulted as 
well as the personal inquiries I have made, all point to 
the light-heartedness, the astonishing gaiety of spirits, 
with which lovers prepare as a rule for their double 
suicide. The mother of a young man, who last April 
committed suicide together with the girl he was violently 
in love with, told me how her son had been in the habit 
for some months before the fatal event of continually 
singing snatches of opera composed à propos of situations 
analogous to his for heroes of the stage who wish to 
end their life. 

A young girl told her lady friend of her intention to 
commit suicide with a smile on her face ; pointing to an 
article of dress, she said : " What a pity ! I shall never 
wear it, for I am going to die to-morrow." The Doctor 
Bancal mentioned a little above, writing to a friend, said : 
" We have not more than six or seven hours to live, but 
we are as calm as if we were going to rest to wake up 
to-morrow morning in each other's arms." In a letter to 
his mother he expressed the same idea : " I look upon 


eternity with as much delight as if I were gazing at one of 
those fair scenes of Nature I have sometimes enjoyed so 
highly." Witnesses who saw them the day before their 
suicide were struck by their high spirits ; the butler stated 
that when he saw them, he could not help exclaiming : 

44 How merry they are to-day ! " Madame X sang 

while making her preparations. During the week pre- 
ceding their death, the two lovers went every night to 
the theatre. — A married woman, who had made up her 
mind to die with her lover, but survived the attempted 
suicide, assured me she went to sleep quite peacefully, 
knowing all the while that during the night her lover 
was to kill her and then himself. — Chambige stated that 

when on the way in a carriage with Madame Z to 

the villa where they were to put an end to themselves, 
they were both of them in great spirits, and that he could 
not refrain from singing the aria from Faust, "All hail 
my latest morn." 

In the majority of instances a plan for double suicide 
is arranged long before the event ; in several cases of the 
sort I have noted that the pistol used had been bought 
a month or several months beforehand. In the Bancal 

case, already twice referred to, Madame X wrote: 

" It is now a month since our plan was determined on ; 
we were to have waited till to-morrow, but fearing my 
family might succeed in discovering where I was living, 
I asked my dear Prosper if he would put it twenty-four 
hours sooner. This request he did not refuse, and to-night 
we cross Charon's ferry. " 

In the papers they leave behind, lovers, more particularly 
women, enter into the most minute details, completing all 
their preparations with remarkable coolness. Bancal had 
had a Iffcrt made lor his mother containing some of his 
hair and some of " his darling's/' with a farewell letter in 
these terms : " I die as I have lived without knowing what 
I ought to believe or not to believe. ... I do not need 
your pity, I have lived more in ten days and tasted more 
happiness than one man's life can well contain." His 


mistress two days before the suicide had sent off a box 
containing articles of dress, etc., for her daughter ; on the 
paper in which the things were wrapped up, she had 
written : " For Léonie, a black frock, three pairs of gloves, 
a locket containing her father's hair, my own and her 
sister's, and a silver thimble. , ' She wrote to her daughter's 
schoolmistress to ask her to take special care of her: 
"Talk to her very often, I beg you, of her father, but 
make her forget her mother, if possible." — Only a few 
minutes before starting with Chambige to kill themselves 

together, Mme. Z wrote a merry letter to a female 


Another thing showing their coolness is that very often 
lovers, before killing themselves, sit down to a meal to 
which they do full justice. It might be supposed their 
appetite would fail at such a moment, but no! they eat 
with a surprising gusto and light-heartedness. It is not 
unlikely that in some instances they may drink also to 
excess to give themselves an artificial stimulus, as is the 
case in a great many suicides due to the most widely 
different motives. Still I do not think that the mental 
condition of lovers who kill themselves together is really 
at all like that observed in desperate men who are afraid 
of death at the very moment of inflicting it on themselves 
and often seek "Dutch courage" in the bottle. Lovers 
who commit suicide look death in the face with calmness, 
almost with satisfaction. 

When the notion of dying together has once entered two 
lovers 1 heads, it grows into a fixed idea, absorbing all. their 
thoughts and making them forget everything else, — parents, 
children, honour, shame. Mothers rush upon death, for- 
saking the sweetest of children and giving themselves 
up to their lovers with a quite extraordinary cynicism. 
Mme. Z , who was a Society lady of the highest con- 
sideration, and a mother who loved her little ones, was 
found quite naked lying beside Chambige, with whom she 
was ready to die after giving herself to him. Yet she was 
perfectly well aware that her state of nudity would be 


noted by the officers of Justice, when they came to draw 
up their reports as required by Law. That sentiment of 
shame which was so powerful among the women of Miletus 
that it arrested the epidemic of suicide, had been totally 

obliterated by passion in the case of Madame Z . 

Young girls belonging to respectable families and possess- 
ing parents whom they fondly love, leave all to fly to the 
lover who awaits them, that they may kill themselves 
together. The mother of a girl who had committed suicide 
along with a young man because the latter^ family were 
opposed to the match, told me with tears : " My daughter 
had always been a model of filial piety and goodness (this 
was true,— impartial witnesses, quite unconnected with the 
family, have told me she was a beautiful character), and 
had never occasioned me the smallest pain ; gentle, tender, 
pious, she was all love and delicate attentions for my 
husband and myself; and yet she left us to go with that 
young fellow, knowing her conduct would plunge us into 
the most horrible despair. She was sincerely religious and 
a child of Mary, yet she consented to have intimate traffic 
with the villain, for I am certain he defiled her before 
killing her." 

At the same time the most pure and exalted love may 
sometimes exist, especially among girls, without any desire 
for sexual relations. Indeed signs indicative of virginity 
are occasionally noted in girls who have elected to die 
with their lovers. One of these, being threatened by her 
parents that they would put her in a nunnery, committed 
suicide along with her lover, and at the post-mortem the 
doctors ascertained her to be a virgin. 

Every year a certain number of young men called to 
the colours commit suicide when the time comes for 
starting to join their regiment, because they cannot bear 
separation from their fiancée or their mistress ; in some 

cases they decide to die with them. One R was 

engaged to a girl at Lyons when he was obliged to leave 
home to perform his military service ; the separation was 
extremely painful to him, but he resigned himself for the 


time being. Some months later he obtained a few days' 
furlough, which he spent with his fiancée. But when the 
moment arrived for returning to the regiment, the two 
lovers found they could not bear to part and resolved to 
die together. The poor girl was found with two wounds 
in the right temple caused by revolver bullets, lying beside 
her lover who was dead. She gave the following account 
of what had happened : " We had not the heart to part, 
when his furlough was expired, and so we determined 
to die together. He told me : ' I will shoot you through 
the head and then blow out my own brains. You, if you 
are still alive, must do as I did/ Léon fired one shot 
at me, and two at himself. As I was not killed, I took 
the revolver and put a second bullet into my head. I 
then fainted away. Regaining consciousness, I lay for 
two hours on my lover's body, folded in his arms." The 
lovers had previously written a letter to make known 
their last wishes. This letter, begun by the young man 
and finished by his companion, ran thus : " I am killing 
myself so as not to part from my little wife ; I suffer too 
much when I am away from her. We wish to be buried 
together." The girl had added : " We do not wish our 
bodies to be surrendered to the Doctors. We wish to be 
buried together, just as they are found." 

Another instance occurred some few months ago at 
Marseilles. A young man had enlisted in the Marine 
Infantry, but when the moment for departure came, so 
violent was his despair at leaving his fiancée that he con- 
ceived the idea of dying with her, and won her consent to 
the plan. He announced his purpose to his parents in the 
following letter : " As you are no doubt aware, I have 
gone off with Yvonne. Unable to endure separation from 
her, I failed to join the colours. At this moment I am 
put down on the roster as a deserter. When you re- 
ceive this letter, we shall both be dead by our own act." 
They went to an hotel, where they supped and spent 
the night Next morning they had breakfast at half-past 
ten and afterwards withdrew to their room ; a minute or 


two later two explosions were heard. A rush was made 
to the spot, when the girl was found stretched dead on the 
bed, while the young man lay in the death agony on the 
floor in a pool of blood. — When a young soldier asks 
leave of absence to visit his family, but really to see his 
fiancée or his mistress, he is unable sometimes to return 
to the regiment on the expiration of his furlough, pre- 
ferring to die with his beloved, whom he induces to share 
his determination. " My dear parents," wrote a young 
soldier, M we cannot bear to part, and have made up our 
minds to die together. We cannot live apart, and it is 
to end the pain we feel in separation that we put an 
end to ourselves." — Double suicide again occurs some- 
times on the soldier's return from military service. The 
girl who is left behind by her lover on his departure to 
the army, becomes a prostitute ; the lover, ignorant of 
the evil life she has been living, takes up with her again, 
but the first day he learns the truth, he either breaks 
off the connection or else asks her to die with him. 

So impatient are lovers in their desires that a mere 
delay in the execution of a projected marriage may throw 
them into violent despair. Quite lately the corpses of a 
young man of twenty-eight and a girl of nineteen were 
found in the Seine closely bound together ; they were to 
have been married in a short time, but a difficulty having 
arisen causing a postponement of the wedding-day, they 
preferred to die together. The following letter was found 
on the young man, written to him by his fiancée : " My 

own L , I love you, and I swear by all I hold dearest 

in the world I will be yours for life and for death, — Your 
wedded wife that is soon to be." 

We even see lovers who have already enjoyed each 
other's favours committing suicide, and this not only 
when they are in danger of being parted, but merely 
because they cannot see each other more frequently, 
because their possession of each other is incomplete, and 
inadequate to the ardour of their desires. This may 
happen when one of the lovers is married, and can only 


be with the other on rare occasions. I saw an interesting 
example of this at Marseilles not long ago. Here 
is the tale as told me by a young married woman of 
twenty-five, who had wished to die along with a young 
painter of twenty-six but who survived the attempt on 
her life : " My husband being very rough and unkind to 

me, I fell in love with B , whom I used to see passing 

my house, and who manifested a very ardent affection 
for me. Our interviews took place at long intervals at 
an hotel in the suburbs of Marseilles. These my lover 
found much too 4 few and far between'; he longed to be 
with me day and night and felt it bitterly when we had 
to part. I could see him as he passed before our house, 
and this was enough for me and gave me patience. But 
it was far from satisfying him, and he felt our separation 
keenly, and the rarity of our meetings ; he besought me 
to leave my husband and fly with him, but the dread of 
shame held me back. At last, in despair at the obstacles 
that kept us apart, he proposed that I should die with 
him, and I agreed. He was to shoot me and afterwards 
kill himself. To this end we met at an hotel and spent 
the night together. While I was asleep, he fired a pistol 
shot into my temple — where you can still see the mark. 
I felt I was wounded and fainted. Presently I recovered 
consciousness, to find myself bathed in blood and to see 
my lover lying stone dead on the bed. He had shot 
himself in two places. I deeply regret he did not suc- 
ceed in killing me." 

A fortnight later, the same woman, now restored to 
calmness, having been visited by her mother and sisters, 
and freed from the hold her lover exercised over her, 
expressed quite opposite sentiments in an interview I had 
with her. She now repented the folly she had committed, 
and said : " Ah 1 if it were to do over again, and he asked 
me to die with him, I should tell him, if you want to kill 
yourself, why ! go and do it, but I have not the slightest 
wish to follow your example." All she thought of now 
«was her husband, her only wish to be reconciled to him, 


get his forgiveness and have him pay her a visit ; and she 
asked me again and again with evident anxiety whether 
he would soon be coming to see her. 

Schopenhauer could not understand how two beings 
who love each other and can find perfect happiness in 
their love, do not prefer to break altogether with social 
conventions and undergo any sort of shame rather than 
forswear life and the bliss of living together. Yet it is 
vety easy to understand how married women or unmarried 
girls, though violently in love, may still recoil before the 
disgrace and shame of eloping with their lover, and how 
seeing his consequent despair, they may end by consenting 
to the idea of dying with him. In such a case the lover 
exercises a sort of fascination over his mistress ; if she 
hesitates, he speaks of killing himself only, and succeeds 
by means of this threat in overcoming her scruples; if 
he dare not ask her in so many words to die with him, 
he .lets her guess his plan of killing himself, that she 
may conceive the notion of sharing his suicide. Vanity, 
jealousy, selfishness, all unite with love to make him eager 
far this double suicide ; if she survived him, the husband 
or someone else might get her again ; by sacrificing her 
life for him, she flatters his pride, for is she not affording 
him the very highest proof of affection? In one word, 
since he must die, he feels a keen delight in dragging 
another along with him to end in his arms life and grief 
at once. This state of mind on the part of the lover who 
is fain to kill himself and drag along the same road the 
woman he loves, because they are kept apart by insur- 
mountable obstacles, is the same which Jean-Jacques 
Rousseau assigns to Saint-Preux in the walk he takes 
with Mme. de Wolmar at Meillerie on the shores of the 
Lake of Geneva. Saint-Preux is violently tempted to 
hurl himself and Mme. de Wolmar with him into the 
waters of the lake below ; this temptation he succeeds in 
overcoming, but many lovers yield to it. In suchlike cases, 
a married woman, rather than fly and live dishonoured, 
prefers to tread the path of death by her lover's side. 


Again the fear of disgrace decides many a young girl 
not to survive her fall, but rather to die with her lover. 
Here is an instance I noted some months ago at Marseilles, 
completing the information collected by the Commissary 
of Police by details I gathered from the relatives of the 
unhappy pair. A young clerk of twenty-nine was desirous 
of marrying a girl of his own age with whom he was 
violently in love, and who was of irreproachable character 
and belonged to a highly respectable family. His mother 
however, thinking him too young to marry, refused her 
consent. The young people continued to see each other 
and walk out together, but the girl, who was as good as 
she was pretty and charming, remained unsullied in spite 
of all her love. More and more eager to marry, the young 
man did all he could by prayers and threats to force his 
mother's consent, but without avail. He then urged the 
girl to consent to an elopement, so as to compel, his 
mother to agree to the match. Loving her parents dearly 
and fearing the scandal that must ensue, she was long in 
making up her mind ; eventually she yielded to her lover's 
prayers and left the paternal roof with trembling steps, 
scarce able to stand, but hoping soon to return on her 
lover's arm. After taking her to an hotel, the young man 
wrote to his mother, telling her he had carried off. his 
fiancée, that she had given herself to him, that he must 
marry her now, and beseeching her to give her consent 
The mother refused. He wrote to her again, declaring 
that his betrothed, seeing herself dishonoured, was for 
killing herself and begged for death at his hands as a 
favour, but that he had not the courage to kill her; he 
besought his mother for her consent for the last time. 
The latter again refused. Hereupon the two loyers, driven 
to the alternative of disgrace or death, chose the latter; 
the young man first shot his mistress with a revolver and 
then himself, both dying the following day. Whçn the 
room was entered and the young man asked for an ex- 
planation of the tragedy, he repeated several times over, 
M It had to be," and these were the only words he was able 


to articulate. Letters written by this pair of despairing 
lovers previously to their suicide leave no doubt as to 
the reason for their self-sought death ; the girl was 
anxious to escape shame and the young man to avoid 
scandal. We give the letter she wrote to her family : 

"My dear Parents, — Forgive your Jeanne the act she 
is about to commit. But, loving without hope of a happy 
issue, she prefers to die with him she loves rather than 
live without him. I kiss you all ; my last thoughts are 
with you. 

* Your little Jeanne who loves you dearly and believes 
you will forgive her." 

Besides this, she had written a special letter to her 

"My good, kind Mamma, — I have waited till to-day 
to die. I still hoped, but my darling boy's mother. having 
entirely refused to listen to reason, we are forced to die. 
Better to die than to live an object of the worlds scorn, 
amid the ironical smiles of friends and neighbours. This 
would be an unparalleled torture to me, and the fear of 
it has largely contributed to my determination to end 
nay life. — Dear mother, forgive your child all the pain 
she is giving you. How I wish I could have made you 
happy; but there, what would you have? No one can 
command their fate, and I have always had a presentiment 
I should end thus. 

" Farewell for ever." 

The young man on his side had addressed the following 
lines to his family : 

"Dear Mother and Brothers, — Forgive me. I die in 
despair. I love without hope of a happy issue, and dread 
the scandal that threatens me. Pray for me." 

He had also composed a letter to the girl's parents to 
the following effect : 

"You will no doubt curse my name, when you learn the 
death of your darling Jeanne ; yet, forgive me, we loved 
each other so fondly the idea of separation was too grievous 
to be borne." 


Parents are sometimes responsible for the suicide of 
their children, because very often they oppose their pro* 
jected marriage from motives of worldly interest. The 
young man's family do not consider the girl rich enough, 
or vice versa. On August nth, 1897, in Paris, a young- 
man of twenty and a girl of seventeen who had been 
brought up together and loved each other, seeing that the 
young man's relations were opposed to the match on die 
ground of the young woman's not being sufficiently well 
off, simultaneously leave their families, install themselves 
at an hotel, and put an end to themselves after writing the 
following letters : 

a My dear Mother," writes the young man, " we are 
about to die by our own hands ; we love each other sa 
fondly, we would rather die than see our dearest wishes 
balked. Perhaps now you will leave off saying bad things 
of one who has never been more than a dear friend to me, 
for though we have been three days together now, she has 
never given herself to me. Awaiting death that will so 
soon have us for its own, I declare once more what I have 
so often told you, that she is a good woman. The nearer 
we come to our deaths, the more I am convinced you have 
treated her unjustly. 

" My good mother, I forgive you, for at the bottom of 
your heart you loved your son but too well, and would 
fain have had him marry a rich wife. 

44 We have just addressed a heart-felt prayer to God to 
grant us courage and keep our hearts from failing. 

44 Your son who has always loved you truly." 

The girl also wrote on her side to her mother : 

44 My dear little Mother, — when you read these lines, I 
shall be already dead ; but you must forgive me, for though' 
I have behaved so ill, you love me too well to leave me in 
doubt of your forgiveness. It is eleven years to-day since 
my father died, and by a strange coincidence, 'tis on the 
very same day I am going to rejoin him in another world. 
It was not to have been to-day, but on Sunday our courage 
failed us. Yesterday death would not have us ; to-day I 


hope to die, for it is terrible to live on only to endure never- 
ending pain. 

" True it is, a good girl should not allow herself ta do 
what I h^ve done, but disgusted with my life, loving and 
being loved, as every creature longs to be, I forgot myself 
so Car as to follow my lover and to. court death along with 
him. Forgive me. 

u Before dying, we have just been praying to God that 
He may to-day give us courage to die; and if I go to 
Heaven (for I believe in God), I will pray for you. 

u Your daughter who loves you and sends you her last 
kisses. Farewell, darling mother." 

The sound of shots being heard, a rush was made to 
the room occupied by the young couple, when the girl was 
found stretched on the bed, the death rattle in her throat 
and her head pierced by a pistol bullet, and lying near the 
bed the young man with a wound in the head and a prey 
to extreme nervous agitation, covered with blood, weeping, 
wringing his hands and crying : " Oh ! my father who seest 
me; oh! my God, who art with him : is she dead?" On 
being questioned a few moments later by the Commissary 

of Police, he said : " My companion is named X ; we 

were brought up together, she lives near me. We wished 
to die. It was with her own hand she shot herself with a 
revolver in the head. I was lying by her side. I took the 
weapon from her and fired two shots at myself. I felt I 
had done it ineffectually ; " both bullets in fact had gone 
round, instead of penetrating, the skull and lodged between 
the bone and the scalp. 

Esquirol cites a case of double suicide on the part of the 
son of a French Juge de Paix and a young girl his relatives 
refused to allow him to marry. The two lovers sought 
the Forest of Saint Germains, where the young man 
proceeded to blow out the girl's brains, afterwards hang- 
ing himself from a tree with her shawl. 

The refusal of parents to consent to their son's marriage 
with a girl less rich than himself, was the cause of another 
double suicide which occurred in Paris quite lately. The 


parents, in order to disgust their son with the match, had 
spoken ill of the girl in question. Learning this, she 
wrote to the young man's mother: "To show you I am 
not a woman that goes with all men, as you say, I intend 
to die with my Léon, for I love him and I could not go 
on living without him. . . . You were for marrying him 
to a girl he does not care for ; but on Monday, instead of 
coming for her engagement ring, she will arrive to see him 
dead. Léon is yours no more, he belongs to me now, as you 
would not agree to let us be happy together in this world. 

u It is to you he owes his death. You can never have 
really loved him, to act as you have. 

" We both wait for death with the utmost calm. While 
I am writing to you, my dear boy is busy stopping up all 
the cracks that might admit the air. We have only one 
fear, — that we may fail in our attempt" 

At the foot of the letter the young man had added*: 
"I make a point of telling you that it is not my little 
wife you are to blame, if I die ; I asked her myself to die 
with me. ... I let you think I would agree to marry 
Marie, to get you to leave me in peace. But it is not 
Marie I love, 'tis my little Berthe I adore ; she is my wife, 
since yesterday, for did I not buy her her wedding-ring 
yesterday evening, and I forbid anyone to remove it from 
her finger. I think you will respect the last wish of a 
dead man." Then he wrote yet another message to his 
father, begging him to have them buried together: "I 
say this to you, father, for my Berthe, as well as I, loved 
you dearly. Farewell, my dear father. With these letters 
was yet another, written by the girl to her mother: 
" Mother mine, for I'm not afraid to call you so still, 
you told me I would never dare to kill myself. Weill 
you see now we are not afraid to die together. I write 
you these lines as the braziers are being lit." 

Men who believe themselves forced into suicide by 
illness or want of success in life, persuade their wives or 
mistresses to die along with them. In these cases, the 
suggestion of suicide comes very near to being actually 


criminal, as was recognised by a man deeply in debt who 
wrote: u Having made up my mind to have done with 
life^ I am filled by the wild idea of not leaving this world 
alone. I feèl myself as if I were being driven into crime." 
— A girl of twenty, who had wished to die with her lover, 
but survived the attempt she made on her life, gave the 
following account to the Commissary of Police who had 
discovered her lying wounded beside her lover's corpse : 
''Last Sunday, my lover informed me that, having sub- 
mitted to a medical examination, he had been found to 
be suffering from a venereal disease, which he had con- 
tracted with another woman ; he declared he could not 
live under such conditions and that he wished to kill 
himself. On Tuesday he was for starting to throw him- 
self under the wheels of a train ; I thereupon consented 
at his suggestion to join with him in putting an end to 
ourselves by means of charcoal fumes. After stuffing up 
the doors and windows, we lighted in the middle of the 
rooih a little stove we had removed from its usual place ; 
we also prepared a decoction of poppies, of which we 
drank a glassful. We then retired to bed, and yesterday 
(Wednesday) we awoke still alive, having vomited during 
the night; we were ill all the succeeding day. At mid- 
day to-day we resumed our purpose of suicide. Léon, 
who had meantime purchased a revolver, lay down on the 
bed next the wall with me outside him nearer the edge ; 
he then fired a shot into my head, and I fell fainting. 
When I came to, I saw that Léon had shot himself also. 
I took- the weapon from his hand, and fired two shots at 
myself, but without reaching a vital spot." 

A celebrated novelist, who is at the same time a 
perspicacious moralist, M. Ed. Rod, in his last romance 
le Dernier Refuge (The Last Resort), has shown a married 
woman who dies along with her lover long after flying 
from her husband's roof. The lovers kill themselves 
because Society turns its back on them, because the duties 
they have violated take their revenge by making their 
life unbearable from remorse, because, especially to the 


woman who has preserved a strong sense of self-respect, 
the disesteem she feels herself surrounded by, seems more 
intolerable even than death. Double suicide, of married 
woman and lover, is the consequence of their false position. 

It is not only in novels that we find unfaithful wives 
and their lovers driven to double suicide, nor is it solely 
in the higher ranks of society that this takes place. Quite 
lately a countrywoman, who had deserted her husband 
and children to follow her lover to Paris, ended by killing 
herself along with him. She announced her reasons :for 
coming to this determination in the following terms: 
41 Fate has so willed it for both of us ; we must die, death 
is our only road to freedom. Dear children, I cannot 
draw back now, I dare not break my oath. We have 
suffered grievously ; we ask God for pity and forgiveness." 

Some few months ago, a married man, who had left his 
wife to live with his mistress, killed himself by means of 
charcoal fumes along with the partner of his guilt. In the 
letter they left behind, the two lovers declare themselves 
forced to take this step, adding : " We love each other, and 
we would rather die together than part." 

" We regret nothing, for what has our love brought us 
but unhappiness ? 

44 We ask one favour only, — to be buried side by side." 
The husband had also written a letter to his wife, begging 
her to forgive him. 

In the notorious cases of Bancal and Chambige already 
referred to, we see married women committing suicide 
together with the lover within a few hours or a few days 
at farthest after their flight from the husband's roof. The 
mistresses of these two men, intoxicated by their guilty 
passion, but still alive to their sense of honour, unable to 
endure the only alternatives left them in the false position 
they have placed themselves in, viz., separation or public 
disgrace, abandon themselves to their lover, then seek for 
death as the only means of escaping shame and remorse. 

According to the account given by the student Chambige, 
— a perfectly true one in my opinion, Mme. Z would 


seem to have said on the way to the villa where the lovers 
put an end to their lives : " I will give myself to you, but 
you must swear by all you hold most sacred to kill me 
immediately afterwards. . . . Only promise me to place in 
my right hand the rose you plucked this morning and then 
kiss me." After yielding to his embraces, 1 she claimed 
the fulfilment of his promise to kill her with loud cries : 
"You are a craven ," she told him again and again, "kill 
me at once; you promised to kill me immediately my 
dishonour was accomplished." Then with her own hand 
she pointed the revolver at her right temple, and thinking 
the aim bad, adjusted it afresh, ordering her companion to 
draw the trigger. 

Madame X 's state of mind closely resembled that 

described by Balzac in his Femme de trente ans (A Woman 
of Thirty) and by Dumas père in Antony. In the Bancal 
case, the two lovers killed themselves some days after 

Mme. X 's flight from her husband's house; but the 

plan of this double suicide had been settled a month before 

that date. Before flying with Dr Bancal, Mme. X had 

made him swear to kill himself along with her. Nor had 
her conscience been awakened only after the sin had been 
committed ; deadened as this was by the intoxication of a 
passion which made her find a fierce delight in, courting 
ruin, in sacrificing everything to her love, she had yet 
enough sense of right and wrong left to dread the scandal 
that must inevitably ensue and to prefer to die rather than 
survive her sin. 

M. Sighele believes that the idea of a double suicide origin- 
ates in most cases with the woman ; but this proposition 
appears to me to require qualification. It is correct enough 
when a married woman is in question, who hitherto of un- 
blemished virtue, yields to her lover's wishes on condition 
of dying with him afterwards, that she may not survive her 
shame. In such a case it is quite true ; the woman seeing 
herself disgraced eagerly demands death to cover her dis- 

1 Tke subsequent medico-legal examinations clearly established the fact 
that repeated acts of sexual intercourse had preceded death. 


honour, while the lover, having given his promise to die 
only to gain possession of his mistress, regrets his bargain, 
once he has satisfied his passion. Returning to a calmer, 
state of mind and body, and not having the same urgent 
reasons as the woman for wishing to die, he would fain 
live on to enjoy the continued possession of his mistress's 

Still M. Sighele's statement is true enough where it is a 
question of a woman older than her lover, whose affection 
she is afraid of losing. This was so in the much-talked-of 
attempt at double suicide on the part of Lamartine with 

Mme. X , with whom he had fallen in love at Aix-les- 

Bains. This lady who was an invalid and married, being 
summoned to rejoin her husband, and foreseeing that, ex- 
ceeding Lamartine as she did in age, she would soon lose 
his affection, moreover, being devoid of any religious belief, 
had been the first to suggest the idea of their dying 

In another instance of double suicide cited by Dr Brierre 
de Boismont and appealed to by M. Sighele in support of 
his proposition, it is again a married woman older than her 
lover that is concerned, and possessed of great influence 
over him. She was thirty-nine, the young man twenty-six, 
when they committed suicide, the young man having been 
only sixteen at the time when the woman, then twenty- 
nine, had conceived a violent passion for him, which she 
induced him to share. I have noticed yet another double 
suicide of a married woman " of a certain age," who detected 
in the very act of adultery with a lover younger than her- 
self, not knowing what would become of her, determined 
to die with her lover and persuaded him to adopt the same 
resolution. — In the Bancal case, again the woman was 
married and older than her lover, for Dr Lombroso is mis- 
taken when he says Dr Bancal's mistress was a girl. — I» 
the Chambige case likewise the woman was the older of 
the two ; she had many white hairs. In a recent instance 
of double suicide which occurred in Paris, it was again the 
woman who first conceived the idea of dying ; she was a 


woman of twenty-four, mistress of a young man of nineteen. 
She had already lived for several years with another lover, 
who had gone away to perform his military service, leaving 
her with a child on her hands. This soldier being now due 
to return almost immediately with the intention of renew- 
ing his previous connection with his former mistress, the 
latter terrified at the prospect and unable to make up her 
mind to leave her new lover, with whom she was deeply in 
love, preferred to die along with him. She asked a neigh-» 
bour to take charge of her little girl, bought a quantity of 
charcoal, lit it and lay down on the bed by her lover's side, 
where they were both found dead next morning. 

When a woman who wishes to commit suicide cannot 
induce the man she loves to share her resolution, she calls 
him a coward, torments him with reproaches of every sort, 
and when she finds he is not going to take the plunge, 
arranges her own suicide in such a way as to involve his 
death along with her own, without his knowing anything 1 
about it beforehand. This is what a woman did lately in 
Paris, having kindled a brazier of charcoal without her 
lover's knowledge. To remove all suspicion, she showed 
herself particularly merry on going to bed with him, kissed 
him with more than ordinary affection, and spent half-an- 
hour in reading a novel before going to sleep. The lover 
awoke in the morning half stupefied, to find his mistress 
lying still and cold beside him. 

In some very exceptional cases, excessively jealous 
lovers cause their mistress so much pain by their con- 
tinual suspicions, reproaches and complaints, that at last 
the latter, indignant at being doubted, wearied of un- 
founded charges and generally disgusted with the wretched 
life they lead, proposes that they should die together, 
in order to prove to the lover the sincerity of her love. 
The lover agrees, and they proceed to kill themselves* 
I have noted a case of this kind as occurring lately in 

When the lover of a married woman, jealous of the 
husband, wishes to die along with his mistress, if he does 


not succeed in inducing her to agree to the scheme or 
fails to bring her to the point of putting it into -execution, 
he usually kills his mistress without her consent in the 
paroxysm of his jealous agonies, and then puts an end 

to himself. One L , a man of thirty-six, a widower 

and , the father of a young daughter, had entered into 
criminal relations with a friend's wife, herself the mother 
of four children. The lovers were unable to see each 

other often, and suffered much at the deprivation. L f 

being of a very jealous disposition, became intensely un- 
happy, and judged death to be preferable to the life he 
was leading. At an interview his mistress accorded him 
at his request, he described his sufferings to her and his 
wish to die, and besought her to adopt the same resolu- 
tion. He succeeded in persuading her and got her to 
sign a letter in which the two lovers announced their 
intention of committing suicide together. But just as 
they were about to carry out their plan, it occurred to 
them that the pistol they had provided was too small, 
and they went out to buy another of larger bore. Once 
in the open street, the woman saw the folly of her conduct, 
and changing her mind fled to her own home to escape 
from her lover. The latter hurried in pursuit ; finding 
the entrance barred, he climbed over the gate, darted up 
the stairs, overtook the woman in her bedroom and shot 
her with a revolver ; seeing her fall, he fired a second 
shot at himself which killed him on the spot. When his 
body was raised, it was noticed that he smelt of absinthe, 
which he had drunk to excite his courage to the com- 
mission of the act he had already determined on. He 
had had the strange notion of writing a letter to his 
mistress's husband in these terms : " Forgive two unhappy 
beings who have long adored each other and who would 
rather die than live apart. We are a pair of cowards. 
Forgive us, and care for our children." In another letter 
addressed to one of his relatives, he wrote : " Being unable 
to have lawfully the woman I love, I prefer death to the 
life I lead now. Do not blame, only pity me. I am a 


coward to abandon my little girl, but I cannot go on 
living ! w 

Still, apart from these exceptional cases, I believe the 
idea of dying together to originate rather with the: man 
than with the woman. The one that imposes his will is 
the stronger, the more energetic, the one that yields to 
suggestion is the more nervous and impressionable; and 
surely it is woman that best answers the latter description, 
as it is the man that excels in strength of will power. In 
Hemami it is the lover that makes the suggestion of dying 
together to the woman: "Weep no more, rather let us 
die!" Cases often occur where a man who is ardently 
attached to a woman but parted from her by insurmount- 
able obstacles, tortured by separation and the fear of 
seeing her fall into the arms of another, longs to die 
himself and to kill the object of his passion, dissimulating 
what really amounts to murder under the form of double 
suicide, to which he almost forces the woman to consent. 
To give an example : a young girl in the Department of 
the Basses Alpes had entered on an intrigue with a work- 
man, a hatter ; her family having discovered this, were 
anxious to break off the connection. Learning their 
intention, the lover in despair at the thought of losing 
his mistress, made her sign a paper in which the girl and 
himself expressed their determination to die together. 
Some days later, he went to see his mistress, and after 
kissing her, said : u Thérèse, we must die, the time is 
come ; n with these words he fired three shots at her 
with a revolver, killing her on the spot, then four more 
at himself, but without inflicting any serious wounds. 

When young fellows, of idle and dissipated habits, dis- 
appointed in their plans and crippled with debt, do like 
Tony Auray and Soularue and commit suicide together 
with their mistress, it is the lover who driven to self- 
slaughter drags the woman along the same road out of 
jealousy, to prevent her ever belonging to another man. 
M. Sighele cites the case of Tony Auray in support of his 
thesis, but it really tells against him ; as a matter of fact, 


the accused confessed he had killed his mistress before 
committing suicide, that other men might never have her: 
The- girl in question was only fifteen, and had eloped with 
him from her parents 1 house under promise of à ■ brilliant 
future. After leading a merry life with her for some 
months, when he had exhausted all his resources and 
squandered the inheritance his father had left him, he 
turned his thoughts, like Rolla, in Alfred de Musset's 
poem, to suicide. He shot her five times in the head, 
while she was asleep; at the first shot she awoke» and 
turning to her lover, called upon him by his name, 
" Tony ! " Undeterred, he • fired again and again,' -and 
presently a bullet pierced both lobes of the girl's brain. 
He then discharged the sixth shot into his own mouth, 
wounded himself in five places with a sword-cane, and 
finally leapt from the window into the street 

In these cases of double suicide imposed by the lover 
on the mistress, we ought — if we are to call things by their 
real name — to speak of the lover as preluding his own 
suicide by what is nothing more nor less than a murder. 

But how does a lover having special reasons of his own 
for desiring death, succeed in communicating the wish to 
his companion, who has not the same motives for thinking 
of suicide? The mystery is accounted for by thé com- 
munity of ideas and sentiments which exists between two 
lovers deeply enamoured of each other, and by the ascend- 
ancy the more passionate or the more energetic exercises 
over the other. If a mere prolonged and almost exclusive 
contact between two individuals, a mere living together, is 
very often sufficient to make them think the same thoughts, 
desire the same objects, grow alike, how can this inter- 
communication of ideas and feelings fail to be yet more 
rapid and more intense between two lovers absorbed in 
each other? What one wishes, the other wishes, — they 
say so themselves in the papers they leave behind. This 
is what I find in a letter written by two lovers who com- 
mitted suicide together by means of charcoal fumes : " It 
is not a case of one dragging the other along with him ; 


it is Jby' common consent we resolve to die together." 
When one of two lovers has more ardour and passion 
than the other, he easily acquires no small ascendancy 
over his companion by the vivacity of his feelings and 
the force of his language ; in one word, he dominates the 
weaker vessel by sight, word and touch, silences scruples 
and hesitations by a combination of prayers, threats and 
sophistry, and ends by getting his idea of a double suicide 
accepted, representing it to be a noble, sweet and poetical 
thing to die together. This form of suggestion produces 
an especially powerful effect on nervous, impressionable 
natures, such as readily obey other and more dominating 
personalities. This suggestibility again is further increased 
by the state of exaltation and excessive stimulation of 
senses and imagination which is characteristic of lovers 
under the empire of passion. I have noted one very 
remarkable case where double suicide was suggested by 
a man to his mistress, and not without effect, although 
the latter had ceased to care for him and was thinking 
of marrying another man. He besought her to come and 
see him for one last interview, and on her coming expressed 
so vehemently his grief at losing her and his fixed purpose 
to kill himself, that he actually persuaded her to die with 
him (July 1897), 

Suicide may also be mutually suggested by women to 
each other in virtue of community of feelings and suffer- 
ings. The four young women who died together by 
charcoal fumes at Paris on the 8th July 1897, thus 
mutually suggested the idea to one another, telling each 
other they were tired of life and had better all die to- 
gether. The first notion of committing suicide came from 
the mistress of the establishment ; her sister, who was 
deeply attached to her, said, M If my sister dies, I will do 
the same." Their two workwomen, one of whom was 
pregnant and had been deserted by her lover, determined 
to follow their example, after partaking of a meal together, 
during which they excited one another by singing songs. 
The four girls lay down on the same bed, where they were 


found smothered by the fatal fumes next morning. The 
neighbours had heard the sound of loud laughter till one 
o'clock in the morning. » 

A work-girl of twenty, suffering from the pain of a 
broken engagement, attempted to commit suicide, but 
was prevented in time. Under the influence of disappoint- 
ment and unhappy circumstances, she became the mistress 
of a workman of her own age, with whom she went to live 
She formed a close friendship with another workwoman 
of thirty, who lived in the same house with her lover ; this 
woman was ill and disgusted with life, and was often heard 
to say she only wished she were dead. Her complaints 
found a ready echo in her young friend's bosom. The 
two women made up their minds to die together; they 
lay down on the same bed and were found dead under 
the influence of charcoal fumes, leaving each of them a 
word of farewell to her lover : " I kiss you for the last 
time," said one; "I love you dearly," said the other, "but 
I would rather make an end of it all." 

Sometimes a passionate, romantic friendship arises be- 
tween young women, which produces the same despair 
as love and the same wish to die together. To give an 
instance ; a work-girl of eighteen, who had been married 
for some months, had formed a close friendship at the 
workshop where they were employed with a companion 
three years her junior. One day (in May 1897) the 
husband on his return home found his wife and her young 
friend lying insensible on a sofa, having made an attempt to 
kill themselves by means of charcoal fumes. The younger 
girl was dead ; the wife was still breathing, and was event- 
ually brought round. Questioned as to the motive for 
her attempted suicide, she said : " My friend and I were 
unhappy. Having lost her parents, she had been placed 
in an establishment supported by public charity, but not 
liking it, she had been entrusted to the care of an aunt 
who put her to work in the same workroom with me. 
Many a time she spoke of putting an end to her life. 
For my own part I felt myself overwhelmed by a grief 


I could not account for ; I had left off eating, and was very 
often in tears. Then by common agreement we decided 
to commit suicide. We chose asphyxiation by charcoal, 
and stretched ourselves on a sofa to wait for death. . . . 
It is impossible for me to tell you precisely the motives 
that drove me to suicide ; my husband is very kind to 
me, and lets me want nothing. It was not my friend who 
urged me to the step. It was just an act of pure mad- 
ness on the part of both of us." 

The romantic character of this double suicide comes 
out still more clearly in a letter the married woman had 
written before her attempt to kill herself: "Unable to 
live one without the other, we prefer to die together. 
We are happy at the thought. 

u I • die of disappointment and life-weariness. Berthe 
does not regret her aunt I do regret my parents, and 
beg of them to forgive me. I beseech my husband also 
to be good to my little girl. 

"Before entering on our last sleep, we ask to be buried side 
by side. We should love to have flowers on our grave." 

Nothing is so contagious as the idea of suicide. It 
would seem as though ideas were like fruits; a sound 
apple put beside a rotten one does not make the latter 
sound, but a rotten apple put beside a sound one spoils 
it Similarly morbid ideas are communicated with ex- 
treme facility, so much so that semi-madmen and alco- 
holic patients very often affect those surrounding them 
by way of suggestion. It is notorious that the habit of 
alcoholism frequently inspires ideas of suicide ; in fact 
many sufferers of this kind end by killing themselves. 
Nor is it at all uncommon for them to induce their wives 
or mistresses to share their ideas of self-slaughter. For 
instance: in May 1897 at Paris, the police found a man 
lying dead, smothered by charcoal fumes, beside his wife, 
who was still breathing. The latter told the following 
tale : u On Sunday my husband spent his whole week's 
wages on absinthe. Monday, he showed signs of suicidal 
intentions, and would not let me do any work. Next 



day he ordered me to buy a bushel of charcoal and 
borrow a brazier, which we kindled after papering up the 
doors and windows, and writing a letter he dictated." In 
this letter they said : " We have but one wish, to be united 
in the same coffin. 1 ' 

A jealous man, who is weary of his life, kills the woman 
he is in love with and then himself. The jealous woman 
who has ideas of suicide often succeeds in making her 
lover share them too, as in the following instance. In 
April 1895, a man and a woman were found in a bed- 
room at an hotel lying dead from charcoal fumes and 
closely embraced in each other's arms. The woman 
having recovered consciousness, related how, although 
married and the mother of six children, she had been 
the mistr.ess of the man stretched beside her, who was 
likewise married and the father of a family ; she went 
on to say that they had chosen to die together in order 
to escape the vexations involved in their false position. 
She stated further that the initiative had been taken by 
her lover. But as a matter of fact the judicial enquiry 
established the fact that it was she who had urged the 
commission of the act; jealous of the lawful wife and 
failing to induce her lover to break with her, she had 
made up her mind to suicide, so great was the pain 
this sharing of his affection occasioned her, and had suc- 
ceeded in getting her lover to adopt the same resolution. 
She had gone to find him at his work and had taken 
him to the hotel to die there along with her. It was 
further shown by the enquiry that neither the woman, 
mother of six children as she was, nor the man, though 
father of a family, had felt any hesitation about 
abandoning their little ones, and that they were both 
happy and content to die. The woman had left the 
following lines : " I regret nothing I have done, do not 
weep for me ; I only ask one thing — my children's for- 
giveness." The lover's letter ran thus : " I ask pardon 
with clasped hands of my two children. I quit this 
world quite happy and without regret." 


When in the Middle Ages, under the empire of 
enthusiastic faith, a call to the religious vocation took 
the place of suicide, a man who entered the cloister in 
despair at disappointed love sought to draw the object 
of his passion there as well. When Abelard decided to 
go into a monastery, he forced Heloïse to take her vows 
before he had pronounced his own. 

M. Sighele is of opinion that, in all instances of double 
suicide from love, u the one who decides the other to commit 
suicide is hardly ever the actual, material author of his own 
and his companion's death ; it is the weaker of the two, the 
one that did not originally wish to die at all, but was over- 
persuaded to this extreme course, that first strikes down the 
loved one and then commits suicide." " Here we have," 
he adds, "an instance of specialization of function; in every 
suicidal, as in every criminal, double partnership, one plans, 
the other does." I have not myself noticed anything of 
the kind ; in almost all cases, the woman, afraid of failing 
in her purpose or disfiguring herself, begs her lover to kill 
her before putting an end to himself. I have never yet 
known a case of double suicide where the woman first struck 
down her lover and then proceeded to kill herself. This 
only happens when a woman commits a murder out of 
jealousy or revenge, and then puts an end to herself from 
remorse, but then this is not a case of double suicide at all. 
The one who carries out a double suicide with fire-arms is 
almost invariably the lover; the reason is plain enough, 

and is given by Mme. Z , when she says to Chambige : 

41 You will kill me and yourself afterwards ; you are a man, 
and should be braver than a woman." The woman does 
not possess courage enough to kill her lover with his 
consent and then turn the weapon upon herself. In an 
exceptional instance, a woman of great energy of character, 
who wished to kill herself along with her lover, said : 
"The idea that vexes me is that of disfiguring myself; 
hut no matter, if Ferdinand's courage fails, I will take 
the pistol, place it under my chin and so blow my 
brains out. When Ferdinand sees me dead at his 


feet, he will not have the courage to endure life any 

Death by means of charcoal fumes and drowning give 
lovers the means of dying together without the necessity 
for one of the two to preface his own suicide by the murder 
of the other ; after kindling a brazier, they merely lie down 
on the bed in each other's arms, or else throw themselves 
simultaneously into the water. Instances are also known 
where lovers provide themselves each with a pistol, to the 
trigger of which is fastened a ribbon ; the young man pulls 
the ribbon of the girl's pistol, while the latter does the same 
to the man's, both firing at the same moment at a given 

The lover whose hand does not shake at firing several 
revolver shots at his mistress, is less firm when he turns 
.the weapon upon himself; he does not fail to hit his 
mistress in a vital spot, but he often does so in his own 
case. Then very frequently the instinct of self-preservation 
asserts itself, his excitement cools and he has no» wish 
left to start afresh; "We wished to die together," one 
lover explained; "but I was unfortunate, I failed in my 
first attempt, and I had not the courage to fire a second 
shot at myself." It is just because the lover not un- 
frequently bungles the attempt on his own life and is 
afraid to try again, that Justice, confronted by" the dead 
girl and the lover whose attempt on himself has been 
ineffectual, requires the latter to give an account of his 
conduct. On the other hand, I have known a case where 
the lover killed himself, but failed where his mistress was 
concerned. — If the woman survives her wounds, she never 
forgives the lover who has recoiled at the last moment 
for his lack of determination. Lately, a master at the 
College of P , though at the time a man of thirty- 
seven, married, and the father of a family, had entered 
into relations of intimacy with a married lady of thirty- 
two, the mother of a little boy. Not being able to con- 
tinue the intrigue, the lovers decided to kill themselves, 
the man with a pistol, the woman by means of a strong 


dose of laudanum. The latter drank the poison, but her 
life was saved by the energetic measures taken to counter- 
act its effects. Learning afterwards that her lover had 
not kept his promise of shooting himself, she conceived 
so violent an anger against him that she bought a bottle 
of sulphuric acid and threw it in his face. 

A woman, even when quite a young girl, when she has 
once made up her mind to die with her lover or her fiancé, 
is more obstinate in her purpose than a man ; she begins 
afresh her attempts at suicide, when the first have failed. 
A girl who had chosen to die with her fiancé because her 
family were opposed to the match, after receiving a pistol 
shot in the head which only inflicted a slight wound, 
besought her companion to shoot her again. — But the most 
striking example of a woman's extraordinary tenacity of 
purpose when once she has resolved to die with her lover 

is that of Mme. X , Dr Bancal's mistress ; for seven 

long hours the lover was engaged in bleeding, hacking, 
poisoning his mistress, giving a dose of poison after using 
the bistoury, returning once more to the bistoury after the 

poison, without Mme. X expressing a single regret 

or manifesting any desire for the butchery to cease; it 
seemed as though it were a pleasure to her to receive 
death at her lover's hand. Corneille, who has expressed 
with such marvellous perspicacity every feeling of the 
human heart, makes Creuse say, speaking to Jason : 

" Laisse-moi le bonheur d'expirer à ta vue ; 
Souffre que j'en jouisse en ce dernier moment." * 

Médée, Act v. Se. 5. 

The two lovers had selected a strange mode of death, 
they had formed the project in fact of opening their veins 
and bleeding to death. I copy the account given by 
Dr Bancal before the Court of Assize : 

" It was during the night of the 23rd, 24th, that L 

asked me to end her days, saying : ' We must begin.' I 

1 " Leave me the bliss of dying as I gaze on thee ; suffer me to enjoy that 
tight at this last moment of my life." 


answered : i We have plenty of time.' She returned : 
' But you forget you told me it would perhaps be a long 
business ... ; we must begin.' I opened two veins in 
her legs, and she lost a great deal of blood, . . . and 
fainted away. On her recovering consciousness, I asked 
her whether she wished" to go on living, and she said 
1 No ! ' I spoke to her of using my bistoury, but she told 
me she did not wish her heart pierced with cold steel. I 
then asked her if she would drink some acetate of morphia, 
which I had brought with me. To this she assented ; I 
divided the poison into two portions, of which I gave her 
one and swallowed another glassful myself, ... I then 
opened the artery in her left arm. While this was doing, 
day broke ; I asked her a second time if she wished to 
live, and again she said ' No ! ' and begged me to get 
done with it ' You spoke to me of a means, employ it/ 
she said ; ' we must make an end, make an end ! ' I gave 
her a cut with my bistoury, but it was not strong enough ; 
I gave myself one also. We remained so some moments, 

thinking our last hour was come. L presently re- 

vived : ' I do not feel myself to be dying/ she said, c we 
must begin again; try to make this the final one. . . .' 
I struck her a second blow, and she said : ' Ah ! that is 
a good one ! ' and pressed my hand. After that, she never 
stirred again. I then cut myself three times with my 
bistoury ; I lost blood, but I did not succeed in killing 
myself. I plunged the instrument three times more into 
my open wounds, and turned it round and round, without 
any better success." When at last the room was entered, 

Mme. X was found dead, and Dr Bancal lying bathed 

in his blood. When compresses were applied to his 
wounds, he endeavoured to tear them off, declaring he 
wished to die ; he would not allow them to remove his 
mistress's dead body, crying repeatedly he was going to 
join her soon. Some days afterwards, while his wounds 
were being dressed, he introduced his finger into one of 
them to tear it wider open. Again during the course of 
his examination, he twice over tried to kill himself. 


The incredible obstinacy with which Dr Bancal strove to 
kill his mistress, the courage with which the latter submitted 
voluntarily to these murderous operations, are both to be 
accounted for by the amorous exaltation which intoxicated 
them. A state of amorous, as of any other kind of exalta- 
tion, mystical or political, supplies a special energy that 
makes pain unfelt It eyen makes it sweet and pleasant 
to die by the hand of the person loved. 

"Oh ! qu'un coup de poignard de toi me serait doux ! " l HERNANI. 

This strange cry, that would seem to be the utterance 
of a maniac, is yet a natural enough one in the mouth of 
a passionate lover. 

It might well seem that if there is one profession more 
than another that should cure the spirit of romantic exalta- 
tion, it is the medical. Nevertheless, Dr Bancal is not 
the only doctor who has chosen to die together with his 
mistress. There was a notorious case at Berne in 1864, 
in which a Dr Demure and his fiancée poisoned themselves 

In fact no profession is a safeguard against this amorous 
delirium, so akin to positive madness, when passion has 
once reached its paroxysm, and so closely connected with 
suicide, when it is thwarted. 

44 Même l'homme du peuple et le moindre garçon, 
A qui certes jamais Zenon ne fît leçon, 
Même la jeune fille, humble enfant qui s'ignore, 
Qui se sentait dresser les cheveux hier encore 
Au seul mot de mourir, tout d'un coup enhardis, 
Ils vont oser régler ces apprêts si maudits, 
Méditer longuement, d'un œil plein de constance, 
Le poison ou le fer, leur unique assistance." 2 

1 •' Oh ! how sweet would be a dagger thrust from thee ! " 
* •• Even the common man, and the meanest lad, whom Zeno certainly never 
taught the lesson of Stoicism, even the young girl, poor ignorant child, who 
but yesterday would feel her hair rise on end at the mere name of Death, in 
an instant grown courageous, are bold to make their dismal preparations for 
suicide, and weigh deliberately, with unflinching eye, poison or the steel — 
their only hope of aid." Leopardi, translated by Sainte-Beuve. 



" The only implacable hatreds are those of Love." 

Propertius, II. viii. 3. 

I have described in the two preceding chapters how 
Love frequently paves the way to Despair and Death, 
whether voluntary or involuntary. I intend to enquire 
in the present one in what ways Love may be changed 
into Hate, and how this loving Hate may lead directly to 
the murder of the beloved object. " I hate and I love/' 
Catullus says ; " you will ask me perhaps how this can be ; 
nay ! I cannot tell you, I only know it is so, and suffer in the 
knowledge." What is the explanation of this love, instinct 
with hate ? Why is it that magistrates, when questioning 
women accused of having killed their lover, constantly 
hear them plead in excuse : " I should never have killed 
him, had I not loved him " ? 

La Rochefoucauld was right when he said : " If we 
judge Love by the most of its effects, it has more kinship 
to hate than to friendship." Love it is, in very deed, that 
strikes the savage blow, love that kills by steel and fire ; 
the lover knifes the object of his affections, the mistress 
shoots her lover or throws vitriol in his face. Thus Love 
is very near akin to hate and hate to love. It may even 
be said there is ever something of hate in love and of love 
in hate. A jealous man loves and hates at one and the 
same time ; he is tender at once and brutal ; he over- 
whelms the person loved with caresses, longing all the 
while to strangle Tier. Tortured by jealousy, lovers quarrel 
and make it up again with kisses, love and hate ; a prey 
to the most contradictory emotions, they pass from love 


to hate, and from hate to love. Reproaches, recriminations 
and bitter words form part of the tenderest passion, even 
when reciprocated, making it at once sweet and bitter. 

Love is so near a neighbour to hate, that the lover hates 
the woman he adores, if she resist his wishes, nay ! some- 
times hates her after she has yielded to his desires. 
Amnon, son of David, we read in the Bible, deeply en- 
amoured of his sister, " forced her and lay with her. Then 
Amnon hated her exceedingly ; so that the hatred where- 
with he hated her was greater than the love wherewith he 
had loved her." 1 In the love affairs of monarchs, so near 
is love to hate, that there is a very small interval between 
adoring and murdering the beloved person. The loves of 
King Henry VIII. ended in the disgrace of Catherine of 
Aragon, the decapitation of Anne Boleyn, the repudiation 
of Anne of Cleves, the decapitation of Catherine Howard. 

What a strange mixture of love and hate was displayed 
in the tragic liaison between the poet Alfred de Musset 
and the great novelist Georges Sand ! Loving madly and 
hating furiously, they part with screams of fury only to 
come together once more with a burst of tenderness. This 
torment they renew again and again, finally coming out of 
this duel of the affections, mangled and sore with hard fight- 
ing, weeping, groaning and broken-hearted, filled with an 
imperative need to confide to the public their sufferings 
and grievances, in verses dripping tears and novels full of 
gall and bitter sobs ! The life these lovers led together 
was so grievous, that after the rupture of their relations 
Georges Sand wrote to Sainte-Beuve saying she would 
rather blow out her brains than begin afresh the existence 
she had known with Alfred de Musset. After a reconcilia- 
tion which preceded thé final separation, she had already 
written to her lover: "Shall we go and blow our brains 
out together at Franchard ? 'twill be the quickest way to 
end it." And some days later on, Alfred de Musset him- 
self, not less weary of the life he led with his capricious 
mistress, at once adoring and despising her, reminded her 

1 2 Samuel, xiii. 14, 15. 


of this projected suicide, writing to her in these words : 
"... If you are for renouncing life . . . remember the 
oath you swore me, and do not die without me." l 

Simultaneously with the first inception of a passion 
arises the possibility of a tragedy, a suicide, a murder. 
At the instant a man and a woman engage in an idyll of 
love, they very often, quite unawares, are raising a question 
of life and death ; and if they were not blinded by love, 
they might well ask themselves : 

" Mais qui sait ce qu'il doit ordonner de mon sort, 
Et si je viens chercher ou la vie ou la mort ? w * 

Indeed it is no uncommon thing to see a love idyll 
transformed into a tragedy. In his essay on Bajaset, La 
Harpe says in the course of a severe criticism of the 
piece : " Idylls should not be made the preludes of 
murders." But this literary dictum rests surely on an 
incorrect observation of the psychological facts; as a 
matter of fact love idylls do frequently end in sanguinary 
dramas. Love, the principle of life, is often a principle 
of death to boot. When Dante in the Inferno goes down 
into the second circle of hell, he sees there "more than a 
thousand shades . . . that Love hath sent out of life." 

It was not without good reason that the Greeks, who 
assigned to Venus (Aphrodite) the most pleasing and 
poetical epithets, gave her also one grim and horrid title, 
that of the " murderous Venus." 3 The records of our Courts 
of Law attest the fact that no name can be better justified. 
Every day the Correctional Tribunals and the Assize 
Courts have before them men who have struck, insulted, 
killed women they loved, and women guilty of the same 
violence towards their lovers. In several cases of the 
sort, I have noted the fact that the lover had killed 
or tried to kill his mistress a few moments after having 

1 Marieton, p. 194. 

- " Yet who knows what may l>e ordained me by fate, and if I am to find 
life or death?" 

* Plutarch, De Amort. The Romans spoke of Saevtts Amor (Cruel Love). 


bad intimacy with her. It is the most violent affections 
that are followed by the most ferocious hatreds. 

Without actually resorting to crime, lovers constantly 
make each other suffer, as if they were mortal foes. When 
still in the period of ecstatic passion, they could not credit 
a possible to-morrow of hate and anger ; yet after a few 
weeks' time, we often see them tormenting and torturing 
one another. Taught by experience, Georges Sand was 
so well aware of the truth that love will often change to 
hate, that at the very beginning of her new liaison with 
Dr Pagello, she wrote to him : " I love you, because you 
please my fancy ; it may be I shall find myself forced to 
hate you before long." 

Why does Hermione have Pyrrhus, whom she loves, 
murdered? Why does Roxane cause Bajazet, whom she 
would fain marry, to be strangled ? Why does Othello 
smother Desdemona, whom he adores? La Bruyère has 
supplied a word of explanation to account for this strange 
mixture of love and hate that fills lovers' hearts : a lover 
longs to make all the happiness, or if this cannot be, then 
all the unhappiness, of the one he loves. " To love is to 
love oneself; a man loves in order to be happy, for his 
own sake, for the bliss he hopes to win from the object of 
his affections. The lover loves the loved one, as the 
wolf loves the lamb." l The fact is he is more preoccupied 
with his own happiness than with the happiness of the 
individual he loves, — a truth which has been finely ex- 
pressed by Corneille in the following verses : 

44 Vous-même qui brûlez d'un amour si fidèle, 
Aimez-vous Domitie ou vos plaisirs en elle ? 
Et quand vous aspirez à des lieux si doux, 
Est-ce pour l'amour d'elle ou pour Pamour de vous ? 
De sa possession l'aimable et chère idée 
Tient vos sens enchantés et votre âme obsédée. . . . 
C'est par là qu'elle seule a droit de vous charmer, 
Et vous n'aimez que vous quand vous croyez l'aimer. " 2 

1 Plato. 

* •* Nay ! you yourself who burn with so faithful a love, do you love Domitia 
or but the joys you find in her ? And when you aspire to such fond regions, 


Happiness on the part of the person loved is a torment, 
an insult, for the lover, if he is not the author of it, and 
does not share it ; he will cry with Phèdre : 

" Non, je ne puis souffrir un bonheur qui m'outrage. w * 

What drives the jealous lover mad, is the thought of the 
happiness his mistress is about to enjoy with his rival, and 
it is to hinder that happiness he kills her. 

The same sentiment dominates the forsaken woman ; 
she might perhaps resign herself to her abandonment, if 
she were not tortured by the thought of her lover's coming 
happiness with another woman. She kills him to prevent 
his tasting this felicity ; she cannot bear him to be happy 
except through herself. The eighth of August 1891, the 
Assize Court of the Department of the Bouches-du-Rhône 
adjudicated on the case of a married woman of thirty-five, 
who had fallen in love with her cousin, a young man of 
twenty-five, himself married and father of a child. She 
commenced by sowing dissension between him and his 
wife, subsequently poisoning her own husband that she 
might belong entirely to her lover. Soon however she 
began to notice a progressive coldness on the part of her 
lover ; he felt regret for having treated his wife as he had 
done, and was anxious to make it up with her. She made 
desperate efforts to prevent any such reconciliation ; then 
presently, when she was convinced her lover was going to 
escape her, rather than see him happy with his wife and 
child, she poisoned him. The lover suffers positive pain 
at the happiness of the loved one when it comes from 
another, and longs accordingly to turn it into unhappiness; 
he would rather see the woman he loves unhappy or even 
dead than happy with another. There are only a very few 
lovers of a gentle, timid disposition, individuals in whom 

is it for love of her or of yourself? The flattering and tender thought of 
possessing her holds your senses bewitched and your soul enthralled . . . 
herein alone has she power to charm you, and all you love is yourself, when 
you think you are loving her." Corneille, Tite et Bérénice % Act i. Sc. 3. 
1 " No 1 I cannot endure to see a bliss that is an outrage to roe." 


the psychical side of love is better developed than the 
physiological, who kill themselves, expressing a wish mean- 
time that the girl who has refused to marry them, or the 
mistress of whom they are jealous, may be happy with 
another. They say like one of the characters in Psyché: 

u Vivez, belle Princesse, et vivez pour un autre ; 

Nous le verrons d'un œil jaloux, 
Nous en mourrons, mais d'un trépas plus doux 

Que s'il nous fallait voir le vôtre. 
Et si nous ne mourons en vous sauvant le jour, 
Quelque amour qu' à nos yeux vous préfériez au nôtre, 
Nous voulons bien mourir de douleur et d'amour." l 

In the first chapter of the present work, I gave a certain 
number of instances of unfortunate or jealous lovers who 
die of love and grief or kill themselves in despair, desiring 
all the while that the object of their passion may be happy 
with another. To the cases there adduced, I may add 
another of quite recent date. A young man, twenty-nine 
years of age, belonging to a highly respectable family, 
being in love with a girl of a coquettish and fickle nature, 
tormented by jealousy, but without the courage to break 
off the connection, preferred to commit suicide after break- 
fasting for the last time with her. After the meal he had 
two letters delivered to her, one for her relations, the other 
for herself. Then he took a carriage to the Bois de 
Boulogne, and quitting it on his arrival, went off and shot 
himself dead with a revolver. This is a copy of the letter 
he wrote to the girl he loved : 

"My Dear Louise, 

" Farewell ! I ask but one thing, your forgiveness. My 
only fault is to love you too much, my dear ; I am unable 
to ensure your happiness. But, dear little woman, do not 
be cast down ; you are young and pretty and clever, you 

1 " Live on, fair Princess, and live for another ; we shall look on him with 
a jealous eye, we shall die at the sight, but by a gentler death than if we had 
to behold yours. And if we do not die, while saving your life to enjoy some 
love that we see you preferring to our own, yet would we right fain expire of 
grief and love." Psycki y Act ii. Sc. 4. 


have every gift to win love, and you will certainly find 
some one less dull than I am, who will understand you 
better ; he will not love you so well, but he will amuse you 
far more. Then, my dear, two men at once, — 'tis surely 
one too many. No doubt, if I saw you indifferent to your 
friend the avocat^ I should not grieve, but every time you 
mention him, your face is wreathed in smiles. No ! dearest; 
he is not indifferent to you, you like him ; well, then ! I am 
one too many. So I am dying for you, to make you 
happy. Your happiness is all I wish, darling little girl. 
In return I only ask your forgiveness. You will know 
there is one man on earth who loved you very sincerely, 
and he has never played you false. Farewell, farewell, 
Louise, you are my only love, and my last Farewell, I 
give you a thousand kisses. Excuse my scribble; but 
remember my last day is come, and in my present state I 
cannot write better. Farewell, I die for you, Louise. 

Men who kill themselves to work the happiness of the 
woman they love, but who do not love them, are few in 
number. No doubt to love is to wish the happiness of the 
person loved, but on condition of sharing it oneself, of 
being its author, to wish in fact one's own happiness as 
involved in the possession of the beloved object » The 
natural cry of passion is Médée's : " I, I alone, and I am 

The effects of Love vary according to the character of 
those experiencing it. All men do not love after the same 
fashion, because they have not the same temperament, the 
same disposition. There are several sorts of love. The 
love that comes more from the heart than from the senses 
still remains tender and resigned, if it is unfortunate ; it 
suffers " more in sorrow than in anger " ; it is rarely 
tempted to resort to murder ; if it dees feel the tempta- 
tion, it escapes it by suicide ; it would rather die than kill, 
and dies forgiving. 

The love that kills and poisons and inflicts pain is sensual 


Jove. This it is that fills men with hate and spite and 
vindictiveness. In brutal natures, physical love becomes 
phrenzy at the smallest opposition, and leads to the com- 
mission of the most savage acts of violence. The man 
grows mad to satisfy his sexual desires ; he seizes the knife 
to strike the woman that resists him, just as the male 
among brutes uses his claws and teeth to subjugate the 
female to his appetites or punish her resistance. In 
order to possess a woman who resists or even one who- 
merely asks delay before yielding, we see men threaten her 
with a knife, level a revolver at her, squeeze her throat till 
she is all but strangled. The craving to possess is some- 
times so violent, mere delay is cause enough for an 
outburst of fury. I knew the case of a young man who- 
killed his fiancée because she refused to let him have her 
before marriage. The girl's mother having remarked to 
him "that he would have her at Easter," he replied, 
" Easter is too long, I cannot wait." Another young man 
killed the girl he loved and whom he had asked in wedlock 
because she answered she was still too young to marry. 

Murderers from love express their craving to possess by 
the cry, "I must have her." "By force or fraud I must 
have her ! " said one murderer of this kind. " I mtist have 
her, even if I should go to the scaffold for it," cried another 
lover who had been shown the door. So much is this 
seemingly trivial phrase the natural cry of sexual passion^ 
that the greatest of Christian orators, Bossuet, makes use of 
it in the pulpit : " Twill perhaps be but a glance," he says. 
. . . * But beware. ... A fire darts from vein to vein. He 
must have her ; he must win her. But it is adultery ; what 
matter for that ? " The phrenzy of the man who murders 
the woman who resists him arises from the violence of the 
craving, which is impatient to be satisfied and irritated at 
every obstacle it encounters. 

The ferocity of the murderer from motives of love comes 
not only from the violence of his passion, but also from the 
exasperation due to wounded self-love. A man who is 
repulsed by the woman he is enamoured of, is as deeply 


hurt in his pride as in his affections, and his chagrin easily 
grows into an implacable hate, greedy for revenge. "You 
struck this poor girl in the most cowardly and treacherous 
way," a judge of the Court of Assize said to a prisoner in 
the dock, "you wished to kill her?" "Yes!" replied the 
accused, "because she would not love me, because she 
scorned me." The Judge : " You wanted to revenge your- 
self for her disdain?" The Accused\ "Yes! for her disdain, 
which has driven me mad." — The workman Laffargue, 
whose crime of passion inspired Stendhal with so strange 
an admiration, had some days before he murdered his 
mistress, put the following question to an ex-gendarme of 
his acquaintance, making as though it were a case that 
interested one of his comrades : " What would you do, if 
you were attached to a woman, and she would not see you 
anymore, but left you in the lurch?" "Why! I would 
console myself with another," answered the gendarme philo- 
sophically. " You talk mighty fine," retorted Laffargue ; 
"that's all very well in theory, but in practice it's not 
so easy, I can tell you." "All a mistake," replied the 
gendarme ; " if your friend will look close, he will find all 
his grief of mind comes from offended self-love." Laffargue 
thought a moment, and then exclaimed : " True enough, 
self-love does play the chief part in the matter." 

Love is more cruel in men than in animals, because, 
if vanity increases the pleasure of possession, self-love 
wounded by disdain largely augments the pain of rejection 
and the desire for vengeance. This simple explanation of 
crime as the result of passion, which occurred to the mind 
of a plain gendarme, yet escaped the sagacity of Stendhal, 
who is accounted by Taine, I know not why, the greatest 
psychologist of the Nineteenth Century. Oreste, Pyrrhus, 
Hermione, Roxane, Médée are victims every one of them 
quite as much of self-love as of love. Racine, who as a 
psychologist is of a very different order of penetration to 
Stendhal, depicts Oreste as " ashamed to have uttered so 
many useless vows," as dreading to become " the bye-word 
of Epirus," like the young lover who, rejected by thé girl 


he wants to marry, kills her out of vexation, exclaiming» 
" People will say she would not have me ! " — Hermione is 
proud and haughty ; offended and humiliated by the scorn 
of Pyrrhus, she boils with rage, when told that Pyrrhus 
disdains her: 

M Qui vous l'a dit, seigneur, qu'il me méprise ? 
Jugez- vous que ma vie inspire du mépris ? n l 

She suffers cruelly in her pride from Pyrrhus' disdain. 
How this scorn of his will avenge Oreste for the in- 
difference she shows to him ! 

" Quelle honte pour moi ! Quel triomphe pour lui I 
Est-ce là, dira-t-il, cette fière Hermione ? 
Elle me dédaignait, un autre l'abandonne. 1 ' a 

Unable to sit still under the blow of this humiliating 
neglect, she thinks that " her repute " requires her to exact 
vengeance ; 

" Si je le hais, Cléone, il y va de ma gloire." 3 

Chimène has the same cry for revenge, and almost all 
Corneille's heroines, whose pride impels them to claim 
vengeance, and the thought of their wounded honour. 

" Il y va de ma gloire, il faut que je me venge," 4 

exclaims Chimène ; and again in Pulchérie, Irène declares : 

44 Après deux ans d'amour, il y va de ma gloire, 
L'affront serait trop grand." u 

When Médée is hesitating whether she shall exact 
vengeance on Jason or no, it is the remembrance of the 
affront she has received and the fear of becoming the 

1 •* Who told you, my lord, that he scorns me ? Think you my life inspires 
him with contempt ? " 

1- * What shame for me ! What triumph for him ! Is yonder, he will cry, 
tfce proud Hermione ? She scorned me ; another now forsakes her." 

* *' If I hate him, Cléone, 'tis due to my repute I should." 
4 '* Tb doe to my repute ; I must avenge myself." 

• '* After two years of love, 'tis a question of my good repute, the insult 
would be too unbearable. " 


laughing-stock of her enemies, that kindle her anger afresh 
and reawake the thirst for revenge 

" Ah, me ! " she exclaims in Euripides' tragedy of Medea, 
" unhappy victim of my untameable pride. . . . Should 
I become a mockery to my foes by leaving my enemies 
unpunished? Up, up, Medea, prepare your plans. . . . 
You must never be a laughing-stock in the eyes of 
Sisyphus and Jason." 

What is it but pride wounded by Bajazet's indifference 
that inspires Roxane with her longing for revenge ? This 
Sultana, who calls on Bajazet to marry her, and offers 
herself to him, the crown in one hand, the rope in the other, 
breathes only vengeance when once she sees herself dis- 
dained : 

14 Qu'il meure ! Vengeons-nous." 1 

The woman who has been forsaken suffers moreover in 
her self-esteem at the thought that her enemies and her 
rival will laugh at her abandonment. This is the feeling 
that stirs Hermione when she says to Pyrrhus : 

" Vous venez de mon front observer la pâleur, 
Pour aller dans ses bras rire de ma douleur." * 

Nor is it only the kings and queens of tragedy that 
commit crimes of passion as much from wounded self- 
esteem as from disappointed love. The most common- 
place criminals, mere working men and women, are not 
less susceptible in this direction, not less easily wounded 
in their pride by the scorn of the one they love. It is 
beyond belief how great is the part played by self-love ir 
amatory crimes committed by men of the people ; it maj 
be their susceptibility is even more acute than that c 
better born folks. 

It is now some years ago that I was present at the tri 
of one Silvy at the Assizes of the Department of t 
Bouches-du- Rhône. He was a young farmer, who had c 

1 " Let him die ; we must have vengeance." 

9 " You come to note the pallor of my brow, to return to her arms and r 
merry at my pain." 


flight made his way into his sister-in-law's bedroom, with 
whom he was deeply smitten, and with savage fury dealt 
her four stabs with a knife in the throat, the bosom and 
the arms, all because the young woman, another man's 
wife and the mother of three small children, had refused to 
yield to his wishes. Cross-examination brought out the 
fact that the young murderer was afflicted with a repul- 
sive disease, and had been excessively wounded in his 
self-esteem by the disgust he inspired in his sister-in- 
law's mind. 

It is with this same desire of exacting vengeance for the 
scorn of the woman who repels their advances that rejected 
lovers do not limit themselves to killing their victim ; 
they slander her into the bargain, falsely pretending they 
have received her favours, in order to salve their humiliated 
self-esteem. I was myself on the bench at the trial in the 
Assize Court of the Bouches-du-Rhone of a certain Sicard, 
who was for ever persecuting with prayers and menaces a 

young girl named Amélie B , the daughter of a popular 

and highly respected railway employé. At the instance of 
the girl's parents, the Commissary of Police had Sicard 
summoned before him and represented to him how unreason- 
able were his endeavours to force the girl to listen to his 
offers of love. Wounded in his self-love, Sicard answered 
to the effect that she had not always scorned him, but had 
several times come to see him. This was an odious calumny, 
for an autopsy of the girl's dead body, held subsequently, 
proved her a virgin. Still under the domination of the 
violent chagrin the girl's disdain occasioned him, Sicard 
proposed to a printer that he should publish in his paper 
some verses he had written and in which he had the 
effrontery to allude to the favours he had never actually 
received. On the printer's refusing, he flew into a violent 
passion and threatened to smash his presses. Anxious at 
any price to overcome the girl's resistance, he showed her 
a bottle of sulphuric acid and a loaded revolver, threatening 
to use them if she persisted in her rejection of him. A few 
days later he bought two large-bladed kitchen knives, lay 


in irçait for Amélie at the door of the workroom where skt 
was employed and called on her to stop. On her refusal 
to do so, he gave her three knife thrusts in the back, and 
the poor child fell dead, after uttering two loud screams* 

The accused in this instance was a common scamp, a 
conceited, quarrelsome, dissipated fellow. It was different 
with the two elders who calumniated Susannah, in order to 
avenge themselves for her disdain ; for they were both 
of them Judges respected for their wisdom. The story is 
very old, but it might well have happened yesterday, so 
striking is the actuality of its details. The two old men, 
who had conceived a violent passion for Susannah, used 
to be constantly meeting in the neighbourhood of her 
abode, but took good care not to confess to one another 
the motive that brought them thither, each hoping to 
achieve success before the other. One day, however, their 
secret slipped out ; after walking a while underneath 
Susannah's windows, they went away, each his own way, 
to dine. Each made what haste he could to return to 
his post of observation, and meeting afresh without an 
excuse to account for their presence in the same spot, 
they were constrained to mutually avow their passion. 
The sequel is familiar to all. Daniel, who displays all 
the acumen of a trained examining magistrate of our 
own day, questioned them separately, proved the existence 
of contradictions in the accounts given by the two judges, 
and confounded the calumniators of Susannah's good 
name. Nowadays, no less than two thousand years ago, 
the slanderers of a good woman who resists attempts on 
her virtue, are often functionaries of high rank, who 
having the woman in their service and under their orders, 
revenge themselves for her rejection of their proposals 
by evil insinuations. In other instances, we find men 
who have been repulsed by a married woman they are 
enamoured of, intentionally rousing the husband's jealousy 
in order to sow dissension between the couple, and so 
make the wife unhappy. 

Similarly women who see themselves repulsed by men 


they love do not hesitate to employ calumny as a means 
of revenge for the slight History is full of accounts of 
such acts of female vengeance. Racine has not failed to 
attribute this trait to Phèdre; as soon as the wife of 
Theseus realizes with certainty that she cannot induce 
Hippolyte to share her guilty passion, furious at the 
affront, she accuses him to his father of having wished 
to ravish her, instilling her evil insinuations with an 
essentially feminine artfulness: 

" . . . La fortune jalouse 
N'a point en votre absence épargné votre épouse, 
Indigne de vous plaire et de vous approcher, 
Je ne dois désormais songer qu'à me cacher." l 

When a magistrate questions a woman who has avenged 
her lover's desertion of her by murdering him, he often 
receives the reply : " I had too much pride to submit to 
such an affront ; honour required me to exact vengeance." 
The prouder a woman's character, the more exasperated 
is she at the scorn she has had to put up with, the more 
does she dream of vengeance. A woman who loves 
fondly, but has little pride, suffers bitterly at her lover's 
defection, but she does not think of punishing him. Such 
is the case with Bérénice and Mlle, de la Vallière, women 
of gentle, modest, unassuming disposition, ready for 
suffering and self-sacrifice. Médée, Hermione, Roxane, 
on the other hand, are greedy for vengeance, because 
they are full of pride. Even in crimes proceeding from 
love, it is true to say with Holy Writ that "pride is 
the root of all evil." 

The opposite sentiments of love and hate are so in- 
extricably commingled in the heart of a forsaken woman, 
or of an unhappy and jealous lover, that often they can- 
not tell themselves what their real feelings are, and 
exclaim with Hermione : 

1 '* . . . Envious fate has not in your absence spared your spouse ; un- 
worthy to please or even to come near you, I ought henceforth to think of 
saaght but to hide my face. " 


" Ah ! je ne puis savoir si j'aime ou si je hais ! n l ■■. ■ 

In very truth, they love and hate at one and the same 
time. When a maiden who has been forsaken reminds heï 
faithless lover of his promises of marriage and beseeches, 
him to keep them, she is a prey simultaneously tô anger 
and affection, she curses and covets him all at once, she 
menaces him with death, fondly loving him all the while: 
The letters she addresses to him are full of tenderness and 
violence, of appeals of love and threats of death. 

St Thomas and Pascal supply the explanation of these 
self-contradictory emotions, declaring, — the former, that 
anger is a form of concupiscence, the latter, that concupis- 
cence is at bottom only a sort of hate. Plato had long 
before noted the fact that concupiscent love quickly gives 
place to hate. 

Hermione has Pyrrhus assassinated, the man she loves 
and hates at one and the same time. Oreste, who in his 
conversation with Pylades, had been able to read his own 
heart and recognize the truth that his transports of hatred 
against Hermione were in essence but an outburst of 
feelings of tender love, does not display the same sagacity 
in reading the heart of Hermione. He proves himself a 
very short-sighted psychologist when, fresh from the 
murder of Pyrrhus at Hermione's orders, he comes to 
her to claim the promised recompense. Hermione over- 
whelms him with reproaches for having executed the very 
commands she had laid upon him. She has no recollection 
in fact of having ever given him such orders : 

" Mais, parle ; de son sort qui t'a rendu l'arbitre ? 
Pour quoi l'assassiner ? Qu'a-t-il fait ? À quel titre ? " * 

1 " Ah, me ! I cannot tell whether I love or hate ! " 
Compare also Rotrou's lines : 

" Hélas ! que résoudrai -je en cette peine extrême ? 

À peine je la hais que je sens que je l'aime." 
( " Alas ! what decision can I come to in this agony of pain ? 

Scarce do I hate her but I feel I love her still.' 7 ) 

2 "But, speak; who made you the arbiter of his fate? Why kill him? 
What has he done? What right had you? " 


Then, when Oreste reminds her of her injunctions, she 
chides him for having failed to read her thoughts, for 
having believed in the hate of a frenzied lover's heart 
Oreste had showed himself an abler psychologist, when to 
the cry of Hermione : 

" Ah ! ne souhaitez pas le destin de Pyrrhus, 
Je vous haïrais trop," l 

he replied with an acumen beyond his wont : 

" Vous m'en aimeriez plus." * 

Roxane has Bajazet slain only because she loves him 
and was fain to marry him. Médée herself, implacable 
Fury as she is, cannot refrain from telling Jason, on whom 
she is about to exact so terrible a vengeance : 

"Je t'aime encor, Jason, malgré ta lâcheté." 3 

When Pyrrhus is for wreaking vengeance on Andro- 
maque who repulses him by doing her son to death, she 
cannot believe in the possibility of such cruelty, and says 
to Céphise : 

" Crois-tu que dans son cœur il ait juré sa mort ? 
L'amour peut-il si loin pousser la barbarie?" 4 

Yes, truly! love sore humiliated by the scorn of the 
beloved one is capable of inspiring the most barbarous 
acts. Is it possible to conceive more hateful words than 
those addressed by the son of Achilles to Hector's widow : 
"Wed me, or I take your son's life." This revolting 
bargain underlies all he says : 

"Je n'épargnerai rien dans ma juste colère, 
Le fils me répondra des mépris de la mère . . . 
. . . Allez voir votre fils . . . 
Madame, en l'embrassant, songez à le sauver." 6 

1 •• Ah ! desire not Pyrrhus* death, I should hate you too exceedingly." 

2 " Nay ! you would love me better for it" 

1 4 * I love you still, Jason, spite of your cowardice." 

4 "Think you in his heart he has sworn his death? Can Love push its 
barbarous cruelty so far ? " 

1 " Naught will I spare in my just anger ; the son shall answer to me for 


The most tender and passionate lover turns into the most 
implacable enemy of the woman who repulses him; he 
declares he cannot live without her, that he loves her* and 
her only, that he is ready for any and every sacrifice to 
please her ; yet, if she will not assent to his offers of 
marriage, he fires pistol bullets at the head and bosom of the 
woman he was so eager to wed, and plants a dagger in her 
back. In 1887, the Assize Court of the Bouches-du-Rhône 
adjudicated in the case of a young shoemaker, who had 
murdered under circumstances of exceptional cruelty a 
young and charming girl, with whom he was violently in 
love, because she refused to marry him, being already 
engaged to one of her cousins. The refusal deeply 
exasperated the young man. After first writing her a 
series of passionate love-letters, which were returned to 
him, he ended by sending threatening letters ; he notified 
her that he would kill her, adding, " when all is said and 
done, I shall only get twenty years." Meeting her one 
day, he threw himself upon her, and passing an arm round 
her neck, — while the unhappy girl begged him in a broken 
voice for Mercy ! Pardon ! Pity ! — he stabbed her in the 
back with his shoemaker's knife. As she still continued 
her course, running away with the knife buried in her flesh, 
he darted after her in pursuit, crying, "What! aren't you 
dead yet?" Catching her up at last, he struck her a 
second blow, stretching her dead at his feet. 

I could tell of a hundred similar crimes. Nor are 
suchlike deeds of cruelty committed only by men of the 
common herd, whose violent passions, inadequately modi- 
fied by education, recall those of primitive savagery. Here 
is the account of a crime of love wrought in the full light 
of the seventeenth century by two men of the highest 
quality, the Abbe and the Chevalier de Ganges, Deeply 
smitten by the charms of their sister-in-law, the beautiful 
Marquise de Ganges, whose portrait Mignard painted, and 
furious at finding their suit rejected, they agreed together 

the mother's scorn . . . Go see your son . . . and lady ! as you kiss hit 
cheek, think how you may save his life." 


to exact vengeance for the slight she had put» ori. them. 1 
They forced their way at night into her bed-chamber, 
the Chevalier sword in hand, the Abbé holding in one hand 
a pistol and in the other a glass full of poison. , With one 
voice, their hearts swelling with rage and their eyes darting 
fury, they cried to the Marquise: "You must die! choose 
between fire, steel and poison." After vainly beseeching 
her brothers-in-law to spare her life, the Marquise, seeing 
the Abbé's pistol and the Chevalier's sword pointed at her 
breast, took the poison which the Abbé offered her. When 
she bad swallowed it, the murderers waited there for some 
minutes to give the poison time to produce its effect, and 
prevent anyone bringing aid to their victim. These two 
assassins, who were condemned to be broken alive on the 
wheel, belonged to most exalted society, and were men of 
wit and intellect, more especially the Abbé. • Only the 
exasperation of disappointed love had turned them into 

These examples, which I might easily multiply, show 
very clearly what we ought to think of that admiration for 
crimes of passion which Stendhal brought into fashion. 
A crowd of novelists, dramatic authors and even critics 
keep reiterating that the man who does not love to the 
pitch of crime cannot say he loves at all, that true and 
genuine love does not stick even at murder. This piece of 
literary sophistry is so widely prevalent as to be found 
in the works of two authors, not less sensible as a rule 
than witty, Jules Lemaître and Alexandre Dumas fils. 
In an analysis he gives of a play of Maurice Bouchor's 
called Michel Lando y the famous critic thus expresses him- 
self: "Suppose that Michel loves for good and all — in 
other words, as true lovers do, to madness and crime ; for 
this, as you know, is what genuine love implies." 2 Dumas 
fils % who has written so many witty and wise things, and 
some rather outspoken ones, about love, says in his turn : 

1 The poet Gilbert wrote a " Heroical Epistle " on this tragedy of love, 
^bich bad an extraordinary degree of notoriety in the seventeenth century. 
*Joutmddes Débats, 4th Jan. 1 892. 


" He who does not love like Des Grieux, 1 that is to say, 
if need be, to the pitch of committing crime or braving 
dishonour, cannot say that he really loves." 2 I am myself 
persuaded, on the contrary, that true Love is inconsistent 
with criminality, that murder from motives of amorous 
passion proves nothing but the violence of a man's cravings 
and the exasperation of his wounded self-esteem. That 
savage cry of frenzied passion, " She balked my will, I struck 
her dead," which always evokes, I cannot téll why, an ardent 
quiver of sympathetic emotion in the spectators, even the 
female portion of them, of Antony % is habitually the utter* 
ance of men in whom the Magistrates of Justice note only 
coarse sensuality, monstrous selfishness, excessive excita- 
bility, savage cruelty. The love that kills is of the same 
type as the love that commits rape ; it is as a rule the 
appanage of natures compounded of mud, and blood, and 
evil pride. If it were true that the commission of murder 
or acquiescence in dishonour were the necessary proofs of 
a genuine passion, that none can love ardently without 
killing, without wielding revolver or dagger, we should 
have to allow true love to be the exclusive prerogative of 
scoundrels ; for it is no uncommon thing to find the 
criminal record of murderers from love showing previous 
convictions for offences against the common law. Indeed» 
if it were really needful to riddle a woman with knife 
thrusts in order to become a hero of romance, we should 
have to award the cobblers the blue ribbon of Love, — at 
any rate in Provence, where I have had opportunity to 
observe them, — for it is jthey who are most frequently 
guilty of crimes of violence from love, just as it was the 
shoemakers who, in Paris during the Commune, committed 
the greatest number of acts of brutality. 

Passionate love does not involve killing either others or 
oneself. But if we must compare homicide and suicide 
as proofs of true love, I should not hesitate to declare 
suicide to be more a mark of deep affection than murder. 

1 Hero of the Abbé Prévost's famous noTcl Manon Lescaut. 
3 A Dumas fils, Entr* actes, 3rd Series, p. 238. 



Murderers from amorous passion are, as a rule, the most 
selfish, the most sensual and the most excitable of men in 
love. Lovers who die of grief or kill themselves in despair 
are truer and better men than those who turn their rage 
on others. The gentle, tender-hearted woman who, like 
Bérénice or Attalide, would rather suffer herself than cause 
others pain, loves better and more truly than the proud 
virago who, like Hermione or Roxane, does not hesitate to 
plunge into crime ; so great and noble is her love it 
enables her to forgive the very man who makes her suffer, 
and to desire for her faithless lover a happiness she can 
never share with him. 



"Tis sport for you, but death to us." 

Desertion involves every form of pain and suffering for 
a woman, — loss of the object of her love, scorn . of her 
beauty, preference accorded to her rival, public disgrace 
made yet more poignant by the dread of seeing her rival 
and the world at large mocking her grief. " When I am 
in sorrow in my convent," said Mlle, de la Vallière, after 
Louis XIV. had forsaken her and showed his preference 
for Mme. de Montespan, " I will remember all they have 
made me suffer." 

