Typos p. 145: delieved [= believed]; p. 161: bemeaning [= demeaning]
The Marriage of the Positive Girl and the Positive Man
Although, therefore, the mere carnal union of two young positive people is the normal and natural consummation of their desire, it is bound to be interfered with by the State, or by the community, in order that the burdens and responsibilities resulting from Life's multiplication may be delimited, defined, fairly apportioned and allotted as far as possible to those who ought properly to bear them. And since a man cannot procreate a hundred children a year without in the vast majority of cases imposing grave burdens and responsibilities upon his fellows, the State or the community officially refuses to recognize, or to offer legal status, to any offspring that are the outcome of multiplication that takes place outside the monogamic union. Thus although marriage and its forms and limitations particularly the monogamic limitation may frequently have a religious ceremonial, it is society, or the community, that ultimately favours it, because society as a whole cannot undertake to pay for the promiscuous indulgence of every man's lust.
Thus marriage is not a natural state, nor is it even the logical outcome of the "love" of a positive couple; it is an artificially imposed condition devised for the purpose of safeguarding the community. And, being unnatural and gratuitously imposed upon the simple relationship that Nature requires, it complicates that relationship, and necessarily possesses all the disadvantages that any unnatural 1 solution of a natural problem must involve.
It might be thought that if it is so very unnatural the positive couple would instinctively rebel against it? Not so! How many of them are aware even that it is not a natural law? Custom deceives the young positive couple in the same way as it deceives us all. We are accustomed to innumerable constraints which to a man unfamiliar with them would be intolerably irksome. When, therefore, the young positive couple stand at the altar and hear the priest say to the man: "Wilt thou love her, comfort her, and keep her in sickness and in health, and forsaking all other, keep thee only unto her, so long as ye both shall live?" and the young positive man answer? innocently "I will," neither of them suspects the cloven hoof of social fear or social constraint behind the words. They imagine not only that the question is a perfectly normal one, implying a normal condition, but they also imagine that this implied con-
1 When I use the word "unnatural" here, I should like it to be understood as meaning "unnatural to human beings," for, as we know, "nearly all rapacious animals, even the stupid vultures, are monogamous," certain monkeys are so too; but no anthropologist would argue that monogamic marriage was natural to man.
The desire that makes the two young positive people wish to unite is called "love." It is mutual attraction culminating in a condition of mutual irresistibility. It is the power which, in the course of evolution, each has acquired to draw the other into that condition which best serves the purpose of Life and its multiplication.
1 The proportion of those who do not wait, to those who do, may be judged to some extent from the following figures:
(Legitimate and illegitimate births in England and Wales during the nine years 191119.)
Having once been perpetrated by the social organism, this lie is repeated in all the moral prejudices and saws, all the fairy-tales, the popular novels, the poetry and the songs, of a whole nation of a whole continent and soon acquires the sanctity of truth; and he who dares to nail it to the counter as a piece of counterfeit psychology or physiology, is dubbed a cynic, an anarchist, and a misogynist.
We call the emotion "love" which convinces two young people that they had better, on grounds of expediency, accept the State regulations concerning their prospective union, but we have no business to imply by actual words or by suggestion that the desirable permanence of that union, from society's point of view, will find one of its principal causes in the persistence of the emotion that led to its being consummated. Unfortunately, the advantage to society and to the family of a permanent legal contract, has led to so complete a distortion of the truth, that the majority of young people are led to believe, quite blindly, that it is the enduring
It is readily admitted that in every generation of human beings there is a percentage, an ever-dwindling percentage in degenerate days, of men and women who are capable of deep and lasting emotions. These rare creatures of profound and enduring passion, to whom change of any sort is distasteful, and who cling faithfully and stubbornly to their hobbies, their pursuits, their ancestral faiths, and their particular taste in literature, music, the graphic arts and food, may and do sometimes evince a steadiness and a stability in their love which makes their monogamic unions exceptionally harmonious and affectionate to the last. But for the average modern couple to claim that they belong to this very small percentage of human beings, is the most contemptible impudence. Even positive couples cannot all be said to belong to this class, and as for the negative couples, whose unions are chiefly an (idle pursuit of sensation or else a gratification of vanity, they are as different from these slow-moving, deeply passionate people as if they belonged to a race utterly strange to them. It is therefore essential that, for the vast majority of people, a more sensible, less dramatic, and more realistic colour should be lent to their unions, so that they may enter them with a clearer understanding of the enormous difficulties with which permanent marriage is beset, and with other considerations to support and fortify them, than a trust in a possibility so utterly fantastic as the endurance of their emotions.
When once they are married, it is perfectly true that expediency, economic considerations, and the presence of children frequently convince them that it is better that their union should be permanent; but to call by the name of "love" the reasons which cause them to arrive at this conclusion, is a colossal hoax, the prodigiousness
But, it may be objected, even if we admit that the legal union, marriage, is as a rule incompatible with lasting "love," where is the harm, provided that the two objects of the contract, the obtaining of a union between two positive people and the propagation of children on regular and well-ordered lines, be secured? Is it not after all the best solution of the sex problem?
The question whether it is the best solution of the sex problem we must leave undecided for a moment. But to the first part of the question we may now answer definitely that there is harm in any contract based upon a lie, when that lie is one which, connected as it is with the psychological and physiological conditions of a certain common human relationship, is bound to be discovered as a lie by the. parties to that relationship;
To allow, however tacitly or implicitly, that society's unnatural solution of the sex problem is even favourable to the endurance of the emotion which first led the couple to desire union, is harmful in the first place:
(1) Because it makes the idea and pursuit of marriage too hedonistic. Young people know that the state of mutual desire in which they find themselves before the union, is one of exquisite pleasure. As we have pointed out in Chapter V, it is probably the richest experience, as spirito-physiological sensations go, that anyone can have. They also know that the happy and masterly consummation of this desire is a source of enormous spiritual and physical well being and delight. The parties to be united, therefore, can easily be persuaded, both immediately before consummation and for a brief period afterwards, that this exquisite pleasure and delight will be secured them permanently by a permanent contract, and marriage is pursued as a source of happiness. People are even in the habit of asking of a married couple, not "Are they successful?" not, "Are they breasting their difficulties satisfactorily?"; but always, "Are they
It is necessary for the positive young girl to find her physical adaptation. Only the negative girl can be content without it. It is also necessary for the positive young man to find his. But surely it is not necessary to lead either of them to suppose that in doing this by means of legal marriage they will find anything more in the long run than the most moderate well-being, disturbed by the most tremendous responsibilities and difficulties.
The way in which girls and young men are led to look forward to the married state as if it were a kind of fairy transformation, summed up in the formula "and they were happy ever afterwards," vitiates the whole value of the contract; for while it lays all emphasis on the contentment that naturally comes with proper physical adaptation, it passes over the enormous difficulties which any such permanent contract between sensitive and intelligent beings must entail.
(2) It is harmful, secondly, because by leading both young people to expect too much from marriage, it expedites the period of disillusionment, which is bound ultimately to supervene in the great majority of such unions. If the State solution of the sex problem, known as monogamic marriage, be really a good institution, then surely everything should be done to make it tolerable for as long as possible to those who are parties to it. Since disillusionment must come, it is obviously the duty of teachers and elders to endeavour to postpone it as long as possible. And the way to do this is certainly not by emphasizing the "happiness" of marriage to the exclusion of all thought about its enormous and almost insuperable difficulties. A salutary-reform in this respect would consist in leading young people to accept the State's solution of the sex problem in a more sober mood, with a more grave concern about the future, with a greater insight into the utility of marriage, and with less
It might be objected that, in this case, young people would not marry. The reply to this objection is that they would if their desire for normal adult adaptation were strong enough, but that they would be likely to fulfil the contract all the more satisfactorily by realizing from the start its utility, its limitations, its very doubtful promise, and its artificial nature.
