I. On Girls
II. On Men
III. On Women
IV. On Love
V. On Lovers
VI. On Making Love
VII. On Beauty
VIII. On Courtship
IX. On Men and Women
X. On Jealousy
XI. On Kisses and Kissing
XII. On Engagements and Being Engaged
XIII. On Marriage and Married Life
XIV. On This Human Heart
PLEA: CONFESSION AND AVOIDANCE
". . . aphorism are seldom couched in such terms, that they should be
taken as they sound precisely, or according to the widest extent of
signification; but do commonly need exposition, and admit exception:
otherwise frequently they would not only clash with reason and
experience, but interfere, thwart, and supplant one another."
"The very essence of an aphorism is that slight exaggeration which makes
it more biting whilst less rigidly accurate."
I. On Girls
"A Pearl, A Girl."
There are of course, girls and girls; yet at heart they are pretty much
alike. In age, naturally, they differ wildly. But this is a thorny
subject. Suffice it to say that all men love all girls-the maid of
sweet sixteen equally with the maid of untold age.
* * *
There is something exasperatingly something-or-otherish about girls. And
they know it--which makes them more something-or-otherish still:--there
is no other word for it.
* * *
A girl is a complicated thing. It is made up of clothes, smiles, a
pompadour, things of which space and prudence forbid the enumeration
here. These things by themselves do not constitute a girl which is
obvious; nor is any one girl without these things which is not too
obvious. Where the things end and the girl begins many men have tried to
Many girls would like to be men--except on occasions. At least so they
say, but perhaps this is just a part of their something-or-otherishness.
Why they should want to be men, men cannot conceive. Men pale before
them, grow hot and cold before them, run before them (and after them),
swear by them (and at them), and a bit of a chit of a thing in short
skirts and lisle-thread stockings will twist able-bodied males round her
It is an open secret that girls are fonder of men than they are of one
another--which is very lucky for the men.
Girls differ; and the same girl is different at different times. When
she is by herself, she is one thing. When she is with other girls she is
another thing. When she is with a lot of men, she is a third sort of
thing. When she is with a man. . . But this baffled even Agur the son
As a rule, a man prefers a girl by herself. This is natural. And yet is
said that you cannot have too much of a good thing. If this were true, a
bevy of girls would be the height of happiness. Yet some men would
sooner face the bulls of Bashan.
Some foolish men--probably poets--have sought for and asserted the
existence of the ideal girl. This is sheer nonsense: there is no such
thing. And if there were, she could not compare with the real girl, the
girl of flesh and blood--which (as some one ought to have said) are
excellent things in woman.
Other men, equally foolish, have regarded girls as playthings. I wish
these men had tried to play with them. They would have found that they
were playing with fire and brimstone. Yet the veriest spit-fire can be
Sweet? Yes. On the whole a girl is the sweetest thing known or
knowable. On the 6 whole of this terrestrial sphere Nature has produced
nothing more adorable than the high-spirited high-bred girl.--Of this
she is quite aware--to our cost (I speak as a man). The consequence is,
her price has gone up, and man has to pay high and pay all sorts of
things--ices, sweets, champagne, drives, church-goings, and sometimes
Men are always wishing they knew all about girls. It is a precious good
thing that they don't.--Not that this is in any way disparaging to the
girls. The fact is