The woman who loves and is loved is proud and happy 
in the affection she inspires. Her self-respect is flattered 
by the passionate feelings displayed toward her ; preferred 
to all other women by the man she prefers to all others 
of his sex, she sees in this preference a homage to her 
beauty, sweetness and charm. The love she inspires 
increases her value both in her own eyes and those of all 
her friends ; knowing herself loved, she finds additional 
reasons for loving herself. On the other hand, when a 
woman is forsaken, what heartrending pangs must her 
affections endure, what wounds her vanity undergo ! * To 
believe herself beautiful and to be scorned, to think herself 
beloved and to be forsaken, what agony for a woman's 
self-esteem ! To lose the love that was her joy and pride, 
that satisfied at once her craving for tenderness and her 

1 When Catherine de Médicis laid proposals before Elizabeth of England, 
then thirty years of age, of a union with her son Charles IX., a boy of fifteen, 
the Queen replied she was too old for so young a monarch, who would neglect 
her. "I would rather die," she said, "than see myself scorned and for- 
saken." Mignet, Marie Stuart % vol. i. p. 179. 


lust of power, what a bitter downfall of all her dreams f 
In very truth, desertion is not only the loss of the object 
of a woman's affection ; it means also the scorn of the 
lover, and her humiliation in all her neighbours' eyes. 
The death of the man she loves would be far less cruel 
than his unfaithfulness. If she lost him by death, she 
could at least find some consolation in weeping over 
his grave ; time would change her sorrow into a gentle 

But when the loss of the beloved one is aggravated by 
his preference shown to a rival, what " a sorrow's crown of 
sorrow " is here ! Her wretchedness is augmented by the 
slight inflicted on her beauty, the ingratitude of her faithless 
admirer, the triumph of another woman. Her sufferings 
are all expressed in the heart-broken cry of Phèdre on 
learning she has a rival : 

" Œnone, qui l'eût cru ? J'avais une rivale, 
... Ah ! douleur non encore éprouvée." l 

This bitterness of the forsaken woman grows into rage 
and fury at the thought that the being she adores and who 
scorns her, loves another, that he is happy with her and in 
her affection. She experiences the feeling Racine attributes 
to one of his heroines : 

" Votre mort (pardonnez aux fureurs des amants), 
Ne me paraissait pas le plus grand des tourments." 8 

u The bitterest of all torments," Corneille tells us in one 
of his less successful pieces, pieces in which nevertheless 
many fine lines are to be found : 

" (Cest) voir en d'autres mains passer tout ce qu'on aime, 
Cest un malheur encor plus grand que le trépas." 3 

To these grievous sufferings common to all women for- 

1 " Œooné, who could have credited it ? I had a rival, ... Ah ! bitter- 
ness beyond all bitterness yet endured ! " 

* "Your death (forgive the fierce transports of loving hearts), your death 
seemed not to be the bitterest of all torments." 

* *• Is to see all one loves pass into other hands ; 'tis a grief even bitterer 
tfcaa death itself." Corneille, Agésilas, Act i. Sc. 3. 


saken by those they love, must be added yet others in the 
case of a young girl who has been seduced and then de- 
serted after receiving promises of marriage. Such a one 
suffers in her honour no less than in her love, and more 
than in her pride ; what drives her to despair, is not solely 
the treachery of her fiancé, but the loss of her good name 
as well. 

A large number of young girls allow themselves to be 
seduced under promise of marriage to follow, and are then 
abandoned by their lovers. Poetry, novels and the stage 
have cast such a glamour over seduction, without giving 
a thought to the consequences resulting to the victim add 
her offspring, that many young fellows dream only of 
winning the aureole of Don Juan, and have no hesitation 
in making promises of marriage they never intend to fulfil. 
Public opinion, which is extremely hard toward the woman 
who has fallen, being on the other hand very indulgent for 
the author of her seduction, the employment of this form 
of deception is held to be quite a matter of course. I 
remember to have read in the report of a trial the following 
answer given by a seducer who was asked by the judge if 
he had promised marriage : " Of course I promised to 
marry her. How else do you suppose one sets about 
seducing a girl?" Especially in the country, a sympa- 
thetic feeling springs up by reason of neighbourhood and 
association between a young man and a girl who work 
together or in near proximity to one another. In course 
of time the attachment becomes closer and closer, and the 
unscrupulous youth, eager to enjoy the girl's favours with* 
out incurring the responsibility of fatherhood, promises 
marriage, declaring he loves her only, and will never have 
any other wife. The girl resists at first, and waits to be 
formally asked in marriage, but her lover gives her a string 
of different excuses for putting off doing so ; he says his 
parents have not as yet made up their minds to give their 
consent, that they do not consider her well enough off, but 
they are old people, he adds, and when they are dead, he 
will be able to fulfil his promise. To overcome the final 


scruples of the credulous girl, he talks of his ardent love, 
declares how wretched he is, and goes through the comedy 
of an intended suicide. 

" Il dira qu'il se tue . . . 
Mais Clarisse aime mieux le sauver et mourir." ' 

At last, believing in the sincerity of the love he manifests 
for her, she ends by giving way. This proves her undoing, 
for she will very soon find herself abandoned, especially if 
pregnancy follows. The seducer takes her to a neighbour- 
ing town for her accouchement, and there, after slipping a 
few coins into her hand, he tells her brutally to " get out of 
it how you can. Don't talk to me of marriage. It is all 
over between us; so don't rely on me any more." The 
unhappy girl may weep, and beg, and pray, demanding 
the fulfilment of the promised marriage that is to save her 
good name and give her child a father ; it is all to no 
purpose. The seducer flies before the threats of binding 
him to the marriage he has promised and the onerous 
duties of a father; he remains callous to the grief and 
shame of the woman he has made a mother, and often 
leaves her entirely unprovided for. The period of pregnancy 
passes in tears and loneliness. When her child is born, the 
poor girl, who is now a mother without being a wife, tries 
in vain to touch her betrayer's heart, to rouse in him the 
paternal instinct ; she tells him about the child and its 
pretty ways and its likeness to its father ; she beseeches him 
to come and see it, but he refuses, and speaks of it coldly, 
as if he were doubtful of his being its father at all. Some- 
times, however, carrying on the comedy, he pretends an 
affection for the child he does not really feel, and protests 
his purpose of eventually recognizing it as his own and 
marrying the mother, but always finds some excuse or 
another for putting off the fulfilment of his fine promises. 
•* Who makes the child, should provide for it," says an 
axiom one of these unhappy mothers without being wives 

1 " He will say he means to kill himself . . . But Clarisse would sooner 
save him and die herself." Alfred de Musset. 


reproduced almost word for word unconsciously in a letter 
written ta her seducer, which I have beneath my eyes: 
"As you had the spirit to make it, have the spirit to 
provide for it" But your seducer, with all his fine bold 
spirit for the first, has no stomach for the second. 

In cases where the mother abandons the child she has 
borne under such circumstances, it is rare for her to be the 
first to Conceive the idea of doing so ; it is the lover who 
advises the step, who urges the child's being put in the 
Foundlifig Hospital, much preferring to keep his resources 
for the supply of his own pleasures. 

Of girls' thus seduced and forsaken, some kill themselves 
in despair,* others kill their lovers, some do both. 

Those who end in suicide invariably forgive their faithless 
betrayer ; before their death, they write to bid him farewell 
and assure him of their unaltered love for the last time. 
" I bear you no grudge," writes one of them ; " I bid you 
farewell, my dearest, and kiss you a thousand times over, 
and our dear boy as well. I entrust you with the charge 
of my dear mother's tomb ; do not neglect it nor mine 
either." " Farewell ; be happy ! " writes another forsaken 
woman. ° May you not be troubled by the thought of me, 
to remind you how I loved you. . . . My dream was to have 
been happy with you, but you would not ; you lied to me, 
and your lies were my death-blow. I would fain have 
lived to love you ; but no ! you would not. I die loving 
you fondly. I leave you my hair, which you must keep in 
memory of me." — Yet another writes to the man who has 
deserted her : " From the first day I saw you would never 
be my husband, I had only one thought, to die. If I 
cannot be your wife, at least I shall end my pain." 

Nothing can well be more touching than these last fare- 
wells, replete with tender forgiveness, which they murmur 
in the very death agony. I read in a letter written by a 
girl to her faithless lover : " I love you still, and forgive you. 
Farewell, death is working in me." — Here is another letter 
written. by a young woman of twenty-three to her lover, who 
had deserted her after making her the mother of a little girl 


44 My beloved Louis, as your mind is made up about me, 
the best thing I can do is to die. Loving you dearly, I 
would fain end my sufferings. 

•* I send you my little girl's portrait and my own. 
Keep them, my dearest Louis, in memory of your Emma, 
who loved you to distraction. 

" Louis, come to my funeral. I wish the last person to 
kiss me before they put me in the hearse to be you, my 

" Take good care of our little girl and kiss her lovingly 
for me. If she should ask you what I died of, tell her it 
was of loving too fondly. 

u I am poisoning myself with cyanide. 

41 Farewell, my own Louis ; forgive all the vexation I 
am causing you. 

u Farewell for ever. My fondest kisses for you and for 
our child. 

" I would like my grave to be always covered with 
flowers ; come and visit it every Sunday with our child." 

Even the woman who has been forsaken and driven to 
infanticide by her desertion, frequently forgives the villain 
who has ruined her ; she cannot force herself to curse the 
man she still loves in her heart of hearts. Thus Mar- 
guerite in Faust, in prison for the murder of her babe, 
still dreams of the lover she cannot help regretting, and 
throws herself into his arms when he reappears. Some 
unhappy girls under these circumstances go so far in their 
beautiful tender-heartedness as to write at the time of 
committing suicide to their relatives to make excuses for 
the seducer : 4< I pray you do not be angry with him," 
writes a poor girl to her sister ; " it is no fault of his if he 
has ceased to love me, while I love him still. I forgive 
him from the bottom of my heart." — True we find in some 
letters from the victims of desertion complaints and re- 
proaches such as these : " Why did you deceive me, why 
abandon me so cruelly? why cause me such bitter pain ?" 
Yet these same complaints, these cries of agony, invariably 
conclude with words of love and forgiveness : " Still I send 



you my last and most ardent kiss/' writes a poor deserted 
creature before committing suicide by means of charcoal 
fumes. In the letter of farewell she addresses to her lover 
before killing herself, the woman who has been betrayed 
and forsaken will very likely begin by styling him " wretch," 
but she always ends by telling him of her unabated love 
and full forgiveness. A young woman, deserted by her 
lover who had concealed his new address from her, having 
succeeded in discovering the latter, makes her way in his 
absence into his rooms and after tearing up his photograph 
which she finds on the chimney-piece, sits down to write 
the following letter : " Léon, you are a cur ; I have found 
where you live at last. I thought till to-day you were 
doing it to try me. Still you know I love you all the 
time, so I think it best to kill myself. Forgive my 
doing it in your house. I love you. I adore you. No 
woman will ever love you like me. I kiss you for the last 
time." Then seating herself on a chair at the foot of the 
bed, she seizes a revolver she had brought with her and 
shoots herself through the heart — " Already you have the 
death of two women on your conscience ; remember the 
17th December 1896" (the day of her suicide), writes 
another desperate woman. — Yet another letter: "When 
you receive this letter, I shall have ceased to live. I 
cannot live without you, still less know that you are with 
another woman. I might have been such a happy woman 
with you ; but alas ! you would not let me." — " I cannot 
live without you," writes a young Spanish woman ; " I bid 
you farewell. I give you a thousand kisses, for I have 

loved you well. Farewell then, my own G . Forgive 

me for giving you the trouble of having me carried to the 
Morgue, for that is all I have to expect. Still I should 

have dearly loved to die on your bed, my G . If you 

love me a little, remember the happy, hours we have spent 
together. Ah ! well, as such is my destiny, I am going to 
die, your lover still." 

This characteristic of the forsaken woman, who forgives 
the faithless one and chooses rather to suffer and die than 


to pain and kill, is depicted by Racine in Bérénice ; she too 
forgives, and thinks of ending her own life. Titus has 
guessed her intention : 

" Vous cherchez à mourir ? et de tout ce que j'aime 
11 ne restera plus qu'un triste souvenir." l 

As I have never yet found in the many letters I have 
read from women who have been deserted and have killed 
themselves in despair anything but words of love and for- 
giveness for the faithless lover, I cannot but ask the 
question whether Virgil is not guilty of an error in 
psychology in attributing to Dido, after her suicide, 
feelings of hatred towards jEneas, who meets her in the 

"... Didon garde un farouche silence, 
Se détourne en fureur de l'objet qui l'offense, 
Et ses yeux, d'où partaient des regards courroucés 
Demeurent vers la terre obstinément baissés." * 

This persistence in hate on Dido's part seems to me 
inconsistent with the character of women who kill 
themselves, but always forgive the wrong-doer; nor does 
it justify the comparison Racine draws in the Preface to 
Bérénice between the Queen of Carthage and the woman 
deserted by Titus, inasmuch as the latter forgives, while 
the former does not. Dido's character is rather that of 
a woman who slays her betrayer than of one who kills 
herself, for she is animated by a vindictive fury against 
iEneas, and utters threats and imprecations more violent 
than those of Hermione against Pyrrhus ; her only regret 
is she did not burn all ./Eneas' ships, have all his comrades 
massacred, his son slain, and his body served up at a 
banquet. The character we have here is more that of 
Médée than of Bérénice. 

The character of the woman who, when forsaken, kills 

1 " You are fain to die ? and of all I love, naught else will remain but a 
mournfal remembrance." 

3 t4 . . . Dido keeps a grim silence, turning in fierce anger from the loathed 
object, and her eyes, that darted angry looks, remain obstinately fixed on the 


herself, is completely different from that of the woman who 
under like circumstances kills the author of her wrong. 

The first is a meek, tender-hearted victim who suffers 
in silence, complains with discreet and gentle moderation, 
and yielding more and more to the melancholy that over- 
whelms her, fades, sighs, and dies with forgiveness on her 
lips. The second is a fury, screaming, stamping, tearing 
her hair, threatening, striking and destroying. The mother 
of a girl who had been deserted and had killed her lover 
told the examining magistrate that her daughter during 
the two days preceding the murder, had screamed, wept, 
stamped, and torn out hair by handfuls. The mother 
added that she had used every endeavour to calm her, but 
that nothing she said made any impression on her. A 
woman in the transports of rage does not appreciate 
reasonable advice ; she cries with Phèdre : 

" Sers ma fureur, Œnone, et non pas ma raison," ' 

and with Hermione : 

" Tant de raisonnements offensent ma colère." * 

The particular prisoner I have been referring to, had 
been so annoyed by the persevering efforts of her mother 
to bring her to a better frame of mind, that she turned her 
anger against her and repulsed her savagely. 

The girl who has been forsaken by her lover would often 
resign herself to her fate, if the latter did not proceed to 
marry another woman ; clinging to the hope of wedding 
him some day or at any rate drawing him once more to 
her side, she would meanwhile seek consolation in the love 
of her child. " Though you will not marry me," she says, 
"at least do not wed another; do not compel me to see 
you with another by your side." Seeing she is going to 
lose him for ever and be left alone, forlorn and disgraced, 
while her lover is happy with another woman, frantic with 
pain, tortured by jealousy, heedless of life and indifferen 

1 "Assist my passion, Œnone, and not my reason." 
1 " So many arguments of reason but chafe my anger." 


to what may become of her, to the suffering she is about 
to inflict and the scandal that must follow, she grasps a 
revolver or seizes a cup of vitriol in her mad desire of 

Some few years ago, vitriol was the favourite means of 
revenge among women who had been betrayed. Nowadays 
they frequently use the revolver as well, a weapon they 
are beginning to wield with great dexterity. Not long 
ago at Marseilles a girl said to her lover, who was think- 
ing of leaving her in the lurch : " If you were to leave me 
for another woman, I would put a bullet in your head." 
Instead of one, she put four into his head, as a matter of 
fact, exhibiting a remarkable mastery of her weapon. 

Often it is after the publication of the lover's marriage 
with another woman or even during the marriage ceremony 
at the town hall or in church, that the woman who has 
been betrayed takes her vengeance. The picture her 
imagination draws of the pretty scene, at which she had 
dreamed of herself appearing in her white dress, happy, 
charming and proud, on her bridegroom's arm, but where 
now a hated rival is to usurp her place, brings her passion 
to the boiling-point Hermione in the play can contain 
herself no longer when she hears Cléone's account of 
Pyrrhus' marriage : 

u Je Pai vu vers lc temple où son hymen s'apprête 
Mener en conquérant sa nouvelle conquête, 
Et d'un œil où brillaient sa joie et son espoir, 
S'enivrer en marchant du plaisir de la voir." l 

In a transport of jealousy, she exclaims : 

"Le perfide! Il mourra!" 8 

" Directly I heard of my lover's marriage with another 
girl," said a young woman of Istres, near Aries, brought 
up on a charge of murder, "my exasperation was so 

1 " I saw him lead towards the temple where his wedlock is preparing, like 
a conquering hero his new conquest, and his eye beaming with joy and hope, 
grow intoxicate as he walked with the delight of gazing on his bride. " 
" Perfidious wretch ! He shall die." 


intense I formed the design of killing him. I loaded a 
pistol, disguised myself in men's clothes, and went out one 
evening and posted myself at a spot where I knew he 
must pass. As soon as he came, I fired my pistol at 
him." — In Provence, no less than in Italy, a young girl 
will often disguise herself as a man in order to strike a surer 
blow at the lover who forsakes her, borrowing her father's 
or her brother's clothes. Dr Lombroso, who notes the 
fact, is wrong in his explanation of it, believing as he docs 
that she finds a pleasure in the masculine disguise. 1 The 
girl disguises herself thus simply and solely to escape 
recognition, though she but seldom succeeds in doing so, 
her voice and gait almost invariably betraying her. 

Sometimes it is during her pregnancy that the woman 
who has been betrayed and deserted takes vengeance on 
her lover, hurling a cup of vitriol in his face with the 
words : " I want to leave you a keepsake, as you have 
left me one of you." — One woman on trial for this crime, 
who had inflicted horrible burns on her lover's face, said 
to him, pointing to her belly, " Well ! you've got that, and 
IVe got the rest" 

If some forsaken women seek secrecy in avenging them- 
selves, there are others who exact their revenge in the 
full light of day and before all the world. Some years 
ago a young woman of Marseilles fired several revolver 
shots at her lover in one of the most crowded streets; 
on the passers-by running up at the sound of the ex- 
plosions, she told them with a quiet, but concentrated 
fury : " It's nothing ; I've merely killed my lover." 

One of the motives determining a girl who has been 
forsaken to employ vitriol as her means of revenge, is the 
wish to disfigure her lover, in hopes of making his intended 
marriage with another woman an impossibility. "I had 
no intention of killing him," said a young woman on her 
trial, " I only wanted to disfigure him. My hope was that, 
if I spoiled his face, his fiancée would no longer have him, 
anil then that he would come back to me and marry me." 

1 Lombroso, La Femme Criminelle. ', p. 493 (F. Alcan, Paris). 


Another young woman from the district of Mireille} who 
had burnt out her lover's eyes, gave me a similar answer 
in cross-examination : " Now he is blind, my rival will 
refuse to marry him ; but I, I love him still, and I will 
make him forget everything." 

Girls who have been betrayed and deserted do not 
always confine themselves to disfiguring the faithless 
lover; not unfrequently they kill him, but yet it is but 
seldom, when they appear in the dock, that they fail to 
win the jury's commiseration by the pitiful tale of their 
wrongs and sufferings. A poor child in this plight told 
her story in the following words : " In despair at finding 
myself repulsed by the man who had made so much of 
me in former days, indignant at his cowardice, frantic at 
the thought of my pregnancy and his refusal to restore 
my good name by marriage, I determined on revenge. 
1 bought a pistol ; I started to pursue him, and meeting 
him at last, shot at him. I went home again like a mad- 
woman, not knowing whether I had hit him, and hardly 
aware of what I was doing. ... I know I deserve punish- 
ment, but the man has robbed me of everything, good 
name and happiness; he has brought shame on me and 
desolation on my family, he has ruined all my hopes ; 
life is henceforth worthless to me." 

Nor is it always young men that seduce girls ; a con- 
siderable proportion are ruined by men of greater age, but 
at the same time of greater dexterity and boldness, who 
«abuse the authority they hold over them as proprietors 
of shops and masters of houses, nay ! even by relatives, 
uncles, and brothers-in-law. Some years ago I was present 
zaX the trial of a case of murder committed by a young 
<'orsican girl on her uncle, who had seduced, and then 
deserted her, after making her a mother. The whole affair 
is so dramatic in its details and offers so much that is of 
interest to psychologist and moralist, that I am going to 
recount the story in extenso. 

1 Maillanne, district of Mistral, is some few miles distant from Saint- Rémy, 
«ear Aries. It was to Saint-Rémy that Gounod resorted to compose the 
: of Mireille. 


A military officer of high rank living in Paris with his 
fanjily was short-sighted enough, being without fortune, 
to inspire his daughter, whom he idolized, with luxurious 
tastes, and had had her taught many accomplishments, 
such as riding, singing, skating. His brother, a rich 
merchant of Nice and a married man without children, 
having come on a visit, proposed to take his niece back 
with him to Nice for a while, and the father agreed to his 
doing so. The uncle started homewards with the girl, 
who was pretty, bright and lively, while his wife was 
no longer either young or pretty. He was not long in 
succumbing to the charm of her youth and beauty, and 
fell desperately in love with her. The poor child, spoiled 
as she was by her uncle who took care to satisfy all her 
luxurious tastes, and appreciating keenly the affection he 
showed her, but without understanding its true character, 
was defenceless against the assaults made on her virtue. 
Finally the uncle, abusing her faith in him and her inex- 
perience of life, succeeded in overcoming her last scruples, 
telling her he only asked her for the sacrifice of her 
modesty, not of her good name, which he would safe- 
guard in the eyes of the world. In fact, like Tartufe, 
he promised her, 

" De l'amour sans scandale et du plaisir sans peur," * 

without fear, that is without fear of a child to follow. But 
the scandal came, the pregnancy she had so much dreaded 
declared itself. Afraid his brother would blow out his 
brains for him, he overpersuaded his niece to tell her 
father it was she who had made the first advances. * If 
you love me," he said, " you should sacrifice yourself for 
me ; " and the girl, to save her lover whom she was 
already passionately attached to, now her senses were once 
awakened, agreed to the sacrifice ; instead of accusing her 
uncle of his baseness, she excused him, casting all the 
reproach on herself and meekly bowing her head beneath 
a father's curse. 

1 " Love without scandal and pleasure without fear." 


So terrible was the blow for the latter, who in his double 

capacity as a soldier and a Corsican, had the most exalted 

ideas of honour, that he was utterly broken down and 

overwhelmed by his child's dishonour, and in a very short 

space of time was dead of grief. His wife threw herself in 

despair from the window of the house where they lived, 

and was killed. 1 Some weeks after the death of her father 

and her mother's suicide, the girl gave birth to a child. 

The uncle at once separated it from its mother and put it 

out to nurse in another country, in the neighbourhood of 

Turin, using every means to alienate the young mother's 

affection from her child. Unable to succeed in this, he 

proposed to find her a husband and provide her with a 

rich dowry; but the girl refused. Presently quarrels 

occurred, and the uncle turned his niece out of the house, 

telling her he intended to send the child to the Hospital 

for Foundlings. This purpose of his exasperated the 

young mother beyond all bounds : " Let him abandon me, 

if he will," she cried, " but to abandon my child, — this I 

will never put up with." Soon the thought of killing 

herself or else the man who was for deserting her and her 

boy took possession of her, and she purchased a revolver. 

Her uncle knew of this, but made no attempt to take the 

ttreapon from her, hoping she would blow out her brains 

in a fit of despair. However the wished-for suicide did 

not come about After hesitating for a while between 

suicide and murder, she decided finally to kill her uncle. 

Learning he was staying temporarily at an hotel in 

Marseilles, she sought him out there. Then, her hands 

behind her, her hair tossed back, her eyes blazing and lips 

trembling, the girl advanced on her uncle, challenging 

'with words of fire : " Look at what you have made of me," 

she cried ; " you have dishonoured me, taken my all, killed 

1 Such suicides of parents as the result of grief and chagrin at a daughter's 
«Jahonoor are not uncommon. I have even seen a case of a girl of fourteen 
committing suicide by charcoal fumes because she could not bear any longer 
to look on at her elder sister's bad life and the pain it caused her parents ; she 
died with the words, "The dead are the happiest," on her lips. 


my father and mother with grief; now you abandon me, 
and wish to abandon our child. Look me straight in the 
face as I look at you." Her uncle only shrugged his 
shoulders, telling her she was behaving like a play-actress, 
and for his part he did not care for romances. This cold 
ironical answer increased the girl's exasperation ; she 
drew her revolver and fired several shots at her seducer 
who fell to the ground. As he lay there, the Corsican 
fired off all the remaining chambers of her revolver point 
blank at him, screaming, " Die, die ! " Then in an instant, 
when she saw the blood pouring from his wounds, her 
anger vanished, and pity and love regained their empire ; 
she threw herself fondly on the wounded man, wiping his 
brow, covering his face with kisses, pressing his hands and 
exclaiming, "Forgive me! forgive me! no! dearest, you 
must not die! You are only wounded, I will not have 
you die." 

However, the uncle did die of his wounds, and the poor 
girl was brought up before a jury of the Department of 
the Bouches-du-Rhône. While in prison, during the pre- 
liminary examinations, she wrote the following letter to 
a worthy priest : 

"Monsieur l'Abbé, — In the shipwreck of my feelings 
and my life, to whom should I appeal if not to you who 
are a priest and whose pity should be infinite, like God's ? 
Besides, are you not the only person who on hearing of 
the terrible event, experienced feelings of pity and for- 
giveness ? I know how you alone understood my sufferings ; 
you alone were not surprised, for had you not foreseen 
a catastrophe. Only it was not what might have been 
expected; instead of killing myself, I killed another, I 
killed the man for whose sake I had given up and 
abandoned everything. You did not reject me, when in 
spite of all your prayers, I refused to renounce my guilty 
love. 1 . . . 

1 In his study on the Romantic Drama {Le Drame Romantique, p. 207) M. 
Nebout finds fault with Victor Hugo for having attributed to Blanche a per- 
sistent love for the King who has dishonoured her ; is it possible, he says that 


M I am going to entrust to you what I hold dearest in 
the world ; this man in dying has carried away all with 
him, happiness, the sun, the light of day, but he has left 
me a child, my consolation for future days, if I have 
strength to go on living. ... If it is my fate to quit my 
prison presently, I would accept any form of work, and 
my child once more in France and by my side, I might 
yet enjoy a relative happiness, for to have the little one 
by me is still to have something of his father, whose image 
he is. ... If I am condemned to remain always in prison, 
or at any rate for many years, I am resolved in that case 
to escape my punishment. As then I could be of no 
use to the child, it would not be shirking my duty to 
have done with life. In this case I leave my child to you. 

* You remember, Monsieur l'Abbé, when to wean me from 
this affection, you told me to picture him to myself as 
dead and decomposed. Then I would not see him other- 
wise than as handsome and fascinating, as he was, and 
now it is all ended, and I have him continually before 
my eyes all bloody and disfigured. 

a Ah ! if only I had obeyed you the last time I went to 
see you and you begged me to bring you my revolver! 
If I had not had it to my hand, I should never have gone 

a girl should love the vile seducer who has stolen her honour and should wish 
to save him ? Yes ! it is quite possible ; Victor Hugo has not exceeded the 
bounds of troth, as we see from the case of this Corsican girl, who, seduced 
by an uncle many years older than herself, ended by loving him passionately. 
More than this, there are girls, who after being seduced by their own father, 
and after at first loathing the foul seducer who has taken advantage of them, 
end by loving him passionately. This is a fact I have verified in several 
criminal cases. To account for the phenomenon, we must remember that 
love springs from sensual gratification when once the senses are awakened. 
Alfred de Musset writes : 

" Amour, fléau du monde, exécrable folie, 
Toi, qu'un lien si frète à la volupté lie.'* . . . 

( " Love, scourge of the world, hateful folly, that so fine a tie unites to 
lot. . . . ) Of course all girls who have been betrayed do not feel love for 
their seducers ; indeed most of them loathe and detest them. Their sentiments 
vary according to temperament, education and character. Nothing is falser 
Chan rash generalisations. 


so far as I did. You told me, some time ago, how you 
never thought so edifying a first communicant as I was 
was destined to suffer herself to be led astray by a false- 
hearted villain. What would you say now I have a man's 
death to lay to my charge? 

" Monsieur l'Abbé, pray that I may be acquitted." 
Women experience as a rule more pleasure in revenge 
than men. The widow Gras, urging her accomplice to 
join her in her vengeance, told her, " The cause of my 

ruin was one , and I want to revenge myself on the 

vile wretch. . . . You see what pain I suffer ; well ! make 
him suffer a little of the same, and I think I shall be 
better after that." 

According to her character, her education and the nature 
of her love, she wreaks her vengeance with the most far- 
sought or the most perverse refinements of cruelty. She 
is quite capable of resorting to suicide, simply and solely 
to cause her betrayer remorse. A young woman who had 
been forsaken wrote to her lover : " I am capable of any 
violence, even of suicide, to cause you remorse and disturb 
you in the course of your pleasures." Generally speaking» 
anger stirs the most evil feelings of her nature. The very 
woman who was good-natured, fond and devoted, when 
she was loved, becomes ill-conditioned and treacherous, 
when betrayed. She cannot bear the idea of the man who 
has forsaken her being happy, respected by society and 
surrounded by friends ; she does all she can to rob him of 
his good repute and alienate his friends, to make him suffer 
in his pride, his person and his feelings ; she studies his char- 
acter, in order to strike him in the tenderest place, seeking 
out the most cruel and abominable forms of revenge and 
the best adapted to wound him deeply. "I love him and I 
loathe him," wrote one ; " if he forsakes me, I will dishonour 
him, — him and his family." How abominable was Medea's 
vengeance! To kill her own children, in order to make 
the father suffer cruelly ! Nor is such diabolical vengeance 
untrue to nature; a woman's revenge is capable of going 
even so far as this. For do we not often see women ready to 


wreak their resentment on a faithful husband by sacrificing, 
if not the life, at any rate the interest, honour and happi- 
ness of their children? To cause their husband pain of 
mind, they torture him in his feelings as a father, sowing 
dissension with poisoned words between him and his chil- 
dren, and stirring the latter to acts of insubordination and 
violence against their father. There is a touch of Medea in 
all such women. 

Torturing the father in order to make the husband suffer 
Ls an essentially feminine type of vengeance. Men much 
more rarely practise this horrid form of revenge. Still 
an instance occurred some months ago, where a certain 
Deblonder, in order to punish his wife, who wished to get 
a divorce and marry another man, killed their two little 
girls by way of lacerating the mother's heart. — This horrid 
notion of making a father or a mother suffer in the children 
is no mere literary invention imagined by poets, — a char- 
acter in Shakespeare, seeking a means to make an enemy 
suffer, notes with regret that he has no child, saying he 
only wishes he had, that he might punish the father in the 
child. I find the same abominable idea in the mouth of a 
prisoner at the bar, a woman who had yielded to her thirst 
for vengeance; "I wanted to make him suffer, not by 
striking him, but his son." Some years since the Assize 
Court of the Department of the Alpes-Maritimes tried a 
woman who, having become mistress to a young man, 
was entrusted with the education of a child her lover had 
bad as the result of a previous liaison ; on his forsaking 
her, she avenged the father's faithlessness by strangling his 
child. — Yet another example. A married woman had 
abandoned her husband to live in a foreign country with 
a lover. A female child was the result of the connection. 
In a short time the mother forsook her lover and the child. 
But eight years afterwards, meeting her lover again, she 
wished to renew the old life with them ; he refused however, 
and to punish him, she determined to make him suffer in 
his rôle of a father. She made it up with her husband and 
bribed him to claim as his own his wife's child in virtue of 


the maxim of is pater est . . ., and the Courts were obliged 
to admit the validity of this legal fiction. The true father, 
frantic with grief, refused to have his child torn from him, 
and set off with her for America. He was condemned to 
three years' imprisonment for contumacy in illegally kid- 
napping the child after the Court's decision. — In 1889, in 
the Department of Vaucluse, a woman to avenge herself 
on her rival poisoned her children. Domestic servants also 
have been known, after dismissal, to wreak their spite on 
their masters by poisoning their children. Anarchists at 
the present day urge domestics to revenge themselves on 
their masters by corrupting the children entrusted to 

This is nothing less than a return to the ferocious habits 
of primitive mankind. The peoples of those days were 
accustomed to punish their foes in the persons of their 
children ; and attributed the same atrocious form of re- 
venge to their deities. In retaliation for an insult of 
Niobé, Apollo and Diana slew her fourteen children. 

In Corneille's Rodogune, Cléopâtre presents a cup of 
poisoned wine to Antiochus and Rodogune, and on seeing 
them hesitate, drinks first herself to dissipate their fears, 
happy to die along with them rather than miss her ven- 
geance. According to M. Stapfer there is no shadow of 
truth in the character of the woman who declares : 

44 Tombe le ciel sur moi, pourvu que je me venge ! n l 

I do not agree with him ; I am certain the craving for 
revenge in a jealous, proud and spiteful woman's heart 
may be so fierce and so blind as to suggest the idea to her 
of making sure of her vengeance by her own death, and 
inspiring the cry : 

1 " Let heaven fall on my head, if I mar but get revenge ! " This cry 
which seems so improbable to M. Stapfer, is the natural exclamation of a 
woman eager for revenge ; 

" Que je me perde ou non, je songe à me venger " 
(" Whether it involve my ruin or no, my only thought is for vengeance'*), says 
Hermione, equally indifferent to her fate, if only she may satisfy her 
vengeance. Act. iv. Sc. 5. 


44 II est doux de périr après ses ennemis." * 

Besides, we should remember that Cleopatra is not only 
a revengeful, jealous and self-seeking woman, but also an 
Asiatic mother, who has had her children brought up far 
from her side, and only calls them to her to be the 
instruments of her ambition and her anger. 

No doubt women who in their desire of vengeance do not 
hesitate to kill their own children are unnatural mothers, 
Furies. But if all women are not Furies, some are ; thirst 
for vengeance pushed to the limit of ferocity is an integral 
part of feminine human nature, or rather of some repre- 
sentatives of the sex. Médée, Camille, Cléopâtre, the 
Queen of Syria, Hermione, Roxane, are Furies ; they 
know it in their own hearts, and call themselves by the 

44 Tu ne revois en moi qu'une amante offensée, 
Qui comme une Furie attachée à tes pas 
Te veut incessament reprocher son trépas," * 

says Camille in Horace (Act iv. Se. 5). 

Roxane, again, addressing Bajazet bids him : 

" Ne désespère pas une amante en furie . . . 
Dans ton perfide sang je puis tout expier." 3 

Hermione also is a Fury ; Pylades advising Orestes to 
fly from her says : 

44 Quoi ! votre amour se veut charger d'une furie} " * 

In fact, anger, jealousy, revenge may change a woman 
into a Fury who heretofore seemed entirely incapable of 

The female imagination is every day inventing new 
forms of vengeance. A woman of light character, who had 
deserted her children, came to ask her husband's permission 

1 *' Tis sweet to die after one's enemies." 

* " You see in me only an injured lover, who like a Fury dogging your 
tteps, will unceasingly upbraid you for her death." 

3 "Drive not to desperation one whom love betrayed has made a Fury . . . 
'tis easy to avenge all my wrongs in your traitorous blood." 

* •• What Ï will your love burden itself with a Futy}" 


to see them again. The latter refused, telling her she was 
unworthy to do so ; " you rob me of the sight of my 
children," answered the woman ; " well ! when my turn 
comes, I will rob you of the sight of them." — " You mean 
you will kill me," retorted the doomed husband. — "No!" 
she replied, " I will make you suffer worse than that, I will 
blind you." And so she did, some days later ; while the 
husband was playing with the children, she came in 
suddenly and threw vitriol in his eyes. The children 
might easily have been injured, for a nurse who was 
standing beside them received splashes of the corrosive 
fluid, which burnt her clothes. The woman shared the 
sentiments of Médée, who said to her children : 

" Il me prive de vous et je Ten vais priver . . . 
Il ne vous verra plus." 1 

To give herself the satisfaction of revenge, the woman 
who has been abandoned accepts unflinchingly the scandal 
and punishment that ensue upon her deed. A forsaken 
woman, maturing the design of blinding her lover, (a design 
she afterwards carried out), declared she had no fear of the 
penal consequences of the act, that supposing she were 
condemned to five years' imprisonment, she would will- 
ingly undergo them for the satisfaction of wreaking her 

To punish her rival and disfigure her beauty is for such 
a one a still keener pleasure. Atalide, aware that Roxane 
is even more deeply exasperated against her than against 
Bajazet, has good reason to say as she does to the latter : 
" Elle aura plus de soif de mon sang que du vôtre." 8 

Indeed Roxane is at first for pardoning Bajazet, and 
says to him : 

" Ma rivale est ici ; suis-moi sans différer ; 
Dans la main des muets viens la voir expirer." * 

1 " He robs me of you, and I am going to rob him of it . . .he shal 

never look on you more." 
9 " She will be even more athirst for my blood than for yours." 
* " My rival is here ; follow me without delay ; come to see her die at Ùm 

hands of the mutes." 


Against her rival is primarily directed her craving for 
revenge; when she thinks presently of putting Bajazet to 
death as well, she desires to afford Atalide the sight of his 
death, to make her sufferings greater : 

a Quel surcroît de vengeance et de douceur nouvelle 
Que de le montrer bientôt pâle et mort devant elle." * 

A jealous woman always seeks some refinement of 
cruelty in her vengeance. Thus Phèdre longs to add to 
the pleasure of killing her hated rival, the further satisfac- 
tion of having her slain before the eyes of Hippol/te : 

" Je vais faire expirer ma rivale à tes yeux." * 

In Horace, Camille winds up the imprecations she 
launches against Rome, which she detests like a rival, by 
these verses that will express the intensity of her hate and 
the delight she finds in revenge : 

" Voir le dernier Romain à son dernier soupir, 
Moi seule en être cause et mourir de plaisir." s 

Before wreaking her vengeance, a woman relishes the 
thought of it in imagination, just as she feasts her eyes on 
the sight of it, when it is accomplished. A young woman 
of twenty-two, who had just killed her rival with a pistol 
bullet, gloated over her death agony, stepping back slowly 
from her side with a look of pleasure in her eyes, as if 
relishing her revenge ; on her face could be read the satis- 
faction she felt at giving her a coffin for a bridal bed, and 
she might have been thought to be repeating Médée's line : 

" Et pour lit nuptial il te faut un tombeau." 4 

This thought of the bridal bed that was not to be for 
J^r, had tormented her fancy ; her fury had been kindled 
a * the notion of seeing her rival enter it, and she was now 

44 What a heightened spice of vengeance and fresh satisfaction, to show 
anon pale and dead before her eyes." 

* " I am abort to slay my rival before your eyes." 

* "To tee the last of the Romans sighing his last sigh,— I to be sole cause 
*l>e nation's rain and die of joy at the thought." 

* " And for bridal bed you must have a tomb." 



overjoyed at having made this impossible by shooting her 

When a woman who has been abandoned for another, 
disfigures her rival, it is not only that she wishes to make 
the marriage she abhors impossible ; over and above this, 
she takes a tigerish pleasure in robbing her of her beauty, 
in making the woman ugly that her lover found prettier 
than herself, in covering with horrid sores the mouth that 
smiled at him, in burning out the eyes that inspired his 
love and expressed her preference. Knowing her rival's 
happiness at being thought beautiful and her pride in her 
lover's admiration, she longs by spoiling her face to end 
the odious superiority she claimed over her. Once dis- 
figured, the hated rival will cease to be formidable, she 
who was an object of desire will become a sight of horror 
and loathing; she will be humiliated, and her humilia- 
tion in its refinement of malice will heighten the joy of 

There are even women who, whilst disfiguring their rival, 
make a point of sparing their sight, so that their victim 
may suffer more from seeing her own ugliness. 

Revenge in such cases is, as a rule, long premeditated, 
Under the influence of despair, the forsaken woman shuts 
herself up alone, and concentrates all her thoughts on ha 
grief ; losing her sleep, she racks her brain day and night 
pondering over the treachery she has met with. Aftei 
forming her plan of vengeance, she hesitates to carry il 
into execution, especially where she still loves the lover 01 
husband who has deserted her. This period of hesitation 
is faithfully portrayed in the answers given under examina- 
tion by a girl of Saint-Rémy, guilty of throwing vitriol in 
her lover's face: "After making up my mind to revenge 
I could not finally decide to put my purpose into execution, 

. . . One day, whilst I was talking to L , my mothei 

came into the room, and said : ' You can see he's onlj 
laughing at your tears.' These words kindled my angei 
afresh ; I asked my mother to withdraw, and turning te 
my lover I said : ' Remember what you promised me j 


beware of my vengeance.' As he made no answer, but 
began to yawn, I added : ' I see I only weary you ; good- 
bye for the last time, I shall not come to see you any 
more." Exasperated by his attitude of insulting in- 
difference, the girl resumed her projects of vengeance, but 
she still hesitated to execute them, not having the heart to 
disfigure the man she loved, when some while afterwards 
she met her lover in the street and he pretended not to 
know her. Then at last, wounded beyond bearing by the 
insult, she went home hurriedly, disguised herself in men's 
clothes, armed herself with a bottle of vitriol she had 
procured long beforehand, and went and threw its contents 
in the villain's face. 

The notion of revenge is a sort of demoniacal possession, 
that little by little fills the woman's mind and more and 
more dominates her whole being. According to circum- 
stances, this persistent idea that pursues her day and night 
is alternatively welcomed and rejected for a certain number 
of days, weeks or months. A struggle rages between love 
and hate, reason and passion. But gradually her powers 
of resistance fail her, as she learns to gloat more and more 
complacently over the idea of revenge, till one day after 
many falterings and repeated alternations of loathing and 
forgiveness, a final incident, a casual meeting, the sight of 
her rival, a fresh insult, ends by firing the mine. 

I borrow from the diary of a young woman accused of 

a crime of this kind, named Marie B , the passages 

below showing how in the agonies of desertion, she passed 
from the stage of despair and thoughts of suicide to that 
of projected murder, and after many delays and hesitations 
to its actual realization. 

* November. — I think I am going mad. Better a 

thousand times to die, but not before I have avenged my 

l|rr Ongs. The measure of your iniquities is full. Beware ; 

^Hi know not, Léon, what pain and remorse you are 

P'^paring for yourself. 

** December. — He is thinking of marrying. If I were not 
* Christian woman, I should kill him. 


" AprtL — My little girl is dead. I long to die, but first 
to revenge ! 

"/une. — He has come back, but I can see he does not 
love me any more. I mean to kill him. 

"July. — I could have killed him, but I did not I am 
going to put away my pride once more and ask him to 
come back ; but if he refuses, I shall be pitiless, I swear 
I shall. 

"November. — I cannot bear another woman to be the 
mother of his children, and so he must die. 

" 13/A December. — I have written to him, and he has 
not answered. How insulting ! 

"I suffer beyond bearing; I would rather die, but he 
must die first. 

" \gth December. — I have seen him, but I could not get 
near him. I shall find my opportunity some day, Léon, 
and your life will be the price of the agonies I suffer." 

On January 1, she writes on the back of the photograph 
of the lover who has forsaken her : L. R. condemned to 
death by me, Marie. 

Next day, she writes : " He is still alive. My strength 
failed me. Twice I pressed the trigger in vain. I had no 
blood left in my veins, for in spite of myself I love him stilL 

" 3 r d January. — To-day I am going to try for death. 
May it overtake us both ! 

" 5 th January. — All day long I have sat in a carriage 
before his door, without gaining anything except the 
knowledge that a woman, tall, slender, and wrapped in a 
fur cloak, went into his house at half-past five and came 
out again at nine. 

" I suffer too horribly ; I must have your life, Léon. I 
trust I shall do better to-morrow." 

On January 7, in the evening about nine, Marie B 

carried out the plan of murder she had first conceived 
more than a year before, and fired three revolver shots 
at her lover, but without doing more than wounding him. 
She was arrested, and declared next day she was sorry- 
she had not killed him. 


In her examination before the "Juge d'Instruction," 
she said : " I am going to tell you the whole truth. Will 
you be able to comprehend me? I do not understand 
pnyself; You will see how the most different and 
apparently the most contradictory feelings fought for the 
mastery in my heart. 

44 1 love the man, and at the same time I despised him, 
and even to-day, after having tried to kill him, I think 
I love him still. I am ashamed to talk to you in this 
way, but the truth is I am appalled at the injury this 
man has done me, by inspiring a love that even con- 
tempt has not been able entirely to kill. My head is a 

The account this poor girl gave of the combination of 
love and hate, of tenderness and contempt, that tossed 
her heart and made a chaos of her mind, the analysis 
she gave of her hesitations and changes of mind, alone 
suffice to prove the small amount of psychological per- 
spicacity displayed by Schlegel in his criticisms on Racine. 
He expresses surprise that Phèdre, after trying to melt 
the heart of Hippolyte, should in an instant pass from 
the most abject love to the most furious anger, and be 
able to declare : 

u Je le vois comme un monstra effroyable à mes yeux." * 

He cannot understand Phèdre's repeated alternations of 
purpose, planning to die in the first act, then abandoning 
her intention on hearing of Thésée's death ; in the second 
act endeavouring to pierce her heart with Hippolyte's 
sword by way of a piece of stage effect, in the third act 
again talking of dying without giving effect to her project, 
in the fourth returning to the same resolution, and 
eventually executing it in the fifth. Phèdre, he says, is 
for ever irresolute, she alternates between the most con- 
tradictory feelings ; in the fourth act she is on the point 
of asking pardon for Hippolyte, then suddenly changes 
her mind directly she hears of the lattcr's love for Aricie 

1 " I sec him like a horrid monster before my eyes." 


and now breathes nothing but vengeance. 1 These es 
lasting changes of mind and sudden breakings of purp 
are, according to Schlegel, untrue to nature and moreo 
inappropriate in Tragedy. " If tragic necessity ," he ss 
" requires us to depict criminal characters while male 
them in a certain way interesting, let them at any i 
be of heroic mould, and do not let continual feebler 
and vacillation render them unequal to the situations 
which their own passions have involved them." 

It is impossible, I think, to display greater ignorano 
the effects of passion. SchlegePs literary criticisms 
a tissue of psychological misconceptions. What ra 
characterizes the mental state of the woman who has b 
forsaken, as it does that of the jealous lover, is the ra 
and reiterated change from love to hate, from hope to f 
then back again from hate to love and forgiveness» fi 
despair to hope, till the moment when, after many hes 
tions, this condition of unstable equilibrium ends in 
explosion of anger or despair, in murder or suicide, 
both these at once. 

Not to see that Phèdre, after trying to touch Hippoly 
heart and failing, must needs be filled with a sud 
passion of anger at the announcement, " Aricie has 
heart 1 Aricie has his plighted troth!" is to underst 
nothing whatever of the effects of love and jealousy, ; 
therefore to show oneself a very poor literary critic, 
there can be no real criticism without psychology. 

There never yet was a desperate woman frenzied by 
indifference and treachery of her lover but is drawn hit 
and thither betwixt the desire for revenge and the 1 
she still bears him in the midst of her indignation. 

" On a peine à haïr ce qu'on a bien aimé, 
Et le feu mal éteint est bientôt rallumé." 2 

1 Schlegel, Comparaison entré la Phèdre de Racine et celle £Bur\ 
p. 32. ("Comparison between the Phèdre of Racine and the Phsed 

2 " Tis hard to hate the man one has fondly loved, and the fire but 
extinguished is quickly rekindled." Corneille, Sertorius, Act i. Sc* 3. 


The female heart, stirred by contradictory feelings, 
alternates between one and the other ; hence those sudden 
changes of mind and purpose that make the tragedies of 
Racine and Corneille so moving, because they are so true 
to life. The woman though ready to curse the man she 
loves, hesitates at first to make him suffer when she feels 
the desire for revenge ; presently, if some fresh affront is 
put upon her, her anger reasserts itself and she renews 
those plans for murder she had before rejected. In her 
famous monologue in the fifth act Hermione expresses 
vividly the alternations and hesitations of her wavering 
resolution : 

** Et prête à me venger, je lui fais déjà grâce." ! 

Then no sooner has she resolved to forgive him than 
her anger returns as she thinks of Pyrrhus* scorn : 

44 Non, ne révoquons pas l'arrêt de mon courroux ; 
Qu'il périsse." * 

Roxane, who has all the fire of the South added to a 
Sultana's pride, hesitates long before putting Bajazet to 
death. She invents a thousand pretexts for delaying her 
veagcance; first she gives up her project, then presently 
resumes it» a prey alternately to anger and affection, her 
threats of death succeeded anon by exclamations of the 
fondest love : 

u Bajazet, écoutez ; je sens que je vous aime." * 

This is genuine psychological insight 

Unwavering characters, consistent throughout, such as 
Schlegel asks, are not true to human nature, and least of 
ail to feminine human nature. 

The special characteristic of passion and particularly 
°f jealousy is to destroy consecutiveness of ideas and firm- 
ness of purpose, to make the mind inconsistent, irresolute 
*nd full of self-contradictions. 

1 "And all ready to avenge my wrong, I am already by way of forgiving 

* "No ! let us not revoke the resolve of my angry heart ; he must perish." 

2 '* Hark, Bajazet ! I feel I love you still." 


The very same alternations of resolve that Schlegel makes 
a ground of reproach against Racine, are found equally in 
Corneille's dramatis personce, the reason being they are a 
part of human nature. Médée herself whose character is 
so powerful, alternatives betwixt vengeance and pity : 

" Mais quoi 1 j'ai beau contre eux animer mon audace, 
La pitié la combat et se met à sa place ; 
Puis cédant tout à coup la place à ma fureur, 
J'adore les projets qui me faisaient horreur. 
De l'amour aussitôt je passe à la colère ... 
Je n'écoute rien et mon âme éperdue 
Entre deux passions demeure suspendue." l 

What a knowledge of the human heart ! And yet the 
literary critics persist in declaring Corneille could not 
depict love and analyze jealousy! 

Similarly, unfortunate or jealous lovers oscillate» like 
women, between love and hate ; 

" Tous mes moments ne sont qu'un éternel passage 
De la crainte à l'espoir, de l'espoir à la rage,"* 

says King Antiochus in Bérénice. 

So Pyrrhus is for ever wavering between his love for 
Andromaque and his craving to be avenged for the slights 
she puts on him ; he is turn and turn about fond and 
furious, a humble suppliant and a threatening tyrant Mark 
the same vacillation in Mithridate. Frenzied with jealousy 
he cries : 

" Non, non, plus de pardon, plus d'amour pour l'ingrate . . . 
Immolons en partant trois ingrats à la fois . . . ; wl 

anon his anger fades away, pity and love resume their 

1 " But no ! 'tis in vain I excite my fury against them ; pity joins fight with 
it and drives it back. Then once more giving my wrath its way, I adore the 
very schemes that but now made me shudder. From love I pass in a moment 
to anger. ... I hearken to no word of reason and my bewildered soul hangs 
in suspense betwixt two passions." 

8 " All my existence is but an everlasting passage from fear to hope, from 
hope to rage." 

* "No, no ! no more forgiveness, no more love, for the ungrateful wretch 
... ; let us make an end and sacrifice three monsters of ingratitude at 
once. ..." 


u Mais quelle est ipa fureur ? et qu'est-ce que je dis ? 
O Monime, 6 mon fils 1. Inutile courroux." ' 

A woman who has been forsaken and who is for revenge 
makes her preparations long ere she strikes the final blow; 
She buys the instrument of her crime beforehand, and 
studies the time and place most favourable for its execu- 
tion ; she abandons her purpose, then returns to it afresh, 
traversing a cycle of the most opposite emotions. In 
yielding to her anger, which is raised to fever heat by the 
desire of retaliation, she thinks she can only recover some 
little calmness of mind after her vengeance is satisfied. 
And as a matter of fact, at the moment when $he dis- 
charges her pistol or throws her cup of vitriol, she does 
experience a species of relief and relaxation of tension ; 
she is avenged and she relishes her revenge. In the 
excessive excitement in which she is, she may occasionally 
remain for several hours, or even for several days, without 
regretting the wounds she has inflicted, the death she has 
dealt. But before long a reaction ensues, and she is 
bitterly sorry for what she has done and manifests the 
deepest penitence. Marie B said to the "Juge d'In- 
struction " : " The day I fired the shot, I experienced, I 
confess, a species of satisfaction and relief of mind." On 
the day following her attempt to murder her lover, she 
said to the Commissary of Police : " I do not know how 

serious M. G 's wounds are, but I intend to repeat my 

attempt, as soon as ever I get an opportunity. I have sworn 
to kill the man, and I shall do anything and everything to 
succeed." But some days later her anger subsided, love 
and remorse filled her heart, and on the "Juge d'Instruc- 
tion " remarking to her that her hatred of her former lover 
must have been very deep-seated not to have sooner 
yielded to remorse, when she saw the man she had loved 
fall by her hand, the accused answered : " I was still 
labouring under extreme excitement of mind ; I had 
suffered so terribly!" — Another young girl, who had 

1 ** But what means my fury ? and what is it I am saying ? Oh t Monime, 
oh I my son ! How useless is my wrath ! " 


thrown vitriol in her lover's face and had relished her 
vengeance at the time, declared some days subsequently : 
14 1 feel the most lively regret for what I have done: I 
would give my life that it should never have happened." 

Goethe, who spent his life in loving and abandoning a 
great number of women, without a thought of righfc and 
wrong and absolutely callous to the grief of those he 
forsook, has none the less drawn in Faust a striking picture 
of the agonies of a girl who has. been betrayed, who 
believing herself to be on the high-road to happiness, has 
rushed headlong into calamity and shame. "Dost re- 
member, Marguerite, the days when thou wert wont to 
come and kneel before the altar ? Then thou wert full of 
innocence. . . . Marguerite, what hast thou done? What 
crimes are thine I Dost come to pray for thy mother's 
soul, whose death is upon thy head? Seest thou what 
blood is this on the threshold ? 'tis thy brother's ; and dost 
not feel stirring in thy bosom an unhappy being that e'en 
now presages thee fresh pangs?" In that abode, where 
of old were only sweet flowers and pious prayers, is naught 
now but tears and blood, because the seducer has passed 
that way. 



** Jealousy feeds ever on suspicion. Tis a passion that is always 
seeking after new subjects of disquietude and fresh torments, and it 
becomes a form of madness the instant it passes from doubt to 
certainty.*— La Rochefoucauld. 

The essential characteristic of love is its desire for ex- 
clusive possession, its violent disinclination to share its 
bliss. So natural indeed is the feeling that it is seen 
among savage no less than among civilized peoples. This 
universality of the sentiment is a strong argument against 
the condition of sexual promiscuity which some writers on 
sociology attribute to primitive mankind. Every man is 
fain to have sole possession of the woman he loves, and 
dreads a rival's robbing him of his privileges. This appre- 
hension makes men anxious and suspicious ; tormented 
with doubts and fears, they grow sombre and preoccupied, 
absorbed in one fixed idea that gnaws their heart. A 
prisoner who stood accused of a crime he had committed 
out of jealousy, said that " something was always tearing 
at his brains." 

The jealous lover or husband takes alarm at every trifle, 
and spends all his time in manufacturing motives for 
suspicion. When he is shown the groundlessness of his 
fears, he admits his mistake, but the next moment is at his 
old work again, a victim to doubts and apprehensions of 
fcvery sort. Tossed about from one notion to another, now 
r ^assured, now a prey to fresh anxiety, he knows not what 
to think ; he spies upon his wife and employs others to 
^vatch her smallest actions. He distorts her most trivial 
doings, and puts an ill interpretation on the most in- 
significant : 


" Un regard, un sourire, un instant d'entretien 
(Lui) semble un ennemi qui (lui) ravit son bien." * 

I have noted myself in a number of instances of murder 
committed from jealousy, that nothing so exasperates a 
jealous man as to see the woman he is in love with 
laughing with someone else ; her merriment is in his eyes 
not only a sign of understanding between the pair, but he 
thinks they are deliberately making fun of him. 

Corneille who has given a powerful delineation of 
jealousy, which he knew well, and this not merely from 
observation of others but from his own personal experience, 
represents the hero of one of his dramas as saying : 

" Tout ce qui l'approchait voulait me l'enlever, 
Tout ce qui lui parlait cherchait à m'en priver. 
Je tremblai qu'à leurs yeux elle ne fût trop belle, 
Je les haïssais tous comme plus dignes d'elle* * 

Your jealous man would have no one so much as look 
at the woman he loves, or her look at any one. When 
Louis XIII. fell in love with Mlle, de Hautefort, "he 
would fain," says Cousin, "have had no man speak to 
her, no man even cast eyes on her with any particularity." 
A jealous husband hates his wife going out of doors and 
displaying her beauty to others ; he prefers to keep her 
shut up and isolated in the depths of the country. Alceste 
who is jealous urges Célimène to retire to the country. A 
workwoman whose husband had tried to murder her from 
motives of jealousy, told the examining magistrate that 
the latter would never let her go out to do her household 
errands. At a ball to see a rival's arm encircling the 
beloved one's waist, his eyes fixed on her face, his mouth 
inhaling her breath, is a veritable torment to a man of 
jealous disposition. In society, where savoir-faire, self- 

1 " A look, a smile, an instant's talk, he deems a foe that robs htm of his 
rights." Delavigne, V École des Vieillards. 

2 "AH that came near her seemed eager to take her from me, all that 
spoke to her to be seeking to rob me of her. I trembled lest in their eyes 
she should appear too fair, I hated all men as better worthy of her than 
myself." Corneille Pulchérie^ Act ii. Sc. I. 



respect, pride, all teach control, the jealous man conceals 
his pain and avoids making a scene. But at dances 
frequented by men of the humbler classes, who are not 
such complete masters of their feelings, jealousy is re- 
sponsible for many a scuffle. Not long ago a carpenter 
of a jealous nature, seeing his fiancée at a dance, accom- 
panied by her mother and her two sisters, required her to: 
withdraw ; unable to persuade her, he went away in a 
passion, fetched two guns and took ambush till the end 
of the ball. Directly he saw the women on the threshold 
of their house, laying one gun on the ground, he put the 
other to his shoulder and fired at the group. He wounded 
his fiancée and killed her sister, a girl of fifteen ; the mother's 
life was saved by her daughter who, seeing the murderer 
raise his weapon, threw himself in front of her to protect 
her with her own body. 

The most tender lover, once he is bitten with jealousy, 
may quickly turn savage and brutal ; having suffered 
himself, he would fain have others do the like, his misery 
makes him ill-conditioned, and he proceeds to insult, 
threaten and bully the woman he really loves all the 
while. In his jealousy he longs to strike her, his hand' 
itches to be at her. In the households of working men 
in towns, and farm folk in the country, jealousy leads 
to a perfect rain of blows. To slap his wife's face is the 
first thing that occurs to a jealous husband in the lower 
classes. To return the blow is no less natural and in- 
evitable on the part of the wife. In a few hours' time 
we find the pair taking away the smart of the blows 
they have exchanged with a series of fond caresses, certain 
all the while very soon to begin the same quarrels and 
reconciliations all over again. In higher circles the very 
man who would not have dreamt of striking a woman with 
a flower, will let jealousy mislead him into beating her 
with a walking-cane, or if he does succeed in commanding 
his temper, he will regret he cannot copy the habits of 
commoner folk who settle accounts with their womankind 
by means of a big stick or a resounding slap : 


" Que vous êtes heureux, vous en qui la nature 
Agit sans aucun art et règne toute pure . . . 
Gens du peuple, artisans, portefaix et vilains, 
Vous de qui la vengeance est toujours en vos mains." l 

A jealous lover who suspects his mistress of unfaithful- 
ness tries to force her to confess a fault she has never been 
guilty of. He threatens her, even strikes her, to tear an 
admission from her, promising pardon if she will confess; 
then when the woman, who without having been actually 
untrue to her honour, admits an imprudence of behaviour 
that is open to misconstruction, he seizes on the admission 
to beat her worse than before. 

Jealousy being in a general way a proof of love f it has 
been said that the woman who is its object never fails to 
excuse it. Molière makes one of his female characters say : 

" Fi ! ne me parlez point pour être vrais amants 
De ces gens qui pour nous n'ont nuls emportements. • . . 
Un amour si tranquille excite mon courroux, 
Cest aimer froidement que n'être point jaloux." ' 

It is perfectly true that a woman will excuse much in 
the man who loves with jealous transport. Mary Queen of 
Scots, for instance, always loved Bothwell, who all the time 
made her suffer keenly from his jealous temper ; " from the 
very morrow of her bridal, she had been for aye in tears 
and lamentation, her husband not suffering her to have 
liberty to look at any man whatsoever, or for any to 
look at her." Jealousy may very well win forgiveness for 
the cruelty and pain it is responsible for, when these are 
tempered by subsequent reconciliation and an augmen- 
tation of tenderness ; but in the majority of instances, 
a jealous man does not inspire love, he is harsh and 
tyrannical, an unbearable and odious despot The husband 

1 "How happy you, in whom Nature acts untrammelled by art and reigns 
in entire simplicity . . . common folk, workmen, porters and churls, yon can 
always find vengeance in your own sturdy hands." 

Campistron, Lt jaloux désabusé. 

2 " Bah ! talk not to me, as true lovers, of folks who feel no bursts of 
passion. ... A love so uneventful moves my spleen ; 'tis to love coldly never 
to be jealous." 


who at first inspired fond affection in his wife's bosom by 
his passionate vehemence, soon loses her love through his 
strange suspiciousness and violent temper ; the suspicious 
watch he keeps, the doubts he expresses, the reproaches he 
loads his wife with, all make him odious. The time comes 
when jealousy turns the conjugal home into a hell, and the 
unhappy woman, for ever insulted and beaten, grows weary 
of such a dog's life and takes refuge with her parents. 
"Since my marriage, seven years ago now," a woman 
declared in a Court of Law, " not a day passes without my 
hnsband picking a quarrel with me out of jealousy and 
threatening me with violence. He told me once, C I am 
going to buy a brace of pistols, and hang them by the 
bedside; I shall kill you and myself afterwards.'" — 
Another jealous husband used to keep a great Arab knife 
under the mattress of the bed where he lay with his wife. 
The latter, driven to desperation by these terrible threats, 
ended by going back to her parents. The husband went 
after her, and displayed so much regret and affection that 
she was touched and returned once more to her married 
home. But the former scenes of jealous fury having very 
soon broken out again, the woman lost patience and 
petitioned for a judicial separation. While the suit was still 
in progress, the husband killed her in a fit of resentment. 

In another case a poor wife who had been insulted and 
beaten by her jealous husband at last took refuge in a 
neighbour's house, to escape his cruelties. The husband 
attempted to force the door in order to get his wife back, 
but finding himself unable to do so, he set fire to the 
house, declaring he meant to have her dead or alive. La 

Fontaine cites with a rather childish degree of admiration 

the similar case of a lover, 

44 Qui brûla sa maison pour embrasser sa dame . . . 
J'aime assez cet emportement, 
Le conte m'en a plu toujours infiniment ; 
Il est bien d'une âme espagnole 
Et plus grande encore que folle." ' 

1 " Who burned down his house in order to embrace his lady fair. ... I 


There is no degree of violence jealousy does not make 
men commit. A large number of women are horribly 
ill-used by jealous husbands and lovers ; they are kicked 
and cuffed on the face, belly and legs, their teeth broken 
and their earrings smashed. When justice holds an 
enquiry and the woman's body is examined who has been 
beaten by her jealous husband or lover, it is often found 
black and blue all over with blows. When these jealous 
brutes are striking their victims, they forbid them to 
scream out or make any complaint, and use any cries or 
protests they may make as a pretext for further violence. 
Many women are afraid to complain, and if the neigh- 
bours notice the marks of blows on their face, they invent 
various excuses to account for them. Some, tired out 
with being for ever beaten, commit suicide along with 
their children ; only a short time since the body of a 
young woman was recovered from the Seine, and her 
little girl rescued alive, whom she had dragged in along 
with her. The following letter was found on her: "My 
dear parents, since the day I was married, I have never 
been happy ; every day I am beaten. I cannot bear the 
life any longer. It is very wretched to be forced to kill 
myself along with my little Marie." 

When a criminal from jealousy is brought before the 
Correctional or Assize Court, we sometimes hear counsel 
attempting to disprove the fact of the jealousy, on the 
ground that the victim was of unblemished conduct and 
afforded the accused no motive for the feeling. But the 
entire absence of motive is no reason for denying the 
existence of jealousy. A woman's virtue is no safeguard 
against suspicion ; a husband may be jealous of the 
most virtuous wife. A husband of fifty-nine, intensely 
jealous of his wife, who herself was fifty-one and had borne 
him ten children, stabbed her in fifteen places with a 
dagger, though she had never given him the slightest 
cause for jealousy.— The jealous husband is always corn- 
like his ardour well, and the tale has always pleased me vastly ; 'tis a true 
Spanish soul, great-hearted more than mad." 


plaining of his wife's indifference ; even when he is loved, 
he does not believe he is, and suspects his wife's fidelity 
to him on the most trivial pretext. A young woman who 
had already been shot at several times by her husband, 
told the examining magistrate she had married her 
husband for love, but that on the wedding night, having 
felt some hesitation about yielding to his wishes, she had 
awakened his suspicions and that from that time forth 
she had been subjected to his brutality. 

The husband who experiences doubts as to his being 
really the father of his children, suffers such distress of 
mind that he is quite capable of planning to escape his 
pain by death ; " All I wish," wrote a husband to his wife, 
before putting an end to his own life, is for you to be 
happy, as well as the child that bears my name, but about 
whose paternity I am not so sure. I love it all the same, 
but I have neither strength nor courage to rear it." In 
other cases a jealous husband will kill his pregnant wife, 
to get rid of the child that is to be born. In i860, in 
the arrondissement of Digne, a husband lying in bed by 
his wife who was with child, got up, seized a gun, fired 
at her point blank and killed her. At the same date, at 
Draguignan, a young husband of only twenty-two fired 
at his pregnant wife and his mother-in-law, who were 
seated on the threshold at the door of their house. The 
wife fell wounded and gave birth to a still-born child, the 
mother was not hit, but the son-in-law furious at having 
missed his aim endeavoured to beat out her brains with 
the butt end. 

Not that jealousy is confined to the fear of losing the 
physical possession of the beloved object I do not 
believe it is true to say, "we should readily forgive the 
woman we love a thousand adulterous impulses, always 
provided they have not been carried to accomplishment." l 
He would be a person of little delicacy of feeling who 
should be content with his physical possession, but quite in- 
different to his possession of the heart. Jealousy is at one 
1 A. Dumas fi/s t Affaire CUmenceau, p. 142. 


and the same time physical and moral, it extends to the 
possession of a wife or mistress's thoughts no less than 
to the mere possession of her body. However, men do not 
all feel jealousy in the same way. In some, a small 
minority, it is more moral than physical ; in others it is 
rather physical than moral. Moral jealousy may lead 
to suicide, but not to murder. Here is an instance. A 
man of thirty once was married to a school teacher, whom 
he loved passionately ; without suspecting his wife's 
behaviour, he did not believe she loved him and thought 
another man possessed her heart. The idea caused him 
such intense suffering that he ended by blowing out his 
brains. This example shows that jealousy is not confined 
solely to the dread of losing the physical possession of a 
woman, and that the mere doubt of continuing to hold 
her affection may drive into suicide a husband who yet 
has undisturbed physical possession. I have myself noted 
such delicacy of feeling in a plain workman, a leather- 
dresser. The man in his early days, before he was married, 
had been guilty of a misdemeanour for which he had been 
tried and convicted ; this fact he concealed from his wife, 
whom he loved to distraction. However the latter at last 
found it out and was deeply chagrined by the knowledge. 
Hereupon the husband, fearing he had lost her love, killed 
himself with a revolver shot in the head. 

It is physical jealousy that is responsible for acts of 
violence against others. Nay ! more, the character of this 
jealousy often shows itself in the very nature of the acts 
committed. A husband, after strangling his wife, burned 
her sexual parts. Another individual who was brought 
before the Courts, wishing to revenge himself on a girl 
who would not listen to his suit, enticed her into a trap, 
lifted up her petticoats and threw a corrosive fluid over 
the lower parts of her abdomen. In his Affaire Clemenceau, 
Dumas fils makes the husband conceive the notion of 
punishing the lover in the part where he had sinned. 1 The 

1 Valerius Maximus cites instances of two Roman husbands who mutilated 
the partners of their wives' adultery, Bk. VI. ch. i. no. 13. — Horace mentions 


very same vengeance which the Canon Fulbert practised 
on Abelard, was carried out a few years since in the 
arrondissement of Brignoles. By a refinement of cruelty 
the husband forced his wife by threats of death to perform 
the amputation on her lover with her own hands. In the 
Fenayrou case again the husband compelled his wife to 
take part in his revenge ; Mme. Fenayrou stated that her 
husband, when informed of her infidelity, told her : " I will 
forgive you on one condition only, viz., that you help me 
in my vengeance ; if not I shall kill you, your children 
and you." These threats he repeated every day ; at last 
terrified and desperate, I consented " to save my children's 
lives." After the lover's murder, her husband returned her 
wedding wreath and ring, which he had taken from her, 
telling her, " all is now forgotten." More recently a young 
Provençal woman, thirsting for vengeance on her lover 
who was giving her up in order to marry, gave him a last 
assignation, and while they were together performed an 
amputation on him with a razor that made him incapable 
of marriage. 

Moreover the circumstances under which the jealous 
person strikes his victim, sometimes reveal his state 
of mind and feeling; he kills his mistress after giving 
her a last assignation, after passing the night with her. 
Tacitus in the Annals (Bk. xviii. § 46) relates one of these 
dramas of love and jealousy, which are by no means un- 
common in our own day. Octavius Sagitta, madly in love 
with a married lady named Pontia, bought her favours 
and later on the determination of the husband's rights. 
But, once free, Pontia being attracted by the allurements 
of another and richer match, refused her hand to Sagitta. 
The latter wept tears of despair and disappointment and 
threatened the false woman with every punishment ; finally 
he asked and obtained the favour of passing some hours 
by her side. Then, after giving her proof of his love, seized 

similar cases, Sects. 1, 2. — The ancient Hindus and ancient Egyptians had 
these guilty of seducing women mutilated. Manu. viii. 352 ; Diodorus 
Sialics, Bk. I. § 78. 


with a sudden fit of jealousy, he stabbed her to death with 
a dagger to prevent her ever belonging to another. — Some 
years since, in Provence, a young woman of twenty killed 
her lover under almost identical circumstances, because he 
was contemplating breaking off his liaison with her, in 
order to marry. Masking her anger, she asked for a 
final meeting, which was granted her. The pair of lovers 
spent the night together. Early next morning, while the 
man was still asleep, his mistress struck a dagger into his 
body, exclaiming as she did so : " Mine, or the tomb's ! n 
Similar crimes are committed by lovers, who strangle their 
mistress, that they may suffer from no more doubts about 
their fidelity. It is the same sentiment Racine gives to 
Mithridate : 

" Tu sais combien de fois ses jalouses tendresses 
Ont pris soin d'assurer la mort de ses maîtresses." l 

The police, especially at Paris, occasionally find women 
of pleasure strangled in bed, these crimes having for 
motives either theft or jealousy. A child of eleven, sleep- 
ing in a room next to that where his mother was spending 
the night with a lover, one night heard the death-rattle in 
the poor woman's throat ; he got out of bed and saw the 
lover seated on the bed, strangling his mistress out of 
jealousy. The murderer seeing himself surprised, rushed 
upon the boy, carried him back into his own room, locked 
him in, and took to flight. Next day the woman was 
discovered dead by strangulation. — I myself heard a girl 
who had killed her lover, much older than herself, relate 
how the latter had made her promise under oath to consent 
to a surgical operation on the day when, by reason of 
advancing years he should no longer be able to continue 
his relations with her. " You are much younger than my- 
self, dear ! " he had told her ; " You will still be young 
when I am an old man, and I shall be jealous. Give me 
your oath then, you will never be another's. I know you 

1 "You know how many times his jealous fondness has taken good care to 
assure the death of his mistresses." 


will keep your word ; promise me to submit to an operation 
that will destroy the woman in you." 

The history of Abelard offers an interesting case of 
jealousy and its workings. After undergoing the mutila- 
tion, he was left a prey to intense jealousy. Fearing 
Héloïse's beauty and her habit of love should make her seek, 
or find unsought, a second lover, he made every endeavour 
to separate her from the world by giving her to God. He 
urged upon her that decorum required her to retire to a 
Nunnery to escape the world's curiosity, and found no 
peace till he had succeeded in persuading her to enter a 
religious house and bind her lips by vows — a consumma- 
tion he hurried on by every means in his power. It was 
only when he saw his precious treasure behind the lofty 
walls of the convent and its barred doors that he adopted 
in his turn the monastic life, having taken good care to 
remain free so long as Héloïse was the same. 

The man who marries a widow or a divorced woman 
is exposed to the risk of feeling retrospective jealousy 
in regard to the former husband, his pain arising from 
the thought of his wife having once belonged to another. 
In fact he is jealous of her past life. Her exclusive 
possession in the present and the future is not enough 
for him ; he would like the same exclusive possession to 
have held good in the past likewise. It is no uncommon 
thing to see workmen and farm hands marrying young 
women who have been seduced by some other man 
and who have had a child by him. Nor is it out of 
generosity, or from any wish to conform to the ideas of 
Mme. Aubry y that they marry them. More attracted by 
the dowry than sensible to the point of honour, they 
think themselves safe against any possible feeling of 
jealousy; yet often after marriage this sentiment awakes 
into life. The husband, exasperated by the thought of 
the past, cannot look without indignation at the child 
that is not his and is constantly reminding him of the 
odious incident of former days. I find in the official 
account of a judicial case the following declaration by 


a woman suffering from wounds inflicted by her jealous 
husband, who afterwards committed suicide: "Jealousy 
made my husband completely lose his head. Not long 
before I had had my two children fetched from the 
country; they are not his, but he had adopted them 
when he married me last year. Their being there re- 
doubled his retrospective jealousy. To-day on his rising 
at 5 o'clock he remained standing by my bedside, caressing 
my face and hair. All of a sudden, happening to stretch 
out my arm, I touched something cold ; it was a revolver. 
Before I could grasp hold of it, my husband fired two 
shots at me, then turning the weapon against his own 
body, killed himself." 

This sort of retrospective jealousy on the part of the 
husband with regard to the child of a former husband or 
previous lover will sometimes culminate in the murder of 
the child by the husband in complicity with the mother. 
The child becomes the cause of incessant quarrels between 
the pair ; and the mother comes at last to leave off loving 
a being that, however involuntarily, makes her suffer so 
much. Little by little she goes from indifference to dis- 
like and joins in the hatred her husband feels against the 
child out of jealousy. 

Again marriage with a former mistress is frequently 
troubled with scenes of jealousy, for the husband, remem-r 
bering the light behaviour of the mistress, cannot help 
doubts as to the firm foundation of the wife's virtue. 

A young girl courted by a jealous lover, when she sees 
the latter gloomy and preoccupied or else furiously 
angry and offended at quite innocent words and actions 
on her part, does not take the threats he launches at her 
seriously. But a married woman, having more experience 
and therefore better realizing the gravity of the menaces of 
a jealous husband, often has a presentiment of the fate 
awaiting her. This she announces to her relations and 
friends ; u my husband will kill me," she declares, " one day 
I shall be found dead ; " and her prediction is justified by 
the event. 


A jealous man who has lost possession of a woman, or 

fears to lose it, tormented by the thought of her lying in 

another man's arms, becomes a downright madman ; he 

openly utters threats of death against his rival, entirely 

unable to control the violence of his words ; " I will cut his 

belly open, I will tear his guts out," a husband screamed* 

gnashing his teeth the while. Dr Lombroso, and before 

him Dr Despine, have cited this absence of all prudence 

as a proof of mental obliquity ; these men, they say, who 

in their jealousy are entirely unable to restrain their passion 

and publicly proclaim their purposes of revenge, are not 

made like other folks. But surely these threats are easily 

accounted for. The mouth speaks out of the fulness of the 

heart ; few men and still fewer women can govern their 


" Tu veux que je me taise et que je dissimule ; 
Nérine, porte ailleurs ce conseil ridicule," l 

cries Médée, a prey to jealousy and a thirst for vengeance, 
incapable either of concealing or dissembling her fury. 
No doubt a jealous man or woman who meditates violence, 
would be acting more sagaciously if he went about his 
preparations in secret ; but passion abhors anything like 
prudence and reasonableness. 

Passion having once reached its paroxysm, the jealous 
man, drunk with vengeance, becomes insensible to scandal 
or any other penalty that awaits him ; a veritable frenzy, 
an absolute madness seizes him. A jealous husband 
brandishing a dagger he meant to use on his wife, was 
heard exclaiming he would kill her, kill her, if he had to 
go to the hulks for it. Jealous husbands turn into frantic 
madmen and go on slashing at their wife or rival till the 
knife breaks in their hands. One husband gave his wife 
twenty-four blows with a dagger. Another, after killing 
his, cut up her body into little bits, the better to assuage 
his vengeance. These jealous savages strike their victims 
blow after blow on every part of the body, breast, head, 

1 •• Yon ask me to be silent and dissemble my wrath ; Nérine, this is no 
occasion for so insensate a demand. " 


arms, trunk, limbs. We see women receive ten, twelve, 
fifteen, twenty, knife thrusts. A working-man of forty-six 
after a scene of jealousy, seizes a knife and plunges it time 
after time into his wife's breast, arms, legs, head, after 
throwing her on the floor, then casts himself on the bed 
and deals himself five blows in the region of the heart — 
Another woman receives fifteen stabs with a dagger in the 
back, left breast, right breast, shoulder, belly, wrists. Very 
often a jealous husband will grasp his wife by the neck or 
hair and deal her a first blow with his knife, while she is 
still on her legs ; then on his victim dropping, he will kneel 
on her body, gashing her with reiterated stabs. 

When a jealous husband is for punishing the lover or 
supposed lover of his wife, we see him provide himself with 
several weapons, a gun and a dagger, or several guns and 
several pistols ; he has never enough weapons to carry out 
his murderous purpose with. Often, after emptying his 
revolver, he throws himself upon his victim and strikes, 
and strikes, till the weapon breaks in his hand. A 
husband who had killed his wife's lover, said : " Yes ! I 
fired off the six chambers of my revolver at her ; if there 
had been a dozen, I should have emptied them all." One 
prisoner, who had rushed knife in hand at his mistress, 
who had deserted him, and had stabbed her in eighteen 
places, said to the Court : " I laid in like a madman, I 
struck till I could not lift my hand." The wrong done 
him by an unfaithful wife or a successful rival being pro- 
digious in his eyes, the jealous husband, intoxicated with 
fury, cannot satisfy his craving vengeance except by 
striking blow upon blow ; he would like to kill the 
offender over and over again. It is not one death he 
would make his rival suffer, but a thousand. "Though 
she had had as many lives as drops of blood in her 
body," Othello cries, "they would not have sufficed to 
quench my thirst for vengeance." — " When Aubert fell at 
my feet with his face to the ground, after the blow with a 
hammer I had dealt him," Fenayrou states in his examina- 
tion, " I turned him over and holding him under me, face 


to face, looking straight into his eyes, I said to him : ' You 
miserable thief, you have robbed me of my honour, but I 
have got you at last ! You have tortured my heart, and 
your own heart shall pay for it ; " and so saying, I plunged 
the blade of a sword-stick into his body near the heart, 
turning it about to try and reach a mortal spot." — Other 
jealous husbands recoil at the thought of murder, not out 
of humanity, but in order that their victim, surviving his 
wounds, may suffer more long-drawn agonies. One such 
told his wife, before striking, " I did not give you life, and 
I will not rob you of it, but I mean to maim you for life." 

When a jealous man is in the paroxysm of his fury, woe 
betide the relative or friend who is for intervening to 
protect the victim ; the madman turns his anger upon him 
at once. A daughter having endeavoured to save her 
mother from the violence her father was going to offer her, 
the latter began by striking his daughter twelve times with 
a knife, and then threw himself on his wife and dealt her 
fifteen slashing blows. 

On being questioned after his arrest as to the crime he 
has just committed, the jealous malefactor replies that he 
was blinded by passion, that he was no longer master of 
his actions, that he did not know what he was doing. 
These explanations contain a large element of truth, — a 
fact however which in no way destroys moral or penal 
responsibility, though it may extenuate it. At the moment 
of striking his frenzied blows, the offender has the frantic 
look of a madman or a savage beast ; an eye-witness said 
of a jealous husband who had just fired at his wife, "he 
looked like a wild cat." Moreover observation shows that 
the man whom jealousy makes a murderer is marked by 
a congested condition of the brain, a blood-red face and 
«yes starting out of his head. He is described as seeing 
red, for he is blinded by excess of blood. An eye-witness 
said, describing a husband who had just killed his wife 
and afterwards attempted suicide : " His face was purple ; 
you would have thought he had a stroke of apoplexy." 
Ora tument ira, nigrescunt sanguine venae (" The face is 


swollen with rage, the veins show dark with blood "X 
writes Ovid. In another case, a spectator spoke thus of 
the murderer : " His face was extraordinarily red, in such 
a state as I had never seen before." Another added 
further : " The blood had so run to his face, he could not 
see; the blood blinded him." — In women under the in- 
fluence of jealousy, on the contrary, we do not remark the 
same physiological phenomena ; they are pale rather than 
red, all a-tremble, and the eyes especially bright. Some 
women, after firing a couple of shots from a revolver, 
swoon away, while others are seized with a fit of tremb- 
ling. A girl who had just fired off two chambers of a 
revolver at her lover came all pale and trembling to ask a 
neighbour for a drink of water ; so agitated was she, they 
had to hold the glass to her lips. 

The man who has killed the woman he loves out of 
jealousy is happy just at first at having satisfied his anger, 
but very soon he bursts out sobbing and crying, " Wretch 
that I am ! I have killed the woman I loved ! " — A husband 
who had just murdered from this motive the wife he 
adored, when arrested and taken to the police office, spent 
his time in weeping and lamenting, and covering with 
kisses his victim's photograph, which he had drawn from 
his pocket. — Another jealous husband, who had struck the 
most furious and savage blows at his wife, presently threw 
himself on her dead body, weeping and crying out in 
despair. — These instances, which I could readily multiply» 
show how true the picture is which Shakespeare has 
drawn of jealousy in the case of Othello, who fondly 
kisses Desdemona before smothering her. The dramas of 
the great poets of the world are but reproductions of the 
tragedies of the Courts of Law. I read in the report of a 
criminal trial how a jealous husband, after firing five shots 
with a revolver at his wife, without heeding the supplica- 
tions of his victim, who besought him to spare the mother 
of his children, afterwards overwhelmed her with marks of 
tenderness and led her to an inn, where her wounds might; 
be attended to. 


In the majority of cases, the jealous husband makes 
no effort to escape, but surrenders himself as a prisoner r 
saying to the police at the gendarmerie, " I come to give 
myself up ; I have just killed my wife." Still I have 
known a case where the husband denied his guilt and 
declared his wife had committed suicide; but the state- 
ment was in direct contradiction to the medical evidence, 
as well as discredited by the affirmation of a witness who 
had heard the wife cry out, " I am killed." 

When the murderer from jealousy does not give himself 
up to justice, he very often puts an end to his own life. 
This is what Othello does, who dies kissing Desdemona 
whom he has just murdered ; " I gave you a kiss before 
killing you," he cries ; " now that I kill myself, I cannot, 
no ! I cannot refrain from dying with my lips on yours." 
— The murder of Zaïre is followed by the suicide of 
Orosmane. After having Pyrrhus put to death, Hermione 
throws herself on his corpse and kills herself; Py lades 
tells Oreste how he has seen her 

" Un poignard à la main sur Pyrrhus se comber, 
Lever les yeux au ciel, se frapper et tomber." l 

Nor is remorse the only motive that impels the man 
whom jealousy makes a murderer to commit suicide 
afterwards. Apart from the wish he entertains to escape 
justice, he puts an end to himself, that he may no more 
be separated from the one he loves ; she being dead, he 
longs to die too. On the other hand, if she survive her 
wounds, he wishes also to live. As the by-standers were 
hurrying to snatch her revolver from the hand of a woman 
who had just fired at her lover out of jealousy, but had 
missed her aim, she answered instantly : " Nay ! Never 
fear, I shall not kill myself, as I have killed him." 

In these cases the suicide of the murderer follows 
immediately on his victims death ; it is a suicide of 
overmastering impulse. But in other cases, the suicide 

1 "A dagger in her hand bend o'er Pyrrhus, raise her eyes to heaven, 
then strike the blow and fall." 


is as much premeditated as the murder. Determined 
to avenge her wrongs, the jealous woman forms the 
deliberate design of killing herself, after doing the same 
to her false lover; 

" De ma sanglante mort ta mort sera suivie," * 

declares Roxane. — A woman who had shot her lover, 
said under examination, " I wanted to kill him, but I was 
no less anxious to be rid of my own life." 

Very frequently also the idea of suicide will arise in 
the mind of a victim of jealousy before that of murder; 
he is so unhappy he turns his thoughts to death, but 
wishes not to die alone. " I am going to die," said one 
such, but first I mean to kill her, I do not choose she 
should survive me, and as I cannot be happy with her, 
I must sleep the eternjd sleep along with her." — " When 
I bought this revolver, it was with the intention of 
committing suicide," said another at his trial, u but before 
that I wanted to kill my mistress; I was too unhappy 
for anything." — Yet another told the same tale, " I long 
to die, but I mean her to die first." 

The lover of a married woman may suffer so greatly 
from the necessity of sharing with the legitimate husband 
as to prefer suicide, and in that case he will be moved 
not to make the woman die along with him, but rather 
to kill the husband before putting an end to himself. 
I have myself noted an instance of the sort. A witness 
said, speaking of a jealous lover who before killing him- 
self, had tried to murder his mistress's husband, "the 
fact is he was tired of life." — Again, the husband who is 
a prey to jealousy and unhappiness, may be seized with 
a disgust for existence and turn his thoughts to suicide as 
a relief, but unable to resign himself to the idea of his 
wife surviving him, he kills her first and himself afterwards. 
A jealous husband who had failed in the attempt on his 
own life, after having killed his wife, said : " My wife 
never loved me ; I thought it best we should both of us 

1 "My bloody death will be followed by yours." 


die together ; I fired two shots with a revolver at her and 
three at myself." — Nay! a jealous husband may actually 
push his egoism so far as to kill his wife, if he himself 
falls ill and thinks he is going to die. In 1895, at the 
Assize Court of the Alpes Maritimes, a prisoner was tried, 
who being excessively jealous of his mistress and knowing 
himself to be seriously ill, said to her : " I am attacked by 
mortal sickness, but before I die, I shall kill you ; " and 
a few days afterwards he actually did so. — A jealous lover 
who murders his mistress, and then attempts his own 
death, will sometimes pretend he only killed her at her 
own desire ; he declares it to have been a double suicide, 
in fact, whereas it was really a case of murder and suicide. 
— Other instances occur where jealous husbands or lovers, 
who have been unsuccessful in business, being at the end 
of their resources and seeing ruin staring them in the face, 
kill themselves and their wife or mistress at the same 
time, that they may not leave them behind them 
unprotected. — Military men also, sick of the service 
and attacked by home-sickness, sometimes kill them- 
selves and persuade their mistress to die along with 

In July 1895 at Paris an electrician tried to kill his 
mistress from jealousy and afterwards committed suicide. 
He left letters behind him intended to lead to the belief 
of a double suicide : "We made up our minds long ago, 
Louise and I t we wished to marry one another, but her 
father is opposed to the match, and once said he would 
sooner see her dead than married to me ; his wish is about 
to be accomplished. How is it all to end ? I cannot tell, 
for Louise does not possess the courage to take her own 
life, and / cannot kill the woman I love so madly." Some 
days later, he adds : " Louise s father having seen us 
together, made a terrible scene, and Louise told me she 
dared not go with me any more ; so at last we must make 
an end." He struck his mistress several blows with a 
dagger in the breast and body, then shot himself in the 
mouth with a revolver. The neighbours, on running to 


the spot, found the man dead, but the woman still breath- 
ing. She was able, before expiring, to relate how her 
lover had struck her from motives of jealousy, adding that 
she had made all the resistance she possibly could. A 
witness confirmed her statement, declaring he had heard 
cries of help ! murder ! 

