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Primitive Love and Love-Stories by Henry Theophilus Finck

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On page 654 of the present volume reference is made to a custom
prevalent in northern India of employing the family barber to select
the boys and girls to be married, it being considered too trivial and
humiliating an act for the parents to attend to. In pronouncing such a
custom ludicrous and outrageous we must not forget that not much more
than a century ago an English thinker, Samuel Johnson, expressed the
opinion that marriages might as well be arranged by the Lord
Chancellor without consulting the parties concerned. Schopenhauer had,
indeed, reason to claim that it had remained for him to discover the
significance and importance of love. His ideas on the relations
between love, youth, health, and beauty opened up a new vista of
thought; yet it was limited, because the question of heredity was only
just beginning to be understood, and the theory of evolution, which
has revolutionized all science, had not yet appeared on the horizon.

The new science of anthropology, with its various branches, including
sociology, ethnology, and comparative psychology, has within the last
two or three decades brought together and discussed an immense number
of facts relating to man in his various stages of
development--savagery, barbarism, semi-civilization, and civilization.
Monographs have appeared in great numbers on various customs and
institutions, including marriage, which has been discussed in several
exhaustive volumes. Love alone has remained to be specially considered
from an evolutionary point of view. My own book, _Romantic Love and
Personal Beauty_, which appeared in 1887, did indeed touch upon this
question, but very briefly, inasmuch as its subject, as the title
indicates, was modern romantic love. A book on such a subject was
naturally and easily written _virginibus puerisque_; whereas the
present volume, being concerned chiefly with the love-affairs of
savages and barbarians, could not possibly have been subjected to the
same restrictions. Care has been taken, however, to exclude anything
that might offend a healthy taste.

If it has been necessary in some chapters to multiply unpleasant
facts, the reader must blame the sentimentalists who have so
persistently whitewashed the savages that it has become necessary, in
the interest of truth, to show them in their real colors. I have
indeed been tempted to give my book the sub-title "A Vindication of
Civilization" against the misrepresentations of these sentimentalists
who try to create the impression that savages owe all their depravity
to contact with whites, having been originally spotless angels. If my
pictures of the unadulterated savage may in some cases produce the
same painful impression as the sights in a museum's "chamber of
horrors," they serve, on the other hand, to show us that, bad as we
may be, collectively, we are infinitely superior in love-affairs, as
in everything else, to those primitive peoples; and thus we are
encouraged to hope for further progress in the future in the direction
of purity and altruism.

Although I have been obliged under the circumstances to indulge in a
considerable amount of controversy, I have taken great pains to state
the views of my opponents fairly, and to be strictly impartial in
presenting facts with accuracy. Nothing could be more foolish than the
ostrich policy, so often indulged in, of hiding facts in the hope that
opponents will not see them. Had I found any data inconsistent with my
theory I should have modified it in accordance with them. I have also
been very careful in regard to my authorities. The chief cause of the
great confusion reigning in anthropological literature is that, as a
rule, evidence is piled up with a pitchfork. Anyone who has been
anywhere and expressed a globe-trotter's opinion is cited as a
witness, with deplorable results. I have not only taken most of my
multitudinous facts from the original sources, but I have critically
examined the witnesses to see what right they have to parade as
experts; as in the cases, for instance, of Catlin, Schoolcraft,
Chapman, and Stephens, who are responsible for many "false facts" that
have misled philosophers.

In writing a book like this the author's function is comparable to
that of an architect who gets his materials from various parts of the
world and fashions them into a building of more or less artistic
merit. The anthropologist has to gather his facts from a greater
variety of sources than any other writer, and from the very nature of
his subject he is obliged to quote incessantly. The following pages
embody the results of more than twelve years' research in the
libraries of America and Europe. In weaving my quotations into a
continuous fabric I have adopted a plan which I believe to be
ingenious, and which certainly saves space and annoyance. Instead of
citing the full titles of books every time they are referred to either
in the text or in footnotes, I merely give the author's name and the
page number, if only one of his books is referred to; and if there are
several books, I give the initials--say Brinton, _M.N.W_., 130; which
means Brinton's _Myths of the New World_, page 130. The key to the
abbreviations will be found at the end of the volume in the
bibliography, which also includes an author's index, separate from the
index of subjects. This avoids the repetition of titles or of the
customary useless "_loc. cit_.," and spares the reader the annoyance
of constant interruption of his reading to glance at the bottom of the

Not a few of the critics of my first book, ignoring the difference
between a romantic love-story and a story of romantic love, fancied
they could refute me by simply referring to some ancient romantic
story. To prevent a repetition of that procedure I have adorned these
pages with a number of love-stories, adding critical comments wherever
called for. These stories, I believe, augment, not only the interest
but the scientific value of the monograph. In gathering them I have
often wondered why no one anticipated me, though, to be sure, it was
not an easy task, as they are scattered in hundreds of books, and in
scientific periodicals where few would look for them. At the same time
I confess that to me the tracing of the plot of the evolution of love,
with its diverse obstacles, is more fascinating than the plot of an
individual love-story. At any rate, since we have thousands of such
love-stories, I am perhaps not mistaken in assuming that _the story of
love itself_ will be welcomed as a pleasant change. H.T.F.

NEW YORK, October 27, 1899.



Origin of a Book
Skeptical Critics
Robert Burton
Hegel on Greek Love
Shelley on Greek Love
Macaulay, Bulwer-Lytton, Gautier
Goldsmith and Rousseau
Love a Compound Feeling
Herbert Spencer's Analysis
Active Impulses Must be Added
Sensuality the Antipode of Love
The Word Romantic
Animals Higher than Savages
Love the Last, Not the First, Product of Civilization
Plan of this Volume
Greek Sentimentality
Importance of Love


No Love of Romantic Scenery
No Love in Early Religion
Murder as a Virtue
Slaughter of the Innocents
Honorable Polygamy
Curiosities of Modesty
Indifference to Chastity
Horror of Incest


Ingredients of Love.


