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Primitive Love and Love-Stories by Henry Theophilus Finck

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the indestructible nobility of his soul."

Schlegel erred, therefore, when he maintained that Othello's jealousy
was of the sensual, Oriental sort. So far as it led to the murder, it
was; but Shakspere gave it touches which allied it to the true
jealousy of the heart of which Schlegel himself has aptly said that it
is "compatible with the tenderest feeling and adoration of the beloved
object." Of such tender feeling and adoration there is not a trace in
the passion of the Indian who bites off his wife's nose or lower lip
to disfigure her, or who ruthlessly slays her for doing once what he
does at will. Such expressions as "outraged affection," or "alienated
affection," do not apply to him, as there is no affection in the case
at all; no more than in that of the old Persian or Turk who sews up
one of his hundred wives in a sack and throws her into the river
because she was starving and would eat of the fruits of the tree of
knowledge. This Oriental jealousy is often a "dog-in-the-manger"
feeling. The Iroquois were the most intelligent of North American
Indians, yet in cases of adultery they punished the woman solely, "who
was supposed to be the only offender" (Morgan, 331). Affection is out
of the question in such cases, anger at a slave's disobedience, and
vengeance, being the predominant feelings. In countries where woman is
degraded and enslaved, as Verplanck remarks (III., 61),

"the jealous revenge of the master husband, for real or
imagined evil, is but the angry chastisement of an
offending slave, not the _terrible sacrifice of his own
happiness involved in the victim's punishment._ When
woman is a slave, a property, a thing, all that
jealousy may prompt is done, to use Othello's own
distinction, 'in hate' and 'not in love.'"

Another equally vital distinction between the jealousy of savagery and
civilization is indicated in these lines from _Othello_:

I had rather be a toad,
And live upon the vapor of a dungeon,
Than keep a corner in the thing I love
For other's uses.

And again:

I had been happy, if the general camp,
Pioners and all, had tasted her sweet body,
So I had nothing known.


It is the knowledge, or suspicion, that he has not a monopoly of his
wife that tortures Shakspere's Othello, and constitutes the essence of
his jealousy, whereas a savage is his exact antipode in that respect;
he cares not a straw if the whole camp shares the embraces of his
wife--_provided he knows it and is rewarded for it_. Wounded pride,
violated chastity, and broken conjugal vows--pangs which goad us into
jealousy--are considerations unknown to him. In other words, his
"jealousy" is not a solicitude for marital honor, for wifely purity
and affection, but simply a question of lending his property and being
paid for it. Thus, in the case of the Blackfeet Indians referred to a
moment ago, the author declares that while they mutilated erring wives
by cutting off their noses (the Comanches and other tribes, down to
the Brazilian Botocudos, did the same thing), they eagerly offered
their wives and daughters in exchange for a bottle of whiskey. In this
respect, too, this case is typical. Sutherland found (I., 184) that in
regard to twenty-one tribes of Indians out of thirty-eight there was
express record of unlimited intercourse before marriage and the
loaning or exchanging of wives. In seventeen he could not get express
information, and in only four was it stated that a chaste girl was
more esteemed than an unchaste one. In the chapter on Indifference to
Chastity I cited testimony showing that in Australia, the Pacific
Islands, and among aborigines in general, chastity is not valued as a
virtue. There are plenty of tribes that attempt to enforce it, but for
commercial, sensual, or at best, genealogical reasons, not from a
regard for personal purity; so that among all these lower races
jealousy in our sense of the word is out of the question.

Care must be taken not to be imposed on by deceptive facts and
inaccurate testimony. Thus Westermarck says (119) that

"in the Pelew Islands it is forbidden even to speak
about another man's wife or mention her name. In short,
the South Sea Islanders are, as Mr. Macdonald remarks,
generally jealous of the chastity of their wives."

Nothing could be more misleading than these two sentences. The men are
_not_ jealous of the women's _chastity_, for they unhesitatingly lend
them to other men; they are "jealous" of them simply as they are of
their other movable property. As for the Pelew Islanders in
particular, what Westermarck cites from Ymer is quite true; it is also
true that if a man beats or insults a woman he must pay a fine or
suffer the death penalty; and that if he approaches a place where
women are bathing he must put them on their guard by shouting. But all
these things are mere whimsicalities of barbarian custom, for the
Pelew Islanders are notoriously unchaste even for Polynesians. They
have no real family life; they have club-houses in which men consort
promiscuously with women; and no moral restraint of any sort is put
upon boys and girls, nor have they any idea of modesty or decency.[17]
(Ploss, II., 416; Kotzebue, III., 215.)

A century ago Alexander Mackenzie wrote (66) regarding the Knistenaux
or Cree Indians of the Northwest:

"It does not appear ... that chastity is considered by
them as a virtue; or that fidelity is believed to be
essential to the happiness of wedded life; though it
sometimes happens that the infidelity of a wife is
punished by the husband with the loss of her hair,
nose, and perhaps life; such severity proceeds from its
having been practised without his permission; for a
temporary exchange of wives is not uncommon; and the
offer of their persons is considered as a necessary
part of the hospitality due to strangers."

Of the Natchez Indians Charlevoix wrote (267): "There is no such thing
as jealousy in these marriages; on the contrary the Natchez, without
any ceremony, lend one another their wives." Concerning the Eskimos we
read in Bancroft:

"They have no idea of morality, and the marriage
relation sits so loosely as to hardly excite jealousy
in its abuse. Female chastity is held a thing of value
only as men hold property in it." "A stranger is always
provided with a female companion for the night, and
during the husband's absence he gets another man to
take his place" (I., 81, 80).

The evidence collected by him also shows that the Thlinkeets and
Aleuts freely exchanged or lent their wives. Of the coast Indians of
Southern Alaska and British Columbia, A.P. Niblack says (_Smithson.
Rep_., 1888, 347):

"Jealousy being unknown amongst the Indians, and
sanctioned prostitution a common evil, the woman who
can earn the greatest number of blankets or the largest
sum of money wins the admiration of others for herself
and a high position for her husband by her wealth."

In the same government reports (1886, Pt. I.) C. Willoughby writes of
the Quinault Agency Washington Indians: "In their domestic relations
chastity seems to be almost unknown." Of the Chippewayans Hearne
relates (129) that it is a very common custom among the men to
exchange a night's lodging with each other's wives. But this is so far
from being considered as an act which is criminal, that it is esteemed
by them as one of the strongest ties of friendship between two
families.[18] The Hurons and many other tribes from north to south had
licentious festivals at which promiscuous intercourse prevailed
betraying the absence of jealousy. Of the Tupis of Brazil Southey says
(I., 241): "The wives who found themselves neglected, consoled
themselves by initiating the boys in debauchery. The husbands seem to
have known nothing of jealousy." The ancient inhabitants of Venezuela
lived in houses big enough to hold one hundred and sixty persons, and
Herrera says of them:

"They observed no law or rule in matrimony, but took as
many wives as they would, and they as many husbands,
quitting one another at pleasure, without reckoning any
harm done on either part. There was no such thing as
jealousy among them, all living as best pleased them,
without taking offence at one another."

The most painstaking research has failed to reveal to me a single
Indian tribe in North or South America that showed a capacity for real
jealousy, that is, anguish based on a sense of violated wifely
chastity and alienated affection. The actions represented as due to
jealousy are always inspired by the desire for revenge, never by the
anguish of disappointed affection; they are done in hate, not in love.
A chief who kills or mutilates one of his ten wives for consorting
with another man without his consent, acts no more from jealousy,
properly so called, than does a father who shoots the seducer of his
daughter, or a Western mob that lynches a horse-thief. Among the
Australian aborigines killing an intriguing wife is an every-day
occurrence, though "chastity as a virtue is absolutely unknown amongst
all the tribes of which there are records," as one of the best
informed authorities, J.D. Wood, tells us (403). Detailed evidence
that the same is true of the aborigines of all the continents will be
given in later chapters. The natives usually share their females both
before and after marriage; monopoly of body and soul--of which true
jealousy is the guardian--is a conception beyond their moral horizon.
A few more illustrations may be added.

Burton (_T.T.G.L._, II., 27) cites a writer who says that the natives
of Sao Paulo had a habit of changing wives for a time, "alleging, in
case of reproof, that they are not able to eat always of the same
dish." Holub testifies (II., 83) that in South Africa jealousy "rarely
shows itself very prominently;" and he uses the word in the widest
sense. The fierce Masai lend their wives to guests. The Mpongwe of the
Gaboon River send out their wives--with a club if necessary--to earn
the wages of shame (Campiegne, 192). In Madagascar Ellis (137) found
sensuality gross and universal, though concealed. Unchastity in either
sex was not regarded as a vice, and on the birth of the king's
daughter "the whole capital was given up to promiscuous debauchery."
According to Mrs. French Sheldon (_Anth. Inst._, XXL, 360), all along
the east coast of Africa no shame attaches to unchastity before
marriage. It is needless to add that in all such cases punishment of a
wife cannot be prompted by real jealousy for her "chastity." It is
always a question of proprietorship. Cameron relates _(Across Africa_,
II., Chap. IV.) that in Urua the chief boasted that he exercised a
right to any woman who might please his fancy, when on his journeys
about the country.

"Morals are very lax throughout the country, and wives
are not thought badly of for being unfaithful; the
worst they may expect being severe chastisement from
the injured husband. But he never uses excessive
violence for fear of injuring a valuable piece of
household furniture."

When Du Chaillu travelled through Ashango Land King Quenqueza rose to
receive him.

"With the figurative politeness of a negro chief, he
assured me that his town, his forests, his slaves, his
wives, were mine (he was quite sincere with regard to
the last") (19).

Asia affords many instances of the absence of jealousy. Marco Polo
already noted that in Thibet, when travellers arrived at a place, it
was customary to distribute them in the houses, making them temporary
masters of all they contained, including the women, while their
husbands meanwhile lodged elsewhere. In Kamtschatka it was considered
a great insult if a guest refused a woman thus offered him. Most
astounding of all is what G.E. Robertson relates of the Kaffirs of
Hindu-Kush (553):

"When a woman is discovered in an intrigue, a great
outcry is made, and the neighbors rush to the scene
with much laughter. A goat is sent for on the spot for
a peace-making feast between the gallant and the
husband. Of course the neighbors also partake of the
feast; _the husband and wife both look very happy_, and
so does every one else except the lover, who has to pay
for the goat, and in addition will have to pay six cows
later on."

Here we see a great value attached apparently to conjugal fidelity,
but in reality an utter and ludicrous indifference to it.

Asia is also the chief home of polyandry, though, as we saw in the
preceding chapter, this custom has prevailed on other continents too.
The cases there cited to show the absence of monopoly also prove the
absence of jealousy. The effect of polyandry is thus referred to by
Colonel King (23):

"A Toda woman often has three or four husbands, who are
all brothers, and with each of whom she cohabits a
month at a time. What is more singular, such men as, by
the paucity of women among the tribe, are prevented
from obtaining a share in a wife, are allowed, with the
permission of the fraternal husbands, to become
temporary partners with them. Notwithstanding these
singular family arrangements, the greatest harmony
appears to prevail among all parties--husbands, wives,
and lovers."

