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A fatal objection to philandering is the difficulty of “de-ivying.” I have only met one philanderer who had really mastered this difficult art. In a careless moment he gave me his secret, and as his secret is of no use to me I publish it to the world for the benefit of other people.

“In my salad days,” he began, “I used to try the old formula, ‘I am not worthy of you,’ to which, of course, the reply is, ‘I know that, but that’s my affair.’ I then experimented with ‘Dearest, I cannot reconcile it with my conscience to go on making love to you. I am compromising you fatally, and I cannot bear to harm one whom I love so tenderly.’ And to that, of course, the rejoinder is: ‘You should have thought of this before.’ My present method is simple and effective. ‘It’s all my fault,’ I begin; ‘I’m an awful blackguard, and I’m not even a constant blackguard. I feel unutterably cheap and miserable, an utter skunk.’ That arouses their maternal instinct. They begin to comfort you and explain that they were even more to blame than you are. Once you’ve extracted that admission you just say: ‘I quite agree with you,’ and walk off smartly in the other direction.”

The gentleman who made this confession has been struck off my visiting list. I quote this sad story to illustrate the depths of turpitude to which all philanderers must ultimately sink.

Arnold Lunn (from Things That Have Puzzled Me, 1927)

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