Read MEDITATION XI - ESSAY ON POLICE. of The Physiology of Marriage‚ Part II., free online book, by Honore de Balzac, on ReadCentral.com.

The police of marriage consist of all those means which are given you by law, manners, force, and stratagem for preventing your wife in her attempt to accomplish those three acts which in some sort make up the life of love:  writing, seeing and speaking.

The police combine in greater or less proportion the means of defence put forth in the preceding Meditations.  Instinct alone can teach in what proportions and on what occasions these compounded elements are to be employed.  The whole system is elastic; a clever husband will easily discern how it must be bent, stretched or retrenched.  By the aid of the police a man can guide his wife to her fortieth year pure from any fault.

We will divide this treatise on Police into five captions: 

1.  OF MOUSE-TRAP.  OF CORRESPONDENC.  OF SPIE.  THE INDE.  OF THE BUDGET.

1.  OF MOUSE-TRAPS.

In spite of the grave crisis which the husband has reached, we do not suppose that the lover has completely acquired the freedom of the city in the marital establishment.  Many husbands often suspect that their wives have a lover, and yet they do not know upon which of the five or six chosen ones of whom we have spoken their suspicions ought to fall.  This hesitation doubtless springs from some moral infirmity, to whose assistance the professor must come.

Fouche had in Paris three or four houses resorted to by people of the highest distinction; the mistresses of these dwellings were devoted to him.  This devotion cost a great deal of money to the state.  The minister used to call these gatherings, of which nobody at the time had any suspicion, his mouse-traps.  More than one arrest was made at the end of the ball at which the most brilliant people of Paris had been made accomplices of this oratorian.

The act of offering some fragments of roasted nuts, in order to see your wife put her white hand in the trap, is certainly exceedingly delicate, for a woman is certain to be on her guard; nevertheless, we reckon upon at least three kinds of mouse-traps:  The Irresistible, The Fallacious, and that which is Touch and Go.

The Irresistible.

Suppose two husbands, we will call them A and B, wish to discover who are the lovers of their wives.  We will put the husband A at the centre of a table loaded with the finest pyramids of fruit, of crystals, of candies and of liqueurs, and the husband B shall be at whatever point of this brilliant circle you may please to suppose.  The champagne has gone round, every eye is sparkling and every tongue is wagging.

HUSBAND A. (peeling a chestnut) ­Well, as for me, I admire literary people, but from a distance.  I find them intolerable; in conversation they are despotic; I do not know what displeases me more, their faults or their good qualities.  In short (he swallows his chestnut), people of genius are like tonics ­you like, but you must use them temperately.

WIFE B. (who has listened attentively) ­But, M. A., you are very exacting (with an arch smile); it seems to me that dull people have as many faults as people of talent, with this difference perhaps, that the former have nothing to atone for them!

HUSBAND A. (irritably) ­You will agree at least, madame, that they are not very amiable to you.

WIFE B. (with vivacity) ­Who told you so?

HUSBAND A. (smiling) ­Don’t they overwhelm you all the time with their superiority?  Vanity so dominates their souls that between you and them the effort is reciprocal ­

THE MISTRESS OF THE HOUSE. (aside to Wife A) ­You well deserved it, my dear. (Wife A shrugs her shoulders.)

HUSBAND A. (still continuing) ­Then the habit they have of combining ideas which reveal to them the mechanism of feeling!  For them love is purely physical and every one knows that they do not shine.

WIFE B. (biting her lips, interrupting him) ­It seems to me, sir, that we are the sole judges in this matter.  I can well understand why men of the world do not like men of letters!  But it is easier to criticise than to imitate them.

HUSBAND A. (disdainfully) ­Oh, madame, men of the world can assail the authors of the present time without being accused of envy.  There is many a gentleman of the drawing-room, who if he undertook to write ­

WIFE B. (with warmth) ­Unfortunately for you, sir, certain friends of yours in the Chamber have written romances; have you been able to read them? ­But really, in these days, in order to attain the least originality, you must undertake historic research, you must ­

WIFE A. (sitting next to Husband B, speaking at the same time) ­What is that you are saying, my friend?  You are quite mistaken.  In these days nobody wishes to wear a professional manner; doctors, since you have mentioned doctors, try to avoid speaking of professional matters.  They talk politics, discuss the fashions and the theatres, they tell anecdotes, they write books better than professional authors do; there is a vast difference between the doctors of to-day and those of Moliere ­

WIFE A. (interrupting her husband) ­I know people who have five or six offices, yet the government has the greatest confidence in them; anyway, it is odd that you should speak in this way, you who were one of Dr. M-----’s great cases--

HUSBAND A. (aside) ­There can be no doubt of it!