Whatever may have been the causes leading to the strange custom of
marrying one woman to several men--poverty, the desire to reduce the
population in mountainous regions, scarcity of women due to female
infanticide, the need of protection of a woman during the absence of
one husband--the fact stares us in the face that a race of men who
calmly submit to such a disgusting practice cannot know jealousy. So,
too, in the cases of _jus primae noctis_ (referred to in the chapter
on Indifference to Chastity), where the men not only submitted to an
outrage so damnable to our sense of honor, affection, and monopoly,
but actually coveted it as a privilege or a religious blessing and
paid for it accordingly. Note once more how the sentiments associated
with women and love change and grow.

Petherick says (151) that among the Hassangeh Arabs, marriages are
valid only three or four days, the wives being free the rest of the
time to make other alliances. The married men, far from feeling this a

"felt themselves highly flattered by any attentions
paid to their better halves during their free-and-easy
days. They seem to take such attentions as evidence
that their wives are attractive."

A readiness to forgive trespasses for a consideration is widely
prevalent. Powers says that with the California Indians "no adultery
is so flagrant but the husband can be placated with money, at about
the same rate that would be paid for murder." The Tasmanians
illustrate the fact that the same tribes that are the most ferocious
in the punishment of secret amours--that is, infringements on their
property rights--are often the most liberal in lending their wives. As
Bonwick tells us (72), they felt honored if white men paid attention
to them. A circumstance which seems to have puzzled some naive
writers: that Australians and Africans have been known to show less
"jealousy" of whites than of their own countrymen, finds an easy
explanation in the greater ability of the white man to pay for the
husband's complaisance. In some cases, in the absence of a fine, the
husband takes his revenge in other ways, subjecting the culprit's wife
to the same outrage (as among natives of Guiana and New Caledonia) or
delivering his own guilty (or rather disobedient) wife to young men
(as among the Omahas) and then abandoning her. The custom of accepting
compensation for adultery prevailed also among Dyaks, Mandingoes,
Kaffirs, Mongolians, Pahari and other tribes of India, etc. Falkner
says (126) that among the Patagonians in cases of adultery the wife is
not blamed, but the gallant is punished

"unless he atones for the injury by some valuable
present. They have so little decency in this respect,
that oftentimes, at the command of the wizards, they
superstitiously send their wives to the woods to
prostitute themselves to the first person they meet."


Enough has been said to prove the incorrectness of Westermarck's
assertion (515) that the lack of jealousy is "a rare exception in the
human race." Real jealousy, as a matter of fact, is unknown to the
lower races, and even the feeling of revenge that passes by that name
is commonly so feeble as to be obliterated by compensations of a more
or less trifling kind. When we come to a stage of civilization like
that represented by Persians and other Orientals, or by the ancient
Greeks, we find that men are indeed no longer willing to lend their
wives. They seem to have a regard for chastity and a desire for
conjugal monopoly. Other important traits of modern jealousy are,
however, still lacking, notably affection. The punishments are
hideously cruel; they are still inflicted "in hate, not in love." In
other words, the jealousy is not yet of the kind which may form an
ingredient of love. Its essence is still "bloody thoughts and

Reich cites (256) a typical instance of Oriental ferocity toward an
erring wife, from a book by J.J. Strauss, who relates that on June 9,
1671, a Persian avenged himself on his wife for a trespass by flaying
her alive, and then, as a warning to other women, hanging up her skin
in the house. Strauss saw with his own eyes how the flayed body was
thrown into the street and dragged out into a field. Drowning in
sacks, throwing from towers, and other fiendish modes of vengeance
have prevailed in Persia as far back as historic records go; and the
women, when they got a chance, were no better than the men. Herodotus
relates how the wife of Xerxes, having found her husband's cloak in
the house of Masista, cut off his wife's breasts and gave them to the
dogs, besides mutilating her otherwise, as well as her daughter.

The monogamous Greeks were not often guilty of such atrocities, but
their custom (nearly universal and not confined to Athens, as is often
erroneously stated) of locking up their women in the interior of the
houses, shutting them off from almost everything that makes life
interesting, betrays a kind of jealousy hardly less selfish than that
of the savages who disposed of their wives as they pleased. It
practically made slaves and prisoners of them, quite in the Oriental
style. Such a custom indicates an utter lack of sympathy and
tenderness, not to speak of the more romantic ingredients of love,
such as adoration and gallantry; and it implies a supreme contempt for
and distrust of, character in wives, all the more reprehensible
because the Greeks did not value purity _per se_ but only for
genealogical reason, as is proved by the honors they paid to the
disreputable hetairai. There are surprisingly few references to
masculine jealousy in Greek erotic literature. The typical Greek lover
seems to have taken rivalry as blandly as the hero of Terence's play
spoken of in the last chapter, who, after various outbursts of
sentimentality, is persuaded, in a speech of a dozen lines, to share
his mistress with a rich officer. Nor can I see anything but maudlin
sentimentality in such conceits as Meleager utters in two of his poems
(_Anthology_, 88, 93) in which he expresses jealousy of sleep, for its
privilege of closing his mistress's eyes; and again of the flies which
suck her blood and interrupt her slumber. The girl referred to is
Zenophila, a common wanton (see No. 90). This is the sensual side of
the Greek jealousy, chastity being out of the question.

The purely genealogical side of Greek masculine jealousy is strikingly
revealed in the _Medea_ of Euripides. Medea had, after slaying her own
brother, left her country to go with Jason to Corinth. Here Jason,
though he had two children by her, married the daughter of the King
Creon. With brutal frankness, but quite in accordance with the selfish
Greek ideas, he tries to explain to Medea the motives for his second
marriage: that they might all dwell in comfort instead of suffering

"and that I might rear my sons as doth befit my house;
further, that I might be the father of brothers for the
children thou hast borne, and raise these to the same
high rank, uniting the family in one--_to my lasting
bliss_. Thou, indeed, hast no need of more children,
but me it profits to help my present family by that
which is to be. Have I miscarried here? Not even thou
wouldst say so unless a rival's charms rankled in thy
bosom. No, but you women have such strange ideas, that
you think all is well so long as your married life runs
smooth; but if some mischance occur to ruffle your
love, all that was good and lovely erst you reckon as
your foes. Yea, men should have begotten children from
some other source, no female race existing; thus would
no evil ever have fallen on mankind."

Jason, Greek-fashion, looked upon a woman's jealousy as mere unbridled
lust, which must not be allowed to stand in the way of the men's
selfish desire to secure filial worship of their precious shades after
death. As Benecke remarks (56): "For a woman to wish to keep her
husband to herself was a sign that she was at once unreasonable and
lascivious." The women themselves were trained and persuaded to take
this view. The chorus of Corinthian women admonishes Medea: "And if
thy lord prefers a fresh love, be not angered with him for that; Zeus
will judge 'twixt thee and him herein." Medea herself says to Jason:
"Hadst thou been childless still, I could have pardoned thy desire for
this new union." And again: "Hadst thou not had a villain's heart,
thou shouldst have gained my consent, then made this match, instead of
hiding it from those who loved thee"--a sentiment which would seem to
us astounding and inexplicable had we not became familiar with it in
the preceding pages relating to savages and barbarians, by whom what
we call infidelity was considered unobjectionable, provided it was not
done secretly.

By her subsequent actions Medea shows in other ways that her jealousy
is entirely of the primitive sort--fiendish revenge proceeding from
hate. Of the chorus she asks but one favor: "Silence, if haply I can
some way or means devise to _avenge_ me on my husband for this cruel
treatment;" and the chorus agrees: "Thou wilt be taking a just
vengeance on thy husband, Medea." Creon, having heard that she had
threatened with mischief not only Jason but his bride and her father,
wants her to leave the city. She replies, hypocritically:

"Fear me not, Creon, my position scarce is such that I
should seek to quarrel with princes. Why should I, for how
hast thou injured me? Thou hast betrothed thy daughter where
thy fancy prompted thee. No, 'tis my husband I hate."

But as soon as the king has left her, she sends to the innocent bride
a present of a beautifully embroidered robe, poisoned by witchcraft.
As soon as the bride has put it on she turns pale, foam issues from
her mouth, her eyeballs roll in their sockets, a flame encircles her,
preying on her flesh. With an awful shriek she sinks to the earth,
past all recognition save to the eye of her father, who folds her in
his arms, crying, "Who is robbing me of thee, old as I am and ripe for
death? Oh, my child! would I could die with thee!" And his wish is
granted, for he

"found himself held fast by the fine-spun robe...and then ensued
a fearful struggle. He strove to rise but she still held him
back; and if ever he pulled with all his might, from off his
bones his aged flesh he tore. At last he gave it up, and breathed
forth his soul in awful suffering; for he could no longer master
the pain."

Not content with this, Medea cruelly slays Jason's children--her own
flesh and blood--not in a frenzied impulse, for she has meditated that
from the beginning, but to further glut her revengeful spirit. "I did
it," she says to Jason, "to vex thy heart." And when she hears of the
effect of the garment she had sent to his bride, she implores the
messenger, "Be not so hasty, friend, but tell the manner of her death,
for thou wouldst give me double joy, if so they perished miserably."


A passion of which such horrors are a possible outcome may well have
led Euripides to write: "Ah me! ah me! to mortal man how dread a
scourge is love!" But this passion is not love, or part of love. The
horrors of such "jealousy" are often witnessed in modern life, but not
where true love--affection--ever had its abode. It is the jealousy of
the savage, which still survives, as other low phases of sexual
passion do. The records of missionaries and others who have dwelt
among savages contain examples of deeds as foul, as irrational, as
vindictive as Medea's; deeds in which, as in the play of Euripides,
the fury is vented on innocent victims, while the real culprit escapes
with his life and sometimes even derives amusement from the situation.
In _Oneota_ (187-90), Schoolcraft relates the story of an Indian's
wife who entered the lodge when his new bride was sitting by his side
and plunged a dagger in her heart. Among the Fuegians Bove found (131)
that in polygamous households many a young favorite lost her life
through the fury of the other wives. More frequently this kind of
jealousy vents itself in mutilations. Williams, in his book on the
Fijians (152), relates that one day a native woman was asked, "How is
it that so many of you women are without a nose?" The answer was: "It
grows out of a plurality of wives. Jealousy causes hatred, and then
the stronger tries to cut or bite off the nose of the one she hates,"
He also relates a case where a wife, jealous of a younger favorite,
"pounced on her, and tore her sadly with nails and teeth, and injured
her mouth by attempting to slit it open," A woman who had for two
years been a member of a polygamous family told Williams that
contentions among the women were endless, that they knew no comfort,
that the bitterest hatred prevailed, while mutual cursings and
recriminations were of daily occurrence. When one of the wives is so
unfortunate as to fall under the husband's displeasure too, the others
"fall upon her, cuffing, kicking, scratching, and even trampling on
the poor creature, so unmercifully as to leave her half dead." Bourne
writes (89), that Patagonian women sometimes "fight like tigers.
Jealousy is a frequent occasion. If a squaw suspects her liege lord of
undue familiarity with a rival, she darts upon the fair enchantress
with the fury of a wild beast; then ensues such a pounding,
scratching, hair-pulling, as beggars description." Meanwhile the gay
deceiver stands at a safe distance, chuckling at the fun. The
licentiousness of these Indians, he says, is equal to their cruelty.
Powers (238) gives this graphic picture of a domestic scene common
among the Wintun Indians of California. A chief, he says, may have two
or more wives, but the attempt to introduce a second frequently leads
to a fight.

