Page:The Kiss and its History.djvu/71

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57
LOVE KISSES

doubtedly sympathise with the ancient ascetic conception in proportion as they unconsciously follow it in practice. A kiss to or from a woman we love is a far too delicate pledge of affection to bear the gaze of strangers.

How many engaged couples would, do you suppose, find favour in Cato's eyes? How often do they not by their behaviour offend the commonest notions of decency? Their kisses and caresses, which ought to be their secret possession, they expose quite unconcernedly to the sight of all. One evening at a large party I saw a young girl ostentatiously kiss on the mouth the gentleman to whom she was engaged. Cato would certainly turn in his grave if he knew that such immodest behaviour was actually tolerated by people of refinement and position; and how disgusted and indignant he would be—unless, indeed, he preferred to smile—at the sight of the duty-kisses after dinner, which are often exchanged between man and wife at dinner-parties. Ah, yes, when the belly's full. . . .! How warranted is Kierkegaard's satire on the conjugal domestic kiss with which husband and wife, in lack of a napkin, wipe each other's mouth