Woman under socialism
by August Bebel
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However numerous the shortcomings of the Middle Ages, there was then a healthy sensualism, that sprang from a rugged and happy native disposition among the people, and that Christianity was unable to suppress. The hypocritical prudery and bashfulness; the secret lustfulness, prevalent to-day, that hesitates and balks at calling things by their right name, and to speak about natural things in a natural way;—all that was foreign to the Middle Ages. Neither was that age familiar with the piquant double sense, in which, out of defective naturalness and out of a prudery that has become morality, things that may not be clearly uttered, are veiled, and are thereby rendered all the more harmful; such a language incites but does not satisfy; it suggests but does not speak out. Our social conversation, our novels and our theatres are full of these piquant equivoques,—and their effect is visible. This spiritualism, which is not the spiritualism of the transcendental philosopher, but that of the roue, and that hides itself behind the spiritualism of religion, has great power to-day.

The healthy sensualism of the Middle Ages found in Luther its classic interpreter. We have here to do, not so much with the religious reformer, as with Luther the man. On the human side, Luther's robust primeval nature stepped forward unadulterated; it compelled him to express his appetite for love and enjoyment forcibly and without reserve. His position, as former Roman Catholic clergyman, had opened his eyes. By personal practice, so to speak, had he learned the unnaturalness of the life led by the monks and nuns. Hence the warmth with which he warred against clerical and monastic celibacy. His words hold good to this day, for all those who believe they may sin against nature, and imagine they can reconcile with their conceptions of morality and propriety, governmental and social institutions that prevent millions from fulfilling their natural mission. Luther says: "Woman, except as high and rare grace, can dispense with man as little as she can with food, sleep, water and other natural wants. Conversely, also, neither can man dispense with woman. The reason is this: It is as deeply implanted in nature to beget children as to eat and drink. Therefore did God furnish the body with members, veins, discharges and all that is needed therefor. He who will resist this, and prevent its going as Nature wills, what else does he but endeavor to resist Nature's being Nature, that fire burn, water wet, that man eat, drink or sleep?" And in his sermon on married life he says: "As little as it is in my power that I be not a man, just so little is it in your power to be without a man. For it is not a matter of free will or deliberation, but a necessary, natural matter that all that is male must have a wife, and what is female must have a husband." Luther did not speak in this energetic manner in behalf of married life and the necessity of sexual intercourse only; he also turns against the idea that marriage and Church have anything in common. In this he stood squarely on the ground of the olden days, which considered marriage an act of free will on the part of those who engaged in it, and that did not concern the Church. On this head he said: "Know, therefore, that marriage is an outside affair, as any other earthly act. The same as I am free to eat, drink, sleep, walk, ride, deal, speak and trade with a heathen, a Jew, a Turk or a heretic, likewise am I free to enter into and remain in wedlock with one of them. Turn your back upon the fool laws that forbid such a thing.... A heathen is a man and woman, created by God in perfect form, as well as St. Peter and St. Paul and St. Luke; be then silent for a loose and false Christian that you are." Luther, like other Reformers, pronounced himself against all limitation of marriage, and he was for also allowing the re-union of divorced couples, against which the Church was up in arms. He said: "As to the manner in which marriage and divorce are to be conducted among us, I claim that it should be made the business of the jurists, and placed under the jurisdiction of earthly concerns, because marriage is but an earthly and outside matter." It was in keeping with this view that, not until the close of the seventeenth century, was marriage by the Church made obligatory under Protestantism. Until then so-called "conscience marriage" held good, i. e., the simple mutual obligation to consider each other man and wife, and to mean to live in wedlock. Such a marriage was considered by German law to be legally entered into. Luther even went so far that he conceded to the unsatisfied party—even if that be the woman—the right to seek satisfaction outside of the marriage bonds "in order to satisfy nature, which cannot be crossed."[47] This conception of marriage is the same that prevailed in antiquity, and that came up later during the French Revolution. Luther here set up maxims that will arouse the strongest indignation of a large portion of our "respectable men and women," who, in their religious zeal, are so fond of appealing to him. In his treatise "On Married Life,"[48] he says: "If an impotent man falls to the lot of a hearty woman, and she still cannot openly take another, and does not wish to marry again, she shall say unto her husband: 'Lo, dear husband, thou shalt not be wronged by me. Thou hast deceived me and my young body, and hast therefore brought my honor and salvation into danger. There is no glory to God between us two. Grant me to cohabit secretly with thy brother or nearest friend, and thou shalt have the name, so that thy property come not to strange heirs; and allow thyself to be, in turn, willingly deceived by me, as thou did deceive me without thy will." The husband, Luther goes on to show, is in duty bound to grant the request. "If he declines, then has she the right to run away from him to another, and to woo elsewhere. Conversely, if a woman declines to exercise the conjugal duty, her husband has the right to cohabit with another, only he should tell her so beforehand."[49] It will be seen that these are wonderfully radical, and, in the eyes of our days, so rich in hypocritical prudery, even downright "immoral" views, that the great Reformer develops. Luther, however, expressed only that which, at the time, was the popular view.[50]

The passages quoted from the writings and addresses of Luther on marriage, are of special importance for the reason that these views are in strong contradiction with those that prevail to-day in the Church. In the struggle that it latterly has had to conduct with the clerical fraternity, the Social Democracy can appeal with full right to Luther, who takes on the question of marriage a stand free from all prejudice.

Luther and all the Reformers went even further in the marriage question, true enough, only for opportunist reasons, and out of complaisance towards the Princes whose strong support and permanent friendship they sought to secure and keep to the Reformation. The friendly Duke of Hessen, Philip I, had, besides his legitimate wife, a sweetheart, willing to yield to his wishes, but only under the condition that he marry her. It was a thorny problem. A divorce from the wife, in the absence of convincing reasons, would give great scandal; on the other hand, a marriage with two women at a time was an unheard of thing with a Christian Prince of modern days; it would give rise to no less a scandal. All this notwithstanding, Philip, in his passion, decided in favor of the latter step. The point was now to establish that the act did no violence to the Bible, and to secure the approval of the Reformers, especially of Luther and Melanchthon. The negotiations, set on foot by the Duke, began first with Butzer, who declared himself in favor of the plan, and promised to win over Luther and Melanchthon. Butzer justified his opinion with the argument: To possess several wives at once was not against the evangelium. St. Paul, who said much upon the subject of who was not to inherit the kingdom of God, made no mention of those who had two wives. St. Paul, on the contrary, said "that a Bishop was to have but one wife, the same with his servants; hence, if it had been compulsory that every man have but one wife he would have so ordered, and forbidden a plurality of wives." Luther and Melanchthon joined this reasoning, and gave their assent to double marriages, after the Duke's wife herself had consented to the marriage with the second wife under the condition "that he was to fulfil his marital duties towards her more than ever before."[51] The question of the justification of bigamy had before then—at the time when the issue was the consenting to the double marriage of Henry VIII of England—caused many a headache to Luther, as appears from a letter to the Chancellor of Saxony, Brink, dated January, 1524. Luther wrote to him that, in point of principle, he could not reject bigamy because it ran not counter to Holy Writ;[52] but that he held it scandalous when the same happened among Christians, "who should leave alone even things that are permissible." After the wedding of the Duke, which actually took place in March, 1540, and in answer to a letter of acknowledgment from him, Luther wrote (April 10): "That your Grace is happy on the score of our opinion, which we fain would see kept secret; else, even the rude peasants (in imitation of the Duke's example) might finally produce as strong, if not stronger, reasons, whereby we might then have much trouble on our hands."

Upon Melanchthon, the consent to the double marriage of the Duke must have been less hard. Before that, he had written to Henry VIII "every Prince has the right to introduce polygamy in his domains." But the double marriage of the Duke made such a great and unpleasant sensation, that, in 1541, he circulated a treatise in which polygamy is defended as no transgression against Holy Writ.[53] People were not then living in the ninth or twelfth century, when polygamy was tolerated without shocking society. Social conditions had very materially changed in the meantime; in a great measure the mark had had to yield to the power of the nobility and the clergy; it had even extensively disappeared, and was further uprooted after the unhappy issue of the Peasant Wars. Private property had become the general foundation of society. Beside the rural population, that cultivated the soil, a strong, self-conscious handicraft element had arisen, and was dominated by the interests of its own station. Commerce had assumed large dimensions, and had produced a merchant class, which, what with the splendor of its outward position and its wealth, awoke the envy and hostility of a nobility that was sinking ever deeper into poverty and licentiousness. The burghers' system of private property had triumphed everywhere, as was evidenced by the then universal introduction of the Roman law; the contrasts between the classes were palpable, and everywhere did they bump against one another. Monogamy became, under such conditions, the natural basis for the sexual relations; a step such as taken by the Duke of Hessen now did violence to the ruling morals and customs, which, after all, are but the form of expression of the economic conditions that happen at the time to prevail. On the other hand, society came to terms with prostitution, as a necessary accompaniment of monogamy, and an institution supplemental thereto;—and tolerated it.

