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Mistakes Regarding Conjugal Love

Title:     Mistakes Regarding Conjugal Love
Author: Henry Theophilus Finck [More Titles by Finck]

Having distinguished romantic or sentimental love from sentimentality on one side and sensuality on the other, it remains to show how it differs from conjugal affection.



On hearing the words "love letters," does anybody ever think of a man's letters to his wife? No more than of his letters to his mother. He may love both his wife and his mother dearly, but when he writes love letters he writes them to his sweetheart. Thus, public opinion and every-day literary usage clearly recognize the difference between romantic love and conjugal affection. Yet when I maintained in my first book that romantic love differs as widely from conjugal affection as maternal love differs from friendship; that romantic love is almost as modern as the telegraph, the railway, and the electric light; and that perhaps the main reasons why no one had anticipated me in an attempt to write a book to prove this, were that no distinction had heretofore been made between conjugal and romantic love, and that the apparent occurrence of noble examples of conjugal attachment among the ancient Greeks had obscured the issue--there was a chorus of dissenting voices. "The distinction drawn by him between romantic and conjugal love," wrote one critic, "seems more fanciful than real." "He will not succeed," wrote another, "in convincing anybody that romantic and conjugal love differ in kind instead of only in degree or place"; while a third even objected to my theory as "essentially immoral!"

Mr. W.D. Howells, on the other hand, accepted my distinction, and in a letter to me declared that he found conjugal affection an even more interesting field of study than romantic love. Why, indeed, should anyone be alarmed at the distinction I made? Is not a man's feeling toward his sweetheart different from his feeling toward his mother or sister? Why then should it be absurd or "immoral" to maintain that it differs from his feeling toward his wife? What I maintain is that romantic love disappears gradually, to be replaced, as a rule, by conjugal affection, which is sometimes a less intense, at other times a more intense, feeling than the emotions aroused during courtship. The process may be compared to a modulation in music, in which some of the tones in a chord are retained while others are displaced by new ones. Such modulations are delightful, and the new harmony may be as beautiful as the old. A visitor to Wordsworth's home wrote:

"I saw the old man walking in the garden with
his wife. They were both quite old, and he was
almost blind; but they seemed like sweethearts
courting, they were so tender to each other
and attentive."

A husband may be, and should be, quite as tender, as attentive, as gallant and self-sacrificing, as sympathetic, proud, and devoted as a lover; yet all his emotions will appear in a new orchestration, as it were. In the gallant attentions of a loving husband, the anxious eagerness to please is displaced by a pleasant sense of duty and gentlemanly courtesy. He still prefers his wife to all other women and wants a monopoly of her love; but this feeling has a proprietary tinge that was absent before. Jealousy, too, assumes a new aspect; it may, temporarily, bring back the uncertainty of courtship, but the emotion is colored by entirely different ideas: jealousy in a lover is a green-eyed monster gnawing merely at his hopes, and not, as in a husband, threatening to destroy his property and his family honor--which makes a great difference in the quality of the feeling and its manifestation. The wife, on her part, has no more use for coyness, but can indulge in the luxury of bestowing gallant attentions which before marriage would have seemed indelicate or forward, while after marriage they are a pleasant duty, rising in some cases to heroic self-sacrifice.

If even within the sphere of romantic love no two cases are exactly alike, how could love before marriage be the same as after marriage when so many new experiences, ideas, and associations come into play? Above all, the feelings relating to the children bring an entirely new group of tones into the complex harmony of affection. The intimacies of married life, the revelation of characteristics undiscovered before marriage, the deeper sympathy, the knowledge that theirs is "one glory an' one shame"--these and a hundred other domestic experiences make romantic love undergo a change into something that may be equally rich and strange but is certainly quite different. A wife's charms are different from a girl's and inspire a different kind of love. The husband loves

Those virtues which, before untried,
The wife has added to the bride,

as Samuel Bishop rhymes it. In their predilection for maidens, poets, like novelists, have until recently ignored the wife too much. But Cowper sang:

What is there in the vale of life
Half so delightful as a wife,
When friendship, love and peace combine
To stamp the marriage bond divine?
The stream of pure and genuine love
Derives its current from above;
And earth a second Eden shows,
Where'er the healing water flows.

Some of the specifically romantic ingredients of love, on the other hand--adoration, hyperbole, the mixed moods of hope and despair--do not normally enter into conjugal affection. No one would fail to see the absurdity of a husband's exclaiming

O that I were a glove upon that hand
That I might touch that cheek.

He _may_ touch that cheek, and kiss it too--and that makes a tremendous difference in the tone and tension of his feelings. Unlike the lover, the husband does not think, feel, and speak in perpetual hyperboles. He does not use expressions like "beautiful tyrant, fiend angelical," or speak of

The cruel madness of love
The honey of poisonous flowers.

