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"That, then, was the way in which I was captured. I was in love, as
it is called; not only did she appear to me a perfect being, but I
considered myself a white blackbird. It is a commonplace fact that there
is no one so low in the world that he cannot find some one viler than
himself, and consequently puff with pride and self-contentment. I was in
that situation. I did not marry for money. Interest was foreign to the
affair, unlike the marriages of most of my acquaintances, who married
either for money or for relations. First, I was rich, she was poor.
Second, I was especially proud of the fact that, while others married
with an intention of continuing their polygamic life as bachelors, it
was my firm intention to live monogamically after my engagement and the
wedding, and my pride swelled immeasurably.
"Yes, I was a wretch, convinced that I was an angel. The period of
my engagement did not last long. I cannot remember those days without
shame. What an abomination!
"It is generally agreed that love is a moral sentiment, a community of
thought rather than of sense. If that is the case, this community of
thought ought to find expression in words and conversation. Nothing of
the sort. It was extremely difficult for us to talk with each other.
What a toil of Sisyphus was our conversation! Scarcely had we thought of
something to say, and said it, when we had to resume our silence and try
to discover new subjects. Literally, we did not know what to say to each
other. All that we could think of concerning the life that was before us
and our home was said.
"And then what? If we had been animals, we should have known that we had
not to talk. But here, on the contrary, it was necessary to talk, and
there were no resources! For that which occupied our minds was not a
thing to be expressed in words.
"And then that silly custom of eating bon-bons, that brutal gluttony
for sweetmeats, those abominable preparations for the wedding, those
discussions with mamma upon the apartments, upon the sleeping-rooms,
upon the bedding, upon the morning-gowns, upon the wrappers, the linen,
the costumes! Understand that if people married according to the old
fashion, as this old man said just now, then these eiderdown coverlets
and this bedding would all be sacred details; but with us, out of ten
married people there is scarcely to be found one who, I do not say
believes in sacraments (whether he believes or not is a matter of
indifference to us), but believes in what he promises. Out of a hundred
men, there is scarcely one who has not married before, and out of fifty
scarcely one who has not made up his mind to deceive his wife.
"The great majority look upon this journey to the church as a condition
necessary to the possession of a certain woman. Think then of the
supreme significance which material details must take on. Is it not a
sort of sale, in which a maiden is given over to a debauche, the sale
being surrounded with the most agreeable details?"
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