Short Stories
All Titles

In Association with Amazon.com

Home > Authors Index > Browse all available works of Henry Theophilus Finck > Text of How Sentiments Change And Grow

A non-fiction by Henry Theophilus Finck

How Sentiments Change And Grow

Title:     How Sentiments Change And Grow
Author: Henry Theophilus Finck [More Titles by Finck]

In conversation with friends I have found that the current belief that love must have been always and everywhere the same, because it is such a strong and elemental passion, is most easily shaken in this _a priori_ position by pointing out that there are other strong feelings in our minds which were lacking among earlier and lower races. The love of grand, wild scenery, for instance--what we call romantic scenery--is as modern as the romantic love of men and women. Ruskin tells us that in his youth he derived a pleasure from such scenery "comparable for intensity only to the joy of a lover in being near a noble and kind mistress."



Savages, on the other hand, are prevented from appreciating snow mountains, avalanches, roaring torrents, ocean storms, deep glens, jungles, and solitudes, not only by their lack of refinement, but by their fears of wild animals, human enemies, and evil spirits. "In the Australian bush," writes Tylor (_P.C._, II., 203), "demons whistle in the branches, and stooping with outstretched arms sneak among the trunks to seize the wayfarer;" and Powers writes in regard to California Indians that they listen to night noises with unspeakable horror:

"It is difficult for us to conceive of the speechless
terrors which these poor wretches suffer from the
screeching of owls, the shrieking of night-hawks,
the rustling of the trees ... all of which are only
channels of poison wherewith the demons would smite

To the primitive mind, the world over, a high mountain is the horror of horrors, the abode of evil spirits, and an attempt to climb it certain death. So strong is this superstition that explorers have often experienced the greatest difficulty in getting natives to serve as porters of provisions in their ascents of peaks.[6] Even the Greeks and Romans cared for landscape only in so far as it was humanized (parks and gardens) and habitable. "Their souls," says Rohde,

"could never have been touched by the sublime thrills
we feel in the presence of the dark surges of the sea,
the gloom of a primeval forest, the solitude and silence
of sunlit mountain summits."

[FOOTNOTE 6: An amusing instance of this trait may be found in Johnston's account of his ascent of the Kilima-Njaro.]

And Humboldt, who first noted the absence in Greek and Roman writings of the admiration of romantic scenery, remarked:

"Of the eternal snow of the Alps, glowing in the rosy
light of the morning or evening sun, of the loveliness
of the blue glacier ice, of the stupendous grandeur of
Swiss landscape, no description has come down to us
from them; yet there was a constant procession over
these Alps, from Helvetia to Gallia, of statesmen and
generals with literary men in their train. All these
travellers tell us only of the steep and abominable
roads; the romantic aspect of scenery never engages
their attention. It is even known that Julius Caesar,
when he returned to his legions in Gaul, employed his
time while crossing the Alps in writing his grammatical
treatise 'De Analogia.'"

A sceptical reader might retort that the love of romantic scenery is so subtle a sentiment, and so far from being universal even now, that it would be rash to argue from its absence among savages, Greeks, and Romans, that love, a sentiment so much stronger and more prevalent, could have been in the same predicament. Let us therefore take another sentiment, the religious, the vast power and wide prevalence of which no one will deny.



To a modern Christian, God is a deity who is all-wise, all-powerful, infinite, holy, the personification of all the highest virtues. To accuse this Deity of the slightest moral flaw would be blasphemy. Now, without going so far down as the lowest savages, let us see what conception such barbarians as the Polynesians have of their gods. The moral habits of some of them are indicated by their names--"The Rioter," "The Adulterer," "Ndauthina," who steals women of rank or beauty by night or by torchlight, "The Human-brain Eater," "The Murderer." Others of their gods are "proud, envious, covetous, revengeful, and the subject of every basest passion. They are demoralized heathen--monster expressions of moral corruption" (Williams, 184). These gods make war, and kill and eat each other just as mortals do. The Polynesians believed, too, that "the spirits of the dead are eaten by the gods or demons" (Ellis, _P.R_., I., 275). It might be said that since a Polynesian sees no crime in adultery, revenge, murder, or cannibalism, his attributing such qualities to his gods cannot, from his point of view, be considered blasphemous. Quite true; but my point is that men who have made so little progress in sympathy and moral perception as to see no harm in adultery, revenge, murder and cannibalism, and in attributing them to their gods, are altogether too coarse and callous to be able to experience the higher religious emotions. This inference is borne out by what a most careful observer (Ellis, _P.R._, I., 291) says:

"Instead of exercising those affections of gratitude,
complacency, and love toward the objects of their
worship which the living God supremely requires, they
regarded their deities with horrific dread, and
worshipped only with enslaving fear."

This "enslaving fear" is the principal ingredient of primitive religious emotion everywhere. To the savage and barbarian, religion is not a consolation and a blessing, but a terror. Du Chaillu says of the equatorial Africans that "their whole lives are saddened by the fears of evil spirits, witchcraft, and other kindred superstitions under which they labor." Benevolent deities, even if believed in, receive little or no attention, because, being good, they are supposed to do no harm anyway, whereas the malevolent gods must be propitiated by sacrifices. The African Dahomans, for instance, ignore their Mahu because his intentions are naturally friendly, whereas their Satan, the wicked Legba, has hundreds of statues before which offerings are made. "Early religions," as Mr. Andrew Lang tersely puts it, "are selfish, not disinterested. The worshipper is not contemplative, so much as eager to gain something to his advantage." If the gods fail to respond to the offerings made to them, the sacrificers naturally feel aggrieved, and show their displeasure in a way which to a person who knows refined religion seems shocking and sacrilegious. In Japan, China, and Corea, if the gods fail to do what is expected of them, their images are unceremoniously walloped. In India, if the rains fail, thousands of priests send up their prayers. If the drought still continues, they punish their idols by holding them under water. During a thunderstorm in Africa, Chapman (I., 45) witnessed the following extraordinary scene:

"A great number of women, employed in reaping the
extensive corn-fields through which we passed were
raising their hoes and voices to heaven, and, yelling
furiously, cursed 'Morimo' (God), as the terrific
thunder-claps succeeded each vivid flash of lightning.
On inquiry I was informed by 'Old Booy' that they were
indignant at the interruption of their labors, and that
they therefore cursed and menaced the cause. Such
blasphemy was awful, even among heathens, and I fully
expected to see the wrath of God fall upon them."