There is no madness or cruelty in conjugal love: in its normal state it is all peace, contentment, happiness, while romantic love, in its normal state, is chiefly unrest, doubt, fear, anxiety, torture and anguish of heart--with alternating hours of frantic elation--until the Yes has been spoken.

The emotions of a husband are those of a mariner who has entered into the calm harbor of matrimony with his treasure safe and sound, while the romantic lover is as one who is still on the high seas of uncertainty, storm-tossed one moment, lifted sky-high on a wave of hope, the next in a dark abyss of despair. It is indeed lucky that conjugal affection does differ so widely from romantic love; such nervous tension, doubt, worry, and constant friction between hope and despair would, if continued after marriage, make life a burden to the most loving couples.



The notion that genuine romantic love does not undergo a metamorphosis in marriage is the first of five mistakes I have undertaken to correct in this chapter. The second is summed up in Westermarck's assertion that it is

"impossible to believe that there ever was
a time when conjugal affection was entirely
wanting in the human race ... it seems, in
its most primitive form, to have been as old
as marriage itself. It must be a certain
degree of affection that induces the male
to defend the female during her period of

Now I concede that natural selection must have developed at an early period in the history of man, as in the lower animals, some kind of an _attachment_ between male and females. A wife could not seek her daily food in the forest and at the same time defend herself and her helpless babe against wild beasts and human enemies. Hence natural selection favored those groups in which the males attached themselves to a particular female for a longer time than the breeding-season, defending her from enemies and giving her a share of their game. But from this admitted fact to the inference that it is "affection" that makes the husband defend his wife, there is a tremendous logical skip not warranted by the situation. Instead of making such an assumption offhand, the scientific method requires us to ask if there is not some other way of accounting for the facts more in accordance with the selfish disposition and habits of savages. The solution of the problem is easily found. A savage's wife is his property, which he has acquired by barter, service, fighting, or purchase, and which he would be a fool not to protect against injury or rivals. She is to him a source of utility, comfort, and pleasure, which is reason enough why he should not allow a lion to devour her or a rival to carry her off. She is his cook, his slave, his mule; she fetches wood and water, prepares the food, puts up the camp, and when it is time to move carries the tent and kitchen utensils, as well as her child to the next place. If his motive in protecting her against men and beasts were _affection_, he would not thus compel her to do all the work while he walks unburdened to the next camping-place.

Apart from these home comforts there are selfish reasons enough why savages should take the trouble to protect their wives and rear children. In Australia it is a universal custom to exchange a daughter for a new wife, discarding or neglecting the old one; and the habit of treating children as merchandise prevails in various other parts of the world. The gross utilitarianism of South African marriages is illustrated in Dr. Fritsch's remarks on the Ama-Zulus. "As these women too are slaves, there is not much to say about love, marriage, or conjugal life," he says. The husband pays for his wife, but expects her to repay him for his outlay by hard work and _by bearing children whom he can sell_. "If she fails to make herself thus useful, if she falls ill, becomes weak, or remains childless, he often sends her back to her father and demands restitution of the cattle he had paid for her;" and his demand has to be complied with. Lord Randolph Churchill was informed by a native of Mashonaland that he had his eye on a girl whom he desired to marry, because "if he was lucky, his wife might have daughters whom he would be able to sell in exchange for goats." Samuel Baker writes in one of his books of African exploration (_Ism_., 341):

"Girls are always purchased if required as wives. It would be quite impossible to obtain a wife for love from any tribe that I have visited. 'Blessed is he that hath his quiver full of them' (daughters). A large family of girls is a source of wealth to the father, as he sells each daughter for twelve or fifteen cows to her suitor."

Of the Central African, Macdonald says (I., 141):

"The more wives he has the richer he is. It is his wives that maintain him. They do all his ploughing, milling, cooking, etc. They may be viewed as superior servants, who combine all the capacities of male servants and female servants in Britain--who do all his work and ask no wages."

We need not assume a problematic affection to explain why such a man marries.

But the savage's principal marriage motive is, of course, sensualism. If he wants to own a particular girl he must take care of her. If he tires of her it is easy enough to get rid of her or to make her a drudge pure and simple, while her successor enjoys his caresses. Speaking of Pennsylvania Indians, Buchanan remarks naively (II., 95) that "the wives are the true servants of their husbands; otherwise the men are very affectionate to them." On another page he inadvertently explains what he means by this paradox: "the ancient women are used for cooks, barbers, and other services, the younger for dalliance." In other words, Buchanan makes the common mistake of applying the altruistic word affection to what is nothing more than selfish indulgence of the sensual appetite. So does Pajeken when he tells us in the _Ausland_ about the "touching tenderness" of a Crow chief toward a fourteen-year-old girl whom he had just added to the number of his wives.

