On page 654 of the present volume reference is made to a custom prevalent in northern India of employing the family barber to select the boys and girls to be married, it being considered too trivial and humiliating an act for the parents to attend to. In pronouncing such a custom ludicrous and outrageous we must not forget that not much more than a century ago an English thinker, Samuel Johnson, expressed the opinion that marriages might as well be arranged by the Lord Chancellor without consulting the parties concerned. Schopenhauer had, indeed, reason to claim that it had remained for him to discover the significance and importance of love. His ideas on the relations between love, youth, health, and beauty opened up a new vista of thought; yet it was limited, because the question of heredity was only just beginning to be understood, and the theory of evolution, which has revolutionized all science, had not yet appeared on the horizon.

The new science of anthropology, with its various branches, including sociology, ethnology, and comparative psychology, has within the last two or three decades brought together and discussed an immense number of facts relating to man in his various stages of development—savagery, barbarism, semi-civilization, and civilization. Monographs have appeared in great numbers on various customs and institutions, including marriage, which has been discussed in several exhaustive volumes. Love alone has remained to be specially considered from an evolutionary point of view. My own book, Romantic Love and Personal Beauty, which appeared in 1887, did indeed touch upon this question, but very briefly, inasmuch as its subject, as the title indicates, was modern romantic love. A book on such a subject was naturally and easily written virginibus puerisque; whereas the present volume, being concerned chiefly with the love-affairs of savages and barbarians, could not possibly have been subjected to the same restrictions. Care has been taken, however, to exclude anything that might offend a healthy taste.

If it has been necessary in some chapters to multiply unpleasant facts, the reader must blame the sentimentalists who have so persistently whitewashed the savages that it has become necessary, in the interest of truth, to show them in their real colors. I have indeed been tempted to give my book the sub-title "A Vindication of Civilization" against the misrepresentations of these sentimentalists who try to create the impression that savages owe all their depravity to contact with whites, having been originally spotless angels. If my pictures of the unadulterated savage may in some cases produce the same painful impression as the sights in a museum's "chamber of horrors," they serve, on the other hand, to show us that, bad as we may be, collectively, we are infinitely superior in love-affairs, as in everything else, to those primitive peoples; and thus we are encouraged to hope for further progress in the future in the direction of purity and altruism.

Although I have been obliged under the circumstances to indulge in a considerable amount of controversy, I have taken great pains to state the views of my opponents fairly, and to be strictly impartial in presenting facts with accuracy. Nothing could be more foolish than the ostrich policy, so often indulged in, of hiding facts in the hope that opponents will not see them. Had I found any data inconsistent with my theory I should have modified it in accordance with them. I have also been very careful in regard to my authorities. The chief cause of the great confusion reigning in anthropological literature is that, as a rule, evidence is piled up with a pitchfork. Anyone who has been anywhere and expressed a globe-trotter's opinion is cited as a witness, with deplorable results. I have not only taken most of my multitudinous facts from the original sources, but I have critically examined the witnesses to see what right they have to parade as experts; as in the cases, for instance, of Catlin, Schoolcraft, Chapman, and Stephens, who are responsible for many "false facts" that have misled philosophers.

In writing a book like this the author's function is comparable to that of an architect who gets his materials from various parts of the world and fashions them into a building of more or less artistic merit. The anthropologist has to gather his facts from a greater variety of sources than any other writer, and from the very nature of his subject he is obliged to quote incessantly. The following pages embody the results of more than twelve years' research in the libraries of America and Europe. In weaving my quotations into a continuous fabric I have adopted a plan which I believe to be ingenious, and which certainly saves space and annoyance. Instead of citing the full titles of books every time they are referred to either in the text or in footnotes, I merely give the author's name and the page number, if only one of his books is referred to; and if there are several books, I give the initials—say Brinton, M.N.W., 130; which means Brinton's Myths of the New World, page 130. The key to the abbreviations will be found at the end of the volume in the bibliography, which also includes an author's index, separate from the index of subjects. This avoids the repetition of titles or of the customary useless "loc. cit.," and spares the reader the annoyance of constant interruption of his reading to glance at the bottom of the page.

Not a few of the critics of my first book, ignoring the difference between a romantic love-story and a story of romantic love, fancied they could refute me by simply referring to some ancient romantic story. To prevent a repetition of that procedure I have adorned these pages with a number of love-stories, adding critical comments wherever called for. These stories, I believe, augment, not only the interest but the scientific value of the monograph. In gathering them I have often wondered why no one anticipated me, though, to be sure, it was not an easy task, as they are scattered in hundreds of books, and in scientific periodicals where few would look for them. At the same time I confess that to me the tracing of the plot of the evolution of love, with its diverse obstacles, is more fascinating than the plot of an individual love-story. At any rate, since we have thousands of such love-stories, I am perhaps not mistaken in assuming that the story of love itself will be welcomed as a pleasant change. H.T.F.

NEW YORK, October 27, 1899.



     Origin of a Book
     Skeptical Critics
     Robert Burton
     Hegel on Greek Love
     Shelley on Greek Love
     Macaulay, Bulwer-Lytton, Gautier
     Goldsmith and Rousseau
     Love a Compound Feeling
     Herbert Spencer's Analysis
     Active Impulses Must be Added
     Sensuality the Antipode of Love
     The Word Romantic
     Animals Higher than Savages
     Love the Last, Not the First, Product of Civilization
     Plan of this Volume
     Greek Sentimentality
     Importance of Love


     No Love of Romantic Scenery
     No Love in Early Religion
     Murder as a Virtue
     Slaughter of the Innocents
     Honorable Polygamy
     Curiosities of Modesty
     Indifference to Chastity
     Horror of Incest


Ingredients of Love.


          All Girls Equally Attractive
          Shallow Predilection
          Repression of Preference
          Utility versus Sentiment
          A Story of African Love
          Similarity of Individuals and Sexes
          Primary and Secondary Sexual Characters
          Fastidious Sensuality is not Love
          Two Stories of Indian Love
          Feminine Ideals Superior to Masculine
          Sex in Body and Mind
          True Femininity and its Female Enemies
          Mysteries of Love,—An Oriental Love-Story


          Juliet and Nothing but Juliet
          Butterfly Love
          Romantic Stories of Non-Romantic Love
          Obstacles to Monopolism
          Wives and Girls in Common
          Trial Marriages
          Two Roman Lovers


          Rage at Rivals
          Women as Private Property
          Horrible Punishments
          Essence of True Jealousy
          Absence of Masculine Jealousy
          Persian and Greek Jealousy
          Primitive Feminine Jealousy
          Absence of Feminine Jealousy
          Jealousy Purged of Hate
          A Virtuous Sin
          Abnormal States
          Jealousy in Romantic Love


          Women Who Woo
          Were Hebrew and Greek Women Coy?
          Masculine Coyness
          Shy but not Coy
          Militarism and Mediaeval Women
          What Made Women Coy?
          Capturing Women
          The Comedy of Mock Capture
          Why the Women Resist
          Quaint Customs
          Greek and Roman Mercenary Coyness
          Modesty and Coyness
          Utility of Coyness
          How Women Propose


          Amorous Antitheses
          Courtship and Imagination
          Effects of Sensual Love


          Girls and Flowers
          Eyes and Stars
          Locks and Fragrance
          Poetic Desire for Contact
          Nature's Sympathy with Lovers
          Romantic but not Loving
          The Power of Love


          Comic Side of Love
          A Mystery Explained
          Importance of Pride
          Varieties and Germs
          Natural and Artificial Symptoms of Love


          Egotism, Naked or Masked
          Delight in the Torture of Others
          Indifference to Suffering
          Exposing the Sick and Aged
          Birth of Sympathy
          Women Crueler than Men
          Plato Denounces Sympathy
          Sham Altruism in India
          Evolution of Sympathy
          Amorous Sympathy


          Deification of Persons
          Primitive Contempt for Women
          Homage to Priestesses
          Kinship Through Females Only
          Woman's Domestic Rule
          Woman's Political Rule
          Greek Estimate of Women
          Man-Worship and Christianity


          The Gallant Rooster
          Ungallant Lower Races of Men
          Egyptian Love
          Arabian Love
          The Unchivalrous Greeks
          Ovid's Sham Gallantry
          Mediaeval and Modern Gallantry
          "An Insult to Woman,"
          A Sure Test of Love


          The Lady and the Tiger
          A Greek Love-Story
          Persian Love
          Hero and Leander
          The Elephant and the Lotos
          Suicide is Selfish


          Erotic Assassins
          The Wisdom of Solomon
          Stuff and Nonsense
          Sacrifices of Cannibal Husbands
          Inclinations Mistaken for Affection
          Selfish Liking and Attachment
          Foolish Fondness
          Unselfish Affection


          German Testimony
          English Testimony
          Maiden Fancies
          Pathologic Love
          A Modern Sentiment
          Persians, Turks, and Hindoos
          Love Despised in Japan and China
          Greek Scorn for Woman-Love
          Penetrative Virginity


          Darwin's Unfortunate Mistake
          Decoration for Protection
          War "Decorations,"
          Amulets, Charms, Medicines
          Mourning Language
          Indications of Tribe or Rank
          Vain Desire to Attract Attention
          Objects of Tattooing
          Tattooing on Pacific Islands
          Tattooing in America
          Tattooing in Japan
          Alleged Testimony of Natives, Misleading Testimony of
          "Decoration" at the Age of Puberty
          "Decoration" as a Test of Courage
          Mutilation, Fashion, and Emulation
          Personal Beauty versus Personal Decoration
          De Gustibus non est Disputandum?
          Indifference to Dirt
          Reasons for Bathing
          Corpulence versus Beauty
          Fattening Girls for the Marriage Market
          Oriental Ideals
          The Concupiscence Theory of Beauty
          Utility is not Beauty
          A New Sense Easily Lost Again
          Moral Ugliness
          Beautifying Intelligence
          The Strange Greek Attitude


          Definition of Love
          Why called Romantic.


     Appetite and Longing
     Wiles of an Oriental Girl
     Rarity of True Love.


     How Romantic Love is Metamorphosed
     Why Savages Value Wives
     Mourning to Order
     Mourning for Entertainment
     The Truth about Widow-Burning
     Feminine Devotion in Ancient Literature
     Wives Esteemed as Mothers Only
     Why Conjugal Precedes Romantic Love


        I. Ignorance and Stupidity
       II. Coarseness and Obscenity
      III. War
       IV. Cruelty
        V. Masculine Selfishness
       VI. Contempt for Women
      VII. Capture and Sale of Brides
     VIII. Infant Marriages
       IX. Prevention of Free Choice
        X. Separation of the Sexes
       XI. Sexual Taboos
      XII. Race Aversions
     XIII. Multiplicity of Languages
      XIV. Social Barriers
       XV. Religious Prejudice


     Bushman Qualifications for Love
     "Love in all Their Marriages,"
     False Facts Regarding Hottentots
     Effeminate Men and Masculine Women
     How the Hottentot Woman "Rules at Home,"
     "Regard for Women"
     Capacity for Refined Love
     Hottentot Coarseness
     Fat versus Sentiment
     South African Love-Poems
     A Hottentot Flirt
     Kaffir Morals
     Individual Preference for—Cows, Bargaining for Brides
     Amorous Preferences
     Zulu Girls not Coy
     Charms and Poems
     A Kaffir Love-Story
     Lower than Beasts
     Colonies of Free Lovers
     A Lesson in Gallantry
     Not a Particle of Romance
     No Love Among Negroes
     A Queer Story
     Poetic Love on the Congo
     Black Love in Kamerun
     A Slave Coast Love-Story
     The Maiden who Always Refused
     African Story-Books
     The Five Suitors
     Tamba and the Princess
     The Sewing Match
     Baling out the Brook
     Proverbs about Women
     African Amazons
     Where Woman Commands
     No Chance for Romantic Love
     Pastoral Love
     Abyssinian Beauty and Flirtation
     Galla Coarseness
     Somali Love-Affairs
     Arabic Influences
     Touareg Chivalry
     An African Love-Letter


     Personal Charms of Australians
     Cruel Treatment of Women
     Were Savages Corrupted by Whites?
     Aboriginal Horrors
     Naked and not Ashamed
     Is Civilization Demoralizing?
     Aboriginal Wantonness
     Lower than Brutes
     Indifference to Chastity
     Useless Precautions
     Survivals of Promiscuity
     Aboriginal Depravity
     The Question of Promiscuity
     Why do Australians Marry?
     Curiosities of Jealousy
     Pugnacious Females
     Swapping Girls
     The Philosophy of Elopements
     Charming a Woman by Magic
     Other Obstacles to Love
     Marriage Taboos and "Incest"
     Affection for Women and Dogs
     A Horrible Custom
     Romantic Affliction
     A Lock of Hair
     Two Native Stories
     Barrington's Love-Story
     Risking Life for a Woman
     Gerstaecker's Love-Story
     Local Color in Courtship


     Where Women Propose
     Bornean Caged Girls
     Charms of Dyak Women
     Dyak Morals
     Nocturnal Courtship
     Head Hunters A-Wooing
     Fickle and Shallow Passion
     Dyak Love-Songs
     The Girl With the Clean Face
     Fijian Refinements
     How Cannibals Treat Women
     Fijian Modesty and Chastity
     Emotional Curiosities
     Fijian Love-Poems
     Serenades and Proposals
     Suicides and Bachelors
     Samoan Traits
     Courtship Pantomime
     Two Samoan Love-Stories
     Personal Charms of South Sea Islanders
     Tahitians and Their White Visitors
     Heartless Treatment of Women
     Two Stories of Tahitian Infatuation
     Captain Cook on Tahitian Love
     Were the Tongans Civilized?
     Love of Scenery
     A Cannibal Bargain
     The Handsome Chiefs
     Honeymoon in a Cave
     A Hawaiian Cave-Story
     Is this Romantic Love?
     Vagaries of Hawaiian Fondness
     Hawaiian Morals
     The Helen of Hawaii
     Intercepted Love-Letters
     Maoris of New Zealand
     The Maiden of Rotorua
     The Man on the Tree
     Love in a Fortress
     Stratagem of an Elopement
     Maori Love-Poems
     The Wooing-House
     Liberty of Choice and Respect for Women
     Maori Morals and Capacity for Love


     The Red Lover
     The Foam Woman
     The Humpback Magician
     The Buffalo King
     The Haunted Grove
     The Girl and the Scalp
     A Chippewa Love-Song
     How "Indian Stories" are Written
     Reality versus Romance
     Deceptive Modesty
     Were Indians Corrupted by Whites?
     The Noble Red Man
     Apparent Exceptions
     Intimidating California Squaws
     Going A-Calumeting
     Squaws and Personal Beauty
     Are North American Indians Gallant?
     South American Gallantry
     How Indians Adore Squaws
     Choosing a Husband
     Compulsory "Free Choice"
     A British Columbia Story
     The Danger of Coquetry
     The Girl Market
     Other Ways of Thwarting Free Choice
     Central and South American Examples
     Why Indians Elope
     Suicide and Love
     Curiosities of Courtship
     Pantomimic Love-Making
     Music in Indian Courtship
     Indian Love-Poems
     More Love-Stories
     "White Man Too Much Lie"
     The Story of Pocahontas
     Verdict: No Romantic Love
     The Unloving Eskimo.


     "Whole Tracts of Feeling Unknown to Them"
     Practical Promiscuity
     "Marvellously Pretty and Romantic"
     Liberty of Choice
     Scalps and Field-Mice
     A Topsy-Turvy Custom
     Pahária Lads and Lasses
     Child-Murder and Child-Marriage
     Monstrous Parental Selfishness
     How Hindoo Girls are Disposed of
     Hindoos Far Below Brutes
     Contempt in Place of Love
     Widows and Their Tormentors
     Hindoo Depravity
     Temple Girls
     An Indian Aspasia
     Symptoms of Feminine Love
     Symptoms of Masculine Love
     Lyrics and Dramas
     I. The Story of Sakuntala
     II. The Story of Urvasi
     III. Malavika and Agnimitra
     IV. The Story of Savitri
     V. Nala and Damayanti
     Artificial Symptoms
     The Hindoo God of Love
     Dying for Love
     What Hindoo Poets Admire in Women
     The Old Story of Selfishness
     Bayadères and Princesses as Heroines
     Voluntary Unions not Respectable


     The Story of Jacob and Rachel
     The Courting of Rebekah
     How Ruth Courted Boaz
     No Sympathy or Sentiment
     A Masculine Ideal of Womanhood
     Not the Christian Ideal of Love
     Unchivalrous Slaughter of Women
     Four More Bible Stories
     Abishag the Shunammite
     The Song of Songs


     Champions of Greek Love
     Gladstone on the Women of Homer
     Achilles as a Lover
     Odysseus, Libertine and Ruffian
     Was Penelope a Model Wife?
     Hector and Andromache
     Barbarous Treatment of Greek Women
     Love in Sappho's Poems
     Masculine Minds in Female Bodies
     Anacreon and Others
     Woman and Love in Aeschylus
     Woman and Love in Sophocles
     Woman and Love in Euripides
     Romantic Love, Greek Style
     Platonic Love of Women
     Spartan Opportunities for Love
     Amazonian Ideal of Greek Womanhood
     Athenian Orientalism
     Literature and Life
     Greek Love in Africa
     Alexandrian Chivalry
     The New Comedy
     Theocritus and Callimachus
     Medea and Jason
     Poets and Hetairai
     Short Stories
     Greek Romances
     Daphnis and Chloe
     Hero and Leander
     Cupid and Psyche





"Love is always the same. As Sappho loved, fifty years ago, so did people love ages before her; so will they love thousands of years hence."

These words, placed by Professor Ebers in the mouth of one of the characters in his historic novel, An Egyptian Princess, express the prevalent opinion on this subject, an opinion which I, too, shared fifteen years ago. Though an ardent champion of the theory of evolution, I believed that there was one thing in the world to which modern scientific ideas of gradual development did not apply—that love was too much part and parcel of human nature to have ever been different from what it is to-day.


It so happened that I began to collect notes for a paper on "How to Cure Love." It was at first intended merely as a personal experiment in emotional psychology. Afterward it occurred to me that such a sketch might be shaped into a readable magazine article. This, again, suggested a complementary article on "How to Win Love"—a sort of modern Ovid in prose; and then suddenly came the thought,

"Why not write a book on love? There is none in the English language—strange anomaly—though love is supposed to be the most fascinating and influential thing in the world. It will surely be received with delight, especially if I associate with it some chapters on personal beauty, the chief inspirer of love. I shall begin by showing that the ancient Greeks and Romans and Hebrews loved precisely as we love."

Forthwith I took down from my shelves the classical authors that I had not touched since leaving college, and eagerly searched for all references to women, marriage, and love. To my growing surprise and amazement I found that not only did those ancient authors look upon women as inferior beings while I worshipped them, but in their descriptions of the symptoms of love I looked in vain for mention of those supersensual emotions and self-sacrificing impulses which overcame me when I was in love. "Can it be," I whispered to myself, "that, notwithstanding the universal opinion to the contrary, love is, after all, subject to the laws of development?"

This hypothesis threw me into a fever of excitement, without the stimulus of which I do not believe I should have had the courage and patience to collect, classify, and weave into one fabric the enormous number of facts and opinions contained within the covers of Romantic Love and Personal Beauty. I believed that at last something new under the sun had been found, and I was so much afraid that the discovery might leak out prematurely, that for two years I kept the first half of my title a secret, telling inquisitive friends merely that I was writing a book on Personal Beauty. And no one but an author who is in love with his theme and whose theme is love can quite realize what a supreme delight it was—with occasional moments of anxious suspense—to go through thousands of books in the libraries of America, England, France, and Germany and find that all discoverable facts, properly interpreted, bore out my seemingly paradoxical and reckless theory.


When the book appeared some of the critics accepted my conclusions, but a larger number pooh-poohed them. Here are a few specimen comments:

"His great theses are, first, that romantic love is an entirely modern invention; and, secondly, that romantic love and conjugal love are two things essentially different…. Now both these theses are luckily false."

"He is wrong when he says there was no such thing as pre-matrimonial love known to the ancients."

"I don't believe in his theory at all, and … no one is likely to believe in it after candid examination."

"A ridiculous theory."

"It was a misfortune when Mr. Finck ran afoul of this theory."

"Mr. Finck will not need to live many years in order to be ashamed of it."

"His thesis is not worth writing about."

"It is true that he has uttered a profoundly original thought, but, unfortunately, the depth of its originality is surpassed by its fathomless stupidity."

"If in the light of these and a million other facts, we should undertake to explain why nobody had anticipated Mr. Finck's theory that love is a modern sentiment, we should say it might be because nobody who felt inspired to write about it was ever so extensively unacquainted with the literature of the human passions."

"Romantic love has always existed, in every clime and age, since man left simian society; and the records of travellers show that it is to be found even among the lowest savages."


While not a few of the commentators thus rejected or ridiculed my thesis, others hinted that I had been anticipated. Several suggested that Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy had been my model. As a matter of fact, although one of the critics referred to my book as "a marvel of epitomized research," I must confess, to my shame, that I was not aware that Burton had devoted two hundred pages to what he calls Love-Melancholy, until I had finished the first sketch of my manuscript and commenced to rewrite it. My experience thus furnished a striking verification of the witty epitaph which Burton wrote for himself and his book: "Known to few, unknown to fewer still." However, after reading Burton, I was surprised that any reader of Burton should have found anything in common between his book and mine, for he treated love as an appetite, I as a sentiment; my subject was pure, supersensual affection, while his subject is frankly indicated in the following sentences:

"I come at last to that heroical love, which is proper to men and women … and deserves much rather to be called burning lust than by such an honorable title." "This burning lust … begets rapes, incests, murders." "It rages with all sorts and conditions of men, yet is most evident among such as are young and lusty, in the flower of their years, nobly descended, high fed, such as live idly, at ease, and for that cause (which our divines call burning lust) this mad and beastly passion … is named by our physicians heroical love, and a more honorable title put upon it, Amor nobilis, as Savonarola styles it, because noble men and women make a common practice of it, and are so ordinarily affected with it." "Carolus à Lorme … makes a doubt whether this heroical love be a disease…. Tully … defines it a furious disease of the mind; Plato madness itself."

     "Gordonius calls this disease the proper passion of

     "This heroical passion or rather brutish burning lust
     of which we treat."

The only honorable love Burton knows is that between husband and wife, while of such a thing as the evolution of love he had, of course, not the remotest conception, as his book appeared in 1621, or two hundred and thirty-eight years before Darwin's Origin of Species.


In a review of my book which appeared in the now defunct New York Star, the late George Parsons Lathrop wrote that the author

"says that romantic love is a modern sentiment, less than a thousand years old. This idea, I rather think, he derived from Hegel, although he does not credit that philosopher with it."

I read this criticism with mingled emotions. If it was true that Hegel had anticipated me, my claims to priority of discovery would vanish, even though the idea had come to me spontaneously; but, on the other hand, the disappointment at this thought was neutralized by the reflection that I should gain the support of one of the most famous philosophers, and share with him the sneers and the ridicule bestowed upon my theory. I wrote to Mr. Lathrop, begging him to refer me to the volume and page of Hegel's numerous works where I could find the passage in question. He promptly replied that I should find it in the second volume of the Aesthetik (178-182). No doubt I ought to have known that Hegel had written on this subject; but the fact that of more than two hundred American, English, and German reviewers of my book whose notices I have seen, only one knew what had thus escaped my research, consoled me somewhat. Hegel, indeed, might well have copied Burton's epitaph. His Aesthetik is an abstruse, unindexed, three-volume work of 1,575 pages, which has not been reprinted since 1843, and is practically forgotten. Few know it, though all know of it.

After perusing Hegel's pages on this topic I found, however, that Mr. Lathrop had imputed to him a theory—my theory—which that philosopher would have doubtless repudiated emphatically. What Hegel does is simply to call attention to the fact that in the literature of the ancient Greeks and Romans love is depicted only as a transient gratification of the senses, or a consuming heat of the blood, and not as a romantic, sentimental affection of the soul. He does not generalize, says nothing about other ancient nations,[1] and certainly never dreamt of such a thing as asserting that love had been gradually and slowly developed from the coarse and selfish passions of our savage ancestors to the refined and altruistic feelings of modern civilized men and women. He lived long before the days of scientific anthropology and Darwinism, and never thought of such a thing as looking upon the emotions and morals of primitive men as the raw material out of which our own superior minds have been fashioned. Nay, Hegel does not even say that sentimental love did not exist in the life of the Greeks and Romans; he simply asserts that it is not to be found in their literature. The two things are by no means identical.

Professor Rohde, an authority on the erotic writings of the Greeks, expresses the opinion repeatedly that, whatever their literature may indicate, they themselves were capable of feeling strong and pure love; and the eminent American psychologist, Professor William James, put forth the same opinion in a review of my book.[2] Indeed, this view was broached more than a hundred years ago by a German author, Basil von Ramdohr, who wrote four volumes on love and its history, entitled Venus Urania. His first two volumes are almost unreadably garrulous and dull, but the third and fourth contain an interesting account of various phases through which love has passed in literature. Yet he declares (Preface, vol. iii.) that "the nature [Wesen] of love is unchangeable, but the ideas we entertain in regard to it and the effects we ascribe to it, are subject to alteration."


It is possible that Hegel may have read this book, for it appeared in 1798, while the first manuscript sketches of his lectures on esthetics bear the date of 1818. He may have also read Robert Wood's book entitled An Essay on the Original Genius and Writings of Homer, dated 1775, in which this sentence occurs:

"Is it not very remarkable, that Homer, so great a master of the tender and pathetic, who has exhibited human nature in almost every shape, and under every view, has not given a single instance of the powers and effects of love, distinct from sensual enjoyment, in the Iliad?"

This is as far as I have been able to trace back this notion in modern literature. But in the literature of the first half of the nineteenth century I have come across several adumbrations of the truth regarding the Greeks,[3] by Shelley, Lord Lytton, Lord Macaulay, and Théophile Gautier. Shelley's ideas are confused and contradictory, but interesting as showing the conflict between traditional opinion and poetic intuition. In his fragmentary discourse on "The Manners of the Ancients Relating to the Subject of Love," which was intended to serve as an introduction to Plato's Symposium, he remarks that the women of the ancient Greeks, with rare exceptions, possessed

"the habits and the qualities of slaves. They were probably not extremely beautiful, at least there was no such disproportion in the attractions of the external form between the female and male sex among the Greeks, as exists among the modern Europeans. They were certainly devoid of that moral and intellectual loveliness with which the acquisition of knowledge and the cultivation of sentiment animates, as with another life of overpowering grace, the lineaments and the gestures of every form which they inhabit. Their eyes could not have been deep and intricate from the workings of the mind, and could have entangled no heart in soul-enwoven labyrinths." Having painted this life-like picture of the Greek female mind, Shelley goes on to say perversely:

"Let it not be imagined that because the Greeks were deprived of its legitimate object, that they were incapable of sentimental love, and that this passion is the mere child of chivalry and the literature of modern times."

He tries to justify this assertion by adding that

"Man is in his wildest state a social being: a certain degree of civilization and refinement ever produces the want of sympathies still more intimate and complete; and the gratification of the senses is no longer all that is sought in sexual connection. It soon becomes a very small part of that profound and complicated sentiment, which we call love, which is rather the universal thirst for a communion not merely of the senses, but of our whole nature, intellectual, imaginative, and sensitive."

Here Shelley contradicts himself flatly by saying, in two consecutive sentences, that Greek women were "certainly devoid of the moral and intellectual loveliness" which inspires sentimental love, but that the men nevertheless could feel such love. His mind was evidently hazy on the subject, and that is probably the reason why his essay remained a fragment.


Macaulay, with deeper insight than Shelley showed, realized that the passion of love may undergo changes. In his essay on Petrarch he notes that in the days of that poet love had become a new passion, and he clearly realizes the obstacles to love presented by Greek institutions. Of the two classes of women in Greece, the respectable and the hetairai, he says:

"The matrons and their daughters, confined in the harem—insipid, uneducated, ignorant of all but the mechanical arts, scarcely seen till they were married—could rarely excite interest; while their brilliant rivals, half graces, half harpies, elegant and refined, but fickle and rapacious, could never inspire respect."

Lord Lytton wrote an essay on "The Influence of Love upon Literature and Real Life," in which he stated that

"with Euripides commences the important distinction in the analysis of which all the most refined and intellectual of modern erotic literature consists, viz., the distinction between love as a passion and love as a sentiment…. He is the first of the Hellenic poets who interests us intellectually in the antagonism and affinity between the sexes."

Théophile Gautier clearly realized one of the differences between ancient passion and modern love. In Mademoiselle de Maupin, he makes this comment on the ancient love-poems:

"Through all the subtleties and veiled expressions one hears the abrupt and harsh voice of the master who endeavors to soften his manner in speaking to a slave. It is not, as in the love-poems written since the Christian era, a soul demanding love of another soul because it loves…. 'Make haste, Cynthia; the smallest wrinkle may prove the grave of the most violent passion.' It is in this brutal formula that all ancient elegy is summed up."


In Romantic Love and Personal Beauty I intimated (116) that Oliver Goldsmith was the first author who had a suspicion of the fact that love is not the same everywhere and at all times. My surmise was apparently correct; it is not refuted by any of the references to love by the several authors just quoted, since all of these were written from about a half a century to a century later than Goldsmith's Citizen of the World (published in 1764), which contains his dialogue on "Whether Love be a Natural or a Fictitious Passion." His assertion therein that love existed only in early Rome, in chivalrous mediaeval Europe, and in China, all the rest of the world being, and having ever been, "utter strangers to its delights and advantages," is, of course a mere bubble of his poetic fancy, not intended to be taken too seriously, and, is, moreover, at variance with facts. It is odd that he overlooks the Greeks, whereas the other writers cited confine themselves to the Greeks and their Roman imitators.

Ten years before Goldsmith thus launched the idea that most nations were and had ever been strangers to the delights and advantages of love, Jean Jacques Rousseau published a treatise, Discours sur l'inégalité (1754), in which he asserted that savages are strangers to jealousy, know no domesticity, and evince no preferences, being as well pleased with one woman as with another. Although, as we shall see later, many savages do have a crude sort of jealousy, domesticity, and individual preference, Rousseau, nevertheless, hints prophetically at a great truth—the fact that some, at any rate, of the phenomena of love are not to be found in the life of savages. Such a thought, naturally, was too novel to be accepted at once. Ramdohr, for instance, declares (III. 17) that he cannot convince himself that Rousseau is right. Yet, on the preceding page he himself had written that "it is unreasonable to speak of love between the sexes among peoples that have not yet advanced so far as to grant women humane consideration."


All these things are of extreme interest as showing the blind struggles of a great idea to emerge from the mist into daylight. The greatest obstacle to the recognition of the fact that love has a history, and is subject to the laws of evolution lay in the habit of looking upon it as a simple feeling.

When I wrote my first book on love, I believed that Herbert Spencer was the first thinker who grasped the idea that love is a composite state of mind. I now see, however, that Silvius, in Shakspere's As You Like It (V. 2), gave a broad hint of the truth, three hundred years ago. Phoebe asks him to "tell what 't is to love," and he replies:

     It is to be all made of sighs and tears….
     It is to be all made of faith and service….
     It is to be all made of fantasy,
     All made of passion, and all made of wishes,
     All adoration, duty, and observance,
     All humbleness, all patience, and impatience,
     All purity, all trial, all obedience.

Coleridge also vaguely recognized the composite nature of love in the first stanza of his famous poem:

     All thoughts, all passions, all delights,
     Whatever stirs this mortal frame,
     All are but ministers of love,
       And feed his sacred flame.

And Swift adds, in "Cadenus and Vanessa:"

     Love, why do we one passion call,
     When 'tis a compound of them all?

The eminent Danish critic, George Brandes, though a special student of English literature, overlooked these poets when he declared, in one of his lectures on literary history (1872), that the book in which love is for the first time looked on as something composite and an attempt made to analyze it into its elements, is Benjamin Constant's Adolphe (which appeared in 1816). "In Adolphe," he says,

"and in all the literature associated with that book, we are informed accurately how many parts, how many grains, of friendship, devotion, vanity, ambition, admiration, respect, sensual attraction, illusion, fancy, deception, hate, satiety, enthusiasm, reasoning calculation, etc., are contained in the mixtum compositum which the enamoured persons call love."

This list, moreover, does not accurately name a single one of the essential ingredients of true love, dwelling only on associated phenomena, whereas Shakspere's lines call attention to three states of mind which form part of the quintessence of romantic love—gallant "service," "adoration," and "purity"—while "patience and impatience" may perhaps be accepted as an equivalent of what I call the mixed moods of hope and despair.


Nevertheless the first thinker who treated love as a compound feeling and consciously attempted a philosophical analysis of it was Herbert Spencer. In 1855 he published his Principles of Psychology, and in 1870 appeared a greatly enlarged edition, paragraph 215 of which contains the following exposition of his views:

"The passion which unites the sexes is habitually spoken of as though it were a simple feeling; whereas it is the most compound, and therefore the most powerful, of all the feelings. Added to the purely physical elements of it are first to be noticed those highly complex impressions produced by personal beauty; around which are aggregated a variety of pleasurable ideas, not in themselves amatory, but which have an organized relation to the amatory feeling. With this there is united the complex sentiment which we term affection—a sentiment which, as it exists between those of the same sex, must be regarded as an independent sentiment, but one which is here greatly exalted. Then there is the sentiment of admiration, respect, or reverence—in itself one of considerable power, and which in this relation becomes in a high degree active. There comes next the feeling called love of approbation. To be preferred above all the world, and that by one admired beyond all others, is to have the love of approbation gratified in a degree passing every previous experience: especially as there is added that indirect gratification of it which results from the preference being witnessed by unconcerned persons. Further, the allied emotion of self-esteem comes into play. To have succeeded in gaining such attachment from, and sway over, another, is a proof of power which cannot fail agreeably to excite the amour propre. Yet again the proprietary feeling has its share in the general activity: there is the pleasure of possession—the two belong to each other. Once more, the relation allows of an extended liberty of action. Toward other persons a restrained behavior is requisite. Round each there is a subtle boundary that may not be crossed—an individuality on which none may trespass. But in this case the barriers are thrown down; and thus the love of unrestrained activity is gratified. Finally, there is an exaltation of the sympathies. Egoistic pleasures of all kinds are doubled by another's sympathetic participation; and the pleasures of another are added to the egoistic pleasures. Thus, round the physical feeling forming the nucleus of the whole, are gathered the feelings produced by personal beauty, that constituting simple attachment, those of reverence, of love of approbation, of self-esteem, of property, of love of freedom, of sympathy. These, all greatly exalted, and severally tending to reflect their excitements on one another, unite to form the mental state we call love. And as each of them is itself comprehensive of multitudinous states of consciousness, we may say that this passion fuses into one immense aggregate most of the elementary excitations of which we are capable; and that hence results its irresistible power."

Ribot has copied this analysis of love in his Psychologie des Sentiments (p. 249), with the comment that it is the best known to him (1896) and that he sees nothing to add or to take away from it. Inasmuch as it forms merely an episodic illustration in course of a general argument, it certainly bears witness to the keenness of Spencer's intellect. Yet I cannot agree with Ribot that it is a complete analysis of love. It aided me in conceiving the plan for my first book, but I soon found that it covered only a small part of the ground. Of the ingredients as suggested by him I accepted only two—Sympathy, and the feelings associated with Personal Beauty. What he called love of approbation, self-esteem, and pleasure of possession I subsummed under the name of Pride of Conquest and Possession. Further reflection has convinced me that it would have been wiser if, instead of treating Romantic Love as a phase of affection (which, of course, was in itself quite correct), I had followed Spencer's example and made affection one of the ingredients of the amorous passion. In the present volume I have made the change and added also Adoration, which includes what Spencer calls "the sentiment of admiration, respect, or reverence," while calling attention to the superlative phase of these sentiments which is so characteristic of the lover, who does not say, "I respect you," but "I adore you." I may therefore credit Spencer with having suggested three or four only of the fourteen essential ingredients which I find in love.


The most important distinction between Spencer's analysis of love and mine is that he treats it merely as a composite feeling, or a group of emotions, whereas I treat it as a complex state of mind including not only diverse feelings or sentiments—sympathy, admiration of beauty, jealousy, affection—but the active, altruistic impulses of gallantry and self-sacrifice, which are really more essential to an understanding of the essence of love, and a better test of it, than the sentiments named by Spencer. He ignores also the absolutely essential traits of individual preference and monopolism, besides coyness, hyperbole, the mixed moods of hope and despair, and purity, with the diverse emotions accompanying them. An effort to trace the evolution of the ingredients of love was first made in my book, though in a fragmentary way, in which respect the present volume will be found a great improvement. Apart from the completion of the analysis of love, my most important contribution to the study of this subject lies in the recognition of the fact that, "love" being so vague and comprehensive a term, the only satisfactory way of studying its evolution is to trace the evolution of each of its ingredients separately, as I do in the present volume in the long chapter entitled "What Is Romantic Love?"

In Romantic Love and Personal Beauty (180) I wrote that perhaps the main reason why no one had anticipated me in the theory that love is an exclusively modern sentiment was that no distinction had commonly been made between romantic love and conjugal affection, noble examples of the latter being recorded in countries where romantic love was not possible owing to the absence of opportunities for courtship. I still hold that conjugal love antedated the romantic variety, but further study has convinced me that (as will be shown in the chapters on Conjugal Love and on India, and Greece) much of what has been taken as evidence of wifely devotion is really only a proof of man's tyrannic selfishness which compelled the woman always to subordinate herself to her cruel master. The idea on which I placed so much emphasis, that opportunity for prolonged courtship is essential to the growth of romantic love, was some years later set forth by Dr. Drummond in his Ascent of Man where he comments eloquently on the fact that "affection needs time to grow."


The keynote of my first book lies of course in the distinction between sensual love and romantic love. This distinction seemed to me so self-evident that I did not dwell on it at length, but applied myself chiefly to the task of proving that savages and ancient nations knew only one kind, being strangers to romantic or pure love. When I wrote (76) "No one, of course, would deny that sensual passion prevailed in Athens; but sensuality is the very antipode of love," I never dreamed that anyone would object to this distinction in itself. Great, therefore, was my amazement when, on reading the London Saturday Review's comments on my book, I came across the following:

"and when we find Mr. Finck marking off Romantic Love not merely from Conjugal Love, but from what he is pleased to call 'sensuality,' we begin to suspect that he really does not know what he is talking about."

This criticism, with several others similar to it, was of great use to me, as it led to a series of studies, which convinced me that even at the present day the nature of romantic love is not understood by the vast majority of Europeans and Americans, many of them very estimable and intelligent individuals.


Another London paper, the Academy, took me to task for using the word "romantic" in the sense I applied to it. But in this case, too, further research has shown that I was justified in using that word to designate pure prematrimonial love. There is a passage in Steele's Lover (dated 1714) which proves that it must have been in common use in a similar sense two centuries ago. The passage refers to "the reign of the amorous Charles the Second," and declares that

"the licenses of that court did not only make the Love which the Vulgar call Romantick, the object of Jest and Ridicule, but even common Decency and Modesty were almost abandoned as formal and unnatural."

Here there is an obvious antithesis between romantic and sensual. The same antithesis was used by Hegel in contrasting the sensual love of the ancient Greeks and Romans with what he calls modern "romantic" love. Waitz-Gerland, too, in the six volumes of their Anthropologie der Naturvölker, repeatedly refer to (alleged) cases of "romantic love" among savages and barbarians, having in all probability adopted the term from Hegel. The peculiar appropriateness of the word romantic to designate imaginative love will be set forth later in the chapter entitled Sensuality, Sentimentality, and Sentiment. Here I will only add an important truth which I shall have occasion to repeat often—that a romantic love-story is not necessarily a story of romantic love; for it is obvious, for instance, that an elopement prompted by the most frivolous sensual passion, without a trace of real love, may lead to the most romantic incidents.

In the chapters on affection, gallantry, and self-sacrifice, I shall make it clear even to a Saturday Reviewer that the gross sensual infatuation which leads a man to shoot a girl who refuses him, or a tramp to assault a woman on a lonely road and afterward to cut her throat in order to hide his crime, is absolutely antipodal to the refined, ardent, affectionate Romantic Love which impels a man to sacrifice his own life rather than let any harm or dishonor come to the beloved.


Dr. Albert Moll of Berlin, in his second treatise on sexual anomalies,[4] takes occasion to express his disbelief in my view that love before marriage is a sentiment peculiar to modern man. He declares that traits of such love occur even in the courtship of animals, particularly birds, and implies that this upsets my theory. On the same ground a reviewer in a New York evening paper accused me of being illogical. Such criticisms illustrate the vague ideas regarding evolution that are still current. It is assumed that all the faculties are developed step by step simultaneously as we proceed from lower to higher animals, which is as illogical as it would be to assume that since birds have such beautiful and convenient things as wings, and dogs belong to a higher genus of animals, therefore dogs ought to have better wings than birds. Most animals are cleaner than savages; why should not some of them be more romantic in their love-affairs? I shall take occasion repeatedly to emphasize this point in the present volume, though I alluded to it already in my first book (55) in the following passage, which my critics evidently overlooked:

"In passing from animals to human beings we find at first not only no advance in the sexual relations, but a decided retrogression. Among some species of birds, courtship and marriage are infinitely more refined and noble than among the lowest savages, and it is especially in their treatment of females, both before and after mating, that not only birds but all animals show an immense superiority over primitive man; for male animals fight only among themselves and never maltreat the females."


Notwithstanding this striking and important fact, there is a large number of sentimental writers who make the extraordinary claim that the lower races, however savage they may be in everything else, are like ourselves in their amorous relations; that they love and admire personal beauty just as we do. The main object of the present volume is to demolish this doctrine; to prove that sexual refinement and the sense of personal beauty are not the earliest but the latest products of civilization. I have shown elsewhere[5] that Japanese civilization is in many important respects far superior to ours; yet in their treatment of women and estimate of love, this race has not yet risen above the barbarous stage; and it will be shown in this volume that if we were to judge the ancient Greeks and the Hindoos from this point of view, we should have to deny them the epithet of civilized. Morgan found that the most advanced of American Indians, the Iroquois, had no capacity for love. His testimony in detail will be found in its proper place in this volume, together with that of competent observers regarding other tribes and races. Some of this evidence was known to the founders of the modern science of sociology. It led Spencer to write en passant (Pr. Soc., I., § 337, §339) that "absence of the tender emotion … habitually characterizes men of low types;" and that the "higher sentiments accompanying union of the sexes … do not exist among primitive men." It led Sir John Lubbock to write (50) regarding the lowest races that "love is almost unknown among them; and marriage, in its lowest phases, is by no means a matter of affection and companionship."


These are casual adumbrations of a great truth that applies not only to the lowest races (savages) but to the more advanced barbarians as well as to ancient civilized nations, as the present volume will attempt to demonstrate. To make my argument more impressive and conclusive, I present it in a twofold form. First I take the fourteen ingredients of love separately, showing how they developed gradually, whence it follows necessarily that love as a whole developed gradually. Then I take the Africans, Australians, American Indians, etc., separately, describing their diverse amorous customs and pointing out everywhere the absence of the altruistic, supersensual traits which constitute the essence of romantic love as distinguished from sensual passion. All this will be preceded by a chapter on "How Sentiments Change and Grow," which will weaken the bias against the notion that so elemental a feeling as sexual love should have undergone so great a change, by pointing out that other seemingly instinctive and unalterable feelings have changed and developed.


The inclusion of the civilized Greeks in a treatise on Primitive Love will naturally cause surprise; but I cannot attribute a capacity for anything more than primitive sensual love to a nation which, in its prematrimonial customs, manifested none of the essential altruistic traits of Romantic Love—sympathy, gallantry, self-sacrifice, affection, adoration, and purity. As a matter of course, the sensualism of a Greek or Roman is a much less coarse thing than an Australian's, which does not even include kisses or other caresses. While Greek love is not a sentiment, it may be sentimental, that is, an affectation of sentiment, differing from real sentiment as adulation does from adoration, as gallantry or the risking of life to secure favors do from genuine gallantry of the heart and self-sacrifice for the benefit of another. This important point which I here superadd to my theory, was overlooked by Benecke when he attributed a capacity for real love to the later Greeks of the Alexandrian period.


One of the most important theses advanced in Romantic Love and Personal Beauty (323, 424, etc.), was that love, far from being merely a passing episode in human life, is one of the most powerful agencies working for the improvement of the human race. During the reign of Natural Selection, before the birth of love, cripples, the insane, the incurably diseased, were cruelly neglected and allowed to perish. Christianity rose up against this cruelty, building hospitals and saving the infirm, who were thus enabled to survive, marry, and hand down their infirmities to future generations. As a mediator between these two agencies, love comes in; for Cupid, as I have said, "does not kill those who do not come up to his standard of health and beauty, but simply ignores and condemns them to a life of single-blessedness;" which in these days is not such a hardship as it used to be. This thought will be enlarged in the last chapter of the present volume, on the "Utility and Future of Love," which will indicate how the amorous sense is becoming more and more fastidious and beneficial. In the same chapter attention will be called, for the first time, to the three great strata in the evolution of parental love and morality. In the first, represented by savages, parents think chiefly of their own comfort, and children get the minimum of attention consistent with their preservation. In the second, which includes most of the modern Europeans and Americans, parents exercise care that their children shall make an advantageous marriage—that is a marriage which shall secure them wealth or comfort; but the frequency with which girls are married off to old, infirm, or unworthy men, shows how few parents as yet have a thought of their grandchildren. In the next stage of moral evolution, which we are now entering, the grandchildren's welfare also will be considered. In consequence of the persistent failure to consider the grandchildren, the human race is now anything but a model of physical, intellectual, and moral perfection. Luckily love, even in its sensual stages, has counteracted this parental selfishness and myopia by inducing young folks to marry for health, youth, and beauty, and creating an aversion to old age, disease, and deformity. As love becomes more and more fastidious and more regardful of intellectual worth and moral beauty—that is becomes Romantic Love—its sway becomes greater and greater, and the time will come when questions relating to it will form the most important chapters in treatises on moral philosophy, which now usually ignore them altogether.


In conversation with friends I have found that the current belief that love must have been always and everywhere the same, because it is such a strong and elemental passion, is most easily shaken in this a priori position by pointing out that there are other strong feelings in our minds which were lacking among earlier and lower races. The love of grand, wild scenery, for instance—what we call romantic scenery—is as modern as the romantic love of men and women. Ruskin tells us that in his youth he derived a pleasure from such scenery "comparable for intensity only to the joy of a lover in being near a noble and kind mistress."


Savages, on the other hand, are prevented from appreciating snow mountains, avalanches, roaring torrents, ocean storms, deep glens, jungles, and solitudes, not only by their lack of refinement, but by their fears of wild animals, human enemies, and evil spirits. "In the Australian bush," writes Tylor (P.C., II., 203), "demons whistle in the branches, and stooping with outstretched arms sneak among the trunks to seize the wayfarer;" and Powers (88) writes in regard to California Indians that they listen to night noises with unspeakable horror:

"It is difficult for us to conceive of the speechless terrors which these poor wretches suffer from the screeching of owls, the shrieking of night-hawks, the rustling of the trees … all of which are only channels of poison wherewith the demons would smite them."

To the primitive mind, the world over, a high mountain is the horror of horrors, the abode of evil spirits, and an attempt to climb it certain death. So strong is this superstition that explorers have often experienced the greatest difficulty in getting natives to serve as porters of provisions in their ascents of peaks.[6] Even the Greeks and Romans cared for landscape only in so far as it was humanized (parks and gardens) and habitable. "Their souls," says Rohde (511),

"could never have been touched by the sublime thrills we feel in the presence of the dark surges of the sea, the gloom of a primeval forest, the solitude and silence of sunlit mountain summits."

And Humboldt, who first noted the absence in Greek and Roman writings of the admiration of romantic scenery, remarked (24):

"Of the eternal snow of the Alps, glowing in the rosy light of the morning or evening sun, of the loveliness of the blue glacier ice, of the stupendous grandeur of Swiss landscape, no description has come down to us from them; yet there was a constant procession over these Alps, from Helvetia to Gallia, of statesmen and generals with literary men in their train. All these travellers tell us only of the steep and abominable roads; the romantic aspect of scenery never engages their attention. It is even known that Julius Caesar, when he returned to his legions in Gaul, employed his time while crossing the Alps in writing his grammatical treatise 'De Analogia.'"

A sceptical reader might retort that the love of romantic scenery is so subtle a sentiment, and so far from being universal even now, that it would be rash to argue from its absence among savages, Greeks, and Romans, that love, a sentiment so much stronger and more prevalent, could have been in the same predicament. Let us therefore take another sentiment, the religious, the vast power and wide prevalence of which no one will deny.


To a modern Christian, God is a deity who is all-wise, all-powerful, infinite, holy, the personification of all the highest virtues. To accuse this Deity of the slightest moral flaw would be blasphemy. Now, without going so far down as the lowest savages, let us see what conception such barbarians as the Polynesians have of their gods. The moral habits of some of them are indicated by their names—"The Rioter," "The Adulterer," "Ndauthina," who steals women of rank or beauty by night or by torchlight, "The Human-brain Eater," "The Murderer." Others of their gods are "proud, envious, covetous, revengeful, and the subject of every basest passion. They are demoralized heathen—monster expressions of moral corruption" (Williams, 184). These gods make war, and kill and eat each other just as mortals do. The Polynesians believed, too, that "the spirits of the dead are eaten by the gods or demons" (Ellis, P.R., I., 275). It might be said that since a Polynesian sees no crime in adultery, revenge, murder, or cannibalism, his attributing such qualities to his gods cannot, from his point of view, be considered blasphemous. Quite true; but my point is that men who have made so little progress in sympathy and moral perception as to see no harm in adultery, revenge, murder and cannibalism, and in attributing them to their gods, are altogether too coarse and callous to be able to experience the higher religious emotions. This inference is borne out by what a most careful observer (Ellis, P.R., I., 291) says:

"Instead of exercising those affections of gratitude, complacency, and love toward the objects of their worship which the living God supremely requires, they regarded their deities with horrific dread, and worshipped only with enslaving fear."

This "enslaving fear" is the principal ingredient of primitive religious emotion everywhere. To the savage and barbarian, religion is not a consolation and a blessing, but a terror. Du Chaillu says of the equatorial Africans (103) that "their whole lives are saddened by the fears of evil spirits, witchcraft, and other kindred superstitions under which they labor." Benevolent deities, even if believed in, receive little or no attention, because, being good, they are supposed to do no harm anyway, whereas the malevolent gods must be propitiated by sacrifices. The African Dahomans, for instance, ignore their Mahu because his intentions are naturally friendly, whereas their Satan, the wicked Legba, has hundreds of statues before which offerings are made. "Early religions," as Mr. Andrew Lang tersely puts it, "are selfish, not disinterested. The worshipper is not contemplative, so much as eager to gain something to his advantage." If the gods fail to respond to the offerings made to them, the sacrificers naturally feel aggrieved, and show their displeasure in a way which to a person who knows refined religion seems shocking and sacrilegious. In Japan, China, and Corea, if the gods fail to do what is expected of them, their images are unceremoniously walloped. In India, if the rains fail, thousands of priests send up their prayers. If the drought still continues, they punish their idols by holding them under water. During a thunderstorm in Africa, Chapman (I., 45) witnessed the following extraordinary scene:

"A great number of women, employed in reaping the extensive corn-fields through which we passed were raising their hoes and voices to heaven, and, yelling furiously, cursed 'Morimo' (God), as the terrific thunder-claps succeeded each vivid flash of lightning. On inquiry I was informed by 'Old Booy' that they were indignant at the interruption of their labors, and that they therefore cursed and menaced the cause. Such blasphemy was awful, even among heathens, and I fully expected to see the wrath of God fall upon them."

If any pious reader of such details—which might he multiplied a thousand-fold—still believes that religious emotion (like love!) is the same everywhere, let him compare his own devoted feelings during worship in a Christian church with the emotions which must sway those who participate in a religious ceremony like that described in the following passage taken from Rowney's Wild Tribes of India (105). It refers to the sacrifices made by the Khonds to the God of War, the victims of which, both male and female, are often bought young and brought up for this special purpose:

"For a month prior to the sacrifice there was much feasting and intoxication, with dancing round the Meriah, or victim … and on the day before the rite he was stupefied with toddy and bound at the bottom of a post. The assembled multitude then danced around the post to music, singing hymns of invocation to some such effect as follows: 'O God, we offer a sacrifice to you! Give us good crops in return, good seasons, and health.' On the next day the victim was again intoxicated, and anointed with oil, which was wiped from his body by those present, and put on their heads as a blessing. The victim was then carried, in procession round the village, preceded by music, and on returning to the post a hog was sacrificed to … the village deity … the blood from the carcass being allowed to flow into a pit prepared to receive it. The victim, made senseless by intoxication, was now thrown into the pit, and his face pressed down till he died from suffocation in the blood and mire, a deafening noise with instruments being kept up all the time. The priest then cut a piece of flesh from the body and buried it with ceremony near the village idol, all the rest of the people going through the same form after him."

Still more horrible details of these sacrifices are supplied by Dalton (288):

"Major Macpherson notes that the Meriah in some districts is put to death slowly by fire, the great object being to draw from the victim as many tears as possible, in the belief that the cruel Tari will proportionately increase the supply of rain."

"Colonel Campbell thus describes the modus operandi in Chinna Kimedy: 'The miserable Meriah is dragged along the fields, surrounded by a crowd of half-intoxicated Kandhs, who, shouting and screaming, rush upon him, and with their knives cut the flesh piece-meal from his bones, avoiding the head and bowels, till the living skeleton, dying from loss of blood, is relieved from torture, when its remains are burnt and the ashes mixed with the new grain to preserve it from insects.'"

In some respect, the civilized Hindoos are even worse than the wild tribes of India. Nothing is more sternly condemned and utterly abhorred by modern religion than licentiousness and obscenity, but a well-informed and eminently trustworthy missionary, the Abbé Dubois, declares that sensuality and licentiousness are among the elements of Hindoo religious life:

"Whatever their religion sets before them, tends to encourage these vices; and, consequently, all their senses, passions, and interests are leagued in its favor" (II., 113, etc.).

Their religious festivals "are nothing but sports; and on no occasion of life are modesty and decorum more carefully excluded than during the celebration of their religious mysteries."

More immoral even than their own religious practices are the doings of their deities. The Bhagavata is a book which deals with the adventures of the god Krishna, of whom Dubois says (II., 205):

"It was his chief pleasure to go every morning to the place where the women bathe, and, in concealment, to take advantage of their unguarded exposure. Then he rushed amongst them, took possession of their clothes, and gave a loose to the indecencies of language and of gesture. He maintained sixteen wives, who had the title of queens, and sixteen thousand concubines…. In obscenity there is nothing that can be compared with the Bhagavata. It is, nevertheless, the delight of the Hindu, and the first book they put into the hands of their children, when learning to read."

Brahmin temples are little more than brothels, in each of which a dozen or more young Bayadères are kept for the purpose of increasing the revenues of the gods and their priests. Religious prostitution and theological licentiousness prevailed also in Persia, Babylonia, Egypt, and other ancient civilized countries. Commenting on a series of obscene pictures found in an Egyptian tomb, Erman says (154): "We are shocked at the morality of a nation which could supply the deceased with such literature for the eternal journey." Professor Robertson Smith says that "in Arabia and elsewhere unrestricted prostitution was practised at the temples and defended on the analogy of the license allowed to herself by the unmarried mother goddess." Nor were the early Greeks much better. Some of their religious festivals were sensual orgies, some of their gods nearly as licentious as those of the Hindoos. Their supreme god, Zeus, is an Olympian Don Juan, and the legend of the birth of Aphrodite, their goddess of love, is in its original form unutterably obscene.

Before religious emotion could make any approximation to the devout feelings of a modern Christian, it was necessary to eliminate all these licentious, cruel, and blasphemous features of worship—the eating or slaughtering of human victims, the obscene orgies, as well as the spiteful and revengeful acts toward disobedient gods. The progress—like the Evolution of Romantic Love—has been from the sensual and selfish to the supersensual and unselfish. In the highest religious ideal, love of God takes the place of fear, adoration that of terror, self-sacrifice that of self-seeking. But we are still very far from that lofty ideal.

"The lazzarone of Naples prays to his patron saint to favor his choice of a lottery ticket; if it turns out an unlucky number he will take the little leaden image of the saint from his pocket, revile it, spit on it, and trample it in the mud."

"The Swiss clergy opposed the system of insuring growing crops because it made their parishioners indifferent to prayers for their crops" (Brinton, R.S., 126, 82). These are extreme cases, but Italian lazzaroni and Swiss peasants are by no means the only church-goers whose worship is inspired not by love of God but by the expectation of securing a personal benefit. All those who pray for worldly prosperity, or do good deeds for the sake of securing a happy hereafter for their souls, take a selfish, utilitarian view of the deity, and even their gratitude for favors received is too apt to be "a lively sense of possible favors to come." Still, there are now not a few devotees who love God for his own sake; and who pray not for luxuries but that their souls may be fortified in virtue and their sympathies widened. But it is not necessary to dwell on this theme any longer, now that I have shown what I started out to demonstrate, that religious emotion is very complex and variable, that in its early stages it is made up of feelings which are not loving, reverential, or even respectful, but cruel, sacrilegious, criminal, and licentious; that religion, in a word, has (like love, as I am trying to prove) passed through coarse, carnal, degrading, selfish, utilitarian stages before it reached the comparatively refined, spiritual, sympathetic, and devotional attitude of our time.

Besides the growing complexity of the religious sentiment and its gradual ennoblement, there are two points I wish to emphasize. One is that there are among us to-day thousands of intelligent and refined agnostics who are utter strangers to all religious emotions, just as there are thousands of men and women who have never known and never will know the emotions of sentimental love. Why, then, should it seem so very unlikely that whole nations were strangers to such love (as they were strangers to the higher religious sentiment), even though they were as intelligent as the Greeks and Romans? I offer this consideration not as a conclusive argument, but merely as a means of overcoming a preconceived bias against my theory.

The other point I wish to make clear is that our emotions change with our ideas. Obviously it would be absurd to suppose that a man whose ideas in regard to the nature of his gods do not prevent him from flogging them angrily in case they refuse his requests are the same as those of a pious Christian, who, if his prayers are not answered, says to his revered Creator: "Thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven," and humbly prostrates himself. And if emotions in the religious sphere are thus metamorphosed with ideas, why is it so unlikely that the sexual passion, too, should "suffer a sea change into something rich and strange?"

The existence of the wide-spread prejudice against the notion that love is subject to the laws of development, is owing to the fact that the comparative psychology of the emotions and sentiments has been strangely neglected. Anthropology, the Klondike of the comparative psychologist, reveals things seemingly much more incredible than the absence of romantic love among barbarians and partly civilized nations who had not yet discovered the nobler super-sensual fascinations which women are capable of exerting. The nuggets of truth found in that science show that every virtue known to man grew up slowly into its present exalted form. I will illustrate this assertion with reference to one general feeling, the horror of murder, and then add a few pages regarding virtues relating to the sexual sphere and directly connected with the subject of this book.


The committing of wilful murder is looked on with unutterable horror in modern civilized communities, yet it took eons of time and the co-operation of many religious, social, and moral agencies before the idea of the sanctity of human life became what it is now when it might be taken for an instinct inherent in human nature itself. How far it is from being such an instinct we shall see by looking at the facts. Among the lowest races and even some of the higher barbarians, murder, far from being regarded as a crime, is honored as a virtue and a source of glory.

An American Indian's chief pride and claim to tribal honor lies in the number of scalps he has torn from the heads of men he has killed. Of the Fijian, Williams says (97):

"Shedding of blood is to him no crime, but a glory. Whoever may be the victim—whether noble or vulgar, old or young, man, woman, or child—whether slain in war or butchered by treachery, to be somehow an acknowledged murderer, is the object of a Fijian's restless ambition."

The Australian feels the same irresistible impulse to kill every stranger he comes across as many of our comparatively civilized gentlemen feel toward every bird or wild animal they see. Lumholtz, while he lived among these savages, took good care to follow the advice "never have a black fellow behind you;" and he relates a story of a squatter who was walking in the bush with his black boy hunting brush monkeys, when the boy touched him on the shoulder from behind and said, "Let me go ahead." When the squatter asked why he wished to go before him, the native answered, "Because I feel such an inclination to kill you."

Dalton (266) says of the Oraons in India: "It is doubtful if they see any moral guilt in murder." But the most astounding race of professional murderers are the Dyaks of Borneo. "Among them," says Earl, "the more heads a man has cut off, the more he is respected." "The white man reads," said a Dyak to St. John: "we hunt heads instead." "Our Dyaks," says Charles Brooke, "were eternally requesting to be allowed to go for heads, and their urgent entreaties often bore resemblance to children crying after sugar-plums." "An old Dyak," writes Dalton, "loves to dwell upon his success on these hunting excursions, and the terror of the women and children taken affords a fruitful theme of amusement at their meetings." Dalton speaks of one expedition from which seven hundred heads were brought home. The young women were carried off, the old ones killed and all the men's heads were cut off. Not that the women always escaped. Among the Dusun, as a rule, says Preyer,

"the heads were obtained in the most cowardly way possible, a woman's or child's being just as good as a man's … so, as easier prey, the cowards seek them by lying in ambush near the plantations."

Families are sometimes surprised while asleep and their heads cut off. Brooke tells of a man who for awhile kept company with a countrywoman, and then slew her and ran off with her head. "It ought to be called head-stealing not head-hunting," says Hatton; and Earl remarks:

"The possession of a human head cannot be considered as a proof of the bravery of the owner for it is not necessary that he should have killed the victim with his own hands, his friends being permitted to assist him or even to perform the act themselves."

It is to be noted that the Dyaks[7] are not in other respects a fierce and diabolical race, but are at home, as Doty attests, "mild, gentle, and given to hospitality." I call special attention to this by way of indirectly answering an objection frequently urged against my theory: "How is it possible to suppose that a nation so highly civilized as the Greeks of Plato's time should have known love for women only in its lower, carnal phases?" Well, we have here a parallel case. The Dyaks are "mild, gentle, and hospitable," yet their chief delight and glory is murder! And as one of the main objects of this book is to dwell on the various obstacles which impeded the growth of romantic love, it will be interesting to glance for a moment at the causes which prevented the Dyaks from recognizing the sanctity of life. Superstition is one of them; they believe that persons killed by them will be their slaves in the next world. Pride is another. "How many heads did your father get?" a Dyak will ask; and if the number given is less than his own, the other will say, "Well, then you have no occasion to be proud." A man's rank in this world as in the next depends on the number of his skulls; hence the owner of a large number may be distinguished by his proud bearing. But the head hunter's strangest and strongest motive is the desire to please women! No Dyak maiden would condescend to marry a youth who has never killed a man, and in times when the chances for murder were few and far between, suitors have been compelled to wait a year or two before they could bag a skull and lead home their blushing bride. The weird details of this mode of courtship will be given in the chapter on Island Love on the Pacific.


In all these cases we are shocked at the utter absence of the sentiment relating to the sanctity of human life. But our horror at this fiendish indifference to murder is doubled when we find that the victims are not strangers but members of the same family. I must defer to the chapter on Sympathy a brief reference to the savage custom of slaughtering sick relatives and aged parents; here I will confine myself to a few words regarding the maternal sentiment. The love of a mother for her offspring is by many philosophers considered the earliest and strongest of all sympathetic feelings; a feeling stronger than death. If we can find a wide-spread failure of this powerful instinct, we shall have one more reason for not assuming as a matter of course, that the sentiment of love must have been always present.

In Australian families it has been the universal custom to bring up only a few children in each family—usually two boys and a girl—the others being destroyed by their own parents, with no more compunction than we show in drowning superfluous puppies or kittens. The Kurnai tribe did not kill new-born infants, but simply left them behind. "The aboriginal mind does not seem to perceive the horrid idea of leaving an unfortunate baby to die miserably in a deserted camp" (Fison and Howitt, 14). The Indians of both North and South America were addicted to the practice of infanticide. Among the Arabs the custom was so inveterate that as late as our sixth century, Mohammed felt called upon, in various parts of the Koran, to discountenance it. In the words of Professor Robertson Smith (281):

"Mohammed, when he took Mecca and received the homage of the women in the most advanced centre of Arabian civilization, still deemed it necessary formally to demand from them a promise not to commit child-murder."

Among the wild tribes of India there are some who cling to their custom of infanticide with the tenacity of fanatics. Dalton (288-90) relates that with the Kandhs this custom was so wide-spread that in 1842 Major Macpherson reported that in many villages not a single female child could be found. The British Government rescued a number of girls and brought them up, giving them an education. Some of these were afterward given in marriage to respectable Kandh bachelors,

"and it was expected that they at least would not outrage their own feeling as mothers by consenting to the destruction of their offspring. Subsequently, however, Colonel Campbell ascertained that these ladies had no female children, and, on being closely questioned, they admitted that at their husbands' bidding they had destroyed them."

In the South Sea Islands "not less than two-thirds of the children were murdered by their own parents." Ellis (P.R., I., 196-202) knew parents who had, by their own confession, killed four, six, eight, even ten of their children, and the only reason they gave was that it was the custom of the country.

"No sense of irresolution or horror appeared to exist in the bosoms of those parents, who deliberately resolved on the deed before the child was born." "The murderous parents often came to their (the missionaries') houses almost before their hands were cleansed from their children's blood, and spoke of the deed with worse than brutal insensibility, or with vaunting satisfaction at the triumph of their customs over the persuasions of their teachers."

They refused to spare babies even when the missionaries offered to take care of them (II., 23). Neither Ellis, during a residence of eight years, nor Nott during thirty years' residence on the South Sea Islands, had known a single mother who was not guilty of this crime of infanticide. Three native women who happened to be together in a room one day confessed that between them they had killed twenty-one infants—nine, seven, and five respectively.

These facts have long been familiar to students of anthropology, but their true significance has been obscured by the additional information that many tribes addicted to infanticide, nevertheless displayed a good deal of "affection" toward those whom they spared. A closer examination of the testimony reveals, however, that there is no true affection in these cases, but merely a shallow fondness for the little ones, chiefly for the sake of the selfish gratification it affords the parents to watch their gambols and to give vent to inherited animal instincts. True affection is revealed only in self-sacrifice; but the disposition to sacrifice themselves for their children is the one quality most lacking in these child-murderers. Sentimentalists, with their usual lack of insight and logical sense, have endeavored to excuse these assassins on the ground that necessity compelled them to destroy their infants. Their arguments have misled even so eminent a specialist as Professor E.B. Tylor into declaring (Anthropology, 427) that "infanticide comes from hardness of life rather than from hardness of heart." What he means, may be made clear by reference to the case of the Arabs who, living in a desert country, were in constant dread of suffering from scarcity of food; wherefore, as Robertson Smith remarks (281), "to bury a daughter was regarded not only as a virtuous but as a generous deed, which is intelligible if the reason was that there would be fewer mouths to fill in the tribe." This explains the murders in question but does not show them to be excusable; it explains them as being due to the vicious selfishness and hard-heartedness of parents who would rather kill their infants than restrain their sexual appetite when they had all the children they could provide for.

In most cases the assassins of their own children had not even as much semblance of an excuse as the Arabs. Turner relates (284) that in the New Hebrides the women had to do all the work, and as it was supposed that they could not attend to more than two or three, all the others were buried alive; in other words the babes were murdered to save trouble and allow the men to live in indolence. In the instances from India referred to above, various trivial excuses for female infanticide were offered: that it would save the expenses connected with the marriage rites; that it was cheaper to buy girls than to bring them up, or, better still, to steal them from other tribes; that male births are increased by the destruction of female infants; and that it is better to destroy girls in their infancy than to allow them to grow up and become causes of strife afterward. Among the Fijians, says Williams (154, 155), there is in infanticide "no admixture of anything like religious feeling or fear, but merely whim, expediency, anger, or indolence." Sometimes the general idea of woman's inferiority to man underlies the act. They will say to the pleading missionary: "Why should she live? Will she wield a club? Will she poise a spear?"

But it was among the women of Hawaii that the motives of infanticide reached their climax of frivolity. There mothers killed their children because they were too lazy to bring them up and cook for them; or because they wished to preserve their own beauty, or were unwilling to suffer an interruption in their licentious amours; or because they liked to roam about unburdened by babes; and sometimes for no other reason than because they could not make them stop crying. So they buried them alive though they might be months or even years old (Ellis, P.R., IV., 240).

These revelations show that it is not "hardness of life" but "hardness of heart"—sensual, selfish indulgence—that smothers the parental instinct. To say that the conduct of such parents is brutal, would be a great injustice to brutes. No species of animals, however low in the scale of life, has ever been known to habitually kill its offspring. In their treatment of females and young ones, animals are indeed, as a rule, far superior to savages and barbarians. I emphasize this point because several of my critics have accused me of a lack of knowledge and thought and logic because I attributed some of the elements of romantic love to animals and denied them to primitive human beings. But there is no inconsistency in this. We shall see later on that there are other things in which animals are superior not only to savages but to some civilized peoples as high in the scale as Hindoos.


Turning now from the parental to the conjugal sphere we shall find further interesting instances showing How Sentiments Change and Grow. The monogamous sentiment—the feeling that a man and his wife belong to each other exclusively—is now so strong that a person who commits bigamy not only perpetrates a crime for which the courts may imprison him for five years, but becomes a social outcast with whom respectable people will have nothing more to do. The Mormons endeavored to make polygamy a feature of their religion, but in 1882 Congress passed a law suppressing it and punishing offenders. Did this monogamous sentiment exist "always and everywhere?"

Livingstone relates (M.S.A., I., 306-312) that the King of the Beetjuans (South Africa) was surprised to hear that his visitor had only one wife:

"When we explained to him that, by the laws of our country, people could not marry until they were of a mature age, and then could never have more than one wife, he said it was perfectly incomprehensible to him how a whole nation could submit voluntarily to such laws."

He himself had five wives and one of these queens

"remarked very judiciously that such laws as ours would not suit the Beetjuans because there were so great a number of women and the male population suffered such diminutions from the wars."

Sir Samuel Baker (A.N., 147) says of the wife of the Chief of

"She asked many questions, how many wives I had? and was astonished to hear that I was contented with one. This amused her immensely, and she laughed heartily with her daughter at the idea."

In Equatorial Africa, "if a man marries and his wife thinks that he can afford another spouse, she pesters him to marry again, and calls him a stingy fellow if he declines to do so" (Reade, 259). Livingstone (N.E.Z., 284) says of the Makalolo women:

"On hearing that a man in England could marry but one wife, several ladies exclaimed that they would not like to live in such a country; that they could not imagine how English ladies could relish such a custom, for, in their way of thinking, every man of respectability should have a number of wives, as a proof of his wealth. Similar ideas prevail all down the Zambesi."

Some amusing instances are reported by Burton (T.T.G.L., I., 36, 78, 79). The lord of an African village appeared to be much ashamed because he had only two wives. His sole excuse was that he was only a boy—about twenty-two. Regarding the Mpongwe of the Gaboon, Burton says: "Polygamy is, of course, the order of the day; it is a necessity to the men, and even the women disdain to marry a 'one-wifer.'" In his book on the Kafirs of the Hindu-Kush, G.S. Robertson writes:

"It is considered a reproach to have only one wife, a sign of poverty and insignificance. There was on one occasion a heated discussion at Kamdesh concerning the best plans to be adopted to prepare for an expected attack. A man sitting on the outskirts of the assembly controverted something the priest said. Later on the priest turned round fiercely and demanded to be told how a man with 'only one wife' presumed to offer an opinion at all."

His religion allowed a Mohammedan to take four legitimate wives, while their prophet himself had a larger number. A Hindoo was permitted by the laws of Manu to marry four women if he belonged to the highest caste, but if he was of the lowest caste he was condemned to monogamy.

King Solomon was held in honor though he had unnumbered wives, concubines, and virgins at his disposal.

How far the sentiment of monogamy—one of the essential ingredients of Romantic Love—had penetrated the skulls of American Indians may be inferred from the amusing and typical details related by the historian Parkman (O.T., chap. xi.) of the Dakota or Sioux Indians, among whom he sojourned. The man most likely to become the next chief was a fellow named Mahto-Tatonka, whose father had left a family of thirty, which number the young man was evidently anxious to beat:

"Though he appeared not more than twenty-one years old, he had oftener struck the enemy, and stolen more horses and more squaws than any young man in the village. We of the civilized world are not apt to attach much credit to the latter species of exploits; but horse-stealing is well-known as an avenue to distinction on the prairies, and the other kind of depredation is esteemed equally meritorious. Not that the act can confer fame from its own intrinsic merits. Any one can steal a squaw, and if he chooses afterward to make an adequate present to her rightful proprietor, the easy husband for the most part rests content; his vengeance falls asleep, and all danger from that quarter is averted. Yet this is esteemed but a pitiful and mean-spirited transaction. The danger is averted, but the glory of the achievement also is lost. Mahto-Tatonka proceeded after a more gallant and dashing fashion. Out of several dozen squaws whom he had stolen, he could boast that he had never paid for one, but snapping his fingers in the face of the injured husband, had defied the extremity of his indignation, and no one had yet dared to lay the hand of violence upon him. He was following close in the footsteps of his father. The young men and the young squaws, each in their way, admired him. The one would always follow him to war, and he was esteemed to have an unrivalled charm in the eyes of the other."

Thus the admiration of the men, the love (Indian style) of the women, and the certainty of the chieftainship—the highest honor accessible to an Indian—were the rewards of actions which in a civilized community would soon bring such a "brave" to the gallows. Some of the agencies by which the belief that wife-stealing and polygamy are honorable was displaced by the modern sentiment in favor of monogamy, will be considered later on. Here I simply wish to enforce the additional moral that not only the ideas regarding bigamy and polygamy have changed, but the emotions aroused by such actions; execration having taken the place of admiration. Judging by such cases, is it likely that ideas concerning women and love could change so utterly as they have since the days of the ancient Greeks, without changing the emotions of love itself? Sentiments consist of ideas and emotions. If both are altered, the sentiments must have changed as a matter of course. Let us take as a further example the sentiment of modesty.


There are many Christian women who, if offered the choice between death and walking naked down the street, would choose death as being preferable to eternal disgrace and social suicide. If they preferred the other alternative, they would be arrested and, if known to be respectable, sent to an insane asylum. The English legend relates that "peeping Tom" was struck blind because he did not stay in the house as commanded when the good Lady Godiva was obliged to ride naked through the market-place. So strong, indeed, is the sentiment of modesty in our community that the old-fashioned philosophers used to maintain it was an innate instinct, always present under normal conditions. The fact that every child has to be gradually taught to avoid indecent exposure, ought to have enlightened these philosophers as to their error, which is further made plain to the orthodox by the Biblical story that in the beginning of human life the man and his wife were both naked and not ashamed.

Naked and not ashamed is the condition of primitive man wherever climatic and other motives do not prescribe dress. Writing of the Arabs at Wat El Negur, Samuel Baker says (N.T.A., 265):

"Numbers of young girls and women were accustomed to bathe perfectly naked in the river just before our tent. I employed them to catch small fish for bait; and for hours they would amuse themselves in this way, screaming with excitement and fun, and chasing the small fry with their long clothes in lieu of nets; their figures were generally well-shaped…. The men were constantly bathing in the clear waters of the Athabara, and were perfectly naked, although close to the women; we soon became accustomed to this daily scene, as we do at Brighton and other English bathing towns."

In his work on German Africa (II., 123) Zöller says that in Togoland

"the young girls did not hesitate in the least to remove their only article of clothing, a narrow strip of cloth, rub themselves with a native soap and then take a dip in the lagoon, before the eyes of white men as well as black."

A page would be required merely to enumerate the tribes in Africa,
Australia, and South America which never wear any clothing.

Max Buchner (352-4) gives a graphic description (1878) of the nude female surf swimmers in the Hawaiian Islands. Nor is this indifference to nudity manifested only by these primitive races. In Japan, to the present day, men and women bathe in the same room, separated merely by a partition, two or three feet high.[8] Zöller relates of the Cholos of Ecuador (P. and A., 364) that "men and women bathe together in the rivers with a naïveté surpassing that of the South Sea Islanders." A writer in the Ausland (1870, p. 294) reports that in Paraguay he saw the women washing their only dress, and while they waited for the sun to dry it, they stood by naked calmly smoking their cigars.

But natural indifference to nudity is the least of the curiosities of modesty. Sometimes nakedness is actually prescribed by law or by strict etiquette. In Rohl all women who are not Arabic are forbidden to wear clothing of any sort. The King of Mandingo allowed no women, not even princesses, to approach him unless they were naked (Hellwald, 77-8). Dubois (I., 265) says that in some of the southern provinces of India the women of certain castes must uncover their body from the head to the girdle when speaking to a man: "It would be thought a want of politeness and good breeding to speak to men with that part of the body clothed."

In his travels among the Cameroon negroes Zöller (II., 185) came across a strange bit of religious etiquette in regard to nudity. The women there wear nothing but a loin cloth, except in case of a death, when, like ourselves, they appear all in black—with a startling difference, however. One day, writes Zöller,

"I was astounded to see a number of women and girls strolling about stark naked before the house of a man who had died of diphtheria. This, I was told, was their mourning dress…. The same custom prevails in other parts of West Africa."

Modesty is as fickle as fashion and assumes almost as many different forms as dress itself. In most Australian tribes the women (as well as the men) go naked, yet in a few they not only wear clothes but go out of sight to bathe. Stranger still, the Pele islanders were so innocent of all idea of clothing that when they first saw Europeans they believed that their clothes were their skins. Nevertheless, the men and women bathed in different places. Among South American Indians nudity is the rule, whereas some North American Indians used to place guards near the swimming-places of the women, to protect them from spying eyes.

According to Gill (230), the Papuans of Southwestern New Guinea "glory in their nudeness and consider clothing fit only for women." There are many places where the women alone were clothed, while in others the women alone were naked. Mtesa, the King of Uganda, who died in 1884, inflicted the death penalty on any man who dared to approach him without having every inch of his legs carefully covered; but the women who acted as his servants were stark naked (Hellwald, 78).

While the etiquette of modesty is thus subject to an endless variety of details, every nation and tribe enforces its own ideal of propriety as the only correct thing. In Tahiti and Tonga it would be considered highly indecent to go about without being tattooed. Among Samoans and other Malayans the claims of propriety are satisfied if only the navel is covered. "The savage tribes of Sumatra and Celebes have a like feeling about the knee, which is always carefully covered" (Westermarck, 207). In China it is considered extremely indecent if a woman allows her bare feet to be seen, even by her husband, and a similar idea prevails among some Turkish women, who carefully wrap up their feet before they go to bed (Ploss, I., 344). Hindoo women must not show their faces, but it is not improper to wear a dress so gauzy that the whole figure is revealed through it. "In Moruland," says Emin Bey,

"the women mostly go about absolutely naked, a few only attaching a leaf behind to their waistband. It is curious to note, on meeting a bevy of these uncovered beauties carrying water, that the first thing they do with their free hand is to cover the face."

These customs prevail in all Moslem countries. Mariti relates in his Viaggi (II., 288):

"Travelling in summer across the fields of Syria I repeatedly came across groups of women, entirely naked, washing themselves near a well. They did not move from the place, but simply covered the face with one hand, their whole modesty consisting in the desire not to be recognized."

Sentimental topsy-turviness reaches its climax in those cases where women who usually go naked are ashamed to be seen clothed. Such cases are cited by several writers,[9] and appear to be quite common. The most amusing instance I have come across is in a little-known volume on Venezuela by Lavayasse, who writes (190):

"It is known that those [Indians] of the warm climates of South America, among whom civilization has not made any progress, have no other dress than a small apron, or kind of bandage, to hide their nakedness. A lady of my acquaintance had contracted a kindness for a young Paria Indian woman, who was extremely handsome. We had given her the name of Grace. She was sixteen years old, and had lately been married to a young Indian of twenty-five, who was our sportsman. This lady took a pleasure in teaching her to sew and embroider. We said to her one day, 'Grace, you are extremely pretty, speak French well, and are always with us: you ought not therefore to live like the other native women, and we shall give you some clothes. Does not your husband wear trousers and a shirt?' Upon this she consented to be dressed. The lady lost no time in arranging her dress, a ceremony at which I had the honor of assisting. We put on a shift, petticoats, stockings, shoes, and a Madras handkerchief on her head. She looked quite enchanting, and saw herself in the looking-glass with great complacency. Suddenly her husband returned from shooting, with three or four Indians, when the whole party burst into a loud fit of laughter at her, and began to joke about her new habiliments. Grace was quite abashed, blushed, wept, and ran to hide herself in the bed-chamber of the lady, where she stript herself of the clothes, went out of the window, and returned naked into the room. A proof that when her husband saw her dressed for the first time, she felt a sensation somewhat similar to that which a European woman might experience who was surprised without her usual drapery."

Another paradox remains to be noted. Anthropologists have now proved beyond all possibility of doubt that modesty, far from having led to the use of clothing, was itself merely a secondary consequence of the gradual adoption of apparel as a protection. They have also shown[10] that the earliest forms of dress were extremely scanty, and were intended not to cover certain parts of the body, but actually and wantonly to call attention to them, while in other cases the only parts of the body habitually covered were such as we should consider it no special impropriety to leave uncovered. But enough has been said to demonstrate what we started out to prove: that the strong sentiment of modesty in our community—so strong that many insist it must be part and parcel of human nature (like love!)—has, like all the other sentiments here discussed, grown up slowly from microscopic beginnings.


Closely connected with modesty, and yet entirely distinct from it, is another and still stronger sentiment—the regard for chastity. Many an American officer whose brave wife accompanied him in a frontier war has been asked by her to promise that he would shoot her with his own revolver rather than let her fall into the clutches of licentious Indians. Though deliberate murder is punishable by death, no American jury has ever convicted a man for slaying the seducer of his wife, daughter, or sister. Modern law punishes rape with death, and its victim is held to have suffered a fate worse than death. The brightest of all jewels in a bride's crown of virtues is chastity—a jewel without which all the others lose their value. Yet this jewel of jewels formerly had no more value than a pebble in a brook-bed. The sentiment in behalf of chastity had no existence for ages, and for a long time after it came into existence chastity was known not as a virtue but only as a necessity, inculcated by fear of punishment or loss of worldly advantages.

In support of this statement a whole volume might be written; but as abundant evidence will be given in later chapters relating to the lower races in Africa, Australia, Polynesia, America, and Asia, only a few instances need be cited here. In his recent work on the Origin and Growth of the Moral Sense (1898), Alexander Sutherland, an Australian author, writes (I., 180):

"In the House of Commons papers for 1844 will be found some 350 printed pages of reports, memoranda, and letters, gathered by the standing committee appointed in regard to the treatment of aboriginals in the Australian colonies. All these have the same unlovely tale to tell of an absolute incapacity to form even a rudimentary notion of chastity. One worthy missionary, who had been for some years settled among tribes of New South Wales, as yet brought in contact with no other white men, writes with horror of what he had observed. The conduct of the females, even young children, is most painful; they are cradled in prostitution and fostered in licentiousness. Brough Smith (II., 240) quotes several authorities who record that in Western Australia the women in early youth were almost prostitutes. 'For about six months after their initiation into manhood the youths were allowed an unbounded licence, and there was no possible blame attached to the young unmarried girl who entertained them'" (179).

In Lewis and Clark's account of their expedition across the American Continent they came to the conclusion that there was an utter absence of regard for chastity "among all Indians," and they relate the following as a sample (439):

"Among all the tribes, a man will lend his wife or daughter for a fish-hook or a strand of beads. To decline an offer of this sort is indeed to disparage the charms of the lady, and therefore gives such offence, that, although we had occasionally to treat the Indians with rigor, nothing seemed to irritate both sexes more than our refusal to accept the favors of the females. On one occasion we were amused by a Clatsop, who, having been cured of some disorder by our medical skill, brought his sister as a reward for our kindness. The young lady was quite anxious to join in this expression of her brother's gratitude, and mortified we did not avail ourselves of it."

De Varigny, who lived forty years in the Hawaiian Islands, says (159) that

"the chief difficulty of the missionaries in the Sandwich Islands was teaching the women chastity; they knew neither the word nor the thing. Adultery, incest, fornication, were the common order of things, accepted by public opinion, and even consecrated by religion."

The same is true of other Polynesians, the Tahitians, for instance, of whom Captain Cook wrote that they are

"people who have not even the idea of decency, and who gratify every appetite and passion before witnesses, with no more sense of impropriety than we feel when we satisfy our hunger at a social board with our friends."

Among the highest of all these island peoples, the Tongans, the only restriction to incontinence was that the lover must not be changed too often.

What Dalton says of the Chilikata Mishmis, one of the wild tribes of
India, applies to many of the lower races in all parts of the world:

"Marriage ceremony there is, I believe, none; it is simply an affair of purchase, and the women thus obtained, if they can be called wives, are not much bound by the tie. The husbands do not expect them to be chaste; they take no cognizance of their temporary liaisons so long as they are not deprived of their services. If a man is dispossessed of one of his wives, he has a private injury to avenge, and takes the earliest opportunity of retaliating, but he cannot see that a woman is a bit the worse for a little incontinency."

In many cases not only was there complete indifference to chastity, but virginity in a bride was actually looked on with disfavor. The Finnish Votyaks considered it honorable in a girl to be a mother before she was a wife. The Central American Chibchas were like the Philippine Bisayos, of whom a sixteenth century writer, quoted by Jagor, said that a man is unhappy to find his bride above suspicion, "because, not having been desired by anyone, she must have some bad quality which will prevent him from being happy with her."

The wide prevalence in all parts of the world of the custom of lending or exchanging wives, or offering wife or daughter to a guest,[11] also bears witness to the utter indifference to chastity, conjugal and maiden; as does the custom known as the jus primae noctis. Dr. Karl Schmidt has tried very hard to prove that such a "right" to the bride never existed. But no one can read his treatises without noting that his argument rests on a mere quibble, the word jus. There may have been no codified law or "right" allowing kings, bishops, chiefs, landlords, medicine men, and priests to claim brides first, but that the privilege existed in various countries and was extensively made use of, there can be no doubt. Westermarck (73-80), Letourneau (56-62), Ploss (I., 400-405), and others have collected abundant proofs. Here I have room for only a few instances, showing that those whom we would consider the victims of such a horrible custom, not only submitted to it with resignation, but actually looked on it as an honor and a highly coveted privilege.

"The aboriginal inhabitants of Teneriffe are represented as having married no woman who had not previously spent a night with the chief, which was considered a great honor."

"Navarette tells us that, on the coast of Malabar, the bridegroom brought the bride to the King, who kept her eight days in the palace; and the man took it 'as a great honor and favor that the King should make use of her.'"

"Egede informs us that the women of Greenland thought themselves fortunate if an Angekokk, or prophet, honored them with his caresses; and some husbands even paid him, because they believed that the child of such a holy man could not but be happier and better than others." (Westermarck, 77, 80.)

"In Cumana the priests, who were regarded as holy, slept only with unmarried women, 'porque tenian por honorosa costumbre que ellos las quitassen la virginidad.'" (Bastian, K.A.A., II., 228.)

From this lowest depth of depravity it would be interesting, if space and the architectural plan of this volume permitted, to trace the growth of the sentiment which demands chastity; noting, in the first place, how married women were compelled, by the jealous fury of their masters, to practise continence; how, very much later, virginity began to be valued, not, indeed, at first, as a virtue having a value and charm of its own, but as a means of enhancing the market value of brides. Indifference to masculine chastity continued much longer still. The ancient civilized nations had advanced far enough to value purity in wives and maidens, but it hardly occurred to them that it was man's duty to cultivate the same virtue. Even so austere and eminent a moral philosopher as Cicero declared that one would have to be very severe indeed to ask young men to refrain from illicit relations. The mediaeval church fathers endeavored for centuries to enforce the doctrine that men should be as pure as women, with what success, every one knows. A more powerful agency in effecting a reform was the loathsome disease which in the fifteenth century began to sweep away millions of licentious men, and led to the survival of the fittest from the moral point of view. The masculine standard is still low, but immense progress has been made during the last hundred years. The number of prostitutes in Europe is still estimated at seven hundred thousand, yet that makes only seven to every thousand females, and though there are many other unchaste women, it is safe to say that in England and America, at any rate, more than nine hundred out of every thousand females are chaste, whereas among savages, as a rule, nearly all females are prostitutes (in the moral sense of the word), before they marry. In view of this astounding progress there is no reason to despair regarding man's future. It would be a great triumph of civilization if the average man could be made as pure as the average woman. At the same time, since the consequences of sin are infinitely more serious in women, it is eminently proper that they should be in the van of moral progress.

Chastity, modesty, polygamy, murder, religion, and nature have now furnished us an abundance of illustrations showing the changeableness and former non-existence of sentiments which in us are so strong that we are inclined to fancy they must have been the same always and everywhere. Before proceeding to prove that romantic love is another sentiment of which the same may be said, let us pause a moment to discuss a sentiment which presents one of the most difficult problems in the psychology of love, the Horror of Incest.


A young man does not fall in love with his sister though she be the most attractive girl he knows. Nor does her father fall in love with her, nor the mother with the son, or the son with the mother. Not only is there no sexual love between them, but the very idea of marriage fills their mind with unutterable horror, and in the occasional cases where such a marriage is made through ignorance of the relationship, both parties usually commit suicide, though they are guiltless of deliberate crime. Here we have the most striking and absolute proof that circumstances, habits, ideas, laws, customs, can and do utterly annihilate sexual love in millions of individuals. Why then should it be so unlikely that the laws and customs of the ancient Greeks, for instance, with their ideas about women and marriage, should have prevented the growth of sentimental love? Note the modesty of my claim. While it is certain that both the sensual and the sentimental sides of sexual love are stifled by the horror of incest, all that I claim in regard to ancient and primitive races is that the sentimental side of love was smothered by unfavorable circumstances and hindered in growth by various obstacles which will be described later on in this volume. Surely this is not such a reckless theory as it seemed to some of my critics.

Like the other sentiments discussed in this chapter, the horror of incest has been found to be absent among races in various stages of development. Incestuous unions occurred among Chippewas and other American Indians. Of the Peruvian Indians, Garcilasso de la Vega says that some cohabited with their sisters, daughters, or mothers; similar facts are recorded of some Brazilians, Polynesians, Africans, and wild tribes of India. "Among the Annamese, according to a missionary who has lived among them for forty years, no girl who is twelve years old and has a brother is a virgin" (Westermarck, 292). Gypsies allow a brother to marry a sister, while among the Veddahs of Ceylon the marriage of a man with his younger sister is considered the proper marriage. In the Indian Archipelago and elsewhere there are tribes who permit marriage between parents and their children. The legends of India and Hindoo theology abound in allusions to incestuous unions, and a nation's mythology reflects its own customs. According to Strabo the ancient Irish married their mothers and sisters. Among the love-stories of the ancient Greeks, as we shall see later on, there are a surprising number the subject of which is incest, indicating that that crime was of not infrequent occurrence. But it is especially by royal personages that incest has been practised. In ancient Persia, Parthia, Egypt, and other countries the kings married their own sisters, as did the Incas of Peru, for political reasons, other women being regarded as too low in rank to become queens; and the same phenomenon occurs in Hawaii, Siam, Burma, Ceylon, Madagascar, etc. In some cases incestuous unions for kings and priests are even prescribed by religion. At the licentious festivals common among tribes in America, Africa, India, and elsewhere, incest was one of the many forms of bestiality indulged in; this gives it a wide prevalence.

