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Title: Romantic Love and Personal Beauty

Author: Henry T. Finck

Release date: August 4, 2019 [eBook #60054]

Language: English

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New York
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Set Up and Electrotyped, 1887
New Edition, February, 1903
Press of J. J. Little & Co.
Astor Place, New York


Evolution of Romantic Love 1
Cosmic Attraction and Chemical Affinities 3
Flower Love and Beauty 7
Impersonal Affection 11
Personal Affections 16
I. Love for Animals 16
II. Maternal Love 19
III. Paternal Love 20
IV. Filial Love 22
V. Brotherly and Sisterly Love 23
VI. Friendship 24
VII. Romantic Love 26
Overtones of Love 29
I. Individual Preference 30
II. Monopoly or Exclusiveness 30
III. Jealousy 30
IV. Coyness 30
V. Gallantry 31
VI. Self-Sacrifice 31
VII. Sympathy 31
VIII. Pride of Conquest and Possession 31
IX. Emotional Hyperbole 32
X. Mixed Moods 32
XI. Admiration of Personal Beauty 32
  Herbert Spencer on Love 33
Love among Animals 33
  Courtship 37
  (a) Jealousy 39
  (b) Coyness 40
  (c) Individual Preference 42
  (d) Personal Beauty and Sexual Selection 43
      (1) Protective Colours 48
ii      (2) Warning Colours 48
      (3) Typical Colours 48
      (4) Sexual Colours 49
  Love Charms and Love Calls 50
  Love Dances and Display 52
Love among Savages 54
  Strangers to Love 54
  Primitive Courtship 56
    (1) Capture 56
    (2) Purchase 58
    (3) Service 58
  Individual Preference 59
  Personal Beauty and Sexual Selection 60
  Jealousy and Polygamy 62
  Monopoly and Monogamy 63
  Primitive Coyness 64
  Can American Negroes Love? 66
History of Love 67
Love in Egypt 67
Ancient Hebrew Love 69
Ancient Aryan Love 72
  Hindoo Love Maxims 73
Greek Love 75
  Family Affection 75
  No Love Stories 76
  Woman’s Position 77
  Chaperonage versus Courtship 77
  Plato on Courtship 78
  Parental versus Lovers’ Choice 78
  The Hetæræ 79
  Platonic Love 80
  Sappho and Female Friendship 81
  Greek Beauty 83
  Cupid’s Arrows 84
  Origin of Love 85
Roman Love 86
  Woman’s Position 86
  No Wooing and Choice 87
  Virgil, Dryden, and Scott 89
  Ovid’s Art of Making Love 90
  Birth of Gallantry 91
Mediæval Love 92
  Celibacy versus Marriage 92
  Woman’s Lowest Degradation 93
iii  Negation of Feminine Choice 95
  Christianity and Love 97
  Chivalry—Militant and Comic 98
  Chivalry—Poetic 101
  (a) French Troubadours 102
  (b) German Minnesingers 103
  Female Culture 105
  Personal Beauty 107
  Spenser on Love 108
  Dante and Shakspere 109
Modern Love 111
  A Biologic Test 111
  Venus, Plutus, and Minerva 112
  Leading Motives 114
  Modern Coyness 114
    (1) An Echo of Capture 114
    (2) Maiden versus Wife 115
    (3) Modesty 115
    (4) Cunning to be Strange 115
    (5) Procrastination 116
    Goldsmith on Love 116
    Disadvantages of Coyness 118
    Coyness lessens Woman’s Love 120
    Masculine versus Feminine Love 120
    Flirtation and Coquetry 122
    Flirtation versus Coyness 123
    Modern Courtship 125
  Modern Jealousy 127
    Lover’s Jealousy 129
    Retrospective and Prospective Jealousy 131
    Jealousy and Beauty 133
  Monopoly or Exclusiveness 133
    True Love is Transient 135
    Is First Love Best? 136
    Heine on First Love 137
    First Love is not Best 137
  Pride and Vanity 141
    Coquetry 142
    Love and Rank 143
  Special Sympathy 145
    How Love Intensifies Emotions 146
    Development of Sympathy 147
    Pity and Love 150
    Love at First Sight 152
iv    Intellect and Love 154
  Gallantry and Self-Sacrifice 157
  Active and Passive Desire to Please 159
  Feminine Devotion 160
  Emotional Hyperbole 162
  Mixed Moods and Paradoxes 166
  Lunatic, Lover, and Poet 172
  Individual Preference 173
  Sexual Divergence 174
  Making Woman Masculine 175
  Love and Culture 176
  Personal Beauty 177
  Feminine Beauty in Masculine Eyes 177
  Masculine Beauty in Feminine Eyes 178
Conjugal Affection and Romantic Love 180
  Romance in Conjugal Love 184
  Marriages of Reason or Love Matches? 187
  Marriage Hints 189
Old Maids 190
Bachelors 194
Genius and Marriage 197
Genius and Love 201
Genius in Love 204
  (1) Precocity 204
  (2) Ardour 207
  (3) Fickleness 210
  (4) Multiplicity 213
  (5) Fictitiousness 215
Insanity and Love 218
  Analogies 218
  Erotomania, or Real Love-Sickness 222
The Language of Love 223
I. Words 223
II. Facial Expression 224
III. Caresses 225
Kissing—Past, Present, and Future 227
  Among Animals 227
  Among Savages 228
  Origin of Kissing 229
  Ancient Kisses 232
  Mediæval Kisses 233
  Modern Kisses 234
  Love Kisses 235
  How to Kiss 237
vHow to Win Love 238
  Brass Buttons 238
  Confidence and Boldness 239
  Pleasant Associations 240
  Perseverance 241
  Feigned Indifference 241
  Compliments 244
  Love Letters 246
  Love Charms for Women 250
  Proposing 253
  Diagnosis, or Signs of Love 254
How to Cure Love 255
  Absence 256
  Travel 257
  Employment 257
  Married Misery 257
  Feminine Inferiority 260
  Focussing Her Faults 262
  Reason versus Passion 263
  Love versus Love 264
  Prognosis, or Chances of Recovery 265
Nationality and Love 265
  French Love 266
  Italian Love 274
  Spanish Love 277
  German Love 280
  English Love 288
  American Love 294
Schopenhauer’s Theory of Love 301
  Love is an Illusion 302
  Individuals Sacrificed to the Species 302
  Sources of Love 303
    (1) Physical Beauty 303
    (2) Psychic Traits 304
    (3) Complementary Qualities 305
Four Sources of Beauty 310
I. Health 310
      Greek Beauty 313
      Mediæval Ugliness 314
      Modern Hygiene 316
II. Crossing 318
III. Romantic Love 322
IV. Mental Refinement 324
Evolution of Taste 327
vi  Savage Notions of Beauty 327
  Non-Æsthetic "Ornamentation" 328
  Personal Beauty as a Fine Art 329
  Negative Tests of Beauty 331
  (a) Animals 331
  (b) Savages 333
  (c) Degraded Classes 333
  (d) Age and Decrepitude 334
  (e) Disease 334
  Positive Tests of Beauty 338
  (a) Symmetry 338
  (b) Gradation 339
  (c) Curvature 341
        Masculine and Feminine Beauty 342
  (d) Delicacy 343
  (e) Smoothness 344
  (f) Lustre and Colour 345
  (g) Expression, Variety, Individuality 348
The Feet 351
  Size 351
  Fashionable Ugliness 352
  Tests of Beauty 354
  A Graceful Gait 357
  Evolution of the Great Toe 359
  National Peculiarities 361
  Beautifying Hygiene 362
  Dancing and Grace 364
  Dancing and Courtship 365
  Evolution of Dance Music 367
  The Dance of Love 369
  Ballet-Dancing 370
The Lower Limbs 371
  Muscular Development 371
  Beautifying Exercise 372
  Fashionable Ugliness 375
  The Crinoline Craze 376
The Waist 378
  The Beauty-Curve 378
  The Wasp-Waist Mania 379
  Hygienic Disadvantages 380
  Æsthetic Disadvantages 381
  Corpulence and Leanness 382
  The Fashion Fetish Analysed 386
  Individualism versus Fashion 389
vii  Masculine Fashions 391
Chest and Bosom 394
  Feminine Beauty 394
  Masculine Beauty 397
  Magic Effect of Deep Breathing 397
  A Moral Question 399
Neck and Shoulder 400
Arm and Hand 402
  Evolution and Sexual Differences 402
  Calisthenics and Massage 403
  The Second Face 405
  Finger Nails 406
  Manicure Secrets 407
Jaw, Chin, and Mouth 408
  Hands versus Jaws 408
  Dimples in the Chin 412
  Refined Lips 413
  Cosmetic Hints 421
The Cheeks 423
  High Cheek Bones 423
  Colour and Blushes 425
The Ears 429
  A Useless Ornament 429
  Cosmetics and Fashion 431
  Physiognomic Vagaries 433
  Noise and Civilisation 434
  A Musical Voice 435
The Nose 436
  Size and Shape 436
  Evolution of the Nose 438
  Greek and Hebrew Noses 440
  Fashion and Cosmetic Surgery 443
  Nose-Breathing and Health 445
  Cosmetic Value of Odours 446
The Forehead 448
  Beauty and Brain 448
  Fashionable Deformity 450
  Wrinkles 451
The Complexion 453
  White versus Black 453
  Cosmetic Hints 460
  Freckles and Sunshine 462
The Eyes 464
  Colour 465
viii  Lustre 469
  Form 472
  Expression 475
  (a) Lustre 476
  (b) Colour of Iris 478
  (c) Movements of the Iris 479
  (d)    ”       ”     Eyeball 480
  (e)    ”       ”     Eyelids 482
  (f)    ”       ”     Eyebrows 485
  Cosmetic Hints 485
The Hair 486
  Cause of Man’s Nudity 486
  Beards and Moustaches 489
  Baldness and Depilatories 492
  Æsthetic Value of Hair 494
Brunette and Blonde 496
  Blonde versus Brunette 496
  Brunette versus Blonde 498
  Why Cupid Favours Brunettes 499
Nationality and Beauty 505
French Beauty 506
Italian Beauty 511
Spanish Beauty 515
German and Austrian Beauty 522
English Beauty 528
American Beauty 535


Of all the rhetorical commonplaces in literature and conversation, none is more frequently repeated than the assertion that Love, as depicted in a thousand novels and poems every year, has existed at all times, and in every country, immutable as the mountains and the stars.

Only a few months ago one of the leading German writers of the period, Ernst Eckstein, wrote an essay in which he endeavoured to prove that not only was Love as felt by the ancient Romans the same as modern Love, but that it was identical with the modern sentiment even in its minutest details and manifestations. He based this bold inference on the fact that in Ovid’s Ars Amoris directions are given to the men regarding certain tricks of gallantry—such as dusting the adored one’s seat at the circus, fanning her, applauding her favourites, and drinking from the cup where it was touched by her lips.

Curious and interesting these hints are, no doubt. But a closer examination of Roman literature and manners shows that Dr. Eckstein has been guilty of the common blunder of generalising from a single instance. Gallantry is one of the essential traits of modern Love; and far from having been a common practice in ancient Rome, the interest of Ovid’s remarks lies in the fact that they give us the first instance on record of an attempt at gallant behaviour on the part of the men; as will be shown in detail in the chapter on Roman Love.

And as with Gallantry, so with the other traits which make up the group of emotions known to us as Love. We look for them in vain among modern savages, in vain among the ancient civilised nations. Romantic Love is a modern sentiment, less than a thousand years old.

2Conjugal Love is, indeed, often celebrated by Greek, Hebrew, and other ancient writers, but regarding Romantic—or pre-matrimonial—Love (which alone forms the theme of our novelists), they are silent. The Bible takes no account of it, and although Greek literature and mythology seem at first sight to abound in allusions to it, critical analysis shows that the reference never is to Love as we understand it. Greek Love, as will be shown hereafter, was a peculiar mixture of friendship and passion, differing widely from the modern sentiment of Love.

It is because among the Romans the position of woman was somewhat more elevated and modern than among the Greeks, that we find in Roman literature a vague foreshadowing of some of the elements of modern Love.

In the Dark Ages there is a relapse. The germs of Love could not flourish in a period when women were kept in brutal subjection by the men, and their minds refused all nourishment and refinement. The Troubadours of Italy and France proved useful champions of woman, as did the German Minnesingers, by teaching the mediæval military man to look upon her with sentiments of respect and adoration. Yet their conduct rarely harmonised with their preaching; and the cause of Romantic Love gained little by their poetic effusions, which were almost invariably addressed to married women.

Not till Dante’s Vita Nuova appeared was the gospel of modern Love—the romantic adoration of a maiden by a youth—revealed for the first time in definite language. Genius, however, is always in advance of its age, in emotions as well as in thoughts; and the feelings experienced by Dante were obviously not shared by his contemporaries, who found them too subtle and sublimated for their comprehension. And, in fact, they were too ethereal to quite correspond with reality. The strings of Dante’s lyre were strung too high, and touched by his magic hand, gave forth harmonic overtones too celestial for mundane ears to hear.

It remained for Shakspere to combine the idealism with the realism of Love in proper proportions. The colours with which he painted the passion and sentiment of modern Love are as fresh and as true to life as on the day when they were first put on his canvas. Like Dante, however, he was emotionally ahead of his time, as an examination of contemporary literature in England and elsewhere shows. But within the last two centuries Love has gradually, if slowly, assumed among all educated people characteristics which formerly it possessed only in the minds of a few isolated men of genius.

3Before we proceed to prove all these assertions in detail, it will be well to cast a brief glance at the analogies to human Love presented by cosmic, chemical, and vegetal phenomena; as well as to distinguish Romantic Love from other forms of human and animal affection. This will enable us to comprehend more clearly what modern Love is, by making apparent what it is not.


It is a favourite device of poets to invest plants and even inanimate objects with human thoughts and feelings. The parched, withering flower, tormented by the pangs of thirst, implores the passing cloud for a few drops of the vital fluid; and the cloud, moved to pity at sight of the suffering beauty, sheds its welcome, soothing tears.

“And ’tis my faith, that every flower
Enjoys the air it breathes.”—Wordsworth.
“The moon shines bright: in such a night as this,
When the sweet wind did gently kiss the trees,
And they did make no noise.”
    .    .    .    .    .    .    .    .
“Purple the sails, and so perfumed that
The winds were love-sick with them.”—Shakspere.

One of the first authors who thus endowed non-human objects with human feelings was the Greek philosopher Empedokles, who flourished about twenty-three centuries ago. Just as the last of the great German metaphysicians, Schopenhauer, believed that all the forces of Nature—astronomic, chemical, biological, etc.—are identical with the human Will, of which they represent different stages of development or “objectivation,” so Empedokles insisted that the two ruling passions of the human soul, Love and Hate, are the two principles which pervade and rule the whole universe. In the primitive condition of things, he taught, the four elements, Earth, Water, Air, and Fire are mingled harmoniously, and Love rules supreme. Then Hate intervenes and produces individual, separate forms. Plants are developed, and after them animals, or rather, at first, only single organs—detached eyes, arms, hands, etc. Then Love reasserts its force and unites these separate organs into complete animals. Strange monstrosities are the result of some of these unions—animals of double sex, human heads on the bodies of oxen, or horned heads on the bodies of men. These, however, perish, while others, which are congruous and adapted to their surroundings, survive and multiply.

4Thus Empedokles, “the Greek Darwin,” was the originator of a theory of evolution based on the alternate predominance of cosmic Love and Hate; Love being the attractive, Hate the repulsive force.

In the preface to the first volume of Don Quixote, Cervantes refers those who wish to acquire some information concerning Love to an Italian treatise by Judah Leo. The full title of the book, which appeared in Rome in the sixteenth century, is Dialoghi di amore, Composti da Leone Medico, di nazione Ebreo, e di poi fatto cristiano. There are said to be three French translations of it, but it was only after long searching that I succeeded in finding a copy, at the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris. It proved to be a strange medley of astrology, metaphysics, theology, classical erudition, mythology, and mediæval science. Burton, in the chapter on Love, in his Anatomy of Melancholy, quotes freely from this work of Leo, whom he names as one of about twenty-five authors who wrote treatises on Love in ancient and mediæval times.

Like Empedokles, Leo identifies cosmic attraction with Love. But he points out three degrees of Love—Natural, Sensible, and Rational.

By Natural Love he means those “sympathies” which attract a stone to the earth, make rivers flow to the sea, keep the sun, moon, and stars in their courses, etc. Burton (1652) agrees with Leo, and asks quaintly, “How comes a loadstone to draw iron to it ... the ground to covet showers, but for love? ... no stock, no stone, that has not some feeling of love. ’Tis more eminent in Plants, Hearbs, and is especially observed in vegetals; as betwixt the Vine and Elm a great sympathy,” etc.

“Sensible” Love is that which prevails among animals. In it Leo recognises the higher elements of delight in one another’s company, and of attachment to a master.

“Rational” Love, the third and highest class, is peculiar to God, angels, and men.

But the inclination to confound gravitation and other natural forces with Love is not to be found among ancient and mediæval authors alone. Paradoxical as it may seem, it is the “gross materialist,” Dr. Ludwig Büchner, who exclaims rapturously: “For it is love, in the form of attraction, which chains stone to stone, earth to earth, star to star, and which holds together the mighty edifice on which we stand, and on the surface of which, like parasites, we carry on our existence, barely noticeable in the infinite universe; and on which we shall continue to exist till that distant period when its component parts will again be resolved into that 5primal chaos from which it laboriously severed itself millions of years ago, and became a separate planet.”

Büchner carries on this anthropopathic process a step farther, by including all the chemical affinities of atoms and molecules as manifestations of love: “Just as man and woman attract one another, so oxygen attracts hydrogen, and, in loving union with it, forms water, that mighty omnipresent element, without which no life nor thought would be possible.” And again: “Potassium and phosphorus entertain such a violent passion for oxygen that even under water they burn—i.e. unite themselves with the beloved object.”

Goethe’s novel, Elective Affinities, which was inspired by a late and hopeless passion of its author, is based on this chemical notion that no physical obstacle can separate two souls that are united by an amorous affinity. But the practical outcome of his theory—that the psychic affinity of two persons suffices to impress the characteristics of both on the offspring of one of them—has nothing to support it in medical experience; while the chemical analogy, with all due deference to Goethe’s reputation as a man of science, is against his view. His notion was that the children of two souls loving one another will inherit their characteristics. But what distinguishes a chemical compound (based on “affinity”) from a mere physical mixture, is precisely the contrary fact that the compound does not in any respect resemble the parental elements! Read what a specialist says in Watts’s Dictionary of Chemistry:—

“Definite chemical compounds generally differ altogether in physical properties from their components. Thus, with regard to colour, yellow sulphur and gray mercury produce red cinnabar; purple iodine and gray potassium yield colourless iodide of potassium.... The density of a compound is very rarely an exact mean between that of its constituents, being generally higher, and in a few cases lower; and the taste, smell, refracting power, fusibility, volatility, conducting power for heat and electricity, and other physical properties, are not for the most part such as would result from mere mixture of their constituents.”

Chemical affinities, accordingly, cannot be used as analogies of Love. Not even on account of the violent individual preference shown by two elements for one another, for this apparently individual preference is really only generic. A piece of phosphorus will as readily unite with one cubic foot of oxygen as with another; whereas it is the very essence of Love that it demands a union with one particular individual, and no other.

Equally unsatisfactory are all similar attempts to identify Love 6with gravitation or other forms of cosmic attraction. Here is what a great expert in Love has to say on this subject: “The attraction of love, I find,” writes Burns, “is in inverse proportion to the attraction of the Newtonian philosophy. In the system of Sir Isaac, the nearer objects are to one another, the stronger is the attractive force. In my system, every milestone that marked my progress from Clarinda awakened a keener pang of attachment to her.”

How beautifully, in other respects, does the law of gravitation simulate the methods of Love! Does not the meteor which passionately falls on this planet and digs a deep hole into it, show its love in this manner, even as that affectionate bear who smashed his master’s forehead in order to kill the fly on it? Does not the avalanche which thunders down the mountain-side and buries a whole forest and several villages, afford another touching illustration of the love of attraction, or cosmic Love?—a crushing argument in its favour? Or the frigid glacier, in its slower course, does it not lacerate the sides of the valley, and strew about its precious boulders, merely by way of illustrating the amorous effect of gravitation? And millions of years hence, will not this same law of attraction enable the sun to prove his ecstatic love for our earth by swallowing her up and reducing her to her primitive chaotic state? Imagine a man and a woman whose love consists in this, that they must be kept widely separated by a hostile force to prevent them from dashing together, and reducing each other to atoms and molecules! That is the “love” of the stars and planets.

But it is needless to continue this reductio ad absurdum of pantheistic or panerotic vagaries. The method of the writers on Love here quoted—Empedokles, Leo, Burton, Büchner—has been to identify Love with cosmic force simply because they possess in common the one quality of attraction, by virtue of which the large earth hugs a small stone, and a large man a small maiden. Modern scientific psychology objects to this (i.e. not the hugging, but the method), because it does not in the least aid us in understanding the nature of Love; and because it is as irrational to call attraction Love as it would be to call a brick a house, a leaf a tree, or a green daub a rainbow. For Love embraces every colour in the spectrum of human emotion.

Having failed to find a satisfactory solution of the mystery of Love in the inorganic world, let us now see if the vegetable kingdom offers no better analogies in its sexual phenomena.



Until a few decades ago, it was the universal belief that flowers had been specially created for man’s exclusive delight. This was such an easy way, you know, to overcome the difficulty of explaining the immense variety of forms and colours in the floral world; and it was, above all, so flattering to man’s egregious vanity. But one fine morning in May a German naturalist, Conrad Sprengel, published a remarkable book in which he pointed out that flowers owe their peculiar shape, colour, and fragrance to the visits of insects. Not that the insects visit the flowers in order to shape and paint and perfume them. On the contrary, they visit them for the unæsthetic purpose of eating their pollen and their honey; while the flowers’ scent and colour exist solely for the purpose of indicating to winged insects at a distance where they can find a savoury lunch.

But why should flowers take such pains to attract insects by serving them with a breakfast of honey, and by hanging out big petals to serve as coloured and perfumed signal-flags? Nature is economical in the expenditure of energy; and as the production of honey and large flowers costs the plant some of its vital energies, we may be sure that this expenditure secures the plant some superior advantage. Sprengel noticed that the insects, while pillaging flowers of their honey, unwittingly brushed off with their wings and feet some of the fertilising dust or pollen, and carried it to the pistil or female part of a flower. But it remained for Darwin to point out what advantage this transference of the pollen secured to the flower. Darwin, says Sir John Lubbock, “was the first clearly to perceive that the essential service which insects perform to flowers consists not only in transferring the pollen from the stamens to the pistil, but in transferring it from the stamens of one flower to the pistil of another. Sprengel had indeed observed in more than one instance that this was the case, but he did not altogether appreciate the importance of the fact. Mr. Darwin however, has not only made it clear from theoretical considerations, but has also proved it, in a variety of cases, by actual experiment. More recently Fritz Müller has even shown that in some cases pollen, if placed on the stigma of the same flower, has no more effect than so much inorganic dust; while, and this is perhaps even more extraordinary, in others, the pollen placed on the stigma of the same flower acted on it like poison”—a curious analogy to the current belief that close intermarriage is injurious to mankind.

8What Darwin and others have proved by their experiments is that cross-fertilised flowers are more vigorous than those fertilised with their own pollen, and have a more healthy and numerous offspring. With this fact before us we need only apply the usual evolutionary formula to account for the beauty of flowers. It is well known that Nature rarely, if ever, produces two leaves or plants that are exactly alike. There is also a natural tendency in all parts of a plant except the leaves to develop other colours besides green. Now any plant which, owing to chemical causes, favourable position, etc., developed an unusually brilliant colour, would be likely to attract the attention of a winged insect in search of pollen-food. The insect, by alighting on a second flower soon after, would fertilise it with the pollen of the first flower that adhered to its limbs, thus securing to the plant the advantages of cross-fertilisation. Thanks to the laws of heredity, this advantage would be transmitted to the young plants, among which again those most favoured would gain an advantage and a more numerous offspring. And thus the gradual development not only of coloured petals, but of scents and honey, can be accounted for.

What makes this argument irresistible is the additional fact, first pointed out by Darwin, that plants which are not visited by insects, but are fertilised by the agency of the wind, are neither adorned with beautifully-coloured flowers, nor provided with honey or fragrance. And another most important fact: Darwin found that flowers which depend on the wind for their fertilisation follow the natural tendency of objects to a symmetrical form; whereas the irregular flowers are always those fertilised by insects or birds. This points to the conclusion that insects and birds are responsible not only for the colours and fragrance of flowers, but also for the shape of those that are most unique and fantastic. And this a priori inference is borne out by thousands of curious and most fascinating observations described in the works of Darwin, Lubbock, Müller, and many others. The briefest and clearest presentation of the subject is in Lubbock’s Flowers, Fruits, and Leaves, which no one interested in natural æsthetics should fail to read. There is indeed no more interesting study in biology than the mutual adaptation of flowers, bees, butterflies, humming-birds, etc.; for just as these animals have modified the forms of flowers, so the flowers have altered the shape of these animals.

Many of the changes in the shapes of flowers are made not only with a view to facilitate the visits of winged insects, but also for keeping out creeping intruders, such as ants, which are very fond of honey, but which, as they do not fly, would not aid the cause of 9cross-fertilisation. Of these contrivances, “the most frequent are the interposition of chevaux de frise, which ants cannot penetrate, glutinous surfaces which they cannot traverse, slippery slopes which they cannot climb, or barriers which close the way.”

How obtuse are those who, with Ruskin and Emerson, accuse science of destroying the poetry of nature! What poetry is there in the thought that flowers were made for unæsthetic man, when not one man in a thousand ever takes the trouble to examine one, while for every single flower on which a human eye ever rests, a million are born to blush unseen?

But if we abandon the narrow anthropocentric point of view, and admit that insects too have a right to live, how the scope of Nature’s poetry widens! How easy it then becomes to share not only Wordsworth’s belief that “every flower enjoys the air it breathes,” but to endow it with a thousand thoughts and emotions like our own—delight in a gaily-coloured floral envelope; hope that yonder gaudy butterfly will be attracted by it; anxiety lest that “horrid” ant may steal some of its honey; determination to breathe the sweetest perfume on this darling honey bee, so as to induce it to speedily call again.

Love dramas, too, tragic and comic, are enacted in this world of flowers and insects. Thus the Arum plant resorts to the following stratagem to secure a messenger of love for carrying its pollen to a distant female flower:—

“The stigmas come to maturity first, and have lost the possibility of fertilisation before the pollen is ripe. The pollen must therefore be brought by insects, and this is effected by small flies, which enter the leaf, either for the sake of honey or of shelter, and which, moreover, when they have once entered the tube, are imprisoned by the fringe of hairs. When the anthers ripen, the pollen falls on to the flies, which, in their efforts to escape, get thoroughly dusted with it. Then the fringe of hairs withers, and the flies, thus set free, soon come out, and ere long carry the pollen to another plant” (Lubbock).

Then there are male flowers which go a-courting like any amorous swain of a Sunday night. One of these belongs to the Valisneria plant, concerning which the same writer observes that “the female flowers are borne on long stalks, which reach to the surface of the water, on which the flowers float. The male flowers, on the contrary, have short, straight stalks, from which, when mature, the pollen detaches itself, rises to the surface, and, floating freely on it, is wafted about, so that it comes in contact with the female flowers.”

10But alas for the poor flowers! Few of them are thus privileged to roam about and seek their own bride. Most flowers have no more free choice in the selection of their spouse than an Oriental or a French girl. There is no previous acquaintance, no courtship before marriage, hence no Romantic Love, even if the undifferentiated germs of nervous protoplasm in the plant were capable of feeling such an emotion.

Poor flowers! Their honeymoon is without pleasure, unconscious. The wind may woo, the butterfly caress them—but the wind has no thought of the flower, and the insect’s attachment is mere “cupboard love.” The beauty of one flower cannot exist for another which has no eyes to see it; its honey and its fragrance are not for a floral lover’s delight, but for a gastronomic insect’s epicurean use. No modest coyness, no harmless flirtation, no gallant devotion and self-sacrifice, enter into the flower’s sexual life; not even the bitter-sweet pangs of jealousy, for, as Heine has ascertained, “the butterfly stops not to ask the flower, ‘Has any one kissed thee before?’ nor does the flower ask, ‘Hast thou already flitted about another?’”

Thus “flower-love,” with all its poetic analogies, has none of the elements of Romantic Love. Even attraction fails, for plants are commonly sessile, and cannot go forth to seek a mate.

“I prayed the flowers,
Oh, tell me, what is love?
Only a fragrant sigh was wafted
Thro’ the night.”—German Song.

Two important lessons of this chapter should, however, be carefully borne in mind; for though our search for Love has so far yielded only negative results, some light has been thrown on the general laws of Beauty in Nature. The lessons are:—

(1) That there is in flowers a natural tendency towards Symmetry of Form, all normal irregularities being due to the agency of insects and birds.

(2) That the superior Beauty of one flower over another is due to its superior vitality or Health, which, again, is promoted by cross-fertilisation or intermarriage—the choosing of a mate not in the same but in another flower-bed.

Regarding the beauty of flowers a further detail may be added. Some of the coloured lines on flowers are so placed as to guide the visiting bees to the nectar or honey. More complicated colour-patterns probably owe their existence to the advantage of having an easy means of recognition at a distance. It is well known that 11bees on any single expedition visit the flowers of one species only. Now it has been experimentally proved by Lubbock that bees can distinguish different colours; and, if we may judge by analogy with the human eye, they can distinguish colours at a greater distance than forms. Hence the advantage to each flower of having its own colours in its flag.


From the sexual life of plants we ought to pass on to that of animals; but before doing so, it will be advisable to ascertain clearly what is meant by Romantic Love, and how it differs from other forms of affection, impersonal and personal; from the love for inanimate objects and for plants and animals; from the family affections—maternal, paternal, filial, brotherly, and sisterly love; from friendship; and from conjugal love.

Love is the most attractive word in the language, as Heine and Oliver Wendell Holmes have remarked. Out of every half-dozen novels one is likely to have the word Love in its title, as a bait sure to catch readers. But whereas novelists always use this word in the sense of Romantic or pre-matrimonial Love, in common language it is vaguely used as a synonym for any kind of attachment, from that of Romeo to the schoolgirl who “just loves caramels.” For the verb to love there is perhaps no satisfactory and equally comprehensive substitute; but in place of the noun love it is advisable, at least in a scientific work, to use the word Affection, which comprehends every form of love mentioned above. In the present work Love, with a capital L, always means Romantic Love.

Professor Calderwood, in his Handbook of Moral Philosophy, says that “Affection is inclination towards others, disposing us to give from our own resources what may influence them either for good or ill. In practical tendency, the Affections are the reverse of the Desires. Desires absorb, Affections give out. Affections presuppose a recognition of certain qualities in persons, and, in a modified degree, in lower sentient beings, but not in things, for the exercise of Affection presupposes in the object of it the possibility either of harmony or antagonism of feeling.”

In other words, the eminent Scotch moralist thinks we can entertain affections only towards human beings, and, to some degree, towards animals; but not towards plants or inanimate objects. Careful analysis of our emotions, however, does not sustain this distinction, which is as unpoetic as it is anthropocentric 12and unscientific. Dr. Calderwood obviously confounds affection with sympathy. Sympathy means literally to suffer with another, or to share his feelings; and this, indeed, “presupposes in the object of it the possibility either of harmony or antagonism of feeling.” But affection, in his own words, “gives out,” and hence can be bestowed, and is bestowed, by all emotional and refined persons on a variety of “things,” that are neither sentient nor even animate; and a poetic soul will even feel sympathy with such a non-sentient thing as a crushed flower, for his imagination unconsciously endows it with the requisite feeling.

“Things” are of two kinds—those fashioned by man, and those produced by Nature. A poem, a symphony, a violin, a novel come under the first head; a tree, a precious metal, a mountain under the second. An author who has passed through the whole gamut of emotion in writing his book, follows its fate with a paternal pride and an affectionate anxiety as great as if his bodily child had been sent into the world to seek its fortune. Perhaps the story of the German soldier who was carried off his feet by a cannon-ball, and who grasped first his pipe and then his severed leg, is not a legend. For was not his pipe, like a good, friend, associated with all the pleasant hours of his life? An artist certainly can entertain for his favourite instrument an affection almost, if not quite, human in quality. When Ole Bull suffered shipwreck on the Mississippi, he swam ashore, holding his violin high above water, at the risk of his life. And to an amateur who has often called upon his pianoforte to feed his momentary mood with a nocturne or a scherzo, the instrument soon assumes the functions of “a true friend, to whom,” as Bacon would say, “you may impart griefs, joys, fears, hopes, suspicions, counsels, and whatever lieth upon the heart to oppress it, in a kind of civil shrift or confession.”

As for “things” not produced by man, who that has ever spent a summer in Switzerland is not quite willing to believe the legend of the Swiss Heimweh—the exiled mountaineer’s reminiscent longing and affection for his native haunts, which causes him to die of a broken heart, even if wife and children accompany him in his exile? His feelings are not identical with the æsthetic admiration of a tourist; for these imply a certain degree of novelty and artistic perception foreign to his mind. They are true impersonal affection, for the snowy summits, sluggish glaciers, azure lakes, chasing clouds coyly playing hide-and-seek with the scenery below; the balmy breezes, and boisterous storm-winds; the green slopes studded with cows, whose welcome chimes alone 13interrupt the sublime silence of the Alpine summits. For these sounds and scenes are so interwoven with all his experiences, thoughts, and associations, that he cannot live and be happy without them in a foreign land.

The attitude of an æsthetically-refined visitor is thus expressed by Byron: “I live not in myself, but I become portion of that around me; and to me high mountains are a feeling”—a poetic anticipation of Schopenhauer’s doctrine, that for true æsthetic enjoyment it is necessary that the percipient subject be completely merged in the perceived object,—the personal man and the impersonal mountain becoming one and indistinguishable.

Like Romantic Love, the affection for the grander aspects of Nature appears to be essentially a modern sentiment. The Greeks, as has often been pointed out, had little regard for the impersonal beauties of Nature; and to make the forests, brooks, and mountains attractive to the popular mind the poets had to people them with personal beauties; with nymphs and dryads and goddesses.

The latest phase of the modern passion for impersonal nature includes even its most dismal and awe-inspiring aspects, with an ecstatic predilection that would have seemed incomprehensible to an ancient Greek. This phase has been thus beautifully described by Ruskin: “There is a sense of the material beauty, both of inanimate nature, the lower animals, and human beings, which in the iridescence, colour-depth, and morbid (I use the word deliberately) mystery and softness of it—with other qualities indescribable by any single words, and only to be analysed by extreme care—is found to the full only in five men that I know of in modern times; namely, Rousseau, Shelley, Byron, Turner, and myself, differing totally and in the entire group of us from the delight in clear-struck beauty of Angelico and the Trecentisti, and separated, much more singularly, from the cheerful joys of Chaucer, Shakspere, and Scott, by its unaccountable affection for ‘Rokkes blok’ and other forms of terror and power, such as those of the ice-oceans, which to Shakspere were only Alpine rheum; and the Via Malas and Diabolic Bridges which Dante would have condemned none but lost souls to climb or cross,—all this love of impending mountains, coiled thunderclouds, and dangerous sea, being joined in us with a sulky, almost ferine, love of retreat in valleys of Charmettes, gulphs of Spezzia, ravines of Olympus, low lodgings in Chelsea, and close brushwood at Coniston.”

Ruskin flatters himself if he still imagines he is the sole living possessor of this feeling. Though there is much hypocrisy and 14guide-book-star-admiration among tourists, there are yet unquestionably hundreds who enjoy the Via Malas, the ice-oceans and solitary Swiss valleys they visit; and though their dismal delight may not be so intense as Ruskin’s, it is yet sufficient to indicate the growth of a general affection for impersonal nature in all her moods, whether smiling or frowning.

To a mind that can thus rise above human associations and utilities, the sublimest thing in the world is the absolute solitude of an Alpine summit. To the ignorant peasant the harsh cow-bell which interrupts this silence is sweet music, because it suggests the abodes of mankind; and on this primitive stage of æsthetic culture Jeffrey placed himself when he wrote that, “It is man, and man alone, that we see in the beauties of the earth which he inhabits.”

Inasmuch as mountain solitudes are accessible to only a very small proportion of mankind, the existence of true impersonal affection on a large scale can be more easily demonstrated by recurring for a moment to the floral world. A city belle is apt to look upon flowers merely from a social or military point of view; the more bouquets, the more evidence of admiration and conquest. of male hearts. And the city belle can hardly be blamed for this callousness of feeling; for bunched flowers have lost as much of their natural charm and grace as butterflies stuck up on rows of pins in a museum. But watch that fair gardener in a suburban cottage or a country seat; how she recognises every individual plant, every single flower, as a friend for whose comfort she provides with all the affectionate care which as a child she lavished on her doll. If, after a refreshing shower, the flowers hold up their heads and look bright and happy, her face reflects the same feeling; if a drouth has parched them and dimmed their lustre, she will neglect her own pleasures to bring them water, and derive from this charitable action the same sympathetic pleasure as if they had been so many suffering human beings. And if an early frost kills all her floral friends, her sorrow and despair will find vent in a flood of tears. What is all this but affection—true affection—though flowers be but “things,” and not “sentient beings.”

Obviously Professor Calderwood erred in his definition of affection; for, as the above analysis shows, when the regard for an impersonal object rises to the fervour of adoring interest, it does not specifically differ from personal affections any more than, for example, maternal love differs from friendship. Unemotional persons, who have had no opportunities to cultivate their love of 15Nature, may feel inclined to doubt this; but they should remember that just as there is an intellectual eminence (Shakspere, Kant, Wagner) which the ignorant are too lazy or too weak to climb, so there is an emotional horizon, beyond which those only can see who have taken the trouble to ascend the summit whence a wider scene is unfolded to the view.

From one point of view, impersonal affections are even higher and nobler than personal attachments. The evolution of emotions has been but little studied, but so much is apparent—that there has been a gradual development from utilitarian attachments to those that are less utilitarian, or less obviously so. Personal affections are too often exclusively selfish and based on material interests, as the loss of “friends,” which commonly follows the loss of wealth or position, shows. Whereas impersonal attachments are less apt to be interested, selfish, and fickle, since they presuppose more intellectual power, more imagination, more refinement.

Again, although it must be admitted that man is the crown and compendium of Nature, uniting in himself most of the excellences of the lower kingdoms with others exclusively his own; yet it cannot be denied, either, that the vast majority of these “crowns” of Nature are so full of flaws in workmanship, and have lost so many of their jewels, that the sight of them is anything but exhilarating. Indeed, it is obvious that the average plant and the average animal are, in their way, far superior to the average man, in beauty, health, vitality; natural selection, which has been arrested in man, having made them so. No wonder, then, that some of the greatest minds have turned away from mankind, and devoted all their thoughts and energies to the world of “things” and ideas.

Goethe and other men of genius have often been accused of being cold and unsympathetic, because they refused to shape their conduct so as to please the people with whom they chanced to come into contact. Had they wasted their affections and sympathies on their commonplace admirers and acquaintances, instead of bestowing them on art and science, on the great ideas that teemed in their brains, we should now be without many of those glorious works which could never have been created had not their authors ignored personal relations for the time being, and bestowed all their warmest impersonal affections on their ideas.

As compared with men of genius, women have achieved but little that can lay claim to immortal fame; and the principal reason of this is that their affections are apt to be too exclusively personal. A girl will assiduously practice on the piano as long as 16that will assist her in fascinating her suitors. But how many women, outside the ranks of teachers, continue their practice after marriage, from the impersonal love of music itself? Needless to say they have no time; for every hour devoted to emotional refreshment strengthens the nerves for two hours of extra labour.

As regards the love of Nature, woman is, indeed, artificially hampered. She may botanise to some extent, but she cannot, as a rule, indulge in those solitary walks in a virgin forest which alone can establish a deep communion with Nature. If accompanied by friend, brother, husband, or lover, her thought will inevitably retain a human tinge. No doubt there is something comic in the ardent affection with which a German professor hugs his pet theory regarding the Greek dative, or the origin of honey in flowers, and in the ferocity with which he will defend it against his best friends, if they happen to oppose it. But such complete devotion to abstract crotchets is absolutely necessary to the discovery of original ideas: and as women are rarely able or willing to emerge from the haunts of personal emotion, this explains why they have achieved greatness in hardly anything but novel-writing, which is chiefly concerned with personal emotions.



Over inanimate objects and plants we have this great emotional advantage that we can love them, whereas they cannot love us, nor even one another, though related by marriage, like flowers.

Animals, however, can love both us and one another and be loved; and this establishes a distinction between them and lower beings, and a relationship with us, that warrants us in placing their attachments under the head of Personal Affections.

Calderwood is sufficiently liberal to admit that, to a degree animals may be included in our affections. But Adolf Horwicz who has written the most complete, and, on the whole, most satisfactory analysis of the human feelings in existence, denies this. “Love is and remains a personal feeling,” he asserts; it “can only be referred to persons, not to things. The tenderness of American ladies towards dogs and cats is simply a gross emotional caricature.”

So it is, very often, especially in the case of ladies who neglect their children and make fashionable pets of animals, changing and exchanging them with the fashion. But it is simply absurd to 17mention this case as a fair instance of human love towards animals. How many of the greatest geniuses the world has produced have become famous for their affectionate devotion to their dogs! “A dog!” says an old English writer, “is the only thing on this earth that loves you more than he loves himself.” And should we be morally inferior to the dog—unable to love him in return? especially when we remember that “histories,” as Pope remarks, “are more full of examples of the fidelity of dogs than of friends.”

Vischer, the well-known German writer on æsthetics, goes so far as to admit that whenever he is in society his only wish is, “Oh, if there was only a dog here!”

There is something much nobler and deeper than sarcasm on humanity in Byron’s famous epitaph on his dog:—

“Near this spot
Are deposited the remains of one
Who possessed Beauty without Vanity,
Strength without Insolence,
Courage without Ferocity,
And all the Virtues of man without his Vices.”

I wonder if Horwicz could read the following exquisite prose poem of Turgenieff without feeling ashamed of himself:—

"We two are sitting in the room: my dog and I. A violent storm is raging without.

"The dog sits close before me—he gazes straight into my eyes.

"And I too gaze straight into his eyes.

"It seems as if he wished to say something to me. He is dumb, has no words, does not understand himself; but I understand him.

"I understand that he and I are at this moment governed by the same feeling, that there is not the slightest difference between us. We are beings of the same kind. In each of us shines and glows the same flame.

"Death approaches, flapping his broad, cold, moist wings....

"And all is ended.

"Who then will establish the difference between the flames which glowed within us two?

"No! We who exchange those glances are not animal and man.

"Created alike are the two pairs of eyes that are fixed on each other.

“And each of these eye-pairs, that of the man as well as that of the animal, expresses clearly and distinctly an anxious craving for mutual caresses.”

18It is a vicious trait of the human character that it soon grows callous to caresses, and that the unmasked expression of tender emotion is regarded as undignified and in “bad form.” It is the absence in the dog’s mind of this ugly human trait that makes him such a delightful friend and companion. However much you caress and fondle him, he will always be anxious and grateful for the next gentle pat on the head, the next kind look, and will never despise you for any excess of fond emotion lavished on him.

The greatest flaw in Christian ethics is, that it takes so little account of this capacity of animals for affection, and our duties towards them. The duty of kindness towards animals is indeed, as Mr. Lecky remarks, “the one form of humanity which appears more prominently in the Old Testament than in the New.” “Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn,” is a precept which deprecates even a very modified form of cruelty to animals. Had this precept been given in a more generalised and comprehensive form, what an incalculable amount of suffering might have been saved the animals that had the misfortune to be born in Christian countries, as compared with those in the Oriental countries.

According to Mr. Lecky, Plutarch was the first writer who placed the duty of kindness to animals on purely moral grounds; “and he urges that duty with an emphasis and detail to which no adequate parallel can, I believe, be found in the Christian writings for at least 1700 years.” Some of the earlier Greek philosophers had based this duty on the doctrine of the transmigration of human souls into animal bodies; and it is related that Pythagoras used to buy of fishermen the whole contents of their nets, for the pleasure of letting the fish go again. Leonardo da Vinci, from less superstitious motives, used to buy caged birds for the same purpose; and similar traits are told of other men of genius who were sufficiently refined to recognise the evidences of emotion in animals. In our times, finally, we have a man, Mr. Bergh, who devotes his whole life to the object of establishing the personal rights of animals to kind treatment on legal grounds.

But, after all, the most influential friend animals have ever possessed was Darwin, who, by establishing their relationship to man on grounds which no one who understands the evidence can question, for ever vindicated for them the privilege of personal affection. The very grammar of our language has been affected by Darwinism. Formerly, it was customary to write “the dog which jumped into the water to save a child.” Now we say, “the dog who jumped into the water.” In other words, animals are 19no longer regarded as “things,” or animated machines, but as persons.


Within the range of impersonal emotions and affections, as we have seen, women are vastly inferior to men; but in personal affections—partly owing to their almost exclusive devotion to them—women are commonly superior to men. Not always, however; for, as we shall see later on, the prevalent dogma that woman’s Romantic Love is deeper and more ardent than man’s is an absurd myth. But in conjugal affection—which differs widely from Romantic Love—woman is generally more sincere, devoted, and self-sacrificing than man. In friendship, too, women are more sincere and ardent than men; for friendship is an ancient, rather than a modern sentiment; and as women are more conservative than men, they have preserved this sentiment (at least in early life), while among men it has become nearly extinct:—

“All friendship is feigning, all loving mere folly.”—Shakspere.

But the one affection in which woman stands infinitely above man is the maternal, compared with which paternal love is ordinarily a mere shadow. Romantic Love in man and child-love in woman are the two strongest passions which the human mind entertains.

In depth and strength these two passions are perhaps alike. In point of antiquity, the maternal feeling has an advantage over the Love-passion; for, of all personal affections, the maternal was developed first, and the sentiment of Romantic Love last.

Personal affections are of two kinds: (1) Those based on blood-relationship—maternal, paternal, filial, brotherly, and sisterly love; (2) Those not based on blood-relationship—friendship and Romantic Love. Conjugal affection belongs psychologically to the first class.

That of all relationships the one between mother and child is the most intimate is obvious. The child is part and parcel of the mother: her own flesh and blood and soul; and in loving it the mother practically loves a detached portion of herself—thus uniting the force of selfish with that of altruistic emotion. This is the primitive fountain of maternal affection. A second source of it lies in the resemblance of the child to the father, reviving in the mother’s memory the romantic days of pre-matrimonial Love. It must be an unending source of interest in a mother’s mind to note which of the child’s traits are derived from her, which from the 20father. If she loves herself, and loves her husband, the child that unites the traits of both must be doubly dear to her. The fact that the child is inseparably associated with all the mother’s joys and sorrows, from the wedding-day to death, constitutes a third source of her attachment; and a fourth is the social regard and honour which an energetic and gifted son, or a beautiful and accomplished daughter, may reflect on her.

The mother herself is of course unconscious of the complex nature of her feeling and its origin; especially in the first days, when the new feeling dawns upon her like a revelation. As in the case of budding Love, the feeling is at first less individual than generic—less the affection of this particular mother for this particular child than the bursting out of the general feeling of motherhood, inherited by her in common with all women.

Natural selection helps us to explain how this general feeling of motherhood was developed. As among animals, so among our savage and semi-civilised ancestors, those mothers who fondly cared for their infants naturally succeeded in rearing a larger and more vigorous progeny than those mothers who neglected their children. And through hereditary transmission this instinct gradually acquired, that marvellous intensity and power which we now admire.

The sublime and almost terrible height to which this emotion can rise is most realistically depicted in Rubens’s famous picture in Munich, representing the murder of the children at Bethlehem; in which mothers grasp the naked daggers, and frantically expose their breasts to receive the blows intended for their little ones. Throughout the animal kingdom, including mankind, the female is less pugnacious than the male, less provided with means of defence, and hence more gentle and timid; yet in the moment of peril the mother’s affection absolutely annihilates fear, and makes her face danger and death with a courage, supernatural strength, and endurance, rarely equalled by man, with all his weapons and natural consciousness of superior muscle.

It is in this blind, impetuous, passionate willingness of self-sacrifice that maternal affection most closely resembles the passion of Romantic Love.


For paternal affection Natural Selection has done much less than for maternal; and it is easy to understand why. For, useful as the father’s assistance is in securing various advantages to the growing child, yet even if he should cruelly abandon it altogether, the maternal love would still remain interposed to save and rear it.

21Nor is it in the human race alone that paternal is weaker than maternal love. Among mammals, as Horwicz remarks, we even come across a Herr Papa occasionally who shows a great inclination to dine on his progeny. And how irregularly the paternal—sometimes even the maternal—instinct is displayed among savages is graphically shown by this group of cases collected by Herbert Spencer:—

“As among brutes the philoprogenitive instinct is occasionally suppressed by the desire to kill, and even devour, their young ones; so among primitive men this instinct is now and again overridden by impulses temporarily excited. Thus, though attached to their offspring, Australian mothers, when in danger, will sometimes desert them; and if we may believe Angas, men have been known to bait their hooks with the flesh of boys they have killed. Thus, notwithstanding their marked parental affection, Fuegians sell their children for slaves; thus, among the Chonos Indians, a father, though doting on his boy, will kill him in a fit of anger for an accidental offence. Everywhere among the lower races we meet with like incongruities. Falkner, while describing the paternal feelings of Patagonians as very strong, says they often pawn and sell their wives and little ones to the Spaniards for brandy. Speaking of the children of the Sound Indians, Bancroft says they ‘sell or gamble them away.’ According to Simpson, the Pi-Edes ‘barter their children to the Utes proper for a few trinkets or bits of clothing.’ And of the Macusi, Schomburgk writes, ‘the price of a child is the same as an Indian asks for his dog.’ This seemingly heartless conduct to children often arises from the difficulty experienced in rearing them.”

Some light is thrown on the genesis and composition of parental affection by the three reasons named by Spencer, why among savages and semi-civilised peoples in general sons were much more appreciated than daughters. While daughters were little more than an encumbrance to the parents, useless before puberty, and lost to them after marriage, the sons could make themselves useful in warding off the enemy, in avenging personal injuries, and in performing the funeral rites for the benefit of departed ancestors.

In a higher stage of civilisation it is probable that utilitarian considerations of a somewhat different kind still formed a principal ingredient in parental love. A son was valued as an assistant in workshop or field, a daughter as a domestic drudge. Feelings of a tenderer nature were of course sometimes present, but that they were not general is shown by the fact, attested by numerous historic examples, that the aim of our paternal ancestors in centuries past was to make their children fear rather than love them.

22A slight element of fear is indeed necessary for the maintenance of filial respect and discipline; but our forefathers were too prone to sacrifice their tender feelings of sympathy with their offspring to the gratification of parental authority, for the obvious reason that the latter feeling was stronger than the former. The frequency with which daughters especially were forced to sacrifice their personal preferences in marriage to the ambitions and whims of their father, affords the most striking instance of the former embryonic state of parental affection.

In modern parental love Pride is perhaps the most conspicuous trait. This Pride has two aspects—one comic, one serious. Nothing is more amusing than the suddenness with which the “pride of authorship” converts a bachelor’s well-known horror of babies into the young father’s fantastic worship. Yet though he feels “like a little tin god on wheels,” he recognises the superior rank of the young prince, spoils his best trousers in kneeling before him, allows him to pull his moustache and whiskers, and, indeed, shows a disposition towards self-sacrifice almost worthy of a lover.

The serious side of the matter reveals one of the greatest differences between paternal and maternal love. A mother’s love is largely influenced by pity; hence she is very apt to lavish her fondest caresses on that child which happens to be imperfect in some way—say a cripple—and therefore unhappy. The father on the other hand, will show most favour to his handsomest daughter, his most talented son; and nothing will so swell a father’s heart and cause it to overflow with affection as the news of some great distinction acquired by this son.


Mr. Spencer is doubtless right in asserting that of all family affections filial love is the least developed; and in tracing this weakness especially to the parental harshness and disposition to inspire excessive fear just referred to. In Germany the example of the Prussian king who so unmercifully treated his children was extensively imitated. The condition in France is indicated by the words of Chateaubriand: “My mother, my sister, and myself, transformed into statues by my father’s presence, only recover ourselves after he leaves the room;” and in England, in the fifteenth century, says Wright, “Young ladies, even of great families, were brought up not only strictly, but even tyrannically.” And even two centuries later “children stood or knelt in trembling 23silence in the presence of their fathers and mothers, and might not sit without permission.”

Among animals filial affection can scarcely be said to exist, except as a very utilitarian craving for protection and sustenance. Among primitive men it is a common practice to abandon aged parents to their fate. The parents do not resent this treatment; and of the Nascopies Heriot even says that the aged father “usually employed as his executioner the son who is most dear to him.” Nor are cases of heartless neglect at all uncommon even among modern civilised communities. But the gradual change of fathers “from masters into friends” has tended to multiply and intensify filial love at the same rate as paternal; and the advance of moral refinement will tend to make the lot of aged parents more and more pleasant, not only because the duty of gratitude for favours received will be more vividly realised and enforced by example, but because the cultivation of the imagination intensifies sympathy, thus making it impossible for a son or daughter to be happy while they know their parents to be unhappy.

Our feelings are curiously complicated and subtly interwoven. Parents feel a natural pride in their children. The best way therefore to repay them for all their troubles is to act in such a way as to justify and intensify that pride. On the other hand, the thought that the parental pride is gratified also gratifies filial vanity, and proves an additional incentive to ambitious effort.


Young people of both sexes more frequently make confidants and “bosom friends” of their playmates and classmates than of their brothers and sisters. Why is this so? Novelty perhaps has something to do with it. The domestic experiences and emotions of two brothers or sisters are apt to be so much alike as to become monotonous; whereas a member of another family may initiate them into a fresh and fascinating sphere of emotion and a novel way of looking at things. Moreover, friendship is very capricious in its choice; and as the number of brothers and sisters is limited, the selection is apt to be made in the wider field outside the domestic circle. Again, it is a peculiarity of human nature to appear in great négligé at home, and to regard the nearest relatives as the best lightning-rods for disagreeable moods; and this does not tend to deepen the love of brothers and sisters.

It may be doubted whether this form of affection exists among 24animals or among primitive men; and even among civilised peoples the bond is but a weak one, except in the most refined families. Though brothers feel bound to protect their sisters, they reserve most of their gallantry for some one else’s sister; and though a sister will feel proud if her brother is one of a victorious crew, her heart will beat twice as fast if it is her lover instead of her brother. The English language has not even a collective word for the love of brothers and sisters; and even the partial terms, “sisterly love” and “brotherly love,” have more of an ecclesiastic than a domestic flavour. The German language has a collective word—and a big one too,—Geschwisterliebe; but it would perhaps be misleading to infer from its existence and size that this species of family love is more developed in Germany than in England. The German’s advantage appears to be philological merely, and not sociological. He is less of a traveller and colonist than the Englishman, who is very often separated from his brothers and sisters for years. Yet this sometimes is rather a gain than a loss; for it destroys that excessive familiarity which, as just noted, makes friendship rarer among members of the same hearth than between individuals of different families.

To the wider circles of blood-relationship—up to “forty-second cousins”—the Germans pay much more regard than the English; and the French perhaps go a step beyond the Germans. For in France each family, with its ramifications, forms a sort of clique into which an outsider can rarely enter. Needless to say that this forms a great impediment to Love’s free choice.


If we now turn to the two remaining species of personal affection—Friendship and Love—the emotional scenery undergoes a great change. In all the cases so far considered, blood-relationship was a source of affection; whereas in friendship it is commonly a disadvantage, and in Romantic Love it is positively abhorred, except in the more remote degrees. Some savage tribes, it is true, allow, or even prescribe, marriages between brother and sister—especially a younger sister; and cases occur of marriages between father and daughter, mother and son. But civilised society—guided by religious precepts, and possibly also by a vague instinctive recognition of the advantages of cross-fertilisation—condemns such unions as hideous crimes; and the mediæval theologians, in their extreme zeal, forbade all marriages within the seventh degree of relationship.

25In the case of friendship the objection to blood-relationship is not founded on a social or religious precept; but it exists all the same, as already noted. Perhaps Jean Paul’s maxim that friends may have everything in common except their room accounts for its existence. Brothers and sisters are commonly too much alike in their thoughts and tastes to become friends, in the special sense of the word. Hence it is that there is apt to be a deeper attachment between those brothers and sisters who have frequently been separated by school-terms than among those who are always together. For in friendship, as in love, a short absence is advantageous.

Friendship is partly an outgrowth of the social instinct and partly a result of special associations, habit, community of interests and tastes. As a boy I had an opportunity to make some interesting observations on friendship among animals, showing that it differed in degree only, and not in kind or origin, from that of man. Among the animals we kept at our country-house were a dog, a pet sheep, and some pigs. The dog showed his confidence in the sheep’s amiable forbearance by abandoning his cold kennel on winter nights and seeking warmer quarters by the side of his woolly neighbour. For the pigs his friendly regards were shown in a less utilitarian manner, by driving away, unbidden and untaught, any swinish tramps that appeared, uninvited, to share their meals. But the most peculiar relations existed between the sheep and the pigs. In the absence of any other means of satisfying its gregarious or social instincts, the sheep joined the pigs every morning in their foraging expeditions in the woods, returning with them in the evening. And, what was still more remarkable, when after a time a dozen sheep were added to our stock of animals, the old pet remained faithful to the pigs, and paid no attention whatever to the newcomers. Here the friendly attachment, based on habitual association and the memory of mutual pleasures of grazing, was strong enough to overcome the inherited fellow-feeling for members of its own species.

Between this instance and those ordinary cases of companionship among men which are called friendship, there is hardly any difference. In the more intimate cases of special friendship the craving for companionship is strengthened by a community of thoughts and emotions. Bacon gives us in a nut-shell three of the ingredients of friendship which are not to be found in the primitive form just considered. The first is this, that each friend becomes a sort of secular confessor, to whom the other may confide all his hopes and fears, joys and sorrows; the second is this, that “a 26friend’s wits and understanding do clarify and break up in the communicating and discoursing with another;” so that “he waxeth wiser than himself; and that more by an hour’s discourse than by a day’s meditation;” the third is the “aid and bearing a part in all actions and occasions” to be expected of a friend.

Friendship is not a modern sentiment. Cases of it such as existed among the ancient Greeks and Romans, characterised by an ardour that made Friendship resemble the Love passion, are no longer to be met with, although a somewhat less intense form frequently occurs among young men at college or young ladies in high schools: thus illustrating the law that the individual passes through the same stages of development as the race.

“The enthusiasm of friendship,” says Voltaire in his Philosophic Dictionary, “was greater among the Greeks and Arabians than it is among ourselves. The tales which these peoples have imagined on friendship are delightful; we have nothing to match them. We are somewhat dry in everything. I do not see a single grand trait of friendship in our novels, in our histories, on our stage.”

Why is this so? Let another Frenchman, La Rochefoucauld, answer: “The reason why the majority of women are but little touched by friendship, is because it seems insipid after one has experienced love.”

Precisely. The reason why the ancients, in their histories and dramas, made so much of friendship, while modern poets almost ignore it, is that the latter have a subject a thousand times more fascinating than friendship, a subject unknown to the ancients—the inexhaustible subject of Romantic Love.


That Love is superior to friendship is apparent from the one consideration that it includes all the features of friendship, and adds to them a thousand ecstasies of which friendship never dreams. The lover, no less than the friend, gratifies his social instinct, his desire for companionship, his need of confessing his own and sharing another’s hopes and fears, his craving for stimulating conversation, his sympathetic disposition to give and receive aid in the trials of life. But if modern friendship ever had any moments to compare with the romantic episodes, the tragic agonies and wild delights of love, would it be conceivable that our realistic novelists and poets could neglect it altogether and devote all their attention to Love?

The other personal affections fare no better in comparison with 27Love. How prosaic even Conjugal Love seems to us as compared with Romantic Love, of which it is the metamorphosis and continuation, is shown by the fact that novelists always end their stories with the marriage of the hero and heroine.

Maternal Love, however, has four traits which occasionally make it resemble Romantic Love in intensity. They are: (1) a disposition toward self-sacrifice; (2) jealousy; (3) an exaggerated adoration; and (4) pride of ownership. But of these the first is the only one that ever quite rises to the giddy heights of rapturous Love. Jealousy is often aroused in mothers if their children display excessive fondness or partiality for their father or a family friend; and they know well in such a case how to make the latter understand that his presence is an impertinence. But this momentary ebullition of feeling is but a storm in a tea-kettle compared to the ferocity of a jealous lover seeking to devour his rival. Nor does a mother’s excessive worship of the self-evident beauty and accomplishments of her offspring ever quite equal the hyperbolic illusion and folly of a lover.

Again, Romantic Love is a monopolist who never shares his treasures of affection with another, whereas a mother, if she has more than one child, is obliged to divide her heart like an apple, so that each may get a slice. Would you infer from this that the mother has a deeper fund of affection than the lover, because she can love several at a time? Impossible. The amount of emotion human nerves can bear is limited. The more you widen it, the shallower does it become. The general love for all mankind is the weakest and shallowest of all, the lover’slover’s concentrated affection for one person the deepest and strongest. See what a terrible strain on his nerves this deep passion is: how he loses flesh, grows pale and feverish, and prone to self-destruction. Could a mother survive if she loved each one of five or ten children with the depth and intensity of a lover? No, we must take back what we said a few pages back. Maternal affection is after all a mere phantom compared with Romantic Love.

And the ace of hearts is yet to be played—in favour of Romantic Love. The mother’s affection is bestowed on what after all is merely a severed portion of her own individuality; whereas the two lovers are individuals utterly unrelated. And herein lies the Miracle of Love: that it can in a few days, ay, a few minutes, ignite between two young persons who have perhaps never before seen each other, a passion more intense than that which in the mother is the growth of months and years.

It follows as a corollary from this that Romantic Love is not 28only more intense, more concentrated, more immediate and irresistible than parental affection, but also more just, more in accordance with the highest precepts of morality, because more altruistic. For the mother loves only her own flesh and blood, while the lover adores a stranger; like Romeo, he may even adore the daughter of an enemy.

Thousands of fathers and mothers, moreover, love their own ugly, vicious, and stupid children more than the beautiful, well-behaved, and clever children of their neighbours. Who, on the other hand, ever heard of a young man loving his ugly sister more than the beautiful and accomplished daughter of his neighbour?

In consideration of the great importance of the family feelings as a social cement, the parental injustice in question is pardoned and even commended. But from the standpoint of progressive culture, under guidance of the law of Natural Selection, it must be condemned; for it favours demerit in preference to merit, and retards the advent of the time when family and national prejudices will be forgotten and replaced by a loverlike, cosmopolitan admiration of personal excellence wherever and in whomsoever found.

This matter, though it has a semi-humorous aspect, is of the deepest philosophic import. If family affection, so important as the first step in the development of society, were the only form of personal love, close intermarriage between blood-relations would be unduly encouraged. Fortunately the all-powerful instinct of Romantic Love comes in as a corrective of family affection, basing its preferences not on relationship and resemblance, but on differences and complementary qualities, thus securing for the human race the advantages of “cross-fertilisation.” We have already seen that flowers owe their beauty to the cross-fertilisation brought about through the agency of bees and butterflies. In the same way the human race owes its supreme beauty to the cross-fertilisation—the union of complementary qualities—brought about through the agency of Love. Is it perhaps for this reason that Love is so much like a butterfly, and that Cupid has wings?

Instead of being merely a transient malady of youth, as cynics aver, or only an epicurean episode in our emotional life, Love is thus seen to be one of the greatest (if not the greatest) moral, æsthetic, and hygienic forces that control human life. And in face of this fact the few pages, or lines, commonly devoted to this passion in psychologic text-books, seem wofully inadequate. No apology is therefore needed for our attempt to subject Romantic Love to a thorough chemical analysis, and to discover its ingredients. We shall first enumerate and briefly characterise these ingredients; 29then proceed to examine how many of them are to be found in the love of animals and savages, of the ancient nations and of our mediæval ancestors; and finally, we shall attempt to describe these various component parts of the passion, as fully developed in Modern Love.


First of all it is necessary to get rid of the prevalent illusion that Love is a single emotion. It is, on the contrary, a most complex and ever-varying group of emotions. Love is not a diamond which drops from a celestial body, cut and polished, and ready to be set into the human soul. Rather is it the crown of life, composed of various jewels, some of which, mixed with much coarse ore, may be found in the animal kingdom, among primitive men and ancient civilised nations; but of which no complete specimens are to be found till we come to comparatively modern times. Each lover has his own crown, but no two of them are exactly alike. The component jewels vary in size and brilliancy. Some—as Coyness, Adoration, Gallantry, Jealousy—are occasionally missing or lacking in lustre; and in Ancient Love those are habitually absent which in Modern Love are most prominent and cherished.

Perhaps the composite nature of Love can be still better illustrated by a comparison with colours, and with “overtones” in music, between which and the elements of Love there exists a wonderfully close analogy.

Professor Helmholtz has proved that just as white is not a simple colour, but a combination of all the hues of the rainbow, so any single tone produced by the voice or a musical instrument is not simple, as it seems, but contains, besides the fundamental tone which the ordinary listener alone hears, several partial or “overtones,” which blend so closely with the fundamental tone, that it takes a very delicate ear and close attention to distinguish them. Were it not for these overtones, all instruments would sound alike, and music would lose all its charms of “colour.” For the fundamental tones of instruments and voices are identical, and the only thing that enables a musician to tell at a distance whether a given note proceeds from a piano, voice, or violin, is the presence of these overtones, which vary in their number, relative loudness and pitch (or height), thus giving rise to the differences of quality or timbre in instruments.

30In Love the fundamental tone is the sexual relation—the fact that one of the lovers is male, the other female. This fundamental tone does not vary throughout Nature. It is the same among animals and savages as among civilised men; and what distinguishes the passion of one of these groups from that of the other is alone the overtones of love, which vary in number, relative prominence, and refinement (“high-toned”).

What are these overtones?


What first ennobles Love and raises it above mere passion, is the stubborn preference for a particular individual. A savage chief ignorant of Love would not hesitate a moment to exchange his bride for two or three other women equally young and tempting; whereas a man under the influence of Love would not give his beloved for the choice among all the beauties of the Caucasus and Andalusia. “If we pass in review the different degrees of love,” says Schopenhauer, “from the most transient attachment to the most violent passion, we shall find that the difference between them springs from their different degrees of individualisation.”


Closely connected with the first overtone is that of exclusiveness. True Love is a monopolist. As in a sun-glass all the solar rays are concentrated into one burning focus, so are the lover’s emotions on his beloved. Not only does he care for her alone of all women, but he voluntarily offers her a monopoly of his thoughts and feelings. In return for this, however, he expects and exacts of her a like monopoly of her affection and favours; and this leads to the next overtone.


This is the salt and pepper of Love. A little of it is piquant, too much of it spoils the soup. The moral mission of Jealousy is, by means of watchfulness and the inspiring of fear, to ensure fidelity and chastity, and thus help to develop the romantic features of Love.


This is a specially feminine trait of Love, which, by retarding the eager lover’s conquest, augments and idealises his passion. 31In Modern Love, Coyness varies in two directions—towards prudery on one side, coquetry on the other.


If Coyness is a peculiarly feminine ingredient of Love, Gallantry, on the other hand, is a specially masculine attribute. The eager desire to please, it is true, is also present in a woman’s Love; but it shows itself less as an active impulse to do something for the lover, than as a desire to please him by making herself as attractive as possible.


In the most violent cases of Love this overtone may reveal itself in two ways: either as a mere exaggeration of Gallantry—a desire to please even at the risk of life; or as a suicidal impulse in cases of hopeless passion—when the one object which seemed to make life worth living has been placed beyond reach.


“In order to feel with another’s pain it is enough to be a man; to feel with another’s pleasure it is needful to be an angel.” If this be true, then lovers are angels. For not only do they share one another’s pleasures, but it is impossible for the one to be really happy unless the other enjoys the same emotion. “Does that other see the same star, the same melting cloud; read the same book, feel the same emotion that now delights me?”—these are, in Emerson’s words, the questions which the lovers, when separated, ask incessantly.


In his suggestive but incomplete analysis of Love, in his Principles of Psychology, Mr. Herbert Spencer names as two of the emotions which enter into it, the Love of Approbation and Self-Esteem, which he thus defines: “To be preferred above all the world, and that by one admired beyond all others, is to have the love of approbation gratified in a degree passing every previous experience: especially as, to this direct gratification of it, there must be added that reflex gratification of it, which results from the preference being witnessed by unconcerned persons. Further, there is the allied emotion of self-esteem. To have succeeded in 32gaining such attachment from, and sway over, another, is a practical proof of power, of superiority, which cannot fail agreeably to excite the amour propre.”

This is well expressed, but the names are obviously not well chosen. It is hardly correct to intimate that the “love of approbation” and “self-esteem” constitute two of the group of emotions which we call Love. What the lover feels is not a “love of approbation,” etc., but the emotion of Pride at having conquered and gained possession of so desirable a prize.


The lover sees, thinks, and feels only in superlatives. His eyes are no longer mere “windows of the soul,” but microscopes which magnify all the beloved’s merits on the scale of seven square miles to the inch. And the hyberbolic imagery which constitutes the essence of love-poetry is his everyday food—with a special menu on Sundays.


It is in Love that “confusion makes his masterpiece.” The lover is so incessantly tossed on the ocean of turbulent emotion that he soon ceases to know or care which is up and which down, and all that remains is an all-engrossing sense of love-sickness.

“Angels call it heavenly joy,
Infernal torture the devils say;
And men? They call it—Love.”—Heine.


This is the æsthetic overtone of Love; and so prominent is it that it is commonly heard before and above all the others. “Beauty provoketh thieves sooner than gold,” says Shakspere; and if you tell twenty of your male acquaintances that you have been introduced to a young lady, nineteen of them will ask immediately, “Is she pretty?” No reporter ever writes about a girl murdered by a tramp or burnt in a house, without describing her as a model of beauty, in order to double the reader’s interest and quintuple his pity. Madame de Staël confessed that she would have gladly exchanged her literary genius for beauty. With the Greeks already the words Love and Beauty were inseparably associated; and even the Chinese, who are not embarrassed 33by an excess of beauty, have a proverb, “With one smile she overthrew a city, with another a kingdom.”

This completes the preliminary analysis of Love. I regret exceedingly that I have been able to discover only eleven “overtones” in Modern Love: but inasmuch as at least six of these—Nos. V. to X.—are only about a thousand years old, there is reason to hope that some fine morning in May a new one will be born to make up the round dozen. If so, it is to be hoped it will assume in men the form of an absolute insistance on feminine health, and an instinctive detestation of the hideous and love-killing fashions with which women still persist in ruining their beauty.