"While he was in the wigwam he did not leave her a moment. With his own hands he adorned her with chains, and strings of teeth and pearls, and he found a special pleasure in combing her black, soft, silken hair. He gambolled with her like a child and rocked her on his knees, telling her stories. Of his other wives he demanded the utmost respect in their treatment of his little one."

This reference to the other wives ought to have opened Pajeken's eyes as to the silliness of speaking of the "touching" tenderness of the Crow chief to his latest favorite. In a few years she was doomed to be discarded, like the others, in favor of a new victim of his carnal appetite. Affection is entirely out of the question in such cases.

The Malayans of Sumatra have, as Carl Bock tells us, a local custom allowing a wife to marry again if her faithless spouse has deserted her for three months:

"The early age at which marriage is contracted is an obstacle to any real affection between couples; for girls to be wives at fourteen is a common occurrence; indeed, that age may be put down as the average age of first marriage. The girls are then frequently good-looking, but hard work and the cares of maternity soon stamp their faces with the marks of age, and spoil their figures, and then the Malay husband forsakes his wife, if, indeed, he keeps her so long."

Marriage with these people is, as Bock adds, a mere matter of pounds, shillings, and pence. His servant had married a "grass-widow" of three months' desertion. But

"before she had enjoyed her new title six weeks, a coolness sprang up between her and her husband. I inquired the reason, and she naively confessed that her husband had no more rupees to give her, and so she did not care for him any longer."

Concerning Damara women Galton writes:

"They were extremely patient, though not feminine, according to our ideas: they had no strong affections either for spouse or children; in fact, the spouse was changed almost weekly, and I seldom knew without inquiry who the _pro tempore_ husband of each lady was at any particular time."

Among the Singhalese, if a wife is sick and can no longer minister to her husband's comforts and pleasure he repudiates her. Bailey says[123] that this heartless desertion of a sick wife is "the worst trait in the Kandyan character, and the cool and unconcerned manner in which they themselves allude to it shows that it is as common as it is cruel."

[123: _Trans. Ethn. Soc. N.S._, II, 292.]


"How can a man be contented with one wife," exclaimed an Arab sheik to Sir Samuel Baker (_N.T.A._, 263). "It is ridiculous, absurd." And then he proceeded to explain why, in his opinion, monogamy is such an absurdity:

"What is he to do when she becomes old? When she is young, if very lovely, perhaps, he might be satisfied with her, but even the young must some day grow old, and the beautiful must fade. The man does not fade like a woman; therefore, as he remains the same for many years, Nature has arranged that the man shall have young wives to replace the old; does not the prophet allow it?"

He then pointed out what further advantage there was in having several wives:

"This one carries water, that one grinds corn; this makes the bread; the last does not do much, as she is the youngest and my favorite; and if they neglect their work they get a taste of this!"

shaking a long and tolerably thick stick.

There you have the typical male polygamist with his reasons frankly stated--sensual gratification and utilitarianism.



One of the most gossipy and least critical of all writers on primitive man, Bonwick, declares, in describing Tasmanian funerals, that

"the affectionate nature of women appeared on such melancholy occasions.... The women not only wept, but lacerated their bodies with sharp shells and stones, even burning their thighs with fire-sticks.... The hair cut off in grief was thrown upon the mound."'

Descriptions of the howling and tortures to which savages subject themselves as part of their funeral rites abound in works of travel, and although every school-boy knows that the deepest waters are silent, it is usually assumed that these howling antics betray the deep grief and affection of the mourners. Now I do not deny that the lower races do feel grief at the loss of a relative or friend; it is one of the earliest emotions to develop in mankind. What I object to in particular is the notion that the penances to which widows submit on the death of their husbands indicate deep and genuine conjugal affection. As a matter of fact, these penances are not voluntary but prescribed, each widow in a tribe being expected to indulge in the same howlings and mutilations, so that this circumstance alone would make it impossible to say whether her lamentations over her late spouse came under the head of affection, fondness, liking, or attachment, or whether they are associated with indifference or hatred. It is instructive to note that, in descriptions of mourning widows, the words "must" or "obliged to" nearly always occur. Among the Mandans, we read in Catlin (I., 95), "in mourning, like the Crows and most other tribes, the women _are obliged_ to crop their hair all off; and the usual term of that condolence is until the hair has grown again to its former length." The locks of the men (who make them do this), "are of much greater importance," and only one or two can be spared. According to Schomburgk, on the death of her husband, an Arawak wife _must_ cut her hair; and until this has again grown to a certain length she _cannot_ remarry. (Spencer, _D.S._, 20.) Among the Patagonians, "the widow, or widows, of the dead, are _obliged_ to mourn and fast for a whole year after the death of their husbands." They _must_ abstain from certain kinds of food, and _must not_ wash their faces and hands for a whole year; while "during the year of mourning they are _forbidden_ to marry." (Falkner, 119.) The grief is all prescribed and regulated according to tribal fancy. The Brazilians "repeat the lamentation for the dead twice a day." (Spix and Martins, II., 250.) The Comanches

"mourn for the dead _systematically and periodically_ with great noise and vehemence; at which time the _female_ relatives of the deceased scarify their arms and legs with sharp flints until the blood trickles from a thousand pores. The duration of these lamentations depends on the quality and estimation of the deceased; varying from three to five or seven days."