Much ingenuity has been expended in attempts to account for the origin of the horror of incest. The main reason why it has so far remained more or less of a mystery, is that each writer advanced a single cause, which he pressed into service to explain all the facts, the result being confusion and contradiction. In my opinion different agencies must be assumed in different cases. When we find among Australians, American Indians (and even the Chinese), customs, enforced by the strongest feelings, forbidding a man to marry a woman belonging to the same clan or having the same surname, though not at all related, while allowing a marriage with a sister or other near blood relative, we are obviously not dealing with a question of incest at all, but with some of the foolish taboos prevalent among these races, the origin of which they themselves have forgotten. Mr. Andrew Lang probably hit the nail on the head when he said (258) in regard to the rule which compels savages to marry only outside of the tribe, that these prohibitions "must have arisen in a stage of culture when ideas of kindred were confused, included kinship with animals and plants, and were to us almost, if not quite, unintelligible." To speak of instinct and natural selection teaching the Veddahs to abhor marriage with an elder sister while making union with a younger sister the proper marriage (Westermarck, 292) is surely to assume that instinct and natural selection act in an asinine way, which they never do—except in asses.

In a second class of cases, where lower races have ideas similar to ours, I believe that the origin of domestic chastity must be sought in utilitarian practices. In the earlier stages of marriage, girls are usually bought of their parents, who profit by the sale or barter. Now when a man marries a girl to be his wife and maid of all work, he does not want to take her to his home hampered by a bevy of young children. Fathers guilty of incestuous practices would therefore be unable to dispose of their daughters to advantage, and thus a prejudice in favor of domestic purity would gradually arise which a shrewd medicine man would some day raise to the rank of a religious or social taboo.

As regards modern society, Darwin, Brinton, Hellwald, Bentham, and others have advocated or endorsed the view that the reason why such a horror of incestuous unions prevails, is that novelty is the chief stimulus to the sexual feelings, and that the familiarity of the same household breeds indifference. I do not understand how any thinker can have held such a view for one moment. When Bentham wrote (Theory of Legislation, pt. iii., chap. V.) that "individuals accustomed to see each other from an age which is capable neither of conceiving desire nor of inspiring it, will see each other with the same eyes to the end of life," he showed infinitely less knowledge of human nature than the author of Paul and Virginia, who makes a boy and a girl grow up almost like brother and sister, and at the proper time fall violently in love with one another. Who cannot recall in his own experience love marriages of schoolmates or of cousins living in intimate association from their childhood? To say that such bringing up together creates "indifference" is obviously incorrect; to say that it leads to "aversion" is altogether unwarranted; and to trace to it such a feeling as our horror at the thought of marrying a sister, or mother, is simply preposterous.

The real source of the horror of incest in civilized communities was indicated more than two thousand years ago by Plato. He believed that the reason why incestuous unions were avoided and abhorred, was to be found in the constant inculcation, at home and in literature, that

"They are unholy, hated of God, and most infamous…. Everyone from his earliest childhood has heard men speaking in the same manner about them always and everywhere, whether in comedy or in the graver language of tragedy. When the poet introduces on the stage a Thyestes or an Oedipus, or a Macareus having secret intercourse with his sister, he represents him, when found out, ready to kill himself as the penalty of his sin." (Laws, VIII., 838.)

Long before Plato another great "medicine man," Moses, saw the necessity of enforcing a "taboo" against incest by the enactment of special severe laws relating to intercourse between relatives; and that there was no "instinct" against incest in his time is shown by the fact that he deemed it necessary to make such circumstantial laws for his own people, and by his specific testimony that "in all these things the nations are defiled which I cast out from before you, and the land is defiled." Regarding his motives in making such laws, Milman has justly remarked (H.J., I., 220),

"The leading principle of these enactments was to prohibit near marriage between those parties among whom, by the usage of their society, early and frequent intimacy was unavoidable and might lead to abuse."

If Moses lived now, he would still be called upon to enact his laws; for to this day the horror of incest is a sentiment which it is necessary to keep up and enforce by education, moral precept, religion, and law. It is no more innate or instinctive than the sentiment of modesty, the regard for chastity, or the disapproval of bigamy. Children are not born with it any more than with the feeling that it is improper to be seen naked. Medical writers bear witness to the wide prevalence of unnatural practices among children, even in good families, while in the slums of the large cities, where the families are herded like swine, there is a horrible indulgence in every kind of incest by adults as well as children.

Absolute proof that the horror of incest is not innate lies furthermore in the unquestionable fact that a man can escape the calamity of falling in love with his sister or daughter only if he knows the relationship. There are many instances on record—to which the daily press adds others—of incestuous unions brought about by ignorance of the consanguinity. Oedipus was not saved by an instinct from marrying his mother. It was only after the discovery of the relationship that his mind was filled with unutterable horror, while his wife and mother committed suicide. This case, though legendary, is typical—a mirror of actuality—showing how potent ideas are to alter emotions. Yet I am assailed for asserting that the Greeks and the lower races, whose ideas regarding women, love, polygamy, chastity, and marriage were so different from ours, also differed from us in their feelings—the quality of their love. There were numerous obstacles to overcome before romantic love was able to emerge—obstacles so serious and diverse that it is a wonder they were ever conquered. But before considering those obstacles it will be advisable to explain definitely just what romantic love is and how it differs from the sensual "love" or lust which, of course, has always existed among men as among other animals.


How does it feel to be in love?

When a man loves a girl, he feels such an overwhelming individual preference for her that though she were a beggar-maid he would scorn the offer to exchange her for an heiress, a princess, or the goddess of beauty herself. To him she seems to have a monopoly of all the feminine charms, and she therefore monopolizes his thoughts and feelings to the exclusion of all other interests, and he longs not only for her reciprocal affection but for a monopoly of it. "Does she love me?" he asks himself a hundred times a day. "Sometimes she seems to treat me with cold indifference—is that merely the instinctive assertion of feminine coyness, or does she prefer another man?" The pangs, the agony of jealousy overcome him at this thought. He hopes one moment, despairs the next, till his moods become so mixed that he hardly knows whether he is happy or miserable. He, who is usually so bold and self-confident, is humbled; feels utterly unworthy of her. In his fancy she soars so far above all other women that calling her an angel seems not a hyperbole, but a compliment to the angel. Toward such a superior being the only proper attitude is adoration. She is spotless as an angel, and his feelings toward her are as pure, as free from coarse cravings, as if she were a goddess. How royally proud a man must feel at the thought of being preferred above all mortals by this divine being! In personal beauty had she ever a peer? Since Venus left this planet, has such grace been seen? In face of her, the strongest of all impulses—selfishness—is annihilated. The lover is no longer "number one" to himself; his own pleasures and comforts are ignored in the eager desire to please her, to show her gallant attentions. To save her from disaster or grief he is ready to sacrifice his life. His cordial sympathy makes him share all her joys and sorrows, and his affection for her, though he may have known her only a few days—nay, a few minutes—is as strong and devoted as that of a mother for the child that is her own flesh and blood.


No one who has ever been truly in love will deny that this description, however romantic it may seem in its apparent exaggeration, is a realistic reflection of his feelings and impulses. As this brief review shows, Individual Preference, Monopolism, Coyness, Jealousy, Mixed Moods of Hope and Despair, Hyperbole, Adoration, Purity, Pride, Admiration of Personal Beauty, Gallantry, Self-sacrifice, Sympathy, and Affection, are the essential ingredients in that very composite mental state, which we call romantic love. Coyness, of course, occurs only in feminine love, and there are other sexual differences which will be noted later on. Here I wish to point out that the fourteen ingredients named may be divided into two groups of seven each—the egoistic and the altruistic. The prevailing notion that love is a species of selfishness—a "double selfishness," some wiseacre has called it—is deplorably untrue and shows how little the psychology of love has heretofore been understood.

It has indeed an egoistic side, including the ingredients I have called Individual Preference, Monopolism, Jealousy, Coyness, Hyperbole, Mixed Moods, and Pride; and it is not a mere accident that these are also the seven features which may be found in sensual love too; for sensuality and selfishness are twins. But the later and more essential characteristics of romantic love are the altruistic and supersensual traits—Sympathy, Affection, Gallantry, Self-sacrifice, Adoration, Purity, and Admiration of Personal Beauty. The two divisions overlap in some places, but in the main they are accurate. It is certain that the first group precedes the second, but the order in which the ingredients in each group first made their appearance cannot be indicated, as we know too little of the early history of man. The arrangement here adopted is therefore more or less arbitrary. I shall try in this long chapter to answer the question "What is Romantic Love?" by discussing each of its fourteen ingredients and tracing its evolution separately.


If a man pretended to be in love with a girl while confessing that he liked other girls equally well and would as soon marry one as another, everybody would laugh at him; for however ignorant many persons may be as to the subtler traits of sentimental love, it is known universally that a decided and obstinate preference for one particular individual is an absolute condition of true love.


As I have just intimated, a modern romantic lover would not exchange a beloved beggar-maid for an heiress or princess; nor would he give her for a dozen other girls, however charming, and with permission to marry them all. Now if romantic love had always existed, the lower races would have the same violent and exclusive preference for individuals. But what are the facts? I assert, without fear of contradiction from any one familiar with anthropological literature, that a savage or barbarian, be he Australian, African, American, or Asiatic, would laugh at the idea of refusing to exchange one woman for a dozen others equally young and attractive. It is not necessary to descend to the lowest savages to find corroboration of this view. Dr. Zöller, an unusually intelligent and trustworthy observer, says, in one of his volumes on German Africa (III., 70-71), that

"on the whole no distinction whatever is made between woman and woman, between the good-looking and the ugly, the intelligent and the stupid ones. In all my African experiences I have never heard of a single young man or woman who conceived a violent passion for a particular individual of the opposite sex."

So in other parts of Africa. The natives of Borgou, we are told by R. and J. Lander, marry with perfect indifference. "A man takes no more thought about choosing a wife than he does in picking a head of wheat." Among the Kaffirs, says Fritsch (112) it may occur that a man has an inclination toward a particular girl; but he adds that "in such cases the suitor is obliged to pay several oxen more than is customary, and as he usually takes cattle more to heart than women, such cases are rare;" and though, when he has several wives, he may have a favorite, the attachment to her is shallow and transient, for she is at any moment liable to displacement by a new-comer. Among the Hottentots at Angra Pequena, when a man covets a girl he goes to her hut, prepares a cup of coffee and hands it to her without saying a word. If she drinks half of it, he knows the answer is Yes. "If she refuses to touch the coffee, the suitor is not specially grieved, but proceeds to another hut to try his luck again in the same way." (Ploss, I., 454.)

Of the Fijians Williams (148) says: "Too commonly there is no express feeling of connubial bliss, men speak of 'our women' and women of 'our men' without any distinctive preference being apparent." Catlin, speaking (70-71) of the matrimonial arrangements of the Pawnee Indians, says that daughters are held as legitimate merchandise, and, as a rule, accept the situation "with the apathy of the race." A man who advertised for a wife would hardly be accused of individual preference or anything else indicating love. From a remark made by George Gibbs (197) we may infer that the Indians of Oregon and Washington used to advertise for wives, in their own fashion:

"It is not unusual to find on the small prairies human figures rudely carved upon trees. These I have understood to have been cut by young men who were in want of wives, as a sort of practical intimation that they were in the market as purchasers."

It might be suggested that such a crude love-letter to the sex in general, as compared with one of our own love-letters to a particular girl, gives a fair idea of what Indian love is, compared with the love of civilized men and women.


Even where there is an appearance of predilection it is apt to be shallow and fragile. In the Jesuit Relations (XVIII., 129) we read how a Huron youth came to one of the missionaries and said he needed a wife to make his snow-shoes and clothes. "I am in love with a young girl," said he. "I beg you to call my relatives together and to consider whether she is suitable for me. If you decide that it is for my good, I will marry her; if not, I will follow your advice." Other young Indians used to come to the missionaries to ask them to find wives for them. I have been struck, in reading Indian love-stories, by the fact that their gist usually lies not in an exhibition of decided preference for one man but of violent aversion to another—some old and disagreeable suitor. It is well known, too, that among Indians, as among Australians, marriage was sometimes considered an affair of the tribe rather than of the individual; and we have some curious illustrations of the way in which various tribes of Indians would try to crush the germs of individual preference.


Thus Hunter relates (243) of the Missouri and Arkansas tribes that "It is considered disgraceful for a young Indian publicly to prefer one woman to another until he has distinguished himself either in war or in the chase." Should an Indian pay any girl, though he may have known her from childhood, special attention before he has won reputation as a warrior, "he would be sure to suffer the painful mortification of a rejection; he would become the derision of the warriors and the contempt of the squaws." In the Jesuit Relations (III., 73) we read of some of the Canadian Indians that

"they have a very rude way of making love; for the suitor, as soon as he shows a preference for a girl, does not dare look at her, nor speak to her, nor stay near her unless accidentally; and then he must force himself not to look her in the face, nor to give any sign of his passion, otherwise he would be the laughing-stock of all, and his sweetheart would blush for him."

Not only must he show no preference, but the choice, too, is not left to him; for the relatives take up the matter and decide whether his age, skill as a hunter, reputation, and family make him a desirable match.

In the face of such facts, can we agree with Rousseau that to a savage one woman is as good as another? The question is very difficult to answer, because if a man is to marry at all, he must choose a particular girl, and this choice can be interpreted as preference, though it may be quite accidental. It is probable, as I have suggested, that with a people as low as the Australians it would be difficult to find a man having sufficient predilection for one young woman to refuse to exchange her for two others. Probably the same is true of the higher savages and even of the barbarians, as a rule.


We do, indeed, find, at a comparatively early stage, evidences of one girl or man being chosen in preference to others; but when we examine these cases closely we see that the choice is not based on personal qualities but on utilitarian considerations of the most selfish or sensual description. Thus Zöller, in the passage just referred to, says of the negro:

"It is true that when he buys a woman he prefers a young one, but his motive for so doing is far from being mental admiration of beauty. He buys the younger ones because they are youthful, strong, and able to work for him."

Similarly Belden, who lived twelve years among the Plains Indians, states (302) that "the squaws are valued by the middle-aged men only for their strength and ability to work, and no account whatever is taken of their personal beauty." The girls are no better than the men. Young Comanche girls, says Parker (Schoolcraft, V., 683) "are not averse to marry very old men, particularly if they are chiefs, as they are always sure of something to eat." In describing Amazon Valley Indians, Wallace says (497-498) that there is

"a trial of skill at shooting with the bow and arrow, and if the young man does not show himself a good marksman, the girl refuses him, on the ground that he will not be able to shoot fish and game enough for the family."

These cases are typical, and might be multiplied indefinitely; they show how utterly individual preference on personal grounds is out of the question here. It is true that many of our own girls marry for such utilitarian reasons; but no one would be so foolish as to speak of these marriages as love-matches, whereas in the cases of savages we are often invited by sentimentalists to witness the "manifestation of love" whenever a man shows a utilitarian or sensual interest in a particular girl. A modern civilized lover marries a girl for her own sake, because he is enamoured of her individuality, whereas the uncivilized suitor cares not a fig for the other's individuality; he takes her as an instrument of lust, a drudge, or as a means of raising a family, in order that the superstitious rites of ancestor-worship may be kept up and his selfish soul rest in peace in the next world. He cares not for her personally, for if she proves barren he repudiates her and marries another. Trial marriages are therefore widely prevalent. The Dyaks of Borneo, as St. John tells us, often make as many as seven or eight such marriages; with them marriage is "a business of partnership for the purpose of having children, dividing labor, and by means of their offspring providing for their old age."


An amusing incident related by Ernst von Weber (II., 215-6) indicates how easily utilitarian considerations override such skin-deep preference as may exist among Africans. He knew a girl named Yanniki who refused to marry a young Kaffir suitor though she confessed that she liked him. "I cannot take him," she said, "as he can offer only ten cows for me and my father wants fifteen." Weber observed, that it was not kind of her father to let a few cows stand in the way of her happiness; but the African damsel did not fall in with his sentimental view of the case. Business and vanity were to her much more important matters than individual preference for a particular lover, and she exclaimed, excitedly:

"What! You expect my father to give me away for ten cows? That would be a fine sort of a bargain! Am I not worth more than Cilli, for whom the Tambuki chief paid twelve cows last week? I am pretty, I can cook, sew, crochet, speak English, and with all these accomplishments you want my father to dispose of me for ten miserable cows? Oh, sir, how little you esteem me! No, no, my father is quite right in refusing to yield in this matter; indeed, in my opinion he might boldly ask thirty cows for me, for I am worth that much."


It is not difficult to explain why among the lower races individual preference either does not occur at all or is so weak and utilitarian that the difference of a few cows more or less may decide a lover's fate. Like sunflowers in the same garden, the girls in a tribe differ so little from one another that there is no particular cause for discrimination. They are all brought up in exactly the same way, eat the same food, think the same thoughts, do the same work—carrying water and wood, dressing skins, moving tents and utensils, etc.; they are alike uneducated, and marry at the same childish age before their minds can have unfolded what little is in them; so that there is small reason why a man should covet one of them much more than another. A savage may be as eager to possess a woman as a miser is to own a gold piece: but he has little more reason to prefer one girl to another than a miser has to prefer one gold piece to another of the same size.

Humboldt observed (P.E., 141) that "in barbarous nations there is a physiognomy peculiar to the tribe or horde rather than to any individual." It has been noted by various observers that the lower the race is the more do its individuals thus resemble one another. Nay, this approximation goes so far as to make even the two sexes much less distinct than they are with us. Professor Pritsch, in his classical treatise on the natives of South Africa (407), dwells especially on the imperfect sexual differentiation of the Bushmen. The faces, stature, limbs, and even the chest and hips of the women differ so little from those of the men that in looking at photographs (as he says and illustrates by specimens), one finds it difficult to tell them apart, though the figures are almost nude. Both sexes are equally lean and equally ugly. The same may be said of the typical Australians, and in Professor and Mrs. Agassiz's Journey in Brazil (530) we read that

"the Indian woman has a very masculine air, extending indeed more or less to her whole bearing; for even her features have rarely the feminine delicacy of higher womanhood. In the Negro, on the contrary, the narrowness of chest and shoulder characteristic of the woman is almost as marked in the man; indeed, it may well be said, that, while the Indian female is remarkable for her masculine build, the negro male is equally so for his feminine aspect."

In the Jesuit Relations there are repeated references to the difficulty of distinguishing squaws from male Indians except by certain articles of dress. Burton writes of the Sioux (C.O.S., 59) that "the unaccustomed eye often hesitates between the sexes." In Schoolcraft (V., 274) we are told concerning the Creek women that "being condemned to perform all the hard labor, they are universally masculine in appearance, without one soft blandishment to render them desirable or lovely." Nor is there anything alluringly feminine in the disposition which, as all observers agree, makes Indian women more cruel in torture than the most pitiless men. Equally decisive is the testimony regarding the similarity of the sexes, physical and mental, in the islands of the Pacific. Hawkesworth (II., 446) found the women of New Zealand so lacking in feminine delicacy that it was difficult to distinguish them from the men, except by their voices. Captain Cook (II., 246) observed in Fiji differences in form between men and females, but little difference in features; and of the Hawaiians he wrote that with few exceptions they

"have little claim to those peculiarities that distinguish the sex in other countries. There is, indeed, a more remarkable equality in the size, color, and figure of both sexes, than in most places I have visited."


A most important inference may be deduced from these facts. A man does not, normally, fall in love with a man. He falls in love with a woman, because she is a woman. Now when, as in the cases cited, the men and women differ only in regard to the coarsest anatomical peculiarities known as the primary sexual qualities, it is obvious that their "love" also can consist only of such coarse feelings and longings as these primary qualities can inspire. In other words they can know the great passion only on its sensual side. Love, to them, is not a sentiment but an appetite, or at best an instinct for the propagation of the species.

Of the secondary sexual qualities—those not absolutely necessary for the maintenance of the species—the first to appear prominently in women is fat; and as soon as it does appear, it is made a ground of individual preference. Brough Smyth tells us that in Australia a fat woman is never safe from being stolen, no matter how old and ugly she may be. In the chapter on Personal Beauty I shall marshal a number of facts showing that among the uncivilized and Oriental races in general, fat is the criterion of feminine attractiveness. It is so among coarse men (i.e., most men) even in Europe and America to this day. Hindoo poets, from the oldest times to Kalidasa and from Kalidasa to the present day, laud their heroines above all things for their large thighs—thighs so heavy that in walking the feet make an impression on the ground "deep as an elephant's hoofs."


It is hardly necessary to say that the "love" based on these secondary qualities is not sentimental or romantic. It may, however—and this is a very important point to remember—be extremely violent and stubborn. In other words, there may he a strong individual preference in love that is entirely sensual. Indeed, lust may he as fastidious as love. Tarquinius coveted Lucretia; no other woman would have satisfied him. Yet he did not love her. Had he loved her he would have sacrificed his own life rather than offered violence to one who valued her honor more than her life. He loved only himself; his one object was to please his beloved ego; he never thought of her feelings and of the consequences of his act to her. The literature of ancient Rome, Greece, and Oriental countries is full of such cases of individualized "love" which, when closely examined, reduce themselves to cases of selfish lust—eagerness to gratify an appetite with a particular victim, for whom the "lover" has not a particle of affection, respect, or sympathy, not to speak of adoration or gallant, self-sacrificing devotion. Unless we have positive evidence of the presence of these traits of unselfish affection, we are not entitled to assume the existence of genuine love; especially among races that are coarse, unsympathetic, and cruel.


From this point of view we must judge two Indian love-stories related by Keating (II., 164-166):

I. A Chippewa named Ogemans, married to a woman called Demoya, fell in love with her sister. When she refused him he affected insanity. His ravings were terrible, and nothing could appease him but her presence; the moment he touched her hand or came near her he was gentle as they could wish. One time, in the middle of a winter night, he sprang from his couch and escaped into the woods, howling and screaming in the wildest manner; his wife and her sister followed him, but he refused to be calmed until the sister (Okoj) laid her hand on him, when he became quiet and gentle. This kind of performance he kept up a long time till all the Indians, including the girl, became convinced he was possessed by a spirit which she alone could subdue. So she married him and never after was he troubled by a return of madness.

II. A young Canadian had secured the favor of a half-breed girl who had been brought up among the Chippewas and spoke only their language. Her name was Nisette, and she was the daughter of a converted squaw who, being very pious, induced the young couple to go to an Algonquin village and get regularly married by a clergyman. Meanwhile the Canadian's love cooled away, and by the time they reached the village he cared no more for the poor girl. Soon thereafter she became the subject of fits and was finally considered to be quite insane. The only lucid intervals she had were in the presence of her inconstant husband. Whenever he came near her, her reason would return, and she would appear the same as before her illness. Flattered by what he deemed so strong an evidence of his influence over her, the Canadian felt a return of kindness toward her, and was finally induced to renew his attentions, which, being well received, they were soon united by a clergyman. Her reason appeared to be restored, and her improving health showed that her happiness was complete.


Keating's guide was convinced that in both these cases the insanity was feigned for the selfish purpose of working upon the feelings of the unwilling party. Even apart from that, there is no trace of evidence in either story that the feelings of the lovers rose above sensual attachment, though the girl, being half white, might have been capable of an approximation to a higher feeling. Indeed it is among women that such approximations to a higher type of attachment must be sought; for the uncivilized woman's basis of individual preference, while apt to be utilitarian, is less sensual than the man's. She is influenced by his manly qualities of courage, valor, aggressiveness, because those are of value to her, while he chooses her for her physical charms and has little or no appreciation of the higher feminine qualities. Schoolcraft (V., 612) cites the following as an Indian girl's ideal:

"My love is tall and graceful as the young pine waving on the hill—-and as swift in his course as the stately deer. His hair is flowing, and dark as the blackbird that floats through the air, and his eyes, like the eagle's, both piercing and bright. His heart, it is fearless and great—and his arm it is strong in the fight."

Now it is true that Schoolcraft is a very unreliable witness in such matters, as we shall see in the chapter on Indians. He had a way of taking coarse Indian tales, dressing them up in a fine romantic garb and presenting them as the aboriginal article. An Indian girl would not be likely to compare a man's hair to a blackbird's feathers, and she certainly would never dream of speaking of a "tall and graceful pine waving on the hill." She might, however, compare his swiftness to a deer's, and she might admire his sharp sight, his fearlessness, his strong arm in a fight; and that is enough to illustrate what I have just said—that her preference, though utilitarian, is less sensual than the man's. It includes mental elements, and as moreover her duties as mother teach her sympathy and devotion, it is not to be wondered at that the earliest approximations to a higher type of love are on the part of women.


As civilization progresses, the sexes become more and more differentiated, thus affording individual preference an infinitely greater scope. The stamp of sex is no longer confined to the pelvis and the chest, but is impressed on every part of the body. The women's feet become smaller and more daintily shaped than the men's, the limbs more rounded and tapering and less muscular, the waist narrower, the neck longer, the skin smoother, softer, and less hairy, the hands more comely, with more slender fingers, the skeleton more delicate, the stature lower, the steps shorter, the gait more graceful, the features more delicately cut, the eyes more beautiful, the hair more luxuriant and lustrous, the cheeks rounder and more susceptible to blushes, the lips more daintily curved, the smile sweeter.

But the mind has sex as well as the body. It is still in process of evolution, and too many individuals still approximate the type of the virago or the effeminate man; but the time will come for all, as it has already come for many, when a masculine trait in a woman's character will make as disagreeable an impression as a blacksmith's sinewy arm on the body of a society belle would make in a ball-room. To call a woman pretty and sweet is to compliment her; to call a man pretty and sweet would be to mock or insult him. The ancient Greeks betrayed their barbarism in amorous matters in no way more conspicuously than by their fondness for coy, effeminate boys, and their admiration of masculine goddesses like Diana and Minerva. Contrast this with the modern ideal of femininity, as summed up by Shakspere:

     Why are our bodies soft and weak and smooth,
     Unapt to toil and trouble in the world,
     But that our soft conditions and our hearts
     Should well agree with our external parts?


A woman's voice differs from a man's not only in pitch but in timbre; its quality suggests the sex. There is great scope for variety, from the lowest contralto to the highest soprano, as there is in man's from the lowest bass to the highest tenor; a variety so great that voices differ as much as faces and can be instantly recognized; but unless it has the proper sexual quality a voice affects us disagreeably. A coarse, harsh voice has marred many a girl's best marriage chances, while, on the other hand, it may happen that "the ear loveth before the eye." Now what is true of the male and female voice holds true of the male and female mind in all its diverse aspects. We expect men to be not only bigger, stronger, taller, hardier, more robust, but more courageous and aggressive, more active, more creative, more sternly just, than women; while coarseness, cruelty, selfishness, and pugnacity, though not virtues in either sex, affect us much less repulsively in men than in women, for the reason that the masculine struggle for existence and competition in business foster selfishness, and men have inherited pugnacious instincts from their fighting ancestors, while women, as mothers, learned the lessons of sympathy and self-sacrifice much sooner than men. The distinctively feminine virtues are on the whole of a much higher order than the masculine, which is the reason why they were not appreciated or fostered at so early an epoch. Gentleness, modesty, domesticity, girlishness, coyness, kindness, patience, tenderness, benevolence, sympathy, self-sacrifice, demureness, emotionality, sensitiveness, are feminine qualities, some of which, it is true, we expect also in gentlemen; but their absence is not nearly so fatal to a man as it is to a woman. And as men gradually approach women in patience, tenderness, sympathy, self-sacrifice, and gentleness, it behooves women to keep their distance by becoming still more refined and feminine, instead of trying, as so many of them do, to approach the old masculine standard—one of the strangest aberrations recorded in all social history.

Men and women fall in love with what is unlike, not with what is like them. The refined physical and mental traits which I have described in the preceding paragraphs constitute some of the secondary sexual characters by which romantic love is inspired, while sensual love is based on the primary sexual characters. Havelock Ellis (19) has well defined a secondary sexual character as "one which, by more highly differentiating the sexes, helps to make them more attractive to each other," and so to promote marriages. And Professor Weissmann, famed for his studies in heredity, opens up deep vistas of thought when he declares (II., 91) that

"all the numerous differences in form and function which characterize sex among the higher animals, all the so-called 'secondary sexual characters,' affecting even the highest mental qualities of mankind, are nothing but adaptations to bring about the union of the hereditary tendencies of two individuals."

Nature has been at work on this problem of differentiating the sexes ever since it created the lowest animal organisms, and this fact, which stands firm as a rock, gives us the consoling assurance that the present abnormal attempts to make women masculine by giving them the same education, employments, sports, ideals, and political aspirations as men have, must end in ignominious failure. If the viragoes had their way, men and women would in course of time revert to the condition of the lowest savages, differing only in their organs of generation. How infinitely nobler, higher, more refined and, fascinating, is that ideal which wants women to differ from men by every detail, bodily and mental; to differ from them in the higher qualities of disposition, of character, of beauty, physical and spiritual, which alone make possible the existence of romantic love as distinguished from lust on one side and friendship on the other.


If these secondary sexual characters could be destroyed by the extraordinary—one might almost say criminal—efforts of unsexed termagants to make all women ape men and become like them, romantic love, which was so slow in coming, would disappear again, leaving only sensual appetite, which may be (selfishly) fastidious and intense, but has no depth, duration, or altruistic nobility, and which, when satiated, cares no more for the object for which it had temporarily hungered. It is these secondary sexual characters, with their subtle and endless variations, that have given individual preference such a wide field of choice that every lover can find a girl after his heart and taste. A savage is like a gardener who has only one kind of flowers to choose between—all of one color too; whereas we, with our diverse secondary characters, our various intermixtures of nationalities, our endless shades of blonde and brunette, and differences in manners and education can have our choice among the lilies, roses, violets, pansies, daisies, and thousands of other flowers—or the girls named after them. Samuel Baker says there are no broken hearts in Africa. Why should there be when individuals are so similar that if a man loses his girl he can easily find another just like her in color, face, rotundity, and grossness? A civilized lover would mourn the loss of his bride—though he were offered his choice of the beauties of Baltimore—because it would be absolutely impossible to duplicate her.

In that last line lies the explanation of one of the mysteries of modern love—its stubborn fidelity to the beloved after the choice has been made. But there is another mystery of individual preference that calls for an explanation—its capriciousness, apparent or real, in making a choice—that quality which has made the poets declare so often that "love is blind." On this point much confusion of ideas prevails.

Matters are simplified if we first dispose of those numerous cases in which the individual preference is only approximate. If a girl of eighteen has the choice between a man of sixty and a youth of twenty, she will, if she exercises a personal preference, take the youth, as a matter of course, though he may be far from her ideal. Such preference is generic rather than individual. Again, in most cases of first love, as I have remarked elsewhere (R.L.P.B., 139) "man falls in love with woman, woman with man, not with a particular man or woman." Young men and women inherit, from a long series of ancestors, a disposition to love which at puberty reveals itself in vague longings and dreams. The "bump of amativeness," as a phrenologist might say, is like a powder magazine, ready to explode at a touch, and it makes no great difference what kind of a match is applied. In later love affairs the match is a matter of more importance.

Robert Burton threw light on the "capriciousness" and accidentally of this kind of (apparent) amorous preference when he wrote that "it is impossible, almost, for two young folks equal in years to live together and not be in love;" and further he says, sagaciously:

"Many a serving man, by reason of this opportunity and importunity, inveigles his master's daughter, many a gallant loves a dowdy, many a gentleman runs after his wife's maids; many ladies dote upon their men, as the queen in Aristo did upon the dwarf, many matches are so made in haste and they are compelled, as it were by necessity, so to love, which had they been free, come in company with others, seen that variety which many places afford, or compared them to a third, would never have looked upon one another."

Such passions are merely pent-up emotions seeking to escape one way or another. They do not indicate real, intense preference, but at best an approach to it; for they are not properly individualized, and, as Schopenhauer pointed out, the differences in the intensity of love-cases depend on their different degrees of individualization—an aperçu which this whole chapter confirms. Yet these mere approximations to real preference embrace the vast majority of so-called love-affairs. Genuine preference of the highest type finds its explanation in special phases of sympathy and personal beauty which will be discussed later on.

What is usually considered the greatest mystery of the amorous passion is the disposition of a lover to "see Helen's beauty in a brow of Egypt." "What can Jack have seen in Jill to become infatuated with her, or she in him?" The trouble with those who so often ask this question is that they fix the attention on the beloved instead of on the lover, whose lack of taste explains everything. The error is of long standing, as the following story related by the Persian poet Saadi (of the thirteenth century) will show (346):


"A king of Arabia was told that Mujnun, maddened by love, had turned his face toward the desert and assumed the manners of a brute. The king ordered him to be brought in his presence and he wept and said: 'Many of my friends reproach me for my love of her, namely Laila; alas! that they could one day see her, that my excuse might be manifest for me.' The king sent for her and beheld a person of tawny complexion, and feeble frame of body. She appeared to him in a contemptible light, inasmuch as the lowest menial in his harem, or seraglio, surpassed her in beauty and excelled her in elegance. Mujnun, in his sagacity, penetrated what was passing in the king's mind and said: 'It would behove you, O King, to contemplate the charms of Laila through the wicket of a Mujnun's eye, in order that the miracle of such a spectacle might be illustrated to you.'"

This story was referred to by several critics of my first book as refuting my theory regarding the modernity of true love. They seemed to think, with the Persian poet, that there must be something particularly wonderful and elevated in the feelings of a lover who is indifferent to the usual charms of femininity and prefers ugliness. This, indeed, is the prevalent sentiment on the subject, though the more I think of it, the more absurd and topsy turvy it seems to me. Do we commend an Eskimo for preferring the flavor of rancid fish oil to the delicate bouquet of the finest French wine? Does it evince a particularly exalted artistic sense to prefer a hideous daub to a Titian or Raphael? Does it betoken a laudable and elevated taste in music to prefer a vulgar tune to one that has the charms of a romantic or classical work of acknowledged beauty? Why, then, should we specially extol Mujnun for admiring a woman who was devoid of all feminine charms? The confusion probably arises from fancying that she must have had mental charms to offset her ugliness, but nothing whatever is said about such a notion, which, in fact, would have been utterly foreign to the Oriental, purely sensual, way of regarding women.

Fix the attention on the man in the story instead of on the woman and the mystery vanishes. Mujnun becomes infatuated with an ugly woman simply because he has no taste, no sense of beauty. There are millions of such men the world over, just as there are millions who cannot appreciate choice wines, good music, and fine pictures. Everywhere the majority of men prefer vulgar tunes, glaring chromos, and coarse women—luckily for the women, because most of them are coarse, too. "Birds of a feather flock together"—there you have the philosophy of preference so far as such love-affairs are concerned. How often do we see a bright, lovely girl, with sweet voice and refined manners, neglected by men who crowd around other women of their own rude and vulgar caste! Most men still are savages so far as the ability to appreciate the higher secondary sexual qualities in women is concerned. But the exceptions are growing more numerous. Among savages there are no exceptions. Romantic love does not exist among them, both because the women have not the secondary sexual qualities, and because, even if they had them, the men would not appreciate them or be guided by them in their choice of mates.


     Whenever she speaks, my ravished ear
     No other voice but hers can hear,
     No other wit but hers approve:
     Tell me, my heart, if this be love?

Every lover of nature must have noticed how the sun monopolizes the attention of flowers and leaves. Twist and turn them whichever way you please, on returning afterward you will find them all facing the beloved sun again with their bright corollas and glossy surface. Romantic love exacts a similar monopoly of its devotees. Be their feelings as various, their thoughts as numerous, as the flowers in a garden, the leaves in a forest, they will always be turned toward the beloved one.


A man may have several intimate friends, and a mother may dote on a dozen or more children with equal affection; but romantic love is a monopolist, absolutely exclusive of all participation and rivalry. A genuine Romeo wants Juliet, the whole of Juliet, and nothing but Juliet. She monopolizes his thoughts by day, his dreams at night; her image blends with everything he sees, her voice with everything he hears. His imagination is a lens which gathers together all the light and heat of a giant world and focuses them on one brunette or blonde. He is a miser, who begrudges every smile, every look she bestows on others, and if he had his own way he would sail with her to-day to a desert island and change their names to Mr. and Mrs. Robinson Crusoe. This is not fanciful hyperbole, but a plain statement in prose of a psychological truth. The poets did not exaggerate when they penned such sentiments as these:

     She was his life,
     The ocean to the river of his thoughts,
     Which terminated all.

     Thou art my life, my love, my heart,
       The very eyes of me,
     And hast command of every part,
       To live and die for thee.

     Give me but what that ribband bound,
     Take all the rest the world goes round.

     But I am tied to very thee
       By every thought I have;
     Thy face I only care to see
       Thy heart I only crave.

     I see her in the dewy flowers,
       Sae lovely sweet and fair:
     I hear her voice in ilka bird,
       Wi' music charm the air:
     There's not a bonnie flower that springs
       By fountain, shaw, or green;
     There's not a bonny bird that sings,
       But minds me o' my Jean.

     For nothing this wide universe I call
     Save thou, my rose: in it thou art my all.

     Like Alexander I will reign,
       And I will reign alone,
     My thoughts shall evermore disdain
       A rival on my throne.
                          —James Graham.

     Love, well thou know'st no partnerships allows.
     Cupid averse, rejects divided vows.

     O that the desert were my dwelling-place,
       With one fair spirit for my minister,
     That I might all forget the human race
       And, hating no one, love but only her.


The imperative desire for an absolute monopoly of one chosen girl, body and soul—and one only—is an essential, invariable ingredient of romantic love. Sensual love, on the contrary, aims rather at a monopoly of all attractive women—or at least as many as possible. Sensual love is not an exclusive passion for one; it is a fickle feeling which, like a giddy butterfly, flits from flower to flower, forgetting the fragrance of the lily it left a moment ago in the sweet honey of the clover it enjoys at this moment. The Persian poet Sadi, says (Bustan, 12), "Choose a fresh wife every spring or New Year's Day; for the almanack of last year is good for nothing." Anacreon interprets Greek love for us when he sings:

     "Can'st count the leaves in a forest, the waves in the sea?
     Then tell me how oft I have loved. Twenty girls in Athens,
     and fifteen more besides; add to these whole bevies in
     Corinth, and from Lesbos to Ionia, from Caria and from
     Rhodos, two thousand sweethearts more…. Two thousand did I
     say? That includes not those from Syros, from Kanobus, from
     Creta's cities, where Eros rules alone, nor those from
     Gadeira, from Bactria, from India—girls for whom I burn."

Lucian vies with Anacreon when he makes Theomestus (Dial. Amor.) exclaim: "Sooner can'st thou number the waves of the sea and the snowflakes falling from the sky than my loves. One succeeds another, and the new one comes on before the old is off." We call such a thing libertinism, not love. The Greeks had not the name of Don Juan, yet Don Juan was their ideal both for men and for the gods they made in the image of man. Homer makes the king of gods tell his own spouse (who listens without offence) of his diverse love-affairs (Iliad, xiv., 317-327). Thirteen centuries after Homer the Greek poet Nonnus gives ([Greek: Dionusiaka], vii.) a catalogue of twelve of Zeus's amours; and we know from other sources (e.g., Hygin, fab., 155) that these accounts are far from exhaustive. A complete list would match that yard-long document made for Don Juan by Leporello in Mozart's opera. A French writer has aptly called Jupiter the "Olympian Don Juan;" yet Apollo and most of the other gods might lay claim to the same title, for they are represented as equally amorous, sensual, and fickle; seeing no more wrong in deserting a woman they have made love to, than a bee sees in leaving a flower whose honey it has stolen.

Temporarily, of course, both men and gods focus their interest on one woman—maybe quite ardently—and fiercely resent interference, as an angry bee is apt to sting when kept from the flower it has accidentally chosen; but that is a different thing from the monopolism of true love.


The romantic lover's dream is to marry one particular woman and her alone; the sensual lover's dream embraces several women, or many. The unromantic ideal of the ancient Hindoo is romantically illustrated in a story told in the Hitopadesa of a Brahman named Wedasarman. One evening someone made him a present of a dish of barley-meal. He carried it to the market hall and lay down in a corner near where a potter had stored his wares. Before going to sleep, the Brahman indulged in these pleasant reveries:

"If I sell this dish of meal I shall probably get ten farthings for it. For that I can buy some of these pots, which I can sell again at a profit; thus my money will increase. Then I shall begin to trade in betel-nuts, dress-goods and other things, and thus I may bring my wealth up to a hundred thousand. With that I shall be able to marry four wives, and to the youngest and prettiest of them I shall give my tenderest love. How the others will be tortured by jealousy! But just let them dare to quarrel. They shall know my wrath and feel my club!"

With these words he laid about him with his club, and of course broke his own dish besides many of the potter's wares. The potter hearing the crash, ran to see what was the matter, and the Brahman was ignominiously thrown out of the hall.

The polygamous imagination of the Hindoos runs riot in many of their stories. To give another instance: The Kathakoça, or Treasury of Stories (translated by C.H. Tawney, 34), includes an account of the adventures of King Kánchanapura, who had five hundred wives; and of Sanatkumara who beheld eight daughters of Mánavega and married them. Shortly afterward he married a beautiful lady and her sister. Then he conquered Vajravega and married one hundred maidens.

Hindoo books assure us that women, unless restrained, are no better than men. We read in the same Hitopadesa that they are like cows—always searching for new herbs in the meadows to graze on. In polyandrous communities the women make good use of their opportunities. Dalton, in his book on the wild tribes of Bengal, tells this quaint story (36):

"A very pretty Dophla girl once came into the station of Luckimpur, threw herself at my feet and in most poetical language asked me to give her protection. She was the daughter of a chief and was sought in marriage and promised to a peer of her father who had many other wives. She would not submit to be one of many, and besides she loved and she eloped with her beloved. This was interesting and romantic. She was at the time in a very coarse travelling dress, but assured of protection she took fresh apparel and ornament from her basket and proceeded to array herself, and very pretty she looked as she combed and plaited her long hair and completed her toilette. In the meantime I had sent for the 'beloved,' who had kept in the background, and alas! how the romance was dispelled when a dual appeared! She had eloped with two men!"

Every reader will laugh at this denouement, and that laugh is eloquent proof that in saying there can be no real love without absolute monopolism of one heart by another I simply formulated and emphasized a truth which we all feel instinctively. Dalton's tale also brings out very clearly the world-wide difference between a romantic love-story and a story of romantic love.

Turning from the Old World to the New we find stories illustrating the same amusing disregard of amorous monopolism. Rink, in his book of Eskimo tales and traditions, cites a song which voices the reveries of a Greenland bachelor:

"I am going to leave the country—in a large ship—for that sweet little woman. I'll try to get some beads—of those that look like boiled ones. Then when I've gone abroad—I shall return again. My nasty little relatives—I'll call them all to me—and give them a good thrashing—with a big rope's end. Then I'll go to marry—taking two at once. That darling little creature—shall only wear clothes of the spotted seal-skins, and the other little pet shall have clothes of the young hooded seals."

Powers (227) tells a tragic tale of the California Indians, which in some respects reminds one of the man who jumped into a bramble-bush and scratched out both his eyes.

"There was once a man who loved two women and wished to marry them. Now these two women were magpies, but they loved him not, and laughed his wooing to scorn. Then he fell into a rage and cursed these two women, and went far away to the North. There he set the world on fire, then made for himself a tule boat, wherein he escaped to sea, and was never seen more."

Belden, who spent twelve years among the Sioux and other Indians, writes (302):

"I once knew a young man who had about a dozen horses he had captured at different times from the enemy, and who fell desperately in love with a girl of nineteen. She loved him in return, but said she could not bear to leave her tribe, and go to a Santee village, unless her two sisters, aged respectively fifteen and seventeen, went with her. Determined to have his sweetheart, the next time the warrior visited the Yankton village he took several ponies with him, and bought all three of the girls from their parents, giving five ponies for them."


Heriot, during his sojourn among Canadian Indians, became convinced from what he saw that love does not admit of divided affections, and can hardly coexist with polygamy (324). Schoolcraft notes the "curious fact" concerning the Indian that after a war "one of the first things he thought of as a proper reward for his bravery was to take another wife." In the chapter entitled "Honorable Polygamy" we saw how, in polygamous communities the world over, monogamy was despised as the "poor man's marriage," and was practised, not from choice, but from necessity. Every man who was able to do so bought or stole several women, and joined the honorable guild of polygamists. Such a custom, enforced by a strong public opinion, created a sentiment which greatly retarded the development of monopolism in sexual love. A young Indian might dream of marrying a certain girl, not, however, with a view to giving her his whole heart, but only as a beginning. The woman, it is true, was expected to give herself to one husband, but he seldom hesitated to lend her to a friend as an act of hospitality, and in many cases, would hire her out to a stranger in return for gifts.

In not a few communities of Asia, Melanesia, Polynesia, Australia, Africa, and America polyandry prevailed; that is, the woman was expected to bestow her caresses in turn on two or more men, to the destruction of the desire for exclusive possession which is an imperative trait of love. Rowney describes (154) what we might call syndicate marriage which has prevailed among the Meeris of India:

"All the girls have their prices, the largest price for the best-looking girl varying from twenty to thirty pigs, and, if one man cannot give so many, he has no objection to take partners to make up the number."

According to Julius Caesar, it was customary among the ancient Britons for brothers, and sometimes for father and sons, to have their wives in common, and Tacitus found evidence of a similar custom among the ancient Germans; while in some parts of Media it was the ambition of the women to have two or more husbands, and Strabo relates that those who succeeded looked down with pride on their less fortunate sisters. When the Spaniards first arrived at Lanzarote, in South America, they found the women married to several husbands, who lived with their common spouse in turn each a month. The Tibetans, according to Samuel Turner, look on marriage as a disagreeable duty which the members of a family must try to alleviate by sharing its burdens. The Nair woman in India may have up to ten or twelve husbands, with each of whom she lives ten days at a time. Among some Himalayan tribes, when the oldest brother marries, he generally shares his wife with his younger brothers.


Of the Port Lincoln Tribe in Australia, Schürmann says (223) that the brothers practically have their wives in common.

"A peculiar nomenclature has arisen from these singular connections; a woman honors the brothers of the man to whom she is married by the indiscriminate name of husbands; but the men make a distinction, calling their own individual spouses yungaras, and those to whom they have a secondary claim, by right of brotherhood, kartetis."

R.H. Codrington, a scientifically educated missionary who had twenty-four years' experience on the islands of the Pacific, wrote a valuable book on the Melanesians in which occur the following luminous remarks:

"All women who may become wives in marriage, and are not yet appropriated, are to a certain extent looked upon by those who may be their husbands as open to a more or less legitimate intercourse. In fact, appropriation of particular women to their own husbands, though established by every sanction of native custom, has by no means so strong a hold in native society, nor in all probability anything like so deep a foundation in the history of the native people, as the severance of either sex by divisions which most strictly limit the intercourse of men and women to those of the section or sections to which they themselves do not belong. Two proofs or exemplifications of this are conspicuous. (1) There is probably no place in which the common opinion of Melanesians approves the intercourse of the unmarried youths and girls as a thing good in itself, though it allows it as a thing to be expected and excused; but intercourse within the limit which restrains from marriage, where two members of the same division are concerned, is a crime, is incest…. (2) The feeling, on the other hand, that the intercourse of the sexes was natural where the man and woman belonged to different divisions, was shown by that feature of native hospitality which provided a guest with a temporary wife." Though now denied in some places, "there can be no doubt that it was common everywhere."

Nor can there be any doubt that what Codrington here says of the Melanesians applies also to Polynesians, Australians, and to uncivilized peoples in general. It shows that even where monogamy prevails—as it does quite extensively among the lower races[12]—we must not look for monopolism as a matter of course. The two are very far from being identical. Primitive marriage is not a matter of sentiment but of utility and sensual greed. Monogamy, in its lower phases, does not exclude promiscuous intercourse before marriage and (with the husband's permission) after marriage. A man appropriates a particular woman, not because he is solicitous for a monopoly of her chaste affections, but because he needs a drudge to cook and toil for him. Primitive marriage, in short, has little in common with civilized marriage except the name—an important fact the disregard of which has led to no end of confusion in anthropological and sociological literature.[13]


At a somewhat higher stage, marriage becomes primarily an institution for raising soldiers for the state or sons to perform ancestor worship. This is still very far from the modern ideal which makes marriage a lasting union of two loving souls, children or no children. Particularly instructive, from our point of view, is the custom of trial marriage, which has prevailed among many peoples differing otherwise as widely as ancient Egyptians and modern Borneans.[14] A modern lover would loathe the idea of such a trial marriage, because he feels sure that his love will be eternal and unalterable. He may be mistaken, but that at any rate is his ideal: it includes lasting monopolism. If a modern sweetheart offered her lover a temporary marriage, he would either firmly and anxiously decline it, fearing that she might take advantage of the contract and leave him at the end of the year; or, what is much more probable, his love, if genuine, would die a sudden death, because no respectable girl could make such an offer, and genuine love cannot exist without respect for the beloved, whatever may be said to the contrary by those who know not the difference between sensual and sentimental love.


While I am convinced that all these things are as stated, I do not wish to deny that monopolism of a violent kind may and does occur in love which is merely sensual. In fact, I have expressly classed monopolism among those seven ingredients of love which occur in its sensual as well as its sentimental phases. For a correct diagnosis of love it is indeed of great importance to bear this in mind, as we might otherwise be led astray by specious passages, especially in Greek and Roman literature, in which sensual love sometimes reaches a degree of subtility, delicacy, and refinement, which approximate it to sentimental love, though a critical analysis always reveals the difference. The two best instances I know of occur in Tibullus and Terence. Tibullus, in one of his finest poems (IV., 13), expresses the monopolistic wish that his favorite might seem beautiful to him only, displeasing all others, for then he would be safe from all rivalry; then he might live happy in forest solitudes, and she alone would be to him a multitude:

     Atque utinam posses uni mihi bella videri;
     Displiceas aliis: sic ego tutus ero.

     Sic ego secretis possum bene vivere silvis
       Qua nulla humano sit via trita pede.
     Tu mihi curarum requies, tu nocte vel atra
       Lumen, et in solis tu mihi turba locis.

Unfortunately, the opening line of this poem:

Nulla tuum nobis subducet femina lectum,

and what is known otherwise of the dissolute character of the poet and of all the women to whom he addressed his verses, make it only too obvious that there is here no question of purity, of respect, of adoration, of any of the qualities which distinguish supersensual love from lust.

More interesting still is a passage in the Eunuchus of Terence (I., 2) which has doubtless misled many careless readers into accepting it as evidence of genuine romantic love, existing two thousand years ago:

"What more do I wish?" asks Phaedria of his girl Thais: "That while at the soldier's side you are not his, that you love me day and night, desire me, dream of me, expect me, think of me, hope for me, take delight in me, finally, be my soul as I am yours."

Here, too, there is no trace of supersensual, self-sacrificing affection (the only sure test of love); but it might be argued that the monopolism, at any rate, is absolute. But when we read the whole play, even that is seen to be mere verbiage and affectation—sentimentality,[15] not sentiment. The girl in question is a common harlot "never satisfied with one lover," as Parmeno tells her, and she answers: "Quite true, but do not bother me"—and her Phaedria, though he talks monopolism, does not feel it, for in the first act she easily persuades him to retire to the country for a few days, while she offers herself to a soldier. And again, at the end of the play, when he seems at last to have ousted his military rival, the latter's parasite Gnatho persuades him, without the slightest difficulty, to continue sharing the girl with the soldier, because the latter is old and harmless, but has plenty of money, while Phaedria is poor.

Thus a passage which at first sight seemed sentimental and romantic, resolves itself into flabby sensualism, with no more moral fibre than the "love" of the typical Turk, as revealed, for instance, in a love song, communicated by Eugene Schuyler (I., 135):

"Nightingale! I am sad! As passionately as thou lovest the rose, so loudly sing that my loved one awake. Let me die in the embrace of my dear one, for I envy no one. I know that thou hast many lovers; but what affair of mine is that?"

One of the most characteristic literary curiosities relating to monopolism that I have found occurs in the Hindoo drama, Malavika and Agnimitra (Act V.). While intended very seriously, to us it reads for all the world like a polygamous parody by Artemus Ward of Byron's lines just cited ("She was his life, The ocean to the river of his thoughts, Which terminated all"). An Indian queen having generously bestowed on her husband a rival to be his second wife, Kausiki, a Buddhist nun, commends her action in these words:

"I am not surprised at your magnanimity. If wives are kind and devoted to their husbands they even serve them by bringing them new wives, like the streams which become channels for conveying the water of the rivers to the ocean."

Monopolism has a watch-dog, a savage Cerberus, whose duty it is to ward off intruders. He goes by the name of Jealousy, and claims our attention next.


For love, thou know'st, is full of jealousy. —Shakspere.

Jealousy may exist apart from sexual love, but there can be no such love without jealousy, potential at any rate, for in the absence of provocation it need never manifest itself. Of all the ingredients of love it is the most savage and selfish, as commonly witnessed, and we should therefore expect it to be present at all stages of this passion, including the lowest. Is this the case? The answer depends entirely upon what we mean by jealousy. Giraud-Teulon and Le Bon have held—as did Rousseau long before them—that this passion is unknown among almost all uncivilized peoples, whereas the latest writer on the subject, Westermarck, tries to prove (117) that "jealousy is universally prevalent in the human race at the present day" and that "it is impossible to believe that there ever was a time when man was devoid of that powerful feeling." It seems strange that doctors should disagree so radically on what seems so simple a question; but we shall see that the question is far from being simple, and that the dispute arose from that old source of confusion, the use of one word for several entirely different things.


It is among fishes, in the scale of animal life, that jealousy first makes its appearance, according to Romanes. But in animals "jealousy," be it that of a fish or a stag, is little more than a transient rage at a rival who comes in presence of the female he himself covets or has appropriated. This murderous wrath at a rival is a feeling which, as a matter of course a human savage may share with a wolf or an alligator; and in its ferocious indulgence primitive man places himself on a level with brutes—nay, below them, for in the struggle he often kills the female, which an animal never does. This wrath is not jealousy as we know it; it lacks a number of essential moral, intellectual, imaginative elements as we shall presently see; some of these are found in the amorous relations of birds, but not of savages, who are now under discussion. If it is true that, as some authorities believe, there was a time when human beings had, like animals, regular and limited annual mating periods, this rage at rivals must have often assumed the most ferocious aspect, to be followed, as with animals, by long periods of indifference.[16]


It is obvious, however, that since the human infant needs parental care much longer than young animals need it, natural selection must have favored the survival of the offspring of couples who did not separate after a mating period but remained together some years. This tendency would be further favored by the warrior's desire to have a private drudge or conjugal slave. Having stolen or bought such a "wife" and protected her against wild beasts and men, he would come to feel a sense of ownership in her—as in his private weapons. Should anyone steal his weapons, or, at a higher stage, his cattle or other property, he would be animated by a fierce desire for revenge; and the same would be the case if any man stole his wife—or her favors. This savage desire for revenge is the second phase of "jealousy," when women are guarded like other property, encroachment on which impels the owner to angry retaliation either on the thief or on the wife who has become his accomplice. Even among the lowest races, such as the Fuegians and Australians, great precautions are taken to guard women from "robbers." From the nature of the case, women are more difficult to guard than any other kind of "movable" property, as they are apt to move of their own accord. Being often married against their will, to men several times their age, they are only too apt to make common cause with the gallant. Powers relates that among the California Indians, a woman was severely punished or even killed by her husband if seen in company with another man in the woods; and an Australian takes it for granted, says Curr, "that his wife has been unfaithful to him whenever there has been an opportunity for criminality." The poacher may be simply flogged or fined, but he is apt to be mutilated or killed. The "injured husband" reserves the right to intrigue with as many women as he pleases, but his wife, being his absolute property, has no rights of her own, and if she follows his bad example he mutilates or kills her too.


Strangling, stoning, burning, impaling, flaying alive, tearing limb from limb, throwing from a tower, burying alive, disemboweling, enslaving, drowning, mutilating, are some of the punishments inflicted by savages and barbarians in all parts of the world on adulterous men or women. Specifications would be superfluous. Let one case stand for a hundred. Maximilian Prinz zu Wied relates (I., 531, 572), that the Indians (Blackfeet),

"severely punished infidelity on the part of their wives by cutting off their noses. At Fort Mackenzie we saw a number of women defaced in this hideous manner. In about a dozen tents we saw at least half a dozen females thus disfigured."

Must we not look upon the state of mind which leads to such terrible actions as genuine jealousy? Is there any difference between it and the feeling we ourselves know under that name? There is—a world-wide difference. Take Othello, who though a Moor, acts and feels more like an Englishman. The desire for revenge animates him too: "I'll tear her to pieces," he exclaimed when Iago slanders Desdemona—"will chop her into messes," and as for Cassio,

     Oh, that the slave had forty thousand lives!
     One is too poor, too weak for my revenge.

* * * * *

Arise, black vengeance from the hollow hell.


But this eagerness for revenge is only one phase of his passion. Though it leads him, in a frenzy of despair, to smother his wife, it is yet, even in his violent soul, subordinate to those feelings of wounded honor and outraged affection which constitute the essence of true jealousy. When he supposes himself betrayed by his wife and his friend he clutches, as Ulrici remarks (I., 404), with the blind despair of a shipwrecked man to his sole remaining property—honor:

"His honor, as he thinks, demands the sacrifice of the lives of Desdemona and Cassio. The idea of honor in those days, especially in Italy, inevitably required the death of the faithless wife as well as that of the adulterer. Othello therefore regards it as his duty to comply with this requirement, and, accordingly it is no lie when he calls himself 'an honorable murderer,' doing 'naught in hate, but all in honor,'…. Common thirst for revenge would have thought only of increasing the sufferings of its victim, of adding to its own satisfaction. But how touching, on the other hand, is Othello's appeal to Desdemona to pray and to confess her sins to Heaven, that he may not kill her soul with her body! Here, at the moment of the most intense excitement, in the desperate mood of a murderer, his love still breaks forth, and we again see the indestructible nobility of his soul."

Schlegel erred, therefore, when he maintained that Othello's jealousy was of the sensual, Oriental sort. So far as it led to the murder, it was; but Shakspere gave it touches which allied it to the true jealousy of the heart of which Schlegel himself has aptly said that it is "compatible with the tenderest feeling and adoration of the beloved object." Of such tender feeling and adoration there is not a trace in the passion of the Indian who bites off his wife's nose or lower lip to disfigure her, or who ruthlessly slays her for doing once what he does at will. Such expressions as "outraged affection," or "alienated affection," do not apply to him, as there is no affection in the case at all; no more than in that of the old Persian or Turk who sews up one of his hundred wives in a sack and throws her into the river because she was starving and would eat of the fruits of the tree of knowledge. This Oriental jealousy is often a "dog-in-the-manger" feeling. The Iroquois were the most intelligent of North American Indians, yet in cases of adultery they punished the woman solely, "who was supposed to be the only offender" (Morgan, 331). Affection is out of the question in such cases, anger at a slave's disobedience, and vengeance, being the predominant feelings. In countries where woman is degraded and enslaved, as Verplanck remarks (III., 61),

"the jealous revenge of the master husband, for real or imagined evil, is but the angry chastisement of an offending slave, not the terrible sacrifice of his own happiness involved in the victim's punishment. When woman is a slave, a property, a thing, all that jealousy may prompt is done, to use Othello's own distinction, 'in hate' and 'not in love.'"

Another equally vital distinction between the jealousy of savagery and civilization is indicated in these lines from Othello:

                 I had rather be a toad,
     And live upon the vapor of a dungeon,
     Than keep a corner in the thing I love
     For other's uses.

And again:

     I had been happy, if the general camp,
     Pioners and all, had tasted her sweet body,
     So I had nothing known.


It is the knowledge, or suspicion, that he has not a monopoly of his wife that tortures Shakspere's Othello, and constitutes the essence of his jealousy, whereas a savage is his exact antipode in that respect; he cares not a straw if the whole camp shares the embraces of his wife—provided he knows it and is rewarded for it. Wounded pride, violated chastity, and broken conjugal vows—pangs which goad us into jealousy—are considerations unknown to him. In other words, his "jealousy" is not a solicitude for marital honor, for wifely purity and affection, but simply a question of lending his property and being paid for it. Thus, in the case of the Blackfeet Indians referred to a moment ago, the author declares that while they mutilated erring wives by cutting off their noses (the Comanches and other tribes, down to the Brazilian Botocudos, did the same thing), they eagerly offered their wives and daughters in exchange for a bottle of whiskey. In this respect, too, this case is typical. Sutherland found (I., 184) that in regard to twenty-one tribes of Indians out of thirty-eight there was express record of unlimited intercourse before marriage and the loaning or exchanging of wives. In seventeen he could not get express information, and in only four was it stated that a chaste girl was more esteemed than an unchaste one. In the chapter on Indifference to Chastity I cited testimony showing that in Australia, the Pacific Islands, and among aborigines in general, chastity is not valued as a virtue. There are plenty of tribes that attempt to enforce it, but for commercial, sensual, or at best, genealogical reasons, not from a regard for personal purity; so that among all these lower races jealousy in our sense of the word is out of the question.

Care must be taken not to be imposed on by deceptive facts and inaccurate testimony. Thus Westermarck says (119) that

"in the Pelew Islands it is forbidden even to speak about another man's wife or mention her name. In short, the South Sea Islanders are, as Mr. Macdonald remarks, generally jealous of the chastity of their wives."

Nothing could be more misleading than these two sentences. The men are not jealous of the women's chastity, for they unhesitatingly lend them to other men; they are "jealous" of them simply as they are of their other movable property. As for the Pelew Islanders in particular, what Westermarck cites from Ymer is quite true; it is also true that if a man beats or insults a woman he must pay a fine or suffer the death penalty; and that if he approaches a place where women are bathing he must put them on their guard by shouting. But all these things are mere whimsicalities of barbarian custom, for the Pelew Islanders are notoriously unchaste even for Polynesians. They have no real family life; they have club-houses in which men consort promiscuously with women; and no moral restraint of any sort is put upon boys and girls, nor have they any idea of modesty or decency.[17] (Ploss, II., 416; Kotzebue, III., 215.)

A century ago Alexander Mackenzie wrote (66) regarding the Knistenaux or Cree Indians of the Northwest:

"It does not appear … that chastity is considered by them as a virtue; or that fidelity is believed to be essential to the happiness of wedded life; though it sometimes happens that the infidelity of a wife is punished by the husband with the loss of her hair, nose, and perhaps life; such severity proceeds from its having been practised without his permission; for a temporary exchange of wives is not uncommon; and the offer of their persons is considered as a necessary part of the hospitality due to strangers."

Of the Natchez Indians Charlevoix wrote (267): "There is no such thing as jealousy in these marriages; on the contrary the Natchez, without any ceremony, lend one another their wives." Concerning the Eskimos we read in Bancroft:

"They have no idea of morality, and the marriage relation sits so loosely as to hardly excite jealousy in its abuse. Female chastity is held a thing of value only as men hold property in it." "A stranger is always provided with a female companion for the night, and during the husband's absence he gets another man to take his place" (I., 81, 80).

The evidence collected by him also shows that the Thlinkeets and
Aleuts freely exchanged or lent their wives. Of the coast Indians of
Southern Alaska and British Columbia, A.P. Niblack says (Smithson.
., 1888, 347):

"Jealousy being unknown amongst the Indians, and sanctioned prostitution a common evil, the woman who can earn the greatest number of blankets or the largest sum of money wins the admiration of others for herself and a high position for her husband by her wealth."

In the same government reports (1886, Pt. I.) C. Willoughby writes of the Quinault Agency Washington Indians: "In their domestic relations chastity seems to be almost unknown." Of the Chippewayans Hearne relates (129) that it is a very common custom among the men to exchange a night's lodging with each other's wives. But this is so far from being considered as an act which is criminal, that it is esteemed by them as one of the strongest ties of friendship between two families.[18] The Hurons and many other tribes from north to south had licentious festivals at which promiscuous intercourse prevailed betraying the absence of jealousy. Of the Tupis of Brazil Southey says (I., 241): "The wives who found themselves neglected, consoled themselves by initiating the boys in debauchery. The husbands seem to have known nothing of jealousy." The ancient inhabitants of Venezuela lived in houses big enough to hold one hundred and sixty persons, and Herrera says of them:

"They observed no law or rule in matrimony, but took as many wives as they would, and they as many husbands, quitting one another at pleasure, without reckoning any harm done on either part. There was no such thing as jealousy among them, all living as best pleased them, without taking offence at one another."

The most painstaking research has failed to reveal to me a single Indian tribe in North or South America that showed a capacity for real jealousy, that is, anguish based on a sense of violated wifely chastity and alienated affection. The actions represented as due to jealousy are always inspired by the desire for revenge, never by the anguish of disappointed affection; they are done in hate, not in love. A chief who kills or mutilates one of his ten wives for consorting with another man without his consent, acts no more from jealousy, properly so called, than does a father who shoots the seducer of his daughter, or a Western mob that lynches a horse-thief. Among the Australian aborigines killing an intriguing wife is an every-day occurrence, though "chastity as a virtue is absolutely unknown amongst all the tribes of which there are records," as one of the best informed authorities, J.D. Wood, tells us (403). Detailed evidence that the same is true of the aborigines of all the continents will be given in later chapters. The natives usually share their females both before and after marriage; monopoly of body and soul—of which true jealousy is the guardian—is a conception beyond their moral horizon. A few more illustrations may be added.

Burton (T.T.G.L., II., 27) cites a writer who says that the natives of São Paulo had a habit of changing wives for a time, "alleging, in case of reproof, that they are not able to eat always of the same dish." Holub testifies (II., 83) that in South Africa jealousy "rarely shows itself very prominently;" and he uses the word in the widest sense. The fierce Masai lend their wives to guests. The Mpongwe of the Gaboon River send out their wives—with a club if necessary—to earn the wages of shame (Campiègne, 192). In Madagascar Ellis (137) found sensuality gross and universal, though concealed. Unchastity in either sex was not regarded as a vice, and on the birth of the king's daughter "the whole capital was given up to promiscuous debauchery." According to Mrs. French Sheldon (Anth. Inst., XXL, 360), all along the east coast of Africa no shame attaches to unchastity before marriage. It is needless to add that in all such cases punishment of a wife cannot be prompted by real jealousy for her "chastity." It is always a question of proprietorship. Cameron relates (Across Africa, II., Chap. IV.) that in Urua the chief boasted that he exercised a right to any woman who might please his fancy, when on his journeys about the country.

"Morals are very lax throughout the country, and wives are not thought badly of for being unfaithful; the worst they may expect being severe chastisement from the injured husband. But he never uses excessive violence for fear of injuring a valuable piece of household furniture."

When Du Chaillu travelled through Ashango Land King Quenqueza rose to receive him.

"With the figurative politeness of a negro chief, he assured me that his town, his forests, his slaves, his wives, were mine (he was quite sincere with regard to the last") (19).

Asia affords many instances of the absence of jealousy. Marco Polo already noted that in Thibet, when travellers arrived at a place, it was customary to distribute them in the houses, making them temporary masters of all they contained, including the women, while their husbands meanwhile lodged elsewhere. In Kamtschatka it was considered a great insult if a guest refused a woman thus offered him. Most astounding of all is what G.E. Robertson relates of the Kaffirs of Hindu-Kush (553):

"When a woman is discovered in an intrigue, a great outcry is made, and the neighbors rush to the scene with much laughter. A goat is sent for on the spot for a peace-making feast between the gallant and the husband. Of course the neighbors also partake of the feast; the husband and wife both look very happy, and so does every one else except the lover, who has to pay for the goat, and in addition will have to pay six cows later on."

Here we see a great value attached apparently to conjugal fidelity, but in reality an utter and ludicrous indifference to it.

Asia is also the chief home of polyandry, though, as we saw in the preceding chapter, this custom has prevailed on other continents too. The cases there cited to show the absence of monopoly also prove the absence of jealousy. The effect of polyandry is thus referred to by Colonel King (23):

"A Toda woman often has three or four husbands, who are all brothers, and with each of whom she cohabits a month at a time. What is more singular, such men as, by the paucity of women among the tribe, are prevented from obtaining a share in a wife, are allowed, with the permission of the fraternal husbands, to become temporary partners with them. Notwithstanding these singular family arrangements, the greatest harmony appears to prevail among all parties—husbands, wives, and lovers."

Whatever may have been the causes leading to the strange custom of marrying one woman to several men—poverty, the desire to reduce the population in mountainous regions, scarcity of women due to female infanticide, the need of protection of a woman during the absence of one husband—the fact stares us in the face that a race of men who calmly submit to such a disgusting practice cannot know jealousy. So, too, in the cases of jus primae noctis (referred to in the chapter on Indifference to Chastity), where the men not only submitted to an outrage so damnable to our sense of honor, affection, and monopoly, but actually coveted it as a privilege or a religious blessing and paid for it accordingly. Note once more how the sentiments associated with women and love change and grow.

Petherick says (151) that among the Hassangeh Arabs, marriages are valid only three or four days, the wives being free the rest of the time to make other alliances. The married men, far from feeling this a grievance,

"felt themselves highly flattered by any attentions paid to their better halves during their free-and-easy days. They seem to take such attentions as evidence that their wives are attractive."

A readiness to forgive trespasses for a consideration is widely prevalent. Powers says that with the California Indians "no adultery is so flagrant but the husband can be placated with money, at about the same rate that would be paid for murder." The Tasmanians illustrate the fact that the same tribes that are the most ferocious in the punishment of secret amours—that is, infringements on their property rights—are often the most liberal in lending their wives. As Bonwick tells us (72), they felt honored if white men paid attention to them. A circumstance which seems to have puzzled some naïve writers: that Australians and Africans have been known to show less "jealousy" of whites than of their own countrymen, finds an easy explanation in the greater ability of the white man to pay for the husband's complaisance. In some cases, in the absence of a fine, the husband takes his revenge in other ways, subjecting the culprit's wife to the same outrage (as among natives of Guiana and New Caledonia) or delivering his own guilty (or rather disobedient) wife to young men (as among the Omahas) and then abandoning her. The custom of accepting compensation for adultery prevailed also among Dyaks, Mandingoes, Kaffirs, Mongolians, Pahari and other tribes of India, etc. Falkner says (126) that among the Patagonians in cases of adultery the wife is not blamed, but the gallant is punished

"unless he atones for the injury by some valuable present. They have so little decency in this respect, that oftentimes, at the command of the wizards, they superstitiously send their wives to the woods to prostitute themselves to the first person they meet."


Enough has been said to prove the incorrectness of Westermarck's assertion (515) that the lack of jealousy is "a rare exception in the human race." Real jealousy, as a matter of fact, is unknown to the lower races, and even the feeling of revenge that passes by that name is commonly so feeble as to be obliterated by compensations of a more or less trifling kind. When we come to a stage of civilization like that represented by Persians and other Orientals, or by the ancient Greeks, we find that men are indeed no longer willing to lend their wives. They seem to have a regard for chastity and a desire for conjugal monopoly. Other important traits of modern jealousy are, however, still lacking, notably affection. The punishments are hideously cruel; they are still inflicted "in hate, not in love." In other words, the jealousy is not yet of the kind which may form an ingredient of love. Its essence is still "bloody thoughts and revenge."

Reich cites (256) a typical instance of Oriental ferocity toward an erring wife, from a book by J.J. Strauss, who relates that on June 9, 1671, a Persian avenged himself on his wife for a trespass by flaying her alive, and then, as a warning to other women, hanging up her skin in the house. Strauss saw with his own eyes how the flayed body was thrown into the street and dragged out into a field. Drowning in sacks, throwing from towers, and other fiendish modes of vengeance have prevailed in Persia as far back as historic records go; and the women, when they got a chance, were no better than the men. Herodotus relates how the wife of Xerxes, having found her husband's cloak in the house of Masista, cut off his wife's breasts and gave them to the dogs, besides mutilating her otherwise, as well as her daughter.

The monogamous Greeks were not often guilty of such atrocities, but their custom (nearly universal and not confined to Athens, as is often erroneously stated) of locking up their women in the interior of the houses, shutting them off from almost everything that makes life interesting, betrays a kind of jealousy hardly less selfish than that of the savages who disposed of their wives as they pleased. It practically made slaves and prisoners of them, quite in the Oriental style. Such a custom indicates an utter lack of sympathy and tenderness, not to speak of the more romantic ingredients of love, such as adoration and gallantry; and it implies a supreme contempt for and distrust of, character in wives, all the more reprehensible because the Greeks did not value purity per se but only for genealogical reason, as is proved by the honors they paid to the disreputable hetairai. There are surprisingly few references to masculine jealousy in Greek erotic literature. The typical Greek lover seems to have taken rivalry as blandly as the hero of Terence's play spoken of in the last chapter, who, after various outbursts of sentimentality, is persuaded, in a speech of a dozen lines, to share his mistress with a rich officer. Nor can I see anything but maudlin sentimentality in such conceits as Meleager utters in two of his poems (Anthology, 88, 93) in which he expresses jealousy of sleep, for its privilege of closing his mistress's eyes; and again of the flies which suck her blood and interrupt her slumber. The girl referred to is Zenophila, a common wanton (see No. 90). This is the sensual side of the Greek jealousy, chastity being out of the question.

The purely genealogical side of Greek masculine jealousy is strikingly revealed in the Medea of Euripides. Medea had, after slaying her own brother, left her country to go with Jason to Corinth. Here Jason, though he had two children by her, married the daughter of the King Creon. With brutal frankness, but quite in accordance with the selfish Greek ideas, he tries to explain to Medea the motives for his second marriage: that they might all dwell in comfort instead of suffering want,

"and that I might rear my sons as doth befit my house; further, that I might be the father of brothers for the children thou hast borne, and raise these to the same high rank, uniting the family in one—to my lasting bliss. Thou, indeed, hast no need of more children, but me it profits to help my present family by that which is to be. Have I miscarried here? Not even thou wouldst say so unless a rival's charms rankled in thy bosom. No, but you women have such strange ideas, that you think all is well so long as your married life runs smooth; but if some mischance occur to ruffle your love, all that was good and lovely erst you reckon as your foes. Yea, men should have begotten children from some other source, no female race existing; thus would no evil ever have fallen on mankind."

Jason, Greek-fashion, looked upon a woman's jealousy as mere unbridled lust, which must not be allowed to stand in the way of the men's selfish desire to secure filial worship of their precious shades after death. As Benecke remarks (56): "For a woman to wish to keep her husband to herself was a sign that she was at once unreasonable and lascivious." The women themselves were trained and persuaded to take this view. The chorus of Corinthian women admonishes Medea: "And if thy lord prefers a fresh love, be not angered with him for that; Zeus will judge 'twixt thee and him herein." Medea herself says to Jason: "Hadst thou been childless still, I could have pardoned thy desire for this new union." And again: "Hadst thou not had a villain's heart, thou shouldst have gained my consent, then made this match, instead of hiding it from those who loved thee"—a sentiment which would seem to us astounding and inexplicable had we not became familiar with it in the preceding pages relating to savages and barbarians, by whom what we call infidelity was considered unobjectionable, provided it was not done secretly.

By her subsequent actions Medea shows in other ways that her jealousy is entirely of the primitive sort—fiendish revenge proceeding from hate. Of the chorus she asks but one favor: "Silence, if haply I can some way or means devise to avenge me on my husband for this cruel treatment;" and the chorus agrees: "Thou wilt be taking a just vengeance on thy husband, Medea." Creon, having heard that she had threatened with mischief not only Jason but his bride and her father, wants her to leave the city. She replies, hypocritically:

"Fear me not, Creon, my position scarce is such that I should seek to quarrel with princes. Why should I, for how hast thou injured me? Thou hast betrothed thy daughter where thy fancy prompted thee. No, 'tis my husband I hate."

But as soon as the king has left her, she sends to the innocent bride a present of a beautifully embroidered robe, poisoned by witchcraft. As soon as the bride has put it on she turns pale, foam issues from her mouth, her eyeballs roll in their sockets, a flame encircles her, preying on her flesh. With an awful shriek she sinks to the earth, past all recognition save to the eye of her father, who folds her in his arms, crying, "Who is robbing me of thee, old as I am and ripe for death? Oh, my child! would I could die with thee!" And his wish is granted, for he

"found himself held fast by the fine-spun robe…and then ensued a fearful struggle. He strove to rise but she still held him back; and if ever he pulled with all his might, from off his bones his aged flesh he tore. At last he gave it up, and breathed forth his soul in awful suffering; for he could no longer master the pain."

Not content with this, Medea cruelly slays Jason's children—her own flesh and blood—not in a frenzied impulse, for she has meditated that from the beginning, but to further glut her revengeful spirit. "I did it," she says to Jason, "to vex thy heart." And when she hears of the effect of the garment she had sent to his bride, she implores the messenger, "Be not so hasty, friend, but tell the manner of her death, for thou wouldst give me double joy, if so they perished miserably."


A passion of which such horrors are a possible outcome may well have led Euripides to write: "Ah me! ah me! to mortal man how dread a scourge is love!" But this passion is not love, or part of love. The horrors of such "jealousy" are often witnessed in modern life, but not where true love—affection—ever had its abode. It is the jealousy of the savage, which still survives, as other low phases of sexual passion do. The records of missionaries and others who have dwelt among savages contain examples of deeds as foul, as irrational, as vindictive as Medea's; deeds in which, as in the play of Euripides, the fury is vented on innocent victims, while the real culprit escapes with his life and sometimes even derives amusement from the situation. In Oneota (187-90), Schoolcraft relates the story of an Indian's wife who entered the lodge when his new bride was sitting by his side and plunged a dagger in her heart. Among the Fuegians Bove found (131) that in polygamous households many a young favorite lost her life through the fury of the other wives. More frequently this kind of jealousy vents itself in mutilations. Williams, in his book on the Fijians (152), relates that one day a native woman was asked, "How is it that so many of you women are without a nose?" The answer was: "It grows out of a plurality of wives. Jealousy causes hatred, and then the stronger tries to cut or bite off the nose of the one she hates," He also relates a case where a wife, jealous of a younger favorite, "pounced on her, and tore her sadly with nails and teeth, and injured her mouth by attempting to slit it open," A woman who had for two years been a member of a polygamous family told Williams that contentions among the women were endless, that they knew no comfort, that the bitterest hatred prevailed, while mutual cursings and recriminations were of daily occurrence. When one of the wives is so unfortunate as to fall under the husband's displeasure too, the others "fall upon her, cuffing, kicking, scratching, and even trampling on the poor creature, so unmercifully as to leave her half dead." Bourne writes (89), that Patagonian women sometimes "fight like tigers. Jealousy is a frequent occasion. If a squaw suspects her liege lord of undue familiarity with a rival, she darts upon the fair enchantress with the fury of a wild beast; then ensues such a pounding, scratching, hair-pulling, as beggars description." Meanwhile the gay deceiver stands at a safe distance, chuckling at the fun. The licentiousness of these Indians, he says, is equal to their cruelty. Powers (238) gives this graphic picture of a domestic scene common among the Wintun Indians of California. A chief, he says, may have two or more wives, but the attempt to introduce a second frequently leads to a fight.

"The two women dispute for the supremacy, often in a desperate pitched battle with sharp stones, seconded by their respective friends. They maul each other's faces with savage violence, and if one is knocked down her friends assist her to regain her feet, and the brutal combat is renewed until one or the other is driven from the wigwam. The husband stands by and looks placidly on, and when all is over he accepts the situation, retaining in his lodge the woman who has conquered the territory."


As a rule, however, there is more bark than bite in the conduct of the wives of a polygamous household, as is proved by the ease with which the husband, if he cares to, can with words or presents overcome the objections of his first wife to new-comers; even, for instance, in the case of such advanced barbarians as the Omaha Indians, who are said to have actually allowed a wife to punish a faithless husband—an exception so rare as to be almost incredible. Dorsey says of the Omahas (26):

"When a man wishes to take a second wife he always consults his first wife, reasoning thus with her: 'I wish you to have less work to do, so I think of taking your sister, your aunt, or your brother's daughter for my wife. You can then have her to aid you with your work.' Should the first wife refuse, the man cannot marry the other woman. Generally no objection is offered, if the second woman be one of the kindred of the first wife. Sometimes the wife will make the proposition to her husband: 'I wish you to marry my brother's daughter, as she and I are one flesh.'"

Concerning the inhabitants of the Philippine island of Mindanao, a
German writer says (Zeit. für Ethn., 1885, 12):

"The wives are in no way jealous of one another; on the contrary, they are glad to get a new companion, as that enables them to share their work with another."

Schwaner says of the Borneans that if a man takes a second wife he pays to the first the batu saki, amounting to from sixty to one hundred guilders, and moreover he gives her presents, consisting of clothes, "in order to appease her completely," In reference to the tribes of Western Washington and Northwestern Oregon, Gibbs says (198):

"The accession of a new wife in the lodge very naturally produces jealousy and discord, and the first often returns for a time in dudgeon to her friends, to be reclaimed by her husband when he chooses, perhaps after propitiating her by some presents."

Such instances might be multiplied ad libitum.

In a still larger number of cases primitive woman's objection to rivals is easily overcome by the desire for the social position, wealth, and comfort which polygamy confers. I have already cited, in the chapter on Honorable Polygamy, a number of typical incidents showing how vanity, the desire to belong to a man who can afford several wives, or the wish to share the hard domestic or field work with others, often smothers the feeling of jealousy so completely that wives laugh at the idea of having their husbands all to themselves, beg them to choose other companions, or even use their own hard-earned money to buy them for their husbands. As this point is of exceptional importance, as evidencing radical changes in the ideas relating to sexual relations—and the resulting feelings themselves—further evidence is admissible.

Of the Plains Indians in general Colonel Dodge remarks (20):

"Jealousy would seem to have no place in the composition of an Indian woman, and many prefer to be, even for a time, the favorite of a man who already has a wife or wives, and who is known to be a good husband and provider, rather than tempt the precarious chances of an untried man."

And again:

"I have known several Indians of middle age, with already numerous wives and children, who were such favorites with the sex that they might have increased their number of wives to an unlimited extent had they been so disposed, and this, too, from among the very nicest girls of the tribe."

E.R. Smith, in his book on the Araucanians (213-14) tells of a Mapuché wife who, when he saw her,

"was frequently accompanied by a younger and handsomer woman than herself, whom she pointed out, with evident satisfaction, as her 'other self'—that is, her husband's wife number two, a recent addition to the family. Far from being dissatisfied, or entertaining any jealousy toward the newcomer, she said that she wished her husband would marry again; for she considered it a great relief to have someone to assist her in her household duties and in the maintenance of her husband."

McLean, who spent twenty-five years among the Tacullies and other Indians of the Hudson Bay region, says (301) that while polygamy prevails "the most perfect harmony seems to subsist among them." Hunter, who knew the Missouri and Arkansas Indians well, says (255) that "jealousy is a passion but little known, and much less indulged, among the Indians." In cases of polygamy the wives have their own lodges, separated by a short distance. They "occasionally visit each other, and generally live on the most friendly terms." But even this separation is not necessary, as we see from Catlin, who relates (I., 119) that among the Mandans it is common to see six or eight wives of a chief or medicine man "living under one roof, and all apparently quiet and contented."

In an article on the Zulus (Humanitarian, March, 1897), Miss Colenso refers to the fact that while polygamy is the custom, each wife has her own hut, wherefore

"you have none of the petty jealousies and quarrelling which distinguish the harems of the East, among the Zulu women, who, as a rule, are most friendly to each other, and the many wives of a great chief will live in a little colony of huts, each mistress in her own house and family, and interchanging friendly visits with the other ladies similarly situated."

But in Africa, too, separation is not essential to secure a peaceful result. Paulitschke (B.E.A.S., 30) reports that among the Somali polygamy is customary, two wives being frequent, and he adds that "the wives live together in harmony and have their household in common." Among the Abyssinian Arabs, Sir Samuel Baker found (127) that "concubinage is not considered a breach of morality; neither is it regarded by the legitimate wives with jealousy." Chillié (Centr. Afr., 158), says of the Landamas and Nalous: "It is very remarkable that good order and perfect harmony prevail among all these women who are called to share the same conjugal couch." The same writer says of the polygamous Foulahs (224):

"In general the women appear very happy, and by no means jealous of each other, except when the husbands make a present to one without giving anything to the rest."

Note the last sentence; it casts a strong light on our problem. It suggests that even where a semblance of jealousy is manifested by such women it may often be an entirely different thing from the jealousy we associate with love; envy, greed, or rivalry being more accurate terms for it. Here is another instance in point. Drake, in his work on the Indians of the United States has the following (I., 178):

"Where there is a plurality of wives, if one gets finer goods than the others, there is sure to be some quarrelling among the women; and if one or two of them are not driven off, it is because the others have not strength enough to do so. The man sits and looks on, and lets the women fight it out. If the one he loves most is driven off, he will go and stay with her, and leave the others to shift for themselves awhile, until they can behave better, as he says."

The Rev. Peter Jones gives this description (81) of a fight he witnessed between the two wives of an Ojibway chief:

"The quarrel arose from the unequal distribution of a loaf of bread between the children. The husband being absent, the wife who had brought the bread to the wigwam gave a piece of it to each child, but the best and largest portion to her own. Such partiality immediately led to a quarrel. The woman who brought the bread threw the remainder in anger to the other; she as quickly cast it back again; in this foolish way they kept on for some time, till their fury rose to such a height that they at length sprang at one another, catching hold of the hair of the head; and when each had uprooted a handful their ire seemed satisfied."

To make clear the difference between such ebullitions of temper and the passion properly called jealousy, let us briefly sum up the contents of this chapter. In its first stage it is a mere masculine rage in presence of a rival. An Australian female in such a case calmly goes off with the victor. A savage looks upon his wife, not as a person having rights and feelings of her own, but as a piece of property which he has stolen or bought, and may therefore do with whatever he pleases. In the second stage, accordingly, women are guarded like other movable property, infringement on which is fiercely resented and avenged, though not from any jealous regard for chastity, for the same husband who savagely punishes his wife for secret adultery, willingly lends her to guests as a matter of hospitality, or to others for a compensation. In some cases the husband's "wounded feelings" may be cured by the payment of a fine, or subjecting the culprit's wife to indignities. At a higher stage, where some regard is paid to chastity—at least in the women reserved for genealogical purposes—masculine jealousy is still of the sensual type, which leads to the life-long imprisonment of women in order to enforce a fidelity which in the absence of true love could not be secured otherwise. As for the wives in primitive households, they often indulge in "jealous" squabbles, but their passion, though it may lead to manifestations of rage and to fierce and cruel fights, is after all only skin deep, for it is easily overcome with soft words, presents, or the desire for the social position and comfort which can be secured in the house of a man who is wealthy enough to marry several women—especially if the husband is rich and wise enough to keep the women in separate lodges; though even that is often unnecessary.

There is no difficulty in understanding why primitive feminine "jealousy," despite seeming exceptions, should have been so shallow and transient a feeling. Everything conspired to make it so. From the earliest times the men made systematic efforts to prevent the growth of that passion in women because it interfered with their own selfish desires. Hearne says of the women of the Northern Indians that "they are kept so much in awe of their husbands, that the liberty of thinking is the greatest privilege they enjoy" (310); and A.H. Keane (Journ. of Anthrop. Inst., 1883) remarks that while the Botocudos often indulge in fierce outbreaks of jealousy, "the women have not yet acquired the right to be jealous, a sentiment implying a certain degree of equality between the sexes." Everywhere the women were taught to subordinate themselves to the men, and among the Hindoos as among the Greeks, by the ancient Hebrews as well as by the mediaeval Arabs freedom from jealousy was inculcated as a supreme virtue. Rachel actually fancied she was doing a noble thing in giving her handmaids to Jacob as concubines. Lane (246) quotes the Arab historian El-Jabartee, who said of his first wife:

"Among her acts of conjugal piety and submission was this that she used to buy for her husband beautiful slave girls, with her own wealth, and deck them with ornaments and apparel, and so present them to him confidently looking to the reward and recompense which she should receive [in Paradise] for such conduct."

"In case of failure of an heir," says Griffis, in his famous work on Japan (557), "the husband is fully justified, often strongly advised even by his wife, to take a handmaid to raise up seed to preserve their ancestral line." A Persian instance is given by Ida Pfeiffer (261), who was introduced at Tabreez to the wives of Behmen-Mirza, concerning whom she writes:

"They presented to me the latest addition to the harem—a plump brown little beauty of sixteen; and they seemed to treat their new rival with great good nature and told me how much trouble they had been taking to teach her Persian."


Casting back a glance over the ground traversed, we see that women as well as men—primitive, ancient, oriental—were either strangers to jealousy of any kind, or else knew it only as a species of anger, hatred, cruelty, and selfish sensuality; never as an ingredient of love. Australian women, Lumholtz tells us (203), "often have bitter quarrels about men whom they love[19] and are anxious to marry. If the husband is unfaithful, the wife frequently becomes greatly enraged." As chastity is not by Australians regarded as a duty or a virtue, such conduct can only be explained by referring to what Roth, for instance, says (141) in regard to the Kalkadoon. Among these, where a man may have as many as four or five wives,

"the discarded ones will often, through jealousy, fight with her whom they consider more favored; on such occasions they may often resort to stone-throwing, or even use fire-sticks and stone-knives with which to mutilate the genitals."

Similarly, various cruel disfigurements of wives by husbands or other wives, previously referred to as customary among savages, have their motive in the desire to mar the charms of a rival or a disobedient conjugal slave. The Indian chief who bites off an intriguing wife's nose or lower lip takes, moreover, a cruel delight at sight of the pain he inflicts—a delight of which he would be incapable were he capable of love. To such an Indian, Shakspere's lines

     But O, what damned minutes tells he o'er
     Who dotes yet doubts, suspects, yet strongly loves,

would be as incomprehensible as a Beethoven symphony. With his usual genius for condensation, Shakspere has in those two lines given the essentials of true jealousy—suspicion causing agony rather than anger, and proceeding from love, not from hate. The fear, distress, humiliation, anguish of modern jealousy are in the mind of the injured husband. He suffers torments, but has no wish to torment either of the guilty ones. There are, indeed, even in civilized countries, husbands who slay erring wives; but they are not civilized husbands: like Othello, they still have the taint of the savage in them. Civilized husbands resort to separation, not to mutilation or murder; and in dismissing the guilty wife, they punish themselves more than her—for she has shown by her actions that she does not love him and therefore cannot feel the deepest pang of the separation. There is no anger, no desire for revenge.

     How comes this gentle concord in the world,
     That hatred is so far from jealousy?