The Fallacious.

A HUSBAND. (as he reaches home) ­My dear, we are invited by Madame de Fischtaminel to a concert which she is giving next Tuesday.  I reckoned on going there, as I wanted to speak with a young cousin of the minister who was among the singers; but he is gone to Frouville to see his aunt.  What do you propose doing?

HIS WIFE. ­These concerts tire me to death! ­You have to sit nailed to your chair whole hours without saying a word. ­Besides, you know quite well that we dine with my mother on that day, and it is impossible to miss paying her a visit.

HER HUSBAND. (carelessly) ­Ah! that is true.

(Three days afterwards.)

THE HUSBAND. (as he goes to bed) ­What do you think, my darling?  To-morrow I will leave you at your mother’s, for the count has returned from Frouville and will be at Madame de Fischtaminel’s concert.

HIS WIFE. (vivaciously) ­But why should you go alone?  You know how I adore music!

The Touch and Go Mouse-Trap.

THE WIFE. ­Why did you go away so early this evening?

THE HUSBAND. (mysteriously) ­Ah!  It is a sad business, and all the more so because I don’t know how I can settle it.

THE WIFE. ­What is it all about, Adolph?  You are a wretch if you do not tell me what you are going to do!

THE HUSBAND. ­My dear, that ass of a Prosper Magnan is fighting a duel with M. de Fontanges, on account of an Opera singer. ­But what is the matter with you?

THE WIFE. ­Nothing. ­It is very warm in this room and I don’t know what ails me, for the whole day I have been suffering from sudden flushing of the face.

THE HUSBAND. (aside) ­She is in love with M. de Fontanges. (Aloud.) Celestine! (He shouts out still louder.) Celestine!  Come quick, madame is ill!

You will understand that a clever husband will discover a thousand ways of setting these three kinds of traps.

2.  OF CORRESPONDENCE.

To write a letter, and to have it posted; to get an answer, to read it and burn it; there we have correspondence stated in the simplest terms.

Yet consider what immense resources are given by civilization, by our manners and by our love to the women who wish to conceal these material actions from the scrutiny of a husband.

The inexorable box which keeps its mouth open to all comers receives its epistolary provender from all hands.

There is also the fatal invention of the General Delivery.  A lover finds in the world a hundred charitable persons, male and female, who, for a slight consideration, will slip the billets-doux into the amorous and intelligent hand of his fair mistress.

A correspondence is a variable as Proteus.  There are sympathetic inks.  A young celibate has told us in confidence that he has written a letter on the fly-leaf of a new book, which, when the husband asked for it of the bookseller, reached the hands of his mistress, who had been prepared the evening before for this charming article.

A woman in love, who fears her husband’s jealousy, will write and read billets-doux during the time consecrated to those mysterious occupations during which the most tyrannical husband must leave her alone.

Moreover, all lovers have the art of arranging a special code of signals, whose arbitrary import it is difficult to understand.  At a ball, a flower placed in some odd way in the hair; at the theatre, a pocket handkerchief unfolded on the front of the box; rubbing the nose, wearing a belt of a particular color, putting the hat on one side, wearing one dress oftener than another, singing a certain song in a concert or touching certain notes on the piano; fixing the eyes on a point agreed; everything, in fact, from the hurdy-gurdy which passes your windows and goes away if you open the shutter, to the newspaper announcement of a horse for sale ­all may be reckoned as correspondence.

How many times, in short, will a wife craftily ask her husband to do such and such commission for her, to go to such and such a shop or house, having previously informed her lover that your presence at such or such a place means yes or no?

On this point the professor acknowledges with shame that there is no possible means of preventing correspondence between lovers.  But a little machiavelism on the part of the husband will be much more likely to remedy the difficulty than any coercive measures.