A jealous woman on the other hand who falls ill and 
allows thoughts of suicide to master her, though she 
endeavours to induce her husband to share them, does 
not as a rule succeed, and lacking the courage to kill him, 
confines herself to simple suicide. " Over and over again 
in the course of her illness," says one husband, " my wife 
expressed the intention of committing suicide and proposed 
that I should tie us both up and that we should then 
submit to death by charcoal fumes. I agreed to this, in 
order to calm her, and for the time being she was satisfied. 
Then later on I talked her out of the scheme. However, 
yesterday morning, being seized afresh by her suicidal 
notions, and perceiving she could not induce me to die 
with her, she put an end to her life." 

When jealousy arises between friends or relations, it 
straightway transforms them into implacable foes. In 
i860, in the neighbourhood of Draguignan, two farmers 
lived together in the utmost friendship ; they were always 
together, and each of the pair had made a will in the 
other's favour. Unfortunately they both fell in love with 
the same person. One of them won the fair one's favours 
and told his friend, who for his part had concealed his 
passion. The latter, maddened by the revelation and a 
prey to a frenzy of jealousy, proceeded to denounce his 
friend to the young woman's father, in order to put an end 
to the liaison. The other, on hearing of this piece of 
treachery, was violently angry and determined to avenge 
himself first and then commit suicide. He lay in wait for 
his former friend in the fields and stabbed him with a ^ 
knife ; this done, he swallowed poison, and death not ^ 
coming quick enough, wounded himself mortally in the^^ 
lower part of the body. 


On learning the fact that his son Xiphares is loved by 
Monime, Mithridate cries in a passion of wrath : 

" Ah ! fils ingrat, tu vas me répondre pour tous ; 
Tu périras î ..." l 

Nor is it on the boards only that suchlike scenes of 
jealousy occur between father and son, who are in love 
with the same individual, ending either in the murder of 
the son by the father, or in that of the woman. I have 
myself known a father, who was jealous of his own son, 
fire a pistol shot at the latter. In another case, a certain 

R attempted to kill a young girl he was violently in 

love with, and whom his son was equally attached to. 
The girl, who was merely wounded, gave the following 

account before the examining magistrate : " R told 

me he loved me with all his might, that in his eyes I was 
the most perfect woman in the world, that he had laid hands 
upon the photograph of myself I had given his daughter, 
my friend, and covered it with kisses every day, that he 
loved me madly, wildly, though he knew quite well he 
ought to do nothing of the kind. On hearing these words, 
I was so much agitated I began to tremble ; he then came 
close to me as if to reassure me, but in reality to kiss 
me." This father who was so jealous of his son even grew 
jealous of the friendship existing between the girl he 
loved and his own daughter, whom he treated with such 
violence of language that she thought seriously at one 
time of drowning herself. He once more renewed his 
declarations of passionate love to the young woman he 
Was enamoured of, and finally seeing she remained in- 
sensible to his ardour, because she loved his son, he fired 
^ pistol shot at her. The Assize Court condemned him to 
*«i years' imprisonment. 

The main part of the observations I have made as to 
«"nasculine jealousy are equally applicable to feminine. It 
*inay even be said that women are even more jealous than 
*men. More even than vanity, more than love of dress, 

1 " Ah ! ungrateful boy, you shall answer for all ; you shall die !.. ." 


more than the love of mastery, jealousy is the dominant 
characteristic of feminine human nature. Only, in women 
jealousy is less often physical than it is with men. On the 
other hand, there is still more self-love in feminine jealousy 
than in masculine. Unable in the majority of cases to 
pursue either honour or power, knowledge or wealth, they 
set their pride and pleasure on pleasing, on making them- 
selves loved, concentrating every thought on love. * Two 
pretty women may scarce be friends," said the great 
preacher Fléchier. Steadfast friendship, frequent enough 
between men, is rare among women ; they are too jealous 
of each other. If jealousy is the main-spring of Racine's 
Tragedies, this is merely because Racine applied to the 
stage the observations he had made with regard to the 
women of the Court of Louis XIV. Hermione is jealous 
of Andromaque, Roxane is jealous of Atalide, Phèdre is 
jealous of Aricie, precisely as Mlle, de La Vallière is 
jealous of Mme. de Montespan, Mme. de Montespan 
jealous of Mlle, de Fontanges, and so on and so on. 

There is little difference between the jealousy of great 
ladies and that of women of commoner clay. True, the 
latter come more readily to blows and open insult; but 
these battles royal and fierce bursts of passion are not 
unknown in the history even of princesses and queens. 
Elizabeth of England, learning that Miss Bridges was 
engaged in an intrigue with the Earl of Essex with whom 
Her Majesty was deeply smitten, had her summoned before 
her, overwhelmed her with reproaches and actually struck 
her. 1 The same queen, jealous of Lady Howard, whom 
she saw dressed out in a magnificent costume, made her 
take it off. — The daughter of Gustavus Adolphus, Queen 
Christina of Sweden, the monarch who called Descartes 
to her side and to whom Pascal dedicated his arithmetical 
machine, was not a whit less violent than the work-girl 
of to-day who throws vitriol in her lover's eyes. It is 
well known how she had her former favourite Monaldeschi 
put to death, because he had preferred a rival to herself; , 

1 M. La Ferrière, Deux Drama cf amour, p. 253. 


she laughed while they were cutting his throat before her 
eyes, and when Mazarin urged her not to come to Paris 
after the murder, she replied : " As for the action I have 
taken concerning Monaldeschi, I tell you, if I had not 
done as I have, I should not go to rest to-night with- 
out doing it, nor have I any reason to repent of my 

These rivalries between women find expression in 
mutual recriminations, fisticuffs, pistol shots or vitriol 
throwing. Sometimes the fury animating two rivals is so 
great it is impossible to bring them face to face before 
the Juge d'instruction or in Court. A married woman, who 
had been wounded by her husband's mistress, had an 
attack of fever on hearing that the Juge d'instruction was 
going to confront her with her rival. When a rivalry 
arises between a married woman and her husband's 
mistress, it is generally the former who, strong in her 
sense of right, strikes her unworthy rival. At the same 
time it is no uncommon thing to see the mistress, carried 
away by jealousy, seeking a quarrel with the lawful 
wife and telling her: "One or other of us is evidently 

It is the jealousy she feels with regard to her husband's 
first wife which so frequently makes the step-mother harsh 
and cruel towards the children of the previous marriage. 
The sight of these motherless beings, which should of 
rights inspire her with a tender compassion, irritates her 
as recalling the memory of one who before her time held 
so large a place in her husband's affections. 

44 Des droits de ses enfants une mère jalouse 
Pardonne rarement aux fils d'une autre épouse." l 

In fact the hatred the cruel step-mother exhibits towards 
Vhe children of the first marriage is really only jealousy 
against the first wife. The same jealous dislike is also felt 
Sometimes by men towards the first husband of a widow 

1 "Jealous of her children's rights, a mother seldom forgives the sons of 
another wife." 


they have married, and the offspring of the earlier marriage. 
Pyrrhus experiences it towards the son of Andromaque, 
fearing Astyanax may too vividly recall the dead Hector, 
and Andromaque admire in the boy " his eyes, his mouth, 
and precocious signs of his gallantry." This jealousy on 
the part of the step-mother often finds expression in acts 
of cruelty. I will quote only one example, taken from a 
recent judicial case ; a step-mother strangled her husband's 
twelve-year-old daughter by a former marriage, and threw 
the body into a well. — Sometimes children resort to suicide 
to escape the brutality of their step-mother. I have even 
noted the suicide of a young man of twenty, who hanged 
himself, to avoid witnessing the ill-treatment his step- 
mother practised on his younger brother. — If a step-mother 
thus tortures the children of her husband's first marriage 
it is because jealousy tortures her, driving her sometimes 
even to the point of suicide. One man, who had been left 
a widower with a little girl, had placed his child in an 
educational establishment and married a second time. 
When subsequently the girl, on the completion of her 
education, returned to her father's home, tall, pretty and 
the image of her dead mother, the new wife who had 
replaced the latter, was so filled with jealousy that in a 
spasm of fury she swallowed a phial of laudanum. 

From the most trivial motives, women of a nervous 
temperament, a prey to jealousy, take poison, smother 
themselves with charcoal fumes, throw themselves out of 
window, because their husband or lover, as the case may 
be, has come home late, because he seems careless of their 
love, because he refuses a kiss, or praises another woman, 
and the like. I have myself known suicides due to every 
one of these childish grievances. A jealous woman's 
imagination exaggerates every trifle, puts an unnatural 
construction on every incident, invents imaginary wrongs 
to torment herself with, provokes fits of senseless despair 
or baseless anger. The frequent quarrels that break out in 
households and end in the suicide of the wife, generally owe 
their origin to jealousy. After a more than usually violenta 


-scene, the jealous woman opens a window, climbs over a 
balcony railing, and hurls herself into space, or else sets 
about her preparations for a death by charcoal fumes, after 
writing to her husband, " As we cannot get on together any 
longer, farewell ! do not be angry with me. It has to be." 

A jealous woman longs to absorb her husband's every 
thought ; she cannot witness without chagrin the affection he 
bears his friends, — they rob her of a share of the heart she 
would have entirely her own. The wife of a man of letters 
may feel jealousy towards his books, which deprive her of 
a part of his time, and provide him with a happiness 
independent of her ; the books are rivals, — she will en- 
deavour to draw her husband from his studies, to bring 
him nearer to herself, to have him all her own. A jealous 
wife cannot bear her husband to experience a single joy 
she does not share, she hates to share his heart and his 
time with anybody or anything. Jealousy of the kind 
is no sign of a tender, loving, passionate heart, it is but 
a craving of her pride and spirit of domination ; to fill her 
husband's thoughts so that he neglects his friends and his 
work, to keep him dominated, subjugated, absorbed by 
his love for her, is a delightful satisfaction to her self-love. 
A woman may also be jealous of her husband's good looks, 
not solely because it exposes him to the chance of other 
women being taken with him, but because it gives him a 
superiority over her, which humiliates her, and is liable to 
make him cold and disdainful towards her. A woman 
who felt this jealousy of her husband, said on his being 
attacked by small-pox : " I hope with all my heart he may 
be disfigured ; he was too handsome altogether." 

More particularly in the case of a wife who is older 

than her husband and who is now getting on in years, does 

jealousy assume an exceptional degree of intensity. To 

^ee her hair whitening, her face wrinkling, her eyes growing 

«**ui and her teeth failing, while her husband still possesses 

J*i^ dark locks, fresh complexion, bright eyes and good 

*^«th, and is quite able still to charm other women, gives 

-"^t atrocious pain. If to this is added the desertion of 


her husband or merely the dread of this, which alone is 
sufficient to cause her horrid suffering, we see her, under 
the stimulus of an excessive and abnormal nervous excite- 
ment, now beg and pray her husband on her knees not 
to forsake her, now threaten to kill him first, and herself 
afterwards. Often these scenes of jealousy end in suicide 
or else the murder of the husband and the suicide of the 
wife. The woman buys a revolver, without precisely 
knowing what she means to do with it ; then one day, 
after yet another scene, she turns the weapon against 
herself or else against her husband. 

In periods of Revolution, while men are led by ambi- 
tion to denounce those whose place they covet, women 
denounce other women of whom they are jealous. Under 
the Terror jealousy laid low, as the result of treacherous 
denunciations, more than one woman's head on the 
scaffold ; and the authoress of the denunciation, the better 
to relish her vengeance, never failed to take her place in 
the first row to enjoy her rival's punishment. 

There are mothers who are jealous of the youth and 
beauty of their own daughters, sisters, and sisters-in-law 
are jealous of each other. The Memoirs of Mlle, de 
Rémusat tell us how jealous the sisters of Napoleon I. 
were of Josephine. The mother who makes a match 
for her son is often jealous of her daughter-in-law. Nay, 
more ! there are mothers who out of selfishness and pride, 
would fain monopolize all their children's love and are 
jealous of the affection they display towards other relatives 
or even towards their father. Lastly, but more excep- 
tionally, a woman may push her jealousy so far as to 
be angry at seeing her husband showing more attention 
to her children than to herself. I have even known 
an instance of suicide proceeding from such a motive; 
a woman who thought her husband did not love her 
enough, noticing that at table he would pass a dish to 
his son before offering it to her, cried out in a burst of 
senseless jealousy, " Enough of this ! " — and opening the 
window of the room sprang out into space. 


Not that the women who complain the most bitterly of not 
being loved are themselves such as love the most ardently. 
Not only may there be in feminine jealousy more of 
egotism and self-love than of true passion, but there may 
actually be jealousy without love at all. Speaking of 
Count Almaviva, a libertine from sheer ennui and jealous 
out of mere vanity, Suzanne says to the Countess : " But 
why so much jealousy ? " — " As with all husbands, my dear, 
simply out of pride," answers the Countess. The same 
observation applies, in very many cases, to female jealousy. 
A woman, though she cares little for her husband, does 
not therefore the less desire to be loved. This love flatters 
her vanity ; she is irritated and offended, if she has to 
go without it, being robbed of it by another woman. 
Women who deceive their husband, may yet kill him out 
of jealousy. We give an instance A widow of forty 
had relations with a young man, who however broke off 
with her because he learnt she had not been faithful to 
him ; wounded at the slight, she tried to poison him. 
The young man taking his meals at an hotel along with 
other boarders, she slipped unperceived into the kitchen, 
and managed to throw a large quantity of arsenic into 
the pot-au-feu. Five persons suffered from vomiting in 
consequence. Then constituting herself nurse of the 
young man. who was one of the invalids, she attempted 
to .give him a poisoned cooling-draught 

Jealousy may break out between father and son, mother 
and daughters, and lead to these monstrous crimes. 
Sons kill their father, daughters their mother, out of 
jealousy. Some years since, the Assize Court of the 
Bouches-du-Rhône tried the case of a young girl, who 
had killed her mother from jealousy, her lover being an 
-accomplice in the act. Yet this girl had been brought 
up in a convent, where she had attracted attention by 
1er peculiar piety. I found among the documents relat- 
ing to the case a number of letters written from the 
Convent, in which the school-girl in training there described 
*^*e happiness she felt in hearing the Church music and 


witnessing the noble ceremonies of Religion. She had 
even thought of taking the veil. The Lady Superior of 
the convent where she had begun her religious noviciate 
wrote in the following terms to her mother : " Marie loves 
her dear father and her mother more than I can tell. 
When she speaks of them, all her being burns with ardour. 

. . . Oh ! my dearest Madam, assure M. B with all 

confidence that Marie loves him fondly, and that nothing 
but the Will of God is strong enough to extort such a 
sacrifice from her. Tell him Our Lord is grateful to him 
for having given him his daughter for bride. . . . You 
are happy, most happy in never having suffered one im- 
pure breath of the wicked world to stain this tender 
flower, which has touched the sacred heart of Jesus. And 
indeed he loves his little Marie well and makes her very 
happy ; she feels never a shadow of regret for having 
given up all that young girls desire and hope." 

Some months later, having left the convent at her 
parents' order, she became the mistress of her mother's 
former lover. Jealous of the latter, she conceived a 
violent hatred of her. The mother having fallen ill, she 
longed for her death ; then, on her recovery, she plotted 
with her lover to kill her, jealousy turning her into a 
parricide. Her lover asked her hand in marriage, and 
was refused ; furious at this, he said to the girl : " Will 
you be mine ? " — to which she replied, " Yes ! I will." — 
" Well, then ! only one way remains, we must get rid of 
your mother." At first the girl made sundry objections, 
but soon, dominated by the hatred inspired by her 
jealousy of her mother, she agreed to the plan of murder. 
" Feeling as I did the most ardent love for Léon," she 
declared to the Juge d? instruction, " I experienced a fierce 
passion of jealousy towards my mother." We reproduce 
the account she herself gave of the murder : " Léon began 
by striking her with his fists, and trying to strangle her r 
but as she resisted, he was obliged to take a kitchen knife. 
The creature would not die; she resisted fiercely am 
pushed Léon away, even after she had received two knifi 


thrusts in the throat He struck her on the mouth and 
broke two of her teeth ; then my mother having got 
possession of the weapon, Léon called to me to fetch a 
big cheese knife ; I got it and gave it him, and he plunged 
it in her throat" Further examination revealed the fact 
that, while the victim was struggling, her daughter had 
kicked her ; and when she was dead, the accused had 
trampled upon her body. The two lovers carried the 
corpse down into the cellar and set to work to cut it into 
pieces, to make it unrecognizable. They divided the four 
limbs from the trunk, and attempted to cut off the head, 
but without success. Next day they went and threw the 
body into the sea. On coming back, they went to bed 
and indulged in sexual intercourse. In a letter she wrote 
to the Juge dinstruction, the accused added : " I cannot 
account for my having done what I have, I who would 
not have stayed by a dead person for all the wealth in 
the world." 

I am bound for the sake of completeness to say some- 
thing of the horrible scenes of jealousy caused by fathers 
who abuse their own daughters. It is a revolting subject, 
yet I cannot pass it over in entire silence. There are 
mothers who tremble when they see their husband kissing 
their daughters. Some to save their children's honour, 
actually give information to the law ; others, terrified by 
the threats and violence of their husbands, do nothing to 
prevent these monstrous acts, but suffer agonies of grief 
at such a state of things. Among the many cases of 
this kind I have had before me, I remember one father 
who had abused his two daughters and had got them 
with child. He would say, " I did not bring girls into 
the world for other men to enjoy." The mother, who was 
^ iv are of his abominable doings, dared not denounce him 
to the police; she only made up her mind to do so when 
s ^e saw him beginning attempts on the third daughter, 
^'ho was now growing up. Another father told his two 
<* blighters : "Though they should send me to the hulks 
**>*" it, I am determined to give you each a child." 


These incestuous relations are often accompanied by 
jealousy. A father, who had abused his daughter, was 
seized with jealousy and endeavoured to get her shut up 
in a Penitentiary, laying a false charge of immoral 
conduct against her. — Another girl, a victim to her father's 
lubricity, was forced in order to avoid exciting his jealousy, 
to be always badly dressed, with her hair in slovenly 
disorder; her father forbade her to pay the smallest 
attention to her toilet. For fear she should attract the 
attention of a young man, who came to ask her hand in 
marriage, he kept her shut up indoors, prevented her 
speaking to the neighbours or leaving the house to look 
for work. Eventually however he agreed to her marrying, 
on condition of her going on with her relations with 
himself. But he became jealous of his son-in-law, and 
compelled his daughter to come back to him, taking 
her furniture away from her. — A father who abuses his 
daughter and becomes jealous of her, invariably oppostik 
her marrying. One father who had at last consented to 
his daughter's marriage, forced her to submit to him on 
her very wedding-day, immediately after she had put on 
her wedding costume for the religious ceremony. In 
another case, the accused was a retired gendarme, who 
exceedingly jealous of his daughter whom he had abused, 
had stabbed her with a knife. Some time previously, he 
had wished to kill a young man who had given the girl 
his arm for a walk. Among girls who are the victims of 
these monstrous acts, but dare not complain, some suffer 
so terribly they end in committing suicide. I have knompi 
the case of one such who killed herself in despair along 
with her mother, to escape these incestuous outrages. It 
has been said that " every man has in his heart a sleeping 
swine " ; and the swine often awakens with horrible results. 
We may even go so far as to say there is no brute so foul 
and cruel as to rival man in lubricity and cruelty. Fathers . 
are found ready to procure abortion in their daughters, to* 
strike them, to trample their bodies to bring about this 
result. Nor are these monstrous passions only of modenr: 


date ; they have always existed. Jousse relates how a 
President of Commission (" President aux Enquêtes ") of 
the Parliament of Paris, Aimar Rauconnet, convicted of 
incestuous intercourse with his own daughter, was confined 
in the Bastille, where he committed suicide, foreseeing the 
sentence of death to be pronounced upon him. De Thou, 
who mentions the circumstance in his History (Bk. xxiii.), 
says he was a man of much reading and deep learning. 

Jealousy depending largely on temperament, and tem- 
perament on climate, it is in the South, among the 
people of Provence and Corsica, among Italians, Greeks 
and Spaniards, that I have noted the most cruel and 
outrageous crimes inspired by jealousy. Under a sky of 
flame men's passions are fiercer than under one of ice. 
Fiery love is more often than not but the outcome of 
fiery suns. The heart is hotter in the South, because the 
blood is hotter there ; Ut est genus Numidarum, in Venerem 
prœups (" As is the race of the Numidians, headstrong in 
^ passion "). Love is more ardent and sensual, and pari passu 
» jealousy more violent, in Provence, in Italy, in Spain than 
in Northern lands. Amongst Northern nations, imagina- 
tion and day-dreams often play a greater part than the 
senses. Jealousy and the point of honour form the stock- 
in-trade of the Spanish stage, simply because these are the 
most prevalent and the strongest emotions in Spain. To 
fully understand the nature of jealousy among Southerners, 
I propose to give a few instances borrowed from recent 

In a comedy entitled "The Shorn Maid," Menander 

**rirtgs on the scene a love-sick and jealous captain, who 

c ^ts off his mistress's hair in a fit of jealousy. A certain 

-M^tracia, brought up before the Assize Court of the 

-**^>*iches-du-Rhône on a charge of murder, had practised 

***^ same act of jealous violence on his wife, a woman of 

Ur ^common beauty ; he cut off" her hair, and exposed her in 

* ^tate of complete nudity at a window. In another fit of 

-J^^Jousy he bit her in the face, tearing out her nose with 

***** teeth. 


Some years since, at Marseilles, the sailors on board 
a Greek ship, hearing shouts of pain coming from their 
captain's cabin, hurried there to find him stretched on a 
bed with a wound in the groin from which the intestines 
protruded. His mistress had that moment stabbed him 
with a knife, because in the course of the day he had 
kissed a Greek woman. Often no more than this is needed 
to rouse the jealous fury of a Provençal, an Italian or a 
Greek woman. A woman of the South will punish her 
lover in the most horrible way merely because she has 
seen him talking to another ; for this reason alone quite 
lately, at Marseilles, a woman poured a bottle of vitriol 
over her lover, as he lay asleep, drenching him from head 
to foot ; in spite of the cries of pain he uttered she went 
on emptying the corrosive liquid onto his body to the last 

In the neighbourhood of Toulon, a young married man» 

by name S , being constrained to break with his mistress* 

one R , killed her, that she might never be another 

man's. The woman, who resided with her father, was on 
her side passionately attached to her lover ; to use the ex- 
pression of a witness in the case, she was infatuated with 
him and was ready to tear out the eyes of any one who 
should stand in the way of her love. Intensely jealous of 
the lawful wife, she repeatedly provoked very animated 
scenes with her. Outraged by her husband's faithlessness, 
the wife complained to her father, beseeching him to put 
a stop to it Deeply grieved at his daughter's sorrow, the 
father conceived so fierce a hatred against his son-in-law's 
mistress that, again to follow a witness's phrase, " his eyes 
jumped out of his head " when he spoke of her. As the 
result of his representations, he extracted a promise from 
his son-in-law to break off the connection and restore to 
his wife her peace of mind ; but still dreading a change of* 3 
sentiment, he formed the plan of getting rid of the mistress ^^ 

during a walk by the sea, and proposed that his son-in - 

law should join in the plot. The latter rejected the idea^^m 
but promised, in order to make the rupture final, to leave^^ 


the country and take his wife with him ; later still, he 
abandoned this design, being now firmly convinced his 
mistress would follow him wherever he went. Hereupon 
the father-in-law returned to the charge, and ended by 
getting the other to see the necessity of killing the 
mistress ; the lover acquiesced in the project, because he 
wished, when breaking with her, to have the certainty she 
would never belong to another man. To strike the blow 
when she was in her father's house was plainly impossible ; 
she must be enticed into the fields, into some lonely spot 

Acting on his father-in-law's advice, S invented a 

tale, promising his mistress he would elope with her at 

night and quit his wife for ever. R , surprised at this 

right about face, felt some suspicion just at first, but this 

soon yielded to her love, and she made her preparations 

for flight. One night, in the face of a terrible storm, she 

left her father's house and joined her lover, who was 

waiting for her. Fearing and suspecting nothing, proud 

and happy to be flying with him, she allowed him to lead 

her to a lonely place where the father-in-law was waiting, 

concealed behind a rock. The instant he saw her, he 

sprang upon her and stabbed her several times over, but 

without killing her. The lover then joined in to help 

him finish her. After a terrible struggle with the two 

murderers, the woman fell dead, gashed with twenty-four 

knife thrusts. 

Here is the account of a murder due to jealousy as given 

by the accused himself, who was blind. " Exasperated at 

roy wife's ill conduct, I made up my mind to kill her ; I 

bought a knife, after feeling it well to make sure it had a 

^©od point. In the night I grasped my wife by the neck, 

(«1^ was sleeping by my side), and planted the knife in 

*^x- throat She only gave one cry, for she was only a 

^^le wren. 1 I waited by the bedside for two hours, 2 to 

. . A Provençal expression signifying anybody as small and frail as a little 

The fact came out under examination that during these two hours the 
***"<derer sat quietly smoking cigarettes. 


make sure she was dead, and as soon as I felt she was 
cold, I came away here to give myself up." 

When an Italian workman is bitten by jealousy, he seldom 
fails to treat his rival or else the woman who has rejected 
him to menaces of death of this kind : " I will tear your 
skin off you, I will ! I will cut your throat open ! " — and 
he does cut his victim's throat according to promise. 
There are Italians who will out of sheer jealousy bleed 
women like sheep, or kill a man as readily as drink a glass 
of wine ; they have a habit of heating the blade of their 
dagger red-hot in the fire, after rubbing it with a clove of 
garlic, to give the steel a keener temper. One Barbtéri, 
•deeply enamoured of a young woman whom hé wished to 
make his wife, although she was ten years his senior and 
was engaged to another man, threatened her with death ; 
he showed a comrade a shoemaker's knife, telling him it 
was poisoned, and saying in a few days' time he would be 
the talk of the neighbourhood if the girl persisted in her 
refusal. She was the daughter of an innkeeper and obliged 
to talk to the travellers and boarders who frequented her 
father's establishment ; yet the Italian would look at her 
savagely whenever he saw her speaking to other young 
men. " Some day or another I shall kill her," he would 
say. — "Why! you're mad," a witness told him. — "You're 
quite right," he answered ; yet a few days afterwards, he 
had his knife sharpened and cut the poor girl's throat — 
Another Italian, deeply in love with his brother's wife, fired 
several shots at her with a revolver as she was putting her 
children to bed ; he wounded her and killed one of the latter. 

Murders arising out of amorous passion are frequent 
among Italians, just as are political and anarchical 
assassinations, and murders where gain is the object 
According to the Statistics published by the Ministry 
of Justice, there were in Italy in 1890, 3628 persons 
accused of wilful murder and of inflicting blows and 
injuries resulting in death; in 1891, 3944; in 1892,4408; 
in 1893, 4336. Writers tell us that the progress of 
civilization has brought about a decrease in crimes of 


violence ; I fail to verify this decrease from the Italian 

If the Italian is guilty of a greater number of murders 
from motives of jealousy than the man of other nationalities,. 
it is not to the " energy " of his character we must attribute 
this homicidal fury, but rather to the vindictiveness of his 
temperament and his excessive excitability. An Italian 
will often kill a man on the most trivial provocation ; to 
avenge an insult, a witticism, a slighting remark, he will 
strike a passer-by or a companion dead ; in different parts 
of the country, he uses knife, razor, shoemaker's knife or 
revolver. Three quarters of the murders and assassina- 
tions tried before the Assize Courts of the Departments 
of the Bouches-du-Rhône, Var, Alpes-Maritimes and 
Basses-Alpes, are committed by Piedmontese, Tuscans 
and Neapolitans. I have known Italians kill a passer-by 
who merely asked them not to sing so loud in the street, 
— kill an inn-keeper who turned them out of a drinking- 
shop, — kill an awkward dancer who trod on their foot at 
a ball, — kill a creditor who claimed payment of his debts,. 
— kill a comrade who splashed them inadvertently with 
mud, and so on. It is incredible to what a pitch the 
Italian workman will carry his excitability. Quite lately 
at Toulon a working baker — an Italian — was called a 
•stale loaf" by a fellow-workman, with whom he had a 
trifling disagreement ; two days afterwards, he shot him 
with a revolver to avenge the taunt, and declared in his 
examination that the insult he had received thoroughly 
deserved the punishment he had exacted. I could quote 
a hundred similar instances. 

This fierce, murderous vindictiveness has always been 
observed as an Italian characteristic, at all periods of 
history. Most of the great artists of the Renaissance were 
continually taunting each other and fighting it out with 
fists and sticks and knives, for some dispute of the work- 
room, some rivalry in love, sometimes for even slighter 
caiisf* Caravaggio was for killing a cook because he had 
sent him up a badly seasoned dish of artichokes. The 


Italian language has a special word to signify a violent 
man, one who is ever ready to take up the knife ; " he is 
called uonto di cotello, — " man of the knife." 

The Spaniard, like the Italian, is quick to avenge him- 
self on a rival or a woman of whom he is jealous, being 
no less touchy and proud. Here is a recent instance of 
Spanish excitability. Two workmen, shoemakers, one a 
Frenchman, the other a Spaniard, were working together; 
the Spaniard began to sing; the Frenchman criticized 
him ; the Spaniard remarked that Spaniards were as good 
singers as Frenchmen, and on his companion making an 
uncivil retort, hurled his cobbler's knife at him, which 
remained sticking in his side, so that the victim had to 
pull it out himself. At his trial, on the judge asking him 
why he had given his comrade a wound that might easily 
have killed him, the Spaniard answered : " He treated me 
with disrespect." When jealousy combines in a Spaniard 
with a character of this proud, touchy sort, there is no act 
of savage vengeance it may not lead him to commit. 

Among the savage peoples of hot countries, jealousy on 
the part of the man is so violent that women in some 
cases disfigure themselves in order to be less liable to 
rouse their husbands' jealousy, who may kill them in a 
fit of passion. — In the East, the women are kept in con- 
finement, and never go out without veils which hide the' 
face, because the men are always suspicious of their fidelity. 
The holy Legislator of the ancient Hindus "assigned to 
women love of their bed, of sitting still and of fine clothes, 
concupiscence, anger, bad inclinations, the wish to do evil 
and perversity of temper." {Laws of Manu, ix. v. 17.) 
So Manu would counsel the husband to watch his wife 
" night and day ... in order to preserve his line," and to« 
chastise her, whenever she committed any fault, " always 
on the posterior portion of the body." (Laws of Manu—* 
viii. v. 299, 300.)— The founder of the Mussulman Faitbfl 
had likewise but a low opinion of feminine virtue ; he ask^= 
•" whether we must count as God's child a being that grown- 
up absorbed in embellishment and dress." (Koran, xliSF 


17.) In Eastern lands, men despise women, and keep 
them confined to the house, where they are strictly watched 
by eunuchs. It is notorious how common are dramas of 
jealousy in the harems. Such a drama forms the subject 
of Racine's Tragedy of Bajazet. 

In Switzerland, on the contrary, murders proceeding from 
jealousy are, like other crimes of amorous passion, of very 
rare occurrence. Two years ago, when visiting the Gaol 
of Lausanne, in which are confined the prisoners of the 
whole of Canton Vaud, undergoing sentences of more than 
a hundred days' detention, I found, out of 208 men and 20 
women, only a single prisoner who had committed (fifteen 
years before) a crime of passion ; this was a husband who 
had killed his wife from jealousy. The Director of the 
Prison told me that not a single case of feminine vengeance 
had been known in the whole of Canton Vaud for a 
number of years. — But every rule has its exception, and we 
may occasionally find among Northern peoples tempera- 
ments as passionate as any of the South. Christina of 
Sweden, daughter of Gustavus Adolphus, known as the 
"King of Snow," used to say of herself: " My impetuous 
temperament has given me no less marked an inclination for 
love than it has towards ambition." Two romantic writers 
of the most passionate natures, Jean-Jacques Rousseau and 
Mme. de Staël, belonged to Swiss families. 

Jealousy is capable of inspiring the most cruel instincts 
in a man of a hitherto good-natured and generous disposi- 
tion. An honest working-man, who had strangled his 
mistress out of jealousy, said to the Juge d'instruction in 
*^e course of some reflexions on his past : " Till now 
n °body has ever had anything to say against me, and 
to-day I am a murderer ! This is what passion has made 
°*~ me." — Othello was good-natured, loving and generous ; 
^*^^sio says of him, " He had a noble heart." Ludovico 
ac *«ds, breaking in : 

" O thou Othello, that wert once so good, 
Fall'n in the practice of a damned slave 
What shall be said of thee ? "— 


to which Othello replies : 

" Why, anything ; 
A murderer, if you will." — 

A good workman, and a man of excellent reputation» — a 
shoemaker once more, brought to trial in February 1892 
for the murder of his wife whom he had killed out of 
jealousy, thus related the circumstances : " I struck my 
wife a violent blow with my shoemaker's knife, as she 
was sitting on a chair beside the bed and beginning to 
undress. Holding her by the hair with one hand, I struck 
her in the throat, from which a perfect torrent of blood 
instantly spouted out The blow was so violent, my wife 
could not utter a single word and fell from her chair on to 
the ground, moving her arms and legs about." — The "Jug* 
(f instruction " : " The doctor noticed the fact, and so did 
we that your wife's neck had been forcibly constricted by 
means of a scarf in which you had made a slip knot" — The 
accused : " As my wife continued to move a great deal, in 
spite of the enormous quantity of blood she was losing» 
being half mad I conceived the idea of cutting short her 
sufferings by tying a cravat round her throat. After a few 
minutes I found she had ceased to stir." — It came out in 
the course of further examination that the following day 
the murderer had gone to work at the establishment of a 
master shoemaker and there used the very knife with which 
he had killed his wife. — Euripides noted long ago how love 
may drive men, hitherto good-hearted and generous, into 
crime : " Love, indomitable Love," sings the chorus in the 
Antigone . . . *' the man possessed of you is a prey to 
madness. You even pervert the hearts of just men, to 
drag them to their undoing."— To win the hand of 
Hermione, Oreste turns murderer. Jealousy will transform 
into criminals men who have been honourable and uprights 
hitherto ; it puts the fatal weapon in their hand and incite^»» 
them to vengeance. 

Jealousy leads to a large number of murders, as weU 
as of woundings and acts of violence. The total of murders- 


due to jealousy, as given in the statistics of the Ministry of 
Justice, is not complete ; it only includes cases where the 
criminal has actually been accused and brought up for trial. 
But a large number of such murderers kill themselves after 
despatching their victim ; and so prosecution being rendered 
superfluous by the death of the criminal, these murders 
followed by suicide are not included in the general 
statistics. Besides, a large number of acts of violence 
inspired by jealousy, without involving death, cause 
broken health, serious mutilation, blindness, or the loss 
of a limb, sometimes a shock to the brain resulting in 
insanity. But all such cases do not come before the 
Criminal Courts ; a large proportion are dealt with by 
the Correctional Police. 

Murders determined by jealousy are sometimes pre- 
meditated, sometimes the outbreak of a sudden fit of 
the passion. A jealous husband who had strangled his 
mistress told the Juge d'instruction that on going to 
bed with her in the evening to pass a last night by her 
side, he had hidden on a chair the rope he intended to 
use next morning ; this he had taken care to rub with 
soap to make it more slippery. The mistress noticed 
the rope intended for her, but she paid no heed, thinking 
her lover had bought it to hang himself with. The man 
had in this case long premeditated his crime. Three days 
before, in the course of a dispute he had with his mistress, 
He took her by the throat, saying : " One day when I hold 
you this way, you won't talk quite so much." The quarrel 
ended, he was observed to be plunged in a deep reverie, 
«nd on being asked what he was thinking about, he 
replied : " I am thinking of her ; I have given her three 
<fays more to live." And three days afterwards he 
strangled her. 

On the other hand murders of this kind are often enough 
°J*ite unpremeditated ; the thing comes so suddenly the 
°^^n is astounded at his own crime, cannot understand 
^>v he came to do it, and even finds difficulty in recalling 
***^ exact circumstances. Perhaps a husband, catching his 



wife flagrante delicto^ strikes and kills her in a sudden access 
of blinding rage. Perhaps a* lawful wife, confronted un- 
expectedly with her husband's mistress, cannot contain 
herself, and springs upon her hated rival. Or perhaps it 
is a husband, who, meeting his wife's lover in the street, 
and surprising some signs of mutual understanding between 
the guilty pair, on noticing a gleam of love and pleasure 
on his wife's face, leaps furiously at the lover and strikes 
him down. In other cases, a husband, on receiving from 
his wife's lips a cynical avowal of the wrong she has done 
him, loses his head and kills her on the spot. 

The satisfaction of every passion affords pleasure just 
at first, however certain to cause regret subsequently. A 
jealous man, like a forsaken woman, finds in .the vengeance 
exacted a genuine feeling of content, that makes the most 
severe pain a matter of indifference. A husband, who had 
killed his wife's lover, on being confronted with the corpse 
looked at it with an air of satisfied anger and said, turning 
to the magistrate : " / care nothing for the scaffold." — • 
Another man, who had killed his mistress in a fit of jealous 
fury, exclaimed in his delight at being avenged : " What 
care I about going to Cayenne for twenty years ; I was 
determined to kill her." — A mother, whose daughter had 
been killed by a young man who had wished to marry her, 
indignant at the indifference displayed by the murderer in 
presence of his victim's dead body, asked him fiercely: 
" Are you satisfied now, you monster ? " — " Yes ! " returned 
the murderer, " I am satisfied ; 'tis you who are to blame 
for your daughter's death, because you would not let her 
marry me." — This indifference to pain and suffering is 
sometimes kept up by murderers from love till the hour 
of their trial, at which they refuse the indulgence offered 
them by the Court, and ask for death, that they may 
be buried beside their victims. But in such cases this- 
indifference to pain springs from love and remorse, which, 
have succeeded to the outburst of rage and jealousy. 

Some writers on Criminology have supposed this in — 
difference to pain and the satisfaction the victim of jealousy 


-experiences, to be proofs of an abnormal moral state. No 
doubt the satisfaction of revenge resembles the feeling of 
relief a neuropathic patient is conscious of on the accom- 
plishment of an act, the idea of which has long possessed 
his thoughts; it is a relaxation of his whole being, an 
indefinable sensation of relief. But this satisfaction ex- 
perienced by a man in the accomplishment of his revenge 
does not constitute a moral anomaly; it is so keen a 
gratification, it has been called the pleasure of the Gods. 
Revenge is so natural a passion that Classical Mythology 
attributed to the Gods the most atrocious acts of this kind. 
If the Gods were so vindictive, what wonder if men are the 
same under the empire of jealousy. Anger strains the 
nerves and inspires a craving for revenge, that causes 
positive pain so long as it remains unsatisfied. This pain 
ceases on the accomplishment of the act of vengeance, it 
brings about a discharge of the electricity the nerves were 
charged with ; and this relaxation of the nerves constitutes 
a real relief. Moreover, if we observe during their confine- 
ment criminals of jealousy who have found satisfaction in 
revenge, we note sudden reversals of behaviour, changes 
of ideas and sentiments, which show them to be constituted 
like other people ; the majority display remorse for their 
crime. How many husbands who after killing their wives 
declared themselves happy in knowing themselves avenged, 
l>reak out of a sudden into sobs and manifest the most 
lively repentance ! 

The mistake committed by Drs. Despine and Lombroso 

-and the Criminologists of their school, is that of paying 

exclusive attention to the language held by persons accused 

-of crimes of violence at the moment of their commission ; 

they omit to observe criminals after their crime, under 

examination, at a time when their attitude and sentiments 

Aave widely changed. The very same persons who at the 

foment of committing their crime or soon afterwards, 

Cynically declared they felt no sort of regret, that they 

^ere glad to have satisfied their vengeance and were in- 

«lifferent to pain, express very different sentiments under 


examination. Then we hear them say: "I now deeply 
regret what I have done ; at the present moment I realize 
the fact that I have done wrong and am sorry for it, though 
at the time I was mastered by my anger." — When the 
neighbours came running up at the cries of a woman who 
was strangled by her jealous lover, the latter said to them, 
pointing to the spot where he had thrown his victim : " She 
is yonder ! She is dead, and I killed her ; I am glad, and 
now I can die." If they had stopped there, without study- 
ing the murderer's character during the days following the 
crime, he might undoubtedly have been adjudged differently 
constituted from other men and the victim of moral 
anomaly. But, a few days later, the same criminal told 
the Juge d'instruction : " I am now sorry for what I did ; 
if the crime were to do again, I should not do it." — Moral 
madmen exist, I am well aware ; but then they are either 
insane or degenerate. Doubtless among those guilty of 
crime, there are degenerates suffering from moral madness,, 
but all criminals are not degenerates. 



" Happy, peaceful marriages ! Happy the woman, whose bed is 
chaste."— Euripides. 

ADULTERY, which forms the mainspring of literary dramas, 
is not less fertile in judicial dramas ; it is responsible for 
countless crimes and suicides. Never a session of the 
Court of Assize or a sitting of the Tribunal of Correc- 
tional Police at Paris occurs, at which one or more cases 
of adultery do not come up for judgment, and one or 
more murders resulting from them, — whether murder of 
the adulterous woman or her companion in guilt by the 
husband or that of the husband by the adulterous woman 
or her accomplice. A man, and still more a woman, who 
thought themselves to be merely indulging in an act of 
folly in committing an adultery, often find themselves 
led on to deeds of criminality, which they did not for 
*sui instant foresee at the beginning, and the world, that 
loves to make merry over conjugal mishaps, soon ceases 
"to laugh, when it learns they have ended in an act of 
marital vengeance or a murder of passion. — A wife's 
adultery is not merely for the husband the heaviest 
possible blow to his honour, the shattering of all his 
dreams of love and happiness, the origin of painful 
suspicion as to the paternity of his children, the beginning 
of a scandal or else the resigning himself to a painful 
cohabitation with a woman he can no longer trust, it is 
often also the declaration of open war between the two 
*nd between the husband and the lover, the breaking out 
°f a struggle at the domestic hearth, before the eyes of 


:hildren, relatives and servants, fought out with pistol 
shots and knife thrusts, followed by a cause célèbre and an 
appearance before the Assize Court. 

According to Plutarch, adultery was unknown in Anti- 
quity among certain peoples. Among the inhabitants 
of the Island of Chios " in the space of 750 years, there 
is no record of any married woman having ever committed 
adultery or of any unmarried girl having been deflowered." 
— According to Tacitus, instances of adultery were very 
rare among the Germans ; their women lived " enveloped in 
chastity. No one among this people makes light of vice; 
to be corrupt or to corrupt others is not styled the way of 
the world ... a woman is allowed once and once only to 
form the hope and vow of being a bride, ... in the being 
to whom she unites her lot, it is not so much, as it were, 
the husband she loves, as marriage itself." 

On the other hand among the nations of the East 
adultery was very frequent, and the legislator had so 
little confidence in women's virtue as to account her guilty 
of adultery on the slightest indications. According to 
the Laws of Manu (viii. v. 256) proof of adultery followed J 

from the undermentioned facts, " being attentive in little ^ 

things to a woman, sending her flowers and perfumes, ^.^ 
toying with her, touching her ornaments or dress." 

In modern days adultery and the crimes arising out ^3* wit 
of it are growing more and more common. In France ~^*zzx 
especially, the number of adulteries has more than doubled ^^^f 
in the last ten years, in fact it has almost trebled ; 711 vcw^m- Mn 
1883, it grew to 1657 in l8 9i, l 7% 1 tn 1892, 1813 in 1893^=^ j t 
1973 in 1894, and 1964 in 1895. l The advance is un-^r^?- 
interrupted. Between 1826 and 1830, the average cra>/" 
adulteries was 53 a year. The law re-establishing divorc=re 
has had the effect of multiplying the number of adultf ri« , j 

We are bound moreover to remark the fact that tKae 
total of adulteries brought before the Courts is insignifica-iïfc 
as compared with the number of those committed. Th^= 

1 Report of the " Garde des Sceaux, "Journal Official of 9th Nov. 1897. 


great majority of these offences remain unknown to the 
husbands ; and even where they are aware of them, 
the most part refraining from laying any complaint, — in 
this following the advice given by Bishop Carnus, the 
friend of Saint Francis de Sales, to an unfortunate husband 
who consulted him : " Believe me, my friend, it is better 
to be called Cornelius Tacitus than Publius Cornelius." 

The causes leading to adultery on the part of the woman 
are very numerous and very complex. The chief are: 
disproportion in age, a marriage reluctantly entered upon, 
an education not suitable to the surroundings in which 
the wife is called upon to live, ennui, curiosity, vanity, 
exaggerated love of luxury and dress, romantic senti- 
mentalism, lengthened absence of the husband, tempera- 
ment, awkwardness and roughness of the husband at the 
commencement of married life, excessive novel reading 
and indulgence in sentimental music, bad advice and evil 
example of women already corrupted, etc., etc. 

§ I. — Disproportion in age. 

The man who, being already of mature age, marries a 

young girl, wilfully runs a great risk of playing the part 

of an unhappy husband. Molière and C. Delairgne have 

both depicted the sorrows of an old man wedded to a 

young girl ; the Annales judiciaires frequently become the 

repository of the fact that such a husband is likely very 

soon to regret his infatuation. In the course of judicial 

proceedings, adulterous wives sometimes declare in the 

most outspoken and cynical terms the reason of their ill 

behaviour; a woman, who ended by poisoning her husband, 

was in the habit of answering his remonstrances thus : " I 

am young, you are old, I have no child, so I take my fling." 

I have myself been acquainted with the case of a wife 

Who poisoned her husband, now getting old and incapable 

of properly satisfying her, that she might marry a younger 


Women married to old men take young men as lovers ; 


these they choose among their daily companions, among 
kinsmen, neighbours, among their husbands' employés» 
sometimes even among their servants; and it is not on* 
common to find them inciting their lover to rid them of 
their old husband. I read in the account of a criminal trial 
how a woman in bed with her lover urged him in the 
following terms to kill her husband, a very old man : " If 
you were a man, you would get up this instant, go into the 
country where my husband is at present and finish him. 
... I shall never be happy till I am rid of him." The 
lover went where he was told, and the woman was soon 
rid of her old husband. 

In another case, a wife accused of murdering her 
husband, pleaded as the determining motive of her crime 
the disproportion in age existing between her husband and 
herself: "My husband," she said, "was twenty-five years 
older than I ; we had had no proper connexion with one 
another for years." — Women who declare themselves 
misunderstood, who find their duties repugnant to them 
and declaim against Law, Society and Marriage in the 
name of so-called philosophical principles, have as a rule 
only grievances of a quite commonplace physiological 
nature to reproach their husband with, — grievances arising 
from a too marked difference in age. 

Still disproportion in age does not invariably prevent 
the birth of love and even of very ardent love. I have 
myself had occasion to observe in a young woman of nine- 
teen brought up for trial an ardent passion for a lover of 
sixty. Some few years ago in the neighbourhood of Aix 
a Captain of Artillery on half pay, seventy-six years of 
age, and his young wife of twenty-six, determined to die 
together, utilizing the fumes of burning charcoal for the 
purpose, — the husband to escape intolerable physical pain, 
the young wife so as not to survive her husband whom she 
adored. In a will she had made, the wife begged her 
brother to have a little tomb built, "where I long," she 
wrote, "to lie beside my dear husband." The pair were 
found still breathing, but a few days later the husband 


died. Frantic with grief, the young widow went to the 
tomb of her septuagenarian husband and there shot herself 
with a revolver ; she was found dead, her right temple 
pierced by a ball, her face pressed to the ground and 
holding in her hand a revolver with five chambers still 
loaded. This instance alone is sufficient to show the 
critics are wrong, when they reproach the famous novelist, 
M. Zola, with describing an impossibility, the love of a 
young girl for an old man. Other similar examples I 
could quote, prove that M. Jules Lemaître and F. Sarcey 
are justified in thinking the dramatic author and the 
novelist may without exceeding the bounds of probability 
put back considerably the limit of age within which a man 
can love. In the École des Maris, Ariste who is no longer 
young makes Léonore love him and marry him, paying no 
heed to the jests about " an old man's love," of which she is 
made the subject. Sometimes also young men are found 
stirred by a wild infatuation for quite old women. It is not 
long since a married man of thirty-two committed suicide 
along with a woman twenty-five years his senior. 

But such cases of mutual love between individuals of 
disproportionate age are after all exceptional. The love 
of a young girl for a man of mature years is very rare and 
never lasting. We cannot conceive a septuagenarian, sexa- 
genarian, or even quinquagenarian Romeo. 1 A young girl 
who marries an old man may sometimes be moved by 
the words of love she hears for the first time and mistake 
for love what is really only the wish to get married. A 

1 Corneille who could not guard himself against love at a mature age, was 
ashamed of the fact, when at fifty he became enamoured of Mile. Duparc ; in 
Pmlckérie^ he makes the Senator Martien say : 

" L'amour dans mes pareils n'est jamais excusable ; 
Pour peu qu'on s'examine, on s'en tient méprisable, 
Ou s'en hait et ce mal qu'on n'ose découvrir, 
Fait encor plus de peine à cacher qu'à souffrir." 

(Act ii. Se. 1.) 

" Love in men of my age is never excusable. The slightest self-examination 
aad yon feel yourself contemptible ; you hate yourself, and the blow you dare 
jsoC reveal, fives even more pain to hide than to endure." 


girl of fifteen, who had been induced by a widower of 
forty-one to fly with him, told the Juge d'instruction that 
the fond words and promises of marriage the man had 
addressed to her had made a most profound impression on 
her mind. " The idea of marriage," she said, " never left me 
now, and under the sway of this overmastering thought, I 
ceased to be either industrious in my work or respectful 
towards my parents." 

More often than not these disproportionate marriages 
end badly. History is full of instances of marriages made 
unhappy by too great a discrepancy of age between the 
contracting parties. Sophie Monnier, 1 who became Mira- 
beau's mistress, was sixteen when she married the Marquis 
de Monnier, a widower and sixty. When the Duc de 
Longueville married Mlle, de Bourbon, " he was old (forty- 
seven), she was very young and as lovely as an angel," as 
Mademoiselle put it ; the unhappy issue of the match is 
familiar to all. 

I never understand why we give the name of " marriages 
of reason " to these unions (really so unreasonable) between 
two persons of disproportionate age. Reason condemns 
such marriages. A truly reasonable marriage is a love 
match between a pair whose ages are concordant. In 
Roman Law, according to the Lex Papia, great discrepancy 
of years was a sufficient obstacle to marriage. 3 

If husbands too far advanced in life are, as a rule, 
predestined to conjugal mishaps, those of too youthful an 
age are also sometimes failures. In the first case, adult er y 
on the wife's part is to be feared ; in the second, it is 

husband's conduct that gives cause for anxiety. The 
Marquis d'Entrecasteaux, President of the Parliament o»l 
Provence, who cut his wife's throat on the night of the 30tlr: 

1 After her liaison with Mirabeau, she was on the point of contracting 
marriage with a gentleman of family who was deeply in love with her ; 
having taken him from her, she committed suicide. 

- Traité du Mariage, by Astruc, Professor of French Law at the University 
Toulouse, p. 131. — According to the old Genevese laws, a man who exceeded 
sixty could not " take maid or woman in marriage less than half as old as bun- 
self." A man of sixty therefore could not marry a woman of less than thirty. 


31st May 1784, so as to be able to live freely with his mis- 
tress, has left a record written by himself of the imprudence 
his parents were guilty of in marrying him so young. 
" My parents," he wrote from his prison, " married me very 
young, for I was wedded at eighteen. . . . This, accord- 
ing to what they said, was to protect me against the 
passions of youth ; but they failed to consider that these 
passions being as yet undeveloped, what they did was to 
imprison them up within me in bonds they put upon me, 
rather than to guard me against their assaults. The more 
closely they were confined, the more violent was their 
explosion, and the more terrible their effects." — In these 
too early unions the husband is liable to weary very 
quickly of his wife, to neglect her or to leave her at home 
to seek more adventurous pleasures abroad ; sometimes 
even, finding her interfere with his freedom, he endeavours 
to get rid of her by criminal means. One young husband 
accused of a crime of this sort, had driven his wife from 
home at first and afterwards murdered her, declaring when 
he dismissed her : " I married too young, I want to have 
some fun now ; later on I intend to take my wife back." 
— Too youthful a husband cannot rule his house or 
govern his wife, he is feather-brained, reckless and jealous. 
Here is an instance taken from the records of the Law 
Courts. A young workman of nineteen married a girl of 
his own age ; before long he quite wore out his wife with 
his fits of jealousy and brutality. At last the girl losing 
all patience returned to her mother's house and petitioned 
for a divorce. Then the husband, broken-hearted at her 
leaving him, and exasperated by her action, besought his 
wife to come back to him ; on her refusing, he bought a 
pistol, waited his opportunity, and stretched her dead by 
a shot from a revolver, after which he turned the same 
weapon against himself. 

§ 2. — Forced Marriage. 

When a girl cannot marry the young man she loves or 
fancies she loves, but is forced by her parents to marry 


someone else, this marriage seldom turns out happy. The 
young woman always regrets the man she would fain have 
married, and often gives herself to him, when circumstances 
bring them together. In Polyeucte, Pauline who has been 
unable to wed Sévère, the man she loves, and has been 
obliged by her father to take Polyeucte as a husband, 
succeeds by virtue of sound sense and right feeling in driv- 
ing away the memory of " that perfect lover," who once filled 
her heart, and thoughts and aspirations, and to love her 
husband from a sense of duty and from admiration of his 
noble character. But Paulines are rare. Corneille'* 
heroine even hesitates to see Sévère again at her father's 
orders declaring : 

" Mon père, je suis femme et je sais mes faiblesses . . . 
Il est toujours aimable et je suis toujours femme." 1 

She trembles for her virtue, for she already feels her old 
predilection awaking afresh : 

" Dans le pouvoir sur moi que ses regards ont eu, 
Je n'ose réassurer de toute ma vertu." * 

Of less heroic mould than Pauline who has strength to 
master her desires, many a woman, married against her 
wishes by her parents, cannot bring herself to love her 
husband ; she becomes the enemy of the man they have 
made her marry, 3 and her relatives are responsible for any 
faults she may commit. 

" Et qui donne à sa fille un homme qu'elle hait 
Est responsable au ciel des fautes qu'elle fait." 4 

At the same time even a love match does not invariably 
safeguard a woman against adultery. After six months 

1 " Father, I am a woman and I know my weakness ... he is still loveable^ 
and I am still a woman." 

V In view of the dominion his looks have over me, I dare not be confident 
of all my virtue." 

s Hostis ett uxor invita qua ad virum datur. — " The wife who is given an 
unwilling bride to a man is his enemy." Plautus. 

4 " And he who gives his daughter a husband she detests, is responsible to 
heaven for the faults she commits. Molière, Tartuffe. 


of marriage, Mary Stuart was disgusted with Darnley, 
whom she had married for love. — Mme. Weiss, who tried 
to poison her husband, had married him with the utmost 
enthusiasm : " It was," she tells us, " with an exquisite joy, 
an ineffable tenderness, I learned his intention to marry 
me ; I spent the night on my knees in an outpouring of 
gratitude to God." Her family setting their faces against 
the marriage, she followed the man she loved to Algeria, 
and was married to him eighteen months later ; after 
giving him two children, she gave him a dose of poison. 
Women of fickle disposition and high-strung imagination, 
readily forget their first love, and answer, when their 
husband reminds them of former days : " You want me 
to love you still ? What would you have ? I cannot do 
it, I don't love you any more." A husband's calm and 
monotonous affection is not enough for them, they crave 
a new love, something ardent and passionate. — A doctor, 
who had seduced a young girl and then married her out 
of love, was abandoned by her, after she had made him 
the father of eight children. " I loved the woman fondly/* 
he declared, "she possessed every means of charming, 
beauty, amiability, wit, artistic susceptibility ; her voice 
was adorable, her intelligence of a high order. I was 
dazzled and subjugated the first time I saw her." 

A woman who previously to marriage deceived her 

i^latives is very likely later on to deceive her husband. 

Rosine, who allows herself to be seduced by Lindor, once 

raade Comtesse d'Almaviva, listens to Chérubin's suit and 

becomes a "guilty mother." A man, who had abducted 

**is wife from her parents' house and had cause subsequently 

*° regret it, said during his trial to the examining magis- 

tr ^te : " What are you to expect from a girl who ran away 

fr Om her family?" — The advice of Desdemona's father to 

^fchello was similarly conceived : " Watch her well, Moor, 

^^cp an open eye on her outgoings ; she hath deceived 

**^t father, and may well do the like to thee." The ex- 

^^Tience of the Courts of Law confirms the observation 

***" the great English psychologist ; among adulterous 


wives, who do not stick at crime to rid them of their 
husbands, we find women who have married for love 
and deceived their parents and relatives to run away 
with the object of their choice. 

§ 3. — Education disproportionate to the Social Condition 
and Education of the Husband 

Not only ought the ages of married people to be well 
suited, but their tastes, sentiments and education must 
be well matched also. A wife whose education is superior 
to that of her husband, feels an inevitable repugnance to 
the tie which binds her to a man who is her inferior ; the 
love her husband shows her does not touch, it only annoys, 
her. Vanity plays an important part in every woman's 
love; to love her husband, she must be proud of him, 
find satisfaction for her vanity in his wit, his talents, his 
social position. The most solid qualities of heart and 
character are not enough to ensure a husband's being 
loved ; if he wounds his wife's self-esteem by want of 
personal distinction or vulgarity of manner, if his wife 
finds him common, coarse, unworthy of her, she is not 
far from being unfaithful to him, and indifference and 
contempt lead by a rapid transition to downright dislike. 
It is extremely difficult for a woman to love a husband 
whose manners and conversation make her blush. It is 
not long ago that the Assize Court of the Department 
of Corrèze had occasion to condemn a woman who had 
put the muzzle of a revolver to her husband's ear during 
his sleep, and pressing the trigger with a firm hand had 
lodged a bullet in his head. The motive for her act was 
simply a deep dislike she had conceived against him. He 
was a good and worthy man, but she despised him, and 
had deceived him, being his superior in intelligence, educa- 
tion and family standing. 

Mere external qualities are often better appreciated than 
moral ones by women of small intelligence. To a husband 
possessed of a good heart and a sound brain, they will prefer 


a silly, chattering drawing-room fop, the sort of insipid, 
sugary creature who gives much thought to his clothes and 
i* great at small talk. If they receive attentions from a 
man of distinction, holding a brilliant position or possessed 
of the aristocratic affix, they will fall straight into his arms 
from sheer silly vanity, — like Mme. Bovary in Flaubert's 
novel, who, married to a village doctor, is flattered at the 
idea of being M. Rodolphe de la Huchette's mistress. The 
aristocratic "de" and titles of nobility simply fascinate 
them. A provincial beauty of middle-class origin and a 
vain disposition, living in a country village, has a poor 
chance against the assaults of a gentleman from Paris, who 
seems to her everything that is distingué. This distinction 
often consists in a woman's eyes simply and solely in the 
good cut of a man's clothes. In a trial for murder, where 
a husband had killed his wife's lover, I heard the woman 
with my own ears admit she had been seduced in the first 
instance by a common bully's fine clothes. 

§ 4. — Romantic sentimentality. 

Women who expect too much from marriage, who 
imagine in the exaltation of their fancy it is going to 
bring them infinite happiness, heavenly bliss, experience 
inevitable disillusionments that are liable to lead to no 
little mischief. Dreamers of impossible dreams, they are 
astonished to find their husband does not possess all the 
perfections they fondly imagined ; expecting a bliss the 
mere thought of which draws soft tears from their eyes, 
they are shocked that marriage does not ensure unlimited 
happiness, and conceive a grudge against husband and 
marriage generally for their disappointment. They feel 
wretched with a husband they think too grave and cold ; 
failing to understand their companion, they consider them- 
selves "misunderstood" by him, and look out for some 
"hero of romance" to appreciate them and bring them the 
happiness so fondly desired. These dreams of infinite love 
and perfect happiness, so irreconcilable with the stern 


realities of life, are suggested by the reading of too many 
novels or a mystical sentimentalism that overstimulates the 
fancy. From mystical reverie to amorous exaltation is 
but a step. In fact the two states may be said to lie so 
near each other as to be practically indistinguishable; 
romantic souls make love into a religion, while mystics 
turn religion into amorous ecstasy. One and the same 
phraseology serves to express love and sensuous mysticism. 
Mme. de Staël, relating the double suicide of a German 
lady and her lover, an officer and a poet, which occurred in 
1811 at an inn at Potsdam, tells us how the two lovers, in 
the letters and documents they left behind, compared their 
reciprocal murder to the Sacrament, and had left a Service 
Book of the Lord's Supper open beside them. The woman» 
who had forsaken her little girl to join her lover, had 
written saying she would watch over her from on high. 
I have had occasion in several different legal cases to note 
the fact that women guilty of crimes of passion had in 
their earlier years undergone crises of mysticism. The 
same observation had already been made by Flaubert in 
Madame Bovary ; he declares the adulterous heroine had 
when a girl based her religious feelings on a high-strung 
mysticism, small acts of pious devotion, and the pleasure 
of attending imposing ecclesiastical ceremonies and hearing 
beautiful church music. 

§ 5. — Platonic Love. 

Religious feeling is a safeguard against adultery, buf" 
always on condition it is genuine and does not degenerate 
into sensuous mysticism ; for sentiment leads a woman to 
Platonic love, and Platonic love to another and less 
ethereal sort. No matter what illusions it may flatter 
itself with, love craves possession, and possession of the 
heart alone is not sufficient. It cannot remain for ever 
intellectual, and anyone who yields to it, thinking to 
continue master of his senses, may aspire to be an angel, 
but is on the way to becoming a devil instead. His heart 


may be full of high and noble aspirations, but he soon and 
inevitably drops into very prosaic realities. 

Romantic women are very apt to be seduced by the 
illusion of Platonic love. Lord Byron, relating the 
Platonic love of Julia for Don Juan, — a quaint tale that 
ended in a very commonplace way, — exclaims very wisely : 
" Oh ! Plato, your accursed fancies, your system, assigning 
an imaginary virtue to the undisciplined heart of man, 
have paved the way to more immorality than all the long 
list of Poets and Romance writers." How many women 
have been caught in the snare of protestations of Platonic 
love, such as one I find among the documents in connec- 
tion with a criminal case, addressed by a young man to a 
married woman: "I would prove I pay you a worship 
more pure and holy than ever maiden rendered to her 
Madonna. . . . Does not such humility then deserve one 
kiss as its reward ? — a sister's kiss, if you will, a kiss on 
the brow." We know pretty well what comes of this sort 
of kisses. 

Again romantic women are often seduced by the 
melancholy of dark heroes of melodrama who recount 
their sorrows to win consolation at fair hands. When 
Wieir sadness is genuine, they exaggerate it, well knowing 
its power over the sex, and that pity leads to love. This, 
for instance, is what the student Chambige did with Mme. 

^3C , a romantic spirit, who found life sad and repulsive, 

though she had the happiness to possess fine children, and 

^*ho marvelled at the resignation the friends of her own 

sex displayed in face of the dreary conditions of life. He 

told her a long story about his mental griefs, a story that 

touched the young woman's heart, and soon led her from 

pity to a tenderer emotion. To stifle her scruples of 

conscience, she told him she would be no more than a 

sister to him, but before long, after a fainting fit he had, 

she declared her love for him in less fraternal terms, 

telling him she loved him because he had felt and loved 

deeply. Indeed two hearts that have suffered much feel 

themselves naturally drawn to one another. Here is a 


letter I found among the papers of a woman who com- 
mitted suicide in consequence of a love tragedy: "He 
suffered, and I suffered, atrociously ; behold the mystery 
that brought us together ! " — A man who was brought to 
trial for having fired off a revolver at his former mistress 
out of jealousy, told the Juge d'instruction it was the 
woman's sad, woe-begone look that had first attracted him. 
Pity for undeserved misfortunes is often the prelude to 
love. Confident in the propriety of so generous a feeling 
the woman thinks she may yield to it without remorse, 
but little by little the sentiment grows more tender and 
grows into passionate love. Virgil and Shakespeare, those 
two excellent observers of the human heart, have depicted 
this transition from pity to love in the hearts of Dido and 
of Desdemona. The account yEneas gives the Queen of 
his battles and disasters makes a profound impression on 
her. She owns as much to her sister : 

u Quelle intrépidité ! Quels revers ! Quels combats 
Ont éprouvé son cœur, ont signalé ses bras ! . . . 
Mon âme en l'écoutant se sentait alarmée. . . ." * 

In the same way, it is while listening to the adventures, 
combats and hardships of Othello, that Desdemona is 
first stirred to pity, and then to love. " I told her all my 
story," says Othello . . . 

" Wherein I spake of most disastrous chances, 
Of moving accidents by flood and field, 
Of hair-breadth 'scapes i* the imminent deadly breach, 

And often did beguile her of her tears 
When I did speak of some distressful stroke 
That my youth suffer' & . . . 
She loved me for the dangers I had pass'd, 
And I loved her that she did pity them." 

{Othello, Act i. Sc. >) 

1 " What gallantry ! What calamities ! What encounters have tried his 
heart, and signalized his arms I ... My heart, as I listened to his tale, felt 
itself alarmed. ..." 


§ 6. — Ennui. 

Ennui constitutes a grave danger. The woman who is 
its victim is tempted to seek some stirring emotion, some 
adventure, by way of distraction, to find amusement in 
unlawful love. Virtuous hitherto, she begins to regret 
stme has always been so. Licensed affection seems insipid, 
guilty love poetical, 1 while weariness of the austere 
pleasures of family life, curiosity, the wish to extend her 
knowledge, libido sentiendi (Pascal), the hope of a happi- 
ness greater than any she has experienced heretofore, 
a^wake in her a craving for unknown and untried pleasures. 
Slme feels herself tempted to give ear to those who, seeing 
hi^r sad, are eager to offer consolation ; at first she listens 
o^»t of mere coquetry, from the want of anything better 
to do, to cheat the ennui that is eating her heart out, 
Presently she is caught in the trap and one fine day finds 
**^rself assailed by the same passion she has inspired. 
Solitude, good for people who love the country, is bad 
" c>r those who are only bored there. Few women really 

° v e the country, while many are in the latter case. A 
^°Qian wrote in a letter addressed to the Juge dinstruc- 

***** : " Idleness and the ennui I feel in the country, 
^*<ied to the bad advice of one of my female friends, 
er « my undoing." It is ennui, and nothing else, that 
'Ows the Queen into the arms of Ruy-Blas. 

§ 7. — Temperament. 

A, romantic woman, who seems dominated by the 

^^ging to find a twin soul, is ready enough to put 

^°Wn to an impulse of the heart what is really only 

*** impulse of the senses. When she yields to the 

**Scination youth exercises over a woman of mature age, 

An American lady caught in the act of stealing in one of the big Parisian 
****P», at the very moment she had 70,000 francs in her pocket, when 
^atkmed as to the motive for such apparently unaccountable behaviour, (for 
** was perfectly well able to have bought the articles she stole), made the 

*°*^wing reply: "There is such an exquisite pleasure in stealing," — the 

P^tore, in fact, of forbidden fruit. 


she dissimulates her love under the cloak of fraternal or 
maternal sentiment ; she lavishes on the youth she is 
enamoured of, a store of advice and counsel, directs hisw 
conduct, calls him her dear boy, and likes him to address- 
her as his little mother. 1 

This love of a woman of ripe age for a man younger 
than herself has been often represented on the stage ; we 
find it in Henriette Maréchal by the brothers Goncourt, in 
La Crise by Octave Fruillet, in Les Effrontés by Emile 
Augier. It is seen again in the case of some famous 
women — for instance in that of the Duchesse d'Albany, 
who was fifty-one at the date of Alfieri's death, whom she 
replaced by the painter Fabre, a much younger man than 
herself, — in Diane de Poitiers, who after being the mistress 
of François I., held the position with his son, — in Queen 
Caroline of England, who was proved to have committed 
adultery with the courier Bayami, and in many other 
instances. Magistrates often meet in the course of their 
duties in connection with civil or criminal trials with cases 
of adultery on the part of the farmer's wife with a young 
farm labourer, of the shop-keeper's with one of ha — 
husband's employés, of the notary or barrister's wife with at» 
clerk, of the superior officer's wife with a young subaltern, 
of the Procureur or Judge's wife with her husband's Substi- 
tute, and so on. I once had occasion to prosecute a young 
labourer who from motives of jealousy had burnt his 
mistress's crops, a rich widow whose lover he was. He 
might have applied to himself a bad verse of Racine's on 

Pyrrhus : 

" Brûlé de plus de feux que je n'en allumai." * 

It is a physiological craving far more than any impulse 
of tenderness that as a rule urges a woman to adultery 

1 Such was the case with George Sand, who was thirty at the beginning of 
her liaison with Alfred de Musset, then twenty-three, as also of Mme. de 
Warens with Rousseau. G. Sand used to style Alfred de Musset her son, 
while he spoke of himself as her darling boy. This combination of matera*] 
sentiment and sensual love is a sort of incest, and G. Sand touched the truth 
when she wrote to de Musset : " You are right, our kisses were incestuous.*' 

a " Myself consumed with more fires than I kindled." 


^ith an inferior, an employé of her husband's or a domestic 
servant. Empresses, like Theodora and Messalina, gave 
their favours to athletes. In Roman Law there were 
special enactments against women who surrendered them- 
selves to their slaves. Old French Law punished with 
v ^ry severe penalties adultery committed by a valet with 
«*3 mistress, or with his lord's wife. Muyart de Vouglans 
9**otes a decree of the Parliament of Paris condemning a 
5e r-vant to be hanged for having committed this crime with 
^•^ mistress, in spite of the fact that the latter had lured 
**im on by indecently exposing herself before him. 
^Viurnel cites the case of a lady of quality, who caught in 
^iultery with a waggoner, was condemned to the gallows 
*** 1567, along with her accomplice. Another jurisconsult, 
Pruneau, mentions a magistrate's wife who was convicted 
**ff adultery with her farm tenant, and another lady of 
Quality convicted of the same offence with her husband's 

Female Don Juans are to be found as well as male. 
There are women who fly from one intrigue to another 
with the greatest ease, feeling no repugnance for difference 
of education and social position ; in pursuit of an ideal 
they never attain, under the spur of sensual inquisitiveness 
and the love of variety, they are for ever seeking new 
experiences, and disciples rather of the naturalistic than 
the idealistic, indulge in ever fresh adventures as fancy 
prompts them. Seducers are not all of the sterner sex. 

Plutarch tells us that the Romans in returning from a 
journey, used to warn their wives of their near arrival to 
avoid the risk of exposing them to an unwelcome surprise. 
I have had occasion myself to note in several criminal 
cases, that the husband who remains too long away runs 
the danger of being forgotten and betrayed. Just at first 
the wife who is left behind alone, indignantly rejects the 
solicitations addressed to her, but little by little as the 
time draws out, her resistance weakens ; and before very 
long the husband's letters are not welcomed with the same • 
delight, her replies become less frequent, less warm and 


less affectionately worded. In proportion as her heart 
grows cold towards the absent one, it warms to the sighs 
of the suitor on the spot. 

Husbands who are compelled by their calling to remain 
away from home for months at a time, are exposed to the 
risk of finding on their return their wife to be pregnant or 
the mother of a child that is none of theirs. I have just 
been looking into a case against a woman named Marie 
Bapt, who having become enceinte during her husband's 
absence, poisoned the infant she gave birth to, because her 
husband refused to rear it. " I am a great criminal," she 
declared to the Juge d'instruction in reply to his ques- 
tions, " and I deserve to be punished ; but I was driven ta 
the crime, for my husband would not keep the child he 
was not the father of." 

Other cases of adultery arise out of convenience of oppor- 
tunity, a fine audacity on the seducer's part, a sudden 
surprise of the senses : 

"Une femme d'honneur peut avouer sans honte 
Ces surprises des sens que la raison surmonte." ' 

All women however do not possess Pauline's coolness- 
in getting the better of these surprises, which indeed may 
overtake even women who love their husband ; taken 
unawares by an audacious, unforeseen assault, paralyzed by 
stress of feeling, they yield actually against their inclina- 
tion, and when their shame is consummated, cannot account 
for a weakness they bitterly regret. I have myself seen 
in an assize trial how a woman who really loved her 
husband yielded to a sudden surprise of this sort, and 
afterwards experienced such violent remorse for her sin» 
that her health gave way under the strain. Day after day 
she bewailed her fault in secret, shutting herself up in her 
room to weep the more freely. One day her husband 
discovered her in tears and asked what was the reason of 
her distress ; on this she confessed everything, ready to 

1 " An honest woman may avow without shame these surprises of the 
which reason masters." 


expiate her offence and even finding a certain solace in the 
admission of her guilt and the craving she felt to suffer 
punishment for it. So terrible a blow was this revelation 
to the husband that he fainted away on hearing it ; when 
he came to his senses again, he burst into tears, first cursing 
his wife, then presently forgiving her. After several days 
of cruel torture for both, he turned her out of the house, 
and she went back to her parents. A month later, he 
finally forgave her and took her back. Then, still a prey 
to fierce anger against his wife's betrayer, he started out 
to kill him. — In another murder trial where the husband 
had killed his wife's lover, the woman confessed she had 
given herself repeatedly to a friend of her husband's, though 
she loved the latter all the while, and was quite unable to 
account for her weakness. This is the cruel enigma M. 
Bourget has analyzed in a novel bearing that title, and in 
the criminal case I have mentioned the riddle was even 
more cruel than in the work of fiction, for it involved a 
woman hitherto of unblemished virtue, while the book 
deals with one who is the mistress of several lovers. A 
strange riddle indeed, — the conduct of a woman who loves 
her husband, feels remorse for her offence, and yet repeats 
it ! A woman may feel remorse, have right feelings towards 
her husband, and yet yield to the promptings of the senses; 
she is sorry for her fault because of its consequences and 
the grief it causes her husband, yet she does the same 
again. So in Homer, Helen is wasted with weeping, but 
all the time she never dreams of leaving her lover and 
going back to Menelaus. 

When a husband is incapable of satisfying the passions 
of a Messalina, he runs not merely the danger of being 
replaced, but of being put out of the way into the bargain. 
Some years since the Assize Court of the Bouches-du- 
Khdne tried the case of a woman of thirty-seven, a veritable 
Messalina, who had debauched all the men of the hamlet 
where she lived, married men and bachelors alike. 1 She 

1 The passion of a dissolute woman is "a madness never reached at their 
coupling time by savage creatures and brute beasts." Aeschylus. 



'as married to a man of advanced age, who finding 
limself powerless to curb her ill-behaviour, had made up 
iiis mind to put up with it ; yet she had conceived a 
violent grudge against him in spite of the fact that he did 
not interfere with her pleasures in any way. After two 
unsuccessful attempts to poison him, she had him murdered 
by one of her lovers at a country farm where he had gone 1 fi 

to spend some days with his brother, to get in the olive 1* 

harvest. Handing her lover a kitchen knife and a gun, li 

she despatched him to the farm in question at dusk, giving |i 

him a detailed plan as to how the crime was to be done ; 
" Now is the favourable moment," she said, " there is 
no moon ; you can start without anybody seeing you* 
When you reach your destination, you must knock at the 
door under some pretence or other, and my husband 
or my brother-in-law will open it; you must lie down Jn- 

a short while beside them, and as soon as they are asleep 
again, you must strike ; then you will set fire to the house, M*^* 

and so an end." The lover started, and carried out the 
double assassination in exact accordance with his mistress's 
instructions. The latter awaited his return all night with 
feverish impatience; at five o'clock in the morning, she 
went to his house and learned to her satisfaction that " all 
was finished," that her husband and brother-in-law had 
been murdered and consumed in the burning house. 
Nothing was found among the still smoking ruins of the 
farm except the calcined remains of the two corpses. 
When these bones were collected and placed on a cart to l^^i 

be carried to the cemetery, the woman, wishing to seize 
this opportunity for bringing home some of the farm 
produce, had two bags of olives loaded on the waggon, 
side by side with the chest containing the mortal remains 
of her husband and brother-in-law, mounting her thirteen- 
year-old boy on the equipage to drive. Under examina- 
tion the lover related how he had bled the two old men to 
death, like a shepherd cutting beasts' throats. 

The weakling husband of a depraved woman may fall 
sick, die of vexation or commit suicide as in the following 


instance : " My son," a mother says, " was married three 
months ago; it is now a fortnight since his wife went back 
to her own country ; she is the cause of my boy's suicide, 
because he could no longer satisfy her, — she was so 
passionate. As late as yesterday he told me he felt 
exceedingly ill." 

Still we must beware of generalizing from these isolated 
cases of insatiable sexual appetite in women ; the number 
of Messalinas in the world is far from being as great 
as novelists would have us believe. Sexual desire is much 
less powerful in women than in men ; the sexual passion 
is at once more violent, more aggressive and more brutal in 
the male. He it is who attacks and provokes, while his 
choice is determined more by physical than by moral 
qualities. Women on the other hand are, as a general 
rule, rather coquettish and vain than really sensual, more 
appreciative of tenderness, little attentions and acts of 
homage, loving looks and the like, than of manifestations 
of brutal passion. Her love is more psychical than 
physical, her choice governed rather by moral and 
intellectual gifts than by physical endowments. If she 
is guilty of adultery, she is more to blame than a man, 
because her sexual organization makes virtue easier to 
her than to him. 

§ 8. — Music. 

Danger lurks everywhere for a woman, — in the dissipa- 
tions of society, in idleness, pleasure, parties, injudicious 
country walks, dances, operas, duets with music teachers 
or amateurs. The Romans feared the effects of music and 
dancing on women ; Scipio jEmilianus called them dis- 
honourable arts. No doubt this antique austerity was 
excessive, but are we not nowadays fallen into the 
opposite extreme, leaving women and even young girls 
freely exposed to the intoxication of love songs and erotic 
music ? Sometimes a young woman practising music 
'with her teacher suffers what happened to Heloïse when 
Abeiard was entrusted with her education. "The books 


were open before us," says Abelard, " but we talked more 
love than philosophy, and kisses were more frequent than 
sentences, my hand wandered to her bosom more often 
than to our books." Like Uncle Fulbert, the husband 
sees nothing, and the teacher cannot sufficiently admire his 
innocent simplicity. 

§ 9. — Pride of Beauty, Love of Dress. 

The love of pretty clothes is an essentially feminine 
passion. Rivalry in dress is often the cause of keen 
jealousy between women. Corneille, whose psychological 
genius I find pleasure in drawing attention to, has not 
failed to notice this trait in the psychology of Creuse, who 
is jealous of Médée's robe : 

" Après tout cependant, riez de ma faiblesse . . . 
La robe de Médée a donné dans mes yeux ; 
Mon caprice à son lustre attachant mon envie 
Sans elle trouve à dire au bonheur de ma vie." ' 

There are women ready to find consolation for the 
mourning they must put on in the thought that it will suit 
their complexion. In several criminal cases, I have seen 
the woman, taken red-handed in adultery and having 
narrowly escaped being shot, resume almost instantly her 
extreme preoccupation with matters of dress. This love 
of finery is responsible for the ruin of a large number of 
women, who let themselves be seduced, like Marguerite in 
Faust) by the offer of jewellery. When a vain woman,. 
possessed by the longing to wear pretty frocks, has not 
the wherewithal, she seeks it in adultery. This forms the 
subject of Emile Augier's Lionnes Pauvres. The married 
woman descends to the level of the prostitute, or really 

When a vain woman is condemned to imprisonment, the 

1 " Yet after all, — laugh at my weakness, if you will . . . Medée's robe 
has dazzled my eyes ; my fancy, attaching my envy to its gloss, has other 
reasons too to find fault with the happiness of my life." 


necessity of donning the gaol uniform which makes her 
look plain is more painful to her than the shame and 
disgrace. The loss of her beauty, and above all the 
cutting off her hair, sometimes occasions a degree of 
despair that ends in suicide. 

The desire for elegance and becoming clothes, which is 
the natural appanage of every woman, is still further 
augmented by the habits of our own day. The passion of 
vanity has made the same strides among women as that of 
equality has among men. Just as every man busies him- 
self with politics, and supposes himself quite capable of 
being a Counsellor General, a Deputy, a Senator, a 
Minister of State, without ceasing to be a hatter or a 
hairdresser, a mason or a street porter, so every woman, 
small shopkeeper's wife or working man's or what not, is 
fain to be dressed with as much elegance as the great 
ladies of society. Just as we find grocers, tailors, bakers, 
fishmongers, asking for posts out of all proportion to their 
claims, so we see women without a penny contract habits 
of luxury and expensive dress. 

Beauty is another danger by attracting men's admiration» 
but poets and moralists have greatly exaggerated this risk. 
According to Propertius, " inconstancy is the attribute of 
every pretty woman." Ovid is of the same opinion : " Why 
take a beautiful wife, if you wanted a virtuous one ? Virtue 
and beauty cannot go together." — " When a wife is faithful, 
'tis a sure proof she is ugly," writes Seneca in his turn. 1 
There is a great deal of exaggeration in these maxims ; 
beauty and virtue are frequently found together, and a 
want of beauty is not the best guarantee of female virtue. 
Plain women are not less inconstant than pretty ones ; if 
they are less sought after, they are all the more sensible to 
such homage as they do receive, and their self-love is more 
easily flattered. Receiving little admiration, they are all 
the more eager for it, and devour it greedily ; bitterly 
jealous of their fairer sisters, they seek to prove in this 
way they are not so entirely their inferiors, and think they 

1 De Ben* fiais, iii. § 16. 


are besting nature, that seemed to have refused them the 
gift of pleasure by denying them beauty. Seneca con- 
tradicts himself and refutes what he has said in the De 
BeneficitSy when he declares in his De Matrimonii* that a 
plain woman will always throw herself at the head of the 
first comer. The world is apt to suppose the heroine of 
a love drama must always be a woman of remarkable 
beauty. This is quite a mistake ; very often she is of very 
ordinary good looks, often rather plain than otherwise. I 
have again and again observed this to be the case. 

§ 10. — Bad Advice, 

To the causes of depravation I have so far pointed out 
must be added bad advice on the part of women already 
corrupted, who take a malicious pleasure in communicating 
the taint to others. Just as a poor man is naturally jealous 
of a rich, and an unfortunate man of a prosperous one, so 
a ruined woman is jealous of the consideration an honest 
one enjoys, and cannot forgive her her good name. She 
longs to bring down to her own level the woman who now 
has the right to despise her, and so escape her contempt ; 
she wishes to humble her more virtuous sister, who crushes 
her with her airs of superiority, — a superiority that stirs her 
envy and dislike, and is a constant source of humiliation 
to her. It is by poking fun at marriage and making the 
husband appear ridiculous, by veiled confidences as to her 
own situation and its happy conditions, by excuses and 
sophistries she suggests, and instances she quotes, by meet- 
ings she contrives, and romantic novels she puts in her 
hands, that the woman of light character gradually weans 
her friend from her husband. Mme. d'Epinay relates in 
her Memoirs how this work of corruption was tried upon 
her by Mme. d'Ette, mistress of the Chevalier de Valory. 
A woman, who hitherto has remained true, is at first 
shocked by what is said to her ; but little by little under 
the influence of the mischievous sophisms she hears, her 
indignation diminishes, her reason is perverted, her scruples 


disappear, the attraction of the forbidden fruit awakens in 
her troubled fancy, and she ends by thinking perfectly 
natural a breach of her marriage vow that in the first 
instance revolted her beyond words. How often do magis- 
trates hear this cry from women on their trial : " It was 
bad advice was my ruin ; my friends alienated me from 
my husband, telling me, one that he was too old for me, 
another that he was so plain and unfashionable, and so on. 
I cannot understand how I came to listen to them, for my 
husband was a kind, devoted, and loving man." 

To sow discord in a household is an essentially feminine 
amusement. The woman of light character desirous of 
fomenting discord between her friend and the latter's 
husband, scarcely ever fails to persuade her that her 
husband is courting another woman. This she does to 
rouse her jealousy and get her to follow his example ; for 
a woman stung by jealousy is tempted to avenge herself 
by throwing herself at the head of the first comer. It is 
no uncommon thing moreover to see one or other of the 
husband's male friends employ the same tactics, telling the 
wife of real or supposed infidelities on the part of the 
husband, in order to stir her resentment, and then profit 
by it Sainte-Beuve, as is well known, pursued this line of 
conduct with the wife of a famous friend. I have myself 
seen in a criminal case this treachery on the part of the 
husband's friend provoke the wife's adultery and this 
adultery bring about the murder of the false friend at the 

husband's hands. A certain A , a married man, was 

the bosom friend of one C , also married. The house- 
holds lived in the same house and saw a great deal of each 

other ; A , taking advantage of his friend's absence 

from home, used to come in sometimes in the afternoon to 

chat with C 's wife, and informed her that her husband 

kept mistresses, and did not care for her at all. Mme. 

C , who loved her husband, refused at first to believe 

these calumnies, but one day she was convinced and in a 
spirit of resentment and revenge gave herself to the author 
of them. 


Nor is this sort of bad advice given only by friends and 
companions ; women are often led astray by their female 
cousins, their sisters, or even their mother. From jealousy 
and dislike of their son-in-law, we see mothers-in-law 
countenance their daughter's adultery; they discover all 
sorts of defects in their son-in-law, and tell his wife of them. 
They say he is plain, undersized, ill-mannered, badly be- 
haved, and express regret they did not give their child 
a more eligible husband, one like so and so, whose merits 
they point out specially and in detail. All this tends to 
turn the wife against her husband. Other mothers-in-law 
go even further ; they directly encourage their daughter to 
take a lover, or at any rate refrain from blaming her, if 
they discover she has one. Juvenal long ago noticed the 
complaisance sometimes shown by mothers-in-law towards 
their daughter's lover. 1 have observed instances of the 
same thing myself. A retired officer in the Army, who 
had been guilty of serious violence towards his wife, when 
questioned as to the motives of his behaviour, gave the 
following reply : " Thinking to marry a well-brought-up 
girl, I found myself in presence of a second-rate actress, 
who took lessons in elocution from a former Associate of 
the Comédie-Française, and who had the most immoral 
instincts. More than this, her mother, who wished to keep 
her beside her, stirred her up against me to such a degree 
that even if I could have succeeded in combating my wife's 
natural propensity to behave badly, my efforts would have 
been continually thwarted by my mother-in-law's inter- 
ference." — In another case, it was proved in evidence that 
a mother was in the habit of advising her daughter to take 
care of her beauty and not have too free intercourse with 
her husband, telling her, " You are much too good for him t 
my dear." — When a husband complains to his mother-in- 
law of his wife's bad behaviour, saying, " I am a good 
husband and father, you have nothing to bring against me ; 
yet your daughter dishonours my name," the mother-in* 
law only answers with a smile. — The Governor of the 
Prison of Saint-Lazare told me he had often heard mothers 


say to their daughters who were in confinement there : 
" Make haste and get well, so and so is waiting for you." — 
I have even known a mother advise her daughter to poison 
her husband, telling her by way of encouragement that 
she was herself no less determined to kill her own, and 
pointing out to her how free and happy a double widow- 
hood would make them. " As soon as your husband is 
dead," she told her, " I will kill mine too, and we will go 
away and live together." Some days later, she came again 
to inquire whether her daughter had begun to administer 
poison to her husband. On the girl's telling her, " I dare 
not do it ; if it came out, I should be undone," — " You are 
a fool," her mother replied, " no one will ever know ; what 
is there to be afraid of?" Some time afterwards, coming 
once more to see her daughter, she told her, " You are very 
stupid not to have given anything to your husband yet, I 
am sure ; well ! if you don't begin, I shall" Spurred on 
by these reproaches, the girl went out and bought poison 
and gave her husband some. During several days the 
mother came regularly to ask after the invalid and inquire 
how the poisoning was getting on. She considered her 
daughter was giving the poison in too small doses, and so 
prolonging the sickness unduly ; she was impatient at the 
long time her son-in-law took to die, and asked her 
daughter repeatedly, " Come ! when am I to see you 
in mourning ? " She urged her to increase the quantities 
administered, and begged her not to let herself be moved 
to pity by her husband's sufferings. Finally, she did not 
forget, when his last moments were approaching, to have 
a notary called in and get her son-in-law to make a will 
in her daughter's favour. 

