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Primitive Love and Love-Stories by Henry Theophilus Finck

Part 4 out of 19

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Here, again, the question confronts us, How far down among the strata
of human life can we find traces of this ingredient of love? Do we
find it among the Eskimos, for instance? Nansen relates (II., 317),

"In the old Greenland days marriage was a simple and
speedy affair. If a man took a fancy to a girl, he
merely went to her home or tent, caught her by the hair
or anything else which offered a hold, and dragged her
off to his dwelling without further ado."

Nay, in some cases, even this unceremonious "courtship" was
perpetrated by proxy! The details regarding the marriage customs of
lower races already cited in this volume, with the hundreds more to be
given in the following pages, cannot fail to convince the reader that
primitive courtship--where there is any at all--is habitually a
"simple and speedy affair"--not always as simple and speedy as with
Nansen's Greenlanders, but too much so to allow of the growth and play
of those mixed emotions which agitate modern swains. Fancy the
difference between the African of Yariba who, as Lander tells us (I.,
161), "thinks as little of taking a wife as of cutting an ear of
corn," and the modern lover who suffers the tortures of the inferno
because a certain girl frowns on him, while her smiles may make him so
happy that he would not change places with a king, unless his beloved
were to be queen. Savages cannot experience such extremes of anguish
and rapture, because they have no imagination. It is only when the
imagination comes into play that we can look for the joys and sorrows,
the hopes and fears, that help to make up the sum and substance of
romantic love.


At the same time it would be a great mistake to assume that the
manifestation of mixed moods proves the presence of romantic love.
After all, the alternation of hope and despair which produces those
bitter-sweet paradoxes of the varying and mixed emotions, is one of
the _selfish_ aspects of passion: the lover fears or hopes for
_himself_, not for the other. There is, therefore, no reason why we
should not read of troubled or ecstatic lovers in the poems of the
ancient writers, who, while knowing love only as selfish lust,
nevertheless had sufficient imagination to suffer the agonies of
thwarted purpose and the delights of realized hopes. As a boat-load of
shipwrecked sailors, hungry and thirsty, may be switched from deadly
despair to frantic joy by the approach of a rescuing vessel, so may a
man change his moods who is swayed by what is, next to hunger and
thirst, the most powerful and imperious of all appetites. We must not,
therefore, make the reckless assumption that the Greek and Sanscrit
writers must have known romantic love, because they describe men and
women as being prostrated or elated by strong passion. When Euripides
speaks of love as being both delectable and painful; when Sappho and
Theocritus note the pallor, the loss of sleep, the fears and tears of
lovers; when Achilles Tatius makes his lover exclaim, at sight of
Leucippe: "I was overwhelmed by conflicting feelings: admiration,
astonishment, agitation, shame, assurance;" when King Pururavas, in
the Hindoo drama, _Urvasi_ is tormented by doubts as to whether his
love is reciprocated by the celestial Bayadere (apsara); when, in
_Malati_, a love-glance is said to be "anointed with nectar and
poison;" when the arrows of the Hindoo gods of love are called hard,
though made of flowers; burning, though not in contact with the skin;
voluptuous, though piercing--when we come across such symptoms and
fancies we have no right as yet to infer the existence of romantic
love; for all these things also characterize sensual passion, which is
love only in the sense of _self_-love, whereas, romantic love is
affection for _another_--a distinction which will be made more and
more manifest as we proceed in our discussion of the ingredients of
love, especially the last seven, which are altruistic. It is only when
we find these altruistic ingredients associated with the hopes and
fears and mixed moods that we can speak of romantic love. The symptoms
referred to in this paragraph tell us about selfish longings, selfish
pleasures and selfish pains, but nothing whatever about affection for
the person who is so eagerly coveted.


As long as love was supposed to be an uncompounded emotion and no
distinction was made between appetite and sentiment--that is between
the selfish desire of eroticism and the self-sacrificing ardor of
altruistic affection--it was natural enough that the opinion should
have prevailed that love has been always and everywhere the same,
inasmuch as several of the traits which characterize the modern
passion--stubborn preference for an individual, a desire for exclusive
possession, jealousy toward rivals, coy resistance and the resulting
mixed moods of doubt and hope--were apparently in existence in earlier
and lower stages of human development. We have now seen, however, that
these indications are deceptive, for the reason that lust as well as
love can be fastidious in choice, insistent on a monopoly, and jealous
of rivals; that coyness may spring from purely mercenary motives, and
that the mixed moods of hope and despair may disquiet or delight men
and women who know love only as a carnal appetite. We now take up our
sixth ingredient--Hyperbole--which has done more than any other to
confuse the minds of scholars as regards the antiquity of romantic
love, for the reason that it presents the passion of the ancients in
its most poetic and romantic aspects.


Amorous hyperbole may be defined as obvious exaggeration in praising
the charms of a beloved girl or youth; Shakspere speaks of
"exclamations hyperbolical ... praises sauced with lies." Such
"praises sauced with lies" abound in the verse and prose of Greek and
Roman as well as Sanscrit and other Oriental writers, and they assume
as diverse forms as in modern erotic literature. The commonest is that
in which a girl's complexion is compared to lilies and roses. The
Cyclops in Theocritus tells Galatea she is "whiter than milk ...
brighter than a bunch of hard grapes." The mistress of Propertius has
a complexion white as lilies; her cheeks remind him of "rose leaves
swimming on milk."

Lilia non domina sunt magis alba mea;
Ut Moeotica nix minio si certet Eboro,
Utque rosae puro lacte natant folia.
(II., 2.)

Achilles Tatius wrote that the beauty of Leucippe's countenance

"might vie with the flowers of the meadow; the narcissus was
resplendent in her general complexion, the rose blushed upon
her cheek, the dark hue of the violet sparkled in her eyes,
her ringlets curled more closely than do the clusters of the
ivy--her face, therefore, was a reflex of the meadows."

The Persian Hafiz declares that "the rose lost its color at sight of
her cheeks and the jasmines silver bud turned pale." A beauty in the
_Arabian Nights_, however, turns the tables on the flowers. "Who dares
to liken me to a rose?" she exclaims.

"Who is not ashamed to declare that my bosom is as lovely as
the fruit of the pomegranate-tree? By my beauty and grace!
by my eyes and black hair, I swear that any man who repeats
such comparison shall be banished from my presence and
killed by the separation; for if he finds my figure in the
ban-tree and my cheeks in the rose, what then does he seek
in me?"

This girl spoke more profoundly than she knew. Flowers are beautiful
things, but a spot red as a rose on a cheek would suggest the hectic
flush of fever, and if a girl's complexion were as white as a lily she
would be shunned as a leper. In hyperbole the step between the sublime
and the ridiculous is often a very short one; yet the rose and lily
simile is perpetrated by erotic poets to this day.


The eyes are subjected to similar treatment, as in Lodge's lines

Her eyes are sapphires set in snow
Resembling heaven by every wink.

Thomas Hood's Ruth had eyes whose "long lashes veiled a light that had
else been all too bright." Heine saw in the blue eyes of his beloved
the gates of heaven. Shakspere and Fletcher have:

And those eyes, the break of day,
Lights that do mislead the morn!

When Romeo exclaims:

Two of the fairest stars in all the heaven,
Having some business, do entreat her eyes
To twinkle in their spheres till they return.
... her eyes in heaven
Would through the airy region stream so bright
That birds would sing and think it were not night,

he excels, both in fancy and in exaggeration, all the ancient poets;
but it was they who began the practice of likening eyes to bright
lights. Ovid declares (_Met._, I., 499) that Daphne's eyes shone with
a fire like that of the stars, and this has been a favorite comparison
at all times. Tibullus assures us (IV., 2) that "when Cupid wishes to
inflame the gods, he lights his torches at Sulpicia's eyes." In the
Hindoo drama _Malati and Madhava_, the writer commits the extravagance
of making Madhava declare that the white of his mistresses eyes
suffuses him as with a bath of milk!

Theocritus, Tibullus ("candor erat, qualem praefert Latonia Luna"),
Hafiz, and other Greek, Roman, and Oriental poets are fond of
comparing a girl's face or skin to the splendors of the moon, and even
the sun is none too bright to suggest her complexion. In the _Arabian
Nights_ we read: "If I look upon the heaven methinks I see the sun
fallen down to shine below, and thee whom I desire to shine in his
place." A girl may, indeed, be superior to sun and moon, as we see in
the same book: "The moon has only a few of her charms; the sun tried
to vie with her but failed. Where has the sun hips like those of the
queen of my heart?" An unanswerable argument, surely!


When William Allingham wrote: "Her hair's the brag of Ireland, so
weighty and so fine," he followed in the wake of a hundred poets, who
had made a girl's tresses the object of amorous hyperbole. Dianeme's
"rich hair which wantons with the love-sick air" is a pretty conceit.
The fanciful notion that a beautiful woman imparts her sweetness to
the air, especially with the fragrance of her hair, occurs frequently
in the poems of Hafiz and other Orientals. In one of these the poet
chides the zephyr for having stolen its sweetness while playing with
the beloved's loose tresses. In another, a youth declares that if he
should die and the fragrance of his beloved's locks were wafted over
his grave, it would bring him back to life. Ben Jonson's famous lines
to Celia:

I sent thee late a rosy wreath,
Not so much honoring thee
As giving it a hope that there
It could not withered be;
But thou thereon did'st only breathe
And sent'st it back to me;
Since when it grows, and smells, I swear,
Not of itself but thee!

are a free imitation of passages in the Love Letters (Nos. 30 and 31)
of the Greek Philostratus: "Send me back some of the roses on which
you slept. Their natural fragrance will have been increased by that
which you imparted to them." This is a great improvement on the
Persian poets who go into raptures over the fragrant locks of fair
women, not for their inherent sweetness, however, but for the
artificial perfumes used by them, including the disgusting musk! "Is a
caravan laden with musk returning from Khoten?" sings one of these
bards in describing the approach of his mistress.


Besides such direct comparisons of feminine charms to flowers, to sun
and moon and other beautiful objects of nature, amorous hyperbole has
several other ways of expressing itself. The lover longs to be some
article of dress that he might touch the beloved, or a bird that he
might fly to her, or he fancies that all nature is love-sick in
sympathy with him. Romeo's

See, how she leans her cheek upon her hand!
O, that I were a glove upon that hand,
That I might touch that cheek!

is varied in Heine's poem, where the lover wishes he were a stool for
her feet to rest on, a cushion for her to stick pins in, or a
curl-paper that he might whisper his secrets into her ears; and in
Tennyson's dainty lines:

It is the miller's daughter,
And she is grown so dear, so dear,
That I would be the jewel
That trembles at her ear;
For hid in ringlets day and night
I'd touch her neck so warm and white.