An agreement, which should be kept sacred between married people, is their solemn oath that they will respect each other’s sealed letters.  Clever is the husband who makes this pledge on his wedding-day and is able to keep it conscientiously.

In giving your wife unrestrained liberty to write and to receive letters, you will be enabled to discern the moment she begins to correspond with a lover.

But suppose your wife distrusts you and covers with impenetrable clouds the means she takes to conceal from you her correspondence.  Is it not then time to display that intellectual power with which we armed you in our Meditation entitled Of the Custom House?  The man who does not see when his wife writes to her lover, and when she receives an answer, is a failure as a husband.

The proposed study which you ought to bestow upon the movements, the actions, the gestures, the looks of your wife, will be perhaps troublesome and wearying, but it will not last long; the only point is to discover when your wife and her lover correspond and in what way.

We cannot believe that a husband, even of moderate intelligence, will fail to see through this feminine manoeuvre, when once he suspects its existence.

Meanwhile, you can judge from a single incident what means of police and of restraint remain to you in the event of such a correspondence.

A young lawyer, whose ardent passion exemplified certain of the principles dwelt upon in this important part of our work, had married a young person whose love for him was but slight; yet this circumstance he looked upon as an exceedingly happy one; but at the end of his first year of marriage he perceived that his dear Anna [for Anna was her name] had fallen in love with the head clerk of a stock-broker.

Adolph was a young man of about twenty-five, handsome in face and as fond of amusement as any other celibate.  He was frugal, discreet, possessed of an excellent heart, rode well, talked well, had fine black hair always curled, and dressed with taste.  In short, he would have done honor and credit to a duchess.  The advocate was ugly, short, stumpy, square-shouldered, mean-looking, and, moreover, a husband.  Anna, tall and pretty, had almond eyes, white skin and refined features.  She was all love; and passion lighted up her glance with a bewitching expression.  While her family was poor, Maitre Lebrun had an income of twelve thousand francs.  That explains all.

One evening Lebrun got home looking extremely chop-fallen.  He went into his study to work; but he soon came back shivering to his wife, for he had caught a fever and hurriedly went to bed.  There he lay groaning and lamenting for his clients and especially for a poor widow whose fortune he was to save the very next day by effecting a compromise.  An appointment had been made with certain business men and he was quite incapable of keeping it.  After having slept for a quarter of an hour, he begged his wife in a feeble voice to write to one of his intimate friends, asking him to take his (Lebrun’s) place next day at the conference.  He dictated a long letter and followed with his eye the space taken up on the paper by his phrases.  When he came to begin the second page of the last sheet, the advocate set out to describe to his confrere the joy which his client would feel on the signing of the compromise, and the fatal page began with these words: 

“My good friend, go for Heaven’s sake to Madame Vernon’s at once; you are expected with impatience there; she lives at N Rue de Sentier.  Pardon my brevity; but I count on your admirable good sense to guess what I am unable to explain.

“Tout a vous,”

“Give me the letter,” said the lawyer, “that I may see whether it is correct before signing it.”

The unfortunate wife, who had been taken off her guard by this letter, which bristled with the most barbarous terms of legal science, gave up the letter.  As soon as Lebrun got possession of the wily script he began to complain, to twist himself about, as if in pain, and to demand one little attention after another of his wife.  Madame left the room for two minutes during which the advocate leaped from his bed, folded a piece of paper in the form of a letter and hid the missive written by his wife.  When Anna returned, the clever husband seized the blank paper, made her address it to the friend of his, to whom the letter which he had taken out was written, and the poor creature handed the blank letter to his servant.  Lebrun seemed to grow gradually calmer; he slept or pretended to do so, and the next morning he still affected to feel strange pains.  Two days afterwards he tore off the first leaf of the letter and put an “e” to the word tout in the phrase “tout a vous." He folded mysteriously the paper which contained the innocent forgery, sealed it, left his bedroom and called the maid, saying to her: 

Thus giving a feminine ending to the signature, and lending the
    impression that the note emanated from the wife personally ­J.W.M.

“Madame begs that you will take this to the house of M. Adolph; now, be quick about it.”