In recognizing the gratification of the sexual impulses as a law of Nature, Luther but uttered what the whole male population thought, and openly claimed for itself. He, however, also contributed—through the Reformation, which carried through the abolition of celibacy among the clergy, and the removal of the cloisters from Protestant territories—that to hundreds of thousands the opportunity was offered to do justice to nature's impulses under legitimate forms. True again,—due to the existing order of property, and to the legislation that flowed therefrom,—hundreds of thousands of others continued to remain excluded. The Reformation was the first protest of the large-propertied bourgeois or capitalist class, then rising into being, against the restrictions imposed by feudalism in Church, State and society. It strove after freedom from the narrow bonds of the guild, the court and the judiciary; it strove after the centralization of the State, after the abolition of the numerous seats of idlers, the monasteries; and it demanded their use for practical production. The movement aimed at the abolition of the feudal form of property and production; it aimed at placing in its stead the free property of the capitalist, i. e., in the stead of the existing system of mutual protection in small and disconnected circles, there was to be unchained the free individual struggle of individual efforts in the competition for property.

On the religious field, Luther was the representative of these bourgeois aspirations. When he took a stand for the freedom of marriage, the question could not be simply about civic marriage, which was realized in Germany only in our own age through the civil laws and the legislation therewith connected,—freedom to move, freedom of pursuit, and freedom of domicile. In how far the position of woman was thereby improved will be shown later. Meanwhile things had not matured so far at the time of the Reformation. If, through the regulations of the Reformation many were afforded the possibility to marry, the severe persecutions that followed later hampered the freedom of sexual intercourse. The Roman Catholic clergy having in its time displayed a certain degree of tolerance, and even laxity, towards sexual excesses, now the Protestant clergy, once itself was provided for, raged all the more violently against the practice. War was declared upon the public "houses of women;" they were closed as "Holes of Satan;" the prostitutes were persecuted as "daughters of the devil;" and every woman who slipped was placed on the pillory as a specimen of all sinfulness.

Out of the once hearty small property-holding bourgeois of the Middle Ages, who lived and let live, now became a bigoted, straight-laced, dark-browed maw-worm, who "saved-up," to the end that his large property-holding bourgeois successor might live all the more lustily in the nineteenth century, and might be able to dissipate all the more. The respectable citizen, with his stiff necktie, his narrow horizon and his severe code of morals, was the prototype of society. The legitimate wife, who had not been particularly edified by the sensuality of the Middle Ages, tolerated in Roman Catholic days, was quite at one with the Puritanical spirit of Protestantism. But other circumstances supervened, that, affecting, as they did, unfavorably the general condition of things in Germany, joined in exercising in general an unfavorable influence upon the position of woman.

The revolution—effected in production, money and trade, particularly as regarded Germany,—due to the discovery of America and the sea-route to the East Indies, produced, first of all, a great reaction on the social domain. Germany ceased to be the center of European traffic and commerce. Spain, Portugal, Holland, England, took successively the leadership, the latter keeping it until our own days. German industry and German commerce began to decline. At the same time, the religious Reformation had destroyed the political unity of the nation. The Reformation became the cloak under which the German principalities sought to emancipate themselves from the Imperial power. In their turn, the Princes brought the power of the nobility under their own control, and, in order to reach this end all the more easily, favored the cities, not a few of which, in sight of the ever more troubled times, placed themselves, of their own free will, under the rule of the Princes. The final effect was that the bourgeois or capitalist class, alarmed at the financial decline of its trade, raised ever higher barriers to protect itself against unpleasant competition. The ossification of conditions gained ground; and with it the impoverishment of the masses.

Later, the Reformation had for a consequence the calling forth of the religious wars and persecutions—always, of course, as cloaks for the political and economic purposes of the Princes—that, with short interruptions, raged throughout Germany for over a century, and ended with the country's complete exhaustion, at the close of the Thirty Years' War in 1648. Germany had become an immense field of corpses and ruins; whole territories and provinces lay waste; hundreds of cities, thousands of villages had been partially or wholly burnt down; many of them have since disappeared forever from the face of the earth. In other places the population had sunk to a third, a fourth, a fifth, even to an eighth and tenth part. Such was the case, for instance, with cities like Neurenberg, and with the whole of Franconia. And now, at the hour of extreme need, and with the end in view of providing the depopulated cities and villages as quickly as possible with an increased number of people, the drastic measure was resorted to of "raising the law," and allowing a man two wives. The wars had carried off the men; of women there was an excess. On February 14, 1650, the Congress of Franconia, held in Nuerenberg, adopted the resolution that "men under sixty years of age shall not be admitted to the monasteries;" furthermore, it ordered "the priests and curates, if not ordained, and the canons of religious establishments, shall marry;" "moreover every male shall be allowed to marry two wives; and all and each males are earnestly reminded, and shall be often warned, from the pulpit also, to so comport themselves in this matter; and care shall be taken that he shall fully and with becoming discretion diligently endeavor, so that, as a married man, to whom is granted that he take two wives, he not only take proper care of both wives, but avoid all misunderstanding among them." At that time, we see, matters that are to-day kept under strictest secrecy, were often discussed as of course from the pulpit itself.

But not commerce alone was at a standstill. Traffic and industry had been extensively ruined during this protracted period; they could recover only by little and little. A large part of the population had become wild and demoralized, disused to all orderly occupations. During the wars, it was the robbing, plundering, despoiling and murdering armies of mercenaries, which crossed Germany from one end to the other, that burned and knocked down friend and foe alike; after the wars, it was countless robbers, beggars and swarms of vagabonds that threw the population into fear and terror, and impeded and destroyed commerce and traffic. For the female sex, in particular, a period of deep suffering had broken. Contempt for woman had made great progress during the times of license. The general lack of work weighed heaviest on their shoulders; by the thousands did these women, like the male vagabonds, infest the roads and woods, and filled the poorhouses and prisons of the Princes and the cities. On top of all these sufferings came the forcible ejectment of numerous peasant families by a land-hungry nobility.

Compelled, since the Reformation, ever more to bend before the might of the Princes, and rendered ever more dependent upon these through court offices and military posts, the nobility now sought to recoup itself double and threefold with the robbery of peasant estates for the injury it had sustained at the hand of the Princes. The Reformation offered the Princes the desired pretext to appropriate the rich Church estates, which they swallowed in innumerable acres of land. The Elector August of Saxony, for instance, had turned not less than three hundred clergy estates from their original purpose, up to the close of the sixteenth century.[54] Similarly did his brothers and cousins, the other Protestant Princes, and, above all, the Princes of Brandenburg. The nobility only imitated the example by bagging peasant estates, that had lost their owners, by ejecting free as well as serf peasants from house and home, and enriching themselves with the goods of these. To this particular end, the miscarried peasant revolts of the sixteenth century furnished the best pretext. After the first attempts had succeeded, never after were reasons wanting to proceed further in equally violent style. With the aid of all manner of chicaneries, vexations and twistings of the law—whereto the in-the-meantime naturalized Roman law lent a convenient handle—the peasants were bought out at the lowest prices, or they were driven from their property in order to round up the estates of noblemen. Whole villages, the peasant homes of as much as half a province, were in this way wiped out. Thus—so as to give a few illustrations—out of 12,543 peasant homestead appanages of knightly houses, which Mecklenburg still possessed at the time of the Thirty Years' War, there were, in 1848, only 1,213 left. In Pommerania, since 1628, not less than 12,000 peasant homesteads disappeared. The change in peasant economy, that took place in the course of the seventeenth century, was a further incentive for the expropriation of the peasant homesteads, especially to turn the last rests of the commons into the property of the nobility. The system of rotation of crops was introduced. It provided for a rotation in cultivation within given spaces of time. Corn lands were periodically turned into meadows. This favored the raising of cattle, and made possible the reduction of the number of farm-hands. The crowd of beggars and tramps grew ever larger, and thus one decree followed close upon the heels of another to reduce, by the application of the severest punishments, the number of beggars and vagabonds.

In the cities matters lay no better than in the country districts. Before then, women were active in very many trades in the capacity of working women as well as of employers. There were, for instance, female furriers in Frankfurt and in the cities of Sleswig; bakers, in the cities of the middle Rhine; embroiderers of coats of arms and beltmakers, in Cologne and Strassburg; strap-cutters, in Bremen; clothing-cutters in Frankfurt; tanners in Nuerenberg; gold spinners and beaters in Cologne.[55] Women were now crowded back. The abandonment of the pompous Roman Catholic worship alone, due to the Protestantizing of a large portion of Germany, either injured severely a number of trades, especially the artistic ones, or destroyed them altogether; and it was in just these trades that many working women were occupied. As, moreover, it ever happens when a social state of things is moving to its downfall, the wrongest methods are resorted to, and the evil is thereby aggravated. The sad economic condition of most of the German nations caused the decimated population to appear as overpopulation, and contributed greatly towards rendering a livelihood harder to earn, and towards prohibitions of marriage.

