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Full text of "Mademoiselle de Maupin : a romance of love and passion"

OAK ST. HDSF 




LI B R.AR.Y 

OF THL 

UNIVERSITY 
OF ILLINOIS 




Return this book on or before the 
Latest Date starnped below. 

University of Illinois Library 






J1JN 14 196 



L161 H41 



REPRESENTATIVE FRENCH FICTION 

Complete and accurate Translations, elegantly 
printed and bound, price 8s 6d. 



By THKOPHILK GAUTIER. 

MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN, a Romance of 
Love and Passion. 

" The Golden Rook of Spirit and Sense, the Holy Writ of Beauty." A. C. SWIN- 
BURNE. 

"Gautier is an inimitable model. His manner is so light and true, so really creative, 
his fancy so alert, his taste so happy, his humour so genial, that he makes illusion almost 
as contagious as laughter." MR HENRY JAMES. 



By GUSTAVE FLAUBERT. 
SALAMBO. 

TRANSLATED FROM THE FRENCH "EDITION DEFINITIVE" 

BY J. S. CHARTRES. 

" The Translator has thoroughly understood the original, and has succeeded in putting 
it into good English. The type, paper, and material execution of the volume, inside and 
out, leave nothing to be desired." Wi'slminstir Review, 

MADAME BOVARY: Provincial Manners 

TRANSLATED BY E. MARX-AVELING. With an Introduction and 
Notes of the Proceedings against the Author before the " Tribunal 
Correctionnel " of Paris. 

" ' Madame Rovary ' grips your very vitals with an invincible power, like some scene 
you have really witnessed, some event which is actually happening; before your eyes. 
EMILE ZOLA. 



REPRESENTATIVE FRENCH FICTION continued 



By E. and J. DE GONCOURT. 
RENEE MAUPERIN. 

" One of the most pathetic romances of our day. Running through almost the whole 
gamut of human passion, it has the alternatives of sunshine and shade that exist in real 
life." Homing Ppst. 

GERMINIE LACERTEUX. 

"For myself, I can say that I could not lay the book down for a moment until I had 
finished it." Letters on Books in Truth. 

By PAUL BOURGET. 
A LOVE CRIME. 

From the l"jth French Edition. 

"Who could take up such books, by the way admirably translated, and not be simply 
and absolutely spellbound ?" Tnith. 

By HENRI MURGER. 

THE BOHEMIANS OF THE LATIN 
QUARTER. 

" The story is full of laughter-provoking episodes, and there is no lack of jiathos for those 
who can see beneath the surface of wild heedlessness." Academy. 

By GEORGES OHNET. 
THE MARL-PIT MYSTERY. 

WILL. 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN 



BY 

THEOPHILE GAUTIER 



LONDON 

GIBBINGS & COMPANY, .LIMITED 
1 8 BURY STREET, W.C. 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 




PREFACE. 

NE of the greatest burlesques of the glorious 
epoch at which we have the good fortune to 
live, is unquestionably the rehabilitation of 
virtue undertaken by all the journals of every 
hue, red, green, or tri-coloured. 

Virtue is assuredly very respectable, and 
we have no wish to fail in respect to her, 
God forbid ! good and worthy woman that she is ! We think 
that her eyes are brilliant enough through their spectacles, that 
-. her leg is neatly gartered, that she takes her snuff in her gold box 
with all imaginable grace, that her little dog bows like a dancing- 
master. We think all this. We will even acknowledge that for 
x , her age, she is, in point of fact, not so much amiss, and that 
' $he carries her years as well as can be. She is a very agreeable 
xj grandmother but she is a grandmother. It seems to me 
,7 natural, especially at twenty years of age, to prefer some little 
-^immorality, very spruce and coquettish, and very good-natured, 
>,Svith her hair a little uncurled, her skirt short rather than long, 
s an enticing foot and eye, her cheek lightly kindled, laughter 
^ on her lips, and her heart in her hand. The most monstrously 
"^ virtuous iournalists cannot be of a different opinion, and if 

4 



to MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

they say the contrary, it is very probable that they do not 
think it. To think one thing and write another happens every 
day, especially in the case of virtuous people 

I remember the jokes launched before the Revolution (that 
of July, I mean) against the unfortunate and virginal Viscount 
Sosthene de La Rochefoucauld, who lengthened the skirts of 
the dancers at the Opera, and with his own patrician hands 
applied a modest plaster to the middle of all the statues. 
Viscount Sosthene de La Rochefoucauld has been far sur- 
passed. Modesty has been greatly improved upon since that 
time, and we now indulge in refinements which he would not 
have dreamed of. 

For my own part, not being accustomed to look at statues 
in certain places, I thought, like other people, that the vine 
leaf carved by the chisels of the superintendent of the fine 
arts was the most ridiculous thing in the world. It appears 
that I was wrong, and that the vine leaf is among the most 
meritorious of institutions. 

I have been told I refused to believe it, so singular did 
it seem to me that people existed, who, standing before 
Michael Angelo's " Last Judgment," saw nothing in it but 
the episode of the licentious prelates, and veiled their faces, 
as they cried out against the abomination of the desolation ! 

Such people, too, know nothing of the romance of Rodrigo 
save the verse about the snake. If there is any nakedness 
in a picture or a book they go straight to it. like swine to 
the mire, without troubling themselves about the full-blown 
flowers, or the beautiful golden fruit which hang in every 
direction. 

I confess that I am not vir'uous enough for that. The 
impudent abigail Dorine may safely display her plump breast 
before me. I shall certainly not take out my pocket-hand- 
kerchief to cover the bosom that cannot be seen. I shall 
look at her breast as at her face, and, if it is white and well- 
formed, I shall take pleasure in it ; but I shall not try whether 
Elmire's dress is soft, nor push her in a saintly way towards 
the edge of the table, as did the pitiful Tartuffe 



PREFACE. II 

The great affectation of morality which reigns at present 
would be very laughable, if it were not very tiresome. Every 
feuilleton becomes a pulpit, every journalist a preacher, 
and nothing but the tonsure and the little collar is wanting. 
Rainy weather and homilies are the order of the day ; we 
protect ourselves from the one by not going out except in a 
carriage, and from the other by reading Pantagruel again with 
bottle and pipe. 

Good heavens! what exasperation! what fury! Who has 
bitten you? Who has stung you? What the deuce is the 
matter with you, that you make such an outcry, and what has 
this poor vice done to you, that he has so much of your 
ill-will, he who is such a good fellow and so easy-going, and 
who only asks to amuse himself without annoying other people, 
if that be possible? Do with vice as Serre did with the 
gendarme : embrace each other, and let all this come to an 
end. Believe me, it will do you good. Why, good heavens ! 
worthy preachers, what would you do without vice ? You 
would be reduced to beggary from to-morrow, if people became 
virtuous to-day. 

The theatres would be closed this evening. What sub- 
jects would you have for your feuilletons ? No more balls 
at the opera-house to fill your columns ; no more novels to 
cut up ; for balls, novels, and comedies are veritable pomps 
of Satan, if we are to believe our Holy Mother the Church. 
The actress would send away her lover, and could no longer 
pay you for your praise. People would cease to subscribe 
to your papers ; they would read Saint Augustine, and go to 
church and tell their beads. That might perhaps be all very 
well, but most certainly you would gain nothing by it. It 
people were virtuous, what would you do with your tirades 
against the immorality of the century ? You see that vice is 
good for something after all. 

But it is the fashion now to be virtuous and Christian ; 
people have taken a turn for it. They affect Saint Jerome as 
formerly they affected Don Juan ; they are pale and macerated, 
they wear their hair apostle-wise, they walk with clasped hands 



12 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

and with eyes fixed on the ground ; they have a Bible open 
on the mantelpiece, and a crucifix and some consecrated box- 
wood by the bed; they swear no longer, smoke little, and 
scarcely chew at all. 

Then they are Christians, and speak of the sacredness of 
art, the lofty mission of the artist, the poetry of Catholicism, 
Monsieur de Lamennais, the painters of the Angelic school, the 
Council of Trent, progressive humanity, and a thousand other 
fine things. Some infuse a little Republicanism into their 
religion, and these are not the least curious. They couple 
Robespierre and Jesus Christ in the most jovial fashion, and, 
with a seriousness worthy of praise, amalgamate the Acts of 
the Apostles and the decrees of the holy Convention, to use 
the sacramental epithet ; others, as a last ingredient, add a 
few Saint-Simonian ideas. Such persons are complete down to 
the ground ; they cannot be excelled. It is not given to 
human absurdity to go further has ultra metas, &c., they are 
the pillars of Hercules of burlesque. 

Christianity is so much in vogue, owing to the prevalent 
hypocrisy, that neo-Christianity itself enjoys a certain favour. 
They say that it even possesses an adept, including Monsieur 
Drouineau. 

An extremely curious variety of the moral journalist, pro- 
perly so-called, is the female-family journalist. 

He pushes chaste susceptibility as far as anthropophagy, or 
to within little of it. 

His manner of procedure, though simple and easy at first 
sight, is none the less facetious and superlatively diverting, 
and I think that it is worth preserving for posterity for our 
children's children, as the perukes of the so-called "grand 
century " would say. 

First, in order to pose as a journalist of this species, a few 
little preparatory utensils are needful such as two or three 
wedded wives, a few mothers, as many sisters as possible, a 
complete assortment of daughters, and female cousins with- 
out number. Next there is required a theatrical piece or a 
novel, a pen, ink, paper, and a printer It might, perhaps, be 



PREFACE. 13 

as well to have an idea and several subscribers, but with a 
good deal of philosophy and shareholders' money, it is possible 
to do without them. 

When you have all this you may set up as a moral journalist. 
The two following recipes, suitably varied, are sufficient for 
the editing : 

Models of Virtuous Articles on a First Performance, 

" After the literature of blood, the literature of mire ; after 
the Morgue and the galleys, the alcove and the lupanar ; after 
rags stained by murder, rags stained by debauchery ; after, &c. 
(according to necessity and the space available, this strain may 
be continued from six lines up to fifty or more) this is justice. 
See whither forgetfulness of wholesome doctrine and romantic 
licentiousness lead us : the theatre has become a school for 
prostitution, into which it is impossible to venture, without 
trembling, in the company of a woman you respect. You 
come trusting to an illustrious name, and you are obliged to 
withdraw at the third act, with your young daughter, quite 
disconcerted and out of countenance. Your wife hides her 
blushes behind her fan ; your sister, your female cousin, &c." 
(The titles of relationship may be diversified ; it is enough if 
they are those of females.) 

Note. There is one who has pushed his morality so far as 
to say : " I will not go to see this drama with my mistress." 
That man I admire and love ; I carry him in my heart, as 
Louis XVIII carried the whole of France in his bosom ; for 
he has had the most triumphant, colossal, irregular, and luxorian 
idea that has entered the brain of man, out of all the numerous 
droll ideas conceived in this blessed nineteenth century. 

The method of giving an account of a book is very expedi- 
tious, and within the reach of every capacity : 

"If you wish to read this book, shut yourself up carefully at 
home ; do not let it lie about on the table. If your wife or 
your daughter were to open it, she would be lost. It is a 



14 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

dangerous book, and it counsels vice. It would, perhaps, have 
had a great success in the time of Cre*billon, in the petites 
maisons, at the delicate suppers of the duchesses ; but now that 
morals are purified, that the hand of the people has overthrown 

the worm-eaten structure of the aristocracy, &c., &c., that 

that that there must be in every work an idea a 

religious and moral idea, which a view, lofty and profound, 

answering to the needs of humanity ; for it is deplorable that 
young writers should sacrifice the most holy things to success, 
and employ an otherwise estimable talent in lewd pictures 
which would make a captain of dragoons blush. (The virginity 
of the captain of dragoons is the finest discovery, next to that 
of America, which has been made for a long time.) The novel 
we are reviewing recalls ' Therese Philosophe,' ' Felicia,' 
'Compere Mathieu,' and the 'Contes de Grecourt."' The 
virtuous journalist has immense erudition in the matter of 
filthy novels. It would be curious to know why. 

It is frightful to think that, by order of the newspapers, 
there are many honest manufacturers who have only these two 
recipes to live on, they and the numerous family that they 
employ. 

Apparently I am the most enormously immoral personage to 
be found in Europe or elsewhere, for I see nothing more 
licentious in the novels and comedies of to-day than in the 
novels and comedies of former times, and I cannot well under- 
stand why the ears of the gentlemen of the press should have 
suddenly become so Jansenically delicate. 

I do not think that the most innocent journalist dare say 
that Pigault-Lebrun, the younger Cre"billon, Louvet, Voisenon, 
Marmontel, and all other makers of romances and novels, do 
not surpass in immorality, since immorality there is, the most 
disordered and licentious productions of Messrs. So-and-so, 
whom I do not mention by name out of regard for their 
modesty. 

It would need the most signal bad faith not to acknow 
ledge it. 

Let it not be objected that I have here adduced names iittle 



PREFACE. 15 

or imperfectly known. If I have not alluded to illustrious and 
monumental names, it is not that they do not support my 
assertion with their great authority. 

Except for the difference in merit, the romances and taL 
of Voltaire are assuredly not much more susceptible of beir^ 
given as prizes to little boarding-school Misses than are the 
immoral tales of our friend the lycanthropist, or even the moral 
tales of the mealy-mouthed Marmontel. 

What do we see in the comedies of the great Moliere? 
The holy institution of marriage (to adopt the style of catechism 
and journalist) mocked and turned into ridicule in every 
scene. 

The husband is old, ugly, and eccentric ; he wears his wig 
awry, his coat has gone out of fashion, he has a bill-headed 
cane, his nose is daubed with snuff, his legs are short, and his 
abdomen is as big as a budget. He sputters, speaks only 
folly, and acts suitably to his words ; he sees nothing and hears 
nothing ; his wife is kissed to his very beard, and he does not 
know what is going on. This lasts until he has been well and 
duly proved a cuckold in his own eyes and in the eyes of the 
whole highly edified house, which applauds enthusiastically. 

Those who applaud the most are those who are married the 
most. 

Marriage in Moliere is called George Dandin or Sganarelle. 

Adultery, Damis, or Clitandre ; there is no name sweet and 
charming enough for it. 

The adulterer is always young, handsome, well-made, and a 
marquis, at the least. He enters humming the latest couranto 
in an aside ; he makes one or two steps on the stage with the 
most deliberate and triumphant air in the world ; he scratches 
his ear with the rosy nail of his coquettishly opened little ringer ; 
he combs his beautiful fair hair with his tortoise-shell comb, 
and adjusts the legs of his trousers, which are of great size. 
His doublet and hose are hidden beneath aigulets and bows of 
ribbon, his neck-band is by the best maker ; his gloves smell 
better than benjamin and civet ; his plumes have cost a louis 
the spray. 



16 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUFIN. 

How fiery his eye and how blooming his cheek ! how 
smiling his mouth ! how white his teeth ! how soft and well- 
washed his hands ! 

He speaks, and we have nothing but madrigals and perfumed 
gallantries delivered in a fine affected style, and with the best 
air ; he has read romances and knows poetry ; he is valiant 
and ready to draw ; he scatters gold with open hand. Thus 
Angelique, Agnes, and Isabelle, can scarcely restrain themselves 
from leaping upon his neck, well-bred and great ladies though 
they be, and the husband is duly deceived in the fifth act, 
fortunate if he has not been so from the first. 

This is the manner in which marriage is treated by Moliere, 
one of the loftiest and weightiest geniuses that have ever 
lived. Do people think that there is anything stronger in 
the speeches in " Indiana " or " Valentine " ? 

Paternity is still less respected, if that be possible. Look at 
Orgon, look at Ge'ronte, look at all of them. 

How they are robbed by their sons and beaten by their 
valets ! How are exposed, without pity for their age, their 
avarice, and their obstinacy, and their imbecility ! What 
jestings ! what mystifications ! How they are shouldered out 
of life, these poor old men who are slow about dying, and 
will on no account give up their money ! How the eternity 
of parents is spoken of! What speeches against heredity, and 
how much more convincing they are than all the Saint- 
Simonian declamations ! 

A father is an ogre, an Argus, a gaoler, a tyrant, a something 
which at the very most is only good for delaying a marriage, 
during three acts, until the final denouement. A father is as 
ridiculous as the most ridiculous husband. A son is never 
ridiculous in Moliere, for Moliere, like all authors of all possible 
times, paid court to the youthful generation at the expense of 
the old. 

And the Scapins, with their cloaks striped in Neapolitan 
/ashion, their cap on their ear, and their feather sweeping the 
flies are they not very pious people, very chaste, and deserving 
of canonisation ? The galleys are full of worthy people, who 



PREFACE. 17 

have not done a quarter of what they do. The cheatings 
of Trialph are petty in comparison with theirs. And the 
Lisettes and Martons, what wantons, ye gods, are they ! The 
courtesans of the streets are far from being so sharp as they 
are, so ready to give a smutty reply. How well they under- 
stand how to deliver a note ! how well they keep watch during 
a rendezvous ! They are, on my word, precious girls, and give 
excellent advice. 

'Tis a charming society that moves and walks through 
these comedies and imbroglios. Duped guardians, cuckolded 
husbands, libertine attendants, cunning valets, young ladies 
madly in love, debauched sons, adulterous wives are they 
not all quite equal to the melancholy young beaux, and the 
poor, weak, oppressed, and impassioned young women of the 
dramas and novels by our fashionable authors ? 

And withal the denouements, minus the final dagger-blow 
and minus the necessary cup of poison, are as happy as 
those in fairy tales, and everybody, even the husband himself, 
is always as pleased as possible. In Moliere virtue is always 
disgraced and thrashed; it wears the horns, and offers its 
back to Mascarille ; morality may just, perhaps, put in a single 
appearance at the end of the piece, under the somewhat 
homely personification of police-officer Loyal. 

In all that we have just said we have had no intention of 
chipping the corners of Moliere's pedestal ; we are not foolish 
enough to try to shake this bronze colossus with our puny 
arms ; we simply wished to demonstrate to the pious 
journalists, who are shocked by recent romantic works, that 
the ancient classics, which every day they recommend us 
to read and imitate, far surpass them in wantonness and 
immorality. 

With Moliere we might easily join both Marivaux and La 
Fontaine, those two very opposite expressions of the French 
character, and Regnier, and Rabelais, and Marot, and many 
others. But our intention is not to construct here, a propos 
of morality, a course of literature for the use of the virgins of 
the feuilleton. 



18 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

It seems to me that they should not make so much ado 
about so little. We are, happily, no longer in the time of the 
fair Eve, and we cannot in conscience be as primitive and 
patriarchal as they were in the Ark, We are not little girls 
preparing for their first communion, and when we play at 
Crambo we do not answer "cream-tart." Our artlessness is 
tolerably knowing, and our virginity has been about town for a 
long time. These are among the things which we cannot have 
twice, and do what we may, we cannot recover them ; for there 
is nothing in the world that goes more quickly than a virginity 
which departs and an illusion which takes to flight. 

Perhaps after all there is no great harm done, and the know- 
ledge of everything is preferable to the ignorance of everything. 
It is a question that I leave to be discussed by those who are 
more learned than I. The world has, at all events, passed the 
age when we can counterfeit modesty and bashfulness, and I 
think it too old a grey-beard to be able to play the child and 
virgin without making itself ridiculous. 

Since her marriage with civilisation, society has lost the right 
of being ingenuous and bashful. There are certain blushings 
which are still admissible at bed-time on the part of the bride, 
and which can be of no further service on the morrow; for 
the young woman perhaps remembers the young girl no longer, 
or, if she does, it is a very indecent thing, and seriously 
compromises her husband's reputation. 

When I chance to read one of the fine sermons which have 
taken the place of literary criticism in the public prints, I am 
sometimes seized with great remorse and apprehension, I who 
have on my conscience sundry small jokes somewhat too 
highly spiced, such as a young man with life and spirit may 
have to reproach himself with. 

Beside these Eossuets of the Cafe de Paris, these Bourdaloues 
of the balcony at the Opera, these Catos at so much a line, 
who scold the century in such fine fashion, I, in fact, look upon 
myself as the most terrible rascal that has ever polluted the 
face of the earth, and yet, heaven knows, the nomenclature of 
my sins, capital as well as venial, with the margins and spaces 



PREFACE. 19 

strictly observed, would scarcely, in the hands of the most skil- 
ful bookseller, make up one or two octavo volumes a day, 
which is little enough for one who makes no pretension of 
going to paradise in the next world, and of winning the 
Monthyon prize or of carrying off the rose in this. 

Then, when I think that I have met with rather a large 
number of these dragons of virtue beneath the table, and even 
elsewhere, I get a better opinion of myself, and estimate that, 
with all the faults that I may have, they have another, which 
is, in my eyes, the very greatest and worst of all, and that is 
hypocrisy. 

If we looked carefully, we might perhaps find another little 
vice to add, but it is one so hideous, that in truth I scarcely 
dare name it. Come close, and I will whisper its name into 
your ear : it is envy. 

Envy, and nothing else. 

It is this that goes creeping and winding through all these 
paternal homilies. However careful it may be to conceal itself, 
it may from time to time be seen gleaming above metaphors 
and figures of rhetoric with its little flat viper's head ; it may be 
surprised licking its venom-blued lips with its forked tongue ; 
it may be heard hissing softly in the shade of an insidious 
epithet. 

I know perfectly well that it is insufferable conceit to pretend 
that you are envied, and that it is almost as nauseous as a cox- 
comb vaunting his good fortune. I am not so boastful as to 
believe that I am hated and envied ; that is a happiness which 
is not given to everybody, and it will probably be long before I 
have it. Thus I shall speak freely and unreservedly, as one 
quite disinterested in the matter. 

One thing which is certain and easy of demonstration to those 
who might doubt its existence, is the natural antipathy of the 
critic to the poet, of him who makes nothing to him who 
makes something, of the drone to the bee, of the gelding to 
the stallion. 

You do not become a critic until it has been completely 
established to your own satisfaction that you canaat be a poet. 



20 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

Before descending to the melancholy office of taking care of the 
cloaks, and noting the strokes like a billiard-marker or a servant 
at the tennis-court, you long courted the Muse and sought to 
win her virginity ; but you had not sufficient vigour to do so, your 
breath failed you, and you fell back pale and worn to the foot 
of the holy mountain. 

I can understand this hatred. It is painful to see another 
sit down at a banquet to which you have not been invited, and 
sleep with a woman who would have nothing to say to you. 
With all my heart, I pity the poor eunuch who is obliged to be 
present at the diversions of the Grand Seignior. 

He is admitted into the most secret depths of the Oda ; he 
conducts the Sultanas to the bath ; he sees their beautiful 
bodies glistening beneath the silver water of the great reservoirs, 
streaming with pearls and smoother than agates; the most 
hidden beauties are unveiled to him. His presence is no 
restraint he is a eunuch. The Sultan caresses his favourite 
before him, and kisses her on her pomegranate lips. His 
position is, in truth, a very false one, and he must feel greatly 
embarrassed. 

It is the same with the critic who sees the poet walking in 
the garden of poesy with his nine fair odalisques, and dis- 
porting idly in the shade of large green laurels. It is difficult 
for him not to pick up the stones on the highway to cast them 
at him, and, if he be skilful enough to do so, wound him behind 
his own wall. 

The critic who has produced nothing is a coward, like an 
Abbe who courts the wife of a layman. The latter can neither 
retaliate nor fight with him. 

I think that the history of the different ways of depreciating 
any work for a month past would be at least as curious as 
that of Teglath-Phalasar or Gemmagog who invented pointed 
shoes. 

There are materials enough for fifteen or sixteen folios, but 
we will take pity on the reader and confine ourselves to a 
few lines a benefit for which we expect more than eternal 
gratitude. At a very remote epoch, which is lost in the mist 



PREFACE. 21 

of ages, very nearly three weeks ago, the romance of the middle 
ages flourished principally in Paris and the suburbs. The 
coat of arms was held in great honour ; head-dresses, a la 
Hennin, were not despised, parti-coloured trousers were 
esteemed ; the dagger was beyond all price ; the pointed shoe 
was worshipped like a fetich. There was nothing but ogives, 
turrets, little columns, coloured glass, cathedrals, and strong 
castles ; there was nothing but damozels and squires, pages 
and varlets, vagrants and veterans, gallant knights and fierce 
castellans ; all being things which were certainly more innocent 
than innocent pastimes, and which did nobody any harm. 

The critic had not waited for the second romance in order 
to begin his work of depreciation. No sooner had the first 
appeared than he had wrapped himself up in his cloth of 
camel's hair, poured a bushel of ashes on his head, and then, 
assuming that loud and doleful tone of his, begun to cry 
out: 

" Still the middle ages, always the middle ages ! who will 
deliver me from the middle ages, from these middle ages that 
are not the middle ages? Middle ages of cardboard and 
baked clay, which have nothing of the middle ages but their 
name. O the iron barons in their iron armour, with their 
iron hearts in their iron breasts ! O the cathedrals with 
their ever full-blown roses, and their flowered glass, their lace- 
work of granite, their open trefoils, their gables cut like a saw, 
their stone chasubles embroidered like a bride's veil, their 
tapers, their chants, their glittering priests, their kneeling 
people, their droning organs, and their angels hovering and 
flapping their wings beneath the vaulted roofs ! How have they 
spoiled my middle ages, my middle ages so delicate and bright ! 
How have they hidden them beneath a coating of coarse 
badigeon ! What loud over-colouring ! Ah ! ignorant daubers, 
who think that you have produced colour by laying red upon 
blue, white upon black, and green upon yellow ; you have 
seen nothing of the middle ages but their shell, you have not 
divined the soul of the middle ages, no blood circulates 
beneath the skin with which you clothe your phantoms, there 



22 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUP1N. 

is no heart in your corselets of steel, there are no legs in your 
trousers of wool, there is neither body nor breast behind your 
emblazoned skirts. They are garments having human form, 
and that is all. Then away with the middle ages, as they have 
been made by the fabricators (the word is out ! the fabricators !) 
The middle ages are unsuitable now ; we want something 
else." 

And the public, seeing the journalists barking against the 
middle ages, was seized with a great passion for these poor 
middle ages, which they pretended that they had slain at a 
blow. The middle ages invaded everything, assisted by the 
obstruction of the papers; dramas, melodramas, romances, 
novels, poems, there were even vaudevilles of the middle ages, 
and Momus repeated feudal jollities. 

By the side of the romance of the middle ages sprouted the 
carrion romance, a very agreeable kind, largely consumed by 
nervous women of fashion and blase cooks. 

The journalists very soon scented it out, as crows do the 
quarry, and with the beaks of their pens they dismembered 
and wickedly put to death this poor species of romance, which 
only sought to prosper and putrefy peaceably on the greasy 
shelves of circulating libraries What did they not say ? What 
did they not write ? Literature of the Morgue or the galleys, 
nightmare of the hangman, hallucination of drunken butchers 
and hot-fevered convict-keepers ! They benignly gave us to 
understand that the authors were assassins and vampires, that 
they had contracted the vicious habit of killing their fathers 
and mothers, that they drank blood in skulls, used tibias 
instead of forks, and cut their bread with a guillotine. 

And yet, seeing that they had often breakfasted with them, 
no one knew better than they did that the authors of these 
charming butcheries were honourable men of family, gentle, and 
mixing in good society, white gloved, fashionably short-sighted, 
more ready to feed on beef-steaks than on human cutlets, and 
more accustomed to drink Bordeaux than the blood of young 
girls or new-born infants. And from having seen and touched 
their manuscripts, they knew perfectly well that they were 



PREFACE,. 23 

written with most virtuous ink upon English paper, and not 
with blood from the guillotine upon the skin of a Christian 
flayed alive. 

But do or say what they might, the age was disposed for 
carrion, and the charnel-house pleased it better than the 
boudoir ; the reader could only be captured by a hook baited 
with a little corpse beginning to turn blue. A very conceivable 
thing ; put a rose at the end of your line, and spiders will have 
time enough to spin their webs in the bend of your arm you 
will not take the smallest fry ; but fasten on a worm or a bit of 
old cheese, and carp, barbel, perch, and eels will leap three feet 
out of the water to snap it. Men are not so different from fish 
as people seem generally to believe. 

You would have thought that the journalists had become 
Quakers, Brahmins, Pythagoreans, or bulls, they had suddenly 
taken such a horror to redness and blood. Never had they 
been seen so melting, so emollient ; it was like cream and 
whey. They admitted two colours only, sky-blue and apple- 
green. Pink was only tolerated, and they would have led the 
public, had it allowed them, to feed on spinach on the banks 
of the Lignon side by side with the sheep of Amaryllis. They 
had changed their black dress- coat for the turtledove-coloured 
jacket of Celadon or Silvander, and surrounded their goose- 
quills with tufts of roses and favours after the fashion of the 
pastoral crook. They allowed their hah to flow down like a 
child's, and they had manufactured virginities, according to 
Marion Delorme's recipe, in which they had succeeded as well 
as she did. 

They applied to literature the article of the Decalogue : 
" Thou shalt not kill." 

The smallest dramatic murder was no longer permitted, and 
the fifth act had become impossible. 

They deemed the dagger extravagant, poison monstrous, and 
the axe without excuse. They would have had dramatic heroes 
live to the age of Melchisedec, although it has been recog- 
nised from time immemorial that the end of all tragedy is to 
kill, in the last scene, a poor devil of a great man who cannot 



24 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

help himself, just as the end of all comedy is to unite matri- 
monially two fools of lovers each about sixty years of age. 

It was about this time that I threw into the fire (after taking 
duplicates, as is always done) two superb and magnificent 
dramas of the middle ages, one in verse and the other in prose, 
the heroes of which were quartered and boiled in the middle of 
the stage an incident which would have been very jovial and 
somewhat unprecedented. 

In order to conform to their ideas, I have since composed an 
ancient tragedy, in five acts, called " Heliogabalus," the hero oi 
which throws himself into the water-closet, an extremely novel 
situation which has the advantage of introducing a decoration 
not as yet seen on the stage. I have also written a modern 
drama far superior to " Antony," " Arthur, or the Fatal Man," in 
which the providential idea occurs in the shape of a Strasburg 
pate de foie gras, which the hero eats to the last crumb after 
effecting several rapes, and this joined to his remorse gives him 
an abominable attack of indigestion, of which he dies. A 
moral termination, if ever there was one, proving that God is 
fust, and that vice is always punished and virtue rewarded. 

As to the monstrous kind, you know how they have treated 
it, how they have settled Hans of Iceland, the man-eater; 
Habibrah, the Obi ; Quasimodo, the bell-ringer ; and Triboulet, 
who was only a hunchback; all that strangely swarming family 
all those gigantic creatures that my dear neighbour makes 
crawl and skip through the virgin forests and cathedrals of 
his romances. Neither grand features like Michael Angelo's, 
nor curiosities worthy of Callot, nor effects of light and shade 
after the manner of Goya nothing could find favour in their 
eyes ; they sent him back to his odes when he composed 
romances, and to his romances when he composed dramas 
tactics common with journalists, who always prefer what a man 
has done to what he does. Happy the man, nevertheless, who 
is recognised by the feuilleton writers as superior in all his 
works, excepting of course that one with which they are dealing, 
and who would only have to write a theological treatise or a 
cookery book to have his stage deemed admirable ! 



PREFACE. 25 

As for the romance of the heart, the ardent and impas- 
sioned romance whose father is the German Werther, and 
whose mother is the French Manon Lescaut, we have alluded, 
at the beginning of this preface, to the moral scurf which is 
desperately attached to it under pretence of religion and good 
morals. Critical lice are like bodily lice, which desert corpses 
to seek the living. From the corpse of the romance of the 
middle ages the critics have passed to the body of this other, 
whose skin is hard and healthy and might well injure their 
teeth. 

We think, in spite of all the respect that we have for the 
modern apostles, that the authors of the so-called immoral 
novels, without being married to the same extent as the vir- 
tuous journalists, have commonly enough a mother, and that 
many of them have sisters, and are abundantly provided with 
female relations ; but their mothers and sisters do not read 
novels, even immoral ones; they sew, embroider, and busy 
themselves with household matters. Their stockings, as 
Monsieur Planard would say, are perfectly white ; you may 
look at their legs, they are not blue ; and Chrysale, good man, 
who had such a hatred for leaned women, might hold them up 
as an example to the learned Philaminte. 

As to the spouses of these gentlemen, since they have so much 
of them, I certainly think that, however virginal their husbands 
may be, there are sundry things which they ought to know. 
It may be indeed that they have been taught nothing. In that 
case, I understand the anxiety to keep them in this precious 
and blessed state of ignorance. God is great, and Mahomet is 
His prophet ! Women are inquisitive ; Heaven and morality 
grant that they may satisfy their curiosity in a more legitimate 
fashion than did their grandmother Eve, and ask no questions 
of the serpent ! 

As for their daughters, if they have been to a boarding- 
school, I do not see what these books could teach them. 

It is as absurd to say that a man is a drunkard because he 
describes an orgie, or a debauchee because he recounts a 
debauch, as to pretend that a man is virtuous because he ha? 



26 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

written a moral book ; every day we see the contrary. It is 
the character who speaks and not the author ; the fact that his 
hero is an atheist does not make him an atheist ; his brigands 
act and speak like brigands, but he is not therefore a. brigand 
himself. At that rate it would be necessary to guillotine 
Shakespeare, Corneille, and all the tragic writers; they have 
committed more murders than Mandrin and Cartouche. This 
has, nevertheless, not been done, and I think that it will be 
long before it is done, however virtuous and moral criticism 
may come to be. It is one of the manias of these narrow- 
brained scribblers to substitute always the author for the work 
and have recourse to personalities, in order to give some poor 
scandalous interest to their wretched rhapsodies, which they 
are quite aware nobody would read if they contained only their 
own individual opinions. 

We find it hard to understand the purport of all this bawling, 
the good of all this temper and despair, and who it is that 
impels the miniature Geoffreys to constitute themselves the 
Don Quixotes of morality, and, like true literary policemen, to 
seize and cudgel, in the name of virtue, every idea which makes 
its appearance in a book with its mob-cap awry or its skirt 
tucked up a little too high. It is very singular. 

Say what they will, the age is an immoral one (if this word 
signifies anything, of which we have strong doubts), and 
we wish for no other proof than the quantity of immoral 
books it produces and the success that attends them. Looks 
follow morals, and not morals books. The Regency made 
Cre'billon, and not Crdbillon the Regency. Boucher's little 
shepherdesses had their faces painted and their bosoms bare, 
because the little marchionesses had the same. Pictures are 
made according to models, and not models according to 
pictures. Some one has said somewhere that literature and the 
arts influence morals. Whoever he was, he was undoubtedly a 
great fool. It was like saying green peas make the spring 
grow, whereas green peas grow because it is spring, and 
cherries because it is summer. Trees bear fruits ; it is certainly 
iot the fruits that bear the trees, and this law is eternal and 



PREFACE. 27 

invariable in its variety ; the centuries follow one another, and 
each bears its own fruit, which is not that of the preceding 
century ; books are the fruits of morals. 

By the side of the moral journalists, under this rain of 
homilies as under summer rain in some park, there has sprung 
up between the planks of the Saint-Simonian stage a theory 
of little mushrooms, of a novel and somewhat curious species, 
whose natural history we are about to give. 

These are the utilitarian critics. Poor fellows ! Their noses 
are too short to admit of their wearing spectacles, and yet they 
cannot see the length of their noses. 

If an author threw a volume of romance or poetry on their 
desk, these gentlemen would turn round carelessly in their easy 
chair, poise it on its hinder legs, and balancing themselves with 
a capable air, say loftily : 

" What purpose does this book serve ? How can it be 
applied for the moralisation and well-being of the poorest and 
most numerous class ? What ! not a word of the needs of 
society, nothing about civilisation and progress ? How can a 
man, instead of making the great synthesis of humanity, and 
pursuing the regenerating and providential idea through the 
events of history, how can he write novels and poems which 
lead to nothing, and do not advance our generation on the path 
of the future ? How can he busy himself with form, and style, 
and rhyme in the presence of such grave interests ? What are 
style, and rhyme, and form to us? They are of no conse- 
quence (poor foxes ! they are too sour). Society is suffering, it 
is a prey to great internal anguish (translate no one will sub- 
scribe to utilitarian journals). It is for the poet to seek the 
cause of this uneasiness and to cure it. He will find the means 
of doing so by sympathising from his heart and soul with 
humanity (philanthropic poets ! they would be something 
uncommon and charming). This poet we await, and on him 
we call with all our vows. When he appears, his will be the 
acclamations of the crowd, his the palm, his the crown, his the 
Prytaneum." 

Well and good 1 But as we wish our reader to remain 



28 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

awake until the end of this blissful preface, we shall not con- 
tinue this very faithful imitation of the utilitarian style, which is, 
in its nature, tolerably soporific, and might, with advantage, take 
the place of laudanum and Academic discourses. 

No, fools, no, goitrous cretins that you are, a book does not 
make gelatine soup ; a novel is not a pair of seamless boots ; a 
sonnet, a syringe with a continuous jet ; or a drama, a railwaj 
all things which are essentially civilising and adapted to 
advance humanity on its path of progress. 

By the guts of all the popes past, present, and future, no, and 
two hundred thousand times no ! 

We cannot make a cotton cap out of a metonymy, or put on 
a comparison like a slipper ; we cannot use an antithesis as an 
umbrella, and we cannot, unfortunately, lay a medley of rhymes 
on our body after the fashion of a waistcoat. I have an inti- 
mate conviction that an ode is too light a garment for winter, 
and that we should not be better clad in strophe, antistrophe, 
and epode than was the cynic's wife who contented herself 
with merely her virtue as chemise, and went about as naked 
as one's hand, so history relates. 

However, the celebrated Monsieur de La Calprenede had 
once a coat, and when asked of what material it was made, he 
replied, " Of Silvandre." Silvandre was the name of a piece 
which he had just brought out with success. 

Such arguments make one elevate one's shoulders above the 
head, and higher than the Duke of Gloucester's. 

People who pretend to be economists, and who wish to re- 
construct society from top to bottom, seriously advance similar 
nonsense. 

A novel has two uses one material and the other spiritual 
if we may employ such an expression in reference to a 
novel. Its material use means first of all some thousands of 
francs which find their way into the author's pocket, and 
ballast him in such a fashion that neither devil nor wind can 
carry him off; to the bookseller, it means a fine thoroughbred 
horse, pawing and prancing with its cabriolet of ebony and 
steei, as Figaro says ; to the papermaker, another mill beside 



PREFACE. 29 

some stream or other, and often the means of spoiling a fine 
site ; to the printers, some tons of logwood for the weekly 
staining of their throats ; to the circulating library, some piles of 
pence covered with very proletarian verdigris, and a quantity of 
fat which, if it were properly collected and utilised, would 
render whale-fishing superfluous. Its spiritual use is that 
when reading novels we sleep, and do not read useful, virtuous, 
and progressive journals, or other similarly indigestible and 
stupefying drugs. 

Let any one say after this that novels do not contribute to 
civilisation. I say nothing of tobacco-sellers, grocers, and 
dealers in fried potatoes, who have a very great interest in this 
branch of literature, the paper employed in it being commonly 
of a superior quality to that of newspapers. 

In truth, it is enough to make one burst with laughing to 
hear the dissertations of these Republican or Saint-Simonian 
utilitarian gentlemen. I should, first of all, very much like to 
know the precise meaning of this great lanky substantive with 
which the void in their columns is daily truffled, and which 
serves them as a Shibboleth and sacramental term utility. 
What is this word, and to what is it applicable ? 

There are two sorts of utility, and the meaning of the 
vocable is always a relative one. What is useful for one is 
not useful for another. You are a cobbler, I am a poet. It 
is useful to me to have my first verse rhyme with my second. 
A rhyming dictionary is of great utility to me ; you do not 
want it to cobble an old pair of boots, and it is only right to 
say that a shoe-knife would not be of great service to me in 
making an ode. To this you will object that a cobbler is far 
above a poet, and that people can do without the one better 
than without the other. Without affecting to disparage the 
illustrious profession of cobbler, which I honour equally with 
that of constitutional monarch, I humbly confess that I would 
rather have my shoe unstitched than my verse badly rhymed, 
and that I should be more willing to go without boots than 
without poems. Scarcely ever going out, and walking more 
skilfully with my head than with my feet, I wear out fewer shoes 



30 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

than a virtuous Republican, who is always hastening from one 
minister to another in the hope of having some place flung to 
him. 

I know that there are some who prefer mills to churches, 
and bread for the body to that for the soul. To such I have 
nothing to say. They deserve to be economists in this world 
and also in the next. 

Is there anything absolutely useful on this earth and in this 
life of ours ? To begin with, it is not very useful that we are on 
the earth and alive. I defy the most learned of the band to 
tell us of what use we are, unless it be to not subscribe to the 
" Constitutionnel," nor any other species of journal whatso- 
ever. 

Next, the utility of our existecce being admitted a priori, 
what are the things really useful lor supporting it ? Some 
soup and a piece of meat twice a day is all that is necessary to 
fill the stomach in the strict acceptation of the word. Man 
who finds a coffin six feet long by two wide more than sufficient 
after his death does not need much more room during his life. 
A hollow cube measuring seven or eight feet every way, with a 
hole to breathe through, a single cell in the hive, nothing 
more is wanted to lodge him and keep the rain off his back. 
A blanket properly rolled around his body will protect him as 
well and better against the cold than the most elegant and best 
cut dress coat by Staub. 

With this he will be able, literally, to subsist. It is truly 
said that it is possible to live on a shilling a day. But to 
prevent one's-self from dying is not living ; and I do not see in 
what respect a town organised after the utilitarian fashion 
would be more agreeable to dwell in than the cemetery of 
Pere-la-Chaise. 

Nothing that is beautiful is indispensable to life. You might 
suppress flowers, and the world would not suffer materially; yet 
who would wish that there were no more flowers ? I would 
rather give up potatoes than roses, and I think that there is 
none but an utilitarian in the world capable of pulling up a 
bed of tulips in order to plant cabbages therein. 



PREFACE. 31 

What is the use of women's beauty ? Provided that a 
woman be medically well formed, and in condition to bear 
children, she will always be good enough for economists. 

What is the good of music ? of painting ? Who would be 
foolish enough to prefer Mozart to Monsieur Carrel, and 
Michael Angelo to the inventor of white mustard ? 

There is nothing truly beautiful but that which can never be 
of any use whatsoever ; everything useful is ugly, for it is the 
expression of some need, and man's needs are ignoble and 
disgusting like his own poor and infirm nature. The most 
useful place in a house is the water-closet. 

For my own part, may it please these gentlemen, I am one 
of those to whom superfluity is a necessity and I like things 
and persons in an inverse ratio to the services that they 
render me. I prefer a Chinese vase, strewn with dragons 
and mandarins, and of no use to me whatever, to a certain utensil 
which is of service to me, and of my talents the one I esteem 
the most is my incapacity for guessing logogriphs and charades. 
I would most joyfully renounce my rights as a Frenchman and 
a citizen to see an authentic picture by Raphael, or a beautiful 
woman naked Princess Borghese, for instance, when she posed 
for Canova, or Julia Grisi entering her bath. I would willingly 
consent, so far as I am concerned, to the return of the anthro- 
pophagous Charles X, if he brought me back a hamper of 
Tokay or Johannisberger from his Bohemian castle, and I 
would deem the electoral laws sufficiently wide, if some streets 
were more so and some other things less. Although I am no 
dilletante, I would rather have the noise of fiddles and tam- 
bourines than that of the bell of the President of the Chamber. 
I would sell my breeches for a ring, and my bread for pre- 
serves. It appears to me that the most fitting occupation 
for a civilised man is to do nothing, or to smoke analytically 
his pipe or cigar. I also highly esteem those who play skittles 
and those who make good verses. You see that the utilitarian 
principles are far from being mine, and that I shall never be a 
contributor to a virtuous journal, unless, of course, I become 
converted, which would be rather comical. 



J2 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

Instead of offering a Monthyon prize as the reward of virtue, 
1 would rather, like that great but misunderstood philosopher 
Sardanapalus, give a large premium to any one inventing a new 
pleasure ; for enjoyment appears to me to be the end of life 
and the only useful thing in the world. God has willed it so, 
He who has made women, perfumes, light, beautiful flowers, 
good wines, frisky horses, greyhound-bitches, and Angora cats ; 
He who did not say to His angels, " Have virtue," but " Have 
love," and who has given us a rnouth more sensitive than the 
rest of our skin to kiss women, eyes raised on high to see the 
light, a subtle power of smell to breathe the soul of flowers, 
sinewy thighs to press the sides of stallions, and to fly as quick 
as thought without railway or steam-boiler, delicate hands to 
stroke the long head of a greyhound, the velvety back of a cat, 
and the smooth shoulders of a creature of easy virtue, and who 
finally has granted to us alone the triple and glorious privilege 
of drinking when without thirst, of striking a light, and of 
making love at all seasons, a privilege which distinguishes us 
from brutes far more than the custom of reading papers and 
fabricating charters. 

Good heavens ! what a foolish thing is this pretended per- 
fectibility of the human race which is continually being dinned 
into our ears ! One would think, in truth, that man is a 
machine susceptible of improvements, and that some wheel- 
work in better gear or a counterpoise more suitably placed 
would make him work in a more convenient and easy fashion. 
When they succeed in giving man a double stomach so that he 
may ruminate like an ox, or eyes at the other side of his head 
that, like Janus, he may see those who put out their tongues at 
him behind, and contemplate his indignity in a less incon- 
venient position than that of the Athenian Venus Callipyge, 
when they plant wings upon his shoulder-blades that he may 
not be obliged to pay threepence for an omnibus, and create 
a new organ for him, well and good : the word perfectibility 
will then begin to have some meaning. 

After all these fine improvements, what has been done that 
was not done as well and better before the flood ? 



PREFACE. 33 

Have people succeeded in drinking more than they drank 
in the times of ignorance and barbarity (old style) ? Alexander, 
the doubtful friend of the handsome Hephaestion, did not 
drink so badly, although in his time there was no " Journal of 
Useful Knowledge," and I do not know of any utilitarian 
who would be capable of draining the great drinking vessel 
that he called the cup of Hercules, without becoming oinopic 
and more swelled out than the younger Lepeintre or a 
hippopotamus. 

Marshal de Bassompierre, who emptied his great funnel- 
shaped boot to the health of the thirteen cantons, appears 
to me singularly worthy in his way and difficult to improve 
upon. 

What economist will enlarge our stomachs so as to contain 
as many beef-steaks as did the late Milo of Crotona who ate 
an ox ? The bill of fare of the Cafe Anglais, of VeTour's, or of 
any other culinary celebrity that you will, appears to me very 
meagre and oecumenical, compared with the bill of fare of 
Trimalcio's dinner. At what table do they now serve up a sow 
and her twelve young ones in a single dish ? Who has eaten 
sea-eels and lampreys fattened on man ? Do you really believe 
that Brillat-Savarin has improved on Apicius ? 

Could that great tripe-man of a Vitellius fill his famous 
Minerva's shield at Chevet's, with brains of pheasants and 
peacocks, tongues of flamingoes, and livers of scarus ? Your 
oysters from the Rocher de Cancale are truly rarities beside 
the Lucrine oysters, which had a sea made expressly for them. 
The little suburban villas of the Marquises of the Regency are 
wretched country-boxes in comparison with the villas of the 
Roman patricians at Baise, Caprase, and Tibur. Should not 
the Cyclopean magnificence of those great voluptuaries who 
built eternal monuments for the pleasures of a day make us fall 
flat on the ground before the genius of the ancients, and strike 
out for ever from our dictionaries the word perfectibility ? 

Have they invented a single capital sin the more ? Un- 
fortunately, there are but seven as before, a very moderate 
number of falls for the upright man per day. I do not even think 



34 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

that after a century of progress, at the rate we are going, any 
lover will be able to repeat the thirteenth labour of Hercules. 
Can a man be agreeable to his divinity even once oftener than 
in the time of Solomon ? Many very illustrious, learned men, 
and very respectable ladies, hold quite the contrary opinion, 
and maintain that amiability is decreasing. Well, then, what 
is the use of speaking of progress ? I am quite aware that 
you will tell me that we have an Upper and a Lower Chamber, 
that we hope that everybody will soon be an elector, and the 
number of representatives doubled or tripled. Do you think 
that there are not enough mistakes in French made as it 
is on the national tribune, and that there are too few for the 
evil work they have to plot ? I can scarcely understand 
the utility which consists in penning two or three hundred 
provincials in a wooden hut, with a ceiling painted by Monsieur 
Fragonard, to have them jumble and blunder any number of 
petty laws which are either atrocious or absurd. What matters 
it whether it be a sabre, an aspergill, or an umbrella that 
governs you ? It is always a stick, and I am astonished that 
men of progress should dispute about the choice of a cudgel 
to tickle their shoulders, when it would be much more pro- 
gressive and less expensive to break it and throw the pieces to 
all the devils. 

The only one among you who has common-sense is a 
madman, a great genius, an idiot, a divine poet far above 
Lamartine, Hugo, and Byron ; he is Charles Fourrier, the 
phalansterian, who is all this in himself alone : he alone has 
displayed logic with boldness enough to follow out its conse- 
quences to the end. He affirms without hesitation that men 
will soon have a tail fifteen feet long, with an eye at the 
extremity. This would certainly be progress, and would admit 
of our doing a thousand fine things previously impossible, 
such as killing elephants without striking a blow, swinging on 
trees without swings as conveniently as the best conditioned 
ape, doing without umbrella or parasol by spreading the tail 
over our heads like the squirrels, who get on very agreeably 
without gamps, together with other prerogatives which it would 



PREFACE. 35 

take too long to enumerate. Many phalansterians even pretend 
that they already have a small one, which is ready to become 
larger, if God but grant them life. 

Charles Fourrier has invented as many species of animals as 
Georges Cuvier the great naturalist. He has invented horses 
three times as big as elephants, dogs as large as tigers, fishes 
capable of satisfying more people than Jesus Christ's three 
fishes, which the incredulous Voltairians think were April ones, 
and I a magnificent parable. He has built towns, beside which 
Rome, Babvlon, and Tyre were but mole-hills ; he has piled 
Babels one upon the other, and raised spires to the clouds more 
infinite than any of these in John Martin's engravings ; he has 
conceived I know not how many orders of architecture and 
new condiments ; he has designed a theatre which would ap- 
pear grand even to the Romans of the Empire, and drawn up 
a bill of fare which Lucius or Nomentanus might perhaps have 
found sufficient for a dinner of friends ; he promises to create 
new pleasures, and to develop our organs and senses ; he is to 
render women more beautiful and voluptuous, and men more 
robust and vigorous ; he guarantees you against children, and 
proposes to reduce the number of the world's inhabitants, so 
that everybody may be at his ease, which is more reasonable 
than to urge the proletarians to produce others only to 
cannonade them afterwards in the streets when they multiply 
overmuch, and to send them bullets instead of bread. 

Progress is possible only in this way. All the rest is bitter 
mockery, witless buffoonery that is not even good enough to 
dupe gaping idiots. 

The phalanstery is truly an improvement on the Abbey of 
Theleme, and it definitively relegates the terrestrial paradise to 
the number of completely superannuated and old-fashioned 
things. The "Thousand and One Nights," and the "Tales 
of Madame d'Aulnoy," can alone wrestle successfully with 
the phalanstery. What fertility ! What invention ! There is 
sufficient in it to supply with the marvellous three thousand 
cart loads of romantic or classic poems ; and our versifiers, 
Academicians or not, are very sorry trouvercs if we compare 



36 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

them with Monsieur Charles Fourrier, the inventor of im- 
passioned attractions. The idea of making use of impulses, 
which up to the present people have sought to repress, is 
most assuredly a lofty and powerful one. 

You say that we are progressing ! If a volcano were to open 
its jaws to-morrow at Montmartre, and make a winding sheet of 
ashes and a tomb of lava for Paris, as Vesuvius did formerly 
for Stabia, Pompeii, and Herculaneum, and if after some thou- 
sands of years the antiquaries of the time were to dig and 
exhume the corpse of the dead town, what monument pray 
would still be standing to witness to the splendour of the 
great buried building, the Gothic Notre-Dame. They would 
obtain a fine idea of our arts by clearing out the Tuileries as 
touched up by Monsieur Fontaine ! The statues of the Pont 
Louis XV would have a fine effect when transferred to the 
museums of the day ! And if there were not the pictures of 
the ancient schools, and the statues of antiquity, or of the 
Renaissance heaped up in that long, shapeless interior, the 
gallery of the Louvre ; if there were not the ceiling by Ingres to 
prevent a belief that Paris had been but an encampment of 
barbarians, a village of Welches or Topinamboux, the things 
obtained from the excavations would be of a very curious 
nature. Sabres belonging to the National Guard, firemen's 
helmets, and coins struck with an unformed stamp, that is 
what they would find instead of the beautiful, curiously-chased 
armour which the middle ages have left beneath their towers 
and ruined tombs, and the medals which fill the Etruscan vases 
and pave the foundations of all the Roman structures. As to 
our wretched furniture of veneered wood, all those miserable 
boxes, so bare, so ugly, so insignificant, which are called chests 
of drawers and writing-tables, and all our formless and fragile 
utensils, I hope that time would have sufficient pity for them 
to destroy them without leaving a trace behind. 

Once upon a time we took a fancy to build a grand and 
magnificent monument. We were first of all obliged to 
borrow the plan from the ancient Romans ; and even before it 
was finished our Pantheon gave way on its legs, like a rickety 



PREFACE. 37 

child, and stumbled, like a pensioner dead drunk, so that it was 
necessary to furnish it with crutches of stone, without which it 
would have fallen pitifully at full length before the whole 
world, and provided the nations with food for laughter for more 
than a hundred years. We wished to set up an obelisk in one 
of our squares ; we had to go and filch it from Luxor, and we 
were two years bringing it home. Old Egypt bordered her 
highways with obelisks, as we do ours with poplar trees ; she 
carried bunches of them under her arms as a kitchen-gardener 
carries his bundles of asparagus, and cut out a monolith in the 
sides of her mountains of granite more easily than we shape a 
tooth-pick or an ear-pick. Some centuries ago they had 
Raphael, they had Michael Angelo ; now we have Monsieur 
Paul Delaroche, and all because we are making progress. 

You boast of your opera ; ten operas such as yours would 
dance the saraband in a Roman circus. Monsieur Martin 
himself, with his tame tiger and his poor lion, gouty and asleep, 
like a subscriber to the " Gazette," is something very wretched 
beside an ancient gladiator. What are your benefit perform- 
ances which last until two o'clock in the morning, when we 
think of these plays which lasted a hundred days, of those 
representations in which veritable vessels veritably fought in a 
veritable sea ; in which thousands of men conscientiously cut 
themselves to pieces ; turn pale, O heroic Franconi ! in 
which, when the sea had retired, there came the desert, with its 
tigers and roaring lions, terrible supers who served only for 
once, in which the leading part was filled by some robust 
Dacian or Pannonian athlete whom it would often have been 
very difficult to recall at the conclusion of the piece, and whose 
sweetheart was some beautiful and dainty Numidian lioness 
that had been fasting for three days ? Does not the elephant 
funambulist appear to you superior to Mademoiselle Georges ? 
Do you think that Mademoiselle Taglioni dances better than 
Arbuscula, and Perrot better than Bathyllus ? I am persuaded 
that Roscius might have given points to Bocage, excellent 
as the latter is. Galeria Coppiola played a young girl's part at 
more than a hundred years of age. It is right to say that the 



38 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

oldest of our young ladies is scarcely more than sixty, and that 
Mademoiselle Mars is not even progressing in that direction. 
They had two or three thousand gods in whom they believed, 
and we have only one in whom we scarcely believe at all. 
It is progression of a strange sort. Is not Jupiter something 
more than Don Juan, and a very different kind of seducer? 
In truth, I know not what we have invented or even improved 
upon. 

Next to the progressive journalists, and as if to serve as an 
antithesis to them, there come the blast: journalists, who are 
usually twenty or two-and-twenty years of age, who have never 
left their own neighbourhood, and have as yet slept only with 
their charwoman. Everything tires them, everything is too 
much for them, everything wearies them ; they are surfeited, 
blase, worn out, inaccessible. They know beforehand what 
you are going to tell them ; they have seen, felt, experienced, 
heard all that it is possible to see, feel, experience, and hear ; 
the human heart has no recess so secret that they have not 
turned their lantern upon it. They tell you with marvellous 
self-assurance : " The human heart is not like that ; women 
are not made so ; this character is untrue ; " or, perhaps, 
" What ! always love and hate ! always men and women ! Can- 
not people speak of something else ? But man is worn thread- 
bare, and women still more so, since Monsieur de Balzac has 
concerned himself with them. 

" ' Who will deliver us from men and women ? ' 

" You think, sir, that your fable is new ? It is so in the same 
way that the Pont-Neuf is; nothing in the world is more 
common ; I read it somewhere or other when I was at nurse 
or elsewhere ; it has been dinned into my ears for ten years 
past. Moreover, learn, sir, that there is nothing that I do not 
know, that everything is used up so far as I am concerned, and 
that were your idea as virginal as the Virgin Mary, I should 
none the less affirm that I had seen her prostitute herself on 
the roadsides with the pettiest of scribblers and poorest of 
pedants." 



PREFACE. 39 

These journalists have been the cause of Jocko, of the 
Monstre Vert, the Lyons of Mysore, and a thousand other fine 
inventions. 

They are continually complaining of being obliged to read 
books, and see pieces at the theatre. Apropos of a paltry 
vaudeville, they will talk to you of almond-trees in flower, balmy 
limes, the breeze of spring, and the fragrance of the young 
foliage ; they set up for lovers of nature after the fashion of 
young Werther, and yet have never set foot out of Paris, and 
could not tell a cabbage from a beet. If it is winter, they speak 
of the charms of the domestic hearth, the crackling fire, and 
irons, slippers, dreaming, and dozing ; they will not fail to quote 
the famous line from Tibullus, 

" Quam juvat immites ventos audire cubantem : " 

whereby they will give themselves the most charming little 
appearance in the world, at once disillusioned and ingenuous. 
They pose as men who have ceased to be influenced by the 
work of man, whom dramatic emotion leaves as cold and hard 
as the knife with which they mend their pen, and who never- 
theless cry, like J. J. Rousseau, " Voila la pervenche ! "* 
They profess a fierce antipathy to Gymnase colonels, American 
uncles, cousins male and female, sensitive old growlers, and 
romantic widows, and try to cure us of the vaudeville by 
proving to us every day in their feuilletons that all Frenchmen 
are not born clever. We do not, indeed, consider this a 
great evil, but the contrary, and we are delighted to acknow- 
ledge that the extinction of vaudeville or comic opera in France 
(national species) would be one of the greatest blessings from 
heaven. But I should like to know what kind of literature 
these gentlemen would allow to take its place. It is true that 
it could not be worse. 

Others preach against bad taste, and translate the tragic 
Seneca. Lastly, to bring up the rear, a new battalion of critics 
has been formed of a kind not seen before. 

* " Look at the periwinkle " (the flower), i.e. " the summer is coming." 
Translator's Note. 



4 o MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

Their critical formula is the most convenient, extensible, 
malleable, peremptory, superlative, and triumphant that a critic 
has ever conceived. Zoilus would certainly have profited by it. 

Hitherto, when it was wished to depreciate a work, or dis- 
credit it in the eyes of the patriarchal and ingenuous subscriber, 
false or perfidiously isolated quotations were made ; phrases 
were maimed and verses mutilated in such a fashion that the 
author even would have thought himself the most ridiculous 
person in the world ; he was charged with imaginary plagiarisms; 
passages in his book were compared with passages in ancient 
and modern authors with which they had not the least con- 
nection ; he was accused in kitchen style, and with many 
solecisms, of not knowing his own language, and of perverting 
the French of Racine and Voltaire ; it was seriously affirmed 
that his work had a tendency towards anthropophagy, and that 
its readers would infallibly become cannibals or hydrophobes 
in the course of the week ; but all this was poor and behind the 
time, as brazen-faced and fossilised as possible. The accusa- 
tion of immorality, dragged as it had been through feuilletons 
and "variety" columns, was becoming insufficient, and so un- 
serviceable, that scarcely any paper but the "Constitutionnel," 
a pure and progressive one, as is known, had the desperate 
courage still to employ it. 

Then was invented criticism of the future, prospective criticism. 
Can you not see at once how charming it is, and how it is the 
product of a fine imagination? The recipe is simple, and 
may be imparted to you. The book to be considered fine and 
worthy of praise is one that has not yet appeared. The book 
that appears is bound to be detestable. To-morrow's will be 
superb but it is always to-day. Such criticism is like the 
barber who had the following words for a sign written in large 
characters : 

SHAVING GRATIS HERE TO-MORROW. 

All the poor devils who read the placard promised themselves 
for the morrow the unspeakable and sovereign delight of having 
a shave for once in their lives without loosening their purse- 



PREFACE. 41 

strings, and for joy of it their beards grew half-a-foot on their 
chins in the course of the night preceding the lucky day ; but 
when they had the napkin round their necks, the barber asked 
them whether they had any money, and requested them to shell 
out, or he would treat them after the fashion of nutters and 
apple -gatherers in Le Perche; and he swore his most sacred 
oath that he would cut their throats with his razor if they did 
not pay. And when the poor beggars, in miserable and piti- 
ful plight, quoted the placard and the sacrosanct inscription, 
the barber said : "Ho, ho! iny fine fellows, you are no grept 
scholars, and would do well to go back to school ! The placard 
says: 'To-morrow.' lam not so simple and whimsical as to 
shave gratis to-day ; my fellow-barbers would say that I was 
ruining the trade. Come again next time, or the week when 
two Sundays come together, and you will find yourselves well 
off. May I become a green leper if I don't shave you gratis, 
on the word of an honest barber." 

Authors who read a prospective article jeering at an actual 
work, always flatter themselves that the book that they are writing 
will be the book of the future. They try to comply, as far as 
is possible, with the critic's ideas, and become social, progressive, 
moralising, palingenesical, mythical, pantheistical, buchezistical, 
believing that they will thereby escape the tremendous anathema; 
but they fare as did the barber's customers to-day is not the 
eve of to-morrow. The often promised to-morrow will never 
shine upon the world ; for this formula is too convenient to be 
abandoned so soon. While decrying the book of which they 
are jealous, and which they would fain annihilate, they put on 
the gloves of the most generous impartiality. It looks as though 
they asked nothing better than to approve and to praise, and yet 
they never do so. This recipe is far superior to that which 
might be called the retrospective, and which consists in extolling 
only ancient works, which are no longer read and which 
trouble nobody, at the expense of modern books which occupy 
attention and wound self-love more directly. 

We said, before beginning lis review of the critics, that the 
materials might furnish fifteen or sixteen folio volumes, but 



42 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

that we should content ourselves with a few lines. I am 
beginning to fear that these few lines must be each two or 
three thousand fathoms long, and resemble those great 
pamphlets which are so thick that a gunshot could not pierce 
them, and which bear the treacherous title A word about 
the Revolution, a word about this or that. The history of the 
deeds and jests, and multiple loves of the divine Madeleine de 
Maupin would run a serious risk of being put off, and it will 
be understood that an entire volume is not too much to worthily 
sing the adventures of this fair Bradamant. Hence, wishful 
though we be to continue the blazonry of the illustrious 
\ristarchu5es of the age, we shall content ourselves with the 
unfinished sketch we have just obtained, adding a few reflec- 
tions on the good-nature of our gentle brethren in Apollo, who, 
stupid as the Cassander of pantomime, stand still to receive 
blows from harlequin's wand and kicks in the rump from the 
clown, without stirring any more than if they were images. 

It is as though a fencing-master should cross his arms behind 
his back during a bout, and receive all his adversary's thrusts 
in his unguarded breast, without essaying a single parry. 

It is like a pleading in which the king's attorney had the 
sole right of speech, or a debate in which reply was not 
allowed. 

The critic advances this or that. He lords it, and makes a 
great display. Absurd, detestable, monstrous ; it is like 
nothing ; it is like everything. A drama is produced, and the 
critic goes to see it ; he finds that it corresponds in no respect 
to the drama which he had fabricated in his head on the sug- 
gestion of the title ; and so, in his feuilleton, he substitutes 
his own drama for the author's. He gives large doses of 
erudition ; he disburdens himself of all the knowledge he has 
obtained the day before in some library, and treats like negroes 
people to whom he should go to school, and the least of whom 
might teach men more able than he. 

Authors endure this with a magnanimity and forbearance 
that seems really inconceivable to me. What, after all, are 
these critics whose tones are so peremptory and words so 



PREFACE. 43 

short, that one might take them for true sons of the gods ? 
They are simply men who have been at college with us, and 
who have evidently profited less by their studies than we, since 
they have never produced a work, and can do nothing but 
bespatter and spoil the works of others like veritable 
stymphalian vampires. 

Would it not be something to criticise the critics ? for these 
fastidious grandees, who make such an affectation of being 
haughty and hard to please, are far from possessing the infal- 
libility of our Holy Father. There would be enough to fill a 
daily paper of the largest size. Their blunders, historical or 
otherwise, their forged quotations, their mistakes in French, 
their plagiarisms, their dotage, their trite and ill-mannered 
pleasantries, their poverty of ideas, their want of intelligence 
and tact, their ignorance of the simplest things which makes 
them ready to take the Piraeus for a man and Monsieur 
Delaroche for a painter, would provide authors with ample 
materials for taking their revenge, without involving any work 
but that of underlining the passages with pencil and repro- 
ducing them word for word ; for the critic's patent is not 
accompanied by that of a great writer, and mistakes in language 
or taste are not to be avoided merely by reproving such in 
others. The critics prove this every day. 

If Chateaubriand, Lamartine, and others of the same kind 
were to criticise, I could understand people kneeling and ador- 
ing ; but that Messrs Z. K. Y. V. Q. X., or some similar letter 
between A and ft, should play the part of petty Quintilians and 
scold you in the name of morality and polite literature, is 
something which always revolts me, and makes me indulge in 
unparalleled rage. I would fain have a police regulation for- 
bidding certain names from jostling certain others. It is true 
that a cat may look at a king, and that Saint Peter of Rome, 
giant as he is, cannot prevent these Transteveronians from 
polluting him in strange sort below ; but I none the less believe 
that it would be insane to write along monumental reputations : 

Commit no nuisance here. 



14 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

Charles X alone really understood this question. By ordering 
the suppression of the newspapers, he did a great service to the 
arts and to civilisation. Newspapers are a species of courtiers 
or jobbers who interpose between artists and public, between 
king and people. We know what fine results have followed. 
These perpetual barkings deaden inspiration and fill heart and 
intellect with such distrust, that we dare not have faith either in 
a poet or government ; and thus royalty and poetry, the two 
greatest things in the world, become impossible, to the great 
misfortune of the people, who sacrifice their welfare to the poor 
pleasure of reading every morning a few broadsheets of bad 
paper, soiled with bad ink and bad style. 

There was no art criticism under Julius II, and I am not 
acquainted with any feuilieton on Daniel de Volterre, Se- 
bastian del Piombo, Michael Angelo, or Raphael, nor on 
Ghiberti delle Poite or Benvenuto Cellini; and yet I think 
that for people who had no newspapers, and who knew neither 
the word art nor the word artistic, they had for all that a fair 
amount of talent, and did not acquit themselves badly in their 
calling. 

The reading of newspapers prevents the existence of true 
scholars and true artists. It is like a daily debauch which 
makes you come enervated and strengthless to the couch of 
the Muses, those hard and difficult maidens who require their 
lovers to be vigorous and quite liresh. The newspaper kills the 
book, as the book has killed architecture, and as artillery has 
killed courage and muscular strength. We are not aware of 
what pleasures newspapers deprive us. They rob everything 
of its virginity ; owing to them we can have nothing of our 
own, and cannot possess a book all to ourselves ; they rob you 
of surprise at the theatre, and ttll you all the catastrophes 
beforehand ; they take away from you the pleasure of tattling, 
chattering, gossiping and slandering, of composing a piece of 
news or hawking a true one for a week through all the drawing- 
rooms of society. They intone their ready-made judgments 
to us, whether we want them or not, and prepossess us against 
things that we should like ; it is owing to them that the 



PREFACE. 45 

dealers in phosphorous boxes, if only they have a little memory, 
chatter about literature as nonsensically as country Acade- 
micians ; it is also owing to them that all day long, instead of 
artless ideas or individual stupidity, we hear half-digested 
scraps of newspaper which resemble omelettes raw on one 
side and burnt on the other, and that we are pitilessly surfeited 
with news two or three hours old and already known to infants 
at the breast ; they blunt our taste, and make us like 
those peppered-brandy drinkers and file and rasp swallowers, 
who have ceased to find any flavour in the most generous 
wines, and cannot apprehend their flowery and fragrant 
bouquet 

If Louis-Philippe were to suppress the literary and political 
journals for good and all, I should be infinitely grateful to him, 
and would rhyme him on the spot a fine disordered dithyramb 
with bold verses and cross rhymes, signed : " Your very 
humble and very faithful subject, &c." Let it not be imagined 
that literature would no longer engage attention ; at a time 
when there were no newspapers, a quatrain used to occupy all 
Paris for a week and a first performance for six months. 

It is true that we should lose the advertisements and the 
eulogies at fifteen-pence a line, and notoriety would be less 
prompt and less startling. But I have devised a very ingenious 
method for replacing the advertisements. If my gracious 
monarch suppresses the journals between the present time and 
the publication of this glorious romance, I shall certainly make 
use of it, and I promise myself wonders from it. The great 
day being come, twenty-four criers on horseback, and in the 
publisher's livery, with his address on their backs and breasts, 
carrying in their hands banners embroidered on both sides 
with the title of the romance, and each preceded by a drummer 
and a kettle-drummer, will traverse the town, and, stopping 
in the squares and at the cross-ways, cry in a loud and 
intelligible voice : " To-day, and not yesterday, nor to-morrow, 
is published the admirable, inimitable, divine, and more than 
divine romance, 'Mademoiselle de Maupin,' by the very 
celebrated The"ophile Gautier, which Europe, and even the 



46 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

other parts of the world and Polynesia, have been expecting 
so impatiently for a year and more. It is being sold at the 
rate of five hundred copies a minute, and the editions are 
following one another every half hour ; the nineteenth has been 
reached already. A picket of municipal guards is before the 
door of the shop, restraining the crowd arid preventing all 
disorder." 

Surely this would be quite equal to a three-lined advertise- 
ment in the " De"bats " or the " Courrier Fran9ais," among 
elastic belts, crinolined collars, feeding-bottles with indestruc- 
tible tents, Regnault's jujubes, and cures for toothache. 



May 





MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 




I. 



l complain, my dear friend, of the scarcity 
of my letters. What would you have me 
write, except that I am well, and that I 
have ever the same affection for you? 
These are things of which you are quite 
aware, and which are so natural, consider - 
ing my age, and the excellent qualities to 
be discerned in you, that it is almost ridiculous to send a 
wretched sheet of paper on a journey of a hundred miles with 
no more information than that. All my seeking is in vain, I 
have no news worth relating ; my life is the most uniform in 
the world, and nothing comes to disturb its monotony. To-day 
is followed by to-morrow, just as yesterday was followed by 
to-day ; and, without being so conceited as to play the prophet, 
I can in the morning boldly predict what will befall me in the 
evening. 

" Here is the plan of my day : I get up that is of course, 
and is the beginning of every day ; I breakfast, fence, go out, 
come in again, dine, pay visits or read something, and then 
I go to bed, just as I did the day before ; I fall asleep, and 
my imagination, not having been excited by new objects, 
affords me but trite and hackneyed dreams as monotonous 
as my real life. This is not very diverting, as you see. Never 



48 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

theless, I am better pleased with such an existence than I 
should have been six months ago. I am dull, it is true, but 
it is in a peaceful and resigned fashion, not devoid of a certain 
sweetness, which I should be ready enough to compare to 
those wan and tepid autumn days in which we find a secret 
charm after the excessive heat of summer. 

" Although I have apparently accepted this kind of exist- 
ence, it is nevertheless scarcely suitable for me, or at least it 
has very little resemblance to that of which I dream, and 
to which I consider myself adapted. It may be that I am 
mistaken, and that I really am suited only to this mode of 
life ; but I can scarcely believe it, for if this were my true 
destiny, I should have fitted myself into it with greater ease, 
and should not have been bruised by the sharp corners of it 
at so many places and so painfully. 

"You know what an overpowering attraction strange ad- 
ventures have for me, how I worship everything that is singular, 
extravagant, and perilous, and how greedily I devour novels 
and books of travels. There is not, perhaps, on earth a fancy 
more foolish or more vagrant than mine. Well, through some 
fatality or other, it so happens that I have never had an 
adventure and have never made a journey. So far as I am 
concerned, the circuit of the world is the circuit of the town 
in which I live ; I touch my horizon on all sides ; I rub 
shoulders with the real ; my life is that of the shell on the sand- 
bank, of the ivy round the tree, of the cricket on the hearth ; 
in truth, I am surprised that my feet have not yet taken root 

" Love is painted with bandaged eyes ; but it is destiny that 
should be depicted thus. 

" I have as valet a species of clown, heavy and stupid enough, 
who has roved as much as the north wind, who has been to the 
devil, and I know not where besides, who has seen with his 
own eyes all those things about which I have formed such 
fine ideas, and who cares as much for them as he does for a 
glass of water ; he has been placed in the strangest situations, 
and he has had the most astonishing adventures that one could 
have. I make him talk sometimes, and am maddened to think 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 49 

that all these glorious things have befallen a booby, wno is 
capable of neither feeling nor reflection, and who is good for 
nothing but his usual work, brushing clothes and cleaning 
boots. 

" It is clear that this rascal's life ought to have been mine. 
As for him, he thinks me very fortunate, and is lost in wonder 
to see me melancholy, as I am. 

"All this is not very interesting, my poor friend, and is 
scarcely worth the trouble of writing, is it? But since you 
insist on my writing to you, I must relate my thoughts and 
feelings, and give you the history of my ideas, in default of 
events and actions. There will, perhaps, be little order and 
little novelty in what I shall have to tell you, but you must lay 
the blame on yourself alone. I shall be obeying your own wish. 

" You have been my friend from childhood, and I was 
brought up with you ; our lives were passed together for a 
long time, and we are wont to tell each other our most secret 
thoughts. I can therefore, without blushing, give you an 
account of all the nonsense that passes through my idle 
brain. I shall neither add, nor deduct a single word, for I 
have no false pride with you. And so I shall be scrupulously 
exact, even in trifling and shameful matters ; I shall certainly 
not veil myself before you. 

" Beneath this winding sheet of indifferent and depressing 
languor of which I have just told you, there sometimes stirs a 
thought, torpid rather than dead, and I do not always possess 
the sweet, sad calm that melancholy gives. I have relapses, 
and I fall again into my old perturbations. Nothing in the 
world is so fatiguing as these purposeless whirlwinds and these 
aimless flights. On such days, although I have nothing to do 
any more than on others, I rise very early, before the sun, so 
persuaded am I that I am in a hurry, and that I shall not have 
the necessary time. I dress myself with all speed, as if the 
house were on fire, putting on my garments at random, and 
bewailing the loss of a minute. Any one seeing me would 
suppose that I was going to keep a love appointment or look for 
money. Not at all. I even do not know whither I am going; 



50 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

but go I must, and I should believe my safety compromised it 
I remained. It seems to me that I am called from without, 
that my destiny is at that moment passing in the street, and 
that the question of my life is about to be decided. 

" I go down with an air of wild surprise, my dress in 
disorder, and my hair uncombed. People turn and laugh 
when they meet me, and think that I am a young debauchee, 
who has spent the night at the tavern or elsewhere. Indeed 
I am intoxicated, though I have drunk nothing, and I have 
the manner of a drunkard, even to his uncertain gait, now fast 
and now slow. I go from street to street, like a dog that has 
lost his master, seeking quite at a venture, very troubled, very 
much on the alert, turning at the least noise, gliding into every 
group, heedless of the rebukes of the people I run up against, 
and looking about me everywhere, with a clearness of vision 
which at other times I do not possess. Then it suddenly 
becomes evident to me that I am mistaken, that it is assuredly 
not there, that I must go further, to the other end of the town, 
I know not where, and I set off as if the devil were carrying 
me away. My toes only touch the ground, and I do not weigh 
an ounce. Truly I must present a singular appearance with my 
preoccupied and frenzied countenance, the gesticulations of my 
arms and the inarticulate cries I utter. When I think of it in 
cold blood, I laugh heartily in my own face ; but this, I would 
have you know, does not prevent me from doing just the same 
on the next occasion. 

" If I were asked why I rush along in this way, I certainly 
should be greatly at a loss for an answer. I am in no haste 
to arrive, since I am going nowhere. I am not afraid of 
being late, since I have no engagement. There is no one 
waiting for me, and I have no reason for being in a hurry 
here. 

" Is it an opportunity for loving, an adventure, a woman, 
an idea or a fortune, something which is wanting to my life, 
and which I seek without accounting to myself for it, but 
impelled by a vague instinct ? Is it my existence which desires 
to complete itself? Is it the wish to emerge from my home 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 51 

and from myself, the weariness of my present life and the 
longing for another ? It is something of this, and perhaps all of 
this put together. It is always a very unpleasant condition, a 
feverish irritation, which is usually succeeded by the dullest 
atony. 

" I often have an idea, that if I had set out an hour earlier, 
or had increased my pace, I should have arrived in time ; 
that, while I was passing down one street, the object of my 
search was passing down the other, and that a block of vehicles 
was sufficient to make me miss what I have been pursuing 
quite at random for so long. You cannot imagine the sadness 
and the deep despair into which I fall when I see that all this 
ends in nothing, and that my youth is passing away with no 
prospect opening up before me; then all my idle passions 
growl dully in my heart, and prey upon themselves for lack of 
other food, like beasts in a menagerie that the keeper has 
forgotten to feed. 

" In spite of the stifled and secret disappointments of every 
day, there is something within me which resists and will not 
die. I have no hope, for hope implies desire, a certain dis- 
position for wishing that things should turn out in one way 
rather than in another. I desire nothing, for I desire every- 
thing. I do not hope, or rather I hope no longer ; that is too 
silly, and it is quite the same to me whether a thing happens 
or not I am waiting, and for what ? I do not know, but I 
am waiting. 

" It is a tremulous waiting, full of impatience, broken by 
starts and nervous movements, as must be that of a lover who 
awaits his mistress. Nothing comes ; I grow furious, or begin 
to weep. I wait for the heavens to open and an angel to 
descend with a revelation to me, for a revolution to break 
out and a throne to be given me, for one of Raphael's virgins 
to leave the canvas and come to embrace me, for relations, 
whom I do not possess, to die and leave me what will enable 
me to sail my fancy on a river of gold, for a hippogriff to take 
me and carry me into regions unknown. But, whatever I am 
waiting for, it is assuredly nothing usual and commonplace-. 

LIBRARY 
UNIVERSITY OF 



52 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

" This has reached such a pitch, that, when I come in, I 
never fail to say : ' No one has come ? There is no letter for 
me ? No news ? ' I know perfectly well that there is nothing, 
and that there can be nothing. It is all the same ; I am always 
greatly surprised and disappointed on receiving the customary 
reply : ' No, sir, nothing at all.' 

"Sometimes but this is seldom the idea takes a more 
definite form. It will be some beautiful woman whom I do 
not know, and who does not know me, whom I have met 
at the theatre or at church, and who has not heeded me 
in the least. I go over the whole house, and until I have 
opened the door of the last room I scarcely dare tell you, it 
is so foolish I hope that she has come, and that she is there. 
This is not conceit on my part. I have so little of the coxcomb 
about me, that several women, whom I believed very indifferent 
to me, and without any opinion in particular respecting me, 
have, so others tell me, been greatly prepossessed in my favour. 
It has a different origin. 