For the sake of comparison I may cite Mr. Spencer’s summary of the elements which he thinks compose Love: “Round the physical feeling forming the nucleus of the whole there are gathered the feelings produced by personal beauty, that constituting simple attachment, those of reverence, of love of approbation, of self-esteem, of property, of love of freedom, of sympathy. All these, each excited in the highest degree, and severally tending to reflect their excitement on each other, form the composite psychical state which we call Love. And as each of these feelings is in itself highly complicated, uniting a wide range of states of consciousness, we may say that this passion fuses into an immense aggregation, nearly all the elementary excitations of which we are capable; and that from this results its irresistible power.”

Let us now see how many of the characters of true Romantic Love are to be found in the courtship of animals and savages.


As comparative psychology is the youngest branch of philosophy, there are still among us thousands of excellent but ignorant folks who cling to the old mythologic notion that animals are animated machines or things “which” are devoid of intellect and feeling, and guided by a metaphysical fetish called “instinct.” To such the undertaking of a search for Love—real Romantic Love—among animals, will seem not only absurd, but a sort of high treason against human conceit. To mitigate any possible indignation on the reader’s part, it may be advisable, therefore, to begin by giving a few illustrations demonstrating the existence of various 34family affections and friendship in the animal world; after which, the possibility of finding traces of Love proper will appear less remote.

Paternal, filial, brotherly, and sisterly love, comparatively weak and undeveloped in man, are indeed almost absent in the lower animals. Birds of the same brood do not recognise each other after they have left their nest; and a dog will not hesitate to attack his own brother as a stranger after a year’s separation. The part which a male bird takes in feeding and protecting the young is, as Horwicz suggests, an element of his conjugal rather than his paternal feeling; and a young animal that would risk its own life in defence of its mother or father is yet to be heard from.

Friendship, however, does exist between animals, as we have already seen; and not only among animals of the same species, but of different species. “Happy families” of animals commonly hostile to each other have been known outside of the showman’s cage. Büchner cites instances of friendship between a robin and a cat; a fox and duck; dog and deer; cat and mouse; and even such absurdly incongruous cases of attachment as between a crow and a bull; a dog and an elephant; a cat and a rattlesnake. But the deepest feeling of friendship which any animal is capable of feeling is undoubtedly the dog’s love of his master. “Professor Braubach,” says Darwin, “goes so far as to maintain that a dog looks on his master as on a god.” “It is said,” he adds in a footnote, “that Bacon long ago, and the poet Burns, held the same notion.”

Maternal and conjugal affection, however, are, as in man, so in animals, the two strongest forms of family attachment. A French author, M. Menault, has written a special treatise on L’Amour Maternel chez les Animaux, and Dr. Büchner exclaims, à propos: “If a human mother, with certain destruction staring in her face, dashes into a burning house to save her imperilled child, and thus finds her own death, this sacrifice is no greater, no more heroic, than that of a stork-mother who, after vain efforts to save her brood, is voluntarily burnt up with them in her nest; or of those elephant-mothers who, as Schweinfurth narrates, in the African hunting expeditions, when the bushes along the shore are ignited in order to drive out the elephants, seek to save their young ones by filling their trunks with water and sprinkling it over them, while they themselves are roasting.”

How low down in the scale of animal life traces of conjugal attachment are to be found is shown by the following case cited by Darwin: “An accurate observer, Mr. Lonsdale, informs me that he placed a pair of landsnails, one of which was weakly, into a small and ill-provided garden. After a short time the strong 35and healthy individual disappeared, and was traced by its track of slime over a wall into an adjoining well-stocked garden. Mr. Lonsdale concluded that it had deserted its sickly mate, but after an absence of twenty-four hours it returned, and apparently communicated the result of its successful exploration, for both then started along the same track and disappeared over the wall.” Again, the naturalist, Mr. Bate, experimented on the conjugal feelings of Gammarus marinus, or the sandskipper common on English shores, by separating a male from its female, and imprisoning both in the same vessel with many individuals of the same species. “The female, when thus divorced, soon joined the others. After a time the male was put again into the same vessel; and he then, after swimming about for a time, dashed into the crowd, and without any fighting at once took away his wife. This fact shows that in the Amphipoda, an order low in the scale, the males and females recognise each other, and are mutually attached.”

Concerning birds, Darwin remarks: “It has often been said that parrots become so deeply attached to each other that when one dies the other pines for a long time; but Mr. Jenner Weir thinks that with most birds the strength of their affection has been much exaggerated. Nevertheless, when one of a pair in a state of nature has been shot, the survivor has been heard for days afterwards uttering a plaintive call; and Mr. St. John gives various facts proving the attachment of mated birds. Mr. Bennett relates that in China after a drake of the beautiful mandarin Teal had been stolen, the duck remained disconsolate, though sedulously courted by another mandarin drake, who displayed before her all his charms. After an interval of three weeks the stolen drake was recovered, and instantly the pair recognised each other with extreme joy.” “Dr. Buller says (Birds of New Zealand) that a male king lory was killed, and the female ‘fretted and moped, refused her food, and died of a broken heart.’”

But there are exceptions to this rule of conjugal attachment and fidelity, as is shown in the following quotation, which completes the curious analogy between human and bird love connubial: “Mr. Harrison Weir has himself observed, and has heard from several breeders, that a female pigeon will occasionally take a strong fancy for a particular male, and will desert her own mate for him. Some females, according to another experienced observer, Riedel, are of a profligate disposition, and prefer almost any stranger to their own mate. Some amorous males, called by our English fanciers ‘gay birds,’ are so successful in their gallantries that, as 36Mr. H. Weir informs me, they must be shut up on account of the mischief which they cause.”

So there are Don Juans even among pigeons!

Intermarriages or mixed unions also occur among birds. Says Darwin: “It is certain that distinct species of birds occasionally pair in a state of nature and produce hybrids. Many instances could be given: thus Macgillivray relates how a male blackbird and female thrush ‘fell in love with each other,’ and produced offspring. Several years ago eighteen cases had been recorded of the occurrence in Great Britain of hybrids between the black grouse and pheasant.... A male widgeon, living with females of the same species, has been known to pair with a pintail duck. Lloyd describes the remarkable attachment between a shield-drake and a common duck. Many additional instances could be given; and the Rev. E. S. Dixon remarks that ‘those who have kept many different species of geese together, well know what unaccountable attachments they are frequently forming, and that they are quite as likely to pair and rear young with individuals of a race (species) apparently the most alien to themselves, as with their own stock.’”

In their marriages animals have anticipated man in every possible arrangement—promiscuity, polygamy, monogamy, polyandry. According to Darwin, “Many mammals and some few birds are polygamous, but with other animals belonging to the lower classes I have found no evidence of this habit.” He has not “heard of any species in the Orders of Cheiroptera, Edentata, Insectivora, and Rodents being polygamous, excepting that among the Rodents the common rat, according to some rat-catchers, lives with several females.” Among the terrestrial carnivora the lion seems to be the only polygamist, while the marine carnivora are “eminently polygamous.”

Domestication sometimes has the bad effect of converting wild birds to Mormonism. Thus “the wild duck is strictly monogamous, the domestic duck highly polygamous.”

It is among wild birds in general that the most remarkable cases of conjugal attachment in the animal world are found. And since most birds are monogamous, pairing sometimes even for life, we may hence draw the important conclusion that among animals, as among men, monogamy seems to favour the development of conjugal love. Polygamy, on the other hand, everywhere introduces jealousies, rivalries, discords. Among Oriental nations where polygamy prevails, each wife must have her own apartments, and no one would dare to taste food prepared by another, for fear 37of poison. On some animals polygamy seems to have a similar effect, for we read that “Mr. Bartlett believes that the Lophophorus, like many other gallinaceous birds, is naturally polygamous, but two females cannot be placed in the same cage with a male, as they fight so much together.”


The foregoing illustrations, many of which show the gross injustice lurking in our expression “animal passion,” will have prepared the reader’s mind for the search after the elements of romantic or pre-nuptial Love in animals.

The development of romantic, as distinguished from conjugal love, depends on the existence of a more or less prolonged period of courtship. Where this is absent Love is absent, as among the ancient nations and those of the moderns who lock up their women until they are ready to be sold to a husband, at sight.

Among animals the young females are not locked up or chaperoned. They are free to meet the young males and fall in love with the one that pleases them most.

As a rule the preliminaries to animal marriages are doubtless brief. If a healthy, vigorous male comes across a mature, healthy female, it is usually a case of mutual veni, vidi, vici.

In other cases, however, courtship is a more prolonged affair, owing partly to the coyness of the female, partly to the rivalries among the male suitors.

Animal courtship is carried on either by single pairs in the romantic shades of the forests, or else at special nuptial mass meetings, resembling those held by some primitive tribes whose unmarried young people assemble on certain days in the year to select partners. Of the common magpie, for instance, Darwin relates that “Some years ago these birds abounded in extraordinary numbers, so that a gamekeeper killed in one morning nineteen males, and another killed by a single shot seven birds roosting together. They then had the habit of assembling very early in the spring at particular spots, where they could be seen in flocks, chattering, sometimes fighting, bustling, and flying about the trees. The whole affair was evidently considered by the birds as one of the highest importance. Shortly after the meeting they all separated, and were then observed by Mr. Fox and others to be paired for the season.”

This was known as the “great magpie marriage.” In Germany and Scandinavia similar assemblages of black game are so 38common that special names have been given to them. “The bowers of the bower-birds are the resort of both sexes during the breeding season; and here the males meet and contend with each other for the favours of the females, and here the latter assemble and coquet with the males.”

Two more cases may be cited: “With one of the vultures (Cathartes aura) of the United States parties of eight, ten, or more males and females assemble on fallen logs, ‘exhibiting the strongest desire to please mutually,’ and after many caresses each male leads off his partner on the wing. Audubon likewise carefully observed the wild flocks of Canada geese, and gives a graphic description of their love-antics; he says that the birds which had been previously mated ‘renewed their courtship as early as the month of January, while the others would be contending or coquetting for hours every day, until all seemed satisfied with the choice they had made, after which, although they remained together, any person could easily perceive that they were careful to keep in pairs. I have observed also that the older the birds the shorter were the preliminaries of their courtship. The bachelors and old maids, whether in regret or not caring to be disturbed by the bustle, quietly moved aside and lay down at some distance from the rest.’”

Separate courtship may be illustrated by the following cases, the first of which is also interesting as showing that it is not among men alone that the female occasionally becomes the wooer; and the second as showing how early in the scale of animal life a primitive sort of courtship may be found. Concerning a wild duck brought up in captivity Mr. Hewitt says that “After breeding a couple of seasons with her own mallard, it at once shook him off on my placing a male pintail on the water. It was evidently a case of love at first sight, for she swam about the newcomer caressingly, though he appeared evidently alarmed and averse to her overtures of affection. From that hour she forgot her old partner. Winter passed by, and the next spring the pintail seemed to have become a convert to her blandishments, for they nested and produced seven or eight young ones.”

The second case relates to the landsnail, concerning which Agassiz says: “Quiconque a eu l’occasion d’observer les amours des limaçons ne saurait mettre en doute la séduction déployée dans les mouvements et les allures qui préparent et accomplissent le double embrassement de ces hermaphrodites.”

The opportunities for prolonged Courtship being thus given, the question arises, “Do animals, while a-wooing, experience the same 39feelings as a human lover?” In other words, Are any of the overtones of Romantic Love present in the amorous passion of animals?

Several of them no doubt are habitually absent. Animals have not sufficient imagination to meditate consciously on their probable success or failure in Courtship; and this lack of imaginative power excludes those “overtones” which are chiefly dependent on that faculty; notably Sympathy with the beloved’s feelings, Pride of Conquest and Possession, Hyperbolic Adoration, Voluntary Self-Sacrifice for the other, and the Woful Ecstasy of Mixed Moods. That Gallantry, or the Desire to Please, may be present is shown by the words I have italicised in the quotation just made regarding the courtship of vultures, and is further shown by the display of their ornamental plumage by male birds to excite the attention of the female. Exclusiveness of affection is indicated by the occasional indifference of the wooer to every rival; and when we read of the German blackcock’s love-dances, during which, “the more ardent he grows the more lively he becomes, until at last the bird appears like a frantic creature”; and that “at such times the blackcocks are so absorbed that they become almost blind and deaf, but less so than the capercailzie,” so that “bird after bird may be shot on the spot, or even caught by the hand”—when we read this, we feel tempted to credit these birds even with those highest and most specialised forms of lover’s madness which lead to oblivion—Self-Sacrifice and Ecstatic Adoration.

The four traits of Romantic Love which are doubtless present in the passion of animals are Jealousy, Coyness, Individual Preference, and Admiration of Personal Beauty.

(a) Jealousy.—Volumes might be filled with accounts of the tragedies brought about through animal rivalry and jealousy during the season of love. “The courage and the desperate conflicts of stags have often been described,” says Darwin; “their skeletons have been found in various parts of the world, with the horns inextricably locked together, showing how miserably the victor and vanquished had perished.” “Male sperm-whales are very jealous” at the season of love; “and in their battles ‘they often lock their jaws together, and turn on their sides and twist about’; so that their lower jaws often become distorted.”

When birds gaze at themselves in a looking-glass, as they often do, the same authority inclines to the belief that they do it from jealousy of a supposed rival; and Mr. Jenner Weir, he states, “is convinced that birds pay particular attention to the colours of other birds, sometimes out of jealousy, and sometimes as a sign of kinship;” while “many naturalists believe that the singing of 40birds is almost exclusively ‘the effect of rivalry and emulation,’ and not for the sake of charming their mates.”

Animal Jealousy is apparently dependent on the immediate presence of the rival and the female; while the Jealousy of a human lover is also a matter of the imagination, and smarts even more intensely during Her absence; for his morbid fancy then loves to picture Her in the arms of his victorious rival. He does not, however, except in some southern countries, emulate the jealous lion by seeking to devour his rival, but is contented if he can ward him off by stratagem, or make him appear in a disadvantageous light in Her eyes.

(b) Coyness.—Just as the Jealousy displayed by two animals fighting for a female is a gross, primitive emotion, so the Coyness of female animals is crude and clumsy compared with the delicious subtlety with which a human maiden veils a Yes under an apparent No. Yet it plays a prominent rôle in the courtship of animals.

A human lover would often consider it a special privilege to be eaten up, skin, bones, and all, by his mistress; but it is doubtful whether spiders are ever madly enough in love to relish the conduct of their females, as described by Darwin: “The male is generally much smaller than the female, sometimes to an extraordinary degree, and he is forced to be extremely cautious in making his advances, as the female often carries her coyness to a dangerous pitch. De Geer saw a male that ‘in the midst of his preparatory caresses was seized by the object of his attentions, enveloped by her in a web, and then devoured’; a sight which, as he adds, filled him with indignation and horror. Female fishes also are apt to give a cannibal tinge to their coyness by eating up the smaller males—actions to which remote human analogies may be found in the coyness of mediæval dames, who sent their lovers to wars and into lions’ dens as conditions of enjoying their favours; or, conversely, in the habits of those Australians who eat their wives after they have ceased to be either ornamental or useful.”

Indubitable evidences of Coyness are found as low down as among insects; as, for example, in the species called Smynthurnus luteus, “wingless, dull-coloured, minute insects, with ugly, almost misshapen heads and bodies,” concerning which Sir John Lubbock remarks: “It is very amusing to see these little creatures coquetting together. The male, which is much smaller than the female, runs round her, and they butt one another standing face to face and moving backward and forward like two playful lambs. Then the female pretends to run away, and the male runs after 41her with a queer appearance of anger, gets in front and stands facing her again; then she turns coyly round, but he, quicker and more active, scuttles round too, and seems to whip her with his antennæ; then for a bit they stand face to face, play with their antennæ, and seem to be all in all to one another.”

The Coyness of birds is illustrated by the following cases cited by Büchner from Brehm and A. and K. Müller: “A genuine coquette is the female cuckoo, who answers the call of the male with a peculiar resonant, tittering or laughing love-call. ‘The call is seducing, promising in advance, and its effect on the male simply enchanting.’ But how long the lovers pursuing the siren have to wait before she accepts one of them! A wild flight begins, among bushes and tree-tops, while the female encourages the pursuers with repeated calls, and finally gets them into a state of erotic excitement bordering on madness. At the same time the female is no less excited than her frantic suitors. Her favourite, no doubt, is the most eager of the lovers, and her apparent resistance simply the desire to excite him still more!... The female of the icebird (Alcedo ispida) often teases her lover half a day at a time, by repeatedly approaching him, screaming at him, and flying away again. At the same time she never loses sight of him, but in her flight casts glances at him backwards and sidewise, moderates the rapidity of her flight, and returns in a wide curve if the male suddenly ceases from his pursuit.”

Could anything be more naïvely, more humanly, more exquisitely feminine? If a lover, says a French philosopher, fails in his suit, let him desist for a moment, and she will presently call him back.

No inquiry has ever been made by naturalists, so far as I am aware, as to the origin of Coyness among animals. Two probable sources of this feeling may therefore be here suggested. The first is a vague instinctive presentiment (based on inherited cerebral impressions) that with mating the labours of life will begin: the painful laying of eggs; the loss of liberty during incubation—an incalculable loss to these most active of all animals; and the care of the young, which, again, is not a trifling matter, inasmuch as a family of starlings, for example, needs for its daily food more than eight hundred snails, caterpillars, etc.; and birds sometimes perish from exhaustion in the attempt to feed their offspring.

The second source of Coyness is probably another instinctive feeling (based on inherited experience) which induces the female to defer her choice until the combats and manœuvres of the males have shown which one is the most energetic, courageous, and 42persistent: for he will obviously be best able to support her brood, and protect it as well as herself against enemies. Hence, during the combats of rival males, the female is commonly a passive spectator, and at the end quietly marches or flies off with the victor. All of which, by the way, shows that among animals already masculine love is deeper than feminine. Indirectly, it is true, feminine Coyness is the cause of Love—but only of masculine Love; for if the female animal always accepted the first male who asked her—

“My pretty maiden, may I venture
To offer you my arm and escort?”

there would be no opportunity for the growth of pre-matrimonial passion.

(c) Individual Preference.—Owing to our scant information concerning the courtship of animals in a state of nature, Darwin did not succeed in discovering any cases among mammals of decided preference shown by a male for any particular female; and regarding domesticated quadrupeds, “The general impression amongst breeders seems to be that the male accepts any female; and this, owing to his eagerness, is, in most cases, probably the truth.” A few cases of special preference or antipathy in dogs, horses, bulls, and boars, were, however, communicated to him. Concerning birds Darwin remarks that “In all ordinary cases the male is so eager that he will accept any female, and does not, as far as we can judge, prefer one to the other, but ... exceptions to this rule apparently occur in some few groups. With domesticated birds, I have heard of only one case of males showing any preference for certain females, namely, that of the domestic cock, who, according to the high authority of Mr. Hewitt, prefers the younger to the older hens.”

This, however, is at best only a polygamous sort of Preference, which, after all, lacks the essential traits of Individualisation and Exclusiveness. With the long-tailed duck (Harelda glacialis), M. Ekström says, “It has been remarked that certain females are much more courted than the rest. Frequently, indeed, one sees an individual surrounded by six or eight amorous males.” Whether this statement is credible Darwin does not know; but the Swedish sportsmen, he adds, shoot these females and stuff them as decoys.

In female animals, on the other hand, the “overtone” of Individual Preference appears to be more frequently present. Darwin even asserts that “the exertion of some choice on the 43part of the female seems a law almost as general as the eagerness of the male;” but this is not borne out by the numerous illustrations given by himself, showing that when two or more males are engaged in jealous combat, “the female looks on as a passive spectator,” and finally goes off with the victor, whichever of the rivals he may prove to be, without showing the slightest concern for the vanquished. An Australian forest-maiden might behave similarly under these circumstances, but a civilised maiden would cling to the one who had made the deepest impression on her previous to the combat; and if wounded, would adore him all the more; for in her Love pity is a stronger ingredient than even the love of prowess.

That female birds, however, sometimes exert a choice is admitted even by Mr. A. R. Wallace (Tropical Nature, p. 199); and a few of the cases referred to by Darwin may here be cited: “Audubon—and we must remember that he spent a long life in prowling about the forests of the United States and observing the birds—does not doubt that the female deliberately chooses her mate; thus, speaking of a woodpecker, he says the hen is followed by half a dozen gay suitors, who continue performing strange antics ‘until a marked preference is shown for one.’ The female of the red-winged starling (Agelæus phœniceus) is likewise pursued by several males, ‘until, becoming fatigued, she alights, receives their addresses, and soon makes a choice.’ He describes also how several male nightjars repeatedly plunge through the air with astonishing rapidity, suddenly turning, and thus making a singular noise; ‘but no sooner has the female made her choice than the other males are driven away.’”

Concerning domesticated birds we have seen that that gallinaceous sultan, the domestic cock, shows a decided preference for the younger hens in his harem. But the female is not a bit less frivolous and capricious; for, according to Mr. Hewitt, she almost invariably prefers the most vigorous, defiant, and mettlesome male; hence it is almost useless, he adds, “to attempt true breeding if a game-cock in good health and condition runs the locality, for almost every hen on leaving the roosting-place will resort to the game-cock, even though that bird may not actually drive away the male of her own variety.”

(d) Personal Beauty and Sexual Selection.—Mr. Wallace, who discovered the law of Natural Selection independently of Darwin, admits, as just stated, that “in birds the females do sometimes exert a choice”; but he adds that “amid the copious mass of facts and opinions collected by Mr. Darwin as to the display of 44colour and ornaments by the male birds, there is a total absence of any evidence that the females admire or even notice this display. The hen, the turkey, and the pea-fowl go on feeding while the male is displaying his finery; and there is reason to believe that it is his persistency and energy rather than his beauty which wins the day.”

Briefly stated, the difference between the views of these two eminent naturalists is this: Darwin believes that in those cases where the sexes are not alike, the differences are due to the males, originally plain, having become modified through Sexual Selection for ornamental purposes; while Mr. Wallace believes that colour is a normal product in animal integuments, proportionate to their vitality, and that the sexual differences in ornamentation are due to the females having been modified through Natural Selection for the sake of protection.

Perhaps the best brief résumé Darwin has made of his views on this subject is given on page 421 of the Descent of Man (London edition, 1885), which may therefore be here cited in full: "If an inhabitant of another planet were to behold a number of young rustics at a fair courting a pretty girl, and quarrelling about her like birds at one of their places of assemblage, he would, by the eagerness of the wooers to please her and to display their finery, infer that she had the power of choice. Now with birds the evidence stands thus: they have acute powers of observation, and they seem to have some taste for the beautiful both in colour and sound. It is certain that the females occasionally exhibit, from unknown causes, the strongest antipathies and preferences for particular males. When the sexes differ in colour or in other ornaments, the males with rare exceptions are the more decorated, either permanently or during the breeding season. They sedulously display their various ornaments, exert their voices, and perform strange antics in the presence of the females. Even well-armed males who, it might be thought, would altogether depend for success on the law of battle, are in most cases highly ornamented; and their ornaments have been acquired at the expense of some loss of power. In other cases ornaments have been acquired at the cost of increased risk from birds and beasts of prey. With various species many individuals of both sexes congregate at the same spot, and their courtship is a prolonged affair. There is even reason to suspect that the males and females within the same district do not always succeed in pleasing each other and pairing.

“What then are we to conclude from these facts and considerations? Does the male parade his charms with so much pomp and 45rivalry for no purpose? Are we not justified in believing that the female exerts a choice, and that she receives the addresses of the male who pleases her most? It is not probable that she consciously deliberates; but she is most excited or attracted by the most beautiful, or melodious, or gallant males. Nor need it be supposed that the female studies each stripe or spot of colour; that the peahen, for instance, admires each detail in the gorgeous train of the peacock—she is probably struck only by the general effect. Nevertheless, after hearing how carefully the male Argus pheasant displays his elegant primary wing-feathers, and erects his ocellated plumes in the right position for their full effect; or again, how the male goldfinch alternately displays his gold-bespangled wings, we ought not to feel too sure that the female does not attend to each detail of beauty.”

Now it was this very case of the Argus pheasant that first shook Mr. Wallace’s “belief in ‘sexual,’ or, more properly, ‘female’ selection. The long series of gradations by which the beautifully-shaped ocelli on the secondary wing-feathers of this bird have been produced are clearly traced out; the result being a set of markings so exquisitely shaded as to represent ‘balls lying loose within sockets’—purely artificial objects of which these birds could have no possible experience. That this result should have been attained through thousands and tens of thousands of female birds all preferring those males whose markings varied slightly in this one direction, this uniformity of choice continuing through thousands and tens of thousands of generations, is to me absolutely incredible. And when, further, we remember that those who did not so vary would also, according to all evidence, find mates and have offspring, the actual result seems quite impossible of attainment by such means.”

According to Darwin’s own admission (Descent of Man, p. 211), he advanced the theory of Sexual Selection because, in his opinion, Natural Selection did not account for the various ornaments and attractions of the males in question. Mr. Wallace, on the other hand, believes that Sexual Selection does not, while Natural Selection does account for these ornaments; so, in place of Darwin’s view that the beauty of certain male animals leads the females to prefer them to their less ornamented rivals, he substitutes the theory that it is the superior vitality, persistence, and vivacity of the favoured males that fascinate the females, and that masculine beauty is simply a natural result of superior vigour and superabundant health.

Darwin doubtless errs in claiming an æsthetic sense for animals 46so low in the scale of life as butterflies and other insects, and in attributing to it such extraordinary effects in the development of personal beauty. What Mr. Wallace has done in Tropical Nature is to show simply that it is quite unnecessary to invoke the aid of so questionable an agency as Sexual Selection in order to account for the ornaments of animals; and that the fundamental principle of Darwinism, Natural Selection, accounts for everything.

He maintains that colour is a normal product of organisation, and that not so much its presence as its absence needs accounting for. White and black are comparatively rare and exceptional in nature, while the various tints of red, blue, green, etc., are continually appearing spontaneously and irregularly in the integuments of animals. These irregular colours, if injurious to the species, will be at once eliminated by Natural Selection; but if useful for purposes of identification or protection, they will be preserved and intensified.

Now colour, Mr. Wallace continues, is proportionate to integumentary development, and is most conspicuous in the wings of butterflies and the feathers of birds, for the reason that, just as “the spots and rings on a soap-bubble increase with increasing tenuity,” similarly the delicately-organised surface of feathers and scales is highly favourable to the production of varied colour-effects.

Colour being thus proportionate to integumentary development, we find next that integumentary development is, in turn, proportionate to vigour and vitality; the strongest animals having the largest feathers, scales, horns, etc. Hence the most vigorous and healthy animals are also the most beautiful, the most brilliantly coloured. And this correlation between healthful vigour and beauty is still more strikingly shown in this, that “The colours of an animal usually fade during disease or weakness, while robust health and vigour adds to their intensity.... In all quadrupeds a ‘dull coat’ is indicative of ill-health or low condition; while a glossy coat and sparkling eye are the invariable accompaniments of health and energy. The same rule applies to the feathers of birds, whose colours are only seen in their purity during perfect health; and a similar phenomenon occurs even among insects, for the bright hues of caterpillars begin to fade as soon as they become inactive preparatory to their undergoing transformation. Even in the vegetable kingdom we see the same thing: for the tints of foliage are deepest, and the colours of flowers and fruits richest, on those plants which are in the most healthy and vigorous condition.”

47Add to all these considerations that “this intensity of coloration becomes most developed during the breeding season, when the vitality is at a maximum,” and we shall be prepared for Mr. Wallace’s summing up of his case:—

“If now we accept the evidence of Mr. Darwin’s most trustworthy correspondents, that the choice of the female, so far as she exerts any, falls upon ‘the most vigorous, defiant, and mettlesome male’; and if we further believe, what is certainly the case, that these are as a rule the most highly-coloured and adorned with the finest developments of plumage, we have a real and not a hypothetical cause at work. For these most healthy, vigorous, and beautiful males will have the choice of the finest and most healthy females; and will be able best to protect and rear those families. Natural Selection, and what may be termed Male Selection, will tend to give them the advantage in the struggle for existence; and thus the fullest and the finest colours will be transmitted, and tend to advance in each succeeding generation.”

By this strong chain of reasoning (to which my brief >résumé of course cannot do justice) Mr. Wallace shows that Darwin needlessly introduced the principle of Sexual Selection into animal courtship; and at the same time furnishes a new confirmation of Darwin’s compliment that he has “an innate genius for solving difficulties.”

What makes Mr. Wallace’s argument the more cogent is the fact that Darwin himself, in speaking of the lowest classes of animals, explains their beauty on the same principles as those which Mr. Wallace applies to the higher animals. Thus he says: “We can, in our ignorance of most of the lowest animals, only say that their bright tints result either from the chemical nature or the minute structure of their tissues, independently of any benefit thus derived.” “It is almost certain that these animals have too imperfect senses, and much too low mental powers, to appreciate each other’s beauty or other attractions, or to feel rivalry.” “Nor is it at all obvious how the offspring from the more beautiful pairs of hermaphrodites would have any advantage over the offspring of the less beautiful, so as to increase in number, unless indeed vigour and beauty generally coincided.” And once more, “The sedentary annelids become duller-coloured, according to M. Quatrefages, after the period of reproduction; and this I presume may be attributed to their less vigorous condition at that time.”

So far we have only considered the origin of animal colours in general. Mr. Wallace, however, has not only made clear the 48general connection between beautiful and vivid colours and health, but, by utilising his own researches and those of Mr. Bates and other naturalists, he has been able to show to what a great extent we can explain even the particular colours of the various classes of animals. He distinguishes four classes of animal colours—Protective, Warning, Sexual, and Typical.

(1) Protective Colours.—These “are exceedingly prevalent in nature, comprising those of all the white arctic animals, the sandy-coloured desert forms, and the green birds and insects of tropical forests. It also comprises thousands of cases of special resemblance—of birds to the surroundings of their nests, and especially of insects to the bark, leaves, flowers, or soil on or amid which they dwell. Mammalia, fishes, and reptiles, as well as mollusca, present similar phenomena; and the more the habits of animals are investigated, the more numerous are found to be the cases in which their colours tend to conceal them, either from their enemies or from the creatures they prey upon.”

(2) Warning Colours.—In this class, on the other hand, the object is not to conceal the animal, but to make it conspicuous. Certain species of gorgeously-coloured butterflies, e.g. are never eaten by birds, spiders, lizards, or monkeys, who eagerly feed on other butterflies. “The reason simply is that they are not fit to eat, their juices having a powerful odour and taste that is absolutely disgusting to all these animals. Now we see the reason of their showy colours and slow flight. It is good for them to be seen and recognised, for then they are never molested; but if they did not differ in form and colouring from other butterflies, or if they flew so quickly that their peculiarities could not be easily noticed, they would be captured, and though not eaten, would be maimed or killed.”

Mimicry is the name given to a second and still more marvellous class of Warning Colours. They belong to defenceless creatures which so closely resemble other brightly-coloured but nauseous or dangerous animals that they are mistaken for the latter, and therefore left alone. E.G. “Wasps are imitated by moths, and ants by beetles; and even poisonous snakes are mimicked by harmless snakes, and dangerous hawks by defenceless cuckoos.”

(3) Typically-coloured animals are those species which are brilliantly coloured in both sexes, “and for whose particular colours we can assign no function or use.” This group “comprises an immense number of showy birds, such as Kingfishers, Barbets, Toucans, Lories, Tits, and Starlings; among insects most of the largest and handsomest butterflies,” etc. “It is a suggestive fact 49that all the brightly-coloured birds mentioned above build in holes or form covered nests, so that the females do not need that protection during the breeding season which I believe to be one of the chief causes of the dull colour of female birds when their partners are gaily coloured.”

(4) Sexual Colours, comprising those cases in which the sexes differ, and with which Darwin’s theory of Sexual Selection is directly concerned. Through no direct fault of his own, Darwin leaves on his readers the impression—which has become almost a commonplace of conversation—that it is the general rule among animals for the males of each species to be more ornamented than the females. The truth is, however, that “with the exception of butterflies, the sexes are almost alike in the great majority of insects. The same is the case in mammals and reptiles; while the chief departure from the rule occurs in birds, though even here in very many cases the law of sexual likeness prevails.”

The reason why I have devoted so much space to Mr. Wallace’s colour theories is to emphasise the truth contained in this last sentence; the fact, namely, that even if Sexual Selection were accepted as an active principle, it would account in only a very limited number of cases for the personal beauty of animals, and the reader of Mr. Wallace’s Tropical Nature and his Contributions to the Theory of Natural Selection cannot fail to be convinced that Sexual Selection does not even hold good in this limited number of cases, but that “the primary cause of sexual diversity of colour is the need of protection, repressing in the female those bright colours which are normally produced in both sexes by general laws.”

Incidentally Mr. Wallace mentions as an additional function of colour the fact that it may serve as a means of recognition to the sexes. “This view affords us an explanation of the curious fact that among butterflies the females of closely-allied species in the same locality sometimes differ considerably, while the males are much alike; for, as the males are the swiftest, and by far the highest flyers, and seek out the females, it would evidently be advantageous for them to be able to recognise their true partners at some distance off.”

To me it seems that this function of colour is, next to Protection, its most important object, and that Mr. Wallace does not give it sufficient prominence. He says, in speaking of Typical Colours, that we can assign “no function or use for them.” But why should they not serve the sexes as a means of recognition at at a distance? especially as colours can be recognised at a greater 50distance than forms. Many years before Darwin and Mr. Wallace wrote on this subject, Schopenhauer’s genius anticipated this view of the matter. “The extremely varied and vivid colours of the feathers of tropical birds,” he wrote, “have been explained in a very general way, with reference to their efficient cause, as due to the strong effect of the tropical light. As their final cause I would suggest that these brilliant plumes are the gala uniforms by means of which the species, which are so numerous there and often belonging to the same genus, recognise each other; so that every male finds his female. The same is true of the butterflies of different zones and latitudes” (Welt als Wille u. V., ii. 381).

Schopenhauer of course errs in attributing, in his ignorance of Protective, Warning, and other colours, all the hues of birds and butterflies to this agency. But it is probable that whenever colours and other ornaments do not serve for purposes of protection (as e.g. the lion’s mane and the horns of beetles, vide Tropical Nature, p. 202), they serve the purpose of sexual recognition of species. A case cited by Darwin to prove that quadrupeds take notice of colour, is very suggestive in this connection: “A female zebra would not admit the addresses of a male ass until he was painted so as to resemble a zebra, and then, as John Hunter remarks, she received him very readily.”

It is probable, therefore, that in many cases the unique spots and stripes and colours of animals subserve the special use of facilitating the finding of a partner; and in this way they relate directly to the courtship and Romantic Love of animals. Thus we see how the Love affairs of animals may indirectly affect their Personal Beauty in a way quite different from that suggested by Darwin.


The same reasoning applies to the music of animals, vocal and instrumental, on which Darwin lays great stress. In his opinion, the music of some male animals serves to charm the females æsthetically, and thus gives to the best musicians special advantages through Sexual Selection. But the instances cited by him hardly warrant this conclusion, and seem rather to point to the inference that the function of animal music is chiefly to facilitate courtship, by making it easy for the females to discover the whereabouts of a male of the same species. The evidence tends to show that it is not the male whose voice is most mellow and melodious that catches the female, but rather the one who is most vigorous and persistent and has the loudest organ. As Jaques says in As 51You Like It: “Sing it: ’tis no matter how it be in tune, so it make noise enough!”

Darwin himself quotes a naturalist’s statement, that “the stridulation produced by some of the Locustidæ is so loud that it can be heard during the night at the distance of a mile;” and such cases as “the drumming of the snipe’s tail, the tapping of the woodpecker’s beak, the harsh, trumpetlike cry of certain water-fowl,” though Darwin tries to dispose of them on the ground of a difference in æsthetic taste, nevertheless incline one to the belief that the music of the forest troubadours is not so much intended to gratify the æsthetic taste of the female as to guide her to the spot where the male awaits her; for, contrary to common opinion, it is the female in these cases that searches for a male and not vice versâ. Montagu, for instance, asserts that “males of song-birds and of many others do not in general search for the female, but, on the contrary, their business in spring is to perch on some conspicuous spot, breathing out their full and amorous notes, which, by instinct, the female knows, and repairs to the spot to choose her mate.” And Dr. Hartman, speaking of the American Cicada septemdecim, says: “The drums are now heard in all directions. This I believe to be the marital summons from the males. Standing in thick chestnut sprouts about as high as my head, where hundreds were around me, I observed the females coming around the drumming males.” And, says Darwin, “the spel of the blackcock certainly serves as a call to the female, for it has been known to bring four or five females from a distance to a male under confinement; but as the blackcock continues his spel for hours during successive days, and in the case of the capercailzie ‘with an agony of passion,’ we are led to suppose that the females which are present are thus charmed.”

There appears to be no direct evidence, however, that female birds are more charmed by one male than another, and prefer him on account of his superior song, as the theory of Sexual Selection postulates. And when we remember that likewise there is no evidence that birds, etc., are ever influenced in their choice by the superior colours of certain males, and that in fact it is the rule for the female to follow passively the most vigorous and victorious male, we are brought back to the conclusion with which we set out—that it is not the superior songster who wins the female by charming her, but the loudest and most persistent songster, by guiding her to the courting-place.

Darwin himself evidently felt the weakness of his position, for he constantly speaks of “love-charms or love-calls” in the same 52sentence. Thus, “the true song of most birds and various strange cries are uttered chiefly during the breeding-season, and serve as a charm, or merely as a call-note, to the other sex.” Again: “It is often difficult to conjecture whether the many strange cries and notes uttered by male birds during the breeding-season serve as a charm or merely as a call to the female.” The distinction between love “charms” and mere “calls” is of course of the utmost importance. For if male song charms the females and influences them in their choice, we have Sexual-æsthetic-female Selection. But if the male song merely serves as a call to the female and as a sign of species-recognition, then Natural Selection accounts for everything, because the most vigorous, loudest, and most persistent male will have the choice of the most numerous females brought to his side by his musical efforts.


There is one more important link in the chain of Darwin’s reasoning, which must be broken before his theory of Sexual Selection can be regarded as demolished. The mad antics of the blackcock and other birds have been already referred to; and some of the lower animals seem to endeavour to surpass them, as, for example, the male alligator, who strives to attract the attention of the female by splashing and roaring in the water; “swollen to an extent ready to burst, with its head and tail lifted up, he spins or twirls round on the surface of the water, like an Indian chief rehearsing his feats of war.” “To suppose,” says Darwin, “that the females do not appreciate the beauty of the males, is to admit that their splendid decorations, all their pomp and display, are useless; and this is incredible.”

But are there no other ways of accounting for all this “pomp and display”? Certainly, several of them. We have seen that the most vigorous males are those which are most highly ornamented, and that it is the vigour and vivacity of the males that seems to decide the choice of the females where there is any. Now instinct, i.e. inherited experience, teaches the female the connection between vigour and display of ornament, and influences her choice accordingly. Again, the males indulge in their display for the purpose of arousing the attention of the passive female. This supposition is rendered the more probable by Darwin’s admission that “we must be cautious in concluding that the wings are spread out solely for display, as some birds do so whose wings are not beautiful.”

53A third motive of display is the need of finding an outlet for overflowing nervous energy and excitement. To this Mr. Wallace refers as follows: “At pairing time the male is in a state of excitement and full of exuberant energy. Even unornamented birds flutter their wings or spread them out, erect their tails or crests, and thus give vent to the nervous excitability with which they are overcharged.” “It is not improbable,” he continues,—and this suggests a fourth use of display—"that crests and other erectile feathers may be primarily of use in frightening away enemies, since they are generally erected when angry or during combat."

A fifth motive of display is suggested by an analogy furnished by human butterflies and birds of Paradise. Among animals where the sexes differ, it is commonly the male who is adorned the most. With us it is the women. But woman’s fineries are not intended to charm the eyes of men, but to excite one another’s rivalry and envy. Now it seems that male birds, with whose plumes our heartless women are so fond of decking themselves, are guilty of an analogous weakness. They will sometimes display their ornaments, says Darwin, “when not in the presence of the females, as occasionally occurs with grouse at their holyholy places, and as may be noticed with the peacock; this latter bird, however, evidently wishes for a spectator of some kind, and, as I have often seen, will show off his finery before poultry or even pigs. All naturalists who have closely attended to the habits of birds, whether in a state of nature or under confinement, are unanimously of opinion that the males take delight in displaying their beauty.”beauty.” And, once more, “with birds of Paradise a dozen or more full-plumaged males congregate in a tree to hold a dancing-party, as it is called by the natives; and here they fly about, raise their wings, elevate their exquisite plumes, and make them vibrate; and the whole tree seems, as Mr. Wallace remarks, to be filled with waving plumes.”

But if it be the unanimous opinion of naturalists who have closely studied the habits of birds, “that the males take delight in displaying their beauty,” why should not the females also take pleasure in witnessing this display? Perhaps they do, sometimes; for even Mr. Wallace admits that “the display of the various ornamental appendages of the male during courtship may be attractive” to the female. But there is a world-wide difference between this assertion and the doctrine that the females are so greatly and so constantly influenced by their æsthetic taste that they always prefer among males those that are slightly more beautiful than the others, thus increasing their personal beauty by 54transmission. This is an assumption unsupported by facts, and rendered unnecessary because Natural Selection accounts for all the phenomena in question.

Admiration of Personal Beauty does not appear, therefore, to enter noticeably into animal love, except in so far as a slight amount of æsthetic taste may be admitted in birds. This taste may be strengthened by the sight of the brilliant masculine ornaments during the season of love being associated with the remembered pleasures of courtship.

Indirectly, however, female animals promote the cause of beauty by preferring the more healthy and vigorous individuals, who are commonly also the most beautiful ones. And is not the same true of females of the human persuasion, who likewise are much less influenced in their choice by the beauty than by the boldness, energy, vivacity, and “manliness” of their suitors? It seems to hold true throughout nature that the female’s Love is weak in the æsthetic element, her taste being little developed and too often neutralised by unconscious utilitarian considerations.



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

This anomaly is easily explained. The intellectual power and emotional horizon of animals are limited; but in those directions in which Natural Selection has made them specialists, they reach a high degree of development, because inherited experience tends to give to their actions an instinctive or quasi-instinctive precision and certainty. Among primitive men, on the other hand, reason begins to encroach more on instinct, but yet in such a feeble way as to make constant blunders inevitable: thus proving that strong instincts, combined with a limited intellectual plasticity, are a safer guide in life than a more plastic but weak intellect minus the assistance of stereotyped instincts.

If neither intellect nor instinct guide the primitive man to 55well-regulated marital relations, such as we find among many animals, so again his emotional life is too crude and limited to allow any scope for the domestic affections. Inasmuch as, according to Sir John Lubbock, gratitude, mercy, pity, chastity, forgiveness, humility, are ideas or feelings unknown to many or most savage tribes, we should naturally expect that such a highly-compounded and ethereal feeling as Romantic Love could not exist among them. How could Love dwell in the heart of a savage who baits a fish-hook with the flesh of a child; who eats his wife when she has lost her beauty and the muscular power which enabled her to do all his hard work; who abandons his aged parents, or kills them, and whose greatest delight in life is to kill an enemy slowly amid the most diabolic tortures?

Or how could a primitive girl love a man whose courtship consists in knocking her on the head and carrying her forcibly from her own to his tribe? A man who, after a very brief period of caresses, neglects her, takes perhaps another and younger wife, and reduces the first one to the condition of a slave, refusing to let her eat at his table, throwing her bones and remains, as to a dog, or even driving her away and killing her, if she displeases him? These are extreme cases, but they are not rare; and in a slightly modified form they are found throughout savagedom.

That Love is a sentiment unknown to savages has been frequently noted in the works of anthropologists and tourists. When Ploss remarks that the lowest savages “know as little of marriage relations as animals; still less do they know the feeling we call Love,” he does a great injustice to animals, as those who have read the preceding chapter must admit. LetourneauLetourneau, in his Sociologie, remarks: “Among the Cafres Cousas, according to Lichtenstein, the sentiment of love does not constitute a part of marriage. ‘The idea of love, as we understand it,’ says Du Chaillu, in speaking of a tribe of the Gabon, ‘appears to be unknown to this tribe.’” Monteiro, speaking of the polygamous tribes of Africa, says: “The negro knows not love, affection, or jealousy.... In all the long years I have been in Africa I have never seen a negro manifest the least tenderness for or to a negress.... I have never seen a negro put his arm round a woman’s waist, or give or receive any caress whatever that would indicate the slightest loving regard or affection on either side. They have no words or expressions in their language indicative of affection or love.”

Mr. Spencer, in commenting on this passage, remarks that “This testimony harmonises with testimonies cited by Sir John 56Lubbock, to the effect that the Hottentots ‘are so cold and indifferent to one another that you would think there was no such thing as love between them’; that among the Koussa Kaffirs there is ‘no feeling of love in marriage’; and that in Yariba, ‘a man thinks as little of taking a wife as of cutting an ear of corn—affection is altogether out of the question.’”

Mr. Winwood Reade, on the other hand, informed Darwin that the West Africans “are quite capable of falling in love, and of forming tender, passionate, and faithful attachments.” And the anthropologist Waitz, speaking of Polynesia, says that “examples of real passionate love are not rare, and on the Fiji Islands it has happened that individuals married against their will have committed suicide; although this has only happened in the higher classes.” Unfortunately in these cases we are left in doubt as to whether the reference is to Conjugal or to Romantic Love; conjugal attachment, being of earlier growth than Romantic Love, because the development of the latter was retarded by the limited opportunities for prolonged Courtship and free Choice.


In his anxiety to find cases of Romantic Love among North American and other primitive peoples, Waitz is obliged to fall back on legends of Lovers’ Leaps and Maiden Rocks, and on a poem about a South American maiden who committed suicide on her lover’s grave to avoid falling into the hands of the Spaniards. Legends and poems, unfortunately, do not count for much as scientific evidence. At the same time, it would doubtless be incorrect to assert on the strength of some of the authorities just quoted that Love does not exist at all among savages, and therefore to make the chapter on Love among Savages as brief as that chapter on Snakes in Ireland. We shall find, on the contrary, that several of Love’s “overtones” are occasionally present; and that though full-fledged cupids may never appear with their poisoned arrows, mischievous amourettes sometimes do flit across the field of vision. For the goddess of Love is ever watchful of an opportunity for one of her emissaries to bag some game.

Romantic Love is dependent on opportunities for Courtship. Among savages and semi-civilised nations we find three grades of Courtship—Capture, Purchase, and Service. These must be briefly examined in turn.

(1) Capture.—One of the most curious features of savage life is the widely-prevalent custom called by M‘Lennan Exogamy, or 57marrying out. This custom compels a man who wishes a wife of his own to steal or purchase her of another tribe, private marriage within his own tribe being considered criminal and even punishable with death. To this rule of Exogamy Sir John Lubbock traces the origin of Monogamy. In his view women were at first, like other kinds of property, held in common by the tribe, any man being any woman’s husband ad libitum. No man could therefore claim a woman for himself without infringing on the rights of others. But if he stole a woman from another tribe, she became his exclusive property, which he had a right to guard jealously, and to look upon with the Pride of Conquest—a pride, however, quite distinct from that which intoxicates a civilised lover when he finds, or fondly imagines, that his goddess has chosen him among all his rivals. The primitive man’s pride is more like that of the warrior who wears a large number of scalps in his belt; and as in his case marriage immediately follows Capture, this feeling, moreover, belongs more properly to the sphere of conjugal sentiment than to that of Love.

This primitive form of courtship, it is obvious, is very much ruder than that which prevails in the animal kingdom, where the males alone maltreat one another, while in this early human courtship the woman, if she resists, is simply knocked on the head, and her senseless body carried off to the captor’s tent. Diefenbach relates concerning the Polynesians that “if a girl was courted by two suitors, each of them grasped one arm of the beloved and pulled her toward him; the stronger one got her, but in some cases not before her limbs had been pulled out of joint.” And Waitz says that “the girls were commonly abducted by force, which led frequently to most violent fights, in which the girl herself was occasionally wounded, or even killed, to prevent her from falling into the hands of the enemy.”

Mr. E. B. Tylor, after stating that marriage by Capture may be seen at the present day among the fierce forest tribes of Brazil, continues: “Ancient tradition knows this practice well, as where the men of Benjamin carry off the daughters of Shiloh dancing at the feast, and in the famous Roman tale of the rape of the Sabines, a legend putting in historical form the wife-capture which in Roman custom remained as a ceremony. What most clearly shows what a recognised old-world custom it was, is its being thus kept up as a formality where milder manners really prevailed. It had passed into this state among the Spartans, when Plutarch says that though the marriage was really by friendly settlement between the families, the bridegroom’s friends went through the 58pretence of carrying off the bride by violence. Within a few generations the same old habit was kept up in Wales, where the bridegroom and his friends, mounted and armed as for war, carried off the bride; and in Ireland they used even to hurl spears at the bride’s people, though at such a distance that no one was hurt, except now and then by accident, as happened when one Lord Howth lost an eye, which mischance seems to have put an end to this curious relic of antiquity.”

Moreover, we are told that “in our own marriages the ‘best man’ seems originally to have been the chief abettor of the bridegroom in the act of capture.”

In a modified form “wife-capture” cannot be said to be extinct even in this advanced age. Elopement is the modern name for it When the parents dissent and the couple are very young, this climax of courtship doubtless is often reprehensible. But in those cases where the consent of all parties has been obtained, it ought to be universally adopted. Sudden flight and an impromptu marriage would add much to the romance of the honeymoon, and would enable the bridal couple to avoid the terrors and stupid formalities of the wedding-day, the anticipation of which is doubtless responsible for the ever-increasing number of cowardly bachelors in the world.

(2) Purchase represents a somewhat higher stage of Courtship than Capture. Like Capture this custom has existed among the peoples of the five continents, and is still retained in some parts of Africa and elsewhere. In Holstein, Germany, it prevailed in all its purity, according to Ploss, till the end of the fifteenth century. Nor would it be doing facts great violence to class our frequent money-marriages under this head.

There are two grades of the custom of Purchase. In the first the girl has no choice whatever, but is sold by her father for so many cows or camels, in some cases to the highest bidder. Among the Turcomans a wife may be purchased for five camels if she be a girl, or for fifty if a widow; whereas among the Tunguse a girl costs one to twenty reindeer, while widows are considerably cheaper. In the second class of cases the purchased girl is allowed a certain degree of liberty of choice, as we shall see directly, under the head of Individual Preference.

(3) Service.—On the custom of securing a wife by means of services rendered her parents, Mr. Spencer remarks: “The practice which Hebrew tradition acquaints us with in the case of Jacob, proves to be a widely-diffused practice. It is general with the Bhils, Ghonds, and Hill tribes of Nepaul; it obtained in Java 59before Mahometanism was introduced; it was common in ancient Peru and Central America; and among sundry existing American races it still occurs. Obviously, a wife long laboured for is likely to be more valued than one stolen or bought. Obviously, too, the period of service, during which the betrothed girl is looked upon as a future spouse, affords room for the growth of some feeling higher than the merely instinctive—initiates something approaching to the courtship and engagement of civilised peoples.”


All the cases thus far referred to relate to what might be called indirect or mediate courtship. When a girl is captured and knocked on the head she can hardly be said to be courted and consulted as to her wishes; and the man too, in such cases, owing to the dangers of the sport, is apt to pay no great attention to a woman’s looks and accomplishments, but to bag the first one that comes along. In courtship by Purchase, again, the girl is rarely consulted as to her own preferences, the addresses being paid to the father, who invariably selects the wealthiest of the suitors, and only in rare cases allows the daughter a choice, as among the Kaffirs if the suitors happen to be equally well off. And thirdly, in courtship by Service, the suitor’s work is not done to please the daughter, but to recompense the parents for losing her.

Yet there appear to be some instances of real courtship, in the modern sense of the word, among the lower races, where the lovers pay their addresses directly to the girl and she chooses or rejects at will. Thus, among the Orang-Sakai, on the Malayan peninsula, the following custom prevails, as described by Ploss: “On the wedding-day, the bride, in presence of her relatives, and those of her lover, and many other witnesses, is obliged to run into the forest. After a fixed interval the bridegroom follows and seeks to catch her. If he succeeds in capturing the bride she becomes his wife, otherwise he is compelled to renounce her for ever. If therefore a girl dislikes her suitor, she can easily escape from him and hide in the forest until the time allowed for his pursuit has expired.”

Darwin remarks, in trying to prove the existence of Sexual Selection among the lower races, that “in utterly barbarous tribes the women have more power in choosing, rejecting, and tempting their lovers, or of afterwards changing their husbands, than might have been expected;” and he cites the following cases, among 60others: “Amongst the Abipones, a man on choosing a wife, bargains with the parents about the price. But ‘it frequently happens that the girl rescinds what has been agreed upon between the parents and the bridegroom, obstinately rejecting the very mention of marriage.’ She often runs away, hides herself, and thus eludes the bridegroom. Captain Musters, who lived with the Patagonians, says that their marriages are always settled by inclination; ‘if the parents make a match contrary to the daughter’s will, she refuses, and is never compelled to comply.’ In Tierra del Fuego a young man first obtains the consent of the parents by doing them some service, and then he attempts to carry off the girl; ‘but if she is unwilling, she hides herself in the woods until her admirer is heartily tired of looking for her, and gives up the pursuit; but this seldom happens.’”


Evidence proving that primitive women are influenced in their choice of a mate by æsthetic considerations appears to be almost as scant as among animals. Darwin, however, tries to prove that men owe their beards to sexual or female selection; and the following more general instances may be cited for what they are worth: Azara “describes how carefully a Guana woman bargains for all sorts of privileges before accepting some one or more husbands; and the men in consequence take unusual care of their personal appearance.” Among the Kaffirs “very ugly, though rich men, have been known to fail in getting wives. The girls, before consenting to be betrothed, compel the men to show themselves off first in front and then behind, and ‘exhibit their paces.’”

In general, however, it seems that the women choose, not the handsomest men, but those whose boldness, pugnacity, and virility promise them the surest protection against enemies, and general domestic delights. Thus, we read that “before he is allowed to marry, a young Dyack must prove his bravery by bringing back the head of an enemy;” and that when the Apaches warriors return unsuccessful, “the women turn away from them with assured indifference and contempt. They are upbraided as cowards, or for want of skill and tact, and are told that such men should not have wives.”

It must be remembered, however, that (as we have seen in the case of plants and animals) the greatest amount of health, vigour, and courage generally coincide with the greatest physical beauty; hence the continued preference of the most energetic and lusty men 61by the superior women who have a choice, has naturally tended to evolve a superior type of manly beauty.

In the case of men it seems much more probable that they frequently select their wives in accordance with an æsthetic standard. The chiefs of almost every tribe throughout the world have more than one wife; and Mr. Mantell informed Darwin that until recently almost every girl in New Zealand who was pretty, or promised to be pretty, was tapu to some chief; while among the Kaffirs, according to Mr. C. Hamilton, “the chiefs generally have the pick of the women for many miles round, and are most persevering in establishing or confirming their privilege.” In the lower tribes, where “communal marriage” and marriage by Capture alone prevail, æsthetic choice is of course out of the question, and cannot make its appearance till we come to less pugnacious tribes, such as the Dyacks, whose children “have the freedom implied by regular courtship,” or the Samoans, whose children “have the degree of independence implied by elopements when they cannot obtain parental assent to their marriage” (Spencer).

In general, however, among the lower races, Sexual or æsthetic Selection leads to sorry results, owing to the bad taste of the selectors. The standard of primitive taste is not harmonious proportion and capacity for expression, but Exaggeration. The negro woman has naturally thicker lips, more prominent cheek-bones, and a flatter nose than a white woman; and in selecting a mate, preference is commonly given to the one whose lips are thickest, nose most flattened, and cheek-bones most prominent: thus producing gradually that monster of ugliness—the average negro woman. What right we have to set ourselves up as judges, and claim that our taste is superior to the negro’s, is a question which will be discussed in a subsequent section of this treatise.

One other point, however, may be referred to here, namely, that although the æsthetic overtone of Love—the Admiration of Personal Beauty—may enter into a savage’s amorous feelings, it is only the sensuous aspect of it that affects him, the intellectual and moral sides being unknown to him. His admiration is purely physical. He marries his chosen bride when she is a mere child, and before the slightest spark of mental charm can illumine her features and impart to them a superior beauty; and subsequently, when experience has somewhat sharpened her intellectual powers, hard labour has already destroyed all traces of her physical beauty so that the combination of physical and mental charms which alone can inspire the highest form of Love is never to be found in primitive woman.



The moral mission of Jealousy, as stated on a preceding page, is, by means of watchfulness and the inspiring of fear, to ensure fidelity and chastity. Darwin says that from the strength of the feeling of jealousy all through the animal kingdom, as well as from the analogy of the lower animals, especially those which come nearest to man, he “cannot believe that absolutely promiscuous intercourse prevailed in times past, shortly before man attained to his present rank in the zoological scale.” This may be true, yet it is astonishing to find how many of the lower tribes are utterly unconcerned regarding the morals both of married and unmarried women. A vast number of cases illustrating this absence of jealousy are collected in Waitz’s Anthropology, Spencer’s Sociology, the works of Lubbock, and especially in Ploss’s Das Weib, i. 205-214. In some cases girls are allowed to do as they please until after marriage, when they are jealously guarded; in other cases the reverse is true. In some parts of Africa a breach of faith on the wife’s part is regarded as an attack not on the husband’s honour but on his property; hence a pecuniary compensation is all that is required. Lubbock enumerates a large number of races among whom the lending of a wife or daughter is a common and obligatory form of hospitality. And the Chibchas of South America went so far in their indifference to virginity that they considered a virgin bride to be unfortunate, “as she had not inspired affection in men.”

Jealousy for the possession of a woman, however, was much sooner developed than jealous regard for her conduct. The statement of Sir John Lubbock about the men of an Indian tribe, that they “fight for the possession of the women, just like stags,” and similar statements regarding other savages, imply that, just like stags, these men feel the pangs of primitive Jealousy.

Among polygamous nations the women, too, often fight for the men, whose favourites in their absence are apt to suffer much at the hands of jealous rivals. It is among the polygamous semi-civilised nations in general that Jealousy asserts itself in the most shrill and dissonant manner. It is not that bitter-sweet romantic Jealousy which by its constant fluctuations between hope and doubt fans a modern lover’s passion into brighter flames; it is a more vicious kind of conjugal Jealousy which destroys domestic peace and plots the ruin of rivals. In Madagascar, Mr. Spencer tells us, “the name for Polygyny—‘fampovafesana’—signifies 63‘the means of causing enmity’”enmity’”; and that kindred names are commonly applicable to it we are shown by their use among the Hebrews: in the Mishna a man’s several wives are called ‘tzârot,’ that is, troubles, adversaries, or rivals. In modern Persia, where polygamy prevails, the same state of affairs is encountered. Says Ploss: “If there are several women in the house, each one inhabits a separate division; in the houses of the wealthy each wife, moreover, has her own servants. Constantly apprehending evil intentions, no woman touches the dishes of a rival.”

It is among the polygamous nations of the East, too, that history records such a profusion of bloody wars of succession waged by half-brothers; for how could fraternal or any other kind of domestic affection flourish in families where the mothers are constantly goaded by Jealousy into deadly hatred of one another?


The United States being a “free country,” its government has sometimes been blamed by “freethinkers” for attempting to repress Mormon Polygamy. But a free country is not one in which social experiments injurious to public welfare are to be necessarily allowed. Readers of history and anthropology know that polygamy is an experiment which has been tried so often with disastrous social results, that it may be looked upon safely as criminal and treated accordingly. Even the forcible argument of that spiteful old pessimist, Schopenhauer, that polygamy should be introduced because it would rid the world of old maids, does not save the institution; since it is well—for the prospects of Beauty, at any rate—that some women should be “eliminated” in the form of old maids.

Among the causes which tended to make polygamy the commonest form of marriage among savages, four may be briefly enumerated: (1) The constant wars among the tribes decimated the men, leaving a larger proportion of women than men, although this was to some extent neutralised by the habit of female infanticide, which the women indulged in to make themselves more cherished through scarcity and, possibly, to preserve their beauty; (2) The women being commonly secured as booty in war, it was naturally looked on as an honour and a sign of valour to have more than one wife; (3) Women being regarded and treated as slaves, the more a man had of them the more they could, by their combined labour, increase his wealth and influence in the tribe; (4) The rapid decay of the youthful beauty of primitive woman, 64naturally inclined her husband, whose affection was solely based on those physical charms, to add a second or third, younger woman to his harem.

As woman’s position improved with advancing civilisation, these influences favouring polygamy were gradually weakened; and as in treating of Love among Animals, we found the most remarkable instances of affection—conjugal and romantic—among birds, who are mostly monogamous; so, among the lower races of man, monogamy is commonly a sign of superior culture and higher development of the affections. And this might have been foreseen a priori, inasmuch as monogamymonogamy is the only marital relation compatible with that Monopoly of affection which is one of the conditions of Romantic Love. How could a man feel an exclusive amorous interest in his bride, knowing that in a few months or years another would come to claim half his interest? or how could the bride concentrate all her Love on a man of whom she knew that he could give her only half or a smaller fraction of his affection?

A similar view is taken by Mr. Spencer. Monogamic unions, he says, “tend in no small degree indirectly to raise the quality of adult life, by giving a permanent and deep source of æsthetic interest. On recalling the many and keen pleasures derived from music, poetry, fiction, the drama, etc.; and on remembering that their predominant theme is the passion of love, we shall see that to monogamy, which has developed this passion, we owe a large part of the gratifications which fill our leisure hours.”


Among the Samoiedes, says Klemm, “a man purchases a wife for a number of reindeer, varying from five to twenty; the bride, as is the case also in Greenland, struggles violently against leaving the paternal house, and commonly she has to be caught forcibly and bound on the bridegroom’s sledge.” In some of the Bedouin tribes the destined bride runs from tent to tent to escape being brought to the bridegroom. When an Esquimaux girl is asked in marriage, says Kranz (quoted by Mr. Spencer), she “directly falls into the greatest apparent consternation and runs out of doors, tearing her bunch of hair; for single women always affect the utmost bashfulness and aversion to any proposal of marriage, lest they should lose their reputation for modesty.” So among the Bushmen a lover’s attentions “are received with an affectation of great alarm and disinclination on her part”; while an Arab bride 65“defends herself with stones, and often inflicts wounds on the young men, even though she does not dislike the lover; for according to custom, the more she struggles, bites, kicks, cries, and strikes, the more she is applauded ever after by her own companions.”

Obviously these glacier, forest, and desert belles have a somewhat cruder way than our city belles of hiding their feelings.

Mr. Spencer refers to the Coyness of these maidens as one motive or cause of wife-capture, but he does not inquire into the origin of Coyness itself, which is a much more interesting point in the psychology of Love. The fear “lest they should lose their reputation for modesty,” mentioned above, is the most obvious cause of this exaggerated resistance, as it is of the excessive prudishness often encountered in some European civilised countries of to-day. Again, the sight of the harsh treatment to which her married sisters or friends are subjected, would make the primitive bride naturally averse to exchange her maiden freedom for conjugal slavery.

It seems, however, that in most cases, the Coyness is less real than simulated; and for this form of Coyness—reversing Mr. Spencer’s reasoning—we may say that Exogamy, or Capture, is responsible. For since Capture implies courage and valour on the part of the husband, it may have been to secure the “prestige of a foreign marriage”—as fashionable novelists would say—that the form of Capture was imitated in cases where there was no opposition, either on the part of the girl or her parents.

Another explanation of sham Coyness is afforded by the following case: Among the inhabitants of the Volga region, in Russia, the bride is occasionally captured and carried off, though here too there is no opposition on her part or from her parents. The cause of this procedure is the desire to avoid the expenses of the marriage ceremony, which in that region are out of all proportion to the means of the lower classes.

Finally it may be suggested that Coyness, so far as it really exists in the primitive maiden, owes its origin to the instinctive perception that the men value them more if they do not throw themselves into their arms on the first impulse. And more than anything else, this attitude of reserve feeds the flames of Romantic Love by transferring its delights and pangs to the imagination.

Yet, after all, manifestations of Coyness must be the exception and not the rule in the lower races, inasmuch as in the vast majority of cases, where no choice is allowed the bride, there is little or no opportunity for the exercise of such a trait.

66Of Gallantry I have not succeeded in discovering any traces in the records of savage life, except possibly in the case of the natives of Kamtchatka, where the wooer has to go into service for his bride, and during this time endeavours constantly to lighten her labours and make himself agreeable to her. So far as Gallantry occurs, it is more likely to be a feminine trait—as among one of the North American Indian tribes, where the maiden cooks her suitor’s game, and sends him back the best morsels with presents; or as with another tribe, the Osages, where the maidens pay court to the warriors by offering them ears of corn.

As for the remaining characters of Romantic Love, which require a vivid imagination and persistent emotions for their realisation, it would be useless to look for them in Savagedom—except perhaps in those infinitesimal proportions in which various chemical substances are found by analysts in mineral waters. The following may be offered as an approximate list of the ingredients in the Love of savage and semi-civilised peoples:—

Selfishness 25·7684
Inconstancy 20·3701
Jealousy 0 to 20·7904
Coyness ”   10·5523
Individual Preference ”    5·0073
Personal Beauty ”    5·7002
Monopoly ”    7·3024
Pride of Possession 4·5082
Sympathy 0·0000
Gallantry 0·0006
Self-Sacrifice Traces
Ecstatic Adoration ”   
Mixed Emotions ”   


It is a very interesting question how far the negroes transplanted to America, who have adopted so many of the habits and ways of thinking of their white neighbours, are capable of forming a true romantic attachment, characterised by the various traits described in this work. I have not been able to find any conclusive evidence on this head; and should any readers of this book positively know any cases, I should be greatly obliged if they would forward a detailed account of them to me, in care of the publisher.

As regards a negro’s capacity for falling in Love with a white woman, the following interesting communication[1] appeared in the 67New York Nation, 12th February 1885: “In corroboration of ‘Bill Arp’s’ view, referred to in No. 1020 of the Nation, that negroes, as a race, do not desire to ‘mix’ with the white race, I may cite a remark recently made by a negro carpenter to a friend of mine. The latter said to him, as a village belle passed them on the street, ‘Charles, don’t you think that’s a very handsome young lady?’ ‘I reckon so,’ he answered doubtfully, and immediately added, ‘Fact is, boss, us coloured folks don’t think white ladies handsome; we like ’em coloured the best.’

“Had it been otherwise there would, doubtless, have been innumerable instances, in the North as well as at the South, of love-longings on the part of negro men toward girls of the dominant race. Yet during all the years I have spent in the Southern States, I never knew or heard of any instances of this kind, and their exceptional character in the North must be known to all your readers. The hopelessness of such attachments would, of course, diminish their number; but fancy is always free, and ‘hopeless attachments’ among members of the same race are as common now as when Petrarch sighed for Laura, and Tasso wrote ‘The throne of Cupid has an easy stair,’ himself having climbed it uninspired by hope. The existence of many persons of mixed blood throughout the country affords no proof that the two races feel toward each other the attraction of love; for the fathers, in these cases, are almost invariably white, and the offspring cannot be called ‘love-children,’ but the fruit of mere passion linked with opportunity.”opportunity.”

1. Signed Sue Harry Clagett.


It would be a profitless task to hunt for the first traces of the various elements of Love in the records of all the nations of antiquity; for we meet almost everywhere with the same old story of Romantic Love impeded in its growth or its very existence by the degraded position of women, and by the absence of opportunities for courtship, and for free matrimonial choice. A few remarks, however, must be made concerning Love among the ancient Egyptians, Hebrews, Greeks, Romans, and our Aryan kinsfolk in India, before passing on to Mediæval and Modern Love.


Dr. Georg Ebers, the Leipzig professor, and author of the popular series of historic Egyptian novels, remarks that “if it is 68true that a nation’s degree of culture can be estimated by the more or less favourable position accorded its women, then Egyptian culture ranks above that of all other ancient peoples.”

The women of ancient Egypt were not kept in seclusion like those of Greece. They did their own marketing, and had other domestic and public liberties and privileges which astonished the Greek historian Herodotus, who also mentions that although polygamy was tolerated among them, monogamy was the rule. Inasmuch as the Egyptians had an advanced culture, invented many arts, promoted the sciences, and were industrial rather than militant in their occupations, it is possible that several of the more refined elements of Romantic Love may have existed among them; for just as we have seen that some animals have higher notions of love, conjugal and romantic, than some savages, although the latter represent a later stage of evolution, so it seems probable that among the nations of antiquity Love did not progress steadily, year by year; but that some nations had more and some less of it; while the acquisitions of one period may have been lost in evil and corrupt times following, as was certainly the case in India.

Since we have no such extensive literature of Egypt as we have of the Greeks, Romans, and Hebrews, it is not easy to arrive at definite conclusions. But the Egyptian custom of forming “trial marriages” for one year, and the ease with which a husband could divorce and expel his wife by simply pronouncing three words in her presence do not harmonise with our modern notions of Love. How scornfully a modern Romeo would reject the very notion of such a trial-marriage! for does he not feel absolutely certain that his Love is eternal and unalterable?

The institution of trial-marriages seems to point to the conclusion that the Egyptians, like the Greeks, looked upon marriage primarily as a means of augmenting the family and the state, and not as a union of loving souls—children or no children—which is the modern ideal.

Professor Ebers of course has a right to make use of a poetic license in painting the Love affairs of his Egyptian heroes and heroines in modern colours, as Shakspere does in Antony and Cleopatra. At the same time it would give an added flavour to historic romances if their pictures of domestic and public life were characterised by emotional realism as well as by general antiquarian accuracy. The elaborate analysis of Love, for the first time attempted in the present monograph, should facilitate this task for novelists.



It is almost startling to find, on consulting a Concordance of the Old and New Testaments, that in the whole of the Bible there is not a single reference to Romantic Love. Had this sentiment existed among the ancient Hebrews as it does among their descendants to-day, it is obvious that it could not possibly have been ignored in the Book of Books, which so eloquently and poetically discourses of everything else that is of vital interest to man. Conjugal Love (which apparently antedates Romantic Love in every nation) is indeed repeatedly referred to and enjoined, as well as the other family affections; but in the remaining cases the word Love is always used in the sense of religious veneration, or of regard for a neighbour or an enemy.

This absence of any reference to Romantic Love is all the more surprising in view of the fact that among the ancient Hebrews woman was held more in honour than with any other Oriental nation, ancient or modern. Thus we are told in M‘Clintock and Strong’s Cyclopædia of Biblical etc. Literature, that “the seclusion of the harem and the habits consequent upon it were utterly unknown in early times, and the condition of the Oriental woman, as pictured to us in the Bible, contrasts most favourably with that of her modern representative. There is abundant evidence that women, whether married or unmarried, went about with their faces unveiled. An unmarried woman might meet and converse with men, even strangers, in a public place; she might be found alone in the country without any reflection on her character; or she might appear in a court of justice.” The wife “entertained guests at her own desire in the absence of her husband, and sometimes even in defiance of his wishes.”

Since, therefore, the Hebrew woman was not “the husband’s slave but his companion,” how are we to account for the absence of Love?

