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The physiology of marriage 2

whole wide world but you?
Moreover, to this dissimulation, by means of which the springs that
move your conduct ought to be made as invisible as those that move the
world, must be added absolute self-control. That diplomatic
imperturbability, so boasted of by Talleyrand, must be the least of
your qualities; his exquisite politeness and the grace of his manners
must distinguish your conversation. The professor here expressly
forbids you to use your whip, if you would obtain complete control
over your gentle Andalusian steed.
LXI.
If a man strike his mistress it is a self-inflicted wound; but if he
strike his wife it is suicide!
How can we think of a government without police, an action without
force, a power without weapons?--Now this is exactly the problem which
we shall try to solve in our future meditations. But first we must
submit two preliminary observations. They will furnish us with two
other theories concerning the application of all the mechanical means
which we propose you should employ. An instance from life will refresh
these arid and dry dissertations: the hearing of such a story will be
like laying down a book, to work in the field.
In the year 1822, on a fine morning in the month of February, I was
traversing the boulevards of Paris, from the quiet circles of the
Marais to the fashionable quarters of the Chaussee-d'Antin, and I
observed for the first time, not without a certain philosophic joy,
the diversity of physiognomy and the varieties of costume which, from
the Rue du Pas-de-la-Mule even to the Madeleine, made each portion of
the boulevard a world of itself, and this whole zone of Paris, a grand
panorama of manners. Having at that time no idea of what the world
was, and little thinking that one day I should have the audacity to
set myself up as a legislator on marriage, I was going to take lunch
at the house of a college friend, who was perhaps too early in life
afflicted with a wife and two children. My former professor of
mathematics lived at a short distance from the house of my college
friend, and I promised myself the pleasure of a visit to this worthy
mathematician before indulging my appetite for the dainties of
friendship. I accordingly made my way to the heart of a study, where
everything was covered with a dust which bore witness to the lofty
abstraction of the scholar. But a surprise was in store for me there.
I perceived a pretty woman seated on the arm of an easy chair, as if
mounted on an English horse; her face took on the look of conventional
surprise worn by mistresses of the house towards those they do not
know, but she did not disguise the expression of annoyance which, at
my appearance, clouded her countenance with the thought that I was
aware how ill-timed was my presence. My master, doubtless absorbed in
an equation, had not yet raised his head; I therefore waved my right
hand towards the young lady, like a fish moving his fin, and on tiptoe
I retired with a mysterious smile which might be translated "I will
not be the one to prevent him committing an act of infidelity to
Urania." She nodded her head with one of those sudden gestures whose
graceful vivacity is not to be translated into words.
"My good friend, don't go away," cried the geometrician. "This is my
wife!"
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