And I would be the girdle
About her dainty, dainty waist,
And her heart would beat against me
In sorrow and in rest;
And I should know if it beat right,
I'd clasp it round so close and tight.

And I would be the necklace,
And all day long to fall and rise
Upon her balmy bosom
With her laughter or her sighs,
And I would be so light, so light,
I scarce should be unclasped at night.

Herein, too, our modern poets were anticipated by the ancients.
Anacreon wishes he were a mirror that he might reflect the image of
his beloved; or the gown she wears every day; or the water that laves
her limbs; or the balm that anoints her body; or the pearl that adorns
her neck; or the cloth that covers her breast; or the shoes that are
trodden by her feet.

The author of an anonymous poem in the Greek _Anthology_ wishes he
were a breath of air that he might be received in the bosom of his
beloved; or a rose to be picked by her hand and fastened on her bosom.
Others wish they were the water in the fountain from which a girl
drinks, or a dolphin to carry her on its back, or the ring she wears.
After the Hindoo Sakuntala has lost her ring in the river the poet
expresses surprise that the ring should have been able to separate
itself from that hand. The Cyclops of Theocritus wishes he had been
born with the gills of a fish so that he might dive into the sea to
visit the nymph Galatea and kiss her hands should her mouth be
refused. One of the goatherds of the same bucolic poet wishes he were
a bee that he might fly to the grotto of Amaryllis. From such fancies
it is but a short step to the "were I a swallow, to her I would fly"
of Heine and other modern poets.


In the ecstasy of his feeling Rosalind's lover wants to have her name
carved on every tree in the forest; but usually the lover assumes that
all things in the forests, plants or animals, sympathize with him even
without having his beloved's name thrust upon them.

For summer and his pleasures wait on thee,
And, thou away, the very birds are mute;
Or if they sing, 't is with so dull a cheer,
That leaves look pale, dreading the winter's near.

"Why are the roses so pale?" asks Heine.

"Why are the violets so dumb in the green grass? Why does
the lark's song seem so sad, and why have the flowers lost
their fragrance? Why does the sun look down upon the meadows
so cold and morose, and why is the earth so gray and
desolate? Why am I ill and melancholy, and why, my love, did
you leave me?"

In another poem Heine declares:

"If the flowers knew how deeply my heart is wounded,
they would weep with me. If the nightingales knew how
sad I am, they would cheer me with their refreshing
song. If the golden stars knew my grief, they would
come down from their heights to whisper consolation to

This phase of amorous hyperbole also was known to the ancient poets.
Theocritus (VII., 74) relates that Daphnis was bewailed by the oaks
that stood on the banks of the river, and Ovid (151) tells us, in
Sappho's epistle to Phaon, that the leafless branches sighed over her
hopeless love and the birds stopped their sweet song. Musaeus felt
that the waters of the Hellespont were still lamenting the fate which
overtook Leander as he swam toward the tower of Hero.


If a romantic love-poem were necessarily a poem of romantic love, the
specimens of amorous hyperbole cited in the preceding pages would
indicate that the ancients knew love as we know it. In reality,
however, there is not, in all the examples cited, the slightest
evidence of genuine love. A passion which is merely sensual may
inspire a gifted poet to the most extravagantly fanciful expressions
of covetous admiration, and in all the cases cited there is nothing
beyond such sensual admiration. An African Harari compares the girl he
likes to "sweet milk fresh from the cow," and considers that coarse
remark a compliment because he knows love only as an appetite. A gypsy
poet compares the shoulders of his beloved to "wheat bread," and a
Turkish poem eulogizes a girl for being like "bread fried in butter."
(Ploss, L, 85, 89.)

The ancient poets had too much taste to reveal their amorous desires
quite so bluntly as an appetite, yet they, too, never went beyond the
confines of self-indulgence. When Propertius says a girl's cheeks are
like roses floating on milk; when Tibullus declares another girl's
eyes are bright enough to light a torch by; when Achilles Tatius makes
his lover exclaim: "Surely you must carry about a bee on your lips,
they are full of honey, your kisses wound"--what is all this except a
revelation that the poet thinks the girl pretty, that her beauty
_gives him pleasure_, and that he tries to express that pleasure by
comparing her to some other object--sun, moon, honey, flowers--that
pleases his senses? Nowhere is there the slightest indication that he
is eager to _give her pleasure_, much less that he would be willing to
sacrifice his own pleasures for her, as a mother, for instance, would
for a child. His hyperboles, in a word, tell us not of love for
another but of a self-love in which the other figures only as a means
to an end, that end being his own gratification.

When Anacreon wishes he were the gown worn by a girl, or the water
that laves her limbs, or the string of pearls around her neck, he does
not indicate the least desire to make _her_ happy, but an eagerness to
please _himself_ by coming in contact with her. The daintiest poetic
conceit cannot conceal this blunt fact. Even the most fanciful of all
forms of amorous hyperbole--that in which the lover imagines that all
nature smiles or weeps with him--what is it but the most colossal
egotism conceivable?

The amorous hyperbole of the ancients is romantic in the sense of
fanciful, fictitious, extravagant, but not in the sense in which I
oppose romantic love to selfish sensual infatuation. There is no
intimation in it of those things that differentiate love from
lust--the mental and moral charms of the women, or the adoration,
sympathy, and affection, of the men. When one of Goethe's characters
says: "My life began at the moment I fell in love with you;" or when
one of Lessing's characters exclaims: "To live apart from her is
inconceivable to me, would be my death"--we still hear the note of
selfishness, but with harmonic overtones that change its quality, the
result of a change in the way of regarding women. Where women are
looked down on as inferiors, as among the ancients, amorous hyperbole
cannot be sincere; it is either nothing but "spruce affectation" or
else an illustration of the power of sensual love. No ancient author
could have written what Emerson wrote in his essay on Love, of the
visitations of a power which

"made the face of nature radiant with purple light, the
morning and the night varied enchantments; when a
single tone of one voice could make the heart bound,
and the most trivial circumstance associated with one
form is put in the amber of memory; when he became all
eye when one was present, and all memory when one was
gone; when the youth becomes a watcher of windows and
studious of a glove, a veil, a ribbon, or the wheels of
a carriage.... When the head boiled all night on the
pillow with the generous deed it resolved on.... When
all business seemed an impertinence, and all men and
women running to and fro in the streets, mere


In the essay "On the Power of Love," to which I have referred in
another place, Lichtenberg bluntly declared he did not believe that
sentimental love could make a sensible adult person so extravagantly
happy or unhappy as the poets would have us think, whereas he was
ready to concede that the sexual appetite may become irresistible.
Schopenhauer, on the contrary, held that sentimental love is the more
powerful of the two passions. However this may be, either is strong
enough to account for the prevalence of amorous hyperbole in
literature to such an extent that, as Bacon remarked, "speaking in a
perpetual hyperbole is comely in nothing but in love." "The major part
of lovers," writes Robert Burton,

"are carried headlong like so many brute beasts, reason
counsels one way, thy friends, fortunes, shame, disgrace,
danger, and an ocean of cares that will certainly follow;
yet this furious lust precipitates, counterpoiseth, weighs
down on the other."

Professor Bain, discussing all the human emotions in a volume of 600
pages, declares, regarding love (138), that

"the excitement at its highest pitch, in the torrent of
youthful sensations and ungratified desires is probably
the most furious and elated experience of human

In whatever sense we take this, as referring to sensual or sentimental
love, or a combination of the two, it explains why erotic writers of
all times make such lavish use of superlatives and exaggerations.
Their strong feelings can only be expressed in strong language.
"Beauty inflicts a wound sharper than any arrow," quoth Achilles
Tatius. Meleager declares: "Even the winged Eros in the air became
your prisoner, sweet Timarion, because your eye drew him down;" and in
another place: "the cup is filled with joy because it is allowed to
touch the beautiful lips of Zenophila. Would that she drank my soul in
one draught, pressing firmly her lips on mine" (a passage which
Tennyson imitated in "he once drew with one long kiss my whole soul
through my lips"). "Not stone only, but steel would be melted by
Eros," cried Antipater of Sidon. Burton tells of a cold bath that
suddenly smoked and was very hot when Coelia came into it; and an
anonymous modern poet cries:

Look yonder, where
She washes in the lake!
See while she swims,
The water from her purer limbs
New clearness take!

The Persian poet, Saadi, tells the story of a young enamoured Dervish
who knew the whole Koran by heart, but forgot his very alphabet in
presence of the princess. She tried to encourage him, but he only
found tongue to say, "It is strange that with thee present I should
have speech left me;" and having said that he uttered a loud groan and
surrendered his soul up to God.

To lovers nothing seems impossible. They "vow to weep seas, live in
fire, eat rocks, tame tigers," as Troilus knew. Mephistopheles

So ein verliebter Thor verpufft
Euch Sonne, Mond und alle Sterne
Zum Zeitvertreib dem Liebchen in die Luft.

(Your foolish lover squanders sun and moon and all the stars to
entertain his darling for an hour.) Romantic hyperbole is the realism
of love. The lover is blind as to the beloved's faults, and
color-blind as to her merits, seeing them differently from normal
persons and all in a rosy hue. She really seems to him superior to
every one in the world, and he would be ready any moment to join the
ranks of the mediaeval knights who translated amorous hyperbole into
action, challenging every knight to battle unless he acknowledged the
superior beauty of his lady. A great romancer is the lover; he
retouches the negative of his beloved, in his imagination, removes
freckles, moulds the nose, rounds the cheeks, refines the lips, and
adds lustre to the eyes until his ideal is realized and he sees
Helen's beauty in a brow of Egypt.

... For to be wise and love
Exceeds man's might; that dwells with gods above.


I dare not ask a kiss,
I dare not beg a smile,
Lest having that or this
I might grow proud the while.

Let fools great Cupid's yoke disdain,
Loving their own wild freedom better,
Whilst proud of my triumphant chain
I sit, and court my beauteous fetter.


"There was never proud man thought so absurdly well of himself as the
lover doth of the person beloved," said Bacon; "and therefore it is
well said that it is impossible to love and be wise."

Like everything else in this world, love has its comic side. Nothing
could be more amusing, surely, than the pride some men and women
exhibit at having secured for life a mate whom most persons would not
care to own a day. The idealizing process just described is
responsible for this comedy; and a very useful thing it is, too; for
did not the lover's fancy magnify the merits and minify the faults of
the beloved, the number of marriages would not be so large as it is.
Pride is a great match-maker. "It was a proud night with me," wrote
Walter Scott,

"when I first found that a pretty young woman could think it
worth her while to sit and talk with me hour after hour in a
corner of the ball-room, while all the world were capering
in our view."