Not until the eighteenth century did a slow improvement of matters set in. The absolute Princes had the liveliest interest, with the view of raising the standard abroad of their rule, to increase the population of their territories. They needed this, partly in order to obtain soldiers for their wars, partly also to gain taxpayers, who were to raise the sums needed either for the army, or for the extravagant indulgences of the court, or for both. Following the example of Louis XIV of France, the majority of the then extraordinarily numerous princely courts of Germany displayed great lavishness in all manner of show and tinsel. This was especially the case in the matter of the keeping of mistresses, which stood in inverse ratio to the size and capabilities of the realms and realmlets. The history of these courts during the eighteenth century belongs to the ugliest chapters of history. Libraries are filled with the chronicles of the scandals of that era. One potentate sought to surpass the other in hollow pretentiousness, insane lavishness and expensive military fooleries. Above all, the most incredible was achieved in the way of female excesses. It is hard to determine which of the many German courts the palm should be assigned to for extravagance and for a life that vitiated public morals. To-day it was this, to-morrow that court; no German State escaped the plague. The nobility aped the Princes, and the citizens in the residence cities aped the nobility. If the daughter of a citizen's family had the luck to please a gentleman high at court, perchance the Serenissimus himself, in nineteen cases out of twenty she felt highly blessed by such favor, and her family was ready to hand her over for a mistress to the nobleman or the Prince. The same was the case with most of the noble families if one of their daughters found favor with the Prince. Characterlessness and shamelessness ruled over wide circles. As bad as the worst stood matters in the two German capitals, Vienna and Berlin. In the Capua of Germany, Vienna, true enough, the strict Maria Theresa reigned through a large portion of the century, but she was impotent against the doings of a rich nobility, steeped in sensuous pleasures, and of the citizen circles that emulated the nobility. With the Chastity Commissions that she established, and in the aid of which an extensive spy-system was organized, she partly provoked bitterness, and partly made herself laughable. The success was zero. In frivolous Vienna, sayings like these made the rounds during the second half of the eighteenth century: "You must love your neighbor like yourself, that is to say, you must love your neighbor's wife as much as your own;" or "If the wife goes to the right, the husband may go to the left: if she takes an attendant, he takes a lady friend." In how frivolous a vein marriage and adultery were then taken, transpires from a letter of the poet Ew. Chr. von Kleist, addressed in 1751 to his friend Gleim. Among other things he there says: "You are already informed on the adventure of the Mark-Graf Heinrich. He sent his wife to his country seat and intends to divorce her because he found the Prince of Holstein in bed with her.... The Mark-Graf might have done better had he kept quiet about the affair, instead of now causing half Berlin and all the world to talk about him. Moreover, such a natural thing should not be taken so ill, all the more when, like the Mark-Graf, one is not so waterproof himself. Mutual repulsion, we all know, is unavoidable in married life: all husbands and wives are perforce unfaithful, due to their illusions concerning other estimable persons. How can that be punished that one is forced to?" On Berlin conditions, the English Ambassador, Lord Malmsbury, wrote in 1772: "Total corruption of morals pervades both sexes of all classes, whereto must be added the indigence, caused, partly through the taxes imposed by the present King, partly through the love of luxury that they took from his grandfather. The men lead a life of excesses with limited means, while the women are harpies, wholly bereft of shame. They yield themselves to him who pays best. Tenderness and true love are things unknown to them."[56]

Things were at their worst in Berlin under Frederick II, who reigned from 1786 to 1796. He led with the worst example; and his court chaplain, Zoellner, even lowered himself to the point of marrying the King to the latter's mistress, Julie von Boss, as a second wife, and as she soon thereupon died in childbed, Zoellner again consented to marry the King to the Duchess Sophie of Doenhoff as a second wife by the side of the Queen.

More soldiers and more taxpayers was the leading desire of the Princes. Louis XIV, after whose death France was entirely impoverished in money and men, set up pensions for parents who had ten children, and the pension was raised when they reached twelve children. His General, the Marshal of Saxony, even made to him the proposition to allow marriages only for the term of five years. Fifty years later, in 1741, Frederick the Great wrote, "I look upon men as a herd of deer in the zoological garden of a great lord, their only duty is to populate and fill the park."[57]

Later, he extensively depopulated his "deer park" with his wars, and then took pains to "populate" it again with foreign immigration.

The German multiplicity of States, that was in fullest bloom in the eighteenth century, presented a piebald map of the most different social conditions and legislative codes. While in the minority of the States efforts were made to improve the economic situation by promoting new industries, by making settlement easier and by changing the marriage laws in the direction of facilitating wedlock, the majority of the States and statelets remained true to their backward views, and intensified the unfavorable conditions of marriage and settlement for both men and women. Seeing, however, that human nature will not allow itself to be suppressed, all impediments and vexations notwithstanding, concubinage sprang up in large quantity, and the number of illegitimate children was at no time as large as in these days when the "paternal regiment" of the absolute Princes reigned in "Christian simplicity."

The married woman of citizen rank lived in strict seclusion. The number of her tasks and occupations was so large that, as a conscientious housewife, she had to be at her post early and late in order to fulfil her duties, and even that was possible to her only with the aid of her daughters. Not only were there to be filled those daily household duties which to-day, too, the small middle class housewife has to attend to, but a number of others also, which the housewife of to-day is freed from through modern development. She had to spin, weave, bleach and sew the linen and clothes, prepare soap and candles, brew beer,—in short, she was the veriest Cinderella: her only recreation was Sunday's church. Marriage was contracted only within the same social circles; the strongest and most ludicrous spirit of caste dominated all relations, and tolerated no transgression. The daughters were brought up in the same spirit; they were held under strict home seclusion; their mental education did not go beyond the bounds of the narrowest home relations. On top of this, an empty and hollow formality, meant as a substitute for education and culture, turned existence, that of woman in particular, into a veritable treadmill. Thus the spirit of the Reformation degenerated into the worst pedantry, that sought to smother the natural desires of man, together with his pleasures in life under a confused mass of rules and usages that affected to be "worthy," but that benumbed the soul.

Gradually, however, an economic change took place, that first seized Western Europe and then reached into Germany also. The discovery of America, the doubling of the Cape of Good Hope, the opening of the sea route of the East Indies, the further discoveries that hinged on these, and finally, the circumnavigation of the earth, revolutionized the life and views of the most advanced nations of Europe. The unthought-of rapid expansion of the world's commerce, called to life through the opening of ever newer markets for European industry and products, revolutionized the old system of handicraft. Manufacture arose, and thence flowed large production. Germany—so long held back in her material development by her religious wars and her political disintegration, which religious differences promoted,—was finally dragged into the stream of the general progress. In several quarters, large production developed under the form of manufacture: flax and wool-spinning and weaving, the manufacture of cloth, mining, the manufacture of iron, glass and porcelain, transportation, etc. Fresh labor power, female included, came into demand. But this newly rising form of industry met with the most violent opposition on the part of the craftsmen, ossified in the guild and medieval corporation system, who furiously fought every change in the method of production, and saw therein a mortal enemy. The French Revolution supervened. While casting aside the older order in France, the Revolution also carried into Germany a fresh current of air, which the old order could not for long resist. The French invasion hastened the downfall,—this side of the Rhine also—of the old, worn-out system. Whatever attempt was made, during the period of re-action after 1815, to turn back the wheels of time, the New had grown too strong, it finally remained victorious.

The rise of machinery, the application of the natural sciences to the process of production, the new roads of commerce and traffic burst asunder the last vestiges of the old system. The guild privileges, the personal restrictions, the mark and jurisdictional rights, together with all that thereby hung, walked into the lumber room. The strongly increased need of labor-power did not rest content with the men, it demanded woman also as a cheaper article. The conditions that had become untenable, had to fall; and they fell. The time thereto,—long wished-for by the newly risen class, the bourgeoisie or capitalist class—arrived the moment Germany gained her political unity. The capitalist class demanded imperiously the unhampered development of all the social forces; it demanded this for the benefit of its own capitalist interests, that, at that time, and, to a certain degree, were also the interests of the large majority. Thus came about the liberty of trade, the liberty of emigration, the removal of the barriers to marriage,—in short, that whole system of legislation that designates itself "liberal." The old-time reactionists expected from these measures the smash-up of morality. The late Adolph Ketteler of Mainz moaned, already in 1865, accordingly, before the new social legislation had become general, "that the tearing down of the existing barriers to matrimony meant the dissolution of wedlock, it being now possible for the married to run away from each other at will." A pretty admission that the moral bonds of modern marriage are so weak, that only compulsion can be relied on to hold the couple together.