"The two women dispute for the supremacy, often in a
desperate pitched battle with sharp stones, seconded by
their respective friends. They maul each other's faces
with savage violence, and if one is knocked down her
friends assist her to regain her feet, and the brutal
combat is renewed until one or the other is driven from
the wigwam. The husband stands by and looks placidly
on, and when all is over he accepts the situation,
retaining in his lodge the woman who has conquered the


As a rule, however, there is more bark than bite in the conduct of the
wives of a polygamous household, as is proved by the ease with which
the husband, if he cares to, can with words or presents overcome the
objections of his first wife to new-comers; even, for instance, in the
case of such advanced barbarians as the Omaha Indians, who are said to
have actually allowed a wife to punish a faithless husband--an
exception so rare as to be almost incredible. Dorsey says of the
Omahas (26):

"When a man wishes to take a second wife he always
consults his first wife, reasoning thus with her: 'I
wish you to have less work to do, so I think of taking
your sister, your aunt, or your brother's daughter for
my wife. You can then have her to aid you with your
work.' Should the first wife refuse, the man cannot
marry the other woman. Generally no objection is
offered, if the second woman be one of the kindred of
the first wife. Sometimes the wife will make the
proposition to her husband: 'I wish you to marry my
brother's daughter, as she and I are one flesh.'"

Concerning the inhabitants of the Philippine island of Mindanao, a
German writer says (_Zeit. fuer Ethn_., 1885, 12):

"The wives are in no way jealous of one another; on the
contrary, they are glad to get a new companion, as that
enables them to share their work with another."

Schwaner says of the Borneans that if a man takes a second wife he
pays to the first the _batu saki_, amounting to from sixty to one
hundred guilders, and moreover he gives her presents, consisting of
clothes, "in order to appease her completely," In reference to the
tribes of Western Washington and Northwestern Oregon, Gibbs says

"The accession of a new wife in the lodge very
naturally produces jealousy and discord, and the first
often returns for a time in dudgeon to her friends, to
be reclaimed by her husband when he chooses, perhaps
after propitiating her by some presents."

Such instances might be multiplied _ad libitum_.

In a still larger number of cases primitive woman's objection to
rivals is easily overcome by the desire for the social position,
wealth, and comfort which polygamy confers. I have already cited, in
the chapter on Honorable Polygamy, a number of typical incidents
showing how vanity, the desire to belong to a man who can afford
several wives, or the wish to share the hard domestic or field work
with others, often smothers the feeling of jealousy so completely that
wives laugh at the idea of having their husbands all to themselves,
beg them to choose other companions, or even use their own hard-earned
money to buy them for their husbands. As this point is of exceptional
importance, as evidencing radical changes in the ideas relating to
sexual relations--and the resulting feelings themselves--further
evidence is admissible.

Of the Plains Indians in general Colonel Dodge remarks (20):

"Jealousy would seem to have no place in the
composition of an Indian woman, and many prefer to be,
even for a time, the favorite of a man who already has
a wife or wives, and who is known to be a good husband
and provider, rather than tempt the precarious chances
of an untried man."

And again:

"I have known several Indians of middle age, with already
numerous wives and children, who were such favorites with
the sex that they might have increased their number of wives
to an unlimited extent had they been so disposed, and this,
too, from among the very nicest girls of the tribe."

E.R. Smith, in his book on the Araucanians (213-14) tells of a Mapuche
wife who, when he saw her,

"was frequently accompanied by a younger and handsomer
woman than herself, whom she pointed out, with evident
satisfaction, as her 'other self'--that is, her
husband's wife number two, a recent addition to the
family. Far from being dissatisfied, or entertaining
any jealousy toward the newcomer, she said that she
wished her husband would marry again; for she
considered it a great relief to have someone to assist
her in her household duties and in the maintenance of
her husband."

McLean, who spent twenty-five years among the Tacullies and other
Indians of the Hudson Bay region, says (301) that while polygamy
prevails "the most perfect harmony seems to subsist among them."
Hunter, who knew the Missouri and Arkansas Indians well, says (255)
that "jealousy is a passion but little known, and much less indulged,
among the Indians." In cases of polygamy the wives have their own
lodges, separated by a short distance. They "occasionally visit each
other, and generally live on the most friendly terms." But even this
separation is not necessary, as we see from Catlin, who relates (I.,
119) that among the Mandans it is common to see six or eight wives of
a chief or medicine man "living under one roof, and all apparently
quiet and contented."

In an article on the Zulus (_Humanitarian_, March, 1897), Miss Colenso
refers to the fact that while polygamy is the custom, each wife has
her own hut, wherefore

"you have none of the petty jealousies and quarrelling
which distinguish the harems of the East, among the
Zulu women, who, as a rule, are most friendly to each
other, and the many wives of a great chief will live in
a little colony of huts, each mistress in her own house
and family, and interchanging friendly visits with the
other ladies similarly situated."

But in Africa, too, separation is not essential to secure a peaceful
result. Paulitschke (_B.E.A.S_., 30) reports that among the Somali
polygamy is customary, two wives being frequent, and he adds that "the
wives live together in harmony and have their household in common."
Among the Abyssinian Arabs, Sir Samuel Baker found (127) that
"concubinage is not considered a breach of morality; neither is it
regarded by the legitimate wives with jealousy." Chillie (_Centr.
Afr_., 158), says of the Landamas and Nalous: "It is very remarkable
that good order and perfect harmony prevail among all these women who
are called to share the same conjugal couch." The same writer says of
the polygamous Foulahs (224):

"In general the women appear very happy, and by no
means jealous of each other, except when the husbands
make a present to one without giving anything to the

Note the last sentence; it casts a strong light on our problem. It
suggests that even where a semblance of jealousy is manifested by such
women it may often be an entirely different thing from the jealousy we
associate with love; envy, greed, or rivalry being more accurate terms
for it. Here is another instance in point. Drake, in his work on the
Indians of the United States has the following (I., 178):

"Where there is a plurality of wives, if one gets finer
goods than the others, there is sure to be some
quarrelling among the women; and if one or two of them
are not driven off, it is because the others have not
strength enough to do so. The man sits and looks on,
and lets the women fight it out. If the one he loves
most is driven off, he will go and stay with her, and
leave the others to shift for themselves awhile, until
they can behave better, as he says."

The Rev. Peter Jones gives this description (81) of a fight he
witnessed between the two wives of an Ojibway chief:

"The quarrel arose from the unequal distribution of a
loaf of bread between the children. The husband being
absent, the wife who had brought the bread to the
wigwam gave a piece of it to each child, but the best
and largest portion to her _own_. Such partiality
immediately led to a quarrel. The woman who brought the
bread threw the remainder in anger to the other; she as
quickly cast it back again; in this foolish way they
kept on for some time, till their fury rose to such a
height that they at length sprang at one another,
catching hold of the hair of the head; and when each
had uprooted a handful their ire seemed satisfied."

To make clear the difference between such ebullitions of temper and
the passion properly called jealousy, let us briefly sum up the
contents of this chapter. In its first stage it is a mere masculine
rage in presence of a rival. An Australian female in such a case
calmly goes off with the victor. A savage looks upon his wife, not as
a person having rights and feelings of her own, but as a piece of
property which he has stolen or bought, and may therefore do with
whatever he pleases. In the second stage, accordingly, women are
guarded like other movable property, infringement on which is fiercely
resented and avenged, though not from any jealous regard for chastity,
for the same husband who savagely punishes his wife for secret
adultery, willingly lends her to guests as a matter of hospitality, or
to others for a compensation. In some cases the husband's "wounded
feelings" may be cured by the payment of a fine, or subjecting the
culprit's wife to indignities. At a higher stage, where some regard is
paid to chastity--at least in the women reserved for genealogical
purposes--masculine jealousy is still of the sensual type, which leads
to the life-long imprisonment of women in order to enforce a fidelity
which in the absence of true love could not be secured otherwise. As
for the wives in primitive households, they often indulge in "jealous"
squabbles, but their passion, though it may lead to manifestations of
rage and to fierce and cruel fights, is after all only skin deep, for
it is easily overcome with soft words, presents, or the desire for the
social position and comfort which can be secured in the house of a man
who is wealthy enough to marry several women--especially if the
husband is rich and wise enough to keep the women in separate lodges;
though even that is often unnecessary.

There is no difficulty in understanding why primitive feminine
"jealousy," despite seeming exceptions, should have been so shallow
and transient a feeling. Everything conspired to make it so. From the
earliest times the men made systematic efforts to prevent the growth
of that passion in women because it interfered with their own selfish
desires. Hearne says of the women of the Northern Indians that "they
are kept so much in awe of their husbands, that the liberty of
thinking is the greatest privilege they enjoy" (310); and A.H. Keane
(_Journ. of Anthrop. Inst_., 1883) remarks that while the Botocudos
often indulge in fierce outbreaks of jealousy, "the women have not yet
acquired the right to be jealous, a sentiment implying a certain
degree of equality between the sexes." Everywhere the women were
taught to subordinate themselves to the men, and among the Hindoos as
among the Greeks, by the ancient Hebrews as well as by the mediaeval
Arabs freedom from jealousy was inculcated as a supreme virtue. Rachel
actually fancied she was doing a noble thing in giving her handmaids
to Jacob as concubines. Lane (246) quotes the Arab historian
El-Jabartee, who said of his first wife:

"Among her acts of conjugal piety and submission was
this that she used to buy for her husband beautiful
slave girls, with her own wealth, and deck them with
ornaments and apparel, and so present them to him
confidently looking to the reward and recompense which
she should receive [in Paradise] for such conduct."

"In case of failure of an heir," says Griffis, in his famous work on
Japan (557), "the husband is fully justified, often strongly advised
even by his wife, to take a handmaid to raise up seed to preserve
their ancestral line." A Persian instance is given by Ida Pfeiffer
(261), who was introduced at Tabreez to the wives of Behmen-Mirza,
concerning whom she writes:

"They presented to me the latest addition to the
harem--a plump brown little beauty of sixteen; and they
seemed to treat their new rival with great good nature
and told me how much trouble they had been taking to
teach her Persian."