(Schoolcraft, I., 237.) James Adair says in his _History of the American Indians_ (188), "They _compel_ the widow to act the part of the disconsolate dove, for the irreparable loss of her mate."

In Dahomey, during mourning "the weeping relatives _must_ fast and refrain from bathing," etc. (Burton, II., 164.) In the Transvaal, writes the missionary Posselt,

"there are a number of heathenish customs which the widows are _obliged_ to observe. There is, first, the terrible lamentation for the dead. Secondly, the widows _must_ allow themselves to be fumigated," etc.

Concerning the Asiatic Turks Vambery writes that the women are not allowed to attend the funeral, but "are _obliged_ meanwhile to remain in their tent, and, while lamenting incessantly, scratch their cheeks with their nails, _i.e._, mar their beauty." The widow _must_ lament or sing dirges for a whole year, etc. Chippewa widows are _obliged_ to fast and must not comb their hair for a year or wear any ornament. A Shushwap widow _must not_ allow her shadow to fall on any one, and must bed her head on thorns. Bancroft notes (I., 731) that among the Mosquito Indians

"the widow was _bound_ to supply the grave of her husband with provisions for a year, after which she took up the bones and carried them with her for another year, at last placing them upon the roof of her house, and then only was she _allowed_ to marry again."

The widows of the Tolkotin Indians in Oregon were subjected to such maltreatment that some of them committed suicide to escape their sufferings. For nine days they were obliged to sleep beside the corpse and follow certain rules in regard to dressing and eating. If a widow neglected any of these, she was on the tenth day thrown on the funeral pile with the corpse and tossed about and scorched till she lost consciousness. Afterward she was obliged to perform the function of a slave to all the other women and children of the tribe.[124]

[124: Ross Cox, cited by Yarrow in his valuable article on Mortuary Customs of North American Indians, I, _Report Bur. Ethnol.,_ 1879-80. See also Ploss-Bartels, II., 507-13; Westermarck, 126-28; Letourneau, Chap. XV., where many other cases are cited.]

So far as I am aware, no previous writer on the subject has emphasized the obligatory character of all these performances by widows. To me that seems by far the most important aspect of the question, as it shows that the widows were not prompted to these actions by affectionate grief or self-sacrificing impulses, but by the command of the men; and if we bear in mind the superlative selfishness of these men we have no difficulty in comprehending that what makes them compel the women to do these penances is the desire to make them eager to care for the comfort and welfare of their husbands lest the latter die and they thus bring upon themselves the discomforts arid terrors of widowhood.

Martius justly remarks that the great dependance of savage women makes them eager to please their husbands; and this eagerness would naturally be doubled by making widowhood forbidding. Bruhier wrote, in 1743, that in Corsica it was customary, in case a man died, for the women to fall upon his widow and give her a sound drubbing. This custom, he adds significantly, "prompted the women to take good care of their husbands."

It is true that the widowers also in some cases subjected themselves to penance; but usually they made it very much easier for themselves than for the widows. In his _Lettres sur le Congo_ Edouard Dupont relates that a man who has lost his wife and wants to show grief shaves his head, blackens himself, _stops work_, and sits in front of his chimbeque several days. His neighbors meanwhile feed him [no fasting for _him_!], and at last a friend brings him a calabash of malofar and tells him "stop mourning or you will die of starvation." "It does not happen often," Dupont adds, "that the advice is not promptly followed."

Selfish utilitarianism does not desert the savage even at the grave of his wife. An amusing illustration of the shallowness of aboriginal grief where it seems "truly touching" may be found in an article by the Rev. F. McFarlane on British New Guinea.[125] Scene: "A woman is being buried. The husband is lying by the side of the grave, apparently in an agony of grief; he sobs and cries as if his heart would break." Then he jumps into the grave and whispers into the ears of the corpse--what? a last farewell? Oh, no! "He is asking the spirit of his wife to go with him when he goes fishing, and make him successful also when he goes hunting, or goes to battle," etc.; his last request being, "_And please don't be angry if I get another wife_!"

[125: _Trans. Ninth Internal. Congr. of Orientalists_, London, 1893, p. 781.]