If any pious reader of such details--which might he multiplied a thousand-fold--still believes that religious emotion (like love!) is the same everywhere, let him compare his own devoted feelings during worship in a Christian church with the emotions which must sway those who participate in a religious ceremony like that described in the following passage taken from Rowney's _Wild Tribes of India_ (105). It refers to the sacrifices made by the Khonds to the God of War, the victims of which, both male and female, are often bought young and brought up for this special purpose:

"For a month prior to the sacrifice there was much
feasting and intoxication, with dancing round the
Meriah, or victim ... and on the day before the rite he
was stupefied with toddy and bound at the bottom of a
post. The assembled multitude then danced around the
post to music, singing hymns of invocation to some such
effect as follows: 'O God, we offer a sacrifice to you!
Give us good crops in return, good seasons, and
health.' On the next day the victim was again
intoxicated, and anointed with oil, which was wiped
from his body by those present, and put on their heads
as a blessing. The victim was then carried, in
procession round the village, preceded by music, and on
returning to the post a hog was sacrificed to ... the
village deity ... the blood from the carcass being
allowed to flow into a pit prepared to receive it. The
victim, made senseless by intoxication, was now thrown
into the pit, and his face pressed down till he died
from suffocation in the blood and mire, a deafening
noise with instruments being kept up all the time. The
priest then cut a piece of flesh from the body and
buried it with ceremony near the village idol, all the
rest of the people going through the same form after

Still more horrible details of these sacrifices are supplied by Dalton:

"Major Macpherson notes that the Meriah in some
districts is put to death slowly by fire, the great
object being to draw from the victim as many tears as
possible, in the belief that the cruel Tari will
proportionately increase the supply of rain."

"Colonel Campbell thus describes the _modus operandi_ in
Chinna Kimedy: 'The miserable Meriah is dragged along the
fields, surrounded by a crowd of half-intoxicated Kandhs,
who, shouting and screaming, rush upon him, and with their
knives cut the flesh piece-meal from his bones, avoiding the
head and bowels, till the living skeleton, dying from loss
of blood, is relieved from torture, when its remains are
burnt and the ashes mixed with the new grain to preserve it
from insects.'"

In some respect, the civilized Hindoos are even worse than the wild tribes of India. Nothing is more sternly condemned and utterly abhorred by modern religion than licentiousness and obscenity, but a well-informed and eminently trustworthy missionary, the Abbe Dubois, declares that sensuality and licentiousness are among the elements of Hindoo religious life:

"Whatever their religion sets before them, tends to
encourage these vices; and, consequently, all their
senses, passions, and interests are leagued in its
favor" (II., 113, etc.).

Their religious festivals "are nothing but sports; and on no occasion of life are modesty and decorum more carefully excluded than during the celebration of their religious mysteries."

More immoral even than their own religious practices are the doings of their deities. The _Bhagavata_ is a book which deals with the adventures of the god Krishna, of whom Dubois says (II., 205):

"It was his chief pleasure to go every morning to the
place where the women bathe, and, in concealment, to
take advantage of their unguarded exposure. Then he
rushed amongst them, took possession of their clothes,
and gave a loose to the indecencies of language and of
gesture. He maintained sixteen wives, who had the title
of queens, and sixteen thousand concubines.... In
obscenity there is nothing that can be compared with
the _Bhagavata_. It is, nevertheless, the delight of
the Hindu, and the first book they put into the hands
of their children, when learning to read."

Brahmin temples are little more than brothels, in each of which a dozen or more young Bayaderes are kept for the purpose of increasing the revenues of the gods and their priests. Religious prostitution and theological licentiousness prevailed also in Persia, Babylonia, Egypt, and other ancient civilized countries. Commenting on a series of obscene pictures found in an Egyptian tomb, Erman says (154): "We are shocked at the morality of a nation which could supply the deceased with such literature for the eternal journey." Professor Robertson Smith says that "in Arabia and elsewhere unrestricted prostitution was practised at the temples and defended on the analogy of the license allowed to herself by the unmarried mother goddess." Nor were the early Greeks much better. Some of their religious festivals were sensual orgies, some of their gods nearly as licentious as those of the Hindoos. Their supreme god, Zeus, is an Olympian Don Juan, and the legend of the birth of Aphrodite, their goddess of love, is in its original form unutterably obscene.

Before religious emotion could make any approximation to the devout feelings of a modern Christian, it was necessary to eliminate all these licentious, cruel, and blasphemous features of worship--the eating or slaughtering of human victims, the obscene orgies, as well as the spiteful and revengeful acts toward disobedient gods. The progress--like the Evolution of Romantic Love--has been from the sensual and selfish to the supersensual and unselfish. In the highest religious ideal, love of God takes the place of fear, adoration that of terror, self-sacrifice that of self-seeking. But we are still very far from that lofty ideal.

"The lazzarone of Naples prays to his patron saint to
favor his choice of a lottery ticket; if it turns out
an unlucky number he will take the little leaden image
of the saint from his pocket, revile it, spit on it,
and trample it in the mud."

"The Swiss clergy opposed the system of insuring growing crops because it made their parishioners indifferent to prayers for their crops" (Brinton, _R.S_., 126, 82). These are extreme cases, but Italian lazzaroni and Swiss peasants are by no means the only church-goers whose worship is inspired not by love of God but by the expectation of securing a personal benefit. All those who pray for worldly prosperity, or do good deeds for the sake of securing a happy hereafter for their souls, take a selfish, utilitarian view of the deity, and even their gratitude for favors received is too apt to be "a lively sense of possible favors to come." Still, there are now not a few devotees who love God for his own sake; and who pray not for luxuries but that their souls may be fortified in virtue and their sympathies widened. But it is not necessary to dwell on this theme any longer, now that I have shown what I started out to demonstrate, that religious emotion is very complex and variable, that in its early stages it is made up of feelings which are not loving, reverential, or even respectful, but cruel, sacrilegious, criminal, and licentious; that religion, in a word, has (like love, as I am trying to prove) passed through coarse, carnal, degrading, selfish, utilitarian stages before it reached the comparatively refined, spiritual, sympathetic, and devotional attitude of our time.

Besides the growing complexity of the religious sentiment and its gradual ennoblement, there are two points I wish to emphasize. One is that there are among us to-day thousands of intelligent and refined agnostics who are utter strangers to all religious emotions, just as there are thousands of men and women who have never known and never will know the emotions of sentimental love. Why, then, should it seem so very unlikely that whole nations were strangers to such love (as they were strangers to the higher religious sentiment), even though they were as intelligent as the Greeks and Romans? I offer this consideration not as a conclusive argument, but merely as a means of overcoming a preconceived bias against my theory.

The other point I wish to make clear is that our emotions change with our ideas. Obviously it would be absurd to suppose that a man whose ideas in regard to the nature of his gods do not prevent him from flogging them angrily in case they refuse his requests are the same as those of a pious Christian, who, if his prayers are not answered, says to his revered Creator: "Thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven," and humbly prostrates himself. And if emotions in the religious sphere are thus metamorphosed with ideas, why is it so unlikely that the sexual passion, too, should "suffer a sea change into something rich and strange?"