" When I am not dulled by weariness and discouragement, 
my soul awakes and recovers all its former vigour. I hope, 
I love, I desire, and so violent are my desires, that I imagine 
that they will draw everything to them, as a powerful magnet 
attracts particles of iron, even when they are at a great distance 
from it. This is why I wait for the things I wish for, instead 
of going to them, and frequently neglect the most favourable 
opportunities that are opened up to my hopes. Another would 
write the most amorous note in the world to the divinity of 
his heart, or would seek for an opportunity to approach her. 
As for me, I ask the messenger for the reply to a letter which 
I have not written, and spend my time constructing the most 
wonderful situations in my head for bringing me in the most 
favourable and most unexpected light under the notice of 
her whom I love. A book might be made larger and more 
ingenious than the 'Stratagems of Polybius' of all the stratagems 
which I imagine for introducing myself to her and revealing 
my passion. Generally, it would only be necessary to say to 
one of my friends : ' Introduce me to Madame So-and-so,' 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 53 

and to pay a compliment drawn from mythology and suitably 
punctuated with sighs. 

" To listen to all this, one would think me fit for a mad- 
house; nevertheless, I am a rational fellow enough, and I 
have not put many of my follies into practice. All this passes 
in the recesses of my soul, and all these absurd ideas are 
buried very carefully deep within me ; on the outside nothing 
is to be seen, and I have the reputation of being a placid and 
cold young man, indifferent to women, and without interest in 
things belonging to his years ; which is as remote from the 
truth as the judgments of the world usually are. 

" Nevertheless, in spite of all my discouragements, some of 
my desires have been realised, and, so little joy has been given 
me by their fulfilment, that I dread the fulfilment of the rest. 
You remember the childish eagerness with which I longed to 
have a horse of my own ; my mother has given me one quite 
recently ; he is as black as ebony, with a little white star on 
his forehead, with flowing mane, glossy coat, and slender legs, 
just as I wished him to be. When they brought him to me, 
it gave me such a shock, that I remained quite a quarter of 
an hour very pale and unable to compose myself. Then I 
mounted, and, without speaking a single word, set off at full 
gallop, and for more than an hour went straight across country 
in an ecstasy difficult to conceive. I did the same every day 
for a week, and I really do not know how it was that I did not 
kill him or at least break his wind. By degrees all this great 
eagerness died away, I brought my horse to a trot, then to a 
walk, and now I have come to ride him with such indifference, 
that he often stops and I do not notice it. Pleasure has 
become habit more quickly than I could have thought possible. 

" As to Ferragus that is the name I have given him he is 
really the most charming animal that one could see. He has 
tufts on his feet like eagle's down ; he is as lively as a goat 
and as quiet as a lamb. You will have the greatest pleasure 
in galloping him when you come here ; and, although my 
mania for riding has passed away, I am still very fond of him, 
for he is a horse of an excellent disposition, and I sincerely prefer 



54 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

him to many human beings. If you only heard how joyfully 
he neighs when I go to see him in the stable, and with what 
intelligent eyes he looks at me ! I confess that I am touched 
by these tokens of affection, and that I take him by the neck 
and embrace him with as much tenderness, on my word, as if 
he were a beautiful girl. 

" I had also another desire, more keen, more eager, more 
continually awake, more dearly cherished, and for which I 
had built in my soul an enchanting castle of cards, a palace 
of chimeras, that was often destroyed but raised again with 
desperate constancy : it was to have a mistress a mistress 
quite my own like the horse. I do not know whether the 
fulfilment of this dream would have found me so soon cold 
as the fulfilment of the other ; I doubt it. But perhaps I am 
wrong, and shall be tired of it as soon. Owing to my peculiar 
disposition, I desire a thing so frantically, without, however, 
making any effort to procure it, that if by chance, or otherwise, 
I attain the object of my wish, I have such a moral lumbago, 
and am so worn out, that I am seized with swoonings, and 
have not energy enough left to enjoy it : hence things which 
come to me without my wishing for them generally give 
me more pleasure than those which I have coveted most 
strongly. 

" I am twenty-two years old, and I am not virgin. Alas ! no 
one is so now at that age, either in body, or, what is much 
worse in heart. Besides, consorting with the class of females 
who afford us pleasure for payment, and are not to be counted 
any more than a lascivious dream, I have gained over several 
^irtuous or nearly virtuous women, neither beautiful nor ugly, 
riefther young nor old, such as are to be met with by young 
fellows who have nothing regular on hand and whose hearts 
are unoccupied. With a little good-will, and a pretty strong 
dose of romantic illusions, you can call this having a mistress, 
if you like. For myself, I find it impossible ; I might have a 
thousand of the kind, and I should still believe my desire as 
unfulfilled as ever. 

' ' I have not, therefore, as yet had a mistress, and my whole 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 55 

desire is to have one. It is an idea that torments me strangely; 
it is not an effervescence of temperament, a boiling of the blood, 
the first burst of puberty. It is not -woman that I want, but a 
woman, a mistress ; I desire one, and shall have one shortly ; 
if I did not succeed, I confess to you that I should never get over 
it, and that I should have an inward timidity, a dull discourage- 
ment which would exercise a serious influence upon the rest of 
my life. I should consider myself defective in certain respects, 
inharmonious or incomplete, deformed in mind or body ; for 
after all my requirement is a just one, and nature owes it to 
every man. So long as I have not attained my end, I shall 
look upon myself merely as a child, and I shall not have the 
confidence in myself which I ought to have. A mistress is to 
me what the toga virilis was to the young Roman. 

" I see so many beautiful women in the possession of men 
who are ignoble in every respect, and scarcely fit to be their 
lackeys, that I blush for them, and for myself. It gives me a 
pitiful opinion of women to see them wasting their affection on 
blackguards who despise and deceive them, instead of giving 
themselves to some loyal and sincere young fellow who would 
esteem himself very fortunate, and would worship them on his 
knees ; to myself, for instance. It is true that men of the 
former species obstruct the drawing-rooms, show themselves 
off before every one, and are always lounging on the back 
of some easy chair, while I remain at home, my forehead 
pressed against the window pane, watching the river steam 
and the mist rise, while silently erecting in my heart the 
perfumed sanctuary, the marvellous temple in which I am to 
lodge the future idol of my soul. A chaste and poetical 
occupation, and one for which women are as little grateful to 
you as may be. 

" Women have little liking for dreamers, and peculiarly 
esteem those who put their ideas into practice. After all, they 
are right Obliged by their education and their social position to 
keep silence and to wait, they naturally prefer those who come 
to them and speak, and thus relieve them from a false and 
tiresome position. I am quite sensible of this ; yet never in 



$6 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

my life shall I be able to take it upon me, as I see many 
others do, to rise from my seat, cross a drawing-room, and 
say unexpectedly to a woman : ' Your dress becomes you 
like an angel,' or : ' Your eyes are particularly bright this 
evening.' 

" All this does not prevent me from positively wanting a 
mistress. I do not know who it will be, but I see none 
among the women of my acquaintance who could suitably fill 
this dignified position. I find that they possess very few of the 
qualities I require. Those who would be young enough are 
wanting in beauty or intellectual charm; those who are beautiful 
and young are basely and forbiddingly virtuous, or lack the 
necessary freedom ; and then there is always some husband, 
some brother, a mother or an aunt, somebody or other, with 
big eyes and large ears, who must be wheedled or thrown out 
of the window. Every rose has its worm, and every woman has 
a swarm of relations who must be carefully cleared away, if we 
wish to pluck some day the fruit of her beauty. There is not 
one of them, even to country cousins of the third degree whom 
we have never seen, that does not wish to preserve the spotless 
purity of their dear cousin in all its whiteness. This is 
nauseous, and I shall never have the patience to pull up all 
the weeds, and lop away all the briars which fatally obstruct 
the approaches to a pretty woman. 

" I am not fond of mammas, and I like young girls still less. 
Further, I must confess that married women have but a very 
slight attraction for me. They involve a confusion and a 
mingling which are revolting to me ; I cannot tolerate the idea 
of division. The woman who has a husband and a lover is a 
prostitute for one of them, and often for both ; and, besides, I 
could never consent to yield the first place to another. My 
natural pride cannot stoop to such a degradation. I shall 
never go because another man is coming. Though the woman 
were to be compromised and losi, and we were to fight with 
knives each with a foot upon her body, I should remain. 
Private staircases, cupboards, closets, and all the machinery for 
deception would be of little service with me. 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 57 

" I am not much smitten with what is called maidenly in- 
genuousness, youthful innocence, purity of heart, and other 
charming things which in verse are most effective ; that I call 
simply nonsense, ignorance, imbecility, or hypocrisy. The 
maidenly ingenuousness which consists in sitting on the very 
edge of an easy chair, with arms pressed close to the body, and 
eyes fixed on the point of the corset, and in .not speaking 
without permission from its grand-parents, the innocence which 
has a monopoly of uncurled hair and white frocks, the purity of 
heart which wears its dress high up at the neck because it has 
as yet neither shoulders nor breast to show, do not, in truth, 
appear wonderfully agreeable to me. 

" I do not care much for teaching little simpletons to spell 
out the alphabet of love. I am neither old enough nor 
depraved enough for that ; besides, I should succeed badly 
at it, for I never could show anybody anything, even what I 
knew best myself. I prefer women who read fluently, we 
arrive sooner at the end of the chapter ; and in everything, 
but especially in love, the end is what we have to consider. 
In this respect, I am rather like those people who begin a 
novel at the wrong end, read the catastrophe first of all, and 
then go backwards to the first page. This mode of reading 
and loving has its charm. Details are relished more when we 
are at peace concerning the end, and the inversion introduces 
the unforeseen. 

" Young girls then, and married women are excluded from 
the category. It must, therefore, be among the widows that 
we are to choose our divinity. Alas ! though nothing else is 
left to us, I greatly fear that neither will they afford us what 
\ve wish. 

" If I happened to love a pale narcissus bathed in a 
tepid dew of tears, and bending with melancholy grace over 
the new marble tomb of some happily and recently departed 
husband, I should certainly, and in a very short while, be as 
miserable as was the defunct during his lifetime. Widows, 
however young and charming they may be, have a terrible 
drawback which other women are without ; if you are not on 

D 



58 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

the very best terms with them, and a cloud passes across the 
heaven of your love, they tell you at once with a little superlative 
and contemptuous air 

" ' Ah ! how strange you are to-day ! It is just like what ht 
was. When we quarrelled, he used to speak to me in the very 
same way ; it is curious, but you have the same tone of voice 
and the same look ; when you are out of temper, you cannot 
imagine how like my husband you are ; it is frightful.' 

" It is pleasant to have things of this sort said to your very 
face ! There are some even who are impudent enough to 
praise the departed one like an epitaph, and to extol his heart 
and his leg at the expense of your leg and your heart. With 
women who have only one or more lovers, you have at least 
the unspeakable advantage of never hearing about your prede- 
cessor, and this is a consideration of no ordinary interest. 
Women have too great a regard for what is appropriate and 
legitimate not to observe a diligent silence in such an event, 
and all matters of the kind are consigned to oblivion as soon 
as possible. It is an understood thing that a man is always a 
woman's first lover. 

" I do not think that an aversion so well founded admits of 
any serious reply. It is not that I consider widows altogether 
devoid of charm, when they are young and pretty and have 
not yet laid aside their mourning. They have little languishing 
airs, little ways of letting the arms droop, of arching the neck 
and of bridling up like unmated turtle-doves ; a heap of 
charming affectations sweetly veiled beneath the transparency 
of crape, a v;ell-ordered affectation of despair, skilfully managed 
sighs, and tears which fall so opportunely and lend such lustre 
to the eyes ! 

" Truly, next to wine perhaps even before it the liquid I 
love best to drink is a beautiful tear, clear and limpid, trembling 
at the tip of a dark or a blonde eye-lash. What means are 
there of resisting that ? We do not resist it ; and then black 
is so becoming to women ! A white skin, poetry apart, turns 
to ivory, snow, milk, alabaster, to everything spotless that there is 
in the world for the use of composers of madrigals ; while a dark 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 59 

skin has but a dash of brown that is full of vivacity and 
fire. 

" Mourning is a happy opportunity for a woman, and the 
reason I shall never marry, is the fear lest my wife should get 
rid of me in order to go into mourning for me. There are, 
however, some women who cannot turn their sorrow to account, 
and who weep in such a way that they make their noses red, 
and distort their features like the faces that we see on fountains ; 
this is a serious danger. There is need of many charms and 
much art to weep agreeably ; otherwise, there is a risk of not 
being comforted for a long time. Yet notwithstanding the 
pleasure of making some Artemisia faithless to the shade of 
her Mausolus, I cannot really choose from among this swarm 
of lamenting ones her whose heart I shall ask in exchange for 
my own. 

" And now I hear you say : Whom will you take then ? 
You will not have young girls, nor married women, nor widows. 
You do not like mammas, and I do not suppose that you are 
any fonder of grandmothers. Whom the deuce do you like ? 
It is the answer to the charade, and if I knew it, I should not 
torment myself so much. Up to the present, I have never loved 
any woman, but I have loved and do love love. Although I 
have had no mistresses, and the women that I have had have 
merely kindled desire, I have felt, and I am acquainted with 
love itself. I have not loved this woman or that, one more 
than another, but some one whom I have never seen, who 
must live somewhere, and whom I shall find, if it please God. 
I know well what she is like, and, when I meet her, I shall 
recognise her. 

" I have often pictured to myself the place where she dwells, 
the dress that she wears, the eyes and hair that she has. I 
hear her voice ; I should recognise her step among a thousand, 
and if, by chance, some one uttered her name, I should turn 
round ; it is impossible that she should not have one of the 
five or six names that I have given her in my head. 

" She is twenty-six years old, neither more nor less. She is 
not without experience, and she is not yet satiated. It is a 



60 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

charming age for making love as it ought to be, without 
childishness and without libertinism. She is of medium 
height I like neither a giantess nor a dwarf. I wish to be able 
to carry my goddess by myself from the sofa to the bed ; 
but it would be disagreeable to have to look for her in the 
latter. When raising herself slightly on tiptoe, her mouth 
should reach my kiss. That is the proper height. As to her 
figure, she is rather plump than thin. I am something of the 
Turk in this matter, and I should scarcely like to meet with a 
corner when I expected a circumference ; a woman's skin 
should be well filled, her flesh compact and firm, like the 
pulp of a peach that is nearly ripe : and the mistress I shall 
have is made just so. She is a blonde with dark eyes, white 
like a blonde, with the colour of a brunette, and a red and 
sparkling smile. The lower lip rather large, the eyeball 
swimming in a flood of natural moisture, her breast round, 
small, and firm, her hands long and plump, her walk 
undulating like a snake standing on its tail, her hips full and 
yielding, her shoulders broad, the nape of her neck covered 
with down : a style of beauty at once delicate and compact, 
graceful and healthy, poetic and real ; a subject of Giorgione's 
wrought by Rubens. 

" Here is her costume : she wears a robe of scarlet or black 
velvet, with slashings of white satin or silver cloth, an open 
bodice, a large ruff a la Medici, a felt hat capriciously drawn 
up like Helena Systerman's, and with long feathers curled 
and crisp, a golden chain or a stream of diamonds about her 
neck, and a quantity of large, variously enamelled rings on all 
her fingers. 

" I will not excuse her a ring or a bracelet. Her robe must 
be literally of velvet or brocade ; at the very most, I might 
permit her to stoop to satin. I would rather rumple a silk 
skirt than a linen one, and let pearls and feathers fall from the 
hair than natural flowers or a simple bow ; I know that the 
lining of a linen skirt is often at least as tempting as that of a 
siik one, but I prefer the silk one. 

" Thus, in my dreams, I have given myself as mistresses 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 61 

many queens, many empresses, many princesses, many sultanas, 
many celebrated courtesans, but never a commoner or a 
shepherdess ; and amid my most vagrant desires, I have never 
taken advantage of any one on a carpet of grass or in a bed of 
serge d'Aumale. I consider beauty a diamond which should 
be mounted and set in gold. I cannot imagine a beautiful 
woman without a carriage, horses, serving-men, and all that 
belongs to an income of four thousand a year : there is a 
harmony between beauty and wealth. One requires the other : 
a pretty foot calls for a pretty shoe, a pretty shoe calls for a 
carpet, and a carriage, and all the rest of it. A beautiful 
woman, poorly dressed and in a mean house, is, to my mind, 
the most painful sight that one could see, and I could not feel 
love towards such a one. It is only the handsome and the 
rich who can make love without being ridiculous or pitiable. 
At this rate few people would be entitled to make love : 1 
myself should be the first to be excluded ; but such is never- 
theless my opinion. 

" It will be in the evening, during a beautiful sunset, that 
we shall meet for the first time ; the sky will have those clear 
yellow and pale-green orange-coloured tints that we see in the 
pictures of the old masters ; there will be a great avenue of 
flowering chestnut trees and venerable elms filled with wood- 
pigeons fine trees of fresh dark green, giving a shade full of 
mystery and dampness ; a few statues here and there, some 
marble vases with their snowy whiteness standing out in relief 
on the ground of green, a sheet of water with the familiar 
swan, and, quite in the background, a mansion of brick and 
stone, as in the time of Henri IV, with a peaked slate roof, 
lofty chimneys, weathercocks on all the gables, and long narrow 
windows. 

"At one of these windows, the queen of my soul, in the dress 
I have just described, leaning with an air of melancholy on the 
balcony, and behind her a little negro holding her fan and 
her parrot. You see that nothing is wanting, and that the 
whole thing is perfectly absurd. The fair one drops her 
glove ; I pick it up, kiss it, and bring it to her. We enter into 



62 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

conversation ; I display all the wit that I do not possess ; I say 
charming things ; I am answered in the same way, I rejoin, 
it is a display of fireworks, a luminous rail, of dazzling words. 
In short, I am adorable and adored. Supper-time arrives ; I 
am invited, and accept the invitation. What a supper, my dear 
friend, and what a cook is my imagination ! The wine laughs 
in the crystal, the brown and white pheasant smokes in the 
blazoned dish ; the banquet is prolonged far into the night, and 
you may be quite sure that I do not end the latter at my own 
home. Is not this well conceived ? Nothing in the world can 
be more simple, and it is truly very astonishing that it has not 
come to pass ten times rather than once. 

" Sometimes it is in a large forest. The hunt sweeps by ; 
the horn sounds, and the pack giving tongue crosses the 
path with the swiftness of lightning ; the fair one, in a riding 
habit, is mounted on a Turkish steed as white as milk, and as 
frisky and mettlesome as possible. Although she is an excellent 
horsewoman, he paws the ground, caracoles, rears, and she has 
all the trouble in the world to hold him in ; he gets the bit 
between his teeth and takes her straight towards a precipice. 
I fall there from the sky for the purpose, check the horse, take 
the fainting princess in rny arms, restore her, and bring her 
back to the mansion. What well-born woman would refuse 
her heart to a man who has risked his life for her? Not 
one; and gratitude is a cross-road which very quickly leads 
to love. 

" You will, at all events, admit that when I go in for romance, 
it is not by halves that I do so, and that I am as foolish as it 
is possible to be. It is always so, for there is nothing in the 
world more disagreeable than folly with reason in it You will 
almost admit that when I write letters they are volumes rather 
than simple notes. In everything, I like what goes beyond 
ordinary limits. That is the reason why I am fond of you. Do 
not laugh too much at all the nonsense I have scribbled to you : 
I am laying my pen aside in order to put it into practice ; for 
I ever come back to the same refrain : I want to have a 
mistress. I do not know whether it will be the lady of the park 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUHN. 63 

or the beauty of the balcony, but I bid you good-bye that I may 
commence my quest. My resolution is taken. Should she, 
whom I seek, be concealed in the remotest part of the kingdom 
of Cathay or Samarcand, I shall manage to find her out. I 
will let you know of the success or failure I hope it will be 
the success of my enterprise. Pray for me, my dear friend. 
For my own part, I am putting on my finest coat, and am 
leaving the house determined not to return without a mistress 
in accordance with my ideas. I have been dreaming long 
enough ; to action now. 

" P. S. Send me some news of little D ; what has 

become of him ? No one here knows anything about him , 
and give my compliments to your worthy brother and lo the 
whole family." 




II. 




.'ELL ! my friend, I have come in again without 
having been to Cathay, Cashmere, or Samar. 
cand ; but it is right to say tnat I have not a 
mistress any more than before. Yet I had 
taken myself by the hand and sworn my greatest oath that I 
would go to the end of the world and I have not even been 
to the end of the town. I do not know how it is, but I have 
never been able to keep my word to any one, even to myself: 
the devil must have a hand in it. If I say, ' I shall go there 
to-morrow,' I am sure to remain where I am ; if I purpose 
going to the wine shop, I go to church ; if I wish to go to 
church, the roads become as confused beneath my feet as 
skeins of thread, and I find myself in quite a different place ; 
I fast when I have determined on an orgie, and so on. Thus 
I believe that my resolve to have a mistress is what prevents 
me from having one. 

" I must give you a detailed account of my expedition ; it is 
quite worthy of the honours of narration. That day I had 
spent two full hours at least at my toilet. I had my hair 
combed and curled, the small amount of moustache that I 
possess turned up and waxed, and with my usually pale face 
animated somewhat by the emotion of desire, I was really not 
so bad. At last, after looking at myself carefully in the glass 
in different lights to see whether I had a sufficiently handsome 
and gallant appearance, I went resolutely out of the house, 
with lofty countenance, chin in air, and one hand on my hin, 
looking straight before me, making the heels of my boots ratte 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 6; 

like an anspessade, elbowing the townsfolk, and with quite a 
victorious and triumphal mien. 

" I was like another Jason going to the conquest of the 
Golden Fleece. But, alas ! Jason was more fortunate than 1 : 
besides the conquest of the fleece he at the same time effected 
the conquest of a beautiful princess, while, as for me, I have 
neither princess nor fleece. 

" I went away, then, through the streets, noticing all the 
women, and hastening up to them and looking at them as 
closely as possible when they seemed worth the trouble of an 
examination. Some would assume their most virtuous air, and 
pass without raising their eyes. Others would at first be sur- 
prised, and then, if they had good teeth, would smile. Others 
again would turn after a little to see me when they thought I 
was no longer looking at them, and blush like cherries when 
they found themselves face to face with me. 

" The weather was fine, and there was a crowd of people out 
walking. And yet, I must confess, in spite of all the respect I 
entertain towards that interesting half of the human race, that 
which it is agreed to call the fair sex is devilishly ugly : in a 
hundred women there was scarcely one that was passable. 
This one had a moustache ; that one had a blue nose ; others 
had red spots instead of eyebrows. One was not badly made, 
but her face was covered with pimples. A second had a 
charming head, but she might have scratched her ear with 
her shoulder. A third would have shamed Praxiteles with the 
roundness and softness of certain curves, but she skated on feet 
that were like Turkish stirrups. Yet another displayed the most 
magnificent shoulders that one could see ; but as a set off, her 
hands resembled for shape and size those enormous scarlet 
gloves which haberdashers use as signs. And generally, what 
fatigue was there on these faces ! how blighted, etiolated, and 
basely worn by petty passions and petty vices ! What expres- 
sions of envy, evil curiosity, greediness, and shameless coquetry ! 
And how much more ugly is a woman who is not handsome 
than a man who is not so ! 

" I saw nothing good except some grisettes. But there 



b6 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

is more linen than silk to rumple in that quarter, and they 
are no affair of mine. In truth, I believe that man, and 
by man I also understand woman, is the ugliest animal on 
earth. This quadruped who walks on his hind legs seems to 
me singularly presumptuous in assigning quite as a matter of 
right the first rank in creation to himself. A lion, or a tiger, is 
handsomer than man, and many individuals in their species 
attain to all' the beauty that belongs to their nature. This is 
extremely rare among men. How many abortions for one 
Antinoiis ! how many Gothones for one Phyllis ! 

"I am greatly afraid, my dear friend, that I shall never 
embrace my ideal, and yet there is nothing extravagant or un- 
natural in it. It is not the ideal of a third-form schoolboy. I 
do not require globes of ivory, nor columns of alabaster, nor 
traceries of azure ; and in its composition I have employed 
neither lilies, nor snow, nor roses, nor jet, nor ebony, nor coral, 
nor ambrosia, nor pearls, nor diamonds ; I have left the stars 
of heaven in peace, and I have not unhooked the sun out of 
season. It is almost a vulgar ideal, so simple is it ; and it 
seems to me that with a bag or two of piastres I might find it 
ready made and completely realised in no matter which bazaar 
of Constantinople or Smyrna ; it would probably cost me less 
than a horse or a thorough-bred dog. And to think that I shall 
never attain to this for I feel that I shall never do so ! It is 
enough to madden one, and I fall into the finest passions in 
the world against my fate. 

" As for you you are not so foolish as I am, and you are 
fortunate ; you have simply given yourself up to your life with- 
out tormenting yourself to shape it, and you have taken things 
as they came. You have not sought happiness, and it has 
sought you ; you are loved, and you love. I do not envy you 
you must not think that, at least but when I reflect on 
your bliss, I feel less joyous than I ought to be, and I say 
to myself with a sigh that I would gladly enjoy similar 
felicity. 

" Perhaps my happiness has passed close to me, and in my 
blindness I have not seen it. Perhaps the voice has spoken, 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 67 

and the noise of the storms within me has prevented me from 
hearing. 

" Perhaps I have been loved in obscurity by some humble 
heart that I have disregarded and broken. Perhaps I have 
myself been the ideal of another, the lode-star of some soul in 
suspense, the dream of a night and the thought of a day. Had 
I looked to my feet, I might perhaps have seen some fair 
Magdalene, with her box of odours and her sweeping hair. I 
passed along with my arms raised towards the heavens, desiring 
to pluck the stars which fled from me, and disdaining to pick up 
the little Easter daisy that was opening her golden heart to me 
in the dewy grass. I have made a great mistake : I have asked 
from love something more than love, and that it could not give. 
I forgot that love was naked ; I did not understand the mean- 
ing of this grand symbol. I have asked from it robes of 
brocade, feathers, diamonds, sublimity of soul, knowledge, 
poetry, beauty, youth, supreme power everything tljat is not 
itself. Love can offer itself alone, and he who would obtain 
from it aught else is not worthy to be loved. 

" I have without doubt hastened too much : my hour has 
not come ; God, who has lent me life, will not take it back 
from me before I have lived. To what end give a lyre without 
strings to a poet, or a life without love to a man ? God could 
not do such an inconsistent thing ; and no doubt He will, at 
His chosen time, place in my path her whom I am to love, and 
by whom I am to be loved. But why has love come to me 
before the mistress? Why am I thirsty, yet without the spring 
at which to quench my thirst? or why can I not fly like the 
birds of the desert to the spot where there is water? The 
world is to me a Sahara without wells or date-trees. I have 
not a single shady nook in my life where I can screen myself 
from the sun : I endure all the fervour of passion without its 
raptures and unspeakable delights ; I know its torments, and 
am without its pleasures. I am jealous of what does not exist; 
I am disquieted by the shadow of a shadow; I heave sighs 
which have no motive ; I suffer sleeplessness which no wor- 
shipped phantom comes to adorn j I shed tears which flow to 



68 MADEMOISELLE UE MAUPIN. 

the ground without being dried ; I give to the winds kisses 
which are not returned ; I wear out my eyes trying to grasp 
in the distance an uncertain and deceitful form ; I wait for 
what is not to come, and I count the hours anxiously, as 
though I had an appointment to keep. 

"Whoever thou art, angel or demon, maid or courtesan, 
shepherdess or princess, whether thou comest from the north 
or from the south, thou whom 1 know not, and whom I love ! 
oh ! force me not to wait longer for thee, or the flame will 
consume the altar, and thou wilt find in the place of my heart 
but a heap of cold ashes. Descend from the sphere where 
thou art; leave the crystal skies, consoling spirit, and come 
thou to cast the shadow of thy mighty wings upon my soul. 
Come thou, woman whom I will love, that I may close about 
thee the arms that have been open for so long. Let the golden 
doors of the palace wherein she dwells turn on their hinges ; 
let the humble latch of her cottage rise ; let the branches in 
the woods and the briars of the wayside untwine themselves ; 
let the enchantments of the turret and the spells of the 
magicians be broken ; let the ranks of the crowd be opened 
up to suffer her to pass through. 

" If thou comest too late, O my ideal ! I shall not have the 
power left to love thee. My soul is like a dovecote full of 
doves. At every hour of the day there flies forth some desire. 
The doves return to the cote, but desires return not to the 
heart. The azure of the sky becomes white with their count- 
less swarms; they pass away, through space, from world to 
world, from clime to clime, in quest of some love where they 
may perch and pass the night : hasten thy step, O my dream ! 
or thou wilt find in the empty nest but the shells of the birds 
that have flown away. 

" My friend, companion of my childhood, to you alone 
could I relate such things as these. Write to me that you 
pity me, and that you do not reckon me a hypochondriac ; 
afford me comfort, for never did I need it more : how enviable 
are those who have a passion which they can satisfy ! The 
drunkard never encounters cruelty in his bottle. He fall? 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 69 

from the tavern into the kennel, and is more happy on his 
heap of filth than a king upon his throne. The sensualist goes 
to courtesans for facile amours or shameless refinements. A 
painted cheek, a short petticoat, a naked breast, a licentious 
speech, and he is happy ; his eye grows white, his lip is wet ; 
he attains the last degree of his happiness, he feels the rapture 
of his coarse voluptuousness. The gamester has need but of 
a green cloth and a pack of greasy and worn-out cards to 
obtain the keen pangs, nervous spasms, and diabolical enjoy- 
ments of his horrible passion. Such people as these may be 
sated or amused ; but that is impossible for me. 

" This idea has so taken possession of me that I no longer 
love the arts, and poetry has no longer any charm for me. 
What formerly transported me, makes not the least impression 
on me. 

" I begin to believe that I am in the wrong, and that I am 
asking more from nature and society than they can give. 
What I seek has no existence, and I ought not to complain for 
having failed to find it. Yet if the woman of our dreams is 
impossible to the conditions of human nature, what is it that 
causes us to love her only and none other, since we are men, 
and our instinct should be an infallible guide? Who has 
given us the idea of this imaginary woman ? From what clay 
have we formed this invisible statue ? Whence took we the 
feathers that we have placed on the back of this chimera? 
What mystic bird placed unnoted in some dark corner of our 
soul the egg from which there has come forth our dream ? 
What is this abstract beauty which we feel but cannot define? 
Why, in the presence of some woman who is often charming, do 
we sometimes say that she is beautiful, while we think her very 
ugly ? 

" Where is the model, the type, the inward pattern which 
affords us the standard of comparison? for beauty is not an 
absolute idea, and it can be estimated only by contrast. Have 
we seen it in the skies, in a star, at a ball, under a mother's 
shadow, the fresh bud of a leafless rose ? Was it in Italy or in 
Spain ? Was it here or was it there, yesterday or a long lime 



70 MADEMOISELLE DE MAITPIN. 

ago ? Was it the worshipped courtesan, the fashionable singer, 
the prince's daughter? A proud and noble head bending 
beneath a weighty diadem of pearls and rubies ? A young and 
childish face stooping among the nasturtiums and bindweeds at 
the window ? To what school belonged that picture in which 
this beauty stood out white and radiant amid the dark shadows ? 
Was it Raphael who caressed the outline that pleases you ? 
Was it Cleomenes who polished the marble that you adore? 
Are you in love with a Madonna or a Diana? Is your ideal 
an angel, a sylphid, or a woman ? 

" Alas ! it is something of all this, and yet it is not this. 

" Such transparency of tone, such freshness so charming and 
full of splendour, such flesh wherein runs so much blood and 
life, such beautiful flaxen hair spreading itself like a mantle of 
gold, such sparkling smiles and such amorous dimples, such 
shapes undulating like flames, such force and such suppleness, 
such satin gloss and such rich lines, such plump arms and such 
fleshy and polished backs all this exquisite health belongs to 
Rubens. Raphael alone could fill lineaments so chaste with 
that pale amber colour. What other, save he, curved those 
long eye-brows so delicate and so black, and spread the fringes 
of those eye-lashes so modestly cast down ? Do you think that 
Allegri goes for nothing in your ideal ? It is from him that the 
lady of your thoughts has stolen the dull, warm whiteness that 
enraptures you. She has stood for long before his canvases 
to surprise the secret of that angelic and ever full-blown smile; 
she has modelled the oval of her face on the oval of a nymph 
or a saint. That line of the hip which winds so voluptuously 
belongs to the sleeping Antiope. Those fat, delicate hands 
might be claimed by Danae or Magdalene. 

" Dusty antiquity itself has provided many of the materials 
or the composition of your young chimera. Those strong and 
supple loins around which you twine your arms with so much 
passion were sculptured by Praxiteles. That divinity has pur- 
posely suffered the tip of her charming little foot to pass 
through the ashes of Herculaneum that your idol may not be 
lame. Nature has also contributed her share. Here and there 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 71 

in the prism of desire you have seen a beautiful eye beneath 
a window-blind, an ivory brow pressed against a pane, a smiling 
mouth behind a fan. From a hand you have divined the arm, 
and from an ankle, the knee. What you saw was perfect ; you 
supposed the rest to be like what you saw, and you completed 
it with portions of other beauties obtained elsewhere. 

" Even the ideal beauty realised by the painters did not 
satisfy you, and you have sought from the poets more rounded 
curves, more ethereal forms, more divine charms, and more 
exquisite refinements. You have besought them to give 
breath and speech to your phantom, all their love, all their 
musing, all their joy and sadness, their melancholy and 
their morbidness, all their memories and all their hopes, 
their knowledge and their passions, their spirit and their 
heart. All this you have taken from them, and to crown the 
impossible you have added your own passion, your own 
spirit, your own dream, and your own thought. The star has 
lent its ray, the flower its fragrance, the palette its colour, the 
poet his harmony, the marble its form, and you your desire. 

" How could a real woman, eating and drinking, getting up 
in the morning and going to bed at night, however adorable 
and full of charm she might otherwise be, compare with a 
creature such as this ? It could not reasonably be expected, 
and yet it is expected and sought What strange blindness ! 
It is sublime or absurd. How I pity and how I admire those 
who pursue their dream in the teeth of all reality, and die 
content if they have but once kissed the lips of their chimera ! 
But what a fearful fate is that of a Columbus who has failed to 
discover his world, and of a lover who has not found his 
mistress ! 

"Ah! if I were a poet my songs should be consecrated to 
those whose lives have been failures ; whose arrows have missed 
the mark, who have died without speaking the word they had 
to utter and without pressing the hand that was destined for 
them; to all that has proved abortive and to all that has passed 
unnoticed, to the stifled fire, to the barren genius, to the 
unknown pearl in the depths of the sea, to all that has loved 



72 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

without return, and to all that has suffered with pity from 
none. It would be a noble task. 

" Plato was right in wishing to banish you from his republic, 
O ye poets ! for what evil have you wrought upon us ! How 
yet more bitter has our wormwood been rendered by your 
ambrosia! and how yet more arid and desolate seems our life to 
us after feasting our eyes on the vistas which you open up to us 
of the infinite ! How terrible a conflict have your dreams waged 
against our realities, and how have our hearts been trodden 
and trampled on by these rude athletes during the contest ! 

" We have sat down like Adam at the foot of the walls of 
the terrestrial paradise, on the steps of the staircase leading to 
the world which you have created, seeing a light brighter than 
the sun's flashing through the chinks of the door, and hear- 
ing indistinctly some scattered notes of a seraphic harmony. 
Whenever one of the elect enters or comes forth amid a flood 
of splendour, we stretch our necks trying to see something 
through the half-opened portal. The fairy architecture has 
not its .qual save in Arab tales. Piles of columns with arches 
superposed, pillars twisted in spirals, foliage marvellously 
carved, hollowed trefoils, porphyry, jaspar, lapis-lazuli but 
what know I of the transparencies and dazzling reflections, of 
the profusion of strange gems, sardonyx, chrysoberyl, aqua 
marina, rainbow-tinted opals, and azerodrach, with jets of 
crystals, torches that would make the stars grow pale, a 
lustrous vapour, giddy and filled with sound a luxury per- 
fectly Assyrian ! 

" The door swings to again, and you see no more. Your 
eyes, filled with corrosive tears, are cast down on this poor 
earth so impoverished and wan, on these ruined hovels and on 
this tattered race, on your soul, an arid rock where nothing 
living springs, on all the wretchedness and misfortune of 
reality. Ah ! if only we could fly so far, if the steps of that 
fiery staircase did not burn our feet ; but, alas ! Jacob's ladder 
can be ascended only by angels ! 

"What a fate is that of the poor man at the gate of the rich ! 
What keen irony is that of a palace facing a cottage the ideal 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 73 

facing the real, poetry facing prose ! What rooted hate must 
wring the heart-strings of the wretched beings ! What gnashings 
of teeth must sound through the night from their pallet, as the 
wind brings to their ears the sighs of theorbos and viols of 
love ! Poets, painters, sculptors, musicians, why have you lied 
to us ? Poets, why have you told us your dreams ? Painters, 
why have you fixed upon the canvas that impalpable phantom 
which ascended and descended with your fits of passion 
between your heart and your head, saying to us : ' This is a 
woman'? Sculptors, why have you taken marble from the 
depths of Carrara to make it express for ever, and to the eyes 
of all, your most secret and fleeting desire? Musicians, why 
have you listened during the night to the song of the stars and 
the flowers, and noted it clown ? Why have you made songs so 
beautiful that the sweetest voice saying to us, ' I love you,' 
seems hoarse as the grinding of a saw or the croaking of a 
crow? Curse you for impostors ! and may fire from heaven 
burn up and destroy all pictures, poems, statues, and musical 

scores But this is a tirade of interminable length, and one 

which deviates somewhat from the epistolary style. What a 
dose ! 

" I have given myself up nicely to lyrics, my dear friend, and 
I have now been writing bombast for some time absurdly 
enough. All this is very remote from our subject, which is, if 
I remember rightly, the glorious and triumphant history of the 
Chevalier d'Albert in his pursuit of the most beautiful princess 
in the world, as the old romances say. But in truth the 
history is so meagre that I am obliged to have recourse to 
digressions and reflections. I hope that it will not be always 
so, and that the romance of rny life will before long be more 
tangled and complicated than a Spanish imbroglio. 

" After wandering from street to street, I determined to go 
to one of my friends who was to introduce me to a house 
where, I was told, a world of pretty women were to be seen 
a collection of real ideals, enough to satisfy a score of poets. 
There were some to suit every taste aristocratic beauties with 
eagle looks, sea-green eyes, straight noses, proudly elevated 

K 



74 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

chins, royal hands, and the walk of a goddess ; silver lilies 
mounted on stalks of gold ; simple violets of pale colour and 
sweet perfume, with moist and downcast eye, frail neck, and 
diaphanous flesh ; lively and piquant beauties, affected beauties, 
and beauties of all sorts ; for the house is a very seraglio, minus 
the eunuchs and the kislar aga. 

" My friend tells me that he has already had five or six 
flames there quite as many. This seems to me prodigious in 
the extreme, and I greatly fear that I shall not be equally 

successful ; De C pretends that I shall, and that I shall 

succeed beyond my wishes. According to him, I have only 
one fault, which will be cured by time and by mixing in 
society : it is that I esteem woman too much and women not 
enough. It is quite possible that there may be some truth in 
this. He says that I shall be quite lovable when I have got 
rid of this little oddity. God grant it ! Women must feel that 
I despise them, for a compliment which they would think 
adorable and charming to the last degree in the mouth of 
another, angers and displeases them as much as the most 
cutting epigram when it proceeds from mine. This has pro- 
bably some connection with what De C objects to in me. 

" My heart beat a little as I ascended the staircase, and I 

had scarcely recovered from my emotion when De C , 

nudging me with his elbow, brought me face to face with a 
woman of about thirty years of age, rather handsome, attired 
with heavy luxury and an extreme affectation of childish 
simplicity, which, however, did not prevent her from being 
plastered with red paint like a coach wheel. It was the lady 
of the house. 

" De C , assuming that shrill mocking voice so different 

from his customary tones, and which he makes use of in society 
when he wishes to play the charmer, said to her, with many 
tokens of ironic respect, through which was visible the most 
.profound contempt : 

" ' This is the young fellow I spoke to you about the other 
day a man of the most distinguished merit. He belongs to 
one of the best families, and I think that it cannot but be 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 75 

agreeable to you to receive him. I have therefore taken the 
liberty to introduce him to you.' 

" ' You have certainly done quite right, sir,' replied the lady, 
mincing in the most exaggerated fashion. Then she turned 
to me, and, after looking me over with the corner of her eye 
after the manner of a skilled connoisseur, and in a way that 
made me blush to the tips of my ears, said, ' You may consider 
yourself as invited once for all, and come as often as you have 
an evening to throw away.' 

" I bowed awkwardly enough, and stammered out some 
unconnected words, which could not have given her a lofty 
opinion of my talents. The entrance of some other people 
released me from the irksomeness inseparable from an intro- 
duction, and De C , drawing me into a corner of the 

window, began to lecture me soundly. 

" ' The deuce ! You are going to compromise me. I 
announced you as a phoenix of wit, a man of unbridled imagi 
nation, a lyric poet, everything that is most transcendent and 
impassioned, and there you stand like a blockhead without 
uttering a word ! What a miserable imagination ! I thought 
your humour more fertile than that. But come, give your 
tongue the rein, and chatter right and left. You need not say 
sensible and judicious things ; on the contrary, that might do 
you harm. Speak that is the essential thing speak much 
and long. Draw attention to yourself ; cast aside all fear and 
modesty. Get it well into your head that all here are fools or 
nearly so, and do not forget that an orator who would succeed 
cannot despise his hearers enough. What do you think of the 
mistress of the house ? ' 

" ' She displeases me considerably already ; and, though I 
spoke to her for scarcely three minutes, I felt as bored as if I 
had been her husband.' 

" ' Ah ! is that what you think of her ? ' 

" ' Why, yes.' 

" ' Your dislike to her is then quite insurmountable ? Well, 
so much the worse. It would have been only decent to have 
courted her if but for a month. It is the proper thing to do, and 



76 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

a respectable young fellow cannot be introduced into society 
except through her.' 

" ' Well ! I'll pay court to her,' I replied with a piteous air, 
' since it is necessary. But is it so essential as you seem to 
think?' 

-'"Alas! yes, it is most indispensable, and I am going to 
explain the reasons to you. Madame de Thdmines is at pre- 
sent in vogue; she has all the absurdities of the day after a 
superior fashion, sometimes those of to-morrow, but never those 
of yesterday. She is quite in the swim. People wear what she 
wears, and she never wears what has been worn already. 
Furthermore she is rich, and her equipages are in the best 
taste. She has no wit, but much jargon ; she has keen likings 
and little passion. People please her, but do not move her. 
She has a cold heart and a licentious head. As to her soul 
if she has one, which is doubtful it is of the blackest, and 
there is no wickedness or baseness of which it is incapable; 
but she is very dexterous, and she keeps up appearances just so 
far as is necessary to prevent anything being proved against her. 
She will grant her favours to a man without ado, but will not 
write him the simplest note. Accordingly her most intimate 
enemies can find nothing to say about her except that she 
rouges too highly, and that certain portions of her person have 
not in truth all the roundness that they seem to possess which 
is false.' 

" ' How do you know ? ' 

" ' What a question ! in the only way one knows things of 
the kind, by finding out for myself.' 

" ' Then you've been intimate with Madame de Themines ? ' 

" ' Certainly! Why not? It would have been most unbe- 
coming if I had not had her. She has been of great service to 
me, and I am very grateful for it' 

"'I do not undei stand the nature of the services she can 
have rendered you.' 

" ' Are you really a fool then ? ' said De C , looking at 

me with the most comical air in the world. ' Upon my word, 
I am afraid so ? Must I tell you the whole story ? Madame 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 77 

de The'mines is reputed, and deservedly so, to have special 
knowledge on certain subjects, and a young man that she has 
taken up and favoured for a while may present himself boldly 
everywhere, and be sure that he will not remain for long without 
having an affair on hand, and two rather than one. Besides 
this unspeakable advantage, there is another no less important, 
which is, that as soon as the women of the world here see that you 
are the recognised lover of Madame de Thdmines, they will 
make it a pleasure and a duty, even if they have not the least 
liking for you, to c^rry you off from a woman who is the fashion 
as she is. Instead of the advances and proceedings that would 
have been necessary, you will not know where to choose, and 
you will of necessity become the object of all the allurements 
and affectations imaginable. 

" ' Nevertheless, if she inspires you with too great a repug- 
nance, do not take her. You are not exactly obliged to do so, 
though it would have been polite and proper. But make a 
choice quickly, and attack her who pleases you most, or who 
seems to afford you most facilities, for delay would lose you 
the benefit of novelty, and the advantage it gives you for a few 
days over all the cavaliers here. All these ladies have no con- 
ception of those passions which have their birth in intimacy, 
and develop slowly with respect and silence. They are for 
thunderbolts and occult sympathies something marvellously 
well imagined to save the tedium of resistance, and all the 
prolixity and repetition which sentiment mingles with the 
romance of love, and which only serve to delay the conclusion 
uselessly. These ladies are very economical of their time, and 
it appears so precious to them that they would be grieved to 
leave a single minute unemployed. They have a desire to 
oblige mankind, which cannot be too highly praised, and they 
love their neighbour as themselves, which is quite according 
to the Gospel, and very meritorious. They are very charitable 
creatures, who would not for anything in the world cause a man 
to die of despair. 

" ' There must be three or four already smitten in your 
favour, and I would advise you in a friendly way to pursue 



78 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

your point with spirit over these instead of amusing yourself 
gossiping with me in the embrasure of a window, which will 
not advance you to any great extent' 

" ' But, my dear De C , I am quite new to this kind oi 

thing. I am utterly without the power to distinguish at first 
sight a woman who is smitten from one who is not ; and I 
might make strange blunders if you did not assist me with 
your experience.' 

" ' You are really as primitive as you can be. I did not 
think that it was possible to be as pastoral and bucolic as that 
in the present blessed century ! What the devil do you do, then, 
with the large pair of black eyes that you have there, and that 
would have the most crushing effect if you knew how to make 
use of them ? 

" 'Just look yonder a moment at that little woman in rose, 
playing with her fan in the corner near the fireplace. She has 
been eyeing you for a quarter of an hour with the most signifi- 
cant fixity and assiduity. There is not another in the world 
who can be indecent after such a superior fashion, and display 
such noble shamelessness. She is greatly disliked by the 
women who despair of ever attaining to such a height of im- 
pudence, but to compensate for this, she is greatly liked by 
the men, who find in her all the piquancy of a courtesan. She 
is in truth charmingly depraved, and full of wit, spirit, and 
caprice. She is an excellent preceptor for a young man with 
prejudices. In a week she will rid your conscience of all 
scruples, and corrupt your heart in such a way that you will 
never be a subject for ridicule or elegy. She has inexpressibly 
practical ideas about everything ; she goes to the bottom of 
things with a swiftness and certainty that are astonishing. She 
is algebra incarnate, is that little woman. She is precisely 
what is needed by a dreamer and an enthusiast. She will soon 
cure you of your vapourish idealism, and she will do you a 
great service. She will moreover do it with the greatest 
pleasure, for it is an instinct with her to disenchant poets/ 

" My curiosity being aroused by De C 's description, I 

left my retreat, and gliding through the various groups, ap 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 79 

preached the lady, and looked at her with much attention. 
She was perhaps twenty-five or twenty-six years of age. Her 
figure was small, but well made, though somewhat inclined to 
embonpoint. Her arm was white and plump, her hand noble, her 
foot pretty and even too delicate, her shoulders full and glossy, 
and her bosom small, but what there was of it very satisfactory, 
and giving a favourable idea of the remainder. As to her hair, it 
was splendid in the extreme, of a blue black, like that of a 
jackdaw's wing. The corner of her eye was turned up rather 
high towards the temple, her nose slender with very open 
nostrils, her mouth humid and sensual, a little furrow in the 
lower lip, and an almost imperceptible down where the upper 
was united to it. And with all this there was such life, anima- 
tion, health, force, and such an indefinable expression of lust 
skilfully tempered with coquetry and intrigue, that she was in 
short a very desirable creature, and more than justified the 
eager likings which she had inspired and still inspired every 
day. 

" I wished for her; but I nevertheless understood that, agree- 
able as she was, she was not the woman who would realise my 
desire, and make me say, ' At last I have a mistress ! ' 

" I returned to De C and said to him : 'I. like the lady 

well enough, and I shall perhaps make arrangements with her. 
But before saying anything definite and binding, I should be 
very glad if you would be kind enough to point me out these in- 
dulgent beauties who had the goodness to be smitten with me, 
so that I may make a choice. It would please me too, seeing 
that you are acting as demonstrator to me here, if you would add 
a little account of them with the nomenclature of their qualities 
and their defects, the manner in which they should be attacked, 
and the tone to adopt with them in order that I may not look 
too much like a provincial or an author.' 

" ' Willingly,' said De C . ' Do you see that beautiful, 

melancholy swan, displaying her neck so harmoniously, and 
moving her sleeves as though they were wings ? She is modesty 
itself everything that is chastest and most maidenly in the 
world. She has a brow of snow, a heart of ice, the looks of a 



Bo MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

Madonna, the smile of a simpleton, her dress is white, and he. 
soul is the same. She puts nothing but orange-blossoms or 
leaves of the water-lily in her hair, and she is connected with 
the earth only by a thread. She has never had an evil thought, 
and she is profoundly ignorant of how a man differs from a 
woman. The Holy Virgin is a Bacchante beside her, which, 
however, does not prevent her from having had more lovers 
than any other woman of my acquaintance, and that is saying 
a good deal. Just examine this discreet person's bosom for a 
moment ; it is a little masterpiece, and it is really difficult to 
show so much while hiding more. Say, is she not, with all her 
restrictions and all her prudery, ten times more indecent than 
that good lady on her left, who is making a grand show of two 
hemispheres, which, if they were joined together, would make 
a map of the world of natural size, or than the other on her 
right, whose dress is open almost to her stomach, and who is 
parading her nothingness with charming intrepidity ? 

" ' This maidenly creature, if I am not greatly mistaken, has 
already computed in her head the amount of love and passion 
promised by your paleness and black eyes, and what makes me 
say so is the fact that she has not once, apparently, at least, 
looked towards you ; for she can move her eyes with so much 
art, and look out of the corner of them so skilfully, that nothing 
escapes her ; one would think that she could see out of the back 
of her head, for she knows perfectly well what is going on be- 
hind her. She is a female Janus. If you would succeed with 
her you must lay swaggering and victorious manners aside. You 
must speak to her without looking at her, without making any 
movement, in an attitude of contrition, and in suppressed and 
respectful tones. In this way you may say to her what you 
will, provided it be suitably veiled, and she will allow you the 
greatest freedom at first of speech, and afterwards of action. 
Only be careful to look at her with tenderness when her own 
eyes are cast down, and speak to her of the sweets of platonic 
love and of the intercourse of the soul, while employing the 
least platonic and ideal pantomime in the world ! She is very 
sensual and very susceptible ; embrace her as much as you 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. Xi 

like ; but, when most freely intimate with her, do not forget to 
call her madame two or three times in every sentence. She 
quarrelled with me because when I was most intimate with 
)ier I addressed her familiarly when saying something or other. 
The devil! a woman is not virtuous for nothing.' 

" ' I have no great desire to hazard the adventure, after 
what you have told me. A prudish Messalina ! the union is 
monstrous and strange.' 

" ' It is as old as the world, my dear fellow ! It is to be 
seen every day, and nothing is more common. You are wrong 
not to have fixed upon her. She has one great charm, which 
is, that with her a man always seems to be committing mortal 
sin, and the least kiss appears perfectly damnable, while in the 
case of others he scarcely thinks the sin a venial one, and often 
even thinks nothing of it at all. That is why I kept her longer 
than any other mistress. I should have had her still if she 
had not left me herself. She is the only woman who has 
anticipated me, and I have a certain respect for her on that 
account. She has little voluptuous refinements of the most 
exquisite delicacy, and she possesses the great art of making it 
appear that she has wrested from her what she grants very 
willingly a circumstance which gives each of her favours 
a peculiar charm. You will find in the world ten of her 
lovers who will swear to you on their honour that she is the 
most virtuous creature in existence. She is just the contrary. 
It is a curious study to anatomise virtue of that kind on a 
pillow. Being forewarned you will not run any risk, and you 
will not have the awkwardness to fall really in love with her.' 

" ' And how old is this adorable person ? ' I asked, for, 
examining her with the most scrupulous attention, I found it 
impossible to determine her age. 

" ' Ah ! how old is she ? That is just the mystery, and God 
alone knows. I who pique myself on telling a woman's age to 
within a minute have never been able to find out. I merely 
estimate approximately that she is perhaps from eighteen to 
thirty-six years of age. I have seen her in full dress, in dis- 
habille, and less scantily clad, and I can tell you nothing 



82 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

with respect to this. My knowledge is at fault ; the age 
which she seems particularly to be is eighteen, yet that cannot 
be the case. She has the body of a maiden and the soul of 
a gay woman, and to become so deeply and so speciously 
depraved, much time or genius is necessary ; it is needful to 
have a heart of bronze in a breast of steel : she has neither 
one nor the other, and I therefore think that she is thirty-six ; 
but practically I do not know.' 

" ' Has she no intimate friend who could give you informa- 
tion on this point ? ' 

" ' No. She arrived in this town two years ago. She came 
from the country, or from abroad, I forget which an admirable 
situation for a woman who knows how to turn it to account. 
With such a face as hers she might give herself any age she 
liked, and date only from the day that she arrived here.' 

" ' Nothing could be more pleasant, especially when some 
impertinent wrinkle does not come to give you the lie, and 
time, the Great Destroyer, has the goodness to lend himself to 
this falsification of the certificate of baptism.' 

" He showed me some others who, according to him, would 
favourably receive all the petitions that it might please me to 
address to them, and would treat me with most particular 
philanthropy. But the woman in rose at the corner of the 
fire-place, and the modest dove who served as her antithesis, 
were incomparably better than all the rest ; and if they had 
not all the qualities which I require, they had, in appearance 
at least, some of them. 

I conversed the whole evening with them, especially with 
the latter, and was careful to cast my ideas in the most re- 
spectful mould. Although she scarcely looked at me, I 
thought that I saw her eyes gleam sometimes beneath their 
curtain of eyelashes, and, when I ventured some rather lively 
gallantries, clothed, however, in most modest guise, a little 
blush, checked and suppressed, pass two or three lines below 
her skin, similar to that produced by a rose-coloured liquid 
when poured into a semi-opaque cup. Her replies were, in 
general, sober and circumspect, vet acute and full of point, 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 83 

and they suggested more than they expressed. All this was 
intermingled with omissions, hints, indirect allusions, each 
syllable having its purpose, and each silence its import. 
Nothing in the world could have been more diplomatic and 
more charming. And yet, whatever pleasure I may have 
taken in it for the moment, I could not keep up a conversa- 
tion of the kind for long. One must be perpetually on the 
alert and on one's guard, and what I like best of all in a chat 
is freedom and familiarity. 

" We spoke at first of music, which led us quite naturally to 
speak of the Opera, next of women, and then of love, a sub- 
ject in which it is easier than in any other to find means of 
passing from the general to the particular. We vied with 
each other in making love ; you would have laughed to listen 
to me. In truth, Amadis on the poor Roche was but a 
pedant without fire beside me. There was generosity, and ab- 
negation, and devotion enough to cause the deceased Roman, 
Curtius, to blush for shame. I really did not think myself 
capable of such transcendent balderdash and bombast. 

" I playing at the most quintessential Platonism does it 
not strike you as a most facetious thing, as the best comedy 
scene that could be presented ? And then, good heavens ! 
the perfectly devout air, the little, demure, and hypocritical 
ways that I displayed ! I looked most innocent, and any 
mother who had heard me reasoning would not have hesi- 
tated at all in letting me go about with her daughter, and any 
husband would have entrusted his wife to me. On that 
evening I appeared more virtuous, and was less so than ever 
in my life before. I thought that it was more difficult than 
that to play the hypocrite, and to say things without in the 
least believing them. It must be easy enough, or I must be 
very apt to have succeeded so agreeably the first time. In 
truth, I have some fine moments. 

" As to the lady, she said many things that were most in- 
geniously detailed, and which, in spite of the appearance of 
frankness which she threw into them, denoted the most con- 
summate experience. You can form no idea of the subtlety 



84 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

of her distinctions. That woman would saw a hair into three 
parts lengthways, and would disconcert all the angelic and 
seraphic doctors. For the rest, she speaks in such a manner 
that it is impossible to believe that she has even the shadow 
of a body. She is immaterial, vaporous, and ideal enough to 

make you break your arms, and if De C had not warned 

me about the ws^C of the animal, I should assuredly have 
despaired of success, and have stood piteously aside. And 
when a woman tells you for two hours, with the most dis- 
engaging air in the world, that love lives only by privations 
and sacrifices, and other fine things of the sort, how the devil 
can you decently hope to persuade her some day to place her- 
self in such a situation with you as will enable you to discover 
whether you are both made alike ? 

" In short, we separated on very friendly terms, with re- 
ciprocal congratulations on the loftiness and purity of our 
sentiments. 

"The conversation with the other one was, as you may 
imagine, of quite an opposite description. We laughed as 
much as we spoke. We made fun very wittily of all the 
women who were there ; but I am mistaken when I say : 
' We made fun of them very wittily.' I should have said that 
' she ' did so, for a man can never laugh effectively at a 
woman. For my part, I listened and approved, for it would 
have been impossible to draw a more lively sketch, or to colour 
it more highly. It was the most curious gallery of caricatures 
that I have ever seen. In spite of the exaggeration, one could 

see the truth underlying it. De C was quite right ; the 

mission of this woman is to disenchant poets. She has about 
her an atmosphere of prose in which a poetical thought can- 
not live. 

" She is charming and sparkling with wit, yet beside her 
one thinks only of base and vulgar things. While speaking to 
her I felt a crowd of desires incongruous and impracticable in 
the place where I was, such as to call for wine and get drunk, 
to place her on one of my knees and madly kiss her, to raise 
the hem of her skirt and see whether her ankle was slender or 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 85 

just the reverse, to sing a ribald refrain with all my might, 
to smoke a pipe, or to break the windows in short, to do 
anything. All the animal part, all the brute, rose within me ; 
I would willingly have spat on the Iliad of Homer ; and I 
would have gone on my knees to a ham. I can now quite 
understand the allegory of the companions of Ulysses being 
changed into swine by Circe. Circe was probably some lively 
creature like my little woman in rose. 

" Shameful to relate, I experienced great delight in feeling 
myself overtaken by brutishness ; I made no resistance, but 
assisted it as much as I could so natural is depravity to man, 
and so much mire is there in the clay of which he is formed. 

" Yet for one moment I feared the canker that was seizing 
upon me, and wished to leave my corrupter; but the floor 
seemed to have risen to my knees, and it was as though I were 
set fast in my place. 

" At last I took it on me to leave her, and, the evening being 
far advanced, I returned home much perplexed and troubled, 
and without very well knowing what to do. I hesitated 
between the prude and her opposite. I found voluptuousness 
in one and piquancy in the other, and after a most minute and 
searching self-examination, I found, not that I loved them 
both, but that I wished sufficiently for them both, for one as 
much as for the other, to dream about them and be preoccupied 
with the thought of them. 

" To all appearance, my friend, I shall gain over one of these 
women, and perhaps both ; and yet I confess to you that the 
possession of them will only half satisfy me. It is not that they 
are not very pretty, but at sight of them nothing cried out 
within me, nothing panted, nothing said : ' It is they.' I did 
not recognise them. Nevertheless, I do not think that I shall 
meet with anything much better so far as birth and beauty are 

concerned, and De C advises me to go no further. I shall 

certainly take his advice, and one or other of them will be my 
mistress, or the devil will take me before very long ; but at the 
bottom of my heart a secret voice reproaches me for being false 
to my love, and for stopping thus at the first smile of a woman 



86 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

for whom I care nothing, instead of seeking untiringly through 
the world, in cloisters and in evil places, in palaces and in 
taverns, for her who, whether she be princess or serving-maid, 
nun or courtesan, has been made for me and destined to me 
by God. 

" Then I say to myself that I am fancying chimeras, and that 
it is after all just the same whether I sleep with this woman 
or with another ; that it will not cause the earth to deviate by 
a hair's breadth from its path, or the four seasons to reverse 
their order; that nothing in the world can be of smaller 
moment ; and that I am very simple to torment myself with 
such crotchets. This is what I say to myself; but it is all in 
vain ! I am not moie tranquil nor resolved than before. 

" This, perhaps, results from the fact that I live a great deal 
with myself, and that the most petty details in a life so mono- 
tonous as mine assume too great an importance. I pay too 
much attention to my living and thinking. I hearken to the 
throbbing of my arteries, and the beatings of my heart ; by dint 
of close attention I detach my most fleeting ideas from the 
cloudy vapour in which they float, and give them a body. 
If I acted more I should not perceive all these petty things, 
and I should not have time to be looking at my soul through 
a microscope, as I do the whole day long. The noise of 
action would put to flight this swarm of idle thoughts which 
flutter through my heart, and stun me with the buzzing of their 
wings. Instead of pursuing phantoms I should grapple with 
realities ; I should ask from women only what they can give 
pleasure ; and I should not seek to embrace some fantastic 
ideal attired in cloudy perfections. 

"This intense straining of the eye of my soul after an 
invisible object has distorted my vision. I cannot see what is 
for my gazing at what is not ; and my eye, so keen for the 
ideal, is perfectly near-sighted in matters of reality. Thus I 
have known women who are declared charming by everybody, 
and who appear to me to be anything but that. I have greatly 
admired pictures generally considered bad, and odd or unintel- 
ligible verses have given me more pleasure than the most 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 87 

worthy productions. I should not be astonished if, after offer- 
ing up so many sighs to the moon, staring so often at the stars, 
and composing so many elegies and sentimental apostrophes, 
I were to fall in love with some vulgar prostitute or some ugly 
old woman. That would be a fine downfall ! Reality will 
perhaps revenge herselt in this way ior the carelessness with 
which I have courted her. Would it not be a nice thing if I 
were to be smitten with a fine romantic passion for some 
awkward cross-patch or some abominable trollop ? Can you 
see me playing the guitar beneath a kitchen window, and 
ousted by a scullion carrying the pug of an old dowager who 
is getting lid of her last tooth? 

" Perhaps, too, finding nothing in the world worthy of my 
love, I shall end by adoring myself, like the late Narcissus of 
egotistical memory. To secure myself against so great a mis- 
fortune, I look into all the mirrors and all the brooks that 1 
come across. In truth, with my reveries and aberrations, I am 
tremendously afraid of falling into the monstrous or unnatural. 
It is a serious matter, and I must take care. 

" Good-bye, my friend ; I am going directly to see the lady in 
rose, lest I should give myself up to my customary meditations. 
I do not think that we pay much attention to entelechia, and 
I imagine that anything we may do will have no connection with 
spiritualism, although she is a very spiritual creature : I carefully 
roll up the pattern of my ideal mistress, and put it away in a 
drawer, that I may not use it as a test with her. I wish to 
enjoy peacefully the beauties and the merits that she possesses. 
I wish to leave her attired in a robe that suits her, without trying 
to adapt for her the vesture that I have cut out beforehand, and 
at all hazards for the lady of my thoughts. These are very 
wise resolutions ; I do not know whether I shall keep them 
Once more, good-bye." 



m. 




AM the established lover of the lady m rose; it 
is almost a calling or a charge, and gives one 
stability in society. I am no longer like a 
schoolboy seeking good luck among the grand- 
mothers, and not venturing to utter a madrigal to a woman 
unless she is a centenarian. I perceive that since my installa- 
tion people think more of me, that all the women speak to me 
with jealous coquetry, and put themselves very much about on 
my account The men, on the contrary, are colder, and there 
is something of hostility and constraint in the few words that 
we exchange. They feel that they have in me a rival who is 
already formidable, and who may become more so. 

" I have been told that many of them had criticised my 
manner of dress with bitterness, and said that it was too 
effeminate; that my hair was curled and glossed with over 
much care; that this, joined to my beardless face, gave me the 
most ridiculously foppish appearance ; that for my garments I 
affected rich and splendid materials which had the odour of 
the theatre about them, and that I was more like an actor 
than a man all the commonplaces in fact that people utter 
in order to give themselves the right of being dirty and of 
wearing sorry and badly-cut coats. But all this only 
serves to whitewash me, and all the ladies think that my 
hair is the handsomest in the world, and that my refinements 
in dress are in the best taste, and they seem very much in- 
clined to indemnify me for the expense I have gone to on 
their account for they are not so foolish as to believe that 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 89 

all this elegance is merely intended for my own personal 
adornment. 

" The lady of the house seemed at first somewhat piqued by 
my choice, which she had thought must of necessity have fallen 
upon herself, and for a few days she harboured some bitterness 
on account of it (towards her rival only; for she has always spoken 
in the same way to me), which manifested itself in sundry little 
' My dears,' uttered in that sharp, jerky manner which is the ex- 
clusive property of women, and in sundry unkind opinions re- 
specting her toilet given in as loud a tone as possible, such as : 
' Your hair is dressed a great deal too high, and does not suit 
your face in the least;' or, 'Your bodice is creased under the 
arms ; whoever made that dress for you ? ' or, ' You look very 
wearied ; you seem quite changed ; ' and a thousand other small 
observations, to which the other failed not to reply when an 
opportunity presented itself with all the malice that could be 
desired ; and if the opportunity did not come soon enough, 
she herself provided one for her own use, and gave back more 
than she had received. But another object diverting the 
attention of the slighted Infanta, this little wordy war soon 
came to an end, and things returned to their usual order. 

" I have told you summarily that I am the established lover 
of the lady in rose, but that is not enough for so exact a man as 
you. You will no doubt ask me what she is called. As to 
her name, I will not tell it to you ; but if you like, to facilitate 
the narrative, and in memory of the colour of the dress in 
which I saw her for the first time, we will call her Rosette ; it 
is a pretty name, and it was thus that my little puss was called. 

" You will wish to know in detail for you love precision in 
matters of this kind the history of our loves with this fair 
Bradamant, and by what successive gradations I passed from 
the general to the particular, and from the condition of simple 
spectator to that of actor ; how from being an indifferent 
onlooker I have become a lover. I will gratify your wish 
with the greatest pleasure. There is nothing sinister in our 
romance. It is rose-coloured, and no tears are shed in it save 
those of pleasure ; no delays or repetitions are to be met 

F 



90 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

with in it ; and everything advances towards the end with the 
haste and swiftness so strongly recommended by Horace ; it 
is a truly French romance. 

" Nevertheless, do not imagine that I carried the fortress at 
the first assault. The Princess, though very humane towards 
her subjects, is not so lavish of her favours as one might 
think at first. She knows the value of them too well not to 
make you buy them ; and she further knows too well the 
eagerness given to desire by apt delay, and the flavour given 
to pleasure by a show of resistance, to surrender herself to you 
all at once, however strong the liking may be with which you 
have inspired her. 

" To tell you the story in full I must go a little further back. 
I gave you a sufficiently circumstantial narrative of our first 
interview. I had one or two more in the same house, or per- 
haps three, and then she invited me to go and see her ; I did 
not wait to be pressed, as you may well believe ; I went at 
first with discretion, then somewhat oftener, then oftener still, 
and at last whenever I felt so inclined, and I must confess that 
that happened at least three or four times a day. The lady, 
after a few hours' absence, always received me as if I had just 
returned from the East Indies ; I was very sensible of this, and 
it obliged me to show my gratitude in a manner marked with 
the greatest gallantry and tenderness in the world, to which 
she responded to the best of her ability. 

" Rosette, since we have agreed to call her so, is a woman 
of great sense, and one who understands men admirably; and 
although she delayed the conclusion of the chapter for some 
time, I was never once out of temper with her. This is truly 
wonderful, for you know the fine passions I fall into when I 
have not at once what I desire, and when a woman exceeds the 
time that I have assigned her, in my head, for her surrender. 

" I do not know how she managed it, but from the first in- 
terview she gave me to understand that she would be mine, and 
t was more sure of it than if I had had the promise written 
and signed with her own hand. It will be said, perhaps, that 
the boldness and ease of her manners left the ground clear 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUFiN. 91 

for the rashness of hopes. I do not think that this can be the 
true reason : I have seen some women whose extraordinary 
freedom excluded in a measure the very shadow of a doubt, 
who have yet not produced this effect upon me, and with 
whom I have experienced timidity and disquietude when they 
were at the least out of place. 

" What makes me much less amiable with the women whom 
I wish to overcome than with those about whom I am un- 
concerned, is the passionate waiting for the opportunity, and 
the uncertainty in which I am respecting the success of my 
undertaking : this makes me gloomy, and throws me into a 
delirium, which robs me of many of my talents and much of my 
presence of mind. When I see the hours which I had destined 
for a different employment escaping one by one, anger seizes 
me in spite of myself, and I cannot prevent myself from say- 
ing very sharp and bitter things, which are sometimes even 
brutal, and which throw things back a hundred leagues. 
With Rosette I felt nothing of all this ; never, even when 
she was resisting me the most, had I the idea that she wished 
to escape my love. I allowed her quietly to display all her 
little coquetries, and I endured with patience the somewhat 
long delays which it pleased her to inflict on my ardour. Her 
severity had something smiling in it which consoled you as 
much as possible, and in her most Hyrcanian cruelties you 
had a glimpse of a background of humanity which hardly 
allowed you to have any serious fear. 

" Virtuous women, even when they are least so, have a cross 
and disdainful appearance which to me is intolerable. They 
always look as if they were ready to ring the bell and have you 
kicked out of the house by their lackeys ; and I really think 
that a man who takes the trouble to pay his addresses to a 
woman (which as it is, is not so agreeable as one would fain 
believe) does not deserve to be looked at in that way. 

" Our dear Rosette has no such looks and, I assure you, 
that it is to her advantage. She is the only woman with whom 
I have been myself, and I have the conceit to say that I have 
never been so good. My wit is freely displayed, and by the 



92 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

dexterity and the fire of her replies she has made me discover 
more than I credited myself with, and more, perhaps, than I 
really have. It is true that I have not been very logical ; that 
is scarcely possible with her. It is not, however, that she has 

not her poetical side, in spite of what De C said about it; 

but she is so full of life, and force, and movement, she seems 
so well off in the atmosphere in which she is, that one has no 
wish to leave it in order to ascend into the clouds. She fills 
real life so agreeably, and makes such an amusing thing of it 
for herself and others, that dreamland has nothing better to 
offer you. 

"What a wonderful thing! I have known her now for 
nearly two months, and during that time I have felt weary only 
when I was not with her. You will acknowledge that it is no 
ordinary woman that can produce such an effect, for usually 
women produce just the reverse effect upon me, and please me 
much more at a distance than when close at hand. 

" Rosette has the best disposition in the world, with men, 
be it understood, for with women she is as wicked as a devil. 
She is gay, lively, alert, ready for everything, very original in 
her way of speaking, and always with some charming and un- 
expected drolleries to say to you. She is a delicious com- 
panion, a pretty comrade whom one is fond of, rather than a 
mistress, and if I had a few years more and a few romantic 
ideas less, it would be all one to me, and I should even 
esteem myself the most fortunate mortal in existence. But 
but a particle which announces nothing good, and this little 
limiting devil of a word is unfortunately more used than any 
other in all human languages ; but I am a fool, an idiot, a 
veritable ninny who can be satisfied with nothing, and who is 
always conjuring up difficulties where none exist, and I am 
only half happy instead of being wholly so. Half is a good 
deal for this world of ours, and yet I do not find it enough. 

" In the eyes of all the world I have a mistress whom many 
wish for and envy me, and whom no one would disdain. My 
desire is therefore apparently fulfilled, and I have no longer 
any right to pick quarrels with fate. Yet I do not seem to 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 93 

have a mistress ; I understand by reasoning that such is the 
case, but I do not feel it to be so, and if some one were to 
ask me unexpectedly whether I had one, I believe I should 
answer ' No.' Nevertheless, the possession of a woman who has 
beauty and wit constitutes what at all times and in all lands 
has been and is called having a mistress, and I do not think 
that any other mode exists. This does not prevent me from 
having the strangest doubts on the subject, and it has gone so 
far that if several persons were to conspire to affirm to me that 
I am not Rosette's favoured lover, I should, in spite of the 
palpable evidence to the contrary, end by believing them. 

" Do not imagine from what I have told you that I do not 
love her, or that she displeases me in any way. On the 
contrary, I love her very much, and I find her, as all the rest 
of the world will find her, a pretty, piquant creature. I simply 
do not feel that she is mine, and that is all. And yet no woman 
has ever made herself more engaging, and if ever I have under- 
stood what voluptuousness is, it was in her arms. A single 
kiss from her, the chastest of her endearments, makes me 
quiver to the soles of my feet, and sends all my blood flowing 
back to my heart. Account for all this if you can. It is just 
as I tell you. But the heart of man is full of such absurdities, 
and if it were necessary to reconcile all its contradictions, we 
should have enough to do. 

" What can be the origin of this ? In truth I do not know. 

" I see her the whole day, and even the whole night if I 
wish. I give her all the caresses that I please when we are by 
ourselves both in town or in the country. Her complaisance 
is inexhaustible, and she enters thoroughly into all my caprices, 
however whimsical they may be. One evening I was seized with 
a fancy to roughly fondle her in the drawing-room, with the lustre 
and candles lighted, a fire on the hearth, the easy chairs 
arranged as if for a great evening reception, she dressed for a 
ball with her bouquet and fan, all her diamonds on her fingers 
and neck, plumes on her head, and in the most splendid 
costume possible, while I myself was dressed like a bear. She 
consented to my whim. When all was ready the servants were 



94 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

greatly surprised to receive an order not to allow anybody to 
come up ; they did not seem to understand it in the least, and 
they went off with a dazed look which made us laugh greatly 
Without doubt they thought that their mistress was distinctly 
mad, but what they did or did not think was of little moment 
to us. 

" It was the drollest evening of my life. Imagine to yourself 
the appearance I must have presented with my plumed hat 
under my paw, rings on all my claws, a little sword with a silver 
guard, and a sky-blue ribbon at the hilt. I approached the 
fair one, and after making her a most graceful bow, seated 
myself by her side, and laid siege to her in all due form. The 
affected madrigals, the exaggerated gallantries which I ad- 
dressed to her, all the jargon of the occasion was singularly 
set off by passing through my bear's muzzle, for I had a superb 
head of painted cardboard, which, however, I was soon obliged 
to throw under the table, so adorable was my deity that even* 
ing, and so greatly did I long to kiss her hand, and something 
better than her hand. The skin followed close on the head, 
for, not being accustomed to play the bear, I was greatly stifled 
in it and more so than was necessary. 

" The ball costume had then a fine time of it, as you may 
believe ; the plumes fell like snow around my beauty, her 
round white shoulders were scarcely confined by the sleeves, 
her bosom heaved above her corset, her feet emerged from her 
shoes. The necklaces became unstrung, and rolled on the 
floor, and I think that never was more fresh a dress more 
piteously crushed and rumpled ; the dress was of silver gauze, 
with a lining of white satin. Rosette displayed on this occa- 
sion a heroism which was quite beyond that of her sex, and 
which gave me the highest opinion of her. She looked on at 
the wreck of her toilet as though she were a disinterested 
spectator, and not for a single instant did she show the least 
regret for her dress and her laces ; on the contrary, she was 
madly gay, and even assisted herself in the ill-treatment 
to which her finery was subjected by me at the height of 
my frenzy. 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 95 

" Do you not think this fine enough to be recorded in history 
beside the most splendid deeds of the heroes of antiquity? 
The greatest proof of love that a woman can give her lover is 
not to say to him : 'Take care not to rumple me or stain me,' 
especially if her dress is new. A new dress is a stronger 
motive for a husband's security than is commonly believed. 
Rosette must worship me, or she possesses a philosophy 
superior to that of Epictetus. 

" However, I think that I paid Rosette the worth of her 
dress in caresses a coin which is not the less esteemed and 
prized that it does not pass current with the shopkeepers. 
So much heroism as she displayed well deserved a reward, 
and, like a generous woman, she well repaid what I be- 
stowed on her. I experienced a mad delight, such as I did 
not believe myself capable of feeling. Those sounding 
kisses mingled with piercing laughs, those quivering and 
impatient caresses, all that irritating enjoyment, that incom- 
plete pleasure, a hundred times keener than if it had been 
without impediment, had such an effect upon my nerves that 
I was seized with acute spasms, from which I recovered with 
difficulty. 

" You cannot imagine the tender and proud air with which 
Rosette looked at me, and the manner, full of joy and dis- 
quietude, in which she busied herself about me. Her face 
still radiated the pleasure which she felt at producing such an 
effect upon me, while at the same time her eyes, bathed in 
gentle tears, bore witness to the fear that she experienced at 
seeing me ill, and the interest that she took in my health. 
Never has she appeared to me so beautiful as she did at that 
moment. There was something so maternal and so chaste in 
her look, that I totally forgot the more than Anacreonic scene 
which had just taken place, and, kneeling before her, asked 
permission to kiss her hand. This she granted me with 
singular gravity and dignity. 

" Assuredly such a woman is not so depraved as De C 

pretends, and as she has often seemed to myself. Her corrup- 
tion is of the mind, and not of the heart 



96 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

" I have quoted this scene to you from among twenty others, 
and it seems to me that after this a man might, without extreme 
conceit, believe himself to be a woman's lover. Well, it is 
what I do not do. I had scarcely returned home when the 
same thought again took possession of me, and began to 
torment me as usual. I remembered perfectly all that I had 
done and seen done. The most trivial gestures and attitudes, 
all the most petty details, were very clearly delineated in my 
memory; I recalled everything, to the lightest inflections of 
voice and the most fleeting shades of enjoyment; and yet I 
did not seem to realize that all these things had happened to 
myself rather than to another. I was not sure that it was not 
an illusion, a phantasmagoria, a dream, or that I had not read 
it somewhere, or even that it was not a tale composed by 
myself, just as similar ones had often been made by me. I 
was afraid of being the dupe of my own credulity and the butt of 
some hoax; and in spite of the witness borne by my lassitude, 
and the material proofs that I had slept elsewhere, I would 
have been ready to believe that I had put myself under my 
bedclothes at my usual time, and had slept till morning. 

" I am very unfortunate in not having the capacity to acquire 
the moral certainty of a thing, the physical certainty of which I 
possess. Generally the reverse happens, and it is the fact that 
proves the idea. I would fain prove the fact to myself by the 
idea ; I cannot do so ; though this is singular enough, it is the 
case. The possession of a mistress depends upon myself up to 
a certain point, but I cannot bring myself to believe that I have 
one while having her ail the time. If I have not the necessary 
faith within me, even for something so evident as this, it is as 
impossible for me to believe in so simple a fact as it is for 
another to believe in the Trinity. Faith is not acquired ; it is 
purely a gift, a special grace from Heaven. 

" Never has any one desired so strongly as myself to live the 
life of others, and to assimilate another nature ; never has any 
one succeeded less in doing so. Whatever I may do, other 
men are to me scarcely anything but phantoms, and I have no 
sense of their existence ; yet it is not the desire to recognise 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 97 

their life and to participate in it that is wanting in me. It is 
the power, or the lack of real sympathy for anything. The 
existence or non-existence of a thing or person does not 
interest me sufficiently to affect me in a sensible and con- 
vincing manner. 

