Primitive Love and Love-Stories
by Henry Theophilus Finck
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"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 role.... 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 betruebt, Gluecklich 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 Bayadere (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. —Herrick.

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. —Beaumont.


"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. Loebel (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-goeruedschue 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. Loebel 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 Cucamas 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 Tannhaeuser. As I have summed it up elsewhere[23]:

"Venus shares only the joys of Tannhaeuser, 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 Tannhaeuser. 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 Abbe 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. —Sidney.

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. —Scott.

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 Abbe 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]

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