Nothing can part us; and certainly any separation would only draw me more powerfully to you. I bethink me how at our last embrace, you vehemently resisting, I burst into simultaneous tears and laughter. I tried to calm myself, and in a sort of bewilderment I would not believe that I was separated from you until the surrounding objects convinced me of it against my will. But then my longing grew again irresistible, until on its wings I sank back into your arms. Suppose words or a human being to create a misunderstanding between us! The poignant grief would be transient and quickly resolve itself into complete harmony. How could separation separate us, when presence itself is to us, as it were, too present? We have to cool and mitigate the consuming fire with jests, and thus for us the most witty of the forms and situations of joy is also the most beautiful. One among all is at once the wittiest and the loveliest: when we exchange roles and with childish delight try to see who can best imitate the other; whether you succeed best with the tender vehemence of a man, or I with the yielding devotion of a woman. But, do you know, this sweet game has for me quite other charms than its own. It is not merely the delight of exhaustion or the anticipation of revenge. I see in it a wonderful and profoundly significant allegory of the development of man and woman into complete humanity. * * *
* * * * *
That was my dithyrambic fantasy on the loveliest situation in the loveliest of worlds. I know right well what you thought of it and how you took it at that time. And I think I know just as well what you will think of it and how you will take it here, here in this little book, in which you expect to find genuine history, plain truth and calm reason; yes, even morality, the charming morality of love. “How can a man wish to write anything which it is scarcely permissible to talk about, which ought only to be felt?” I replied: “If a man feels it, he must wish to talk about it, and what a man wishes to talk about he may write.”
I wanted first to demonstrate to you that there exists in the original and essential nature of man a certain awkward enthusiasm which likes to utter boldly that which is delicate and holy, and sometimes falls headlong over its own honest zeal and speaks a word that is divine to the point of coarseness.
This apology would indeed save me, but perhaps only at the enormous expense of my manhood itself; for whatever you may think of my manhood in particular, you have nevertheless a great deal against the sex in general. Meantime I will by no means make common cause with them, but will rather excuse and defend my liberty and audacity by means of the example of the little innocent Wilhelmina, since she too is a lady whom I love most tenderly. So I will straightway attempt a little sketch of her character.