" The sight of a woman or a man who appears to me in real 
life leaves no stronger traces upon my soul than the fantastic 
vision of a dream. About me there moves, with dull humming 
sound, a pale world of shadows and semblances false or true, 
in the midst of which I am as isolated as possible, for none of 
them acts on me for good or evil, and they seem to me to be 
of quite a different nature. If I speak to them, and they reply 
to me with something like common-sense, I am as much sur- 
prised as if my dog or my cat were suddenly to begin to speak 
and mingle in the conversation. The sound of their voice 
always astonishes me, and I would be very ready to believe 
that they are merely fleeting appearances whose objective 
mirror I am. Inferior or superior, I am certainly not of their 
kind. 

" There are moments when I recognise none save God 
above me, and others, when I judge myself scarcely the equal 
of the wood-louse beneath its stone, or the mollusc on its sand- 
bank ; but in whatever state of mind I may be, whether lofty 
or depressed, I have never been able to persuade myself that 
men were really my fellows. When people call me ' Sir,' or in 
speaking about me, say, ' this man,' it appears very singular to 
me. Even my name seems to me but an empty one, and not 
in reality mine, yet no matter in how low a tone it be pro- 
nounced amidst the loudest noise, I turn suddenly with a con- 
vulsive and feverish eagerness for which I have never been 
able to account to myself. Can it be the dread of finding in 
this man who knows my name, and to whom I am no longer 
one of the crowd, an antagonist or an enemy? 

"It is especially when I have been living with a woman 
that I have most felt the invincible repugnance of my nature 
to any alliance or mixture. I am like a drop of oil in a glass 
of water. It is in vain that you turn and move the latter ; the 



98 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

oil can never unite with it It will divide itself into a hundred 
thousand little globules which will reunite and mount again to 
the surface as soon as there is a moment's calm. The drop of 
oil and the glass of water such is my history. Even volup- 
tuousness, that diamond chain which binds all creatures 
together, that devouring fire which melts the rocks and metals 
of the soul, and makes them fall in tears, as material fire causes 
iron and granite to melt, has never, all powerful as it is, suc- 
ceeded in taming and affecting me. Yet my senses are very 
keen, but my soul is to my body a hostile sister, and the hap- 
less couple, like every possible couple, lawful or unlawful, live 
in a state of perpetual war. A woman's arms, the closest bonds 
on earth, so people say, are very feeble ties, so far as I am 
concerned, and I have never been further removed from my 
mistress than when she was pressing me to her heart. I was 
stifled, that was all. 

" How many times have I been angered with myself! How 
many efforts have I made not to be as I am ! How have I 
exhorted myself to be tender, amorous, impassioned ! How 
often have I taken my soul by the hair, and dragged her to my 
lips in the midst of a beautiful kiss ! Whatever I did she 
always retreated as soon as I released her. What torture for 
this poor soul to be exposed to these mad caprices of mine, and 
to sit everlastingly at banquets where she has nothing to eat ! 

" It was with Rosette that I resolved, once for all, to try 
whether I was not decidedly unsociable, and whether I could 
take sufficient interest in the existence of another to believe 
in it. I pushed my experiments to the point of exhaustion, 
and I did not become much clearer amid my doubts. With 
her, pleasure is so keen that often enough the soul is, if not 
moved, at least diverted, and this somewhat prejudices the 
exactness of my observations. But after all I came to see 
that it did not pass beyond the skin, and that I had only an 
epidermic enjoyment in which the soul took no part save from 
curiosity. I have pleasure, because I am young and ardent ; 
but this pleasure comes to me from myself and not from 
another. The cause of it is in myself rather than in Rosette. 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 99 

| 

" My efforts are in vain, I cannot come out of myself. I am 

still what I was, something, that is to say, very wearied and 
very wearisome, and this displeases rne greatly. I have not 
succeeded in getting into my brain the idea of another, into my 
soul the feeling of another, into my body the pain or joy of 
another. I am a prisoner within myself, and all invasion is 
impossible. The prisoner wishes to escape, the walls would 
most gladly fall in, and the gates open up to let him through, 
but some fatality or other invincibly keeps each stone in its 
place, and each bolt in its socket It is as impossible for 
me to admit any one to see me as it is for me to go to see 
others, I can neither pay visits nor receive them, and I 
live in the most mournful isolation in the midst of the 
crowd. My bed perhaps is not widowed, but my heart is so 
always. 

" Ah ! to be unable to increase one's self by a single particle, 
a single atom ; to be unable to make the blood of others flow 
in one's veins ; to see ever with one's own eyes, and not more 
clearly, nor further, nor differently ; to hear sounds with the 
same ears and the same emotion; to touch with the same 
fingers; to perceive things that are varied with an organ 
that is invariable ; to be condemned to the same quality of 
voice, to the return of the same tones, the same phrases, and 
the same words, and to be unable to go away, to avoid one's self, 
to take refuge in some corner where there is no self-pursuit ; 
to be obliged to keep one's self always, to dine with it, and go 
to bed with it ; to be the same man for twenty new women ; 
to drag into the midst of the strangest situations in the drama 
of our life a reluctant character whose rble you know by heart ; 
to think the same things, and to have the same dreams : what 
torment, what weariness ! 

" I have longed for the horn of the brothers Tangut, the cap 
of Fortunatus, the staff of Abaris, the ring of Gyges ; I would 
have sold my soul to snatch the magic wand from the hand of 
a fairy ; but I have never wished so much for anything as, like 
Tiresias the soothsayer, to meet on the mountain the serpents 
which cause a chancre of sex : and what I envy most in the 



ioo MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

monstrous and whimsical gods of India are theit perpetual 
avatars and their countless transformations. 

" I began by desiring to be another man ; then, on reflect- 
ing that I might by analogy nearly foresee what I should feel, 
and thus not experience the surprise and the change that I had 
looked for, I would have preferred to be a woman. This idea 
has always come to me when I had a mistress who was not 
ugly for to me an ugly woman is simply a man and at 
particular moments I would willingly have changed my part, 
for it is very provoking to be unaware of the effect that one 
produces, and to judge of the enjoyment of others only by 
one's own. These thoughts, and many others, have often 
given me, at times when it was most out of place, a meditative 
and dreamy air, which has led to my being accused, really 
most undeservedly, of coldness and infidelity. 

" Rosette, who very happily does not know all this, believes 
me the most amorous man on earth ; she takes this impotent 
transport for a transport of passion ; and to the best of her 
ability she lends herself to all the experimental caprices that 
enter my head. 

" I have done all that I could to convince myself that I 
possess her. I have tried to descend into her heart, but I 
have always stopped at the first step of the staircase, at her 
skin or on her mouth. In spite of the particular intimacy of 
our relations, I am very sensible that there is nothing in 
common between us. Never has an idea similar to mine 
spread its wings in that young and smiling head ; never has 
that heart, full of life and fire, that heaves with its throbbing 
so firm and pure a breast, beaten in unison with my heart. 
My soul has never united with that soul. Cupid, the god with 
hawk's wings, has not kissed Psyche on her beautiful ivory 
brow. No ! this woman does not belong to me. 

" If you knew all that I have done to compel my soul to 
share in the love of my body, the frenzy with which I have 
plunged my mouth into hers, and steeped my arms in her hair, 
and how closely I have strained her round and supple form \ 
Like the ancient Salmacis enamoured of the young Her- 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAD PIN. 101 

maphrodite, I strove to blend her frame with mine ; I drank 
her breath and the tepid tears caused by voluptuousness to 
overflow from the brimming chalice of her eyes. The more 
she drew me towards her, and the closer our embraces, the 
less I loved her. My soul, seated mournfully, gazed with an 
air of pity on this lamentable marriage to which she was not 
invited, or veiling her face in disgust, wept silently beneath 
the skirt of her cloak. All this comes perhaps from the fact 
that in reality I do not love Rosette, worthy as she is of being 
loved, and wishful as I am to love her. 

" To get rid of the idea that I was myself, I devised very 
strange surroundings, in which it was altogether improbable 
that I would encounter myself, and not being able to cast 
my individuality to the dogs, I endeavoured to place it in 
such a different element that it would recognise itself no 
longer. I had but indifferent success, and this devil of a self 
pursues me obstinately ; there are no means of getting rid of 
it. I cannot resort to telling it like other intruders that I am 
out, or that I have gone to the country. 

" When my mistress has been in her bath, I have tried to play 
the Triton. The sea was a very large tub of marble. As to the 
Nereid, what was seen of her accused the water, all transparent 
as it was, of not being sufficiently so for the exquisite beauty of 
what it concealed. I have been with her, too, at night by the 
light of the moon in a gondola accompanied by music. 

" This would be common enough at Venice, but it is not at 
all so here. In her carriage, flying along at full gallop, amid 
the noise of the wheels, with leaps and joltings, now lit up by 
the lamps, and now plunged into the most profound darkness, I 
have loaded her with caresses and found a pleasure therein 
which I advise you taste. But I was forgetting that you are 
a venerable patriarch, and that you do not go in for such 
refinements. I have come into her house through the window 
with the key of the door in my pocket. I have made her 
come to me at noon-day ; and, in short, I have compromised 
her in such a fashion that nobody now (myself, of course, 
excepted) has any doubt that she is my mistress. 



102 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

" By reason of all these devices, which, if I were not so 
young, would look like the expedients of a worn-out libertine, 
Rosette worships me chiefly and above all others. She sees 
in them the eagerness of a petulant love which nothing can 
restrain, and which is the same notwithstanding the diversity 
of times and places. She sees in them the constantly reviving 
effect of her charms, and the triumph of her beauty ; truly, I 
wish that she were right, and to be just, it is neither my fault 
nor hers that she is not 

" The only respect in which I wrong her is that I am my- 
self. If I were to tell her this, the child would very quickly 
reply that it is just my greatest merit in her eyes ; which would 
be more kind than sensible. 

" Once it was at the beginning of our union I believed 
that I had attained my end, for one minute I believed that 
I had loved I did love. Oh ! my friend, I have never lived 
save during that minute, and had that minute been an hour 
I should have become a god. We had both gone out on 
horseback, I on my dear Ferragus, she on a mare as white as 
snow, and with the look of a unicorn, so slim were its legs 
and so slender its neck. We were following a large avenue 
of elms of prodigious height; the sun was descending upon 
us lukewarm and golden, sifted through the slashings in the 
foliage ; lozenges of ultramarine sparkled here and there 
through the dappled clouds, great lines of pale blue strewed 
the edge of the horizon, changing into an apple-green of 
exquisite tenderness when they met with the orange-coloured 
tints of the west. The aspect of the heavens was charming 
and strange ; the breeze brought to us an odour of wild 
flowers that was ravishing in the extreme. From time to- 
time a bird rose before us, and crossed the avenue singing. 

" The bell of a village that was not visible was gently ringing 
the Angelus, and the silver sounds, which reached us weakened 
by the distance, were infinitely sweet. Our animals were at a 
walk, and were going so equally side by side, that one was not 
in advance of the other. My heart expanded, and my soul 
overflowed my body. I had never been so happy. I said 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 103 

nothing, nor did Rosette, and yet we had never understood 
each other so well. We were so close together that my leg 
was touching the body of Rosette's horse. I leaned over to her, 
and passed my arm about her waist ; she made the same move- 
ment on her side, and laid back her head upon my shoulder. 
Our lips clung together ; oh ! what a chaste and delicious 
kiss ! Our horses were still walking with their bridles floating 
sn their necks. I felt Rosette's arm relax, and her loins yield 
more and more. For myself I was growing weak, and was 
ready to swoon. Ah ! I can assure you that at that moment 
I thought little of whether I was myself or another. We 
went thus as far as the end of the avenue, when the noise of 
feet made us abruptly resume our positions ; it was some people 
of our acquaintance, also on horseback, who came up and spoke 
to us. If I had had pistols, I believe that I should have fired 
upon them. 

" I looked at them with a gloomy and furious air, which 
must have appeared very singular to them. After all, I was 
wrong to become so angry with them, for they had, without 
intending it, done me the service of interrupting my pleasure 
at the very moment when, by reason of its own intensity, it 
was on the point of becoming a pain, or of sinking beneath 
its own violence. The science of stopping in time is not 
regarded with all the respect which is its due. Sometimes 
when toying with a woman you pass your arm around her 
waist ; it is at first most voluptuous to feel the gentle warmth of 
her frame, to come almost in contact with her soft and velvety 
flesh, the polished ivory of her skin, and to watch the heaving 
of her swelling and quivering breast. The fair one falls asleep 
in this amorous and charming position ; the curve of her body 
becomes less pronounced, her breast becomes calm ; her 
sides heave with the larger and more regular respiration of 
sleep ; her muscles relax, her head rolls over in her hair. 

" Your arm, however, is pressed more than before, and you 
begin to perceive that it is a woman and not a sylphid ; yet 
you would not take away your arm for anything in the world, 
and for this there are many reasons. First, it is rather 



io 4 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

dangerous to awake a woman who has fallen asleep beside 
you; you must be prepared to substitute for the delicious 
dream that she has been having a reality more delicious 
still Secondly, by asking her to raise herself that you may 
withdraw your arm, you tell her indirectly that she is heavy 
and in your way, which is not polite, or perhaps you give her 
to understand that you are weak or fatigued a most humiliat- 
ing thing for you, and one which will prejudice you infinitely 
in her mind. Thirdly, you believe that as you have experienced 
pleasure in this position, you may do so again by maintaining 
it, and in this you are mistaken. The poor arm finds itself 
caught beneath the mass that oppresses it, the blood stops, the 
nerves twitch, and the numbness pricks you with its millions 
of needles. You are a sort of little Milo of Crotona, and the 
surface of your couch and the back of your divinity represent 
with sufficient exactness the two parts of the tree which are 
joined together again. Day comes at last to release you from 
this martyrdom, and you leap down from this rack with more 
eagerness than any husband displays in descending from the 
nuptial stage. 

" Such is the history of many passions. 
" It is that of all pleasures. 

" Be that as it may, in spite of the interruption, or by reason 
of it, never did such voluptuousness pass over my head ; I 
really felt myself to be another. The soul of Rosette had 
entered in its integrity into my body. My soul had left me, 
and filled her heart as her own soul filled mine. No doubt 
they had met on the way in that long equestrian kiss, as Rosette 
afterwards called it (which by the way annoyed me), and had 
crossed each other, and mingled together as intimately as is 
possible for the souls of two mortal creatures on a grain of 
perishable mud. 

" The angels must surely embrace one another thus, and the 
true paradise is not in the sky, but on the lips of one we love. 

" I have waited in vain for a similar moment, and I have tried, 
but without success, to provoke its return. We have very often 
gone to ride in the avenue of the wood during beautiful sun- 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 105 

sets ; the trees had the same verdure, the birds were singing 
the same song, but the sun looked dull to us, and the foliage 
yellowed ; the singing of the birds seemed harsh and discord- 
ant, for there was no longer harmony within ourselves. We 
have brought our horses to a walk, and we have tried the same 
kiss. Alas ! our lips only were united, and it was but the 
spectre of the old kiss. The beautiful, the sublime, the divine, 
the only true kiss that I have ever given and received in my 
life had disappeared for ever. Since that day I have always 
returned from the wood with a depth of inexpressible sadness. 
Rosette, gay and playful as she usually is, cannot escape 
from the impression of this, and her reverie is betrayed by a 
little, delicately wrinkled pout, which at the least is worth her 
smile. 

" There is scarcely anything but the fumes of wine, and the 
brilliancy of wax-candles that can recall me from these 
melancholy thoughts. We both drink like persons condemned 
to death, silently and continually, until we have reached the 
necessary dose ; then we begin to laugh and to make fun most 
heartily of what we call our sentimentality. 

" We laugh because we cannot weep. Ah ! who will cause 
a tear to spring in the depths of my exhausted eye ? 

" Why had I so much pleasure that evening ? It would be 
very difficult to say. Nevertheless I was the same man and 
Rosette the same woman. It was not the first time that either 
of us was out riding. We had seen the sun set before, and 
the spectacle had only affected us like the sight of a picture 
which is admired according as its colours are more or less 
brilliant. There are more avenues of elms and chestnut trees 
than one in the world, and it was not the first that we were 
passing through. Who, then, caused us to find in it so 
sovereign a charm, who metamorphosed the dead leaves into 
topazes, and the green leaves into emeralds, who had gilded 
all those fluttering atoms, and changed into pearls all those 
drops of water scattered on the sward, who gave so sweet a 
harmony to the sounds of a usually discordant bell, and to 
the carolling of sundry little birds ? There must have been 



10 6 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

some very searching poetry in the air, since even our horses 
appeared to be sensible of it. 

"Yet nothing in the world could have been more pastoral 
and more simple. Some trees, some clouds, five or six blades 
of wild thyme, a woman, and a ray of the sun falling across it 
all like a golden chevron on a coat of arms. I had, further, 
no sensation of surprise or astonishment ! I knew where I was 
very well I had never come to the place before, but I recol- 
lected perfectly both the shape of the leaves and the position 
of the clouds ; the white dove which was crossing the sky was 
flying away in the same direction the little silvery bell which 
I heard for the first time had very often tinkled in my ear, and 
its voice seemed to me like the voice of a friend ; without 
having ever been there I had many times passed through the 
avenue with princesses mounted on unicorns ; my most volup- 
tuous dreams used to resort thither every evening, and my 
desires had given kisses there precisely similar to that exchanged 
by Rosette and myself. 

" The kiss had no novelty to me, but it was such a one as I 
had thought that it would be. It was perhaps the only time in 
my life that I was not disappointed, and that the reality 
appeared to me as beautiful as the ideal. If I could find a 
woman, a landscape, a piece of architecture, anything answering 
to my intimate desire as perfectly as that minute answered to 
the minute of my dreams, I should have no reason to envy the 
gods, and I would very willingly resign my stall in paradise. 
But in truth, I do not believe that a man of flesh could with- 
stand such penetrating voluptuousness for an hour two kisses 
such as that one would pump out an entire existence, and 
would make a complete void in soul and body. This is not a 
consideration that would stop me, for, not being able to prolong 
my life indefinitely, I am indifferent to death, and I would 
rather die of pleasure than of old age or weariness. 

" But this woman does not exist. Yes, she does exist. It 
may be that I am separated from her merely by a partition. 
It may be that I have jostled her yesterday or to-day. 

" What is lacking in Rosette that she is not that woman ? 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 107 

She lacks my belief in her. What fatality is it that causes me 
ever to have for my mistress a woman whom I do not love. 
Her neck is smooth enough to hang on it necklaces of the 
finest workmanship ; her fingers are tapering enough to do 
honour to the finest and richest rings ; rubies would blush 
with pleasure to sparkle at the rosy extremity of her delicate 
ear ; her waist might gird on the cestus of Venus ; but it is 
love alone who can knot his mother's scarf. 

" All the merit that Rosette possesses is in herself, I have 
lent her nothing. I have not cast over her beauty that veil of 
perfection with which love envelops the loved one ; the veil of 
Isis is transparent beside such a one as that. Nothing but 
satiety can raise a corner of it. 

" I do not love Rosette ; at least the love, if any, which I 
have for her has no resemblance to the idea that I have formed 
of love. Still my idea is perhaps not correct. I do not venture 
to give any decision. However, she renders me quite in- 
sensible to the merit of other women, and I have never wished 
for anybody with any consistency since possessing her. If she 
has cause to be jealous of any, it is only of phantoms, and 
they do not disquiet her much. Yet my imagination is her 
most formidable rival ; it is a thing which, with all her acute- 
ness, she will probably never find out. 

" If women knew this ! Of what infidelities is not the least 
volatile lover guilty towards his most worshipped mistress ! 
It is to be presumed that the women pay us back with inte- 
rest ; but they do as we do, and say nothing about it. A 
mistress is an obligato, which usually disappears beneath its 
graces and flourishes. Very often the kisses she receives 
are not for her ; it is the idea of another woman that is em- 
braced in her person, and she often profits (if such can be 
called a profit) by the desires which are inspired by another. 
Ah ! how many times, poor Rosette, have you served to em- 
body my dreams, and given a reality to your rivals ! How 
many the infidelities in which you have been the involuntary 
accomplice ! If you could have thought at those momenta 
when my arms clasped you with so much intensity, when my 



io8 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

lips were united most closely to yours, that your beauty and 
your love counted for nothing, and that the thought of you Tas 
a thousand leagues away from me ! If you had been told that 
those eyes, veiled with amorous languor, were cast down only 
that they might not see you and so dissipate the illusion that 
you merely served to complete, and that instead of being a 
mistress you were but an instrument of voluptuousness, a 
means of deceiving, a desire impossible of realisation ! 

" O celestial creatures, beautiful virgins, frail and dia- 
phanous, who bend your pervinca eyes and clasp your lily 
hands on the golden background of the pictures of the old 
German masters, window saints, missal-martyrs who smile so 
sweetly amid the scrolls of arabesques, and emerge so fair 
and fresh from the bells of flowers ! O beautiful courte- 
sans lying veiled by your hair only, on beds strewn with roses, 
beneath broad purple curtains with your bracelets and neck- 
laces of huge pearls, your fan and your mirrors where the west 
hangs in the shadow a flaming spangle ! brown daughters ot 
Titian, who display so voluptuously to us your undulating 
hips, your firm and compact limbs, your smooth bodies, and 
your supple and muscular frames ! ancient goddesses, who 
rear your white phantom in the shadows of the garden ! you 
form a part of my seraglio ; I have possessed you all in turn. 
Saint Ursula, on Rosette's beautiful hands I have kissed thine ; 
I have played with the black hair of the Muranese, and 
never had Rosette more trouble in dressing her hair again ; 
maidenly Diana, I have been with thee more than Actseon, and 
I have not been changed into a stag : I have replaced thy 
beautiful Endymion ! How many rivals who are unsuspected, 
and on whom no vengeance can be taken ! Yet they are not 
always painted or sculptured ! 

" Women, when you see your lover become more tender 
than is his wont, and strain you in his arms with extraordin- 
ary emotion; when he sinks his head into your lap, and 
raises it again with humid and wandering eyes ; when enjoy- 
ment only augments his desire, and he stifles your voice with 
kisses, as though he feared to hear it, be certain that he does 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 109 

not know even whether you are there; that he is keeping 
tryst at this moment with a chimera which you render palp- 
able, and whose part you play. Many chamber-maids have 
profited by the love inspired by queens. Many women have 
profited by the love inspired by goddesses, and a vulgar 
enough reality has often served as a socle for an ideal idol. 
That is the reason why poets usually take trollops for their 
mistresses. A man might live ten years with a woman with- 
out having ever seen her ; such is the history of many great 
geniuses whose ignoble or obscene connexions have astonished 
the world. 

" I have been guilty only of infidelities of this description 
towards Rosette. I have betrayed her only for pictures and 
statues, and she has shared equally in the betrayal. I have 
not the smallest material trespass on my conscience to re- 
proach myself with. I am in this respect as white as the snow 
on the Jungfrau, and yet, without being in love with any one, 
I would wish to be so with some one. I do not seek an 
opportunity, and I should not be sorry were it to come ; if it 
came I should perhaps not avail myself of it, for I have an 
intimate conviction that it would be the same with another, 
and I had rather it were thus with Rosette than with any 
other ; for, putting the woman on one side, there remains to 
me at least a pretty companion, full of wit, and very agreeably 
demoralised ; and this consideration is not one of the least 
that restrain me, for, in losing the mistress, I should be gTieved 
to lose the friend '" 





IV 




O you know that for nearly five months yes, for 
quite five months for five eternities, I have 
been Madame Rosette's established Celadon ? 
It is perfectly splendid. I should never have 
believed that I was so constant, nor, I will wager, would she 
have believed it either. We are, in truth, a couple of plucked 
pigeons, for only turtle doves could display such tenderness. 
What billing ! What cooing ! What ivy-like entwinings. 
What a twofold existence ! Nothing in the world could have 
been more touching, and our two poor little hearts might have 
been put on one cartel, pierced by the same spit, with a gusty 
flame. 

" Five months tete-a-tete, so to speak, for we have been seeing 
each other every day and nearly every night the door always 
closed to everybody ; is it not enough to make one shudder to 
think of it ! Well, to the glory of the peerless Rosette, it must 
be said that I have not been over-much wearied, and that this 
period will no doubt prove to have been the most agreeable in 
my life. I do not believe that it would be possible to occupy 
a man devoid of passion in a more sustained and amusing 
manner, and God knows what a terrible idleness is that which 
proceeds from an empty heart ! It would be impossible to 
form any idea of this woman's resources. She commenced by 
drawing them from her intellect, and then from her heart, for 
she loves me to adoration. With what art does she profit by 
the smallest spark, and how well she knows how to convert 
it into a conflagration ! how skilfully she directs the faintest 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. Ill 

movements of the soul ! how well can she turn languor into 
tender dreaming ! and by how many indirect paths can she 
guide the mind that is wandering from her back to herself 
again ! It is wonderful ! And I admire her as one of the 
loftiest geniuses that can exist. 

" I came to see her very cross, in a very bad temper, and 
seeking a quarrel. I know not how the sorceress managed it, 
but at the end of a few minutes she had obliged me to pay 
her compliments, although I had not the least wish to do so, 
and to kiss her hands and laugh with all my heart, although 
I was terribly angry. Is such tyranny conceivable ? Never- 
theless, skilful as she is, the tete-a-tete cannot last much longer ; 
and, during the past fortnight, I pretty often chanced to do 
what I had never done before, to open the books that are on 
the table, and read a few lines in the intervals of conversa- 
tion. Rosette noticed it, and was struck with dismay, which 
she was scarcely able to conceal, and she sent away all the 
books out of the room. I confess that I regret them, although 
I cannot ask for them again. 

" The other day frightful symptom ! some one called 
while we were together, and instead of being furious, as I used 
to be at the beginning, I experienced a kind of joy. I was 
almost amiable ; I kept up the conversation which Rosette 
was trying to let drop so that the gentleman might take his 
leave, and, when he was gone, I volunteered the remark that 
he was not without wit, and that his society was agreeable. 
Rosette reminded me that two months before I had thought 
him stupid, and the silliest nuisance on earth, to which I had 
nothing to reply, for I had indeed said so. I was neverthe- 
less right, in spite of my recent contradiction : for the first 
time he disturbed a charming tcte-a-tete, and the second time 
he came to the assistance of a conversation that was exhausted 
and languishing (on one side at least), and for that day spared 
me a scene of tenderness somewhat fatiguing to go through. 

" Such is our position. It is a grave one especially when 
one of the two is still enamoured, and clings desperately to 
what remains of the other's love. I am in great perplexity. 



112 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

Although I am not in love with Rosette, I have a very great 
affection for her, -and I should not like to do anything that 
would cause her pain. I wish to believe, as long as possible, 
that I love her. 

" In gratitude for all those hours to which she has given 
wings, in gratitude for the love which, for my pleasure, she 
has bestowed on me, I wish it I shall deceive her, but is not 
an agreeable deception better than a distressing truth ? for I 
shall never have the heart to tell her that I do not love her. 
The vain shadow of love on which she feasts appears so 
adorable to her, she embraces the pale spectre with such in- 
toxication and effusion that I dare not cause it to vanish; 
yet I am afraid that in the end she will perceive that, after all, 
it is but a phantom. This morning we had a conversation, 
which I am going to relate in dramatic form for the sake of 
greater fidelity, and which makes me fear that we cannot pro- 
long our union very long. 

" The scene represents Rosette's room. A ray of sun is 
shining through the curtains ; it is ten o'clock. Rosette has 
one arm beneath my neck, and does not move for fear of 
waking me. From time to time she raises herself a little on 
her elbow, and, holding her breath, bends her face over mine. 
I see all this through the grating of my eyelashes, for I have 
been awake for an hour past. Rosette's chemise has a neck- 
trimming of Mechlin lace which is all torn, and her hair is 
escaping in confusion from her little cap. She is as pretty as 
a woman can be when you do not love her, although she is 
by your side. 

" ROSETTE (seeing that I am no longer asleep) 'O the 
nasty sleeper ! ' 

" MYSELF (yawning) ' A a ah ! ' 

" ROSETTE ' Do not yawn like that, or I will not kiss you 
for a week.' 

" MYSELF' Oh ! ' 

" ROSETTE ' It seems, sir, that you do not think it very im- 
portant that I should kiss you ? ' 

" MYSELF' Yes, I do.' 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 113 

" ROSETTE ' How carelessly you say that ! Very well ; you 
may expect that for the next week I shall not touch you with 
the tip of my lips. To-day is Tuesday so till next Tuesday.' 

" MYSELF ' Pshaw ! ' 

" ROSETTE ' How, pshaw ! ' 

" MYSELF ' Yes, pshaw ! You will kiss me before this 
evening, or I die." 

" ROSETTE ' You will die ! What a coxcomb ! I have 
spoiled you, sir.' 

"MYSELF 'I will live. I am not a coxcomb, and you 
have not spoiled me quite the contrary. First of all, I re- 
quest the suppression of the Sir; you are well enough 
acquainted with rne to call me by my name, and to say thou 
to me.' 

" ROSETTE ' I have spoiled thee, D' Albert.' 

" MYSELF ' Good. Now bring your lips near.' 

" ROSETTE ' No, next Tuesday.' 

" MYSELF ' Nonsense. Are we not to pet each other for 
the future except with a calendar in our hands? We are both 
a little too young for that. Now, your lips, my infanta, or I 
shall get a crick in my neck.' 

" ROSETTE ' No.' 

" MYSELF ' Ah ! you wish to be ravished, my pet ; by 
heavens ! you shall be. The thing is feasible, though per- 
haps it has not been done yet.' 

" ROSETTE ' Impertinent man !' 

" MYSELF ' Observe, most fair one, that I have paid you 
the compliment of a perhaps ; it is very polite on my part 
But we are wandering from the subject. Bend your head. 
Come : what is this, my favourite sultana ? and what a cross 
face. We wish to kiss a smile and not a pout.' 

" ROSETTE (stooping down to kiss me) ' How would you 
have me laugh ? You say such harsh things to me ! ' 

" MYSELF " My intention is to say very tender ones. 
Why do you think that I say harsh things to you ? ' 

" ROSETTE ' I don't know but you do.' 

" MYSELF ' You take jokes of no consequence for harshness.' 



n 4 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

" ROSETTE ' Of no consequence ! You call that of no 
consequence ? Everything is of consequence in love. Listen, 
I would rather have you beat me than laugh as you are doing.' 

" MYSELF ' You would like to see me weep, then ? ' 

" ROSETTE ' You always go from one extreme to the other. 
You are not asked to weep, but to speak reasonably, and to 
give up this quizzing manner, which suits you very badly.' 

" MYSELF ' It is impossible for me to speak reasonably and 
not to quiz ; so I am going to beat you, since it is to your liking. 1 

" ROSETTE ' Do.' 

" MYSELF (giving her a few little slaps on her shoulders) ' I 
would rather cut off my own head than spoil your adorable 
little body, and marble the whiteness of this charming back 
with blue. My goddess, whatever pleasure a woman may have 
in being beaten, you shall certainly not have it.' 

" ROSETTE ' You love me no longer." 

" MYSELF ' That does not follow very directly from what 
precedes ; it is about as logical as to say : It is raining, so do 
not give me my umbrella ; or : It is cold, open the window.' 

" ROSETTE ' You do not love me, you have never loved me.' 

" MYSELF ' Ah ! the matter is becoming complicated : you 
love me no longer, and you have never loved me. This is 
tolerably contradictory : how can I leave off doing a thing 
which I have never begun ? You see, little queen, that you do 
not know what you are saying, and that you are perfectly absurd.' 

" ROSETTE ' I wished so much to be loved by you that I 
assisted in deluding myself. People easily believe what they 
desire ; but now I can quite see that I am deceived. You were 
deceived yourself ; you took a liking for love, and desire for 
passion. The thing happens every day. I bear you no ill-will 
for it : it did not depend upon yourself to be in love ; I must 
lay the blame on my own lack of charms. I should have been 
more beautiful, more playful, more coquettish ; I should have 
tried to mount up to you, O my poet ! instead of wishing you 
to come down to me : I was afraid of losing you in the 
clouds, and I dreaded lest your head should steal away your 
heart from me. I imprisoned you in my love, and I believed 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPI.N ut 

when giving up myself wholly to you that you would keep 
something ' 

" MYSELF ' Rosette, move back a little ; you are like a hot 
coal.' 

" ROSETTE ' If I am in your way, I will get up. Ah ! heart 
of rock, drops of water pierce the stone, and my tears cannot 
penetrate you.' (She weeps.) 

" MYSELF ' If you weep like that, you will certainly turn 
our bed into a bath. A bath ? I should say into an ocean. 
Can you swim, Rosette ? ' 

" ROSETTE' Villain ! ' 

" MYSELF ' Well ! all at once I am a villain ! You flatter 
me, Rosette, I have not the honour : I am a gentle citizen, 
alas ! and have never committed the smallest crime ; I have 
done a foolish thing, perhaps, which was to love you to dis- 
traction : that is all. Would you absolutely make me repent 
of it ? I have loved you, and I love you as much as I can. 
Since I have been your lover, I have always walked in your 
shadow : I have given up all my time to you, my days and 
my nights. I have not used lofty phrases with you, because I 
do not like them except in writing ; but I have given you a 
thousand proofs of my fondness. I will say nothing to you 
of the most scrupulous fidelity, for that is of course ; I have 
become seven quarters of a pound thinner since you have been 
my adoration. What more would you have ? Here I am by 
your side; 

Do people behave in this way with those whom they do not 
love ? I do everything that you wish. You say " Go," and I 
go; "Stay," and I stay. I am the most admirable lover in the 
world, it seems to me.' 

" ROSETTE ' That is just what I complain about the most 
perfect lover in the world, in fact.' 

" MYSELF ' What have you to reproach me with ? ' 

" ROSEITE ' Nothing, and I would rather have some 
of complaint against you.' 
'' MYSELF ' This is a strange quarrel." 



n6 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

" ROSETTE ' It is much worse. You do not love me. I 
cannot help it nor can you. What would you have done in 
such a case? Unquestionably I should prefer to have some 
fault to pardon in you. I would scold you ; you would excuse 
yourself well or ill, and we should make it up.' 

"MYSELF 'It would be all to your advantage. The 
greater the crime the more splendid would the reparation 
be.' 

" ROSETTE ' You are quite aware, sir, that I am not yet 
reduced to employ that expedient, and that if I pleased pre- 
sently, although you do not love me, andwe are quarrel ling ' 

" MYSELF ' Yes, I acknowledge it as purely an effect of 
your clemency. Do please a little ; it would be better than 
syllogising at random as we are doing.' 

" ROSETTE ' You wish to cut short a conversation which is 
inconvenient to you ; but, if you please, my fine friend, we shall 
content ourselves with speaking ! ' 

" MYSELF It is an entertainment that does not cost much. 
I assure you that you are wrong ; for you are wonderfully 
pretty, and I feel towards you ' 

" ROSETTE ' What you will express to me another time.' 

"MYSELF 'Oh come, adorable one, are you a little 
Hyrcanian tigress ? You are incomparably cruel to-day ! Are 
you eager to become a vestal ? It would be an original caprice.' 

' ' ROSETTE ' Why not ? There have been stranger ones than 
that ; but I shall certainly be a vestal for you. Learn, sir, 
that I am partial only to people who love me, or by whom I 
believe myself loved. You do not come under either of these 
two denominations. Allow me to rise ! ' 

" MYSELF ' If you get up, I shall get up as well. You will 
have the trouble of getting into bed again : that is all.' 

" ROSETTE ' Let me alone ! ' 

*' MYSELF ' By heavens, no ! .' 

' ROSETTE (struggling) ' Oh ! you will let me go ! ' 

" MYSELF * I venture, madame, to assure you of the con- 
trary.' 

" ROSETTE (seeing that she is not the stronger) ' Well 1 t 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 117 

will stay ; you are squeezing my arm with such force ! What 
do want with me ? ' 

" MYSELF ' To remain where you are. I think you might 
have divined this much without asking any such superfluous 
question. 

" ROSETTE (already finding it impossible to defend herself) 
'On condition that you will love me a great deal I surrender.' 

" MYSELF ' It is rather late to capitulate when the enemy 
is already in the fortress.' 

" ROSETTE (throwing her arms round my neck) ' Then I 
surrender unconditionally I trust to your generosity.' 

'MYSELF ' You do well.' 

" Here, my dear friend, I think it would not be amiss to put 
a line of asterisks, for the rest of the dialogue could scarcely 
be translated except by onomatopoeia. 

* # # * 

" The ray of sunshine has had time to make the circuit of 
the room since the beginning of this scene. An odour of 
lime-trees comes in from the garden, sweet and penetrating. 
The weather is the finest that could be seen ; the sky is as 
blue as an Englishwoman's eye. We get up, and after break- 
fasting with great appetite, go for a long rural walk. The 
transparency of the air, the splendour of the country, and the 
joyous aspect of nature inspired my soul with enough senti- 
mentality and tenderness to make Rosette acknowledge that 
after all I had a sort of heart like other people. 

" Have you never remarked how the shade of woods, the 
murmuring of fountains, the singing of birds, smiling prospects, 
fragrance of foliage and flowers, all the baggage of eclogue 
and description which we have agreed to laugh at, none the 
less preserves over us, however depraved we may be, an occult 
power which it is impossible to resist ? I will confide to you, 
under the seal of the greatest secret, that quite recently I 
surprised myself in a state of most countrified emotion towards 
a nightingale that was singing. 

" It was in 's garden ; although it was night, the sky had 

a clearness nearly equal to that of the finest day; it was so 



u g MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

deep and so transparent that the gaze easily penetrated to God. 
It seemed to me that I could see the last folds of angels' robes 
floating over the pale windings of the Milky Way. The moon 
had risen, but a large tree hid her completely ; she riddled its 
dark foliage with a million little luminous holes, and hung 
more spangles upon it than had ever the fan of a marchioness. 
Silence, filled with sounds and stifled sighs, was heard through- 
out the garden (this perhaps resembles pathos, but it is not my 
fault) ; although I saw nothing but the blue glimmering of the 
moon I seemed to be surrounded by a population of unknown 
and worshipped phantoms, and I did not feel alone, although 
there was only myself on the terrace. 

"I was not thinking, I was not dreaming, I was blended 
with the nature that surrounded me ; I felt myself quiver 
with the foliage, glisten with the water, shine with the ray, ex- 
pand with the flower ; I was not myself more than the trees, 
the water, and the great night-shade. I was all of these, and 
I do not believe that it would be possible to be more absent 
from one's self than I was at that moment. All at once, as 
though something extraordinary were going to happen, the 
leaf was stilled at the end of the branch, the water-drop in the 
fountain remained suspended in air, and did not complete its 
fall ; the silver thread which had set out from the edge of 
the moon stopped on its way only my heart beat so 
sonorously that it seemed to fill all that great space with 
sound. It ceased to beat, and there fell such a silence that 
you might have heard the grass grow, and a word whispered 
at a distance of two hundred leagues. Then from the little 
throat of the nightingale, which probably was only waiting for 
this moment to begin its song, there burst a note so shrill and 
piercing that I heard it with my heart as much as with my 
ears. The sound spread suddenly through the crystalline sky, 
which was void of noise, and formed a harmonious atmosphere, 
wherein, beating their wings, hovered the other notes which 
followed. 

" I understood perfectly what it said, as though I had had 
the secret of the language of the birds. It was the history of 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUP1N. 119 

the loves which had not been mine that this nightingale sang. 
Never was a history more accurate and true. It did not omit 
the smallest detail or the most imperceptible tint. It told me 
what I had been unable to tell myself, and explained to me 
what I had been unable to understand ; it gave a voice to my 
dreaming, and caused the phantom, mute until then, to reply. 
I knew that I was loved, and the most languishing trilling 
taught me that I should be happy soon. I thought that 
through the quivering song, and beneath the rain of notes, I 
could see the white arms of my beloved stretched out towards 
me in a ray from the moon. She came up slowly with the 
perfume from the heart of a large hundred-leaved rose. 

" I shall not try to describe her beauty. It was one of 
those things to which words are denied. How speak the un- 
speakable ? how paint that which has neither form nor colour ? 
how mark a voice which is without tone and speech ? Never 
had I had so much love in my heart ; I would have pressed 
nature to my bosom. I clasped the void in my arms as 
though I had closed them on a maiden's form ; I gave kisses 
to the air that passed across my lips ; I swam in effluence 
from my own radiant body. Ah ! if Rosette had been there ! 
What adorable nonsense would I have uttered to her ! But 
women never know when to arrive opportunely. The nightin- 
gale ceased to sing ; the moon, worn out with sleep, drew her 
cloud-cap over her eyes ; and I I left the garden, for the 
coldness of the night began to overtake me. 

" As I was cold, I very naturally thought I should be 
warmer in Rosette's bed than in my own, and I went to share 
her couch. I entered with my pass-key, for every one in the 
house was slumbering. Rosette herself had fallen asleep, and 
I had the satisfaction of seeing that it was over an uncut 
volume of my latest poems. She had both her arms above 
her head, her mouth smiling and partly open, one leg stretched 
out and the other slightly bent in a posture of grace and ease ; 
she looked so well that I felt mortal regret at not being more 
in love with her. 

"While gazing upon her, I bethought me that I was as 



120 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

stupid as an ostrich. I had what I had desired so long, a 
mistress of my own like my horse and my sword, young, 
pretty, amorous, and intellectual with no high-principled 
mother, decorous father, intractable aunt, or righting brother ; 
with the unspeakable charm of a husband duly sealed and 
nailed in a fine oak coffin lined with lead, and the whole 
covered over with a big block of freestone a circumstance 
not to be despised, for it is, after all, but slight entertainment 
to be caught in the midst of amorous enjoyment, and to go 
and complete the sensation on the pavement, after describing 
an arc of from 40 to 50 degrees, according to the storey on 
which you happen to be a mistress as free as mountain air, 
rich enough to indulge in the most exquisite refinements 
and elegancies, and devoid, moreover, of all moral ideas, never 
speaking to you of her virtue while trying a new position, nor 
of her reputation any more than if she had never had one ; 
never intimate with women, and scorning them all nearly as 
much as if she were a man, making very light of Platonism 
without any concealment, and yet always bringing the heart 
into play : a woman who, had she been placed in a different 
sphere, would undoubtedly have become the most notorious 
courtesan in the world, and made the glory of the Aspasias 
and Imperias grow pale ! 

" Then this woman so constituted was mine. I did what 
I would with her ; I had the key of her room and her drawer ; 
I opened her letters ; I had taken her own name from her and 
given her another. She was my thing, my property. Her 
youth, beauty, love all belonged to me, and I used and abused 
them. I made her go to bed during the day and sit up at 
night, if I took a fancy to do so, and she obeyed me simply, 
without appearing to make a sacrifice, and without assuming 
the little airs of a resigned victim. She was attentive, caress- 
ing, and, monstrous circumstance, scrupulously faithful ; that 
is to say, that if six months ago, when I was complaining of 
being without a mistress, I had been given even a distant 
glimpse of such happiness, I should have gone mad with joy, 
and sent my hat knocking against the sky in token of my 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 121 

rejoicing. Well ! now that I have her, this happiness seems 
cold to me ; I scarcely feel, I do not feel it, and the situation in 
which I am affects me so little, that I am often doubtful 
whether I have made a change. Were I to leave Rosette, I 
have an intimate conviction, that at the end of a month, 
perhaps before, I should have so completely and carefully for- 
gotten her, that I should no longer be able to tell whether I 
had known her or not ! Would she do as much on her part ? 
I think not. 

" I was reflecting, then, upon all these things, and, feeling a 
sort of repentance, I laid on the fair sleeper's forehead the 
chastest and most melancholy kiss that ever a young man gave 
a young woman on the stroke of midnight. She moved a little, 
and the smile on her lips became somewhat more decided, 
but she did not awake. I leant over her and stretching out 
my arms I coiled them around her in snake-like fashion. The 
contact of my body seemed to rouse her ; she opened her eyes, 
raised herself, and, without speaking to me, she fastened her 
mouth to mine, and clung so tightly to me as to set my blood 
coursing rapidly, and I was warmed in less than no time. All 
the lyrism of the evening was turned into -prose; but it was at 
least poetical prose. That night was one of the fairest sleepless 
nights that I have ever spent : I can hope for such no longer. 

" We still have agreeable moments, but it is necessary that 
they should have been led up to, and prepared for, by some 
external circumstance such as I have related, and at the be- 
ginning I had no need to excite my imagination by looking at 
the moon and listening to the nightingale's song, in order to 
have all the pleasure that is possible to a man who is not really 
in love. There are no broken threads as yet in our weft, but 
there are knots here and there, and the warp is not nearly so 
smooth. 

" Rosette, who is still in love, does what she can to obviate 
these inconveniences. Unfortunately, there are two things in 
the world which cannot be commanded love and weariness. 
On my part, I make superhuman efforts to overcome the som- 
nolence which overtakes me in spite of myself, and, like country 

H 



122 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

people who fall asleep at ten o'clock in town drawing-rooms, 
I keep my eyes as wide open as possible, and lift up my eyelids 
with my fingers ! It is of no use, and I assume a conjugal 
freedom from restraint which is most unpleasing. 

" The dear child, who the other day found herself the better 
for the rural system, brought me yesterday into the country. 

" It might be to the purpose, perhaps, to give you a little 
description of the said country, which is rather pretty; it 
might enliven our metaphysics somewhat, and, besides, the 
characters must have a background ; the figures cannot stand 
out against a blank, or against that vague brown tint with 
which painters fill the field of their canvas. 

" The approaches to it are very picturesque. You arrive, by 
a highway bordered with old trees, at a star, the middle of 
which is marked by a stone obelisk surmounted by a ball of 
gilt copper. Five roads form the rays; then the ground 
becomes suddenly hollow. The road dips into a rather narrow 
valley, crosses the little stream, that occupies the bottom, by a 
one-arched bridge, and then with great strides reascends the 
opposite side, where stands the little village, the slated steeple 
of which can be seen peeping from among the thatched roofs 
and round-headed apple-trees. The horizon is not very vast, 
for it is bounded on both sides by the crest of the hill, but it is 
cheerful and rests the eye. Beside the bridge there is a mill, 
and a structure of red stones in the shape of a tower ; the nearly 
perpetual barking, and the sight of some brachs and young 
bandy-legged turnspits warming themselves in the sun before 
the door, would tell you that it is there that the gamekeeper 
dwells, if the buzzards and martins nailed to the shutters could 
leave you in doubt about it for a moment 

"At this spot there begins an avenue of sorbs, the scarlet 
fruit of which attracts clouds of birds. As people do not pass 
there very often, there is only a white band along the middle 
all the rest is covered over with a short fine moss, and in the 
double rut traced by the wheels of vehicles, little frogs, green 
as chrysoprase, croak and hop. After proceeding for some 
time YOU find yourself before a gilded and painted iron grating, 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 123 

its sides adorned with spiked fences and chevaux-dc-frise, 
Then the road turns towards the mansion which, being buried 
in the verdure like a bird's nest, cannot as yet be seen without 
hastening too much, however, and not infrequently turning 
aside to visit an elegant kiosk or a fine prospect, crossing and 
recrossing the stream by Chinese or rustic bridges. 

"Owing to the unevenness of the ground, and the dams 
erected for the service of the mill, the stream has, in several 
places, a fall of from four to five feet, and nothing can be more 
pleasant than to hear all these cascades prattling close at hand, 
most frequently without seeing them, for the osiers and elders 
which line the bank form an almost impenetrable curtain. But 
all this portion of the park is in a measure only the ante-cham- 
ber of the other part. A high road passing across this property 
unfortunately cuts it in two, an inconvenience which has been 
remedied in a very ingenious manner. Two great embattled 
walls, full of barbicans and loopholes, in imitation of a ruined 
fortress, stand on either side of the road ; a tower on which 
hangs gigantic ivy, and which flanks the mansion, lets fall on the 
opposite bastion a veritable drawbridge with iron chains, which 
are lowered every morning. 

" You pass through a pointed archway into the interior of the 
donjon, and thence into the second enclosure, where the trees, 
which have not been cut for more than a century, are of extra- 
ordinary height, with knotty trunks swaddled in parasitical 
plants, and are the finest and most singular that I have ever seen. 
Some have no leaves except at the top, where they terminate in 
broad parasols ; others taper into plumes. Others, on the con- 
trary, have near the body a large tuft, out of which the stripped 
stem shoots up to heaven like a second tree planted in the first ; 
you would think that they formed the foreground of an arti- 
ficial landscape, or the side-scenes of a theatrical decoration, so 
curiously deformed are they ; while ivy passing from one to the 
other and suffocating them in its embrace, mingles its dark 
hearts with the green leaves and looks like their shadows 
Nothing in the world could be more picturesque. The stream 
widens at this spot so as to form a little lake, and its shallow 



124 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

ness allows the beautiful aquatic plants, which carpet its bed, 
to be seen beneath the transparent water. These are nympha- 
cese and lotuses floating carelessly in the purest crystal, with 
the reflections of the clouds and of the weeping-willows that 
lean over on the bank. The mansion is on the other side, and 
this little skiff, painted apple-green and light red, will save you 
going rather a long round to reach the bridge. 

"It is a collection of buildings, constructed at different epochs, 
with uneven gables, and a crowd of little bell-turrets. This 
pavilion is of brick, with corners of stone ; this main building is 
of a rustic order, full of embossments and vermiculations. 
This other pavilion is quite modern ; it has a flat roof, after the 
Italian fashion, with vases and a balustrade of tiles, and a 
vestibule of ticking in the shape of a tent. The windows are 
all of different sizes, and do not correspond ; they are of all 
kinds. We find even trefoils and ogives, for the chapel is Gothic. 
Certain portions are latticed, like Chinese houses, with trellis- 
work painted in different colours, whereon climb woodbines, 
jessamines, nasturtiums, and virginian creepers, the long sprays 
of which enter the rooms familiarly, and seem to stretch out a 
hand to you and bid you good morning. 

" In spite of this want of regularity, or rather by reason of it, 
the appearance of the building is charming. It has at least not 
all been seen at once, you can make a choice, and you are 
always bethinking yourself of something that had not been 
noticed. This dwelling, which I did not know of, as it is at a 
distance of twenty leagues, pleased me at the very first, and I 
was most grateful to Rosette for having had the triumphant 
idea of choosing such a nest for our loves. 

" We arrived there at the close of day; and being fatigued, had 
nothing more urgent, after supping with great appetite, than to 
go to bed separately, be it understood for we intended to 
sleep seriously. 

" I was dreaming some rose-coloured dream, full of flowers, 
perfumes, and birds, when I felt a warm breath on my forehead, 
and a kiss descending upon it with throbbing wings. A delicate 
noise of lips, and a soft moisture on the place that was touched, 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 125 

made me think that I was not dreaming. I opened my eyes, 
and the first thing that I saw was the fresh white neck of 
Rosette, who was bending down over the bed to kiss me. I 
threw my arms around her form, and returned her kiss more 
amorously than I had done for a long time. 

" She went away to draw the curtain and open the window, 
then came back and sat down on the edge of my bed, holding 
my hand between both of hers and playing with my rings. 
Her attire was most coquettishly simple. She was without 
corset or petticoat, and had absolutely nothing on her but a 
large dressing-gown of cambric, as white as milk, very ample and 
with broad folds ; her hair was drawn up on the top of her 
head with a little white rose, of the kind that has only three or 
four leaves ; her ivory feet played in slippers worked in brilliant 
and variegated colours, as delicate as possible, though still too 
large, and with no quarter like those of the young Roman 
ladies. As I looked at her I regretted that I was her lover, 
and had not to become so. 

" The dream that I had at the moment when she came to 
awake me in so agreeable a manner was not very remote from 
the reality. My room looked upon the little lake that I have 
just described. My window was framed with jessamine, which 
was shaking its stars in silver rain upon the floor. Large 
foreign flowers were poising their urns beneath my balcony as 
though to cense me ; a sweet and undecided odour, formed 
of a thousand different perfumes, penetrated to my bed, whence 
I could see the water gleaming and scaling into millions of 
spangles; the birds were jargoning, warbling, chirping, and 
piping. It was a harmonious noise, and confused like the hum 
of a festival. Opposite, on a sunlit hill, stretched a lawn of 
golden green, on which some large oxen, scattered here and 
there, were feeding under the care of a little boy. Quite alone, 
and further away, might be seen immense squares of forest of a 
darker green, from which the bluish smoke of the charcoal kilns 
curled spirally upwards. 

" Everything in this picture was calm, fresh, and smiling, 
and in whatever direction I turned my eyes, I saw nothing 



126 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

that was not fair and young. My room was hung in chintz, 
with mats on the floor ; blue Japanese pots, with round bodies 
and tapering necks, and filled with singular flowers, were artisti- 
cally arranged on the whatnots and on the dark-blue marble 
chimneypiece which was also filled with flowers ; there were 
frieze-panels of gay colour and delicate design, representing 
scenes from rural or pastoral nature, and sofas and divans in 
every corner, and then a beautiful and youthful woman all in 
white, her flesh giving a tender rose tint to her transparent dress 
where it touched it. It would be impossible to imagine anything 
better ordered for the gratification alike of soul and eye. 

" Thus my contented and careless glance would pass with 
equal pleasure from a magnificent pot strewn with dragons and 
mandarins to Rosette's slipper, and from that to the corner of 
her shoulder which shone beneath the cambric ; it would pause 
at the trembling stars of the jessamine and the white tresses of 
the willows on the bank, cross the water and wander on the 
hill, and then come back into the room, to be fixed on the 
rose-coloured bows on the corset of some shepherdess. 

" Through the slashes in the foliage the sky was opening 
thousands of blue eyes; the water prattled softly, and I, 
plunged in tranquil ecstasy, without speaking, and with my 
hand still between Rosette's two little ones, gave myself up to 
all this joy. 

" Do what we may, happiness is pink and white ; it can 
scarcely be represented otherwise. Delicate colours suit it as 
a matter of course. On its palette it has only water-green, sky- 
blue, and straw-yellow. Its pictures are all bright like those of 
the Chinese painters. Flowers, light, perfumes, a soft and 
silken skin which touches yours, a veiled harmony coming you 
know not whence, with these there is perfect happiness, and 
there is no means of living happy in a different way. For 
myself, I, who have a horror of the common-place, who dream 
but of strange adventures, strong passions, delirious ecstasies, 
and odd and difficult situations, I must be foolishly happy in 
the manner I have indicated, and, for all my efforts, I have never 
been able to discover any other method of being so. 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 127 

" I would have you know that I made none of these reflec- 
tions then ; it was after the event and when writing to you that 
they occurred to me ; at the moment in question I was occupied 
only in enjoying the sole occupation of a reasonable man. 

" I will not describe to you the life that we are leading here ; 
it may easily be imagined. There are walks in the great woods, 
violets and strawberries, kisses and little blue flowers, luncheons 
on the grass, readings and books forgotten beneath the trees ; 
parties on the water with the end of a scarf or a white hand 
dipping in the current, long songs and long laughter repeated 
by the echo on the bank ; the most Arcadian life that could be 
imagined ! 

" Rosette overwhelms me with caresses and attentions ; 
cooing more than a dove in the month of May, she rolls herself 
about me and encircles me in her folds ; she strives that I may 
have no other atmosphere than her breath, and no other 
horizon than her eyes ; she invests me very carefully, and surfers 
nothing whatever to enter or come forth without permission ; 
she has built a little guard-house beside my heart, whence she 
keeps watch over it night and day. She says charming things 
to me ; she makes me the kindest madrigals ; she sits at my 
feet and behaves before me quite like a humble slave before 
her lord and master behaviour which suits me well enough, 
for I like these little submissive ways, and I have an inclination 
towards oriental despotism. She never does the smallest thing 
without Uking my advice, and she seems completely to have 
renounced whim and wish ; she tries to divine my thought and 
to anticipate it; she is wearisome with wit, tenderness, and 
kindness ; she is perfect enough to be thrown out of the 
window. How the devil can I give up so adorable a woman 
without seeming a monster ? It would be enough to discredit 
my heart for ever. 

" Oh ! how I long to find her in fault, and to discover some- 
thing wrong against her ! how impatiently I wait for an oppor- 
tunity for a quarrel ! but there is no danger that the rogue will 
furnish me with one ! When I speak abruptly, and in a harsh 
tone to her, in order to bring about an altercation, she gives me 



128 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

such soft answers, in such silvery tones, with such moist eyes, 
and with such a sad and loving mien that I seem to myself 
something worse than a tiger, or else a crocodile at the very 
least, and, in spite of my rage, am obliged to ask her pardon. 

"She literally murders me with love; she puts me to the 
torture, and every day brings the planks, between which I am 
caught, a notch closer. She probably wants to drive me into 
telling her that I detest her, that she wearies me to death, and 
that, if she does not leave me at peace, I will cut her face with 
a horsewhip. By heavens ! she will succeed, and, if she con- 
tinues to be so amiable, the devil take me but it will be before 
long. 

" In spite of all these fair appearances, Rosette has had 
enough of me as I of her ; but as she has committed glaring follies 
on my account, she will not, by a rupture, put herself in the 
wrong in the eyes of the worthy corporation of womankind. 
Every great passion pretends to be eternal, and it is very con- 
venient to avail one's-self of its advantages without being sub- 
jected to its drawbacks. Rosette reasons in this manner : 
' Here is a young man who has only a remnant of liking for 
me, and being artless and gentle, he does not dare to show it 
openly, and is at his wit's end ; it is clear that I weary him, but 
he will die with the trouble of it rather than take it upon himself 
to leave me. As he is a sort of poet, he has his head full of 
fine phrases about love and passion, and believes himself 
obliged, as a matter of conscience, to play the part of a Tristan 
or an Amadis. Hence, as nothing in the world is more in- 
tolerable than the caresses of one whom you are beginning to 
love no longer (and to love a woman no longer means to hate 
her violently), I am going to lavish them on him sufficiently 
to give him a fit of indigestion, and he will be obliged at any 
rate to send me to all the devils, or else begin to love me 
again as he did the first day, which he will carefully abstain 
from doing.' 

" Nothing could be better conceived. Is it not charming to 
act the deserted Ariadne ? People pity you and admire you, 
and cannot find sufficient imprecations for the wretch who has 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 129 

been monstrous enough to forsake so adorable a creature. You 
assume a resigned and mournful air, you rest your chin on 
your hand and your elbow on your knee in such a way 
as to bring out the pretty blue veins of your wrist. Vpu wear 
more streaming hair, and for some time adopt dresses of a 
darker hue. You avoid uttering the name of the ungrateful 
one, but you make indirect allusions to it, heaving little 
admirably modulated sighs. 

" A woman so good, so beautiful, so impassioned, who has 
made such great sacrifices, who is absolutely free from reproach, 
a chosen vessel, a pearl of love, a spotless mirror, a drop of 
milk, a white rose, an ideal essence for the perfume of a life 
a woman who should have been worshipped on bended knees, 
and who, after her death, ought to be cut in small pieces for 
the purpose of relics to abandon her iniquitously, fraudulently, 
villainously ! Why, a corsair would not do worse ! To give 
her her death-blow ! for she will assuredly die of it ! A man 
must have a paving-stone in his body instead of a heart to 
behave in such a way. 

" O men ! men ! 

" I say this to myself; but perhaps it is net true. 

" Excellent hypocrites as women naturally are, I can scarcely 
believe that they could go so far as this ; are not Rosette's 
demonstrations after all only the accurate expression of her 
feelings towards rne ? However this may be, the continuation 
of the tett-ti-tete is no longer possible, and the fair chr.tol.iine 
has at last jusr sent oft' invitations to her acquaintances in the 
neighbourhood. We are busy nwiring preparations to receive 
these worthy country people. Good-bye, dear friend." 



