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Obstacles To Romantic Love

Title:     Obstacles To Romantic Love
Author: Henry Theophilus Finck [More Titles by Finck]

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."

[FOOTNOTE 128: The poets and a certain class of novelists also like to dwell on the love-matches among peasants as compared with commercial city marriages. As a matter of fact, in no class do sordid pecuniary matters play so great a role as among peasants. (_Cf._ Grosse. _F.d.F._, 16.)]



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.

[FOOTNOTE 129: _Princ. of Soc._, American Edition, pp. 756, 772, 784, 787.]



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 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 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]

[FOOTNOTE 130: The proofs of man's universal contempt for woman are to be found in the chapter on "Adoration," and everywhere in this book. Many additional illustrations are contained in several articles by Crawley in the _Jour. Anthrop. Inst_., Vol. XXIV.]



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,

"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, 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.

[FOOTNOTE 131: _Cf_. Ploss-Bartels, I., 471-87, where this topic of infant marriage is treated with truly German thoroughness and erudition.]

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 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 , 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_ 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, 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, "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. 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]

[FOOTNOTE 132: To demonstrate the recklessness (to use a mild word) of Darwin and Westermarck in this matter I will quote the exact words of Burchell in the passage referred to (II., 58-59): "These men generally take a second wife as soon as the first becomes somewhat advanced in years." "Most commonly" the girls are betrothed when about seven years old, and in two or three years the girl is given to the man. "These bargains are made with her parents only, and _without ever consulting the wishes (even if she had any) of the daughter_. When it happens, which is not often the case, that a girl has grown up to womanhood without having been betrothed, her lover must gain her approbation _as well as that of her parents_."]

[FOOTNOTE 133: Darwin was evidently puzzled by the queer nature of Reade's evidence in other matters (_D.M._, Chap. XIX.); yet he naively relies on him as an authority. Reade told him that the ideas of negroes on beauty are "on the whole, the same as ours." Yet in several other pages of Darwin we see it noted that according to Reade, the negroes have a horror of a white skin and admire a skin in proportion to its blackness; that "they look on blue eyes with aversion, and they think our noses too long and our lips too thin." "He does not think it probable," Darwin adds, "that negroes would ever prefer the most beautiful European woman, on the mere ground of physical admiration, to a good-looking negress." How extraordinarily like our taste! If a man had talked to Darwin about corals or angleworms as foolishly and inconsistently as Reade did about negroes, he would have ignored him. But in matters relating to beauty or love all rubbish is accepted, and every globe-trotter and amateur explorer who wields a pen is treated as an authority.]

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, 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 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."

[FOOTNOTE 134: See McLennan's _Studies in Ancient History_, first and second series; Spencer's _Principles of Sociology_, I., Part 3, Chap. 4; Westermarck, Chap. XIV., etc.]

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]

[FOOTNOTE 135: Westermarck, 364-66, where many other striking cases of racial prejudice are given.]

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 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";

[FOOTNOTE 136: For instance omal-win-yuk-un-der, illpoogee, loityo, kernoo, ipamoo, badjeerie, mungaroo, yowerda, yowada, yoorda, yooada, yongar, yunkera, wore, yowardoo, marloo, yowdar, koolbirra, madooroo, oggra, arinva, oogara, augara, uggerra, bulka, yshuckuru, koongaroo, chookeroo, thaldara, kulla, etc.]

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.

[The end]
Henry Theophilus Finck's Book: Obstacles To Romantic Love