(3) It is harmful, thirdly, because, by confusing marriage with the pursuit of happiness, grave considerations are likely to be overlooked. Let me give a concrete instance:
It may be in the best interests of a farmer's son, who intends to adopt his parent's calling, to marry a rural maiden, accustomed to the problems of a farm, and familiar with all the valuable traditions of the countryside. In fact, from the standpoint of the State also, it may be best for him to select his bride from among the female population of his village or locality; for by so doing, in addition to acquiring a useful mate, his children will inherit rural virtues from both sides, and are more likely to become good and efficient farmers in their turn. But if, by a false association of happiness with marriage, he fancies that he will have what is known as a "better time" with an urban typist of smart appearance, with small bird's-claw hands and expensive tastes, he is likely to overlook the gravity of the purpose of marriage in order to gratify his hedonistic lust. This accounts also for the destruction of many of our aristocratic houses by mésalliances with chorus-girls and American and Jewish heiresses. If the utterly hedonistic bias were only removed from marriage, such stupid and wanton outrages
Of course the mésalliance as a social evil has a Puritanical root as well, which ought perhaps to be mentioned here. The Puritans were not so utterly and incurably stupid as to deny the existence of bodily pleasure. They knew perfectly well that the joys of sex were very real joys. By insisting, however, upon these joys being sought only in fast wedlock, they threw a burden upon marriage which it was hardly designed to bear. They converted it by one stroke into a source of joy that is to say, into the unique source for a certain kind of joy, into a symbol of pleasure and happiness of a certain kind. By so doing, however, a false association grew up in the minds of men regarding marriage, which has resulted in the scions of some of our best houses seeking happiness and pleasure in matrimony by marrying women whose blood necessarily diluted or destroyed their stock qualities. Had the stupid Puritan prejudice not existed, they might have found pleasure with these inferior females without marrying them, and thereby saved their family line with some one who, though perhaps less garish and less vulgarly amusing, was at least capable of giving them children true to their traditional stock quality.
The advantages of the legal monogamic match are chiefly social. They have very little to do with happiness, and most of them redound to the benefit of law and order. They are:
(a) The creation of a compact unit known and recog-
(b) The creation of a unit with which it is easy for the law to deal, because in it human duties are simplified down to the three relations, spouse, parent, child, each of which has its status in the law, all converging towards the head of the unit, who can be made answerable to the law for his unit.
(c) The creation of a definite and stable environment for the early and tenderest years of the nation's youngest inhabitants, where, in the majority of cases at least, they may be assured the care and the supervision and the schooling of those who are by nature best equipped for discharging the duties of protectors and tutors with love and tenderness, with natural pride in their work, and above all without demanding payment for their services.
(d) The creation of a natural centre of interest for the female and the male, but particularly for the former, after the first bloom of youth and attractiveness has fled, so that each may claim, as by right, a place in a home, in which their presence is earnestly desired, at least by the majority the children.
(e) The creation of a microcosm a part and counterpart of the nation as a whole, reduced to its smallest compass, in which the traditional character of a people becomes imparted to its children, in which the virtues and aspirations of a nation are inculcated by precept and example upon its youngest members, and in which these form the first strong attachments which, increasing with age, ultimately identify them, and act as the first moral check upon their conduct,
(g) The creation of relationships that of spouse to spouse, parent to child, child to child, and child to parent, in which the growth of many virtues useful to society are fostered and cultivated: a sense of responsibility, self respect, fidelity, early associations of devotion and gratitude, the sense of traditional continuity which gives rise to the feeling of dignity, honour, obligation, and individual rights, claims and duties.
(h) The creation of a community on the smallest scale, in which the children may, by constant association with their parents, acquire their stock of general and specialized knowledge, learn the business by which they may ultimately earn their living, and cultivate efficiency in it quietly and gradually from infancy upwards. (This is an advantage which, except in rare cases, has hardly survived in family life in England.)
Now, attractive as these advantages may appear to the legislator, or legislators of a people, and cogent as they may make the argument for monogamic marriage, it will be seen, that they contain little that will necessarily secure the conjugal "happiness" of the two young people whose actions and movements they are designed to limit and to constrain. They consist chiefly of duties which, while not necessarily unpleasant, give rise to no small amount of anxiety and misgiving, and certainly lend a graver accent to matrimony than is usually imparted to it by that promise of light-hearted enjoyment upon which most stress is laid by the traditional literature, poetry and public sentiment of all Anglo-Saxon people. On the other hand, it would be idle to deny that if the aspects of monogamous marriage that they represent were more frequently emphasized and brought to the attention of both young and old, the number of "happy"
The general tendency in Puritanical and Anglo-Saxon countries, at least, is to keep as far as possible in the background the subject of offspring and the fruits of marriage when discussing it or arranging for it in the presence of any two young people who have stated their desire to be joined together. It is not considered decent to refer to this, its most important side. As we have seen, the advantages of the legal monogamic marriage chiefly concern the children that may result from the match. Scarcely any other advantage exists. It is folly, there-
1 See Ch. Letourneau, The Evolution of Marriage (London, 1891): "Christianity, which taught that the earthly country was of no account, and taxed with impurity all that related to sexual union, made marriage a sacrament, and consequently an institution quite apart from humble considerations of social utility. . . . We shall see how hurtful the influence of Christianity has been on marriage, and we shall come to the conclusion that in order to manage earthly affairs well, it is not good to keep our looks constantly raised to the skies" (pp. 2056). See also p. 245: "Abandoning the modest reality, it [Christianity] lost anchor from the first and was drowned in a sea of dreams. Marriage, instead of being simply the union of a man and woman in order to produce children, became mystic."
2 As we shall point out later, these romantic obsessions in regard to matrimony are chiefly Woman's work.
Now this is the most pernicious nonsense that could ever have been devised for destroying the value of the legal monogamic marriage. For if proper stress were laid upon the consequences of the union, the children, it would not only check the hedonistic attitude towards marriage as an institution, but would also make young people more serious in the matter of choosing their mates and more critical of themselves in regard to their readiness for marriage.
"Am I one who can grant myself the privilege of contributing fresh people to the world? Am I sufficiently desirable? Is it at all desirable that I should reproduce myself in a second, third or fourth edition?"
But how can these questions be asked in an atmosphere where the offspring of a marriage is the last consideration to be thought of? How can they be expected to be asked in an atmosphere where "Luvv" is supposed to justify any match, however horrible?
In regard to the mate, too who nowadays selects her with that serious criticism which gazes through the optics of the next generation and envisages their best interests? How can the average man assume this attitude, when all the stress in matrimony is laid upon the love match, upon the union of two souls? As far as possible, everyone tries to forget the other matter in Contemplating a girl and her betrothed. People shrug their shoulders and say, "If children come, they come and there's an end of it." They prefer to regard the couple from that
The whole attitude of Christianity towards the joining of male and female together, however, is so unrealistic on the one hand, and so base on the other, that it is not astonishing that after 2,000 years of Christian teaching we have wellnigh reached matrimonial chaos in Europe, and all countries like Europe.
Marriage should be regarded as the sacred garden of the next generation. All the exalted emotions that possess an artist at his work, all the solemn misgivings that beset a responsible man when he feels he is determining the future of Man, ought to surge in the breast of him who contemplates matrimony. To feel that emotion which the modern world calls "love" may excuse a man for forming an illicit union, but, alone, it does not justify him in concluding so grave a contract as marriage.