Again, women of the lower classes are led to commit 
adultery and even to murder their husbands by ill advice 
given them by fortune-tellers and witches they consult. A 
young woman, whom one of the former, a woman who told 
fortunes by the cards, had recommended to poison her 
husband, so as to be more free, eventually after much 
hesitation followed her advice, the woman having assured 


her that if only she burned a candle to the " Good Mother" 
to secure the divine protection, her crime would never be 
found out. 

These fortune-tellers, who abuse the confidence of 
women, girls and country folk, do an incalculable amount 
of harm, sowing discord in families, and facilitating seduc- 
tion and adultery. I cannot understand why the Law does 
not endeavour to get rid of this social plague-spot; it 
could easily be done in many cases by applying Article 405 
of the Penal Code dealing with the offence of " obtaining 
money by false pretences." Certain of impunity, these 
women ply their trade at markets and fairs in country 
places, while in towns they advertise their addresses in the 
newspapers. They have always been very numerous in 
Paris. In the Seventeenth Century, a sorceress was arrested 
by La Reynie who declared there were more than four 
hundred witches and magicians in that town, "who ruined 
great numbers of people, especially women and of all ranks 
of life." (Le Drame des poisons, p. 105.) 

Adulteresses are always ready to combine dissoluteness 
and devotion. The Roman ladies used to visit the Augurs 
to consult them about their lovers. "Tell me, Janus . . . 
but dost answer suchlike questions? Have the Gods 
nothing more serious to attend to in heaven yonder? 
Truly your Olympus can have but little to do! One 
woman consults thee for a comic actor, another recom- 
mends to your divine care a Tragedian," writes the satirist 
Juvenal (Sat. vi.). — Women calling themselves Christians 
pray to heaven to secure the success of their guilty love. 
Aveline wrote to her lover, "This week I visited Notre 
Dame des Victoires, and had a candle burnt for the 
realization of our plans. — Mary Queen of Scots, writing to 
Bothwell, her lover, says : " Each of us is united with a 
faithless mate. Pray the Devil separate us from them, and 
God join us twain together for aye. . . . This is my con- 
fession of faith, and I am ready to die in the same. ... I 
ask naught else of God Almighty, but only that you under- 
stand what I have in my heart, the which is yours." When 


the Queen was planning her elopement with Bothwell, she 
wrote to him : " I pray the good God we may soon see one 
another in joyfulness." l — In a fit of despair occasioned by 
the breaking off of her liaison with Alfred de Musset, 
George Sand appeals to God, writing thus in her private 
diary : " Ah ! give me back my lover, and I will be a pious 
woman, and my knees shall wear out the church floor." — 
The wife of a rich merchant of Marseilles, having become 
the mistress of the youthful vicar of a suburban church, 
listened anxiously in the morning for the sound of the bell 
to tell her whether her lover's morning mass had taken 
place at the usual hour. The sacring bell not having rung 
till later, she cried : " Yes ! he is a saint ! he would not say 
his Mass before he had been to confess." When the 
accomplice of an adulteress is a priest, he will urge her to 
fulfil all the customary outward acts of devotion, but 
dissuade her from going to another priest for confession, 
when she wishes to do so, in order to be able to com- 
municate on some Holy Day; he dreads lest confession 
to a priest of the district may lead to the discovery of his 

Sometimes adulteresses go yet further, and unite piety 
and crime. In Mme. Gras' prie-Dieu were found filthy 
books and a box of hashish compounded with cantharides ; 
she appeared in Court with a huge rosary on her arm and 
wrote hymns in prison. — A young wife who wished her 
husband dead, on noticing that he had fallen ill, cried joy- 
fully, "Ah! if only God would. . . ." But God having 
shown Himself unwilling to rid her of her husband by a 
natural death, she helped on his sickness by poison, praying 
God to make it act as she wished and promising Him her 
deepest gratitude in case of success. " If only God could 
have pity on me," she cried, " how I would bless His Holy 
Name ! When he (the husband) groans, I praise the Lord 
from the bottom of my heart. Yesterday he was very ill ; 
I really thought God was beginning to help me ! " 

1 Teulet, SuppUnunt au Recueil du prince Labanoff, pp. 17, 18, 58. 



§ ii. — Intemperance. 

Intemperance in women is the prelude to adultery. The 
Romans long ago noticed the fact and used to say that 
"any woman who makes immoderate use of wine shuts her 
heart to every virtue and opens it to every vice." Valerias 
Maximus relates how a husband beat his wife to death to 
punish her for her intemperate habits, adding that "ail 
men held she had justly expiated by an exemplary 
punishment her violation of the laws of sobriety." l We 
moderns are very far from such severity ; our habits and 
laws are favourable to alcoholism, which has made 
alarming strides. Just as we very largely attribute to the 
progress of alcoholism the increase in the number of 
criminals, madmen and suicides, we are justified in holding 
intemperance responsible for the adultery of a certain pro- 
portion of women, especially among the working classes. 
Drunkenness, especially in Paris, works havoc in not a few 
households. In the Eighth Court of the Correctional 
Tribunal of the Seine, of which I was a member, we had 
every sitting to judge 8, 10, 12, 14 persons arrested on 
charges of drunkenness, and among these were women and 
even girls of 15, 16, 17 years old, who had already con- 
tracted habits of intemperance and were living a life of 
prostitution. The three other Correctional Courts of the 
Seine have an equally large number of cases before them. 
Drunkenness makes a woman, just as it does a man, 
violent, lustful and ill-conditioned. The married workman, 
who is a drunkard, beats his wife and children, and makes 
them endure all sorts of hardships, even including hunger ; 
if a bachelor, he grows idle, dissipated and sometimes 
" bully " to some fast woman ; he beats his parents, robs 
them and refuses to go to work. The workman's wife 
who gives way to drink, neglects her household duties, 
deserting her husband and children to indulge in a life 
of riot. 

Alcoholism at the same time abnormally over-stimulates 

1 Valerius Maximus, Bk. XL, ch. iii., No. 9. 


the sexual passion and diminishes the victim's powçr of 

§ 12. — Defects on the husband? s side. 

Again, a wife's adultery is sometimes due to physical 
defects on the part of the husband or by a coarseness and 
want of delicacy that inspire her with disgust. The re- 
pugnance Mary Queen of Scots felt towards her first 
husband, Darnley, arose from that nobleman's bad breath ; 
she writes herself to Bothwell, " He hath well-nigh killed me 
with his breath, for 'tis stronger than that of your relation 
you speak of." Accordingly, whenever Darnley urged 
the Queen to share his bed, the latter, that she might 
pass the night alone, made a point of complaining of a 
pain in the side ; " I never go anigh him," writes Mary 
Stuart, "but the pain of my sick side doth seize me, so 
grievous is he to my senses." 

Brutality on the part of the husband in the first days 
of married life is often enough to occasion in a woman of 
delicate susceptibilities a permanent dislike and repugnance. 
This is shown in the following extract from a judgment 
delivered by the Tribunal of the Seine : " Whereas the 

defendant X admits that from the time of her marriage 

with the plaintiff, she has consistently refused to fulfil her 
conjugal duty, alleging that from the very first her husband 
showed himself too impatient and did not employ all neces- 
sary precautions to spare the susceptibilities of a young 
woman absolutely ignorant of the obligations of matri- 
mony." l Not a few husbands compromise their domestic 
happiness for ever by their impatience and coarse brutality 
on the marriage night. — Specialists in mental disease have 
even noted instances of insanity being induced in delicate 
women by the first conjugal assaults, which were more 
like rape than anything else. 2 — The wife who is disgusted 
by her husband's roughness shuts her bedroom door against 

1 Gauttedes Tribunaux, ioth Jan. 1892. 

1 Paul Moreau de Tours, Les aberrations du sens génésique, p. 174. 
Pierre Janet, Névroses et idées fixes, vol. ii. p. 291. (F. Alcan, Paris.) 


him, but it is not long before she opens it to a lover, who 
displays more tact than the other and spares her delicacy. 
Such is the situation Alexandre Dumas has described in 
Jane de Simérose in his L Ami des femmes. 

A coarse, ill-looking man is liable to suffer the fate of 
Vulcan, who was abandoned by Venus, because he was 
lame and dirty. Nevertheless, when husband and lover 
appear side by side in Court, we often find that merely 
from the physical point of view the former is in no way 
inferior to the latter, and that all lovers are not Adonises. 
Bothwell, who inspired so lively a passion in the breast of 
Mary Stuart, was an ugly man ; what seduced the Queen 
was his martial look, his bold bearing and energetic char- 
acter. Helen of Troy, who left all to follow Paris, husband, 
child and country, said, speaking of her husband, "that 
she had no fault to find whether with his heart or his 

Hypocrisy the concomitant of adultery, — The whole life 
of an adulteress is one tissue of falsehood, trickery and 
hypocrisy. Often she will profess the most religious 
devotion, in the hope her husband and the world at 
large will conclude so pious a woman to be incapable 
of anything wrong. The woman Fenayrou, after making 
up her mind to commit the crime she was brought to 
trial for, went to Confession and took the Sacrament. 
To cajole her husband, such a woman will simulate 
jealousy and charge the poor man with all sorts of 
imaginary wrongs ; she will avert his suspicions by hypo- 
critical displays of fondness and tearful scenes of tenderness; 
Comedy and Tragedy are equally within her scope, and like 
a consummate actress she can assume every mask at will, 
the mask of conjugal affection, of jealousy, of melancholy, of 
piety, she can laugh and cry, melt with love or burn with 
anger, and at any moment sham a convenient attack of 
nerves. Not without reason the adulterous woman has 
been compared in character to the feline race, — the same 
apparent gentleness, same suppleness and grace, same 


treacherousness and even same cruelty, for the velvet paw 
is always ready to disclose its claws. To prevent her 
husband suspecting her lover, she will falsely accuse an 
innocent man of pursuing her, complaining of his marked 
attentions and declaring she has found means to recall him 
to proper sentiments, and the husband, touched by these 
confidences, cannot sufficiently admire his wife's goodness. 
These false charges against a man who has never gone out 
of his way to pay her the least attention, may easily lead to 
murder. Acting on the false information given him by his 
wife, a man demanded satisfaction from one of his friends ; 
when the latter refused to fight, the husband fired at him 
three times with a revolver. — To mask her guilty con- 
nection with a lover, a woman of this character will some- 
times endeavour to get him married to a relative of her 
own, a cousin or niece, or else she will falsely accuse a 
perfectly innocent woman and make her out to be her 
inamorato's mistress. — In order to be free, she makes her 
husband acquire tastes that keep him away from home, 
and induces him to undertake useless journeys, the para- 
mount importances of which she insists upon. Such are 
some of the wiles these unfaithful wives adopt to hide their 
guilty loves and mystify their husbands, and which form 
the staple of a thousand farces. The husband may watch 
his wife, invent secret locks and cunning chastity belts, buy 
a watch-dog to scare away enterprising lovers, — all is in 
vain ; no precaution is of the slightest avail against 
feminine trickery. The woman never fails to find a way 
to meet her lover, to keep her secret and flout her lord and 
master. Comic writers, from Aristophanes and Molière 
down to the authors of contemporary farces, have only to 
observe real life to make their public laugh at the expense 
of Georges Dandin, bringing out the contrast it exhibits 
between the husband's unsuspiciousness and the woman's 

When women are surprised by their husbands the moment 
after they have hidden a lover away somewhere, they will 
put on the most natural air in the world of astonishment 


and; Indignation at the suspicions they meet with, and 
fly into a passion with the man» calling him a madman to 
have dared suspect so virtuous a wife. In a case tried 
before the Assize Court I have known a woman, surprised 
by the husband, when the lover actually lay concealed in 
the bed, utter exclamations of astonishment and anger at 
the ridiculous jealousy of her husband, up to the instant 
when the latter pulling off the bed clothes sent the other 
scampering from the couch. — A woman who had poisoned 
her husband, a crime she admitted subsequently, threw 
herself with a pretence of the deepest sorrow on the man's 
body, when the Law ordered its exhumation. She screamed 
and tried to shed tears, putting her hands before her face, 
that the bystanders might not see her dry eyes. 

Nuns in charge of female offenders in penitentiaries 
have often told me of their astonishment at the girls' 
falseness. One of them said to me: "The most abandoned 
are just the ones that affected the most virtuous sentiments ; 
they act their parts so well, I am constantly deceived. 
Then when I see I have been made game of, I declare 1 
will be less simple another time ; but there ! they are 
always able to cheat me again. 11 

A married woman, afraid of her lover's giving her up 
and playing the comedy of a pretended suicide to keep 
him by her side, made a show of hanging herself, after 
writing him the following pathetic letter : " How you 
have made me suffer ! I have sacrificed all to you for the 
last two years" (she had sacrificed her husband to him, 
having poisoned the poor man)-, "but I forgive you in 
memory of our love. You have been very cruel to me ; 
you might have prevented my death and saved my 
children, but you would not. God's will be done ! Pray 
Heaven you may not repent some day of your unkindness ! 
Give one thought to a dying woman. Farewell! farewell !" 
She had written another letter to her aunt : " Before 
going back to God, (for indeed I think He will forgive me 
this desperate act), I entrust my children to you. . . . 
Poor little things, my heart bleeds for them, but it must 


be done, I must be strong for their future happiness. 
Alive, I could not help them as their father (whom she 
had poisoned) would have done ; if I die, everyone will 
pity them. ... Be sure and tell them my last thought 
was for them, that I love them above all else, for I sacrifice 
my life for them." Eventually, the woman admitted under 
examination that she was simply acting when she wrote 
these letters, and that her attempted suicide was all a 

We may apply to such women the verses composed by 
Alfred de Vigny after his betrayal by Mme. Dorval, who 
had been his mistress: 

" Une lutte éternelle en tout temps, en tout lieu, 
Se livre sur la terre en présence de Dieu, 
Entre la bonté d'Homme et la ruse de Femme ; 
Car la femme est un être impur de corps et d'âme." l 

No doubt an adulteress, in the majority of cases, plays 
some ingenious farce to hide her fault ; yet at times we 
see her animated with such hatred of her husband that 
she takes no pains to hide it ; she proclaims her sin with 
her own lips with surprising effrontery, like the woman 
who after trying to poison her husband, told a neighbour 
on becoming enceinte : " You may tell my husband that, 
if I have a child, it will most assuredly not be his." 

A woman who wishes to break off her marriage in order 
to wed her lover, lays snares for her husband to bring 
about divorce ; she tries to make him insult or beat her ; 
she refuses to let him fulfil his marital duties, in the hope 
that he will enter into some irregular liaison that will 
give her a pretext to claim separation. In a case tried 

1 •' A never-ending struggle, at all times and in all places, is fought out in 
the world before God's eyes, between Man's good nature and Woman's wiles ; 
Ux indeed a woman is a creature impure of body and soul alike." — But de 
Vigny made the mistake of generalizing from one woman as if her baseness 
were predicable of the whole sex, and summing up women in the cruel and 
unjust line : 

11 La femme, enfant malade et douze fois impure." 

" Woman, that sickly child, foul with a thousand impurities." 


on November 19th, 1895, lt came out in the course of the 
hearing that within a month after marriage, the woman 
kept her favours for her lover and began to lay traps, for 
her husband. The latter was informed by the agency 
employed, that his wife had given orders to have him 

Divorce is favourable to adultery, as supplying a means 
of breaking off one marriage and entering oh another* 
Very frequently an adulterous woman makes her lover 
promise to marry her if she becomes free, and she is not 
long before she finds a pretext for divorce. Of course the 
Law does not allow an adulteress to marry the accomplice 
with whom she has been caught sinning, but all she needs 
is to avoid being surprised flagrante delicto. Not long 
ago were found on the body of a married woman, killed 
by her husband, the rough drafts of letters addressed to 
a cousin, telling him she was going to appeal for a divorce. 
— It is not long since we had to adjudicate on the case 
of a husband who had fired two revolver shots at his wife^ 
whose evil life was notorious; the woman's answer was: 
" I was going the pace, the sooner to get a divorce." — As 
soon as a married woman has taken a lover, she goes 
(often paying out of her husband's money) to consult a 
lawyer as to the best way to procure a divorce. Before 
cheating the Law, she begins by deceiving her lawyer, 
telling him a string of falsehoods about the wrongs she 
alleges herself to have suffered at her husband's hands. — 
Clever women succeed in deceiving the Police and in 
making them believe them to be the victims of their 
husband's brutality, when all the while the real victim is 
the husband himself. In the criminal records relating to 
various women guilty of murdering their husbands, I have 
found old Police reports describing them, as the result of 
false information supplied by the women in question, as 
victims of marital cruelty. To gain credence for the 
brutalities they alleged, they would shout "murder" with- 
out any reason for doing so, so that the neighbours might 
hear and report the matter to the Police. 


To obtain a divorce, women will get false charges 
brought against their husbands of crimes against morality. 
Some years since, a lady living in a country house near 
Tours, induced her former governess to accuse her 
husband of a purely imaginary rape ; this calumny she 
disseminated by means of the newspapers, so as to put 
pressure on the members of the Bench at Tours, who 
hesitated to prosecute the husband at her instigation. 
Above all it is among those of her own sex that an 
adulteress seeks compliant witnesses ready to trump up 
false charges against her husband and so lead to a divorce. 
One individual, who was urged to " bear false witness " in 
this way, but refused to consent, drew down on herself 
the following retort : " You're not half a woman, if you 
stand up for my husband." 

Malevolence of women guilty of adultery ; desertion of 
their children. — Novelists tell us "the voice of nature" 
always appeals to a mother's heart and teaches even bad 
women love and devotion towards their children. It is 
quite true many adulteresses continue to love their children 
when they have ceased to love their husbands. But it is 
no less true to say that " the voice of nature " does not 
always make itself heard by the woman who adopts a dis- 
solute course of life, and that frequently an adulterous wife, 
on losing her love for her husband, feels her maternal affec- 
tions diminish concurrently with her conjugal. Clytaem- 
nestra, once guilty of adultery, ceases to love her daughter 

Electra. Mme. X , who was ready to die along with 

her lover, the student Chambige, noticed the alteration 
that had occurred in her sentiments : "lam quite changed 
from what I used to be ; I no longer think all day long 
of my children, I only think of you ; it is horrible ! " 
Absorbed in this delirium of her passion, the guilty woman 
has no time left to think of her children and attend to 
their health and education ; if she is well-to-do, she hands 
them over to the care of servants ; if poor, she leaves them 
to run the streets. I read in the report of a trial this 

2l8 aekjlterV on the part of the wife. 

pathetic statement by an unfortunate husband : M My little 
boy of five died of a sore throat, having caught à chill 
while his mother was away keeping an assignation."— 
In another case I find this statement made by the children 
who were called as witnesses after a domestic tragedy: 
"Since his marriage, our father never had a moment's 
happiness, owing to our mother's bad behaviour ; she used 
to neglect the house, and father, after his day's work was 
over, was obliged to look after domestic matters." 

An adulterous wife soon loses her children's respect 
Often she does not hesitate to let them see her faux pas, 
and makes use of them to carry letters sending the father 
out of the way and summoning the lover. Sometimes we 
even find a mother compromising her own daughter, so as 
to use her as a cloak for her adulterous doings. — Like 
maternal affection, paternal love is also frequently destroyed^ 
by adultery ; a father who keeps a mistress no longer \ 
the same respect for his children, nor the same fondne 
He also will sometimes employ them to deliver his lov - 
letters, and is ready to ruin his children to satisfy h^S 
mistress's caprices. Passion may even quench the sen^^ 
of pity ; fathers who are widowers have been known befo*-^ 
now to allow their mistress to domineer over and tortim*? 
their children. 

Speaking generally, a woman loves or hates her husband 
in her children ; these are more or less cherished accord- 
ing as the wife loves or hates her husband. 1 

1 In the case of a large number of women, maternal love also increases or 
diminishes, according as the mother has or has not suckled her children 
herself. The preference a mother often shows for one of her children often 
arises from the fact that she has suckled this one and not the others. I 
have known the case of a woman who killed her little girl by her unkind 
treatment, and who admitted she could not love the child because she bad 
not suckled it ; the same mother adored another child she had reared herself. 
These facts prove that, with a large number of women, in whom education 
and religion have not modified the original disposition, maternal love is rather 
instinctive than intellectual, coming more from the womb and bosom than 
from the brain and heart, contrasting herein with paternal affection, which is 
more intellectual than instinctive. For the same reason the mother pays 
greater attention to her children's bodies than to their minds, and feels their 
misconduct less acutely than the father does.— Very often too a man loves or 


Just as the wife who loves her husband is happy in 
liscovering his likeness in the features of her children and 
xclaims with Andromaque : 

44 Voilà ses yeux, sa bouche et déjà son audace ; 
Cest lui-même ; c'est toi, cher époux que j'embrasse," * 

o the wife who has ceased to love her husband finds no 
Measure now in tracing his resemblance in her children's 
aces. Such a resemblance in fact becomes odious to her, 
nd she loves her children less, because they remind her of 
heir father. I have heard a mother tell her son, "Go 
way! you are so like your father." If a woman who is 
nfaithful to her husband has a child by her lover, this is 
tie one she prefers. 

As a rule mothers think their own children pretty and 
lore attractive than anyone else's. 

44 . . . Mes petits sont mignons, 
44 Beaux, bien faits et jolis sur tous leurs compagnons," 2 

ays the owl of its young ones. But the adulterous wife is 
n unnatural mother and no longer deems her children 
>retty. I find in the records of a criminal trial a character- 
stic remark made by a mother to one of her neighbours. 
> peaking of her daughter, she said, " You think her pretty, 
lo you ? well ! for my own part I cannot bear to look at 

lates his wife in his children ; thus the hatred the "Ami des hommes" bore 
owards his son Mirabeau arose mainly from that he felt against his wife. 
[*he working-man very readily cuts the connection with his children, when he 
its been divorced. Still on the whole paternal love seems to me less 
lependent than maternal on that between husband and wife. 

1 ** Look ! his eyes, his mouth and already his gallant boldness ; 'tis himself; 
tis you, dear husband, that I kiss." 

Médée expresses the same sentiment when she says to Jason : 

" Souffre que mes enfants accompagnent ma fuite, 
Que je t'admire encore en chacun de leurs traits, 
Que je t'aime et te baise en ces petits portraits." 

"Oh ! let my children go with me in my flight, let me admire you again 
i each of their features, let me love and kiss you in these miniature 

* M . . . My little ones are sweet, handsome, well-made and pretty above 
U their companions. " 


her." Another mother said of her daughter, " I cannot 
endure the sight of her ; when she cries, I want to kill 
her." — Yet these unnatural mothers, who bully and even 
kill their children, lavish the geatest care and fondness on 
their pet animals, their cats and dogs. It is notorious that 
children are often treated cruelly by step-mothers and by 
their father's mistresses, who deprive them of food, air, and 
sleep, and beat them unmercifully. The same atrocious 
offences are also occasionally committed by adulterous 
wives upon their own children. Such women have really 
ceased to be either wives or mothers ; they have neither 
heart nor reason left, nothing but their sensual appetites ; 
they are no longer human beings, but brutes, resembling 
those animals that desert their young, beating and killing 
them to give themselves more freely to fresh embraces. I 
myself prosecuted a woman who had abandoned her three 
little children in a shed, in order to indulge in dissolute 
courses ; she merely came once a day to toss them some 
bread through an opening in the wall. When I visited 
the spot with the Juge cTinstruction I found the children 
almost naked, lying in filthy straw stained with their 
excrements. Hunger, cold, confinement, the hardships of 
every sort they had endured, had reduced them to a state 
bordering upon idiocy ; one of them had his feet gangrened. 
" The voice of nature " is silenced in the hearts of women 
that have succumbed to sensual, bestial passion. Adul- 
teresses are found ready to go on with their guilty amours 
while their children are on a bed of sickness. In one case 
I saw tried, a mother gave an assignation to her lover 
on the very day her daughter died. — Another adulterous 
wife, when reproached by her husband for her conduct, 
threatened to kill her last born child, if he dared to have 
her watched. 

" Soevus amor docuit natorum sanguine mat rem 
Commaculare manus . . ., 
Nunc scio quid sit amor." x 

1 "Cruel love taught the mother to embrue her hands with her children's 
blood ...» now I know what love can do." Virgil, Eclogues, viii. 


If death surprises the sick child while the mother is 
hastening to a criminal rendezvous, the latter finds speedy 
consolation for her loss ; the deep mourning she must 
assume, with its long black veil, annoys her, so she leaves 
it off at the earliest possible moment or contrives to 
combine it with an elegant toilette. The same indifference 
or positive dislike the adulteress sometimes feels towards 
her children, is also occasionally experienced by young 
women who are mothers without being wives. To obtain 
greater freedom for their vicious propensities, they will 
strangle their children, poison them, dash in their skulls, 
throw them into ponds, rivers, the sea, or down privies, — 
and this not always directly after their birth, but at one or 
two years old, just when children are so charming, loving 
and loveable. 

Filial piety may be stifled by habits of debauchery no 
less than maternal affection. I have known an adulteress 
hurry away to an assignation while her father was in the 
very pangs of dissolution. I have just been reading in 
some criminal records a number of letters written by her 
lover to a married woman, who had been obliged to leave 
Paris for the country to attend her mother who was 
dangerously ill ; she complains in every one of them how 
long her mother takes to die, thus preventing her from 
getting back to Paris, — in fact, she wearies for her mother's 
end, that she may the sooner see her lover again. " What 
a horrid trade," she writes, "a sick-nurse's is!" — Once a 
woman has lost her sense of shame, she quickly grows 
capable of anything. "Amissa pudicitia, mulier nihil 
abnuerit " (" Shame lost, a woman will stick at nothing "). 
This sentiment in a woman is the thread that keeps together 
the pearls of a necklace ; cut the thread, and all the pearls 
are lost ; do away with modesty, and all the female virtues 
fly away, conjugal affection, maternal love, filial piety, all 
disappear. And the process of deterioration is a rapid 
one. Looseness of conduct leads quickly to crime, abor- 
tion, infanticide, poisoning. I have known the case of a 
young woman who had won a prize for good conduct when 


a girl, yet within a few years' time appeared before a Court 
of Justice charged with adultery and poisoning her husband. 
The notorious Mme. Fenayrou had been quoted as a 
pattern of virtue in the boarding school where she was 
brought up; but taking to dissolute courses some years after 
her marriage, she very soon developed into a criminal. 

Hatred of the adulterous wife towards her husband ; her 
calumnies on his conduct. — For the adulterous wife, the true 
husband is the lover ; she speaks of herself as " his wife," 
while the husband is the obstacle, the stranger, the enemy. 
But every obstacle must be removed, and every enemy 
hated ; in proportion as the woman's love for her lover 
increases, her hatred of her husband augments. One 
woman on trial, relating how adultery had led her on 
to poisoning, told the Juge d'instruction : " Yes ! I am 
guilty of the crime I am charged with ; my adulterous 

connection with X was the cause of it all. When he 

first asked me to be his, I rejected his proposal with scorn, 
but I ended by yielding to his prayers ; I very soon 
conceived a strong aversion to my husband." People 
always hate those they have wronged ; the fault the 
wife commits inspires her with an invincible repugnance 
towards her husband. Under these circumstances, the 
more gentle and affectionate the husband is, the greater 
his wife's loathing and detestation. 

An adulterous wife's hatred of her husband often 
expresses itself in calumnies against his character, 
calumnies uttered even in the presence of her children. 
Feeling herself despised by her husband, she is jealous 
of the respect and love the children show their father, 
and she does all she can to deprive him of this consolation 
by means of insidious slanders ; she complains to her 
children of having been made unhappy all her life by 
her husband's misconduct, painting him in the blackest 
colours, and falsely accusing him of the most atrocious 
vices. In some instances, I have known her accuse her 
husband of wishing to kill her, to poison her, and she 


sheds copious sham tears to move her children to pity 
her wrongs. To make out the victim of her wickedness 
to be a villain, to pose as a victim herself, when she is 
the true villain all the time, to rob the father of the esteem 
and affection of the children he adores, what a fine satis- 
faction for an evil-natured wife ! The worst of it is, these 
false-hearted misrepresentations almost invariably attain 
their object, either because the husband is unsuspicious or 
because he shrinks from confounding the woman's calumnies 
by revealing her real character, out of consideration for his 
children and a dread of wounding their feelings. This 
confidence and generosity she takes advantage of to make 
her husband suffer in his affections as a father, having 
already tortured him in his love as a husband. I have 
known such a one make her daughter believe her father 
was suffering from a skin disease, in order to deprive him 
of his child's caresses. All means are utilized to sow mis- 
understanding between father and children. If she cannot 
render the father odious in his children's eyes, she makes 
a point of turning him into ridicule before them ; when 
she cannot get them to fear him, she incites them to laugh 
at him. Her spite discovers a thousand perfidious ways of 
wounding the husband in the father. 

The unhappy husband, exasperated by these perfidies 
and mockeries, sometimes ends at last by losing his head 
and giving way to serious acts of violence, which call for 
the intervention of the Law. A wife who had succeeded in 
getting her husband to strike her and having him thrown 
into prison in consequence, told her daughter: "Your 
father has gone into prison with a black beard, he must 
leave it with a white one." In another case a husband, 
who driven to desperation had given his wife a blow which 
proved fatal, exclaimed sadly : " She scorned me, and made 
my children do the same ! " 

The husband tortured by suchlike calumnies, and in 
despair at losing his children's love, the only consolation 
left him, ends sometimes by committing suicide. To give 
an instance, — a man of business in Paris poisoned himself 


in the year 1895 with nicotine, after writing the following 
letter : " Not satisfied with dragging my name through the 

mud by her public liaison with M. X , my wife has fled 

from home taking with her 3,500 francs and has instituted 
proceedings for a divorce against me. Now she forbids 
my son coming to see me, setting him against me by 
every kind of shameful falsehood and slander. 1 could 
bear everything till to-day, but I cannot endure the grief 
the loss of my son's affection causes me. I forgive my 
boy, who is young, and I think he will forgive my act of 
despair. But I hold my wife and her lover responsible for 
my death. She has robbed me of all, — my honour, my 
money, and the love of my son which consoled me for 
everything else." Other husbands, exasperated by their 
wives' persistent evil speaking, are filled with a fierce 
hatred that explodes some day and translates itself into 
murder; they go mad with anger. Some years ago in 
the neighbourhood of Tarascon, the wife of a farmer 
cultivating his own land was found murdered in her bed. 
She had been suddenly attacked in her sleep, the husband 
striking her with an iron pitchfork which was left sticking 
in her head. He declared to the Juge d'instruction that 
he had been driven beyond all bounds by his wife's 
calumnies, which had forced him to kill her. 1 

It is also by calumny that an adulteress avenges herself 
on any of her husband's relatives who say anything to her 
about her conduct. When her father-in-law or brother-in- 
law give her warnings of this kind, it is no uncommon thing 
for her to try to punish them by informing her husband 
they have endeavoured to seduce her. 

" Que ne sait point ourdir une langue traîtresse, 
Par sa pernicieuse adresse ! n 2 

1 In this case it was a dog that led to the detection of the criminal. The 
Law had been unable to discover who was guilty, till one day the Police were 
put in possession of the blood-stained clothes of the murderer, which had been 
buried in a neighbouring field and covered over with stones. It was the man's 
dog that attracted attention to them by scratching up the ground at the spot 
and howling. This discovery forced the husband to confess. 

3 " What calumnies will not a perfidious tongue invent out of its malignant 
cunning ! " 


Provocation to commit parricide. — But the adulterous wife 
does not invariably stop short at calumniating her husband 
and sowing discord between father and children ; she 
sometimes goes further, provoking acts of violence between 
them and even inciting the children to kill their father. 
In 1893» the Assize Court of the Bouches-du-Rhône 
adjudicated on a case of this kind. A married woman» 
Vial by name, whose husband was a farmer near Aix and 
a hard-working, honest man, quitted her home again and 
again, forsaking husband and children to go after various 
lovers. The husband, who was weak and good-natured 
forgave her every time, out of consideration for his children, 
and agreed to take her back again. Far from showing 
gratitude for his clemency, the woman at each act of 
forgiveness only redoubled her hatred of her husband, and 
persistently spoke ill of him to the children, in order to 
alienate their affection from him. He was really in- 
dustrious and saving ; she made him out to the children 
to be idle and extravagant, and presently succeeded in 
making a quarrel between them. One of the sons, a 
baker's apprentice, wished to buy an oven for himself on 
too hard terms, and his father did not approve the plan ; 
this occasioned the young man very keen vexation, which 
his mother took care to keep up and embitter still more. 
At her instigation he had a violent scene with his father, 
and threatened to leave his house, taking his mother and 
brothers with him. A few days later, he put this threat 
into execution, and Vial on returning from his work in 
the fields, found his home abandoned by his wife and 
children, who had carried away everything with them. 
He then made his way to their new dwelling to get back 
the bed-clothes which they had carried off from his bed. 
His wife and son turned him out of doors and went up to 
a first floor window to hurl insults at him. The son took 
his stand at the open window holding a pistol in his hand, 
and his mother behind him, urging him to use his weapon. 
She was heard to shout " Fire ! " and at the same moment 
the son discharged two shots at his father. The latter 


was wounded and took to flight, but his son, still at the 
invitation of his mother, rushed in pursuit, caught hkn up 
and fired at him twice again almost point blaafc. The 
unhappy father received two balls, one in die left thigh, 
the other in the dorso-lumbar region. In examination it 
was proved that the murder was premeditated on the part 
both of wife and son ; the son had bought the pistol with 
the intention of using it against his father, and the mother 
had given him the money for the purchase. 

I have seen another case of parricide provoked by an 
adulterous wife, a woman of forty-seven, who, abusing the 
empire she possessed over her son of twenty, pursued him 
with continual solicitations to kill his father, whom she 
painted in the blackest colours for his benefit The young 
man resisted for some time, the idea of such a crime fill- 
ing him with horror, but at last his mother succeeded in 
overcoming his scruples ; she procured him a gun to shoot 
his father with, and contrived means for his meeting him 
alone in the fields. Following his mother's directions, the 
son came suddenly upon his father engaged in felling a 
pine-tree ; he took aim and stretched him stone dead at 
its foot. 

It is often the best husbands that become the objects of 
dislike. The husband who possesses every possible good 
quality when he is loved, is found to have every possible 
defect when this is no longer the case. Just as love trans- 
forms defects into merits, hatred changes merits into de- 
fects. If the husband is gentle and patient, his adulterous 
wife calls him a weak fool ; if he is careful and saving, she 
sets him down as a miser. In the great majority of in- 
stances of the murder of a husband by an adulterous wife^ 
I have found the husband to have been a good, hard-work- 
ing man, devoted to his family, while the wife was lazy, 
greedy, extravagant and profoundly selfish. I find among 
the documents relating to the poisoning of a husband by 
his wife this declaration made by one of the daughters: 
"My father used always to say, that when a man had 
children, he ought to save, and my mother would reply : 


4 1 think more of myself than of my children.' " What a true 
confession ! The adulteress really and truly loves neither 
husband nor children but only herself; in her abominable 
selfishness, she prefers pleasure to the family honour ; she 
thinks only of herself, lives only for herself, — " I, I come 
first," she says, " the rest nowhere ! " 1 This is why, if she 
has no children, she does not want any, and would rather 
be barren. She rejoices over her sterility, and if an 
incipient pregnancy declares itself, she plans to get rid of 
it Alexander Dumas fils has noted this trait in the 
character of the adulterous wife in La Femme de Claude ; 
in the novel mentioned Césarine desires to procure abortion. 
The midwives, who suppress as many infants as they bring 
into the world, do not limit themselves to giving assistance 
to unmarried girls who have been seduced ; unfaithful 
wives also frequently have recourse to their treatment. In 
1891, the Assize Court of the Var condemned on a charge 

of abortion Mme. de J , wife of a naval officer, and for 

complicity in the matter her lover, the Mayor of Toulon. 

Even when the husband, finding himself unable to put a 
curb on his wife's misconduct, makes up his mind to bear 
it quietly, the latter may still continue to cherish against 
him a dislike so violent as to make her desire and provoke 
his death. I have myself noted the case of a village 
Messalina who tried to poison her husband, and failing 
this, got her lover to kill him, although he was an old 
man, good-natured and quite resigned to his lot. 

The ferocious hate an adulterous wife feels towards 
her husband finds an exact expression in the narrative 
Clytaemnestra gives in Aeschylus of the murder of 
Agamemnon ; she recounts how " his dying convulsions 
send the blood spurting from his wounds ; and the red 
dew of murder falls on me in dark gouts, dew as sweet to 
my heart as is the rain of Zeus to the fallows." Cassandra's 

* This selfishness is found even, more often than might be supposed, in 
mothers of families who are not adulteresses, but who, merely in order to 
satisfy their love of luxury and dress, sacrifice the interests of their children. 
There are even married women who have a horror of the duties of maternity, 
and do not wish to have children. 


murder, which followed that of Agamemnon, was likewise 
for the adulteress, " a soft, voluptuous joy that even yet 
gives zest to the delights of my love." 

Other motives inciting the adulterous wife to the murder of 
her husband. — Hatred however is not the only motive that 
urges the adulterous wife to kill her husband ; she wishes 
besides to put an end to her marriage, in order to live 
freely with her lover. A young woman of eighteen, who 
had been married against her will and who deeply re- 
gretted having been unable to marry a young man she 
loved, said cynically to two witnesses : " I left a suitor in 
the lurch who cried finely on my marriage day; but I 
mean to give my husband an eleven o'clock broth, to finish 
him off, so that I can then marry my old lover." What 
she wants is to bind the lover to her by marriage ; and to 
do so, she must make herself a widow. 

In most instances, before conceiving the idea of getting 
rid of her husband by poison, an adulterous wife begins 
by merely wishing for his death, without any notion as 
yet of causing it ; if only her husband were to disappear, 
carried off by some accident or disease, she would be free ! 
Free ! a widow ! what joy in the thought ! When the Law 
seizes the letters an adulteress has written her lover, this 
homicidal sentiment is constantly found expressed : M 0h! 
how I long to be free! how I long to be rid of him!" 
She hopes some convenient sickness will come and give 
her her liberty, and if her husband falls ill, the homicidal 
idea that had already crossed her mind takes firm hold 
of her imagination and never leaves her : " If only he were 
to die," she tells herself, " I should be free to marry my 
lover." A great many adulterous wives content themselves 
with wishing for their husband's death, but others go 
further than this ; they begin very soon to weary of the 
care they bestow on him, and if the sickness is prolonged, 
after noting with pleasure the progress it is making, they 
are tempted presently to hasten on its termination, which 
is to assure their freedom. At first they only desire the 


patient's death, anon we find them preparing it, if it is 
too long in coming of itself. When once the thought of 
murder, long-cherished in the fancy, takes hold of an 
adulterous wife's mind, it grows into a fixed idea, an 
obsession of the intellect, which never again leaves her, 
and sometimes betrays itself by compromising speeches 
she cannot refrain from uttering. A husband whom his 
wife had tried to poison, making a statement later on 
before a Court of Justice, said the accused had been un- 
able any longer to hold her tongue as to her wish to see 
him dead, and had had the cynical effrontery to tell him 
of it M It was a fixed idea in her mind," he declared. — 
In another similar case, a witness reported this cry of 
impatience as uttered by an adulterous wife desirous of 
her husband's death : " Will he never give out, the 
creature ! " * In connection with another criminal case, I 
have even known a woman say to her daughter, speaking 
o£ the tatter's father, who was the best of men : " Ought 
not a man like that to be shot and stretched dead on the 
floor ? " — " What would you do, if he were dead ? " returned 
the daughter. — " Why ! then I should be my own mistress," 
was the mother's answer. 

. In some instances we find the mother-in-law sharing her 
daughter's hatred against her husband so entirely as to 
become her accomplice in the murder of her son-in-law. 
Some years since in the arrondissement of Digne, a wife 
plotted with her mother to poison her husband, and they 
gave him a drink mixed with sulphur and phosphorus. 
The attempt to poison in this way having failed, the woman 
procured a gun and discharged it at her husband as he 

1 It is not alone in dramas of adultery that we see the criminal, watching his 
victim lying on a bed of sickness, pass insensibly from wishing a natural death 
to supervene to planning a violent end ; it is a psychological observation of 
general application. Before killing the widow Boyer, Vitalis seeing her struck 
down by illness, began to wish for her death. " If the good God would only 
take her ! " he said more than once to the girl who became his accomplice 
later on. — **Ah! yes," answered the latter, who had at first refused to 
entertain the idea of committing the crime, but who afterwards felt the same 
wish, and ended by helping her lover to second the disease in its effects. 


slept ; the shot carried away one of his ears without 
killing him. 

The idea of killing her husband in his sleep often 
suggests itself to a woman's mind. When the sisters of 
Psyché persuade her that her husband is a monster, they 
bring her a lamp and a dagger to stab him with as he 
sleeps. Some few years since, in Provence, a woman, 
threatened with desertion on the part of her lover, took 
advantage of his slumbers to force a pair of scissors into 
his temple, using a flat-iron to drive them in with. 

But poison is the means an adulterous wife most usually 
adopts when she wishes to get rid of her husband. This 
has always been the chosen weapon of such women; 
"adultéra, ergo venefica" ("an adulteress, therefore a 
poisoner"), the Romans used to say. When Medea passes 
in review the different ways of avenging herself that occur 
to her, it is poison she chooses, "Many means," she 
soliloquises, "are open to me of doing them to death. . • « 
Should I set fire to their nuptial palace or plunge a 
sharpened sword into their heart? . . . Better to assail 
them by the direct road we women excel in and kill them 
by poison." 

The Roman women, like the Greek, were skilled in the 
use of poisons. If we are to believe Livy, not a single 
case of poisoning came up for trial at Rome for many 
years. 1 But, after the submission of the Latins, the 
number of poisonings committed by women was so large, 
that the mortality among husbands was set down to an 
epidemic. The foremost citizens of Rome were dying 
fast, all of similar maladies and almost invariably with the 
same symptoms. A slave woman eventually came forward 
to reveal the fact to the Consuls that the city was being 
decimated by the perfidy of the women, and that a number 
of Roman matrons were manufacturing poisons. Acting 

1 Livy^ bk. viii. — However the laws of the Twelve Tables contain a clause 
punishing the crime of poisoning. — Valerius Maximus records that Publida, 
wife of the Consul Postumius Albinus, and Licinia, wife of Claudius AseUus, 
convicted of having poisoned their husbands, were strangled in virtue of 
a sentence passed by their parents and relatives. (Bk. vi., ch. iii., § 8.) 


on this information, they caught some women in the act 
of preparing noxious drugs and discovered poisons hidden 
in several spots. Discoveries of the sort were made in the 
houses of twenty matrons, two of the number being ladies 
of patrician rank ; a hundred and seventy women were 
arrested in all. 

According to Juvenal, whose Satires chronicle all the 
scandal of his day and are veritable judicial records, there 
were many women guilty of adultery and poisoning among 
his contemporaries. " Here we have," he writes in his first 
Satire, " a rich matron, who handing the mild Calene wine 
to her thirsty husband, mixes snake poison in the cup, 
and a second and more artful Locusta, teaches her less 
experienced neighbours how to carry the livid corpses of 
their husbands to burial undeterred by ill-report and 
thronging crowds." In his famous Sixth Satire the same 
author tells of other poisonings committed by adulterous 
wives : " Patrician or plebeian, all," he declares, " are alike 
depraved. . . . More destructive than the sword, luxury 
has burst upon us and avenges the world enslaved. . . . 
To-morrow, at break of day, each quarter of the city will 
have its Clytaemnestra. The only difference is that the 
daughter of Tyndarus, in frenzied desperation, brandished 
her murderous axe in both hands, whereas in our day the 
matter is quietly arranged with a small bit of a poisonous 
toad's intestine. Still the steel is there all the time, if 
the cautious Agamemnon has provided himself with an 
antidote in time." 

Poisoning, common in Italy in the sixteenth century 
extended to France in the seventeenth. Nor was it only 
to open the way to inheritances that Brinvilliers and La 
Voisin kept open shop for the sale of poisons, it was likewise 
to end unwelcome marriages and pave the road to others. 
These women dealt in love potions as well as in poisons 
for inconvenient relatives. In July 1682, Louis XIV. 
published an edict for the punishment of poisoners, pushing 
severity so far as to regard as accomplices all who, possess- 
ing information " of anyone's having manufactured poisons 


or been asked for and delivered such," Tailed to denounce 
such persons to justice. A special Court was instituted to 
exterminate the whole class of men and women who dealt 
in poisons. But the King was so horrified at the appalling 
revelations that ensued that he stopped the proceedings 
and had a number of documents burnt, notably those con- 
cerning the case of Mme. de M on tes pan, convicted of 
having asked La Voisin for powders to win her the 
King's good graces and kill Mlle, de la Vallière, and fetter 
on to destroy Louis XIV., who had by that time deserted 
her, and Mlle, de Fontanges, her successor in the Royal 
favour. The latter died at twenty-two, firmly persuaded 
she had been poisoned. Among women found guilty of 
poisoning were even magistrates' wives. Louis XIV. con- 
nived at the flight of a large number of great lords and 
ladies compromised by these revelations. When Mme. 
Tiquet, wife of a Counsellor of the Parliament, was con- 
demned in 1699 to be beheaded for having killed her 
husband, her family earnestly besought the King's mercy ; 
" However, the Archbishop of Paris represented to the King 
that the impunity this crime enjoyed was by way of making 
it extremely frequent ; that husbands depended for the 
safety of their lives on Mme. Tiquet being punished ; that 
already poisoning was very common and the Grand 
Penitentiary had his ears filled with continual confessions 
of women who accused themselves of having attempted 
their husbands' lives. This remonstrance decided the 
King to make a great and terrible example." When 
Mme. Tiquet was executed, her head after being severed 
from the body was left for some time on the scaffold, " no 
doubt in order that the sight might make a deep impres- 
sion on the minds of the married women present at the 
said execution." 

A case of wholesale poisoning, which compromised 
several women and was tried in 1868 before the Assize 
Court of the Bouches-du-Rhone, revealed the existence 
at Marseilles of regular manufactories of poisons for the 
use of adulterous wives. A fortune-teller and a herbalist, 


a man named Joye* kept this establishment. They were 
consulted v bj|r women as to their lovers' fidelity and the 
best means of ensuring "their continued affection ; by 
husbands as to the fidelity of their wives and the means 
of making these love them ; by mothers in search of a 
son-in-law ; by the owners of sick animals as to the way 
to cure them by some charm or other. These swindlers 
would begin by proposing to married women to rid them 
of their husbands by throwing a spell over them. " You 
must go to the churchyard," Joye declared ; " take a nail 
out of a coffin and invoke it in these words, * nail, I invoke 
you, hoping my husband will die.'" The woman would 
hesitate at first, but before long she would come to see 
the herbalist again and take the poison he handed her. 
As soon as the poison had taken proper effect and ridded 
the woman of her husband, Joye would call on the widow 
to claim "the price of her work." — The fortune-teller on 
her part, in order to try the woman's mettle who came to 
consult her, would say : " The cards announce that some- 
one very nearly connected with you must die soon, and 
that his death would suit you very well." When she saw 
that this notion was welcomed with satisfaction, she would 
add more to the same effect, and finally slip the poison 
into the woman's hand. She sold large quantities of it. 
To obtain it, women of the lower classes often went so 
far as to sacrifice the whole of their little belongings. 

It was the professional rivalry existing between the 
herbalist and the fortune-teller that eventually led to the 
truth coming out. The herbalist having more customers 
than the fortune-teller, the latter became jealous and angry 
at his interference with her profits and denounced him 
to a woman named Marino, whom another, Ville, her 
husband's mistress was desirous of poisoning. This Ville, 
who had already poisoned her husband, was now planning 
to do the same to her lover Marino's wife, so that she 
might marry him herself, quite resolved also to kill her 
lover in the same way, if he should refuse to marry her. 
Marino, being informed by his wife of the statements the 


fortune-teller had made to her, wished to verify ît, and 
went to see the herbalist, leading him to believe he was 
aware of his mistress's design and approved of it " I am 
Ville's lover," he told him, "and I know all that has 
occurred. But you have only done half the business. I 

want to be able to live at my ease with Mme. V ; can 

you rid me of my wife ? " On hearing these words, Joye 
looked the other steadily in the eyes, to make sure whether 
he was speaking sincerely; then after casting a glance 
around, he whispered putting his lips to his ear, " Are you 
a man?" — " If I were not," returned Marino, "I shouldn't 
be here. But I warn you, I don't wish my wife to suffer 
as long as M. Ville did." These words reassured the 
herbalist, who putting on a smiling aspect, added : " It was 
not I who looked after M. Ville, it was that cheating 
baggage Louise, who's hardly good enough to shuffle the 
cards and tell a fortune, yet must mix herself up in things 
she knows nothing about. She could not succeed in 
finishing M. Ville. So I came to the rescue, and with my 
white powder, settled his hash in a few days. Leave me 
alone, follow exactly the directions I'm going to give you, 
and your wife won't give you much more trouble." l 

To avoid arousing suspicion a wife who wishes to 
rid herself of her husband by poison, gives him small 
doses ; she poisons him slowly, but surely, dealing him his 
death drop by drop with a smile on her lips. When the 
unfortunate man, parched with the poison asks for a drink» 
she administers yet another dose in the cooling draught 
she gives him, quite regardless of his horrible sufferings. 
To baulk the doctor's skill, she will sometimes employ 
turn and turn about drugs that produce exactly opposite 
effects. If the medical attendant succeeds by appropriate 
treatment in re-establishing the invalid's health, the woman 
will begin her attempts afresh, doubling the doses this 

1 Joye was condemned to life imprisonment with hard labour. After his 
condemnation, he asked for his diploma as a herbalist and a book of prayers, 
which had been taken from him. 


Sometimes it is when in robust health that the husband 
is seized by a sudden, unaccountable sickness, at others it 
is in the course of an ordinary illness that his wife gives 
him poison, hoping that its effects will be confounded with 
those of the disease. It has been proved that cases of 
poisoning are more frequent during epidemics of cholera, 
because women take advantage of this and try to put down 
the symptoms really due to the poison to the account of 
the prevalent disease. This also gives them a pretext to 
at once get rid of the evacuations, so as to avoid their 
being analyzed. 

It is no uncommon thing for a wife who poisons her 
husband to take advantage of the lengthened period of 
his illness to get the man she is slowly murdering to make 
a will in her favour. Indeed more often than not the 
husband never suspects his wife. Occasionally however 
he sees that his illness is no ordinary one, feels he is not 
nursed lovingly, that he is a burden, and that his death is 
a thing hoped for. If the woman notices these suspicions, 
she strives to remove them by acting a play of pretended 
love and wounded feelings ; she lavishes marks of fond 
affection on her husband and complains bitterly of his 
unjust suspicions, making such a to-do that the poor victim 
ends by excusing himself and asking pardon for having 
even suspected her. But the husband's relations, friends 
and children, struck by the wife's attitude and manner, are 
more clear-sighted ; they form suspicions, watch the woman 
and keep her away from the sick man's bed. It was to his 
friends' perspicacity, who had him removed and carried to 
an hotel that in a recent case the husband owed his life. 
A child whose father was poisoned by his mother, told his 
uncle " that he noticed how for some time his mother was 
not the same towards his father, that she did not seem to 
look after him well." Struck by her indifference, the child 
watched his mother in terror, and surprised her putting 
something suspicious in his father's medicine. Not daring 
to say anything, he determined to keep on the alert all 
night, but was overcome by sleep. He was awakened by 


the complaints his father was making to his mother about 
the draught she had just given him and which he declared 
had a bad taste. 

In some instances the husband who feels his wife does 
not love him, has a presentiment of the fate awaiting him. 
" I shall die poisoned/' he says to his family and friends ; 
"if I do die, have a post-mortem made, to make sure I 
have not been poisoned." He avoids taking drink and 
medicine from his wife's hand, and is observed to sit up in 
bed to examine the phials on the table by his bedside. 

When the poison acts too slowly to accord with her 
wishes and the husband's health holds out, the adulterous 
wife, impatient to be left a widow, will sometimes forget 
all prudence and hasten on his death by large doses ; she 
wants to get done, and would rather run the risk of dis- 
covery than live any longer with her husband. She 
wearies to be free, and able to marry her lover, and in 
her blind impatience gives vent in spite of herself to her 
real feelings before the bystanders. "The thing must 
end ! " exclaimed one such woman to a neighbour, unable 
longer to contain herself, " I would rather die with my 
lover than go on living any longer with my husband." 
However, suchlike outbursts of annoyance and impatience 
are the exception ; more often the adulterous wife who 
poisons her husband masters herself sufficiently to hide 
her criminal acts under a veil of consummate hypocrisy. 
To prepare those about her for her husband's death, she 
makes a display of excessive grief, says she is broken- 
hearted, that science is powerless to save him. In her 
impatience to see him dead, she declares recovery to be 
impossible at a time when his condition is not yet by any 
means desperate. Finally, when the poor invalid does 
die, she manifests the deepest sorrow, crying, groaning 
and pretending to weep. 

The accomplice. — The unfaithful wife will sometimes 
poison her husband without feeling any positive dislike 
to him, simply and solely in order to regain her freedom 


and be able to marry again. Mme. B > recently con- 
demned by the Assize Court of the Seine for an attempt 
to poison her husband, did not hate him, indeed she used 
to call him her "big brother," " her great boy." Nor did 
he interfere with her pleasures, but left her perfect liberty. 
Still she wished him out of the way, that she might marry 
afresh. Nor was it enough for her to get a divorce ; she 
had already been divorced once, and a second would have 
been a point against her, as a widow is more courted than 
a divorcée. 

The wife accomplishes the crime by herself, when the 
lover refuses to join in the plot for murdering the husband. 
But most often the poisoning is carried out with the com- 
plicity and co-operation of the lover. When the husband's 
death is carried through by the wife and her accomplice 
together, sometimes the idea of the crime originates with 
the woman, sometimes with the lover ; now it is the 
woman induces her lover to kill her husband, now the 
lover that incites the wife to commit the crime. Chateau- 
briand relates in his Memoirs that one of his ancestors, 
having become the lover of a married lady, Jacquemine 
de Boysirioult, killed her husband at the instigation of his 
mistress, who had promised him her hand as the reward 
of the crime. Three months afterwards, he married his 
victim's widow, but prosecuted for murder and found 
guilty, he was beheaded on a scaffold at Rennes in 1574. 

When it is the woman that urges her lover to kill her 
husband, she resorts to every kind of ruse to suggest the 
act to his mind, to rouse him to its accomplishment and 
to overcome his last scruples. If the husband is to be 
shot down with a gun, it is she who studies the locality, 
stations her lover in ambuscade in a favourable position, 
and entices the husband thither to be shot at. On the 
day fixed for the deed, she lavishes her caresses on her 
husband to lull his suspicions to sleep, on her lover to 
excite his courage, encouraging her accomplice by her 
words and picturing the happiness awaiting him when 
once her husband is dead ; if he hesitates, she reanimates 


him by fresh caresses. In a case tried by the Assize 
Court of the Bouches-du-Rhône, — it has been made into 
a novel, like so many other judicial dramas, — the ex- 
amination established the fact that the adulterous wife 
had posted her lover armed with a gun at a spot where 
he could conveniently take aim at her husband, and that 
seeing him hesitating to pull the trigger, she kissed him 
passionately to induce him to make up his mind. 

In the course of the interviews that take place where 
an adulterous wife and her accomplice are confronted be- 
fore the Juge cP instruction, how often we hear the lover 
declare to his mistress : " It was for love of you, to obey 
you, that I have brought dishonour on my name ; you have 
made me a murderer." 

A lover who at his mistress's instigation had killed the 
latter's husband and was on trial for the crime, told the 
Juge ([instruction : " Yes ! it was I who did it, but she 
forced me into it . . . We gave him poison not once, 
but ten times over. The man's soul was nailed into his 
body. After that she badgered me to strangle him, to 
throw him under a waggon ; last of all she gave me gun- 
powder to shoot him with." The murderer added that at 
the instant of firing, his mistress came up and kissed him, 
to give him courage. — When the widow Gras, after dress- 
ing in grande toilette to go to the Opera, hid her accomplice 
in the dressing-room, where he was to await his victim, she 
kissed him again and again, making him admire her pretty 
costume and repeating : " Look how fine I am ! " and 
promising to marry him as the price of his crime. — I have 
even known a country woman make a will in favour of her 
servant in order to decide him to kill her husband ; passion 
not being a strong enough motive to make him a murderer, 
she kindled avarice in his heart as well. The lover threw 
himself by his mistress's orders on her husband during his 
sleep, to beat him to death, but the latter succeeded in 
freeing himself from his hands and in felling the aggressor, 
who prayed for forgiveness and promised to leave the 
country. The husband, a good-natured man, promised for 


his part, so as to avoid scandal, not to lay any information 
with the Police. But the wife, furious at having failed, 
incited her lover to make a fresh attack on her husband. 

When the lover, at his mistress's instigation, becomes 
the husband's murderer, the chief reason is always that he 
is jealous of him. To share his mistress with another man 
makes him suffer cruelly in heart and body and self-esteem. 1 
The material picture of the other taking his share possesses 
his imagination, torturing and exasperating him beyond 
all bounds. He would have the woman belong to himself 
and himself only, and to put an end once for all to this 
odious partnership, which he cannot bear to think of, he 
yields to his mistress's instigations or himself takes the 
initiative in planning murder. " Be mine ! " he cries, " and 
mine alone, and for this become a widow." A woman who 
had poisoned her husband, at her lover's instigation, told 
the Juge ^instruction : " One evening as I was walking 
with my lover, he said to me, ' Loving each other as we do, 
if it were not for the fear of compromising ourselves, we 
would get rid of those two obstacles, I of my wife, you of 
your husband.' These words stuck persistently in my 
mind, and finding an opportunity of committing the crime, 
I did it so as to be his, to live with the man I loved so 
well, the man I loved better than myself." 

With eyes fixed on the happiness awaiting them after 
the husband's death, hypnotised as it were by thinking ol 
it, the adulteress and her accomplice make plans for the 
future, while the poison is slowly but surely producing its 
effect. At the very time when she was poisoning her 
husband, Mme. Weiss was thinking over the furniture of 
the rooms she would occupy with her lover after her 
husband's death. The lover on his side, before his 
mistress had become a widow, sent her a railway ticket 
from Spain, so that she might come and join him there 

1 This jealousy of the lover towards the husband, when it does not translate 
itself into murder, may lead to suicide, so great is the pain of sharing the 
loved one's favours with another man. I have noted several cases of the 


directly it was all over. Nay ! more, actually before the first 
dose of poison had been administered, he had ordered the 
cards that were to announce his marriage with the widow, 
and had already completed all the civil formalities necessary 
for the marriage. — In another case, an unfaithful wife, who 
was getting a revolver sent her from Paris to kill her 
husband with, ordered a black dress at the same time for 
mourning. — The impatience the lover experiences to be 
rid of the husband often shows itself in imprudent acts* 
which later on become pieces of presumptive evidence 
against him ; during the husband's illness and its final 
stages, he is seen wandering about the house and even 
pushing his way indoors, to find out if the man is going to 
die at last and make room for him. 

When the adulterous wife's lover is himself a married 
man, a double crime becomes needful to enable him to 
marry his mistress, — the murder of his mistress's husband 
and that of his own wife. To regain their freedom, the 
lovers resort to a twofold crime to get rid of the obstacles 
standing in the way of their union. The lover kills his 
wife, and the mistress her husband, or else the lover him- 
self undertakes both crimes. Some years since, at Saint- 
Nazaire, near Toulon, a man of sixty-seven, being eager to 
marry his mistress, a married woman of forty, began by 
putting his wife out of the way. This once successfully 
accomplished, his mistress, equally impatient to regain her 
liberty, said to him : " Well ! you have your riddance ! . . . 
Now, when shall I get rid of my husband?" A few days 
later, she did "get rid of him," as she put it. — In other 
instances the lover commits both murders, as in the 
following case : A miller, after drowning his wife, not 
without suspicions on the part of his children, who all but 
caught him in the act, did not hesitate a few months 
later to kill his mistress's lover, in order to install the 
latter at his mill. 

If the lover, after murdering his mistress's husband, 
hesitates to go further and kill his own wife, the mistress 
is far too jealous to let her live. When Mary Queen of 


Scots formed the project in conjunction with her lover 
Bothwell to assassinate her husband, the Earl of Darnley, 
she claimed of her lover as the price of her complicity, 
" for this my painful labour," the right to take the place 
of his lawful wife ; " the feigned tears (of Lady Gordon, 
Bothwell's wife) ought not to be of so great a weight," she 
writes to him, " as the trusty labours I do undergo, to the 
end I may deserve to come into her place." 

Among crimes of poisoning committed by adulterous 
wives, I have had occasion to note one of peculiar atrocity 
carried out with the complicity of a priest, the Curé of Les 
Baux in Provence. 1 " I am guilty of the crime laid to my 
charge," the woman involved told the Juge d'instruction ; 

"it was my criminal relations with the Curé D that 

led me to it. When he first asked me to give myself to 
.him, I indignantly refused, but I ended by yielding. I 
soon came to hate my husband. . . . When he was ordered 
elsewhere, the Curé said to me : ' What will become of 
you ? Your husband cannot keep you ; get rid of it all/ 
•But ifs not so easy,' I replied. Seeing I was inclined 
to listen, he added : ' If you were to give him a dose of 
poison, it wouldn't be out of the way/ ' But/ I objected, 

1 I have the profoundest respect for Religion ; yet I do not hesitate to give 
an account of this odious crime committed by a priest. Anyone acquainted with 
human weakness is not surprised to find some priests unworthy of their 
caDiiig, — was there not a traitor among the twelve Apostles ? There are bad 
priests, just as there are bad magistrates and bad soldiers. Fléchier, re- 
counting in the Grands jours cC Auvergne the crimes of some wicked priests, 
said quite justly that Religion is in no way affected by the unworthiness of 
some of its ministers. What I do not understand is the excessive indulgence 
of the diocesan authorities towards bad priests ; instead of expelling them 
altogether, they are often content to remove them elsewhere. This Curé of 
Les Baux had previously earned an evil reputation in the post he had held 
beiore coming into the South, but all that was done was to send him to 
another. When a priest is denounced for evil behaviour to his Bishop, the 
latter makes enquiries among the neighbouring clergy, who being good men, 
cannot bring themselves to believe in their colleague's criminal conduct, and 
the Bishop for want of sound information cannot himself credit an accusation 
the actual truth of which he has never verified. The Bench of Magistrates 
are the only persons aware of the real facts through information received from 
the Gendarmerie, the " Juge de Paix " and the Police. 



4 the chemists won't sell it.' The Curé retorted : ' Bah I 
you're a goose ; doesn't every grocer sell vitriol and rat 

" On my declaring I should never dare to come to Con- 
fession with such a crime on my conscience, he said at 
once, ' I will give you absolution.' Still I could not make 
up my mind to commit the crime; I told him again I 
should never dare to go to Confession, and he promised 
me absolution a second time. From that date my 
husband's death was a thing decided. The Curé warned 
me not to put in too much poison, to prevent a sudden 
death arousing suspicion. At his advice I scented the 
mixture with orange flower water. On the 6th of February 
I gave my poor husband his first dose of poison. My 
husband complained of wind and pain in the stomach and 
colic, but he went to bed and fell asleep. Next day I 
visited the Curé to tell him what I had done ; I said my 
husband was not very ill, and he exclaimed, * The wretch 
has a stomach of iron. . . .' When finally my husband 
died, the Curé told me if they exhumed his body, I must 
make great demonstrations of grief in order to divert 
suspicion." The Curé admitted he might have felt a 
certain attachment to the woman, but always within the 
limits of a godly affection, declaring she had never had the 
honour of being his mistress, though he was quite aware 
she might have wished to be. The woman answered: 
"I was attached to you, it is true; but you loved me 
too, passionately." She stated that the Curé had pro- 
mised her that so soon as her husband's death should 
have been forgotten, he would summon her to join him 
in his new place of abode and to take her again into his 
service, representing her if need be as his cousin. She 
gave, moreover, this curious detail as to the beginning 

of their adulterous relations ; all the time the curé D 

was trying to inspire her with disgust at her husband, he 
kept urging her to lavish attentions on him so as to divert 
suspicion, and was constantly giving her money that she 
might be able to give him good things to eat ; " Now 


go and buy the beast a nice cutlet," he would tell 

When the priest was confronted with his accomplice, 
the interview was fertile in startling incidents, and Molière 
might have learnt fresh traits of character from it to com- 
plete his portrait of Tartufe. The accused woman said to 
the Curé : " You are the reason for my being here." — The 

Abbé D : " Unhappy woman ! how dare you say such 

a thing. Jesus Christ . . ." — The accused : " Yes ! you 
talk about Jesus Christ now, but you didn't think of Him 
that day you threw me down on the sofa." — The Abbé : 
"It is not true! I have not the smallest immorality to 
reproach myself with in connection with you. Look, what 
a position you have put one of God's ministers in ! " — show- 
ing her his prisoner's dress. — The accused : " Don't talk of 
God ! You are unfit to wear a priest's robes after what 
you made me do to my poor husband. He was not ill- 
natured ; but for you I should never have dreamt of killing 
him." — The Abbé, turning to the crucifix : " God is still 
my master, and Him I adore ; He knows my innocence 
and purity." — The accused : " You, innocent ! . . . You know 
very well it was by your advice I poisoned my husband. 
You loved me, and I loved you ; you wanted to carry me 
away with you and I wanted to go, — that's what undid us ! 
. . . You deny it all, because you always told me one 
should deny everything and stick to it, no matter what 
proof they could bring against you. We are both of us 
guilty ; the only difference between you and me is that I 
confess my crime, while you deny it insolently." — The 
Abbé : " I pray God for your husband and for you, 
Madame." — The accused : " The day you left for your new 
post, you told me with tears, ' My poor Pauline, we shall 
never see each other more ! ' and I cried bitterly too. If 
only you would speak the truth, you must admit all this 
is perfectly true." — After the interview the Curé said to the 
officer who was taking him back to prison : " Poor woman, 
if I could only talk to her alone in private for one minute, 
she would withdraw what she says. I find she is still in 


love with me." The Curé was right ; the woman loved him 
still. To melt her heart, he gave vent to groans and 
moans in the night which were heard even in the women's 
cells, and she got up to listen and was moved to tears. 
The Curé then got a message conveyed to his accomplice; 
with the object of misleading justice, he accused another 
perfectly innocent man of the husband's death. On the 
day of the trial, the woman repeated her confession, giving 
the most precise details as to the priest's guilt; then at 
the very end of the hearing, she asked permission to speak 
and to the amazement of all declared she was alone to 
blame. The Advocate-General, who was prosecuting, 
having gone to the prison to ask her explanation of this 
change of front, she told him she had wished to secure 
the Cure's acquittal, because she loved him still. 

Marie Broyer, during her examination, wrote letter after 
letter to the Juge d'instruction, to exculpate her lover 
from a theft he was accused of. 

As a general rule, the accomplice of an adulterous wife 
endeavours to extenuate his own guilt by throwing on her 
the chief share of responsibility. On the other hand it is 
no uncommon thing to see the woman, more generous than 
the man, assume against all truth and likelihood the whole 
guilt of the crime and exculpate her lover entirely in order 
to secure his acquittal. 

Suicide of the husband — To rid herself of her husband, 
an unfaithful wife does not always need to murder him ; 
she kills him with sorrow and chagrin, more slowly but 
not less surely than if she had poisoned him. When the 
husband is a man of a resigned disposition, he will sometimes 
quietly die of grief. If the pain and indignation he feels 
are too excessive for him to bear, he ends it all by suicide» 
On the body of a house-painter found drowned in the 
Seine in August 1896 was found the following letter: 
" My death is the result of the grief my wife's misconduct 
causes me." — Another husband, before killing himself» 
wrote to his wife : " You always knew it, I have told 


you'over and over again, I am ashamed, bitterly ashamed, 
of your behaviour." — The number of husbands who commit 
suicide cursing, nay ! rather still loving in spite of all, their 
unfaithful wife, is greater than people suppose, even among 
the Parisian working-men. To give a few examples. A 
journeyman butcher, thirty-three years of age, in despair 
at the misconduct and desertion of his wife, throws himself 
into the Seine, the following letter being found upon him : 
"My dear Jeanne, you have quite misunderstood me, I had 
forgiven you, but you chose to begin again ; I wish you 
well, but you will repent your conduct some day, — when 
it is too late. Farewell, farewell, — from one who loves 
you and has always loved you/ 1 Another workman, 
rendered miserable by his wife's misconduct, commits 
suicide after writing to her : " As you cannot behave 
reasonably, and you make me pass in the house for what 
I am not, I prefer to die. Kiss my little Madeleine for 
me fondly, I shall never see her more. I have cried 
bitterly thinking of her. What will become of her?" — 
A day labourer writes : " I am killing myself because of 
my wife's unfaithfulness. I beg my brother to take care 
of my little girl and be a father to her. I have not 
strength to write more, my powers fail me, for it is hard 
for an honest man to come to this ; I must be brave." 
— The working-men of Paris have many faults, but they 
have also many high qualities, and notably much delicacy 
of feeling and a highly developed sense of honour. You 
would scarcely believe how many good husbands there 
are amongst them, whose honour is so deeply wounded 
by their wife's unfaithfulness as to lead them to commit 
suicide. In a great number of judicial reports on cases of 

suicide, I read statements like the following : " X was 

a good workman ; for some time past he had had frequent 
scenes with his wife, reproaching her for her loose be- 
haviour ; he loved her dearly and was ashamed at her 
light conduct, and had declared he would kill himself 
some day." — "Dear little wife of my heart," writes another 
unhappy husband, who had been deserted by his wife, 


"these two or three lines will be the last you will ever 
receive from me, for I am going on a journey none ever 
return from. Think of me a little, and from the bottom 
of the tomb I will thank you for your thoughts. . Farewell ; 
your husband who has never ceased to love you and who 
kisses you for the last time." — I have myself noted the. 
case of a husband who, on his wife's deserting him, deter- 
mines to kill himself by means of charcoal fumes. While 
he is engaged in his preparations, his wife rings at the 
door ; but he will not open, for he loves her still and fears, 
if he sees her again, he will forgive her. Whilst awaiting 
death, he writes her a letter, urging her to reform. 

The character of Jacques in George Sand's novel* who 
commits suicide to make room for another man, has been 
adversely criticised. Such a case is obviously exceptional ; 
but it does occur, as I have seen myself. A husband, and 
the father of one child, put an end to himself, after writing 
to tell his wife he was killing himself, because he could not 
win her love, and to enable her to marry again. He ended 
his letter with recommendations to bring up his child welL 

The despair experienced by a husband deserted by his 
wife may lead to madness. To give an instance. A« 

certain R , a farmer and an honest hard-working man, 

was married to a woman whom he loved passionately, but 
who left him to go off with a lover. So great was his- 
despair that his whole character underwent a change ; he 
was a different man, his neighbours said of him ; he gave 
up working, and had only one idea left, one subject of 
conversation, his wife's unfaithfulness ; he would burst out 
crying at meals and leave the table without being able to 
eat, tossing the plates in the air. His state of nervous 
tension was extreme : " I am undone," he would exclaim, 
"I am a dishonoured man." Presently, from excessive 
loquacity he passed into a condition of prolonged taci- 
turnity ; not a word could be drawn out of him, and he sat 
hour after hour silent and preoccupied, buried in his own 
thoughts. Little by little the idea of vengeance took hold 
on his mind. Unable to wreak this on the young man 


who had carried off his wife, he determined to punish his 
father by burning his crops. He was brought up for arson 
before the Assize Court, but acquitted by the jury. 

It is notorious that the insanity with which Auguste 
Comte, the famous founder of Positivism, was attacked in 
1826, was due to overwork, and still more to the grief 
caused him by his wife's bad behaviour, who forsook him 
to go off with a lover. 1 Quite recently, a prisoner who 
had tried to kill his wife, admitted to me that the shock the 
discovery of the tatter's adultery had given him had shaken 
the balance of his wits ; indeed it was proved in the course 
of the trial that as the result of this mental disturbance he 
had fallen sick, refusing either to eat or drink and remain- 
ing plunged in the deepest despair. There is no doubt 
great moral suffering may lead to mental aberration. 

Nor does an unfaithful wife, when abandoning her 
husband and children to follow a lover, content herself 
with disgracing them ; she robs both husband and children 
and strips the house, carrying away money and even the 
very furniture of the rooms. I have known a woman, 
abandoning her husband and four girls, remove his 
furniture and the bed the children slept in, — and another 
who actually made off with the bed-clothes from her 
children's bed. The husband, left along with his young 
family, struggles to overcome the grief and shame that 
stifle him, in order to hide their mother's wickedness from 
them ; to console them and himself, he redoubles his 
tenderness and devotion towards his children, but often 
sinks exhausted under the weight of sorrow and debt 
combined. One despairing husband writes : " I married, 

a bachelor myself, Mile. , a widow; she left me on 

four several occasions, each time without money and in 
debt To pay these I sold part of my furniture. I mean to 
have done with it all ; this will make her for the second time 
a widow." Another husband writes: "Cheated and deceived 
by my wife, who has carried off my all, and unable to meet 
my obligations, I find myself forced to put an end to my 

1 G. Dumas, Revue philosophique \ 1 898, p. 33. 


life."— Often the flight of the unfaithful wife involves the 
ruin of the family ; the lover is not in all cases satisfied .. 
merely to gratify his passion, he urges the woman to empty^ 
her husband's strong-box and carry off his savings. Having^ 
taken the wife, he makes no scruple about taking tb^^ 
injured man's money too. All these reasons focussed i^^ 
one, shame, grief, ruin, drive a certain proportion of ui^^ 
fortunate husbands to suicide. The fact that their children ^ 
still remain with them does not always suffice to preserv^^ 
them from despair. A stone-cutter, thirty-five years ^f 
age, on being abandoned by his wife, commits suicide ksy 
charcoal fumes, after writing to his two children who live*/ 
with him : " Farewell, children, forgive me ; but I cannot 
live without your mother." — I have myself noticed the 
case of a working-man, who being abandoned by his wife 
and separated from his child whom the latter had taken 
away with her, was found dead, holding his child's photo- 
graph in his hands. — Lastly, the workman who has been 
abandoned by his wife, saddened and discouraged, often 
loses all his love of work, takes to drinking to drown his 
sorrow, and so comes to poverty and wretchedness. A 
working printer, forsaken by his wife and who a short 
while since tried to put an end to himself by means of 
charcoal fumes, gave the following answer to a Police Com- 
missary who questioned him as to the motives leading to 
the rash attempt : " The act of despair I have been guilty 
of is due to the many griefs my wife has caused me ever 
since our marriage, and to extreme poverty as well." 

To taste the happiness offered her by adultery, a wife 
breaks her husband's heart, sacrifices her children's honour, 
yet when she thinks she has it, — this bliss bought with 
the tears of her nearest and dearest, — often the cup of joy 
is dashed from her lips. The day comes when the woman 
who has forsaken her husband is in her turn abandoned 
by her lover, and having quitted the hearth and home 
where she was honoured and loved, she now finds herself 
without a home at all, and must choose between suicide 
and the life of an adventuress, if her husband refuses to 


*^te her back again. She writes to him to express her 
^Horse and wish to resume their old life together ; if her 
L ^isband makes no reply, she renews her prayers and 
applications, and ends by putting an end to herself in 
despair. I have noticed quite lately the case of a school 
beacher of the South- West of France, who having forsaken 
lier husband, a worthy man, a master carpenter by trade, 
and two children of tender age, in order to follow her lover 
to Paris, was in her turn abandoned by him and killed 
herself m a cab with a revolver. 

A wife who leaves her husband to go off with a lover 
is particularly exposed to the risk of being in her turn 
forsaken when she is older than her lover; here again 
suicide is very often the epilogue to adultery. " My wife 
left me on the 28th of January," a husband told a Police 
Commissary, who was inquiring particulars of her suicide ; 
"she deceived me with a young man, who in due course 
left her in the lurch. I am not surprised at her having 
poisoned herself, for she had made three attempts pre- 
viously to put an end to her life with petroleum or 

But a large number of unfaithful wives come to a less 
tragic end ; they finish by becoming prostitutes. Cest le 
premier pas que coûte in adultery, as in other things. A 
woman rarely stops short at the first offence ; she always 
goes on from a first to a second, from a second to a third, 
and so from one lapse from virtue to another, soon arrives 
at prostitution. Among "gay " women on the Police register 
are a considerable proportion of married women. 

When an adulterous woman is not forsaken by her lover, 
she herself will look out for a successor to him. Adultery 
has its disillusions no less than marriage, and these set 
a woman longing for revenge; then, anxious to make 
a better choice this time and find at last the ideal man of 
her dreams, after playing her husband false for a lover, 
she plays this lover false in favour of another. It is easier 
for a woman to have no lover at all than to have only one. 
Like the drunkard who seeks intoxication in bottle after 


bottle, the adulteress is unfaithful to the lover that she=™ 
may be faithful to Love. 

A small minority of unfaithful wives are able to keejrz^ 
free of promiscuous gallantry, but even these very seldom^ 
find the happiness they had hoped for; instead of es 
periencing a more generous love than their husband showc 
them, they frequently meet with an affection at once mot 
selfish, more suspicious and more brutal. The lover cam^Mi 
feel but small confidence or respect towards a woman whs*? 
has deceived her husband, so he is jealous and makes bis 
mistress miserable. I have known cases where the woman 
was so unhappy as to commit suicide. 

Nor is it always an easy thing for an unfaithful wife who 
has quitted her husband's roof to break the connection that 
has' now grown hateful. The lover opposes her departure, 
telling her she belongs to him and has no right to leave 
him, and going so far as to bully her and even threaten to 
murder her. This is the beginning of the adulteress's 
punishment ; her irregular liaison becomes a torment^ 
aggravated by regret for her lost good name, and disgust 
and disappointment with herself and the world. 

Some years ago, the Assize Court of the Alpes-Maritimes 
adjudicated on the case of a young woman of twenty-one» 
who finding herself unable to break off her connection with 
a lover who now only inspired her with dislike, ended by 
ridding herself of him by stabbing him with a knife, as he 
lay asleep by her side. 

Moreover, there comes a time when the wife who has 
forsaken her husband's roof, begins to turn her thoughts to 
the man she has left. The husband who at close quarters 
was indifferent to her or even odious, regains his attractions 
when viewed from a distance ; she appreciates him better 
now she has left him, and finds to her great astonishment 
she no longer dislikes him. I find among the official, 
reports of suicides filed and classified at the Public* 
Prosecutor's office of the Department of the Seine two : 
letters from two women who had left their husbands, and 
were so deeply sorry for what they had done as to kill 


themselves in consequence. The first, after trying in vain 
to poison herself, ended her life by means of charcoal 
fumes, leaving the following lines behind : " It is six 
o'clock. My wits are wandering, and my sight troubled. 
Death is not far off now. I always loved him. Since our 
divorce, I have not had one happy day." — The other who 
had also abandoned her husband, shot herself with a 
pistol, after writing to her mother : " I am going to die. 
Better leave this world than turn out ill. I declare to you 
it hurts me sadly to die; I am young, and I might perhaps 
have been happy some day. But it is so dismal to live 
always alone, without a friend. Bury me near my father, 
I shall feel less lonely. 1 send you a big kiss, our last. 
Think of me sometimes, and when you have time, bring a 
few flowers to lay on my tomb. You will find my room in 
great disorder, but for some time I have taken no interest 
in anything." 

Adultery may likewise become a torment and a punish- 
ment, even in cases where the wife has not left her 
husband's roof, if the lover, whose unworthiness she has 
realized, is determined to remain her master. Such a 
master is a far harder one for a woman, a far more selfish 
one, than the husband she used to complain of; he orders 
her about like a slave, and she obeys him for fear of 
causing scandal. She used to picture herself reigning a 
sovereign queen over a generous heart, and lo ! she finds 
herself crushed under the most humiliating yoke. Sick of 
suffering, 1 she sometimes chooses as the lesser evil to 
avow everything to her husband, declaring : " Come what 
may, I will confess my sin and expiate it ; my husband 
must do what he likes with me. Anything is better than 
the torment of continuing my connection with an unworthy 

These, the usual consequences of adultery, viz., the wife's 
suicide, the family's ruin, poverty, drunkenness and death 
of the husband, are all touched upon by Flaubert in his 

1 This situation, as we all know, has been put on the stage by E. de Girardin 
and Alexandre Dumas fils in their play entitled Le Supplice d'une Femme. 

L?fc* V 








11 ^e^ Valcdag aW Aaiv0l 


ad u\tety 

>«d 5***? 



a- V^g-ce^ 


l do«; 






"Thou shalt not kill." 

The Forgiving Husband. — The Avenging Husband. 

"The husband is always the last to hear of his wife's mis- 
conduct. He feels a natural confidence in the woman he 
has chosen, while his own self-esteem will not allow him 
to doubt of her faithfulness ; besides, he believes the 
mother of his children incapable of an action that must 
dishonour them. But before long an anonymous letter, 
some speech of an indiscreet friend, the discovery of a 
letter, makes him aware of his calamity. In dramas of 
adultery as represented on the stage, authors frequently 
employ the machinery of letters which are lost and subse- 
quently discovered by the husband to give rise to strik- 
ing situations. And in so doing, they only follow what 
actually happens very often. Thus, for instance, I have 
myself come across a case like this : a woman writes a 
letter to her lover, but afterwards tears it up and writes 
another, throwing the fragments of the first into the grate ; 
these the husband collects, puts together again and dis- 
covers in this way the proof of his wife's unfaithfulness. 
In another case, the wife on starting with her husband 
for a journey had left in her lover's hands a number of 
envelopes directed by a servant whom she had left behind 
in the house, in order that the husband, recognizing the 
maid's hand-writing might feel no suspicions. But the lover's 
letters came so frequently in the servant's envelopes, that 
the husband became suspicious, opened a letter and dis- 
covered the truth. 

When a husband suspects his wife's fidelity, he often 


makes use of a subterfuge in order to catch her, whichr^l 
almost always succeeds. He pretends he has to go oir^v 
a journey, gets his wife to accompany him to the railwa^^ 
station or the railway omnibus, so as to make her frrfc 
sure he has really started, then gets out at the first statio-^c^ 
and returns to his house, where he discovers his wife i^fi; 
company with her lover. 

The accomplice of the unfaithful wife is often t£»f 
husband's bosom friend ; and novelists and play-writeyy 
are perfectly accurate in representing it so. Opportunity 
makes the thief, with lady-killers as with cutpurses. 
Sometimes the would-be seducer constitutes himself the 
husband's friend for the express purpose of getting over 
his wife; he insinuates himself into the home circle, the 
more easily to attain his unholy purpose. Similarly it is 
often by her most intimate female friend that a married 
woman is betrayed, and it is the friend of her heart who 
robs her of her husband's love. 

So long as he does not actually surprise his wife in 
flagrante delicto^ the husband hesitates to credit his 
calamity, invites his wife to justify herself, readily believes 
her protestations of innocence and allows himself to be 
melted by her tears. Quick to take alarm, he is equally 
quick to cool down again. Molière, who pokes so much 
fun at the unfortunate husbands who are duped by their 
wives, himself played the part, by his own admission, of 
a duped and acquiescent mate. Being informed of his 
wife's uncontrollable passion for the Comte de Guiche, 
he made up his mind to upbraid her; "but her mere 
presence," he tells us, " made me quite forget my résolu* 
tion, and the very first words she said in her defence left 
me so entirely convinced my suspicions were ill-founded, 
that I asked her pardon for having been so ready to 
believe evil of her." — I give an extract from the records 
of some legal proceedings, being part of a letter written 
by a married woman to her lover : " After blows and 
silly accusations come caresses and excuses, accompanied 
by the offer of a new frock." — Mary Queen of Scots, 


ariting to her lover Bothwell, tells him how her husband, 
though he undoubtedly had the gravest reasons to suspect 
her, would regain perfect confidence at the smallest mark 
of hypocritical fondness she displayed towards him. " Of 
a sudden I do make him two or three pretty speeches, 
whereat he is right glad and fears no more." Not that 
it is out of generosity a husband is so forgiving ; the fact 
is he is smitten with his wife's beauty and a slave to his 
own senses, because he is of a weak character and in- 
capable of proper pride. Love does not as a rule shine 
much in dignity ; the great idea is, at all costs, to keep 
possession of the person loved. Few men are able to 
kill love by contempt ; in most cases love survives in spite 
of it. I find among the records of a trial the following 
letter from a married woman to her lover, showing very 
clearly the weakness of disposition of some husbands and 
their never failing readiness to forgive: "I got home 
yesterday evening, and found the poor old boy half asleep 
and half awake. He had eaten nothing all day long. 
The moment he saw me, he began crying like a child, 
and said, ' If you have been deceiving me, confess, and 
I will forgive you.' I swore I had never deceived him 
in my life." 

Not a few husbands are like the Emperor Claudius, who, 
writes Tacitus, "at one time would be furious at his wife's 
immoralities, at another softened and tender-hearted at 
the thought of their relations to one another and their 
young children." He would undoubtedly have forgiven 
Messalina, if Narcissus had not made haste to have her 
executed ; he had spoken of her as " poor Messalina," 
giving orders that she should appear before him to plead 
her own justification. Narcissus understood these and his 
other words to imply that the Emperor's anger was cooling 
and love was about to reawake, for when a husband invites 
his wife to justify herself, he is already half-way to forgive 
her and to credit her excuses and regret for the past. 

There are husbands so feeble-minded that, after turning 
their guilty partner out of doors, they will go and beg 


her to return to their roof. Others, after taking an oat! 
to punish the faithless wife who has left them and utterim 
terrible threats of what they will do, are only too cage 
to welcome her back, the moment she returns home ; tk 
mere sight of her appeases their anger instantly. 

When an unfaithful wife who has been driven from 1* 
husband's house wishes to obtain pardon and forgivenfc 
she tries to slip in again and take refuge in the marif 
bed, so as to lead up to a reconciliation. It was becaxi 
he " feared the coming night and with it the association 
of the conjugal bed," that Narcissus, to forestall a pardon 
on the part of Claudius, gave the order to kill Messaiina 
without a moment's delay. 

A more respectable motive for forgiveness on the part 
of the husband is the fear of bringing scandal on his 
children. Just at first, on learning his wife's unfaithfulness 
he cries in a fury of rage and indignation, " I must kil 
her, I must kill her ! " But the remembrance of his childrei 
soon occurs to him and he restrains his passion. Husband 
who have actually bought a dagger or revolver to ki 
their guilty wife with, will renounce their purpose for tl 
sake of their children. I have even known the case of 
husband who, though knowing himself to have tx 
poisoned by his unfaithful wife, had yet refused to 
nounce her, preferring to die without a word rather t 
provoke a scandal that would be certain to recoil on 
children. In some judicial proceedings I have just 1 
examining, I find the following declaration made 
wife : " My husband having left me for a time to pn 
his trade of a knife-grinder in the country, I had rel; 

with G . Having become pregnant and dreadir 

husband's return, I wrote to him to say that I had y 
in a moment of light-headedness, and that I besoug 
to forgive me. When my husband came home, I 
myself into his arms crying bitterly and asked 
giveness. He reproached me sternly, but ended 
daring he was willing to keep me for the sake 
two children, refusing however to let me lie in at 1 


Or to rear the child I was about to give birth to." — Another 

husband, P , who killed his wife's lover and was brought 

to trial for the crime, had forgiven the woman, telling her 
that "if henceforth she would behave like an honest 
woman, looking after her children carefully and managing 
her house well, though he was quite certain three out of the 
five were the lover's, yet he would love them all and make 
no difference between them, seeing it was no fault of theirs 
if three of them did belong to another man." 