The simple truth is that in their grief, as in everything else, savages are nothing but big children, crying one moment, laughing the next. Whatever feelings they may have are shallow and without devotion. If the widows of Mandans, Arawaks, Patagonians, etc., do not marry until a year after the death of their husband this is not on account of affectionate grief, but, as we have seen, because they are not allowed to. Where custom prescribes a different course, they follow that with the same docility. When a Kansas or Osage wife finds, on the return of a war-party, that she is a widow, she howls dismally, but forthwith seeks an avenger in the shape of a new husband. "After the death of a husband, the sooner a squaw marries again, the greater respect and regard she is considered to show for his memory." (Hunter, 246.) The Australian custom for women, especially widows, is to mourn by scratching the face and branding the body. As for the grief itself, its quality may be inferred from the fact that these women sit day after day by the grave or platform, howling their monotonous dirge, but, as soon as they are allowed to pause for a meal they indulge in the merriest pranks. (K.E. Jung, 111.)



In many cases the mourning of savages, instead of being an expression of affection and grief, appears to be simply a mode of gratifying their love of ceremonial and excitement. That is, they mourn for entertainment--I had almost said for fun; and it is easy to see too, that vanity and superstition play their role here as in their "ornamenting" and everything else they do. By the Abipones "women are appointed to go forward on swift steeds to dig the grave, and _honor_ the funeral with lamentations." (Dobrizhoffer II., 267.) During the ceremony of making a skeleton of a body the Patagonians, as Falkner informs us (119), indulge in singing in a mournful tone of voice, and striking the ground, to _frighten away_ the Valichus or Evil Beings. Some of the Indians also visit the relatives of the dead, indulging in antics which show that the whole thing is done for effect and pastime. "During this visit of condolence," Falkner continues,

"they cry, howl, and sing, in the most dismal manner; straining out tears, and pricking their arms and thighs with sharp thorns, to make them bleed. For this _show of grief_ they are _paid_ with glass beads," etc.

The Rev. W. Ellis writes that the Tahitians, when someone had died, "not only wailed in the loudest and most affecting tone, but tore their hair, rent their garments, and cut themselves with shark's teeth or knives in a most shocking manner." That this was less an expression of genuine grief than a result of the barbarous love of excitement, follows from what he adds: that in a milder form, this loud wailing and cutting with shark's teeth was "an expression of joy as well as of grief." (_Pol. Res_., I., 527.) The same writer relates in his book on Hawaii (148) that when a chief or king died on that island,

"the people ran to and fro without their clothes, appearing and acting more like demons than human beings; every vice was practised and almost every species of crime perpetrated."

J.T. Irving tells a characteristic story of an Indian girl whom he found one day lying on a grave singing a song "so despairing that it seemed to well out from a broken heart." A half-breed friend, who thoroughly understood the native customs, marred his illusion by informing him that he had heard the girl say to her mother that as she had nothing else to do, she believed she would go and take a bawl over her brother's grave. The brother had been dead five years!

The whole question of aboriginal mourning is patly summed up in a witty remark made by James Adair more than a century ago (1775). He has seen Choctaw mourners, he declares, "pour out tears like fountains of water; but after thus tiring themselves they might with perfect propriety have asked themselves, '_ And who is dead?_'"



Instructive, from several points of view, is an incident related by McLean (I., 254-55): A carrier Indian having been killed, his widow threw herself on the body, shrieking and tearing her hair. The other females "evinced all the external symptoms of extreme grief, chanting the death-song in a most lugubrious tone, the tears streaming down their cheeks, and beating their breasts;" yet as soon as the rites were ended, these women "were seen as gay and cheerful as if they had returned from a wedding." The widow alone remained, being "obliged by custom" to mourn day and night.

"The bodies were formerly burned; the relatives of the deceased, as well as those of the widow, being present, all armed; a funeral pile was erected, and the body placed upon it. The widow then set fire to the pile, and was compelled to stand by it, anointing her breast with the fat that oozed from the body, until the heat became insupportable; when the wretched creature, however, attempted to draw back, she was thrust forward by her husband's relatives at the point of their spears, and forced to endure the dreadful torture until either the body was reduced to ashes, or she herself almost scorched to death. Her relatives were present merely to preserve her life; when no longer able to stand they dragged her away, and this intervention often led to bloody quarrels."

Obviously the compulsory mourning enforced in McLean's day was simply a mild survival of this former torture, which, in turn, was a survival of the still earlier practice of actually burning the widows alive, or otherwise killing them, which used to prevail in various parts of the world, as in India, among some Chinese aboriginal tribes, the old Germans, the Thracians and Scythians, some of the Greeks, the Lithuanians, the Basutos, the natives of Congo and other African countries, the inhabitants of New Zealand, the Solomon Islands, New Hebrides, Fiji Islands, the Crees, Comanches, Caribs, and various other Indian tribes in California, Darien, Peru, etc.[126]

[126: Details and authorities in Ploss-Bartels, II., 514-17; Westermarck, 125-26; Letourneau, Chap. XV.]