The disadvantages of the monogamic marriage are chiefly confined to its effects upon the individual, and are of a nature that the State can, as a rule, afford to ignore and to waive. I shall only point to one disadvantage that deeply concerns the State (see objection H), and that is so serious that it should be examined and removed instantly.
The disadvantages are the following:
(A) Monogamic marriage presupposes a possibility which is the very reverse of natural and human, one in fact which, through the optics of life, does not even amount to a probability and that is that two people of different sexes can be united for life without needing or craving for that same variety and respite which in all
Every child suspects, every adult knows, how difficult friendship is, how hard it becomes to keep up that enthusiasm and eager interest in the relationship of friends, which alone makes companionship a refreshment and a pleasure. And everyone feels that there is a natural prudence in sound friendship which, founded on good taste, points distinctly to a moderate frequentation of a friend at all times when that enthusiasm and eager interest show signs of declining too seriously. So that it might truthfully be said in a paradox, that friendship can be maintained only by judicious separations, and that the duration of these separations is determined by the barometric level, so to speak, of the friendship felt at certain periods.
No one who has attained to adult years can fail to have realized the value of change to the body. Variations in diet, occupation and environment act as a stimulus not only to the senses but also to the tissues; they brace and invigorate the system. Life, like beauty, has even been defined as "repetition with a certain modicum of variation." 1
Moreover, every human being, child, adult, savage or sage knows the fatal consequences of complete and exhaustive exploration: how it cloys, how it surfeits, how it nauseates! The very constitution of man as a sentient being necessitates such consequences. The repetition of a stimulus reduces the force of its appeal owing to the very tendency to habituation to which all of us as adaptable creatures are prone. We react eagerly and quickly at first; the thousandth time we hardly lift an eyelid.
Now, in the face of all these facts of common and
1 See the interesting treatise entitled The Grammar of Life by my friend Dr. G. T. Wrench (Heinemann, 1908), p. 218.
Unlike the mere association of friends, in which two people may work together, share the same interests, enjoy the same games, or suffer the same hardships, pleasures and difficulties, the married couple are united chiefly by a physical bond which has its basis in an act of passion, an act of desire, an act of power.
But passion is largely a matter of surplus strength, violent stimulation and the lust of possession, all of which are steadily worn down by (a) a steady drain on surplus strength, (b) the supervention of gradual callousness through the repetition of similar stimuli, and (c) the consciousness of holding definitely, or rather indefinitely, the object originally coveted.
Desire also, by being gratified, is stilled. The best cure, in fact, for desire is precisely gratification. But a cure is hardly what is anticipated by the usual love-match. 1
With regard to the act of power, which, despite civilization, still accounts for more than half the savour of the sexual relationship, that is surely seriously impaired
1 That is why the world's greatest love stories those of Dante and Beatrice, Romeo and Juliet, and Heathcliff and the elder Catherine (in Wuthering Heights) are all stories of a love that was never consummated. In poetry and fiction, as in life, it is felt that for a great love romance to remain at its lofty level of passion and desire, the couple enacting it must never have an opportunity of living together as man and wife.
Thus the indefinite continuance of the emotion which first led a couple to unite, and the protraction sine die of the delights of the early consummation of their desire, are bound, as it were, with mathematical certainty to become impossible. But this makes the relationship exceedingly difficult, and one which, far from constituting a promise of happiness, is very much more likely to develop into an absolute guarantee of incessant and most tiresome differences.
To reply to these objections that there is a "love" that transcends all these difficulties, may sound pleasant and charming and good natured, but it is hardly candid. For as I have pointed out above, the possibility of the existence of this rare kind of love does not justify us in making marriage a lie for the bulk of mankind.
(B) Furthermore, monogamic marriage makes no allowance for the fact that human courtship and the subsequent union of the sexes to which it leads, partakes essentially of the nature of an adventure. In fact, to a large number of people in these dull and ordered days it is the only adventure of their lives. In many of its aspects it is reminiscent of the qualities of the chase, and it would be unscientific not to allow for this smack of venery in the preliminaries which precede venery. That mutual attraction which ultimately leads to mutual capitulation is full of the excitement, the doubt, the anxiety and the final triumph of the huntsman. When the quarry is a positive virgin and her pursuer a positive man, even the fascination of fear is added fear of the intensity of the passion awakened to complete the similitude of the experience to the circumstances of the chase.
Beside this, however, the steady hum-drum routine of married life can at best only be a flat parody particularly married life in modern civilization, witnessed, as it is, by innumerable stuffy relatives, marred by imperfect
Nor can it be said that the divine gifts of imagination and artistic creativeness tend to mitigate the solemn boredom and exasperation that overtake the parties to such a legal union; on the contrary, they but enhance its horrors: behold the unhappy married lives of most men of genius, Dickens, Carlyle, Byron, and the philosophic Socrates!
(C) The monogamic marriage based on the modern idea of "love" (which should, by the by, be spelt "Luvv" to differentiate it from the nobler idea called by the same name), in addition to leading to bitter disillusionment, has in its very first condition this sentiment "Luvv" the seeds of its most potent corrosive. For it is impossible nowadays to conceive of love without contempt. Indeed, an innuendo of contempt is essential before love can be possible. This is easily seen if we reflect upon what love is. It is, in its present acceptation, a very wild, a very torrential sentiment. From the man who says he loves her, the girl exacts little less than single-minded adoration. She expects him to say she is the best girl in the world for him, and she insists on his believing it. She might, at a pinch, forgive his not regarding her as the best girl in the whole world, in the sense of supreme above all other girls in fact. But to him, relative to his taste alone, she expects to be that. And he expects the same. But what does this mean? What can it not help meaning? Both parties in a courtship are fully aware of what sorry figures they cut before the critical and fully informed eye of their own inner consciousness. Each knows his shortcomings, his pitiful and helpless foibles, his ugly traits, his despicable features, his nauseating, revolting side!
And what? Some one has been found who calls this the best? who raves about it? who is visibly frantic about it?
Deep down in her heart therefore, where the girl
When once, however, the first blush of passion has died away, this seed of contempt has to be reckoned with, and then, watered by disillusionment and nourished by indifference, it soon germinates and grows into the fungus which helps to blight the last green leaves that may still be left on the spare frail tree of conjugal affection. Because, the moment it shows its true colour and nature, it is recognized by either party in the other, and interpreted as a flat and wilful recantation of their former protestations, and consequently as an insulting and heartless volte-face which cannot be forgiven.
(D) In addition to the element of contempt in all love of the ordinary sort, there is another factor which, when once the moment of disenchantment comes in monogamic marriage, adds seriously to its force and hastens the end; and that is the unpardonable arrogance which is implicit in all these "love" matches.
When a young man A so far misunderstands his condition as to say he loves a young girl B with undying affection, although the psychologist may smile, he does not necessarily expostulate; for, after all, the attitude, though ridiculous, is not necessarily provokingly impudent. It is true that it is assuming that he is capable of an enduring passion, and therefore, that he is arrogating to himself a depth and a permanence which nine hundred and ninety-nine people out of a thousand do not possess; nevertheless, it is allowed to pass, because a certain modicum of exaggeration is allowed to lovers.
When, however, the young girl B believes A's declara-
() That she is capable of inspiring an undying passion.
() That she is capable of keeping it alive when once it has been kindled.
() That there is nothing at all unlikely or preposterous in her being the object of such a passion.
But to convince herself of any one of these propositions she must possess the most prodigious conceit, the most unbounded impudence.
And the same applies to A, to whom B has declared her undying love.
In addition to contempt, therefore, there is in every love-match in which the parties propose to adopt a permanent monogamic union as their destiny, a degree of arrogance and self-esteem on either side which is wholly and unspeakably distasteful both to the sane psychologist and to the man of balanced mind.