When a husband forgives his wife, in the interest of his 
children, in order to avoid scandal, he very seldom gets 
any reward for his generosity ; for, as a rule, an adulteress's 
repentance is very much what a drunkard's oath is. One 
lapse from virtue leads to another. Penitence soon wears 
off, and bad habits resume their sway ; the mud she has 
once fallen into calls her back irresistibly to wallow in 
the same again, and no mere ephemeral remorse can wash 
away the effects entirely. The forgiving husband can by 
no means rely on his wife's remorse, or confidently expect 
any reformation. In many judicial cases where an un- 
faithful wife had been murdered by her husband, I have 
ascertained that the latter had already forgiven a first 
offence, which had then been very speedily followed by 
a fresh one of the same sort. 

The great majority of adulteresses are incapable of 
appreciating the generosity of forgiveness ; all they see in 
it is a sign of weakness, and they think they can do with 
their husband what they please. A wife detected by her 
husband the moment after she had given him a poisoned 
draught, said to him : " You have forgiven me so often ; 
forgive me this once more." 

Besides, many women are of such a heedless disposition 
and fickle character that anything like real repentance is out 
of the question. The Assize Court of the Department of 
the Seine adjudicated some few years ago on the case of a 
husband who had killed his wife after surprising her in 
Hagrante delicto ; it came out in the course of the proceed- 
ings that he had already forgiven her once. His wife, 



falling on her knees before him and weeping scalding tears^^. 
had promised to reform her conduct ; but the very nexto» 
day she was out buying " pencils " to paint her eyebro w^ 
with and only thinking of the most attractive toilet t*^ 
please her lover. We see wives who have just escaped a*^_ ^ 
attempt on their husband's part to shoot them almo^^ 
immediately returning to their vicious mode of life. / 
remember observing the case of a woman who, after being- 
caught in flagrante delicto with her lover by her husband 
who fired several shots at her with a revolver, proceeded 
only a very few minutes afterwards to attend to the cares 
of her toilette with a calm and precision that astounded 
a police inspector, well used as he was to extraordinary 
sights. She plied her powder-puff, gazed in the looking- 
glass, and arranged her hair, as if she had entirely forgotten 
the awful drama that had just occurred. 

The majority of adulterous wives stifle their conscience 
and feel but little remorse, or even if they do feel it, go on 
indulging their passion notwithstanding ; they may regret the 
consequences of their wrong-doing, their husband's anger, the 
scandal that ensues and the reprobation of public opinion, 
but without experiencing any very keen sense of guilt or 
any very deep desire to alter their conduct. It is chiefly 
when their passion has cooled that they first begin to be 
really penitent. True, in some women of more delicate moral 
susceptibility, remorse may be deep enough to affect their 
health injuriously ; but this is exceptional, though I have 
known instances. An unfaithful wife may fall ill of 
remorse, as the result of spending her days and nights in 
tears. I have also known the case of a woman of this 
sort who poisoned herself on learning that her husband 
had discovered her offence ; she left on the dining-room 
table a letter to the following effect : " Regretting to find 
my husband is aware of my wrong-doing, I prefer to dis- 
appear, that he may excuse my fault. I hope he, his 
family and mine, will forgive me." — Another married 
woman who had fallen from virtue, discovering that her 
husband was aware of her unfaithfulness to him, put an 


end to her life, begging that she might be buried far away 
from the village where she had done wrong. — Dr Frend 
speaks of an adulteress who, tortured by remorse and 
unable for an instant to forget the sin she had committed, 
which filled her whole mind with morbid persistency, used 
to wash her hands and genital parts a hundred times a 
day ; l like Lady Macbeth, she longed by this washing 
and physical purity to regain the moral purity she had 

An unfaithful wife who is a prey to remorse is urged by 
her conscience to confess her sin to her husband, to humble 
herself before him, to ask his forgiveness and do penance 
for her offence. This confession is the first act of expiation 
and relieves the strain of her feelings. But it is seldom the 
avowal does not lead to some catastrophe ; either the 
husband drives the traitress from his house and starts off 
to challenge the lover, or else he forgives the penitent. 
But such forgiveness is never lasting, and the house 
remains divided against itself. Sometimes the discord 
arising between man and wife as the result of the latter's 
confession of her sin, ends in the woman's suicide. Here 
is an instance. A wife had been guilty before her marriage 
of a lapse from virtue which her husband, a man of a very 
jealous disposition, at last forced her to confess. From 
that moment reproaches and recriminations rained upon 
the poor woman, alternate quarrels and reconciliations 
followed each other unceasingly, and life soon became so 
unbearable that she poisoned herself in sheer despair. She 
had but just time before expiring to say one word to her 
husband: "Kiss me." 

Some writers, Beaumarchais in particular in La mère 
coupable, have pictured the unfaithful wife as fainting with 
grief and shame at the moment of making confession of 
her fault to her husband. Such a thing may happen, but 
I have never seen it 1 have known the case of a husband 
who swooned with grief on receiving his wife's avowal of 

1 Revue H€uroiogiqM4 % 30th January 1895. 


The husbands vengeance. — When a husband, informed o ^ 
his wife's unfaithfulness, gives a rein to his anger, he fc^ 
affected in different ways. Sometimes he thinks only c^^ 
killing the erring woman, without paying much attentio%^ 
to the lover ; sometimes he turns his whole fury upon tlr^ 
lover, and spares the wife he still loves; sometimes b^| 
wreaks his vengeance on both of the guilty pair. In ** ac =sr 4 
of discovery in flagrante delicto, as a rule he strikes tZ^fc 
woman at the same time as her paramour. 

Schopenhauer maintains that " honour requires only the 
punishment of the woman and not that of the lover. 1 On 
the contrary honour seems rather to demand the tatter's 
punishment We say of a husband who strikes down his 
wife's lover that he has avenged his honour. His honour is? 
outraged at least as much by the lover's act as by that of" 
the guilty woman. It is the thought of his honour that 
kindles in his heart an imperious craving for revenge against - 
his wife's accomplice. " I will have his life," cries the ^ 
wronged husband, "or he shall have mine. I must kilL4 
him ; he has dishonoured me." 

Othello, when he has killed Desdemona, exclaims ad- — 
dressing his friends : M Call me, if you will, a murderer -« 
but for honour's sake; I did everything for honour ancf 
naught for hate." Whenever, at various periods of history, 
husbands have ceased to hold their honour compromised 
by their wives' unfaithfulness, marital vengeance has been 
unknown. At the end of the Roman Republic, adultery 
on the part of the wife was accepted with complete 
indifference by the husband. " Lucullus," Montaigne 
writes, " Caesar, Pompey, Antonius, Cato, and other noble 
Romans, were all cuckolds, and knew it without making 
an ado ; there was only one silly fellow, Lepidus, in those 
days, who died of the pain of it." 2 The most famous 
Patrician dames of the period lived adulterous lives» — 
Mucia, Pompey's wife, Servilia, mother of Brutus, Valeria, 
sister of Hortensius, Claudia, wife of Lucullus, Tertiella, 

1 Schopenhauer, Aphorisms > p. 91, F. Alcan, Paris. 
a Montaigne, Essais, Bk. iii. , ch. v. 


e of Crassus, etc. ; yet, according to Ovid, "never an 
llterer. pierced by the husband's sword dyed with his 
od the waters of Styx." 1 At the same time . this in- 
gence towards adultery is not so much a mark of 
itleness of character as of contempt for women. The 
laviour of Cato of Utica with regard to his wife Martia 
characteristic; he lent her to his friend Hortensius, 
have children by her, taking her back again after his 
rod's death, because the latter had made her his heiress, 
trtensius, before procuring Cato's wife to be lent to him, 
1 previously asked him for his daughter, who however 
s also already married, telling him : " it was honourable 
i useful to the common weal that a fair and honourable 
ing woman in the flower of her age should not remain 
e, letting her natural aptitude to conceive children go 

naught, nor yet that she should trouble and impoverish 
• husband by leaving him more children than he had 
/ use of." Such being the state of public morality, 
sbands did not think of killing their unfaithful wives, 
ry were content to repudiate them. This is what the 
•man Emperors, as a rule, did ; thus Scribonia was re- 
lated by Augustus, Livia Hostilia by Caligula, Plautia 
gulanilla by Claudius, Domitia by Domitian, Flavia 
lpitiana by Pertinax, etc. — In the Middle Ages the 
itiment of conjugal honour grew more awake, and this 
nbined with the violence of contemporary manners 
de acts of marital vengeance frequent. In the six- 
mth century too husbands were prompt to stab unfaith- 

wife and accomplice together. After commending a 
tain number of ancient emperors and kings for having 
t away their adulterous wives without killing them, 
antôme 2 adds : " Nowadays none of our great folks 

the like ; but the smallest punishment they do inflict 

their wives, is to put them in perpetual confinement on 
?ad and water, and there they do them to death, poison 

Ovid, Ars A mûris. 

Dames Galantes, First Discourse. See Brantôme, "Fair and Gallani 

lies," translated by A. R. Allinson, M.A. — C. Carrington, Paris, 1901. 


them, kill them whether of their own hand or by the Law.' fc « 
He quotes a large number of kings, princes, lords, who hac^a 
stabbed, poisoned or even strangled with their own hand^ ^ 
their guilty wives ; he protests against these butcheri e^^. 
and urges unfortunate husbands to be content with 
pudiation, because, he says, God forbids murder, 
because women "are creatures more near resembling th^^ ( 
divinity by reason of their beauty." In the seventeen*^} 
century manners were less brutal. In the eighteenth, rmot 
only were they still further softened, but indulgence on 
the husband's part became mere cynicism ; not merely did 
he excuse, he actually authorized his wife's unfaithfulness. 
The fashion of the time was not to love one's wife, to make 
light of her fidelity and leave serious marriage to the 
people and the Protestants. 

In our own day, acts of marital vengeance have grown 
very common. There are, it is true, and especially in the 
Capital, husbands ready, like Cato, to lend their wives; 
there are even more husbands who live on their wives' 
unfaithfulness than die of their misbehaviour. Suchlike 
complaisant husbands were numerous at Rome ; " In this 
way," Ovid writes, " a man may readily obtain great credit 
at this price . . . and your house will be filled with fine 
things that have cost you nothing" (Elegy, iv. 3). Nowadays 
the feeling of conjugal honour has penetrated all classes; 
and the fear of ridicule unites with the former sentiment 
to kindle the wrath of the outraged husband. In several 
cases before the Courts, I have known the husband relate 
how after the discovery of his disaster he thought every- 
body, as he passed in the street, was looking at him with 
malevolent curiosity, and that his rival was mocking his 
dishonour. In fact, the dread of being the object of 
public ridicule was an important factor in exasperating 
his anger. 

When a husband first acquires proof of his wife's un- 
faithfulness, he either breaks out in fierce threats, or else 
constrains himself to hide his resentment under a forced 
calm, which is only the more menacing for the concealment. 


His anger is concentrating, accumulating in his heart, till 
it finally explodes in furious rage ; — 

" La douleur qui se tait n'en est que plus funeste." 1 

The frequency of these acts of marital vengeance may 
further be attributed to the increased frequency of adultery 
in modern times, as well as to the mistaken belief that a 
husband possesses the right to kill his wife, if caught in 
the act The number of persons accused of adultery 
before the Courts rose in 1895 to a total of 1964. In his 
last report on the Administration of Criminal Justice, 
the "Garde des Sceaux" (Chancellor) writes: "Adultery 
still continues its continually progressive increase." 2 

Among legal misconceptions prevalent among the public, 
none is more widely spread than that which attributes to 
the injured husband the right to kill his wife and her 
accomplice, if caught in flagrante delicto. I have myself 
seen a husband who had murdered his wife's lover and 
tried to kill her, state under examination that he had the 
right of life and death over them. This strange mistake, 
the cause of so many murders, has been disseminated 
by Ithe majority of writers, novelists, dramatic authors, 
critics, moralists, preachers, doctors of medicine, who have 
written on the subject of marriage. "The Law," says 
Dr Despine, "permits homicide as an act of vengeance 
to the injured husband." 3 Dr Letourneau commits the 
same mistake in the Preface he has written for a work of 
Dr Lombroso, L'Homme criminel. George Sand is guilty 
of the same error in her Histoire de ma Vie (5th Part, ch. 
x.). In his book De L Amour et de la Jalousie, Stendhal 
denounces the savage tyranny of this barbarous code 
which secures to the injured husband the right to become 
a murderer without fear of consequences, and the same 
sentiment is repeated word for word in his work entitled 
UAmour. Proudhon states his approval of the right 

1 " Indignation that is hidden is only the more deadly for its silence." 

* Journal officiel, 9th November 1897. 

* Despine, La Science du cœur humain, p. 98. 


granted to the husband to kill an adulterous wife, though 
at the same time refusing the lover the right to administer 
so much as a fillip of the finger to his unfaithful mistress; 
on the ground that the latter is free. 1 

Where is this mistake not to be found? It occurs in 
the Indissolubilité et Divorce of the Père Didon, in the 
Annales médico-psychologiques of May — June 1891, p. 441. 
Not a week passes without my meeting with it in some 
newspaper, review or book. In an article of the Semaint 
littéraire of Geneva of October 23rd, 1898, M. Henry 
Bordeaux expresses his indignation at the Code's accord* 
ing the husband the right of vengeance, and in the Éclair 
of November ist, 1898, M. Emile Bergerat does the same. 
Saint-Marc Girardin, who was a Professor at the Sorbonne, 
and a member of the French Academy, also believed the 
Code to legalize marital vengeance ; in his Cours de 
Littérature dramatique, he wrote : " But then ! suppose 
the husband were to do what has often been done in 
the world, a thing the Law has not thought good to 
punish, — if he were to kill the lover?" 

Above all it is our dramatists, anxious to reform the 
Law without possessing any precise acquaintance with its 
provisions, who have given most prominence and devoted 
most vehemence to their protests against the supposed 
ferocity of the Code in this particular. "Without going 
into fuller detail," says the author of Les Tenailles, Mons. 
P. Hervieu, " I think I am justified in maintaining that a 
contract . . . which, in almost express terms, gives one of 
the contracting parties and one only the right of life and 
death over the other . . . cannot and ought not to be the 
last word of Civilization, of Christian Morality and Social 
Wisdom." 2 Taking his stand on this supposed right 
granted by the Law to a husband to kill his wife, 
Alexandre Dumas fils claimed the privilege of divorce ; 
he could not understand how the Law should permit the 
husband to kill and yet refuse the right of divorce. 

1 Proudhon, La Pornocratie, pp. 203, 208. 
* VÊclair, August 14th, 1898. 


^"Poor Law," he said, "which is reduced, not daring to 
free man and wife by a divorce, to allow them by implica- 
tion to free themselves by murder." " Can anyone con- 
ceive," he goes on, " such a contradiction, such an incredible 
deviation from justice, logic and common-sense, a law 
showing in one direction all the indifference and scepticism 
of the most corrupt nations, and in the other all the cruelty 
of the most barbarous peoples and savage tribes, actually 
below the law of the Quajaz, among whom a woman is 
put to death only on the second act of adultery." Further, 
with a really surprising illogicality, the same writer who 
declares the law ferocious, cruel and inconsistent, because 
as he holds it legalizes revenge, actually encourages the 
husband to employ this very right. In Le supplice d'une 
femme, Emile de Girardin and Alexandre Dumas fils are 
guilty of the same mistake ; in this play Dumont (the 
husband) says, addressing Alvarès (the lover) : " I have 
questioned the Law, and asked what means it afforded me ; 
I can kill you both, you and her." Similarly the dénoue- 
ment of Diane de Lys depends upon the mistaken idea 
that the husband possesses the right to kill his unfaithful 
wife and her accomplice, when caught red-handed. In 
Scene 13 of Act iv., the husband refuses to fight the lover, 
declaring: "Why fight with you, when I have the right 
to kill you?" So saying, he slays the lover, invoking 
his supposed right to do so. In La Femme de Claude, 
Alexandre Dumas again represents the murder of the 
adulterous wife as an act of justice accomplished in the 
name and with the sanction of the Law. 

Not only are these two last mentioned plays founded on 
a misconception of the Law, but the same error was at the 
bottom of the campaign Alexandre Dumas conducted 
against the indissolubility of the marriage tie. Inasmuch 
as the Code, he argued, grants the husband the right of 
Freeing himself by murder, why should it not accord him 
the right of gaining the same end by means of divorce ? It 
is surely contradictory to give the husband a right to 
dissolve his marriage by the revolver, and yet refuse him 


the privilege of ending it by divorce. But this contra- 
diction which the famous writer saw in the Law, existed 
only in his own imagination. As a matter of fact, far 
from recognizing any right on the husband's part to kill 
his wife caught in the act of committing adultery, the 
Law punishes such a murder by from one to five years' 

The mistake committed by Dumas and the authors who 
have followed him arises from the fact of their having 
misinterpreted through ignorance of legal phraseology the 
terms of Article 321, § 2, of the Penal Code, which runs 
as follows : " In the case of adultery provided against by 
Article 336, the murder committed by the husband on his 
wife, as also on the accomplice, at the moment when he 
surprises them in flagrante delicto in the conjugal domicile, 
is excusable" Dumas, assigning to the word excusable the 
meaning it bears in ordinary parlance, supposed it to be 
synonymous with "justified," "legitimate." But in the 
language of the Law we must distinguish between an excuse 
and a justifying circumstance. An " excuse " diminishes 
culpability, a "justifying circumstance " abolishes it So, 
for instance, provocation is an excuse, while lawful self- 
defence is a justifying circumstance. When the existence 
of an excuse is proved, says Article 326, if it is a question of 
a crime carrying the penalty of death or of life imprison- 
ment with hard labour, the penalty shall be reduced to 
imprisonment for from one to five years. 

Thus the contradiction Alexandre Dumas drew between 
the civil and the penal law has no actual existence, — excepts 
in his own writings. There we find it ; the very man who^ 
revolts against the cruelty of the Code, which, according"^ 
to him accords the husband a right to kill his wife, him — 
self exhorts the husband of an unfaithful wife to murdei " 
urging him in so many words to " kill her." In L % Affaùr&~* 
Clemenceau and La Femme de Claude, the husband kill — 
the adulterous wife with a beautiful calmness ; you woul^^ 
say he was fulfilling a sacred duty, an act of piety *f* 
putting her to death. The dramatic author, so indulgent 


towards the courtesan, recognizes only one punishment 
for the unfaithful wife, — death. The husband, in his 
plays and novels, kills his wife as if she were a rabbit 
or some form of contemptible vermin. 

It is on the faith of this supposed, but purely imaginary, 
contradiction between the penal law permitting, as they 
fancied, a husband to kill his wife and the civil law 
forbidding him to break his marriage under any circum- 
stances, that many Deputies and Senators voted for the 
re-establishment of Divorce. M. Eugène Pelletan has 
himself been guilty of this common mistake ; the husband, 
he writes in his book entitled La Mère, p. 309, " can still 
kill his wife, and her lover; the Penal Code gives him 
the right to do so." In view of the very small majority 
by which the re-establishment of Divorce was passed, the 
question may well be asked whether the vote was not due 
in part to this prevalent misconception. 

The body of writers who with Alexandre Dumas pro- 
posed the re-establishment of divorce hoped that this 
measure would put an end to acts of marital revenge. Now 
that the husband, they maintained, will be able to re- 
pudiate his guilty partner, why should he resort to violence ? 
"aving it in his power at any moment to serve her with a 
c ki'm for divorce, he will no longer feel called upon to serve 
^ with pistol bullets in the head. Practical experience 
^Mrever has not justified these expectations. The law of 
"'Vorce has not saved unfaithful wives from the knife and 
'^olver of their injured husbands. The total of divorces 
'ureases every year, 1 while no diminution is observed in 

ÏHrect claims for divorce continue to advance in a regular progression, 
J*f^*«» the Minister of Justice in his Statistics for the year 1894, published in 
**^5. From 3190 in 1886 they rose to 8673 in 1894. Of these 8673 claims, 
^^1 were initiated by the husband, 5682 by the wife. 

"ï*he number of applications for legal separation declined at first after the re- 
r**%bJishment of divorce; it rose again however from the year 1890, in which 
^ reached a total of 2041, subsequently rising by progressive stages to 2059, 
***94* 2171» *nd finally 2405 in 1894. 

It is among the working-class population that divorce is most common. It 
* lest frequent among the commercial and industrial classes, but is making 
progress among persons of private means and those practising the liberal pro- 


the frequency of marital reprisals. Husbands are more 
and more in the habit of getting rid of an unfaithful wife 
and her paramour by violent means, in spite of the facilities 
they now possess to end their marriage by divorce. Quite 
lately at Marseilles, in broad daylight, in the open street, 
an injured husband planted a knife in his wife's bosom. 
Another threw his out of the window. 

True, juries constantly acquit husbands who have killed 
their unfaithful wives, but the Law is not responsible for 
these acquittals ; the Law decrees a punishment for the 
murder of an adulterous wife ; it is for jurymen to apply it 
Moreover, juries do sometimes condemn the husband who 
murders his wife under such circumstances. Here is an 
instance arising out of an affair that occurred at Cannes 
some years ago, at the very time Alexandre Dumas was 

residing there. A married couple, the D s, lived on 

bad terms with one another, a consequence of a strongly 
marked divergence of tastes ; the husband disliked society, 
while his wife was devoted to evening parties, "at homes" 
and theatre-going. The chance of social intercourse in- 
troduced Mons. A to their acquaintance, and he soon 

became intimate. His marked attentions soon awoke 

Mons. D 's suspicions, who before long acquired actual 

proof of his wife's unfaithfulness. The pair separated, but 
subsequently renewed their married life together and came 
to spend the winter of 1892 at an hotel in Cannes, where 

Mme. D occupied a bedroom and sitting-room on 

the entresol, while her husband, his mother and children 
were lodged on the first floor. On Feb. 17, the husband 

having found Mons. A 's name on the hotel books, 

became suspicious ; he went and listened at the door of 
his wife's rooms, and thinking he heard his former rival's 
voice, went upstairs to fetch his revolver, and begging the 
manager of the hotel to go with him, threw open his wife's 

fessions. It is also increasing in the rural districts. And nevertheless to make 
divorce still more frequent, writers of talent, Paul Hervieu in Lis Tcnailks, 
Paul and Victor Margueritte in their novels, propose to grant divorce by 
mutual consent or even at the wish of one only of the married couple. 


door. Inside he saw Mons. A trying to hide himself 

behind a sofa and fired three shots at him with his revolver 

at point-blank range. Mons. A was carried to his 

room mortally wounded and died next day. Arraigned 
before the Assize Court of the Alpes-Maritimes, the 
husband was condemned to a year's imprisonment 1 

Divorce is as unavailing to put an end to marital reprisals 
as it is to feminine revenge, for it cannot prevent jealousy 
and passion. At Mme. Panckouke's trial for firing three 
revolver shots at her husband's mistress, the Presiding 
Judge asked her : " Why did you not follow up your 
application for a separation ? " " Because what I wanted," 
answered the accused woman, " was neither separation, nor 
divorce; what I wanted was my husband." During the 
course of proceedings in divorce, and after their termination, 
murderous dramas are not unknown ; when a husband, 
even after divorce, sees his wife in another man's arms, 
indignation and jealousy will sometimes master him so 
violently as to drive him irresistibly to acts of violence. 

After first advocating the murder of unfaithful wives, 
the plays and novels of the day are now preaching the 
doctrine of forgiveness. Midway between murder and 
forgiveness (which may well make the husband ridiculous), 
lies a solution of the difficulty, more accordant at once 
with the husband's dignity and the respect he owes his 
partner's life, viz., separation with scorn : 

" Ne peut-on se venger à moins qu'on n'assassine?" 2 

Yes ! a man may avenge himself by scorn. 

1 His wife retired to a convent, whence she wrote numerous letters to her 
husband, asking for his forgiveness, and this was not refused. She was not 
bug in forgetting her lover's tragic end. 

1 " Cannot a man avenge his wrongs without resorting to downright 
murder ? " Corneille, Attila. 



Basing their contention on the statistics of crime, som<^^ 
writers have maintained the thesis that women shoi^* 
themselves more often guilty of adultery than men; ii^cn 
1886, for instance, 865 women were prosecuted and onl^y 
822 men ; in 1887, 883 women and 843 men. But in thi^s, 
as in other things, statistics do not reveal the whole truth. ; 
they must be used with discretion and duly comparerez 
with the provisions of the Penal Code. In fact, we rnusf 
never forget that men and women are not, from this point 
of view, on a footing of equality, — and never have been 
so. According to Manu, the Legislator of the Hindus a 
woman ought to go on reverencing her husband as a god, 
even when he showed himself guilty of adultery (vi. 54, 
Laws of Manu). — Roman Law and old French Law did 
not allow the woman under any circumstances to charge 
her husband with adultery. — At the present day, according 
to Article 336 of the Penal Code, adultery on the husband's 
side only constitutes an offence if it has been committed 
with a concubine kept in the conjugal domicile. An 
isolated act of adultery does not constitute the keeping of 
a concubine ; to do so, it must take place under th^ 
conjugal roof. If these two conditions are not fulfilled* 
together, a husband's adultery remains unpunished; w& 
may therefore say with truth that the majority of acts of 
adultery done by the man do not come under the sur- 
veillance of the Law at all. While quite recognizing th* 
fact that adultery on the wife's part involves consequences 
altogether more serious than the same offence when com- 
mitted by the husband, we may admit that the impunity 
accorded the husband in most instances offends against 


* r ^lity and the ideal of the equality of the sexes before 
5 I— *iw. Women are not entirely without justification in 
^^g that, the laws being made by men, it has happened 
r Hore than one respect that they have been framed in 
^*Vs own interest, without much heed being paid to the 
^*ality of the sexes. Cicero, who cannot be suspected of 
^V leaning to feminism, observed even in his day that the 
^x Voconia had been passed in the interest of the male 
^>c, and was full of injustice towards women. 1 — Con- 
^mporary law-makers are applying themselves to the task 
*f abolishing this inequality formerly set up by the Law 
^tween adultery on the part of women and of men. 
\ocording to the new Penal Code of the Netherlands, 
the penalty is imprisonment for six months at longest 
or any married person committing an adultery " (Article 
£41), this body of law making no distinction in this 
espect between man and woman. 

Adultery will lead a man to commit the same acts of 
rowardice and cruelty as it will a woman. Dissipation 
extinguishes family feeling and destroys paternal affection. 
Fathers will ruin their children to satisfy a mistress's 
:aprices, or desert them to follow a concubine, leaving 
their offspring in destitution. I have known the case of 
a father, who having lost a little girl by smallpox, forsook 
his two other daughters attacked by the same disease, to 
go off with his mistress. Abandoned to her own resources, 
the mother was forced to sell or pawn almost the whole 
of her furniture in order to nurse her sick children. On 
being reproached for his abominable behaviour, the un- 
worthy father merely answered : " I have done extremely 
wrong, I admit; I was bewitched by my mistress." 
Another husband, a working-man, deserted his wife, leaving 
her the task of rearing seven young ones. The eldest 
boy, the only one able to work, helped his mother to 
supply the needs of his little brothers and sisters ; but 
one of the latter having fallen seriously ill, he was so 
heart-broken at the misfortunes of all kinds and the 

1 Cicero, De Republican iii. $ 10. 


grinding poverty which had burst upon the unhappy 
family as a result of the father's desertion, that he put 
an end to himself. Meantime the father remained entirely 
insensible to all the calamities he had brought about by 
his ill-conduct 

In other cases fathers let their children be made 
martyrs of by their mistress. Valerius Maximus relates 
how Catiline, being desperately in love with Aurelia 
Orestilla and seeing that the son he had by a former 
wife was an obstacle to his marriage with her, did not 
hesitate to get rid of the youth by poison. " It was at 
his very funeral pyre that he kindled the hymeneal torch, 
and he offered as a wedding gift to his new wife the 
crime that abolished his paternity." 1 

The unfaithful husband is often rough and brutal 
towards the wife he no longer loves; he is for ever 
finding fault and ill-treating her. When a married 
woman is delivered of a still-born child, it is occasionally 
the husband's rough usage that is responsible for the 
catastrophe. A certain number of women ill-treated by 
their husbands commit suicide in despair. 

The husband who forsakes his wife takes pleasure in 
deriding her grief; he listens to her reproaches with in- 
difference, irony or even positive satisfaction ; he is not 
at all sorry to see her tears, the sight of them is an amuse- 
ment. If he does seem to be softened, it is because they 
awake in him a passing caprice of amorousness. Don 
Juan for a moment finds something piquant in Elvira's 
sorrow, but at heart he is purely indifferent to her suffer- 
ings. Alfred de Musset, who is partial to Don Juan, docs 
not fail to note his cruel character : 

" Vous le verrez tranquille et froid comme une pierre 
Pousser dans le ruisseau le cadavre d'un frère 
Et laisser le vieillard traîner ses mains de sang 
Sur des murs chauds encor du viol de son enfant." 2 

1 Valerius Maximus, Bk. ix., ch. i. 

9 " You will see him calm and cold as a stone push into the kennel a father's 
corpse, and let the greybeard drag his bleeding hands over walls yet warn 
with his child's ravishment." 


Adultery less often drives the husband to homicidal 
ts than it does the wife ; it is less liable to make him 
te her. At the same time it is no uncommon thing 

see unfaithful husbands load their lawful wife with 
suits and humiliations, and even end by murdering her, 

as to be enabled to marry their mistress. Wives the 
st, the most gentle and patient, are often victims of 
eir husband's brutality. The Duchesse de Choiseul, who 
is murdered by her husband, was a woman of admirable 
ntleness and goodness. The Marquise d'Entrecasteaux, 
lose husband, President of the Parliament of Provence, 
t her throat with a razor during the night, was of so 
ild and gentle a disposition she was known among her 
ends by the name of Sister Angelica. Before gashing 
r throat three times with a razor, her husband had 
•eady tried twice over to poison her, besides throwing 
r down on the stairs of his house, at the time when she 
is with child. The Marquise, who was aware of his 
rempts to poison her, besought her physician not to 
ralge the facts: "Most excellent Doctor, the fearful 
rments I endured made you say I should have died of 
e effects of poison if you had not come promptly to the 
scue. You said loud out, in my presence, that my 
isband was at the least very remiss not to try to find 
e guilty party. Do not say this again. I know the 
ind that was for destroying my existence, but to name 

to you would be both needless so far as you are con- 
rned and blameworthy on my part As your habits 

observation may have led you to guess the truth, I 
seech you in your mother's name and by all you hold 
ost sacred, never to reveal the things you saw and heard 
iring the past night You will not refuse this favour, 
ar and worthy sir, to an unhappy and dying woman, 

10 must needs have much at stake to write you these 
les by stealth and from her sick-bed, — to one who 

11 for ever call herself your grateful and devoted well- 
sher, the Marquise d'Entrecasteaux, née de Castellane, 
arquise de Grimaud." 



I have just instanced a President of the Parliament of 
Provence and a peer of France, of whom adultery made 
criminals. Adultery leads to murder in all classes of 
society. Just as adulterous Queens, like Mary Stuart and 
Jeanne de Provence, have not recoiled at the murder of 
their husbands, so Kings guilty of the same offence, such 
as David and Henry VIII. have done to death their lawful 
wives or the husband of the woman they coveted. When 
once a priest makes himself the accomplice of an adul- 
teress, he becomes quite capable of helping the woman to 
poison her husband. When a husband murders his wife^ 
we may say, almost for certain, that adultery is what has 
driven him to the crime. Sensuality makes men crueL 
When Henry VIII. had Anne Boleyn beheaded, — and he 
had loved her fondly, — he had the moment of her execution 
made known to him by a cannon shot ; this signal he 
awaited with impatience, and on hearing it hurried at once 
to Jane Seymour's lodging, to tell her the joyful news. 
Elizabeth of England, daughter of Henry VIII. and Anne 
Boleyn, gave a similar example of cruelty towards the Earl 
of Essex, who had been her favourite ; she had a conceit of 
music on the day of his execution. History attests on its 
every page the connection existing between cruelty and 
dissoluteness. La Voisin declared under torture, " that a 
great number of persons of all conditions and ranks had 
applied to her to procure the means of putting many 
individuals out of the way, and that dissoluteness was the 
leading motive of all these crimes." Dissolute kings have 
nearly always been monsters of cruelty, like Tiberius and 
Nero. In India voluptuous orgies were habitually ac- 
companied with human sacrifices. In fact there is a close 
association between voluptuous passion and cruelty. Men 
affected with Sadism experience an irresistible craving 
to add cruelty to the other pleasures of debauchery. 
Criminals kill the women they have violated, not merely 
to suppress the evidence they might give against them, but 
still more because they find pleasure in shedding blood 
This Sadism, a combination of cruelty with bestial de- 


auchery, is sometimes committed on animals. To give an 
xample. At Barles, in the Arrondissement of Digne, a 
inner noticed again and again the death of a certain 
umber of ewes, which, while perfectly well the night before, 
'ere found dead next morning in his fold. Thinking a 
pell had been cast over his flock, he went to the curé and 
sked him "to exorcise the spell" by his prayers. The 
lortality however continuing among his ewes, a neighbour 
f greater penetration than himself urged him to apply to 
le Public Prosecutor ("Procureur de la République"). 
\y the advice of this magistrate he had his sheep-fold 
atched at night-time by the "garde champêtre" (rural 
oliceman), and this latter, himself carefully concealed, saw 

young shepherd, a tall, sturdy young man, enter the 
(aiding, seize a ewe by the neck and strangle it, while 
erforming acts of bestiality upon its body. — Vacher, who 
lurdered such a number of women, used to cut their 
treats after ravishing them. 

Often it is with the domestic servants, or with his 
lildren's governess, that a husband has immoral relations. 
jnong farmers in the country it is suchlike relations with 
le farm-maid that are most to be feared by the lawful 
ife. The maid, proud of her triumph, does not always 
ave the mistress in ignorance of it, and to make it more 
ecided still, tries to get rid of the latter altogether. In 
wrns, among families of a higher social position, it is a 
milar connection between the husband and the governess 
lat is apt to endanger the life of the mistress of the house. 
he wife, feeling a presentiment of the fate awaiting her, 
light of course escape it by leaving her home, but she 
innot bear to forsake her children and make way for a 
val in her husband's affections. 

Sometimes the husband is forced by his wife to turn 
le concubine out of the house, but he is not slow to find 
leans to see her again ; his passion for her increases with 
>sence, while his dislike to his wife grows in equal pro- 
>rtions. Then presently the notion of getting rid of his 
ife and taking back his mistress enters his head and 


becomes firmly lodged there. His words betray his secret 
thoughts in spite of himself, till his wife guesses them 
and questions him in terror as to what he means to da 
" If you have no pity for me," she adjures him, " at any 
rate have some for our children." Finding his intentions 
suspected, the husband we might suppose would give up 
his ideas of murder ; but it is seldom as a matter of fact 
that he draws back, and one day the wife is found dead, 
who only the day before was sound and well. 

Not unfrequently the husband who has just killed his 
wife betrays himself by his own imprudence and the haste 
with which he calls his mistress to his side or proposes 
to marry her. His wife's dead body is hardly cold before 
he sets about marrying again. The mad passion urging 
him to this second marriage is such at times that, even 
if his crime is discovered, he feels no regret, provided 
he can get his new wife to follow him to New Caledonia 
or Guiana, our French convict stations. The Marquis 
d'Entrecasteaux, in the account he gave of his crime, 
declared that his passion, "far from being extinguished 
by the crime it had led to, seemed only to have gained 
fresh strength from it" Compelled to fly from justice and 
horrified at the ignominy he was involved in, he had 
several times thought of killing himself, but had always 
been dissuaded from the attempt by the hope of seeing 
his mistress once again. "The love that had made me 
a criminal and that even now doubled my torments, this 
same love prevented my ending them once for all. The 
hope of one day seeing again the woman who is the object 
of my passion could not indeed stifle my remorse, but 
it enabled me to bear all its horrors." 

Each sex has its favourite means of carrying out its 
criminal intent. I have shown in an earlier chapter how 
women more usually resort to poison, while men as a rule 
prefer the knife or fire-arms. Still, just as we sometimes 
find a wife murdering her husband with pistol balls, so we 
occasionally see a husband making use of poison to rid 
himself of his wife. 


The instruments employed vary likewise according to 
profession and occupation, as the criminal has a natural 
tendency to use the weapon he finds under his hand. Thus 
the druggist will employ poison ; the waggoner will crush 
his wife under the wheel of his cart ; the farmer will beat 
out her brains with a spade ; the hairdresser will use a razor, 
the cook a kitchen knife. When it is a King who wishes 
to be rid of his wife, he does not kill with his own hands, 
but employs subordinates ; if he desires to put a husband 
out of the way in order to take his wife, he despatches the 
unfortunate man to some post of danger. When David 
wished to get rid of Uriah, the husband of Bathsheba, 
he wrote to one of his generals : " Set ye Uriah in 
the forefront of the hottest battle, and retire ye from 
him, that he may be smitten, and die. 1 ' (2 Samuel, ch. 

Men are less clever actors than women. Still, even 
a man will play the deceiver in love, lavishing promises 
to gain the favours he covets, and then his passion once 
satisfied, forgetting them every one. He will cajole his 
best friend, to steal away his wife, his daughter or his 
sisters; cheat his wife, be she the best of wives and 
mothers, to hide his adulterous amours from her ; play the 
comedy of tenderness, tears and protestations of devotion, 
at the very time he is planning her death. — An old man 
who is desirous of seducing a young girl resorts to the 
same artifices an old woman employs towards a young 
man ; he poses as a father to her, in order to mask his 
love and avoid awakening her distrust. He endeavours 
to dissipate his wife's suspicions by surrounding her with 
fond attentions; if he decides to kill her with the blow 
of some heavy weapon, he entices her into an ambush 
artfully prepared beforehand ; if he gives her poison, 
he displays the liveliest signs of affection in the very act. 
If he succeeds in killing her, he parades the profoundest 
grief. A husband who had just poisoned his wife, said 
to bis mother-in-law, pointing to his face: "Behold the 
mark of my tears." 


Suicide of the wife forsaken by her husband. — Nor does 
the husband, any more than the wife, invariably need to 
kill his partner, when he wishes to be rid of her ; in many 
cases it is enough for him to make her miserable and so 
drive her to a lingering death of grief or a sudden act of 
despair. The number of women forsaken by their husbands 
who die of sorrow or commit suicide is greater than is 
generally supposed. In my examination of the official 
records of suicides in the Department of the Seine, I 
have come across a not insignificant number of instances 
where married women have put an end to themselves 
when deserted or slighted by their husbands. 1 The letters 
left behind by them to explain their motives all revealed 
the deepest grief, but no trace of anger against the 
husband ; generally speaking, they forgive him, because 
they love him still, reserving all their indignation for the 
mistress, who has robbed them of their husband's love. 
One poor woman, deserted by her husband who left her 
to go off with a mistress, wrote thus before ending her 
life by her own act : "I am not angry with him ; on the 
contrary, I wish him every possible happiness. But I curse 
the name of the bad woman who has taken him from me. 
He little knows what grief his desertion causes me. He 
cannot know how much I loved him. My last thought is 
for him. Ah ! if only I had died a year ago, what suffer- 
ing I should have been spared!" — "My dear parents," 
writes another unhappy wife, "I am disgusted with life. 
My husband has left me. I know he will never come back. 
I loved him dearly. He has behaved badly. I would 
rather have done with it right off." — Women thus deserted 

1 Still the number of these suicides of wives forsaken by their husbands * 
smaller than that of suicides of husbands deserted by their wives, just as there 
are more suicides of widowers than of widows. Men find it harder to bear 
domestic griefs than women do. There are husbands (I have known such 
myself), who commit suicide to escape the continual quarrels due to their 
wives' ill-tempered disposition. " Unable to resign myself to live in constant 
variance with my wife," writes a working printer to the Commissary of Police, 
" I prefer the repose of death to such a life, which is a veritable helL" Death 
has fewer terrors for them than a woman who is always angry. 


by their husbands sometimes put an end to themselves by 
means of charcoal fumes or else drown themselves along 
with their children. — I have myself known the case of a 
wife who, finding herself no longer able to please her 
husband owing to illness, committed suicide by charcoal 
fumes in dread of his suing for a divorce. 

Nay ! more, a wife who without being actually forsaken 
by her husband, yet sees a mistress better loved than her- 
self, may experience a grief profound enough to lead her 
to commit suicide. An instance is afforded by a married 
woman, and the mother of a little girl, who suffered so 
bitterly from the knowledge that her husband kept a 
mistress that she wrote a letter to her parents to inform 
them of her intention to put an end to herself: "My dear 
parents, I am going to cause you great grief, but I cannot 
bear to live any longer. Life is a hell upon earth to me. 
Take great care of my little Julie. Tell her my last thought 
is for her. Be very good, little Julie, and think how sadly 
your mother suffered." 

Just as a certain number of adulterous wives who have 
quitted their husbands are in their turn abandoned by 
their lover and end in suicide, so there is a small propor- 
tion of husbands who, having forsaken wife and children to 
go off with a mistress, who after a while leaves them in 
the lurch, are eventually driven to self-destruction. In 
their case remorse at having ruined their lives and 
sacrificed their family is added to the suffering caused 
by their mistress's unfaithfulness, and tends yet further 
to make them disgusted with life. — Some husbands, who 
have forced their wives to ask for a separation or divorce 
by reason of their ill behaviour, suffer so keenly from their 
loneliness as to choose death in preference. Such cases 
are rare, but still I have seen some. " I cannot bear up 
against the extremity of my suffering," writes a school- 
master separated from his wife. " But you must know my 
last thought will be for you. Perhaps I am partly to 
blame ; in any case, I shall have been well punished, and 
you will forgive me." 


Vengeance of the married woman. — Acts of vengeance 
on the part of married women upon an unfaithful husband 
are much less frequent than those committed by women 
who have been forsaken by a fiancé or a lover. " Suppos- 
ing your husband were to deceive you/' asks one of the 
characters in a novel of a wife, " what would you do ? n — 
" I love him so ardently," answers the heroine, " I believe I 
should kill him and myself afterwards ; for to die after 
wreaking such a vengeance would be preferable to living 
a true wife with a faithless husband." Many wives hold 
suchlike language, but very few carry their threats into 
execution. Some in the first crisis weep and lament 
loudly and go almost mad with grief; others, less violent 
but more deeply smitten, silently languish away in melan- 
choly and disappointment; others again, more high- 
spirited or because they have no children, claim a separa- 
tion or a divorce. But the majority dread any public 
scandal ; more exasperated against their rival than against 
their husband, whom they still love, they await his return, 
seeking consolation meantime in the love of their children 
and in religion. 

A married woman is more ready to forgive her husband's 
unfaithfulness than a husband is to forgive his wife's. For 
the latter, in spite of the pain it gives her, realizes that the 
offence in his case does not involve the same consequences 
as in hers. Moreover, she is anxious to spare the father of 
her children and avoid scandal. 

It is chiefly against her husband's mistress that a married 
woman's anger is directed. Médée herself in Racine's 
tragedy, — and a strong substratum of love underlies her 
fury, — has no thought at the first but of punishing Creuse 
her rival. Jason she would fain spare ; she says to Nérine: 

" Jason m'a trop coûté pour vouloir le détruire, 
Mon courroux lui fait grâce . . . 
Qu'il vive et, s'il se peut, que l'ingrat me demeure, 
Si non, ce m'est assez que sa Creuse meure." 1 

1 " Jason has cost me too dear for me to wish to destroy him ; my anger 
spares him. . . . Let him live, and if he can, let the thankless wight be 
thankless still ; if not, 'tis enough for me that Creusa dies." 


As a rule a wife's anger is concentrated on the rival who 
is eager to supplant her in her husband's affection, and 
this anger, so ready to turn to downright fury, kindles the 
desire of vengeance. Then the married woman, no less 
than the girl who has been seduced and forsaken, will be 
ready to throw vitriol in her rival's face, to disfigure her 
for life. Then will she endeavour to catch her husband 
and his mistress in flagrante delicto, so as to make a 
marriage between them impossible, in the event of her own 
divorce ; for by the terms of Article 298 of the Civil Code, 
"In the event of divorce allowed in Law by reason of 
adultery, the guilty husband shall never be permitted to 
marry his accomplice." Some few years ago now, in Paris, 
a lady of society, desirous of annulling her marriage in 
order to marry her lover, who was the husband of one of 
her bosom friends, had initiated a petition for divorce, 
alleging acts of violence as having been committed upon 
her by her husband. On his own side the lover was ready 
to make every effort to break off his marriage and marry 
his mistress. Informed of their designs, the lover's lawful 
wife succeeded in surprising her husband and his mistress 
in flagrante delicto, with the object of rendering the 
marriage they were aiming at impossible ; she shot her 
rival five times with a revolver, besides stabbing her again 
and again in various places. 

Examination before the Juge <t instruction brought out 
the fact that the lawful wife's fury was raised to white 
heat by this remark of her rival's, " Your husband ! is he 
yours ? " This question, so strange and cynical in seeming, 
is explained by a well-known effect of love, which makes 
lovers believe themselves to belong to each other, even 
when by law they really belong to others. The beloved 
object seems to be the lover's actual property. Though 
Charlotte is married, Werther looks upon her as belonging 
to him ; " You are mine," he writes in a letter to her ; 
44 yes! mine, Lotchen, for ever. What of it if Albrecht is 
your husband ? This is but in the world's eyes, . . . you 
are mine, mine, yes ! Lotchen, mine." The mistress of a 


married man in the same way claims that he, though another 
woman's husband, belongs to her and reproaches the law- 
ful wife with stealing him from her, while he too holds she 
belongs to him, though he is not her husband in actual 
fact. Mary Stuart (who must often be quoted in psycho- 
logical studies such as our own dealing with passion) when 
Darnley's wife, says, writing to her lover Bothwell, himself 
married to Lady Gordon, that he belongs to her and she 
to him, " for I may of a surety call you mine, who have 
won you by myself in true love;" she charges him "to 
keep himself for her to whom alone you do of rights 
appertain." Woe for her and for Bothwell if her lover, 
like a new Jason, should make of her but " a sweetheart of 
the second place," and force her to play the part of another 
Medea. — Love claims primary possession of the beloved 
object not only as against the husband but also against 
the father. When Agamemnon asks Achilles : 

" Et qui vous a chargé du soin de ma famille ? 
Ne pourrai-je sans vous disposer de ma fille ? 
Ne suis-je pas son père ? Etes-vous son époux ? n l 

the latter answers, in the name of his great love, like a 
hero of romance : 

"... Non, elle n'est plus à vous . . . 
Je défendrai mes droits. . . ." 2 

However it is between two women, each claiming to 
defend her rights and contending for a man's heart, that 
the most violent and tragic scenes occur. 8 This is why 
dramatists so often choose the rivalry of two women as the 
motive of a play. It is on her rival a married woman 
practises the most refined and humiliating acts her 
vengeance can suggest. Women of the lower classes have 

1 " And who charged you with the care of my family? Can I not, without 
your interference, dispose of my daughter's hand ? Am I not her rather ? Are 
you her husband ? " 

2 " . . . No ! she is yours no more ... I will defend my rights. . . ." 

* Homo komini lupus ; mulier mulieri lupior, — "Man is a wolf to man; 
but a Woman is more wolfish to a woman," says the proverb ; and if this is so, 
ealousy is the reason. 


been known to apply manual chastisement to a rival, after 
pulling up her frock as if she were a baby, while society 
ladies have before now had a husband's mistress defiled 
by their footman, while they feasted their eyes on the 
spectacle of her humiliation. The rivalries of Queens, 
which have provoked so many wars between nations, are 
often nothing but rivalries between two jealous women. 

Sometimes we find a married woman, to avenge her 
husband's unfaithfulness, being unfaithful herself; "an eye 
for an eye," she says, " and a tooth for a tooth ; you de- 
ceived me, and I deceive you." Then in her blind anger 
she will throw herself at the head of the first comer, be he 
who he may, to make the author of her pain suffer in turn, 
to render him ridiculous, and possibly also to bring him 
back again to her side by rousing his jealousy. Corneille, 
who has expressed with no less penetration than Racine 
the feelings of the female heart, has faithfully represented 
the thoughts of the woman who practises this form of 
revenge in the following lines : 

"Je veux qu'il se repente et se repente en vain, 
Rendre haine pour haine et dédain pour dédain . . . 
Et pour le punir mieux, 
Je veux même à mon tour vous aimer à ses yeux." * 

The wife who avenges her wrongs in this headstrong 
fashion is false to her husband while loving him all the 
while, yet gives herself to the first comer without any 
affection for him at all. 

M Free Unions." — The large amount of sorrow, shame 
and crime that are to be found in family life, and some 
of which I have been recounting above, have inspired 
certain Utopian thinkers with the idea of abolishing 
marriage, in order to put an end to them once for all. 
Adultery, they declare, and marital vengeance and murder 
between husband and wife, would all disappear, if only 

1 " I would have him repent, and repent in vain, I would pay him back hate 
for hate and scorn for scorn. . . . And the better to punish him, I would fain 
in my turn love you before his very eyes." 


union between the sexes were free. The argument is on 
a par with that of other theorists of the same kidney who 
propose, in order to put an end to theft to abolish property 

If marriage has its victims, free unions have far mort 
to show; in fact they are seldom peaceable and happy. 
The poets who have extolled free love in their verses 
have rarely known the joys of peace and quietness them- 
selves. Ovid used to beat his mistress ; Propertius longed 
for one who should show a gentle and peaceful disposition; 
the finest of Alfred de Musset's love songs are cries of 

To abolish marriage would not be enough to make 
lovers happy, for in "free unions" more quarrelling and 
violence take place than in lawful wedlock. It would 
seem at first blush that, in free unions, each of the lovers 
possesses a primary and inherent right to claim his or 
her liberty, so soon as ever life in common has become 
unbearable, that this rupture may be made by common 
consent, that a mistress's unfaithfulness, not involving the 
same serious consequences as a married woman's treachery, 
ought not to occasion the same despair, and that murder, 
under such circumstances is an absurdity, seeing each 
can recover independence without needing to resort to 
poison or pistol. But practice differs widely from theory. 
Passion does not stop to argue; and freedom in "free 
unions " exists more in appearance than reality. If one 
of the lovers wishes to recover freedom of action, the other 
does not ; he thinks the being he loves belongs to him 
and will not allow her liberty to leave him. Such lovers 
usually have long quarrels before arriving at a final rupture; 
they part, come together again, and once more part How 
many letters have I read like the following, which I borrow 
from the documents relating to a case of suicide : " It was 
after an argument with my lover," writes a young woman, 
"that I took the revolver and fired a shot at myself, 
which caused the wound you see near my eye ; already 
the night before I had made up my mind to have done 


I life and started out with the resolve of drowning 
«If." How many ruptures of such relations are the 
r ace to scenes of violence and even of murder and 
:ide, under circumstances resembling those recounted 
a young woman, anxious to regain her liberty, in the 
>wing terms : " ' As you will not be mine, you shall 
er be other men's/ my lover declared ; with these 
ds he seized me by the hair and fired several shots 
ne with a revolver, which however only wounded me. 

II to the ground ; then thinking he had killed me, he 
i a shot at himself which stretched him stone dead." 

t is not between married people only that love often 
s in mutual enmity and continual quarrels, without a 
sibility of finding an escape in a rupture restoring 
*iom to those concerned. There are galley-slaves of 
: love quite as much as there are of marriage. Just 
here are married women who poison their husbands to 
>ver their liberty, so there are mistresses who poison 
ir lovers with the same object. I find the following 
stion and answer recorded in the records of a criminal 
e as passing between the Juge d instruction and a woman 
used of having poisoned her lover : " But why did you 
adopt the simpler plan of leaving him ? " — " I knew 
1 to be very violent," was the reply; "he had often 
eatened he would kill me if I left him ; I went in terror 
lis vengeance." 

Similarly mistresses keep their lovers by their side by 
king them believe them capable of throwing vitriol in 
ir eyes, if they dare to leave them ; lovers are afraid 
break off the liaison from terror of their mistress's 

Jnfaithfulness on the woman's part is more prevalent 
"free unions" than in lawful marriages. How many 
[uettes keep several affairs going at once, taking a 
ight in making their slaves feel their mastery by 
initiating tasks and exciting rivalries that often end 
fatal quarrels! A young man, the lover of such a 
man, who was killed in a duel with a rival, far from 


lamenting his death, exclaimed in his dying moments: 
" I am killed, I am going to die, but I am very happy!"— 
so grievously had he suffered from his mistress's fickle 
whims and the jealousy her other lovers caused him. 

Domestic servants who are at the same time their 
employers' mistresses not unfrequently follow the example 
set them by unfaithful wives and poison their protector. 
Once they have contrived to get a will made in their favour, 
they are tempted to get rid of the testator, so as to many 
and enjoy their legacy with a younger man. 

Forsaken lovers more frequently revenge themselves 
on their mistress's unfaithfulness than do husbands in the 
like situation, and the deserted mistress is likewise more 
vindictive than the lawful wife. Besides, how many love 
affairs end in the Police Court! how many times is the 
Law called upon to bring former lovers to account for the 
vilest of all offences, blackmailing. 1 How often do love- 
letters preserved by discarded mistresses prove in their 
hands effective instruments of extortion ! Each lover has 
his portfolio in the boudoirs of some of our frail beauties. 

Last of all, the birth of a child, which tightens the 
affection of a married pair, more often than not only 
brings discord into "free" households, where the desire 
is to remain childless. The lover shrinks from fatherhood, 
and does not always resist the temptation to procure 
abortion. If a child, that joy of the properly constituted 
family, does appear in an irregular ménage, it is received 
with indifference or even aversion on the part of the father, 
who curses it for the responsibilities and expenses it 
involves him in. Not only does he, to escape the burden, 
very often force his mistress to submit to treatment to 
procure abortion, but we even see him on occasion kill the 
woman who is with child by him in order to get rid of 
the offspring of her womb. 

1 This practice of levying blackmail has assumed appalling proportions. I 
have actually tried and condemned a priest for roguery of this sort, who after 
seducing a girl belonging to one of the most respected families of Vaucluse, 
had subsequently extorted considerable sums of money from her relations by 
threatening to make public the love letters he had received. 


From this brief résumé of the acts of shame and 
criminality often occurring in "free unions," something 
else than the abolition of marriage is needed to bring 
about the suppression of crimes of passion. 

Suicide, moreover, is much more common in "free 
unions " than under the conditions of legalized marriage. 
Far more acts of despair are found to occur among women 
forsaken by their lover than among married women de- 
serted by their lawful husband. 



" This passion hath won so great force and so much honour that 
they who should clip its wings ... are the very folk that magnify it 
the most and idolize it. w — Plutarch. 

Crimes of passion have always existed. Among all 
peoples and under every latitude, love, jealousy, anger, 
revenge, stir men's hearts ; and everywhere like passions 
result in like crimes. In every country of the globe arc 
to be found Clytaemnestras and Hermionés, Roxanes and 
Phèdres, Othellos, Romeos and Werthers. In the Ancient 
world as in the Modern, unfaithful wives have poisoned 
their husband with their lover's complicity, outraged 
husbands have killed their guilty wife, maids seduced and 
wives forsaken have wreaked vengeance on lover or faith- 
less mate, and unhappy lovers have died of love or killed 
themselves in despair. 

Such crimes then are no novelty ; what is new is their 
frequency. And the disquieting thing from the point of 
view of public safety is the indulgence juries show towards 
this type of crime. 

De Tocqueville expressed a hope that the progress of 
democracy would bring about greater regularity of morals 
and that disorders and crimes arising from amorous 
passion would go on decreasing in frequency. 1 His 
prognostications have not been verified. In former days 
magistrates had to note only a small number of crimes 
of this nature. For instance, in 1864 there was not a 

1 Democracy in America, 3rd Part, ch. xL 

:auses of frequency of suicides and crimes. 289 

ingle case of feminine vengeance in the whole Depart- 
nent of the Bouches-du-Rhône ; at the present time 
vithin the same limits there is an average of eight to 
en every year. It is the same everywhere. If energy 
:onsists, as Stendhal professed to believe, in burning out 
lie eyes of a fickle lover, stabbing to death a woman who 
►hows too much, or too little, resistance, France can never 
lave counted so many men and women "of energy" as 
n our day. In his last published Report on the ad- 
ministration of Criminal Justice, the "Garde des Sceaux" 
[Chancellor) of France states that "crimes of violence, 
hatred and extravagant living have undergone a numerical 
increase." x This generation is witness to a recrudescence 
of hate, in love as in politics. Platform and press alike 
celebrate the beauty of hate ; " Of all hatreds," says M. 
Barrés, " the most intense, the most sublime, the queen of 
queens, is that exhaled by civil strife." 2 The spirit of 
enmity breathes everywhere ; furious hate is the fashion 
of the time, even in love. 

Stendhal was wont to reproach the upper classes of his 
day with their nervous dread of scandal, their excessive 
care for the proprieties and the externals of morality. He 
could hardly say the same to-day. The higher classes now 
compete, revolver in hand, with hairdressers, shoe-makers, 
coachmen, cooks and chamber-maids, in acts of passionate 
violence. It is past counting the number of Othellos and 
Hermiones, Orestes and Roxanes, that nowadays appear 
before the Assize Courts and Police Courts, in all classes 
of society. The society of to-day boasts of its tender 
sensibility, yet never before has passion been so vindictive, 
never has love stabbed so many breasts, broken so many 
beads, disfigured so many faces, blinded so many eyes. 
The arrows Mythology attributes to Cupid are in these 
days veritable poniards, keen knives, loaded revolvers, 
which are far from wounding hearts only metaphorically ; 
blood flows in streams from the wounds they make, and 

1 Journal officiel, 10th May 1896. 

3 Du sang, de la volupté et de la mort, p. 85. 



the spectator of these murderous dramas of love may well 
cry with O reste : 

" Dieux ! quels ruisseaux de sang coulent autour de moi." l 

Nor yet at any previous period have so many suicides 
and double suicides for love been known. At Marseilles, 
in one single month and in the same arrondissement, I 
have myself noted no less than three double suicides due 
to amorous passion. 

The chief reasons for this frequency of crimes of passion 
are : the excessive indulgence shown by juries towards this 
kind of crimes, the precocity of contemporary youth in the 
direction of dissipation and alcoholism, the depravation of 
mind due to the sophistries invented and disseminated 
by modern novels and plays, the increase of nervosity, and 
the inefficiency of the Law for the proper punishment of 

Merciless to the thief, the modern jury is indulgent to 
the criminal of passion and, speaking generally, to all who 
are guilty of offences against morality, — often to the pitch 
of excusing such altogether. 

All crimes for which love is responsible are readily 
forgiven now, though in former times judges were not 
nearly so indulgent in these cases. Tacitus recounts as a 
strange and shocking crime a murder committed out of 
jealousy by a Tribune of the People, Octavius Sagitta, and 
says the author of the crime in question was prosecuted by 
the Senate under the law dealing with murderers. 2 — Dante 
places in Hell the husband who killed Francesca da 
Rimini. — In the sixteenth century manners were rough 
enough, and yet De Thou tells us that, when Baleins, 
Governor of Lectoure, stabbed an officer who had violated 
his sister, the King of Navarre was horrified at Baleins* 
audacity and the enormity of his crime (Bk. ii.). The 
juryman of to-day is less horrified than was the King 
of Navarre at the audacity of murderers from love or 

1 "Ye Gods ! what torrents of blood flow round me." 
3 Tacitus, Annals, bk. xiii. § 44. 


jealousy; in proportion as he shows himself more and 
more severe against theft, he grows more and more 
indulgent towards crimes of amorous passion. Juries in 
the Department of the Seine above all have an infinite 
compassion for forsaken women who punish their deserter 
by means of vitriol or the pistol. The women know it, 
and when they have a possible choice of exacting their 
vengeance in the provinces or in Paris, they always select 
the latter. The woman Panckouke, who might have 
killed her rival in the country, if she had so wished, waited 
till she had returned to Paris before striking the fatal 
blow. " Country juries," she declared, " are so stupid ; 
Paris is the place where I will kill her." She did as 
she said she would, and just as she had foreseen, a 
Parisian jury acquitted her. 

How comes it that juries are so ready to forget the 
suffering, wounds, even death of the victim, and constantly 
give verdicts of acquittal in favour of persons accused of 
crimes of passion ? The reasons are manifold. So many 
novels and dramas have been written extolling the beauty 
of crime where Passion is the motive, descanting on the 
great-souled heroism of the murderer for Love, maintaining 
the sacredness of Prostitution and the rehabilitation of the 
soul by Affection, that public opinion has been led astray 
by these literary sophistries. A jury after all only reflects 
public opinion. If society at the present day is utterly 
anarchical and has even lost the power to defend itself, 
it is because politics and fiction (whether in novels or 
plays) have scattered sophistries broadcast on the world, 
and while diminishing the number of the duties incumbent 
on men and women, have correspondingly multiplied their 
rights. While revolutionary socialism claims the right of 
insurrection for the citizen, the right of work, the right of 
credit and capital for the working-man, the right of enjoy- 
ment for the poor man, our modern Romance, Poetry and 
Drama have invented the right of suicide, the right of love 
the rig/it of adultery, the right of vengeance for forsaken 
lovers and outraged husbands, the right of abuse and the 


right of board and lodging at the public expense for poets. 
Every day we behold new claims made upon society. 
Authors and composers demand the right of representation^ 
advocates the right of unrestrained libel. Not long ago 
at a sitting of the Eighth Chamber of the Correctional 
Tribunal of the Seine, I actually heard some milkmen 
claim the right of watering I 1 

The claims urged to all these manifold rights have the 
effect of relaxing all social ties and abolishing all duties 
The so-called right of insurrection does away with the duty 
of respecting " the powers that be." The right of credit 
dispenses with the duty of so acting as to deserve credit 
The right of suicide cancels the duty of bearing the trials 
of life. The right of capital abolishes the duty of saving. 
The right of maintenance frees the poet from the duty of 
earning the price of his writings according to the ordinary 
law of supply and demand. The right of love releases 
from the duty of being true to the marriage vow. The 
right of revenge abolishes the duty of respecting the life 
of other men. 

Sophistry is contagious, and readily impregnates a jury. 
Novels and plays have so extolled the nobility of crimes 
of passion and so eloquently justified revenge, that juries, 
quite forgetting the duty they have been summoned to 
fulfil, fail entirely to defend society, and pity, not the 
victims, but the authors of crimes of this nature. The 
French, less attached than the English, to their nationaV 
laws, institutions and traditions, are more accessible tc^ 
literary sophistries ; they worship talent to the pitch c^l 
idolatry. They forgive everything to the talent of thm^t 
author in vogue at the moment, even when he puts in^^fcc 
circulation paradoxes that are ruinous to society itself; 
the very same individuals who refuse their respect to tfce 

1 Anarchism completes the Rights of Man by claiming the right of theft stud 
the right of murder. — Dostoievsky in one of his Novels makes a member of the 
Secret Societies of Russia say : " Crime is not a form of madness, as LJttré 
defines it, but a sound doctrine, almost a duty, in any case a noble act of 


it social institutions, will not venture on the smallest 
ism of the fashionable Novelist of the day. 
ien again, the impassioned appeals of the Defence 
:ise an enormous influence over half-educated persons, 
know nothing of the tricks of oratory and fall ready 
ns to every theatrical effect and moving incident 
aired beforehand to stir the Court. Sometimes we 
dly see the jury, carried away by Counsels' eloquence, 
*t their judicial functions altogether and join the public 
>plauding, just as if they were at the Play. An 
aent advocate, practised in the art of moving the 
t of juries and putting their reason to sleep, can 
1 a doubt into their minds as to the most positive 
, call up interest and sympathy for the author of the 
e, cause all the victim's sufferings to be forgotten, as 
as all the claims Society has to be defended against 
doers. 1 He carries an acquittal by storm. The power 
letoric over untrained minds is such, that men accused 
srfectly well-established crimes, listening to the sad 
of their unfortunate lot drawn by their Counsel, end 
lemselves entertaining doubts of their guilt. A con- 
said to Dr Lauvergne : " Nothing in this world ever 
lished me so much as my advocate's speech for the 
ice : I was all surprise, on returning to my cell after a 
lg of the Court, to believe myself an honest man. 
sir, my Counsel had convinced me of the fact" Since 
summing up has been done away with, which interposed 
nterval between the speech for the defence and the 
ict and so allowed the jury to calm down and recover 
• common^sense, the decision is given under the 
ence of emotion produced by heated eloquence of a 
ial pleader. Juries transfer to the Palais de Justice 
ts formed in the theatre. The public for its part 
3 to the Assize Court with as much eagerness as to the 

is this seduction exercised by rhetoric over the multitude that accounts 
e ever-increasing number of advocates who are elected deputies. The 
•jan alone can rival the advocate in popularity, particularly when he pays 
rits gratuitously. 


theatre, bringing the same attitude of mind to bear and 
seeking the same gratification, — the titillation of its 1 =S 
emotions. The Counsel for the defence and the Public I * 
Prosecutor strive to impress the jury, the former by ■ ° 
theatrical effects, by showing the children, the parents of | ** 
the accused, the latter by displaying the victim's blood- 
stained clothes and exhibiting various articles connected 
with the crime, the murderer's knife, or revolver, or what 
not. Criminal justice is nothing if not theatrical This 
craving to dramatize everything, justice no less than s 

politics, comes from our passionate addiction to the play- a 

house. The theatre is often a criminal court, and con- 2 

versely, the criminal court is a theatre. 

We can readily comprehend that a jury's feelings are 
stirred, when they have before their eyes a young girl, 
seduced by promises of marriage, forsaken by the lover 
who has made her a mother, carrying an infant in her 
arms, and speaking to them in the same sort of words as a 
poor child brought up for trial on a criminal charge used 
to the Juge <t instruction of Aix : " I feel the keenest 
regret for what I have done ; but think of the state of 
mind I was in. After being seduced by my lover, who « 

had neglected no means to bring about my fall, not only a 

do I see myself abandoned by the man who had sworn to n 

marry me, and who broke all his promises, but he was now 
on the point of destroying my last hope by marrying 
another girl. Nay ! more, not content with dishonouring 
me, he is trying to overwhelm me with infamy by making 
out my child is not his. ... I am not the first this wretch. 
has ruined. I have learned since that he deceived another 

girl Marie B , whom he abandoned after making he«" 

a mother as he did me." 

It is both humane and just to consider every point that* 
may mitigate the guilt of an unhappy woman who has 
suffered bitterly. When Dante met Francesca da Rimixi/ 
in Hell, he said to her : " Francesca, thy calamities fill me 
with sadness and pity; they make me weep. . . . Alas/ 
how many gentle thoughts and soft desires have brought 


to this mournful pass ! " A jury then is equally in the 
to compassionate the misfortunes of a poor girl who 
been seduced and forsaken, and who, bodily strength 
:ourage alike exhausted, pinched with cold and hunger, 
>ut means to feed and clothe her child, is tempted in a 
lent of despair to an act of violence upon her seducer, 
now refuses her all help and threatens to have her 
ted. At sight of this wife who will have no husband, 
child who will have no father, pity is but natural, 
1 the poor girl in the dock tells the jury : "lam now 
rly sorry for having entertained the fatal idea of 

ging my wrongs on Louis R . I pity his present 

ition, but if he is unhappy, I am deserving of com- 
ion too. He dishonoured me. I am driven from my 
:r*s house ; my parents have told me plainly they will 
r Jsee me again. When I come out of prison, I shall 
ithout refuge or resources, I shall have a child to feed, 
I shall be reduced to begging my bread." 
it it is not merely young and inexperienced girls that 
tjvengeance on the seducer who refuses to give them 
the honour he has robbed them of; women who are 
lers without being wives, widows possessed of more 
vledge of the world than virtue, claim the right to 
ge themselves on young men they have themselves 
astray. Even loose women who have had children 
re entering into relations with the young lover who 
equently abandons them, or who simply give their 
ursjat the first meeting in the streets or at a public ball, 
the revolver or throw vitriol over their lovers of the 
lent, — and still an indulgent jury acquits them. I will 
e, by way of example, a case lately adjudicated by the 
ze Court of the Bouches-du-Rhône, which ended in a 
ict for the accused. A Corsican girl had come down 
i her village to Ajaccio, to prepare for an examination, 
the first year she conducted herself wisely, but during 
second she began to frequent the public balls. When 
îr examination for admission to the Post-Office Service, 
ivas caught copying and struck off the list of candidates. 


Instead of going home to her friends, she remained at 
Ajaccio, on the look-out for adventures. She made the 
acquaintance at a public ball of an employé in the Post- 
Office and became his mistress; later on after a series 
of similar liaisons, a pregnancy declared itself. Her 
brother and uncle arrived to hunt up the lover and called 
upon him to marry his mistress. But in view of the proofs 
given them of the girl's general looseness of behaviour, 
they did not press it. Soon afterwards, the Post-Office 
official mentioned left Ajaccio, came to Marseilles and 
proposed to marry. His former mistress having heard of 
this bought a pistol, and practised the handling of the 
weapon ; then she came to Marseilles and killed her lover 
with a brace of pistol-shots. The jury acquitted her, 
although it came out as the result of cross-questioning 
that the girl was living a life of prostitution. 

Suchlike unjustifiable acquittals increase the frequency 
of crimes of passion. Intending throwers of vitriol, before 
attacking their lover, inquire into the general result of 
prosecutions against other women who have done the like. 
If the verdict was in their favour, they are heard to declare : 
" Well, well ! if all I have to expect is a few days of 
preliminary confinement, I may surely give myself the 
gratification of punishing my false lover." Women are no 
longer satisfied now with throwing vitriol at the lover who 
has actually deserted them ; if they have reason to believe 
they are going to be left in the lurch, they resort to the 
vitriol bottle. In one single Department, that of the 
Bouches-du-Rhône, I find sixteen cases of vitriol throw- 
ing coming before the Assize Courts in the year 1879. 
Other cases of the same description, not resulting in any 
serious consequences, are dealt with by the Correctional 
Police. Nor do women deserted by their lovers limit 
themselves to throwing vitriol over the latter on their 
refusal to marry them; there are some who, to punish 
the parents who withhold their consent, act in the same 
atrocious way to them. Some years ago at Sisteron, a 
woman so deserted threw vitriol over her lover's mother. 


Women who throw vitriol take very little heed of people 
anding near their victim, they just pitch it broadcast. 
hey do not injure merely the man they wish to punish ; 
ie passers-by also often get splashed with the corrosive 

It is a mistake to say that vitriol throwing was brought 
to fashion by the crime of the Widow Gras in 1896; it 
is long been practised in the South, especially in Provence, 
had myself to deal with a case of vitriol throwing as long 
jo as 1870. The same year, in the same Department, 
îother young woman, who had thus treated her lover, 
>ld the Juge d'instruction : " Realizing that I was not 
rong enough to knife him effectually, I made up my 
tind to throw vitriol in his face ; I had heard them say 
tat other girls who had been abandoned had used this 
leans of revenge." Next year, another act of the same 
arrid sort took place in the neighbourhood of Aix. A 

Mtain G had had, before his marriage, relations with 

servant in his father's house ; his parents having noticed 
lis, dismissed the girl and married their son. On his 
lbsequently losing his wife, he renewed his liaison with 
is former mistress, who bore him a child, but some time 
Fterwards he gave her up and proposed to marry again. 
he woman then determined on revenge, and threw a 
ottle of sulphuric acid right in his face. The victim lost 
is eyesight after enduring atrocious agony. The acid had 
?en thrown in such quantities, that his clothes were partly 
Limed off him and the stones forming the framework of 
ie door disintegrated. The jury acquitted the woman. 
The example of these female vitriol throwers has proved 
mtagious ; men have taken to following it. Young men 
iake use of this means of forcing the girl who rejects their 
Idresses to become their mistress or wife. " If she will 
ot do what I ask, if she will not marry me, I will burn 
er eyes out," is their cry. Sometimes they make use of 
ie same threats towards the girl's parents. One young 
lan, who was seeking the hand of a girl of his acquaintance, 
irious at being repulsed, told the young woman's father : 


" Think well ! marriage or death ! Think well, there will 
be two funerals." He bought a gun and began by point- 
ing it at the girl. She begged for mercy in vain ; he blew 
out her brains with the words : " Next comes your father's 
turn." — Lovers who have been sent about their business 
revenge themselves on their mistress in the same terrible 
way. — Men who have tempted married women from their 
duty, threaten to throw vitriol in their faces, when they 
express a wish to return to their husband's roof. A man 
named Marais had enticed a young married woman from 
her home, but it was not long before she was sorry for her 
sin and sought to win her husband's forgiveness. Marais 
set himself against his mistress returning to her lawful 
husband and told her, " If you leave me, I will spoil your 
face," — and he carried out his dreadful threat 

Habits of retaliation have become only too common. 
Girls are sometimes so terrified by the threats of vengeance 
addressed to them as to marry men they do not love, but 
who inspire them with fear. I have seen an even more 
extraordinary thing. A young workwoman wished to 
leave her lover in order to get married; but her lover 
declared he would kill her if she left him. Not daring to 
carry out her proposed marriage and not having the heart 
to remain with a man she no longer loved, she put an end 
to herself. 

If juries continue to fail to support the Law and do 
not insist on human liberty and life being respected, 
people will more and more get into the habit of taking 
justice into their own hands, and we shall return to a state 
of savagery. It becomes a more and more common thing 
to see debtors wreak vengeance on creditors who sue theta 
for payment, — robbers and poachers on police and keepers» 
— to see soldiers who have been punished use outrage and 
violence towards their officers whom they think over harsh, 
servants who have been dismissed punish their masters, 
and working-men their employer. A judge of the Tribunal 
of Aubusson was killed by a litigant, and another of the 
Tribunal of Apt wounded, while a Juge d'instruction of 


Tribunal of the Seine was not long ago shot in 

face by a woman calling herself a victim of the Law. 
archists blow up the houses inhabited by magistrates 
whom they wish to wreak their vengeance. Actors, 
I still more frequently actresses, who have been hissed, 

enge themselves on their critics. A sculptor, J. F , 

ioyed at the report given by an expert in a commercial 
pute, sprang upon the latter, a graving tool in his hand, 
I wounded him very seriously in the chest and abdomen, 
the Court of Algiers a former Préfet was condemned to 
trtn of imprisonment for having struck the Headmaster 
the School, after a heated interview in consequence of 
son not having passed an examination. Artists admire 

" noble attitude " of anarchists hurling bombs to avenge 
mselves on the "bourgeois." Those who dare not at 
sent wreak their vengeance for fear of the Law, wait 

a revolution to take reprisals on society. For some 
rs past magistrates have been liable to receive a boot 
heir head from the prisoner in the dock in revenge for 

penalties inflicted on the latter. 

levenge is the most antisocial of all passions, the one 
t causes most blood to be spilt It is for mutual revenge 
t political parties proscribe each other. It is revenge 
t in times of revolution sets the blood of priests, nobles, 
zens flowing. The men of the Terror used to call the 
illotine the people's vengeance. Politicians inspire hate 
tween different classes. Catholics persecuted the Jews 
avenge on their descendants the crime committed by 
rir ancestors in crucifying Jesus Christ. Protestants 
rsecute Catholics in revenge for the revocation of the 
lict of Nantes. Each party, as it triumphs in turn, is 
' exacting reprisals on the beaten faction. Always hate, 
fays the spirit of revenge. 
The manners and customs of Corsica show a tendency 

become acclimatized on the Continent of Europe, 
:ause crimes of revenge are not repressed with adequate 
f crity. Now it ought to be recognized there is no 
fcion more difficult to eradicate than that of revenge, 


when once it has become part of the habits of a nation and 
grown into their nature. 1 The vendetta is kept up to this 
day among Corsican families ; the banditti of that country 
are actually utilized in elections. We saw quite lately at 
Aix a remarkable instance of this persistency of the 
vendetta. A young soldier was found assassinated ; the 
criminal was a compatriot, who had travelled to Aix on 
purpose to avenge a family feud dating back several 
generations. His mother and sisters had accompanied 
him to help and encourage him in his act of vengeance» 
while a priest, who was a kinsman of the family, had 
come in person from Corsica to Aix to hire a lodging 
for the others. At the trial the sister of the murdered 
man stated that out of her four brothers, three had been 
killed and the fourth was in hiding in the maquis. This 
is the condition of things we should come to, if through 
excessive indulgence for crimes of passion, the right of 
revenge should ever become part of our moral code, — to 
the profit of the husband outraged by his wife's adultery, 
to the profit of the woman forsaken by her lover who 
says, "marriage or death," to the profit of the young 
lover pursuing the woman he loves with the threat, M Be 
mine, or I kill you ! love or death." 

In Switzerland, on the contrary, juries are extremely 
severe, too severe even, towards crimes arising out of 
amorous passion. The only prisoner for a crime of this 
kind I found, in 1896, in the prison of Lausanne, was a 
husband who had killed his wife from jealousy. In France 
he would have been acquitted; in Switzerland he was 
condemned to life-long confinement, and this only because 
the death penalty has been abolished in the Canton Vaud 
Yet there were a number of extenuating circumstances 
telling in favour of this husband driven wild by jealousy, 
— his good antecedents, his penitence, the ill-behaviour of 

1 Lacenaire was ready to admit that all his crimes arose from the fact tint 
he had never been able to overcome his craving for revenge. "Yes, my dor 

M. R ," he said to his teacher, " I have at last overcome all my evil passu»* 

except one, — revenge." 


his wife. Between this Draconian severity and absolute 
acquittal, there is surely room for a judgment tempered 
with mercy. 

Another cause of the frequency of suicides and crimes due 
to passion is the precocity of young people of the present 
day in dissipation. For instance, in 1892, there occurred 
87 suicides of children under sixteen, and 475 of young 
people of both sexes of between sixteen and twenty-one. 
Now the majority of such suicides are determined by love 
disappointments, jealousy or dissipation. From 1835 to 
1844, the average was only nineteen of suicides of minors 
under sixteen years of age. 1 

Never before has youth been so precocious as now in 
the matter of suicide and crime resulting from amorous 
passion. We hear girls of fifteen and sixteen exclaiming : 
" Ah ! how weary I am of it all ! how sick I am of my 
life ! I wish I were dead." This overwhelming weariness 
of spirit arises nearly always from some disappointment in 
love. Such suicides on the part of young girls are of 
common occurrence among working people. The parents 
start in the morning for their work, leaving their little girl 
still asleep ; on their return they find she has hanged her- 
self or killed herself by means of charcoal fumes, and on 
enquiring into the reason for so fatal a despair, the exist- 
ence of which had quite escaped their notice, they find 
it is disappointed love that has made death seem preferable 
to life to their child, who was playing only yesterday with 
her doll. The parents of a girl of fifteen find on coming 
home from their work that the child they had left the 
same morning quietly asleep in her bed is dead ; question- 
ing the neighbours, they are told how she was seen during 
the day making her way with a chair to the spot where 
she was afterwards found hanging dead, walking slowly 
with drooping head, deeply buried in her thoughts. The 
motive of her despair was a passion she had conceived for 
a young man who had fixed his affections elsewhere. 

We even see boys of sixteen or seventeen kill themselves 

1 Annales médico-psychologiques > 1855, p. 61. 


along with their mistresses, who are younger still. "A 
fortnight ago," says a father, " my boy (seventeen) told me 

he loved Maria V , and that he was going to commit 

suicide with her. I paid no attention to his remark. Last 
Wednesday he left his home." The father of the girl 
makes a similar statement : " I learned," he says, " that my 
daughter used to go with a young man and that she 
declared she would commit suicide." 

Quite young girls manifest the same precocity for murder 
arising out of amorous passion. The Courts have girls of 
fifteen brought before them for vitriol throwing. 

Lads of fourteen, fifteen, sixteen, commit suicide from 
disappointed love or kill their mistresses from jealousy. 
This extraordinary precocity in suicide and murder arises 
from their equally extraordinary precocity in amorous dis- 
sipation and alcoholism. Taking mistresses as they do at 
an age when reason and will are as unformed and unripe 
as is their physical development, the violent impressions 
of love and jealousy are too powerful to be governed. 
Impotent to endure the disappointments of love, which are 
not of their age, they kill themselves. Impotent to master 
the transports of jealousy, they kill others. Little scamps 
of fifteen have mistresses of fourteen, and even sometimes 
more mistresses than one. We had to adjudicate in the 
Eighth Chamber of the Correctional Tribunal of the 
Seine on the case of a prisoner of sixteen who had two 
mistresses, one of fourteen, the other of fifteen. One of 
these childish mistresses having taken a ride on the wooden 
horses of a merry-go-round, he told her in a furious passion 
he "would cut her head off"; another time he gave a 
rendezvous in these words : "If you miss meeting me, 
I'll down you;" and the girl having failed to keep the 
assignation, he punished her by firing a revolver at her 
point blank. — Similarly, young girls still under age have 
on their side several lovers at once ; hence quarrels arising 
out of jealousy, which end in suicide or murder. In the 
official report of the suicide of a lady's-maid, I find the 
girl had three lovers, a house-painter, a paviour and a 


later. One of her lovers having refused to let her into 
is room, she fired two revolver shots at herself outside his 
oor. Girls who act as artist's models are as a rule very 
epraved ; corrupted themselves by the loss of their 
atural modesty, they do their best to corrupt their young 

Children displaying such precocious passions are extremely 
ervous and irritable, incapable of enduring the slightest 
Anoyance. At the smallest disappointment of affection, 
r the gentlest rebuke on the part of their parents for their 
1 behaviour, they commit suicide. I give several instances 
iken from the official records of cases in the Courts of the 
department of the Seine. A girl of eighteen was seen 
liking to a young man in the street by her uncle, who re- 
îarked upon it to her and threatened to tell her father ; 

day or two afterwards the girl shot herself with a revolver. 
Lnother still younger girl, of sixteen, on being scolded by 
er father for the same thing, immediately left her home 
nd went off to drown herself. — " My daughter," declared 
1 another case a woman subjected to examination by the 
'olice Commissary, " my daughter had for some time been 
luch with an employé of the Telegraph. I remonstrated 
'ith her and begged her to break off the connection ; 
îthin a few days from that time she went out and jumped 
lto the Seine." — The father of another girl of sixteen 
lakes a similar statement : " Discovering the fact that my 
aughter was keeping up a correspondence with a young 
lan, I took occasion to reprimand her, as was only my 
uty. After dinner, I kissed her, as if nothing had 
appened, taking no notice of her tears. I started for 
iy afternoon's work, and on my return home was informed 
lie had thrown herself into the river." I have noted a 
urge number of suicides on the part of young girls pro- 
eeding from a similar motive ; they will not give up 
iese precocious liaisons, and rather than submit to their 
arents' rebukes, they give up life instead. A certain pro- 
ortion, still more deeply corrupted, desert their parents' 
x>f at fourteen, fifteen or sixteen to have fun, as they put 


it, with men, and when the parents try to rescue them from 
a life of prostitution, or they suffer a disappointment in 
love, they put an end to their life by charcoal fumes or 
go off to drown themselves, declaring they are sick of 
living. A laundress of fourteen, who had formed a con- 
nection with a soldier, on being expostulated with by her 
parents, wrote to them in these words : " After the scene 
you have made, I see there remains only one thing to d<^ 
to have done with life altogether. My mind is quite made 
up this time ; if you want to recover my body, you will 
find it in the Seine. Now, before dying, I only ask you 

one favour, not to hold X responsible for my death; 

he has nothing to do with it, it is I that have enough of 

The precocity of young men, or rather boys, for suicide 
is still greater, for to habits of dissipation they add those 
of intemperance. The number of very young men who 
give way to drink is appalling. As long ago as the end 
of the Second Empire, V. Sardou, in his Famille BenoiUm, 
drew attention to this tendency towards alcoholism in 
Farfan whom he shows on the stage intoxicated with 
absinthe. Since that date habits of alcoholism have greatly 
developed among young men. In a considerable pro- 
portion of official reports of suicides of young men I find 
included statements on the part of parents attributing 
their act to habits of intemperance and profligacy. "My 
boy, after a course of dissipation, put an end to his life 
by means of charcoal fumes," writes one father. Another 
states : " As the result of his heavy drinking, my son had 
grown very irritable and unable to endure a word of 
blame." Youths of the sort, who have fallen into habits 
of drunkenness and profligacy, cannot bear reproof or a dis- 
appointment in love. " I am bound to have a scene with 
my father, so I have made up my mind to have done with 
my life altogether," writes a youth of sixteen to his 
mistress. He was seen writing this letter with a smile on 
his face ; a moment later he shot himself with a revolver. 
Schoolboys forsake their parents, after robbing them, and 


:ecp gay women, only to kill themselves later on, when 
hey have exhausted their resources, or when their mistress 
eaves them for somebody else ; jealous in an instant, 
iter some words with her or with a rival, they take a 
evolver and blow their brains out. I have noted the 
uicide of a little lad of fourteen, who killed himself 
«cause a young danseuse he wanted to elope with had 
efused to agree. At an age when they ought to be 
till playing marbles and prisoner's base, children kill 
bemselves or even kill others in passionate despair. The 
Vssize Court of the Department of the Aude tried a 
trocious young scoundrel of eleven, who having failed 
o violate a little girl of his own age, struck her on the 
lead and stabbed her. He confessed his crime with all 
he cynicism of a hero of melodrama : 4i Yes I it was I 
irho killed Marie. She would not let me have my way, 
© I struck her on the head with a hammer. The hammer 
lipped through my fingers, and I drew a knife out of my 
>ocket, and stabbed her twice in the throat." Two years 
igo, at Marseilles, a young man of nineteen emptied four 
hambers of his revolver at his grandmother, because she 
rished to dismiss a young maidservant he was in love 
nth. Two youths who had murdered a young girl de- 
lared : " Though barely fifteen, we already loved women 
nd loved them passionately, — so much so that, had we 
«en obliged to live apart from them, we should have died 
f ennui and vexation." x On September 21, 1897, a young 
tudent committed suicide in Paris, after writing to his 
amily to say he was killing himself, because having tasted 
Jl the pleasures of life, he could not expect any more 
atisfaction out of anything. Another young man put 
n end to himself, after enjoying the favours of a young 
ousin of his, with whom he was smitten. In the letter 
te left behind giving the reasons for his suicide, he writes 
hat from the very day his cousin gave herself to him, he 
onceived a deep disgust for her and life in general. He 
ays that, had she resisted him, she would have secured 

1 Gazette des Tribunaux, 30th September 1 886. 


his happiness, but that having once yielded to his desires, 
she might do the same to others, and from that moment 
he had taken a disgust at life. 