Casting back a glance over the ground traversed, we see that women as
well as men--primitive, ancient, oriental--were either strangers to
jealousy of any kind, or else knew it only as a species of anger,
hatred, cruelty, and selfish sensuality; never as an ingredient of
love. Australian women, Lumholtz tells us (203), "often have bitter
quarrels about men whom they love[19] and are anxious to marry. If the
husband is unfaithful, the wife frequently becomes greatly enraged."
As chastity is not by Australians regarded as a duty or a virtue, such
conduct can only be explained by referring to what Roth, for instance,
says (141) in regard to the Kalkadoon. Among these, where a man may
have as many as four or five wives,

"the discarded ones will often, through jealousy, fight with
her whom they consider more favored; on such occasions they
may often resort to stone-throwing, or even use fire-sticks
and stone-knives with which to mutilate the genitals."

Similarly, various cruel disfigurements of wives by husbands or other
wives, previously referred to as customary among savages, have their
motive in the desire to mar the charms of a rival or a disobedient
conjugal slave. The Indian chief who bites off an intriguing wife's
nose or lower lip takes, moreover, a cruel delight at sight of the
pain he inflicts--a delight of which he would be incapable were he
capable of love. To such an Indian, Shakspere's lines

But O, what damned minutes tells he o'er
Who dotes yet doubts, suspects, yet strongly loves,

would be as incomprehensible as a Beethoven symphony. With his usual
genius for condensation, Shakspere has in those two lines given the
essentials of true jealousy--suspicion causing agony rather than
anger, and proceeding from love, not from hate. The fear, distress,
humiliation, anguish of modern jealousy are in the mind of the injured
husband. He suffers torments, but has no wish to torment either of the
guilty ones. There are, indeed, even in civilized countries, husbands
who slay erring wives; but they are not civilized husbands: like
Othello, they still have the taint of the savage in them. Civilized
husbands resort to separation, not to mutilation or murder; and in
dismissing the guilty wife, they punish themselves more than her--for
she has shown by her actions that she does not love him and therefore
cannot feel the deepest pang of the separation. There is no anger, no
desire for revenge.

How comes this gentle concord in the world,
That hatred is so far from jealousy?

It comes in the world through love--through the fact that a man--or a
woman--who truly loves, cannot tolerate even the thought of punishing
one who has held first place in his or her affections. Modern law
emphasizes the essential point when it punishes adultery because of
"alienation of the affections."


Thus, whereas the "jealousy" of the savage who is transported by his
sense of proprietorship to bloody deeds and to revenge is a most
ignoble passion, incompatible with love, the jealousy of modern
civilization has become a noble passion, justified by moral ideals and
affection--"a kind of godly jealousy which I beseech you call a
virtuous sin."

Where Love reigns, disturbing Jealousy
Doth call himself Affection's sentinel.

And let no one suppose that by purging itself of bloody violence,
hatred, and revenge, and becoming the sentinel of _affection_,
jealousy has lost any of its intensity. On the contrary, its depth is
quintupled. The bluster and fury of savage violence is only a
momentary ebullition of sensual passion, whereas the anguish of
jealousy as we feel it is

Agony unmix'd, _incessant_ gall,
Corroding every thought, and blasting all
Love's paradise.

Anguish of mind is infinitely more intense than mere physical pain,
and the more cultivated the mind, the deeper is its capacity for such
"agony unmix'd." Mental anguish doth, like a poisonous mineral, gnaw
the inwards, and create a condition in which "not poppy, nor
mandragora, nor all the drowsy syrups of the world shall ever
medicine" the victim to that sleep which he enjoyed before. His heart
is turned to stone; he strikes it and it hurts his hand. Trifles light
as air are proofs to him that his suspicions are realities, and life
is no longer worth living.

O now for ever
Farewell the tranquil mind! farewell content!
Farewell the plumed troop, and the big wars
That make ambition virtue!


The assertion that modern jealousy is a noble passion is of course to
be taken with reservations. Where it leads to murder or revenge it is
a reversion to the barbarous type, and apart from that it is, like all
affections of the mind, liable to abnormal and morbid states. Harry
Campbell writes in the _Lancet_ (1898) that

"the inordinate development of this emotion always betokens a
neurotic diathesis, and not infrequently indicates the oncoming
of insanity. It is responsible for much useless suffering and not
a little actual disease."

Dr. O'Neill gives a curious example of the latter, in the same
periodical. He was summoned to a young woman who informed him that she
wished to be cured of jealousy: "I am jealous of my husband, and if
you do not give me something I shall go out of my mind." The husband
protested his innocence and declared there was no cause whatever for
her accusations:

"The wife persisted in reiterating them and so the
wrangle went on till suddenly she fell from her chair
on the floor in a fit, the spasmodic movements of which
were so strange and varied that it would be almost
impossible to describe them. At one moment the patient
was extended at full length with her body arched
forward in a state of opisthotonos. The next minute she
was in a sitting position with the legs drawn up,
making, while her hands clutched her throat, a guttural
noise. Then she would throw herself on her back and
thrust her arms and legs about to the no small danger
of those around her. Then becoming comparatively quiet
and supine she would quiver all over while her eyelids
trembled with great rapidity. This state perhaps would
be followed by general convulsive movements in which
she would put herself into the most grotesque postures
and make the most unlovely grimaces. At last the fit
ended, and exhausted and in tears she was put to bed.
The patient was a lithe, muscular woman and to restrain
her movements during the attack with the assistance at
hand was a matter of impossibility, so all that could
be done was to prevent her injuring herself and to
sprinkle her freely with cold water. The
after-treatment was more geographical than medical. The
husband ceased doing business in a certain town where
the object of his wife's suspicions lived."

I have been told by a perfectly healthy married woman that when
jealous of her husband she felt a sensation as of some liquid welling
up in her throat and suffocating her. Pride came into play in part;
she did not want others to think that her husband preferred an
ignorant girl to her--a woman of great physical and mental charm.

Such jealousy, if unfounded, may be of the "self-harming" kind of
which one of Shakspere's characters exclaims "Fie! beat it hence!" Too
often, however, women have cause for jealousy, as modern civilized man
has not overcome the polygamous instincts he has inherited from his
ancestors since time immemorial. But whereas cause for feminine
jealousy has existed always, the right to feel it is a modern
acquisition. Moreover, while Apache wives were chaste from fear and
Greek women from necessity, modern civilized women are faithful from
the sense of honor, duty, affection, and in return for their devotion
they expect men to be faithful for the same reasons. Their jealousy
has not yet become retrospective, like that of the men; but they
justly demand that after marriage men shall not fall below the
standard of purity they have set up for the women, and they insist on
a conjugal monopoly of the affections as strenuously as the men do. In
due course of time, as Dr. Campbell suggests, "we may expect the
monogamous instinct in man to be as powerful as in some of the lower
animals; and feminine jealousy will help to bring about this result;
for if women were indifferent on this point men would never improve."


The jealousy of romantic love, preceding marriage, differs from the
jealousy of conjugal love in so far as there can be no claim to a
monopoly of affection where the very existence of any reciprocated
affection still remains in doubt. Before the engagement the uncertain
lover in presence of a rival is tortured by doubt, anxiety, fear,
despair, and he may violently hate the other man, though (as I know
from personal experience) not necessarily, feeling that the rival has
as much claim to the girl's attention as he has. Duels between rival
lovers are not only silly, but are an insult to the girl, to whom the
choice ought to be submitted and the verdict accepted manfully. A man
who shoots the girl herself, because she loves another and refuses
him, puts himself on a level below the lowest brute, and cannot plead
either true love or true jealousy as his excuse. After the engagement
the sense of monopoly and the consciousness of plighted troth enter
into the lover's feelings, and intruders are properly warded off with
indignation. In romantic jealousy the leading role is played by the
imagination; it loves to torture its victim by conjuring visions of
the beloved smiling on a rival, encircled by his arm, returning his
kisses. Everything feeds his suspicions; he is "dwelling in a
continual 'larum of jealousy." Oft his jealousy "shapes faults that
are not" and he taints his heart and brain with needless doubt. "Ten
thousand fears invented wild, ten thousand frantic views of horrid
rivals, hanging on the charms for which he melts in fondness, eat him
up." Such passion inflames love but corrodes the soul. In perfect
love, as I said at the beginning of this chapter, jealousy is
potential only, not actual.


When a man is in love he wears his heart on his sleeve and feels eager
to have the beloved see how passionately it throbs for her. When a
girl is in love she tries to conceal her heart in the innermost
recesses of her bosom, lest the lover discover her feelings
prematurely. In other words, coyness is a trait of feminine love--the
only ingredient of that passion which is not, to some extent, common
to both sexes. "The cruel nymph well knows to feign, ... coy looks and
cold disdain," sang Gay; and "what value were there in the love of the
maiden, were it yielded without coy delay?" asks Scott.

'Tis ours to be forward and pushing;
'Tis yours to affect a disdain,

Lady Montagu makes a man say, and Richard Savage sings:

You love; yet from your lover's wish retire;
Doubt, yet discern; deny, and yet desire.
Such, Polly, are your sex--part truth, part fiction,
Some thought, much whim, and all a contradiction.

"Part truth, part fiction;" the girl romances regarding her feelings;
her romantic love is tinged with coyness. "She will rather die than
give any sign of affection," says Benedick of Beatrice; and in that
line Shakspere reveals one of the two essential traits of genuine
modern coyness--_dissemblance of feminine affection_.

Was coyness at all times an attribute of femininity, or is it an
artificial product of modern social conditions and culture? Is coyness
ever manifested apart from love, or does its presence prove the
presence of love? These two important questions are to be answered in
the present section.


The opinion prevails that everywhere and always the first advances
were made by the men, the women being passive, and coyly reserved.
This opinion--like many other notions regarding the relations of the
sexes--rests on ignorance, pure ignorance. In collecting the scattered
facts bearing on this subject I have been more and more surprised at
the number of exceptions to the rule, if, indeed, rule it be. Not only
are there tribes among whom women _must_ propose--as in the Torres
Straits Islands, north of Australia, and with the Garos of India,
concerning whom interesting details will be given in later chapters;
but among many other savages and barbarians the women, instead of
repelling advances, make them.