The circumstance, on the one hand, that the now naturally more numerous marriages effected a rapid increase of population, and, on the other, that the gigantically developing industry of the new era brought on many ills, never known of before, caused the spectre of "overpopulation" to rise anew. Conservative and liberal economists pull since then the same string. We shall show what this fear of so-called overpopulation means; we shall trace the feared phenomenon back to its legitimate source. Among those who suffer of the overpopulation fear, and who demand the restriction of freedom to marry, especially for workingmen, belong particularly Prof. Ad. Wagner. According to him, workingmen marry too early, in comparison with the middle class. He, along with others of this opinion, forget that the male members of the higher class, marry later only in order to wed "according to their station in life," a thing they can not do before they have obtained a certain position. For this abstinence, the males of the higher classes indemnify themselves with prostitution. Accordingly, it is to prostitution that the working class are referred, the moment marriage is made difficult for, or, under certain circumstances, is wholly forbidden to, them. But, then, let none wonder at the results, and let him not raise an outcry at the "decline of morality," if the women also, who have the same desires as the men, seek to satisfy in illegitimate relations the promptings of the strongest impulse of nature. Moreover, the views of Wagner are at fisticuffs with the interests of the capitalist class, which, oddly enough, shares his views: it needs many "hands," so as to own cheap labor-power that may fit it out for competition in the world's market. With such petty notions and measures, born of a near-sighted philistinism, the gigantic growing ills of the day are not to be healed.


[22] Tarnowsky. "Die krankhaften Erscheinungen des Geschlechtsinnes." Berlin, August Hirschwald.

[23] Tacitus, "Histories," Book I.

[24] Montegazza "L'Amour dans l'Humanite."

[25] Matthew, ch. 19; 11 and 12.

[26] I. Corinthians, ch. 7; 1 and 38.

[27] Peter I., ch. 3; 1.

[28] Paul: Ephesians, ch. 5; 23.

[29] Paul: I. Corinthians, ch. 11; 7.

[30] I. Timothy, ch. 2; 11 and 12.

[31] I. Corinthians, ch. 14; 34 and 35.

[32] This was a move that the parish priests of the diocese of Mainz, among others, complained against, expressing themselves this wise: "You Bishops and Abbots possess great wealth, a kingly table, and rich hunting equipages; we, poor, plain priests have for our comfort only a wife. Abstinence may be a handsome virtue, but, in point of fact, it is hard and difficult."—Yves-Guyot: "Les Theories Sociales du Christianisme."

[33] Buckle, in his "History of Civilization in England," furnishes a large number of illustrations on this head.

[34] Engels' "Der Ursprung der Familie."

[35] The same thing happened under the rule of the muir in Russia. See Lavelaye: "Original Property."

[36] "Eyn iglich gefurster man, der ein kindbette hat, ist sin kint eyn dochter, so mag eer eyn wagen vol bornholzes von urholz verkaufen of den samstag. Ist iz eyn sone, so mag he iz tun of den dinstag und of den samstag von ligenden holz oder von urholz und sal der frauwen davon kaufen, win und schon brod dyeweile sie kintes june lit,"—G. L. v. Maurer; "Geschichte der Markenverfassung in Deutschland."

[37] "Bettmund," "Jungfernzins," "Hemdschilling," "Schuerzenzins," "Bunzengroschen."

[38] "Aber sprechend die Holfluet, weller hie zu der helgen see kumbt, der sol einen meyer (Gutsverwalter) laden und ouch sin frowen, da sol der meyer lien dem bruetigan ein haffen, da er wol mag ein schaff in geseyden, ouch sol der meyer bringen ein fuder holtz an das hochtzit, ouch sol ein meyer und sin frow bringen ein viertenteyl eines schwynsbachen, und so die hochtzit vergat, so sol der bruetigan den meyer by sim wib lassen ligen die ersten nacht, oder er sol sy loesen mit 5 schilling 4 pfenning."—I., p. 43.

[39] "History of the Abolition of Serfdom in Europe to the Middle of the 19th Century." St. Petersburg, 1861.

[40] Memminger, Staelin and others. "Beschreibung der Wuertembergischen Aemter." Hormayr. "Die Bayern im Morgenlande." Also Sugenheim.

[41] "Ueber Stetigung und Abloesung der baeuerlichen Grundlasten mit besonderer Ruecksicht auf Bayern, Wuertemberg, Baden, Hessen, Preussen und Oesterreich." Landshut, 1848.

[42] A poem of Albrecht von Johansdorf, in the collection of "Minnesang-Fruehling" (Collection of Lachman and Moritz Haupt; Leipsic, 1857; S. Hirtel), has this passage:

"waere ez niht unstaete der Zwein wiben wolte sin fur eigen jehen, bei diu tougenliche? sprechet, herre, wurre ez iht? (man sol ez den man erlouben und den vrouwen nicht.)"

The openness, with which two distinct rights, according to sex, are here considered a matter of course, corresponds with views that are found in force even to this day.

[43] Dr. Karl Buecher, "Die Frauenfrage im Mittelalter," Tuebingen.

[44] Dr. Karl Buecher.

[45] Joh. Scherr, "Geschichte der Deutschen Frauenwelt," Leipsic, 1879.

[46] Leon Richter reports in "La Femme Libre" the case of a servant girl in Paris who was convicted of infanticide by the father of the child himself, a respected and religious lawyer, who sat on the jury. Aye, worse: the lawyer in question was himself the murderer, and the mother was entirely guiltless, as, after her conviction, she herself declared in court.

[47] Dr. Karl Hagen, "Deutschlands Literarische und Religioese Verhaeltnisse im Reformationszeitalter." Frankfurt-on-the-Main, 1868.

[48] II., 146, Jena, 1522.

[49] Dr. Karl Hagen.

[50] Jacob Grimm informs us ("Deutsche Rechtsalterthuemer. Weisthum aus dem Amte Blankenburg"):

"Daer ein Man were, der sinen echten wive ver frowelik recht niet gedoin konde, der sall si sachtelik op sinen ruggen setten und draegen sie over negen erstnine und setten sie sachtelik neder sonder stoeten, slaen und werpen und sonder enig quaed woerd of oevel sehen, und roipen dae sine naebur aen, dat sie inne sines wives lives noet helpen weren, und of sine naebur dat niet doen wolden of kunden, so sall be si senden up die neiste kermisse daerbl gelegen und dat sie sik sueverlik toe make und verzere und hangen oer einen buidel wail mit golde bestikt up die side, dat sie selft wat gewerven kunde: kumpt sie dannoch wider ungeholpen, so help oer dar der duifel."

As appears from Grimm, the German peasant of the Middle Ages looked in marriage, first of all, for heirs. If he was unable himself to beget these, he then, as a practical man, left the pleasure, without special scruples, to some one else. The main thing was to gain his object. We repeat it: Man does not rule property, property rules him.

[51] Johann Janssen, "Geschichte des Deutschen Volkes," 1525-1555, Freiburg.

[52] Which is perfectly correct, and also explainable, seeing that the Bible appeared at a time when polygamy extended far and wide among the peoples of the Orient and the Occident. In the sixteenth century, however, it was in strong contradiction with the standard of morality.

[53] Johann Janssen.

[54] Johann Janssen. Vol. III.

[55] Dr. Karl Buecher, "Die Frauenfrage im Mittelalter."

[56] Johann Scherr: "Geschichte der Deutschen Frauenwelt."

[57] Karl Kautsky, "Ueber den Einfluss der Volksvermehrung auf den Fortschritt der Gesellschaft." Vienna, 1880.





Plato thanked the gods for eight favors bestowed upon him. As the first, he took it that they had granted him to be born a freeman, and not a slave; the second was that he was created a man, and not a woman. A similar thought finds utterance in the morning prayer of the Jews. They pray: "Blessed be Thou, our God and Lord of Hosts, who hast not created me a woman;" the Jewish women, on the other hand, pray at the corresponding place: "who hast created me after thy will." The contrast in the position of the sexes can find no more forcible expression than it does in the saying of Plato, and in the different wording of the prayer among the Jews. The male is the real being, the master of the female. With the views of Plato and the Jews, the larger part of men agree, and many a woman also wishes that she had been born a man and not a woman. In this view lies reflected the condition of the female sex.

Wholly irrespective of the question whether woman is oppressed as a female proletarian, as sex she is oppressed in the modern world of private property. A number of checks and obstructions, unknown to man, exist for her, and hem her in at every step. Much that is allowed to man is forbidden to her; a number of social rights and privileges, enjoyed by the former, are, if exercised by her, a blot or a crime. She suffers both as a social and a sex entity, and it is hard to say in which of the two respects she suffers more.

Of all the natural impulses human beings are instinct with, along with that of eating and drinking, the sexual impulse is the strongest. The impulse to procreate the species is the most powerful expression of the "Will to Live." It is implanted most strongly in every normally developed human being. Upon maturity, its satisfaction is an actual necessity for man's physical and mental health. Luther was perfectly right when he said: "He who would resist the promptings of Nature, and prevent their going as Nature wills and must, what else does he but endeavor to resist Nature's being Nature, that fire burn, water wet, that man eat, drink or sleep?" These are words that should be graven in granite over the doors of our churches, in which the "sinful flesh" is so diligently preached against. More strikingly no physician or physiologist can describe the necessity for the satisfaction of the craving for love on the part of a healthy being,—a craving that finds its expression in sexual intercourse.