Some light is thrown on the matter by the prevalence of polygamy, which, as we have seen, is inimical to the growth of Love. Polygamy, though not universal, was sanctioned by the Mosaic law, except in the case of priests. “The secondary wife was regarded by the Hebrews as a wife, and her rights were secured by law.” In the cases of Abraham and Jacob, polygamy was resorted to at the request of their own wives, “under the idea that children born to a slave were in the eye of the law the children of the mistress.” Now if a woman advises her own husband to take 70another wife, there must be a total absence of Jealousy and Monopoly—the two elements of Romantic Love which pass into conjugal affection without diminution of force.

Again, although Hebrew women are said to have had considerable liberty of going about alone in town and country, this probably refers in most cases to the privilege of tending sheep and of fetching water at the well. “From all education in general,” says Ploss, “as well as from social intercourse with men, woman was excluded; her destination being simply to increase the number of children, and take care of household matters. She lived a quiet life, merely for her husband, who, indeed, treated her with respect and consideration, but without feeling any special tenderness toward her.”

It is the line which I have italicised in the above quotation that suggests the principal reason of the non-existence of Love in Biblical times: There were no meetings of the young, no opportunities for Courtship, the indispensable condition of Love, which requires time and opportunity for its growth. And not only were there no regular opportunities for Courtship, but if they offered themselves casually, the young folks could not derive much benefit, from them; for not only the daughter’s choice, but even the son’s was neutralised by the parental command. “Fathers from the beginning considered it both their duty and prerogative to find or select wives for their sons (Gen. xxiv. 3; xxxviii. 6). In the absence of the father, the selection devolved upon the mother (Gen. xxi. 21). Even in cases where the wishes of the son were consulted, the proposals were made by the father (Gen. xxxiv. 4, 8); and the violation of this parental prerogative on the part of the son was ‘a grief of mind’ to the father (Gen. xxvi. 35). The proposals were generally made by the parents of the young man, except when there was a difference of rank, in which case the negotiations proceeded from the father of the maiden (Exod. ii. 21), and when accepted by the parents on both sides, sometimes also consulting the opinion of the adult brothers of the maiden (Gen. xxiv. 51; xxxiv. 11), the matter was considered as settled, without requiring the consent of the bride” (M‘Clintock and Strong).

But how about the Song of Solomon—the Song of Songs? Is not that a song of Love, and an exception to our general statement? It appears so at first sight; and the German writer Herder, in his detailed and glowing analysis of it, declares that it depicts love “from its first origin, from its tenderest bud, through all stages and conditions of its growth, its flowering, its maturing, 71to the ripe fruit and new offshoot.” Herder, however, is a very unsafe and shallow guide in this matter. An attempt has lately been made to rehabilitate him in Germany, where his fame has become almost extinct; but in vain, for his pompous, stilted rhetoric and imagery cannot conceal from modern readers his lack of ideas and limited knowledge of facts. He asserts that, as there is only one Goodness, one Truth, so there is but one Love (or Affection). If you do not love your wife, he says, you will not love your friend, parents, or child. A writer whose notions of the psychology of love are so excessively crude cannot be considered a trustworthy judge in the matter in question. So far as love is referred to in the Song of Solomon, it is probable that conjugal affection is meant.

It is a curious fact that of the famous German, English, and French theologians who have written commentaries on the Song of Songs, no two seem to agree in their interpretation of its plot and significance. It is now generally agreed, too, that the Song was not written by Solomon, but some time after him. It seems, indeed, incredible that a monarch who had a thousand wives, and whose affections must have been torn into a thousand shreds, and cannot have been very lasting, should have written these marvellous lines: “For love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave: the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame. Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it: if a man should give all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be contemned.”

This passage has a remarkably modern and romantic sound—so modern and romantic that it would not seem out of place in Shakspere. But it needs no knowledge of Hebrew to see that the responsibility for this modern sound rests with the English translators. Luther’s more literal version appears much less modern. Indeed, throughout the Song of Solomon the English translators have idealised the language of passion, in harmony with modern notions on the subject; so that it is only on reading Luther’s version that one begins to understand why the Talmudists did not allow the Jews to read this book before their thirtieth year.

Perhaps the most ingenious and consistent of the numerous interpretations of the Song of Solomon is that given by M. Chas. Bruston in the Encyclopædie des Sciences Religieuses (ii. 610-612). The repetition of the flatteries occurring in the poem he explains by showing that the second time they refer, not to the Sulamite, but to a princess of Lebanon whom Solomon married. Hence, he insists, the repetition is not so much a literary blemish 72as an indication “combien est vil et méprisable l’amour sensuel et polygame, qui prodigue indifférement les mêmes flatteries a des femmes différentes.”

The imaginative and poetic terms in which feminine charms are depicted in the Song of Songs show that, nevertheless, at least the sensuous phase of the overtone of Personal Admiration was strongly developed among the ancient Hebrews; not strongly enough, however, to lead them, as it led other ancient nations, to embody their ideals of feminine and masculine beauty in marble monuments of sculpture.


As it is among the Aryan or “Indo-Germanic” races of Europe and America that Modern Love has produced its most beautiful blossoms, it is, even more than in the case of the non-Aryan Jews and Egyptians, of interest to know something concerning its prevalence among the Asiatic peoples who appear as the nearest modern representatives of our remote Aryan ancestors.

In no country, perhaps, has the position of woman differed so greatly at various epochs as in India. Previous to the introduction of Brahminism, women were held in esteem, enjoyed diverse privileges, and were allowed free social intercourse with the men, while monogamy was the recognised form of marriage. The Brahmins, however, introduced polygamy, setting a good example by sometimes marrying a whole family, “old and young, daughters, aunts, sisters, and cousins”; and one case is known of a Brahmin who had 120 wives, according to Schweiger Lerchenfeld. Family feeling was subordinated to considerations of caste, and by a sophistical interpretation of ancient laws the Brahmins introduced the custom of Suttee, or the burning alive of widows on the deceased husband’s funeral pyre. This habit is sometimes regarded as the very apotheosis of conjugal affection, but it was simply what is known in modern psychology as an epidemic delusion; the poor women being rendered willing to sacrifice themselves by the doctrine that to die in this way was something specially voluptuous and meritorious; while those who refused to be immolated were treated as social outcasts who were not allowed to marry again or to adorn their persons in any way.

The references to women in the laws of Manu show in what low esteem they came to be held in India. A few of the maxims contained in this work may be cited: “Of dishonour woman is 73the cause; of enmity woman is the cause; of mundane existence woman is the cause; hence woman is to be avoided.” “A girl, a maiden, a wife shall never do anything in accordance with her own will, not even in her own house.” “A woman shall serve her husband all life long, and remain true to him even after death; even though he should deceive her, love another, and be devoid of good qualities, a good wife should nevertheless revere him as if he were a god; she must not displease him in anything, neither in life nor after his death.” So wretched, indeed, became woman’s lot that Indian mothers, it is said, “often drown their female children in the sacred streams of India, to preserve them from the fate awaiting them in life.” Letourneau states that “up to modern times Hindoo laws and manners have been modelled after the sacred precepts. When Somerat made his voyage, it was considered improper for a respectable woman to know how to read or dance. These futile accomplishments were left to the courtesan, the Bayadere.”


That such a state of affairs was not favourable to Romantic Love is obvious. Nevertheless there appears to have been a period—about 1200 or 1500 years ago—when some of the inhabitants of India were familiar with most of the emotions which enter into Modern Love. This evidence is contained in the Seven Hundred Maxims of Hâla, a collection of poetic utterances dating back not further than the third century of our era, and comprising productions by various authors, including as many as sixteen of the female persuasion. They are written in a sister-language of Sanscrit, the Prâkrit; and their form indicates that they were intended to be sung. Herr Albrecht Weber remarks in the Deutsche Rundschau with reference to this collection: “At the very beginning of our acquaintance with Sanscrit literature, towards the end of the last century, it was noticed, and was claimed forthwith as an eloquent proof of antique relationship, that Indian poetry, especially of the amatory kind, is in character remarkably allied to our own modern poetry. The sentimental qualities of modern verse, in one word, were traced in Indian poetry in a much higher degree than they had been found in Greek and Roman literature; and this discovery awakened at once, notably in Germany, a sympathetic interest in a country whose poets spoke a language so well known to our hearts, as though they had been born among ourselves.”

74Some of these maxims apparently depict the family life of the lower classes; others appear rather as if they had been intended to be sung by the Bayaderes, or singing and dancing girls of the Buddhist temples, who emancipated themselves from the domestic and educational restrictions placed on other women, and sought to fascinate men with their wit, love, and æsthetic accomplishments. This suggestion is borne out by the fact that most of the maxims are feminine utterances, and often of questionable moral character. Although, therefore, some of these revelations of early Aryan Love have an unpleasant by-flavour, they are yet extremely interesting as showing how dependent Romantic Love is on the freedom and the intellectual and æsthetic culture of woman.

We find in the maxims of Halâ evidences of that important overtone of Love, Ecstatic Adoration or Poetic Hyperbole, which we have not encountered elsewhere, so far. What could be more modern than this:—

“Although all my possessions were burnt in the village fire, yet is my heart delighted, since he took the buckets from me when they were passed from hand to hand.”

Or this:—

“O thou who art skilled in cookery, restrain thy anger! The reason why the fire refuses to burn, and only smokes, is that it may the longer drink in the breath of your mouth, fragrant as the red potato-blossoms.”

The following two show how Personal Beauty was appreciated:—

“He sees nothing but her face, and she too is quite intoxicated by his looks. Both, satisfied with each other, act as if in the whole world there were no other women or men.”

“Other beauties likewise have in their faces beautiful, wide black eyes, with long lashes,—but no one else understands as she does how to use them.”

How Love establishes his Monopoly in heart and mind, tolerating no other thought, is thus shown:—

“She stares without a (visible) object, draws a deep sigh, laughs into empty space, mutters unintelligible words—forsooth, there must be something on her heart.”

Ovid himself might have written the following, showing Love’s inconstancy:—

“Love departs when lovers are separated; it departs when they see too much of each other; it departs in consequence of malicious gossip; aye, it departs also without these causes.”

The nature of Coyness is evidently understood, for the lover is thus admonished:—

75“My son, such is the nature of love, suddenly to get angry, to make up again in a moment, to dissemble its language, to tease immoderately.”

And yet the poet deems it necessary to tell a sweetheart that—

“By forgiving him at first sight, you foolish girl, you deprived yourself of many pleasures,—of his prostration at your feet [a trace of Gallantry], of a kiss passionately stolen.”

The sadness of separation thus finds utterance:—

“As is sickness without a physician; as living with relatives when one is poor,—as the sight of an enemy’s prosperity,—so is it difficult to endure separation from you.”

Thus we find in Ancient Aryan Love some of the leading features of modern romantic passion.


The Greeks, too, were Aryans, and they were the most refined and æsthetic nation of antiquity; yet we look in vain in their literature for delineations of that Romantic Love which, according to our notions, ought to accompany so high a degree of culture.


Conjugal tenderness and the other family affections appear; indeed, to have been known and cherished by the Greeks at all times, in the days of Athenian supremacy, when women were kept in entire seclusion, no less than in Homeric times, when they seem to have enjoyed more liberty of action. Plutarch tells us in his Conjugal Precepts that “With women tenderness of heart is indicated by a pleasing countenance, by sweetness of speech, by an affectionate grace, and by a high degree of sensitiveness;” and Mr. Lecky thus eloquently sums up the evidence that the Greeks appreciated the various forms of domestic affection:—

“The types of female excellence which are contained in the Greek poems, while they are among the earliest, are also among the most perfect in the literature of mankind. The conjugal tenderness of Hector and Andromache; the unwearied fidelity of Penelope, awaiting through the long revolving years the return of her storm-tossed husband, who looked forward to her as the crown of all his labours; the heroic love of Alcestis, voluntarily dying that her husband might live; the filial piety of Antigone; the 76majestic grandeur of the death of Polyxena; the more subdued and saintly resignation of Iphigenia, excusing with her last breath the father who had condemned her; the joyous, modest, and loving Nausicaa, whose figure shines like a perfect idyll among the tragedies of the Odyssey—all these are pictures of perennial beauty, which Rome and Christendom, chivalry and modern civilisation, have neither eclipsed nor transcended. Virgin modesty and conjugal fidelity, the graces as well as the virtues of the most perfect womanhood, have never been more exquisitely portrayed.”


But Mr. Lecky, ignoring, like most writers, the enormous difference between conjugal and romantic love, forgets to notice the absolute silence of Greek literature on the subject of pre-matrimonial infatuation. Not one of the Greek tragedies is a “love-drama”; romantic love does not appear even in the writings of Euripides, who has so much to say about women, and who named most of his plays after his heroines. Had Love been known to Sophokles and Euripides, as it was known to Shakspere and Goethe, we should no doubt have a Greek Romeo and Juliet and a Greek Faust. For although there were certain limitations as to the scope and the dramatis personæ of a Greek play, there was nothing whatever to exclude a love-story. And when we consider how the sentiment of Love colours all modern literature; how almost impossible it is for a play or a novel to succeed unless it embodies a love-story: the absolute ignoring of this passion in Greek literature forces on us the inevitable conclusion that Romantic Love was unknown to them, or only so faintly developed as to excite no interest whatever.

And this conclusion harmonises with the dictum of the best Greek scholars. It is true that Becker, in his Charikles, referring to the frequency with which the comedians introduce a youth desperately enamoured of a girl, faintly objects to the statement that “There is no instance of an Athenian falling in love with a free-born woman, and marrying her from violent passion,”—made by Müller in his famous work on the Dorians. But he makes the fatal admission that “Sensuality was the soil from which such passion sprang, and none other than a sensual love was acknowledged between man and wife.” No one, of course, would deny that sensual passion prevailed in Athens; but sensuality is the very antipode of Romantic Love.



How are we to account for this anomaly—the absence of sexual romance in a nation which was so passionately enamoured of Beauty in its various forms?

The answer is to be found in the non-existence of opportunities for courtship, and the degraded position of woman. The following sentences, culled at random from Becker’s classical work, show how the Greek men regarded their women, whom they considered inferior to themselves in heart as well as in intellect. Iphigenia herself is made to admit by Euripides that one man is worth more than a myriad of women:—

εἶς γ’ ανὴρ κρείσσων γυναικῶν μυρίων.

“The ἀρετή (virtue) of which a woman was thought capable in that age differed but little from that of a faithful slave.” “Except in her own immediate circle, a woman’s existence was scarcely recognised.” “It was quite a Grecian view of the case to consider a wife as a necessary evil.” "Athenians, in speaking of their wives and children, generally said τέκνα καὶ γυναῖκας, putting their wives last: a phrase which indicates very clearly what was the tone of feeling on this subject" (Smith).

Women “were not allowed to conclude any bargain or transaction of consequence on their own account,” though Plato urged that this concession should be made to them; and it was even “enacted that everything a man did by the counsel or request of a woman should be null.” “There were no educational institutions for girls, nor any private teachers at home.” “Hence there were no scientifically-learned ladies, with the exception of the Hetæræ.”


In such an arid, rocky soil Love of course could not grow or even germinate. Still more fatal to the romantic passion, however, was the absolute seclusion of the sexes, precluding all possibility of courtship and free choice among the young. Greek women were not allowed to enjoy the society of men, nor to attend “those public spectacles which were the chief means of Athenian culture,” and which would have afforded the young folks an opportunity of seeing and falling in love with one another. The wife was not even permitted to eat with her husband if male visitors were present, but had to retire to her private apartments, so absurd 78was the jealousy of the men. “The maidens lived in the greatest seclusion till their marriage, and, so to speak, regularly under lock and key,” which had the “effect of rendering the girls excessively bashful, and even prudish,” and so stupid, in all probability, that no wonder the men considered marriage a punishment, and sought entertainment with the educated Hetæræ—as to-day in France. Even young married women were obliged to have a chaperon. “No respectable lady thought of going out without a female slave.” “Even the married woman shrank back and blushed if she chanced to be seen at the window by a man.”


It is one of the most remarkable facts in the history of Love and of social philosophy that Plato, the most modern of all ancient thinkers, foresaw the importance of pre-matrimonial acquaintance as the basis of a rational and happy marriage choice long before any other writer. Making allowance for the fact that Greek notions as to what is within “the rules of modesty” differed from our own, the following passage cannot be too deeply pondered: “People,” Plato tells us in the sixth book of the Laws (p. 771), “must be acquainted with those into whose families and to whom they marry and are given in marriage; in such matters as far as possible to avoid mistakes is all-important, and with this serious purpose let games be instituted, in which youths and maidens shall dance together, seeing and being seen naked, at a proper age and on a suitable occasion, not transgressing the rules of modesty.”


Marriages in Greece were often arranged for girls while they were mere children, of course without any reference to their choice, since they were looked upon as the property of the father, who could dispose of them at his pleasure. Besides these early betrothals there was an obstacle to free choice in the Athenian law which forbade a citizen under very severe penalties to marry a foreigner. And again, “In the case of a father dying intestate, and without male children, his heiress had no choice in marriage; she was compelled by law to marry her nearest kinsman, not in the ascending line.... Where there were several co-heiresses, they were respectively married to their kinsmen, the nearest having the first choice”—a law resembling one in the Jewish code, and exemplified by Ruth, as pointed out in Smith’s Dictionary.

79How Sexual Selection was rendered impracticable in Greece is further shown in the following citations from Becker: “The choice of the bride seldom depended on previous, or at least on intimate acquaintance. More attention was generally paid to the position of a damsel’s family, and the amount of her dowry, than to her personal qualities.” "It was usual for a father to choose for his son a wife, and one perhaps whom the bridegroom had never seen." “Widows frequently married again; this was often in compliance with the testamentary dispositions of their husbands, as little regard being paid to their wishes as in the case of girls.”

Thus we see that three causes combined to prevent the growth of Romantic Love in Greece—the degraded position of women, the absence of direct Courtship, and the impossibility of exercising Individual Preference.


That the absolute seclusion and chaperonage of the young women, and their consequent ignorance and insipidity, were the reasons why they could neither feel nor inspire Romantic Love, is shown by the fact that there existed in Greece in the time of Perikles a mentally superior class of women who appear to have aroused Love, or something very like it, by means of the artistic and intellectual charms which they united with their physical beauty. These women were called Ἡταίραι, or companions, evidently to distinguish them from the domestic women who were no “companions” after the first charm of novelty had worn away: a state of affairs for which of course the men themselves, who gave them no education and locked them up, were to blame.

What seems paradoxical is that these women, who were morally inferior to the others, should have been the first to inspire in men a more refined sort of Love; but the paradox is rendered the more probable by the circumstance that in India, likewise, we found the first traces of Romantic Love among the Bayaderes, a class corresponding to the Hetæræ.

There is reason to believe that Aspasia, who aided the greatest statesman of antiquity in writing his stirring speeches, inspired not only him but other great contemporaries with true Romantic passion—which they were enabled to feel because men of genius are not only intellectually but also emotionally ahead of their time.

Diotima was another of these women. She was also revered as a prophetess, and is credited by Plato with having given Sokrates, and through him Greece, the first adequate discourse on 80Love—a discourse, we may add, in which some flashes of true modern insight are mingled with the curiously confused notions of the Greeks on the subject of Love and Friendship. What these notions were is best seen by briefly considering the peculiarities of


On this subject the most incorrect and absurd notions universally pervade modern literature and conversation. As commonly understood, “Platonic Love” means a friendship between a man and a woman from which all traces of passion are excluded. Such a notion is utterly foreign to Plato’s way of thinking, and is nowhere referred to in his writings. Platonic love has nothing to do with women whatever. It is an attachment between a man and a youth, which may be defined as friendship united with the ecstatic ardour which in modern life is associated only with Romantic Love.

Mr. George Grote thus describes what he calls the “truly Platonic conception of love”. It is “a vehement impulse towards mental communion with some favoured youth, in view of producing mental improvement, good, and happiness to both persons concerned: the same impulse afterwards expanding, so as to grasp the good and beautiful in a larger sense, and ultimately to fasten on goodness and beauty in the pure Ideal.”

Once more, Platonic love might be defined as creative friendship, which has for its object the conception of great ideas,—of works of art, literature, philosophy. Such a friendship, Plato tells us, should be formed between a man and a youth, not too young, but when his beard begins to grow and his intellect to develop; and such a friendship is apt to last throughout life.

Perhaps the most striking instance in Greek literature of Platonic love is that given in Plato’s Symposium as existing between the pure-minded Sokrates, who kept aloof from all Greek vices, and the beautiful young Alkibiades. This youth thus describes the effect which the discourse of Sokrates has on him: “When I hear him, my heart leaps in my breast, more than it does among the Korybantes, and tears roll down my cheeks at his words, and I notice that many others have the same experience. When I heard Perikles and other excellent orators, I came to the conclusion that they spoke well; but this experience was different from the other, and my soul did not lose its control or gnash its teeth like a prostrate slave, but by this Marsyas (= Sokrates) I was put into such a mood that the condition in which I found myself did not seem praiseworthy.”

81He further describes Sokrates as being always “in love with beautiful youths, and talking with them, and being quite beside himself”; hence when he (Alkibiades) appears at the Symposium, and finds Sokrates sitting next to the most beautiful man in the company, he chides him in words which have exactly the sound of Jealousy inspired by Romantic Love: “And why did you recline here and not next to Aristophanes, or some other wit, or would-be wit, but, instead, crowded forward in order to be next to the handsomest?”

To which Sokrates replies: “Agathon, come to my assistance; for my love for this person has cost me dearly. Ever since I have loved him, I have not been allowed to look at anybody, or to talk with any one who is beautiful, or else this youth, in his jealousy and envy, does unheard-of-things, and chides me, and hardly refrains from violence. Be on your guard, therefore, that he may not resort to violence now, and reconcile us, or if he dares to become unruly, assist me; for I very much fear his madness and infatuation.”

Although this was probably said in the playful tone common to Sokrates, it yet is noticeable how closely the language used resembles the language of modern Romantic Love.


To this form of Platonic or mono-sexual love there existed a female counterpart, as shown in some of the lyric effusions of Greek poets. Some of these poets, it is true, especially Anakreon, knew naught of the imaginative side of Love—of its protracted tortures and intermittent joys. Like a butterfly that kisses every flower on its way, he “cared only for the enjoyment of the passing moment.” But Sappho apparently wrote of Love in terms worthy of Heine or Byron, as shown even in this crude translation of one of her poems:—

“While gazing on thy charms I hung,
My voice died faltering on my tongue,
With subtle flames my bosom glows,
Quick through each vein the poison flows;
Dark dimming mists my eyes surround,
My ears with hollow murmurs sound.
My limbs with dewy chillness freeze,
On my whole frame pale tremblings seize,
And losing colour, sense, and breath,
I seem quite languishing in death.”

Longinus calls this the most perfect expression in all ancient 82literature of the effects of Love. It happens, however, to have nothing to do with Love. For, as Plato’s “love” is merely ecstatic friendship between man and youth, so Sappho’s love is friendship between two women. This is the opinion of Bode and Müller, and it is entirely borne out by the language of the original text.

It has been suggested that Sappho, being a woman, and a Greek woman, could not have addressed such glowing words to a man without violating the current notions of decorum; and hence wrote as if she were a man addressing a woman. But Sappho was one of the Æolian women who had greater liberty than the Athenians; and she was, moreover, a blue-stocking who would not have stuck at such a trifle as shocking Greek notions regarding woman’s privileges. And in some of her poems she does mention a youth “to whom she gave her whole heart, while he requited her passion with cold indifference” (Müller).

One of the Platonists, Maximus Tyrius (dis. 24, p. 297), takes the same view regarding Sappho. “The love of the Lesbian poet,” he says, “what can it be, if we may compare remote with more recent things than the Sokratic art of love? For both appear to promote the same Friendship, she among women, he among men. They both confess they love many, and are captivated by all beauties. For what Alkibiades and Charmides are to Sokrates, Gyrinna and Atthis and Anaktoria are to Sappho.” “Even Sokrates confesses that it was from Sappho that he partly derived his noble views of the enthusiastic love of mental beauty” (Phædon, c. 225).

To one of the girls just referred to, Sappho addresses these words: “Again does the strength-dissolving Eros, that bittersweet, resistless monster, agitate me; but to thee, O Atthis, the thought of me is importunate; thou fliest to Andromeda.” “It is obvious,” says Müller, “that this attachment bears less the character of maternal interest than of passionate love; as amongst Dorians in Sparta and Crete analogous connections between men and youths, in which the latter were trained to noble and manly deeds, were carried on in a language of high-wrought and passionate feeling, which had all the character of an attachment between persons of different sexes. This mixture of feelings, which among nations of a calmer temperament have always been perfectly distinct, is an essential feature of the Greek character.”

Greek Love, i.e. Friendship, being thus tinged and strengthened, as we see in the cases of Sokrates and Alkibiades, Sappho and Atthis, by jealousy, ecstatic adoration, exclusiveness, admiration 83of personal beauty, and other qualities which modern civilisation has transferred to Romantic Love, we are enabled to understand why Friendship was so much more potent and prevalent in antiquity than it is now, when, having lost these traits through the differentiation of emotions, it seems “insipid to those who have tasted Love.”

The lesson to be learned from this whole discussion on Greek Friendship is of extreme importance to the psychology of Love. It is this: The Greeks were too intellectual and refined not to have at least a vague presentiment of the higher possibilities and charms of imaginative Love. But Greek women—with the rare exceptions referred to—were too stupid to enable the men to realise their vague ideal. Hence they sought it in ardent attachments to youths, who were quick-minded and able to sympathise with their intellectual aspirations. And thus Greek Love became identical with male friendship—the female friendship referred to being a sort of compensating echo.

Greek Love is symbolised in the mythic youth Narcissus, who scorns all the beautiful nymphs that are eager for his caresses, and falls in love with his own image reflected in the water.


It even seems as if, apart from Love, the Greeks admired youthful masculine beauty more than feminine charms; and many of them would probably have agreed with Schopenhauer that men are more beautiful than women. Certain it is that, as the most eminent critic of Greek art, Winckelmann, points out “the supreme beauty of Greek art is male rather than female.”

The following citation from Grote’s famous work on Plato suggests some reasons for this fact, besides reflecting further light on points discussed in the preceding pages:—

“In the Hellenic point of view, upon which Plato builds, the attachment of man to woman was regarded as a natural impulse and as a domestic, social sentiment; yet as belonging to a commonplace rather than to an exalted mind, and seldom or never rising to that pitch of enthusiasm which overpowers all other emotions, absorbs the whole man, and aims either at the joint performance of great exploits, or the joint prosecution of intellectual improvement by continued colloquy. We must remember that the wives and daughters of citizens were seldom seen abroad; that she had learned nothing except spinning and weaving; that the fact of her having seen so little and heard as little as possible, was considered 84as rendering her more acceptable to her husband; that her sphere of duty and exertion was confined to the interior of the family. The beauty of women yielded satisfaction to the senses, but little beyond. It was the masculine beauty of youth that fired the Hellenic imagination with glowing and impassioned sentiment. The finest youths, and those, too, of the best families and education, were seen habitually uncovered in the Palæstra and at the public festival-matches; engaged in active contention and graceful exercise, under the direction of professional trainers. The sight of the living form in such perfection, movement, and variety, awakened a powerful emotional sympathy, blended with æsthetic sentiment, which in the more susceptible natures was exalted into intense and passionate devotion. The terms in which this feeling is described, both by Plato and Xenophon, are among the strongest which the language affords—and are predicated even of Sokrates himself. Far from being ashamed of this feeling, they consider it admirable and beneficial, though very liable to abuse, which they emphatically denounce and forbid. In their view it was an idealising passion, which tended to raise a man above the vulgar and selfish pursuits of life, and even above the fear of death. The devoted attachments which it inspired were dreaded by the despots, who forbade the assemblage of youths for exercise in the Palæstra.”

Another reason for the Greek preference of masculine beauty is suggested by Mr. Lecky, who attributes it to the fact that the principal art of the Greeks, sculpture, is “especially suited to represent male beauty, or the beauty of strength”; whereas “female beauty, or the beauty of softness,” became the principal object of the painters, after Christianity had won attention for the feminine virtues of gentleness and delicacy. (For further remarks on Greek Beauty, see the chapters on “Four Sources of Beauty,” and “The Nose.”)


Possibly some of my readers have not yet quieted all their doubts regarding the existence of real Love among the Greeks; for did they not have special deities of love—Aphrodite and Eros, Venus and Cupid? Quite so; but those familiar with Greek history know that the cult of Venus had but a remote connection with imaginative or Romantic Love, which alone is here under consideration. Yet our modern poets owe a vast debt of gratitude to the ancient bards for these mythic deities, whom they have simply taken and idealised, like Love itself. There is, especially, the mischievous Dan Cupid, who, in his modern metamorphosis, is still 85“the anointed sovereign of sighs and groans.” This little fellow seems to have been taken very seriously indeed by the earliest Greeks. He has one attribute—wings—which we readily understand, as Love is inconstant ever; but another of his attributes would excite the greatest surprise in our minds were we not so accustomed to it as to accept it as a matter of course, namely, his arrows. It would seem more in accordance with modern notions that he should produce his magic effects by means of Love-potions or other Love-charms, rather than with such a warlike weapon as an arrow.

A German feuilletonist, Dr. Michael Haberlandt, has lately advanced an ingenious theory to account for this weapon. The ancient Greeks had the peculiar belief that all diseases were caused by the invisible poisoned arrows of evil or angry deities; as in the well-known case of the offended Apollo sending his pest-laden arrows among the Hellenes. Now love, in the irresistible and maddening, though primitive form known to the early Greeks, was doubtless looked on as a real, mysterious affliction, and not merely as love sickness in the figurative modern sense: what more natural therefore than to attribute it to the arrows of a mischievous deity?

In course of time poetic fancy added to the image of Cupid other attributes that naturally suggested themselves: the wings to symbolise fickleness; a bandage to indicate blindness; while the arrows were represented as dipped in poison, gall, or honey. The curious fact may be added that the ancient East Indians, whose deities numbered 330,000,000 (in round numbers), likewise had a god of love armed with bow and arrows: a conception which they seem to have originated independently of the Greeks.


Plato’s Symposium contains two curious theories of the cause and origin of love, which, in conclusion, may be briefly summarised, as they help to characterise Greek notions on this subject. The first is placed in the mouth of Sokrates, who says he heard it of the Hetaira Diotima. What, she asks, is the cause of this love-sickness, this anxiety of men and animals, first to get a mate, and then to take care of the offspring? It is, she replies, the desire to perpetuate themselves. For just as the famous heroes and heroines—Alkestis, Achilles, Kadros—would not have so nobly sacrificed their lives had they not been sustained by the thought that their fame and glory would survive among future generations; so the fact that parents in the affection for their young will even 86go so far as to sacrifice their own lives to protect them, is due to their craving for immortality in their offspring.

This theory may be regarded as a vague foreshadowing of Schopenhauer’s, which will be considered in another place.

The second theory of the origin of love is attributed by Plato to Aristophanes, who relates it in the form of a myth. Human nature, he begins, was not always as it is now. At the beginning there were three sexes: one, the male, descended of the sun-god; the second, female, descended of the earth; and the third, which united the attributes of both sexes, descended of the moon. Each of these beings, moreover, had two pairs of hands and legs, and two faces, and the figure was round, and in rapid motion revolved like a wheel, the pairs of legs alternately touching the ground and describing an arc in the air.

These beings were fierce, powerful, and vain, so they attempted to storm heaven and attack the gods. As Zeus did not wish to destroy them—since that would have deprived him of sacrifices and other forms of human devotion—he resolved to punish them by diminishing their strength. So he directed Apollo to cut each of them into two, which was done; and thus the number of human beings was doubled. Each of these half-beings now continually wandered about, seeking its other half. And when they found each other, their only desire was to be reunited by Vulcan and never be parted again. “And this longing and striving after union—this is what is meant by the name of Love.”

The waggish Aristophanes appends a caution to human beings not to offend Zeus again, because it was that god’s intention, on a repetition of the offence, to split human beings once more, so that they would have to hop about on one leg!

One of the metaphors used by the comic poet is very pretty, even if translated into terms of Modern Love. He compares the two divided halves of one human being to the dice which among the ancients were used as marks of hospitality, being broken into two pieces, of which each person received one, and which were afterwards fitted together in token of recognition. A pair of lovers, then, are like these halved dice, naturally belonging to each other, and craving to be reunited.



Among the Romans the domestic position of women was on the whole much more favourable to the growth of feminine culture 87than in Greece. They were not jealously guarded in special apartments, but were allowed to retain their seat at the table and join in the conversation when guests arrived, as Cornelius Nepos points out with a pardonable sense of superiority. Becker, in his Gallus, thus states the difference between Greek and Roman treatment of women: “Whilst we see that in most of the Grecian states, and especially in Athens, the women (i.e. the whole female sex) were little esteemed and treated as children all their lives, confined to the gynaikoreitis, shut out from social life and all intercourse with men and their amusements, we find that in Rome exactly the reverse was the case. Although the wife is naturally subordinate to the husband, yet she is always treated with open attention and regard. The Roman housewife always appears as the mistress of the whole household economy, instructress of the children, and guardian of the honour of the house, equally esteemed with the paterfamilias both in and out of the house.”

“Walking abroad was only limited by scruple and custom, not by a law or the jealous will of the husband. The women frequented public theatres as well as the men, and took their places with them at festive banquets.” "Even the vestals participated in the banquets of the men." Although “learned women were dreaded,” a knowledge of Greek and the fine arts was in later times counted an essential part of feminine culture. “Certain advantages accrued to those who had many children, jus trium liberorum.” Masculine “voluntary celibacy was considered, in very early times, as censurable and even guilty;” and from Festus “we learn that there was a celibate fine.” The statement apparently credited by Mr. Lecky that for 520 years there was no case of divorce in Rome, has been shown to rest on a misconception of a passage in Gellius. Yet “manners were so severe, that a senator was censured for indecency because he had kissed his wife in the presence of their daughter.” It was also considered “in a high degree disgraceful for a Roman mother to delegate to a nurse the duty of suckling her child.”


Yet amid all these domestic virtues and family affections we search in vain for the prevalence of Romantic Love. We have already seen that for the growth of this sentiment something more is needed than domestic affection, and that something is comprised in the word Wooing. There was no wooing at Rome. In most cases, the father took his daughter’s heart in his hand, and, treating 88it as a piece of personal property, bestowed it on the suitor who best “suited” him. “From the earliest times,” says Ploss, “it was customary in Rome to marry girls when they had barely reached their twelfth or thirteenth year; engagements were probably made at a still earlier age. Although legally the daughter’s consent was required, in actual practice she exercised no choice; her extreme youth in itself preventing this. Often a marriage contract was a mere matter of agreement between two families in which love and personal favour were disregarded; nor did even the betrothal bring the future couple into closer intimacy.” With reference to the laws of the Twelve Tablets, M. Legouvé remarks, in his Histoire Morale des Femmes, that “Rome was worthy of Athens. Not only did a Roman father dispose of his daughter against her inclination, but he even had the right to dissolve a marriage into which she had entered, and to take away from his daughter the husband he had given her, whom she loved, and by whom she had children.” In justice, however, it must be added that this latter right was rarely exercised; but the fact that the Romans could tolerate the very notion of such a law shows what little account was made of love.

Another absurd impediment to personal choice was raised by the Theodosian Code, which compelled a girl to marry a man who had the same calling as her father—a custom which, indeed, seems to prevail in parts of Europe to the present day, and which is as incompatible with Love as the ancient Hebrew rule that the oldest daughter must be married first—a rule which compelled Jacob to marry Leah before he could get his beloved Rachel, for whom he had laboured seven years. “First come first served” is a rule which Cupid rarely heeds in the case of several sisters.

In the case of the men it is possible that Sexual Selection occasionally came into play, when early betrothals did not prevent it; for the old Romans were too rational to anticipate the silly and criminal French custom of bargaining for a bride before they had even seen her. In such a case, if the bride was attractive, the suitor’s imagination, dwelling on the fact that this vision of loveliness was to be his own, exclusively, for ever, may have been warmed for a moment with something very like romantic sentiment. But beauty in Rome, Ovid informs us, was very rare—"How few are able to boast it!"—so that even with the men who had a choice, Individual Preference based on Personal Beauty could have been rarely exercised. And as for the women who had no choice, they may have felt a temporary elation on first meeting their destined husbands; but this feeling was merely the manifestation 89of a vague instinct, comparable to the “love” which a bevy of modern boarding-school “buds” show for the only man they are allowed to see regularly,—their ugly teacher,—and the unreality and silliness of which they laugh at themselves when they are at last allowed to meet the man of their own, individual, free choice, who teaches them the feeling of real Romantic Love.


Nevertheless, compared with Greek literature, the works of the Roman poets show an advance in their conception of Love; for they avoid at least the Hellenic confusion of love with friendship. Compared with the best modern poets, however, who labour with the pure gold of Love alone, the Roman poet’s productions still show much of the base ore from which the modern gold has been extracted. It is interesting, in this connection, to read what Dryden has to say concerning Virgil’s conception of Love, and Scott’s comments on Dryden.

In his dedication of the Æneid, Dryden speaks of Book IV. as "This noble episode, wherein the whole passion of love is more exactly described than in any other poet. Love was the theme of his fourth book; and though it is the shortest of the whole Æneis, yet there he has given its beginning, its progress, its traverses, and its conclusion; and had exhausted so entirely his subject, that he could resume it but very slightly in the eight ensuing books.

“She was warmed with the graceful appearance of the hero; she smothered those sparkles out of decency; but conversation blew them up into a flame. Then she was forced to make a confidante of her whom she might best trust, her own sister, who approves the passion, and thereby augments it: then succeeds her public owning it; and after that the consummation. Of Venus and Juno, Jupiter and Mercury, I say nothing; for they were all machining work; but, possession having cooled his love, as it increased hers, she soon perceived the change, or at least grew suspicious of a change; this suspicion soon turned to jealousy, and jealousy to rage; then she disdains and threatens, and again is humble and entreats, and nothing availing, despairs, curses, and at last becomes her own executioner. See here the whole process of that passion, to which nothing can be added.”

Sir Walter Scott, however, does add, in a foot-note to his edition of Dryden: “I am afraid this passage, given as a just description of love, serves to confirm what is elsewhere stated, that 90Dryden’s ideas of the female sex and of the passion were very gross and malicious.”


Gross and malicious also are the ideas of the female sex and the passion frequently encountered in the poems of Ovid; not so coarse and cynical, indeed, as in Martial and Catullus, but sufficiently so to have confounded the æsthetic judgment of the present generation, and spread the notion that Virgil and Horace are greater poets than Ovid, whereas, from the point of view of originality and imaginativeness, by far the greatest of the three is Ovid, who also had much more influence on the great writers of the best period of English literature than his rivals, as Professor W. Y. Sellar has pointed out.

Both these circumstances are to be regretted—the undervaluation of Ovid’s genius as well as his frequent frivolity on which it is based. For Ovid was unquestionably the first poet who had a conception of the higher possibilities of Love; in fact he was the greatest, and the only great, Love-poet before Dante. His rare genius enabled him to anticipate and depict the modern imaginative side of Love, even while he seemed wholly devoted to the ancient sensual side. And, in reading his poems, great caution is necessary, lest these emotional anticipations of his quasi-modern genius be supposed to have been common and prevalent among less gifted Romans of his time.

Ovid was a profound observer and psychologist, and had a most subtle knowledge of contemporary feminine nature; Although the principal object of his Ars Amoris is to teach men how to out-trump the natural cunning of women, yet he does not forget his feminine readers, but gives them numerous hints regarding the best way of fascinating fickle men. In the Remedia Amoris he describes various remedies for healing Cupid’s wounds, most of which are approved to the present day; and the Elegies and Heroides, too, are full of pretty modern touches and flashes of insight. A few of these points may be briefly alluded to.

Coyness, although often manifested by the Roman women in almost as crude a manner as among savages, does not appear to have been appreciated by all of them at its full value; so the poet frequently counsels them as to the more subtle ways of exercising it; one of his rules for women being, that if they have offended an admirer, the best way to make him forget it is to pretend to be offended themselves, which will restore the equilibrium. How the consciousness of being beautiful makes a woman courageous, 91coy, and cruel is shown in another place. That eyes have a language plainer than speech is not a modern discovery; and that a short absence favours, long absence kills, passion was also known to Ovid. He warns men against the danger of feigning love, because this may end in arousing genuine passion. Men are informed that courage and confidence in one’s ability to win a woman are half the battle. And disappointed lovers are assured that failure sometimes turns into an advantage, for it may arouse pity, and love enter in the guise of friendship.

The emotional hyperbole and mixed feelings of Love are not strangers to Ovid. He compares the tortures of Love to the berries on the trees in number, to the shells on the sea-beach; for true Love, he says, always creates anguish and pain; and “the sweetest torment on earth is woman.” Among the companions of Cupid are “flattery and illusion.” But “even if the beloved deceives me with false words, hope itself will yield me great enjoyment,” could only have been written by one who realised the imaginative side of love. And in another passage the poet directly enjoins the necessity of intellectual culture to take the place of the faded charms of youth.

Hero’s Letter to Leander in the Heroides contains some pretty touches. Leander has informed his love that when the storm prevents him from swimming over to her, his mind yet hastens to meet her. But Hero is in great trouble at his prolonged absence, and her deepest anguish is Jealousy of a possible rival: in the absence of real grounds of apprehension, her imagination invents them, as in a modern lover’s mind. She suspects that his passion has lost the ardour which sustained him in his difficult feat; and, too weak to quite swim over to him and back again, and anxious to save him the double journey, she suggests that they should meet in the middle of the sea, exchange a kiss, and each return to the shore whence they came.

Is there anything more exquisitely romantic or pathetic in all modern Love-poetry—in Shakspere, Heine, Burns, or Byron?


Becker says of the Greeks that “The men were very careful as to their behaviour in the presence of women, but they were quite strangers to those minute attentions which constitute the gallantry of the moderns.” This holds true apparently of all other nations of antiquity; and to a student of the history of Love it is therefore of exceeding interest to find in Ovid’s poetry the first evidences 92of the existence of Gallantry—a disposition on the part of the men to sacrifice their own comfort to the pleasures and whims of women.

Mr. G. A. Simcox was the first writer, so far as I know, who pointed out Ovid’s priority in this matter (in his History of Latin Literature). In Ovid, he says, “The whole description of gallantry implies that the idea was a novelty, and that the lover would require a great deal of encouragement to enable him to make the sacrifice of paying such attentions as could be commanded from a servant. This throws a new light on the habit the Augustan poets have of calling their mistress domina, which is more noteworthy, for they call no man dominus. One does not trace the idea at all in Latin comedy, where the heroines are for the most part only too thankful to be caressed and protected. One finds the word in Lucilius, but even in Catullus it is hardly established.”

Instances of gallant behaviour are not rare in Ovid’s poetry; but the didactic tone in which they are detailed makes it almost appear as if the poet were recommending to his countrymen the value of a nice little discovery of his own which would convert crude love-making into a fine art. Never be so ungallant—he says in effect, though he does not use the word—as to refer to a woman’s faults or shortcomings. Compliment her, on the contrary, on her good points—her face, her hair, her tapering fingers, her pretty foot. At the circus applaud whatever she applauds. Adjust her cushion, put the footstool where it ought to be, and keep her comfortable by fanning her. And at dinner, when she has tasted the wine, quickly seize the cup and put your lips to the place where she has sipped.

Unfortunately this morning dawn of Romantic Love, as depicted in the pages of Ovid, was soon hidden beneath the dark clouds of mediæval barbarism, not to emerge again till a thousand years later.



Were I asked to name the four most refining influences in modern civilisation I would answer: Women, Beauty, Love, and Marriage. Were I asked to name the essence of the early mediæval spirit I would say: Deadly Enmity toward Women, Beauty, Love, and Marriage.

This pathologic attitude of the mediæval mind was at first a natural reaction against the incredible depravity and licentiousness that prevailed under the Roman Empire. But the reaction went 93to such preposterous extremes that the resulting state of affairs was even more degrading and deplorable than the original evil. It was like inoculating a man with leprosy to cure him of smallpox. It was bad enough to treat marriage as a farce, as did the later Romans, among whom there were women who had their eighth and tenth husband, while one case is related of a woman “who was married to her twenty-third husband, she herself being his twenty-first wife”; while the public looked upon this case as a “match” in a double sense, the survivor being publicly crowned and feted as champion. But a thousand times worse was the mediæval notion that marriage is a crime. And this preposterous notion—that a relation on which all civilisation is based, which is sanctioned even by many animals and ignored by only the very lowest of the savages—this criminal notion was foisted on the world by the fanatical priesthood in whose hands unfortunately Christianity was placed for centuries, to be distorted, vitiated, and utilised for political, criminal, and selfish purposes.

“The services rendered,” says Mr. Lecky, “by the ascetics in imprinting on the minds of men a profound and enduring conviction of the importance of chastity, though extremely great, were seriously counterbalanced by their noxious influence upon marriage. Two or three beautiful descriptions of this institution have been culled out of the immense mass of patristic writings; but in general it would be difficult to conceive anything more coarse and more repulsive than the manner in which they regarded it.... The tender love which it elicits, the holy and beautiful domestic qualities that follow in its train, were almost absolutely omitted from consideration. The object of the ascetic was to attract men to a life of virginity, and, as a necessary consequence, marriage was treated as an inferior state.”

“The days of Chivalry were not yet,” we read in Smith’s Dictionary of Christian Antiquities, “and we cannot but notice even in the greatest of the Christian fathers a lamentably low estimate of woman, and, consequently, of the marriage relationship.”

What an inexhaustible source of mediæval immorality this contemptuous treatment of marriage by the most influential class of society proved, has been so often depicted in glaring colours that these pages need not be tainted with illustrations.


Woman was represented by the Fathers “as the door of hell, as the mother of all human ills. She should be ashamed at the 94very thought that she is a woman; she should live in continual penance on account of the curses she has brought upon the world. Women were even forbidden by a provincial council in the sixth century, on account of their impurity, to receive the Eucharist into their naked hands. Their essentially subordinate position was continually maintained” (Lecky).

Not even the Koran took such a degrading view of woman as these early “Christian Fathers.” For the current notion that the existence of a soul in woman is denied by the Mahometan faith is contradicted by several passages in the Koran.

The lowest depths of feminine degradation and the sublimest heights of fanatical folly and crime, however, were not reached in this early period, but some centuries later, when the incredible brutalities of the witchcraft trials began. The vast majority of the victims were women; and Professor Scherr, in his Geschichte der Deutschen Frauenwelt, estimates that in Germany alone at least one hundred thousand “witches” were burnt at the stake. No one on reading the accounts of these trials can help feeling that Shakspere made a mistake when he wrote that

“All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players.”

He should have said,

“All the world’s a madhouse,
And all the men are fools and demons.”

More demons than fools, however. Superstition was, indeed, epidemic during the Middle Ages; but those who superintended the witches’ trials—the rulers and the clergy—were not the persons affected by it. If they did execute 100,000 victims in Germany; if they did murder girls of twelve, ten, eight, and even seven years, on the accusation of having borne children whose father was Satan, or of having murdered persons who in some cases were actually present at the trial—the reason of this was not because the authorities believed this cruel nonsense. The real reason is given by Scherr: “The circumstance that the property of those who were burnt at the stake was confiscated, two-thirds of it getting into the hands of the landowner (Grundherr), the other third into those of the judges, clergy, accusers, and executioners, has beyond doubt kindled countless witch-fires.... During the Thirty Years’ War, especially, the trials for witchcraft became a greedily-utilised source of profit to many a country nobleman in reduced circumstances, and no less to bishops, abbots, and councillors, who were in financial straits. Indeed, as early as the 95sixteenth century, one of the opponents of witches’ trials, Cornelius Loos, justly observed that the whole proceeding was simply ‘a newly-invented alchemy for converting human blood into gold.’”

What difference is there between these civilised savages and the Australian who eats his wife when he gets tired of her? Let those who are fond of seeking needles in haystacks search for traces of Romantic Love under such circumstances.


Feudal legislation combined with clerical contempt and criminal persecution in lowering woman’s position. There were numerous and stringent enactments which “rendered it impossible for women to succeed to any considerable amount of property, and which almost reduced them to the alternative of marriage or a nunnery. The complete inferiority of the sex was continually maintained by the law; and that generous public opinion which in Rome had frequently revolted against the injustice done to girls, in depriving them of the greater part of the inheritance of their fathers, totally disappeared.” Beaumanoir says that “Every husband may beat his wife if she refuses to obey his orders, or if she speaks ill of him or tells an untruth, provided he does so with moderation.” Early German law permitted the father, and subsequently the husband, to sell, punish, or even kill the wife; and in England wife-beating has not yet died out.

“If, in the times of St. Louis,” says Legouvé, “a young vassal of some royal fief was sought in marriage, it was necessary for her father to get his seigneur’s permission for her marriage; the seigneur asked the king’s consent to his permission, and not till after all these agreements (father, seigneur, king) was she consulted regarding this contract which affected her whole life.” How beautifully such a law must have fostered the sentiment of Love which depends on Individual Preference and Special Sympathy!

Such laws no doubt were simply echoes of clerical teachings. “The girl,” says St. Ambrose of Rebecca, whom he holds up herein as an example, “is not consulted about her espousals, for she awaits the judgment of her parents; inasmuch as a girl’s modesty will not allow her to choose a husband” (!). Irish “bulls” appear to have crept even into ecclesiastic enactments, for we read in Smith’s Dictionary of Christian Antiquities that “An Irish council in the time of St. Patrick, about the year 450 lays it down that the will of the girl is to be inquired of the father, and that the girl is to do what her father chooses, inasmuch 96as man is the head of the woman.” “Even widows,” we read further, “under the age of twenty-five were forbidden by a law of Valentinian and Gratian to marry without their parents’ consent; and St. Ambrose desires young widows to leave the choice of their second husbands to their parents.”

Compayré states in his History of Pedagogy that in the seventeenth century “woman was still regarded as the inferior of man, in the lower classes as a drudge, in the higher as an ornament. In her case intellectual culture was regarded as either useless or dangerous; and the education that was given her was to fit her for a life of devotion or a life of seclusion from society.”

Still more, of course, was this the case in the times of St. Jerome, who in his letter to Læta on the education of her daughter Paula, tells her that the girl must never eat in public, or eat meat. “Never let Paula listen to musical instruments.” Even her affections must be suppressed—all except the devotional sentiments. She must not be “in the gatherings and in the company of her kindred; let her be found only in retirement.” “Do not allow Paula to feel more affection for one of her companions than for others.” And this ascetic moralist even recommends uncleanliness as a virtue: “I entirely forbid a young girl to bathe;” which may be matched with the following, also cited from Compayré: “The first preceptors of Gargantua said that it sufficed to comb one’s hair with the four fingers and the thumb; and that whoever combed, washed, and cleansed himself otherwise was losing his time in this world.”

In such a rough atmosphere of masculine ignorance, fanaticism, and cruelty the feminine virtues of sympathy, tenderness, grace, and sweetness could not have flourished very luxuriantly. Consequently there is doubtless more than a grain of truth in mediæval proverbs about women, cynical and brutal as some of them are. Here are a few specimens:—

“Women and horses must be beaten.”

“Women and money are the cause of all evil in the world.”

“Women only keep those secrets which they don’t know.”

“Trust no woman, and were she dead.”

“Between a woman’s yes and no there isn’t room for the point of a needle.”

“If you are too happy, take a wife.”

When we read that “Montaigne is of that number, who, through false gallantry, would keep woman in a state of ignorance, on the pretext that instruction would mar her natural charms;” and that the same author recommends poetry to women, because 97it is “a wanton, crafty art, disguised, all for pleasure, all for show, just as they are”; we recall with a smile John Stuart Mill’s sarcastic reference to the time, “Some generations ago, when satires on women were in vogue, and men thought it a clever thing to insult women for being what men made them.”


Christianity claims to be pre-eminently the religion of love, in the widest sense of that term, including, especially, religious veneration of a personal Deity and love of one’s enemy. It has been asserted by Mrs. Elizabeth Cady Stanton and others that Christianity has done little or nothing in aid of woman’s elevation; and it cannot be denied that much good would have resulted if more emphasis had been placed by the Apostles on certain phases of the domestic relations. That Romantic Love is not alluded to in the New Testament need not cause any surprise, for that sentiment cannot have existed in those days when Courtship and Individual Choice were unknown. But there are passages in St. Paul’s writings which were probably the seeds from which grew the mediæval contempt for marriage and women. And although marriage is now zealously guarded by the Church, Love of the romantic sort is no doubt looked upon even to-day by many an austere clergyman as a harmless youthful epidemic—a sort of emotional measles—rather than as a new æsthetico-moral sentiment destined to become the strongest of all agencies working for the improvement of the personal appearance, social condition, and happiness of mankind.

On the other hand, even agnostics must admit on reflection that Christianity contained elements which, despite the vicious fanaticism of many of its early teachers, slowly helped to ameliorate woman’s lot. In the first place, Protestantism, as embodied in Luther, performed an invaluable service by restoring and enforcing universal respect for the marriage-tie. He set a good example by not only defying the degrading custom of obligatory celibacy, but by marrying a most sensible woman—a nun who had escaped with eight others from a convent at Nimtsch.

Mariolatry, or the cult of the Virgin Mary, is the second avenue through which Christianity influenced the development of the tender emotions. The halo of sanctity which it spread at the same time over virginity and motherhood has been of incalculable value in raising woman in the estimation of the masses.

A third way in which Christianity influenced woman’s position 98is suggested by the following remarks of Mr. Lecky, who has done valuable service to philosophy, in showing how emotions as well as ideas change with time: “In antiquity,” he says, “the virtues that were most admired were almost exclusively those which were distinctively masculine. Courage, self-assertion, magnanimity, and, above all, patriotism, were the leading features of the ideal type; and chastity, modesty, and charity, the gentler and the domestic virtues, which are especially feminine, were greatly undervalued. With the single exception of conjugal fidelity, none of the virtues that were highly prized were virtues distinctively or pre-eminently feminine.” Now the “religion of love,” by especially insisting on these “feminine virtues,” became a powerful agent in undermining the coarse mediæval spirit with its masculine, military “virtues,” alias barbarisms.


In the howling wilderness of mediæval masculine brutality and feminine degradation there was one sunny oasis in which the flowers of Love were allowed to grow undisturbed for a few generations,—until military ambition trod them again underfoot. This brief episode of gentler manners is known as the period of Chivalry.

Ever since the fifth century the worship of the Virgin Mary had increased in ardour, and it was to be expected that at some favourable moment this adoration would be extended to the whole female sex, or at least its nobler representatives. This was the mission taken upon themselves by the knights and poets of chivalrous times.

Chivalry, it is true, was so often a mixture of clownishness and licentiousness, its practice was so much less refined than its theory, that in opposition to those historians who have sung its praises others have doubted whether its influence was on the whole for good or for evil. For, although the knights vowed especially to protect widows and orphans, and respect and honour ladies, yet it was precisely under their régime that, when cities were taken and castles stormed, women were subjected to the most brutal treatment.

The difficulty is best solved by distinguishing between two kinds of Chivalry—the Militant and the Poetic. The militant type of knight-errantry was less inspired by the desire to benefit womankind than by ambition to gratify silly masculine vanity. So thoroughly was the mediæval mind imbued with ideas of war that 99these knights could not conceive even of love except in a military guise. So they rode about the country in quest of adventure, ostensibly in the service of an adored mistress, but really to find an outlet, in times of peace, for pent-up military energy and ambition.

Spain and Southern France were the principal home of Chivalry Militant, because there a warm climate and smiling nature offered most favourable conditions to wandering knights in quest of adventure. Fortunately the world possesses, in Don Quixote, a lifelike picture of knight-errantry; for although the aim of Cervantes was to make fun, not so much of Chivalry as of trashy contemporaneous romances of Chivalry, yet in doing this he could not avoid depicting the comic side of the institution itself, concerning which it is indeed difficile satiram non scribere.

It appears to have been the custom of these knights to wander about the country interfering in every quarrel, and, in default of a disturbance, creating one.

Each knight had a Dulcinea, whom he had perhaps never seen, but in whose honour and for whose love he engages in all these combats. And whenever he meets another knight he forthwith challenges him to admit that this Dulcinea, whom the other has of course never seen, is the most beautiful lady in the world. The other knight echoes the challenge in behalf of his Dulcinea; and the result is a combat in which the victor, by the inexorable logic of superior strength, proves the superior beauty of his chosen lady-love.

The vanquished knight is then sent as prisoner to the victor’s mistress with a message of love.

The Germans do not often originate anything; but if they take up an idea or institution they work it more thoroughly than any other nation. So with the fantastic side of Chivalry, which was introduced after the second crusade, during which German knights had come into close contact with French knights.

“Spain,” says Professor Scherr, “has imagined a Don Quixote, but Germany has really produced one.”

His name was Ulrich von Lichtenstein, and he was born in the year 1200. “From his boyhood, Herr Ulrich’s thoughts were directed towards woman-worship, and as a youth he chose a high-born and, be it well understood, a married lady as his patroness, in whose service he infused method into his knightly madness. The circumstance that meanwhile he himself gets married does not abate his folly. He greedily drinks water in which his patroness has washed herself; he has an operation performed on his thick 100double underlip, because she informs him that it is not inviting for kisses; he amputates one of his fingers which had become stiff in an encounter, and sends it to his mistress as a proof of his capacity of endurance for her sake. Masked as Frau Venus, he wanders about the country and engages in encounters, in this costume, in honour of his mistress; at her command he goes among the lepers and eats with them from one bowl.... The most remarkable circumstance, however, is that Ulrich’s own spouse, while her husband and master masquerades about the land as a knight in his beloved’s service, remains aside in his castle, and is only mentioned (in his poetic autobiography) whenever he returns home, tired and dilapidated, to be restored by her nursing.”

When a German knight had chosen a Dulcinea, he adopted and wore her colour, for he was now her love-servant, and stood to his mistress in the same relation as a vassal to his master. “The beloved,” Scherr continues, “gave her lover a love-token—a girdle or veil, a ribbon, or even a sleeve of her dress; this token he fastened to his helmet or shield, and great was the lady’s pride if he brought it back to her from battle thoroughly cut and hewn to pieces. Thus (in Parzival) Gawan had fastened on his shield a sleeve of the beautiful Olibet, and when he returned it to her, torn and speared, ‘Da ward des Mägdlein’s Freude gross; ihr blanker Arm war noch bloss, darüber schob sie ihn zuhand.’

The attitude of the knight-errants may be briefly described as Gallantry gone mad. We have seen that a few traces of Gallantry are found in the pages of Ovid; but it was during the age of Chivalry that this overtone of Love made itself heard for the first time distinctly and loudly. And as, when a new popular melody appears, everybody takes it up and sings and whistles it ad nauseam; so these knights, intoxicated with the novel idea of gallant behaviour toward women, took it up and carried it to the most ridiculous extremes.

The women, naturally enough, unused to such devotion, became as extravagantly coy as the men were gallant. They subjected this Gallantry to the most absurd and even cruel tests. The knights were sent to war, to the crusades, into the dens of wild animals, to test their devotion; and few were so manly as the knight in Schiller’s ballad, who, after fetching his lady’s glove from the lion’s den, threw it in her face, instead of accepting her willing favours.

It is with reference to these coy and cruel tests of Gallantry that Wolfram von Eschenbach bitterly accuses Love of having caused the death of many a noble knight.

101Yet, despite these absurdities, the trials and procrastinations to which the knights were subjected had one good result: they helped to give Love a supersensual, imaginative basis. This fact is brought out clearly in the following statement made by Dr. Bötticher in his learned work on Parzival. When, he says, after the middle of the twelfth century, the Troubadour love-poetry became known in Austria, “it was especially the idea of Minnedienst (love-service) that was seized upon with avidity: the knight wooes and labours for a woman’s love, but she holds back and grants no favours until after a long trial-service. The final object of this service, the possession of the beloved, is regarded as quite subordinate to the pangs and pleasures of wooing and waiting.”

Here was a novelty in Love, indeed! And, as good luck would have it, fashion lent its powerful aid to the innovation. The sentiment was that “Whoever is not in the service of love is unworthy to be a courtier”; and thus many a boor who would have very much preferred to continue treating women as servants, had to put his head into the yoke of Gallantry, in order to be “fashionable.”


If these knights of Chivalry bestrode their warlike Rosinantes to show an astonished world for the first time what could be done in the way of Gallantry, the peaceful poets of Chivalry—the Troubadours and Minnesingers—in turn mounted their winged Pegasus, and soared for the first time to the dizzy heights of Ecstatic Adoration or Emotional Hyperbole.

“Woman was regarded,” says Mr. Symonds, “as an ideal being, to be approached with worship bordering on adoration. The lover derived personal force, virtue, elevation, energy from his enthusiastic passion. Honour, justice, courage, self-sacrifice, contempt of worldly goods flowed from that one sentiment, and love united two wills in a single ecstasy. Love was the consummation of spiritual felicity, which surpassed all other modes of happiness in its beatitude. Thus, Bernard de Ventadour and Jacopo da Lentino were ready to forego Paradise, unless they might behold their lady’s face before the throne of God. For a certain period in modern history this mysticism of the amorous emotion was no affectation. It formulated a genuine impulse of manly hearts, influenced by beauty, and touched with the sense of moral superiority in woman, perfected through weakness, and demanding physical protection. By bringing the tender passions into accord with gentle manners and unselfish aspirations, it 102served to temper the rudeness of primitive society; and no little of its attraction was due to the conviction that only refined natures could experience it. This new aspect of love was due to chivalry, to Christianity, to the Teutonic reverence for woman, in which religious awe seems to have blended with the service of the weaker by the stronger.”

These remarks, though applicable to Chivalrous poetry in general, refer especially to the Italian species. The most important varieties of Chivalrous poetry, however, are those of the Provençal, or French, Troubadours, and the German Minnesingers. These must be briefly considered in turn, as they present national differences of importance to the history and psychology of Love.

(a) French Troubadours.—As we live in a period in which the newspaper has become the greatest of moral forces, we can most easily realise the social influence of the Troubadours on reading, in Thierry, that “In the twelfth century the songs of the troubadours, circulating rapidly from castle to castle, and from town to town, supplied the place of periodical gazettes in all the country between the rivers Isère and Vienne, the mountains of Auvergne and the two seas.”

The wandering minstrels who wielded this poetic power were recruited from all classes—nobility, artisans, and clergy. But, as Dr. F. Hueffer remarks in his entertaining work on Provençal life and poetry, “By far the largest number of the Troubadours known to us—fifty-seven in number—belong to the nobility, not to the highest nobility in most cases, it is true. In several instances, poverty is distinctly mentioned as the cause for adopting the profession of a troubadour. It almost appears, indeed, as if this profession, like that of the churchman, and sometimes in connection with it, had been regarded by Provençal families as a convenient mode of providing for their younger sons.”

In a time when distinctions of rank were so closely observed, it was perhaps of special importance that these singers should be chiefly persons of noble blood. Women, it is true, have at all times shown a disposition to ignore rank in favour of bards and tenors; but the mediæval nobles might have hesitated, frequently, to extend to commoners the unlimited hospitality of their castles, and the privilege of adoring their wives in verse and action. These husbands, in fact, appear to have shown remarkable forbearance towards their poetic guests. No doubt it flattered their vanity (overtone of Pride) to have the charms of their spouse sung by a famous poet in person; and on account of the social influence wielded by the Troubadours, owing to their successive 103appearance at all the castles in the land, it was, moreover, wise not to forfeit their goodwill. Sometimes, however, Jealousy held high carnival, as, in the case of Guillem, the hero of Hueffer and Mackenzie’s opera, The Troubadour, who was murdered by the injured husband, and the faithless wife compelled to drink of the wine called “the poet’s blood,” adulterated in a horribly realistic manner. The women, likewise, were frequently moved by Jealousy—not in behalf of their husbands but of the Troubadours, of whose art and adoration they desired a Monopoly, whereas these bards were very apt to transfer their fickle affections to other women.

Fickleness, however, was not the greatest fault of these Troubadours. Their great moral shortcoming was that they paid no attention to the borderline between conjugal and romantic love. Dr. Hueffer does not recollect a single instance amongst the numerous love-stories told in connection with the Troubadours, in which the object of passion was not a married lady—a strange point of affinity with the modern French novel to which he calls the attention of those interested in national psychology. A case in point is that of Guirant (1260), one of whose pastorals is analysed by Hueffer: “The idea is simple enough: an amorous knight, whose importunate offers to an unprotected girl are kept in check by mere dint of graceful, witty, sometimes tart reply.” These offers of love are repeated at intervals of two, three, seven, and six years, and finally transferred to the woman’s daughter, always with the same bad luck. His own wife, meanwhile, is never considered a proper object for his poetic effusions. Concerning the German imitator of foreign customs—Ulrich von Lichtenstein, mentioned a few pages back—we have likewise seen that his wife never entered his mind except when he came home “tired and dilapidated, to be restored by her nursing.”

Besides pastorals of the kind just referred to, the Troubadours had several other classes of songs, among them the tensons, or contentions which were “metrical dialogues of lively repartee on some disputed points of gallantry.” These may have given ground for the myth that aristocratic ladies of this period “instituted Courts of Love, in which questions of gallantry were gravely discussed and determined by their suffrages,” as, e.g. whether a husband could really love his wife. The question whether any such debating clubs for considering the ethics and etiquette of love existed is still debated by scholars; but the best evidence appears to be negative.

(b) German Minnesingers.—The German wandering minstrels 104also belonged mainly to the aristocracy, and imitated their French colleagues in paying their addresses chiefly to married women—a fact for which, in both cases, the rigid chaperonage of the young must be held responsible; for man will make love, and if not allowed to do so properly he will do it improperly. Yet on the whole the Minnesingers, at least in their verse, were less amorous than the Troubadours. As Mr. L. C. Elson remarks in his History of German Song: “The Troubadour praised the eyes, the hair, the lips, the form of his chosen one; the Minnesinger praised the sweetness, the grace, the modesty, the tenderness of the entire sex. The one was concrete, the other abstract.”

Abstractness, however, is not a desirable quality in poetry, the very essence of which is concrete imagery. Accordingly we find that with few exceptions the German Minnesingers are not as poets equal to their French prototypes. It was Schiller himself who passed the severest judgment on these early colleagues of his. “If the sparrows on the roof,” he once remarked to a friend, “should ever undertake to write, or to issue an almanac of love and friendship, I would wager ten to one it would be just like these songs of love. What a poverty of ideas in these songs! A garden, a tree, a hedge, a forest, and a sweetheart—these are about all the objects that are to be found in a sparrow’s head. Then we have flowers which are fragrant, fruits which grow mellow, twigs on which a bird sits in the sunshine and sings, and spring which comes, and winter which goes, and nothing that remains except—ennui.”

Schiller’s criticism, however, is too sweeping, for there were notable exceptions to these sparrow-poets, concerning one of whom, Hadlaub, the late Professor Scherer gives the following fascinating information in his History of German Literature: "He introduces human figures into his descriptions of scenery, and shows us, for instance, in the summer a group of beautiful ladies walking in an orchard, and blushing with womanly modesty when gazed at by young men. He compares the troubles of love with the troubles of hard-working men, like charcoal-burners and carters.

“Hadlaub tells us more of his personal experiences than any other Minnesinger. Even as a child, we learn, he had loved a little girl, who, however, would have nothing to say to him, but continually flouted him, to his great distress. Once she bit his hand, but her bite, he says, was so tender, womanly, and gentle, that he was sorry the feeling of it passed away so soon. Another time, being urged to give him a keepsake, she threw her needle-case at him, and he seized it with sweet eagerness, but it was 105taken from him and returned to her, and she was made to give it him in a friendly manner. In later years his pains still remained unrewarded; when his lady perceived him, she would get up and go away. Once, he tells us, he saw her fondling and kissing a child, and when she had gone he drew the child towards him and embraced it as she had embraced it, and kissed it in the place where she had kissed it.”

The gradual change in woman’s position, social and amorous, is indicated by the differences between the earlier and the later Minnesongs. In the early poems Professor Scherer remarks, "The social supremacy of noble woman is not yet recognised, and the man wooes with proud self-respect.... Another refuses himself to a woman who desired his love.... A fourth boasts of his triumphs. ‘Women,’ says he, ‘are as easily tamed as falcons.’ In another song a woman tells how she tamed a falcon, but he flew away from her, and now wears other chains....

“In the later Minnesongs it is the women who are proud, and the men who must languish.”

A still more remarkable change is noticed in the German Folk-songs which followed the periods of Minnesong proper. “The women of these popular love-songs are not mostly married women; they are, as a rule, young maidens” [at last, pure Romantic Love!] “who are not only praised but also turned to ridicule and blamed. The woes of love do not here arise from the capricious coyness of the fair one, but are called forth by parting, jealousy, or faithlessness. Feeling is stronger than in the Minnesong, and seeks accordingly for stronger modes of expression.”

It is not a mere accident that true Romantic Love should have first appeared in these Folk-songs. For these were the products of gifted individuals in the lower classes, where chaperonage—arch enemy of Love—was less strict than among the higher classes.


That the women were not ungrateful to the mediæval bards who first discovered in them the possibilities of higher charms and virtues, is shown by their treatment of Heinrich von Meissen, Minnesinger, who was called Frauenlob, because he constantly sang the “praise of woman.” When he died at Mainz in 1317 they carried his bier to church with their own hands, and then, in accordance with the custom of the time, poured libations of wine on his bier so freely that the whole floor of the church was covered.

And there is every reason to believe that the women of 106Frauenlob’s period deserved his praises, because they were in æsthetic, moral, and intellectual culture far superior to the women before or directly after their time. We read in Gottfried von Strassburg’s poem how Tristan, while Isolde healed his wound, instructed her in the arts and manners of court life. Isolde knew French and Latin besides her own language. She played the violin and the harp, and sang; she wrote letters and poems, and would indeed have been a model of culture even at the present day. The twelfth century even had a genuine blue-stocking, the nun Herrad von Landsberg, who wrote a cyclopædia of all human knowledge, in the Latin tongue, called the Hortus Deliciarum. Learning throughout the mediæval ages was all concentrated in the monasteries; but at the period in question the monks did not retain everything for themselves, but aided the knights and the poets in instructing the women of the court and nobility.

Nor did these women neglect their domestic affairs or physical exercise. They accompanied the men on their falcon-hunting parties, and at home learned to spin, weave, sew, and make clothing for themselves and their husbands and children. At the tournaments and other games they appeared as Queens of Beauty to distribute prizes and inspire their admirers to heroic deeds; and at banquets and other social gatherings they seem to have supplied more of the wit and entertainment than the men, whose military occupations left them less time for the cultivation of the arts.

At the same time one cannot help smiling at the elementary rules of conduct which had to be given even to women of the nobility. You must not stare at a man long, or refuse to return his salutation, young ladies were told; nor must you in walking take too long or too short steps. A poet of the middle of the thirteenth century (quoted by Mr. Hueffer) gives this advice to a girl: “If a gentleman takes you aside and wishes to talk of courtship to you, do not show a strange or sullen behaviour, but defend yourself with pleasant and pretty repartees. And if his talk annoys you and makes you uneasy, I advise you to ask him questions,” and contradict his statements, in order “to give a harmless turn to the conversation.”