"In all Polynesia," says Gerland (VI., 127), "it was a common
occurrence that the women wooed the men." "A proposal of marriage,"
writes Gill (_Savage Life in Polynesia_, II.), "may emanate with
propriety from a woman of rank to an equal or an inferior." In an
article on Fijian poetry (731-53), Sir Arthur Gordon cites the
following native poem:

The girls of Vunivanua all had lovers,
But I, poor I, had not even one.
Yet I fell desperately in love one day,
My eye was filled with the beauty of Vasunilawedua.
She ran along the beach, she called the canoe-men.
She is conveyed to the town where her beloved dwells.
Na Ulumatua sits in his canoe unfastening its gear.
He asks her, "Why have you come here, Sovanalasikula?"
"They have been falling in love at Vunivanua," she answers;
"I, too, have fallen in love. I love your lovely son,
Na Ulumatua rose to his feet. He loosened a tambua whale's
tooth from the canoe.
"This," he said, presenting it to her, "is my offering to
you for your return. My son cannot wed you, lady."
Tears stream from her eyes, they stream down on her breast.
"Let me only live outside his house," she says;
"I will sleep upon the wood-pile. If I may only light his
seluka [cigarrette] for him, I shall rejoice.
If I may only hear his voice from a distance, it will
suffice. Life will be pleasant to me."
Na Ulumatua replied, "Be magnanimous, lady, and return.
We have many girls of our own. Return to your own land.
Vasunilawedua cannot wed a stranger."
Sovanalasikula went away crying.
She returned to her own town, forlorn.
Her life was sadness.
Ia nam bosulu.

Tregear (102) describes the "wooing house" in which New Zealand girls
used to stand up in the dark and say: "I love so-and-so, I want him
for a husband;" whereupon the chosen lover, if willing, would say yes,
or cough to signify his assent. Among the Pueblo Indians

"the usual order of courtship is reversed; when a girl is
disposed to marry, she does not wait for a young man to
propose to her, but selects one to her own liking and
consults her father, who visits the parents of the youth and
acquaints them with his daughter's wishes. It seldom happens
that any objections to the match are made" (Bancroft, I.,

and concerning the Spokane Indians the same writer says (276) that a
girl "may herself propose if she wishes." Among the Moquis, "instead
of the swain asking the hand of the fair one, she selects the young
man who is to her fancy, and then her father proposes the match to the
sire of the lucky youth" (Schoolcraft, IV., 86). Among the Dariens,
says Heriot (325), "it is considered no mark of forwardness" in a
woman "openly to avow her inclination," and in Paraguay, too, women
were allowed to propose (Moore, 261). Indian girls of the Hudson River

"were not debarred signifying their desire to enter
matrimonial life. When one of them wished to be married, she
covered her face with a veil and sat covered as an
indication of her desire. If she attracted a suitor,
negotiations were opened with parents or friends, presents
given, and the bride taken" (Ruttenber).

A comic mode of catching a husband is described in an episode from the
tale "Owasso and Wayoond" (Schoolcraft, _A.R._ II., 210-11):

"Manjikuawis was forward in her advances toward him.
He, however, paid no attention to it, and shunned her.
She continued to be very assiduous in attending to his
wants, such as cooking and mending his mocassins. She
felt hurt and displeased at his indifference, and
resolved to play him a trick. Opportunity soon offered.
The lodge was spacious, and she dug a hole in the
ground, where the young man usually sat, covering it
very carefully. When the brothers returned from the
chase the young man threw himself down carelessly at
the usual place, and fell into the cavity, his head and
feet remaining out, so that he was unable to extricate
himself. 'Ha! ha!' cried Manjikuawis, as she helped him
out, 'you are mine, I have caught you at last, and I
did it on purpose.' A smile came over the young man's
face, and he said, 'So be it, I will be yours;' and
from that moment they lived happily as man and wife."

It was a common thing among various Indian tribes for the women to
court distinguished warriors; and though they might have no choice in
the matter, they could at any rate place themselves temptingly in the
way of these braves, who, on their part, had no occasion to be coy,
since they could marry all the squaws they pleased. The squaws, too,
did not hesitate to indulge, if not in two husbands, in more than one
lover. Commenting on the Mandans, for instance, Maximilian Prinz zu
Wied declares (II., 127) that "coyness is not a virtue of the Indian
women; they often have two or three lovers at a time." Among the
Pennsylvania Indians it was a common thing for a girl to make suit to
a young man.

"Though the first address may be by the man, yet the other
is the most common. The squaws are generally very immodest
in their words and actions, and will often put the young men
to the blush. The men commonly appear to be possessed of
much more modesty than the women." (Bancroft, II., 140.)

Even a coating of culture does not seem to curb the young squaw's
propensity to make the first advances. Captain R.H. Pratt (_U.S. Geol.
and G.S_., IX., 260), of the Carlisle School, relates an amusing story
of a Kiowa young man who, under a variety of circumstances, "never
cared for girl. 'But when Laura say she love me, then I began to care
for girl.'"

In his _First Footsteps_ (85, 86) Burton gives a glimpse of the
"coyness" of Bedouin women:

"We met a party of Esa girls, who derided my color and
doubted the fact of my being a Moslem. The Arabs
declared me to be a shaykh of shaykhs, and translated
to the prettiest of the party an impromptu proposal of
marriage. She showed but little coyness and stated her
price to be an Andulli or necklace, a couple of
Tobes--she asked one too many--a few handfuls of beads,
and a small present for her papa. She promised, naively
enough, to call next day and inspect the goods. The
publicity of the town did not deter her, but the
shamefacedness of my two companions prevented our
meeting again."

In his book on Southern Abyssinia Johnston relates how, while staying
at Murroo, he was strongly recommended to follow the example of his
companions and take a temporary wife. There was no need of hunting for
helpmates--they offered themselves of their own accord. One of the
girls who presented herself as a candidate was stated by her friends
to be a very strong woman, who had already had four or five husbands.
"I thought this a rather strange recommendation," he adds, "but it was
evidently mentioned that she might find favor in my eyes." He found
that the best way out of such a dilemma was to engage the first old
hag that came along and leave it to her to ward off the others.
Masculine coyness under such conditions has its risks. Johnston
mentions the case of an Arab who, in the region of the Muzeguahs,
scorned a girl who wanted to be his temporary wife; whereupon "the
whole tribe asserted he had treated them with contempt by his haughty
conduct toward the girl, and demanded to know if she was not good
enough for him." He had to give them some brass wire and blue sood
before he could allay the national indignation aroused by his refusal
to take the girl. Women have rights which must be respected, even in

In Dutch Borneo there is a special kind of "marriage by stratagem"
called _matep_. If a girl desires a particular man he is inveigled
into her house, the door is shut, the walls are hung with cloth of
different colors and other ornaments, dinner is served up and he is
informed of the girl's wish to marry him. If he declines, he is
obliged to pay the value of the hangings and the ornaments. (Roth,

"Uncertain, coy, and hard to please" obviously cannot be sung of such

In one of the few native Australian stories on record the two wives of
a man are represented as going to his brother's hut when he was
asleep, and imitating the voice of an emu. The noise woke him, and he
took his spear to kill them; but as soon as he ran out the two women
spoke and requested him to be their husband. (Wood's _Native Tribes_,

The fact that Australian women have absolutely no choice in the
assignment of husbands, must make them inclined to offer themselves to
men they like, just as Indian girls offer themselves to noted warriors
in the hope of thus calling attention to their personal attractions.
As we shall see later, one of the ways in which an Australian wins a
wife is by means of magic. In this game, as Spencer and Gillen tell us
(556), the women sometimes take the initiative, thus inducing a man to
elope with them.


The English language is a queer instrument of thought. While coyness
has the various meanings of shyness, modest reserve, bashfulness,
shrinking from advances or familiarity, disdainfulness, the verb "to
coy" may mean the exact opposite--to coax, allure, entice, woo, decoy.
It is in _this_ sense that "coyness" is obviously a trait of primitive
maidens. What is more surprising is to find in brushing aside
prejudice and preconceived notions, that among ancient nations too it
is in this second sense rather than in the first that women are "coy."
The Hebrew records begin with the story of Adam and Eve, in which Eve
is stigmatized as the temptress. Rebekah had never seen the man chosen
for her by her male relatives, yet when she was asked if she would go
with his servant, she answered, promptly, "I will go." Rachel at the
well suffers her cousin to kiss her at first sight. Ruth does all the
courting which ends in making her the wife of Boaz. There is no
shrinking from advances, real or feigned, in any of these cases; no
suggestion of disguised feminine affection; and in two of them the
women make the advances. Potiphar's wife is another biblical case. The
word coy does not occur once in the Bible.

The idea that women are the aggressors, particularly in criminal
amours, is curiously ingrained in the literature of ancient Greece. In
the _Odyssey_ we read about the fair-haired goddess Circe, decoying
the companions of Odysseus with her sweet voice, giving them drugs and
potions, making them the victims of swinish indulgence of their
appetites. When Odysseus comes to their rescue she tries to allure him
too, saying, "Nay, then, pat up your blade within its sheath, and let
us now approach our bed that there we too may join in love and learn
to trust each other." Later on Odysseus has his adventure with the
Sirens, who are always "casting a spell of penetrating song, sitting
within a meadow," in order to decoy passing sailors. Charybdis is
another divine Homeric female who lures men to ruin. The island nymph
Calypso rescues Odysseus and keeps him a prisoner to her charms, until
after seven years he begins to shed tears and long for home "because
the nymph pleased him no more." Nor does the human Nausicaea manifest
the least coyness when she meets Odysseus at the river. Though he has
been cast on the shore naked, she remains, after her maids have run
away alarmed, and listens to his tale of woe. Then, after seeing him
bathed, anointed, and dressed, she exclaims to her waiting maids: "Ah,
might a man like this be called my husband, having his home here and
content to stay;" while to him later on she gives this broad hint:
"Stranger, farewell! when you are once again in your own land,
remember me, and how before all others it is to me you owe the saving
of your life."

Nausicaea is, however, a prude compared with the enamoured woman as the
Greek poets habitually paint her. Pausanias (II., Chap. 31), speaking
of a temple of Peeping Venus says:

"From this very spot the enamoured Phaedra used to
watch Hippolytus at his manly exercises. Here still
grows the myrtle with pierced leaves, as I am told. For
being at her wit's ends and finding no ease from the
pangs of love, she used to wreak her fury on the leaves
of this myrtle."

