(for Louis and Emmie Kronenberger) Don Juan needs no bed, being far too impatient to undress, nor do Tristan and Isolda, much too in love to care for so mundane a matter, but unmythical mortals require one, and prefer to take their clothes off, if only to sleep. That is why bedroom farces must be incredible to be funny, why Peeping Toms are never praised, like novelists or bird-watchers, for their keenness of observation: where there’s a bed, be it a nun’s restricted cot or an Emperor’s baldachined and nightly-redamselled couch, there are no effable data. (Dreams may be repeatable, but our deeds of errantry in the wilderness of wish so often turns out, when told, to be less romantic than our day’s routine: besides, we cannot describe them without faking.) Lovers don’t see their embraces as a viable theme for debate, nor a monk his prayers (do they, in fact, remember them?) O’s of passion, interior acts of attention, not being a story in which the names don’t matter but the way of telling with a lawyer’s wit or a nobleman’s assurance, does, need a drawing-room of their own. Bed- sitting-rooms soon drive us crazy, a dormitory even sooner turns us to brutes: bona fide architects know that doors are not emphatic enough, and interpose, as a march between two realms, so alien, so disjunct, the no-man’s—land of a stair. The switch from personage, with a state number, a first and family name, to the naked Adam or Eve, and vice versa, should not be off-hand or abrupt: a stair retards it to a solemn procession. Since my infantile entrance at my mother’s bidding into Edwardian England, I have suffered the transit over forty thousand times, usually, to my chagrin, by myself: about blended flesh, those midnight colloquia of Darbies and Joans, I know nothing therefore, about certain occult antipathies perhaps too much. Some perks belong, though, to all unwilling celibates: our rooms are seldom battlefields, we enjoy the pleasure of reading in bed (as we grow older, it’s true, we may find it prudent to get nodding drunk first), we retain the right to choose our sacred image. (That I often start with sundry splendors at sundry times greened after, but always end aware of one, the same one, may be of no importance, but I hope it is.) Ordinary human unhappiness is life in its natural color, to cavil putting on airs: at day-wester to think of nothing benign to memorise is as rare as feeling no personal blemish, and Age, despite its damage, is well-off. When they look in their bedroom mirrors, Fifty-plus may be bored, but Seventeen is faced by a frowning failure, with no money, no mistress, no manner of his own, who never got to Italy nor met a great one: to say a few words at banquets, to attend a cocktail-party in honor of N or M, can be severe, but Junior has daily to cope with ghastly family meals, with dear Papa and Mama being odd in the wrong way. (It annoys him to speak, and it hurts him not to.) When I disband from the world, and entrust my future to the Gospel-Makers, I need not fear (not in neutral Austria) being called for in the waist of the night by deaf agents, never to be heard of on earth again: the assaults I would be spared are none of them princely — fire, nightmare, insomnia’s Vision of Hell, when Nature’s wholesome genial fabric lies utterly discussed and from a sullen vague wafts a contagious stench, her adamant minerals all corrupt, each life a worthless iteration of the general loathing (to know that, probably, its cause is chemical can degrade the panic, not stint it). As a rule, with pills to help them, the Holy Four exempt my nights from nuisance, and even wake me when I would be woken, when, audible here and there in the half-dark, members of an avian orchestra are already softly noodling, limbering up for an overture at sunrise, their effort to express in the old convention they inherit that joy in beginning for which our species was created, and declare it good. We may not be obliged — though it is mannerly — to bless the Trinity that we are corporal contraptions, but only a villain will omit to thank Our Lady or her hen-wife, Dame Kind, as he, she, or both ensemble, emerge from a private cavity to be re-born, re-neighbored in the Country of Consideration.