Some writers have advanced the opinion that jealousy prompted the men to compel their wives to follow them into death. But the most widely accepted opinion is that expressed long ago by St. Boniface when he declared regarding the Wends that

"they _preserve their conjugal love_ with such ardent zeal that the wife refuses to survive her husband; and _she_ is especially admired among women who takes her own life in order to be burnt on the same pile with her master."

This view is the fourth of the mistakes I have undertaken to demolish in this chapter.

In the monumental work of Ploss and Bartels (II., 514), the opinion is advanced that the custom of slaughtering widows on the death of their husbands is the result of the grossly materialistic view the races in question hold in regard to a future world. It is supposed that a warrior will reappear with all his physical attributes and wants; for which reason he is arranged in his best clothes, his weapons are placed by his side, and often animals and slaves are slaughtered to be useful to him in his new existence. His principal servant and provider of home comforts, however, is his wife, wherefore she, too, is expected to follow him.

This, no doubt, is the truth about widow-burning; but it is not the whole truth. To comprehend all the horrors of the situation we must realize clearly that it was the fiendish selfishness of the men, extending even beyond death, which thus subjected their wives to a cruel death, and that the widows, on their part, did not follow them because of the promptings of affection, but either under physical compulsion or in consequence of a systematic course of moral reprobation and social persecution which made death preferable to life. In Peru, for instance, where widows were not killed against their will, but were allowed to choose between widowhood and being buried alive,

"the wife or servant who preferred life to the act of martyrdom, which was to attest their fidelity, was an object of general contempt, and devoted or doomed to a life worse than death."

The consequence of this was that

"generally the wives and servants offered themselves voluntarily, and there are even instances of wives who preferred suicide to prove their conjugal devotion when they were prevented from descending to the grave with the body of their consort." (Rivero and Tschudi, 186.)

Usually, too, superstition was called to aid to make the widows docile. In Fiji, for instance, to quote Westermarck's summing up of several authorities, widows

"were either buried alive or strangled, often at their own desire, because they believed that in this way alone could they reach the realms of bliss, and that she who met her death with the greatest devotedness would become the favorite wife in the abode of spirits. On the other hand, a widow who did not permit herself to be killed was considered an adulteress."

To realize vividly how far widow-burning is from being an act of voluntary wifely devotion one must read Abbe Dubois's account of the matter (I., chap. _21_). He explains that, however chaste and devoted a wife may have been during her husband's life, she is treated worse than the lowest outcast if she wants to survive him. By a "voluntary" death, on the contrary, she becomes "an illustrious victim of conjugal attachment," and is "considered in the light of a deity." On the way to the funeral pyre the accompanying multitude stretch out their hands toward her in token of admiration. They behold her as already translated into the paradise of Vishnu and seem to envy her happy lot. The women run up to her to receive her blessing, and she knows that afterward crowds of votaries will daily frequent her shrine. The Brahmans compliment her on her heroism. (Sometimes drugs are administered to stifle her fears.) She knows, too, that it is useless to falter at the last moment, as a change of heart would be an eternal disgrace, not only to herself but to her relatives, who, therefore, stand around with sabres and rifles to _intimidate_ her. In short, with satanic ingenuity, every possible appeal is made to her family pride, vanity, longing for future bliss and divine honors after life, enforced by the knowledge that if she lives earth will be a hell to her, so that refusal is next to impossible. And this is the much-vaunted "conjugal affection and fidelity" of Hindoo widows!



The practice of "voluntary" widow-burning is, as the foregoing shows, about as convincing proof of wifely devotion as the presence of an ox in the butcher's stall is proof of his gastronomic devotion to man. In reality it is, as I have said, simply the most diabolical aspect of man's aboriginal disposition to look on woman as made solely for his own comfort and pleasure, here and hereafter. Now it is very instructive to note that whenever there is a story of conjugal devotion in Oriental or ancient classical literature it is nearly always inspired by the same spirit--the idea that the woman, as an inferior being, should subject herself to any amount of suffering if she can thereby save her sacred lord and master the slightest pang. For instance, an old Arabic writer (Kamil Mobarrad, p. 529) relates how a devoted wife whose husband was condemned to death disfigured her beautiful face in order to let him die with the consoling feeling that she would not marry again. The current notion that such stories are proof of conjugal devotion is the fifth of the mistakes to be corrected in this chapter. These stories were written by men, selfish men, who intended them as lessons to indicate to the women what was expected of them. Were it otherwise, why should not the men, too, be represented, at least occasionally, as devoted and self-sacrificing? Hector is tender to Andromache, and in the Sanscrit drama, _Kanisika's Wrath,_ the King and the Queen contend with one another as to who shall be the victim of that wrath; but these are the only instances of the kind that occur to me. This interesting question will be further considered in the chapters on India and Greece, where corroborative stories will be quoted. Here I wish only to emphasize again the need of caution and suspicion in interpreting the evidence relating to the human feelings.