This precocious development of the passionate impulses 
among young people of the present day arises from a too 
early familiarity with the theatre, from an immoderate read- 
ing of novels depicting Love (for the delineation of Love 
awakes the corresponding feeling), from the effeminate sen- 
sual education they receive. Parents allow their children to 
see, and read, and hear everything. A mother, whose son 
committed suicide at Marseilles, after killing the girl he 
was in love with, admitted to me she had been to blame 
in letting him read novels of every type and taking him to 
the theatre at too tender an age. The reading of fiction 
and theatre-going combined had, by exalting his imagina- 
tion and sensibility at the expense of his reason, 
predisposed him to a romantic and tragic passion re- 
sembling those described and depicted in romances on the 
stage. To witness the representation of a Love drama is 
not an amusement for a child ; it cannot but over-stimulate 
the senses and imagination of a youth, just when the 
essential part of education is to fortify the reason and will, 
and delay the development of the passionate impulses. 
There is far too much hurry nowadays to treat children 
as if they were grown up, to initiate them much too early 
in the knowledge of good and evil. There is no sort of 
need to hasten by means of love scenes on the stage the 
awakening of passion in youthful hearts; Nature looks after 
all this. A crime of passion seen on the boards by children 
may even awake criminal instincts in them. Physicians of 
experience recommend keeping children and women apart 
from persons affected by nervous disorders, for these are 
contagious. Similar precautions should be taken to spare 
them the sight of persons under the empire of inordinate 
passion, that they may not be affected prejudicially by 
their example. Youthful brains should not be excited by 
the representation of high-strung sentiments, for fear they 
retain an impress capable of leading to the repetition on 


>wn part of the same excesses. The sight of a person 
; or drinking wakes the desire to eat and drink. The 
icle of a person intoxicated with love awakes the 

of experiencing a like passion. The high-strung 
lentality of plays and novels is communicated to the 
j reader and still more to the precocious theatre-goer, 
is not true to say children may read everything 
ut risk, as Goethe maintains. " Even in the case of a 
child," he says, " there is no need to be too anxious 

the influence a book or a play may exercise over 
1 On the contrary, I am of opinion myself that parents 
t be too anxious as to the influence books have over 
:hildren. Men of mature age can defend themselves, 
h not always even then, against literary sophistries 
mpure pictures ; but young people, boys and girls, 
t Vicious doctrines vitiate their mind, foul pictures 
I their imagination, depraved books deprave their 
:ter. Criminals often confess to having been ruined 
ihealthy literature. One Aubin, who was condemned 
ath and executed at Douai in 1877, said when giving 
:ount of his past life after his condemnation, that his 
:ious depravity had been due to reading bad books. 
;pite of my parents' wishes, who confiscated and 
d I do not know how many immoral and irreligious 

of mine, I was for ever feeding on such literature, 
xperienced an irresistible craving to follow in the 
eps of these heroes of romance, whom I then looked 
as the leaders of elegance and high tone." 
; young people of the present day are poisoned 
ie air they breathe; newspapers, novels, operettas, 
ar songs of the café-concerts, everything they see, 
:ad, and hear, presents to their eyes, ears and imagina- 
nages of too free a kind, all tending to stir precocious 
>n. I have before me the catalogue of a People's 
ry, in which are included, by way of forming our 
en's character, the Pucelle of Voltaire, Les Amoureuses 
ris, La Nonne amoureuse, Les Viveurs de Paris, Filles 

1 Conversations of Goethe and Eckermann, p. 268. 


Lorettes et Courtisanes, L'Amoureux de la Reine, Les Dran 
galants, Une Femme de feu, Une Affolée d'amour, and 
hundred other books of the same sort. I have seen gmrk 
of fourteen and fifteen come for these books to the library 
in question, which was founded by the most influential 
politician of the district, without the Inspector-General of 
Libraries finding a word to say against the choice of boob 
forming the collection. Surely it would not be inopportune 
to remind this official that it is not in the school of obscene 
literature the youth entrusted to his care will learn the 
virtues it so much needs, that bad morals make bad 
citizens and bad soldiers, and that when the Roman armies 
were beaten by the Barbarians, obscene books were found 
in the possession of the vanquished soldiery. 1 A noble 
poet, H. de Bornier, who rightly believes that one of the 
greatest dangers a country can run is found in immoral 
reading, has written a play called Le Fils de fArétin, to 
combat this peril. In it Bayard, well aware of the havoc 
wrought by profligacy and obscene books among soldiers, 
says : 

" Maudites soient du ciel les œuvres de débauche ! . . . 
Moi soldat, je le sais, je sais que tel ouvrage 
En abaissant l'esprit, abaisse le courage ! " a 

I have read somewhere that Prince Bismarck thought 
the same, and did all he could to keep the Prussian army 
from the danger of immoral reading. 

If Society has a large share of responsibility for the 
deterioration of the young people of the day and the con- 
sequent frequency of suicide and crime arising out of 
amorous passion, parents are no less responsible in many 
cases, through their culpable weakness, for this precocity 
in profligacy and criminality. By accustoming their 
children to yield to every caprice, parents, and above all 
mothers, little know how utterly incapable their weak 
indulgence is making their children of resisting the 

1 Plutarch, Life of Marcus Crassus. 

1 " Cursed of Heaven be the works of profligacy ! ... As a soldier, I know 
that such stuff by degrading the mind, degrades the courage too ! " 


emptations of passion. " An effeminate education," Plato 
^ays, "undoubtedly makes children peevish, ill-tempered 
md always ready to get angry for the most trivial 
easons. 1 In the Vladimiroff trial, as in others, it was 
>roved that the extreme nervous excitability of the 
luthors of crimes of passion was due in part to the 
>ad education they had received from weak and foolish 
nothers. Such maternal weakness arises not merely from 
excess of affection, but from defective intelligence and a 
>erverse spirit of opposition against the father's authority 
md a regular piece of selfish calculation, so as to win over 
:he children's love by a course of indulgence. Maternal 
weakness, producing as it does spoiled children, peevish, 
selfish creatures, unfit to bear the slightest cross and 
jreedy only for pleasure, is rearing beings directly pre- 
disposed to such forms of suicide and crime as result 
From passionate impulse. Young people are never taught 
to endure ennui, disappointment or pain ; they must be for 
ever having amusement and enjoying themselves. But, to 
live one's life out, a man must know how to bear weariness 
md grief and pain. 

" Savoir souffrir la vie et voir venir la mort 
C'est le devoir du sage et tel sera mon sort." a 

Young people often resort to suicide and crime of the 
ype that forms the subject of the present work, i.e. suicide 
md crime arising out of amorous passion, from the most 
trivial motives, being incapable of tolerating the smallest 
-esistance to their wishes. The Assize Court of Algiers 
Tied a young man of nineteen, who being engaged to a 
jirl of seventeen, killed her because she would not let him 
ciss her and generally showed too much self-restraint 
where he was concerned. I have heard women on trial for 
various crimes curse their mother's weak indulgence which 
lad ruined them by gratifying all their caprices, and 
•ecognize the fact, when it was too late, that they would 

1 Plato, Laws, bk. vii. 

* " To know how to endure life and see death's approach, this is the duty of 
he wise man, and such shall be my lot." Gresset, Edward III. 


still have been good and happy women, if only they ha^d 
listened to their father's good advice, which had formerly 
seemed too harsh to them on account of the contrast it 
presented to their mother's indulgence. 

Further, I attribute the frequency of crimes and suicides 
of passion to the development of nevrosity. Diseases of 
the will and the nervous system are more frequent than of 
old. We have grown more sensitive, more impressionable. 
The reasoning powers are lowered, the will weakened, 
while sensibility has grown more acute. A host of 
different causes have determined the advances made by 
nevrosity. Modern life is more agitated than in former 
days, especially in our large towns, while the country is 
more and more deserted, where life is calmer, and the open 
air gives rest and refreshment to the mind. The excite- 
ment incident to life in large towns is further increased by 
the preoccupation of the struggle for existence, becoming 
every day more severe. In a study I published in the 
Revue des Deux Mondes of May I, 1898, on suicides due 
to extreme poverty in Paris, I showed by means of the 
documents in the Public Prosecutor's Office of the Depart- 
ment of the Seine that a certain section of the Parisian 
population lives in constant dread of not being able to find 
work and so pay its rent. This anxiety shatters the nervous 
system. Poor women, too weak to endure the privations 
and hardships of life, are exposed to nervous disorders 
through excess of suffering. Excessive indulgence in 
pleasure, worldly preoccupations, long evenings in theatres 
and drawing-rooms, where the air remains unchanged, a 
luxurious, agitated yet idle life makes women of the world 
intensely nervous. On the other hand men equally find 
concentrated in the great towns every cause of fatigue and 
nevrosity, — keenness of competition, eagerness of pro- 
fessional rivalry, anxieties of business, and along with all 
this overtaxing of the moral and intellectual powers, 
everything conducive to physical over-excitement. 

Again, work is not always carried on under conditions 
satisfactory for the nervous system. Sewing machines, 


electricity as applied to industry, the vibration of various 
nachines, produce nervous disorders. Young women who 
vork in badly ventilated workrooms, with insufficient food, 
toon become anaemic and nervous. The female staff in 
elegraph offices and telephone exchanges is specially 
iable to nervous troubles. 

Reading for examinations and the overwork it involves 
eads to many cases of nerve weakness or neurasthenia. 
Failure often produces profound discouragement, fits of 
lespair and even madness and suicide. I have myself 
teen some cases of this. 

The alarming progress made by alcoholism in the last 
wenty years is well known ; and we know that the children 
>f alcoholic parents are often nervous, irritable and badly 

In the higher classes of society, the abuse of pleasures 
tnd of erotic music, the strain after over-wrought emotions, 
he craving for refinements of luxury and the table, weaken 
he will and unduly develop sensibility and sensuality at 
he expense of reason. In very many contemporary novels 
he heroines are neuropathic, just like the society ladies 
rho have served the authors as models. 

The great wars of the empire, in which so many of the 
strongest and most vigorous men of the nation died on 
he field of battle, yet further contributed to the enfeeble- 
nent of the public health and the nervous exhaustion of 
subsequent generations. 

The mighty political and social commotions France has 
jone through during the last hundred years, Revolutions, 
he War of 1870, 1871, the Siege of Paris, the Commune, 
iie progress of Revolutionary Socialism, losses of fortune 
ind employment following on changes of Government, have 
shattered the nervous system of a large number of men 
ind women who lived for years in the midst of terror and 
ierce emotions. 

Such then are the chief causes that have made nervous 
lisorders more common than formerly. But nervous 
patients are naturally predisposed to the commission of 


suicides and crimes of passion, because nevrosity rendei* 
passion irritable, morbid, uncontrollable, weakening at tic 
same the will which alone could hold it in check. 

Diseases of the will have increased in direct proportion 
as nevrosity has advanced. We note in many women a 
brilliant imagination, a bright and agreeable wit, but along 
with all this, a poor, weak will and a lack of vigour to 
strive and react against temptations in adverse circum- 
stances. Want of will power becomes more and more 
frequent among men, even men of talent; a "strong man" 
is a more and more rare phenomenon. Such weakness 
shows itself everywhere in the management of the family, 
no less than in that of the Government. No one now 
understands the art of commanding, — or of obeying. 
General Jarras, Chief of the Staff in the Army of Metz, has 
left it on record that it was weakness of will, even more 
than want of intelligence, that made the Commander-in- 
Chief an incapable officer. He writes, " He possessed in 
no sense the energy necessary for command ; he did not 
know how to say ' I will ! ' and to be obeyed. To give a 
plain and precise order was an impossibility for him." 
Enfeeblement of character was an equally marked trait of 
Roman society at the period of the Decadence of the 
Empire. Such relaxation of will power is mainly due to 
two things, sensualism and scepticism ; to be strong, the 
will requires to be based on a sense of duty. It is the 
same spirit of scepticism and sensualism that makes passion 
morbid, irritable, liable at a moment's notice to be carried 
away into suicide or crime. 

The insufficient provisions of our Law for the protection 
of girls against seduction is another determining cause of 
acts of feminine revenge. Young girls are not adequately 
protected in France. At thirteen, she is presumed to have 
given a free consent ! — at thirteen ! The Law takes no 
sufficient account of the consequences of seduction. 
Merciless towards the victim, public opinion is very in- 
dulgent towards the seducer. In every literature manuals 
of seduction exist for the use of profligates. 


If these villains were compelled to repair the wrongs 
they do towards the girls they seduce and the child they 
are, — or rather ought to be, — responsible for, they would 
be less eager to make " conquests," which might in time 
become burdensome. Prudence would impose some self- 
control on them, which Conscience is by itself powerless 
to dictate. Then, if there were fewer poor girls seduced, 
there would be fewer throwers of vitriol, fewer desperate 
women charged with abortion and infanticide. 

True, the Law awards damages to the girl who has 
been seduced and become a mother, in reliance on a 
fictitious promise of marriage, but the reparation is in- 
adequate. We must go further; what is wanted is a 
modification of the Law forbidding inquiry into the 
question of paternity. This reform is demanded by MM. 
Lecointa, Bérenger, Beaune, Poiton, Beudant, Rodière, 
Laurent, that is to say by magistrates and lawyers 
possessed of the practical spirit ; it is no mere Utopia. 
—Again, why not modify the law requiring the recogni- 
tion of a natural child to be made by an authentic act ? 
Why regard as null and inadmissible the letters in which 
the natural father, writing to the girl he has seduced, 
acknowledges his paternity? Our code is old-fashioned, 
it wants reforming. While other nations are better at 
making reforms than revolutions, we French are best at 
the latter ; we find it easier to overthrow a government 
iian to modify a law. Our lawyers hate all innovations. 
No doubt the problem to be solved is a delicate one. 
I cannot here enter into the merits of the case ; I must 
se content to point out the necessity for a reform which 
bas already been accomplished by the legislators of other 
:ountries. In a body of law where every offence causing 
prejudice to another person involves a responsibility, 
whether penal or civil, it is not right that the seducer 
done should be irresponsible, and suffered with impunity 
:o turn out mother and child on the streets without succour 
>r assistance. The man who makes the child should rear 
t. It is incomprehensible that the Law should punish 


with death the crime of infanticide committed by 3 
mother driven to sin by shame, want and despair, a^^y 
at the same time acquit of all civil responsibility whatever 
the moral infanticide t;he profligate father is guilty of by 
forsaking his child. In a society where animals are pro- 
tected, and very rightly, it is surely inconceivable that 
the victims of seduction and their illegitimate children 
should not enjoy the like privilege. 



" Les premiers poètes, les premiers auteurs rendaient sages les 
hommes fous ; les auteurs modernes cherchent à rendre fous les 
hommes sages." 1 — Joubert. 

Mme. DE STAËL, writing down her reflections on suicide 
in the year 1812, declared that suicides were rare in France, 
and that in any case they could not be attributed either 
to melancholy of disposition or exaltation of ideas. The 
French character has changed greatly since that date ; it 
has become melancholy : 

" Gaieté, génie heureux, qui fut jadis le nôtre, 
Rire dont on riait d'un bout du monde à l'autre, 
Esprit de nos aïeux, qui te réjouissais 
Dans Téternel bon sens, lequel est né français, 
Fleurs de notre pays, qu'êtes- vous devenues ? n 2 

A host of reasons, social, political, religious, economic, 
physiological and literary, have transformed the National 
character. Suicide has become very common at all ages. 
The number increases in an alarming ratio : 

From 1827 to 1830, there were on the average 1739 
suicides a year, that is to say f*ve suicides for every 100,000 
inhabitants of the country. 

From 1876 to 1880, the average number was 6259 yearly, 
seventeen suicides for every 100,000. 

1 " The poets and authors of an earlier day made fools into wise men ; our 
modern authors do all they can to turn wise men into fools." 

* " Bright spirit of happy gaiety, that once was ours, laughing at all things 
laughable from one end of the earth to the other, merry soul of our ancestors 
that gladdened you with unfailing good sense, the native heritage of every 
Frenchman, fine flowers of our land, what has become of you? " 



In 1887, there were twenty-one suicides for every ioo,o^# 
of the population. 

In 1895, the total rose to 9253, including 7288 men aut/ 
1966 women. 

Suicide has become the disease of the century. 

Not only are suicides much more frequent than among 
the peoples of Antiquity, but the motives determining 
them have changed. With the Ancients suicide was re- 
sorted to chiefly from political and patriotic motives, or on 
the termination of a war to avoid falling into the hands 
of the conquerors. 1 Suicides from love were not numerous. 

Nowadays suicides, which have become much more 
frequent, are determined by habits of intemperance, dis- 
appointed ambition, loss of money, extreme poverty, 
jealousy, dissipation, love sorrows. Few kill themselves 
out of patriotism. In his book on Waterloo, M. Henri 
Houssaye relates how a French officer, in despair at being 
defeated, put an end to himself after blowing out his 
horse's brains; but instances of the sort are extremely 

Imaginative literature contributes not a little to increase 
the number of suicides, and we hear of literary suicides 
carried out in imitation of characters in fiction and plays. 

In chapter x. of my book on Le Crime et la Peine, I 
have already treated in a general way of the influence of 
imitation on morality and criminality. I have shown that 
the tendency to imitation is an instrument of moral 
education on the one hand or of corruption on the other, 
according to the examples given. I propose here to 
point out the influence of the examples provided by novels 
and plays, which utilize suicide as a mainspring of their 

I have repeatedly noticed that members of the same 
family have put an end to themselves in the same house, 

1 In this way the Teuton women, after praying Marius to send them to Rome 
"asa gift to the Vestal Virgins, declaring they would renounce all intercourse 
with men," but having failed to obtain the favour, hanged themselves the 
following night. If their husbands, writes Valerius Maximus, had had the 
same courage as their wives, Marius would never have won the day. 


on the same spot, by the same means, with the same 
weapon and sometimes actually on the same day of the 
year and at the same hour. Often in the written state- 
ments they leave behind them, they themselves declare 
their suicide is an imitation of that of their father, mother, 
or some other relative. I read, for instance, in a letter left 
behind by a suicide, whose mother and an uncle had both 
put an end to themselves : " I do as my mother did." We 
see husbands announcing that they will kill themselves 
under the same circumstances as those surrounding their 
wife's suicide. 

This fatal repetition of the same terrible acts can only 
be accounted for by the extraordinary power of the 
tendency to imitation, by the suggestions arising from the 
example and words of the previous suicide and the spot 
where the deed was carried out. All this proves there is 
such a thing as mental contagion, no less than physical 
and nervous contagion. 

Mental contagion is also demonstrated by the inter- 
communication of ideas and sentiments that takes place 
among men in habitual intercourse with each other, by 
conversation between relatives and between friends ; men 
reciprocally act and react on each other in the way of 
suggestion by their doings and words. It is in this 
contagious imitation that the explanation is to be sought 
of those epidemics of suicide that break out, particularly 
among women and soldiers in barracks, — that is to say 
among persons who by their sex and youth are specially 

After this, how can anyone doubt as to the influence 
exerted by author over reader, by literature over morals ? * 
To be convinced of its reality, it is enough to remember 
how Writers mould their readers in their own image, 
how they make them participate in their own ideas, 

1 Still this influence is denied by some eminent critics, by Cuvillier-Fleury 
{Dernières Etudes historiques et littéraires, vol. i. p. 174), by M. Jules 
Lem&ftre {Les Contemporains ; 4th Series, p. 165), by M. Faguet (La Revue 
Bleue, 25th Feb. 1893). 


passions and sentiments. Voltaire made men Voltairian 
Goethe Wertherians, Byron Byronics, Leopardi Leopardist$ 
Lamartine Lamartinian Romantics, Hugo Worshippers 
of the great Victor, George Sand Sandists, Murger 
Bohemians, Baudelaire Baudelairians, Tolstoï Christian 

Philosophers have their disciples and school of imitators, 
— Saint Thomas Aquinas the Thomists, Luther the Luth- 
erans, Calvin the Calvinists, Rabelais the Rabelaisians, 
Descartes the Cartesians, Spinoza the Spinozists, Kant the 
Kantists, Hegel the Hegelians, Renan the Renanists, 
Lacordaire the Lacordairians. 

Everywhere we find imitation, in politics as in literature. 
In politics, some copy Brutus, some Caesar, this man 
Catiline, that Robespierre, that other Danton ; even Marat 
has had his imitators. The historians and orators of the 
Republics of Athens and Rome have made republicans, 
even under the ancien régime at the end of the Eighteenth 
Century, and thus paved the way for the French Revolu- 
tion. "Guard carefully," says Condillac addressing the 
republican youth of his day, " guard carefully those early 
feelings inspired in you by the perusal of Ancient History." 
Forgetful of the fact that political laws should be adapted 
to the character, traditions and temperament of each 
several people, the makers of constitutions have more 
often than not been mere plagiarists ; at one time it is 
the English Constitution they make an awkward copy of, 
at another they draw their inspiration from the Republics 
of Antiquity, at another they sit down to reproduce the 
institutions of Switzerland or the United States. It is 
this mania for imitation that has compromised in France 
the establishment of a form of government really adapted 
to the genius of her people. 

National literatures again imitate one another. Our own, 
for instance, has been, turn and turn about, a copy of Latin 
literature, of Greek, of Italian, of Spanish, of English 
and German literature ; at the present moment it copies 
Russian. And these literary imitations are invariably 


ccompanied by a corresponding imitation of tastes and 
nanners. Whenever it has copied such and such a foreign 
iterature, our literature has at the same time imbued 
he mind of its readers, and inoculated Society generally 
rith such and such a feeling and sentiment, — the senti- 
aent of order and discipline in connection with Roman 
iterature, that of grace and beauty with Greek literature, 
rit and finesse with Italian, heroism with Spanish, melan- 
holy with English and German, pity with Russian. 

The books children read, and above all the books they 
ead first, leave an ineffaceable impress on their minds. 
Nothing is more impressionable than a child's brain. We 
peak of it as being of wax, and receiving impressions as 
bough graven on a soft surface ; and these metaphors 
epresent an actual physiological truth. First impressions 
re ineradicable; they become essential notions of the 
dind and lead to the actions of the future. The influence 
f early reading often lasts a lifetime and sometimes de- 
ermines the direction of a man's whole career. Books of 
ravel inspire boys with the taste for exploration; Jules 
feme makes many travellers. Lives of navigators and 
ooks written by naval officers rouse in young readers a 
iste for the sea ; Pierre Loti makes many sailors. We see 
hildren of twelve, thirteen, fourteen, after reading a book 
f travels that has enchanted them, leave home and start 
way to visit the country that attracts their fancy. The 
act has been noticed in the newspapers, and I have 
bserved it myself in the course of my official duties, as 
cing by no means uncommon. The central offices often 
>rward at the request of parents to country police stations 
lie description of children who have run away from home 
3 see Paris, Russia, the coast of the Mediterranean, or 
ome other country of which they have read fascinating 
ccounts in some book. 

The biographies of great Captains inspire a taste for 
rar. The account of a fight described in the Iliad led 
dexander the Great to throw himself into the career of 
nns. A man grows brave, a Roman of the Romans, as 


he reads Plutarch's Lives of Famous Men. Jean-Jacques 
Rousseau tells us how, when quite a child, fired by the 
tales of Plutarch, reading one day at table the story of 
Mucius Scaevola, he put his hand on a chafing-dish and 
kept it there, to represent the hero's noble deed. The 
history of Napoleon I. has led thousands to adopt a 
military career. The admirers of his genius, Béranger, 
Bathèlemy, Méry, and above all Victor Hugo, have made 
Napoleon popular and prepared the way for the Second 
Empire. The Tragedies of ^Eschylus fired the Greeks 
with patriotism and hatred of their Persian foes. M Every 
man," says Aristophanes, " who had ever read the Seven 
against Thebes burned to march forward to the fight" 
Tyrtaeus* war-songs roused the martial spirit of another 
section of the same people. The Marseillaise breathed 
the very spirit of heroism into the men of the Great 
Revolution. Pious works are called edifying, because 
they edify, or build up, the moral man. 

Every man, Bacon says, is born a debtor,— debtor to his 
father and mother, to his teachers, to the writers who have 
formed his mind. No one who has read and re-read 
Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius, Descartes and Maine de 
Biran, will ever say he owes nothing to books, or that 
Literature exerts no influence on morals ; he would be 
basely ungrateful if he did. Saint Augustine tells how a 
book of Cicero's, now lost, changed his heart 1 " Are you 
vain," says Horace ; " then read thrice with respect such 
and such a little book and you are cured." ... Do 
you feel some evil passion occupying your heart ; defend 
yourself against it by reading some good book that elevates 
the heart. " There are words and magic phrases, the 
virtue of which will soothe this frenzy and remove much 
of the evil." 2 

A good book does infinite good, just as a bad book may 
do an incalculable amount of harm. The greatest bene- 
factors and the greatest enemies of mankind are books. 

1 Confession of Saint Augustine , bk. iii. ch. iv. 

2 Horace, Epistles, bk. i. Ep. i. 


One little book, the Gospel, has renewed the face of the 
world. By its instrumentality, the poor have been suc- 
coured, the sick better tended, women more honoured, 
children more kindly treated, marriage has been purified, 
new virtues practised, the equality of men and the fraternity 
of nations proclaimed. Another book, the Koran, it is 
which preaches sensuality and cruelty to thousands of 
mankind, and is the greatest obstacle to the progress of 
civilization and the Mussulman peoples. 

If there are books that inspire courage, patriotism and 
the sense of honour, there are others which predispose the 
soldier to cowardice, contempt of discipline and disgust 
with the conditions of military life. 

A good pen is as powerful a weapon as a good sword. 
The word of a single man may avail more than a whole 
army. Francis I. admitted freely that the Bishop of Sion 
had done him more hurt than all Switzerland with its 
armies. 1 Louis XVIII. recognized that Chateaubriand's 
pamphlet against Napoleon I. had been more useful to 
him than a host of men. — There are pens sharper than 
daggers, styles more deadly than stilettos, inks that burn 
more fiercely than vitriol. 

The influence exerted by Literature is greater in our 
own days than formerly, because it no longer finds the 
same counterpoise in social influences which were formerly 
more powerful than at present. The active effects of 
Religion have diminished, especially amongst the lower 
orders, the power of government is greatly weakened, and 
besides is not invariably on the side of traditional ideas, 
paternal and marital authority have less vitality from day 
to day. On the other hand, the influence of books, 
newspapers and the stage is continually growing greater. 

This influence of Literature is particularly marked in the 
case of persons of nervous temperament, who gifted as they 
are with more than average sensibility, sympathize more 
readily with the writers. Nevrosity creates a special 
aptitude for mental contagion. 

1 Bayle, Dissertation sur Us libellas diffamatoires. 


Books then are the most powerful agents of civilization 
or corruption. With each of us there are certain authors 
(it may be one, or it may be more), who inspire our pre- 
dilections and feelings. We make their thoughts our own, 
and model ourselves on them; our behaviour is based 
upon the ideas and images their books suggest, on the 
doctrines and examples they set before our eyes. 

Books again it is that have taught us to love Nature, 
the woods, lakes and mountains. Peasants who live in the 
country do not as a rule appreciate its beauties ; it is 
readers of Rousseau, of Chateaubriand, Lamartine, George 
Sand, who feel its charm the most. So great is the power 
of descriptive writers that they give a vogue to the par- 
ticular district they delineate with loving care. Rousseau 
has done this with Switzerland, Clarens, the Lake of 
Geneva, the neighbourhood of Chambéry and the woods 
of Montmorency. Bernardin de Saint- Pierre has made all 
the world in love with the landscape of the Tropics» 
Chateaubriand has discovered the glories of the Virgin 
Forest and Savannahs of America, the beauties of Greece 
and Judaea. Balzac has taught us to admire Touraine, 
George Sand Berri and Brizeux, Chateaubriand and Renan 
Brittany, Flaubert and Maupassant Normandy, Mistral 
and Daudet Provence and Languedoc, Pierre Loti Iceland 
and Japan. Few of us can understand Nature without the 
help of the writers who have depicted her. Most people 
see her only through their recollections of what they have 
read. Watching a storm, Charlotte in Goethe's Werther 
exclaims : " Oh ! Klopstock ! " — because she remembers 
to have read a description of one in that poet. Tourists 
sailing at evening by moonlight on the Lake of Bourget, 
cannot refrain from crying on the name of Lamartine, and 
singing stanzas of his poem Le Lac. In a cultivated 
intellect literary reminiscences are associated with the 
events of everyday life, even under the most tragic circum- 
stances. A desperate man (I have seen an instance), will 
start out to commit suicide, singing the air from Faust: 
" All hail ! my latest morn." In a case of murder, I found 


that the murderer had gone to the spot where the crime 
was to be committed, singing the air from William Tell: 
"To my good right I boldly trust." The better to adapt 
the verse to the means he proposed to employ, — his 
intention was to knock down his victim with a vigorous 
blow, he had added the word arm to that of rights and 
sang : " In my good right arm I boldly trust ! " 

Clavière, one of the Girondists, repeated this couplet 
of Voltaire's, as he made his preparations for suicide : 

" Quand on a tout perdu, quand on n'a plus d'espoir, 
La vie est un opprobre et la mort un devoir." J 

Lucan, after opening his veins at Nero's command, 
proceeded to recite the lines in which he had described 
a wounded soldier bleeding to death like himself. 

Travels in the East were brought into fashion by 
Chateaubriand, Byron and Lamartine. Venice owes a 
part of its popularity to Lord Byron, George Sand and 
Alfred de Musset. We think of Mérimée, when we visit 
Corsica, of Théophile Gautier in Spain, of Victor Hugo 
on the banks of the Rhine. 

Nor do literary reminiscences serve only to express pre- 
existing sentiments; they are capable of creating new 
ones, of originating predilections and ideas we did not 
previously possess, of suggesting new lines of action. It 
may be questioned whether Nero, who was an artist run 
mad, (his dying words were " qualis artifex pereo y — Oh ! 
the loss to Art! the loss to Art!") did not burn Rome 
down, moved by a literary reminiscence of the burning 
of Troy, for Tacitus tells us that according to a rumour, 
M but one universally believed at the very time when his 
capital was in flames, he had mounted the boards of his 
theatre and sung the destruction of Troy." The infamous 
Gilles de Rays, Maréchal of France, who was executed in 
1440 for a long series of rapes and murders done to 
children, confessed that it was after reading Suetonius' 
account of the orgies of Tiberius and Caracalla that 

1 "When all is lost, and hope is gone, life is a disgrace and death a duty. 1 ' 


he conceived the idea of enticing children to his castle, 
polluting them and killing them afterwards. 1 

Lakes and seas have also their painters and poets. The 
Scotch poets have made men love the Highland Lakes, 
Byron the Lake of Geneva, Lamartine the Lake of 
Bourget, Victor Hugo the Ocean, Joseph Autran the 

Infidelity and Christianity are turn and turn about 
literary fashions. In the seventeenth century it was the 
proper thing to begin with love and end with religion. In 
the eighteenth, Voltaire brought hatred of revealed re- 
ligion into vogue ; while Chateaubriand in the nineteenth 
made a drawing-room Christianity once more fashionable. 

Feelings of sadness or gaiety, outbursts of passionate 
love or cries of despair and disappointment are often 
literary reminiscences. When youthful poets, believing 
themselves to be dying, asked a willow to be planted on 
their tomb, it was the recollection of an elegy by Millevoye 
or a poem by Lamartine that inspired the thought. 

Authors themselves copy each other, even to the par- 
ticular turn of phrase and the words used. For instance, 
in La Nouvelle Héloïse, Saint-Preux writes : " Seated at 
the feet of my beloved, I will pull hemp, and will wish for 
nothing else, to-day, to-morrow, the day after to-morrow, 
all my life long." Goethe borrows the sentiment, as well 
as its mode of expression, when he makes Werther say: 
" With you I wished in the old days to gather currants 
and shake plum-trees, to-morrow, the day after to-morrow, 
all my life." 

Love being an instinctive, intensely personal passion, 
depending on the temperament and character of each in- 
dividual, literary imitation would seem impossible in this 
case; yet books do actually originate fashions of making 
love. At all periods of history we find lovers accom- 
modating their actions to the fashion of love-making then 
in vogue in literature. A poet, a philosopher, or still more 

1 Jacob, Curiosités de P Histoire de frame ; Krafft-Ebing, Psyckopatkit 
sexuelle, p. 80. 


often a novelist, creates a type of love which serves society 
for a model. Plato created Platonic love, Sappho Sapphism, 
Theocritus, Virgil, d'Urfé made pastoral love popular, the 
Troubadours chivalrous love, Petrarch and Dante mystic 
love, while Mlle, de Scudéry brought preciosity into vogue, 
Corneille invented heroic, Racine passionate, Rousseau 
romantic love, Chateaubriand, Goethe and Lamartine in- 
troduced melancholy, the Romantics frenzy, the Naturalists 
realism into love, and the Marquis de Sade Sadism. 

In the Preface to Mademoiselle de Maupin, Théophile 
Gautier calls the man a fool who says literature influences 
morals; "books," he declares, "are the fruit of morals, 
good or bad — precisely as peas come in spring, without 
anybody's thinking of saying the peas make the spring 
come ; Boucher's little shepherdesses were painted and 
bare-bosomed, because the little Marquises of his day were 
the same." Doubtless pictures are painted from models, 
but in turn they become models themselves. Literature, 
I admit, is, if not the exact image of Society, at any rate 
a reflection of its manners, morals and aspirations; but 
Society in its turn becomes the image of Literature. There 
is a mutual action and reaction of Society upon Literature 
and Literature upon Society. Society acts upon Literature 
by providing it with models ; Literature reacts upon Society 
by giving it types which in their turn are copied. There 
is a reciprocal exchange of ideas between writers and the 
public. Imaginative writers, who as a matter of fact exer- 
cise very little imagination, seek their types in the world 
at large, while in their turn readers seek their models in 
books. Young men and women in especial feel in the 
highest degree the influence of novels and romances. The 
fair readers of Astrée adored shepherds, planned sheep- 
farms, longed to buy a flock to drive a-field in the 
meadows. In the coterie of Mlle, de Rambouillet, love 
was conducted after the fashion of the characters in Clélie 
and Cyrus. After the Cid, 

" Tout Paris pour Chimène eut les yeux de Rodrique ; " l 
1 " Ail Paris for Chimène had the eyes of Rodrique." 


all the young men were in love with Chimène, — they 
would fain love like Rodrique, and the women like 
Chimène. As a reaction against the free delineations of 
love Brantôme, Régnier, Marot had brought into vogue, 
d'LJrfé, Mlle, de Scudéry and Corneille purified love and 
made it chivalrous. Doubtless the manners of society 
were not so pure as the maxims of Clélie and the Ctd, but 
their ideal was to approximate to them. 

With the licentious Romances of the Eighteenth Century, 
Love grew frivolous. Marivaux teaches women to tnari- 
vaudize, as Petrarch had taught them to petrarchize. With 
Florian, pastoral life came into fashion again, and once 
more great ladies might be seen dressing as shepherdesses» 
building dairies and florianizing, as it was called. 

After the publication of the Nouvelle Héloïse, every 
woman wished to be Julie, and every man Saint-Preux 
Notwithstanding all his genius which, one would think, 
should have saved him from imitating others, Napoleon I. 
borrowed from Jean-Jacques Rousseau the expression of 
his love, as he had in his youth borrowed his republican 
ideas from him. He too in his early days was an imitator 
of Saint-Preux. He copied Rousseau's style, borrowed his 
expressions and turn of phrase. 

Goethe brought in the fashion of dreamy, melancholy 
love. This melancholy, which Goethe communicates to his 
contemporaries and indeed all his readers, was by his own 
admission an echo of the melancholy of Shakespeare's 
heroes. 1 The youth of Germany was at that time deeply 
penetrated by the charm of gloomy reading and a 
passionate love of English literature, " the melancholy, 
sombre impress of which affects the minds of all who 
cultivate it . . . Hamlet and his soliloquies were spectres 

1 Memoirs of Gottht, p. 203. — Montesquieu is mistaken in attributing the 
"spleen" of Englishmen exclusively to the dismal and foggy climate of their 
country ; in other countries as foggy as England, for instance Holland and the 
Lyonnais, the same tendency to melancholy and suicide is not observed. It 
is rather to Literature, to the imitation of Hamlet and other heroes of Romance 
and the Stage, that English " spleen " must be attributed.— It is from English 
Literature also that Voltaire seems to me to have borrowed the theory of 


hat haunted all men's brains." Young men in Goethe's 
lay would recite on any and every occasion the chief 
>assages of Hamlet, which they knew by heart, and 
urrogated to themselves the right to be as melancholy as 
he Prince of Denmark, though they had neither father to 
ivenge nor guilty mother to bear with, and had never seen 
1 £host in their lives. Werther only put into words the 
norbid condition affecting the youth of Germany, misled 
>y a silly imitation of Hamlet, himself a morbid character, 
rimost a madman, haunted with the idea of suicide ; the 
nine was ready, it was Goethe's Story that fired the spark 
ind brought about the explosion. 

It is well known that in Werther Goethe has described 
in episode of his own youth and that the tragic end of the 
lero of the romance was borrowed from an incident ol 
vhich he was a witness. One of his friends, Jerusalem, 
leeply smitten with love for a married woman, killed himself 
n despair. The friend in question was a victim of his 
-eading; on his table was found a copy of a tragedy of 
Lessing's, Emilia Ga/otte, a circumstance Goethe did not 
ail to reproduce in the history of Werther. According 
to Kestner, Jerusalem " used to devour great numbers of 
novels and admitted himself there was hardly a romance 
he was not acquainted with." His suicide deeply im- 
pressed Goethe. M. E. Rod refuses to believe he ever 
really thought of killing himself; still he has himself put 
it on record in his Memoirs that he tried to commit suicide. 
He pondered long as to the form of death he had better 
choose, passing in review in succession, hanging, drowning, 
fire-arms, the opening of a vein ; " after much reflection," 
he writes, u on different kinds of suicide, I found none more 

suicide he has developed in his Orphelin de la Chine. Idame proposes to 
Zanti to die with him, declaring : 

• ' Les mortels généreux disposent de leur sort. . . . 
• Un affront leur suffit pour sortir de la vie, 

Et plus que le néant ils craignent l'infamie. " 

" High-minded mortals are masters of their fate. ... An affront is enough 
to make them quit this life, and more than death they fear dishonour.'* 


noble than that adopted by Otho, Emperor of the Romans." 
Every night he would lay a very handsome poniard by his 
bed-side, and before extinguishing his candle, would try to 
drive it into his breast; unable to succeed in this attempt, 
he ended by laughing at himself, and to complete his cure, 
resolved to embody his feelings in a romance. He got 
relief by turning reality into poetry. Unfortunately his 
friends "supposed themselves bound to turn poetry into 
reality and now and again put a bullet through their 
heads." Werther led to a veritable epidemic of suicide, 
which we may call Wertheritis. So many were the victims 
of the Tale that a Protestant pastor spoke of Goethe as a 
murderer. Mothers wrote to the author to reproach him 
for having driven their sons to suicide. 

The son of a woman of letters, Mme. von Hohenhausen, 
shot himself at Bonn after reading Werther, several 
passages of which he had underlined. His mother in 
despair wrote a letter to Goethe, which all writers might 
well take to heart : " Ye men whom God has gifted with 
genius," she told him, " men who should of rights be the 
teachers of the human race, God will require an account 
of the use you have put your talents to." At Halle a 
copy of Werttier was found in the pocket of a shoemaker's 
apprentice, who had committed suicide by throwing him- 
self from a window into the street Mile, von Lasbergof 
Weimar believing herself to be deserted by her fiancé, 
threw herself into a river ; she had a Werther on her at 
the time. 1 

To realize the extraordinary influence this Romance 
exercised over a great number of readers whom it led on 
to suicide, we must remember the fact that the notion of 
suicide is essentially infectious, that it is disseminated 
with great rapidity by the sight or merely by the account of 
acts of a similar kind, and that it is readily communicated 
by young people to one another. Here is a recent instance 
of suggestion in the direction of suicide taken from the 
official records of a case preserved in the Central Police 

1 Merièrcs, Goethe expliqué par ses ouvres. 


Dffices of the Department of the Seine. A young man 
employed in a merchant's office, indignant at a scolding 
lis master had just given him, conceives a sudden disgust 
or life and starts off for the Seine to drown himself. On 
lis way thither he meets two of his friends, clerks like 
limself but in another office. He tells them of his deter- 
nination, and paints in the blackest colours the miseries 
>f life. His comrades listen to him at first with interest, 
wesently with a more lively sympathy ; little by little, as 
le goes on, they realize and approve his resolution and 
inally make up their minds to adopt it too. Then all 
hree proceed to throw themselves into the river. I leave 
he reader to draw for himself the psychological conclusion 
rom these facts and to understand how little man, quite 
ightly defined by the Idealists as a free being endowed 
rith reason, is reasonable in practice, and how he is really 
obbed of his freedom by the influence of a word, a sug- 
gestion. To give one more example. A girl of seventeen 
lecides to drown herself for some trivial reason; before 
tatting to carry out her intention, she writes the following 
ines : " I am going to kill myself, because I am tired of 
ny life; finding myself superfluous in the world, I am going 
o find my lost sister who drowned herself like me last 
rear, in the month of May." Her sister had drowned 
lerself in May 1896, so she is going to drown herself in 
flay 1897! 

When once the notion of suicide has sprung up in the 
>rain, and has not been instantly rejected, it makes a 
odgment there, grows into a fixed idea, a possession 
>f the spirit, to struggle against which becomes more 
md more difficult. Here is a recent instance, again 
arrowed from the official report of a case of suicide, to 
rhich I find the following letter appended : " I am so 
/eary of life, a notion has come to me to destroy myself; 
ver since that day I have been troubled in mind and 
mable to get rid of the idea ; on the contrary, the further 

have gone, the heavier has it grown to bear. I went to 
ee a priest at the Jesuits' College, and he said a mass 


for me on several occasions. I have taken to wearing 
the scapulary, and my Confessor has given me much good 
advice, but God alone knows what is to become of me. 
I have lived for the last six years in chronic disgust at 
the life of my kind ; I have sought to distract my mind 
in every way, and have done whatever my companions 
did, but my heart was not in it Unable to continue in 
such a state, I now make up my mind to end it all." — To 
give another instance. A young man of twenty shoots 
himself through the heart with a revolver, after writing 
a letter to his parents in these terms : " My dear parents» 
forgive me the sad resolve I have adopted, but life has 
been a burden to me for a long time. I have always been 
subject to black thoughts that make my life unbearable. 
I have struggled against them till now, but at last I bave 
lost all hope and have made up my mind to die." 

If the temptation to suicide is so difficult to resist for 
neuropaths, whose number is so great, when it takes root 
in their mind without any of the prestige of poetry, it is 
easily comprehensible how forcibly the fancy of young 
people must be struck by the perusal of a novel, in which 
suicide is depicted in the most attractive colours, as an 
act of heroism, a sign of passionate and romantic love. 
Goethe told Eckermann towards the end of his life, that 
he re-read Werther only once and had taken good care 
not to look at it again, because its perusal made him fed 
ill at ease, and he feared a return of the mental agonies 
he had described in that work ; he compared it to a 
battery of fire-bombs. 1 

Werther was translated into all languages, and fired 
the fancy of young people not only in Germany, but 
in neighbouring countries as well. When Bonaparte 
started for Egypt, he took with him a copy of Werther. 
The disease became epidemic. It spread to Italy, naturally 

1 M. Ed. Rod, who published not long ago in the Revue des Deux Memk* 
a remarkable study on Goethe, appears to me to have made a mistake in 
stating that Goethe always had an undoubted predilection for this Romance 
of his early days. Mme. de Staël had, on the contrary, written long before 
in L Allemagne, — and rightly, — that Goethe attached little value to the book. 


the land of gaiety rather than of melancholy. Foscolo 
wrote the Romance of Jacobo Ortis, in which subject, form 
and catastrophe are similar to those of Werther. The name 
Jacobo Ortis % under which the book was published, was 
that of a young man who had committed suicide at Padua. 
Foscolo's hero, like Werther, kills himself in consequence 
of disappointed passion ; he loves a married woman, and 
unable to be hers, plunges a dagger in his heart, firmly 
persuaded he has a right to destroy himself. Murders, 
it is true, are frequent enough in Italy, but suicides are 
rare, and we may well look upon the suicide of Jacobo 
Ortis as a literary imitation of Werther. 

Italians, lovers of life and its pleasures, whom the 
beauty of climate and sea invite to enjoyment, are little 
given to melancholy; yet they have had a great pessi- 
mistic poet in Leopardi, — 

" Sombre amant de la mort, pauvre Leopardi." l 

But it was above all in France that Werther spread the 
shadow of its melancholy. Napoleon was touched by it 
in his young days and dreamed of suicide. "One day, 
leaving the crowd of my fellow-men," he wrote on May 3rd, 
1788, " I enter the house to dream alone and give myself 
up to all the keenness of my melancholy. Which way 
does it point to-day? The way to death. In the dawn 
of my days, I can still hope to Hve long; what frenzy 
leads me io desire my own annihilation ? Doubtless the 
question, — what to do in this world ? As I am bound to 
die, is it not all the same if I kill myself? " A host of 
poets celebrated "divine melancholy." M. Legouvé re- 
presented it under the guise of a pensive maiden, "a 
cypress before her and Werther in her hand"; Mme. de 
Staël in L'Allemagne penned an enthusiastic panegyric of 
Goethe's Romance, and commended suicide in her work on 
the Influence of the Passion (L Influence des Passions) ; 2 

1 •* Gloomy lover of Death, poor Leopardi." 

* At a subsequent date she regretted this panegyric and wrote her Reflections 
m Suicide (Réflexions sur U Suicide) to counteract it. In this latter treatise 


Sismondi wrote a defence of self-destruction, which 
others applied in practice. Suicides became so frequent 
that Charles Nodier wrote in 1803: "The pistol of 
Werther and the headsman's axe have decimated us." 
He too, after he had intoxicated himself with the perusal 
of German Romances, wrote Le Peintre de Salzbourg, "a 
diary of the emotions of a suffering heart," and a poem 
entitled Le Suicide et les Pèlerins, in which he prays "the 
Father of Nature " to forgive the man who seeks to find 
a refuge in death. 

In 1818, several young men, united by the bonds of a 
very close intimacy, Ampère, Sautelet, Jules Bastide, 
Albert Stapfer, used to meet to read Werther, René, 
Obermann and Manfred together. When circumstances 
separated them, they used to exchange the impressions 
made on them by this melancholy reading. Ampère 
writes to his friend Bastide : " Alas ! there are times when 
I feel, like Werther, that God has turned away His face 
from man, and given him up to misfortune, without help 
or stay. Man is put on earth only to bear weariness and 
pain." In another letter he describes the bitter, fierce 
despair that filled him on reading Byron : " My dear Jules, 
all last week the sense of a curse was upon me, round about 
me, within me. I owe this to Lord Byron ; I have read 
Manfred through twice running in English. Never, never 
in all my life, has any work crushed me like this. It has 
made me ill." Ampère cured himself of this mental sick- 
ness by Science and Faith ; but his friend Sautelet, a 
favourite pupil of Cousin's, died of it at thirty. He wrote 
to one of his friends : " It is hardly possible to live a 
double life, to act and to think at the same time ; I feel, 
as I said I did in the summer, that man is set in the world 
for action, and yet I cannot abandon the other. You have 

she explains how the Germans, having no political life but being trained 
mainly by books, derive from these circumstances a habit of analysis and 
sophistry, a predilection for the far-fetched, that is injurious to masculine 
directness of conduct. She hopes Germany, recovering her national in* 
dependence, may be able to get rid of her morbid sentimentality and her 
literary suicides. 


no idea of the bad thought that just now flashes through 
my mind ; it is, that I should like to blow out my brains, 
to put an end to my doubts. If in a year or two life does 
not look clearer to me, I will end it. I will carry out this 
idea I have had of my Werther de la vérité, or The True 
Werther** (a work he was contemplating). " Perhaps this 
would be a piece of folly, perhaps a great action. I leave 
/ou to judge." * 

We cannot play with suicide with impunity, any more 
:han we can with love or madness. We may bring on 
madness by pretending we are mad, and we may end by 
killing ourselves, if we go on coquetting with the idea of 
suicide. This is precisely what happened to Sautelet. 
For eighteen months he had amused himself by saying 
aughingly he was going to kill himself; his friends 
haffed him about it, and he joked about it himself. 
Then, he left off talking about it, and six months later, 
le destroyed himself on the night of 12th, 13th May 1830, 
iter attending to a number of minute details of type- 
etting and printing for the number of the National that 
ras due to appear next day, and of which he was editor 
ind proprietor. 2 Armand Carrel states that a large 
lumber of other suicides took place at the same time 
\s Sautelet's. 

A few years later, two famous painters committed 
►uicide, Gros in consequence of disappointments, Leopold 
Robert through an unhappy love affair. A sculptor, 
Antoine Moine, a compatriot and friend of Jules Janin, 
ilso put an end to himself. " Disillusion seized him/ 1 
ays Jules Janin, "and with it weariness of everything; 
le ceased to care for the art that was his very life, he 
brgot all, even the young wife, who loved him so dearly, 

1 I borrow this letter from the Preface Sainte-Beuve prefixed in 1833 to the 
econd edition of Obtrmann. He added to it the following remark : '* How 
nany episodes like that we have just sketched, how many poems, dim, un- 
leard of, involved in a strange fatality, occur every moment round us in the 
ives of noble beings ! " 

* On May 14, 1830, the National was signed A. Thiers, Editor-in-Chief, 
: signing the journal provisionally in place of M. Sautelet, deceased." 


even his son, who already shadowed forth the high hopes 
he realized later on, and he died as Leopold Robert had 
died. Surely it is a crime and a great one to give such 
examples to survivors. Gros gives example to Leopold 
Robert, Leopold Robert points the way to Antoine Moine. 
Cannot they understand, these impatient spirits, that all 
men are jointly responsible for one another?" 1 The 
same author, Jules Janin, gives an account of another, 
very curious, suicide, that of a wig-maker of Courbevoie, 
by name Molard, who had been thrown off his balance 
by reading the Preface to Cromwell. He committed 
suicide by means of charcoal fumes, after penning the 
following note : " Farewell, my friends in Politics and 
Literature. . . . Farewell, all good neighbours, . . . down 
with the Vêpres Siciliennes (Sicilian Vespers) and long 
live Cromwell V^ 

René contributed quite as much as Werther itself to 
propagate the melancholy that leads to self-destruction. 
In his Défense du Génie du Christianisme, Chateaubriand 
states that he originally wrote the Story to combat "the 
special tendency of young men in this Century, the 
tendency leading straight to suicide," with the idea of 
inspiring repugnance " for these criminal fancies " ; but 
contrary to his intentions, he only disseminated the disease 
more widely, which he had meant to stay. Renés swarmed 
everywhere. Chateaubriand was in despair at the effect 
his Romance had produced on young people and was 
sorry he had ever written it. " If René did not exist," 
he said subsequently in the Mémoires d outre-tombe, a I 
would not write it now ; if it were possible to destroy it, 
I would do so. A whole tribe of Renés in poetry and 
prose has sprung up. . . . There is never a lad leaving 
school but dreams himself to be the most unfortunate of 
mankind ; never an urchin of sixteen who has not already 
exhausted life. ... I do not know what the Renés who 
have followed me have found to say to get into closer 

1 Jules Janin, Histoire de la Littérature dramatique^ vol. L, p. 34. 

2 Ibid. 


touch with insanity." By way of repudiating some of his 
responsibility, Chateaubriand added truly enough that he 
was not the first who had inspired young men with the 
taste for morbid melancholy. "Jean-Jacques Rousseau 
was the first to introduce among us these dreams, at once 
so culpable and so disastrous. By separating from his 
fellow-men and giving himself up to his own thoughts, 
he has led a host of young men to think it a noble thing 
to throw oneself into the dim abyss of life. Subsequently 
the story of Werther further developed the same poison. 
The author of the Génie du Christianisme, feeling bound 
to include in the scope of his apology some pictures to 
strike the fancy, has made a point of denouncing this 
new form of vice and depicting the fatal consequences of 
an inordinate love of solitude." 

By developing among young men a taste for dreaminess 
and solitude, the literature of imagination has inspired 
them with a disgust for action and a consequent disgust 
for life Solitude, an excellent thing for the philosopher 
and the man of religion, is often perilous for a young 
man, because it allows him to concentrate his thoughts 
on himself. "Solitude is bad for a man who does not 
share it with God," Father Louis says justly to René ; " it 
doubles the powers of the soul at the very time it robs 
them of all opportunity for their exercise." In places of 
religious retreat contemplative souls find " in God where- 
with to fill the void they feel within themselves," but young 
men who without faith plunge into solitary meditations, 
"will mistake hatred of mankind for the elevation ot 
genius, will repudiate all duty human and divine, will feed 
the isolation on the idlest fancies, and will sink deeper 
and deeper into a scornful misanthropy, the sure end of 
which is madness or death." l 

Werther, René and similar books have been bad models 
for young people, and have inoculated them with morbid 
melancholy and suicidal mania. Seeing this same melan- 
choly has inspired Goethe, Chateaubriand, Byron, Lamartine, 

1 Chateaubriand, Défense du Génie du Christianisme. 


and George Sand with the finest literary productions of the 
Nineteenth Century, we feel almost bound to think the 
reasons for the sentiment must all spring from elevation 
of soul and nobility of heart. 

But melancholy often arises from very prosaic causes, 
sometimes even physiological ones, especially with the 
young. That a grown man who has known the great 
griefs of life should be sad and melancholy is natural 
enough ; we should be surprised if he were not. But in 
young men who like René, Raphaël, Werther, conceive 
a disgust for life and dream of suicide, the weariness that 
consumes them and which they dignify with the name of 
melancholy, comes only from want of work to do, from 
repugnance for action in general, or for some trade or 
profession they deem unworthy of their genius, from in- 
ordinate self-conceit, and above all from an ardent desire 
for love that is not yet sated. The void they complain 
of is nothing but the wish to press a woman in their arms; 
Werther who can analyze his own feelings, has no difficulty 
in discovering the cause of all his sadness. "Alas I "he 
exclaims, " this void, this terrible void I feel in my bosom! 
I often think ... if you could once, only once, press her 
to your heart, you would be cured." The reason for the 
melancholy afflicting the hero of Charles Nodier's Peintrt 
de Salzbourg is the same as in Werther's case ; like 
Werther, he is in love with another man's wife and his 
pain, comes from the impossibility of enjoying her favours. 

No less does the melancholy of René proceeed from 
the vivacity of his amorous desires. " Having never yet 
loved, I was overwhelmed with a superabundance of 
vitality. At times I would blush unexpectedly and feel 
as it were torrents of red-hot lava coursing through toy 
veins ; at others I would utter involuntary cries, and night 
was divided between restless dreams and sleepless watch- 
ings ! Something was wanting to fill the abyss of my 
existence; I would go down into the valley and climb 
the mountain, summoning with all the strength of my 
aspirations the. object of a future flame. . . . Ah ! if I 


could but have made another partake the transports I 
experienced ! Oh ! God, if Thou hadst but given me a 
woman according to my desires. If as to our first father 
ITiou had brought me an Eve, a part of myself. . . . 
Celestial Beauty ! I would have fallen down and worshipped 
Thee i But alas ! I was all alone ! " It was above all else 
this craving of unsatisfied desire that threw him into a 
secret languor, a profound disgust with life, and inspired 
him with the determination to escape his weariness and 
disappointment by a self-sought death. 

René is Chateaubriand himself, who was attacked in his 
youth by a deep-seated melancholy. The lonely life he 
led at the Château de Combourg, the severe education he 
received there, his habit of walking and dreaming in the 
woods, the misfortunes of his boyhood, the contemplation 
of the crimes of the Revolution and the overthrow of 
society, exile, poverty, all undoubtedly contributed to his 
melancholy, but these causes are not sufficient by them- 
selves to account for it. Chateaubriand possessed in the 
highest degree the sensibility and imagination belonging 
to the artistic temperament, and these qualities made him 
eager for happiness, love and fame, and left him for ever 
dissatisfied with the reality, because his dreams so far 
surpassed it in allurement. 

The chief cause of this precocious melancholy arose 
from the intensity of his craving for love, which sprung up 
in flames of fire in his ardent temperament and high-strung 
imagination. " For lack of an actual object for my affec- 
tions," he tells us in the Mémoires d' outre-tombe, " I evoked 
by the magic of my vague but fierce desires a phantom 
that never left me. I combined a woman of my own out 
of all the women I had ever seen. . . . This enchantress 
followed me everywhere invisible to all eyes; I used to 
converse with her as with a real, living being. . . . 
Pygmalion was less fondly enamoured of his statue. . . . 
This delirium lasted for two whole years, during which 
the faculties of my nature reached the very highest point 
of exaltation. ... I showed all the symptoms of a violent 


passion; I grew hollow-eyed and thin, and could not sleep; 
I was absent-minded, sad, ardent, and shy. My days 
passed in a strange, wild, senseless fashion, that yet was 
full of delicious pleasures. . . . 

" The gales of Boreas only brought me sighs of 
voluptuous desire, the murmur of the rain invited me to 
slumber on a woman's breast. The words I said to this 
woman would have given back sensibility to a greybeard 
and warmed the marble of a tomb. Knowing nothing, 
knowing all, at once virgin and a lover, Eve in innocence, 
Eve after the fall, the enchantress by whom came my 
madness was a wild combination of mystery and passion. 
I raised her on an altar and fell down in adoration before 
her. The pride of being loved by her yet further increased 
my love. Did she walk, I threw myself on the ground to 
be trodden under her feet or to kiss their imprint. I 
trembled at her smile, the sound of her voice stirred my 
heart, I shuddered with longing if I touched what she had 
touched. The air breathed from her wet mouth penetrated 
me to the marrow of my bones and circulated in my veins 
in place of blood. ... I knew not which existence was 
real and which not ; I was a man and not a man ; I 
became a cloud, a wind, a sound. ... I stripped off my 
very nature to melt and be absorbed in the maiden of 
my desires. 

" Of a sudden struck with my own foolishness, I would 
throw myself on my bed and roll about in my agony, 
watering my couch with bitter tears that no one saw, and 
that flowed In sorrow for an empty abstraction." Then 
Chateaubriand would rise and go wandering through the 
woods a prey to senseless agitation nearly allied to despair, 
feeling neither the chill nor the damp of the night, but 
plunged in gloomy reveries, until at dawn he heard the 
bell that rings for departed souls. At this he would ask 
himself for what he had been sent into the world, and if 
it were not better to leave it in the freshness of morning 
than to finish out the day's journey under the burden and 
heat of the day. 


" The red of desire," he goes on, " arose in my cheeks ; 
le idea of ceasing to exist grasped my heart with a 
jdden joy. . . . The last glimmer of reason escaped me. 
. . I had a fowling-piece the old and well-worn trigger of 
hich often went off at half-cock. This gun I loaded with 
iree balls and went to a spot retired from the main avenue, 
cocked the weapon, put the muzzle in my mouth, and 
nocked the butt on the ground. I repeated my attempt 
everal times, but the gun would not go off, and now the 
ppearance of a game-keeper prevented my carrying out 
iy resolution at any rate for the present. It was a fatality 
nwished for and mysterious, and I came to the conclusion 
iy hour was not yet come." * 

Rene's attempted and Werther's actual suicide are not, 
s they have often been called, philosophical suicides ; they 
re suicides determined by passion. Werther kills himself 
«cause he loves a woman who is another man's wife ; René 
/ishes to die because he presses in his arms only the 
than torn of a woman. 2 Never has the madness of love 
nspired more burning pages than these of Goethe and 
"hateaubriand ; in both Writers love assumes a sensuous 
.nd mystic character we find again in the authors of the 
tomantic School, and suicide puts on a poetical and 
eligious guise that makes its delineation most dangerous 
or young people. 

1 Mémoires d outre-tombe, 1st Part, bk. iii. — It is impossible not to compare 
liis morbid state of the imagination in Chateaubriand with the nervous 
isorder his sister Lucile (the Amélie of René) suffered from. She too had a 
igh- strung imagination and a morbid sensibility. She went mad eventually 
nd killed herself. Sainte-Beuve, Nouveaux Lundis, vol. iii. p. 19. Chateau - 
riand states in the Mémoires <T outre-tombe that his sister was afflicted with 
be mania of persecutions ; " She had besides," he writes, " the same form of 
aania as Rousseau, without being proud of it like him, — she thought every- 
body was conspiring against her." 

* Sainte-Beuve writes : " René begins where King Solomon finishes, with 
atiety and disgust." {Chateaubriand et son groupe, vol. i. p. 354.) It seems 
o me, on the contrary, that René begins with the most ardent desire, and that 
lis melancholy arises chiefly from the thirst which consumes him, and which he 
rould fain satisfy. It is unsatisfied sexual desires that tempt him to suicide. 
Physicians who have written on sexual psychopathia have noted the association 
>f the sexual cravings at the age of puberty with a voluptuous inclination to 
;aicide. (See Krafft-Ebing, Psychopathia sexua/is t p. 80.) 


Chateaubriand so clearly felt the danger himself, that he 
adds in his Mémoires d outre-tombe \ "Any who may be 
troubled by these pictures and tempted to copy these 
extravagancies, any who may cling to my memory by 
reason of my empty fancies, should remember they are 
listening but to the voice of a dead man." 

Nor is it in René only that Chateaubriand has described 
the suicide of passion; in Atala, in the episode of Velleda 
in Les Martyrs, we find the same picture repeated. In his 
Romances, the most ardent love is always associated with 
the idea of death, and assumes a character at once sensuous 
and mystic. This mystic sensuousness of Chateaubriand 
recalls that of Solomon, who " spake three thousand 
proverbs, and his songs were a thousand and five," says the 
Bible, 1 and who, nevertheless," loved many strange women, 
together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the 
Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians and Hittites ; 
. . . and he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three 
hundred concubines." Seven hundred and three hundred 
make as nearly as possible Don Juan's thousand and three. 

In Chateaubriand as in Rousseau and Goethe the need 
of loving was so strong, it was even directed to the fictitious 
beings he had himself created ; he loved them as if they 
had been real. So Rousseau was in love with Julie. While 
writing Goetz von Berlichingen, Goethe was smitten with 
Adelaide's charms ; he tells us so himself in his Memoirs. 
At the end of his Vie de VAbbé de Rancé Chateaubriand 
relates how he spent all his life in company with Atala, 
Cymodocé and Velleda. Balzac in the same way, by dint 
of describing the " splendid " courtesans of his Novels, fell 
under the spell of their charms ; while from living con- - 
stantly in thought in the society of the great ladies of the^= 
Seventeenth Century, Cousin had at last become theiiHH 
devoted lover and admirer. 

In Atala, Chateaubriand has conceived the strang-^^ 
notion of depicting a Christian suicide; a young girl kilfct.5 
herself to escape violating the vow of virginity her mother 

1 1 Kings, ch. iv. 32; xi. 1, 3. 


had sworn for her. Her language, Christian though she is, 
resembles Phaedra's, " feeling as it were a divine being that 
stayed me in my awful longings, I would fain," she says, 
" this divinity had been annihilated, if only clasped in thy 
arms, I might have fallen from abyss to abyss amid the 
ruins of God and the world ; even now . . . must I say 
it ? even now that Eternity is on the point of absorbing my 
being, at the moment when I am to appear before the 
inexorable Judge, when, to obey my mother, I see, 
and see with delight, my virginity destroy my life, alas! 
alas ! by a horrible contradiction I bear with me the regret, 
the pain, that I have never been thine!" 1 The whole 
motive of this Romance seems to me false. A Christian 
maiden poisoning herself that she may not yield to love, 
is an impossible, a chimerical creation ; if she is a true 
Christian, she cannot contemplate suicide, which her faith 
forbids her to commit ; if she feels the fierce temptation 
Atala expresses, she yields to it. 

Atala's suicide is not likely to find imitators among 
the fair readers of the story. There is little fear of this ; 
Atala will tempt none to suicide. I cannot say as much 
of Velleda's. The idea of a proud and passionate woman, 
who destroys herself after yielding to love rather than 
survive dishonour, is romantic in the highest degree, and 
has seduced many writers of Romance who have imitated 
it in fiction, and without a doubt many women too who 
have copied it in real life. 

1 Joubert has written on this subject: "Chateaubriand assigns to the 
passions he describes an innocence they do not possess, or have only possessed 
once. In Atala the passions are muffled in long white veils." I do not agree 
with Joubert ; it seems to me that Atala's love is not an innocent passion, but 
a sensual one, in no way resembling Virginie's. Nay ! more, in Atala as in 
René, love is complicated with incest ; Atala is the daughter of Lopez, adop- 
tive father of Chactas. The imagination and the senses of the two lovers are 
fired when they discover they are brother and sister. Atala " was seized on 
her side with confusion and delight ;" Chactas after exclaiming, "Oh ! my 
sister ! oh ! child of Lopez ! daughter of my benefactor ! " adds, " Twas too 
much for our hearts, this fraternal bond that came to us and united its affection 
to our love." ..." Atala no longer offered anything but a feeble resistance, 
and I was coming very near the moment of my happiness," when a storm 
sprung up very opportunely and the lovers were met by Father Aubry. 


Chateaubriand had felt the influence of Rousseau and 
Goethe ; m his turn he exercised a considerable influence 
over Lamartine, Victor Hugo, Alfred de Vigny, George 
Sand and even Byron, whose genius had more than one 
point of resemblance with his own. Byron like Chateau- 
briand loved the woods, the sea, travel, independence, 
solitude, he would copy the wolf that dies without a cry, 
he compares himself to the desert lion, " The lion is alone, 
and so am I," he exclaims in Manfred '; like Chateaubriand, 
he bewails the shortness of life and the necessity of death: 
" To die, ah ! me, to die ! to go the way all have gone 
and all will go one day ! To go back to the nothingness 
I was before I was born to life and the pain of living ! " In 
the notice he published on Byron, Sir Walter Scott depicts 
him " sad, melancholy, smiling externally, heart-torn within, 
letting a shadow of gloom mingle even with his wildest fits 
of exultation." Alfred de Musset calls him " That great 
inspired prophet of melancholy." I have no wish to deny 
the noble side of this melancholy : 

" Les cris du désespoir sont ses plus doux concerts ; " l 

but at the same time it is impossible not to recognize that 
its causes are not all of them impersonal or of a very 
elevated nature, that his despair is made up largely of 
wounded pride smarting under his critic's attacks, of a 
spoilt child's peevishness, whining at his inability to satisfy 
all his caprices, of his never satiated thirst for pleasure, 
of the bitterness he finds in every enjoyment, of the 
hostility shown him by the society in which he lives and 
which drives him into voluntary exile, of his politicals 
disappointments, and above all of the humiliation he felMta 

so keenly of dragging his club foot about with him. Si 

Walter said, after reading Childe Harold \ "A poem c — z 
great merit, but one that does not give one a high opinions; 
either of the heart or the character of the writer. ViWzre 
should be a little more humble, and needs impuden'cre 
almost as great as the talent possessed by the noble Lord 

1 " Cries of despair are its least harsh accords." 


to seriously ask us to pity him for the weariness and 
disgust of life he has contracted in the society of his boon 
companions and his mistresses." 

Sick of life and eaten up with ennui, Byron as every- 
body knows sought a heroic death ; he would have nothing 
to say to suicide, but longed for a soldier's death, as he 
declares in some fine verses written a few days before his 


"If thou regret'st thy youth, why live ? 
The land of honourable death 
Is here : — up to the field, and give 
Away thy breath ! M l 

" So lived and died this great, but unhappy man," writes 
Taine ; " the malady of the Century has had no more 
illustrious victim. Around him like a hecatomb lie the 
others, wounded by the grandeur of their talents and the 
intemperance of their desires, some drowned in stupor 
and intoxication, others exhausted by pleasure and labour, 
these hurried headlong into madness or suicide, those 
crushed down in impotency or laid low by sickness." 

There was no small admixture of affectation in Lord 
Byron's melancholy, and a good deal of literary imitation ; 
a great admirer of Goethe, his wish was to unite in himself 
the two types of Faust and Mephistopheles. He posed 
as a combination of Don Juan and Satan, doubting and 
making mock of everything in heaven and earth. If I were 
writing a purely literary study, it would be my business 
to bring out the nobler side of his poetic genius, but in 
a Work in which I am merely inquiring into the effects of 
imaginative Literature on manners and morals, I am bound 
to record that Byron's influence over young men was far 
from beneficial. Spending his life in the search for volup- 
tuous and gloomy emotions, he has been the accredited 
prophet of that cult of self, which has found so many 
disciples in literature and so many imitators in society; 
he has represented sceptical doubt and wilful perversity 

1 From lines headed "On this day I complete my Thirty-Sixth Year," and 
dated Missolonghi, Jan. 22, 1824. 


as being signs of intellectual superiority, contempt for 
humanity and ordinary life as the inevitable result of 
experience. Young men, women, poets, all who live by 
the imagination, were enraptured with Byron, and young 
men adopted him as their model, even in costume, and 
poets copied him. After the publication of Lara, Childe 
Harold, Manfred, a host of writers Byronized, just as a 
number were found to Wertherize after Goethe's Romance 
first saw the light. Byron complained bitterly of this 
spirit of imitation ; " what will ruin our glory," he wrote 
to Moore, "is admiration and imitation. . . . The rock 
of danger for the coming generation will be the number 
of models and the easiness of imitation." Byronism 
became a literary fashion, and passed into the manners 
of the time. 

Lamartine, George Sand, Alfred de Musset, all felt 
Lord Byron's influence. The perusal of the Corsair, Lara, 
Manfred, made a profound impression on Lamartine, 
stirring his imagination to its depths. "This poetry 
intoxicated me," he declared, "it was a second Ossian 
for me." He composed a Second Canto of Childe Harolds 
Pilgrimage, and Musset addressed him in the following 
verses : 

" Vous avez lu Lara, Manfred et le Corsaire, 
Et vous avez écrit sans essuyer vos pleurs ; 
Le souffle de Byron vous soulevait de terre, 
L'Écho de son génie en vous avait gémie." l 

In one of the finest of his Méditations, Lamartine, while 
admiring Byron's genius, protested against his scepticism 
and blasphemous expressions, but he had not yet reached 
that condition of religious resignation, when he too was 
seized with disgust of life and a craving for death under 
circumstances I will recount directly. — George Sand was 
even more impressed than Lamartine by the pessimistic 
poetry of Lord Byron. — Alfred de Musset fell under the 

1 You have read Lara, Manfred, and The Corsair, and you have written 
without drying your tears ; the inspiring breath of Byron lifted you from your 
feet, the echo of his genius had resounded in you." 


same influence, for all his protests against the slur of 
plagiarism : 

" On m'a dit Pan passé que j'imitais Byron, 
Vous qui me connaissez, vous savez bien que non ; 
Je hais comme la mort l'état de plagiaire, 
Mon verre n'est pas grand, mais je bois dans mon verre." 1 

Quite true ! Musset does drink from his own glass ; the 
glass is pretty enough, but the liquor he pours into it is 
in very truth a Byronic vintage, at any rate in his earlier 
poems, flavoured with Parisian wit. Franck, Rolla are 
close kinsmen of Manfred. 

Among the psychological causes of this suicidal type 

of melancholy it remains to name the abuse of analysis 

and reflection. " I have thought too long and too deeply," 

says Byron, " until my brain labouring and boiling in its 

own vortex became an abyss of flame and fancy." Stenio 

says, addressing Lélia : " Do you not personify, with your 

beauty and your melancholy, your world weariness and 

your scepticism, the excess of sorrow wrought by thought?" 

It is a piece of sophistry to say with Rousseau that " the 

man who thinks is an animal spoiled." Thought is the 

noblest attribute of man, the chief cause of his superiority 

to the brutes. It is the man who never thinks that is an 

animal, yes ! and an idiot or an imbecile. But, if we must 

think, we must act as well, and the man who is entirely 

absorbed in his thoughts, loses by degrees all taste for 

action and active life, he deems himself a superior being, 

because he scorns practical duties ; his misanthropy comes 

simply from his pride. Father Souël then was quite right 

when he said to René : " I see a young man obstinately 

devoted to chimeras, who hates the world and who has 

thrown off the burdens of society to give himself up to 

xiseless dreams. A man is not superior to his fellow, my 

dear sir, merely because he views the world under an odious 

light. People hate their fellow-men and life in general 

1 " I was told last year I imitated Byron ; you who know me, are aware this 
is not so ; I hate like death the sin of plagiarism — my glass is not a big one, 
bat 'tis my own I drink from. " 


only for want of seeing far enough. Extend your view a 
little, and you will soon be convinced that all these evils 
you complain of are pure fancies." From the day when 
the melancholy dreamer experiences a real sorrow, which 
delivers him from his imaginary griefs, he thinks no more 
of suicide. "Strange circumstance," says René, "I no 
longer desired to die, from the moment I was really un- 
happy. My grief had become a preoccupation that filled 
all my days." 

Another abuse we must mention in addition to this of 
reflection and reverie, is the abuse of books, which supply 
a false experience in anticipation of the real, and explode 
too soon the illusions of youth. " The large number of 
examples before our eyes," writes Chateaubriand, "the 
multitude of books that treat of man and his sentiments, 
make young people clever without experience. They are 
disabused before they have enjoyed ; desires remain, but 
all illusions are gone. . . . They are left to live with a 
full heart in an empty world, and before they have made 
good use of anything, they are completely disillusioned. 01 
A prey to this disgust with life and all it has to give, a 
young man seeks only solitude, and loses his energy in 
useless reveries. 

It is impossible to say how many young men fell victims 
to the Romances of Goethe and Chateaubriand and the 
Poems of Byron. 

" Ils ne mouraient pas tous, mais tous étaient frappés" 

— " All did not die, but all of them were smitten" — with 
the malady of the Century. • Some, like Mole and de 
Tocqueville, found healing in politics, others, like Ampère, 
in science, others again, like Ballanche and Senancourt, 
in religious faith. Study, hard work, the practice of a 
profession, belief, are the best specifics against melan- 
choly. But amongst artistic souls, that live in reverie 
without any diversion from external everyday occupations, 
melancholy made worse ravages. Under the influence of 

1 Chateaubriand, Le Génie du Christianisme t 2nd Part, bk. iii. ch. ix. 


Werther and René and Byron's poetry, the greatest poet 
of the Nineteenth Century, Lamartine, and the greatest 
novelist, George Sand, were attacked by a gloomy 
melancholy that drove them both to the length of 
attempting suicide. 

" I remember," Lamartine says, " to have read and 
re-read Werther in my early days, and the impression 
this work produced on me has never been effaced or 
cooled. My mind was inoculated with the melancholy 
of the great passions by this book." 1 Like Goethe, he 
was no less moved to enthusiasm by Ossian. All imagina- 
tions of the time, including even Napoleon's, had been 
stirred by this influence, and Lamartine spoke of it thus 
in Jocelyn : 

" Ossian ! Ossian ! lorsque plus jeune encore 
Je rêvais des brouillards et des monts d'Inistore, 
Quand tes vers dans le cœur et la harpe à la main, 
Je m'enfonçais l'hiver dans des bois sans chemin." 2 

From Literature this love for Ossian was passed on to 
Painting, and the only subjects delineated were melancholy 
figures of men and women holding a harp by the banks 
of a torrent or sighing among the heather. It was from 
Ossian Lamartine borrowed that love of his for the woods 
and of solitude which has inspired several of his finest 
Méditations and Harmonies, The emptiness of the life he 
led in the country, the impossibility of finding nourishment 
for his heart and activity, the perusal of the great writers 
of melancholy, the ennui that consumed him, threw him 
into a profound sadness. He says himself : " The narrow 
limits within which my moral life was compressed in this 
aridity and isolation of my surroundings, the intensity of 
my thoughts for ever exploring within me the void of my 
existence, the throbbings of my heart consuming away 
without real nutriment and revolting against the cruel 

1 Lamartine, Entretien^ exxi., p. 9. 

* "Ossian ! Ossian ! when in younger days I dreamed of the mists and 
***oantains of Inistore, when thy verses in my heart and my harp in hand, I 
Plunged into the trackless woods of winter." 


deprivation of the air and light and love I was athirst for, 
ended by crippling me, wasting not my mind only but even 
my body, and producing languors, spasms, despondencies, 
disillusions, cravings after death, which I took to be 
sicknesses of the body, but which were only symptoms 
of the unhealthy condition of my soul." 

Such was Lamartine's state of mind when he met 
Elvire in Savoy and was smitten with her charms. She 
was older than he, and fearing she would quickly lose his 
love and restrained by no religious belief, she proposed to 
the poet that they should die together, and the author of 
the Méditations and the Harmonies fell in with the wild sug- 
gestion with a weakness surprising in such an intellect 
One day when walking with Elvire by the Lake of Bourget, 
the latter said to him: "Oh! let us die; yes! let us die.... 
Look at the pure waves, so clear and deep and silent, that 
prepare a bed of sand for us, where none will come to 
wake us and cry * Away ! ' . . . Oh ! let us die in this 
intoxication of soul and nature, which will make us fed 
naught in death but its voluptuousness. . . . Oh ! let us 
die, and stifle the doubtful and gloomy future in a last sigh 
which will surely leave on our lips only the unmitigated 
savour of complete reunion." These words produced so 
deep an effect upon the poet that he replied : " Yes ! let 
us die," — and with this purpose knotted the ends of a 
fisherman's net eight times round the young woman's 
body and his own, " closely pressed together as in a 
winding-sheet" He then lifted her in his arms to throw 
her along with himself into the waters, but just as he was 
about to take his leap, he noticed that her overwrought feel- 
ings had made his companion lose consciousness; this sight 
restored him to his senses and he gave up the mad project. 

This determination of Lamartine's to throw himself 
into the waves of the Lake of Bourget with the woman 
he loved would seem to be a reminiscence of the Nouvdli 
Helotse ; in that book Saint-Preux is also tempted to hurl 
himself into the Lake of Geneva with Mme. de Walmar, to 
end his life in her arms. Lamartine, like Saint-Preux> 


is in a false position ; El vire was, like Julie, a married 
>man, and was only for the time being away from her 
sband, who was to summon her to rejoin him in a few 
reks' time. At the end of his life, which was so cruelly 
ed, Lamartine again had thoughts of suicide on more 
an one occasion, but was kept from carrying out his 
rpose by his religious beliefs. " I should have died long 
o a thousand times over in Cato's fashion, if I were of 
ito's religion, but I am not; I adore God in His all-wise 
rposes. ... To die is to desert, and I cannot be a 
serter." Amélie said the same to René in the novel to 
ssuade him from suicide : " For a man of your character, 
is so easy to die ! Believe your sister, it is more difficult 


From these facts which I have borrowed from the lives 

Lamartine, Byron, Chateaubriand and Goethe, we see 
*arly that literary imitation has played an important rôle 

their melancholy and even in the attempts at suicide 
ade by some of them. The two female writers who have 
railed these great authors in talent, Mme. de Staël and 
eorge Sand, likewise felt the fascination of suicide in 
keir youth, under the influence of melancholy reading. 
ji enthusiastic admirer of Werther, Mme. de Staël 
Tote an apology of suicide in the fourth chapter of her 
fork on "The Influence of the Passions on Happiness" 
V Influence des Passions sur le Bonheur) ; in it she 
eveloped the doctrine that a man should not survive 
ie loss of love. "It is only men," she writes, "capable 
killing themselves that can with any shadow of 
Udence try this great road of happiness. . . . Passionate 
Uls that surrender themselves to Nature's promptings 
Ust needs keep this resource in their mind's eye, that 
*y may not be undone by calamity and even more in 
^ midst of their efforts to avoid it" George Sand in 
*r turn derived from her perusals of the romances and 
>ctry of melancholy a similar disgust of life and longing 
r death ; she wrote that man is superior to the animals 
ttause it is in his power to kill himself. " I read Ren/" 


she says, " and was singularly moved by it I felt myself 
crushed by disgust of life. ... I caught through my 
imagination all the maladies of the soul described in that 
sad, sad poem. Then came Byron directly afterwards to 
deal a still ruder shock to my poor brain. . . . Shakespeare's 
Hamlet and Jaques finished me. . . . My melancholy 
became gloom and my gloom a fixed sorrow. From 
that to settled disgust of life and longing for death is but 
a step. ... I fell into a very serious mental malady,— 
the fascination of suicide." 

The thought of suicide became with George Sand a 
fixed idea, which obstinately possessed her mind, and as 
she said herself, "bordered very close at times on the 
confines of monomania." Water attracted her with a 
mysterious charm ; she would follow the banks of a stream, 
stopping before the deep places and telling herself with a 
feverish gaiety, " How easy it would be ! I should only 
have to take a single step ! " The sight of water magnetized 
her; "the nervous phenomenon, for I cannot define the 
thing more precisely, was so marked, that I could not so 
much as touch the parapet of a well without a strong 
trembling and a painful effort before I could move away in 
the opposite direction. After long struggling against this 
possession by suicidal thoughts, she at last thought herself 
cured, when one day she was obliged to cross a ford on 
horse-back ; in the very middle she was seized with the 
giddiness of death and roughly urged her horse towards a 
deep place, to drown herself there, with a nervous laugh 
and a cry of delirious exultation. But the horse carried 
her to the bank and saved her life in spite of herself; she 
got off with a wetting. This momentary immersion in the 
river freed her for good of her longings for a watery grave, 
though the fascination of suicide still persisted under other 
forms. At one time she would feel a strange emotion 
in handling weapons and loading pistols, at another the 
laudanum bottles, which she was constantly touching when 
preparing lotions for a sick grandmother, gave her fresh 
fits of dizziness. Eventually she cured herself of her 


mania by taking more sleep and by the reading of the 
Greek and Latin classics. 1 Still the cure was not definite, 
for after her rupture with Alfred de Musset, she was again 
haunted by the idea of suicide. M. Rocheblave, who has 
published George Sand's diary and her letters to Musset 
and to Sainte-Beuve, says her correspondence furnishes 
many and singularly convincing proofs of the existence of 
these suicidal tendencies. That she did not yield to the 
temptation is due to the fact that she grew out of the 
absolute scepticism into which she had fallen in her youth, 
after a first period of mysticism, into a belief in God and a 
future life. " Now that I no longer feel those bitter doubts," 
she writes, " under whose influence the perilous thought of 
annihilation comes to be one of an irresistibly voluptuous 
attractiveness, now that I have proved the eternal rest I 
spoke of just now to be illusory, in one word, now that I 
believe in an eternal activity beyond this life, the thought 
of suicide is but a momentary temptation and one easily 
overcome by a little reflection." 2 

A large number of George Sand's Novels bear traces of 
her preoccupation with ideas of suicide. Suicides are 
plentiful in her books, — of lovers, of husbands, of married 
and unmarried women, even of maidservants. Stenio kills 
himself, Juliette, in Leone Leoni y throws herself out of a 
window, Jacques destroys himself. The particular form of 
suicide George Sand assigns by preference to her heroes is 
death by drowning, the one she had chosen for herself. 
In Lélia, Stenio throws himself into a lake. In Indiana, 
Noun, the lady's-maid, commits suicide, 8 and Indiana 
herself, by dint of pondering on Noun's death, makes " an 
abortive trial of the voluptuous delight of suicide " ; she is 
on the point of throwing herself into a river, but is saved 
by Ralph who drags her back. Later on in the book, 
Ralph himself has his fancy haunted by the idea of suicide; 

1 Histoire de ma vie, 4th Tart, ch. vi. 

f George Sand, Histoire de ma vie, 5th Part, ch. viii., p. 30a 
1 The scene which precedes Noun's death deeply impressed Alfred de 
Monet. The Revue des deux Mondes of Nov. I, 1878, published a copy of 
\ he composed after reading the scene in question. 


he begs Indiana to die with him ; he asks her if she has not 
a preference for some other form of suicide than drowning; 
for himself, he knows no spot where suicide would be finer 
than in a waterfall. Indiana consents, putting her hand in 
Ralph's to seal the bargain ; they start on a long journey 
to find a place where they may drown themselves in the 
waters of a cascade. 

Of all pictures, that of double suicide is perhaps the 
most dangerously seductive, firing as it does the imagina- 
tion of young men and women always ready to admire and 
copy acts and sentiments that rise strikingly above the 
commonplace. Indiana has not only made many a wife 
unfaithful, but has suggested to lovers the notion of dying 
together. It was George Sand's Novels, and above all her 
Indiana, that suggested to Dr Bancal the mad idea of 

killing himself along with his mistress, Mme. X , a 

married woman. An album was found upon him, into 
which he had copied quotations from different novels, and 
particularly the passage in Indiana where Ralph expresses 
the wish to die with the woman he loves. The Doctor, 
who attempted to kill himself after killing his mistress, 
was brought to trial before the Assize Court, and the 
report of the case has been published in the Gazette des 
Tribunaux, From the examination I have made of this 
report there appears to be proof positive that this double 
suicide, or to speak more exactly, this murder followed by 
attempted suicide, was copied from Indiana, down to the 
smallest details. Thus, just as Indiana grasps Ralph's hand 
to seal the bargain, when she agrees to the project of dying 

with him, so Mme. X presses Bancal's hand as a sign 

of consent and to show her willingness to die at the Doctor's 
hand. In George Sand's Romance the hero and heroine 
unite love and mysticism together; immediately before de- 
stroying himself, Ralph gives utterance to pious sentiments. 
" This supreme hour," he says, addressing Indiana, "is one 
for religious meditation and prayer. The action we are 
about to commit, not being the result of any crisis of 
momentary aberration, but the reasoned outcome of a 


ietermination arrived at with feelings, of calm and de- 
iberate piety, we should bring to it the holy absorption of 

I Catholic in presence of the Sacraments of his Church." 
This association of love and mysticism was an imitation 
x>rrowed from German literature and German suicides.' 

Sancal and Mme. X , copying Indiana, imitated its 

nystical phraseology as well. Bancal wrote to his mother : 

I I see Eternity open before my eyes with as much calm- 
less and delight as if I were watching one of those fair 
tpectacles of Nature I have sometimes been privileged to 
tnjoy." Both the Public Prosecutor and the Counsel for 
he accused were at one in recognizing that the main 
letermining motive of the crime was to be found in the 
vildness of ideas and sentiments Bancal had derived from 
■eading the Novels of the Romantic School. The charge 
iet forth how Dr Bancal's head had been turned by " that 
listracted type of Literature in which disgust for active 
ife, contempt of ordinary duties, negation of all simple 
ind modest virtues, are extolled as so many evidences of a 
strong and peculiarly favoured organization." Bancal's 
idvocate sought to diminish his client's responsibility by 
browing some of it on Romantic Literature ; " If I am to 
00k," he said, " for the source of these wild, eccentric 
lotions, shall I not find it in Romanticism, in those anti- 
ocial books and dramatic representations that lead the 
magination astray ? " 

This wish to die together experienced by lovers when 
hreatened with separation, a thing* more cruel to them 
ban death itself, is a sentiment deep-rooted in the human 
teart We find it in Plautus. — " Oh ! might we die 
agether!" exclaim in one play of the Latin poet two 
overs at the moment of enforced separation. Indeed the 
ame longing to die together is sometimes expressed by 
lelancholy lovers apart from any fear of coming separation. 
ivcn consummated love is not always gay. 

" Medio in fonte leporum, 
Surgit amari aliquid," l 

1 " In the mid fount of love's delights there rises a bitter drop." 



says Lucretius (bk. iv. 8, 1 127). Some men take love in 
melancholy wise, just as others take their wine sadly. This 
type of sentimental melancholy, so dear to the Novelists 
and Poets of the Romantic School, 1 is found long ago in 
Tibullus, but it has developed into a veritable disease of 
the imagination among the Romantics. " In the days of 
my youthful indiscretions," writes Chateaubriand in his 
Mémoires d Outre-tombe, " I have many a time desired not 
to survive my present happiness ; there was a degree of 
felicity in the first flush of success that made me long for 

Suicide for love was a rare phenomenon among the 
Ancients, and was looked upon as an act of feebleness and 
despair; it is so described by Sophocles, Euripides and 
Virgil. In the Antigone of the first-named poet, Haemon 
kills himself on the tomb of his destined bride, without 
cursing either the gods or his fellow-men ; his father 
inveighs bitterly against his weakness. In the ALneid Dido 
destroys herself under the empire of the grief and despair 
that overwhelm her. With Werther, and the Novels 
generally of the Romantic School, suicide becomes argu- 
mentative and philosophical ; it is ennobled, extolled as a 
sublime act, as a sign of moral superiority ; lovers claim 
the right to kill themselves, and deliberately defend 
suicide as justifiable. "When a man's life is dis- 
advantageous to some, a burden to himself, useless to 
all," says Jacques in George Sand's story, "suicide is 
a perfectly lawful act." " Let us quit life together," cries 
Ralph to Indiana. *' Let us return to God. . . . The God 
we adore, you and I, has never destined man to so many 
miseries, without giving him the instinct to escape them; 
and truly what makes, to my idea, the chief superiority of 
man over the brute is his knowledge where lies the remedy 
for all his woes. This remedy is suicide." 