The existence of the wide-spread prejudice against the notion that love is subject to the laws of development, is owing to the fact that the comparative psychology of the emotions and sentiments has been strangely neglected. Anthropology, the Klondike of the comparative psychologist, reveals things seemingly much more incredible than the absence of romantic love among barbarians and partly civilized nations who had not yet discovered the nobler super-sensual fascinations which women are capable of exerting. The nuggets of truth found in that science show that every virtue known to man grew up slowly into its present exalted form. I will illustrate this assertion with reference to one general feeling, the horror of murder, and then add a few pages regarding virtues relating to the sexual sphere and directly connected with the subject of this book.



The committing of wilful murder is looked on with unutterable horror in modern civilized communities, yet it took eons of time and the co-operation of many religious, social, and moral agencies before the idea of the sanctity of human life became what it is now when it might be taken for an instinct inherent in human nature itself. How far it is from being such an instinct we shall see by looking at the facts. Among the lowest races and even some of the higher barbarians, murder, far from being regarded as a crime, is honored as a virtue and a source of glory.

An American Indian's chief pride and claim to tribal honor lies in the number of scalps he has torn from the heads of men he has killed. Of the Fijian, Williams says:

"Shedding of blood is to him no crime, but a glory.
Whoever may be the victim--whether noble or vulgar,
old or young, man, woman, or child--whether slain in
war or butchered by treachery, to be somehow an
acknowledged murderer, is the object of a Fijian's
restless ambition."

The Australian feels the same irresistible impulse to kill every stranger he comes across as many of our comparatively civilized gentlemen feel toward every bird or wild animal they see. Lumholtz, while he lived among these savages, took good care to follow the advice "never have a black fellow behind you;" and he relates a story of a squatter who was walking in the bush with his black boy hunting brush monkeys, when the boy touched him on the shoulder from behind and said, "Let me go ahead." When the squatter asked why he wished to go before him, the native answered, "Because I feel such an inclination to kill you."

Dalton says of the Oraons in India: "It is doubtful if they see any moral guilt in murder." But the most astounding race of professional murderers are the Dyaks of Borneo. "Among them," says Earl, "the more heads a man has cut off, the more he is respected." "The white man reads," said a Dyak to St. John: "_we_ hunt heads instead." "Our Dyaks," says Charles Brooke, "were eternally requesting to be allowed to go for heads, and their urgent entreaties often bore resemblance to children crying after sugar-plums." "An old Dyak," writes Dalton, "loves to dwell upon his success on these hunting excursions, and the terror of the women and children taken affords a fruitful theme of amusement at their meetings." Dalton speaks of one expedition from which seven hundred heads were brought home. The young women were carried off, the old ones killed and all the men's heads were cut off. Not that the women always escaped. Among the Dusun, as a rule, says Preyer,

"the heads were obtained in the most cowardly way
possible, a woman's or child's being just as good
as a man's ... so, as easier prey, the cowards seek
them by lying in ambush near the plantations."

Families are sometimes surprised while asleep and their heads cut off. Brooke tells of a man who for awhile kept company with a countrywoman, and then slew her and ran off with her head. "It ought to be called _head-stealing_ not _head-hunting,"_ says Hatton; and Earl remarks:

"The possession of a human head cannot be considered as
a proof of the bravery of the owner for it is not
necessary that he should have killed the victim with
his own hands, his friends being permitted to assist
him or even to perform the act themselves."

It is to be noted that the Dyaks[7] are not in other respects a fierce and diabolical race, but are at home, as Doty attests, "mild, gentle, and given to hospitality." I call special attention to this by way of indirectly answering an objection frequently urged against my theory: "How is it possible to suppose that a nation so highly civilized as the Greeks of Plato's time should have known love for women only in its lower, carnal phases?" Well, we have here a parallel case. The Dyaks are "mild, gentle, and hospitable," yet their chief delight and glory is murder! And as one of the main objects of this book is to dwell on the various obstacles which impeded the growth of romantic love, it will be interesting to glance for a moment at the causes which prevented the Dyaks from recognizing the sanctity of life. Superstition is one of them; they believe that persons killed by them will be their slaves in the next world. Pride is another. "How many heads did your father get?" a Dyak will ask; and if the number given is less than his own, the other will say, "Well, then you have no occasion to be proud." A man's rank in this world as in the next depends on the number of his skulls; hence the owner of a large number may be distinguished by his proud bearing. But the head hunter's strangest and strongest motive is _the desire to please women_! No Dyak maiden would condescend to marry a youth who has never killed a man, and in times when the chances for murder were few and far between, suitors have been compelled to wait a year or two before they could bag a skull and lead home their blushing bride. The weird details of this mode of courtship will be given in the chapter on Island Love on the Pacific.

[FOOTNOTE 7: Roth's sumptuous volume, _British North Borneo_, gives a life-like picture of the Dyaks from every point of view, with numerous illustrations.]



In all these cases we are shocked at the utter absence of the sentiment relating to the sanctity of human life. But our horror at this fiendish indifference to murder is doubled when we find that the victims are not strangers but members of the same family. I must defer to the chapter on Sympathy a brief reference to the savage custom of slaughtering sick relatives and aged parents; here I will confine myself to a few words regarding the maternal sentiment. The love of a mother for her offspring is by many philosophers considered the earliest and strongest of all sympathetic feelings; a feeling stronger than death. If we can find a wide-spread failure of this powerful instinct, we shall have one more reason for not assuming as a matter of course, that the sentiment of love must have been always present.

In Australian families it has been the universal custom to bring up only a few children in each family--usually two boys and a girl--the others being destroyed by their own parents, with no more compunction than we show in drowning superfluous puppies or kittens. The Kurnai tribe did not kill new-born infants, but simply left them behind. "The aboriginal mind does not seem to perceive the horrid idea of leaving an unfortunate baby to die miserably in a deserted camp" (Fison and Howitt, 14). The Indians of both North and South America were addicted to the practice of infanticide. Among the Arabs the custom was so inveterate that as late as our sixth century, Mohammed felt called upon, in various parts of the Koran, to discountenance it. In the words of Professor Robertson Smith:

"Mohammed, when he took Mecca and received the homage of the
women in the most advanced centre of Arabian civilization,
still deemed it necessary formally to demand from them a
promise not to commit child-murder."

Among the wild tribes of India there are some who cling to their custom of infanticide with the tenacity of fanatics. Dalton (288-90) relates that with the Kandhs this custom was so wide-spread that in 1842 Major Macpherson reported that in many villages not a single female child could be found. The British Government rescued a number of girls and brought them up, giving them an education. Some of these were afterward given in marriage to respectable Kandh bachelors,

"and it was expected that they at least would not
outrage their own feeling as mothers by consenting
to the destruction of their offspring. Subsequently,
however, Colonel Campbell ascertained that these
ladies had no female children, and, on being closely
questioned, they admitted that at their husbands' bidding
they had destroyed them."