It is a commandment of the human being to itself—a commandment that it must obey if it wishes to develop normally and in health—that it neglect the exercise of no member of its body, deny gratification to no natural impulse. Each member must fill the function, that it is intended for by Nature, on penalty of atrophy and disease. The laws of the physical development of man must be studied and observed, the same as those of mental development. The mental activity of the human being is the expression of the physiologic composition of its organs. The complete health of the former is intimately connected with the health of the latter. A disturbance of the one inevitably has a disturbing effect upon the other. Nor do the so-called animal desires take lower rank than the so-called mental ones. One set and the other are effects of the identical combined organism: the influence of the two upon each other is mutual and continuous. This holds good for man as for woman.

It follows that, the knowledge of the properties of the sexual organs is just as needful as that of the organs which generate mental activity; and that man should bestow upon the cultivation of both an equal share of care. He should realize that organs and impulses, found implanted in every human being, and that constitute a very essential part of his nature, aye, that, at certain periods of his life control him absolutely, must not be objects of secrecy, of false shame and utter ignorance. It follows, furthermore, that a knowledge of the physiology and anatomy of the sexual organs, together with their functions, should be as general among men and women as any other branch of knowledge. Equipped with an accurate knowledge of our physical make-up, we would look upon many a condition in life with eyes different from those we now do. The question of removing existing evils would then, of itself, force itself upon those before whom society, to-day, passes by in silence and solemn bashfulness, notwithstanding these evils command attention within the precincts of every family. In all other matters, knowledge is held a virtue, the worthiest and most beautiful aim of human endeavor—only not knowledge in such matters that are in closest relation with the essence and health of our own Ego, as well as the basis of all social development.

Kant says: "Man and woman only jointly constitute the complete being: one sex supplements the other." Schopenhauer declares: "The sexual impulse is the fullest utterance of the will to live, hence it is the concentration of all will-power;" again: "The affirmative declaration of the will in favor of life is concentrated in the act of generation, and that is its most decisive expression." In accord therewith says Mainlaender: "The center of gravity of human life lies in the sexual instinct: it alone secures life to the individual, which is that which above all else it wants.... To nothing else does man devote greater earnestness than to the work of procreation, and for the care of none other does he compress and concentrate the intensity of his will so demonstratively as for the act of procreation." Finally, and before all of these, Buddha said: "The sexual instinct is sharper than the hook wild elephants are tamed with; it is hotter than flames; it is like an arrow, shot into the spirit of man."[58]

Such being the intensity of the sexual impulse, it is no wonder that sexual abstinence at the age of maturity affects the nervous system and the whole organism of man, with one sex as well as the other, in such a manner that it often leads to serious disturbances and manias; under certain conditions even to insanity and death. True enough, the sexual instinct does not assert itself with equal violence in all natures, and much can be done towards curbing it by education and self-control, especially by avoiding the excitation resulting upon certain conversations and reading. It is thought that, in general, the impulse manifests itself lighter with women than with men, and that the irritation is less potent with the former. It is even claimed that, with woman, there is a certain repugnance for the sexual act. The minority is small of those with whom physiologic and psychologic dispositions and conditions engender such a difference. "The union of the sexes is one of the great laws of living Nature; man and woman are subject to it the same as all other creatures, and can not transgress it, especially at a ripe age, without their organism suffering more or less in consequence."[59] Debay quotes among the diseases, caused by the inactivity of the sexual organs, satyriasis, nymphomania and hysteria; and he adds that celibacy exercises upon the intellectual powers, especially with woman, a highly injurious effect. On the subject of the harmfulness of sexual abstinence by woman, Busch says:[60] "Abstinence has in all ages been considered particularly harmful to woman; indeed it is a fact that excess, as well as abstinence, affects the female organism equally harmfully, and the effects show themselves more pronouncedly and intensively than with the male organism."

It may, accordingly, be said that man—be the being male or female—is complete in the measure in which, both as to organic and spiritual culture, the impulses and manifestations of life utter themselves in the sexes, and in the measure that they assume character and expression. Each sex of itself reached its highest development. "With civilized man," says Klenke in his work "Woman as Wife," "the compulsion of procreation is placed under the direction of the moral principle, and that is guided by reason." This is true. Nevertheless, it were an impossible task, even with the highest degree of freedom, wholly to silence the imperative command for the preservation of the species,—a command that Nature planted in the normal, organic expression of the both sexes. Where healthy individuals, male or female, have failed in their life-time to honor this duty towards Nature, it is not with them an instance of the free exercise of the will, even when so given out, or when, in self-deception, it is believed to be such. It is the result of social obstacles, together with the consequences which follow in their wake; they restricted the right of Nature; they allowed the organs to wilt; allowed the stamp of decay and of sexual vexation—both in point of appearance and of character—to be placed upon the whole organism; and, finally, brought on—through nervous distempers—diseased inclinations and conditions both of body and of mind. The man becomes feminine, the woman masculine in shape and character. The sexual contrast not having reached realization in the plan of Nature, each human being remained one-sided, never reached its supplement, never touched the acme of its existence. In her work, "The Moral Education of the Young in Relation to Sex," Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell says: "The sexual impulse exists as an indispensable condition of life, and as the basis of society. It is the greatest force in human nature. Often undeveloped, not even an object of thought, but none the less the central fire of life, this inevitable instinct is the natural protector against any possibility of extinction."

Science agrees, accordingly, with the opinion of the philosophers, and with Luther's healthy common sense. It follows that every human being has, not merely the right, but also the duty to satisfy the instincts, that are intimately connected with its inmost being, that, in fact, imply existence itself. Hindered therein, rendered impossible to him through social institutions or prejudices, the consequence is that man is checked in the development of his being, is left to a stunted life and retrogression. What the consequences thereof are, our physicians, hospitals, insane asylums and prisons can tell,—to say nothing of the thousands of tortured family lives. In a book that appeared in Leipsic, the author is of the opinion: "The sexual impulse is neither moral nor immoral; it is merely natural, like hunger and thirst: Nature knows nothing of morals;"[61] nevertheless bourgeois society is far from a general acceptance of this maxim.

The opinion finds wide acceptance among physicians and physiologists that even a defectively equipped marriage is better than celibacy. Experience agrees therewith. In Bavaria there were, in 1858, not less than 4,899 lunatics, 2,576 (53 per cent.) of them men, 2,323 (47 per cent.) women. The men were, accordingly, more strongly represented than the women. Of the whole number, however, the unmarried of both sexes ran up to 81 per cent., the married only to 17 per cent., while of 2 per cent. the conjugal status was unknown. As a mitigation of the shocking disproportion between the unmarried and the married, the circumstance may be taken into consideration that a not small number of the unmarried were insane from early childhood. In Hanover, in the year 1856, there was one lunatic to every 457 unmarried, 564 widowed, 1,316 married people. Most strikingly is the effect of unsatisfied sexual relations shown in the number of suicides among men and women. In general, the number of suicides is in all countries considerably higher among men than among women. To every 1,000 female suicides there were in:[62]

England from 1872-76 2,861 men Sweden " 1870-74 3,310 " France " 1871-76 3,695 " Italy " 1872-77 4,000 " Prussia " 1871-78 4,239 " Austria " 1873-78 4,586 "

But between the ages of 21 and 30, the figures for female suicides is in all European countries higher than for males, due, as Oettingen assumes, to sexual causes. In Prussia the percentages of suicides between the ages of 21 to 30 were on an average:

Years. Males. Females. 1869-72 15.8 21.4 1873-78 15.7 21.5

In Saxony there were to every 1,000 suicides between the ages of 21 to 30 these averages:

Years. Males. Females. 1854 14.95 18.64 1868 14.71 18.79

For widowed and divorced people also the percentage of suicides is larger than the average. In Saxony there are seven times as many suicides among divorced males, and three times as many among divorced females, as the average of suicides for males and females respectively. Again, suicide is more frequent among divorced and widowed men and women when they are childless. Of 491 widowed suicides in Prussia (119 males and 372 females) 353 were childless.

Taking into further consideration that, among the unmarried women, who are driven to suicide between the ages of 21 and 30, many a one is to be found, who takes her life by reason of being betrayed, or because she can not bear the consequences of a "slip," the fact remains that sexual reasons play a decided role in suicide at this age. Among female suicides, the figure is large also for those between the ages of 16 to 20, and the fact is probably likewise traceable to unsatisfied sexual instinct, disappointment in love, secret pregnancy, or betrayal. On the subject of the women of our days as sexual beings, Professor V. Krafft-Ebing expresses himself: "A not-to-be-underrated source of insanity with woman lies in her social position. Woman, by nature more prone than man to sexual needs, at least in the ideal sense of the term, knows no honorable means of gratifying the need other than marriage. At the same time marriage offers her the only support. Through unnumbered generations her character has been built in this direction. Already the little girl plays mother with her doll. Modern life, with its demands upon culture, offers ever slighter prospects of gratification through marriage. This holds especially with the upper classes, among whom marriage is contracted later and more rarely. While man—as the stronger, and thanks to his greater intellectual and physical powers, together with his social position—supplies himself easily with sexual gratification, or, taken up with some occupation, that engages all his energies, easily finds an equivalent, these paths are closed to single women. This leads, in the first place, consciously or unconsciously, to dissatisfaction with herself and the world, to morbid brooding. For a while, perhaps, relief is sought in religion; but in vain. Out of religious enthusiasm, there spring with or without masturbation, a host of nervous diseases, among which hysteria and insanity are not rare. Only thus is the fact explainable that insanity among single women occurs with greatest frequency between the ages of 25 and 35, that is to say, the time when the bloom of youth, and, along therewith, hope vanishes; while with men, insanity occurs generally between the ages of 35 and 50, the season of the strongest efforts in the struggle for existence.