Like Greek and Roman civilisation, like the palmy days of Persian and Arabian culture, this mediæval period of feminine ascendancy and refinement unfortunately did not last many generations. Although, undoubtedly, chivalry accomplished real good for the time being, most of what went by that name was, after all, too much of a sham—less a matter of actuality than of poetic fancy. “Sincere and beautiful as the chivalrous ideal may have 107been,” says Mr. Symonds, “it speedily degenerated. Chivalry, though a vital element of feudalism, existed, even among the nations of its origin, more as an aspiration than a reality. In Italy it never penetrated the life or subdued the imagination of the people. For the Italo-Provençal poets that code of love was almost wholly formal.” Petrarch, like Alberti and Boccaccio, indulges again in abuse of women as coarse and brutal as that of the early “Christian Fathers”; and when we come to the sixteenth century, the scholar Cornelius Agrippa complains of the old state of affairs—woman’s complete subjection: “Unjust laws,” he says, “do their worst to repress women; custom and education combine to make them nonentities. From her childhood a girl is brought up in idleness at home, and confined to needle and thread for sole employment. When she reaches marriageable years, she has this alternative: the jealousy of a husband, or the custody of a convent. All public duties, all legal functions, all active ministrations of religion are closed against her.”

The manner in which a great English poet, much later still, treated the women of his household was quite in consonance with the customs of preceding times. As an English author wrote, forty years ago, “Milton taught his daughters to pronounce Greek and Latin, so that they might read the classics aloud for his pleasure, but forbade their understanding the meaning of a word for their own—for which he deserved to be blind.”

Regarding France we read in Compayré that “Even in the higher classes, woman held herself aloof from instruction, and from things intellectual. Madame Racine had never seen played, and had probably never read, the tragedies of her husband.” Mme. de Lambert “reproaches Molière for having excluded women from recreation, pastime, and pleasure.” Fénelon advised girls to learn to read and write correctly and to learn grammar, which “surpassed in the time of Fénelon the received custom.” “No one knew better than Fénelon the faults that come to woman through ignorance—unrest, unemployed time, inability to apply herself to solid and serious duties, frivolity, indolence, lawless imagination, indiscreet curiosity concerning trifles, levity, and talkativeness, sentimentalism, and ... a mania for theology: women are too much inclined to speak decisively on religious questions.”


Rarer even than feminine culture, Personal Beauty appears to have been throughout the Middle Ages. Most of the portraits of 108women and men, as well as the ideal heads and figures in paintings and sculpture, are repulsively ugly and inexpressive of higher traits. The general causes of mediæval ugliness—neglect of personal hygiene and sanitary measures, hard manual labour, prevention of love-matches, etc.—will be considered elsewhere. In this place only one cause need be alluded to. The old Church Fathers, it is well known, were not only unæsthetic but positively anti-æsthetic. Everything pleasing to the senses was denounced by them, especially the physical beauty of women, which they looked upon as a special gift of the devil. Such an attitude on the part of the leading social class could hardly tend to encourage the cultivation of personal charms; and during the trials for witchcraft special efforts appear to have even been made to eliminate beauty forcibly; for the mere possession of unusual beauty sometimes sufficed to bring a poor girl to trial, outrage, torture, and death.

It may have been due partly to a natural reaction against asceticism, partly to the rarity of spiritual beauty, that the mediæval poets in enumerating the charms of their mistresses, confine themselves almost exclusively to their physical features. Professor Scherr, after quoting Ariosto’s description of his heroine Alcina in Orlando Furioso (vii. 11, seq.), for comparison with similar efforts of German poets, observes: “It is very remarkable that, as in this female portrait sketched by Ariosto, so with mediæval poets in general, including those of Germany, the principal accent is placed on the bodily charms of the women. Almost all sketches of this kind are purely material. Intellectual beauty, as expressed in the features, is barely mentioned. These old romanticists were much more sensual than modern writers would have us believe.”


That Love, too, continued to be looked at from a material point of view, long after the chivalric efforts to idealise it, is shown strikingly by the way in which Spenser compares love with friendship and family affection. In the fifth book of the Faery Queene he asks—

“Whither shall weigh the balance down; to wit,
The dear affection unto kindred sweet,
Or raging fire of love to womankind,
Or zeal of friends, combined by virtues meet?”

Like an ancient Greek he decides in favour of friendship—

“For natural affection soon doth cease,
And quenched is with Cupid’s greater flame,
109But faithful friendship doth them both suppress,”
Love of soul doth love of body pass.

Could anything attest better than this the general mediæval ignorance of the psychic traits or “overtones” which constitute Romantic Love?


Long before the day of Spenser there lived, however, in Florence, a poet whose transcendent genius enabled him to feel and describe for the first time the real romantic sentiment of Love. It is true that some of the poets of Chivalry had before him attempted to depict the supersensual, æthereal side of the passion. But their portraits lacked the touch of realism: they described what they imagined; Dante what he felt.

Dante was born in 1265: Modern Love was born nine years later—613 years ago. “Nine times already since my birth,” says Dante, “had the heaven of light returned to the self-same point almost, as concerns its own revolution, when first the glorious lady of my mind was made manifest to mine eyes; even she who was called Beatrice (she who confers blessing) by many who knew not wherefore.... From that time onward, Love quite governed my soul.... But seeing that were I to dwell overmuch on the passions and doings of such early youth, my words might be counted something fabulous, I will therefore put them aside,” etc.

These are the opening lines of the Vita Nuova, in which Modern Love is for the first time portrayed with an air of sincerity, and concerning which Professor C. E. Norton justly remarks that “so long as there are lovers in the world, and so long as lovers are poets, will this first and tenderest love-story of modern literature be read with appreciation and responsive sympathy.”

What a privilege to describe First Love not only in an individual but a historic sense, as Dante did in this poem, which Rossetti calls “the auto-biography or auto-psychology of Dante’s youth, till his twenty-seventh year.”

After that first sight of Beatrice one of her sweet smiles was the highest goal of his desires; but so powerful was the spell of her presence that he was obliged to avoid her. “From that night forth the natural functions of my body began to be vexed and impeded, for I was given up wholly to thinking of this most gracious creature; whereby in short space I became so weak and so reduced that it was irksome to many of my friends to look upon 110me ... the thing was so plainly to be discerned in my countenance that there was no longer any means of concealing it.” Such words as “trembling,” “confusion,” “weeping,” constantly occur as the narrative proceeds. Love, he says, “bred in me such overpowering sweetness that my body, being all subjected thereto, remained many times helpless and passive.” When for the first time Beatrice denied him her smile, “I became possessed with such grief that, parting myself from others, I went into a lonely place to bathe the ground with most bitter tears.” And in one of the sonnets interspersed he says—

“My face shows my heart’s colour,
No sooner do I lift mine eyes to look
Than the blood seems as shaken from my heart,
And all my pulses beat at once and stop.”

But by far the most remarkable thing in the Vita Nuova, is Dante’s own indirect testimony that such Love as he felt, such supersensual, æsthetic Love, was a novelty and a puzzle to his contemporaries. For he tells how he met some ladies who gazed at him and laughed till one of them asked: “To what end lovest thou this lady, seeing that thou canst not support her presence? Now tell us this thing that we may know it: for certainly the end of such a love must be worthy of knowledge.”

No doubt it was worth knowing; for, as the author of the admirable article on “Poetry,” in the eighth edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica (1859), remarks: “When in modern times the attempt was made to revive tragedy, it proved totally unsuccessful until this principle (of romantic love) was admitted into the drama to give it warmth and life. Of that species of composition which in its proper sense is peculiar to the moderns, viz. the novel and romance, it forms, as we all know, the moving power. In short, it influences, more or less, every department in which the imagination has exerted itself with success since the revival of literature.”

Once more it is well to state that there are geniuses in the emotional as in the intellectual world. Dante was both; and the realistic descriptions he has given of the effects of Romantic Love have helped to sustain the notion that Love is immutable, and has existed at all times. But the indirect testimony to the contrary just quoted, and the whole argument of this chapter on Mediæval Love, make it apparent that Dante’s Love was the exception which proves that among the others Love did not exist. And even Dante was not entirely modern in his Love. A modern 111lover would not have attempted to conceal the object of his Love, but would have made it apparent to all by his foolish actions that he was in Love with this particular girl and no other; he would perhaps have wooed more persistently, and his feelings would not have remained unchanged after her marriage to another. Like Petrarch, moreover, Dante cannot be quite acquitted of the suspicion that, after the first flush of excitement, the excessive and persistent purification and idealisation of his passion was based not so much on real amorous feelings and motives, as on an author’s craving for an object on which to lavish his literary art of embellishment.

Dante, in a word, hyper-idealised his passion. He became quite deaf to the fundamental tone of Love, and heard only its overtones. And herein lies his inferiority to Shakspere. It is in the works of Shakspere that the various motives and emotions which constitute Love—sensuous, æsthetic, intellectual—are for the first time mingled in proper proportions. Shakspere’s Love is Modern Love, full-fledged, and therefore calls for no separate analysis. It is a primitive passion, purified and refined by intellectual, moral, and æsthetic culture. And though by no means universal, or even common, at the present day, it is yet of frequent occurrence, and will become more and more prevalent as time rolls on. To facilitate its progress by pointing out its characteristics, its evolution, and the measures that must be taken to foster it, is one of the principal objects of this monograph.



Writers on evolution have a very simple and convenient way of verifying their inferences, by applying the rule—which seems to hold true universally—that the different stages through which an individual passes in his development—physical and mental—correspond to the periods of development through which the whole race has passed.

This principle, applied to our present problem, fits exactly, and proves that the account given in the preceding pages of the development of Love is correct.

Historically we have seen that of all affections Maternal Love is the earliest and (until after Romantic Love appears) the strongest. Then paternal, filial, and fraternal love are gradually developed, followed by friendship (Greek), and finally by Love proper.

112Just so with the individual. The baby’s first love is for its mother, whose tender expression and beaming eyes throw the first reflected smile on its face, and touch the first cord of sympathetic attachment. Then the father comes in for his share of attention, followed by sisters and brothers. At school begins the era of friendship, representing “classical” love, and often as ardent and Love-like as among the ancient Greeks. Finally Romantic Love appears on the scene, eclipsing every other emotion. And, like historic Love, it generally passes through a blind, silly, chivalric stage, known as “calf-love,” which at last is succeeded by real, intense romantic passion, that leads to monogamous marriage, the central pillar of modern civilisation.

Not only have we seen that Romantic Love is the latest and the strongest of all affections, but the causes which retarded its development have been indicated. Chief among these were the negation of Individual Preference, and the absence of opportunities for Courtship, already deplored by Plato. As long as women were captured, or bought, or disposed of by father or mother without any reference to their own will, Sexual Selection on the female’s part was of course out of the question; and on the man’s part it was rendered impossible by the absence of Courtship. Wooing a woman was not winning her favour, but impressing her father with a display of wealth or social power. Thus there were no opportunities on her part for the display of personal charms or the cunning art of Coyness, or for inflaming and feeding his passion through Jealousy by bestowing an occasional mischief-making smile on his rivals; there were no lover’s quarrels followed by sweet reconciliations and an increase of Love; no short absences fanning Love with sighs; no alternate feelings of hope and despair, inspired by his or her fickle or uncertain actions; no chance for displays of Gallantry and mutual Self-sacrifice and assistance; no sympathetic exchange and consequent doubling of pleasures, real or anticipated; none, in fact, of the more subtle traits and emotions which make Romantic Love what it is.


It cannot be said that these obstacles to Love have been as radically removed as they ought to be. Oriental chaperonage is still rampant in France, to the extinction of all true romantic sentiment. In other countries Parental Tyranny has considerably abated, but the Goddess of Love still has formidable rivals in Plutus, the god of wealth, and Minerva, the goddess of “wisdom” 113or expediency. Thus it happens that even in the case of persons who are refined enough to experience Love, it is too often absent when they marry; and, as a German pessimist sneeringly points out, no one has yet dared to tempt bride and bridegroom to perjury, by asking when the knot is tied, “Do you love this woman?” “Do you love this man?”

Nevertheless public sentiment is continually making war on Plutus and Minerva, and siding with Venus. Probably the mercantile element in marriage will not die out till a few weeks before the millennium, although Herbert Spencer is optimistic enough to believe it will sooner. “After wife-stealing,” he says, “came wife-purchase; and then followed the usages which made, and continue to make, considerations of property predominate over considerations of personal preference. Clearly, wife-purchase and husband-purchase (which exists in some semi-civilised societies), though they have lost their original gross form, persist in disguised forms. Already some disapproval of those who marry for money or position is expressed; and this growing stronger may be expected to purify the monogamic union, by making it in all cases real instead of being in some cases nominal.”

It is indeed a most hopeful sign of progress, this strong and growing modern sentiment in favour of Romantic Love as against rival motives matrimonial. Novelists, when the wills of the lovers and the parents clash, invariably and unconsciously side with the lovers; and should a novelist make an exception, many of his readers would close the book, and the others would finish it under protest and disappointedly. Even when we read a newspaper reporter’s thrilling and dramatic narrative of the elopement of a foolish young couple, fresh from the high-school, our hearts throb with sympathetic anxiety lest the irate parent should succeed in capturing the runaway couple.

No doubt this instinctive modern prejudice in favour of Romantic Love will ultimately throw a halo of sacredness around it, which will raise Cupid’s will to the dignity of an Eleventh Commandment—a consummation devoutedly to be wished; for although the conjugal affection which grows out of Romantic Love is not always deeper than that which results from unions not based on Love, the physical and mental qualities of the children commonly show at a glance whether or not the parents were brought together by Sexual Selection.



The psychic elements of Love which thus far have been compared to overtones, might also be regarded from a Wagnerian point of view as Leitmotive or leading motives in the Drama of Historic Love. In the first scenes, where the actors are animals and savages, followed by Egyptians, Hebrews, Hindoos, Greeks, and Romans, and mediæval clowns and fanatics, these leading motives are heard only as short melodic phrases, and at long intervals, pregnant, indeed, with future possibilities, but isolated and never combined into a symphony of Love. In the last act, however, which we have now reached, all these motives appear in various combinations, in the gorgeous and glowing instrumentation of modern poets, with all possible figurative, harmonic, and dynamic nuances; and at the same time so intertwined and interwoven that no one apparently has ever succeeded in unravelling the poetic woof and distinguishing the separate threads. For us, however, who have followed these motives from the moment when they first appeared in a primitive form, it will be easy to distinguish them and subject each one to a separate analysis. We shall first consider those which, like Coyness and Jealousy, are already familiar and need only be considered in their modern forms, and then pass on to those which are more and more exclusively modern.


At least five sources or causes of modern female Coyness may be suggested:—

(1) An Echo of Capture.—Why are modern city-folks so fond of picnics? It was Mr. Spencer, I believe, who suggested somewhere that it is because picnics awaken in civilised men and women a vague and agreeable reminiscence of the time when their ancestors habitually took their meals on meadows in the shade of a tree. If it is possible for such experiences to re-echo, as it were, in our nervous system through so many generations, thanks to the conservatism of oft-repeated cerebral impressions, then it does not seem so very fantastic to suggest that one cause of female Coyness may be a similar echo, or reminiscence, of the time when the primitive ancestresses of modern women were “courted” by Capture or Purchase, and so badly treated as wives that in course of time an instinctive impulse was formed in their minds to shrink back and say No to man’s proposals.

115(2) Maiden versus Wife.—It is hardly necessary, however, to rely upon such a remote sociological echo, so to speak, for an explanation of a girl’s hesitation to become a wife even if her suitor pleases her. The thought of exchanging her maiden freedom for conjugal restrictions and duties; of giving up the homage and admiration of all men for the possible neglect of one; of probably soon losing her youthful beauty, etc.—such thoughts would make many girls even more coy than they now are, did not the fear of becoming an old maid act as a counterbalancing motive in favour of marriage.

(3) Modesty.—Esquimaux girls, as we have seen, “affect the utmost bashfulness and aversion to any proposal of marriage, lest they should lose their reputation for modesty.” And the greatest analyst of the human heart puts the same philosophy into the mouth of Juliet in a passage which, although everybody knows it by heart, must yet be quoted here—

“O gentle Romeo,
If thou dost love, pronounce it faithfully:
Or if thou think’st I am too quickly won,
I’ll frown and be perverse and say thee nay,
So thou wilt woo; but else, not for the world.
In truth, fair Montague, I am too fond,
And therefore thou may’st think my ’haviour light:
But trust me, gentleman, I’ll prove more true
Than those that have more cunning to be strange.
I should have been more strange, I must confess,
But that thou overheard’st, ere I was ware,
My true love’s passion: therefore pardon me,
And not impute this yielding to light love,
Which the dark night hath so discovered.”

(4) Cunning to be Strange.—No huntsman (except a monarch) would care to go to an enclosure and shoot the deer confined therein, nor a fisherman to catch trout conveniently placed in a pond. But to wade up a mountain brook all day long, climbing over slippery rocks, and enduring the discomforts of a hot sun and wet clothes, with nothing to eat, and only a few speckled trifles to reward him—that is what he considers “glorious sport.”

The instinctive perception that a thing is valued in proportion to the difficulty of its attainment is what taught women the “cunning to be strange.” Seeing that they could not compete with man in brute force, they acquired the arts of Beauty and of Coyness, as their best weapons against his superior strength—the Beauty to fascinate him, the Coyness to teach him that in Love, as in fishing, the pleasure of pursuit is the main thing.

116At first this Coyness was manifested in a very crude manner, as among the primitive maidens who hid in the forest; or among the Roman women celebrated by Ovid, who locked their door and compelled the lover to beg and whine for admission by the hour; or among the mediæval women who, to gratify their caprices and enjoy the sense of a newly-acquired power, sent their admirers to participate in bloody wars before recognising their addresses. And so coarse-grained were the men that as soon as the women ceased to tease they ceased to woo; as, for instance, in mediæval France, about the time of the Chansons de Geste, “the man who desires a woman yet does not appear as a wooer; for he knows he is certain of her favour,” as we read in Ploss. Hence Cleopatra’s brief and pointed rejoinder to Charmian when he advises her, in order to win Antony’s love, to give him way in everything, cross him in nothing: “Thou teachest like a fool; the way to lose him.”

(5) Procrastination.—Love at first sight is frequent at the present day, but in ancient Greece and Rome marriage at first sight appears to have been more common. The classical suitor’s wooing was generally comprised in three words: Veni, Vidi, Vici; i.e. I Came, Saw the girl’s father, Conquered his scruples by proving my wealth or social position. Sufficient brevity in this, no doubt: but brevity is not the soul of Love.

“Tant plus le chemin est long dans l’amour, tant plus un esprit délicat sent de plaisir,” says Pascal, announcing a truth of which ancient and mediæval nations had no conception until female Coyness taught it them. Goethe evidently had the same truth in mind when he mentioned as a phase of ancient love (Roman Elegies)—

“In der heroischen zeit, da Götter und Göttinen liebten
Folgte Begierde dem Blick folgte Genuss der Begier.”

That is, in prose, there were no preliminaries in the love-drama, which had only one act, the fifth, in which the marriage is celebrated.

Goldsmith on Love.—In Goldsmith’s Citizen of the World there is a chapter on “Whether Love be a Natural or Fictitious Passion,” in which reference is likewise made to the value of procrastination. As this passage shows Goldsmith to have been the first author who had an approximate conception of the development and psychology of Love, I will quote it almost entire. It is in the form of a dialogue, and one of the speakers remarks: "Whether love be natural or no ... it contributes to the happiness of every society 117in which it is introduced. All our pleasures are short and can only charm at intervals; love is a method of protracting our greatest pleasure; and surely that gamester who plays the greatest stake to the best advantage will, at the end of life, rise victorious. This was the opinion of Vanini, who affirmed that ‘every hour was lost which was not spent in love.’ His accusers were unable to comprehend his meaning; and the poor advocate for love was burned in flames; alas! no way metaphorical. But whatever advantages the individual may reap from this passion, society will certainly be refined and improved by its introduction; all laws calculated to discourage it tend to embrute the species, and weaken the state. Though it cannot plant morals in the human breast, it cultivates them when there: pity, generosity, and honour receive a brighter polish from its assistance; and a single amour is sufficient entirely to brush off the clown.

“But it is an exotic of the most delicate constitution: it requires the greatest art to introduce it into a state, and the smallest discouragement is sufficient to repress it again. Let us only consider with what ease it was formerly extinguished in Rome, and with what difficulty it was lately revived in Europe: it seemed to sleep for ages, and at last fought its way among us through tilts, tournaments, dragons, and all the dreams of chivalry. The rest of the world, China only excepted, are, and have ever been, utter strangers to its delights and advantages. In other countries, as men find themselves stronger than women, they lay a claim to rigorous superiority: this is natural, and love, which gives up this natural advantage, must certainly be the effect of art—an art calculated to lengthen out our happier moments, and add new graces to society.”

To this conclusion the lady interlocutor in the dialogue objects on the ground that “the effects of love are too violent to be the result of an artificial passion”; and suggests, by way of accounting for the absence of love, that “the same efforts that are used in some places to suppress pity, and other natural passions, may have been employed to extinguish love”; and that “those nations where it is cultivated only make nearer advances to nature.”

Goldsmith thus leaves it in doubt whether he considers Love a natural or an artificial passion. In the three passages which I have italicised, he errs: first, in saying that Love was “extinguished” in Rome, when in fact it never existed there, except incompletely in the poetic intuition of Ovid and possibly one or two other poets; secondly, he errs in remarking that it was lately 118“revived” in Europe, when in fact it was newly-born; and his excepting China, in speaking of the absence of Love, can only be looked on in the light of a joke in view of the absolute subjection of women to parental dictation, and the fact that, as one writer remarks, “a union prompted solely by love would be a monstrous infraction of the duty of filial obedience, and a predilection on the part of the female as heinous a crime as infidelity.” But his definition of Love as “the effect of art—an art calculated to lengthen out our happier moments and add new graces to society” is exceedingly good. The art in question is known as Courtship: and it is the latest of the fine arts, which even now exists in its perfection in two countries only—England and America. The Italian language has no equivalent for Courtship, as Professor Mantegazza tells us in his Fisiologia dell’ Amore; and a German commentator on this passage in Mantegazza comments dubiously: “Das Eutsprechende deutsche Wort dürfte wohl Werbung sein;” “the corresponding German word is presumably Werbung.” “Presumably” is very suggestive. Yet the Germans have another expression of mediæval origin apparently, namely, “Einem Mädchen den Hof machen”—"to pay court to a girl," which, though somewhat conversational, has evidently the same historic origin as our word Court-ship; implying that formerly it was the custom at court alone to prolong the agony of Love by gallant attentions to women, which enabled them to exercise the “cunning to be strange.”

Disadvantages of Coyness.—Beneficial as are no doubt the effects which have been brought about by female Coyness in developing the art of Courtship, there are corresponding evils inherent in that mental attitude which make it probable that Coyness will gradually disappear and be succeeded by something more modern, more natural, more refined.

There are four serious objections to Coyness, one from a masculine, three from a feminine point of view.

Men, in the first place, can hardly approve of Coyness; for it certainly indicates a coarse mediæval fibre in a man if he is obliged to confess that he can love a girl not for her beauty and amiability, but only because she tantalises and maltreats him:

“Spaniel-like, the more she spurns my love,
The more it grows and fawneth on her still.”

Or, in Heine’s delightful persiflage of this attitude—

“Ueberall wo du auch wandelst,
Schaust du mich zu allen Stunden,
119Und jemehr du mich misshandelst,
Treuer bleib ich dir verbunden.
“Denn mich fesselt holde Bosheit
Wie mich Güte stets vertrieben;
Willst du sicher meiner los sein
Musst du dich in mich verlieben.”

In one English sentence: Your amiability repels, your malice attracts me; if you wish to get rid of my attentions, you must fall in love with me.

If a refined man can feel ardent affection for an animal, a friend, a relative, without being “spurned” and consequently “fawning,” why should not the same be true of his love for a beautiful girl? It is true; and hence the cleverest women of the period, feeling this change in the masculine heart, have adopted a different method of fascinating men and bringing them to their feet, as we shall presently see.

Women, in turn, are injured by Coyness; first, because it makes them act foolishly. French and German girls are systematically taught to take immediate alarm at sight of a horrid man (whom they secretly consider a darling creature, with such a moustache) and conceal themselves behind their mamma or chaperon, like spring chickens creeping under the old hen at sight of a hawk. This sort of spring-chicken coyness does infinitely more harm than good; it makes the girls weak and frivolous, and as for the men, if they are systematically treated as birds of prey, how can they avoid falling in with their rôle? If men are to behave like gentlemen they must be treated as gentlemen, as they are in England and America.

Coyness, again, makes women deceitful and insincere. “Amongst her other feminine qualities,” says Thackeray of one of his characters, “she had that of being a perfect dissembler.” And in another place, “I think women have an instinct of dissimulation; they know by nature how to disguise their emotions far better than the most consummate courtiers can do.” It cannot be said that dissimulation is a virtue, though it may be a useful weapon against coarse and selfish men. If not the same thing as hypocrisy, it is next door to it; and it cannot have a beneficial effect on a woman’s general moral instincts if she is compelled constantly to act a part contrary to her convictions and feelings. Though as deeply in love as her suitor, she is commanded to treat him with indifference, coldness, even cruelty,—in a word, to do constant violence to her and his feelings, and to lacerate her own heart perhaps even more than the unhappy lover’s. Thus instead 120of mutually enjoying the period of Courtship, and indulging in harmless banter, “they gaze at each other fiercely, though ready to die for love”; or, as Heine puts it—

“Sie sahen sich an so feindlich,
Und wollten vor Liebe vergehen.”

And why all this perverseness, this unnaturalness, this emotional torture? Simply because—once more be it said—the men of former days, the men who lived on pork and port, who delighted in bear-baiting, cock-fights, and similar æsthetic amusements, had nerves so coarse and callous that to make any impression on them the women had to play with them as a cat does with a mouse to make it tender and sweet.

Coyness lessens Woman’s Love.—One more charge, the gravest of all, remains to be piled on top, as a last crushing argument against crude Coyness. An emotion, like a plant, requires for its growth sunshine, light, and open air; if kept in a dark cellar and stifled, it soon becomes weak and pale and languishes. Man’s superior strength and selfish exercise of it have compelled women to cultivate Coyness as an art of dissembling, hiding, and repressing their real feelings. But to repress the manifestations of anger, of pity, of Love, is to suppress them; hence Coyness has necessarily had the effect of weakening woman’s Love. It weakens it in the same proportion as it strengthens man’s. And hence, as I have said before, the current notion that women love more ardently, more deeply, than men is an absurd myth. The poets have always shown a predilection for this, as for all other myths; and as it is still served up as a self-evident truth in a thousand books every year, it is worth while to clear away the underbrush and let in some daylight on the subject.

Masculine versus Feminine Love.—One thing may be conceded at the outset: that woman’s Love, when once kindled, is apt to endure longer than man’s. Shakspere’s “’Tis brief, my Lord, as woman’s love” is therefore a libel on the sex. The difficulty is to get it under way. It takes so much of the small kindling wood of courtship (“sparking” it is called) to set a female heart aflame, that many men give it up in despair and remain bachelors; or else, like the young man in Fidelio, they finally tell their girl, “If you will not love me, at least marry me.”

It may also be conceded that Rousseau exaggerates when he says that “Women are a hundred times sooner reasonable than passionate: they are as unable to describe love as to feel it.” This may have been true in his day; but that there have since 121been some female authors who have correctly described Love, and thousands of women who have been deeply in Love, it would be absurd to deny. All that is here maintained is that Love is of less frequent occurrence in women than in men; and when it does occur in women it is not usually so deep, so passionate, so maddening. The average woman knows little of Romantic Love. She has read about it in novels, in poems, and thinks how delightful it must be. The faintest symptom is taken for an attack, just as in perusing a medical book people commonly fancy they have symptoms of the disease they chance to be reading about. Thus it happens that young girls so easily “fall in love,” as they imagine, and are ready to elope with the first music teacher or circus rider that comes along—

“A blockhead with melodious voice
In boarding-school may have his choice,
And oft the dancing-master’s art
Climbs from the toe to touch the heart.”—Swift.

It is quite probable that Coleridge was right when he wrote—

“For maids as well as youths have perished
From fruitless love too fondly cherished;”

although this does not seem to agree with the opinion of Shakspere and Thackeray regarding the rarity of broken lovers’ hearts. Morselli’s work on Suicide does not contain any definite statistics à propos; but I have seen the statement in a newspaper that in Italy, during 1883, thirty-six men and nine women committed suicide—four to one; and the proportion will appear larger still if it is remembered that girls often commit suicide from an anguish deeper than a refusal.

The myth that woman’s passion is deeper than man’s is commonly expressed in the form given to it by Byron: that in man’s life love is only an episode, whereas to a woman it is all in all. Allowing for poetic exaggeration, it does not at all follow that because a man does not brood all his life over Love, he therefore loves less. The fact that Goethe, the poet, also wrote treatises on botany and physics, and made landscape sketches, did not decrease the depth of his poetic feeling but added to it. For it is a fundamental law of psychology—except in pathologic cases—that continuous brooding over an emotion weakens and exhausts it; but after intervals of rest it emerges more fresh than ever. The various objects and ambitions that occupy man only serve to strengthen his feelings, his capacity for Love. That women are more easily swamped and carried away by emotions does not prove 122their feelings to be deeper, but themselves to be weaker. One lake may be entirely full, and yet not contain half as much water as a larger lake which is only half-full.

It was evidently with a vague desire to justify or excuse woman’s comparative weakness in Love that Ninon de L’Enclos wrote “Women and flowers are made to be loved for their beauty and sweetness, rather than themselves to love.” And that intelligent observer Mrs. Childs adds the weight of her feminine testimony by confessing her belief “That men more frequently marry for love than women.”

To remove all lingering doubt, consider the “overtones” of Love separately. Is woman ordinarily as absurdly or ferociously Jealous as man, or quite so Proud of her conquest? Is she so deeply absorbed in Admiration of his Personal Beauty? Is she as Gallant, and as ready for Sacrifices? or does she not rather take his devoted services for granted, and consider them rewarded by a smile or some other trifle? Indeed, the only element of Love which in woman is stronger than in man is Coyness; and Coyness, as has been shown, weakens woman’s Love in the same degree as it increases man’s.

Of course it would be unjust to attribute to the effects of Coyness all the difference between man’s and woman’s Love. Much is due to the physiologic law that emotional capacity—amorous included—depends on brain capacity (not on the “heart”); and man’s brain is more powerful than woman’s. But crude mediæval Coyness must bear a large share of the blame; and it is probable that now, having played its rôle of bringing men to terms and making them gallant and polite towards women, it will disappear gradually.

“Der Mohr hat seine Schuldigkeit gethan, Der Mohr kann gehen.”

Already, however, there is, especially in America and England, a superior class of women who, despising Coyness as crude, artificial, and silly, have adopted in its place a much more refined method of making men fall in love with them. In one word, they have substituted Flirtation for Coyness. As this statement will to many appear paradoxical, if not absurd, it is necessary first to distinguish between Flirtation and Coquetry before trying to justify it.

Flirtation and Coquetry.—These two words are so constantly confused by careless or ignorant writers that some girls are almost as much offended if accused of Flirtation as of Coquetry. It was bad enough for Winthrop to say that “A woman without coquetry 123is as insipid as a rose without scent, champagne without sparkle, or corned beef without mustard” (!), but there is no excuse whatever for “Ik Marvel’s” saying that “Coquetry whets the appetite; flirtation depraves it. Coquetry is the thorn that guards the rose (!), easily trimmed off when once plucked. Flirtation is like the slime on water-plants, making them hard to handle, and when caught only to be cherished in slimy waters.” No excuse, I say, because the dictionaries on our table tell us the very reverse. Flirtation, in Webster, is simply “playing at courtship,” without any cruel intentions; while Coquetry is an attempt “to attract admiration, and gain matrimonial offers, from a desire to gratify vanity, and with the intention to reject the suitor.”

That this is the correct definition is shown beyond question by the adjectives which are commonly coupled with those nouns: a “harmless Flirtation,” a “heartless Coquette.”

A Coquette seeks to fascinate for the sake of fascinating. Like a miser, she mistakes the means for the end, and feeds on one-sided passion and admiration, until one morning she wakes up and finds her beauty gone, and herself the most disappointed and unamiable of old maids. Or again, she might be compared to a bank clerk who refused his salary because he was satisfied with the tinkling of the money which he heard all day long. The Flirt, on the other hand, displays her accomplishments, her wit, and personal charms, for the sake of enlarging the facilities of Courtship, the possibilities of rational Choice.

One reason why Flirtation and Coquetry are so apt to be confounded is because the English peoples alone have the word Flirtation—naturally enough, as they alone allow their young people the blessings of Courtship and rational choice promoted by it. Foreigners, not appreciating exactly what is meant by the word, are apt to translate it as Coquetry. One Frenchman, who has lived long in England, has tried to define Flirtation for his countrymen by saying it consisted of “attentions without intentions.” This definition was widely welcomed as very clever. Clever it may be, but it is a definition of Coquetry not of Flirtation. For Flirtation never excludes possible intentions.

Flirtation versus Coyness.—Flirtation, from the feminine point of view, may be defined as the art of fascinating a man and leaving him in doubt whether he is loved or not. There is no reason why a beautiful and bright girl should not charm, i.e. flirt with, every man who interests her, and to whom she has been properly introduced. No reason why she should not dispense her sweet smiles with complete impartiality, until she has made up her 124mind whom she wishes to marry. In so far as Coyness simply means reserve and dignity, she will of course still be coy; but she will not run away to conceal herself in the forest, or lock the front door, or hide behind a chaperon’s back, or affect to be cynically indifferent to men, or treat the one she likes best with affected cruelty. With refined men of the period Flirting, i.e. fascinating and leaving in doubt, is quite as effective in kindling adoration to ecstasy as crude Coyness was with the coarse-fibred men of the past. Flirtation, indeed, is much more tantalising than Coyness, and therefore a complete modern substitute for it.

There is a passage in Hume’s Dissertation on the Passions which, though occurring in a different connection, strikes home the truth of the last sentence most forcibly. “Uncertainty,” he says, “has the same effect as opposition. The agitation of the thought, the quick turns which it makes from one view to another, the variety of passions which succeed each other, according to the different views: all these produce an agitation in the mind; and this agitation transfuses itself into the predominant passion. Security, on the other hand, diminishes the passions. The mind, when left to itself, immediately languishes; and in order to preserve its ardour, must be supported every moment by a new flow of passion.”

Of course to those of a girl’s admirers who are for a while left in doubt and finally “get left” altogether, female flirtation may seem a cruel pastime. But there is a sort of historic justice in this torture which, indeed, almost amounts to an excuse for Coquetry; it is a species of feminine revenge for the long centuries of slavery in which muscular man held weak woman. Besides, no man has ever died of a broken heart, except in novels. And, again, who is to blame a pretty girl for having fascinated an unsuccessful lover? A rose yields its fragrance and beauty to all who wish to admire it. If a conceited young man comes along, imagines that all its beauty is for him alone, and tries to pluck it, he has only himself to blame if he feels the thorn of disappointment.

When Lord Chesterfield wrote, “I assisted at the birth of that most significant word ‘flirtation,’ which dropped from the most beautiful mouth in the world,” he perhaps hardly realised how very significant a factor of social life Flirtation was destined to become. Mr. Galton wrote, not long ago, that without female Coyness “there would be no more call for competition among the males for the favour of the females; no more fighting for love in which the strongest male conquers; no more rival display of 125personal charms in which the best-looking or best-mannered prevails. The drama of courtship, with its prolonged strivings and doubtful success, would be cut quite short, and the race would degenerate through the absence of that sexual selection for which the protracted preliminaries for love-making give opportunity.” When Mr. Galton wrote this, he did not apparently realise the social revolution that is going on, or understand that frank and natural Flirtation, which recognises every man as a gentleman until he has proved the contrary, affords much better opportunity for Sexual Selection and “protracted preliminaries of love-making” than crude, hypocritical, unnatural Coyness, which regards every gentleman as a beast of prey and a libertine.

Flirtation being the modern art of widening the field of amorous competition and prolonging the duration of Courtship, it follows that there cannot be too much of it—quantitatively speaking. Qualitatively it easily degenerates into frivolity, as in the case of those girls who get engaged repeatedly before marriage, which shows a lack of judgment, of tact, and especially of delicacy, because a peach should never be touched on the tree but allowed to retain its first blush for the man who is to eat it.

Refined flirtation, in truth, requires much more wit, more tact and culture, than Coyness, or than Prudery, which is the north-pole of Coyness. Prudery bears much resemblance to the artificial dignity of a certain class of young men who, by means of persistent reticence, gain a reputation for aristocratic and cynical superiority. Coquetry even is preferable to Prudery, for it is at any rate entertaining.

To sum up this matter in one sentence: The coy Prude says No, even when she means Yes; the cold Coquette says Yes and always means No; the modest and refined Flirt says neither Yes nor No, but looks and smiles a sweet “Perhaps—if you can win my Love.”

Modern Courtship.—What a grotesque and topsy-turvy parody of history it is, this modern comedy of Courtship, in which the man is the slave and walks on his knees! And how gracefully the newly-crowned girl-queen plays her rôle, little suspecting that in the next act the husband will probably throw away his self-assumed mask, and insist again on his historic rights as lord and master of the household!

The shock which follows this transition from the romance of Courtship to the realism of conjugal life is much the greatest in the case of the Prude. The Coquette need not be considered; she was born without a heart, and marriage will not give her one. 126But the Prude often owes her unnaturalness solely to an absurd educational system, and may be at heart the best of women. Previous to marriage she is taught to rely on passive Coyness to arouse the desires of man. After marriage, when she yields herself up, body and soul, she loses this weapon, the lover recovers his courage and lowers the pitch of his devotional ecstasy. This alarms the girl, who eagerly endeavours to recover the romantic Adoration by trying to please and coax and caress. But pleasing—or active fascination—being an art which she never has practised, she does it in a bungling way—overdoes it, in fact—thus increasing the husband’s indifference. Had she learned the art of refined Flirtation, i.e. active fascination with wit and accomplishments, this domestic tragedy would never have been enacted. Her skill and tact would then have enabled her to preserve her husband’s Gallantry, by supplying a constant variety and novelty in those feminine charms and graces in which a superior woman is as fertile as a man of genius in ideas.

By her extremely reserved and passive attitude during Courtship the Prude not only mars the probabilities of conjugal happiness, she also weakens her own Love directly, through Coyness, and indirectly, by making the man too servile and over-anxious to worship. For if a man immediately yields up his sword and proclaims himself fatally stabbed by a white wench’s black eye, there can be in her mind none of those small obstacles and doubts which, like short absences, increase Love. Love-making should be a duel of wit and mutual fascination. The Flirt does her part of the fencing; the Prude simply hides behind her shield and waits to see if the man can break it, or coax her to throw it away. With a Flirt a man need not be a servile worshipper, but he may be a Flirt likewise: which is a much more desirable attitude, not only because male flirtation will fan the woman’s Love into a brighter flame through the stimulus of uncertainty, but also because it enables the man to preserve his dignity. Hence Beatrix’s pointed advice to Henry Esmond: “Shall I be frank with you, Harry, and say that if you had not been down on your knees, and so humble, you might have fared better with me? A woman of my spirit, cousin, is to be won by gallantry and not by sighs and rueful faces. All the time you are worshipping I know very well I am no goddess, and grow weary of the incense.”

The girl of the period is the girl who flirts, and who expects every eligible man to take up her challenge for a tournament of wit and playing at Courtship. The reason why there is much 127more Romantic Love in America and England than in other countries is because there is more Flirtation, more opportunity for Courtship. On the Continent young folks are too constantly regarded from the marriage point of view. In Italy and France, when a young lady comes back from boarding-school, she is married as quickly as possible before she has had a chance to fall in love with a man of her choice. Consequence: she falls in love after marriage, and not always with her husband. In Germany a young lady is allowed to see young men and even to walk with them in the street, in the daytime or in the evening, if properly chaperoned; but under no circumstances will she take a young man’s arm, for that would imply an engagement. In America it is otherwise; but even there, in the South, it is taken for granted that if a young man calls on a young lady three or four times he can have no other object than to marry her. His object may be to marry, but not necessarily her. What he wants is to become acquainted, and if acquaintance “by summer’s ripening breath” blossoms into Love, so much the better; if not, it is a thousand times better he should be allowed to depart in peace than that two beings should be mated who do not feel really sympathetic and companionable. How is a young man to find his Juliet if he is not allowed to see a number of women, without being called fickle? And how is Juliet to find her Romeo, if mothers frighten young men into bachelorhood by such absurd customs?

The word Courtship, in fact, should have a wider meaning than it has now. It should be almost synonymous with Flirtation, which provides the means of bringing together, from a wide circle of acquaintances, two beings who are really suited to each other, instead of two whom blind chance, a few “calls,” or the advantages of intimacy resulting from cousinship, have fortuitously mated for a life of probable conjugal misery.

Plato’s advice that opportunity should be given to the sexes to become acquainted before marriage is much more followed to-day than at any previous time in the world’s history; but there is still vast room for improvement.


Jealousy may be defined as a painful emotion on noticing, or imagining, that some one dear to us loves another more than us. Unlike affection in general, and like sympathy, it therefore necessarily refers to a sentient being and a possible reciprocation of affection. It is a form of rivalry, of which there are two kinds: 128rivalry for the possession of an object or a position; and rivalry for the first place in a person’s affections. The first is not incompatible with friendship, for two rival candidates for a political office or a college fellowship are not necessarily personal enemies. But the second kind, which, when allied with doubt is called Jealousy, is a deadly enemy of good-will; and there is probably no cause that has broken so many friendships as the “green-eyed monster,” among women no less than among men.

Modern psychology agrees with St. Augustine that “he that is not jealous, is not in love.” There can be no love without Jealousy—potential at any rate, for in the absence of provocation it may perhaps never manifest itself. But there can be Jealousy without love, i.e without sexual love; for that passion is often aroused in connection with other kinds of affection—parental, filial, etc. Stories are told of dogs practically committing suicide by disappearing or pining away if displaced by a younger pet in the affection of a family; and those who have seen specimens of canine jealousy find nothing improbable in these stories. Yet as a rule all these general forms of jealousy—as when a husband is jealous of his wife if the children show her special favour, or as when a mother is jealous of a visitor loved by her children—are mere trifles compared with sexual Jealousy, romantic and conjugal. It is in painting this form of Jealousy that poets have exhausted the strength of language. “Of all the passions in the mind thou vilest art,” says Spenser of this “king of torments,” “the injured lover’s hell.” With this, when once the lover’s mind is affected—

“’Tis then delightful misery no more,
But agony unmixt, incessant gall.”
“But, O, what damnéd minutes tells he o’er
Who dotes, yet doubts, suspects, yet strongly loves.”

In the animal kingdom sexual Jealousy and rivalry play so important a part that Darwin attributes to their agency the superior size and strength (in most classes) of the male over the female. Among savages, as has been pointed out, we see sometimes a curious absence of Jealousy, both as regards brides and wives; whereas in other cases, the passion manifests itself with brutal ferocity. Thus among the American Indians infidelity is sometimes punished by cutting off the nose, sometimes by the shearing of the hair, which is considered a great disgrace. On the Fiji Islands, Waitz tells us, the wives of a polygamist “lead a life of bitter strife and commit ... the most atrocious cruelties against one another from hate and Jealousy; biting or cutting off 129the nose is quite a common occurrence.” Stanley, in his work on the Congo, remarks that the Langa-Langa women scar their faces and busts in a hideous manner, probably because compelled to do so by the Jealousy of the men. In Hebrew literature the case of Jacob’s two wives urging him of their own accord to become still further polygamous, presents a strange example of this passion being neutralised by other motives. What prompted the ancient Greeks, and what prompts Oriental nations to this day, to keep their women under lock and key, was, and is, of course, simply a perverse and ignorant feeling of Jealousy. In this feeling also, no doubt, originated the Chinese custom compelling women to mutilate their feet to prevent them from going about; as well as the custom indulged in until recently by Japanese ladies of shaving off their eyebrows and blackening their teeth after marriage—a custom which shows how much stronger Jealousy must be than Admiration of Personal Beauty in the affection of these nations. No doubt, however, all these excesses and cruelties of Jealousy are counter-balanced by the good it has done in enforcing the laws of morality.

Civilisation does not weaken sexual Jealousy, but only gives it a less brutal form of manifesting itself. Conjugal Jealousy still produces the greatest number of domestic tragedies, of which Othello is the immortal type. It is already typified in Hera, for, as Zeus says in Homer, “She is always meddling, whatever I may be about.” But then she had good cause to meddle in the affairs of this Olympian Don Juan.

Lovers’ Jealousy.—As for Lovers’ Jealousy proper, there is reason to believe that it will grow stronger and more common as general culture advances. For the men who are most ahead of our century emotionally, the men of genius, are usually very jealous. Heine’s Jealousy went so far that he even poisoned a poor parrot of whom his Mathilde was extravagantly fond; and it is probable that Byron’s savage attack on the Waltz was dictated by a sort of wholesale Jealousy in regard to all pretty girls. For in Love Byron was omnivorous.

The lover’s and the husband’s Jealousy are alike in their extreme sensitiveness—

“Trifles light as air
Are to the jealous confirmations strong
As proofs of holy writ;”

nor is there probably any difference in the intenseness of their agony.

To the lover Jealousy is not only his greatest torture, but also his deadliest enemy. With this fever in his blood even the man of the world who knows his “Ars Amoris” by heart, is apt to ruin 130his cause by excess of blind rivalry and clumsy passion: which perhaps explains why so many great men have been refused by their best loves. To endure and ignore a rival is, as Ovid already declared, the highest and most difficult achievement in the Art of Love; as for himself, he frankly admits, he was unequal to it.

There are several ways in which lovers ruin their chances by awkward excess of passion. It makes them appear selfish and unamiable; and the pallor which Jealousy inspires is not that which makes a girl consider a man “interesting,” and leads her through pity to Love. If the lover is not yet accepted, his Jealousy arouses her opposition, because he seems to take it for granted that he has a right to be jealous, and that she will necessarily accept him. Again, his attitude repels her by suggesting that he would indulge in impertinent supervision and tyrannical dictation after marriage. Even if he has successfully proposed, she does not like to have him make his victory and prospective ownership so conspicuous by his jealous glances and manœuvres. Besides, a fascinating girl likes to preserve her apparent freedom as long as possible, and let others admire her beauty while it lasts.

Most fatal is it for a man to assume a jealous attitude towards a woman before he has been able to inspire her with interest in him. Her indifference will thus be inevitably changed into positive dislike. For, as Madame de Coulanges says, “L’on ne veut de la jalousie que de ceux dont on pourrait être jalouse”—We do not desire any jealousy except from those for whom we could ourselves feel jealousy. Stendhal, who quotes this aphorism, adds a reason why women may be gratified by a display of Jealousy: “Jealousy may please proud women, as a new way of showing them their power.” And to a woman in love and in doubt, the man’s Jealousy, which is so easily detected, is of course a most welcome symptom of conquest.

For Jealousy is the first sign of Love, as it is also the last. If a man is in doubt whether he is really in Love with a girl or only admires her beauty, let him observe her when talking or dancing with another man: if he then feels “queer”—from a mere uneasiness to a desire to pulverise the other fellow—he may be assured that his emotion has passed the borderline which separates disinterested æsthetic admiration from the desire for exclusive possession which is popularly known as Love.

Conversely, if a man who has been repeatedly refused, or who for some other reason endeavours to suppress his passion, feels in doubt whether the cure is complete, he need only imagine his former love in the arms of another man, or before the altar with 131him: if that does not make him turn pale and frown and bite his lips, he is cured. This test, however, is not so certain as the other, for sometimes Jealousy outlives Love; and Longfellow believed that every true passion leaves an eternal scar.

Like Coyness, Jealousy is a discord in the harmony of Love. A little of it is piquant and rouses desire. “Jealousy,” says Hume, “is a painful passion, yet without some share of it the agreeable affection of love has difficulty to subsist in all its force and violence.... Jealousy and absence in love compose the dolce piccante of the Italians, which they suppose so essential to all pleasure.”

Unfortunately, Jealousy is rarely content to remain “agreeably piquant,” but is apt to grow into a tornado of passion which devastates body and soul, and makes it the keenest agony known to mankind. It is often said that the agony inspired by a refusal is the only thing that excuses tears in a man. This agony is a mixed emotion, including wounded Pride and the sense of having lost all that makes life worth living. But its keenest sting comes from the green-eyed monster, who hisses into the lover’s ears that now a rival will enjoy her sweetness and beauty. Dante did not correctly describe the lowest depth of hell: it is this thought in the lover’s mind that “now another will marry her.” It is that thought which drives lovers to lunatic asylums and suicide.

“Some lines I read the other day,” Keats wrote to Fanny Brawne, "are continually ringing a peal in my ears—

“To see those eyes I prize above mine own
Dart Favours on another—
And those sweet lips (yielding immortal nectar)
Be gently press’d by any but myself—
Think, think, Francesca, what a cursed thing
It were beyond expression.”

“Get thee to a nunnery,” would be every lover’s advice to the girl who rejected him. If she obeyed, his agony would be diminished one-half.

But why, if he cannot have her, should she not make some one else happy? Because Jealousy is the one absolutely selfish trait of Love. The lover who in other respects is the very model of altruism and Self-Sacrifice is in point of jealous rivalry for possession an absolute egotist to whom even her happiness is torture if he cannot share it. Is this an aberration of Lovers’ Sympathy, or does it mark its climax? The answer will be found in the chapter on Sympathy.

Retrospective and Prospective Jealousy.—There are three kinds 132of modern Jealousy—Retrospective, Present, and Prospective. The rejected lover’s Jealousy is of the third kind; it refers not to what is, but to what will or may be. Another variety of Prospective Jealousy is illustrated by a story told in a Moscow journal of an old peasant who married a young girl of whom he was very jealous. On his deathbed he expressed a desire to give her a last kiss. But hardly had she touched him, when he seized her under lip and fastened his teeth so tightly in it that a knife had to be used to pry them open. With his dying breath he confessed that his object had been to mutilate her, so that no one else might marry her.

Is it not possible that the custom of burning widows in India was at first an outcome of the Jealousy of some influential ruler who set the fashion?

Present Jealousy does not call for any special remarks, but Retrospective Jealousy has some curious features. It is entirely non-existent not only among those savage tribes who scorn virgin brides, but among some semi-civilised peoples in Africa and Asia where the men prefer to marry women with a dowry, no matter how they may have earned it.

In modern love Retrospective Jealousy is often very strong, especially in men who, though they do not hesitate to marry a girl who has been engaged before, would not care to dwell on the details of the previous engagement. Women, too, have been known to indulge in this futile form of Jealousy. Thus Heine relates in one of his letters that at the special request of his Mathilde, he got her a copy of the French edition of his Pictures of Travel. “But hardly had she read a few pages, when she turned deadly pale, trembled in all her limbs, and begged me for heaven’s sake to close the book. She had come upon a love-scene in it, and jealous as she is, she does not even want me to have adored another before her régime; indeed, I had to promise her that in future I would not address any language of love even to the imaginary ideal personages in my books.”

The trouble with Heine is that one never knows exactly when he is relating facts and when indulging in fun and fiction. As a rule, certainly women are not much troubled by Jealousy regarding the past. If the lover promises to be a good boy in future and give them a monopoly of his adoration, they are rarely disquieted by the question, “Has he been in love before?” Indeed, there is a current notion that women admire a man all the more for being a Don Juan or professional lady-killer. Perhaps, however, this is putting the cart before the horse: for, instead of admiring him 133because he is a lady-killer, is it not possible that he is a lady-killer because they all admire him?

Yet some truth there seems to be in that old notion regarding gay Lotharios; for the average woman’s ideal man still wears a certain mediæval military cast: he is conceived as a muscular dare-devil, reckless, irresistible, a universal conqueror of female hearts as well as of other fortresses.

Jealousy and Beauty.—As Love becomes more and more idealised, i.e. transferred to the imagination, its overtones combine and produce various new emotional clang-tints—sometimes agreeable, sometimes harsh and dissonant. Among the Japanese and Chinese, as just stated, Jealousy neutralises the Admiration of Personal Beauty to such an extent as to breed indifference to shaved eyebrows, black teeth, deformed feet, and a consequent utter absence of grace in gait. But there is a more subtle way in which Jealousy may cast a cloud on Personal Admiration, even in a refined Western imagination. Once in a while it happens to a sensitive man, a worshipper of Beauty, that he beholds a vision of grace and loveliness—perhaps in a ballroom, perhaps in a theatre or the street. But this sight instead of delighting him, gives him a painful sting in the heart. Partly, this paradoxical sadness of a discoverer may be due to the sudden fancy that this fairylike being perhaps will never again cross his field of vision. Yet it seems more likely that the tinge of pain which o’ercasts the rosy feelings of Admiration is due to Jealousy, especially if she is seen in company with a man. For a moment the Beauty-worshipper fancies himself in that man’s place; the next moment the consciousness of isolation flashes on his mind, and the reaction brings out the painful contrast between what is and what might be. For man, as Mr. Howells has remarked, is still imperfectly monogamous. He has occasional visions of a Mahometan heaven peopled with black-eyed Houris; or envies the knight in Heine’s poem, who lies on the beach and enjoys the caresses of the mermaids, who come and kiss him because they know not that he only pretends to be asleep.

That the Beauty-worshipper’s sadness is due to a vague Jealousy seems the more probable from the fact that the same feeling never tinges his admiration of a living Apollo of masculine perfection. Whether women ever have the same emotions remains for them to tell.


In the case of this trait of Love, PriorityPriority of discovery obviously 134belongs to the author of these lines—

“Love, well thou knowest, no partnership allows,
Cupid averse rejects divided vows.”

Monopoly, the imperious desire for exclusive devotion and possession, is the mother of Jealousy. Though less grim and melancholy than her son, she is equally presumptuous and meddlesome, and woe to the man who will so much as breathe or smile upon what she claims as hers. Monopoly, like Jealousy, is one of the selfish elements of Love. All lovers join hands and declaim in unison the words of Jean Paul: “What pleases us is to see her shrink from everybody else, growing hard and frozen to them on our account, handing them nothing but ices and cold pudding, but serving us with the glowing goblet of love.”

Historically, Monopoly is of the utmost significance, since in it is rooted monogamy, which, as previously explained, probably originated in exogamous Capture giving a man the right to exclusive possession of one woman in communities where, as one writer puts it, every man might claim “a thousand miles of wives.”

The desire for exclusiveness, for undivided worship, sometimes enters into non-sexual affections; and an anonymous writer has suggested that the main reason why Byron was so devoted to his dog was because the dog was “a creature exclusively devoted to himself, and hostile to every one else.”

Yet all this is child’s play compared with the imperious form Monopoly assumes in Modern Romantic Love. In the fever-heat of his passion the lover’s chief desire is to be cast on a desert island, and remain there all alone with her. “On ne se soucie plus de ce que dit le monde,” says Pascal; public opinion is scorned; all social feelings annihilated. Relatives and friends exist no longer—what are they to him? his pet occupations bore him; and there is only one thought which fascinates—the picture of a small and cosy house, all his own, a small parlour with one sofa, barely large enough for two, a book of poems in very fine print, compelling two heads to touch in reading from it, and a breakfast-table with only two chairs; all visitors excluded from the unsocial atmosphere, because “three are a crowd.” ’Tis a “double selfishness,” doubly as strong as single selfishness.

Surely Emerson—as the German professor did with the camel—evolved his idea of a lover from his inner consciousness. “All mankind love a lover,” he exclaims. Obviously he had never seen a lover. The fact is that all the world thinks a lover a 135tremendous and ridiculous bore—a man whose whole mind is monopolised by one unvarying topic—her perfections and his chances of winning her; and who stubbornly insists on monopolising your attention, too, with that everlasting exclusive topic. Like every other lunatic he has one fixed idea; and it’s no wonder the poets always paint him blind, like Cupid; for on the wide, wide ocean of humanity, he sees nothing with his two big eyes but one little solitary transient bubble.

In this matter, it must be admitted, woman’s Love is superior to man’s. “Oh, Arthur,” says Ella, in the Fliegende Blätter, “how happy I would be alone with you on a quiet island in the distant ocean!” “Have you any other desire, dearest Ella?” “Oh yes, do get me a season ticket for the opera.”

True Love is transient.—Boswell tells us that Johnson “laughed at the notion that a man can never be really in love but once, and considered it a mere romantic fancy.” And though this romantic fancy is as current as ever in society and literature, Johnson was right in his verdict, as usual.

True Love, indeed, is absolutely exclusive of every other Love while it lasts; but it rarely lasts more than two or three years; and then the heart, freed from one monopoly, is ready for another, perhaps even more tyrannical, while it lasts.

That Love is transient is most fortunate, for it is, in its truest and most ardent form, such a consuming fever, that the strongest man would not be able to endure its mingled ecstasies and anguish more than a few years. The lover’s fancies are his only food; coarser nourishment he scorns; he loses his appetite, and becomes “pale and interesting”—to women, who like to see a powerful man thus wincing under their superior might, and melting away before their radiant beauty.

Yet its transitoriness detracts not in the least from the magic and the charm of Love. It is in the life of man what the flowering period is in the life of a plant. As, for the sake of its fragrant blossoms, a plant is tenderly nursed and watered weeks and months though it flowers but a week; so, even if brief Love were the only flower of life, yet would life be worth living for its sake alone.

How long Love may last depends on individuals and circumstances. Sainte-Beuve, I believe, has said that it never can outlive five years. Favouring circumstances are slight obstacles, rivalries and jealousies, short absences, etc.; while long absences, the distractions of travel, professional occupations, etc., tend to shorten it. In uninterrupted absence, without epistolary encouragement, the most ardent Love would hardly survive a year, 136unless the lover lived on a desert island, with no other woman to engross his attention. Return, however, is apt to bring on a relapse, as with Henry Esmond, who “went away from his mistress, and was cured a half-dozen times; he came back to her side, and instantly fell ill again of the fever.”

Thus it is the fate of all unrequited Love to die for want of food; or, if successful, to leave the stormy ocean of passion and sail into the more tranquil haven of conjugal affection.

Woman’s Love is less transient than man’s, because there are fewer ambitions to neutralise it.

Is First Love best?—If Love’s Monopoly lasted for life, if passion were not transient, it would follow that most men would marry, or endeavour to marry, the schoolgirls who were the first object of their amorous attentions. But is there one man in a hundred, is there one in three hundred, who marries his first Love? Cases are known of men of genius who fell in love at an age varying from six to nine years; and there are few lads, in America at any rate, and if they have an artistic temperament, who do not have their cases of “calf-love,” beginning with their tenth or twelfth year.

A boy’s first Love is a girl of about his own age, towards whom he shyly makes his way by offering her an apple, a bunch of wild strawberries, or a large hailstone picked up during a storm before her eyes, to impress her with his reckless Gallantry and courage. The second and third loves—for schoolboys are fickle, and schoolgirls more so—are probably not different in character from the first. At fifteen and sixteen, boys scorn girls of their own age, and fall in love with young married women, Troubadour-like. Perhaps the Dulcinea is a Spanish beauty, with large thrilling black eyes, who, seeing the poor cub’s infatuation, teases and tortures him to distraction with her unfathomable wealth of fascination.

And let no one imagine that these cases of early passion are anything short of true Romantic Love. For follow that poor boy enamoured of the Spanish brunette; see him hiding himself in a lonely forest, gazing with rapture on her photograph—perhaps only with his mind’s eye—throwing himself on the ground in an anguish of tears, wishing that either he was dead ... or her husband ... and behaving altogether like a premature Werther.

Such is calf—beg pardon—first Love. And is this first Love best of all? Perhaps, in one respect, and in one only: it believes in its own unchangeableness. Goethe remarks in his autobiography that nothing is so calculated to make us disgusted with life “as a return of Love.... The notion of the eternal and infinite, 137which forms its basis and support, is destroyed; it appears to us transitory, like everything that recurs.”

Heine on First Love.—Heinrich Heine, whose poetry is next to Shakspere’s the most valuable depository of Modern Love, enlarges on this question in his fragmentary but admirable Analysis of Shakspere’s Female Characters: "Love is a flickering flame between two darknesses ... [the dots are in the original]. Whence comes it?... From sparks incredibly small.... How does it end?... In nothingness equally incredible.... The more raging the flame, the sooner it is burnt out.... Yet that does not prevent it from abandoning itself entirely to its fiery impulses, as if this flame were to burn eternally....

"Alas, when we are seized a second time in life by the grand passion, we lack this faith in its immortality, and painful memories tell us that in the end it will consume itself. Hence the melancholy by which second differs from first love.... In first love we fancy our passion can only end with death; and indeed, if the threatening difficulties in our way cannot be removed in any other manner, we readily make up our mind to accompany our beloved to the grave.... But in second love the thought occurs to us that time will change our wildest and most ecstatic feelings to a tame, apathetic state; that these eyes, these lips, these contours, which now throw us into transports of rapture, will some day be regarded with indifference. This thought, alas! is more melancholy than a presentiment of death.... It is a disconsolate feeling, in the midst of intoxication, to think of the sober, frigid moments that will follow, and to know from experience that these ultra-poetic, heroic passions will have such a lamentably prosaic ending....

“I do not, in the least, presume to find fault with Shakspere, yet cannot but express my surprise that he makes Romeo enamoured of Rosaline before he brings him face to face with Juliet. Though absolutely devoted to his second love, there yet dwells in his soul a certain scepticism, which finds utterance in ironic expressions, and not rarely reminds one of Hamlet. Or is second love the stronger in a man for the very reason that it is paired with lucid self-consciousness? A woman cannot love twice, her nature is too tender to endure a second time the terrific emotional earthquake. Look at Juliet! Would she be able a second time to endure those ecstatic delights and horrors, a second time suppress her fear and empty the dreadful cup? In my opinion once is enough for this poor, blessed creature, this pure martyr to a great passion.”

First Love is not best.—Thus even Heine, while lamenting the 138transitoriness of Love, cannot help suggesting that in man, at any rate, second Love may be stronger than first. On this point it is curious to note the difference of opinion among thoughtful writers. La Bruyère declares that “we can love well once only—the first time; the loves which follow are less involuntary.” Another French author, Letourneau, on the contrary, thinks that one love-affair only whets the appetite for more: “on a besoin de vivre fort;” and hence “an expiring passion ordinarily leaves the ground admirably prepared for the germination of another passion.” Stendhal held that a young girl of eighteen, “owing to her inadequate experience of life, is not comprehensive enough in her desires to be able to love with as much passion as a woman of twenty-eight;”twenty-eight;” and a lady-friend having objected to this on the ground that in her first love a girl must love more ardently because her feelings are not distracted by doubt and distrust, as they are subsequently, he replied that this very méfiance, in its struggle with love, will make it come out a thousand times more brilliant and substantial than the gay and thoughtless first love.”love.” Mr. P. G. Hamerton seems to cast his vote in the same urn, for he thinks, “it is, indeed, one of the signs of a healthy nature to retain for many years the freshness of the heart which makes one liable to fall in love, as a healthy palate retains the natural early taste for delicious fruits.” And, finally, George Eliot asks: “How is it that the poets have said so many fine things about our first love, so few about our later love? Are their first poems their best? or are not those the best which come from their fuller thought, their larger experience, their deeper-rooted affections? The boy’s flute-like voice has its own spring charm; but the man should yield a richer, deeper music.”

So doctors evidently disagree. But the facts that Heine is in doubt, that the greatest authority makes Romeo’s unparalleled passion his second love, and that even Werther’s famous love, notwithstanding Goethe’s theory, is not his first, certainly make the scale incline in favour of a second or later passion.

“Now old desire doth in his deathbed lie,
And young affection gapes to be his heir;
That fair for which love groaned for, and would die,
With tender Juliet matched, is now not fair.”

These last two lines suggest the whole psychology of First Love. Romeo’s first Love was not his best Love. When his soul had reached manly maturity, and looked about for a proper object of affection, he did not at once have the good luck to encounter his Juliet. Rosaline was the nearest approach to his ideal; so he 139worked himself into a semi-fictitious passion and groaned for her, and would die, until suddenly he saw his real ideal, and found that his first passion was a fragile soap-bubble in comparison to his true Love for Juliet, which no rival could have altered one speck.

In his first Love, in a word, he had fallen in love with the species, rather than with an individual. Sexual Selection, or Individual Preference, had come in more as a matter of chance than of decisive, final choice. And so it is with most cases of first love. Man falls in Love with woman, woman with man, not with a particular man or woman. Thus it is that at an early age thousands of impatient youths marry their Rosalines before they have had time or opportunity to meet their Juliets. Doubtless there is a Juliet for every man in the world; but it generally happens that she does not attend the same school, work in the same manufactory, or live in the same village, or belong to the same city-clique as he does; so, being less adventurous than Romeo, who went outside of his clique for a sort of exogamous marriage by Capture, he weds his first Love, i.e. his Rosaline; and this is one of the reasons why so few cases of true Romantic Love are encountered even to-day, outside of novels.

Most marriages, in truth, are brought about through accidental acquaintance or companionship, not through Love. Suppose that a score of young men who have never loved were cast on a desert island with one pretty girl. Though she were as unamiable as Juno, cold and coy as Diana, in less than a month nineteen of the twenty youths would be in love with her and bitter personal enemies. Here the man would fall in love with the woman; the fundamental tone of passion would prevail; whereas if there had been a choice, eighteen of those men perhaps would never have dreamed of proposing to that girl. Now second Love is much more apt to be thus influenced by Individual Preference than first; and the more Love is individualised the deeper it is. Failure to find lasting satisfaction in the first choice makes a man more slow and cautious in his second choice.

At the same time the mind expands and grows, and age strengthens not only the intellect but the emotions as well. For his size, a boy may love as ardently as a man; but the man is bigger.

The history of the race agrees with that of the individual in showing that Love at first is a general passion, only slightly discriminative, but becomes more and more so as time goes on.

Even the objection urged against second Love by Goethe and Heine appears of no special significance when brought face to face with facts. Very few men, if any, who are in Love a second or 140third time, sit in a corner to muse over the transitoriness of passion till they become “disgusted with life.” On the contrary, they feel convinced that the preceding infatuation was, after all, not real indomitable Love, such as they now experience towards Daisy No. 2; which second infatuation they absolutely know is the genuine article; just as they know that no one ever before loved so deeply and devotedly. This naïve self-confidence of the lover in the unprecedented ardour and uniqueness of his passion is one of the most sublime and ridiculous aspects of Love.

And here it may be said, for the benefit of timid souls who may possibly fear that harm may result to the cause of Love from exposing its perishableness, that the only persons who could be injured by the destruction of this illusion—those who happen to be in Love—will positively and absolutely refuse to believe that their particular passion is fugitive. They will simply laugh in the face of any one who questions the immortality of their Love; and a year or two later, perhaps, they will laugh again—for a different reason.

Indeed, the notion that true Love never dies and will for ever monopolise the soul, may actually do harm, and sometimes does so. The disappointed lover commits suicide not because his torments seem intolerable for the moment, but because he is convinced they will last for ever, and thus make life not worth living.

A review of the situation brings out the truth that the only apparent advantage which First Love has over later passions is Novelty. Yet even this advantage proves to be illusory; for though the Second Love may not be a novelty, the Girl is; and does not Moore, the modern Anakreon, sing—

“Enough for me that she’s a new one”?

One more consideration. There is an adage, not entirely unknown, that practice makes perfect; and psychology teaches that feelings tend to become deeper by repetition. Why should Love be an exception? The channels worn in the brain by the first emotions will be reopened and widened by the new flood of passion; and thus remembered emotion will add its force to that of the present moment.

Has the reader ever heard Wagner’s Nibelung Tetralogy? If so, he will remember with what a thrill of delight he recognised in the later dramas some of the motives and melodies he had heard in the preceding ones. In the later dramas these melodies are appreciated not only for their own intrinsic beauty, but because 141they come laden with the sad and joyous associations and memories of the preceding scenes which they illustrated.

Wagner was not only a great musician and dramatist, he was also a most subtle psychologist. He doubled the power of music by adding to the enjoyment of the moment the strong current of remembered emotion. And this is precisely what a later passion of manhood adds to the naïve delights of First Love.

It is remarkable how many analogies there are between Music and Love—the youngest art and the youngest sentiment; and how the love of the divine art enables one to understand and feel more deeply the music of the divine passion.


Jealousy and Monopoly are the two selfish features of Love which urge an enamoured couple to flee society and friends, and take refuge on a desert island. Fortunately there is in the chemistry of Love a third selfish element—the Pride of successful wooing, which commonly is strong enough to neutralise the antisocial tendencies of the other two. If a lover’s passion has not yet risen to fever-heat, nothing (except Jealousy) will so suddenly raise it as the Pride and conceit inspired by noticing that people in general admire his chosen girl; the more of the admirers, the greater his Pride. And if, in addition, sympathising friends directly approve his choice and laud her merits in detail, then his transports of ecstasy become celestial.

Inasmuch as in moments of elation over success of any kind a man feels as if nothing were beyond his power, an accepted lover is as proud (I suppose) as if he had conquered not only one girl, but the whole feminine kingdom—or queendom: for surely the one chosen by him is the cleverest and most beautiful of all; whence it follows that all the inferior ones would of course have been only too proud if he had condescended to pay his addresses to them.

Why do great men so often marry women who are not especially attractive as to personal appearance, when often they might have had their choice among a group of beauties? Because the spoiled beauties did not understand the art of flattery, sincere or otherwise. Every man wishes to be considered either a creative genius or a hero. The woman who knows how to touch the sympathetic chord, to make each one’s particular kind of Pride vibrate, has him at her feet in an instant.

In conjugal life the most ludicrous of all sights is the royal self-complacency with which a man accepts the eager worship of his wife.

142Conversely, a rejected lover’s heart bleeds from so many wounds that it is difficult to count them; but of all these wounds the one inflicted by the jealous thought that she will now marry another is alone deep as that of his offended Pride. The sense of superiority which every man feels over every other man is crushed, and cannot be laid as a flattering unction to the soul. Hence a girl who refuses a proposal and does not at least keep it a secret, is not only quite as mean, but a thousand times more cruel than a man who will “kiss and tell.”

Coquetry.—Yet of all secrets the compliment of an offer is the hardest for a woman to keep; so, in strictest confidence, she tells it to only one solitary person, who ditto, who ditto, who ditto, etc. etc. etc. etc. and so on.

There is a class of women whose sole pleasure in life appears to be derived from vanity gratified by offers of Love and Marriage. Of all the elements of Love—and there are at least eleven—her soul is affected by one alone—the overtone of Pride. The Coquette has already been superficially examined, and distinguished from the Flirt. But this is the place where she must be placed under the microscope and more closely examined. A great many distinguished observers have dissected her, and here are a few of their discoveries.