Professor Rohde, the most erudite authority on Greek erotic
literature, writes (34):

"It is characteristic of the Greek popular tales which
Euripides followed, in what might be called his
tragedies of adultery, that they _always make the woman
the vehicle of the pernicious passion_; it seems as if
Greek feeling could not conceive of a _man_ being
seized by an unmanly soft desire and urged on by it to
passionate disregard of all human conventions and


Greek poets from Stesichorus to the Alexandrians are fond of
representing coy men. The story told by Athenaeus (XIV., ch. 11) of
Harpalyke, who committed suicide because the youth Iphiclus coyly
spurned her, is typical of a large class. No less significant is the
circumstance that when the coy backwardness happens to be on the side
of a female, she is usually a woman of masculine habits, devoted to
Diana and the chase. Several centuries after Christ we still find in
the romances an echo of this thoroughly Greek sentiment in the coy
attitude, at the beginning, of their youthful heroes.[20]

The well-known legend of Sappho--who flourished about a thousand years
before the romances just referred to were written--is quite in the
Greek spirit. It is thus related by Strabo:

"There is a white rock which stretches out from Leucas
to the sea and toward Cephalonia, that takes its name
from its whiteness. The rock of Leucas has upon it a
temple of Apollo, and the leap from it was supposed to
stop love. From this it is said that Sappho first, as
Menander says somewhere, in pursuit of the haughty
Phaon, urged on by maddening desire, threw herself from
its far-seen rocks, imploring thee [Apollo], lord and

Four centuries after Sappho we find Theocritus harping on the same
theme. His _Enchantress_ is a monologue in which a woman relates how
she made advances to a youth and won him. She saw him walking along
the road and was so smitten that she was prostrated and confined to
her bed for ten days. Then she sent her slave to waylay the youth,
with these instructions: "If you see him alone, say to him: 'Simaitha
desires you,' and bring him here." In this case the youth is not coy
in the least; but the sequel of the story is too bucolic to be told


It is well-known that the respectable women of Greece, especially the
virgins, were practically kept under lock and key in the part of the
house known as the gynaikonitis. This resulted in making them shy and
bashful--but not coy, if we may judge from the mirror of life known as
literature. Ramdohr observes, pertinently (III., 270):

"Remarkable is the easy triumph of lovers over the
innocence of free-born girls, daughters of citizens,
examples of which may be found in the _Eunuchus_ and
_Adelphi_ of Terence. They call attention to the low
opinion the ancients had of a woman's power to guard
her sensual impulses, and of her own accord resist
attacks on her honor."

The Abbe Dubois says the same thing about Hindoo girls, and the reason
why they are so carefully guarded. It is hardly necessary to add that
since no one would be so foolish as to call a man honest who refrains
from stealing merely because he has no opportunity, it is equally
absurd to call a woman honest or coy who refrains from vice only
because she is locked up all the time. The fact (which seems to give
Westermarck (64-65) much satisfaction), that some Australians,
American Indian and other tribes watch young girls so carefully, does
not argue the prevalence of chaste coyness, but the contrary. If the
girls had an instinctive inclination to repel improper advances it
would not be necessary to cage and watch them. This inclination is not
inborn, does not characterize primitive women, but is a result of
education and culture.


Greatly as Greeks and Indians differ in some respects, they have two
things in common--a warlike spirit and contempt for women. "When Greek
meets Greek then comes a tug of war," and the Indian's chief delight
is scalp hunting. The Greeks, as Rohde notes (42),

"depict their greatest heroes as incited to great deeds only
by eagerness for battle and desire for glory. The love of
women barely engages their attention transiently in hours of

Militarism is ever hostile to love except in its grossest forms. It
brutalizes the men and prevents the growth of feminine qualities,
coyness among others. Hence, wherever militarism prevails, we seek in
vain for feminine reserve. An interesting illustration of this may be
found in a brochure by Theodor Krabbes, _Die Frau im Altfranzoesischen
Karls-Epos_ (9-38). The author, basing his inferences on an exhaustive
study and comparison of the Chansons de Geste of the eleventh and
twelfth centuries, draws the following general conclusions:

"Girlish shyness is not a trait of the daughters, least
of all those of heathen origin. Masculine tendencies
characterize them from childhood. Fighting pleases them
and they like to look on when there is a battle....
Love plays an important role in nearly all the Chansons
de Geste.... The woman wooes, the man grants: nearly
always in these epics we read of a woman who loves,
rarely of one who is loved.... In the very first hour
of their acquaintance the girl is apt to yield herself
entirely to the chosen knight, and she persists in her
passion for him even if she is entirely repulsed. There
is no more rest for her. Either she wooes him in
person, or chooses a messenger who invites the coveted
man to a rendezvous. The heathen woman who has to guard
captured Franks and who has given her heart to one of
them, hies herself to the dungeon and offers him her
love. She begs for his love in return and seeks in
every way to win it. If he resists, she curses him,
makes his lot less endurable, withholds his food or
threatens him with death until he is willing to accede
to her wishes. If this has come to pass she overwhelms
him with caresses at the first meeting. She is eager to
have them reciprocated; often the lover is not tender
enough to please her, then she repeatedly begs for
kisses. She embraces him delightedly even though he be
in full armor and in presence of all his companions.
Girlish shyness and modest backwardness are altogether
foreign to her nature.... She never has any moral
scruples.... If he is unwilling to give up his
campaign, she is satisfied to let him go the next
morning if he will only marry her.

"The man is generally described as cold in love.
References to a knight's desire for a woman's love are
very scant, and only once do we come across a hero who
is quite in love. The young knight prefers more serious
matters; his first desire is to win fame in battle,
make rich booty.[21] He looks on love as superfluous,
indeed he is convinced that it incapacitates him from
what he regards as his proper life-task. He also fears
the woman's infidelity. If he allows her to persuade
him to love, he seeks material gain from it; delivery
from captivity, property, vassals.... The lover is
often tardy, careless, too deficient in tenderness, so
that the woman has to chide him and invite his
caresses. A rendezvous is always brought about only
through her efforts, and she alone is annoyed if it is
disturbed too soon. Even when the man desires a woman,
he hardly appears as a wooer. He knows he is sure of
the women's favor; they make it easy for him; he can
have any number of them if he belongs to a noble
family.... Even when the knight is in love--which is
very rare--the first advances are nearly always made by
the woman; it is she who proposes marriage.

"Marriage as treated in the epics is seldom based on
love. The woman desires wedlock, because she hopes
thereby to secure her rights and better her chances of
protection. It is for this reason that we see her so
often eagerly endeavoring to secure a promise of


Sufficient evidence has now been adduced to make it clear that the
first of the two questions posed at the outset of this chapter must be
answered in the negative. Coyness is _not_ an innate or universal
trait of femininity, but is often absent, particularly where man's
absorption in war and woman's need of protection prevent its growth
and induce the females to do the courting. This being the case and war
being the normal state of the lower races, our next task is to
ascertain what were the influences that induced woman to adopt the
habit of repelling advances instead of making them. It is one of the
most interesting questions in sexual psychology, which has never been
answered satisfactorily; it and gains additional interest from the
fact that we find among the most ancient and primitive races phenomena
which resemble coyness and have been habitually designated as such. As
we shall see in a moment, this is an abuse of language, confounding
genuine resistance or aversion with coyness.

Chinese maidens often feel so great an aversion to marriage as
practised in their country that they prefer suicide to it. Douglas
says (196) that Chinese women often ask English ladies, "Does your
husband beat you?" and are surprised if answered "No." The gallant
Chinaman calls his wife his "dull thorn," and there are plenty of
reasons apart from Confucian teachings why "for some days before the
date fixed, the bride assumes all the panoply of woe, and weeps and
wails without ceasing." She is about to face the terrible ordeal of
being confronted for the first time with the man who has been chosen
for her, and who may be the ugliest, vilest wretch in the
world--possibly even a leper, such cases being on record. Douglas
(124) reports the case of six girls who committed suicide together to
avoid marriage. There exist in China anti-matrimonial societies of
girls and young widows, the latter doubtless, supplying the experience
that serves as the motive for establishing such associations.

Descending to the lowest stratum of human life as witnessed in
Australia, we find that, as Meyer asserts (11), the bride appears
"generally to go very unwillingly" to the man she has been assigned
to. Lumholtz relates that the man seizes the woman by the wrists and
carries her off "despite her screams, which can be heard till she is a
mile away." "The women," he says, "always make resistance; for they do
not like to leave their tribe, and in many instances they have the
best of reasons for kicking their lovers." What are these reasons? As
all observers testify, they are not allowed any voice in the choice of
their husbands. They are usually bartered by their father or brothers
for other women, and in many if not most cases the husbands assigned
to them are several times their age. Before they are assigned to a
particular man the girls indulge in promiscuous intercourse, whereas
after marriage they are fiercely guarded. They may indeed attempt to
elope with another man more suited to their age, but they do so at the
risk of cruel injury and probable death. The wives have to do all the
drudgery; they get only such food as the husbands do not want, and on
the slightest suspicion of intrigue they are maltreated horribly.
Causes enough surely for their resistance to obligatory marriage. This
resistance is a frank expression of genuine unwillingness, or
aversion, and has nothing in common with real coyness, which signifies
the mere _semblance_ of unwillingness on the part of a woman who is at
least _half-willing_. Such expressions as Goldsmith's "the coy maid,
half willing to be pressed," and Dryden's

When the kind nymph would coyness feign,
And hides but to be found again,

indicate the nature of true coyness better than any definitions. There
are no "coy looks," no "feigning" in the actions of an Australian girl
about to be married to a man who is old enough to be her grandfather.
The "cold disdain" is real, not assumed, and there is no "dissemblance
of feminine affection."


The same reasoning applies to the customs attending wife-capturing in
general, which has prevailed in all parts of the world and still
prevails in some regions. To take one or two instances of a hundred
that might be cited from books of travel in all parts of the world:
Columbus relates that the Caribs made the capture of women the chief
object of their expeditions. The California Indians worked up their
warlike spirit by chanting a song the substance of which was, "let us
go and carry off girls" (Waitz, IV., 242). Savages everywhere have
looked upon women as legitimate spoils of war, desirable as concubines
and drudges. Now even primitive women are attached to their homes and
relatives, and it is needless to say their resistance to the enemy who
has just slain their father and brothers and is about to carry them
off to slavery, is genuine, and has no more trace of coyness in it
than the actions of an American girl who resists the efforts of
unknown kidnappers to drag her from her home.

But besides real capture of women there has existed, and still exists
in many countries, what is known as sham-capture--a custom which has
puzzled anthropologists sorely. Herbert Spencer illustrates it
(_P.S._, I., Sec. 288) by citing Crantz, who says, concerning the
Eskimos, that when a damsel is asked in marriage, she

"directly falls into the greatest apparent
consternation, and runs out of doors tearing her hair;
for single women always affect the utmost bashfulness
and aversion to any proposal of marriage, lest they
should lose their reputation for modesty."

Spencer also quotes Burckhardt, who describes how the bride among
Sinai Arabs defends herself with stones, even though she does not
dislike the lover; "for according to custom, the more she struggles,
bites, kicks, cries, and strikes, the more she is applauded ever after
by her own companions." During the procession to the husband's camp
"decency obliges her to cry and sob most bitterly." Among the
Araucanians of Chili, according to Smith (215) "it is a point of honor
with the bride to resist and struggle, however willing she may be."