He saw the chambermaid leave the house and soon afterwards he, on a plea of business, went out, hurried to Rue de Sentier, to the address indicated, and awaited the arrival of his rival at the house of a friend who was in the secret of his stratagem.  The lover, intoxicated with happiness, rushed to the place and inquired for Madame de Vernon; he was admitted and found himself face to face with Maitre Lebrun, who showed a countenance pale but chill, and gazed at him with tranquil but implacable glance.

“Sir,” he said in a tone of emotion to the young clerk, whose heart palpitated with terror, “you are in love with my wife, and you are trying to please her; I scarcely know how to treat you in return for this, because in your place and at your age I should have done exactly the same.  But Anna is in despair; you have disturbed her happiness, and her heart is filled with the torments of hell.  Moreover, she has told me all, a quarrel soon followed by a reconciliation forced her to write the letter which you have received, and she has sent me here in her place.  I will not tell you, sir, that by persisting in your plan of seduction you will cause the misery of her you love, that you will forfeit her my esteem, and eventually your own; that your crime will be stamped on the future by causing perhaps sorrow to my children.  I will not even speak to you of the bitterness you will infuse into my life; ­unfortunately these are commonplaces!  But I declare to you, sir, that the first step you take in this direction will be the signal for a crime; for I will not trust the risk of a duel in order to stab you to the heart!”

And the eyes of the lawyer flashed ominously.

“Now, sir,” he went on in a gentler voice, “you are young, you have a generous heart.  Make a sacrifice for the future happiness of her you love; leave her and never see her again.  And if you must needs be a member of my family, I have a young aunt who is yet unsettled in life; she is charming, clever and rich.  Make her acquaintance, and leave a virtuous woman undisturbed.”

This mixture of raillery and intimidation, together with the unwavering glance and deep voice of the husband, produced a remarkable impression on the lover.  He remained for a moment utterly confused, like people overcome with passion and deprived of all presence of mind by a sudden shock.  If Anna has since then had any lovers [which is a pure hypothesis] Adolph certainly is not one of them.

This occurrence may help you to understand that correspondence is a double-edged weapon which is of as much advantage for the defence of the husband as for the inconsistency of the wife.  You should therefore encourage correspondence for the same reason that the prefect of police takes special care that the street lamps of Paris are kept lighted.

3.  OF SPIES.

To come so low as to beg servants to reveal secrets to you, and to fall lower still by paying for a revelation, is not a crime; it is perhaps not even a dastardly act, but it is certainly a piece of folly; for nothing will ever guarantee to you the honesty of a servant who betrays her mistress, and you can never feel certain whether she is operating in your interest or in that of your wife.  This point therefore may be looked upon as beyond controversy.

Nature, that good and tender parent, has set round about the mother of a family the most reliable and the most sagacious of spies, the most truthful and at the same time the most discreet in the world.  They are silent and yet they speak, they see everything and appear to see nothing.

One day I met a friend of mine on the boulevard.  He invited me to dinner, and we went to his house.  Dinner had been already served, and the mistress of the house was helping her two daughters to plates of soup.

“I see here my first symptoms,” I said to myself.

We sat down.  The first word of the husband, who spoke without thinking, and for the sake of talking, was the question: 

“Has any one been here to-day?”

“Not a soul,” replied his wife, without lifting her eyes.

I shall never forget the quickness with which the two daughters looked up to their mother.  The elder girl, aged eight, had something especially peculiar in her glance.  There was at the same time revelation and mystery, curiosity and silence, astonishment and apathy in that look.  If there was anything that could be compared to the speed with which the light of candor flashed from their eyes, it was the prudent reserve with which both of them closed down, like shutters, the folds of their white eyelids.

Ye sweet and charming creatures, who from the age of nine even to the age of marriage too often are the torment of a mother even when she is not a coquette, is it by the privilege of your years or the instinct of your nature that your young ears catch the faint sound of a man’s voice through walls and doors, that your eyes are awake to everything, and that your young spirit busies itself in divining all, even the meaning of a word spoken in the air, even the meaning of your mother’s slightest gesture?

There is something of gratitude, something in fact instinctive, in the predilection of fathers for their daughters and mothers for their sons.