It comes in the world through love—through the fact that a man—or a woman—who truly loves, cannot tolerate even the thought of punishing one who has held first place in his or her affections. Modern law emphasizes the essential point when it punishes adultery because of "alienation of the affections."


Thus, whereas the "jealousy" of the savage who is transported by his sense of proprietorship to bloody deeds and to revenge is a most ignoble passion, incompatible with love, the jealousy of modern civilization has become a noble passion, justified by moral ideals and affection—"a kind of godly jealousy which I beseech you call a virtuous sin."

     Where Love reigns, disturbing Jealousy
     Doth call himself Affection's sentinel.

And let no one suppose that by purging itself of bloody violence, hatred, and revenge, and becoming the sentinel of affection, jealousy has lost any of its intensity. On the contrary, its depth is quintupled. The bluster and fury of savage violence is only a momentary ebullition of sensual passion, whereas the anguish of jealousy as we feel it is

            Agony unmix'd, incessant gall,
     Corroding every thought, and blasting all
     Love's paradise.

Anguish of mind is infinitely more intense than mere physical pain, and the more cultivated the mind, the deeper is its capacity for such "agony unmix'd." Mental anguish doth, like a poisonous mineral, gnaw the inwards, and create a condition in which "not poppy, nor mandragora, nor all the drowsy syrups of the world shall ever medicine" the victim to that sleep which he enjoyed before. His heart is turned to stone; he strikes it and it hurts his hand. Trifles light as air are proofs to him that his suspicions are realities, and life is no longer worth living.

                             O now for ever
     Farewell the tranquil mind! farewell content!
     Farewell the plumed troop, and the big wars
     That make ambition virtue!


The assertion that modern jealousy is a noble passion is of course to be taken with reservations. Where it leads to murder or revenge it is a reversion to the barbarous type, and apart from that it is, like all affections of the mind, liable to abnormal and morbid states. Harry Campbell writes in the Lancet (1898) that

"the inordinate development of this emotion always betokens a neurotic diathesis, and not infrequently indicates the oncoming of insanity. It is responsible for much useless suffering and not a little actual disease."

Dr. O'Neill gives a curious example of the latter, in the same periodical. He was summoned to a young woman who informed him that she wished to be cured of jealousy: "I am jealous of my husband, and if you do not give me something I shall go out of my mind." The husband protested his innocence and declared there was no cause whatever for her accusations:

"The wife persisted in reiterating them and so the wrangle went on till suddenly she fell from her chair on the floor in a fit, the spasmodic movements of which were so strange and varied that it would be almost impossible to describe them. At one moment the patient was extended at full length with her body arched forward in a state of opisthotonos. The next minute she was in a sitting position with the legs drawn up, making, while her hands clutched her throat, a guttural noise. Then she would throw herself on her back and thrust her arms and legs about to the no small danger of those around her. Then becoming comparatively quiet and supine she would quiver all over while her eyelids trembled with great rapidity. This state perhaps would be followed by general convulsive movements in which she would put herself into the most grotesque postures and make the most unlovely grimaces. At last the fit ended, and exhausted and in tears she was put to bed. The patient was a lithe, muscular woman and to restrain her movements during the attack with the assistance at hand was a matter of impossibility, so all that could be done was to prevent her injuring herself and to sprinkle her freely with cold water. The after-treatment was more geographical than medical. The husband ceased doing business in a certain town where the object of his wife's suspicions lived."

I have been told by a perfectly healthy married woman that when jealous of her husband she felt a sensation as of some liquid welling up in her throat and suffocating her. Pride came into play in part; she did not want others to think that her husband preferred an ignorant girl to her—a woman of great physical and mental charm.

Such jealousy, if unfounded, may be of the "self-harming" kind of which one of Shakspere's characters exclaims "Fie! beat it hence!" Too often, however, women have cause for jealousy, as modern civilized man has not overcome the polygamous instincts he has inherited from his ancestors since time immemorial. But whereas cause for feminine jealousy has existed always, the right to feel it is a modern acquisition. Moreover, while Apache wives were chaste from fear and Greek women from necessity, modern civilized women are faithful from the sense of honor, duty, affection, and in return for their devotion they expect men to be faithful for the same reasons. Their jealousy has not yet become retrospective, like that of the men; but they justly demand that after marriage men shall not fall below the standard of purity they have set up for the women, and they insist on a conjugal monopoly of the affections as strenuously as the men do. In due course of time, as Dr. Campbell suggests, "we may expect the monogamous instinct in man to be as powerful as in some of the lower animals; and feminine jealousy will help to bring about this result; for if women were indifferent on this point men would never improve."


The jealousy of romantic love, preceding marriage, differs from the jealousy of conjugal love in so far as there can be no claim to a monopoly of affection where the very existence of any reciprocated affection still remains in doubt. Before the engagement the uncertain lover in presence of a rival is tortured by doubt, anxiety, fear, despair, and he may violently hate the other man, though (as I know from personal experience) not necessarily, feeling that the rival has as much claim to the girl's attention as he has. Duels between rival lovers are not only silly, but are an insult to the girl, to whom the choice ought to be submitted and the verdict accepted manfully. A man who shoots the girl herself, because she loves another and refuses him, puts himself on a level below the lowest brute, and cannot plead either true love or true jealousy as his excuse. After the engagement the sense of monopoly and the consciousness of plighted troth enter into the lover's feelings, and intruders are properly warded off with indignation. In romantic jealousy the leading role is played by the imagination; it loves to torture its victim by conjuring visions of the beloved smiling on a rival, encircled by his arm, returning his kisses. Everything feeds his suspicions; he is "dwelling in a continual 'larum of jealousy." Oft his jealousy "shapes faults that are not" and he taints his heart and brain with needless doubt. "Ten thousand fears invented wild, ten thousand frantic views of horrid rivals, hanging on the charms for which he melts in fondness, eat him up." Such passion inflames love but corrodes the soul. In perfect love, as I said at the beginning of this chapter, jealousy is potential only, not actual.


When a man is in love he wears his heart on his sleeve and feels eager to have the beloved see how passionately it throbs for her. When a girl is in love she tries to conceal her heart in the innermost recesses of her bosom, lest the lover discover her feelings prematurely. In other words, coyness is a trait of feminine love—the only ingredient of that passion which is not, to some extent, common to both sexes. "The cruel nymph well knows to feign, … coy looks and cold disdain," sang Gay; and "what value were there in the love of the maiden, were it yielded without coy delay?" asks Scott.

     'Tis ours to be forward and pushing;
     'Tis yours to affect a disdain,

Lady Montagu makes a man say, and Richard Savage sings:

     You love; yet from your lover's wish retire;
     Doubt, yet discern; deny, and yet desire.
     Such, Polly, are your sex—part truth, part fiction,
     Some thought, much whim, and all a contradiction.

"Part truth, part fiction;" the girl romances regarding her feelings; her romantic love is tinged with coyness. "She will rather die than give any sign of affection," says Benedick of Beatrice; and in that line Shakspere reveals one of the two essential traits of genuine modern coyness—dissemblance of feminine affection.

Was coyness at all times an attribute of femininity, or is it an artificial product of modern social conditions and culture? Is coyness ever manifested apart from love, or does its presence prove the presence of love? These two important questions are to be answered in the present section.


The opinion prevails that everywhere and always the first advances were made by the men, the women being passive, and coyly reserved. This opinion—like many other notions regarding the relations of the sexes—rests on ignorance, pure ignorance. In collecting the scattered facts bearing on this subject I have been more and more surprised at the number of exceptions to the rule, if, indeed, rule it be. Not only are there tribes among whom women must propose—as in the Torres Straits Islands, north of Australia, and with the Garos of India, concerning whom interesting details will be given in later chapters; but among many other savages and barbarians the women, instead of repelling advances, make them.

"In all Polynesia," says Gerland (VI., 127), "it was a common occurrence that the women wooed the men." "A proposal of marriage," writes Gill (Savage Life in Polynesia, II.), "may emanate with propriety from a woman of rank to an equal or an inferior." In an article on Fijian poetry (731-53), Sir Arthur Gordon cites the following native poem:

     The girls of Vunivanua all had lovers,
     But I, poor I, had not even one.
     Yet I fell desperately in love one day,
     My eye was filled with the beauty of Vasunilawedua.
     She ran along the beach, she called the canoe-men.
     She is conveyed to the town where her beloved dwells.
     Na Ulumatua sits in his canoe unfastening its gear.
     He asks her, "Why have you come here, Sovanalasikula?"
     "They have been falling in love at Vunivanua," she answers;
     "I, too, have fallen in love. I love your lovely son,
     Na Ulumatua rose to his feet. He loosened a tambua whale's
          tooth from the canoe.
     "This," he said, presenting it to her, "is my offering to
          you for your return. My son cannot wed you, lady."
     Tears stream from her eyes, they stream down on her breast.
     "Let me only live outside his house," she says;
     "I will sleep upon the wood-pile. If I may only light his
          seluka [cigarrette] for him, I shall rejoice.
     If I may only hear his voice from a distance, it will
          suffice. Life will be pleasant to me."
     Na Ulumatua replied, "Be magnanimous, lady, and return.
     We have many girls of our own. Return to your own land.
     Vasunilawedua cannot wed a stranger."
     Sovanalasikula went away crying.
     She returned to her own town, forlorn.
     Her life was sadness.
     Ia nam bosulu.

Tregear (102) describes the "wooing house" in which New Zealand girls used to stand up in the dark and say: "I love so-and-so, I want him for a husband;" whereupon the chosen lover, if willing, would say yes, or cough to signify his assent. Among the Pueblo Indians

"the usual order of courtship is reversed; when a girl is disposed to marry, she does not wait for a young man to propose to her, but selects one to her own liking and consults her father, who visits the parents of the youth and acquaints them with his daughter's wishes. It seldom happens that any objections to the match are made" (Bancroft, I., 547);

and concerning the Spokane Indians the same writer says (276) that a girl "may herself propose if she wishes." Among the Moquis, "instead of the swain asking the hand of the fair one, she selects the young man who is to her fancy, and then her father proposes the match to the sire of the lucky youth" (Schoolcraft, IV., 86). Among the Dariens, says Heriot (325), "it is considered no mark of forwardness" in a woman "openly to avow her inclination," and in Paraguay, too, women were allowed to propose (Moore, 261). Indian girls of the Hudson River region

"were not debarred signifying their desire to enter matrimonial life. When one of them wished to be married, she covered her face with a veil and sat covered as an indication of her desire. If she attracted a suitor, negotiations were opened with parents or friends, presents given, and the bride taken" (Ruttenber).

A comic mode of catching a husband is described in an episode from the tale "Owasso and Wayoond" (Schoolcraft, A.R. II., 210-11):

"Manjikuawis was forward in her advances toward him. He, however, paid no attention to it, and shunned her. She continued to be very assiduous in attending to his wants, such as cooking and mending his mocassins. She felt hurt and displeased at his indifference, and resolved to play him a trick. Opportunity soon offered. The lodge was spacious, and she dug a hole in the ground, where the young man usually sat, covering it very carefully. When the brothers returned from the chase the young man threw himself down carelessly at the usual place, and fell into the cavity, his head and feet remaining out, so that he was unable to extricate himself. 'Ha! ha!' cried Manjikuawis, as she helped him out, 'you are mine, I have caught you at last, and I did it on purpose.' A smile came over the young man's face, and he said, 'So be it, I will be yours;' and from that moment they lived happily as man and wife."

It was a common thing among various Indian tribes for the women to court distinguished warriors; and though they might have no choice in the matter, they could at any rate place themselves temptingly in the way of these braves, who, on their part, had no occasion to be coy, since they could marry all the squaws they pleased. The squaws, too, did not hesitate to indulge, if not in two husbands, in more than one lover. Commenting on the Mandans, for instance, Maximilian Prinz zu Wied declares (II., 127) that "coyness is not a virtue of the Indian women; they often have two or three lovers at a time." Among the Pennsylvania Indians it was a common thing for a girl to make suit to a young man.

"Though the first address may be by the man, yet the other is the most common. The squaws are generally very immodest in their words and actions, and will often put the young men to the blush. The men commonly appear to be possessed of much more modesty than the women." (Bancroft, II., 140.)

Even a coating of culture does not seem to curb the young squaw's propensity to make the first advances. Captain R.H. Pratt (U.S. Geol. and G.S., IX., 260), of the Carlisle School, relates an amusing story of a Kiowa young man who, under a variety of circumstances, "never cared for girl. 'But when Laura say she love me, then I began to care for girl.'"

In his First Footsteps (85, 86) Burton gives a glimpse of the "coyness" of Bedouin women:

"We met a party of Esa girls, who derided my color and doubted the fact of my being a Moslem. The Arabs declared me to be a shaykh of shaykhs, and translated to the prettiest of the party an impromptu proposal of marriage. She showed but little coyness and stated her price to be an Andulli or necklace, a couple of Tobes—she asked one too many—a few handfuls of beads, and a small present for her papa. She promised, naïvely enough, to call next day and inspect the goods. The publicity of the town did not deter her, but the shamefacedness of my two companions prevented our meeting again."

In his book on Southern Abyssinia Johnston relates how, while staying at Murroo, he was strongly recommended to follow the example of his companions and take a temporary wife. There was no need of hunting for helpmates—they offered themselves of their own accord. One of the girls who presented herself as a candidate was stated by her friends to be a very strong woman, who had already had four or five husbands. "I thought this a rather strange recommendation," he adds, "but it was evidently mentioned that she might find favor in my eyes." He found that the best way out of such a dilemma was to engage the first old hag that came along and leave it to her to ward off the others. Masculine coyness under such conditions has its risks. Johnston mentions the case of an Arab who, in the region of the Muzeguahs, scorned a girl who wanted to be his temporary wife; whereupon "the whole tribe asserted he had treated them with contempt by his haughty conduct toward the girl, and demanded to know if she was not good enough for him." He had to give them some brass wire and blue sood before he could allay the national indignation aroused by his refusal to take the girl. Women have rights which must be respected, even in Africa!

In Dutch Borneo there is a special kind of "marriage by stratagem" called matep. If a girl desires a particular man he is inveigled into her house, the door is shut, the walls are hung with cloth of different colors and other ornaments, dinner is served up and he is informed of the girl's wish to marry him. If he declines, he is obliged to pay the value of the hangings and the ornaments. (Roth, II., CLXXXI.)

"Uncertain, coy, and hard to please" obviously cannot be sung of such women.

In one of the few native Australian stories on record the two wives of a man are represented as going to his brother's hut when he was asleep, and imitating the voice of an emu. The noise woke him, and he took his spear to kill them; but as soon as he ran out the two women spoke and requested him to be their husband. (Wood's Native Tribes, 210.)

The fact that Australian women have absolutely no choice in the assignment of husbands, must make them inclined to offer themselves to men they like, just as Indian girls offer themselves to noted warriors in the hope of thus calling attention to their personal attractions. As we shall see later, one of the ways in which an Australian wins a wife is by means of magic. In this game, as Spencer and Gillen tell us (556), the women sometimes take the initiative, thus inducing a man to elope with them.


The English language is a queer instrument of thought. While coyness has the various meanings of shyness, modest reserve, bashfulness, shrinking from advances or familiarity, disdainfulness, the verb "to coy" may mean the exact opposite—to coax, allure, entice, woo, decoy. It is in this sense that "coyness" is obviously a trait of primitive maidens. What is more surprising is to find in brushing aside prejudice and preconceived notions, that among ancient nations too it is in this second sense rather than in the first that women are "coy." The Hebrew records begin with the story of Adam and Eve, in which Eve is stigmatized as the temptress. Rebekah had never seen the man chosen for her by her male relatives, yet when she was asked if she would go with his servant, she answered, promptly, "I will go." Rachel at the well suffers her cousin to kiss her at first sight. Ruth does all the courting which ends in making her the wife of Boaz. There is no shrinking from advances, real or feigned, in any of these cases; no suggestion of disguised feminine affection; and in two of them the women make the advances. Potiphar's wife is another biblical case. The word coy does not occur once in the Bible.

The idea that women are the aggressors, particularly in criminal amours, is curiously ingrained in the literature of ancient Greece. In the Odyssey we read about the fair-haired goddess Circe, decoying the companions of Odysseus with her sweet voice, giving them drugs and potions, making them the victims of swinish indulgence of their appetites. When Odysseus comes to their rescue she tries to allure him too, saying, "Nay, then, pat up your blade within its sheath, and let us now approach our bed that there we too may join in love and learn to trust each other." Later on Odysseus has his adventure with the Sirens, who are always "casting a spell of penetrating song, sitting within a meadow," in order to decoy passing sailors. Charybdis is another divine Homeric female who lures men to ruin. The island nymph Calypso rescues Odysseus and keeps him a prisoner to her charms, until after seven years he begins to shed tears and long for home "because the nymph pleased him no more." Nor does the human Nausicäa manifest the least coyness when she meets Odysseus at the river. Though he has been cast on the shore naked, she remains, after her maids have run away alarmed, and listens to his tale of woe. Then, after seeing him bathed, anointed, and dressed, she exclaims to her waiting maids: "Ah, might a man like this be called my husband, having his home here and content to stay;" while to him later on she gives this broad hint: "Stranger, farewell! when you are once again in your own land, remember me, and how before all others it is to me you owe the saving of your life."

Nausicäa is, however, a prude compared with the enamoured woman as the Greek poets habitually paint her. Pausanias (II., Chap. 31), speaking of a temple of Peeping Venus says:

"From this very spot the enamoured Phaedra used to watch Hippolytus at his manly exercises. Here still grows the myrtle with pierced leaves, as I am told. For being at her wit's ends and finding no ease from the pangs of love, she used to wreak her fury on the leaves of this myrtle."

Professor Rohde, the most erudite authority on Greek erotic literature, writes (34):

"It is characteristic of the Greek popular tales which Euripides followed, in what might be called his tragedies of adultery, that they always make the woman the vehicle of the pernicious passion; it seems as if Greek feeling could not conceive of a man being seized by an unmanly soft desire and urged on by it to passionate disregard of all human conventions and laws."


Greek poets from Stesichorus to the Alexandrians are fond of representing coy men. The story told by Athenaeus (XIV., ch. 11) of Harpalyke, who committed suicide because the youth Iphiclus coyly spurned her, is typical of a large class. No less significant is the circumstance that when the coy backwardness happens to be on the side of a female, she is usually a woman of masculine habits, devoted to Diana and the chase. Several centuries after Christ we still find in the romances an echo of this thoroughly Greek sentiment in the coy attitude, at the beginning, of their youthful heroes.[20]

The well-known legend of Sappho—who flourished about a thousand years before the romances just referred to were written—is quite in the Greek spirit. It is thus related by Strabo:

"There is a white rock which stretches out from Leucas to the sea and toward Cephalonia, that takes its name from its whiteness. The rock of Leucas has upon it a temple of Apollo, and the leap from it was supposed to stop love. From this it is said that Sappho first, as Menander says somewhere, in pursuit of the haughty Phaon, urged on by maddening desire, threw herself from its far-seen rocks, imploring thee [Apollo], lord and king."

Four centuries after Sappho we find Theocritus harping on the same theme. His Enchantress is a monologue in which a woman relates how she made advances to a youth and won him. She saw him walking along the road and was so smitten that she was prostrated and confined to her bed for ten days. Then she sent her slave to waylay the youth, with these instructions: "If you see him alone, say to him: 'Simaitha desires you,' and bring him here." In this case the youth is not coy in the least; but the sequel of the story is too bucolic to be told here.


It is well-known that the respectable women of Greece, especially the virgins, were practically kept under lock and key in the part of the house known as the gynaikonitis. This resulted in making them shy and bashful—but not coy, if we may judge from the mirror of life known as literature. Ramdohr observes, pertinently (III., 270):

"Remarkable is the easy triumph of lovers over the innocence of free-born girls, daughters of citizens, examples of which may be found in the Eunuchus and Adelphi of Terence. They call attention to the low opinion the ancients had of a woman's power to guard her sensual impulses, and of her own accord resist attacks on her honor."

The Abbé Dubois says the same thing about Hindoo girls, and the reason why they are so carefully guarded. It is hardly necessary to add that since no one would be so foolish as to call a man honest who refrains from stealing merely because he has no opportunity, it is equally absurd to call a woman honest or coy who refrains from vice only because she is locked up all the time. The fact (which seems to give Westermarck (64-65) much satisfaction), that some Australians, American Indian and other tribes watch young girls so carefully, does not argue the prevalence of chaste coyness, but the contrary. If the girls had an instinctive inclination to repel improper advances it would not be necessary to cage and watch them. This inclination is not inborn, does not characterize primitive women, but is a result of education and culture.


Greatly as Greeks and Indians differ in some respects, they have two things in common—a warlike spirit and contempt for women. "When Greek meets Greek then comes a tug of war," and the Indian's chief delight is scalp hunting. The Greeks, as Rohde notes (42),

"depict their greatest heroes as incited to great deeds only by eagerness for battle and desire for glory. The love of women barely engages their attention transiently in hours of idleness."

Militarism is ever hostile to love except in its grossest forms. It brutalizes the men and prevents the growth of feminine qualities, coyness among others. Hence, wherever militarism prevails, we seek in vain for feminine reserve. An interesting illustration of this may be found in a brochure by Theodor Krabbes, Die Frau im Altfranzösischen Karls-Epos (9-38). The author, basing his inferences on an exhaustive study and comparison of the Chansons de Geste of the eleventh and twelfth centuries, draws the following general conclusions:

"Girlish shyness is not a trait of the daughters, least of all those of heathen origin. Masculine tendencies characterize them from childhood. Fighting pleases them and they like to look on when there is a battle…. Love plays an important role in nearly all the Chansons de Geste…. The woman wooes, the man grants: nearly always in these epics we read of a woman who loves, rarely of one who is loved…. In the very first hour of their acquaintance the girl is apt to yield herself entirely to the chosen knight, and she persists in her passion for him even if she is entirely repulsed. There is no more rest for her. Either she wooes him in person, or chooses a messenger who invites the coveted man to a rendezvous. The heathen woman who has to guard captured Franks and who has given her heart to one of them, hies herself to the dungeon and offers him her love. She begs for his love in return and seeks in every way to win it. If he resists, she curses him, makes his lot less endurable, withholds his food or threatens him with death until he is willing to accede to her wishes. If this has come to pass she overwhelms him with caresses at the first meeting. She is eager to have them reciprocated; often the lover is not tender enough to please her, then she repeatedly begs for kisses. She embraces him delightedly even though he be in full armor and in presence of all his companions. Girlish shyness and modest backwardness are altogether foreign to her nature…. She never has any moral scruples…. If he is unwilling to give up his campaign, she is satisfied to let him go the next morning if he will only marry her.

"The man is generally described as cold in love. References to a knight's desire for a woman's love are very scant, and only once do we come across a hero who is quite in love. The young knight prefers more serious matters; his first desire is to win fame in battle, make rich booty.[21] He looks on love as superfluous, indeed he is convinced that it incapacitates him from what he regards as his proper life-task. He also fears the woman's infidelity. If he allows her to persuade him to love, he seeks material gain from it; delivery from captivity, property, vassals…. The lover is often tardy, careless, too deficient in tenderness, so that the woman has to chide him and invite his caresses. A rendezvous is always brought about only through her efforts, and she alone is annoyed if it is disturbed too soon. Even when the man desires a woman, he hardly appears as a wooer. He knows he is sure of the women's favor; they make it easy for him; he can have any number of them if he belongs to a noble family…. Even when the knight is in love—which is very rare—the first advances are nearly always made by the woman; it is she who proposes marriage.

"Marriage as treated in the epics is seldom based on love. The woman desires wedlock, because she hopes thereby to secure her rights and better her chances of protection. It is for this reason that we see her so often eagerly endeavoring to secure a promise of marriage."


Sufficient evidence has now been adduced to make it clear that the first of the two questions posed at the outset of this chapter must be answered in the negative. Coyness is not an innate or universal trait of femininity, but is often absent, particularly where man's absorption in war and woman's need of protection prevent its growth and induce the females to do the courting. This being the case and war being the normal state of the lower races, our next task is to ascertain what were the influences that induced woman to adopt the habit of repelling advances instead of making them. It is one of the most interesting questions in sexual psychology, which has never been answered satisfactorily; it and gains additional interest from the fact that we find among the most ancient and primitive races phenomena which resemble coyness and have been habitually designated as such. As we shall see in a moment, this is an abuse of language, confounding genuine resistance or aversion with coyness.

Chinese maidens often feel so great an aversion to marriage as practised in their country that they prefer suicide to it. Douglas says (196) that Chinese women often ask English ladies, "Does your husband beat you?" and are surprised if answered "No." The gallant Chinaman calls his wife his "dull thorn," and there are plenty of reasons apart from Confucian teachings why "for some days before the date fixed, the bride assumes all the panoply of woe, and weeps and wails without ceasing." She is about to face the terrible ordeal of being confronted for the first time with the man who has been chosen for her, and who may be the ugliest, vilest wretch in the world—possibly even a leper, such cases being on record. Douglas (124) reports the case of six girls who committed suicide together to avoid marriage. There exist in China anti-matrimonial societies of girls and young widows, the latter doubtless, supplying the experience that serves as the motive for establishing such associations.

Descending to the lowest stratum of human life as witnessed in Australia, we find that, as Meyer asserts (11), the bride appears "generally to go very unwillingly" to the man she has been assigned to. Lumholtz relates that the man seizes the woman by the wrists and carries her off "despite her screams, which can be heard till she is a mile away." "The women," he says, "always make resistance; for they do not like to leave their tribe, and in many instances they have the best of reasons for kicking their lovers." What are these reasons? As all observers testify, they are not allowed any voice in the choice of their husbands. They are usually bartered by their father or brothers for other women, and in many if not most cases the husbands assigned to them are several times their age. Before they are assigned to a particular man the girls indulge in promiscuous intercourse, whereas after marriage they are fiercely guarded. They may indeed attempt to elope with another man more suited to their age, but they do so at the risk of cruel injury and probable death. The wives have to do all the drudgery; they get only such food as the husbands do not want, and on the slightest suspicion of intrigue they are maltreated horribly. Causes enough surely for their resistance to obligatory marriage. This resistance is a frank expression of genuine unwillingness, or aversion, and has nothing in common with real coyness, which signifies the mere semblance of unwillingness on the part of a woman who is at least half-willing. Such expressions as Goldsmith's "the coy maid, half willing to be pressed," and Dryden's

     When the kind nymph would coyness feign,
     And hides but to be found again,

indicate the nature of true coyness better than any definitions. There are no "coy looks," no "feigning" in the actions of an Australian girl about to be married to a man who is old enough to be her grandfather. The "cold disdain" is real, not assumed, and there is no "dissemblance of feminine affection."


The same reasoning applies to the customs attending wife-capturing in general, which has prevailed in all parts of the world and still prevails in some regions. To take one or two instances of a hundred that might be cited from books of travel in all parts of the world: Columbus relates that the Caribs made the capture of women the chief object of their expeditions. The California Indians worked up their warlike spirit by chanting a song the substance of which was, "let us go and carry off girls" (Waitz, IV., 242). Savages everywhere have looked upon women as legitimate spoils of war, desirable as concubines and drudges. Now even primitive women are attached to their homes and relatives, and it is needless to say their resistance to the enemy who has just slain their father and brothers and is about to carry them off to slavery, is genuine, and has no more trace of coyness in it than the actions of an American girl who resists the efforts of unknown kidnappers to drag her from her home.

But besides real capture of women there has existed, and still exists in many countries, what is known as sham-capture—a custom which has puzzled anthropologists sorely. Herbert Spencer illustrates it (P.S., I., § 288) by citing Crantz, who says, concerning the Eskimos, that when a damsel is asked in marriage, she

"directly falls into the greatest apparent consternation, and runs out of doors tearing her hair; for single women always affect the utmost bashfulness and aversion to any proposal of marriage, lest they should lose their reputation for modesty."

Spencer also quotes Burckhardt, who describes how the bride among Sinai Arabs defends herself with stones, even though she does not dislike the lover; "for according to custom, the more she struggles, bites, kicks, cries, and strikes, the more she is applauded ever after by her own companions." During the procession to the husband's camp "decency obliges her to cry and sob most bitterly." Among the Araucanians of Chili, according to Smith (215) "it is a point of honor with the bride to resist and struggle, however willing she may be."

While conceding that "the manners of the inferior races do not imply much coyness," Spencer, nevertheless, thinks "we cannot suppose coyness to be wholly absent." He holds that in the cases just cited coyness is responsible for the resistance of the women, and he goes so far as to make this coyness "an important factor," in accounting for the custom of marriage by capture which has prevailed among so many peoples in all parts of the world. Westermarck declares (388) that this suggestion can scarcely be disproved, and Grosse (105) echoes his judgment. To me, on the contrary, it seems that these distinguished sociologists are putting the cart before the horse. They make the capture a sequence of "coyness," whereas in truth the coyness (if it may be so called) is a result of capture. The custom of wife capture can be easily explained without calling in the aid of what we have seen to be so questionable a thing as primitive female coyness. Savages capture wives as the most coveted spoils of war. They capture them, in other instances, because polygamy and female infanticide have disturbed the equilibrium of the sexes, thus compelling the young men to seek wives elsewhere than in their own tribes; and the same result is brought about (in Australia, for instance), by the old men's habit of appropriating all the young women by a system of exchange, leaving none for the young men, who, therefore, either have to persuade the married women to elope—at the risk of their lives—or else are compelled to steal wives elsewhere. In another very large number of cases the men stole brides—willing or unwilling—to avoid paying their parents for them.


Thus the custom of real capture is easily accounted for. What calls for an explanation is the sham capture and resistance in cases where both the parents and the bride are perfectly willing. Why should primitive maidens who, as we have seen, are rather apt than not to make amorous advances, repel their suitors so violently in these instances of mock capture? Are they, after all, coy—more coy than civilized maidens? To answer this question let us look at one of Spencer's witnesses more carefully. The reason Crantz gives for the Eskimo women's show of aversion to marriage is that they do it, "lest they lose their reputation for modesty." Now modesty of any kind is a quality unknown to Eskimos. Nansen, Kane, Hayes, and other explorers have testified that the Eskimos of both sexes take off all their clothes in their warm subterranean homes. Captain Beechey has described their obscene dances, and it is well-known that they consider it a duty to lend their wives and daughters to guests. Some of the native tales collected by Rink (236-37; 405) indicate most unceremonious modes of courtship and nocturnal frolics, which do not stop even at incest. To suppose that women so utterly devoid of moral sensibility could, of their own accord and actuated by modesty and bashfulness manifest such a coy aversion to marriage that force has to be resorted to, is manifestly absurd. In attributing their antics to modesty, Crantz made an error into which so many explorers have fallen—that of interpreting the actions of savages from the point of view of civilization—an error more pardonable in an unsophisticated traveller of the eighteenth century than in a modern sociologist.

If we must therefore reject Herbert Spencer's inference as to the existence of primitive coyness and its consequences, how are we to account for the comedy of mock capture? Several writers have tried to crack the nut. Sutherland (I., 200) holds that sham capture is not a survival of real capture, but "the festive symbolism of the contrast in the character of the sexes—courage in the man and shyness in the woman"—a fantastic suggestion which does not call for discussion, since, as we know, the normal primitive woman is anything but shy. Abercromby (I., 454) is another writer who believes that sham capture is not a survival of real capture, but merely a result of the innate general desire on the part of the men to display courage—a view which dodges the one thing that calls for an explanation—the resistance of the women. Grosse indulges in some curious antics (105-108). First he asks: "Since real capture is everywhere an exception and is looked on as punishable, why should the semblance of capture have ever become a general and approved custom?" Then he asks, with a sneer, why sociology should be called upon to answer such questions anyhow; and a moment later he, nevertheless, attempts an answer, on Spencerian lines. Among inferior races, he remarks, women are usually coveted as spoils of war. The captured women become the wives or concubines of the warriors and thus represent, as it were, trophies of their valor. Is it not, therefore, inevitable that the acquisition of a wife by force should be looked on, among warlike races, as the most honorable way of getting her, nay, in course of time, as the only one worthy of a warrior? But since, he continues, not all the men can get wives in that way, even among the rudest tribes, these other men consoled themselves with investing the peaceful home-taking of a bride also with the show of an honorable capture.

In other words, Grosse declares on one page that it is absurd to derive approved sham capture from real capture because real capture is everywhere exceptional only and is always considered punishable; yet two pages later he argues that sham capture is derived from real capture because the latter is so honorable! As a matter of fact, among the lowest races known, wife-stealing is not considered honorable. Regarding the Australians, Curr states distinctly (I., 108) that it was not encouraged because it was apt to involve a whole tribe in war for one man's sake. Among the North American Indians, on the other hand, where, as we saw in the chapter on Honorable Polygamy, a wife-stealer is admired by both men and women, sham capture does not prevail. Grosse's argument, therefore, falls to the ground.


Prior to all these writers Sir John Lubbock advanced (98) still another theory of capture, real and sham. Believing that men once had all their wives in common, he declares that

"capture, and capture alone, could originally give a man the right to monopolize a woman to the exclusion of his fellow-clansmen; and that hence, even after all necessity for actual capture had long ceased, the symbol remained; capture having, by long habit, come to be received as a necessary preliminary to marriage."

This theory has the same shortcoming as the others. While accounting for the capture, it does not explain the resistance of the women. In real capture they had real reasons for kicking, biting, and howling, but why should they continue these antics in cases of sham capture? Obviously another factor came into play here, which has been strangely overlooked—parental persuasion or command. Among savages a father owns his daughter as absolutely as his dog; he can sell or exchange her at pleasure; in Australia, "swapping" daughters or sisters is the commonest mode of marriage. Now, stealing brides, or eloping to avoid having to pay for them, is of frequent occurrence everywhere among uncivilized races. To protect themselves against such loss of personal property it must have occurred to parents at an early date that it would be wise to teach their daughters to resist all suitors until it has become certain that their intentions are honorable—that is, that they intend to pay. In course of time such teaching (strengthened by the girls' pride at being purchased for a large sum) would assume the form of an inviolable command, having the force of a taboo and, with the stubbornness peculiar to many social customs, persisting long after the original reasons have ceased to exist.

In other words, I believe that the peculiar antics of the brides in cases of sham capture are neither due to innate feminine coyness nor are they a direct survival of the genuine resistance made in real capture; but that they are simply a result of parental dictation which assigns to the bride the rôle she must play in the comedy of "courtship." I find numerous facts supporting this view, especially in Reinsberg-Düringsfeld's Hochzeitsbuch and Schroeder's Hochzeitsgebräuche der Esten.

Describing the marriage customs of the Mordvins, Mainow says that the bridegroom sneaks into the bride's house before daybreak, seizes her and carries her off to where his companions are waiting with their wagons. "Etiquette," he adds, "demands she should resist violently and cry loudly, even if she is entirely in favor of the elopement." Among the Votyaks girl-stealing (kukem) occurs to this day. If the father is unwilling or asks too much, while the young folks are willing, the girl goes to work in the field and the lover carries her off. On the way to his house she is cheerful, but when they reach the lover's house she begins to cry and wail, whereupon she is locked up in a cabin that has no window. The father, having found out where she is, comes and demands payment. If the lover offers too little, the parent plies his whip on him. Among the Ostyaks such elopements, to avoid payment, are frequent. Regarding the Esthonians, Schroeder says (40): "When the intermediary comes, the girl must conceal herself in some place until she is either found, with her father's consent, or appears of her own accord."

In the old epic "Kalewipoeg," Salme hides in the garret and Linda in the bath-room, and refuse to come out till after much coaxing and urging.


The words I have italicized indicate the passive rôle played by the girls, who simply carry out the instructions given to them. The parents are the stage-managers, and they know very well what they want—money or brandy. Among the Mordvins, as soon as the suitor and his friends are seen approaching the bride's house, it is barricaded, and the defenders ask, "Who are you?" The answer is, "Merchants." "What do you wish?" "Living goods." "We do not trade!" "We shall take her by force." A show of force is made, but finally the suitors are admitted, after paying twenty kopeks. In Little Russia it is customary to barricade the door of the bride's house with a wheel, but after offering a bottle of brandy as a "pass" the suitor's party is allowed to enter.

Among the Esthonians custom demands (Schroeder, 36), that a comedy like the following be enacted. The intermediary comes to the bride's house and pretends that he has lost a cow or a lamb, and asks permission to hunt for it. The girl's relatives at first stubbornly deny having any knowledge of its whereabouts, but finally they allow the suitors to search, and the bride is usually found without much delay. In Western Prussia (Berent district), after the bridegroom has made his terms with the bride and her parents, he comes to their house and says: "We were out hunting and saw a wounded deer run into this house. May we follow its tracks?" Permission is granted, whereupon the men start in pursuit of the bride, who has hidden away with the other village maidens. At last the "hound"—one of the bridegroom's companions—finds her and brings her to the lover.

Similar customs have prevailed in parts of Russia, Roumania, Servia, Sardinia, Hungary, and elsewhere. In Old Finland the comedy continues even after the nuptial knot has been tied. The bridal couple return each to their home. Soon the groom appears at the bride's house and demands to be admitted. Her father refuses to let him in. A "pass" is thereupon produced and read, and this, combined with a few presents, finally secures admission. In some districts the bride remains invisible even during the wedding-dinner, and it is "good form" for her to let the guests wait as long as possible, and not to appear until after considerable coaxing by her mother. When a Votyak bridegroom comes after the bride on the wedding-day she is denied to him three times. After that she is searched for, dragged from her hiding-place, and her face covered with a cloth, while she screams and struggles. Then she is carried to the yard, placed on a blanket with her face down, and the bridegroom belabors her with a stick on a pillow which has been tied on her back. After that she becomes obedient and amiable. A Mordvin bride must try to escape from the wagon on the way to the church. In Old Finland the bride was barricaded in her house even after the wedding, and the Island Swedes have the same custom. This burlesque of bridal resistance after marriage occurs also among the wild tribes of India. "After remaining with her husband for ten days only," writes Dalton (192), "it is the correct thing for the wife to run away from him, and tell all her friends that she loves him not and will see him no more." The husband's duty is to seek her eagerly.

"I have seen a young wife thus found and claimed, and borne away, screeching and struggling in the arms of her husband, from the midst of a crowded bazaar. No one interferes on these occasions."

More than enough has now been said to prove that in cases of sham capture the girls simply follow their village customs blindly. Left to themselves they might act very differently, but as it is, all the girls in each district must do the same thing, however silly. About the real feelings of the girls these comedies tell us nothing whatever. With coyness—that is, a woman's concealment of her feelings toward a man she likes—these actions have no more to do than the man in the moon has with anthropology. Least of all do they tell us anything about love, for the girls must all act alike, whether they favor a man or not. Regarding the absence of love we have, moreover, the direct testimony of Dr. F. Kreutzwald (Schroeder, 233). That marriages are made in heaven is, he declares, true in a certain sense, so far as the Esthonians are concerned; for "the parties concerned usually play a passive rôle…. Love is not one of the requisites, it is an unknown phenomenon." Utilitarianism, he adds, is the basis of their marriages. The suitor tries to ascertain if the girl he wants is a good worker; to find this out he may even watch her secretly while she is spinning, thrashing, or combing flax.

"Most of the men proceed at random, and it is not unusual for a suitor who has been refused in one place and another to proceed at once to a third or fourth…. Many a bridegroom sees his bride for the first time at the ceremony of the priestly betrothal, and he cannot therefore be blamed for asking: 'Which of these girls is my bride?'"


So far our search for that coyness which is an ingredient of modern love has been in vain. At the same time it is obvious that since coyness is widely prevalent at the present day it must have been in the past of use to women, else it would not have survived and increased. The question is: how far down in the scale of civilization do we find traces of it? The literature of the ancient Greeks indicates that, in a certain phase and among certain classes, it was known to them. True, the respectable women, being always locked up and having no choice in the selecting of their partners, had no occasion for the exercise of any sort of coyness. But the hetairai appear to have understood the advantages of assumed disdain or indifference in making a coveted man more eager in his wooing. In the fifteenth of Lucian's [Greek: Etairikoi dialogoi] we read about a wanton who locked her door to her lover because he had refused to pay her two talents for the privilege of exclusive possession. In other cases, the poets still feel called upon to teach these women how to make men submissive by withholding caresses from them. Thus in Lucian, Pythias exclaims:

"To tell the truth, dear Joessa, you yourself spoiled him with your excessive love, which you even allowed him to notice. You should not have made so much of him: men, when they discover that, easily become overweening. Do not weep, poor girl! Follow my advice and keep your door locked once or twice when he tries to see you again. You will find that that will make him flame up again and become frantic with love and jealousy."

In the third book of his treatise on the Art of Love, Ovid advises women (of the same class) how to win men. He says, in substance:

"Do not answer his letters too soon; all delay inflames the lover, provided it does not last too long…. What is too readily granted does not long retain love. Mix with the pleasure you give mortifying refusals, make him wait in your doorway; let him bewail the 'cruel door;' let him beg humbly, or else get angry and threaten. Sweet things cloy, tonics are bitter."


Feigned unwillingness or indifference in obedience to such advice may perhaps be called coyness, but it is only a coarse primitive phase of that attitude, based on sordid, mercenary motives, whereas true modern coyness consists in an impulse, grounded in modesty, to conceal affection. The germs of Greek venal coyness for filthy lucre may be found as low down as among the Papuan women who, as Bastian notes (Ploss, I., 460) exact payment in shell-money for their caresses. Of the Tongans, highest of all Polynesians, Mariner says (Martin, II., 174):

"It must not be supposed that these women are always easily won; the greatest attentions and fervent solicitations are sometimes requisite, even though there be no other lover in the way. This happens sometimes from a spirit of coquetry, at other times from a dislike to the party, etc."

Now coquetry is a cousin of coyness, but in whatever way this Tongan coquetry may manifest itself (no details are given) it certainly lacks the regard for modesty and chastity which is essential to modern coyness; for, as the writer just referred to attests, Tongan girls are permitted to indulge in free intercourse before marriage, the only thing liable to censure being a too frequent change of lovers.

That the anxious regard for chastity, modesty, decorum, which cannot be present in the coquetry of these Tongan women, is one of the essential ingredients of modern coyness has long been felt by the poets. After Juliet has made her confession of love which Romeo overhears in the dark, she apologizes to him because she fears that he might attribute her easy yielding to light love. Lest he think her too quickly won she "would have frowned and been perverse, and said him nay." Then she begs him trust she'll "prove more true than those that have more cunning to be strange." Wither's "That coy one in the winning, proves a true one being won," expresses the same sentiment.


Man's esteem for virtues which he does not always practise himself, is thus responsible, in part at least, for the existence of modern coyness. Other factors, however, aided its growth, among them man's fickleness. If a girl did not say nay (when she would rather say yes), and hold back, hesitate, and delay, the suitor would in many cases suck the honey from her lips and flit away to another flower. Cumulative experience of man's sensual selfishness has taught her to be slow in yielding to his advances. Experience has also taught women that men are apt to value favors in proportion to the difficulty of winning them, and the wisest of them have profited by the lesson. Callimachus wrote, two hundred and fifty years before Christ, that his love was "versed in pursuing what flies (from it), but flits past what lies in its mid path"—a conceit which the poets have since echoed a thousand times. Another very important thing that experience taught women was that by deferring or withholding their caresses and smiles they could make the tyrant man humble, generous, and gallant. Girls who do not throw themselves away on the first man who happens along, also have an advantage over others who are less fastidious and coy, and by transmitting their disposition to their daughters they give it greater vogue. Female coyness prevents too hasty marriages, and the girls who lack it often live to repent their shortcomings at leisure. Coyness prolongs the period of courtship and, by keeping the suitor in suspense and doubt, it develops the imaginative, sentimental side of love.


Sufficient reasons, these, why coyness should have gradually become a general attribute of femininity. Nevertheless, it is an artificial product of imperfect social conditions, and in an ideal world women would not be called upon to romance about their feelings. As a mark of modesty, coyness will always have a charm for men, and a woman devoid of it will never inspire genuine love. But what I have elsewhere called "spring-chicken coyness"—the disposition of European girls to hide shyly behind their mammas—as chickens do under a hen at the sight of a hawk—is losing its charm in face of the frank confidingness of American girls in the presence of gentlemen; and as for that phase of coyness which consists in concealing affection for a man, girls usually manage to circumvent it in a more or less refined manner. Some girls who are coarse, or have little control of their feelings, propose bluntly to the men they want. I myself have known several such cases, but the man always refused. Others have a thousand subtle ways of betraying themselves without actually "giving themselves away." A very amusing story of how an ingenious maiden tries to bring a young man to bay has been told by Anthony Hope. Dowden calls attention to the fact that it is Juliet "who proposes and urges on the sudden marriage." Romeo has only spoken of love; it is she who asks him, if his purpose be marriage, to send her word next day. In Troilus and Cressida (III., 2), the heroine exclaims:

     But, though I loved you well, I woo'd you not;
     And yet, good faith, I wished myself a man,
     Or that we women had men's privilege
     Of speaking first.

In his Old Virginia (II., 127) John Fiske tells a funny story of how Parson Camm was wooed. A young friend of his, who had been courting Miss Betsy Hansford of his parish, asked him to assist him with his eloquence. The parson did so by citing to the girl texts from the Bible enjoining matrimony as a duty. But she beat him at his own game, telling him to take his Bible when he got home and look at 2 Sam. xii. 7, which would explain her obduracy. He did so, and found this: "And Nathan said to David, thou art the man." The parson took the hint—and the girl.


She never told her love; But let concealment, like a worm i' the bud, Feed on her damask cheek: she pined in thought; And, with a green and yellow melancholy, She sat, like Patience on a monument, Smiling at grief. Was not this love indeed?

asks Viola in As You Like It. It was love indeed; but only two phases of it are indicated in the lines quoted—coyness ("She never told her love") and the mixture of emotions ("smiling at grief"), which is another characteristic of love. Romantic love is a pendulum swinging perpetually between hope and despair. A single unkind word or sign of indifference may make a lover feel the agony of death, while a smile may raise him from the abyss of despair to heavenly heights of bliss. As Goethe puts it:

     Himmelhoch jauchzend
     Zum Tode betrübt,
     Glücklich allein
     Ist die Seele die liebt.


When a Marguerite plucks the petals of a marguerite, muttering "he loves me—he loves me not," her heart flutters in momentary anguish with every "not," till the next petal soothes it again.

     I cannot bound a pitch above dull woe;
     Under love's heavy burden do I sink,

wails Romeo; and again:

     Why then, O brawling love! O loving hate!
     O anything, of nothing first create!
     O heavy lightness! serious vanity!
     Misshapen chaos of well-seeming forms!
     Feather of lead, bright smoke, cold fire, sick health!

* * * * *

     Love is a smoke raised with the fume of sighs;
     Being purged, a fire sparkling in lovers' eyes;
     Being vex'd, a sea nourish'd with lovers' tears;
     What is it else? a madness most discreet,
     A choking gall and a preserving sweet.

In commenting on Romeo, who in his love for Rosaline indulges in emotion for emotion's sake, and "stimulates his fancy with the sought-out phrases, the curious antitheses of the amorous dialect of the period," Dowden writes:

"Mrs. Jameson has noticed that in All's Well that Ends Well (I., 180-89), Helena mockingly reproduces this style of amorous antithesis. Helena, who lives so effectively in the world of fact, is contemptuous toward all unreality and affectation."

Now, it is quite true that expressions like "cold fire" and "sick health" sound unreal and affected to sober minds, and it is also true that many poets have exercised their emulous ingenuity in inventing such antitheses just for the fun of the thing and because it has been the fashion to do so. Nevertheless, with all their artificiality, they were hinting at an emotional phenomenon which actually exists. Romantic love is in reality a state of mind in which cold and heat may and do alternate so rapidly that "cold fire" seems the only proper expression to apply to such a mixed feeling. It is literally true that, as Bailey sang, "the sweetest joy, the wildest woe is love;" literally true that "the sweets of love are washed with tears," as Carew wrote, or, as H.K. White expressed it, "'Tis painful, though 'tis sweet to love." A man who has actually experienced the feeling of uncertain love sees nothing unreal or affected in Tennyson's

     The cruel madness of love
     The honey of poisoned flowers,

or in Drayton's

     'Tis nothing to be plagued in hell
     But thus in heaven tormented,

or in Dryden's

     I feed a flame within, which so torments me
     That it both pains my heart, and yet enchants me:
     'Tis such a pleasing smart, and I so love it,
     That I had rather die than once remove it,

or in Juliet's

     Good-night! good-night! parting is such sweet sorrow,
     That I shall say good-night till it be morrow.

This mysterious mixture of moods, constantly maintained through the alternations of hope and doubt, elation and despair,

     And hopes, and fears that kindle hope,
     An undistinguishable throng

as Coleridge puts it; or

     Where hot and cold, where sharp and sweet,
     In all their equipages meet;
     Where pleasures mixed with pains appear,
     Sorrow with joy, and hope with fear

as Swift rhymes it, is thus seen to be one of the essential and most characteristic ingredients of modern romantic love.


Here, again, the question confronts us, How far down among the strata of human life can we find traces of this ingredient of love? Do we find it among the Eskimos, for instance? Nansen relates (II., 317), that

"In the old Greenland days marriage was a simple and speedy affair. If a man took a fancy to a girl, he merely went to her home or tent, caught her by the hair or anything else which offered a hold, and dragged her off to his dwelling without further ado."

Nay, in some cases, even this unceremonious "courtship" was perpetrated by proxy! The details regarding the marriage customs of lower races already cited in this volume, with the hundreds more to be given in the following pages, cannot fail to convince the reader that primitive courtship—where there is any at all—is habitually a "simple and speedy affair"—not always as simple and speedy as with Nansen's Greenlanders, but too much so to allow of the growth and play of those mixed emotions which agitate modern swains. Fancy the difference between the African of Yariba who, as Lander tells us (I., 161), "thinks as little of taking a wife as of cutting an ear of corn," and the modern lover who suffers the tortures of the inferno because a certain girl frowns on him, while her smiles may make him so happy that he would not change places with a king, unless his beloved were to be queen. Savages cannot experience such extremes of anguish and rapture, because they have no imagination. It is only when the imagination comes into play that we can look for the joys and sorrows, the hopes and fears, that help to make up the sum and substance of romantic love.


At the same time it would be a great mistake to assume that the manifestation of mixed moods proves the presence of romantic love. After all, the alternation of hope and despair which produces those bitter-sweet paradoxes of the varying and mixed emotions, is one of the selfish aspects of passion: the lover fears or hopes for himself, not for the other. There is, therefore, no reason why we should not read of troubled or ecstatic lovers in the poems of the ancient writers, who, while knowing love only as selfish lust, nevertheless had sufficient imagination to suffer the agonies of thwarted purpose and the delights of realized hopes. As a boat-load of shipwrecked sailors, hungry and thirsty, may be switched from deadly despair to frantic joy by the approach of a rescuing vessel, so may a man change his moods who is swayed by what is, next to hunger and thirst, the most powerful and imperious of all appetites. We must not, therefore, make the reckless assumption that the Greek and Sanscrit writers must have known romantic love, because they describe men and women as being prostrated or elated by strong passion. When Euripides speaks of love as being both delectable and painful; when Sappho and Theocritus note the pallor, the loss of sleep, the fears and tears of lovers; when Achilles Tatius makes his lover exclaim, at sight of Leucippe: "I was overwhelmed by conflicting feelings: admiration, astonishment, agitation, shame, assurance;" when King Pururavas, in the Hindoo drama, Urvasi is tormented by doubts as to whether his love is reciprocated by the celestial Bayadère (apsara); when, in Malati, a love-glance is said to be "anointed with nectar and poison;" when the arrows of the Hindoo gods of love are called hard, though made of flowers; burning, though not in contact with the skin; voluptuous, though piercing—when we come across such symptoms and fancies we have no right as yet to infer the existence of romantic love; for all these things also characterize sensual passion, which is love only in the sense of self-love, whereas, romantic love is affection for another—a distinction which will be made more and more manifest as we proceed in our discussion of the ingredients of love, especially the last seven, which are altruistic. It is only when we find these altruistic ingredients associated with the hopes and fears and mixed moods that we can speak of romantic love. The symptoms referred to in this paragraph tell us about selfish longings, selfish pleasures and selfish pains, but nothing whatever about affection for the person who is so eagerly coveted.


As long as love was supposed to be an uncompounded emotion and no distinction was made between appetite and sentiment—that is between the selfish desire of eroticism and the self-sacrificing ardor of altruistic affection—it was natural enough that the opinion should have prevailed that love has been always and everywhere the same, inasmuch as several of the traits which characterize the modern passion—stubborn preference for an individual, a desire for exclusive possession, jealousy toward rivals, coy resistance and the resulting mixed moods of doubt and hope—were apparently in existence in earlier and lower stages of human development. We have now seen, however, that these indications are deceptive, for the reason that lust as well as love can be fastidious in choice, insistent on a monopoly, and jealous of rivals; that coyness may spring from purely mercenary motives, and that the mixed moods of hope and despair may disquiet or delight men and women who know love only as a carnal appetite. We now take up our sixth ingredient—Hyperbole—which has done more than any other to confuse the minds of scholars as regards the antiquity of romantic love, for the reason that it presents the passion of the ancients in its most poetic and romantic aspects.


Amorous hyperbole may be defined as obvious exaggeration in praising the charms of a beloved girl or youth; Shakspere speaks of "exclamations hyperbolical … praises sauced with lies." Such "praises sauced with lies" abound in the verse and prose of Greek and Roman as well as Sanscrit and other Oriental writers, and they assume as diverse forms as in modern erotic literature. The commonest is that in which a girl's complexion is compared to lilies and roses. The Cyclops in Theocritus tells Galatea she is "whiter than milk … brighter than a bunch of hard grapes." The mistress of Propertius has a complexion white as lilies; her cheeks remind him of "rose leaves swimming on milk."

     Lilia non domina sunt magis alba mea;
     Ut Moeotica nix minio si certet Eboro,
     Utque rosae puro lacte natant folia.
                                       (II., 2.)

Achilles Tatius wrote that the beauty of Leucippe's countenance

"might vie with the flowers of the meadow; the narcissus was resplendent in her general complexion, the rose blushed upon her cheek, the dark hue of the violet sparkled in her eyes, her ringlets curled more closely than do the clusters of the ivy—her face, therefore, was a reflex of the meadows."

The Persian Hafiz declares that "the rose lost its color at sight of her cheeks and the jasmines silver bud turned pale." A beauty in the Arabian Nights, however, turns the tables on the flowers. "Who dares to liken me to a rose?" she exclaims.

"Who is not ashamed to declare that my bosom is as lovely as the fruit of the pomegranate-tree? By my beauty and grace! by my eyes and black hair, I swear that any man who repeats such comparison shall be banished from my presence and killed by the separation; for if he finds my figure in the ban-tree and my cheeks in the rose, what then does he seek in me?"

This girl spoke more profoundly than she knew. Flowers are beautiful things, but a spot red as a rose on a cheek would suggest the hectic flush of fever, and if a girl's complexion were as white as a lily she would be shunned as a leper. In hyperbole the step between the sublime and the ridiculous is often a very short one; yet the rose and lily simile is perpetrated by erotic poets to this day.


The eyes are subjected to similar treatment, as in Lodge's lines

     Her eyes are sapphires set in snow
     Resembling heaven by every wink.

Thomas Hood's Ruth had eyes whose "long lashes veiled a light that had else been all too bright." Heine saw in the blue eyes of his beloved the gates of heaven. Shakspere and Fletcher have:

     And those eyes, the break of day,
     Lights that do mislead the morn!

When Romeo exclaims:

     Two of the fairest stars in all the heaven,
     Having some business, do entreat her eyes
     To twinkle in their spheres till they return.
     … her eyes in heaven
     Would through the airy region stream so bright
     That birds would sing and think it were not night,

he excels, both in fancy and in exaggeration, all the ancient poets; but it was they who began the practice of likening eyes to bright lights. Ovid declares (Met., I., 499) that Daphne's eyes shone with a fire like that of the stars, and this has been a favorite comparison at all times. Tibullus assures us (IV., 2) that "when Cupid wishes to inflame the gods, he lights his torches at Sulpicia's eyes." In the Hindoo drama Malati and Madhava, the writer commits the extravagance of making Madhava declare that the white of his mistresses eyes suffuses him as with a bath of milk!

Theocritus, Tibullus ("candor erat, qualem praefert Latonia Luna"), Hafiz, and other Greek, Roman, and Oriental poets are fond of comparing a girl's face or skin to the splendors of the moon, and even the sun is none too bright to suggest her complexion. In the Arabian Nights we read: "If I look upon the heaven methinks I see the sun fallen down to shine below, and thee whom I desire to shine in his place." A girl may, indeed, be superior to sun and moon, as we see in the same book: "The moon has only a few of her charms; the sun tried to vie with her but failed. Where has the sun hips like those of the queen of my heart?" An unanswerable argument, surely!


When William Allingham wrote: "Her hair's the brag of Ireland, so weighty and so fine," he followed in the wake of a hundred poets, who had made a girl's tresses the object of amorous hyperbole. Dianeme's "rich hair which wantons with the love-sick air" is a pretty conceit. The fanciful notion that a beautiful woman imparts her sweetness to the air, especially with the fragrance of her hair, occurs frequently in the poems of Hafiz and other Orientals. In one of these the poet chides the zephyr for having stolen its sweetness while playing with the beloved's loose tresses. In another, a youth declares that if he should die and the fragrance of his beloved's locks were wafted over his grave, it would bring him back to life. Ben Jonson's famous lines to Celia:

     I sent thee late a rosy wreath,
       Not so much honoring thee
     As giving it a hope that there
       It could not withered be;
     But thou thereon did'st only breathe
       And sent'st it back to me;
     Since when it grows, and smells, I swear,
       Not of itself but thee!

are a free imitation of passages in the Love Letters (Nos. 30 and 31) of the Greek Philostratus: "Send me back some of the roses on which you slept. Their natural fragrance will have been increased by that which you imparted to them." This is a great improvement on the Persian poets who go into raptures over the fragrant locks of fair women, not for their inherent sweetness, however, but for the artificial perfumes used by them, including the disgusting musk! "Is a caravan laden with musk returning from Khoten?" sings one of these bards in describing the approach of his mistress.


Besides such direct comparisons of feminine charms to flowers, to sun and moon and other beautiful objects of nature, amorous hyperbole has several other ways of expressing itself. The lover longs to be some article of dress that he might touch the beloved, or a bird that he might fly to her, or he fancies that all nature is love-sick in sympathy with him. Romeo's

     See, how she leans her cheek upon her hand!
     O, that I were a glove upon that hand,
     That I might touch that cheek!

is varied in Heine's poem, where the lover wishes he were a stool for her feet to rest on, a cushion for her to stick pins in, or a curl-paper that he might whisper his secrets into her ears; and in Tennyson's dainty lines:

     It is the miller's daughter,
     And she is grown so dear, so dear,
     That I would be the jewel
     That trembles at her ear;
     For hid in ringlets day and night
     I'd touch her neck so warm and white.

     And I would be the girdle
     About her dainty, dainty waist,
     And her heart would beat against me
     In sorrow and in rest;
     And I should know if it beat right,
     I'd clasp it round so close and tight.

     And I would be the necklace,
     And all day long to fall and rise
     Upon her balmy bosom
     With her laughter or her sighs,
     And I would be so light, so light,
     I scarce should be unclasped at night.

Herein, too, our modern poets were anticipated by the ancients. Anacreon wishes he were a mirror that he might reflect the image of his beloved; or the gown she wears every day; or the water that laves her limbs; or the balm that anoints her body; or the pearl that adorns her neck; or the cloth that covers her breast; or the shoes that are trodden by her feet.

The author of an anonymous poem in the Greek Anthology wishes he were a breath of air that he might be received in the bosom of his beloved; or a rose to be picked by her hand and fastened on her bosom. Others wish they were the water in the fountain from which a girl drinks, or a dolphin to carry her on its back, or the ring she wears. After the Hindoo Sakuntala has lost her ring in the river the poet expresses surprise that the ring should have been able to separate itself from that hand. The Cyclops of Theocritus wishes he had been born with the gills of a fish so that he might dive into the sea to visit the nymph Galatea and kiss her hands should her mouth be refused. One of the goatherds of the same bucolic poet wishes he were a bee that he might fly to the grotto of Amaryllis. From such fancies it is but a short step to the "were I a swallow, to her I would fly" of Heine and other modern poets.


In the ecstasy of his feeling Rosalind's lover wants to have her name carved on every tree in the forest; but usually the lover assumes that all things in the forests, plants or animals, sympathize with him even without having his beloved's name thrust upon them.

     For summer and his pleasures wait on thee,
     And, thou away, the very birds are mute;
     Or if they sing, 't is with so dull a cheer,
     That leaves look pale, dreading the winter's near.

"Why are the roses so pale?" asks Heine.

"Why are the violets so dumb in the green grass? Why does the lark's song seem so sad, and why have the flowers lost their fragrance? Why does the sun look down upon the meadows so cold and morose, and why is the earth so gray and desolate? Why am I ill and melancholy, and why, my love, did you leave me?"

In another poem Heine declares:

"If the flowers knew how deeply my heart is wounded, they would weep with me. If the nightingales knew how sad I am, they would cheer me with their refreshing song. If the golden stars knew my grief, they would come down from their heights to whisper consolation to me."

This phase of amorous hyperbole also was known to the ancient poets. Theocritus (VII., 74) relates that Daphnis was bewailed by the oaks that stood on the banks of the river, and Ovid (151) tells us, in Sappho's epistle to Phaon, that the leafless branches sighed over her hopeless love and the birds stopped their sweet song. Musaeus felt that the waters of the Hellespont were still lamenting the fate which overtook Leander as he swam toward the tower of Hero.


If a romantic love-poem were necessarily a poem of romantic love, the specimens of amorous hyperbole cited in the preceding pages would indicate that the ancients knew love as we know it. In reality, however, there is not, in all the examples cited, the slightest evidence of genuine love. A passion which is merely sensual may inspire a gifted poet to the most extravagantly fanciful expressions of covetous admiration, and in all the cases cited there is nothing beyond such sensual admiration. An African Harari compares the girl he likes to "sweet milk fresh from the cow," and considers that coarse remark a compliment because he knows love only as an appetite. A gypsy poet compares the shoulders of his beloved to "wheat bread," and a Turkish poem eulogizes a girl for being like "bread fried in butter." (Ploss, L, 85, 89.)

The ancient poets had too much taste to reveal their amorous desires quite so bluntly as an appetite, yet they, too, never went beyond the confines of self-indulgence. When Propertius says a girl's cheeks are like roses floating on milk; when Tibullus declares another girl's eyes are bright enough to light a torch by; when Achilles Tatius makes his lover exclaim: "Surely you must carry about a bee on your lips, they are full of honey, your kisses wound"—what is all this except a revelation that the poet thinks the girl pretty, that her beauty gives him pleasure, and that he tries to express that pleasure by comparing her to some other object—sun, moon, honey, flowers—that pleases his senses? Nowhere is there the slightest indication that he is eager to give her pleasure, much less that he would be willing to sacrifice his own pleasures for her, as a mother, for instance, would for a child. His hyperboles, in a word, tell us not of love for another but of a self-love in which the other figures only as a means to an end, that end being his own gratification.

When Anacreon wishes he were the gown worn by a girl, or the water that laves her limbs, or the string of pearls around her neck, he does not indicate the least desire to make her happy, but an eagerness to please himself by coming in contact with her. The daintiest poetic conceit cannot conceal this blunt fact. Even the most fanciful of all forms of amorous hyperbole—that in which the lover imagines that all nature smiles or weeps with him—what is it but the most colossal egotism conceivable?

The amorous hyperbole of the ancients is romantic in the sense of fanciful, fictitious, extravagant, but not in the sense in which I oppose romantic love to selfish sensual infatuation. There is no intimation in it of those things that differentiate love from lust—the mental and moral charms of the women, or the adoration, sympathy, and affection, of the men. When one of Goethe's characters says: "My life began at the moment I fell in love with you;" or when one of Lessing's characters exclaims: "To live apart from her is inconceivable to me, would be my death"—we still hear the note of selfishness, but with harmonic overtones that change its quality, the result of a change in the way of regarding women. Where women are looked down on as inferiors, as among the ancients, amorous hyperbole cannot be sincere; it is either nothing but "spruce affectation" or else an illustration of the power of sensual love. No ancient author could have written what Emerson wrote in his essay on Love, of the visitations of a power which

"made the face of nature radiant with purple light, the morning and the night varied enchantments; when a single tone of one voice could make the heart bound, and the most trivial circumstance associated with one form is put in the amber of memory; when he became all eye when one was present, and all memory when one was gone; when the youth becomes a watcher of windows and studious of a glove, a veil, a ribbon, or the wheels of a carriage…. When the head boiled all night on the pillow with the generous deed it resolved on…. When all business seemed an impertinence, and all men and women running to and fro in the streets, mere pictures."


In the essay "On the Power of Love," to which I have referred in another place, Lichtenberg bluntly declared he did not believe that sentimental love could make a sensible adult person so extravagantly happy or unhappy as the poets would have us think, whereas he was ready to concede that the sexual appetite may become irresistible. Schopenhauer, on the contrary, held that sentimental love is the more powerful of the two passions. However this may be, either is strong enough to account for the prevalence of amorous hyperbole in literature to such an extent that, as Bacon remarked, "speaking in a perpetual hyperbole is comely in nothing but in love." "The major part of lovers," writes Robert Burton,

"are carried headlong like so many brute beasts, reason counsels one way, thy friends, fortunes, shame, disgrace, danger, and an ocean of cares that will certainly follow; yet this furious lust precipitates, counterpoiseth, weighs down on the other."

Professor Bain, discussing all the human emotions in a volume of 600 pages, declares, regarding love (138), that

"the excitement at its highest pitch, in the torrent of youthful sensations and ungratified desires is probably the most furious and elated experience of human nature."

In whatever sense we take this, as referring to sensual or sentimental love, or a combination of the two, it explains why erotic writers of all times make such lavish use of superlatives and exaggerations. Their strong feelings can only be expressed in strong language. "Beauty inflicts a wound sharper than any arrow," quoth Achilles Tatius. Meleager declares: "Even the winged Eros in the air became your prisoner, sweet Timarion, because your eye drew him down;" and in another place: "the cup is filled with joy because it is allowed to touch the beautiful lips of Zenophila. Would that she drank my soul in one draught, pressing firmly her lips on mine" (a passage which Tennyson imitated in "he once drew with one long kiss my whole soul through my lips"). "Not stone only, but steel would be melted by Eros," cried Antipater of Sidon. Burton tells of a cold bath that suddenly smoked and was very hot when Coelia came into it; and an anonymous modern poet cries:

     Look yonder, where
     She washes in the lake!
     See while she swims,
     The water from her purer limbs
     New clearness take!

The Persian poet, Saadi, tells the story of a young enamoured Dervish who knew the whole Koran by heart, but forgot his very alphabet in presence of the princess. She tried to encourage him, but he only found tongue to say, "It is strange that with thee present I should have speech left me;" and having said that he uttered a loud groan and surrendered his soul up to God.

To lovers nothing seems impossible. They "vow to weep seas, live in fire, eat rocks, tame tigers," as Troilus knew. Mephistopheles exclaims:

     So ein verliebter Thor verpufft
     Euch Sonne, Mond und alle Sterne
     Zum Zeitvertreib dem Liebchen in die Luft.

(Your foolish lover squanders sun and moon and all the stars to entertain his darling for an hour.) Romantic hyperbole is the realism of love. The lover is blind as to the beloved's faults, and color-blind as to her merits, seeing them differently from normal persons and all in a rosy hue. She really seems to him superior to every one in the world, and he would be ready any moment to join the ranks of the mediaeval knights who translated amorous hyperbole into action, challenging every knight to battle unless he acknowledged the superior beauty of his lady. A great romancer is the lover; he retouches the negative of his beloved, in his imagination, removes freckles, moulds the nose, rounds the cheeks, refines the lips, and adds lustre to the eyes until his ideal is realized and he sees Helen's beauty in a brow of Egypt.

               … For to be wise and love
     Exceeds man's might; that dwells with gods above.


     I dare not ask a kiss,
       I dare not beg a smile,
     Lest having that or this
       I might grow proud the while.

     Let fools great Cupid's yoke disdain,
       Loving their own wild freedom better,
     Whilst proud of my triumphant chain
       I sit, and court my beauteous fetter.


"There was never proud man thought so absurdly well of himself as the lover doth of the person beloved," said Bacon; "and therefore it is well said that it is impossible to love and be wise."

Like everything else in this world, love has its comic side. Nothing could be more amusing, surely, than the pride some men and women exhibit at having secured for life a mate whom most persons would not care to own a day. The idealizing process just described is responsible for this comedy; and a very useful thing it is, too; for did not the lover's fancy magnify the merits and minify the faults of the beloved, the number of marriages would not be so large as it is. Pride is a great match-maker. "It was a proud night with me," wrote Walter Scott,

"when I first found that a pretty young woman could think it worth her while to sit and talk with me hour after hour in a corner of the ball-room, while all the world were capering in our view."

Such an experience was enough to attune the heart-strings to love. The youth felt flattered, and flattery is the food of love.


Pride explains some of the greatest mysteries of love. "How could that woman have married such a manikin?" is a question one often hears. Money, rank, opportunity, lack of taste, account for much, but in many instances it was pride that first opened the heart to love; that is, pride was the first of the ingredients of love to capitulate, and the others followed suit. Probably that manikin was the first masculine being who ever showed her any attentions. "He appreciates me!" she mused. "I admire his taste—he is not like other men—I like him—I love him."

The compliment of a proposal touches a girl's pride and may prove the entering-wedge of love; hence the proverbial folly of accepting a girl's first refusal as final. And if she accepts, the thought that she, the most perfect being in the world, prefers him above all men, inflates his pride to the point of exultation; thenceforth he can talk and think only in "three pil'd hyperboles." He wants all the world to know how he has been distinguished. In a Japanese poem translated by Lafcadio Hearn (G.B.F., 38) a lover exclaims:

     I cannot hide in my heart the happy knowledge that fills it;
     Asking each not to tell, I spread the news all round.


To realize fully how important an ingredient in love pride is, we need only consider the effect of a refusal. Of all the pangs that make up its agony none is keener than that of wounded pride or vanity. Hence the same lover who, if successful, wants all the world to know how he has been distinguished, is equally anxious, in case of a refusal, to keep it a secret. Schopenhauer went so far as to assert that both in the pain of unrequited love and the joy of success, vanity is a more important factor than the thwarting of sensual desires, because only a psychic disturbance can stir us so deeply.

Shakspere knew that while there are many kinds of pride, the best and deepest is that which a man feels in his love. Some, he says, glory in their birth, some in their skill, some in their wealth, some in their body's force, or their garments, or horses; but

     All these I better in one general best,
       Thy love is better than high birth to me,
     Richer than wealth, prouder than garments' cost,
       Of more delight than hawks and horses be
     And having thee, of all men's pride I boast.
                                              —Sonnet XCI.


While amorous pride has also an altruistic aspect in so far as the lover is proud not only of being chosen but also of another's perfections, it nevertheless belongs, in the main, in the egoistic group, and there is therefore no reason why we should not look for it in the lower stages of erotic evolution. Pride and vanity are feelings which characterize all grades of human beings from the highest to the lowest. As regards amorous pride, however, it is obvious that the conditions for its existence are not favorable among such aboriginals, e.g., as the Australians. What occasion is there for pride on the part of a man who exchanges his sister or daughter for another man's sister or daughter, or on the part of the female who is thus exchanged? An American Indian's pride consists not in having won the favor of one particular girl, but in having been able to buy or steal as many women as possible, married or unmarried; and the bride's pride is proportionate to her lover's prowess in this direction. I need not add that the pride at being a successful squaw-stealer differs not only in degree but in kind from the exultation of a white American lover at the thought that the most beautiful and perfect girl in the world has chosen him above all men as her sole and exclusive sweetheart.

Gibbs says (I., 197-200) of the Indians of Western Washington and Northwestern Oregon that they usually seek their wives among other tribes than their own.

"It seems to be a matter of pride, in fact, to unite the blood of several different ones in their own persons. The expression, I am half Snokwalmu, half Klikatat, or some similar one, is of every-day occurrence. With the chiefs, this is almost always the case."

This feeling, however, is of a tribal kind, lacking the individuality of amorous pride. It would approach the latter if a chief won another chiefs daughter in the face of rivalry and felt elated at this feat. Such cases doubtless occur among the Indians.

Shooter gives an amusing account of how the African Kaffirs, when a girl is averse to a marriage, attempt to influence her feelings before resorting to compulsion.

"The first step is to speak well of the man in her presence; the Kraal conspire to praise him—her mother praises him—all the admirers of his cattle praise him—he was never so praised before."

If these praises make her feel proud at the thought of marrying such a man, all is well; if not, she has to suffer the consequences. It is not likely that this praising practice would prevail were it not sometimes successful.

If it ever is, we would have here a germ of amorous pride. Others may be found in Hindoo literature, as in Malati and Madhava, where the intermediary speaks of having dwelt on the lover's merits and rank in the presence of the heroine, in the hope of influencing her. "Extolling the lover's merits" is mentioned as one of the ten stages of love in the Hindoo ars amandi.

In Oriental countries in general, where it is difficult or impossible for young men and women to see one another before the wedding-day, the praising of candidates by and to intermediaries has been a general custom. Dr. T. Löbel (9-14) relates that before a Turk reaches the age of twenty-two his parents look about for a bride for him. They send out female friends and intermediaries who "praise and exaggerate the accomplishments of the young man" in houses where they suspect the presence of eligible girls. These female intermediaries are called kyz-görüdschü or "girl-seers." Having found a maiden that appears suitable, they exclaim, "What a lovely girl! She resembles an angel! What beautiful eyes! True gazelle-eyes! And her hair! Her teeth are like pearls." When the young man hears the reports of this beauty, he forthwith falls in love with her, and, although he has never seen her, declares he "will marry her and no other." A sense of humor is not given to every man: Dr. Löbel remarks seriously that this disproves the slanderous assertion so often made that the Turks are incapable of true love!

In their treatment and estimate of women the ancient Greeks resembled the modern Turks. The poets joined the philosophers in declaring that "nature herself," as Becker sums them up (Ill., 315), "assigned to woman a position far beneath man." As there is little occasion for pride in having won the favor of so inferior a being, the erotic literature of the Greeks is naturally not eloquent on this subject. Such evidence of amorous pride as we find in it, and in Roman poetry, is usually in connection with mercenary women. The poets, being poor, had only one way of winning the favor of these wantons: they could celebrate their charms in verse. This aroused the pride of the hetairai, and their grateful caresses made the poets proud at having a means of winning favor more powerful even than money. But with genuine love these feelings have nothing to do.


In common with ambition and other strong passions, love has the power of changing a man's character for the time being. One of the speakers in Plutarch's dialogue on love ([Greek: Erotikos], 17) declares that every lover becomes generous and magnanimous, though he may have been niggardly before; but, characteristically enough, it is the love for boys, not for women, that is referred to. A modern lover is affected that way by love for women. He feels proud of being distinguished by the preference of such a girl, and on the principle of noblesse oblige, he tries to become worthy of her. This love makes the cowardly brave, the weak strong, the dull witty, the prosy poetic, the slouches tidy. Burton glows eloquent on this subject (Ill., 2), confounding, as usual, love with lust. Ovid notes that when Polyphemus courted Galatea the desire to please made him arrange his hair and beard, using the water as a mirror; wherein the Roman poet shows a keener sense of the effect of infatuation than his Greek predecessor, Theocritus, who (Id., XIV.) describes the enamoured Aischines as going about with beard neglected and hair dishevelled; or than Callimachus, concerning whose love-story of Acontius and Cydippe Mahaffy says (G. L. and T., 239):

"The pangs of the lover are described just as they are described in the case of his [Shakspere's] Orlando—dishevelled hair, blackness under the eyes, disordered dress, a desire for solitude, and the habit of writing the girl's name on every tree—symptoms which are perhaps now regarded as natural, and which many romantic personages have no doubt imitated because they found them in literature, and thought them the spontaneous expression of the grief of love, while they were really the artificial invention of Callimachus and his school, who thus fathered them upon human nature."

Professor Mahaffy overlooks, however, an important distinction which Shakspere makes. The witty Rosalind declares to Orlando, in her bantering way, that

"there is a man haunts the forest, that abuses our young plants with carving 'Rosalind' on their barks; hangs odes upon hawthorns and elegies on brambles, all, forsooth, deifying the name of Rosalind … he seems to have the quotidian of love upon him."

And when Orlando claims that he is that man, she replies, "There is none of my uncle's marks upon you; he taught me to know a man in love."

Orlando: "What were his marks?"


"A lean cheek, which you have not, a blue eye and sunken, which you have not … a beard neglected, which you have not … Then your hose should be ungartered, your bonnet unbanded, your sleeve unbuttoned, your shoe untied, and everything about you demonstrating a careless desolation."

Shakspere knew that love makes a man tidy, not untidy, hence Rosalind fails to find the artificial Greek symptoms of love in Orlando, while she admits that he carves her name on trees and hangs poems on them; acts of which lovers are quite capable. In Japan it is a national custom to hang love-poems on trees.


"Egotism," wrote Schopenhauer

"is a colossal thing; it overtops the world. For, if every individual had the choice between his own destruction and that of every other person in the world, I need not say what the decision would be in the vast majority of cases."

"Many a man," he declares on another page,[22] "would be capable of killing another merely to get some fat to smear on his boots." The grim old pessimist confesses that at first he advanced this opinion as a hyperbole; but on second thought he doubts if it is an exaggeration after all. Had he been more familiar with the habits of savages, he would have been fully justified in this doubt. An Australian has been known to bait his fish-hook with his own child when no other meat was at hand; and murders committed for equally trivial and selfish reasons are every-day affairs among wild tribes.


Egoism manifests itself in a thousand different ways, often in subtle disguise. Its greatest triumph lies in its having succeeded up to the present day in masquerading as love. Not only many modern egotists, but ancient Egyptians, Persians, and Hindoos, Greeks, and Romans, barbarians and savages, have been credited with love when in reality they manifested nothing but sexual self-love, the woman in the case being valued only as an object without which the beloved Ego could not have its selfish indulgence. By way of example let us take what Pallas says in his work on Russia (III., 70) of the Samoyedes:

"The wretched women of this nomadic people are obliged not only to do all the house-work, but to take down and erect the huts, pack and unpack the sleigh, and at the same time perform slavish duties for their husbands, who, except on a few amorous evenings, hardly bestow on them a look or a pleasant word, while expecting them to anticipate all their desires."

The typical shallow observer, whose testimony has done so much to prevent anthropology from being a science, would conclude, if he happened to see a Samoyede on one of these "amorous evenings," that he "loved" his wife, whereas it ought to be clear to the most obtuse that he loves only himself, caring for his wife merely as a means of gratifying his selfish appetites. In the preceding pages I endeavored to show that such a man may exhibit, in his relations to a woman, individual preference, monopolism, jealousy, hope and despair and hyperbolic expression of feeling, yet without giving the slightest indication of love—that is, of affection—for her. It is all egoism, and egoism is the antipode of love, which is a phase of altruism. Not that these selfish ingredients are absent in genuine love. Romantic love embraces both selfish and altruistic elements, but the former are subdued and overpowered by the latter, and sexual passion is not love unless the altruistic ingredients are present. It is these altruistic ingredients that we must now consider, beginning with sympathy, which is the entering wedge of altruism.


Sympathy means sharing the pains and pleasures of another—feeling the other's joys and sorrows as if they were our own, and therefore an eagerness to diminish the other's pains and increase the pleasures. Does uncivilized man exhibit this feeling? On the contrary, he gloats over another's anguish, while the other's joys arouse his envy. Pity for suffering men and animals does not exist in the lower strata of humanity. Monteiro says (A. and C., 134) that the negro

"has not the slightest idea of mercy, pity, or compassion for suffering. A fellow-creature, or animal, writhing in pain or torture, is to him a sight highly provocative of merriment and enjoyment. I have seen a number of blacks at Loanda, men, women, and children, stand round, roaring with laughter, at seeing a poor mongrel dog that had been run over by a cart, twist and roll about in agony on the ground till a white man put it out of its misery."

Cozzens relates (129-30) an instance of Indian cruelty which he witnessed among the Apaches. A mule, with his feet tied, was thrown on the ground. Thereupon two of these savages advanced and commenced with knives to cut the meat from the thighs and fleshy parts of the animal in large chunks, while the poor creature uttered the most terrible cries. Not till the meat had been cut clean to the bone did they kill the beast. And this hideous cruelty was inflicted for no other reason than because meat cut from a live animal "was considered more tender," Custer, who knew the Indian well, describes him as "a savage in every sense of the word; one whose cruel and ferocious nature far exceeds that of any wild beast of the desert." In the Jesuit Relations (Vol. XIII., 61) it takes ten pages to describe the tortures inflicted by the Hurons on a captive. Theodore Roosevelt writes in his Winning of the West (I., 95):

"The nature of the wild Indians has not changed. Not one man in a hundred, and not a single woman, escapes torments which a civilized man cannot so much as look another in the face and speak of. Impalement on charred stakes, finger-nails split off backwards, finger-joints chewed off, eyes burned out—these tortures can be mentioned, but there are others, equally normal and customary, which cannot even be hinted at, especially when women are the victims."

In his famous book, The Jesuits in North America, the historian Parkman gives many harrowing details of Indian cruelty toward prisoners; harmless women and children being subjected to the same fiendish tortures as the men. On one occasion he relates of the Iroquois (285) that

"they planted stakes in the bark houses of St. Ignace, and bound to them those of their prisoners whom they meant to sacrifice, male and female, from old age to infancy, husbands, mothers, and children, side by side. Then, as they retreated, they set the town on fire, and laughed with savage glee at the shrieks of anguish that rose from the blazing dwellings."

On page 248 he relates another typical instance of Iroquois cruelty.
Among their prisoners

"were three women, of whom the narrator was one, who had each a child of a few weeks or months old. At the first halt, their captors took the infants from them, tied them to wooden spits, placed them to die slowly before a fire, and feasted on them before the eyes of the agonized mothers, whose shrieks, supplications, and frantic efforts to break the cords that bound them were met with mockery and laughter."

Later on all the prisoners were subjected to further tortures

"designed to cause all possible suffering without touching life. It consisted in blows with sticks and cudgels, gashing their limbs with knives, cutting off their fingers with clamshells, scorching them with firebrands, and other indescribable tortures."

They cut off the breasts of one of the women and compelled her to eat them. Then all the women were stripped naked, and forced to dance to the singing of the male prisoners, amid the applause and laughter of the crowd.

If anyone in this hostile crowd had shown the slightest sympathy with the victims of this satanic cruelty, he would have been laughed at and insulted; for to the American Indians ferocity was a virtue, while "pity was a cowardly weakness at which their pride revolted." They were deliberately trained to cruelty from infancy, children being taught to break the legs of animals and otherwise to torture them. Nor were the women less ferocious than the men; indeed, when it came to torturing prisoners, the squaws often led the men. In the face of such facts, it seems almost like mockery to ask if these Indians were capable of falling in love. Could a Huron to whom cruelty was a virtue, a duty, and whose chief delight was the torture of men and women or animals, have harbored in his mind such a delicate, altruistic sentiment as romantic love, based on sympathy with another's joys and sorrows? You might as well expect a tiger to make romantic love to the Bengal maiden he has carried into the jungle for his supper. Cruelty is not incompatible with appetite, but it is a fatal obstacle to love based on affection. Facts prove this natural inference. The Iroquois girls were coarse wantons who indulged in free lust before marriage, and for whom the men felt such passion as is possible under the circumstances.

The absurdity of the claim that these cruel Indians felt love is made more glaringly obvious if we take a case nearer home; imagining a neighbor guilty of torturing harmless captive women with the obscene cruelty of the Indians, and yet attributing to him a capacity for refined love! The Indians would honor such a man as a colleague and hero; we should send him to the penitentiary, the gallows, or the madhouse.


It would be foolish to retort that the savage's delight in the torture of others is manifested only in the case of his enemies, for that is not true; and where he does not directly exult over the sufferings of others, he still shows his lack of sympathy by his indifference to those sufferings, often even in the case of his nearest relatives. The African explorer Andersson (O.R., 156) describes the "heart-rendering sorrow—at least outwardly," of a Damara woman whose husband had been killed by a rhinoceros, and who wailed in a most melancholy way:

"I heartily sympathized with her, and I am sure I was the only person present of all the members assembled … who at all felt for her lonely condition. Many a laugh was heard, but no one looked sad. No one asked or cared about the man, but each and all made anxious inquiries after the rhinoceros—such is the life of barbarians. Oh, ye sentimentalists of the Rousseau school—for some such still remain—witness what I have witnessed, and do witness daily, and you will soon cease to envy and praise the life of the savages."

"A sick person," writes Galton (190), "meets with no compassion; he is pushed out of his hut by his relations away from the fire into the cold; they do all they can to expedite his death, and when he appears to be dying, they heap oxhides over him till he is suffocated. Very few Damaras die a natural death."

In his book on the Indian Tribes of Guiana (151, 225) the Rev. W.H.
Brett gives two typical instances of the lack of sympathy in the New
World. The first is that of a poor young girl who was dreadfully burnt
by lying in a hammock when it caught fire:

"She seemed a very meek and patient child, and her look of gratitude for our sympathy was most affecting. Her friends, however, took no trouble about her, and she probably died soon after."

The second case is that of an Arawak boy who, during a canoe voyage, was seized with cholera. The Indians simply cast him on the edge of the shore, to be drowned by the rising tide.

Going to the other end of the continent we find Le Jeune writing of the Canadian Indians (in the Jesuit Relations, VI., 245): "These people are very little moved by compassion. They give the sick food and drink, but otherwise show no regard for them." In the second volume of the Relations (15) the missionary writer tells of a sick girl of nine, reduced to skin and bone. He asked the permission of the parents to baptize her, and they answered that he might take her and keep her, "for to them she was no better than a dead dog." And again (93) we read that in case of illness "they soon abandon those whose recovery is deemed hopeless."

Crossing the Continent to California we find in Powers (118) a pathetic account of the lack of filial piety, or sympathy with old age, which, he says, is peculiar to Indians in general. After a man has ceased to be useful as a warrior, though he may have been a hero of a hundred battles, he is compelled to go with his sons into the forest and bear home on his poor old shoulders the game they have killed. He totters along behind them "almost crushed to earth beneath a burden which their unencumbered strength is greatly more able to support, but they touch it not with so much as one of their fingers."


"The Gallinomeros kill their aged parents in a most coldblooded manner," says Bancroft (I., 390), and this custom, too, prevails on both sides of the Continent. The Canadians, according to Lalemant (Jesuit Relations, IV., 199),

"kill their fathers and mothers when they are so old that they can walk no longer, thinking that they are thus doing them a good service; for otherwise they would be compelled to die of hunger, as they have become unable to follow others when they change their location."

Henry Norman, in his book on the Far East, explains (553) why so few deaf, blind, and idiots are found among savages: they are destroyed or left to perish. Sutherland, in studying the custom of killing the aged and diseased, or leaving them to die of exposure, found express testimony to the prevalence of this loveless habit in twenty-eight different races of savages, and found it denied of only one. Lewis and Clarke give a list of Indian tribes by whom the aged were abandoned to starvation (II., Chap. 7), adding:

"Yet in their villages we saw no want of kindness to the aged: on the contrary, probably because in villages the means of more abundant subsistence renders such cruelty unnecessary, old people appeared to be treated with attention."

But it is obvious that kindness which does not go beyond the point where it interferes with our own comfort, is not true altruism. If one of two men who are perishing of thirst in the desert finds a cupful of water and shares it with the other, he shows sympathy; but if he finds a whole spring and shares it with the companion, his action does not deserve that name. It would be superfluous to make this remark were it not that the sentimentalists are constantly pointing to such sharing of abundance as evidence of sympathetic kindness. There is a whole volume of philosophy in Bates's remark (293) concerning Brazilian Indians: "The good-fellowship of our Cucámas seemed to arise, not from warm sympathy, but simply from the absence of eager selfishness in small matters." The Jesuit missionary Le Jeune devotes a whole chapter (V., 229-31) to such good qualities as he could find among the Canadian Indians. He is just to the point of generosity, but he is compelled to end with these words: "And yet I would not dare to assert that I have seen one act of real moral virtue in a savage. They have nothing but their own pleasure and satisfaction in view."


Schoolcraft relates a story of an Indian girl who saved her aged father's life by carrying him on her back to the new camping-place (Oneota, 88). Now Schoolcraft is not a witness on whom one can rely safely, and his case could be accepted as an illustration of an aboriginal trait only if it had been shown that the girl in question had never been subject to missionary influences. Nevertheless, such an act of filial devotion may well have occurred on the part of a woman. It was in a woman's heart that human sympathy was first born —together with her child. The helpless infant could not have survived without her sympathetic care, hence there was an important use for womanly sympathy which caused it to survive and grow, while man, immersed in wars and selfish struggles, remained hard of heart and knew not tenderness.

Yet in woman, too, the growth of sympathy was painfully slow. The practice of infanticide, for selfish reasons, was, as we shall see in later chapters, horribly prevalent among many of the lower races, and even where the young were tenderly reared, the feeling toward them was hardly what we call affection—a conscious, enduring devotion—but a sort of animal instinct which is shared by tigers and other fierce and cruel animals, and which endures but a short time. In Agassiz's book on Brazil we read (373), that the Indians "are cold in their family affections; and though the mothers are very fond of their babies, they seem comparatively indifferent to them as they grow up." As an illustration of this trait Agassiz mentions a sight he witnessed one day. A child who was to be taken far away to Rio stood on the deck crying, "while the whole family put off in a canoe, talking and laughing gaily, without showing him the least sympathy."


Apart from instinctive maternal love, sympathy appears to be as far to seek in the savage women as in the men. Authorities agree that in respect of cruelty the squaws even surpass the warriors. Thus Le Jeune attests (Jes. Rel., VI., 245), that among the Canadians the women were crueler toward captives than the men. In another place (V., 29), he writes that when prisoners were tortured the women and girls "blew and drove the flames over in their direction to burn them." In every Huron town, says Parkman (Jes. in N.A., XXXIV.), there were old squaws who "in vindictiveness, ferocity, and cruelty, far exceeded the men." The same is asserted of the Comanche women, who "delight in torturing the male prisoners." Concerning Chippewa war captives, Keating says (I., 173): "The marriageable women are reduced to servitude and are treated with great cruelty by the squaws." Among the Creeks the women even used to pay a premium of tobacco for the privilege of whipping prisoners of war (Schoolcraft, V., 280). These are typical instances. In Patagonia, writes Falkner (97), the Indian women follow their husbands, armed with clubs, sometimes and swords, and ravage and plunder the houses of everything they can find. Powers relates that when California Indians get too old to fight they have to assist the women in their drudgery. Thereupon the women, instead of setting them a good example by showing sympathy for their weakness, take their revenge and make them feel their humiliation keenly. Obviously among these savages, cruelty and ferocity have no sex, wherefore it would be as useless in one sex as in the other to seek for that sympathy which is an ingredient and a condition of romantic love.