In the South Sea Islands "not less than two-thirds of the children were murdered by their own parents." Ellis (_P.R_., I., 196-202) knew parents who had, by their own confession, killed four, six, eight, even ten of their children, and the only reason they gave was that it was the custom of the country.

"No sense of irresolution or horror appeared to exist
in the bosoms of those parents, who deliberately resolved
on the deed before the child was born." "The murderous
parents often came to their (the missionaries') houses
almost before their hands were cleansed from their
children's blood, and spoke of the deed with worse than
brutal insensibility, or with vaunting satisfaction at
the triumph of their customs over the persuasions of
their teachers."

They refused to spare babies even when the missionaries offered to take care of them (II., 23). Neither Ellis, during a residence of eight years, nor Nott during thirty years' residence on the South Sea Islands, had known a single mother who was not guilty of this crime of infanticide. Three native women who happened to be together in a room one day confessed that between them they had killed twenty-one infants--nine, seven, and five respectively.

These facts have long been familiar to students of anthropology, but their true significance has been obscured by the additional information that many tribes addicted to infanticide, nevertheless displayed a good deal of "affection" toward those whom they spared. A closer examination of the testimony reveals, however, that there is no true affection in these cases, but merely a shallow fondness for the little ones, chiefly for the sake of the selfish gratification it affords the parents to watch their gambols and to give vent to inherited animal instincts. True affection is revealed only in self-sacrifice; but the disposition to sacrifice themselves for their children is the one quality most lacking in these child-murderers. Sentimentalists, with their usual lack of insight and logical sense, have endeavored to excuse these assassins on the ground that necessity compelled them to destroy their infants. Their arguments have misled even so eminent a specialist as Professor E.B. Tylor into declaring (_Anthropology,_ 427) that "infanticide comes from hardness of life rather than from hardness of heart." What he means, may be made clear by reference to the case of the Arabs who, living in a desert country, were in constant dread of suffering from scarcity of food; wherefore, as Robertson Smith remarks (281), "to bury a daughter was regarded not only as a virtuous but as a generous deed, which is intelligible if the reason was that there would be fewer mouths to fill in the tribe." This explains the murders in question but does not show them to be excusable; it explains them as being due to the vicious selfishness and hard-heartedness of parents who would rather kill their infants than restrain their sexual appetite when they had all the children they could provide for.

In most cases the assassins of their own children had not even as much semblance of an excuse as the Arabs. Turner relates (284) that in the New Hebrides the women had to do all the work, and as it was supposed that they could not attend to more than two or three, all the others were buried alive; in other words the babes were murdered to save trouble and allow the men to live in indolence. In the instances from India referred to above, various trivial excuses for female infanticide were offered: that it would save the expenses connected with the marriage rites; that it was cheaper to buy girls than to bring them up, or, better still, to steal them from other tribes; that male births are increased by the destruction of female infants; and that it is better to destroy girls in their infancy than to allow them to grow up and become causes of strife afterward. Among the Fijians, says Williams, there is in infanticide "no admixture of anything like religious feeling or fear, but _merely whim, expediency, anger, or indolence_." Sometimes the general idea of woman's inferiority to man underlies the act. They will say to the pleading missionary: "Why should she live? Will she wield a club? Will she poise a spear?"

But it was among the women of Hawaii that the motives of infanticide reached their climax of frivolity. There mothers killed their children because they were too lazy to bring them up and cook for them; or because they wished to preserve their own beauty, or were unwilling to suffer an interruption in their licentious amours; or because they liked to roam about unburdened by babes; and sometimes for no other reason than because they could not make them stop crying. So they buried them alive though they might be months or even years old (Ellis, _P.R_., IV., 240).

These revelations show that it is not "hardness of life" but "hardness of heart"--sensual, selfish indulgence--that smothers the parental instinct. To say that the conduct of such parents is brutal, would be a great injustice to brutes. No species of animals, however low in the scale of life, has ever been known to habitually kill its offspring. In their treatment of females and young ones, animals are indeed, as a rule, far superior to savages and barbarians. I emphasize this point because several of my critics have accused me of a lack of knowledge and thought and logic because I attributed some of the elements of romantic love to animals and denied them to primitive human beings. But there is no inconsistency in this. We shall see later on that there are other things in which animals are superior not only to savages but to some civilized peoples as high in the scale as Hindoos.



Turning now from the parental to the conjugal sphere we shall find further interesting instances showing How Sentiments Change and Grow. The monogamous sentiment--the feeling that a man and his wife belong to each other exclusively--is now so strong that a person who commits bigamy not only perpetrates a crime for which the courts may imprison him for five years, but becomes a social outcast with whom respectable people will have nothing more to do. The Mormons endeavored to make polygamy a feature of their religion, but in 1882 Congress passed a law suppressing it and punishing offenders. Did this monogamous sentiment exist "always and everywhere?"

Livingstone relates (_M.S.A._, I., 306-312) that the King of the Beetjuans (South Africa) was surprised to hear that his visitor had only one wife:

"When we explained to him that, by the laws of our
country, people could not marry until they were of a
mature age, and then could never have more than one
wife, he said it was perfectly incomprehensible to
him how a whole nation could submit voluntarily to
such laws."

He himself had five wives and one of these queens

"remarked very judiciously that such laws as ours
would not suit the Beetjuans because there were so
great a number of women and the male population
suffered such diminutions from the wars."

Sir Samuel Baker (_A.N._, 147) says of the wife of the Chief of Latooka:

"She asked many questions, how many wives I had? and
was astonished to hear that I was contented with one.
This amused her immensely, and she laughed heartily
with her daughter at the idea."

In Equatorial Africa, "if a man marries and his wife thinks that he can afford another spouse, she pesters him to marry again, and calls him a stingy fellow if he declines to do so" (Reade, 259). Livingstone (_N.E.Z._, 284) says of the Makalolo women:

"On hearing that a man in England could marry but one
wife, several ladies exclaimed that they would not
like to live in such a country; that they could not
imagine how English ladies could relish such a custom,
for, in their way of thinking, every man of respectability
should have a number of wives, as a proof of his wealth.
Similar ideas prevail all down the Zambesi."

Some amusing instances are reported by Burton (_T.T.G.L._, I., 36, 78, 79). The lord of an African village appeared to be much ashamed because he had only two wives. His sole excuse was that he was only a boy--about twenty-two. Regarding the Mpongwe of the Gaboon, Burton says: "Polygamy is, of course, the order of the day; it is a necessity to the men, and even the women disdain to marry a 'one-wifer.'" In his book on the Kafirs of the Hindu-Kush, G.S. Robertson writes:

"It is considered a reproach to have only one wife, a
sign of poverty and insignificance. There was on one
occasion a heated discussion at Kamdesh concerning the
best plans to be adopted to prepare for an expected
attack. A man sitting on the outskirts of the assembly
controverted something the priest said. Later on the
priest turned round fiercely and demanded to be told
how a man with 'only one wife' presumed to offer an
opinion at all."