So much for the feminine aspect of conjugal devotion. In regard to the masculine aspect something must be added to what was said in preceding pages (307-10). We saw there that primitive man desires wives chiefly as drudges and concubines. It was also indicated briefly that wives are valued as mothers of daughters who can be sold to suitors. As a rule, sons are more desired than daughters, as they increase a man's power and authority, and because they alone can keep up the superstitious rites which are deemed necessary for the salvation of the father's selfish old soul. Now the non-existence or extreme rarity of conjugal attachment--not to speak of affection--is painfully indicated by the circumstance that wives were, among many races, valued (apart from grossly utilitarian and sensual motives) as mothers only, and that the men had a right, of which they commonly availed themselves, of repudiating a wife if she proved barren. On the lower Congo, says Dupont, a wife is not respected unless she has at least three children. Among the Somali, barren women are dieted and dosed, and if that proves unavailing they are usually chased away. (Paulitschke, _B.E.A.S_., 30.) If a Greenlander's wife did not bear him any children he generally took another one. (Cranz, I., 147.) Among the Mexican Aztecs divorce, even from a concubine, was not easy; but in case of barrenness even the principal wife could be repudiated. (Bancroft, II., 263-65.) The ancient Greeks, Romans, and Germans, the Chinese and Japanese, could divorce a wife on account of barrenness. For a Hindoo the laws of Manu indicate that "a barren wife may be dispensed with in the eighth year; one whose children all die, in the tenth; one who bears only daughters, in the eleventh." The tragic import of such bare statements is hardly realized until we come upon particular instances like those related by the Indian authoress Ramabai:

"Of the four wives of a certain prince, the eldest had borne him two sons; she was therefore his favorite, and her face beamed with happiness.... But oh! what contrast to this happiness was presented in the apartments of the childless three. Their faces were sad and careworn; there seemed no hope for them in this world, since their lord was displeased with them on account of their misfortune."

"A lady friend of mine in Calcutta told me that her husband had warned her not to give birth to a girl, the first time, or he would never see her face again." Another woman

"had been notified by her husband that if she persisted in bearing daughters she should be superseded by another wife, have coarse clothes to wear, scanty food to eat," etc.[127]

[127: For many other cases see references in footnotes 3 and 4, Westermarck, 378.]



The conclusion to be drawn from the testimony collected in this chapter is that genuine conjugal love--the affection for a wife _for her own sake_--is, like romantic love, a product chiefly of modern civilization.

I say chiefly, because I am convinced that conjugal love was known sooner than romantic love, and for a very simple reason. Among those of the lower races where the sexes were not separated in youth, a license prevailed which led to shallow, premature, temporary alliances that precluded all idea of genuine affection, even had these folk been capable of such a sentiment; while among those tribes and peoples that practised the custom of separating the boys and girls from the earliest age, and not allowing them to become acquainted till after marriage, the growth of real, prematrimonial affection was, of course, equally impossible. In married life this was different. Living together for years, having a common interest in their children, sharing the same joys and sorrows, husband and wife would learn the rudiments of sympathy, and in happy cases there would be an opportunity for the growth of liking, attachment, fondness, or even, in exceptional instances, of affection. I cannot sufficiently emphasize the fact that my theory is psychological or cultural, not chronological. The fact that a man lives in the year 1900 makes it no more self-evident that he should be capable of sexual affection than the fact that a man lived seven centuries before Christ makes it self-evident that he could not love affectionately. Hector and Andromache existed only in the brain of Homer, who was in many respects thousands of years ahead of his contemporaries. Whether such a couple could really have existed at that time among the Trojans, or the Greeks, we do not know, but in any case it would have been an exception, proving the rule by the painful contrast of the surrounding barbarism.

Exceptions may possibly occur among the lower races, through happy combinations of circumstances. C.C. Jones describes (69) a picture of conjugal devotion among Cherokee Indians:

"By the side of the aged Mico Tomo-chi-chi, as, thin and weak, he lies upon his blanket, hourly expecting the summons of the pale-king, we see the sorrowing form of his old wife, Scenauki, bending over and fanning him with a bunch of feathers."

In his work on the Indians of California, Powers writes:

"An aged Achomauri lost his wife, to whom he had been married probably half a century, and he tarred his face in mourning for her as though he were a woman--_an act totally unprecedented_, and regarded by the Indians as evincing an _extraordinary_ affection."

St. John relates the following incident in his book on Borneo:

"Ijan, a Balau chief, was bathing with his wife in the Lingga River, a place notorious for man-eating alligators, when Indra Lela, passing in a boat, remarked, 'I have just seen a very large animal swimming up the stream.' Upon hearing this, Ijan told his wife to go up the steps and he would follow. She got safely up, but he, stopping to wash his feet, was seized by the alligator, dragged into the middle of the stream, and disappeared from view. His wife, hearing a cry, turned round, and seeing her husband's fate, sprang into the river, shrieking 'Take me also,' and dived down at the spot where she had seen the alligator sink with his prey. No persuasion could induce her to come out of the water; she swam about, diving in all the places most dreaded from being a resort of ferocious reptiles, seeking to die with her husband; at last her friends came down and forcibly removed her to their house."