All Girls Equally Attractive
Shallow Predilection
Repression of Preference
Utility versus Sentiment
A Story of African Love
Similarity of Individuals and Sexes
Primary and Secondary Sexual Characters
Fastidious Sensuality is not Love
Two Stories of Indian Love
Feminine Ideals Superior to Masculine
Sex in Body and Mind
True Femininity and its Female Enemies
Mysteries of Love,--An Oriental Love-Story


Juliet and Nothing but Juliet
Butterfly Love
Romantic Stories of Non-Romantic Love
Obstacles to Monopolism
Wives and Girls in Common
Trial Marriages
Two Roman Lovers


Rage at Rivals
Women as Private Property
Horrible Punishments
Essence of True Jealousy
Absence of Masculine Jealousy
Persian and Greek Jealousy
Primitive Feminine Jealousy
Absence of Feminine Jealousy
Jealousy Purged of Hate
A Virtuous Sin
Abnormal States
Jealousy in Romantic Love


Women Who Woo
Were Hebrew and Greek Women Coy?
Masculine Coyness
Shy but not Coy
Militarism and Mediaeval Women
What Made Women Coy?
Capturing Women
The Comedy of Mock Capture
Why the Women Resist
Quaint Customs
Greek and Roman Mercenary Coyness
Modesty and Coyness
Utility of Coyness
How Women Propose


Amorous Antitheses
Courtship and Imagination
Effects of Sensual Love


Girls and Flowers
Eyes and Stars
Locks and Fragrance
Poetic Desire for Contact
Nature's Sympathy with Lovers
Romantic but not Loving
The Power of Love


Comic Side of Love
A Mystery Explained
Importance of Pride
Varieties and Germs
Natural and Artificial Symptoms of Love


Egotism, Naked or Masked
Delight in the Torture of Others
Indifference to Suffering
Exposing the Sick and Aged
Birth of Sympathy
Women Crueler than Men
Plato Denounces Sympathy
Sham Altruism in India
Evolution of Sympathy
Amorous Sympathy


Deification of Persons
Primitive Contempt for Women
Homage to Priestesses
Kinship Through Females Only
Woman's Domestic Rule
Woman's Political Rule
Greek Estimate of Women
Man-Worship and Christianity


The Gallant Rooster
Ungallant Lower Races of Men
Egyptian Love
Arabian Love
The Unchivalrous Greeks
Ovid's Sham Gallantry
Mediaeval and Modern Gallantry
"An Insult to Woman,"
A Sure Test of Love


The Lady and the Tiger
A Greek Love-Story
Persian Love
Hero and Leander
The Elephant and the Lotos
Suicide is Selfish


Erotic Assassins
The Wisdom of Solomon
Stuff and Nonsense
Sacrifices of Cannibal Husbands
Inclinations Mistaken for Affection
Selfish Liking and Attachment
Foolish Fondness
Unselfish Affection


German Testimony
English Testimony
Maiden Fancies
Pathologic Love
A Modern Sentiment
Persians, Turks, and Hindoos
Love Despised in Japan and China
Greek Scorn for Woman-Love
Penetrative Virginity


Darwin's Unfortunate Mistake
Decoration for Protection
War "Decorations,"
Amulets, Charms, Medicines
Mourning Language
Indications of Tribe or Rank
Vain Desire to Attract Attention
Objects of Tattooing
Tattooing on Pacific Islands
Tattooing in America
Tattooing in Japan
Alleged Testimony of Natives, Misleading Testimony of
"Decoration" at the Age of Puberty
"Decoration" as a Test of Courage
Mutilation, Fashion, and Emulation
Personal Beauty versus Personal Decoration
De Gustibus non est Disputandum?
Indifference to Dirt
Reasons for Bathing
Corpulence versus Beauty
Fattening Girls for the Marriage Market
Oriental Ideals
The Concupiscence Theory of Beauty
Utility is not Beauty
A New Sense Easily Lost Again
Moral Ugliness
Beautifying Intelligence
The Strange Greek Attitude


Definition of Love
Why called Romantic.


Appetite and Longing
Wiles of an Oriental Girl
Rarity of True Love.


How Romantic Love is Metamorphosed
Why Savages Value Wives
Mourning to Order
Mourning for Entertainment
The Truth about Widow-Burning
Feminine Devotion in Ancient Literature
Wives Esteemed as Mothers Only
Why Conjugal Precedes Romantic Love


I. Ignorance and Stupidity
II. Coarseness and Obscenity
III. War
IV. Cruelty
V. Masculine Selfishness
VI. Contempt for Women
VII. Capture and Sale of Brides
VIII. Infant Marriages
IX. Prevention of Free Choice
X. Separation of the Sexes
XI. Sexual Taboos
XII. Race Aversions
XIII. Multiplicity of Languages
XIV. Social Barriers
XV. Religious Prejudice


Bushman Qualifications for Love
"Love in all Their Marriages,"
False Facts Regarding Hottentots
Effeminate Men and Masculine Women
How the Hottentot Woman "Rules at Home,"
"Regard for Women"
Capacity for Refined Love
Hottentot Coarseness
Fat versus Sentiment
South African Love-Poems
A Hottentot Flirt
Kaffir Morals
Individual Preference for--Cows, Bargaining for Brides
Amorous Preferences
Zulu Girls not Coy
Charms and Poems
A Kaffir Love-Story
Lower than Beasts
Colonies of Free Lovers
A Lesson in Gallantry
Not a Particle of Romance
No Love Among Negroes
A Queer Story
Poetic Love on the Congo
Black Love in Kamerun
A Slave Coast Love-Story
The Maiden who Always Refused
African Story-Books
The Five Suitors
Tamba and the Princess
The Sewing Match
Baling out the Brook
Proverbs about Women
African Amazons
Where Woman Commands
No Chance for Romantic Love
Pastoral Love
Abyssinian Beauty and Flirtation
Galla Coarseness
Somali Love-Affairs
Arabic Influences
Touareg Chivalry
An African Love-Letter