From a Canadian Indian to a Greek philosopher it seems a far cry; yet the transition is easy and natural. To the Indian, as Parkman points out, "pity was a cowardly weakness," to be sternly repressed as unworthy of a man. Plato, for his part, wanted to banish poetry from his ideal republic because it overwhelms our feelings and makes us give way to sympathies which in real life our pride causes us to repress and which are "deemed the part of a woman" (Repub., X., 665). As for the special form of sympathy which enters into the nobler phases of the love between men and women—fusing their hearts and blending their souls—Plato's inability to appreciate such a thing may be inferred from the fact that in this same ideal republic he wanted to abolish the marriage even of individual bodies. Of the marriage of souls he, like the other Greeks, knew nothing. To him, as to his countrymen in general, love between man and woman was mere animal passion, far inferior in nobility and importance to love for boys, or friendship, or to filial, parental, or brotherly love.

From the point of view of sympathy, the difference between ancient passion and modern love is admirably revealed in Wagner's Tannhäuser. As I have summed it up elsewhere[23]:

"Venus shares only the joys of Tannhäuser, while Elizabeth is ready to suffer with him. Venus is carnal and selfish, Elizabeth affectionate and self-sacrificing. Venus degrades, Elizabeth ennobles; the depth of her love atones for the shallow, sinful infatuation of Tannhäuser. The abandoned Venus threatens revenge, the forsaken Elizabeth dies of grief."

There are stories of wifely devotion in Greek literature, but, like Oriental stories of the same kind (especially in India) they have a suspicious appearance of having been invented as object-lessons for wives, to render them more subservient to the selfish wishes of the husbands. Plutarch counsels a wife to share her husband's joys and sorrows, laugh when he laughs, weep when he weeps; but he fails to suggest the virtue of reciprocal sympathy on the husband's part; yet Plutarch had much higher notions regarding conjugal life than most of the Greeks. An approximation to the modern ideal is found only when we consider the curious Greek adoration of boys. Callicratides, in Lucian's [Greek: Erotes], after expressing his contempt for women and their ways, contrasts with them the manners of a well-bred youth who spends his time associating with poets and philosophers, or taking gymnastic and military exercises. "Who would not like," he continues,

"to sit opposite such a boy, hear him talk, share his labors, walk with him, nurse him in illness, go to sea with him, share darkness and chains with him if necessary? Those who hated him should be my enemies, those who loved him my friends. When he dies, I too should wish to die, and one grave should cover us."

Yet even here there is no real sympathy, because there is no altruism. Callicratides does not say he will die for the other, or that the other's pleasures are to him more important than his own.[24]


India is generally credited with having known and practised altruism long before Christ came to preach it. Kalidasa anticipates a modern idea when he remarks, in Sakuntala, that "Among persons who are very fond of each other, grief shared is grief halved." India, too, is famed for its monks or penitents, who were bidden to be compassionate to all living things, to treat strangers hospitably, to bless those that cursed them (Mann, VI., 48). But in reality the penitents were actuated by the most selfish of motives; they believed that by obeying those precepts and undergoing various ascetic practices, they would get such power that even the gods would dread them; and the Sanscrit dramas are full of illustrations of the detestably selfish use they made of the power thus acquired. In Sakuntala we read how a poor girl's whole life was ruined by the curse hurled at her by one of these "saints," for the trivial reason that, being absorbed in thoughts of love, she did not hear his voice and attend to his personal comforts at once; while Kausika's Rage illustrates the diabolical cruelty with which another of these saints persecutes a king and queen because he had been disturbed in his incantations. It is possible that some of these penitents, living in the forest and having no other companions, learned to love the animals that came to see them; but the much-vaunted kindness to animals of the Hindoos in general is merely a matter of superstition and not an outcome of sympathy. He has not even a fellow-feeling for suffering human beings. How far he was from realizing Christ's "blessed are the merciful," may be inferred from what the Abbé Dubois says:

"The feelings of commiseration and pity, as far as respects the sufferings of others, never enter into his heart. He will see an unhappy being perish on the road, or even at his own gate, if belonging to another caste; and will not stir to help him to a drop of water, though it were to save his life."

"To kill a cow," says the same writer (I., 176), "is a crime which the Hindoo laws punish with death;" and these same Hindoos treat women, especially widows, with fiendish cruelty. It would be absurd to suppose that a people who are so pitiless to human beings could be actuated by sympathy in their devout attitude toward some animals. Superstition is the spring of their actions. In Dahomey any person who kills a sacred (non-poisonous) snake is condemned to be buried alive. In Egypt it was a capital offence to kill an ibis, even accidentally. What we call lynching seems to have arisen in connection with such superstitions:

"The enraged multitude did not wait for the slow process of law, but put the offender to death with their own hands." At the same time some animals "which were deemed divinities in one home, were treated as nuisances and destroyed in others." (Kendrick, II., I-21.)


If we study the evolution of human sympathy we find that it begins, not in reference to animals but to human beings. The first stage is a mother's feeling going out to her child. Next, the family as a whole is included, and then the tribe. An Australian kills, as a matter of course, everyone he comes across in the wilderness not belonging to his tribe. To the present day race hatred, jingoism, and religious differences obstruct the growth of cosmopolitan sympathy such as Christ demanded. His religion has done much, however, to widen the circle of sympathy and to make known its ravishing delights. The doctrine that it is more blessed to give than to receive is literally true for those who are of a sympathetic disposition. Parents enjoy the pleasures of their children as they never did their own egotistic delights. In various ways sympathy has continued to grow, and at the present day the most refined and tender men and women include animals within the range of their pity and affection. We organize societies for their protection, and we protest against the slaughter of birds that live on islands, thousands of miles away. Our imagination has become so sensitive and vivid that it gives us a keen pang to think of the happy lives of these birds as being ruthlessly cut short and their young left to die in their nests in the agonies of cruel starvation. If we compare with this state of mind that of the African of whom Burton wrote in his Two Trips to Gorilla Land, that "Cruelty seems to be with him a necessity of life, and all his highest enjoyments are connected with causing pain and inflicting death"—we need no other argument to convince us that a savage cannot possibly feel romantic love, because that implies a capacity for the tenderest and subtlest sympathy. I would sooner believe a tiger capable of such love than a savage, for the tiger practises cruelty unconsciously and accidentally while in quest of food, whereas the primitive man indulges in cruelty for cruelty's sake, and for the delight it gives him. We have here one more illustration of the change and growth of sentiments. Man's emotions develop as well as his reasoning powers, and one might as well expect an Australian, who cannot count five, to solve a problem in trigonometry as to love a woman as we love her.


In romantic love altruism reaches its climax. Turgenieff did not exaggerate when he said that "it is in a man really in love as if his personality were eliminated." Genuine love makes a man shed egoism as a snake sheds its skin. His one thought is: "How can I make her happy and save her from grief" at whatever cost to his own comfort. Amorous sympathy implies a complete self-surrender, an exchange of personalities:

     My true love hath my heart, and I have his,
     By just exchange one for the other given.

     It is the secret sympathy,
     The silver link, the silken tie,
     Which heart to heart, and mind to mind,
     In body and in soul can bind.

To a woman who wishes to be loved truly and permanently, a sympathetic disposition is as essential as modesty, and more essential than beauty. The author of Love Affairs of Some Famous Men has wittily remarked that "Love at first sight is easy enough; what a girl wants is a man who can love her when he sees her every day." That, he might have added, is impossible unless she can enter into another's joys and sorrows. Many a spark of love kindled at sight of a pretty face and bright eyes is extinguished after a short acquaintance which reveals a cold and selfish character. A man feels instinctively that a girl who is not a sympathetic sweetheart will not be a sympathetic wife and mother, so he turns his attention elsewhere. Selfishness in a man is perhaps a degree less offensive, because competition and the struggle for existence necessarily foster it; yet a man who does not merge his personality in that of his chosen girl is not truly in love, however much he may be infatuated. There can be sympathy without love, but no love without sympathy. It is an essential ingredient, an absolute test, of romantic love.


Silvius, in As You Like It, says that love is "all adoration," and in Twelfth Night, when Olivia asks: "How does he love me?" Viola answers: "With adorations." Romeo asks: "What shall I swear by?" and Juliet replies:

                   Do not swear at all;
     Or, if thou wilt, swear by thy gracious self,
     Which is the god of my idolatry,
     And I'll believe thee.


Thus Shakspere knew that love is, as Emerson defined it, the "deification of persons," and that women adore as well as men. Helena, in All's Well that Ends Well, says of her love for Bertram:

                   Thus, Indian-like
     Religious in mine error, I adore
     The sun that looks upon his worshipper,
     But knows of him no more.

"Shakspere shared with Goethe, Petrarch, Raphael, Dante, Rousseau, Jean Paul, … a mystical veneration for the feminine element of humanity as the higher and more divine." (Dowden, III.) Within the last few centuries, adoration of femininity has become a sort of instinct in men, reaching its climax in romantic love. The modern lover is like a sculptor who takes an ordinary block of marble and carves a goddess out of it. His belief that his idol is a living goddess is, of course, an illusion, but the feeling is real, however fantastic and romantic it may seem. He is so thoroughly convinced of the incomparable superiority of his chosen divinity that "it is marvellous to him that all the world does not want her too, and he is in a panic when he thinks of it," as Charles Dudley Warner puts it. Ouida speaks of "the graceful hypocrisies of courtship," and no doubt there are many such; but in romantic love there is no hypocrisy; its devotion and adoration are absolutely sincere.

The romantic lover adores not only the girl herself but everything associated with her. This phase of love is poetically delineated in Goethe's Werther:

"To-day," Werther writes to his friend, "I could not go to see Lotta, being unavoidably detained by company. What was there to do? I sent my valet to her, merely in order to have someone about me who had been near her. With what impatience I expected him, with what joy I saw him return! I should have liked to seize him by the hand and kiss him, had I not been ashamed.

"There is a legend of a Bononian stone which being placed in the sun absorbs his rays and emits them at night. In such a light I saw that valet. The knowledge that her eyes had rested on his face, his cheeks, the buttons and the collar of his coat, made all these things valuable, sacred, in my eyes. At that moment I would not have exchanged that fellow for a thousand dollars, so happy was I in his presence. God forbid that you should laugh at this. William, are these things phantasms if they make us happy?"

Fielding wrote a poem on a half-penny which a young lady had given to a beggar, and which the poet redeemed for a half-crown. Sir Richard Steele wrote to Miss Scurlock:

"You must give me either a fan, a mask, or a glove you have worn, or I cannot live; otherwise you must expect that I'll kiss your hand, or, when I next sit by you, steal your handkerchief."

Modern literature is full of such evidences of veneration for the fair sex. The lover worships the very ground she trod on, and is enraptured at the thought of breathing the same atmosphere that surrounded her. To express his adoration he thinks and talks, as we have seen, in perpetual hyperbole:

     It's a year almost that I have not seen her;
     Oh! last summer green things were greener,
     Brambles fewer, the blue sky bluer.
                                      —C.G. Rossetti.


The adoration of women, individually or collectively, is, however, an entirely modern phenomenon, and is even now very far from being universal. As Professor Chamberlain has pointed out (345): "Among ourselves woman-worship nourishes among the well-to-do, but is almost, if not entirely, absent among the peasantry." Still less would we expect to find it among the lower races. Primitive times were warlike times, during which warriors were more important than wives, sons more useful than daughters. Sons also were needed for ancestor worship, which was believed to be essential for bliss in a future life. For these reasons, and because women were weaker and the victims of natural physical disadvantages, they were despised as vastly inferior to men, and while a son was welcomed with joy, the birth of a daughter was bewailed as a calamity, and in many countries she was lucky—or rather unlucky—if she was allowed to live at all.

A whole volume of the size of this one might be made up of extracts from the works of explorers and missionaries describing the contempt for women—frequently coupled with maltreatment—exhibited by the lower races in all parts of the world. But as the attitude of Africans, Australians, Polynesians, Americans, and others, is to be fully described in future chapters, we can limit ourselves here to a few sample cases taken at random.[25] Jacques and Storm relate (Floss, II., 423) how one day in a Central African village, the rumor spread that a goat had been carried off by a crocodile. Everybody ran to and fro in great excitement until it was ascertained that the victim was only a woman, whereupon quiet was restored. If an Indian refuses to quarrel with a squaw or beat her, this is due, as Charlevoix explains (VI., 44), to the fact that he would consider that as unworthy of a warrior, as she is too far beneath him. In Tahiti the head of a husband or father was sacred from a woman's touch. Offerings to the gods would have been polluted if touched by a woman. In Siam the wife had to sleep on a lower pillow than her husband's, to remind her of her inferiority. No woman was allowed to enter the house of a Maori chief. Among the Samoyedes and Ostyaks a wife was not allowed in any corner of the tent except her own; after pitching the tent she was obliged to fumigate it before the men would enter. The Zulus regard their women "with haughty contempt." Among Mohammedans a woman has a definite value only in so far as she is related to a husband; unmarried she will always be despised, and heaven has no room for her. (Ploss, II., 577-78.) In India the blessing bestowed on girls by elders and priests is the insulting

"Mayst thou have eight sons, and may thy husband survive thee." "On every occasion the poor girl is made to feel that she is an unwelcome guest in the family." (Ramabai Saravasti, 13.)

William Jameson Reid, who visited some of the unexplored regions of Northeastern Thibet gives a graphic description of the hardness and misery of woman's lot among the Pa-Urgs:

"Although, owing to the scarcity, a woman is a valuable commodity, she is treated with the utmost contempt, and her existence is infinitely worse than the very animals of her lord and master. Polyandry is generally practised, increasing the horror of her position, for she is required to be a slave to a number of masters, who treat her with the most rigorous harshness and brutality. From the day of her birth until her death (few Pa-Urg women live to be fifty) her life is one protracted period of degradation. She is called upon to perform the most menial and degrading of services and the entire manual labor of the community, it being considered base of a male to engage in other labor than that of warfare and the chase….

"When a child is to be born the mother is driven from the village in which she lives, and is compelled to take up her abode in some roadside hut or cave in the open country, a scanty supply of food, furnished by her husbands, being brought to her by the other women of the tribe. When the child is born the mother remains with it for one or two months, and then leaving it in a cave, returns to the village and informs her eldest husband of its birth and the place where she has left it. If the child is a male, some consideration is shown to her; should it be a female, however, her lot is frightful, for aside from the severe beating to which she is subjected by her husband, she suffers the scorn and contumely of the rest of the tribe. If a male child, the husband goes to the cave and brings it back to the village; if it is of the opposite sex he is left to his own volition; sometimes he returns with the female infant; as often he ignores it entirely and allows it to perish, or may dispose of it to some other man as a prospective wife."[26]

In Corea women are so little esteemed that they do not even receive separate names, and a husband considers it an act of condescension to speak to his wife. When a young man of the ruling classes marries, he spends three or four days with his bride, then returns to his concubine, "in order to prove that he does not care much for the bride." (Ploss, II., 434.) "The condition of Chinese women is most pitiable," writes the Abbé Hue:

"Suffering, privation, contempt, all kinds of misery and degradation, seize on her in the cradle, and accompany her to the tomb. Her birth is commonly regarded as a humiliation and a disgrace to the family—an evident sign of the malediction of heaven. If she be not immediately suffocated, a girl is regarded and treated as a creature radically despicable, and scarcely belonging to the human race."

He adds that if a bridegroom dies, the most honorable course for the bride is to commit suicide. Even the Japanese, so highly civilized in some respects, look down on women with unfeigned contempt, likening themselves to heaven and the women to earth. There are ten stations on the way up the sacred mount Fuji. Formerly no woman was allowed to climb above the eighth. Professor Basil Hall Chamberlain, of the University of Tokyo, has a foot-note in his Things Japanese (274) in which he relates that in the introduction to his translation of the Kojiki he had drawn attention to the inferior place held by women in ancient as in modern Japan. Some years afterward six of the chief literati of the old school translated this introduction into Japanese. They patted the author on the head for many things, but when they reached the observation anent the subjection of women, their wrath exploded:

"The subordination of women to men," so ran their commentary, "is an extremely correct custom. To think the contrary is to harbor European prejudice…. For the man to take precedence over the woman is the grand law of heaven and earth. To ignore this, and to talk of the contrary as barbarous, is absurd."

The way in which these kind, gentle, and pretty women are treated by the men, Chamberlain says on another page,

"has hitherto been such as might cause a pang to any generous European heart…. At the present moment the greatest duchess or marchioness in the land is still her husband's drudge. She fetches and carries for him, bows down humbly in the hall when my lord sallies forth on his walks abroad, waits upon him at meals, may be divorced at his good pleasure."

This testimony regarding a nation which in some things—especially aesthetic culture and general courteousness—surpasses Europe and America, is of special value, as it shows that love, based on sympathy with women's joys and sorrows, and adoration of their peculiar qualities, is everywhere the last flower of civilization, and not, as the sentimentalists claim, the first. If even the advanced Japanese are unable to feel romantic love—for you cannot adore what you egotistically look down on—it is absurd to look for it among barbarians and savages, such as the Fuegians, who, in times of necessity, eat their old women, or the Australians, among whom not many women are allowed to die a natural death, "they being generally despatched ere they become old and emaciated, that so much good food may not be lost."[27]

There are some apparent exceptions to the universal contempt for females even among cannibals. Thus it is known that the Peruvian Casibos never eat women. It is natural to jump to the conclusion that this is due to respect for the female sex. It is, however, as Tschudi shows, assignable to exactly the opposite feeling:

"All the South American Indians, who still remain under the influence of sorcery and empiricism, consider women in the light of impure and evil beings, and calculated to injure them. Among a few of the less rude nations this aversion is apparent in domestic life, in a certain unconquerable contempt of females. With the anthropophagi the feeling extends, fortunately, to their flesh, which is held to be poisonous."

The Caribs had a different reason for making it unlawful to eat women. "Those who were captured," says P. Martyr, "were kept for breeding, as we keep fowl, etc," Sir Samuel Baker relates (A.N., 240), that among the Latookas it was considered a disgrace to kill a woman—not, however, because of any respect felt for the sex, but because of the scarcity and money value of women.


Equally deceptive are all other apparent exceptions to the customary contempt for women. While the women of Fiji, Tonga, and other islands of the Pacific were excluded from all religious worship, and Papuan females were not even allowed to approach a temple, it is not uncommon among the inferior races for women to be priestesses. Bosnian relates (363) that on the African Slave Coast the women who served as priestesses enjoyed absolute sway over their husbands, who were in the habit of serving them on their knees. This, however, was contrary to the general rule, wherefore it is obvious that the homage was not to the woman as such, but to the priestess. The feeling inspired in such cases is, moreover, fear rather than respect; the priestess among savages is a sorceress, usually an old woman whose charms have faded, and who has no other way of asserting herself than by assuming a pretence to supernatural powers and making herself feared as a sorceress. Hysterical persons are believed by savages to be possessed of spirits, and as women are specially liable to hysteria and to hallucinations, it was natural that they should be held eligible for priestly duties. Consequently, if there was any respect involved here at all, it was for an infirmity, not for a virtue—a result of superstition, not of appreciation or admiration of special feminine qualities.[28]


Dire confusion regarding woman's status has been created in many minds by three distinct ethnologic phenomena, which are, moreover, often confounded: (1) kinship and heredity through females; (2) matriarchy, or woman's rule in the family (domestic); (3) gynaicocracy, or woman's rule in the tribe (political).

(1) It is a remarkable fact that among many tribes, especially in Australia, America, and Africa, children are named after their mother, while rank and property, too, are often inherited in the female line of descent. Lafitau observed this custom among American Indians more than a century ago, and in 1861 a Swiss jurist, Bachofen, published a book in which he tried to prove, with reference to this "kinship through mothers only," that it indicated that there was a time when women everywhere ruled over men. A study of ethnologic data shows, however, that this inference is absolutely unwarranted by the facts. In Australia, for instance, where children are most commonly named after their mother's clan, there is no trace of woman's rule over man, either in the present or the past. The man treats the woman as a master treats his slaves, and is complete master of her children. Cunow, an authority on Australian relationships, remarks (136):

"Nothing could be more perverse than to infer from the custom of reasoning kinship through females, that woman rules there, and that a father is not master of his children. On the contrary, the father regards himself everywhere, even in tribes with a female line of descent, as the real procreator. He is considered to be the one who plants the germ and the woman as merely the soil in which it grows. And as the wife belongs to him, so does the child that comes from her womb. Therefore he claims also those children of his wife concerning whom he knows or assumes that he did not beget them; for they grew on his soil."

Similarly with the American Indians. Grosse has devoted several pages (73-80) to show that with the tribes among which kinship through females prevails woman's position is not in the least better than with the others. Everywhere woman is bought, obliged to submit to polygamy, compelled to do the hardest and least honorable work, and often treated worse than a dog. The same is true of the African tribes among whom kinship in the female line prevails.

If, therefore, kinship through mothers does not argue female supremacy, how did that kinship arise? Le Jeune offered a plausible explanation as long ago as 1632. In the Jesuit Relations (VI., 255), after describing the immorality of the Indians, he goes on to say:

"As these people are well aware of this corruption, they prefer to take the children of their sisters as heirs, rather than their own, or than those of their brothers, calling in question the fidelity of their wives, and being unable to doubt that these nephews come from their own blood. Also among the Hurons—who are more licentious than our Montagnais, because they are better fed—it is not the child of a captain but his sister's son, who succeeds the father."

The same explanation has been advanced by other writers and by the natives of other countries where kinship through females prevails;[29] and it doubtless holds true in many cases.

In others the custom of naming children after their mothers is probably simply a result of the fact that a child is always more closely associated with the mother than with the father. She brings it into the world, suckles it, and watches over it; in the primitive times, even if promiscuity was not prevalent, marriages were of short duration and divorces frequent, wherefore the male parentage would be so constantly in doubt that the only feasible thing was to name the children after their mothers. For our purposes, fortunately, this knotty problem of the origin of kinship through females, which has given sociologists so much trouble,[30] does not need to be solved. We are concerned solely with the question, "Does kinship in the female line indicate the supremacy of women, or their respectful treatment?" and that question, as we have seen, must be answered with a most emphatic No. There is not a single fact to bear out the theory that man's rule was ever preceded by a period when woman ruled. The lower we descend, the more absolute and cruelly selfish do we find man's rule over woman. The stronger sex everywhere reduces the weaker to practical slavery and holds it in contempt. Primitive woman has not yet developed these qualities in which her peculiar strength lies, and if she had, the men would be too coarse to appreciate them.


(2) As we ascend in the scale we find a few cases where women rule or at least share the rule with the men; but these occur not among savages but with the lower and higher barbarians, and at the same time they are, as Grosse remarks (161), "among the scarcest curiosities of ethnology." The Garos of Assam have women at the head of their clans. Dyak women are consulted in political matters and have equal rights with the men. Macassar women in Celebes also are consulted as regards public affairs, and frequently ascend the throne. A few similar cases have been noted in Africa, where, e.g., the princesses of the Ashantees domineer over their husbands; but these apply only to the ruling class, and do not concern the sex as a whole. Some strange tales of masculine submission in Nicaragua are told by Herrera. But the best-known instance is that of the Iroquois and Hurons. Their women, as Lafitau relates (I., 71), owned the land, and the crops, they decided upon peace or war, took charge of slaves, and made marriages. The Huron Wyandots had a political council consisting of four women. The Iroquois Seneca women could chase lazy husbands from the premises, and could even depose a chief. Yet these cases are not conclusive as to the real status of the women in the tribe. The facts cited are, as John Fiske remarks (Disc. Amer., I., 68), "not incompatible with the subjection of women to extreme drudgery and ill-treatment." Charlevoix, one of the eye-witnesses to these exceptional privileges granted to some Indian women, declares expressly that their domination was illusory; that they were, at home, the slaves of their husbands; that the men despised them thoroughly, and that the epithet "woman" was an insult.[31] And Morgan, who made such a thorough study of the Iroquois, declares (322) that "the Indian regarded woman as the inferior, the dependent, and the servant of man, and, from nature and habit, she actually considered herself to be so." The two honorable employments among Indians were war and hunting, and these were reserved for the men. Other employments were considered degrading and were therefore gallantly reserved for the women.


Comanche Indians, who treated their squaws with especial contempt, nevertheless would not hesitate on occasion to submit to the rule of a female chief (Bancroft, I., 509); and the same is true of other tribes in America, Africa, etc. (Grosse, 163). In this respect, barbarians do not differ from civilized races; queenship is a question of blood or family and tells us nothing whatever about the status of women in general. As regards the "equal rights" of the Dyak women just referred to, if they really have them, it is not as women, but as men, that is, in so far as they have become like men. This we see from what Schwaner says (I., 161) of the tribes in the Southeast:

"The women are allowed great privileges and liberties. Not infrequently they rule at home and over whole tribes with manly power, incite to war, and often personally lead the men to battle."

Honors paid to such viragoes are honors to masculinity, not to femininity.


Here again the transition from the barbarian to the Greek is easy and natural. The ancient Greek looked down on women as women. "One man," exclaims Iphigenia in Euripides, "is worth more than ten thousand women." There were, of course, certain virtues that were esteemed in women, but these, as Becker has said, differed but little from those required of an obedient slave. It is only in so far as women displayed masculine qualities that they were held worthy of higher honor. The heroines of Plutarch's essay on "The Virtues of Women" are women who are praised for patriotic, soldier-like qualities, and actions. Plato believed that men who were bad in this life would, on their next birth, be women. The elevation of women, he held, could be best accomplished by bringing them up to be like men. But this matter will be discussed more fully in the chapter on Greece, as will that of the adulation which was paid to wanton women by Greek and Roman poets, and which has been often mistaken for adoration. George Eliot speaks of "that adoration which a young man gives to a woman whom he feels to be greater and better than himself." No Greek ever felt a woman to be "greater and better than himself," wherefore true adoration—the deification of persons—was out of the question. But there was no reason why a Greek or Roman should not have indulged in servile flattery and hypocritical praise for the selfish purpose of securing the carnal favors of a mercenarily coy courtesan. He was capable of adulation but not of adoration, for one cannot adore a slave, a drudge or a wanton. The author of the Lover's Lexicon claims, indeed, that "love can and does exist without respect," but that is false. Infatuation of the senses may exist without respect, but refined, sentimental love is blighted by the discovery of impurity or vulgarity. Adoration is essential to true love, and adoration includes respect.


If we must, therefore, conclude that man in primitive and ancient times was unable to feel that love of which adoration is an essential ingredient, how is it with women? From the earliest times, have they not been taught, with club and otherwise, to look up to man as a superior being, and did not this enable them to adore him with true love? No, for primitive women, though they might fear or admire man for his superior power, were too coarse, obscene, ignorant, and degraded—being as a rule even lower than the men—to be able to share even a single ingredient of the refined love that we experience. At the same time it may be said (though it sounds sarcastic) that woman had a natural advantage over man in being gradually trained to an attitude of devotion. Just as the care of her infants taught her sympathy, so the daily inculcated duty of sacrificing herself for her lord and master fostered the germs of adoration. Consequently we find at more advanced stages of civilization, like those represented by India, Greece, and Japan, that whenever we come across a story whose spirit approaches the modern idea of love, the embodiment of that love is nearly always a woman. Woman had been taught to worship man while he still wallowed in the mire of masculine selfishness and despised her as an inferior. And to the present day, though it is not considered decorous for young women to reveal their feelings till after marriage or engagement, they adore their chosen ones:

     For love's insinuating fire they fan
     With sweet ideas of a god like man.

In this respect, as in so many others, woman has led civilization. Man, too, gradually learned to doff his selfishness, and to respect and adore women, but it took many centuries to accomplish the change, which was due largely to the influence of Christ's teachings. As long as the aggressive masculine virtues alone were respected, feminine gentleness and pity could not but be despised as virtues of a lower grade, if virtues at all. But as war became less and less the sole or chief occupation of the best men, the feminine virtues, and those who exercised them, claimed and received a larger share of respect.

Christianity emphasized and honored the feminine virtues of patience, meekness, humility, compassion, gentleness, and thus helped to place women on a level with man, and in the noblest of moral qualities even above him. Mariolatry, too, exerted a great influence. The worship of one immaculate woman gradually taught men to respect and adore other women, and as a matter of course, it was the lover who found it easiest to get down on his knees before the girl he worshipped.


One day while lunching at an African foudak, half way between Tangier and Tetuan, I was led to moralize on the conjugal superiority of Mohammedan roosters to Mohammedan men. Noticing a fine large cock in the yard, I threw him a handful of bread-crumbs. He was all alone at the moment and might have easily gobbled them all up. Instead of doing such a selfish thing, he loudly summoned his harem with that peculiar clucking sound which is as unmistakable to fowls as is the word dinner or the boom of a gong to us. In a few seconds the hens had gathered and disposed of the bread, leaving not a crumb to their gallant lord and master. I need not add that the Sultan of a human harem in Morocco would have behaved very differently under analogous circumstances.


The dictionary makers derive the word gallant from all sorts of roots in divers languages, meaning gay, brave, festive, proud, lascivious, and so on. Why not derive if from the Latin gallus, rooster? A rooster combines in himself all the different meanings of the word gallant. He is showy in appearance, brave, daring, attentive to females, and, above all, chivalrous, that is, inclined to show disinterested courtesy to the weaker sex, as we have just seen. In this last respect, it is true, the rooster stands not alone. It is a trait of male animals in general to treat their females unselfishly in regard to feeding and otherwise.


If we now turn to human beings, we have to ascend many strata of civilization before we come across anything resembling the unselfish gallantry of the rooster. The Australian savage, when he has speared a kangaroo, makes his wife cook it, then selects the juiciest cuts for himself and the other men, leaving the bones to the women and dogs.

Ascending to the much higher Polynesians and American Indians we still find that the women have to content themselves with what the men leave. A Hawaiian even considers it a disgrace to eat at the same place as his wife, or with the same utensils.

What Kowney says (173) of the Nagas of India—"she does everything the husband will not, and he considers it effeminate to do anything but fight, hunt, and fish"—is true of the lower races in general. An African Kaffir, says Wood (73), would consider it beneath his dignity to as much as lift a basket of rice on the head of even his favorite wife; he sits calmly on the ground and allows some woman to help his busy wife. "One of my friends," he continues,

"when rather new to Kaffirland, happened to look into a hut and there saw a stalwart Kaffir sitting and smoking his pipe, while the women were hard at work in the sun, building huts, carrying timber, and performing all kinds of severe labor. Struck with a natural indignation at such behavior, he told the smoker to get up and work like a man. This idea was too much even for the native politeness of the Kaffir, who burst into a laugh at so absurd a notion. 'Women work,' said he, 'men sit in the house and smoke.'"

MacDonald relates (in Africana, I., 35) that "a woman always kneels when she has occasion to talk to a man." Even queens must in some cases go on their knees before their husbands. (Ratzel, I., 254.) Caillé gives similar testimony regarding the Waissulo, and Mungo Park (347) describes the return of one of his companions to the capital of Dentila, after an absence of three years:

"As soon as he had seated himself upon a mat, by the threshold of his door, a young woman (his intended bride) brought a little water in a calabash, and kneeling down before him, desired him to wash his hands; when he had done this, the girl, with a tear of joy sparkling in her eyes, drank the water; this being considered as the greatest proof she could possibly give him of her fidelity and attachment."

An Eskimo, when building a house, looks on lazily while his women carry stones "almost heavy enough to break their backs." The ungallant men not only compel the women to be their drudges, but slyly create a sentiment that it is disgraceful for a man to assist them. Of the Patagonian Indians Falkner asserts that the women are so rigidly "obliged to perform their duty, that their husbands cannot help them on any occasion, or in the greatest distress, without incurring the highest ignominy," and this is the general feeling, of which other illustrations will be given in later chapters. Foolish sentimentalists have tried to excuse the Indians on the ground that they have no time to attend to anything but fighting and hunting. But they always make the squaws do the hard work, whether there be any war and hunting or not. A white American girl, accustomed to the gallant attentions of her lover, would not smile on the red Dacota suitor of whom Riggs writes (205):

"When the family are abed and asleep, he often visits her in her mother's tent, or he finds her out in the grove in the day time gathering fuel. She has the load of sticks made up, and when she kneels down to take it on her back, possibly he takes her hand and helps her up and then walks home by her side. Such was the custom In the olden time."

Still, there is a germ of gallantry here. The Dacota at least helps to load his human donkey, while the Kaffir refuses to do even that.

Colonel James Smith, who had been adopted by the Indians, relates (45) how one day he helped the squaws to hoe corn. They approved of it, but the old men afterward chid him for degrading himself by hoeing corn like a squaw. He slyly adds that, as he was never very fond of work, they had no occasion to scold him again. We read in Schoolcraft (V., 268) that among the Creeks, during courtship, the young man used to help the girl hoe the corn in her field, plant her beans and set poles for them to run upon. But this was not intended as an act of gallant assistance; it had a symbolic meaning. The running up of the beans on the poles and the entwining of their vines was "thought emblematical of their approaching union and bondage." Morgan states expressly in his classical work on the Iroquois (332) that "no attempts by the unmarried to please or gratify each other by acts of personal attention were ever made." In other words the Indians knew not gallantry in the sense of disinterested courtesy to the weaker sex—the gallantry which is an essential ingredient of romantic love.

Germs of gallantry may perhaps be found in Borneo where, as St. John relates (I., 161), a young Dyak may help the girl he wants to marry in her farm work, carrying home her load of vegetables or wood, or make her presents of rings, a petticoat, etc. But such a statement must be interpreted with caution.

The very fact that they make the women do the field work and carry the wood habitually, shows that the Dyaks are not gallant. Momentary favors for the sake of securing favors in return, or of arranging an ephemeral Bornean "marriage," are not acts of disinterested courtesy to the weaker sex. The Dyaks themselves clearly understand that such attentions are mere bids for favors. As a missionary cited by Ling Roth (1., 13.1) remarks:

"If a woman handed to a man betel-nut and sirah to eat, or if a man paid her the smallest attention, such as we should term only common politeness, it would be sufficient to excuse a jealous husband for striking a man."

It is the same in India.

"The politeness, attention, and gallantry which the Europeans practise toward the ladies, although often proceeding from esteem and respect, are invariably ascribed by the Hindoos to a different motive."

(Dubois, I., 271.) Here, as everywhere in former times, woman existed not for her own sake but for man's convenience, comfort, and pleasure; why, therefore, should he bother to do anything to please her? In the Kaniasoutram there is a chapter on the duties of a model wife, in which she is instructed to do all the work not only at home but in garden, field, and stable. She must go to bed after her husband and get up before him. She must try to excel all other wives in faithfully serving her lord and master. She must not even allow the maid-servant to wash his feet, but must do it with her own hands. The Laws of Manu are full of such precepts, most of them amazingly ungallant. The horrible maltreatment of women in India, which it would be an unpardonable euphuism to call simply ungallant, will be dwelt on in a later chapter.

It has been said a thousand times that the best measure of a nation's civilization is its treatment of women. It would be more accurate to say that kind, courteous treatment of women is the last and highest product of civilization. The Greeks and Hindoos had reached a high level of culture in many respects, yet, judged by their treatment of women, the Greeks were barbarians and the Hindoos incarnate fiends. Scholars are sometimes surprisingly reckless in their assumptions. Thus Hommel (1., 417) declares that woman must have held an honored position in Babylonia,[32] because in the ancient texts that have come down to us the words mother and wife always precede the words father and husband. Yet, as Dubois mentions incidentally, the Brahmin texts also place the feminine word before the masculine, and the Brahmins treat women more cruelly than the lowest savages treat them.


I have not been able to find evidence of a gallant, chivalrous, magnanimous attitude toward women in the records of any ancient nation, and as romantic love is inconceivable without such an attitude, and a constant interchange of kindnesses, we may infer from this alone that these nations were strangers to such love. Professor Ebers makes a special plea for the Egyptians. Noting the statements of Herodotus and Diodorus regarding the greater degree of liberty enjoyed by their women as compared with the Greek, he bases thereon the inference that in their treatment of women the Egyptians were superior to all other nations of antiquity. Perhaps they were; it is not claiming much. But Professor Kendrick notes (I., 46) that although it may be true that the Egyptian women went to market and carried on trades while the men remained at home working at the loom, this is capable of receiving quite a different interpretation from that given by Ebers. The Egyptians regarded work at the loom more as a matter of skill than the Greeks did; and if they allowed the women to do the marketing, that may have been because they preferred to have them carry the heavy burdens and do the harder work, after the fashion of savages and barbarians.

If the Egyptians ever did show any respect for women they have carefully wiped out all traces of it in modern life. To-day,

"among the lower classes and in rural districts the wife is her husband's servant. She works while he smokes and gossips. But among the higher classes, too, the woman actually stands far below the man. He never chats with her, never communicates to her his affairs and cares. Even after death she does not rest by his side, but is separated from him by a wall." (Ploss, II., 450.)

Polygamy prevails, as in ancient times, and polygamy everywhere indicates a low position of woman. Ebers comments on the circumspection shown by the ancient Egyptians in drawing up their marriage contracts, adding that "in many cases there were even trial marriages"—a most amazing "even" in view of what he is trying to prove. A modern lover, as I have said before, would reject the very idea of such a trial marriage with the utmost scorn and indignation, because he feels certain that his love is eternal and unalterable. Time may show that he was mistaken, but that does not affect his present feeling. That sublime confidence in the eternity of his passion is one of the hall-marks of romantic love. The Egyptian had it not. He not only sanctioned degrading trial marriages, but enacted a barbarous law which enabled a man to divorce any wife at pleasure by simply pronouncing the words "thou art expelled." In modern Egypt, says Lane (I., 247-51), there are many men who have had twenty, thirty, or more wives, and women who have had a dozen or more husbands. Some take a new wife every month. Thus the Egyptians are matrimonially on a level with the savage and barbarian North American Indians, Tasmanians, Samoans, Dyaks, Malayans, Tartars, many negro tribes, Arabs, etc.


Arabia is commonly supposed to be the country in which chivalry originated. This belief seems to rest on the fact that the Arabs spared women in war. But the Australians did the same, and where women are saved only to be used as slaves or concubines we cannot speak of chivalry. The Arabs treated their own women well only when they were able to capture or buy slaves to do the hard work for them; in other cases their wives were their slaves. To this day, when the family moves, the husband rides on the camel while the wife trudges along on foot, loaded down with kitchen utensils, bedding, and her child on top. If a woman happens to ride on a camel she must get off and walk if she meets a man, by way of showing her respect for the superior sex. (Niebuhr, 50.) The birth of a daughter is regarded as a calamity, mitigated only by the fact that she will bring in some money as a bride. Marriage is often little more than a farce. Burckhardt knew Bedouins who, before they were fifty years old, had been married to more than fifty different women. Chavanne, in his book on the Sahara (397-401), gives a pathetic picture of the fate of the Arab girls:

"Usually wedded very young (the marriage of a youth of fourteen to a girl of eleven is nothing unusual), the girl finds in most cases, after five or six years, that her conjugal career is at an end. The husband tires of her and sends her back, without cogent reasons, to her parents. If there are no parents to return to, she abandons herself, in many cases, to the vice of prostitution."

If not discarded, her fate is none the less deplorable. "While young she receives much attention, but when her charms begin to fade she becomes the servant of her husband and of his new wife."

Chavanne gives a glowing description of the ravishing but short-lived beauty of the Arab girl; also a specimen of the amorous songs addressed to her while she is young and pretty. She is compared to a gazelle; to a palm whose fruits grow high up out of reach; she is equal in value to all Tunis and Algiers, to all the ships on the ocean, to five hundred steeds and as many camels. Her throat is like a peach, her eyes wound like arrows. Exaggerations like these abound in the literature of the Arabs, and are often referred to as proof that they love as we do. In truth, they indicate nothing beyond selfish, amorous desires. The proof of unselfish affection lies not in words, however glowing and flattering, but in kind actions; and the actions of the Arabs toward their women are disgustingly selfish, except during the few years that they are young and pretty enough to serve as toys. The Arabs, with all their fine talk, are practically on a level with the Samoyedes who, as we saw, ignore or maltreat their wives, "except on an occasional amorous evening"; on a level with the Sioux Indian, of whom Mrs. Eastman remarks that a girl is to him an object of contempt and neglect from her birth to her grave, except during the brief period when he wants her for his wife and may have a doubt of his success.


A few pages back I cited the testimony of Morgan, who lived many years among the Indians and studied them with the intelligence of an expert ethnologist, that "no attempts by the unmarried to please or gratify each other by acts of personal attention were ever made." From this we can, once more, make a natural transition from the aboriginal American to the ancient Greek. The Greek men, says the erudite Becker (III., 335), "were quite strangers to that considerate, self-sacrificing courtesy and those minute attentions to women which we commonly call gallantry," Greek literature and all that we know of Greek life, bear out this assertion fully. It is true the Alexandrian poets and their Roman imitators frequently use the language of sentimental gallantry; they declare themselves the slaves of their mistresses, are eager to wear chains, to go through fire, to die for them, promising to take their love to the next world. But all these things are mere "words, words, words"—adulation the insincerity of which is exposed as soon as we examine the actions and the motives of these poets, of whom more will be said in a later chapter. Their flatteries are addressed invariably to hetairai; they are conceived and written with the selfish desire to tickle the vanity of these wantons in the hope and expectation of receiving favors for which the poets, who were usually poor, were not able to pay in any other way. Thus these poets are below the Arabs, for these sons of the desert at least address their flatteries to the girls whom they are eager to marry, whereas the Greek and Roman poets sought merely to beguile a class of women whose charms were for sale to anyone. One of these profligate men might cringe and wail and cajole, to gain the good will of a capricious courtesan, but he never dreamed of bending his knees to win the honest love of the maid he took to be his wife (that he might have male offspring.) Roman love was not romantic, nor was Greek. It was frankly sensual, and the gallantry of the men was of a kind that made them erect golden images in public places to honor Phryne and other prostitutes. In a word, their gallantry was sham gallantry; it was gallantry not in the sense of polite attentions to women, springing from unselfish courtesy and esteem, but in the sinister sense of profligacy and amorous intrigue. There were plenty of gallants, but no real gallantry.


While it is undoubtedly true that Ovid exercised a greater influence on mediaeval bards, and through them on modern erotic writers, than any other ancient poet, and while I still maintain that he anticipated and depicted some of the imaginative phases of modern love (see my R.L.P.B., 90-92), a more careful study of the nature of gallantry has convinced me that I erred in finding the "morning dawn of romantic love" in the counsels regarding gallant behavior toward women given in the pages of Ovid.[33] He does, indeed, advise a lover never to notice the faults of a woman whose favor he wishes to win, but to compliment her, on the contrary, on her face, her hair, her tapering fingers, her pretty foot; to applaud at the circus whatever she applauds; to adjust her cushion and put the footstool in its place; to keep her cool by fanning her; and at dinner, when she has put her lips to the wine-cup to seize the cup and put his lips to the same place. But when Ovid wrote this, nothing was farther from his mind than what we understand by gallantry—an eagerness to perform acts of disinterested courtesy and deference for the purpose of pleasing a respected or adored woman. His precepts are, on the contrary, grossly utilitarian, being intended not for a man who wishes to win the heart and hand of an honest girl, but for a libertine who has no money to buy the favors of a wanton, and therefore must rely on flatteries and obsequious fawning.

The poet declares expressly that a rich man will not need his Ars Amandi, but that it is written for the poor, who may be able to overcome the greed of the hetairai by tickling their vanity. He therefore teaches his readers how to deceive such a girl with false flattery and sham gallantry. The Roman poet uses the word domina, but this domina, nevertheless, is his mistress, not in the sense of one who dominates his heart and commands his respect and affection, but of a despised being lower than a concubine, on whom he smiles only till he has beguiled her. It is the story of the cat and the mouse.


How different this from the modern chivalry which in face of womanhood makes a gentleman even out of a rough California miner. Joaquin Miller relates how the presence of even an Indian girl—"a bud that in another summer would unfold itself wide to the sun," affected the men in one of the camps. Though she seldom spoke with the miners, yet the men who lived near her hut dressed more neatly than others, kept their beards in shape, and shirt-bosoms buttoned up when she passed by:

"On her face, through the tint of brown, lay the blush and flush of maidenhood, the indescribable sacred something that makes a maiden holy to every man of a manly and chivalrous nature; that makes a man utterly unselfish and perfectly content to love and be silent, to worship at a distance, as turning to the holy shrines of Mecca, to be still and bide his time; caring not to possess in the low, coarse way that characterizes your common love of to-day, but choosing rather to go to battle for her—bearing her in his heart through many lands, through storms and death, with only a word of hope, a smile, a wave of the hand from a wall, a kiss, blown far, as he mounts his steed below and plunges into the night. That is love to live for. I say the knights of Spain, bloody as they were, were a noble and a splendid type of men in their day."[34]

While the knights of Spain and other parts of mediaeval Europe doubtless professed sentiments of chivalry like those uttered by Joaquin Miller, there was as a rule nearly as much sham in their pretensions as in Ovid's rules for gallant conduct. In the days of militant chivalry, in the midst of deeds of extravagant homage to individual ladies, women in general were as much despised and maltreated as at any other time. "The chivalrous spirit is above all things a class spirit," as Freeman wrote (V., 482):

"The good knight is bound to endless fantastic courtesies toward men, and still more toward women, of a certain rank; he may treat all below that rank with any degree of scorn and cruelty."

This is still very far removed from the modern ideal; the knight may be considered to stand half-way between the boor and the gentleman: he is polite, at least, to some women, while the gentleman is polite to all, kind, gentle, sympathetic, without being any the less manly. Nevertheless there was an advantage in having some conception of gallantry, a determination and vow to protect widows and orphans, to respect and honor ladies. Though it was at first only a fashion, with all the extravagances and follies usual to fashions, it did much good by creating an ideal for later generations to live up to. From this point of view even the quixotic pranks of the knights who fought duels in support of their challenge that no other lady equalled theirs in beauty, were not without a use. They helped to enforce the fashion of paying deference to women, and made it a point of honor, thus forcing many a boor to assume at least the outward semblance and conduct of a gentleman. The seed sown in this rough and stony soil has slowly grown, until it has developed into true civilization—a word of which the last and highest import is civility or disinterested devotion to the weak and unprotected, especially to women.

In our days chivalry includes compassion for animals too. I have never read of a more gallant soldier than that colonel who, as related in Our Animal Friends (May, 1899), while riding in a Western desert at the head of five hundred horsemen, suddenly made a slight detour—which all the men had to follow—because in the direct path a meadow lark was sitting on her nest, her soft brown eyes turned upward, watching, wondering, fearing. It was a nobler deed than many of the most gallant actions in battle, for these are often done from selfish motives—ambition, the hope of promotion—while this deed was the outcome of pure unselfish sympathy.

"Five hundred horses had been turned aside, and five hundred men, as they bent over the defenceless mother and her brood, received a lesson in that broad humanity which is the essence of higher life."

To this day there are plenty of ruffians—many of them in fine clothes—who are strangers to chivalrous feelings toward defenceless women or animals—men who behave as gentlemen only under compulsion of public opinion. The encouraging thing is that public opinion has taken so strong a stand in favor of women; that it has written Place aux Dames on its shield in such large letters. While the red American squaw shared with the dogs the bones left by her contemptuous ungallant husband, the white American woman is served first at table and gets the choicest morsels; she receives the window-seat in the cars, the lower berth in the sleeper; she has precedence in society and wherever she is in her proper place; and when a ship is about to sink, the captain, if necessary (which is seldom the case), stands with drawn revolver prepared to shoot any man who would ungallantly get into a boat before all the women are saved.


This change from the primitive selfishness described in the preceding pages, this voluntary yielding by man of the place of honor and of the right of the strongest, is little less than a miracle; it is the grandest triumph of civilization. Yet there are viragoes who have had the indecency to call gallantry an "insult to woman." There is indeed a kind of gallantry—the Ovidian—which is an insult to women; but true masculine gallantry is woman's chief glory and conquest, indicating the transformation of the savage's scorn for woman's physical weakness into courteous deference to her as the nobler, more virtuous and refined sex. There are some selfish, sour, disappointed old maids, who, because of their lack of feminine traits, repel men and receive less than their share of gallant courtesy. But that is their own fault. Ninety-nine per cent. of all women have a happier lot to-day than at any previous time in history, and this change is due to the growth of the disinterested courtesy and sympathy known as gallantry. At the same time the change is strikingly illustrated in the status of old maids themselves. No one now despises an unselfish woman simply because she prefers to remain single; but formerly old maids were looked on nearly everywhere with a contempt that reached its climax among the Southern Slavs, who, according to Krauss (Ploss, II., 491), treated them no better than mangy dogs. No one associated with them; they were not tolerated in the spinning-room or at the dances; they were ridiculed and derided; were, in short, regarded as a disgrace to the family.


To sum up: among the lower races man habitually despises and maltreats woman, looking on her as a being made, not for her own sake, but for his comfort and pleasure. Gallantry is unknown. The Australian who fights for his family shows courage, not gallantry, for he is simply protecting his private property, and does not otherwise show the slightest regard for his women. Nor does the early custom of serving for a wife imply gallantry; for here the suitor serves the parents, not the maid; he simply adopts a primitive way of paying for a bride. Sparing women in battle for the purpose of making concubines or slaves of them is not gallantry. One might as well call a farmer gallant because, when he kills the young roosters for broilers, he saves the young hens. He lets these live because he needs eggs. The motive in both cases is utilitarian and selfish. Ovidian gallantry does not deserve such a name, because it is nothing but false flattery for the selfish purpose of beguiling foolish women. Arabic flatteries are of a superior order because sincere at the time being and addressed to girls whom the flatterer desires to marry. But this gallantry, too, is only skin deep. Its motives are sensual and selfish, for as soon as the girl's physical charm begins to fade she is contemptuously discarded.

Our modern gallantry toward women differs radically from all those attitudes in being unselfish. It is synonymous with true chivalry—disinterested devotion to those who, while physically weaker, are considered superior morally and esthetically. It treats all women with polite deference, and does so not because of a vow or a code, but because of the natural promptings of a kind, sympathetic disposition. It treats a woman not as a toper does a whiskey bottle, applying it to his lips as long as it can intoxicate him with pleasure and then throwing it away, but cherishes her for supersensual attributes that survive the ravages of time. To a lover, in particular, such gallantry is not a duty, but a natural impulse. He lies awake nights devising plans for pleasing the object of his devotion. His gallantry is an impulse to sacrifice himself for the beloved—an instinct so inbred by generations of practice that now even a child may manifest it. I remember how, when I was six or seven years old, I once ran out the school-house during recess to pick up some Missouri hailstones, while others, large as marbles, were falling about me, threatening to smash my skull. I gave the trophies to a dark-eyed girl of my age—not with a view to any possible reward, but simply because I loved her more than all the other girls combined and wanted to please her.


Black relates in his Things Chinese, that after the wedding ceremony

"the bride tries hard … to get a piece of her husband's dress under her when she sits down, for if she does, it will insure her having the upper hand of him, while he tries to prevent her and to do the same thing himself."

Similar customs prevail in other parts of the world, as among the Esthonians. (Schroeder, 234.) After the priest has united the couple they walk toward the wagon or sleigh, and in doing so each of the two tries to be first to step on the other's foot, because that will decide who is to rule at home. Imagine such petty selfishness, such a disgraceful lack of gallantry, on the very wedding-day! In our own country, when we hear of a bride objecting to the word "obey" in the wedding ceremony, we may feel absolutely sure that the marriage is not a love-match, at least as far as she is concerned. A girl truly in love with a man laughs at the word, because she feels as if she would rather be his slave than any other man's queen; and as for the lover, the bride's promise to "obey" him seems mere folly, for he is determined she shall always remain the autocratic queen of his heart and actions. Conjugal disappointments may modify that feeling, to be sure, but that does not alter the fact that while romantic love exists, one of its essential ingredients is an impulse of gallant devotion and deference on both sides—an impulse which on occasion rises to self-sacrifice, which is simply an extreme phase of gallantry.


In the very olden time, if we may confide in the ingenious Frank Stockton, there lived a semi-barbaric king who devised a highly original way of administering justice, leaving the accused man's fate practically in his own hands. There was an arena with the king's throne on one side and galleries for the people all around. On a signal by the king a door beneath him opened and the accused subject stepped out into the amphitheatre. Directly opposite the throne were two doors, exactly alike, and side by side. The person on trial had to walk to those doors and open either of them. If he opened one, there sprang out a fierce tiger who immediately tore him to pieces; if the other, there came forth a beautiful lady, to whom he was forthwith married. No one ever knew behind which of the doors was the tiger, so that the audience no more than the prisoner knew whether he was to be devoured or married.

This semi-barbaric king had a daughter who fell in love with a handsome young courtier. When the king discovered this love-affair he cast the youth into prison and had his realm searched for the fiercest of tigers. The day came when the prisoner had to decide his own fate in the arena by opening one of the doors. The princess, who was one of the spectators, had succeeded, with the aid of gold, in discovering the secret of the doors; she knew from which the tiger, from which the lady, would issue. She knew, too, who the lady was behind the other door—one of the loveliest of the damsels of the court—one who had dared to raise her eyes to her loved one and had thereby aroused her fiercest jealousy. She had thought the matter over, and was prepared for action. The king gave the signal, and the courtier appeared. He had expected the princess to know on which side lay safety for him, nor was he wrong. To his quick and anxious glance at her, she replied by a slight, quick movement of her arm to the right. The youth turned, and without the slightest hesitation opened the door on the right. Now, "which came out of the opened door—the lady or the tiger?"


With that question Stockton ends his story, and it is generally supposed that he does not answer it. But he does, on the preceding page, in these words:

"Think of it, fair reader, not as if the decision of the question depended upon yourself, but upon that hot-blooded, semi-barbaric princess, her soul at white heat beneath the combined fires of despair and jealousy. She had lost him, but who should have him?"

In these words the novelist hints plainly enough that the question was decided by a sort of dog-in-the-manger jealousy. If the princess could not have him, certainly her hated rival should never enjoy his love. The tiger, we may be sure, was behind the door on the right.

In allowing the tiger to devour the courtier, the princess showed that her love was of the primitive, barbarous type, being in reality self-love, not other-love. She "loved" the man not for his own sake, but only as a means of gratifying her desires. If he was lost to her, the tiger might as well dine on him. How differently an American girl would have acted, under the impulse of romantic love! Not for a moment could she have tolerated the thought of his dying, through her fault—the thought of his agony, his shrieks, his blood. She would have sacrificed her own happiness instead of her beloved's life. The lady would have come out of the door opened by him. Suppose that, overcome by selfish jealousy, she acted otherwise; and suppose that an amphitheatre full of cultured men and women witnessed her deed: would there not be a cry of horror, condemning her as worse than the tiger, as absolutely incapable of the feeling of true love? And would not this cry of horror reveal on the part of the spectators an instinctive perception of the truth which this chapter, this whole book, is written to enforce, that voluntary self-sacrifice, where called for, is the supreme, the infallible, test of love?


If we imagine the situation reversed—a man delivering his "beloved" into the clutches of a tiger rather than to the legitimate caresses of a rival—our horror at his loveless selfishness would be doubled. Yet this is the policy habitually followed by savages and barbarians. In later chapters instances will be given of such wooers killing coveted girls with their own spears as soon as they find that the rival is the winner. After what has been said about the absence of unselfish gallantry among the lower races it would, of course, be useless to look for instances of altruistic self-sacrifice for a woman's sake, since such sacrifice implies so much more than gallantry. As for the Greeks, in all my extensive reading I have come across only one author who seemingly appreciates the significance of self-sacrifice for a woman loved. Pausanias, in his Description of Greece (Bk. VII., chap. 21), relates this love-story:

"When Calydon still existed there was among the priests of Dionysus one named Coresus, whom love made, without any fault of his own, the most wretched of mortals. He loved a girl Callirrhoe, but as great as his love for her was her hatred of him. When all his pleadings and offerings of presents failed to change the girl's attitude, he at last prostrated himself before the image of Dionysus, imploring his help. The god granted the prayers of his priest, for suddenly the Calydonians began to lose their senses, like drunkards, and to die in fits of madness. They appealed to the oracle of Dodona … which declared that the calamity was due to the wrath of the god Dionysus, and that it would not cease until Coresus had sacrificed to Dionysus either Callirrhoe or anyone else willing to die for her. Now when the girl saw no way of escaping, she sought refuge with her former educators, but when they too refused to receive her, nothing remained for her but death. When all the preparations for the sacrifice had been made in accordance with the precepts of the oracle of Dodona, she was brought to the altar, adorned like an animal that is to be sacrificed; Coresus, however, whose duty it was to offer the sacrifice, let love prevail in place of hate, and slew himself instead of Callirrhoe, thus proving by his deed that he had been animated by the purest love. But when Callirrhoe saw Coresus as a corpse, overcome by pity and repentance for her treatment of him, she went and drowned herself in the fountain not far from the Calydonian harbor, which since that time is known as the fountain of Callirrhoe."

If a modern lover, desiring to possess a girl, got her into a predicament which culminated in the necessity of his either slaying her with his own hands or killing himself, and did not choose the latter alternative, we should regard him as more contemptible than the vilest assassin. To us self-sacrifice in such a case would seem not a test of love, nor even of honor so much as of common decency, and we should expect a man to submit to it even if his love of the poor girl had been a mere infatuation of the senses. However, in view of the contempt for women, and for love for women, prevalent among the Greeks in general, we may perhaps discover at least a gleam of better things in this legend of masculine self-sacrifice.


A closer approximation to our ideal may be found in a story related by the Persian poet Saadi (358):

"There was a handsome and well-disposed young man, who was embarked in a vessel with a lovely damsel: I have read that, sailing on the mighty deep, they fell together into a whirlpool: When the pilot came to offer him assistance; God forbid that he should perish in that distress; he was answering, from the midst of that overwhelming vortex, Leave me and take the hand of my beloved! The whole world admired him for this speech, which, as he was expiring, he was heard to make; learn not the tale of love from that faithless wretch who can neglect his mistress when exposed to danger. In this manner ended the lives of those lovers; listen to what has happened, that you may understand; for Saadi knows the ways and forms of courtship, as well as the Tazi, or modern Arabic, is understood at Baghdad."

How did this Persian poet get such a correct and modern notion about love into his head? Obviously not from his experiences and observations at home, for the Persians, as the scholarly Dr. Polak observes in his classical work on them (I., 206), do not know love in our sense of the word. The love of which their poets sing has either a symbolical or an entirely carnal meaning. Girls are married off without any choice of their own at the early age of twelve or thirteen; they are regarded as capital and sold for cash, and children are often engaged in the cradle. When a Persian travels, he leaves his wife at home and enters into a temporary marriage with other women in the towns he visits. In rural districts if the traveller is a person of rank, the mercenary peasants eagerly offer their daughters for such "marriages." (Hellwald, 439.) Like the Greek poets the Persians show their contempt for women by always speaking of boy-favorites when their language rises above the coarsest sensuality. Public opinion regarding Persian stories and poems has been led astray by the changes of sex and the expurgations made freely by translators. Burton, whose version of the Thousand and One Nights was suppressed in England, wrote (F.F., 36), that "about one-fifth is utterly unfit for translation, and the most sanguine Orientalist would not dare to render literally more than three-quarters of the remainder."

Where, then, I repeat, did Saadi get that modern European idea of altruistic self-sacrifice as a test of love? Evidently from Europe by way of Arabia. His own language indicates this—his suspicious boast of his knowledge of real love as of one who has just made a strange discovery, and his coupling it with the knowledge of Arabic. Now it is well known that ever since the ninth century the Persian mind had been brought into a contact with the Arabic which became more and more intimate. The Arabs had a habit of sacrificing their lives in chivalrous efforts to save the life or honor of maidens whom the enemy endeavored to kidnap. The Arabs, on their part, were in close contact with the European minds, and as they helped to originate the chivalrous spirit in Europe, so they must have been in turn influenced by the developments of the troubadour spirit which culminated in such maxims as Montagnogout's declaration that "a true lover desires a thousand times more the happiness of his beloved than his own." As Saadi lived in the time of the troubadours—the twelfth and thirteenth centuries—it was easy for him to get a knowledge of the European "ways and forms of courtship." In Persia itself there was no courtship or legitimate lovemaking, for the "lover" hardly ever had met his bride before the wedding-day. Nevertheless, if we may believe William Franklin,[35] a Persian woman might command a suitor to spend all day in front of her house reciting verses in praise of her beauty; and H.C. Trumbull naïvely cites, as evidence that Orientals love just as we do, the following story:

"Morier tells … of a large painting in a pleasure-house in Shiraz, illustrative of the treatment of a loyal lover by a heartless coquette, which is one of the popular legends of Persia. Sheik Chenan, a Persian of the true faith, and a man of learning and consequence, fell in love with an Armenian lady of great beauty who would not marry him unless he changed his religion. To this he agreed. Still she would not marry him unless he would drink wine. This scruple also he yielded. She resisted still, unless he consented to eat pork. With this also he complied. Still she was coy, and refused to fulfil her engagement, unless he would be contented to drive swine before her. Even this condition he accepted. She then told him that she would not have him at all, and laughed at him for his pains. The picture represents the coquette at her window, laughing at Sheik Chenan as he is driving his pigs before her."

This story suggests and may have been invented in imitation of the foolish and capricious tests to which mediaeval dames in Europe put their quixotic knights. Few of these knights, as I have said elsewhere (R.L.P.B., 100), "were so manly as the one in Schiller's ballad, who, after fetching his lady's glove from the lion's den, threw it in her face," to show how his feelings toward her had changed. If the Persian in Trumbull's story had been manly and refined enough to be capable of genuine love, his feelings toward a woman who could wantonly subject him to such persistent insults and degradation, would have turned into contempt. Ordinary sensual infatuation, on the other hand, would be quite strong enough and unprincipled enough to lead a man to sacrifice religion, honor, and self-respect, for a capricious woman. This kind of self-sacrifice is not a test of true love, for it is not altruistic. The sheik did not make his sacrifice to benefit the woman he coveted, but to benefit himself, as he saw no other way of gratifying his own selfish desires.[36]


Very great importance attaches to this distinction between selfish and altruistic self-sacrifice. The failure to make this distinction is perhaps more than anything else responsible for the current belief that romantic love was known to the ancients. Did not Leander risk and sacrifice his life for Hero, swimming to her at night across the stormy Hellespont? Gentle reader, he did not. He risked his life for the purpose of continuing his illicit amours with a priestess of Venus in a lonely tower. As we shall see in the chapter devoted to Greek romances, there is in the story told by Musaeus not a single trait rising above frank sensuality. In his eagerness to gratify his appetite, Leander risked Hero's life as well as his own. His swimming across the strait was, moreover, no more than any animal would do to meet its mate on the other side of a river. It was a romantic thing to do, but it was no proof of romantic love. Bearing in mind what Westermarck says (134)—

"With wild animals sexual desire is not less powerful as an incentive to strenuous exertion than hunger and thirst. In the rut-time, the males, even of the most cowardly species, engage in mortal combats"

—we see that Hero's risking of death for the sake of his intrigue was not even a mark of exceptional courage; and regarding the quality and nature of his "love" it tells us nothing whatever.


In the Hindoo drama Malavika and Agnimitra, Kalidasa represents the king as seeking an interview with a new flame of his. When his companion warns him that the queen might surprise them, the king answers:

     When the elephant sees the lotos leaves
     He fears no crocodile.

Lotos leaves being the elephant's favorite food, these lines admirably sum up the Hindoo idea of risking life for "love"—cupboard love. But would the elephant risk his life to save the beautiful lotos flowers from destruction? Foolish question! Was not the lotos created to gratify the elephant's appetite just as beautiful women were created to subserve man's desires?

Fighting crocodiles for the sake of the sweet lotos is a characteristic of primitive "love" in all its various strata. "Nothing is more certain," writes M'Lean (135), "than that the enamoured Esquimau will risk life and limb in the pursuit of his object." Women, he says, are the main cause of all quarrels among the Esquimaux; and the same is true of the lower races in general. If an Australian wants to run away with another man's wife, the thought of risking his life—and hers too—does not restrain him one moment. Ascending to the Greeks, we may cite Robert Burton's summing up of one of their legends:

"Thirteen proper young men lost their lives for that fair Hipodamia's sake, the daughter of Onomaus, King of Elis: when that hard condition was proposed of death or victory [in a race], they made no account of it, but courageously for love died, till Pelops at last won her by a sleight."

What is this but another version of the story of the lotos and the elephant? The prize was great, and worth the risk. Men risk their lives daily for gold, and for objects infinitely less attractive to the senses and the selfish ambitions than a beautiful princess. In the following, which Burton quotes from Hoedus, the sensual and selfish basis of all such confronting of death for "love's" sake is laid bare to the bone:

"What shall I say of the great dangers they undergo, single combats they undertake, how they will venture their lives, creep in at windows, gutters, climb over walls to come to their sweethearts, and if they be surprised, leap out at windows, cast themselves headlong down, bruising or breaking their legs or arms, and sometimes losing life itself, as Calisto did for his lovely Meliboea?"

I have known rich young Americans and Europeans risk their lives over and over again in such "gallant" adventures, but if I had asked them if they loved these women, i.e., felt such a disinterested affection for them (like a mother's for her child) that they would have risked their lives to benefit them when there was nothing to gain for themselves—they would have laughed in my face. Whence we see how foolish it is to infer from such instances of "gallantry" and "self-sacrifice" that the ancients knew romantic love in our sense of the word. It is useless to point to passages like this (again from Burton):

"Polienus, when his mistress Circe did but frown upon him, in Petronius, drew his sword, and bade her kill, stab, or whip him to death, he would strip himself naked and not resist."

Such fine talk occurs in Tibullus and other poets of the time; but where are the actions corresponding to it? Where do we read of these Romans and Greeks ever braving the crocodile for the sake of preserving the purity of the lotos herself? Or of sparing a lotos belonging to another, but at their mercy? Perseus himself, much vaunted for his chivalry, did not undertake to save the rock-chained Andromeda from the sea monster until he had extorted a promise that she should be his prize. Fine sort of chivalry, that!


One more species of pseudo-self-sacrifice remains to be considered. When Hero finds Leander's dead body on the rocks she commits suicide. Is not this self-sacrifice for love's sake? It is always so considered, and Eckstein, in his eagerness to prove that the ancient Greeks knew romantic love,[37] gives a list of six legendary suicides from hopeless or foiled love. The question of suicide is an interesting one and will be considered in detail in the chapter on the American Indians, who, like other savages, were addicted to it, in many cases for the most trivial reasons. In this place I will content myself with noting that if Eckstein had taken the pains to peruse the four volumes of Ramdohr's Venus Urania (a formidable task, I admit), he would have found an author who more than a hundred years ago knew that suicide is no test of true love. There are indeed, he says (III., 46), plenty of old stories of self-sacrifice, but they are all of the kind where a man risks comfort and life to secure possession of a coveted body for his own enjoyment, or else where he takes his own life because he feels lonely after having failed to secure the desired union. These actions are no index of love, for they "may coexist with the cruelest treatment" of the coveted woman. Very ambitious persons or misers may commit suicide after losing honor or wealth, and

"a coarse negro, in face of the danger of losing his sweetheart, is capable of casting himself into the ocean with her, or of plunging his dagger into her breast and then into his own."

All this is selfish. The only true index of love, Ramdohr continues, lies in the sacrifice of one's own happiness for another's sake; in resigning one's self to separation from the beloved, or even to death, if that is necessary to secure her happiness or welfare. Of such self-sacrifice he declares he cannot find a single instance in the records and stories of the ancients; nor can I.

The suicide of Dido after her desertion by Aeneas is often cited as proof of love, but Ramdohr insists (338) that, apart from the fact that "a woman really in love would not have pursued Aeneas with curses," such an act as hers was the outcome of purely selfish despair, on a par with the suicide of a miser after the loss of his money. It is needless to add to this that Hero's suicide was likewise selfish; for of what possible benefit was it to the dead Leander that she took her own life in a cowardly fit of despondency at having lost her chief source of delight? Had she lost her life in an effort to save his, the case would have been different.

Instances of women sacrificing themselves for men's sake abound in ancient literature, though I am not so sure that they abounded in life, except under compulsion, as in the Hindoo suttee.[38] As we shall see in the chapter on India, tales of feminine self-sacrifice were among the means craftily employed by men to fortify and gratify their selfishness. Still, in the long run, just as man's fierce "jealousy" helped to make women chaster than men, so the inculcation in women of self-sacrifice as a duty, gradually made them naturally inclined to that virtue—an inclination which was strengthened by inveterate, deep-rooted, maternal love. Thus it happened that self-sacrifice assumed rank in course of time as a specifically feminine virtue; so much so that the German metaphysician Fichte could declare that "the woman's life should disappear in the man's without a remnant," and that this process is love. No doubt it is love, but love demands at the same time that the man's life should disappear in the woman's.

It is interesting to note the sexual aspects of gallantry and self-sacrifice. Women are prevented by custom, etiquette, and inbred coyness from showing gallant attentions to men before marriage, whereas the impulse to sacrifice happiness or life for love's sake is at least as strong in them as in men, and of longer standing. If a girl of affectionate impulses on hearing that the man she loved—though he might not have proposed to her—lay wounded, or ill of yellow fever, in a hospital, threw away all reserve, coyness, and fear of violating decorum, and went to nurse him day and night, at imminent risk of her own life, all the world would applaud her, convinced that she had done a more feminine thing than if she had allowed coyness to suppress her sympathetic and self-sacrificing impulses.


A German poem printed in the Wunderhorn relates how a young man, after a long absence from home, returns and eagerly hastens to see his former sweetheart. He finds her standing in the doorway and informs her that her beauty pleases his heart as much as ever:

     Gott grüss dich, du Hübsche, du Feine,
     Von Herzen gefallst du mir.

To which she retorts: "What need is there of my pleasing you? I got a husband long ago—a handsome man, well able to take care of me." Whereupon the disappointed lover draws his knife and stabs her through the heart.

In his History of German Song (chap, v.), Edward Schuré comments on this poem in the following amazing fashion:

"How necessary yet how tragic is this answer with the knife to the heartless challenge of the former sweetheart! How fatal and terrible is this sudden change of a passionate soul from ardent love to the wildest hatred! We see him taking one step back, we see how he trembles, how the flush of rage suffuses his face, and how his love, offended, injured, and dragged in the dust, slakes its thirst with the blood of the faithless woman."


It seems almost incredible that such a villanous sentiment should have been allowed to appear in a book without sending its author to prison. "Necessary" to murder a sweetheart because she has changed her mind during a man's long absence! The wildest anarchist plot never included a more diabolical idea. Brainless, selfish, impulsive young idiots are only too apt to act on that principle if their proposals are not accepted; the papers contain cases nearly every week of poor girls murdered for refusing an unwelcome suitor; but the world is beginning to understand that it is illogical and monstrous to apply the sacred word of love to the feeling which animates these cowardly assassins, whose only motives are selfish lust and a dog-in-the-manger jealousy. Love never "slakes its thirst" with the blood of a woman. Had that man really loved that woman, he would have been no more capable of murdering her than of murdering his father for disinheriting him.

Schuré is by no means the only author who has thus confounded love with murderous, jealous lust. A most astounding instance occurs in Goethe's Werther—the story of a common servant who conceived a passion for a well-to-do widow.

He lost his appetite, his sleep, forgot his errands; an evil spirit pursued him. One day, finding her alone in the garret, he made an improper proposal to her, and on her refusing he attempted violence, from which she was saved only through the timely arrival of her brother. In defending his conduct the servant, in a most ungallant, unmanly, and cowardly way, tried to fasten the guilt on the widow by saying that she had previously allowed him to take some liberties with her. He was of course promptly ejected from the house, and when subsequently another man was engaged to take his place, and began to pay his addresses to the widow, the discharged servant fell upon him and assassinated him. And this disgusting exhibition of murderous lust and jealousy leads Goethe to exclaim, rapturously:

"This love, this fidelity(!), this passion, is thus seen to be no invention of the poets(!). It lives, it is to be found in its greatest purity(!) among that class of people whom we call uneducated and coarse."

In view of the sensual and selfish attitude which Goethe held toward women all his life, it is perhaps not strange that he should have written the silly words just quoted. It was probably a guilty conscience, a desire to extenuate selfish indulgence at the expense of a poor girl's virtue and happiness, that led him to represent his hero, Werther, as using every possible effort in court to secure the pardon of that erotomaniac who had first attempted rape and then finished up by assassinating his rival.

If Werther's friend had murdered the widow herself, Goethe would have been logically bound to see in his act still stronger evidence of the "reality," "fidelity," and "purity" of love among "people whom we call uneducated and coarse." And if Goethe had lived to read the Rev. W.W. Gill's Savage Life in Polynesia, he might have found therein (118) a story of cannibal "love" still more calculated to arouse his rapturous enthusiasm—

"An ill-looking but brave warrior of the cannibal tribe of Ruanae, named Vete, fell violently in love with a pretty girl named Tanuau, who repelled his advances and foolishly reviled him for his ugliness. His only thought now was how to be revenged for this unpardonable insult. He could not kill her, as she wisely kept to the encampment of Mantara. After some months Tanuau sickened and died. The corpse was conveyed across the island to be let down the chasm of Raupa, the usual burial-place of her tribe."

Vete chose this as the time for revenge. Arrangements were made to intercept the corpse secretly, and he had it carried away. It was too decomposed to be eaten, so they cut it in pieces and burned it—burning anything belonging to a person being the greatest injury one can inflict on a native.


But what have all these disgusting stories to do with affection, the subject of this chapter? Nothing whatever—and that is why I have put them here—to show in a glaring light that what Goethe and Schuré, and doubtless thousands of their readers accepted as love is not love, since there is no affection in it. A true patriot, a man who feels an affection for his country, lays down his life for it without a thought of personal advantage; and if his country treats him ungratefully he does not turn traitor and assassin—like the German and Polynesian "lovers" we have just read about. A real lover is indeed overjoyed to have his affection returned; but if it is not reciprocated he is none the less affectionate, none the less ready to lay down his life for the other, and, above all, he is utterly incapable of taking hers. What creates this difference between lust and love is affection, and, so far at least as maternal love is concerned, the nature of affection was known thousands of years ago. When two mothers came before King Solomon, each claiming the same child as her own, the king sent for a sword and said, "Divide the living child in two, and give half to the one and half to the other." To this the false claimant agreed, but the real mother exclaimed, "O my lord, give her the living child and in no wise slay it." Then the king knew that she was the child's mother and gave him to her. "And all Israel saw that the wisdom of God was in Solomon, to do judgment."

If we ask why this infallible test of love was not applied to the sexual passion, the answer is that it would have failed, because ancient love between the sexes was, as all the testimony collected in this book shows, too sensual and selfish to stand such a test. Yet it is obvious that if we to-day are to apply the word love to the sexual relations, we must use the same test of disinterested affection that we use in the case of maternal love or love of country; and that love is not love before affection is added to all the other ingredients heretofore considered. In that servant's "love" which so excited the wonder of Goethe, only three of the fourteen ingredients of love were present—individual preference, monopoly, and jealousy—and those three, as we have seen, occur also in plain lust. Of the tender, altruistic, loving traits of love—sympathy, adoration, gallantry, self-sacrifice, affection—there is not a trace.


When a great poet can blunder so flagrantly in his diagnosis of love, we cannot wonder that minor writers should often be erratic. For instance, in The Snake Dance of the Moquis of Arizona (45-46), Captain J.D. Bourke exclaims:

"So much stuff and nonsense has been written about the entire absence of affection from the Indian character, especially in the relations between the sexes, that it affords me great pleasure to note this little incident"

—namely, a scene between an Indian and a young squaw:

"They had evidently only lately had a quarrel, for which each was heartily sorry. He approached, and was received with a disdain tempered with so much sweetness and affection that he wilted at once, and, instead of boldly asserting himself, dared do nothing but timidly touch her hand. The touch, I imagine, was not disagreeable, because the girl's hand was soon firmly held in his, and he, with earnest warmth, was pouring into her ear words whose purport it was not difficult to conjecture."

That the simplest kind of a sensual caress—squeezing a young woman's hand and whispering in her ear—should be accepted as evidence of affection is naïve, to say the least, and need not be commented on after what has just been said about the true nature of affection and its altruistic test. Unfortunately many travellers who came in contact with the lower races shared Bourke's crude conception of the nature of affection, and this has done much to mislead even expert anthropologists; Westermarck, for instance, who is induced by such testimony to remark (358) that conjugal affection has among certain uncivilized peoples "reached a remarkably high degree of development." Among those whom he relies on as witnesses is Schweinfurth, who says of the man-eating African Niam-Niam that "they display an affection for their wives which is unparalleled among natives of so low a grade. … A husband will spare no sacrifice to redeem an imprisoned wife" (I., 472).


This looks like strong evidence, but when we examine the facts the illusion vanishes. The Nubians, it appears, are given to stealing the wives of these Niam-Niam, to induce them to ransom them with ivory. A case occurred within Dr. Schweinfurth's own experience (II., 180-187). Two married women were stolen, and during the night

"it was touching, through the moaning of the wind, to catch the lamentations of the Niam-Niam men bewailing the loss of their captured wives; cannibals though they were, they were evidently capable of true conjugal affection. The Nubians remained quite unaffected by any of their cries, and never for a moment swerved from their purpose of recovering the ivory before they surrendered the women."

Here we see what the expression that the Niam-Niam "spare no sacrifice to redeem their imprisoned women" amounts to: the Nubians counted on it that they would rather part with their ivory than with their wives! This, surely, involved no "sacrifice"; it was simply a question of which the husbands preferred, the useless ivory or the useful women—desirable as drudges and concubines. Why should buying back a wife be evidence of affection any more than the buying of a bride, which is a general custom of Africans? As for their howling over their lost wives, that was natural enough; they would have howled over lost cows too—as our children cry if their milk is taken away when they are hungry. Actions which can be interpreted in such sensual and selfish terms can never be accepted as proof of true affection. That the captured wives, on their part, were not troubled by conjugal affection is evident from Schweinfurth's remark that they "were perfectly composed and apparently quite indifferent."


Let us take one more case. There are plenty of men who would like to kiss every pretty girl they see, and no one would be so foolish as to regard a kiss as proof of affection. Yet Lyon (another of the witnesses on whom Westermarck relies) accepts, with a naïveté equalling Captain Bourke's, the rubbing together of noses, which among the Eskimos is an equivalent of our kissing, as a mark of "affection." In the case of unscientific travellers, such a loose use of words may perhaps be pardonable, but a specialist who writes a history of marriage should not put the label of "affection" on everything that comes into his drag-net, as Westermarck does (pp. 358-59); a proceeding the less excusable because he himself admits, a few pages later (362), that affection is chiefly provoked by "intellectual, emotional, and moral qualities" which certainly could not be found among some of the races he refers to. I have investigated a number of the alleged cases of conjugal "affection" in books of travel, and found invariably that some manifestation of sensual attachment was recklessly accepted as an indication of "affection."

In part, it is true, the English language is to be blamed for this state of affairs. The word affection has been used to mean almost any disposition of the mind, including passion, lust, animosity, and a morbid state. But in good modern usage it means or implies an altruistic feeling of devotion which urges us to seek the welfare of another even at the expense of our own. We call a mother affectionate because she willingly and eagerly sacrifices herself for her child, toils for it, loses sleep and food and health for its sake. If she merely cared for it [note the subtle double sense of "caring for"] because it is pretty and amusing, we might concede that she "liked" it, was "attached" to it, or "fond" of it; but it would be incorrect to speak of affection. Liking, attachment, and fondness differ from affection not only in degree but in kind; they are selfish, while affection is unselfish; they occur among savages, while affection is peculiar to civilized persons and perhaps some animals.


Liking is the weakest kind of inclination toward another. It "never has the intensity of love." To say that I like a man is to indicate merely that he pleases me, gives me selfish pleasure—in some way or other. A man may say of a girl who pleases him by her looks, wit, vivacity, or sympathy, "I like her," though he may have known her only a few minutes; while a girl who will rather die than give any sign of affection, may be quite willing to confess that she likes him, knowing that the latter means infinitely less and does not betray her; that is, it merely indicates that he pleases her and not that she is particularly anxious to please him, as she would be if she loved him. Girls "like" candy, too, because it gives them pleasure, and cannibals may like missionaries without having the least affection for them.

Attachment is stranger than liking, but it also springs from selfish interests and habits. It is apt to be similar to that gratitude which is "a lively sense of favors to come." Mrs. Bishop (Isabella Bird) eloquently describes (II, 135-136) the attachment to her of a Persian horse, and incidentally suggests the philosophy of the matter in one sentence: "To him I am an embodiment of melons, cucumbers, grapes, pears, peaches, biscuits, and sugar, with a good deal of petting and ear-rubbing thrown in." Cases of attachment between husband and wife no doubt abound among savages, even when the man is usually contemptuous and rude in his treatment of the wife. The Niam-Niam husbands of Schweinfurth did not, as we saw, give any evidence of unselfish affection, but they were doubtless attached to their wives, for obvious reasons. As for the women among the lower races, they are apt, like dogs, to cling to their master, no matter how much he may kick them about. They get from him food and shelter, and blind habit does the rest to attach them to his hearth. What habit and association can do is shown in the ease with which "happy families" of hostile animals can be reared. But the beasts of prey must be well fed; a day or two of fasting would result in the lamb lying down inside the lion. The essential selfishness of attachment is shown also in the way a man becomes attached to his pipe or his home, etc. At the same time, personal attachment may prove the entering wedge of something higher. "The passing attachments of young people are seldom entitled to serious notice; although sometimes they may ripen by long intercourse into a laudable and steady affection" (Crabb).


The word fondness is sometimes used in the sense of a tender, loving disposition; yet there is nearly always an implication of silly extravagance or unseemly demonstrativeness, and in the most accurate usage it means a foolish, doting indulgence, without discriminating intelligence, or even common-sense. As Crabb puts it in his English Synonyms, "A fond parent does not rise above a fool." Everybody knows fathers and mothers whose fondness induces them to indulge all the appetites, desires, and whims of their children, thereby ruining their health and temper, making them greedy and selfish, and laying the foundation for a wretched life for the children themselves and all who are unfortunate enough to come into contact with them. This irrational fondness is what travellers and anthropologists have so often mistaken for genuine affection in the cases of savages and barbarians who were found to be fondling their babes, doting upon them, playing with them, and refusing to punish them for any naughtiness. But it is far from being affection, because it is not only foolish, but selfish. To some of my readers this may seem a strange accusation, but it is a fact recognized in the best literary usage, for, as Crabb remarks, "a person is fond, who caresses an object or makes it a source of pleasure to himself." Savages fondle their children because in doing so they please and amuse themselves. Their pranks entertain the fathers, and as for the mothers, nature (natural selection) has implanted in them an unconscious instinct of race preservation which, recognizing the selfishness of primitive man, has brought it about that it gives the mother a special pleasure to suckle and fondle her infant. The essential selfishness of this fondness is revealed when there is a conflict between the mother's comfort and the child's welfare. The horrible prevalence among many of the lower races, of infanticide—merely to save trouble—of which many examples are given in various parts of this book (see index)—shows not only how selfish, but how shallow, fondness is. There are thousands of mothers in our modern cities who have not risen above this condition. An Italian, Ferriani, has written a book on degenerate mothers (Madri Snaturate), and I have in my note-books a statement of the London Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children referring to a record of 2,141 cases of proved cruelty in the one month of August, 1898; which would make at least 25,000 cases a year, in one city alone, or possibly double that number, for many cases are never found out, or else consist of mental torture which is worse than bodily maltreatment. Yet there can be no doubt that all, or nearly all, of these mothers were fond of their babies—i.e., fondled them at first, till the animal instinct implanted in them was overcome by the desire for personal comfort. This animal instinct, given to them by nature, is no virtue, for it is unconscious. A tigress has it, but we do not call it a virtue in her any more than we call her cruelty to her prey a vice; she is acting unconsciously in either case, knowing no distinction between good and evil. Fondness, in a word, is not an ethical virtue. In addition to all its enumerated shortcomings, it is, moreover, transient. A dog mother will care for her young for a few months with the watchfulness and temporary ferocity implanted in her by natural selection, but after that she will abandon them and recognize them no more as her own. Sometimes this instinctive fondness ceases with startling rapidity. I remember once in a California yard, how a hen flew in my face angrily because I had frightened her chicks. A few days later she deserted them, before they were really quite old enough to take care of themselves, and all my efforts to make her return and let them sleep again under her warm feathers failed. She even pecked at them viciously. Some of the lower savages similarly abandon their young as soon as they are able to get along, while those who care for them longer, do so not from affection, but because sons are useful assistants in hunting and fighting, and daughters can be sold or traded off for new wives. That they do not keep them from affection is proved by the fact that in all cases where any selfish advantage can be gained they marry them off without reference to their wishes or chances of happiness.[39]


While the fondness of savages, which has been so often mistaken for affection, is thus seen to be foolish, unconscious, selfish, shallow, and transient, true affection is rational, conscious, unselfish, deep, and enduring. Being rational, it looks not to the enjoyment or comfort of the moment, but to future and enduring welfare, and therefore does not hesitate to punish folly or misdeeds in order to avert future illness or misfortune. Instead of being a mere instinctive impulse, liable to cease at any moment, like that of the California hen referred to, it is a conscious altruism, never faltering in its ethical sense of duty, utterly incapable of sacrificing another's comfort or well-being to its own. While fondness is found coexisting with cruelty and even with infanticide and cannibalism (as in those Australian mothers, who feed their children well and carry them when tired, but when a real test of altruism comes—during a famine—kill and eat them,[40] just as the men do their wives when they cease to be sensually attractive), affection is horrified at the mere suggestion of such a thing. No man into whose love affection enters as an ingredient would ever injure his beloved merely to gratify himself. Crabb is utterly wrong when he writes that

"love is more selfish in its nature than friendship; in indulging another it seeks its own, and when this is not to be obtained, it will change into the contrary passion of hatred."

This is a definition of lust, not of love—a definition of the passion as known to the Greek Euripides, of whose lovers Benecke says (53):

"If, or as soon as, they fail in achieving the gratification of their sensual desires, their 'love' immediately turns to hate. The idea of devotion or self-sacrifice for the good of the beloved person, as distinct from one's own, is absolutely unknown. 'Love is irresistible,' they say, and, in obedience to its commands, they set down to reckon how they can satisfy themselves, at no matter what cost to the objects of their passion."

How different this unaffectionate "love" from the love of which our poets sing! Shakspere knew that absorbing affection is an ingredient of love: Beatrice loves Benedick "with an enraged affection," which is "past the infinite of the night." Rosalind does not know how many fathom deep she is in love: "It cannot he sounded; my affection hath an unknown bottom, like the Bay of Portugal." Dr. Abel has truly said that

"affection is love tested and purified in the fire of the intellect. It appears when, after the veil of fancy has dropped, a beloved one is seen in the natural beauty with various human limitations, and is still found worthy of the warmest regards. It comes slowly, but it endures; gives more than it takes and has a tinge of tender gratitude for a thousand kind actions and for the bestowal of enduring happiness. According to English ideas, a deep affection, through whose clear mirror the gold of the old love shimmers visibly, should be the fulfilment of marriage."

Of romantic love affection obviously could not become an ingredient till minds were cultured, women esteemed, men made altruistic, and opportunities were given for youths and maidens to become acquainted with each other's minds and characters before marriage; as Dr. Abel says, affection "comes slowly—but it endures." The love of which affection forms an ingredient can never change to hatred, can never have any murderous impulses, as Schuré and Goethe believed. It survives time and sensual charms, as Shakspere knew:

     Love is not love
     Which alters when it alteration finds.

* * * * *

     Love's not time's fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
     Within his bending sickle's compass come;
     Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
     But bears it out ev'n to the edge of doom:—

     If this be error, and upon me proved;
     I never writ nor no man ever loved.


Romantic love has worked two astounding miracles. We have seen how, with the aid of five of its ingredients—sympathy, adoration, gallantry, self-sacrifice, and affection—it has overthrown the Goliath of selfishness. We shall now see how it has overcome another formidable foe of civilization—sensualism—by means of two other modern ingredients, one of which I will call mental purity (to distinguish it from bodily purity or chastity) and the other esthetic admiration of personal beauty.


Modern German literature contains many sincere tributes, in prose and verse, to the purity and nobility of true love and its refining influence. The psychologist Horwicz refers briefly (38) to the way in which

"love, growing up as a mighty passion from the substratum of sexual life, has, under the repressing influence of centuries of habits and customs, taken on an entirely new, supersensual, ethereal character, so that to a lover every thought of naturalia seems indelicate and improper." "I feel it deeply that love must ennoble, not crush me,"

wrote the poet Korner; and again,

"Your sweet name was my talisman, which led me undefiled through youth's wild storms, amid the corruption of the times, and protected my inner sanctum." "O God!" wrote Beethoven, "let me at last find her who is destined to be mine, and who shall strengthen me in virtue."

According to Dr. Abel, while love longs ardently to possess the beloved, to enjoy her presence and sympathy, it has also a more or less prominent mental trait which ennobles the passion and places it at the service of the ideal of its fancy. It is accompanied by an enthusiasm for the good and the beautiful in general, which comes to most people only during the brief period of love. "It is a temporary self-exaltation, purifying the desires and urging the lover to generous deeds."

     Des höchste Glück hat keine Lieder,
     Der Liebe Lust ist still und mild;
     Ein Kuss, ein Blicken hin und wieder,
     Und alle Sehnsucht ist gestillt.

Schiller defined love as an eager "desire for another's happiness." "Love," he adds, "is the most beautiful phenomenon in all animated nature, the mightiest magnet in the spiritual world, the source of veneration and the sublimest virtues." Even Goethe had moments when he appreciated the purity of love, and he confutes his own coarse conception that was referred to in the last section when he makes Werther write: "She is sacred to me. All desire is silent in her presence."[41]

The French Edward Schuré exclaims, in his History of German Song:

"What surprises us foreigners in the poems of this people is the unbounded faith in love, as the supreme power in the world, as the most beautiful and divine thing on earth, … the first and last word of creation, its only principle of life, because it alone can urge us to complete self-surrender."

Schuré's intimation that this respect for love is peculiar to the Germans is, of course, absurd, for it is found in the modern literature of all civilized countries of Europe and America; as for instance in Michael Angelo's

     The might of one fair face sublimes my love,
     For it hath weaned my heart from low desires.


English literature, particularly, has been saturated with this
sentiment for several centuries. Love is "all purity," according to
Shakspere's Silvius. Schlegel remarked that by the manner in which
Shakspere handled the story of Romeo and Juliet, it has become

"a glorious song of praise on that inexpressible feeling which ennobles the soul and gives to it its highest sublimity, and which elevates even the senses themselves into soul;"

—which reminds one of Emerson's expression that the body is "ensouled" through love. Steele declared that "Love is a passion of the mind (perhaps the noblest), which was planted in it by the same hand that created it;" and of Lady Elizabeth Hastings he wrote that "to love her was a liberal education." In Steel's Lover (No. 5) we read:

"During this emotion I am highly elated in my Being, and my every sentiment improved by the effects of that Passion…. I am more and more convinced that this Passion is in lowest minds the strongest Incentive that can move the Soul of Man to laudable Accomplishments."