These sophistries are repeated in the Romances of 
Eugène Siie and Frédéric Soulié, who have always had 
and still have many readers. Suicide is depicted as the 

1 We find the same also in Leconte de Lisle and in Sully- Prudbomme. 


ogical outcome and termination of a love drama. Even 
irith Novelists like Stendhal of a somewhat hard and cold 
ype, the hero dwells complacently on the idea of suicide 
ind is intoxicated with its fascination. " Again and again," 
»ys the author of Rouge et Noir y "the idea of suicide 
presented itself to him. The thought was full of charm, 
ind brought a delicious sense of repose." * These writers 
»eem to think love inseparable from suicide, that a hero of 
omance is bound to kill himself when love fails him, that 
Love is the sole end and obligation of life, that suicide is 
it once a right and the supremest gratification of amorous 

With Chatterton, this type of suicide was combined with 
hatred of society and literary vanity. " I possess the right 
to die," cries Alfred de Vigny's hero. ..." I swear it before 
pou and I will uphold it before God." Lamartine, who 
was on terms of close intimacy with de Vigny, tells us that 
the author of Chatterton regretted later on ever having 
written this play; 2 "he only forgave himself this glorious 
error after having courageously expiated his fault. Great 
poets are bound to choose their subject heedfully. Werther 
had led to suicides of imagination ; Chatterton was re- 
sponsible for suicides of scepticism." Not to mention the 
furious onslaughts in society found in the Play, how 
disastrous must have been the impression produced on 
the younger members of the audience by this invocation 
to death : " Oh ! Death, angel of deliverance, how sweet is 
thy peace ! I had every reason of old to adore thee, but 
not strength enough to win thee. ... If only men knew ! 
if only they knew what bliss I feel . . . they would not 
hesitate so long." And to duly depict the bliss of dying, 
Chatterton throws into his face a look of holy abstraction 
and divine happiness. 8 

1 Lt Rouge et le Noir, ch. xlix. — •• I was saved from suicide," says Stendhal, 
M by political curiosity, and also no doubt by the fear of hurting myself." 

* Lamartine, Entretien, xcv. p. 329. 

* A. Barbier states that the author of Chatterton, who depicts in such lively 
colours the happiness of dying, had personally a profound terror of death, and 
relates how the day before his end he cried out to his friends, who had come to 


Novelists and Poets have so often described the bliss of 
dying with the one beloved, that by dint of extolling this 
imaginary felicity, they have set the fashion of double 
suicides. " To die with the object of my love had long 
been the dream of my imagination/' were the words of 
Dr Bancal, whose crime I have spoken of above. Alfred 
de Vigny celebrated the death of two lovers who killed 
themselves at Montmorency in these beautiful lines : 

" Qui passèrent deux jours d'amour et d'harmonie, 
De chants et de baisers, de voix, de lèvre unie, 
De regrets confondus, de soupirs bienheureux, 
Qui furent deux moments et deux siècles pour eux." l 

But in doing so, he little thought his description would 
stir to madness the fancy of a young student half a century 
afterwards ; yet here are the facts, admitting of no doubt 
as to its being so. 

On January 25th, 1888, a young man of twenty-three 
and a woman of thirty, married and the mother of several 
children, got out of a carriage at the door of a villa in 
the suburbs of Constantine. Two hours later, two shots 
were heard, followed by two more and a loud scream. 
Some of the neighbours ran up at the noise, burst into the 
house and found themselves confronted with an appalling 
sight. Half undressed, propped against a sofa near the 
bed, lay the young man, with a shot wound through the 
cheek and throwing up torrents of blood ; he still held 
in his hand a five-chambered revolver, four chambers of 
which had been emptied. His whole body was shaken by 

see him, "Do not let me die." Undoubtedly Alfred de Vigny is a poet of 
high and noble character. His pessimism arises not merely from personal 
grievances ; he felt keenly the nothingness of life, the cruelty of Nature, the 
physical and moral ills that crush humanity. But to these more general motives 
of pessimism were added also personal ones, — poverty, a woman's treachery, 
disappointed ambition, all of which made him suffer cruelly. If he wrote the 
antisocial drama of Chatterton^ this was due to the chagrin caused him by the 
Revolution of 1830, which forced him to resign his post under Government. 

1 " Who passed two days of love and harmony together, of songs and kisses, 
voices and lips joined in one, of regrets intermingled and happy sighs ; two 
days ! — two moments, nay ! two centuries for them. " 


a ftervous trembling, and he kept asking for a weapon or 
a dose of poison to put him out of his pain, screaming 
and calling "Madeleine! Madeleine!" 

In front of him on the bed was stretched the young 
woman, dead, her right temple pierced by two balls. The 
expression of the face was calm, as if she were asleep ; the 
eye showed nothing of that fixed terror-struck look almost 
always observed in cases of death by violence. 

The young man was a student of Law, intelligent and 
well-educated, of whom M. Paul Bourget and M. Funck- 
Brentano have given good reports. " I can see him now," 
M. Bourget said, " that young fellow, with his bright eyes 
and his mobile, clever face, such as he used to be when he 
attended my chambers two years ago. He used to bring 
me critical essays, fragments of novels, which showed good 
hope of a fine talent in the future." But incoherent, 
feverish, ill-regulated reading had sown disorder in his 
mind. After displaying in early years profound religious 
feeling, he fell into the most absolute scepticism. Uniting 
the study of the Positivist philosophers with a passionate 
love of Poetry, he became at one and the same time a 
sceptic and an enthusiast, a romanticist and a pessimist. 
The condition of moral negation into which he had fallen 
overwhelmed him with sadness and inspired him with 
thoughts of suicide. Believing nothing and seeking 
emotions only to taste and analyze them, he lost, in the 
midst of his dreamy reveries and physiological and psycho- 
logical analyses, all healthiness of soul, rightmindedness 
and strength of will. Imagination and sensibility alone 
remained ardent and still greedy after fresh excitement. 

It was while in this state of mind that he met Mme. 

X , a virtuous mother of a family till then, but 

romantically inclined. He applied himself, like a hero 
of psychological romance, to set the strings of passion 
vibrating in her heart, and succeeded in his endeavour. 
Then, after beginning in a mere spirit of curiosity, he 
ended by getting caught himself and found his own breast 
fired by the love he had kindled. Next he proposed to 


Mme. X to fly with him, but the scheme not having 

taken effect, they formed the plan of dying together. 

When the Presiding Judge at his trial pointed out to 
the prisoner the odiousness of his conduct, his answer was 
that double suicide for love was not disgraceful, but heroic 
" When passion is extreme, it becomes hallowed by its 
very intensity. ... I had often told her how the Lovers of 
Alfred de Vigny were admired, who died together, how 
beautiful it would be to die like that and what wonder and 
admiration we should excite. We came at last to look 
upon our death as hallowed by the mere fact of our 
passion for one another. — 4 The one thing that afflicts 
me/ she kept saying, ' is the disgrace.' — ' Why ! we shaH 
be admired for it,' was my emphatic answer." It was by 
suchlike sophistries drawn from Plays and Novels that 
the young student perverted his own sense of right and 
wrong and the unhappy lady's at the same time. 

Ever since the Nouvelle Heloïse, passion is glorified, 
hallowed in Novels and Plays. Love is depicted as a 
virtue, and lovers think themselves more virtuous in 
proportion as they are more fondly enamoured. 

Mme. de Staël declared Rousseau made a passion of 
virtue ; it would be truer to say she made a virtue of 
passion. A disciple of Jean Jacques, Mme. de Staël 
admires passion as if it were a virtue, and exalts love 
into a duty, a sublime self-sacrifice. In Delphine she 
makes the hero of the Romance say: "Your true and 
highest duty is to love me . . ., believe me, there is 
virtue inherent in love, virtue even in that absolute 
surrender and sacrifice of oneself to a lover you condemn 
so strongly. In her Lettres sur les écrits de /. /. Rousseau, 
Mme. de Staël also proclaims that love is the origin of 
virtue ; " when the object of worship is virtuous, a lover 
soon grows to be virtuous too." 

In the Romances of George Sand, passion instantly 
ennobles the lover, even when it is a guilty love in the 
eyes of society. In the Preface to the famous Dame aux 
Camélias, Alexandre Dumas writes : " I do not deny the 


existence of these fatal, irresistible passions, that no law 
can combat, no reasoning overcome. Love at this height 
of power is almost identical with virtue." 

The Student of Constantine referred to above told the 

Court on his trial that Mme. X asked him to let her die 

with him, when she noticed the butt of a revolver project- 
ing from his pocket, which he had bought to kill himself 
with. A similar situation is found in Balzac's La Femme 
de trente ans ("A Woman of Thirty"): "You would wish 
to kill yourself under my roof?" asked Mme. d'Anglemont 
of Lord Grenville. — " Oh, no ! not alone," he answered in a 
soft voice. — "What then! perhaps my father?" — "No! no!" 
he cried in a half-strangled tone. " Have no fear ; my fatal 
resolve is gone. The instant I came in, as soon as ever I 
saw you, I felt brave enough to say no word, to die alone." 
At these words Julie rose and threw herself into Arthur's 
arms, who through his mistress's sobs, could distinguish 
two words charged with passionate emotion, "to know 
happiness and die," she cried, " Oh, yes ! oh, yes ! " l 

In Alexandre Dumas' Play, Antony speaks in a similar 
vein : " I would fain have our two hearts beat in concert 
at the last, our last sighs mingle. Dost understand? a 
death as soft as sleep, a death happier than any life?" 
To which Adèle replies : " Yes ! yes ! to die with thee ! 
an eternity within thy arms ! have pity, and kill me ! " 

In Christine, Dumas makes another hero of the drama 
declare : 

" Que je serais heureux si j'expirais ainsi ; 
Si je pouvais mourir alors que je la touche 
D'un poison lentement épuisé sur ta bouche : 
Et passer dans tes bras et les yeux sur tes yeux, 
Du sommeil à la mort et de la terre aux deux." 8 

1 Another point of resemblance. The heroine of the judicial drama and 
the heroine of the literary drama are the same age, thirty. In the course of 
the proceedings a friend of the prisoner's told thc/uge dCinstruction that the 
accused had been deeply impressed by reading Balzac's Novel, La Femme de 
trémie ans, 

* " How happy should I be, could I die so ; if I could die draining a poison 
slowly drawn from thy mouth, and pass within thy arms and my eyes on thine, 
from sleep to death and from earth to heaven." 


The Play of Hernani ends with a double suicide. Dofla 
Sol poisons herself, and hands the half-emptied phial of 
poison to Hernani, with the words : 

" Ne te plains pas de moi, je t'ai gardé ta part . . . l 
Je suis bien pâle, dis, pour une fiancée ? 
Calme-toi, je suis mieux. — Vers des clartés nouvelles 
Nous allons tout à l'heure ensemble ouvrir nos ailes. 
Partons d'un vol égal vers un monde meilleur." * 

Over-excited by the burning phrases that hallow passion 
and suicide, young men and women yield more frequently 
than they used to the fascination of death and are literally 
intoxicated by Novels and Plays inspiring them with a 
taste for Death. In former days double suicide was a 
rare crime in the South of France ; now it is common. I 
have noted no less than three double suicides at Marseilles 
in the course of a few weeks, and I have found the chief 
cause to be the terrible state of over-excitement induced 
by romantic reading. In one case, the young woman 
having survived her wounds, I was able to question her. 
I asked her if she were not in the habit of reading a great 
many Novels. She told me with a smile, as of one who 
sees her thoughts guessed, that her lover battened upon 
them. In another case, the lovers were both dead, but the 
young man's mother told me how her son used to read a 
fresh novel every day, and was constant in his attendance 
at the Theatre. The Opera of Lucia di \Lamnurmm % 
which he had witnessed three evenings running had 
intoxicated his imagination ; during the three months 
immediately preceding his suicide, his mother heard him 
for ever singing passages from the opera in question 
relating to Lucia's death and Edgar's suicide. 

1 Joseph Chénier, in one of his dramas, represents a woman whose lover 
has just taken poison as saying : 

*' Pour ton Elisabeth tu n'as rien réservé" — " For your Elizabeth you hate 
kept none back." 

3 " Nay ! grudge me not, I have kept your share intact. . . . I am pale, 
very pale, am I not, for a bride? Fear not, I am better now. — Toward new 
splendours we are soon, and together, to spread our wings. Let us away and 
fly side by side to a better world." 


In former days the man who died with his fiancée, as a 
rule rçspçcted her virtue. At the trial of one Ferrand, a 
youth of eighteen, who desirous of dying with the girl he 
loved, killed her but failed to kill himself, it was brought 
out in evidence that she was a virgin. The same statement 
could not so often be made nowadays. 

Young profligates who end in suicide are not simply 
and solely victims of their own evil passions, Romances 
and Poetry are often in part responsible for their ruin, 
drawing as they do a seductive picture of suicide as the 
finale of an orgy. Great Poets, no less indeed than Byron, 
de Musset and Baudelaire, have extolled this type of 
suicide. Byron sang the beauty of debauch, and himself 
lived a Don Juan life at Venice. Death which by right 
should awake only serious thoughts is mixed up by him 
with scenes of wild dissipation. He was fond of drinking 
from a skull and used to coquet with death as he did with 

Following Byron's example, Alfred de Musset continued 
to mingle in his poems love and impiety with murder and 
suicide. Don Paez, after assassinating a rival, poisons 
himself along with his mistress and dies in her arms, and 
the piece ends with a declaration of absolute disbelief. In 
Portia, Dalté kills his mistress's husband, kicks the corpse 
out of the way and goes for a sail in a gondola with the 
object of his affections. Rolla, after a life of dissipation, 
poisons himself and dies in the middle of an orgy. Paul 
Bourget has described in Le Disciple the fascination 
exercised over young men by the Poetry that idealizes 
wild profligacy and infidelity. 

Musset clearly realized the bond existing between in- 
fidelity, profligacy and suicide. He had suffered not a 
little from the anti-religious education he had received, 
and showed the ravages it might commit in the souls of 
young people in his Confession dun Enfant du Siècle. His 
earliest reading had been in the licentious Romances of 
the Eighteenth Century, which initiated him into the 
mysteries of profligacy and free thinking. "I devoured 


them," he says, "with unspeakable bitterness and grief, 
with a broken heart and a smile on my lips. • • . Yes! 
you are right, I cried, you only have the courage to declare 
the only true thing is debauchery, hypocrisy, vileness. Be 
my friends." ..." Who will ever dare," he says in another 
place, "to tell all that went on in schools and colleges? 
Men doubted every truth, young men went further and 
denied every truth. It was a sort of universal denial of 
all things in heaven and earth ; we may call it disenchant- 
ment, or if you will hopelessness." Musset suffered more 
than is generally supposed from this eclipse of hope. No 
doubt it was a result of his mistress's faithlessness that, 
unable any longer to believe in love, he conceived a disgust 
for life and society in general, but this was not the sole 
and only reason for his melancholy. Young people read- 
ing his poems see only an expression of love, its aspirations 
and disappointments, in them ; grown men find a more 
noble sorrow there, a sorrow caused by the Poet's loss of 
Faith. In a great number of passages the Poet notes as 
a deep poignant pain the loss of all belief in higher things. 

" Une croix en poussière et le désert aux deux." l 

Not only has he cursed Voltaire in Rolla, he has cursed 
Goethe and Byron too, reproaching them bitterly with 
having destroyed hope in him. He cries : " Forgive me, 
ye mighty poets, who are now a handful of ashes and lie 
beneath the soil ! forgive me, ye who are demigods, and I 
only a suffering child. But while writing all this, I cannot 
help myself but curse you." He cursed Byron and never- 
theless imitated him ; for he confessed himself, " my greatest 
defect was my copying everything that struck me, not 
because of its beauty but because of its strangeness." 1 

M. Faguet and M. Jules Lemaître do not understand 

1 M. Jules Lemaître assures us Priests admire Musset ; and I have observed 
the fact myself. A good and excellent Priest and a man of much good sense, 
who had read Musset for the first time when sixty years of age, told me he 
had been charmed with him. 

1 La Confession cCun Enfant du Siècle, 2nd Part, ch. iv. 


how Musset can reproach Voltaire with Rolla's suicide : 
" Think what we may," says M. Faguet, " of the doctrines 
of the Encyclopaedists, they can justifiably enough answer 
in this case that they are only responsible for the mistakes 
of men of sense and not for the calamities of mere nin- 
compoops." * Rolla a mere nincompoop ! Musset says of 

" C'était un noble cœur, naïf comme Penfance, 
Bon comme la pitié, grand comme l'espérance . . . 
Jacque était grand, loyal, intrépide et superbe. • . ." * 

Certainly I cannot profess to agree with much of this 
panegyric. But Rolla was not a mere nincompoop, he was 
a proud-hearted profligate, to whom Musset lent his own 
powers of imagination and his own sensibility. 

Musset is perfectly justified in charging infidelity with 
leading to debauchery and eventually to suicide ; he has 
told us himself that debauchery was the " first conclusion 
from those principles of death " which he had acquired 
from the hopelessness derived from "a corpse-like and 
loathsome literature." He was right again when he says 
in his apostrophe to Voltaire : 

" Penses-tu cependant que, si quelque croyance, 
Si le plus léger fil le retenait encor, 
Il viendrait sur ce lit prostituer la mort? . . ." 3 

All who have studied the causes of suicide, whether 
physicians or magistrates, know that religious beliefs do 
preserve men from this crime. 4 Rolla asks himself why 
he is going to die : 

1 Faguet, Études littéraires sur le XIX* siècle, p. 269. 

* " Twas a noble heart, simple as childhood's self, gentle as pity, lofty as 
hope. . . . Jacque was great and true-hearted, intrepid and superb. ..." 

* " But think you, if any faith, if the slenderest thread of belief yet held him, 
he would come to this couch to prostitute death ? " 

4 See the Dictionnaire des Sciences Médicales of Dechambre under Suicide ; 
Nouveau dictionnaire de médecine of Jaccond, under same. — Doctors, them- 
selves free-thinkers and materialists, recognize as an indisputable fact that 
religious feeling is the best safeguard against suicide. 


" Vous qui volez là-bas, légères hirondelles, 
Dites-moi, dites-moi pourquoi vais-je mourir ? 
Oh 1 l'affreux suicide 1 oh ! si j'avais des ailes, 
Par ce beau ciel si pur je voudrais les ouvrir." 1 

He would fain rise to Faith, but dissoluteness of living has 
broken his wings. 

Rolla has won disciples and imitators ; the fictitious tale 
of his suicide has provoked not a few real suicides. I 
have myself seen several modelled on the pattern of that 
of Mussèt's hero. 

Rolla kills himself because he is ruined, because he is 
too indolent and too proud to work, and because he is 
without belief in anything. 

" Quand on est pauvre et fier, quand on est riche et triste, 
On n'est pas assez fou pour se faire trappiste ; 
Mais on fait comme Escousse, on allume un réchand." s 

Idlers give themselves up to dissolute living, declaring 
they will kill themselves when their money is exhausted 
To give an instance. A young man who lived with a 
mistress commits suicide ; the woman on being questioned 
as to his motives for the deed, answers as follows : " I was 
living at Sens, in a ' maison de tolerance/ where I made 

the acquaintance of C , who has just committed suicide. 

C took me from the public establishment where I was 

an inmate and brought me to Paris, where we stayed at an 

hotel. C , who would not work, told me repeatedly that 

as soon as he had spent all his resources, he would blow 
his brains out ; and so he did." This suicide would seem 
to be modelled on Rolla's in Alfred de Musset's poem. 

1 " Light- winged swallows that fly yonder, tell me, tell me, why I most 
confront death. Oh ! hideous suicide 1 Had I but wings, I would spread 
them wide in this bright heaven so pure and free." 

These lines would seem to be the echo of a personal recollection. Musset 
relates how once in a moment of despair he opened his window and looking 
at the sky exclaimed, " Is it true then that you are void and empty? . . . 
As I stood with arms extended and eyes lost in space, a swallow uttered a 
plaintive cry." 

3 t« when men are poor and proud, when they are rich and sad, they are not 
mad enough to turn Trappist ; they do like Escousse, and kindle a brazier of 


Here is another example, showing even better the in- 
fluence of literature throwing a halo of poetry over suicide. 
In January 1885, a young man was picked up in a street 
at Saint-Etienne, by name Tony Auray, who had thrown 
himself from the second floor of an hotel ; he was only 
bruised by his fall, but before jumping out of window, he 
had fired off a revolver into his mouth and stabbed himself 
in the chest with a sword cane. In his room was found a 
girl of fifteen, stretched dead on the bed, her head pierced 
with revolver bullets ; she had evidently been killed in her 
sleep. The young man in reply to questions stated that 
his mistress and he had deliberately wished to end their 
lives, being drawn to suicide " by a sort of poetical feel- 
ing." On his trial he repeated the same declaration. " I 
cannot make you understand," he said, " the sentiment of 
poetry that urged us to wish for death ; these things are 
felt, but can hardly be explained." The accused was a 
student in pharmacy, who had conceived a disgust for life 
and had made up his mind to die, after being loved by a 
woman who, to use his own phrase, should have been all 
his, and have never been any other man's. After inheriting 
his father's modest fortune, he came to Lyons and met at 
the Theatre a working-man's daughter, whom her father 
had been imprudent enough to take to the play. To 
seduce her, he passed himself off as belonging to a very rich 
family, pressed his suit eagerly for some days, and ended 
by inducing her to leave her home. After living a life of 
pleasure with her in Paris for some months, he determined, 
on finding his resources were at length exhausted, to kill 
himself and his mistress too, to prevent her ever belonging 
to another. 

Profligates are ready enough to put an end to them- 
selves, talking with a laugh of "cracking their brain-box." 
There is nothing to restrain them, they are as sceptical as 
Rolla and absolutely without belief. They care nothing 
for their parents and family, calling their father the "old 
boy " ; considering he gives them too little " tin," they wish 
him dead so as to inherit his money. Don Juan says to 


his father, "Die! die! soon as ever you can." I have 
heard a father say, speaking of a profligate son, "He!— 
he would like to stick a knife into my back ! " In fact 
there is no single good feeling left to turn the profligate 
from the idea of suicide. Besides, the constant abuse of 
pleasure inspires a feeling of disgust towards life. Two 
mere boys, scarcely fifteen years of age, but who had 
already indulged in a life of dissipation, confessed when 
on trial for a criminal offence that the abuse of pleasure 
had made them conceive a disgust at existence generally. 1 
Then again, indolence and pride co-operate with dissipation 
in urging the profligate along the road to suicide. He hates 
work, and thinks he does not hold a position in society 
commensurate with his merits ; then if with these ideas 
in his head, he lets himself be intoxicated with a poetical 
picture of the bliss of non-existence, he is irresistibly drawn 
towards suicide. This was exactly the case of Tony Auray, 
profligate, indolent, disappointed in his schemes of ambition, 
too proud to work, who forms the design of self-destruction 
after dissipating his patrimony and taking toll of life's 
enjoyments, like Rolla : 

" Il prit trois bourses d'or et durant trois années, 
Il vécut au soleil sans se douter des lois . . . 
Le monde souriait en le regardant faire, 
Et lui qui le faisait, disait à l'ordinaire, 
Qu'il se ferait sauter quand il n'aurait plus rien." J 

Tony Auray did not take three years however to dissipate 
his little patrimony ; a few months were enough. Alfred 
de Musset's hero wishes : 

" Ressaisir la vie 
Au manteau virginal d'un enfant de quinze ans." s 

1 Gazette des Tribunaux, 23rd September 1886. 

3 " He took three purses of gold and for three years' space he lived in the 
sunshine without a thought of the laws. . . . The world smiled as it watched 
his ways of life, and he the while was wont to say, he would end all with a 
pistol when he should have nothing left." 

8 " To get a fresh lease of life, grasping the maiden robe of a fair girl of 


Similarly it is a girl of fifteen that Tony Auray seduces 
md entices from her father's custody. De Musset makes 
tolla a sceptic ; his apostrophe to Voltaire is no work 
>f supererogation. Tony Auray also was an absolute 
inbeliever. 1 

These suicides of weary profligates were also known in 
\ntiquity; learned and literary men of the Roman de- 
adence deemed them poetical and induced others to do 
he same by their example. While Seneca's disciples 
vould end their days like Zeno the Stoic, while perusing 
1 treatise of morality or talking philosophy with their 
riends, the followers of Epicurus would kill themselves 
ifter an orgy. Excess of indulgence, satiety of pleasure, 
r ear of pain, will lead to suicide just as effectually as melan- 
:holy. The highest good consisting for the Epicureans in 
'pleasure," when this failed, they would kill themselves. 
In Cleopatra's day, at Alexandria, there was even a Society 
Formed of " Companions of the Tomb " or " Inseparables in 
Death," whose members, after exhausting all the pleasures 
rf life in a series of orgies, were in the habit, when lassitude 
supervened, of putting an end to their lives. — These suicides 
af literary affectation and blasé profligacy were equally 
:ommon among the Romans of the Silver Age. Petronius, 
the most licentious poet of the Court of Nero, voluntarily 
quitted life, when he began to fear his influence with the 
Emperor was at an end. He was the recognized arbiter 
Df elegant society and its pleasures ; " he devoted the day 
to sleep, the night to the duties of society and pleasure." 
Having excited the jealousy of the other courtiers by sur- 
passing them all in the arts of wanton and luxurious 
living, he was denounced, and fearing to lose the Emperor's 
favour, and unwilling " any longer to bear this load of fear 
and hope," he opened his veins, the fashionable mode of 
suicide at that time, and calmly awaited death listening 
to the recitation of pleasant songs and merry verses. 

A certain witty indecency has always been one of the 

1 Byron wrote at Venice : " I will use up the mine of my youth to the last 
fthred of its ore. And then . . . good-night ! I have lived and I am satisfied." 


characteristics of the French mind and above all of the 
Parisian. Gay and blithe with Brantôme, Marot, Rabelais, 
Régnier, La Fontaine, Voltaire, Diderot, Désaugiers, 
Béranger, it has grown melancholic and turned to de- 
bauchery in contemporary literature. Poets have thought 
to assimilate the genius of Byron and Musset by giving 
philosophical airs to profligacy and displaying a morbid 
preference for scenes of lust and blood. The mere titles of 
Baudelaire's Poems, V Amour et le crâne, La Fontaine de 
sang, Un Voyage à Cythère, Le Vin de [assassin? etc, are 
enough to show this predilection for tales of blood and 
wild dissipation. He was right in naming his poems Les 
fleurs du mal, for indeed they are morbid and unhealthy 
enough. For him, 

" La débauche et la mort sont deux aimables filles." 2 

In the Middle Ages also death formed a subject for 
poetry and painting ; to intensify the impression produced 
by means of contrast, poets and painters set side by side 
in their books and pictures scenes of gloom and scenes of 
licence. These contrasted effects enshrined a moral 
purpose; they were intended to remind the favourites of 
fortune that life is fleeting, that death lay in wait for them 
and that they must prepare to die. It was in the early 
years of the Renaissance that the idea of Death grew into 
a refinement of sensual enjoyment and a motive of erotic 
poetry. Boccaccio prefaces the Decameron with a descrip- 
tion of the Plague of Florence, — another way of saying. 
Vita brevi fruamur ("Life is short; come let us enjoy *). 
Thoughts of death are salutary for believers but perilous 
for doubters, only stimulating in the sceptic a thirst for 
immediate enjoyment. The Epicurean and Freethinker 
throws himself with savage impetuosity on pleasure, be- 
cause he sees it will soon elude his grasp. During the 
Plague of Athens and again during that of Florence, a 

1 "Love and the Skull," "The Fountain of Blood," "A Journey to 
Cythera," "The Murderer's Wine." 

fl " Debauchery and Death are two sweet maids." 


feverish pursuit of pleasure was observed. 1 This is why 
«rriters, who seek sensations, for the sake of trying to 
describe them afterwards, bring the idea of death into 
dose connection with that of licentious enjoyment. In a 
recent book entitled, Du sang de la volupté^ et de la mort 
("Blood, Lust and Death"), M. M. Barrés writes: "My 
imagination is stirred by this atmosphere of death and 
ephemeral joys of the flesh. ... A marvel that is in 
process of disappearing, this is the feature that adds a 
feverish delight to every pleasure. To be perishable, this 
is the supreme grace. To see our mistress within our 
arms waning away each day, this rounds the pleasure we 
have of her with an incomparable melancholy. No 
intensity of sensation is adequate in which is not inter- 
mingled the idea of Death." 2 " A fig for Love without the 
spicy condiment of Death," says a character in Renan's 
Abbesse de Jouarre. 

By this profanation of Death, turning it into a refinement 
of sensuality, Literature has developed morbid tastes 
among the reading public and provoked not a few suicides. 
In fact, it is even more dangerous to coquet with Death 
than it is with Love ; such trifling always ends badly. 
Here is an instance in proof of what we say. Not long 
ago while examining the official reports of suicides for the 
Department of the Seine, I found appended to one of them 
the following printed advertisement : " To all who are dis- 
appointed, disillusioned, sceptical, — a new sensation offered 
by the magnetico-spiritualistic visions of Death in his 
cave." The prospectus was illustrated with pictures of 
skeletons and death's heads and similar horrors, which 
"disillusioned sceptics" were invited to come and see. 
The particular "sceptic" in question on receiving this 
curious document, had visited the show in search of a 

1 Physicians have noted that venereal diseases are more common during 
troublous times following on great public calamities, because at such periods 
populations abandon themselves to every kind of excess, to escape the terrors 
weighing upon them. See Nouveau dictionnaire de médecine of Jaccond, 
under word '* Syphilis." 

* M. Barres, Du sang, de la volupté et de la mort, p. 124. 

2 A 


stimulant to his blasé imagination; once there, he had 
been bitten by the fascination of death, and had ended by 
committing suicide. 

This poetry in which Death, Lust and Wanton Living 
are extolled is fit only for neurotic patients and men of 
half disordered intellect, and appeals only to ill-balanced 
minds, taught by it to associate the ideas of voluptuous- 
ness and death together. I have myself known students 
whose heads had been turned by reading these erotic and 
pessimistic poets and who had attempted to destroy them- 
selves in consequence. 

M. Bourget, discussing in his famous Novel Le Discipk 
the effects of unhealthy reading on Robert Greslou, 
specially mentions Les Fleurs du niai, Rolla and Stendhal's 
Romances, as having upset his conscience. The hero of 
the story is himself a copy of the hero of a Novel of 
Stendhal's, Julien Sorel. The criminal of Constantine, 
already more than once referred to, is more nervous than 
Julien Sorel, less master of himself, but he is like him, 
inquisitive of new sensations, and intermingles the idea 
of death with that of love. Stendhal's hero plans to kill 
himself after a last kiss. " I give her," he says, " one last 
kiss . . . and I kill myself . . . my lips will touch her 
cheeks before I die." * 

The motives leading to suicide have since Hamlet and 
in the period from Werther to Rolla gradually lost every 
note of elevation and become more and more contemptible. 
We understand how Hamlet was profoundly sad after his 
father's murder and his mother's marriage with the 
murderer, how he was driven distracted by these fearful 
discoveries, and how crushed under his load of pain, he 
becomes a victim to hallucinations and pretending to be 
mad in order to secure vengeance for his father's death, 
he goes mad in very truth. But Werther and René have 
not the same reasons for being weary of life ; their sorrows 
come merely from their disillusionment and their amorous 
dreams. When we come to Chatterton, disappointed love 

1 Stendhal, Le Rouge et le noir, ch. xlir. 


o longer the sole motive for suicide ; it is combined 
i sentiments of hatred against society and wounded 
ary vanity. In Rolla t it is simply the natural termina- 
of a life of debauch. 

y throwing a glamour over dissipation and Bohemian- 
Romance and Poetry are responsible for the existence 
. host of profligates and Bohemians, who supposing 
Café and the Brothel to be the road to fame, have 
d their way to wretchedness, disease, the hospital and 
dead-house. By dint of continually hearing a pre- 
dion for debauch and a love of idleness extolled as 
itic tastes and enemies of the "bourgeois" spirit, 
e literary and artistic charlatans come to a bad end, 
•ving all the while that a life of dissipation must 
luct them to success, that true elegance must be found 
never-ending search after new and violent sensation, 
verve in the stimulation of strong drink. All they 
ally find, to use Lucretius' expression, is " a life bowed 
»r an ignominious yoke, ruined fortunes, crushing 
s t duties forgotten, and honour sick and staggering 
ts fall," 1 — and, I may add to Lucretius' catalogue, 
ilth undermined, a mind distracted, a heart weary and 
and longing only for death. The unhappy poet who 
his part also sought intoxication in a great number 
flagons," left his genius behind in the wine cup : 

"J'ai perdu ma force et ma vie 
Et mes amis et ma gaïté ; 
J'ai perdu jusqu'à la fierté, 
Qui faisait croire à mon génie." 2 

e curses the dissipation he had not strength of mind 
ght against : 

" Ah l malheur à celui qui laisse la débauche 
Planter le premier clou sous sa mamelle gauche ! " s 

ucretius, Bk. iv. v. 1115 and following. 

I bave lost my vigour and my life, my friends and my gaiety ; I have 

yen the pride that made me believe in my genius." 

Ah ! ill-starred the man who lets debauch plant the first nail under his 



In another place, speaking of the prostitute, he declares: 

" Deux anges destructeurs marchent à son côté, 
Doux et cruels tous deux, la mort, la volupté." l 

Young men who are too ready to believe in the poetry 
of debauch and idleness and the efficacy possessed by 
alcoholic stimulants in supplying literary inspiration, may 
also recall with advantage the regrets Baudelaire has 
expressed in his Œuvres posthumes for the ill use he had 
made of his time, and his too great devotion to intoxicants. 

Women are nowadays beginning to destroy themselves 
no less than men. Generally so timid, they have ceased 
to have any fear of death ; on the contrary, it attracts 
them and the thought of everlasting rest flatters their 
imagination. Young women end their life after dining 
merrily with their girl friends ; they tell each other of 
their intention, see to the necessary preparations together, 
go out and buy the charcoal at the same time as the 
provisions required for their farewell meal, and sit down 
to table laughing and singing. I read in the Official 
Report of a case of suicide how the " concierge M (house- 
porter), was obliged to get up in the night to silence a 
party of women who were supping together and singing 
at two o'clock in the morning. Next morning " the songs 
had ceased," and the " concierge " found the women dead ; 
they had asphyxiated themselves by means of charcoal 

Literary vanity often forms one of the motives leading 
to suicide. Speaking of a Poet who killed himself along 
with a married woman in 1811 at Potsdam, Mme. de Staël 
makes a judicious remark applicable to more than one 
suicide : " Does not the man seem rather like an author, 
who lacking genius desires by means of a terrible catas- 
trophe to produce the effects he cannot attain in Poetry ?" 
The suicide of passion is often enough theatrical, and 
desperate men rehearse like actors the part they are 

1 " Two Angels of Destruction march at her side, sweet and cruel both of 
them, Death and Desire ! " 


to play! Mme. P *s death being very slow in 

lg, almost seven hours, Bancal wrote down hour by 
each incident of his victim's death agony, and the 
tions he himself experienced. Before killing Mme. 

-, the Student Ch read her a copy of verses he 

vritten for her. Before destroying himself, Werther 

a Tragedy of Lessing's. Escousse, author of a 
a played at the Porte Saint-Martin Theatre, carefully 
ges his suicide with Lebras, as if it were a piece 
were going to play, such as the melodrama he had 
x>rated with his friend in writing for the Gaïté. He 
id him to repair to the place fixed for their suicide, 

as he might have summoned him to a theatrical 
sentation. "I expect you at half past eleven," he 
liim ; " at that hour the curtain will rise ; l mind you 
, that we may hurry up the catastrophe." Before 
>orating in this funereal piece, he had prepared this 
;raph for insertion in the newspapers : " I wish the 
papers which announce my death to append this 
ment to their notice : — ' Escousse killed himself, 
ise he felt he had no place here, because he lacked 
ir every step he took forwards or backwards, because 
rf fame did not sufficiently dominate his soul, if soul 
is. 9 " He had likewise prepared some time previously 
tw of his death, some verses he wished to pass off as 
►osed impromptu at the moment of his death. They 
found later among a heap of old papers, scored with 
res and corrections. We give them for what they are 


" Adieu, trop inféconde terre, 
Fléaux humains, soleils glacés 1 
Comme un fantôme solitaire, 
Inaperçu j'aurai passé ; 
Adieu, palmes immortelles, 
Vrai songe d'une âme de feu, 
L'air manquait, j'ai fermé mes ailes, 
Adieu." 2 

lis phrase appears to be a reminiscence of Werther, who says: "The 
rises, we pass over to the other side, and that's all ! " 
r arewell 1 too unfruitful earth, human scourges, icy suns ! Like a 


By sanctifying passion, dissipation, the cult of self, the 
search after super - refined sensations and scepticism, 
Literature has disseminated the taste for death, for egoistic 
feelings are always incapable of attaching human beings to 
life. The dreamy, sentimental melancholy of Romanticism 
became yet more bitter and gloomy among the writers that 
followed Flaubert, Leconte de Lisle, Pierre Loti, Mme. 
Ackerman, because it has ceased to be consoled by any 
sort of belief and augmented by a deep sense of the 
sadness and sorrows of life. The general impression left 
from the perusal of these pessimistic writers is that life is 
not worth living, and I have myself had occasion re- 
peatedly to notice this scorn of life expressed in the letters 
of students and teachers. A short time since one of the 
latter, before committing suicide, wrote the following lines: 
" I die by my own act, for I have come to the conclusion 
that life is not worth the trouble we take to enable us to 
live it Time to smoke a cigarette, and all is over. Is 
life worth as much as a good cigarette ? " When teachers 
have such an idea of life, is it surprising if their pupils 
share it? "I wish to be buried without religious rites," 
writes a lad of sixteen. " I die an atheist, having never 
believed in a God, and refusing to believe in immortality. 
After death, annihilation. (Feb. 1897.)" Underlying all 
this despair that leads to suicide is the idea that life is 
a poor business, and annihilation preferable. The same 
notion it is which nowadays induces parents who commit 
suicide to kill their children at the same time. Yet this 
pessimistic view of life is quite reconcilable with a love 
of life's pleasures. Schopenhauer managed quite well to 
make his pessimism go along with the cultivation of 
sensual gratifications. On the contrary, other pessimists, 
convinced that life is not worth living, end it once for alL 
As the result of reading Schopenhauer's works, Mainlànder 
turned pessimist and hanged himself on March 31st, 1876. 

lonely phantom, I shall have passed away unnoted ; farewell ! laurels of 
immortality, true dream of a fiery soul ; air failed me and I closed my wings» 
farewell 1 " 


Any book expressing contempt for life and vaunting the 
advantages of death may inspire a disgust for existence 
and a preference for death. The Philosopher Hegesias 
demonstrated with so much eloquence that life is an evil» 
"that King Ptolemy, they say, forbade him to treat of 
this question in his public teaching, because several of 
his hearers killed themselves in consequence." (Cicero, 
Tusculan Orations^ Bk. L, § 34.) The same fact is re- 
corded by Plutarch [Of Love and Natural Charity) and 
by Valerius Maximus (Bk. VIII., ch. ix., § 3). Underlying 
the thought of suicide is always a comparison between the 
advantages of life and those of death, and a conviction 
that the latter outweigh the former. Every pessimistic 
conception of life, if unaccompanied by faith in God and 
a future state, provokes despair and leads directly to 
suicide. The duty then of all Writers is to make their 
fellow-men love life rather than despise it, and to make 
life loved they must give it a moral aim. 

Nor does suicide find its victims exclusively among 
persons of cultivated mind. Novels, by filling girls of 
the lower classes, working girls and domestic servants, 
with romantic ideas, inspire them with disgust at their 
modest position in life, and from that to disgust at life 
itself is but a step. From novel reading they acquire a 
habit of indulgence in impossible dreams ; they too would 
fain be heroines, they are humiliated by their subordinate 
situation and the necessity of living with coarse and un- 
educated relatives, and when they do not take to evil courses, 
generally end in suicide. It would hardly be credited how 
many melancholic servant maids there are and working 
girls afflicted with the spleen. Laundresses, shoemakers' 
daughters, by no means escape the curse of the Century. 
" My daughter/' a shoemaker told a Police Commissary, 
in reply to his questions as to the motives of the girl's 
suicide, " my daughter was a great reader, and this gave 
her melancholy thoughts. She envied the lot of those 
who are no more. She considered Death a deliverance, 
though she had nothing whatever to complain of in the 


life she led. We are well off; she was an excellent work- 
woman and gained an ample livelihood." The unhappy 
father, while recognizing the fact that novel-reading gave 
his child sad thoughts, could not account for her having 
shot herself with a revolver on retiring to bed ; he failed 
to see that she was suffering from being only a shoemaker's 

Everything grows democratical in these days, — suicide 
included. Saint-Marc Girardin wrote in his Cours de 
littérature dramatique: "Suicide is not a malady of simple- 
minded, simple-hearted folk, but of the highly educated 
and philosophically inclined." M. Caro in his Études 
morales says the same. Both are wrong. It is quite a mis- 
take to think it is a special malady of the highly cultured 
reflective classes ; it is equally a disease of working men, 
coachmen, locksmiths, carpenters, stone-masons and the 
like. I am acquainted with very few cases of suicide 
among contemporary philosophers. Suicide is supposed 
to be frequent among those who practise the liberal 
professions ; but for myself, I have always found the 
opposite to be the case. Instances of suicide on the 
part of Advocates, Magistrates, Engineers, Priests, are 
very rare. In 1896, out of 1549 suicides in Paris, I only 
find seven committed by persons exercising the liberal 
professions. Some of these were (I have read the official 
reports) determined by illness or madness ; amongst others, 
an Advocate destroyed himself from grief because he was 
compelled to put his wife, who had become insane, in an 
asylum. Suicides of workmen, of girls of the lower classes, 
of young clerks and shopmen and of domestic servants are, 
on the other hand, very frequent. Suicide is not, as it was 
at the beginning of the Nineteenth Century, an aristocratic 
vice; it has become a popular one, with the diffusion of 

To give a few examples : 

A young maid-servant destroys herself by means of 
charcoal fumes, after writing, " I am terribly weary of 
existence in this world. My life is gloomy and useless. 


cilling myself to escape its vexations." — Another 
eighteen throws herself under the wheels of a 
ive, which crushes both legs, without killing her. 
uestioned as to the motive of her act, she answers, 
ed to destroy myself, because I have had enough 
it is too sad altogether." — In a large number of 
Reports recording the suicides of young servant 
10 have destroyed themselves by hanging, inhala- 

charcoal fumes or drowning, I read how they 

it degrading to serve others, how life was a 
to them. They had repeatedly proclaimed their 
n of killing themselves, and bid farewell to their 
and friends with a host of sentimental phrases 
d from Novels and Romances. A young maid-of- 
:, hating her position, leaves her place and prepares 
n end to herself, writing a long letter to her father 
him to distribute souvenirs to her relations and 

she concludes the letter with the following words : 
ask one favour, dear father, that you place flowers 
tomb and on my coffin. I should dearly have 
>me for my death, but as I did not wish to be seen 
treets about here, I have foregone this last pleasure." 
ovember 2, 1893, at six in the morning, one Nizolli, 
j Italian workman of twenty, cutter in a shoe- 

at Marseilles, the son of a school-mistress, at- 
l to commit suicide. A witness, who had run in 
sound of the shots, found him lying dressed on his 
unded in four places with revolver bullets ; one 
vas near the breast-bone, two below the left breast, 
ourth in the groin. He was an industrious work- 
jular in his conduct and affectionate towards his 
and relations. His day's work finished, he used to 
his evenings to reading Novels and Poetry, often 

himself of sleep for the purpose. His aunt, a 
cacher at Marseilles, told me all this reading had 
him very greatly and had made him conceive a 
for life and a hatred of society. In his room were 
opies of verses which he had composed and two 


letters. In one of these addressed to his aunt, he asked 
her forgiveness for the pain he was about to cause her, 
prayed her not to think harshly of him, and told her that 
the small sum of money he left behind, which she would 
find in his purse, would serve " to pass Charon's boat with,* 
In the other letter, addressed to his parents, he explained 
the motives of his suicide. It runs as follows : 

" My dear Parents, — It is books have been my ruin. 
Seeing man is bound to slip in the mud, why make him 
acquainted with the mountain summits? why inspire him 
with hopes of a life full of enchantment ? 

" Cursed be all books ! Ah ! if only the makers of novels 
knew the harm they do ! . From my earliest years, I have 
thought possible a life consecrated to all that is true and 
noble, I have dreamed of a life such as we read of in 
Romance. Now, disgusted and exhausted, I see I can 
never attain the chimaera my youthful brain set before 
it as its aim ; but now, I cannot, I cannot slip into the 
mud. And as man is a brute with instincts more vile than 
any other animal, as life is a hell upon earth, I prefer to 
find rest in the tomb. Forgive me the pain I am going 
to cause you. I would not give it you, if I could help it, 
but I am only twenty and life is a burden to me. 

" I kiss your hands fondly. 

" Farewell for ever ! " 

The young Italian in question survived his attempted 
suicide. On leaving the hospital, where he was cured of 
his wounds, he sold all his novels, for which he had con- 
ceived a horror, used the money in buying a bicycle, and 
started for America. 

Called upon to account for her son's suicide, — he was 
apprenticed to a gilder on leather, and sixteen years of 
age, — his mother stated to the police : " Our son was 
gloomy and often told us he was sick of the workshop ; 
he lost his temper at the most innocent remark. Two 
days ago he flew into a passion and declared we should 
never see him again after a week's time. He was in the 


habit of reading a great many Novels, and these probably 
turned his head. Yesterday evening he came home from 
work more gloomy than ever. After dinner he retired to 
his room. We thought he had gone to fetch a book, but 
a moment later we heard a shot ; we rushed into the room 
and found our boy stretched on the floor with a bullet 
through the right temple." The same fate had befallen 
these two young workers in leather l as befell Don Quixote, 
whose head was turned by reading books of Chivalry. 
u Our Hidalgo buried himself so deep in books ; he spent 
the whole day in reading from morn to eve and the night 
from eve to morn ; and so by dint of reading and watching 
he dried up his brain to such a degree that he presently 
lost his wits. His imagination was filled full of all he 
read in the books, — enchantments, disputes, challenges, 
battles, wounds, declarations of love, degradations." To 
abolish the cause of Don Quixote's madness, they burned 
his books; to recover his reason, the young Italian we 
have spoken of sold his collection of novels, bought a 
bicycle and started for America. When parents notice 
their son entertaining gloomy thoughts pointing in the 
direction of suicide, they should find out what he reads, 
discover if he is not in the habit of perusing Novels and 
Poetry of a melancholy, romantic type, and if this is so, 
locking up his bookcase and turning him out into the 
fields. A little travel would be all that is required very 
often to restore health and sanity to many a young victim 
of melancholia. But parents, absorbed in their daily tasks, 
have no notion as to the reason of their child's sadness, 
till one day, to their profound astonishment, they learn 
that he has committed suicide. Such was the case with 
a Paris bookseller, who in February 1895 found his son, 
a lad of seventeen, with a pistol bullet through his head. 
Questioned as to the motive for the suicide, the unhappy 

1 Working shoemakers as a rule profess very advanced political and social 
opinions. This revolt against society I attribute to the disproportion existing 
between their position in life and the one their ambition would have them fill ; 
Moreover, all sedentary occupations are provocative of dangerous day-dreams. 


father told the Police Commissary: "My son, who has 
never been away from home, had everything he needed to 
be happy ; but he suffered from melancholy, he had the 

Of course all the young people who put an end to them- 
selves are not imitating Werther or copying Indiana. 
Many of them do not so much as know the names of 
Goethe or George Sand ; they are driven to suicide solely 
by the working of the passions and their own neuropathic 
constitution. But there are others, who finding themselves 
similarly situated to Werther, are so deeply impressed by 
reading the Novel as to be irresistibly drawn to imitate 
the hero's suicide. Side by side with physiological and 
psychical suicides, there are also literary suicides, deter- 
mined by a morbid sentimentality derived from Romances 
which defend and draw a seductive picture of suicide. 
The play of Romeo and Juliet again is well calculated to 
inspire a young man with a longing not to survive the 
dear being he would fain have made his bride. Literature 
has so widely disseminated this idea, that two lovers ought 
to die together when they cannot live together, that M. 
Saint-Marc Girardin approves Romeo's suicide: "Which 
of us," he says, "would consent to see Romeo survive 
Juliet or Juliet Romeo ?" Literature has yet further con- 
tributed to spread the mania of suicide by representing a 
voluntary death not merely as a poetical but as a religious act 
u I am about to rejoin my Father and your Father," Werther 
declares ; " I will carry my sorrows to the foot of His throne, 
and He will comfort me till you come. Then, I will fly to 
meet you, I will seize you and will be for ever united with 
you in presence of the Eternal, in kisses without end." 

Literature would be better inspired not to teach men 
these lessons of contempt for life and love of death. 
Human reason is too weak to bear shaking with sophistries 
in excuse of suicide. Life contains enough sadness with- 
out Novelists and Poets increasing its intensity by instilling 
a morbid and precocious melancholy. It is no part of 
their duty to make lads of twenty despair of life, to add to 


I sorrows the weight of imaginary grievances, and make 
n melancholy before their time. To tell young people 

is not worth living is to destroy their illusions and 
n them into useless whimperers, — and seeing contempt 

life often ends in Epicureanism, — very often to make 
m selfish Epicureans. 

*o such reproach can be levelled at our Classical 
rature. No one has ever dreamed of holding Corneille, 
Hère, La Fontaine, Boileau or Racine responsible for 

suicide of their readers. While some of the most 
îbrated authors of the Romantic School, Chateaubriand, 
roartine, George Sand, Alfred de Musset, Sainte-Beuve, 
éophile Gautier and others, have either made attempts 
suicide or have been constantly assailed by thoughts 
ding in that direction, no Classical writer has felt, or 
any rate succumbed to, any such temptation. True 
Hère, Boileau and Chapelain on one occasion conceived 

mad idea of jumping into the Seine, but this was after 
inner where the wine had been flowing freely, causing 
emporary aberration of reason. Voltaire has denied 

authenticity of the story, but there is no doubt about 
it is related by Racine fils himself in the Memoir he 
>te of his father. "This famous supper," he says, 
credible as it may appear, really occurred. Happily 

father was not there. The wise Boileau, who was, 
npletely lost his head, like the rest. The liquor having 
duced in all the guests a fit of the severest moral 
juisition, their lucubrations on the miseries of life and 

maxim of the Ancients which declares that 'the best 
tpiness is not to be born, and the second best to die 
n/ caused them to adopt the heroic resolution of 
rting off at once to throw themselves into the River, 
ither they promptly repaired and were very near carry- 

their purpose into effect, when Molière represented to 
m that so noble a deed should not be buried in the 
kness of night, but deserved to be performed in open 
\ At this they stopped short, and looking at each other 
:ulated, ' He is quite right' To which Chapelain added : 


* Yes! gentlemen, don't let us drown ourselves till to- 
morrow morning, and meantime suppose we go finish the 
wine that's left.' Next day they looked at it in a different 
light, and thought it best after all to go on bearing the 
miseries of life." l With the exception of this one youthful 
folly, which also goes to prove the influence exercised by 
literary memories during intoxication, our great Classical 
writers have never felt any temptation in this direction. 
Neither is any defence of suicide to be found in Virgil, 
who assigns those who have attempted their own life a 
place in Hell : 

" Proxima deinde tenent mcesti loca, qui sibi letum 
Insontes peperere manu, lucemque perosi 
Projecere animas. Quam vellent aethere in alto 
Nunc et pauperiem et duros perferre labores ! ns 

What especially characterizes the Classical writers is 
their good sense, their " sweet reasonableness," the balance 
of their faculties. These great minds are of a sound and 
healthy genius, well balanced, of a robust and vigorous 
moral constitution. Nor did they show any lack of 
sensibility or imagination, as the Romantics have alleged. 
Who had a more tender heart than Racine ? Who possessed 
a more brilliant imagination than Corneille? Are not 
Pascal, and Bossuet himself, as remarkable for the force 
of their imagination as for the depth of their sensibility? 
Are they not at one and the same time poets, orators and 
philosophers ? Who can deny the most graceful gifts of 
fancy and the most exquisite endowment of sensibility 

1 Andrieux wrote a Comedy based on the incidents of this famous sapper 
under the title of Molière avec ses amis ("Molière and his Friends"). He 
made La Fontaine one of the party, but as a matter of fact he was not there. 
1 " The next in place, and punishment, are they 
Who prodigally throw their souls away ; 
Fools, who repining at their wretched state 
And loathing anxious life, suborn'd their fate. 
With late repentance now they would retrieve 
The bodies they forsook, and wish to live, 
Their pains and poverty desire to bear, 
To view the light of heaven, and breathe the vital air." 

From Virgil, Aineid, vi. 11. 434-437. Dryden's translation. 


La Fontaine and Fénélon? But these great writers 
>trusted sensibility and fancy as regular guides, they 
eferred the sure government of reason. Boileau was 
ver weary of telling the poets : 

" Aimez donc la raison. . . ." l 

One of his friends, finding him one day absorbed in the 
arch for a rhyme, advised him to go and get a Rhyming 
ictionary. "No! no!" was Boileau's answer, "rather 
t me a Reasoning Dictionary ; " he thought far more of 
e justness of the sentiment than of the sonority of the 
>rds or the perfection of the rhyme. How many poets 
d romance writers of the present do just the opposite ; 
>o much the worse for the sense!" Flaubert used to 
y, "rhythm before everything!" Corneille, Descartes, 
Lscal, were so enamoured of reason they made it part 
id parcel of love ; " Love and reason," Pascal was wont 
say, " are one and the same thing." The modern view 
that love and unreason are one and the same thing ; 
yl more, that love is proved by suicide and even by 
ime, that he is no lover who is not ready to kill himself 
others. Good sense, now deemed a vulgar, common- 
ice quality, was admired above all else by the great 
liters of the Seventeenth Century, who declared good 
nse to be master of the house of human life, and 
agination the " foolish virgin " of the establishment. 

" Que toujours le bon sens s'accorde avec la rime," * 

is Boileau's axiom. Corneille claimed with satisfaction 
his Preface to Otho to have endowed his characters with 
opriety of conduct and displayed good sense in all their 
ntiments. In this school the young men and women of 
e Seventeenth Century learned to love reason and distrust 
e enticements of sensibility and imagination. Suicides 
passion were rare at that period. When women had 
ye disappointments, they entered a Convent and never 

1 "Love reason therefore. ..." 

1 M Let good sense ever chime in with the rhyme." 


dreamed of throwing themselves into the Seine. They 
sought consolation in listening to the sermons of Bourdaloue 
and Bossuet. Sound reasoning faculties exercised the 
same fascination over Princes as grace and beauty. It was 
by her prudence and rectitude of mind that Mme. de 
Maintenon seduced Louis XIV. ; it is well known how 
the King would ask her advice in the words, " What thinks 
your reasonableness of the matter ? " In the Seventeenth 
Century good sense was more admired than wit ; and the 
same is true of the greatest writers of Antiquity ; there is 
more wit in Ovid and Martial than in Virgil or Lucretius. 
Louis XIV. himself preferred good sense to wit; the 
fanciful, brilliant wit of Fénélon frightened him. At the 
present day, on the contrary, to how many books and 
plays may Gresset's line be applied : 

" De l'esprit, si Ton veut, mais pas le sens commun!" 1 

Quite forgetful of Boileau's advice : 

" Il faut même en chanson du bon sens et de l'art,"' 

modern Literature, no great admirer of Boileau, has put 
plenty of art into its Novels and Plays, but not so much 
common sense. 

But if 

" Raison sans sel est fade nourriture, 
Sel sans raison n'est solide pâture," s 

as Jean Jacques Rousseau puts it. 

The Eighteenth Century, sensualistic as it had become 
both in theory and practice, yet remained in Literature 
faithful in its preference for good sound reason. A critic 
having reproached Gresset with wanting wit, the latter who 
was not really at all wanting in this quality, replied: "I 
had rather lack wit than good sense." A modern writer 
on the other hand would far rather want good sense than 
wit; the reasonable author is thought a commonplace, 

1 " Wit, if you will, but no common sense 1 " 

9 " Even for a song good sense and art are needful." 

* " Reason without salt is vapid stuff; salt without reason is not solid food." 


mediocre creature, a "bourgeois" mind, a Philistine. 
Novelists like to see a small spice of insanity in their 
readers and do their best to insinuate it into their minds. 
What a contrast the fine sound sense in Voltaire, Buffon, 
d'Alembert, Montesquieu ! J. Chénier agrees with Boileau 
when he writes : — 

" Qu'est-ce que vertu ? Raison mise en pratique. 
Valeur ? Raison produite avec éclat 
Esprit ? Raison qui finement s'exprime. 
Le goût n'est rien qu'un bon sens délicat, 
Et le génie est le raison sublime." 1 

Nowadays, according to the latest theories, genius is a 
nervous complaint and virtue the same, men of talent and 
saints are victims of degeneracy, hysteria, neurasthenia or 
epilepsy. In former days health of body and mind was 
the object aimed at, — "mens sana in corpore sano," "a 
healthy mind in a healthy body." Now the way to fame 
is through nervous disease, a disordered imagination, an 
inordinate sensibility. 

In the school of the great Classical authors of the Seven- 
teenth and Eighteenth Centuries, all with the exception 
of Rousseau, men of sound and sensible intellect, writers 
run no risk of stultifying their judgment with apologies 
for suicides of passion ; by contact with them reason is 
fortified, sensibility moderated, imagination cooled. Jean 
Jacques Rousseau is the only great Writer of the Eighteenth 
Century who approves of suicide. True, it may be urged 
that the defence he makes of suicide in the Nouvelle Helolse 
is followed by a refutation ; but in a letter to Voltaire, on 
the occasion of his Poem on the Earthquake of Lisbon, he 
allows that man has a right to kill himself. D'Holbach is 
of the same opinion in his book Le Système de la Nature. 
On the other hand suicide is condemned by Voltaire 
{Dictionnaire Philosophique, under "Cato"), by the Encyclo- 

1 " What is virtue? Reason put in practice. What is valour? Reason 
displayed under brilliant circumstances. Wit ? Reason gracefully expressed. 
Taste is nothing else but a delicate good sense, and genius is reason at its 
snblimest height." 

2 B 


paedists and by Montesquieu. The last-named, it is true, 
had written its apology in the Lettres Persanes (Letter 76), 
but he condemned it in the Esprit des Lois (bk. xiv. cL x.); 
he even approves of the Law branding suicide as a crime, 
except always in England, where he believes this form of 
death to be the result of a disease due to the climate! 

Nay ! more, not only do the Classical authors avoid any 
suggestions of suicide ; they are actually a cure for morbid 
cravings in that direction, as I have shown by the example 
of George Sand. But beginning with Jean Jacques 
Rousseau, Literature has changed its character; imagi- 
nation and sensibility have come to the front at the 
expense of reason in Romance and Poetry ; l inordinate 
sensibility, morbid imagination, false sentiment, there you 
have Rousseau and the Literature he inspired. The most 
famous writers of the Nineteenth Century, Chateaubriand, 
George Sand, Victor Hugo, all have too much imagination 
and not enough good sense. Their style is too full of 
tropes ; some of these are superb, but others again are in 
bad taste. Sainte-Beuve relates how Bernardin de Saint- 
Pierre, when asked his opinion of Chateaubriand, answered 
that his imagination was too strong for him. 2 Not a doubt 
about it, imagination and sensibility are fine faculties, 
the primary preconditions of Poet and Novelist ; an author 
must himself feel deeply to move readers or spectators 
But exaggerated sensibility and over-strung imagination, 
uncontrolled by reasop, are prejudicial to literary sanity 

1 These reflections do not apply to the Historians, Moralists, Literary Critics 
or Philosophers of the Nineteenth Century. We have bad historians of the 
▼ery first rank ; A. Thierry, Guizot, Thiers, Mignet, — Micbelet himself, in 
spite of many whimsicalities of imagination, may be set side by side with the 
historians of Antiquity. Cousin, Roger-Collard, JourTroy, Caro, J. Simon are 
all Philosophers of distinguished merit. Our literary critics, Villemain, 
Sainte-Beuve, D. Nisard, Saint-Marc Girardin, Caro, Patin, Boissier, J. 
Lemaitre, Brunetière, Faguet, Larroumet are not less remarkable for the 
acuteness of their powers of moral observation than for the justness of their 
literary judgments. In all these writers imagination and sensibility are duly 
controlled by reason ; one only ! Michelet, has allowed his fancy to run away 
with him and thereby spoiled his great talent. 

8 Chateaubriand et son groupe^ p. 203. 


no less than they are to bodily health. To be convinced 
•of the fact, it is only needful to visit a lunatic asylum and 
read the works of Doctors Magnan, Dagonnet, Ball, Féré, 
on the causes leading to mental complaints. Before their 
time a Theologian (Theologians haye many points of con- 
tact with specialists in insanity), Malebranche, had pointed 
out the dangers of inordinate imagination in La Recherc/ie 
de la Vérité. " It is no defect," he writes, " to possess a 
brain . adapted for picturing things rigorously and receiv- 
ing distinctly very clear and very vivid images of the 
smallest objects. . . . But when the imagination dominates 
the soul and, without waiting for the orders of the will, 
its impressions are called up by the mere action of the 
brain as affected by external objects, ... it is then 
manifestly a bad rather than a good quality, and indeed 
almost a form of insanity." Men who are slaves of their 
imagination do not see things as they really are, they 
«exaggerate and overestimate them, and consequently fail 
to appreciate them at their true value ; they are subject 
to illusions, visions and hallucinations; they are restless, 
agitated, unstable, eccentric, irritable, the genus irritabile 
vatum ("the irritable tribe of bards") ; they lack delibera- 
tion, balance, judgment. 

Literary health, just like physical, is a matter of the 
-equilibrium of the faculties ; it implies a due compromise 
between imagination and reason, sensibility and good 
taste. This accord of the faculties is found in Classical 
literature ; it does not exist in Romantic, which is marked 
by the predominance of imagination and sensibility over 
reason. Thus Goethe himself used to say, " I call classical 
whatever is healthy, and romantic whatever is morbid." 

Romanticism plumed itself on being in opposition to 
common sense ; it sought out by preference the ex- 
ceptional, the odd, it poetized melancholy, consumption, 
and suicide and crime arising out of amorous passion. 
In his notice on Gérard de Nerval, who went mad and 
hanged himself from the bars of a vent-hole of one of the 
old Parisian street lamps, Théophile Gautier tells us how 


his wild extravagancies appeared quite matters of course 
to the other members of the early Romantic school, his 
friends. " In those days," he says, " of literary eccentricity» 
among the paroxysms of originality, the voluntary or in- 
voluntary outrages on propriety that were every day occur- 
rences, it was extremely difficult to appear extravagant; 
every folly seemed plausible, and the least eccentric among 
us would have been deemed a fitting occupant for a cell 
in a lunatic asylum." Théophile Gautier himself, who 
ended in Epicureanism, began as a pessimist; in early 
years his sick imagination craved, 

" Dans l'immobilité savourer lentement 
Comme un philtre endormeur l'anéantissement" * 

He longed for annihilation like a disciple of Buddha, or 
a precursor of Schopenhauer ; he composed the Comedy of 
Death, taking delight only in mournful images and associ- 
ating with them, as often happens in like circumstances, 
the most voluptuous fancies. At twenty he had arrived, 
he declares, " at such a degree of surfeit as to be no longer 
tickled by anything that was not out of the way and 
difficult ; " 2 he was already enamoured of a literature 
highly-spiced, gamey, decadent, in preference to healthy 
writing, he had already contracted morbid tastes, in spite 
of the pure surroundings amid which he lived. " I rotted 
away," he says, " little by little of my own inward corrup- 
tion, without a sign being visible externally, like a medlar 
on straw ; in the bosom of that worthy, pious, saintly 
family, I was idle to the pitch of downright wickedness." 

Sainte-Beuve, who later on became a genial Epicurean 
like Gautier, likewise began by being a disciple of Werther, 
" an amateur, radical Werther," to use M. Guizot's phrase. 
Before developing into the judicious critic, so replete with 
delicate appreciation and sound sense, of the Causeries 
du Lundi and the Nouveaux Lundis, he was the morbid- 
minded poet, whom he has described in the book entitled, 

1 " In immobility to relish annihilation languorously, like a philter that lulls 
to slumber." 

2 Mademoiselle de Maupin, ch. v. 


Vie, poésie et pensées de Joseph Delorme. " His soul," he 
says, " presents henceforward only an inconceivable chaos, 
where monstrous fancies, vivid reminiscences, criminal 
visions, great thoughts strangled in their birth, wise re- 
solutions followed by mad actions, pious aspirations 
succeeded by blasphemies, dance and toss confusedly 
against a background of despair." Remembering in later 
years this early period of storm and stress, Sainte-Beuve 
delivered the following judgment on the Romantic School, 
where he had learned the art of groaning, lamenting and 
despairing at twenty : " In this school, to which I belonged 
from the latter part of 1827 down to July 1830, nobody had 
any sound judgment whatever, — neither Hugo, nor Vigny, 
nor Nodier, nor the brothers Deschamps ; I did more or 
less what all the rest did during this period, I put my judg- 
ment in my pocket and gave free play to my imagination." 

The want of taste, so frequent among the Romanticists, 
is nothing but a want of judgment. Is it not, for instance, 
a defect of taste and judgment on the part of Chateaubriand 
to recount his own sister's incestuous passion, on the part 
of Lamartine to describe in minute detail his own mother's 
physical charms ? Does not the flood of Confessions, which 
since Rousseau has inundated Literature, point to a lack 
of tact, of judgment ? "If it is a fault to talk often of 
oneself, it is a piece of effrontery, rather a form of insanity, 
to be praising oneself at every instant " (Malebranche). 

And not only were the Romantic writers, notwithstanding 
the great talent and genius of some of their number, want- 
ing in judgment, but not a few of them were affected by 
nervous complaints and even mental infirmities. Jean 
Jacques Rousseau, who was the true promoter of the 
Romantic movement, suffered from the " mania of perse- 
cution," particularly during the last years of his life. 
Several of his books show manifest traces of insanity ; 
Voltaire drew attention to the fact. When Rousseau 
published La Profession de foi du Vicaire savoyard (" The 
Savoyard Vicar's Confession of Faith"), one of his best 
works, Voltaire exclaimed, in mingled astonishment and 


delight : "Oh ! Rousseau, you write like a madman and 
act like a scamp, but you have just spoken like a wise man 
and a good one. Read, my friends, and let us greet truth 
and morality wherever they show out, even amid ill 
sentiments and aberration of mind." Rousseau's insanity 
has been described by Dr Môbius, Dr Châtelain, Dr 
Krafft-Ebihg ; 1 there is no room left for doubt. 

Nor was Rousseau the only Romantic writer touched 
with mental disease; Byron, also an Author of a high 
genius, was as ill-balanced in mind as he. Taine declares 
he was half mad. As a boy he used to fight with his 
mother, and the pair of them, after a furious quarrel, would 
run to the chemists, each anxious to discover if the other 
had not been there to buy poison to commit suicide with. 
One day he seized a knife from the table to stab himself 
in the breast, and it had to be taken from him by force. 
His wife believed him mad and had him examined by the 
doctors ; and he himself entertained the dread of " dying at 
the top," like Swift. 2 In a letter written in 1811 he says, 
" I think I shall end by going mad." Stendhal, who knew 
Byron personally and lived several weeks with him, de- 
clares that on some days he was actually mad. 

Of course I do not maintain for a moment that all the 
writers of the Romantic school were victims of insanity. 
But notwithstanding my admiration for the genius of some 
of them, I am bound to allow the existence in several of a 
diseased imagination and morbid sensibility predispos- 
ing them to suicide. In Chateaubriand, who resembled 
Rousseau in so many respects, imagination and sensibility 
were undoubtedly diseased, and, as we have said, he made 
an attempt at self-destruction in his early days. — George 

1 See also an article by M. Brunetière on La Folie de J. /. Rousseau in the 
Revue des Deux Mondes of February 1st, 1890. Sainte-Beuve believed, but on 
insufficient grounds, that Rousseau had put an end to his own life in a fit of 
madness {Chateaubriand et son groupe % p. 107). As a matter of fact, Rousseau 
died of an attack of serous apoplexy. 

2 The "Great Dean" had dreaded for years the fate of insanity which 
eventually overtook him. " Young . . . tells how he once heard Swift say, 
* I shall be like that tree : I shall die at the top.' " (Translator.) 


Sand too had troubles of sensibility and will, she says so 
herself. " I was, I am perhaps still," she writes, " a victim 
to excessive sensibility, refusing all restraints of reason, 
especially at its crisis." 

In more than one passage in the Histoire de ma vie are 
to be found traces of actual mental disorder. As a girl 
she had hallucinations and had conceived the fancy of an 
imaginary god she called Corambo, whom she adored as an 
actually existing deity, and paid regular worship to on a 
rustic altar. She was possessed for many years with the 
idea of suicide ; I have related above how on one occasion 
she tried to drown herself. Dr Brissaud, Professor in the 
Faculty of Medicine in the University of Paris, who has 
made a special study of mental and nervous diseases, and 
with whom I have discussed the psychical condition of 
George Sand, assured me of the existence in her case of a 
nervous disorder, giving me details I think it better not to 
repeat out of respect for the woman and her genius. 

Alfred de Musset, for all his brilliant talents, did not 
escape a degree of nervous disorder that at times bordered 
close on actual dementia. His Nuit de Décembre leads me 
to believe he suffered from hallucinations and the nervous 
phenomenon known by the name of " duplication of self" : 

"Du temps que j'étais écolier, 
Devant ma table vint s'asseoir 
Un pauvre enfant vêtu de noir, 
Qui me ressemblait comme un frère. . . " l 

Again it would seem to be the result of a fit of intro- 
spection when De Musset wrote : 

" Mais n'est-il pas un heure dans la vie, 
Où le génie humain rencontre la folie?" s 

(La Coupe et tes Lèvres.) 

1 In the days when I was a schoolboy, there came and sat at my desk a 
poor lad clothed in black, who was like me as a brother. ..." If we are to 
believe Dr Moreau of Tours, the same nervous phenomenon would seem to 
have been exhibited in Goethe's case also. He is said one day to have seen 
his own " double " coming to meet him. 

9 " But is there not an hour in life, when human genius is near akin to 
madness ? " 


On more than one occasion during his life the Poet was 
tempted to commit suicide. In La Confession dun enfant 
du siècle ("Confession of a child of the Century "^ he 
relates how he conceived a longing to kill his mistress 
and himself afterwards, and how he concealed a tabic 
knife under the pillow for this purpose. In his Lettre à 
Lamartine he says he twice over put a weapon to his 
naked breast. More than once he wished to kill himself 
along with George Sand. "If you renounce life," he writes 
to her, " remember the oath you swore ; do not die without 
me." In a letter of George Sand's to Dr Pagello, the 
companion of the Poet declares she has fears for Alfred de 
Musset's reason. " Once," she writes, " three months ago, 
he was like a madman all night long, seeing phantoms all 
about him, and at the present moment he is complaining 
of a nameless and causeless malady, and declaring he is on 
the point of death or madness." De Musset was endowed 
with a nervous organization of so fine and feminine a 
delicacy, that it threatened to break down under the 
strain of disappointed love; so impressionable was his nature, 
he declares, that the sight of a woman set him trembling, 
and he suffered from very serious nervous crises. He is so 
well aware of the want of energy that characterizes him 
that he has said himself in his Poems : 

" Mes premiers vers sont d'un enfant, 
Les seconds d'un adolescent, 
Les derniers à peine d'un homme." l 

Less nervously constituted than Alfred de Musset, and 
uniting to the highest lyrical genius much sound sense, 
even in Politics, 2 Lamartine had yet been so impression- 

1 " My first verses area child's, my second a youth's, my last hardly those of 
a man." — De Musset is not the only poet who had this childish nature. The 
character of poets whose imagination and sensibility are not counterbalanced 
by reason, closely resembles the childish character of women of a nenroos 
idiosyncracy. Coppée says of Verlaine that he was a child all his life 
(Preface by Coppée prefixed to the Selected Poems of Verlaine). 

2 Before M. Thiers, Lamartine had pointed out in his Entretiens that 
Italian Unity would lead to German Unity later on, and that this would be 
disastrous to France. 


in his younger days as to have many times turned his 
fhts to suicide. When he was sent to school at 
is, "my impressions were so keen and so unhappy ," 
rites, "that ideas of suicide, a thing I had never 
I spoken of, assailed me strongly. I can remember 
ng whole days and nights pondering by what means 
ild be done with a life I could no longer endure." l 
ays of Raphaël, who is no other than himself, that 
assessed " a sensibility so exquisite it came near being 

the period when Sainte-Beuve was publishing the 
is of Joseph Delorme, Lamartine said of him : " He 
a young man, pale-faced, blond-haired and delicate- 
ng, morbidly excitable, a poet with all a poet's tearful 
tiveness." Sainte-Beuve too had felt the temptation 
icide, — by drowning, like Lamartine and George Sand : 

" En me promenant là, je me suis dit souvent : 
Pour qui veut se noyer la place est bien choisie ; 
On n'aurait qu'à venir un jour de fantaisie, 
À cacher ses habits au pied de ce bouleau, 
Et comme pour un bain, à descendre dans Peau." * 

:tor Hugo was never possessed like the other great 
; of the Nineteenth Century with the idea of self-destruc- 
for all his prodigious imagination, which exaggerated 
rthing and was prejudicial to justness of judgment, 
/as safeguarded against the temptation by the family 
e led and the love he bore his children. Nevertheless, 
ing by an Ode in Book V. of the Odes et Ballades, 
he would seem to have on one occasion conceived 
mrpose of dying after a disappointment in love : 

" Tu m'oublieras dans les plaisirs, 
Je me souviendrai dans la tombe." 3 

imartine, I*s Confidences ', bk. vi. 

Walking there I have often said to myself, for any who wishes to drown 

f the place is well chosen ; he would only have to come some day of 

to hide his clothes at the foot of yonder birch, and as if for a bathe to 

to the stream." 

You will forget me in a life of pleasure, I will remember in the tomb." 


Nor are the celebrated Novelists of the Nineteenth 
Century less sensitive and emotional than the Poets» 
We learn from the entrancing Memoirs of Mme. Octave 
Feuillet how excessively nervous her famous husband 
was. 1 Almost all the heroines delineated in his Romances 
are nervous women. If their story often ends in suicide, 
this is not, as M. Brunetière points out, because suicide 
" is the highest manifestation of human will," but because 
women of a nervous temperament, incapable of bearing 
the pains of disappointed love, kill themselves by a sudden, 
unforeseen impulse that leaves little room for deliberate 
volition at all. In some very rare cases, suicide maybe 
"the highest manifestation of human will," but with 
nervous women it is on the contrary a manifestation of 
weakness of will and of morbid over-excitement of the 
nerves, frequently an unpremeditated, almost automatic, 
act. 2 Moreover, in spite of the decency and elegance of 
style of Octave Feuillet's Novels, I cannot think his fair 
readers' reason is likely to be fortified by the delineation 
of these hare-brained heroines of his who kill themselves 
out of disappointed love. The painter of these fierce and 
desperate passions, who was yet at bottom, like Racine, a 
Christian moralist, lavishes over-much admiration on these 
society ladies with their reckless loves, who hide under an 
aristocratic exterior very vulgar passions. I think it is a 
mistake to call him, as some do, "a Musset for family 
reading " ; he might more appropriately be described as a 
Racine among Novelists. There is the same grace of style, 
the same pictures of passionate womanhood, the same 
tragic catastrophes of crime and suicide. 

Nor are the naturalistic Novelists one whit less nervous, 
as a rule, than the great idealistic author I have just 

1 An ill-natured article by Jules Janin "occasioned a veritable disturbance 
of his health." The temporary failure of his Belle au Bois Dormant ("Sleep- 
ing Beauty") "came near killing him." The sight of Rubens* Descent frm 
the Cross impressed him so deeply it nearly made him fall down from exec» 
of emotion and caused him hallucinations. He used to say the view of a hifft 
mountain seemed to weigh down his brain. 

9 Dr Magnan, Les Dégénérés, p. 144. 


named. Guy de Maupassant said of Flaubert: "Ever 
on the quiver and impressionable to a degree, he used 
to liken himself to a skinless man, through whom the 
slightest touch sent a shudder of pain. . . . Sometimes 
he reached such a state of nervous exasperation he would 
have liked to destroy the whole human race." It is well 
known how excessively nervous the brothers de Goncourt 
and Alphonse Daudet were. "Our work," wrote one of 
the de Goncourt brothers, "and this I suppose is the 
heavy price it has to pay, is based on nervous disease. . . . 
Critics may say what they please, they can never prevent 
my brother and me being the Saint John Baptists of 
modern sensibility {Journal des Goncourt ', vol. vi.). In 
his medico-psychological study on Emile Zola, Dr Toulouse 
writes: "There exists then a certain nervous want of 
balance, an exaggerated susceptibility to emotion, which 
provokes, under the influence of very slight excita- 
tions, altogether disproportionate and painful reactions." 1 
Maxime du Camp has shown us that Flaubert was 
epileptic. The latter's nephew, Guy de Maupassant, who 
made an attempt at suicide, died of general paralysis, 
that is to say a mental disease, and one that must not be 
confounded with forms of paralysis resulting from cerebral 

I do not believe with some physiologists, Dr. Moreau 
(of Tours), Dr. Lombroso, M. Jules Soury, M. Max Nordau, 
Dr. Charles Richet, that genius is a form of nervous 
complaint or of epilepsy. According to them the man of 
genius is a diseased, an abnormal being, an epileptic^ 
•it is very seldom," says M. Richet, "that on studying 
near at hand the life of any large number of superior 
men, we do not find in their mental organization and 
intellectual processes something defective, morbid, patho- 
logical, bringing them into connection with the insane. . . . 
I will never advise a woman to marry the son of a man 
of genius. . . . The great and powerful genius of inventors, 
discoverers, creators and disseminators of original ideas, 

1 Dr Toulouse, Emile Zola, p. 166. 


is not consistent with irreproachable intellectual sound- 
ness. ... In the types of intelligence characterizing the 
insane, we meet with certain psychological peculiarities 
common at once to madmen and men of genius." l M. Jules 
Soury in his treatise on Le système nerveux central ("The 
Central Nervous System"), p. 225, — a work by-the- 
bye more remarkable for erudition than for accurate 
observation, — goes so far as to record this monstrous 
opinion, "everything great that has been done in the 
world, and to speak quite plainly, everything whatever 
worth doing, is the work of these victims of epileptic or 
vesanic degeneracy." No doubt as Dr Magnan* said 
to me, there have been epileptic geniuses, just as there 
have been rheumatic, gouty or tuberculous geniuses. 
But epilepsy never produced the genius. Lunatic asylums 
are crammed with epileptics, but we do not notice men 
of genius amongst them. It is quite true, ill-balanced 
geniuses are to be found, even learned idiots, superior 
degenerates^ such as Dr Magnan has described in his 
Recfierches sur les centres nerveux^ 2nd series, p. 248. These 
"superior degenerates," these ill-balanced geniuses, have 
extraordinary aptitudes, limited to one art, or one science, 
and present immense lacunae no less from the moral 
point of view than from the intellectual. But, if there 
are geniuses rendered morbid by the exaggeration of one 
faculty at the expense of the others, we need only 
remember the great Classical writers, Greek, Latin and 
French, to be assured there do exist healthy, well-balanced 
geniuses too ; we need only think of the most illustrious 
of the learned men who have cultivated Letters and 
Philosophy, of Hippocrates, Aristotle, Leibnitz, Buffon, 
Cuvier, Flourens, J. B. Dumas, Claude Bernard, J. Bertrand, 
Pasteur, — notwithstanding the irritability of the last- 
named, an irritability provoked by the unjust criticism 

1 Preface by M. Charles Richet prefixed to V homme du genie ("The man 
of genius ") by Dr Lombroso. 

3 It was Dr Magnan who at the Congress of Criminal Anthropology held it 
Paris demonstrated by facts the falsity of Lombroso's theory as to the physical 
•characteristics of the Criminal. 


welled against him. At the same time I am compelled 
> recognize that amongst the poets and novelists of the 
fineteenth Century, there are a certain number who have 
lone more by brilliancy of imagination than correctness 
f thought. Solid good sense was not lacking in the 
ase of Lamartine (notwithstanding his extreme sensi- 
veness), Béranger, E. Augier, Ponsard, Jules Sandeau, 
«aprade, Autran, who were not ashamed to belong to 
lie school of good sense, nor is it wanting to many contem- 
orary writers, M.M. Legouvé, Coppée, Sully-Prud'homme, 
lardou, de Bornier, Theuriet, René, Bazin, etc. But, 
seing reason and good taste are not infectious, or are 
luch less so than passion and disordered imagination, I 
m bound to admit that judicious authors exercise less 
ifluence over readers than do writers of passion. 

Without for a moment pretending that the talent of the 
, oet and Novelist is solely and entirely the result of a 
ervous organization, it is an undoubted fact that nervosity 
lays a great part with men of imagination. This physical 
nd moral sensitiveness, which is at any rate one of the 
onditions of their talent, leads them to exaggerate the 
«pressions received, to make too much of the sufferings 
>f life, I will not go so far as to say with Lamartine : 

" La sensibilité fait tout notre génie." l 

Jut I will say that it contributes a great deal to the 
oetical nature and makes poets the specially favoured 
titerpreters of sorrow : 

"... Tout génie est martyr. . . . 
Nos pleurs et notre sang sont Phuile de la lampe 
Que Dieu nous fait porter devant le genre humain." f 

It is a true saying that to tell one's woes is often a con- 
olation ; at the same time a man of inordinate imagina- 
ion and painful sensitiveness will often increase and 

1 '* *Ti$ sensibility makes all our glory." 

* •• . . . Every genius is a martyr. . . . Our tears and our blood are the 
J of the lamp that God gives us to carry in front of the human race."' 
amartine, Prtmiirts méditations, bk. xxx. 


•embitter his pain by the same means. Poets, Novelists 
and Artists in general complain very bitterly of the 
miseries of life, because they feel them more deeply 
than other people on account of their sensitiveness. In 
the Official Report of the suicide of a poet that occurred 
some four years ago, I find the following evidence given 
by a neighbour: "He always appeared to me to be very 
highly strung ; he used often to talk to me in an animated 
strain of the miseries of life ; but I merely looked upon 
his laments as the expression of a poetical spirit Possess- 
ing senses more delicate than other men, being more 
sensitive, more imaginative, more impressionable, poets» 
artists, suffer much more keenly; this sensibility, which 
is one of the conditions of their talent, is the torment of 
their life unless they know how to moderate it by the help 
of judgment Besides, yielding naturally to the pleasure 
of developing exclusively the faculty that is the cause 
of their superiority, they lose the proper equilibrium and 
harmony of the faculties. But directly a faculty becomes 
unduly exaggerated, it produces irritability and nervous 
troubles. "Whatever is excessive, is faulty," Lamartine 
says with remarkable scientific precision ; " whatever is 
not harmony, is disorder in our organization. ... If there 
existed equality, equilibrium, harmony among all their 
faculties, if sensitiveness were counterbalanced by reason, 
imagination by judgment, enthusiasm by good sense . . . 
these men strong and able in a single faculty would 
become strong in all, and their special superiority, which 
now constitutes their misfortune, would be changed into 
a universal superiority that would make the glory of 
humanity." 1 

There is in every man, and still more in every woman, 
a tendency to self-pity, to an inclination to accuse fortune 
of cruelty, to curse life, — which is indeed often exceedingly 
hard. Religion and spiritualistic Philosophy, schools of 
good sense as they are, preach resignation. " Blessed are 
those who suffer," they repeat, " for one day they shall be 

1 Lamartine, Entretien, xcii. , on Tasso. 


:onsoled." But young men and women, who neglect 
religious consolations, to feed on poetry and romance of 
1 melancholy type, quickly lose the faculty of resignation. 
These poems and tales flatter what Plato calls " the part 
of our soul, thirsty for tears and lamentations, that would 
Tain surfeit itself with these." x This tearful part of our 
loul must be kept in check and not suffered to contemplate 
for too long the tears and lamentations of the poets, for 
w the sentiments of others infallibly become our own, and 
often encouraging and fortifying our sensibility with the 
sight of other men's sufferings, it is very difficult to 
moderate them in the case of our own." The melancholy 
poetry of the Nineteenth Century has killed resignation 
and largely increased the number of suicides. The best 
means whereby to moderate our griefs is not to heed 
them overmuch, to get out of ourselves, to try and think 
of something else, to avoid becoming absorbed in con- 
templation of the sad side of life and the reading of 
pessimistic poets who, as a matter of fact, while affecting 
in their writings a sombre despair, by no means despise 
the pleasures of life, like that gay pessimist Schopenhauer. 
Maladies of imagination and sensibility being essentially 
infectious, it is obvious that young men and women, already 
so impressionable naturally, will become still more nervous 
when brought into contact with writers having an excess 
of these very qualities and constitutionally predisposed to 
neuropathic troubles. It is impossible to compose a book 
of History, Philosophy, Ethics, Literary Criticism, without 
a healthy judgment. But what is impossible to a Historian, 
Philosopher, Moralist or Critic, is possible for a Poet and a 
Novelist. Imagination and sensibility may be very highly 
developed while the judgment is exceedingly feeble, and 
inasmuch as imagination and sensibility are what Poet 
and Novelist need above all else, they may preserve their 
talent unimpaired, even when their reason has gone astray. 
In their case reason may falter without their talent being 
lessened. To name dead authors only, Tasso, Rousseau, 

1 Plato, De Republican bk. x. 


Edgar Allan Poe, Gérard de Nerval, Maupassant, have 
been noteworthy writers, when they were all the time 
sufferers from cerebral disorders. Atrophy of the reasoning 
faculties does not hinder a Poet's or Novelist's play of fancy 
or their keen sensibility, or prevent them from strongly 
impressing their readers by the exercise of these faculties. 
We may even go further, and say that with some writers 
the fancy seems to gain added vigour in proportion as the 
judgment weakens. In Rousseau's Confessions, in his 
Dialogues, in the Rêveries d'un promeneur solitaire, we 
find pages of entrancing charm side by side with others 
giving clear evidence of the author's mind being affected 
by the " mania of persecution." " There is no doubt the 
mental equilibrium of de Nerval," writes Théophile Gautier, 
" had long been disturbed, before any of us were aware of 
the fact. It was the more difficult to guess, as never was 
style more clear and limpid, in one word more reasonable, 
than that of Gérard. Even when disease had incontestably 
attacked his brain, he still preserved intact all the high 
qualities of his intellect. No fault, no error, no blunder 
betrayed the disorder of his mental faculties. To the 
last he remained impeccable. He was thus long able 
to hide a condition no one thought of suspecting. Dark 
sayings now and again would make us open our eyes in 
wonder, but these he would explain in a fashion so in- 
genious, learned and profound, that our admiration of his 
genius was only increased." Just as fever will give a 
keener vividness to the glance, a diseased nervous system 
gives increased brilliancy to the imagination and sensibility 
of the Novelist and enables him to exercise a more lively 
influence over his readers who are dazzled and stirred by 
his flights of fancy. 

