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Tea-table Talk Jerome K. Jerome

Chapter I

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"Patriotism is a great virtue," replied the Philosopher: "the Jingoes have made it ridiculous."

"On the contrary," said the Minor Poet, "they have taught us to distinguish between the true and the false. So it is with love. The more it is cheapened, ridiculed, employed for market purposes, the less the inclination to affect it--to be in love with love, as Heine admitted he was, for its own sake."

"Is the necessity to love born in us," said the Girton Girl, "or do we practise to acquire it because it is the fashion--make up our mind to love, as boys learn to smoke, because every other fellow does it, and we do not like to be peculiar?"

"The majority of men and women," said the Minor Poet, "are incapable of love. With most it is a mere animal passion, with others a mild affection."

"We talk about love," said the Philosopher, "as though it were a known quantity. After all, to say that a man loves is like saying that he paints or plays the violin; it conveys no meaning until we have witnessed his performance. Yet to hear the subject discussed, one might imagine the love of a Dante or a society Johnny, of a Cleopatra or a Georges Sand, to be precisely the same thing."

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"It was always poor Susan's trouble," said the Woman of the World; "she could never be persuaded that Jim really loved her. It was very sad, because I am sure he was devoted to her, in his way. But he could not do the sort of things she wanted him to do; she was so romantic. He did try. He used to go to all the poetical plays and study them. But he hadn't the knack of it and he was naturally clumsy. He would rush into the room and fling himself on his knees before her, never noticing the dog, so that, instead of pouring out his heart as he had intended, he would have to start off with, 'So awfully sorry! Hope I haven't hurt the little beast?' Which was enough to put anybody out."

"Young girls are so foolish," said the Old Maid; "they run after what glitters, and do not see the gold until it is too late. At first they are all eyes and no heart."

"I knew a girl," I said, "or, rather, a young married woman, who was cured of folly by the homoeopathic method. Her great trouble was that her husband had ceased to be her lover."

"It seems to me so sad," said the Old Maid. "Sometimes it is the woman's fault, sometimes the man's; more often both. The little courtesies, the fond words, the tender nothings that mean so much to those that love--it would cost so little not to forget them, and they would make life so much more beautiful."

"There is a line of common sense running through all things," I replied; "the secret of life consists in not diverging far from it on either side. He had been the most devoted wooer, never happy out of her eyes; but before they had been married a year she found to her astonishment that he could be content even away from her skirts, that he actually took pains to render himself agreeable to other women. He would spend whole afternoons at his club, slip out for a walk occasionally by himself, shut himself up now and again in his study. It went so far that one day he expressed a distinct desire to leave her for a week and go a-fishing with some other men. She never complained--at least, not to him."

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Tea-table Talk
Jerome K. Jerome

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