And in No. 29: "Nothing can mend the Heart better than an honorable
Love, except Religion." Thomas Otway sang:

     O woman! lovely woman! Nature made thee
     To temper man: we had been brutes without you.
     There's in you all that we believe of heaven,
     Amazing brightness, purity, and truth,
     Eternal joy, and everlasting love.

"Love taught him shame," said Dryden, and Spenser wrote a Hymn in
Honor of Love, in which he declared that

     Such is the power of that sweet passion
       That it all sordid baseness doth expel,
     And the refined mind doth newly fashion
       Unto a fairer form, which now doth dwell
     In his high thought, that would itself excel.

Leigh Hunt wrote: "My love has made me better and more desirous of improvement than I have been."

     Love, indeed, is light from heaven;
       A spark of that immortal fire,
     With angels shared, by Allah given,
       To lift from earth our low desire.
     Devotion wafts the mind above,
     But heaven itself descends in love.

     Why should we kill the best of passions, love?
     It aids the hero, bids ambition rise
     To nobler heights, inspires immortal deeds,
     Ev'n softens brutes, and adds a grace to virtue.

Dr. Beddoe, author of the Browning Cyclopaedia, declares that "the passion of love, throughout Mr. Browning's works, is treated as the most sacred thing in the human soul." How Browning himself loved we know from one of his wife's letters, in which she relates how she tried to discourage his advances:

"I showed him how he was throwing away into the ashes his best affections—how the common gifts of youth and cheerfulness were behind me—how I had not strength, even of heart, for the ordinary duties of life—everything I told him and showed him. 'Look at this—and this—and this,' throwing down all my disadvantages. To which he did not answer by a single compliment, but simply that he had not then to choose, and that I might be right or he might be right, he was not there to decide; but that he loved me and should to his last hour. He said that the freshness of youth had passed with him also, and that he had studied the world out of books and seen many women, yet had never loved one until he had seen me. That he knew himself, and knew that, if ever so repulsed, he should love me to his last hour—it should be first and last."

No poet understood better than Tennyson that purity is an ingredient of love:

             For indeed I know
     Of no more subtle master under heaven
     Than is the maiden passion for a maid,
     Not only to keep down the base in man,
     But teach high thoughts and amiable words,
     And courtliness, and the desire of fame
     And love of truth, and all that makes a man.


Bryan Waller Proctor fell in love when he was only five years old: "My love," he wrote afterward, "had the fire of passion, but not the clay which drags it downward; it partook of the innocence of my years, while it etherealized me."

Such ethereal love too is the prerogative of a young maiden, whose imagination is immaculate, ignorant of impurity.

     Her feelings have the fragrancy,
     The freshness of young flowers.

     No, no, the utmost share
       Of my desire shall be,
     Only to kiss that air
       That lately kissed thee.

In high school, when sentimental impulses first manifest themselves in a girl, she is more likely than not to transfer them to a girl. Her feelings, in these cases, are not merely those of a warm friendship, but they resemble the passionate, self-sacrificing attitude of romantic love. New York schoolgirls have a special slang phrase for this kind of love—they call it a "crush," to distinguish it from a "mash," which refers to an impression made on a man. A girl of seventeen told me one day how madly she was in love with another girl whose seat was near hers; how she brought her flowers, wiped her pens, took care of her desk; "but I don't believe she cares for me at all," she added, sadly.


Such love is usually as innocent as a butterfly's flirtation with a flower.[42] It has a pathologic phase, in some cases, which need not be discussed here. But I wish to call attention to the fact that even in abnormal states modern love preserves its purity. The most eminent authority on mental pathology, Professor Krafft-Ebing, says, concerning erotomania:

"The kernel of the whole matter is the delusion of being singled out and loved by a person of the other sex, who regularly belongs to a higher social class. And it should be noted that the love felt by the patient toward this person is a romantic, ecstatic, but entirely 'Platonic' affection."

I have among my notes a remarkable case, relating to that most awful of diseases that can befall a woman—nymphomania.[43] The patient relates:

"I have also noticed that when my affections are aroused, they counteract animal passion. I could never love a man because he was a man. My tendency is to worship the good I find in friends. I feel just the same toward those of my own sex. If they show any regard for me, the touch of a hand has power to take away all morbid feelings."


There are all sorts and conditions of love. To those who have known only the primitive (sensual) sort, the conditions described in the foregoing pages will seem strange and fantastic if not fictitious—that is, the products of the writers' imaginations. Fantastic they are, no doubt, and romantic, but that they are real I can vouch for by my own experience whenever I was in love, which happened several times. When I was a youth of seventeen I fell in love with a beautiful, black-eyed young woman, a Spanish-American of Californian stock. She was married, and I am afraid she was amused at my mad infatuation. Did I try to flirt with her? A smile, a glance of her eyes, was to me the seventh heaven beyond which there could be no other. I would not have dared to touch her hand, and the thought of kissing her was as much beyond my wildest flights of fancy as if she had been a real goddess. To me she was divine, utterly unapproachable by mortal. Every day I used to sit in a lonely spot of the forest and weep; and when she went away I felt as if the son had gone out and all the world were plunged into eternal darkness.

Such is romantic love—a supersensual feeling of crystalline purity from which all gross matter has been distilled. But the love that includes this ingredient is a modern sentiment, less than a thousand years old, and not to be found among savages, barbarians, or Orientals. To them, as the perusal of past and later chapters must convince the reader, it is inconceivable that a woman should serve any other than sensual and utilitarian purposes. The whole story is told in what Dodge says of the Indians, who, "animal-like, approach a woman only to make love to her"; and of the squaws who do not dare even go with a beau to a dance, or go a short distance from camp, without taking precautions against rape—precautions without which they "would not be safe for an instant" (210, 213).


We shall read later on of the obscene talk and sights that poison the minds of boys and girls among Indians, Polynesians, etc., from their infancy; in which respect Orientals are not much better than Hurons and Botocudos. "The Persian child," writes Mrs. Bishop (I., 218),

"from infancy is altogether interested in the topics of adults; and as the conversation of both sexes is said by those who know them best to be without reticence or modesty, the purity which is one of the greatest charms of childhood is absolutely unknown."

Of the Turks (at Bagdad) Ida Pfeiffer writes (L.J.R.W., 202-203) that she found it

"very painful to notice the tone of the conversation that goes on in these harems and in the baths. Nothing can exceed the demureness of the women in public; but when they come together in these places, they indemnify themselves thoroughly for the restraint. While they were busy with their pipes and coffee, I took the opportunity to take a glance into the neighboring apartments, and in a few minutes I saw enough to fill me at once with disgust and compassion for these poor creatures, whom idleness and ignorance have degraded almost below the level of humanity. A visit to the women's baths left a no less melancholy impression. There were children of both sexes, girls, women, and elderly matrons. The poor children! how should they in after life understand what is meant by modesty and purity, when they are accustomed from their infancy to witness such scenes, and listen to such conversation?"

These Orientals are too coarse-fibred to appreciate the spotless, peach-down purity which in our ideal is a maiden's supreme charm. They do not care to prolong, even for a year what to us seems the sweetest, loveliest period of life, the time of artless, innocent maidenhood. They cannot admire a rose for its fragrant beauty, but must needs regard it as a thing to be picked at once and used to gratify their appetite. Nay, they cannot even wait till it is a full-blown rose, but must destroy the lovely bud. The "civilized" Hindoos, who are allowed legally to sacrifice girls to their lusts before the poor victims have reached the age of puberty, are really on a level with the African savages who indulge in the same practice. An unsophisticated reader of Kalidasa might find in the King's comparison of Sakuntala to "a flower that no one has smelt, a sprig that no one has plucked, a pearl that has not yet been pierced," a recognition of the charm of maiden purity. But there is a world-wide difference between this and the modern sentiment. The King's attitude, as the context shows, is simply that of an epicure who prefers his oysters fresh. The modern sentiment is embodied in Heine's exquisite lines:


     E'en as a lovely flower
       So fair, so pure, thou art;
     I gaze on thee and sadness
       Comes stealing o'er my heart.

     My hands I fain had folded
       Upon thy soft brown hair,
     Praying that God may keep thee
       So lovely, pure, and fair.
                               —Trans, of Kate Freiligrath Kroeker.

It is not surprising that this intensely modern poem should have been set to music—the most modern of all the arts—more frequently than any other verses ever written. To Orientals, to savages, to Greeks, it would be incomprehensible—as incomprehensible as Ruskin's "there is no true conqueror of lust but love," or Tennyson's

     'Tis better to have loved and lost
     Than never to have loved at all.

To them the love between men and women seems not a purifying, ennobling emotion, a stimulus to self-improvement and an impulse to do generous, unselfish deeds, but a mere animal passion, low and degrading.


The Japanese have a little more regard for women than most Orientals, yet by them, too, love is regarded as a low passion—as, in fact, identical with lust. It is not considered respectable for young folks to arrange their own marriages on a basis of love.

"Among the lower classes, indeed," says Küchler,[44] "such direct unions are not infrequent; but they are held in contempt, and are known as yago (meeting on a moor), a term of disrespect, showing the low opinion entertained of it." Professor Chamberlain writes, in his Things Japanese (285):

     "One love marriage we have heard of, one in eighteen years!
     But then both the young people had been brought up in
     America. Accordingly they took the reins in their own hands,
     to the great scandal of all their friends and relations."

On another page (308) he says:

"According to the Confucian ethical code, which the Japanese adopted, a man's parents, his teacher, and his lord claim his life-long service, his wife standing on an immeasurably lower plane."[45]

Ball, in his Things Chinese comments on the efforts made by Chinamen to suppress love-matches as being immoral; and the French author, L.A. Martin, says, in his book on Chinese morals (171):

"Chinese philosophers know nothing of Platonic love; they speak of the relations between men and women with the greatest reserve, and we must attribute this to the low esteem in which they generally hold the fair sex; in their illustrations of the disorders of love, it is almost always the woman on whom the blame of seduction is laid."


The Greeks were in the same boat. They did indeed distinguish between two kinds of love, the sensual and the celestial, but—as we shall see in detail in the special chapter devoted to them—they applied the celestial kind only to friendship and boy-love, never to the love between men and women. That love was considered impure and degrading, a humiliating affliction of the mind, not for a moment comparable to the friendship between men or the feelings that unite parents and children. This is the view taken in Plato's writings, in Xenophon's Symposium and everywhere. In Plutarch's Dialogue on Love, written five hundred years after Plato, one of the speakers ventures a faint protest against the current notion that "there is no gust of friendship or heavenly ravishment of mind," in the love for women; but this is a decided innovation on the traditional Greek view, which is thus brutally expressed by one of the interlocutors in the same dialogue:

"True love has nothing to do with women, and I assert that you who are passionately inclined toward women and maidens do not love any more than flies love milk or bees honey, or cooks the calves and birds whom they fatten in the dark…. The passion for women consists at the best in the gain of sensual pleasure and the enjoyment of bodily beauty."

Another interlocutor sums up the Greek attitude in these words: "It behooves respectable women neither to love nor to be loved."

Goethe had an aperçu of the absence of purity in Greek love when he wrote, in his Roman Elegies:

     In der heroischen Zeit, da Götter und Göttinnen liebten.
     Folgte Begierde dem Blick, folgte Genuss der Begier.


The change in love from the barbarian and ancient attitude to the modern conception of it as a refining, purifying feeling is closely connected with the growth of the altruistic ingredients of love—sympathy, gallantry, self-sacrifice, affection, and especially adoration. It is one of the points where religion and love meet. Mariolatry greatly affected men's attitude toward women in general, including their notions about love. There is a curious passage in Burton worth citing here (III., 2):

"Christ himself, and the Virgin Mary, had most beautiful eyes, as amiable eyes as any persons, saith Baradius, that ever lived, yet withal so modest, so chaste, that whosoever looked on them was freed from that passion of burning lust, if we may believe Gerson and Bonaventure; there was no such antidote against it as the Virgin Mary's face."

Mediaeval theologians had a special name for this faculty—Penetrative
Virginity—which McClintock and Strong's Cyclopedia of Biblical
defines as

"such an extraordinary or perfect gift of chastity, to which some have pretended that it overpowered those by whom they have been surrounded, and created in them an insensibility to the pleasures of the flesh. The Virgin Mary, according to some Romanists, was possessed of this gift, which made those who beheld her, notwithstanding her beauty, to have no sentiments but such as were consistent with chastity."

In the eyes of refined modern lovers, every spotless maiden has that gift of penetrative virginity. The beauty of her face, or the charm of her character, inspires in him an affection which is as pure, as chaste, as the love of flowers. But it was only very gradually and slowly that human beauty gained the power to inspire such a pure love; the proof of which assertion is to be unfolded in our next section.


"When beauty fires the blood, how love exalts the mind," exclaimed
Dryden; and Romeo asks:

     Did my heart love till now? forswear it, sight!
     For I ne'er saw true beauty till this night.

In full-fledged romantic love of the masculine type the admiration of a girl's personal beauty is no doubt the most entrancing ingredient. But such love is rare even to-day, while in ordinary love-affairs the sense of beauty does not play nearly so important a role as is commonly supposed. In woman's love, as everybody knows, the regard for masculine beauty usually forms an unimportant ingredient; and a man's love, provided sympathy, adoration, gallantry, self-sacrifice, affection, and purity enter into it, may be of the genuine romantic type, even though he has no sense of beauty at all. And this is lucky for the prospects of love, since, even among the most civilized races to-day, the number of men and women who, while otherwise refined and estimable, have no real appreciation of beauty, personal or otherwise, is astonishingly large.


This being true of the average man and woman among the most cultured races, we ought to be able to conclude, as a matter of course and without the necessity of argumentation, that the admiration of personal beauty has still less to do with the motives that lead a savage to marry this or that girl, or a savage girl to prefer this or that suitor. Strange to say, this simple corollary of the doctrine of evolution has been greatly obscured by Darwin himself, by his theory of sexual selection, which goes so far as to attribute the beauty of the male animals to the continued preference by the females of the more showy males, and the consequent hereditary transmission of their colors and other ornaments. When we bear in mind how unimportant a role the regard for personal beauty plays even among the females of the most advanced human beings, the idea that the females of the lower animals are guided in their pairing by minute subtle differences in the beauty of masculine animals seems positively comic. It is an idea such as could have emanated only from a mind as unesthetic as Darwin's was.

So far as animals are concerned, Alfred Russell Wallace completely demolished the theory of sexual selection,[46] after it had created a great deal of confusion in scientific literature. In regard to the lower races of man this confusion still continues, and I therefore wish to demonstrate here, more conclusively than I did in my first book (60, 61, 327-30), that among primitive men and women, too, the sense of beauty does not play the important rôle attributed to it in their love-affairs. "The Influence of Beauty in determining the Marriages of Mankind" is one of the topics discussed in the Descent of Man. Darwin tries to show that, "especially" during the earlier period of our long history, the races of mankind were modified by the continued selection of men by women and women by men in accordance with their peculiar standards of beauty. He gives some of the numerous instances showing how savages "ornament" or mutilate their bodies; adding:

"The motives are various; the men paint their bodies to make themselves appear terrible in battle; certain mutilations are connected with religious rites, or they mark the age of puberty, or the rank of the man, or they serve to distinguish the tribes. Among savages the same fashions prevail for long periods, and thus mutilations, from whatever cause first made, soon come to be valued as distinctive marks. But self-adornment, vanity, and the admiration of others seem to be the commonest motives."

Among those who were led astray by these views of Darwin is Westermarck, who declares (257, 172) that "in every country, in every race, beauty stimulates passion," and that

"it seems to be beyond doubt that men and women began to ornament, mutilate, paint, and tattoo themselves chiefly in order to make themselves attractive to the opposite sex—that they might court successfully, or be courted"

—an opinion in which Grosse follows him, in his interesting treatise on the Beginnings of Art (111, etc.), thereby marring his chapter on "Personal Decoration." In the following pages I shall show, on the contrary, that when we subject these primitive customs of "ornamentation" and mutilation to a critical examination we find in nearly every case that they are either not at all or only indirectly (not esthetically), connected with the relations of the sexes; and that neither does personal beauty exist as a rule among savages, nor have they the esthetic sense to appreciate its exceptional occurrence. They nearly always paint, tattoo, decorate, or mutilate themselves without the least reference to courtship or the desire to please the other sex. It is the easiest thing in the world to fill page after page—as Darwin, Westermarck, Grosse, and others have done—with the remarks of travellers regarding the addiction of savages to personal "ornamentation"; but this testimony rests, as we shall see, on the unwarranted assumptions of superficial observers, who, ignorant of the real reasons why the lower races paint, tattoo, and otherwise "adorn" themselves, recklessly inferred that they did it to "make themselves beautiful." The more carefully the customs and traditions of these races are studied, the more obvious becomes the non-esthetic and non-erotic origin of their personal "decorations." In my extensive researches, for every single fact that seemed to favor the sexual selection theory I have found a hundred against it; and I have become more and more amazed at the extraordinary sang froid with which its advocates have ignored the countless facts that speak against it while boosting into prominence the very few that at first sight appear to support it. In the following pages I shall attempt to demolish the theory of sexual selection in reference to the lower races of man as Wallace demolished it in reference to animals; premising that the mass of cumulative evidence here presented is only a very small part of what might be adduced on my side. Let us consider the different motives for personal "decoration" in succession.


Many of the alleged personal "decorations" of inferior races are merely measures to protect themselves against climate, insects, etc. The Maoris of New Zealand besmear themselves with grease and red ochre as a defence against the sand-flies.[47] The Andaman islanders plaster themselves with a mixture of lard and colored earth to protect their skins from heat and mosquitoes.[48] Canadian Indians painted their faces in winter as a protection against frost-bite. In Patagonia

"both sexes smear their faces, and occasionally their bodies with paint, the Indians alleging as the reasons for using this cosmetic that it is a protection against the effects of the wind; and I found from personal experience that it proved a complete preservative from excoriation or chapped skin."[49]

C. Bock notes that in Sumatra rice powder is lavishly employed by many of the women, but "not with the object of preserving the complexion or reducing the color, but to prevent perspiration by closing the pores of the skin."[50] Baumann says of the African Bakongo that many of their peculiar ways of arranging the hair "seem to be intended less as ornamental head-dresses than as a bolster for the burdens they carry on their heads;"[51] and Squier says that the reason given by the Nicaraguans for flattening the heads of their children is that they may be better fitted in adult life to bear burdens.[52]


Equally remote as the foregoing from all ideas of personal beauty or of courtship and the desire to inspire sexual passion is the custom so widely prevalent of painting and otherwise "adorning" the body for war. The Australians diversely made use of red and yellow ochre, or of white pigment for war paint.[53] Caesar relates that the ancient Britons stained themselves blue with woad to give themselves a more horrid aspect in war. "Among ourselves," as Tylor remarks, "the guise which was so terrific in the Red Indian warrior has comedown to make the circus clown a pattern of folly,"[54] Regarding Canadian Indians we read that

"some may be seen with blue noses, but with cheeks and eyebrows black; others mark forehead, nose, and cheeks with lines of various colors; one would think he beheld so many hobgoblins. They believe that in colors of this description they are dreadful to their enemies, and that otherwise their own line of battle will be concealed as by a veil; finally, that it hardens the skin of the body, so that the cold of the winter is easily borne."[55]

The Sioux Indians blackened their faces when they went on the warpath.

"highly prize personal bravery, and therefore constantly wear the marks of distinction which they received for their exploits; among these are, especially, tufts of human hair attached to the arms and legs, and feathers on their heads."[56]

When Sioux warriors return from the warpath with scalps "the squaws as well as the men paint with vermilion a semicircle in front of each ear."[57] North Carolina Indians when going to war painted their faces all over red, while those of South Carolina, according to DeBrahm, "painted their faces red in token of friendship and black in expression of warlike intentions." "Before charging the foe," says Dorsey, "the Osage warriors paint themselves anew. This is called the death paint." The Algonquins, on the day of departure for war, dressed in their best, coloring the hair red and painting their faces and bodies red and black. The Cherokees when going to war dyed their hair red and adorned it with feathers of various colors.[58] Bancroft says (I., 105) that when a Thlinkit arms himself for war he paints his face and powders his hair a brilliant red. "He then ornaments his head with a white eagle feather as a token of stern, vindictive determination."

John Adair wrote of the Chickasaws, in 1720, that they "readily know achievements in war by the blue marks over their breasts and arms, they being as legible as our alphabetical characters are to us"—which calls attention to a very frequent use of what are supposed to be ornaments as merely part of a language of signs. Irving remarks in Astoria, regarding the Arikara warriors, that "some had the stamp of a red hand across their mouths, a sign that they had drunk the life-blood of an enemy." In Schoolcraft we read (II., 58) that among the Dakotas on St. Peter's River a red hand means that the wearer has been wounded by an enemy, while a black hand indicates "I have slain an enemy." The Hidatsa Indians wore eagle feathers "to denote acts of courage or success in war"; and the Dakotas and others indicated by means of special spots or colored bars in their feathers or cuts in them, that the wearer had killed an enemy, or wounded one, or taken a scalp, or killed a woman, etc. A black feather denoted that an Ojibwa woman was killed. The marks on their blankets had similar meanings.[59] Peter Carder, an Englishman captive among the Brazilians, wrote:

"This is to be noted, that how many men these savages doe kill, so many holes they will have in their visage, beginning first in the nether lippe, then in the cheekes, thirdly, in both their eye-browes, and lastly in their eares."[60]

Of the Abipones we read that,

"distrusting their courage, strength, and arms, they think that paint of various colors, feathers, shouting, trumpets, and other instruments of terror will forward their success."[61]

Fancourt(314) says of the natives of Yucatan that "in their wars, and when they went to their sacrificial dances and festivals, they had their faces, arms, thighs, and legs painted and naked." In Fiji the men bore a hole through the nose and put in a couple of feathers, nine to twelve inches long, which spread out over each side of the face like immense mustaches. They do this "to give themselves a fiercer appearance."[62] Waitz notes that in Tahiti mothers compressed the heads of their infant boys "to make their aspect more terrible and thus turn them into more formidable warriors." The Tahitians, as Ellis informs us, "went to battle in their best clothes, sometimes perfumed with fragrant oil, and adorned with flowers."[63] Of the wild tribes in Kondhistan, too, we read that "it is only, however, when they go out to battle … that they adorn themselves with all their finery."[64]


The African tribes along the Congo wear on their bodies

"the horn, the hoof, the hair, the teeth, and the bones of all manner of quadrupeds; the feathers, beaks, claws, skulls, and bones of birds; the heads and skins of snakes; the shells and fins of fishes, pieces of old iron, copper, wood, seeds of plants, and sometimes a mixture of all, or most of them, strung together."

Unsophisticated travellers speak of these things as "ornaments" indicating the strange "sense of beauty" of these natives. In reality, they have nothing to do with the sense of beauty, but are merely a manifestation of savage superstition. In Tuckey's Zaire, from which the above citation is made (375), they are properly classed as fetiches, and the information is added that in the choice of them the natives consult the fetich men. A picture is given in the book of one appendage to the dress "which the weaver considered an infallible charm against poison." Others are "considered as protection against the effects of thunder and lightning, against the attacks of the alligator, the hippopotamus, snakes, lions, tigers," etc., etc. Winstanley relates (II., 68) that in Abyssinia

"the Mateb, or baptismal cord, is de rigueur, and worn when nothing else is. It formed the only clothing of the young at Seramba, but was frequently added to with amulets, sure safeguards against sorcery."

Concerning the Bushmen, Mackenzie says:

"Certain marks on the face, or bits of wood on his hair, or tied around his neck, are medicines or charms to be taken in sickness, or proximity to lions, or in other circumstances of danger."[65]

Bastian relates that in many parts of Africa every infant is tattooed on the belly, to dedicate it thereby to a certain fetich.[66] The inland negroes mark all sorts of patterns on their skins, partly "to expel evil influences."[67] The Nicaraguans punctured and scarified their tongues because, as they explained to Oviedo, it would bring them luck in bargains. The Peruvians, says Cieza, pulled out three teeth of each jaw in children of very tender age because that would be acceptable to the gods; and Garcilassa notes that the Peruvians pulled out a hair of an eyebrow when making an offering. Jos. d'Acosta also describes how the Peruvians pulled out eyelashes and eyebrows and offered them to the deities. The natives of Yucatan, according to Fancourt, wore their hair long as "a sign of idolatry."[68] When Franklin relates that Chippewayan Indians "prize pictures very highly and esteem any they can get," we seem to have come across a genuine esthetic sense, till we read that it makes no difference how badly they are executed, and that they are valued "as efficient charms."[69] All Abipones of both sexes

"pluck up the hair from the forehead to the crown of the head, so that the forepart of the head is bald almost for the space of two inches; this baldness they … account a religious mark of their nation."[70]

The Point Barrow Eskimos believe that clipping their hair on the back of the head in a certain way "prevents snow-blindness in the spring." These Eskimos painted their faces when they went whaling, and the Kadiaks did so before any important undertaking, such as crossing a wide strait, chasing the sea-otter, etc.[71] In regard to the amulets or charms worn by Eskimos, Crantz says:

"These powerful preventives consist in a bit of old wood hung around their necks, or a stone, or a bone, or a beak or claw of a bird, or else a leather strap tied round their forehead, breast, or arm."[72]

Marcano says that "the Indians of French Guiana paint themselves in order to drive away the devil when they start on a journey or for war."[73] In his treatise on the religion of the Dakotas, Lynd remarks:

"Scarlet or red is the religious color for sacrifices…. The use of paint, the Dakotas aver, was taught them by the gods. Unkteh taught the first medicine men how to paint themselves when they worshipped him and what colors to use. Takushkanshkan (the moving god) whispers to his favorites what colors to use. Heyoka hovers over them in dreams, and informs them how many streaks to employ upon their bodies and the tinge they must have. No ceremony of worship is complete without the wakan, or sacred application of paint."[74]

By the Tasmanians "the bones of relatives were worn around the neck, less, perhaps, as ornaments than as charms."[75] The Ainos of Japan and the Fijians held that tattooing was a custom introduced by the gods. Fijian women believed "that to be tattooed is a passport to the other world, where it prevents them from being persecuted by their own sex."[76] An Australian custom ordained that every person must have the septum of the nose pierced and must wear in it a piece of bone, a reed, or the stalks of some grass. This was not done, however, with the object of adorning the person, but for superstitious reasons: "the old men used to predict to those who were averse to this mutilation all kinds of evil." The sinner, they said, would suffer in the next world by having to eat filth. "To avoid a punishment so horrible, each one gladly submitted, and his or her nose was pierced accordingly." (Brough Smyth, 274.) Wilhelmi says that in the Northwest the men place in the head-band behind the ears pieces of wood decorated with very thin shavings and looking like plumes of white feathers. They do this "on occasions of rejoicings and when engaged in their mystic ceremonies." Nicaraguans trace the custom of flattening the heads of children to instructions from the gods, and Pelew Islanders believed that to win eternal bliss the septum of the nose must be perforated, while Eskimo girls were induced to submit to having long stitches made with a needle and black thread on several parts of the face by the superstitious fear that if they refused they would, after death, be turned into train tubs and placed under the lamps in heaven.[77] In order that the ghost of a Sioux Indian may travel the ghost road in safety, it is necessary for each Dakota during his life to be tattooed in the middle of the forehead or on the wrists. If found without these, he is pushed from a cloud or cliff and falls back to this world.[78] In Australia, the Kurnai medicine men were supposed to be able to communicate with ghosts only when they had certain bones thrust through the nose.[79] The American Anthropologist contains (July, 1889) a description of the various kinds of face-coloring to indicate degrees in the Grand Medicine Society of the Ojibwa. These Indians frequently tattooed temples, forehead, or cheeks of sufferers from headache or toothache, in the belief that this would expel the demons who cause the pain. In Congo, scarifications are made on the back for therapeutic reasons; and in Timor-Laut (Malay Archipelago), both sexes tattooed themselves "in imitation of immense smallpox marks, in order to ward off that disease."[80]


Australian women of the Port Lincoln tribes paint a ring around each eye and a streak over the stomach, and men mark their breasts with stripes and paints in different patterns. An ignorant observer, or an advocate of the sexual selection theory, would infer that these "decorations" are resorted to for the purpose of ornamentation, to please individuals of the opposite sex. But Wilhelmi, who understood the customs of these tribes, explains that these divers stripes and paints have a practical object, being used to "indicate the different degrees of relationship between a dead person and the mourners."[81] In South Australia widows in mourning "shave their heads, cover them with a netting, and plaster them with pipe-clay"[82]. A white band around the brow is also used as a badge of mourning[83]. Taplin says that the Narrinyeri adorn the bodies of the dead with bright-red ochre, and that this is a wide-spread custom in Australia. A Dyeri, on being asked why he painted red and white spots on his skin, answered: "Suppose me no make-im, me tumble down too; that one [the corpse] growl along-a-me." A further "ornament" of the women on these occasions consists in two white streaks on the arm to indicate that they have eaten some of the fat of the dead, according to their custom. (Smyth, I., 120.) In some districts the mourners paint themselves white on the death of a blood relation, and black when a relative by marriage dies. The corpse is often painted red. Red is used too when boys are initiated into manhood, and with most tribes it is also the war-color. Hence it is not strange that they should undertake long journeys to secure fresh supplies of ochre: for war, mourning, and superstition are three of the strongest motives of savage activity. African Bushmen anoint the heads of the dead with a red powder mixed with melted fat. Hottentots, when mourning, shave their heads in furrows. Damaras wear a dark-colored skin-cap: a piece of leather round the neck, to which is attached a piece of ostrich egg-shell. Coast negroes bury the head of a family in his best clothes and ornaments, and Dahomans do the same[84]. Schweinfurth says that "according to the custom, which seems to belong to all Africa, as a sign of grief the Dinka wear a cord round the neck."[85] Mourning New Zealanders tie a red cloth round the head or wear headdresses of dark feathers. New Caledonians cut off their hair and blacken and oil their faces[85]. Hawaiians cut their hair in various forms, knock out a front tooth, cut the ears and tattoo a spot on the tongue[86]. The Mineopies use three coloring substances for painting their bodies; and by the way they apply them they let it be known whether a person is ill or in mourning, or going to a festival.[87] In California the Yokaia widows make an unguent with which they smear a white band two inches wide all around the edge of the hair[88]. Of the Yukon Indians of Alaska "some wore hoops of birch wood around the neck and waists, with various patterns of figures cut on them. These were said to be emblems of mourning for the dead."[89] Among the Snanaimuq "the face of the deceased is painted with red and black paint… After the death of husband or wife the survivor must paint his legs and his blanket red."[90] Numerous other instances may be found in Mallery, who remarks that "many objective modes of showing mourning by styles of paint and markings are known, the significance of which are apparent when discovered in pictographs."[91]


Among the customs which, in Darwin's opinion, show "how widely the different races of man differ in their taste for the beautiful," is that of moulding the skull of infants into various unnatural shapes, in some cases making the head "appear to us idiotic." One would think that before accepting such a monstrous custom as evidence of any kind of a sense of beauty, Darwin, and those who expressed the same opinion before and after him, would have inquired whether there is not some more rational way of accounting for the admiration of deformed heads by these races than by assuming that they approved of them for esthetic reasons. There is no difficulty in finding several non-esthetic reasons why peculiarly moulded skulls were approved of. The Nicaraguans, as I have already stated, believed that heads were moulded in order to make it easier to bear burdens, and the Peruvians also said they pressed the heads of children to make them healthier and able to do more work. But vanity—individual or tribal—and fashion were the principal motives. According to Torquemada, the kings were the first who had their heads shaped, and afterward permission to follow their example was granted to others as a special favor. In their classical work on Peruvian antiquities (31-32) Eivero and Tschudi describe the skulls they examined., including many varieties "artificially produced, and differing according to their respective localities."

"These irregularities were undoubtedly produced by mechanical causes, and were considered as the distinctive marks of families; for in one Huaca [cemetery] will always be found the same form of crania; while in another, near by, the forms are entirely different from those in the first."

The custom of flattening the head was practised by various Indian tribes, especially in the Pacific States, and Bancroft (I., 180) says that, "all seem to admire a flattened forehead as a sign of noble birth;" and on p. 228, he remarks:

"Failure properly to mould the cranium of her offspring gives the Chinook matron the reputation of a lazy and un-dutiful mother, and subjects the neglected children to the ridicule of their companions; so despotic is fashion."

The Arab races of Africa alter the shapes of their children's heads because they are jealous of their noble descent. (Bastian, D.M., II., 229.)

"The genuine Turkish skull," says Tylor (Anth., 240),

"is of the broad Tatar form, while the natives of Greece and Asia Minor have oval skulls, which gives the reason why at Constantinople it became the fashion to mould the babies' skulls round, so that they grew up with the broad head of the conquering race. Relics of such barbarism linger on in the midst of civilization, and not long ago a French physician surprised the world by the fact that nurses in Normandy were still giving the children's heads a sugar-loaf shape by bandages and a tight cap, while in Brittany they preferred to press it round."

Knocking out some of the teeth, or filing them into certain shapes, is another widely prevalent custom, for which it is inadmissible to invoke a monstrous and problematic esthetic taste as long as it can be accounted for on simpler and less disputable grounds, such as vanity, the desire for tribal distinction, or superstition. Holub found (II., 259), that in one of the Makololo tribes it was customary to break out the top incisor teeth, for the reason that it is "only horses that eat with all their teeth, and that men ought not to eat like horses." In other cases it is not contempt for animals but respect for them that accounts for the knocking out of teeth. Thus Livingstone relates (L. Tr., II., 120), in speaking of a boy from Lomaine, that "the

upper teeth extracted seemed to say that the tribe have cattle. The knocking out of the teeth is in imitation of the animals they almost worship." The Batokas also give as their reason for knocking out their upper front teeth that they wish to be like oxen. Livingstone tells us (Zamb., 115), that the Manganja chip their teeth to resemble those of the cat or crocodile: which suggests totemism, or superstitious respect for an animal chosen as an emblem of a tribe. That the Australian custom of knocking out the upper front teeth at puberty is part of a religious ceremonial, and not the outcome of a desire to make the boys attractive to the girls, as Westermarck naïvely assumes (174, 172), is made certain by the details given in Mallery (1888-89, 513-514), including an excerpt from a manuscript by A.W. Howitt, in which it is pointed out that the humming instrument kuamas, the bull-roarer, "has a sacred character with all the Australian tribes;" and that there are marked on it "two notches, one at each end, representing the gap left in the upper jaw of the novice after his teeth have been knocked out during the rites."[92] But perhaps the commonest motive for altering the teeth is the desire to indicate tribal connections. "Various tribes," says Tylor (Anthr. 240), "grind their front teeth to points, or cut them away in angular patterns, so that in Africa and elsewhere a man's tribe is often known by the cut of his teeth."

Peculiar arrangements of the hair also have misled unwary observers into fancying that they were made for beauty's sake and to attract the opposite sex, when in reality they were tribal marks or had other utilitarian purposes, serving as elements in a language of signs, etc. Frazer, e.g., notes (27) that the turtle clan of the Omaha Indians cuts off all the hair from a boy's head except six locks which hang down in imitation of the legs, head, and tail of a turtle; while the Buffalo clan arranges two locks of hair in imitation of horns. "Nearly all the Indian tribes," writes Mallery (419), "have peculiarities of the arrangement of the hair and of some article of apparel or accoutrement by which they can always be distinguished." Heriot relates (294) that among the Indians

"the fashion of trimming the hair varies in a great degree, and an enemy may by this means be discovered at a considerable distance." "The Pueblos generally, when accurate and particular in delineation [pictographs], designate the women of that tribe by a huge coil of hair over either ear. This custom prevails also among the Coyotèro Apaches, the woman wearing the hair in coil to denote a virgin or an unmarried person, while the coil is absent in the case of a married woman."

By the Mokis, maidenhood is indicated by wearing the hair as a disk on each side of the head. (Mallery, 231-32.) Similar usages on other continents might be cited.

Besides these arbitrary modifications of the skull and the teeth, and the divers arrangements of the hair, there are various other ways in which the lower races indicate tribal connection, rank, or other conditions. Writing about negroes Burton says (Abeok., I., 106), that lines, welts, and all sorts of skin patterns are used, partly for superstitious reasons, partly to mark the different tribes and families. "A volume would not suffice to explain all the marks in detail." Of the Dahomans, Forbes says (I., 28), "that according to rank and wealth anklets and armlets of all metals, and necklaces of glass, coral, and Popae beads, are worn by both sexes." Livingstone relates (Mis. Trav., 276) that the copper rings worn on their ankles by the chiefs of Londa were so large and heavy that they seriously inconvenienced them in walking. That this custom was entirely an outcome of vanity and emulation, and not a manifestation of the esthetic sense, is made clear by the further observations of Livingstone. Men who could not afford so many of these copper rings would still, he found, strut along as if they had them. "That is the way," he was informed, "in which they show off their lordship in these parts." Among the Mojave Indians "nose-jewels designate a man of wealth and rank," and elaborate headdresses of feathers are the insignia of the chiefs[93]. Champlain says that among the Iroquois those who wore three large plumes were chiefs. In Thurn says (305) that each of the Guiana tribes makes its feather head-dresses of special colors; and Martins has the following regarding the Brazilian Indians: "Commonly all the members of a tribe, or a horde, or a family, agree to wear certain ornaments or signs as characteristic marks." Among these are various ornaments of feathers on the head, pieces of wood, stones, or shells, in the ears, the nose, and lips, and especially tattoo marks.


Thus we see that an immense number of mutilations of the body and alleged "decorations" of it are not intended by these races as things of beauty, but have special meanings or uses in connection with protection, war, superstition, mourning, or the desire to mark distinctions between the tribes, or degrees of rank within one tribe or horde. Usually the "ornamentations" are prescribed for all members of a tribe of the same sex, and their acceptance is rigidly enforced. At the same time there is scope for variety in the form of deviations or exaggerations, and these are resorted to by ambitious individuals to attract attention to their important selves, and thus to gratify vanity, which, in the realm of fashion, is a thing entirely apart from—and usually antagonistic to—the sense of beauty[94]. At Australian dances various colors are used with the object of attracting attention. Especially fantastic are their "decorations" at the corroborees, when the bodies of the men are painted with white streaks that make them look like skeletons. Bulmer believed that their object was to "make themselves as terrible as possible to the beholders and not beautiful or attractive," while Grosse thinks (65) that as these dances usually take place by moonlight, the object of the stripes is to make the dancers more conspicuous—two explanations which are not inconsistent with each other.

Fry relates[95] that the Khonds adorn their hair till they may be seen "intoxicated with vanity on its due decoration." Hearne (306) saw Indians who had a single lock of hair that "when let down would trail on the ground as they walked." Anderson expresses himself with scientific precision when he writes (136) that in Fiji the men "who like to attract the attention of the opposite sex, don their best plumage." The attention may be attracted by anything that is conspicuous, entirely apart from the question whether it be regarded as a thing of beauty or not. Bourne makes the very suggestive statement (69-70) that in Patagonia the beautiful plumage of the ostrich was not appreciated, but allowed to blow all over the country, while the natives adorned themselves with beads and cheap brass and copper trinkets. We may therefore assume that in those cases where feathers are used for "adornment" it is not because their beauty is appreciated but because custom has given them a special significance. In many cases they indicate that the wearer is a person of rank—chief or medicine man—as we saw in the preceding pages. We also saw that special marks in feathers among Dakotas indicated that the wearer had taken a human life, which, more than anything else, excites the admiration of savage women; so that what fascinates them in such a case is not the feather itself but the deed it stands for. Panlitzschke informs us (E.N.O.Afr., chap. ii.), that among the African Somali and Gallas every man who had killed someone, boastfully wore an ostrich feather on his head to call attention to his deed. The Danâkil wore these feathers for the same purpose, adding ivory rods in their ear-lobes and fastening a bunch of white horsehair to their shield. A strip of red silk round the forehead served the same purpose. Lumholtz, describing a festival dance in Australia (237), says that some of the men hold in their mouths tufts of talegalla feathers "for the purpose of giving themselves a savage look." By some Australians bunches of hawk's or eagle's feathers are worn "either when fighting or dancing, and also used as a fan" (Brough Smyth, I., 281-282), which suggests the thought that the fantastic head-dresses of feathers, etc., often seen in warm countries, may be worn as protection against the sun[96].

I doubt, too, whether the lower races are able to appreciate flowers esthetically as we do, apart from their fragrance, which endears them to some barbarians of the higher grades. Concerning Australian women we find it recorded by Brough Smyth (I., 270) that they seem to have no love of flowers, and do not use them to adorn their persons. A New Zealander explained his indifference to flowers by declaring that they were "not good to eat."[97] Other Polynesians were much given to wearing flowers on the head and body; but whether this was for esthetic reasons seems to me doubtful on account of the revelations made by various missionaries and others. In Ellis, e.g. (P.R., I., 114), we read that in Tahiti the use of flowers in the hair, and fragrant oil, has been in a great degree discontinued, "partly from the connection of these ornaments with the evil practices to which they were formerly addicted."


So far tattooing has been mentioned only incidentally; but as it is one of the most widely prevalent methods of primitive personal "decoration" a few pages must be devoted to it in order to ascertain whether it is true that it is one of those ornamentations which, as Darwin would have us believe, help to determine the marriages of mankind, or, as Westermarck puts it, "men and women began to… tattoo themselves chiefly in order to make themselves attractive to the opposite sex—that they might court successfully, or be courted." We shall find that, on the contrary, tattooing has had from the earliest recorded times more than a dozen practical purposes, and that its use as a stimulant of the passion of the opposite sex probably never occurred to a savage until it was suggested to him by a philosophizing visitor.

Twenty-four centuries ago Herodotus not only noted that the Thracians had punctures on their skins, but indicated the reason for them: they are, he said, "a mark of nobility: to be without them is a testimony of mean descent."[98] This use of skin disfigurements prevails among the lower races to the present day, and it is only one of many utilitarian and non-esthetic functions subserved by them. In his beautifully illustrated volume on Maori tattooing, Major-General Robley writes:

"Native tradition has it that their first settlers used to mark their faces for battle with charcoal, and that the lines on the face thus made were the beginnings of the tattoo. To save the trouble of this constantly painting their warlike decorations on the face, the lines were made permanent. Hence arose the practice of carving the face and the body with dyed incisions. The Rev. Mr. Taylor … assumes that the chiefs being of a lighter race, and having to fight side by side with slaves of darker hues, darkened their faces in order to appear of the same race."


When Captain Cook visited New Zealand (1769) he was much interested in the tattooing of the Maoris, and noted that each tribe seemed to have a different custom in regard to it; thus calling attention to one of its main functions as a means to distinguish the tribes from each other. He described the different patterns on divers parts of the body used by various tribes, and made the further important observation that "by adding to the tattooing they grow old and honorable at the same time." The old French navigator d'Urville found in the Maori tattooing an analogy to European heraldry, with this difference: that whereas the coat-of-arms attests the merits of ancestors, the Maori moko illustrates the merits of the persons decorated with it. It makes them, as Robley wittily says, "men of mark." One chief explained that a certain mark just over his nose was his name; it served the purposes of a seal in signing documents. It has been suggested that the body of a warrior may have been tattooed for the sake of identification in case the head was separated from it; for the Maoris carried on a regular trade in heads. Rutherford, who was held for a long time as a captive, said that only the great ones of the tribe were allowed to decorate the forehead, upper lip, and chin. Naturally such marks were "a source of pride" (a sign of rank), and "the chiefs were very pleased to show the tattooing on their bodies." To have an untattooed face was to be "a poor nobody." Ellis (P.R., III., 263) puts the matter graphically by saying the New Zealander's tattooing answers the purpose of the particular stripe or color of the Highlander's plaid, marking the clan or tribe to which they belong, and is also said to be employed as "a means of enabling them to distinguish their enemies in battle."

In his great work on Borneo (II., 83), Roth cites Brooke Low, who said that tattooing was a custom of recent introduction: "I have seen a few women with small patterns on their breasts, but they were the exception to the rule and were not regarded with favor." Burns says that the Kayan men do not tattoo, but

"many of the higher classes have small figures of stars, beasts, or birds on various parts of their body, chiefly the arms, distinctive of rank. The highest mark is that of having the back of the hands colored or tattooed, which is only conferred on the brave in battle."

St. John says that "a man is supposed to tattoo one finger only, if he has been present when an enemy has been killed, but tattoos hand and fingers if he has taken an enemy's head." Among the Ida'an a man makes a mark on his arm for each enemy slain. One man was seen with thirty-seven such stripes on the arm. A successful head-hunter is also allowed to "decorate" his ears with the canine teeth of a Bornean leopard. "In some cases tatu marks appear to be used as a means of communicating a fact," writes Roth (II., 291). Among the Kayan it indicates rank. Slaughter of an enemy, or mere murder of a slave, are other reasons for tattooing. "A Murut, having run away from the enemy, was tatued on his back. So that we may justly conclude that tatuing among the natives of Borneo is one method of writing." Among the Dusun the men that took heads generally had a tattoo mark for each one on the arm, and were looked upon as very brave, though their victim might have been only a woman or a child (159).

In the fifth volume of Waitz-Gerland's Anthropologie (Pt. II., 64-67), a number of authors are cited testifying that in the Micronesian Archipelago the natives of each island had special kinds of tattoo marks on different parts of the body, to distinguish them from others. These marks were named after the islands. The Micronesians themselves attached also a religious significance to these marks. The natives of Tobi believed that their island would be destroyed if the English visitors who came among them were not at once tattooed. Only those completely marked could enter the temple. The men were more tattooed than the women, who were regarded as inferiors.

In the sixth volume of Waitz-Gerland (30-40) is gathered a large mass of evidence, all of which shows that on the Polynesian islands, too, tattooing was indulged in, not for aesthetic and amorous but for religious and practical reasons. In Tonga it was a mark of rank, not permitted to common people or to slaves. Not to be tattooed was considered improper. In the Marquesas the older and more distinguished a man, the more he was tattooed. Married women were distinguished by having marks on the right hand and left foot. In some cases tattoo marks were used as signs to call to mind certain battles or festivals. A woman in Ponapé had marks for all her successive husbands made on her arm—everything and anything, in fact, except the purpose of decorating for the sake of attracting the other sex. Gerland (33-40) makes out a very strong case for the religions origin of tattooing, which he aptly compares to our confirmation.

In Samoa the principal motive of tattooing seems to have been licentiousness. It was prohibited by the chiefs on account of the obscene practices always connected with it, and there is a legend of the incestuous designs of two divine brothers on their sister which was successful.

"Tattooing thus originated among the gods and was first practised by the children of Taaroa, their principal deity. In imitation of their example, and for the accomplishment of the same purpose, it was practised among men." (Ellis, P.R., I., 262.)


On the American continent we find tattooing practised from north to south, from east to west, for the most diverse reasons, among which the desire to facilitate courtship is never even hinted at. The Eskimos, about the age of puberty, apply paint and tattooing to their faces, cut holes and insert plugs or labrets. The object of these disfigurements is indicated by Bancroft (I., 48): "Different tribes, and different ranks of the same tribe, have each their peculiar form of tattooing." Moreover, "these operations are supposed to possess some significance other than that of mere ornament. Upon the occasion of piercing the lip, for instance, a religious feast is given." John Murdoch relates (Mallery, 396) that the wife of an Eskimo chief had "a little mark tattooed in each corner of her mouth, which she said were 'whale marks,' indicating that she was the wife of a successful whaleman." Of the Kadiaks Bancroft says (72): "The more the female chin is riddled with holes, the greater the respectability." Among the Chippewayan Indians Mackenzie found (85) that both sexes had "blue or black bars, or from one to four straight lines, on their cheeks or foreheads to distinguish the tribe to which they belong." Swan writes (Mallery, 1882-83, 67) that

"the tattoo marks of the Haidas are heraldic designs or the family totem, or crests of the wearers, and are similar to the carvings depicted in the pillars and monuments around the homes of the chiefs."

A Haida Indian remarked to Swan (69): "If you were tattooed with the design of a swan, the Indians would know your family name." It is at festivals and masquerade performances, says the same writer, that "the tatoo marks show with the best effect, and the rank and family connection [are] known by the variety of design," Lafitan reports (II., 43) regarding the Iroquois and Algonquins that the designs which they have tattooed on their faces and bodies are employed as hieroglyphics, writing, and records, to indicate victories, etc. The designs tattooed on an Indian's face or body distinguish him, he adds, as we do a family by its armorial bearings.

"In James's Long it is reported that the Omahas are often neatly tattooed…. The daughters of chiefs and those of wealthy Indians generally are denoted by a small round spot tattooed on the forehead."

(Mallery, 1888-89, 395.) Bossu says regarding the practice of tattooing by the Osages (in 1756): "It is a kind of knighthood to which they are only entitled by great actions." Blue marks tattooed upon the chin of a Mojave woman indicate that she is married. The Serrano Indians near Los Angeles had, as late as 1843, a custom of having special tattoo marks on themselves which were also made on trees to indicate the corner boundaries of patches of land. (Mallery, 1882-83, 64, 182.) In his book on the California Indians, Powers declares (109) that in the Mattoal tribe the men tattoo themselves; in the others the women alone tattoo. The theory that the women are thus marked in order that the men may be able to recognize them and redeem them from captivity seems plausible for the reasons that these Indians are rent into a great number of divisions and that "the squaws almost never attempt any ornamental tattooing, but adhere closely to the plain regulation mark of the tribe." The Hupâ Indians have discovered another practical use for body-marks. Nearly every man has ten lines tattooed across the inside of his left arm, and these lines serve as a measurement of shell-money.

The same non-esthetic motives for tattooing prevail in South and Central America. In Agassiz's book on Brazil we read (318) concerning the Mundurucu Indians:

"Major Coutinho tells us that the tattooing has nothing to do with individual taste, but that the pattern is appointed for both sexes, and is invariable throughout the tribe. It is connected with their caste, the limits of which are very precise, and with their religion."

The tattooing "is also an indication of aristocracy; a man who neglected this distinction would not be respected in his tribe." Concerning the Indians of Guiana we read in Im Thurn (195-96) that they have small distinctive tribal marks tattooed at the corners of the mouth or on the arms. Nearly all have "indelibly excised lines" which are

"scars originally made for surgical, not ornamental purposes." "Some women specially affect certain little figures, like Chinese characters, which looks as if some meaning were attached to them, but which the Indians are either unable or unwilling to explain."

In Nicaragua, as Squire informs us (III., 341), the natives tattooed themselves to designate by special marks the tribes to which they belonged; and as regards Yucatan, Landa writes (§ XXI.) that as tattooing was accompanied by much pain, they thought themselves the more gallant and strong the more they indulged in it; and that those who omitted it were sneered at—which gives us still another motive for tattooing—the fear of being despised and ridiculed for not being in fashion.


Many more similar details might be given regarding the races of various parts of the world, but the limits of space forbid. But I cannot resist the temptation to add a citation from Professor Chamberlain's article on tattooing in his Things Japanese, because it admirably illustrates the diversity of the motives that led to the practice. A Chinese trader, "early in the Christian era," Chamberlain tells us, "wrote that the men all tattoo their faces and ornament their bodies with designs, differences of rank being indicated by the position and size of the patterns." "But from the dawn of regular history," Chamberlain adds,

"far down into the middle ages, tattooing seems to have been confined to criminals. It was used as branding was formerly in Europe, whence probably the contempt still felt for tattooing by the Japanese upper classes. From condemned desperadoes to bravoes at large is but a step. The swashbucklers of feudal times took to tattooing, apparently because some blood and thunder scene of adventure, engraven on their chest and limbs, helped to give them a terrific air when stripped for any reason of their clothes. Other classes whose avocations led them to baring their bodies in public followed—the carpenters, for instance, and running grooms; and the tradition remained of ornamenting almost the entire body and limbs with a hunting, theatrical, or other showy scene."

Shortly after 1808 "the government made tattooing a penal offence."

It will be noticed that in this account the fantastic notion that the custom was ever indulged in for the purpose of beautifying the body in order to attract the other sex is, as in all the other citations I have made, not even hinted at. The same is true in the summary made by Mallery of the seventeen purposes of tattooing he found. No. 13 is, indeed, "to charm the other sex;" but it is "magically," which is a very different thing from esthetically. I append the summary (418):

"1, to distinguish between free and slave, without reference to the tribe of the latter; 2, to distinguish between a high and low status in the same tribe; 3, as a certificate of bravery exhibited by supporting the ordeal of pain; 4, as marks of personal prowess, particularly; 5, as a record of achievements in war; 6, to show religious symbols; 7, as a therapeutic remedy for disease; 8, as a prophylactic against disease; 9, as a brand of disgrace; 10, as a token of a woman's marriage, or, sometimes, 11, of her marriageable condition; 12, identification of the person, not as a tribesman, but as an individual; 13, to charm the other sex magically; 14, to inspire fear in the enemy; 15, to magically render the skin impenetrable to weakness; 16, to bring good fortune, and, 17, as the device of a secret society."


Dark races, like the Africans and Australians, do not practise tattooing, because the marks would not show conspicuously on their black skins. They therefore resort to the process of raising scars by cutting the skin with flint or a shell and then rubbing in earth, or the juice of certain plants, etc. The result is a permanent scar, and these scars are arranged by the different tribes in different patterns, on divers parts of the body. In Queensland the lines, according to Lumholtz (177),

"always denote a certain order of rank, and here it depends upon age. Boys under a certain age are not decorated; but in time they receive a few cross-stripes upon their chests and stomachs. The number of stripes is gradually increased, and when the subjects have grown up, a half-moon-shaped line is cut around each nipple."

The necessity for such distinctive marks on the body is particularly great among the Australians, because they are subdivided in the most complicated ways and have an elaborate code of sexual permissions and prohibitions. Therefore, as Frazer suggests (38),

"a chief object of these initiation ceremonies was to teach the youths with whom they might or might not have connection, and to put them in possession of a visible language, … by means of which they might be able to communicate their totems to, and to ascertain the totems of, strangers whose language they did not understand."

In Africa, too, as we have seen, the scars are used as tribal names, and for other practical purposes. Holub (7) found that the Koranna of Central South Africa has three cuts on the chest. They confessed to him that they indicated a kind of free-masonry, insuring their being well received by Koranna everywhere. On the Congo, scarifications are made on the back for therapeutic reasons, and on the face as tribal marks. (Mallery, 417; H. Ward, 136.) Bechuana priests make long scars on a warrior's thigh to indicate that he has slain an enemy in battle. (Lichtenstein, II., 331.) According to d'Albertis the people of New Guinea use some scars as a sign that they have travelled (I., 213). And so on, ad infinitum.


In face of this imposing array of facts revealing the non-esthetic character of primitive personal "decorations," what have the advocates of the sexual selection theory to say? Taking Westermarck as their most erudite and persuasive spokesman, we find him placing his reliance on four things: (1) the practical ignoring of the vast multitude of facts contradicting his theory; (2) the alleged testimony of a few savages; (3) the testimony of some of their visitors; (4) the alleged fact that "the desire for self-decoration is strongest at the beginning of the age of puberty," the customs of ornamenting, mutilating, painting, and tattooing being "practised most zealously at that period of life." Concerning (1) nothing more need be said, as the large number of decisive facts I have collected exposes and neutralizes that stratagem. The other three arguments must be briefly considered.

A native of Lukunor being asked by Mertens what was the meaning of tattooing, answered: "It has the same object as your clothes; that is, to please the women," In reply to the question why he wore his ornaments, an Australian answered Bulmer: "In order to look well and make himself agreeable to the women," (Brough Smyth, I., 275.) To one who has studied savages not only anthropologically but psychologically, these stories have an obvious cock-and-bull aspect. A native of the Caroline Islands would have been as incapable of originating that philosophical comparison between the object of our clothes and of his tattooing as he would have been of writing Carlyle's Sartor Resartus. Human beings in his stage of evolution never consciously reflect on the reasons of things, and considerations of comparative psychology or esthetics are as much beyond his mental powers as problems in algebra or trigonometry. That such a sailor's yarn could be accepted seriously in an anthropologic treatise shows that anthropology is still in its cradle. The same is true of that Australian's alleged answer. The Australian is unequal to the mental effort of counting up to ten, and, like other savages, is easily fatigued by the simplest questions[99]. It is quite likely that Bulmer asked that native whether he ornamented himself "in order to look well and make himself agreeable to the women," and that the native answered "yes" merely to gratify him or to get rid of the troublesome question.

The books of missionaries are full of such cases, and no end of confusion has been created in science by such false "facts." The answer given by that native is, moreover, utterly opposed to all the well-attested details I have given in the preceding pages regarding the real motives of Australians in "decorating" themselves; and to those facts I may now add this crushing testimony from Brough Smyth (I., 270):

"The proper arrangement of their apparel, the ornamentation of their persons by painting, and attention to deportment, were important only when death struck down a warrior, when war was made, and when they assembled for a corroboree. In ordinary life little attention was given to the ornamenting of the person."


"The Australians throughout the continent scar their persons, as Mr. Curr assures us, only as a means of decoration," writes Westermarck (169), and in the pages preceding and following he cites other evidence of the same sort, such as Carver's assertion that the Naudowessies paint their faces red and black, "which they esteem as greatly ornamental;" Tuckey's assumption that the natives of the Congo file their teeth and raise scars on the skin for purposes of ornament and principally "with the idea of rendering themselves agreeable to the women;" Kiedel's assertion, that in the Tenimber group the lads decorate their locks with leaves, flowers, and feathers, "only in order to please the women;" Taylor's statement that in New Zealand it was the great ambition of the young to have fine tattooed faces, "both to render themselves attractive to the ladies, and conspicuous in war," etc.

Beginning with Curr, it must be conceded that he is one of the leading authorities on Australia, the author of a four-volume treatise on that country and its natives. Yet his testimony on the point in question happens to be as worthless as that of the most hasty globe-trotter, partly because he had evidently paid little attention to it, and partly also, I fancy, because of the fatal tendency of men of science to blunder as soon as they touch the domain of esthetics. What he really wrote (II., 275) is that Chatfield had informed him that scars were made by the natives on the right thigh "for the purpose of denoting the particular class to which they belong." This Curr doubts, "without further evidence," because it would conflict with the custom prevalent throughout the continent, "as far as known, which is to make these marks for ornament only." Now this is a pure assumption of Curr's, based on a preconceived notion, and contradicted by the specific evidence of a number of explorers who, as even Grosse is obliged to admit (75), "unanimously account for a part at least of the scars as tribal marks."[100]

If so eminent an authority as Curr can err so grievously, it is obvious that the testimony of other writers and casual observers must be accepted with extreme caution. Europeans and Americans are so accustomed to regard personal decorations as attempts to beautify the appearance that when they see them in savages there is a natural disposition to attribute them to the same motive. They do not realize that they are dealing with a most subtle psychological question. The chief source of confusion lies in their failure to distinguish between what is admired as a thing of beauty as such and what pleases them for other reasons. As Professor Sully has pointed out in his Handbook of Psychology (337):

"At the beginning of life there is no clear separation of what is beautiful from what is simply pleasing to the individual. As in the history of the race, so in that of the individual, the sense of beauty slowly extricates itself from pleasurable consciousness in general, and differentiates itself from the sense of what is personally useful and agreeable."

Bearing in mind this very important distinction between what is beautiful and what is merely pleasing because of its being useful and agreeable, we see at once that the words "decorative," "ornamental," "attractive," "handsome," etc., are constantly used by writers on this subject in a misleading and question-begging way. We can hardly blame a man like Barrington for writing (11) that among the natives of Botany Bay "scars are, by both sexes, deemed highly ornamental"; but a scientific author who quotes such a sentence ought to be aware that the evidence did not justify Barrington in using any word but pleasing in place of "ornamental," because the latter implies and takes for granted the esthetic sense, the existence of which is the very thing to be proved. This remark applies generally to the evidence of this kind which Westermarck has so industriously collected, and which, on account of this undiscriminating, question-begging character, is entirely worthless. In all these cases the fact is overlooked that the "decorations" of one sex may be agreeable to the other for reasons that have nothing to do with the sense of beauty.

Briefly summed up, Westermarck's theory is that in painting, tattooing, and otherwise decorating his person, primitive man's original and conscious object was to beautify himself for the sake of gaining an advantage in courtship; whereas my theory is that all these decorations originally subserved useful purposes alone, and that even where they subsequently may have served in some instances as means to please the women, this was not as things of beauty but indirectly and unintentionally through their association with rank, wealth, distinction in war, prowess, and manly qualities in general. When Dobrizhoffer says (II., 12) that the Abipones, "more ambitious to be dreaded by their enemies than to be loved, to terrify than attract beholders, think the more they are scarred and sunburnt, the handsomer they are," he illustrates glaringly the slovenly and question-begging use of terms to which I have just referred; for, as his own reference to being loved and to attracting beholders shows, he does not use the word "handsome" in an esthetic sense, but as a synonyme for what is pleasing or worthy of approval on other grounds. If the scars of these Indians do please the women it is not because they are considered beautiful, but because they are tokens of martial prowess. To a savage woman nothing is so useful as manly valor, and therefore nothing so agreeable as the signs of it. In that respect the average woman's nature has not changed. The German high-school girl admires the scars in the face of a "corps-student," not, certainly, because she considers them beautiful, but because they stand for a daredevil, masculine spirit which pleases her.

When the Rev. R. Taylor wrote (321) that among the New Zealanders "to have fine tattooed faces was the great ambition of the young, both to render themselves attractive to the ladies and conspicuous in war," he would have shown himself a better philosopher if he had written that by making themselves conspicuous in war with their tattooing they also make themselves attractive to the "ladies." That the sense of beauty is not concerned here becomes obvious when we include Robley's testimony (28, 15) that a Maori chief's great object was to excite fear among enemies, for which purpose in the older days he "rendered his countenance as terrible as possible with charcoal and red ochre"; while in more recent times,

"not only to become more terrible in war, when fighting was carried on at close quarters, but to appear more distinguished and attractive to the opposite sex, must certainly be included"

among the objects of tattooing. It is hardly necessary to point out that if we accept the sexual selection theory this expert testimony lands us in insuperable difficulty; for it is clearly impossible that on the same island, and in the same race, the painting and tattooing of the face should have the effect of terrifying the men and of appearing beautiful to the women. But if we discard the beauty theory and follow my suggestion, we have no difficulty whatever. Then we may grant that the facial daubs or skin mutilations may seem terrible or hideous to an enemy and yet please the women, because the women do not regard them as things of beauty, but as distinguishing marks of valiant warriors.

By way of illustrating his maxim that "in every country, in every race, beauty stimulates passion," Westermarck cites (257) part of a sentence by Lumholtz (213) to the effect that Australian women take much notice of a man's face, particularly of the part about the eyes. He does not cite the rest of the sentence—"and they like to see a frank and open, or perhaps, more correctly, a wild expression of countenance," which makes it clear to the reader that what stimulates the passion of these women is not the lines of beauty in the [never-washed] faces of these men, but the unbeautiful aspect peculiar to a wild hunter, ferocious warrior, and intrepid defender of his home. Their admiration, in other words, is not esthetic, but instinctively utilitarian.


We come now to the principal argument of Westermarck—the alleged fact that in all parts of the world the desire for self-decoration is strongest at the beginning of the age of puberty, the customs of ornamenting, painting, mutilating, and tattooing the person being practised most zealously at that period. This argument is as futile as the others, for several reasons. In the first place, it is not true that in all parts of the world self-decoration is practised most zealously at that period. More frequently, perhaps, it is begun some years earlier, before any idea of courtship can have entered the heads of these children. The Congo cannibals begin the process of scarring the face at the age of four.[101] Dyak girls are tattooed at five.[102] The Botocudos begin the mutilating of children's lips at the age of seven.[103] Eskimo girls are tattooed in their eighth year,[104] and on the Andaman Islands few children are allowed to pass their eighth year without scarification.[105] The Damaras chip the teeth with a flint "when the children are young."[106] The female Oraons are "all tattooed in childhood."[107] The Tahitians began tattooing at eight.[108] The Chukchis of Siberia tattoo girls at nine;[109] and so on in various parts of the world. In the second place, of the divers personal "decorations" indulged in by the lower races it is only those that are intended to be of a permanent character (tattooing, scarring, mutilating) that are made chiefly, though by no means exclusively[110] about or before the age of puberty.

All the other methods of "decorating" described in the preceding pages as being connected with the rites of war, superstition, mourning, etc., are practised throughout life; and that they constitute by far the greater proportion of "ornamentations" is evidenced by the citation I have already made, from Brough Smyth, that the ornamentation of their persons was considered important by Australians only in connection with such ceremonies, and that "in ordinary life little attention was given to the ornamenting of the person"; to which much similar testimony might be added regarding other races; such as Kane's (184), regarding the Chinooks: "Painting the face is not much practised among them, except on extraordinary occasions, such as the death of a relative, some solemn feast, or going on a war-party;" or Morgan's (263), that the feather and war dances were "the chief occasions" when the Iroquois warrior "was desirous to appear in his best attire," etc.

Again, even if it were true that "the desire for self-decoration is strongest at the beginning of the age of puberty," it does not by any means follow that this must be due to the desire to make one's self attractive to the opposite sex. Whatever their desire may be, the children have no choice in the matter. As Curr remarks regarding Australians (11., 51),

"The male must commonly submit, without hope of escape, to have one or more of his teeth knocked out, to have the septum of his nose pierced, to have certain painful cuttings made in his skin, …before he is allowed the rights of manhood."

There are, however, plenty of reasons why he should desire to be initiated. What Turner writes regarding the Samoans has a general application:

"Until a young man was tattooed, he was considered in his minority. He could not think of marriage, and he was constantly exposed to taunts and ridicule, as being poor and of low birth, and as having no right to speak in the society of men. But as soon as he was tattooed he passed into his majority, and considered himself entitled to the respect and privileges of mature years. When a youth, therefore, reached the age of sixteen, he and his friends were all anxiety that he should be tattooed."[111]

No one can read the accounts of the initiatory ceremonies of Australian and Indian boys (convenient summaries of which may be found in the sixth volume of Waitz-Gerland and in Southey's Brazil III., 387-88) without becoming convinced that with them, as with the Samoans, etc., there was no thought of women or courtship. Indeed the very idea of such a thing involves an absurdity, for, since all the boys in each tribe were tattooed alike, what advantage could their marks have secured them? If all men were equally rich, would any woman ever marry for money? Westermarck accepts (174) seriously the assertion of one writer that the reason why Australians knock out some of the teeth of the boys at puberty is because they know "that otherwise they would run the risk of being refused on account of ugliness." Now, apart from the childish supposition that Australian women could allow their amorous inclinations to depend on the presence or absence of two front teeth, this assertion involves the assumption that these females can exercise the liberty of choice in the selection of a mate—an assumption which is contrary to the truth, since all the authorities on Australia agree on at least one point, which is that women have absolutely no choice in the selection of a husband, but have to submit in all cases to the dispositions made by their male relatives. These Australian women, moreover, perversely act in a manner utterly inconsistent with the theory of sexual selection. Since they do not choose, but are chosen, one would naturally expect, in accordance with that theory, that they would decorate themselves in order to "stimulate the passion" of the desirable men; but they do no such thing.

While the men are apt to dress their hair carefully, the women "let their black locks grow as irregular and tangled as do the Fuegians" (Grosse, 87); and Buhner says they "did little to improve their appearance;" while such ornaments as they had "were not much regarded by the men." (Brough Smyth, I, 275.)[112]


One of the most important reasons why young savages approaching puberty are eager to receive their "decorations" remains to be considered. Tattooing, scarring, and mutilating are usually very painful processes. Now, as all who are familiar with the life of savages know, there is nothing they admire so much as courage in enduring torture of any kind. By showing fortitude in bearing the pain connected with tattooing, etc., these young folks are thus able to win admiration, gratify their vanity, and show that they are worthy to be received in the ranks of adults. The Sea Dyaks are proud of their scars, writes Brooke Low.

"The women often prove the courage and endurance of the youngsters by placing a lighted ball of tinder in the arm and letting it burn into the skin. The marks … are much valued by the young men as so many proofs of their power of endurance."

(Roth, II., 80.) Here we have an illustration which explains in the most simple way why scars please both the men and the women, without making necessary the grotesque assumption that either sex admires them as things of beauty. To take another case, equally eloquent: Bossu says of the Osage Indians that they suffer the pain of tattooing with pleasure in order to pass for men of courage. If one of them should have himself marked without having previously distinguished himself in battle, he would be degraded and looked upon as a coward, unworthy of such an honor. (Mallery, 1889-90, 394.)

Grosse is inclined to think (78) that it is in the male only that courage is expected and admired, but he is mistaken, as we may see, e.g., in the account given by Dobrizhoffer (II., 21) of the tattooing customs of the Abipones, whom he studied so carefully. The women, he says,

"have their face, breast, and arms covered with black figures of various shapes, so that they present the appearance of a Turkish carpet." "This savage ornament is purchased with blood and many groans."

The thorns used to puncture the skin are poisonous, and after the operation the girl has her eyes, cheeks, and lips so horribly swelled that she "looks like a Stygian fury." If she groans while undergoing the torture, or shows signs of pain in her face, the old woman who operates on her exclaims, in a rage: "You will die single, be assured. Which of our heroes would think so cowardly a girl worthy to be his wife?" Such courage, Dobrizhoffer explains further, is admired in a girl because it makes her "prepared to bear the pains of parturition in time." In some cases vanity supplies an additional motive why the girls should submit to the painful operation with fortitude; for those of them who "are most pricked and painted you may know to be of high rank."

Here again we see clearly that the tattooing is admired for other than esthetic reasons, and we realize how foolish it is to philosophize about the peculiar "taste" of these Indians in admiring a girl who looks like "a Turkish carpet" or "a Stygian fury." If they had even the rudiments of a sense of beauty they would not indulge in such disgusting disfigurements.


Grosse declares (80) that "we know definitely at least, that tattooing is regarded by the Eskimo as an embellishment." He bases this inference on Cranz's assertion that Eskimo mothers tattoo their daughters in early youth "for fear that otherwise they would not get a husband." Had Grosse allowed his imagination to paint a particular instance, he would have seen how grotesque his inference is. A favorite way among the Eskimo of securing a bride is, we are told, to drag her from her tent by the hair. This young woman, moreover, has never washed her face, nor does any man object to her filth. Yet we are asked to believe that an Eskimo could be so enamoured of the beauty of a few simple lines tattooed on a girl's dirty face that he would refuse to marry her unless she had them! Like other champions of the sexual selection theory, Grosse searches in the clouds for a comically impossible motive when the real reason lies right before his eyes. That reason is fashion. The tattoo marks are tribal signs (Bancroft, I., 48) which every girl must submit to have in obedience to inexorable custom, unless she is prepared to be an object of scorn and ridicule all her life.

The tyranny of fashion in prescribing disfigurements and mutilations is not confined to savages. The most amazing illustration of it is to be found in China, where the girls of the upper classes are obliged to this day to submit to the most agonizing process of crippling their feet, which finally, as Professor Flower remarks in his book on Fashion and Deformity, assume "the appearance of the hoof of some animal rather than a human foot." There is a popular delusion that the Chinese approve of such deformed small feet because they consider them beautiful—a delusion which Westermarck shares (200). Since the Chinese consider small feet "the chief charm of women," it might be supposed, he says, that the women would at least have the pleasure of fascinating men by a "beauty" to acquire which they have to undergo such horrible torture;

"but Dr. Strieker assures us that in China a woman is considered immodest if she shows her artificially distorted feet to a man. It is even improper to speak of a woman's foot, and in decent pictures this part is always concealed under the dress."

To explain this apparent anomaly Westermarck assumes that the object of the concealment "is to excite through the unknown!" To such fantastic nonsense does the doctrine of sexual selection lead. In reality there is no reason for supposing that the Chinese consider crippled feet—looking like "the hoof of an animal"—beautiful any more than mutilations of other parts of the body. In all probability the origin of the custom of crippling women's feet must be traced to the jealousy of the men, who devised this procedure as an effective way of preventing their wives from leaving their homes and indulging in amorous intrigues; other practices with the same purpose being common in Oriental countries. In course of time the foot-binding became an inexorable fashion which the foolishly conservative women were more eager to continue than the men. All accounts agree that the anti-foot-binding movement finds its most violent and stubborn opponents in the women themselves. The Missionary Review for July, 1899, contains an article summing up a report of the Tien Tsu Hui, or "Natural Foot Society," which throws a bright light on the whole question and from which I quote as follows:

"The male members of a family may be opposed to the maiming of their female relatives by the senseless custom, but the women will support it. One Chinese even promised his daughter a dollar a day to keep her natural feet, and another, having failed with his older girls, arranged that his youngest should be under his personal supervision night and day. The one natural-footed girl was sought in marriage for the dollars that had been faithfully laid by for her. But at her new home she was so ridiculed by the hundreds who came to see her—and her feet—that she lost her reason. The other girl also became insane as a result of the persecutions which she had to endure."

Thus we see that what keeps up this hideous custom is not the women's desire to arouse the esthetic admiration and amorous passion of the men by a hoof of beauty, but the fear of ridicule and persecution by the other women, slaves of fashion all. These same motives are the source of most of the ugly fashions prevalent even in civilized Europe and America. Théophile Gautier believed that most women had no sense of beauty, but only a sense of fashion; and if explorers and missionaries had borne in mind the fundamental difference between fashion and esthetics, anthropological literature would be the poorer by hundreds of "false facts" and ludicrous inferences.[113]

The ravages of fashion are aggravated by emulation, which has its sources in vanity and envy. This accounts for the extremes to which mutilations and fashions often go among both, civilized and uncivilized races, and of which a startling instance will be described in detail in the next paragraph. Few of our rich women wear their jewels because of their intrinsic beauty. They wear them for the same reason that Polynesian or African belles wear all the beads they can get. In Mariner's book on the Tongans (Chap. XV.) there is an amusing story of a chiefs daughter who was very anxious to go to Europe. Being asked why, she replied that her great desire was to amass a large quantity of beads and then return to Tonga, "because in England beads are so common that no one would admire me for wearing them, and I should not have the pleasure of being envied." Bancroft (I., 128) says of the Kutchin Indians: "Beads are their wealth, used in the place of money, and the rich among them literally load themselves with necklaces and strings of various patterns." Referring to the tin ornaments worn by Dyaks, Carl Bock says he has "counted as many as sixteen rings in a single ear, each of them the size of a dollar"; while of the Ghonds Forsyth tells us (148) that they "deck themselves with an inordinate amount of what they consider ornaments. Quantity rather than quality is aimed at."


Must we then, in view of the vast number of opposing facts advanced so far in this long chapter, assume that savages and barbarians have no esthetic sense at all, not even a germ of it? Not necessarily. I believe that the germ of a sense of visible beauty may exist even among savages as well as the germ of a musical sense; but that it is little more than a childish pleasure in bright and lustrous shells and other objects of various colors, especially red and yellow, everything beyond that being usually found to belong to the region of utility (language of signs, desire to attract attention, etc.) and not to esthetics—that is, the love of beauty for its own sake. Such a germ of esthetic pleasure we find in our infants years before they have the faintest conception of what is meant by personal beauty; and this brings me to the pith of my argument. Had the facts warranted it, I might have freely conceded that savages decorate themselves for the sake of gaining an advantage in courtship without thereby in the least yielding the main thesis of this chapter, which is that the admiration of personal beauty is not one of the motives which induce a savage to marry a particular girl or man; for most of the "decorations" described in the preceding pages are not elements of personal beauty at all, but are either external appendages to that beauty, or mutilations of it. I have shown by a superabundance of facts that these "decorations" do not serve the purpose of exciting the amorous passion and preference of the opposite sex, except non-esthetically and indirectly, in some cases, through their standing as marks of rank, wealth, distinction in war, etc. I shall now proceed to show, much more briefly, that still less does personal beauty proper serve among the lower races as a stimulant of sexual passion. This we should expect naturally, since in the race as in the child the pleasure in bright baubles must long precede the pleasure in beautiful faces or figures. Every one who has been among Indians or other savages knows that nature produces among them fine figures and sometimes even pretty faces; but these are not appreciated. Galton told Darwin that he saw in one South African tribe two slim, slight, and pretty girls, but they were not attractive to the natives. Zöller saw at least one beautiful negress; Wallace describes the superb figures of some of the Brazilian Indians and the Aru Islanders in the Malay Archipelago (354); and Barrow says that some of the Hottentot girls have beautiful figures when young—every joint and limb well turned. But as we shall see presently, the criterion of personal charm among Hottentots, as among savages in general, is fat, not what we call beauty. Ugliness, whether natural or inflicted by fashion, does not among these races act as a bar to marriage. "Beauty is of no estimation in either sex," we read regarding the Creeks in Schoolcraft (V., 272): "It is strength or agility that recommends the young man to his mistress; and to be a skilful or swift hunter is the highest merit with the woman he may choose for a wife." Belden found that the squaws were valued "only for their strength and ability to work, and no account whatever is taken of their personal beauty," etc., etc. Nor can the fact that savages kill deformed children be taken as an indication of a regard for personal beauty. Such children are put out of the way for the simple reason that they may not become a burden to the family or the tribe.

Advocates of the sexual selection theory make much ado over the fact that in all countries the natives prefer their own peculiar color and features—black, red, or yellow, flat noses, high cheek bones, thick lips, etc.—and dislike what we consider beautiful. But the likes of these races regarding personal appearance have no more to do with a sense of beauty than their dislikes. It is merely a question of habit. They like their own faces because they are used to them, and dislike ours because they are strange. In their aversion to our faces they are actuated by the same motive that makes a European child cry out and run away in terror at sight of a negro—not because he is ugly, for he may be good-looking, but because he is strange.

Far from admiring such beauty as nature may have given them, the lower races exercise an almost diabolical ingenuity in obliterating or mutilating it. Hundreds of their visitors have written of certain tribes that they would not be bad looking if they would only leave nature alone. Not a single feature, from the feet to the eyeballs, has escaped the uglifying process. "Nothing is too absurd or hideous to please them," writes Cameron. The Eskimos afford a striking illustration of the fact that a germ of taste for ornamentation in general is an earlier manifestation of the esthetic faculty than the appreciation of personal beauty; for while displaying considerable skill and ingenuity in the decorations of their clothes, canoes, and weapons, they mutilate their persons in various ways and allow them to be foul and malodorous with the filth of years. One of the most disgusting mutilations on record is that practised by the Indians of British Columbia, who insert a piece of bone in the lower lip, which, gradually enlarged, makes it at last project three inches. Bancroft (I., 98) devotes three pages to the lip mutilation indulged in by the Thlinkeet females. When the operation is completed and the block is withdrawn "the lip drops down upon the chin like a piece of leather, displaying the teeth, and presenting altogether a ghastly spectacle." The lower teeth and gum, says one witness, are left quite naked; another says that the plug "distorts every feature in the lower part of the face"; a third that an old woman, the wife of a chief, had a lip "ornament" so large "that by a peculiar motion of her under-lip she could almost conceal her whole face with it"; and a fourth gives a description of this "abominably revolting spectacle," which is too nauseating to quote.


"Abominably revolting," "hideous," "filthy," "disgusting," "atrocious"—such are usually the words of observers in describing these shocking mutilations. Nevertheless they always apply the word "ornamentation" to them, with the implication that the savages look upon them as beautiful, although all that the observers had a right to say was that they pleased the savages and were approved by fashion. What is worse, the philosophers fell into the pitfall thus dug for them. Darwin thinks that the mutilations indulged in by savages show "how different is the standard of taste"; Humboldt (III., 236) reflects on the strange fact that nations "attach the idea of beauty" to whatever configuration nature has given them; and Ploss (I., 48) declares bluntly that there is no such thing as an absolute standard of beauty and that savages have "just as much right" to their ideas on the subject as we have to admire a madonna of Raphael. This view, indeed, is generally held; it is expressed in the old saw, De gustibus non est disputandum. Now it is true that it is unwise to dispute about tastes conversationally; but scientifically speaking, that old saw has not a sound tooth in it.

If a peasant who has never had an opportunity to cultivate his musical sense insisted that a certain piano was exquisitely in tune and had as beautiful a tone as any other piano, whereas an expert musician declared that it had a shrill tone and was terribly out of tune, would anybody be so foolish as to say that the peasant had as much right to his opinion as the musician? Or if an Irish toper declared that a bottle of Chambertin, over which French epicures smacked their lips, was insipid and not half as fine as the fusel-oil on which he daily got drunk, would not everybody agree that the Irishman was no judge of liquors, and that the reason why he preferred his cheap whiskey to the Burgundy was that his nerves of taste were too coarse to detect the subtle and exquisite bouquet of the French wine? In both these examples we are concerned only with simple questions of sense perception; yet in the matter of personal beauty, which involves not only the senses, but the imagination, the intellect, and the subtlest feelings, we are asked to believe that any savage who has never seen a woman but those of his own race has as much right to his opinion as a Ruskin or a Titian, who have given their whole life to the study of beauty!

If an astronomer—to take another illustration—were told that de astronomia non est disputandum, and that the Namaquas, who believe that the moon is made of bacon, or the Brazilian tribes who think that an eclipse consists in an attempt on the part of a monstrous jaguar to swallow the sun—have as much right to their opinion as he has, he would consider the person who advanced such an argument either a wag or a fool. Only a wag or a fool, again, would argue that a Fijian has just as much right as we have to his opinions on medical matters, or on the morality of polygamy, infanticide, and cannibalism. Yet when we come across a dirty, malodorous savage, so stupid that he cannot count ten, who mutilates every part of his body till he has lost nearly all semblance to a human being, we are soberly asked to look upon this as merely a "difference in the standard of esthetic taste," and to admit that the savage has "as much right to his taste," as we have. The more I think of it, the more I am amazed at this unjust and idiotic discrimination against the esthetic faculty—a discrimination for which I can find no other explanation than the fact already referred to, that most men of science know so much less about matters of beauty than about everything else in the world. They labor under the delusion that the sense of beauty is one of the earliest products of mental evolution, whereas their own attitude in the matter affords painful proof that it is one of the latest. They will understand some day that a steatopygous "Hottentot Venus" is no more beautiful because an African finds her attractive, than an ugly, bloated, blear-eyed harlot is beautiful because she pleases a drunken libertine.

What makes the traditional attitude of scientific men in this matter the less pardonable is that—as we have seen—there is always a simple, practical explanation for the predilections of these savages, so that there is no necessity whatever for assuming the existence of so paradoxical and impossible a thing as an esthetic admiration of these hideous deformities. Thus, in regard to the nauseating lip "ornaments" of the Thlinkeets just referred to, the testimony collected by Bancroft indicates unmistakably that they are approved of, perpetuated, and aggravated for two reasons—both non-esthetic—namely, as indications of rank, and from the necessity of conforming to fashion. Ladies of distinction, we read, increase the size of their lip plug. Langsdorff even saw women "of very high rank" with this "ornament" full five inches long and three broad; Dixon says the mutilation is always in proportion to the person's wealth; and Mayne relates, in his book on the British Columbia Indians, that "a woman's rank among women is settled according to the size of her wooden lip."


That savages can have no sense of personal beauty is further proved by their habitual indifference to personal cleanliness, the most elementary and imperative of esthetic requirements. When we read in McLean (II., 153) that some Eskimo girls "might pass as pretty if divested of their filth;" or in Cranz (I., 134) that "it is almost sickening to view their hands and faces smeared with grease … and their filthy clothes swarming with vermin;" and when we further read in Kotzebue (II., 56) regarding the Kalush that his "filthy countrywomen with their lip-trough … often awaken in him the most vehement passion," we realize vividly that that passion is a coarse appetite which exists quite apart from, and independently of, anything that might be considered beautiful or ugly.

The subject is not a pleasant one; but as it is one of my strongest arguments, I must be pardoned for giving some more unsavory details. Among some of the British Columbia Indians "pretty women may be seen; nearly all have good eyes and hair, but the state of filth in which they live generally neutralizes any natural charms they may possess." (Mayne, 277.) Lewis and Clarke write (439) regarding the Chinook Indians:

"Their broad, flat foreheads, their falling breasts, their ill-shaped limbs, the awkwardness of their positions, and the filth which intrudes through their finery—all these render a Chinook or Clatsop beauty in full attire one of the most disgusting objects in nature."

Muir says of the Mono Indians of the California Mountains (93): "The dirt on their faces was fairly stratified, and seemed so ancient and so undisturbed it might also possess a geological significance." Navajo girls "usually evince a catlike aversion to water." (Schoolcraft, IV., 214.) Cozzens relates (128) how, among the Apaches, "the sight of a man washing his face and hands almost convulsed them with laughter." He adds that their personal appearance explained their surprise. Burton (80) found among the Sioux a dislike to cleanliness "which nothing but the fear of the rod will subdue." "In an Indian village," writes Neill (79), "all is filth and litter…. Water, except in very warm weather, seldom touches their bodies."

The Comanches are "disgustingly filthy in their persons." (Schoolcraft, I., 235.) The South American Waraus "are exceedingly dirty and disgusting in their habits, and their children are so much neglected that their fingers and toes are frequently destroyed by vermin." (Bernau, 35.) The Patagonians "are excessively filthy in their personal habits." (Bourne, 56.) The Mundrukus "are very dirty" (Markham, 172), etc.

Of the Damara negroes, Anderson says (N., 50): "Dirt often accumulates to such a degree on their persons as to make the color of their skins totally undistinguishable;" and Galton (92) "could find no pleasure in associating or trying to chat with these Damaras, they were so filthy and disgusting in every way." Thunberg writes of the Hottentots (73) that they "find a peculiar pleasure in filth and stench;" wherein they resemble Africans in general. Griffith declares that the hill tribes of India are "the dirtier the farther we advance;" elsewhere[114] we read:

"Both males and females, as a class, are very dirty and filthy in both person and habits. They appear to have an antipathy to bathing, and to make matters worse, they have a habit of anointing their bodies with ghee (melted butter);"

and of another of these tribes:

"The Karens are a dirty people. They never use soap, and their skins are enamelled with dirt. When water is thrown on them, it rolls off their backs like globules of quicksilver on a marble slab. To them bathing has a cooling, but no cleansing effect."

The Mishinis are "disgustingly dirty." By the Kirgliez "uncleanliness is elevated into a virtue hallowed by tradition." The Kalmucks are described as filthy, the Kamtschadales as exceedingly so, etc.


Among the inhabitants of the islands of the Pacific we meet with apparent exceptions. These natives are practically amphibious, spending half their time in the ocean, and are therefore of necessity clean. So are certain coast negroes and Indian tribes living along river-banks. But Ellis (Pol. Res., I., 110) was shrewd enough to see that the habit of frequent bathing indulged in by the South Sea Islanders was a luxury—a result of the hot climate—and not an indication of the virtue of cleanliness. In this respect Captain Cook showed less acumen, for he remarks (II., 148) that "nothing appears to give them greater pleasure than personal cleanliness, to produce which they frequently bathe in ponds." His confusion of ideas is made apparent in the very next sentence, where he adds that the water in most of these ponds "stinks intolerably." That it is merely the desire for comfort and sport that induces the Polynesians to bathe so much is proved further by the attitude of the New Zealanders. Hawksworth declares (III., 451) that they "stink like Hottentots;" and the reason lies in the colder climate which makes bathing less of a luxury to them. The Micronesians also spend much of their time in the water, for comfort, not for cleanliness. Gerland cites grewsome details of their nastiness. (Waitz, V., Pt. II., 81, 188.) The Kaffirs, says Gardiner (101), "although far from cleanly," are fond of bathing. In some other cases the water is sought for its warmth instead of its coolness. In Brazil the morning air is much colder than the water, wherefore the natives take to the river for comfort, as the Japanese do in winter to their hot tubs. All Indians, says Bancroft (I., 83), "attach great importance to their sweatbaths," not for cleanliness—for they are "extremely filthy in their persons and habits"—but "as a remedial measure."

Unless they happen to indulge in bathing for comfort, the lowest of savages are also the dirtiest. Leigh writes (147) that in South Australia many of the women, including the wives of chiefs, had "sore eyes from the smoke, the filth, and their abominable want of cleanliness." Sturt (II., 53) refers to the Australian women as "disgusting objects." At funerals, "the women besmear themselves with the most disgusting filth." The naked boys in Taplin's school "had no notion of cleanliness." The youths from the age of ten to sixteen or seventeen were compelled by custom to let their hair grow, the result being "a revolting mass of tangled locks and filth." (Woods, 20, 85.) Sturt sums up his impressions by declaring (II., 126): "Really, the loathsome condition and hideous countenances of the women would, I should imagine, have been a complete antidote to the sexual passion."


An instructive instance of the loose reasoning which prevails in the esthetic sphere is provided by the Rev. H.N. Hutchinson, in his Marriage Customs in Many Lands. After describing some of the customs of the Australians, he goes on to say:

"One would think that such degraded creatures as these men are would be quite incapable of appreciating female beauty, but that is not the case. Good-looking girls are much admired and consequently frequently stolen away."

As a matter of fact, beauty has nothing to do with the stealing of the women. The real motive is revealed in the following passage from Brough Smyth (79):

"A very fat woman presents such an attractive appearance to the eyes of the blacks that she is always liable to be stolen. However old and ugly she way be, she will be courted and petted and sought for by the warriors, who seldom hesitate to risk their lives if there is a chance for obtaining so great a prize."

An Australian Shakspere obviously would have written "Fat provoketh thieves sooner than gold," instead of "beauty provoketh thieves." And the amended maxim applies to savages in general, as well as to barbarians and Orientals. In his Savage Life in Polynesia, the Rev. W.W. Gill remarks:

"The great requisites for a Polynesian beauty are to be fat and as fair as their dusky skins will permit. To insure this, favorite children, whether boys or girls, were regularly fattened and imprisoned till nightfall when a little gentle exercise was permitted. If refractory, the guardian would whip the culprit for not eating more."[115]

American Indians do not differ in this respect from Australians and Polynesians. The horrible obesity of the squaws on the Pacific Coast used to inspire me with disgust, as a boy, and I could not understand how anyone could marry such fat abominations. Concerning the South American tribes, Humboldt says (Trav., I., 301): "In several languages of these countries, to express the beauty of a woman, they say that she is fat, and has a narrow forehead."


The population of Africa comprises hundreds of different peoples and tribes, the vast majority of whom make bulk and weight the chief criterion of a woman's charms. The hideous deformity known as steatopyga, or hypertrophy of the buttocks, occurs among South African Bushman, Koranna, and Hottentot women. Darwin says that Sir Andrew Smith

"once saw a woman who was considered a beauty, and she was so immensely developed behind that when seated on level ground she could not rise, and had to push herself along until she came to a slope. Some of the women in various negro tribes have the same peculiarity; and according to Burton, the Somal men, 'are said to choose their wives by ranging them in a line and by picking her out who projects farthest a tergo. Nothing can be more hateful to a negro than the opposite form.'"[116]

The notions of the Yoruba negroes regarding female perfection consist, according to Lander, in "the bulk, plumpness, and rotundity of the object."