_ 

~~~ ~ 



jfe 





V. 



WAS wrong. My wicked heart, being incapable 
of love had given itself this reason that it might 
deliver itself from a weight of gratitude which it 
could not support. I had joyfully seized this 
idea in order to excuse myself in my own eyes. I had clung to 
it, but nothing in the world could have been more untrue. 
Rosette was not playing a part, and if ever a woman was true, 
it is she. Well ! I almost bear her ill-will for the sincerity of 
her passion, which is one tie the more, and makes a rupture 
more difficult or less excusable ; I would rather have her false 
and fickle. What a singular position is this ! You wish to go 
away and you remain ; you wish to say, ' I hate you,' and you 
say, ' I love you ; ' your past impels you onward and prevents 
you from returning or stopping. You are faithful, and you 
regret it. An indefinable kind of shame prevents you from 
giving yourself up entirely to other acquaintances, and makes 
you compound with yourself. You give to one all that you 
can take from the other without sacrificing appearances ; times 
and opportunities for seeing each other, which once presented 
themselves so naturally, are now to be discovered only with 
difficulty. You begin to remember that you have business of 
importance. 

" Such a situation full of twitchings is most painful, but it 
is not so much so as mine. When it is a new friendship that 
takes you away from the old it is easier to get free. Hope 
smiles sweetly on you from the threshold of the house that con- 
tains your young loves. A fairer and more rosier illusion 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 131 

hovers white-winged over the newly closed tomb of its sister 
lately dead ; another blossom more mature and more balmy, on 
which there trembles a heavenly tear, has sprung up suddenly 
from among the withered flower-cups of the old bouquet ; fair 
azure-tinted vistas open up before you ; avenues of yoke-elms, 
discreet and humid, extend to the horizon ; there are gardens 
with a few pale statues, or some bank supported by an ivy-clad 
wall, lawns starred with daisies, narrow balconies where lean- 
ing on your elbow you gaze at the moon, shadows intersected 
with furtive glimmerings, drawing-rooms with light subdued by- 
ample curtains ; all the obscurity and isolation sought by the 
love which dares not show itself. 

"It is like a new youth that comes to you. You have, 
besides, change of place, habit, and people ; you feel, perhaps, 
a species of remorse, but the desire that hovers and buzzes 
about your head like a bee in the spring-time prevents you 
from hearkening to its voice ; the void in your heart is filled, 
and your memories fade beneath new impressions. But in 
this case it is different . I love nobody, and it is only from 
lassitude and weariness of myself rather than of her that I wish 
that I could break with Rosette. 

" My old notions, which had slumbered for a little while, 
awake more foolish than ever. I am tormented as before 
with the desire of having a mistress, and as before, in 
Rosette's very arms, I doubt whether I have ever had one. 
I see again the fair lady at her window in her park of the time 
of Louis XIII., and the huntress on her white horse gallops 
across the avenue in the forest. My ideal beauty smiles at me 
from the height of her hammock of clouds. I seem to recognise 
her voice in the song of the birds, or the murmuring of the 
foliage ; I think that I am being called in all directions, and that 
the daughters of the air touch my face with the fringe of their 
invisible scarves. As in the times of my perturbations, I 
imagine that if I were to post off on the spot and go somewhere, 
far away and quickly, I should reach a spot where things that 
concern me are taking place and where my destinies are being 
decided. 



132 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

" I feel that I am being waited for impatiently in some corner 
of the earth, I know not which. A suffering soul that cannot 
come to me calls eagerly for me and dreams of me ; it is this 
that causes my disquietude, and renders me incapable of re- 
maining where I am ; I am drawn violently out of my element. 
My nature is not one of those that is the centre of others, one 
of these fixed stars around which other lights gravitate ; I must 
wander over the plains of the sky like an unruly meteor, until 
I have met with the planet whose satellite I am to be, the 
Saturn on whom I am to place my ring. Oh ! when will this 
marriage be accomplished ? Until then I cannot hope to be 
in my proper position and at rest, and I shall be like the dis- 
tracted and vacillating compass-needle when seeking for its 
pole. 

" I have suffered my wings to be caught in this treacherous 
bird-lime, hoping that I should leave only a feather behind, 
and believing myself able to fly away when I should think fit 
to do so. Nothing could be more difficult ; I find that I am 
covered with an imperceptible net more difficult to break than 
that forged by Vulcan, and the texture of the meshes is so fine 
and close that there is no aperture admitting of escape. The 
net, moreover, is large, and it is possible to move about inside 
it with an appearance of freedom ; it can scarcely be perceived, 
save when an attempt is made to break it, but then it resists 
and becomes as solid as a wall of brass. 

" How much time have I lost, O my ideal ! without making 
the slightest effort to realise thee ! How have I slothful! y 
abandoned myself to the voluptuousness of a night ! and how 
little do I deserve to find thee ! 

" Sometimes I think of forming another connection ; but I 
have no one in view. More frequently I propose, if I succeed 
in breaking these bonds, never to enter into similar ones again ; 
and yet there is nothing to justify such a resolution, for this 
affair has been apparently a very happy one, and I have net 
the least complaint to make against Rosette. She has always 
been good to me; her conduct could not have been better. 
Her fidelity to me has been exemplary ; she has not occasioned 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 133 

the slightest suspicion. The most vigilant and restless jealousy 
would have found nothing to say against her, and would have 
been obliged to fall asleep. A man could have been jealous 
only for things that were past ; although it is true that in that 
case he would have had abundant reason to be so. But jeal- 
ousy of this description is a nicety which happily is rather rare ; 
the present is quite enough without going back to search be- 
neath the rubbish of old passions for phials of poison and cups 
of gall. 

" What woman could you love if you thought of all this ? 
You know, in a confused way, that a woman has had several 
lovers before you ; but you say to yourself so full of tortuous 
turnings and windings is the pride of man ! that you are the 
first that she has truly loved, and that it was owing to a con- 
currence of fatal circumstances that she found herself united to 
people unworthy of her, or perhaps that it was the vague long- 
ing of a heart which was seeking for its own satisfaction, and 
which changed because it had not found. 

" Perhaps it is impossible to really love any one but a virgin 
a virgin in body and mind a frail bud which no zephyr has 
as yet caressed, and the closed bosom of which has received 
neither raindrop nor pearly dew, a chaste flower which un- 
folds its white robe for you alone, a fair lily with silver urn 
wherein no desire has been quenched, and which has been 
gilded only by your sun, rocked only by your breath, watered 
only by your hand. The radiance of noon is not worth the 
divine paleness of dawn, and all the fervour of a soul that has 
experience and knowledge of life yields to the heavenly igno- 
rance of a young heart that is waking up to love. Ah ! what 
a bitter and shameful thought is it that you are wiping away the 
kisses, of another, that there is not, perhaps, a single spot on 
this brow, these lips, this throat, these shoulders, on this whole 
body which is yours now, that has not been reddened and 
marked by strange lips ; that these divine murmurs coming to 
the assistance of the tongue, whose words have failed, have been 
heard before ; tha*. these senses, which are so greatly moved, 
have not learned their ecstasy and their delirium from you, and 



134 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

that deep down, far away in the retirement of one of these 
recesses of the soul that are never visited, there watches an 
inexorable recollection which compares the pleasures of former 
times with the pleasures of to-day ! 

" Although my natural supineness leads me to prefer high 
roads to unbeaten paths, and a public drinking-fountain to a 
mountain spring, I must absolutely try to love some virginal 
creature as pure as snow, as trembling as the sensitive plant, 
who can only blush, and cast down her eyes. Perhaps beneath 
this limpid flood, into which no diver has yet gone down, I may 
fish up a pearl of the purest water and fit to be the fellow of 
Cleopatra's ; but to do this I should loose the bond that ties 
me to Rosette, for it is not probable that I shall realise my 
wish with her, and I do not in truth feel the power to do so. 

" And then, if I must confess it, I have at bottom a secret 
and shameful motive which dares not come forth into the light, 
and which I must nevertheless mention to you, seeing that T 
have promised to hide nothing from you, and that a confession 
to be meritorious must be complete a motive which counts 
for much amid all this uncertainty. If I break with Rosette, 
some time must necessarily elapse before she can be replaced, 
however compliant may be the kind of woman in whom I shall 
seek for her successor, and with her I have made pleasure 
a habit which I should find it painful to interrupt. It is of 
course possible to fall back upon courtesans I liked them well 
enough once, and did not spare them on a like emergency 
but now they disgust me horribly, and give me nausea. Having 
tasted of a more refined though still impure passion, such crea- 
tures are not again to be thought of. On the other hand, I 
cannot endure the idea of being one or two months without a 
woman for my companion. This is egoism, and of a depraved 
description ; but I believe that the most virtuous, if they would 
be frank, might make somewhat analogous confessions. 

" It is in this respect that I am most surely caught, and were 
it not for this reason, Rosette and I would have quarrelled 
irreparably long ago. And then in truth it is so mortally 
wearisome to pay court to a woman that I have no heart for it. 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. t 135 

To begin again to say all the charming fooleries that I have 
said so many times already, to re-enact the adorable, to write 
notes and to reply to them ; to escort beauties in the evening 
two leagues from your own house ; to catch cold in your feet 
and your head before a window while watching for a beloved 
shadow ; to calculate on a sofa how many superposed tissues 
separate you from your goddess ; to carry bouquets and frequent 
balls only to arrive at my present position it is well worth the 
trouble ! 

" It were as good to remain in one's rut. Why come out of 
it only to fall again into one precisely similar, after disquiet- 
ing one's-self greatly and doing one's-self much harm ? If I were 
in love, matters would take their own course, and all this would 
seem delightful to me; but I am not, although I have the 
greatest wish to be so, for after all there is only love in the 
world; and if pleasure, which is merely its shadow, has such 
allurements for us, what must the reality be ? In what a flood of 
unspeakable ecstasy, in what lakes of pure delight must those 
swim whose hearts have been reached by one of its gold-tipped 
arrows, and who burn with the kindly ardour of a mutual flame ! 

" By Rosette's side I experience that dull calm, and that 
kind of lazy comfort which results from the gratification of the 
senses, but nothing more ; and this is not enough. Often this 
voluptuous enervation turns to torpor, and this tranquillity to 
weariness ; and I then fall into purposeless absence of mind, 
and into a kind of dull dreaming which fatigues me and wears 
me out. It is a condition that I must get out of at all costs. 

" Oh ! if I could be like certain of my friends who kiss an 
old glove with intoxication, who are rendered completely happy 
by a pressure of the hand, who would not exchange a few 
paltry flowers, half withered by the perspiration of the ball, for 
a Sultana's jewel-box, who cover with their tears and sew into 
their shirts, just over their hearts, a note written in wretched 
style, and stupid enough to have been copied from the ' Com- 
plete Letter Writer,' who worship women with big feet, and 
excuse themselves for doing so on the ground that they have a 
beautiful soul ! 



136 t MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

' If I could follow with trembling the last folds of a dress, 
and wait for the opening of a door that I might see a dear, 
white apparition pass into a flood of light ; if a whispered word 
made me change colour; if I possessed the virtue to forego 
dining that I might arrive the sooner at a trysting-place ; if I 
were capable of stabbing a rival or fighting a duel with a hus- 
band ; if, by the special favour of heaven, it were given to me to 
find wit in ugly women, and goodness in those who are 
both ugly and foolish ; if I could make up my mind to dance 
a minuet and to listen to sonatas played by young persons on 
harpsichord or harp ; if my capacity could reach to the height 
of understanding ombre and reversis ; if, in short, I were a man 
and not a poet, I should certainly be much happier than I am ; 
I should be less wearied and less wearisome. 

" Only one thing have I ever asked of women beauty ; 1 
am very willing to dispense with wit and soul. For me a 
woman who is beautiful has always wit ; she has the wit to be 
beautiful, and I know of none that is equal to this. It would 
take many brilliant phrases and sparkling flashes to make up 
the worth of the lightning from a beautiful eye. I prefer a 
pretty mouth to a pretty word, and a well-modelled shoulder to 
a virtue, even a theological one ; I would give fifty souls for a 
delicate foot, and all our poetry and poets for the hand of 
Jeanne d'Aragon or the brow of the Virgin of Foligno. I 
worship beauty of form above all things ; beauty is to me visible 
divinity, palpable happiness, heaven come down upon earth. 
There are certain undulating outlines, delicate lips, curved eye- 
lids, inclinations of the head, and extended ovals which ravish 
me beyond all expression, and engage me for whole hours at a 
time. 

" Beauty, the only thing that cannot be acquired, inaccessible 
for ever to those who are without it at first ; ephemeral and 
fragile flower which grows without being sown, pure gift of 
heaven ! O beauty ! the most radiant diadem wherewith 
chance could crown a brow thou art admirable and precious 
like all that is beyond the reach of man, like the azure of the firma- 
ment like the gold of the star, like the perfume of the seraphic 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 137 

lily ! We may exchange a stool for a throne ; we may conquer 
the world, and many have done so ; but who could refrain from 
kneeling before th.ee, pure personification of the thought of 
God? 

" I ask for nothing but beauty, it is true ; but I must have it 
so perfect that I shall probably never find it Here and there 
I have seen, in a few women, portions that were admirable 
accompanied by what was commonplace, and I have loved them 
for the choice parts that they had, without taking the rest into 
account; it is, however, a ratber painful task and sorrowful 
operation to suppress half of one's mistress in this way, and to 
mentally amputate whatever is ugly or ordinary in her by con- 
fining one's gaze to whatever goodness she may possess. 
Beauty is harmony, and a person who is equally ugly through- 
out is often less disagreeable to look at than a woman who is 
unequally beautiful. No sight gives me so much pain as that 
of an unfinished masterpiece, or of beauty which is wanting in 
something ; a spot of oil offends less on a coarse drugget than 
on a rich material. 

" Rosette is not bad ; she might pass for being beautiful, but 
dhe is far from realising my dream; she is a statue, several 
portions of which have been finished to a nicety. The rest 
has not been wrought so clearly out of the block ; there are 
some parts indicated with much delicacy and charm, and others 
in a more slovenly and negligent fashion. In the eyes of the 
vulgar the statue appears entirely finished, and its beauty com- 
plete; but a more attentive observer discovers many places 
where the work is not close enough, and outlines which, to 
attain to the purity that they ought to possess, -would need the 
nail of the workman to pass and re-pass many more times over 
them; it is for love to polish this marble and complete it, 
which is as much as to say that it will not be I who will 
finish it. 

" For the rest I do not limit beauty to any particular sinuosity 
of lines. Mien, gesture, walk, breath, colour, tone, perfume, 
all that life is enters into the composition of my ideal ; every- 
thing that has fragrance- that sings, or that is radiant belongs 

i 



138 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

to it as a matter of course. I love rich brocades, splendid 
.stuffs with their ample and powerful folds ; I love large flowers 
and scent-boxes, the transparency of spring water, the reflecting 
splendour of fine armour, thoroughbred horses and large white 
dogs such as we see in the pictures of Paul Veronese. I am 
a true pagan in this respect, and I in no wise adore gods that 
are badly made. Although I am not at bottom exactly what 
is called irreligious, no one is in fact a worse Christian than I. 

" I do not understand the mortification of matter which is 
the essence of Christianity, I think it a sacrilegious act to strike 
God's handiwork, and I cannot believe that the flesh is bad, 
since He has Himself formed it with His own fingers and in 
His own image. I do not approve much of long dark-coloured 
smock-frocks with only a head and two hands emerging from 
them, and pictures in which everything is drowned in shadow 
except a radiant countenance. My wish is that the sun should 
enter everywhere, that there should be as much light and as 
little shadow as possible, that there should be sparkling colour 
and curving lines, that nudity should be displayed proudly, and 
that matter should be concealed from none, seeing that, equally 
with mind, it is an everlasting hymn to the praise of God. 

" I can perfectly understand the mad enthusiasm of the 
Greeks for beauty ; and for my part I see nothing absurd in 
the law which compelled the judges to hear the pleadings of 
the lawyers in a dark place, lest their good looks and the 
gracefulness of their gestures and attitude should prepossess 
them favourably and incline the scale. 

" I would buy nothing of an ugly shopwoman ; I would be 
more willing to give to beggars whose rags and leanness were 
picturesque. There is a little feverish Italian as green as a 
citron, with large black and white eyes which are half his face 
you would think it was an unframed Murillo or Espagnolet 
exposed for sale by a second-hand dealer on the pavement ; he 
always has a penny more than the others. I would never beat 
a handsome horse or dog, and I should not like to have a friend 
or a servant who had not an agreeable exterior. 

" It is real torture to me to see ugly things or ugly persons. 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 139 

Architecture in bad taste, a piece of furniture of bad shape, 
prevent me from taking pleasure in a house, however comfort- 
able and attractive it may otherwise be. The best wine seems 
almost sour to me in an ill-turned glass, and I confess that 1 
would rather have the most Lacedaemonian broth on an enamel 
by Bernard de Falissy than the most delicate game in an 
earthenware plate. Externals have always taken a violent hold 
on me, and that is the reason why I avoid the company of old 
people; it grieves me, and affects me disagreeably, because 
they are wrinkled and deformed, though some indeed have a 
beauty of their own ; and a good deal of disgust is mingled 
with the pity that I feel for them. Of all the ruins in the 
world the ruin of a man is assuredly the saddest to con- 
template. 

" If I were a painter (and I have always regretted that I am 
not), I would people my canvases only with goddesses, nymphs, 
madonnas, cherubs, and cupids. To devote one's brush to the 
making of portraits, unless they be those of beautiful persons, 
appears to me high treason against the art ; and, far from wish- 
ing to double ugly or ignoble faces, and insignificant and vulgar 
heads, I should be more inclined to have them cut off the 
originals. Caligula's ferocity turned in this direction would 
seem to me almost laudable. 

" The only thing in the world that I have ever wished for 
with any consistency is to be handsome. By handsome, I 
mean as handsome as Paris or Apollo. To be free from de- 
formity, and to have tolerably regular features, i.e. to have 
one's nose in the middle of one's face, and neither snub nor 
hooked, eyes neither red nor blood-shot, and a mouth be- 
comingly cut, is not to be handsome. At this rate I should 
be so, and I am as remote from the idea that I have formed of 
manly beauty as if I were one of the clock-jacks that strike the 
hour on the bells ; I might have a mountain on each shoulder, 
legs as crooked as those of a turnspit, and the nose and muzzle 
of an ape, and yet have as close a resemblance to it. 

" I often look at myself in the glass for whole hours, with 
unimaginable fixity and attention to see whether some improve- 



I 4 o MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

ment has not taken place in my face; I wait for the lines to make a 
movement and become straighter or rounder with more delicacy 
and purity, for my eye to light up and swim in a more vivacious 
fluid, for the sinuosity that separates my forehead from my 
nose to be filled up, and for my profile thus to assume the 
stillness and simplicity of the Greek profile, and I am always 
very much surprised that this does not happen. I am always 
hoping that some spring or other I shall lay aside the form that 
I have, as a serpent sheds his old skin. 

" To think that I want so little to be handsome, and that I 
shall never be so ! What ! half a line, a hundredth or a thousandth 
part of a line more or less in one place or another, a little less 
flesh on this bone, a little more on that a painter or a statuary 
would have settled the affair in half an hour. What mattered 
it to the atoms composing me to crystalise in such or such a way ? 
How did it concern this outline to come out here and to go in 
there, and where was the necessity that I should be as I am 
and not different ? In truth if I had Chance by the throat I 
think I should strangle it. Because it has pleased a wretched 
particle of I know not what to fall I know not where, and to 
coagulate foolishly into the clumsy countenance that I display, 
I am to be unhappy for ever ! Is it not the most foolish 
and miserable thing in the world ? How is it that my soul, 
with her eager longing for it, cannot let the poor carrion that 
she keeps upright fall prostrate, and go and animate one 
of those statues whose exquisite beauty saddens and ravishes 
her? 

" There are two or three persons whom I would assassinate 
with delight, being careful, however, not to bruise or spoil 
them, if I were in possession of the word that would effect the 
transmigration of souls from one body to the other. It has 
always seemed to me that to do what I wish (and what that 
is I do not know), I had need of very great and perfect 
beauty, and I imagine to myself that, if I had it, my life, 
which is so fettered and tormented, would have been left in 
peace. 

" We see so many beautiful faces in pictures ! why is none 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 141 

of them mine? so many charming heads hidden beneath 
the dust and smoke of time in the depths of the old galleries ! 
Would it not be better if they left their frames and came and 
expanded on my shoulders ? Would Raphael's reputation 
suffer very much if one of the angels that he makes to fly in 
swarms in the ultramarine of his canvases, were to give up his 
mask to me for thirty years ? So many of the most beautiful 
parts of his frescoes have peeled off and fallen away from old 
age ! No one would heed it. What are these silent beauties, 
upon which common men bestow scarce a heedless glance, 
doing around these walls ? and why has God or chance not 
wit enough to do what a man has accomplished with a few 
hairs fitted on a stick as a handle, and a few pastes of different 
colours tempered on a board ? 

" My first sensation before one of these marvellous heads, 
whose painted gaze seems to pass through you and extend to 
the infinite, is a shock, and a feeling of admiration which is 
not devoid of terror. My eyes grow moist, my heart beats ; 
then, when I become a little more accustomed to it, and have 
penetrated further into the secret of its beauty, I make a tacit 
comparison between it and myself ; jealousy twists itself at the 
bottom of my soul in more tangled knots than a viper, and I 
have all the trouble in the world to refrain from throwing 
myself upon the canvas and tearing it to pieces. 

" To be handsome means to have in one's-self so great a charm 
that every one smiles on you and welcomes you, that before you 
have spoken everybody is already prepossessed in your favour 
and disposed to be of your opinion ; that you have only to 
pass through a street or show yourself on a balcony to create 
friends or mistresses for you in the crowd. To have no need of 
being amiable in order to be loved, to be exempt from all the 
expenditure of wit and complaisance to which ugliness compels 
you, and from the thousand moral qualities which are necessary 
to make up for the absence of personal beauty ; what a 
splendid and magnificent gift ! 

" And if one could unite supreme beauty with supreme 
strength, and have the muscles of Hercules beneath the skin 



142 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

of Antinoiis, what more could he wish for ? I am sure that 
with these two things and the soul that I have, I should in less 
than three years be emperor of the world ! Another thing 
that I have desired almost as much as beauty and strength is 
the gift of transporting myself with the swiftness of thought 
from one place to another. With the beauty of an angel, the 
strength of a tiger and the wings of an eagle, I might begin - 
to find that the world is not so badly organised as I at first 
believed. A beautiful mask to allure and fascinate its prey, 
wings to swoop down upon it and carry it off, and claws to rend 
it ; so long as I have not these I shall be unhappy. 

"All the passions and tastes that I have had have been 
merely these three longings disguised. I liked weapons, horses, 
and women : weapons to take the place of the sinews that I 
lacked ; horses to serve me instead of wings ; women that I 
might at least possess in somebody the beauty that was wanting 
in myself. I sought in preference the most ingeniously 
murderous weapons, and those which inflicted incurable 
wounds. I never had an opportunity of making use of a kris 
or yataghan : nevertheless I like to have them about me ; I 
draw them from the sheath with a feeling of unspeakable 
security and strength, I fence with them at random with great 
energy, and if I chance to see the reflection of my face in a 
glass, I am astonished at its ferocious expression. 

" As to horses, I so override them that they must die or tell 
the reason why. If I had not given up riding Ferragus he 
would have been dead long ago, and that would have been a 
pity, for he is a good animal. What Arab horse could have legs 
so ready and so slender as my desire ? In women I have sought 
nothing but the exterior, and as those that I have seen up to 
the present are far from answering to the idea that I have 
formed of beauty, I have fallen back on pictures and statues; a 
resource which is after all pitiful enough when one has senses 
so inflamed as mine. However, there is something grand 
and beautiful in loving a statue, in that the love is perfectly 
disinterested, that you have not to dread the satiety or disgust 
of victory, and that you cannot reasonably hope for a second 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 143 

wonder similar to the story of Pygmalion. The impossible has 
always pleased me. 

" Is it not singular that I who am still in the fairest months 
of adolescence, and who, so far from abusing everything, have not 
even made use of the simplest things, have become surfeited to 
such a degree that I am no longer tickled by what is whimsical 
or difficult ? That satiety follows pleasure is a natural law and 
easy to be understood. That a man who has eaten largely of 
every dish at a banquet should be no longer hungry, and should 
seek to rouse his sluggish palate with the thousand arrows of 
spices or irritant wines may be most readily explained ; but that 
a man who has just sat down to table and has scarcely tasted the 
first viands should be seized with such superb disgust, be unable 
to touch without vomiting any dishes but those possessing 
extreme relish and care only for high-flavoured meats, cheeses 
marbled with blue, truffles and wines with the taste of flint, is 
a phenomenon which can only result from a peculiar organisa- 
tion ; it is as though an infant six months old were to find its 
nurse's milk insipid and refuse to suck anything but brandy. 

" I am as weary as if I had gone through all the prodigalities 
of Sardanapalus, and yet my life has been, in appearance, 
tranquil and chaste. It is a mistake to think that possession is 
the only road which leads to satiety. It can also be reached 
by desire, and abstinence is more wearing than excess. Desire 
such as mine fatigues differently from possession. Its glance 
traverses and penetrates the object which it fain would have, 
and which is radiant above it, more quickly and deeply than if 
it touched it. What more can it be taught by use ? What 
experience can be equal to such constant and impassioned 
contemplation ? 

" I have passed through so many things, though I have made 
the circuit of very few, that only the steepest heights any 
longer tempt me. I am attacked by the malady which seizes 
nations and powerful men in their old age the impossible. 
All that I can do has not the least attraction for me. Tiberius, 
Caligula, Nero, great Romans of the Empire, O you who have 
been so misunderstood, and are pursued by the baying of the 



(44 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN, 

rhetors' pack, I suffer from your disease and I pity you with 
all the pity that remains to me ! I too would build a bridge 
across the sea and pave the waves ; I have dreamed of burning 
towns to illuminate my festivals ; I have wished to be a woman, 
that I. might become acquainted with fresh voluptuousness. 

" Thy gilded house, O Nero ! is but a miry stable beside the 
palace that I have raised ; my wardrobe is better equipped than 
thine, Heliogabalus, and of very different splendour. My 
circuses are more roaring and more bloody than yours, my 
perfumes more keen and penetrating, my slaves more numerous 
and better made ; I, too, have yoked naked courtesans to my 
chariot, and I have trodden upon men with a heel as disdainful 
as yours. Colossuses of the ancient world, there beats beneath 
my feeble sides a heart as great as yours, and in your place I 
would have done what you did and perhaps more. How many 
Babels have I piled up one upon another to reach the sky, slap 
the stars and spit thence upon creation ! Why am I not 
God, since I cannot be man ? 

" Oh ! I think that a hundred thousand centuries of nothing- 
ness will be needed to rest me after these twenty years of life. 
God of Heaven, what stone will you roll upon me ? into what 
shadow will you plunge me ? of what Lethe will you cause me 
to drink ? beneath what mountain will you bury the Titan ? 
Am I destined to breathe a volcano from my mouth and make 
earthquakes when turning over ? 

" When I think that I was born of a mother so sweet and so 
resigned, whose tastes and habits were so simple, I am quife 
surprised that I did not burst through her womb when she was 
carrying me. How is it that none of her calm, pure thoughts 
passed into my body with the blood that she transmitted to 
me ? and why must I be the son of her flesh only and not of 
her spirit ? The dove has produced a tiger which would fain 
have all creation a prey to his claws. 

" I lived amid the calmest and chastest surroundings. It is 
difficult to dream of an existence so purely enshrined as mine. 
My years glided away beneath the shadows of my mother's arm- 
chair, with my little sisters and the house-dog. Around me I 



MAFEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 145 

saw only the worthy, gentle, tranquil heads of old servants 
who had grown grey in our service and were in a fashion 
hereditary, and of grave and sententious relatives or friends, 
clad in black, who would place their gloves the one after the 
other on the brim of their hats; some aunts of a certain 
age, plump, tidy, discreet, with dazzling linen, grey skirts, 
thread mittens, .and their hands on their girdles like religious 
persons ; furniture severe even to sadness, bare oak wainscoting, 
leather hangings, the whole forming an interior of sober and 
subdued colour, such as is represented by certain Flemish 
masters. 

" The garden was damp and dark ; the box which marked 
out the beds, the ivy which covered the walls and a few fir- 
trees with peeled arms were charged with the representation of 
verdure and succeeded rather badly in their task j the brick 
house, with a very lofty roof, though roomy and in good con- 
dition, had something gloomy and drowsy about it Surely 
nothing could have been more adapted for a separate, austere, 
and melancholy life than such an abode. It seemed impossible 
that children brought up in such a house should not end by 
becoming priests or nuns. Well ! in this atmosphere of purity 
and repose, in this shadow and contemplation, I became 
rotten by degrees, and, without showing any signs of it, like a 
medlar upon straw. In the bosom of this worthy, pious, holy 
family I arrived at a horrible degree of depravity. It was not 
contact with the world, for I had not seen it ; nor the fire of 
passions, for I was chilled by the icy sweat that oozed from 
those excellent walls. The worm had not crawled from the 
heart of another fruit into mine. It had been hatched of itself 
entirely within my own pulp which it had preyed upon and 
furrowed in every direction : without, there was no appearance 
and warning that I was spoiled. I had neither spot nor worm- 
hole ; but I was completely hollow within, and there was left 
to me only a slight, brilliantly-coloured pellicle which would 
have been burst by the slightest shock. 

" Is it not an inexplicable thing that a child, born of virtuous 
parents, brought up with care and discretion, and kept away 



146 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

from everything bad, should be perverted of himself to such a 
degree, and come to be what I am now ? I am sure that if 
you went back as far as the sixth generation you would not find 
a single atom among my ancestors similar to those of which I 
am formed. I do not belong to my family ; I am not a branch 
of that noble trunk, but a poisonous toadstool sprung up amid 
its moss-grown roots some heavy, stormy night ; and yet 
no one has ever had more aspirations and soarings after the 
beautiful than I, no one has ever tried more stubbornly to 
spread his wings ; but each attempt has made my fall the 
greater, and I have been lost through what ought to have saved 
me. 

" Solitude is worse for me than society, although I wish for 
the first more than for the second. Everything that takes me 
out of myself is wholesome for me ; companionship wearies me, 
but it snatches me away perforce from the vain dreaming, 
whose spiral I ascend and descend with bended brow and 
folded arms. Thus, since the tete-a-tete has been broken off, 
and there have been people here with whom I am obliged to 
put some constraint upon myself, I have been less liable to give 
myself up to my gloomy moods, and have been less tormented 
by the inordinate desires which swoop upon my heart like a 
cloud of vultures as soon as I am unoccupied for a moment. 

"There are some rather pretty women, and one or two 
young fellows who are amiable enough and very gay ; but in all 
this country swarm I am most charmed by a young cavalier 
who arrived two or three days ago. He pleased me from the 
very first, and I took a fancy to him, merely on seeing him dis- 
mount from his horse. It would be impossible to be more 
graceful ; he is not very tall, but he is slender and has a good 
figure ; there is something soft and undulating in his walk and 
gestures which is most agreeable ; many women might envy 
him with his hands and feet. The only fault that he has is that 
he is too beautiful, and has too delicate features for a man. He 
is provided with a pair of the finest and darkest eyes in the 
world, which have an indefinable expression, and whose gaze it 
is difficult to sustain ; but as he is very young and has no 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 147 

appearance of a beard, the softness and perfection of the lower 
part of his face tempers somewhat the vivacity of his eagle 
eyes ; his brown and lustrous hair flows over his neck in great 
ringlets, and gives a peculiar character to his head. 

" Here, then, is at last one of the types of beauty that I 
dreamed of realised and walking before me ! What pity it is 
that he is a man, or rather that I am not a woman ! This 
Adonis, who to his beautiful face unites a very lively and far- 
reaching wit, enjoys the further privilege of being able to utter 
his jests and pleasantries in silvery and thrilling tones which it 
is difficult to hear without emotion. He is truly perfect. 

" He appears to share my taste for beautiful things, for his 
clothes are very rich and refined, his horse very frisky and 
thorough-bred ; and, that everything might be complete and har- 
monious, he had a page fourteen or fifteen years old mounted 
on a pony behind him, fair, rosy, as pretty as a seraph, half 
asleep, and so fatigued with his ride, that his master was 
obliged to lift him off the saddle and carry him in his arms to 
his room. Rosette received him very kindly, and I think that 
she intends to make use of him to rouse my jealousy and in 
this way bring out the little flame that sleeps beneath the ashes 
of my extinguished passion. Nevertheless, formidable as such 
a rival may be, I am little disposed to be jealous of him, and I 
feel so drawn towards him that I would willingly enough 
abandon my love to have his friendship.'' 






VI. 



|T this point, if the gentle reader will permit us, we 
shall for a time leave to his dreams the worthy 
personage who, up to the present, has monopolised 
the stage and spoken for himself alone, and go 
back to the ordinary form of romance, without, however, pro- 
hibiting ourselves from taking up the dramatic form, if necessary, 
later on, and reserving to ourselves the right of drawing further 
on the species of epistolary confession addressed by the said 
young man to his friend, being persuaded that, however pene- 
trating and full of sagacity we may be, we must know far less 
in this matter than he does himself. 

. . . The little page was so worn out that he slept in his 
master's arms, his little head all dishevelled, swaying to and 
fro as though he were dead. It was some distance from the 
flight of steps to the room which had been assigned to the new 
arrival, and the servant who showed him the way offered to 
carry the child in his turn ; but the young cavalier, to whom, 
moreover, the burden seemed but a feather, thanked him and 
would not relinquish it. He laid him down very gently on the 
couch, taking a thousand precautions not to awake him; a 
mother could not have done better. When the servant had 
retired and the door was shut, he knelt down in front of him 
and tried to draw off his boots ; but the little feet, which were 
swelled and painful, rendered this operation somewhat difficult, 
and the pretty sleeper from time to time heaved vague and 
inarticulate sighs like one about to wake ; then the young 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 149 

cavalier would stop and wait until sleep had again overpowered 
him. The boots yielded at last, this was the most important ; 
the stockings offered only a slight resistance. 

This operation accomplished, the master took both the child's 
feet and laid them beside each other on the velvet of the sofa ; 
they were quite the most adorable pair of feet in the world, as 
small as could be, as white as new ivory and a little rosy from 
the pressure of the boots in which they had been imprisoned 
for seventeen hours feet too small for a woman, and which 
looked as though they had never walked ; what was seen of the 
leg was round, plump, smooth, transparent, veiny, and most 
exquisitely delicate ; a leg worthy of the foot. 

The young man, who was still on his knees, regarded these 
two little feet with loving and admiring attention; he bent 
down, took the left one and kissed it, then the right and kissed 
it also ; and then with kisses after kisses he went back along the 
leg as far as the place where the cloth began. The page raised 
his long eyelash a little, and cast upon his master a kind and 
drowsy look in which no surprise was apparent. " My belt is 
uncomfortable," he said, passing his finger beneath the ribbon, 
and fell asleep again. The master unfastened the belt, raised the 
page's head with a cushion, and touching his feet which, burn- 
ing as they were before, had become rather cold, wrapped them 
up carefully in his cloak, took an easy-chair and sat down as 
close as possible to the sofa. Two hours passed in this way 
the young man looking at the sleeping child and following the 
shadows of his dreams upon his brow. The only noise that 
was heard in the room was his regular breathing and the tick- 
tack of the clock. 

It was certainly a very graceful picture. There was a means 
for effect in the contrast of these two kinds of beauty that a 
skilful painter would have turned to good account. The master 
was as beautiful as a woman, the page as beautiful as a young 
girl. The round and rosy head, set thus in its hair, looked like a 
peach beneath its leaves ; it was as fresh and as velvety, though 
the fatigue of the journey had robbed it of a little of its usual 
brilliance ; the half-opened mouth showed little teeth of milky 



ISO MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

whiteness, and beneath his full and glossy temples a network 
of azure veins crossed one another ; his eyelashes, which were 
like the golden threads that are spread round the heads of virgins 
in the missals, reached nearly to the middle of his cheeks ; his 
long and silky hair resembled both gold and silver gold in the 
shade and silver in the light; his neck was at once fat and 
frail, and had nothing of the sex that was indicated by his 
dress : two or three buttons, unfastened to facilitate respiration, 
allowed a lozenge of plump and rounded flesh of wonderful 
whiteness to be seen through the hiatus in a shirt of fine 
Holland linen, as well as the beginning of a certain curving 
line difficult of explanation on the bosom of a young boy ; 
looking carefully at him it might also have been found that his 
hips were a little too much developed. 

The reader may draw his own conclusions ; we are offering 
him mere conjectures. We know as little of the matter as he 
does, but we hope to know more after a time, and we promise 
to faithfully keep him aware of our discoveries. If the reader's 
sight is better than ours, let his glance penetrate beneath the 
lace on that shirt and decide conscientiously whether the 
outline is too prominent or not prominent enough ; but we 
warn him that the curtains are drawn, and that a twilight 
scarcely favourable for investigations of the kind reigns in the 
room. 

The cavalier was pale, but of a golden paleness full of vigour 
and life ; his pupils swam in a blue, crystalline humour ; his 
straight and delicate nose imparted wonderful pride and energy 
to his profile, and its flesh was so fine that at the edge of the 
outline it suffered the light to pierce through ; his mouth had, 
at certain moments, the sweetest of smiles, but usually it was 
arched at the corners, inwards rather than outwards, like some 
of the heads that we see in the pictures of the old Italian 
masters ; and this gave him a little look of adorable disdain, a 
most piquant smorfia, an air of childish pouting and ill-humour, 
which was very singular and very charming. 

What were the ties uniting master to page and page to 
master? There was assuredly something more between them 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 151 

than the affection which may exist between master and servant. 
Were they two friends or two brothers? If so, why this 
disguise ? It would at all events have been difficult for any one 
who had witnessed the scene that we have just described, to 
believe that these two personages were in reality only what they 
appeared to be. 

" The dear angel, how he sleeps ! " said the young man in a 
low voice ; " I don't think that he has ever travelled so far in 
his life. Twenty leagues on horseback, he who is so delicate ! 
I am afraid that he will be ill from fatigue. But no, it will be 
nothing ; there will be no sign of it to-morrow ; he will have 
recovered his beautiful colour, and be fresher than a rose after 
rain. How beautiful he is, so ! If I were not afraid of 
awaking him, I would eat him up with caresses. What an 
adorable dimple he has on his chin ! what delicacy and 
whiteness of skin ! Sleep well, dear treasure. Ah ! I am truly 
jealous of your mother and I wish that I had made you. He 
is not ill ? No ; his breathing is regular, and he does not 
stir. But I think some one knocked " 

And indeed two little taps had been given as softly as possible 
on the panel of the door. 

The young man rose, and, fearing that he was mistaken, de- 
layed opening until there should be another knock. Two other 
taps, a little more accentuated, were heard again, and a woman's 
soft voice said in a very low tone : " It is I, Theodore." 

Theodore opened the door, but with less eagerness than is 
usual with a young man opening to a young woman with a 
gentle voice who comes scratching mysteriously at his door 
towards nightfall. The folding door, being half-opened, gave 
passage to whom, think you ? to the mistress of the perplexed 
D'Albert, the Princess Rosette in person, rosier than her 
name, and her bosom as moved as was ever that of a woman 
entering at evening the room of a handsome cavalier. 

" Theodore ! " said Rosette. 

Theodore raised his finger and laid it on his lips, so that he 
looked like a statue of silence, and, showing her the sleeping 
child, conducted her into the next room. 



152 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

"Theodore," resumed Rosette, who seemed to find singular 
pleasure in repeating the name, and to be seeking at the same 
time to collect her ideas. " Theodore," she continued, without 
releasing the hand which the young man had offered to her to 
lead her to an easy-chair, " so you have at last come back to us ? 
What have you been doing all this time? where have you 
been? Do you know that I have not seen you for six months? 
Ah ! Theodore, that is not well ; some consideration and some 
pity is due to those who love us, even though we do not love 
them." 

THEODORE "What have I been doing? I do not know. 
I have come and gone, slept and waked, wept and sung, I 
have been hungry and thirsty, too hot and too cold, I have 
been weary, I have less money, and am six months older, I 
have been living and that is all. And you, what have you 
been doing?" 

ROSETTE " I have been loving you." 

THEODORE " You have done nothing else ? " 

ROSETTE " Absolutely nothing else. I have been employ 
ing my time badly, have I not ? " 

THEODORE " You might have employed it better, my poor 
Rosette ; for instance, in loving some one who could return 
your love." 

ROSETTE "I am disinterested in love, as I am in every- 
thing. I do not lend love on usury ; I give it as a pure gift." 

THEODORE " That is a very rare virtue, and one which can 
only spring up in a chosen soul. I have often wished to be 
able to love you, at least in the way that you would like ; but 
there is an insurmountable obstacle between us which I cannot 
explain to you. Have you had another lover since I left 
you?" 

ROSETTE " I have had one whom I have still." 

THEODORE "What sort of man is he?" 

ROSETTE " A poet." 

THEODORF " The devil ! what kind of poet, and what has 
he written ? " 

ROSETTE " I do not quite know ; a sort of volume that 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 153 

nobody is acquainted with, and that I tried to read one 
evening." 

THEODORE " So you have an unknown poet for your 
lover. That must be curious. Has he holes at his elbows, 
dirty linen, and stockings like the screw of a press ?" 

ROSETTE " No ; he dresses pretty well, washes his hands, 
and has no inkspots on the tip of his nose. He is a friend of 

C 's ; I met him at Madame de The"mines's house ; you 

know a big woman who acts the child and puts on little 
innocent airs." 

THEODORE " Arid might one know the name of this glorious 
personage ? " 

ROSETTE " Oh, dear, yes ! He is called the Chevalier 
d'Albert." 

THEODORE " The Chevalier d'Albert ! It seems to me that 
he is the young man who was on the balcony when I was dis- 
mounting." 

ROSETTE " Exactly." 

THEODORE "And who looked at me with such attention." 

ROSETTE " Himself." 

THEODORE " He is well enough. And he has not caused 
me to be forgotten ? " 

ROSETTE "No. You are unfortunately not one of those 
who can be forgotten." 

THEODORE " He is very fond of you, no doubt ? '" 

ROSETTE "I am not quite sure. There are time:; when 
you would think that he loved me very much ; but in reality he 
does not love me, and he is not far from hating me, for he bears 
me ill-will because of his inability to love me. He has acted 
like many others more experienced than he ; he mistook a keen 
liking for passion, and was quite surprised and disappointed 
when his desire was satisfied. It is a mistake to think that 
people must continue worshipping each other after they have 
become thoroughly satiated." 

THEODORE " And what do you intend to do with this said 
lover, who is not in love ?" 

ROSETTE" What is done with the old quarters of the moon, 

K 



154 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

or with last year's fashions. He is not strong enough to leave 
me the first, and, although he does not love me in the true 
sense of the word, he is attached to me by a habit of pleasure; 
and such habits are the most difficult to break. If I do not 
assist him he is capable of wearying himself conscientiously 
with me until the day of the last judgment, and even beyond 
it ; for he has the germ of every noble quality in him ; and the 
flowers of his soul seek only to blossom in the sunshine of ever- 
lasting love. Really, I am sorry that I was not the ray for 
him. Of all my lovers that I did not love, I love him the 
most ; and if 1 were not so good as I am I should not give 
him back his liberty, and should keep him still I shall not 
do so; I am at this moment finishing with him." 

THEODORE " How long will that last?" 

ROSETTE "A fortnight or three weeks, but certainly a shorter 
time than it would have lasted had you not come. I know 
that I shall never be your mistress. For this, you say, there is 
a secret reason to which I would submit if you were permitted 
to reveal it to me. All hope must therefore be forbidden 
me in this respect, and yet I cannot make up my mind to be 
the mistress of another when you are present: it seems to me 
that it is a profanation, and that I have no longer any right to 
love you." 

THEODORE " Keep him for the love of me." 

ROSETTE " If it gives you pleasure I will do so. Ah ! if 
you could have been mine, how different would my life have 
been from what it has been ! The world has a very false idea 
of me, and I shall pass away without any one suspecting what 
I was except you, Thdodore, who alone have understood me, 
and have been cruel to me. I have never desired anyone but 
you for my lover, and I have not had you. If you had loved 
me, Theodore ! I should have been virtuous and chaste, I 
should have been worthy of you. Instead of that I shall leave 
behind me (if any one remembers me) the reputation of a gay 
woman, a sort of courtesan who differed from the one of the 
gutter only in rank and fortune. I was born with the loftiest 
ind'nations ; but nothing corrupts ake not being loved. Many 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 155 

despise me without knowing what I must have suffered in order to 
come to be what I am. Being sure that I should never belong to 
him whom I preferred above all others, I abandoned myself to 
the stream, I did not take the trouble to protect a body that 
could not be yours. As to my heart nobody has had it, or ever 
will have it. It is yours, though you have broken it ; and 
unlike most of the women who think themselves virtuous, 
provided that they have not passed from the arms of one man 
to those of another, I have always been faithful in soul and 
heart to the thought of you. 

" I have at least made some persons happy, I have sent fair 
illusions dancing round some pillows, I have innocently 
deceived more than one noble heart ; I was so wretched at 
being repulsed by you that I was always terrified at the idea of 
subjecting anyone to similar torture. That was the only motive 
for many adventures which have been attributed to a pure 
spirit of libertinism ! I ! libertinism ! O world ! If you 
knew, Theodore, how profoundly painful it is to feel that you 
have missed your life, and passed your happiness by, to see 
that everyone is mistaken concerning you and that it is 
impossible to change the opinion that people have of you, that 
your finest qualities are turned into faults, your purest essences 
into black poisons, and that what is bad in you has alone 
transpired ; to find the doors always open to your vices and 
always closed to your virtues, and to be unable to bring a single 
lily or rose to good amid so much hemlock and aconite ! you 
do not know this, Theodore." 

THEODORE " Alas ! alas ! what you say Rosette is the 
history of everyone ; the best part of us is that which remains 
within us, and which we cannot bring forth. It is so with 
poets. Their finest poem is one that they have not written ; 
they carry away more poems in their coffins than they leave in 
their libraries." 

ROSETTE " I shall carry my poem away with me. 

THEODORE " And I, mine. Who has not made one in his 
lifetime ? who is so happy or so unhappy that he has not 
composed one of his own in his head or his heart ? Execu- 



156 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

tioners perhaps have made some that are moist with the tears ol 
the tenderest sensibility; and poets perhaps have made some 
which would have been suitable for executioners, so red and 
monstrous are they." 

ROSETTE " Yes. They might put white roses on my tomb. 
I have had ten lovers but I am a virgin, and shall die one. 
Many virgins, upon whose tombs there falls a perpetual snow 
of jessamine and orange blossom, were veritable Messalinas." 

THEODORE " I know your worth, Rosette." 

ROSETTE " You are the only one in the world who has 
seen what I am ; for you have seen me under the blow of a 
very true and deep love, since it is without hope ; and one who 
has not seen a woman in love cannot tell what she is ; it is this 
that comforts me in my bitterness." 

THEODORE " And what does this young man think of you 
who, in the eyes of the world, is at present your lover ? " 

ROSETTE " A lover's thought is a deeper gulf than the Bay 
of Portugal, and it is very difficult to say what there is at bottom 
in a man ; you might fasten the sounding-lead to a cord a 
hundred thousand fathoms long, and reel it off to the end, and 
it would still run without meeting anything to stop it. Yet in 
his case I have occasionally touched the bottom at places, and the 
lead has brought back sometimes mud and sometimes beautiful 
shells, but oftenest mud with fragments of coral mingled 
together. As to his opinion of me it has greatly varied ; he 
began at first where others end, he despised me ; young 
people who possess a lively imagination are liable to do this. 
There is always a tremendous downfall in the first step that 
they take, and the passage of their chimera into reality cannot 
be accomplished without a shock. He despised me, and I 
amused him ; now he esteems me, and I weary him. 

" In the first days of our union he saw only my vulgar side, 
and I think that the certainty of meeting with no resistance 
counted for much in his determination. He appeared 
extremely eager to have an affair, and I thought at first that it 
was one of those plenitudes of heart which seek but to over- 
flow, one of those vague loves which people have in the May- 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 15; 

month of youth, and which lead them, in the absence of women, 
to encircle the trunks of trees with their arms, and kiss the 
flowers and grass in the meadows. But it was not that ; he 
was only passing through me to arrive at something else. I 
was a road for him, and not an end. Beneath the fresh 
appearance of his twenty years, beneath the first dawn of 
adolescence, he concealed profound corruption. He was 
worm-eaten at the core ; he was a fruit that contained nothing 
but ashes. In that young and vigorous body there struggled 
a soul as old as Saturn's, a soul as incurably unhappy as ever 
there existed. 

" I confess to you, Theodore, that I was frightened and was 
almost seized with giddiness as I leaned over the dark depths 
of that life. Your griefs and mine are nothing in comparison 
with his. Had I loved him more I should have killed him. 
Something that is not of this world nor in this world attracts 
him, and calls him, and will take no denial ; he cannot rest by 
night or by day; and, like a heliotrope in a cellar, he twists 
himself that he may turn towards the sun that he does not see. 
He is one of those men whose soul was not dipped com- 
pletely enough in the waters of Lethe before being united to 
his body ; from the heaven whence it comes it preserves 
recollections of eternal beauty which harass and torment it, and 
it remembers that it once hud wings, and now has only feet. If 
I were God, the angel guilty of such negligence should be 
deprived of poetry for two eternities. Instead of having to 
build a castle of brilliantly coloured cards to shelter a fair 
young fantasy for a single spring, a tower should have been 
built more lofty than the eight superposed temples of Belus. 
I was not strong enough, I appeared not to have understood 
him, I let him creep on his pinions and seek for a summit 
whence he might spring into the immensity of space. 

" He believes that I have seen nothing of all this because I 
have lent myself to all his caprices without seeming to suspect 
their aim. Being unable to cure him, I wished, and I hope 
that this will be taken into account some day before God, to 
give him at least the happiness of believing that he had been 



158 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

passionately loved. He inspired me with sufficient pity and 
interest to enable me to assume with him tones and manners 
tender enough to delude him. I played my part like a 
consummate actress ; I was sportive and melancholy, sensitive 
and voluptuous ; I feigned disquiet and jealousy ; I shed false 
tears, and called to my lips swarms of affected smiles. I 
attired this puppet of love in the richest stuffs ; I made it 
walk in the avenues of my parks ; I invited all my birds to sing 
as it passed, and all my dahlias and daturas to salute it by 
bending their heads ; I had it cross my lake on the silvery 
back of my darling swan ; I concealed myself within, and lent 
it my voice, my wit, my beauty, my youth, and gave it so 
seductive an appearance that the reality was not so good as 
my falsehood. 

" When the time comes to shiver this hollow statue I shall 
do it in such a way that he will believe all the wrong to be on 
my side, and will be spared remorse. I shall myself give the 
prick of the pin through which the air that fills this balloon will 
escape. Is this not meritorious and honourable deception? 
I have a crystal urn containing a few tears which I collected 
at the moment when they were about to fall. They are my 
jewel-box and diamonds, and I shall present them to- the angel 
who comes to take me away to God." 

THEODORE " They are the most beautiful that could shine 
on a woman's neck. The ornaments of a queen have less 
value. For my part I think that the liquid poured by Magdalene 
upon the feet of Christ was made up of the former tears of 
those whom she had comforted, and I think, too, that it is with 
such tears as these that the Milky Way is strewn, and not, as 
was pretended, with Juno's milk. Who will do for you what 
you have done for him ? " 

ROSETTE " No one, alas ! since you cannot." 

THEODORE "Ah ! dear soul ! to think that I cannot ! But do 
not lose hope. You are still beautiful, and very young. You have 
many avenues of flowering limes and acacias to traverse before 
you reach the damp road bordered with box and leafless trees, 
which leads from the porphyry tomb where your beautiful dead 



MADEMOISELLE UE MAUPIN. 159 

years will be buried, to the tomb of rough and moss-covered 
stone into which they will hastily thrust the remains of what 
was once you, and the wrinkled, tottering spectres of the days 
of your old age. Much of the mountain of life is still left for 
you to climb, and it will be long ere you come to the zone of 
snow. You have only arrived at the region of aromatic plants, 
of limpid cascades wherein the iris hangs her tri-coloured arch, of 
beautiful green oaks and scented larches. Mount a little higher, 
and from there, on the wider horizon which will be displayed at 
your feet, you shall perhaps see the bluish smoke rising from the 
roof where sleeps the man who is to love you. Life must not 
be despaired of at the very beginning ; vistas of what we had 
ceased to look for are opened up thus in our destiny. 

" Man in his life has often reminded me of a pilgrim following 
the snail-like staircase in a Gothic tower. The long granite ser- 
pent winds its coils in the darkness, each scale being a step. 
After a few circumvolutions the little light that came from the 
door is extinguished. The shadow of the houses that are not 
passed as yet, prevents the air-holes from letting in the sun. 
The walls are black and oozy ; it is more like going down into 
a dungeon never to come forth again than ascending to the turret 
which from below appeared to you so slender and fine, ana 
covered with laces and embroideries as though it were setting 
out for a ball. 

"You hesitate as to whether you ought to go higher, this 
damp darkness weighs so heavily on your brow. The staircase 
makes some further turns and more frequent lutherns cut out 
their golden trefoils on the opposite wall. You begin to see the 
indented gables of the houses, the sculptures in the entablatures, 
and the whimsical shapes of the chimneys ; a few steps more 
and the eye looks down upon the entire town ; it is a forest of 
spires, steeples and towers which bristle up in every direction, 
indented, slashed, hollowed, punched and allowing the light to 
appear through their thousand cuttings. The domes and cupolas 
are rounded like the breasts of some giantess or the skulls 
of Titans. The islets of houses and palaces stand out in shaded 
or luminous slices. A few steps more and you will be on the 



160 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

platform ; and then, beyond the town walls, you will see the ver- 
dant cultivation, the blue hills and the white sails on the clouded 
ribbon of the river. 

" You are flooded with dazzling light, and the swallows pass 
and repass near you, uttering little joyous cries. The distant 
sound of the city reaches you like a friendly murmur, or the 
buzzing of a hive of bees ; all the bells strip their necklaces 
of sonorous pearls in the air ; the winds waft to you the scents 
from the neighbouring forest and from the mountain flowers ; 
there is nothing but light, harmony and perfume. If your feet had 
become weary, or if you had been seized with discouragement 
and had remained seated on a lower step, or if you had gone 
down again altogether, this sight would have been lost to you. 

" Sometimes, however, the tower has only a single opening 
in the middle or above. The tower of your life is constructed 
in this way ; then there is need of more obstinate courage, of 
perseverance armed with nails that are more hooked, so as to 
cling in the shadow to the projections of the stones and reach 
the resplendent trefoil through which the sight may escape over 
the country ; or perhaps the loop-holes have been filled up, or 
the making of them has been forgotten, and then it is necessary 
to ascend to the summit ; but the higher you mount without 
seeing, the more immense seems the horizon, and the greater is 
the pleasure and the surprise." 

ROSETTE " O Theodore, God grant that I may soon come 
to the place where the window is ! I have been following the 
spiral for a long time through the profoundest night ; but I am 
afraid that the opening has been built up and that I must climb 
to the summit; and what if this staircase with its countless 
steps were only to lead to a walled-up door or a vault of 
freestone ? " 

THEODORE "Do not say that, Rosette; do not think it. 
What architect would construct a staircase that should lead to 
nothing]? Why suppose the gentle architect of the world more 
stupid and improvident than an ordinary architect ? God does 
not mistake, and He forgets nothing. It is incredible that He 
should amuse Himself by shutting you up in a long stone tube 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 161 

without outlet or opening, in order to play you a trick. Why do 
you think that He should grudge poor ants such as we are their 
wretched happiness of a minute, and the imperceptible grain of 
millet that falls to them in this broad creation ? To do that He 
should have the ferocity of a tiger or a judge ; and, if we were 
so displeasing to Him, He would only have to tell a comet to 
turn a little from its path and strangle us with a hair of its tail. 
Why the deuce do you think that God would divert Himself by 
threading us one by one on a golden pin, as the Emperor 
Domitian used to treat flies ? God is not a portress, nor a 
churchwarden, and although He is old He has not yet fallen 
into childishness. All such petty viciousness is beneath Him, 
and He is not silly enough to try to be witty with us and play 
pranks with us. Courage, Rosette, courage ! If you are out of 
breath, stop a little to recover it, and then continue your ascent : 
you have, perhaps, only twenty steps to climb in order to reach 
the embrasure whence you will see your happiness." 

ROSETTE " Never ! oh, never ! and if I come to the sum- 
mit of the tower, it will be only to cast myself from it." 

THEODORE " Drive away, poor afflicted one, these gloomy 
thoughts which hover like bats about you, and shed the opaque 
shadow of their wings upon your brow. If you wish me to love 
you, be happy, and do not weep." (He draws her gently to 
him and kisses her on the eyes). 

ROSETTE "What a misfortune it is to me to have known 
you ! and yet, were it to be done over again, I should still wish 
to have known you. Your severity has been sweeter to me than 
the passion of others; and, although you have caused me much 
suffering, all the pleasure that I have had has come to me from 
you ; through you I have had a glimpse of what I might have 
been. You have been a lightning-flash in my night, and you 
have lit up many of the dark places of my soul ; you have 
opened up vistas in my life that are quite new. To you I owe the 
knowledge of love, unhappy love, it is true ; but there is a deep 
and melancholy charm in loving without being loved, and it is 
good to remember those who forget us. It is a happiness to be 
able to love even when you are the only one who loves, and 



1 62 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

many die without having experienced it, and often the most to 
be pitied are not those who love." 

THEODORE " They suffer txrtd feel their wounds, but at least 
they live. They hold to something ; they have a star around 
which they gravitate, a pole to which they eagerly tend. They 
have something to wish for ; they can say to themselves : ' If I 
arrive there, if I have that, I shall be happy.' They have 
frightful agonies, but when dying they can at least say to 
themselves : { I die for him.' To die thus is to be born again. 
The really, the only irreparably unhappy ones are those whose 
foolish embrace takes in the entire universe, those who wish 
for everything and wish for nothing, and who, if angel or fairy 
were to descend and say suddenly to them : ' Wish for some- 
thing and you shall have it,' would be embarrassed and mute." 
ROSETTE " If the fairy came, I know what I should ask her." 
THEODORE " You do, Rosette, and in that respect you are 
more fortunate than I, for I do not. Vague desires stir within 
me which blend together, and give birth to others which after- 
wards devour them. My desires are a cloud of birds whirling 
and hovering aimlessly ; your desire is an eagle who has his 
eyes on the sun, and who is prevented by the lack of air from 
rising on his outstretched wings. Ah ! if I could know what I 
want ; if the idea which pursues me would extricate itself clear 
and precise from the fog that envelops it ; if the fortunate or 
fatal star would appear in the depths of my sky ; if the light 
which I am to follow, whether perfidious will-o'-the-wisp or 
hospitable beacon, would come and be radiant in the night ; 
if my pillar of fire would go before me, even though it were 
across a desert without manna and without springs ; if I knew 
whither I am going, though I were only to come to a precipice ! 
I would rather have the mad riding of accursed huntsmen 
through quagmires and thickets than this absurd and monotonous 
movement of the feet. To live in this way is to follow a calling 
like that of those horses which turn the wheel of some well with 
bandaged eyes, and travel thousands of leagues without seeing 
anything or changing their situation. I have been turning for a 
long time, and the bucket should have quite come up.' 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. ,63 

ROSETTE "You have many points of resemblance with 
D'Albert, and when you speak it seems to me sometimes as 
though he were the speaker. I have no doubt that when you 
are further acquainted with him you will become much attached 
to him ; you cannot fail to suit each other. He is harassed as 
you are by these aimless flights ; he loves immensely without 
knowing what, he would ascend to heaven, for the earth appears 
to him a stool scarcely good enough for one of his feet, and he 
has more pride than Lucifer had before his fall." 

THEODORE " I was at first afraid that he was one of those 
numerous poets who have driven poetry from the earth, one of 
those stringers of sham pearls who can see nothing in the world 
but the last syllables of words, and who when they have rhymed 
glade with shade, flame with name, and God with trod, conscien- 
tiously cross their legs and arms and suffer the spheres to com- 
plete their revolution." 

ROSETTE " He is not one of those. His verses are inferior 
to him and do not contain him. What he has written would 
give you a very false idea of his own person ; his true poem is 
himself, and I do not know whether he will ever compose 
another. In the recesses of his soul he has a seraglio of beauti- 
ful ideas which he surrounds with a triple wall, and of which he 
is more jealous than was ever sultan of his odalisques. He 
only puts those into his verses which he does not care about or 
which have repulsed him ; it is the door through which he drives 
them away, and the world has only those which he will keep no 
longer." 

THEODORE " I can understand this jealousy and shame. 
In the same way many people do not acknowledge the love they 
had until they have it no longer, nor their mistresses until they 
are dead." 

ROSETTE " It is so difficult to alone possess a thing in this 
world! every torch attracts so many butterflies, and every treasure 
so many thieves ! I like those silent ones who carry their idea 
into their grave, and will not surrender it to the foul kisses and 
shameless touches of the crowd. I am delighted with the lovers 
who do not write their mistress's name on any bark, nor confide 



.64 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 



it to any echo, and who, when sleeping, are pursued by the dread 
lest they should utter it in a dream. I am one of the number ; 
I have never spoken my thought, and none shall know my love 
but see, it is nearly eleven o'clock, my dear Theodore, and I 
am preventing you from taking the rest that you must need. 
When I am obliged to leave you, I always feel a heaviness of 
heart, and it seems to me the last time that I shall see you. I 
delay the parting as much as possible ; but one must part at 
last. Well, good-bye, for I am afraid that D' Albert will be look- 
ing for me ; dear friend, good-bye." 

Theodore put his arm about her waist, and led her thus to 
the door ; there he stopped following her for a long time with 
his gaze ; the corridor was pierced at wide intervals with little 
narrow-paned windows, which were lit up by the moon, and 
made a very fantastic alternation of light and shade. At each 
window Rosette's white, pure form shone like a silver phantom ; 
then it would vanish to reappear with greater brilliance a little 
further off; at last it disappeared altogether. 

Theodore, seemingly lost in deep thought, remained motion- 
less for a few minutes with folded arms ; then he passed his 
hand over his forehead and threw back his hair with a movement 
of his head, re-entered the room, and went to bed after kissing 
the brow of the page who was still asleep. 




VII. 




S soon as it was light at Rosette's, D'Albert had 
himself announced with a promptness that was 
not usual with him. 

" Here you are," said Rosette, " and I should 
say you early, if you could ever come early. And so, to reward 
you for your gallantry, I grant you my hand to kiss." 

And from beneath the lace-trimmed sheet of Flanders linen, 
she drew the prettiest little hand that was ever seen at the end 
of a round, plump arm. 

D'Albert kissed it with compunction. 

" And the other one, its little sister, are we not to kiss it as 
well ? " 

" Oh, dear, yes ! nothing more feasible. I am in my Sunday 
humour to-day; here." And, bringing her other hand out of the 
bed, she tapped him lightly on the mouth. " Am I not the most 
accommodating woman in the world ? " 

" You are grace itself, and should have white marble temples 
raised to you in myrtle groves. Indeed I am much afraid that 
there will happen to you what happened to Psyche, and that 
Venus will become jealous of you," said D'Albert joining both 
the hands of the fair one and carrying them together to his lips. 

" How you deliver all that in a breath ! One would say that 
it was a phrase you had learnt by heart," said Rosette with a 
delicious little pout. 

"Not at all : you are quite worthy of having a phrase turned 
expressly for you, and you are made to pluck the virginity ot 
madrigals," retorted D'Albert. 

" Oh, indeed ! really what makes you so lively to day? Are 



i66 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

you ill that you are so polite ? I fear that you will die. Do 
you know that it is a bad sign when anyone changes his character 
all at once with no apparent reason ? Now, it is an established 
fact, in the eyes of all the women who have taken the trouble 
to love you, that you are usually as cross as you can be, and it 
is no less certain that at this moment you are as charming as 
one can be, and are displaying most inexplicable amiability. 
There. I do think that you are looking pale, my poor D'Albert ; 
give me your arm, that I may feel your pulse." And she drew 
up hi? sleeve and counted the beats with comical gravity. " No, 
you are as well as possible, without the slightest symptom of 
fever. Then I must be furiously pretty this morning ! Just get 
me my mirror, and let me see how far your gallantry is right or 
wrong." 

D'Albert took up a little mirror that was on the toilet-table 
and laid it on the bed. 

" In point of fact," said Rosette, " you are not altogether 
wrong. Why do you not make a sonnet on my eyes, sir poet ? 
You have no reason for not doing so. Just see how unfortunate 
1 am ! to have eyes like that and a poet like this, and yet to be in 
want of sonnets, as though I were one-eyed with a water-carrier 
for my lover ! You do not love me, sir ; you have not even 
written me an acrostic sonnet. And what do you think of my 
mouth ? Yet I have kissed you with that mouth, and shall, 
perhaps, do so again, my handsome gloomy one ; and, indeed, 
it is a favour that you scarcely deserve (this is not meant 
for to-day, for you deserve everything); but not to be 
always talking about myself, you have unparalleled beauty and 
freshness this morning, you look like a brother of Aurora ; and 
although it is scarcely light you are already dressed and got 
up as though you were going to a ball. Perchance you have 
designs upon me ? would you deal a treacherous blow at my 
virtue ? do you wish to make a conquest of me ? But I forgot 
that that was done already, and is now ancient history." 

" Rosette, do not jest in that way ; you know very well that 
1 love you." 

11 Why, that depends. I don't know it very well ; and you ?'* 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 167 

" Perfectly ; and so true is it that if you were so kind as to 
forbid your door to everybody, I should endeavour to prove it 
to you, and, I venture to flatter myself, in a victorious fashion." 

" As for that, no ; however much I may wish to be 
convinced, my door shall remain open ; I am too pretty to have 
closed doors ; the sun shines for everybody, and my beauty 
shall be like the sun to-day, if you have no objection." 

" But I have, on my honour j however, act as though I 
thought it excellent. I am your very humble slave, and I lay 
my wishes at your feet." 

" That is quite right ; continue to have sentiments of the kind, 
and leave the key in your door this evening." 

" The Chevalier The'odore de Sdrannes," said a big negro's 
head, smiling and chubby-faced, appearing between the leaves 
of the folding-door, "wishes to pay his respects to you and 
entreats you to condescend to receive him." 

"Ask the chevalier to come in," said Rosette drawing up 
the sheet to her chin. 

The'odore first went up to Rosette's bed and made her a most 
profound and graceful bow, to which she returned a friendly 
nod, and then turned towards D'Albert, and saluted him also 
with a free and courteous air. 

" Where were you ?" said The'odore. " I have perhaps inter- 
rupted an interesting conversation. Pray continue, and acquaint 
me with the subject of it in a few words." 

"Oh, no!" replied Rosette with a mischevious smile; "we 
were talking of business." 

The'odore sat down at the foot of Rosette's bed, for D'Albert 
had placed himself beside the pillow, as being the first arrival ; 
the conversation wandered for some time from subject to sub- 
ject, and was very witty, very gay and very lively, which is the 
reason why we shall not give any account of it ; we should be 
afraid that it would lose too much if transcribed. Mien, accent, 
fire in speech and gesture, the thousand ways of pronouncing a 
word, all the spirit of it, like the foam of champagne which 
sparkles and evaporates immediately, are things that it is im- 
possible to fix and reproduce. It is a lacuna which we leave to 



168 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

be filled up by the reader, and with which he will assuredly deal 
better than we ; let him here imagine five or six pages filled 
with everything of the most delicate, most capricious, most cur- 
iously fantastical, most elegant and most glittering description. 

We are aware that we are here employing an artifice which 
tends to recall that of Timanthes who, despairing of his ability 
to adequately represent Agamemnon's face, threw a drapery 
over his head ; but we would rather be timid than imprudent 

It might perhaps be to the purpose to inquire into the motives 
which had prompted D'Albert to get up so early in the morning, 
and the incentive which had induced him to visit Rosette as 
early as if he had been still in love with her. It looked as 
though it were a slight impulse of secret and unacknowledged 
jealousy. He was certainly not much attached to Rosette, and 
he would even have been very glad to get rid of her, but he 
wished at least to give her up himself and not to be given up 
by her, a thing which never fails to wound a man's pride deeply, 
however well extinguished his first flame may otherwise be. 

Theodore was such a handsome cavalier that it was difficult 
to see him appearing in a connection without being appre- 
hensive of what had, in fact, often happened already, apprehen- 
sive, that is, lest all eyes should be turned upon him and all 
hearts follow the eyes ; and it was a singular thing that, although 
he had carried off many women, no lover had ever maintained 
towards him the lasting resentment which is usually entertained 
towards those who have supplanted you. In all his ways there 
was such a conquering charm, such natural grace, and some- 
thing so sweet and proud, that even men were sensible of it 
D'Albert, who had come to see Rosette with the intention of 
speaking to Theodore with tartness, should he meet him there, 
was quite surprised to find himself free from the slightest impulse 
of anger in his presence, and so ready to receive the advance* 
that were made to him. 

At the end of half-an-hour you would have thought them 
friends from childhood, and yet D'Albert had an intimate con- 
viction that if Rosette was ever to love, it would be this man, and 
he had every reason to be jealous at least for the future, for as 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 169 

to the present, he had as yet no suspicion ; what would it have 
been had he seen the fair one in a white dressing-gown gliding 
like a moth on a moon-ray into the handsome youth's room, 
and not coming out until three or four hours afterwards with 
mysterious precautions ? He might truly have thought him- 
self more unfortunate than he was, for one of the things that we 
scarcely ever see is a pretty, amorous woman coming out of the 
chamber of an equally pretty cavalier exactly as she went in. 

Rosette listened to Theodore with great attention, and in the 
way that people listen to someone whom they love ; but what 
he said was so amusing and varied, that this attention seemed 
only natural and was easy of explanation. Accordingly D'Albert 
did not take umbrage at it. Theodore's manner towards 
Rosette was polished and friendly, but nothing more. 

" What shall we do to-day, Theodore ? " said Rosette ; 
" suppose we take a sail ? what do you think ? or we might 
go hunting ? " 

" Let us go hunting, it is less melancholy than gliding over 
the water side by side with some languid swan, and bending the 
leaves of the water-lilies right and left, is that not your opinion, 
D'Albert ? " 

" I might perhaps prefer to flow along in the boat with 1:he 
current of the stream to galloping desperately in puisuit of a 
poor beast ; but I will go where you go. We have now only to 
let Madame Rosette get up, and assume a suitable costume." 

Rosette gave a sign of assent, and rang to have herself 
dressed. The two young men went off arm-in-aim, and it 
was easy to guess, seeing them so friendly together, that one 
was the formal lover and the other the beloved lover of the 
same person. 

Everyone was soon ready. D'Albert and The'odore were 
already mounted in the first court when Rosette appeared in 
a riding-habit, on the top of the flight of steps. She had a 
little sprightly and easy air in this costume which became her 
very well. She leaped upon the saddle with her usual agility, 
and gave a switch to her horse which started off like an arrow, 
D'Albert struck in both his spurs and soon rejoined her, 

L 



170 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

Theodore allowed them to get some way ahead, being sure 
of catching them up as soon as he wished to do so. He 
seemed to be waiting for something, and often looked round 
towards the mansion. 

" Theodore, Theodore, come on ! are you riding a wooden 
horse ?" cried Rosette. 

Theodore gave his animal a gallop, and diminished the 
distance separating him from Rosette, without, however, causing 
it to disappear. 

He again looked towards the mansion of which they were 
beginning to lose sight ; a little whirlwind of dust, in which some- 
thing that could not yet be discerned was in very hasty motion, 
appeared at the end of the road. In a few moments it was at 
Theodore's side, and opening up, like the classic clouds in the 
Iliad, displayed the fresh and rosy face of the mysterious page. 

" Theodore, corne along ! " cried Rosette a second time, 
" give your tortoise the spur and come up beside us." 

The'odore gave the rein to his horse which was pawing and 
rearing with impatience, and in a few seconds he was several 
heads in advance of D'Albert and Rosette. 

" Whoever loves me will follow me," said Theodore, leaping 
a fence four feet high. " Well, sir poet," he said, when he was 
on the other side, "you do not jump? Yet your mount has 
wings, so people say." 

" Faith ! I would rather go round ; I have only one head to 
break after all ; if I had several I should try," replied D'Albevt, 
smiling. 

"Nobody loves me then, since nobody follows me," said 
Theodore drawing down the arched corners of his mouth even 
more than usual. The little page raised his large blue eyes 
towards him with a look of reproach, and brought his heels 
against his horse's sides. 

The horse gave a prodigious bound. 

"Yes ! somebody," he said to him on the other side of the 
fence. 

Rosette cast a singular look upon the child and blushed up 
to her eyes; then, giving a furious stroke with her whip on the 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 171 

neck of her mare, she crossed the bar of apple-green wood which 
fenced the avenue. 

"And I, Theodore, do you think that I do not love you?" 

The child cast a sly side-glance at her, and drew close to 
The'odore. 

D' Albert was already in the middle of the avenue, and saw 
nothing of all this ; for, from time immemorial, fathers, hus- 
bands, and levers have been possessed of the privilege of seeing 
nothing. 

" Isnabel," said Theodore, " you are mad, and so are you 
Rosette ! Isnabel, you did not take sufficient room for the 
leap, and you, Rosette, nearly caught your dress in the posts. 
You might have killed yourself." 

" What matter ?" replied Rosette with an accent so sad and 
melancholy, that Isnabel forgave her for having leaped the 
fence as well. 

They went on for some time and reached the cross-roads 
where they were to find huntsmen and pack. Six arches cut in 
the tbickness of the forest led to a little stone tower with six 
side*, on each of which was engraved the name of the road that 
terminated there. The trees rose to such a height that it seemed 
as if they wished to card the fleecy, flaky clouds sailing over 
'heir heads before a somewhat strong breeze; close, high grass 
and impenetrable bushes afforded retreats and fortresses to the 
game, and the hunt promised to be a success. It was a genuine 
old-world forest, with ancient oaks more than a century old, 
such as are to be seen no longer now that we plani no more 
trees, and have not patience enough to wait until those that are 
planted have grown up ; a hereditary forest planted by great- 
grandfathers for the fathers, and by the fathers for the grand- 
sons, with avenues of prodigious breadth, an obelisk surmounted 
by a ball, a rock-work fountain, the indispensable pond, and 
white-powdered keepers in yellow leather breeches and sky-blue 
coats ; one of those dark, bushy forests wherein stand out in 
admirable relief the white satiny cruppers of the great horses of 
Wouvermans, and the broad flags on the Dampierre horns, which 
Parrocelli loves to display radiant on the huntsmen's backs. 



172 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

A multitude of dog's tails, like pruning knives or hedge-bills 
were curled friskily in a dusty cloud. The signal was given, the 
dogs, which were straining hard enough at the leash to strangle 
themselves were uncoupled, and the hunt began. We shall not 
describe very minutely the turnings and windings of the stae 
through the forest; we do not even know with exactitude whether 
it was a full grown stag, and in spite of all our researches we 
have not been able to ascertain, which is really distressing. 
Nevertheless we think that only full grown stags could have 
been found in such a forest, so ancient, so shady, and so lordly, 
and we see no reason why the animal after which the four 
principal characters of this illustrious romance were galloping 
on horses of different colours and non passibus aequis, should 
not have been one. 

The stag ran like the true stag that he was, and the fifty dogs 
at his heels were no ordinary spur to his natural swiftness. The 
run was so quick that only a few rare bays were to be heard. 

Theodore, being the best mounted and the best horseman, 
followed hard on the pack with incredible eagerness. D' Albert 
was close behind him. Rosette and the little page Isnabel 
came after, separated by an interval which was increasing every 
minute. 

The interval was soon so great as to take away all hope of 
restoring an equilibrium. 

"Suppose we stop for a little," said Rosette, to give om 
horses breath ? The hunt is going in the direction of the 
pond, and I know a cross-road which will take us there as soon 
as they." 

Isnabel drew the bridle of his little mountain horse which, 
shaking the hanging locks of his mane over his eyes, bent his 
head, and began to scrape the sand with his hoofs. 

This little horse formed the most perfect contrast with 
Rosette's : he was as black as night, the other as white as satin j 
he was quite shaggy and dishevelled, the other had its mane 
plaited with blue, and its tail curled and crisped. The second 
looked like a unicorn, and the first like a barbet. 

The same antithetical difference was to be remarked in the 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 173 

masters as in the steeds. Rosette's hair was as dark as 
Isnabel's was fair ; her eyebrows were very neatly traced and in 
a very apparent manner ; the page's were scarcely more vigorous 
than his skin and resembled the down on a peach. The 
colour of the one was brilliant and strong like the light of noon; 
the complexion of the other had the transparencies and blush- 
ings of the dawn of day. 

" Suppose we try to catch up the hunt now ?" said Isnabel 
to Rosette ; " the horses have had time to take breath." 

"Come along!" replied the pretty amazon, and they started 
off at a gallop down a rather narrow, transverse avenue which 
led to the pond ; the two animals were abreast and took up 
nearly the whole breadth. 

On Isnabel's side a great branch projected like an arm 
from a twisted and knotted tree, which seemed to be shaking 
its fist at the riders. The child did not see it. 

" Take care ! " cried Rosette, " bend down on your saddle ! 
you will be unhorsed ! " 

The warning had been given tco ate ; the branch struck 
Isnabel in the middle of the body. The violence of the blow 
made him lose his stirrups, and, as his horse continued to gallop 
and the branch was too strong to bend, he found himself lifted 
out of the saddle and fell heavily behind. 

The child lay senseless from the blow. Rosette, greatly 
frightened, threw herself from her horse, and hastened to the 
page who showed no signs of life. 

His cap had fallen off, and his beautiful fair hair streamed 
on all sides in disorder en -:he sand. His little open hands 
looked like hands of wax, so pale were they. Rosette knelt 
down beside him and tried to restore him. She had neither 
salts nor flask about her, and her perplexity was great. At 
last she noticed a tolerably deep rut in which the rain-water 
had collected and become clear ; she dipped her finger into it, 
to the great terror of a little frog who was the naiad of this sea, 
and shook a few drops upon the bluish temples of the young 
page. He did not appear to feel them, and the water-pearls 
rolled along his white cheeks like a sylphid's tears along the 



174 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

leaf of a lily. Rosette, thinking that his clothes might distress 
him, unfastened his belt, undid the buttons of his tightly-fitting 
coat and opened his shirt that his breast might have freer 
play. 

Rosette there saw something which to a man would have 
been one of the most agreeable surprises in the world, but 
which seemed to be very far from giving her pleasure for her 
eyebrows drew close together, and her upper lip trembled 
slightly namely, a very white bosom, scarcely formed as yet, 
but which gave admirable promise, and was already fulfilling 
much of it ; a round, polished ivory bosom, to speak like the 
Ronsardizers delicious to see, and more delicious to kiss. 

" A woman ! " she said, "a woman ! ah ! Theodore ! " 

Isnabel for we shall continue to give him this name, although 
it was not his began to breathe a little, and languidly raised 
his long eyelashes ; he had not been wounded in any way, but 
only stunned. He soon sat up, and with Rosette's assistance 
was able to stand up on his feet and remount his horse, which 
had stopped as soon as he had felt that his rider was gone. 

They proceeded at a slow pace as far as the pond, where 
they did in fact meet again with the rest of the hunt. Roseate, 
in a few words, related to Theodore what had taken place. 
The latter changed colour several times during Rosette's 
narration, and kept his horse beside Isnabel's for the re- 
mainder of the way. 

They came back very early to the mansion ; the day which 
had commenced so joyously ended rather sadly. 

Rosette was pensive, and D'Albett seemed also to be 
plunged in deep thought The reader will soon know what 
had occasioned this. 



VIII. 




O, my dear Silvio, no, I have not forgotten you ; 1 
am not one of those who pass through life without 
ever throwing a look behind ; my past follows me 
and invades my present, and almost my future ; 
your friendship is one of the sun-lit spots which stand out most 
clearly on the horizon quite blue as it already is of my later 
years ; often do I turn to contemplate it, from the summit I 
have reached, with a feeling of unspeakable melancholy. 

" Oh ! what a glorious time was that, when we were pure as 
angels ! Our feet scarcely touched the ground ; we had as it 
were wings upon our shoulders, our desires swept us away, and 
in the breeze of springtime there trembled about our brows the 
golden glory of adolescence. 

" Do you remember the little island planted with poplars at 
that part where the river branches off? To reach it, it was 
necessary to cross a somewhat long and very narrow plank which 
used to bend strangely in the middle ; a real bridge for goats, 
and one, indeed, which was scarcely used but by them : it was 
delicious. Short thick grass wherein the forget-me-not blink- 
ingly opened its pretty little blue eyes, a path as yellow as 
nankeen which formed a girdle for the island's green robe and 
clasped its waist, while an ever moving shade of aspens and 
poplars were not the least of the delights of this paradise. 
There were great pieces of linen which the women would come 
to spread out to bleach in the dew ; you would have thought 
them squares of snow ; and that little girl so brown and sun- 
burnt whose large wild eyes shone with such brilliant splendour 
beneath the long locks of her hair, and who .used to run after 



1/6 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

the goats threatening them and shaking her osier rod when 
they made as though they would walk over the linens that were 
under her care do you remember her ? 

" And the sulphur-coloured butterflies with unequal and 
quivering flight, and the king-fisher which we so often tried to 
catch and which had its nest in that alder thicket ? and those 
paths down to the river, with their rudely hewn steps and their 
posts and stakes all green below, which were nearly always shut 
in by screens of plants and boughs ? How limpid and mirror- 
like was the water ! how clearly could we see the bed of golden 
gravel ! and what a pleasure it was, seated on the bank, to let the 
tips of our feet dangle in it ! The golden-flowered water-lilies 
spreading gracefully upon it looked like green hair flowing over 
the agate back of some bathing nymph. The sky looked at 
itself in this mirror with azure smiles and most exquisite trans- 
parencies of pearl-gray, and at all hours of the day there were 
turquoises, spangles, wools and moires in exhaustless variety. 
How I loved those squadrons of little ducks with the emerald 
necks which used to sail incessantly from one bank to the other 
making wrinkles across the pure glass ! 

" How well were we suited to be the figures in that land- 
scape ! how well adapted were we to that sweet calm nature, and 
how readily did we harmonise with it ! Spring without, youth 
within, sun on the grass, smiles on our lips, flakes of blossoms 
on all the bushes, fair illusions full-blown in our souls, modest 
blushes on our cheeks and on the eglantine, poetry singing in 
our heart, unseen birds warbling in the trees, light, cooings, 
perfumes, a thousand confused murmurs, the heart beating, the 
water stirring a pebble, a grass-blade or a thought upspringing, 
a drop of water flowing along a flower-cup, a tear overflowing 
along an eyelash, a sigh of love, a rustling of leaves .... 
what evenings we spent there walking slowly, and so close to 
the edge that we had often one foot in the water and the other 
on the ground ! 

" Alas ! this lasted but a short time, with me, at least, for 
you have been able, while acquiring the knowledge of the man, 
to preserve the purity of the child. The germ of corruption 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 177 

that was in me has developed very quickly, and the gangrene 
has pitilessly devoured all of me that was pure and holy. 
Nothing good is left to me but my friendship for you. 

"1 am accustomed to conceal nothing from you, neither 
actions nor thoughts. The most secret fibres of my heart I 
have laid bare before you ; however whimsical, ridiculous, and 
eccentric the impulses of my soul may be, I must describe 
them to you $ but, in truth, what I have experienced for some 
time is so strange, that I scarcely dare to acknowledge it to 
myself. I told you somewhere that I feared lest, from seeking 
the beautiful and disquieting myself to attain it, I should at last 
fall into the impossible or monstrous. I have almost come to 
this ; oh, when shall I emerge from all these currents which 
conflict together and draw me to left and right ; when will the 
deck of my vessel cease to tremble beneath my feet and be 
swept by the waves of all these storms ? where shall I find a 
harbour where I may cast anchor, and a rock immovable and 
beyond the reach of the billows where I may dry myself and 
wring the foam from my hair. 

"You know the eagerness with which I have sought for 