"It certainly is no accident that, hand in hand with increasing celibacy, the question of the emancipation of woman has come ever more on the order of the day. I would have the question looked upon as a danger signal, set up by the social position of woman in modern society—a position that grows ever more unbearable, due to increasing celibacy; I would have it looked upon as the danger signal of a justified demand, made upon modern society, to furnish woman some equivalent for that to which she is assigned by Nature, and which modern social conditions partly deny her."[63]

And Dr. H. Plotz, in his work, "Woman in Nature and Ethnography,"[64] says in the course of his explanation of the results of ungratified sexual instincts upon unmarried women: "It is in the highest degree noteworthy, not for the physician only, but also for the anthropologist, that there is an effective and never-failing means to check this process of decay (with old maids), but even to cause the lost bloom to return, if not in all its former splendor yet in a not insignificant degree,—pity only that our social conditions allow, or make its application possible only in rare instances. The means consist in regular and systematic sexual intercourse. The sight is not infrequent with girls, who lost their bloom, or were not far from the withering point, yet, the opportunity to marry having been offered them, that, shortly after marriage, their shape began to round up again, the roses to return to their cheeks, and their eyes to recover their one-time brightness. Marriage is, accordingly, the true fountain of youth for the female sex. Thus Nature has her firm laws, that implacably demand their dues. No 'vita praeter naturam,' no unnatural life, no attempt at accommodation to incompatible conditions of life, passes without leaving noticeable traces of degeneration, upon the animal, as well as upon the human organism."

As to the effect that marriage and celibacy exercise upon the mind, the following figures furnish testimony. In 1882, there were in Prussia, per 10,000 inhabitants of the same conjugal status, 33.2 unmarried male and 29.3 female lunatics, while the percentage of the married ones was 9.5 for men, and 9.5 for females, and of the widowed, 32.1 males, and 25.6 females. Social conditions can not be considered healthy, that hinder a normal satisfaction of the natural instincts, and lead to evils like those just mentioned.

The question then rises: Has modern society met the demands for a natural life, especially as concerns the female sex? If the question is answered in the negative, this other rises: Can modern society meet the demands? If both questions must be answered in the negative, then this third arises: How can these demands be met?

"Marriage and the family are the foundation of the State; consequently, he who attacks marriage and the family attacks society and the State, and undermines both"—thus cry the defenders of the present order. Unquestionably, monogamous marriage, which flows from the bourgeois system of production and property, is one of the most important cornerstones of bourgeois or capitalist society; whether, however, such marriage is in accord with natural wants and with a healthy development of human society, is another question. We shall prove that the marriage, founded upon bourgeois property relations, is more or less a marriage by compulsion, which leads numerous ills in its train, and which fails in its purpose quite extensively, if not altogether. We shall show, furthermore, that it is a social institution, beyond the reach of millions, and is by no means that marriage based upon love, which alone corresponds with the natural purpose, as its praise-singers maintain.

With regard to modern marriage, John Stuart Mill exclaims: "Marriage is the only form of slavery that the law recognizes." In the opinion of Kant, man and woman constitute only jointly the full being. Upon the normal union of the sexes rests the healthy development of the human race. The natural gratification of the sexual instinct is a necessity for the thorough physical and mental development of both man and woman. But man is no animal. Mere physical satisfaction does not suffice for the full gratification of his energetic and vehement instinct. He requires also spiritual affinity and oneness with the being that he couples with. Is that not the case, then the blending of the sexes is a purely mechanical act: such a marriage is immoral. It does not answer the higher human demands. Only in the mutual attachment of two beings of opposite sexes can be conceived the spiritual ennobling of relations that rest upon purely physical laws. Civilized man demands that the mutual attraction continue beyond the accomplishment of the sexual act, and that it prolong its purifying influence upon the home that flows from the mutual union.[65] The fact that these demands can not be made upon numberless marriages in modern society is what led Barnhagen von Ense to say: "That which we saw with our own eyes, both with regard to contracted marriages and marriages yet to be contracted, was not calculated to give us a good opinion of such unions. On the contrary, the whole institution, which was to have only love and respect for its foundation, and which in all these instances (in Berlin) we saw founded on everything but that, seemed to us mean and contemptible, and we loudly joined in the saying of Frederick Schlegel which we read in the fragments of the 'Atheneum': Almost all marriages are concubinages, left-handed unions, or rather provisional attempts and distant resemblances at and of a true marriage, whose real feature consists, according to all spiritual and temporal laws, in that two persons become one."[66] Which is completely in the sense of Kant.

The duty towards and pleasure in posterity make permanent the love relations of two persons, when such really exists. A couple that wishes to enter into matrimonial relations must, therefore, be first clear whether the physical and moral qualities of the two are fit for such a union. The answer should be arrived at uninfluenced; and that can happen only, first, by keeping away all other interests, that have nothing to do with the real object of the union,—the gratification of the natural instinct, and the transmission of one's being in the propagation of the race; secondly, by a certain degree of insight that curbs blind passion. Seeing, however, as we shall show, that both conditions are, in innumerable cases, absent in modern society, it follows that modern marriage is frequently far from fulfilling its true purpose; hence that it is not just to represent it, as is done, in the light of an ideal institution.

How large the number is of the marriages, contracted with views wholly different from these, can, naturally, not be statistically given. The parties concerned are interested in having their marriage appear to the world different from what it is in fact. There is on this field a state of hypocrisy peculiar to no earlier social period. And the State, the political representative of this society, has no interest, for the sake of curiosity, in initiating inquiries, the result of which would be to place in dubious light the social system that is its very foundation. The maxims, which the State observes with respect to the marrying of large divisions of its own officials and servants, do not suffer the principle to be applied that, ostensibly, is the basis of marriage.

Marriage—and herewith the bourgeois idealists also agree—should be a union that two persons enter into only out of mutual love, in order to accomplish their natural mission. This motive is, however, only rarely present in all its purity. With the large majority of women, matrimony is looked upon as a species of institution for support, which they must enter into at any price. Conversely, a large portion of the men look upon marriage from a purely business standpoint, and from material view-points all the advantages and disadvantages are accurately calculated. Even with those marriages, in which low egotistical motives did not turn the scales, raw reality brings along so much that disturbs and dissolves, that only in rare instances are the expectations verified which, in their youthful enthusiasm and ardor, the couple had looked forward to.

And quite naturally. If wedlock is to offer the spouses a contented connubial life, it demands, together with mutual love and respect, the assurance of material existence, the supply of that measure of the necessaries of life and comfort which the two consider requisite for themselves and their children. The weight of cares, the hard struggle for existence—these are the first nails in the coffin of conjugal content and happiness. The cares become heavier the more fruitful the marriage proves itself, i. e., in the measure in which the marriage fulfils its purpose. The peasant, for instance, is pleased at every calf that his cow brings him; he counts with delight the number of young that his sow litters; and he communicates the event with pleasure to his neighbors. But the same peasant looks gloomy when his wife presents him with an increase to his own brood—and large this may never be—which he believes to be able to bring up without too much worry. His gloom is all the thicker if the new-born child is a girl.

We shall now show how, everywhere, marriages and births are completely controlled by the economic conditions. This is most classically exemplified in France. There, the allotment system prevails generally in the country districts. Land, broken up beyond a certain limit, ceases to nourish a family. The unlimited division of land, legally permissible, the French peasant counteracts by his rarely giving life to more than two children,—hence the celebrated and notorious "two child system," that has grown into a social institution in France, and that, to the alarm of her statesmen, keeps the population stationary, in some provinces even registering considerable retrogression. The number of births is steadily on the decline in France; but not in France only, also in most of the civilized lands. Therein is found expressed a development in our social conditions, that should give the ruling classes cause to ponder. In 1881 there were 937,057 children born in France; in 1890, however, only 838,059; accordingly, the births in 1890 fell 98,998 behind the year 1881. Characteristic, however, is the circumstance that the number of illegitimate births in France was 70,079 for the year 1881; that, during the period between 1881 and 1890, the number reached high-water mark in 1884, with 75,754; and that the number was still 71,086 strong in 1890. Accordingly, the whole of the decline of births fell exclusively upon the legitimate births. This decline in births, and, we may add, in marriages also, is, as will be shown, a characteristic feature, noticeable throughout the century. To every 10,000 French population, there were births in the years:

1801 333 1821 307 1831 303 1841 282 1851 270 1856 261 1868 269 1886 230 1890 219

This amounts to a decline of births in 1890, as against 1801, of 114 to every 10,000 inhabitants. It is imaginable that such figures cause serious headaches to the French statesmen and politicians. But France does not stand alone in this. For a long time Germany has been presenting a similar phenomenon. In Germany, to every 10,000 population there were births in the years:

1869 406 1876 403 1880 390 1883 358 1887 369.4 1890 357.6

Accordingly, Germany too reveals, in the space of only 21 years, a decline of 49 births to every 10,000 inhabitants. Similarly with the other States of Europe. To every 10,000 population there were live births:

From From States. 1865-1867. 1886-1888. Decrease. Increase. Ireland 262 231 31 .. Scotland 353 313 40 .. England and Wales 353 314 39 .. Holland 388 344 44 .. Belgium 320 293 27 .. Switzerland 320 278 42 .. Austria 374 380 .. 6 Hungary 399 445 .. 46 Italy 378 371 7 .. Sweden 320 297 23 .. Norway 344 308 36 ..