Personal Charms of Australians
Cruel Treatment of Women
Were Savages Corrupted by Whites?
Aboriginal Horrors
Naked and not Ashamed
Is Civilization Demoralizing?
Aboriginal Wantonness
Lower than Brutes
Indifference to Chastity
Useless Precautions
Survivals of Promiscuity
Aboriginal Depravity
The Question of Promiscuity
Why do Australians Marry?
Curiosities of Jealousy
Pugnacious Females
Swapping Girls
The Philosophy of Elopements
Charming a Woman by Magic
Other Obstacles to Love
Marriage Taboos and "Incest"
Affection for Women and Dogs
A Horrible Custom
Romantic Affliction
A Lock of Hair
Two Native Stories
Barrington's Love-Story
Risking Life for a Woman
Gerstaecker's Love-Story
Local Color in Courtship


Where Women Propose
Bornean Caged Girls
Charms of Dyak Women
Dyak Morals
Nocturnal Courtship
Head Hunters A-Wooing
Fickle and Shallow Passion
Dyak Love-Songs
The Girl With the Clean Face
Fijian Refinements
How Cannibals Treat Women
Fijian Modesty and Chastity
Emotional Curiosities
Fijian Love-Poems
Serenades and Proposals
Suicides and Bachelors
Samoan Traits
Courtship Pantomime
Two Samoan Love-Stories
Personal Charms of South Sea Islanders
Tahitians and Their White Visitors
Heartless Treatment of Women
Two Stories of Tahitian Infatuation
Captain Cook on Tahitian Love
Were the Tongans Civilized?
Love of Scenery
A Cannibal Bargain
The Handsome Chiefs
Honeymoon in a Cave
A Hawaiian Cave-Story
Is this Romantic Love?
Vagaries of Hawaiian Fondness
Hawaiian Morals
The Helen of Hawaii
Intercepted Love-Letters
Maoris of New Zealand
The Maiden of Rotorua
The Man on the Tree
Love in a Fortress
Stratagem of an Elopement
Maori Love-Poems
The Wooing-House
Liberty of Choice and Respect for Women
Maori Morals and Capacity for Love


The Red Lover
The Foam Woman
The Humpback Magician
The Buffalo King
The Haunted Grove
The Girl and the Scalp
A Chippewa Love-Song
How "Indian Stories" are Written
Reality versus Romance
Deceptive Modesty
Were Indians Corrupted by Whites?
The Noble Red Man
Apparent Exceptions
Intimidating California Squaws
Going A-Calumeting
Squaws and Personal Beauty
Are North American Indians Gallant?
South American Gallantry
How Indians Adore Squaws
Choosing a Husband
Compulsory "Free Choice"
A British Columbia Story
The Danger of Coquetry
The Girl Market
Other Ways of Thwarting Free Choice
Central and South American Examples
Why Indians Elope
Suicide and Love
Curiosities of Courtship
Pantomimic Love-Making
Music in Indian Courtship
Indian Love-Poems
More Love-Stories
"White Man Too Much Lie"
The Story of Pocahontas
Verdict: No Romantic Love
The Unloving Eskimo.


"Whole Tracts of Feeling Unknown to Them"
Practical Promiscuity
"Marvellously Pretty and Romantic"
Liberty of Choice
Scalps and Field-Mice
A Topsy-Turvy Custom
Paharia Lads and Lasses
Child-Murder and Child-Marriage
Monstrous Parental Selfishness
How Hindoo Girls are Disposed of
Hindoos Far Below Brutes
Contempt in Place of Love
Widows and Their Tormentors
Hindoo Depravity
Temple Girls
An Indian Aspasia
Symptoms of Feminine Love
Symptoms of Masculine Love
Lyrics and Dramas
I. The Story of Sakuntala
II. The Story of Urvasi
III. Malavika and Agnimitra
IV. The Story of Savitri
V. Nala and Damayanti
Artificial Symptoms
The Hindoo God of Love
Dying for Love
What Hindoo Poets Admire in Women
The Old Story of Selfishness
Bayaderes and Princesses as Heroines
Voluntary Unions not Respectable


The Story of Jacob and Rachel
The Courting of Rebekah
How Ruth Courted Boaz
No Sympathy or Sentiment
A Masculine Ideal of Womanhood
Not the Christian Ideal of Love
Unchivalrous Slaughter of Women
Four More Bible Stories
Abishag the Shunammite
The Song of Songs


Champions of Greek Love
Gladstone on the Women of Homer
Achilles as a Lover
Odysseus, Libertine and Ruffian
Was Penelope a Model Wife?
Hector and Andromache
Barbarous Treatment of Greek Women
Love in Sappho's Poems
Masculine Minds in Female Bodies
Anacreon and Others
Woman and Love in Aeschylus
Woman and Love in Sophocles
Woman and Love in Euripides
Romantic Love, Greek Style
Platonic Love of Women
Spartan Opportunities for Love
Amazonian Ideal of Greek Womanhood
Athenian Orientalism
Literature and Life
Greek Love in Africa
Alexandrian Chivalry
The New Comedy
Theocritus and Callimachus
Medea and Jason
Poets and Hetairai
Short Stories
Greek Romances
Daphnis and Chloe
Hero and Leander
Cupid and Psyche








"Love is always the same. As Sappho loved, fifty years ago, so did
people love ages before her; so will they love thousands of years

These words, placed by Professor Ebers in the mouth of one of the
characters in his historic novel, _An Egyptian Princess_, express the
prevalent opinion on this subject, an opinion which I, too, shared
fifteen years ago. Though an ardent champion of the theory of
evolution, I believed that there was one thing in the world to which
modern scientific ideas of gradual development did not apply--that
love was too much part and parcel of human nature to have ever been
different from what it is to-day.


It so happened that I began to collect notes for a paper on "How to
Cure Love." It was at first intended merely as a personal experiment
in emotional psychology. Afterward it occurred to me that such a
sketch might be shaped into a readable magazine article. This, again,
suggested a complementary article on "How to Win Love"--a sort of
modern Ovid in prose; and then suddenly came the thought,

"Why not write a book on love? There is none in the English
language--strange anomaly--though love is supposed to be the
most fascinating and influential thing in the world. It will
surely be received with delight, especially if I associate
with it some chapters on personal beauty, the chief inspirer
of love. I shall begin by showing that the ancient Greeks
and Romans and Hebrews loved precisely as we love."