physical beauty, the importance that I attach to external form, 
and the love of the visible world that possesses me. I cannot 
be otherwise ; I am too corrupted and surfeited to believe in 
moral beauty, and to pursue it with any consistency. I have 
completely lost the knowledge of good and evil, and from sheer 
depravity have almost returned to the ignorance of the savage 
or the child. In truth, nothing appears to me worthy of praise 
or blame, and the strangest actions astonish me but little. My 
conscience is deaf and dumb. Adultery appears to me the most 
innocent thing in the world ; I deem it quite a simple matter 
that a young girl should prostitute herself; it seems to me that 
I would betray my friends without the least remorse, and that I 
should not have the slightest scruple about kicking people who 
annoyed me down a precipice if I were walking with them along 
the edge. I would look with coolness on the most atrocious 
sights, and there is something in the sufferings and misfortunes 
of humanity which is not displeasing to me. I experience al 



178 MADEMOISELLE t>E MAUPFN. 

the sight of some calamity falling upon the world the same 
feeling of acrid and bitter voluptuousness that is experienced by 
a man who at last avenges an old affront. 

11 world, what hast thou done to me that I should hate thee 
thus? Who has filled me so with gall against thee? what 
was I expecting from thee that I should preserve such rancour 
against thee for having deceived me ? to what lofty hope hast 
thou been false? what eaglet wings hast thou shorn? What 
doors wast thou to open which have remained closed, and which 
of us has failed in respect of the other ? 

" Nothing touches me, nothing moves me ; I no longer feel, 
on hearing the recital of heroic deeds, those sublime quiverings 
which at one time would run through me from head to foot. 
All this even appears to me to be somewhat silly. No accent 
is deep enough to bite the slackened fibres of my heart and 
cause them to vibrate : I see the tears of my fellow-creatures 
flow with as indifferent an eye as the rain, unless indeed they 
be of a fine water, and the light be reflected in them in pictur- 
esque fashion and they flow over a beautiful cheek. For 
animals, and for them almost alone, I have a feeble residue of 
pity. I would suffer a peasant or a servant to be beaten without 
mercy, and could not patiently endure to have the same treat- 
ment given in my presence to a horse or a dog ; yet I am not 
wicked I have never done, and probably shall never do, any 
harm to anybody in the world ; but this is rather a result of my 
indifference and the sovereign contempt which I have for all 
persons who do not please me, and which does not allow me to 
be occupied with them even to do them an injury. 

" I abhor the whole world in a body, and in the whole 
collection I scarcely deem one or two worthy of a special hatred. 
To hate anyone is to disquiet yourself as much about him as 
though you loved him ; to distinguish him, isolate him from the 
crowd ; to be in a violent condition on account of him ; to think 
of him by day and dream of him by night ; to bite your pillow 
and grind your teeth at the thought that he exists ; what more 
could you do for one you loved ? Would you bestow the same 
trouble and activity on pleasing a mistress as on ruining an 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 179 

enemy ? I doubt it in order to really hate anybody, we 
must love another. Every great hatred serves as a counter- 
weight to a great love : and whom could I hate, I who love 
nobody ? 

" My hate, like my love, is a confused and general feeling, 
which seeks to fasten upon something and cannot ; I have a 
treasure of hate and love within me which I cannot turn to 
account, and which weighs horribly upon me. If I can find no 
means of pouring forth one or other of them, or both, I shall 
burst, and break asunder like bags crammed too full of money 
which rupture themselves and rip their seams. Oh ! if I could 
abhor somebody, if one of the stupid people with whom I live 
could insult me in such a way as to make my old viper blood 
boil in my icy veins and rouse me from the dull somnolence 
wherein I stagnate ; if thou couldst bite me on the cheek with 
thy rat-like teeth and communicate thy venom and thy rage to 
me, old sorceress with palsied head ; if someone's death could 
be my life ; if the last heart's throb of an enemy writhing 
beneath my foot could impart delicious quiverings to my 
hair, and the odour of his blood become sweeter to my parched 
nostrils than the aroma of flowers, oh ! how readily would I 
abandon love, and how happy would I esteem myself! 

" Mortal embraces, tiger-like bitings, boa entwinings, ele- 
phant feet pressed on a cracking and flattening breast, steeled 
tail of the scorpion, milky juice of the euphorbia, curling kris of 
Java, blades that glitter in the night and are extinguished in 
blood, you it is that, with me, shall take the place of leafless 
roses, humid kisses and the entwinings of love ! 

" I have said that I love nothing ; alas ! I am now afraid 
of loving something. It were ten thousand times better 
to hate than so to love ! I have found the type of beauty that 
I dreamed of so long. I have discovered the body of my 
phantom ; I have seen it, it has spoken to me, I have touched 
its hand, it exists ; it is not a chimera. 1 well knew that I 
could not be mistaken, and that my presentiments never lied. 
Yes, Silvio, I am by the side of my life's dream ; its room is 
there and mine is here I can see the trembling of the curtain 



l8o MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

at its window and the light of its lamp. Its shadow has just 
passed across the curtain. In an hour we shall sup together. 

" The beautiful Turkish eyelashes, the deep and limpid gaze, 
the warm colour of pale amber, the long and lustrous black 
hair, the nose finely cut and proud, the joints and slender 
delicate extremities after the manner of Parmeginiano, the 
dainty curves, the purity of oval, which give so much elegance 
and aristocracy to a face, all that I wished for, and that I 
should have been happy to find disseminated in five or six 
persons, I have found united in one ! 

"What I most adore of all things in the world is a pretty 
hand. If you saw this one ! what perfection ! what vivacious 
whiteness ! what softness of skin ! what penetrating moisture ! 
how admirably tapering the extremity of the fingers ! how clear 
the oval markings on the nails ! what polish and what splendour! 
you would compare them to the inner leaves of a rose, the 
hands of Anne of Austria, so vaunted and celebrated, are in 
comparison but those of a tiirkey-herd or of a scullery- 
maid. And then what grace is there and what art in the 
slightest movements of this hand ! how gracefully does this 
little finger curve and keep itself a little apart from its tall 
brothers ! The thought of this hand maddens me, and causes 
my lips to quiver and burn. I close my eyes that I may see it 
no longer ; but with the tips of its delicate fingers it takes my 
eyelashes and opens the lids, and causes a thousand visions of 
ivory and snow to pass before me. 

" Ah ! it is Satan's claw, no doubt, that is gloved beneath this 
satin skin ; it is some jesting demon who is befooling me ; 
there is some sorcery here. It is too monstrously impossible. 

- This hand I shall set out for Italy to see the pictures of 
the great masters, to study, compare, draw, and in short be- 
come a painter that I may represent it as it is, as I see it, as 3 
feel it ; it will perhaps be a means of ridding myself of this 
species of possession. 

" I wished for beauty ; I knew not what I asked. It is to be 
desirous of looking without eyelids at the sun, to be desirous of 
touching fire. I suffer horribly. To be unable to assimilate 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 181 

this perfection, to be unable to pass into it and have it pass 
into me, to have no means of representing it and making it felt ! 
When I see something beautiful I wish to touch it with the 
whole of myself, everywhere and at the same time. I wish to 
sing it, and paint it, to sculpture it and write it, to be loved by 
it as I love it; I wish what is, and ever will be, impossible. 

" Your letter has done me harm, much harm forgive me for 
saying so. All the calm, pure happiness that you enjoy, the 
walks in the reddening woods, the long talks so tender and in- 
timate which end with a chaste kiss upon the brow ; the separ- 
ate and serene life ; the days so quickly spent that the night 
seems to advance, make me find the internal perturbations 
in which I live more tempestuous still. So you are to be 
married in two months; all the obstacles are removed, and 
you are now sure of belonging to each other for ever. Your 
present felicity is increased by all your future felicity. You are 
happy and you have the certainty of being still happier soon. 
What a lot is yours ! Your loved one is beautiful, but what you 
love in her is not lifeless and palpable beauty, material beauty, 
but the beauty that is invisible and eternal, the beauty that never 
grows old, the beauty of the soul. She is full of grace and purity; 
she loves you as such souls know how to love. You did not 
seek to know whether the gold of her hair approached in tone 
the tresses of Rubens and Giorgione ; but it pleased you because 
it was hers. And I will wager, happy lover that you are, that you 
do not even know whether your mistress's type is Greek or 
Asiatic, English or Italian. O Silvio ! how rare are the hearts 
that are satisfied with love pure and simple and desire neither 
a hermitage in the forests, nor a garden on an island in Lake 
Maggiore. 

" If I had the courage to tear myself from here, I would go 
and spend a month with you ; it might be that I should be 
purified in the air that you breathe, and that the shadows of 
your avenues would shed a little freshness on my burning 
brow ; but no, it is a paradise wherein I must not set my foot. 
Scarcely should I be permitted to gaze from a distance over the 
wall at the two beautiful angels walking in it, hand in hand and 



i82 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

eye to eye. The demon cannot enter into Eden save in the 
form of a serpent, and, dear Adam, for all the happiness in 
heaven, I would not be the serpent to your Eve. 

" What fearful work has been wrought in my soul of late ? 
who has turned my blood and changed it into venom ? 
Monstrous thought, spreading thy pale green branches and thy 
hemlock umbels in the icy shadow of my heart, what poisoned 
wind has lodged there the germ whence thou art sprung ? It 
was this then that was reserved for me, it was to this that all 
the paths, so desperately essayed, were to lead me ! O fate, 
how thou dost mock us ! All the eagle-flights towards the sun, 
the pure flames aspiring to heaven, the divine melancholy, the 
love deep and restrained, the religion of beauty, the fancy so 
curious and graceful, the exhaustless and ever-mounting flood 
from the internal spring, the ecstacy ever open-winged, the 
dreaming that bore more blossoms than the hawthorn in May, 
all the poetry of my youth, all these gifts so beautiful and rare, 
were only to succeed in placing me beneath the lowest of 
mankind ! 

" I wished to love. I went like a madman calling and in- 
voking love; I writhed with rage beneath the feeling of my 
impotence ; I fired my blood, and dragged my body to the 
sloughs of pleasure ; I clasped to suffocation against my arid 
heart a fair young woman who loved me ; I pursued the passion 
that fled from rne. I degraded myself, and acted like a virgin' 
going to an evil place in hope of finding a lover among those 
brought thither by impure motives, instead of waiting patiently 
in discreet and silent shadow until the angel reserved for me by 
God should appear to me with radiant penumbra, a flower 
from heaven ready to my hand. All the years that I have 
wasted in childish disquietude, hastening hither and thither, 
and trying to force nature and time, I ought to have spent in 
solitude and meditation, in striving to render myself worthy of 
being loved ; that would have been wisely done ; but I had 
scales before my eyes and I walked straight to the precipice. 
Already I have one foot suspended over the void, and I believe 
that I shall soon raise the other. My resistance is in vain, I 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 183 

feel it, I must roll to the bottom of the new abyss which has 
just opened up within me. 

" Yes, it was indeed thus that I had imagined love. I now 
feel that of which I had dreamed. Yes, here is the charming 
and terrible sleeplessness in which the roses are thistles and 
the thistles roses ; here is the sweet grief and the wretched 
happiness, the unspeakable trouble which surrounds you with 
a golden cloud and, like drunkenness, causes the shape of 
objects to waver before you, the buzzings in the ear wherein 
there ever rings the last syllable of the well-beloved's name, 
the paleness, the flushings, the sudden quiverings, the burning 
and icy sweat : it is indeed thus ; the poets do not lie. 

" When I am about to enter the drawing-room in which we 
usually meet, my heart beats with such violence that it might 
be seen through my dress, and I am obliged to restrain it 
with both my hands lest it should escape. If I perceive this 
form at the end of an avenue or in the park, distance is 
straightway effaced, and the road passes away I know not where : 
the devil must carry it off or I must have wings. Nothing 
can divert my attention from it : I read, and the same image 
comes between the book and my eyes ; I ride, I gallop, and I 
still believe that I can feel in the whirlwind its long hair 
mingling with mine, and hear its hurried respiration and its 
warm breath passing lightly over my cheek. This image 
possesses and pursues me everywhere, and I never see it more 
than when I see it not 

" You pitied me for not loving, pity me now for loving, and 
above all for loving whom I love. What a misfortune, what a 
hatchet-stroke upon my life that was already so mutilated ! 
what senseless, guilty, odious passion has laid hold upon me ! 
It is a shame whose blush will never fade from my brow. It is 
the most lamentable of all my aberrations, I cannot understand 
it, I cannot comprehend it at all, everything is confused and 
upset within me ; I can no longer tell who I am or what others 
are, I doubt whether I am a man or a woman, I have a horror 
of myself, I experience strange and inexplicable emotions, and 
there are moments when it seems to me as if my reason were 



i8 4 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUP1N. 



departing, and when the feeling of my existence forsakes me 
altogether. For a long time I could not believe what was ; I 
listened to myself and watched myself attentively. I strove to 
unravel the confused skein that was entangled in my soul. At 
last, through all the veils which enveloped it, I discovered the 
frightful truth. Silvio, I love Oh i no, I can never tell you 
I love a man ; " 





IX. 




)T is so. 1 love a man, Silvio. I long sought lo 
delude myself; I gave a different name to the 
feeling that I experienced ; I clothed it in the 
garment of pure and disinterested friendship ; 1 
believed that it was merely the admiration which I entertain for 
all beautiful persons and things ; for several days I walked in the 
treacherous, pleasant paths that wander about every waking 
passion ; but I now recognise the profound and terrible road 
to which I am pledged. There is no means of concealment : 
I have examined myself thoroughly, and coldly weighed all the 
circumstances; I have accounted to myself for the smallest 
detail ; I have explored my soul in every direction with the 
certainty which results from the habit of self-investigation ; I 
blush to think and write about it ; but the fact, alas ! is only too 
certain, I love this young man not from friendship but from 
love ; yes, from love. 

" You whom I have loved so much, Silvio, my good, my only 
comrade, you have never inspired me with a similar feeling, 
and yet, if ever there was under heaven a close and lively 
friendship, if ever two souls, though different, understood each 
other perfectly, it was our friendship and our two souls. What 
winged hours have we spent together ! what talks without end 
and always too soon terminated ! how many things have we said 
to each other which people have never said to themselves ! 
We had towards each other in our hearts the window which 
Momus would have liked to open in man's bosom. How proud 



186 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

I was of being your friend, I who was younger than you, I so 
insane and you so full of reason ! 

" What I feel towards this young man is truly incredible ; no 
woman has ever troubled me so singularly. The sound of his 
clear, silvery voice affects my nerves and agitates me in a 
strange manner ; my soul hangs on his lips, like a bee on a 
flower, to drink in the honey of his words. T cannot brush him 
as I pass without quivering from head to foot, and when, in the 
evening, as we are separating, he gives me his soft, satin-like, 
adorable hand, all my life rushes to the spot that he has 
touched, and an hour afterwards T still feel the pressure of his 
fingers. 

" This morning I gazed at him for a long time without his 
seeing me. I was concealed behind my curtain. He was at 
his window which is exactly opposite to mine. This part of the 
mansion was built at the end of Henri IV's reign; it is half 
brick, half ashlar, according to the custom of the time; the 
window is long and narrow, with a lintel and balcony of stone. 
Theodore for you have no doubt already guessed that it is he 
who is in question was resting his elbow on the parapet with 
a melancholy air, and appeared to be in a profound reverie. 
A drapery of red, large-flowered damask, which was half caught 
up, fell in broad folds behind him and served him as a back- 
ground. How handsome he was, and how marvellously his dark 
and pale head was set off by the purple tint ! Two great 
clusters of black, lustrous hair, like the grape-bunches of the 
ancient Erigone, hung gracefully down his cheeks, and framed 
in a most charming manner the correct delicate oval of his 
beautiful face. His round ; pltimp neck was entirely bare, and 
he had on a dressing-gown with broad sleeves which was toler- 
ably like a woman's dress. In his hand he held a yellow tulip, 
picking it pitilessly to pieces in his reverie and throwing the 
fragments to the wind. 

" One of the luminous angles traced by the sun on the wall 
chanced to be projected against the window, and the picture 
was gilded with a warm, transparent tone which would have 
made Giorgione's most brilliant canvas envious. 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 187 

" With his long hair stirred softly by the breeze, his marble 
neck thus uncovered, his ample robe clasped around his waist, 
and his beautiful hands issuing from their ruffles like the pistils 
of a flower from the midst of their petals, he looked not the 
handsomest of men but the most beautiful of women, and I 
said in my heart ' It is a woman, oh ! it is a woman !' Then I 
suddenly remembered the nonsense which, as you know, I wrote 
to you a long time ago, respecting my ideal and the manner in 
which I should assuredly meet with it : the beautiful lady in 
the Louis XIII park, the red and white mansion, the large 
terrace, the avenues of old chestnut trees, and the interview at 
the window ; I once gave you all these details. It was just so, 
what I saw was the exact realisation of my dream. It was 
just the style of architecture, the effect of light, the description 
of beauty, the colour and the character that I had desired ; 
nothing was wanting, only the lady was a man ; but I con- 
fess to you that for the moment I had completely forgotten this. 

" Theodore must be a woman disguised ; the thing is im- 
possible otherwise. Such beauty, even for a woman, is not the 
beauty of a man, were he Antinoiis, the friend of Adrian ; were 
he Alexis, the friend of Virgil. It is a woman, by heaven, and I 
was very foolish to torment myself in such a manner. In this 
way everything is explained in the most natural fashion in the 
world, and I am not such a monster as I believed. 

" Would God put those long, dark silken fringes on the 
coarse eyelids of a man ? Would he dye our ugly blobber- 
lipped and hair-bristling mouths with carmine so delicate and 
bright ? Our bones, hewn into shape as with blows of a hedge- 
bill and coarsely fitted together, are not worthy of being swaddled 
in such white and tender flesh ; our indented skulls are not made 
to be bathed in floods of such wonderful hair. 

" O beauty ! we were created only to love thee and worship 
thee on our knees, if we have found thee, and to seek thee 
eternally through the world, if this happiness has not been given 
to us ; but to possess thee, to be thyself, is possible only to 
angels and to women. Lovers, poets, painters and sculptors, we 
all seek to raise an altar to thee, the lover in his mistress, the 



t8S MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

poet in his song, the painter in his canvas, the sculptor in his 
marble ; but it is everlasting despair to be unable to give 
palpability to the beauty that you feel, and to be enshrouded 
in a body which in no way realises the body which you know 
to be yours. 

" I once saw a young man who had robbed me of the form 
that I ought to have had. The rascal was just such as I should 
have wished to be. He had the beauty of my ugliness, and 
beside him I looked like a rough sketch of him. He was of 
my height, but more slender and vigorous ; his figure resembled 
mine, but had an elegance and nobility that I do not possess. 
His eyes were riot of a different colour than my own, but they 
had a look and a brilliancy that mine will never have. His 
nose had been cast in the same mould as mine, but it seemed 
to have been retouched by the chisel of a skilful statuary; 
the nostrils were more open and more impassioned, the flat 
parts more cleanly cut, and there was something heroic in it 
which is altogether wanting to that respectable portion of my 
individuality : you would have said that nature had first tried 
in my person to make this perfected self of mine. 

"I looked like the erased and shapeless draught of the 
thought whereof he was the copy in fair, moulded writing. 
When I saw him walk, stop, salute the ladies, sit and lie down 
with the perfect grace which results from beauty of proportion, 
I was seized with sadness and frightful jealousy, such as must 
be felt by the clay model drying and splitting obscurely in a 
corner of the studio, while the haughty marble statue, which 
would not have existed without it, stands proudly on its 
sculptured socle, and attracts the attention and praises of the 
visitors. For the rogue is, after all, only my own self which has 
succeeded a little better, and been cast with less rebellious 
bronze, that has made its way more exactly into the hollows of 
the mould. I think that he has great hardihood to strut in this 
way with my form and to display as much insolence as though 
he were an original type : he is, when all is said, only a plagiar- 
ism from me, for I was born before him, and without me nature 
would fiot have conceived the idea of making him as he is. 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 185 

"When women praised his good manners and persona! 
charms, I had every inclination in the world to rise and say to 
them ' Fools that you are, just praise me directly, for this 
gentleman is myself and it is uselessly circuitous to transmit to 
him what is destined to come back to me.' At other times I 
itched horribly to strangle him and to turn his soul out of the 
body which belonged to me, and I would prowl about him with 
compressed lips and clenched fists like a lord prowling around 
his palace in which a family of ragamuffins has established it- 
self in his absence, and not knowing how to cast them out. For 
the rest, this young man is stupid, and succeeds all the better for 
it. And sometimes I envy him his stupidity more than his beauty. 

"The Gospel saying about the poor in spirit is not com- 
plete : 'They shall have the kingdom of Heaven;' I know 
nothing about that, and it is a matter of indifference to me ; 
but they most certainly have the kingdom of the earth, they 
have the money and the beautiful women, in other words the 
only two desirable things in the world. Do you know a sensible 
man who is rich, or a fellow with heart and some merit who has 
a passable mistress ? Although The'odore is very handsome, I 
nevertheless have not wished for his beauty, and I would rather 
he had it than I. 

" Those strange loves of which the elegies of the ancient 
poets are full, which surprised us so much and which we could 
not understand, are probable, therefore, and possible. In the 
translations that we used to make of them we substituted the 
names of women for those which were actually there. Juven- 
tius was made to terminate as Juventia, Alexis was changed into 
lanthe. The beautiful boys became beautiful girls, we thus 
reconstructed the monstrous seraglio of Catullus, Tibullus, 
Martial, and the gentle Virgil. It was a very gallant occupation 
which only proved how little we had comprehended the ancient 
genius. 

" I am a man of the Homeric times ; the world in which 1 
live is not mine, and I have no comprehension of the society 
which surrounds me. Christ has not come for me ; I am as 
much a pagan as were Alcibiades and Phidias. I have never 



190 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

gone to pluck passion flowers upon Golgotha, and the deep 
river which flows from the side of the Crucified One and forms 
a red girdle round the world has not bathed me in its flood. 
My rebellious body will not recognise the supremacy of the soul, 
and my flesh does not admit that it should be mortified. I 
deem the earth as fair as heaven, and I think that correctness 
of form is virtue. Spirituality does not suit me, I prefer a 
statue to a phantom, and noon to twilight. Three things 
please me : gold, marble and purple, splendour, solidity and 
colour. My dreams are composed of them, and all my chi- 
merical palaces are constructed of these materials. 

"Sometimes I have other dreams, of long cavalcades of 
perfectly white horses, without harness or bridle, ridden by 
beautiful naked youths who defile across a band of dark blue 
colour as on the friezes of the Parthenon, or of theories of young 
girls crowned with bandelets, with straight-folded tunics and 
ivory sistra, who seem to wind around an immense vase. Never 
mist or vapour, never anything uncertain or wavering. My sky 
has no clouds, or, if there be any, they are solid chisel-carved 
clouds, formed with the marble fragments fallen from the statue 
of Jupiter. Mountains with sharp-cut ridges indent it abruptly 
on the borders, and the sun, leaning on one of the loftiest sum- 
mits, opens wide his lion-yellow eye with its golden lashes. 
The grasshopper cries and sings, the corn-ear cracks; the 
shadow, vanquished and exhausted by the heat, rolls itself up 
and collects itself at the foot of the trees : everything is radiant, 
shining, resplendent. The smallest detail becomes firm and is 
boldly accentuated ; every object assumes a robust form and 
colour. There is no room for the softness and dreaming of 
Christian art. 

" Such a world is mine. The streams in my landscapes fall 
in a sculptured tide from a sculptured urn ; through the tall 
green reeds, sonorous as those of the Eurotas, may be seen 
glistening the round, silvery hip of some nymph with glaucous 
hair. Here is Diana passing through this dark oak forest with 
her quiver at her back, her flying scarf, and her buskins with 
intertwining bands. She is followed by her pack and her 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 191 

nymphs with harmonious names. My pictures are painted with 
four tints, like the pictures of the primitive painters, and often 
they are only coloured basso-relievos ; for I love to touch what 
I have seen with my finger and to pursue the roundness of 
the outlines into its most fugitive windings ; I view each thing 
from every side and go around it with a light in my hand. 

" I have looked upon love in the light of antiquity and as a 
more or less perfect piece of sculpture. How is this arm? 
Pretty well. The hands are not wanting in delicacy. What do 
you think of this foot ? I think that the ankle is without 
nobility, and that the heel is commonplace. But the breast is 
well placed and of good shape, the serpentine line is sufficiently 
undulating, the shoulders are fat and of a handsome character. 
This woman would be a passable model, and it would be 
possible to cast several portions of her. Let us love her. 

" I have always been thus. I look upon women with the 
eyes of a sculptor and not of a lover. I have all my life been 
troubled about the shape of the flagon, never about the quality 
of its contents. I might have had Pandora's box in my hand, 
and I believe that I should not have opened it. Just now I 
said that Christ had not come for me ; Mary, star of the modern 
Heaven, sweet mother of the glorious babe, has not come either. 

"For a long time and very often I have stopped beneath the 
stone foliage in cathedrals, in the trembling brightness from the 
windows, at an hour when the organ was moaning of itself, 
when an invisible finger touched the keys and the wind 
breathed in the pipes, and I have plunged my eyes deep 
into the pale azure of the long eyes of the Madonna. I have 
followed piously the wasted oval of her face, and the scarcely 
indicated arch of her eyebrows ; I have admired her smooth 
and luminous brow, her chastely transparent temples, her 
cheek-bones shaded with a sober virginal colour, tenderer than 
the blossom of the peach ; I have counted one by one the 
beautiful golden lashes casting their palpitating shadow; through 
the half-tint which bathes her I have distinguished the 
fleeting lines of her frail and modestly bended neck ; I have 
even, with rash hand, raised the folds of her tunic and con- 



192 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

templated unveiled the virgin, milk-distended bosom which was 
never pressed but by lips divine ; I have pursued its delicate 
blue veins into their most imperceptible ramifications, I have 
laid my finger upon it that I might cause the celestial drink to 
spring forth in white streams ; I have touched with my mouth 
the bud of the mystic rose. 

" Well ! I confess that all this immaterial beauty, so winged 
and vaporous that one feels that it is about to lake its flight, 
has affected me very moderately. I prefer the Venus Ana- 
dyomene a thousand times. The antique eyes turned up at 
the corners, the lips so pure and so firmly cut, so amorous and 
so inviting for a kiss, the low full brow, the hair undulating like 
the sea and knotted carelessly behind the head, the firm and 
lustrous shoulders, the back with its thousand charming curves, 
the small and gently swelling bosom, all the well-rounded 
shapes, the breadth of hips, the delicate strength, the expression 
of superhuman vigour in a body so adorably feminine, ravish 
and enchant me to a degree of which you can form no idea, you 
who are a Christian and discreet. 

" Mary, in spite of the humble air which she affects, is far too 
proud for me; scarcely does even the tip of her foot, in its 
encircling white bandelets, touch the surface of the globe which 
is already growing blue and on which the old serpent is writhing. 
Her eyes are the most beautiful in the world, but they are 
always turned towards heaven or cast down ; they never look 
you in the face and have never reflected a human form. And 
then, I do not like the nimbuses of smiling cherubs which circle 
her head in a golden vapour. I am jealous of the tall pubes- 
cent angels with floating robes and hair who are so amorously 
eager in her assumptions ; the hands entwined to support her. 
the wings in motion to fan her, displease and annoy me. These 
heavenly coxcombs, so coquettish and triumphant, with their 
tunics of light, their perukes of golden thread, and their 
handsome blue and green feathers, seem too gallant to me, 
and if I were God I should take care not to give such pages to 
my mistress. 

" Venus emerges from the sea to land upon the world 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 193 

as is fitting in a divinity that loves men quite naked and quite 
alone. She prefers the earth to Olympus, and has more men 
than gods for her lovers ; she does not enwrap herself in the 
languorous veils of mysticism ; she stands erect, her dolphin 
behind her, her foot on her conch of mother of pearl ; the sun 
strikes upon her polished body, and with her white hand she 
holds up in the air the flood of her beautiful hair on which old 
Father Ocean has strewn his most perfect pearls. You may look 
at her : she conceals nothing, for modesty was made for the 
ugly alone, and is a modern invention, daughter of the Christian 
contempt for form and mater. 

" O ancient world ! so all that thou hast revered is scorned ; 
so thy idols are overthrown in the dust ; wasted anchorites, clad 
in rags that are full of holes, and blood-covered martyrs, with 
shoulders torn by the tigers in thy circuses, have perched them- 
selves upon the pedestals of thy beautiful, charming gods : 
Christ has wrapped the world in his shroud. Beauty must blush 
at itself and assume a winding sheet. Beautiful youths with oil- 
rubbed limbs who wrestle in lyceum or gymnasium, beneath the 
brilliant sky, in the full light of the Attic sun, before the 
astonished crowd ; young Spartan girls who dance the bibasis, 
and run naked to ths summit of Taygetus, resume your tunics 
and your chlamydes : your reign is past. And you, shapers of 
marble, Prometheuses of bronze, break your chisels : there 
are to be no more sculptors. The palpable world is dead. A 
dark and lugubrious thought alone fills the immensity of the 
void. Cleomene goes to the weavers to see what folds are 
made by cloth or linen. 

" Virginity, bitter plant, born on a soil steeped with blood, 
whose etiolated and sickly flower opens painfully in the dark 
shade of cloisters, beneath a cold lustralrain ; scentless rose all 
bristling with thorns, thou hast taken the place, with us, of the 
beautiful, joyous roses bathed in spikenard and Falernisn of 
the dancing women of Sybaris ! 

"The ancient world did not know thee, fruitless flower; 
never didst thou enter into its wreaths of intoxicating fra- 
grance ; in that vigorous and healthy society thou wouldst have 



194 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

been trampled scornftilly underfoot. Vuginity, mysticism 
melancholy, three unknown words, three new maladies 
brought in by Christ. Pale spectres who flood our world with 
your icy tears and who, with your elbow on a cloud and your 
hand in your bosom, can only say ' O death ! O death ! ' you 
could not have set foot in that world so well peopled with 
indulgent and wanton gods ! 

" I consider woman, after the manner of the ancients, as a 
beautiful slave designed for our pleasure. Christianity has not 
rehabilitated her in my eyes. To me she is still something 
dissimilar and inferior that we worship and play with, a toy 
which is more intelligent than if it were of ivory or gold, and 
which gets up of itself if we let it fall. I have been told, in con- 
sequence of this, that I think badly of women ; I consider, on 
the contrary, that it is thinking very well of them. 

" I do not know, in truth, why women are so anxious to be 
regarded as men. I can understand a person wishing to be a 
boa, a lion or an elephant; but that anyone should wish to be a 
man is something quite beyond my comprehension. If I had 
been at the Council of Trent when they discussed the important 
question of whether a woman is a man, I should certainly have 
given my opinion in the negative. 

" I have written some love- verses during my lifetime, or, at 
least, some which assumed to pass for such. I have just read a 
portion of them again. They are altogether wanting in the 
sentiment of modern love. If they were written in Latin 
distichs instead of in French rhymes, they might be taken for 
the work of a bad poet of the time of Augustus. And I am 
astonished that the women, for whom they were written, were not 
seriously angry, instead of being quite charmed with them. It 
is true that women know as little about poetry as cabbages and 
roses, which is quite natural and plain, being themselves poetry, 
or, at least, the best instruments for poetry : the flute does 
not hear nor understand the air that is played upon it. 

" In these verses nothing is spoken of but golden or ebony 
hair, marvellous delicacy of skin, roundness of arm, smallness 
of foot, and shapely daintiness of hand, and the whole terrni- 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 195 

nates with a humble supplication to the divinity to grant the 
enjoyment of all these beautiful things as speedily as possible. 
In the triumphant passages there is nothing but garlands hung 
upon the threshold, torrents of flowers, burning perfumes, 
Catullian addition of kisses, sleepless and charming nights, 
quarrels with Aurora, and injunctions to the same Aurora to 
return and hide herself behind the saffron curtains of old 
Tithonus ; brightness without heat, sonorousness without vibra- 
tion. They are accurate, polished, written with consistent 
elaboration ; but through all the refinements and veils of expres- 
sion you may divine the short, stern voice of the master trying 
to be mild while speaking to the slave. There is no soul, as in 
the erotic poetry written since the Christian era, asking another 
soul to love it because it loves ; there is no azure-tinted, smiling 
lake inviting a brook to pour itself into its bosom that they 
may reflect the stars of heaven together ; there is no pair of 
doves spreading their wings at the same time to fly to the 
same nest. 

" Cynthia, you are beautiful ; make haste. Who knows 
whether you will be alive to-morrow ? Your hair is blacker than 
the lustrous skin of an Ethiopian virgin. Make haste ; a few 
years hence, slender silver threads will creep into its thick 
clusters ; these roses smell sweet to-day, but to-morrow they will 
have the odour of death, and be but the corpses of roses. Let 
us inhale thy roses while they resemble thy cheeks ; let us kiss 
thy cheeks while they resemble thy roses. When you are old, 
Cynthia, no one will have anything more to do with you, not 
even the lictor's servants when you would pay them, and you 
will run after me whom now you repulse. Wait until Saturn 
with his nail has scratched this pure and shining brow, and you 
will see how your threshold, so besieged, so entreated, so warm 
with tears and so decked with flowers, will be shunned, and 
cursed, and covered with weeds and briars. Make haste, Cynthia; 
the smallest wrinkle may serve as a grave for the greatest love. 

"Such is the brutal and imperious formula in which all 
ancient elegy is contained : it always comes back to it ; it is 
its greatest; its strongest reason, the Achilles of its arguments. 



196 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

After this it has scarcely anything to say, and, when it nas pro- 
mised a robe of twice-dyed byssus and a union of equal-sized 
pearls, it has reached the end of its tether. And it is also 
nearly the whole of what I find most conclusive in a similar 
emergency. 

" Nevertheless I do not always abide by so scanty a pro- 
gramme, but embroider my barren canvas with a few differently 
coloured silken threads picked up here and there. But these 
pieces are short or are twenty times renewed, and do not keep 
their places well on the groundwork of the woof. I speak of 
love with tolerable elegance because I have read many fine 
things about it. It only needs the talent of an actor to do so. 
With many women this appearance is enough; my habitual 
writing and imagination prevent me from being short of such 
materials, and every mind that is at all practised may easily 
arrive at the same result by application ; but I do not feel a 
word of what I say, and I repeat in a whisper like the ancient 
poet : Cynthia, make haste. 

" I have often been accused of deceit and dissimulation. No- 
body in the world would be so pleased as myself to speak freely 
and pour forth his heart ! but, as I have not an idea or a feeling 
similar to those of the people who surround me, as, at the first 
true word that I let fall, there would be a hurrah and a general 
outcry, I have preferred to keep silence, or, if speaking, to dis- 
charge only such follies as are admitted and have rights of 
citizenship. I should be welcome if I said to the ladies what I 
have just written to you ! I do not think that they would 
have any great liking for my manner of seeing and ways of 
looking upon love. 

" As for men, I am equally unable to tell them to their face 
that they are wrong not to go on all fours ; and that is in truth 
the most favourable thought that I have with respect to them. 
I do not wish to have a quarrel at every word. What does it 
matter, after all, what I think or do not think ; or if I am sad 
when I seem gay, and joyous when I have an air of melancholy ? 
I cannot be blamed for not going naked : may I not clothe 
my countenance as I do my body ? Why should a mask be 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 197 

more reprehensible than a pair of breeches, or a lie than a 
corset ? 

"Alas! the earth turns round the sun, roasted on one side and 
frozen on the other. A battle takes place in which six hundred 
thousand men cut each other to pieces ; the weather is as fine 
as possible ; the flowers display unparalleled coquetry, and 
impudently open their luxuriant bosoms beneath the very feet 
of the horses. To-day a fabulous number of good deeds have 
been performed ; it is pouring fast, there is snow and thunder, 
lightning and hail ; you would think 'hat the world was coming 
to an end. The benefactors of numanity are muddy to the 
waist and as dirty as dogs, unless they have carriages. Creation 
mocks pitilessly at the creature, and shouts keen sarcasms at it 
every minute. Everything is indifferent to everything, and 
each lives or vegetates in virtue of its own law. What difference 
does it make to the sun, to the beetroots, or even to men, 
whether I do this or that, live or die, suffer or rejoice, dis- 
semble or be sincere ? 

" A straw falls upon an ant and breaks its third leg at the 
second articulation ; a rock falls upon a village and crushes it : 
I do not believe that one of these misfortunes draws more tears 
than the other from the golden eyes of the stars. You are my 
best friend, if the expression is not as hollow as a bell ; but 
were I to die, it is very evident that, mourn as you might, you 
would not abstain from dining for even two days, and would, 
in spite of such a terrible catastrophe, continue to play trick- 
track very pleasantly. Which of my friends or mistresses will 
know my name and Christian names twenty years hence, or 
would recognise me in the street if I were to appear with a coat 
out at elbows ? Forgetfulness and nothingness are the whole 
of man. 

" I feel myself as perfectly alone as is possible, and all the 
threads passing from me to things and from things to me have 
been broken one by one. There are few examples of a man 
who, preserving a knowledge of the movements that take place 
within him, has arrived at such a degree of brutishness. I am 
like a flagon of liqueur which has been left uncorked and 



198 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

whose spirit has completely evaporated. The beverage has the 
same appearance and colour ; but taste it, and you will find in it 
nothing but the insipidity of water. 

" When I think of it, I am frightened at the rapidity of this 
decomposition ; if it continues I shall be obliged to salt myself, 
or I shall inevitably grow rotten, and the worms will come after 
me, seeing that I have no longer a soul, and that the latter alone 
constitutes the difference between a body and a corpse. One 
year ago, not more, I had still something human in me ; I was 
disquieted, I was seeking. I had a thought cherished above all 
others, a sort of aim, an ideal ; I wanted to be loved and I had 
the dreams that come at that age, less vaporous, less chaste, 
it is true, than those of ordinary youths, but yet contained with- 
in just limits. 

"Little by little the incorporeal part was withdrawn and 
dissipated, and there was left at bottom of me only a thick 
bed of coarse slime. The dream became a nightmare, and 
the chimera a succubus ; the world of the soul closed its ivory 
gates against me : I now understand only what I touch with 
my hands ; my dreams are of stone ; everything condenses and 
hardens about me, nothing floats, nothing wavers, there is neither 
air nor breath ; matter presses upon me, encroaches upon me 
and crushes me ; I am like a pilgrim who, having fallen asleep 
with his feet in the water on a summer's day, has awaked in 
winter with his feet locked fast in the ice. I no longer wish 
for anybody's love or friendship; glory itself, that brilliant aureola 
which I had so desired for my brow, no longer inspires me with 
the slightest longing. Only one thing, alas ! now palpitates within 
me, and that is the horrible desire which draws me towards 
Theodore. You see to what all my moral notions are reduced. 
What is physically beautiful is good, all that is ugly is evil. I 
might see a beautiful woman who, to my own knowledge, had 
the most villainous soul in the world, and was an adulteress 
and a poisoner, and I confess that this would be a matter of 
indifference to me and would in no way prevent me from 
taking delight in her, if the shape of her nose suited me. 

" This is the way in which I picture to myself supreme happi- 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 199 

ness : there is a large square building, without any windows look- 
ing outward ; a large court surrounded by a white marble colon- 
nade, a crystal fountain in the centre with a jet of quicksilver 
after the Arabian fashion, and boxes of orange and pomegranate 
trees placed alternately ; overhead, a very blue sky and a very 
yellow sun ; large greyhounds with pike-like noses should be 
sleeping here and there ; from time to time barefooted negroes 
with rings of gold on their legs, and beautiful white, slender 
serving-women, clothed in rich and capricious garments, should 
pass through the hollow arcades, a basket on their arm or an 
amphora on their head. For myself, I should be there, motion- 
less and silent, beneath a magnificent canopy, surrounded with 
piles of cushions, having a huge tame lion supporting my elbow 
and the naked breast of a young slave like a stool beneath my 
foot, and smoking opium in a large jade pipe. 

" I cannot imagine paradise differently ; and, if God really 
wishes me to go there after my death, he will build me a little 
kiosk on this plan in the corner of some star. Paradise, as it 
is commonly described, appears to me much too musical, and 
I confess, with all humility that I am perfectly incapable of 
enduring a sonata which would last for merely ten thousand 
years. 

" You see the nature of my Eldorado, of my promised land : 
it is a dream like any other ; but it has this special feature, that 
I never introduce any known countenance into it ; that none of 
my friends has crossed the threshold of this imaginary palace ; 
and that none of the women that I have possessed has sat down 
beside me on the velvet of the cushions : I am there alone in the 
midst of phantoms. I have never conceived the idea of loving 
all the women's faces, and graceful shadows of young girls with 
whom I people it ; I have never supposed one of them in love 
with me. In this fantastic seraglio I have created no favourite 
sultana. There are negresses, mulattoes, Jewesses with blue 
skin and red hair, Greeks and Circassians, Spaniards and 
Englishwomen; but they are to me only symbols of colour 
and feature, and I have them just as a man has all kinds of 
wines in his cellar, and every species of humming-bird in his col- 



200 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

lection. They are objects to be admired, pictures which have 
no need of a frame, statues which come to you when you call 
them and wish to look at them closely. A woman possesses 
this unquestionable advantage over a statue, that she turns of 
herself in the direction that you wish, whereas you are obliged 
to walk round the statue and place yourself at the point of sight; 
which is fatiguing. 

" You must see that with such ideas I cannot remain in these 
times nor in this world of ours ; for it is impossible to exist thus 
by the side of time and space. I must find something else. 

" Such thoughts lead simply and logically to this conclusion. 
As only satisfaction of the eye, polish of form, and purity of 
feature are sought for, they are accepted wherever they are 
found. This is the explanation of the singular aberrations in 
the love of the ancients. 

" Since the time of Christ there has not been a single human 
statue in which adolescent beauty has been idealised and repre- 
sented with the care that characterises the ancient sculptors. 
Woman has become the symbol of moral and physical beauty : 
man has really fallen from the day that the infant was born at 
Bethlehem. Woman is the queen of creation ; the stars unite 
in a crown upon her head, the crescent of the moon glories in 
waxing beneath her foot, the sun yields his purest gold to make 
her jewels, painters who wish to flatter the angels give them 
women's faces, and, certes, I shall not be the one to blame 
them. 

" Previous to the gentle and worthy narrator of parables, it was 
quite the opposite ; gods or heroes were not made feminine when 
it was wished to make them charming; they had their own type, 
at once vigorous and delicate, but always male, however amor- 
ous their outlines might be, and however smooth and destitute 
of muscles and veins the workman might have made their 
divine legs and arms. He was more ready to bring the 
special beauty of women into accordance with this type. He 
enlarged the shoulders, attenuated the hips, gave more promi- 
nence to the throat, and accentuated the joints of the arms and 
thighs more strongly. There is scarcely any difference between 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 201 

Paris and Helen. And so the hermaphrodite was one of the 
most eagerly cherished chimeras of idolatrous antiquity. 

" This son of Hermes and Aphrodite is, in fact, one of the 
sweetest creations of Pagan genius. Nothing in the world can 
be imagined more ravishing than these two bodies, harmoni- 
ously blended together and both perfect, these two beauties so 
equal and so different, forming but one superior to both, 
because they are reciprocally tempered and improved. To an 
exclusive worshipper of form, can there be a more delightful 
uncertainty than that into which you arc thrown by the sight 
of the back, the ambiguous loins, and the strong, delicate 
legs, which you are doubtful whether to attribute to Mercury 
ready to take his flight or to Diana coming forth from the 
bath ? The torso is a compound of the most charming mon- 
strosities : on the bosom, which is plump and quite pubescent, 
swells with strange grace the breast of a young maiden ; be- 
neath the sides, which are well covered and quite feminine in 
their softness, you may divine the muscles and the ribs, as in 
the sides of a young lad ; the belly is rather flat for a woman, 
and rather round for a man, and in the whole habit of the body 
there is something cloudy and undecided which it is impossible 
to describe, and which possesses quite a peculiar attraction. 
Theodore would certainly be an excellent model for this kind 
of beauty ; nevertheless, I think, that the feminine portion pre- 
vails with him, and that he has preserved more of Salmacis 
than did the Hermaphrodite of the Metamorphoses. 

" It is a singular thing that I have nearly ceased to think 
about his sex, and that I love him in perfect indifference to it. 
Sometimes I seek to persuade myself that such love is ridicu- 
lous, and I tell myself so as severely as possible ; but it only 
comes from my lips it is a piece of reasoning which I go 
through but do not feel : it really seems to me as if it were the 
simplest thing in the world and as if any one else would do 
the same in my place. 

"I see him, I listen to him speaking or singing for he sings 
admirably and take an unspeakable pleasure in doing so. He 
produces the impression of a woman upon me to such an extent 

N 



202 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

that one day, in the heat of conversation, I inadvertently called 
him Madame, which made him laugh in what appeared to me to 
be a somewhat constrained manner. 

"Yet, if it were a woman, what motives could there be for 
this disguise ? I cannot account for them in any way. It is 
comprehensible for a very young, very handsome and perfectly 
beardless cavalier to disguise himself as a woman ; he can thus 
open a thousand doors which would have remained obstinately 
shut against him, and the quid pro quo may involve him in quite 
a labyrinthine and jovial complication of adventures. You 
may, in this manner, reach a woman who is strictly guarded, or 
realise a piece of good fortune under favour of the surprise. 

" But I am not very clear as to the advantages to be derived 
by a young and beautiful woman from rambling about in man's 
clothes. A woman ought not to give up in this way the plea- 
sure of being courted, madrigalised and worshipped; she 
should rather give up her life, and she would be right, for what 
is a woman's life without all this? Nothing, or something 
worse than death. And I am always astonished that women 
who are thirty years old, or have the small-pox, do not throw 
themselves down from the top of a steeple. 

" In spite of all this, something stranger than any reasoning 
cries to me that it is a woman, and that it is she of whom I 
have dreamed, she whom alone I am to love, and by whom I 
alone am to be loved. Yes, it was she, the goddess with eagle 
glance and beautiful royal hands, who used to smile with con- 
descension upon me from the height of her throne of clouds. 
She has presented herself to me in this disguise to prove me, to 
see whether I should recognise her, whether my amorous gaze 
would penetrate the veils which enwrap her, as in those won- 
drous tales where the fairies appear at first in the forms of 
beggars, and then suddenly stand out resplendent with gold 
and precious stones. 

" I have recognised thee, O my love ! At the sight of thee 
my heart leaped within my bosom as did St. John in the womb 
of St. Anne, when she was visited by the Virgin ; a blazing light 
was shed through the air ; I perceived, as it were, an odour of 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 20? 

divine ambrosia ; I saw the trail of fire at thy feet, and I straight- 
way understood that thou wert not a mere mortal. 

" The melodious sounds of St. Cecilia's viol, to which the 
angels listen with rapture, are harsh and discordant in com- 
parison with the pearly cadences which escape from thy ruby 
lips : the Graces, young and smiling, dance a ceaseless 
roundel about thee ; the birds, warbling, bend their little 
variegated heads to see thee better as thou passest through the 
woods, and pipe to thee their prettiest refrains ; the amorous 
moon rises earlier to kiss thee with her pale silver lips, for she 
has forsaken her shepherd for thee ; the wind is careful not to 
efface the delicate print of thy charming foot upon the sand; the 
fountain becomes smoother than crystal when thou bendest over 
it, fearing to wrinkle and distort the reflection of thy celestial 
countenance ; the modest violets themselves open up their 
little hearts to thee and display a thousand coquetries before 
thee ; the jealous strawberry is piqued to emulation and strives 
to equal the divine carnation of thy mouth ; the imperceptible 
gnat hums joyously and applauds thee with the beating of its 
wings : all nature loves and admires thee, who art her fairest 
work ! 

" Ah ! now I live; until this moment I was but a dead man : 
now I am freed from the shroud, and stretch both my wasted 
hands out of the grave towards the sun ; my blue, ghastly colour 
has left me: my blood circulates swiftly through my veins. 
The frightful silence which reigned around me is broken at last. 
The black, opaque vault which weighed heavy on my brow is 
illumined. A thousand mysterious voices whisper in my ear ; 
charming stars sparkle above me, and sand the windings of my 
path with their spangles of gold ; the daisies laugh sweetly to me, 
and the bell-flowers murmur my name with their little restless 
tongues. I understand a multitude of things which I used not 
to understand, I discover affinities and marvellous sympathies, I 
know the language of the roses and nightingales and I read 
with fluency the book which once I could not even spell. 

" I have recognised that I had a friend in the respectable old 
oak all covered with mistletoe and parasitic plants, and that the 



204 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

frail and languid periwinkle, whose large blue eye is ever run 
ning over with tears, had long cherished a discreet and re- 
strained passion for me. It is love, it is love that has opened 
my eyes and given me the answer to the enigma. Love has 
come down to the bottom of the vault where my soul cowered 
numb and somnolent ; he has taken it by the finger-tips and 
has brought it up the steep and narrow staircase leading with- 
out. All the locks of the prison were picked, and for the first 
time this poor Psyche came forth from me in whom she had 
been shut up. 

" Another life has become mine. I breathe with the breast 
of another, and a blow wounding him would kill me. Before 
this happy day I was like those gloomy Japanese idols which 
look down perpetually at their own bellies. I was a spectator 
of myself, the audience of the comedy that I was playing ; I 
looked at myself living, and I listened to the oscillations of 
my heart as to the throbbing of a pendulum. That was all. 
Images were portrayed on my heedless eyes, sounds struck my 
inattentive ear, but nothing from the external world reached 
my soul. The existence of any one else was not necessary to 
me ; I even doubted any existence other than my own, concern- 
ing which again I was scarcely sure. It seemed to me that I 
was alone in the midst of the universe, and that all the rest 
was but vapours, images, vain illusions, fleeting appearances 
destined to people this nothingness. What a difference ! 

"And yet what if my presentiment is deceiving me, and 
Theodore is really a man, as every one believes him to be ! 
Such marvellous beauties have sometimes beon seen, and great 
youth assists such an illusion. It is something that I will not 
think of and that would drive me mad ; the seed fallen yester- 
day into the sterile rock of my heart has already pierced it in 
every direction with its thousand filaments ; it has clung vigor- 
ously to it, and to pluck it up would be impossible. It is already 
a blossoming and green-growing tree with twisting muscular 
roots. If I came to know with certainty that Theodore is not 
a woman, I do not know, alas ! whether I should not still love 
him." 



X. 




'Y fair friend, you were quite right in dissuading 
me from the plan that I had formed of seeing 
men and studying them thoroughly before giving 
my heart to any among them. I have for ever 
extinguished love within me, and even the possibility of love. 

"Poor young girls that we are, brought up with so much 
care, surrounded in such maidenly fashion with a triple wall of 
reticence and precaution, who are allowed to understand 
nothing, to suspect nothing, and whose principal knowledge is 
to know nothing, in what strange errors do we live, and what 
treacherous chimeras cradle us in their arms ! 

" Ah ! Graciosa, thrice cursed be the minute when the idea 
of this disguise occurred to me; what horrors, infamies, brutalities 
have I been forced to witness or to hear ! what a treasure of 
chaste and precious ignorance have I dissipated in but a short 
time ! 

" It was in a fair moonlight, do you remember ? we were 
walking together, at the very bottom of the garden, in that dull, 
little-frequented alley, terminated at one end by a statue of a 
flute-playing Faun which has lost its nose, and whose whole 
body is covered with a thick leprosy of blackish moss, and at the 
other by a counterfeit view painted on the wall, and half-effaced 
by the rain. 

" Through the yet spare foliage of the yoke-elm we could 
here and there see the twinkling of the stars and the curved 
crescent of the moon. A fragrance of young shoots and fresh 
plants reached us from the parterre with the languid breath of 



206 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

a gentle breeze ; a hidden bird was piping a languorous and 
whimsical tune ; we, like true young girls, were talking of love, 
wooers, marriage, and the handsome cavalier that we had seen 
at mass ; we were exchanging our few ideas of the world and 
things ; we were turning over an expression that we had 
chanced to hear and whose meaning seemed obscure and 
singular to us, in a hundred different ways; we were asking 
a thousand of those absurd questions which only the most 
perfect innocence can imagine. What primitive poetry and 
what adorable foolishness were there in those furtive conver- 
sations between two little simpletons who had but just left a 
boarding-school ! 

" You wished to have for your lover a bold, proud young 
fellow, with black moustache and hair, large spurs, large feathers, 
and a large sword a sort of bully in love, and you indulged 
to the full in the heroic and triumphant : you dreamed of 
nothing but duels and escalades, and miraculous devotion, and 
you would have been ready to throw your glove into the lions' 
den that your Esplandian might follow to fetch it. It was very 
comical to see you, a little girl as you were then, blonde, blushing, 
and yielding to the faintest blast, delivering yourself of such 
generous tirades all in a breath, and with the most martial air 
in the world. 

" For myself, although I was only six months older than you, 
I was six years less romantic : one thing chiefly disquieted me, 
and this was to know what men said among themselves and 
what they did after leaving drawing-rooms and theatres ; I felt 
that there were many faulty and obscure sides to their lives, 
which were carefully veiled from our gaze, and which it was very 
important that we should know. Sometimes hidden behind a 
curtain, I would watch from a distance the gentlemen who came 
to the house, and it seemed to me then as if I could distinguish 
something base and cynical in their manner, a coarse carelessness 
or a wild preoccupied look, which I could no longer discern in 
them as soon as they had come in, and which they seemed to 
lay aside, as by enchantment, on the threshold of the room. 
All, young as well as old, appeared to me to have uniformly 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 207 

adopted conventional masks, conventional opinions and con- 
ventional modes of speech when in the presence of women. 

" From the corner of the drawing-room, where I used to sit 
as straight as a doll, without leaning back in my easy-chair, I 
would listen and look as I rolled my bouquet between my fingers; 
although my eyes were cast down I could see to right and to left, 
before me and behind me : like the fabulous eyes of the lynx 
my eyes could pierce through walls, and I could have told what 
was going on in the adjoining room. 

" I had also perceived a noteworthy difference in the way in 
which they spoke to married women ; they no longer used dis- 
creet, polished, and childishly embellished phrases such as were 
addressed to myself or my companions, but displayed bolder 
sprightliness, less sober and more disembarrassed manners, open 
reticence, and the ambiguity that quickly comes from a corruption 
which knows that it has similar corruption before it : I was quite 
sensible that there existed an element in common between them 
which did not exist between us, and I would have given anything 
to know what this element was. 

" With what anxiety and furious curiosity I would follow with 
eye and ear the laughing, buzzing groups of young men, who, 
after making a halt at some points in the circle, would resume 
their walk, talking and casting ambiguous glances as they passed. 
On their scornfully puffed-up lips hovered incredulous sneers ; 
they looked as though they were scoffing atwhat they had just said, 
and were retracting the compliments and adoration with which 
they had overwhelmed us. I could not hear their words ; but I 
knew from the movements of their lips that they were uttering 
expressions in a language with which I was unacquainted, and 
of which no one had ever made use in my presence. 

" Even those who had the most humble and submissive air 
would raise their heads with a very perceptible shade of revolt 
and weariness ; a sigh of breathlessness, like that of an actor who 
has reached the end of a long couplet, would escape from theii 
bosoms in spite of themselves, and when leaving us they would 
make a half-turn on their heels in an eager, hurried manner 



208 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

which denoted a sort of internal satisfaction at their release from 
the hard task of being polite and gallant. 

" I would have given a year of my life to listen, without being 
seen, to an hour of their conversation. I could often under- 
stand, by certain attitudes, indirect gestures and side-glances, 
that I was the subject of their conversation, and that they were 
speaking of my age or my face. Then I would be on burning 
coals; the few subdued words and partial scraps of sentences 
reaching me at intervals would excite my curiosity to the 
highest degree, without being capable of satisfying it, and I 
would indulge in strange perplexities and doubts. 

" Generally, what was said seemed to be favourable to me, 
and it was not this that disquieted me : I did not care very much 
about being thought beautiful ; it was the slight observations 
dropped into the hollow of the ear, and nearly always followed 
by long sneers and singular winkings of the eye, that is what I 
should have liked to hear ; and I would have cheerfully aban- 
doned the most flowery and perfumed conversation in the world 
to hear one of such expressions as are whispered behind a 
curtain or in the corner of a doorway. 

" If I had had a lover I should have greatly liked to know 
the way in which he spoke of me to another man, and the terms 
in which, with a little wine in his head and both elbows on the 
table-cloth, he would boast of his good fortune to the com- 
panions of his orgie. 

" I know this now, and in truth I am sorry that I know it. 
It is always so. 

" My idea was a mad one, but what is done is done, and 
what is learned cannot be unlearned. I did not listen to you, my 
dear Graciosa, and I am sorry for it ; but we do not always 
listen to reason, especially when it comes from such pretty lips 
as yours, for, from some reason or other, we can never imagine 
advice to be wise unless it is given by some old head that is 
hoary and grey, as though sixty years of stupidity could make 
one intelligent. 

" But all this was too much torment, and I could not stand 
it ; I was broiling in my little skin like a chestnut on the pan. 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 209 

The fatal apple swelled in the foliage above my head, and 1 
was obliged to end by giving it a bite, being free to throw h 
away afterwards, if the flavour seemed bitter to me. 

" I acted like fair Eve, my very dear great-grandmother, and 
bit it. 

" The death of my uncle, the only relation left to me, giving 
me freedom of action, I put into practice what I had dreamed 
of for so long. My precautions were taken with the greatest 
care to prevent any one from suspecting my sex. I had learned 
how to handle a sword and fire a pistol ; I rode perfectly, and 
with a hardihood of which few horsemen would have been 
capable; I carefully studied the way to wear my cloak and 
make my riding-whip clack, and in a few months I succeeded 
in transforming a girl who was thought rather pretty into a far 
more pretty cavalier, who lacked scarcely anything but a 
moustache. I realised my property, and left the town, deter- 
mined not to return without the most complete experience. 

" It was the only means of clearing up my doubts : to 
have had lovers would have taught me nothing, or would at 
least have afforded me but incomplete glimpses, and I wished 
to study man thoroughly, to anatomise him with inexorable 
scalpel fibre by fibre, and to have him alive and palpitating on 
my dissecting table ; to do this it would be necessary to see 
him at home, alone and undressed, and to follow him when he 
went out walking, and visited the tavern or other places. With 
my disguise I could go everywhere without being remarked ; 
there would be no concealment before me, all reserve and con- 
straint would be thrown aside, I would receive confidences, and 
would give false ones to provoke others that were true. Alas J 
women have read only man's romance and never his history. 

" It is a frightful thing to think of, and one which is not 
thought of, how profoundly ignorant we are of the life and con- 
duct of those who appear to love us, and whom we are going 
to marry. Their real existence is as completely unknown to us 
as if they were inhabitants of Saturn or of some other planet 
a hundred million leagues from our sublunary ball : one would 
think that they were of a different species, and that there is 



210 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

not the slightest intellectual link between the two sexes ; the 
virtues of the one are the vices of the other, and what excites 
admiration for a man brings disgrace upon a woman. 

" As for us, our life is clear and may be pierced at a glance. 
It is easy to follow us from our home to the boarding-school, 
and from the boarding-school to our home ; what we do is no 
mystery to anybody ; every one may see our bad stump-draw 
ings, our water-colour bouquets composed of a pansy and a rose 
as large as a cabbage, and with the stalk tastefully tied with a 
bright-coloured ribbon : the slippers which we embroider for 
our father's or grandfather's birthday have nothing very occult 
and disquieting in them. Our sonatas and ballads are gone 
through with the most desirable coldness. We are well and duly 
tied to our mother's apron strings, and at nine or ten o'clock at 
the latest we retire into our little white beds at the end of 
our discreet and tidy cells, wherein we are virtuously bolted and 
padlocked until next morning. The most watchful and jealous 
susceptibility could find nothing to complain of. 

" The most limpid crystal does not possess the transparency 
of such a life. 

" The man who takes us knows what we have done from the 
minute we were weaned, and even before it if he likes to pursue 
his researches so far. Our life is not a life, it is a species of 
vegetation like that of mosses and flowers; the icy shadow of the 
maternal stem hovers over us, poor, stifled rosebuds who dare 
not bloom. Our chief business is to keep ourselves very straight, 
well laced, and well brushed, with our eyes becomingly cast 
down, and for immobility and stiffness to surpass manikins and 
puppets on springs. 

" We are forbidden to speak, or to mingle in the conversation, 
except to answer yes or no if we are asked a question. As soon 
as anybody is going to say something interesting we are sent 
away to practice the harp or harpsichord, and our music-master* 
are all at least sixty years old, and take snuff horribly. The 
models hung up in our rooms have a very vague and evasive 
anatomy. Before the gods of Greece can present themselves 
in a young ladies' boarding-school they must first purchase very 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 211 

ample box-coats at an old -clothes shop and get themselves 
engraved in stippling, after which they look like porters or cab- 
men, and are little calculated to inflame the imagination. 

"In the anxiety to prevent us from being romantic we are made 
idiots. The period of our education is spent not in teaching 
us something, but in preventing us from learning something. 

" We are really prisoners in body and mind ; but how could 
a young man, who has freedom of action, who goes out in the 
morning not to icturn until the next morning, who has money, 
and who can make it and spend it as he pleases, how could he 
justify the employment of his time ? what man would tell his 
sweetheart all that he did day and night ? Not one, even of 
those who are reputed the most pure. 

" I had sent my horse and my garments to a little grange of 
mine at some distance from the town. I dressed, mounted, 
and rode off, not without a singular heaviness of heart. I re- 
gretted nothing, for I was leaving nothing behind, neither 
relations nor friends, nor dog nor cat, and yet I was sad, and 
almost had tears in my eyes ; the farm which I had visited only 
five or six times had no particular interest for me, and it was 
not the liking that we take for certain places and that affects 
us when leaving them which prompted me to turn round two 
or three times to see again from a distance its spiral of bluish 
smoke ascending amid the trees. 

" There it was that I had left my title of woman with my 
dresses and petticoats ; twenty years of my life were locked up in 
the room where I had made my toilet, years which were to be 
counted no longer, and which had ceased to concern me. 
' Here lies Madelaine de Maupin ' might have been written on 
the door, for I was, in fact, no longer Madelaine de Maupin 
but Theodore de Se"rannes, and no one would call me any more 
by the sweet name of Madelaine. 

" The drawer which held my henceforth useless dresses ap- 
peared to me like the coffin of my fair illusions ; I was a man, 
t>r, at least, had the appearance of one: the young girl was dead. 

" When I had completely lost sight of the chestnut trees which 
surround the grange, it seemed to me as if I were no longer 



212 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

myself but another, and I looked back to my former actions as 
to the actions of a stranger which I had witnessed, or the 
beginning of a romance which I had not read through to the 
end. 

" I recalled complacently a thousand little details, the childish 
simplicity of which brought an indulgent, and sometimes a rather 
scornful smile to my lips, like that of a young libertine listening 
to the arcadian and pastoral confidences of a third-form school- 
boy ; and, just as I was separating myself from them for ever, all 
the puerilities of my childhood and girlhood ran along the side 
of the road making a thousand signs of friendship to me and 
blowing me kisses from the tips of their white tapering fingers. 

" I spurred my horse to rid myself of these enervating 
emotions ; the trees sped rapidly past me on either side ; but 
the wanton swarm, buzzing more than a hive of bees, began to 
run on the sidewalks and call to me, ' Madelaine ! Madelaine ! ' 

" I struck my animal's neck smartly with my whip, which 
made him redouble his speed. So rapidly was I riding, that my 
hair was nearly straight behind my head, and my cloak was 
horizontal, as though its folds were sculptured in stone ; once I 
looked behind, and I saw the dust raised by my horse's hoofs 
ike a little white cloud far away on the horizon. 

" I stopped for a while. 

" I perceived something white moving in a bush of eglantine at 
the side of the road, and a little clear voice as sweet as silver fell 
upon my ear : ' Madelaine, Madelaine, where are you going so 
far away, Madelaine ? I am your virginity, dear child ; that is 
why I have a white dress, a white crown, and a white skin. But 
why are you wearing boots, Madelaine ? Methought you had a 
very pretty foot. Boots and hose, and a large plumed hat like 
a cavalier going to the wars ! Wherefore, pray, this long sword 
beating and bruising your thigh ? You have a strange equip- 
ment, Madelaine, and I am not sure whether I should go with 
you.' 

" ' If you are afraid, my dear, return home, go water my 
flowers and care for my doves. But, in truth, you are wrong ; 
you would be safer in these garments of good cloth than in your 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 213 

gauze and flax. My boots prevent it being seen whether I 
have a pretty foot ; this sword is for my defence, and the feather 
waving in my hat is to frighten away all the nightingales who 
would come and sing false love-songs in my ear.' 

" I continued my journey : in the sighs of the wind I thought 
I could recognise the last phrase of the sonata which I had 
learned for my uncle's birthday, and in a large rose lifting its full- 
blown head above a little wall, the model of the big rose from 
which I had made so many water-colour drawings ; passing 
before a house I saw the phantom of my curtains moving at a 
window. All my past seemed to be clinging to me to prevent 
me from advancing and attaining to a new future. 

" I hesitated two or three times and turned my horse's head 
in the opposite direction. 

" But the little blue snake of curiosity hissed softly to me 
insidious words, and said : ' Go on, go on, Theodore ; the 
opportunity for instruction is a good one ; if you do not learn 
to-day, you will never know. Will you give your noble heart 
to chance, to the first appearance of honesty and passion ? Men 
hide many extraordinary secrets from us, Theodore ! ' 

" I resumed my gallop. 

" The hose was on my body, but not in my disposition ; I 
felt a sort of uneasiness, and, as it were, a shudder of fear, to 
give it its proper name, at a dark part of the forest ; the report 
of a poacher's gun nearly made me faint. If it had been a 
robber, the pistols in my holsters and my formidable sword 
would certainly have been of little assistance to me. But by 
degrees I became hardened, and paid no more attention to it. 

" The sun was sinking slowly beneath the horizon, like the 
lustre in a theatre which is turned down when the performance 
is over. Rabbits and pheasants crossed the road from time to 
time ; the shadows became longer, and the distance was tinted 
with red. Some portions of the sky were of a very sweet and 
softened lilac colour, others resembled the citron and orange ; 
the night-birds began to sing, and a crowd of strange sounds 
issued from the wood : the little light that remained died away, 



214 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

and the darkness became complete, increased, as it was, by the 
shade cast by the trees. 

" I, who had never gone out alone at night, in a large forest 
at eight o'clock in the evening ! Can you imagine such a thing, 
Graciosa, I who used to be dying of fear at the end of the 
garden ? Terror seized me more than ever, and my heart beat 
terribly; I confess that it was with great satisfaction that I 
saw the lights of the town to which I was going, peeping and 
sparkling at the back of a hill. As soon as I saw those brilliant 
specks, like little terrestrial stars, my fright completely left me. 
It seemed to me as if these indifferent gleams were the open eyes 
of so many friends who were watching for me. 

" My horse was no less pleased than I was myself, and, 
inhaling a sweet stable odour more agreeable to him than the 
scents of the daisies and strawberries in the woods, he hastened 
straight to the Red Lion Hotel 

" A golden gleam shone through the leaden casements of the 
inn, the tin signboard of which was swinging right and left, 
and moaning like an old woman, for the north wind was begin- 
ning to freshen. I intrusted my horse to a groom, and entered 
the kitchen. 

" An enormous fire-place opened its red and black jaws in 
the background, swallowing up a faggot at each mouthful, while 
at either side of the andirons two dogs, seated on their haunches 
and nearly as high as a man, were toasting themselves with all 
the phlegm in the world, contenting themselves with lifting 
their paws a little and heaving a sort of sigh when the heat be- 
came too intense ; but they would certainly have let themselves 
be reduced to cinders rather than have retired a step. 

" My arrival did not appear to please them ; and it was in 
vain that I tried to become acquainted with them, by stroking 
their heads now and then ; they cast stealthy looks at me which 
imported nothing good. This surprised me, for animals come 
readily to me. 

" The inn-keeper came up and asked me what I wished for 
supper. 

" He was a paunch-bellied man, with a red nose, wall eyes. 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 2I S 

and a smile that went round his head. At every word he 
uttered he displayed a double row of teeth, which were pointed 
and separated like an ogre's. The large kitchen-knife which 
hung by his side had a dubious appearance, and looked as if it 
might serve several purposes. When I had told him what I 
wanted he went up to one of the dogs and gave him a kick 
somewhere. The dog rose, and proceeded towards a sort of 
wheel which he entered with a cross and pitiful look, casting a 
glance of reproach at me. At last, seeing that no mercy was to 
be hoped for, he began to turn his wheel, and with it the spit 
on which the chicken for my supper was broached. I inwardly 
promised to throw him the remains of it for his trouble, and 
began to look round the kitchen until it should be ready. 

" The ceiling was crossed by broad oaken joists, all blistered 
and blackened by the smoke from the hearth and candles. 
Pewter dishes brighter than silver, and white crockery-ware, with 
blue nosegays on it, shone in the shade on the dressers. Along 
the walls were numerous files of well-scoured pans, not unlike 
the ancient bucklers which were hung up in a row along the 
Grecian or Roman triremes (forgive me, Graciosa, for the epic 
magnificence of this comparison). One or two big servant-girls 
were busy about a large table moving plates and dishes and 
forks, the most agreeable of all music when you are hungry, 
for then the hearing of the stomach becomes keener than that 
of the ear. 

" In short, notwithstanding the money-box mouth and saw- 
like teeth of the inn-keeper, the inn had quite an honest and 
jovial look ; and if the inn-keeper's smile had been a fathom 
longer, and his teeth three times as long and as white, still the 
rain was beginning to patter on the panes, and the wind to 
howl in such a fashion as to take away all inclination to leave, 
for I know nothing more lugubrious than such waitings on a 
dark and rainy night. 

" An idea occurred to me and made me smile, and it was 
this, that nobody in the world would come to look for me 
where I was. 

"Who, indeed, would have thought that little Madelaine, 



216 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

instead of being in her warm bed with her alabaster night-lamp 
beside her, a novel under her pillow, and her maid in the 
adjoining room ready to hasten to her at the slightest noc- 
turnal alarm, would be balancing herself on a rush-bottom 
chair at a country inn twenty leagues from her home, her 
booted feet resting on the andirons, and her hands swaggeringly 
thurst into her pockets ? 

" Yes, Madelinette did not remain like her companions, 
idly resting her elbow on the edge of the balcony among the 
bind-weed and jessamine at the window, and watching the violet 
fringes on the horizon at the end of the plain, or some little 
rose-coloured cloud rounded by the May breeze. She did not 
strew lily leaves through mother-of-pearl palaces wherein to 
house her chimeras ; she did not, like you, fair dreamers, clothe 
some hollow phantom with all imaginable perfections ; she wished 
to be acquainted with men before giving herself to a man ; she 
forsook everything, her beautiful brilliant robes of velvet and 
silk, her necklaces, bracelets, birds and flowers ; she voluntarily 
gave up adoration, prostrate politeness, bouquets and madrigals, 
the pleasure of being considered more beautiful and better 
dressed than you, her sweet woman's name and all that she 
was, and departed, quite alone, like a brave girl, to learn the 
great science of life throughout the world. 

"If this were known, people would say that Madelaine is mad. 
You have said it yourself, my dear Graciosa ; but the truly mad 
are those who fling their souls to the wind, and sow their love 
at random on stone and rock, not knowing whether a single ear 
will germinate. 

" O Graciosa ! there is a thought that I have never had 
without terror; the thought of loving some one unworthy of being 
loved ! of laying your soul bare before impure eyes, and letting 
profanity penetrate into the sanctuary of your heart ! of rolling 
your limpid tide for a time with a miry wave ! However per- 
fect the separation may be, something of the slime always 
remains, and the stream cannot recover its former transparency. 

" To think that a man has kissed you and touched you ; that 
he has seen your person; that he can say : She is like this or 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 217 

that ; she has such a mark in such a place ; she has such a 
shade in her soul ; she laughs at this and weeps at that ; her 
dream is of this description ; here is a feather from her chimera's 
wing in my portfolio ; this ring is plaited with her hair ; a piece 
of her heart is folded up in this letter ; she used to caress 
me after such a fashion, and this was her usual expression of 
fondness ! 

" Ah ! Cleopatra, I can now understand why in the morning 
you had killed the lover with whom you had spent the night. 
Sublime cruelty, for which formerly I could not find sufficient 
imprecations ! Great voluptuary, how well you knew human 
nature, and what penetration was shown in this barbarity ! 
You would not suffer any living being to divulge the mysteries 
of your bed ; the words of love which had escaped your lips 
should not be repeated. Thus you preserved your pure delu- 
sion. Experience came not to strip piecemeal the charming 
phantom that you had cradled in your arms. You preferred to 
be separated from him by sudden blow of axe rather than by 
slow distaste. 

" What torture, in fact, it is to see the man whom you have 
chosen false every minute to the idea you had formed of him ; 
to discover a thousand littlenesses in his character which 
you had not suspected ; to perceive that what had appeared 
so beautiful to you through the prism of love is really very 
ugly, and that he whom you took for a true hero of romance 
is, after all, only a prosaic citizen who wears dressing-gown and 
slippers ! 

" I have not Cleopatra's power, and it I had, I should 
assuredly not possess the energy to make use of it. Hence, 
being unable or unwilling to cut off the heads of my lovers as 
they leave my couch, and being, further, indisposed to endure 
what other women endure, I must look twice before taking one ; 
I shall do so three times rather than twice if I feel any inclina- 
tion in that direction, which is doubtful enough after what I 
have seen and heard ; unless, in some happy unknown land, I 
meet with a heart like my own, as the romances say a virgin 
heart and pure, which has never loved, and which is capable 



2i8 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUl'IN. 

of doing so in the true sense of the word, by no means an 
easy matter. 

" Several gentlemen entered the inn ; the storm and darkness 
had prevented them from continuing their journey. They were 
all young, and the eldest was certainly not more than thirty. 
Their dress showed that they belonged to the upper classes, and 
without their dress the insolent ease of their manners would have 
readily made this understood. One or two of them had in 
teresting faces ; the others all displayed, to a greater or less 
degree, that species of brutal joviality and careless good-nature 
which men have among themselves, and which they lay aside 
completely when in our presence 

" If they could have suspected that the frail young man, half 
asleep in his chair at the corner of the fireplace, was anything 
but what he appeared to be, and was really a young girl, and fit 
for a king, as they say, they would certainly have quickly 
changed their tone, and you would immediately have seen them 
bridling up and making a display. They would have approached 
with many bows, their legs cambered, their elbows turned out, 
and a smile in their eyes, on their lips, in their nose, in their 
hair, and in their whole bodily appearance ; they would have 
boned the words they made use of, and spoken to me only in 
velvet and satin phrases; at the least movement, on my part, they 
would have looked like stretching themselves over the floor after 
the manner of a carpet, lest the delicacy of my feet should be 
offended by its unevenness ; all their hands would have been 
advanced to support me ; the softest seat would have been pre- 
pared in the best place but I looked like a pretty boy, and not 
like a pretty girl. 

" I confess that I was almost ready to regret my petticoats 
when I saw what little attention they paid to me. For a minute 
I was quite mortified; for, from time to time, I forgot that I was 
wearing man's clothes, and had to think of the fact in order to 
prevent myself from growing cross. 

" There I was, not speaking a word, my arms folded, looking 
apparently with great attention at the chicken, which was 
assuming a more and more rosy-tinted complexion, and the 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUFIN. 219 

unfortunate dog which I had so unluckily disturbed, and 
which was striving in its wheel like several devils in the same 
holy-water basin 

" The youngest of the set came up, and, giving me a clap on 
the shoulder, which, upon my word, hurt me a good deal, and 
drew a little involuntary cry from me, asked me whether I would 
not rather sup with them than quite by myself, seeing that the 
drinking would go on all the better for plenty of company. I 
replied that this was a pleasure I should not have dared to hope 
for, and that I should be very happy to do so. Our covers 
were then laid together, and we sat down to table. 

" The panting dog, after snapping up an enormous porringer- 
ful of water with three laps of his tongue, went back to his post 
opposite the other dog, which had not stirred any more than if 
he had been made of porcelain, the new-comers, by Heaven's 
special grace, not having asked for a chicken. 

" From some words which they let drop, I learned that they 
were repairing to the court, which was then at , where 
they were to join other friends of theirs. I told them that I 
was a gentleman's son who was leaving the university and 
going to some relations in the country by the regular pupil's 
road, namely, the longest he could find. This made them 
laugh, and after some remarks about my innocent and candid 
looks they asked me whether I had a mistress. I replied 
that I did not know, and they laughed still more. The 
bottles followed one another with rapidity ; although I was 
careful to leave my glass nearly always full, my head was 
somewhat heated, and not losing sight of my purpose, I 
brought the conversation round to women. This was not 
difficult; for, next to theology and aesthetics, they are the 
subject on which men are the readiest to talk when drunk. 

" My companions were not precisely drunk, they carried 
their wine too well for that, but they began to enter into 
moral discussions at random, and to put their elbows uncere- 
moniously on the table. One of them had even passed his arm 
around the thick waist of one of the serving-women, and was 
nodding his head in very amorous fashion. Another swore 



220 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

that he would instantly burst, like a toad that had been given 
snuff, if Jeannette would not let him take a kiss on each of 
the big red apples which served her for cheeks ; and Jeannette, 
not wishing him to burst like a toad, presented them to him 
with a very good grace, and did not even arrest a hand 
that audaciously found its way through the folds of her 
neckerchief into the moist valley of her bosom, which was 
very imperfectly guarded by a little golden cross, and it was 
only after a short whispered parley that he let her go and 
take away the dish. 

" Yet they belonged to the court, and had elegant manners, 
and unless I had seen it, I should certainly never have thought 
of accusing them of such familiarities with the servants of an 
inn. Probably they had just left charming mistresses to whom 
they had sworn the finest oaths in the world. In truth, I should 
never have dreamed of charging my lover not to sully the lips 
on which I had laid my own along the cheeks of a trollop. 

" The rogue appeared to take great pleasure in this kiss, 
neither more nor less than if he had embraced Phyllis or 
Ariadne. It was a big kiss, solidly and frankly applied, which 
left two little white marks on the wench's flaming cheek, and 
the trace of which she wiped away with the back of the hand 
that had just washed the plates and dishes. I do not believe 
that he ever gave so naturally tender a one to his heart's pure 
deity. This was apparently his own thought, for he said in an 
undertone, with quite a scornful movement of his elbow 

" ' To the devil with lean women and lofty sentiments !' 

" This moral appeared to suit the company, and they all 
wagged their heads in token of assent. 

" ' Upon my word,' said the other, following out his idea, ' I 
am unfortunate in everything. Gentlemen, I must confide to 
you under the seal of the greatest secrecy, that I, I who am 
speaking to you, have at this moment a flame.' 

" ' Oh ! oh ! ' said the others, ' a flame ! That is lugubrious 
to the last degree. And what do you do with a flame ? ' 

" ' She is a virtuous woman, gentlemen . you must not laugh, 
gentlemen ; for, after all, why should I not have a virtuous 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 221 

woman ? Have I said anything ridiculous. Here ! you over 
there ! I will throw the house at your head if you are not quiet.' 

" ' Well ! what next ? ' 

" ' She is mad about me. She has the most beautiful soul 
in the world ; in point of souls, I understand them, I under- 
stand them at least as well as I do horses, and I assure you that 
it is a soul of the first quality. There are elevations, ecstasies, 
devotions, sacrifices, refinements of tenderness, everything you 
can think of that is most transcendent ; but she has scarcely 
any bosom, she has none at all, even, like a little girl of 
fifteen at most She is otherwise pretty enough ; her hand 
is delicate, and her foot small ; she has too much mind and 
not enough flesh, and I often think of leaving her in the 
lurch. The devil ! One can't be content with minds. I am 
very unfortunate ; pity me, my dear friends.' And, affected by 
the wine that he had drunk, he began to weep bitterly. 

" ' Jeannette will console you for the misfortune of going to 
bed with sylphids,' said his neighbour, pouring him out a 
bumper ; ' her soul is so thick that you might make bodies 
of it for other people, and she has flesh enough to clothe 
the carcasses of three elephants.' 

" O pure and noble woman ! didst thou but know what is 
said at random of thee, in a tavern, and in the presence of 
strangers, by the man whom thou lovest best in the world, and 
to whom thou hast sacrificed everything ! how he strips thee 
without shame, and impudently surrenders thee in thy naked- 
ness to the drunken gaze of his comrades, whilst thou art 
mournful yonder, thy chin in thy hand, and thine eyes turned 
towards the road by which he is to return ! 

" Had some one come and told thee that thy lover, twenty- 
four hours perhaps after leaving thee, was courting a base 
servant-girl, and had arranged to pass the night with her, 
thou wouldst have maintained that it was impossible, and 
wouldst have refused to believe it ; scarcely wouldst thou have 
trusted thine eyes and ears. Yet it was so. 

"The conversation lasted some time longer, and was the 
maddest and most shameless in the world ; but through all the 



222 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

facetious exaggeration and the often filthy jests, there was 
apparent a deep and genuine feeling of perfect contempt for 
women, and I learned more during that evening than by reading 
twenty cart-loads of moralists. 

" The monstrous and unheard-of things that I was listening 
to imparted a tinge of sadness and severity to my face, which 
the rest of the guests perceived, and about which they teased 
me good-naturedly ; but my gaiety could not return. I had, 
indeed, suspected that men were not such as they appear to us, 
but yet I did not think that they were so different from their 
masks, and my disgust was not greater than my surprise. 

" I should require only half an hour of such conversation to 
cure a romantic young girl for ever ; it would do her more good 
than any maternal remonstrances. 

' Some boasted of gaining as many women as they pleased, 
and that to do so cost them only a word ; others communicated 
recipes for procuring mistresses, or enlarged upon the tactics to 
be pursued when laying siege to virtue ; others again ridiculed 
the women whose lovers they were, and proclaimed themselves 
the most arrant fools on earth to be attached, in this way, to 
such trulls. They all made light of love. 

" These, then, are the thoughts which they conceal from us 
beneath all their fair appearances ! Who would -ever think 
it, to see them so humble, so cringing, so ready to do any- 
thing ? Ah ! how hardily they raise their heads after their 
conquest, and insolently set the heel of their boot on the 
brow which they used to worship at a distance on their knees ! 
what vengeance they take for their passing abasement ! how 
dearly must their politeness be paid for ! and through what 
many insults they repose after the madrigals they made ! What 
mad brutality of language and thought ! what inelegance of 
manners and deportment ! It is a complete change, and one 
which certainly is not to their advantage. However far my 
previsions might reach, they fell far short of the reality. 

" Ideal, blue flower with heart of gold, blooming all pearly 
with dew beneath the sky of spring, in the scented breath of 
soft dreamings, whose fibrous roots, a thousand times more 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 223 

slender than fairies' silken tresses, sink into the depths of 
our souls with their thousand hair-covered heads to drink in 
thence the purest substance ; flower so sweet and so bitter, 
we cannot pluck thee forth without causing the heart to bleed 
in all its recesses ; from the broken stem ooze red drops, 
which, falling one by one into the lake of our tears, serve 
to measure for us the limping hours of our death-watch by 
the bedside of expiring Love. 

" Ah ! cursed flower, how thou hadst sprung up in my 
soul ! thy branches had multiplied more than nettles in a 
ruin. The young nightingales came to drink from thy cup 
and sing beneath thy shade ; diamond butterflies, with emerald 
wings and ruby eyes, hovered and danced about thy frail gold- 
powdered pistils ; swarms of flaxen bees sucked thy poisonous 
honey without mistrust ; chimeras folded their swan-like wings 
and crossed their lion claws beneath their beauteous throats 
to rest beside thee. The tree of the Hesperides was not 
better guarded ; sylphids gathered the tears of the stars in the 
urns of the lilies, and watered thee each night with their magic 
watering-vessels. 

" Plant of the ideal, more venomous than the manchineel 
or the upas tree, what it costs me, despite thy treacherous 
blossoms and the poison inhaled with thy perfume, to uproot 
thee from my soul ! Neither the cedar of Lebanon, nor the 
gigantic baobab, nor the palm a hundred cubits high, could 
together fill the place which thou didst occupy quite alone, 
little blue flower with heart of gold ! 

" Supper came to an end at last, and we contemplated going 
to bed ; but, as the number of sleepers was double that of the 
beds, it naturally followed that we must go to bed in turn 
