Primitive Love and Love-Stories
by Henry Theophilus Finck
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"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 role 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 Abbe 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."

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