Forthwith I took down from my shelves the classical authors that I had
not touched since leaving college, and eagerly searched for all
references to women, marriage, and love. To my growing surprise and
amazement I found that not only did those ancient authors look upon
women as inferior beings while I worshipped them, but in their
descriptions of the symptoms of love I looked in vain for mention of
those supersensual emotions and self-sacrificing impulses which
overcame me when I was in love. "Can it be," I whispered to myself,
"that, notwithstanding the universal opinion to the contrary, love is,
after all, subject to the laws of development?"

This hypothesis threw me into a fever of excitement, without the
stimulus of which I do not believe I should have had the courage and
patience to collect, classify, and weave into one fabric the enormous
number of facts and opinions contained within the covers of _Romantic
Love and Personal Beauty_. I believed that at last something new under
the sun had been found, and I was so much afraid that the discovery
might leak out prematurely, that for two years I kept the first half
of my title a secret, telling inquisitive friends merely that I was
writing a book on Personal Beauty. And no one but an author who is in
love with his theme and whose theme is love can quite realize what a
supreme delight it was--with occasional moments of anxious
suspense--to go through thousands of books in the libraries of
America, England, France, and Germany and find that all discoverable
facts, properly interpreted, bore out my seemingly paradoxical and
reckless theory.


When the book appeared some of the critics accepted my conclusions,
but a larger number pooh-poohed them. Here are a few specimen

"His great theses are, first, that romantic love is an
entirely modern invention; and, secondly, that romantic
love and conjugal love are two things essentially
different.... Now both these theses are luckily false."

"He is wrong when he says there was no such thing as pre-matrimonial
love known to the ancients."

"I don't believe in his theory at all, and ... no one is likely to
believe in it after candid examination."

"A ridiculous theory."

"It was a misfortune when Mr. Finck ran afoul of this theory."

"Mr. Finck will not need to live many years in order to be ashamed of

"His thesis is not worth writing about."

"It is true that he has uttered a profoundly original thought, but,
unfortunately, the depth of its originality is surpassed by its
fathomless stupidity."

"If in the light of these and a million other facts, we should
undertake to explain why nobody had anticipated Mr. Finck's theory
that love is a modern sentiment, we should say it might be because
nobody who felt inspired to write about it was ever so extensively
unacquainted with the literature of the human passions."

"Romantic love has always existed, in every clime and age, since man
left simian society; and the records of travellers show that it is to
be found even among the lowest savages."


While not a few of the commentators thus rejected or ridiculed my
thesis, others hinted that I had been anticipated. Several suggested
that Burton's _Anatomy of Melancholy_ had been my model. As a matter
of fact, although one of the critics referred to my book as "a marvel
of epitomized research," I must confess, to my shame, that I was not
aware that Burton had devoted two hundred pages to what he calls
Love-Melancholy, until I had finished the first sketch of my
manuscript and commenced to rewrite it. My experience thus furnished a
striking verification of the witty epitaph which Burton wrote for
himself and his book: "Known to few, unknown to fewer still." However,
after reading Burton, I was surprised that any reader of Burton should
have found anything in common between his book and mine, for he
treated love as an appetite, I as a sentiment; my subject was pure,
supersensual affection, while his subject is frankly indicated in the
following sentences:

"I come at last to that heroical love, which is proper
to men and women ... and deserves much rather to be
called burning lust than by such an honorable title."
"This burning lust ... begets rapes, incests, murders."
"It rages with all sorts and conditions of men, yet is
most evident among such as are young and lusty, in the
flower of their years, nobly descended, high fed, such
as live idly, at ease, and for that cause (which our
divines call burning lust) this mad and beastly passion
... is named by our physicians heroical love, and a
more honorable title put upon it, _Amor nobilis_, as
Savonarola styles it, because noble men and women make
a common practice of it, and are so ordinarily affected
with it." "Carolus a Lorme ... makes a doubt whether
this heroical love be a disease.... Tully ... defines
it a furious disease of the mind; Plato madness

"Gordonius calls this disease the proper passion of

"This heroical passion or rather brutish burning lust
of which we treat."

The only honorable love Burton knows is that between husband and wife,
while of such a thing as the evolution of love he had, of course, not
the remotest conception, as his book appeared in 1621, or two hundred
and thirty-eight years before Darwin's _Origin of Species_.


In a review of my book which appeared in the now defunct New York
_Star_, the late George Parsons Lathrop wrote that the author

"says that romantic love is a modern sentiment, less than a
thousand years old. This idea, I rather think, he derived
from Hegel, although he does not credit that philosopher
with it."

I read this criticism with mingled emotions. If it was true that Hegel
had anticipated me, my claims to priority of discovery would vanish,
even though the idea had come to me spontaneously; but, on the other
hand, the disappointment at this thought was neutralized by the
reflection that I should gain the support of one of the most famous
philosophers, and share with him the sneers and the ridicule bestowed
upon my theory. I wrote to Mr. Lathrop, begging him to refer me to the
volume and page of Hegel's numerous works where I could find the
passage in question. He promptly replied that I should find it in the
second volume of the _Aesthetik_ (178-182). No doubt I ought to have
known that Hegel had written on this subject; but the fact that of
more than two hundred American, English, and German reviewers of my
book whose notices I have seen, only one knew what had thus escaped my
research, consoled me somewhat. Hegel, indeed, might well have copied
Burton's epitaph. His _Aesthetik_ is an abstruse, unindexed,
three-volume work of 1,575 pages, which has not been reprinted since
1843, and is practically forgotten. Few know it, though all know of

After perusing Hegel's pages on this topic I found, however, that Mr.
Lathrop had imputed to him a theory--my theory--which that philosopher
would have doubtless repudiated emphatically. What Hegel does is
simply to call attention to the fact that in the literature of the
ancient Greeks and Romans love is depicted only as a transient
gratification of the senses, or a consuming heat of the blood, and not
as a romantic, sentimental affection of the soul. He does not
generalize, says nothing about other ancient nations,[1] and certainly
never dreamt of such a thing as asserting that love had been gradually
and slowly developed from the coarse and selfish passions of our
savage ancestors to the refined and altruistic feelings of modern
civilized men and women. He lived long before the days of scientific
anthropology and Darwinism, and never thought of such a thing as
looking upon the emotions and morals of primitive men as the raw
material out of which our own superior minds have been fashioned. Nay,
Hegel does not even say that sentimental love did not exist in the
life of the Greeks and Romans; he simply asserts that it is not to be
found in their literature. The two things are by no means identical.