or else two together. It was a very simple matter for the 
rest of the company, but not so by any means for me, taking 
into account certain protuberances which were disguised con- 
veniently enough beneath vest and doublet, but which a simple 
shirt would have betrayed in all their damnable roundness; 
and I was certainly little disposed to disclose my incognito in 
favour of any of these gentlemen who at that moment appeared 



224 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

to me veritable and ingenuous monsters, though I afterwards 
found them very decent fellows, and worth at least as much as 
any of their species. 

" He with whom I was to share a bed was fairly drunk. He 
threw himself on the mattress, with one leg and arm hanging 
to the ground, and at once went to sleep, not the sleep of the 
just, but a sleep so profound that if the angel of the last judg- 
ment had come and blown his clarion in his ear he would have 
failed to wake him. Such a sleep greatly simplified the diffi- 
culty; I took off nothing but my doublet and boots, strode 
over the sleeper's body, and stretched myself on the sheets at 
the edge of the bed. 

" I was careful to keep my distance. It was not a bad 
beginning ! I confess that, in spite of my assurance, I was 
singularly troubled. The situation was so strange, so novel, 
that I could scarcely admit that it was not a dream. The 
other slept his best, but I could not close an eye the whole 
night. 

" He was a young man, about twenty-four years of age, with 
rather a handsome face, dark eyelashes, and a nearly blonde 
moustache; his long hair rolled around his head like the 
waves from the inverted urn of a river-god, a light blush 
passed beneath his pale cheeks like a cloud beneath the 
water, his lips were half open and smiling with a vague and 
languid smile. 

" I raised myself upon my elbow, and remained a long time 
watching him by the flickering light of a candle, of which the 
tallow hd nearly all run down in broad sheets, and the wick 
was laden with black wasters. 

" We were separated by a considerable interval. He occu- 
pied one extreme edge of the bed, while I, as an additional 
precaution, had thrown myself quite on the other. 

" What I had heard was assuredly not of a nature to predis 
jose me to tenderness and voluptuousness : I held men in 
ibomination. Nevertheless I was more disquieted and agitated 
tnan I ought to have been : my body did not share in the 
repugnance of my mind so completely as it should have done. 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 225 

My heart was beating violently, I was hot, and on whatevei 
side I turned I could not find repose. 

" The most profound silence reigned in the inn ; you could 
only hear at wide intervals the dull noise caused by the hoof 
of some horse striking the stone-floor in the stable, or the sound 
of a drop of water falling upon the ashes through the shaft of 
the chimney. The candle, reaching the end of the wick, went 
out in smoke. 

" The densest darkness fell like a curtain between us. You 
cannot conceive the effect which the sudden disappearance of 
the light had upon me. It seemed to me as if all were ended, 
and I were never more to see clearly in my life For a moment 
I wished to get up ; but what could I have done ? It was only two 
o'clock in the morning, all the lights were out, and I could not 
wander about like a phantom in a strange house. I was obliged 
to remain where I was and wait for daylight. 

" There I was on my back, with both hands crossed, striving 
to think of something, and always coming back to this : that 
a man was lying near me. At one moment I went so far as 
to wish that he would awake and perceive that I was a woman. 
No doubt the wine that I had drunk, though sparingly, had 
something to do with this extraordinary idea, but I could not 
help recurring to it. I was on the point of stretching out my 
hand towards him, to wake him up, but a fold in the bed- 
clothes which checked my arm prevented me from going 
through with it. Time was thus given me for reflection, and 
while I was freeing my arm, my senses, which I had altogether 
lost, came back to me, not entirely, perhaps, but sufficiently 
to restrain me. 

" How curious it would have been, if I, scornful beauty 
as I was, I who wished to be acquainted with ten years of a 
man's life before giving him my hand to kiss, had surrendered 
myself on a pallet in an inn to the first comer ! and upon my 
word such a thing might have happened. 

" Can a sudden effervescence, a boiling of the blood, so com 
pletely subdue the most superb resolves ? Does the voice of 
the body speak in higher tones than the voice of the mind p 



226 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

Whenever my pride sends too many puffs heavenwards, I bring 
the recollection of that night before its eyes to recall it to earth. 
I am beginning to be of man's opinion : what a poor thing is 
woman's virtue ! on what, good heavens, does it depend ! 

" Ah ! it is vain to seek to spread one's wings, they are 
laden with too much clay ; the body is an anchor which holds 
back the soul to earth : fruitlessly does she open her sails to 
the wind of the loftiest ideas, the vessel remains motionless, as 
though all the remoras of the ocean were clinging to the keel. 
Nature takes pleasure in such sarcasms at our expense. When 
she sees a thought standing on its pride as on a lofty column, 
and nearly touching heaven with its head, she whispers to the 
red fluid to quicken its pace and crowd at the gates of the 
arteries; she commands the temples to sing and the ears to 
tingle, and, behold, giddiness seizes the proud idea. All images 
are blended and confused, the earth seems to undulate like the 
deck of a bark in a storm, the heavens turn round, and the 
stars dance a saraband; the lips which used to utter only 
austere maxims are wrinkled and put forward as though for 
kisses ; the arms so firm to repel grow soft, and become more 
supple and entwining than scarves. Add to this contact with 
an epidermis and a breath across your hair, and all is lost. 

" Often even less is sufficient. A fragrance of foliage coming 
to you from the fields through your half-opened window, the 
sight of two birds billing each other, an opening daisy, an old 
love-song which returns to you in your own despite and which 
you repeat without understanding its meaning, a warm wind 
which troubles and intoxicates you, the softness of your bed or 
divan one of these circumstances is sufficient ; even the soli- 
tude of your room makes you think that it would be comfort- 
able for two, and that no more charming nest could be found 
for a brrod of pleasures. The drawn curtains, the twilight, the 
silence, all bring back to you the fatal idea which brushes you 
with its dove-like wings and coos so sweetly about you. The 
tissues which touch you seem to caress you, and cling with 
amorous folds along your body. Then the young girl opens 
her arms to the first wooer with whom she finds herself alone ; 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 227 

the philosopher leaves his page unfinished, and, with his head 
in his mantle, runs in all haste to assuage his passion. 

" I certainly did not love the man who was causing me such 
strange perturbations. He had no other charm than that he 
was not a woman, and, in the condition in which I found 
myself, this was enough ! A man ! that mysterious thing which 
is concealed from us with so much care, that strange animal, of 
whose history we know so little, that demon or god who alone 
can realise all the dreams of vague voluptuousness wherewith 
the spring-time flatters our sleep, the sole thought that we have 
from fifteen years of age ! 

" A man ! The confused notion of pleasure floated through 
my dulled head. The little that I knew of it kindled my desire 
still more. A burning curiosity urged me to clear up once for 
all the doubts which perplexed me, and were for ever recur- 
ring to my mind. The solution of the problem was over the 
leaf: it was only necessary to turn it, the book was beside 
me. A handsome cavalier, a narrow bed, a dark night ! a 
young girl with a few glasses of champagne in her head ! 
what a suspicious combination ! Well ! the result of it all was 
but a very virtuous nothingness. 

" On the wall, upon which I kept my eyes fixed, I began, in 
the diminishing darkness, to distinguish the position of the 
window ; the panes became less opaque, and the grey light 
of dawn, glancing behind them, restored their transparency ; 
the sky brightened by degrees : it <vas day. You cannot 
imagine the pleasure given me by that pale ray of light on 
the green dye of the Aumale serge which surrounded the 
glorious battlefield whereon my virtue had triumphed over 
my desires ! It seemed to me as though it were my crown 
of victory. 

" As to my companion, he had fallen out on to the ground. 

" I got up, adjusted my dress as quickly as possible, and 
ran to the window ; I opened it, and the morning breeze did 
me good. I placed myself before the looking-glass in order 
to comb my hair, and was astonished at the paleness of my 
countenance, which I had believed to be purple. 



228 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

" The others came in to see whether we were still asleep, 
and pushed their friend with their feet, who did not appear 
much surprised at finding himself where he was. 

" The horses were saddled, and we set out again. 

" But this is enough for to-day. My pen will not write any 
more, and I do not want to mend it ; another time I will 
tell you the rest of my adventures ; meanwhile, love me as I 
love you, well named Graciosa, and do not, from what I have 
just told you, form too bad an opinion of my virtue." 



,0. 






XL 



'ANY things are tiresome. It is tiresome to pay 
hack the money you have borrowed and become 
accustomed to look on as your own ; it is 
tiresome to fondle to-day the woman you loved 
yesterday ; it is tiresome to go to a house at the dinner-hour 
and find that the owners left for the country a month ago ; 
it is tiresome to write a novel, and more tiresome to read 
one ; it is tiresome to have a pimple on your nose and cracked 
lips on the day that you visit the idol of your heart ; it is tire- 
some to wear facetious boots which smile on the pavement 
from every seam, and, above all, to harbour a vacuum behind 
the cobwebs in your pocket ; it is tiresome to be a door-porter ; 
it is tiresome to be an emperor ; it is tiresome to be your- 
self, and even to be some one else ; it is tiresome to go on 
foot because it hurts your corns, on horseback because it 
skins the antithesis of the front, in a coach because a big 
man infallibly makes a pillow of your shoulder, on the packet 
because you are sea-sick and vomit your entire self ; it is 
tiresome to have winter because you shiver, and summer 
because you perspire; but the most tiresome thing on earth, 
in hell, or in heaven is assuredly a tragedy, unless it be a 
drama or a comedy. 

" It really makes my heart ache. What could be more silly 
and stupid ? Are not the great tyrants with voices like 
bulls, who stride across the stage from one wing to the other, 
making their hairy arms go like the wings of a windmill, 
and imprisoned in flesh-coloured stockings, but sorry counter 



30 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

feits of Bluebeard or Bogey ! Their rodomontades might 
make any one who could keep awake burst out laughing. 

" Women who are unfortunate in love are no less ridiculous. 
It is diverting to see them advance, clad in black or white, 
with their hair weeping on their shoulders, sleeves weeping 
on their hands, and their bodies ready to leap from the corset 
like a fruit-stone pressed between the fingers ; looking as if 
they were dragging the floor by the sole of their satin slippers, 
and, in their great impulses of passion, spurning their trains 
backward with a little kick from their heel. The dialogue, 
composed exclusively of Oh ! and Ah ! which they cluck as they 
display their feathers, is truly agreeable food and easy of 
digestion. Their princes are also very charming; they are 
only somewhat dark and melancholy, which does not, how- 
ever, prevent them from being the best companions in the 
world or elsewhere. 

"As to comedy which is to correct manners, and which 
fortunately acquits itself badly enough of its task, the sermons 
of fathers and iterations of uncles are, to my mind, as 
wearisome on the stage as in real life. I am not of opinion 
that the number of fools should be doubled by the repre- 
sentation of them ; there are quite enough of them as it is, 
thank heaven, and the race is not likely to come to an end. 
Where is the necessity of portraying somebody who has a 
pig's snout or ox's muzzle, and of gathering together the trash 
of a clown whom you would throw out of the window if he 
came into your house ? The image of a pedant is no more 
interesting than the pedant himself, and his reflection in a 
mirror does not make him the less a pedant. An actor who 
succeeded in imitating the attitudes and manners of cobblers to 
perfection would not amuse me more than a real cobbler. 

" But there is a theatre which I love, a fantastic, extravagant, 
impossible theatre, in which the worthy public would pitilessly 
hiss from the first scene, for want of understanding a single 
word. 

" It is a singular theatre. Glow-worms take the place of 
Argand lamps, and a scarabaeus, beating time with his antennge, 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 231 

is placed at the desk. The cricket takes his part ; the 
nightingale is first flute ; little sylphs issuing from the peas- 
blossom hold basses of citron-peel between their pretty legs 
which are whiter than ivory, and with mighty power of arm 
move their bows, made with a hair from Titania's eyelash, 
over strings of spiders' thread ; the little wig with its three 
hammers, which the scarabaeus conductor wears, quivers with 
pleasure and diffuses about it a luminous dust, so sweet is the 
harmony and so well executed the overture ! 

" A curtain of butterflies' wings, more delicate than the 
interior pellicle of an egg, rises slowly after the three indis- 
pensable raps. The house is full of the souls of poets seated 
in stalls of mother-of-pearl, and watching the performance 
through dewdrops set on the golden pistils of lilies. These 
are their opera-glasses. 

" The scenery is not like any known scenery ; the country 
which it represents is as strange as was America before its 
discovery. The palette of the richest painter has not half the 
tones with which it is diapered. All is painted in odd and 
singular colours. The verditer, the blue-ash, the ultramarine, 
and the red and yellow lake are in profusion. 

" The sky, which is of a greenish-blue, is striped zebra-wise 
with broad flaxen and tawny bands ; in the middle distance 
spare and slender trees wave their scanty foliage the colour of 
dried roses ; the distance, instead of being drowned in its azure- 
tinted vapour, is of the most beautiful apple-green, and here 
and there escape spirals of golden smoke. A wandering ray 
hangs on the portal of a ruined temple or the spire of a 
tower. Towns full of bell- turrets, pyramids, domes, arcades, 
and ramps, are seated on the hills and reflected in crystal 
lakes ; large trees with broad leaves, deeply carved by the 
chisels of the fairies, inextricably entwine their trunks and 
branches to form the wings. Over their heads the clouds of 
heaven collect like snow-flakes, through their interstices the 
eyes of dwarfs and gnomes are seen to sparkle, and their tortuous 
roots sink into the soil like the finger of a giant-hand. The 
woodpecker keeps time as he taps them with his horny beak, 



232 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

and emerald lizards bask in the sun on the moss at their 
foot. 

"The mushroom looks on at the comedy with his hat on 
his head, like the insolent fellow that he is. The dainty 
violet stands up on her little tiptoes between two blades of 
grass, and opens her blue eyes wide to see the hero pass. 

" The bullfinch and the linnet lean down at the end of 
the boughs to prompt the actors in their parts. 

" Through the tall grasses, the lofty purple thistles and 
the velvet-leaved burdocks, wind, like silver snakes, brooks that 
are formed with the tears of stags at bay. At wide intervals 
anemones are seen shining on the turf like drops of blood, and 
daisies, like veritable duchesses, carrying high their heads laden 
with crowns of pearls. 

" The characters are of no time or country ; they come 
and go without our knowing why or how; they neither eat 
nor drink, they dwell nowhere and have no occupation ; 
they possess neither lands, nor incomes, nor houses ; only 
sometimes they carry under their arm a little box full of 
diamonds as big as pigeons' eggs ; as they walk they do not 
shake a single drop of rain from the heads of the flowers 
nor raise a single grain of the dust on the roads. 

" Their dress is the most extravagant and fantastical in 
the world. Pointed steeple-shaped hats with brims as broad 
as a Chinese parasol and immoderate plumes plucked from the 
tails of the bird of paradise and the phoenix ; cloaks striped 
with brilliant colours, doublets of velvet and brocade, letting 
the satin or silver-cloth lining be seen through their gold- 
laced slashings ; hose puffed and swollen like balloons ; scarlet 
stockings, with embroidered clocks, shoes with high heels 
and large rosettes ; little slender swords, with the point in the 
air and the hilt depressed, covered with cords and ribbons 
so for the men. 

" The women are no less curiously accoutred. 

" The drawings of Delia Bella and Romain de Hooge 
might serve to represent the character of their attire. There 
are stuffed, undulating robes with great folds, whose colours 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 233 

play like those on the necks of turtle-doves, and reflect all 
the changing tints of the iris, large sleeves whence other sleeves 
emerge, ruffs of open-slashed lace rising higher than the head 
which they serve to frame, corsets laden with knots and 
embroideries, aiglets, strange jewels, crests of heron plumes, 
necklaces of big pearls, fans formed from the peacock's tail 
with mirrors in the centre, little slippers and pattens, garlands 
of artificial flowers, spangles, wire-worked gauzes, paint, patches, 
and everything that can add flavour and piquancy to a theatri 
cal toilette. 

" It is a style which is not precisely English, nor German, 
nor French, nor Turkish, nor Spanish, nor Tartar, though it 
partakes somewhat of all these, and is one which has adopted 
what is most graceful and characteristic from every country. 
Actors dressed in this manner may say what they will without 
doing violence to probability. Fancy may rove in all directions, 
style may at its ease unroll its diapered rings like a snake 
basking in the sun ; the most exotic conceits may fearlessly 
spread their singular flower-cups and diffuse around them their 
perfume of amber and musk. Nothing hinders it, neither 
places, nor names, nor costume. 

" How amusing and charming are their utterances ! They 
are not such actors as contort their mouths and make their eyes 
start out of their heads in order to despatch their tirade with 
effect like our dramatic howlers ; they, at least, have not the 
appearance of workmen at their task, or of oxen yoked to the 
action and hastening to get done with it ; they are not plastered 
with chalk and rouge half an inch thick ; they do not carry tin 
daggers nor keep a pig's bladder filled with chicken's blood in 
reserve beneath their cloaks ; they do not trail the same oil- 
stained rags through entire acts. 

" They speak without hurry or clamour, like well-bred 
people who attach no great importance to what they are doing : 
the lover makes his declaration with the easiest air in the 
world ; he taps his thigh with the tip of his white glove, or ad- 
justs the leg of his trousers while he is speaking ; the lady care- 
lessly shakes the dew from her bouquet and exchanges witticisms 

p 



234 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

with her attendant ; the lover takes very little trouble to soften 
his cruel fair : his principal business is to drop clusters of pearls 
and bunches of roses from his lips, and to scatter poetic gems 
like a true spendthrift ; often he effaces himself entirely, and lets 
the author court his mistress in his stead. Jealousy is no fault 
of his, and he is of the most accommodating disposition. With 
his eyes raised to the flies and friezes of the theatre, he com- 
placently waits until the poet has finished saying what has 
taken his fancy, to resume his part and place himself again 
upon his knees. 

" All is woven and unwoven with admirable carelessness : 
effects have no causes, and causes no effects ; the most witty 
character is he who says most absurdities ; the most foolish says 
the wittiest things ; young girls talk in a way that would make 
courtesans blush, and courtesans utter maxims of morality. The 
most unheard-of adventures follow one after another without 
any explanation; the noble father arrives from China in a 
bamboo junk expressly to recognise a little girl who has been 
carried off; gods and fairies do nothing but ascend and de- 
scend in their machines. The action plunges into the sea be- 
neath the topaz dome of the waves, traversing the bottom of 
the ocean through forests of coral and madrepore, or rises to 
heaven on the wings of lark and griffin. 

" The dialogue is most universal : the lion contributes a vigor- 
ously uttered oh ! oh ! the wall speaks through its chinks, and 
provided that he has a witticism, rebus, or pun to interpose, 
any one is free to interrupt the most interesting scene : the 
ass's head of Bottom is as welcome as the golden head of 
Ariel ; the author's mind may be discerned beneath every form, 
and all these contradictions are like so many facets which reflect 
its different aspects while imparting to it the colours of the 
prism. 

" This apparent pell-mell and disorder succeeds after all in 
representing real life with more exactness in its fantastic pre- 
sentations than the most minutely studied drama of manners. 
Every man comprises the whole of humanity within himself, 
and by writing what comes into his head, he succeeds better 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 235 

than by copying through a magnifying glass objects which are 
external to him. 

" What a glorious family ! young romantic lovers, roaming 
damsels, serviceable attendants, caustic buffoons, artless valets 
and peasants, gracious kings, whose names and kingdoms are 
unknown to historian and geographer ; motley graciosos, clowns 
with sharp repartees and miraculous capers ; O you who give 
utterance to free caprice through your smiling lips, I love you 
and adore you among and above all others : Perdita, Rosalind, 
Celia, Pandarus, Parolles, Silvio, Leander, and the rest, all those 
charming types, so false and so true, who, in the checkered 
wings of folly soar above gross reality, and in whom the poet 
personifies his joy, his melancholy, his love, and his most in- 
timate dream beneath the most frivolous and flippant appear- 
ances. 

" Among these plays which were written for the fairies, and 
should be performed by the light of the moon, there is one 
piece which principally delights me a piece so wondering, so 
vagrant, with so vaporous a plot and such singular characters, 
that the author himself, not knowing what title to give it, has 
called it ' As You Like It,' an elastic name which satisfies 
every requirement. 

" When reading this strange piece, you feel that you are 
transported into an unknown world, of which, however, you 
have some vague recollection : you can no longer tell 
whether you are dead or alive, dreaming or awake ; pleasant 
faces smile sweetly on you, and give as they pass you a kindly 
good-day ; you feel moved and troubled at the sight of them, 
as though at the turn of a road you had suddenly met with 
your ideal, or the forgotten phantom of your first mistress 
had suddenly stood before you. Springs flow murmuring half- 
subdued complaints ; the wind stirs the old trees of the ancient 
forest over the head of the aged exiled duke with compassionate 
sighs ; and, when the melancholy Jacques gives his philosophic 
griefs to the stream with the leaves of the willow, it seems to you 
as though you were yourself the speaker, and the most obscure 
and secret thoughts of your heart were illumined and revealed 



236 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

"O young son of the brave knight Rowland des Bois, so ill- 
used by fate ! I cannot but be jealous of thee ; thou hast still 
a faithful servant, the good Adam, whose old age is so green 
beneath the snow of his hair. Thou art banished, but not at 
least until thou hast wrestled and triumphed ; thy wicked brother 
robs thee of all thine estate, but Rosalind gives thee the chain 
from her neck ; thou art poor, but thou art loved ; thou leavest 
thy country, but the daughter of thy persecutor follows thee 
beyond the seas. 

" The dark Ardennes open their great arms of foliage to 
receive thee and conceal thee ; the good forest, in the depths of 
its grottos, heaps its most silky moss to form thy couch ; it 
stoops its arches above thy brow to protect thee from rain and 
sun ; it pities thee with the tears of its springs and the sighs of its 
belling fawns and deer ; it makes of its rocks kindly desks for 
thy amorous epistles ; it lends thee thorns from its bushes where- 
with to hang them, and commands the satin bark of its aspen 
trees to yield to the point of thy stiletto when thou wouldst 
grave thereon the character of Rosalind. 

" If only it were possible, young Orlando, to have like thee 
a great and shady forest that one might retire and be alone in 
his pain, and, at the turning of a walk meet the sought for she, 
recognisable though disguised ! But alas ! the world of the 
soul has no verdant Ardennes, and only in the garden of poetry 
bloom the wild, capricious little flowers whose perfume gives 
complete forgetfulness. In vain do we shed tears : they form 
not'those fair silvery cascades; in vain do we sigh : no kindly 
echo troubles to return us our complaints graced with asson- 
ances and conceits. Vainly do we hang sonnets on the prickles 
of every bramble : Rosalind never gathers them, and it is for 
nothing that we gash the bark of the trees with amorous 
characters. 

" Birds of the sky lend me each a feather, swallow no less 
than eagle, and humming bird than roc, that I may make me a 
pair of wings to fly high and fast through regions unknown, 
where I may find nothing to bring back to my recollection the 
city of the living, where I may forget that I am myself, and live 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 237 

a life strange and new, farther than America, than Africa, 
than Asia, than the last island of the world, through the ocean 
of ice, beyond the pole where trembles the aurora borealis, in 
the impalpable kingdom whither the divine creations of the 
poets and the types of supreme beauty take their flight. 

" How is it possible to sustain ordinary conversations in 
clubs and drawing-rooms after hearing thee speak, sparkling 
Mercutio, whose every phrase bursts in gold and silver rain like 
a firework shell beneath a star-strewn sky ? Pale Desdemona, 
what pleasure wouldst thou have us take in any terrestrial music 
after the romance of the Willow? What women seem not 
ugly beside your Venuses, ancient sculptors, poets in marble 
strophes ? 

" Ah ! despite the furious embrace with which I wished to 
clasp the material world for lack of the other, I feel that I 
have an evil nature, that life was not made for me, and that it 
repulses me ; I cannot concern myself with anything : what- 
ever road I follow I go astray ; the smooth alley and the stony 
path alike lead me to the abyss. If I wish to take my flight 
the air condenses about me, and I am caught with my wings 
spread and unable to close them. I can neither walk nor fly ; 
the sky attracts me when I am on earth, and the earth when I 
am in the sky ; above, the north wind tears away my plumes ; 
below, the pebbles wound my feet. My soles are too tender 
to walk upon the broken glass of reality ; my wings of too short 
a span to soar above things, and rise from circle to circle into 
the azure depths of mysticism, even to the inaccessible summits 
of eternal love ; I am the most unfortunate hippogriff, the most 
wretched heap of heterogeneous pieces that ever existed, since 
ocean first loved the moon and man was deceived by woman : 
the monstrous Chimaera slain by Bellerophon, with its maiden's 
head, lion's paws, goat's body, and dragon's tail, was an animal 
of simple composition in comparison with me. 

" In my frail breast dwell together the violet-strewn dreamings 
of the chaste young girl and the mad burnings of revelling 
courtesans : my desires go, like lions, sharpening their claws in 
the shade and seeking for something to devour ; my thoughts, 



238 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN 

more feverish and restless than goats, cling to the most menac- 
ing crests; my hatred, poison-puffed, twists its scaly folds in 
inextricable knots, and drags itself at length through ruts and 
ravines. 

" A strange land is my soul, a land flourishing and splendid 
in appearance, but more saturated with putrid and deleterious 
nuisances than the land of Batavia : the least ray of sunshine 
on the slime causes reptiles to hatch and mosquitoes to swarm ; 
the large yellow tulips, the nagassaris and the angsoka flowers 
pompously veil unclean carrion. The amorous rose opens her 
.scailet lips, and smiling shows her little dewdrop teeth to the 
wooing nightingales who repeat madrigals and sonnets to her : 
nothing could be more charming ; but the odds are a hundred 
to one that there is a dropsical toad in the grass beneath the 
bushes, crawling on limping feet and silvering his path with 
his slime. 

" There are springs more limpid and clear than the purest 
diamond ; but it would be better for you to draw the stag- 
nant water of the marsh beneath its cloak of rotten rushes 
and drowned dogs than to dip your cup in such a wave. A 
serpent is hidden at the bottom, and wheels round with frightful 
quickness as he discharges his venom. 

" You planted wheat, and there springs up asphodel, henbane, 
darnel, and pale hemlock with verdigris branches. Instead 
of the root which you had buried, you are astonished to see 
emerging from the earth the hairy, twisted limbs of the dark 
mandragora. 

" If you leave a souvenir, and should come to take it again 
some time afterwards, you will find it greener with moss and 
more abounding with woodlice and disgusting insects than a 
stone placed on the dank floor of a cave. 

" Seek not to cross its dark forests ; they are more im- 
practicable than the virgin forests of America or the jungles 
of Java. Creepers, strong as cables, run from one tree to 
another ; plants bristling and pointed like spear-heads obstrucf 
every passage; the grass itself is covered with a scorching 
down like that of the nettle. To the arches of foliage gigantic 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 239 

bats of the vampire kind cling by their claws ; scarabees of 
enormous size shake their threatening horns and lash the air 
with their quadruple wings ; monstrous and fantastic animals, 
such as are seen passing in nightmares, advance painfully 
breaking the reeds before them. There are troops of elephants 
crushing the flies between the wrinkles of their dried skin 
or rubbing their flanks along the stones and trees, rhinoceroses 
with rugose carapace, hippopotami with swollen muzzle and 
bristling hair, which, as they go, knead the mud and detritus 
of the forest with their broad feet. 

" In the glades, yonder where the sun thrusts in a luminous 
ray like a wedge of gold, across the dank humidity, at the 
place where you would have wished to seat yourself, you 
will always find some family of tigers carelessly couched, 
breathing the air through their nostrils, winking their sea- 
green eyes and glossing their velvety fur with their blood- 
red, papillae-covered tongues ; or, it may be, a knot of boa 
serpents half asleep and digesting the bull they swallowed 
last. 

"Dread everything grass, fruit, water, air, shadow, sun, 
everything is mortal. 

" Close your ear to the chatter of the little paroquets, 
with golden beak and emerald neck, which descend from the 
trees and come and perch on your finger with throbbing wings ; 
for the little emerald-necked paroquets will finish by prettily 
putting out your eyes with their golden beaks at the moment 
that you are bending down to kiss them. So it is ! 

"The world will have none of me; it repulses me as a 
spectre escaped from the tombs, and I am nearly as pale as 
one. My blood refuses to believe that I am alive, and will 
not colour my skin ; it creeps slowly through my veins 
like stagnant water in obstructed canals. My heart beats for 
nothing which causes the heart of man to beat. My griefs 
and joys are not those of my fellow-creatures. I have 
vehemently desired what nobody desires ; I have scorned things 
which are madly longed for. I have loved women when they 
did not love me, and I have been loved when I would fain have 



240 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

been hated. Always too soon or too late, more or less, on this 
side or on that; never what ought to have been ; either I have 
not arrived, or I have been too far. I have flung my life 
through the windows, or concentrated it upon a single point, 
and from the restless activity of the ardelio I have come to the 
dull somnolence of the teriaki and the stylite on his column. 

" What I do has always the appearance of a dream ; my 
actions seem to be the result rather of somnambulism than of 
a free-will ; there is something within me which I feel 
vaguely at a great depth, and which causes me to act without 
my own participation and always independently of general 
laws ; the simple and natural side of things is never revealed 
to me until after all the others, and at first I always fasten 
upon what is eccentric and odd. However slightly the line 
may slant I soon make it into a spiral more twisted than a ser- 
pent ; outlines, if they are not fixed in the most precise manner, 
become confused and distorted. Faces assume a supernatural 
air, and look at you with frightful eyes. 

"Thus, by a species of instinctive reaction, I have always 
clung desperately to matter, to the external silhouette of things, 
and in art have always given a very important place to the plastic. 
I understand a statue perfectly, while I cannot understand 
a man ; where life begins, I stop and shrink back affrighted, 
as though I had seen Medusa's head. The phenomenon of 
life causes me an astonishment which I cannot overcome. 
No doubt I shall make an excellent dead man, for I am a 
very poor living one, and the sense of my existence com- 
pletely escapes me. The sound of my voice surprises me 
to an unimaginable degree, and I might be tempted sometimes 
to take it for the voice of another. When I wish to stretch 
forth my arm, and my arm obeys me, the fact seems quite 
a prodigious one to me, and I sink into the profoundest 
stupefaction. 

"On the other hand, Silvio, I have a perfect comprehen- 
sion of the unintelligible ; the most extravagant notions seem 
quite natural to me, and I enter into them with singular 
facility. I can find with ease the connection of the most 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 241 

capricious and disordered nightmare. This is the reason why 
the kind of pieces I was just speaking to you about pleases me 
beyond all others. 

" We have great discussions on this subject with Theodore 
and Rosette. Rosette has little liking for my system, she is for 
the true truth ; Theodore gives more latitude to the poet, 
and admits a conventional and optical truth ; for my part, 
I maintain that the author must have a clear stage and that 
fancy should reign supreme. 

" Many of the company grounded their arguments chiefly 
on the fact that such pieces were, as a general rule, indepen- 
dent of theatrical conditions and could not be performed ; I 
replied that this was true in one sense and false in another, 
like nearly everything that is said, and that the ideas enter- 
tained respecting scenic possibilities and impossibilities ap- 
peared to me to be wanting in exactness, and to be the result 
rather of prejudices than of reason. Among other things, I 
said that the piece 'As You Like It' was assuredly most 
presentable, especially for people in society who were not 
practised in other parts. 

" This suggested the idea of performing it. The season is 
advancing, and we have exhausted every description of 
amusement ; we are tired of hunting, and of parties on horse- 
back, or on the water ; the chances of boston, varied as they 
are, have not piquancy enough to fill up an evening, and the 
proposal was received with universal enthusiasm. 

" A young man who knew how to paint volunteered to make 
the scenery ; he is working at it now with much ardour, and in 
a few days it will be finished. The stage is erected in the 
orangery, which is the largest hall in the mansion, and I think 
that everything will turn out well. I am taking the part of 
Orlando, and Rosette was to have played Rosalind, which was 
a most proper arrangement. As my mistress, and the mistress of 
the house, the part fell toiler of right ; but owing to a caprice 
singular enough in her, prudery not being one of her faults, 
she would not disguise herself as a man. Had I not been sure 
of the contrary, I should have believed that her legs were badly 



242 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN, 

shaped. Actually none of the ladies of the party would show 
herself less scrupulous than Rosette, and this nearly caused the 
failure of the piece ; but Theodore, who had taken the part of 
the melancholy Jaques, offered to replace her, seeing that 
Rosalind is a cavalier nearly the whole time, except in the first 
act where she is a woman, and that with paint, corset, and 
dress, he will be able to effect the illusion sufficiently well, 
having as yet no beard, and being of a very slight figure. 

" We are engaged in learning our parts, and it is something 
curious to see us. In every solitary nook in the park you are 
sure to find some one, paper in hand, muttering phrases in a 
whisper, raising his eyes to heaven, suddenly casting them 
down, and repeating the same gesture seven or eight times. If it 
were not known that we are to perform a comedy, we should 
assuredly be taken for a houseful of lunatics or poets (which is 
almost a pleonasm). 

" I think that we shall soon know enough to have a rehearsal. 
I am expecting something very singular. Perhaps I am wrong. 
I was afraid for a moment that instead of playing by inspiration 
our actors would endeavour to reproduce the attitudes and 
voice-inflections of some fashionable performer ; but fortunately 
they have not watched the stage with sufficient accuracy to fall 
into this inconvenience, and it is to be expected that, through 
the awkwardness of people who have never trod the boards, they 
will display precious flashes of nature and that charming ingenu- 
ousness which the most consummate talent cannot reproduce. 
" Our young painter has truly wrought wonders. It would 
be impossible to give a stranger shape to the old trunks of trees 
and the ivy which entwines them ; he has taken pattern by 
those in the park, accentuating and exaggerating them as is 
necessary for the stage. Everything is expressed with admir- 
able boldness and caprice ; stones, rocks, clouds, are of a 
mysteriously grimacing form ; mirror-like reflections play on 
the trembling waters which are less stable than quicksilver, and 
the ordinary coldness of the foliage is marvellously relieved by 
saffron tints dashed in by the brush of autumn ; the forest 
varies from emerald green to cornelian purple ; the warmest and 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 243 

the freshest tones show harmoniously together, and the sky 
itself passes from the softest blue to the most burning colours. 

" He has designed all the costumes after my instructions, and 
they are of the handsomest description. At first the performers 
cried that they could not be produced in silk or velvet nor 
in any known material, and I nearly saw the moment when 
troubadour costume was to be generally adopted. The ladies 
said that such glaring colours would eclipse their eyes. To 
which we replied that their eyes were stars which were perfectly 
inextinguishable, and that on the contrary it was their eyes that 
would eclipse the colours, and even, if need were, the Argand 
lamps, the lustre, and the sun. They had no reply to this; 
but there were other objections which kept springing up in 
a bristling crowd like the Lernean hydra ; no sooner was the 
head of one cut off than another more obstinate and more 
stupid would arise. 

" ' How do you think this will keep together ? ' ' It is all very 
well on paper, but it is another matter when on one's back ; I 
shall never be able to get into that ! ' ' My petticoat is at least 
four finger-lengths too short ; I shall never dare to show myself 
in that disguise ! ' ' This ruff is too high ; I look as if I were a 
hunchback and had no neck.' 'This headdress makes me look 
intolerably old.' 

" ' With starch, pins, and good-will, everything will hold.' 
' You are joking ! a waist like yours, more frail than a wasp's, 
and one which would go through the ring on my little finger ! I 
will wager twenty-five louis to a kiss that it will be necessary to 
take in this bodice ! ' ' Your petticoat is very far from being 
too short, and if you knew what an adorable leg you have, you 
would most certainly be of my opinion.' 'On the contrary, 
your neck stands out and is admirably set off by its aureola of 
lace.' ' This headdress does not make you look old in the least, 
and, even if you appeared to be a few years older, you are so 
extremely young that this ought to be a matter of perfect indif- 
ference to you ; indeed, you would give us grounds for strange 
suspicions if we did not know where the pieces of your last 
doll are ' etc. 



244 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUP1N. 

" You cannot imagine what a prodigious quantity of madri- 
gals we were obliged to dispense in order to compel our ladies 
to put on charming costumes which were most becoming to 
them. 

" We found it equally troublesome to induce them to place 
their patches in an appropriate manner. What a devil of a taste 
women have ! and what Titanic obstinacy possesses a vapourish, 
foppish woman who believes that glazed straw-yellow suits her 
better than jonquil or bright rose-colour. I am sure that if 
I had devoted to public affairs half the artifices and intrigues 
that I have employed in order to have a red feather placed 
on the left and not on the right, I should be a minister of state 
or emperor at the least. 

" What a pandemonium ! what an enormous and inextric- 
able rout must a real theatre be ! 

" From the time that the performance of a comedy was first 
spoken of, everything here has been in the most complete 
disorder. All the drawers are opened, all the wardrobes 
emptied; it is genuine pillage. Tables, easy-chairs, consoles, 
everything is littered, and a person does not know where to 
set his foot. Trailing about the house are prodigious quantities 
of dresses, mantelets, veils, petticoats, cloaks, caps, and hats; 
and when you think that all these are to be arranged on the 
bodies of seven or eight persons, you involuntarily think of 
those mountebanks at the fair who wear eight or ten coats one 
over another, and you find it impossible to conceive that the 
whole of this heap will only furnish one costume for each. 

" The servants are constantly coming and going ; there are 
always two or three on the road from the mansion to the 
town, and if this continues all the horses will become 
broken-winded. 

" A theatrical manager has no time to be melancholy, and I 
have seldom been so for some time past. I am so deafened 
and overwhelmed that I am beginning to lose all understanding 
of the piece. As I support the character of impresario as well 
as that of Orlando, my task is a twofold one. When any diffi- 
culty arises recourse is had to me, and as my decisions are not 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 245 

always listened to as oracles, they degenerate into interminable 
discussions. 

" If what is called living is to be always on one's legs, to be 
equal to twenty persons, to go up and down stairs and not to 
think for a minute during the day, I have never lived so much 
as during this week. Nevertheless, I have a smaller share in 
this animation than might be believed. The agitation is very 
shallow, and the stagnant, unflowing water might be found a 
few fathoms below ; life does not penetrate me so readily as 
that, and my vitality is even the smallest when I seem to be 
working and engaging in what is going on. Action dulls and 
fatigues me to an extent which is inconceivable ; when I am 
not employed actively, I think or at least dream, and this is a 
sort of existence, but I lose it as soon as I emerge from my 
porcelain-image repose. 

" Up to the present I have done nothing, and I do not know 
whether I shall ever do anything. I cannot check my brain, 
which is all the difference between a man of talent and a man 
of genius ; it is an endless boiling, wave urging wave ; I can- 
not master this species of internal jet which rises from my 
heart to my head, and, for want of outlets, drowns all my 
thoughts. I can produce nothing, owing not to sterility, but to 
superabundance ; my ideas spring up so thick-set and close 
that they are stifled and cannot ripen. Never will execution, 
however rapid and impetuous it may be, attain to such velocity. 
When I write a phrase, the thought which it represents is 
already as far distant from me as though a century had elapsed 
instead of a second, and it often happens that in spite of myself 
I mingle with it something of the thought which has taken its 
place in my head. 

" This is why I cannot live, whether as a poet or as a lover. 
I can only give out the ideas which have left me ; I have women 
only when I have forgotten them, and am loving others; 
a man, how can I bring forth my wish to the light since, hasten 
as I may, I lose the consciousness of what I do, and act only 
in accordance with a feeble reminiscence ? 

" To come upon a thought in a vein of your brain, to take it 



246 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

out rude at first like a block of marble as it is got from the 
quarry, to set it before you and, with a chisel in one hand and 
a hammer in the other, to knock, cut, and scrape from morning 
till evening, and then carry off at night a pinch of dust to 
throw upon your writing that is what I shall never be able 
to do. 

" In idea I can separate the slender form from the coarse 
block very well, and have a very clear vision of it ; but there 
are so many angles to knock away, so many splinters to make 
fly, so many strokes of rasp and hammer to be given in order 
to come near to the shape and lay hold on the just sinuosity of 
the contour, that my hands become blistered, and I let my 
chisel fall to the ground. 

" If I persevere, the fatigue reaches such a degree of intensity 
that my inmost sight is totally darkened, and I can no longer 
distinguish through the cloud of marble the fair divinity which 
is concealed within its thickness. Then I pursue her at ran- 
dom and in groping fashion ; I bite too deeply into one place, 
and do not go far enough into another ; I take away what 
ought to have been a leg or an arm, and leave a compact mass 
where there ought to have been a void ; instead of a goddess I 
make a grotesque, and sometimes even less, and the magnifi- 
cent block drawn at so great expense and with so much toil 
from the entrails of the earth, hammered, cut, and hollowed 
out in all directions, looks more as if it had been gnawed and 
perforated by polyps to make a hive than fashioned by a 
statuary after a settled design. 

" How dost thou contrive, Michael Angelo, to cut the marble 
in slices as a child carves a chestnut? of what steel were 
thine unconquered chisels formed ? and what sturdy sides sus- 
tained you, all ye fertile artists and workers, whom no matter 
can resist, and who can cause your dream to flow entire into 
colour and bronze ? 

" It is in a fashion an innocent and permissible vanity, after 
the cruel things that I have just told you of myself, and you 
will not be one to blame me for it, O Silvio ! but, though the 
universe be destined to know nothing of it, and my name be 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 247 

beforehand devoted to oblivion, I am a poet and a painter ! I 
have had as beautiful ideas as any poet in the world ; I have 
created types as pure and as divine as those that are most 
admired in the masters. I see them there before me as clear 
and as distinct as though they were really depicted, and were I 
able to open up a hole in my head, and place a glass in it to 
be looked through, there would be the most marvellous picture 
gallery that was ever seen. No earthly king can boast the 
possession of such a one. There are Rubenses as flaming and 
bright as the purest at Antwerp ; my Raphaels are in the best 
state of preservation, and his Madonnas have no more gracious 
smiles ; Buonarotti cannot contort a muscle in bolder and more 
terrible fashion ; the sun of Venice shines upon this canvas as 
though it were signed ' Paulus Cagliari ; ' the shadows of Rem- 
brandt himself are heaped in the background of that frame 
where in the distance there trembles a pale star of light ; the 
pictures wrought in the manner peculiar to myself would 
assuredly be scorned by none. 

" I am quite aware that it looks strange for me to say this, 
and that I shall appear giddy with the coarse intoxication of the 
most foolish pride ; but it is so, and nothing will shake my con- 
viction of it. No one doubtless will share it ; what then ? 
Every one is born marked with a black or a white seal. Mine 
apparently is black. 

" Sometimes, even, I have difficulty in covering up my 
thought sufficiently in this respect ; it often happens that I speak 
too familiarly of these lofty geniuses whose footsteps should be 
adored, and whose statues should be contemplated from afar 
and on the knees. Once I forgot myself so far as to say ' We.' 
Happily it was before a person who did not notice it, else I 
should infallibly have been taken for the most enormous 
coxcomb that ever lived. 

" I am a poet and a painter, Silvio ; am I not ? 

" It is a mistake to believe that all those who have passed for 
having genius were really greater men than others. It is un- 
known how much was contributed to Raphael's reputation by 
the pupils and obscure painters whom he employed in his 



248 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

works ; he gave his signature to the soul and talents of many 
that is all. 

" A great painter or a great writer occupies and fills by him- 
self a whole century ; his only care is to invade all styles at once, 
so that if a rival should start up he may accuse him at the very 
outset of plagiarism and check him at the first step in his 
career. These are well-known tactics, and though not new, 
succeed none the less every day. 

" It may happen that a man who is already celebrated has 
precisely the same sort of talent that you would have had. 
Under penalty of being thought to copy him, you are obliged to 
turn aside your natural inspiration and cause it to take a diffe- 
rent direction. You were born to blow full-mouthed on the 
heroic clarion or to evoke the wan phantoms of times that are 
no more, and you are obliged to play your fingers on the seven- 
holed flute or to make knots on a sofa in the recesses of some 
boudoir, simply because your father did not take the trouble 
to cast you in a mould eight or ten years sooner, and the world 
does not understand that two men may cultivate the same field. 

" It is in this way that many noble intellects have been 
forced to take wittingly a path which is not theirs, and to keep 
for ever along the borders of their own domain from which they 
have been banished, happy still to cast a glance by stealth over 
the hedge, and to see on the other side blooming in the 
sun the beautiful variegated flowers which they possess as 
seeds but cannot sow for lack of soil. 

" As regards myself, I do not know whether, apart from the 
greater or less opportuneness of circumstances, the greater or 
less amount of air and sun, the door which has remained closed 
and which ought to have been opened, the meeting lost, the 
somebody whom I ought to have known and whom I have not 
known, I should have ever attained to anything. 

" I have not the necessary degree of stupidity to become 
what is absolutely called a genius, nor the enormous obstinacy 
which is afterwards deified under the fine name of ' will,' when 
the great man has arrived at the radiant mountain-top, and which 
is indispensable for reaching the latter ; I am too well acquainted 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 24-) 

with the hollowness of all things and the rottenness that is in 
them, to cling for very long to any one of them and pursue it 
eagerly and solely through thick and thin. 

" Men of genius are very narrow-minded, and it is on this 
account that they are men of genius. The want of intelligence pre- 
vents them from perceiving the obstacles which separate them 
from the object which they desire to reach; they go, and in two or 
three strides devour the intermediate spaces. As their minds 
are obstinately closed to certain courses, and they notice only 
such things as are the most immediately connected with their 
projects, they make a much smaller outlay of thought and 
action. Nothing distracts them, nothing turns them aside, they 
act rather by instinct than otherwise, and many when taken out 
of their special groove are mere ciphers in a way that it is diffi- 
cult to understand. 

" The making of good verses is assuredly a rare and charming 
gift ; few people take more pleasure than I do in matters of 
poetry ; but yet I cannot limit and circumscribe my life within 
the twelve feet of an Alexandrine ; there are a thousand things 
which disquiet me as much as a hemistich. It is not the condi- 
tion of society and the reforms that should be made ; 1 care 
little enough whether the peasants know how to read or not. 
and whether men eat bread or browse on grass; but a huncued 
thousand visions pass through my head in an hour which have 
not the least connection with caesura or rhyme, aiid it is thit 
which causes me to execute so little, although I have more ideas 
than certain poets who might be burnt with their own works. 

" I worship beauty and feel it ; I can express it as well as tht 
most amorous statuaries can comprehend it, and yet I sculpture 
nothing. The ugliness and imperfection of the rough sketch 
revolt me ; I cannot wait until, by dint of polishing and re- 
polishing, the work finally succeeds ; if I could make up my 
mind to leave certain things in my work alone, whether in verse 
or in painting, I might perhaps in the end produce a poem or a 
picture that would make me famous, and those who love me (if 
there is anyone in the world who takes the trouble to do so) 
would not be obliged to believe in me on trust, and would have 



25J MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

a triumphant reply to the sardonic sneerings of the detractors of 
that great but unknown genius myself. 

" I see many men who will take palette and pencils and cover 
their canvas without any great anxiety concerning what caprice 
is producing at the extremity of their brush, and others who will 
write a hundred verses one after another without making an 
erasure or once raising their eyes to the ceiling. I always 
admire themselves, even if I sometimes fail to admire their pro- 
ductions ; from my heart I envy the charming intrepidity and 
happy blindness which prevent them from seeing even their 
most palpable faults. As soon as I have drawn anything wrong 
I see it at once, and am pre-occupied with it beyond measure ; 
and as [ am far more accomplished in theory than in practice, 
it very often happens that I am unable to correct a mistake of 
which I am conscious. In that event I turn the canvas with its 
face to the wall and never go back to it again. 

" The idea of perfection is so present with me, that I am 
instantly seized with distaste for my work and prevented from 
carrying it on. 

" Ah ! when I compare its ugly pout on canvas or paper with 
the soft smiles of my thought, when I see a frightful bat 
passing in place of the beautiful dream that spread its long wings 
of light upon the bosom of my nights, when I see a thistle 
springing up from the idea of a rose, and hear an ass's bray 
where I looked for the sweetest melodies of the nightingale, I 
am so horribly disappointed, so angry with myself, so furious at 
my own impotence that I resolve never again to write or speak 
a single word of my life rather than thus commit crimes of high 
treason against my thoughts. 

" I cannot even succeed in writing such a letter as I should 
wish. I often say something quite different ; some portions are 
excessively developed, others dwindle away so as to become 
imperceptible, while frequently the idea which I intended to 
express is absent, or present only in a postscript. 

"When commencing to write to you I had certainly no 
intention of telling you one-half of what I have said. I was 
merely going to inform you that we were about to act a play ; 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIJN. 251 

but a word leads to a phrase ; parentheses are big with other 
little parentheses which again contain others ready to be 
brought forth. There is no reason why such writing should 
come to an end, and should not extend to two hundred folio 
volumes, which would assuredly be too much. 

" As soon as I take up my pen a buzzing and a rustling of 
wings begin in my brain as though multitudes of cockchafers 
were set free within it. There is a knocking against the sides 
of my skull, a turning, ascending and descending with horrible 
noise ; it is my thoughts which are fain to fly away, and are 
seeking for an outlet ; they all endeavour to come forth at 
once ; more than one breaks its legs and tears the crape of its 
wing in the attempt : sometimes the door is so blocked up 
that not one can cross the threshold and reach the paper. 

"Such is my nature. Not an excellent one doubtless, but 
what can I do ? The fault rests with the gods and not with 
me, poor helpless devil that I am. I have no need to entreat 
your indulgence, my dear Silvio ; I have it beforehand, and 
you are so kind as to read my illegible scrawlings, my headless 
and tailless dreamings, through to the end. However un- 
connected and absurd they may be they have always interest 
for you because they come from me, and anything that is 
myself, even if it be not good, is not altogether without value 
in your eyes. 

" I may let you see what is most revolting to the generality 
of men sincere pride. But a truce for a while to all these 
fine things, and since I am writing to you about the piece that 
we are to perform, let us return to it and say something 
about it. 

"The rehearsal took place to-day. I was never so confused 
in my life, not owing to the embarassment inseparable from 
reciting anything before so many people, but from another 
cause. We were in costume and ready to begin ; The'odore 
alone had not yet arrived. A message was sent to his room to 
know what was keeping him ; he replied that he was just ready 
and was coming down. 

' He came in fact. I heard his step in the corridor long 



252 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

before he appeared, and yet no one in the world has a lighter 
step than Theodore ; but the sympathy which I feel with him is 
so powerful that I can in a measure divine his movements 
through the walls, and, when I knew that he was abouf to lay 
his hand on the handle of the door, I was seized with a kind of 
trembling, and my heart beat with horrible violence. It seemed 
to me that something of importance in my life was about to be 
decided, and that I had reached a solemn and long-expected 
moment. 

" The door opened slowly and closed in the same way. 

"There was a general cry of admiration. The men 
applauded, and the women grew scarlet. Rosette alone became 
extremely pale and leaned against the wall, as though a sudden 
revelation were passing through her brain. She made in a 
contrary direction, the same movement as I did. I always 
suspected her of loving Theodore. 

" No doubt she at that moment believed as I did that the 
pretended Rosalind was really nothing less than a young and 
beautiful woman, and the frail card-castle of her hope all at once 
gave way, while mine rose upon its ruins ; at least this is what 
I thought : I may, perhaps, be mistaken, for I was scarcely in 
a condition to make accurate observations. 

" There were three or four pretty women present, without 
counting Rosette ; they appeared to be revoltingly ugly. 
By the side of this sun the star of their beauty was suddenly 
eclipsed, and everyone was asking how it had been possible to 
think them even passable. Men who previously would have 
esteemed themselves most fortunate to have them as mistresses, 
would scarcely have been willing to take them as servants. 

" The image which, till then, had shown itself only feebly 
and with vague outlines, the phantom that I had worshipped 
and vainly pursued was there before my eyes, living, palpable, 
no longer in twilight and vapour, but bathed in floods of white 
light ; not in a vain disguise, but in its real costume ; no longer 
in the derisive form of a young man, but with the features of the 
most charming woman. 

" I experienced a sensation of enormous comfort, as though 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN 253 

a mountain or two had been lifted off my breast I felt my 
self-horror vanishing, and was released from the pain of regard- 
ing myself as a monster. I came again to conceive quite a 
pastoral opinion of myself, and all the violets of spring bloomed 
once more in my heart. 

" He, or rather she (for I wish henceforth to forget that I had 
the stupidity to take her for a man) remained motionless for a 
minute on the threshold of the room, as though to give the 
gathering time to utter its first exclamation. A bright ray lit 
her up from head to foot, and on the dark back-ground of the 
corridor which receded far into the distance behind, the carved 
door case serving her as a frame, she shone as though the light 
had emanated from her instead of being merely reflected, and 
she might rather have been taken for a marvellous production of 
the brush than for a human creature made of flesh and bone. 

" Her long brown hair, intermingled with strings of great 
pearls, fell in natural ringlets along her lovely cheeks ! her 
shoulders and breast were uncovered, and I had never seen 
any in the world so beautiful ; the sublimest marble cannot 
come near to such exquisite perfection. To see the life coursing 
beneath the clouded transparency ! how white and yet so 
ruddy the flesh ! how happily the harmonious golden tints 
effect the transition from skin to hair ! what entrancing poems 
in the soft undulations of these outlines, more supple and velvety 
than the neck of a swan ! Were there words to express what 
I feel I would give you a description fifty pages long ; but 
languages were made by some scoundrels or other who had never 
gazed attentively on a woman's back or bosom, and we do 
not possess half of the most indispensable terms. 

" I decidedly believe that I must become a sculptor, for to 
see such beauty and to be unable to express it in one way or 
another is sufficient to make a man furious and mad. I have 
made twenty sonnets to these shoulders but that is not enough : 
I should like something which I could touch with my finger 
and which would be exactly like ; verses express only the phan- 
tom of beauty and not beauty itself. The painter attains to a 
more accurate semblance, but it is only a semblance. Sculpture 



254 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

has all the reality that anything completely false can possess ; 
it has a multiple aspect, casts a shadow and may be touched. 
Your sculptured differs from your veritable mistress only in this 
that she is a little harder and does not speak two very trifling 
defects ! 

" Her dress was made of a stuff of varying colour, azure in 
the light, and golden in the shade ; a well and close fitting boot 
was on a foot which, apart from this, was excessively small, and 
stockings of scarlet silk wound amorously round a most shapely 
and enticing leg ; her arms which were bare to the elbows and 
emerged from a cluster of lace, were round, plump, and white, as 
splendid as polished silver, and with unimaginably delicate line- 
aments ; her hands, which were laden with jewellery, were softly 
swaying a large fan of singularly variegated feathers, which 
looked like a little pocket rainbow. 

" She advanced into the room, her cheeks slightly kindled with 
a red which was not paint, and everyone was in raptures, crying 
out and asking whether it was really possible that it could be he, 
Theodore de Sdrannes, the daring rider, the demon duellist, 
the determined hunter, and whether he was perfectly sure that 
it was not his twin sister. 

" But you would think that he had never worn any other 
costume in his life ! His movements are not in the least em- 
barrassed, he walks very well, and does not get entangled in his 
train ; he ogles and flirts with his fan in a ravishing mannei ! 
and his waist is so slender ! you might enclose it with your 
fingers ! It is extraordinary, inconceivable ! The illusion .is as 
complete as it can be : you would almost think that he had a 
bosom, his breast is so devoloped and well filled, and then 
not a hair on his face, not a single one ; and his voice so sweet ! 
Oh ! the beautiful Rosalind ! and who would not wish to be her 
Orlando ? 

" Yes, who would not wish to be the Orlando of such a 
Rosalind, even at the cost of the torments I have suffered ? 
To love as I did with a monstrous love which could not be 
confessed and yet which could not be uprooted from your heart ; 
to be condemned to keep the profoundest silence, and to shrink 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 255 

from indulging in what the most discreet and respectful lover 
might fearlessly say to the most prudish and severe of women f 
to feel yourself devoured by insane longings without excuse even 
in the eyes of the most abandoned libertines ; what are ordinary 
passions to such a one as that, a passion ashamed of itself and 
hopeless, whose improbable success would be a crime and would 
cause you to die of shame? To be reduced to wish for failure, 
to dread favourable chances and opportunities, and to avoid 
them as another would seek them such was my fate. 

" The deepest discouragement had taken possession of me ; 
I looked upon myself with horror, mingled with surprise and 
curiosity. What was most revolting to me was the thought that 
I had never loved before, and that this was my first effervescence 
of youth, the first Easter-daisy in the spring-tide of my love. 

"This monstrosity took the place with me of the fresh 
and chaste illusions of early years; my fondly cherished dreams 
of tenderness at evening on the skirts of the woods, down the 
little reddening paths, or along the white marble terraces, near 
the sheet of water in the park, were then to be metamorphosed into 
this perfidious sphinx with doubtful smile and ambiguous voice, 
and before which I stood without venturing to undertake the solu- 
tion of the enigma! To interpret it wrongly would have caused my 
death ; for, alas ! it is the only tie which unites me to the world ; 
when it is broken, all will be over. Take from me this spark 
and I shall be more gloomy and inanimate than the band-swathed 
mummy of the most ancient Pharaoh. 

On the occasions when I felt myself most forcibly drawn 
towards Theodore, I would throw myself back with dismay into 
the arms of Rosette, although she was infinitely displeasing to 
me ; I tried to interpose her like a barrier and shield between 
myself and him, and I felt a secret satisfaction when lying beside 
her in thinking that she had been proved to be a woman, and 
that although I had ceased to love, I was still loved by het 
sufficiently well to prevent our union from degenerating into 
intrigue and debauch. 

" Nevertheless, at the bottom of my heart, I felt through all 
this a kind of regret at being thus faithless to the idea of my 



256 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

impossible passion ; I felt resentful against myself for, as it were, 
an act of treason, and, though I well knew that I should never 
possess the object of my love, I was discontented with myself, 
and resumed my coldness towards Rosette. 

" The rehearsal was much better than I had hoped for ; 
Theodore especially proved admirable ; it was also considered 
that I acted uncommonly well. This, however, was not because 
I possess the qualities necessary to make a good actor, and it 
would be a great mistake to suppose me capable of taking other 
parts in the same fashion but, through rather a singular chance, 
the words which I had to utter agreed with my situation so well, 
that they seemed to me to have been invented by myself rather 
than learnt by heart from a book. Had my memory failed me 
at certain passages, I should certainly not have hesitated for a 
minute before supplying the void with an improvised phrase. 
Orlando was I, at least, as much as I was Orlando ; it would be 
impossible to meet with a more wonderful coincidence. 

" In the wrestling scene, when Thdodore unfastened the chain 
from his neck and presented it to me, in accordance with his 
part, he cast upon me so sweetly languorous and promising a 
look, and uttered the sentence : 

' Gentleman, 

Wear this for me, one out of suits with fortune 
That could give more but that her hand lacks means," 

with such grace and nobility, that I was really troubled by it 
and could scarcely go on : 

' What passion hangs these weights upon my tongue ? 
I cannot speak to her, yet she urged conference. 
O poor Orlando ! ' 

" In the third act Rosalind, dressed like a man and under the 
name of Ganymede, reappears with her cousin, Celia, who has 
changed her name to Aliena. 

" This made a disagreeable impression upon me. I had 
already become so well accustomed to the feminine costume 
which indulged my desires with some hopes, and kept me in a 
perfidious but seducing error ! We very soon come to look 
upon our wishes as realities on the testimony of the most fleet- 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN 257 

ing appearances, and I became quite gloomy when The'odore 
reappeared in his man's dress, more gloomy than I had been 
before ; for joy only serves to make us feel grief more keenly; 
the sun strives only to give us a better understanding of the 
horror of darkness, and the gaiety of white is only intended to 
give relief to all the sadness of black. 

" His coat was the most gallant and coquettish in the world, 
of an elegant and capricious cut, all adorned with trimmings 
and ribbons, nearly in the style of the wits of the court of 
Louis XIII ; a pointed felt hat with a long curled feather 
shaded the ringlets of his beautiful hair, and the lower part of 
his travelling cloak svas raised by a long damaskeened sword. 

"Yet he was dressed in such a way as to give one a 
presentiment that these manly clothes had a feminine lining ; a 
breadth of hip, a fullness of bosom, and a sort of undulation 
never seen in cloth on the body of a man, left but slight doubts 
respecting the person's sex. 

" He had a half deliberate, half timid manner which was 
most diverting, and, with infinite art, he assumed as em- 
barassed an appearance in a costume which was his usual one> 
as he had seemed to be at his ease in garments which were not 
his own. 

" My serenity returned to some extent, and I persuaded 
myself afresh that it was really a woman. I recovered sufficient 
composure to play my part in a fitting manner. 

" Do you know this piece ? Perhaps not. For the last 
fortnight I have done nothing but read it and declaim it, I 
know it entirely by heart, and I cannot imagine that everybody 
is not as conversant with its knot and plot as I am myself. I 
fall commonly enough into the error of believing that when I 
am drunk all creation is fuddled and incapable, and if I knew 
Hebrew I would to a certainty ask my servant in Hebrew for 
my dressing-gown and slippers, and be very much astonished 
that he did not understand me. You will read it if you wish ; 
I shall assume that you have read it and only touch upon such 
passages as have some bearing upon my situation. 

" Rosalind, when walking in the forest with her cousin, is 



258 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

greatly astonished to find thatinstead of blackberries and sloes 
the bushes bear madrigals in her praise : strange fruits which 
fortunately do not grow on brambles as a rule ; for when you 
are thirsty it is better to find good blackberries on the branches 
than bad sonnets. She is very anxious to know who has 
spoiled the bark of the young trees in this way by cutting the 
letters of her name upon it. Celia, who has already en- 
countered Orlando, tells her, after many entreaties, that the 
rhymer is none other than the young man who vanquished the 
Duke's athlete Charles, in the wrestling match. 

"Soon Orlando himself appears, and Rosalind enters into 
conversation with him by asking him what o'clock it is. 
Certes, this opening is simple in the extreme ; nothing in the 
world could be more homely. But be not afraid : from this 
commonplace and vulgar phrase you will see gathered in a 
harvest of unexpected conceits, full of flowers and whimsical 
comparisons as from the most vigorous and best manured soil. 

" After some lines of sparkling dialogue, whose every word, 
falling on the phrase, causes millions of sportive spangles to fly 
right and left like a hammer on a red-hot iron bar, Rosalind 
asks Orlando whether peradventure he may know the man who 
hangs odes on hawthorns and elegies on brambles, and who 
seems to have the quotidian of love upon him, an ill which she 
is quite able to cure. Orlando confesses that it is he that is so 
tormented by love, and asks her to do him the favour of show- 
ing him a remedy for this sickness, seeing that she has boasted 
of having several infallible ones for its cure. 'You in love?' 
replies Rosalind; ' you have none of the marks whereby a lover 
may be known ; you have neither a lean cheek nor a blue and 
sunken eye ; your hose is not ungartered, nor your sleeve 
unbuttoned, and your shoe is most gracefully tied ; if you are 
in love with anyone it is assuredly with yourself, and you need 
not my remedies.' 

" It was not without genuine emotion that I replied textually 
as follows : 

" ' Fair youth, I would I could make thee believe I 
love..' 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 259 

" This answer so unexpected and strange, which is led up to 
by nothing, and had seemingly been written expressly for me as 
though by a species of provision on the part of the poet, greatly 
affected me as I uttered it standing before The'odore, whose 
divine lips were still slightly swelled with the ironic expression 
of the phrase that he had just spoken, while his eyes smiled 
with inexpressible sweetness, and a bright ray of kindness 
gilded all the loftiness of his young and beautiful countenance. 

" ' Me believe it ! You may as soon make her that you love 
believe it ; which I warrant she is apter to do, than to confess 
she does ; that is one of the points in the which women still 
give the lie to their consciences. But, in good sooth, are you 
he that hangs these fair praises of Rosalind on the trees, and 
have you truly need of a remedy for your madness ? ' 

" When she is quite satisfied that it is he, Orlando, and none 
other, who has rhymed these admirable verses going on so 
many feet, beautiful Rosalind consents to tell him her recipe. 
Its composition was as follows : She pretended to be the beloved 
of the love-sick suitor, who was obliged to woo her as though 
she had been his very mistress, and to cure him of his passion 
she indulged in the most extravagant caprices ; would now 
weep and then smile ; one day entertain him, another forswear 
him ; would scratch him and spit in his face, and not for a 
single moment be like herself : fantastical, inconstant, prudish, 
and languishing, she was all these in turns and the poor 
wretch had to endure or execute all the unruly fancies 
engendered by weariness, vapours, and the blues in the hollow 
head of a frivolous woman. A goblin, an ape, and an attorney 
all in one had not devised more maliciousness. This 
miraculous treatment had not failed to produce its effect ; the 
sick one was driven from his mad humour of love into a living 
humour of madness which was to forswear the full stream of 
the world and to live in a nook truly monastic ; a most satis- 
factory result, and one, too, which might easily be expected. 

" Orlando, as may well be believed, is not very anxious to 
recover his health by such means ; but Rosalind insists and is 
desirous of undertaking the cure. She uttered the sentence : 



260 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

' I would cure you if you would but call me Rosalind, and come 
every day to my cote and woo me,' with so marked and visible 
an intention, and casting on me so strange a look, that I found 
it impossible not to give it a wider meaning than belongs to the 
words, nor see in it an indirect admonition to declare my true 
feelings. And when Orlando replies : ' With all my heart, 
good youth,' it was in a still more significant manner, and with 
a sort of spite at failing to make herself understood, that she 
uttered the reply : ' Nay, you must call me Rosalind.' 

" Perhaps I was mistaken and thought I saw what had really 
no existence, but it seemed to me that Thdodore, had perceived 
my love, though I had most certainly never spoken a word of 
it to him, and that he was alluding, through the veil of these 
borrowed expressions, beaneath this theatrical mask and in these 
hermaphrodite words to his real sex and to our mutual situation. 
It is quite impossible that so spiritual and refined a woman as she 
is should not have distinguished, from the very beginning, what 
was passing in my soul. In the absence of my words, my eyes 
and troubled air spoke plainly enough, and the veil of ardent 
friendship which I had cast over my love, was not so impene- 
trable that it could not be easily pierced by an attentive and 
interested observer. The most innocent and inexperienced 
girl would not have been checked by it for a moment. 

"Some important reason, and one that I cannot discover, doubt- 
less compels the fair one to this cursed disguise, which has been 
the cause of all my torments and was nearly making a strange 
lover of me : but for this, everything would have gone evenly 
and easily like a carriage with well greased wheels on a level and 
finely sanded road; I might have abandoned myself with sweet 
security to the most amorously vagrant dreamings, and taken in 
my hands the little white silky hand of my divinity without 
shuddering with horror, or shrinking twenty paces back as 
though I had touched a red-hot iron, or felt the claws of 
Beelzebub in person. 

" Instead of being in despair and as agitated as a real 
maniac, of doing my utmost to feel remorse and of grieving 
because I failed, I should have said to myself every morning, 



MADEMOISELLE DE MACJriN. 261 

stretching my arms with a sense of duty done and conscience 
at rest : ' I am in love,' a sentence as agreeable to say to your- 
self in the morning with your head on a soft pillow, and warm 
bed-clothes covering you, as any other imaginable sentence of 
four words, always excepting this one: 'I have money.' 

" After rising I should have placed myself before my glass, 
and there, looking at myself with a sort of respect, have waxed 
tender, as I combed my hair, over my poetic paleness, resolving 
at the same time to turn it to good account and duly make the 
most of it, for nothing can be viler than to make love with a 
scarlet phiz ; and when you are so unfortunate as to be ruddy 
and in love, circumstances which may come together, I am of 
opinion that you should flour your physiognomy daily or 
renounce refinement and stick to the Margots and Toinons. 

" I should then have breakfasted with compunction and 
gravity in order to nourish this dear body, this precious box of 
passion, to compose sound, amorous chyle and quick, hot blood 
for it from the juice of meat and game, and keep it in a con- 
dition to afford pleasure to charitable souls. 

" Breakfast finished, and while picking my teeth, I should 
have woven a few heteroclite rhymes after the manner of a 
sonnet, and all in honour of my mistress ; I should have found 
out a thousand little comparisons, each more unusual than 
another, and infinitely gallant. In the first quatrain there 
would have been a dance of suns, and in the second a minuet 
of theological virtues ; the two tercets would not have been of 
an inferior style ; Helen would have been treated like an inn- 
servant, and Paris like an idiot ; the East would have had 
nothing to be envied for in the magnificence of metaphor ; the 
last line, especially, would have been particularly admirable 
and would have contained at least two conceits in a syllable ; 
for a scorpion's venom is in its tail, and the merit of a sonnet 
is in the last line. 

"The sonnet completed and well and duly transcribed on 
glazed and perfumed paper, I should have left the house a 
hundred cubits tall, bending my head lest I should knock 
against the sky and be caught in the clouds (a wise precaution), 



262 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

and should have gone and recited my new production to all 
my friends and enemies, then to infants at the breast of their 
nurses, then to the horses and donkeys, then to the walls and 
trees, just to know the opinion of creation respecting the last 
product of my vein. 

" In social circles I should have spoken with women in a 
doctoral manner, and maintained sentimental theses in a grave 
and measured tone of voice, like a man who knows much more 
than he cares to say concerning the subject in hand, and has 
not acquired his knowledge from books ; a style which never 
fails to produce a prodigious effect, and causes all the women 
in the company who have ceased to mention their age, and the 
few little girls not invited to dance to turn up the whites of 
their eyes. 

" I might have led the happiest life in the world, treading on 
the pug-dog's tail without its mistress making too great an 
outcry, upsetting tables laden with china, and eating the 
choicest morsel at table without leaving any for the rest of the 
party. All this would have been excused out of consideration 
for the well-known absent-mindedness of lovers ; and as they 
saw me swallowing up everything with a wild look, everyone 
would have clasped his hands and said, ' Poor fellow ! ' 

" And then the dreamy, doleful air, the dishevelled hair, the 
untidy stockings, the slack cravat, the great hanging arms that 
I should have had ! how I should have hastened through the 
avenues in the park, now swiftly, now slowly, after the fashion of 
a man whose reason is completely gone ! How I should have 
stared at the moon and made rings in the water with profound 
tranquillity ! 

" But the gods have ordained it otherwise. 

" I am smitten with a beauty in doublet and boots, with a 
proud Bradamant who scorns the garments of her sex, and 
leaves you at times wavering amid the most disquieting perplexi- 
ties ; her features and body are indeed the features and body of 
a woman, but her mind is unquestionably that of a man. 

" My mistress is most proficient with the sword, and might 
teach the most experienced fencing master's assistant ; she has 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 263 

had I do not know how many duels, and has killed or wounded 
three or four persons ; she clears ditches ten feet wide on horse- 
back, and hunts like an old country squire singular qualities for 
a mistress ! such things never happen except with me. 

" I laugh, but I have certainly no cause for doing so, for I 
never suffered so much, and the last two months seemed to me 
like two years or rather two centuries. There was an ebb and 
flow of uncertainties in my head sufficient to stupefy the 
strongest brain ; I was so violently agitated and pulled in all 
directions, I had such furious transports, such dull atonies, such 
extravagant hopes and such deep despairs, that I really do not 
know how it was that I did not die from the pain of it. This 
idea so occupied and possessed me that I was astonished that 
it was not seen clearly through my body like a candle in a 
lantern, and I was in mortal terror lest someone should chance 
to discover the object of my insane love. 

" However, Rosette, being the person most interested in 
watching the movements of my heart, appeared to perceive 
nothing ; I believe that she was too much engaged in loving 
Theodore to pay attention to my cooling towards her ; otherwise 
I must be a master of the art of dissimulation, and I am not 
so conceited as to have this belief. The'odore himself up to 
that day never showed that he had the faintest suspicion of the 
condition of my soul, and always spoke to me in a familiar and 
friendly fashion, as a well-bred young fellow speaks to another 
of his own age nothing more. His conversation with me 
used to turn on all sorts of subjects, arts, poetry, and other 
similar matters, but never on anything of an intimate and exact 
nature having reference to himself or to me. 

" It may be that the motives compelling him to this disguise 
have ceased to exist, and that he will soon resume the dress 
that is suitable for him. This I do not know ; the fact remains 
that Rosalind uttered certain words with peculiar inflexions, and 
in a very marked manner emphasized all the passages in her 
part which had an ambiguous meaning and might point in a 
particular direction. 

"In the trysting scene, from the moment when she reproaches 



264 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

Orlando for not coming two hours too soon as would befit a 
genuine lover instead of two hours too late, until the sorrowful 
sigh which, fearful at the extent of her passion, she heaves as 
she throws herself into Aliena's arms : ' O coz, coz, my pretty 
little coz, that thou didst know how many fathoms deep I am 
in love ! ' she displayed miraculous talent. It was an irresistible 
blending of tenderness, melancholy, and love; there was a 
trembling and agitation in her voice, and behind the laugh 
might be felt the most violent love ready to burst forth ; add 
to this all the piquancy and singularity of the transposition and 
the novelty of seeing a young man woo a mistress whom he 
takes for a man, and who has all the appearance of one. 

" Expressions which in other situations would have appeared 
ordinary and common-place, were in ours thrown into peculiar 
relief, and all the small change of amorous comparisons and 
protestations in vogue on the stage seemed struck with quite a 
new stamp ; besides, had the thoughts, instead of being rare 
and charming as they are, been more worn than a judge's robe 
or the crupper of a hired donkey, the style in which they were 
delivered would have caused them to be apparently character- 
ized by the most marvellous refinement and best taste in the 
world. 

" I forgot to tell you that Rosette, after declining the part of 
Rosalind, compliantly undertook the secondary part of Phoebe. 
Phoebe is a shepherdess in the forest of Arden, loved to dis- 
traction by the shepherd Silvius, whom she cannot endure, and 
whom she overwhelms with consistent harshness. Phoebe is as 
cold as the moon whose name she bears ; she has a heart of 
snow which is not to be melted by the fire of the most burning 
sighs, but whose icy crust constantly thickens and hardens like 
diamond ; but scarcely has she seen Rosalind in the dress of 
the handsome page Ganymede, than all this ice dissolves to 
tears, and the diamond becomes softer than wax. 

" The haughty Phoebe who laughed at love, is herself in love, 
and now suffers the torments which she formerly made others 
endure. Her pride is humbled so far as to make every 
advance , she sends poor Silvius to Rosalind with an ardent 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 265 

letter containing the avowal of her passion in most humble and 
supplicating terms. Rosalind, touched with pity for Silvius, 
and having, moreover, most excellent reasons for not respond- 
ing to Phoebe's love, subjects her to the harshest treatment, and 
mocks her with unparalleled cruelty and animosity. Never- 
theless, Phoebe prefers these outrages to the most delicate and 
mpassioned madrigals from her hapless shepherd ; she follows 
the handsome stranger everywhere, and, by dint of her impor- 
tunities, extracts the promise, the most favourable she can ob- 
tain, that if ever he marries a woman, he will most certainly 
marry her ; meanwhile he binds her to treat Silvius well, and 
not to nurse too flattering a hope. 

" Rosette acquitted herself of her part with a sad, fond grace 
and a tone of mournful resignation which went to the heart ; 
and when Rosalind said to her, ' I would love you if I could,' 
the tears were on the point of overflowing her eyes, and she 
found it difficult to restrain them, for Phoebe's history is hers, 
just as Orlando's is mine, with the difference that everything 
turns out happily for Orlando, while Phoebe, deceived in her 
love, is reduced to marrying Silvius, instead of the charming 
ideal she would fain embrace. Life is ordered thus : that 
which makes the happiness of one, makes of necessity the mis- 
fortune of another. It is very fortunate for me that Theodore 
is a woman ; it is very unfortunate for Rosette that he is not 
a man ; and she now finds herself amid the amorous impossi- 
bilities in which I was lately lost. 

" At the end of the piece Rosalind lays aside the doublet of 
the page Ganymede for the garments of her sex, and makes 
herself known to the duke as his daughter, and to Orlando as 
his mistress. The god Hymen then arrives with his saffron 
livery and lawful torches. Three marriages take place Orlando 
weds Rosalind, Phoebe Silvius, and the facetious Touchstone 
the artless Audrey. Then comes the salutation of the epilogue, 
and the curtain falls. 

" We have been very greatly interested and occupied with aP 
this. It was in some measure a play within a play, an invisible 
drama unknown to the audience, which we acted for ourselves 

u 



266 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

alone, and which, in symbolical words, summed up our entire 
life, and expressed our most hidden desires. Without Rosa- 
lind's singular recipe, I should have become more sick than 
ever, without even the hope of a distant cure, and should have 
continued to wander sadly through the crooked paths of the 
dark forest. 

" Nevertheless, I have only a moral certainty ; I am without 
proofs, and I cannot remain any longer in this state of un- 
certainty ; I really must speak to Theodore in a more definite 
manner. I have gone up to him twenty times with a sentence 
prepared, and could not manage to utter it I dare not ; I have 
many opportunities of speaking to him alone, either in the park 
or in my room, or in his own, for he visits me, and I him, but 
I let them slip without availing myself of them, although the 
next moment I feel mortal regret, and fall into horrible 
passions with myself. I open my mouth, and, in spite of my- 
self, other words take the place of those that I would utter ; in- 
stead of declaring my love, I enlarge upon the rain or the fine 
weather, or some other similar stupidity. Yet the season is 
drawing to a close, and we shall soon return to town ; the 
facilities which here are opened up favourably to my desires 
will never be met with again. We shall perhaps lose sight of 
each other, and opposite currents will no doubt carry us away. 

" Country freedom is so charming and convenient a thing ! 
the trees, even when they have lost some of their leaves in 
autumn, afford such delicious shades to the dreamings of in- 
cipient love! it is difficult to resist amid the surroundings of 
beautiful nature ! the birds have such languorous songs, the 
flowers such intoxicating scents, the backs of the hills such 
golden and silky turf! Solitude inspires you with a thousand 
voluptuous thoughts, which the whirlwind of the world would 
hive scattered or have caused to fly hither and thither, and 
the instinctive movement of two beings listening to the beating 
of their hearts in the silence of the deserted country is to 
entwine the arms more closely and enfold each otner, as 
though they were indeed the only living creatures in the world 

" I was out walking this morning ; the weather was mild 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 267 

and damp, and though the sky gave no glimpse of the smallest 
lozenge of azure, it was neither dark nor lowering. Two or 
three tones of pearl-grey, harmoniously blended, bathed it from 
end to end, and across this vaporous background cottony 
clouds, like large pieces of wool, passed slowly along; they 
were being driven by the dying breath of a little breeze, scarcely 
strong enough to shake the summits of the most restless aspens ; 
flakes of mist were rising among the tall chestnut-trees and 
marking the course of the river in the distance. When the 
breeze took breath again, parched and reddened leaves would 
scatter in agitation and hasten along the path before me like 
swarms of timid sparrows ; then the breath ceasing, they would 
sink down a few paces further on a true image of those 
natures which seem to be birds flying freely with their wings, 
but which after all are only leaves withered by the morning 
frost, the toy and sport of the slightest passing breeze. 

" The distance was stumped with vapour and the fringes of 
the horizon ravelled on the border in such a manner that it was 
scarcely possible to determine the exact point at which the 
earth ended and the sky began : a grey which was somewhat 
more opaque, and a mist which was somewhat more dense, 
vaguely indicating the separation and the difference of the 
planes. Through this curtain the willows, with their ashen 
tops, looked like spectral rather than real trees, and the curves 
of the hills had a greater resemblance to the undulations of an 
accumulation of clouds than to the bearings of solid ground. 
The outlines of objects wavered to the eye, and a species ot 
grey weft of unspeakable fineness, like a spider's web, stretched 
between the foreground of the landscape and the retreating 
depths behind ; in shaded places the hatchings were much 
more clearly drawn, displaying the meshes of the network ; in 
the brighter parts this misty thread was imperceptible, and 
became lost in a diffused light. In the air there was some- 
thing drowsy, damply warm, and sweetly dull, which strangely 
predisposed to melancholy. 

" As I went along I thought that with me too autumn was 
come and the radiant summer vanished never to return ; the 



268 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

tree of my soul was perhaps stripped even barer than the trees 
of the forests ; only, on the loftiest bough a single green little 
leaf remained, swaying, and quivering, and full of sadness to see 
its sisters leave it one by one. 

" Remain on the tree, O little leaf the colour of hope, cling 
to the bough with all the strength of thy ribs and fibres ; let 
not thyself be dismayed by the whistlings of the wind, O good 
little leaf ! for, when thou art gone, who will mark whether 
I be a dead or a living tree, and who will restrain the woodman 
that he cut not my foot with blows of his axe nor make faggots 
of my boughs ? It is not yet the time when trees are bare of 
leaves, and the sun may yet rid himself of the misty swaddling- 
clothes which are about him. 

"This sight of the dying season impressed me greatly. I 
thought that time was flying fast, and that I might die without 
clasping my ideal to my heart. 

" As I returned home I formed a resolution. Since I could 
not make up my mind to speak, I wrote all my destiny on 
a sheet of paper. Perhaps it is ridiculous to write to some one 
living in the same house with you, and whom you may see any 
day at any hour ; but I am no longer one to consider what is 
ridiculous or not. 

"I sealed my letter not without trembling and changing colour; 
then, choosing a time when Theodore was out, I placed it on the 
middle of his table, and fled with as much agitation as though I 
had performed the most abominable action in the world." 






XII. 



PROMISED you the continuation of my adven 
tures ; but I am so lazy about writing, that I really 
must love you as the apple of my eye, and know 
that you are more inquisitive than Eve or Psyche, 
to be a.Dle to sit down before a table with a large sheet of white 
paper which is to be turned quite black, and an ink-bottle 
deeper than the sea, whose every drop must turn into thoughts, 
or something like them, without coming to the sudden resolu- 
tion of mounting on horseback and going at full speed over 
the eighty enormous leagues which separate us, to tell you 
vira-voce what I am going to scrawl to you in imperceptible 
lines, so that I may not be frightened myself at the prodigious 
volume of my Picaresque odyssey. 

" Eighty leagues ! to think that there is all this space- 
between me and the person whom I love best in the world ! 
I have a great mind to tear up my letter and have my horse 
saddled. But I forgot ; in the dress that I am wearing I could 
not approach you and resume the familiar life which we used to 
lead together when we were very ingenuous and innocent little 
girls. If I ever go back to petticoats, it will certainly be from 
this motive. 

" I left you, I think, at the departure from the inn where 1 
had passed such a comical night, and where my virtue was 
nearly making shipwreck as it was leaving the harbour. We all 
set out together, going in the same direction. My com- 
panions were in the greatest raptures over the beauty of my 
horse, which is, in fact, a thoroughbred, and one of the best 



270 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

coursers in existence; this raised me at least half a cubit 
in their estimation, and they added all my mount's deserts 
to my own. Nevertheless, they seemed to fear that it was 
too frisky and spirited for me. I bade them calm their fears, 
and to show them that there was no danger, made it curvet 
several times; then I cleared rather a high fence, and set 
off at a gallop. 

" The band tried in vain to follow me ; I turned bridle when 
I was far enough away, and returned at full speed to meet 
them ; when I was close to them I checked my horse as 
he was launched out on his four feet and stopped him short, 
which, as you know, or, as you do not know, is a genuine 
feat of strength. 

" From esteem they passed at a bound to the profoundest 
respect They had not suspected that a young scholar, who 
had only just left the university, was so good a horseman as 
all that This discovery that they made was of greater ser- 
vice to me than if they had recognised in me every theological 
and cardinal virtue ; instead of treating me as a youngster they 
spoke to me with a tone of obsequious familiarity which was 
very gratifying to me. 

" I had not laid aside my pride with my clothes : being no 
longer a woman, I wished to be in every respect a man, and 
not to be satisfied with having merely the external appearance 
of one. I had made up my mind to have as a gentleman 
the success to which, in the character of a woman, I could 
no longer pretend. What I was most anxious about was 