Congreve lets her off easily—

“’Tis not to wound a wanton boy,
Or amorous youth, that gives the joy;
But ’tis the glory to have pierced the swain
For whom inferior beauties sighed in vain.”

Fielding is less lenient: “The life of a coquette is one constant lie.” “The coquette,” says Mr. T. B. Aldrich—"all’s one to her; above her fan she’d make sweet eyes at Caliban." According to Victor Hugo, “God created the coquette as soon as He had made the fool;” and Byron asks, “What careth she for hearts when once possessed?” When Moore wrote—

“More joy it gives to woman’s breast
To make ten frigid coxcombs vain,
Than one true manly lover blest;”

he had evidently just left the chill atmosphere of a coquette. “A coquette,” says A. Duprey, “is more occupied with the homage we withhold than with that which we bestow upon her.” “Coquettes are the quacks of love,” says Rochefoucauld. “Heartlessness and fascination, in about equal proportions, constitute,” according to Mme. Deluzy, “the receipt for forming the character of a coquette.” And Poincelot caps the climax: “An asp would 143render its sting more venomous by dipping it into the heart of a coquette.”

There are masculine as well as feminine Coquettes; but there is one striking difference between them. To the female Coquette all is game that gets into her net; she will turn away from a man of genius, an Apollo, already at her feet, to fascinate a rough and freckled country lad at first sight; whereas a male Coquette rarely wastes his powder on a girl who isn’t pretty. And even herein is seen the superiority of man’s Love to woman’s. The male Coquette is actuated by Admiration of Beauty as well as by Pride; the female Coquette by Pride alone.

Cannibals have a quaint old custom of eating certain parts of a formidable enemy’s body, in the belief that they will thus inherit his qualities,—as by eating his tongue, his eloquence; his heart, his courage. What a delicious gastronomic morsel a Coquette’s heart would be to these savages, whose principal amusement is cruelty!

Perhaps the best description ever given of a Coquette is Thackeray’s portraiture of Beatrix—"A woman who has listened to" her admirers, “and played with them and laughed with them,—who, beckoning them with lures and caresses, and with Yes smiling from her eyes, has tricked them on to their knees, and turned her back and left them.”

Love and Rank.—Not so many years ago the newspapers of a certain European country made a great deal of ado about a forthcoming marriage between a blue-blooded youth and a ditto maiden, for the reason that it was “a real Love-match.” Poor princes! so rarely are they allowed to choose their own Juliet, they who are supposed to be the rulers of the land. Until quite recently, it is true, public opinion on the Continent sanctioned a Love-marriage between an aristocrat and a non-aristocrat provided it was unlawful, i.e. morganatic, a special royal euphemy for bigamy; but now even this privilege is abolished, and princes can marry one of equal rank only, in pursuance of a custom more tyrannical, more restrictive than the parental command on which marriage-unions depended in ancient and mediæval times.

German novelists have made considerable progress in their art in recent years, but in one respect it seems to be very difficult for them to substitute realism for romance. In every love story, almost, one of the leading characters must be either a prince or a princess. As if it were not the very essence of a prince and a princess that they shall not be allowed to love and marry for Love—unless they are clever enough to fall in Love with the partner singled out for them, which happens once in a hundred times, perhaps.

144But it is not only in the highest circles that aristocratic Pride is opposed to free Sexual Selection. It extends through a hundred scales of the social ladder. Germany presents a remarkable example. The metaphysician Eduard von Hartmann credits the government of that country with great astuteness. Not having much money to pay its officials, it has established a legion of distinctions of rank and titles, for the sake of which the officials are quite willing to forego a larger salary. Of the ludicrous conceit inspired by this distinction of having even the slightest kind of a “handle” to their name, I can give an amusing instance from my own experience. Some years ago, desiring to see the Intendant, or Manager, of the Munich Opera-house, I entered a little room, marked Portier, and found that gentleman comfortably seated, with his cap on. He took my card, on which there was no “handle” of any sort, and replied sternly, “The Intendant is in; I will send up your card;” adding, more severely still, “And, young man, let me tell you, that when you come into the presence of a royal official, it behoves you to remove your hat!”

Harmless as such childish vanity may seem, it is yet one of the reasons why there are fewer good-looking women in Germany than in most European countries—France always excepted. For a girl, whose father wears on his coat the order of the black eagle, to marry a young man whose father only has the order of the green eagle, would be considered an unpardonable mésalliance, and would scandalise the whole neighbourhood. Of course it does not make much difference in a woman’s own looks whether she marries a man she loves or one whom she can barely tolerate, and who is forced on her by parental desire and public opinion, but it does make a difference with her children; and even in her own case, is it not self-evident that the smile of pleasure at being happily married is a better preservative of youthful beauty than the constant frown of disappointment, perhaps of disgust?

The highest treason against Cupid, however, is committed by those American women, who, without the excuse of inherited custom, come to Europe with their money to marry a baron. Fortunately such marriages have almost always ended so wretchedly that the fashion has somewhat lost its popularity. What is a baron? Perhaps a man whose great-great-great-grandfather “lent” some duke or king a few thousand gold pieces, in return for which he was allowed to place “von” or “de” before his name. And on the strength of this little word the family Pride has gone on steadily increasing through various generations—or rather, degenerations.

Physiology is not usually considered an ironic science, but it 145cannot help writing a satire when it teaches that “blue” blood is venous blood, charged with the waste products of the bodily tissues. How much better than this irony would iron be, i.e. some fresh, red, arterial blood infused in the bodies of the Continental aristocracy. The English aristocracy, on the other hand, presents one of the finest types of manhood and womanhood; and the reason is suggested by Darwin: “Many persons are convinced, as appears to me with justice, that our aristocracy, including under this term all wealthy families in which primogeniture has long prevailed, from having chosen during many generations from all classes the more beautiful women as their wives, have become handsomer, according to the European standard, than the middle classes.”

Vivid as the feeling of pride must be in a man of humble origin who has succeeded in winning the Love of a woman of a higher social grade; and greatly as a Coquette must be tickled in counting off the number of hearts offered to her, on her fingers if she has enough to go round: yet the climax of Lover’s Pride, it seems to me, must be reached by a man of noble birth who, scorning mediæval puerilities, marries the girl who has won his heart, and were she but a plump, rosy-cheeked peasant girl. This vivid feeling was doubtless realised by the Grand Duke of Austria when he married Philippine Welser, by the Duke of Bavaria when he married Maria Pettenbeck.


Thanks to the social instinct, our pains are halved, our pleasures doubled, if we can share them with others. The proverb that misery loves company expresses only half the truth; happiness, too, loves company. The late King of Bavaria used to enjoy an opera most if he was the sole spectator in the house; but most persons would lose half their pleasure in this way. Nor is this a purely imaginary feeling; for in a successful performance there are moments when the intensely-silent and universal absorption seems to raise a magnetic wave, which crosses the house and makes all nerves vibrate and thrill in unison. Again, if a man whom constant attendance at places of amusement has rendered blasé, happens to sit next to a young girl who visits the theatre for the first time, the emotional play of her features, by reviving the memory of his first experiences, enables him to share her feelings sympathetically, and thus to enjoy the performance doubly. And is it not a universal experience that if we witness sublime or beautiful scenes—if we approach the Niagara Falls in a small boat from below, or if, 146standing on the top of the Breithorn near Zermatt, we see almost the whole of Switzerland and the Tyrol, parts of France and Italy, down to Lago Maggiore, at the same moment—almost our first thought is, “Oh, if So-and-so could only see me now and share this wondrous sight with me!”

Nor is this instinctive craving for Sympathy absent in the mind of the poet who prefers to be alone with Nature; on the contrary, it is even deeper in his case. For to him Nature is personal; he

“Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
Sermons in stones;”

nor does Nature refuse her sympathy; for does she not harmonise with all his moods, looking gloomy if he is sad, bright if he is cheerful?

From these general manifestations of emotional partnership Lover’s Sympathy differs in being omnipresent and more exclusively concentrated on one person. There is an association of emotions as well as of ideas: and as every idea of excellence recalls her Perfection, so every emotion inspired by a beautiful object calls up the image of the Beauty par excellence. Thus Love gets the benefit of all these associated emotions—waggon-loads of kindling wood.

How Love intensifies Emotions.—But is it literally true that in Love, as Mr. Spencer puts it, “purely personal pleasures are doubled by being shared with another?” It is true; though the way in which this is done is difficult to explain. No psychologist, so far as I am aware, has cracked the nut. I have given considerable thought to the subject, and venture to offer the following three suggestions as to the method by which Love doubles our pleasures:—

(1) The lover’s pleasures are increased by the simple process of emotional addition. That is, supposing him to be reading a poem or story to his beloved, he will experience at one and the same moment not only the emotions inspired by the poem or novel he is reading, but those due to the sense of her presence. As the mind does not stop to analyse its feelings at such moments, all these various pleasurable emotions will coalesce into one seemingly homogeneous feeling of happiness; just as two complementary colours, or all the colours of the rainbow, if mixed, will produce the simple sensation called white.

(2) The second way in which sympathetic companionship intensifies a lover’s feelings is through what may be called emotional resonance. If you take a violin-string in your hands, stretch it tightly, and then get some one to pluck it, a very faint sound only 147will be heard. But put it in its proper place, over the resonant surface of the instrument, and it will produce a full, loud, mellow tone. A human countenance is such an instrument—a sort of emotional sounding-board. Every man feels more or less pleased with himself if he gets off at table what he considers a wise or witty remark. If the sounding-boards of his neighbours vibrate responsively to his jokes, he feels proud and is doubly pleased; but if they only grin politely, the tone of his self-satisfaction is immediately lowered an octave and dies away pianissimo. Now between lovers such a fiasco is absolutely impossible. They never grin at one another’s sayings for the sake of politeness merely. His most platitudinous remarks are sure to start a symphony of smiles on her countenance, where another man’s wittiest epigrams would be barely rewarded with a slight curl of the lips; and as for him, she may say anything she pleases, he never knows what she says but hears only the music of her voice—as if her words were the text, the rising and falling of her voice the melody, of an Italian opera. No wonder lovers are so exclusively interesting to each other, and such unmitigated bores to other people.

Unfortunately lovers’ sympathy is rarely complete or durable. Sooner or later some difference of taste or opinion is discovered which has the same effect as a crack in the sounding-board—the resonance is destroyed. Yet it can be restored by using glue; and violin-builders will tell you that a glued instrument is often better than one which has never had a crack.

(3) Thirdly, Love intensifies human feelings by producing a state of emotional hyperæsthesia, or supersensitiveness, which has the effect of a microphone in multiplying the loudness of every impression. Music teachers whose acoustic nerves are rendered excessively irritable by overwork; students whose eyes, from reading late at night, are in the same condition, are annoyed by sights and sounds which ordinary mortals barely notice. But Love with its sleepless night daily fevers, and prolonged fastings is more potent than any other cause in producing such a state of extreme sensitiveness to every impression. Lovers’ souls may therefore be aptly compared to Æolian harps. If you leave the strings of such an instrument in a state of very loose tension, they resemble the souls of ordinary mortals not in Love: for it takes a very strong breeze to elicit any sound from them. But raise them to a higher state of tension, like the souls of lovers, and the faintest breath of air will cause them to sound in sympathetic unison all their harmonics—which is another name for overtones.

Development of Sympathy.—Not only does Love thus owe 148much of its unique intenseness to Sympathy, but there are weighty reasons for believing that Love has already played an important rôle, and is destined to play a still more important one, in modifying the meaning of Sympathy and in extending its influence to society in general.

When the absence of true Romantic Love among savages was being pointed out more emphasis should have been placed on the fact that they seem to be utter strangers to sympathy. Far from sharing another’s delights and sorrows, a savage takes an intense delight in witnessing a man enduring the agonies of deliberate torture. Cruelty seems to give him the same thrill of joy that sympathetic assistance gives to a refined person.

How are we to account for this strange delight in another’s sufferings? By noting the extreme coarseness and callousness of the primitive man’s nerves. Just as some savages are known to have such hardened hides and lungs that they can sleep naked in a snowstorm with impunity, where a white man would be sure to perish of cold or subsequent pneumonia; so the savage requires the coarsest of stimulants to make any impression on his sluggish emotions. The sight of an enemy tied to a tree and being flayed alive tickles his nerves by suggesting his own comfortable freedom in comparison, and by showing him an enemy absolutely in his power; while his imagination is not sufficiently vivid to enable him to put himself in the other’s place to feel his contortions and suppressed moans re-echoing in his own soul.

And have we not in our very midst thousands of so-called civilised beings who require stimulants almost as coarse as the savage to amuse their dull imaginations?—people who would hesitate to pay silver for a book, a concert, or an art exhibition, but gladly give gold to witness the execution of a criminal or an exhibition of animals torturing one another to death. To suppose that such people can ever fall in Love—Romantic Love—is more than absurd.

Children represent this savage stage of the evolution of sympathy; as their imagination, like all their mental powers, is still in embryo. Nothing delights the average boy so much as a chance to torture a beetle, a cat, or a dog. And Mr. Galton somewhere refers to the sense of blood-curdling produced on him and other sensitive persons in the London Zoological Gardens at the sight of snakes devouring living animals. “Yet,” he adds, “I have often seen people—nurses, for instance, and children of all ages—looking unconcernedly and amusedly at the scene.”

To substitute Sympathy for this delight in torture—to arouse 149the sluggish imagination from its thousand years’ sleep, and quicken its sense of suffering in man and animals—is one of the greatest problems of moral culture, and—so far as man is concerned—forms one of the keynotes of Christianity. St. Paul bids us both to bear one another’s burdens and to rejoice with one another. The second part of his injunction, however, has been comparatively neglected, as is best shown by the circumstance that we have several terms to express the sharing of sorrow (compassion, pity, sympathy), whereas for the sharing of joy there is no special noun in the English language. The Germans have a word for it—Mitfreude—yet it rarely occurs out of philosophical treatises. The word Sympathy, which literally means “suffering with,” has also been most commonly used in that sense. But it is now frequently being used in the sense of sharing joy too, and perhaps, despite its etymology, it will, for lack of another word, be chiefly used in this sense in future. Even at present, when persons are spoken of as sympathetic or antipathetic, much less regard is paid to their willingness to bear our burdens or share our sorrows than to the chances of their sharing in our pleasures by having similar tastes and opinions.

For this change in the meaning of Sympathy, Romantic Love must, I believe, be held chiefly responsible. To some extent, no doubt, friends and relatives shared one another’s joys before the advent of Love. Yet even the mother—taking the most favourable case—cannot enter into all her child’s feelings, while to the child most of her mature emotions are utterly incomprehensible; so that we miss here that reciprocation which is the very essence of Sympathy; whereas a lover cannot even conceive a pleasure unless the other shares it—another point in the psychology of Modern Love to which Shakspere has given the most poetic expression—

“Except I be by Sylvia in the night,
There is no music in the nightingale.”

Thus we see that there are three stages in the evolution of Sympathy: the first, in which cruelty neutralises it; the second, in which this universal enjoyment of cruelty, with its attendant lack of imagination and altruistic feeling, compelled moralists to lay more stress on the virtue of compassion than on the refining pleasures of mutual enjoyment; the third, the epoch of Romantic Love, in which the positive side of the emotional partnership is specially emphasised, so that a lover cannot pour forth a song of happiness except in the form of a duo.

150And this brings us back again to a question left unanswered in the section on Jealousy. A rejected lover’s deepest anguish is the thought that “She will now be happy in another’s arms.” To hear that she has entered a convent and will never enjoy the pleasures of Love denied him would be his only consolation. Is this an aberration of Sympathy, or does it mark its climax—its remorseless logical consistency? The answer lies in the second suggestion. Were Love an altruistic passion, it would be otherwise. He would delight in her happiness under all circumstances. But Love is selfish—a double selfishness; and its sense of justice demands that each side be considered. “If I cannot be happy without her, how can she without me?” The lover does not consider that the passion is one-sided—he cannot fathom that mystery—cannot understand why his flame, which reduces him to ashes, is not strong enough to set her on fire, and were she a stone image.

Pity and Love.—According to Darwin, one of the chief mental differences between man and woman is woman’s greater tenderness. Of this feminine tenderness the world has been able to judge on a vast scale during the last two or three years.

According to a statement in Nature, 30,000 ruby and topaz humming-birds were sold in London some years ago in the course of one afternoon, “and the number of West Indian and Brazilian birds sold by one auction-room in London during the four months ending April 1885, was 404,464, besides 356,389 Indian birds, without counting thousands of Impeyan pheasants, birds of paradise,” etc. A writer in Forest and Stream mentioned a dealer in South Carolina who handled 30,000 bird-skins per annum. “During four months 70,000 birds were supplied to New York dealers from a single village on Long Island, and an enterprising woman from New York contracted with a Paris millinery firm to deliver during this summer 40,000 or more skins of birds at 40 cents a piece. From Cape Cod, one of the haunts of terns and gulls, 40,000 of the former birds were killed in a single season, so that at points where a few years since these beautiful birds filled the air with their graceful forms and snowy plumage, only a few pairs now remain.” “It is estimated that not less than 5,000,000 birds of all sorts were killed last year for purposes of ornamentation,” wrote Mr. E. P. Powell in the New York Independent. A correspondent of the New York Evening Post saw at an art exhibition a young lady, with “nothing in her face to denote excessive cruelty,” who wore a hat trimmed with “the heads of over twenty little birds”; and the same paper 151remarked editorially: “No one can tell how large a bird can be worn on a woman’s head, by walking in Fifth Avenue. It is necessary to take a ride in a Second Avenue car to get the full effect of the prevailing fashion. There one may see on the head-gear of poorer classes, and especially of coloured women, every species of the feathered kingdom smaller than a prairie chicken or a canvas-back duck and every colour of the rainbow.”

“Think of women!” exclaims Diderot; “they are miles beyond us in sensibility.”

It was Science, edited by men, that started the agitation against woman’s cruel and tasteless fashion—a fashion which not one woman in a hundred apparently refused to conform to. It was Messrs. J. A. Allen, W. Dutcher, G. B. Sennett, and other ornithologists, who raised their voices in behalf of the murdered birds, for whom no woman seemed to have a thought except Mrs. Celia Thaxter—all honour to her—and a small circle of ladies in England. It was Oliver Wendell Holmes who wrote how he felt “the shame of the wanton destruction of our singing-birds to feed the demands of a barbaric vanity;” another man, Charles Dudley Warner, who pertinently suggested that “a dead bird does not help the appearance of an ugly woman, and a pretty woman needs no such adornment.”

That the average woman’s imagination is not sufficiently refined and quick to feel for these winged poems of the air is historically proven by this fashion, which, characteristically enough, was first introduced by a member of the Paris demi-monde.

It has disappeared for the moment, but is almost absolutely certain to reappear within five years.

But who, after all, is responsible for this sluggish condition of the feminine imagination, this lack of sympathy for the fate of harmless happy birds, who in their domestic affections and love-affairs so closely resemble man? Is it not the men who, till within a few years, have refused to give their daughters a rational education? It must be so, for in that sphere where woman has been able to educate herself, and where she is queen—in the domestic circle, she does possess that tender sympathy which she withholds from lower beings.

Within the range of human affections woman manifests more pity, is stirred to nobler needs of self-sacrifice, than man. Is Love included in this category? Dryden tells us that “pity melts the heart to love,” and novelists delight to make their heroines first refuse their suitors and subsequently accept them from real Love born of pity. For my part, I doubt this assumed 152relationship between Pity and Love; and I do not believe that a girl who has refused a lover ordinarily feels any more pity for him than a cat does for a mouse, or a person who is all right on a steamer does for another who is sea-sick—though he be his best friend. There is an instinctive belief in the human mind that love-sickness and sea-sickness are never fatal.

It does, indeed, very often happen—perhaps in half the cases; it would be interesting to have approximate statistics on the subject—that a girl first refuses the man whose second or third offer she accepts; for, as an anonymous writer remarks, “women are so made (happily for men) that gratitude, pity, the exquisite pleasure of pleasing, the sweet surprise at finding themselves necessary to another’s happiness ... altogether obscure and confuse the judgment.” But in such cases there are other factors which probably influence the girl much more than Pity does. She is, in the first place, largely influenced by this “exquisite pleasure of pleasing”—another name for Pride. Then there is a certain advantage to a man in having proposed, even unsuccessfully; for whenever subsequently the girl reads about Love she will involuntarily think of him; and thus his image will become associated with all the pleasure she derives from Love stories—which may prove the first step for her—and a long one—into the romantic passion. Besides, to propose to a girl is the greatest compliment a man can pay a girl; and this cannot be without influence.

Thus it is possible that Pity, allied with Pride, association, and flattery, may work a change of feeling in a feminine mind; but Pity alone will rarely lead her into the realms of Cupid. A man certainly would never dream of marrying from Pity, on seeing that she loves him deeply, a woman for whom he does not otherwise care. Nor should either man or woman ever marry from Pity, any more than for money or rank. Love should ever be the sole guide to matrimony.

Love at First Sight.—La Bruyère gives his opinion that “the love which arises suddenly takes longest to cure;” and that “love which grows slowly and by degrees resembles friendship too much to be an ardent passion.” Schopenhauer, too, asserts that “great passions, as a rule, arise at first sight.” He refers to Shakspere’s

“Who ever lov’d that lov’d not at first sight?”

and then cites Mateo Aleman’s old Spanish romance, Guzman de Alfarache, in which, three centuries ago, the following observation 153was made: “To fall in love one does not require much time or reflection and choice; all that is needed is that in that first and only sight there should be a mutual suitability and harmony, or what in common life we call a sympathy of the blood, and which is due to a special influence of the stars.”

As it is not permissible, in these degenerate days of positive science, to explain a thing by a vague reference to poetic astrology, an attempt must be made to account for the possibility of Love at first sight on more prosaic grounds.

Physiognomy furnishes a simple solution of the problem. In every man’s face is painted his personal history, as well as his favourite and customary sphere of thoughts and feelings. As Sir Charles Bell remarks, “Expression is to passion what language is to thought.” The gift of reading correctly this facial language of passion is given to different persons in different degrees, though all have some share of it: and on their more or less accurate and subtle interpretation of the “lines and frowns and wrinkles strange” in another’s features depends the art of reading character and being sympathetically attracted or repulsed, as the case may be. A young man who has unconsciously associated certain peculiarities of facial expression in his sisters or female friends with habitual cheerfulness, amiability, and brightness will, on recognising similar features in a new acquaintance, take for granted similar charms of character: this, which is the work of a second, may result in sympathy at first sight, which very often is the beginning of Romantic Love.

Love at First Sight may be inspired by this instinctive perception of beauty of character, i.e. amiability; or by the sight of mere physical beauty; or, thirdly, by Personal Beauty in the highest sense of the word, uniting intellectual fascination with bodily charms.

Inasmuch as there are not a few men whose æsthetic taste is so weak that they would rather marry a useful, companionable girl and imagine her beautiful, than take a beauty and imagine her useful; and inasmuch as there are a great many more amiable and vivacious girls in the world than pretty ones, it happens that in a large number of cases Love is inspired by the physiognomic interpretation of sympathetic traits of character just referred to. Hence plain girls need never despair of finding husbands. There is even a current notion that the deepest passions are commonly inspired by plain women who are otherwise attractive. But what inspires the Love in these cases is not so much the woman’s amiability—and certainly not her plainness—as the fact that the 154style of her homeliness is of an opposite kind from the faults of the lover, and promises to neutralise them in the offspring.

Plain and homely, moreover, are terms often applied to women whose faces only are so, while their figures are sometimes superb. But a fine figure is quite as essential a part of Personal Beauty as a fine face, and is, in the opinion of Schopenhauer, even more potent as a love-inspirer. If the figure is disregarded in favour of the face, Romantic Love is apt to become hyper-romantic, as in the days of Dante.

Perhaps the largest number of cases of Love at First Sight, so called, are inspired by mere beauté du diable—a female “bud” whose sole charm apparent is sparkling health and fragrant, dew-bejewelled freshness. That this kind of Love at sight, which consists in being dazzled for the moment by a set of regular features and a pair of bright eyes, is often of brief duration, does not militate against the statement that the deepest Love is also born of such a flash of æsthetic admiration. An incipient passion may be crushed by the discovery of some disagreeable trait in the person who inspired it; but when, owing to want of early opportunity to discover unsympathetic traits, Love has been allowed to make some progress, the subsequent discovery of a flaw is not nearly so serious a matter, for then Master Cupid simply puts a daub of whitewash on it and calls it a beauty-spot.

Intellect and Love.—But, after all, the deepest Love at Sight, and that which gives promise of greatest permanence, is that inspired by a handsome woman in whose face Intellect has written its autograph. Goethe, indeed, has remarked that “intellect cannot warm us, or inspire us with passion;” but the view he takes here of the relations between intellect and passion is obviously very crude and superficial. No man, of course, would ever fall in Love with a woman who showed her intellectuality—as not a few do—by a parrotlike repetition of encyclopædic reading or magazine epitomes of knowledge. This gives evidence of only one form of intellect, the lowest, namely, Memory. It is the higher forms—imagination, wit, clever reasoning, that constitute the essence of intellectual culture; and though woman may never quite equal man in this sphere, such cases as Mme. de Staël, George Sand, and George Eliot show how much she can accomplish by means of application.

Now this higher kind of intellectual culture is able to influence the amorous feelings in two ways: first, by refining and vivifying the features; secondly, by enabling a woman to appreciate her 155lover’s ambitions and afford him sympathetic assistance, thereby awakening a responsive echo in his grateful mind.

Look at Miss Marbleface in yonder corner, surrounded by a group of admirers. Everybody wonders why she, whose features might inspire a sculptor, remains unmarried at twenty-six. Her friends, indeed, whisper that she never even got an offer. Yet all the men to whom she is introduced admire her immensely—the first evening; but strange to say, after they have seen her a few times, they are not a bit jealous to leave her to a new group of admirers; who, in turn, cede her to another. Her beauty, in truth, is but skin-deep, literally; the muscles under the skin are never vivified by an electric flash of wit from the brain; there is nothing but marble features and a stereotyped smile; no animation, no change of expression, no Intellect. Were her intellect as carefully cultivated as her features are chiselled, she would inspire Love, not mere momentary admiration; and she would have been married six years ago to a man chosen at will from the whole circle of her acquaintances.

It is easy to explain how the absurd and fatal notion that intellectual application mars women’s peculiar beauty and lessens the feminine graces in general must have arisen. The inference seems to follow logically from the two undeniable premises that pretty girls very often are insipid, and intellectual women commonly are plain. But this is only another case of putting the cart before the horse. Pretty girls, on the one hand, are so rare that they are almost sure to be spoiled by flattery. They receive so much attention that they have no time for study; and ambitious mothers take them into society prematurely, where they get married before their intellectual capacities—which sometimes are excellent—have had time to unfold. Ugly girls, on the other hand, being neglected by the men, have to while away their time with books, music, art, etc., and thus they become bright and entertaining. Therefore it is not the intellect that makes them ugly, but the ugliness that makes them intellectual.

The culture that can be compressed into a single lifetime unfortunately does not suffice to modify the bony and cartilaginous parts of the human face sufficiently to change homeliness into beauty; but the muscles can be mobilised, the expression quickened and beautified by an individual’s efforts at culture; hence some of these reputed plain intellectual women, in moments when they are excited, become more truly fascinating, with all their badly-chiselled features, than any number of cold marble faces. If men only knew it!—but they are afraid of them—the average men are—because 156they do not constantly wish to be reminded of their own mental shortcomings in a tournament of wit, pleasantry, or erudition.

Even Schopenhauer, who was convinced that women are too stupid to appreciate a man’s intellect, if abnormal, held that women, on the contrary, gain an advantage in Love by cultivating their minds; adding that it is owing to the appreciation of this fact that mothers teach their daughters music, languages, etc.; thus artificially padding out their minds, as on occasion they do parts of the body.

No doubt, as a rule, women are more influenced in love-affairs by a man who excels in athletic qualities of manly energy than by one of intellectual supereminence. But the adoration of women for a Liszt, a Rubinstein, and other men of genius, whose eminence lies in a department that has been made accessible to women for centuries, shows what might be if women were trained in other spheres of human activity and knowledge.

Regarding the mental padding, however, we might continue in the old pessimist’s vein by saying that it is a trick which has had its day. Men do not marry girls quite so blindly as in the days when Romantic Love was a novelty. They keep their eyes open; and when they find that their girl’s musical “culture” consists in the mechanical drumming of three pieces, and that her other “accomplishments” are similar shams, they are apt to take their throbbing hearts and put them into a refrigerator until the young lady has become a faded, harmless old maid, still drumming her three pieces on the piano. The fact that so many mothers persist in thus “padding” their daughters’ minds, instead of educating them properly, is largely responsible for the ever-increasing number of self-conscious and disgusted bachelors in the world.

The example of Aspasia illustrates both the physical advantages beauty derives from intellectual culture—through the refinement of expression—and the emotional advantages a woman secures by being able to sympathise intelligently with her lover’s or husband’s enterprises. Nothing more irresistibly fascinates a man than genuine questioning interest shown by a woman in his life-work. Or, as Mr. Hamerton puts it, “the most exquisite pleasure the masculine mind can ever know, is that of being looked upon by a feminine intelligence with clear sight and affection at the same time.” But on this topic Mr. Mill has discoursed so enthusiastically in his Subjection of Women that anything that might be added here could be little more than a faint echo of his persuasive eloquence, tinged though it be with true lovers’ exaggeration.

Goethe illustrated his maxim that “intellect cannot warm us 157or inspire us with passion” by marrying a pretty, brainless doll of whom he soon got heartily tired. Heine followed his example by marrying a Parisian labouring girl who, like Madame Racine, probably never read her husband’s writings. And in his Unterwelt he laments his “verfehlte Liebe, verfehltes Leben”—his mistaken love and wasted life.

Why did the ancient Greeks neglect their women? Why did they remain strangers to Love and seek refuge in Friendship? Their women were modest, domestic, good mothers and wives; but they lacked one thing, and that was Intellect.


Primitive tribes have a delightfully simple way of arranging their division of labour. The men do the hunting and carry on wars, the women do everything else. If a warrior on “moving day” should say to his wife and daughters: “See here, this will never do for me to have nothing but my weapons and my pipe, while you carry the babies, the cooking utensils, the remnants of the game, and the tent: let me help you!”—if he should say this, his comrades would consider him crazy, or rather, possessed of a demon, and would burn two or three persons at the stake for having bewitched him.

Gallantry, in other words, is unknown to savages either between lovers, or, in a general sense, towards all women. Nor is it known to semi-civilised peoples. Among the nomadic Arab tribes of the Sahara the wife has to do all the work unless her husband is rich enough to own a slave; and among the poorer Bedouins the husband traverses the desert comfortably seated on his camel, while his wife plods along behind on foot, loaded with her bed, her kitchen utensils, and her child on top.

The ancient Greeks were not so ungallant as these peoples towards their women, as they had slaves to do their hard work; but the constant devoted attention and desire to please which constitute modern Gallantry did not, as we have seen, exist among them. Among the Romans we find traces—but traces only—of this virtue. Mediæval Gallantry reached its extremes in the witches’ fires on the one side, and the grotesque performances of the knight-errants on the other. The intermediate ground apparently remained uncultivated, except during the brief period of chivalrous poetry, and then only in the highest classes. Wherever, in short, Romantic Love was absent, Gallantry, as one of its ingredients, was unknown.

158Coming to modern times, we see the same parallelism between general Gallantry and the freedom granted to the young to form Love-matches.

In France, Germany, Italy, the women still have to do the hardest field work, though the men assist. The French, indeed, who systematically suppress Romantic Love, are apparently the most gallant nation in the world. But there is a general agreement among tourists that in real Gallantry, which calls for self-sacrificing actions and not mere polite words and bows, the French are inferior to all other European nations. It is in England and America that true general Gallantry, like true Romantic Love, flourishes most. In America, indeed, owing to the former scarcity of women, Gallantry was for a time carried to a ludicrous excess, almost reminding one of the days of Don Quixote; as in that story of the Western miners who surrounded an emigrant’s waggon and insisted on his “trotting out” his wife; which being done by the trembling man, who feared the worst, the “roughs” passed round the hat and collected a large sum of gold for the woman. Perhaps American women still are, as we read in Daisy Miller, “the most exacting in the world and the least endowed with a sense of indebtedness.” But the constant sight in New York and elsewhere of street-cars in which every man has a seat while every woman is standing, seems to indicate that there is a reaction which may go to the opposite extreme. But after a while the pendulum will doubtless swing back to the middle and remain stationary; and this will be in the new golden age when men will always give up their seats to old and infirm women, to pretty girls, and to all the others who display truly refined instincts and good taste by abjuring crinolines, bustles, high heels, stuffed birds on their hats, and other “ornaments” fatal to Personal Beauty.

From the facts thus hastily sketched we may safely infer that, as we saw in the case of Sympathy with another’s joys, so again with Gallantry, what was born as a trait of Romantic Love was subsequently transferred to the social and domestic relations of men and women in general. Had Romantic Love done nothing more than this, it would deserve to rank among the most refining influences in modern civilisation.

Perhaps the most remarkable existing illustration of the way in which Lovers’ Gallantry may assume a general form, is to be found in Mr. Ruskin’s recent confession regarding girls: “My primary thought is how to serve them and make them happy; or if they could use me for a plank-bridge over a stream, or set me up for a 159post to tie a swing to, or anything of the sort not requiring me to talk, I should be always quite happy in such a promotion.”

This reads precisely like Heine’s poem in which the lover wishes he were his mistress’s footstool, or again her needle-cushion, that he might experience the delights of pain inflicted by her foot or hand.

Such excess of amorous Gallantry is a favourite theme for poetic hyperbole, and it hardly can be exaggerated; for the lover really does entertain such wishes. With him, romance is realism.

No slave could be so meek and humble, no well-trained dog so obedient as the amorous swain. Again and again will he, without a moment’s hesitation, plunge into a wintry stream and triumphantly snap up and bring back to her the chip she has thrown in to amuse herself.

Active and Passive Desire to Please.—"Love, studious how to please" (Dryden), has two ways of accomplishing its purpose—one passive, one active. Women, owing to their prescribed Coyness, are not allowed to indulge in actions that would imply a desire to please a suitor, except in the later stages of Courtship, when all is settled or understood. Hence their desire to please can only show itself passively in their efforts to make their personal appearance attractive to the lover. Nor are men indifferent to this passive phase of Gallantry. As nothing so fills a man with Pride as the thought that She, a paragon of beauty, adorns herself so carefully all for his delight; so in turn he feels it incumbent on him to follow her example. Even the habitually slovenly become dandies for the moment, brush their hair, buy a new hat and clothes; the lazy become industrious, the cowards assume heroic airs and strut about like tragedians—

“I was the laziest creature,
The most unprofitable sign of nothing,
The veriest drone, and slept away my life
Beyond the dormouse, till I was in love!
And now I can outwake the nightingale,
Outwatch an usurer, and out-walk him too,
Stalk like a ghost that haunted ’bout a treasure,
And all that fancied treasure, it is love.”—Ben Jonson.

Active Gallantry has been sufficiently characterised in the foregoing pages. It is that form of the Desire to Please which readily merges into Self-Sacrifice. A man who would never dream of exposing himself to the slightest danger in his own behalf will, if his sweetheart expresses admiration of a flower growing near a dangerous precipice, rush to pluck it with an audacity which may 160cost him his life. A fatal case of this sort occurred not long ago on the Hudson River near New York. A man’s life thrown away for the slight æsthetic gratification to be derived by his love from the sight and fragrance of a flower!

How frequently, again, do lovers sacrifice their family bonds, the love of parents and relatives, as well as rank and fortune, for the sake of the romantic passion!

A mother willingly dies in defence of her offspring’s life. But will she, like Romeo, drink the apothecary’s poisonous draught over the corpse of her dead darling? No, herein again Romantic Love is the deepest of the passions.

Feminine Devotion.—Self-Sacrifice is one of the traits of Romantic Love which may remain unaltered and unweakened in conjugal affection. “Those who have traced the course of the wives of the poor,” says Mr. Lecky, “and of many who, though in narrowed circumstances, can hardly be called poor, will probably admit that in no other class do we so often find entire lives spent in daily persistent self-denial, in the patient endurance of countless trials, in the ceaseless and deliberate sacrifice of their own enjoyments to the wellbeing or the prospects of others.”

It is in Wagner’s music-dramas that the modern ideal of feminine devotion unto death has found its most stirring embodiment. Elizabeth, having lost her Tannhäuser, thanks to the allurements of Venus, dies of a broken heart; Senta, realising that only by her self-sacrifice can the unhappy Dutchman be released from his terrible doom of eternally sailing the stormy seas until he should find a woman faithful to him unto death, tears herself away from her family and plunges into the ocean. Isolde sings her death-song over the body of Tristan; and Brünnhilde immolates herself on Siegfried’s funeral pyre. Wagner’s theory of the music-drama was a theory of Love in which each lover sacrifices selfish idiosyncrasies in order to produce a happy union in marriage.

Mr. Mill, forgetting the difference between masculine maltreatment of women, and voluntary female self-denial, thought it expedient to sneer at the exaggerated self-abnegation which is the present artificial ideal of feminine character; and those unsexed viragoes who wish to “reform” women by robbing them of all womanly attributes and converting them into caricatures of masculinity, re-echo Mill’s sneer in shrill chorus. Women, they shout, must no longer waste their best years in staying at home, educating their children and taking care of their husbands. These brutes have been caressed and fondled long enough; the time has come for women to be manly and independent. Let them take away 161from men the employments, of which even now there are not enough for three-fourths of the men; let them thus drive another 20 per cent of men and women into celibacy because the men cannot afford any longer to marry. Let the women strip off their artificial air of domestic refinement by mingling with the foul-mouthed, tobacco-reeking crowds and making political stump speeches; or by visiting the loathsome criminals in prisons, treating them to cakes and flowers and other methods of feminine reform, so that when set free they may be eager to do something which will bring them back to their cakes and flowers! The children meanwhile being left at home in charge of coarse, ignorant, careless servants, copying their manners, and the husband compelled to seek companionship at the club, or much worse.

How the selfish husband will wince under this cold neglect and retaliation—he who never does anything but amuse himself while his wife toils at home; who never risks his life in war for his wife and children; who never toils at his desk from morn to night, to earn the daily bread of all by the sweat of his brow; who never goes to lunatic asylums from overwork and worry! How sly in man to set up his “artificial ideal of woman’s self-abnegation,” while he is having such a good time! But why try to paint in weak prose the hideousness of man’s selfish conduct, when Shakspere has done it in immortal verse?

“Thy husband is thy lord, thy life, thy keeper,
Thy head, thy sovereign; one that cares for thee,
And for thy maintenance commits his body
To painful labour both by sea and land,
To watch the night in storms, the day in cold,
Whilst thou liest warm at home, secure and safe;
And craves no other tribute at thy hands
But love, fair looks and true obedience;
Too little payment for so great a debt.”

There is another very curious aspect of Self-Sacrifice which will be fully discussed in the chapter on Schopenhauer’s Theory of Love, but which may be stated here, without comment, that the reader may reflect on the pessimist’s paradox. Schopenhauer held that Love is based on the possession by the lovers of traits which mutually complement each other. In the children these incongruous traits will so neutralise each other as to produce a harmonious result; but in the life of the parents they will produce only discords. True love, therefore, as he claims, rarely results in a happy conjugal life: Love causes the parents to sacrifice their mutual happiness to the welfare of their offspring.

162Meanwhile it may be stated that France offers a curious confirmation of Schopenhauer’s theory, not noted by himself. Romantic Love, it is well known, hardly exists in France as a motive to marriage, being systematically suppressed and craftily annihilated. Nevertheless, as many observers attest, the French commonly lead a happy family life. But look at the offspring, at the birth-rate, the lowest in Europe; look at the puny men, at the women, among whom there is hardly a single beauty in all the land. In a word, whereas Love sacrifices, according to Schopenhauer, the parents to the children, the French sacrifice the offspring, and Love itself, to the happiness of the individuals, married according to motives of personal expediency.


“I loved Ophelia: forty thousand brothers
Could not, with all their quantity of love,
Make up my sum.”

“It is a strange thing,” says Bacon, “to note the excess of this passion, and how it braves the nature and value of things by this, that the speaking in a perpetual hyperbole is comely in nothing but in love.”

It is the nature of all passions to exaggerate: and Love, being of all passions the most violent, exaggerates the most—more even than Hate, which alone competes with Love in the power to tinge every object with the colour of its own spectacles. The lover’s constant sigh is for something stronger than a superlative; and to the limit between the sublime and the ridiculous he is absolutely blind. Like Schumann, every lover calls his Clara “Clarissima,” and of two superlative facts he is quite certain: That she is the most wonderful being ever created; and that his passion is the deepest ever felt by mortal.

“Transparent heretics, be burnt for liars!
One fairer than my love! The all-seeing sun
Ne’er saw her match since first the world begun.”

If you try to convince him that others have loved as ardently—and ceased to love, he will smile a cynical smile and then close his eyes and declaim melodramatically—

“And I will luve thee still, my dear,
Till a’ the seas gang dry—
Till a’ the seas gang dry, my dear,
And the rocks melt wi’ the sun.”—Burns.

163In such hyperbolic effusions a lover sees no exaggeration, for they describe his feelings and convictions precisely as they are.

“What we mortals call romantic,
And always envy though we deem it frantic” (Byron)

is to him bare reality, nothing more. Romeo expresses his real wish for the moment when he says—

“O that I were a glove upon that hand
That I might touch that cheek;”

ByronByron really feels that

“O, if the streets were paved with thine eyes
Her feet were much too dainty for such tread.”

And every lover would agree with Coleridge that

“Her very frowns are fairer far
Than smiles of other maidens are.”

“The air I breathe in a room empty of you is unhealthy,” wrote Keats to his sweetheart; and Burns, in the sketch of his first love, thus describes the emotional hyperæsthesia produced by Love: “I didn’t know myself why the tones of her voice made my heart-strings thrill like an Æolian harp, and particularly why my pulse beat such a furious rattan when I looked and fingered over her little hand to pick out the cruel nettle-stings and thistles.”

This is the true ecstasy of Love—the most delicious and thrilling emotion of which the human soul is capable. Nor is it necessary to be a poet to feel it. While in Love even a coarser-grained man “feels the blood of the violet, the clover, and the lily in his veins” (Emerson). But if Jealousy rouses him, it is flower-blood no longer that courses in his veins, nor human blood, but vengeful Spanish wine. It is then that Love’s intoxication reaches its climax: delirious ecstasy followed by angry waves of dire despair, rocking and tossing the unhappy victim till he is pale and sick as death.

Like other drunkards, the Love-intoxicated youth sees and feels everything double. His darling seems doubly beautiful, and all his joys and sorrows are doubled in intensity. And, like other drunkards, he imagines that all the world is drunk and reeling; whereas the rapid oscillation of surrounding objects between the rosy hue of hope and the gray cloud of doubt, is all in his own mind.

How this erotic intoxication multiplies the lover’s courage and 164confidence in his success! The most insignificant smile raises him over all obstacles to the summit of his hopes, as easily as a cloud-shadow climbs a mountain side o’er treetops, rocks, and snowy walls.

How, on her part, it magnifies his heroism, his genius, converting the most insipid commonplace into an immortal epigram, full of wit and wisdom!

That Lovers’ Hyperbole is nothing but Love-intoxication shows itself also in the ludicrous tasks they undertake when under the spell. Who but a lover would ever attempt to gild refined gold, to paint the lily white, the sky blue? Who mix up physiology, astronomy, gastronomy, in such an absurd way as in “sweet-heart,” “honey-moon,” etc.?

And when, during the “honey-moon,” the lover recovers from his intoxication, how surprised he looks, how he rubs his eyes and wonders where the deuce he has been! He remembers Ovid’s caution that after wine every woman seems beautiful; he remembers something about seeing “Helen’s beauty in a brow of Egypt.” And the girl by his side—he thought she was Helen; but now, “really—this is most extraordinary: just look at that large mouth, and that snub-nose—well, I knew she had it, and thought I loved her all the more for this imperfection, which proved her human and not a goddess: yet, by Jove, I almost wish ... in fact, I quite wish, her mouth was smaller and her nose larger.”

Poor deluded youth! He was taken in by Cupid’s favourite trick of dazzling a lover with a pair of brown or blue orbs, till he can see nothing else. For this girl, beyond question, has a pair of eyes which Venus might envy—mid-ocean-blue, with a dewdrop sparkle, and a mischievous expression that is more commonly found in brown eyes; and these deep-blue eyes are framed in with black brows and long black lashes, without which no eyes are ever perfect, whatever their colour. It was these expressive orbs, this visible music of the spheres, that ravished all his senses and made him blind to every other feature of her countenance.

Thus we see how Love comes to be blind. One feature—most commonly the eyes—dazes the victim so completely that all the other features are seen but vaguely as in a dream; while the imagination is ever busy in chiselling them into harmony with the fine eyes. And it is only after marriage, or assured possession, that the other features emerge from their blurred vagueness, and are found less perfect than the fond imagination had painted them.

In this eagerness of Love to see only superlative excellence, and 165its disposition to imagine a thing perfect if it is not, we get a deep insight into the mission and raison d’être of this passion. If women and men would only try to live up to Love’s exalted ideal of personal perfection—and most persons could be 50 per cent more beautiful, if they attended to the laws of hygiene and cultivated their minds—what a lovely planet this would be!

Why have so many of the greatest men of genius been unhappy in their Love and Marriage? Because they had in their minds the loveliest visions of possible feminine perfection, but did not find them realised in life. For a while their pre-eminently strong imaginations helped them to keep up the illusion; but the truth would out at last; and in the pangs of disappointment they threw themselves upon the poetic device of Hyperbole, and tried to console themselves by painting the images of perfection which did not exist in life.

Love, it is true, is not the only theme which they have embellished with the ornaments of Hyperbole. A wonderful example of non-erotic Hyperbole occurs in Macbeth—

“Will all great Neptune’s ocean wash this blood
Clean from my hand? No, this my hand will rather
The multitudinous seas incarnadine,
Making the green one red.”

But as a rule the finest specimens of poetic imagery are to be found in erotic Hyperbole; and it seems most strange that Goldsmith, who had so deep an insight into Love, does not mention this variety at all in his essay on Hyperbole.

Love, says Emerson, is “the deification of persons”; and though the poet, like every other lover, “beholding his maiden, half-knows that she is not verily that which he worships,” this does not prevent him from idealising her portrait, and sketching her as he would like to have her. A few additional specimens of such poetic Hyperbole may fitly close this chapter—


“She is mine own,
And I as rich in having such a jewel
As twenty seas, if all their sand were pearl,
The water nectar, and the rocks pure gold.”


“A honey shower rains from her lips.”


“O, thou art fairer than the evening air
Clad in the beauty of a thousand stars.”

166And again—

“Many would praise the sweet smell as she past,
When ’twas the odour which her breath forth cast;
And there for honey bees have sought in vain,
And, beat from thence, have lighted there again.”

Or, as Lamb puts it, lovers sometimes

“borrow language of dislike;
And instead of ‘dearest Miss,’
Jewel, honey, sweetheart, bliss,
And those forms of old admiring.
Call her cockatrice and siren,
Basilisk and all that’s evil,
Witch, hyena, mermaid, devil,
Ethiop, wench, and blackamoor,
Monkey, ape, and twenty more;
Friendly traitress, loving foe,—
Not that she is truly so,
But no other way they know
A contentment to express,
Borders so upon excess,
That they do not rightly wot,
Whether it be pain or not.”


“That they do not rightly wot, whether it be pain or not.” That is the keynote of Modern Love.

To a superficial Anakreon, who knows but its rapturous phase, Love is all honey and moonshine. The celibate Spinoza, too, ignorant of the agonies of Love, defined it as lætitia concomitante idea causæ externæ—a pleasure accompanied by the idea of its external cause. Burton, on the other hand, claims Love as “a species of melancholy”; and Cowley sings—

“A mighty pain to love it is,
And ’tis a pain that pain to miss;
But of all pains the greatest pain
It is to love, but love in vain.”

The poets generally have taken a less one-sided view of the matter by depicting Love under a thousand images, as a mysterious mixture of joy and sadness, of agony and delight.

So Bailey—

“The sweetest joy, the wildest woe is love.”


“Pains of love be sweeter far
Than all other pleasures are.”


“Thou bitter sweet, easing disease
How dost thou by displeasing please?”


“Love is ever sick, and yet is never dying;
Love is ever true, and yet is ever lying;
Love does doat in liking, and is mad in loathing,
Love, indeed, is anything, yet indeed is nothing.”


“Amidst an ocean of delight
For pleasure to be starved.”
“’Tis nothing to be plagued in hell
But thus in heaven tormented.”


“To live in hell, and heaven to behold,
To welcome life, and die a living death,
To sweat with heat, and yet be freezing cold,
To grasp at stars, and lie the earth beneath.”


“She offereth joy, but bringeth grief;
A kiss——where she doth kill.”
“Tears kindle sparks.”
“Her loving looks are murdering darts.”
“Like winter rose and summer ice.”
“May never was the month of love,
For May is full of flowers;
But rather April, wet by kind,
For love is full of showers.”


“Good-night, good-night, parting is such sweet sorrow,
That I shall say good-night till it be morrow.”
“Love is a smoke raised with the fume of sighs;
Being purged, a fire sparkling in lovers’ eyes;
Being vex’d, a sea nourished with lovers’ tears;
What is it else? a madness most discreet,
A choking gall and a preserving sweet.”

Petrarch’s poems, says Shelley, “are as spells which unseal the inmost enchanted fountains of the delight which is the grief of love.” In that part of the Romance of the Rose which was written by Jean de Meung, and translated by Chaucer, occur many similar phrases depicting Love as an emotional paradox: “Also a sweet hell it is, and a sorrowful paradise;” “delight right full of heaviness, and drearihood full of gladness;” “a heavy burden light to bear;” “wise madness,” “despairing hope,” etc. Mr. Ruskin, 168who quotes the whole passage in his Fors Clavigera, declares: “I know of no such lovely love-poem as his since Dante.”

As for Dante, he fully realised the “sweet pain” of Love, as he called it. As far back as Plato’s Timæus we find that love, as then understood, was regarded as “a mixture of pleasure and pain.”

“’Tis the pest of love,” sings Keats, “that fairest joys bring most unrest.” Thackeray speaks of “the delights and tortures, the jealousy and wakefulness, the longing and raptures, the frantic despair and elation, attendant upon the passion of love.” But it is superfluous to cite modern authors, for volumes might be filled with quotations attesting that Love is neither a simple “lætitia,” as Spinoza defined it, nor “a species of melancholy,” but a mixture of joy and sadness, of rapture and woe.

Shakspere’s “violent sorrow seems a modern ecstasy” might be adopted as a general motto for a book on the psychology and history of Love.

Love, it is true, is not the only passion characterised by such a paradoxical mixture of moods. Thus in Macbeth the sentence, “on the torture of the mind to lie in restless ecstasy,” does not refer to Love; and John Fletcher, too, sings in a general way—

“There’s naught in this life sweet
If man were wise to see’t,
But only melancholy,
O sweetest Melancholy!”

A German author, Oswald Zimmermann, has even written a volume of almost two hundred pages, wherein he endeavours to analyse various emotions and historic phenomena, in which pleasure and pain are intimately associated. He has chapters on the Beautiful in Art and in Nature, on Death, on Mysticism, on the ancient festivals of Dionysus and Aphrodite, on the mediæval flagellants, on lust and cruelty, on various epochs of modern literature, etc. His book bears the curious title Die Wonne des Leids, because he holds that there is in these phenomena an “Ecstasy of Woe,” distinct from pleasure and pain, pure and simple, and superior to them.

Hartmann, the pessimist philosopher, goes a step farther, and claims that “there is no pleasure which does not contain an element of grief; and no pain without a tinge of pleasure.” This is obviously an exaggeration; for what is the element of anguish that enters into the feelings of a successful lover when he imprints the first kiss on the lips of the girl who has just promised to be his 169wife? or what the element of pleasure in the feelings of a jealous lover the moment he hears that his rival has won the prize?

Yet, if we except a pleasurable or painful climax, like these, Hartmann’s maxim may be accepted as approximating the truth, especially in the case of Love, which, more than any other passion, constantly changes its moods, so that, from their close proximity, each one cannot fail to rub off some of its colour on the others. Who but a lover can experience in one brief second both the thrill of heavenly delight and the sting of deadly anguish—“Himmelhoch jauchzend zum Tode betrübt,” as Schiller puts it? A whole lifetime of emotion is crowded into the one night preceding a lover’s proposal: hope and fear chasing one another across his weary brain like a Witches’ Sabbath on the Brocken.

One would imagine that the moment when an admirer calls on his girl, to be fascinated by her smiles and graceful manners, and to be thrilled by her melodious voice, must be one of unmixed delight and ecstasy. But if the slightest doubt as to her feelings lurks in his mind, he is much more apt to be harassed by a peculiar bitter-sweet feeling. Will he make a good impression on her this time? he will ask himself; has she perhaps changed, or found another more acceptable admirer, and is she going to hint as much by her altered manner? These and a hundred other apprehensions will torture and depress him; so that he will more than probably lose that “easy manner and gay address” which are such mighty weapons in winning a woman’s heart.

Nor is the girl, on her part, free from the anguish of doubt. Though her admirer seems to be truly devoted to her, she has read in the song that “all men are not gay deceivers,” which somehow seems to imply logically that most men are gay deceivers. Perhaps, she will muse, he will only worship me as long as I leave him in absolute doubt as to my feelings; and subsequently, having gratified his vanity and secured my photograph, he will place it in his album to show to all his friends as his latest conquest, and then flit to another flower.

After all, Schopenhauer was right in saying that when we have no great sorrows the imagination invents small ones which torment us quite as much as the others. When one sees the peculiar delight lovers take in teasing and torturing each other, one feels tempted to believe with Zimmermann that there is “eine Lust am Schmerze”—that pain in itself contains a gratification, an “ecstasy of woe,” distinct from positive pleasure itself.

Yet it is hardly necessary to take refuge in such an emotional paradox in order to account for the value and luxury of Lovers’ 170Quarrels and all the various mixed moods of Love. A sufficient explanation is afforded by the principles of Contrast and emotional Persistence.

Owing to the fact that feeling seems to have a regular pulsation or rhythm, our hours of anguish are always interrupted by intervals of hope and happy retrospection—as in Chopin’s funeral march, where the gloomy dirge is interrupted for a time by a delicious melody of happy reminiscence, like a heavenly voice of consolation. When the nervous tension has become too great the string breaks and the bow resumes its straightness and elasticity. Hence it is that an uncertain lover actually gloats over the anguish of doubt and jealousy: for he has an instinctive fore-feeling that when the reaction of hope and confidence will come, he will enjoy an ecstasy of the imagination of which an always confident love has no conception.

Uninterrupted enjoyment of lovers’ bliss would soon dull the edge of pleasure, as an unbroken succession of sweet concords in music would cloy the æsthetic sense. The introduction of discords raises a longing for their resolution which, if gratified, restores to the concords their original charm and freshness, and thus prolongs the pleasures of music. A tourist after spending a month on the top of a Swiss mountain becomes comparatively indifferent to the scene of which he knows every detail by heart; but let his peak be hidden in dense clouds for a few days, and he cannot fail, on emerging again into sunlight, to greet the view with the same thrill of delight as on the day of his arrival.

It is their constant and unexpected changes from joy to sadness, from tears to smiles, that constitute the greatest charm of Heine and Chopin and make them the lyric poet and musician par excellence for lovers. Either a gladsome rainbow suddenly appears to illumine their lurid landscape; or, again, “their plenteous joys, wanton in fulness, seek to hide themselves in drops of sorrow.”

Even the famous

“For ought that I could ever read,
Could ever hear by tale or history,
The course of true love never did run smooth”—

what is it but another way of stating that that Love which has met with no impediments, in which anguish and delight have not warmed one another by mutual friction, has never broken out into a conflagration sufficiently brilliant to be recorded “by tale or history” as a remarkable specimen of “true love.” It is the plot-interest that fascinates the reader as well as the lover himself; 171it is the impediments and emotional conflicts, the coyness of fate, that constitute the principal charm in a tale of love; and it would take a very clever novelist to attract readers by an account of a courtship of which the happy result was a foregone conclusion at every stage.

Thus the magic effect of contrasted emotions suggests why pleasure alternating with woe in Love is more intense than pleasure uninterrupted. A mountaineer who has been wading through snowfields all day up to his knees enjoys the comforts of his slippers, a bright fire, and a cup of tea in the evening, twice as much as a man who has been all day at home.

On reflection, however, it seems as if Contrast, far from reducing things to their first principles, itself needed an explanation. Why is it that by contrasting two emotions we heighten their colour? A partial explanation was, indeed, suggested in speaking of discords: anguish begets desire, and the more intense desire has been, the more lively is its gratification. A more profound solution of the problem, however, is found in the fact that feelings have their echoes, which continue sometimes long after the original tone has ceased; and if meantime a new tone is sounded, it blends with the echo and produces a mixed feeling.

The sense of Temperature affords a simple illustration of this “echo.” Place two basins before you, one filled with tepid, the other with ice-cold, water. Put your right hand in the ice-water one minute, leaving the left in your pocket. Then put both hands into the tepid water. It will seem still tepid to the left, but quite warm to the right hand.

Some psychologists, however, deny that pleasures and pains ever coalesce into one feeling—that there is such a thing as a mixed feeling. They contend that the attention can be fixed on only one feeling at a time, that the stronger crowds out the weaker, and that it is only their rapid succession that makes two feelings appear simultaneous, just as a firebrand swung around rapidly seems to form a fiery circle.

Now it is quite true that the attention can be fixed on only one feeling at any given moment, and that the stronger crowds out the weaker so far as the attention is concerned: yet this does not prevent the prevailing feeling from being affected by the echo of the one which preceded it. If a man, buried in the labyrinths of a big hotel, is waked up in the night by cries of fire; though it may prove a false alarm, yet the effect of the fright will remain with him and cast a gloom over his whole day’s doings, however pleasant in themselves. And a doubtful lover’s enjoyment of his 172sweetheart’s sweetest smiles is often galled by the remembrance that on the preceding day she smiled just as sweetly on his odious rival. “For sorrow ends not when it seemeth done,” says Shakspere.

In his admirable Dissertation on the Passions, Hume cleverly makes use of a musical analogy to explain how different emotions may be mixed: “If we consider the human mind, we shall observe that, with regard to the passions, it is not like a wind-instrument of music, which, in running over all the notes, immediately loses the sound when the breath ceases; but rather resembles a string-instrument, where, after each stroke, the vibrations still retain some sound which gradually and insensibly decays. The imagination is extremely quick and agile, but the passions in comparison are slow and restive; for which reason, when any object is presented which affords a variety of views to the one and emotions to the other, though the fancy may change its views with great celerity, each stroke will not produce a clear and distinct note of passion, but the one passion will always be mixt and confounded with the other.”

Lunatic, Lover, and Poet.—A still better analogy of the manner in which one feeling may be modified by another is furnished by the optical phenomenon of after-images. If we gaze very steadily for half a minute at a green wafer and then at a sheet of white paper, we see on it a purple image of the wafer; purple being the complementary colour of green, i.e. the colour which, if mixed with green, produces white. The reason of this phenomenon is that, after looking at the green wafer, the nervous fibres in the eye which perceive that colour have become so fatigued that the fainter green waves in the white paper fail to make any perceptible impression on them; so that purple alone prevails for the moment. So to the infatuated swain who has been tortured by the green-eyed monster, Jealousy, the moment of remission, which would else be one of neutral indifference, assumes the hue of rosy hope and positive delight. Hours which to sober mortals would seem perfect blanks are thus to him full of intense feeling, simply because they are rebounds from a state of extreme tension in the opposite direction. He might be likened to a schoolboy whose sleigh is carried across the frozen river by its downward impetus and even ascends the hill on the other side some distance before it stops. Hence, like the madman and the man of genius, the amorous swain is always either down in a fit of melancholy, or in an exalted ecstasy of joy, rapidly alternating and weirdly intermingled—

173“The lunatic, the lover, and the poet,
Are of imagination all compact.”

Now poets are proverbially melancholy; and madmen, as Professor Krafft-Ebing tells us, are also more commonly tortured by depressing delusions than elated by pleasant ones. Hence, if the poet’s maxim, just quoted, be true, we should expect the lover’s prevailing cast of mind to be melancholy too; and so it is. Though he enjoys moments of delirious rapture, to which sober mortals are utter strangers, yet his misgivings are incessant, even when he is almost certain of success: and it takes but little to poison his cup; for, as Professor Volkmann remarks, “one drop of anguish suffices to gall a whole ocean of joy.” So the lover becomes “pale and interesting,” loses weight and appetite, and sighs away his soul. Were this emotional fermenting process allowed to last too long, his health would suffer seriously: but fortunately it ordinarily ceases in a year or so, yielding a wine which, though less sparkling and ebullient, is more mellow and less intoxicating. Romantic Love, in other words, is metamorphosed into conjugal affection which, among other attributes of Love, strips off its characteristic trait of melancholy, whereby it is easily distinguished from all other forms of affection. Before, however, we can pass on to consider in detail the differences between Romantic and Conjugal Love, the two remaining ingredients of Romantic Love—Individual Preference and Personal Beauty—must be briefly considered.


It happens occasionally, in the Western regions of the United States, that an Indian brave casts his eyes on a buxom pale-face girl and desires her in marriage. He offers her parents two ponies for her; he offers three, five, and even seven ponies; and when still refused he is the most mystified man in the world: cannot understand how any man can be so egregiously stupid or avaricious as to refuse his daughter for seven ponies! Ugh!!

It is needless to recapitulate the numerous instances cited in preceding pages, showing that throughout the world, until within a few centuries, Romantic Love could not exist because the girl’s choice, on the one hand, was utterly ignored, while the man, on the other, was equally prevented, by the lack of opportunities for courtship, from basing his choice on a real knowledge of the selected bride. The parents who did the selecting, always for the 174bride, and sometimes even for the bridegroom, were guided in their choice by money and rank and not by Health and Beauty, which inspire Love and follow as its fruits. The history of Love, till within three or four centuries ago, might, in short, be summed up in six words: No Choice, no Love, no Beauty—except in those rare cases where special hygienic advantages prevailed, or where lucky chance brought together a youth and a maiden who in the ordinary course of events would have fallen in Love with one another.

There is reason to believe, however, that even if in the early ages of the world the young had been allowed greater freedom in choosing a lover, Romantic Love, in its more ardent phases, would not have flourished to any great extent among primitive, ancient, and mediæval nations: for the reason that Love depends on Individualisation, and our remote ancestors were not so diversely individualised as we are.

Sexual Divergence.—Comparative ethnology, psychology, and biology show that specialisation is a product of higher evolution, i.e. that individual traits are developed in proportion as we proceed higher in the scale of life, physical and intellectual. It is true there are no two flowers in the fields, no two leaves in a forest, exactly alike in every detail: but the differences are infinitesimal, and almost require a microscope to see them. It is also true that the sheep in a flock, which appear almost alike to a casual observer, are individually known to the shepherd. Possibly a sharp-sighted and patient naturalist might live to distinguish himself by distinguishing the individuals in a swarm of bees, or a caravan of ants: but this would be counted little short of a miracle.

Furthermore, ordinary observers find it almost as difficult to distinguish individuals in a crowd of Chinese, Negroes, or Indians, as in a bee-hive. Closer acquaintance does reveal differences: but they are rarely so great as those between individuals in civilised communities. And in these civilised communities themselves we find greater differences, sexual differences pre-eminently, the higher we ascend. Between a peasant and his wife the difference, both physical and mental, is surely not half so great as that between a lawyer and his wife, a physician or professor and his wife. “The lower the state of culture,” says Professor Carl Vogt, “the more similar are the occupations of the two sexes;” and similarity of occupation entails similarity of attitude, expression, and mental habits. Mr. Higginson’s notion that civilisation tends to make the sexes more and more alike is true only as regards 175legal rights and social privileges; regarding their mental traits and physical appearance exactly the reverse is true. The peasant’s wife may have a tender heart for him and her children, but her domestic drudgery and hard labour in the fields make her features, her voice, and manners harsh and masculine. And who has not read a hundred times that the Indian squaws look quite as stern, stolid, unemotional, and masculine as their husbands?

That the ancient Greeks, though they may have possessed it, had but little regard for Individuality is shown especially in their sculpture, and in the fact that with them even marriage was considered less a private than a social matter. Lycurgus, Solon, and Plato agreed in viewing marriage as “a matter in which the state had a right to interfere;” and for the purpose of providing the state with legitimate citizens, it was therefore regarded as obligatory. The absence of emotional expression in Greek statues equally shows their indifference to Individualisation and their ignorance of Love: for Love is inspired not so much by regularity of features as by fascinating variety of emotional expression.

Thus the absence or disregard of individual traits among ancient nations helps, like the absence of individual Choice, to account for the absence of Romantic Love, the very essence of which—as distinguished from mere sexual passion—is the insistance on individual traits and the mutual adaptation of the lovers.

What sublime—or ridiculous—extremes, this absorption in individual traits reaches in Modern Love, no one need be told. Not only does the lover consider his maiden’s frowns more beautiful than other maidens’ smiles, but he longs to kiss the floor on which she has walked; and every ribbon that has clasped her waist, every jewel that has touched her ear or neck, becomes charged with a subtle and mysterious electric current that would shock him with a thrill of recognition should his fingers come in contact with them on a table, even in a dark room.

Making Women Masculine.—Nothing proves so irrefutably the hopelessness of the task undertaken by a few “strong-minded” women—namely, to equalise the sexes by making women more masculine—than the fact thus revealed by anthropology and history: that the tendency of civilisation has been to make men and women more and more unlike, physically and emotionally. Whatever approximation there may have been has been entirely on the part of the men, who have become less coarse or “manly,” in the old acceptation of that term, and more femininely refined; while women have endeavoured to maintain the old distance by a corresponding increase of refinement on their part. Should the Woman’s 176Rights viragoes ever succeed in establishing their social ideal, when women will share all the men’s privileges, make stump speeches, and—of course—go back to the harvest fields and to war with them—then good-bye, Romantic Love! But there is no danger that these Amazons will ever carry their point. They might as well try to convince women to wear beards; or men, crinolines.

Were any further proof needed that the sexes have been continually diverging instead of converging, it would be found in the fact that the young of both sexes are more alike than adults: in accordance with the law that the individual goes through the same stages of development as the race. And there are embryological facts which indicate even that there is some truth in the Platonic myth that the sexes at first were not separated; but that such separation took place probably for three reasons: to secure a division of labour; to prevent the full hereditary transmission of injurious qualities; and, thirdly, to secure the benefits of cross-fertilisation,—a result which in the higher spheres of human life is attained through Love, which is based on opposite or complementary qualities, and scorns near relationship.

Love and Culture.—The dependence of Love on Individualisation, and the dependence of Individualisation, in turn, on Culture, help us also to explain an apparent difficulty regarding the non-existence of Love among the lower classes in ancient Greece and elsewhere. For these classes were not subjected to the same chaperonage as the higher circles: and it might be inferred therefore that the possibility of free Choice must have led to real love-matches. Perhaps it did in those rare cases where culture had sent a rootlet down into a lower social stratum. But as a rule one would have looked in vain among the lower classes—as one does to-day, despite poetic fiction—for minds sufficiently refined to comprehend and feel the highly-complex and idealised group of emotions which constitute Romantic Love. Of course it would be absurd to include in this statement people of refinement who through misfortune have been plunged into abject poverty. They do not belong to the “Great Unwashed”—ὁἱ πολλοί.

When Stendhal asserts that in France Love exists only in the lower classes, while Max Nordau states that in Germany it is to be found in the higher classes only, they are probably both right—allowance being made for rare exceptions. What Love does exist in France—and it is preciously scarce—cannot possibly prevail except among the working people; and in Germany among the corresponding class it must be equally scarce, whereas in the middle and higher classes, where chaperonage is not nearly so strict and 177idiotic as in France, Cupid does contrive to find an occasional target for his arrows.


Fanny Brawne having complained to Keats that he seemed to ignore all her other qualities and have eyes for her beauty alone, Keats thus justified himself: “Why may I not speak of your beauty, since without that I could never have loved you? I cannot conceive any beginning of such love as I have for you but beauty. There may be a sort of love for which, without the least sneer at it, I have the highest respect, and can admire it in others: but it has not the richness, the bloom, the full form, the enchantment of love after my own heart.”

Fanny Brawne is not the only girl who has thus complained to her lover about his exclusive emphasising of her Personal Beauty. But all such complaints are useless. In Modern Love the Admiration of Personal Beauty is by far the strongest of all ingredients, and is becoming more so every year: fortunately, for thereby Romantic Love is becoming more and more idealised and converted into a pure æsthetic sentiment. Goldsmith, indeed, laid stress on the virtue of choosing a wife on the same principle that guided her in choosing a wedding-ring—for qualities that will wear. But Personal Beauty does wear, with proper hygienic care.

Feminine Beauty in Masculine Eyes.—In masculine Love, regard for youthful feminine Beauty has always played a rôle more or less important. But the effects of this kind of sexual selection in the lower races in increasing the amount of physical beauty in the world, have been commonly neutralised by the crude æsthetic notions prevailing among men as to what constituted feminine beauty. The weakness of the æsthetic overtone in Love, moreover, has hitherto prevented it from competing successfully with other marriage-motives. On the continent of Europe, to this day, the ugliest girl with a dowry of a few thousands is sure to find a husband and transmit her bodily and his mental ugliness to her offspring; while girls who could transmit a considerable amount of beauty, physical and mental, to their children, are left to fade away as old maids, because they have no money.

In this respect America sets a noble example to most parts of Europe. Thousands of young Americans marry penniless beauties every year, although they might have rich ugly girls for the asking. This is one of the things Frenchmen and Germans cannot understand, and class as “Americanisms.” And then they wonder why 178it is that there are so many pretty girls in Canada and the United States. Another “Americanism,” gentlemen. These pretty girls are the issue of Love-matches. Their mothers were selected for their Beauty, not for money or rank.

Not but that there are numerous exceptions to this golden rule of Love. Were there not, ugly women would be scarcer than they are, even in America.

Masculine Beauty in Feminine Eyes.—In woman’s Love the admiration of Personal Beauty has played a much less significant rôle than in man’s Love. If, nevertheless, the average man in most countries is perhaps a better specimen of masculine Beauty than the average woman of feminine Beauty, this is owing to the facts that sons as well as daughters may inherit their mother’s beauty, and that men, leading a more active and athletic life, are more beautiful than women in proportion as they are more healthy.

In the past barbarous times the constant wars and the unsettled state of social affairs made it important for women to select men not for their beauty, but for their energy,energy, courage, and manly prowess. Desdemona falls in Love with the Moor despite his colour and ugliness; and why? Othello himself tells us—

“She loved me for the dangers I had passed,
And I loved her that she did pity them.”

