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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
M. De Rémonin’s Philosophy of Marriage
By Alexandre Dumas, Jr. (1824–1895)
 
From ‘L’Étrangère’: Translation of Edward Irenæus Prime-Stevenson

MADAME DE RUMIÈRES—See here, now, Rémonin, you who claim to explain everything as a learned man—can you solve this proposition? Why is it that with all the quantity of love in this world, there are so many unhappy marriages?  1
  M. Rémonin—I could give you a perfect explanation, my dear lady, if you were not a woman.  2
  Madame de Rumières—You mean that the explanation is not decent?  3
  M. Rémonin—No, I mean that it is a matter based on the abstract…. It is this. The reason why marriages are rarely happy, in spite of the “quantity of love” in question, is because love and marriage, scientifically considered, have no relationship. They belong to two sorts of things, completely differing. Love is of the physical. Marriage is a matter of chemistry.  4
  Madame de Rumières—Explain yourself.  5
  Rémonin—Certainly. Love is an element of the natural evolution of our being; it comes to us of itself in course of our life, at one time or another, independent of all our will, and even without a definite object. The human creature can wish to be in love before really loving any one!… But marriage is a social combination, an adjustment, that refers itself to chemistry, as I have said; since chemistry concerns itself with the action of one element on another and the phenomena resulting:… to the end of bringing about family life, morality, and labor, and in consequence the welfare of man, as involved in all three. Now, so often as you really can conform to the theory of such a blending of things, so long as you happen to have effected in marriage such a combination of the physical and chemical, all goes well; the experiment is happy, it results well. But if you are ignorant or maladroit enough to seek and to make a combination of two refractory chemical forces in the matrimonial experiment, then in the place of a fusion you will find you have only inert forces; and the two elements remain there, together but unfused, eternally opposed to each other, never able to be united!… Or else there is not merely inertia—there are shocks, explosions, catastrophes, accidents, dramas….  6
  Madame de Rumières—Have you ever been in love?  7
  M. Rémonin—I? My dear marquise, I am a scientist—I have never had time! And you?  8
  Madame de Rumières—I have loved my children. M. de Rumières was a charming man all his life; but he didn’t expect me really to love him. My son tells me his affairs of the heart;… my daughter has already made me a grandmother…. I have little to reproach myself as to my past life, and now I look on at the lives of others, sometimes much interested. I am like the subscribers to the Opéra, who know the whole repertory by heart, but who can always hear some passages with pleasure and who encourage the débutants.  9
 
 
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