But the act of setting spies which are in some way inanimate is mere dotage, and nothing is easier than to find a better plan than that of the beadle, who took it into his head to put egg-shells in his bed, and who obtained no other sympathy from his confederate than the words, “You are not very successful in breaking them.”

The Marshal de Saxe did not give much consolation to his Popeliniere when they discovered in company that famous revolving chimney, invented by the Duc de Richelieu.

“That is the finest piece of horn work that I have ever seen!” cried the victor of Fontenoy.

Let us hope that your espionage will not give you so troublesome a lesson.  Such misfortunes are the fruits of the civil war and we do not live in that age.

4. THE INDEX.

The Pope puts books only on the Index; you will mark with a stigma of reprobation men and things.

It is forbidden to madame to go into a bath except in her own house.

It is forbidden to madame to receive into her house him whom you suspect of being her lover, and all those who are the accomplices of their love.

It is forbidden to madame to take a walk without you.

But the peculiarities which in each household originate from the diversity of characters, the numberless incidents of passion, and the habits of the married people give to this black book so many variations, the lines in it are multiplied or erased with such rapidity that a friend of the author has called this Index The History of Changes in the Marital Church.

There are only two things which can be controlled or prescribed in accordance with definite rules; the first is the country, the second is the promenade.

A husband ought never to take his wife to the country nor permit her to go there.  Have a country home if you like, live there, entertain there nobody excepting ladies or old men, but never leave your wife alone there.  But to take her, for even half a day, to the house of another man is to show yourself as stupid as an ostrich.

To keep guard over a wife in the country is a task most difficult of accomplishment.  Do you think that you will be able to be in the thickets, to climb the trees, to follow the tracks of a lover over the grass trodden down at night, but straightened by the dew in the morning and refreshed by the rays of the sun?  Can you keep your eye on every opening in the fence of the park?  Oh! the country and the Spring!  These are the two right arms of the celibate.

When a woman reaches the crisis at which we suppose her to be, a husband ought to remain in town till the declaration of war, or to resolve on devoting himself to all the delights of a cruel espionage.

With regard to the promenade:  Does madame wish to go to parties, to the theatre, to the Bois de Boulogne, to purchase her dresses, to find out what is the fashion?  Madame shall go, shall see everything in the respectable company of her lord and master.

If she take advantage of the moment when a business appointment, which you cannot fail to keep, detains you, in order to obtain your tacit permission to some meditated expedition; if in order to obtain that permission she displays all the witcheries of those cajoleries in which women excel and whose powerful influence you ought already to have known, well, well, the professor implores you to allow her to win you over, while at the same time you sell dear the boon she asks; and above all convince this creature, whose soul is at once as changeable as water and as firm as steel, that it is impossible for you from the importance of your work to leave your study.

But as soon as your wife has set foot upon the street, if she goes on foot, don’t give her time to make fifty steps; follow and track her in such a way that you will not be noticed.

It is possible that there exist certain Werthers whose refined and delicate souls recoil from this inquisition.  But this is not more blamable than that of a landed proprietor who rises at night and looks through the windows for the purpose of keeping watch over the peaches on his espaliers.  You will probably by this course of action obtain, before the crime is committed, exact information with regard to the apartments which so many lovers rent in the city under fictitious names.  If it happens [which God forbid!] that your wife enters a house suspected by you, try to find out if the place has several exits.

Should your wife take a hack, what have you to fear?  Is there not a prefect of police, to whom all husbands ought to decree a crown of solid gold, and has he not set up a little shed or bench where there is a register, an incorruptible guardian of public morality?  And does he not know all the comings and goings of these Parisian gondolas?

One of the vital principles of our police will consist in always following your wife to the furnishers of your house, if she is accustomed to visit them.  You will carefully find out whether there is any intimacy between her and her draper, her dressmaker or her milliner, etc.  In this case you will apply the rules of the conjugal Custom House, and draw your own conclusions.

If in your absence your wife, having gone out against your will, tells you that she had been to such a place, to such a shop, go there yourself the next day and try to find out whether she has spoken the truth.

But passion will dictate to you, even better than the Meditation, the various resources of conjugal tyranny, and we will here cut short these tiresome instructions.