Professor Rohde, an authority on the erotic writings of the Greeks,
expresses the opinion repeatedly that, whatever their literature may
indicate, they themselves were capable of feeling strong and pure
love; and the eminent American psychologist, Professor William James,
put forth the same opinion in a review of my book.[2] Indeed, this
view was broached more than a hundred years ago by a German author,
Basil von Ramdohr, who wrote four volumes on love and its history,
entitled _Venus Urania_. His first two volumes are almost unreadably
garrulous and dull, but the third and fourth contain an interesting
account of various phases through which love has passed in literature.
Yet he declares (Preface, vol. iii.) that "the nature [_Wesen_] of
love is unchangeable, but the ideas we entertain in regard to it and
the effects we ascribe to it, are subject to alteration."


It is possible that Hegel may have read this book, for it appeared in
1798, while the first manuscript sketches of his lectures on esthetics
bear the date of 1818. He may have also read Robert Wood's book
entitled _An Essay on the Original Genius and Writings of Homer_,
dated 1775, in which this sentence occurs:

"Is it not very remarkable, that Homer, so great a master of
the tender and pathetic, who has exhibited human nature in
almost every shape, and under every view, has not given a
single instance of the powers and effects of love, distinct
from sensual enjoyment, in the _Iliad_?"

This is as far as I have been able to trace back this notion in modern
literature. But in the literature of the first half of the nineteenth
century I have come across several adumbrations of the truth regarding
the Greeks,[3] by Shelley, Lord Lytton, Lord Macaulay, and Theophile
Gautier. Shelley's ideas are confused and contradictory, but
interesting as showing the conflict between traditional opinion and
poetic intuition. In his fragmentary discourse on "The Manners of the
Ancients Relating to the Subject of Love," which was intended to serve
as an introduction to Plato's _Symposium_, he remarks that the women
of the ancient Greeks, with rare exceptions, possessed

"the habits and the qualities of slaves. They were probably
not extremely beautiful, at least there was no such
disproportion in the attractions of the external form
between the female and male sex among the Greeks, as exists
among the modern Europeans. They were certainly devoid of
that moral and intellectual loveliness with which the
acquisition of knowledge and the cultivation of sentiment
animates, as with another life of overpowering grace, the
lineaments and the gestures of every form which they
inhabit. Their eyes could not have been deep and intricate
from the workings of the mind, and could have entangled no
heart in soul-enwoven labyrinths." Having painted this
life-like picture of the Greek female mind, Shelley goes on
to say perversely:

"Let it not be imagined that because the Greeks were
deprived of its legitimate object, that they were
incapable of sentimental love, and that this passion is
the mere child of chivalry and the literature of modern

He tries to justify this assertion by adding that

"Man is in his wildest state a social being: a certain
degree of civilization and refinement ever produces the want
of sympathies still more intimate and complete; and the
gratification of the senses is no longer all that is sought
in sexual connection. It soon becomes a very small part of
that profound and complicated sentiment, which we call love,
which is rather the universal thirst for a communion not
merely of the senses, but of our whole nature, intellectual,
imaginative, and sensitive."

Here Shelley contradicts himself flatly by saying, in two consecutive
sentences, that Greek women were "certainly devoid of the moral and
intellectual loveliness" which inspires sentimental love, but that the
men nevertheless could feel such love. His mind was evidently hazy on
the subject, and that is probably the reason why his essay remained a


Macaulay, with deeper insight than Shelley showed, realized that the
passion of love may undergo changes. In his essay on Petrarch he notes
that in the days of that poet love had become a new passion, and he
clearly realizes the obstacles to love presented by Greek
institutions. Of the two classes of women in Greece, the respectable
and the hetairai, he says:

"The matrons and their daughters, confined in the
harem--insipid, uneducated, ignorant of all but the
mechanical arts, scarcely seen till they were married--could
rarely excite interest; while their brilliant rivals, half
graces, half harpies, elegant and refined, but fickle and
rapacious, could never inspire respect."

Lord Lytton wrote an essay on "The Influence of Love upon Literature
and Real Life," in which he stated that

"with Euripides commences the important distinction in the
analysis of which all the most refined and intellectual of
modern erotic literature consists, viz., the distinction
between love as a passion and love as a sentiment.... He is
the first of the Hellenic poets who interests us
_intellectually_ in the antagonism and affinity between the

Theophile Gautier clearly realized one of the differences between
ancient passion and modern love. In _Mademoiselle de Maupin,_ he makes
this comment on the ancient love-poems:

"Through all the subtleties and veiled expressions one
hears the abrupt and harsh voice of the master who
endeavors to soften his manner in speaking to a slave.
It is not, as in the love-poems written since the
Christian era, a soul demanding love of another soul
because it loves.... 'Make haste, Cynthia; the smallest
wrinkle may prove the grave of the most violent
passion.' It is in this brutal formula that all ancient
elegy is summed up."


In _Romantic Love and Personal Beauty_ I intimated (116) that Oliver
Goldsmith was the first author who had a suspicion of the fact that
love is not the same everywhere and at all times. My surmise was
apparently correct; it is not refuted by any of the references to love
by the several authors just quoted, since all of these were written
from about a half a century to a century later than Goldsmith's
_Citizen of the World_ (published in 1764), which contains his
dialogue on "Whether Love be a Natural or a Fictitious Passion." His
assertion therein that love existed only in early Rome, in chivalrous
mediaeval Europe, and in China, all the rest of the world being, and
having ever been, "utter strangers to its delights and advantages,"
is, of course a mere bubble of his poetic fancy, not intended to be
taken too seriously, and, is, moreover, at variance with facts. It is
odd that he overlooks the Greeks, whereas the other writers cited
confine themselves to the Greeks and their Roman imitators.