Among the Karagué, women were exempted from hard labor because the men were anxious to have them as fat as possible. To please the men, they ate enormous quantities of bananas and drank milk by the gallon. Three of Rumanika's wives were so fat that they could not go through an ordinary door, and when they walked they needed two men each to support them.

Speke measured one of the much-admired African wonders of obesity, who was unable to stand except on all fours. Result: around the arms, 1 foot 11 inches; chest, 4 feet 4 inches; thigh, 2 feet 7 inches; calf, 1 foot 8 inches; height, 5 feet 8 inches.

"Meanwhile, the daughter, a lass of sixteen, sat stark-naked before us, sucking at a milk-pot, on which her father kept her at work by holding a rod in his hand; for as fattening is the first duty of fashionable female life, it must be duly enforced by the rod if necessary. I got up a bit of flirtation with missy, and induced her to rise and shake hands with me. Her features were lovely, but her body was round as a ball."

Speke also tells (370) of a girl who, a mere child when the king died, was such a favorite of his, that he left her twenty cows, in order that she might fatten upon milk after her native fashion.


Mungo Park declared that the Moorish women

"seem to be brought up for no other purpose than that of ministering to the sensual pleasures of their imperious masters. Voluptuousness is therefore considered as their chief accomplishment…. The Moors have singular ideas of feminine perfection. The gracefulness of figure and motion, and a countenance enlivened by expression, are by no means essential points in their standard: With them corpulence and beauty seem to be terms nearly synonymous: A woman of even moderate pretensions must be one who cannot walk without a slave under each arm, to support her; and a perfect beauty is a load for a camel…. Many of the young girls are compelled, by their mothers, to devour a great quantity of kouskous, and drink a large bowl of camel's milk every morning…. I have seen a poor girl sit crying, with the bowl at her lips, for more than an hour; and her mother, with a stick in her hand watching her all the while, and using the stick without mercy, whenever she observed that her daughter was not swallowing."

A Somali love-song says: "You are beautiful and your limbs are fat; but if you would drink camel's milk you would be still more beautiful." Nubian girls are especially fattened for their marriage by rubbing grease over them and stuffing them with polenta and goat milk. When the process is completed they are poetically likened to a hippopotamus. In Egypt and India, where the climate naturally tends to make women thin, the fat ones are, as in Australia, the ideals of beauty, as their poets would make plain to us if it were not known otherwise. A Sanscrit poet declares proudly that his beloved is so borne down by the weight of her thighs and breasts that she cannot walk fast; and in the songs of Halâ there are numerous "sentiments" like that. The Arabian poet Amru declares rapturously that his favorite beauty has thighs so delightfully exuberant that she can scarcely enter the tent door. Another Arabian poet apostrophizes "the maid of Okaib, who has haunches like sand-hills, whence her body rises like a palm-tree." And regarding the references to personal appearance in the writings of the ancient Hebrews, Rossbach remarks:

"In all these descriptions human beauty is recognized in the luxurious fulness of parts, not in their harmony and proportion. Spiritual expression in the sensual form is not adverted to" (238).

Thus, from the Australian and the Indian to the Hebrew, the Arab, and the Hindoo, what pleases the men in women is not their beauty, but their voluptuous rotundity; they care only for those sensual aspects which emphasize the difference between the sexes. The object of the modern wasp waist (in the minds of the class of females who, strange to say, are allowed by respectable women to set the fashion for them) is to grossly exaggerate the bust and the hips, and it is for the same reason that barbarian and Oriental girls are fattened for the marriage market. The appeal is to the appetite, not to the esthetic sense.


In writing this I do not ignore the fact that many authors have held that personal beauty and sensuality are practically identical or indissolubly associated. The sober philosopher, Bain, gravely advances the opinion that, on the whole, personal beauty turns, 1, upon qualities and appearances that heighten the expression of favor or good-will; and, 2, upon qualities and appearances that suggest the endearing embrace. Eckstein expresses the same idea more coarsely by saying that "finding a thing beautiful is simply another way of expressing the manifestation of the sexual appetite." But it remained for Mantegazza to give this view the most cynical expression:

"We look at woman through the prism of desire, and she looks at us in the same way; her beauty appears to us the more perfect the more it arouses our sexual desires—that is, the more voluptuous enjoyment the possession of her promises us."

He adds that for this reason a man of twenty finds nearly all women beautiful.

Thus the beauty of a woman, in the opinion of these writers, consists in those physical qualities which arouse a man's concupiscence. I admit that this theory applies to savages and to Orientals; the details given in the preceding pages prove that. It applies also, I must confess, to the majority of Europeans and Americans. I have paid special attention to this point in various countries and have noticed that a girl with a voluptuous though coarse figure and a plain face will attract much more masculine attention than a girl whose figure and face are artistically beautiful without being voluptuous. But this only helps to prove my main thesis—that the sense of personal beauty is one of the latest products of civilization, rare even at the present day. What I deny most emphatically is that the theory advocated by Bain, Eckstein, and Mantegazza applies to those persons who are so lucky as to have a sense of beauty. These fortunate individuals can admire the charms of a living beauty without any more concupiscence or thought of an endearing embrace than accompanies their contemplation of the Venus de Milo or a Madonna painted by Murillo; and if they are in love with a particular girl their admiration of her beauty is superlatively free from carnal ingredients, as we saw in the section on Mental Purity. Since in such a question personal evidence is of importance, I will add that, fortunately, I have been deeply in love several times in my life and can therefore testify that each time my admiration of the girl's beauty was as purely esthetic as if she had been a flower. In each case the mischief was begun by a pair of brown eyes.

Eyes, it is true, can be as wanton and as voluptuous as a plump figure. Powers notes (20) that some California Indian girls are pretty and have "large, voluptuous eyes." Such eyes are common among the lower races and Orientals; but they are not the eyes which inspire romantic love. Lips, too, it might be said, invite kisses; but a lover would consider it sacrilege to touch his idol's lips unchastely. Savages are strangers to kissing for the exactly opposite reason—that it is too refined a detail of sensuality to appeal to their coarse nerves. How far they are from being able to appreciate lips esthetically appears from the way in which they so often deform them. The mouth is peculiarly the index of mental and moral refinement, and a refined pair of lips can inspire as pure a love as the celestial beauty of innocent eyes. As for the other features, what is there to suggest lascivious thoughts in a clear complexion, an oval chin, ivory teeth, rosy cheeks, or in curved eyebrows, long, dark lashes, or flowing tresses? Our admiration of these, and of a graceful gait, is as pure and esthetic—as purely esthetic—as our admiration of a sunset, a flower, a humming-bird, a lovely child. It has been truly said that a girl's marriage chances have been made or marred by the size or shape of her nose. What has the size or shape of a girl's nose to do with the "endearing embrace?" This question alone reduces the concupiscence theory ad absurdum.


Almost as repulsive as the view which identifies the sense of personal beauty with concupiscence is that which would reduce it to a matter of coarse utility. Thus Eckstein, misled by Schopenhauer, holds that healthy teeth are beautiful for the reason that they guarantee the proper mastication of the food; while small breasts are ugly because they do not promise sufficient nourishment to the child that is to be born.

This argument is refuted by the simple statement that our teeth, if they looked like rusty nails, might be even more useful than now, but could no longer be beautiful. As for women's breasts, if utility were the criterion, the most beautiful would be those of the African mothers who can throw them over their shoulders to suckle the infants on their backs without impeding their work. As a matter of fact, the loveliest breast is the virginal, which serves no use while it remains so. A dray horse is infinitely more useful to us than an Arab racer, but is he as beautiful? Tigers and snakes are anything but useful to the human race, but we consider their skins beautiful.


No, the sense of personal beauty is neither a synonyme for libidinous desires nor is it based on utilitarian considerations. It is practically a new sense, born of mental refinement and imagination. It by no means scorns a slight touch of the voluptuous, so far as it does not exceed the limits of artistic taste and moral refinement—a well-rounded figure and "a face voluptuous, yet pure"—but it is an entirely different thing from the predilection for fat and other coarse exaggerations of sexuality which inspire lust instead of love. This new sense is still, as I have said, rare everywhere; and, like the other results of high and recent culture, it is easily obliterated. In his treatise on insanity Professor Krafft-Ebing shows that in degeneration of the brain the esthetic and moral qualities are among the first to disappear. It is the same with normal man when he descends into a lower sphere. Zoller relates (III., 68) that when Europeans arrive in Africa they find the women so ugly they can hardly look at them without a feeling of repulsion. Gradually they become habituated to their sight, and finally they are glad to accept them as companions. Stanley has an eloquent passage on the same topic (II. I. F.L., 265):

"The eye that at first despised the unclassic face of the black woman of Africa soon loses its regard for fine lines and mellow pale color; it finds itself ere long lingering wantonly over the inharmonious and heavy curves of a negroid form, and looking lovingly on the broad, unintellectual face, and into jet eyes that never flash with the dazzling love-light that makes poor humanity beautiful."

The word I have italicized explains it all. The sense of personal beauty is displaced again by the concupiscence which had held its place in the early history of mankind.


To realize fully what such a relapse may mean, read what Galton says (123) of the Hottentots. They have

"that peculiar set of features which is so characteristic of bad characters in England, and so general among prisoners that it is usually, I believe, known by the name of the 'felon-face;' I mean that they have prominent cheek-bones, bullet-shaped head, cowering but restless eyes, and heavy sensual lips, and added to this a shackling dress and manner."

Of the Damaras Galton says (99) that "their features are often beautifully chiselled, though the expression in them is always coarse and disagreeable." And to quote Mungo Park on the Moors once more (158):

"I fancied that I discovered in the features of most of them a disposition toward cruelty and low cunning…. From the staring wildness of their eyes, a stranger would immediately set them down as a nation of lunatics. The treachery and malevolence of their character are manifested in their plundering excursions against the negro villages."


Galton's reference to the Damaras illustrates the well-known fact that, even where nature makes an effort at chiselling beautiful features the result is a failure if there is no moral and intellectual culture to inspire them, and this puts the grave-stone on the Concupiscence Theory—for what have moral and intellectual culture to do with carnal desires? A noble soul even possesses the magic power of transforming a plain face into a radiant vision of beauty, the emotion changing not only the expression but the lines of the face. Goethe (Eckermann, 1824) and others have indeed maintained that intellect in a woman does not help a man to fall in love with her. This is true in so far as brains in a woman will not make a man fall in love with her if she is otherwise unattractive or unfeminine. But Goethe forgot that there is such a thing as hereditary intellectual culture incarnated in the face. This, I maintain, makes up more than half of the personal beauty which makes a man fall in love. A girl with good features is twice as beautiful if she is morally pure and has a bright mind. Sometimes a face is accidentally moulded, into such a regular beauty of form that it seems to mirror mental beauty too. A man may fall in love with such a face, but as soon as he finds out that it is inhabited by a stupid or coarse mind he will make haste to fall out again, unless his love was predominantly sensual. I remember once falling in love with a country girl at first sight; her face and figure seemed to me extremely beautiful, except that hard work had enlarged and hardened her hands. But when I found that her intellect was as coarse as her hands, my ardor cooled at once.

If intellect, as revealed in the face, in words, and in actions, did not assist in inspiring the amorous sentiment, it would be as easy to fall in love with a doll-faced, silly girl as with a woman of culture; it would even be possible to fall in love with a statue or with a demented person. Let us imagine a belle who is thrown from a horse and has become insane from the shock. For a time her features will remain as regular, her figure as plump, as before; but the mind will be gone, and with it everything that could make a man fall in love with her. Who has ever heard of a beautiful idiot, of anyone falling in love with an imbecile? The vacant stare, the absence of intellect, make beauty and love alike impossible in such a case.


The important corollary follows, from all this, that in countries where women receive no education sensual love is the only kind men can feel toward them. Oriental women are of that kind, and so were the ancient Greeks. The Greeks are indeed renowned for their statuary, yet their attitude toward personal beauty was of a very peculiar kind. Their highest ideal was not the feminine but the masculine type, and accordingly we find that it was toward men only that they professed to feel a noble passion. The beauty of the women was regarded merely from a sensual point of view. Their respectable women were deliberately left without education, wherefore their charms can have been at best of a bodily kind and capable of inspiring love of body only. There is a prevalent superstition that the Greeks of the day of Perikles had a class of intelligent women known as hetairai, who were capable of being true companions and inspirers of men; but I shall show, in a later chapter, that the mentality of these women has been ludicrously exaggerated; they were coarse and obscene in their wit and conversation, and their morals were such that no man could have respected them, much less loved them with a pure affection; while the men whom they are supposed to have inspired were in most cases voluptuaries of the most dissolute sort.


Our attempt to answer the question "What is romantic love," has taken up no fewer than two hundred and thirty-five pages, and even this answer is a mere preliminary sketch, the details of which will be supplied in the following chapters, chiefly, it is true, in a negative way, by showing what is not romantic love; for the subject of this book is Primitive Love.


Can love be defined in one sentence? The Century Dictionary's definition, which is as good as any, is: "Intimate personal affection between individuals of opposite sex capable of intermarriage; the emotional incentive to and normal basis of conjugal union." This is correct enough as far as it goes; but how little it tells us of the nature of love! I have tried repeatedly to condense the essential traits of romantic love into one brief definition, but have not succeeded. Perhaps the following will serve as an approximation. Love is an intense longing for the reciprocal affection and jealously exclusive possession of a particular individual of the opposite sex; a chaste, proud, ecstatic adoration of one who appears a paragon of personal beauty and otherwise immeasurably superior to all other persons; an emotional state constantly hovering between doubt and hope, aggravated in the female heart by the fear of revealing her feelings too soon; a self-forgetful impulse to share the tastes and feelings of the beloved, and to go so far in affectionate and gallant devotion as to eagerly sacrifice, for the other's good, all comfort and life itself if necessary.

These are the essential traits. But romantic love is altogether too complex and variable to be defined in one sentence; and it is this complexity and variability that I wish to emphasize particularly. Eckermann once suggested to Goethe that no two cases of love are quite alike, and the poet agreed with him. They did not, however, explain their seeming paradox, so diametrically opposed to the current notion that love is everywhere and always the same, in individuals as in nations; nor could they have explained it unless they had analyzed love into its component elements as I have done in this volume. With the aid of this analysis it is easy to show how and why love has changed and grown, like other sentiments; to explain how and why the love of a civilized white man must differ from that of an Australian or African savage, just as their faces differ. Since no two races look alike, and no two individuals in the same race, why should their loves be alike? Is not love the heart of the soul and the face merely its mirror? Love is varied through a thousand climatic, racial, family, and cultural peculiarities. It is varied through individual tastes and proclivities. In one case of love admiration of personal beauty may be the strongest ingredient, in another jealous monopoly, in a third self-sacrificing affection, and so on. The permutations and combinations are countless, and hence it is that love-stories are always fresh, since they can be endlessly varied. A lover's varied feelings in relation to the beloved become gradually blended into a sentiment which is a composite photograph of all the emotions she has ever aroused in him. This has given rise to the delusion that love is a simple feeling.[117]


In the introductory chapter of this book I alluded briefly to my reasons for calling pure prematrimonial infatuation romantic love, giving some historic precedents for such a use of the word. We are now in a position to appreciate the peculiar appropriateness of the term. What is the dictionary definition of "romantic"?

"Pertaining to or resembling romance, or an ideal state of things; partaking of the heroic, the marvellous, the supernatural, or the imaginative; chimerical, fanciful, extravagantly enthusiastic."

Every one of these terms applies to love in the sense in which I use the word. Love is ideal, heroic, marvellous, imaginative, chimerical, fanciful, extravagantly enthusiastic; its hyperbolic adoration even gives it a supernatural tinge, for the adored girl seems more like an angel or a fairy than a common mortal. The lover's heroine is as fictitious as any heroine of romance; he considers her the most beautiful and lovable person in the world, though to others she may seem ugly and ill-tempered. Thus love is called romantic, because it is so great a romancer, attributing to the beloved all sorts of perfections which exist only in the lover's fancy. What could be more fantastic than a lover's stubborn preference for a particular individual and his conviction that no one ever loved so frantically as he does? What more extravagant and unreasonable than his imperious desire to completely monopolize her affection, sometimes guarding her jealously even from her girl friends or her nearest relatives? What more romantic than the tortures and tragedies, the mixed emotions, that doubt or jealousy gives rise to? Does not a willing but coyly reserved maiden romance about her feelings? What could be more fanciful and romantic than her shy reserve and coldness when she is longing to throw herself into the lover's arms? Is not her proud belief that her lover—probably as commonplace and foolish a fellow as ever lived—is a hero or a genius a romantic exaggeration? Is not the lover's purity of imagination, though real as a feeling, a romantic illusion, since he craves ultimate possession of her and would be the unhappiest of mortals if she went to a nunnery, though she promised to love him always? What could be more marvellous, more chimerical, than this temporary suppression of a strong appetite at the time when it would be supposed to manifest itself most irresistibly—this distilling of the finer emotions, leaving all the gross, material elements behind? Can you imagine anything more absurdly romantic than the gallant attentions of a man on his knees before a girl whom, with his stronger muscles, he could command as a slave? Who but a romantic lover would obliterate his selfish ego in sympathetic devotion to another, trying to feel her feelings, forgetting his own? Who but a romantic lover would sacrifice his life in the effort to save or please another? A mother would indeed do the same for her child; but the child is of her own flesh and blood, whereas the beloved may have been a stranger until an hour ago. How romantic!

The appropriateness of the word romantic is still further emphasized by the consideration that, just as romantic art, romantic literature, and romantic music are a revolt against artificial rules and barriers to the free expression of feeling, so romantic love is a revolt against the obstacles to free matrimonial choice imposed by parental and social tyranny.

Indeed, I can see only one objection to the use of the word—its frequent application to any strange or exciting incidents, whence some confusion may ensue. But the trouble is obviated by simply bearing in mind the distinction between romantic incidents and romantic feelings which I have summed up in the maxim that a romantic love-story is not necessarily a story of romantic love. Nearly all the tales brought together in this volume are romantic love-stories, but not one of them is a story of romantic love. In the end the antithesis will aid us in remembering the distinction.

In place of "romantic" I might have used the word "sentimental"; but in the first place that word fails to indicate the essentially romantic nature of love, on which I have just dwelt; and secondly, it also is liable to be misunderstood, because of its unfortunate association with the word sentimentality, which is a very different thing from sentiment. The differences between sentiment, sentimentality, and sensuality are indeed important enough to merit a brief chapter of elucidation.


From beginnings not yet understood—though Haeckel and others have speculated plausibly on the subject—there has been developed in animals and human beings an appetite which insures the perpetuation of the species as the appetite for food does that of the individual. Both these appetites pass through various degrees of development, from the utmost grossness to a high degree of refinement, from which, however, relapses occur in many individuals. We read of Indians tearing out the liver from living animals and devouring it raw and bloody; of Eskimos eating the contents of a reindeer's stomach as a vegetable dish; and the books of explorers describe many scenes like the following from Baker's Ismailia (275) relating to the antics of negroes after killing a buffalo:

"There was now an extraordinary scene over the carcass; four hundred men scrambling over a mass of blood and entrails, fighting and tearing with each other and cutting off pieces of flesh with their lance-heads, with which they escaped as dogs may retreat with a bone."


What aeons of culture lie between such a scene and a dinner party in Europe or America, with its refined, well-behaved guests, its table etiquette, its varied menu, its choice viands, skilfully cooked and blended so as to bring out the most diverse and delicate flavors, its esthetic features—fine linen and porcelains, silver and cut glass, flowers, lights—its bright conversation, and flow of wit. Yet there are writers who would have us believe that these Indians, Eskimos, and Africans, who manifest their appetite for food in so disgustingly coarse a way, are in their love-affairs as sentimental and aesthetic as we are! In truth they are as gross, gluttonous, and selfish in the gratification of one appetite as in that of the other. To a savage a woman is not an object of chaste adoration and gallant devotion, but a mere bait for wanton lust; and when his lust hath dined he kicks her away like a mangy dog till he is hungry again. In Ploss-Bartels[118] may be found an abundance of facts culled from various sources in all parts of the world, showing that the bestiality of many savages is not even restrained by the presence of spectators. At the phallic and bacchanalian festivals of ancient and Oriental nations all distinctions of rank and all family ties were forgotten in a carnival of lust. Licentious orgies are indeed carried on to this day in our own large cities; but their participants are the criminal classes, and occasionally some foolish young men who would be very much ashamed to have their doings known; whereas the orgies and phallic festivals of savages and barbarians are national or tribal institutions, approved by custom, sanctioned by religion, and indulged in openly by every man and woman in the community; often regardless even of incest.

More shockingly still are the grossness and diabolical selfishness of the savage's carnal appetite revealed by his habit of sacrificing young girls to it years before they have reached the age of puberty. Some details will be found in the chapters on Australia, Africa, and India. Here it may be noted—to indicate the wide prevalence of a custom which it would be unjust to animals to call bestial, because beasts never sink so low—that Borneans, as Schwaner notes, marry off girls from three to five; that in Egypt child-wives of seven or eight can be seen; that Javanese girls may be married at seven; that North American Indians often took brides of ten or eleven, while in Southern Australia girls were appropriated as early as seven. Hottentot girls were not spared after the age of seven, nor were Bushman girls, though they did not become mothers till ten or twelve years old; while Kaffir girls married at eight, Somals at six to eight. The cause of these early marriages is not climatic, as some fancy, but simply, as Roberton has pointed out, the coarseness of the men. The list might be extended indefinitely. In Old Calabar sometimes, we read in Ploss,

"a man who has already several wives may be seen with an infant of two or three weeks on his lap, caressing and kissing it as his wife. Wives of four to six years we found occasionally (in China, Guzuate, Ceylon, and Brazil); from seven to nine years on they are no longer rare, and the years from ten to twelve are a widely prevalent marriage age."

The amorous savage betrays his inferiority to animals not only in his cruel maltreatment of girls before they have reached the age of puberty,[119] but in his ignorance, in most cases, of the simplest caresses and kisses for which we often find corresponding acts in birds and other animals. The nerves of primitive men are too coarse for such a delicate sensation as labial contact, and an embrace would leave them cold. An African approximation to a kiss is described by Baker (Ismailia, 472). He had liberated a number of female slaves, and presently, he says, "I found myself in the arms of a naked beauty, who kissed me almost to suffocation, and, with a most unpleasant embrace, licked both my eyes with her tongue." If we may venture an inference from Mr. A.H. Savage Landor's experience[120] among the aboriginal Ainos of Yezo (Japan), one of the lowest of human races, we may conclude that, in the course of evolution, biting preceded kissing. He had made the acquaintance of an Ainu maiden, the most lovely Ainu girl he had ever come across. They strolled together into the woods, and he sketched her picture. She clutched his hand tightly, and pressed it to her chest:

"I would not have mentioned this small episode if her ways of flirting had not been so extraordinary and funny. Loving and biting went together with her…. As we sat on a stone in the semi-darkness she began by gently biting my fingers without hurting me, as affectionate dogs often do their masters; she then bit my arm, then my shoulder, and when she had worked herself up into a passion she put her arms round my neck and bit my cheeks. It was undoubtedly a curious way of making love, and when I had been bitten all over, and was pretty tired of the new sensation, we retired to our respective homes."

Sensuality has had its own evolution quite apart and distinct from that of love. The ancient Greeks and Romans, and the Orientals, especially the Hindoos, were familiar, thousands of years ago, with refinements and variations of lust beyond which the human imagination cannot go. According to Burton,

"Kornemannus in his book de linea amoris, makes five degrees of lust, out of Lucian belike, which he handles in five chapters, Visus, Colloquium, Convictus, Oscula, Tactus—sight, conference, association, kisses, touch."

All these degrees are abundantly illustrated in Burton, often in a way that would not bear quotation in a modern book intended for general reading.

It is interesting to observe, furthermore, that among the higher barbarians and civilized races, lust has become to a certain extent mentalized through hereditary memory and association. Aristotle made a marvellous anticipation of modern scientific thought when he suggested that what made birds sing in spring was the memory of former seasons of love. In men as in animals, the pleasant experiences of love and marriage become gradually ingrained in the brain, and when a youth reaches the age for love-making the memory of ancestral amorous experiences courses through his nerves vaguely but strongly. He longs for something, he knows not what, and this mental longing is one of the earliest and strongest symptoms of love. But it characterizes all sorts of love; it may accompany pure fancies of the sentimental lover, but it may also be a result of the lascivious imaginings and anticipations of sensualism. It does not, therefore, in itself prove the presence of romantic love; a point on which I must place great emphasis, because certain primitive poems expressing a longing for an absent girl or man have been quoted as positive evidence of romantic love, when as a matter of fact there is nothing to prove that they may not have been inspired by mere sensual desires. I shall cite and comment on these poems in later chapters.

Loss of sleep, loss of appetite, leanness, hollow eyes, groans, griefs, sadness, sighing, sobbing, alternating blushes and pallor, feverish or unequal pulse, suicidal impulses, are other symptoms occurring among such advanced nations as the Greeks and Hindoos and often accepted as evidence of true love; but since, like longing, they also accompany lust and other strong passions or violent emotions, they cannot be accepted as reliable symptoms of romantic love. The only certain criteria of love are to be found in the manifestation of the altruistic factors—sympathy, gallantry, and self-sacrificing affection. Romantic love is, as I have remarked before, not merely an emotional phenomenon, but an active impulse. The true lover does not, like the sensualist and the sentimentalist, ululate his time away in dismal wailing about his bodily aches and tremors, woes and pallors, but lets his feelings expend themselves in multitudinous acts revealing his eagerness to immolate his personal pleasures on the altar of his idol.

It must not be supposed that sensual love is necessarily coarse and obscene. An antique love-scene may in itself be proper and exquisitely poetic without rising to the sphere of romantic love; as when Theocritus declares: "I ask not for the land of Pelops nor for talents of gold. But under this rock will I sing, holding you in my arms, looking at the flocks feeding together toward the Sicilian Sea." A pretty picture; but what evidence is there in it of affection? It is pleasant for a man to hold a girl in his arms while gazing at the Sicilian Sea, even though he does not love her any more than a thousand other girls.

Even in Oriental literature, usually so gross and licentious, one may come across a charmingly poetic yet entirely sensual picture like the following from the Persian Gulistan (339). On a very hot day, when he was a young man, Saadi found the hot wind drying up the moisture of his mouth and melting the marrow of his bones. Looking for a refuge and refreshment, he beheld a moon-faced damsel of supreme loveliness in the shaded portico of a mansion:

"She held in her hand a goblet of snow-cold water, into which she dropt some sugar, and tempered it with spirit of wine; but I know not whether she scented it with attar, or sprinkled it with a few blossoms from her own rosy cheek. In short, I received the beverage from her idol-fair hand: and having drunk it off, found myself restored to new life."

Ward writes (115) that the following account of Sharuda, the daughter of Brumha, translated from the Shiva Purana, may serve as a just description of a perfect Hindoo beauty. This girl was of a yellow color; had a nose like the flower of a secamum; her legs were taper, like the plantain-tree; her eyes large, like the principal leaf of the lotos; her eyebrows extended to her ears; her lips were red, like the young leaves of the mango-tree; her face was like the full moon; her voice like the sound of the cuckoo; her throat was like that of a pigeon; her loins narrow, like those of a lion; her hair hung in curls down to her feet; her teeth were like the seeds of the pomegranate; and her gait like that of a drunken elephant or a goose.

There is nothing coarse in this description, yet every detail is purely sensual, and so it is with the thousands of amorous rhapsodies of Hindoo, Persian, Turkish, Arabic, and other Eastern poets. Concerning the Persians, Dr. Polak remarks (I., 206) that the word Ischk (love) is always associated with the idea of carnality (Was'l). Of the Arabs, Burckardt says that "the passion of love is indeed much talked of by the inhabitants of the towns; but I doubt whether anything is meant by them more than the grossest animal desire." In his letters from the East the keen-eyed Count von Moltke notes that the Turk "passes over all the preliminary rigmarole of falling in love, paying court, languishing, revelling in ecstatic joy, as so much faux frais, and goes straight to the point."


But is the German field-marshal quite just to the Turk? I have before me a passage which seems to indicate that these Orientals do know a thing or two about the "rigmarole of love-making." It is cited by Kremer[121] from the Kitâb almowaschâ, a book treating of social matters in Baghdad. Its author devotes a special chapter to the dangers lurking in female singers and musical slaves, in the course of which he says:

"If one of these girls meets a rich young man, she sets about ensnaring him, makes eyes at him, invites him with gestures, sings for him … drinks the wine he left in his cup, throws kisses with her hands, till she has the poor fellow in her net and he is enamoured. … Then she sends messages to him and continues her crafty arts, lets him understand that she is losing sleep for love of him, is pining for him; maybe she sends him a ring, or a lock of her hair, a paring of her nails, a splinter from her lute, or part of her toothbrush, or a piece of fragrant gum (chewed by her) as a substitute for a kiss, or a note written and folded with her own hands and tied with a string from her lute, with a tearstain on it; and finally sealed with Ghâlija, her ring, on which some appropriate words are carved."

Having captured her victim, she makes him give her valuable presents till his purse is empty, whereupon she discards him.

Was Count Moltke, then, wrong? Have we here, after all, the sentimental symptoms of romantic love? Let us apply the tests provided by our analysis of love—tests as reliable as those which chemists use to analyze fluids or gases. Did the Baghdad music-girl prefer that man to all other individuals? Did she want to monopolize him jealously? Oh, no! any man, however old and ugly, would have suited her, provided he had plenty of money. Was she coy toward him? Perhaps; but not from a feeling of modesty and timidity inspired by love, but to make him more ardent and ready to pay. Was she proud of his love? She thought him a fool. Were her feelings toward him chaste and pure? As chaste and pure as his. Did she sympathize with his pleasures and pains? She dismissed him as soon as his purse was empty, and looked about for another victim. Were his presents the result of gallant impulses to please her, or merely advance payment for favors expected? Would he have sacrificed his life to save her any more than she would hers to save him? Did he respect her as an immaculate superior being, adore her as an angel from above—or look on her as an inferior, a slave in rank, a slave to passion?

The obvious moral of this immoral episode is that it is not permissible to infer the existence of anything higher than sensual love from the mere fact that certain romantic tricks are associated with the amorous dalliance of Orientals, or Greeks and Romans. Drinking from the same cup, throwing kisses, sending locks of hair or tear-stained letters, adjusting a foot-stool, or fanning a heated brow, are no doubt romantic incidents, but they are no proof of romantic feeling for the reason that they are frequently associated with the most heartless and mercenary sensuality. The coquetry of the Baghdad girl is romantic, but there is no sentiment in it. Yet—and here we reach the most important aspect of that episode—there is an affectation of sentiment in that sending of locks, notes, and splinters from her lute; and this affectation of sentiment is designated by the word sentimentality. In the history of love sentimentality precedes sentiment; and for a proper understanding of the history and psychology of love it is as important to distinguish sentimentality from sentiment as it is to differentiate love from lust.

When Lowell wrote, "Let us be thankful that in every man's life there is a holiday of romance, an illumination of the senses by the soul, that makes him a poet while it lasts," he made a sad error in assuming that there is such a holiday of romance in every man's life; millions never enjoy it; but the words I have italicized—"an illumination of the senses by the soul"—are one of those flashes of inspiration which sometimes enable a poet to give a better description of a psychic process than professional philosophers have put forth.

From one point of view the love sentiment may be called an illumination of the senses by the soul. Elsewhere Lowell has given another admirable definition: "Sentiment is intellectualized emotion, emotion precipitated, as it were, in pretty crystals of thought." Excellent, too, is J.F. Clarke's definition: "Sentiment is nothing but thought blended with feeling; thought made affectionate, sympathetic, moral." The Century Dictionary throws further light on this word:

"Sentiment has a peculiar place between thought and feeling, in which it also approaches the meaning of principle. It is more than that feeling which is sensation or emotion, by containing more of thought and by being more lofty, while it contains too much feeling to be merely thought, and it has large influence over the will; for example, the sentiment of patriotism; the sentiment of honor; the world is ruled by sentiment. The thought in a sentiment is often that of duty, and is penetrated and exalted by feeling."

Herbert Spencer sums up the matter concisely (Psych., II., 578) when he speaks of "that remoteness from sensations and appetites and from ideas of such sensations and appetites which is the common trait of the feelings we call sentiments."

It is hardly necessary to point out that in our Baghdad girl's love-affairs there is no "remoteness from sensations and appetites," no "illumination of the senses by the soul," no "intellectualized emotion," no "thought made affectionate, sympathetic, moral." But there is in it, as I have said, a touch of sentimentality. If sentiment is properly defined as "higher feeling," sentimentality is "affectation of fine or tender feeling or exquisite sensibility." Heartless coquetry, prudery, mock modesty, are bosom friends of sentimentality. While sentiment is the noblest thing in the world, sentimentality is its counterfeit, its caricature; there is something theatrical, operatic, painted-and-powdered about it; it differs from sentiment as astrology differs from astronomy, alchemy from chemistry, the sham from the real, hypocrisy from sincerity, artificial posing from natural grace, genuine affection from selfish attachment.


Sentimentality, as I have said, precedes sentiment in the history of love, and it has been a special characteristic of certain periods, like that of the Alexandrian Greeks and their Roman imitators, to whom we shall recur in a later chapter, and the mediaeval Troubadours and Minnesingers. To the present day sentimentality in love is so much more abundant than sentiment that the adjective sentimental is commonly used in an uncomplimentary sense, as in the following passage from one of Krafft-Ebing's books (Psch. Sex., 9):

"Sentimental love runs the risk of degenerating into caricature, especially in cases where the sensual ingredient is weak…. Such love has a flat, saccharine tang. It is apt to become positively ludicrous, whereas in other cases the manifestations of this strongest of all feelings inspire in us sympathy, respect, awe, according to circumstances."

Steele speaks in The Lover (23, No. 5) of the extraordinary skill of a poet in making a loose people "attend to a Passion which they never, or that very faintly, felt in their own Bosoms." La Rochefoucauld wrote: "It is with true love as with ghosts; everybody speaks of it, but few have seen it." A writer in Science expressed his belief that romantic love, as described in my first book, could really be experienced only by men of genius. I think that this makes the circle too small; yet in these twelve years of additional observation I have come to the conclusion that even at this stage of civilization only a small proportion of men and women are able to experience full-fledged romantic love, which seems to require a special emotional or esthetic gift, like the talent for music. A few years ago I came across the following in the London Tidbits which echoes the sentiments of multitudes:

"Latour, who sent a pathetic complaint the other day that though he wished to do so he was unable to fall in love, has called forth a sympathetic response from a number of readers of both sexes. These ladies and gentlemen write to say that they also, like Latour, cannot understand how it is that they are not able to feel any experience of tender passion which they read about so much in novels, and hear about in actual life."

At the same time there are not a few men of genius, too, who never felt true love in their own hearts. Herder believed that Goethe was not capable of genuine love, and Grimm, too, thought that Goethe had never experienced a self-absorbing passion. Tolstoi must have been ever a stranger to genuine love, for to him it seems a degrading thing even in marriage. A suggestive and frank confession may be found in the literary memoirs of Goncourt.[122] At a small gathering of men of letters Goncourt remarked that hitherto love had not been studied scientifically in novels. Zola thereupon declared that love was not a specific emotion; that it does not affect persons so absolutely as the writers say; that the phenomena characterizing it are also found in friendship, in patriotism, and that the intensity of this emotion is due entirely to the anticipation of carnal enjoyment. Turgenieff objected to these views; in his opinion love is a sentiment which has a unique color of its own—a quality differentiating it from all other sentiments—eliminating the lover's own personality, as it were. The Russian novelist obviously had a conception of the purity of love, for Goncourt reports him as "speaking of his first love for a woman as a thing entirely spiritual, having nothing in common with materiality." And now follows Goncourt's confession:

"In all this, the thing to regret is that neither Flaubert … nor Zola, nor myself, have ever been very seriously in love and that we are therefore unable to describe love. Turgenieff alone could have done that, but he lacks precisely the critical sense which we could have exercised in this matter had we been in love after his fashion."

The vast majority of the human race has not yet got beyond the sensual stage of amorous evolution, or realized the difference between sentimentality and sentiment. There is much food for thought in this sentence from Henry James's charming essay on France's most poetic writer—Théophile Gautier:

"It has seemed to me rather a painful exhibition of the prurience of the human mind that in most of the notices of the author's death (those at least published in England and America), this work alone [Mile. de Maupin] should have been selected as the critic's text."

Readers are interested only in emotions with which they are familiar by experience. Howells's refined love-scenes have often been sneered at by men who like raw whiskey but cannot appreciate the delicate bouquet of Chambertin. As Professor Ribot remarks: in the higher regions of science, art, religion, and morals there are emotions so subtle and elevated that

"not more than one individual in a hundred thousand or even in a million can experience them. The others are strangers to them, or do not know of their existence except vaguely, from what they hear about them. It is a promised land, which only the select can enter."

I believe that romantic love is a sentiment which more than one person in a million can experience, and more than one in a hundred thousand. How many more, I shall not venture to guess. All the others know love only as a sensual craving. To them "I love you" means "I long for you, covet you, am eager to enjoy you"; and this feeling is not love of another but self-love, more or less disguised—the kind of "love" which makes a young man shoot a girl who refuses him. The mediaeval writer Leon Hebraeus evidently knew of no other when he defined love as "a desire to enjoy that which is good"; nor Spinoza when he defined it as laetetia concomitante idea externae causae—a pleasure accompanied by the thought of its external cause.


Having distinguished romantic or sentimental love from sentimentality on one side and sensuality on the other, it remains to show how it differs from conjugal affection.


On hearing the words "love letters," does anybody ever think of a man's letters to his wife? No more than of his letters to his mother. He may love both his wife and his mother dearly, but when he writes love letters he writes them to his sweetheart. Thus, public opinion and every-day literary usage clearly recognize the difference between romantic love and conjugal affection. Yet when I maintained in my first book that romantic love differs as widely from conjugal affection as maternal love differs from friendship; that romantic love is almost as modern as the telegraph, the railway, and the electric light; and that perhaps the main reasons why no one had anticipated me in an attempt to write a book to prove this, were that no distinction had heretofore been made between conjugal and romantic love, and that the apparent occurrence of noble examples of conjugal attachment among the ancient Greeks had obscured the issue—there was a chorus of dissenting voices. "The distinction drawn by him between romantic and conjugal love," wrote one critic, "seems more fanciful than real." "He will not succeed," wrote another, "in convincing anybody that romantic and conjugal love differ in kind instead of only in degree or place"; while a third even objected to my theory as "essentially immoral!"

Mr. W.D. Howells, on the other hand, accepted my distinction, and in a letter to me declared that he found conjugal affection an even more interesting field of study than romantic love. Why, indeed, should anyone be alarmed at the distinction I made? Is not a man's feeling toward his sweetheart different from his feeling toward his mother or sister? Why then should it be absurd or "immoral" to maintain that it differs from his feeling toward his wife? What I maintain is that romantic love disappears gradually, to be replaced, as a rule, by conjugal affection, which is sometimes a less intense, at other times a more intense, feeling than the emotions aroused during courtship. The process may be compared to a modulation in music, in which some of the tones in a chord are retained while others are displaced by new ones. Such modulations are delightful, and the new harmony may be as beautiful as the old. A visitor to Wordsworth's home wrote:

"I saw the old man walking in the garden with his wife. They were both quite old, and he was almost blind; but they seemed like sweethearts courting, they were so tender to each other and attentive."

A husband may be, and should be, quite as tender, as attentive, as gallant and self-sacrificing, as sympathetic, proud, and devoted as a lover; yet all his emotions will appear in a new orchestration, as it were. In the gallant attentions of a loving husband, the anxious eagerness to please is displaced by a pleasant sense of duty and gentlemanly courtesy. He still prefers his wife to all other women and wants a monopoly of her love; but this feeling has a proprietary tinge that was absent before. Jealousy, too, assumes a new aspect; it may, temporarily, bring back the uncertainty of courtship, but the emotion is colored by entirely different ideas: jealousy in a lover is a green-eyed monster gnawing merely at his hopes, and not, as in a husband, threatening to destroy his property and his family honor—which makes a great difference in the quality of the feeling and its manifestation. The wife, on her part, has no more use for coyness, but can indulge in the luxury of bestowing gallant attentions which before marriage would have seemed indelicate or forward, while after marriage they are a pleasant duty, rising in some cases to heroic self-sacrifice.

If even within the sphere of romantic love no two cases are exactly alike, how could love before marriage be the same as after marriage when so many new experiences, ideas, and associations come into play? Above all, the feelings relating to the children bring an entirely new group of tones into the complex harmony of affection. The intimacies of married life, the revelation of characteristics undiscovered before marriage, the deeper sympathy, the knowledge that theirs is "one glory an' one shame"—these and a hundred other domestic experiences make romantic love undergo a change into something that may be equally rich and strange but is certainly quite different. A wife's charms are different from a girl's and inspire a different kind of love. The husband loves

     Those virtues which, before untried,
     The wife has added to the bride,

as Samuel Bishop rhymes it. In their predilection for maidens, poets, like novelists, have until recently ignored the wife too much. But Cowper sang:

     What is there in the vale of life
     Half so delightful as a wife,
     When friendship, love and peace combine
     To stamp the marriage bond divine?
     The stream of pure and genuine love
     Derives its current from above;
     And earth a second Eden shows,
     Where'er the healing water flows.

Some of the specifically romantic ingredients of love, on the other hand—adoration, hyperbole, the mixed moods of hope and despair—do not normally enter into conjugal affection. No one would fail to see the absurdity of a husband's exclaiming

     O that I were a glove upon that hand
     That I might touch that cheek.

He may touch that cheek, and kiss it too—and that makes a tremendous difference in the tone and tension of his feelings. Unlike the lover, the husband does not think, feel, and speak in perpetual hyperboles. He does not use expressions like "beautiful tyrant, fiend angelical," or speak of

     The cruel madness of love
     The honey of poisonous flowers.

There is no madness or cruelty in conjugal love: in its normal state it is all peace, contentment, happiness, while romantic love, in its normal state, is chiefly unrest, doubt, fear, anxiety, torture and anguish of heart—with alternating hours of frantic elation—until the Yes has been spoken.

The emotions of a husband are those of a mariner who has entered into the calm harbor of matrimony with his treasure safe and sound, while the romantic lover is as one who is still on the high seas of uncertainty, storm-tossed one moment, lifted sky-high on a wave of hope, the next in a dark abyss of despair. It is indeed lucky that conjugal affection does differ so widely from romantic love; such nervous tension, doubt, worry, and constant friction between hope and despair would, if continued after marriage, make life a burden to the most loving couples.


The notion that genuine romantic love does not undergo a metamorphosis in marriage is the first of five mistakes I have undertaken to correct in this chapter. The second is summed up in Westermarck's assertion (359-60) that it is

"impossible to believe that there ever was a time when conjugal affection was entirely wanting in the human race … it seems, in its most primitive form, to have been as old as marriage itself. It must be a certain degree of affection that induces the male to defend the female during her period of pregnancy."

Now I concede that natural selection must have developed at an early period in the history of man, as in the lower animals, some kind of an attachment between male and females. A wife could not seek her daily food in the forest and at the same time defend herself and her helpless babe against wild beasts and human enemies. Hence natural selection favored those groups in which the males attached themselves to a particular female for a longer time than the breeding-season, defending her from enemies and giving her a share of their game. But from this admitted fact to the inference that it is "affection" that makes the husband defend his wife, there is a tremendous logical skip not warranted by the situation. Instead of making such an assumption offhand, the scientific method requires us to ask if there is not some other way of accounting for the facts more in accordance with the selfish disposition and habits of savages. The solution of the problem is easily found. A savage's wife is his property, which he has acquired by barter, service, fighting, or purchase, and which he would be a fool not to protect against injury or rivals. She is to him a source of utility, comfort, and pleasure, which is reason enough why he should not allow a lion to devour her or a rival to carry her off. She is his cook, his slave, his mule; she fetches wood and water, prepares the food, puts up the camp, and when it is time to move carries the tent and kitchen utensils, as well as her child to the next place. If his motive in protecting her against men and beasts were affection, he would not thus compel her to do all the work while he walks unburdened to the next camping-place.

Apart from these home comforts there are selfish reasons enough why savages should take the trouble to protect their wives and rear children. In Australia it is a universal custom to exchange a daughter for a new wife, discarding or neglecting the old one; and the habit of treating children as merchandise prevails in various other parts of the world. The gross utilitarianism of South African marriages is illustrated in Dr. Fritsch's remarks on the Ama-Zulus. "As these women too are slaves, there is not much to say about love, marriage, or conjugal life," he says. The husband pays for his wife, but expects her to repay him for his outlay by hard work and by bearing children whom he can sell. "If she fails to make herself thus useful, if she falls ill, becomes weak, or remains childless, he often sends her back to her father and demands restitution of the cattle he had paid for her;" and his demand has to be complied with. Lord Randolph Churchill (249) was informed by a native of Mashonaland that he had his eye on a girl whom he desired to marry, because "if he was lucky, his wife might have daughters whom he would be able to sell in exchange for goats." Samuel Baker writes in one of his books of African exploration (Ism., 341):

"Girls are always purchased if required as wives. It would be quite impossible to obtain a wife for love from any tribe that I have visited. 'Blessed is he that hath his quiver full of them' (daughters). A large family of girls is a source of wealth to the father, as he sells each daughter for twelve or fifteen cows to her suitor."

Of the Central African, Macdonald says (I., 141):

"The more wives he has the richer he is. It is his wives that maintain him. They do all his ploughing, milling, cooking, etc. They may be viewed as superior servants, who combine all the capacities of male servants and female servants in Britain—who do all his work and ask no wages."

We need not assume a problematic affection to explain why such a man marries.

But the savage's principal marriage motive is, of course, sensualism. If he wants to own a particular girl he must take care of her. If he tires of her it is easy enough to get rid of her or to make her a drudge pure and simple, while her successor enjoys his caresses. Speaking of Pennsylvania Indians, Buchanan remarks naïvely (II., 95) that "the wives are the true servants of their husbands; otherwise the men are very affectionate to them." On another page (102) he inadvertently explains what he means by this paradox: "the ancient women are used for cooks, barbers, and other services, the younger for dalliance." In other words, Buchanan makes the common mistake of applying the altruistic word affection to what is nothing more than selfish indulgence of the sensual appetite. So does Pajeken when he tells us in the Ausland about the "touching tenderness" of a Crow chief toward a fourteen-year-old girl whom he had just added to the number of his wives.

"While he was in the wigwam he did not leave her a moment. With his own hands he adorned her with chains, and strings of teeth and pearls, and he found a special pleasure in combing her black, soft, silken hair. He gambolled with her like a child and rocked her on his knees, telling her stories. Of his other wives he demanded the utmost respect in their treatment of his little one."

This reference to the other wives ought to have opened Pajeken's eyes as to the silliness of speaking of the "touching" tenderness of the Crow chief to his latest favorite. In a few years she was doomed to be discarded, like the others, in favor of a new victim of his carnal appetite. Affection is entirely out of the question in such cases.

The Malayans of Sumatra have, as Carl Bock tells us (314), a local custom allowing a wife to marry again if her faithless spouse has deserted her for three months:

"The early age at which marriage is contracted is an obstacle to any real affection between couples; for girls to be wives at fourteen is a common occurrence; indeed, that age may be put down as the average age of first marriage. The girls are then frequently good-looking, but hard work and the cares of maternity soon stamp their faces with the marks of age, and spoil their figures, and then the Malay husband forsakes his wife, if, indeed, he keeps her so long."

Marriage with these people is, as Bock adds, a mere matter of pounds, shillings, and pence. His servant had married a "grass-widow" of three months' desertion. But

"before she had enjoyed her new title six weeks, a coolness sprang up between her and her husband. I inquired the reason, and she naïvely confessed that her husband had no more rupees to give her, and so she did not care for him any longer."

Concerning Damara women Galton writes (197):

"They were extremely patient, though not feminine, according to our ideas: they had no strong affections either for spouse or children; in fact, the spouse was changed almost weekly, and I seldom knew without inquiry who the pro tempore husband of each lady was at any particular time."

Among the Singhalese, if a wife is sick and can no longer minister to her husband's comforts and pleasure he repudiates her. Bailey says[123] that this heartless desertion of a sick wife is "the worst trait in the Kandyan character, and the cool and unconcerned manner in which they themselves allude to it shows that it is as common as it is cruel."

"How can a man be contented with one wife," exclaimed an Arab sheik to Sir Samuel Baker (N.T.A., 263). "It is ridiculous, absurd." And then he proceeded to explain why, in his opinion, monogamy is such an absurdity:

"What is he to do when she becomes old? When she is young, if very lovely, perhaps, he might be satisfied with her, but even the young must some day grow old, and the beautiful must fade. The man does not fade like a woman; therefore, as he remains the same for many years, Nature has arranged that the man shall have young wives to replace the old; does not the prophet allow it?"

He then pointed out what further advantage there was in having several wives:

"This one carries water, that one grinds corn; this makes the bread; the last does not do much, as she is the youngest and my favorite; and if they neglect their work they get a taste of this!"

shaking a long and tolerably thick stick.

There you have the typical male polygamist with his reasons frankly stated—sensual gratification and utilitarianism.


One of the most gossipy and least critical of all writers on primitive man, Bonwick, declares (97), in describing Tasmanian funerals, that

"the affectionate nature of women appeared on such melancholy occasions…. The women not only wept, but lacerated their bodies with sharp shells and stones, even burning their thighs with fire-sticks…. The hair cut off in grief was thrown upon the mound."

Descriptions of the howling and tortures to which savages subject themselves as part of their funeral rites abound in works of travel, and although every school-boy knows that the deepest waters are silent, it is usually assumed that these howling antics betray the deep grief and affection of the mourners. Now I do not deny that the lower races do feel grief at the loss of a relative or friend; it is one of the earliest emotions to develop in mankind. What I object to in particular is the notion that the penances to which widows submit on the death of their husbands indicate deep and genuine conjugal affection. As a matter of fact, these penances are not voluntary but prescribed, each widow in a tribe being expected to indulge in the same howlings and mutilations, so that this circumstance alone would make it impossible to say whether her lamentations over her late spouse came under the head of affection, fondness, liking, or attachment, or whether they are associated with indifference or hatred. It is instructive to note that, in descriptions of mourning widows, the words "must" or "obliged to" nearly always occur. Among the Mandans, we read in Catlin (I., 95), "in mourning, like the Crows and most other tribes, the women are obliged to crop their hair all off; and the usual term of that condolence is until the hair has grown again to its former length." The locks of the men (who make them do this), "are of much greater importance," and only one or two can be spared. According to Schomburgk, on the death of her husband, an Arawak wife must cut her hair; and until this has again grown to a certain length she cannot remarry. (Spencer, D.S., 20.) Among the Patagonians, "the widow, or widows, of the dead, are obliged to mourn and fast for a whole year after the death of their husbands." They must abstain from certain kinds of food, and must not wash their faces and hands for a whole year; while "during the year of mourning they are forbidden to marry." (Falkner, 119.) The grief is all prescribed and regulated according to tribal fancy. The Brazilians "repeat the lamentation for the dead twice a day." (Spix and Martins, II., 250.) The Comanches

"mourn for the dead systematically and periodically with great noise and vehemence; at which time the female relatives of the deceased scarify their arms and legs with sharp flints until the blood trickles from a thousand pores. The duration of these lamentations depends on the quality and estimation of the deceased; varying from three to five or seven days."

(Schoolcraft, I., 237.) James Adair says in his History of the American Indians (188), "They compel the widow to act the part of the disconsolate dove, for the irreparable loss of her mate."

In Dahomey, during mourning "the weeping relatives must fast and refrain from bathing," etc. (Burton, II., 164.) In the Transvaal, writes the missionary Posselt,

"there are a number of heathenish customs which the widows are obliged to observe. There is, first, the terrible lamentation for the dead. Secondly, the widows must allow themselves to be fumigated," etc.

Concerning the Asiatic Turks Vambéry writes that the women are not allowed to attend the funeral, but "are obliged meanwhile to remain in their tent, and, while lamenting incessantly, scratch their cheeks with their nails, i.e., mar their beauty." The widow must lament or sing dirges for a whole year, etc. Chippewa widows are obliged to fast and must not comb their hair for a year or wear any ornament. A Shushwap widow must not allow her shadow to fall on any one, and must bed her head on thorns. Bancroft notes (I., 731) that among the Mosquito Indians

"the widow was bound to supply the grave of her husband with provisions for a year, after which she took up the bones and carried them with her for another year, at last placing them upon the roof of her house, and then only was she allowed to marry again."

The widows of the Tolkotin Indians in Oregon were subjected to such maltreatment that some of them committed suicide to escape their sufferings. For nine days they were obliged to sleep beside the corpse and follow certain rules in regard to dressing and eating. If a widow neglected any of these, she was on the tenth day thrown on the funeral pile with the corpse and tossed about and scorched till she lost consciousness. Afterward she was obliged to perform the function of a slave to all the other women and children of the tribe.[124]

So far as I am aware, no previous writer on the subject has emphasized the obligatory character of all these performances by widows. To me that seems by far the most important aspect of the question, as it shows that the widows were not prompted to these actions by affectionate grief or self-sacrificing impulses, but by the command of the men; and if we bear in mind the superlative selfishness of these men we have no difficulty in comprehending that what makes them compel the women to do these penances is the desire to make them eager to care for the comfort and welfare of their husbands lest the latter die and they thus bring upon themselves the discomforts arid terrors of widowhood.

Martius justly remarks that the great dependance of savage women makes them eager to please their husbands (121); and this eagerness would naturally be doubled by making widowhood forbidding. Bruhier wrote, in 1743, that in Corsica it was customary, in case a man died, for the women to fall upon his widow and give her a sound drubbing. This custom, he adds significantly, "prompted the women to take good care of their husbands."

It is true that the widowers also in some cases subjected themselves to penance; but usually they made it very much easier for themselves than for the widows. In his Lettres sur le Congo (152) Edouard Dupont relates that a man who has lost his wife and wants to show grief shaves his head, blackens himself, stops work, and sits in front of his chimbeque several days. His neighbors meanwhile feed him [no fasting for him!], and at last a friend brings him a calabash of malofar and tells him "stop mourning or you will die of starvation." "It does not happen often," Dupont adds, "that the advice is not promptly followed."

Selfish utilitarianism does not desert the savage even at the grave of his wife. An amusing illustration of the shallowness of aboriginal grief where it seems "truly touching" may be found in an article by the Rev. F. McFarlane on British New Guinea.[125] Scene: "A woman is being buried. The husband is lying by the side of the grave, apparently in an agony of grief; he sobs and cries as if his heart would break." Then he jumps into the grave and whispers into the ears of the corpse—what? a last farewell? Oh, no! "He is asking the spirit of his wife to go with him when he goes fishing, and make him successful also when he goes hunting, or goes to battle," etc.; his last request being, "And please don't be angry if I get another wife!"

The simple truth is that in their grief, as in everything else, savages are nothing but big children, crying one moment, laughing the next. Whatever feelings they may have are shallow and without devotion. If the widows of Mandans, Arawaks, Patagonians, etc., do not marry until a year after the death of their husband this is not on account of affectionate grief, but, as we have seen, because they are not allowed to. Where custom prescribes a different course, they follow that with the same docility. When a Kansas or Osage wife finds, on the return of a war-party, that she is a widow, she howls dismally, but forthwith seeks an avenger in the shape of a new husband. "After the death of a husband, the sooner a squaw marries again, the greater respect and regard she is considered to show for his memory." (Hunter, 246.) The Australian custom for women, especially widows, is to mourn by scratching the face and branding the body. As for the grief itself, its quality may be inferred from the fact that these women sit day after day by the grave or platform, howling their monotonous dirge, but, as soon as they are allowed to pause for a meal they indulge in the merriest pranks. (K.E. Jung, 111.)


In many cases the mourning of savages, instead of being an expression of affection and grief, appears to be simply a mode of gratifying their love of ceremonial and excitement. That is, they mourn for entertainment—I had almost said for fun; and it is easy to see too, that vanity and superstition play their rôle here as in their "ornamenting" and everything else they do. By the Abipones "women are appointed to go forward on swift steeds to dig the grave, and honor the funeral with lamentations." (Dobrizhoffer II., 267.) During the ceremony of making a skeleton of a body the Patagonians, as Falkner informs us (119), indulge in singing in a mournful tone of voice, and striking the ground, to frighten away the Valichus or Evil Beings. Some of the Indians also visit the relatives of the dead, indulging in antics which show that the whole thing is done for effect and pastime. "During this visit of condolence," Falkner continues,

"they cry, howl, and sing, in the most dismal manner; straining out tears, and pricking their arms and thighs with sharp thorns, to make them bleed. For this show of grief they are paid with glass beads," etc.

The Rev. W. Ellis writes that the Tahitians, when someone had died, "not only wailed in the loudest and most affecting tone, but tore their hair, rent their garments, and cut themselves with shark's teeth or knives in a most shocking manner." That this was less an expression of genuine grief than a result of the barbarous love of excitement, follows from what he adds: that in a milder form, this loud wailing and cutting with shark's teeth was "an expression of joy as well as of grief." (Pol. Res., I., 527.) The same writer relates in his book on Hawaii (148) that when a chief or king died on that island,

"the people ran to and fro without their clothes, appearing and acting more like demons than human beings; every vice was practised and almost every species of crime perpetrated."

J.T. Irving tells a characteristic story (226-27) of an Indian girl whom he found one day lying on a grave singing a song "so despairing that it seemed to well out from a broken heart." A half-breed friend, who thoroughly understood the native customs, marred his illusion by informing him that he had heard the girl say to her mother that as she had nothing else to do, she believed she would go and take a bawl over her brother's grave. The brother had been dead five years!

The whole question of aboriginal mourning is patly summed up in a witty remark made by James Adair more than a century ago (1775). He has seen Choctaw mourners, he declares (187), "pour out tears like fountains of water; but after thus tiring themselves they might with perfect propriety have asked themselves, ' And who is dead?'"


Instructive, from several points of view, is an incident related by McLean (I., 254-55): A carrier Indian having been killed, his widow threw herself on the body, shrieking and tearing her hair. The other females "evinced all the external symptoms of extreme grief, chanting the death-song in a most lugubrious tone, the tears streaming down their cheeks, and beating their breasts;" yet as soon as the rites were ended, these women "were seen as gay and cheerful as if they had returned from a wedding." The widow alone remained, being "obliged by custom" to mourn day and night.

"The bodies were formerly burned; the relatives of the deceased, as well as those of the widow, being present, all armed; a funeral pile was erected, and the body placed upon it. The widow then set fire to the pile, and was compelled to stand by it, anointing her breast with the fat that oozed from the body, until the heat became insupportable; when the wretched creature, however, attempted to draw back, she was thrust forward by her husband's relatives at the point of their spears, and forced to endure the dreadful torture until either the body was reduced to ashes, or she herself almost scorched to death. Her relatives were present merely to preserve her life; when no longer able to stand they dragged her away, and this intervention often led to bloody quarrels."

Obviously the compulsory mourning enforced in McLean's day was simply a mild survival of this former torture, which, in turn, was a survival of the still earlier practice of actually burning the widows alive, or otherwise killing them, which used to prevail in various parts of the world, as in India, among some Chinese aboriginal tribes, the old Germans, the Thracians and Scythians, some of the Greeks, the Lithuanians, the Basutos, the natives of Congo and other African countries, the inhabitants of New Zealand, the Solomon Islands, New Hebrides, Fiji Islands, the Crees, Comanches, Caribs, and various other Indian tribes in California, Darien, Peru, etc.[126]

Some writers have advanced the opinion that jealousy prompted the men to compel their wives to follow them into death. But the most widely accepted opinion is that expressed long ago by St. Boniface when he declared regarding the Wends that

"they preserve their conjugal love with such ardent zeal that the wife refuses to survive her husband; and she is especially admired among women who takes her own life in order to be burnt on the same pile with her master."

This view is the fourth of the mistakes I have undertaken to demolish in this chapter.

In the monumental work of Ploss and Bartels (II., 514), the opinion is advanced that the custom of slaughtering widows on the death of their husbands is the result of the grossly materialistic view the races in question hold in regard to a future world. It is supposed that a warrior will reappear with all his physical attributes and wants; for which reason he is arranged in his best clothes, his weapons are placed by his side, and often animals and slaves are slaughtered to be useful to him in his new existence. His principal servant and provider of home comforts, however, is his wife, wherefore she, too, is expected to follow him.

This, no doubt, is the truth about widow-burning; but it is not the whole truth. To comprehend all the horrors of the situation we must realize clearly that it was the fiendish selfishness of the men, extending even beyond death, which thus subjected their wives to a cruel death, and that the widows, on their part, did not follow them because of the promptings of affection, but either under physical compulsion or in consequence of a systematic course of moral reprobation and social persecution which made death preferable to life. In Peru, for instance, where widows were not killed against their will, but were allowed to choose between widowhood and being buried alive,

"the wife or servant who preferred life to the act of martyrdom, which was to attest their fidelity, was an object of general contempt, and devoted or doomed to a life worse than death."

The consequence of this was that

"generally the wives and servants offered themselves voluntarily, and there are even instances of wives who preferred suicide to prove their conjugal devotion when they were prevented from descending to the grave with the body of their consort." (Rivero and Tschudi, 186.)

Usually, too, superstition was called to aid to make the widows docile. In Fiji, for instance, to quote Westermarck's summing up (125) of several authorities, widows

"were either buried alive or strangled, often at their own desire, because they believed that in this way alone could they reach the realms of bliss, and that she who met her death with the greatest devotedness would become the favorite wife in the abode of spirits. On the other hand, a widow who did not permit herself to be killed was considered an adulteress."

To realize vividly how far widow-burning is from being an act of voluntary wifely devotion one must read Abbé Dubois's account of the matter (I., chap. 21). He explains that, however chaste and devoted a wife may have been during her husband's life, she is treated worse than the lowest outcast if she wants to survive him. By a "voluntary" death, on the contrary, she becomes "an illustrious victim of conjugal attachment," and is "considered in the light of a deity." On the way to the funeral pyre the accompanying multitude stretch out their hands toward her in token of admiration. They behold her as already translated into the paradise of Vishnu and seem to envy her happy lot. The women run up to her to receive her blessing, and she knows that afterward crowds of votaries will daily frequent her shrine. The Brahmans compliment her on her heroism. (Sometimes drugs are administered to stifle her fears.) She knows, too, that it is useless to falter at the last moment, as a change of heart would be an eternal disgrace, not only to herself but to her relatives, who, therefore, stand around with sabres and rifles to intimidate her. In short, with satanic ingenuity, every possible appeal is made to her family pride, vanity, longing for future bliss and divine honors after life, enforced by the knowledge that if she lives earth will be a hell to her, so that refusal is next to impossible. And this is the much-vaunted "conjugal affection and fidelity" of Hindoo widows!


The practice of "voluntary" widow-burning is, as the foregoing shows, about as convincing proof of wifely devotion as the presence of an ox in the butcher's stall is proof of his gastronomic devotion to man. In reality it is, as I have said, simply the most diabolical aspect of man's aboriginal disposition to look on woman as made solely for his own comfort and pleasure, here and hereafter. Now it is very instructive to note that whenever there is a story of conjugal devotion in Oriental or ancient classical literature it is nearly always inspired by the same spirit—the idea that the woman, as an inferior being, should subject herself to any amount of suffering if she can thereby save her sacred lord and master the slightest pang. For instance, an old Arabic writer (Kamil Mobarrad, p. 529) relates how a devoted wife whose husband was condemned to death disfigured her beautiful face in order to let him die with the consoling feeling that she would not marry again. The current notion that such stories are proof of conjugal devotion is the fifth of the mistakes to be corrected in this chapter. These stories were written by men, selfish men, who intended them as lessons to indicate to the women what was expected of them. Were it otherwise, why should not the men, too, be represented, at least occasionally, as devoted and self-sacrificing? Hector is tender to Andromache, and in the Sanscrit drama, Kanisika's Wrath, the King and the Queen contend with one another as to who shall be the victim of that wrath; but these are the only instances of the kind that occur to me. This interesting question will be further considered in the chapters on India and Greece, where corroborative stories will be quoted. Here I wish only to emphasize again the need of caution and suspicion in interpreting the evidence relating to the human feelings.


So much for the feminine aspect of conjugal devotion. In regard to the masculine aspect something must be added to what was said in preceding pages (307-10). We saw there that primitive man desires wives chiefly as drudges and concubines. It was also indicated briefly that wives are valued as mothers of daughters who can be sold to suitors. As a rule, sons are more desired than daughters, as they increase a man's power and authority, and because they alone can keep up the superstitious rites which are deemed necessary for the salvation of the father's selfish old soul. Now the non-existence or extreme rarity of conjugal attachment—not to speak of affection—is painfully indicated by the circumstance that wives were, among many races, valued (apart from grossly utilitarian and sensual motives) as mothers only, and that the men had a right, of which they commonly availed themselves, of repudiating a wife if she proved barren. On the lower Congo, says Dupont (96), a wife is not respected unless she has at least three children. Among the Somali, barren women are dieted and dosed, and if that proves unavailing they are usually chased away. (Paulitschke, B.E.A.S., 30.) If a Greenlander's wife did not bear him any children he generally took another one. (Cranz, I., 147.) Among the Mexican Aztecs divorce, even from a concubine, was not easy; but in case of barrenness even the principal wife could be repudiated. (Bancroft, II., 263-65.) The ancient Greeks, Romans, and Germans, the Chinese and Japanese, could divorce a wife on account of barrenness. For a Hindoo the laws of Manu indicate that "a barren wife may be dispensed with in the eighth year; one whose children all die, in the tenth; one who bears only daughters, in the eleventh." The tragic import of such bare statements is hardly realized until we come upon particular instances like those related by the Indian authoress Ramabai (15):

"Of the four wives of a certain prince, the eldest had borne him two sons; she was therefore his favorite, and her face beamed with happiness…. But oh! what contrast to this happiness was presented in the apartments of the childless three. Their faces were sad and careworn; there seemed no hope for them in this world, since their lord was displeased with them on account of their misfortune."

"A lady friend of mine in Calcutta told me that her husband had warned her not to give birth to a girl, the first time, or he would never see her face again." Another woman

"had been notified by her husband that if she persisted in bearing daughters she should be superseded by another wife, have coarse clothes to wear, scanty food to eat," etc.[127]


The conclusion to be drawn from the testimony collected in this chapter is that genuine conjugal love—the affection for a wife for her own sake—is, like romantic love, a product chiefly of modern civilization.

I say chiefly, because I am convinced that conjugal love was known sooner than romantic love, and for a very simple reason. Among those of the lower races where the sexes were not separated in youth, a license prevailed which led to shallow, premature, temporary alliances that precluded all idea of genuine affection, even had these folk been capable of such a sentiment; while among those tribes and peoples that practised the custom of separating the boys and girls from the earliest age, and not allowing them to become acquainted till after marriage, the growth of real, prematrimonial affection was, of course, equally impossible. In married life this was different. Living together for years, having a common interest in their children, sharing the same joys and sorrows, husband and wife would learn the rudiments of sympathy, and in happy cases there would be an opportunity for the growth of liking, attachment, fondness, or even, in exceptional instances, of affection. I cannot sufficiently emphasize the fact that my theory is psychological or cultural, not chronological. The fact that a man lives in the year 1900 makes it no more self-evident that he should be capable of sexual affection than the fact that a man lived seven centuries before Christ makes it self-evident that he could not love affectionately. Hector and Andromache existed only in the brain of Homer, who was in many respects thousands of years ahead of his contemporaries. Whether such a couple could really have existed at that time among the Trojans, or the Greeks, we do not know, but in any case it would have been an exception, proving the rule by the painful contrast of the surrounding barbarism.

Exceptions may possibly occur among the lower races, through happy combinations of circumstances. C.C. Jones describes (69) a picture of conjugal devotion among Cherokee Indians:

"By the side of the aged Mico Tomo-chi-chi, as, thin and weak, he lies upon his blanket, hourly expecting the summons of the pale-king, we see the sorrowing form of his old wife, Scenauki, bending over and fanning him with a bunch of feathers."

In his work on the Indians of California (271), Powers writes:

"An aged Achomauri lost his wife, to whom he had been married probably half a century, and he tarred his face in mourning for her as though he were a woman—an act totally unprecedented, and regarded by the Indians as evincing an extraordinary affection."

St. John relates the following incident in his book on Borneo:

"Ijan, a Balau chief, was bathing with his wife in the Lingga River, a place notorious for man-eating alligators, when Indra Lela, passing in a boat, remarked, 'I have just seen a very large animal swimming up the stream.' Upon hearing this, Ijan told his wife to go up the steps and he would follow. She got safely up, but he, stopping to wash his feet, was seized by the alligator, dragged into the middle of the stream, and disappeared from view. His wife, hearing a cry, turned round, and seeing her husband's fate, sprang into the river, shrieking 'Take me also,' and dived down at the spot where she had seen the alligator sink with his prey. No persuasion could induce her to come out of the water; she swam about, diving in all the places most dreaded from being a resort of ferocious reptiles, seeking to die with her husband; at last her friends came down and forcibly removed her to their house."

These stories certainly imply conjugal attachment, but is there any indication in them of affection? The Cherokee squaw mourns the impending death of her husband, which is a selfish feeling. The Californian, similarly, laments the loss of his spouse. The only thing he does is to "tar his face in mourning," and even this is regarded by the other Indians as "extraordinary" and "unprecedented." As for the woman in the third story, it is to be noted that her act is one of selfish despair, not of self-sacrifice for her husband's sake. We shall see in later chapters that women of her grade abandon themselves to suicidal impulses, not only where there is occasion for real distress, but often on the most trivial pretexts. A few days later, in all probability, that same woman would have been ready to marry another man. There is no evidence of altruistic action—action for another's benefit—in any of these incidents, and altruism is the only test of genuine affection as distinguished from mere liking, attachment, and fondness, which, as was explained in the chapter on Affection, are the products of selfishness, more or less disguised. If this distinction had been borne in mind a vast amount of confusion could have been avoided in works of exploration and the anthropological treatises based on them. Westermarck, for instance, cites on page 357 a number of authors who asserted that sexual affection, or even the appearance of it, was unknown to the Hovas of Madagascar, the Gold Coast, and Winnabah natives, the Kabyles, the Beni-Amer, the Chittagong Hill Tribes, the Ponape islanders, the Eskimo, the Kutchin, the Iroquois, and North American Indians in general; while on the next pages he cites approvingly authors who fancied they had discovered sexual affection among tribes some of whom (Australians, Andamanese, Bushmans) are far below the peoples just mentioned. The cause of this discrepancy lies not in these races themselves, but in the inaccurate use of words, and the different standards of the writers, some accepting the rubbing of noses or other sexual caresses as evidence of "affection," while others take any acts indicating fondness, attachment, or a suicidal impulse as signs of it. In a recent work by Tyrrell (165), I find it stated that the Eskimo marriage is "purely a love union;" and in reading on I discover that the author's idea of a "love union" is the absence of a marriage ceremony! Yet I have no doubt that Tyrrell will be cited hereafter as evidence that love unions are common among the Eskimos. So, again, when Lumholtz writes (213) that an Australian woman

"may happen to change husbands many times in her life, but sometimes, despite the fact that her consent is not asked, she gets the one she loves—for a black woman can love too"

—we are left entirely in the dark as to what kind of "love" is meant—sensual or sentimental, liking, attachment, fondness, or real affection. Surely it is time to put an end to such confusion, at least in scientific treatises, and to acquire in psychological discussions the precision which we always employ in describing the simplest weeds or insects.

Morgan, the great authority on the Iroquois—the most intelligent of North American Indians—lived long enough among them to realize vaguely that there must be a difference between sexual attachment before and after marriage, and that the latter is an earlier phenomenon in human evolution. After declaring that among the Indians "marriage was not founded on the affections … but was regulated exclusively as a matter of physical necessity," he goes on to say:

"Affection after marriage would naturally spring up between the parties from association, from habit, and from mutual dependence; but of that marvellous passion which originates in a higher development of the passions of the human heart, and is founded upon a cultivation of the affections between the sexes, they were entirely ignorant. In their temperaments they were below this passion in its simplest forms."

He is no doubt right in declaring that the Indians before marriage were "in their temperaments" below affectionate love "in its simplest forms"; but, that being so, it is difficult to see how they could have acquired real affection after marriage. As a matter of fact we know that they treated their wives with a selfishness which is entirely incompatible with true affection. The Rev. Peter Jones, moreover, an Indian himself, tells us in his book on the Ojibwas:

"I have scarcely ever seen anything like social intercourse between husband and wife, and it is remarkable that the women say little in presence of the men."

Obviously, at the beginning of the passage quoted, Morgan should have used the word attachment in place of affection. Bulmer (by accident, I suspect) uses the right word when he says (Brough Smyth, 77) that Australians, notwithstanding their brutal forms of marriage, often "get much attached to each other." At the same time it is easy to show that, if not among Australians or Indians, at any rate with such a people as the ancient Greeks, conjugal affection may have existed while romantic love was still impossible. The Greeks looked down on their women as inferior beings. Now one can feel affection—conjugal or friendly—toward an inferior, but one cannot feel adoration—and adoration is absolutely essential to romantic love. Before romantic love could be born it was necessary that women should not only be respected as equal to man but worshipped as his superior. This was not done by any of the lower or ancient races; hence romantic love is a peculiarly modern sentiment, later than any other form of human affection.


When Shakspere wrote that "The course of true love never did run smooth" he had in mind individual cases of courtship. But what is true of individuals also applies to the story of love itself. For many thousands of years savagery and barbarism "proved an unrelenting foe to love," and it was with almost diabolical ingenuity that obstacles to its birth and growth were maintained and multiplied. It was crushed, balked, discountenanced, antagonized, discredited, disheartened so persistently that the wonder is not that there should be so little true love even at the present day, but that there is any at all. A whole volume might be written on the Obstacles to Love; my original plan for this book included a long chapter on this matter; but partly to avoid repetition, partly to save space, I will condense my material to a few pages, considering briefly the following obstacles: I. Ignorance and stupidity. II. Coarseness and obscenity. III. War. IV. Cruelty. V. Masculine selfishness. VI. Contempt for women. VII. Capture and sale of brides. VIII. Infant marriages. IX. Prevention of free choice. X. Separation of the sexes. XI. Sexual taboos. XII. Race aversion. XIII. Multiplicity of languages. XIV. Social barriers. XV. Religious prejudice.


Intelligence alone does not imply a capacity for romantic love. Dogs are the most intelligent of all animals, but they know nothing of love; the most intelligent nations of antiquity—the Greeks, Romans and Hebrews—were strangers to this feeling; and in our times we have seen that such intelligent persons as Tolstoi, Zola, Groncourt, Flaubert have been confessedly unable to experience real love such as Turgenieff held up to them. On the other hand, there can be no genuine love without intelligence. It is true that maternal love exists among the lowly, but that is an instinct developed by natural selection, because without it the race could not have persisted. Conjugal attachment also was, as we have seen, necessary for the preservation of the race; whereas romantic love is not necessary for the preservation of the race, but is merely a means for its improvement; wherefore it developed slowly, keeping pace with the growth of the intellectual powers of discrimination, the gradual refinement of the emotions, and the removal of diverse obstacles created by selfishness, coarseness, foolish taboos, and prejudices. A savage lives entirely in his senses, hence sensual love is the only kind he can know. His love is as coarse and simple as his music, which is little more than a monotonous rhythmic noise. Just as a man, unless he has musical culture, cannot understand a Schumann symphony, so, unless he has intellectual culture, he cannot love a woman as Schumann loved Clara Wieck.

Stupid persons, men and women with blunt intellects, also have blunt feelings, excepting those of a criminal, vengeful kind. Savages have keener senses than we have, but their intellect and emotions are blunt and untrained. An Australian cannot count above ten, and Galton says (132) that Damaras in counting "puzzle very much after five, because no spare hand remains to grasp and secure the fingers that are required for units." Spix and Martins (384) found it very difficult to get any information from the Brazilian (Coroado) because "scarcely has one begun to question him about his language when he gets impatient, complains of headache, and shows that he cannot endure this effort"—for he is used to living entirely in and for his senses. Fancy such savages writing or reading a book like The Reveries of a Bachelor and you will understand why stupidity is an obstacle to love, and realize the unspeakable folly of the notion that love is always and everywhere the same. The savage has no imagination, and imagination is the organ of romantic love; without it there can be no sympathy, and without sympathy there can be no love.


Kissing and other caresses are, as we have seen, practices unknown to savages. Their nerves being too coarse to appreciate even the more refined forms of sensualism, it follows of necessity that they are too coarse to experience the subtle manifestations of imaginative sentimental love. Their national addiction to obscene practices and conversation proves an insuperable obstacle to the growth of refined sexual feelings. Details given in later chapters will show that what Turner says of the Samoans, "From their childhood their ears are familiar with the most obscene conversation;" and what the Rev. George Taplan writes of the "immodest and lewd" dances of the Australians, applies to the lower races in general. The history of love is, indeed, epitomized in the evolution of the dance from its aboriginal obscenity and licentiousness to its present function as chiefly a means of bringing young people together and providing innocent opportunities for courtship; two extremes differing as widely as the coarse drum accompaniment of a primitive dance from the sentimental melodies, soulful harmonies, and exquisite orchestral colors of a Strauss waltz. A remark made by Taine on Burns suggests how even acquired coarseness in a mind naturally refined may crush the capacity for true love:

"He had enjoyed too much…. Debauch had all but spoiled his fine imagination, which had before been 'the chief source of his happiness'; and he confessed that, instead of tender reveries, he had now nothing but sensual desires."

The poets have done much to confuse the public mind in this matter by their fanciful and impossible pastoral lovers. The remark made in my first book, that "only an educated mind can feel romantic love," led one of its reviewers to remark, half indignantly, half mournfully, "There goes the pastoral poetry of the world at a single stroke of the pen." Well, let it go. I am quite sure that if these poetic dreamers had ever come across a shepherdess in real life—dirty, unkempt, ignorant, coarse, immoral—they would themselves have made haste to disavow their heroines and seek less malodorous "maidens" for embodiments of their exalted fancies of love[128]. Richard Wagner was promptly disillusioned when he came across some of those modern shepherdesses, the Swiss dairy-maids. "There are magnificent women here in the Oberland," he wrote to a friend, "but only so to the eye; they are all tainted with rabid vulgarity."


Herbert Spencer has devoted some eloquent pages[129] to showing that along with chronic militancy there goes a brutal treatment of women, whereas industrial tribes are likely to treat their wives and daughters well. To militancy is due the disregard of women's claims shown in stealing or buying them, the inequality of status between the sexes entailed by polygamy; the use of women as laboring slaves, the life-and-death power over wife and child. To which we may add that war proves an obstacle to love, by fostering cruelty and smothering sympathy, and all the other tender feelings; by giving the coarsest masculine qualities of aggressiveness and brute prowess the aspect of cardinal virtues and causing the feminine virtues of gentleness, mercy, kindness, to be despised, and women themselves to be esteemed only in so far as they appropriate masculine qualities; and by fostering rape and licentiousness in general. When Plutarch wrote that "the most warlike nations are the most addicted to love," he meant, of course, lust. In wars of the past no incentive to brutal courage proved so powerful as the promise that the soldiers might have the women of captured cities. "Plunder if you succeed, and paradise if you fall. Female captives in the one case, celestial houris in the other"—such was, according to Burckhardt, the promise to their men given by Wahabi chiefs on the eve of battle.


Love depends on sympathy, and sympathy is incompatible with cruelty. It has been maintained that the notorious cruelty of the lower and war-like races is manifested only toward enemies; but this is an error. Some of the instances cited under "Sentimental Murder" and "Sympathy" show how often superstitious and utilitarian considerations smother all the family feelings. Three or four more illustrations may be added here. Burton says of the East Africans, that "when childhood is past, the father and son become natural enemies, after the manner of wild beasts." The Bedouins are not compelled by law or custom to support their aged parents, and Burckhardt (156) came across such men whom their sons would have allowed to perish. Among the Somals it frequently occurs that an old father is simply driven away and exposed to distress and starvation. Nay, incredible cases are related of fathers being sold as slaves, or killed. The African missionary, Moffat, one day came across an old woman who had been left to die within an enclosure. He asked her why she had been thus deserted, and she replied:

"I am old, you see, and no longer able to serve them [her grown children]. When they kill game, I am too feeble to aid in carrying home the flesh; I am incapable of gathering wood to make fire, and I cannot carry their children on my back as I used to do."


The South American Chiquitos, as Dobrizhoffer informs us (II., 264), used to kill the wife of a sick man, believing her to be the cause of his illness, and fancying that his recovery would follow her disappearance. Fijians have been known to kill and eat their wives, when they had no other use for them. Carl Bock (275) says of the Malays of Sumatra, that the men are extremely indolent and make the women their beasts of burden (as the lower races do in general).

"I have," he says,

"continually met a file of women carrying loads of rice or coffee on their heads, while the men would follow, lazily lounging along, with a long stick in their hands, like shepherds driving a flock of sheep…. I have seen a man go into his house, where his wife was lying asleep on the bed, rudely awake her, and order her to lie on the floor, while he made himself comfortable on the cushions."

But I need not add in this place any further instances to the hundreds given in other parts of this volume, revealing uncivilized man's disposition to regard woman as made for his convenience, both in this world and the next. Nor is it necessary to add that such an attitude is an insuperable obstacle to love, which in its essence is altruistic.


As late as the sixth century the Christian Provincial Council of Macon debated the question whether women have souls. I know of no early people, savage, barbarous, semi-civilized or civilized—from the Australian to the Greek—in which the men did not look down on the women as inferior beings. Now contempt is the exact opposite of adoration, and where it prevails there can of course be no romantic love.[130]


In the Homeric poems we read much about young women who were captured and forced to become the concubines of the men who had slain their fathers, brothers, and husbands. Other brides are referred to as [Greek: alphesiboiai], wooed with rich presents, literally "bringing in oxen." Among other ancient nations—Assyrians, Hebrews, Babylonians, Chaldeans, etc., brides had to be bought with property or its equivalent in service (as in the case of Jacob and Rachel). Serving for a bride until the parents feel repaid for their selfish trouble in bringing her up, also prevails among savages as low as the African Bushman and the Fuegian Indians, and is not therefore, as Herbert Spencer holds, a higher or later form of "courtship" than capture or purchase. But it is less common than purchase, which has been a universal custom. "All over the earth," says Letourneau (137),

"among all races and at all times, wherever history gives us information, we find well-authenticated examples of marriage by purchase, which allows us to assert that during the middle period of civilization, the right of parents over their children, and especially over their daughters, included in all countries the privilege of selling them."

In Australia a knife or a glass bottle has been held sufficient compensation for a wife. A Tartar parent will sell his daughter for a certain number of sheep, horses, oxen, or pounds of butter; and so on in innumerable regions. As an obstacle to free choice and love unions, nothing more effective could be devised; for what Burckhardt writes (B. and W., I., 278) of the Egyptian peasant girls has a general application. They are, he says, "sold in matrimony by their fathers to the highest bidders; a circumstance that frequently causes the most mean and unfeeling transactions."

In his collection of Esthonian folk-songs Neus has a poem which pathetically pictures the fate of a bartered bride. A girl going to the field to cut flax meets a young man who informs her bluntly that she belongs to him, as he has bought her. "And who undertook to sell me?" she asks. "Your father and mother, your sister and brother," he replies, adding frankly that he won the father's favor with a present of a horse, the mother's with a cow, the sister's with a bracelet, the brother's with an ox. Then the unwilling bride lifts her voice and curses the family: "May the father's horse rot under him; may the mother's cow yield blood instead of milk!" Hundreds of millions of bartered brides have borne their fate more meekly. It is needless to add that what has been said here applies a fortiori to captured brides.


Of the diabolical habit of forcing girls into marriage before they had reached the age of puberty and its wide prevalence I have already spoken (293), and reference will be made to it in many of the pages following this. Here I may, therefore, confine myself to a few details relating to one country, by way of showing vividly what a deadly obstacle to courtship, free choice, love, and every tender and merciful feeling, this cruel custom forms. Among all classes and castes of Hindoos it has been customary from time immemorial to unite boys of eight; seven, even six years, to girls still younger. It is even prescribed by the laws of Manu that a man of twenty-four should marry a girl of eight. Old Sanscrit verses have been found declaring that "the mother, father, and oldest brother of a girl shall all be damned if they allow her to reach maturity without being married;" and the girl herself, in such a case, is cast out into the lowest class, too low for anyone to marry her.[131] In some cases marriage means merely engagement, the bride remaining at home with her parents, who do not part with her till some years later. Often, however, the husband takes immediate possession of his child-wife, and the consequences are horrible. Of 205 cases reported in a Bengal Medico-Legal Report, 5 ended fatally, 38 were crippled, and the general effect of such cruelty is pathetically touched on by Mme. Ryder, who found it impossible to describe the anguish she felt when she saw these half-developed females, with their expression of hopeless suffering, their skeleton arms and legs, marching behind their husbands at the prescribed distance, with never a smile on their faces.

It would be a mistake to seek a partial excuse for this inhumanity in the early maturing effects of a warm climate. Mme. Ryder expressly states that a Hindoo girl of ten, instead of seeming older than a European girl of that age, resembles our children at five or six years.


One of the unfortunate consequences of Darwin's theory of sexual selection was that it made him assume that

"in utterly barbarous tribes the women have more power in choosing, rejecting, and tempting their lovers, or of afterward exchanging their husbands than might have been expected. As this is a point of importance,"

he adds, "I will give in detail such evidence as I have been able to collect;" which he proceeds to do. This "evidence in detail" consists of three cases in Africa, five among American Indians, and a few others among Fijians, Kalmucks, Malayans, and the Korarks of Northeastern Asia. Having referred to these twelve cases, he proceeds with his argument, utterly ignoring the twelve hundred facts that oppose his assumption—a proceeding so unlike his usual candid habit of stating the difficulties confronting him, that this circumstance alone indicates how shaky he felt in regard to this point. Moreover, even the few instances he cites fail to bear out his doctrine. It is incomprehensible to me how he could claim the Kaffirs for his side. Though these Africans "buy their wives, and girls are severely beaten by their fathers if they will not accept a chosen husband, it is nevertheless manifest," Darwin writes, "from many facts given by the Rev. Mr. Shooter, that they have considerable power of choice. Thus, very ugly, though rich men, have been known to fail in getting wives." What Shooter really does (50) is to relate the case of a man so ill-favored that he had never been able to get a wife till he offered a big sum to a chief for one of his wards. She refused to go, but "her arms were bound and she was delivered like a captive. Later she escaped and claimed the protection of a rival chief."

In other words, this man did not fail to get a wife, and the girl had no choice. Darwin ignores the rest of Shooter's narrative (55-58), which shows that while perhaps as a rule moral persuasion is first tried before physical violence is used, the girl in any case is obliged to take the man chosen for her. The man is highly praised in her presence, and if she still remains obstinate she has to "encounter the wrath of her enraged father … the furious parent will hear nothing—go with her husband she must—if she return she shall be slain." Even if she elopes with another man she "may be forcibly brought back and sent to the one chosen by her father," and only by the utmost perseverance can she escape his tyranny. Leslie (whom Darwin cites) is therefore wrong when he says "it is a mistake to imagine that a girl is sold by her father in the same manner, and with the same authority, with which he would dispose of a cow." Those who knew the Kaffirs most intimately agree with Shooter; the Rev. W.C. Holden, e.g., who writes in his elaborate work, The Past and Future of the Kaffir Races (189-211) that "it is common for the youngest, the healthiest, … the handsomest girls to be sold to old men who perhaps have already half-a-dozen concubines," and whom the work of these wives has made rich enough to buy another. A girl is in many instances "compelled by torture to accept the man she hates. The whole is as purely a business transaction as the bartering of an ox or buying a horse." From Dugmore's Laws and Customs he cites the following: "It sometimes occurs that the entreaties of the daughter prevail over the avarice of the father; but such cases, the Kaffirs admit, are rare … the highest bidder usually gains the prize." Holden adds that when a girl is obstreperous "they seize her by main strength, and drag her on the ground, as I have repeatedly seen;" and in his chapter on polygamy he gives the most harrowing details of the various cruelties practised on the poor girls who do not wish to be sold like cows.

That Kaffir girls "have been known to propose to a man," as Darwin says, does not indicate that they have a choice, any more than the fact that they "not rarely run away with a favored lover." They might propose to a hundred men and not have their choice; and as for the elopement, that in itself shows they have no liberty of choice; for if they had they would not be obliged to run away. Finally, how could Darwin reconcile his attitude with the remark of C. Hamilton, cited by himself, that with the Kaffirs "the chiefs generally have the pick of the women for many miles round, and are most persevering in establishing or confirming their privilege"?

I have discussed this case "in detail" in order to show to what desperate straits a hopeless theory may reduce a great thinker. To suppose that in this "utterly barbarous tribe" the looks of the race can be gradually improved by the women accepting only those males who "excite or charm them most" is simply grotesque. Nor is Darwin much happier with his other cases. When he wrote that "Among the degraded Bushmen of Africa" (citing Burchell) "'when a girl has grown up to womanhood without having been betrothed, which, however, does not often happen, her lover must gain her approbation as well as that of her parents'"—the words I have italicized ought to have shown him that this testimony was not for but against his theory. Burchell himself tells us that Bushman girls "are most commonly betrothed" when about seven years old, and become mothers at twelve, or even at ten. To speak of choice in such cases, in any rational sense of the word, would be farcical even if the girls were free to do as they please, which they are not. With regard to the Fuegians, Darwin cites King and Fitzroy to the effect that the Indian obtains the consent of the parents by doing them some service, and then attempts to carry off the girl; "but if she is unwilling, she hides herself in the woods until her admirer is heartily tired of looking for her and gives up his pursuit; but this seldom happens." If this passage means anything, it means that it is customary for the parents to decide upon who is to marry their daughters, and that, though she may frustrate the plan, "this seldom happens." Darwin further informs us that "Hearne describes how a woman in one of the tribes of Arctic America repeatedly ran away from her husband and joined her lover." How much this single instance proves in regard to woman's liberty of choice or power to aid sexual selection, may be inferred from the statement by the same "excellent observer" of Indian traits (as Darwin himself calls him) that "it has ever been the custom among these people to wrestle for any woman to whom they are attached; and, of course, the strongest party always carries off the prize"—an assertion borne out by Richardson (II., 24) and others. But if the strongest man "always carries off the prize," where does woman's choice come in? Hearne adds that "this custom prevails throughout all their tribes" (104). And while the other Indian instances referred to by Darwin indicate that in case of decided aversion a girl is not absolutely compelled, as among the Kaffirs, to marry the man selected for her, the custom nevertheless is for the parents to make the choice, as among most Indians, North and South.