Such an experience was enough to attune the heart-strings to
love. The youth felt flattered, and flattery is the food of love.


Pride explains some of the greatest mysteries of love. "How _could_
that woman have married such a manikin?" is a question one often
hears. Money, rank, opportunity, lack of taste, account for much, but
in many instances it was pride that first opened the heart to love;
that is, pride was the first of the ingredients of love to capitulate,
and the others followed suit. Probably that manikin was the first
masculine being who ever showed her any attentions. "He appreciates
me!" she mused. "I admire his taste--he is not like other men--I like
him--I love him."

The compliment of a proposal touches a girl's pride and may prove the
entering-wedge of love; hence the proverbial folly of accepting a
girl's first refusal as final. And if she accepts, the thought that
she, the most perfect being in the world, prefers him above all men,
inflates his pride to the point of exultation; thenceforth he can talk
and think only in "three pil'd hyperboles." He wants all the world to
know how he has been distinguished. In a Japanese poem translated by
Lafcadio Hearn (_G.B.F._, 38) a lover exclaims:

I cannot hide in my heart the happy knowledge that fills it;
Asking each not to tell, I spread the news all round.


To realize fully how important an ingredient in love pride is, we need
only consider the effect of a refusal. Of all the pangs that make up
its agony none is keener than that of wounded pride or vanity. Hence
the same lover who, if successful, wants all the world to know how he
has been distinguished, is equally anxious, in case of a refusal, to
keep it a secret. Schopenhauer went so far as to assert that both in
the pain of unrequited love and the joy of success, vanity is a more
important factor than the thwarting of sensual desires, because only a
psychic disturbance can stir us so deeply.

Shakspere knew that while there are many kinds of pride, the best and
deepest is that which a man feels in his love. Some, he says, glory in
their birth, some in their skill, some in their wealth, some in their
body's force, or their garments, or horses; but

All these I better in one general best,
Thy love is better than high birth to me,
Richer than wealth, prouder than garments' cost,
Of more delight than hawks and horses be
And having thee, of all men's pride I boast.
--_Sonnet XCI_.


While amorous pride has also an altruistic aspect in so far as the
lover is proud not only of being chosen but also of another's
perfections, it nevertheless belongs, in the main, in the egoistic
group, and there is therefore no reason why we should not look for it
in the lower stages of erotic evolution. Pride and vanity are feelings
which characterize all grades of human beings from the highest to the
lowest. As regards amorous pride, however, it is obvious that the
conditions for its existence are not favorable among such aboriginals,
_e.g._, as the Australians. What occasion is there for pride on the
part of a man who exchanges his sister or daughter for another man's
sister or daughter, or on the part of the female who is thus
exchanged? An American Indian's pride consists not in having won the
favor of one particular girl, but in having been able to buy or steal
as many women as possible, married or unmarried; and the bride's pride
is proportionate to her lover's prowess in this direction. I need not
add that the pride at being a successful squaw-stealer differs not
only in degree but in kind from the exultation of a white American
lover at the thought that the most beautiful and perfect girl in the
world has chosen him above all men as her sole and exclusive

Gibbs says (I., 197-200) of the Indians of Western Washington and
Northwestern Oregon that they usually seek their wives among other
tribes than their own.

"It seems to be a matter of pride, in fact, to unite
the blood of several different ones in their own
persons. The expression, I am half Snokwalmu, half
Klikatat, or some similar one, is of every-day
occurrence. With the chiefs, this is almost always the

This feeling, however, is of a tribal kind, lacking the individuality
of amorous pride. It would approach the latter if a chief won another
chiefs daughter in the face of rivalry and felt elated at this feat.
Such cases doubtless occur among the Indians.

Shooter gives an amusing account of how the African Kaffirs, when a
girl is averse to a marriage, attempt to influence her feelings before
resorting to compulsion.

"The first step is to speak well of the man in her
presence; the Kraal conspire to praise him--her mother
praises him--all the admirers of his cattle praise
him--he was never so praised before."

If these praises make her feel proud at the thought of marrying such a
man, all is well; if not, she has to suffer the consequences. It is
not likely that this praising practice would prevail were it not
sometimes successful.

If it ever is, we would have here a germ of amorous pride. Others may
be found in Hindoo literature, as in _Malati and Madhava_, where the
intermediary speaks of having dwelt on the lover's merits and rank in
the presence of the heroine, in the hope of influencing her.
"Extolling the lover's merits" is mentioned as one of the ten stages
of love in the Hindoo _ars amandi_.

In Oriental countries in general, where it is difficult or impossible
for young men and women to see one another before the wedding-day, the
praising of candidates by and to intermediaries has been a general
custom. Dr. T. Loebel (9-14) relates that before a Turk reaches the age
of twenty-two his parents look about for a bride for him. They send
out female friends and intermediaries who "praise and exaggerate the
accomplishments of the young man" in houses where they suspect the
presence of eligible girls. These female intermediaries are called
kyz-goeruedschue or "girl-seers." Having found a maiden that appears
suitable, they exclaim, "What a lovely girl! She resembles an angel!
What beautiful eyes! True gazelle-eyes! And her hair! Her teeth are
like pearls." When the young man hears the reports of this beauty, he
forthwith falls in love with her, and, although he has never seen her,
declares he "will marry her and no other." A sense of humor is not
given to every man: Dr. Loebel remarks seriously that this disproves
the slanderous assertion so often made that the Turks are incapable of
true love!

In their treatment and estimate of women the ancient Greeks resembled
the modern Turks. The poets joined the philosophers in declaring that
"nature herself," as Becker sums them up (Ill., 315), "assigned to
woman a position far beneath man." As there is little occasion for
pride in having won the favor of so inferior a being, the erotic
literature of the Greeks is naturally not eloquent on this subject.
Such evidence of amorous pride as we find in it, and in Roman poetry,
is usually in connection with mercenary women. The poets, being poor,
had only one way of winning the favor of these wantons: they could
celebrate their charms in verse. This aroused the pride of the
hetairai, and their grateful caresses made the poets proud at having a
means of winning favor more powerful even than money. But with genuine
love these feelings have nothing to do.


In common with ambition and other strong passions, love has the power
of changing a man's character for the time being. One of the speakers
in Plutarch's dialogue on love ([Greek: Erotikos], 17) declares that
every lover becomes generous and magnanimous, though he may have been
niggardly before; but, characteristically enough, it is the love for
boys, not for women, that is referred to. A modern lover is affected
that way by love for women. He feels proud of being distinguished by
the preference of such a girl, and on the principle of _noblesse
oblige_, he tries to become worthy of her. This love makes the
cowardly brave, the weak strong, the dull witty, the prosy poetic, the
slouches tidy. Burton glows eloquent on this subject (Ill., 2),
confounding, as usual, love with lust. Ovid notes that when Polyphemus
courted Galatea the desire to please made him arrange his hair and
beard, using the water as a mirror; wherein the Roman poet shows a
keener sense of the effect of infatuation than his Greek predecessor,
Theocritus, who (Id., XIV.) describes the enamoured Aischines as going
about with beard neglected and hair dishevelled; or than Callimachus,
concerning whose love-story of Acontius and Cydippe Mahaffy says (_G.
L. and T.,_ 239):

"The pangs of the lover are described just as they are
described in the case of his [Shakspere's]
Orlando--dishevelled hair, blackness under the eyes,
disordered dress, a desire for solitude, and the habit
of writing the girl's name on every tree--symptoms
which are perhaps now regarded as natural, and which
many romantic personages have no doubt imitated because
they found them in literature, and thought them the
spontaneous expression of the grief of love, while they
were really the artificial invention of Callimachus and
his school, who thus fathered them upon human nature."

Professor Mahaffy overlooks, however, an important distinction which
Shakspere makes. The witty Rosalind declares to Orlando, in her
bantering way, that

"there is a man haunts the forest, that abuses our
young plants with carving 'Rosalind' on their barks;
hangs odes upon hawthorns and elegies on brambles, all,
forsooth, deifying the name of Rosalind ... _he seems
to have the quotidian of love upon him_."

And when Orlando claims that he is that man, she replies, "There is
none of my uncle's marks upon you; he taught me to know a man in

Orlando: "What were his marks?"


"A lean cheek, _which you have not_, a blue eye and sunken,
_which you have not_ ... a beard neglected, _which you have
not_ ... Then your hose _should be_ ungartered, your bonnet
unbanded, your sleeve unbuttoned, your shoe untied, and
everything about you demonstrating a careless desolation."

Shakspere knew that love makes a man tidy, not untidy, hence Rosalind
fails to find the artificial Greek symptoms of love in Orlando, while
she admits that he carves her name on trees and hangs poems on them;
acts of which lovers are quite capable. In Japan it is a national
custom to hang love-poems on trees.


"Egotism," wrote Schopenhauer

"is a colossal thing; it overtops the world. For, if every
individual had the choice between his own destruction and
that of every other person in the world, I need not say what
the decision would be in the vast majority of cases."

"Many a man," he declares on another page,[22] "would be capable of
killing another merely to get some fat to smear on his boots." The
grim old pessimist confesses that at first he advanced this opinion as
a hyperbole; but on second thought he doubts if it is an exaggeration
after all. Had he been more familiar with the habits of savages, he
would have been fully justified in this doubt. An Australian has been
known to bait his fish-hook with his own child when no other meat was
at hand; and murders committed for equally trivial and selfish reasons
are every-day affairs among wild tribes.


Egoism manifests itself in a thousand different ways, often in subtle
disguise. Its greatest triumph lies in its having succeeded up to the
present day in masquerading as love. Not only many modern egotists,
but ancient Egyptians, Persians, and Hindoos, Greeks, and Romans,
barbarians and savages, have been credited with love when in reality
they manifested nothing but sexual self-love, the woman in the case
being valued only as an object without which the beloved Ego could not
have its selfish indulgence. By way of example let us take what Pallas
says in his work on Russia (III., 70) of the Samoyedes:

"The wretched women of this nomadic people are obliged
not only to do all the house-work, but to take down and
erect the huts, pack and unpack the sleigh, and at the
same time perform slavish duties for their husbands,
who, except on a few amorous evenings, hardly bestow on
them a look or a pleasant word, while expecting them to
anticipate all their desires."