But let that pass! What does it matter that the psychologist should be offended when he hears that A has declared his undying love to B and that B has delieved him?
Yes, but unfortunately the arrogance that B shows in listening with patience and even credulity to such a declaration as A's, does not end merely in giving offence to the psychologist. It ultimately recoils upon herself in the cruellest possible manner; just as A's arrogant acceptance of B's declaration recoils upon him. When the moment of disillusionment and indifference supervenes, as it must in all ordinary "love" matches, A finds it somewhat difficult to forgive B for having ever dreamt, even in her wildest nightmare, that she could keep their love alive all through their married life, and B finds it equally difficult to forgive A for having fancied, even in
And we must confess that in the majority of cases this indignation is well deserved.
The only excuse that may be pleaded in mitigation of A's and B's lack of modesty is that probably no one had ever told them, nor had they ever read, that to accept a declaration of undying love necessitates a degree of self-esteem that is positively indecent.
(E) There are many modern people who will protest that I have not considered the monogamic marriage on its "higher" or more "spiritual" aspect as companionship, and that unless its possibilities in this respect be viewed fairly and impartially, its general desirability cannot possibly be estimated. But before we assume too hastily that this is one of the brighter aspects of the monogamic marriage, let us make quite certain that we are not confronted by yet another of its grave disadvantages.
Companionship is a matter of the spirit. The pleasure of it might be likened to the refreshment that a parched body obtains from a fresh drink. It is the bliss peculiar to friendship. The friend refreshes one by his companionship. Provided we have not spent too many of our years with him, he opens before us a new aspect of things. Provided that we have not frequented him too much, his mind, however simple it may be, always offers us some sentiment or point of view which we have not yet thoroughly explored. And this communion with the friend is a joy, because it is a recreation. It makes the old world seem new again. Even familiar landscapes, viewed again with a friend whom one has seen at discreet intervals, acquire a freshness they did not possess before. The very essence of companionship, therefore, if it is to be a joy,
But where is the freshness, where, therefore, the joy of companionship with some one whose mind one has thoroughly explored, whose every word, comment, or exclamation one anticipates five or six seconds ahead? Where is the exquisite quality of the companion in one whom one knows as well as oneself, whom one has had endless days, weeks, months and years to study, to listen to and to understand? The most gifted brain can be circumnavigated if it be lived with daily. The richest storehouse of spirituality can hardly hold out against daily depredation.
Companionship, however, offers something else that is priceless in the mortal monotony of our lives. It draws us away from excessive communion with ourselves, from the surfeit of self. Thus the friend comes as a welcome disturber of the interminable meditation that proceeds at all hours of the day between a man and himself.
But the mate who is always with you is so much a part of yourself, so intimately known to you, that nothing she can say is sufficiently arresting to disturb any meditation; and unless she actually overturns the lamp, or accidentally chops one of her fingers off, or falls downstairs, she is hardly noticed.
And what is true of the husband here is equally true of the wife. She gets to know her husband's every word, every mood, every gesture by heart. To call his presence companionship, or the boon that comes with friendship, would be to cast a slur on all companionship and friendship for ever.
Companionship between husband and wife is therefore impossible. It is impossible because the very source of the chief quality of companionship refreshment is cut off at the root by too much association, too much and too incessant exploration of each other's minds, by the two spouses.
(F) The monogamic marriage is as a rule more satis-
1 Naturally these remarks do not apply to the large and ever increasing number of women nowadays to whom every stage in the process of child-hearing, from the preliminaries to the weaning, is a torment and a source of disgust. But such women are too abnormal, whatsoever their numbers may be, and too sick and below par to be called positive healthy women, or to be reckoned with in any discussion regarding what is characteristic of happy and successful functioning. They are the kind of women who can truly regard matrimony and maternity as states of self-sacrifice.
To the man, on the other hand, to whom, as we have seen, the sparking-plug incident constitutes a complete sexual experience, and whose sexual life therefore begins and ends with this spasmodic desire for woman and the brief relation with her to which it leads, this falling off in affection and desire is a matter of very grave concern, because he has no bodily consolation. He may love his children, he may delight in their company, and he may be wholly interested in his home; but the bearing and nursing of his children constitutes no bodily experience to him; and in life it is the demands of the body that are most important and most importunate when they are not obeyed.
For his body to enjoy its necessary, satisfactory experience, slight and brief as it is, it is essential that some desire, some passion, in fact some of the feeling he felt for
1 Of course this can only happen where the woman is inclined to pronounced negativeness, otherwise the longing for children drives her away from a husband who cannot or does not give them to her.
Generally speaking, then, it may be argued with justice that, where conditions are normal and children are born regularly, monogamic marriage can be tolerated quite well by women, but not by men. For when once the elements constituting the joy of cohabitation have been robbed from the man's share as in nine hundred and ninety-nine marriages out of a thousand they must the relationship, though still endurable to the positive healthy female, to whom the act of fertilization, and raison de plus her husband, is of such minor importance, becomes intolerable to the healthy positive male; and unless he is prepared to face a life in which every week is a long-drawn-out torture to his body, he cannot remain faithful to his spouse.
In its general attitude towards and understanding of monogamic marriage, therefore, this Age, in addition to smuggling the lie of happiness into the contract, also completely distorts the true relation to the union of the woman on the one hand, and the man on the other. By a false and entirely gratuitous analogy, it supposes that the man's position can be and is as tolerable as that of the child-bearing female.
It is useless to object that thousands of married men to-day remain faithful to their wives, and yet cannot be said to be among those rare geniuses in love for whom alone the monogamic marriage is suitable. In the first place it may be asked, how many of those thousands are really healthy positive men, sexually exuberant and virile?
(G) It would be unfair to omit to mention among these objections to the modern monogamic marriage, those that arise more particularly from the woman's standpoint in a match with a man who is both positive and healthy.
At the risk of repeating statements already made, the reader must be reminded here that when either party to a matrimonial match is negative or unhealthy, the union ceases from being one to which mere objections can be raised; it then becomes actually impossible. And by positiveness and health in the woman, I mean that condition in which the bearing of children is accompanied throughout by an easy pleasure-giving functioning of the body.
Because I am not attempting to discuss all the sordid complications of the sort of match in which either one or both of the parties are unhealthy or negative, it does not follow that I fail to recognize the enormous percentage of unhappy marriages, to which such unions lead. But this is not a book on the pathological aspects of sex. I take only the best possible conditions the mating of a healthy and positive woman with a man of the same stamp, and show the objections that may be raised to their monogamic match. Naturally, if the unfavourable circumstances with which the start is made be increased, the objections to the match necessarily increase proportionately.
Now, despite the best initial circumstances, there are objections to monogamy from the woman's standpoint which will be seen to be both serious and insuperable. But these objections, let it be well understood, only arise in thoroughly modern conditions. I have hinted at one of them in a former chapter (see Chapter VI, section 3).
(G1) A woman may marry a man who is wholly
A relationship which should have been but a means of raising their courting happiness to ecstasy becomes instead either frigid and frightened post-marital virginity for weeks after marriage, 1 which proves disastrous to their love and ruinous to their nerves; or else, a consummation which is so hopelessly clumsy, hurried and nervous, and so distasteful to either party, that it is repeated as seldom as possible, and is always followed by the most bewildering disenchantment.