And it is on beholding Orlando vanquishing the Duke’s wrestler that Rosalind falls in Love with him. As Celia remarks: “Young Orlando, that tripped up the wrestler’s heels and your heart, both in an instant.”

Women are conservative; and in the ludicrous feminine eagerness to make immortal heroes of the ephemeral victors in a boat-race or baseball match, we see an echo, in these peaceful days, of a feminine trait imprinted on them in warlike times.

Intellectual supereminence, in the meantime, was ignored by women. Petrarch’s verses made no impression on Laura, and Dante could not even win Beatrice with such poetic beauties as these lines—

“Whatever her sweet eyes are turned upon,
Spirits of Love do issue thence in flame,
Which through their eyes who then may look on them
Pierce to the heart’s deep chamber every one.
And in her smile Love’s image you may see
Whence none can gaze upon her steadfastly.”

There is, however, already a large class of superior women who 179have discovered that brains have displaced muscle in the successful struggle for existence, and that strong nerves are the true storage-batteries of courage and vigour in modern life. Hence the homage paid to men of genius.

In regard to masculine Beauty a change likewise has come over the feminine mind. Fashionable young ladies appear, indeed, to be as exacting in the matter of what they consider Personal Beauty as their beaux are. A barber’s pet is their pet, even as the fashionable man’s ideal of femininity is a milliner’s model. There can be hardly any doubt that this is an improvement on the taste of those savages who prefer their women black, with thick lips, flat noses, and tattooed, or smeared with a half-inch coat of paint.

Says a writer in the London Magazine (1823): “The pale poet, whose works enchant us all, is nobody in the park: with his shrunk cheeks and spindle legs, he sneaks along as little noticed as a fly; while a thousand fond eyes are fixed on the gay and handsome apprentice there, with just enough intellect to make the clothes which make him.”

Serves the pale poet quite right. His genius does not give him any right to neglect his health, or to allow the tailor’s apprentice to surpass him in attention to his personal appearance. Génie oblige. And whether geniuses or not, men should pay just as much attention to their dress and personal attractiveness as women.

A convincing illustration of my thesis that Personal Beauty is to-day a more important factor in woman’s Love than formerly, is afforded by the circumstance that formerly Love had the effect of making a man neglect his beard, and hands, and clothes, and indulge in general slovenliness, as we see in Rosalind’s summary of the symptoms of masculine Love, as well as in various passages in Cervantes and other authors; whereas to-day it is just the reverse, as noted under the head of Gallantry. It is most amusing to watch a man smitten with sudden passion: how carefully he adjusts his cravat, curls his moustache, brushes his hat and boots, polishes his finger-nails, removes spots from his coat, regards himself in the mirror, and—wishes he were a millionaire.

So much for the general relations between Love and Beauty. It now remains to consider in detail what peculiarities of personal appearance are and have been specially favoured by Love. This involves an æsthetico-anatomical analysis of every part of the human body from toe to top. To this analysis almost one half of this work will be devoted—showing the preponderating importance of Personal Beauty over the other factors in Modern Love. But before proceeding to this pleasant task it will be well, for the sake 180of continuity, to discuss the remaining aspects of Modern Love: how it differs from conjugal affection; how men of genius behave when in Love; what are the peculiarities of the physical expression of Love in features and actions; how Love maybe won and cured; and how the leading modern nations differ in their amorous peculiarities. A consideration of Schopenhauer’s theory of Love will then naturally lead us to the second part of this treatise, in which Personal Beauty alone will form our theme.


Perhaps the main reason why no one has anticipated me in writing a book showing that Love is an exclusively modern sentiment, and tracing its gradual development, is because no distinction has been commonly made between Romantic Love and Conjugal Affection, though they differ as widely as maternal love and friendship. The occurrence of noble examples of conjugal attachment as far back as Homer has obscured the fact that pre-nuptial or Romantic Love is almost as modern as the telegraph, the railway, and the electric light.

Two thousand and four hundred years ago the Greek philosopher Empedokles taught that there are four elements—fire, air, water, earth—which remain unchanged amid all combinations. Chemistry has long since shown that these supposed elements are compounds, and that the number of real elements is much larger.

In a similar way the tender or family emotions have been gradually distinguished from one another. Among the ancient Greeks φιλότης meant both friendship and sexual love, which, as we have seen, they strangely confounded, both in theory and in practice. To-day we distinguish not only between friendship and sexual love, but between the two phases of sexual love—Romantic and Conjugal Affection—the former of which was unknown to the Greeks. We do this not only because, as in the case of the chemical elements, our knowledge has become more precise and subtle, but because these emotions have been gradually developed, and have assumed different characteristics, so that it would be difficult at present to mistake one for the other.

As regards the difference between Conjugal and Romantic Love, however, the current conceptions are not yet so clear and definite; many good folks being, in fact, inclined to frown upon the suggestion that there is any such difference. Yet it is useless for them to endeavour, with well-meant hypocrisy, to impress upon the 181young the notion that Love is unchangeable, since no one who keeps his eyes open can help noticing how differently married couples behave from lovers. In marriage the dazzling blue flame of Romantic Love gradually grows smaller and dies away. But the coals may retain their glow and perchance keep the heart warmer than the former flickering flames of Love.

There is, indeed, a great moral advantage to be gained by frankly acknowledging that Love undergoes a metamorphosis in wedlock. It breaks the sting of cynicism. For if we are told that “marriage is the sunset of love,” or that “the only sure cure for love is marriage,” we may calmly retort, “What of it?” When the romantic passion subsides, its place is taken by another group of emotions, equally noble and conducive to the welfare of society. It is not an annihilation of anything, but simply a change: losing some pleasures, but gaining others in their place; getting rid of some pains to be burdened with others. Love’s metamorphosis into conjugal affection is like that of a wild rose into its red berry. Though less fragrant and lovely than the rose, the berry is almost as warm in colour, endures longer, and brings forth fresh plants to adorn future seasons.

Similes, however, are not arguments; and it behoves us therefore, for the benefit of bachelors and old maids, and of married folks who never were in love, to point out definitely wherein conjugal differs from Romantic Love; which at the same time will explain why conjugal affection was able to exist so many centuries before Romantic Love.

In preceding pages a fragmentary attempt has been made to characterise Love, and to show how its growth was impeded through the inferior social and intellectual status of women and the absolute chaperonage of the young. Maidens and youths had no opportunity to meet and become acquainted. Barter, and considerations of rank and expediency, took the place of affection, and parental authority that of individual choice. There was no prolonged courtship, hence no jealousy of rivals, no female coyness and coquetry, no alternating hopes and doubts, no monopoly of mutual admiration, no ecstatic adoration, sympathetic sharing of lovers’ joys and griefs, or pride of conquest and possession.

Conjugal affection, on the other hand, was much less retarded in its growth by such artificial arrangements, the outcome of strong man’s brutal selfishness. Polygamy was the chief impediment; but as soon as woman became sufficiently “emancipated” to claim a husband of her own, the soil was ready for the growth of conjugal affection. In its early stages this form of affection 182must have been much more crude and simple than it is in modern society. In most instances it was probably little more than a mere superficial attachment, growing out of the habit of living together for some time; the husband being attached to his wife on account of the domestic comforts and ease she provided for him, and the wife to the husband very much as a dog is to his master, who, though cruel, yet takes care of and feeds him.

How crudely utilitarian the conjugal bond is among primitive men may be inferred from Mr. Wallace’s remarks already quoted as to the motives which guide the maidens of certain Amazon-valley tribes in choosing their husbands. There is, he says, “a trial of skill at shooting with the bow and arrow, and if the young man does not show himself a good marksman, the girl refuses him, on the ground that he will not be able to shoot fish and game enough for the family.”

With the ancient “classical” nations there were, unless the poets have strongly idealised their characters, examples of conjugal affection hardly differing from the most refined modern instances. Owing to the then prevalent contempt for the female mind, however, such cases cannot be accepted as fair samples of the “general article”; and they only allow us to infer that, as with Love and with genius, so with conjugal affection, there were some early perfect instances anticipating by many centuries the general course of emotional evolution.

In the dark and warlike mediæval ages Conjugal Love, on the woman’s side, was apparently little more, as a rule, than a sense of devotion to her husband based on her need of protection against barbarous enemies; and what it was on the husband’s side may be inferred from his stern and often tyrannic rule in his own house, which was calculated to breed in his wife and children fear but neither conjugal nor filial affection.

In modern Conjugal Affection the elements are as diverse and as variously intermingled as in Love, if not more so; and it would be as difficult to find two cases of conjugal love exactly alike as two human faces, or two leaves in a forest. One man cherishes his wife chiefly on account of the home comfort she provides—the neat and tasteful domestic interior, the well-cooked dinners, the economic attention to household affairs, etc. Another man’s pride in his spouse is based on her conversational skill, her diplomatic art of asserting her place among the upper ten in society, and of adorning her drawing-rooms with the presence of prominent people of the day. A third husband loves his wife for her artistic accomplishments or her personal charms. Still 183another, an author, is devoted to his spouse because she cleverly assists his labours by criticism and suggestion, and still more because she takes such a sympathetic interest in his creations, and really thinks that no one since Shakspere has written like her own dear Adolphus.

These and a thousand like circumstances, with their attendant feelings, enter into the highly complex group of emotions subsumed under the name of Conjugal Love. Yet, since any one of these feelings may be absent without extinguishing Conjugal Affection, they cannot be regarded as its essentials or framework, but only as colouring material.

Nor is that which is commonly regarded as the strongest of all cements between husband and wife—the common love of their children—to be accepted as the essence of conjugal love. For childless couples present many of the most remarkable cases of devotion, while in many other cases the children not only fail to rekindle the torch of love, but even arouse jealousies and ill-feeling between their parents by showing a special preference for one or the other. Nevertheless, though not absolutely essential to conjugal love, the common parental feeling is one of its most important and constant ingredients; and there is none of its tributaries which adds more to the deep current of connubial bliss. It enables the parents to enjoy once more the simple pleasures of life, to which they had grown callous; it brings back the peculiarly delicious memories of their own childhood and youth; enables the father to discover his former sweetheart renewed in his daughter, and the mother her former lover in her son; while their common pride in the beauty or accomplishments of the children supplies them with a never-failing topic of conversation and source of sympathy.

And this suggests what must be regarded as the real kernel of conjugal attachment—a perennial mutual sympathy regarding not only the affairs of their children but every other domestic affair—in other words, a complete and necessary harmony of feelings and interests. The accent rests on the word necessary; for it is this feeling of necessary communion of interests that distinguishes conjugal affection from Love and from friendship, in both of which there is a mutual sympathy, but not so far-reaching and inevitable. A lover’s fame or disgrace may be keenly felt by his sweetheart or his friend, yet society does not associate them with the other’s reputation or disgrace; and if the infamy is too great, they can easily sever their bond, without leaving a spot on their own good name. Not so with husband and wife. His promotion 184is her honour, and his fall her humiliation; for they are inseparably associated in the public mind, and cannot be parted except through divorce, which is equivalent to social suicide. Therefore theirs is “one glory an’ one shame,” and their destiny to “share each other’s gladness and weep each other’s tears.”

To make this matrimonial harmony complete, it is necessary that there should be a real sense of companionship, i.e. common tastes and topics of conversation. “Unlikeness may attract,” says Mill, “but it is likeness which retains; and in proportion to the likeness is the suitability of the individuals to give each other a happy life.” The opposite qualities by which lovers are often attracted are chiefly of a physical nature. Where the mental differences are great—where he, for instance, is fond of books and music, while she wishes his books and his piano in Siberia; or she fond of parties, pictures, and theatres, and he bored to death by them: in such cases genuine Romantic Love cannot survive a few weeks of constant companionship, and hopes of nuptial bliss must end in disappointment.


Horwicz places the essence of Conjugal Love in the feeling of being indissolubly united; and this agrees substantially with our conclusion that it lies in a necessary mutual Sympathy concerning every affair of vital interest. Now if this obligato Sympathy is facilitated by a communion of tastes, as just suggested, there is no reason why conjugal life should not retain some of the other elements which constitute the charm of Romantic Love. Novelists and dramatists will perhaps continue to avoid wedded life as a theme because it lacks the plot-interest, the uncertainty, and the consequent Mixed Moods of pre-nuptial Love. Emotional Hyperbole, too, will rarely survive the honeymoon, for, as Addison remarks, “When a man becomes familiar with his goddess, she quickly sinks into a woman.” Yet a woman, too, is not such a bad thing after all, if you know how to manage her. Jealousy is a trait of Romantic Love that is only too apt to survive in marriage. By a judicious use of its sting a neglected wife can bring her husband back to her feet. But it is a double-edged tool, dangerous to toy with. The Pride of Conquest becomes changed into Pride of Possession or a vain feeling of Proprietorship, which will continue so long as the husband or the wife retains those self-sacrificing qualities which distinguished them during Courtship—which, however, rarely happens. Where 185possession is assured and sanctioned by law, Coyness is of course out of the question; yet a clever woman can by a judicious adaptation of the arts of Flirtation do much to keep alive the glowing coals of former romantic passion. All she has to do is to devise some novel methods of fascinating the husband, and then keep him at a distance till he resumes the tricks of devoted Gallantry which had once made him such an acceptable lover.

It is the growing indifference to Gallantry, to the Desire to Please, active and passive, that is responsible for the usual absence of romance in conjugal life. And there seems to be a general ungallant consensus among writers, masculine and feminine, that women are more responsible for this state of affairs than men. “The reason,” says Swift, “why so few marriages are happy, is because young ladies spend their time in making nets, not in making cages.” Young ladies have, no doubt, greatly improved since the days of Swift; but in the vast majority of cases their device still is to learn a few superficial tricks of “culture,” and to practise the art of personal adornment, until they have caught a husband, and then to bid good-bye to all music, and art, and study, and improvement of the mind, as well as to the “bother” of attending to Personal Beauty while the husband only is about. As if it were not a thousand times more important to retain the husband’s romantic adoration and Gallantry, originally based on that beauty, than to enjoy the momentary admiration of a third person!

On this topic the German poet Bodenstedt has some remarks which show that, after all, the excessive Oriental Jealousy which forbids women to appear unveiled in public rests on a basis of common sense:—

“Just as it is possible to trace most absurdities to an originally quite reasonable idea, so not a few things may be said in favour of the Oriental custom which allows women to adorn themselves only for their husband, and to unveil their face only before him, while outside of the house it is their duty to appear veiled and in as unattractive a costume as possible. With us, it is well known, the opposite is true: at home the women devote little attention to their toilet, and only adorn themselves when they have company or go out visiting; in one word, they display their charms and their finery more to please others than their own husband,” etc.

Surely no one wishes our women to reserve their charms exclusively for their husbands. On the contrary, such a proceeding would be considered quite as unreasonable and selfish as to lock up a Titian or a Murillo in a room accessible to a single person only; 186but certainly the husband should not be entirely overlooked in his wife’s Desire to Please by her Personal Beauty. His Pride on seeing others admire her does not alone suffice to prolong his romantic adoration. Don’t be too sure, Amanda, that your husband is yours because you are married. He is yours in Law, but not in Love, unless you preserve your personal charms in his presence.

The fact that, whereas in Romantic Love men are superior to women; in conjugal life, on the other hand, woman’s love is commonly much deeper and more lasting than man’s, indicates in itself that marriages are made or marred by women. (For the sake of the lovely alliteration some writers would have said—against their conscience—that “marriages are made or marred by men;” but alliteration will have to be ignored in this place in favour of facts.) Before marriage, women are more beautiful and fascinating than men, wherefore men love them more ardently than they love the men. After marriage, it is the men who grow more beautiful, more manly, in body as well as in mind; hence it is but natural that their wives should love them more and more. So would wives be loved more and more if they did not so soon after thirty lose their physical charms, without trying, by reading books or at least the newspapers, to make themselves intellectual companions of their husbands, able to converse interestingly on various topics.

The old excuse that motherhood inevitably lessens woman’s charms is all nonsense. Married women at thirty are almost always handsomer than old maids of thirty. Women grow stout and clumsy, or thin and faded so soon, not because they are mothers, but because they are indifferent to the laws of health; because they refuse to go out to get fresh air and exercise, which would preserve the freshness of their complexion, the graceful contours of their bodies, and the elasticity of their gait. The morbid fondness for a hot-house atmosphere, and the horror of fresh air, draughts, and vigorous exercise, have done more to shorten man’s Love and woman’s Beauty than all other causes combined. The road to lasting Love is paved with lasting Beauty.

Inasmuch as Conjugal Affection was not—as might be naturally supposed—historically developed from Romantic Love, since it existed long before Romantic Love, the peculiarities of this later passion are not normally present in Conjugal Love. To what extent, however, they can be smuggled in, has just been shown; and it is one of the great social tasks of the future to make Conjugal and Romantic Love as much alike as possible: not by making the poetry of romance more prosaic, but by making the prose of 187conjugal life more poetic. But so long as Romantic Love is discouraged, Conjugal Affection, too, will of course be unable to borrow its unique charms. Hence an additional reason for facilitating the opportunities for Courtship and prolonging its duration.


The number of parents who believe that their infallible wisdom is a better guide matrimonial than their daughters’ choice inspired by Love, is still so large that it is worth while to add a few words in the hope of removing this obstacle to the universal rule of Cupid. Let Mrs. Lynn-Linton be their spokeswoman. “If it seems a horrible thing,” she says, in The Girl of the Period, “to marry a young girl without her consent, or without any more knowledge of the man with whom she is to pass her life than can be got by seeing him once or twice in formal family conclave, it seems quite as bad to let our women roam about the world at the age when their instincts are strongest and their reason weakest—open to the flatteries of fools and fops—the prey of professed lady-killers—objects of loverlike attentions by men who mean absolutely nothing but the amusement of making love—the subjects for erotic anatomists to study at their pleasure. Who among our girls after twenty carries an absolutely untouched heart to the man she marries?”

No doubt there is force in these remarks: but they do not apply to the Girl of the Period. They apply only to the girl brought up on the old system of being left in complete ignorance regarding man and his wicked ways of heartless and meaningless flattery. But modern girls are not such fools as some people would think them. Tell them that men are only amusing themselves; a hint will suffice: and the man who imagines himself a “lady-killer” will suddenly find himself a victim of counter-flirtation and a butt of feminine sarcasm.

Tell girls, furthermore, not that every man loves his wife, but that many hate and maltreat their unfortunate spouse. This will make them cautious. Tell them that Love is not an absolute but a tentative passion, and that they must not yield to the first apparent symptoms and throw their hearts away frivolously. Tell them, above all, that men who are extremely gallant and complimentary, without being in the least embarrassed, are always insincere and sometimes dangerous: because a man who is truly in Love is always embarrassed. Tell them a few more such pessimistic truths about men, instead of allowing them to perish 188through optimistic ignorance, and the objections against free choice urged by Mrs. Lynn-Linton will vanish like vapour in sunlight. English and American girls are quite able to take care of themselves, because they are allowed to read all sorts of books, and therefore to know the world as it is. And if any one says that such knowledge has rendered English and American girls less delicate, less sweet and pure, than French and German hothouse buds, he utters an unmitigated falsehood.

Advocates of so-called “wisdom” marriages are fond of pointing out cases of unhappy married life, based originally on free Choice. But free Choice by no means always implies Love. Its motives are often pecuniary, or social; and in these cases the marriage actually comes under the head of “wisdom marriages,” whose champions are thus boxing their own ears. Besides, we must remember Byron’s words, that “many a man thinks he marries by choice who only marries by accident.” If a man marries his Rosaline before he has met his Juliet, he has only himself or his bad luck to blame, not Love.

The frequency with which runaway “love-matches” end unhappily, is adduced as another argument in favour of wisdom marriages. Two things are here forgotten: that in nineteen runaway matches out of twenty, the predominant passion is frivolity, not Love; and that quite a considerable proportion of unions not preceded by an elopement end unhappily; but being less romantic they are not so much talked about.

“Wisdom” marriages based on parental choice are those which have prevailed in the past: and we have seen how beautifully they coincided with woman’s degradation, ignorance, and social debasement.

Wisdom marriages are incompatible with Courtship, which becomes a superfluous preliminary to marriage. Modern methods of Courtship and engagement ordinarily prolong this period to about a year or two. This is the honeymoon, not of marriage, but of life itself, the time when earth is a paradise. During these two years the soul makes more progress in refinement, maturity, and insight than during any other decade of life. Shall all this happiness, all this refining influence, be thrown away with Love?

Compatibility of temper is the most important of all prerequisites to a happy marriage. Should Love be allowed to find out during Courtship if there is such a compatibility, before it is too late, or shall the inadequate judgment of parents unite two souls with as much mutual affinity as oil and water?

189Self-sacrifice for their children is considered the noblest of parental traits. Were Schopenhauer right in claiming that in Love-matches the parents sacrifice their individual happiness to the wellbeing of their children—would not this be an additional motive for abhorring wisdom marriages, in which the interests of the parents alone are consulted?


It would be foolish to deny, on the other hand, that Reason should be consulted as much as possible as long as Love allows it to have the floor for a moment. Thus men might, before it is too late, have an eye to Benjamin Franklin’s advice in regard to large families and the age of marriage.

Mr. F. W. Holland of Boston has collected some statistics concerning which Mr. Galton says, “One of his conclusions was that morality is more often found among members of large families than among those of small ones. It is reasonable to expect this would be the case, owing to the internal discipline among members of large families, and to the wholesome sustaining and restraining effects of family pride and family criticism. Members of small families are apt to be selfish, and when the smallness of the family is due to the deaths of many of its members at early ages, it is some evidence either of weakness of the family constitution, or of deficiency of common sense or of affection on the part of the parents in not taking better care of them. Mr. Holland quotes in his letter to me a piece of advice by Franklin to a young man in search of a wife, ‘to take one out of a bunch of sisters,’ and a popular saying that kittens brought up with others make the best pets, because they have learned to play without scratching. Sir W. Gull has remarked that those candidates for the Indian Civil Service who are members of large families are on the whole the strongest.”

A second bit of advice given by Franklin is perhaps less unquestionable: “From the marriages that have fallen under my observation,” he says, "I am rather inclined to think that early ones stand the best chances of happiness. The temper and habits of the young are not become so stiff and uncomplying as when more advanced in life: they form more easily to each other, and hence many occasions of disgust are removed.... ‘Late children,’ says the Spanish proverb, ‘are early orphans.’ With us in America (1768) marriages are generally in the morning of life; our children are therefore educated and settled in the world by noon; and thus, our business being done, we have an afternoon 190and evening of cheerful leisure to ourselves.... By these early marriages we are blessed with more children; and from the mode among us founded by nature, every mother suckling and nursing her own child [1768], more of them are raised. Thence the swift progress of population among us, unparalleled in Europe."

“Marriages,” says Theodore Parker, “are best of dissimilar materials;” and Coleridge remarks, similarly: “You may depend upon it that a slight contrast of character is very material to happiness in marriage.” But would it be possible to find two individuals who did not present “a slight contrast of character”? Coleridge apparently did not think much of the average conjugal union of his day: “To the many of both sexes I am well aware,” he says, “this Eden of matrimony is but a kitchen-garden, a thing of profit and convenience, in an even temperature between indifference and liking.” What a married person wants is “a soul-mate as well as a house or yoke-mate.”

Young men are often warned not to marry for beauty, because it is but skin-deep. But surely a millimetre of beauty is worth more than a yard of ugliness, though whitewashed with rank, money, or general utility. “A thing of beauty is a joy for ever.”


One way in which Romantic Love fulfils its mission of increasing the amount of Personal Beauty in the world, is by eliminating ugly and masculine women as Old Maids, and thus preventing them from transmitting their characteristics to the next generation. Were it not for the fact that the average man is quite devoid of æsthetic taste and incapable of ardent Romantic Love, and that therefore considerations of wealth and social advantages guide him in his choice of a wife, ugly women would rarely be found outside the ranks of Old Maids. As it is, it happens only too often that dowerless beautiful women are condemned to live and die in single blessedness, while the ugly people fill the world with photographic copies of themselves.

Why is it that every refined man feels an instinctive aversion to masculine women? Because a masculine woman is an exception to the laws of nature, a lusus naturæ, a monstrosity. We find even among the lower animals that the females differ widely, as a rule, in traits and appearance from the males—sometimes so much so that there are instances on record of females and males having been for a time supposed to belong to different species; and the differences 191grow greater the more the sexual functions are developed and specialised. Yet Amazons occur even among animals. “Characters common to the male,” says Darwin, “are occasionally developed in the female when she grows old or becomes diseased, as, for instance, when the common hen assumes the flowing tail-feathers, hackles, combs, spurs, voice, and even pugnacity of the cock.”

Among the warlike Greeks, who knew only masculine or mono-sexual love, Amazons were naturally esteemed, as they did not clash with their feminine ideal. “How popular a subject the Amazons were for sculptors,” says Grote, “we learn from the statement of Pliny that the most distinguished sculptors executed Amazons, and that this subject was the only one upon which a direct comparison could be made between them.” But the progress of time, as we have seen, has more and more differentiated men and women, in appearance and traits of character; and the modern ideal of woman is exclusively feminine, i.e. devoid of hackles, spurs, cock-a-doodle-doo, and pugnacity. Hence the political Virago movement is an evil which will never make any progress, thanks to the constant elimination of masculine women through that adorable process of Sexual Selection known as Modern Love.

Masculine women are always condemned to bury their unwomanly proclivities with their spinster-selves, unless they are very rich, or unless they can find a correspondingly effeminate man who wishes to neutralise his abnormalities in his children by marrying a spouse whose faults are an excess in the opposite direction. In such a case a virago may possibly even inspire Romantic Love, mirabile dictu!

An ugly woman, on the other hand, need never despair of finding a husband; she has at least eight chances of getting married. In the first place, she may, like a masculine woman, inspire true Love in a man whose faults are the opposite of hers; secondly, she may fall in love with a man of faultless proportions, and while in Love her features will be so transfigured and beautified that he cannot help returning her Love; thirdly, she may meet a man who, from want of æsthetic taste, prefers a chromo to a Titian; or a fourth, who would rather marry an amiable and useful ugly girl than a spoiled beauty. Wealth and social position supply two more resources. Accident may favour her, through the absence of prettier rivals, giving no opportunities for odious comparisons; and, finally, she may meet an elderly bachelor who has wearied of his single blessedness and longs for double strife.

As for those Old Maids who are neither ugly nor masculine, 192some of them are quondam coquettes who practised their arts just one season too long and “got left” in consequence; others are girls whom silly methods of chaperonage or ill-luck have prevented from making the acquaintance of men whom they could have respected and loved; so that it is often the most refined and intelligent women who are thus doomed to remain single because they are unwilling to marry beneath their station, socially or intellectually. They form that class of whom De Quincey says, that they “combine more intelligence, cultivation, and thoughtfulness than any other in Europe—the class of unmarried women above twenty-five—an increasing class, women who, from mere dignity of character, have renounced all prospects of conjugal and parental life rather than descend into habits unsuitable to their birth.”

Women who are too ugly to inspire Love may nevertheless feel proud of being a class of Vestal Virgins who serve the cause of Love by abstaining from adding to the number of unattractive people in the world by hereditary transmission. On the other hand, Old Maids who are blessed with beauty, owe it to the cause of Love to make every effort, consistent with feminine modesty, to get married. Not only because their children will be beautiful, but because a woman who never marries can never experience the two emotions which do more than any others to ennoble and mature the feminine mind—conjugal and maternal love.

Those Old Maids, however, who have not yet passed their thirtieth year, may even claim that they represent the most perfect and advanced type of maidenhood, and look down on girls who marry before twenty-five as little better than savages. For it is well known that the age of marriage advances with civilisation. Among Australians and other savages girls marry at eleven, ten, or even nine years; among semi-civilised Egyptians, Hindoos, etc., the age is from twelve to fourteen; southern European peoples marry their girls between the ages of fifteen and eighteen; while with those nations who lead modern civilisation, the average age of marriage for a woman is now twenty-one, with a tendency to rise. Does it not follow from this, by inexorable logic, that girls who remain single at twenty-five or twenty-nine are forerunners of a still higher type of civilisation? and that the only trouble with them is that they are so far in advance of their age and civilisation? True, ungrateful man does not look upon them in that light; but herein they share the fate of all true greatness. There is one difference, however, between undervalued men of genius and Old Maids: the men of genius admit they are in advance of their age, and are proud of it; the Old Maids never, at least, hardly ever.

193In one of his most fascinating essays on The Main Currents of Modern Literature, the Danish critic, Dr. Georg Brandes, discusses the proper age of feminine Love in a manner which Old Maids will especially appreciate. He points out that Eleonore, the heroine of Benjamin Constant’s novel Adolphe, is the first specimen of a modern type subsequently made fashionable by Balzac and George Sand, namely, the woman of thirty in Love. Formerly, as Jules Janin remarks, the woman between thirty and forty years of age was lost for passion, for romance, and the drama; now she rules alone. The girl of sixteen, as adored by Racine, Shakspere, Molière, Voltaire, Ariosto, Byron, Lesage, Scott, is no more to be found. And Mme. Emile de Girardin thus attempts to defend Balzac: “Is it Balzac’s fault that the age of thirty to-day is the age of love? Balzac is compelled to depict passion where he finds it, and at this day it is not to be found in the heart of a girl of sixteen.”

So far as these remarks are true they afford a new confirmation of my assertions that true Romantic Love is dependent on a certain amount of intellectual power and maturity, and that in consequence man loves more deeply than woman at the age preceding marriage. In England and America novelists still persist in making women love at any age from eighteen, and they have a right to do so, because in these two countries women are well enough educated and experienced in life at eighteen to be able to love. In France girls receive such a superficial education that they are ordinarily quite impervious to any deep emotions before they are either Old Maids or married. But in most cases they are married before twenty without regard to their own wishes. And then happens what is indicated in Fuller’s aphorism: “It is to be feared that they who marry where they do not love, will love where they do not marry.” And hence it is that the only love depicted by French novelists and playwrights is the adulterous love of a faithless wife. Could anything more vividly illustrate the criminal absurdities of French education and the French system of chaperonage?

In France a girl is not even allowed to cross the street alone until she is willing to assume the name and with it the comparative freedom of an Old Maid. In Spain, the author of Cosas de España tells us, Old Maids are rare because a girl generally accepts her first offer; and there are probably not many girls who do not receive at least one offer in their life—masculine women always excepted. In Russia, where women, according to Schweiger-Lerchenfeld, enjoy almost as much liberty as in America, a 194curious custom prevails by which a girl of uncertain age may escape the appellation of Old Maid. She may leave home and become lost for two or three years in Paris, London, or some other howling wilderness of humanity. Then she may return to her friends neither as maid nor wife, but as a widow. And it is “good form” in Russian society to accept this myth without asking for details.

Finally the important question remains: “What is an Old Maid?” That depends very much on individuals and the care they take of their Health and Beauty. Some women are Old Maids at twenty, the majority at thirty, and some not before forty; while those girls who will read the chapters on Personal Beauty in the last part of this treatise, and follow all the advice there given, will never become Old Maids at all, but will be gobbled up before twenty-three by eager bachelors previously considered hopeless cases of celibacy.

Even if it were possible to name a definite age as that when a girl begins to be an Old Maid, it would be a bit of useless information, because nobody ever knows how old a woman is. Often it is easier to tell a woman’s age by her conversation than by her looks: some incipient Old Maids constantly hint at their former numerous flirtations, which they never did while they really had them.


“Pirates of Love who know no duty.”

Of all the brutes enumerated in the human branch of zoology the deliberate bachelor is the most unreasonable and selfish. Unreasonable, because he voluntarily deprives himself of connubial bliss, domestic comforts, and the prospect of being cheered and cared for in his old age by a family of loving children. Selfish, because at present the bread-winning arrangements are almost entirely framed for man’s convenience alone, wherefore it is his duty to support a wife.

Masculine selfishness, however, is not exclusively responsible for the rapid increase of bachelordom. The women themselves are largely at fault—in two ways. The modern tendency of concentrating population in large cities makes domestic life a much more expensive affair than it is in smaller towns or in rural districts; and at the same time women are gradually invading every sphere of masculine employment, thus reducing wages by competition and making it more and more difficult for a man to earn an income 195which allows him to marry. This aspect of the question, once before alluded to, is one which the advocates of Woman’s Rights are too apt to ignore. For the benefit of poor young girls, and widows, and old maids, it is, indeed, but just that various employments adapted to female hands should be thrown open to them and properly remunerated; but if the effect of this is simply and constantly to increase the number of single poor women, by making marriage impossible, what is gained by the change? A certain amount of misery is inevitable in the world; and it seems better that it should be distributed where it will not imperil the popularity and possibility of marriage.

After all, self-supporting women must always be the exception, not the rule; for it is the destiny of the vast majority of women to be wives; and regarding these even Mr. Mill admits “it is not ... a desirable custom that the wife should contribute by her labour to the income of the family.” Now surely it would be most absurd, as some “strong-minded” women are trying to do, to arrange the educational scheme of all women so as to benefit the exceptional women who are excluded from matrimony. A thousand times more important is it to change woman’s education so as to enable her to look after her household affairs. It is by neglecting to do this that women supply the second cause for the increasing prevalence of Bachelors. Every man is expected to learn his trade properly before marriage; but woman’s proper occupation—the art of taking care of home and making it a paradise, is commonly supposed to be a thing that can be learned easily enough after marriage. Even when a woman is so wealthy that she is not obliged to do any housework at all, she should, like a ship’s captain, learn all about the duties of subordinates, else she will be unable to command them properly. A captain who displayed ignorance on any point before his sailors would lose their respect and attitude of prompt obedience; and it has been suggested that one reason why American women, especially, have so much trouble with their servants, is because they know so little about domestic economy that the servants, ignorant as they are, become arrogant because of their superior knowledge.

On the subject of woman’s sphere, Herbert Spencer has written words which should be hung in golden letters in every schoolroom: “When we remember that up from the lowest savagery civilisation has, among other results, brought about an increasing exemption of women from bread-winning labour, and in the highest societies they have become most restricted to domestic duties and the rearing of children; we may be struck by the anomaly that at the 196present time restriction to indoor occupations has come to be regarded as a grievance, and a claim is made to free competition with men in all outdoor occupations.... Any extensive change in the education of women, made with the view of fitting them for business and professions, would be mischievous. If women comprehended all that is contained in the domestic sphere, they would ask no other. If they could see all that is implied in the right education of children, to a full conception of which no man has yet risen, much less any woman, they would seek no higher function” (Principles of Sociology, vol. i. § 340).

When every woman has learned how to cultivate flowers and vegetables in her domestic garden at the same time, the millennium will have arrived, and the word Bachelor be found only in Dictionaries of Antiquities.

Women are sometimes held responsible in still another way for the continuance of Bachelors in single boredom, viz. by refusing their Love and breaking their hearts. But surely, as the shepherdess in Don Quixote has so eloquently shown, it does not at all follow that if a man falls in Love with a woman, she must necessarily fall in Love with him; and if she does not love him, it is her duty not to marry him.

Besides, a broken heart is a very rare article in this world, and every nation has discovered a peculiar local remedy for it: the Spaniards by stabbing the girl who broke it; the Italians by annihilating the rival; the Germans by soaking the fragments in Rhine wine; the Englishmen by a change of air; and ultimately they all follow the example of the Frenchman who, on the day following the catastrophe, casts his eyes about for a new charmer; or, if they do not, but like a snail withdraw into their shell for the rest of their life, abusing all women as heartless, they are bigger fools than they look. What would you say of a fisherman who went out for a day’s sport and returned after an hour because the first trout that nibbled at the bait escaped?

It is the happy privilege of every Bachelor to have loved fully and deeply once in his life; but if his passion is not appreciated, it is his duty to try again; for, even as a stolen kiss is not a real kiss because it lacks the thrill of mutuality, so Love is not Love

“Till heart with heart in concord beats,
And the lover is beloved.”—Wordsworth.

True, La Rochefoucauld says that “The pleasure of love is in loving;” and Shelley echoes the same sentiment in his Prometheus

197“All love is sweet,
Given or returned....
They who inspire it most are fortunate
As I am now; but those who feel it most, are happier still.”

Yet neither the English poet nor the French essayist appears to have fathomed the full depth of the problem. It is as incorrect to say, “the pleasure of love is in loving,” as to say, the pleasure of Love is in being loved. To be loved by one I do not love is a matter of complete indifference, except so far as my Pride or Pity may be involved. To love where I am not loved, or am left in uncertainty, is more of anguish than of delight. To attain the highest ecstacy of Love I must both be in Love and able to say at the same time, “she loves me.” Reciprocity is not only “that which alone gives stability to love,” as Coleridge remarks, but that without which consummate Love is impossible.

Apparent exceptions occur only when the illusion of being loved is so vividly kept up by the imagination as to counterfeit reality; as in the case of Eleonore, who “became so intoxicated with her Love that she saw it double and mistook her own feeling for that of both” (Dr. Brandes).

Therefore a Bachelor who has been unsuccessful in his first or second Love has never enjoyed the highest bliss a human soul can attain, and is bound to try again. Nor need he ever despair. There are a thousand Juliets in the world for every man, and all he needs is the good luck to meet the one adapted to him: for she is his as soon as found; though she may at first have the “cunning to be strange.”


Though it is man’s duty and destiny to get married, yet the concurrent testimony of several famous authors appears to indicate that there is one thing which excuses celibacy, and may even make it a virtue—and that thing is the possession of Genius. Bacon claims that “certainly the best works, and of greatest merit for the public, have proceeded from the unmarried or childless men.” A more modern philosopher, Schopenhauer, expresses himself to the same effect: “For men of higher intellectual avocation, for poets, philosophers, for all those, in general, who devote themselves to science and art, celibacy is preferable to married life, because the conjugal yoke prevents them from creating great works.”

The same counsel is indirectly given in Moore’s Life of Byron, where he argues that “In looking back through the lives of the 198most illustrious poets—the class of intellect in which the characteristic features of genius are, perhaps, most strongly marked—we shall find that with scarcely one exception, from Homer down to Lord Byron, they have been, in their several degrees, restless and solitary spirits, with minds wrapped up, like silkworms, in their own tasks, either strangers or rebels to domestic ties, and bearing about with them a deposit for posterity in their souls, to the jealous watching and enriching of which almost all other thoughts and considerations have been sacrificed.”

“Either strangers or rebels to domestic ties.” Among the strangers, Moore names Newton, Gassendi, Galileo, Descartes, Bayle, Locke, Leibnitz, and Hume, to whom may be added Kant, Schopenhauer, Handel, Beethoven, Schubert, Plato, and many others.

Quite as large is the list of “rebels to domestic ties” among men of poetic genius. Says Moore: “The coincidence is no less striking than saddening that, on the list of married poets who have been unhappy in their homes, there should already be found four such illustrious names as Dante, Milton, Shakspere, and Dryden.” “The poet Dante, a wanderer away from wife and children, passed the whole of a restless life in nursing his immortal dream of Beatrice.” “The dates of the birth of his [Shakspere’s] children, compared with that of his removal from Stratford, the total omission of his wife’s name in the first draft of his will, and the bitter sarcasm of the bequest by which he remembers her afterwards—all prove beyond a doubt his separation from the lady early in life, and his unfriendly feeling towards her at the close.” “Milton’s first wife, it is well known, ran away from him within a month after their marriage, ‘disgusted,’ says Phillips, ‘with his spare diet and hard study,’ and his later domestic misery is universally known.” “The poet Young, with all his parade of domestic sorrows, was, it appears, a neglectful husband and a harsh father.”

Sir Walter Scott remarks, in his Life of Dryden: “The wife of one who is to gain his livelihood by poetry, or by any labour (if any there be) equally exhausting, must either have taste enough to relish her husband’s performances, or good-nature sufficiently to pardon his infirmities. It was Dryden’s misfortune that Lady Elizabeth had neither the one nor the other; and I dismiss the disagreeable subject by observing, that on no one occasion when a sarcasm against matrimony could be introduced, has our author failed to season it with such bitterness, as spoke of an inward consciousness of domestic misery.”

Richard Wagner when a young man married an actress, “pretty 199as a picture”; but she appears to have had little sympathy with his ambitions, so he lived apart from her. Subsequently he was very happy with Cosima, the daughter of Liszt, who did appreciate his genius. Liszt himself, after living some years with the Countess D’Agoult in Italy, separated from her. The girl whom Haydn married soon turned out a shrew, who had no sympathy whatever with his musical genius. Berlioz was one of the most passionate of lovers: “Oh, that I could find her, the Juliet, the Ophelia that my heart calls to. That I could drink in the intoxication of that mingled joy and sadness that only true love knows! Could I but rest in her arms one autumn evening, rocked by the north wind on some wild heath, and sleeping my last, sad sleep.” A few years after these rapturous effusions he arranged a séparation à l’aimable from his wife, his former flame, and left her to die in solitude and misery.

Handel, after all, was the wisest of the composers. He was never in Love, and had an aversion to marriage. In 1707 he went to Lübeck to compete for the place of successor to the famous organist Buxtehude; but when he found that one of the conditions of obtaining the place was the compulsory privilege of marrying the daughter of his predecessor, he got alarmed and fled precipitately.

Besides the disposition to wrap up their minds, like silkworms, in their own tasks, Poverty and the extreme difficulty of finding congenial companions appear to be the principal causes that have tended to make men of genius strangers or rebels to domestic ties.

There is an old saying that if Poverty comes in by one window, Love goes out by another. But Poverty, unfortunately, seems to be an almost necessary companion of Genius, at least in the early stages of its career, till the inertia natural to the human brain has been overcome. It is so much easier for the richest soils to grow a luxuriant crop of weeds than a useful crop which needs constant care, that there can be no doubt that wealth is responsible for the loss of much Genius to the world. There have been men of genius in whom the creative impulse was so strong, and the pleasure of creating so sweet—Goethe, Schopenhauer, Byron, etc.—that they needed not the goad of hunger; but as a rule a well-filled pocketbook does not encourage the habit of “infinite painstaking,” which is essential to Genius. But if a genius marries while he is poor, he will have to waste his time on rapid, ephemeral work to support his family; which will leave him neither leisure nor energy for work of enduring value. Hence he should either not marry at all or wait till he has an assured income. If money-marriages are 200ever justifiable, they are in such cases; and rich girls should make it the one object of life to capture a man of Genius, so as to give him leisure for immortal work. It appears, indeed, as if a sort of Conjugal Pride of this description were becoming fashionable; for one hears every month of some author or artist marrying an heiress. This is certainly the easiest way for a woman to become immortal; and what is a coquette’s gratified ephemeral vanity, compared with the proud consciousness of passing down to posterity linked with an immortal name, and of having helped to make that name immortal by removing the necessity for bread-winning drudgery!

Furthermore, there can be no doubt that the number of persons able to read a work of genius at sight, as it were, is growing larger every year. Great men do not have to wait for recognition so long as formerly, and this enables them to neglect ephemeral drudgery in favour of creative work.

As there has been an unparalleled unfolding and increase in feminine charms, both of body and mind, within the last half-century, it is not too optimistic to hope that the other source of domestic difficulties among men of genius—the extreme difficulty of finding a congenial companion—will also be removed, in course of time. Men of genius, as Moore remarks, have such rich resources of thinking within themselves, that “the society of those less gifted than themselves becomes often a restraint and burden to which not all the charms of friendship or even love can reconcile them.” To be completely happy a Genius should accordingly have a wife as remarkable among women for the womanly qualities of receptivity, grace, and sympathy, as he is among men for the manly quality of creative energy. Yet if it is so difficult for an ordinary man to meet his ordinary Juliet, how much more so will it ever be for an extraordinary man to find an extraordinary Juliet!

Thanks to their passion for Beauty, men of Genius are too prone to follow the impulse of the moment and marry a pretty doll, in the hope of being able to educate her into an attractive companion. Unluckily it rarely happens that the minds of these beauties are “wax to receive and marble to retain.” Pretty girls are commonly lazy—spoiled by the thought that their beauty atones for everything, and regardless of the future when this apology for indolence will have lost its persuasiveness.

Among the objections to the celibacy of Genius, the strongest is supplied by the laws of heredity—the desirability of having their superior mental qualities—often associated with corresponding physical beauty—transmitted to the next generation. Genius, it is true, depends on so many fortuitous circumstances that cases of 201direct transmission from father to son are rare enough; and Mr. Galton’s researches show that “the ablest child of one gifted pair is not likely to be as gifted as the ablest of all the children of very many mediocre pairs;” and that “the more exceptional the gift, the more exceptional will be the good fortune of a parent who has a son who equals, and still more if he has a son who overpasses him.” Nevertheless, it remains true that “the children of a gifted pair are much more likely to be gifted than the children of a mediocre pair.” Just as a professor’s son is born with a brain naturally more plastic and receptive than that of a young savage or peasant, so the children of a Genius who has not shattered his health by overwork or dissipation are likely to be of a mental calibre superior to that of an ordinary professor’s son. So that it is the duty of a man of genius to get married even at a sacrifice of personal happiness—provided that sacrifice is not so great as to interfere with his intellectual duties.


If we take the word Genius in the Kantian, imaginative, or æsthetic sense, it may be said that all Geniuses are amorous; and that the degree of their greatness may as a rule be measured by their susceptibility to feminine charms. The most poetic part of the Scriptures is the Song of Solomon with its glowing pictures of feminine charms. Homer, though he lived long before the age of Romantic Love, spent his life in describing the mischief caused by Helen’s beauty. Among the Roman poets the most original was also the most amorous. As Professor Sellar remarks of Ovid, “In the most creative periods of English literature he seems to have been more read than any other ancient poet, not even excepting Virgil; and it was on the most creative minds, such as those of Marlowe, Spenser, Shakspere, Milton, and Dryden, that be acted most powerfully ... and although the spirit of antiquity is better understood now than it was in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, yet in the capacity of appreciating works of brilliant fancy we can claim no superiority over the centuries which produced Spenser, Shakspere, and Milton, nor over those which produced the great Italian, French, and Flemish painters,” to whom Ovid supplied such abundant material.

Coming to more recent times, we have seen that Dante, the first modern poet, was also the first modern lover, rarely if ever surpassed in rapturous adoration. How the greatest of the Spanish 202bards was influenced by feminine beauty may be inferred from the glowing descriptions of it and its influence in Don Quixote; and as for Shakspere, even had he not written Romeo and Juliet, his early poems alone would prove him to have been in his youth every inch a lover; for no one, not even with Shakspere’s imagination, could have painted such unique feelings with his realistic and infallible touch, unless he had felt them more than once and had them indelibly branded on his heart’s memory.

In the galaxy of German poets Goethe ranks first, owing to his manysidedness. Yet he lacked the very highest of literary gifts—wit; and in this respect as well as through his deeper insight into Modern Love, Heine must be rated higher than Goethe. Heine’s personal loves are but thinly covered over by the clear amber of his lyrics, in which they are imbedded. Goethe’s loves have become proverbial for their number—Kätchen, Friederike, Lili, Charlotte, Christiane, etc. Schiller, Wieland, Bürger, Bodenstedt, and the lesser lights might all have appended a D.L., or Doctor of Love, to their names.

Shelley, Mr. Hamilton tells us, “had an irresistible natural tendency to fall in love”; and Byron, speaking of one of his loves, says, “I had and have been attached fifty times since, yet I recollect all we said to each other, all our caresses, her features, my restlessness, sleeplessness,” etc. And in the next chapter on “Genius in Love,” we shall meet with numerous similar cases of English, German, and French men of genius constantly in Love.

To account for this amorous propensity of Genius is easy enough. Genius means creative power allied with a taste for the Beautiful. This taste may be gratified by the contemplation of the beauties of Nature—the creative power by reproducing them on canvas or manuscript. But Nature’s masterpiece is lovely woman, who not only yields the highest gratification of artistic taste, but inspires Love: and what is Love but a creative impulse—a desire to link one’s name and personality, in future generations, with this embodiment of consummate human beauty?


“Love looks not with the eyes but with the mind,
And therefore is winged Cupid painted blind,”

suggests another reason why men of Genius are eternally involved in Love-affairs. The lover becomes infatuated not with the girl he sees but with the girl he imagines, using her features as a mere sketch to be filled up ad libitum

203“Such tricks hath strong imagination,
That if it would but apprehend some joy,
It comprehends some bringer of that joy;
Or in the night, imagining some fear,
How easy is a bush supposed a bear!”

To imagine a feeling is to entertain it; for an imagined impression revives the same cerebral processes that were aroused by the original sense impression. In ordinary minds the remembered image of a girl’s lovely features, the echo of her sweet voice, are much fainter than the original sight and sound; whereas the imagination of genius paints a face and recalls a voice as vividly as if they were present: so that here to think of Love is to be in Lovepro tempore.

Besides his refined taste and vivid imagination—which retouches every defective negative—it is the natural depth of his emotions that urges a Genius to fall in Love with every lovely woman. Passions are like dogs: the big ones need more food than the little ones. A peasant cannot experience the subtle and multitudinous emotions that fill the heart of an artist, a statesman, a scientific discoverer; much less the complex group of ethereal emotions that make up Romantic Love. The higher we rise in the intellectual scale, the more varied, complex, and deep are the emotional groups which delight and torment the soul. As Genius represents the climax of intellectual power, Love the climax of emotional intensity, is it wonderful that there should be an affinity between the two? The higher a mountain peak the more does it attract every passing cloud and clasp it to its breast—hoping—vainly hoping—to warm a heart chilled by its isolation above the rest of the world.

As men of genius are more prone to love than common sluggish minds, it is a lucky fact, for the future growth of Romantic Love, that Genius grows more and more abundant—pace the laudatores temporis acti who ignorantly compare the number of living geniuses with all those that have ever been—as if they had all lived at one epoch. It may even be granted that there have been epochs that had more geniuses than we have at present; but of genius there is more to-day than ever in the world’s history. We see almost daily in ephemeral periodicals lines and epigrams worthy of the highest genius, written by men whose names perhaps will never be known. Shaksperes, indeed, will always tower Mont Blanc-like over all other peaks; but if summits of the second magnitude seem less imposing to-day than formerly, it is because the general level of creativeness has been raised a few thousand feet. The mountains that enclose the Engadine valley, though 10,000 to 12,000 feet in 204height, seem only half as high, because the valley from which you see them lies at an altitude of 6000 feet.


Were there not a natural affinity between Genius and Love, authors and artists would cultivate Love as the source of their deepest inspiration. For if it makes a temporary poet of every peasant, what must be its effect in exalting the poet’s inborn power!

“When beauty fires the blood, how love exalts the mind;”


“Which awakes the sleepy vigour of the soul;”

and first

“Softened the fierce, and made the coward bold.”—Dryden.
“For indeed I knew
Of no more subtle master under heaven
Than is the maiden passion for a maid
Not only to keep down the base in man,
But teach high thought and amiable words,
And courtliness, and the desire of fame,
And love of truth, and all that makes a man.”—Tennyson.

The Love of men of Genius, as distinguished from that of ordinary mortals, is characterised by five traits—Precocity, Extravagant Ardour, Fickleness, Multiplicity, and Fictitiousness—which must be briefly considered in succession.


Turgenieff makes the narrator of one of his novelettes speak of his first Love as having been experienced at the age of six. That this is not a poetic license is abundantly proved by historic facts. “Dante, we know, was but nine years old,” says Moore, “when, at a May-day festival, he saw and fell in love with Beatrice; and Alfieri, who was himself a precocious lover, considers such early sensibility to be an unerring sign of a soul formed for the fine arts.... Canova used to say that he perfectly well remembered having been in love when but five years old.”

Byron’s first Love was at the age of eight. Concerning this he wrote at twenty-five: “How the deuce did all this occur so early? Where could it originate? I certainly had no sexual ideas for years afterwards; and yet my misery, my love for that girl [Mary Duff] were so violent that I sometimes wonder if I have ever been 205really attached since.’”since.’” Of his second Love-affair Byron says: “My first dash into poetry was as early as 1800. It was the ebullition of a passion for my first cousin, Margaret Parker, one of the most beautiful of evanescent beings. I have long forgotten the verses, but it would be difficult for me to forget her—her dark eyes [Byron had a passion for black eyes]—her long eyelashes—her completely Greek cast of face and figure. I was then about twelve—she rather older, perhaps a year. She died about a year or two afterwards.”

Burns was somewhat older when Love and poetry were born in his soul simultaneously: “You know our country custom,” he writes, “of coupling a man and woman together as partners in the labours of the harvest. In my fifteenth summer my partner was a bewitching creature, a year younger than myself. My scarcity of English denies me the power of doing her justice in that language, but you know the Scottish idiom. She was a bonnie, sweet, sonsie lass. In short, she, altogether unwittingly to herself, initiated me in that delicious passion, which, in spite of acid disappointment, gin-horse prudence, and bookworm philosophy, I hold to be the first of human joys here below.”

Heine’s first boyish love appears to have been a girl who died as a child, and is alluded to in his Pictures of Travel as the “little Veronica.” His second love was a most extraordinary case of Love at Sight. It was at a school examination, Robert Proelsz relates, “and Harry was just declaiming Schiller’s Taucher, when the lovely girl entered the room by the side of her father, who was one of the inspectors. The boy stuttered, gazed with large eyes on the beautiful figure, mechanically repeated the verse he had just recited—‘And the King his lovely daughter beckoned’—and was unable to proceed. In vain the teacher prompted him, the poor fellow’s senses failed him, and he fell on the floor in a swoon.”

Of another early visitation of sudden Love he gives an account in his posthumous memoirs. The girl on this occasion was the red-haired Sefchen, the sheriff’s daughter, who, when she was only eight years old, had witnessed the mysterious burial of her grandfather’s sword, which had done its duty a hundred times, and which some years later her aunt had dug out and secreted in the garret. “One day, when we were alone, I begged Sefchen to show me that curiosity. She willingly complied, went into the room, and soon came out with an enormous sword, which she swung vigorously despite her weak arms, while with a roguish, threatening tone she sang—

206“‘Will you kiss the naked sword
Which the Lord has given us?’

I replied in the same tone, ‘I will not kiss the naked sword, I will kiss the red-haired Sefchen;’ and as she could not defend herself, for fear of hurting me with the fatal steel, she had to let me boldly put my arms round her slender waist and kiss her defiant lips.”

Berlioz had his first passion at twelve, Rousseau at eleven. “When I saw Mlle. Goton,” writes Rousseau, “I could see nothing else, all my senses were in confusion.... In her presence I was agitated, and trembled.... If Mlle. Goton had ordered me to throw myself into the fire, I believe I would have obeyed her instantly.”

As old age is in many respects a second childhood, it seems natural that men of genius should appear “precocious” in this belated sense too. The case of Berlioz is one of the most extraordinary on record. The girl who was his first love at twelve he saw again at sixty-one: “I recognised the divine stateliness of her step; but, oh heavens! how changed she was! her complexion faded, her hair gray. And yet at the sight of her my heart did not feel one moment’s indecision; my whole soul went out to its idol, as though she were still in her dazzling loveliness.... Balzac, nay, Shakspere himself, the great painter of the passions, never dreamt of such a thing.” And in a letter to her he writes, “I have loved you, I still love you, I shall always love you. And yet I am sixty-one years of age.... Oh, madame, madame, I have but one aim left in the world—that of obtaining your affection.”

Another composer who had a passion at sixty was “Papa” Haydn—poor Haydn, whose wife led him such a terrible life, and used his manuscripts for curl-papers. Concerning her he wrote, “She is always in a bad temper, and does not care whether I am a shoemaker or an artist.” Indeed, she had never been his true Love, but was only taken in lieu of her younger sister, whom Haydn adored, but who refused him and became a nun. At sixty, however, in London, he had the fortune, or misfortune, to fall in Love again, with a widow named Schrolter, concerning whom he wrote, “She was a very attractive woman, and still handsome, though over sixty; and had I been free I should certainly have married her.”

Goethe, in his old days, fell in Love with Minna Herzlieb, a bookseller’s daughter. “In the sonnets addressed to her,” says Lewes, “and in the novel of Elective Affinities, may be read the fervour of his passion, and the strength with which he resisted.”

207Rousseau’s last Love forms one of the most romantic episodes in his life, concerning which nothing was known until a few years ago when the French historian, R. Chantslauze, discovered in a bookstall the MS. of a letter by Rousseau to Lady Cecile Hobart, dated 1770, when Rousseau was almost sixty years of age. He appears to have met this lady in England at the time when he was writing his Confessions. She had first won his affection by her admiration of his works; and in course of his long and hyper-sentimental letter he remarks, “Why is it that I have never felt any other true love but that for the products of my own fancy? Wherein lies the reason, Cecile? In these fancied beings themselves; they made me dissatisfied with everything else. For forty years I have carried in my mind the image of her I adore. I love her with a constancy, an ecstasy inexpressible.... I had no hope of ever meeting her, had given up the eager search for her, when you appeared before me. It was folly, infatuation, if you like, that made me surrender myself for a moment to the magic of your sight; but I could not but say to myself: There she is! No other woman ever inspired that thought in me. And stranger still is it that I could hear you speak without changing my opinion. What the ideal of my heart thought, you spoke it to my ears.”


If Bacon did not write the plays of Shakspere, it was the biggest mistake of his life. Second among his mistakes must rank the opinion expressed in the following sentence: “You may observe that amongst all the great and worthy persons (whereof the memory remaineth, either ancient or modern), there is not one that hath been transported to the mad degree of love.”

If the advocates of the Baconian theory had as much sense of humour as they stimulate in other people, they would see that such a sentence—and there are others like it in Bacon—could not by any possibility have been penned by the author of As You Like It, Venus and Adonis, or Romeo and Juliet.

Dante was by no means the only “great and worthy person” before Bacon’s day who had been “transported to the mad degree of love”; and since Bacon’s day the word Genius has become almost synonymous with the capacity for lovers’ madness.

Yet there is a grain of truth in Bacon’s sentence as it stands. He evidently had in mind chiefly the ancient “great and worthy persons”; and of these, as we have seen, but one or two had even a vague presentiment of what was to be some day the moral lever 208of the universe. Bacon probably had a dim perception of the fact that the ancients knew nothing of passionate Love, of the imaginative type; but he did not quite succeed in grasping the idea.

As regards Modern Genius, Bacon’s assertion is so far from the truth, that it is quite safe to reverse it and say that it is doubtful whether any one but a man of genius is capable of that intense ardour of feeling which marks the climax of Love; doubtful whether even Romeo at his age could have felt a passion such as Shakspere’s glowing imagination painted. Love is based, not on what a man sees with his eyes, but on the mental image retouched by the imagination; and a man of genius, being a virtuoso of the imagination, can adorn his ideal of love with ornaments unknown to ordinary mortals; whence it follows that the passion inspired by his more vivid and beautiful image must be more intense than the passion inspired by less perfect visions in common, sluggish brains. And since artistic thought can no more crystallise into verse or epigram without the warm glow of emotion than a flower can grow into a thing of beauty without its daily bath of warm sunshine, it is fortunate that Genius implies a natural susceptibility to the æsthetic passion of Love.

Fortunate also for the prospects of Romantic Love is the fact that Genius is king in its realms. Had not the sacred mysteries of Love been revealed to the world in the glowing language of poetry, it would probably have remained a thing unknown to ordinary mortals for centuries to come; even as the beauties of Nature, for which common minds have no eyes, would have remained undetected, had not the poets and artists disclosed the bonds that connect them with human sympathies.

As all the quotations from poets given in this chapter (and in that on Hyperbole) practically bear witness to the exceptional ardour of Love in men of genius, only two cases need be cited as specimens—those of Burns and Heine. Gilbert Burns, the brother of the poet, writes that the latter “was constantly the victim of some fair enslaver. The symptoms of his passion were often such as nearly to equal those of the celebrated Sappho. I never, indeed, knew that he ‘fainted, sunk, and died away’; but the agitations of his mind and body exceeded anything of the kind I ever knew in real life.”

Heine has given evidence in his letters as well as his poems that few even of his equals have ever felt the power of love so profoundly. It is well to emphasise this fact; for there are not a few who fancy that, like Petrarch, Heine embodied in his songs not the real feelings of his heart but fictitious emotions depicted 209to gratify poetic ambition. He did no such thing. His Love-poetry is the echo of real passion, of his first and only true Love, which cast a shadow over his whole life, and goaded him into bitter reflections more than a decade after its sad ending. He loved his cousin Molly, and writes to a friend, after an absence from home: “Rejoice with me! rejoice with me! in four weeks I shall see Molly. With her my muse will also return.” The muse did return, but in a different way from that which he had anticipated; with a smile in her face of cynicism, mockery, melancholy, which never again left her. “She loves me not!” he writes, in 1816. “Softly, dear Christian, pronounce that last word softly. In the first words lies the eternal living heaven, but in the last lies eternal living hell. If you could only see your friend’s countenance, how pale he looks, how bewildered, how insane, your righteous indignation at my long silence would vanish soon; better still were it if you could have one glance at my soul—then would you really learn to love me.” “I have seen her again—

“‘The devil take my soul,
My body be the sheriff’s,
Yet I for me alone
Select the loveliest woman.’

Hui! do you not shudder, Christian! Well may you shudder even as I do. Burn the letter, the Lord have mercy on my soul. I did not write these words. There on my chair sits a pale man; he wrote them. And this because it is midnight. Oh heavens! Madness cannot sin!”

“There, there, do not breathe so heavily, there I have just built a lovely card-house, and on the top of it I stand and hold her in my arms!... But indeed you can hardly fancy, dear Christian, how delightful, how lovely my ruin appears. Far from her, to carry burning desires in my heart for years, is torture infernal; but to be near her and yet oft sigh in vain, whole endless weeks, for my only delight, the sight of her and—and—O! O! O! Christian! that is enough to make the purest, most pious soul flare up in wild, delirious ungodliness!”

And the object of this passion, who might have saved a poet’s soul and changed him from a negative ferment into a positive agent of culture? She was the daughter of a millionaire, who, of course, in German fashion, had to marry into another rich family. To marry a poor poet would have been deemed a terrible mésalliance. Yet was he not a millionaire too—of ideas, as she was in beauty, her father in money? But that is reasoning à la Millennium.

210What a comedy it will be to future generations, entirely emancipated from mediæval puerilities, to read that two such Kings in the realm of Genius as Schubert and Beethoven, could not marry their true loves on account of differences in social position—rank and money!

We are accustomed to look down on China and Chinese culture. But China anticipated Europe by several centuries in the discovery of gunpowder; and there is another thing in which that country is centuries ahead of Europe. “In China there is no aristocracy of birth or money. The aristocracy which here ranks socially above the other classes is solely and only that of the Intellect.”


Love is a tissue of paradoxes. The very ardour of their passion inclines men of genius to fickleness. “Love me little love me long” is a short way of saying that whereas a blazing, roaring fire consumes itself in an hour, the quiet, glowing coals covered with ashes will outlast the night.

Lamartine’s “heureuse la beauté que le poète adore”—happy the beauty whom the poet adores—may be endorsed by a maiden who is willing to become the secondary wife of a poetic polygamist already wedded to a muse, for the sake of having it said in his biography that she inspired him with some of his prettiest conceits—

“Cynthia, facundi carmen juvenile Properti,
Accepit famam nec minus ilia dedit,”

as Martial says of a Roman beauty. Others will hesitate on reading the following, from London Society:—

“Lord Byron has said that nothing can inflict greater torture upon a woman than the mere fact of loving a poet; and though Lamartine calls it a glory to be the object of immortal songs, we half-suspect that the English bard is right, and that it would be impossible to describe the moral sufferings of those frail beings who seem to be the mere toys of an hour. The world may be indebted to them for some great poem which their love has had the power to inspire, but they themselves were probably no more thought of by the poet than the daisy he might tread on as he passed by.”

Here is a case in point: “Swift,” says Byron, “when neither young nor handsome, nor rich nor even amiable, inspired two of the most extraordinary passions on record—Vanessa’s and Stella’s.... He requited them bitterly, for he seems to have broken the 211heart of the one and worn out that of the other; and he had his reward, for he died a solitary idiot in the hands of servants.”

It would be unjust, however, in all cases to trace poetic fickleness to heartless or deliberate cruelty. May not the poet and the artist be regarded as martyrs to art and science—students of beauty, obliged to take a purely æsthetic, disinterested interest in feminine charms—as they do in a picture or a landscape—without any desire of exclusive possession? They flirt, apparently, not to break hearts, but merely to educate their sense of beauty. For is not a woman’s face the compendium of all beauty in the world? and a woman’s eyes, expressing incipient Love, are they not so exquisitely beautiful that an epicure of Love could for ever be contented with that expression alone, feeling that marriage, which might alter it, if ever so little, would be a bétise? Perhaps some similar thought was in Heine’s mind when he wrote his famous

"Du bist wie eine Blume
So hold und schön und rein;
Ich schau’ dich an, und Wehmuth
Schleicht mir ins Herz hinein.
“Mir ist, als ob ich die Hände
Aufs Haupt dir legen sollt‘,
Betend, dass Gott dich erhalte
So rein und schön und hold.”

In quite a different kind of a poem Heine bluntly announces to his “Queen Mary IV.” his declaration of independence, and informs her that not a few who ruled before her have been unceremoniously deposed—

“Manche die vor dir regierte
Wurde schmählich abgesetzt.”

And in his narrative of the sheriff’s daughter he says, “I shall not describe my love for Josepha in detail. This, however, I will confess, that it was after all only a prelude to the great tragedies of my riper years. Thus does Romeo become infatuated with Rosaline before he finds his Juliet.”

Byron’s confession, in speaking of an early love, that he had been “attached fifty times since” has been referred to already; and although Byron loved to exaggerate his foibles, his record in this case does not belie his words. Of Burns, Principal Shairp writes that “There was not a comely girl in Tarbolton on whom he did not compose a song, and then he made one which included them all.” Burns himself confesses, “In my conscience, I believe that my heart has been so often on fire that it has been vitrified.” 212And Washington Irving remarks on Goldsmith’s first love as “a passion of that transient kind which grows up in idleness and exhales itself in poetry.”

Of this kind were two passions of Lamb, concerning which a biographer says, “A youthful passion, which lasted only a few months, and which he afterwards attempted to regard lightly as a folly past, inspired a few sonnets of very delicate feeling and exquisite music.” And of his second flame, “His stay at Pentonville is remarkable for the fugitive passion conceived by Lamb for a young Quakeress named Hester Savory, which he has enshrined and immortalised in the little poem of Hester.”

Goethe has the reputation of having been of all famous lovers the most fickle. Like Byron, Goethe appears to have endeavoured to make himself appear more frivolous than he was. His amorous Roman Elegies, which have given so much offence, were in reality written in Thuringia, after his return from Italy; and their heroine was no one but the girl who subsequently became his wife.

It remained for a Scotchman to write the best apology for Goethe’s love-affairs. “To Goethe,” says Professor Blackie, “the sight of any beautiful object was like delicate music to the ear of a cunning musician; he was carried away by it, and floated in its element joyously, as a swallow in the summer air, or a sea-mew on the buoyant wave. Hence the rich story of Goethe’s loves, with which scandal, of course, and prudery have made their market, but which, when looked into carefully, were just as much part of his genius as Faust or Iphigenia—a part, indeed, without which neither Faust nor Iphigenia could have been written.... Let no one, therefore, take offence when I say that Goethe was always falling in love, and that I consider this a great virtue in his character.”

One more case: “Beethoven constantly had his love-affairs,” says Wegeler. His first love was a Cologne beauty, who coquetted with him and another man till both discovered she was engaged to a third! Several times Beethoven made up his mind to marry; he made two definite proposals, both of which were refused. One fatal objection was his habit of falling in love with women above him in “rank.” “It is a frightful thing,” he once wrote, “to make the acquaintance of such a sweet creature and to lose her immediately; and nothing is more insupportable than thus to have to confess one’s own foolishness.” One of his flames, an opera singer, gave as a reason why she refused him that he was “so ugly and half-cracked!”



Perhaps the most unique trait in the love of men of genius is the apparent occasional absence of the element of Monopoly. It was Ovid who first discussed the question whether a man could love two women at once. His friend Græcinus denied the possibility of such a thing; but in one of his Elegies Ovid refutes him by citing his own case of a double simultaneous infatuation. He hesitates which of the two to choose, chides Venus for torturing him with double love—for adding leaves to the trees, stars to the heavens, water to the ocean.

Of modern authors not a few appear to have followed in Ovid’s footsteps. We have seen how madly Heine was in love for a long time with his cousin Amalie. Yet, as one of his biographers, Robert Proelsz, remarks, this ardent though hopeless infatuation saved him neither at Hamburg nor at Bonn, nor at Hanover or Berlin, from a number of love-affairs, some of which are vaguely commemorated in his writings. Another German poet, Wieland, after various romantic adventures, fell in love with Julia Bondeli, a pupil of Rousseau’s, and asked for her heart and hand; but she mistrusted him, and asked the pertinent question, “Tell me, will you never be able to love another besides me?” “Never!” he replied, “that is impossible.... Yet it might be possible for a moment, if I should chance to see a more beautiful woman than you who is at the same time very unhappy and very virtuous.” “Poor Wieland,” Scherr continues, “who subsequently understood the anatomy of the female heart so well, appears not to have known then that no woman pardons in her lover the thought that he might find another more beautiful than her. Julia knew what she had to do, and with deeply-wounded heart allowed the poet to depart.”

Of Burns his brother Gilbert says, “When he selected any one out of the sovereignty of his good pleasure, to whom he should pay his particular attention, she was instantly invested with a sufficient stock of charms out of the plentiful stores of his own imagination; and there was often a great disparity between his fair captivator and her attributes. One generally reigned paramount in his affections; but as Yorick’s affections flowed out toward Madame de L—— at the remise door, while the eternal vows of Eliza were upon him, so Robert was frequently encountering other attractions, which formed so many under-plots in the drama of his love.”

In Goethe’s life these “under-plots” played a like prominent 214part. “He always needed a number of feminine hearts of more or less personal interest, in which to mirror himself,” we read; and he himself told his Charlotte (in 1777) that her love was “the thread by which all his other little passions, pastimes, and flirtations hung.”

So that, after all, it seems possible to love two at a time; but it takes genius to do it!

Yet even with men of genius it is only possible in ordinary love-affairs. A supreme love-affair allows but one goddess under any circumstances.

Schumann was one of the most multitudinous lovers on record. Apparently his first love was Nanni, his “guardian angel,” who saved him from the perils of the world, and hovered before his vision like a saint. “I feel that I could kneel before her and adore her like a Madonna,” he says in a letter. But Nanni had a dangerous rival in Liddy. Not long, however, for he found Liddy silly, cold as marble, and—fatal defect! she could not sympathise with him regarding Jean Paul. “The exalted image of my ideal disappears when I think of the remarks she made about Jean Paul. Let the dead rest in peace.” Curiously enough, there are references to both these girls at various dates, showing that, like Ovid, he vacillated between the two. He had a number of other flames, and after his engagement to Clara Wieck gave her warning that he had the “very mischievous habit” of being a great admirer of lovely women. “They make me positively smirk, and I swim in panegyrics on your sex. Consequently, if at some future time we walk along the streets of Vienna and meet a beauty, and I exclaim, ‘Oh Clara! see this heavenly vision!’ or something of the sort, you must not be alarmed nor scold me.”