The typical shallow observer, whose testimony has done so much to
prevent anthropology from being a science, would conclude, if he
happened to see a Samoyede on one of these "amorous evenings," that he
"loved" his wife, whereas it ought to be clear to the most obtuse that
he loves only himself, caring for his wife merely as a means of
gratifying his selfish appetites. In the preceding pages I endeavored
to show that such a man may exhibit, in his relations to a woman,
individual preference, monopolism, jealousy, hope and despair and
hyperbolic expression of feeling, yet without giving the slightest
indication of love--that is, of affection--for her. It is all egoism,
and egoism is the antipode of love, which is a phase of altruism. Not
that these selfish ingredients are absent in genuine love. Romantic
love embraces both selfish and altruistic elements, but the former are
subdued and overpowered by the latter, and sexual passion is not love
unless the altruistic ingredients are present. It is these altruistic
ingredients that we must now consider, beginning with sympathy, which
is the entering wedge of altruism.


Sympathy means sharing the pains and pleasures of another--feeling the
other's joys and sorrows as if they were our own, and therefore an
eagerness to diminish the other's pains and increase the pleasures.
Does uncivilized man exhibit this feeling? On the contrary, he gloats
over another's anguish, while the other's joys arouse his envy. Pity
for suffering men and animals does not exist in the lower strata of
humanity. Monteiro says (_A. and C._, 134) that the negro

"has not the slightest idea of mercy, pity, or
compassion for suffering. A fellow-creature, or animal,
writhing in pain or torture, is to him a sight highly
provocative of merriment and enjoyment. I have seen a
number of blacks at Loanda, men, women, and children,
stand round, roaring with laughter, at seeing a poor
mongrel dog that had been run over by a cart, twist and
roll about in agony on the ground till a white man put
it out of its misery."

Cozzens relates (129-30) an instance of Indian cruelty which he
witnessed among the Apaches. A mule, with his feet tied, was thrown on
the ground. Thereupon two of these savages advanced and commenced with
knives to cut the meat from the thighs and fleshy parts of the animal
in large chunks, while the poor creature uttered the most terrible
cries. Not till the meat had been cut clean to the bone did they kill
the beast. And this hideous cruelty was inflicted for no other reason
than because meat cut from a live animal "was considered more tender,"
Custer, who knew the Indian well, describes him as "a savage in every
sense of the word; one whose cruel and ferocious nature far exceeds
that of any wild beast of the desert." In the _Jesuit Relations_ (Vol.
XIII., 61) it takes _ten_ pages to describe the tortures inflicted by
the Hurons on a captive. Theodore Roosevelt writes in his _Winning of
the West_ (I., 95):

"The nature of the wild Indians has not changed. Not
one man in a hundred, and not a single woman, escapes
torments which a civilized man cannot so much as look
another in the face and speak of. Impalement on charred
stakes, finger-nails split off backwards, finger-joints
chewed off, eyes burned out--these tortures can be
mentioned, but there are others, equally normal and
customary, which cannot even be hinted at, especially
when women are the victims."

In his famous book, _The Jesuits in North America_, the historian
Parkman gives many harrowing details of Indian cruelty toward
prisoners; harmless women and children being subjected to the same
fiendish tortures as the men. On one occasion he relates of the
Iroquois (285) that

"they planted stakes in the bark houses of St. Ignace,
and bound to them those of their prisoners whom they
meant to sacrifice, male and female, from old age to
infancy, husbands, mothers, and children, side by side.
Then, as they retreated, they set the town on fire, and
laughed with savage glee at the shrieks of anguish that
rose from the blazing dwellings."

On page 248 he relates another typical instance of Iroquois cruelty.
Among their prisoners

"were three women, of whom the narrator was one, who
had each a child of a few weeks or months old. At the
first halt, their captors took the infants from them,
tied them to wooden spits, placed them to die slowly
before a fire, and feasted on them before the eyes of
the agonized mothers, whose shrieks, supplications, and
frantic efforts to break the cords that bound them were
met with mockery and laughter."

Later on all the prisoners were subjected to further tortures

"designed to cause all possible suffering without
touching life. It consisted in blows with sticks and
cudgels, gashing their limbs with knives, cutting off
their fingers with clamshells, scorching them with
firebrands, and other indescribable tortures."

They cut off the breasts of one of the women and compelled her to eat
them. Then all the women were stripped naked, and forced to dance to
the singing of the male prisoners, amid the applause and laughter of
the crowd.

If anyone in this hostile crowd had shown the slightest sympathy with
the victims of this satanic cruelty, he would have been laughed at and
insulted; for to the American Indians ferocity was a virtue, while
"pity was a cowardly weakness at which their pride revolted." They
were deliberately trained to cruelty from infancy, children being
taught to break the legs of animals and otherwise to torture them. Nor
were the women less ferocious than the men; indeed, when it came to
torturing prisoners, the squaws often led the men. In the face of such
facts, it seems almost like mockery to ask if these Indians were
capable of falling in love. Could a Huron to whom cruelty was a
virtue, a duty, and whose chief delight was the torture of men and
women or animals, have harbored in his mind such a delicate,
altruistic sentiment as romantic love, based on sympathy with
another's joys and sorrows? You might as well expect a tiger to make
romantic love to the Bengal maiden he has carried into the jungle for
his supper. Cruelty is not incompatible with appetite, but it is a
fatal obstacle to love based on affection. Facts prove this natural
inference. The Iroquois girls were coarse wantons who indulged in free
lust before marriage, and for whom the men felt such passion as is
possible under the circumstances.

The absurdity of the claim that these cruel Indians felt love is made
more glaringly obvious if we take a case nearer home; imagining a
neighbor guilty of torturing harmless captive women with the obscene
cruelty of the Indians, and yet attributing to him a capacity for
refined love! The Indians would honor such a man as a colleague and
hero; we should send him to the penitentiary, the gallows, or the


It would be foolish to retort that the savage's delight in the torture
of others is manifested only in the case of his enemies, for that is
not true; and where he does not directly exult over the sufferings of
others, he still shows his lack of sympathy by his indifference to
those sufferings, often even in the case of his nearest relatives. The
African explorer Andersson (_O.R._, 156) describes the
"heart-rendering sorrow--at least outwardly," of a Damara woman whose
husband had been killed by a rhinoceros, and who wailed in a most
melancholy way:

"I heartily sympathized with her, and I am sure I was
the only person present of all the members assembled
... who at all felt for her lonely condition. Many a
laugh was heard, but no one looked sad. No one asked or
cared about the man, but each and all made anxious
inquiries after the rhinoceros--such is the life of
barbarians. Oh, ye sentimentalists of the Rousseau
school--for some such still remain--witness what I have
witnessed, and do witness daily, and you will soon
cease to envy and praise the life of the savages."

"A sick person," writes Galton (190), "meets with no
compassion; he is pushed out of his hut by his
relations away from the fire into the cold; they do all
they can to expedite his death, and when he appears to
be dying, they heap oxhides over him till he is
suffocated. Very few Damaras die a natural death."

In his book on the Indian Tribes of Guiana (151, 225) the Rev. W.H.
Brett gives two typical instances of the lack of sympathy in the New
World. The first is that of a poor young girl who was dreadfully burnt
by lying in a hammock when it caught fire:

"She seemed a very meek and patient child, and her look of
gratitude for our sympathy was most affecting. Her friends,
however, took no trouble about her, and she probably died
soon after."

The second case is that of an Arawak boy who, during a canoe voyage,
was seized with cholera. The Indians simply cast him on the edge of
the shore, to be drowned by the rising tide.

Going to the other end of the continent we find Le Jeune writing of
the Canadian Indians (in the _Jesuit Relations_, VI., 245): "These
people are very little moved by compassion. They give the sick food
and drink, but otherwise show no regard for them." In the second
volume of the _Relations_ (15) the missionary writer tells of a sick
girl of nine, reduced to skin and bone. He asked the permission of the
parents to baptize her, and they answered that he might take her and
keep her, "for to them she was no better than a dead dog." And again
(93) we read that in case of illness "they soon abandon those whose
recovery is deemed hopeless."

Crossing the Continent to California we find in Powers (118) a
pathetic account of the lack of filial piety, or sympathy with old
age, which, he says, is peculiar to Indians in general. After a man
has ceased to be useful as a warrior, though he may have been a hero
of a hundred battles, he is compelled to go with his sons into the
forest and bear home on his poor old shoulders the game they have
killed. He totters along behind them "almost crushed to earth beneath
a burden which their unencumbered strength is greatly more able to
support, but they touch it not with so much as one of their fingers."


"The Gallinomeros kill their aged parents in a most coldblooded
manner," says Bancroft (I., 390), and this custom, too, prevails on
both sides of the Continent. The Canadians, according to Lalemant
(_Jesuit Relations_, IV., 199),

"kill their fathers and mothers when they are so old that
they can walk no longer, thinking that they are thus doing
them a good service; for otherwise they would be compelled
to die of hunger, as they have become unable to follow
others when they change their location."

Henry Norman, in his book on the Far East, explains (553) why so few
deaf, blind, and idiots are found among savages: they are destroyed or
left to perish. Sutherland, in studying the custom of killing the aged
and diseased, or leaving them to die of exposure, found express
testimony to the prevalence of this loveless habit in twenty-eight
different races of savages, and found it denied of only one. Lewis and
Clarke give a list of Indian tribes by whom the aged were abandoned to
starvation (II., Chap. 7), adding:

"Yet in their villages we saw no want of kindness to the
aged: on the contrary, probably because in villages the
means of more abundant subsistence renders such cruelty
unnecessary, old people appeared to be treated with

But it is obvious that kindness which does not go beyond the point
where it interferes with our own comfort, is not true altruism. If one
of two men who are perishing of thirst in the desert finds a cupful of
water and shares it with the other, he shows sympathy; but if he finds
a whole spring and shares it with the companion, his action does not
deserve that name. It would be superfluous to make this remark were it
not that the sentimentalists are constantly pointing to such sharing
of abundance as evidence of sympathetic kindness. There is a whole
volume of philosophy in Bates's remark (293) concerning Brazilian
Indians: "The good-fellowship of our Cucamas seemed to arise, not from
warm sympathy, but simply from the absence of eager selfishness in
small matters." The Jesuit missionary Le Jeune devotes a whole chapter
(V., 229-31) to such good qualities as he could find among the
Canadian Indians. He is just to the point of generosity, but he is
compelled to end with these words: "And yet I would not dare to assert
that I have seen one act of real moral virtue in a savage. They have
nothing but their own pleasure and satisfaction in view."