While conceding that "the manners of the inferior races do not imply
much coyness," Spencer, nevertheless, thinks "we cannot suppose
coyness to be wholly absent." He holds that in the cases just cited
coyness is responsible for the resistance of the women, and he goes so
far as to make this coyness "an important factor," in accounting for
the custom of marriage by capture which has prevailed among so many
peoples in all parts of the world. Westermarck declares (388) that
this suggestion can scarcely be disproved, and Grosse (105) echoes his
judgment. To me, on the contrary, it seems that these distinguished
sociologists are putting the cart before the horse. They make the
capture a sequence of "coyness," whereas in truth the coyness (if it
may be so called) is a result of capture. The custom of wife capture
can be easily explained without calling in the aid of what we have
seen to be so questionable a thing as primitive female coyness.
Savages capture wives as the most coveted spoils of war. They capture
them, in other instances, because polygamy and female infanticide have
disturbed the equilibrium of the sexes, thus compelling the young men
to seek wives elsewhere than in their own tribes; and the same result
is brought about (in Australia, for instance), by the old men's habit
of appropriating all the young women by a system of exchange, leaving
none for the young men, who, therefore, either have to persuade the
married women to elope--at the risk of their lives--or else are
compelled to steal wives elsewhere. In another very large number of
cases the men stole brides--willing or unwilling--to avoid paying
their parents for them.


Thus the custom of real capture is easily accounted for. What calls
for an explanation is the _sham_ capture and resistance in cases where
both the parents and the bride are perfectly willing. Why should
primitive maidens who, as we have seen, are rather apt than not to
make amorous advances, repel their suitors so violently in these
instances of mock capture? Are they, after all, coy--more coy than
civilized maidens? To answer this question let us look at one of
Spencer's witnesses more carefully. The reason Crantz gives for the
Eskimo women's show of aversion to marriage is that they do it, "lest
they lose their reputation for modesty." Now modesty of any kind is a
quality unknown to Eskimos. Nansen, Kane, Hayes, and other explorers
have testified that the Eskimos of both sexes take off all their
clothes in their warm subterranean homes. Captain Beechey has
described their obscene dances, and it is well-known that they
consider it a duty to lend their wives and daughters to guests. Some
of the native tales collected by Rink (236-37; 405) indicate most
unceremonious modes of courtship and nocturnal frolics, which do not
stop even at incest. To suppose that women so utterly devoid of moral
sensibility could, of their own accord and actuated by modesty and
bashfulness manifest such a coy aversion to marriage that force has to
be resorted to, is manifestly absurd. In attributing their antics to
modesty, Crantz made an error into which so many explorers have
fallen--that of interpreting the actions of savages from the point of
view of civilization--an error more pardonable in an unsophisticated
traveller of the eighteenth century than in a modern sociologist.

If we must therefore reject Herbert Spencer's inference as to the
existence of primitive coyness and its consequences, how are we to
account for the comedy of mock capture? Several writers have tried to
crack the nut. Sutherland (I., 200) holds that sham capture is not a
survival of real capture, but "the festive symbolism of the contrast
in the character of the sexes--courage in the man and shyness in the
woman"--a fantastic suggestion which does not call for discussion,
since, as we know, the normal primitive woman is anything but shy.
Abercromby (I., 454) is another writer who believes that sham capture
is not a survival of real capture, but merely a result of the innate
general desire on the part of the men to display courage--a view which
dodges the one thing that calls for an explanation--the resistance of
the women. Grosse indulges in some curious antics (105-108). First he
asks: "Since real capture is everywhere an exception and is looked on
as punishable, why should the semblance of capture have ever become a
general and approved custom?" Then he asks, with a sneer, why
sociology should be called upon to answer such questions anyhow; and a
moment later he, nevertheless, attempts an answer, on Spencerian
lines. Among inferior races, he remarks, women are usually coveted as
spoils of war. The captured women become the wives or concubines of
the warriors and thus represent, as it were, trophies of their valor.
Is it not, therefore, inevitable that the acquisition of a wife by
force should be looked on, among warlike races, as the most honorable
way of getting her, nay, in course of time, as the only one worthy of
a warrior? But since, he continues, not all the men can get wives in
that way, even among the rudest tribes, these other men consoled
themselves with investing the peaceful home-taking of a bride also
with the show of an honorable capture.

In other words, Grosse declares on one page that it is absurd to
derive approved sham capture from real capture because real capture is
everywhere exceptional only and is always considered punishable; yet
two pages later he argues that sham capture _is_ derived from real
capture because the latter is so honorable! As a matter of fact, among
the lowest races known, wife-stealing is not considered honorable.
Regarding the Australians, Curr states distinctly (I., 108) that it
was not encouraged because it was apt to involve a whole tribe in war
for one man's sake. Among the North American Indians, on the other
hand, where, as we saw in the chapter on Honorable Polygamy, a
wife-stealer is admired by both men and women, sham capture does _not_
prevail. Grosse's argument, therefore, falls to the ground.


Prior to all these writers Sir John Lubbock advanced (98) still
another theory of capture, real and sham. Believing that men once had
all their wives in common, he declares that

"capture, and capture alone, could originally give a
man the right to monopolize a woman to the exclusion of
his fellow-clansmen; and that hence, even after all
necessity for actual capture had long ceased, the
symbol remained; capture having, by long habit, come to
be received as a necessary preliminary to marriage."

This theory has the same shortcoming as the others. While accounting
for the capture, it does not explain the resistance of the women. In
real capture they had real reasons for kicking, biting, and howling,
but why should they continue these antics in cases of sham capture?
Obviously another factor came into play here, which has been strangely
overlooked--parental persuasion or command. Among savages a father
owns his daughter as absolutely as his dog; he can sell or exchange
her at pleasure; in Australia, "swapping" daughters or sisters is the
commonest mode of marriage. Now, stealing brides, or eloping to avoid
having to pay for them, is of frequent occurrence everywhere among
uncivilized races. To protect themselves against such loss of personal
property it must have occurred to parents at an early date that it
would be wise to teach their daughters to resist all suitors until it
has become certain that their intentions are honorable--that is, that
they intend to pay. In course of time such teaching (strengthened by
the girls' pride at being purchased for a large sum) would assume the
form of an inviolable command, having the force of a taboo and, with
the stubbornness peculiar to many social customs, persisting long
after the original reasons have ceased to exist.

In other words, I believe that the peculiar antics of the brides in
cases of sham capture are neither due to innate feminine coyness nor
are they a direct survival of the genuine resistance made in real
capture; but that they are simply a result of parental dictation which
assigns to the bride the role she must play in the comedy of
"courtship." I find numerous facts supporting this view, especially in
Reinsberg-Dueringsfeld's _Hochzeitsbuch_ and Schroeder's
_Hochzeitsgebraeuche der Esten_.

Describing the marriage customs of the Mordvins, Mainow says that the
bridegroom sneaks into the bride's house before daybreak, seizes her
and carries her off to where his companions are waiting with their
wagons. "Etiquette," he adds, "_demands_ she should resist violently
and cry loudly, even if she is entirely in favor of the elopement."
Among the Votyaks girl-stealing (kukem) occurs to this day. If the
father is unwilling or asks too much, while the young folks are
willing, the girl goes to work in the field and the lover carries her
off. _On the way to his house she is cheerful, but when they reach the
lover's house she begins to cry and wail_, whereupon she is locked up
in a cabin that has no window. The father, having found out where she
is, comes and demands payment. If the lover offers too little, the
parent plies his whip on him. Among the Ostyaks such elopements, to
avoid payment, are frequent. Regarding the Esthonians, Schroeder says
(40): "When the intermediary comes, the girl _must_ conceal herself in
some place until she is either found, _with her father's consent_,
or appears of her own accord."

In the old epic "Kalewipoeg," Salme hides in the garret and Linda in
the bath-room, and refuse to come out till after much coaxing and


The words I have italicized indicate the passive role played by the
girls, who simply carry out the instructions given to them. The
parents are the stage-managers, and they know very well what they
want--money or brandy. Among the Mordvins, as soon as the suitor and
his friends are seen approaching the bride's house, it is barricaded,
and the defenders ask, "Who are you?" The answer is, "Merchants."
"What do you wish?" "Living goods." "We do not trade!" "We shall take
her by force." A show of force is made, but finally the suitors are
admitted, after paying twenty kopeks. In Little Russia it is customary
to barricade the door of the bride's house with a wheel, but after
offering a bottle of brandy as a "pass" the suitor's party is allowed
to enter.

Among the Esthonians custom _demands_ (Schroeder, 36), that a comedy
like the following be enacted. The intermediary comes to the bride's
house and pretends that he has lost a cow or a lamb, and asks
permission to hunt for it. The girl's relatives at first stubbornly
deny having any knowledge of its whereabouts, but finally they allow
the suitors to search, and the bride is usually found without much
delay. In Western Prussia (Berent district), after the bridegroom has
made his terms with the bride and her parents, he comes to their house
and says: "We were out hunting and saw a wounded deer run into this
house. May we follow its tracks?" Permission is granted, whereupon the
men start in pursuit of the bride, who has hidden away with the other
village maidens. At last the "hound"--one of the bridegroom's
companions--finds her and brings her to the lover.

Similar customs have prevailed in parts of Russia, Roumania, Servia,
Sardinia, Hungary, and elsewhere. In Old Finland the comedy continues
even after the nuptial knot has been tied. The bridal couple return
each to their home. Soon the groom appears at the bride's house and
demands to be admitted. Her father refuses to let him in. A "pass" is
thereupon produced and read, and this, combined with a few presents,
finally secures admission. In some districts the bride remains
invisible even during the wedding-dinner, and it is "good form" for
her to let the guests wait as long as possible, and not to appear
until after considerable coaxing by her mother. When a Votyak
bridegroom comes after the bride on the wedding-day she is denied to
him three times. After that she is searched for, dragged from her
hiding-place, and her face covered with a cloth, while she screams and
struggles. Then she is carried to the yard, placed on a blanket with
her face down, and the bridegroom belabors her with a stick on a
pillow which has been tied on her back. After that she becomes
obedient and amiable. A Mordvin bride must try to escape from the
wagon on the way to the church. In Old Finland the bride was
barricaded in her house even after the wedding, and the Island Swedes
have the same custom. This burlesque of bridal resistance after
marriage occurs also among the wild tribes of India. "After remaining
with her husband for ten days only," writes Dalton (192), "it is _the
correct thing_ for the wife to run away from him, and tell all her
friends that she loves him not and will see him no more." The
husband's duty is to seek her eagerly.

"I have seen a young wife thus found and claimed, and borne
away, screeching and struggling in the arms of her husband,
from the midst of a crowded bazaar. No one interferes on
these occasions."

More than enough has now been said to prove that in cases of sham
capture the girls simply follow their village customs blindly. Left to
themselves they might act very differently, but as it is, all the
girls in each district _must_ do the same thing, however silly. About
the real feelings of the girls these comedies tell us nothing
whatever. With coyness--that is, a woman's concealment of her feelings
toward a man she likes--these actions have no more to do than the man
in the moon has with anthropology. Least of all do they tell us
anything about love, for the girls must all act alike, whether they
favor a man or not. Regarding the absence of love we have, moreover,
the direct testimony of Dr. F. Kreutzwald (Schroeder, 233). That
marriages are made in heaven is, he declares, true in a certain sense,
so far as the Esthonians are concerned; for "the parties concerned
usually play a passive role.... Love is not one of the requisites, it
is an unknown phenomenon." Utilitarianism, he adds, is the basis of
their marriages. The suitor tries to ascertain if the girl he wants is
a good worker; to find this out he may even watch her secretly while
she is spinning, thrashing, or combing flax.