His religion allowed a Mohammedan to take four legitimate wives, while their prophet himself had a larger number. A Hindoo was permitted by the laws of Manu to marry four women if he belonged to the highest caste, but if he was of the lowest caste he was condemned to monogamy.

King Solomon was held in honor though he had unnumbered wives, concubines, and virgins at his disposal.

How far the sentiment of monogamy--one of the essential ingredients of Romantic Love--had penetrated the skulls of American Indians may be inferred from the amusing and typical details related by the historian Parkman (_O.T._, chap. xi.) of the Dakota or Sioux Indians, among whom he sojourned. The man most likely to become the next chief was a fellow named Mahto-Tatonka, whose father had left a family of thirty, which number the young man was evidently anxious to beat:

"Though he appeared not more than twenty-one years old,
he had oftener struck the enemy, and stolen more horses
and more squaws than any young man in the village. We
of the civilized world are not apt to attach much
credit to the latter species of exploits; but
horse-stealing is well-known as an avenue to
distinction on the prairies, and the other kind of
depredation is esteemed equally meritorious. Not that
the act can confer fame from its own intrinsic merits.
Any one can steal a squaw, and if he chooses afterward
to make an adequate present to her rightful proprietor,
the easy husband for the most part rests content; his
vengeance falls asleep, and all danger from that
quarter is averted. Yet this is esteemed but a pitiful
and mean-spirited transaction. The danger is averted,
but the glory of the achievement also is lost.
Mahto-Tatonka proceeded after a more gallant and
dashing fashion. Out of several dozen squaws whom he
had stolen, he could boast that he had never paid for
one, but snapping his fingers in the face of the
injured husband, had defied the extremity of his
indignation, and no one had yet dared to lay the hand
of violence upon him. He was following close in the
footsteps of his father. The young men and the young
squaws, each in their way, admired him. The one would
always follow him to war, and he was esteemed to have
an unrivalled charm in the eyes of the other."

Thus the admiration of the men, the love (Indian style) of the women, and the certainty of the chieftainship--the highest honor accessible to an Indian--were the rewards of actions which in a civilized community would soon bring such a "brave" to the gallows. Some of the agencies by which the belief that wife-stealing and polygamy are honorable was displaced by the modern sentiment in favor of monogamy, will be considered later on. Here I simply wish to enforce the additional moral that not only the _ideas_ regarding bigamy and polygamy have changed, but the _emotions_ aroused by such actions; execration having taken the place of admiration. Judging by such cases, is it likely that ideas concerning women and love could change so utterly as they have since the days of the ancient Greeks, without changing the emotions of love itself? Sentiments consist of ideas and emotions. If both are altered, the sentiments must have changed as a matter of course. Let us take as a further example the sentiment of modesty.



There are many Christian women who, if offered the choice between death and walking naked down the street, would choose death as being preferable to eternal disgrace and social suicide. If they preferred the other alternative, they would be arrested and, if known to be respectable, sent to an insane asylum. The English legend relates that "peeping Tom" was struck blind because he did not stay in the house as commanded when the good Lady Godiva was obliged to ride naked through the market-place. So strong, indeed, is the sentiment of modesty in our community that the old-fashioned philosophers used to maintain it was an innate instinct, always present under normal conditions. The fact that every child has to be gradually taught to avoid indecent exposure, ought to have enlightened these philosophers as to their error, which is further made plain to the orthodox by the Biblical story that in the beginning of human life the man and his wife were both naked and not ashamed.

Naked and not ashamed is the condition of primitive man wherever climatic and other motives do not prescribe dress. Writing of the Arabs at Wat El Negur, Samuel Baker says (_N.T.A_., 265):

"Numbers of young girls and women were accustomed to
bathe perfectly naked in the river just before our
tent. I employed them to catch small fish for bait; and
for hours they would amuse themselves in this way,
screaming with excitement and fun, and chasing the
small fry with their long clothes in lieu of nets;
their figures were generally well-shaped.... The men
were constantly bathing in the clear waters of the
Athabara, and were perfectly naked, although close to
the women; we soon became accustomed to this daily
scene, as we do at Brighton and other English bathing

In his work on German Africa (II., 123) Zoeller says that in Togoland

"the young girls did not hesitate in the least to
remove their only article of clothing, a narrow strip
of cloth, rub themselves with a native soap and then
take a dip in the lagoon, before the eyes of white
men as well as black."

A page would be required merely to enumerate the tribes in Africa, Australia, and South America which never wear any clothing.

Max Buchner gives a graphic description (1878) of the nude female surf swimmers in the Hawaiian Islands. Nor is this indifference to nudity manifested only by these primitive races. In Japan, to the present day, men and women bathe in the same room, separated merely by a partition, two or three feet high.[8] Zoeller relates of the Cholos of Ecuador (_P. and A_., 364) that "men and women bathe together in the rivers with a naivete surpassing that of the South Sea Islanders." A writer in the _Ausland_ (1870, p. 294) reports that in Paraguay he saw the women washing their only dress, and while they waited for the sun to dry it, they stood by naked calmly smoking their cigars.

[FOOTNOTE 8: See the chapter on Nudity and Bathing in my _Lotos-Time in Japan_.]


But natural indifference to nudity is the least of the curiosities of modesty. Sometimes nakedness is actually prescribed by law or by strict etiquette. In Rohl all women who are not Arabic are forbidden to wear clothing of any sort. The King of Mandingo allowed no women, not even princesses, to approach him unless they were naked (Hellwald, 77-8). Dubois (I., 265) says that in some of the southern provinces of India the women of certain castes must uncover their body from the head to the girdle when speaking to a man: "It would be thought a want of politeness and good breeding to speak to men with that part of the body clothed."

In his travels among the Cameroon negroes Zoeller (II., 185) came across a strange bit of religious etiquette in regard to nudity. The women there wear nothing but a loin cloth, except in case of a death, when, like ourselves, they appear all in black--with a startling difference, however. One day, writes Zoeller,

"I was astounded to see a number of women and
girls strolling about stark naked before the
house of a man who had died of diphtheria. This,
I was told, was their mourning dress.... The
same custom prevails in other parts of West

Modesty is as fickle as fashion and assumes almost as many different forms as dress itself. In most Australian tribes the women (as well as the men) go naked, yet in a few they not only wear clothes but go out of sight to bathe. Stranger still, the Pele islanders were so innocent of all idea of clothing that when they first saw Europeans they believed that their clothes were their skins. Nevertheless, the men and women bathed in different places. Among South American Indians nudity is the rule, whereas some North American Indians used to place guards near the swimming-places of the women, to protect them from spying eyes.