Schoolcraft relates a story of an Indian girl who saved her aged
father's life by carrying him on her back to the new camping-place
(_Oneota,_ 88). Now Schoolcraft is not a witness on whom one can rely
safely, and his case could be accepted as an illustration of an
aboriginal trait only if it had been shown that the girl in question
had never been subject to missionary influences. Nevertheless, such an
act of filial devotion may well have occurred on the part of a woman.
It was in a woman's heart that human sympathy was first born
--together with her child. The helpless infant could not have survived
without her sympathetic care, hence there was an important use for
womanly sympathy which caused it to survive and grow, while man,
immersed in wars and selfish struggles, remained hard of heart and
knew not tenderness.

Yet in woman, too, the growth of sympathy was painfully slow. The
practice of infanticide, for selfish reasons, was, as we shall see in
later chapters, horribly prevalent among many of the lower races, and
even where the young were tenderly reared, the feeling toward them was
hardly what we call affection--a conscious, enduring devotion--but a
sort of animal instinct which is shared by tigers and other fierce and
cruel animals, and which endures but a short time. In Agassiz's book
on Brazil we read (373), that the Indians "are cold in their family
affections; and though the mothers are very fond of their babies, they
seem comparatively indifferent to them as they grow up." As an
illustration of this trait Agassiz mentions a sight he witnessed one
day. A child who was to be taken far away to Rio stood on the deck
crying, "while the whole family put off in a canoe, talking and
laughing gaily, without showing him the least sympathy."


Apart from instinctive maternal love, sympathy appears to be as far to
seek in the savage women as in the men. Authorities agree that in
respect of cruelty the squaws even surpass the warriors. Thus Le Jeune
attests (_Jes. Rel._, VI., 245), that among the Canadians the women
were crueler toward captives than the men. In another place (V., 29),
he writes that when prisoners were tortured the women and girls "blew
and drove the flames over in their direction to burn them." In every
Huron town, says Parkman (_Jes. in N.A._, XXXIV.), there were old
squaws who "in vindictiveness, ferocity, and cruelty, far exceeded the
men." The same is asserted of the Comanche women, who "delight in
torturing the male prisoners." Concerning Chippewa war captives,
Keating says (I., 173): "The marriageable women are reduced to
servitude and are treated with great cruelty by the squaws." Among the
Creeks the women even used to pay a premium of tobacco for the
privilege of whipping prisoners of war (Schoolcraft, V., 280). These
are typical instances. In Patagonia, writes Falkner (97), the Indian
women follow their husbands, armed with clubs, sometimes and swords,
and ravage and plunder the houses of everything they can find. Powers
relates that when California Indians get too old to fight they have to
assist the women in their drudgery. Thereupon the women, instead of
setting them a good example by showing sympathy for their weakness,
take their revenge and make them feel their humiliation keenly.
Obviously among these savages, cruelty and ferocity have no sex,
wherefore it would be as useless in one sex as in the other to seek
for that sympathy which is an ingredient and a condition of romantic


From a Canadian Indian to a Greek philosopher it seems a far cry; yet
the transition is easy and natural. To the Indian, as Parkman points
out, "pity was a cowardly weakness," to be sternly repressed as
unworthy of a man. Plato, for his part, wanted to banish poetry from
his ideal republic because it overwhelms our feelings and makes us
give way to sympathies which in real life our pride causes us to
repress and which are "deemed the part of a woman" (_Repub._, X.,
665). As for the special form of sympathy which enters into the nobler
phases of the love between men and women--fusing their hearts and
blending their souls--Plato's inability to appreciate such a thing may
be inferred from the fact that in this same ideal republic he wanted
to abolish the marriage even of individual bodies. Of the marriage of
souls he, like the other Greeks, knew nothing. To him, as to his
countrymen in general, love between man and woman was mere animal
passion, far inferior in nobility and importance to love for boys, or
friendship, or to filial, parental, or brotherly love.

From the point of view of sympathy, the difference between ancient
passion and modern love is admirably revealed in Wagner's
_Tannhaeuser_. As I have summed it up elsewhere[23]:

"Venus shares only the joys of Tannhaeuser, while
Elizabeth is ready to suffer with him. Venus is carnal
and selfish, Elizabeth affectionate and
self-sacrificing. Venus degrades, Elizabeth ennobles;
the depth of her love atones for the shallow, sinful
infatuation of Tannhaeuser. The abandoned Venus
threatens revenge, the forsaken Elizabeth dies of

There are stories of wifely devotion in Greek literature, but, like
Oriental stories of the same kind (especially in India) they have a
suspicious appearance of having been invented as object-lessons for
wives, to render them more subservient to the selfish wishes of the
husbands. Plutarch counsels a wife to share her husband's joys and
sorrows, laugh when he laughs, weep when he weeps; but he fails to
suggest the virtue of reciprocal sympathy on the husband's part; yet
Plutarch had much higher notions regarding conjugal life than most of
the Greeks. An approximation to the modern ideal is found only when we
consider the curious Greek adoration of boys. Callicratides, in
Lucian's [Greek: Erotes], after expressing his contempt for women and
their ways, contrasts with them the manners of a well-bred youth who
spends his time associating with poets and philosophers, or taking
gymnastic and military exercises. "Who would not like," he continues,

"to sit opposite such a boy, hear him talk, share his
labors, walk with him, nurse him in illness, go to sea with
him, share darkness and chains with him if necessary? Those
who hated him should be my enemies, those who loved him my
friends. When he dies, I too should wish to die, and one
grave should cover us."

Yet even here there is no real sympathy, because there is no altruism.
Callicratides does not say he will die _for_ the other, or that the
other's pleasures are to him more important than his own.[24]


India is generally credited with having known and practised altruism
long before Christ came to preach it. Kalidasa anticipates a modern
idea when he remarks, in _Sakuntala_, that "Among persons who are very
fond of each other, grief shared is grief halved." India, too, is
famed for its monks or penitents, who were bidden to be compassionate
to all living things, to treat strangers hospitably, to bless those
that cursed them (Mann, VI., 48). But in reality the penitents were
actuated by the most selfish of motives; they believed that by obeying
those precepts and undergoing various ascetic practices, they would
get such power that even the gods would dread them; and the Sanscrit
dramas are full of illustrations of the detestably selfish use they
made of the power thus acquired. In _Sakuntala_ we read how a poor
girl's whole life was ruined by the curse hurled at her by one of
these "saints," for the trivial reason that, being absorbed in
thoughts of love, she did not hear his voice and attend to his
personal comforts at once; while _Kausika's Rage_ illustrates the
diabolical cruelty with which another of these saints persecutes a
king and queen because he had been disturbed in his incantations. It
is possible that some of these penitents, living in the forest and
having no other companions, learned to love the animals that came to
see them; but the much-vaunted kindness to animals of the Hindoos in
general is merely a matter of superstition and not an outcome of
sympathy. He has not even a fellow-feeling for suffering human beings.
How far he was from realizing Christ's "blessed are the merciful," may
be inferred from what the Abbe Dubois says:

"The feelings of commiseration and pity, as far as
respects the sufferings of others, never enter into his
heart. He will see an unhappy being perish on the road,
or even at his own gate, if belonging to another caste;
and will not stir to help him to a drop of water,
though it were to save his life."

"To kill a cow," says the same writer (I., 176), "is a crime which the
Hindoo laws punish with death;" and these same Hindoos treat women,
especially widows, with fiendish cruelty. It would be absurd to
suppose that a people who are so pitiless to human beings could be
actuated by sympathy in their devout attitude toward some animals.
Superstition is the spring of their actions. In Dahomey any person who
kills a sacred (non-poisonous) snake is condemned to be buried alive.
In Egypt it was a capital offence to kill an ibis, even accidentally.
What we call lynching seems to have arisen in connection with such

"The enraged multitude did not wait for the slow
process of law, but put the offender to death with
their own hands." At the same time some animals "which
were deemed divinities in one home, were treated as
nuisances and destroyed in others." (Kendrick, II.,


If we study the evolution of human sympathy we find that it begins,
not in reference to animals but to human beings. The first stage is a
mother's feeling going out to her child. Next, the family as a whole
is included, and then the tribe. An Australian kills, as a matter of
course, everyone he comes across in the wilderness not belonging to
his tribe. To the present day race hatred, jingoism, and religious
differences obstruct the growth of cosmopolitan sympathy such as
Christ demanded. His religion has done much, however, to widen the
circle of sympathy and to make known its ravishing delights. The
doctrine that it is more blessed to give than to receive is literally
true for those who are of a sympathetic disposition. Parents enjoy the
pleasures of their children as they never did their own egotistic
delights. In various ways sympathy has continued to grow, and at the
present day the most refined and tender men and women include animals
within the range of their pity and affection. We organize societies
for their protection, and we protest against the slaughter of birds
that live on islands, thousands of miles away. Our imagination has
become so sensitive and vivid that it gives us a keen pang to think of
the happy lives of these birds as being ruthlessly cut short and their
young left to die in their nests in the agonies of cruel starvation.
If we compare with this state of mind that of the African of whom
Burton wrote in his _Two Trips to Gorilla Land_, that "Cruelty seems
to be with him a necessity of life, and all his highest enjoyments are
connected with causing pain and inflicting death"--we need no other
argument to convince us that a savage cannot possibly feel romantic
love, because that implies a capacity for the tenderest and subtlest
sympathy. I would sooner believe a tiger capable of such love than a
savage, for the tiger practises cruelty unconsciously and accidentally
while in quest of food, whereas the primitive man indulges in cruelty
for cruelty's sake, and for the delight it gives him. We have here one
more illustration of the change and growth of sentiments. Man's
emotions develop as well as his reasoning powers, and one might as
well expect an Australian, who cannot count five, to solve a problem
in trigonometry as to love a woman as we love her.


In romantic love altruism reaches its climax. Turgenieff did not
exaggerate when he said that "it is in a man really in love as if his
personality were eliminated." Genuine love makes a man shed egoism as
a snake sheds its skin. His one thought is: "How can I make her happy
and save her from grief" at whatever cost to his own comfort. Amorous
sympathy implies a complete self-surrender, an exchange of

My true love hath my heart, and I have his,
By just exchange one for the other given.

It is the secret sympathy,
The silver link, the silken tie,
Which heart to heart, and mind to mind,
In body and in soul can bind.

To a woman who wishes to be loved truly and permanently, a sympathetic
disposition is as essential as modesty, and more essential than
beauty. The author of _Love Affairs of Some Famous Men_ has wittily
remarked that "Love at first sight is easy enough; what a girl wants
is a man who can love her when he sees her every day." That, he might
have added, is impossible unless she can enter into another's joys and
sorrows. Many a spark of love kindled at sight of a pretty face and
bright eyes is extinguished after a short acquaintance which reveals a
cold and selfish character. A man feels instinctively that a girl who
is not a sympathetic sweetheart will not be a sympathetic wife and
mother, so he turns his attention elsewhere. Selfishness in a man is
perhaps a degree less offensive, because competition and the struggle
for existence necessarily foster it; yet a man who does not merge his
personality in that of his chosen girl is not truly in love, however
much he may be infatuated. There can be sympathy without love, but no
love without sympathy. It is an essential ingredient, an absolute
test, of romantic love.


