Translations of the French in Busman's Honeymoon

Letter 1

Uncle Paul to Harriet, beginning, "il ne'st que sensible..."

"He is only sensitive and passably sensual. He has more need of you than you of him, so be generous--his is a personality that one would have a hard time trying to pamper too much. He feels the need to give of himself--to unburden himself (to get things 'off his chest'); certainly you will not refuse him this modest pleasure. Coldness, affectation itself is a killer; he doesn't know how to assert himself against it, the struggle (effort) is repugnant to him. All that you know already--pardon me! I find you extremely understanding and I believe that his well-being is dear to us both. With that, he is a merchant of happiness to whom ill will comes in return; I hope that you will find in him that which will give you pleasure. You have only to be happy to keep him happy; he doesn't bear the sufferings of others very well. Accept, my dear niece, my most sincere good wishes..." (Chapter 19)

Letter 2

Uncle Paul to Peter, beginning "Cette femme te sera..."

This woman will be a staff for you to lean upon. Until now, she has known only the pain of love; you will teach her its delights. She will find in you unexpected refinements that she will know how to appreciate. But most important, my friend, she is not weak-headed. She is not a feather-braiend or silly young woman, she has a healthy intelligence and she likes to solve problems in her head. You do not need to be submissive, she will not be grateful for it (will be annoyed with it). Even less, do not cajole her, she might change her mind. She needs to be convinced; I am persuaded that she will show herself to be magnanimous. Make an effort to restrain the giddiness of a fiery heart--or at least reserve it for moments of conjugal intimacy where it is not out of place and might serve a useful purpose. In all other circumstances, make use of that ability to reason which you do not entirely lack. At your ages it is necessary to be precise; one may no longer settle a situation by giving up the reins of restraint or by screaming. Be firm, in order to inspire the respect of your wife; by allowing her her own thoughts, you will be providing her with the best means of not becoming bored." (Chapter 19)

From The Lord Peter Wimsey Companion, by Stephan P. Clarke. Published by The Mysterious Press, 1985.

Used with permission of the author.