5.  OF THE BUDGET.

In outlining the portrait of a sane and sound husband (See Meditation on the Predestined), we urgently advise that he should conceal from his wife the real amount of his income.

In relying upon this as the foundation stone of our financial system we hope to do something towards discounting the opinion, so very generally held, that a man ought not to give the handling of his income to his wife.  This principle is one of the many popular errors and is one of the chief causes of misunderstanding in the domestic establishment.

But let us, in the first place, deal with the question of heart, before we proceed to that of money.

To draw up a little civil list for your wife and for the requirements of the house and to pay her money as if it were a contribution, in twelve equal portions month by month, has something in it that is a little mean and close, and cannot be agreeable to any but sordid and mistrustful souls.  By acting in this way you prepare for yourself innumerable annoyances.

I could wish that during the first year of your mellifluous union, scenes more or less delightful, pleasantries uttered in good taste, pretty purses and caresses might accompany and might decorate the handing over of this monthly gift; but the time will come when the self-will of your wife or some unforeseen expenditure will compel her to ask a loan of the Chamber; I presume that you will always grant her the bill of indemnity, as our unfaithful deputies never fail to do.  They pay, but they grumble; you must pay and at the same time compliment her.  I hope it will be so.

But in the crisis which we have reached, the provisions of the annual budget can never prove sufficient.  There must be an increase of fichus, of bonnets, of frocks; there is an expense which cannot be calculated beforehand demanded by the meetings, by the diplomatic messengers, by the ways and means of love, even while the receipts remain the same as usual.  Then must commence in your establishment a course of education the most odious, and the most dreadful which a woman can undergo.  I know but few noble and generous souls who value, more than millions, purity of heart, frankness of soul, and who would a thousand times more readily pardon a passion than a lie, whose instinctive delicacy has divined the existence of this plague of the soul, the lowest step in human degradation.

Under these circumstances there occur in the domestic establishment the most delightful scenes of love.  It is then that a woman becomes utterly pliant and like to the most brilliant of all the strings of a harp, when thrown before the fire; she rolls round you, she clasps you, she holds you tight; she defers to all your caprices; never was her conversation so full of tenderness; she lavishes her endearments upon you, or rather she sells them to you; she at last becomes lower than a chorus girl, for she prostitutes herself to her husband.  In her sweetest kisses there is money; in all her words there is money.  In playing this part her heart becomes like lead towards you.  The most polished, the most treacherous usurer never weighs so completely with a single glance the future value in bullion of a son of a family who may sign a note to him, than your wife appraises one of your desires as she leaps from branch to branch like an escaping squirrel, in order to increase the sum of money she may demand by increasing the appetite which she rouses in you.  You must not expect to get scot-free from such seductions.  Nature has given boundless gifts of coquetry to a woman, the usages of society have increased them tenfold by its fashions, its dresses, its embroideries and its tippets.

“If I ever marry,” one of the most honorable generals of our ancient army used to say, “I won’t put a sou among the wedding presents ­”

“What will you put there then, general?” asked a young girl.

“The key of my safe.”

The young girl made a curtsey of approbation.  She moved her little head with a quiver like that of the magnetic needle; raised her chin slightly as if she would have said: 

“I would gladly marry the general in spite of his forty-five years.”

But with regard to money, what interest can you expect your wife to take in a machine in which she is looked upon as a mere bookkeeper?

Now look at the other system.

In surrendering to your wife, with an avowal of absolute confidence in her, two-thirds of your fortune and letting her as mistress control the conjugal administration, you win from her an esteem which nothing can destroy, for confidence and high-mindedness find powerful echoes in the heart of a woman.  Madame will be loaded with a responsibility which will often raise a barrier against extravagances, all the stronger because it is she herself who has created it in her heart.  You yourself have made a portion of the work, and you may be sure that from henceforth your wife will never perhaps dishonor herself.

Moreover, by seeking in this way a method of defence, consider what admirable aids are offered to you by this plan of finances.

You will have in your house an exact estimate of the morality of your wife, just as the quotations of the Bourse give you a just estimate of the degree of confidence possessed by the government.