The decline in births is, accordingly, pretty general, only that, of all European States, it is strongest in France. Between 1886 and 1888, France had, to every 1,000 inhabitants, an average of 23.9 births, England 32.9, Prussia 41.27, and Russia 48.8.

These facts show that the birth of a human being, the "image of God," as religious people express it, ranks generally much cheaper than new-born domestic animals. What this fact does reveal is the unworthy condition that we find ourselves in,—and it is mainly the female sex which suffers thereunder. In many respects, modern views distinguish themselves but little from those of barbarous nations. Among the latter, new-born babes were frequently killed, and such a fate fell to the lot of girls mainly; many a half-wild race does so to this day. We no longer kill the girls; we are too civilized for that; but they are only too often treated like pariahs by society and the family. The stronger man crowds them everywhere back in the struggle for existence; and if, driven by the love for life, they still take up the battle, they are visited with hatred by the stronger sex, as unwelcome competitors. It is especially the men in the higher ranks of society who are bitterest against female competition, and oppose it most fiercely. That workingmen demand the exclusion of female labor on principle happens but rarely. A motion to that effect being made in 1877, at a French Labor Convention, the large majority declared against it. Since then, it is just with the class-conscious workingmen of all countries, that the principle, that working-women are beings with equal rights with themselves makes immense progress. This was shown especially by the resolutions of the International Labor Congress of Paris in 1889. The class-conscious workingman knows that the modern economic development forces woman to set herself up as a competitor with man; but he also knows that, to prohibit female labor, would be as senseless an act as the prohibition of the use of machinery. Hence he strives to enlighten woman on her position in society, and to educate her into a fellow combatant in the struggle for the emancipation of the proletariat from capitalism. True enough,—due to the ever more widespread employment of female labor in agriculture, industry, commerce and the trades—the family life of the workingman is destroyed, and the degenerating effects of the double yoke of work for a living, and of household duties, makes rapid progress in the female sex. Hence the endeavor to keep women by legislative enactments, from occupations that are especially injurious to the female organism, and by means of protective laws to safeguard her as a mother and rearer of children. On the other hand, the struggle for existence forces women to turn in ever larger numbers to industrial occupations. It is married woman, more particularly, who is called upon to increase the meager earnings of her husband with her work,—and she is particularly welcome to the employer.[67]

Modern society is without doubt more cultured than any previous one, and woman stands correspondingly higher. Nevertheless, the views concerning the relations of the two sexes have remained at bottom the same. Professor L. von Stein published a book,[68]—a work, be it said in passing, that corresponds ill with its title—in which he gives a poetically colored picture of modern marriage, as it supposedly is. Even in this picture the subaltern position of woman towards the "lion" man is made manifest. Stein says among other things: "Man deserves a being that not only loves, but also understands him. He deserves a person with whom not only the heart beats for him, but whose hand may also smooth his forehead, and whose presence radiates peace, rest, order, a quiet command over herself and the thousand and one things upon which he daily reverts: he wants someone who spreads over all these things that indescribable aroma of womanhood, one who is the life-giving warmth to the life of the house."

In this song of praise of woman lies concealed her own degradation, and along therewith, the low egotism of man. The professor depicts woman as a vaporous being, that, nevertheless, shall be equipped with the necessary knowledge of practical arithmetic; know how to keep the balance between "must" and "can" in the household; and, for the rest, float zephyr-fashion, like sweet spring-tide, about the master of the house, the sovereign lion, in order to spy every wish from his eyes, and with her little soft hand unwrinkle the forehead, that he, "the master of the house," perchance himself crumpled, while brooding over his own stupidity. In short, the professor pictures a woman and a marriage such as, out of a hundred, hardly one is to be found, or, for that matter, can exist. Of the many thousand unhappy marriages; of the large number of women who never get so far as to wed; and also of the millions, who, like beasts of burden beside their husbands, have to drudge and wear themselves out from early morn till late to earn a bit of bread for the current day,—of all of these the learned gentleman knows nothing. With all these wretched beings, hard, raw reality wipes off the poetic coloring more easily than does the hand the colored dust of the wings of a butterfly. One look, cast by the professor at those unnumbered female sufferers, would have seriously disturbed his poetically colored picture, and spoiled his concept. The women, whom he sees, make up but a trifling minority, and that these stand upon the plane of our times is to be doubted.

An oft-quoted sentence runs: "The best gauge of the culture of a people is the position which woman occupies." We grant that; but it will be shown that our so much vaunted culture has little to brag about. In his work, "The Subjection of Woman,"—the title is typical of the opinion that the author holds regarding the modern position of woman—John Stuart Mill says: "The lives of men have become more domestic, growing civilization lays them under more obligations towards women." This is only partly true. In so far as honorable conjugal relations may exist between husband and wife, Mill's statement is true; but it is doubtful whether the statement applies to even a strong minority. Every sensible man will consider it an advantage to himself if woman step forward into life out of the narrow circle of domestic activities, and become familiar with the currents of the times. The "chains" he thereby lays upon himself do not press him. On the other hand, the question arises whether modern life does not introduce into married life factors, that, to a higher degree than formerly, act destructively upon marriage.

Monogamous marriage became, from the start, an object of material speculation. The man who marries endeavors to wed property, along with a wife, and this was one of the principal reasons why daughters, after being at first excluded from the right to inherit, when descent in the male line prevailed, soon again reacquired the right. But never in earlier days was marriage so cynically, in open market, so to speak, an object of speculation; a money transaction, as it is to-day. To-day trading in marriage is frequently conducted among the property classes—among the propertyless the practice has no sense—with such shamelessness, that the oft-repeated phrase concerning the "sanctity" of marriage is the merest mockery. This phenomenon, as everything else, has its ample foundation. At no previous period was it, as it is to-day, hard for the large majority of people to raise themselves into a condition of well-being, corresponding to the then general conceptions; nor was at any time the justified striving for an existence worthy of human beings so general as it is to-day. He who does not reach the goal, feels his failure all the more keenly, just because all believe to have an equal right to enjoyment. Formally, there are no rank or class distinctions. Each wishes to obtain that which, according to his station, he considers a goal worth striving for, in order to come at fruition. But many are called and few are chosen. In order that one may live comfortably in capitalist society, twenty others must pine; and in order that one may wallow in all manner of enjoyment, hundreds, if not thousands, of others must renounce the happiness of life. But each wishes to be of that minority of favored ones, and seizes every means, that promise to take him to the desired goal, provided he does not compromise himself too deeply. One of the most convenient means, and, withal, nearest at hand, to reach the privileged social station, is the money-marriage. The desire, on the one hand, to obtain as much money as possible, and, on the other, the aspiration after rank, titles and honor thus find their mutual satisfaction in the so-called upper classes of society. There, marriage is generally considered a business transaction; it is a purely conventional bond, which both parties respect externally, while, for the rest, each often acts according to his or her own inclination. Marriage for political reasons, practiced in the higher classes, need here to be mentioned only for the sake of completeness. With these marriages also, as a rule, the privilege has tacitly existed—of course, again, for the husband to a much higher degree than for the wife—that the parties keep themselves scathless, outside of the bonds of wedlock, according as their whims may point, or their needs dictate. There have been periods in history when it was part of the bon ton with a Prince to keep mistresses: it was one of the princely attributes. Thus, according to Scherr, did Frederick William I. of Prussia (1713-1740), otherwise with a reputation for steadiness, keep up, at least for the sake of appearances, relations with a General's wife. On the other hand, it is a matter of public notoriety that, for instance, August the Strong, King of Poland and Saxony, gave life to 300 illegitimate children; and Victor Emanuel of Italy, the re galantuomo, left behind 32 illegitimate children. There is still extant a romantically located little German residence city, in which are at least a dozen charming villas, that the corresponding "father of his country" had built as places of recreation for his resigned mistresses. On this head thick books could be written: as is well known, there is an extensive library on these piquant matters.

The inside history of most of the German princely courts and noble families is to the informed an almost uninterrupted chronique scandaleuse, and not infrequently has it been stained with crimes of blackest dye. In sight of these facts, it certainly is imperative upon the sycophantic painters of history, not only to leave untouched the question of the "legitimacy" of the several successive "fathers and mothers of their country," but also to take pains to represent them as patterns of all virtues, as faithful husbands and good mothers. Not yet has the breed of the augurs died out; they still live, as did their Roman prototypes, on the ignorance of the masses.