Ten years before Goldsmith thus launched the idea that most nations
were and had ever been strangers to the delights and advantages of
love, Jean Jacques Rousseau published a treatise, _Discours sur
l'inegalite_ (1754), in which he asserted that savages are strangers
to jealousy, know no domesticity, and evince no preferences, being as
well pleased with one woman as with another. Although, as we shall see
later, many savages do have a crude sort of jealousy, domesticity, and
individual preference, Rousseau, nevertheless, hints prophetically at
a great truth--the fact that some, at any rate, of the phenomena of
love are not to be found in the life of savages. Such a thought,
naturally, was too novel to be accepted at once. Ramdohr, for
instance, declares (III. 17) that he cannot convince himself that
Rousseau is right. Yet, on the preceding page he himself had written
that "it is unreasonable to speak of love between the sexes among
peoples that have not yet advanced so far as to grant women humane


All these things are of extreme interest as showing the blind
struggles of a great idea to emerge from the mist into daylight. The
greatest obstacle to the recognition of the fact that love has a
history, and is subject to the laws of evolution lay in the habit of
looking upon it as a simple feeling.

When I wrote my first book on love, I believed that Herbert Spencer
was the first thinker who grasped the idea that love is a composite
state of mind. I now see, however, that Silvius, in Shakspere's _As
You Like It_ (V. 2), gave a broad hint of the truth, three hundred
years ago. Phoebe asks him to "tell what 't is to love," and he

It is to be all made of sighs and tears....
It is to be all made of faith and service....
It is to be all made of fantasy,
All made of passion, and all made of wishes,
All adoration, duty, and observance,
All humbleness, all patience, and impatience,
All purity, all trial, all obedience.

Coleridge also vaguely recognized the composite nature of love in the
first stanza of his famous poem:

All thoughts, all passions, all delights,
Whatever stirs this mortal frame,
All are but ministers of love,
And feed his sacred flame.

And Swift adds, in "Cadenus and Vanessa:"

Love, why do we one passion call,
When 'tis a compound of them all?

The eminent Danish critic, George Brandes, though a special student of
English literature, overlooked these poets when he declared, in one of
his lectures on literary history (1872), that the book in which love
is for the first time looked on as something composite and an attempt
made to analyze it into its elements, is Benjamin Constant's _Adolphe_
(which appeared in 1816). "In _Adolphe_," he says,

"and in all the literature associated with that book, we are
informed accurately how many parts, how many grains, of
friendship, devotion, vanity, ambition, admiration, respect,
sensual attraction, illusion, fancy, deception, hate,
satiety, enthusiasm, reasoning calculation, etc., are
contained in the _mixtum compositum_ which the enamoured
persons call love."

This list, moreover, does not accurately name a single one of
the essential ingredients of true love, dwelling only on associated
phenomena, whereas Shakspere's lines call attention to three states of
mind which form part of the quintessence of romantic love--gallant
"service," "adoration," and "purity"--while "patience and impatience"
may perhaps be accepted as an equivalent of what I call the mixed
moods of hope and despair.


Nevertheless the first thinker who treated love as a compound feeling
and consciously attempted a philosophical analysis of it was Herbert
Spencer. In 1855 he published his _Principles of Psychology_, and in
1870 appeared a greatly enlarged edition, paragraph 215 of which
contains the following exposition of his views:

"The passion which unites the sexes is habitually
spoken of as though it were a simple feeling; whereas
it is the most compound, and therefore the most
powerful, of all the feelings. Added to the purely
physical elements of it are first to be noticed those
highly complex impressions produced by personal beauty;
around which are aggregated a variety of pleasurable
ideas, not in themselves amatory, but which have an
organized relation to the amatory feeling. With this
there is united the complex sentiment which we term
affection--a sentiment which, as it exists between
those of the same sex, must be regarded as an
independent sentiment, but one which is here greatly
exalted. Then there is the sentiment of admiration,
respect, or reverence--in itself one of considerable
power, and which in this relation becomes in a high
degree active. There comes next the feeling called love
of approbation. To be preferred above all the world,
and that by one admired beyond all others, is to have
the love of approbation gratified in a degree passing
every previous experience: especially as there is added
that indirect gratification of it which results from
the preference being witnessed by unconcerned persons.
Further, the allied emotion of self-esteem comes into
play. To have succeeded in gaining such attachment
from, and sway over, another, is a proof of power which
cannot fail agreeably to excite the _amour propre_. Yet
again the proprietary feeling has its share in the
general activity: there is the pleasure of
possession--the two belong to each other. Once more,
the relation allows of an extended liberty of action.
Toward other persons a restrained behavior is
requisite. Round each there is a subtle boundary that
may not be crossed--an individuality on which none may
trespass. But in this case the barriers are thrown
down; and thus the love of unrestrained activity is
gratified. Finally, there is an exaltation of the
sympathies. Egoistic pleasures of all kinds are doubled
by another's sympathetic participation; and the
pleasures of another are added to the egoistic
pleasures. Thus, round the physical feeling forming the
nucleus of the whole, are gathered the feelings
produced by personal beauty, that constituting simple
attachment, those of reverence, of love of approbation,
of self-esteem, of property, of love of freedom, of
sympathy. These, all greatly exalted, and severally
tending to reflect their excitements on one another,
unite to form the mental state we call love. And as
each of them is itself comprehensive of multitudinous
states of consciousness, we may say that this passion
fuses into one immense aggregate most of the elementary
excitations of which we are capable; and that hence
results its irresistible power."