I have previously explained that to the decent girl the act of consummation seems acceptable and right only if purified by fire. She does not need to be in the least influenced by Puritanical prejudices in order to hold this attitude. It is the natural outcome of her instincts,
1 The writer has known one case in which it lasted for years. Sometimes, in extreme cases, where the girl is too decent to be sacrificed for a lifetime, there is a nullity suit, and the man produces doctors who declare that he is perfectly normal. Of course he is perfectly normal! What is wrong about him is the whole of his upbringing and the effects of absurdly Puritanical notions about sex, acting upon a peculiarly sensitive nature. For such men are usually extremely desirable and acutely sensitive. They cannot, however, overcome the ridiculous prejudices that prevailed regarding sex in the atmosphere in which they have been reared.
Yet now she finds herself with a creature who far from showing any mastery or abandon, actually increases, if you please, her own natural timidity about the whole affair, and even carries it one stage further until it is brought perilously near to disgust and moral indignation.
Beginnings tell most poignantly, particularly when they consist of first experiences in fundamental matters. And this kind of beginning, if it is not quickly corrected, is almost always fatal. It destroys that trust, that confidence, that humble and willing subservience, which are at once a young woman's instinct and her joy. It poisons the first hours of her maturity, of her self realization, of her taste of life's deeper waters; but, above all, it revives in her precisely those emotions and prejudices which ought to have been stifled for ever her high-school doubts and qualms regarding the general desirability of her Maker's scheme for mammalian fertilization.
She may forgive this first tragic disenchantment. It is doubtful whether she ever forgets it. And if her husband, as is often the case, continues inept, clumsy and uneasy about the whole relationship, it matters not even if they have children, that disillusionment which, in any case, is bound to come, is unduly expedited, and the union gets prematurely blighted. If there are no children then there is either open revolt or infidelity, or both.
In this way very many eminently desirable women
For the healthy, positive young man, in this case, all that can be pleaded is that it is not entirely his fault. In England, as a rule, he is bred in an atmosphere so perfectly sex-tight, that no intelligent or enlightening word ever reaches him on the subject. On the contrary, all is clammy, frightened, guilty silence. On reaching maturity, if he be sensitive, the ordinary means of acquiring practical experience in the matter will probably strike him as too sordid, too commercial, too completely lifted out of the atmosphere of romance and adventure in which his mind has always pictured ideal sexual experiences; and the consequence is that frequently he not only practises abstinence for too long, but also develops inhibitions and fantasies which hardly conduce, when the time comes, to a happy consummation of his first love-match.
And yet the world has grown so stupid in regard to all these matters, and foolish romantic women's voices have become so clamorous, that there is an ever-increasing
1 It should be noted that this does not apply to working-class women. The men of the working classes may be coarser and more brutal than the men of the wealthier classes, but they are also very much more normal, easy, natural, and gifted in the matter of sex, and from this point of view generally make excellent husbands. They may sometimes strike their wives, but they also, know how to love them. The nullity suits and the bad lovers are to be found in the so-called "upper" classes.
(G2) Another deep objection, from the standpoint of woman, to the monogamic marriage, arises out of what is known as "maleness" in women. According to Weininger this varies in degree with each individual, and modern authorities on psychology have more or less confirmed Weininger's view.
For the reader unacquainted with the present knowledge on this point, perhaps it would be as well to state plainly what results have been obtained.
In the first place it has been demonstrated to the satisfaction of most people that no one male or female is wholly masculine or feminine. The stage of hermaphroditism through which all human beings are supposed to pass in their early foetal development, is never apparently quite overcome, and the fully developed foetus, as also the perfectly developed child, retains in its constitution vestiges of a sex to which its outward and primary sexual characteristics do not belong. These vestiges of the other sex which survive are both physical and mental, and according to their proportion in the individual body, determine the character of their host. Thus a child who is to all outward appearance a boy may yet possess elements according to which he is actually 25 or 30 or only 10 per cent female. A female child may likewise possess vestiges of the other sex which constitute her 10, 20, 30 or even 40 per cent male.
Although, therefore, all men have a preponderancy of male elements, and all women a preponderancy of female elements, each may possess a more or less heavy percentage of the elements of the other.
In extreme cases these elements of the opposite sex cause trouble by leading those who possess them to form desires and to lead lives so conspicuously out of keeping with their primary sexual characteristics as to make them obnoxious to society; but it should be remembered that this degree of morbidity is rare, and that as a general
Thus the maleness in the female has a tendency to manifest itself, more especially when her sexuality is not fully developed or not actively engaged. Little girls, for instance, are notoriously sadistic sadism being a derivative of the male reproductive instinct as are also many spinsters and some old women.
Femaleness in the male, on the other hand, tends to manifest itself particularly in cases where the male reproductive instinct has been stifled, or unhinged, or when his spirit has been ruthlessly broken.
Now it may be as well for the reader to know that the attitude of the modern world is to fall down in a state of acquiescence before this important fact of sex, without attempting to inquire whether the importance with which it looms on the horizon of our lives is not precisely due to the attitude of prostrate acceptance with which it is met.
Particularly in England is the phenomenon of mixed elements noticeable so much so that foreigners call attention to it as something exceptional. 1 But it is only noticeable in this marked degree in England because, like all other manifestations of sex in this country, it is ill-adapted. A well-adapted sexual proclivity does not cry aloud and call attention to itself in this way.
Humbly as they may acquiesce in it, however, it is customary for people in this country to speak disparagingly of the "male woman," of her who flaunts manly attire, affects a walking-stick, hunts like a man, and is always the last to be drawn away from a drain or other refuge in which some unfortunate fox or other hunted animal has run for safety. I know of a case where such
1 August Strindberg, in a letter written in the autumn of 1888, refers to England as "a nation of bigots that has delivered itself up into the hands of its women," and later on speaks of "England's trousered women."
Now it is all very well to inveigh against the existence of such viragos, and to describe as morbid their manifestation of male sexual characteristics, but, as a matter of fact, there is as a rule nothing really morbid in their constitutions. And in any case, an attitude of humble acquiescence before them, as if they were an imposition from Providence, which must be suffered willy-nilly, is hardly the best way of modifying either the disagreeable character of their proclivities or tastes, or the evil to which these proclivities and tastes undoubtedly lead.
I realize that in making this statement I am at variance with practically every authority on the subject; but it is because in no authority on the subject have I found a suggestion of what I am about to say, that I venture to trust my own judgment, and provisionally to adhere to it until such time as the authority who opposes it makes allowances for all I am going to advance in defence of these so-called "male" women.
In the first place, then, it may be pointed out that it would be absurd to complain that a race is breeding women with manly traits in their character, if the desideratum of that race is avowedly to breed people of highly virile propensities. The mating of highly virile males with women devoid of all trace of virility would surely only lead to a depreciation of the stock. For the males, by having their seed diluted by elements utterly unlike them, could not hope to be the fathers of boys in any way worthy of them. . .
The rearing of women with strong male characteristics is, in fact, always an advantage to a race that wishes to produce a fine virile manhood; 1 for the dangerous
1 I mean here, by "male characteristics," only such traits as can be safely emulated and acquired by the female without the sacrifice or impairment of her reproductive functions, or of the instincts and virtues that derive from them (see chapter X).
Among the ancient Celts, Teutons and Slavs, than which few races have been more virile, women, when necessary, used to fight side by side with their men. It is said of the virile Similkameen Indians, that "the women were nearly as good hunters as the men." 1 The whole race survived only by means of hunting. It was therefore an advantage for the females to approximate to the men in their skill. By this means a double strain of hunting virtues descended to the offspring, thus leading to ever greater and greater refinement and specialization of instinct and judgment.
From the reading of the biographies of great men also we are in a position to determine to what extent the quality which to-day is opprobriously referred to as female "masculinity" was present in their mothers. Think of Schopenhauer, Byron, and, above all, of King Alfred the Great, to whose mother history declares the monarch owed everything! She could hardly have reared so manly a king, had she not herself possessed some innate knowledge of manliness and masculine virtue.
