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The image of the musical instrument constantly recurs to those
who write of the art of love. Balzac's comparison of the
unskilful husband to the orang-utan attempting to play the violin
has already been quoted. Dr. Jules Guyot, in his serious and
admirable little book, _Breviaire de l'Amour Experimental_, falls
on to the same comparison: "There are an immense number of
ignorant, selfish, and brutal men who give themselves no trouble
to study the instrument which God has confided to them, and do
not so much as suspect that it is necessary to study it in order
to draw out its slightest chords.... Every direct contact, even
with the clitoris, every attempt at coitus [when the feminine
organism is not aroused], exercises a painful sensation, an
instinctive repulsion, a feeling of disgust and aversion. Any
man, any husband, who is ignorant of this fact, is ridiculous and
contemptible. Any man, any husband, who, knowing it, dares to
disregard it, has committed an outrage.... In the final
combination of man and woman, the positive element, the husband,
has the initiative and the responsibility for the conjugal life.
He is the minstrel who will produce harmony or cacophony by his
hand and his bow. The wife, from this point of view, is really
the many-stringed instrument who will give out harmonious or
discordant sounds, according as she is well or ill handled"
(Guyot, _Breviaire_, pp. 99, 115, 138).
That such love corresponds to the woman's need there cannot be
any doubt. All developed women desire to be loved, says Ellen
Key, not "en male" but "en artiste" (_Liebe und Ehe_, p. 92).
"Only a man of whom she feels that he has also the artist's joy
in her, and who shows this joy through his timid and delicate
touch on her soul as on her body, can keep the woman of to-day.
She will only belong to a man who continues to long for her even
when he holds her locked in his arms. And when such a woman
breaks out: 'You want me, but you cannot caress me, you cannot
tell what I want,' then that man is judged." Love is indeed, as
Remy de Gourmont remarks, a delicate art, for which, as for
painting or music, only some are apt.
It must not be supposed that the demand on the lover and husband to
approach a woman in the same spirit, with the same consideration and
skilful touch, as a musician takes up his instrument is merely a demand
made by modern women who are probably neurotic or hysterical. No reader of
these _Studies_ who has followed the discussions of courtship and of
sexual selection in previous volumes can fail to realize that--although we
have sought to befool ourselves by giving an illegitimate connotation to
the word "brutal"--consideration and respect for the female is all but
universal in the sexual relationships of the animals below man; it is only
at the furthest remove from the "brutes," among civilized men, that sexual
"brutality" is at all common, and even there it is chiefly the result of
ignorance. If we go as low as the insects, who have been disciplined by
no family life, and are generally counted as careless and wanton, we may
sometimes find this attitude towards the female fully developed, and the
extreme consideration of the male for the female whom yet he holds firmly
beneath him, the tender preliminaries, the extremely gradual approach to
the supreme sexual act, may well furnish an admirable lesson.
This greater difficulty and delay on the part of women in responding to
the erotic excitation of courtship is really very fundamental and--as has
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