According to Gill, the Papuans of Southwestern New Guinea "glory in their nudeness and consider clothing fit only for women." There are many places where the women alone were clothed, while in others the women alone were naked. Mtesa, the King of Uganda, who died in 1884, inflicted the death penalty on any man who dared to approach him without having every inch of his legs carefully covered; but the women who acted as his servants were stark naked (Hellwald, 78).

While the etiquette of modesty is thus subject to an endless variety of details, every nation and tribe enforces its own ideal of propriety as the only correct thing. In Tahiti and Tonga it would be considered highly indecent to go about without being tattooed. Among Samoans and other Malayans the claims of propriety are satisfied if only the navel is covered. "The savage tribes of Sumatra and Celebes have a like feeling about the knee, which is always carefully covered" (Westermarck, 207). In China it is considered extremely indecent if a woman allows her bare feet to be seen, even by her husband, and a similar idea prevails among some Turkish women, who carefully wrap up their feet before they go to bed (Ploss, I., 344). Hindoo women must not show their faces, but it is not improper to wear a dress so gauzy that the whole figure is revealed through it. "In Moruland," says Emin Bey,

"the women mostly go about absolutely naked, a few
only attaching a leaf behind to their waistband. It
is curious to note, on meeting a bevy of these
uncovered beauties carrying water, that the first
thing they do with their free hand is to cover the

These customs prevail in all Moslem countries. Mariti relates in his _Viaggi_ (II., 288):

"Travelling in summer across the fields of Syria I
repeatedly came across groups of women, entirely naked,
washing themselves near a well. They did not move from
the place, but simply covered the face with one hand,
their whole modesty consisting in the desire not to be

Sentimental topsy-turviness reaches its climax in those cases where women who usually go naked are ashamed to be seen clothed. Such cases are cited by several writers,[9] and appear to be quite common. The most amusing instance I have come across is in a little-known volume on Venezuela by Lavayasse, who writes:

"It is known that those [Indians] of the warm climates
of South America, among whom civilization has not made
any progress, have no other dress than a small apron,
or kind of bandage, to hide their nakedness. A lady of
my acquaintance had contracted a kindness for a young
Paria Indian woman, who was extremely handsome. We had
given her the name of Grace. She was sixteen years old,
and had lately been married to a young Indian of
twenty-five, who was our sportsman. This lady took a
pleasure in teaching her to sew and embroider. We said
to her one day, 'Grace, you are extremely pretty, speak
French well, and are always with us: you ought not
therefore to live like the other native women, and we
shall give you some clothes. Does not your husband wear
trousers and a shirt?' Upon this she consented to be
dressed. The lady lost no time in arranging her dress,
a ceremony at which I had the honor of assisting. We
put on a shift, petticoats, stockings, shoes, and a
Madras handkerchief on her head. She looked quite
enchanting, and saw herself in the looking-glass with
great complacency. Suddenly her husband returned from
shooting, with three or four Indians, when the whole
party burst into a loud fit of laughter at her, and
began to joke about her new habiliments. Grace was
quite abashed, blushed, wept, and ran to hide herself
in the bed-chamber of the lady, where she stript
herself of the clothes, went out of the window, and
returned naked into the room. A proof that when her
husband saw her dressed for the first time, she felt a
sensation somewhat similar to that which a European
woman might experience who was surprised without her
usual drapery."

[FOOTNOTE 9: Bancroft, II., 75; Wallace, 357; Westermarck, 195; Humboldt, III.,

Another paradox remains to be noted. Anthropologists have now proved beyond all possibility of doubt that modesty, far from having led to the use of clothing, was itself merely a secondary consequence of the gradual adoption of apparel as a protection. They have also shown[10] that the earliest forms of dress were extremely scanty, and were intended not to cover certain parts of the body, but actually and wantonly to call attention to them, while in other cases the only parts of the body habitually covered were such as we should consider it no special impropriety to leave uncovered. But enough has been said to demonstrate what we started out to prove: that the strong sentiment of modesty in our community--so strong that many insist it must be part and parcel of human nature (like love!)--has, like all the other sentiments here discussed, grown up slowly from microscopic beginnings.

[FOOTNOTE 10: See especially the ninth chapter of Westermarck's _History of Human Marriage_, 186-201.]



Closely connected with modesty, and yet entirely distinct from it, is another and still stronger sentiment--the regard for chastity. Many an American officer whose brave wife accompanied him in a frontier war has been asked by her to promise that he would shoot her with his own revolver rather than let her fall into the clutches of licentious Indians. Though deliberate murder is punishable by death, no American jury has ever convicted a man for slaying the seducer of his wife, daughter, or sister. Modern law punishes rape with death, and its victim is held to have suffered a fate worse than death. The brightest of all jewels in a bride's crown of virtues is chastity--a jewel without which all the others lose their value. Yet this jewel of jewels formerly had no more value than a pebble in a brook-bed. The sentiment in behalf of chastity had no existence for ages, and for a long time after it came into existence chastity was known not as a virtue but only as a necessity, inculcated by fear of punishment or loss of worldly advantages.

In support of this statement a whole volume might be written; but as abundant evidence will be given in later chapters relating to the lower races in Africa, Australia, Polynesia, America, and Asia, only a few instances need be cited here. In his recent work on the _Origin and Growth of the Moral Sense_ (1898), Alexander Sutherland, an Australian author, writes (I., 180):

"In the House of Commons papers for 1844 will be found
some 350 printed pages of reports, memoranda, and
letters, gathered by the standing committee appointed
in regard to the treatment of aboriginals in the
Australian colonies. All these have the same unlovely
tale to tell of an absolute incapacity to form even a
rudimentary notion of chastity. One worthy missionary,
who had been for some years settled among tribes of New
South Wales, _as yet brought in contact with no other
white men_, writes with horror of what he had observed.
The conduct of the females, even young children, is
most painful; they are cradled in prostitution and
fostered in licentiousness. Brough Smith (II., 240)
quotes several authorities who record that in Western
Australia the women in early youth were almost
prostitutes. 'For about six months after their
initiation into manhood the youths were allowed an
unbounded licence, and there was no possible blame
attached to the young unmarried girl who entertained

In Lewis and Clark's account of their expedition across the American Continent they came to the conclusion that there was an utter absence of regard for chastity "among all Indians," and they relate the following as a sample:

"Among all the tribes, a man will lend his wife or
daughter for a fish-hook or a strand of beads. To
decline an offer of this sort is indeed to disparage
the charms of the lady, and therefore gives such
offence, that, although we had occasionally to treat
the Indians with rigor, nothing seemed to irritate both
sexes more than our refusal to accept the favors of the
females. On one occasion we were amused by a Clatsop,
who, having been cured of some disorder by our medical
skill, brought his sister as a reward for our kindness.
The young lady was quite anxious to join in this
expression of her brother's gratitude, and mortified we
did not avail ourselves of it."