to know how I should proceed in order to possess courage ; 
for courage and skill in bodily exercises are the means by 
which men find it easiest to establish their reputation. It 
is not that I am timid for a woman, and I am devoid of the 
idiotic pusillanimity to be seen in many; but from this to the 
fierce and heedless brutality which is the glory of men there 
still remains a wide interval, and my intention was to become a 
little fire-eater, a hector like men of fashion, so that I might be 
on a good footing in society and enjoy all the advantages of my 
metamorphosis. 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 271 

" But the course of events showed me that nothing was easier, 
and that the recipe for it was very simple. 

" I will not relate to you, after the custom of travellers, 
that I did so many leagues on such a day, and went from such 
a place to such another, that the roast at the White Horse 
or the Iron Cross was raw or burnt, the wine sour, and the 
bed in which I slept hung with figured or flowered curtains : 
such details are very important and fitting to be preserved for 
posterity ; but posterity must do without them for once, and 
you must submit to be ignorant of the number of dishes com- 
posing my dinner, and whether I slept well or ill during the 
course of my travels. 

" Nor shall I give you an exact description of the different 
landscapes, the corn-fields and forests, the various modes of 
cultivation and the hamlet-laden hills which passed in succession 
before my eyes : it is easy to imagine them ; take a little earth, 
plant a few trees and some blades of grass in it, daub on a bit 
of greyish or pale blue sky behind, and you will have a very 
sufficient idea of the moving background against which our 
little caravan was to be seen. If, in my first letter, I entered 
into some details of the kind, pray excuse me, I will not relapse 
into the same fault again : as I had never gone out before, the 
least thing seemed to me of enormous importance. 

" One of the gentlemen, the sharer of my bed, he whom 
I had nearly pulled by the sleeve in that memorable night 
the agonies of which I have described to you at length, con 
ceived a great passion for me, and kept his horse by the side of 
mine the whole time. 

" Except that I would not have accepted him for a lover 
though he brought me the fairest crown in the world, he was 
not at all displeasing ; he was well-informed, and was not without 
wit and good-humour : only, when he spoke of women, he did 
so with an air of contempt and irony, for which I would most 
willingly have torn both his eyes out of his head, and this the 
more because, for all its exaggeration, there was a great deal in 
what he said that was cruelly true, and the justice of which my 
man's attire compelled me to admit. 



272 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

" He invited me so pressingly and so often to go with him 
on a visit to one of his sisters, whose widowhood was nearly 
over, and who was then living at an old mansion with one of his 
aunts, that I could not refuse him. I made a few objections 
for form's sake, for in reality I was as ready to go there as any- 
where else, and I could attain my end as well in this fashion 
as in another ; and, as he assured me that he would feel quite 
offended if I did not give him at least a fortnight, I replied that 
I was willing, and that the matter was settled. 

" At a branching of the road, my companion, pointing to the 
right stroke of this natural Y, said to me ! ' It is down there ! ' 
The rest gave us a grasp of the hand and departed in the other 
direction. 

" After a few hours' travelling we reached our destination. 

" A moat, which was rather broad, but which was filled with 
abundant and bushy vegetation instead of with water, separated 
the park from the high-road ; it was lined with freestone, and 
the angles bristled with gigantic iron spikes, which looked as 
if they had grown like natural plants between the disjointed 
blocks of the wall. A little one-arched bridge crossed this dry 
channel and gave access to the gateway. 

" An avenue of lofty elms, arched like an arbour and cut in 
the old style, appeared before you first of all ; and, after following 
it for some time, you arrived at a kind of cross-roads. 

" The trees looked superannuated rather than old ; they 
appeared to be wearing wigs and white powder ; only a little 
tuft of foliage had been spared to them quite at the top ; all the 
remainder was carefully pruned, so that they might have been 
taken for huge plumes planted at intervals in the ground. 

' After leaving the cross-way, which was covered with fine, 
carefully-rolled grass, you had then to pass beneath a curious 
piece of foliage architecture ornamented with fire-pots, pyramids 
and rustic columns, all wrought with the assistance of sheais 
and hedgebills in an enormous clump of box. In different 
perspectives to right and left might be seen now a half-ruined 
rock-work castle, now the moss-eaten staircase of a dried-up 
waterfall, or perhaps a vase, or a statue of a nymph and shepherd 



iMADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 273 

with nose and fingers broken and some pigeons perched on 
their shoulders and head. 

" A large flower-garden, laid out in the French style, stretched 
before the mansion ; all the divisions were traced with box and 
holly in the most rigorously symmetrical manner ; it had quite 
as much the appearance of a carpet as of a garden : large 
flowers in ball-dress, with majestic bearing and serene air, like 
duchesses preparing to dance a minuet, bent their heads slightly 
to you as you passed; others, apparently less polished, remained 
stiff and motionless, like dowagers working tapestry. Shrubs of 
every possible shape, always excepting the natural one, round, 
square, pointed and triangular, in green and grey boxes, seemed 
to walk in procession along the great avenue, and lead you by 
the hand to the foot of the steps. 

" A few turrets, half entangled in more recent constructions, 
rose above the line of the building by the whole height of theii 
slate extinguishers, and their dove-tailed vanes of iron-plate 
bore witness to a sufficiently honourable antiquity. The win- 
dows of the pavilion in the centre all opened upon a common 
balcony ornamented with a very rich and highly-wrought iron 
balustrade, and the rest were surrounded with stone facings 
jculptured in figures and knots. 

" Four or five large dogs ran up with open-mouthed barkings 
and prodigious gambols. They frisked about the horses, jump- 
ing up to their noses, and gave a special welcome to my 
comrade's horse, which probably they often visited in the 
stable or followed out-of-doors. 

" A kind of servant, looking half labourer and half groom, at . 
last appeared at all this noise, and taking our beasts by the 
bridle led them away. I had not as yet seen a living soul, with 
the exception of a little peasant-girl, as timid and wild as a deer, 
who had fled at the sight of us and crouched down in a furrow 
behind some hemp, although we had called to her over and 
over again, and done all we could to reassure her. 

" No one was to be seen at the windows ; you would have 
thought that the mansion was not inhabited at all, or only by. 
spirits, for not the slightest sound could be hea'ri from without, 



274 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

u We were beginning to ascend the steps, jingling our spurs, 
for our legs were rather numb, when we heard a noise inside 
like the opening and shutting of doors, as if some one were 
hastening to meet us. 

" In fact, a young woman appeared at the top of the steps, 
cleared the space separating her from my companion at a single 
bound, and threw herself on his neck. He embraced her most 
affectionately, and putting his arm round her waist, and almost 
lifting her up, carried her in this way to the top. 

" ' Do you know that you are very amiable and polite for a 
brother, my dear Alcibiades ? It is not at all unnecessary, sir, 
is it, to apprise you that he is my brother, for he certainly has 
scarcely the ways of one ? ' said the young and fair one turning 
towards me. 

" To which I replied that a mistake might possibly be made 
about it, and that it was in some measure a misfortune to be 
her brother and be thus excluded from the list of her adorers ; 
and that were this my case, I should become at once the happiest 
and most miserable cavalier on the earth. This made her 
smile gently. 

" Talking thus we entered a parlour, the walls of which were 
decorated with high-warped Flanders tapestry. There were 
large trees, with sharp pointed leaves, supporting swarms of fan- 
tastic birds ; the colours, altered by time, showed strange trans- 
positions of tints ; the sky was green, the trees royal blue with 
yellow lights, and in the drapery of the figures the shadow 
was often of an opposite colour to the ground formed by the 
material ; the flesh resembled wood, and the nymphs walking 
beneath the faded shades of the forest looked like unswathed 
mummies ; their mouths alone, the purple of which had preserved 
its primitive tint, smiled with an appearance of life. In the 
foreground bristled tall plants of singular green, with broad - 
striped flowers, the pistils of which resembled peacocks' crests. 
Herons with serious and thoughtful air, their heads sunk be- 
tween their shoulders, and their long beaks resting on their 
plump crops, stood philosophically on one of their thin legs in 
black and stagnant water streaked with tarnished silver threads; 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 275 

through the foliage there were distant glimpses of little mansions 
with turrets like pepper-boxes and balconies filled with beautiful 
ladies in grand attire watching processions or hunts pass by. 

" Capriciously indented rockeries, with torrents of white wool 
falling from them, mingled with dappled clouds on the edge 
of the horizon. 

" One of the things that struck me most was a huntress 
shooting a bird. Her open fingers had just released the string 
and the arrow was gone ; but, as this part of the tapestry happened 
to be at a corner, the arrow was on the other side of the wall 
and had described a sharp curve, while the bird was flying away 
on motionless wings, and apparently desirous of gaining a 
neighbouring branch. 

"This arrow, feathered and gold-tipped, always in the air 
and never reaching the mark, had a most singular effect ; it was 
like a sad and mournful symbol of human destiny, and the 
more I looked at it, the more I discovered in it mysterious and 
sinister meanings. There stood the huntress with her foot 
advanced, her knee bent, and her eye, with its silken lashes, 
wide open, and no longer able to see the arrow which had 
deviated from its path. She seemed to be looking anxiously 
for the mottled-plumed phenicopter which she was desirous 
of bringing down and expecting to see fall before her pierced 
through and through. I do not know whether it was a mistake 
of my imagination, but I thought that the face had as dull and 
despairing an expression as that of a poet dying without having 
written the work which he expected to establish his reputation, 
and seized by the pitiless death-rattle while endeavouring to 
dictate it. 

" I am talking to you at length about this tapestry, certainly 
at a greater length than the importance of the subject demands; 
but that fantastic world created by the workers in high warp is a 
thing which has always strangely preoccupied me. 

" I am passionately fond of its imaginary vegetation, the 
flowers and plants which have no existence in reality, the forests 
of unknown trees wherein wander unicorns and snowy capri- 
mules and stags with golden crucifixes between their antlers, 



276 MADEiMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

and commonly pursued by red-bearded hunters in Saracen 
costume. 

" When I was a child, I scarcely ever entered a tapestried 
chamber without experiencing a kind of shiver, and when 
there I hardly dared to stir. 

" All the figures standing upright against the wall, and deriv- 
ing a sort of fantastic life from the undulation of the material 
and the play of light, seemed to me so many spies engaged in 
watching my actions in order to give an account of them at 
a proper time and place, and I would not have eaten a stolen 
apple or cake in their presence. 

" How many things would these grave personages have to tell 
could they open their lips of red thread, and could sounds 
penetrate into the concha of their embroidered ears ! Of how 
many murders, treasons, infamous adulteries and monstrosities 
of all kinds are they not silent and impassible witnesses ! 

" But let us leave the tapestry and return to our story. 

" ' Alcibiades, I will have my aunt informed of your arrival.' 

" ' Oh ! there is no great hurry about that, my dear sister ; let 
us sit down first of all and talk a little. I have to introduce to 
you a gentleman, Theodore de Serannes, who will spend some 
time here. I have no need to recommend you to give him a 
hearty welcome; he is himself a sufficient recommendation.' (I 
am telling you what he said ; do not accuse me unreasonably 
of conceit.) 

" The fair one slightly bent her head as though to give assent, 
and we spoke of something else. 

" While conversing, I looked at her minutely, and exa- 
mined her with more attention than I had found possible until 
then. 

" She was perhaps twenty-three or twenty-four years of age, 
and her mourning was most becoming to her; truth to tell, she 
had not a very lugubrious or disconsolate appearance, and I 
suspect that she would have eaten the ashes of her Mausolus 
in her soup like rhubarb. I do not know whether she had 
wept plenteously for her deceased spouse ; if so, there was, at 
all events, little appearance of it, and the pretty cambric hand 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 277 

kerchief which she held in her hand was as perfectly dry as it 
was possible to be. 

" Her eyes were not red, but, on the contrary, were the 
brightest and most brilliant in the world, and you would have 
sought in vain on her cheeks for the furrow where her tears 
had flowed ; there were in fact only two little dimples hollowed 
by an habitual smile, and it is right to say that, for a widow, 
her teeth were very frequently to be seen certainly not a dis- 
agreeable sight, for they were small and very regular. I 
esteemed her at the very first for not having believed that, 
because a husband had died, she was obliged to discolour 
her eyes and give herself a violet nose. I was also grateful 
to her for not assuming a doleful little air, and for speaking 
naturally, with her sonorous and silvery voice, without drawling 
her words and breaking her phrases with virtuous sighs. 

" This appeared to me in very good taste ; I judged her from 
the first to be a woman of sense, as indeed she is. 

"She was well made, with a very becoming hand and foot ; 
her black costume was arranged with all possible coquettish- 
ness, and so gaily that the lugubriousness of the colour com- 
pletely disappeared, and she might have gone to a ball dressed 
as she was without any one considering it strange. If ever I 
marry and become a widow, I shall ask for a pattern of her 
dress, for it becomes her angelically. 

" After some conversation we went up to see the old aunt. 

"We found her seated in a large, easy-backed arm-chair, 
with a little stool under her foot, and beside her an old dog, 
bleared and sullen, which raised its black muzzle at our arrival, 
and greeted us with a very unfriendly growl. 

" I have never looked at an old woman without horror. My 
mother died when quite young ; no doubt, if I had seen her 
slowly growing old, and seen her features becoming distorted in 
an imperceptible progression, I should have quietly come to be 
used to it. In my childhood I was surrounded only by young 
and smiling faces, so that I have preserved an insurmountable 
antipathy towards old people. Hence I shuddered when the 
beautiful widow touched the dowager's yellow forehead with her 



278 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

pure, vermilion lips. It is what I could not undertake to do. 
I know that I shall he like her when I am sixty years old ; but 
it is all the same, I cannot help it, and I pray God that He 
may make me die young like my mother. 

" Nevertheless, this old woman had retained some simple and 
majestic traces of her former beauty which prevented her from 
falling into that roast-apple ugliness which is the portion of 
women who have been only pretty or simply fresh ; her eyes, 
though terminating at their corners in claws of wrinkles, and 
covered with large, soft eyelids, still possessed a few sparks of 
their early fire, and you could see that in the last reign they 
must have darted dazzling lightnings of passion. Her thin and 
delicate nose, somewhat curved like the beak of a bird of prey, 
gave to her profile a sort of serious grandeur, which was 
tempered by the indulgent smile of her Austrian lip, painted 
with carmine, after the fashion of the last century. 

"Her costume was olt 1 .- fashioned without being ridiculous, 
and was in perfect harmony with her face ; for head-dress 
she had a simple mob-cap, white, with small lace ; her long, 
thin hands, which you could see had been very beautiful, 
trembled in mittens without either fingers or thumb ; a dress of 
dead-leaf colour, figured with flowerings of deeper hue, a black 
mantle and an apron of pigeon's neck paduasoy, completed 
her attire. 

" Old women should always dress in this way, and have 
sufficient respect for their approaching death not to harness 
themselves with feathers, garlands of flowers, bright-coloured 
ribbons, and a thousand baubles which are becoming only to 
extreme youth. It is vain for them to make advances to life, 
life will have no more of them ; with the expenses to which 
they put themselves, they are like superannuated courtesans who 
plaster themselves with red and white, and are spurned on the 
pavement by drunken muleteers with kicks and insults. 

" The old lady received us with that exquisite ease and 
politeness which is the gift of those who belonged to the old 
court, and the secret of which seemingly is being lost from 
day to day, like so many other excellent secrets, and with a 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 279 

voice which, broken and tremulous as it was, still possessed 
great sweetness. 

" I appeared to please her greatly, and she looked at me for 
a very long time with much attention and with apparently 
deep emotion. A tear formed in the corner of her eye and 
crept slowly down one of her great wrinkles, wherein it was 
lost and dried. She begged me to excuse her and told me 
that I was very like a son of hers who had been killed in the 
army. 

" Owing to this real or imaginary likeness, the whole time 
that I stayed at the mansion, I was treated by the worthy dame 
with extraordinary and quite maternal kindness. I discovered 
more charms in her than I should have at first believed possible, 
for the greatest pleasure that elderly people can give me is 
never to speak to me, and to go away when I arrive. 

" I shall not give you a detailed account of my daily doings 

at R . If I have been somewhat diffuse through all this 

commencement, and have sketched you these two or three 
physiognomies of persons or places with some care, it is because 
some very singular though very natural things befell me there, 
things which I ought to have foreseen when assuming the dress 
of a man. 

" My natural levity caused me to be guilty of an indiscretion 
of which I cruelly repent, for it has filled a good and beautiful 
soul with a perturbation which I cannot allay without discovering 
what I am and compromising myself seriously. 

" In order to appear perfectly like a man, and to divert my- 
self a little, I thought that I could not do better than woo my 
friend's sister. It appeared very funny to me to throw myself 
on all fours when she dropped her glove and restore it to her 
with profound obeisances, to bend over the back of her easy- 
chair with an adorably languorous little air, and to drop a 
thousand and one of the most charming madrigals into the 
hollow of her ear. As soon as she wished to pass from one 
room to another I would gracefully offer her my hand ; if she 
mounted on horseback I held the stirrup, and when walking I 
was always by her side ; in the evening I read to her and sang 



2So MADEMOISELLE DE MAUI'IN. 

with her; in brief, I performed all the duties of a ' cavaliere 
servente ' with scrupulous exactness. 

" I pretended everything that I had seen lovers do, which 
amused me and made me laugh like the true madcap that I am, 
when I was alone in my room, and reflected on all the imper- 
tinent things I had just uttered in the most serious tone in the 
world. 

" Alcibiades and the old marchioness appeared to view this 
intimacy with pleasure and very often left us together. I 
sometimes regretted that I was not really a man, that I might 
have profited better by it ; had I been one, the matter would 
have been in my own hands, for our charming widow seemed 
to have totally forgotten the deceased, or, if she did remember 
him, she would willingly have been faithless to his memory. 

" After beginning in this fashion I could not honourably 
draw back again, and it was very difficult to effect a retreat 
with arms and baggage ; yet I could not go beyond a certain 
limit, nor had I much knowledge of how to be amiable except 
in words : I hoped to be able to reach in this way the end of 

the month which I was to spend at R and then to retire, 

promising to return, but without the intention of doing so. 
I thought that at my departure the fair one would console 
herself, and seeing me no more would soon forget me. 

" But in my sport I had aroused a serious passion, and things 
turned out differently an illustration of a long well-known 
truth, namely, that you should never play either with fire or 
with love. 

" Before seeing me, Rosette knew nothing of love. Married 
very young to a man much older than herself, she had been 
unable to feel for him anything more than a sort of filial 
friendship ; no doubt she had been courted, but, extraordinary 
as it may appear, she had not had a lover : either the gallant? 
who had paid her attention were sorry seducers, or, what is 
more likely, her hour had not yet struck. Country squires and 
lordlings, always talking of fumets and leashes, hog-steers and 
antlers, morts and stags of ten, and mingling the whole with 
almanac charades and madrigals mouldy with age, were cer- 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 281 

tainly little adapted to suit her, and her virtue had not to 
struggle much to resist them. 

" Besides, the natural gaiety and liveliness of her disposition 
were a sufficient defence to her against love, that soft passion 
which has such a hold upon the pensive and melancholy ; the 
idea which her old Tithonus had been able to give her of 
voluptuousness must have been a very indifferent one not to 
cause her to be greatly tempted to make still further trials, 
and she was placidly enjoying the pleasure of being a widow 
so soon and having still so many years in which to be 
beautiful. 

" But on my arrival everything was quite changed. I at first 
believed that if I had kept within the narrow limits of cold and 
scrupulous politeness towards her, she would not have taken 
much notice of me ; but, in truth, the sequel obliged me to 
admit that it would have been just the same, neither more nor 
less, and that though my supposition was a very modest, it was 
a purely gratuitous one. Alas ! nothing can turn aside the 
fatal ascendant, and no one can escape the good or evil in- 
fluence of his star. 

" Rosette's destiny was to love only once in her lifetime, and 
with an impossible love ; she must fulfil it, and she will fulfil it. 

" I have been loved, O Graciosa ! and it is a sweet thing, 
though it was only by a woman, and though there was an 
element of pain in such an irregular love which cannot belong 
to the other ; oh ! a very sweet thing ! When you awake in 
the night and rise upon your elbow and say to yourself : ' Some 
one is thinking or dreaming of me ; some one is occupied with 
my life ; a movement of my eyes or lips makes the joy or the 
sadness of another creature ; a word that I have chanced to let 
fall is carefully gathered up and commented on and turned over 
for whole hours ; I am the pole to which a restless magnet points, 
my eye is a heaven, my mouth a paradise more desired than 
the true one ; were I to die, a warm rain of tears would revive 
my ashes, and my tomb would be more flowery than a marriage 
gift ; were I in danger some one would rush between the 
sword's point and my breast ; everything would be sacrificed 



282 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUl'IN. 

for me ! ' it is glorious ; I do not know what more one can 
wish for in the world. 

"This thought gave me pleasure for which I reproached my- 
self, since 1 1 ad nothing to give in return for it all, but was in 
the position of a poor person accepting presents from a rich and 
generous friend without the hope of ever being able to do the 
like for him in turn. It charmed me to be adored in this way, 
and at times I abandoned myself to it with singular compla- 
cency. From hearing every one call me ' Sir,' and seeing my- 
self treated as though I were a man, I was insensibly forgetting 
that I was a woman; my disguise seemed to me my natural 
dress, and I was forgetting that I had ever worn another ; I had 
ceased to remember that I was after all only a giddy girl who 
had made a sword of her needle, and cut one of her skirts into 
a pair of breeches. 

" Many men are more womanish than I. I have little of the 
woman, except her breast, a few rounder lines, and more deli- 
cate hands; the skirt is on my hips, and not in my dis- 
position. It often happens that the sex of the soul does not at 
all correspond with that of the body, and this is a contradiction 
which cannot fail to produce great disorder. For my own part, 
for instance, if I had not taken this resolution mad in appear- 
ance, but in reality very wise and renounced the garments of a 
sex which is mine only materially and accidentally, I should 
have been very unhappy : I like horses, fencing, and all violent 
exercises ; I take pleasure in climbing and running about like 
a youth ; it wearies me to remain siuing with my feet close to- 
gether and my elbows glued to my sides, to cast my eyes 
modestly down, to speak in a little, soft, honeyed voice, and 
to pass a bit of wool ten million times through the holes 
in a canvas ; I have not the least liking for obedience, and the 
expression that I most frequently employ is : ' I will.' Beneath 
my smooth forehead and silken hair move strong and manly 
thoughts ; all the affected nonsense which chiefly beguiles 
women has never stirred me to any great degree, and, like 
Achilles disguised as a young girl, I should be ready to re- 
linquish the mirror for a sword. The only thing that pleases 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 283 

me in women is their beauty ; in spite of the inconveniences 
resulting from it, I would not willingly renounce my form, how- 
ever ill-assorted it may be with the mind which it contains. 

" There was an element of novelty and piquancy in such an 
intrigue, and I should have been greatly amused by it had it 
not been taken seriously by poor Rosette. She began to love 
me most ingenuously and conscientiously, with all the power of 
her good and beautiful soul with the love that men do not 
understand and of which they could not form even a remote 
conception, tenderly and ardently, as I would wish to be loved, 
and as I should love, could I meet with the reality of my dream. 
What a splendid treasure lost, what white transparent pearls, 
such as divers will never find in the casket of the sea ! what 
sweet breaths, what soft sighs dispersed in air, which might 
have been gathered by pure and amorous lips ! 

" Such a passion might have rendered a young man so 
happy ! so many luckless ones, handsome, charming, gifted, 
full of intellect and heart, have vainly supplicated on their 
knees insensible and gloomy idols ! so many good and tender 
souls have in despair flung themselves into the arms of courtesans, 
or have silently died away like lamps in tombs, who might have 
been rescued from debauchery and death by a sincere love ! 

" What whimsicality is there in human destiny ! and what a 
jester is chance ! 

" What so many others had eagerly longed for came to 
me, to me who did not and could not desire it. A capricious 
young girl takes a fancy to ramble about the country in man's 
dress in order to obtain some knowledge as to what she may 
depend upon in the matter of her future lovers ; she goes to 
bed at an inn with a worthy brother who conducts her with 
the tip of his finger to his sister, who finds nothing better 
to do than fall in love with her like a puss, like a dove, 
like all that is most amorous and languorous in the world. 
It is very evident that, if I had been a young man and this 
state of things might have been of some service to me, it would 
have been quite different, and the lady would have abhorred me. 
Fortune loves thus to give slippers to those who have wooden 



28* MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

legs, and gloves to those who have no hands ; the inheritance 
which might have enabled you to live at your ease usually comes 
to you on the day of your death. 

"Sometimes, though not so often as she would have wished, 
I visited Rosette at her bedside; usually she received only 
when she was up, but this rule was overlooked in my favour. 
Many other things might have been overlooked, had I wished ; 
but, as they say, the most beautiful girl can only give what 
she has, and what I had would not have been of much use 
to Rosette. 

" She would stretch out her little hand for me to kiss and I 
confess that I did not kiss it without pleasure, for it is very smooth, 
very white, exquisitely scented, and softly tender with incipient 
moisture ; I could feel it quiver and contract beneath my lips, the 
pressure of which I would maliciously prolong. Then Rosette, 
quite moved and with a look of entreaty, would turn towards me 
her long eyes laden with voluptuousness and bathed in humid 
and transparent light, and let her pretty head, raised a little for 
my better reception, fall back again upon her pillow. Beneath 
the clothes I could see the undulations of her restless bosom 
and the sudden movements of her whole frame. Certainly any 
one in a condition to venture might have ventured much ; he 
would surely have met with gratitude for his temerity, and 
thankfulness for having skipped some chapters of the romance. 

" I used to remain an hour or two with her, without relin- 
quishing the hand I had replaced on the coverlet ; we had 
charming and interminable talks, for although Rosette was very 
much preoccupied with her love, she believed herself too sure 
of success to lose much of her freedom and playfulness of dis- 
position. (Duly now and then would her passion cast a trans- 
parent veil of sweet melancholy upon her gaiety, and this 
rendered her still more pleasir.s.. 

" In fact, it would have been an unheard-of thing that a young 
beginner, such as I was to all appearance, should not have 
deemed himself very well off with such good fortune and have 
profited by it to the best of his ability. Rosette, indeed, was 
by no means one likely to encounter great cruelties, and not 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN 285 

knowing more about me, she counted on her charms and on my 
youth in default of my love. 

" Nevertheless, as the situation was beginning to be pro- 
longed beyond its natural limits, she became uneasy about it, 
and scarcely could a redoubling of flattering phrases and fine 
protestations restore her to her former state of unconcern. Two 
things astonished her in me, and she noticed contradictions in 
my conduct which she was unable to reconcile : they were my 
warmth of speech and my coldness of action. 

" You know bette~ than any one, my dear Graciosa, that my 
friendship has all the characteristics of a passion ; it is sudden, 
eager, keen, exclusive, with love even to jealousy, and my 
friendship for Rosette was almost exactly similar to the friend- 
ship I have for you. A mistake might have been caused by 
less. Rosette was the more completely mistaken about it, 
because the dress I wore scarcely allowed of her having a 
different idea. 

" As I have never yet loved a man, the excess of my tender- 
ness has, in a measure, found a vent in my friendships with 
young girls and young women ; I have displayed the same 
transport and exultation in them as I do in everything else, for 
I find it impossible to be moderate in anything, and especially 
in what concerns the heart. In my eyes there are only two 
classes of people those whom I worship, and those whom I 
execrate ; the others are to me as though they did not exist, 
and I would urge my horse over them as I would over the 
highway : they are identical in my mind with pavements and 
milestones. 

" I am naturally expansive, and have very caressing manners. 
When walking with Rosette, I would sometimes, forgetful of 
the import of such demonstrations, pass my arm about her 
person as I used to do when we walked together in the lonely 
alley at the end of my uncle's garden ; or, perhaps, leaning on 
the back of her easy-chair while she was working embroidery, 
I would roll the fair down on the plump round nape of her 
neck between my fingers, or with the back of my hand smooth 
her beautiful hair stretched by the comb and give it additional 



286 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

lustre, or, perhaps, it would be some other of those endear- 
ments which, as you know, I habitually employ with my deal 
friends. 

" She took very good care not to attribute these caresses to 
mere friendship. Friendship, as it is usually understood, does 
not go to such heights; but seeing that I went no further, 
she was inwardly astonished and scarcely knew what to think ; 
she decided thus : that it was excessive timidity on my part, 
caused by my extreme youth and a lack of experience in love 
affairs, and that I must be encouraged by all kinds of ad- 
vances and kindnesses. 

" In consequence, she took pains to contrive for me a multi- 
tude of opportunities for private conversations in places calcu- 
lated to embolden me by their solitude and remoteness from 
all noise and intrusion ; she took me for several walks in the 
great woods, to try whether the voluptuous dreaming and 
amorous desires with which tender souls are inspired by the 
thick and kindly shade of the forests might not be turned to 
her advantage. 

"One day, after having made me wander for a long time 
through a very picturesque park which extended for a great 
distance behind the mansion, and which was unknown to me 
with the exception of those parts which were in the neighbour- 
hood of the buildings, she led me, by a little capriciously wind- 
ing path bordered with elders and hazel trees, to a rustic 
cot, a kind of charcoal-burner's hut built of billets placed trans- 
versely, with a roof of reeds, and a door coarsely made of five 
or six pieces of roughly-planed wood, the interstices of which 
were stopped up with mosses and wild plants; quite close, 
among the green roots of tall ashes with silvery bark, dotted 
here and there with dark patches, gushed a vigorous spring, 
which, a few feet further on, fell over two marble steps into a 
basin filled with cress of more than emerald green. 

" At places where there was no cress might be seen fine sand 
as white as snow ; the water had the transparency of crystal 
and the coldness of ice ; issuing suddenly from the ground, 
and never touched by the faintest sun-ray, beneath those im- 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUl'IN. 287 

penetrable shades, it had no time to become warm or troubled. 
In spite of its crudity I love such spring water, and, seeing it 
there so limpid, I could not resist a desire to drink of it ; I 
stooped down and took some several times in the hollow of my 
hand, having no other vessel at my disposal. 

"Rosette intimated a wish to drink also of this water to 
quench her thirst, and requested me to bring her a few drops, 
for she dared not, she said, stoop down far enough to reach it 
herself. I plunged both my hands, which I had joined to- 
gether as accurately as possible, into the clear fountain, then 
raised them like a cup to Rosette's lips, and kept them thus 
until she had drained the water contained in them not a long 
time, for there was very little, and that little trickled through 
my fingers, however tightly I closed them ; it made a very 
pretty group, and it is almost a pity that there was no sculptor 
present to take a sketch of it. 

" When she had almost finished, and my hand was close to 
her lips, she could not refrain from kissing it, in such a way, 
however, as to make it look like an act of suction for the pur- 
pose of draining the last pearl of water gathered in my palm ; 
but I was not deceived by it, and the charming blush which sud- 
denly overspread her countenance betrayed her plainly enough. 

" She took my arm again, and we proceeded towards the 
cot. The fair one walked as close to me as possible, and 
when speaking to me leaned over in such a way that her bosom 
rested entirely on my sleeve a very cunning position, and one 
capable of disturbing any one else but me; I could feel its 
pure firm outline and soft warmth perfectly well nay, I could 
even remark a hurried undulating motion which, whether 
affected or real, was none the less flattering and engaging. 

" In this way we reached the door of the cot, which I opened 
with a kick, and I was certainly not prepared for the sight that met 
my eyes. I had thought that the hut was carpeted with rushes 
with a mat on the floor and a few stools to rest on : not at all. 

" It was a boudoir furnished with all imaginable elegance. 
The frieze panels represented the gallantest scenes in Ovid's 
Metamorphoses: Salmacis and Hermaphrodite, Venus and 



288 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

Adonis, Apollo and Daphne, and other mythological loves in 
bright lilac camaieu ; the piers were formed of pompon roses 
very delicately sculptured, and little daisies, which, with a 
refinement of luxury, had only their hearts gilded, their leaves 
being silvered. All the furniture was edged with silver cord 
which relieved a tapestry of the softest blue that could possibly 
be found, and one marvellously adapted to set off the whiteness 
and lustre of the skin ; mantelpiece, consoles, and what-nots 
were laden with a thousand charming curiosities, and there was 
such a luxurious number of settees, couches and sofas, as pretty 
clearly showed that this nook was not designed for very austere 
occupations, and that certainly no maceration went on in it. 

" A handsome rock-work clock, standing on a richly-inlaid 
pedestal, faced a large Venetian mirror, and was repeated in it 
with singular gleamings and reflections. It had stopped, more- 
over, as though it would have been something superfluous to 
mark the hours in a place intended to forget them. 

" I told Rosette that this refinement of luxury pleased me, 
that I thought it in very good taste to conceal the greatest 
choiceness beneath an appearance of simplicity, and that I 
greatly approved of a woman having embroidered petticoats 
and lace-trimmed chemises with an outer covering of simple 
material ; that to the lover whom she had or might have it 
was a delicate attention fur which he could not be sufficiently 
grateful, and that it was unquestionably better to put a diamond 
into a nut, than a nut into a golden box. 

" To prove to me that she was of my opinion, Rosette raised 
her dress a little and showed me the edge of a petticoat very 
richly embroidered with large flowers and leaves ; it only rested 
with myself to be let into the secret of greater internal magni- 
ficence ; but I did not ask to see whether the splendour of the 
chemise corresponded with that of the petticoat : it is probable 
that it was equally luxurious. Rosette let the fold of her dress 
fall again, vexed at not having shown more. 

" Nevertheless, the exhibition had been sufficient to display 
the beginning of a perfectly turned calf, suggesting the most 
excellent ascensional ideas. The leg which she held out in 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 289 

order to show off her petticoat to better advantage was indeed 
miraculously delicate and graceful in its neat well drawn stock- 
ing of pearl-grey silk, and the little heeled shoe, adorned with 
a tuft of ribbons in which it terminated, was like the glass 
slipper worn by Cinderella. I paid her very sincere compli- 
ments about it, and told her that I had never known a prettier 
leg or a smaller foot, and that I did not think that they could 
possibly be of a better shape. To which she replied with 
charming and lively frankness and ingenuousness : 

" ' Tis true.' 

" Then she went to a panel contrived in the wall, took out 
one or two flagons of liqueurs and some plates of sweetmeats and 
cakes, placed the whole on a little round table, and came and 
sat down beside me in a somewhat narrow easy chair, so that, 
in order not to be very uncomfortable, I was obliged to pass 
my arm behind her waist. As she had both hands free, and I 
had just my left to make use of, she filled my glass herself, and 
put fruits and sweets upon rny plate ; and soon even, seeing 
that I was rather awkward, she said to me : ' Come, leave it 
alone ; I am going to feed you, child, since you are not able 
to eat all by yourself.' Then she herself conveyed the morsels 
to my mouth, and forced me to swallow them more quickly 
than I wished, pushing them in with her pretty fingers, just as 
people do with birds that are being crammed, and laughing 
very much over it. 

"I could scarcely dispense with paying her fingers back the 
kiss which she had lately given to the palms of my hands, and, 
as though to prevent me from doing so, but really to enable me 
to impart a greater pressure to my kiss, she struck my mouth 
two or three times with the back of her hand. 

" She had drunk a few drops of Creme des Barbades, with a 
glass of Canary, and I about as much. It was certainly not a 
great deal; but it was sufficient to enliven a couple of women 
accustomed to drink scarcely anything stronger than water. 
Rosette leaned backwards, throwing herself across my arm in very 
amorous fashion. She had cast aside her mantle, and the 
upper part of her bosom, strained and stretched by this arched 



290 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

position, could be seen ; it was enchantingly delicate and trans 
parent in tone, while its shape was one of marvellous daintiness 
and solidity combined. I contemplated her for some time with 
indefinable emotion and pleasure, and the reflection occurred 
to me that men were more favoured in their loves than we, 
seeing that we gave them possession of the most charming 
treasures while they had nothing similar to offer us. 

" What a pleasure it must be to let their lips wander over 
this smooth fine skin, and these rounded curves which seem to 
go out to meet the kiss and challenge it ! this satin flesh, 
these undulating and mutually involving lines, this silky hair so 
soft to the touch ; what exhaustless sources of delicate volup- 
tuousness which we do not possess in common with men ! Our 
caresses can scarcely be other than passive, and yet it is a greater 
pleasure to give than to receive. 

" These are remarks which undoubtedly I should not have 
made last year, and I might have seen all the bosoms and 
shoulders in the world without caring whether their shape was 
good or bad ; but, since I have laid aside the dress belonging 
to my sex and have lived with young men, a feeling which was 
unknown to me has developed within me : the feeling of beauty. 
Women are usually denied it, I know not why, for at first sight 
they would seem better able to judge of it than men ; but as 
they are the possessors of beauty, and self-knowledge is more 
difficult than that of any other description, it is not surprising 
that they know nothing at all about it. 

" Commonly, if one woman thinks another woman pretty, 
you may be sure that the latter is very ugly, and that no man 
will take any notice of her. On the other hand, all women 
whose beauty and grace are extolled by men are unanimously 
considered abominable and affected by the whole petticoated 
tribe ; there are cries and clamours without end. If I were 
what I appear to be, I should be guided in my choice by 
nothing else, and the disapprobation of women would be a 
sufficient certificate of beauty for me. 

" At present I love and know beauty ; the dress I wear sepa- 
rates me from my sex, and takes away from me all species of 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 291 

uvalry; I am able to judge it better than another. I am no 
longer a woman, but I am not yet a man, and desire will not 
blind me so far as to make me take puppets for idols ; I can 
see coldly without any prejudice for or against, and my position 
is as perfectly disinterested as it could possibly be. 

" The length and delicacy of the eyelashes, the transparency 
of the temples, the limpidity of the crystalline, the curvings of 
the ear, the tone and quality of the hair, the aristocracy of 
foot and hand, the more or less slender joints of leg and wrist, 
a thousand things of which I used to take no heed, but which 
constitute real beauty and prove purity of race, guide me in my 
estimates, and scarcely admit of a mistake. I believe that if I 
had said of a woman : ' Indeed, she is not bad,' you might 
accept her with your eyes shut. 

" By a very natural consequence I understand pictures better 
than I did before, and though I have but a very superficial 
tincture of the masters, it would be difficult to make me pass a 
bad work as a good one ; I find a deep and singular charm in 
this study ; for, like everything else in the world, beauty, moral 
or physical, requires to be studied, and cannot be penetrated al! 
at once. 

" But let us return to Rosette ; the transition from this 
subject to her is not a difficult one, for they are two ideas 
which are bound up in each other. 

" As I have said, the fair one had thrown herself back across 
my arm and her head was resting against my shoulder ; emotion 
shaded her beautiful cheeks with a tender rose-colour which 
was admirably set off by the deep black of a very coquettishly 
placed little patch ; her teeth gleamed through her smile like 
raindrops in the depths of a poppy, and the humid splendour of 
her large eyes was still further heightened by her half-drooping 
lashes ; a ray of light caused a thousand metallic lustres to 
play on her silky clouded hair, some locks of which had escaped 
and were rolling in ringlets along her plump round neck, and 
relieving its warm whiteness ; a few little downy hairs, more 
mutinous than the rest, had got loose from the mass, and were 
twisting themselves in capricious spirals, gilded with singular re- 



292 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

flections, and, traversed by the light, assuming all the shades of 
the prism : you would have thought that they were such 
golden threads as surround the heads of the virgins in the 
old pictures. We both kept silence, and I amused myself 
with tracing her little azure-blue veins through the nacreous 
transparency of her temples, and the soft insensible depression 
of the down at the extremities of her eyebrows. 

" The fair one seemed to be inwardly meditating and to be 
lulling herself in dreams of infinite voluptuousness; her arms 
hung down along her body as undulating and as soft as loosened 
scarfs ; her head bent back more and more as though the 
muscles supporting it had been cut or were too feeble for 
their task. She had gathered up her two little feet beneath 
her petticoat, and had succeeded in crouching down altogether 
in the corner of the lounge that I was orcupying, in such a way 
that, although it was a very narrow piece of furniture, there was 
a large empty space on the other side. 

" Her easy, supple body modelled itself on mine like wax, 
following its external outline with the greatest possible accuracy : 
water would not have crept into all the sinuosity of line with 
more exactness. Clinging thus to my side, she suggested the 
double stroke which painters give their drawings on the side of 
the shadow, in order to render them more free and full. Only 
with a woman in love can there be such undulations and 
entwinings. Ivy and willow are a long way behind. 

" The soft warmth of her body penetrated through her 
garments and mine ; a thousand magnetic currents streamed 
around her ; her whole life seemed to have left her altogether 
and to have entered into me. Every minute she was more 
languishing, expiring, yielding ; a light sweat stood in beads 
upon her lustrous brow ; her eyes grew moist, and two or three 
times she made as though she would raise her hands to hide 
them ; but half-way her wearied arms fell back upon her knees, 
and she could not succeed in doing so ; a big tear overflowed 
from her eyelid and rolled along her burning cheek where it 
was soon dried. 

" My situation was becoming very embarrassing and tolerably 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUTIN. 293 

ridiculous ; I felt that I must look enormously stupid, and this 
provoked me extremely, although no alternative was in my 
power. Enterprising conduct was forbidden me, and such was 
the only kind that would have been suitable. I was too sure 
of meeting with no resistance to risk it, and I was, in fact, at my 
wit's end. To pay compliments and repeat madrigals would 
have been excellent at the beginning, but nothing would have 
appeared more insipid at the stage that we had readied ; to get 
up and go out would have been unmannerly in the extreme ; and 
besides I am not sure that Rosette would not have played the 
part of Potiphar's wife, and held me by the corner of my cloak. 

" I could not have assigned any virtuous motive for my 
resistance ; and then, I confess it to my shame, the scene, 
equivocal as its nature was for me, was not without a charm 
which detained me more than it should have done ; this ardent 
desire kindled me with its flame, and I was really sorry to be 
unable to satisfy it j I even wished to be, as I actually appeared 
to be, a man, that I might crown this love, and I greatly 
regretted that Rosette was deceived My breathing became 
hurried, I felt blushes rising to my face, and I was little less 
troubled than my poor lover. The idea of our similitude in sex 
gradually faded away, leaving behind only a vague idea of 
pleasure; my gaze grew dim, my lips trembled, and, had Rosette 
been a man instead of what she was, she would assuredly have 
made a very easy conquest cf me. 

" At last, unable to bear it any longer, she got up abruptly 
with a sort of spasmodic movement, and began to walk about 
the room with great activity ; then she stopped before the 
mirror and adjusted some locks of her hair which had lost 
their folds. During this promenade I cut a poor figure, and 
scarcely knew how to look. 

" She stopped before me and appeared to reflect. 

" She thought that it was only a desperate timidity that 
restrained me, and that I was more of a schoolboy than she 
had thought at first. Beside herself and excited to the last 
degree of amorous exasperation, she would try one supreme 
effort and stake all on the result at the risk of losing the game. 



294 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

" She came up to me, sat down on my knees more quickly 
than lightning, passed her arms round my neck, crossed her 
hands behind my head, and clung with her lips to mine in a 
furious embrace ; I felt her half-naked and rebellious bosom 
bounding against my breast, and her twined fingers twitching 
in my hair. A shiver ran through my whole body, and my 
heart beated violently. 

" Rosette did not release my mouth ; her lips enveloped 
mine, her teeth struck against my teeth, our breaths were 
mingled. I drew back for an instant, and turned my head aside 
two or three times to avoid this kiss ; but a resistless attrac- 
tion made me again advance, and I returned it with nearly 
as much ardour as she had given it. I scarcely know how 
it would all have ended had not a loud barking been heard 
outside the door, together with the sound of scratching feet 
The door yielded, and a handsome white greyhound came 
yelping and gambolling into the cot. 

" Rosette rose up suddenly, and with a bound sprang to the 
end of the room. The handsome white greyhound leaped glee- 
fully and joyously about her, and tried to reach her hands in 
order to lick them ; she was so much agitated that she found 
great difficulty in arranging her mantle upon her shoulders. 

" This greyhound was her brother Alcibiades's favourite dog ; 
it never left him, and whenever it appeared, its master to a cer- 
tainty was not far off; this is what had so greatly frightened 
poor Rosette. 

" In fact Alcibiades himself entered a minute later, booted 
and spurred, and whip in hand. ' Ah ! there you are,' said he ; 
" I have been looking for you for an hour past, and I should cer- 
tainly not have found you had not my good greyhound Snug 
unearthed you in your hiding place.' And he cast a half-serious, 
half-playful look upon his sister which made her blush up to the 
eyes. ' Apparently you must have had very knotty subjects to 
treat of, to retire into such profound solitude? You were 
no doubt talking about theology and the twofold nature of the 
soul?' 

" ' Oh ! dear no ; our occupation was not nearly so sublime ; 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 295 

we were eating cakes and talking about the fashions that is 
all.' 

" ' I don't believe a word of it ; you appeared to me to be 
deep in some sentimental dissertation; but to divert you from 
your vapourish conversation, I think that it would be a good 
thing if you came and took a ride with me. I have a new mare 
that I want to try. You shall ride her as well, Theodore, and 
we will see what can be made of her.' 

"We went out all three together, he giving me his arm, and 
I giving mine to Rosette. The expressions on our faces were 
singularly different. Alcibiades looked thoughtful, I quite at 
ease, and Rosette excessively annoyed. 

" Alcibiades had arrived very opportunely for me, but very in- 
opportunely for Rosette, who thus lost, or thought she lost, all 
the fruits of her skilful attacks and ingenious tactics. No pro- 
gress had been made ; a quarter of an hour later and the devil 
take me if I know what issue the adventure could have had I 
cannot see one that would not have been impossible. Perhaps 
it might have been better if Alcibiades had not come in at the 
ticklish moment like a god in his machine : the thing must 
have ended in one way or another. During the scene I was two 
or three times on the point of acknowledging who I was to 
Rosette ; but the dread of being thought an adventuress and of 
seeing my secret revealed kept back the words that were ready 
to escape from my lips. 

" Such a state of things could not last. My departure was 
the only means of cutting short this bootless intrigue, and ac- 
cordingly I announced officially at dinner that I should leave 
the very next day. Rosette, who was sitting beside me, nearly 
fainted on hearing this piece of news, and let her glass fall. A 
sudden paleness overspread her beautiful face : she cast on me 
a mournful and reproachful look which made me nearly as much 
affected and troubled as she was herself. 

" The aunt raised her old wrinkled hands with a movement 
of painful surprise, and said in her shrill, trembling voice, which 
was even more tremulous than usual : ' My dear Monsieur 
Theodore, are you going to leave us in that fashion ? That i> 



296 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

not right ; yesterday you did not seem in the least disposed to 
go. The post has not come, and so you have received no 
letters, and are without any motive. You had granted us a 
fortnight longer, and now you are taking it back ; you have 
really no right to do so : what has been given cannot be taken 
away again. See how Rosette is looking at you, and how angry 
she is with you ; I warn you that I shall be at least as angry as 
she is. and look quite as sternly at you, and a stern face at sixty - 
eight is a little more terrible than one at twenty-three. See to 
what you are voluntarily exposing yourself : the wrath both of 
aunt and niece, and all on account of some caprice which has 
suddenly entered your head at dessert.' 

" Alcibiades, giving the table a great blow with his fist, swore 
that he would barricade the doors of the mansion and ham- 
string my horse sooner than let me go. 

Rosette cast another look upon me, and one so sad and sup- 
plicating that nothing short of the ferocity of a tiger that had 
been fasting for a week could have failed to be moved by it. I 
did not withstand it, and, though it gave me singular annoyance, 
I made a solemn promise to stay. Dear Rosette would willingly 
have fallen on my neck and kissed me on the mouth for this 
kindness ; Alcibiades enclosed my hand in his huge one and 
shook my arm so violently that he nearly dislocated my shoulder, 
made my rings oval instead of round, and cut three of my fingers 
somewhat deeply. 

" The old lady, rejoicing, took an immense pinch of snuff. 

" Rosette, however, did not completely recover her gaiety ; 
the idea that I might go away and that I wished to do so, an 
idea which had never yet come clearly before her mind, plunged 
her deep in thought. The colour which had been chased from 
her cheeks by the announcement of my departure did no> 
return to them with the same brilliance as before ; there stili 
was paleness on her cheek and disquiet in the depths of her soul 
My conduct towards her surprised her more and more. After 
the marked advances which she had made, she could not under- 
stand the motives which induced me to put so much restraint 
into my relations with her j her object was to lead me up to a 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 297 

perfectly decisive engagement before my departure, not doubting 
that afterwards she would find it extremely easy to keep me as 
long as she liked. 

"In this she was right, and, had I not been a woman, her 
calculation would have been correct ; for, whatever may have 
been said about the satiety of pleasure and the distaste which 
commonly follows possession, every man whose heart is at all 
in the right place, and who is not miserably used up and 
without resource, feels his love increased by his good fortune, 
and frequently the best means of retaining a lover who is ready 
to leave you is to surrender yourself unreservedly to him. 

" Rosette intended to bring me to something decisive before 
my departure. Knowing how difficult it is to subsequently take 
up a liaison just where it had been dropped, and being besides not 
at all sure of finding me again under such favourable circum- 
stances, she neglected no opportunity that presented itself of 
placing me in a position to speak out clearly and abandon the 
evasive demeanour behind which I had entrenched myself. As 
on my part, I had the most formal intention of avoiding every 
species of meeting similar to that in the rustic pavilion, and yet 
could not, without being ridiculous, affect much coolness 
towards Rosette and assume girlish prudery in my relations 
with her, I scarcely knew how to behave, and tried always to 
have a third person with us. 

" Rosette, on the contrary, did everything in her power to 
secure being alone with me, and, as the mansion was at a 
distance from the town and seldom visited by the neighbouring 
nobility, she frequently succeeded in her design. My obtuse 
resistance saddened and surprised her; there were moments 
when she had doubts and hesitations about the power of her 
charms, and, seeing herself so little loved, she was sometimes 
not far from believing herself ugly. Then she would redouble 
her attention and coquetry, and although her mourning did not 
permit her to make use of all the resources of the toilet, she 
nevertheless knew how to give it grace and variety in such a 
manner as to be twice or thrice as charming every day which 
is saying a great deal. She tried everything : she was playful. 



298 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

melancholy, tender, impassioned, kind, coquettish, and even 
affected ; she put on in succession all those adorable masks 
which become women so well that it is impossible to say 
whether they are veritable masks or real faces ; she assumed 
eight or ten contrasted individualities one after another in order 
to see which pleased me, and to fix upon it. In herself alone 
she provided me with a complete seraglio wherein I had only to 
throw the handkerchief ; but she had, of course, no success. 

"The failure of all these stratagems threw her into a state 
of profound stupefaction. She would, indeed, have turned 
Nestor's brain, and melted the ice of the chaste Hippolytus 
himself, and I appeared to be anything but Nestor or 
Hippolytus. I am young, and I had a lofty and determined 
air, boldness of speech, and everywhere except in solitary 
interviews, a resolute countenance. 

" She might have thought that all the witches of Thrace and 
Thessaly had cast their spells upon my person, or that I was at 
least unmanned, and have formed a most detestable opinion of 
my virility, which is in fact poor enough. Apparently, however, 
the idea did not occur to her, and she attributed this singular 
reserve only to my lack of love for her. 

"The days passed away without any advancement of her 
interests, and she was visibly affected by it : an expression of 
restless sadness had taken the place of the ever fresh-blooming 
smile on her lips ; the corners ot her mouth, so joyously arched, 
had become sensibly lower, and formed a firm and serious line ; 
a few little veins appeared in a more marked fashion on her 
tender eyelids ; her cheeks, lately so like the peach, had now 
nothing of it left save its imperceptible velvet down. I often 
saw her, from my window, crossing the garden in a morning 
gown ; scarcely raising her feet, she would walk as though she 
were gliding along, both arms loosely crossed upon her breast, 
her head bent more than a willow-branch dipping into the water, 
and with something undulating and sinking about her like a 
drapery which is too long and the edge of which touches the 
ground. At such moments she looked like one of the amorous 
women of antiquity, victims to the wrath of Venus, and furiously 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 299 

assailed by the pitiless goddess ; it is thus, to my fancy, that 
Psyche must have been when she had lost Cupid. 

" On the days when she did not endeavour to vanquish my 
coldness and reluctance, her love had a simple and primitive 
manner which might have charmed me; it was a silent and 
confiding surrender, a chaste facility of caress, an exhaustless 
abundance and plenitude of heart, all the treasures of a fine 
nature poured forth without reserve. She had none of that 
bitterness and meanness to be seen in nearly all women, even 
in those that are the best endowed; she sought no disguise, 
and tranquilly suffered me to see the whole extent of her passion. 
Her self-love did not revolt for an instant at my failure to 
respond to so many advances, for pride leaves the heart on the 
day that love enters it ; and if ever anyone was truly loved, I 
was loved by Rosette. 

" She suffered, but without complaint or bitterness, and she 
attributed the failure of her attempts only to herself. Never- 
theless her paleness increased every day ; a mighty combat had 
been waged on the battle-field of her cheeks between the lilies 
and the roses, and the latter had been decisively routed ; it 
distressed me, but in all truth I was less able than anyone to 
remedy it. The more gentle and affectionate my words and 
the more caressing my manner, the more deeply I plunged into 
her heart the barbed arrow of impossible love. To comfort her 
to-day I made ready a much greater despair for the future ; my 
remedies poisoned her wound while appearing to soothe it. I 
repented in a measure of all the agreeable things I had ever 
said to her, and, owing to my extreme friendship for her, I 
would fain have discovered the means to make her hate me. 
Disinterestedness could not be carried further, for such a result 
would unquestionably have greatly grieved me; but it would 
have been better. 

" I made two or three attempts to speak harshly to her, but 
I soon returned to madrigals, for I dread her tears even more 
than her smile. On such occasions, although the honesty of my 
intention fully acquitted me in my conscience, I was more 
touched than I should have been, and felt something not far 



300 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUP1N. 

removed from remorse. A tear can scarcely be dried except 
by a kiss ; the office cannot decently be left to a handkerchief, 
be it of the finest cambric in the world. I undid what I had 
done, the tear was quickly forgotten, more quickly than the 
kiss, and there always ensued an increase of embarrassment 
for me. 

" Rosette, seeing that I am going to escape her, again fastens 
obstinately and miserably upon the remnants of her hope, and 
my position is growing more and more complicated. The 
strange sensation which I experienced in the little hermitage, 
and the inconceivable confusion into which I was thrown by the 
ardent caresses of my fair mistress, have been several times 
renewed though with less violence; and often when seated 
beside Rosette with her hand in mine, and listening to her speak 
to me in her soft cooing voice, I fancy that I am a man as she 
believes me to be, and that it is pure cruelty on my part not to 
respond to her love. 

" One evening, by some chance or other, I happened to be 
alone with the old lady in the green room; she had some 
tapestry work in her hand, for, in spite of her sixty-eight years, 
she never remained idle, wishing, as she said, to finish before 
she died a task which she had commenced and at which she 
had now wrought for a long time. Feeling somewhat fatigued, 
she laid her work aside and lay back in her large easy chair. 
She looked at me very attentively, and her grey eyes sparkled 
through her spectacles with strange vivacity; she passed her 
hand two or three times across her wrinkled forehead, and 
appeared to be reflecting deeply. The recollection of times that 
were no more and that she regretted imparted an expression of 
emotion to her face. I did not speak lest I should disturb her 
in her thoughts, and the silence lasted for some minutes. At 
last she broke it. 

"'They are Henri's my dear Henri's very eyes ; the same 
humid and brilliant gaze, the same carriage of the head, the 
same sweet and proud physiognomy ; one would think it were 
he. You cannot imagine the extent of this likeness, Monsieur 
The'odore : when I see you I cannot believe that Henri is 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 301 

dead ; I think that he has only been on a long journey, and 
has now at last come back. You have given me much pleasure 
and much pain, Theodore : pleasure by reminding me of my 
ooor Henri, and pain by showing me how great has been my 
loss ; sometimes I have taken you for his phantom. I cannot 
reconcile myself to the idea that you are going to leave us ; it 
seems to me like losing my Henri once more.' 

" I told her that if it were really possible for me to remain 
longer I should do so with pleasure, but that my stay had 
already been prolonged far beyond the limits it should have 
had : besides, I quite expected to return, and I should retain 
memories of the mansion far too agreeable to forget it so quickly. 

" ' However sorry I may be at your departure, Monsieur 
Theodore,' she resumed, pursuing her own train of thought, 
' there is some one here who will feel it more than I. You 
understand whom I mean without my telling you. I do not 
know what we shall do with Rosette when you are gone ; but 
this old place is very dull. Alcibiades is always hunting, and 
for a young girl like her, the society of a poor infirm woman 
like me is not very diverting.' 

"' If anyone should have regrets, it is not you, madame, nor 
Rosette, but I ; you are losing little, I much ; you will easily 
discover society more charming than mine, but it is more than 
doubtful whether I shall ever be able to replace Rosette's and 
yours.' 

" ' I do not wish to pick a quarrel with your modesty, my 
dear sir, but I know what I know, and what I say is fact. It 
will probrbly be a long time before we see Madame Rosette in 
a good humour again, for at present her smiles and tears depend 
only on you. Her mourning is about to end, and it would be a 
pity if she laid aside her gaiety with her last black dress ; it 
would be a very bad example, and quite contrary to natural laws. 
This is a thing which you could prevent without much trouble, 
and which you will prevent, no doubt,' said the old lady, laying 
great emphasis on the last words. 

" ' Unquestionably I will do all in my power that yuur dear 
niece may not lose her charming gaiety, since you suppose me to 



302 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

have such influence over her. Nevertheless, I scarcely see what 
method I can adopt.' 

" ' Oh ! really, you scarcely see ! What are your handsome 
eyes for? I did not know that you were so short-sighted. 
Rosette is free ; she has an income of eighty thousand livres 
wholly under her own control, and women twice as ugly as 
she is, are often considered pretty. You are young, handsome, 
and, as I imagine, unmarried ; it appears to me to be the 
simplest thing in the world, unless you have an unsurmountable 
horror of Rosette, which it is difficult to believe ' 

" ' Which is not and could not be the case, for her soul is as 
excellent as her person, and she is one of those who might be 
ugly without our noticing it or wishing them otherwise ' 

"'She might be ugly with impunity and she is charming. 
That is to be doubly in the right ; I have no doubt of what you 
say. but she has taken the wisest course. So far as she is con- 
cerned I would willingly answer for it that there are a thousand 
whom she hates more than you, and that if she were asked 
several times she would perhaps end by confessing that you do 
not altogether displease her. You have a ring on your finger 
which would suit her perfectly, for your hand is nearly as small 
as hers, and I am almost sure that she would accept it with 
pleasure.' 

" The good lady stopped for a few moments to see what effect 
her words would produce on me, and I do not know whether 
she had reason to be satisfied with the expression of my face. 
I was cruelly embarrassed and did not know what to reply. 
From the beginning of the conversation I had perceived the ten- 
dency of all her insinuations ; and, although I almost expected 
what she had just said, I was quite surprised and confused by 
it ; I could not but refuse ; but what valid motives could I give 
for such a refusal? I had none, except that I was a woman : 
an excellent motive it is true, but precisely the only one that I 
was unwilling to state. 

" I could hardly fall back upon stern and ridiculous parents ; 
all the parents in the world would have accepted such a union 
with enthusiasm. Had Rosette not been what she was, good. 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 303 

fair, and well-born, the eighty thousand livres a year would have 
removed all difficulty. To say that I did not love her would 
have been neither true nor honourable, for I did really love her 
very much and more than any woman loves a woman. I was too 
young to pretend that I was engaged in another quarter. What 
I thought it best to do was to let it be understood that being a 
younger son the interests of my house required me to enter the 
Maltese Order, and did not permit to think of matrimony, a 
circumstance which had caused me all the sorrow in the world 
since I had seen Rosette. 

" This reply was not worth much, and I was perfectly sensible 
of the fact. The old lady was not deceived by it, and did not 
regard it as definite ; she thought that I had spoken in this way 
to gain time for reflection and for consulting my parents. 
Indeed, such a union was so advantageous for me, and one so 
little to be expected, that it would not have been possible for me 
to refuse it even though I had felt little or no love for Rosette ; 
it was a piece of good fortune that was not to be slighted. 

" I do not know whether the aunt made this overture at the 
instance of her niece, but I am inclined to believe that Rosette 
had nothing to do with it : she loved me too simply and too 
eagerly to think of anything else but the immediate possession 
of me, and marriage would assuredly have been the last of the 
means that she would have employed. The dowager, who had 
not failed to remark our intimacy, and doubtless thought it 
much greater than it was, had contrived the whole of this plan 
in her head in order to keep me near her, and as far as possible 
replace her dear son Henri, who had been killed in the army, 
and to whom, as she considered, I bear so striking a likeness. 
She had been pleased by this idea and had taken advantage of 
the moment of solitude to come to an explanation with me. I 
saw by her mien that she did not look upon herself as beaten, 
and that she intended to return soon to the charge; at which I 
felt extremely annoyed. 

" That same night Rosette, on her part, made a last attempt 
which had such serious results that I must give you a separate 
account of it, and cannot relate it in this letter which is already 



304 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 



swelled to an extravagant size. You will see to what singular 
adventures I was predestined, and how heaven had cut me out 
beforehand to be a heroine of romance ; I am not quite sure, 
though, what moral could be drawn from it all, but existences 
are not like fables, each chapter has not a rhymed sentence at 
the end. Very often the meaning of life is that it is not death. 
That is all. Good-bye, dear, I kiss you on your lovely eyes. 
You will shortly receive the continuation of my triumphant 
biography." 




XIII. 




HEODORE, Rosalind, for I know not by 
what name to call you .---I have only just seen you 
and I am writing to you. Would that I knew 
yourwoman's name! it must be pleasant as honey, 
and hover sweeter and more harmonious than poetry on 
the lips ! Never could I have dared to tell you this, and 
yet I should have died for lack of saying it. What I have 
suffered no one knows nor can know, nor could I myself give 
any but a faint idea of it ; words will not express such anguish ; 
I should appear to have turned my phrases carefully, to have 
striven to say new and singular things, and to be indulging in 
the most extravagant exaggeration when merely depicting what 
I have experienced with the help of unsatisfying images. 

" O Rosalind ! I love you, I worship you ; why is there not 
a word more expressive than that ! I have never loved, I have 
never worshipped any one save you ; I prostrate myself, I humble 
myself before you, and I would fain compel all creation to 
bend the knee before my idol ; you are more to me than the 
whole of nature, more than myself, more than God, nay, it 
seems strange to me that God does not descend from heaven 
to become your slave. Where you are not all is desolate, all is 
dead, all is dark ; you alone people the world for me ; you are 
life, sunshine you are everything. Your smile makes the day, 
and your sadness the night ; the spheres follow the movements of 
of your body, and the celestial harmonies are guided by you, O my 
cherished queen ! O my glorious and real dream ! You are clothed 
with splendour, and swim ceaselessly in radiant effluence. 



306 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

" I have known you scarcely three months, but I have long 
loved you. Before seeing you, I languished for love of you ; I 
called you, sought for you, and despaired of ever meeting with 
you in my path, for I knew that I could never love any other 
woman. How many times have you appeared to me, at the 
window of the mysterious mansion leaning in melancholy 
fashion on your elbow in the balcony and casting the petals of 
some flower to the wind, or else a petulant Amazon on your 
Turkish horse, whiter than snow, galloping through the dark 
avenues of the forest ! It was indeed your proud and gentle 
eyes, your diaphanous hands, your beautiful waving hair, and 
your faint, adorably disdainful smile. Only you were less 
beautiful, for the most ardent and unbridled imagination, the 
imagination of a painter and a poet, could not attain to the 
sublime poetry of this reality. 

" There is in you an exhaustless spring of graces, an ever- 
gushing fountain of irresisistible seductions : you are an ever 
open casket of most precious pearls, and, in your slightest 
movements, in your most forgetful gestures, in your most un- 
studied attitudes, you every moment throw away with royal pro- 
fusion inestimable treasures of beauty. If the soft waving 
contour, if the fleeting lines of an attitude could be fixed and 
preserved in a mirror, the glasses before which you had passed 
would cause Raphael's divinest canvases to be despised and 
be looked upon as tavern sign-boards. 

" Every gesUire ; every pose of your head, every different aspect 
of your beauty, are graven with a diamond point upon the 
mirror of my soul, and nothi/i-? in the world could efface the 
deep impression ; I know in what place the shadow was, and 
in what the light, the flat part, glistening beneath the ray, and 
the spot where the wandering reflection was blended with the 
more softened tints of neck and cheek. I could draw you in 
your absence ; the idea of you is ever placed before me. 

" When quite a child I would remain whole hours standing 
before the old pictures of the masters, and eagerly explore their 
dark depths. I gazed upon those beautiful faces of saints and 
goddesses whose flesh, white as ivory or wax, stands out so 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 307 

marvellously against the obscure backgrounds that are carbonised 
by the decomposition of the colours ; I admired the simplicity 
and magnificence of their shape, the strange grace of their hands 
and feet, the pride and fine expression of their features which 
are at once so delicate and firm, the grandeur of the draperies 
which flutter around their divine forms, and the purplish folds 
of which seem to extend like lips to kiss those beauteous bodies. 

"From obstinately burying my eyes beneath the veil of 
smoke thickened by ages, my sight grew dim, the outlines 
of objects lost their precision, and a species of motionless and 
dead life animated all those pale phantoms of vanished beauties ; 
I ended by finding that these faces had a vague resemblance to 
the fair unknown whom I worshipped at the bottom of my 
heart ; I sighed as I thought that she whom I was to love was 
perhaps one of them, and had been dead for three hundred 
years. This idea often affected me so far as to make me shed 
tears, and I would indulge in great anger against myself for not 
having been born in the sixteenth century, when all these fair 
ones had lived. I thought it unpardonable awkwardness and 
clumsiness on my part 

" When I grew older the sweet phantom beset me still more 
closely. I continually saw it between me and the women whom 
I had for mistresses, smiling with an ironic air and deriding 
their human beauty with all the perfection of its own which was 
divine. It caused me to find ugliness in women who really 
were charming and capable of giving happiness to any one who 
had not become enamoured of this adorable shadow whose 
body I did not think existed and which was only the presenti. 
ment of your own beauty. O Rosalind ! how unhappy have I 
been on your account, before I knew you ! O Theodore ! how 
unhappy I have been on your account, after I knew you ! If you 
will, you can open up to .me the paradise of my dreams. You 
are standing on the threshold like a guardian angel wrapped in 
his wings, and you hold the golden key in your beautiful hands. 
Say, Rosalind, say, will you ? 

" I wait for but a word from you to live or to die will you 
pronounce it ? 



308 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

" Are you Apollo driven from heaven, or the fair Aphrodite 
coming forth from the bosom of the sea ? where have you left 
your chariot of gems yoked with its four flaming steeds ? what 
have you done with your nacreous conch and your azure-tailed 
dolphins ? what amorous nymph has blended her body with 
yours in the midst of a kiss, O handsome youth, more charming 
than Cyparissus and Adonis, more adorable than all women ? 

" But you are a woman, and we are no longer in the days of 
metamorphoses; Adonis and Hermaphrodite are dead, and 
such a degree of beauty can no longer be attained by man ; 
for, since heroes and gods have ceased to be, you alone preserve 
in your marble bodies, as in a Grecian temple, the precious gift 
of form anathematized by Christ, and show that the earth 
has no cause to envy heaven ; you worthily represent the first 
divinity of the world, the purest symbolisation of the eternal 
essence, beauty. 

" As soon as I saw you something was rent within me, a veil 
fell, a door was opened, I felt myself inwardly flooded by waves 
of light ; I understood that my life was before me, and that I 
had at last arrived at the decisive crossway. The dark and 
hidden portions of the half radiant figure which I was seeking 
to separate from the shadow were suddenly illuminated ; the 
browner tints drowning the background of the picture were 
softly lighted ; a tender roseate gleam crept over the greenish 
ultramarine of the distance ; the trees which had formed only 
confused silhouettes began to be more clearly defined ; the 
dew-laden flowers dotted with brilliant specks the dull verdure 
of the turf. I saw the bull-finch with his scarlet breast at the 
end of an elder bough, the little white pink-eyed straight-eared 
rabbit putting out his head between two sprays of wild thyme 
and passing his paw across his nose, and the fearful stag 
coming to drink at the spring and admire his antlers in the 
water. 

" From the morning when the sun of love rose upon my life 
everything has been changed ; there, when: in the shadow used to 
wander ill-defined forms rendered terrible or monstrous by their 
uncertainty, groups of flowering trees show themselves with ele 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 309 

gance, hills curve in graceful amphitheatres, and silver palaces, 
their terraces laden with vases and statues, bathe their feet in 
azure lakes and seem to float between two skies ; what in the 
darkness I took for a gigantic dragon having wings armed with 
claws and crawling over the night with its scaly feet, is nothing 
but a felucca with silken sail, and painted and gilded oars, filled 
with women and musicians, and that frightful crab which 
methought was shaking its fangs and claws above my head, is 
nothing but a fan-palm whose long and narrow leaves were 
stirred by the nocturnal breeze. My chimeras and my errors 
have vanished : I love. 

" Despairing of ever finding you I accused my dream of a lie 
and quarrelled furiously with fate : I told myself that I was alto- 
gether mad to seek for such a type, or that nature was very barren 
and the Creator very unskilful to be unable to realise the simple 
idea of my heart Prometheus had the noble pride to desire to 
make a man and rival God ; I had created a woman, and I believed 
that, as a punishment for my audacity, a never satisfied desire 
would gnaw my liver like a second vulture ; I was expecting to 
be chained with diamond fetters on a hoary rock at the edge of 
the savage ocean, but the fair marine nymphs with their long 
green hair, raising their white pointed breasts above the 
waves, and displaying to the sun their nacreous bodies all 
streaming with the tears of the sea, would not have come and 
leaned their elbows on the shore to converse with me and con- 
sole me in my pain as in the play of old ^schylus. 

" There has been nothing of all this. 

" You came, and I had reason to reproach my imagination 
with its impotence. My torment was not what I dreaded, to 
be the perpetual prey of an idea on a sterile rock ; but I 
suffered none the less. I had seen that you did in fact exist 
that my presentiments had not been false to me on this point 
but you manifested yourself to me with the ambiguous and 
terrible beauty of the sphinx. Like the mysterious goddess, 
Isis, you were wrapped in a veil which I dared not raise lest I 
should be stricken dead. 

" If you knew with what panting and restless heed, beneath 



3 io MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

my apparent inattention, I watched you and followed you even 
in your slightest movements ! Nothing escaped me ; how 
eagerly I gazed upon the little flesh that appeared at your neck 
or wrist in my endeavour to determine your sex ! your hands 
have been the subject of profound studies by me, and I am 
able to say that I know their smallest curves, their most imper- 
ceptible veins, and their slightest dimple ; though you were to 
conceal yourself from head to foot in the most impenetrable 
domino, I should recognise you on seeing merely one of your 
fingers. I analysed the undulations in your walk, the manner in 
which you placed your feet, and dressed your hair ; I sought to 
discover your secret in the habits of your body. I especially 
watched you in those hours of indolence when the bones seem 
to be withdrawn from the body and the limbs sink and bend as 
though they had lost their stiffness, to see whether the feminine 
line would be more boldly pronounced amid this forgetfulness 
and carelessness. Never was anyone eyed so eagerly as you. 

"For whole hours I would forget myself in this contempla- 
tion. Apart in some corner of the drawing-room, with a book 
in my hand which I was not reading, or crouched behind the 
curtain in my room, when you were in yours and your window- 
blinds were raised, then, penetrated with the maivellous beauty 
which is diffused about you like a luminous atmosphere, I 
would say to myself, ' Surely it is a woman ; ' then suddenly 
an abrupt bold movement, a manly accent or an off-hand 
manner would in a minute destroy my frail edifice of probabili- 
ties and throw me back again into my former irresolution. 

" I would be voyaging with flowing sails over the limitless 
ocean of amorous dreaming, and you would come and ask me 
to fence or play tennis with you ; the young girl, transformed 
into a young cavalier, would give me terrible blows and strike 
the foil from my hand as quickly and cleverly as the most 
experienced swashbuckler ; at every moment of the day there 
was some such disappointment. 

" I would be about to approach you and say to you, ' My 
dear fair one, 'tis you that I adore,' and I would see you bending 
down tenderly to a lady's ear and breathing puffs of madrigals 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 311 

and compliments through her hair. Judge of my situation. 
Or, perhaps, some woman whom, in my strange jealousy, I 
could have flayed alive with all the voluptuousness in the 
world, would hang on your arm, and draw you aside to confide 
some puerile secrets to you, and would keep you for hours 
together in an embrasure of the window. 

" I was maddened to see women talking to you, for it made 
me believe that you were a man, and, had you been so, it would 
have cost me extreme pain to endure it. When men came up 
in a free and familiar fashion, I was still more jealous, because 
then I thought that you were a woman and that they had a 
suspicion of it like myself; I was a prey to the most contrary 
passions and did not know what conclusion to arrrive at. 

" I was angry with myself, and addressed the harshest re- 
proaches to myself for being thus tormented by such a love and 
for not having the strength to uproot from my heart the veno- 
mous plant which had sprung up there in a night like a poisonous 
toad-stool ; I cursed you, I called you my evil genius ; I even 
believed for a moment that you were Beelzebub in person, for 
I could not explain the sensation which I experienced in your 
presence. 

"When I was quite persuaded that you were in fact nothing 
else but a woman in disguise, the improbability of the motives 
with which I sought to justify such a caprice plunged me again 
into my uncertainty, and I began again to lament that the form 
which I had dreamed of for the love of my soul belonged to 
one of the same sex as myself; I accused chance which had 
clothed a man with such charming appearance, and, to my 
everlasting misfortune, had caused me to meet with him just 
when I had lost the hope of seeing realised the absolute idea 
of pure beauty which I had cherished in my heart for so long. 

"Now, Rosalind, I have the profound certainty that you are 
the most beautiful of women ; I have seen you in the costume 
of your sex, I have seen your pure and correctly rounded shoulders 
and arms. The beginning of your bosom, of which your gorget 
gave a glimpse, could belong only to a young girl : neither the 
beautiful hunter Meleager,nor the effeminate Bacchus, with their 



JI2 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

dubious forms, ever had such sweetness of line or such delicacy 
of skin, even though they be both of Paros marble and polished 
by the kisses of twenty centuries. I am tormented no longer 
in this respect. But this is not all: you are a woman, and 
my love is no longer reprehensible, I may give myself up to it 
without remorse and abandon myself to the billow which is 
bearing me towards you ; great and unbridled as the passion 
that I feel may be, it is permitted and I may confess it ; but you, 
Rosalind, for whom I was consumed in silence and who knew 
not the immensity of my love, you whom this tardy revelation 
will only, it may be, surprise, do you not hate me, do you love 
me, can you ever love me ? I do not know, and I tremble, 
and am yet more unhappy than before. 

" There are moments when it seems to me that you do not 
hate me ; when we acted ' As you like it,' you gave a peculiar 
accent to certain passages in your part which strengthened 
their meaning, and, in a measure, invited me to declare 
myself. I believed that I could see in your eyes and smile 
gracious promises of indulgence, and could feel your hand 
respond to the pressure of mine. If I was deceived, O God ! 
it is a thing on which I dare not reflect. Encouraged by all 
this and impelled by my love, 1 have written to you, for the 
dress you wear is ill-suited to such avowals, and my words have 
a thousand times been stayed upon my lips ; even though I had 
the idea and firm conviction that I was speaking to a woman, 
that manly costume would startle all my tender loving thoughts 
and hinder them from taking their flight towards you. 

" I beseech you, Rosalind, if you do not yet love me, strive to 
love me who have loved you in spite of everything, and beneath 
the veil in which you wrap yourself, no doubt out of pity for us ; 
do not devote the remainder of my life to the most frightful 
despair and the most gloomy discouragement; think that 1 
have worshipped you ever since the first ray of thought shone 
into my head, that you were revealed to me beforehand, and 
that, when I was quite little, you appeared to me in my dreams 
with a crown of dew-drops, two prismatic wings, and the little 
blue flower in your hand ; that you are the end, the means, and 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 



313 



the meaning of my life ; that without you I am but an empty 
shadow, and that, if you blow upon the flame that you have 
kindled, nothing will remain within me but a pinch of dust 
finer and more impalpable than that which besprinkles 
the very wings of death. Rosalind, you who have so many 
recipes to cure the sickness of love, cure me, for I am very sick ; 
play your part to the end, cast aside the dress of the handsome 
page Ganymede, and stretch out your white hand to the younger 
son of the brave knight Rowland-des-Bois " 




XIV. 




WAS at my window engaged in looking at the stars 
which were blooming joyously in the gardens of 
the sky, and inhaling the perfume of the Marvel 
of Peru wafted to me by an expiring breeze. 
The wind from the open casement had extinguished my lamp, 
the last remaining light in the mansion. My thoughts were 
degenerating into vague dreaming, and a sort of somnolence 
was beginning to overtake me ; nevertheless, whether owing 
to fascination by the charm of the night, or to carelessnes and 
forgetfulness, I still remained leaning with my elbow on the stone 
balustrade. Rosette, no longer seeing the light of my lamp 
and being unable to distinguish me owing to a great corner 
of shadow which fell just across the window, had no doubt 
concluded that I was in bed, and it was for this that she 
was waiting in order to risk a last desperate attempt. She 
pushed open the door so softly that I did not hear her enter, 
and was within two steps of me before I had perceived her. She 
was very much astonished to see me still up ; but, soon recqver- 
ing from her surprise, she came up to me and took hold of my 
arm calling me twice by my name : ' Theodore, The'odore ! ' 

" ' What ! you, Rosette, here, at this hour, quite alone, 
without a light and so completely undressed ! ' 

" I must tell you that the fair one had nothing on her but a 
night-mantle of excessively fine cambric, and the triumphant 
lace-trimmed chemise which I was n'ot willing to see on the day 
of the famous scene in the little kiosk in the park. Her arms, 
smooth and cold as marble, were entirely bare, and the linen 
covering her body was so supple and diaphanous that it allowed 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 315 

the nipples of her breasts to be seen, as in the statues of bathers 
covered with wet drapery. 

" Is that a reproach, Theodore, that you are making against 
me ? or is it only a simple, purely exclamatory phrase ? Yes, 
I, Rosette, the fine lady here, in your very room and not in my 
own where I ought to be, at eleven or perhaps twelve o'clock at 
night, with neither duenna, chaperon, nor maid, scantily clad, 
in a mere night-wrapper ; that is very astonishing, is it not ? 
I am as surprised at it as you are, and scarcely know what 
explanation to give you. 5 

" As she said this she passed one of her arms around my 
body, and let herself fall on the foot of my bed in such a way 
as to draw me along with her. 

" ' Rosette,' I said, endeavouring to disengage myself, ' I am 
going to try to light the lamp again ; there is nothing more 
melancholy than darkness in a room ; and then, when you are 
here, it is really a sin not to see clearly and so lose the sight 
of your charms. Allow me by a piece of tinder and a match, 
to make myself a little portable sun to thrown into relief all that 
the jealous night is effacing beneath its shades.' 

" ' It's not worth while ; I would as soon you did not see my 
blushes ; I can feel my cheeks burning all over, for it is enough 
to make me die of shame.' She hid her face upon my 
breast, and for some minutes remained thus as if suffocated by 
her emotion. 

"As for myself, during this interval, I passed my fingers 
mechanically through the long ringlets of her disordered hair, 
and searched my brain for some honourable evasion to relieve 
me of my embarrassment. I could find none, however, for I 
had been driven into my last entrenchment, and Rosette 
appeared perfectly determined not to leave the room as she had 
entered it Her attire was of a formidable easy nature, which 
did not promise well. I myself was wearing only an open 
dressing-gown which would have been a poor protection for my 
incognito, so that I was extremely anxious about the result of 
the battle. 

" ' Theodore, listen to me,' said Rosette, rising and throwing 



316 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

back her hair from both sides of her face, as far as I could see 
by the feeble light which the stars and a very slender crescent 
of the rising moon shed into the room through the still open 
window ; ' the step which I am taking is a strange one ; 
everyone would blame me for having taken it. But you are 
leaving soon, and I love you ! I cannot let you go in this way 
without coming to an explanation with you. Perhaps you will 
never return ; perhaps it is the first and the last time that I am 
to see you. Who knows where you will go ? But wherever 
you go you will carry away my soul and my life with you. If 
you had remained I should not have been reduced to this 
extremity. The happiness of looking at you, of listening to you, 
of living by your side would have been sufficient for me : I 
would not have asked for anything more. I would have shut 
up my love within my heart ; you would have thought that you 
had in me only a good and sincere friend; but that cannot be. 
You say that it is absolutely necessary that you should leave. 

" ' It annoys you, Theodore, to see me clinging thus to your 
footsteps like a loving shadow which cannot but follow you and 
would fain blend itself with your body ; it must displease you 
always to find behind you beseeching eyes and hands stretched 
forth to seize the edge of your cloak. I know it, but I cannot 
prevent myself from acting thus. Besides, you cannot complain; 
it is your own fault- I was calm, tranquil, almost happy before 
knowing you. You arrived handsome, young, smiling, like 
Phoebus the charming god. You paid me the most assiduous 
and delicate attentions ; never was cavalier more sprightly and 
gallant. Your lips every moment let fall roses and rubies ; 
everything served you as an opportunity for a madrigal, 
and you know how to turn the most insignificant phrases so as 
to convert them into adorable compliments. 

" ' A woman who had hated you mortally at first would have 
ended by loving you, and I, I loved you from the very moment 
when first I saw you. Why do you appear so surprised, then 
after being so lovable and so well loved ? Is it not quite a 
natural consequence ? I am neither mad, nor thoughtless, nor 
yet a romantic little girl who becomes enamoured of the first sword 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 317 

that she sees. I am well-bred, and I know what life is. What 1 
am doing, every woman, even the most virtuous or most prudish, 
would equally have done. What was your idea and your inten- 
tion? to please me, I imagine, for I can suppose no other. 
How is it, then, that you look sorry, in a measure, for having 
succeeded so well ? Have I, without knowing it, done anything 
to displease you ? I ask your pardon for it. Have you ceased 
to think me beautiful, or have you discovered some defect in 
me which repels you ? 

" ' You have the right of being hard to please in beauty, but 
either you have strangely lied to me, or else I too am beautiful ! 
I am as young as you, and I love you ; why do you now disdain 
me ? You used to be so eager about me, you supported my 
arm with such constant solicitude, you pressed the hand I sur- 
rendered to you so tenderly, you raised such languorous eyes 
towards me : if you did not love me, what was the use of all this 
intrigue ? Could you perchance have had the cruelty to kindle 
love in a heart in order to have afterwards a subject for mirth ? 
Ah ! that would be horrible mockery, impiety, sacrilege ! such 
could be the amusement only of a frightful soul, and I cannot 
believe it of you, quite inexplicable as is your behaviour towards 
me. 

"'What, then, is the cause of this sudden change? For my part, 
I can see none. What mystery is concealed behind such cold- 
ness ? I cannot believe that you have a repugnance to me ; your 
conduct proves the contrary, for no one woos a woman he dislikes 
with such eagerness were he the greatest impostor on earth. O 
Theodore, what have you against me ? who has changed you 
thus? what have I done to you? If the love which you 
appeared to have for me has taken its flight, mine, alas ! has 