This manliness of women, therefore, far from being a disaster, is rather a desirable trait, if a particularly virile race of men is required. And since the existence of women with pronounced male characteristics cannot possibly be a novelty in this world, it is far more likely
1 See Journal Anthropological Institute, Feb., 1892, p. 307. See also Bancroft, quoting Heame (Native Races), Vol. I, p. 117, where a North American Indian Chief of some nomadic tribe, speaking of the women said: "There is no such thing as travelling any considerable distance in this country without their assistance." Evidently here too it was an advantage to the race for the women to be as nearly masculine in their characters as possible. Australian women, like Cuban women, used to fight beside their men and were very formidable. The former, when on the march, are said to have hardly troubled to halt for so slight a performance as child-birth. The newly-born infant was wrapped in skins, and the mother marched on with the rest.
"But," argue the man and woman of taste, "the masculine woman in our society is surely disagreeable!"
I agree. But while I shall now endeavour to explain why she is, or has become, disagreeable, I should like to repeat that she is by no means the only example of a disagreeable sex-phenomenon in our midst; that there are other phenomena just as obnoxious, and that all take their root not necessarily in abnormality of an incurable kind, but in the condition of ill-adaptation into which sex has fallen in this country a condition that sex-psychologists do not sufficiently reckon with when they regard as pathological the unfortunate modern female who is either sadistic, hostile to man, unnatural in her love and pursuit of women, or blatantly and ostentatiously masculine in her tastes, her kit and her interests.
The maleness of women, considered from the standpoint of marriage which is the only standpoint relevant to this chapter 1 can be deprecated only when it renders impossible, or more than usually difficult, the cohesion of that valuable unit in society known as the family.
As this is not a work on the pathology of sex, I cannot deal with cases of genuine physical and mental aberration in which a woman is so intensely masculine that motherhood is quite out of the question. I can only deal with those cases where male elements are present in sufficient quantities in the female to avert serious dilution of virile qualities in a stock.
Now in such cases marriage is not only possible, but can be quite successful or at least as successful as any marriage can be from the standpoint of the individual
1 I shall deal with other standpoints in the chapter on the Old Maid.
If the male elements in her are not prevented from guiding her conduct and her judgment, the evil result will be twofold: (1) she will develop her masculine proclivities at the cost of her female or maternal side; and (2) she will come into early and bitter conflict with her husband. Either one of these evil results is sufficient to upset the balance of the unit known as the family.
What kind of man, then, is likely to be the best mate of the woman with pronounced masculine elements in her constitution?
The problem is to make her masculine elements recessive in favour of her female elements. It amounts to this, then in what circumstances is a woman likely to abandon her masculine elements as a weapon in the struggle of life? In what circumstances is she likely to realize their uselessness to her?
Only, it may be said, when she has found them utterly useless; only when she has learned to despise them. But when does this occur? It always occurs where the masculine elements belonging to the woman have in a sharp conflict, or by gradual experience covering innumerable small incidents, discovered superior, overwhelmingly superior, masculine elements in the mate. It may never come to a conflict. The superiority of the male elements in the husband may become impressed upon her by repeated lessons, by small daily occurrences, that teach her in spite of herself to trust his masculinity more than hers. When this point is achieved, her masculine elements rapidly become recessive, and thenceforward give no further trouble nay, they may cease to manifest themselves altogether.
For this end to be attained, however, the male the husband must be a creature of overwhelming mascu-
In the same way it might be pointed out that the womanly man finds his happiest and best adaptation with the female the wife of overwhelming femininity; for then his female elements finding it impossible to measure themselves against those of his spouse, quickly become recessive and cease to give any further trouble.
But what actually happens to-day?
Our great past as a virile race has certainly left us an inheritance of thousands of virile women, some of whom excel anything that any other European country can produce; but alas! owing to the degeneracy of man, caused by his bad health, his Puritanism, his bemeaning occupations, and his absurd obsessions about chivalry, there are not the males to hand with whom to mate these women.
When one of these women marries nowadays she must perforce unite with a man who is utterly incapable of making her male elements recessive; who, on the contrary, is himself so exiguously endowed with masculinity that his wife not only has every temptation, but also every opportunity, to express, assert, and impose her masculine elements upon the family and himself.
But the continuous expression and assertion of male elements in a woman, and of female elements in a man, at the cost of those elements proper to their primary
1 This solution of the problem of the manly woman, who is not undesirable, will thus be seen to be the very reverse, the flat contradiction, of that advanced by the decadent Weininger. He argues that the male woman does and ought to marry the female man, and the modern, decadent world, more or less agrees with him. But this means an accentuation of her maleness, a triumph of her maleness, at the cost of her femaleness obviously an undesirable result, both from the standpoint of the race and the family, the only two standpoints from which the monogamic marriage has any meaning or can find any justification.
If, however, there is nothing in her immediate environment to make her despise her male elements, or to convince her that they can safely lie quiescent, a woman's very self-preservative instinct will not allow her to abandon them to the process of recession, and the consequence is that in thousands of marriages at the present day the wives are utterly and deeply miserable on this account alone. Masculine men are lacking. The great past of the race has produced generation after generation of fine, stout-hearted women with a large percentage of virile elements. But the mates for these remaining memorials of our whilom greatness are no more, and thus these unfortunate women either wander the world unmated, or if mated, suffer an ill-adaptation that is sometimes even more cruel than spinsterhood itself.
To point to these wretched, unadapted virile women whether married or unmarried as the legitimate butts for our scorn or our contempt, however, is the acme of ignorance and stupidity. It is the degeneration of man, the low ebb of his former greatness, that has left them standing high and dry in conspicuous isolation; and if England's "trousered women" now strike the foreigner as one of the regrettable features of our civilization, it is regrettable only in the sense that it proves positively that this country once enjoyed a racial greatness of which she can no longer boast, and of which these women are the belated reminder.
(H) But the chief and most serious objection to the monogamic marriage, apart from all the pain that it brings to individuals, male and female, consists in the injury which, particularly at the present day, it does to the offspring of each generation. From the standpoint of posterity, indeed, the gravity of this charge can hardly be exaggerated.
It may seem a far cry to speak of the increase of in-
The ideal condition for a child that is to be well-constituted and nourishing in body and mind, is, in the first place, that its mother should be left in peace during gestation, and certainly that she should be left scrupulously alone during the period of suckling. From the standpoint of the race it is of such supreme importance that a child should be reared on mother's milk, that everything should be done, no stone should be left unturned, to secure if possible the certainty of this condition.
With regard to cohabitation during gestation it is only fair to say that opinions are sadly divided, some doctors maintaining one thing, and others the reverse. If we require a standard, however, we have only to study the lower animals, among which the female is not even accessible during pregnancy. Whereas some doctors will declare, however, that any cohabitation whatsoever during gestation is most pernicious, all are unanimous in pronouncing against normal indulgence at such times. But apart from everything that changeable and uncertain science may periodically proclaim regarding this question, it would seem obvious that cohabitation at a time when fertilization is impossible cannot in any case have been Nature's design; and if, therefore, there remain the smallest doubt about the matter as the division of opinion among medical men reveals surely the benefit of the doubt ought, in all humanity, to be given to the expected offspring!
With regard to cohabitation after the confinement and during the seven to nine months of suckling that should follow, there can, however, be no doubt whatsoever. This must be bad; for, seeing that it is of primary importance that the child during these months should be able to obtain mother's milk, no risks should be run which can in any way jeopardize the happy fulfilment of this condition.