Ribot has copied this analysis of love in his _Psychologie des
Sentiments_ (p. 249), with the comment that it is the best known to
him (1896) and that he sees nothing to add or to take away from it.
Inasmuch as it forms merely an episodic illustration in course of a
general argument, it certainly bears witness to the keenness of
Spencer's intellect. Yet I cannot agree with Ribot that it is a
complete analysis of love. It aided me in conceiving the plan for my
first book, but I soon found that it covered only a small part of the
ground. Of the ingredients as suggested by him I accepted only
two--Sympathy, and the feelings associated with Personal Beauty. What
he called love of approbation, self-esteem, and pleasure of possession
I subsummed under the name of Pride of Conquest and Possession.
Further reflection has convinced me that it would have been wiser if,
instead of treating Romantic Love as a phase of affection (which, of
course, was in itself quite correct), I had followed Spencer's example
and made affection one of the ingredients of the amorous passion. In
the present volume I have made the change and added also Adoration,
which includes what Spencer calls "the sentiment of admiration,
respect, or reverence," while calling attention to the superlative
phase of these sentiments which is so characteristic of the lover, who
does not say, "I respect you," but "I adore you." I may therefore
credit Spencer with having suggested three or four only of the
fourteen essential ingredients which I find in love.


The most important distinction between Spencer's analysis of love and
mine is that he treats it merely as a composite feeling, or a group of
emotions, whereas I treat it as a complex state of mind including not
only diverse feelings or sentiments--sympathy, admiration of beauty,
jealousy, affection--but the _active, altruistic impulses_ of
gallantry and self-sacrifice, which are really more essential to an
understanding of the essence of love, and a better test of it, than
the sentiments named by Spencer. He ignores also the absolutely
essential traits of individual preference and monopolism, besides
coyness, hyperbole, the mixed moods of hope and despair, and purity,
with the diverse emotions accompanying them. An effort to trace the
evolution of the ingredients of love was first made in my book, though
in a fragmentary way, in which respect the present volume will be
found a great improvement. Apart from the completion of the analysis
of love, my most important contribution to the study of this subject
lies in the recognition of the fact that, "love" being so vague and
comprehensive a term, the only satisfactory way of studying its
evolution is to trace the evolution of each of its ingredients
separately, as I do in the present volume in the long chapter entitled
"What Is Romantic Love?"

In _Romantic Love and Personal Beauty_ (180) I wrote that perhaps the
main reason why no one had anticipated me in the theory that love is
an exclusively modern sentiment was that no distinction had commonly
been made between romantic love and conjugal affection, noble examples
of the latter being recorded in countries where romantic love was not
possible owing to the absence of opportunities for courtship. I still
hold that conjugal love antedated the romantic variety, but further
study has convinced me that (as will be shown in the chapters on
Conjugal Love and on India, and Greece) much of what has been taken as
evidence of wifely devotion is really only a proof of man's tyrannic
selfishness which compelled the woman always to subordinate herself to
her cruel master. The idea on which I placed so much emphasis, that
opportunity for prolonged courtship is essential to the growth of
romantic love, was some years later set forth by Dr. Drummond in his
_Ascent of Man_ where he comments eloquently on the fact that
"affection needs time to grow."


The keynote of my first book lies of course in the distinction between
sensual love and romantic love. This distinction seemed to me so
self-evident that I did not dwell on it at length, but applied myself
chiefly to the task of proving that savages and ancient nations knew
only one kind, being strangers to romantic or pure love. When I wrote
(76) "No one, of course, would deny that sensual passion prevailed in
Athens; but sensuality is the very antipode of love," I never dreamed
that anyone would object to this distinction in itself. Great,
therefore, was my amazement when, on reading the London _Saturday
Review's_ comments on my book, I came across the following:

"and when we find Mr. Finck marking off Romantic Love not
merely from Conjugal Love, but from what he is pleased to
call 'sensuality,' we begin to suspect that he really does
not know what he is talking about."

This criticism, with several others similar to it, was of great use to
me, as it led to a series of studies, which convinced me that even at
the present day the nature of romantic love is not understood by the
vast majority of Europeans and Americans, many of them very estimable
and intelligent individuals.


Another London paper, the _Academy_, took me to task for using the
word "romantic" in the sense I applied to it. But in this case, too,
further research has shown that I was justified in using that word to
designate pure prematrimonial love. There is a passage in Steele's
_Lover_ (dated 1714) which proves that it must have been in common use
in a similar sense two centuries ago. The passage refers to "the reign
of the amorous Charles the Second," and declares that

"the licenses of that court did not only make the Love which
the Vulgar call Romantick, the object of Jest and Ridicule,
but even common Decency and Modesty were almost abandoned as
formal and unnatural."

Here there is an obvious antithesis between romantic and sensual. The
same antithesis was used by Hegel in contrasting the sensual love of
the ancient Greeks and Romans with what he calls modern "romantic"
love. Waitz-Gerland, too, in the six volumes of their _Anthropologie
der Naturvoelker_, repeatedly refer to (alleged) cases of "romantic
love" among savages and barbarians, having in all probability adopted
the term from Hegel. The peculiar appropriateness of the word romantic
to designate imaginative love will be set forth later in the chapter
entitled Sensuality, Sentimentality, and Sentiment. Here I will only
add an important truth which I shall have occasion to repeat
often--that _a romantic love-story is not necessarily a story of
romantic love_; for it is obvious, for instance, that an elopement
prompted by the most frivolous sensual passion, without a trace of
real love, may lead to the most romantic incidents.

In the chapters on affection, gallantry, and self-sacrifice, I shall
make it clear even to a Saturday Reviewer that the gross sensual
infatuation which leads a man to shoot a girl who refuses him, or a
tramp to assault a woman on a lonely road and afterward to cut her
throat in order to hide his crime, is absolutely antipodal to the
refined, ardent, affectionate Romantic Love which impels a man to
sacrifice his own life rather than let any harm or dishonor come to
the beloved.