These stories certainly imply conjugal attachment, but is there any indication in them of affection? The Cherokee squaw mourns the impending death of her husband, which is a selfish feeling. The Californian, similarly, laments the loss of his spouse. The only thing he does is to "tar his face in mourning," and even this is regarded by the other Indians as "extraordinary" and "unprecedented." As for the woman in the third story, it is to be noted that her act is one of selfish despair, not of self-sacrifice for her husband's sake. We shall see in later chapters that women of her grade abandon themselves to suicidal impulses, not only where there is occasion for real distress, but often on the most trivial pretexts. A few days later, in all probability, that same woman would have been ready to marry another man. There is no evidence of altruistic action--action for another's benefit--in any of these incidents, and altruism is the only test of genuine affection as distinguished from mere liking, attachment, and fondness, which, as was explained in the chapter on Affection, are the products of selfishness, more or less disguised. If this distinction had been borne in mind a vast amount of confusion could have been avoided in works of exploration and the anthropological treatises based on them. Westermarck, for instance, cites on page 357 a number of authors who asserted that sexual affection, or even the appearance of it, was unknown to the Hovas of Madagascar, the Gold Coast, and Winnabah natives, the Kabyles, the Beni-Amer, the Chittagong Hill Tribes, the Ponape islanders, the Eskimo, the Kutchin, the Iroquois, and North American Indians in general; while on the next pages he cites approvingly authors who fancied they had discovered sexual affection among tribes some of whom (Australians, Andamanese, Bushmans) are far below the peoples just mentioned. The cause of this discrepancy lies not in these races themselves, but in the inaccurate use of words, and the different standards of the writers, some accepting the rubbing of noses or other sexual caresses as evidence of "affection," while others take any acts indicating fondness, attachment, or a suicidal impulse as signs of it. In a recent work by Tyrrell, I find it stated that the Eskimo marriage is "purely a love union;" and in reading on I discover that the author's idea of a "love union" is the absence of a marriage ceremony! Yet I have no doubt that Tyrrell will be cited hereafter as evidence that love unions are common among the Eskimos. So, again, when Lumholtz writes that an Australian woman

"may happen to change husbands many times in her life, but sometimes, despite the fact that her consent is not asked, she gets the one she loves--for a black woman can love too"

--we are left entirely in the dark as to what kind of "love" is meant--sensual or sentimental, liking, attachment, fondness, or real affection. Surely it is time to put an end to such confusion, at least in scientific treatises, and to acquire in psychological discussions the precision which we always employ in describing the simplest weeds or insects.

Morgan, the great authority on the Iroquois--the most intelligent of North American Indians--lived long enough among them to realize vaguely that there must be a difference between sexual attachment before and after marriage, and that the latter is an earlier phenomenon in human evolution. After declaring that among the Indians "marriage was not founded on the affections ... but was regulated exclusively as a matter of physical necessity," he goes on to say:

"Affection after marriage would naturally spring up between the parties from association, from habit, and from mutual dependence; but of that marvellous passion which originates in a higher development of the passions of the human heart, and is founded upon a cultivation of the affections between the sexes, they were entirely ignorant. In their temperaments they were below this passion in its simplest forms."

He is no doubt right in declaring that the Indians before marriage were "in their temperaments" below affectionate love "in its simplest forms"; but, that being so, it is difficult to see how they could have acquired real affection after marriage. As a matter of fact we know that they treated their wives with a selfishness which is entirely incompatible with true affection. The Rev. Peter Jones, moreover, an Indian himself, tells us in his book on the Ojibwas:

"I have scarcely ever seen anything like social intercourse between husband and wife, and it is remarkable that the women say little in presence of the men."

Obviously, at the beginning of the passage quoted, Morgan should have used the word attachment in place of affection. Bulmer (by accident, I suspect) uses the right word when he says (Brough Smyth, 77) that Australians, notwithstanding their brutal forms of marriage, often "get much attached to each other." At the same time it is easy to show that, if not among Australians or Indians, at any rate with such a people as the ancient Greeks, conjugal affection may have existed while romantic love was still impossible. The Greeks looked down on their women as inferior beings. Now one can feel affection--conjugal or friendly--toward an inferior, but one cannot feel adoration--and adoration is absolutely essential to romantic love. Before romantic love could be born it was necessary that women should not only be respected as equal to man but worshipped as his superior. This was not done by any of the lower or ancient races; hence romantic love is a peculiarly modern sentiment, later than any other form of human affection.

[The end]
Henry Theophilus Finck's Book: Mistakes Regarding Conjugal Love