What is the alternative? The mammæ find the nervous energy of the body divided. The woman's system is no longer that of a mother alone; it has been recalled to its rôle as a wife. There may be conception or there may not at any rate, the frequent occurrence of children only a year or thirteen months older than a brother or sister, shows how often conception does take place in such circumstances and the consequence is that the suckling has to be removed-from the breast, in order to become the experimental victim of every kind of abomination in the form of substitutes for mother's milk.
To the ignorance of the young mother concerning artificial foods are now added the ignorance of neighbours, the audacious and criminal lies of commercial baby-food manufacturers, and frequently the ineptitude of the local doctor. Against such a conspiracy of error irrespective of the fact that no substitute, however good, can possibly compensate for the loss of mother's milk it is not surprising that the infant's body should rebel; and the result is a child who cannot by any conceivable chance be saved from digestive trouble, whom nothing can cure of digestive trouble, and who, by having alimentary disorders started so early in life, reaches maturity not only with a strong bias in favour of gastric and intestinal vices, but also if indeed his teeth survive so long with every imaginable kind of dental disease, from caries to pyorrhoea.
From mothers congenitally and constitutionally unfit
1 I remind the reader that I refer here to the healthy, positive woman, all of whose bodily functions are a joy to her.
But in the case of healthy, positive women, admirably fitted to fulfil all the functions of motherhood efficiently and pleasurably, anything that interferes with this healthy functioning amounts to a national and racial calamity, and it is to these I refer when I emphasize the immense danger of cohabitation during the nursing period.
Now the monogamic marriage makes this sort of plague almost a natural necessity, a sort of ineluctable scourge. It is impossible to ask a normal, positive, healthy man to exercise sexual abstinence for sixteen or eighteen months that is to say, the nine months of his wife's pregnancy and the seven or nine months of lactation. Only Manicheans, Puritans, or people thoroughly below par and quite devoid of virility, could possibly think of recommending such a course. Psycho-analysis has at last shown what all decent and clean-minded people knew about prolonged sexual abstinence that it is both wrongful and harmful. It can only be thought of and practised by people who have either used religious and alcoholic methods of sublimating their passions, or else by people who are utterly and conspicuously undesirable; but in the case of the latter it should be remembered that it is not abstinence or so-called "self-control," but semi-impotence. Where it is attempted by exuberant, positive young men, who are neither geniuses in art, philosophy or religion, it Can only mean disease possibly physical, but certainly nervous.
The husband, therefore, in a monogamic marriage consisting of the union of two positive, healthy people,
Of course the intelligent, thoughtful and good-natured man in such circumstances turns to some sort of modern substitute for polygamy. But the curse of modern civilization, its great blot and disfigurement, lies in the fact that at this stage in his wise resolve, he must perforce resort to secrecy, to deception, to concealment, to a hole-and-corner liaison, which may and frequently does expose him to every conceivable danger and expense danger from disease if he be a fool and unwary, danger from blackmail if he fall into the hands of knaves, danger from ruin if he happen to have lighted upon unscrupulous associates, and danger from a criminal prosecution into the bargain.
But in any case, however fortunate he may be in forming his liaison, he is certain, if found out, to incur the moral indignation of all the snivelling, worthless, ignorant and "respectable" people of his circle, among whom the loudest in their outcry will be the spinsters and the Puritans, of whom not one no not one can have or ever has had the faintest beginnings of an understanding of any aspect of the sex question.
This is how our society is organized. Its whole basis, its whole prepossession, is directed stubbornly towards degeneration. Nothing that points, however meekly, the other way, is any longer listened to, much less observed!
Can it be wondered at, in the circumstances, that the average unresourceful and timid man, prefers to remain strictly faithful to his monogamic vows? Can it be
This is the gravest charge that can be brought from the standpoint of the race against the monogamic marriage, and it embodies the outline of an explanation of perhaps half the physical and mental degeneracy of modern times.
It seems necessary to remind the reader here, that all these strictures against monogamy only apply to the healthy, normal, positive man and woman. They do not, therefore, apply to half the existing population. For in order that a woman may be thoroughly happy bearing and nursing children, she must be healthy, well-constituted and positive, and in order that a man may find it impossible to practise what the modern Age arrogantly calls "self-control," he must be positive, healthy and exuberantly virile. To half the modern world this alleged "self-control" is merely a euphemistic cover for the ease with which they can forget the weak, barely audible call of their bodies; and to an ever-increasing number of modern women there is precious little enjoyment associated with any stage in the sexual cycle, whether it be actual fertilization, gestation, parturition or lactation.
In discussing the value of monogamic marriage, therefore, and the possible reforms that might be instituted to render it suitable for the positive man and woman, it is hoped that none of the remarks I shall make will be thought to apply to the vast crowds to-day who are able to find in monogamic marriage a satisfactory, though perhaps tiresome, adaptation.
But, in the first place, it may be objected that, since I find so many serious difficulties in modern monogamic marriage, why do I not straightway recommend its total abolition, and advocate polygamy, or promiscuity, or polyandry, or total sexual anarchy?
I might certainly be tempted to advocate frank and open polygamy were I not too deeply conscious of the very many serious and far reaching advantages that the
As I have already stated these advantages, from the standpoint of society, earlier in the chapter, there is no need to repeat them here. Nevertheless, before proceeding, it might be as well for the reader to glance at them again, so that he may the more easily follow the modifications I am about to recommend.
The problem before us, therefore, is how to maintain the monogamic marriage and give it fresh life, while modifying it in such a way as to meet the gravest of the objections that can be advanced against it.
But before I proceed it may be as well to utter some words of warning to those romanticists and sentimentalists who have doubtless been offended by the strictures I have already pronounced against monogamic marriage.
Let me tell them, therefore, that however much they may be persuaded of the contrary, it is not I, with my clear and merciless criticism of modern marriage, who am the bitterest enemy of that institution, but they themselves, with their wilful concealment of all that I have brought to light.
Modern marriage is now on the rocks. If it has drifted into this perilous position it is, however, not because the question of its advantages and disadvantages has been properly ventilated and discussed, and the disadvantages corrected; but because it has been persistently and almost maliciously overlaid with false sentiment and bogus psychology, by these very romanticists and sentimentalists themselves.
If, therefore, it is to be saved, as it should be saved, this end can be achieved only by a blank refusal to shut one's eyes to its drawbacks, so that the latter may be rectified wherever possible; and by a full and earnest advocacy of its advantages, however unromantic and unsentimental these may appear to feverish modern sensationalists.
Before proceeding to the review of the specific objec-
2. The young people should be taught realistically that since some sort of physical adaptation in sex is indispensable to the healthy adult, monogamic marriage was designed as a means of meeting that need.
3. Its difficulties should be emphasized, and a happy issue shown to be as difficult an accomplishment as the complexities of the contract would lead them to expect. They should be told that in their search for a mate they should show more concern about minimizing these difficulties than about desiring to have "a good time."
4. The responsibilities of a family should be understood, and the wife regarded in her utilitarian aspect as a keeper of the home, as a mother, and as a guardian of the home comforts; marriage itself, as the sacred garden of the future of mankind, in which each party to the contract has the privilege of contributing to that future.
5. Differences of temperament and tradition between mates should be avoided. Since ill-health forbids our marrying into our own families (the ideal match), the young must not forget that in going beyond their families for a mate in order to contradict certain hereditary taints such as gout, or consumption, or cancer, or any other constitutional vice they need not therefore contradict the virtues and abilities that their particular family line has cultivated; for this leads to decline, and to the procreation of children who have no character and no ability. They should seek, as far as possible,
6. If by chance the expected disenchantment does not supervene in a form intolerably acute, when marriage has been taught on these lines, and the two young people discover that they do not necessarily become surfeited of each other with years, then at least the surprise would be pleasant, and not as it always is to-day, the sudden unpleasant realization of complete disillusionment.