Dr. Albert Moll of Berlin, in his second treatise on sexual
anomalies,[4] takes occasion to express his disbelief in my view that
love before marriage is a sentiment peculiar to modern man. He
declares that traits of such love occur even in the courtship of
animals, particularly birds, and implies that this upsets my theory.
On the same ground a reviewer in a New York evening paper accused me
of being illogical. Such criticisms illustrate the vague ideas
regarding evolution that are still current. It is assumed that all the
faculties are developed step by step simultaneously as we proceed from
lower to higher animals, which is as illogical as it would be to
assume that since birds have such beautiful and convenient things as
wings, and dogs belong to a higher genus of animals, therefore dogs
ought to have better wings than birds. Most animals are cleaner than
savages; why should not some of them be more romantic in their
love-affairs? I shall take occasion repeatedly to emphasize this point
in the present volume, though I alluded to it already in my first book
(55) in the following passage, which my critics evidently overlooked:

"In passing from animals to human beings we find at
first not only no advance in the sexual relations, but
a decided retrogression. Among some species of birds,
courtship and marriage are infinitely more refined and
noble than among the lowest savages, and it is
especially in their treatment of females, both before
and after mating, that not only birds but all animals
show an immense superiority over primitive man; for
male animals fight only among themselves and never
maltreat the females."


Notwithstanding this striking and important fact, there is a large
number of sentimental writers who make the extraordinary claim that
the lower races, however savage they may be in everything else, are
like ourselves in their amorous relations; that they love and admire
personal beauty just as we do. The main object of the present volume
is to demolish this doctrine; to prove that sexual refinement and the
sense of personal beauty are not the earliest but the latest products
of civilization. I have shown elsewhere[5] that Japanese civilization
is in many important respects far superior to ours; yet in their
treatment of women and estimate of love, this race has not yet risen
above the barbarous stage; and it will be shown in this volume that if
we were to judge the ancient Greeks and the Hindoos from this point of
view, we should have to deny them the epithet of civilized. Morgan
found that the most advanced of American Indians, the Iroquois, had no
capacity for love. His testimony in detail will be found in its proper
place in this volume, together with that of competent observers
regarding other tribes and races. Some of this evidence was known to
the founders of the modern science of sociology. It led Spencer to
write _en passant_ (_Pr. Soc_., I., Sec. 337, Sec.339) that "absence of the
tender emotion ... habitually characterizes men of low types;" and
that the "higher sentiments accompanying union of the sexes ... do not
exist among primitive men." It led Sir John Lubbock to write (50)
regarding the lowest races that "love is almost unknown among them;
and marriage, in its lowest phases, is by no means a matter of
affection and companionship."


These are casual adumbrations of a great truth that applies not only
to the lowest races (savages) but to the more advanced barbarians as
well as to ancient civilized nations, as the present volume will
attempt to demonstrate. To make my argument more impressive and
conclusive, I present it in a twofold form. First I take the fourteen
ingredients of love separately, showing how they developed gradually,
whence it follows necessarily that love as a whole developed
gradually. Then I take the Africans, Australians, American Indians,
etc., separately, describing their diverse amorous customs and
pointing out everywhere the absence of the altruistic, supersensual
traits which constitute the essence of romantic love as distinguished
from sensual passion. All this will be preceded by a chapter on "How
Sentiments Change and Grow," which will weaken the bias against the
notion that so elemental a feeling as sexual love should have
undergone so great a change, by pointing out that other seemingly
instinctive and unalterable feelings have changed and developed.


The inclusion of the civilized Greeks in a treatise on Primitive Love
will naturally cause surprise; but I cannot attribute a capacity for
anything more than primitive sensual love to a nation which, in its
prematrimonial customs, manifested none of the essential _altruistic_
traits of Romantic Love--sympathy, gallantry, self-sacrifice,
affection, adoration, and purity. As a matter of course, the
sensualism of a Greek or Roman is a much less coarse thing than an
Australian's, which does not even include kisses or other caresses.
While Greek love is not a sentiment, it may be sentimental, that is,
an _affectation of sentiment_, differing from real sentiment as
adulation does from adoration, as gallantry or the risking of life to
secure favors do from genuine gallantry of the heart and
self-sacrifice for the benefit of another. This important point which
I here superadd to my theory, was overlooked by Benecke when he
attributed a capacity for real love to the later Greeks of the
Alexandrian period.


One of the most important theses advanced in _Romantic Love and
Personal Beauty_ (323, 424, etc.), was that love, far from being
merely a passing episode in human life, is one of the most powerful
agencies working for the improvement of the human race. During the
reign of Natural Selection, before the birth of love, cripples, the
insane, the incurably diseased, were cruelly neglected and allowed to
perish. Christianity rose up against this cruelty, building hospitals
and saving the infirm, who were thus enabled to survive, marry, and
hand down their infirmities to future generations. As a mediator
between these two agencies, love comes in; for Cupid, as I have said,
"does not kill those who do not come up to his standard of health and
beauty, but simply ignores and condemns them to a life of
single-blessedness;" which in these days is not such a hardship as it
used to be. This thought will be enlarged in the last chapter of the
present volume, on the "Utility and Future of Love," which will
indicate how the amorous sense is becoming more and more fastidious
and beneficial. In the same chapter attention will be called, for the
first time, to the three great strata in the evolution of parental
love and morality. In the first, represented by savages, parents think
chiefly of their own comfort, and children get the minimum of
attention consistent with their preservation. In the second, which
includes most of the modern Europeans and Americans, parents exercise
care that their children shall make an advantageous marriage--that is
a marriage which shall secure them wealth or comfort; but the
frequency with which girls are married off to old, infirm, or unworthy
men, shows how few parents as yet have a thought of their
_grandchildren_. In the next stage of moral evolution, which we are
now entering, the grandchildren's welfare also will be considered. In
consequence of the persistent failure to consider the grandchildren,
the human race is now anything but a model of physical, intellectual,
and moral perfection. Luckily love, even in its sensual stages, has
counteracted this parental selfishness and myopia by inducing young
folks to marry for health, youth, and beauty, and creating an aversion
to old age, disease, and deformity. As love becomes more and more
fastidious and more regardful of intellectual worth and moral
beauty--that is becomes Romantic Love--its sway becomes greater and
greater, and the time will come when questions relating to it will
form the most important chapters in treatises on moral philosophy,
which now usually ignore them altogether.


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 (88) writes in regard to
California Indians that they listen to night noises with unspeakable

"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 them."

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 (511),

"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."

And Humboldt, who first noted the absence in Greek and Roman writings
of the admiration of romantic scenery, remarked (24):

"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 (103) 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,

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 (97):

"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 (266) 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

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.


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 (281):

"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 (154, 155), 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

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