But the most enterprising lover ever known to the world was Alfieri; for his first Love seems to have embraced a whole female seminary! In his Mémoires, at any rate, he uses the plural in speaking of the object of his first passion. He was indeed only nine years old, which may excuse this amorous anomaly. He had seen in church a number of young novices, and thus describes his feelings (the italics are mine): “My innocent attraction towards these novices became so strong that I thought of them and their doings incessantly. At one moment my imagination painted them holding their candles in their hands, serving mass with an air of angelic submission, and again raising the smoke of incense at the foot of the altar; and, entirely absorbed in these images, I neglected my studies; every occupation and all companionship bored me.”



If Shakspere could identify woman with frailty, one might with equal propriety exclaim, Vanity, thy name is man! Clever men have a habit of paying pretty girls neat compliments, less to please the girls than to show off their wit. And clever women, though they may not accept these remarks literally, still have cause to be gratified with them, in proportion to the excellence of the wit; for ugliness or inferior beauty never inspires a happy thought in a clever man.

Poets represent the climax of masculine vanity. Though their first Love-poems may be the embodiment of real passion, in subsequent efforts the purely literary origin is too often apparent. Since poetic composition is in itself a mingled agony and delight, very like Love itself, nothing so facilitates its progress as exciting Love-memories. Hence poets are for ever urged on to compose Love ditties in which they endeavour to out-Romeo Romeo, to out-hyperbolise one another, as women try to out-dress one another. This is one aspect of their vanity; the other lies in their desire for sympathetic admiration. So, whenever a poet meets a damsel who comes within half a mile of his ideal, he forthwith unfolds before her eyes his gaudy dithyrambs and sonnets, and indulges in various Love-antics, very much like an infatuated peacock.

Even the great Dante is not free from the reproach of having used his true love for mere literary purposes. Beatrice became to him gradually an abstraction, an allegory, a name for woman in general. But it is in his countryman Petrarch that the tendency to use a sweetheart for purely ornamental purposes, as if she were a feather to be stuck in one’s hat, is most vividly illustrated. Petrarch is a conspicuous illustration of the fact that a poetic reputation once established will live on for ever, for the simple reason that very few people ever take the trouble to read and judge for themselves; so that an undeserved reputation, like a disease, is inherited by generation after generation.

No one, of course, can question Petrarch’s learning and his influence on the progress of modern culture. I speak of him only as a love-poet; and as such he occupies a wofully low rank. I have read and reread his sonnets, and have found them one of the dreariest deserts the quest for information has ever driven me into. To say with Mr. Symonds, in the Encyclopædia Britannica, that “he was far from approaching the analysis of emotion with the directness of a Heine or De Musset,” is putting it very mildly indeed. Professor Scherr points out his lack of poetic imagination 216in these words: “Though he took so much trouble to hand down the beauty of his Laura to posterity, yet (he) never gets beyond a tedious enumeration of her charms. Petrarch never gives us a clear portrait of his lady.” “The poems of her lover,” says Mr. Symonds, “demonstrate that she was a married woman, with whom he enjoyed a respectful and not very intimate friendship.” Moore refers to Petrarch as one “who would not suffer his only daughter to reside beneath his roof, [but] expended thirty-two years of poetry and passion on an idealised love.” Schopenhauer naïvely accepted the reality of Petrarch’s passion, which the poor fellow had to drag through life “like a prisoner’s chain,” because the case suited his argument; but Mr. Macaulay more justly remarks that “to readers of our time, the love of Petrarch seems to have been of that kind which breaks no hearts.” Finally Professor Scherr’s opinion may be cited, which agrees with the view here taken.

In 1327 Petrarch “made the acquaintance of Laura, the wife of Hugo de Sade, who has become famous through him, and whom during twenty-one years he continued to love, or at least to celebrate in song; for one feels somewhat uncertain regarding this love, and is very much tempted to regard it more as a matter of the head than of the heart and the senses—more as a welcome theme for his troubadour art and Provençal amorous subtlety than as a genuine, true passion. Petrarch’s qualities in general, both as a man and as a poet, are tainted by an appearance of hollowness, a want of substance and character. He lacked genuine originality, the power of spontaneous creation.”

Petrarch, it is true, was an extreme case of the poet’s inclination to give Love a fictitious permanence and depth; and he lived, moreover, at a time when the novelty of the spiritual aspect of Love naturally inclined the mind to exaggeration in that direction. In the case of modern poets, much less allowance has to be commonly made for motives of purely poetic or literary origin.

Such being the leading characteristics of Love in men of genius, and such men being emotionally a few centuries ahead of others, the questions arise, “Is it likely that the Love of ordinary mortals will gradually assume those traits? and is it desirable that it should?”

There seems no immediate danger that the world will be peopled largely by geniuses, though there is a rapid and steady advance in culture, which in a thousand years may greatly lessen the difference between men of genius and average men of the future as compared with those of to-day. When that millennium arrives the man of genius may have advanced another step, but not so great, perhaps, as that which now raises him above the common 217herd. He will not then be so great an anomaly, and will find society less willing than in the past to make allowance for his irregularities, such as his fickleness and multiplicity of Love-affairs.

Yet, after all, these great men are only partly to blame for their fickleness. Beethoven once boasted of having loved one woman for seven months as something unusual. But had Beethoven been so fortunate as to meet and marry a woman having those qualities which Sir Walter Scott says the wife of a genius should have—either “taste enough to relish her husband’s performances, or good nature enough to pardon his infirmities,”—he might have been blessed with a love not of seven months, but of seven times seven years. Of Shelley, Mr. Symonds tells us that, “In his own words, he had loved Antigone before he visited this earth: and no one woman could probably have made him happy, because he was for ever demanding more from love than it can give in the mixed circumstances of mortal life.”

Mr. Galton, who has made such a careful study of the phenomena of genius and marriage (Hereditary Genius), remarks on the “great fact ... that able men take pleasure in the society of intelligent women, and, if they can find such as would in other respects be suitable, they will marry them in preference to mediocrities.” Unfortunately, as before dwelt on, great beauty and great intellect, or amiability, do not always coincide, owing to the fact that pretty girls do not feel the necessity of cultivating their minds. But in men of genius their own store of intellect is so great, and their admiration for Beauty so intense, that they are constantly liable to marry silly girls; or before marriage to flirt with one beauty after another without finding satisfaction. In a few generations, however, there will doubtless be many more women than now or in the past who will be intelligent, amiable, and beautiful at the same time; and such women will be able to fetter even the erratic love of geniuses with adamantine chains, impervious to rust and alteration, and thus cure them of their Fickleness and their constant effort to love more than one at a time.

Poetic Fictitiousness, of course, is a trait which does no one any harm, and often enriches literature with charming fancies. And as for the two remaining characters of genius-Love—Ardour and Precocity—it is evident that there cannot be too much of them in the world. The dawn of Love is always the dawn of so much refinement of the soul, the awakening of so much ambition, that it cannot be too precocious; and the more ardent it is the more thoroughgoing will be its results. Nor need a big fire go out sooner than a small one, provided there is a constant supply of 218fresh fuel—a point which Balzac has discussed with much eloquence in his Physiologie du Mariage.

Coleridge says “It is the business of virtue to give a feeling and a passion to our purer intellect, and to intellectualise our feelings and passions.” Now this is precisely what is done by Romantic Love, which first originated in the minds of men of genius.

“The might of one fair face sublimes my love,
For it hath weaned my heart from low desires.”

“Sublimes my love.” These three words of Michael Angelo contain the whole philosophy of our subject. And what is it that sublimes Love chiefly? “The might of one fair face”—the magic effect of Personal Beauty. Perhaps, after all, the greatest difference between the Love of a genius and an ordinary mortal is that in the former the æsthetic element—the Admiration of Beauty—is so much stronger, making up two-thirds of the whole passion. And as a taste for the beautiful in art and nature becomes more common, the Love of common mortals, in approaching that of genius, will more and more partake of this æsthetic refinement—this worship of Personal Beauty for the sake of the higher gratifications it yields to the imagination.



The poets, who have in all ages insisted on the analogies between genius and insanity, have also long since discovered a general resemblance between Love and Insanity. Indeed, the notion that Love is a sort of madness is as old as Plato. Love, as understood by him—that is, man’s “worship of youthful masculine beauty”—is, he says, mad, irrational, superseding reason and prudence in the individual mind. And the Stoics, who regarded all affections as maladies, looked upon the severest of the passions as a grave mental disease.

Modern poetry is full of allusions to the fatuous folly of Love. Thus Thomson—

“A lover is the very fool of nature.”


“The lunatic, the lover, and the poet
Are of imagination all compact.”
“Thou blind fool, Love, what dost thou to mine eyes,
That they behold and see not what they see?”

And the mischievous Rosalind informs us that “Love is merely a 219madness, and, I tell you, deserves as well a dark house and a whip as madmen do; and the reason why they are not so punished and cured is, that the lunacy is so ordinary that the whippers are in love too.”

All this is mere poetic banter; but there is a substratum of truth which the poets must have dimly felt. Modern alienists do not treat their patients to dark rooms and whips, as their predecessors did. They regard the maladies of their patients as brain diseases, which have been studied and classified, and are treated on general hygienic and therapeutic principles. A comparison of the classifications adopted in psychiatry with the symptoms of Love shows that Insanity and Love resemble each other especially in three common traits,—the presence of Illusions, a sort of Delirium of Persecution, and the Desire for Solitude.

There are two ways in which madmen people the outside world with phantoms of their own imaginations—by means of illusions and of hallucinations.

Hallucinations are pure figments of the imagination, without any object corresponding to them or suggesting them in the outer world. A patient suffering from them will stare into vacancy and see a friend, or perhaps the devil with horns, tail, and hoofs; and he sees him as vividly as if he were really there to be touched; the reason being that in that part of the brain where impressions of sight are localised a diseased action is set up which suggests a picture that is forthwith projected into outward space—as usual with all sense-impressions. In a word, the patient paints the devil in his mind’s eye, and there he is.

Illusions, on the other hand, have real external objects for their cause; but the diseased imagination so falsifies the objects that there is little or no resemblance between the mental vision and the outside reality. A patient suffering from illusions sees a candle and thinks it is the sun, hears a footstep and thinks it thunder.

Is not this precisely what Shakspere chides Cupid for—that he makes our eyes “behold and see not what they see?” or makes them “see Helen’s beauty in a brow of Egypt?” Concerning Burns we have just read that “there was often a great disparity between his fair captivator and her attributes”—that is, the attributes with which she was invested by her lover.

The lover, like the lunatic, has had moments when, “beholding his maiden, he half-knows she is not that which he worships”; but such intervals are rare. Take a madman who believes his body is made of glass, and throw him downstairs: none the less will he believe in his vitreous constitution. Show a lover the 220most beautiful woman in the world, still will he believe his own Dulcinea a hundred times more charming.

There is, in the second place, a very common form of insanity, called the Delirium of Persecution. The sufferer imagines that everybody he passes notices him, suspects him of something, or even intends him some harm. Dr. Hammond speaks of a patient of this class “who was sure that all the clergymen had entered into a conspiracy to ‘pray him into hell’! He went to the churches to hear what they had to say, and discovered adroit allusions to himself, and hidden invocations to God for his eternal damnation, in the most harmless and platitudinous expressions. He wrote letters to various pastors of churches, denouncing them for their uncharitable conduct toward him, and threatening them with bodily damage if they persisted in their efforts to secure the destruction of his soul.”

“Quand nous aimons,” says Pascal, “nous nous imaginons que tout le monde s’en aperçoit”—when we are in love we imagine that everybody perceives it. The lover feels so awkward and embarrassed that he thinks every one about him must discover his secret; and this constant apprehension doubles his awkwardness, and in most cases does lead to his detection. And the jealous lover to whom “trifles light as air” are confirmations of infidelity, who sees dangerous rivalry in the most superficial attentions, and inconstancy in the most harmless smile she bestows on another—how does he differ from the man who thought the clergy were trying to pray him into hell, except that in the one case the disordered imagination is more easily restored to its normal functions than in the other?

Thirdly, the lunatic and the lover, in their melancholy stages, have a common fondness for Solitude. For days and weeks a patient will sit motionless, indifferent to everybody and everything in the world except the one idea that has fixed on his brain like a leech, and is sucking its life-blood. Nothing, says an observer, is so noticeable on visiting an asylum where the patients are allowed some liberty, as the way in which each one seeks a solitary place regardless of his fellows.

Are not, in the same way—

“Fountain-heads and pathless groves
Places which pale passion loves?”—Fletcher.

But what madman in his wildest flights ever conceived anything quite so sublimely solitary as the flight which Burns projected for himself and Clarinda (in lovers’ arithmetic twice one are one) in 221the following epistle: "Imagine ... that we were set free from the laws of gravitation which bind us to this globe, and could at pleasure fly, without inconvenience, through all the yet unconjectured bounds of creation, what a life of bliss would we lead, in our mutual pursuit of virtue and knowledge, and our mutual enjoyment of love and friendship!

“I see you laughing at my fairy fancies, and calling me a voluptuous Mahometan; but I am certain I would be a happy creature beyond anything we call bliss here below; nay, it would be a paradise congenial to you too. Don’t you see us, hand in hand, or rather, my arm about your lovely waist, making our remarks on Sirius, the nearest of the fixed stars; or, surveying a comet flaming innoxious by us, as we just now would mark the passing pomp of a travelling monarch; or, in a shady bower of Mercury or Venus, dedicating the hour to love, in mutual converse, relying honour, and revelling endearment, while the most exalted strains of poesy and harmony would be the ready, spontaneous language of our souls.”

Thus we have in the madman’s Illusions an analogy with Love’s Hyperbolising tendency; in the Delirium of Persecution a suggestion of Jealousy; in the Desire for Solitude a reminder of Love’s Exclusiveness, and desire to be cast on a desert island.

Gallantry, again, has in the past frequently assumed an extravagant form bordering on madness. Thus, with reference to a Greek girl to whom Byron made love in Athens, Moore says, “It was, if I recollect right, in making love to one of these girls that he had recourse to an act of courtship often practised in that country—namely, giving himself a wound across the breast with his dagger. The young Athenian, by his own account, looked on very coolly during the operation, considering it a fit tribute to her beauty, but in no wise moved to gratitude.”

In Spain, toward the beginning of the last century, Gallantry appears to have assumed a form of mad extravagance. As Mme. d’Aunoy relates in her Mémoires sur l’Espagne, no man who accompanied a lady was so rude as to give her his hand or to take her arm under his. He only wrapped his cloak around his arm, and then allowed her to rest her arm on the elbow. Nor was even a lover permitted to kiss his love or caress her otherwise than by tenderly grasping her arm with his hands.

Of mediæval lovers’ madness cases have been cited elsewhere, showing to what crazy excess the Knight-errants and Troubadours sometimes carried their gallant devotion. One more amusing illustration may here be added: the oft-cited cases of Peire Vidal, 222a Troubadour of the twelfth century, who, to please his beloved, whose name was Loba (wolf), had himself sewed up in a wolf’s hide and went about the mountains howling until his manœuvres were brought to a sad end by some shepherd dogs, who, having no sense of humour, gave him such a shaking that he was only too glad to resume his normal attitude.

There is, in fact, hardly a feature of Love which, in its exalted manifestations, does not occasionally suggest a madhouse. The extravagant Pride shown by a commonplace man in his more commonplace bride, is quite as ludicrous as a lunatic’s delusion that he is a millionaire or emperor of the five continents. The sham capture of a bride still practised among many nations when all parties are willing, illustrates a form of Coyness which would appear as pure lunacy to one unfamiliar with the origin of that custom.


Besides these general analogies there is a form of mental disease which is genuine love-sickness, the outcome of brain disease, and which often seems, for all the world, like a deliberate caricature of Coquetry.

“It often happens,” says Dr. Hammond, “that the subjects of emotional monomania of the variety under consideration do not restrict their love to any one person. They adore the whole male sex, and will make advances to any man with whom they are brought into even the slightest association. If confined in an asylum they simper and clasp their hands, and roll their eyes to the attendants, especially the physicians, and even the male patients are not below their affections. There is very little constancy in their love. They change from one man to another with the utmost facility and upon the slightest pretext. ‘I am very much in love with Dr. ——,’ said a woman to me in an asylum that I was visiting, ‘but he was late yesterday in coming to the ward, and now I love you. You will come often to see me, won’t you?’ While she was speaking the superintendent entered the ward. ‘Oh, here comes my first and only love!’ she exclaimed. ’Why have you stayed away so long from your Eliza?‘”

Professor von Krafft-Ebing, in his admirable Lehrbuch der Psychiatrie, thus characterises Erotomania in general: "The kernel of the whole matter is the delusion of being singled out and loved by a person of the other sex, who regularly belongs to a higher social sphere. And it deserves to be noted that the love 223felt by the patient towards this person is a romantic, ecstatic, but entirely ‘Platonic’ affection. In this respect these patients remind one of the knight-errants and minstrels of bygone times, whom Cervantes has so incisively lashed in his Don Quixote....

"From the looks and gestures of the beloved individual they draw the inference that they in return are not regarded with indifference. With astonishing rapidity they lose their self-possession. The most harmless incidents are regarded by them as signs of love, and an encouragement to draw near. Even newspaper advertisements relating to others are supposed to come from the person in question. Finally, hallucinations make their appearance, by the aid of which the patients begin to be conversant with the object of their love. Illusions also supervene; in the conversations of others the patient fancies he hears references to his love-affairs. He feels happy, exalted in his estimate of himself....

“At last the patient compromises himself by acting in consonance with his delusion, thus making himself ridiculous and impossible in society, and necessitating his confinement in an asylum.”


The insane freaks of erotomaniacs, and the analogous, ludicrous exaggerations in the expression and conduct of lovers, may be regarded as the pathologic and the comic sides of Love’s Language.

Normally, Romantic Love has no fewer than three languages:—Words, Facial Expression, and Caresses, including Kisses. It will at once be seen that this classification involves a crescendo <, from the weakest form of expression to its climax in kissing. Kissing, indeed, though it comes under the head of Caresses, is of so much significance that it may be regarded, if not as a separate language of Love, at least as a special dialect—perhaps the long-sought world-language intelligible to all?


Though the greatest poets have striven to become virtuosi in the art of expressing Love in written language, yet words are the weakest and least trustworthy mode of expressing the amorous emotions. Least trustworthy, because the male flatterer, as well as the female coquette, constantly use language to conceal their thoughts and real emotions. Weakest, because words are less eloquent even than silence. For—

224“They that are rich in words must needs discover
They are but poor in that which makes a lover;”


“Silence in Love bewrays more woe
Than words though ne’er so witty.”—Raleigh.

Cordelia’s love was deeper than that of her sisters—too deep to be expressed in formal words. And King Lear scorned her and favoured her sisters; even as shallow maidens constantly look down on silent, awkward adorers of deep affections, and throw themselves away on shallow, fickle, loquacious Lotharios, because they do not understand the real Language of Love, which, according to a stupid old myth, every woman is supposed to know by intuition or instinct.


although more trustworthy than written or spoken words, may sometimes prove deceptive too; for the cunning coquette who daily feigns Love to attract poor moths by her brilliant fascinations, becomes in time so perfect an actress that the coldest of cynics may be deceived by her wiles.

In his great work on the Expression of the Emotions, Darwin remarks that although, “when lovers meet, we know that their hearts beat quickly, their breathing is hurried, and their faces flush;” yet “love can hardly be said to have any proper or peculiar means of expression; and this is intelligible, as it has not habitually led to any special line of action. No doubt, as affection is a pleasurable sensation, it generally causes a gentle smile and some brightening of the eyes.”

Inasmuch as a flushed face and transient blushes, a gentle smile and brightening of the eyes, are characteristic of other emotions besides Love, Darwin is right; yet he ignores two peculiarities of expression by which a person in Love may be instantaneously recognised.

“A lover,” says Chamfort, “is a man who endeavours to be more amiable than it is possible for him to be; and this is the reason that almost all lovers appear ridiculous.” Who has not seen this unmistakable, ludicrous expression of masculine Love—head slightly inclined to the left; face as near her face as possible, echoing every expression of hers; a saccharine, beseeching smile on the kiss-hungry lips, producing on the spectator an uneasy sense of unstable equilibrium—as if in one more moment the force of amorous gravitation would draw down his face to hers?

Add to this his embarrassed gestures, the over-sweet falsetto of 225his voice—an octave higher than when he speaks to others,—and the peculiar lover’s pallor, and the picture is complete—

“Why so pale and wan, fond lover?
Prithee, why so pale?
Will, when looking well can’t move her,
Looking ill prevail?”—Suckling.

To women Cupid is kinder. Instead of making them appear ludicrous, Love has the power of transforming even a homely feminine face into a vision of loveliness by throwing a halo of tender expression around it. This wondrous transformation effected by Love is one of its greatest miracles; and to one who has seen the girl previously it immediately betrays her infatuation. It is a kind of emotional calligraphy in which the merest tyro can read, “I love him.”

And this temporary transformation of homely into beautiful faces, this fusing and moulding of the features into forms of voluptuous expression, is of extreme psychologic interest; for it shows that, after all, the exalted, extravagant image of Her perfections in the lover’s mind is not purely imaginary. It is not so much owing to a difference of “taste” that he loves her more than others do, as because she actually does look more beautiful when her eyes are fastened on him than when looking at any other man.


“Tenderness,” says Professor Bain, “is a pleasurable emotion, variously stimulated, whose effort is to draw human beings into mutual embrace.” Darwin finds the peculiarity of love in the same desire for contact; and, as usual, he seeks for the origin of this desire, and endeavours to trace it to analogous peculiarities of the animals most closely related to us.

“With the lower animals,” he says, “we see the same principle of pleasure derived from contact in association with love. Dogs and cats manifestly take pleasure in rubbing against their masters and mistresses, and in being rubbed or patted by them. Many kinds of monkeys, as I am assured by the keepers in the Zoological Gardens, delight in fondling and being fondled by each other, and by persons to whom they are attached. Mr. Bartlett has described to me the behaviour of two Chimpanzees, rather older animals than those generally imported into this country, when they were first brought together. They sat opposite, touching each other with their much-protruded lips, and the one put his hand on the shoulder of 226the other. Then they mutually folded each other in their arms. Afterwards they stood up, each with one arm on the shoulder of the other, lifted up their heads, opened their mouths and yelled with delight.”

Concerning human beings Darwin remarks: “A strong desire to touch the beloved person is commonly felt; and love is expressed by this means more plainly than by any other. Hence we long to clasp in our arms those we tenderly love. We probably owe this desire to inherited habit, in association with the nursing and tending of our children, and with the mutual caresses of lovers.”

When love first dawns on the mind, the faintest superficial contact flashes along the nerves as a thrill of delicious emotion. To walk along the beach in a stiff breeze, and have her veil accidentally flutter in his face, is a romantic incident on which a youthful lover’s memory feasts for a month. If allowed to carry her shawl on his arm, he would not feel the cold of a Siberian winter. And later, what a variety of tell-tale caresses are there by which mutual Love may be revealed! It is not the voice alone that can say “I love you”; nor the speaking eyes. Confessions of Love, proposals and acceptance—complete dramas of Love—have been enacted by the language of two pairs of feet that have accidentally touched under the table. A slight pressure of the hand in the ballroom has told thousands of lovers, before a word was spoken, that now they may soon put their arms round that lovely waist without the excuse of a waltz or polka.

One form of hand-caress, dear alike to mothers and lovers, is thus described by Professor Mantegazza: “In a caress we give and receive at the same time. The hand which distributes love, as by a magnetic effusion, receives it in return from the skin of the beloved person. Hence it is that one of the most common and most thrilling of the expressions of love consists in passing the hand through the hair. The hand finds, in this labyrinth of supple, living threads, the means of multiplying infinitely the points of amorous contact. It appears as if each hair were an electric wire, putting us into direct connection with the senses, with the heart, and even with the thoughts, of those we love. It is not without reason that woman’s hair has long been given as a token of love.”

What a clumsy thing is language, what an awkward thing a formal proposal stuttered out by a lover more embarrassed than if he were an amateur actor appearing on the stage for the first time, as Romeo before an international audience of actors and critics! 227How much less natural, less poetic, it is to hear the confession of Love than to feel it—

“When panting sighs the bosom fill,
And hands, by chance united, thrill
At once with one delicious pain.”—Clough.

What poet, and were he a genius in condensation, could compress into a line, a page, a volume, such an ocean of emotion as is contained in a momentary caress of the hand? Not even the moment when the lovers are “imparadised in one another’s arms” surpasses this in ecstasy.

Yet there is a more delicious rapture still in the drama of Courtship. “Love’s sweetest language is,” as Herrick says, “a kiss.” All other caresses are valueless without a kiss; for is not a kiss the very autograph of Love?

But labial contact is a subject of such supreme importance in the philosophy and history of Love that it cannot be disposed of briefly as one form of caressing, but demands a chapter by itself.


“The lips,” says Sir Charles Bell, “are of all the features the most susceptible of action, and the most direct index of the feelings.” No wonder that Cupid selected them as his private seal, without which no passion can be stamped as genuine.

For the expression of all other emotions, by words or signs, one pair of lips suffices. Love alone requires for its expression two pairs of lips. Could anything more eloquently demonstrate the superiority of the romantic passion over all others?

Steele said of kissing that “Nature was its author, and it began with the first courtship.” Steele evidently evolved this theory out of his “inner consciousness,” for the facts do not agree with it. The art of Kissing has, like Love itself, been gradually developed in connection with the higher stages of culture. Traces of it are found among animals and savages; the ancients often misunderstood its purport and object, as did our mediæval ancestors; and it is only in recent times that Kissing has tended to become what it should be—the special and exclusive language of romantic and conjugal love.


Honour to whom honour is due. The Chimpanzee seems to have been the first who discovered the charm of mutual labial 228contact. In the description by Mr. Bartlett just referred to, the two Chimpanzees “sat opposite, touching each other with their much-protruded lips.” And in some notes on the Chimpanzee in Central Park, New York, by Dr. C. Pitfield Mitchell, published in the Journal of Comparative Medicine and Surgery, January 1885, we find the following: “That tender emotions are experienced may be inferred from the fact that he pressed the kitten to his breast and kissed it, holding it very gently in both hands. In kissing, the lips are pouted and the tongue protruded, and both are pressed upon the object of affection. The act is not accompanied by any sound, thus differing from ordinary human osculation.”

Dogs, especially when young, may be seen occasionally exchanging a sort of tongue-kiss; and who has not seen dogs innumerable times make a sudden sly dash at the lips of master or mistress and try to steal a kiss? The affectionate manner in which a cow and calf eagerly lick one another in succession may be regarded as quite as genuine a kiss as a human kiss on hand, forehead, or cheek; and it is probable that even in the billing of doves the motive is a vague pleasure of contact.


we meet once more with the anomalous fact that they seem ignorant, on the whole, of a clever invention known even to some animals. Sir John Lubbock, after referring to Steele’s opinion that kissing is coeval with courtship, remarks: “It was, on the contrary, entirely unknown to the Tahitians, the New Zealanders, the Papuas, and the aborigines of Australia, nor was it in use among the Somals or the Esquimaux.” Jemmy Button, the Fuegian, told Darwin that kissing was unknown in his land; and another writer gives an amusing account of an attempt he made to kiss a young negro girl. She was greatly terrified, probably imagining him a new species of cannibal who had made up his mind to eat her on the spot, raw, and without salt and pepper.

Monteiro, in a passage previously quoted, says that in all the long years he has been in Africa he has “never seen a negro put his arm round a woman’s waist, or give or receive any caress whatever that would indicate the slightest loving regard or affection on either side.”

Considering the general obtuseness of a savage’s nerves, it is no wonder that the subtle thrill of a kiss should be unknown to him. In many cases, moreover, Kissing is rendered physically impossible 229by the habit indulged in of mutilating and enlarging the lips. For instance, Schweinfurth, in his Heart of Africa, says that among the Bongo women “the lower lip is extended horizontally till it projects far beyond the upper, which is also bored and fitted with a copper plate or nail, and now and then by a little ring, and sometimes by a bit of straw, about as thick as a lucifer match.” Many other similar cases could be cited.

Evidently, under these circumstances, kissing would prove a snare and a delusion.


is a topic on which doctors disagree, the opinions of Darwin and Mr. Spencer in particular differing as widely as their views regarding the origin of music. Mr. Spencer traces the primitive delight in osculation to the gustatory sense, Darwin to contact.

“Obviously,” says Mr. Spencer, "the billing of doves or pigeons, and the like action of love-birds, indicates an affection which is gratified by the gustatory sensation. No act of this kind on the part of an inferior creature, as of a cow licking a calf, can have any other origin than the direct prompting of a desire which gains by the act satisfaction; and in such a case the satisfaction is that which vivid perception of offspring gives to the maternal yearning. In some animals like acts arise from other forms of affection. Licking the hand, or, where it is accessible, the face, is a common display of attachment on a dog’s part; and when we remember how keen must be the olfactory sense by which a dog traces his master, we cannot doubt that to his gustatory sense, too, there is yielded some impression—an impression associated with those pleasures of affection which his master’s presence gives.

“The inference that kissing, as a mark of fondness in the human race, has a kindred origin, is sufficiently probable. Though kissing is not universal—though the negro races do not understand it, and though, as we have seen, there are cases where sniffing replaces it—yet, being common to unlikely and widely-dispersed peoples, we may conclude that it originated in the same manner as the analogous action among lower creatures.... From kissing as a natural sign of affection, there is derived the kissing which, as a means of simulating affection, gratifies those who are kissed; and, by gratifying them, propitiates them. Hence an obvious root for the kissing of feet, hands, garments, as a part of ceremonial.”

Darwin, on the other hand, holds that kissing “is so far innate or natural that it apparently depends on pleasure from close 230contact with a beloved person; and it is replaced in various parts of the world, by the rubbing of noses, as with the New Zealanders and Laplanders, by the rubbing or patting of the arms, breasts, or stomachs, or by one man striking his own face with the hands or feet of another. Perhaps the practice of blowing, as a mark of affection, on various parts of the body may depend on the same principle.”

Has Mr. Spencer ever kissed a girl? Certainly, to one who has, his theory of the gustatory origin of Kissing would seem like a joke were it not stated with so much scientific pomp and circumstance. The billing of doves and love-birds, in the first place, cannot be regarded as a matter of taste, literally, because in birds the sense of taste is commonly very rudimentary or quite absent, as their habit of swallowing seeds and other food whole and dry would make a sense which can only judge of things in a state of solution quite useless. The sense of touch, on the other hand, is exceedingly delicate in the bill of birds, which is, as it were, their feeler or hand.

That the motive which prompts cows and calves to lick one another is likewise tactile rather than gustatory, I had occasion to observe only a few days ago in a place worthy of so romantic a subject as the experimental study of kissing. Scene: a green mountain-meadow above Mürren, Switzerland. Frame of the picture, a semicircle of snow-giants, including Wetterhorn, Eiger, Mönch, Jungfrau, Breithorn, etc. Cows and calves in the meadow, not in the least disturbed by the avalanches thundering down the side of the Jungfrau every twenty minutes. Cow licks calf, and calf retaliates by licking the cow’s neck. Cow enjoys it immensely, holding her head up as high as possible, with an expression of intense enjoyment, just like a dog when you rub and pat his neck. Ergo, as cow was not licking but being licked, her enjoyment must have been tactile, not gustatory. To the cow her tongue is what the bill is to a bird—her most mobile organ, her feeler, and hand.

Possibly Mr. Spencer was misled into his gustatory theory by a too literal interpretation of a habit poets have always had of calling a kiss sweet. Among the Romans a love-kiss was distinguished from other kisses by being called a suavium or sweet thing; and a modern German poet boldly compares the flavour of kisses to wild strawberries (perhaps she had just been eating some). Yet all this belongs to fancy’s fairyland. Kisses are called sweet for the same reason that we speak of the sweet concords of music, i.e. because the language of æsthetics is so scantily developed that 231we are constantly compelled to borrow terms from one sense and apply them to another, when their only resemblance is that they are both agreeable or otherwise.

There is a very prevalent impression that the senses of savages are more delicate than ours. In one way they are. A savage can often see an object at a greater distance, and hear a fainter sound, than a white man. But in what may be called æsthetic as distinguished from physical refinement, savages are vastly our inferiors. A savage can hardly tell the difference between two adjacent notes in the musical scale, while a musician can distinguish the sixtieth part of a semitone. And why would the wondrous harmonies of a Chopin nocturne seem a mere chaos of sound to a savage? Because his ears have not been trained through his imagination and intellect to discriminate sounds and sound-combinations, or to follow the plot or development of a musical narrative or “theme.”

Just so with the sense of touch. A sweetheart’s veil fluttering in a Hottentot’s face would only annoy him. A squeeze of the hand would leave him cold; and would he refrain from putting his arm round her waist if that gave him any pleasure? Obviously, then, the reason why the art of kissing is unknown to him is because his senses are too callous, his imagination too sluggish.

Kissing, like every other fine art, has its sensuous and its imaginative or intellectual side. Of all parts of the visible body the lips are the most sensitive to contact. Here the layer in which the nerves and blood-vessels are contained is not covered over, as elsewhere on the skin, by a thick leathery epidermis, but only thinly veiled by a transparent epithelium; so that when lips are applied to lips, the blood-vessels which carry the vital fluid straight from the two loving hearts, and the soul-fibres, called nerves, are brought into almost immediate contact: whence that interchange of soul-magnetism—that electric shock which makes the first mutual kiss of Love the sweetest moment of life—

“What words can ever speak affection
So thrilling and sincere as thine?”—Burns.

Yet herein the imagination plays a much more prominent rôle than it appears to do at first sight. The real reason why a savage cannot enjoy a kiss is not so much because his lips are deficient in tactile sensibility, as because he has no imagination to invest labial contact with the romance of individualised passion. If a lover’s pleasure lay in the mere labial contact, he would as soon exchange a kiss with any other girl. But should a sweetheart, on being asked for a kiss, refer him, say, to his sister or her sister; though 232the latter be a hundred times more beautiful, he would chide his love for offering a stone where bread was wanted. His imagination has so long painted to him the superior ecstasy of a kiss from her that, when he finally gets it, the long-deferred gratification ensures the unparalleled rapture anticipated.


As the ancient civilised nations were much more addicted than we are to gesture language, it seems natural that so expressive a sign as kissing should have been used for a variety of purposes—for indicating not only family affection, sexual passion and friendship, but general respect, reverence, humility, condescension, etc. Among idolatrous nations, as M‘Clintock and Strong remark, “it was the custom to throw kisses towards the images of the gods, and towards the sun and moon.” Kissing the hand appears to be a modern custom, but many other parts of the body were thus saluted by the ancients: “Kissing the feet of princes was a token of subjection and obedience, which was sometimes carried so far that the print of the foot received the kiss, so as to give the impression that the very dust had become sacred by the royal tread, or that the subject was not worthy to salute even the prince’s foot, but was content to kiss the earth itself near or on which he trod.” A similar observance is the kissing of the Pope’s toe, or rather, the cross on his slipper—a custom in vogue since the year 710. Among the Arabs the women and children kiss the beards of their husbands or fathers. Among the ancient Hebrews, “kissing the lips by way of affectionate salutation was not only permitted, but customary among near relatives of both sexes, both in patriarchal and in later times.” The kiss on the cheek “has at all times been customary in the East, and can hardly be said to be extinct even in Europe.”

Among the ancient Greeks, Jealousy prompted the husbands to “make their wives eat onions whenever they were going from home.” And in the Roman Republic, “Among the safeguards of female purity,” says Mr. Lecky, “was an enactment forbidding women even to taste wine.... Cato said that the ancient Romans were accustomed to kiss their wives for the purpose of discovering whether they had been drinking wine.”

Breath-sweetening cloves and cachous were evidently unknown in the good old times.

The Romans had special names for three kinds of kisses—basium, a kiss of politeness; osculum, between friends; suavium, 233between lovers. If a man kissed his betrothed, she gained thereby the half of his effects in the event of his dying before the celebration of the marriage; and if the lady herself died, under the same circumstances, her heirs or nearest of kin took the half due to her, a kiss among the ancients being a sign of plighted faith. So seriously, indeed, was a kiss regarded by the ancient Romans, that a husband would not even kiss his wife in presence of his daughters.

It was on account of this strict feeling regarding kisses exchanged by man and woman that the early Christians subjected themselves to fierce attacks and slander, because of the kisses that were exchanged as a symbol of religious union at the Love-Feasts of the first disciples. “But, in 397, the Council of Carthage thought fit to forbid all religious kissing between the sexes, notwithstanding St. Paul’s exhortation, ‘Greet ye one another with a kiss of charity.’”


Among many other refinements of the ancients, the mediæval nations lost the sense of the sacredness of kissing between the sexes. England was apparently the greatest sinner in this respect; for it appears to have been customary on visiting to kiss the host’s wife and daughters. Indeed, up to a comparatively recent time, kissing on every occasion was almost as prevalent and permissible as handshaking is at the present day. In the sixteenth century it was customary in England for ladies to reward their partners in the dance with a kiss; and for a long time the minister who united a couple in the holy bonds of matrimony had the privilege of kissing not only the bride but even the bridesmaids! No wonder the ministry was the most popular profession in those days.

“It is quite certain,” says a writer in the St. James’s Magazine (1871), “that the custom of kissing was brought into England from Friesland, as St. Pierius Wensemius, historiographer to their High Mightinesses, the states of Friesland, in his Chronicle, 1622, tells us that the pleasant practice of kissing was utterly ‘unpractised and unknown in England till the fair Princess Romix (Rowena), the daughter of King Hengist of Friesland, pressed the beaker with her lippens, and saluted the amorous Vortigern with a kusjen’ (little kiss).”

Having recovered this lost art, however, the English lost no time in making up for neglected opportunities. Erasmus writes in one of his epistles: “If you go to any place (in Britain) you 234are received with a kiss by all; if you depart on a journey, you are dismissed with a kiss; you return, kisses are exchanged ... wherever you move, nothing but kisses. And if you, Faustus, had but once tasted them,—how soft they are, how fragrant! on my honour, you would wish not to reside here for ten years only, but for life!!!”

Bunyan, however, frowned on this practice, and inquired most pertinently—and impertinently—why the men only “salute the most handsome and let the ill-favoured alone?”

Pepys, in his Diary for 1660, gives this account of some Portuguese ladies in London: “I find nothing in them that is pleasing; and I see they have learnt to kiss, and look freely up and down already, and I do believe will soon forget the recluse practice of their own country.”

One of the luckiest of mortals was Bulstrode Whitelock, who at the Court of Christine of Sweden was asked to teach her ladies “the English mode of salutation; which, after some pretty defences, their lips obeyed, and Whitelock most readily!”

The following extraordinary kissing story is told in Chambers’s Journal for 1861:—

“When the gallant cardinal, Count of Lorraine, was presented to the Duchess of Savoy, she gave him her hand to kiss, greatly to the indignation of the irate churchman. ‘How, madame,’ exclaimed he, ‘am I to be treated in this manner? I kiss the queen, my mistress, who is the greatest queen in the world, and shall I not kiss you, a dirty little duchess? I would have you know I have kissed as handsome ladies, and of as great or greater family than you.’ Without more ado he made for the lips of the proud Portuguese princess, and, despite her resistance, kissed her thrice on her mouth before he released her with an exultant laugh.”

The fashion of universal kissing appears to have gone out about the time of the Restoration.


The history of kissing, thus briefly sketched, shows that among primitive men this art is unknown because they are incapable of appreciating it. To the ancient civilised nations its charms were revealed; but as usual in the intoxication of a new discovery, they hardly knew what to do with it, and applied it to all sorts of stupid ceremonial purposes. The tendency of civilisation, however, has been to eliminate promiscuous kissing, and restrict it 235more and more to its proper function as an expression of the affections. And even within this sphere the circle becomes gradually smaller. Although in some parts of Europe men still kiss one another as a token of relationship, friendship, or esteem, yet the habit is slowly dying out, the example having been set in England, where it was abandoned toward the close of the seventeenth century. The senseless custom which women to-day indulge in of kissing each other on the slightest provocation, often when they would rather slap one another in the face, is also doomed to extinction. The witticism that women kiss one another because they cannot find anything better to kiss, differing herein from men, was not perpetrated by a woman. The practice of kissing little children has been often enough condemned on medical grounds, which also hold good in the case of adults. That contagious diseases are thus often conveyed from one person to another was already known to the ancient Romans, one of whose emperors issued a special proclamation in consequence against promiscuous kissing.

From a sentimental point of view, the most objectionable of modern kisses are those which are allowed between cousins. As long as a man may become a suitor for the hand of his cousin he should, both for the sake of his own love-drama and in justice to a possible rival, be debarred from this privilege. Imagine the feelings of a lover who knows that his rival has been permitted to steal the virgin kiss from the lips of his adored one simply because his father happens to be her uncle! Family kisses should, therefore, be allowed only within that degree of relationship which precludes the idea of Love and marriage. Cousins will have to be satisfied in future with a warmer grasp of the hand and an extra lump of sugar in a maiden’s smile.


The happiest moment in the life of the happiest man is that when he is allowed for the first time to “steal immortal blessing” from the lips of her who has just promised to be his for ever. No wonder the poets have grown eloquent over this supreme moment of pre-heavenly rapture—


“O love“O love, O fire! once he drew
With one long kiss my whole soul through
My lips, as sunlight drinketh dew.”


“Grow to my lips thou sacred kiss.”


“As if he plucked up kisses by the root
That grew upon my lips.”


“Meine Liebste, mit den frommen treuen
Braunen Rehesaugen, sagt, sie habe
Blaue einst als Kind gehabt. Ich glaub’es.
Neulich da ich, seliges Vergessen
Trinkend hing an ihren Lippen,
Meine Augen unterm langen Kusse
Oeffnend, schaut’ ich in die nahen ihren,
Und sie kamen mir in solcher Nähe
Tiefblau wie ein Himmel vor. Was ist das
Wer gibt dir der Kindheit Augen wieder?
Deine Liebe, sprach sie, deine Liebe,
Die mich hat zum Kind gemacht, die alle
Liebesunschuldsträume meiner Kindheit
Hat gereift zu sel’ger Erfüllung.
Soll der Himmel nicht, der mir im Herzen
Steht durch dich, mir blau durch’s Auge blicken?”

Love-kisses are silent like deep affection—

“Passions are likened best to floods and streams:
The shallow murmur, but the deep are dumb.”—Raleigh.

True, Petruchio kissed Katrina “with such a clamorous smack, that at the parting all the church did echo”; but his object was not to express his Love, but to tease and tame the shrew. Loud kisses, moreover, might betray the lovers to profane ears, and bring on a fatal attack of Coyness on the girl’s part—

“The greatest sin ’twixt heaven and hell
Is first to kiss and then to tell.”

Love-kisses are passionate and long; for Love is Cupid’s lip-cement—

“Oh, a kiss, long as my exile,
Sweet as my revenge.”—Shakspere.
“A long, long kiss, a kiss of youth and love.”
“For a kiss’s strength
I think it must be measured by its length.”—Byron.
“A kiss now that will hang upon my lip
As sweet as morning dew upon a rose,
And full as long.”—Thomas Middleton.

Perhaps the longest kiss on record is that which Siegfried gives Brünnhilde in the drama of Siegfried. But this is not an ordinary kiss, for the hero has to wake with it the Valkyrie from the 237twenty years’ sleep into which old Wotan had plunged her for disobeying his orders. Thanks to Wagner’s art, the thrill of this Love-kiss, magically transmuted into tones, is felt by a thousand spectators simultaneously with the lover.

Love-kisses are innumerable. Thus sings the Italian poet, Cecco Angiolieri, in the thirteenth century—

“Because the stars are fewer in heaven’s span
Than all those kisses wherewith I kept time
All in an instant (I who now have none!)
Upon her mouth (I and no other man!)
So sweetly on the twentieth day of June
On the New Year twelve hundred ninety-one.”
Rossetti’s Transl.

Novelists and poets have exhausted their ingenuity in finding adjectives descriptive of Love-kisses and others. An anonymous essayist has compiled the following list:—

“Kisses are forced, unwilling, cold, comfortless, frigid, and frozen, chaste, timid, rosy, balmy, humid, dewy, trembling, soft, gentle, tender, tempting, fragrant, sacred, hallowed, divine, soothing, joyful, affectionate, delicious, rapturous, deep-drawn, impressive, quick, and nervous, warm, burning, impassioned, inebriating, ardent, flaming, and akin to fire, ravishing, lingering, long. One also hears of parting, tear-dewed, savoury, loathsome, poisonous, treacherous, false, rude, stolen, and great fat, noisy kisses.”


Kissing comes by instinct, and yet it is an art which few understand properly. A lover should not hold his bride by the ears in kissing her, as appears to have been customary at Scotch weddings of the last century. A more graceful way, and quite effective in preventing the bride from “getting away,” is to put your right arm round her neck, your fingers under her chin, raise the chin, and then gently but firmly press your lips on hers. After a few repetitions she will find out it doesn’t hurt, and become as gentle as a lamb.

The word adoration is derived from kissing. It means literally to apply to the mouth. Therefore girls should beware of philologists who may ask them with seemingly harmless intent, “May I adore you?”

In kissing, as in everything else, honesty is the best policy. Stolen kisses are not the sweetest, as Leigh Hunt would have us believe. A kiss to be a kiss must be mutual, voluntary, simultaneous. 238“The kiss snatched hasty from the sidelong maid” is not worth having. A stolen kiss is only half a kiss.

“These poor half-kisses kill me quite;
Was ever man thus served?
Amidst an ocean of delight,
For pleasure to be starved?”—Marlowe.



Inasmuch as language is the least eloquent and effective mode of expressing Love, and inasmuch as Love is commonly inspired in woman by the possession of qualities which she lacks, it is obvious that Shakspere did not show his usual insight into human nature when he wrote—

“That man that hath a tongue is, I say, no man,
If with his tongue he cannot win a woman.”

It seems, indeed, quite probable that Bacon wrote those two lines; if Shakspere had written them he would have said—

“That man that hath a uniform is, I say, no man,
If with his uniform he cannot win a woman.”

The extraordinary infatuation for military uniforms shown by women of all times and countries is one of the most obscure problems in mental and social philosophy. Whenever an officer, though ever so humble in rank, is present at a ball or other social gathering, all other men, be they merchants, politicians, lawyers, physicians, artists, students, ministers, are simply “nowhere.”

What is the cause of this singular infatuation? Is it the colour-harmony formed by the complementary blue cloth and yellow buttons? No, for various officials, as well as messenger boys, wear similar uniforms without making any special impression on the feminine heart. Is it the beauty or the wit of the soldier? No, for he may be as stupid as a log, and red-nosed and smallpox-pitted, without losing a jot of his popularity. Nor can it be his valour, for he has perhaps never yet been opposite the “business end” of a rifle, as they say out West. Nor, again, is it likely that women admire soldiers from an inherited sense of gratitude for the services they rendered in former warlike times in protecting their great-great-grandmothers from the enemy’s barbarity; for woman’s gratitude is not apt to be so very retrospective, while gratitude itself is less apt to inspire Love than aversion.

239Whatever may be the cause of this mysterious phenomenon, the fact remains that officers are woman’s ideals. Hence the first and most important hint to those who would win a woman’s Love is: Put brass buttons on your coat, have it dyed blue, and wear epaulettes and a waxed moustache. This love-charm has never been known to fail.


Women secretly detest bashful men. It is their own duty, prescribed by etiquette, to be passive, shy, and diffident; hence if men were shy and diffident too, no advances would be made, and all progress in Love-making would be retarded.

Women love courage. He who robs lions of their hearts can easily win a woman’s.

“Our doubts are traitors,
And make us lose the good we oft might win
By fearing to attempt,”

says Shakspere; and Chesterfield remarks à propos, that “that silly sanguine notion which is firmly entertained here, that one Englishman can beat three Frenchmen, encourages and has sometimes enabled one Englishman in reality to beat two.”

Ovid knew the value of boldness. And although his object was not to teach how to win permanent Love, but how to get honey without taking care of the bees, yet his psychology is correct, and agrees with Goethe’s aphorism that “if thou approachest women with tenderness thou winnest them with a word; but he who is bold and saucy comes off better.”

Perhaps this is one reason why officers are so successful in Love, for several of them have been known to be bold and saucy.

Another reason may be that their pursuit is more distinctively and exclusively masculine than any other profession.

What, for instance, could be more delightfully masculine, i.e. mediæval, than the way in which, according to the Chronicon Turonense, William the Conqueror wooed and won Mathilde, the daughter of Count Baldwin, Prince of Flanders. At first he was unsuccessful, “for the young girl,” says Professor Scherr, “declared proudly she would not marry a bastard. Then William rode to Bruges, waylaid Mathilde, attacked her when she came from church, pulled her long hair, and maltreated her with his fists and with kicks, after which heroic performance he made his escape. Strange to say, this peculiar mode of Love-making imposed so greatly on the beauty that she declared with tears in 240her eyes that she would marry no one but the Norman Duke, whom she actually did marry. A parallel case may be found in the German Nibelungenlied (str. 870 and 901).”

Since, according to the old philosophy, human nature, including Love and Love-making, is the same at all times and in all countries, it follows that a modern lover, after donning his brass buttons, should administer his sweetheart a sound thrashing. That will make her mellow and docile.


The Germans, it is well known, are deficient in Gallantry, at least in conjugal life, and often treat their wives more as upper servants than as companions. Perhaps it was the unconscious desire to justify this conjugal attitude that induced one of the leading German psychologists, Horwicz, to pen these lines:—

“Love can only be excited by strong and vivid emotions, and it is almost immaterial whether these emotions are agreeable or disagreeable. The Cid wooed the proud heart of Donna Ximene, whose father he had slain, by shooting one after another of her pet pigeons. Such persons as arouse in us only weak emotions, or none at all, are obviously least likely to incline us toward them.... Our aversion is most apt to be bestowed on individuals who, as the phrase goes, are ‘neither warm nor cold’; whereas impulsive, choleric people, though they may readily offend us, are just as capable of making us warmly attached to them.”

How that modern genius, who lived two thousand years ago and called himself Ovid, would have opened his eyes in wonder at this German-mediæval Art of Love! He, queer fellow, believed that a lover should never be otherwise than pleasantly associated in his sweetheart’s mind. If she is spoiled by over-indulgence, do not, he says in effect, take away her dainties with your own hand. If she is unwell, do not hand her the bitter medicine in person: “Let your rival mix the cup for her.”

So long as the professional manslayer is the highest ideal of woman’s tender heart, lovers will do well to follow mediæval methods of Courtship and make themselves as disagreeable as possible. When the millennium arrives, and wholesale duels to avenge offended national “honour” will, like private duels to avenge individual “honour,” have become obsolete, then the Ovidian psychology of Love will begin to prevail. Then will the lover endeavour to avoid all harshness and to be only agreeably associated in the mind of his goddess—through bright, 241cheerful conversation, harmless and sincere compliments, mutual enjoyment of excursions and artistic entertainments, the avoidance of disagreeable topics, of jealous suspicions and reproaches, etc.; hoping thus to become the nucleus around which her dreams of matrimonial happiness will gradually crystallise.


Persistence alone may win a woman where all other means fail. She may dream of an ideal lover and vainly wait for his appearance for several years; and in the meantime the image of her ever-present suitor will become brighter and more inviting in her mind. For is not perseverance, is not unflagging devotion to a single aim, one of the noblest of manly attributes, a guarantee of success in life and the highest test of genuine passion?

Perseverance may neutralise more than one refusal.

“Have you not heard it said full oft
A woman’s nay doth stand for naught?”

asks Shakspere; and Byron teaches that she

“Who listens once will listen twice;twice;
Her heart, be sure, is not of ice,
And one refusal no rebuff.”

The fact that a proposal is the sincerest compliment a man can pay a woman, contributes not a little to make a second proposal more acceptable. A third should rarely be attempted. The first proposal may have been refused more from momentary embarrassment than from real indifference. The second, being weighted by reflection, is generally final, though numerous exceptions have occurred; yet in such cases it is probable that the woman gives her hand without her heart, having at last discovered that her heart is impervious to all Love. There are hundreds of thousands of such women, and some of them are very sweet and pretty. The fault lies in their shallow education.


Of every ten disappointed lovers seven might say: Had I been a less submissive slave, I might have been a more successful suitor.

“It is a rule of manners,” says Emerson, “to avoid exaggeration.... In man or woman the face and the person lose power when they are on the strain to express admiration.”

242In other words, one of the ways of winning Love is through stolidity and indifference, real or feigned.

Were women the paragons of subtle insight they are painted, they would favour those who are most visibly affected by their charms, as being best able to appreciate and cherish them. There are such women—a few; but the majority are partial coquettes, to whom Love is known only as a form of Vanity, who neglect a man already won, and reserve their sweetest smiles for those that seem less submissive. The artificial dignity under which so many young society men hide their mental vacuity has an irresistible fascination for the average society girl. And the high collar, which helps to keep the head in a dignified position, unswerved by emotion, is responsible for innumerable conquests.

Ergo, to win a society girl’s heart, wear a high collar, appear awfully dignified and stolid, and show not the slightest interest in anything. Above all, if you are of superior intelligence, carefully conceal the fact. Brains are not “good form” in society; for what’s the use of having flint where there is no steel to strike a spark? “Stolidity,” says Schopenhauer, “does not injure a man in a woman’s eye: rather will mental superiority, and still more genius, as something abnormal, have an unfavourable influence.”

A passage from Diderot’s Paradox of Acting (Pollock’s translation) may be cited in illustration of Schopenhauer’s remark.

“Take two lovers, both of whom have their declarations to make. Who will come out of it best? Not I, I promise you. I remember that I approached the beloved object with fear and trembling; my heart beat, my ideas grew confused, my voice failed me, I mangled all I said; I cried yes for no; I made a thousand blunders; I was inimitably inept; I was absurd from top to toe, and the more I saw it the more absurd I became. Meanwhile, under my very eyes, a gay rival, light-hearted and agreeable, master of himself, pleased with himself, losing no opportunity for the finest flattery, made himself entertaining and agreeable, enjoyed himself; he implored the touch of a hand which was at once given him, he sometimes caught it without asking leave, he kissed it once and again. I the while, alone in a corner, avoided a sight which irritated me, stifling my sighs, cracking my fingers with grasping my wrists, plunged in melancholy, covered with a cold sweat, I could neither show nor conceal my vexation. People say of love that it robs witty men of their wit, and gives it to those who had none before: in other words, makes some people sensitive and stupid, others cold and adventurous.”

243Another specialist in Love-lore, Lord Byron, discourses on this text in five pithy lines—

“Not much he kens, I ween, of woman’s breast
Who thinks that wanton thing is won by sighs,
Do proper homage to thine idol’s eyes,
But not too humbly or she will despise;
Disguise even tenderness, if thou art wise.”

And even the king of German metaphysicians, old Kant, understood this feminine foible, which may have been the reason why he never found a wife: “An actor,” he says, “who remains unmoved, but possesses a powerful intellect and imagination, may succeed in producing a deeper impression by his feigned emotion than he could by real emotion. One who is truly in love is, in presence of his beloved, confused, awkward, and anything but fascinating. But a clever man who merely plays the rôle of a lover may do it so naturally as to easily ensnare his poor victim; simply because, his heart being unmoved, his head remains clear, and he can, therefore, make the most of his wits and his cleverness in presenting the counterfeit of a lover.”

“The counterfeit of a lover.” It is he, then, whom women, according to these French, English, and German witnesses, encourage, instead of the true lover. So that women are not only less capable of deep Love than men, but they do not even promote the growth and survival of Love by favouring the men most deeply affected by it. And the fault, be it said once more, lies in the superficial education not only of their intellect but of their emotions, for the heart can only be reached and refined through the brain. The average woman, being incapable of feeling Love, is incapable of appreciating it when she finds it in a man. She sees only its ridiculous side—and ridicule is fatal, even to Love. Ridicule killed Love in France, which to-day is the most loveless country in the civilised world, its women the most frivolous and heartless,—and its population gradually diminishing.

The ridiculous exaggerations of a lover are indeed harmless if the girl is in love too, for then she does not see them; but to one who has yet to win Love, as girls are now constituted, they are fatal. Perhaps this is the reason why the list of men of genius who failed in their truest Love is so extraordinarily large: for, their Love being more ardent than that of others, they were unable to restrain its excesses and feign indifference; while another way in which they “lost power” was through their extravagant admiration of Beauty, which put their faces “on the strain” to express it.

244However this may be, lovers should keep in mind this paradoxical rule, which follows as a corollary from the foregoing discussion:

In order to win a woman, first cure yourself of your passion, then, having won her through feigned indifference (which is easy), fall in love again and bag her before she has had time to discover your change of feeling.

The only difficulty herein lies in the cure. Should this be found impossible, even with the aid of our next chapter, one last resource is open to the lover. Says La Bruyère: “Quand l’on a assez fait auprès d’une femme pour devoir l’engager, il y a encore une ressource, qui est de ne plus rien faire; c’est alors qu’elle vous rappelle.” In other words, if you have failed to win her love, with all your attentions, change your policy: leave her alone, and she will be sure to recall you.

This trait is not simply the outcome of feminine perverseness or coquetry. The explanation lies deeper. Every sensible woman, be she ever so vain and accustomed to flattery, is painfully conscious of certain defects, physical or mental. “Has he discovered them?” she will anxiously ask herself when the sly lover suddenly withdraws; “I must recover his good opinion.” So she sets herself the task of fascinating and pleasing him; and this desire to please (Gallantry) being one of the constituent parts of Love, it is apt to be soon joined by the other symptoms which make up the romantic passion.


“O flatter me, for love delights in praises,”

exclaims one of Shakspere’s characters; and again—

“Flatter and praise, commend, extol their graces;
Tho’ ne’er so black, say they have angels’ faces.”

There is one advantage in writing about the romantic passion. Love is such a tissue of paradoxes, and exists in such an endless variety of forms and shades that you may say almost anything about it you please, and it is likely to be correct. So again here. It is true, no doubt, that skill in the art of flattery helps a man to win a woman’s goodwill, but how does this rhyme with the doctrine that Feigned Indifference is the lover’s sharpest weapon?

Answer: A compliment is not so much an expression of Love as of simple æsthetic admiration; or else it may spring from the flatterer’s desire to show off his wit. A man may compliment a woman for whom he does not feel the slightest Love; and women 245know it. Therefore even a coquette does not despise and ignore a man who flatters her, as she invariably does one whose actions brand him as her captive and slave.

At the same time, since the desire to be considered beautiful is the strongest passion in a woman’s heart, the avenue to that heart may often be found by a man who can convince her honestly that she is considered beautiful by himself and others. For, as every man of ability has moments when he doubts his genius, so every woman has moments when she doubts her beauty and longs to see it in the mirror of a masculine eye.

The most common mistake of lovers is to compliment a woman on her most conspicuous points of beauty. This has very much the same effect on her as telling Rubinstein he is a wonderful pianist. He knows that better than you do, and has been told so so many million times that he is sick and tired of hearing it again. But show him that you have discovered some special subtle detail of excellence in his performance or compositions that had escaped general notice, and his heart is yours at once and for ever. A lover can have no difficulty in discovering such subtle charms in his sweetheart, for Cupid, while blinding him to her defects, places her beauties under a microscope.

A man who attends a social gathering comes home pleased, not at having heard a number of bright things, but in proportion to his own success in amusing the company. On the same principle, if you give a girl—especially one who mistrusts her conversational ability—a chance to say a single bright thing, she will love you more than if you said a hundred clever things to her.

Sincerity in compliments is essential; else all is lost. It is useless to try to convince a woman with an ugly mouth or nose that those features are not ugly. She knows they are ugly, as well as Rubinstein knows when he strikes a wrong note. “Very ugly or very beautiful women,” says Chesterfield, “should be flattered on their understanding, and mediocre ones on their beauty.”

A clever joke is never out of place. You may intimate to a comparatively plain woman that she is good-looking, and if she retorts with a sceptical answer, you may snub her and score ten points in Love by telling her you pity her poor taste.

Indeed, the art of successful flattery, especially with modern self-conscious girls, consists in the ability of giving “a heartfelt compliment in the disguise of playful raillery,” as Coleridge puts it. Conundrums are very useful. For instance, Angelina is patting a dog. “Do you know why all dogs are so fond of you?” 246asks Adolphus. Angelina gives it up. “Because dogs are the most intelligent of all animals.” Angelina goes to Paris, and Adolphus enjoys his last walk with her. They pass a weeping willow. “Why are we two like this tree?” She gives it up again. “A weeping willow is graceful and melancholy; you are graceful, I melancholy.”

“How old am I?” asks Angelina. “I don’t know. Judging by your conversation thirty-five, by your looks nineteen.”

Tell a woman—casually, as it were—of the effect of her charms on a third party, and it will please her more than a bushel of your neatest compliments. As Lessing remarks, Homer gives us a more vivid sense of Helen’s beauty by noting its effect even on the Trojan elders, than he could have done by the most minute enumeration of her charms. Put your flatteries into actions rather than words—“mettre la flatterie dans les actions et non en paroles”—is Balzac’s advice. But “flattery in actions” is simply another name for Gallantry.

There is no danger that the subtlest compliment will ever escape notice. In the discovery of praise the commonest mind has the quickness of genius.


The great trouble with compliments is that they have an annoying habit of occurring to the mind about ten or twenty minutes after the natural opportunity for getting them off has passed away. It is here that Love-letters come to the rescue. They enable a man to excogitate the most excruciatingly subtle and hyperbolic compliments, and then “lead up to them” most naturally.

There is an old superstition that Love-letters must be incoherent trash to be genuine evidences of passion. When Keats’s Love-letters to Fanny Brawne were sold at auction, a spicy journalist commented as follows on the occasion:—

“It is open to question whether, like so many of the letter-writers of the age of which Keats inherited the traditions, the singer of Endymion had not a shrewd eye to posterity when he wrote the laboured compositions which the world regards as the record of his wooing. The manuscript is painfully correct, the punctuation worthy of a printer’s reader, the capitals much nicer than fiery lovers usually form, and the periods rounded with painful care. Like so many cultivators of the art of letter-writing, the sensitive poet, ‘who was snuffed out by a review,’ seems to 247have copied the gush, which last week sold for ten times more than Endymion fetched, before he committed it to the fourpenny post. Hence the veriest scrawl, the most illegible postcard of these times is, as an index to the writer’s character, infinitely more valuable than the ponderous pieces of rhetoric which last century passed for love-making between Strephon, who quotes the elegant Tully, and Chloe, who makes free use of the ‘Elegant Extracts.’ Duller fustian than such priggish love-letters it is hard to conceive. They remind one of nothing so much as the epistles copied out of The Complete Letter-Writer, and must recall to some middle-aged men certain painful experiences of those salad days when their young affections suffered a sudden blight by missives of so severely correct an order that they suggest the idea of having undergone maternal supervision.”

Yet why, pray, should Keats not have written his Love-letters so carefully and copied them so neatly? Is it not a fact that when a man is in love he cares more to make a pleasing impression on one particular person than on all the rest of the world combined? and that even his ambition and fame, for which he labours so hard, seem valuable in his eyes solely as a means of winning Her Love? And if Love is a deeper passion, even in a poet, than ambition, why should he not go to the extent even of taking notes and utilising his very best conceits in his Love-letters? The truth is, in the writing of Love-letters everything depends on the man’s habits. If he is accustomed to writing carelessly, his Love-letters will probably be hasty and slovenly enough to suit orthodox notions on this subject. But if he is a literary artist, he will probably polish his billets-doux more than anything else con amore, considering the probable effect on her mind of every sentence. And although the thought of future publication may enter his mind, it will appear as the veriest trifle compared with the more important object of winning a woman’s Love by a display of complimentary wit and passionate protestations of undying affection.

Sir Richard Steele evidently did not believe that Love-letters, to be genuine, must be slovenly. In one of his letters to Miss Scurlock he apologises for not having time to revise what he had written. In another letter he exclaims: “How art thou, oh my soul, stolen from thyself! how is all my attention broken! my books are blank paper, and my friends intruders.” Again: “It is the hardest thing in the world to be in love, and yet attend business. As for me, all that speak to find me out, and I must lock myself up, or other people will do it for me. A gentleman 248asked me this morning, ‘What news from Holland?’ and I answered, ‘She is exquisitely handsome.’ Another desired to know when I had been last at Windsor; I replied, ‘She designs to go with me.’” And once more: “It is to my lovely charmer I owe that many noble ideas are continually affixed to my words and actions: it is the natural effect of that generous passion to create in the admirers some similitude of the object admired; thus, my dear, am I every day to improve from so sweet a companion.”

The first score or so of Keats’s Love-letters have the ring of true gold. Here are a few specimens in which the thermometer of endearments rises steadily from My Dearest Lady, through My Sweet Girl, My Dear Girl, My Dearest Girl, My Sweet Fanny, to My Sweet Love, Dearest Love and Sweetest Fanny. In the very first letter he writes:—

“Ask yourself, my love, whether you are not very cruel to have so entrammelled me, so destroyed my freedom. Will you confess this in the letter you must write immediately? and do all you can to console me in it—make it rich as a draught of poppies to intoxicate me—write the softest words and kiss them, that I may at least touch my lips where yours have been. For myself, if I do not know how to express my devotion to so fair a form, I want a brighter word than bright, a fairer word than fair. I almost wish we were butterflies, and lived but three summer days—three such days with you I could fill with more delight than fifty common years could ever contain.”

“All I can bring you is a swooning admiration of your beauty.”

“I have two luxuries to brood over in my walks—your loveliness and the hour of my death. O that I could have possession of them both in the same minute.”

“I hate the world: it batters too much the wings of my self-will, and would I could take a sweet poison from your lips to send me out of it. From no others would I take it.”

“At Winchester I shall get your letters more readily; and it being a cathedral city, I shall have a pleasure, always a great one to me when near a cathedral, of reading them during the service up and down the aisle.”

All this is in the true Shaksperian key of Romantic Love, as are the Love-letters of Burns, Byron, Moore, Heine, Bürger, Lenau, and most other poets. Room must be made here for a few extracts from Lenau’s letters to his love, which, in some respects, resemble those of Keats—equally polished, poetic, deep, and sincere:—

249“It makes me melancholy to see how incapable I am of sympathizing with the pleasures of my friends. My Love goes out afar towards you; it hearkens and listens and stares in the distance for you, and takes no note of all the love by which it is surrounded here. I am truly ill. I constantly think of you alone and death. It often seems to me as if my time had expired. I cannot write poetry, I cannot rejoice in anything, cannot hope, can only think of you and death. The other day I wrote to you to take good care of your health—though I myself feel so little desire to live.”

“The whole evening I was unable to think of anything but of you and the possibility of losing you. The large crowd of people seemed to have assembled on purpose to show me most painfully what a mere nothing the world would be to me if I had to part from you. I constantly saw but your face, your lovely, divine eye.”

“Alexander wishes me to go to the baths at Leuk with him. He is quite ill. But I cannot go. If I have to see Switzerland without you, I prefer not to see it at all.”

“My poetic composition is in a bad way. Though a thought sprouts in me here and there, it withers before it has reached maturity. When I go to see you I shall bring along a dry wreath of prematurely-faded poetic blossoms, and make them revive in your presence, as there are warm fountains dipped into which faded flowers blossom again.”

“I have lost all pleasure in other people when you are absent. If you had only been at Weinsberg! Even the Æolian harps did not produce the usual impression on me.” It is noticeable how the overtone of Monopoly is accented in all these plaints.

“I have found in your companionship more evidence of an eternal life than in all my investigations and studies of nature. Whenever, in a happy hour, I believed I had reached the climax of Love and the proper moment for death, since a more delicious moment could never follow: it was on each occasion an illusion, for another hour followed in which I loved you still more deeply. These ever new, ever deeper abysses of life convince me of its immortality. To-day I saw in your eyes the full measure of the divine. Most distinctly did I perceive to-day that the swelling and sinking of the eye is the breathing of the soul. In an eye of such beauty as yours we can see, as in a prophetic hieroglyphic, the essence of which some day our immortal body will consist. If I die, I shall depart rich, for I have seen what is most beautiful in the world.”

“The rose you gave me at parting has a most delicious fragrance, 250as if it were a Good-Night from you! Sleep well, dearest heart! Preserve the second rose as a memento. I love you immeasurably.”

No doubt the average Love-letters read in courts of justice in breach of promise cases, to the intense amusement of the audience, are very different in character from these poetic effusions. But to say that, because the average Love-letters are ludicrous, therefore all Love-letters, to be genuine, must be ludicrous and incoherent, is the very Bedlam of absurdity. What makes common Love-letters so laughable is the fact that the writer, previously a paragon of prosiness, suddenly gets some poetic fancies and tries to put them into language. But as the writing of poetry—in verse or prose—is a more difficult art than piano-playing, first attempts cannot be otherwise than harrowing or amusing. On the other hand, just as a pianist can never improvise so soulfully as when he is in love, so a poet will write his best prose in the letters addressed to his love; the only ludicrous feature being that extravagant and exclusive admiration of one person which is the very essence of Love.

Surely Hawthorne was neither “insincere” nor “thinking of posterity” when he finished one of his Love-letters with this poetic conceit, expressed in his best prose style:—

“When we shall be endowed with spiritual bodies I think they will be so constituted that we may send thoughts and feelings any distance, in no time at all, and transfuse them warm and fresh into the consciousness of those we love. Oh, what happiness it would be, at this moment, if I could be conscious of some purer feeling, some more delicate sentiment, some lovelier fantasy than could possibly have had its birth in my own nature, and therefore be aware that you were thinking through my mind and feeling through my heart! Perhaps you possess this power already.”

This is true epistolary Love-making—the sublimated essence of complimentary Gallantry.


As women are not allowed to make Love actively, they resort to various cunning arts with which they indirectly reach the hard hearts of men. Magic is the most potent of these arts, and always has been so considered by women; for, curiously enough, one finds on looking over the folklore of various nations, ancient and modern, that in nineteen cases out of twenty where a Love-charm is spoken of, it is one used by women to win the affection of men.

251Probably the real reason why the vast majority of women are so curiously indifferent to the hygienic arts of increasing and preserving Personal Beauty—as shown in their devotion to tight-lacing, their aversion to fresh air, sunshine, and brisk exercise—is because they know they can infallibly win a man’s Love by the use of some simple powder or potion. It is well known that the Roman poet Lucretius took his life in an amorous fit caused by a love-potion; and Lucullus lost his reason in the same way. The grandest musical work in existence would never have been written had not Brangäne given to Tristan and Isolde a love-potion which was so powerful that it made not only both the victims die of the fever of Love, but united them even after death: "For from the grave of Tristan sprang a plant which descended into the grave of Yseult. Cut down thrice by order of the Cornish king, the irrepressible vegetable bloomed verdant as ever next morning, and even now casts its shadow over the tombs of the lovers—

“‘An ay it grew, an ay it threw,
As they would fain be one.’”

In mediæval times Personal Beauty was such a rare thing, and created such havoc among men, that the unhappy possessors of it were frequently accused of using forbidden Love-charms, and burnt at the stake as witches.