Whereas Darwin's claim that primitive women have "more power" to decide their fate as regards marriage "than might have been expected," is comparatively modest, Westermarck goes so far as to declare that these women "are not, as a rule, married without having any voice of their own in the matter." He feels compelled to this course because he realizes that his theory that savages originally ornamented themselves in order to make themselves attractive to the opposite sex "presupposes of course that savage girls enjoy great liberty in the choice of a mate." In the compilation of his evidence, unfortunately, Westermarck is even less critical and reliable than Darwin. In reference to the Bushmen, he follows Darwin's example in citing Burchell, but leaves out the words "which, however, does not often happen," which show that liberty of choice on the woman's part is not the rule but a rare exception.[132] He also claims the Kaffirs, though, as I have just shown, such a claim is preposterous. To the evidence already cited on my side I may add Shooter's remarks (55), that if there are several lovers the girl is asked to decide for herself. "This, however, is merely formal," for if she chooses one who is poor the father recommends to her the one of whom he calculated to get the most cattle, and that settles the matter. Not even the widows are allowed the liberty of choice, for, as Shooter further informs us (86), "when a man dies those wives who have not left the kraal remain with the eldest son. If they wish to marry again, they must go to one of their late husband's brothers." Among the African women "who have no difficulty in getting the husbands whom they may desire," Westermarck mentions the Ashantees, on the authority of Beecham (125). On consulting that page of Beecham I find that he does indeed declare that "no Ashantee compels his daughter to become the wife of one she dislikes;" but this is a very different thing from saying that she can choose the man she may desire. "In the affair of courtship," writes Beecham, "the wishes of the female are but little consulted; the business being chiefly settled between the suitor and her parents." And in the same page he adds that "it is not infrequently the case that infants are married to each other … and infants are also frequently wedded to adults, and even to elderly men," while it is also customary "to contract for a child before it is born." The same destructive criticism might be applied to other negroes of Western Africa whom both Darwin and Westermarck claim on the very dubious evidence of Reade.[133]

Among other peoples to whom Westermarck looks for support of his argument are the Fijians, Tongans, and natives of New Britain, Java, and Sumatra. He claims the Fijians on the peculiar ground (the italics are mine) that among them "forced marriages are comparatively rare among the higher classes." That may be; but are not the higher classes a small minority? And do not all classes indulge in the habits of infant betrothal and of appropriating women by violence without consulting their wishes? Regarding the Tongans, Westermarck cites the supposition of Mariner that perhaps two-thirds of the girls had married with their own free consent; which does not agree with the observations of Vason (144), who spent four years among them:

"As the choice of a husband is not in the power of the daughters but he is provided by the discretion of the parents, an instance of refusal on the part of the daughter is unknown in Tonga."

He adds that this is not deemed a hardship there, where divorce and unchastity are so general.

"In the New Britain Group, according to Mr. Romilly, after the man has worked for years to pay for his wife, and is finally in a position to take her to his house, she may refuse to go, and he cannot claim back from the parents the large sums he has paid them in yams, cocoa-nuts, and sugar-canes."

This Westermarck guilelessly accepts as proof of the liberty of choice on the girl's part, missing the very philosophy of the whole matter. Why are girls not allowed in so many cases to choose their own husbands? Because their selfish parents want to benefit by selling them to the highest bidder. In the above case, on the contrary, as the italics show, the selfish parents benefit by making the girl refuse to go with that man, keeping her as a bait for another profitable suitor. In all probability she refuses to go with him at the positive command of her parents. What the real state of affairs is on the New Britain Group we may gather from the revelations given in an article on the marriage customs of the natives by the Rev. B. Danks in the Journal of the Anthropological Institute (1888, 290-93): In New Britain, he says, "the marriage tie has much the appearance of a money tie." There are instances of sham capture, when there is much laughter and fun;

"but in many cases which came under my notice it was not a matter of form but painful earnestness." "It often happens that the young woman has a liking for another and none for the man who has purchased her. She may refuse to go to him. In that case her friends consider themselves disgraced by her conduct. She ought, according to their notions, to fall in with their arrangements with thankfulness and gladness of heart! They drag her along, beat her, kick and abuse her, and it has been my misfortune to see girls dragged past my house, struggling in vain to escape from their fate. Sometimes they have broken loose and then ran for the only place of refuge in all the country, the mission-house. I could render them no assistance until they had bounded up the steps of my veranda into our bedroom and hidden themselves under the bed, trembling for their lives. It has been my privilege and duty to stand between the infuriated brother or father, who has followed close upon the poor girl, spear in hand, vowing to put her to death for the disgrace she has brought upon them." "Liberty of choice,"


"In some parts of Java, much deference is paid to the bride's inclinations," writes Westermarck. But Earl declares (58) that among the Javanese "courtship is carried on entirely through the medium of the parents of the young people, and any interference on the part of the bride would be considered highly indecorous," And Raffles writes (I., Ch. VII.) that in Java "marriages are invariably contracted, not by the parties themselves, but by their parents or relations on their behalf." Betrothals of children, too, are customary. Regarding the Sumatrans, Westermarck cites Marsden to the effect that among the Rejang a man may run away with a virgin without violating the laws, provided he pays her parents for her afterward—which tells us little about the girl's choice. But why does he ignore Marsden's full account, a few pages farther on, of Sumatran marriages in general? There are four kinds, one of which, he says, is a regular treaty between the parties on a footing of equality; this is called marriage by semando. In the jujur a sum of money is given by one man to another "as a consideration for the person of his daughter, whose situation in this case differs not much from that of a slave to the man she marries, and to his family." In other cases one virgin is given in exchange for another, and in the marriage by ambel anak the father of a young man chooses a wife for him. Finally he shows that the customs of Sumatrans do not favor courtship, the young men and women being kept carefully apart.

At first sight Westermarck's chapter on the Liberty of Choice seems rather imposing, as it consists of twenty-seven pages, while Darwin devoted only two to the subject. In reality, however, Westermarck has filled only eight pages with what he considers proofs of his theory, and after scouring the whole world he has not succeeded in bringing together thirty cases which stand the test of critical examination. I grant him, though in several instances with suspicions, some American Indian tribes, natives of Arorae, of the Society Islands, Micronesians in general (?), Dyaks, Minabassers of Celebes, Burmese, Shans, Chittagong Hill tribes, and a few other wild tribes of India, possibly some aboriginal Chinese tribes, Ainos, Kamchadales, Jakuts, Ossetes, Kalmucks, Aenezes, Touaregs, Shulis, Madis, the ancient Cathaei and Lydians. My reasons for rejecting his other instances have already been given in part, and most of the other cases will be disposed of in the pages relating to Australians, New Zealanders, American Indians, Hindoos, and Wild Tribes of India. In the chapter on Australia, after commenting on Westermarck's preposterous attempt to include that race in his list in the face of all the authorities, I shall explain also why it is not likely that, as he maintains, still more primitive races allowed their women greater freedom of choice than modern savages enjoy in his opinion.

To become convinced that the women of the lower races do not "as a rule" enjoy the liberty of choice, we need only contrast the meagre results obtained by Darwin and Westermarck with the vast number of races and tribes whose customs indicate that women are habitually given in marriage without being consulted as to their wishes. Among these customs are infant marriage, infant betrothal, capture, purchase, marrying whole families of sisters, and the levirate. It is true that some of these customs do not affect all members of the tribes involved, but the very fact of their prevalence shows that the idea of consulting a woman's preference does not enter into the heads of the men, barring a few cases, where a young woman is so obstreperous that she may at any rate succeed in escaping a hated suitor, though even this (which is far from implying liberty of choice) is altogether exceptional. We must not allow ourselves to be deceived by appearances, as in the case of the Moors of Senegambia, concerning whom Letourneau says (138) that a daughter has the right to refuse the husband selected for her, on condition of remaining unmarried; if she marries another, she becomes the slave of the man first selected for her. Of the Christian Abyssinians, Combes and Tamisier say (II., 106) that the girls are never "seriously" consulted; and "at Sackatou a girl is usually consulted by her parents, but only as a matter of form; she never refuses." (Letourneau, 139.) The same may be said of China and Japan, where the sacred duty of filial obedience is so ingrained in a girl's soul that she would never dream of opposing her parents' wishes.

Of the horrible custom of marrying helpless girls before they are mature in body or mind—often, indeed, before they have reached the age of puberty—I have already spoken, instancing some Borneans, Javanese, Egyptians, American Indians, Australians, Hottentots, natives of Old Calabar, Hindoos; to which may be added some Arabs and Persians, Syrians, Kurds, Turks, natives of Celebes, Madagascar, Bechuanas, Basutos, and many other Africans, etc. As for those who practise infant betrothal, Westermarck's own list includes Eskimos, Chippewayans, Botocudos, Patagonians, Shoshones, Arawaks, Macusis, Iroquois; Gold Coast negroes, Bushmen, Marutse, Bechuanas, Ashantees, Australians; tribes of New Guinea, New Zealand, Tonga, Tahiti, and many other islands of the South Sea; some tribes of the Malay Archipelago; tribes of British India; all peoples of the Turkish stock; Samoyedes and Tuski; Jews of Western Russia.

As regards capture, good authorities now hold that it was not a universal practice in all parts of the world; yet it prevailed very widely—for instance, among Aleutian Islanders, Ahts, Bonaks, Macas Indians of Ecuador, all Carib tribes, some Brazilians, Mosquito Indians, Fuegians; Bushmen, Bechuanas, Wakamba, and other Africans; Australians, Tasmanians, Maoris, Fijians, natives of Samoa, Tukopia, New Guinea, Indian Archipelago; wild tribes of India; Arabs, Tartars, and other Central Asians; some Russians, Laplanders, Esthonians, Finns, Greeks, Romans, Teutons, Scandinavians, Slavonians, etc. "The list," says Westermarck (387), "might easily be enlarged." As for the list of peoples among whom brides were sold—usually to the highest bidder and without reference to feminine choice—that would be much larger still. Eight pages are devoted to it and two only to the exceptions, by Westermarck himself, who concludes (390) that "Purchase of wives may, with even more reason than marriage by capture, be said to form a general stage in the social history of mankind," How nearly universal the practice is, or has been, may be inferred from the fact that Sutherland (I., 208), after examining sixty-one negro races, found fifty-seven recorded as purchasing their wives.

Widely prevalent also was the custom of allowing a man who had married a girl to claim all her sisters as soon as they reached a marriageable age. Whatever their own preferences might be, they had no choice. Among the Indian tribes alone, Morgan mentions forty who indulged in this custom. As for the levirate, that is another very wide-spread custom which shows an utter disregard of woman's preference and choice. It might be supposed that widows, at any rate, ought always to be allowed, in case they wished to marry again, to follow their own choice. But they are, like the daughters, regarded as personal property, and are inherited by their late husband's brother or some other male relative, who marries them himself or disposes of them as he pleases. Whether the acceptance of a brother's widow or widows is a right or a duty (prescribed by the desire for sons and ancestor-worship) is immaterial for our purpose; for in either case the widow must go as custom commands, and has no liberty of choice. The levirate prevails, or has prevailed, among a great number of races, from the lowest to those considerably advanced.

The list includes Australians, many Indians, from the low Brazilians to the advanced Iroquois, Aleuts, Eskimos, Fijians, Samoans, Caroline Islanders, natives of New Caledonia, New Guinea, New Britain, New Hebrides, the Malay Archipelago, Wild tribes of India, Kamchadales, Ostiaks, Kirghiz, Mongolians in general, Arabs, Egyptians, Hebrews, natives of Madagascar, many Kaffir tribes, negroes of the Gold Coast, Senegambians, Bechuanas, and a great many other Africans, etc.

Twelve pages of Westermarck's chapter on the Liberty of Choice are devoted to peoples among whom not even a son is, or was, allowed to marry without the father's consent. The list includes Mexicans, Guatemalans, Nicaraguans, Chinese, Japanese, Hebrews, Egyptians, Romans, Greeks, Hindoos, Germans, Celts, Russians, etc. In all these cases the daughters, of course, enjoyed still less liberty of disposing of their hand. In short, the argument against Darwin and Westermarck is simply overwhelming—all the more when we look at the numbers of the races who do not permit women their choice—the 400,000,000 Chinese, 300,000,000 Hindoos, the Mohammedan millions, the whole continent of Australia, nearly all of aboriginal America and Africa, etc.

A drowning man clings to a straw. "In Indian and Scandinavian tales,"
Westermarck informs us,

"virgins are represented as having the power to dispose of themselves freely. Thus it was agreed that Skade should choose for herself a husband among the Asas, but she was to make her choice by the feet, the only part of their persons she was allowed to see."

Obviously the author of this tale from the Younger Edda had more sense of humor than some modern anthropologists have. No less topsy-turvy is the Hindoo Svayamvara or "Maiden's Choice," to which Westermarck alludes (162). This is an incident often referred to in epics and dramas. "It was a custom in royal circles," writes Samuelson, "when a princess became marriageable, for a tournament to be held, and the victor was chosen by the princess as her husband." If the sarcasm of the expression "Maiden's Choice" is unconscious, it is all the more amusing. How far Hindoo women of all classes were and are from enjoying the liberty of choice, we shall see in the chapter on India.


I have given so much space to the question of choice because it is one of exceptional importance. Where there is no choice there can he no real courtship, and where there is no courtship there is no opportunity for the development of those imaginative and sentimental traits which constitute the essence of romantic love. It by no means follows, however, that where choice is permitted to girls, as with the Dyaks, real love follows as a matter of course; for it may be prevented, as it is in the case of these Dyaks, by their sensuality, coarseness, and general emotional shallowness and sexual frivolity. The prevention of choice is only one of the obstacles to love, but it is one of the most formidable, because it has acted at all times and among races of all degrees of barbarism or civilization up to modern Europe of two or three centuries ago. And to the frustration and free choice was added another obstacle—the separation of the sexes. Some Indians and even Australians tried to keep the sexes apart, though usually without much success. In their cause no harm was done to the cause of love, because these races are constitutionally incapable of romantic love; but in higher stages of civilization the strict seclusion of the women was a fatal obstacle to love. Wherever separation of the sexes and chaperonage prevails, the only kind of amorous infatuation possible, as a rule, is sensual passion, fiery but transient. To love a girl sentimentally—that is, for her mental beauty and moral refinement as well as her bodily charms—a man must get acquainted with her, be allowed to meet her frequently. This was not possible until within a few generations. The separation of the sexes, by preventing all possibility of refined and legitimate courtship, favored illicit amours on one side, loveless marriages on the other, thus proving one of the most formidable obstacles to love. "It is not enough to give time for mutual knowledge and affection after marriage," wrote the late Henry Drummond.

"Nature must deepen the result by extending it to the time before marriage…. Courtship, with its vivid perceptions and quickened emotions, is a great opportunity for evolution; and to institute and lengthen reasonably a period so rich in impression is one of its latest and brightest efforts."


If a law were passed compelling every man living in Rochester, N.Y., who wanted a wife to get her outside of that city, in Buffalo, Syracuse, Utica, or some other place, it would be considered an outrageous restriction of free choice, calculated to diminish greatly the chances of love-matches based on intimate acquaintance. If such a law had existed for generations and centuries, sanctioned by religion and custom and so strictly enforced that violation of it entailed the danger of capital punishment, a sentiment would have grown up in course of time making the inhabitants of Rochester look upon marriage within the city with the same horror as they do upon incestuous unions. This is not an absurd or fanciful supposition. Such laws and customs actually did prevail in this very section of New York State. The Seneca tribe of the Iroquois Indians was divided into two phratries, each of which was again subdivided into four clans, named after their totems or animals; the Bear, Wolf, Beaver, and Turtle clans belonging to one phratry, while the other included the Deer, Snipe, Heron, and Hawk clans. Morgan's researches show that originally an Indian belonging to one phratry could marry a woman belonging to the other only. Subsequently the line was drawn less strictly, but still no Indian was allowed to marry a squaw of his own clan, though there might be no blood, relationship between them. If an Algonkin married a girl of his clan he committed a crime for which his nearest relatives might put him to death. This law has prevailed widely among the wild races in various parts of the globe. McLennan, who first called attention to its prevalence and importance, called it exogamy, or marrying-out.

What led to this custom is not known definitely; nearly every anthropologist has his own theory on the subject.[134] Luckily we are not concerned here with the origin and causes of exogamy, but only with the fact of its existence. It occurs not only among barbarians of a comparatively high type, like the North American Indians, but among the lowest Australian savages, who put to death any man who marries or assaults a woman of the same clan as his. In some Polynesian islands, among the wild tribes of India as well as the Hindoos, in various parts of Africa, the law of exogamy prevails, and wherever it exists it forms a serious obstacle to free choice—i.e., free love, in the proper sense of the expression. As Herbert Spencer remarks,

"The exogamous custom as at first established [being connected with capture] implies an extremely abject condition of women; a brutal treatment of them; an entire absence of the higher sentiments that accompany the relations of the sexes."

While exogamy thwarts love by minimizing the chances of intimate acquaintance and genuine courtship, there is another form of sexual taboo which conversely and designedly frustrates the tendency of intimate acquaintance to ripen into passion and love. Though we do not know just how the horror of incest arose, there can be no doubt that there must be a natural basis for so strong and widely prevalent a sentiment. In so far as this horror of incest prevents the marriage of near relatives, it is an obstacle to love that must be commended as doubtless useful to the race. But when we find that in China there are only 530 surnames, and that a man who marries a woman of the same surname is punished for the crime of "incest"; that the Church under Theodosius the Great forbade the union of relatives to the seventh degree; that in many countries a man could not wed a relative by marriage; that in Rome union with an adopted brother or sister was as rigidly forbidden as with a real sister or brother;—when we come across such facts we see that artificial and foolish notions regarding incest must be added to the long list of agencies that have retarded the growth of free choice and true love. And it should be noted that in all these cases of exogamy and taboos of artificial incest, the man's liberty of choice was restricted as well as the woman's. Thus our cumulative evidence against the Darwin-Westermarck theory of free choice is constantly gaining in weight.


Max O'Rell once wrote that he did not understand how there could be such a thing as mulattoes in the world. It is certainly safe to say that there are none such as a consequence of love. The features, color, odor, tastes, and habits of one race have ever aroused the antagonism of other races and prevented the growth of that sympathy which is essential to love. In a man strong passion may overcome the aversion to a more or less enduring union with a woman of a lower race, just as extreme hunger may urge him to eat what his palate would normally reject; but women seem to be proof against this temptation to stoop: in mixed marriages it is nearly always the man who belongs to the superior race. At first thought it might seem as if this racial aversion could not do much to retard the growth of free choice and love, since in early times, when facilities for travel were poor, the races could not mix anyway as they do now. But this would be a great error. Migrations, wars, slave-making and plundering expeditions have at all times commingled the peoples of the earth, yet nothing is more remarkable than the stubborn tenacity of racial prejudices.

"Count de Gobineau remarks that not even a common religion and country can extinguish the hereditary aversion of the Arab to the Turk, of the Kurd to the Nestorian of Syria, of the Magyar to the Slav. Indeed, so strong, among the Arabs, is the instinct of ethnical isolation that, as a traveller relates, at Djidda, where sexual morality is held in little respect, a Bedouin woman may yield herself for money to a Turk or European, but would think herself forever dishonored if she were joined to him in lawful wedlock."[135]

We might suppose that the coarser races would be less capable of such aversions than the half-civilized, but the contrary is true. In Australia nearly every tribe is the deadly enemy of every other tribe, and according to Chapman a Bushman woman would consider herself degraded by intercourse with anyone not belonging to her tribe. "Savage nations," says Humboldt, in speaking of the Chaymas of New Andalusia,

"are subdivided into an infinity of tribes, which, bearing a cruel hatred toward each other, form no intermarriages, even when their languages spring from the same root, and when only a small arm of a river, or a group of hills, separates their habitation."

Here there is no chance for Leanders to swim across the waters to meet their Heros. Poor Cupid! Everybody and everything seems to be against him.


Apart from racial prejudice there is the further obstacle of language. A man cannot court a girl and learn to love her sentimentally unless he can speak to her. Now Africa alone has 438 languages, besides a number of dialects. Dr. Finsch says (38) that on the Melanasian island of Tanua nearly every village has a dialect of its own which those of the next village cannot understand; and this is a typical case. American Indians usually communicate with each other by means of a sign language. India has countless languages and dialects, and in Canton the Chinamen from various parts of the Empire have to converse with each other in "pidjin English." The Australians, who are perhaps all of one race, nevertheless have no end of different names for even so common a thing as the omnipresent kangaroo.[136] In Brazil, says von Martins, travellers often come across a language

"used only by a few individuals connected with each other by relationship, who are thus completely isolated, and can hold no communication with any of their other countrymen far or near";

and how great was the confusion of tongues among other South American Indians may be inferred from the statement (Waitz, III., 355) that the Caribs were so much in the habit of capturing wives from different tribes and peoples that the men and women of each tribe never spoke the same language. Under such circumstances a wife might become attached to her husband as a captured, mute, and maltreated dog might to his master; but romantic love is as utterly out of the question as it is between master and dog.


Not content with hating one another cordially, the different races, peoples, and tribes have taken special pains at all times and everywhere to erect within their own limits a number of barriers against free choice and love. In France, Germany, and other European countries there is still a strong prejudice against marriages between nobles and commoners, though the commoner may be much nobler than the aristocrat in everything except the genealogical table. Civilization is gradually destroying this obstacle to love, which has done so much to promote immorality and has led to so many tragedies involving a number of kings and princes, victims to the illusion that accident of birth is nobler than brains or refinement. But among the ancient civilized and mediaeval peoples the social barrier was as rigidly held up as the racial prejudices. Milman remarks, in his History of Latin Christianity (I., 499, 528), that among the ancient Romans

"there could be no marriages with slaves [though slaves, being captives, were not necessarily of a lower rank, but might be princesses]…. The Emperor Valentinian further defined low and abject persons who might not aspire to lawful union with freemen—actresses, daughters of actresses, tavern-keepers, the daughters of tavern-keepers, procurers (leones) or gladiators, or those who had kept a public shop…. Till Roman citizenship had been imparted to the whole Roman Empire, it would not acknowledge marriage with barbarians to be more than a concubinage. Cleopatra was called only in scorn the wife of Antony. Berenice might not presume to be more than the mistress of Titus. The Christian world closed marriages again within still more and more jealous limits. Interdictory statutes declared marriages with Jews and heathens not only invalid but adulterous."

"The Salic and Ripuarian law condemned the freeman guilty of this degradation [marrying a slave] to slavery; where the union was between a free woman and a slave, that of the Lombards and of the Burgundians, condemned both parties to death; but if her parents refused to put her to death, she became a slave of the crown. The Ripuarian law condemned the female delinquent to slavery; but the woman had the alternative of killing her base-born husband. She was offered a distaff and a sword. If she chose the distaff she became a slave; if a sword she struck it to the heart of her paramour and emancipated herself from her degrading connection."

In mediaeval Germany the line was so sharply drawn between the social classes that for a long time slavery, or even death, was the punishment for a mixed marriage. In course of time this barbarous custom fell into disuse, but free choice continued to be discouraged by the law that if a man married a woman beneath him in rank, neither she nor her children were raised to his rank, and in case of his death she had no claim to the usual provisions legally made for widows.

In India the caste prejudices are so strong and varied that they form almost insuperable barriers to free love-choice. "We find castes within castes," says Sir Monier Williams (153), "so that even the Brahmans are broken up and divided into numerous races, which again are subdivided into numerous tribes, families, or sub-castes," and all these, he adds, "do not intermarry." In Japan, until three decades ago, social barriers as to marriage were rigidly enforced, and in China, to this day, slaves, boatmen, actors, policemen, can marry women of their own class only. Nor are these difficulties eliminated at once as we descend the ladder of civilization. In Brazil, Central America, in the Polynesian and other Pacific Islands and elsewhere we find such barriers to free marriage, and among the Malayan Hovas of Madagascar even the slaves are subdivided into three classes, which do not intermarry! It is only among those peoples which are too low to be able to experience sentimental love anyway that this formidable obstacle of class prejudice vanishes, while race and tribal hatred remain in full force.


Among peoples sufficiently advanced to have dogmas, religion has always proved a strong barrier in the way of the free bestowal of affection. Not only have Mohammedans and Christians hated and shunned each other, but the different Christian sects for a long time detested and tabooed one another as cordially as they did the heathen and the Jews. Tertullian denounced the marriage of a Christian with a heathen as fornication, and Westermarck cites Jacobs's remark that

"the folk-lore of Europe regarded the Jews as something infra-human, and it would require an almost impossible amount of large toleration for a Christian maiden of the Middle Ages to regard union with a Jew as anything other than unnatural."

There are various minor obstacles that might be dwelt on, but enough has been said to make it clear why romantic love was the last of the sentiments to be developed.

Having considered the divers ingredients and different kinds of love and distinguished romantic love from sensual passion and sentimentality, as well as from conjugal affection, we are now in a position to examine intelligently and in some detail a number of races in all parts of the world, by way of further corroborating and emphasizing the conclusions reached.


What is the lowest of all human races? The Bushmen of South Africa, say some ethnologists, while others urge the claims of the natives of Australia, the Veddahs of Ceylon, or the Fuegians of South America. As culture cannot be measured with a yardstick, it is impossible to arrive at any definite conclusion. For literary and geographic reasons, which will become apparent later on, I prefer to begin the search for traces of romantic love with the Bushmen of South Africa. And here we are at once confronted by the startling assertion of the explorer James Chapman, that there is "love in all their marriages." If this is true—if there is love in all the marriages of what is one of the lowest human races—then I have been pursuing a will-o'-the-wisp in the preceding pages of this book, and it will be a waste of ink and paper to write another line. But is it true? Let us first see what manner of mortals these Bushmen are, before subjecting Mr. Chapman's special testimony to a cross-examination. The following facts are compiled from the most approved authorities.


The eminent anatomist Fritsch, in his valuable work on the natives of South Africa (386-407), describes the Bushmen as being even in physical development far below the normal standard. Their limbs are "horribly thin" in both sexes; both women and men are "frightfully ugly," and so much alike that, although they go about almost naked, it is difficult to tell them apart. He thinks they are probably the aboriginal inhabitants of Africa, scattered from the Cape to the Zambesi, and perhaps beyond. They are filthy in their habits, and "washing the body is a proceeding unknown to them." When the French anatomist Cuvier examined a Bushman woman, he was reminded of an ape by her head, her ears, her movements, and her way of pouting the lips. The language of the Bushmen has often been likened to the chattering of monkeys. According to Bleek, who has collected their tales, their language is of the lowest known type. Lichtenstein (II., 42) found the Bushman women like the men, "ugly in the extreme," adding that "they understand each other more by their gestures than by their speaking." "No one has a name peculiar to himself." Others have described them as having protuberant stomachs, prominent posteriors, hollowed-out backs, and "few ideas but those of vengeance and eating." They have only two numerals, everything beyond two being "much," and except in those directions where the struggle for life has sharpened their wits, their intellectual faculties in general are on a level with their mathematics. Their childish ignorance is illustrated by a question which some of them seriously asked Chapman (I., 83) one day—whether his big wagons were not the mothers of the little ones with slender tires.

How well their minds are otherwise adapted for such an intellectualized, refined, and esthetic feeling as love, may also be inferred from the following observations. Lichtenstein points out that while necessity has given them acute sight and hearing,

"they might almost be supposed to have neither taste, smell, nor feeling; no disgust is ever evinced by them at even the most nauseous kind of food, nor do they appear to have any feeling of even the most striking changes in the temperature of the atmosphere."

"No meat," says Chapman (I., 57), "in whatever state of decomposition, is ever discarded by Bushmen." They dispute carrion with wolves and vultures. Rabbits they eat skins and all, and their menu is varied by all sorts of loathsome reptiles and insects.

No other savages, says Lichtenstein, betray "so high a degree of brutal ferocity" as the Bushmen. They "kill their own children without remorse." The missionary Moffat says (57) that "when a mother dies whose infant is not able to shift for itself, it is, without any ceremony, buried alive with the corpse of its mother." Kicherer, another missionary, says

"there are instances of parents throwing their tender offspring to the hungry lion, who stands roaring before their cavern, refusing to depart till some peace-offering be made to him."

He adds that after a quarrel between husband and wife the one beaten is apt to take revenge by killing their child; and that, on various occasions, parents smother their children, cast them away in the desert, or bury them alive without remorse. Murder is an amusement, and is considered a praiseworthy act. Livingstone (M.T., 159) tells of a Bushman who thought his god would consider him a "clever fellow" because he had murdered a man, two women, and two children. When fathers and mothers become too old to be of any use, or to take care of themselves, they are abandoned in the desert to be devoured alive by wild beasts. "I have often reasoned with the natives on this cruel practice," says the missionary Moffat (99); "in reply to which, they would only laugh." "It appears an awful exhibition of human depravity," he adds, "when children compel their parents to perish for want, or to be devoured by beasts of prey in a desert, from no other motive but sheer laziness." Kicherer says there are a few cases of "natural affection" sufficient to raise these creatures to "a level with the brute creation," Moffat, too, refers to exceptional cases of kindness, but the only instance he gives (112) describes their terror on finding he had drunk some water poisoned by them, and their gladness when he escaped—which terror and gladness were, however, very probably inspired not by sympathy but by the idea of punishment at causing the death of a white man. Chapman himself, the chosen champion of the Bushmen, relates (I., 67) how, having heard of Bushmen rescuing and carrying home some Makalolos whom they had found dying of thirst in the desert, he believed it at first; but he adds:

"Had I at that time possessed a sufficient knowledge of native character, I should not have been so credulous as to have listened to this report, for the idea of Bushmen carrying human beings whom they had found half dead out of a desert implies an act of charity quite inconsistent with their natural disposition and habits."

Barrow declares (269) that if Bushmen come across a Hottentot guarding his master's cattle,

"not contented with putting him to immediate death, they torture him by every means of cruelty that their invention can frame, as drawing out his bowels, tearing off his nails, scalping, and other acts equally savage."

They sometimes bury a victim up to the neck in the ground and thus leave him to be pecked to death by crows.


And yet—I say it once more—we are asked to believe there is "love in all the marriages" of these fiendish creatures—beings who, as Kicherer says, live in holes or caves, where they "lie close together like pigs in a sty" and of whom Moffat declares that with the exception of Pliny's Troglodites "no tribe or people are surely more brutish, ignorant, and miserable." Our amazement at Chapman's assertion increases when we examine his argument more closely. Here it is (I., 258-59):

"Although they have a plurality of wives, which they also obtain by purchase, there is still love in all their marriages, and courtship among them is a very formal and, in some respects, a rather punctilious affair. When a young Bushman falls in love, he sends his sister to ask permission to pay his addresses; with becoming modesty the girl holds off in a playful, yet not scornful or repulsive manner if she likes him. The young man next sends his sister with a spear, or some other trifling article, which she leaves at the door of the girl's home. If this be not returned within the three or four days allowed for consideration, the Bushman takes it for granted that he is accepted, and gathering a number of his friends, he makes a grand hunt, generally killing an elephant or some other large animal and bringing the whole of the flesh to his intended father-in-law. The family now riot in an abundant supply…. After this the couple are proclaimed husband and wife, and the man goes to live with his father-in-law for a couple of winters, killing game, and always laying the produce of the chase at his feet as a mark of respect, duty, and gratitude."

It would take considerable ingenuity to condense into an equal number of lines a greater amount of ignorance and naïveté than this passage includes. And yet a number of anthropologists have accepted this passage serenely as expert evidence that there is love in all the marriages of the lowest of African races. Peschel was misled by it; Westermarck triumphantly puts it at the head of his cases intended to prove that "even very rude savages may have conjugal affection;" Moll meekly accepts it as a fact (Lib. Sex., Bd. I., Pt. 2, 403); and it seems to have made an impression on Katzel, and even on Fritsch. If these writers had taken the trouble to examine Chapman's qualifications for serving as a witness in anthropological questions, they would have saved themselves the humiliation of being thus duped. His very assertion that there is love in all Bushman marriages ought to have shown them what an untrustworthy witness he is; for a more reckless and absurd statement surely was never penned by any globe-trotter. There is not now, and there never has been, a people among whom love could be found in all marriages, or half the marriages. In another place (I., 43) Chapman gives still more striking evidence of his unfitness to serve as a witness. Speaking of the family of a Bamanwato chief, he says:

"I was not aware of this practice of early marriages until the wife of an old man I had engaged here to accompany us, a child of about eight years of age, was pointed out to me, and in my ignorance I laughed outright, until my interpreter explained the matrimonial usages of their people."

Chapman's own editor was tempted by this exhibition of ignorance to write the following footnote: "The author seems not to have been aware that such early marriages are common among the Hindoos." He might have added "and among most of the lower races."

The ignorance which made Chapman "laugh outright" when he was confronted by one of the most elementary facts of anthropology, is responsible for his reckless assertions in the paragraph above quoted. It is an ignorant assumption on his part that it is the feelings of "respect, duty, and gratitude" that make a Bushman provide his bride's father with game for a couple of winters. Such feelings are unknown to the Bushman's soul. Working for the bride's father is simply his way (if he has no property to give) of paying for his wife—an illustration of the widespread custom of service. If polygamy and the custom of purchasing wives do not, as Chapman intimates, prevent love from entering into all Bushman marriages, then these aborigines must be constructed on an entirely different plan from other human beings, among whom we know that polygamy crushes monopoly of affection, while a marriage by purchase is a purse-affair, not a heart-affair—the girl going nearly always to the highest bidder.

But Chapman's most serious error—the one on which he founded his theory that there is love in all Bushman marriages—lies in his assumption that the ceremony of sham capture indicates modesty and love, whereas, as we saw in the chapter on Coyness, it is a mere survival of capture, the most ruffianly way of securing a bride, in which her choice or feelings are absolutely disregarded, and which tells us nothing except that a man covets a woman and that she feigns resistance because custom, as taught by her parents, compels her to do so. Inasmuch as she must resist whether she likes the man or not, how could such sham "coyness" be a symptom of love? Moreover, it appears that even this sham coyness is exceptional, since, as Burchell informs us (II., 59), it is only when a girl grows up to womanhood without having been betrothed—"which, however, seldom happens"—that the female receives the man's attentions with such an "affectation of great alarm and disinclination on her part."

Burchell also informs us that a Bushman will take a second wife when the first one has become old, "not in years but in constitution;" and Barrow discovered the same thing (I., 276): "It appeared that it was customary for the elderly men to have two wives, one old and past child-bearing, the other young." Chapman, too, relates that a Bushman will often cast off his early wife and take a younger one, and as that does not prevent him from finding affection in their conjugal unions, we are enabled from this to infer that "love" means to him not enduring sympathy or altruistic capacity and eagerness for self-sacrifice, but a selfish, transient fondness continuing only as long as a woman is young and can gratify a man's sexual appetite. That kind of love doubtless does exist in all Bushman marriages.

Chapman further declares (II., 75) that these people lead "comparatively" chaste lives. I had supposed that, as an egg is either good or bad, so a man or woman is either chaste or unchaste. Other writers, who had no desire to whitewash savages, tell us not only "comparatively" but positively what Bushman morals are. A Bushman told Theophilus Halm (Globus, XVIII., 122) that quarrels for the possession of women often lead to murder; "nevertheless, the lascivious fellow assured me it was a fine thing to appropriate the wives of others." Wake (I., 205) says they lend their wives to strangers, and Lichtenstein tells us (II., 48) that "the wife is not indissolubly united to the husband; but when he gives her permission, she may go whither she will and associate with any other man." And again (42):

"Infidelity to the marriage compact is not considered a crime, it is scarcely regarded by the offended person…. They seem to have no idea of the distinction of girl, maiden, and wife; they are all expressed by one word alone. I leave every reader to draw from this single circumstance his own inference with regard to the nature of love and every kind of moral feeling among them."[137]

That this is not too severe a criticism is obvious from the fact that Lichtenstein, in judging savages, was rather apt to err on the side of leniency. The equally generous and amiable missionary Moffat (174-75) censures him, for instance, for his favorable view of the Bechuanas, saying that he was not with them long enough to know their real character. Had he dwelt among them, accompanied them on journeys, and known them as he (Moffat) did, "he would not have attempted to revive the fabled delights and bliss of ignorance reported to exist in the abodes of heathenism."

It is in comparison with these Bechuanas that Chapman calls the Bushmen moral, obviously confounding morality with licentiousness. Without having any moral principles at all, it is quite likely that the Bushmen are less licentious than their neighbors for the simple reason that they are less well-fed; for as old Burton remarks, for the most part those are "aptest to love that are young and lusty, live at ease, stall-fed, free from cares, like cattle in a rank pasture"—whereas the Bushmen are nearly always thin, half-starved denizens of the African deserts, enervated by constant fears, and so unmanly that "a single musket shot," says Lichtenstein, "will put a hundred to flight, and whoever rushes upon them with only a good stick in his hand has no reason to fear any resistance from ever so large a number."

Such men are not apt to be heroes among women in any sense. Indeed, Galton says (T.S.A., 178), "I am sure that Bushmen are, generally speaking, henpecked. They always consult their wives. The Damaras do not." Chapman himself, with unconscious humor, gives us (I., 391) a sample of the "love" which he found in "all Bushman marriages;" his remarks confirming at the same time the truth I dwelt on in the chapter on Individual Preference, that among savages the sexes are less individualized than with us, the men being more effeminate, the women viragoes:

"The passive and effeminate disposition of the men, of which we have had frequent reason to complain in the course of this narrative, was illustrated in the revel which accompanied the parting feast, when the men allowed themselves to be beaten by the women, who, I am told, are in the constant habit of belaboring their devoted husbands, in order to keep them in proper subjection. On this occasion the men got broken heads at the hands of their gentle partners; one had his nose, another his ear, nearly bitten off."

Notwithstanding this affectionate "constant habit" of breaking their husbands' heads, the Bushman women have not succeeded in teaching them even the rudiments of gallantry. "The woman is a beast of burden," says Hahn; "at the same time she is subjected to ill-treatment which not seldom leads to death." When camp is moved, the gallant husband carries his spear and quiver, the wife "does the rest," carrying the baby, the mat, the earthen cooking-pot, the ostrich shells, and a bundle of skins. If it happens, as it often does, that there is not enough to eat, the wife has to go hungry. In revenge she usually prepares her own food only, leaving him to do his own cooking. If a wife falls ill on the way to a new camping-place, she is left behind to perish. (Ratzel, I., 7.)

In conclusion, and as a climax to my argument, I will quote the testimony of three missionaries who did not simply make a flying visit or two to the country of the Bushmen, as Chapman did, but lived among them. The Rev. R. Moffat (49) cites the missionary Kicherer, "whose circumstances while living among them afforded abundant opportunities of becoming intimately acquainted with their real condition," and who wrote that the Bushmen "are total strangers to domestic happiness. The men have several wives, but conjugal affection is little known." This opinion is thus endorsed by Moffat, and a third missionary, the Rev. F. Fleming, wrote (167) that among Bushmen "conjugal affection seems totally unknown," and pre-matrimonial love is of course out of question in a region where girls are married as infants. The wife always has to work harder than the husband. If she becomes weak or ill she is unceremoniously left behind to starve. (Ratzel, I., 72.)


Darwin has well observed that a false argument is comparatively harmless because subsequent discussion is sure to demolish it, whereas a false fact may perplex speculation for ages. Chapman's assertion that there is love in all Bushman marriages is one of these false facts, as our cross-examination has shown. In passing now to the neighbors of the Bushmen, the Hottentots, let us bear in mind the lesson taught. They called themselves Khoi-Khoin, "men of men," while Van Riebeck's followers referred to them as "black stinking hounds." There is a prevalent impression that nearly all Africans are negroes. But the Hottentots are not negroes any more than are the Bushmen, or the Kaffirs, whom we shall consider next. Ethnologists are not agreed as to the relationship that exists between Bushmen and Hottentots, but it is certain that the latter represent a somewhat higher level of civilization. Yet, here again we must guard carefully against "false facts," especially in reference to the topic that interests us—the relations of the sexes. As late as 1896 the eminent American anthropologist, Dr. Brinton, had an article in Science (October 16th), in which he remarked that "one trait which we admire in Hottentots is their regard for women," He was led into making this assertion by an article entitled "Woman in Hottentot Poetry," which appeared in the German periodical Globus (Vol. 70, pp. 173-77). It was written by Dr. L. Jakobowski, and is quite as misleading as Chapman's book. Its logic is most peculiar. The writer first shows (to his own satisfaction) that the Hottentots treat their women somewhat better than other South Africans do, and from this "fact" he goes on to infer that they must have love-songs! He admits, indeed, that (with a few exceptions, to be presently considered) we know nothing of these songs, but it "seems certain" that they must be sung at the erotic dances of the natives; these, however, carefully conceal them from the missionaries, and as Jakobowski naïvely adds, to heed the missionaries "would be tantamount to giving up their old sensual dances."

What facts does Jakobowski adduce in support of his assertion that
Hottentots have a high regard for their women? He says:

"Without his wife's permission a Hottentot does not drink a drop of milk, and should he dare to do so, the women of his family will take away the cows and sheep and add them to their flocks. A girl has the right to punish her brother if he violates the laws of courtesy. The oldest sister may have him chained and punished, and if a slave who is being castigated implores his master by the name of his (the master's) sister to desist, the blows must cease or else the master is bound to pay a fine to the sister who has been invoked."


If all these statements were real facts—and we shall presently see that they are not—they would prove no more than that the modern Hottentots, like their neighbors, the Bushmen, are hen-pecked. Barrow (I., 286) speaks of the "timid and pusillanimous mind which characterizes the Hottentots," and elsewhere (144) he says that their

"impolitic custom of hording together in families, and of not marrying out of their own kraals, has, no doubt, tended to enervate this race of men, and reduced them to their present degenerated condition, which is that of a languid, listless, phlegmatic people, in whom the prolific powers of nature seem to be almost exhausted."

It does not, therefore, surprise us to be told (by Thunberg) that "it frequently happens that a woman marries two husbands." And these women are anything but feminine and lovable. One of the champions of the Hottentots, Theophilus Hahn, says (Globus, XII., 304) of the Namaqua women that they love to torture their slaves: "When they cudgel a slave one can easily read in their faces the infernal joy it gives them to witness the tortures of their victims." He often saw women belaboring the naked back of a slave with branches of the cruel acacia delinens, and finally rub salt or saltpetre into the wounds. Napier (I., 59) says of the Hottentots, that

"if the parents of a newly born child found him or her de trop, the poor little wretch was either mercilessly buried alive, or exposed in a thicket, there to be devoured by beasts of prey."

While he had to take it for granted that there must be love-songs among these cruel Hottentots, Jakobowski had no trouble in finding songs of hate, of defiance, and revenge. Even these cannot be cited without omitting objectionable words. Here is one, properly expurgated:

"Take this man away from me that he may be beaten and his mother weep over him and the worms eat him…. Let this man be brought before your counsel and cudgelled until not a shred of flesh remains on his … that the worms would care to eat; for the reason that he has done me such a painful injury," etc.


Jakobowski's assertion that a man's oldest sister may have him chained and punished is obviously a cock-and-bull story. It is diametrically opposed to what Peter Kolben says: "The eldest son has in a manner an absolute authority over all his brothers and sisters." "Among the Hottentots an eldest son may after his father's death retain his brothers and sisters in a sort of slavery." Kolben is now accepted as the leading authority on the aboriginal Hottentots, as he found them two centuries ago, before the missionaries had had time to influence their customs. What makes him the more unimpeachable as a witness in our case is that he is decidedly prejudiced in favor of the Hottentots.[138] What was the treatment of women by Hottentots as witnessed by Kolben? Is it true that, as Jakobowski asserts, the Hottentot woman rules at home? Quite true; most emphatically so. The husband, says Kolben (I., 252-55), after the hut is built,

"has absolutely nothing more to do with the house and domestic affairs; he turns the care for them over to his wife, who is obliged to procure provisions as well as she can and cook them. The husband devotes himself to drinking, eating, smoking, loafing, and sleeping, and takes no more concern about the affairs of his family than if he had none at all. If he goes out to fish or hunt, it is rather to amuse himself than to help his wife and children…. Even the care of his cattle the poor wife, despite all her other work, shares with him. The only thing she is not allowed to meddle with is the sale. This is a prerogative which constitutes the man's honor and which he would not allow anyone to take away from him with impunity."

The wife, he goes on to say, has to cut the fire-wood and carry it to the house, gather roots and other food and prepare it for the whole family, milk the cows, and take care of the children. The older daughters help her, but need so much watching that they are only an additional care; and all this time the husband "lies lazily on his back." "Such is the wretched life of the Hottentot woman," he sums up; "she lives in a perpetual slavery." Nor is there any family life or companionship, they eat separately, and

"the wife never sets foot in the husband's room, which is separated from the rest of the house; she seldom enjoys his company. He commands as master, she obeys as slave, without ever complaining."


"What we admire in Hottentots is their regard for women." Here are some more illustrations of this loving "regard for women." The Rev. J. Philip (II., 207) says that the Namaqua women begged Moffat to remain with them, telling him that before he came "we were treated by the men as brutes, and worse than they treated brutes." While the men loafed they had to go and collect food, and if they returned unsuccessful, as was often the case, they were generally beaten. They had to cook for the men and were not allowed a bite till they had finished their meal. "When they had eaten, we were obliged to retire from their presence to consume the offals given to us." When twins are born, says Kolben (304), there is great rejoicing if they are boys; two fat buffaloes are killed, and all the neighbors invited to the feast; but if the twins are girls, two sheep only are killed and there is no feast or rejoicing. If one of the twins is a girl she is invariably killed, buried alive, or exposed on a tree or in the bushes. When a boy has reached a certain age he is subjected to a peculiarly disgusting ceremony, and after that he may insult his mother with impunity whenever he chooses: "he may cudgel her, if he pleases, to suit his whim, without any danger of being called to an account for it." Kolben says he often witnessed such insolence, which was even applauded as a sign of manliness and courage. "What barbarity!" he exclaims. "It is a result of the contempt which these peoples feel for women." He used to remonstrate with them, but they could hardly restrain their impatience, and the only answer he could get was "it is the custom of the Hottentots, they have never done otherwise."

Andersson (Ngami, 332) says of the Namaqua Hottentots:

"If a man becomes tired of his wife, he unceremoniously returns her to the parental roof, and however much she (or the parents) may object to so summary a proceeding, there is no remedy."

In Kolben's time wives convicted of adultery were killed, while the men could do as they chose. In later times a lashing with a strap of rhinoceros hide was substituted for burning. Kolben thought that the serious punishment for adultery prevalent in his time argued that there must be love among the Hottentots, though he confessed he could see no signs of it. He was of course mistaken in his assumption, for, as was made clear in our chapter on Jealousy, murderous rage at an infringement on a man's conjugal property does not constitute or prove love, but exists entirely apart from it.


The injuriousness of "false facts" to science is illustrated by a remark which occurs in the great work on the natives of South Africa by Dr. Fritsch, who is justly regarded as one of the leading authorities on that subject. Speaking of the Hottentots (Namaqua) he says (351) that "whereas Tindall indicates sensuality and selfishness as two of their most prominent characteristics, Th. Hahn lauds their conjugal attachment independent of fleshly love." Here surely is unimpeachable evidence, for Theophilus Hahn, the son of a missionary, was born and bred among these peoples. But if we refer to the passage which Fritsch alluded to (Globus, XII., 306), we find that the reasons Hahn gives for believing that Hottentots are capable of something higher than carnal desires are that many of them, though rich enough to have a harem, content themselves with one wife, and that if a wife dies before her husband, he very seldom marries again. Yet in the very next sentence Hahn mentions a native trait which sufficiently explains both these customs. "Brides," he says, "cost many oxen and sheep, and the men, as among other South African peoples, the Kaffirs, for instance, would rather have big herds of cattle than a good-looking wife." Apart from this explanation, I fail to see what necessary connection there is between a man's being content with one wife and his capacity for sentimental love, since his greed for cattle and his lack of physical stamina and appetite fully account for his monogamy. This matter must be judged from the Hottentot point of view, not from ours. It is well known that in regions where polygamy prevails a man who wishes to be kind to his wife does not content himself with her, but marries another, or several others, to share the hard work with her. These Hottentots have not enough consideration for their hard-worked wives to do even that.


The coarseness and obscenity of the Hottentots constitute further reasons for believing them incapable of refined love. Their eulogist, Kolben, himself was obliged to admit that they "find a peculiar pleasure in filth and stench" and "are in the matter of diet the filthiest people in the world." The women eat their own vermin, which swarm in their scant attire. Nor is decency the object for which they wear this scant dress—-quite the reverse. Speaking of the male Hottentot's very simple dress, Barrow says (I., 154) that

"if the real intent of it was the promotion of decency, it should seem that he has widely missed his aim, as it is certainly one of the most immodest objects, in such a situation as he places it, that could have been contrived."

And concerning the little apron worn by the women he says:

"Great pains seem to be taken by the women to attract notice toward this part of their persons. Large metal buttons … or anything that makes a great show, are fastened to the borders of this apron."

Kolben relates that when a Hottentot desires to marry a girl he goes with his father to the girl's father, who gives the answer after consulting with his wife. If the verdict is unfavorable "the gallant's love for the beauty is readily cured and he casts his eyes on another one." But a refusal is rarely given unless the girl is already promised to another. The girl, too, is consulted, but only nominally, for if she refuses she can retain her liberty only by an all-night struggle with her suitor in which she usually succumbs, after which she has to marry him whether she wishes to or not. Kolben gives other details of the marriage ceremony which are too filthy to be even hinted at here.


By persons who had lived many years among the Colonial Hottentots, Fritsch (328) was assured that these people, far from being the models of chastity Kolben tried to prove them, indulged in licentious festivals lasting several days, at which all restraints were cast aside. And this brings us back to our starting-point—Dr. Jakobowski's peculiar argument concerning the "love poems" which he feels sure must be sung at the erotic dances of the natives, though they are carefully concealed from the missionaries. If they were poems of sentiment, the missionaries would not disapprove, and there would be no reason for concealing them; but the foregoing remarks show clearly enough what kind of "love" they would be likely to sing about. If any doubt remained on the subject the following delightful confession, which the eugolist Hahn makes in a moment of confidence, would settle the matter. To appreciate the passage, bear in mind that the Hottentots are the people among whom excessive posterior corpulence (steatopyga) is especially admired as the acme of physical attractions. Now Hahn says (335):

"The young girls drink whole cups of liquid fat, and for a good reason, the object being to attain a very rotund body by a fattening process, in order that Hymen may claim them as soon as possible. They do not grow sentimental and sick from love and jealousy, nor do they die from the anguish and woes of love, as our women do, nor engage in love-intrigues, but they look at the whole matter in a very materialistic and sober way. Their sole love-affair is the fattening process, on the result of which, as with a pig, depends the girl's value and the demand for her."

In this last sentence, which I have taken the liberty to italicize, lies the philosophy of African "love" in general, and I am glad to be able to declare it on such unquestionable authority. What a Hottentot "regards" in a woman is Fat; Sentiment is out of the question. When Hottentots are together, says Kolben,

"you never see them give tender kisses or cast loving glances at each other. Day and night, on every occasion, they are so cold and so indifferent to each other that you would not believe that they love each other or are married. If in a hut there were twenty Hottentots with their wives, it would be impossible to tell, either from their words or actions, which of them belonged together."


As intimated on a preceding page, there are, among Dr. Jakobowski's examples of Hottentot lyrics[139] a few which may be vaguely included in the category of love-poems. "Where did you hear that I love you while you are unloving toward me?" complained one Hottentot; while another warned his friend: "That is the misfortune pursuing you that you love where you ought not to!" A third declared. "I shall not cease to love however much they (i.e., the parents or guardians) may oppose me," A fourth addresses this song to a young girl:

     My lioness!
     Are you afraid that I may bewitch you?
     You milk the cow with fleshy hand.
     Bite me!
     Pour out (the milk) for me!
     My lioness!
     Daughter of a great man!

It is needless to say that in the first three of these aboriginal "lyrics" there is not the slightest indication that the "love" expressed rises above mere covetous desire of the senses; and as for the fourth, what is there in it besides reference to the girl's fatness (fleshy hand), her utility in milking and serving the milk and her carnal bites? Yet in this frank avowal of masculine selfishness and sensuality Hahn finds "a certain refinement of sentiment"!


Though a Hottentot belle's value in the marriage market is determined chiefly by the degree of her corpulence, girls of the higher families are not, it seems, devoid of other means of attracting the attention of men. At least I infer so from the following passage in Dalton's book (T.S.A., 104) relating to a certain chief:

"He had a charming daughter, the greatest belle among the blacks that I had ever seen, and the most thorough-paced coquette. Her main piece of finery, and one that she flirted about in a most captivating manner, was a shell of the size of a penny-piece. She had fastened it to the end of a lock of front hair, which was of such length as to permit the shell to dangle to the precise level of her eyes. She had learned to move her head with so great precision as to throw the shell exactly over whichever eye she pleased, and the lady's winning grace consisted in this feat of bo-peep, first eclipsing an eye and languishing out of the other, and then with an elegant toss of the head reversing the proceedings."


Our search for true love in Africa has thus far resulted in failure, the alleged discoveries of a few sanguine sentimentalists having proved to be illusory. If we now turn to the Kaffirs, who share with the Hottentots the southern extremity of Africa, we find that here again we must above all things guard against "false facts." Westermarck (61), after citing Barrow (I., 206) to the effect that "a Kaffir woman is chaste and extremely modest," adds:

"and Mr. Cousins informs me that between their various feasts the Kaffirs, both men and women, have to live in strict continence, the penalty being banishment from the tribe if this law is broken."

It would be interesting to know what Barrow means by "extremely modest" since he admits that that attribute

"might be questioned. If, for instance, a young woman be asked whether she be married, not content with giving the simple negative, she throws open her cloak and displays her bosom; and as most frequently she has no other covering beneath, she perhaps may discover at the same time, though unintentionally, more of her charms."

But it is his assertion that "a Kaffir woman is chaste" that clashes most outrageously with all recorded facts and the testimony of the leading authorities, including many missionaries. Dr. Fritsch says in the preface to his standard book on the natives of South Africa that the assertions of Barrow are to be accepted "with caution, or rather with suspicion." It is the absence of this caution and suspicion that has led Westermarck into so many erroneous conclusions. In the present instance, however, it is absolutely incomprehensible why he should have cited the one author who calls the Kaffirs chaste, ignoring the crushing weight of countless facts showing them to be extremely dissolute.

It is worthy of note that testimony as to the chastity of wild races generally comes from mere travellers among them, ignorant of their language and intimate habits, whereas the writings of those who have dwelt among them give one a very different idea. As the Rev. Mr. Holden remarks (187), those who have "boasted of the chastity, purity, and innocence of heathen life" have not been "behind the scenes." Here, for instance, is Geo. McCall Theal, who lived among the Kaffir people twenty years, filling various positions among them, varying from a mission teacher to a border magistrate, and so well acquainted with their language that he was able to collect and print a volume on Kaffir Folk Lore. Like all writers who have made a specialty of a subject, he is naturally somewhat biased in favor of it, and this gives still more weight to his words on negative points. Regarding the question of chastity he says:

"Kaffir ideas of some kinds of morality are very low. The custom is general for a married woman to have a lover who is not her husband, and little or no disgrace attaches to her on this account. The lover is generally subject to a fine of no great amount, and the husband may give the woman a beating, but that finishes the penalty."

The German missionary Neuhaus bears witness to the fact that (like the Bushmen and most other Africans) the Kaffirs are in one respect lower than the lowest beasts, inasmuch as for the sake of filthy lucre parents often marry off their daughters before they have attained maturity. Girls of eight to ten are often given into the clutches of wealthy old men who are already supplied with a harem. Concerning girls in general, and widows, we are told that they can do whatever they please, and that they only ask their lovers not to be imprudent, as they do not wish to lose their liberty and assume maternal duties too soon if they can help it. Lichtenstein says (I., 264) that

"a traveller remaining some time with a horde easily finds an unmarried young woman with whom he contracts the closest intimacy; nay, it is not uncommon, as a mark of hospitality, to offer him one as a companion,"

and no wonder, for among these Kaffirs there is "no feeling of love in marriage" (161). The German missionary Alberti relates (97) that sometimes a Kaffir girl is offered to a man in marriage. Having assured himself of her health, he claims the further privilege of a night's acquaintance; after which, if she pleases him, he proceeds to bargain for her permanent possession. Another competent and reliable observer, Stephen Kay, corresponding member of the South African Institution, who censures Barrow sharply for his incorrect remarks on Kaffir morals, says:

"No man deems it any sin whatever to seduce his neighbor's wife: his only grounds of fear are the probability of detection, and the fine demanded by law in such cases. The females, accustomed from their youth up to this gross depravity of manners, neither manifest, nor apparently feel, any delicacy in stating and describing circumstances of the most shameful nature before an assemblage of men, whose language is often obscene beyond description" (105). "Fornication is a common and crying sin. The women are well acquainted with the means of procuring miscarriage; and those means are not unfrequently resorted to without bringing upon the offender any punishment or disgrace whatever…. When adultery is clearly proved the husband is generally fully satisfied with the fine usually levied upon the delinquent…. So degraded indeed are their views on subjects of this nature … that the man who has thus obtained six or eight head of cattle deems it a fortunate circumstance rather than otherwise; he at once renews his intimacy with the seducer, and in the course of a few days becomes as friendly and familiar with him as ever" (141-42).

"Whenever the Kaffir monarch hears of a young woman possessed of more than ordinary beauty, and at all within his reach, he unceremoniously sends for her or fetches her himself…. Seldom or never does any young girl, residing in his immediate neighborhood, escape defilement after attaining the age of puberty (165)." "Widows are constantly constrained to be the servants of sin" (177).

"The following singular usage obtains universally … all conjugal intercourse is entirely suspended from the time of accouchement until the child be completely weaned, which seldom takes place before it is able to run about. Hence during the whole of that period, an illicit and clandestine intercourse with strangers is generally kept up by both parties, to the utter subversion of everything like attachment and connubial bliss. Something like affection is in some instances apparent for awhile, but it is generally of comparatively short duration."

Fritsch (95) describes a Kaffir custom called U'pundhlo which has only lately been abolished:

"Once in awhile a troupe of young men was sent from the principal town to the surrounding country to capture all the unmarried girls they could get hold of and carry them away forcibly. These girls had to serve for awhile as concubines of strangers visiting the court. After a few days they were allowed to go and their places were taken by other girls captured in the same way."

Before the Kaffirs came under the influence of civilization, this custom gave no special offence; "and why should it?" adds Fritsch, "since with the Kaffirs marriageable girls are morally free and their purity seems a matter of no special significance." When boys reach the age of puberty, he says (109), they are circumcised;

"thereupon, while they are in the transition stage between boyhood and manhood, they are almost entirely independent of all laws, especially in their sexual relations, so that they are allowed to take possession with impunity of any unmarried women they choose."

The Kaffirs also indulge in obscene dances and feasts. Warner says (97) that at the ceremony of circumcision virtue is polluted while yet in its embryo. "A really pure girl is unknown among the raw Kaffirs," writes Hol. "All demoraln sense of purity and shame is lost." While superstition forbids the marrying of first cousins as incestuous, real "incest in its worst forms"—between mother and sons—prevails. At the ceremony called Ntonjane the young girls "are degraded and polluted at the very threshold of womanhood, and every spark of virtuous feeling annihilated" (197, 207, 185).

"Immorality," says Fritsch (112),

"is too deeply rooted in African blood to make it difficult to find an occasion for indulging in it; wherefore the custom of celebrating puberty, harmless in itself, is made the occasion for lascivious practices; the unmarried girls choose companions with whom they cohabit as long as the festival lasts … usually three or four days."

After giving other details, Fritsch thus sums up the situation:

"These diverse facts make it clear that with these tribes (Ama-Xosa) woman stands, if not morally, at least judicially, little above cattle, and consequently it is impossible to speak of family life in one sense of the word."

In his Nursery Tales of the Zulus (255) Callaway gives an account, in the native language as well as in the English, of the license indulged in at Kaffir puberty festivals. Young men assemble from all quarters. The maidens have a "girl-king" to whom the men are obliged to give a present before they are allowed to enter the hut chosen for the meeting. "The young people remain alone and sport after their own fancies in every way." "It is a day of filthiness in which everything may be done according to the heart's desire of those who gather around the umgongo." The Rev. J. MacDonald, a man of scientific attainments, gives a detailed account of the incredibly obscene ceremonies to which the girls of the Zulu-Kaffirs are subjected, and the licentious yet Malthusian conduct of the young folks in general who "separate into pairs and sleep in puris naturalibus, for that is strictly ordained by custom." The father of a girl thus treated feels honored on receiving a present from her partner.[140]


The utter indifference of the Kaffirs to chastity and their licentiousness, approved and even prescribed by national custom, were not the only obstacle to the growth of sentiments rising above mere sensuality. Commercialism was another fatal obstacle. I have already quoted Hahn's testimony that a Kaffir "would rather have big herds of cattle than a good-looking wife." Dohne asserts (Shooter, 88) that "a Kaffir loves his cattle more than his daughter," and Kay (111) tells us that

"he is scarcely ever seen shedding tears, excepting when the chief lays violent hands upon some part of his horned family; this pierces him to the heart and produces more real grief than would be evinced over the loss of wife and child."

On another page (85) he says that in time of war the poor women fall into the enemy's hands, because

"their husbands afford them no assistance or protection whatever. The preservation of the cattle constitutes the grand object of their solicitude; and with these, which are trained for the purpose, they run at an astonishing rate, leaving both wives and children to take their chances."

Such being the Kaffir's relative estimation of cows and women, we might infer that in matrimonial arrangements bovine interests were much more regarded than any possible sentimental considerations; and this we find to be the case. Barrow (149) tells us that

"the females being considered as the property of their parents, are always disposed of by sale. The common price of a wife is an ox or a couple of cows. Love with them is a very confined passion, taking but little hold on the mind. When an offer is made for the purchase of a daughter, she feels little inclination to refuse; she considers herself as an article at market, and is neither surprised, nor unhappy, nor interested, on being told that she is about to be disposed of. There is no previous courtship, no exchange of fine sentiments, no nice feelings, no attentions to catch the affections and to attach the heart."[141]


The Rev. L. Grout says in his Zululand (166):

"So long as the government allows the custom called ukulobolisha, the selling of women in marriage for cattle, just so long the richer and so, for the most part, the older and the already married man will be found, too often, the successful suitor—not indeed at the feet of the maiden, for she is allowed little or no right to a voice as to whom she shall marry, but at the hands of her heathen proprietor, who, in his degradation, looks less at the affections and preferences of his daughter than at the surest way of filling his kraal with cattle, and thus providing for buying another wife or two."

So purely commercial is the transaction that if a wife proves very fruitful and healthy, a demand for more cattle is made on her husband (165). Should she be feeble or barren he may send her back to her father and demand compensation. A favorite way is to retain a wife as a slave and go on marrying other girls as fast as the man's means allow. Theal says (213) that if a wife has no children the husband has a right to return her to her parents and if she has a marriageable sister, take her in exchange. But the acme of commercialism is reached in a Zulu marriage ceremony described by Shooter. At the wedding the matrons belonging to the bridegroom's party tell the bride that too many cows have been given for her; that she is rather plain than otherwise, and will never be able to do a married woman's work, and that altogether it is very kind of the bridegroom to condescend to marry her. Then the bride's friends have their innings. They condole with her parents on the very inadequate number of cows paid for her, the loveliest girl in the village; declare that the husband is quite unworthy of her, and ought to be ashamed for driving such a hard bargain with her parents.

Leslie's assertion (194) that it is "a mistake to imagine that a girl is sold by her father in the same manner and with the same authority with which he would dispose of a cow," is contradicted by the concurrent testimony of the leading authorities. Some of these have already been cited. The reliable Fritsch says (112) of the Ama-Xosa branch:

"It is characteristic that as a rule the inclination of the girl to be married is never consulted, but that her nearest male relatives select a husband for her to whom she is unceremoniously sent. They choose, of course, a man who can pay."

If she is a useful girl he is not likely to refuse the offer, yet he bargains to get her as cheaply as possible (though he knows that a Kaffir girl's chief pride is the knowledge that many heads of cattle were paid for her). Regarding the Ama-Zulu, Fritsch says (141-42) that the women are slaves and a wife is regarded as so much invested capital. "If she falls ill, or remains childless, so that the man does not get his money's worth, he often returns her to her father and asks his cattle back." Older and less attractive women are sometimes married off on credit, or to be paid for in instalments. "In all this," Fritsch sums up, "there is certainly little of poetry and romance, but it cannot be denied that under the influence of European residents an improvement has been effected in some quarters." He himself saw at Natal a young couple who "showed a certain interest in each other," such as one expects of married persons; but in parts untouched by European influence, he adds, true conjugal devotion is an unusual thing.


It is probably owing to such European influences that Theal (209) found that although a woman is not legally supposed to be consulted in the choice of a husband, in point of fact "matches arising from mutual love are not uncommon. In such cases, if any difficulties are arranged by the guardians on either side, the young people do not scruple to run away together." The word "love" in this passage is of course used in that vague sense which indicates nothing but a preference of one man or woman to others. That a Kaffir girl should prefer a young man to an old suitor to the point of running away with him is to be expected, even if there is nothing more than a merely sensual attachment. The question how far there are any amorous preferences among Kaffirs is an interesting one. From the fact that they prefer their cows to their wives in moments of danger, we infer that though they might also like one girl better than another, such preference would be apt to prove rather weak; and this inference is borne out by some remarks of the German missionary Alberti which I will translate:

"The sentiment of tender and chaste love is as unknown to the Kaffir as that respect which is founded on agreement and moral worth. The need of mutual aid in domestic life, combined with the natural instinct for the propagation of the species, alone seem to occasion a union of young men and women which afterward gains permanence through habitual intercourse and a community of interests."

"It is true that the young man commonly seeks to gain the favor of the girl he likes before he applies to her parents, in which case, if his suit is accepted, the supreme favor is at once granted him by the girl; but inasmuch as he does not need her good will necessarily, the parental consent being sufficient to secure possession of her, he shows little zeal, and his peace of mind is not in the least disturbed by a possible refusal. Altogether, he is much less solicitous about gaining her predilection than about getting her for the lowest possible price."

Alberti was evidently a thinker as well as a careful observer. His lucid remarks gives us a deep insight into primitive conditions when love had hardly yet begun to germinate. What a worldwide difference between this languid Kaffir wooer, hardly caring whether he gets this girl or another, and the modern lover who thinks life not worth living, unless he can gain the love of his chosen one. In all the literature on the subject, I have been able to find only one case of stubborn preference among Kaffirs. Neuhaus knew a young man who refused for two years to marry the girl chosen for him by his father, and finally succeeded in having his way with another girl whom he preferred. As a matter of course, strong aversion is more frequently manifested than decided preference, especially in the case of girls who are compelled to marry old men. Neuhaus[142] saw a Zulu girl whose hands had been nearly burned off by her tormentors; he knew of two girls who committed suicide, one just before, the other just after, an enforced marriage. Grout (167) speaks of the "various kinds of torture resorted to by the father and friends of a girl to compel her to marry contrary to her choice." One girl, who had fled to his house for refuge, told him repeatedly that if delivered into the hands of her tormentors "she would be cruelly beaten as soon as they were out of sight and be subjected to every possible abuse, till she should comply with the wishes of her proprietor."


Where men are so deficient in sentiment and manly instincts that one young woman seems to them about as good as another, it is hardly strange that the women too should lack those qualities of delicacy, gentleness, and modesty which make the weaker sex adorable. The description of the bloody duels often fought by Kaffir women given by the British missionary Beste (Ploss, II., 421) indicates a decidedly Amazonian disposition. But the most suggestive trait of Kaffir women is the lack of feminine coyness in their matrimonial preliminaries. According to Gardiner (97),

"it is not regarded as a matter either of etiquette or of delicacy from which side the proposal of marriage may proceed—the overture is as often made by the women as the men."

"Courtship," says Shooter (50), "does not always begin with the men." Sometimes the girl's father proposes for her; and when a young woman does not receive an early proposal, her father or brother go from kraal to kraal and offer her till a bidder is found. Callaway (60) relates that when a young Zulu woman is ready to be married she goes to the kraal of the bridegroom, to stand there. She remains without speaking, but they understand her. If they "acknowledge" her, a goat is killed and she is entertained. If they do not like her, they give her a burning piece of firewood, to intimate that there is no fire in that kraal to warm herself by; she must go and kindle a fire for herself.[143]


Though in all this there is considerable romance, there is no evidence of romantic love. But how about love-charms, poems, and stories? According to Grout (171), love-charms are not unknown in Zulu land. They are made of certain herbs or barks, reduced to a powder, and sent by the hand of some unsuspected friend to be given in a pinch of snuff, deposited in the dress, or sprinkled upon the person of the party whose favor is to be won. But love-powders argue a very materialistic way of regarding love and tell us nothing about sentiments. A hint at something more poetic is given by the Rev. J. Tyler (61), who relates that flowers are often seen on Zulu heads, and that one of them, the "love-making posy," is said to foster "love." Unfortunately that is all the information he gives us on this particular point, and the further details supplied by him (120-22) dash all hopes of finding traces of sentiment. The husband "eats alone," and when the wife brings him a drink of home-made beer "she must first sip to show there is no 'death in the pot.'" While he guzzles beer, loafs, smokes, and gossips, she has to do all the work at home as well as in the field, carrying her child on her back and returning in the evening with a bundle of firewood on her head. "In the winter the natives assemble almost daily for drinking and dancing, and these orgies are accompanied by the vilest obscenities and evil practices."

As regards poems Wallaschek remarks (6) that "the Kaffir in his poetry only recognizes a threefold subject: war, cattle, and excessive adulation of his ruler." One Kaffir love-poem, or rather marriage-poem, I have been able to find (Shooter, 236), and it is delightfully characteristic:

     We tell you to dig well,
     Come, girl of ours,
     Bring food and eat it;
     Fetch fire-wood
     And don't be lazy.


Among the twenty-one tales collected in Theal's Kaffir Folk Lore there is one which approximates what we call a love-story. As it takes up six pages of his book it cannot be quoted entire, but in the following condensed version I have retained every detail that is pertinent to our inquiry. It is entitled The Story of Mbulukazi.

There was once a man who had two wives; one of them had no children, wherefore he did not love her. The other one had one daughter, who was very black, and several children besides, but they were all crows. The barren wife was very downcast and often wept all day.

One day two doves perching near her asked why she cried. When they had heard her story they told her to bring two earthen jars. Then they scratched her knees until the blood flowed, and put it into the jars. Every day they came and told her to look in the jars, till one day she found in them two beautiful children, a boy and a girl. They grew up in her hut, for she lived apart from her husband, and he knew nothing of their existence.

When they were big, they went to the river one day to fetch water. On the way they met some young men, among whom was Broad Breast, a chief's son who was looking for a pretty girl to be his wife. The men asked for a drink and the boy gave them all some water, but the young chief would take it only from the girl. He was very much smitten with her beauty, and watched her to see where she lived. He then went home to his father and asked for cattle with which to marry her. The chief, being rich, gave him many fine cattle, and with these the young man went to the husband of the girl's mother and said: "I want to marry your daughter." So the girl who was very black was told to come, but the young chief said: "That is not the one I want; the one I saw was lighter in color and much prettier." The father replied: "I have no other children but crows."

But Broad Breast persisted, and finally the servant-girl told the father about the other daughter. In the evening he went to his neglected wife's hut and to his great joy saw the boy and his sister. He remained all night and it was agreed that the young chief should have the girl. When Broad Breast saw her he said: "This is the girl I meant." So he gave the cattle to the father and married the girl, whose name was Mbulukazi.

To appease the jealousy of the very black girl's mother he also married that girl, and each of them received from her father an ox, with which they went to their new home. But the young chief did not care for the very black girl and gave her an old rickety hut to live in while Mbulukazi had a very nice new house. This made the other girl jealous, and she plotted revenge, which she carried out one day by pushing her rival over the edge of a rock, so that she fell into the river and was drowned. The corpse was, however, found by her favorite ox, who licked her till her life came back, and as soon as she was strong once more she told what had happened.

When the young chief heard the story he was angry with the dark wife and said to her: "Go home to your father; I never wanted you at all; it was your mother who brought you to me." So she had to go away in sorrow and Mbulukazi remained the great wife of the chief.

In this interesting story there are two suspicious details. Theal says he has taken care in his collection not to give a single sentence that did not come from native sources. He calls attention, however, to the fact that tens of thousands of Kaffirs have adopted the religion of Europeans and have accepted ideas from their teachers, wherefore "it will surprise no one to learn that these tales are already undergoing great changes among a very large section of the natives on the border." I suspect that the touch of sentiment in the place where the young chief will accept a drink from the girl's hand alone is such a case of European influence, and so, in all probability is the preference for a light complexion implied in the tale; for Shooter (p. I) tells us expressly that to be told that he is light-colored "would be esteemed a very poor compliment by a Kaffir."

The following passage, which occurs in another of Theal's stories (107), shows how unceremonious Kaffir "courtship" is in relation to the girl's wishes.

"Hlakanyana met a girl herding some goats.

"He said: 'Where are the boys of your village, that the goats are herded by a girl?'

"The girl answered: 'There are no boys in the village.'

"He went to the father of the girl and said: 'You must give me your daughter to be my concubine, and I will herd the goats.'

"The father of the girl agreed to that. Then Hlakanyana went with the goats, and every day he killed one and ate it till all were done."


If we now leave the degraded and licentious Kaffirs, going northward in Eastern Africa, into the region of the lakes—Nyassa, Victoria Nyanza and Albert Nyanza—embracing British Central, German East, and British East Africa, we are doomed to disappointment if we expect to find conditions more favorable to the growth of refined romantic or conjugal love. We shall not only discover no evidence of what is vaguely called Platonic love, but we shall find men ignoring even Plato's injunction (Laws, VIII., 840) that they should not be lower than beasts, which do not mate till they have reached the age of maturity. H.H. Johnston, in his recent work on British Central Africa, gives some startling revelations of aboriginal depravity. As these regions have been known a few years only, the universality of this depravity disproves most emphatically the ridiculous notion that savages are naturally pure in their conduct and owe their degradation to intercourse with corrupt white men. Johnston (409) says:

"A medical missionary who was at work for some time on the west coast of Lake Nyassa gave me information regarding the depravity prevalent among the young boys in the Atonga tribe of a character not even to be described in obscure Latin. These statements might be applied with almost equal exactitude to boys and girls in many other parts of Africa. As regards the little girls, over nearly the whole of British Central Africa, chastity before puberty is an unknown condition…. Before a girl becomes a woman (that is to say, before she is able to conceive), it is a matter of absolute indifference what she does, and scarcely any girl remains a virgin after about five years of age."

Girls are often betrothed at birth, or even before, and when four or five years old are placed at the mercy of the degraded husbands. Capture is another method of getting a wife, and Johnston's description of this custom indicates that individual preference is as weak as we have found it among Kaffirs:

"The women as a rule make no very great resistance on these occasions. It is almost like playing a game. A woman is surprised as she goes to get water at the stream, or when she is on her way to or from the plantation. The man has only got to show her she is cornered and that escape is not easy or pleasant and she submits to be carried off. Of course there are cases where the woman takes the first opportunity of running back to her first husband if her captor treats her badly, and again she may be really attached to her first husband and make every effort to return to him for that reason. But as a general rule they seem to accept very cheerfully these abrupt changes in their matrimonial existence."

In a footnote he adds:

"The Rev. Duff Macdonald, a competent authority on Yao manners and customs, says in his book Africana: 'I was told … that a native man would not pass a solitary woman, and that her refusal of him would be so contrary to custom that he might kill her.' Of course this would apply only to females that are not engaged."


Of the Taveita forest region Johnston says:

"After marriage the greatest laxity of manners is allowed among the women, who often court their lovers under their husband's gaze; provided the lover pays, no objection is raised to his addresses."

And regarding the Masai (415):

"The Masai men rarely marry until they are twenty-five nor the women until twenty. But both sexes, avant de se ranger, lead a very dissolute life before marriage, the young warriors and unmarried girls living together in free love."

The fullest account of the Masai and their neighbors we owe to
Thomson. With the M-teita marriage is entirely a question of cows.

"There is a very great disproportion between the sexes, the female predominating greatly, and yet very few of the young men are able to marry for want of the proper number of cows—a state of affairs which not unfrequently leads to marriage with sisters, though this practice is highly reprobated."

Of the Wa-taveta, Thomson says (113): "Conjugal fidelity is unknown, and certainly not expected on either side; they might almost be described as colonies of free lovers." As for life among the Masai warriors, he says (431) that it

"was promiscuous in a remarkable degree. They may indeed be proclaimed as a colony of free lovers. Curiously enough the sweetheart system was largely in vogue; though no one confined his or her attentions to one only. Each girl in fact had several sweethearts, and what is still stranger, this seemed to give rise to no jealousies. The most perfect equality prevailed between the Ditto and Elmoran, and in their savage circumstances it was really pleasant to see how common it was for a young girl to wander about the camp with her arm round the waist of a stalwart warrior."[144]


Crossing the waters of the Victoria Nyanza we come to Uganda, a region which has been entertainingly described by Speke. One day, he tells us (379), he was crossing a swamp with the king and his wives:

"The bridge was broken, as a matter of course; and the logs which composed it, lying concealed beneath the water, were toed successively by the leading men, that those who followed should not be tripped up by them. This favor the King did for me, and I in return for the women behind; they had never been favored in their lives with such gallantry and therefore could not refrain from laughing. He afterward helped the girls over a brook. The king noticed it, but instead of upbraiding me, passed it off as a joke, and running up to the Kamraviona, gave him a poke in the ribs and whispered what he had seen, as if it had been a secret. 'Woh, woh!' says the Kamraviona, 'what wonders will happen next?'"

There is perhaps no part of Africa where such an act of gallantry would not have been laughed at as an absurd prank. In Eastern Central Africa

"when a woman meets any man on the path, the etiquette is for her to go off the path, to kneel, and clasp her hands to the 'lords of creation' as they pass. Even if a female possesses male slaves of her own she observes the custom when she meets them on the public highway. A woman always kneels when she has occasion to talk to a man" (Macdonald, I., 129).

"It is interesting to meet a couple returning from a journey for firewood," says the same writer (137). "The man goes first, carrying his gun, bow and arrows, while the woman carries the invariable bundle of firewood on her head." He used to amuse such parties by taking the wife's load and putting it on the husband, telling him, 'This is the custom in our country.' The wife has to do not only all the domestic but all the hard field work, and the only thing the lazy husband does in return is to mend her clothes. That constitutes her "rights;" neglect of it is a cause for divorce! Burton notes the absence of chivalrous ideas among the Somals (F.F., 122), adding that

"on first entering the nuptial hut, the bridegroom draws forth his horsewhip and inflicts memorable chastisement upon the fair person of his bride, with the view of taming any lurking propensity to shrewishness."

Among the natives of Massua, on the eighth of the month of Ashur, "boys are allowed," says Munzinger,

"to mercilessly whip any girl they may meet—a liberty of which they make use in anything but a sentimental way. As the girls naturally hide themselves in their houses on this day, the boys disguise themselves as beggars, or use some other ruse to get them out."

Adults sometimes take part in this gallant sport. But let us return to

The Queen of Uganda offered Speke the choice between two of her daughters as a wife. The girls were brought and made to squat in front of him. They had never seen him.

"The elder, who was in the prime of youth and beauty, very large of limb, dark in color, cried considerably; whilst the younger one … laughed as if she thought the change in her destiny very good fun."

He had been advised that when the marriage came off he was to chain the girl two or three days, until she became used to him, else, from mere fright, she might run away.

A high official also bestowed on him a favor which throws light on the treatment of Uganda women. He had his women come in, made them strip to the waist, and asked Speke what he thought of them. He assured him he had paid him an unusual compliment, the Uganda men being very jealous of one another, so much so that anyone would be killed if found staring upon a woman, even in the highways. Speke asked him what use he had for so many women, to which he replied,

"None whatever; the King gives them to us to keep up our rank, sometimes as many as one hundred together, and we either turn them into wives, or make servants of them, as we please."


The northeastern boundary of Uganda is formed by the waters of the lake whose name Sir Samuel Baker chose for the title of one of his fascinating books on African travel, the Albert N'yanza. Baker was a keen observer and he had abundant experience on which to base the following conclusions (148):

"There is no such thing as love in these countries, the feeling is not understood, nor does it exist in the shape in which we understand it. Everything is practical, without a particle of romance. Women are so far appreciated as they are valuable animals. They grind the corn, fetch the water, gather firewood, cement the floors, cook the food, and propagate the race; but they are mere servants, and as such are valuable…. A savage holds to his cows and to his women, but especially to his cows. In a razzia fight he will seldom stand for the sake of his wives, but when he does fight it is to save his cattle."

The sentimentalist's heart will throb with a flutter of hope when he reads in the same book (240) that among the Latookas it is considered a disgrace to kill a woman in war. Have these men that respect for women which makes romantic love possible? Alas, no! They spare them because women are scarce and have a money value, a female being worth from five to ten cows, according to her age and appearance. It would therefore be a waste of money to kill them.

I may as well add here what Baker says elsewhere (Ismailia, 501) by way of explaining why there is no insanity in Central Africa: there are "no hearts to break with overwhelming love." Where coarseness is bliss, 'twere folly to be refined.


Let us now cross Central Africa into the Congo region on the Western side, returning afterward to the East for a bird's-eye view of the Abyssinians, the Somali, and their neighbors.

In his book Angola and the River Congo (133-34) Monteiro says that negroes show less tenderness and love than some animals:

"In all the long years I have been in Africa I have never seen a negro manifest the least tenderness for or to a negress…. I have never seen a negro put his arm round a woman's waist or give or receive any caress whatever that would indicate the slightest loving regard or affection on either side. They have no words or expressions in their language indicative of affection or love. Their passion is purely of an animal description, unaccompanied by the least sympathetic affections of love or endearment."[145]

In other words, these negroes not only do not show any tenderness, affection, sympathy, in their sexual relations, they are too coarse even to appreciate the more subtle manifestations of sensual passion which we call caresses. Jealousy, too, Monteiro says, hardly exists. In case of adultery "the fine is generally a pig, and rum or other drink, with which a feast is celebrated by all parties. The woman is not punished in any way, nor does any disgrace attach to her conduct." As a matter of course, where all these sentiments are lacking, admiration of personal beauty cannot exist.

"From their utter want of love and appreciation of female beauty or charms they are quite satisfied and content with any woman possessing even the greatest amount of hideous ugliness with which nature has so bountifully provided them."


Thus we find the African mind differing from ours as widely as a picture seen directly with the eyes differs from one reflected in a concave mirror. This is vividly illustrated by a quaint story recorded in the Folk Tales of Angola (Memoirs of Amer. Folk Lore Soc., Vol. I., 1804, 235-39), of which the following is a condensed version:

An elderly man had an only child, a daughter. This daughter, a number of men wanted her. But whenever a suitor came, her father demanded of him a living deer; and then they all gave up, saying, "The living deer, we cannot get it."

One day two men came, each asking for the daughter. The father answered as usual, "He who brings me the living deer; the same, I will give him my daughter."

The two men made up their minds to hunt for the living deer in the forest. They came across one and pursued it; but one of them soon got tired and said to himself: "That woman will destroy my life. Shall I suffer distress because of a woman? If I bring her home, if she dies, would I seek another? I will not run again to catch a living deer. I never saw it, that a girl was wooed with a living deer." And he gave up the chase.

The other man persevered and caught the deer. When he approached with it, his companion said, "Friend, the deer, didst thou catch it indeed?" Then the other: "I caught it. The girl delights me much. Rather I would sleep in forest, than to fail to catch it."

Then they returned to the father and brought him the deer. But the father called four old men, told them what had happened, and asked them to choose a son-in-law for him among the two hunters. Being questioned by the aged men, the successful hunter said: "My comrade pursued and gave up; I, your daughter charmed me much, even to the heart, and I pursued the deer till it gave in…. My comrade he came only to accompany me."

Then the other was asked why he gave up the chase, if he wanted the girl, and he replied: "I never saw that they wooed a girl with a deer…. When I saw the great running I said, 'No, that woman will cost my life. Women are plentiful,' and I sat down to await my comrade."

Then the aged men: "Thou who gavest up catching the deer, thou art our son-in-law. This gentleman who caught the deer, he may go with it; he may eat it or he may sell it, for he is a man of great heart. If he wants to kill he kills at once; he does not listen to one who scolds him, or gives him advice. Our daughter, if we gave her to him, and she did wrong, when he would beat her he would not hear (one) who entreats for her. We do not want him; let him go. This gentleman who gave up the deer, he is our son-in-law; because, our daughter, when she does wrong, when we come to pacify him, he will listen to us. Although he were in great anger, when he sees us, his anger will cease. He is our good son-in-law, whom we have chosen."


According to Livingstone, in Angola suicide is sometimes committed by a girl if it is predicted to her that she will never have any children, which would be a great disgrace. A writer in the Globus (Vol. 69, p. 358) sums up the observations of the medical missionary, G. Liengme, on suicides among the peoples of Africa. The most frequent cause is a family quarrel. Sometimes a girl commits suicide rather than marry a man whom she detests, "whereas on the other hand suicide from unhappy love seems to be unknown." In another number of the Globus (70: 100), however, I find mention of a negro who killed himself because he could not get the girl he wanted. This, of course, does not of itself suffice to prove the existence of true love, for we know that lust may be as maddening and as obstinate as love itself; moreover, as we shall see in the chapter on American Indians, suicide does not argue strong feelings, but a weak intellect. Savages are apt to kill themselves, as we shall see, on the slightest and most trivial provocation.


In his entertaining book on the Congo, H.H. Johnston says (423) of the races living along the upper part of that river: "They are decidedly amorous in disposition, but there is a certain poetry in their feelings which ennobles their love above the mere sexual lust of the negro." If this is true, it is one of the most important discoveries ever made by an African explorer, one on which we should expect the author to dwell at great length. What does he tell us about the Congo tribes? "The women," he says of the Ba-Kongo, "have little regard for their virtue, either before or after marriage, and but for the jealousy of the men there would be promiscuous intercourse between the sexes." These women, he says, rate it as especially honorable to be a white man's mistress:

"Moreover, though the men evince some marital jealousy among themselves, they are far from displaying anything but satisfaction when a European is induced to accept the loan of a wife, either as an act of hospitality or in consideration of some small payment. Unmarried girls they are more chary of offering, as their value in the market is greater; but it may be truly said that among these people womanly chastity is unknown and a woman's honor is measured by the price she costs."

These remarks, it is true, refer to the lower Congo, and it is only of the upper river that Johnston predicates the poetic features which ennoble love. Stanley Pool being accepted by him as the dividing line, we may there perhaps begin our search for romantic love. One day, the author relates, rain had driven him to a hut on the shore of the Pool, where there was a family with two marriageable daughters. The father

"was most anxious I should become his son-in-law, 'moyennant' several 'longs' of cloth. Seeing my hesitation, he mistook it for scorn and hastened to point out the manifold charms of his girls, whilst these damsels waxed hotly indignant at my coldness. Then another inspiration seized their father—perhaps I liked a maturer style of beauty, and his wife, by no means an uncomely person, was dragged forward while her husband explained with the most expressive gestures, putting his outspread hands before his eyes and affecting to look another way, that, again with the simple intermediary of a little cloth, he would remain perfectly unconscious of whatever amatory passages might occur between us."

Evidently the poetry of love had not drifted down as far as the Pool. Let us therefore see what Johnston has to say of the Upper Congo (423):

"Husbands are fond of their own wives, as well as of those of other people." "Marriage is a mere question of purchase, and is attended by no rejoicings or special ceremony. A man procures as many wives as possible, partly because they labor for him and also because soon after one wife becomes with child she leaves him for two or three years until her baby is weaned." Apart from these facts Johnston gives us no hint as to what he understands by affection except what the following sentence allows us to infer (429):

"The attachment between these dogs and their African masters is deep and fully reciprocated. They are considered very dainty eating by the natives, and are indeed such a luxury that by an unwritten law only the superior sex—the men—are allowed to partake of roasted dog."

The amusing italics are mine.

If Johnston really found traces of poetic, ennobling love in this region, surely so startling a novelty in West Africa would have called for a full "bill of particulars," which would have been of infinitely greater scientific value than the details he gives regarding unchastity, infidelity, commercialism, separation from wives and contempt for women, which are so common throughout the continent as to call for no special notice. Evidently his ideas regarding "poetic love" were as hazy as those of some other writers quoted in this chapter, and we have once more been led on by the mirage of a "false fact."[146]

In 1891 the Swedish explorer Westermarck published a book describing his adventures among the cannibal tribes of the Upper Congo. I have not seen the book, but the Rev. James Johnston, in summing up its contents, says (193):

"A man can sell wife and children according to his own depraved pleasure. Women are the slave drudges, the men spending their hours in eating, drinking, and sleeping. Cannibalism in its worst features prevails. Young women are prized as special delicacies, particularly girls' ears prepared in palm oil, and, in order to make the flesh more palatable, the luckless victims are kept in water up to their necks for three or four days before they are slaughtered and served as food."


From the banks of the Congo to Kamerun is not a very far cry as distances go in Africa. Kamerun is under the German flag, and a German writer, Hugo Zöller, has described life in that colony with the eyes of a shrewd observer. What he says about the negro's capacity for love shows deep psychological insight (III., 68-70):

"Europeans residing in Africa who have married a negro woman declare unanimously that there is no such thing there as love and fidelity in the European sense. It happens with infinitely greater frequency that a European falls in love with his black companion than she with him; or rather the latter does not happen at all. A hundred times I have listened to discussions of this topic in many different places, but I have never heard of a single case of a genuine full-blooded negress falling in love with a white man…. The stupidest European peasant girl is, in comparison with an African princess, still an ideally endowed being."

Zöller adds that in all his African experiences he never found a negress of whom he should have been willing to assume that she would sacrifice herself for a man she was attached to. On another page he says:

"A negro woman does not fall in love in the same sense as a European, not even as the least civilized peasant girl. Love, in our sense of the word, is a product of our culture belonging to a higher stage in the development of latent faculties than the negro race has reached. Not only is the negro a stranger to the diverse intellectual and sentimental qualities which we denote by the name of love: nay, even in a purely bodily sense it may be asserted that his nervous system is not only less sensitive, but less well-developed. The negro loves as he eats and drinks…. And just as little as a black epicure have I ever been able to discover a negro who could rise to the imaginative phases of amorous dalliance. A negro … may buy dozens upon dozens of wives without ever being drawn by an overpowering feeling to any one of them. Love is, among the blacks, as much a matter of money as the palm oil or ivory trade. The black man buys his wife when she is still a child; when she reaches the age at which our maidens go to their first ball, her nervous system, which never was particularly sensitive anyway, is completely blunted, so that she takes it as a matter of course to be sold again and again as a piece of property. One hears often enough of a 'woman palaver,' which is regarded exactly like a 'goat palaver,' as a damage to property, but one never, positively never, hears of a love-affair. The negress never has a sweetheart, either in her youngest days or after her so-called marriage. She is regarded, and regards herself, as a piece of property and a beast of burden."