"Most of the men proceed at random, and it is not unusual
for a suitor who has been refused in one place and another
to proceed at once to a third or fourth.... Many a
bridegroom sees his bride for the first time at the ceremony
of the priestly betrothal, and he cannot therefore be blamed
for asking: 'Which of these girls is my bride?'"


So far our search for that coyness which is an ingredient of modern
love has been in vain. At the same time it is obvious that since
coyness is widely prevalent at the present day it must have been in
the past of use to women, else it would not have survived and
increased. The question is: how far down in the scale of civilization
do we find traces of it? The literature of the ancient Greeks
indicates that, in a certain phase and among certain classes, it was
known to them. True, the respectable women, being always locked up and
having no choice in the selecting of their partners, had no occasion
for the exercise of any sort of coyness. But the hetairai appear to
have understood the advantages of assumed disdain or indifference in
making a coveted man more eager in his wooing. In the fifteenth of
Lucian's [Greek: Etairikoi dialogoi] we read about a wanton who locked
her door to her lover because he had refused to pay her two talents
for the privilege of exclusive possession. In other cases, the poets
still feel called upon to teach these women how to make men submissive
by withholding caresses from them. Thus in Lucian, Pythias exclaims:

"To tell the truth, dear Joessa, you yourself spoiled
him with your excessive love, which you even allowed
him to notice. You should not have made so much of him:
men, when they discover that, easily become
overweening. Do not weep, poor girl! Follow my advice
and keep your door locked once or twice when he tries
to see you again. You will find that that will make him
flame up again and become frantic with love and

In the third book of his treatise on the Art of Love, Ovid advises
women (of the same class) how to win men. He says, in substance:

"Do not answer his letters too soon; all delay inflames
the lover, provided it does not last too long.... What
is too readily granted does not long retain love. Mix
with the pleasure you give mortifying refusals, make
him wait in your doorway; let him bewail the 'cruel
door;' let him beg humbly, or else get angry and
threaten. Sweet things cloy, tonics are bitter."


Feigned unwillingness or indifference in obedience to such advice may
perhaps be called coyness, but it is only a coarse primitive phase of
that attitude, based on sordid, mercenary motives, whereas true modern
coyness consists in an impulse, grounded in modesty, to conceal
affection. The germs of Greek venal coyness for filthy lucre may be
found as low down as among the Papuan women who, as Bastian notes
(Ploss, I., 460) exact payment in shell-money for their caresses. Of
the Tongans, highest of all Polynesians, Mariner says (Martin, II.,

"It must not be supposed that these women are always
easily won; the greatest attentions and fervent
solicitations are sometimes requisite, even though
there be no other lover in the way. This happens
sometimes from a spirit of coquetry, at other times
from a dislike to the party, etc."

Now coquetry is a cousin of coyness, but in whatever way this Tongan
coquetry may manifest itself (no details are given) it certainly lacks
the regard for modesty and chastity which is essential to modern
coyness; for, as the writer just referred to attests, Tongan girls are
permitted to indulge in free intercourse before marriage, the only
thing liable to censure being a too frequent change of lovers.

That the anxious regard for chastity, modesty, decorum, which cannot
be present in the coquetry of these Tongan women, is one of the
essential ingredients of modern coyness has long been felt by the
poets. After Juliet has made her confession of love which Romeo
overhears in the dark, she apologizes to him because she fears that he
might attribute her easy yielding to light love. Lest he think her too
quickly won she "would have frowned and been perverse, and said him
nay." Then she begs him trust she'll "_prove more true_ than those
that have more cunning to be strange." Wither's "That coy one in the
winning, _proves a true one_ being won," expresses the same sentiment.


Man's esteem for virtues which he does not always practise himself, is
thus responsible, in part at least, for the existence of modern
coyness. Other factors, however, aided its growth, among them man's
fickleness. If a girl did not say nay (when she would rather say yes),
and hold back, hesitate, and delay, the suitor would in many cases
suck the honey from her lips and flit away to another flower.
Cumulative experience of man's sensual selfishness has taught her to
be slow in yielding to his advances. Experience has also taught women
that men are apt to value favors in proportion to the difficulty of
winning them, and the wisest of them have profited by the lesson.
Callimachus wrote, two hundred and fifty years before Christ, that his
love was "versed in pursuing what flies (from it), but flits past what
lies in its mid path"--a conceit which the poets have since echoed a
thousand times. Another very important thing that experience taught
women was that by deferring or withholding their caresses and smiles
they could make the tyrant man humble, generous, and gallant. Girls
who do not throw themselves away on the first man who happens along,
also have an advantage over others who are less fastidious and coy,
and by transmitting their disposition to their daughters they give it
greater vogue. Female coyness prevents too hasty marriages, and the
girls who lack it often live to repent their shortcomings at leisure.
Coyness prolongs the period of courtship and, by keeping the suitor in
suspense and doubt, it develops the imaginative, sentimental side of


Sufficient reasons, these, why coyness should have gradually become a
general attribute of femininity. Nevertheless, it is an artificial
product of imperfect social conditions, and in an ideal world women
would not be called upon to romance about their feelings. As a mark of
modesty, coyness will always have a charm for men, and a woman devoid
of it will never inspire genuine love. But what I have elsewhere
called "spring-chicken coyness"--the disposition of European girls to
hide shyly behind their mammas--as chickens do under a hen at the
sight of a hawk--is losing its charm in face of the frank
confidingness of American girls in the presence of gentlemen; and as
for that phase of coyness which consists in concealing affection for a
man, girls usually manage to circumvent it in a more or less refined
manner. Some girls who are coarse, or have little control of their
feelings, propose bluntly to the men they want. I myself have known
several such cases, but the man always refused. Others have a thousand
subtle ways of betraying themselves without actually "giving
themselves away." A very amusing story of how an ingenious maiden
tries to bring a young man to bay has been told by Anthony Hope.
Dowden calls attention to the fact that it is Juliet "who proposes and
urges on the sudden marriage." Romeo has only spoken of love; it is
she who asks him, if his purpose be marriage, to send her word next
day. In _Troilus and Cressida_ (III., 2), the heroine exclaims:

But, though I loved you well, I woo'd you not;
And yet, good faith, I wished myself a man,
Or that we women had men's privilege
Of speaking first.

In his _Old Virginia_ (II., 127) John Fiske tells a funny story of how
Parson Camm was wooed. A young friend of his, who had been courting
Miss Betsy Hansford of his parish, asked him to assist him with his
eloquence. The parson did so by citing to the girl texts from the
Bible enjoining matrimony as a duty. But she beat him at his own game,
telling him to take his Bible when he got home and look at 2 Sam. xii.
7, which would explain her obduracy. He did so, and found this: "And
Nathan said to David, _thou art the man._" The parson took the
hint--and the girl.


_She never told her love_;
But let concealment, like a worm i' the bud,
Feed on her damask cheek: she pined in thought;
And, with a green and yellow melancholy,
She sat, like Patience on a monument,
_Smiling at grief. Was not this love indeed_?

asks Viola in _As You Like It_. It _was_ love indeed; but only two
phases of it are indicated in the lines quoted--coyness ("She never
told her love") and the mixture of emotions ("smiling at grief"),
which is another characteristic of love. Romantic love is a pendulum
swinging perpetually between hope and despair. A single unkind word or
sign of indifference may make a lover feel the agony of death, while a
smile may raise him from the abyss of despair to heavenly heights of
bliss. As Goethe puts it:

Himmelhoch jauchzend
Zum Tode betruebt,
Gluecklich allein
Ist die Seele die liebt.


When a Marguerite plucks the petals of a marguerite, muttering "he
loves me--he loves me not," her heart flutters in momentary anguish
with every "not," till the next petal soothes it again.

I cannot bound a pitch above dull woe;
Under love's heavy burden do I sink,

wails Romeo; and again:

Why then, O brawling love! O loving hate!
O anything, of nothing first create!
O heavy lightness! serious vanity!
Misshapen chaos of well-seeming forms!
Feather of lead, bright smoke, cold fire, sick health!

* * * * *

Love is a smoke raised with the fume of sighs;
Being purged, a fire sparkling in lovers' eyes;
Being vex'd, a sea nourish'd with lovers' tears;
What is it else? a madness most discreet,
A choking gall and a preserving sweet.

In commenting on Romeo, who in his love for Rosaline indulges in
emotion for emotion's sake, and "stimulates his fancy with the
sought-out phrases, the curious antitheses of the amorous dialect of
the period," Dowden writes:

"Mrs. Jameson has noticed that in _All's Well that Ends
Well_ (I., 180-89), Helena mockingly reproduces this style
of amorous antithesis. Helena, who lives so effectively in
the world of fact, is contemptuous toward all unreality and

Now, it is quite true that expressions like "cold fire" and "sick
health" sound unreal and affected to sober minds, and it is also true
that many poets have exercised their emulous ingenuity in inventing
such antitheses just for the fun of the thing and because it has been
the fashion to do so. Nevertheless, with all their artificiality, they
were hinting at an emotional phenomenon which actually exists.
Romantic love is in reality a state of mind in which cold and heat may
and do alternate so rapidly that "cold fire" seems the only proper
expression to apply to such a mixed feeling. It is literally true
that, as Bailey sang, "the sweetest joy, the wildest woe is love;"
literally true that "the sweets of love are washed with tears," as
Carew wrote, or, as H.K. White expressed it, "'Tis painful, though
'tis sweet to love." A man who has actually experienced the feeling of
uncertain love sees nothing unreal or affected in Tennyson's

The cruel madness of love
The honey of poisoned flowers,

or in Drayton's

'Tis nothing to be plagued in hell
But thus in heaven tormented,

or in Dryden's

I feed a flame within, which so torments me
That it both pains my heart, and yet enchants me:
'Tis such a pleasing smart, and I so love it,
That I had rather die than once remove it,

or in Juliet's

Good-night! good-night! parting is such sweet sorrow,
That I shall say good-night till it be morrow.

This mysterious mixture of moods, constantly maintained through the
alternations of hope and doubt, elation and despair,

And hopes, and fears that kindle hope,
An undistinguishable throng

as Coleridge puts it; or

Where hot and cold, where sharp and sweet,
In all their equipages meet;
Where pleasures mixed with pains appear,
Sorrow with joy, and hope with fear

as Swift rhymes it, is thus seen to be one of the essential and most
characteristic ingredients of modern romantic love.


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