De Varigny, who lived forty years in the Hawaiian Islands, says that

"the chief difficulty of the missionaries in the
Sandwich Islands was teaching the women chastity; they
knew neither the word nor the thing. Adultery, incest,
fornication, were the common order of things, accepted
by public opinion, and even consecrated by religion."

The same is true of other Polynesians, the Tahitians, for instance, of whom Captain Cook wrote that they are

"people who have not even the idea of decency, and
who gratify every appetite and passion before witnesses,
with no more sense of impropriety than we feel when
we satisfy our hunger at a social board with our friends."

Among the highest of all these island peoples, the Tongans, the only restriction to incontinence was that the lover must not be changed too often.

What Dalton says of the Chilikata Mishmis, one of the wild tribes of India, applies to many of the lower races in all parts of the world:

"Marriage ceremony there is, I believe, none; it is
simply an affair of purchase, and the women thus
obtained, if they can be called wives, are not much
bound by the tie. The husbands do not expect them to be
chaste; they take no cognizance of their temporary
liaisons so long as they are not deprived of their
services. If a man is dispossessed of one of his wives,
he has a private injury to avenge, and takes the
earliest opportunity of retaliating, but he cannot see
that a woman is a bit the worse for a little

In many cases not only was there complete indifference to chastity, but virginity in a bride was actually looked on with disfavor. The Finnish Votyaks considered it honorable in a girl to be a mother before she was a wife. The Central American Chibchas were like the Philippine Bisayos, of whom a sixteenth century writer, quoted by Jagor, said that a man is unhappy to find his bride above suspicion, "because, not having been desired by anyone, she must have some bad quality which will prevent him from being happy with her."

The wide prevalence in all parts of the world of the custom of lending or exchanging wives, or offering wife or daughter to a guest,[11] also bears witness to the utter indifference to chastity, conjugal and maiden; as does the custom known as the _jus primae noctis._ Dr. Karl Schmidt has tried very hard to prove that such a "right" to the bride never existed. But no one can read his treatises without noting that his argument rests on a mere quibble, the word _jus_. There may have been no codified _law_ or "right" allowing kings, bishops, chiefs, landlords, medicine men, and priests to claim brides first, but that the _privilege_ existed in various countries and was extensively made use of, there can be no doubt. Westermarck (73-80), Letourneau (56-62), Ploss (I., 400-405), and others have collected abundant proofs. Here I have room for only a few instances, showing that those whom we would consider the _victims_ of such a horrible custom, not only submitted to it with resignation, but actually looked on it as an _honor_ and a highly coveted privilege.

"The aboriginal inhabitants of Teneriffe are
represented as having married no woman who had not
previously spent a night with the chief, which was
considered a great honor."

"Navarette tells us that, on the coast of Malabar, the
bridegroom brought the bride to the King, who kept her
eight days in the palace; and the man took it 'as a
great honor and favor that the King should make use of

"Egede informs us that the women of Greenland thought
themselves fortunate if an Angekokk, or prophet,
honored them with his caresses; and some husbands even
paid him, because they believed that the child of such
a holy man could not but be happier and better than
others." (Westermarck, 77, 80.)

"In Cumana the priests, who were regarded as holy,
slept only with unmarried women, 'porque tenian por
honorosa costumbre que ellos las quitassen la
virginidad.'" (Bastian, _K.A.A._, II., 228.)

[FOOTNOTE 11: Westermarck devotes half a page in fine type to an enumeration of the peoples among whom many such customs prevailed, and his list is far from being complete.]

From this lowest depth of depravity it would be interesting, if space and the architectural plan of this volume permitted, to trace the growth of the sentiment which demands chastity; noting, in the first place, how married women were compelled, by the jealous fury of their masters, to practise continence; how, very much later, virginity began to be valued, not, indeed, at first, as a virtue having a value and charm of its own, but as a means of enhancing the market value of brides. Indifference to masculine chastity continued much longer still. The ancient civilized nations had advanced far enough to value purity in wives and maidens, but it hardly occurred to them that it was man's duty to cultivate the same virtue. Even so austere and eminent a moral philosopher as Cicero declared that one would have to be very severe indeed to ask young men to refrain from illicit relations. The mediaeval church fathers endeavored for centuries to enforce the doctrine that men should be as pure as women, with what success, every one knows. A more powerful agency in effecting a reform was the loathsome disease which in the fifteenth century began to sweep away millions of licentious men, and led to the survival of the fittest from the moral point of view. The masculine standard is still low, but immense progress has been made during the last hundred years. The number of prostitutes in Europe is still estimated at seven hundred thousand, yet that makes only seven to every thousand females, and though there are many other unchaste women, it is safe to say that in England and America, at any rate, more than nine hundred out of every thousand females are chaste, whereas among savages, as a rule, nearly all females are prostitutes (in the moral sense of the word), before they marry. In view of this astounding progress there is no reason to despair regarding man's future. It would be a great triumph of civilization if the average man could be made as pure as the average woman. At the same time, since the consequences of sin are infinitely more serious in women, it is eminently proper that they should be in the van of moral progress.

Chastity, modesty, polygamy, murder, religion, and nature have now furnished us an abundance of illustrations showing the changeableness and former non-existence of sentiments which in us are so strong that we are inclined to fancy they must have been the same always and everywhere. Before proceeding to prove that romantic love is another sentiment of which the same may be said, let us pause a moment to discuss a sentiment which presents one of the most difficult problems in the psychology of love, the Horror of Incest.



A young man does not fall in love with his sister though she be the most attractive girl he knows. Nor does her father fall in love with her, nor the mother with the son, or the son with the mother. Not only is there no sexual love between them, but the very idea of marriage fills their mind with unutterable horror, and in the occasional cases where such a marriage is made through ignorance of the relationship, both parties usually commit suicide, though they are guiltless of deliberate crime. Here we have the most striking and absolute proof that circumstances, habits, ideas, laws, customs, can and do utterly annihilate sexual love in millions of individuals. Why then should it be so unlikely that the laws and customs of the ancient Greeks, for instance, with their ideas about women and marriage, should have prevented the growth of sentimental love? Note the modesty of my claim. While it is certain that both the sensual and the sentimental sides of sexual love are stifled by the horror of incest, all that I claim in regard to ancient and primitive races is that the sentimental side of love was smothered by unfavorable circumstances and hindered in growth by various obstacles which will be described later on in this volume. Surely this is not such a reckless theory as it seemed to some of my critics.