Travelling a short distance northwest from Kamerun we reach the Slave Coast of West Africa, to which A.B. Ellis has devoted two interesting books, including chapters in the folklore of the Yoruba and Ewe-speaking peoples of this region. Among the tales recorded are two which illustrate African ideas regarding love. I copy the first verbatim from Ellis's book on the Yoruba (269-70):

"There was a young maiden named Buje, the slender, whom all the men wanted. The rich wanted her, but she refused. Chiefs wanted her, and she refused. The King wanted her, and she still refused.

"Tortoise came to the King and said to him, 'She whom you all want and cannot get, I will get. I will have her, I.' And the King said, 'If you succeed in having her, I will divide my palace into two halves and will give you one-half.'

"One day Buje, the slender, took an earthen pot and went to fetch water. Tortoise, seeing this, took his hoe, and cleared the path that led to the spring. He found a snake in the grass, and killed it. Then he put the snake in the middle of the path.

"When Buje, the slender, had filled her pot, she came back. She saw the snake in the path, and called out, 'Hi! hi! Come and kill this snake.'

"Tortoise ran up with his cutlass in his hand. He struck at the snake and wounded himself in the leg.

"Then he cried out, 'Buje the slender, has killed me. I was cutting the bush, I was clearing the path for her. She called to me to kill the snake, but I have wounded myself in the leg. O Buje, the slender, Buje, the slender, take me upon your back and hold me close.'

"He cried this many times, and at last Buje, the slender, took Tortoise and put him on her back. And then he slipped his legs down over her hips….

"Next day, as soon as it was light, Tortoise went to the King. He said, 'Did I not tell you I should have Buje, the slender? Call all the people of the town to assemble on the fifth day, and you will hear what I have to say.'

"When it was the fifth day, the King sent out his crier to call all the people together. The people came. Tortoise cried out, 'Everybody wanted Buje, the slender, and Buje refused everybody, but I have had her.'

     "The King sent a messenger, with his stick, to summon
     Buje, the slender. When she came the King said, 'We
     have heard that Tortoise is your husband; is it so?'

     "Buje, the slender, was ashamed, and could not answer.
     She covered her head with her cloth, and ran away into
     the bush.

"And there she was changed into the plant called Buje."


Robert Hartmann (480) describes the Yoruba people as vivacious and intelligent. But the details given by Ellis (154) regarding the peculiar functions of bridesmaids, and the assertion that "virginity in a bride is only of paramount importance when the girl has been betrothed in childhood," explain sufficiently why we must not look for sentimental features in a Yoruba love-story. The most noticeable thing in the above tale is the girl's power to refuse chiefs and even the King. In Ellis's book on the Ewe-speaking peoples of the Slave Coast, there is also a love-story (271) concerning a "Maiden who always refused." It has a moral which seems to indicate masculine disapproval of such a feminine privilege. The following is a condensed version:

There was a beautiful girl whose parents were rich. Men came to marry her, but she always said "Not yet." Men continued to come, but she said "My shape is good, my skin is good, therefore I shall stay;" and she stayed.

Now the leopard, in the leopard's place, hears this. He turns himself to resemble man. He takes a musical instrument in his hand and makes himself a fine young man. His shape is good. Then he goes to the parents of the maiden and says, "I look strong and manly, but I do not look stronger than I love." Then the father says, "Who looks strong takes;" and the young man says, "I am ready."

The young man comes in the house. His shape pleases the young girl. They give him to eat and they give him to drink. Then the young man asks the maiden if she is ready to go, and the maiden says she is ready to go. Her parents give her two female slaves to take along, and goats, sheep, and fowls. Ere long, as they travel along the road, the husband says, "I am hungry." He eats the fowls, but is still hungry: he eats the goats and sheep and is hungry still. The two slaves next fall a victim to his voracity, and then he says, "I am hungry."

Then the wife weeps and cries aloud and throws herself on the ground. Immediately the leopard, having resumed his own shape, makes a leap toward her. But there is a hunter concealed in the bush; he has witnessed the scene; he aims his gun and kills the leopard on the leap. Then he cuts off his tail and takes the young woman home.

"This is the way of young women," the tale concludes. "The young men come to ask; the young women meet them, and continue to refuse—again, again, again—and so the wild animals turn themselves into men and carry them off."


While the main object of this discussion is to show that Africans are incapable of feeling sentimental love, I have taken the greatest pains to discover such traces of more refined feelings as may exist. These one might expect to find particularly in the collections of African tales such as Callaway's Nursery Tales of the Zulus, Theal's Kaffir Folk Lore, the Folk Lore of Angola, Stanley's My Dark Companions and their Stories, Koelle's African Native Literature, Jacottet's Contes Populaires des Bassoutos. All that I have been able to find in these books and others bearing on our topic is included in this chapter—and how very little it is! Love, even of the sensual kind, seems to be almost entirely ignored by these dusky story-tellers in favor of a hundred other subjects—in striking contrast to our own literature, in which love is the ruling passion. I have before me another interesting collection of South and North African stories and fables—Bleek's Reinecke Fuchs in Afrika. Its author had unusual facilities for collecting them, having been curator of Sir G. Grey's library at Cape Town, which includes a fine collection of African manuscripts. In Bleek's book there are forty-four South African, chiefly Hottentot, fables and tales, and thirty-nine relating to North Africans. Yet among these eighty-three tales there are only three that come under the head of love-stories. As they take up eight pages, I can give only a condensed version of them, taking care, however, to omit no essential feature.[147]


Four handsome youths tried to win a beautiful girl living in the same town. While they were quarrelling among themselves a youth came from another town, lifted the girl on his horse and galloped away with her. The father followed in pursuit on his camel, entered the youth's house, and brought back the girl.

One day the father called together all the men of his tribe. The girl stepped among them and said, "Whoever of you can ride on my father's camel without falling off, may have me as wife." Dressed in their best finery, the young men tried, one after another, but were all thrown. Among them sat the stranger youth, wrapped only in a mat. Turning toward him the girl said, "Let the stranger make a trial." The men demurred, but the stranger got on the camel, rode about the party three times safely, and when he passed the girl for the fourth time he snatched her up and rode away with her hastily.

Quickly the father mounted his fleet horse and followed the fugitives. He gained on them until his horse's head touched the camel's tail. At that moment the youth reached his home, jumped off the camel and carried the bride into the house. He closed the door so violently that one foot of the pursuing horse caught between the posts. The father drew it out with difficulty and returned to the four disappointed suitors.


A king had a beautiful daughter and many desired to marry her. But all failed, because none could answer the King's question: "What is enclosed in my amulet?" Undismayed by the failure of men of wealth and rank, Tamba, who lived far in the East and had nothing to boast of, made up his mind to win the princess. His friends laughed at him but he started out on his trip, taking with him some chickens, a goat, rice, rice-straw, millet-seed, and palm-oil. He met in succession a hungry porcupine, an alligator, a horned viper, and some ants, of all of whom he made friends by feeding them the things he had taken along. He reserved some of the rice, and when he arrived at the King's court he gave it to a hungry servant who in turn told him the secret of the amulet. So when he was asked what the amulet contained, he replied: "Hair clipped from the King's head when he was a child; a piece of the calabash from which he first drank milk; and the tooth of the first snake he killed."

This answer angered the King's minister, and Tamba was put in chains. He was subjected to various tests which he overcame with the aid of the animals he had fed on his trip. But again he was fettered and even lashed.

One day the King wanted to bathe, so he sent his four wives to fetch water. A young girl accompanying them saw how all of them were bitten by a horned viper and ran back to tell the news. The wives were brought back unconscious, and no one could help them. The King then thought of Tamba, who was brought before him. Tamba administered an antidote which the viper he had fed had given him, the wives recovered, the wicked minister was beheaded and Tamba was rewarded with the hand of the princess.


The third tale is herewith translated verbatim:

"There was a man who had a most beautiful daughter, the favorite of all the young men of the place; two, especially, tried to win her regard. One day these two came together and begged her to choose one of them. The young girl called her father; when the young men had told him that they were suing for his daughter's hand, he requested them to come there the next day, when he would set them a task and the one who got through with it first should have the girl.

"Meanwhile the father bought in the market a piece of cloth and cut it up for two garments. Now when the two rivals appeared the next morning he gave to each the materials for a garment and told them to sew them together, promising his daughter to the one who should get done first. The daughter he ordered to thread the needles for both the men.

"Now the girl knew very well which of the two young men she would rather have for a husband; to him, therefore, she always handed needles with short threads, while the other was always supplied with long threads. Noon came and neither of them had finished his garment. After awhile, however, the one who always got the short threads finished his task.

"The father was then summoned and the young man showed him the garment; whereupon the father said: 'You are a quick worker and will therefore surely be able to support your wife. Take my daughter as your wife and always do your work rapidly, then you will always have food for yourself and your wife.'

"Thus did the young man win his beloved by means of her cunning. Joyfully he led her home as his wife."


This tale reveals the existence of individual preference, but does not hint at any other ingredient of love, while the father's promise of the girl to the fastest worker shows a total indifference to what that preference might be. In the following tale (also from Koelle) the girl again is not consulted.

"A certain man had a most beautiful daughter who was beset by many suitors. But as soon as they were told that the sole condition on which they could obtain her was to bale out a brook with a ground-nut shell (which is about half the size of a walnut shell), they always walked away in disappointment. However, at last one took heart of grace, and began the task. He obtained the beauty; for the father said, 'Kam ago tsuru baditsia tsido—he who undertakes whatever he says, will do it.'"


The last two tales I have cited were gathered among the Bornu people in the Soudan. In Burton's Wit and Wisdom from West Africa we find a few proverbs about women that are current in the same region.

"If a woman speaks two words, take one and leave the other." "Whatever be thy intimacy, never give thy heart to a woman." "If thou givest thy heart to a woman, she will kill thee." "If a man tells his secrets to his wife, she will bring him into the way of Satan." "A woman never brings a man into the right way." "Men who listen to what women say, are counted as women."

It is significant that in the four hundred and fifty-five pages of Burton's book, which includes over four hundred proverbs and tales, there are only half a dozen brief references to women, and those are sneers.


As I have had occasion to remark before, African women lack the finer feminine qualities, both bodily and mental, wherefore even if an African man were able to feel sentimental love he could not find an object to bestow it on. An incident related by Du Chaillu (Ashango Land, 187) illustrates the martial side of African femininity. A married man named Mayolo had called another man's wife toward him. His own wife, hearing of this, got jealous, told him the other must be his sweetheart, and rushed out to seek her rival. A battle ensued:

"Women's fights in this country always begin by their throwing off their dengui—that is, stripping themselves entirely naked. The challenger having thus denuded herself, her enemy showed pluck and answered the challenge by promptly doing the same; so that the two elegant figures immediately went at it literally tooth and nail, for they fought like cats, and between the rounds reviled each other in language the most filthy that could possibly be uttered. Mayolo being asleep in his house, and no one seeming ready to interfere, I went myself and separated the two furies."

In Dahomey, as everybody knows, the bellicose possibilities of the African woman have been utilized in forming bands of Amazons which are described as "the flower of the army." They are made up of female captives and other women, wear special uniforms, and in battle are credited with even greater ferocity than the men. These women are Amazons not of their own accord but by order of the king. But in other parts of Africa there is reason to believe that bands of self-constituted female warriors have existed at various times. Diodorus Siculus, who lived in the time of Julius Caesar, says that on the western coast of Libya (Africa) there used to live a people governed by women, who carried on wars and the government, the men being obliged to do domestic work and take care of the children. In our time Livingstone found in the villages of the Bechuanas and Banyas that men were often badly treated by the women, and the eminent German anthropologist Bastian says(S.S., 178) that in "the Soudan the power of the women banded together for mutual protection is so great that men are often put under ban and obliged to emigrate." Mungo Park described the curious bugaboo(mumbo-jumbo)by means of which the Mandingo negroes used to keep their rebellious women in subjection. According to Bastian, associations for keeping women in subjection are common among men along the whole African West Coast. The women, too, have their associations, and at their meetings compare notes on the meanness and cruelty of their husbands. Now it is easy to conceive that among tribes where many of the men have been killed off in wars the women, being in a great majority, may, for a time at least, turn the tables on the men, assume their weapons and make them realize how it feels to be the "inferior sex." For this reason Bastian sees no occasion to share the modern disposition to regard all the Amazon legends as myths.


If we now return from the West Coast to Eastern Africa we find on the northern confines of Abyssinia a strange case of the subjection of men, which Munzinger has described in his Ostafrikanische Studien (275-338). The Beni Amer are a tribe of Mohammedan shepherds among whom "the sexes seem to have exchanged rôles, the women being more masculine in their work." Property is legally held in common, wherefore the men rarely dare to do anything without consulting their wives. In return for this submission they are treated with the utmost contempt:

"For every angry word that the husband utters he is compelled to pay a fine, and perhaps spend a whole rainy night outdoors till he has promised to give his weaker half a camel and a cow. Thus the wife acquires a property of her own, which the husband never is allowed to touch; many women have in this way ruined their husbands and then left them. The women have much esprit de corps; if one of them has ground for complaint, all the others come to her aid…. Of course the man is always found in the wrong; the whole village is in a turmoil. This esprit de corps demands that every woman, whether she loves her husband or not, must conceal her love and treat him contemptuously. It is considered disgraceful for her to show her love to her husband. This contempt for men goes so far that if a wife laments the death of her husband who has died without issue, her companions taunt her…. One often hears women abuse their husbands or other men in the most obscene language, even on the street, and the men do not dare to make the least retort." "The wife can at any time return to her mother's house, and remain there months, sending word to her husband that he may come to her if he cares for her."


The causes of this singular effeminacy of the men and masculinity of the women are not indicated by Munzinger; but so much is clear that, although the tables are turned, Cupid is again left in the cold. Nor is there any romance in the courtship which leads to such hen-pecked conjugal life:

"The children are often married very early, and engaged earlier still. The bridegroom goes with his companions to fetch his bride; but after having talked with her parents he returns without having seen her. The bride thereafter remains another whole year with her parents. After its expiration the bridegroom sends women and a camel to bring her to his home; she is taken away with her tent, but the bridal escort is often fooled by the substitution in the bride's place of another girl, who allows herself to be taken along, carefully veiled, and after the village has been left behind betrays herself and runs away."

These Beni Amer are of course far superior in culture to the Bushmen, Hottentots, Kaffirs, and West Coast peoples we have been considering so far, having long been in contact with Oriental influences. It is therefore as strange as it is instructive to note that as soon as a race becomes civilized enough to feel a kind of love exalted above mere sensuality, special pains are taken to interpose fresh obstacles, as in the above case, where it is good form to suppress all affection, and where a young man may not see his bride even after engagement. This last custom seems to be of common occurrence in this part of Africa. Munzinger (387) says of the Kunama: "As among the border peoples engagements are often made at a very early age, after which time bride and bridegroom avoid each other;" and again (147) concerning the region of Massua, on the Red Sea:

"From the day of the engagement the young man is obliged to carefully avoid the bride and her mother. The desire to see her after the engagement is considered very improper, and often leads to a breaking-up of the affair. If the youth meets the girl accidentally, she veils her face and her friends surround her to cover her from the bridegroom's sight."


These attachments are so shallow that if the fortune-teller who is always consulted gives an unfavorable forecast, the engagement is forthwith broken off. It is instructive to note further that the rigid separation of a man from his betrothed serves merely to stifle legitimate love; its object cannot be to prevent improper intimacies, for before engagement the girls enjoy perfect liberty to do what they please, and after engagement they may converse with anyone except the lover. As Parkyns (II., 41) tells us, he is never allowed to see his intended wife even for a moment, unless he can bribe some female friend to arrange it so he can get a peep at her by concealing himself; but if the girl discovers him she covers her face, screams, runs away, and hides. This "coyness" is a pure sham. In reality the Abyssinian girl is anything but coy. Munzinger thus describes her character:

"The shepherd girls in the neighborhood of Massua always earn some money by carrying water and provisions to the city. The youngest girls are sent there heedlessly, and are often cheated out of more than their money, and therefore they do not usually make the best of wives, being coquettish and very eager for money. The refinements of innocence must not be sought for in this country; they are incompatible with the simple arrangement of the houses and the unrestrained freedom of conversation. No one objects to this, a family's only anxiety being that the girl should not lose the semblance of virginity…. If a child is born it is mercilessly killed by the girl's grandmother."

Sentimental admirers of what they suppose to be genuine "pastoral love poetry" will find further food for thought in the following Abyssinian picture from Parkyns (II., 40):

"The boys are turned out wild to look after the sheep and cattle; and the girls from early childhood are sent to fetch water from the well or brook, first in a gourd, and afterward in a jar proportioned to their strength. These occupations are not conducive to the morality of either sex. If the well be far from the village, the girls usually form parties to go thither, and amuse themselves on the road by singing sentimental or love songs, which not unfrequently verge upon the obscene, and indulge in conversation of a similar description; while, during their halt at the well for an hour or so, they engage in romps of all kinds, in which parties of the other sex frequently join. This early license lays the foundation for the most corrupt habits, when at a later period they are sent to the woods to collect fuel."

James Bruce, one of the earliest Europeans to visit the Abyssinians, describes them as living practically in a state of promiscuity, divorce being so frequent that he once saw a woman surrounded by seven former husbands, and there being hardly any difference between legitimacy and illegitimacy. Another old writer, Rev. S. Gobat, describes the Abyssinians as light-minded, having nothing constant but inconstancy itself. A more recent writer, J. Hotten (133-35), explains, in the following sentence, a fact which has often misled unwary observers:

"Females are rarely gross or immodest outwardly, seeing that they need in no way be ashamed of the freest intercourse with the other sex," "Rape is venial, and adultery regards only the husband."

The Christian Abyssinians are in this respect no better than the others, regarding lewd conduct with indifference. But the most startling exhibition of Abyssinian grossness is given by the Habab and Mensa concerning whom Munzinger says (150), that whenever a girl decides to give herself up to a dissolute life "a public festival is arranged, cows are butchered and a night is spent amid song and dances."

The four volumes of Combes and Tamisier on Abyssinia give a vivid idea of the utter absence of sexual morality in that country. With an intelligence rare among explorers they distinguish between love of the senses and love of the heart, and declare that the latter is not to be found in this country. "Abyssinian women love everybody for money and no one gratis." They do not even suspect the possibility of any other kind of love, and the only distinction they make is that a man who pleases them pays less.

"But what one never finds with anyone in Abyssinia is that refined and pure sentiment which gives so much charm to love in Europe. Here the heart is seldom touched; tender words are often spoken, but they are banal and rarely sincere; never do these people experience those extraordinary emotions of which the very remembrance agitates us a long time, those celestial feelings which convert an atheist into a believer. In this country love has all its existence in a moment, having neither a past nor a future."

The authors go so far as to doubt a story they heard of a girl who was said to have committed suicide to escape a hated suitor forced on her; but there is nothing improbable in this, as we know that a strong aversion may exist even where there is no capacity for true love, and the former by no means implies the latter. Jealousy, they found further,

"is practically unknown in Abyssinia," "If jealousy is manifested occasionally by women we must not deceive ourselves regarding the nature of this feeling; when an Abyssinienne envies the love another inspires she is jealous only of the comfort which that love may insure for the other" (II., Chap. V.).


Abyssinian women are not deficient in a certain sensual kind of beauty. Their fine figures, large black eyes, and white teeth have been admired by many travellers. But Parkyns (II., 5) avers that "though flowers of beauty nowhere bloom with more luxuriance than in Aethiopia, yet, alas! there shines on them no mental sun." They make use of their eyes to great advantage—but not to express soul-love. What flirtation in this part of the world consists in, may be inferred from Donaldson Smith's amusing account (245, 270) of a young Boran girl who asked permission to accompany his caravan, offering to cook, bring wood, etc. She was provided with a piece of white sheeting for a dress, but when tired from marching, being unused to so much clothing, she threw the whole thing aside and walked about naked. Her name was Ola. Some time afterward one of the native guides began to make love to Ola:

"I oversaw the two flirting and was highly amused at the manner in which they went about it. It consisted almost entirely in tickling and pinching, each sally being accompanied by roars of laughter. They never kissed, as such a thing is unknown in Africa."


South of Abyssinia there are three peoples—the Galla, Somali, and Harari—among some of whom, if we may believe Dr. Paulitschke, the germs of true love are to be found. Let us briefly examine them in turn, with Paulitschke's arguments. Hartmann (401) assigns to the Gallas a high rank among African races, and Paulitschke (B.z.E., 51-56) describes them as more intelligent than the Somali, but also more licentious. Boys marry at sixteen to eighteen, girls at twelve to sixteen. The women are compelled to do most of the hard work; wives are often badly treated, and when their husbands get tired of them they send them away. Good friends lend each other their wives, and they also lend them to guests. If a man kills his wife no one minds it. Few Schoa girls are virgins when they marry (Eth. N. Afr., 195), and the married women are easily led from the path of virtue by small presents. In other parts girls take a pride in preserving their purity, but atone for it by a dissolute life after marriage. Brides are subjected to an obscene examination, and if not found pure are supposed to be legally disqualified from marriage. To avoid the disgrace, the parents bribe the bridegroom to keep the secret, and to assert the bride's innocence. A curious detail of Galla courtship consists in the precautions the parents of rich youths have to take to protect them from designing poor girls and their mothers. Often, when the parents of a rich youth are averse to the match, the coy bride goes to their hut, jumps over the surrounding hedge, and remains there enduring the family's abuse until they finally accept her. To prevent such an invasion—a sort of inverted capture, in which the woman is the aggressor—the parents of rich sons build very high hedges round their houses to keep out girls! Not infrequently, boys and girls are married when only six or eight years old, and forthwith live together as husband and wife.


It is among the neighbors of these Gallas that Paulitschke (30) fancied he discovered the existence of refined love:

"Adult youths and maidens have occasion, especially while tending the cattle, to form attachments. These are of an idealized nature, because the young folks are brought up in a remarkably chaste and serious manner. The father is proud of his blooming daughter and guards her like a treasure…. In my opinion, marriages among the Western Somals are mostly based on cordial mutual affection. A young man renders homage to his beloved in song. 'Thou art beautiful,' he sings, 'thy limbs are plump, if thou wouldst drink camel's milk thou wert more beautiful still.' The girl, on her part, gives expression to her longing for the absent lover in this melancholy song: 'The camel needs good grazing, and dislikes to leave it. My beloved has left the country. On account of the children of Sahál (the lover's family), my heart is always so heavy. Others throw themselves into the ocean, but I perish from grief. Could I but find the beloved.'"

What evidence of "idealized" love is there in these poems? The girl expresses longing for an absent man, and longing, as we have seen, characterizes all kinds of love from the highest to the lowest. It is one of the selfish ingredients of love, and is therefore evidence of self-love, not of other-love. As for the lover's poem, what is it but the grossest sensualism, the usual African apotheosis of fat? Imagine an American lover saying to a girl, "You are beautiful for you are plump, but you would be more beautiful still if you ate more pork and beans"—would she regard this as evidence of refined love, or would she turn her back and never speak to him again? Anthropologists are sometimes strangely naïve. We have just seen what kind of "attachments" are formed by African youths and girls while tending cattle; Burton adds to the evidence (F.F., 120) by telling us that among the Somali "the bride, as usual in the East, is rarely consulted, but frequent tête-à-têtes at the well and in the bush when tending cattle effectually obviate this inconvenience." "At the wells," says Donaldson Smith (15), "you will see both sexes bathing together, with little regard for decency." They are indeed lower than brutes in their impulses, for the only way parents can save their infant girls from being maltreated is by the practice of infibulation, to which, as Paulitschke himself tells us, the girls are subjected at the early age of four, or even three; yet, even this, he likewise informs us, is not always effectual.

As for the father's great pride in his daughter, and his guarding her like a treasure, that is, by the concurrent testimony of the authorities, not a token of affection or a regard for virtue, but a purely commercial matter. Paulitschke himself says (30) that while the mother is devoted to her child, "the father pays no attention to it." On the following page he adds:

"The more well-to-do the father is, and the more beautiful his daughter, the longer he seeks to keep her under the paternal roof, for the purpose of securing a bigger price for her through the competition of suitors."

Of the Western Somali tribes at Zayla, Captain J.S. King says[148] that when a man has fixed his choice on a girl he pays her father $100 to $800. After that

"the proposer is entitled (on payment of $5 each time) to private interviews with his fiancée to enable him by a closer inspection to judge better of her personal charms. But it frequently happens that the young man squanders all his money on these 'interviews' before paying the dafa agreed upon. The girl then (at her parents' instigation) breaks off the match, and her father, when expostulated with, replies that he will not force his daughter's inclinations. Hence arise innumerable breach-of-promise-of-marriage suits, in which the man is invariably the plaintiff. I have known instances of a girl being betrothed to three or four different men in about a year's time, their father receiving a certain amount of dafa from each suitor."[149]

Donaldson Smith remarks (12) that Somali women "are regarded merely as goods and chattels. In a conversation with one of my boys he told me that he only owned five camels, but that he had a sister from whom he expected to get much money when he sold her in marriage." The gross commercialism of Somali love-affairs is further illustrated by the Ogaden custom (Paulitschke, E.N.A., 199) of pouring strong perfumes over the bride in order to stimulate the ardor of the suitor and make him willing to pay more for her—a trick which is often successful. How, under such circumstances, Somal marriages can be "mostly based on cordial mutual affection" is a mystery for Dr. Paulitschke to explain. Burton proved himself a keener observer and psychologist when he wrote (F.F., 122), "The Somal knows none of the exaggerated and chivalrons ideas by which passion becomes refined affection among the Arab Bedouins and the sons of civilization." I may add what this writer says regarding Somal poetry:

"The subjects are frequently pastoral; the lover, for instance, invites his mistress to walk with him toward the well in Lahelo, the Arcadia of the land; he compares her legs to the tall, straight Libi tree, and imprecates the direst curses on her head if she refuses to drink with him the milk of his favorite camel."


The Harari, neighbors of the Somals, are another people among whom Paulitschke fancied that he discovered signs of idealized love (B.E.A.S., 70). Their youthful attachments, he says, are intense and noble, and in proof of this he translates two of their poems on the beauty of a bride.

     I. "I tell thee this only: thy face is like silk, Aisa;
     I say it again, I tell thee nothing but that. Thou art
     slender as a lance-shaft; thy father and thy mother are
     Arabs; they all are Arabs; I tell thee this only."

II. "Thy form is like a burning lamp, Aisa; I love thee. When thou art at the side of Abrahim, thou burnest him with the light of thy beauty. To-morrow I shall see thee again."

In a third (freely translated and printed in the appendix of the same volume) occur these lines:

"The honey is already taken out and I come with it. The milk is already drawn and I bring it. And now thou art the pure honey, and now thou art the fresh milk. The gathered honey is very sweet, and therefore it was drunk to thy health. Thine eyes are black, dyed with Kahul. The fresh milk is very sweet and therefore it was drunk to thy health. I have seen Sina—oh, how sweet was Sina…. Thine eyes are like the full moon, and thy body is fragrant as the fragrance of rose-water. And she lives in the garden of her father and the garments on her body become fragrant as basil…. And thou art like a king's garden in which all perfumes are united."

It is easy to note Arabic influences in these poems. The Harari are largely Arabic; their very language is being absorbed in the Arabic; yet I cannot find in these poems the least evidence of amorous idealism or "noble" sentiment. To have a lover compare a girl's face to silk, her form to a lance-shaft or a burning lamp, her eyes to the full moon, may be an imaginative sort of sensualism, but it is purely sensual nevertheless. If an American lover told a girl, "I bought some delicious candy and ate it, thinking of you; I ordered a glass of sweet soda-water and drank it to your health"—would she regard that as evidence of "noble" love, or of any kind of love at all, except a kind of cupboard love?

No, not even here, where Arabian influences prevail, do we come across the germs of true love. It is the same all over Africa. Nowhere do we find indications that men admire other things in women except, at most, voluptuous eyes and plump figures; nowhere do the men perform unselfish acts of gallantry and self-sacrifice; nowhere exhibit sympathy with their females, who, far from being goddesses, are not even companions, but simply drudges and slaves to lust. A whole volume would be required to demonstrate that this holds true of all parts of Africa; but the present chapter is already too long and I must close with a brief reference to the Berbers of Algeria (Kabyles) to show that at the northern extremity of Africa, as at the southern, the eastern, the western, love spells lust. Here, too, man is lower than animals. Camille Sabatier, who was a justice of the peace at Tizi-Ouzan, speaks[150] of "la brutalité du male qui, souvent même chez les Kabyles, n'attend pas la nubilité pour déflorer la jeune enfant." The girls, he adds,

"detest their husbands with all their heart. Love is almost always unknown to them—I mean by love that ensemble of refined sentiments, which, among civilized peoples, ennoble the sexual appetite."


A guileless reader of Chavanne's book on the Sahara is apt to get the impression that there is, after all, an oasis in the desert of African lovelessness and contempt for women. Touareg women, we are told therein (208-10), are allowed to dispose of their hands and to eat with the men, certain dishes being reserved for them, others (including tea and coffee) for the men. In the evening the women assemble and improvise songs while the men sit around in their best attire. The women write mottoes on the men's shields, and the men carve their chosen one's name in the rocks and sing her praises. The situation has been compared to mediaeval chivalry. But when we examine it more critically than the biassed Chavanne did, we find, using his own data, more of Africa than appeared to be there at first sight. The woman, we are informed, owes the husband obedience, and he can divorce her at pleasure. When a woman talks to a man she veils her face "as a sign of respect." And when the men travel, they are accompanied by those of their female slaves who are young and pretty. Their morals are farther characterized by the fact that descent is in the female line, which is usually due to uncertain paternity. The women are ugly and masculine, and Chavanne does not mention a single fact or act which proves that they experience supersensual, altruistic love.

So far as the position of Touareg women is superior to that of other Africans, it is due to the fact that slaves are kept to do the hard work and to certain European and Christian influences and the institution of theoretical monogamy. Possibly the germs of a better sort of love may exist among them, as they may among the Bedouins; they must make a beginning somewhere.


T.J. Hutchinson declares that the gentle god of love is unknown in the majority of African kingdoms: "It in fact seems to be crawling into life only in one or two places where our language is the established one." He prints a quaint love-letter addressed by a Liberian native to his colored sweetheart. The substance of the letter, it is true, is purely egotistic; it might be summed up in the words, "Oh, how I wish you were here to make me happy." Yet it opens up vistas of future possibilities. I cite it verbatim:

"My Dear Miss,—I take my pen in hand to Embrac you of my health, I was very sick this morning but know I am better but I hope it may find you in a state of Enjoying good health and so is your Relation. Oh my dear Miss what would I give if I could see thy lovely Face this precious minnit O miss you had promis me to tell me something, and I like you to let you know I am very anxious to know what it is give my Respect to the young mens But to the young ladys especially O I am long to see you O miss if I don't see you shortly surely I must die I shut my mouth to hold my breath Miss don't you cry O my little pretty turtle dove I wont you to write to me, shall I go Bound or shall I go free or shall I love a pretty girl a she don't love me give my Respect all enquiring Friend Truly Your respectfully,


"Nothing more to say O miss."


The founders of the Australian race, Curr believes, were Africans, and may have arrived in one canoe. The distance from Africa to Australia is, however, great, and there are innumerable details of structure, color, custom, myth, implements, language, etc., which have led the latest authorities to conclude that the Australian race was formed gradually by a mixture of Papuans, Malayans, and Dravidians of Central India.[151] Topinard has given reasons for believing that there are two distinct races in Australia. However that may be, there are certainly great differences in the customs of the natives. As regards the relations of the sexes, luckily, these differences are not so great as in some other respects, wherefore it is possible to give a tolerably accurate bird's-eye view of the Australians as a whole from this point of view.


Once in awhile, in the narrative of those who have travelled or sojourned among Australians, one comes across a reference to the symmetrical form, soft skin, red lips, and white teeth of a young Australian girl. Mitchell in his wanderings saw several girls with beautiful features and figures. Of one of these, who seemed to be the most influential person in camp, he says (I., 266):

"She was now all animation, and her finely shaped mouth, beautiful teeth, and well-formed person appeared to great advantage as she hung over us both, addressing me vehemently,"

etc. Of two other girls the same writer says (II., 93):

"The youngest was the handsomest female I had ever seen amongst the natives. She was so far from black that the red color was very apparent in her cheeks. She sat before me in a corner of the group, nearly in the attitude of Mr. Bailey's fine statue of Eve at the fountain, and apparently equally unconscious that she was naked. As I looked upon her for a moment, while deeply regretting the fate of her mother, the chief, who stood by, and whose hand had been more than once laid upon my cap, as if to feel whether it were proof against the blow of a waddy, begged me to accept of her in exchange for a tomahawk!"

Eyre, another famous early traveller, writes on this topic (II., 207-208):

"Occasionally, though rarely, I have met with females in the bloom of youth, whose well-proportioned limbs and symmetry of figure might have formed a model for the sculptor's chisel. In personal appearance the females are, except in early youth, very far inferior to the men. When young, however, they are not uninteresting. The jet black eyes, shaded by their long dark lashes, and the delicate and scarcely formed features of incipient womanhood give a soft and pleasing expression to a countenance that might often be called good-looking—occasionally pretty."

"Occasionally, though rarely," and then only for a few years, is an Australian woman attractive from our point of view. As a rule she is very much the reverse—dirty, thin-limbed, course-featured, ungainly in every way;[152] and Eyre tells us why this is so. The extremities of the women, he says, are more attenuated than those of the men; probably because "like most other savages, the Australian looks upon his wife as a slave," makes her undergo great privations and do all the hard work, such as bringing in wood and water, tending the children, carrying all the movable property while on the march, often even her husband's weapons:

"In wet weather she attends to all the outside work, whilst her lord and master is snugly seated at the fire. If there is a scarcity of food, she has to endure the pangs of hunger, often, perhaps, in addition to ill-treatment and abuse. No wonder, then, that the females, and especially the younger ones (for it is then they are exposed to the greatest hardships), are not so fully or so roundly developed in person as the men."

The rule that races admire those personal characteristics which climate and circumstances have impressed on them is not borne out among Australians. An arid soil and a desiccating climate make them thin as a race, but they do not admire thinness. "Long-legged," "thin-legged," are favorite terms of abuse among them, and Grey once heard a native sing scornfully

Oh, what a leg,

* * * * *

You kangaroo-footed churl!

Nor is it beauty, in our sense of the word, that attracts them, but fat, as in Africa and the Orient. I have previously quoted Brough Smyth's assertion that an Australian woman, however old and ugly, is in constant danger of being stolen if she is fat. That women have the same standard of "taste," appears from the statement of H.E.A. Meyer (189), that the principal reason why the men anoint themselves with grease and ochre is that it makes them look fat and "gives them an air of importance in the eyes of the women, for they admire a fat man however ugly." But whereas these men admire a fat woman for sensual reasons, the women's preference is based on utilitarian motives. Low as their reasoning powers are, they are shrewd enough to reflect that a man who is in good condition proves thereby that he is "somebody"—that he can hunt and will be able to bring home some meat for his wife too. This interpretation is borne out by what was said on a previous page (278) about one of the reasons why corpulence is valued in Fiji, and also by an amusing incident related by the eminent Australian explorer George Grey (II., 93). He had reproached his native guide with not knowing anything, when the guide replied:

"I know nothing! I know how to keep myself fat; the young women look at me and say, 'Imbat is very handsome, he is fat'—they will look at you and say, 'He not good—long legs—what do you know? Where is your fat? What for do you know so much, if you can't keep fat?"


Eyre was no doubt right in his suggestion that the inferiority of Australian women to the men in personal appearance was due to the privations and hardships to which the women were subjected. Much as the men admire fat in a woman, they are either too ignorant, or too selfish otherwise, to allow them to grow fat in idleness. Women in Australia never exist for their own sake but solely for the convenience of the men. "The man," says the Rev. H.E.A. Meyer (11), "regarding them more as slaves than in any other light, employs them in every possible way to his own advantage." "The wives were the absolute property of the husband," says the Rev. G. Taplin (XVII. to XXXVII.),

"and were given away, exchanged, or lent, as their owners saw fit." "The poor creatures … are always seen to a disadvantage, being … the slaves of their husbands and of the tribes." "The women in all cases came badly off when they depended upon what the men of the tribes chose to give them."

"The woman is an absolute slave. She is treated with the greatest cruelty and indignity, has to do all laborious work, and to carry all the burthens. For the slightest offence or dereliction of duty, she is beaten with a waddy or a yam-stick, and not unfrequently speared. The records of the Supreme Court in Adelaide furnish numberless instances of blacks being tried for murdering their lubras. The woman's life is of no account if her husband chooses to destroy it, and no one ever attempts to protect or take her part under any circumstances. In times of scarcity of food, she is the last to be fed and the last considered in any way. That many of them die in consequence cannot be a matter of wonder…. The condition of the women has no influence over their treatment, and a pregnant female is dealt with and is expected to do as much as if she were in perfect health…. The condition of the native women is wretched and miserable in the extreme; in fact, in no savage nation of which there is any record can it be any worse."

And again (p. 72):

"The men think nothing of thrashing their wives, knocking them on the head, and inflicting frightful gashes; but they never beat the boys. And the sons treat their mothers very badly. Very often mere lads will not hesitate to strike and throw stones at them."

"Women," says Eyre (322), "are frequently beaten about the head with waddies, in the most dreadful manner, or speared in the limbs for the most trivial offences."

There is hardly one, he says, that has not some frightful scars on the body; and he saw one who "appeared to have been almost riddled with spear-wounds." "Does a native meet a woman in the woods and violate her, he is not the one to feel the vengeance of the husband, but the poor victim whom he has abused" (387). "Women surprised by strange blacks are always abused and often massacred" (Curr, I., 108). "A black hates intensely those of his own race with whom he is unacquainted, always excepting the females. To one of these he will become attached if he succeeds in carrying one off; otherwise he will kill the women out of mere savageness and hatred of their husbands" (80). "Whenever they can, blacks in their wild state never neglect to massacre all male strangers who fall into their power. Females are ravished, and often slain afterward if they cannot be conveniently carried off."

The natives of Victoria "often break to pieces their six-feet-long sticks on the heads of the women" (Waitz, VI., 775). "In the case of a man killing his own gin [wife], he has to deliver up one of his own sisters for his late wife's friends to put to death" (W.E. Roth, 141). After a war, when peace is patched up, it sometimes happens that "the weaker party give some nets and women to make matters up" (Curr, II., 477). In the same volume (331) we find a realistic picture of masculine selfishness at home:

"When the mosquitoes are bad, the men construct with forked sticks driven into the ground rude bedsteads, on which they sleep, a fire being made underneath to keep off with its smoke the troublesome insects. No bedsteads, however, fall to the share of the women, whose business it is to keep the fires burning whilst their lords sleep."

Concerning woman in the lower Murray tribes, Bulmer says[153] that "on the journey her lord would coolly walk along with merely his war implements, weighing only a few pounds, while his wife was carrying perhaps sixty pounds."

The lives of the women "are rated as of the less value than those of
the men." "Their corpses are often thrown to dogs for food" (Waitz,
VL, 775). "These poor creatures," says Wilkinson of the South
Australian women (322),

"are in an abject state, and are only treated with about the same consideration as the dogs that accompany them; they are obliged to give any food that may be desired to the men, and sit and see them eat it, considering themselves amply repaid if they are rewarded by having a piece of gizzle, or any other leavings, pitched to them."

J.S. Wood (71) relates this characteristic story:

"A native servant was late in keeping his appointment with his master, and, on inquiry, it was elicited that he had just quarrelled with one of his wives, and had speared her through the body. On being rebuked by his master, he turned off the matter with a laugh, merely remarking that white men had only one wife, whereas he had two, and did not mind losing one till he could buy another."

Sturt. who made two exploring expeditions (1829-1831), wrote (II., 55) that the men oblige their women to procure their own food, or they "throw to them over their shoulders the bones they have already picked, with a nonchalance that is extremely amusing." The women are also excluded from religious ceremonies; many of the best things to eat are taboo to them; and the cruel contempt of the men pursues them even after death. The men are buried with ceremony (Curr, I., 89), but "as the women and children are held to be very inferior to the men whilst alive, and their spirits are but little feared after death, they are interred with but scant ceremony… the women alone wailing." Thus they show their contempt even for the ghosts of women, though they are so afraid of other ghosts that they never leave camp in the dark or have a nocturnal dance except by moonlight or with big fires!


Such is the Australian's treatment of woman—a treatment so selfish, so inconsistent with the altruistic traits and impulses of romantic love—sympathy, gallantry, and self-sacrificing affection, not to speak of adoration—that it alone proves him incapable of so refined a sentiment. If any doubt remained, it would be removed by his utter inability to rise above the sensual sphere. The Australian is absolutely immoral and incredibly licentious. Here, however, we are confronted by a spectre with which the sentimentalists try to frighten the searchers for truth, and which must therefore be exorcised first. They grant the wantonness of savages, but declare that it is "due chiefly to the influence of civilization." This is one of the favorite subterfuges of Westermarck, who resorts to it again and again. In reference to the Australians he cites what Edward Stephens wrote regarding the former inhabitants of the Adelaide Plains:

"Those who speak of the natives as a naturally degraded race, either do not speak from experience, or they judge them by what they have become when the abuse of intoxicants and contact with the most wicked of the white race have begun their deadly work. As a rule to which there are no exceptions, if a tribe of blacks is found away from the white settlement, the more vicious of the white men are most anxious to make the acquaintance of the natives, and that, too, solely for purposes of immorality. … I saw the natives and was much with them before those dreadful immoralities were well known … and I say it fearlessly, that nearly all their evils they owed to the white man's immorality and to the white man's drink."

Now the first question a conscientious truth-seeker feels inclined to ask regarding this "fearless" Stephens who thus boldly accuses of ignorance all those who hold that the Australian race was degraded before it came in contact with whites, is, "Who is he and what are his qualifications for serving as a witness in this matter?" He is, or was, a simple-minded settler, kindly no doubt, who for some inscrutable reason was allowed to contribute a paper to the Journal of the Royal Society of New South Wales (Vol. XXXIII.). His qualifications for appearing as an expert in Australian anthropology may be inferred from various remarks in his paper. He naïvely tells a story about a native who killed an opossum, and after eating the meat, threw the intestines to his wife. "Ten years before that," he adds, "that same man would have treated his wife as himself." Yet we have just seen that all the explorers, in all parts of the country, found that the natives who had never seen a white man treated their women like slaves and dogs.


If the savage learned his wantonness from the whites, did he get all his other vicious habits from the same source? We know on the best authorities that the disgusting practice of cannibalism prevailed extensively among the natives. "They eat the young men when they die, and the young women if they are fat" (Curr, III., 147). Lumholtz entitled his book on Australia Among Cannibals. The Rev. G. Taplin says (XV.):

"Among the Dieyerie tribe cannibalism is the universal practice, and all who die are indiscriminately devoured … the mother eats the flesh of her children, and the children that of their mother," etc.

"If a man had a fat wife," says the same writer (2), "he was always particularly careful not to leave her unprotected, lest she might be seized by prowling cannibals." Among the wilder tribes few women are allowed to die a natural death, "they being generally despatched ere they become old and emaciated, that so much good food may not be lost."[154] Would the "fearless" Stephens say that the natives learned these practices from the whites? Would he say they learned from the whites the "universal custom … to slay every unprotected male stranger met with" (Curr, I., 133)?

"Infanticide is very common, and appears to be practised solely to get rid of the trouble of rearing children," wrote Eyre (II., 324). Curr (I., 70) heard that "some tribes within the area of the Central Division cut off the nipples of the females' breasts, in some instances, for the purpose of rendering their rearing of children impossible." On the Mitchell River, "children were killed for the most trivial offences, such as for accidentally breaking a weapon as they trotted about the camp" (Curr, II., 403). Twins are destroyed in South Australia, says Leigh (159), and if the mother dies "they throw the living infant into the grave, while infanticide is an every-day occurrence." Curr (I., 70) believes that the average number of children borne by each woman was six, the maximum ten; but of all these only two boys and one girl as a rule were kept, "the rest were destroyed immediately after birth," as we destroy litters of puppies. Sometimes the infants were smothered over a fire (Waitz, VI., 779), and deformed children were always killed. Taplin (13) writes that before his colony was established among them infanticide was very prevalent among the natives. "One intelligent woman said she thought that if the Europeans had waited a few more years they would have found the country without inhabitants." Strangulation, a blow of the waddy, or filling the ears with red-hot embers, were the favorite ways of killing their own babies.

Did the whites teach the angelic savages all these diabolical customs? If so, they must have taught them customs invented for the occasion, since they are not practised by whites in any part of the world. But perhaps Stephens would have been willing to waive this point. Sentimentalists are usually more or less willing to concede that savages are devils in most things if we will only admit in return that they are angels in their sexual relations. For instance, if we may believe Stephens, no nun was ever more modest than the native Australian woman. Once, he says, he was asked to visit a poor old black woman in the last stages of consumption:

"Her case was hopeless, and when she was in almost the last agony of mortal dissolution I was astounded at her efforts at concealment, indicative of extreme modesty. As I drew her opossum rug over her poor emaciated body the look of gratitude which came from her dying eyes told me in language more eloquent than words that beneath that dark and dying exterior there was a soul which in a few hours angels would delight to honor."

The poor woman was probably cold and glad to be covered; if she had any modesty regarding exposure of the body she could have learned it from no one but the dreadful, degraded whites, for the Australian himself is an utter stranger to such a feeling. On this point the explorers and students of the natives are unanimous. Both men and women went absolutely naked except in those regions where the climate was cold.


"They are as innocent of shame as the animals of the forest," says E. Palmer; and J. Bonwick writes: "Nakedness is no shame with them. As a French writer once remarked to a lady, 'With a pair of gloves you could clothe six men.'" Even ornaments are worn by the men only: "females are content with their natural charms." W.E. Roth, in his standard work on the Queensland natives, says that "with both sexes the privates are only covered on special public occasions, or when in close proximity to white settlements." With the Warburton River tribe (Curr, II, 18) "the women go quite naked, and the men have only a belt made of human hair round the waist from which a fringe spun of hair of rats hangs in front." Sturt wrote (I., 106): "The men are much better looking than the women; both go perfectly naked."

At the dances a covering of feathers or leaves is sometimes worn by the women, but is removed as soon as the dance is over. Narrinyeri girls, says Taplin (15), "wear a sort of apron of fringe, called Kaininggi, until they bear their first child. If they have no children it is taken from them and burned by their husbands while they are asleep." Meyer (189) says the same of the Encounter Bay tribe, and similar customs prevailed at Port Jackson and many other places. Summing up the observations of Cook, Turnbull, Cunningham, Tench, Hunter, and others, Waitz remarks (VI., 737):

"In the region of Sydney, too, the natives used to be entirely nude, and as late as 1816 men would go about the streets of Paramatta and Sydney naked, despite many prohibitions and attempts to clothe them, which always failed"

—so ingrained was the absence of shame in the native mind.

Jackman, the "Australian Captive," an Englishman who spent seventeen months among the natives, describes them as being "as nude as Adam and Eve" (99). "The Australians' utter lack of modesty is remarkable," writes F. Müller (207):

"it reveals itself in the way in which their clothes are worn. While an attempt is made to cover the upper, especially the back part of the body, the private parts are often left uncovered."

One early explorer, Sturt (II., 126), found the natives of the interior, without exception, "in a complete state of nudity."

The still earlier Governor Philipps (1787) found that the inhabitants of New South Wales had no idea that one part of the body ought to be covered more than any other. Captain Flinders, who saw much of Australia in 1795, speaks in one place (I., 66) of "the short skin cloak which is of kangaroo, and worn over the shoulders, leaving the rest of the body naked." This was in New South Wales. At Keppel Bay (II., 30) he writes: "These people … go entirely naked;" and so on at other points of the continent touched on his voyage. In Dawson (61) we read: "They were perfectly naked, as they always are." Nor has the Australian in his native state changed in the century or more since whites have known him. In the latest book on Central Australia (1899) by Spencer and Gillen we read (17) that to this day a native woman "with nothing on except an ancient straw hat and an old pair of boots is perfectly happy."


The reader is now in a position to judge of the reliability of the "fearless" Stephens as a witness, and of the blind bias of the anthropologist who uses him as such. It surely ought not to be necessary to prove that races among whom cannibalism, infanticide, wife enslavement and murder, and other hideous crimes are rampant as unreproved national customs, could not possibly be refined and moral in their sexual relations, which offer the greatest of all temptations to unrestrained selfishness. Yet Stephens tells us in his article that before the advent of the whites these people were chaste, and "conjugal infidelity was almost if not entirely unknown;" while Westermarck (61, 64, 65) classes the Australians with those savages "among whom sexual intercourse out of wedlock is of rare occurrence." On page 70 he declares that "in a savage condition of life … there is comparatively little reason for illegitimate relations;" and on page 539, in summing up his doctrines, he asserts that "we have some reason to believe that irregular connections between the sexes have, on the whole, exhibited a tendency to increase along with the progress of civilization." The refutation of this libel on civilization—which is widely believed—is one of the main objects of the following pages—is, in fact, one of the main objects of this whole volume.

There are a few cities in Southern Europe where the rate of illegitimacy equals, and in one or two cases slightly exceeds, the legitimate births; but that is owing to the fact that betrayed girls from the country nearly always go to the cities to find a refuge and hide their shame. Taking the countries as a whole we find that even Scotland, which has always had a somewhat unsavory reputation in this respect, had, in 1897, only 6.98 per cent of illegitimate births—say seven in a hundred; the highest rate since 1855 having been 10.2. There are, of course, besides this, cases of uncertain paternity, but their number is comparatively small, and it certainly is much larger in the less civilized countries of Europe than in the more civilized. Taking the five or six most advanced countries of Europe and America, it is safe to say that the paternity is certain in ninety cases out of a hundred. If we now look at the Australians as described by eye-witnesses since the earliest exploring tours, we find a state of affairs which makes paternity uncertain in all cases without exception, and also a complete indifference on the subject.


One of the first explorers of the desert interior was Eyre (1839). His experiences—covering ten years—led him to speak (378) of "the illicit and almost unlimited intercourse between the sexes." "Marriage is not looked upon as any pledge of chastity; indeed, no such virtue is recognized" (319). "Many of the native dances are of a grossly licentious character." Men rarely get married before they are twenty-five, but that does not mean that they are continent. From their thirteenth year they have promiscuous intercourse with girls who abandon themselves at the age of ten, though they rarely become mothers before they are sixteen.[155]

Another early explorer of the interior (1839), T.L. Mitchell, gives this glimpse of aboriginal morality (I., 133):

"The natives … in return for our former disinterested kindness, persisted in their endeavors to introduce us very particularly to their women. They ordered them to come up, divested of their cloaks and bags, and placed them before us. Most of the men appeared to possess two, the pair in general consisting of a fat plump gin and one much younger. Each man placed himself before his gins, and bowing forward with a shrug, the hands and arms being thrown back pointing to each gin, as if to say, Take which you please. The females, on their part, evinced no apprehension, but seemed to regard us as beings of a race so different, without the slightest indication of either fear, aversion, or surprise. Their looks were rather expressive of a ready acquiescence in the proffered kindness of the men, and when at length they brought a sable nymph vis-a-vis to Mr. White, I could preserve my gravity no longer, and throwing the spears aside, I ordered the bullock-drivers to proceed."

George Grey, who, during his two exploring expeditions into Northwestern and Western Australia, likewise came in contact with the "uncontaminated" natives, found that, though "a spear through the calf of the leg is the least punishment that awaits" a faithless wife if detected, and sometimes the death-penalty is inflicted, yet "the younger women were much addicted to intrigue" (I., 231, 253), as indeed they appear to be throughout the continent, as we shall see presently.

Of all Australian institutions none is more characteristic than the corrobborees or nocturnal dances which are held at intervals by the various tribes all over the continent, and were of course held centuries before a white man was ever seen on the continent; and no white man in his wildest nightmare ever dreamt of such scenes as are enacted at them. They are given preferably by moonlight, are apt to last all night, and are often attended by the most obscene and licentious practices. The corrobboree, says Curr (I., 92), was undoubtedly "often an occasion of licentiousness and atrocity"; fights, even wars, ensue, "and almost invariably as the result of outrages on women." The songs heard at these revels are sometimes harmless and the dances not indecent, says the Rev. G. Taplin (37),

     "but at other times the songs will consist of the vilest
     obscenity. I have seen dances which were the most disgusting
     displays of obscene gesture possible to be imagined, and
     although I stood in the dark alone, and nobody knew I was
     there, I felt ashamed to look upon such abominations…. The
     dances of the women are very immodest and lewd."
John Mathew (in Curr, III., 168) testifies regarding the corrobborees
of the Mary Eiver tribes that

"the representations were rarely free from obscenity, and on some occasions indecent gestures were the main parts of the action. I have seen a structure formed of huge forked sticks placed upright in the ground, the forks upward, with saplings reaching from fork to fork, and boughs laid over all. This building was part of the machinery for a corrobboree, at a certain stage of which the males, who were located on the roof, rushed down among the females, who were underneath and handled them licentiously."[156]


The lowest depth of aboriginal degradation remains to be sounded. Like most of the Africans, Australians are lower than animals inasmuch as they often do not wait till girls have reached the age of puberty. Meyer (190) says of the Narrinyeri: "They are given in marriage at a very early age (ten or twelve years)." Lindsay Cranford[157] testifies regarding five South Australian tribes that "at puberty no girl, without exception, is a virgin." With the Paroo River tribes "the girls became wives whilst mere children, and mothers at fourteen" (Curr, II., 182). Of other tribes Curr's correspondents write (107):

"Girls become wives at from eight to fourteen years." "One often sees a child of eight the wife of a man of fifty." "Girls are promised to men in infancy, become wives at about ten years of age, and mothers at fourteen or fifteen" (342).

The Birria tribe waits a few years longer, but atones for this by a resort to another crime: "Males and females are married at from fourteen to sixteen, but are not allowed to rear children until they get to be about thirty years of age; hence infanticide is general." The missionary O.W. Schürmann says of the Port Lincoln tribe (223): "Notwithstanding the early marriage of females, I have not observed that they have children at an earlier age than is common among Europeans." Of York district tribes we are told (I., 343) that "girls are betrothed shortly after birth, and brutalities are practised on them while mere children." Of the Kojonub tribe (348): "Girls are promised in marriage soon after birth, and given over to their husbands at about nine years of age." Of the Natingero tribe (380): "The girls go to live with their husbands at from seven to ten years, and suffer dreadfully from intercourse." Of the Yircla Meening tribe (402):

"Females become wives at ten and mothers at twelve years of age." "Mr. J.M. Davis and others of repute declare, as a result of long acquaintance with Australian savages, that the girls were made use of for promiscuous intercourse when they were only nine or ten years old." (Sutherland, I., 113.)

It is needless to continue this painful catalogue.


Eyre's assertion regarding chastity, that "no such virtue is recognized," has already been quoted, and is borne out by testimony of many other writers. In the Dieyerie tribe "each married woman is permitted a paramour." (Curr, II., 46.) Taplin says of the Narrinyeri (16, 18) that boys are not allowed to marry until their beard has grown a certain length; "but they are allowed the abominable privilege of promiscuous intercourse with the younger portion of the other sex." A.W. Howitt describes[158] a strange kind of group marriage prevalent among the Dieri and kindred tribes, the various couples being allotted to each other by the council of elder men without themselves being consulted as to their preferences. During the ensuing festivities, however, "there is for about four hours a general license in camp as regards" the couples thus "married." Meyer (191) says of the Encounter Bay tribes that if a man from another tribe arrives having anything which a native desires to purchase, "he perhaps makes a bargain to pay by letting him have one of his wives for a longer or shorter period." Angas (I., 93) refers to the custom of lending wives. In Victoria the natives have a special name for the custom of lending one of their wives to young men who have none. Sometimes they are thus lent for a month at a time.[159] As we shall presently see, one reason why Australian men marry is to have the means of making friends by lending their wives to others. The custom of allowing friends to share the husband's privileges was also widely prevalent.

In New South Wales and about Riverina, says Brough Smyth (II., 316),

"in any instance where the abduction [of a woman] has taken place by a party of men for the benefit of some one individual, each of the members of the party claims, as a right, a privilege which the intended husband has no power to refuse."

Curr informs us (I., 128) that if a woman resist her husband's orders to give herself up to another man she is "either speared or cruelly beaten." Fison (303) believes that the lending of wives to visitors was looked on not as a favor but a duty—a right which the visitor could claim; and Howitt showed that in the native gesture language there was a special sign for this custom—"a peculiar folding of the hands," indicating "either a request or an offer, according as it is used by the guest or the host."[160] Concerning Queensland tribes Roth says (182):

"If an aboriginal requires a woman temporarily for venery he either borrows a wife from her husband for a night or two in exchange for boomerangs, a shield, food, etc., or else violates the female when unprotected, when away from the camp out in the bush. In the former case the husband looks upon the matter as a point of honor to oblige his friend, the greatest compliment that can be paid him, provided that permission is previously asked. On the other hand, were he to refuse he has the fear hanging over him that the petitioner might get a death-bone pointed at him—and so, after all, his apparent courtesy may be only Hobson's choice. In the latter case, if a married woman, and she tells her husband, she gets a hammering, and should she disclose the delinquent, there will probably be a fight, and hence she usually keeps her mouth shut; if a single woman, or of any paedomatronym other than his own, no one troubles himself about the matter. On the other hand, death by the spear or club is the punishment invariably inflicted by the camp council collectively for criminally assaulting any blood relative, group-sister (i.e., a female member of the same paedomatronym) or young woman that has not yet been initiated into the first degree."

The last sentence would indicate that these tribes are not so indifferent to chastity as the other natives; but the information given by Roth (who for three years was surgeon-general to the Boulia, Cloncurry and Normanton hospitals) dispels such an illusion most radically.[161]


In Central Australia, says H. Kempe,[162] "there is no separation of the sexes in social life; in the daily camp routine as well as at festivals all the natives mingle as they choose." Curr asserts (I., 109) that

"in most tribes a woman is not allowed to converse or have any relations whatever with any adult male, save her husband. Even with a grown-up brother she is almost forbidden to exchange a word."

Grey (II., 255) found that at dances the females sat in groups apart and the young men were never allowed to approach them and not permitted to hold converse with any one except their mother or sisters. "On no occasion," he adds,

"is a strange native allowed to approach the fire of the married." "The young men and boys of ten years of age and upward are obliged to sleep in their portion of the encampment."

From such testimony one might infer that female chastity is successfully guarded; but the writers quoted themselves take care to dispel that illusion. Grey tells us that (in spite of these arrangements) "the young females are much addicted to intrigue;" and again (248):

"Should a female be possessed of considerable personal attractions, the first years of her life must necessarily be very unhappy. In her early infancy she is betrothed to some man, even at this period advanced in years, and by whom, as she approaches the age of puberty, she is watched with a degree of vigilance and care, which increases in proportion to the disparity of years between them; it is probably from this circumstance that so many of them are addicted to intrigues, in which if they are detected by their husbands, death or a spear through some portion of the body is their certain fate."

And Curr shows in the following (109) how far the attempts at seclusion are from succeeding in enforcing chastity:

"Notwithstanding the savage jealousy, varied by occasional degrading complaisance on the part of the husband, there is more or less intrigue in every camp; and the husband usually assumes that his wife has been unfaithful to him whenever there has been an opportunity for criminality…. In some tribes the husband will frequently prostitute his wife to his brother; otherwise more commonly to strangers visiting his tribe than to his own people, and in this way our exploring parties have been troubled with proposals of the sort."

Apart from the other facts here given, the words I have italicized above would alone show that what makes an Australian in some instances guard his females is not a regard for chastity, or jealousy in our sense of the word, but simply a desire to preserve his movable property—a slave and concubine who, if young or fat, is very liable to be stolen or, on account of the bad treatment she receives from her old master, to run away with a younger man.[163]

If any further evidence were needed on this head it would be supplied by the authoritative statement of J.D. Wood[164] that

"In fact, chastity as a virtue is absolutely unknown amongst all the tribes of which there are records. The buying, taking, or stealing of a wife is not at all influenced by considerations of antecedent purity on the part of the woman. A man wants a wife and he obtains one somehow. She is his slave and there the matter ends."


Since this chapter was written a new book on Australia has appeared which bears out the views here taken so admirably that I must insert a brief reference to its contents. It is Spencer and Gillen's The Native Tribes of Central Australia (1899), and relates to nine tribes over whom Baldwin Spencer had been placed as special magistrate and sub-protector for some years, during which he had excellent opportunities to study their customs. The authors tell us (62, 63) that

"In the Urabunna tribe every woman is the special Nupa of one particular man, but at the same time he has no exclusive right to her, as she is the Piraungaru of certain other men who also have the right of access to her…. There is no such thing as one man having the exclusive right to one woman…. Individual marriage does not exist either in name or in practice in the Urabunna tribe."

"Occasionally, but rarely, it happens that a man attempts to prevent his wife's Piraungaru from having access to her, but this leads to a fight, and the husband is looked upon as churlish. When visiting distant groups where, in all likelihood, the husband has no Piraungaru, it is customary for other men of his own class to offer him the loan of one or more of their Nupa women, and a man, besides lending a woman over whom he has the first right, will also lend his Piraungaru."

In the Arunta tribe there is a restriction of a particular woman to a particular man, "or rather, a man has an exclusive right to one special woman, though he may of his own free will lend her to other men," provided they stand in a certain artificial relation to her (74). However (92):

"Whilst under ordinary circumstances in the Arunta and other tribes one man is only allowed to have marital relations with women of a particular class, there are customs which allow at certain times of a man having such relations with women to whom at other times he would not on any account be allowed to have access. We find, indeed, that this holds true in the case of all the nine different tribes with the marriage customs of which we are acquainted, and in which a woman becomes the private property of one man."

In the southern Arunta, after a certain ceremony has been performed, the bride is brought back to camp and given to her special Unawa. "That night he lends her to one or two men who are unawa to her, and afterward she belongs to him exclusively." At this time when a woman is being, so to speak, handed over to one particular individual, special individuals with whom at ordinary times she may have no intercourse, have the right of access to her. Such customs our authors interpret plausibly as partial promiscuity pointing to a time when still greater laxity prevailed—suggesting rudimentary organs in animals (96).

Among some tribes at corrobboree time, every day two or three women are told off and become the property of all the men on the corrobboree grounds, excepting fathers, brothers, or sons. Thus there are three stages of individual ownership in women: In the first, whilst the man has exclusive right to a woman, he can and does lend her to certain other men; in the second there is a wider relation in regard to particular men at the time of marriage; and in the third a still wider relation to all men except the nearest relatives, at corrobboree time. Only in the first of these cases can we properly speak of wife "lending"; in the other cases the individuals have no choice and cannot withhold their consent, the matter being of a public or tribal nature. As regards the corrobborees, it is supposed to be the duty of every man at different times to send his wife to the ground, and the most striking feature in regard to it is that the first man who has access to her is the very one to whom, under normal conditions, she is most strictly taboo, her Mura. [All women whose daughters are eligible as wives are mura to a man.] Old and young men alike must give up their wives on these occasions. "It is a custom of ancient date which is sanctioned by public opinion, and to the performance of which neither men nor women concerned offer any opposition" (98).


These revelations of Spencer and Gillen, taken in connection with the abundant evidence I have cited from the works of early explorers as to the utter depravity of the aboriginal Australian when first seen by white men, will make it impossible hereafter for anyone whose reasoning powers exceed a native Australian's to maintain that it was the whites who corrupted these savages. It takes an exceptionally shrewd white man even to unravel the customs of voluntary or obligatory wife sharing or lending which prevail in all parts of Australia, and which must have required not only hundreds but thousands of years to assume their present extraordinarily complex aspect; customs which form part and parcel of the very life of Australians and which represent the lowest depths of sexual depravity, since they are utterly incompatible with chastity, fidelity, legitimacy, or anything else we understand by sexual morality. In some cases, no doubt, contact with the low whites and their liquor aggravated these evils by fostering professional prostitution and making men even more ready than before to treat their wives as merchandise. Lumholtz, who lived several years among these savages, makes this admission (345), but at the same time he is obliged to join all the other witnesses in declaring that apart from this "there is not much to be said of the morals of the blacks, for I am sorry to say they have none." On a previous page (42) I cited Sutherland's summary of a report of the House of Commons (1844, 350 pages), which shows that the Australian native, as found by the first white visitors, manifested "an absolute incapacity to form even a rudimentary notion of chastity." The same writer, who was born and brought up in Australia, says (I., 121):

"In almost every case the father or husband will dispose of the girl's virtue for a small price. When white men came they found these habits prevailing. The overwhelming testimony proves it absurd to say that they demoralized the unsophisticated savages."

And again (I., 186),

"It is untrue that in sexual license the savage has ever anything to learn. In almost every tribe there are pollutions deeper than any I have thought it necessary to mention, and all that the lower fringe of civilized men can do to harm the uncivilized is to stoop to the level of the latter, instead of teaching them a better way."[165]


As regards the promiscuity question, Spencer and Gillen's observations go far to confirm some of the seemingly fantastic speculations regarding "a thousand miles of wives," and so on, contained in the volume of Fison and Howitt[166] and to make it probable that unregulated intercourse was the state of primitive man at a stage of evolution earlier than any known to us now. Since the appearance of Westermarck's History of Human Marriage it has become the fashion to regard the theory of promiscuity as disproved. Alfred Russell Wallace, in his preface to this book, expresses his opinion that "independent thinkers" will agree with its author on most of the points wherein he takes issue with his famous predecessors, including Spencer, Morgan, Lubbock, and others. Ernst Grosse, in a volume which the president of the German Anthropological Society pronounced "epoch-making"—Die Formen der Familie—refers (43) to Westermarck's "very thorough refutation" of this theory, which he stigmatizes as one of the blunders of the unfledged science of sociology which it will be best to forget as soon as possible; adding that "Westermarck's best weapons were, however, forged by Starcke."

In a question like this, however, two independent observers are worth more than two hundred "independent thinkers." Spencer and Gillen are eye-witnesses, and they inform us repeatedly (100, 105, 108, 111) that Westermarck's objections to the theory of promiscuity do not stand the test of facts and that none of his hypotheses explains away the customs which point to a former prevalence of promiscuity. They have absolutely disproved his assertion (539) that "it is certainly not among the lowest peoples that sexual relations most nearly approach promiscuity." Cunow, who, as Grosse admits (50), has written the most thorough and authentic monograph on the complicated family relationship of Australia, devotes two pages (122-23) to exposing some of Westermarck's arguments, which, as he shows, "border on the comic." I myself have in this chapter, as well as in those on Africans, American Indians, South Sea Islanders, etc., revealed the comicality of the assertion that there is in a savage condition of life "comparatively little reason for illegitimate relations," which forms one of the main props of Westermarck's anti-promiscuity theory; and I have also reduced ad absurdum his systematic overrating of savages in the matter of liberty of choice, esthetic taste and capacity for affection which resulted from his pet theory and marred his whole book.[167]

It is interesting to note that Darwin (D.M., Ch. XX.) concluded from the facts known to him that "almost promiscuous intercourse or very loose intercourse was once extremely common throughout the world:" and the only thing that seemed to deter him from believing in absolutely promiscuous intercourse was the "strength of the feeling of jealousy." Had he lived to understand the true nature of savage jealousy explained in this volume and to read the revelations of Spencer and Gillen, that difficulty would have vanished. On this point, too, their remarks are of great importance, fully bearing out the view set forth in my chapter on jealousy. They declare (99) that they did not find sexual jealousy specially developed:

"For a man to have unlawful intercourse with any woman arouses a feeling which is due not so much to jealousy as to the fact that the delinquent has infringed a tribal custom. If the intercourse has been with a woman who belongs to the class from which his wife comes, then he is called atna nylkna (which, literally translated, is vulva thief); if with one with whom it is unlawful for him to have intercourse, then he is called iturka, the most opprobrious term in the Arunta language. In the one case he has merely stolen property, in the other he has offended against tribal law."

Jealousy, they sum up, "is indeed a factor which need not be taken into serious account in regard to the question of sexual relations amongst the Central Australian tribes."

The customs described by these authors show, moreover, that these savages do not allow jealousy to stand in the way of sexual communism, a man who refuses to share his wife being considered churlish, in one class of cases, while in another no choice is allowed him, the matter being arranged by the tribe. This point has not heretofore been sufficiently emphasized. It knocks away one of the strongest props of the anti-promiscuity theory, and it is supported by the remarks of Howitt,[168] who, after explaining how, among the Dieri, couples are chosen by headmen without consulting their wishes,—new allotments being made at each circumcision ceremony—and how the dance is followed by a general license, goes on to relate that all these matters are carefully arranged so as to prevent jealousy. Sometimes this passion breaks out nevertheless, leading to bloody quarrels; but the main point is that systematic efforts are made to suppress jealousy: "No jealous feeling is allowed to be shown during this time under penalty of strangling." Whence we may fairly infer that under more primitive conditions the individual was allowed still less right to assert jealous claims of individual possession.

Australian jealousy presents some other interesting aspects, but we shall be better able to appreciate them if we first consider why a native ever puts himself into a position where jealous watchfulness of private property is called for.


Since chastity among the young of both sexes is not held of any account, and since the young girls, who are married to men four or five times their age, are always ready for an intrigue with a young bachelor, why does an Australian ever marry? He does not marry for love, for, as this whole chapter proves, he is incapable of such a sentiment. His appetites need not urge him to marry, since there are so many ways of appeasing them outside of matrimony. He does not marry to enjoy a monopoly of a woman's favors, since he is ready to share them with others. Why then does he marry? One reason may be that, as the men get older (they seldom marry before they are twenty-five or even thirty), they have less relish for the dangers connected with woman-stealing and intrigues. A second reason is indicated in Hewitt's explanation (Jour. Anthr. Inst., XX., 58), that it is an advantage to an Australian to have as many wives as possible, as they work and hunt for him, and "he also obtains great influence in the tribe by lending them his Piraurus occasionally, and receiving presents from the young men."

The main reason, however, why an Australian marries is in order that he may have a drudge. I have previously cited Eyre's statement that the natives

"value a wife principally as a slave; in fact, when asked why they are anxious to obtain wives, their usual reply is, that they may get wood, water, and food for them, and carry whatever property they possess."

H. Kempe (loc. cit., 55) says that

"if there are plenty of girls they are married as early as possible (at the age of eight to ten), as far as possible to one and the same man, for as it is the duty of the women to provide food, a man who has several wives can enjoy his leisure the more thoroughly."

And Lindsay Cranford testifies (Jour. Anthrop. Inst., XXIV., 181) regarding the Victoria River natives that,

"after about thirty years of age a man is allowed to have as many women as he likes, and the older he gets the younger the girls are that he gets, probably to work and get food for him, for in their wild state the man is too proud to do anything except carry a woomera and spear."

Under these circumstances it is needless to say that there is not a trace of romance connected with an Australian marriage. After a man has secured his girl, she quietly submits and goes with him as his wife and drudge, to build his camp, gather firewood, fetch water, make nets, clear away grass, dig roots, fish for mussels, be his baggage mule on journeys, etc. (Brough Smyth, 84); and Eyre (II., 319) thus completes the picture. There is, he says, no marriage ceremony:

"In those cases where I have witnessed the giving away of a wife, the woman was simply ordered by the nearest male relative in whose disposal she was, to take up her 'rocko,' the bag in which a female carries the effects of her husband, and go to the man's camp to whom she had been given."


Thus the woman becomes the man's slave—his property in every sense of the word. No matter how he obtained her—by capture, elopement, or exchange for another woman—she is his own, as much as his spear or his boomerang. "The husband is the absolute owner of the wife," says Curr (I., 109). To cite Eyre once more (318):

"Wives are considered the absolute property of the husband, and can be given away, or exchanged, or lent, according to his caprice. A husband is denominated in the Adelaide dialect, Yongarra, Martanya (the owner or proprietor of a wife)."

A whole chapter in sociology is sometimes summed up in a word, as we see in this case. Another instance is the word gramma, concerning which we read in Lumholtz (126):

"The robbery of women, who also among these savages are regarded as a man's most valuable property, is both the grossest and the most common theft; for it is the usual way of getting a wife. Hence woman is the chief cause of disputes. Inchastity, which is called gramma, i.e., to steal, also falls under the head of theft."

Here we have a simple and concise explanation of Australian jealousy. The native knows jealousy in its crudest form—that of mere animal rage at being prevented by a rival from taking immediate possession of the object of his desire. He knows also the jealousy of property—i.e., revenge for infringement on it. Of this it is needless to give examples. But he knows not true jealousy—i.e., anxious concern for his wife's chastity and fidelity, since he is always ready to barter these things for a trifle. Proofs of this have already been adduced in abundance. Here is another authoritative statement by the missionary Schurmann, who writes (223):

"The loose practices of the aborigines, with regard to the sanctity of matrimony, form the worst trait in their character; although the men are capable of fierce jealousy if their wives transgress unknown to them, yet they frequently send them out to other parties, or exchange with a friend for a night; and, as for near relatives, such as brothers, it may almost be said that they have their wives in common."

An incident related by W.H. Leigh (152) shows in a startling way that among the Australians jealousy means nothing more than a desire for revenge because of infringement on property rights:

"A chief discovered that one of his wives had been sinning, and called a council, at which it was decided that the criminal should be sacrificed, or the adulterous chief give a victim to appease the wrathful husband. This was agreed to and he gave one of his wives, who was immediately escorted to the side of the river … and there the ceremony was preluded by a war-song, and the enraged chief rushed upon the innocent and unfortunate victim—bent down her head upon her chest, whilst another thrust the pointed bone of a kangaroo under her left rib, and drove it upwards into her heart. The shrieks of the poor wretch brought down to the spot many colonists, who arrived in time only to see the conclusion of the horrid spectacle. After they had buried the bone in her body they took their glass-pointed spears and tore her entrails out, and finally fractured her skull with their waddies. This barbarous method of wreaking vengeance is common among them."[169]

The men being indifferent to female chastity, it would be vain to expect true jealousy on the part of the women. The men are entirely unrestrained in their appetites unless they interfere with other men's property rights, and in a community where polygamy prevails the jealousy which is based in a monopoly of affection has little chance to flourish. Taplin says (101) that

"a wife amongst the heathen aborigines has no objection to her husband taking another spouse, provided she is younger than herself, but if he brings home one older than herself there is apt to be trouble"

as the senior wife is "mistress of the camp," and in such a case the first wife is apt to run away. Vanity and envy, or the desire to be the favorite, thus appear to be the principal ingredients in an Australian woman's jealousy. Meyer (191) says of the Encounter Bay tribe:

"If a man has several girls at his disposal, he speedily obtains several wives, who, however, very seldom agree well with each other, but are continually quarreling, each endeavoring to be the favorite."

This, it will be observed, is the jealousy two pet dogs will feel of each other, and is utterly different from modern conjugal or lover's jealousy, which is chiefly based on an ardent regard for chastity and unswerving fidelity. In this phase jealousy is a noble and useful passion, helping to maintain the purity of the family; whereas, in the phase that prevails among savages it is utterly selfish and brutal. Palmer says[170] that "a new woman would always be beaten by the other wife, and a good deal would depend on the fighting powers of the former whether she kept her position or not." "Among the Kalkadoon," writes Roth (141),

"where a man may have three, four, or even five gins, the discarded ones will often, through jealousy, fight with her whom they consider more favored. On such occasions they may often resort to stone-throwing, or even use fire-sticks and stone-knives with which to mutilate the genitals."

Lumholtz says (213) the black women "often have bitter quarrels about men whom they love and are anxious to marry. If the husband is unfaithful, the wife frequently becomes greatly enraged."

George Grey (II., 312-14) gives an amusing sketch of an aboriginal scene of conjugal bliss. Weerang, an old man, has four wives, the last of whom, just added to the harem, gets all his attention. This excites the anger of one of the older ones, who reproaches the husband with having stolen her, an unwilling bride, from another and better man. "May the sorcerer," she adds, "bite and tear her whom you have now taken to your bed. Here am I, rebuking young men who dare to look at me, while she, your favorite, replete with arts and wiles, dishonors you." This last insinuation is too much for the young favorite, who retorts by calling her a liar and declaring that she has often seen her exchanging nods and winks with her paramour. The rival's answer is a blow with her stick. A general engagement follows, which the old man finally ends by beating several of the wives severely about the head with a hammer.[171]


Jealousy is capable of converting even civilized women into fiends; all the more these bush women, who have few opportunities for cultivating the gentler feminine qualities. Indeed, so masculine are these women that were it not for woman's natural inferiority in strength their tyrants might find it hard to subdue them. Bulmer says[172] that

"as a rule both husband and wife had fearful tempers; there was no bearing and forbearing. When they quarrelled it was a matter of the strongest conquering, for neither would give in."

Describing a native fight over some trifling cause Taplin says (71):

"Women were dancing about naked, casting dust in the air, hurling obscene language at their enemies, and encouraging their friends. It was a perfect tempest of rage."

Roth says of the Queensland natives that the women fight like men, with thick, heavy fighting poles, four feet long.

"One of the combatants, with her hands between her knees, supposing that only one stick is available, ducks her head slightly—almost in the position of a school-boy playing leap-frog, and waits for her adversary's blow, which she receives on the top of her head. The attitudes are now reversed, and the one just attacked is now the attacking party. Blow for blow is thus alternated until one of them gives in, which is generally the case after three or four hits. Great animal pluck is sometimes displayed…. Should a woman ever put up her hand or a stick, etc., to ward a blow, she would be regarded in the light of a coward" (141).

"At Genorminston, the women coming up to join a fray give a sort of war-whoop; they will jump up in the air, and as their feet, a little apart, touch the ground, they knock up the dust and sand with the fighting-pole, etc., held between their legs, very like one's early reminiscences in the picture-books of a witch riding a broom-stick."

"The ferocity of the women when excited exceeds that of the men," Grey informs us (II., 314); "they deal dreadful blows at one another," etc.

For some unexplained reason—possibly a vague sense of fair play which in time may lead to the beginnings of gallantry—there is one occasion, an initiation ceremonial, at which women are allowed to have their innings while the men are dancing. On this occasion, says Roth (176),

"each woman can exercise her right of punishing any man who may have ill-treated, abused, or hammered her, and for whom she may have waited months or perhaps years to chastise; for, as each pair appear around the corner at the entrance exposed to her view, the woman and any of her female friends may take a fighting-pole and belabor the particular culprit to their heart's content, the delinquent not being allowed to retaliate in any way whatsoever—the only occasion in the whole of her life when the woman can take the law into her own hands without fear or favor."


This last assertion is not strictly accurate. There are other occasions when women take the law into their hands, especially when men try to steal them, an every-day occurrence, at least in former times. Thus W.H. Leigh writes of the South Australians (152):

"Their manner of courtship is one which would not be popular among English ladies. If a chief, or any other individual, be smitten by a female of a different tribe, he endeavors to waylay her; and if she be surprised in any quiet place, the ambushed lover rushes upon her, beats her about the head with his waddy till she becomes senseless, when she is dragged in triumph to his hut. It sometimes happens, however, that she has a thick skull, and resents his blows, when a battle ensues, and not unfrequently ends in the discomfiture of the Adonis."

Similarly G.B. Wilkinson describes how the young men go, usually in groups of two or three, to capture brides of hostile tribes. They lurk about in concealment till they see that the women are alone, when they pounce upon them and, either by persuasion or blows, take away those they want; whereupon they try to regain their own tribe before pursuit can be attempted. "This stealing of wives is one cause of the frequent wars that take place amongst the natives."

Barrington's History of New South Wales is adorned with the picture of a big naked man having beside him, on her back, a beautifully formed naked girl whom he is dragging away by one arm. The monster, we read in the text, has come upon her unawares, clubbed her on the head and other parts of the body,

"then snatching up one of her arms, he drags her, streaming with blood from her wounds, through the woods, over stones, rocks, hills, and logs, with all the violence and determination of a savage," etc.

Curr (I., 237) objects to this picture as a gross exaggeration. He also declares (I., 108) that it is only on rare occasions that a wife is captured from another tribe and carried off, and that at present woman-stealing is not encouraged, as it is apt to involve a whole tribe in war for one man's sake. From older writers, however, one gets the impression that wife-stealing was a common custom. Howitt (351) remarks concerning the "wild white man" William Buckley, who lived many years among the natives, and whose adventures were written up by John Morgan, that at first sight his statements "seem to record merely a series of duels and battles about women who were stolen, speared, and slaughtered;" and Brough Smyth (77) quotes John Bulmer, who says that among the Gippsland natives

"sometimes a man who has no sister [to swap] will, in desperation, steal a wife; but this is invariably a cause of bloodshed. Should a woman object to go with her husband, violence would be used. I have seen a man drag away a woman by the hair of her head. Often a club is used until the poor creature is frightened into submission."

In South Australia there is a special expression for bride-stealing—Milla mangkondi, or force-marriage. (Bonwick, 65.)

Mitchell (I., 307) also observed that the possession of the women "seems to be associated with all their ideas of fighting." The same impression is conveyed by the writings of Salvado, Wilkes, and others—Sturt, e.g., who wrote (II., 283) that the abduction of a married or unmarried woman was a frequent cause of quarrel. Mitchell (I., 330) relates that when some whites told a native that they had killed a native of another tribe, his first thought and only remark was, "Stupid white fellows! Why did you not bring away the gins (women)?" It is unfortunate for a woman to possess the kind of "beauty" Australians admire for, as Grey says (II., 231),

"The early life of a young woman at all celebrated for beauty is generally one continued series of captivity to different masters, of ghastly wounds, of wanderings in strange families, of rapid flights, of bad treatment from other females amongst whom she is brought a stranger by her captor; and rarely do you see a form of unusual grace and elegance but it is marked and scarred by the furrows of old wounds; and many a female thus wanders several hundred miles from the home of her infancy."

It is not only from other and hostile tribes that these men forcibly appropriate girls or married women. Among the Hunter River tribes (Curr, III., 353), "men renowned as warriors frequently attacked their inferiors in strength and took their wives from them." The Queensland natives, we are told by Narcisse Peltier, who lived among them seventeen years, "not unfrequently fight with spears for the possession of a woman" (Spencer, P.S., I., 601). Lumholtz says (184) that "the majority of the young men wait a long time before they get wives, partly for the reason that they have not the courage to fight the requisite duel for one with an older man." On another page (212) he relates:

"Near Herbert Vale I had the good fortune to be able to witness a marriage among the blacks. A camp of natives was just at the point of breaking up, when an old man suddenly approached a woman, seized her by the wrist of her left hand and shouted Yongul ngipa!—that is, This one belongs to me (literally 'one I'). She resisted with feet and hands, and cried, but he dragged her off, though she made resistance during the whole time and cried at the top of her voice. For a mile away we could hear her shrieks…. But the women always make resistance, for they do not like to leave their tribe, and in many instances they have the best of reasons for kicking their lovers. If a man thinks he is strong enough, he will take hold of any woman's hand and utter his yongul ngipa. If a woman is good-looking, all the men want her, and the one who is most influential, or who is the strongest, is accordingly generally the victor."


It is obvious that when women are forcibly appropriated at home or stolen from other tribes, their inclination or choice is not consulted. A man wants a woman and she is seized, nolens volens, whether married or single. If she gets a man she likes, it is a mere accident, not likely to occur often. The same is true of another form of Australian "courtship" which may be called swapping girls, and which is far the most common way of getting a wife. Curr, after forty years' experience with native affairs, wrote (I., 107) that "the Australian male almost invariably obtains his wife or wives, either as the survivor of a married brother, or in exchange for his sisters or daughters." The Rev. H.E.A. Meyer says (10) that the marriage ceremony

"may with great propriety be considered an exchange, for no man can obtain a wife unless he can promise to give his sister or other relative in exchange…. Should the father be living he may give his daughter away, but generally she is the gift of the brother … the girls have no choice in the matter, and frequently the parties have never seen each other before…. If a man has several girls at his disposal, he speedily obtains several wives,"

Eyre (II., 318) declares that

"the females, especially the young ones, are kept principally among the old men, who barter away their daughters, sisters, or nieces, in exchange for wives for themselves or their sons."

Grey (II., 230) says the same thing in different words:

"The old men manage to keep the females a good deal amongst themselves, giving their daughters to one another, and the more female children they have, the greater chance have they of getting another wife, by this sort of exchange."

Brough Smyth thus sums up (II., 84) the information on this subject he obtained from divers sources. A yam-stick is given to a girl when she reaches the age of marriage; with this she drives away any young man she does not fancy, for a mere "no" would not keep him at bay. "The women never initiate matches;" these are generally arranged between two young men who have sisters to exchange. "The young woman's opinion is not asked." When the young man is ready to "propose" to the girl he has bartered his sister for, he walks up to her equipped as for war—ready to parry her "love-taps" if she feels inclined that way. "After a little fencing between the pair the woman, if she has no serious objections to the man, quietly submits." If she has "serious objections," what happens? The same writer tells us graphically (76):

"By what mode soever a man procures a bride, it is very seldom an occasion of rejoicing by the female. The males engross the privilege of disposing of their female relatives, and it often happens that an old man of sixty or seventy will add to his domestic circle a young girl of ten or twelve years of age…. A man having a daughter of thirteen or fourteen years of age arranges with some elderly person for the disposal of her, and when all are agreed, she is brought out of the miam-miam, and told that her husband wants her. Perhaps she has never seen him, or seen him but to loathe him. The father carries a spear and waddy, or a tomahawk, and anticipating resistance, is thus prepared for it. The poor girl, sobbing and sighing, and uttering words of complaint, claims pity from those who will show none. If she resists the mandates of her father, he strikes her with his spear; if she rebels and screams, the blows are repeated; and if she attempts to run away, a stroke on the head from the waddy or tomahawk quiets her…. Seizing the bride by the hair the stern father drags her to the home prepared for her by her new owner…. If she attempts to abscond, the bridegroom does not hesitate to strike her savagely on the head with his waddy; and the bridal screams and yells make the night hideous…. If she is still determined to escape and makes the attempt, the father will at last spear her in the leg or foot, to prevent her from running."

No more than girls are widows allowed the liberty of choice. Sometimes they are disposed of by being exchanged for young women of another tribe and have to marry the men chosen for them (95).

"When wives are from thirty-five to forty years of age, they are frequently cast off by their husbands, or are given to the younger men in exchange for their sisters or near relatives, if such are at their disposal" (Eyre, II., 322).

In the Murray tribes "a widow could not marry any one she chose. She was the property of her husband's family, hence she must marry her husband's brother or near relative; and even if he had a wife she must become No. 2 or 3."


The evidence, in short, is unanimously to the effect that the Australian girl has absolutely no liberty of choice. Yet the astonishing Westermarck, ignoring, more suo, the overwhelming number of facts against him, endeavors in two places (217, 223) to convey the impression to his readers that she does largely enjoy the freedom of choice, placing his sole reliance in two assertions by Howitt and Mathew.[173] Howitt says that among the Kurnai, women are allowed free choice, and Mathew "asserts that, with varying details, marriage by mutual consent will be found among other tribes, also, though it is not completed except by means of a runaway match." Now Hewitt's assertion is contradicted by Curr, who, in addition to his own forty years of experience among the natives had the systematized notes of a large number of correspondents to base his conclusions on. He says (I., 108) that "in no instance, unless Mr. Howitt's account of the Kurnai be correct, which I doubt, has the female any voice in the selection of a husband." He might have added that Hewitt's remark is contradicted in his own book, where we are told that among the Kurnai elopement is the rule. Strange to say, it seems to have occurred neither to Howitt, nor to Westermarck, nor to Mathew that elopement proves the absence of choice, for if there were liberty of choice the couple would not be obliged to run away. Nor is this all. The facts prove that marriage by actual elopement[174] is of rare occurrence; that "marriage" based on such elopement is nearly always adulterous (with another man's wife) and of brief duration—a mere intrigue, in fact; that the guilty couple are severely punished, if not killed outright; and that everything that is possible is done to prevent or frustrate elopements based on individual preference or liking. On the first of these points Curr gives us the most comprehensive and reliable information (I., 108):

"Within the tribe, lovers occasionally abscond to some corner of the tribal territory, but they are soon overtaken, the female cruelly beaten, or wounded with a spear, the man in most cases remaining unpunished. Very seldom are men allowed to retain as wives their partners in these escapades. Though I have been acquainted with many tribes, and heard matters of the sort talked over in several of them, I never knew but three instances of permanent runaway matches; two in which men obtained as wives women already married in the tribe, and one case in which the woman was a stranger."

William Jackman, who was held as a captive by the natives for seventeen months, tells a similar story. Elopements, he says (174), are usually with wives. The couple escape to a distant tribe and remain a few months—rarely more than seven or eight, so far as he observed; then the faithless wife is returned to her husband and the elopers are punished more or less severely. "At times," we read in Spencer and Gillen (556, 558)

"the eloping couple are at once followed up and then, if caught, the woman is, if not killed on the spot, at all events treated in such a way that any further attempt at elopement on her part is not likely to take place."

Sometimes the husband seems glad to have got rid of his wife, for when the elopers return to camp he first has his revenge by cutting the legs and body of both and then he cries "You keep altogether, I throw away, I throw away."

It is instructive to note with what ingenuity the natives seek to prevent matches based on mutual inclination. Taplin says (11) of the Narrinyeri that "a young woman who goes away with a man and lives with him as his wife without the consent of her relatives is regarded as very little better than a prostitute." Among these same Narrinyeri, says Gason, "it is considered disgraceful for a woman to take a husband who has given no other woman for her." (Bonwick, 245.) The deliberate animosity against free choice is emphasized by a statement in Brough Smyth (79), that if the owner of an eloping female suspects that she favored the man she eloped with, "he will not hesitate to maim or kill her." She must have no choice or preference of her own, under any circumstances. It must be remembered, too, that even an actual elopement by no means proves that the woman is following a special inclination. She may be merely anxious to get away from a cruel or superannuated husband. In such cases the woman may take the initiative. Dawson (65) once said to a native, "You should not have carried Mary away from her husband"; to which the man replied, "Bael (not) dat, massa; Mary come me. Dat husband wurry bad man: he waddy (beat) Mary. Mary no like it, so it leabe it. Dat fellow no good, massa."

Obviously, Australian elopement not only gives no indication of romantic feelings, but even as an incident it is apt to be prosaic or cruel rather than romantic, as our elopements are. In many cases it is hard to distinguish from brutal capture, as we may infer from an incident related by Curr (108-9). He was sleeping at a station on the Lachlan.

"During the night I was awoke by the scream of a woman, and a general yell from the men in the camp. Not knowing what could be the matter, I seized a weapon, jumped out of bed, and rushed outside. There I found a young married woman standing by her fire, trembling all over, with a barbed spear through her thigh. As for the men, they were rushing about, here and there, in an excited state, with their spears in their hands. The woman's story was soon told. She had gone to the river, not fifty yards off, for water; the Darling black had stolen after her, and proposed to her to elope with him, and, on her declining to do so, had speared her and taken to his heels."

A pathetic instance of the cruel treatment to which the natives subject girls who venture to have inclinatio