Silvius, in _As You Like It_, says that love is "all adoration," and
in _Twelfth Night_, when Olivia asks: "How does he love me?" Viola
answers: "With adorations." Romeo asks: "What shall I swear by?" and
Juliet replies:

Do not swear at all;
Or, if thou wilt, swear by thy gracious self,
Which is the god of my idolatry,
And I'll believe thee.


Thus Shakspere knew that love is, as Emerson defined it, the
"deification of persons," and that women adore as well as men. Helena,
in _All's Well that Ends Well_, says of her love for Bertram:

Thus, Indian-like
Religious in mine error, I adore
The sun that looks upon his worshipper,
But knows of him no more.

"Shakspere shared with Goethe, Petrarch, Raphael, Dante, Rousseau,
Jean Paul, ... a mystical veneration for the feminine element of
humanity as the higher and more divine." (Dowden, III.) Within the
last few centuries, adoration of femininity has become a sort of
instinct in men, reaching its climax in romantic love. The modern
lover is like a sculptor who takes an ordinary block of marble and
carves a goddess out of it. His belief that his idol is a living
goddess is, of course, an illusion, but the _feeling_ is real, however
fantastic and romantic it may seem. He is so thoroughly convinced of
the incomparable superiority of his chosen divinity that "it is
marvellous to him that all the world does not want her too, and he is
in a panic when he thinks of it," as Charles Dudley Warner puts it.
Ouida speaks of "the graceful hypocrisies of courtship," and no doubt
there are many such; but in romantic love there is no hypocrisy; its
devotion and adoration are absolutely sincere.

The romantic lover adores not only the girl herself but everything
associated with her. This phase of love is poetically delineated in
Goethe's _Werther_:

"To-day," Werther writes to his friend, "I could not go
to see Lotta, being unavoidably detained by company.
What was there to do? I sent my valet to her, merely in
order to have someone about me who had been near her.
With what impatience I expected him, with what joy I
saw him return! I should have liked to seize him by the
hand and kiss him, had I not been ashamed.

"There is a legend of a Bononian stone which being
placed in the sun absorbs his rays and emits them at
night. In such a light I saw that valet. The knowledge
that her eyes had rested on his face, his cheeks, the
buttons and the collar of his coat, made all these
things valuable, sacred, in my eyes. At that moment I
would not have exchanged that fellow for a thousand
dollars, so happy was I in his presence. God forbid
that you should laugh at this. William, are these
things phantasms if they make us happy?"

Fielding wrote a poem on a half-penny which a young lady had given to
a beggar, and which the poet redeemed for a half-crown. Sir Richard
Steele wrote to Miss Scurlock:

"You must give me either a fan, a mask, or a glove you have
worn, or I cannot live; otherwise you must expect that I'll
kiss your hand, or, when I next sit by you, steal your

Modern literature is full of such evidences of veneration for the fair
sex. The lover worships the very ground she trod on, and is enraptured
at the thought of breathing the same atmosphere that surrounded her.
To express his adoration he thinks and talks, as we have seen, in
perpetual hyperbole:

It's a year almost that I have not seen her;
Oh! last summer green things were greener,
Brambles fewer, the blue sky bluer.
--_C.G. Rossetti_.


The adoration of women, individually or collectively, is, however, an
entirely modern phenomenon, and is even now very far from being
universal. As Professor Chamberlain has pointed out (345): "Among
ourselves woman-worship nourishes among the well-to-do, but is almost,
if not entirely, absent among the peasantry." Still less would we
expect to find it among the lower races. Primitive times were warlike
times, during which warriors were more important than wives, sons more
useful than daughters. Sons also were needed for ancestor worship,
which was believed to be essential for bliss in a future life. For
these reasons, and because women were weaker and the victims of
natural physical disadvantages, they were despised as vastly inferior
to men, and while a son was welcomed with joy, the birth of a daughter
was bewailed as a calamity, and in many countries she was lucky--or
rather unlucky--if she was allowed to live at all.

A whole volume of the size of this one might be made up of extracts
from the works of explorers and missionaries describing the contempt
for women--frequently coupled with maltreatment--exhibited by the
lower races in all parts of the world. But as the attitude of
Africans, Australians, Polynesians, Americans, and others, is to be
fully described in future chapters, we can limit ourselves here to a
few sample cases taken at random.[25] Jacques and Storm relate (Floss,
II., 423) how one day in a Central African village, the rumor spread
that a goat had been carried off by a crocodile. Everybody ran to and
fro in great excitement until it was ascertained that the victim was
only a woman, whereupon quiet was restored. If an Indian refuses to
quarrel with a squaw or beat her, this is due, as Charlevoix explains
(VI., 44), to the fact that he would consider that as unworthy of a
warrior, as she is too far beneath him. In Tahiti the head of a
husband or father was sacred from a woman's touch. Offerings to the
gods would have been polluted if touched by a woman. In Siam the wife
had to sleep on a lower pillow than her husband's, to remind her of
her inferiority. No woman was allowed to enter the house of a Maori
chief. Among the Samoyedes and Ostyaks a wife was not allowed in any
corner of the tent except her own; after pitching the tent she was
obliged to fumigate it before the men would enter. The Zulus regard
their women "with haughty contempt." Among Mohammedans a woman has a
definite value only in so far as she is related to a husband;
unmarried she will always be despised, and heaven has no room for her.
(Ploss, II., 577-78.) In India the blessing bestowed on girls by
elders and priests is the insulting

"Mayst thou have eight sons, and may thy husband survive
thee." "On every occasion the poor girl is made to feel that
she is an unwelcome guest in the family." (Ramabai
Saravasti, 13.)

William Jameson Reid, who visited some of the unexplored regions of
Northeastern Thibet gives a graphic description of the hardness and
misery of woman's lot among the Pa-Urgs:

"Although, owing to the scarcity, a woman is a valuable
commodity, she is treated with the utmost contempt, and
her existence is infinitely worse than the very animals
of her lord and master. Polyandry is generally
practised, increasing the horror of her position, for
she is required to be a slave to a number of masters,
who treat her with the most rigorous harshness and
brutality. From the day of her birth until her death
(few Pa-Urg women live to be fifty) her life is one
protracted period of degradation. She is called upon to
perform the most menial and degrading of services and
the entire manual labor of the community, it being
considered base of a male to engage in other labor than
that of warfare and the chase....

"When a child is to be born the mother is driven from
the village in which she lives, and is compelled to
take up her abode in some roadside hut or cave in the
open country, a scanty supply of food, furnished by her
husbands, being brought to her by the other women of
the tribe. When the child is born the mother remains
with it for one or two months, and then leaving it in a
cave, returns to the village and informs her eldest
husband of its birth and the place where she has left
it. If the child is a male, some consideration is shown
to her; should it be a female, however, her lot is
frightful, for aside from the severe beating to which
she is subjected by her husband, she suffers the scorn
and contumely of the rest of the tribe. If a male
child, the husband goes to the cave and brings it back
to the village; if it is of the opposite sex he is left
to his own volition; sometimes he returns with the
female infant; as often he ignores it entirely and
allows it to perish, or may dispose of it to some other
man as a prospective wife."[26]

In Corea women are so little esteemed that they do not even receive
separate names, and a husband considers it an act of condescension to
speak to his wife. When a young man of the ruling classes marries, he
spends three or four days with his bride, then returns to his
concubine, "in order to prove that he does not care much for the
bride." (Ploss, II., 434.) "The condition of Chinese women is most
pitiable," writes the Abbe Hue:

"Suffering, privation, contempt, all kinds of misery
and degradation, seize on her in the cradle, and
accompany her to the tomb. Her birth is commonly
regarded as a humiliation and a disgrace to the
family--an evident sign of the malediction of heaven.
If she be not immediately suffocated, a girl is
regarded and treated as a creature radically
despicable, and scarcely belonging to the human race."

He adds that if a bridegroom dies, the most honorable course for the
bride is to commit suicide. Even the Japanese, so highly civilized in
some respects, look down on women with unfeigned contempt, likening
themselves to heaven and the women to earth. There are ten stations on
the way up the sacred mount Fuji. Formerly no woman was allowed to
climb above the eighth. Professor Basil Hall Chamberlain, of the
University of Tokyo, has a foot-note in his _Things Japanese_ (274) in
which he relates that in the introduction to his translation of the
_Kojiki_ he had drawn attention to the inferior place held by women in
ancient as in modern Japan. Some years afterward six of the chief
literati of the old school translated this introduction into Japanese.
They patted the author on the head for many things, but when they
reached the observation anent the subjection of women, their wrath

"The subordination of women to men," so ran their
commentary, "is an extremely correct custom. To think
the contrary is to harbor European prejudice.... For
the man to take precedence over the woman is the grand
law of heaven and earth. To ignore this, and to talk of
the contrary as barbarous, is absurd."

The way in which these kind, gentle, and pretty women are treated by
the men, Chamberlain says on another page,

"has hitherto been such as might cause a pang to any
generous European heart.... At the present moment the
greatest duchess or marchioness in the land is still
her husband's drudge. She fetches and carries for him,
bows down humbly in the hall when my lord sallies forth
on his walks abroad, waits upon him at meals, may be
divorced at his good pleasure."

This testimony regarding a nation which in some things--especially
aesthetic culture and general courteousness--surpasses Europe and
America, is of special value, as it shows that love, based on sympathy
with women's joys and sorrows, and adoration of their peculiar
qualities, is everywhere the last flower of civilization, and not, as
the sentimentalists claim, the first. If even the advanced Japanese
are unable to feel romantic love--for you cannot adore what you
egotistically look down on--it is absurd to look for it among
barbarians and savages, such as the Fuegians, who, in times of
necessity, eat their old women, or the Australians, among whom not
many women are allowed to die a natural death, "they being generally
despatched ere they become old and emaciated, that so much good food
may not be lost."[27]

There are some apparent exceptions to the universal contempt for
females even among cannibals. Thus it is known that the Peruvian
Casibos never eat women. It is natural to jump to the conclusion that
this is due to respect for the female sex. It is, however, as Tschudi
shows, assignable to exactly the opposite feeling:

"All the South American Indians, who still remain under
the influence of sorcery and empiricism, consider women
in the light of impure and evil beings, and calculated
to injure them. Among a few of the less rude nations
this aversion is apparent in domestic life, in a
certain unconquerable contempt of females. With the
anthropophagi the feeling extends, fortunately, to
their flesh, which is held to be poisonous."