remained, and I cannot uproot it from my heart. Have pity 
on me, Theodore, for I am very unhappy. At least pretend 
to love me a little, and say some gentle words to me ; it will 
not cost you much, unless you have an insurmountable horror 
of me.' 

"At this pathetic portion of her discourse, her sobs com- 
pletely stifled her voice ; she crossed both her hands upon my 



318 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

shoulder and laid her forehead upon them in quite a broken 
hearted attitude. All that she said was perfectly correct, and l 
had no good reply to make. I could not assume a bantering 
tone. It would not have been suitable. Rosette was not one 
of those creatures who could be treated so lightly : I was, 
moreover, too much affected to be able to do it. I felt myself 
guilty for having trifled in such a manner with the heart of a 
charming woman, and I experienced the keenest and sincerest 
remorse in the world. 

" Seeing that I made no reply, the dear child heaved a long 
sigh and made a movement as though to rise, but she fell back 
again, weighed down by her emotion ; then she encircled me in 
her arms, the freshness of which penetrated my doublet, laid 
her face upon mine, and began to weep silently. 

" It had a singular effect upon me to feel this exhaustless flow 
of tears, which did not come from my own eyes, streaming in 
this way down my cheek. It was not long before they were 
mingled with mine, and there was a veritable bitter rain suffi- 
cient to cause a new deluge had it only lasted forty days. 

" At that moment the moon happened to shine straight upon 
the window ; a pale ray dipped into the room and illuminated 
our taciturn group with a bluish light. 

" With her white wrapper, her bare arms, her uncovered breast 
and throat, of nearly the same colour as her linen, her dis- 
hevelled hair and her mournful look, Rosette had the appear- 
ance of an alabaster figure of Melancholy seated on a tomb. 
As to myself I scarcely know what appearance I had since J 
could not see myself, and there was no glass to reflect my 
image, but I think that I might very well have posed for a 
statue of Uncertainty personified. 

" I was moved, and bestowed a few more tender caresse? 
than usual upon Rosette ; from her hair my hand had descended 
to her velvety neck, and thence to her smooth round shoulder, 
which I gently stroked, following its quivering line. The child 
vibrated beneath my touch like a keyboard beneath a musician's 
fingers; her flesh started and leaped abruptly, and amorous 
thrillings ran through her body. 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 319 

" I myself felt a vague and confused species of desire, whose 
aim I could not discern, and I felt great voluptuousness in 
going over these pure delicate contours. I left her shoulder, 
and, profiting by the hiatus of a fold, suddenly closed my hand 
upon her little frightened breast, which palpitated distractedly 
like a turtle-dove surprised in its nest; from the extreme 
outline of her cheek which I touched with an almost insensible 
kiss, I reached her half-parted lips, and we remained like this 
for some time. I do no know, though, whether it was two 
minutes, or a quarter of an hour, or an hour ; for I had totally 
lost the notion of time, and I did not know whether I was in 
heaven or on earth, here or elsewhere, living or dead. The 
heady wine of voluptuousness had so intoxicated me at the first 
mouthful that I had drunk, that any reason I possessed had 
left me. 

" Rosette clasped me more and more tightly in her arms and 
covered rne with her body ; she leaned convulsively upon me 
and pressed me to her naked panting breast ; at every kiss her 
life seemed to rush wholly to the spot that was touched, and 
desert the rest of her person. Strange ideas passed through my 
head ; had I not dreaded the betrayal of my incognito, I should 
have given play to Rosette's impassioned bursts, and should, 
perhaps, have made some vain and mad attempt to impart a 
semblance of reality to the shadow of pleasure so ardently 
embraced by my fair mistress ; I had not yet had a lover ; and 
these keen attacks, these reiterated caresses, the contact with 
this beautiful body, and these sweet names lost in kisses, 
agitated me to the highest degree, although they were those 
of a woman ; and then the nocturnal visit, the romantic 
passion, the moonlight, all had a freshness and novel charm for 
me which made me forget that after all I was not a man. 

" Nevertheless, making a great effort over myself, I told 
Rosette that she was compromising herself horribly by coming 
into my room at such an hour and remaining in it so long, and 
that her women might notice her absence and see that she had 
not passed the night in her own apartment. 

" I said this so gently that Rosette only replied by dropping 



320 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

her cambric mantle and her slippers, and by gliding into my 
bed like a snake into a bowl of milk ; for she imagined that 
this proceeding on her part might lead to more precise 
demonstrations upon mine. 

"She believed, poor child, that the happy hour which had 
been so laboriously contrived, was at last about to strike for 
her ; but it only struck two in the morning. My situation was 
as critical as it well could be, when the door turned on its 
hinges and gave passage to the very Chevalier Alcibiades in 
person ; he held a candlestick in one hand and his sword in 
the other. 

" He went straight to the bed, threw back the curtains, and, in 
holding the light to the face of the confused Rosette, said to 
her in a jeering tone 'Good morning, sister.' Little Rosette 
was unable to find a word in reply. 

" ' So it appears, my dearest and most virtuous sister, that 
having in your wisdom judged that the Seigneur Theodore's 
bed was softer than your own, you have come to share it ? or 
perhaps it is on account of the ghosts in your room, and you 
thought that you would be in greater safety in this one under the 
protection of the said seigneur ? 'Tis very well advised. Ah ! 
Chevalier de Serannes, so you have cast your amorous glance 
upon my sister, and you think that it will end there. I fancy that 
it would not be unwholesome to have a little cutting of each 
other's throats, and if you will be so kind I shall be infinitely 
obliged to you. Theodore, }ou have abused the friendship 
that I had for you, and you make me repent of the good opinion 
which at the very first I had formed of the integrity of your 
character : it is bad, very bad. 5 

" I could not offer any valid defence : appearances were 
against me. Who would have believed me if I had said, as was 
indeed the case, that Rosette had come kito my room in spite 
of me, and that, far from seeking to please her, I was doing 
everything in my power to estrange her from me ? I had only 
one thing to say, and I said it ' Seigneur Alcibiades, there shall 
be as much throat-cutting as you like.' 

"Puring this colloquy, Rosette had not failed to faint 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 321 

according to the soundest rules of the pathetic ; I went to a 
crystal cup full of water in which the stem of a large white, 
half leafless rose was immersed, and threw a few drops over her 
face, which promptly brought her round again. 

"Scarcely knowing what face to put on the matter, she 
crouched down at the bedside and buried her pretty head 
beneath the clothes, like a bird settling itself to sleep. She had 
so gathered the sheets and pillows about her that it would have 
been very difficult to make out what there was beneath the 
heap ; only by a few soft sighs issuing from time to time could 
it have been guessed that it was a young repentant sinner, or at 
least one extremely sorry at being a sinner in intention only 
and not in deed, which was the case with the unfortunate 
Rosette. 

" The brother, having no further anxiety about his sister, 
resumed the dialogue, and said in a somewhat gentler tone : 
' It is not absolutely indispensable to cut each other's throats 
at once, that is an extreme measure which may be resorted to 
at any time. Listen : we are not equally matched. You are 
in early youth and much less vigorous than I, if we were 
to fight I should certainly kill you or maim you and I should 
not like either to kill or disfigure you which would be a pity ; 
Rosette, who is over there under the bed-clothes and does not 
utter a word, would bear me ill-will for it all her life ; for she is 
as spiteful and wicked as a tigress when she sets about it, the 
dear little dove. You don't know this, you who are her Prince 
Galaor, and who receive only charming kindnesses from her ; but 
it is no slight matter. Rosette is free and so are you ; it appears 
that you are not irreconcilable enemies; her widowhood i. 
about to end, and things could not be better. Marry her : she 
will have no need to return to her own couch, while I shall in 
this way be freed from the necessity of taking you as a sheath 
for my sword, which would not be agreeable either for you or for 
me ; what do you think ? ' 

" I had every reason for making a horrible grimace, for his 
proposal was of all things in the world the most impracticable 
for me : I could sooner have walked on all fours on the ceiling, 



322 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

like the flies, or taken down the sun without having a stool 
to stand on, than do what he asked of me, and yet the last 
proposition was unquestionably more agreeable than the first. 

" He appeared surprised that I did not accept with ecstasy, 
and he repeated what he had said as if to give me time to reply- 

" ' An alliance with you would be a most honourable one for 
me, and I should never have dared to pretend to it : I know 
that it would be an unprecedented piece of good fortune for a 
youth, who, as yet, has neither rank nor standing in the world, 
and one that the most illustrious would esteem themselves 
fortunate to obtain ; but yet I can only persist in my refusal, 
and, since I am free to choose between a duel and marriage, I 
prefer the duel. 'Tis a singular taste and few people would 
have it but it is mine.' 

" Here Rosette gave the most mournful sob in the world, put 
forth her head from beneath the pillow, and seeing my impassi- 
ble and determined countenance put -it in again like a snail 
whose horns have been struck. 

" ' It is not that I have no love for Madame Rosette, I love 
her infinitely ; but I have reasons for not marrying which you 
would yourself consider excellent if it were possible for me to 
tell them to you. Moreover things have not gone so far as 
appearances might lead one to be'ieve; except a few kisses 
which a lively friendship is sufficient to explain and to justify, 
nothing has passed between us that may not be acknowledged, 
and your sister's virtue is assuredly the most intact and blame- 
less in the world. I owed her this testimony. Now, Seigneur 
Alcibiades at what time do we fight, and where ? ' 

" ' Here, at once/ cried Alcibiades, intoxicated with rage. 

" ' Can you think of it ? before Rosette ! ' 

" ' Draw, villain, or I shall assassinate you,' he continued, 
brandishing his sword and whirling it around his head. 

" ' Let us at least leave the room.' 

" ' If you do not put yourself on guard I will pin you to the 
wall like a bat, my fine Celadon, and though you may flap your 
wings to eternity, you will not get free, I give you warning. 
And he rushed upon me with his weapon raised. 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 323 

" I drew my rapier, for he would have done as he had said. 
and at first contented myself with parrying his thrusts. 

"Rosette made a superhuman effort to come and throw 
herself between our swords, for both combatants were equally 
dear to her ; but her strength deserted her, and she rolled 
senseless on to the foot of the bed. 

" Our blades gleamed and made a noise like that of an anvil, 
for want of space obliged us to engage our swords very closely. 

" Two or three times Alcibiades nearly reached me, and had 
I not been an excellent master of fence my life would have 
been in the greatest danger ; for his skill was astonishing and 
his strength prodigious. He exhausted all the tricks and feints 
in fencing to touch me. Enraged at his want of success, he 
exposed himself twice or thrice ; I would not take advantage 
of it; but he returned to the attack with such desperate and 
savage fury, that I was forced to seize upon the opening that 
he gave me ; moreover, the noise and whirling flashes of the 
steel intoxicated and dazzled me. I did not think of death 
and had not the least fear ; the keen and mortal point which 
came before my eyes every second had no more effect upon me 
than if I were fighting with buttoned foils ; only I was indignant 
at Alcibiades's brutality, and my indignation was still further 
heightened by the consciousness of my perfect innocence. 
I wished merely to prick him in the arm or shoulder and so 
make him drop his sword, for I had vainly tried to disarm him. 
He had a wrist of iron, and the devil could not have made him 
move it. 

" At last he made a thrust so quick and so long that I could 
only partially parry it ; my sleeve was pierced and I felt the 
chill of the iron on my arm ; but I was not wounded. At sight 
of this I became angry, and instead of defending myself 
attacked in turn ; I forgot that he was Rosette's brother and I 
fell upon him as though he had been my mortal enemy. 
Taking advantage of a mistake in the position of his sword I 
made so close a flanconnade that I reached his side, and with 
an ' Oh ! ' he fell backwards. 

" I thought that he was dead but he was really only wounded. 



324 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

and his fall was occasioned by a false step that he had made while 
trying to defend himself. I cannot express, Graciosa, the 
sensation that I experienced; certainly, it is not difficult to 
make the reflection that if you strike flesh with a fine, sharp 
point, a hole will be pierced and blood will gush out. Never- 
theless I was profoundly stupefied on perceiving red streams 
trickling over Alcibiades's doublet. I of course had not thought 
sawdust would come out as from a burst doll ; but I know that 
never in my life did I ' experience such great surprise, and it 
seemed to me that some unheard-of thing had just happened 
to me. 

"The unheard-of thing was not, as it appeared to me, that 
blood should flow from a wound, but that the wound should 
have been given by me, and that a young girl of my age (I was 
going to write ' a young man,' so well have I entered into the 
spirit of my part) should have laid low a vigorous captain so 
well trained in the art of fence as Alcibiades : and all this, what 
is more, for the crime of seducing and refusing to marry a 
very rich and charming woman ! 

" I was truly in a cruel embarrassment, with the sister in a 
swoon, the brother, as I believed, dead, and myself nearly 
swooning or dead like one or other ot them. I hung to the 
bell-rope, chimed loud enough to wake the dead, and, leaving 
the task of explaining matters to the servants and the old aunt 
to be performed by the fainting Rosette and the embowelled 
Alcibiades, went straight to the stable. The air restored me at 
once ; I took out my horse, and saddled and bridled him myself; 
I ascertained that the crupper was properly fastened and the curb 
in a right condition ; I made the stirrups of equal length, drew 
the girth a notch tighter : in a word, I harnessed him with an 
attention that was at least singular at such a moment, and with a 
calmness quite inconceivable after a combat terminated in such 
a way. 

" I mounted my beast and crossed the park by a path that 
I knew. The branches of the trees all laden with dew, lashed 
my face and wetted it : you would have thought that the old trees 
were stretching out their arms to stop me and keep me for the 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 325 

love of their mistress. Had I been in a different mood, or 
at all superstitious, I might have believed that they were so 
many phantoms who wished to seize me and were showing me 
their fists. 

" But in reality I had not a single idea either of ihat kind or of 
any other ; a leaden stupor, so great that I was scarcely con- 
scious of it, weighed upon my brain like too tight a helmet; only 
it did seem to me that I had killed some one yonder and that 
it was for this that I was going away. I was, moreover, horribly 
inclined to sleep, whether owing to the lateness of the hour 
or to the fact that the emotions of the evening had had a 
physical reaction and had corporally fatigued me. 

" I reached a little postern which opened upon the fields in 
a secret way which Rosette had shown me in our walks. I dis- 
mounted, touched the knob and pushed open the door : I 
regained my saddle after leading my horse through, and put him 

to the gallop until I reached the highroad to C , at which 

place I arrived at early dawn. 

" Such is the very faithful and circumstantial history of my 
first intrigue and my first duel " 




XV 




T was five o'clock in the morning when I entered 
the town. The houses were beginning to look 
out of window ; the worthy natives were show- 
ing their benign countenances surmounted by 
colossal night-caps behind the panes. At the sound of my 
horses' iron-shod hoofs ringing upon the uneven flinty pave- 
ment there would emerge from every dormer window the big 
curiously red countenances and the matutinally uncovered 
breasts of the local Venuses who lost themselves in conjectures 

about the unwonted appearance of a traveller at C , at such 

an hour and in such an equipment, for my attire was on a very 
small scale, and my appearance was, at the least, suspicious. 

" I got a little rascal, who had his hair over his eyes, and 
lifted up his spaniel's muzzle in the air that he might consider 
me more comfortably, to point me out an inn ; I gave him a 
few coppers for his trouble, and a conscientious cut with my. 
riding-whip, which made him nee away screaming like a jay 
that had been plucked alive. I threw myself upon a bed and 
fell fast asleep. When I awoke it was three o'clock in the 
afternoon, a length of time scarcely sufficient to rest me 
completely. In fact it was not too much for a sleepless night, 
an intrigue, a duel, and a very rapid though quite victorious 
flight. 

' I was very anxious about the wound that I had given 
Alcibiades; butsome days afterwards I was completely reassured, 
for I learnt that it had not been attended by dangerous con- 
sequences, and that he was quite convalescent. This relieved 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 327 

me of a singular weight, for the idea of having killed a man 
tormented me strangely although it had been in lawful self- 
defence, and against my own wish. I had not yet arrived at 
that sublime indifference towards men's lives to which I after- 
wards attained. 

" At C I again came across several of the young fellows 

with whom we had travelled. This pleased me ; I formed a 
closer connection with them, and they introduced me into 
several agreeable houses. I had become completely used to 
my dress, and the ruder and more active life that I had led, 
and the violent exercises to which I had devoted myself, had 
made me twice as robust as I had been before. I followed 
these mad-caps everywhere ; I rode, hunted, had orgies with 
them, for little by little I had come to drink ; without attaining 
to the perfectly German capacity of some among them, I could 
empty two or three bottles for my share without getting very 
tipsy, which was very satisfactory progress. I made verses like 
a god with extreme copiousness, and kissed inn-servants with 
sufficient boldness. 

" In short, I was an accomplished young cavalier in complete 
comformity with fne iabi fashionable pattern. I got rid of certain 
countrified notions that I had had about virtue and other 
similar tarradiddles ; on the other hand, I became so pro- 
digiously delicate in point of honour that I fought a duel nearly 
every day : it even became a necessity with me to do so, a sort 
of indispensable ecercise without which I should have felt out of 
sorts the whole day. Accordingly, when no one had looked at 
me or trodden on my foot and I had no motive for fighting, 
rather than remain idle and not exercise myself in fencing, I 
would act as second to my comrades or even to men whom I 
knew only by name. 

" I had soon a colossal renown for bravery, and nothing short 
of it was necessary to check the pleasantries which would 
infallibly have been suggested by my beardless face and effem- 
inate appearance. But two or three superfluous button-holes 
that I had opened in some doublets, and a few slices that I very 
delicately cut from some recalcitrant skins, caused my appear 



328 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUI N. 

ance to be generally considered more manly than that of Mars 
in person or of Priapus himself, and you might have met with 
people who would have sworn that they had held bastards of 
mine over the baptismal font 

" Through all this apparent dissipation, amid this riotous, 
extravagant life, I ceased not to pursue my original idea, that is 
to say the conscientious study of man and the solution of the 
great problem of a perfect lover, a problem somewhat more 
difficult to solve than that of the philosopher's stone. 

" Certain ideas are like the horizon which most certainly 
exists since you see it in front of you in whatever direction you 
turn, but which flees obstinately before you, and, whether you 
go at a foot pace or at a gallop, keeps always at the same 
distance from you ; for it cannot manifest itself except with a 
determined condition of remoteness; it is destroyed in pro- 
portion as you advance, to be formed further away with its 
fleeting imperceptib'e azure, and it is in vain that you try to 
detain it by the hem of its flowing mantle. 

" The further I progressed in my knowledge of the animal, 
the more I saw how utterly impossible was the realisation of my 
desire, and how completely external to the conditions of its 
nature was that which I found indispensable to an auspicious 
love. I convinced myself that the man who would be the 
most sincerely in love with me would with the greatest readi- 
ness in the world find means to make me the most wretched 
of women, and yet I had already abandoned many of my 
girlish requirements. I had come down from the sublime 
clouds, not altogether into the street and the kennel, but upon 
a hill of medium height, accessible though somewhat steep. 

" The ascent, it is true, was rude enough ; but I was 
so proud as to believe that I was quite worth the trouble of 
the effort, and that I should be a sufficient compensation for 
the pains that had been taken. I could never have prevailed 
upon myself to take a step forward ; I waited, perched 
patiently upon my summit. 

" My plan was as follows : In my male attire I should have 
made the acquaintance of some young man whose exterioi 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 329 

pleased me ; I should have lived on familiar terms with him ; 
by means of skilful questions and false confidences which would 
have challenged true ones, I should soon have acquired a com- 
plete knowledge of his feelings and thoughts ; and, if I found 
him such a one as I wished him to be, I should have alleged 
some journey, and kept away from him for three or four months 
to give him time to forget my features; then I should have 
returned in my woman's costume, and arranged a voluptuous 
little house, buried amid trees and flowers, in a retired suburb ; 
then I should have so ordered matters that he would have met 
me and wooed me ; and, if he showed a true and faithful love, 
I should have given myself to him without restriction or pre- 
caution : the title of his mistress would have appeared honour- 
able to me, and I should not have asked him for any other. 

" But assuredly this plan will never be put into execution, 
for it is characteristic of plans never to be executed, wherein 
principally appear the frailty of the will and the mere nothing- 
ness of man. The proverb ' God wills what woman wills ' has 
no more truth in it than any other proverb, that is to say, it 
has hardly any at all. 

" So long as I had seen men only at a distance and through 
the medium of my desire, they had appeared comely to me, and 
my sight had deceived me. Now I consider them frightful in 
the highest degree, and do not understand how a woman can 
admit such a creature into her bed ; for my part, it would turn 
my stomach, and I could never bring myself to it. 

" How coarse and ignoble are their lineaments, and how de- 
void of delicacy and elegance ! what unfinished and unpleasing 
lines ! what hard, dark, and furrowed skin ! Some are as 
swarthy as men that had been hanged for six months, emaciated, 
bony, hairy, with violin-strings on their hands, large drawbridge 
feet, dirty moustaches always full of food and twirled back to the 
ears, hair as rough as a broom's bristles, chins ending like boars' 
heads, lips cracked and dried by strong liquors, eyes sur- 
rounded by three or four dark orbs, necks full of twisted veins, 
big muscles and prominent cartilages. Others are stuffed with 
red meat, and push on before them a belly that their waist-beit 

x 



330 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

can scarcely span ; they blink as they open their little sea- 
green eyes inflamed with luxury, and resemble hippopotamuses 
in breeches rather than human creatures. They always smell 
either of wine, or brandy, or tobacco, or else of their own natural 
odour, which is the very worst of all. As to those whose forms 
are somewhat less disgusting, they are like misshapen women. 
And that is all. 

" I had not remarked all this. I had been in life as in a 
cloud, and my feet scarcely touched the earth. The odour of 
the roses and lilacs of spring went to my head like too strong a 
perfume. I dreamt only of accomplished heroes, faithful and 
respectful lovers, flames worthy of the altar, marvellous devo- 
tions and sacrifices, and I should have thought that I had found 
them all in the first blackguard that bade me good day. Yet 
this first, coarse intoxication had no long duration ; strange sus- 
picions seized me, and I could have no rest until I had cleared 
them up. 

" At first my horror of men was pushed to the last degree of 
exaggeration, and I looked upon them as dreadful monstrosi- 
ties. Their modes of thought, their manners and their care- 
lessly cynical language, their brutality and their scorn of women 
shocked and revolted me extremely, so little did the idea that I 
had formed of them correspond with the reality. They are not 
monsters, if you will, but something, on my word, that is much 
worse ! They are capital fellows of very jovial disposition, who 
eat and drink well, will do you all kinds of services, are good 
painters and musicians, and are suitable for a thousand things, 
with, however, the single exception of that one for which they, 
were created, namely, to be the male of the animal called 
woman, with which they have not the slightest affinity, physical 
or moral. 

" Originally, I could scarcely disguise the contempt with 
which they inspired me, but by degrees I became accustomed 
to their manner of life. I was as little annoyed by the jests 
that they launched against women as if I had myself belonged 
to their own sex. On the contrary, I made some very good ones, 
the success of which singularly flattered my pride; certainly 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN 331 

none of my comrades went so far as I did in the matter of sar 
casm and pleasantries on this subject. My perfect knowledge 
of the ground gave me a great advantage, and, besides any 
piquant turn that they might have, my epigrams shone in virtue 
of an accuracy that was often wanting in theirs. For although 
all the evil that is said of women has always some foundation, 
it is nevertheless difficult for men to preserve the composure 
requisite in order to jest about them well, and there is often a 
good deal of love in their invectives. 

" I remarked that it was those that were most tender and had 
most feeling about women who treated them worse than the 
rest, and who returned to the subject with quite a peculiar bitter- 
ness as though they owed them a mortal grudge for not being 
what they wished them to be, and for falsifying the good opinion 
they had first formed about them. 

" What I desired above all things was not physical beauty, 
it was beauty of the soul, love ; but love, as I am sensible of it, 
is perhaps beyond human possibilities. And yet it seems to 
me that I should love in this way, and that I should give more 
than I require. 

" What magnificent madness ! what sublime extravagance ! 

" To surrender yourself entirely without any self-reservation, 
to renounce the possession of yourself and the freedom of your 
will, to place the latter in the hands of another, to see only 
with his eyes and hear only with his ears, to be but one in two 
bodies, to blend and mingle your souls so that you cannot tell 
whether you are yourself or the other, to absorb and radiate 
continually, to be now the moon and now the sun, to see the 
whole of the world and of creation in a single being, to displace 
the centre of life, to be ready, at any time, for the greatest 
sacrifices and the most absolute abnegation, to suffer in the 
bosom of the person loved as though it were your own ; O 
wonder ! to double yourself while giving yourself such is love 
as I conceive it. 

" Fidelity like that of the ivy, entwinings as of the young 
vine, and cooings as of the turtle-dove, these are matters of 
course, and are the first and simplest conditions. 



332 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

" Had I remained at home, in the costume of my sex, turning 
my wheel with melancholy or making tapestry behind a pane in 
the embrasure of a window, what I have sought for through the 
world would perhaps have come and found me of itself. Love 
is like fortune, and dislikes to be pursued. It visits by pre- 
ference those that are sleeping on the edge of wells, and the 
kisses of queens and gods often descend upon closed eyes. It 
is a lure and a deception to think that all adventures and all 
happiness exist only in those places where you are not, and it is 
a miscalculation to have your horse saddled and to post off in 
quest of your ideal Many people make, and many others 
will again make this mistake. The horizon is always of the 
most charming azure, although when you reach it the hills com- 
posing it are usually but poor, cracked clay, or ochre washed by 
the rain. 

" I had imagined that the world was full of adorable youths, 
and that populations of Esplandians, Amadises, and Lancelots 
of the Lake were to be met with on the roads in pursuit of their 
Dulcineas; and I was greatly astonished that the world took 
very little heed of this sublime search and was content to 
share the couch of the first prostitute that came in the way. I 
am well punished for my curiosity and distrust. I am surfeited 
in the most horrible manner possible without having enjoyed. 
With me knowledge has gone before use ; nothing can be worse 
than such premature experiences which are not the fruit of 
action. 

" The completest ignorance would be a thousand times 
better; it would at least make you do many foolish things 
which would serve to instruct you and to rectify your ideas ; for, 
beneath the disgust of which I have been speaking, there is always 
a lively and rebellious element which produces the strangest 
disorders : the mind is vanquished, but the body is not, and 
will not subscribe to this superb disdain. The young and 
robust body strives and kicks beneath the mind like a vigorous 
stallion ridden by a feeble old man, whom, however, he is 
unable to throw, for the cavesson holds his head and the bit 
tears his mouth. 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 333 

Since I have lived with men, I have seen so many women 
basely betrayed, so many secret connections imprudently di 
vulged, the purest loves dragged carelessly through the mire, 
young fellows hastening to frightful courtesans on leaving the 
arms of the most charming mistresses, the most firmly estab- 
lished amours suddenly broken off without any plausible motive, 
that I now find it impossible to decide on taking a lover. It 
would be to throw oneself in broad daylight and with open eyes 
into a bottomless abyss. Nevertheless, the secret desire of my 
heart is still to have one. The voice of nature stifles the voice 
of reason. I am quite sensible that I shall never be happy if I 
cannot love and be loved : but the misfortune is that only a 
man can be had as a lover, and if men are not altogether devils, 
they are very far from being angels. It would be vain for them 
to stick feathers on their shoulder-blades, and put a glory of 
gilt paper on their heads : I know them too well to be de- 
ceived. All the fine things that they could whisper to me 
would be of no avail. I know beforehand what they are going 
to say, and could say it for them. 

" I have seen them studying their parts and rehearsing them 
before going on in front ; I know the chief of the tirades that 
they intend to be effective and the passages on which they rely. 
Neither paleness of face nor alteration of feature would convince 
me. I know that these prove nothing. A night of orgie, a few 
bottles of wine, and two or three girls, are sufficient to wrinkle 
your face most becomingly. I have seen this trick practised 
by a young marquis, by nature very rosy and fresh-coloured, who 
found himself all the better for it, and owed the crowning of his 
passion only to this touching and well-gained paleness. I know 
also how the most languorous Celadons console themselves 
for the harshness of their Astraeas and find means for being 
patient while waiting for the happy hour. I have seen sluts 
serving as substitutes for chaste Ariadnes. 

" Truly, after this, man tempts me but little ; for he does not 
possess beauty like woman, beauty, that splendid garment which 
so well disguises the imperfections of the soul, that divine 
drapery cast by God over the nakedness of the world, and which 



334 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

makes it in some measure excusable to love the vilest courtesan 
of the kennel if she owns this magnificent and royal gift. 

" In default of the virtues of the soul, I should at least wish 
for exquisite perfection of form, salinity of flesh, roundness of 
contour, sweetness of line, delicacy of skin, all that makes the 
charm of women. Since I cannot have love, I would have 
voluptuousness, and, well or ill, replace the brother by the 
sister. But all the men that I have seen seem to me frightfully 
ugly. My horse is a hundred times more handsome, and I 
should have less repugnance to kissing him than to kissing 
sundry wonderful fellows who believe themselves very charm- 
ing. Certainly a fop like those of my acquaintance would not 
be a brilliant theme for me to embellish with variations of 
pleasure 

" A soldier would suit me nearly as little ; military men have 
something mechanical in their walk and something bestial in 
their face which makes me look upon them as scarcely human 
creatures ; gentlemen of the long robe are not more delightful 
to me, they are dirty, oily, shaggy, threadbare, with glaucous 
eyes and lipless mouths ; they smell immoderately rancid and 
mouldy, and I should feel no inclination to lay my face against 
their lynx or badger-like muzzles. As to poets, they think of 
nothing in the world but the endings of words and go no 
further back than to the penultimate, and, in truth, are diffi- 
cult to make use of suitably ; they are more wearisome 
than the others, but they are as ugly and have not the least 
distinction or elegance in their figure and dress, which is truly 
singular : men who are occupied the whole day with form and 
beauty do not perceive that their boots are badly made and 
their hats ridiculous ! They look like country apothecaries or 
teachers of learned dogs out of work, and would give you a dis- 
taste for poetry and verse for several eternities. 

"As for painters, their stupidity also is enormous; they see 
nothing except the seven colours. One with whom I had spent 

a few days at R , and who was asked what he thought of 

me, made this ingenious reply : ' He is rather warm in tone, and 
in the shadows pure Naples yellow should be employed instead 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 335 

of white, with a little Cassel ochre and reddish brown.' Such 
was his opinion, and, moreover, his nose was crooked and his 
eyes like his nose ; which did not improve his chances. Whom 
shall I take? a soldier with bulging crop, a limb of the 
law with convex shoulders, a poet or painter with a wild look, 
a lean little coxcomb without consistence ? Which cage shall I 
choose in this menagerie ? I am quite unable to say ; I feel as 
little inclination in one direction as in another, for they are as 
perfectly equal in point of foolishness and ugliness as they can 
possibly be. 

" Another alternative would still be open to me, which would 
be to take any one that I loved though he were a porter or a 
jockey ; but I do not love even a porter. O unhappy heroine 
that I am ! unmated turtle-dove condemned eternally to utter 
elegiac cooings ! 

" Oh ! how many times have I wished to be really a man as 
I appear to be ! How many women are there with whom I 
should have had a fellow-feeling, and whose hearts would have 
understood mine ! how perfectly happy should I have been 
rendered by those delicacies of love, those noble flights of pure 
passion to which I could have replied ! What sweetness, what 
delight ! how would all the sensitive plants of my soul have 
bloomed freely without being obliged every minute to contract 
and close beneath some coarse touch ! What charming efflor- 
escence of invisible flowers which will never open, and whose 
mysterious perfume would have tenderly embalmed the fraternal 
soul ! It seems to me that it would have been an enchanting 
life, an infinite ecstasy with ever outstretched wings ; walks, 
with hands entwined never releasing their hold, beneath avenues 
of golden sand, through groves of eternally-smiling roses, in 
parks full of fish-ponds with gliding swans, and alabaster vases 
standing out against the foliage. 

" Had I been a youth, how I should have loved Rosette ! 
what worship it would have been ! Our souls were truly made 
for each other, two pearls destined to blend together and make 
but one ! How perfectly should I have realised the ideas that 
she had formed of love ! Her character suits me completely, 



336 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

and her style of beauty pleases me. It is a pity that our love 
should be totally condemned to indispensable platonism ! 

" An adventure befell me lately. 

" I used to visit a house in which there was a charming little 
girl, fifteen years old at the very most : I have never seen a 
more adorable miniature. She was fair, but so delicately and 
transparently fair that ordinary blondes would have appeared 
excessively brown and as dark as moles beside her ; you would 
have thought that she had golden hair powdered with silver ; 
her eyebrows were of so mild and soft a tint that they were 
scarcely apparent to the sight ; her pale blue eyes had the most 
velvety look and the most silky lashes imaginable ; her mouth, 
too small to put the tip of your finger into it, added still further 
to the childish and exquisite character of her beauty, and the 
gentle curves and dimples of her cheeks had an ingenuousness 
that was unspeakably charming. The whole of her dear little 
person delighted me beyond all expression ; I loved her frail, 
white, little hands through which you could see the light, her 
bird-like foot which scarcely touched the ground, her figure which 
a breath would have broken, and her pearly shoulders, little 
developed as yet, which her scarf, placed awry, happily disclosed. 

" Her prattle, in which artlessness imparted fresh piquancy to 
her natural wit, would engage me for whole hours, and I took 
singular pleasure in making her talk ; she would utter a 
thousand delicious comicalities, now with extraordinary nicety 
of intention, and now without having apparently the slightest 
comprehension of their scope, which made them a thousand 
times more attractive. I used to give her bon-bons' and 
lozenges, kept expressly for her in a light tortoise-shell box, 
which pleased her greatly, for she is dainty like the true little 
puss that she is. As soon as I arrived she would run up to me 
and try my pockets to see whether the blissful bon-bon box 
was there ; I would make her run from one hand to the other, 
and this would occasion a little battle in which she in the end 
infallibly got the upper hand and completely plundered me. 

" One day, however, she contented herself with greeting me 
in a very grave manner, and did not come as usual to see 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 337 

whether the sweetmeat fountain was still flowing in my pocket ; 
she remained haughtily on her chair, quite upright and with her 
elbows drawn back. 

" ' Well ! Ninon,' I said to her, ' have you become fond of 
salt now, or are you afraid that sweets will make your teeth 
drop out?' And as I spoke I tapped the box, which gave 
forth the most honeyed and sugary sound in the world from 
beneath my jacket. 

" She put her little tongue half way out on the edge of her 
lips as though to taste the ideal sweetness of the absent bon-bon, 
but she did not stir. 

" Then I drew the box from my pocket, opened it, and 
began religiously to swallow the burnt almonds of which she 
was especially fond : the greedy instinct was for a moment 
stronger than her resolution ; she put out her hand to take 
some and drew it back again immediately, saying, ' I am too 
big to eat sweets ! ' And she heaved a sigh. 

u ' It did not strike me that you had grown very much since 
last week; you must be like the mushrooms which spring up 
in a night. Come and let me measure you.' 

" ' Laugh as much as you like,' she rejoined with a charming 
pout ; ' I am no longer a little girl, and I want to grow very big.' 

" ' Your resolutions are excellent, and should be adhered to ; 
but might it be known, my dear young lady, what has caused 
these lofty ideas to come into your head ? For, a week ago, 
you appeared quite content to be small, and craunched your 
burnt almonds without caring very much about compromising 
your dignity.' 

"The little creature looked at me in a singular manner, 
glanced around her, and, when she had quite satisfied herself 
that no one could hear us, leaned over towards me in a mysterious 
fashion and said : 

" ' I have a lover.' 

" ' The deuce ! I am no longer surprised that you have 
ceased to care for lozenges ; you were wrong, however, not tc 
take some, for you might have had a doll's dinner-party with 
him, or exchanged them for a shuttlecock.' 



338 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

" The child made a scornful movement with her shoulders 
and appeared to look upon me with perfect contempt. As 
she continued to maintain her attitude of an offended queen, 
I continued : 

" ' What is the name of this glorious personage ? Arthur, I 
suppose, or else Henry.' These were two little boys with 
whom she used to play, and whom she called her husbands. 

" ' No, neither Arthur nor Henry,' she said, fixing her clear, 
transparent eye upon me, ' a gentleman.' She raised her hand 
above her head to give me an idea of height. 

" ' As tall as that ? Why, this is getting serious. And who 
is this tall lover ? ' 

" ' Monsieur Theodore, I will tell you, but you must not speak 
about it to any one, neither to mamma, or Polly (her gover- 
ness), or your friends who think me a child and would make 
fun of me.' 

" I promised the most inviolable secrecy, for I was very 
curious to know who the gallant personage was, and the child, 
seeing that I was making fun of the matter, hesitated to take 
me entirely into her confidence. 

" Reassured by the word of honour that I gave her to be 
carefully silent about it, she left her easy-chair, came and 
leaned over the back of mine, and whispered the name of the 
beloved prince very softly in my ear. 

" I was confounded : it was the Chevalier de G , a dirty, 

intractable animal, with the morals of a schoolmaster and the 
physique of a drum-major, the most intemperate debauchee of 
a man that could possibly be seen, a genuine satyr, minus the 
goat's feet and the pointed ears. This inspired me with grave 
apprehensions for dear Ninon, and I made up my mind to put 
the matter to rights. 

" Some people came in, and the conversation dropped. 

" I withdrew into a corner and searched my brain for the 
means of preventing things from going further, for it would 
have been quite a sin for so delicious a creature to fall to such 
an arrant scoundrel. 

" The little one's mother was a kind of courtesan who kept 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 339 

gaming tables and had a literary salon. Bad verses were read 
at her house and good money lost, which was a compensation. 
She had not much love for her daughter, who was, to her, a 
sort of living baptismal certificate which prevented her falsifying 
her chronology. Besides, the child was growing up, and her 
budding charms gave rise to comparisons which were not to 
the advantage of the prototype, already somewhat worn by the 
action of years and men. The child was accordingly rather 
neglected, and was left defenceless to the enterprises of the 
blackguards who frequented the house. If her mother had 
taken any notice of her, it would probably have been only to 
profit by her youth and trade on her beauty and innocence. In 
one way or another the fate that awaited her was not in doubt. 
This pained me, for she was a charming little creature who was 
assuredly deserving of better things, a pearl of the finest water 
lost in that infectious slough; the thought of it affected me 
so far that I resolved to get her at all costs out of that frightful 
house. 

" The first thing to be done was to prevent the chevalier 
from pursuing his design. I thought that the best and simplest 
way was to pick a quarrel with him and make him fight a duel, 
and I had all the trouble in the world to do so, for he is as 
cowardly as he can be and dreads blows more than any one. 
At last I said so many stinging things to him, that he was 
obliged to make up his mind to come on the ground, although 
it was greatly against the grain. I even threatened to have him 
cudgelled by my footman if he did not put a better face on it. 
Nevertheless he could handle his sword well enough, but he 
was so confused by fear that we had hardly crossed our weapons 
when I was able to administer a nice little thrust which sent 
him to bed for a fortnight. This satisfied me ; I had no wish 
to kill him, and would as soon have let him live to be hanged 
later on a touching attention for which he ought to have been 
more grateful to me ! My rogue being stretched between a 
pair of sheets and duly trussed with bandelets, it only remained 
to induce the little one to leave the house, which was not 
extremely difficult. 



340 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

" I told her a story about her lover's disappearance, which 
was giving her extraordinary anxiety. I informed her that he 
had gone off with an actress belonging to the company then at 

C , which, as you may believe, made her very indignant 

But I consoled her by speaking ill in every way of the chevalier, 
who was ugly, drunken, and already old, and I ended by asking 
her whether she would not rather have me for a wooer. She 
replied that she would, because I was handsomer, and my 
clothes were new. This artlessness, spoken with enormous 
seriousness, made me laugh till I cried. I turned the little 
one's head and succeeded in inducing her to leave the house. 
A few bouquets, about as many kisses, and a pearl necklace 
that I gave her, charmed her to an extent difficult to describe, 
and she assumed an important air in the presence of her little 
friends which was extremely laughable. 

" I had a very rich and elegant page's costume of about her 
size made, for I could not take her away in her girl's dress, 
unless I myself resumed female attire, which I was unwilling to 
do. I bought a pony, which was gentle and easy to ride, 
and yet a sufficiently good courser to follow my barb when it 
was my pleasure to go quickly. Then I told the fair one to try 
to come down at dusk to the door, where I would call for her ; 
and this she very punctually did. I found her mounting guard 
behind the half-opened door. I passed very close to the 
house ; she came out, I stretched out my hand to her, she 
rested her foot on the tip of mine, and jumped very nimbly 
up behind me, for she possessed marvellous agility. I spurred 
my horse, and succeeded in returning home through seven or 
eight circuitous and deserted lanes without any one seeing us. 

" I made her exchange her clothes for her disguise, and my- 
self acted as her maid ; at first she made a little fuss, and wished 
to dress all alone ; but I made her understand that this would 
waste a great deal of time ; that, moreover, being my mistress, it 
was not in the least improper, and that such was the custom 
between lovers. This was quite enough to convince her, and 
she yielded to circumstances with the best grace in the world. 

" Her body was a little marvel of delicacy. Her arms, which 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 341 

were somewhat thin like those of every young girl, had inex- 
pressible sweetness of line, and her budding breasts gave such 
charming promise, that none better developed could have sus- 
tained a comparison with them. She had still all the graces of 
the child, and already all the charm of the woman ; she was in 
that adorable transition period when the little girl is blended 
with the young girl : a blending fugitive and impalpable, a 
delicious epoch when beauty is full of hope, and when every 
day, instead of taking something from your love, adds new per- 
fections to it. 

" Her costume became her extremely well. It gave her a 
little unruly air, which was very curious and diverting, and made 
her burst out laughing when I offered her the glass to let her 
judge of the effect of her toilet. I afterwards made her eat 
some biscuits dipped in Spanish wine, in order to give her 
courage and enable her better to support the fatigue of the 
journey. 

" The horses were waiting ready saddled in the courtyard ; 
she mounted hers with some deliberation, I bestrode the other, 
and we set out. Night had completely fallen, and occasional 
lights, which were being extinguished every moment, showed 

that the honest town of C was virtuously engaged as every 

country town ought to be on the stroke of nine. 

"We could not go very quickly, for Ninon was no better 
horsewoman than she ought to have been, and when her beast 
began to trot she would cling with all her might to his mane. 
However, on the following morning we were too far away to be 
overtaken, at all events unless extraordinary diligence had been 
employed ; but we were not pursued, or at least, if we were, it 
was in an opposite direction to that which we had taken. 

" I was singularly interested in the little fair one. I no 
longer had you with me, my dear Graciosa, and I was im- 
mensely sensible of the need of loving somebody or some- 
thing, of having a dog or a child with me to caress familiarly. 
Ninon was this to me ; she shared my bed and put her little 
arms around my body to go to sleep ; she most seriously 
thought herself my mistress, and had no doubt that I was a 



342 ^MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

man ; her great youth and extreme innocence preserved her in 
this error which I was careful not to dissipate. The kisses 
that I gave her quite completed her illusion, for her ideas went, 
as yet, no further, and her desires did not speak loudly enough 
to cause her to suspect anything else. After all, she was only 
partly mistaken. 

"And, really, there was the same difference between her and 
me, as there is between myself and men. She was so diaphanous, 
so slender, so light, of so delicate and choice a nature, that she 
was a woman even to me who am myself a woman, and who look 
like a Hercules beside her. I am tall and dark, she is small 
and blonde ; her features are so soft that they make mine 
appear almost hard and austere, and her voice is so melodious 
a warble that mine seems harsh in comparison. If a man had 
her he would break her in pieces, and I always feel afraid thai 
the wind will carry her off some fine morning. I should like to 
enclose her in a box of cotton and wear her hanging about my 
neck. You can have no conception, my dear friend, of her 
grace and wit, her delicious coaxing, her childlike endearments, 
her little ways and pretty manners. She is the most adorable 
creature in existence, and it would have been truly a pity had 
she remained with her unworthy mother. 

" I took a malicious joy in thus depriving men's rapacity of 
such a treasure. I was the griffin preventing all approach, and, 
if I did not enjoy her myself, at least no one else enjoyed 
her an idea which is always consoling, let all the foolish 
detractors of egotism say what they will. 

" I intended to preserve her in her ignorance as long as 
possible, and to keep her with me until she was unwilling to 
stay any longer, or I had succeeded in securing a settlement 
for her. 

"In her boy's dress I took her on all my journeys, right and 
left ; this mode of life gave her singular pleasure, and the 
charm that she found in it assisted her to endure its fatigues. 
Everywhere I was complimented on the exquisite beauty of my 
page, and I have no doubt that it gave many people a precisely 
contrary idea of what was actually the case. Several even 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN 

tried to unravel the mystery ; but I did not allow the little 
one to speak to anybody, and the curious were completely 
disappointed. 

" Every day I discovered some new quality in this amiable 
child which made me cherish her more and congratulate 
myself on the resolution I had taken. Assuredly men were 
not worthy to possess her, and it would have been a deplor- 
able thing if so many bodily and spiritual charms had been 
surrendered to their brutal appetites and cynical depravity. 

" Only a woman could love her with sufficient delicacy and 
tenderness. One side of my character, which could not have 
been developed in a different connection and which was com 
pletely brought out in the present one, is the need and desire 
of affording protection, a duty which usually belongs to men. If 
I had taken a lover it would have displeased me extremely to 
find him assuming to defend me, for the reason that this is an 
attention I love to show to those whom I like, and that my 
pride is much better suited with the first role than with the 
second, although the second may be more agreeable. Thus I 
felt pleased in paying my little darling all the attentions which 
I ought to have liked to receive, such as assisting her on difficult 
roads, holding her bridle or stirrup, serving her at table, un- 
dressing her and putting her to bed, defending her if any one 
insulted her ; in short, doing everything for her that the most 
impassioned and attentive lover does for a mistress he adores. 

" I was insensibly losing the idea of my sex, and it was with 
difficulty that I remembered, at considerable intervals, that I 
was a woman ; at first I often forgot myself, and unthinkingly 
said something that did not harmonise with the coat I wore. 
Now this never happens, and even when writing to you, to you 
who are in my secret, I sometimes preserve a useless virility in 
my adjectives. If ever I take a fancy to go and look for my 
skirts in the drawer where I left them which I think ver) 
doubtful, unless I fall in love with some young spark I shall 
find it difficult to lose these habits, and, instead of being a 
woman disguised as a man, I shall look like a man disguised as 
a woman. In truth, neither of the two sexes are mine ; I have 



.$44 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

not the imbecile submission, the timidity or the littleness of 
women ; I have not the vices, the disgusting intemperance, or 
the brutal propensities of men : I belong to a third, distinct sex. 
which as yet has no name : higher or lower, more defective or 
superior ; I have the body and soul of a woman, the mind and 
power of a man, and I have too much or too little of both to 
be able to pair with either. 

" O Graciosa ! I shall never be able to completely love any 
one, man or woman ; an unsated something ever chides within 
me, and the lover or friend answers only to a single aspect of 
my character. If I had a lover, the feminine element in me 
would doubtless for a time dominate over the manly, but this 
would not last for long, and I feel that I should be only half 
satisfied ; if I have a friend, the idea of corporeal voluptuous- 
ness prevents me from tasting entirely the pure voluptuousness 
of the soul ; so that I know not where to rest, and perpetually 
waver from one to the other. 

" My chimera would be to have both sexes in turn in order 
to satisfy this double nature : a man to-day, a woman to-morrow, 
for my lovers I should keep my languorous tenderness, my sub- 
missive and devoted ways, my softest caresses, my little sadly- 
drawn sighs, all the cat-like and woman-like elements in my 
character; then with my mistresses I should be enterprising, bold, 
impassioned, with triumphant manners, my hat on my ear, and 
the style of a boaster and adventurer. My nature would thus 
be entirely brought out, and I should be perfectly happy, for 
true happiness consists in the ability to develop freely in every 
direction and to be all that it is possible to be. 

" But these are impossibilities, and are not to be thought of. 

" I had carried off the child with the idea of deluding my 
propensities and turning upon some one all the vague ten- 
derness which floats in my soul and floods it ; I had taken her 
as a sort of escape for my loving faculties ; but I soon recog- 
nised, in spite of all the affection that I bore her, what an 
immense void, what a bottomless abyss she lelt in my heart, 
and how little her tenderest caresses contented me ! I resolved 
to try a lover, but a long time passed and I met no one who did 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 345 

not displease me. I forgot to tell you that Rosette, having 
discovered whither I was gone, had written me the most be- 
seeching letter to go and see her ; I could not refuse her, and I 
met her again at a country house where she was. I returned 
there several times, and even quite lately. Rosette, in despair 
at not having had me for her lover, had thrown herself into the 
whirl of society and dissipation, like all tender souls that are not 
religious and that have been wounded in their first love ; she 
had had many adventures in a short time, and the list of her 
conquests was already very numerous, for every one had not 
the same reasons for resisting her that I had. 

" She had with her a young man named D' Albert, who was 
at the time her established lover. I appeared to make quite a 
peculiar impression upon him, and at the very first he took a 
strong liking to me. 

" Although he treated Rosette with great deference, and his 
manners towards her were in the main tender enough, he did 
not love her, not owing to satiety or distaste, but rather because 
she did not correspond to certain ideas, true or false, which he 
had formed concerning love and beauty. An ideal cloud inter- 
posed between him and her, and prevented him from being 
as happy as otherwise he must have been. Evidently his dream 
was not fulfilled, and he sighed for something else. But he did 
not seek for it, and remained faithful to the bonds which 
weighed on him ; for he has more delicacy and honour in his 
soul than most men, and his heart is very far from being as 
corrupted as his mind. Not knowing that Rosette had never 
been in love except with me, and that she was so still, in spite 
of all her intrigues and follies, he had a dread of distressing her 
by letting her see that he did not love her. It was this consi- 
deration that restrained him, and he was sacrificing himself 
in the most generous way. 

"The character of my features gave him extraordinary 
pleasure, for he attaches extreme importance to external form ; 
so much so that he fell in love with me in spite of my male 
attire and the formidable rapier which I wear at my side. I 
confess that I was grateful to him for the acuteness of his 

Y 



346 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

instinct, and that I held him in some esteem for having dis- 
tinguished me beneath these delusive appearances. At the 
beginning he believed himself endowed with a fancy far more 
depraved than it really was, and I laughed inwardly to see 
him torment himself in this way. Sometimes, when accosting 
me, he had a frightened look which amused me immensely, 
and the very natural inclination which drew him towards me 
appeared to him as a diabolical impulse which could not be 
too strongly resisted. On such occasions he would fall back 
furiously upon Rosette, and endeavour to recover more ortho- 
dox habits of love ; then he would come back to me, of course 
more inflamed than before. 

" Then the luminous idea that I might perhaps be a woman 
crept into his mind. To convince himself of this he set himsell 
to observe and study me with the minutest attention ; he must 
be acquainted with every particular hair, and know accurately 
how many eyelashes I have on my lids ; feet, hands, neck, 
cheeks, the slightest down at the corner of my lips, he exa- 
mined, compared, and analysed them all, and from this in- 
vestigation, in which the artist aided the lover, it came out as 
clear as day (when it is clear), that I was well and duly a woman, 
and, moreover, his ideal, the type of his beauty, the reality of 
his dream ; a wonderful discovery ! 

" It only remained to soften me, and obtain the gift of 
amorous mercy, to completely establish my sex. A comedy 
which we acted, and in which I appeared as a woman, quite 
decided him. I gave him some equivocal glances, and made 
use of some passages in my part, analogous to our own situa- 
tion, to embolden him and impel him to declare himself. For, 
if I did not passionately love him, he pleased me well enough 
not to let him pine away with love ; and, as he was the first since 
my transformation to suspect that I was a woman, it was quite 
fair that I should enlighten him on this important point, and 
I was resolved not to leave him a shadow of doubt. 

' Several limes he came into my room with his declaration 
on his lips, but he dared not utter it ; for, indeed, it is diffi- 
cult to speak of love to one who is dressed like yourself, and 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 347 

is trying on riding boots. At last, unable to take it upon 
himself to do this, he wrote me a long, very Pindaric letter, in 
which he explained to me at great length what I knew better 
than he did. 

" I do not quite know what I ought to do. Admit his request 
or reject it, the latter would be immoderately virtuous; besides, 
his grief at finding himself refused would be too great : if we 
make people who love us unhappy, what are we to do to those 
who hate us ? Perhaps it would be more strictly becoming to 
be cruel for a time, and wait at least a month before unhooking 
the tigress's skin to dress after the human fashion in a chemise. 
But, since I have resolved to yield to him, immediately is as good 
as later; I do not well understand those mathematically gradu- 
ated resistances which surrender one hand to-day, the other to- 
morrow, then the waist and the neck, and next submit the lips 
to a lover's kisses; nor those intractable virtues which are 
always ready to hang themselves to the bell-rope if you pass 
by a hair's-breadth beyond the territory which they have re- 
solved to grant on that day. It makes me laugh to see those 
methodical Lucretias walking backwards with the tokens of the 
most maidenly terror, and from time to time casting a furtive 
glance over their shoulder to make sure that the sofa on which 
they are to faint is quite directly behind them. I could never 
be as careful as that. 

" I do not love D'Albert, at least in the sense which I give 
to the word, but I have certainly a liking and an inclination for 
him ; his mind pleases me and his person does not repel me r 
there are not many people of whom I can say as much. He 
has not everything, but he has something ; what pleases me 
in him is that he does not seek to satiate himself brutally like 
other men ; he has a perpetual aspiration and an ever sustained 
breathing after beauty, after material beauty alone, it is true, 
but still it is a noble inclination, and one which is sufficient 
to keep him in pure regions. His conduct towards Rosette 
proves honesty of heart, an honesty rarer than the other, if that 
be possible. 

" And then, if I must tell you, I am possessed with the most 



34 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

violent desires, I am languishing and dying of voluptuousness ; 
for the dress I wear, while involving me in all sorts of adven- 
tures with women, protects me only too perfectly against the 
enterprises of men ; an idea of pleasure which is never realised 
floats vaguely through my head, and this dull, colourless dream 
wearies and annoys me. So many women placed amid the 
chastest surroundings lead the most immoral lives, while I, by 
a somewhat facetious contrast, remain chaste and virgin like 
cold Diana herself, in the midst of the most disordered dis- 
sipation and surrounded by the greatest debauchees of the 
century. 

" This bodily ignorance unaccompanied by ignorance of the 
mind is the most miserable thing in existence. That my flesh 
may have no cause to assume airs over my soul, I am anxious 
to know a man completely and all that his love is capable of. 
Since D'Albert has recognised me beneath my disguise, it is quite 
fair that he should be rewarded for his penetration ; he was the 
first to divine that I was a woman, and I shall prove to him to 
the best of my ability that his suspicions were well founded. I' 
would be scarcely charitable to let him believe that his fancj 
was solely a monstrous one. 

" D'Albert it is, then, who will solve my doubts and give me 
my first lesson in love : the only question now is to bring the 
matter about in quite a poetical fashion. I am inclined not to 
reply to his letter and to look coldly on him for a few days. 
When I see him very sad and despairing, inveighing against the 
gods, shaking his fist at creation, and looking down the wells to 
see whether they are not too deep to throw himself into them, 
I shall retire like Peau d'Ane to the end of the corridor, and 
put on my light-blue dress, that is to say my costume as 
Rosalind ; for my feminine wardrobe is very limited. Then I 
shall go to him as radiant as a peacock displaying its feathers, 
with but a very low and loose lace tucker, partially unveiling 
those attractions which I usually conceal with the greatest 
care, and shall say to him in the most pathetic tone that I 
can assume 

" ' O most elegiac and perspicacious young man ! I am truly 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 349 

a young and modest beauty, one who adores you into the 
bargain, and humbly asks to share your pleasures with you. 
Tell me whether this suits you, or if you feel any scruples in 
according her what she wishes. 

" This fine discourse ended, I shall let myself fall half- 
swooning into his arms, and, heaving melancholy sighs, shall 
skilfully cause the hook of my dress to come undone so that I 
shall still further disclose certain of my charms. The rest I 
shall leave to chance, and I hope that on the following 
morning I shall know what to think of all those fine things 
which have been troubling my brain for so long. While satis- 
fying my curiosity, I shall have the farther pleasure of making 
some one happy. 

" I also propose to go and pay a visit to Rosette in the same 
costume, and to show her that, if I have not responded to her 
love, it was not from coldness or distaste. I do not wish her 
to preserve such a bad opinion of me, and she deserves, equally 
with D'Albcrt, that I should betray my incognito in her favour. 
How will she look at this revelation ? Her pride will be con- 
soled by it, but her love will lament it. 

" Good-bye, most fair and good one ; pray to heaven that I 
may not think as little of the pleasure as I do of those who 
afford it. I have jested throughout this letter, and yet what I 
am going to essay is a serious matter and something which may 
affect the rest of my life." 




XVI. 




T was already more than a fortnight since D'Alben 
had laid his amorous epistle on Theodore's table, 
and yet there seemed to be no change in the 
manner of the latter. D' Albert did not know how 
to account for this silence ; one would have imagined thai 
Theodore had had no knowledge of the letter; the rueful 
D'Albert thought that it had gone astray or been lost ; yet this 
was difficult of explanation, for Theodore had re-entered his 
room a moment afterwards, and it would have been very extra- 
ordinary if he had not perceived a large paper placed quite by 
itself in the middle of a table so as to attract the notice of 
the most inattentive. 

Or was Theodore perhaps really a man and not a woman at 
all, as D'Albert had imagined to himself? or, supposing her a 
woman, had she so decided a feeling of aversion to him, or 
such a contempt for him that she would not condescend even 
to take the trouble of giving him a reply ? The poor young 
man who had not, like ourselves, the advantage of searching 
the portfolio of Graciosa, the confidante of the fair Made- 
moiselle de Maupin, was not in a position to decide any of 
these important questions either in the affirmative or in the 
negative, and he was mournfully wavering in the most wretched 
irresolution. 

One evening he was in his room, his brow pressed with 
melancholy against the window-pane, and was looking, without 
seeing them, at the already bare and reddened chestnut-trees in 
the park. The distance was bathed in a thick mist, a grey 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 351 

rather than black night was falling, and cautiously placing its 
velvety feet on the summits of the trees ; a large swan was 
amorously dipping and redipping its neck and shoulders in the 
steaming water of the river, and its whiteness made it appear 
in the shadow like a large star of snow. It was the only living 
thing to give a little animation to the gloomy landscape. 

D' Albert was thinking as sadly as a disappointed man can 
think at five o'clock on a misty autumn evening with a some- 
what sharp north wind for music, and the wigless skeleton of a 
forest for a prospect. 

He thought of throwing himself into the river, but the 
water seemed very black and cold to him, and the swan's 
example only half persuaded him ; of blowing his brains out, 
but he had neither pistol nor powder, and he would have been 
very sorry to have had them; of taking a new mistress, or, 
sinister resolution, even two ! but he knew none who would suit 
him, even none who would not suit him. In his despair he went 
so far as to wish to resume his connection with women who 
were perfectly insupportable to him, and whom he had had 
horsewhipped out of his house by his footman. He ended 
by resolving upon something much more frightful, to write a 
second letter. 

O sextuple booby ! 

He was at this stage in his meditations, when he felt a hand 
place itself on his shoulder, like a little dove descending on a palm- 
tree. The comparison halts somewhat inasmuch as D'Albert's 
shoulder bore a very slight resemblance to a palm-tree ; but, all 
the same, we shall keep it in a spirit of pure Orientalism. 

The hand was at the extremity of an arm which corre- 
sponded to a shoulder forming part of a body, which was 
nothing else but Theodore-Rosalind, Mademoiselle d'Aubigny, 
or Madelaine de Maupin, to call her by her real name. 

Who was astonished ? Neither I nor you, for you and I had 
long been prepared for this visit ; but D'Albert who had not 
been expecting it in the least. He gave a little cry of surprise 
half-way between oh ! and ah ! Nevertheless [ have the best 
reasons for believing that it was more like ah ! than oh ! 



35 2 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

It was indeed Rosalind, so beautiful and radiant that she lit 
up the whole room, with her strings of pearls in her hair, her 
prismatic dress, her laces, her red-heeled shoes, her handsome 
fan of peacock's plumes, such, in short, as she had been on the 
day of the performance. Only, and this was an important and 
decisive difference, she wore neither gorget, nor chemisette, 
nor ruff, nor anything that effectually hided those two charming 
unfriendly brothers, who, alas ! have only too often a tendency 
to become reconciled. 

A lovely, panting bosom, white, transparent, like an ancient 
marble, of the purest and most exquisite cut, projected boldly 
f rom a very low dress body, and seemed to bid defiance to kisses. 
It was a most reassuring sight ; accordingly D'Albert was very 
^icKly reassured, and he abandoned himself in all confidence 
to his most disorderly emotions. 

" Well ! Orlando, do you not recognise your Rosalind ? " 
said the fair one with the most charming smile ; " or have you, 
perhaps, left your love hanging with your sonnets on some 
bushes in the forest of Arden ? Are you really cured of the 
sickness for which you requested a remedy from me with such 
earnestness ? I am very much afraid so." 

" Oh no ! Rosalind, I am more sick than ever. I am in 
extremity ; I am dead, or very nearly ! " 

" You have not a bad appearance for a dead man ; many 
living persons do not look so well." 

" What a week I have spent ! You cannot imagine it, 
Rosalind. I hope that it will be equivalent to a thousand 
years of purgatory to me in the next world. But, if I dare ask 
you, why did you not reply to me sooner ? " 

" Why ? I scarcely know, unless it be just because I did 
not. However, if this motive does not appear a valid one to 
you, here are three others not nearly so good, from which you 
shall choose : first, because carried away by your passion you 
forgot to write legibly, and it took me more than a week to 
make out what your letter was about; next, because my 
modesty could not reconcile itself in a shorter time to such an 
absurd idea as to take a dithyrambic poet for a lover ; and then 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 353 

because I was not sorry to see whether you would blow your 
brains out, or poison yourself with opium, or hang yourself with 
your garter. There ! " 

" Naughty banterer ! I assure you that you have done well 
to come to-day, for perhaps you would not have found me 
to-morrow." 

'' Really ! poor fellow ! Do not assume such a doleful air, 
for I should also be affected, and that would make me more 
stupid in myself alone than all the animals that were in the ark 
with the deceased Noah. If once I open the sluice for my sen- 
sibility, I warn you that you will be drowned. Just now I gave 
you three bad reasons, I now offer you three good kisses ; will 
you accept them, on the condition that you forget the reasons 
for the kisses ? I owe you quite as much as that and more." 

As she uttered these words the fair infanta advanced towards 
the mournful lover, and threw her beautiful bare arms round his 
neck. D'Albert kissed her effusively on the cheeks and mouth. 
This last kiss had a longer duration than the others, and might 
have been counted as four. Rosalind saw that all that she had 
done until then had been only pure childishness. Her debt 
discharged, she sat down, still greatly moved, on D'Albert's 
knees, and, passing her fingers through his hair, she said to 
him 

" All my cruelties are exhausted, sweet friend ; I took the 
fortnight to satisfy my natural ferocity ; I will confess to you 
that I found it long. Don't become a coxcomb because I am 
frank, but it is true. I place myself in your hands, revenge 
yourself for my past harshness. If you were a fool I should 
not say this, or even anything else to you, for I do not like 
fools. It would have been very easy for me to make you 
believe that I was prodigiously shocked by your boldness, and 
that all your Platonic sighs and your most quintessential non- 
sense were not sufficient to procure you forgiveness for a thing of 
which I was very glad ; I might, like another, have bargained with 
you for a long time and retailed to you what I am now granting 
you freely and at once ; but I do not think that this would have 
increased your love for me by the thickness of a single hair. 



354 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

" I do not ask of you an oath of eternal love nor any exag- 
gerated protestation. Love me as much as heaven ordains 
I will do as much on my side. I will not call you a traitor 
or a wretch when you have ceased to love me. You will 
also have the kindness to spare me the corresponding odious 
titles, should I happen to leave you. I shall be merely a 
woman who has ceased to love you, nothing more. It is not 
necessary to hate each other all through life because of a night 
or two passed together. Whatever may happen, and wherever 
destiny may drive me, I swear to you, and this is a promise 
that can be kept, that I shall always preserve a charming re- 
collection of you, and, that if I am no longer your mistress, I 
shall be your friend as I have been your comrade. For you 
I have laid aside my male attire to-night ; I shall resume it 
to-morrow for all. Think that I am only Rosalind at night, 
and that throughout the day I am and can be only Theodore 
de Sdrannes " 

The sentence she was about to utter was stifled by a kiss 
followed by many others, which were no longer counted and 
of which we shall not give an exact catalogue, because it would 
certainly be rather tedious and perhaps very immoral for some 
people ; as to ourselves, we think nothing more moral and 
sacred under heaven than the caresses of man and woman, when 
both are handsome and young. 

As D'Albert's importunities became more amorous and eager, 
Theodore's beautiful face, instead of being smiling and radiant, 
assumed an expression of proud melancholy which caused her 
lover some disquiet. 

" Why, dear sovereign, have you the chaste and serious air 
of an antique Diana now, when we should rather have the 
smiling lips of Venus rising from the sea ? " 

" You see, D' Albert, it is because I am more like the huntress 
Diana than anything else. When very young I assumed man's 
attire for reasons which it would be tedious and useless to 
tell you. You alone have divined my sex, and, if I have made 
conquests, they have only been over women, very superfluous 
conquests, which have embarrassed me more than once. In a 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 355 

word, although it is an incredible and ridiculous thing, I am 
virgin, as virgin as the snow on Himalaya, as the Moon before 
she had lain with Endymion, as Mary before she had made the 
acquaintance of the divine pigeon, and I am grave as every one 
is when about to do a thing on which it is impossible to go back. 
It is a metamorphosis, a transformation that I am about to 
undergo : to change the name of girl into the name of woman, 
to no longer have to-morrow what I had yesterday ; something 
that I did not know and thr.t I am going to learn, an important 
page turned in the book of life. It is for that reason that 
I look sad, my friend, and not on account of any fault of 
yours." 

As she said this she parted the young man's long hair with her 
two beautiful hands, and laid her softly puckered lips upon his 
pale forehead. 

D' Albert, singularly moved by the gentle and solemn tone in 
which she uttered this long speech, took her hands and kissed 
the fingers one after another ; then very delicately broke the 
lacing of her dress so that the body opened and the two white 
treasures appeared in all their splendour : upon the bosom 
which was as sparkling and as clear as silver bloomed the two 
beautiful roses of paradise. He pressed their vermilion points 
lightly in his mouth, and thus went over the whole outline. 
Rosalind submitted with exhaustless complaisance, and tried to 
return his caresses as exactly as possible. 

"You must find me very awkward and cold, my poor 
D'Albert ; but I scarcely know how to set about it. You will 
have a great deal to do to teach me, and really I am imposing 
a very laborious task upon you." 

D'Albert made the simplest reply, he did not reply at all ; 
and, straining her in his arms with fresh passion, he covered her 
bare shoulders and breast with kisses. The hair of the half- 
swooning infanta became loosened, and her dress fell to her 
feet as though by enchantment. She remained quite upright 
like a white apparition in a simple chemise of the most trans 
parent linen. The blissful lover knelt down, and had soon 
thrown the two pretty little red-heeled shoes into an opposite 



356 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

corner of the apartment ; the stockings with embroidered 
clocks followed close after them. 

The chemise, gifted with a happy spirit of imitation, did not 
remain long behind the dress ; it first slipped from the shoulders 
without there being any thought of checking it ; then, taking 
advantage of a moment when the arms were perpendicular, it 
very cleverly came off them and rolled as far as the hips whose 
undulating outline partially checked it. Rosalind then per- 
ceived the perfidiousness of her last garment, and raised her 
knee a little to prevent it from falling altogether. In this 
pose she was exactly like those marble statues of goddesses 
whose intelligent drapery, sorry to cover up so many charms, 
envelops them with regret, and by a happy piece of treachery 
stops just below the part that it is intended to conceal. But, as 
the chemise was not of marble and its folds did not support it, 
it continued its triumphant descent, sank down altogether upon 
the dress, and lay round about its mistress's feet like a large 
white greyhound. 

There was certainly a very simple means of preventing all 
this disorder, namely, to check the fugitive with the hand : this 
idea, natural as it was, did not occur to our modest heroine. 

She remained, then, without any covering, her fallen garments 
forming a sort of pedestal for her, in all the diaphanous splen- 
dour of her beautiful nakedness, beneath the soft light of an 
alabaster lamp which D'Albert had lighted. 

D' Albert, who was dazzled, gazed upon her with rapture. 

" I am cold," she said, crossing her hands upon her 
shoulders. 

" Oh ! pray ! one minute more ! " 

Rosalind uncrossed her hands, leant the tip of her finger 
upon the back of an easy-chair and stood motionless ; she 
gave a slight movement to her hips in such a way as to bring 
out all the richness of the waving line ; she did not appear at 
all embarrassed, and the imperceptible rose of her cheeks was 
not a shade deeper : only the somewhat quickened beating of 
her heart caused the outline of her left breast to tremble. 

The young enthusiast for beauty could not sufficiently 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 357 

feast his eyes on such a spectacle ; we must say, to Rosalind's 
boundless praise, that this time the reality was beyond his 
dream, and that he did not experience the slightest deception. 

Everything was united in the beautiful form standing before 
him delicacy and strength, grace and colour, the lines of a 
Greek statue of the best period and the tone of a Titian. There 
he saw, palpable and crystallized, the cloudy chimera that he 
had so often vainly sought to stay in its flight ; he was not 
obliged, in the manner he used to complain of to his friend 
Silvio, to limit his gaze to a certain fairly well-formed part and 
not stray beyond it, on pain of seeing something frightful, and 
his amorous eye passed down from the head to the feet and 
ascended again from the feet to the head, and was ever sweetly 
soothed by a correct and harmonious form. 

The limbs were proudly and superbly turned, the knees 
were admirably pure, the ankles elegant and slender, the 
arms and shoulders of the most magnificent character, the 
skin as lustrous as an agate, the bosom enough to make 
gods come down from heaven to kiss it; a torrent of 
beautiful brown hair slightly crisped, such as we see on 
the heads by the old masters, fell in little waves along 
an ivory back whose whiteness it brought out in wonderful 
relief. 

The painter satisfied, the lover resumed the ascendancy ; for, 
whatever love a man may have for art, there are things that he 
cannot long be satisfied with looking at. 

He took up the fair one in his arms ana bore her to the 
couch. 



Our fair reader would possibly pout at her lover if we 
revealed to her the sum total of the lessons imparted by 
D' Albert's love, assisted by Rosalind's curiosity. Let her 
recall the best occupied and most charming of her nights, 
the night which would be remembered a hundred thousand 
days, did not death come before; let her lay her book aside 



358 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

and compute on the tips of her pretty white fingers how many 
times she was loved by him who loved her most, and thus fill 
up the void left by us in this glorious history. 

Rosalind was prodigiously apt, and made enormous progress 
in that single night. The ingenuousness of body which was as- 
tonished at everything, and the rakishness of mind which was 
astonished at nothing, formed the most piquant and adorable 
contrast. D'Albert was ravished, distracted, transported, and 
would have wished the night to last forty-eight hours, like that 
in which Hercules was conceived. However, towards morning, 
in spite of a multitude of kisses, caresses, and the most amorous 
endearments in the world, well adapted to keep one awake, he 
finally found himself obliged to take some little repose. 
A soft and voluptuous sleep touched his eyes with the tip of its 
wing, his head drooped, and he slumbered between the breasts 
of his beautiful mistress. The latter contemplated him for 
some time with an air of melancholy and profound thought ; 
then, as the dawn shot its whitish rays through the curtains, she 
gently raised him, laid him beside her, stood up, and passed 
lightly over his body. 

She went to her clothes and dressed again in haste, then 
returned to the bed, leaned over D'Albert who was still asleep, 
and kissed both his eyes on their long and silky lashes. This 
done, she withdrew backwards, still looking at him. 

Instead of returning to her own room she entered Rosette's. 
What she there said and did I have never been able to ascer- 
tain, although I have made the most conscientious researches. 
Neither in Graciosa's papers, nor in those belonging to D'Alben 
and Silvio, have I found anything having relation to this visit 
Only, a maid of Rosette's informed me of the following singu- 
lar circumstance : although her mistress had not slept with her 
lover that night, the bed was disturbed and tossed, and bore 
the impress of two bodies. Further, she showed me two pearls, 
exactly similar to those worn in his hair by Theodore when 
acting the part of Rosalind. She had found them in the bed 
when making it. I leave this remark to the reader's sagacity, 
and give him liberty to draw thence any inferences that he 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 359 

likes ; for myself, I have made a thousand conjectures about it, 
each more unreasonable than the rest, and so absurd that I 
really dare not write them even in the most virtuously peri- 
phrastic style. 

It was quite noon when Theodore left Rosette's room. He 
did not appear at dinner or supper. D'Albert and Rosette 
did not seem at all surprised at this. He went to bed 
very early, and the following morning, as soon as it was 
light, without giving notice to any one, he saddled his page's 
horse and his own, and left the mansion, telling a footman that 
they were not to wait dinner for him, and that he might perhaps 
not return for a few days. 

D'Albert and Rosette were extremely astonished, and did 
not know how to account for this strange disappearance, 
especially D'Albert, who decidedly thought that his behaviour on 
the first night had entitled him to a second. Towards the end 
of the week, the unhappy disappointed lover received from 
Theodore a letter, which we shall transcribe. I am afraid that 
it will satisfy neither my male nor my female readers ; but the 
letter was in truth none other than that which follows, and this 
glorious romance will have no other conclusion. 





XVII. 

>OU are no doubt greatly surprised, my deal 
D' Albert, at what I have just done after acting 
as I did. I will allow you to be so, for you 
have reason. The odds are that you have already 
bestowed upon me at least twenty of the epithets that we had 
agreed to erase from our vocabulary perfidious, inconstant, 
wicked, is it not so ? At least you will not call me cruel or 
virtuous, and that is still something gained. You curse me, 
and you are wrong. You desired me, you loved me, I was your 
ideal ; very well. I at once granted you what you asked ; it 
was your own fault that you did not have it sooner. I served as 
a body for your dream as compliantly as possible. I gave you 
what assuredly I shall never again give to any one, a surprise on 
which you hardly counted and for which you ought to be more 
grateful to me. Now that I have satisfied you, it pleases me 
to go away. What is there so monstrous in this ? 

" You have been with me entirely and unreservedly for a whole 
night ; what more would you have ? Another night, and then 
another ; you would even make free with the days if need were. 
You would go on in this way until you were surfeited with me. 
I can hear you from this crying out most gallantly that I am 
not one of those with whom surfeit is possible. Good gracious ! 
I am like the rest. 

" It would last six months, two years, ten years even, if you 
will, but still everything must have an end. You would keep 
me from a kind of feeling of propriety, or because you vould 
not have the courage to give me my dismissal. What would be 
the use of waiting until matters came to this ? 



MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 361 

" And then, it might perhaps be myself who would cease to 
love you. I have found you charming; perhaps, by dint of 
seeing you, I might have come to find you detestable. Forgive 
me this supposition. Living with you in close intimacy, I 
should no doubt have had occasion to see you in a cotton cap 
or in some ridiculous or facetious domestic situation. You 
would necessarily have lost the romantic and mysterious side 
which allures me more than anything else, and your character, 
when better understood, would no longer have appeared so 
strange to me. I should have been less taken up with you 
through having you beside me, in something like the fashion in 
which we treat those books that we never open because they 
are in our libraries. Your nose or your wit would no longer 
have seemed nearly so well turned ; I should have perceived 
that your coat did not fit you and that your stockings were un- 
tidy; I should have had a thousand deceptions of this kind which 
would have given me singular pain, and at last I should have 
come to this conclusion : that you decidedly had neither heart 
nor soul, and that I was destined to be misunderstood in love. 

" You adore me and I you. You have not the slightest 
reproach to make against me, and I have nothing in the world 
to complain of in you. I have been perfectly faithful to you 
throughout our amour. I have deceived you in nothing. I 
had neither false bosom nor false virtue ; you had the extreme 
kindness to tell me that I was yet more beautiful than you had 
imagined. For the beauty that I gave you, you repaid me with 
pleasure ; we are quits . I go my way and you yours, and per- 
haps we shall meet again at the Antipodes. Live in this hope. 

" You believe, perhaps, that I do not love you because I am 
leaving you. Later, you will recognise the truth of the con- 
trary. Had I valued you less, I should have remained, and 
would have poured out to you the insipid beverage to the dregs 
Your love would soon have died of weariness ; after a time you 
would have quite forgotten me, and, as you read over my name 
on the list of your conquests, would have asked yourself : ' Now, 
who the deuce was she ? ' I have at least the satisfaction of 
thinking that you will remember me sooner than another. 

7. 



362 MADEMOISELLE DE MAUPIN. 

Your unsated desire will again spread its wings to fly to me ; 1 
shall ever be to you something desirable to which your fancy 
will love to return, and I hope that in the arms of the mistresses 
you may have, you will sometimes think of the unrivalled night 
you spent with me. 

" Never will you be more amiable than you were that bliss- 
ful evening, and, even were you equally so, it would still be 
something less ; for in love, as in poetry, to remain at the same 
point is to go back. Keep to that impression, and you will do 
well. 

" You have rendered the task of the lovers I may have (if I 
have other lovers) a difficult one, and no one will be able to 
efface the memory of you ; they will be the heirs of Alexander. 

" If you are too much grieved at losing me, burn this letter, 
which is the only proof that you have possessed me, and you 
will believe that you have had a beautiful dream. What is there 
to hinder you ? The vision has vanished before the light, at the 
hour when dreams return home through the horn or the ivory 
gate. How many have died who, less fortunate than you, have 
not even given a single kiss to their chimera ! 

" I am neither capricious, nor mad, nor a conceited prude. 
What I am doing is the result of profound conviction. It is 
not in order to inflame you more, or from calculating coquetry 

that I have gone away from C ; do not try to follow me or 

to find me again : you will not succeed. My precautions to 
conceal from you all traces of myself have been too well 
taken ; you will always be for me the man who opened up to 
me a world of new sensations. These are things t>.ac a woman 
does not easily forget. Though absent, I shall often think 
of you, oftener than if you were with me. 

" Comfort poor Rosette as well as you can, for she must be 
at least as sorry for my departure as you are. Love each other 
well in memory of me, whom both of you have loved, an<J 
breathe my name sometimes in a kiss." 

THE END. 



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MADAME BOVARY: Provincial Manners. 

BY GUSTAVE FLAUBERT. 

TRANSLATED BY ELEANOR MARX-AVELIXG. 

M. EMILE ZOLA ON "MADAME BOVARY." 

'The first characteristic of the naturalistic novel, of which "Madame Bovary " is 
the type, is the exact reproduction of life, the absence of every romantic element. The 
scenes themselves are every -day ones ; but the author has carefully sorted and balanced 
them in such a way as to make his work a monument of art and science. It is a true 
picture of life presented to us in an admirably selected frame. All extraordinary inven- 
tion is therefore banished from it. One no longer encounters in its pages children 
marked at their birth, then lost, to be found again in the last chapter ; nor secret 
drawers containing documents which come to light at the right moment, for the pur- 
pose of saving persecuted innocence. In fact all intrigue, even the simplest, is absent. 
The story marches straight on, relating events day by day, harbouring no surprise ; and 
when it is finished, it is as though, after being as it were out in the world, you had re- 
gained your home. 

'The whole of " Madame Bovary," even in its slightest incidents, possesses a heart- 
rending interest a new interest, unknown prioi^ to the appearance of this book the 
interest of reality, of the drama of daily life. It grips your very vitals with an invincible 
power, like some scene you have witnessed, some event which is actually happening 
before your eyes. The personages of the story are among your acquaintances ; you have 
assisted at their proceedings twenty times over. You are in your own sphere in this 
work, and all that transpires is even dependent upon your surroundings. It is this 
which causes such profound emotion. But there is also to be added the prodigious art 
of the writer. Throughout, the tone is of an absolute exactitude. The arrangement of 
the action is continuous as it would be in reality, without a digression due to imagina- 
tion, without the slightest kind of invention. The life, the colouring, succeed in 
creating the illusion. The writer accomplishes the prodigy of disappearing completely, 
and yet making his great art everywhere felt.' 

BLACKWOOD S MAGAZINE ON " MADAME BOVARY." 

' Flaubert is among the first of social realists. He addresses himself almost avowedly 
to the senses and not to the feelings. He treat? of love in its physiological aspects, and 
indulges in the minutest analysis of the grosser corporeal sensations. In intelligence 
and accomplishments, as well as literary skill, lie was no ordinary man. Ho had read 
much and studied profoundly; he had travelled far, keeping his eyes open, and had 
made some reputation in certain branches of science. 

' Flaubert wrote his great masterpiece " Madame Bovary " delil>erately in his 
maturity ; and the notoriety which carried him with it into the law-courts, made 
him a martyr in a society that was by no means fastidious. Seldom before has an 
author concentrated such care and thought on a single work. Each separate chapter 
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accum'ulation of details. Yet it is clear in the retrospect that the elleots have been 
foreseen, and we acknowledge in the end the vivid impressions the author lias made on 
us. 

' Flaubert proposes to set the truth before everything, and we presume lie does so 
to the bestof his conviction. He goes to his work as cruelly and Imperturbably as 
the Scotch surgeon in the pirate ship, who is said to have claimed a negro as his share 
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SALAMBO 

A REALISTIC ROMANCE OF ANCIENT CARTHAGE 

BY GUSTAVE FLAUBERT. 
/ , 

TRANSLATED FROM THE FRENCH " EDITION DEFINITIVE," 

BY J. S. CHARTRES. 



SOME PRESS OPINIONS ON MR CHARTRES'S TRANSLATION OF 
' SALAMBO.' 

' We are able to declare that this second translation, the work of Mr Chartres, 
and published by Messrs Vizetelly, is very much the better of the two. ... To 
show the relation of this translation to its rival and to the original, we shall 
quote the first few lines of all three. The beginning of ' Salambo ' is a very good 
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' Some little while ago there was published an extraordinary bad translation 
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many of these means) it was puffed as even in our time few if any books so 
bad had been puffed. Names of all sorts and conditions of men ("the highest 
authorities in the land," said the advertisement) were pressed into its service- 
even Professor Max Miiller's name, which, after his little affair with Miss 
Karoline Bauer, one would have thought to carry no very high authority. And 
hand in hand with the puffing went some dark warnings against other possible 
translations, which would inevitably be spurious, infamous, and I know not 
what else. The reason of this warning is now clear. Another translation has 
appeared, done by Mr J. S. Chartres, and published by Vizetelly, which is 
much superior to its predecessor.' The World. 

'The pre^nt volume brought out by Messrs Vizetelly quite deserves the 
adjective "scholarly." Whenever this enterprising firm undertakes a transla- 
tion, it is generally executed in a way above reproach, and "Salambo" is no 
exception to the rule. It is an open secret that M. Flaubert's work is not 
exactly meat for babes, but it does not alter the fact that the proper edition of 
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