(2) They should be taught that it is only the exceptions among mankind that have that genius for love which can endure for a lifetime, and they should be shown the hollowness of the popular assumption that every one is capable of une grande passion; therefore, that to arrange their lives as if they were one of these geniuses in love is not only the grossest form of megalomania, but dangerous into the bargain.
(B) The problem here is one belonging to the art of life. Those who can practise this art, and contrive to make themselves always the desired object of the spouse, have overcome one of the principal difficulties of monogamic marriage. The French are perhaps the most successful European people at practising this art hence the high percentage of happy marriages in France.
1 See my more detailed discussion of this question in chapter VII of my Defence of Aristocracy.
2 The letters correspond to those heading each objection in the body of the chapter.
In other words, teach the girl to subtract the need and the desire for physical adaptation from her love of the man, and teach the man to do the same in regard to the girl, and what remains will quickly be seen to consist only of a strong personal regard, which can hardly lead to the contempt that would otherwise result if the enthusiasm on both sides were supposed to arise from the unaided charms of either party to the match.
(D) The remedy here is the same as for (C). If a man realizes that when a girl protests her undying love for him the bulk of the ardour she feels is provoked merely by him as her physical adaptation by him qua male and that his individual traits play only a minor part, he will be less likely to believe that he is capable of provoking a life-long passion because a girl approved of him as her mate. It is a simple idea to grasp. Both the girl and the man should always reflect how much nature is helping them towards their success. When the declaration of life-long love came, it could then be estimated at its proper worth, without either party fancying that any exceptional fascination in themselves had been the principal power at work.
(E) It should be inculcated upon all, young and old alike, that companionship is not to be sought with people whom, in view of peculiar circumstances, one is bound to see every day and every hour of the day.
The sooner we free our minds from these foolish notions the better. A man and a woman should seek companions of the same sex as themselves, and outside
(F) As society is organized at present it is difficult to meet this objection. Wherever possible the man should, of course, have a concubine of some sort. Provided that the wife continues child-bearing, at regular intervals, as she should, she cannot weary of the relationship as hopelessly as he will. Women should be taught to realize that the division of labour is so unfair, that they get so much more entertainment out of sex than men do, that some compensating feature ought to be introduced into the lives of the latter. The importance of the act of fertilization alone to the man's reproductive instinct cannot be exaggerated. To woman, its importance is only equal to the proportion it bears to the rest of the sexual cycle. To preserve his peace of mind and health of body and nerves, therefore, the man must be in a position to perform his one function with healthy desire. The children he had from his concubine, if any there were, would not necessarily rank in law with the children of his first wife.
(G1) In order to meet this objection it is imperative that we should institute some sort of tasteful method of initiation into sex for young men. Let the girls be initiated by their proper and natural initiators their husbands; anything else is simply modern nonsense; but men should be properly and carefully initiated before marriage, away from the dangers of commercial prostitution. This school of initiation, however formed, would also serve, as it did with the Greeks, as a means of preventing the evils of total sexual abstinence among the young men who have to wait a long time for marriage,
The general ideal in modern England is that the eligible young man should be what is called "clean-minded."
But the very last means by which a healthy positive young man may hope to attain to a clean mind is precisely the means advocated under the general head of sexual abstinence. The non-indulgence of the sex-impulses in the vigorous young male is the means par excellence of destroying clean-mindedness.
Sexual abstinence, even when accompanied by energetic exercise and indulgence in sports, by chaining in the desires and wishes arising from the young man's reproductive instincts, causes them to become ramping demons. It causes the imagination to become filled with wish fantasies, often of a morbid kind. It fills the mind with obsessions, always obscene and frequently revolting, and if not quickly relieved must undermine the whole of a young man's healthy mental and physical attitude towards a normal sexual life. No mind residing in a healthy young male body, practising sexual abstinence, can remain clean every minute of the day, and even in the night it is disturbed by occasional bodily protests in the form of dreams.
The dangers of not being clean-minded, however, are so great and so far-reaching, and the risks run by the healthy total sexual abstainer are so enormous, that it is high time that the truth about this matter were more widely understood.
To clean the mind, the deep wishes of the body, which refuse to be flouted, must be satisfied. To forget sex, in fact, the sex instinct must be indulged. Freedom here, as in the case of any other appetite, can only be attained by gratification.
It necessarily follows from this, that clean-mindedness in abstinent young men, as it is generally understood, is a pure myth, a complete misunderstanding; and that if it is desirable that eligible young men should be clean-minded (and I am of opinion that it is most desirable), then the road thereto does not lie through the dark spook-haunted swamps of sexual abstinence, but through the open sunny highways of healthy sex gratification, secured from the dangers of commercial prostitution.
(G2) This objection can only be met by the Herculean undertaking of rearing a type of manhood richer in masculine traits of mind and character, and possessed of more exuberant virility a type, that is to say, by the side of which virile women would immediately feel the inadequacy of their male elements and would not be tempted to use them as weapons. By this means alone can the male elements in the finest women be made recessive.
At present the idea of the "manly" man is foolishly limited to one who loves sports of all kinds, who believes in open-air life, and who, while having a sense of humour, also wears about him an air of breezy modesty. By this modesty is meant a disinclination to make any special claims for himself.
But all women quickly discover the ease with which they become mistress of the fate of such a man, and it is curious that, in spite of the thousands of cases of such subjection on the part of this type of man in English marriages, he still continues to pass as the "manly" man.
The man of will, the man of character, the man who wishes to administer his own life and the lives of those dependent upon him, because he is conscious of
It is the system of education in England that is at fault. It produces a womanly will-less creature, with heavier muscles than the average woman, but with less grit and less bite in him, with less pride and less jealous love of responsible action and mastery than the average girl has who is his partner at golf.
If this seems like calumny or exaggeration, let the reader watch the career of any one of these alleged "manly" men of England, from his school years to his tenth or eleventh year of marriage, and if in every case they do not behold a creature who has long abandoned all self-direction, not to speak of direction of dependents, I invite him to close this book at this point as the most unspeakable nonsense.
With such a man, woman's male elements cannot possibly be made recessive. But it should not be imagined that she is any happier on that account. On the contrary, both wisdom and compassion would seem to unite in advocating the return in ever larger numbers of exuberantly virile men, if only for the sake of securing happier and fuller lives to the bulk of modern women.
(H) Regarding, as I do, this objection as so serious as to constitute the chief and most fundamental objection to monogamic marriage, I can see no possibility of making the institution sound unless something be done to meet it. We cannot hope that things will right themselves with an evil like this at the root of our national life. Suppressing the sale of commercial products fraudulently declared to be equal to mother's milk is not enough. Self-control is the counsel for wax-figures. To be offended by a frankly polygamic solution and yet to feel that no stigma attaches to women unable to suckle their
1 Such a man can be, and usually is, just as fond of open-air exercise and sports as the merely "manly" man.
1 The fact that at present no stigma attaches to loss of function or failure to function in the human body, is one of the most conclusive proofs of the degeneration in taste and instinct that Christianity has brought about. It is interesting, however, to be told by a woman emphatically that "the incapacity of a mother to nourish the babe she has borne should be known for a mark of degeneracy sign, too, that she was unfitted to have borne a child" (see Arabella Kenealy, Op. cit., p. 214).
Since, however, the sex question is so fundamental as to be almost of primary importance; since the building of the social unit, the ideal family, constitutes the first elementary task in all sound social organization, it is not impossible, fantastic though it may seem, that wise and thorough reform in this department of life may alone prove the best means of rescuing Western Civilization itself.