The Caribs had a different reason for making it unlawful to eat women.
"Those who were captured," says P. Martyr, "were kept for breeding, as
we keep fowl, etc," Sir Samuel Baker relates (_A.N._, 240), that among
the Latookas it was considered a disgrace to kill a woman--not,
however, because of any respect felt for the sex, but because of the
scarcity and money value of women.


Equally deceptive are all other apparent exceptions to the customary
contempt for women. While the women of Fiji, Tonga, and other islands
of the Pacific were excluded from all religious worship, and Papuan
females were not even allowed to approach a temple, it is not uncommon
among the inferior races for women to be priestesses. Bosnian relates
(363) that on the African Slave Coast the women who served as
priestesses enjoyed absolute sway over their husbands, who were in the
habit of serving them on their knees. This, however, was contrary to
the general rule, wherefore it is obvious that the homage was not to
the woman as such, but to the priestess. The feeling inspired in such
cases is, moreover, fear rather than respect; the priestess among
savages is a sorceress, usually an old woman whose charms have faded,
and who has no other way of asserting herself than by assuming a
pretence to supernatural powers and making herself feared as a
sorceress. Hysterical persons are believed by savages to be possessed
of spirits, and as women are specially liable to hysteria and to
hallucinations, it was natural that they should be held eligible for
priestly duties. Consequently, if there was any respect involved here
at all, it was for an infirmity, not for a virtue--a result of
superstition, not of appreciation or admiration of special feminine


Dire confusion regarding woman's status has been created in many minds
by three distinct ethnologic phenomena, which are, moreover, often
confounded: (1) kinship and heredity through females; (2) matriarchy,
or woman's rule in the family (domestic); (3) gynaicocracy, or woman's
rule in the tribe (political).

(1) It is a remarkable fact that among many tribes, especially in
Australia, America, and Africa, children are named after their mother,
while rank and property, too, are often inherited in the female line
of descent. Lafitau observed this custom among American Indians more
than a century ago, and in 1861 a Swiss jurist, Bachofen, published a
book in which he tried to prove, with reference to this "kinship
through mothers only," that it indicated that there was a time when
women everywhere ruled over men. A study of ethnologic data shows,
however, that this inference is absolutely unwarranted by the facts.
In Australia, for instance, where children are most commonly named
after their mother's clan, there is no trace of woman's rule over man,
either in the present or the past. The man treats the woman as a
master treats his slaves, and is complete master of her children.
Cunow, an authority on Australian relationships, remarks (136):

"Nothing could be more perverse than to infer from the
custom of reasoning kinship through females, that woman
rules there, and that a father is not master of his
children. On the contrary, the father regards himself
everywhere, even in tribes with a female line of
descent, as the real procreator. He is considered to be
the one who plants the germ and the woman as merely the
soil in which it grows. And as the wife belongs to him,
so does the child that comes from her womb. Therefore
he claims also those children of his wife concerning
whom he knows or assumes that he did not beget them;
for they grew on his soil."

Similarly with the American Indians. Grosse has devoted several pages
(73-80) to show that with the tribes among which kinship through
females prevails woman's position is not in the least better than with
the others. Everywhere woman is bought, obliged to submit to polygamy,
compelled to do the hardest and least honorable work, and often
treated worse than a dog. The same is true of the African tribes among
whom kinship in the female line prevails.

If, therefore, kinship through mothers does not argue female
supremacy, how did that kinship arise? Le Jeune offered a plausible
explanation as long ago as 1632. In the _Jesuit Relations_ (VI., 255),
after describing the immorality of the Indians, he goes on to say:

"As these people are well aware of this corruption,
they prefer to take the children of their sisters as
heirs, rather than their own, or than those of their
brothers, calling in question the fidelity of their
wives, and being unable to doubt that these nephews
come from their own blood. Also among the Hurons--who
are more licentious than our Montagnais, because they
are better fed--it is not the child of a captain but
his sister's son, who succeeds the father."

The same explanation has been advanced by other writers and by the
natives of other countries where kinship through females prevails;[29]
and it doubtless holds true in many cases.

In others the custom of naming children after their mothers is
probably simply a result of the fact that a child is always more
closely associated with the mother than with the father. She brings it
into the world, suckles it, and watches over it; in the primitive
times, even if promiscuity was not prevalent, marriages were of short
duration and divorces frequent, wherefore the male parentage would be
so constantly in doubt that the only feasible thing was to name the
children after their mothers. For our purposes, fortunately, this
knotty problem of the origin of kinship through females, which has
given sociologists so much trouble,[30] does not need to be solved. We
are concerned solely with the question, "Does kinship in the female
line indicate the supremacy of women, or their respectful treatment?"
and that question, as we have seen, must be answered with a most
emphatic No. There is not a single fact to bear out the theory that
man's rule was ever preceded by a period when woman ruled. The lower
we descend, the more absolute and cruelly selfish do we find man's
rule over woman. The stronger sex everywhere reduces the weaker to
practical slavery and holds it in contempt. Primitive woman has not
yet developed these qualities in which her peculiar strength lies, and
if she had, the men would be too coarse to appreciate them.


(2) As we ascend in the scale we find a few cases where women rule or
at least share the rule with the men; but these occur not among
savages but with the lower and higher barbarians, and at the same time
they are, as Grosse remarks (161), "among the scarcest curiosities of
ethnology." The Garos of Assam have women at the head of their clans.
Dyak women are consulted in political matters and have equal rights
with the men. Macassar women in Celebes also are consulted as regards
public affairs, and frequently ascend the throne. A few similar cases
have been noted in Africa, where, _e.g._, the princesses of the
Ashantees domineer over their husbands; but these apply only to the
ruling class, and do not concern the sex as a whole. Some strange
tales of masculine submission in Nicaragua are told by Herrera. But
the best-known instance is that of the Iroquois and Hurons. Their
women, as Lafitau relates (I., 71), owned the land, and the crops,
they decided upon peace or war, took charge of slaves, and made
marriages. The Huron Wyandots had a political council consisting of
four women. The Iroquois Seneca women could chase lazy husbands from
the premises, and could even depose a chief. Yet these cases are not
conclusive as to the real status of the women in the tribe. The facts
cited are, as John Fiske remarks (_Disc. Amer_., I., 68), "not
incompatible with the subjection of women to extreme drudgery and
ill-treatment." Charlevoix, one of the eye-witnesses to these
exceptional privileges granted to some Indian women, declares
expressly that their domination was illusory; that they were, at home,
the slaves of their husbands; that the men despised them thoroughly,
and that the epithet "woman" was an insult.[31] And Morgan, who made
such a thorough study of the Iroquois, declares (322) that "the Indian
regarded woman as the inferior, the dependent, and the servant of man,
and, from nature and habit, she actually considered herself to be so."
The two honorable employments among Indians were war and hunting, and
these were reserved for the men. Other employments were considered
degrading and were therefore gallantly reserved for the women.


Comanche Indians, who treated their squaws with especial contempt,
nevertheless would not hesitate on occasion to submit to the rule of a
female chief (Bancroft, I., 509); and the same is true of other tribes
in America, Africa, etc. (Grosse, 163). In this respect, barbarians do
not differ from civilized races; queenship is a question of blood or
family and tells us nothing whatever about the status of women in
general. As regards the "equal rights" of the Dyak women just referred
to, if they really have them, it is not as women, but as men, that is,
in so far as they have become like men. This we see from what Schwaner
says (I., 161) of the tribes in the Southeast:

"The women are allowed great privileges and liberties.
Not infrequently they rule at home and over whole
tribes with manly power, incite to war, and often
personally lead the men to battle."

Honors paid to such viragoes are honors to masculinity, not to


Here again the transition from the barbarian to the Greek is easy and
natural. The ancient Greek looked down on women as women. "One man,"
exclaims Iphigenia in Euripides, "is worth more than ten thousand
women." There were, of course, certain virtues that were esteemed in
women, but these, as Becker has said, differed but little from those
required of an obedient slave. It is only in so far as women displayed
masculine qualities that they were held worthy of higher honor. The
heroines of Plutarch's essay on "The Virtues of Women" are women who
are praised for patriotic, soldier-like qualities, and actions. Plato
believed that men who were bad in this life would, on their next
birth, be women. The elevation of women, he held, could be best
accomplished by bringing them up to be like men. But this matter will
be discussed more fully in the chapter on Greece, as will that of the
_adulation_ which was paid to wanton women by Greek and Roman poets,
and which has been often mistaken for _adoration_. George Eliot speaks
of "that adoration which a young man gives to a woman whom he feels to
be greater and better than himself." No Greek ever felt a woman to be
"greater and better than himself," wherefore true adoration--the
deification of persons--was out of the question. But there was no
reason why a Greek or Roman should not have indulged in servile
flattery and hypocritical praise for the selfish purpose of securing
the carnal favors of a mercenarily coy courtesan. He was capable of
adulation but not of adoration, for one cannot adore a slave, a drudge
or a wanton. The author of the _Lover's Lexicon_ claims, indeed, that
"love can and does exist without respect," but that is false.
Infatuation of the senses may exist without respect, but refined,
sentimental love is blighted by the discovery of impurity or
vulgarity. Adoration is essential to true love, and adoration includes


If we must, therefore, conclude that man in primitive and ancient
times was unable to feel that love of which adoration is an essential
ingredient, how is it with women? From the earliest times, have they
not been taught, with club and otherwise, to look up to man as a
superior being, and did not this enable them to adore him with true
love? No, for primitive women, though they might fear or admire man
for his superior power, were too coarse, obscene, ignorant, and
degraded--being as a rule even lower than the men--to be able to share
even a single ingredient of the refined love that we experience. At
the same time it may be said (though it sounds sarcastic) that woman
had a natural advantage over man in being gradually trained to an
attitude of devotion. Just as the care of her infants taught her
sympathy, so the daily inculcated duty of sacrificing herself for her
lord and master fostered the germs of adoration. Consequently we find
at more advanced stages of civilization, like those represented by
India, Greece, and Japan, that whenever we come across a story whose
spirit approaches the modern idea of love, the embodiment of that love
is nearly always a woman. Woman had been taught to worship man while
he still wallowed in the mire of masculine selfishness and despised
her as an inferior. And to the present day, though it is not
considered decorous for young women to reveal their feelings till
after marriage or engagement, they adore their chosen ones:

For love's insinuating fire they fan
With sweet ideas of a god like man.