Seeing then how in Novelist and Poet talent may be 
allied with nervous disease or even mental aberration, 1 

1 Among musicians nervous and cerebral troubles are even more fréquent, 
because their talent has an even more sensuous origin. Schumann vtt 
attacked by lypemania (melancholy madness) and attempted suicide ; Pfcguiai 
died of general paralysis. Chopin was morbidly nervous. I myself knew 
personally the specialist in mental disease who attended Gounod. 


we may readily understand how dangerous the reading of 
works of imagination, when it becomes exclusive, is for 
young people and women who read nothing else; the 
inordinate, sometimes morbid, sensibility of the Writer is 
communicated to his readers. For an educated man, 
who is acquainted with maladies of the mind, the morbid 
character of neuropathic Authors is obvious in their works ; 
but youthful readers fail to notice this and readily fall 
under its pernicious influence, for it is through imagina- 
tion and sensibility that literature acts upon them. A 
tiigh-wrought writer works them to the same pitch of 
exaltation as himself. A fiery imagination fires them in 
turn. An emotional sensitiveness stirs the same emotions 
in them and inflames their fancy. Whence comes the pro- 
digious influence Jean Jacques Rousseau has exerted over 
tiis innumerable host of readers, if not from the passion- 
ate character of his writings ? "I could never write," he 
declared himself, " except by virtue of passion." Wisdom 
bores the majority of mankind, and good sense sends 
them to sleep, while paradox and passion enchant them. 
Under the influence of Rousseau and his disciples 
Literature has become passionate. With a large number of 
Romance-writers and Poets, to think is to feel, to write is 
to note down sensations ; like Byron's Manfred, they think 
to enlarge the domain of their intellect by increasing the 
rage of their sensations, declaring with him, "a new 
sensation is revealed to me, it has enlarged the domain 
of my thoughts." George Sand, copying Manfred, makes 
Lélia say, " I was ever increasing my powers from day to 
day, and heightening my sensibility beyond measure." 
In the Seventeenth and even in the Eighteenth Century, 
writers formed collections of thoughts, maxims, reflec- 
tions ; Pascal composed his Pensées, La Rochefoucauld his 
Maximes, La Bruyère his Caractères, Vauvenargues his 
Réflexions et Maximes, Duclos his Considérations sur les 
mœurs. Nowadays it is collections of sensations that 
are published. Novels, poems are but analyses of sensa- 
tions ; meditations are quite out of fashion. With the 

2 c 


one exception of M. Sully-Prud'homme, who composes 
philosophical poems, thinkers are rarœ aves among Poets. 
Works of literary Criticism, books of Travel and even of 
History, are nothing now but books of impressions, sensa- 
tions. Thus we find such titles as Idées et Sensations by 
the brothers de Goncourt, Sensations d histoire by Barbey 
d'Aurevilly, Sensations d'Oxford, Sensations d'Italie by 
P. Bourget, Sensations de littérature et d'art by Byvanck. 
A critic, who nevertheless possesses the gift of moral per- 
spicacity and might well carry on the tradition of our 
great Moralists, M. Jules Lemaître, yielding to the fashion 
of the day, gives us his Impressions de Théâtre. It seems 
as though the part of the Writer is no longer to set men 
thinking but feeling. It is no longer to reason he addresses 
himself, but to the senses and imagination. Sensation 
takes the place of sentiment, and fancy of reason. Litera- 
ture becomes painting, music, photography. "I would 
have described Sodom very willingly and the Tower of 
Babel with enthusiasm," says Théophile Gautier. " I am 
not working for the " prix Montyon " of virtue, and my 
brain performs to the best of its ability its function of 
41 dark room." * Novelists and Poets are ready to describe 
all sensations, and particularly those of physical, love 
and smell ! 

Succeeding impressionist literature, we have impressionist 
painting, not to mention impressionist justice among juries 
and impressionist politics among deputies. The sensations 
of a juryman have been written already, and there is 
nothing to prevent the sensations of a deputy being issued 
before long, for just as the modern jury bases its verdict 
on the impressions of the trial, the Chamber keeps Ministers 
in office or turns them out according to the impressions of 
the sitting. Authors, painters, jurymen and deputies, all 
blindly follow their impressions without ever checking them 
by reason. Paris has grown as impressionable and hyper- 
sensitive as a nervous woman. With many people who 
call themselves Christians, religious sentiment itself is 

1 TA. Gautier, by E. Bergerat. 


only a craving for religious emotion, and even some 
formal apologies for Christianity consist rather of a series 
of aesthetic and mystical impressions than of arguments 
and reasons. 

To augment their sensibility, we see writers resort to 
drink as a stimulant. This method had already been tried 
in Antiquity. " The poet iEschylus," Plutarch says, " used 
to compose his tragedies by the help of drink, when he 
was sufficiently warmed with wine. And Lampias our 
grandfather always showed himself more eloquent, incisive 
and fertile in invention after drinking." * To excite their 
faculties, novel writers and poets of our own day have 
had recourse not to wine only, but to alcohol, absinthe, 
opium or hashish. Hoffman had hallucinations, which he 
systematically provoked by stimulants, and which helped 
him to write his Contes fantastiques, " His poetry was a 
disease," Heine said of him ; and Heine himself was a 
neuropathic subject and suffered from locomotor ataxy. 
Edgar Allan Poe used to drink to rouse his imagination, 
and arrive at the visions and hallucinations he turned to 
account in writing his Tales of Mystery. He was picked 
up in the street suffering from delirium tremens, and carried 
to a hospital, where he died. Baudelaire who took him 
as his model and translated some of his works, sought 
inspiration in opium and hashish, and died of general 
paralysis. In 1845, the "Club of Hashish-eaters" ("Le 
Club des Haschidins") was founded in Paris, frequented 
by literary men in search of hallucinations. Dr. Maurice de 
Fleury, who knew Guy de Maupassant personally, tells us 
that the famous Novelist in question had for years given 
himself up to the abuse of artificial stimulants of thought, 
whereas he of all men ought to have refrained from such 
things, having several insane persons among his ancestors 
in the direct line. 2 The Doctor having complimented him 
on the talent he had displayed in the delineation of 

1 Plutarch, Table-Talk. 

9 Maurice de Fleury, Introduction à la médecine de r esprit, p. 138. F. Alcan, 


jealousy in his Novel of Pierre et Jean, the Author 
informed him he had not written a single line of it without 
first intoxicating himself with ether. Maupassant has 
utilized his hallucinations of hearing in Sur teau % and 
those of sight in Horla. 

Needless to say it is not enough to drink coffee, alcohol 
and ether to have talent. But in the composition of such 
works as demand only imagination and sensibility, the 
temptation is great to resort to artificial stimulants to 
obtain a further accession of these qualities. 

No doubt such habits of artificial stimulation are far 
from general, but they are less uncommon than is generally 
supposed. Moreover we find Novelists cultivating their 
passions for purposes of analysis, and even encouraging 
their nervous disorders as subjects for observation. A 
distinguished writer, M. M. Barrés, proposes to borrow 
from the bolder resources of treatment and medicine " fresh 
means of developing and intensifying sensibility, in order 
to arrive at the consummate adoration of ego ! " And 
what he fears is to reach the final limit of the sensations 
he is capable of and so remain far from God, who is for 
him " the sum-total of self-conscious emotions." x 

It is not to be wondered at, if in the school of these Writers, 
who number their readers by tens of thousands, reason is 
far from being at a premium. 2 In authors possessed of 
remarkable gifts of imagination and sensibility, the judg- 
ment is so weak that, while some believe in spiritualism 
and table-turning, others consult somnambulists and pro- 
fessors of palmistry ; there are some who do not believe 
in God, but do believe in the Devil ; dupes of their own 
imaginations, as credulous as children and uneducated 
women, many see presages of luck or disaster in the most 
insignificant things. Théophile Gautier, for instance, relates 
how Gérard de Nerval was entirely upset by the sight of a 

1 M. Barrés, L homme libre , pp. 54, 157. 

2 Specialists in mental disease even hold that novel reading may produce 
melancholic delirium in women by helping to sow disorder in their imaginations 
and disturbing their mental and emotional faculties. {Nouveau DùtiûMtoàn 
de Médecine of Jaccond, under Lypêmanie (Melancholy Madness). 


black beetle resembling those Egyptian scarabaei that 
carry the globe on their head, and there are many similar 

It is perilous to take as guides ill-balanced intellects, 
lacking in solid judgment, to prefer fiction to history, 
decadent literature to philosophy and science. 1 The 
thinker, the man of science, does not seek to find in 
artificial stimulants an accession of acumen. Neither 
coffee, nor alcohol, nor opium helped M. Guizot to write 
the Histoire de la civilisation, or M. Thiers to compose the 
Histoire du consulat et de F empire. Their talent is based 
on excellent good sense and perfected reason, enlightened 
by a ripe experience of men and things. 

I have frequently discovered in the documents left 
behind them by suicides from disappointed love traces 
of literary reminiscence, bearing witness to the constant 
perusal of poetry and novels calculated to stimulate the 
imagination. For instance, in a letter I copy from an 
Official Report relating to the suicide of a lady's-maid, we 
read : " Best beloved, before I knew you, my youth was 
like a dead woman, buried in a deep coffin, nailed down 
by the weight of my sorrows ; it was your love woke it 
and raised it from the tomb. Oh! youth mine, I had 
buried you but ill." These lyric accents, which one is 
rather surprised to find flowing from the pen of a lady's- 
maid, show plainly that the poor girl's head had been 
turned by reading Musset and Murget, whose books had 
intoxicated her imagination ; her suicide is a piece of 
literary imitation no less than her style. 

What romantic, high-flown dreams, that end so ill, are 
stirred in poor girls of the working class by these novels, 
newspaper stories and poems, repeating on every page those 
entrancing words, — love, intoxication, passion, pleasure, 

1 A certain proportion of decadent writers display the phenomena of 
"colour hearing "and "auditive tasting," that is to say, sounds give them 
sensations of colour, and sensations of taste make them hear sounds. The 
decadents consider that the French language has been framed by writers of too 
hen 1 thy a habit of body and that it needs to be remodelled by neuropathic 


delight ! To be the object of a young man's affection, a 
young man elegant and high-born like a hero of romance, 
becomes the longing of novel-reading workgirls as much 
as it is of society young ladies. Their thoughts turn away 
from the working-man who might marry them, because of 
his dirty clothes, his horny hands and his face blackened 
by the grime and coal dust of the factory. Novels create 
in these poor girls a romantic, nonsensical state of mind 
that is their undoing, for they never say anything of 
the beauty of family life, of household joys, and the 
happiness of working together for a common end ; instead 
of throwing a halo of poetry over the poor and toiling folk 
of humble life, writers (excepting Coppée and René Bazin) 
prefer to idealize the follies of idle libertines of the great 
world. Seduction and suicide are the end of these silly 
dreams of love and luxury and pleasure. 

If the number of suicides has so largely increased as it 
has in the last hundred years, this is in great part due to 
the fact that the number of novel-readers has been much 
augmented. In former days Novelists wrote for a small 
number of readers. Now Novels circulate everywhere, in 
the work-room as much as in the drawing-room, in the 
garret no less than in the boudoir. I have quite lately 
read in the Official Report of a case of suicide how an old 
woman wishing to leave a remembrance to a neighbour, 
made her a present, before proceeding to kill herself by 
means of charcoal fumes, of a big bundle of newspaper 
novels for her daughter. A fine present truly ! I heard 
the other day a peasant woman say to her husband, who 
was going to the market town, "Bring me back Crime 
d'amour " (" A Crime of Love "). To read her feuilleton 
the cook lets the joint burn, the lady's-maid neglects her 
ironing, the housewife forgets her duties. Year by year, 
and month by month, we see hundreds, thousands of new 
Novels published, while the old ones are re-edited. No 
Newspaper is without its feuilleton, no Review but has its 
Serial, and God knows there are enough Newspapers and 
Reviews. The feuilleton is what makes the success of the 


paper, and the Serial Story that sells the Review. There 
are even some Newspapers and Reviews that publish 
several feuilletons and several Serials running concurrently. 

It is a well-known fact that suicide is much more un- 
common in the country than in towns. One cause of this 
difference arises from the circumstance that country women 
read few Novels, while women in the large towns read a 
great many. In a Report addressed to the Minister of the 
Interior, the Préfet of the Department du Léman states 
that in 1812 "melancholia is much more common at 
Geneva than anywhere else n in Switzerland, and assigns 
as the chief cause of this the excessive reading of romances 
which Jean Jacques Rousseau had brought into fashion. 1 
Refusing to work for the Montyon prize of virtue, modern 
Novelists are working for the Morgue. In their eagerness 
to find subjects for picturesque description everywhere, 
they have written up and embellished everything, adultery, 
profligacy, drunkenness, low life, seduction, suicide, crime 
and amorous passion ; everything has been idealized and 
made to look poetical, — except good health, hard work, 
conjugal love and family affection. 

While admitting that Werther had been the determining 
cause of a great number of suicides, Goethe maintained it 
was not right to make the writer responsible " because one 
of his works, misunderstood by narrow intellects, has, 
when the worst is said, purged the world of a dozen or 
so fools and rascals, incapable of anything better than ex- 
tinguishing altogether the feeble remains of their wretched 
light." 2 This Olympian scorn for the readers of Werther 
who have put an end to themselves seems to me far from 
being a satisfactory or sufficient answer. In the first place, 
suicide is not always a mark of folly and weak-mindedness, 
seeing that Chateaubriand, Lamartine, George Sand and 
Goethe himself, all made attempts at suicide. Besides, if 
it were permitted to Writers to purge the world of narrow 
intellects and extinguish the light of life in scantily 

1 La folic de J, J, Rousseau, by Dr Châtelain, p. 151. 
* Entretien de Goethe et <f Eckermann, p. 267. 


illuminated minds, great heavens ! what hecatombs of 
sacrifice should we be authorizing! 

To escape the responsibility of his book and its fatal 
effects, Goethe said on another occasion to Lord Bristol, 
who had vividly reproached him with the latter : rt If you 
speak so of poor Werther, what tone will you adopt 
towards those great men who, by a stroke of the pen, send 
a hundred thousand men into the field, eighty thousand 
of whom will cut each other's throats and mutually excite 
each other to murder, fire and pillage? " Without denying 
the responsibility of fighting men, how can anyone com- 
pare with the glorious deaths of soldiers defending country 
and flag these aimless and useless suicides of a set of 
young lovers with sore hearts? 

M. Paul Bourget, who to begin with, threw doubt on 
the influence exercised by Literature, on conduct, took 
a juster view of an Author's responsibilities after the 

occurrence of the double suicide of C and Mme. 

G , of which I have spoken above, and has shown 

clearly the evil books may do to young people, in his 
admirable Novel Le Disciple, which is nothing else than 

the history of the C in question. This responsibility 

of the Writer is affirmed in his later Novels with a pro- 
found conviction and an anxiety for the future of the 
rising generation that prove how startled he was by the 
share of responsibility falling upon Literature in the crime 
of passion committed by the student of Constantino 
" These great Writers you envy," he makes the Abbé 
Taconnet say in Mensonges, "do you ever think of 
the tragic responsibility they have assumed in sowing 
broadcast their own individual wretchedness? ... Do 
you suppose that in the pistol shot René has just fired at 
himself, there was not something of influence emanating 
from those two apologies of suicides, — Werther and Rollat 
Do you know, it is a terrible thing to think how Goethe 
is dead, Musset is dead, and yet their work is still able 
to put a lethal weapon in the hand of a suffering child." 
Yes! the Writer's responsibility has no limits in time 


»ace. It is not merely in his lifetime that he acts upon 
eaders' minds ; his influence survives him, defunctus 
tur y — " though dead, he speaks." Nor does it make 
felt only in his own immediate neighbourhood, it 
nds far and wide through the most distant lands. 
1 the facility of intercommunication we now possess, 

the multiplication of libraries and reading-rooms, 

innumerable Reviews and half-penny Papers appear- 
continually, and all publishing one, if not more, 
Utons, literary sophistries penetrate to all and sundry, 
îe remotest depths of the country, to the ends of the 
1, with astonishing rapidity. 

I might be allowed to add a few words of advice to 
t given by the author of Le Disciple to young people, 
uld tell them : " Literary activity, divorced from action, 

become a danger, if it is badly directed, if reading is 
ued without method and devoted mainly to books 
ulating sensibility and imagination, which are often 
gulated at your age. Reason and will power are 
: you should develop above everything in your- 
îs, and to that end beware of unhealthy Literature. 
>u wish to keep a straightforward mind and a sound 
t, do not indulge in too much reading of Novels and 
ctions of poetry, very often written by badly balanced 
is. Avoid physiological naturalism and mystical 
ralists, the combination of dreamy reverie with 
aal longings, and sceptical idealism ; love good sense, 
y of mind, equilibrium of the faculties, and to attain 
î go back to the great writers of the Seventeenth 
ury, those healthy and robust intellects of an earlier 

> back to the Ancient authors. All you know of 
1 at present is in translations of a few isolated and 
lated passages, the memory of which, associated as 
with your school lessons, is not over and above 
eable. Read as a whole jEschylus, Sophocles, 
pides, Plato, Xenophon, Aristotle and Plutarch in 
/ot's exquisite version. Read again Virgil, Lucretius, 


Horace, Cicero, Seneca, Tacitus, with the commentaries 
of MM. Boissier, Patin, Gréard, Berger, Nisard, Martha, 
and you will be surprised at the pleasure and profit you 
will derive from the task. If as the result of some 
disappointment in love, the idea of suicide crosses your 
mind, remember how a woman, George Sand, cured 
herself of the temptation to suicide that possessed her 
by a perusal of the Greek and Latin Classics. 

Love the Poets, but those only who have given more 
heed to loftiness and correctness of thought than to 
sonority of words and splendour of imagery ; prefer gold 
to tinsel. Reject erotic and mystic verse; prefer that 
which elevates the soul, philosophical and religious 
poetry. Never forget that the greatest poets of France 
are still those of the Seventeenth Century, Corneille, Racine, 
Molière and La Fontaine ; read them, re-read them, they 
are never wearisome. But do not read without due pre- 
caution the pessimistic poets and novelists of the Nineteenth 
Century, who endowed with an abnormal sensitiveness and 
a morbid imagination, feel too vividly the sadness and 
sorrows of life and express their dismal convictions with 
a heart-rending emphasis that kills all proper resignation. 
To read their despairing outcries makes life a vale of tears. 
To enjoy life, or at worst to endure it, a literature that 
inspires hope and courage is indispensable. 

Do not despise the Moralists. I know they are not 
generally appreciated at your age, and are reserved to 
be read in old age. But never be frightened at their 
grave title of Moralists ; you will find their works full of 
charm, you will not experience a single instant of weariness 
with Montaigne, Pascal, La Bruyère, La Rochefoucauld, 
Vauvenargues, Joubert Montaigne is as delightful as 
Plutarch, Pascal is heart-stirring, La Bruyère entrancing, 
Joubert charming. Among contemporaries, you have 
literary critics, who are at bottom moralists full of wit 
and good sense, D. Nisard, Saint-Marc Girardin, Bersot, 
that tender heart and character of antique mould, Caro so 
odiously vilified, Jules Lemaître, Brunetière. 


Read also the Historians, who are almost all men of 
weighty and judicious intellect. What marvellously 
balanced geniuses, — Tacitus, Bossuet, Montesquieu ! His- 
tory possesses the merit of taking us out of ourselves, 
making us forget our private griefs, carrying us into the 
mighty past, interesting us in the sufferings and the 
advances of humanity. 

In the society of these chosen spirits you will run no 
risk of catching the "disease of the century"; you will 
find them a tonic to reason and will. They too have 
known sadness in its nobler aspects ; they too have felt 
pity for the sufferings of humanity and above all for its 
moral infirmities ; they too, in spite of their religious faith 
or philosophic creed, were terrified by the awful mysteries 
of life. What weight have the declamatory outcries of 
Werther and René, tormented as they were by sexual 
craving, beside the melancholy utterances of Pascal and 
Jouffroy ? Who has felt tenderer pity for the sufferers of 
the lonely and poor than Racine and Fénélon, who ex- 
posed themselves to disgrace in order to draw Louis XIV.'s 
attention to them? Who has had more compassion for 
animals than La Fontaine, and who has better appreciated 
the charm of solitude ? These great men, being men of 
sense, did not rise in revolt against God, because He has 
made life so short and so full of wretchedness. If they 
had love disappointments, they did not turn their thoughts 
to suicide, like those melancholy, love-sick beings who blow 
out their brains when they fail to seduce their friend's wife ; 
they realized there are sufferings more noble and more 
poignant than any due to a woman's indifference or the 
unsatisfied cravings of passion : 

" Les beaux chagrins que les chagrins d'amour, 
Nous passons tous par là, c'est l'affaire d'un jour." l 

Do not take too seriously the melancholy of our modern 
poets and novelists ; often it is more literary than real, the 

1 "Oh ! a fine sorrow truly, — disappointed love ! Why, we all go through 
it ; 'tis the affair of a day." Victor Hugo, Ruy-Blas. 


origin of their despair is sometimes only a check in love 
or a wound to their self-conceit. Nothing is nobler than the 
melancholy of a thinker, a Lamartine, an Alfred de Vigny, 
a Sully-Prud'homme ; but the melancholy and despair of 
a poet tricked by his mistress have less dignity. Besides, 
great griefs are dumb, they do not flaunt themselves before 
the public. Remember this, many of these melancholy 
poets, who pose so romantically and urge other men 
to suicide, were jolly fellows really, who left all their 
melancholy behind in their books ; remember their 
misanthropy did not include women and that while 
they hated them in verse, they loved them particularly 
well in everyday life. 1 At the very time when simple- 
minded readers of Werther were blowing their silly brains 
out, Goethe was consoling himself for a first love dis- 
appointment by giving his heart successively to Frederika, 
Lili Schoenemann, Christina Vulpius, Minna Herzlieb. 
Never forget that the prophets of suicide are often 
afraid of death, just as those poets who are most 
bellicose in their verses are often the most peaceable 
of men in their lives. 2 Writers themselves are the first 
to make fun of readers who copy literally the characters in 
their novels and kill themselves by way of imitation. If 
melancholy seems poetical to you, go and visit in the 
asylums the unhappy patients who have lost their reason 
as the result of disappointed love and have attempted to 
kill themselves, to escape the sorrows of life ; you will see 
that gloomy melancholy is a veritable mental disease, a form 
of deterioration with nothing poetical about it, that good 
spirits, or at any rate equable spirits, are marks of energy 

1 This is precisely what Sophocles said long ago of Euripides in somewhat 
coarse terms, which the reader will find, if he wishes, in Bayle's Dictionary* 
article "Euripides." 

a A friend of Béranger tells us that the poet, who sang the Great Napoleon's 
Wars and deemed the Bourbons too peacefully inclined, had escaped military 
service by deceiving the authorities as to his age, thanks to a very precocious 
degree of baldness ( Vie de Béranger, by Paul Boit eau, p. 38). Dumas pert, 
who assigns to Antony a look of fate, an eye of gloom, a diction of despair, 
had nothing whatever fateful, gloomy or despairing either in his person or his 
way of life. 


and conditions of health no less for the mind than for 
the body. 

In fact, follow the advice Rene's sister used to give 
him : a Seek something to do. . . . Perhaps you will find 
in marriage the consolation of your griefs. A wife and 
children will fill your days." 

To accurately determine the degree of responsibility 
resting upon Literature in connection with the frequency 
of suicide, I must now answer an objection I foresee will 
be made. All those who read Novels, Poems and Plays 
glorifying suicide, do not kill themselves ; therefore I shall 
be told it is evident such reading cannot determine suicide 
by way of imitation. No doubt literary suicide is not 
determined solely by imitation of books ; over and above 
this the reader must have a physiological predisposition 
in that direction. Deeply convinced as I am of the 
existence of Free Will, for reasons I cannot well state at 
length here, 1 I believe none the less in a very considerable 
influence being exerted by temperament. All who suffer 
unhappiness, who have to mourn broken hopes and 
ambitions, or grieve for disappointed love, do not resort to 
self-destruction. Wretchedness, disillusion, disappointment 
are not enough by themselves to bring about a voluntary 
death; besides all this, there must be a temperament of 
a nature that these motives can act upon. Except in 
cases of actual insanity, a physiological predisposition, 
apart from any external cause, is not enough by itself 
to determine suicide ; and an external cause without a 
predisposing temperament is equally insufficient to lead 
to such a catastrophe. It is the combination of an ex- 
ternal motive, wretchedness, jealousy, or what not, and 
a physiological predisposition, that brings about a fatal 
result. The same thing is true of physical maladies. All 
who are attacked by the same microbes do not die ; some 
resist the infection, while others succumb. The microbes 
kill only those whose organism cannot struggle against 
them successfully : yet no one will say microbes are harm- 

1 I have pointed them out in my book Le Crime et la Peine. 


less, because some organisms have made a victorious 
resistance to their attacks. Similarly some minds, mort 
sensible than others, resist the perusal of Wertfur % of René, 
of the Plays and Novels that defend suicide ; but we cannot 
therefore declare these books to be innocuous. I believe 
I have proved by incontestable evidence that they have 
actually determined, among readers predisposed to succumb 
to their teaching, no small number of self-sought deaths. 



"Songeons à cette épouvautable communication de crimes qui 
existe entre les hommes, complicité, conseil, exemple, approbation, 
mots terribles qu'il faudrait méditer sans cesse. ... Où sont les 
bornes de la responsabilité ? " l — T. de Maistre. 

(Soirées de Saint-Pétersbourg, 3* édition.) 

WHEN in 1848 scenes of Revolution were being re- 
enacted in Paris, a Historian, looking on at a parody 
of a Revolutionary procession defiling past, exclaimed : 
44 Look ! my History of the Great Revolution passing 
before my eyes." Investigating as a Magistrate the 
motives of crimes of passion, I have in the same way 
frequently had occasion to observe how these crimes are 
imitations of Romances, nothing more nor less in fact than 
Literature in action. 

In August 1 88 1, the Assize Court of the Seine ad- 
judicated on the case of a young man, Bernard by name, 

whose mother was " concierge " to M. L , a member of 

the French Academy ; the individual in question, whose 
head was turned by Novel reading, had tried to penetrate 
at night into the room of Mile. D , his master's grand- 
daughter, to kiss her in her sleep. The girl's mother, who 
slept in the next room, awakened by the sound of his 
steps, got up, and was stabbed by Bernard with a knife in 
several places. 

The questions of the Juge dinstruction elicited the 
fact that the young man was in the habit of lying in bed 

] " Only think of the appalling intercommunication of crimes existing between 
man and man, — complicity, advice, example^ approbation^ terrible words we 
should never cease to ponder over. . . . Where are the limits of responsi- 



part of the day reading Novels, accounts of crimes ar*</ 
famous trials. In his room were found the Idiot, the 
Péché dune Vierge, the Assassinat dune fille, the Crime dt 
la Comtesse, the collected numbers of the Tribunal illustré, 
besides poems entitled Visions, Peines de cœur, Renaissance 
de r amour. 1 Questioned about his favourite reading, he 
said he was very fond of love stories. It was shown that 
he had a great repugnance for manual labour of all kinds, 
and that when he was not reading Novels, he would do 
nothing but talk about the stage, actresses and so forth, 

or enlarge on the love he felt for Mlle. D . During 

the preceding year he had stolen a petticoat belonging 
to the child and had carried it with him to his sleeping 

room. Bernard was not recognized by Mme. D at the 

moment of his attempt, but was driven subsequently to 
confess his guilt, which however he tried to account for 
by saying he had done what he had in a fit of somnambul- 
ism, urged on by an irresistible impulse. This statement 
was found to be untrue ; he had never been a somnambulist, 
though he described exactly the phenomena of sleep- 
walking. " I had read all about it in my books," he told 
Dr. Lassègue, who examined him and found him to possess 
a highly nervous temperament, an intellect at once subtle 
and exceedingly weak, and a morbidly excitable imagina- 
tion. It is on suchlike nervous temperaments, combining 
a too excitable imagination with weak powers of mind, 
that romantic books make a deep impression. And many 
children and many young people display this type of 
physical and moral organization. 

In 1886 the Assize Court of the Pas-de-Calais had to 
deal with two young men, belonging to a well-to-do 
peasant family of that Department, Henri and Clément 
Muchembled by name. His imagination fired by romantic 
reading, Clément fell violently in love with a girl of the 
neighbourhood of his own age. Having quarrelled with 
her, he made up his mind to punish her and took his 

1 The Idiot, A Maiden's Sin, A Courtesan's Murder, The Countess's Crime, 
Illustrated Police News, Visions, Pançs of the Heart, Renaissante 0/ Love. 


cousin Henri into his confidence. The two youths, who 

had read a great many novels and used to call each other 

fcy the names of Flying Stag and Great Serpent, borrowed 

from Fennimore Cooper's stories, determined to murder the 

girl and then start for America, the land of The Last of the 

JHohicans. They bought big knives, which they wore for 

several days in leather sheaths, very proud, they declared, 

at feeling themselves armed. Surprising the poor girl in 

a wood, they stabbed her with their knives in seventeen 


Examination brought out the fact that before starting 
for the ambuscade they had prepared, the lads had drawn 
up under the title of A Terrible Drama an account of the 
crime they were about to commit ; in it they described 
themselves as victims to melancholy, weary of life and 
disgusted with the world, and after recounting the girl's 
murder, they proceeded to describe their own suicide. 

In July 1881, the Assize Court of the Department of 
the Seine had before it a youth named Lemaître, fifteen 
years of age, who had murdered a little boy of six. He 
had taken him up into his bedroom, tied his hands behind 
his back, thrown him full length on the bed, then cut his 
throat and opened his abdomen. At first blush this crime 
seems the act of a madman ; but Drs. Motet and Legrand 
du Saulle, who examined the youthful criminal, found no 
symptoms of mental derangement. Dr. Legrand du Saulle 
protested in his report against " the sort of literature that 
familiarizes the public with Crime and raises a kind of 
pedestal for those who appear before the Criminal Courts." 
The lad Lemaître had devoured this species of literature ; 
of good abilities he had attracted notice at the Communal 
School by his quickness, but also by his conceit. He used 
to keep himself apart from his schoolfellows during play- 
time, and at night was for ever reading in his own room 
novels and dramas of the Criminal Courts. On leaving 
school, he ran loose in the streets and in places of ill 
repute ; placed in various employments, he robbed his 
masters to buy novels and theatre tickets. The Judge 

2 D 


having asked him how he spent his days, he replied: "I 
used to read a great deal, lying on my bed ; I went to the 
theatre, where I saw the Chevaliers du Brouillard played 
My afternoons I used to spend in the Jardin des Plantes, 
taking a book with me there, the Dame de Montsoreau or 
the Orphelins du Pont-Notre-Dame!' l The Judge : " What 
theatre used you to frequent? — The Prisoner: "I took 
stalls at the Opéra Comique, the Ambigu or the ChAtikt. 
I used always to choose the best seats." 

When in prison, he asked " whether the Papers spoke 
of him and if his photograph was on sale the same as 
Menesclou's was." On his trial, he struck a theatrical 
attitude, describing his crime without a trace of emotion, 
unmoved and looking the spectators quietly in the face. 
He said a Somnambulist had prophesied he would be 

Penitent criminals very often confess that their fall was 

due to bad books. A certain A , son of a Captain in 

the Custom-house service, who was condemned to death 
for murder, said : " I want to tell young men the causa 
that have undone me, to make them see how, going from 
bad to worse, I have come at last to the foot of the 
scaffold. . . . Youthful profligates, believe a dying man; 
I began like you by being merely a loose liver, but from 
sin to sin I have become a murderer. Bad books have 
been my ruin." Not a Governor or Chaplain of a gaol, 
not a Magistrate, but has received similar avowals. 

"It is the reading of novels more than anything else 
that has brought me here," said the youth Ronat, who 
murdered the forewoman at his place of employment. . . . 
I had been warned of the harm these books might do 
me, but I did not believe a word of it ; yet this was the 
beginning of all my ruin. They made me see life as 
something quite different to the reality ; I indulged in 
altogether impossible fancies." 

Lachaud who defended the murderer Tropmann, said in 

1 The Knights of the Mist, The Lady of Montsoreau, The Orphans of iki 
Bridge of Notre Dame. 


e course of his speech in which he drew a sketch of the 
cused's character and examined into the motives of his 
me: "His head was turned by bad books, a kind of 
iding highly injudicious and dangerous for him ; his 
eference was for dismal* stories, crammed with calamities 
d where horror is piled on horror. He told a witness 

loved to read the Juif Errant (" Wandering Jew ") of 
agene Sue. Tropmann admitted to the Abbé Crozer 
at novel reading was at the bottom of his profound 
moralization. "By dint of living in this imaginary 
>rld, he had lost all notion of justice and honour, and 
is fairly enamoured of those gallows-birds who regain 
e advantages of a virtuous and reputable existence by 
/ishing about them the fruits of a life of crime, and die 

the odour of philanthropy after making a handsome 
come by the judicious use of knife and poison." 1 
In the Gouffé case, it was proved that novel reading of 
certain kind had done much towards depraving the 
aracter of the girl Bompard. 

Criminal Court stories giving an account of famous 
imes are exceedingly popular; they are published in 
iilleton form by the small halfpenny Papers and pene- 
ite to every corner of the country. Advertised by big, 
loured posters representing a scene of murder or orgy, 
ey familiarize the minds of children, girls and women 
th ideas and pictures it would be wiser to keep them 

ignorance of. On every dead wall in Paris we see 
urdered men, tortured children, women taking part in 
snes of wild revelry ; and these pictures one and all are 
graved on the minds of the passers-by. 
All who know the susceptibility of a child's brain 

impressions and the powerful effect a moral shock may 
oduce, must recognize that a lascivious picture may 
ofoundly stir the imaginations of young people, and 
pecially of girls at the period of puberty. I have drawn 
tention in the preceding chapter to the great influence 
erted by the first books read ; still deeper is the mark 

1 Souvenirs de la petite et de la grande Roquette^ vol. ii. p. 228. 


left by the first pictures seen, they make a far profound» 
impression than words do. If in Schools, in the Streets, 
were displayed fine pictures representing historical, patriotic 
and religious subjects and scenes of country life, children's 
minds would be imbued, almost 'without an effort, merely 
through the eyes, with really moral lessons. Instead of 
this, pictures are flaunted on every wall, in the street 
kiosks and in booksellers 1 windows, representing crimes 
of hate and crimes of wantonness, constituting a genuine 
offence against morality and youthful modesty. Such 
things are engraved on the memory and leave ineffaceable 
traces behind ; they corrupt the imagination and may 
easily lead to the commission of analogous acts. 

Novels and Plays are written based on the crimes of 
Fualdès, the Courier of Lyons, Tropmann. The repro- 
duction under various forms of Tropmann's notorious 
crimes brought such fine pickings to the Press, that the 
director of one paper, wishing to let his staff share in these 
advantages, gave them a magnificent dinner, which wound 
up with drinking the murderer's health. 

In the execution of his crime the murderer frequently 
copies the methods he has read a description of in a novel. 
The youth Lemaître, referred to above as having cut a 
little boy's throat, said : " I read numbers of novels, and 
I found in one of them a description of the scene I carried 
out." Of course the description of a criminal action is 
far from inspiring everybody with the wish to reproduce 
it, but it has this suggestive effect with a certain proportion 
of children, girls and young men of an impressionable 
nature and a nervous and morbid disposition. In a 
pamphlet he wrote on the subject of Obsession du Meurtri 
^Predisposition to Murder") Dr. Ladame relates how a 
woman killed her children as the result of reading about 
a similar crime, and how yet other women, struck by the 
details of this murder, were in their turn pursued by an 
almost irresistible impulse to kill. Dr. Aubry gives similar 
instances. Murder is infectious, just as madness is, and 
suicide, and political excitement. Victor Hugo writing to 


artine, on September 7. 1830, says : " In this whirlpool 
engulfs us and makes us dizzy, I have found it im- 
ble to bring together three thoughts of poetry and 
Iship. A feverish excitement turns every head, and 

is no way to blockade oneself against external im- 
ions ; the contagion is in the air, and infects you 
her you will or no." 

was as a result of her excessive devotion to romantic 
tture that Mlle. Lemoine, a young lady residing with 
nother at a château in the Department of Indre-et- 
ï, became her coachman's mistress and subsequently 
her mother's assistance killed the child resulting from 
llicit connection. Having read many novels, particu- 
those of George Sand, in which she found great ladies 
g inferiors, she wished to do as they did and ac- 
ingly surrendered herself to her coachman, declaring 
vas happy in lifting him to her own level. In George 
Is Valentine, as is well known, a peasant's son loves a 
itess's daughter; in André, it is a Marquis's son that 

and marries a work -girl. In the Compagnon du tour 
wnce, Yseuit de Villepreux wishes to marry the cabinet- 
ir Pierre Huguenin. — Similarly in the Eighteenth 
ury Novelists and Poets had recommended dispropor- 
te marriages with servant-maids or with working men. 
>seau married a servant, and everybody knows how 
ppy the union made him. Voltaire, in Nanine, makes 
3ount say : 

" L'éclat vous plaît ; vous mettez la grandeur 
Dans les blasons, je la mets dans le cœur. 
L'homme de bien, modeste avec courage 
Et la beauté spirituelle, sage, 
Sans biens, sans nom, sans tous ces titres vains 
Sont à mes yeux les premiers des humains." l 

may be the part of a wise man to look for greatness 

Display delights you ; you look for greatness in blazoned arms, I in the 
Goodness, modesty and courage, spiritual beauty and wisdom, albeit 
it wealth or name or any of these vain titles, are in my eyes the first of 
1 qualities." 


of heart in preference to greatness of birth, but it is not 
so wise to imagine a good heart is more likely to be found 
in a servant-girl than in a young lady of birth and breeding. 
Novelists are merely misleading their readers' judgment 
when they advise young men to look for a wife in the 
kitchen, and girls to choose their fiancé from the stable 
or the workroom. Already in Astrée we have seen great 
ladies accepting the love of their inferiors. "How, 
Madam," says Léonide to Galatée, " should you ever love 
a shepherd? Do you not remember who you are?"— 
" Oh ! yes, Léonide, I remember," she returns, " but you 
must also know that shepherds are men as much as Druids 
or Knights." If we find dependents lifting their eyes to 
their masters' daughters and the latter not scandalized by 
the audacity of the " earth-worm in love with a star," it 
is often to the reading of romantic literature we must 
attribute the fascination. At the trial, the presiding Judge 
said, addressing Mile. Lemoine : " You used to read a 
great many novels?" — The accused: "Yes! sometimes, 
but without my mother's knowledge." T lie Judge : "You 
told the Juge d'instruction your mother did know."— 
The accused: "Oh! no ; she knew I was in the habit of 
reading stories appearing as Jeuilletons in the papers, but 
I always hid the others from her." Urged to declare how 
she had received her coachman's offers of love, she replied : 

" F is the first man who ever spoke words of love 

to me ; I was unfortunate enough to believe him, and 
abandoned myself to him. . . . Afterwards, I was divided 
between shame at having sacrificed my honour to a 
servant and the happiness of having raised to my own 
level a man who, according to social conventions, was in 
an inferior position to mine." Becoming pregnant, she 
was not at all affected by the scandal of the thing, hoping 
to force her mother to consent to the wished-for marriage 
with the coachman. " This was the only means," she said, 
"of bringing my romance to a fitting termination. I 
wished to make a man happy, as my mother had made 
my father." However, her mother on discovering her 


daughter's condition, dismissed the coachman, and after 
vain attempts to bring about abortion, ended by killing 
the child before birth. 

The "Procureur General," who prosecuted, and M. 
Lachaud who was Counsel for the defence, were agreed 
as to the fact that the young woman had been ruined by 
reading novels. " I see with regret," the former declared, 
"how the Drama and the Novel are making themselves 
felt in judicial cases." In a recent trial at the Assize 
Court at Paris there was another girl, of mournful celebrity, 
who had to defend herself at one and the same time 
against a crime and a passion described as being un- 
bridled. To prove the reality of the latter, and doubtless 
in the hope of interesting and softening the Court, her 
letters were read aloud, their ardent style painting the 
force of this irresistible passion. Well! these passionate 
epistles were not the girl's own at all ; she had copied 
them in the most barefaced way from a not over-decorous 
Play of the period. Like her predecessor, Angelina 
Lemoine plagiarised, in order to lend a halo of poetry 
to her infatuation. 

I have often noted in criminal proceedings how seducers 
are in the habit of lending novels to girls they are trying 
to lead astray, and how they very soon attain their ends 
by this means. On August 24th, i860, the Assize Court 
of the Bouches-du-Rhône tried for abduction of a girl 
under age, a certain Treuil, a commercial traveller, a 
married man of thirty-seven, who had enticed from her 
home a girl belonging to a highly respectable family of 
Marseilles. To pave the way to seduction, the man had 
made her read a number of trashy novels. — Vitalis, a 
retired bookseller, who was condemned to death and 
executed at Marseilles, was ruined himself (he admitted 
as much) and had ruined his accomplice, Marie Boyer, by 
persistent reading of novels. In Marie Buyer's bedroom 
were found a host of novels, conspicuous among the number 
being Vierges folles, Mlle, de Maupin % Mœurs galantes de 


Novelists who have described the methods of seduction 
have not failed to note how profligates take advantage of 
books to attain their end. In Bourget's Novel Le Disciple^ 
Robert Greslou, anxious to make Charlotte fall in love 
with him, takes care to ply her with sentimental literature. 
The day the girl comes to ask his advice as to what to 
read, he feels he has her, as much as ever a sportsman 
does when he has a bird at the end of his gun ; " I too," 
he exclaims, " I held my human prey at the end of my 
gun. When she came to ask me to direct her reading, 
was not Charlotte putting herself of her own accord within 
reach of my weapon ? " Then with a perverse ingenuity 
he begins by making her read tales and poems likely to 
stir her fancy without startling her. 

Depraved women desirous of ruining a virtuous friend, 
start by lending her novels to read. " Dear friends who 
are for trying her mettle and attempting to shake her 
virtue," Michelet writes, "do not fail to lend her on the 
sly something of George Sand's." 1 

The famous Huet, Bishop of Avranches, held the read- 
ing of romances a necessary part of a girl's education, to 
teach her to distinguish true love from false. But he quite 
forgot that a girl does not read a romance in a critical 
spirit, that the delineation of love intoxicates her, stirring 
her heart and rousing her imagination. Specialists in 
mental disease are aware that erotic passions may even be 
awakened by the perusal of novels which, while perfectly 
inoffensive and indeed instructive for a grown man, are 
extremely perilous stuff for young girls. 2 

Here, for instance, is what I find in Dechambre's 
Dictionary of the Medical Sciences, under "Nervous 
Diseases " : " Who does not know the enervating effects 
of erotic books and plays and of some forms of social 
entertainment, which overstimulate the senses prematurely, 
excite the imagination unduly, and expose young people 

1 V Amour i p. 275. 

* P. Moreau (of Tours), Les aberrations du sens génésique> p. 176 ; Dr. 
Magnan, Obsession criminelle morbide ; Dr. Bourgeois, Les Passions. 


to all the aberrations of romantic reverie, when they do 
not directly lead to a hysteric diathesis." 

Among books liable to awake erotic ideas, I do not 
hesitate to include works of mystical devotion, in which 
the love of God is assimilated to human love. Mon- 
seigneur Dupanloup had a horror of them, and wished to 
see a return to the books of piety composed by Bossuet, 
Fénelon and Bourdaloue. Extravagant mysticism, like 
romantic sentimentalism, contains a great deal of latent 

The best Novels, which may be read without danger by 
married women, may be perilous for young girls, because 
they serve to overstimulate their romantic sentimentality. 
I have heard a moralist declare, a man of the finest intellect 
and most judicious mind, M. C. Martha, that Paul and 
Virginia was for a girl a more dangerous book perhaps 
than a modern naturalistic novel. Nor is it without good 
reason that Flaubert mentions the reading of Paul and 
Virginia by Madame Bovary in her early days as one of 
the causes conducing to her romantic excitability and 
leading up to her fall. Again we are justified in sup- 
posing it was to bring to an earlier head the outbreak of 
passion in the heart of Graziella that Lamartine made his 
heroine read this work. As he says himself, after reading 
its pages, "you would have said a sudden revolution had 
changed the beauteous marble into flesh and blood and 
melted it into tears. The girl felt her soul, asleep till 
then, revealed to a consciousness of itself in the soul of 
Virginia. She seemed to have ripened by six years of 
growth in half an hour." — Dr. Magnan has recorded how 
the lover of Mile. Van Zand, who long pursued her with 
his sentimental addresses, and ends by getting himself 
confined in Sainte-Anne Asylum, always attributed his 
romantic and high-strung passion to the perusal of Paul 
and Virginia. A famous authoress, the writer of some 
celebrated novels, says : " I will not pretend that novels, 
even the purest, do not do harm ; they have taught us 
far too many of the deepest secrets of our nature. There 


is no feeling we can experience without a sort of recollection 
of having read about it somewhere; all the veils of the heart 
have been rent asunder. The Ancients would never have 
made their soul in this way a theme for fiction ; they kept 
it as a sanctuary into which even their own eyes would 
have feared to pry." l La Fontaine, by way of apologising 
for the light-heartedness of his tales, said very justly: "If 
there is anything in our writings likely to make a deep 
impression on men's minds, this is certainly not the light- 
hearted gaiety of these tales, which only touches the 
surface of things. I should be much more afraid of a 
gentle melancholy, into which the most chaste and modest 
of romances are likely enough to plunge us, and which goes 
far towards paving the way for love." 2 

It was the reading of a Tale of Romance that proved 
the undoing of Francesca da Rimini. " If you so greatly 
desire," she says in the Inferno, "to learn what was the 
first root of our love, we were one day reading by way of 
pastime the adventures of Lancelot and how he was 
smitten with love ; we were alone and quite without 
distrust. Again and again the words made our eyes 
encounter and our faces change colour. . . . The book 
and he who wrote it were for us another Galahad (pandar); 
that day we read no more." — It was by reading sentimental 
books with Charlotte that Werther strove to touch her 
heart. "Ah! my friend," writes Werther . . . "how many 
times in the middle of some passage in an enthralling book 
have our hearts, Lotta's and mine, understood each other I* 
It was while reading with Werther some of Ossian's songs 
that Charlotte came very near giving herself to him, like 
Francesca da Rimini in Dante. Their hearts were melted; 
Werther interrupted the reading and threw down the book, 
then seized Lotta's hand and bathed it in tears. Lotta 
rested her head on the other arm and covered her eyes 
with her handkerchief; the agitation of both was extreme 
They felt their own wretchedness in the hero's destiny, 

1 Mme. de Staël, De V 'Allemagne, 2nd Part, ch. xxviii. 

2 La Fontaine, Preface to the second edition of the Contes. 


they felt it with one heart, and their tears intermingled. 
. . . Their burning cheeks touched. The whole world 
disappeared from their eyes ; he took her in his arms and 
pressed her to his heart. . . ." Charlotte had strength 
of mind enough to recover herself, and running to her 
room barricaded the door ; — but she was only just in 

Old Brantôme, not an author likely to be suspected of 
prudery, says in his Vies des dames galantes, that he would 
be a very rich man, if only he had as many hundreds of 
crowns "as there be fair women, whether of the great 
world or ladies of religion, the which the reading of 
Antadis hath undone." He goes on : " How many young 
maids in the schoolroom have been undone by reading this 
same tale (of Teiresias) I have but now related, and that 
of Biblis, of Conus, and many more of like sort writ in the 
Metamorphoses of Ovid." 

Who can tell the number of imitators fathered by the 
history of Abelard and Heloïse ? Even in their lifetime 
young lovers took them as a model ; " our follies," writes 
Abelard to Heloïse, " have penetrated even to the holiest 
places ; our sin has scandalized a whole kingdom, the tale 
of it is read and delighted in. We are the consolation of 
young folk that go astray as we did, and whoso offends 
after us, deems his offence so much the less." 

The three Latin poets who have applied their genius to 
the delineation of love, Ovid, Catullus and Propertius, them- 
selves recognize the danger inherent in their erotic strains. 
" Touch not the poets of love," Ovid says in the Remédia 
Amorisï . . . Who can read unscathed your verses, 
Tibullus, or yours, sweet singer whom your fair Cynthia 
alone inspired." — Catullus is himself conscious of the 
aphrodisiac effects his verses possess : " My verses," he 
says, "are spicy and gay, they stir desire." Propertius in 
his Sixth Elegy devotes to the infernal gods the man who 
first filled Roman homes with obscene paintings. 

Forgetting how powerful is the impulse to imitation 
found among young men and women, particularly in 


France, 1 M. Jules Lemaître, usually so perspicacious in his 
psychological analysis, holds the influence of novels over 
the female mind to be nil, and says any women who may 
have fallen after reading Indiana must have been already 
ripe for ruin, and would possibly but for this work have 
fallen lower still. 2 The famous critic should remember 
novels ripen women. " Moral ruin is a long process," 
Nicole declares with his usual sagacity and clear-sighted- 
ness; "it involves preliminaries and gradual processes. It 
is the delineation of vicious passions and the false glamour 
that is thrown over them, that by slowly progressive stages 
leads up to a lapse from virtue." Dumas fils is at one with 
Nicole ; speaking of the motives conducive to adultery 
with women, he signalizes besides a carnal curiosity dis- 
guised under the name of sentiment, an imagination 
"disordered by bad talk, bad books and bad example * 
( Visite de Noce). 

Ovid long ago expressed M. Jules Lemaîtres thought in 
other words, when he said : " Love verses only corrupt 
those that are already ripe to be corrupted." No doubt 
erotic poetry and fiction remain without effect on firm, 
vigorously constituted minds. But how many such 
characters are there, removed above all weakness? The 
most part of young men, of women, and even of grown 
men, oscillate betwixt good and ill ; fickle and inconstant, 
they change conduct and predilection according to the 
persons they live with, the books they read, the examples 
they see before their eyes. " I have yonder," says Dante, 
" a niece by name Alagia, and who of her own nature is 
good, provided the example of our house does not make 
her bad." 

A certain maturity of mind and real force of character 
are needed to react successfully against the influence 
exerted by surroundings, example and literature. Constant 
reading of an author is just like habitually frequenting a 

1 Caesar observed long ago how highly developed was the impulse to Unit* 
an among the Gauls. {Bellum Gaificum, bk. vii. ch. xxii.) 
* Jules Lemattre, Les contemporains, 4th series, p. 165. 


on's society, and tends to produce a resemblance, 
mg men and women gradually mould themselves a 
it like that of their favourite heroes and heroines of 
on ; they think and feel like them, and identify them- 
es with their personality. The girl who reads the 
welle Heloïse comes to imagine herself beloved by 
it-Preux ; she feels the same emotions Julie experiences 
:he tale, and receives the same kisses. If she reads 
rther, she identifies herself with Charlotte and envies 
the happiness of being loved by a man capable of 
ng himself for despairing love. If she is fascinated by 
1e hero of romance, who roars like a lion and coos 
a dove, she seems actually to hear these roarings 
cooings, which set her heart-strings vibrating. 
r oung men are equally ready on their side to copy the 
y of romance in fashion for the moment. According to 
novels in vogue, they love like Saint-Preux or like 
relace, like Werther or like the Chevalier des Grieux. 
er René, Adolplie and Obermann, drawing-rooms 
rmed with dreamy, melancholic young men, disgusted 
1 life before they had lived, and with love before they 
w what it was. Later again, after Antony, their 
ughts were all turned towards elopements and romantic 

Leaders borrow from their chosen heroes of fiction 
juage, sentiments, tastes, habits, na'mes, costume, even 
ir favourite scents. In more than one case of proceed- 
5 for judicial separation, I have seen women's heads 
led by imitation of Diana Vernon, the heroine of one 
V\r Walter Scott's Novels ; like her they wanted to ride 
[ hunt, scorning the domestic virtues and dreaming only 
romantic adventures. Ossian's poems brought into 
^ue the names of Oscar and Malvina, while Mme. de 
ël's novels suggested to many women the idea of 
ning their children Delphine, Corinne, or Oswald. 
Consumption no less than hypochondria has been a 
rary fashion. Voltaire used to write hymns to Health, 1 

1 Poem addressed to the President Hénault. 


but under the reign of Romanticism it became a disgrace 
to be well and hearty. The canons of Romantic literature 
decreed that a woman should be pale, "pale as a fair 
evening of Autumn," while for a young man it was poetical 
to be as white as a consumptive. Either would have 
blushed to show a fresh, rosy face. 1 

Fiction has repeatedly brought into fashion particular 
modes of dress and particular colours. After Werther, 
young men adopted the sky-blue coat and yellow breeches 
the hero of Goethe's story wore the first time he danced 
with Lotta. Byron, liking to have his neck free, wore no 
cravat, or if he did left it untied ; and his devoted admirers 
followed suit. After d'Urfé, pale green 2 became the rage. 
George Sand made olive-green universally admired, the 
colour she gave to a Creole beauty in one of her Novels. 

If the hero of the Novel a young girl reads has blonde 
hair, she longs for a fair husband ; if he is dark, she prefers 
a dark man. Mme. Laffarge tells us in her Memoirs how, 
after reading a Novel as a young girl the hero of which was 
a deaf-mute, she had been silly enough to long to be loved 
by a deaf mute. "A story written with considerable 
feeling and talent," she says, " impressed me vividly. In 
this interesting work, the hero Anatole follows the 
woman he loves wherever she goes, saves her life, surrounds 
her with the tenderest marks of a passionate affection, 
writes to her, gets' her to love him, without making an 
attempt to come near her. At the end of five or six 
hundred pages, after Anatole has won the adoration not 
only of the object of his affections, but of all his fair 
readers as well, he is discovered to be deaf and dumb." 
While she was reading the Novel in question, Mme. 
Laffarge, a girl at the time, used to be followed in her 
walks by a mysterious young man, who only succeeded 
in expressing his admiration at a distance by means of 

1 Ovid gave the same advice long ago in his Ars Anwris ! " Palleat omnis 
amans," he says, — " Every true lover should be pale." 

* In French céladon, the name of the colour being derived from Céladoo, 
the sentimental swain who is the hero of Astrie. — (TRANSLATOR.) 


burning glances ; very soon she found herself hoping this 
unknown lover would turn out a deaf-mute like Anatole, 
she longed for this infirmity and eagerly looked for traces 
of it in his face, his melancholy mien and sad eyes. 

I quote this case to show to what a degree a girl may 
be impressed by romantic books. We can now readily 
understand how her mind must be stirred by romances 
where the lover is always handsome, amiable, witty, high- 
born, tender, passionate and elegant, while the poor 
husband is depicted in the blackest colours. While the 
lover has every good quality, every merit and every 
distinction, the husband is represented as plain, common- 
place, tiresome, always full of his work at providing the 
household expenses. All these flattering portraits of the 
lover, these grotesque caricatures of the husband, are a 
bad training for a girl in realizing the beauty of marriage 
and family life ; while they set the woman who is married 
but misunderstood by her husband dreaming of this ideal 
adorer, who will know how to appreciate her, if others do 
not, and console her for the vulgarities of a husband's 
affection. An ideal love with a high-born and dis- 
tinguished adorer, one to match with a hero of romance, 
this is what she craves. She longs for such a lover, lets 
her curiosity play round him, and would fain know him 
in more than fancy. She is unfaithful in her thoughts, 
till she can become so in very deed and act. 

In Novels love is the one and only business of all the 
characters ; so the fair readers of such books are shocked 
if their husband fails to spend all his time in adoring them 
and busies himself primarily about his proper business. 
At the least disappointment, on discovering the smallest 
defect in their husband, they conclude he is quite different 
from the ideal lover, a man quite incapable of a noble 

Tacitus, drawing a picture of Roman decadence under 
the Empire,. described "the very Capitol burned by the 
hands of citizens, sacred things profaned, adultery in the 
noblest families." We too in France have seen the Hôtel de 


Ville burned, not by the enemy, but by the hand of French 
citizens, we see sacred things profaned every day, family, 
country, army insulted, adultery spreading in all ranks 
of society. This increase of adultery I attribute very 
largely to the reading of countless novels, all defending 
adultery. By making adultery poetical, novels do what 
the tales of Mythology did in ancient times, sanctifying 
as they did the passions. In a Comedy of Terence, a 
young profligate encourages himself in vicious courses by 
the example of Jupiter seducing Danaë. "Why!" he 
exclaims, " what a mighty god did, should not I a weak 
mortal do? Yes! truly, I have done it, and with right 
goodwill." Adultery cannot be a crime, as it is only 
copying from divine beings. "What man," says Plato 
not without reason, "will not excuse himself the evil he 
has done, once he is persuaded the heroes do and have 
done the same things ? . . . These reasons constrain us to 
abolish all these fictions, for fear they give young men too 
great a facility for doing wrong." Notwithstanding his 
admiration for Homer, Plato is obliged to allow that the 
description of Jupiter's amours is not of a kind to inspire 
young people with a wise moderation. Imitation of evil is 
a much more rapid process than that of good. Without 
holding themselves bound to imitate what is good, men 
make bad examples their warranty for imitating what is 
evil. " The example of Alexander the Great's chastity," 
Pascal says, " has never made so many men continent, as 
that of his drunkenness has made intemperate " It is no 
disgrace not to be as virtuous as he, while it seems 
excusable if we are not more vicious. 

Inasmuch as Novelists write especially for young people 
and women (husbands and fathers having but little time 
for reading and preferring History to Romance), they 
always assign the contemptible rôle to these latter, to 
gratify their favourite audience. Parents are all Gérontes 
and Orgons, husbands all Sganarelles and George Dandins, 
ready-made dupes. In Novels every husband and father 
is a tyrant who is for safeguarding his wife against 


ltery or his daughter against seduction. When Saint- 
ux, abusing the hospitality offered him and the con- 
nee reposed in him, is waiting for his pupil in her 
room to dishonour her, he thinks he hears a noise and 
ing to see his enterprise fail exclaims : " Can it be 
x cruel father?" (Letter \\v.) In the Preface to the 
ivelle Heloïse, Rousseau does not dissemble the fact 
t he wrote the Romance particularly for women, and 
invites them all, respectable and disreputable alike, to 
d it " This Collection," he says, " with its Gothic tone 
5 women better than books of Philosophy; it may 
n be useful to some who, in an ill-ordered life, have still 
served some love of honourable living." He admits 
irl is undone if she reads a single page of this Novel, 

he encourages her to go on at once with its perusal ; 

she has begun, she had better finish, she has no more 
:s to run." — Rousseau who professed that when he 
iposed the Nouvelle Heloïse as a book for women, he 
\ writing a work of morality, nevertheless acknowledges 
his Confessions that its perusal had hardly tended to 
ke them more moral. He declares that " women were 
intoxicated by the book and its author, there were few 
hem, even in the highest circles, I could not have made 
onquest of, if I had tried." On the publication of 
ila, Chateaubriand was like Rousseau overwhelmed with 
linine attentions and declarations of love. 
Vives who torment their husbands with scenes of 
lousy often derive their over-excitability from Novels 
acting men unfaithful to the marriage vow; finding 
bands deceiving their wives in books, they instantly 
b to the conclusion their own is doing the like to them. 
his book on La Folie lucide (" Lucid Madness "), Dr 
ilat relates how a husband, complaining to him of the 
nes of furious jealousy his wife used to indulge in, 
•ibuted this entirely to her novel reading propensities. 
ne fault I always had to find with her," the husband 
tared, " was finding novels lying about in every corner 
. these books unduly excited her imagination." — The 

2 E 


same Dr. Trélat also gives instances where furious jealousy 
on the husband's side was awakened by novels describing 
the adultery of wives. The husband, naturally prédis* 
posed to jealousy, when he comes to read romances in 
which he finds the wife deceiving her husband, believes 
his fate to be the same. The Tales of Boccaccio and La 
Fontaine, which make bachelors laugh, often make husbands 
thoughtful and sad. One wife, whose husband had become 
furiously jealous, said that for two days running she had 
seen Boccaccio's Tales in her husband's hands and that he 
was for ever studying them. 

By providing a stimulant to their sensibility and im- 
agination, without providing any nourishment for reason, 
novels over-excite and enervate young readers, especially 
those of the weaker sex. They set them dreaming and 
prevent their thinking, carrying them away to the land of 
chimaeras instead of developing their critical powers and 
correcting the want of exactitude and precision which so 
often characterizes them. 

In his pamphlet dealing with the Chorinski trial, the 
famous specialist in mental disease, Morel (of Rouen) 
states that the accused, a brilliant young officer in the 
Austrian service, who poisoned his wife in complicity with 
the elegant Canoness Julia von Ebergegny, had debauched 
his mind by the reading of romances of passion. The 
Doctor, having gone to visit him in prison, the accused 
wanted to tell him the story of his life, which surpassed, 
he declared, anything he had ever read in novels of wild 
adventure, his favourite form of reading. 

For a romantic writer like Jean Jacques Rousseau, who 
joined a most highly-strung imagination to a temperament 
of fire, and who, to use his own expression, " simply adored 
the sex," to write a Novel is only an indirect way of 
making love. In the same way for young people of 
either sex, at the age when love is the main preoccupa- 
tion of the mind, to read a Novel is only another mode 
of the same thing. Novels intoxicate young people, be- 
cause they set fair-faced, flattering phantoms dançipg 


re their eyes, phantoms with brown hair or blonde, and 

of black or blue. 

im ready to admit that Novel-reading is not exclusively 
delight of young people and of women. "Beside a 
ty fire and by a flickering light," says Chateaubriand, 
e of being undisturbed, we melted in pity over the ficti- 
; woes of a Clarissa, a Clémentine, a Heloïse, a Cecilia, 
els are the sacred books of the unhappy and unfor- 
te ; true, they feed us on illusions ; but after all are 
î more numerous in them than in real life ? " Bishop 
t of Avranches used to declare Paradise was without 
>ubt "reading a novel in a lounging chair." Saint 
tcis de Sales was extremely fond of d'Urfé's novels ; 
>in the philosopher delighted in the perusal of those 
lie. Scudéry. But there are Novels and Novels. The 
ion of to-day bears but little resemblance to that of the 
rnteenth Century, which formed the delight of Bishop 
t and Saint Francis de Sales. Nor have their fair 
ers much in common with the women of the same 
jry, who fed on Nicole and would have enjoyed 
ing Bourdaloue's sermons to steep, the better to 
nilate them. Reading the romances of Mlle. Scudéry 
Mme. de Lafayette was a pleasant and harmless enough 
sèment, so long as the fair readers' solid reason re- 
îed mistress of their imagination, — the " foolish virgin " 
le establishment. The conditions are altered nowa- 
, when both in Novels and Life, imagination en- 
:hes dangerously on reason. 

îe Literature of imagination has its raison dêtre, pro- 
i always we do not limit our diet to it. Novel-reading 
ce dram-drinking, it is a liquor which taken in a small 

gives an agreeable fillip, but which on too frequent 
tition produces intoxication and becomes a veritable 
m. There are too many Novels ; we are inundated 

them. Those capable of reading them without risk 

no time to read them at all, while those who would 
oing better to read something else, read nothing but 
>n. The majority of Novel-readers, male and female, 


are complete strangers to the study of History, Philosophy 
and Science. What a scourge are these Lending Libraries, 
where nothing is given out to read except Novels, and such 
Novels ! These depots for the sale of unhealthy literature 
do as much mischief as those where adulterated liquors are 
retailed. Girls, youths and women poison their souls, just 
as working-men do their bodies with alcohol. Literary 
intoxication with bad novels is as fatal in its effects as 
alcoholic intoxication. Intellectual poisons kill with as 
much certainty as physical. Some works of this kind are 
like aphrodisiacs and excite the senses, inflame the blood 
and set the nerves quivering. Others, by making out love 
and virtue to be identical, put the conscience to sleep 
like narcotics. Others, veritable antisocial pamphlets 
these, may be compared to explosive substances that 
threaten to send all the fabric of society flying. Still 
others are like corrosive acids, slowly and surely destroy- 
ing all scruples and delicate refinements of the soul. 
Lastly, the fatalistic doctrines that permeate many novels 
are a sort of intellectual forcemeat, that stirs the feelings 
and sends the will to sleep. Those who write novels, and 
those who sell them, maintain that they are always harm- 
less. Yes ! from their point of view they are, — and indeed 
useful, but it is not so in the case of young men, whose 
judgment they warp -and whose hearts and imaginations 
they disturb and over-stimulate, or for unmarried girls 
whose souls, to use Michelet's words, may be tarnished, 
stained and soiled by such reading, which robs them of 
all natural freshness and purity. 

Young people who read many Romances presently wish 
to have a romance of their own. When " Mademoiselle* 
(Mademoiselle de Montpensier, grand-daughter of Henri 
IV.), whose head had been turned by novel-reading, fell 
in love with Lauzun, she longed for a romantic adventure, 
and was for ever repeating the lines from La Suite du 
Menteur about hearts predestined for one another by the 
mandate of Heaven. Victims of love are very often really 
victims of romance. 


To begin with, in Novels love is the sole and only pre- 
occupation of the characters ; to be in love, a condition 
eading to the commission of a thousand extravagances 
n real life, is always represented as being a virtuous act, 
he mark of a great soul, both a duty and a right. What 
ollows ? Why ! that readers wish to put these sophistries 
n practice. I have myself heard persons brought up on a 
rharge of striking women who had withstood their advances, 
ippeal to this supposed right of love ; they attempted no 
excuses for their conduct, but rather accused the woman 
vho had dared to repel their efforts to seduce her. One 

H , a retired non-commissioned officer, whom it was 

Tiy duty to try, had noticed a pretty grocer's wife at 
Marseilles, happily married and a highly respectable 
voman. Every day for a fortnight he went to the shop 
:o make different purchases, as he pretended, in reality to 
:ry to seduce her. Invariably repulsed and furious at his 
rebuffs, he demanded a rendezvous ; on this being refused, 
tie seized a knife and struck the woman in the breast. 
He was arrested and confronted with his victim ; in reply 
to questions he said : " I admit having struck the witness» 
but it was pure passion that made me commit the act ; I 
was furious because the woman repulsed all the flattering 
proposals I made her." At his trial, instead of trying to 
find excuses, he reproached the woman for not having 
consented to give him an assignation. " She should have 
agreed," he declared, " to meet me, as I asked her." The 
fellow was in fact merely the echo of the authors who have 
invented the so-called right of love. 

Two distinct literary schools have proclaimed this right, 
— the sensualist or naturalistic school and the romantic. 
Taking their stand on the supposed irresistible character 
of physical love, which constrains mankind to assure the 
perpetuity of the species, sensualistic writers maintain that 
lovers belong to one another by natural right "When* 
ever a man and a woman experience a violent passion for 
each other," says Chamfort, "I hold that in every case, no 
matter what the obstacles that divide them, husband, 


parents or what not, the pair belong to each other by a 
law of nature, by a right divine, spite of all human enact- 
ments and conventions." This right of love, and right of 
adultery, are allowed by Schopenhauer, as a consequence of 
the natural duty of reproduction. The German Philosopher 
argues that women are vaguely conscious that while be- 
traying their duties towards the individual, they are the 
better fulfilling those they owe the species, which has rights 
of infinitely superior stringency. 1 A husband who revolts 
at his wife's unfaithfulness to him is merely an egoist 
selfishly preoccupied by his own paltry individual interests. 
But passion, representing the interest of the human species, 
is rightly paramount over the egoism of the husband. If 
onlookers at dramas of passion are so indulgent as they 
are towards amorous extravagances, this is because, 
Schopenhauer tells us, they feel that the destinies of the 
species take precedence of those of the individual. 

Stendhal, repeating this sophistical argument of Cham- 
fort's, writes : " A woman belongs of right to the man who 
loves her and whom she loves better than life itself." The 
right is conferred by Nature, and no social convention can 
abrogate it. Stendhal belongs to the sensualist school of 
the Eighteenth Century. 2 

Inspired by suchlike naturalistic theories, Michelet has 
claimed the right of love even for fishes, — their natural 
right to love before coming to the frying-pan : " Let them 
love, — and then come what may ! If we must kill them, 
kill them. But let them have lived first." s 

Romanticism, notwithstanding all its lyrical aspirations, 
ends by coming to the same conclusions as Naturalism. 
It too, with pathetic accents glozing over a coarse sensual- 

1 Schopenhauer, Méditations. (French Translation, A lean, Paris, pp. 1Q3» 


9 Stendhal expresses his own true sentiments in Le Rouge et U Noir wb« 
he puts these words in Julien Sorel's mouth: "There is no such thing •» 
natural right ; the word is nothing but a piece of old-fashioned foolishness. . . • 
Before law, there is no natural right whatever but the lion's strength or the 
need of the creature that is hungry, or cold, — in one word need, necessity" 

* Michelet, La Afer, p. 341. 


ity, appeals to the right of love, and even the right of 
adultery; it proclaims that passion must be obeyed, as 
being at once the voice of God and involved in the order 
of Nature, declaring " there can be nothing criminal, where 
sincere love finds place." * The Abbé Prévost 2 began by 
making love a right ; Rousseau constituted it a duty and 
a virtue ; it was left to Romanticism to consecrate it a 
Religion. All these writers have persuaded women they 
may love without being blameworthy, that in doing so 
they are only following the Laws of Nature. Accordingly 
we find this excuse based on the " Laws of Nature," con- 
stantly recurring in the letters and in the mouths of 
adulteresses. Mme. Weiss, who deceived her husband and 
afterwards poisoned him, wrote to her lover : " Crimes 
against human laws I do not heed ; it is only crimes 
against Nature that revolt me. I adore Nature!" The 
Abbé Grégoire states that the licentious clergy of the 
Eighteenth Century were not backward even at that date 
in invoking in the same way the Laws of Nature. Nature 
is the enemy of morality and the laws ; it is to hold Nature 
in check that moral and social laws are made. And so 
Novels, which recognise no other rights but those of Love, 
are always urging their readers to follow the Laws of 

The Ancients said : "There is a husband Fate reserves 
for each woman." 8 Romanticism declares: "There is a 
sister-soul Providence reserves for each woman, and this 
sister-soul is seldom the husband's. If the woman finds 
it under the features of a lover, she belongs to him of right. 
'Tis God Himself who commands love, brings lovers 
together, predestines them one for the other. Did not 
that Supreme Providence, that is everywhere, in spite of 
man's conventions, preside over the union of Benedict and 
Valentine?" If love runs low, if the heart is seized by 
another passion, again it is God that calls it to another 
vocation, and by consequence inconstancy is an act of 

1 George Sand Va /a<yittj. * Author of Manon Lescaut. 

3 Fragments of Euripides. 


submission to the Divine will ! When George Sand 
forsakes Alfred de Musset, to contract another unhallowed 

tie (alas ! even more ephemeral) with Dr. P , she cries : 

" Yes ! I can love again ; if they say the contrary, they lie 
Only God can say, * thou shalt love no more,' and I feci 
He has not said so yet. . . . To be happy for a year, and 
then die. This is all I ask of God and of you. I willXovt 
you in spite of all and in spite of myself. You have con- 
strained me, and God too has willed it so." * The Romantic 
School has borrowed from the Crusaders their rallying cry 
of " God wills it ! " That is, God wills that a woman pass 
from lover to lover with reckless rapidity ; each new lover, 
in turn, will seem great as a god to her, especially if he is 
strong as Hercules. 

Just as mystical piety borrows the language of profane 
love, so romantic Literature in turn borrows the language 
of mystic piety, to express the sentiments of profane love 
This same romantic mysticism is simply a thinly veiled 
form of sensuality. Sainte-Beuve admits as much in his 
Volupté: " I cultivated mystical illusion in myself, to give 
colour and variety to my Epicureanism." His religious 
aspirations in fact were merely a refinement of sensuality. 
In this mystical and sensual language, sexual gallantry is 
poetized under the name of love's religion, the caprices of 
the senses adorneel with the title of fancies of the heart, 
while physical union is veiled under the expression — union of 
souls ; it is a communion, a sacrament, of which the lover is 
the high-priest. A woman's self-abandonment in her lover's 
hands is not a culpable weakness, it is a sublime sacrifice. 
In Balzac's Lys de la Vallée, Félix exclaims, " Yes ! this is 
the first, the blessed communion of Love. Truly I have 
but now shared your pain, and my soul has been made 
one with yours, even as we are made one with Christ, when 
we partake of the Divine substance." — According to George 
Sand, Love is "modelled on that which Jesus Christ felt and 
manifested for men, it is an outcome of the Divine charity, 
and obeys the same laws." 2 — Again, in Lamartine Love uses 

1 Marieton, Une histoire d'amour, p. 112. 2 Luerctia Fhriani. 


the language of religious devotion. It is God who kindles 
love in the hearts of lovers. Love is a religion, it is the 
path of Heaven, it is the origin of our belief in God. The 
lover falls on his knees before his mistress, as before an 
altar; God and his lady are so mingled in his spirit, he 
can no longer distinguish them ; God is the loved one, and 
the loved one is God! he adores the Divinity through her 
image ; he says like Tartuffe: 

" Et je n'ai pu vous voir, parfaite créature, 
Sans admirer en vous l'auteur de la nature." ' 

"Oh, Love," cries Raphaël, "... you are the High 
Priest of this world of ours, the proof of Immortality, the 
fire of God's altar." 

In romantic literature, the lover invokes God before 
embracing his mistress ; after embracing, he thanks Him 
for having created a being so perfect. Brizeux exclaims : 

" Aimer Dieu, n'est-ce pas aussi nourrir son âme 
À l'humide baiser de quelque jeune femme ? 
Dans cette femme aussi, n'est-ce point ici-bas, 
Aimer visiblement le Dieu qu'on ne voit pas?" 2 

Alfred de Musset, even in spite of his habitual vein of 
mocker>% associates Religion with love and even with 
profligacy : " Though you were with a courtesan," he 
says, "yet are you accomplishing His great work. . . . 
Stay not the prayers that rise to your lips during the 
sacrifice ; these are the altars where he is fain to be under- 
stood and adored." 8 This strange comparison he repeats 
again and again : 

•' O femme, étrange objet de joie et de supplice ! 
Mystérieux autel, où dans le sacrifice, 
On entend tour à tour blasphémer et prier." 4 

1 "And I could never look on you, His perfect creature, without admiring in 
you the Author of Nature." 

1 " To love God, is it not also to feed one's soul on the moist kiss of a girl ? 
And in her love, is it not, in this world below, visibly to love the God w e 
cannot see ? " 

* Confession d'un Enfant du Siècle. 

4 "Oh ! Woman, strange object of delight and punishment! Mysterious 
altar, where in the sacrifice, we hear alternate blasphemies and prayers." 


After all this sort of language is nothing new, it is 
Tartuffe's likewise, who uses the very same metaphors: 

"J'aurai toujours pour vous, ô suave merveille, 
Une dévotion à nulle autre pareille." * 

Tartuffe prides himself on not copying mere worldly 

lovers : 

" Dont la langue indiscrète, en qui l'on se confie, 
Deshonore Vautel, où le cœur sacrifie." * 

This religion of love has not only been celebrated by 
Poets and Romance writers, it has also been preached by 
a Historian, Michelet, by the Socialists, Fourier and 
Enfantin, and by a Philosopher, Renan. In his naturalistic 
and mystical style, Michelet makes woman at one and 
the same time a sick patient and an " altar," and love a 
" communion." " What is Woman," he asks, " if not our 
living temple, our sanctuary, our altar, on which burns 
the fire of God ? " — Fourier, similarly exalting love into a 
religion, regrets that the Philosophers have not established 
priests and pontiffs of this Cult. — Renan for his part writes, 
that we are wrong to lament the weakening of religious 
beliefs, for he says, beliefs change shape and we shall always 
have the religion of love. In this religion of love there are 
likewise sacraments, a communion, a priesthood. The lover 
of the Abbesse de Jouarre is represented as a messenger from 
Heaven, a priest ; if the nun repulses him, she is offending 
God; by remaining virtuous, she fails in nobility of conduct 
" You will miss a woman's true greatness," they tell her, 
"... the true God will be angry with you, even if the 
monks' God is glad . . . proud virtue is a vice in a woman; 

1 "I shall ever have for thee, thou sweet and tender marvel, a devotion 
like unto no other." 

a "Whose indiscreet tongue, unworthy of its trust, dishonours the altar, 
where their heart makes sacrifice" — Molière would seem to have borrowed 
these expressions from Corneille, who says in Théodore (Act v.) : 

" Et je n'ai pas moins qu'elle à souffrir d'un supplice 
Qui profane l'autel où j'ai fait sacrifice." 

— " And 'tis my lot no less than hers to suffer a punishment that profanes 
the altar where I have made sacrifice." 


you think to enter into Eternity more nobly with your 
inflexible attitude ; a mistake, believe me ; you will be 
less noble." The Abbess yields to please God ; and her 
brother absolves her, with the words : "It was a Sacrament, 
and the most august of all, the mystery of that night, when 
you accepted his love an hour before dying." 

This language, stranger than Tartuffe's, only makes a 
man of sense smile, but its effects are by no means harm- 
less on the minds of young men and women ; by confusing 
love with virtue and piety, it warps their mind. But, as 
we know, perversion of heart is often the result of per- 
version of mind ; sophistries, clothed in brilliant phrases, 
are the most powerful agents of corruption. Two great 
Writers, who have disseminated many sophistries by their 
books, Jean Jacques Rousseau and George Sand, have 
themselves been the first to allow that Sophistry is often 
more dangerous to society than Crime, because it may be 
the father of an endless series of bad actions. In the 
Nouvelle Heloïse, Claire says to Julie : "I hate bad maxims 
even more than bad actions." 1 George Sand, deploring 
the faults into which her inordinate love of independence 
had dragged her, cried : " Cursed be the men and the 
books that have helped me on in this by their sophistries." 2 

If she was right in cursing the sophistries of other Writers 
who contributed to lead her astray, she would not have 
been far wrong in regretting likewise the sophistries she 
disseminated in her own Novels. I have already instanced 
several crimes, that of Dr. Bancal and that of Mile. Lemoine 
amongst the number, that were in great part inspired by 
Novel reading. Who can tell the number of women who 
have fallen into adultery as the result of reading Indiana, 
Jacques, Valentine, Lélia? It is no squalid and disgraceful 
adultery that we read of in romantic Novels, but a proud 
adultery that walks with head erect and a picturesque 
aureole around the brow, trampling underfoot the narrow 

1 La Nouvelle Hcloïse, 1st Part, Letter xl.— In Part 3, Letter xviii. is 
devoted to refuting the sophistries that are made to excuse adultery. 
* La veritable histoire cTEiie et Lui, by M. de Lovenjoul. 


prejudices -of a bourgeois society. In a series of Novels, 
which are merely pieces of special pleading against 
marriage, George Sand maintains that, if a wife fails to 
find in marriage the love she has a right to, she is justified 
in seeking it elsewhere. The Right of Adultery is a logical 
sequence of the Right of Love. George Sand would seem 
to have borrowed this theory from Pierre Leroux, who 
putting a false construction on the nature of the pardon 
accorded in the New Testament to "the woman taken 
in adultery," on account of her penitence, argued that such 
forgiveness was a proclamation of the right to commit 
adultery, in a society organized on wrong principles. " Why 
does Jesus forgive the sinful woman? Because she hath 
loved much. And why does He not condemn the 
adulteress? Because it is a woman's nature to love, 
and the adulterous woman possessed the right of adultery 
in an adulterous society." l 

If the wife has the right of being unfaithful to her 
husband, she has the duty of being faithful to her lover; 
" what constitutes adultery," George Sand writes in faeçues, 
"is not the hour she grants her lover, it is the night she 
goes back afterwards to pass in her husband's arms." 2 

If anyone ought to doubt the legitimacy of adultery, 
we should think it would be the husband. Yet we find in 
Novels husbands so full of indulgence as to excuse their 
wives' unfaithfulness as the effect of an overpowering and 
inevitable fate. Jacques in George Sand's story is the 
most perfect type of these good-natured husbands; he 
actually kills himself to avoid interfering with the love 
of his wife and her lover. " They are not to blame," he 
says, " they love each other. There can be no crime where 
true love is found. They are selfish, and perhaps they are 
all the better for it." (Letter xcvi.) In order that his suicide 

1 Revue indépendante, Aug. 1832. 

2 The Anarchists who are in favour of abolishing marriage go to George 
Sand's Novels to find arguments to support their views. An Anarchist 
pamphlet which appeared lately to denounce "the immorality of marriage," 
quotes the following sentence from George Sand on its title-page: "What 1 
stupid and wretched business is a wedding-day ! " 


may not be a cause of grief and reproach to his wife, he 
takes all sorts of precautions to make it believed that his 
death must be attributed to an accident. Jacques' obliging- 
ness surpasses Menelaus' leniency. 

A less good-natured husband might object that his wife 
swore to be faithful to him. But in George Sand, the 
husband knows very well that that oath is quite valueless ; 
it is Society forced the woman to enter into this absurd en- 
gagement, and he recognizes that female fidelity is an 
impossibility, a flying in the face of Nature, an absurdity, 
an abomination. Who can answer for a heart's caprices ? 
Mother Nature is to blame, and it is society we must 
curse. Far from blushing for her weakness, a woman 
has a right to find fault with the constitution of society. 
"One Literature, and one Literature alone, viz. the 
Romantic, has honoured, magnified, poetized, glorified 
and deified adultery." l 

Modern Novelists have likewise encouraged adultery by 
supplying it with the excuse of fatalism. Rousseau did 
not fall into this mistake ; one of the finest pages of the 
Nouvelle Heloïse is where Saint-Preux tells Milord Edouard 
of the combat that raged in Julie's breast at Meillerie; 
"these incidents," he exclaims, " have convinced me better 
than all arguments of Man's freewill and the excellence 
of virtue." It was Goethe who first began to represent 
passion as an irresistible force. The author of Werther 
and Faust was a disciple of Spinoza, he states as much in 
his Memoirs. By this channel the fatalistic spirit was 
introduced into Romantic literature. Mme. de Staël very 
clearly noticed this tendency in his works : " There is to 
be observed in his writings a certain scornful philosophy, 
which says to good as to evil, — it must be so because 
it is." 

From Stendhal to Zola, all the Novelists almost of what- 
ever school, whether romantic or naturalistic, are déter- 
ministe Mme. Bovary's husband, on learning his wife's 
unfaithfulness, says to her lover : " Fate only is to blame." 

1 Brunctièrc in Revue des Deux Mondes, Nov. 1, 1892. 


This fatality of passion is at the bottom of George Sand's 
first novels. " What have I done here below either good 
or ill?" cries Stenio in Lélia, ..." I have only obeyed the 
organization given me." If man is obliged to succumb to 
his organization, if he cannot resist passion, the fault is not 
in him ; "the fault is God's, who allows humanity thus to 
go astray," says Lélia, who is a fatalist. Pretty nearly all 
the heroes of romance are the same. So soon as Nature 
speaks, they haste to hear her voice, because they know 
they cannot do otherwise ; and in this they are only 
yielding to the irresistible impulses of heart and tempera- 

In the Novels of Stendhal, Balzac, Mérimée, Flaubert, 
Dumas fils, Zola, the same mischievous doctrine of fatality 
is found. According to these authors, there is nothing 
beyond certain physiological fatalities ; adultery is nothing 
more nor less than a matter of opportunity, of circumstance, 
of a sofa handy! Heart, and still more temperament, 
have sudden calls, which nullify at once all moral responsi- 
bility. The heroes of romance are victims of their nerves, 
of the current of their blood ; they are no longer their 
own men, they are the slaves of the passion that devours 
them and the appetites that master them. Fatality crushes 
them to the earth ; passion is with them as irresistible 
as the cravings of hunger and thirst. In these sensual and 
determinist Novels, the greatest weaknesses are pre- 
cipitated by the smallest physical causes, by a storm, by 
an excess of electricity in the atmosphere, by penetrating 
odours. Odours, perfumes! what a part they play in 
feminine frailty ! The analysis and influence of odours 
fill a large place in the poems of Baudelaire and the 
Novels of Zola. Baudelaire is the Poet, Zola the Novelist, 
of sensations of smell. Nor is it always the delicate per- 
fumes only that are made the subject of their analysis. 
Stendhal explains mankind exclusively by physiology. 
His philosophy is that of Helvetius, d'Holbach, La Mettrie, 
who derived all the faculties from sensation. For him 
soul is temperament ; " there is no such thing as morality." 


In his eyes Free Will is a contradiction, is an absurdity. 1 
The aim of life is the cultivation of sensations, and Love 
itself is merely one of these. When Mlle, de la Mole, in 
Rouge et Noir, takes count of the love she feels for Julien, 
what does she find in it? why! a group of sensations! 
" I have the bliss to be in love, she said to herself one day, 
with a transport of incredible joy ; I am in love, in love, 
no doubt of it ! At my age, where should a girl, young, 
pretty and clever, find sensations, if not in Love?" 2 — "In 
all her life, never had a sensation so purely delightful, so 
deeply moving, stirred Mme. de Rénal." — Julien looks upon 
his love for Mlle, de Mole simply as a means of tasting the 
keenest pleasures, which the most elegant civilization has 
united in her person. — Sensualist to the core, Stendhal is 
a determinist as well. According to him, women are 
incapable of virtue; the resistance they offer is only a 
farce ; when they make laments at having been ravished, 
it is a lying pretence. How many young men, corrupted 
by these sophistries, which are psychological mistakes, 
have endeavoured to put in practice this theory of seduc- 
tion, and have ended as criminals ! Stendhal may say 
what he pleases, but there are women who resist so firmly 
that they will let themselves be murdered rather than yield. 
Such women are met with even among savages. 3 I have 
seen cases myself where a young girl, who had been 
violated, fainted away with grief and shame. It is im- 
possible to recount all the cases of rape I have become 
acquainted with as a Magistrate ; I will content myself 
with quoting two. A girl of eighteen, having gone on 
board ship at Gaëta to cross to Marseilles, was ravished 
on the voyage by the Mate. To save his comrade, the 
Captain made the sailors all swear to say nothing, and 
the girl herself not to divulge the violence that had been 
offered her. — In another case, a lady, who had been the 

1 De rameur, ch. v. — See also VArt et la vie de Stendhal, p. 406. 

* Le Rouge et le noir, ch. xii. 

* Livingstone, Exploration of the Zambesi, p. 153. Cameron, Across 
Africa, p. 58. 


victim of an attempt at rape, conceived so fierce a passion 
of indignation against her assailant, that she killed him 
some days afterwards. — This reminds me of the heroism 
of the wife of a Gallic chief, who was ravished by a Roman 
Centurion, and had him murdered in consequence ; before 
embracing her husband, she threw down the Centurion's 
head at his feet. 1 Women resist so stoutly, that it is shown 
by judicial investigation that their bodies are covered with 
bruises and injuries. Indeed prisoners charged with rape 
sometimes admit the vigorous resistance they have en- 
countered. History is full of stories of women who have 
killed themselves to escape violation or shame. 

The influence exerted by Stendhal on contemporary 
Literature and public Morality has been considerable and 
pernicious; and it still continues. Balzac, Mérimée, 
Taine, Bourget, Zola 2 have all been bitten by this Writer's 
psychology, and have copied from his Novels. M. Bourget 
has borrowed of him the expression " state of soul," which 
occurs so frequently in his books. Nevertheless, in spite 
of his admiration for the Author, he admits freely he has 
known Le Rouge et le Noir " produce under certain circum- 
stances in the brains of young people an incurable intoxi- 
cation." 3 He has recovered himself, but how many other 
readers have remained fatally affected, unable to eliminate 
from their minds the poison of suchlike sophistries! 
Among the causes leading to the degradation of mind 
and heart in Robert Greslou, Bourget specially mentions 
the influence of this book Rouge et Noir, 

Balzac's Novels, like Stendhal's, are sensualistic and 
determinist. He too has put a great deal of bad physi- 

1 The incident is related by Livy, lxxxviii. § 24, and by Valerius Maximus, 
Ivi. ch. i. No. 2. 

2 Balzac said, speaking of the Chartreuse de Parme, that it was a book in 
which the sublime is conspicuous on every page. Stendhal was the master of 
Mérimée, who wrote a highly appreciative notice of him. Taine, who 
borrowed from Stendhal his theory of heredity, and environment in place 
and time, calls him " the greatest psychologist of the present and of preceding 
centuries."—" He is our father, the father of all of us, like Balzac/* Zola 

3 Bourget, Essais de psychologie contemporaine, p. 309. 


ology into his books. In his Physiologie du Mariage, he 
draws his inspiration from Broussais and recommends the 
use of mustard-plasters and the application of leeches to 
make women virtuous. If Balzac really supposes female 
virtue depends on the application of leeches, it follows 
he believes women not to po