And doubtless, during the first years of your married life, your wife will take pride in giving you every luxury and satisfaction which your money can afford.

She will keep a good table, she will renew the furniture, and the carriages; she will always keep in her drawer a sum of money sacred to her well-beloved and ready for his needs.  But of course, in the actual circumstances of life, the drawer will be very often empty and monsieur will spend a great deal too much.  The economies ordered by the Chamber never weigh heavily upon the clerks whose income is twelve hundred francs; and you will be the clerk at twelve hundred francs in your own house.  You will laugh in your sleeve, because you will have saved, capitalized, invested one-third of your income during a long time, like Louis XV, who kept for himself a little separate treasury, “against a rainy day,” he used to say.

Thus, if your wife speaks of economy, her discourse will be equal to the varying quotations of the money-market.  You will be able to divine the whole progress of the lover by these financial fluctuations, and you will have avoided all difficulties. E sempre bene.

If your wife fails to appreciate the excessive confidence, and dissipates in one day a large proportion of your fortune, in the first place it is not probable that this prodigality will amount to one-third of the revenue which you have been saving for ten years; moreover you will learn, from the Meditation on Catastrophes, that in the very crisis produced by the follies of your wife, you will have brilliant opportunities of slaying the Minotaur.

But the secret of the treasure which has been amassed by your thoughtfulness need never be known till after your death; and if you have found it necessary to draw upon it, in order to assist your wife, you must always let it be thought that you have won at play, or made a loan from a friend.

These are the true principles which should govern the conjugal budget.

The police of marriage has its martyrology.  We will cite but one instance which will make plain how necessary it is for husbands who resort to severe measures to keep watch over themselves as well as over their wives.

“All this is old forest land,” he used to say to the person I have referred to, as he showed him over the park; “for nothing can be seen through the brushwood.”

His wife fell in love with one of the most charming young men of the town.  This passion had continued for nine years bright and fresh in the hearts of the two lovers, whose sole avowal had been a look exchanged in a crowded ball-room; and while they danced together their trembling hands revealed through the scented gloves the depth of their love.  From that day they had both of them taken great delight on those trifles which happy lovers never disdain.  One day the young man led his only confidant, with a mysterious air, into a chamber where he kept under glass globes upon his table, with more care than he would have bestowed upon the finest jewels in the world, the flowers that, in the excitement of the dance, had fallen from the hair of his mistress, and the finery which had been caught in the trees which she had brushed through in the park.  He also preserved there the narrow footprint left upon the clay soil by the lady’s step.

“I could hear,” said this confidant to me afterwards, “the violent and repressed palpitations of his heart sounding in the silence which we preserved before the treasures of this museum of love.  I raised my eyes to the ceiling, as if to breathe to heaven the sentiment which I dared not utter.  ‘Poor humanity!’ I thought.  ’Madame de ----- told me that one evening at a ball you had been found nearly fainting in her card-room?’ I remarked to him.

“‘I can well believe it,’ said he casting down his flashing glance, ’I had kissed her arm! ­But,’ he added as he pressed my hand and shot at me a glance that pierced my heart, ’her husband at that time had the gout which threatened to attack his stomach.’”

Some time afterwards, the old man recovered and seemed to take a new lease of life; but in the midst of his convalescence he took to his bed one morning and died suddenly.  There were such evident symptoms of poisoning in the condition of the dead man that the officers of justice were appealed to, and the two lovers were arrested.  Then was enacted at the court of assizes the most heartrending scene that ever stirred the emotions of the jury.  At the preliminary examination, each of the two lovers without hesitation confessed to the crime, and with one thought each of them was solely bent on saving, the one her lover, the other his mistress.  There were two found guilty, where justice was looking for but a single culprit.  The trial was entirely taken up with the flat contradictions which each of them, carried away by the fury of devoted love, gave to the admissions of the other.  There they were united for the first time, but on the criminals’ bench with a gendarme seated between them.  They were found guilty by the unanimous verdict of a weeping jury.  No one among those who had the barbarous courage to witness their conveyance to the scaffold can mention them to-day without a shudder.  Religion had won for them a repentance for their crime, but could not induce them to abjure their love.  The scaffold was their nuptial bed, and there they slept together in the long night of death.