In this respect, as in so many others, woman has led civilization.
Man, too, gradually learned to doff his selfishness, and to respect
and adore women, but it took many centuries to accomplish the change,
which was due largely to the influence of Christ's teachings. As long
as the aggressive masculine virtues alone were respected, feminine
gentleness and pity could not but be despised as virtues of a lower
grade, if virtues at all. But as war became less and less the sole or
chief occupation of the best men, the feminine virtues, and those who
exercised them, claimed and received a larger share of respect.

Christianity emphasized and honored the feminine virtues of patience,
meekness, humility, compassion, gentleness, and thus helped to place
women on a level with man, and in the noblest of moral qualities even
above him. Mariolatry, too, exerted a great influence. The worship of
one immaculate woman gradually taught men to respect and adore other
women, and as a matter of course, it was the lover who found it
easiest to get down on his knees before the girl he worshipped.


One day while lunching at an African foudak, half way between Tangier
and Tetuan, I was led to moralize on the conjugal superiority of
Mohammedan roosters to Mohammedan men. Noticing a fine large cock in
the yard, I threw him a handful of bread-crumbs. He was all alone at
the moment and might have easily gobbled them all up. Instead of doing
such a selfish thing, he loudly summoned his harem with that peculiar
clucking sound which is as unmistakable to fowls as is the word dinner
or the boom of a gong to us. In a few seconds the hens had gathered
and disposed of the bread, leaving not a crumb to their gallant lord
and master. I need not add that the Sultan of a human harem in Morocco
would have behaved very differently under analogous circumstances.


The dictionary makers derive the word gallant from all sorts of roots
in divers languages, meaning gay, brave, festive, proud, lascivious,
and so on. Why not derive if from the Latin _gallus_, rooster? A
rooster combines in himself all the different meanings of the word
gallant. He is showy in appearance, brave, daring, attentive to
females, and, above all, chivalrous, that is, inclined to show
disinterested courtesy to the weaker sex, as we have just seen. In
this last respect, it is true, the rooster stands not alone. It is a
trait of male animals in general to treat their females unselfishly in
regard to feeding and otherwise.


If we now turn to human beings, we have to ascend many strata of
civilization before we come across anything resembling the unselfish
gallantry of the rooster. The Australian savage, when he has speared a
kangaroo, makes his wife cook it, then selects the juiciest cuts for
himself and the other men, leaving the bones to the women and dogs.

Ascending to the much higher Polynesians and American Indians we still
find that the women have to content themselves with what the men
leave. A Hawaiian even considers it a disgrace to eat at the same
place as his wife, or with the same utensils.

What Kowney says (173) of the Nagas of India--"she does everything the
husband will not, and he considers it effeminate to do anything but
fight, hunt, and fish"--is true of the lower races in general. An
African Kaffir, says Wood (73), would consider it beneath his dignity
to as much as lift a basket of rice on the head of even his favorite
wife; he sits calmly on the ground and allows some woman to help his
busy wife. "One of my friends," he continues,

"when rather new to Kaffirland, happened to look into a
hut and there saw a stalwart Kaffir sitting and smoking
his pipe, while the women were hard at work in the sun,
building huts, carrying timber, and performing all
kinds of severe labor. Struck with a natural
indignation at such behavior, he told the smoker to get
up and work like a man. This idea was too much even for
the native politeness of the Kaffir, who burst into a
laugh at so absurd a notion. 'Women work,' said he,
'men sit in the house and smoke.'"

MacDonald relates (in _Africana_, I., 35) that "a woman always kneels
when she has occasion to talk to a man." Even queens must in some
cases go on their knees before their husbands. (Ratzel, I., 254.)
Caille gives similar testimony regarding the Waissulo, and Mungo Park
(347) describes the return of one of his companions to the capital of
Dentila, after an absence of three years:

"As soon as he had seated himself upon a mat, by the
threshold of his door, a young woman (his intended
bride) brought a little water in a calabash, and
kneeling down before him, desired him to wash his
hands; when he had done this, the girl, with a tear of
joy sparkling in her eyes, drank the water; this being
considered as the greatest proof she could possibly
give him of her fidelity and attachment."

An Eskimo, when building a house, looks on lazily while his women
carry stones "almost heavy enough to break their backs." The ungallant
men not only compel the women to be their drudges, but slyly create a
sentiment that it is disgraceful for a man to assist them. Of the
Patagonian Indians Falkner asserts that the women are so rigidly
"obliged to perform their duty, that their husbands cannot help them
on any occasion, or in the greatest distress, without incurring the
highest ignominy," and this is the general feeling, of which other
illustrations will be given in later chapters. Foolish sentimentalists
have tried to excuse the Indians on the ground that they have no time
to attend to anything but fighting and hunting. But they always make
the squaws do the hard work, whether there be any war and hunting or
not. A white American girl, accustomed to the gallant attentions of
her lover, would not smile on the red Dacota suitor of whom Riggs
writes (205):

"When the family are abed and asleep, he often visits
her in her mother's tent, or he finds her out in the
grove in the day time gathering fuel. She has the load
of sticks made up, and when she kneels down to take it
on her back, possibly he takes her hand and helps her
up and then walks home by her side. Such was the custom
In the olden time."

Still, there is a germ of gallantry here. The Dacota at least helps to
load his human donkey, while the Kaffir refuses to do even that.

Colonel James Smith, who had been adopted by the Indians, relates (45)
how one day he helped the squaws to hoe corn. They approved of it, but
the old men afterward chid him for degrading himself by hoeing corn
like a squaw. He slyly adds that, as he was never very fond of work,
they had no occasion to scold him again. We read in Schoolcraft (V.,
268) that among the Creeks, during courtship, the young man used to
help the girl hoe the corn in her field, plant her beans and set poles
for them to run upon. But this was not intended as an act of gallant
assistance; it had a symbolic meaning. The running up of the beans on
the poles and the entwining of their vines was "thought emblematical
of their approaching union and bondage." Morgan states expressly in
his classical work on the Iroquois (332) that "no attempts by the
unmarried to please or gratify each other by acts of personal
attention were ever made." In other words the Indians knew not
gallantry in the sense of disinterested courtesy to the weaker
sex--the gallantry which is an essential ingredient of romantic love.

Germs of gallantry may perhaps be found in Borneo where, as St. John
relates (I., 161), a young Dyak may help the girl he wants to marry in
her farm work, carrying home her load of vegetables or wood, or make
her presents of rings, a petticoat, etc. But such a statement must be
interpreted with caution.

The very fact that they make the women do the field work and carry the
wood habitually, shows that the Dyaks are not gallant. Momentary
favors for the sake of securing favors in return, or of arranging an
ephemeral Bornean "marriage," are not acts of disinterested courtesy
to the weaker sex. The Dyaks themselves clearly understand that such
attentions are mere bids for favors. As a missionary cited by Ling
Roth (1., 13.1) remarks:

"If a woman handed to a man betel-nut and sirah to eat,
or if a man paid her the smallest attention, such as we
should term only common politeness, it would be
sufficient to excuse a jealous husband for striking a

It is the same in India.

"The politeness, attention, and gallantry which the
Europeans practise toward the ladies, although often
proceeding from esteem and respect, are invariably ascribed
by the Hindoos to a different motive."

(Dubois, I., 271.) Here, as everywhere in former times, woman existed
not for her own sake but for man's convenience, comfort, and pleasure;
why, therefore, should he bother to do anything to please her? In the
_Kaniasoutram_ there is a chapter on the duties of a model wife, in
which she is instructed to do all the work not only at home but in
garden, field, and stable. She must go to bed after her husband and
get up before him. She must try to excel all other wives in faithfully
serving her lord and master. She must not even allow the maid-servant
to wash his feet, but must do it with her own hands. The _Laws of
Manu_ are full of such precepts, most of them amazingly ungallant. The
horrible maltreatment of women in India, which it would be an
unpardonable euphuism to call simply ungallant, will be dwelt on in a
later chapter.

It has been said a thousand times that the best measure of a nation's
civilization is its treatment of women. It would be more accurate to
say that kind, courteous treatment of women is the last and highest
product of civilization. The Greeks and Hindoos had reached a high
level of culture in many respects, yet, judged by their treatment of
women, the Greeks were barbarians and the Hindoos incarnate fiends.
Scholars are sometimes surprisingly reckless in their assumptions.
Thus Hommel (1., 417) declares that woman must have held an honored
position in Babylonia,[32] because in the ancient texts that have come
down to us the words mother and wife always precede the words father
and husband. Yet, as Dubois mentions incidentally, the Brahmin texts
also place the feminine word before the masculine, and the Brahmins
treat women more cruelly than the lowest savages treat them.


I have not been able to find evidence of a gallant, chivalrous,
magnanimous attitude toward women in the records of any ancient
nation, and as romantic love is inconceivable without such an
attitude, and a constant interchange of kindnesses, we may infer from
this alone that these nations were strangers to such love. Professor
Ebers makes a special plea for the Egyptians. Noting the statements of
Herodotus and Diodorus regarding the greater degree of liberty enjoyed
by their women as compared with the Greek, he bases thereon the
inference that in their treatment of women the Egyptians were superior
to all other nations of antiquity. Perhaps they were; it is not
claiming much. But Professor Kendrick notes (I., 46) that although it
may be true that the Egyptian women went to market and carried on
trades while the men remained at home working at the loom, this is
capable of receiving quite a different interpretation from that given
by Ebers. The Egyptians regarded work at the loom more as a matter of
skill than the Greeks did; and if they allowed the women to do the
marketing, that may have been because they preferred to have them
carry the heavy burdens and do the harder work, after the fashion of
savages and barbarians.

If the Egyptians ever did show any respect for women they have
carefully wiped out all traces of it in modern life. To-day,

"among the lower classes and in rural districts the wife is
her husband's servant. She works while he smokes and
gossips. But among the higher classes, too, the woman
actually stands far below the man. He never chats with her,
never communicates to her his affairs and cares. Even after
death she does not rest by his side, but is separated from
him by a wall." (Ploss, II., 450.)

Polygamy prevails, as in ancient times, and polygamy everywhere
indicates a low position of woman. Ebers comments on the
circumspection shown by the ancient Egyptians in drawing up their
marriage contracts, adding that "in many cases there were even trial
marriages"--a most amazing "even" in view of what he is trying to
prove. A modern lover, as I have said before, would reject the very
idea of such a trial marriage with the utmost scorn and indignation,
because he feels certain that his love is eternal and unalterable.
Time may show that he was mistaken, but that does not affect his
present feeling. That sublime confidence in the eternity of his
passion is one of the hall-marks of romantic love. The Egyptian had it
not. He not only sanctioned degrading trial marriages, but enacted a

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