In every large town, there are certain places and days when the higher classes meet, mainly for the purpose of match-making. These gatherings are, accordingly, quite fitly termed "marriage exchanges." Just as on the exchanges, speculation and chaffer play here the leading role, nor are deception and swindle left out. Officers, loaded with debts, but who can hold out an old title of nobility; roues, broken down with debauchery, who seek to restore their ruined health in the haven of wedlock, and need a nurse; manufacturers, merchants, bankers, who face bankruptcy, not infrequently the penitentiary also, and wish to be saved; finally, all those who are after money and wealth, or a larger quantity thereof, government office-holders among them, with prospects of promotion, but meanwhile in financial straits;—all turn up as customers at these exchanges, and ply the matrimonial trade. Quite often, at such transactions, it is all one whether the prospective wife be young or old, handsome or ugly, straight or bent, educated or ignorant, religious or frivolous, Christian or Jew. Was it not a saying of a celebrated statesman: "The marriage of a Christian stallion with a Jewish mare is to be highly recommended"?[69] The figure, characteristically borrowed from the horse-fair, meets, as experience teaches, with loud applause from the higher circles of our society. Money makes up for all defects, and outweighs all vices. The German penal code punishes[70] the coupler with long terms of imprisonment; when, however, parents, guardians and relatives couple their children, wards or kin to a hated man or woman only for the sake of money, of profit, of rank, in short, for the sake of external benefits, there is no District Attorney ready to take charge, and yet a crime has been committed. There are numerous well organized matrimonial bureaus, with male and female panders of all degrees, out for prey, in search of the male and female candidates for the "holy bonds of matrimony." Such business is especially profitable when the "work" is done for the members of the upper classes. In 1878 there was a criminal trial in Vienna of a female pander on the charge of poisoning, and ended with her being sentenced to fifteen years in the penitentiary. At the trial it was established that the French Ambassador in Vienna, Count Bonneville, had paid the pander 12,000 florins for procuring his own wife. Other members of the high aristocracy were likewise highly compromised through the trial. Evidently, certain Government officials had left the woman to pursue her dark and criminal practices for many years. The "why" thereof is surely no secret. Similar stories are told from the capital of the German Empire. During recent years, it is the daughters and heirs of the rich American capitalist class, who, on their side, aspire after rank and honors, not to be had in their own American home, that have become a special subject of matrimonial trading for the needy noblemen of Europe. Upon these particular practices characteristic light is thrown by a series of articles that appeared in the fall of 1889 in a portion of the German press. According thereto, a chevalier d'industry nobleman, domiciled in California, had recommended himself as a matrimonial agent in German and Austrian papers. The offers that he received amply betray the conception concerning the sanctity of marriage and its "ethical" side prevalent in the corresponding circles. Two Prussian officers of the Guards, both, as they say themselves, belonging to the oldest nobility of Prussia, declared that they were ready to enter into negotiations for marriage because, as they frankly confessed, they owed together 60,000 marks. In their letter to the pander they say literally: "It is understood that we shall pay no money in advance. You will receive your remuneration after the wedding trip. Recommend us only to ladies against whose families no objections can be raised. It is also very desirable to be introduced to ladies of attractive appearance. If demanded, we shall furnish, for discreet use, our own pictures to your agent, after he shall have given us the details, and shown us the pictures, etc. We consider the whole affair strictly confidential and as a matter of honor (?), and, of course, demand the same from you. We expect a speedy answer through your agent in this place, if you have one. Berlin, Friedrichstrasse 107, December 15, 1889. Baron v. M——, Arthur v. W——."

An Austrian nobleman also, Karl Freiherr v. M—— of Goeding in Moravia, seized the opportunity to angle for a rich American bride, and to this end sent to the swindle-bureau the following letter:

"According to a notice in the papers of this place, you are acquainted with American ladies who wish to marry. In this connection I place myself at your service, but must inform you that I have no fortune whatever. I am of very old noble stock (Baron), 34 years old, single, was a cavalry officer and am at present engaged in building railroads. I should be pleased to inspect one or more pictures, which, upon my word of honor, I shall return. Should you require my picture, I shall forward same to you. I also request you to give me fuller information. Expecting a speedy answer in this matter, I remain, very respectfully, your Karl Freiherr v. M——, Goeding, Moravia, Austria, November 29, 1889."

A young German nobleman, Hans v. H——, wrote from London that he was 5 feet 10 tall, of an old noble family, and employed in the diplomatic service. He made the confession that his fortune had been greatly reduced through unsuccessful betting at the horse races, and hence found himself obliged to be on the lookout for a rich bride, so as to be able to cover his deficit. He was, furthermore, ready to undertake a trip to the United States forthwith.

The chevalier d'industry in question claimed that, besides several counts, barons, etc., three Princes and sixteen dukes had reported to him as candidates for marriage. But not noblemen only, bourgeois also longed for rich American women. An architect, Max W—— of Leipsic, demanded a bride who should possess not only money, but beauty and culture also. From Kehl on the Rhine, a young mill-owner, Robert D——, wrote that he would be satisfied with a bride who had but 400,000 marks, and he promised in advance to make her happy.

But why look so far, when at hand the quarry is rich! A very patriotic-conservative Leipsic paper, which plumes itself very particularly upon its Christianity, contained in the spring of 1894 an advertisement, that ran thus: "A cavalry officer of the Guards, of large, handsome build, noble, 27 years of age, desires a financial marriage. Please address, Count v. W. I., Post Office General Delivery, Dresden." In comparison with the fellow who makes so cynical an offer, the street-walker, who, out of bitter necessity, plies her trade, is a paragon of decency and virtue. Similar advertisements are found almost every day in the papers of all political parties—except the Social Democratic. A Social Democratic editor or manager, who would accept such or similar advertisements for his paper, would be expelled from his party as dishonorable. The capitalist press is not troubled at such advertisements: they bring in money: and it is of the mind of the Emperor Vespasian,—non olet, it does not smell. Yet all that does not hinder that same press from going rabid mad at "the marriage-undermining tendencies of Socialism." Never yet was there an age more hypocritical than the one we are living in. With the view to demonstrate the fact once more, the above instances were cited.

Bureaus of information for marriage,—that's what the advertisement pages of most of the newspapers of our day are. Whosoever, be it male or female, finds near at hand nothing desirable, entrusts his or her heart's wants to the pious-conservative or moral-liberal press, that, in consideration of cash and without coaxing, sees to it that the kindred souls meet. With illustrations, taken on any one day from a number of large newspapers, whole pages, could be filled. Off and on the interesting fact also crops out that even clergymen are sought for husbands, and, vice versa, clergymen angle for wives, with the aid of advertisements. Occasionally, the suitors also offer to overlook a slip, provided the looked-for woman be rich. In short, the moral turpitude of certain social circles of our society can be pilloried no better than by this sort of courtship.

State and Church play in such "holy matrimony" a by no means handsome role. Whether the civil magistrate or clergyman, on whom may devolve the duty to celebrate the marriage, be convinced that the bridal couple before him has been brought together by the vilest of practices; whether it be manifest that, neither in point of age nor that of bodily or mental qualities, the two are compatible with each other; whether, for instance, the bride be twenty and the bridegroom seventy years old, or the reverse; whether the bride be young, handsome and joyful, and the bridegroom old, ridden with disease and crabbed;—whatever the case, it concerns not the representative of the State or the Church; it is not for them to look into that. The marriage bond is "blessed,"—as a rule, blessed with all the greater solemnity in proportion to the size of the fee for the "holy office."

When, later, such a marriage proves a most unfortunate one—as foreseen by everybody, by the ill-starred victim, in most instances the woman, herself,—and either party decides to separate, then, State and Church,—who never first inquire whether real love and natural, moral impulses, or only naked, obscene egotism tie the knot—now raise the greatest difficulties. At present, moral repulsion is but rarely recognized a sufficient ground for separation; at present, only palpable proofs, proofs that always dishonor or lower one of the parties in public esteem, are, as a rule, demanded; separation is not otherwise granted. That the Roman Catholic Church does not allow divorces,—except by special dispensation of the Pope, which is hard to obtain, and, at best, only from board and bed—only renders all the worse the conditions, under which all Catholic countries are suffering. Germany has the prospect of receiving, in the not too far distant future, a civil code that shall embrace the whole Empire. It is, therefore, a side-light upon our times that, although even the superficial observer must reach the conclusion that at no previous period have unhappy marriages been so numerous as now—a natural consequence of our whole social development—the new draft for a civil code still renders divorce materially difficult. It is but a fresh instance of the old experience,—a social system, in the throes of dissolution, seeks to keep itself up by artificial means and compulsion, and to deceive itself upon its actual state. In declining Rome, marriage and births were sought to be promoted by premiums: in the German Empire, whose social order stands under a constellation similar with that of the decaying Empire of the Caesars, it is now sought to prevent the ever more frequent desire for the dissolution of marriage by means of forcible constraints.

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