Like the other sentiments discussed in this chapter, the horror of incest has been found to be absent among races in various stages of development. Incestuous unions occurred among Chippewas and other American Indians. Of the Peruvian Indians, Garcilasso de la Vega says that some cohabited with their sisters, daughters, or mothers; similar facts are recorded of some Brazilians, Polynesians, Africans, and wild tribes of India. "Among the Annamese, according to a missionary who has lived among them for forty years, no girl who is twelve years old and has a brother is a virgin" (Westermarck, 292). Gypsies allow a brother to marry a sister, while among the Veddahs of Ceylon the marriage of a man with his younger sister is considered _the_ proper marriage. In the Indian Archipelago and elsewhere there are tribes who permit marriage between parents and their children. The legends of India and Hindoo theology abound in allusions to incestuous unions, and a nation's mythology reflects its own customs. According to Strabo the ancient Irish married their mothers and sisters. Among the love-stories of the ancient Greeks, as we shall see later on, there are a surprising number the subject of which is incest, indicating that that crime was of not infrequent occurrence. But it is especially by royal personages that incest has been practised. In ancient Persia, Parthia, Egypt, and other countries the kings married their own sisters, as did the Incas of Peru, for political reasons, other women being regarded as too low in rank to become queens; and the same phenomenon occurs in Hawaii, Siam, Burma, Ceylon, Madagascar, etc. In some cases incestuous unions for kings and priests are even prescribed by religion. At the licentious festivals common among tribes in America, Africa, India, and elsewhere, incest was one of the many forms of bestiality indulged in; this gives it a wide prevalence.

Much ingenuity has been expended in attempts to account for the origin of the horror of incest. The main reason why it has so far remained more or less of a mystery, is that each writer advanced a single cause, which he pressed into service to explain all the facts, the result being confusion and contradiction. In my opinion different agencies must be assumed in different cases. When we find among Australians, American Indians (and even the Chinese), customs, enforced by the strongest feelings, forbidding a man to marry a woman belonging to the same clan or having the same surname, though not at all related, while allowing a marriage with a sister or other near blood relative, we are obviously not dealing with a question of incest at all, but with some of the foolish taboos prevalent among these races, the origin of which they themselves have forgotten. Mr. Andrew Lang probably hit the nail on the head when he said (258) in regard to the rule which compels savages to marry only outside of the tribe, that these prohibitions "must have arisen in a stage of culture when ideas of kindred were confused, included kinship with animals and plants, and were to us almost, if not quite, unintelligible." To speak of instinct and natural selection teaching the Veddahs to abhor marriage with an elder sister while making union with a younger sister _the_ proper marriage (Westermarck, 292) is surely to assume that instinct and natural selection act in an asinine way, which they never do--except in asses.

In a second class of cases, where lower races have ideas similar to ours, I believe that the origin of domestic chastity must be sought in utilitarian practices. In the earlier stages of marriage, girls are usually bought of their parents, who profit by the sale or barter. Now when a man marries a girl to be his wife and maid of all work, he does not want to take her to his home hampered by a bevy of young children. Fathers guilty of incestuous practices would therefore be unable to dispose of their daughters to advantage, and thus a prejudice in favor of domestic purity would gradually arise which a shrewd medicine man would some day raise to the rank of a religious or social taboo.

As regards modern society, Darwin, Brinton, Hellwald, Bentham, and others have advocated or endorsed the view that the reason why such a horror of incestuous unions prevails, is that novelty is the chief stimulus to the sexual feelings, and that the familiarity of the same household breeds indifference. I do not understand how any thinker can have held such a view for one moment. When Bentham wrote (_Theory of Legislation_, pt. iii., chap. V.) that "individuals accustomed to see each other from an age which is capable neither of conceiving desire nor of inspiring it, will see each other with the same eyes to the end of life," he showed infinitely less knowledge of human nature than the author of _Paul and Virginia_, who makes a boy and a girl grow up almost like brother and sister, and at the proper time fall violently in love with one another. Who cannot recall in his own experience love marriages of schoolmates or of cousins living in intimate association from their childhood? To say that such bringing up together creates "indifference" is obviously incorrect; to say that it leads to "aversion" is altogether unwarranted; and to trace to it such a feeling as our horror at the thought of marrying a sister, or mother, is simply preposterous.

The real source of the horror of incest in civilized communities was indicated more than two thousand years ago by Plato. He believed that the reason why incestuous unions were avoided and abhorred, was to be found in the constant inculcation, at home and in literature, that

"They are unholy, hated of God, and most infamous....
Everyone from his earliest childhood has heard men
speaking in the same manner about them always and
everywhere, whether in comedy or in the graver language
of tragedy. When the poet introduces on the stage a
Thyestes or an Oedipus, or a Macareus having secret
intercourse with his sister, he represents him, when
found out, ready to kill himself as the penalty of his
sin." (_Laws,_ VIII., 838.)

Long before Plato another great "medicine man," Moses, saw the necessity of enforcing a "taboo" against incest by the enactment of special severe laws relating to intercourse between relatives; and that there was no "instinct" against incest in his time is shown by the fact that he deemed it necessary to make such circumstantial laws for his own people, and by his specific testimony that "in all these things the nations are defiled which I cast out from before you, and the land is defiled." Regarding his motives in making such laws, Milman has justly remarked (_H.J_., I., 220),

"The leading principle of these enactments was to
prohibit near marriage between those parties among
whom, by the usage of their society, early and frequent
intimacy was unavoidable and might lead to abuse."

If Moses lived now, he would still be called upon to enact his laws; for to this day the horror of incest is a sentiment which it is necessary to keep up and enforce by education, moral precept, religion, and law. It is no more innate or instinctive than the sentiment of modesty, the regard for chastity, or the disapproval of bigamy. Children are not born with it any more than with the feeling that it is improper to be seen naked. Medical writers bear witness to the wide prevalence of unnatural practices among children, even in good families, while in the slums of the large cities, where the families are herded like swine, there is a horrible indulgence in every kind of incest by adults as well as children.

Absolute proof that the horror of incest is not innate lies furthermore in the unquestionable fact that a man can escape the calamity of falling in love with his sister or daughter only if he _knows_ the relationship. There are many instances on record--to which the daily press adds others--of incestuous unions brought about by ignorance of the consanguinity. Oedipus was not saved by an instinct from marrying his mother. It was only after the discovery of the relationship that his mind was filled with unutterable horror, while his wife and mother committed suicide. This case, though legendary, is typical--a mirror of actuality--showing how potent _ideas_ are to alter _emotions_. Yet I am assailed for asserting that the Greeks and the lower races, whose ideas regarding women, love, polygamy, chastity, and marriage were so different from ours, also differed from us in their feelings--the quality of their love. There were numerous obstacles to overcome before romantic love was able to emerge--obstacles so serious and diverse that it is a wonder they were ever conquered. But before considering those obstacles it will be advisable to explain definitely just what romantic love is and how it differs from the sensual "love" or lust which, of course, has always existed among men as among other animals.

[The end]
Henry Theophilus Finck's Book: How Sentiments Change And Grow