To-day, thanks to our superior sanitary and educational arrangements, Beauty is such a common affair that it has lost all its effect on the masculine heart; hence girls should carefully note a few of the ways by which a man may be irresistibly fascinated.

Italian girls practise the following method: A lizard is caught, drowned in wine, dried in the sun and reduced to powder, some of which is thrown on the obdurate man, who thenceforth is theirs for evermore.

A favourite Slavonic device is to cut the finger, let a few drops of her blood run into a glass of beer, and make the adored man drink it unknowingly. The same method is current in Hesse and Oldenburg, according to Dr. Ploss. In Bohemia, the girl who is afraid to wound her finger may substitute a few drops of bat’s blood.

Cases are known where invocations to the moon were followed by the bestowal of true Love. And if a girl will address the new moon as follows—

“All hail to thee, moon! All hail to thee!
Prithee, good moon, reveal to me,
This night who my husband shall be,”

she will dream of him that very night.

252A four-leaved clover secretly placed in a man’s shoes will make him the devoted lover of the woman who puts it in.

“Inside a frog is a certain crooked bone, which, when cleaned and dried over the fire on St. John’s Eve, and then ground fine and given in food to the lover, will at once win his love for the administerer.”

If a girl sees a man washing his hands—say at a picnic—and lends him her apron or handkerchief to dry them, he will forthwith declare himself her amorous slave to eternity.

There are men, however, who, owing to some constitutional defect or inherited anomaly, remain unaffected by these and similar arts. Should any woman be so foolish as to crave such a man’s Love, she will do well to bear in mind that Vanity is the backdoor by which every man’s heart may be entered. Thus Byron says of a Venetian flame of his: “But her great merit is finding out mine—there is nothing so amiable as discernment.” “Let her be,” says Thackeray, “if not a clever woman, an appreciator of cleverness in others, which, perhaps, clever folks like better.” “Ne’er,” says Scott,

“‘Was flattery lost on poet’s ears:
A simple race! they waste their toil
For the vain tribute of a smile.’”

Rousseau’s last love was inspired by a woman’s admiration of his writings. Balzac, celibate for many years, was at last captured by a woman who returned to a hotel room for a volume of his works she had left there, informing him, without suspecting who he was, that she never travelled without it and could not live without it.

“The story of the marriage of Lamartine,” says the author of Salad for the Solitary, “is also one of romantic interest. The lady, whose maiden name was Birch, was possessed of considerable property, and when past the bloom of youth she became passionately enamoured of the poet from the perusal of his Meditations. For some time she nursed this sentiment in secret, and, being apprised of the embarrassed state of his affairs, she wrote him, tendering him the bulk of her fortune. Touched with this remarkable proof of her generosity, and supposing it could only be caused by a preference for himself, he at once made an offer of his hand and heart. He judged rightly, and the poet was promptly accepted.”accepted.”

Sympathy, beauty, wit, elegant manners, amiability—these are woman’s arrows of Love, ever sure of their aim. “She loved me for the dangers I had passed,” says Othello, “and I loved her that she did pity them.” Or, as Professor Dowden comments on this 253passage, “the beautiful Italian girl is fascinated by the regal strength and grandeur, and tender protectiveness of the Moor. He is charmed by the sweetness, the sympathy, the gentle disposition the gracious womanliness of Desdemona.”

“The gracious womanliness of Desdemona.” There lies the secret—the charm of charms. It is fortunate that the political viragoes of to-day, who would remove woman from her domestic sphere, have opposed to them the greatest force in the universe—the power of man’s Love! When they have overcome that, they will find it easy to dam the current of the Niagara River, and curb the force of the ocean’s countless breakers.


Countless as the stars, and only too apposite, are the jokes about lovers who evolve masterpieces of eloquence wherewith to lay their hearts at their idol’s feet; but who, when the crucial moment of the trial arrives, like Beckmesser in Wagner’s comic opera, stutter out the veriest parody of their song of Love. And no wonder, considering what is at stake; for the Yes or No decides whether the lover is to be—literally—the happiest or the unhappiest of all men for weeks or months to come.

Ovid cautions a man not to select a sweetheart in the twilight or lamplight, since “spots are invisible at night and every fault is overlooked; at that time almost every woman is held to be beautiful.”

But proposing is a different matter from selecting. When once the choice is made, and her choice alone remains to be decided, twilight is the only proper time to “pop the question.” For a maiden’s independence and Coyness are inversely related to the degree of light. In the morning, in broad daylight, she can boldly face even the terrible thought of being left an old maid; but in the twilight she feels the need of a man’s protection, and it is at that time that the imagination is least deaf to the whispered and self-suggested fancies of Romantic Love and wedded bliss. A man who proposes in the morning deserves, therefore, to be disappointed.

Nature herself has provided a safeguard against morning proposals. No woman is so beautiful in the daytime as is in the evening; and the moon’s romantic associations are largely due to its magic effect of beautifying the complexion and features of women, and thus urging the lover’s courage to the point of amorous confession.

254There is still another reason why a tender and considerate lover should propose in the chiaroscuro of subdued light—to spare her blushes—

“But ’neath yon crimson tree,
Lover to listening maid might breathe his flame,
Nor mark, within its roseate canopy,
Her blush of maiden shame.”—Bryant.

Not many years ago a plan was described in the newspapers by which a number of Southern youths who had not the courage to propose were happily mated and wedded. An elderly person was selected, vowed to eternal secrecy, and to him each youth and maiden who was in love confided in writing the name of the beloved. Those couples that had chosen one another were informed of the fact, and went away rejoicing, arm in arm.

A fairy story, on the face of it. A woman would sooner cut off her hand than write with it the secret of her Love before she knew it was returned; and that man that hath a tongue is, I say, no man, if he is afraid to ask for a woman’s hand—or to take it unasked, and let it respond to the touching question. “Love sought is good, but given unsought is better,” says Shakspere. The only true proposals are those where spoken words are dispensed with; where the magnetic thrill of the hands, the eloquence of the tell-tale eyes, draw the lovers into mutual embrace, and lips become glued on lips in unpremeditated ecstasy.


Though women may often feel in doubt concerning the intentions of men who pay them attentions, they cannot help recognizing deep Love in a man instantly; for the symptoms, as described in a previous chapter, are absolutely unmistakable. A woman, too, who loves deeply, can hardly help betraying herself, by the sly opportunities she finds for meeting her lover (purely accidental, of course), and by the special pains she takes to make it clear to her friends that she does not care for that man certainly; often also by the fact, pointed out by Jean Paul, that “Love increases man’s delicacy and lessens woman’s”; tempting her occasionally to throw away all prudence and regard for public opinion, in the wild intoxication of her passion and her confidence in her lover.

But in cases of doubt—how is a lover to decide whether it is safe and worth while to proceed? A woman’s Coyness, of course, means nothing, and may have been brought on by an assumption of excessive confidence and boldness on the man’s part. Girls are 255like wild colts. They may be safely approached to a certain distance, whence one step more will cause them to stampede; but stand still at that point, and before long they will cast away fear and meet you half-way.

Trifles are the only safe tests of Love. For they are not so apt as weighty words and actions to be the outcome of a deliberate coquettish desire to deceive. To ascertain if you are loved—and this holds true for both sexes—allude (with a careless assumption of indifference) to some trifling details of previous conversation or common experience. If she (or he) remembers them all, especially if of remote occurrence, the chances are you are loved.

Shakspere evidently had this in mind when he wrote—

“If thou rememberest not the slightest folly
That ever love did make thee run into,
Thou hast not loved.”


All hope abandon ye who enter here. It is a terrible haunt of pessimism, for disappointed lovers only. All others will please pass it by, for the object of this book is to advocate the cause of Love, not to weaken it. Only when all hope of reciprocation is abandoned, should the tender plant ever be crushed underfoot.

An exception must be made in favour of those hopeful lovers who merely wish to cure themselves in order to improve their chances of winning, as explained in the last chapter, under the head of Feigned Indifference.

It is useless to quote to a rejected lover Rosalind’s philosophy: “Our poor world is almost six thousand years old, and in all this time there was not any man died in his own person, videlicet, in a love cause.... Men have died from time to time, and worms have eaten them, but not for love.” Useless to tell him, as Emerson does, that it is not a disgrace to love unrequitedly: “It never troubles the sun that some of his rays fall wide and vain into ungrateful space, and only a small part on the reflecting planet.”

To all such efforts at consolation the poor wretch may retort with Shakspere: “Every one may master a grief but he who has it.” Yet he may, at any rate, endeavour to “patch his grief” with the following reflections, based on the experience of centuries.



Two thousand years ago Ovid advised the readers of his Remedia Amoris who wished to cure themselves of an unwelcome attachment to flee the capital, to travel, hunt, or till the soil till all danger of a relapse should he averted. “Out of sight, out of mind,” wrote Thomas à Kempis; and this theme has been varied by a hundred writers in prose and verse. “Love is a local anguish,” exclaims Coleridge; “I am fifty miles away and am not half so miserable.” Carew puts it thus—

“Then fly betimes, for only they
Conquer love, that run away.”

Even the unspeakable Turk has a proverb advising a lover to fly to the mountains. The Himalayas are probably meant, for no other chain would be high enough to allay the anguish of a polygamist rejected by a whole harem.

On the other hand, “I find that absence still increases love,” wrote Charles Hopkins in the seventeenth century; and Bayly gave this paradox the familiar form of “absence makes the heart grow fonder”—to which a modern realistic wag has added the coda “of the other man.” “La Rochefoucauld has well remarked,” says Hume, “that absence destroys weak passions, but increases strong ones; as the wind extinguishes a candle but blows up a fire.”

This simile is not very appropriate, nor is the statement unquestionable. It is more correct to say that short absence increases Love, while long absence cures it.

There are two ways in which a short absence favours Love:

Like the thirst of a man who would wean himself of strong liquor, the lovers ardour is at first increased when he is placed where he can no longer drink in the intoxicating sight of her beauty. Time is needed to annihilate the maddening memory of that pleasure.

Secondly, short absence favours the idealising process in the lover’s mind. Removed from the corrective influence of her actual presence, his imagination may abandon itself to the delightful task of painting a gloriously unreal counterfeit of her charms—which is oil in the flames.

This idealising process is facilitated by the strange difficulty which most people—and lovers in particular—experience in recalling the features of those specially dear to them.

257Given sufficient time to fix the idealised image of the beloved in the memory, and a cure may be effected through the shock subsequently felt on comparing this image with the greatly inferior reality.


It is safer, however, not to risk a return, but to avoid sight of her altogether for several years. The advantages of travel are twofold, not to mention the security from the danger of an accidental meeting. At home the surrounding world is too familiar to afford distraction, whereas in a strange place every object claims the attention and diverts the mind from its amorous reveries. More important still is the fact that in a foreign country the strangeness of national physiognomy invests all women with a heightened charm, so that it is easier to find an antidote by falling in love anew.


“Great spirits and great business do keep out the weak passion of love,” said Bacon; but long before him Ovid knew that Leisure is Cupid’s chief ally. “If you desire to end your love, employ yourself and you will conquer; for Amor flees business.” He advises military service, agriculture, and hunting as excellent diversions.

Poetry and music, however, as the same poet tells us, and all other occupations tending to stir up the tender feelings, are to be carefully avoided. Novel-reading is particularly bad, for to imagine another’s Love is to revive your own. “Lotte Hartmann played some melodies of Bellini on the piano this evening,” writes Lenau; “I ought to avoid music when I am away from you, for it arouses in me a longing and an anguish of consuming violence. I feel how my heart sadly shrinks within itself, and unwillingly continues to beat.”


Surely the thought that his romantic adoration will cease with marriage ought to cure a rejected wooer. Unquestionably, marriage is the best cure of Love. For though cynics are wrong in claiming that wedlock changes Love to indifference, it does change it to conjugal affection, which is an entirely different group of emotions. To the rejected lover, unfortunately, matrimony is not available as a cure of his Love. But he may give his overheated imagination an ice-bath by reflecting on the dark side of conjugal life, the 258promised bliss of which has been described as a mirage by so many great minds.

Professor Jowett thus discourses on how a modern Sokrates in a cynical mood might discourse on the seamy side of married life:—

“How the inferior of the two drags the other down to his or her level; how the cares of a family ‘breed meanness in their souls.’... They cannot undertake any noble enterprise, such as makes the names of men and women famous, from domestic considerations. Too late their eyes are opened; they were taken unawares, and desire to part company. Better, he would say, a ‘little love at the beginning,’ for heaven might have increased it; but now their foolish fondness has changed into mutual dislike.... How much nobler, in conclusion he will say, is friendship, which does not receive unmeaning praises from novelists and poets, is not exacting or exclusive, is not impaired by familiarity, is much less expensive, is not so likely to take offence, seldom changes, and may be dissolved from time to time without the assistance of the courts.”

Dr. Johnson, in a letter to Baretti, points out the difference between Love and Marriage:

“In love, as in every other passion of which hope is the essence, we ought always to remember the uncertainty of events. There is, indeed, nothing that so much seduces reason from vigilance as the thought of passing life with an amiable woman; and if all would happen that a lover fancies, I know not what other terrestrial happiness would deserve pursuit. But love and marriage are different states. Those who are to suffer the evils together, and to suffer often for the sake of one another, soon lose that tenderness of look and that benevolence of mind which arose from the participation of unmingled pleasure and successive amusement.”

“Lose that tenderness of look!” Have you reflected that it is that exquisite tenderness of look which chiefly fascinated you, and have you not noticed that, as Johnson implies, married people rarely regard one another with that look which constantly intoxicated them during Courtship? For “beauty soon grows familiar to the lover, fades in his eye, and palls upon the sense,” says Addison; or, as Hazlitt puts it, “though familiarity may not breed contempt, it takes off the edge of admiration.”

“With most marriages,” says Goethe, “it is not long till things assume a very piteous look.” Raleigh: “If thou marry beauty, thou bindest thyself all thy life for that which, perchance, will 259neither last nor please thee one year.” Seneca: “Beauty is such a fleeting blossom, how can wisdom rely upon its momentary delight?” Howells: “Marian Butler was at that period full of those airs of self-abnegation with which women adorn themselves in the last days of betrothal and the first of marriage, and never afterwards.” Alexander Walker: “It looks as if woman were in possession of most enjoyments, and as if man had only an illusion held out to him to make him labour for her.”

Montaigne: “As soon as women are ours we are no longer theirs.” “The land of marriage has this peculiarity that strangers are desirous of inhabiting it, while its natural inhabitants would willingly be banished thence.” Boucicault: “I wish that Adam had died with all his ribs in his body.” De Finod: “Marriage is the sunset of love.” Goldsmith: “Many of the English marry in order to have one happy month in their lives.” Hood: “You can’t wive and thrive both in the same year.” Southey: “There are three things a wise man will not trust,—the wind, the sunshine of an April day, and a woman’s plighted faith.” Byron: “I remarked in my illness the complete inertion, inaction, and destruction of my chief mental faculties. I tried to rouse them, and yet could not—and this is the Soul!!! I should believe that it was married to the body if they did not sympathise so much with each other.” Colley Cibber: “Oh, how many torments lie in the small circle of a wedding-ring!” Alphonse Karr: “Women for the most part do not love us. They do not choose a man because they love him, but because it pleases them to be loved by him.”

Lady Montagu: “It goes far toward reconciling me to being a woman, when I reflect that I am thus in no immediate danger of ever marrying one.” Schopenhauer: “It is well known that happy marriages are rare.” “The lover, contrary to expectation, finds himself no happier than before.” Byron—

“Think you if Laura had been Petrarch’s wife
He would have written sonnets all his life?”

Burton: “Paul commended marriage, yet he preferred a single life.” Buxton: “Juliet was a fool to kill herself, for in three months she’d have married again, and been glad to be quit of Romeo.” Heine: “The music at a marriage procession always reminds me of the music which leads soldiers to battle.” Lessing—

“Ein einzig böses Weib gibt’s höchstens in der Welt,
Nur schade dass ein jeder es für das seine hält.”
“Of shrewish women in the world there’s surely only one,
A pity, though, that every man says she’s the wife he won.”

260Selden: “Marriage is a desperate thing. The frogs in Æsop were extremely wise; they had a great mind to some water, but they would not leap into the well, because they could not get out again.”

When the Pope heard of Father Hyacinthe’s marriage, says Cheales, he exclaimed: “The saints be praised! the renegade has taken his punishment into his own hands. Truly the ways of Providence are inscrutable!”


Why are women so mysterious, so inscrutable? Cynics say because you cannot calculate what they will do, as they have no fixed compass by which they steer, i.e. no character. But Heine takes up their defence. Far from having no character, he says, they have a new one every day.

The world’s opinion of women is best revealed in the crystallised wisdom, based on experience, called proverbs. It will soothe the wounded lover’s heart to note the unanimity with which woman’s foibles are dwelt on in the proverbs of all nations from ancient Greece to modern China and France. To give only three instances of a thousand that may be found in any collection of proverbs: “Women,” says a French proverb, “have quicksilver in the brain, wax in the heart.” The old Greek poet Xenarchus sang, “Happy the cicadas live, since they all have voiceless wives.” “There is no such poison in the green snake’s mouth or in the hornet’s sting as in a woman’s heart,” says a Chinese maxim.

But it is not necessary to rely on such anonymous collections of wisdom as proverbs to convince a man of the folly of linking himself for life with such a miserable inferior being as a woman. From Plato to Darwin there is a consensus of opinion as to woman’s vast inferiority to man.

According to Plato, says Mr. Grote, “men are superior to women in everything; in one occupation as well as in another.” Cookery and weaving having been named as two apparent exceptions, Plato denies woman’s superiority even in these.

“The chief distinction in the intellectual powers of the two sexes,” says Darwin, “is shown by man’s attaining to a higher eminence, in whatever he takes up, than can woman—whether requiring deep thought, reason, or imagination, or merely the use of the senses and hands. If two lists were made of the most eminent men and women in poetry, painting, sculpture, music (inclusive both of composition and performance), history, science, 261and philosophy, with half a dozen names under each subject, the two lists would not bear comparison.”

“I found, as a rule,” says Mr. Galton, "that men have more delicate powers of discrimination than women, and the business of life seems to confirm this view. The tuners of pianofortes are men, and so, I understand, are the tasters of tea and wine, the sorters of wool, and the like. These latter occupations are well salaried, because it is of the first moment to the merchant that he should be rightly advised on the real value of what he is about to purchase or to sell. If the sensitivity of women were superior to that of men, the self-interest of merchants would lead to their being always employed; but as the reverse is the case, the opposite supposition is likely to be the true one.

“Ladies rarely distinguish the merits of wine at the dinner-table, and though custom allows them to preside at the breakfast-table, men think them, on the whole, to be far from successful makers of tea and coffee.”

This disposes of the old myth that women are more sensitive than men. And De Quincy, in his essay on False Distinctions, refutes the equally absurd notion that “women have more imagination than men.” He comes to the conclusion that, “as to poetry in its highest form, I never yet knew a woman, nor yet will believe that any has existed, who could rise to an entire sympathy with what is most excellent in that art.”

One proof of this statement lies in the fact that as a rule men of genius have been refused by the women they loved most deeply.

Regarding the emotional sphere, we have seen that it is only in parental and conjugal feeling that woman surpasses man. In Romantic Love, in all the impersonal feelings for art and nature, she is vastly his inferior. Her superficial education gives her no intellectual interests, and that is the reason why so many married men prefer the club and friendship to home and conjugal devotion—even as did the ancient Greeks.

It is in the seventh book of the Laws, p. 806, that Plato remarks: “The legislator ought not to let the female sex live softly and waste money and have no order of life, while he takes the utmost care of the male sex, and leaves half of life only blest with happiness, when he might have made the whole state happy.”

Is it not humiliating to man, who loves to call himself a “reasoning animal,” to find that, after so many centuries, one of our greatest and most liberal thinkers, Professor Huxley, is obliged to write in this same Platonic tone that “the present system of female education stands self-condemned, as inherently absurd,” 262because it fosters and exaggerates instead of removing woman’s natural disadvantages? “With few insignificant exceptions,” Professor Huxley continues, “girls have been educated either to be drudges or toys beneath man, or a sort of angels above him; the highest ideal aimed at oscillating between Clärchen and Beatrice. The possibility that the ideal of womanhood lies neither in the fair saint nor in the fair sinner; that women are meant neither to be men’s guides nor their playthings, but their comrades, their fellows, and their equals, so far as Nature puts no bar to their equality, does not seem to have entered into the minds of those who have had the conduct of the education of girls” (Lay Sermons, p. 25).

Woman, in short, is a failure; and let any disappointed lover ask himself, Is it businesslike to begin life with a failure?


Love being a magic emotional microscope which ignites passion by magnifying the most beautiful features of the beloved, leaving everything else indistinct and blurred, it follows that the simplest way of arresting this flame is to change the focus of this microscope, to fix the attention deliberately on her faults, while throwing her merits and charms into an unfavourable light.

This method is too self-evident and effective not to have occurred to the ingenious Ovid. He advises the lover who wishes to be cured to study the girl’s charms in a hypercritical spirit. Call her stout if she is plump, black if she is dark, lean if slender. Ask her to sing if she has no talent for music, to talk if unskilled in conversation, to dance if awkward, and if her teeth are bad, tell her funny stories to make her laugh.

Her mental faults require no microscope to reveal them. Certainly her taste is execrable, for does she not prefer that vulgar fellow Jones to you, one of the cleverest fellows that ever condescended to be born on this miserable planet?

What folly, indeed, to love such a girl! What fascinates you is simply the mysterious brilliancy of her coal-black eyes—of which you may find ten thousand duplicates in Italy or Spain. Don’t you see that no flashes of wit are ever mirrored in those eyes? that, though beautiful, they are soulless, like a black pansy? that they look at one person as at another, incapable of expressing shades and modulations of tender emotion, because the soul of which they are the windows has never been, and never will be, moved by Love?

She never thinks of anything but her own pleasure; does 263nothing but visit the dressmaker and the theatre and read novels; never thinks it her duty to provide for her future husband’s comfort and happiness by educating herself in domestic economy and æsthetic accomplishments of real depth—as you have toiled and studied in anticipation of providing for her comfort and happiness. She takes no sympathetic interest in your affairs—how can you expect to be happy with her? If she loves you not, you would be more than a fool to try to get her consent to marriage, for is it not the ecstasy of Love to be loved and worshipped alone and beyond any other mortal?

The beauty of her eyes will not last,—it is nothing, anyway, but sunlight mechanically reflected from a darkly-painted iris—and when its youthful brilliancy vanishes there will be no soul-sparks to take its place. And for this brief honeymoon mirage you are willing to give up your bachelor comforts and pleasures, your freedom to do what you please, go where you please, and travel whenever you please; to exchange your refreshing sleep o’ nights for domestic cares and the pleasure of trotting up and down the room with a bawling baby at two o’clock in the morning? Bah! Are you in your senses?

True, if you are rich some of these disadvantages may be avoided. But if you are rich you will not be refused, for—

“Mammon wins his way where seraphs might despair,”

as Byron remarks; and again: “For my own part, I am of the opinion of Pausanias, that success in love depends upon Fortune.”

But of all her shortcomings the most galling and fatal is that she loves you not. This thought alone, says Stendhal, may succeed in curing a man of his passion. You will notice, he says, that she whom you love favours others with little attentions which she withholds from you. They may be mere trifles, such as not giving you a chance to help her into her carriage, her box at the opera. The thought of this, by “associating a sense of humiliation with every thought of her, poisons the source of love and may destroy it.”

Thus wounded Pride is the easiest way out of Love, as gratified Pride is the straightest way in.


According to Shakspere, though Love does not admit Reason as his counsellor, he does use him as his physician. The most effective way of using Reason to cure Love is by way of comparison. By dwelling on the miseries of married life as just detailed, the disappointed 264lover may mitigate his pains somewhat, as did that Italian mentioned by Schopenhauer, who resisted the agony of torture by constantly keeping in his mind’s eye the picture of the gallows that would have been the reward of confession.

Again, he may compare his present Love with a former infatuation that seemed at the time equally deep and eternal, though now he wonders how he could have ever loved that girl. History repeats itself.

Compare, moreover, your present idol with her stout and faded mother. In a few years she will perhaps resemble her mother more than her present self.

Compare her charms, feature by feature, with some recognised paragon of beauty. Look at her in the glaring light of the sun, which reveals every spot on the complexion.


Longfellow says it is folly to pretend that one ever wholly recovers from a disappointed passion; and Mr. Hamerton believes that “a wrinkled old maid may still preserve in the depths of her own heart, quite unsuspected by the young and lively people about her, the unextinguished embers of a passion that first made her wretched fifty years before.”

Occasionally this may be true, in the sense in which psychology teaches that no impression made on the mind is ever completely effaced, but may, though forgotten for years, be revived in moments of great excitement, or in the delirium of fever; as, for example, in the case mentioned by Duval, of a Pole in Germany, who had not used his native language for thirty years, but who, under the influence of anæsthetics, “spoke, prayed, and sang, using only the Polish language.” The persistence of an old passion is the more probable from the fact that in mental disease and age, as Ribot points out, the emotional faculties are effaced much more slowly than the intellectual. Feelings form the self; amnesia of feeling is the destruction of self.

Ordinarily, however, and for the time being, it may be possible to practically obliterate a passion. “All love may be expelled by love, as poisons are by other poisons,” says Dryden. And if the allopathic remedies described in the preceding paragraphs should fail to effect a cure, the lover may find the homœopathic principle of similia similibus more successful.

Heine, in his posthumous Memoirs, thus refers to this principle of curing like with like:—

265“In love, as in the Roman Catholic religion, there is a provisional purgatory in which mortals are allowed to get used gradually to being roasted before they get into the real eternal hell.... In all honesty, what a terrible thing is love for a woman. Inoculation is herein of no use.... Very wise and experienced physicians counsel a change of locality in the opinion that removal from the presence of the enchantress will also break the charm. Perhaps the homœopathic principle, by which woman cures us of woman, is the best of all.... It was ordained that I should be visited more severely than other mortals by this malady, the heart-pox.... The most effective antidote to women are women; true, this implies an attempt to expel Satan with Beelzebub; and in such a case the medicine is often more noxious still than the malady. But it is at any rate a change, and in a disconsolate love-affair a change of the inamorata is unquestionably the best policy.”


After carefully following all the foregoing rules regarding absence, travel, employment, dwelling on the miseries of marriage, the weaknesses of women in general and one woman in particular, the disappointed lover may boldly return and face her again. The chances are ten to one he will find himself—more in love than ever!

Women are magicians. No wonder they were burned as witches in the Middle Ages.


Romantic love—commonly considered immutable—not only displays countless individual variations in regard to duration and degrees of intensity, but has a sort of “local colour” in each country; or, to keep up our old metaphor, a varying clangtint, depending on the greater or less prominence of certain “overtones.”

To describe all these varieties of Love would require a separate volume. And since all the most interesting forms of the romantic passion are to be met with in France, Italy, Spain, Germany, England, and America, it will suffice to briefly characterise Love in those countries.



As literary luck would have it, the subject of French Love follows naturally upon the subject of the last chapter, the Remedia Amoris.

The French are too clever a nation to leave to individual effort the difficult task of curing the mind of such an obstinate thing as Love. All the papas and mammas in the land have put their heads together and devised two methods of killing Love wholesale, compared with which all the remedies named in the last chapter are mere fly-bites.

These two methods are Chaperonage and Parental Choice, as opposed to Courtship and Individual Sexual Selection.

Paradoxical as it may seem, there is in the midst of modern Europe a nation which, in the treatment of women, Love, and marriage, stands on the same low level of evolution as the ancient, mediæval, and Oriental nations.

This is not a theory, but a fact patent to all, and attested by the best English, German, and French authors.

One of the deepest of French thinkers, whose eyes were opened by travel and comparison, De Stendhal, in 1842, says in his book De l’Amour: “Pour comprendre cette passion, que depuis trente ans la peur du ridicule cache avec tant de soin parmi nous, il faut en parler comme d’une maladie”—"To understand this passion, which during the last thirty years has been concealed among us with so much solicitude, from fear of ridicule, it is necessary to speak of it as a malady."

But Stendhal greatly understates the case. It was not only within thirty years from the time when he wrote, and by means of ridicule, that the French had tried hard to kill Love. They have never really emancipated themselves from mediæval barbarism. Pure Romantic Love between two young unmarried persons has never yet flourished in France—because it has never been allowed to grow. To-day, as in the days of the Troubadours, the only form of Love celebrated in French plays and romances is the form which implies conjugal infidelity.

“Marriage, as treated in the old French epics,” says Ploss, “is rarely based on love;” the woman marries for protection, the man for her wealth or social affiliations. In the eighteenth century girls were compelled from their earliest years to live only for appearance sake: “The most harmless natural enjoyment, every childish ebullition, is interdicted as improper. Her mother denies 267her the expression of tender emotion as too bourgeois, too common. The little one grows up in a dreary, heartless vacuum; her deeper feelings remain undeveloped.... Real love would be too ordinary a motive of marriage, and therefore extremely ridiculous. It is not offered her, accordingly, nor does she feel any.”

Heine wrote from Paris in 1837 that “girls never fall in love in this country.” "With us in Germany, as also in England and other nations of Germanic origin, young girls are allowed the utmost possible liberty, whereas married women become subjected to the strict and anxious supervision of their husbands.

"Here in France, as already stated, the reverse is the case: young girls remain in the seclusion of a convent until they either marry or are introduced to the world under the strict eye of a relative. In the world, i.e. in the French salon, they always remain silent and little noticed, for it is neither good form here nor wise to make love to an unmarried girl.

“There lies the difference. We Germans, as well as our Germanic neighbours, bestow our love always on unmarried girls, and these only are celebrated by our poets; among the French, on the other hand, married women only are the object of love, in life as well as in literature.”

The difficulty of becoming acquainted with a young lady, Mr. Hamerton tells us, is greatest “in what may be called the ‘respectable’ classes in country-towns and their vicinities. In Parisian society young ladies go out into le monde, and may be seen and even spoken to at evening-parties.”

“And even spoken to” is good, is very good. What a privilege for the young men! The iron bars which formerly separated them from the young ladies have actually been removed, and they are allowed to speak to them—in presence of a heart-chilling, conversation-killing dragon. No wonder Parisian society is so corrupt!

Mr. Hamerton has given in Round My House the most realistic and fascinating account of French courtship and marriage-customs ever written. He is a great admirer of the French, always ready to excuse their foibles, and his testimony is, therefore, doubly valuable as that of an absolutely impartial witness. He had an opportunity for many years of studying French provincial life with an artist’s trained faculties; and here are a few sentences culled from his descriptions:—

“It is not merely difficult, in our neighbourhood, for a young man in the respectable classes to get acquainted with a young lady, but every conceivable arrangement is devised to make it absolutely 268impossible. Balls and evening-parties are hardly ever given, and when they are given great care is taken to keep young men out of them, and young marriageable girls either dance with each other or with mere children.”

Whereas in England “a young girl may go where she likes, without much risk to her good name,” a French girl “may not cross a street alone, nor open a book which has not been examined, nor have an opinion about anything.” “The French ideal of a well-brought-up young lady is that she should not know anything whatever about love and marriage, that she should be both innocent and ignorant, and both in the supreme degree—both to a degree which no English person can imagine.”

“The young men are not to blame; they would be ready enough, perhaps, to fall in love if they had the chance, like any Englishman or German, but the respectable parents of the young lady take care that they shall not have the chance of falling in love.”

The only opportunity a young man has of seeing a girl is at a distance, at church or in a religious procession. Here he may see her face; her character he can only ascertain through gossip, a lady friend, or the parish priest. It is much more respectable, however, to show no such curiosity, for its absence implies the absence of such a ridiculous thing as Love. “There is nothing which good society in France disapproves of so much as the passion of Love, or anything resembling it.” “When Cœlebs asks for the hand of a girl he has seen for a minute, he may just possibly be in love with her, which is a degrading supposition; but if he has never seen her, you cannot even suspect him of a sentiment so unbecoming.”

There is but one way for the young man to gain admission to a house where there is a marriageable young lady: “He must first, through a third party, ask to marry the young lady, and, if her parents consent, he will then be admitted to see her and speak to her, but not otherwise. The respectable order of affairs is that the offer and acceptance should precede and not follow courtship.

Would it be possible to conceive a more diabolically ingenious social machinery for massacring Romantic Love en gros?

“Marriages in France are generally arranged by the exercise of reason and prudence, rather than by either passion or affection.” Mr. Hamerton gives an amusing account of how he was asked to be matrimonial ambassador by a young man who had never seen the girl he wanted to marry. Mr. Hamerton obliged the young man, but was told by the mother that if the young man would 269wait two years he might have a fair chance, provided a richer or nobler suitor did not turn up in the meantime.

Money and Rank versus Love. French mammas have at least one virtue. They are not hypocrites.

The Countess von Bothmer, who lived in France a quarter of a century, says in her French Home Life: “Where we so ordinarily listen to what we understand by love—to the temptations of the young heart in all their forms (however transitory), to our individual impressions and our own opinions—the French consult fitness of relative situation, reciprocities of fortune and position, and harmonies of family intercourse.”

To annihilate the last resource of Love—elopement—the Code Napoléon forbids all marriages without either the consent of the father and mother, or proof that they are both dead. “It is very troublesome to get married in France; the operation is surrounded by difficulties and formalities which would make an Englishman stamp with rage.”

Social life, of course, suffers as much from this idiotic system as Romantic Love. French hospitality “does not extend beyond the family circle,” we are informed by M. Max O’Rell, who also gives this amusing instance of the imbecility or mental slavery (he does not use these words) produced by the French system of education and chaperonage:—

“I remember I was one day sitting in the Champs Elysées with two English ladies. Beside us was a young French girl with her father and mother. The person on the right of papa rose and went away, and we heard the young innocent say to her mother: ‘Mamma, may I go and sit by papa?’ It was a baby of about eighteen or twenty. Those English ladies laugh over the affair to this day.”

Boys suffer as well as girls. As the author of an article on “Parisian Psychology” remarks: “There are no mothers in France; it is a nation of ‘mammas,’ who, in the most unlimited sense of the word, spoil their boys, weaken them in body and soul, dwarf their thought, dry their hearts, and lower them to below even their own level, hoping thereby to rule over them through life, as they too often do. Frenchwomen having been at best but half-wives, regard their children as a sort of compensation for what they have themselves not had; and after the mischievous fashion of weak ‘mammas’ prolong babyhood till far into mature life.”

The French, in fact, are a nation of babies. Their puerile conceit, which prevents them from learning to read any language 270but their own, and thus finding out what other nations think of them, is responsible in part for the mediæval barbarism of their matrimonial arrangements. The Parisian is the most provincial animal in the world. In any other metropolis—be it London, New York, Vienna, or Berlin—people understand and relish whatever is good in literature, art, and life, be it English, American, French, German, or Italian. But the Parisian understands only what is narrowly and exclusively French. And this is the dictionary definition of Provincialism.

The consequences of this mediævalism and provincialism in modern France are thus eloquently summed up by a writer in the Westminster Review (1877):—

“Such education as girls receive is not only not a preparation for the wedded state, it is a positive disqualification for it. They are not taught to read, they are not taught to reason; they are launched into life without a single intellectual interest. The whole effort of their early training goes to fill their mind with puerilities and superstitions. As regards God, they are instructed to believe in relics and old bones; as regards man, they are instructed to believe in dress, in mannerisms, and coquetry. Their love of appreciation, after being enormously developed, is bottled up and tied down until a husband is found to draw the cork. What else, then, can we look for but an explosion of frivolity? Can we expect that such a provision of coquettishness will be reserved for the husband’s exclusive use? He will be tired of it in three months—unless it is tired of him before; and then the pent-up waters will forsake their narrow bed and overflow the country far and wide.”

No wonder Napoléon remarked that “Love does more harm than good.” And right he was, most emphatically, for the only kind of Love possible in France does infinite harm. It poisons life and literature alike.

We can now understand the fierceness of Dumas’s attacks on mariages de convenance: “The manifest deterioration of the race touches him; it does not touch us. Nor do we at all realise the next to impossibility of a man ever marrying for love in France. There are those who have tried to do it, but they can never get on in life; they are reputed of ‘bad example’” (St. James’s Gazette).

And now we come upon a paradox which has puzzled a great many thinkers. The Countess von Bothmer, while deploring the absence of Love in French courtship, endeavours to show that domestic happiness and conjugal affection are, nevertheless, not 271rare in France. French husbands “are ordinarily with their wives, accompany them wherever they can, and share their friendships and distractions.” Mr. Hamerton likewise bears witness that French girls “become excellent wives, faithful, orderly, dutiful, contented, and economical. They all either love their husbands, or conduct themselves as if they did so.” He says the notion fostered by novels “that Frenchmen are always occupied in making love to their neighbours’ wives” is nonsense; that there is no more adultery than elsewhere. “There exists in foreign countries, and especially in England, a belief that Frenchwomen are very generally adulteresses. The origin of the belief is this,— the manner in which marriages are generally managed in France leaves no room for interesting love-stories. Novelists and dramatists must find love-stories somewhere, and so they have to seek for them in illicit intrigues.”

This is all very ingenious, but the argument is not conclusive. Even granted for a moment that Mr. Hamerton is right in his defence of French conjugal life, is it not a more than sufficient condemnation of the French system of “courtship” that one-half of the nation are prevented from reading its literature because it is so foul and filthy—because Love has been made synonymous with adultery?

But Mr. Hamerton’s assertion loses its probability when viewed in the light of the following considerations. He himself admits that the French are anxious to read about Love, that the novelists and dramatists must find stories of Love somewhere—mind you, not of conjugal but of Romantic Love—and the Paris Figaro not long ago denounced the French novelists of the period for devoting their stories to Love almost exclusively, whereas Balzac, Dumas, Thackeray, and Scott, at least introduced various other matters of interest. Now French novels have the largest editions of any books published; and if so vast an interest is displayed by the French in reading about Love, is it likely that their interest is purely literary? Certainly not. They will seek it in real life. And in real life it can only be found in one sphere, which elsewhere is protected against such invasions, by the young being allowed to meet one another. “It is to be feared that they who marry where they do not love, will love where they do not marry.’”marry.’” In this respect human nature is the same the world over. The testimony of scores of unprejudiced authors on this head cannot be ignored.

This, however, is only one of the evils following from the French suppression of pre-matrimonial Love. The parents may or 272may not suffer through conjugal jealousy and infidelity, one thing is certain,—that the children suffer from it, in body and mind. It is leading to the depopulation of France. It was M. Jules Rochard who called attention to the fact that “France, which two centuries ago included one-third of the total population of Europe, now contains but one-tenth”; although the death-rate is smaller in France than in most European countries, and although there has been a gradual increase of wealth throughout the country.

That the suppression of Romantic Love and of all opportunities for courtship is the principal cause of the decline of France, is apparent from the fact that the countries in which population increases most rapidly—as America and Great Britain—are those in which Romantic Love is the chief motive to marriage.

Romantic Love goes by complementary qualities, the defects of the parents neutralising one another in the offspring; so that the children who are the issue of a love-match are commonly more beautiful than their parents. In France there is no selection whatever, except with reference to money and rank. Not even Health is considered, the sine qua non of Love as well as Beauty. Hence the absence of Love in France has led to the almost absolute absence of beauty. And it would be nothing short of a miracle if the offspring of a young maiden, still in her teens, and an old broken-down sinner, chosen by her parents for his wealth or social position, were any different from the puny, hairy men and coarse-featured, vulgar women that make up the bulk of the French nation.

In Paris one does occasionally see a fine figure and a rather pretty face, but they almost always belong to the lower classes. As the lower classes allow the young considerable freedom, it would seem as if beauty in this class ought to be as common an article as in England or the United States. But the incapacity of the young women for feeling and reciprocating Love neutralises these opportunities. For of what use is it for a man to feel Love if the woman invariably bases her choice on money? This matter is most clearly brought out by Mr. Hamerton:—

“Amongst the lower classes, the peasantry and workmen ... girls have as much freedom as they have in England. The great institution of the parlement gives them ample opportunities for becoming acquainted with their lovers; indeed the acquaintance, in many cases, goes further than is altogether desirable. A peasant girl requires no parental help in looking after her own interests. She admits a lover to the happy state of parlement, which means that he has a right to talk with her when they 273meet, and to call upon her, dance with her, etc. The lover is always eager to fix the wedding-day, the girl is not so eager. She keeps him on indefinitely until a richer one appears, on which No. 1 has the mortification of seeing himself excluded from parlement, whilst another takes his place. In this way a clever girl will go on for several years, amusing herself by torturing amorous swains, until at length a sufficiently big fish nibbles at the bait, when she hooks him at once, and takes good care that he shall not escape. Nothing can be more pathetically ludicrous than the condition of a young peasant who is really in love, especially if he is able to write, for then he pours forth his feelings in innumerable letters full of tenderness and complaint. On her part the girl does not answer the letters, and has not the slightest pity for the unhappy victim of her charms. After seeing a good deal of such love-affairs I have come to the conclusion that in humble life young men do really very often feel

“‘The hope, the fear, the jealous care,
The exalted portion of the pain
And power of love.’”love.’”

And they ‘wear the chain’ too. Young women, on the other hand, seem only to amuse themselves with all this simple-hearted devotion—

“‘And mammon wins his way where seraphs might despair.’”

Schopenhauer pointed out that the French lack the Gefühl für das Innige—the tenderness and emotional depth which characterise the Germans and Italians. It is this that accounts for the inability of the French to appreciate Love, and for the fact that even vice is coarser in France than elsewhere, as remarked by Mr. Lecky, who, in his History of European Morals, contrasts “the coarse, cynical, ostentatious sensuality, which forms the most repulsive feature of the French character,” with “the dreamy, languid, and æsthetical sensuality of the Spaniard or Italian.” And it remained for the French to attempt to deify vice as in that over-rated and repulsive story of Manon Lescaut.

Mme. de Staël, who suffered so much from the provincialism (alias patriotism) of her countrymen, saw clearly the immorality of the French system of marrying girls without consulting their choice. Brandes relates the following anecdote of her: “One day, speaking of the unnaturalness of marriages arranged by the parents, as distinguished from those in which the young girls choose for themselves, she exclaimed, ‘I would compel my daughter to marry the man of her choice!’”

274An attempt is being made at present in Paris to introduce the Anglo-American feminine spirit into society. The word flirter has been adopted, and the thing itself experimented with. But the French girl does not know how to draw the line between coquetry and flirtation. She needs a better education before she can flirt properly. This education the Government is trying to give her at present; but it meets with stubborn resistance from the priests, and from the old notion that intellectual culture is fatal to feminine charms and the capacity for affection. If this book should accomplish nothing else than prove that without intellect there can be no deep Love, it will not have been written in vain.


In Italy, in the sixteenth century, women were kept in as strict seclusion as to-day in France; and with the same results,—conjugal infidelity and a great lack of Personal Beauty, as noted by Montaigne, who remarks at the same time that it was regarded as something quite extraordinary if a young lady was seen in public.

Byron wrote in 1817 that “Jealousy is not the order of the day in Venice”; and that the Italians “marry for their parents, and love for themselves.”

In Crowe and Cavalcaselle’s Life and Times of Titian we read that “Though chroniclers have left us to guess what the state of society may have been in Venice at the close of the fifteenth century, they give us reason to believe that it was deeply influenced by Oriental habit. The separation of men from women in churches, the long seclusion of unmarried females in convents or in the privacy of palaces, were but the precursors to marriages in which husbands were first allowed to see their wives as they came in state to dance round the wedding supper-table.”

But even at this early period when women were still treated as babies unable to take care of themselves, we find at least one trace of the Gallantry which is so essential an element in modern love. It was customary for the men, on festive occasions, to stand behind their wives’ chairs at table and serve them.

Extremely ungallant, on the other hand, are some of the Italian proverbs about women of this and other periods. “A woman is like a horse-chestnut—beautiful outside, worthless inside.” “Two women and a goose make a market.” “Married man—bird in cage.” “In buying a horse and taking a wife shut your eyes and commend your soul to heaven.”

275Her exuberant health makes an Italian woman naturally prone to Love; but though she falls in love most readily, the passion is apt to be fugitive and superficial. She rarely loves with the passionate ardour of a Spanish woman. “What we notice especially in Italian women,” says Schweiger-Lerchenfeld, “is the absence of that alternation between those extremes of temperament which are so conspicuous in other Southern women. Energy is almost as unknown to her as the moral power of resignation and sacrifice. Hence it can hardly surprise us that Italian history records so few heroic women or pious female martyrs. Italy has produced neither a Jeanne d’Arc nor an Elizabeth of Thuringia; the crowns were too oppressive to be borne by these beauties, and life too enchanting for them to invite to tragic self-sacrifice.”

Probably the most realistic, and certainly the most fascinating, account of Italian love-making ever given is to be found in Mr. Howells’s Venetian Life. As it is too long to quote, I will attempt to condense it, though at some sacrifice of that literary “bouquet,” as an epicure would say, which constitutes the unique charm of Mr. Howells’s style:—

"The Venetians have had a practical and strictly businesslike way of arranging marriages from the earliest times. The shrewdest provision has always been made for the dower and for the good of the state; private and public interest being consulted, the small matters of affection have been left to the chances of association.

"Herodotus relates that the Assyrian Veneti sold their daughters at auction to the highest bidder; and the fair being thus comfortably placed in life, the hard-favoured were given to whomsoever would take them, with such dower as might be considered a reasonable compensation. The auction was discontinued in Christian times, but marriage contracts still partook of the form of a public and half-mercantile transaction.

“These passionate, headlong Italians look well to the main chance before they leap into matrimony, and you may be sure Todaro knows, in black and white, what the Biondina has to her fortune before he weds her.”

“With the nobility and with the richest commoners marriage is still greatly a matter of contract, and is arranged without much reference to the principals, though it is now scarcely probable in any case that they have not seen each other. But with all other classes, except the poorest, who cannot or will not seclude the youth of either sex from each other, and with whom, consequently, romantic contrivance and subterfuge would be superfluous, love is made to-day in Venice as in the Capa y espada comedies of the 276Spaniards, and the business is carried on with all the cumbrous machinery of confidants, billets-doux, and stolen interviews.”

The “operatic method of courtship” thence resulting commonly assumes this form:—

“They follow that beautiful blonde, who, marching demurely in front of the gray-moustached papa and the fat mamma, after the fashion in Venice, is electrically conscious of pursuit. They follow during the whole evening, and, at a distance, softly follow her home, where the burning Todaro photographs the number of the house upon the sensitised tablets of his soul. This is the first step in love: he has seen his adored one, and she knows that he loves her with an inextinguishable ardour.”

The next step consists in his frequenting the caffé, where she goes with her parents, and feasting his eyes on her beauty. After some time he may possibly get a chance to speak a few words to her under her balcony; or, what is more likely, he will bribe her servant-maid to bring her a love-letter. Or else he goes to church to admire her at a convenient distance.

“It must be confessed that if the Biondina is not pleased with his looks, his devotion must assume the character of an intolerable bore to her; and that to see him everywhere at her heels—to behold him leaning against the pillar near which she kneels at church, the head of his stick in his mouth, and his attitude carefully taken with a view to captivation—to be always in deadly fear lest she shall meet him in promenade, or turning round at the caffé encounter his pleading gaze—that all this must drive the Biondina to a state bordering upon blasphemy and finger-nails. Ma, come si fa? Ci vuol pazienza? This is the sole course open to ingenuous youth in Venice, where confessed and unashamed acquaintance between young people is extremely difficult; and so this blind pursuit must go on till the Biondina’s inclinations are at last laboriously ascertained.” Then follow the inquiries as to her dowry, after which nothing remains but “to demand her in marriage of her father, and after that to make her acquaintance.”

Topsy-turvy as this last arrangement may seem to Anglo-American notions, here at least Love has some chance to bring about real Sexual Selection, for a Southerner’s passions are momentarily inflamed, and the Italian Cupid needs but a moment to fix his choice. And what distinguishes Italy still more favourably from France is that, whereas the French consider Love ridiculous, and have made the most ingenious contrivances for annihilating it, the Italians worship it, revel in it, and are inclined rather to make too many concessions to it than to ignore it.

277The result is patent to all eyes. For every attractive Frenchwoman there are to-day a hundred beautiful Italians. And were Anglo-American methods of courtship introduced in Italy, beauty would again be doubled in amount. It must not be forgotten, however, that Love, as a beautifier of mankind, has in Italy very strong allies in the balmy air and sunshine, tempting to constant outdoor life, which mellows the complexion, brightens the eyes, and fills out the figure to those full yet elegant proportions which instantaneously arouse the romantic passion.


Spanish veins contain more Oriental blood than those of any other European nation; and to the present day Eastern methods of treating women cast their shadow on Spanish life. But the shadow is so light, and so much mitigated by the rosy hue of romance, that the “local colour” of Love in Spain presents an unusually fascinating spectacle, which countless literary artists have attempted to depict.

During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries the Oriental shadow was much darker, and kept the women in extreme subjection and ignorance. “Their life,” says Professor Scherr, speaking even of the queens, “passed away in a luxurious tedium which dulled the sentiments to the point of idiocy. They were only crowned slaves. As an instance of their absolute deprivation of liberty may be cited the case of Elizabeth, wife of Philip II., who, when in 1565 she went to Bayonne to meet her mother, had to wait three days before the gates of Burgos before it was possible to ascertain the king’s decision whether the queen should pass through the city or around it.”

“Women of rank,” he continues, "lived in a seclusion bordering on that of a convent, if not surpassing it. For nuns were at least allowed to speak to male visitors behind bars, whereas married women were strictly forbidden to receive the visit of a man, except with the special permission of the husband. And only during the first year of their wedded life were they allowed to frequent public drives in open carriages by the side of their husband; subsequently they were only allowed to go out in closed carriages. Of cosy family life not a trace.... Even the table did not unite the husband and wife; the master took his meal alone, while his wife and children sat respectfully on the floor on carpets, with their legs crossed in Oriental fashion.

“The poor women, excluded from every refined social diversion, 278were confined to manual work, gossip with their duennas, mechanical praying, playing with their rosaries, and—intriguing. For the greater the subjection of women, the more does their cunning grow, the more passionate becomes their desire to avenge themselves on their tyrants. The Spaniards found this out to their cost. The most inexorable spirit of revenge, all the parade of ‘Spanish honour,’ bordering in its excess on clownishness, could not prevent the Spanish dames from loving and being loved.”

In course of time this Oriental despotism, with its fatal consequences to conjugal fidelity—as in France—has been greatly mitigated in Spain. In Pepys’s Diary, 1667, we read of an informant who told the writer “of their wooing [in Spain] by serenades at the window, and that their friends do always make the match; but yet they have opportunities to meet at masse at church, and there they make love.”

In an interesting book on Spain, written almost two and a quarter centuries after Pepys’s Diary—Mr. Lathrop’s Spanish Vistas—we still read concerning this ecclesiastic Love-making, in the Seville Cathedral: “Every door was guarded by a squad of the decrepit army, so that entrance there became a horror. These sanctuary beggars serve a double purpose, however. The black-garbed Sevillan ladies, who are perpetually stealing in and out noiselessly under cover of their archly-draped lace veils—losing themselves in the dark, incense-laden interior, or emerging from confession into the daylight glare again—are careful to drop some slight conscience-money into the palms that wait. Occasionally, by pre-arrangement, one of these beggars will convey into the hand that passes him a silver piece, a tightly-folded note from some clandestine lover. It is a convenient underground mail, and I am afraid the venerable church innocently shelters a good many little transactions of this kind.”

How greatly the facilities for falling in love and for making love have been increased in modern Spain is vividly brought out in the following citation from Schweiger-Lerchenfeld regarding the scenes to be witnessed every evening on the crowded promenade or Rambla at Barcelona:—

“Are these elegantly-attired ramblers one and all suitors, since they put no limit nor restraint on their whispered flatteries? No, that is simply the custom in Barcelona. The women and girls are beautiful, and though they are well aware of it, they nevertheless allow their charms to be whispered in their ears hundreds of times every evening—a freedom of intercourse which is only possible on Spanish soil.... And thus one of these adored 279beauties walks up and down in the glare of the lamps, and sweet music is wafted to her ears: ‘Your beauty dazzles me,’ whispers one voice; and another, ‘Happiness and anguish your eyes are burning into my soul.’ One compliments the chosen one on her hair, another on her figure, a third on her graceful gait. Young adorers feel a thrill running down their whole body if her mantilla only touches them; while mature lovers are contented with nothing less than a pressure of the hand. It is a picture that is possible, conceivable only in Spain.”

The same writer quotes some specimens of Spanish Love-songs, one of which may be transferred to this page—

“Échame, niña bonita,
Lágrimas en tu pañuelo,
Y los llevaré a Madrid
Que los engarce un platero.”

“Show me, my little charmer, the tear in your handkerchief; to Madrid will I take it and have it set by a jeweller.”

What a contrast between this modern complimentary and poetic form of Gallantry and the form prevalent in the good old times when lovers endeavoured to win a maiden’s favour by flagellating themselves under her window until the blood ran down their backs; and when, as Scherr adds, “it was regarded as the surest sign of supreme gallantry if some of the blood bespattered the clothes of the beauty to whom this crazy act of devotion was addressed!”

Nevertheless, the Spanish still have much to learn from England and America regarding the proper methods of Courtship; for, according to a writer in Macmillan’s Magazine (1874), the unmarried maiden of the higher classes, “like her humbler sister, can never have the privilege of seeing her lover in private, and very rarely, indeed, if ever, is he admitted into the sala where she is sitting. He may contrive to get a few minutes’ chat with her through the barred windows of her sala; but when a Spaniard leads his wife from the altar, he knows no more of her character, attainments, and disposition than does the parish priest who married them, and perhaps not so much.”

In one respect Spanish lovers have a great advantage over their unfortunate colleagues in France. There marriage is impossible without parental consent, whereas in Spain a law exists concerning which the writer just quoted says:—

“Should a Spanish lad and lassie become attached to one another, and the parents absolutely forbid the match, and refuse their daughter liberty and permission to marry, the lover has his 280remedy at law. He has but to make a statement of the facts on paper, and deposit it, signed and attested, with the alcalde or mayor of the township in which the lady’s parents dwell. The alcalde then makes an order, giving the young man the right of free entry into the house in question, within a certain number of days, for the purpose of wooing and carrying off his idol. The parents dare not interfere with the office of the alcalde, and the lady is taken to her lover’s arms. From that moment he, and he alone, is bound to provide for her: by his own act and deed she has become his property.” Should he prove false “the law comes upon him with all its force, and he is bound to maintain her, in every way, as a wife, under pain of punishment.”

Thus a Spanish girl is protected against perfidious lovers as well as is an English and American girl through the possibility of suing for breach of promise. If the short stories told in Don Quixote may be taken as examples, faithless lovers were very common in Spain at that time; which, doubtless, accounts for the origin of this law. The girls on their part erred by yielding too easily to the promises of the men; though they are partially excused by the great strength of their passions.

In his work on Suicide, Professor Morselli has statistics showing that more women take their life in Spain than in any other country; and he attributes this to the force of their passions, which is greater than in Italy, where the number of female suicides is considerably lower.

Thus Love has a more favourable ground in Spain than either in Italy or in France, notwithstanding certain restrictions. And the result shows itself in this, that all tourists unite in singing the praises of Spanish Beauty. Spain, indeed, unites in itself all the conditions favourable to Beauty: a climate tempting to outdoor life; a considerable amount of intellectual culture and æsthetic refinement; a mixture of nationalities, fusing ethnic peculiarities into a harmonious whole; and Love, which fuses individual complementary qualities into a harmonious ensemble of beautiful features, graceful figure, amiable disposition, and refined manners.


When Tacitus penned his famous certificate of good moral character for the Germans of his time, he little suspected how many thousand times it would be quoted by the grateful and proud descendants of those early Teutons, and pinned to the lapels of their coats as a sort of prize medal in the competition for 281ancestral virtue. The more candid historians, however, admit that the Roman historian somewhat overdrew his picture in order to teach his own profligate countrymen a sort of Sunday school lesson, by the vivid contrast presented by these inhabitants of the northern virgin forests.

There is no question that women were held in considerable honour among these early Germans. Many of them served as priestesses, and adultery was punished with death. Polygamy existed only among the chiefs, and even among them it was not common. Yet the men did not treat the women as their equals. “They had more duties than privileges,” says Schweiger-Lerchenfeld. Their husbands were addicted to excessive drinking or gambling when not engaged in war or the chase, leaving the hard domestic and field labour to the women: and all this cannot have tended to refine the women.

“Marriage in the old Germanic times,” says Ploss, “was mostly an affair of expediency.... In the choice of a wife beauty was of less moment than property and good social antecedents. Love before the betrothal rarely occurs.”

Gustav Freytag, in his Pictures of German Life, during the fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth centuries, remarks: “Marriage was considered by our ancestors less as a union of two lovers than as an institution replete with duties and rights, not only of married people towards one another, but also towards their relatives, as a bond uniting two corporate bodies.... Therefore in the olden time the choice of husband and wife was always an affair of importance to the relatives on both sides, so that a German wooing from the oldest times, even until the last century, had the appearance of a business transaction, which was carried out with great regard to suitability.”

And a business transaction it is, unfortunately, to the present day, in the vast majority of cases. A certain amount of dower or property on the bride’s part is the first and most essential requisite. Second in importance is the desirability of not descending even a step in the social ladder, though an extra lump of gold commonly suffices to pull down social Pride to a lower level. Health, temper, Personal Beauty, and mutual suitability—these are the trifles which, other things being equal, come in as a third consideration. And thus is the order of Sexual Selection, as ordained by Love, commonly reversed.

What would an English or American youth of twenty-two say to his father if the latter should undertake to write to all his relatives, asking them to look about for an eligible partner for his 282son, and capping the climax by starting himself on a trip in search of a bride for his son? Would he accept without a murmur the girl thus found, and would an English or American girl thus allow herself to be given away like a cat in a bag, not knowing whitherwhither she was going? I have seen several such cases with my own eyes. One of them was most pathetic. For when the blooming bride, a sweet and refined girl, was introduced to the bridegroom selected for her by her parents—a repulsive-looking brute, twice her age—she conceived a perfect loathing for him, and almost wept out her eyes before the wedding-day. But the man was rich, and that settled the matter.

What aggravated this outrage was the fact that the bride’s father also was rich. And herein, in fact, lies the canker of the German system. Money is such a comfortable thing to have that it is useless to preach against it. There are money-marriages enough in England and America. But in these countries it is generally considered sufficient if one party has the money. Not so in Germany. It is not so much the comfort ensured by a certain amount of money that is aimed at as the superior social influence ensured by a large amount of wealth. Hence the rich marry the rich, regardless of other consequences, and poor Cupid is left shivering in the cold. So that, after all, the silly pride of social position is a greater enemy of Romantic Love than money.

And the consequences of such a matrimonial system? They have been most eloquently set forth by the blind old philosopher, Dr. Dühring:—

“The amalgamation of fortunes, and the resulting enervating luxury of living, are the ruling matrimonial motives; and the want of mutual adaptation of the individuals becomes the cause of the degenerate appearance of the offspring. The loathsome products of such marriages then walk about as ugly embodiments and witnesses of such a degraded system of legalised prostitution (Kuppelwirthschaft). They bear the stamp of incongruity on body and mind; for their appearance shows them to be the offspring of disharmonious parents, blindly associated, or even, in many cases, of parents who themselves are already products of this new matrimonial method. This degeneracy necessarily continues from one generation to another, and in this manner maltreated Nature avenges herself by leading to personal decrepitude and the formation of a new sort of idiocy.”

“It is true,” he adds, “that love is not an infallible sign of mutual suitability; but when it is absent, or even replaced by 283aversion, it is certain that it is useless to expect a specially harmonious composition of the offspring.”

Is this one of the reasons why Personal Beauty is so rare, comparatively, in Germany?

But Individual Preference is not the only element of Love which thus suffers in Germany through false Pride and parental tyranny. Gallantry is another factor which needs mending. German women are sweet and amiable. In fact, they are too sweet and good-natured. They have spoiled the men, who in consequence are excessively selfish in their relations to women—the most selfish men in the world, outside of Turkey or China. True, the German officer in a ballroom seems to be the very essence of officious Gallantry. But his motives are too transparently Ovidian: it is not true Anglo-American politeness of the heart that inspires his conduct. He is either after forbidden sweets or parading his uniform and his vanity. Take the same man and watch him at home. His wife has to get him his chair, move it up to the fire, bring him his slippers, put the coffee in his hand, and do errands for him. When he goes out she puts on his overcoat and buttons it up carefully for him as if he were a helpless big baby. This would be all very well—for why should not women be gallant too?—if he would only retaliate. But he never dreams of it. Even if it comes to a task which calls for masculine muscular power—the carrying of bundles, etc.—he makes the wife do it. He is, in fact, matrimonially considered, not only a big baby but also a big brute, the very incarnation of masculine selfishness.

In former centuries it was customary in Germany, as it is now with us, for women to bow first to men. The modern German has reversed this. Woman has no right to bow until her lord and superior has invited her to do so by doffing his hat.

The German girl, says the Countess von Bothmer in German Home Life, “is taught that to be womanly she must be helpless, to be feminine she must be feeble, to endear herself she must be dependent, to charm she must cling.” “To keep carefully to the sheep-walk, to applaud in concert and condemn in chorus, is the only behaviour that can be tolerated.” “They have one bugbear and one object of idolatry, these monotonous ladies,—a fetish which they worship under the name of Mode; a monster between public opinion and Mrs. Grundy. To say a thing is not ‘Mode’ here, is to condemn it as if by all the laws of Media and Persia. It is not her centre [sic], but the system of her social education, that renders the German woman so hopelessly provincial.”

284Of course it is the men who are responsible for this social education and this feminine ideal of absolute dependence. It suits their selfish pleasure to be worshipped and obeyed by the women without any efforts at gallant retaliation on their part.

A native writer tells us that “a true German philosophises occasionally while he embraces his sweetheart; while kissing even, theories will sprout in his mind.”

No wonder, therefore, that one of the German metaphysicians, Fichte, should have made a sophistic attempt to reduce masculine selfishness to a system. He proves to his own satisfaction that it is woman’s duty to sacrifice herself in man’s behalf; while man, on his part, has no such obligations. His reasoning is too elaborate to quote in full; but is too amusingly naïve to be omitted, so I will translate the summary of it given by Kuno Fischer in his History of Philosophy:—

“What woman’s natural instincts demand is self-abandonment to a man; she desires this abandonment not for her own sake, but for the man’s sake; she gives herself to him, for him. Now abandoning oneself for another is self-sacrifice, and self-sacrifice from an instinctive impulse is Love. Therefore love is a kind of instinctive impulse which the sexual instinct in woman necessarily and involuntarily assumes. She feels the necessity of loving.... This impulse is peculiar to woman alone; woman alone loves [!!!]; only through woman does love appear among mankind.... The woman’s life should disappear in the man’s without a remnant, and it is this relation that is so beautifully and correctly indicated in the fact that the wife no longer uses her own name, but that of her husband [!].”

The latest (and it is to be hoped the last) of the German metaphysicians, the pessimist Hartmann, goes even a step beyond Fichte in arrogating for man special privileges in Love. If Fichte makes Love synonymous with Self-Sacrifice—feminine, mind you, not masculine—Hartmann tries to prove that man may love as often as he pleases, but woman only once. And what aggravates the offence, he does it in such a poetic manner. “Though it may be doubtful,” he says, “whether a man can truly love two women at the same time, it is beyond all doubt that he can love several in succession with all the depth of his heart; and the assertion that there is only one true love is an unwarranted generalisation to all mankind of a maxim which is true of woman alone.... Woman can learn but once by experience what love is, and it is painful for the lover not to be the one who teaches her first. True it is that a tree nipped by a spring frost brings forth a second crown of 285leaves, but so rich and luxuriant as the first it will not be; thus does a maiden-heart produce a second bloom, if the first had to wither before maturity, but its full and complete floral glory is unfolded only where love, aroused for the first time, passes in full vigour through all its phases.”

Yet it is not ungallant selfishness alone that prompts German men to bring up their women so that they shall be mere playthings at first and drudges after marriage, never real soul-mates. They have the same old stupid continental fear that culture of the intellect weakens the feelings. This fear is based on slovenly reasoning—on the inference that because a few blue-stockings have at all ages made themselves ridiculous by assuming masculine attributes and parading their lack of tenderness and feminine delicacy, therefore intellectual training must be fatal to feminine charms. As if there were not plenty of masculine blue-stockings, or pedants, without disproving the fact that the men of the greatest intellectual power—men of genius—are also the most emotional and refined of all men; or the fact proved by this whole monograph, that Love and general emotional refinement grow with the general intellectual culture of women.

A typical illustration of German feeling on the subject of female education is to be found in Schweiger-Lerchenfeld’s Frauenleben der Erde, p. 530. Referring to the attempts now being made in France to give young girls a rational education, he quotes the opinion of a French legislator that a girl thus brought up would not love less deeply than heretofore, while she would love more intelligently; and then comments as follows: “How far this anticipation may be realised cannot be decided now or in the near future. At any rate we must leave to the French themselves the task of getting along with this classical female generation of the future. Certain it is that their experiment will hardly be imitated, and that the old Romans and Greeks may eventually become more dangerous to masculine supremacy (Autorität) than the pilgrimage stories of Lourdes.”

It is time for German woman to rise in revolt against this mediæval masculine selfishness. Not in active revolt, for a warlike woman is an abomination. But in passive revolt. Let them cease to spoil the men, and these bears will become more gallant. Germany is later in almost every phase of literary and social culture than England. It was not an accident that Shakspere came before Heine, the English before the German poet of Love; for Love is much less advanced in Germany than in England. It has not even passed the stage where a harsh sort of Coyness is still 286in place. German women want to learn the cunning to be strange, They are too deferential to the men, too easily won. They want to learn to indulge in harmless flirtation, and they want the education which will give them wit enough to flirt cleverly and make the men mellow.

It must be admitted, however, notwithstanding all these strictures, that there is much genuine Romantic Love in Germany, often differing in no wise from Anglo-American Love. At first sight it seems, indeed, as if chaperonage were as strict as in France; and no doubt many German girls are brought up on the spring-chicken-coyness system which regards every man as a hawk, and a signal for hiding away in a corner. But in general German girls have much more freedom than French girls. They may walk alone in the street in the daytime, go alone to the conservatory to attend a music-lesson. They meet the young men freely at evening parties, dances, musical entertainments, etc.; and the chaperons are not nearly so obtrusive and offensive as in France. The mothers appear to have taken to heart Jean Paul’s saying that “in the mother’s presence it is impossible to carry on an edifying conversation with the daughter.” So that there is plenty of opportunity for falling in love; and were it not for parental dictation, Love-matches would perhaps be as common as in England. But the girls lack independence of spirit to defy parental tyranny, which it is their moral duty to defy where money or rank are pitted against Love. For the health and happiness of the next generation are at stake.

German girls also enjoy an advantage over the French in having a literature which is pure and wholesome; and by reading about Romantic Love they train and deepen their feelings. It is often said that Heine’s influence has been chiefly negative. The truth is, Heine is the greatest emotional educator Germany has ever had. More young men and girls have wept over his pathetic lyrics than over any other poetry. His Buch der Lieder has done more to foster the growth of Romantic Love in Germany than all other collections of verse combined; not only by their own unadorned beauty, but through the soulful music wedded to these poems by Schubert, Schumann, and other magicians of the heart. The fact that the copyright on Heine’s works was soon to expire, and the country to be flooded with cheap editions, has long caused Master Cupid to rub his hands in gleeful anticipation of brisk business; and he has just given orders in his arsenal for one hundred thousand new golden arrows.

Heine indeed fathomed the secrets of Love much more deeply 287than Goethe. Whereas Heine sang of Love in every major and minor key, Goethe appears to have emphasised chiefly its transitoriness. “Love, as Goethe knows it,” says Professor Seeley, “is very tender, and has a lyric note as fresh as that of a song-bird. In his Autobiography one love-passage succeeds another, but each comes speedily to an end. How far in each case he was to blame is a matter of controversy. But he seems to betray a way of thinking about women such as might be natural to an Oriental sultan. ‘I was in that agreeable phase,’ he writes, ‘when a new passion had begun to spring up in me before the old one had quite disappeared.’ About Frederika he blames himself without reserve, and uses strong expressions of contrition; but he forgets the matter strangely soon. In his distress of mind he says he found riding, and especially skating, bring much relief. This reminds us of the famous letter to the Frau von Stein about coffee. He is always ready in a moment to shake off the deepest impressions and receive new ones; and he never looks back.... Goethe was a man of the old régime.... Had he entered into the reforming movement of his age, he might have striven to elevate women.... He certainly felt at times that all was not right in the status of women (‘woman’s fate is pitiable’), and how narrowly confined was their happiness (wie enggebunden ist des Weibes Glück) ... but he was not a reformer of institutions.”

A reformer of institutions, however, has apparently just arisen in Berlin. For we read that at a private female seminary the girls received the following subject for an essay: “There is from the Ideas of Plato, the atoms of Democritus, the Substance of Spinoza, the monads of Leibnitz, and from the subjective mental forms of Kant, the proof to bring, that the philosophy it never neglected has the to-be-calculated results of their hypotheses with their into-perception-falling effects to compare.”

Such subjects, so elegantly expressed, are no doubt eminently calculated to bring out the latent possibilities of feminine feeling and culture.

To close this chapter with a sweet, soothing concord—major triad, horns and ’cellos, smorzando—it must be admitted that the Germans have one ingredient of Romantic Love which all other nations must envy them. They have one more thrill in the drama of Love, in the ascending scale of familiarities, than we have, namely, the word Du, which is something very different from the stilted Thou, because still a part of everyday language. The second person singular is used in Germany towards pet animals and children, between students, intimate friends, relatives, and lovers. 288French “lovers” do not say tu to each other till after marriage, and even then they do not use it in public. But the German lover has the privilege, as soon as he is engaged, of exchanging the formal Sie for the affectionate Du; and the first Du that comes from her lips can hardly be less sweet than the first kiss.

There is a game of cards, popular among young folks in Germany, during which you have to address every one with Du whom you otherwise would have to call Sie, and vice versâ; cards have to be called spoons, white black, etc. If there is a young man in the company secretly in love with a young lady, you can always “spot” him by the eagerness he shows to speak to her, and the fact that he always gets the Du right and everything else wrong; while she, strange to say, appears to have never heard of such a thing at all as a personal pronoun.


Concerning Romantic Love in England and America, there is less to be said under the head of National Peculiarities than in case of the continental nations of Europe, for the simple reason that almost everything said in the pages on Modern Love refers especially to these two countries. Anglo-American Love is Romantic Love, pure and simple, as first depicted by Shakspere, and after him, with more or less accuracy, by a hundred other poets and novelists. There is no lack of colour in this Love—colour warm and glowing—but it is no longer a mere local colour, a national or provincial peculiarity, but Love in its essence, its cosmopolitan aspect; Love such as will in course of time prevail throughout the world, when the Anglisation of this planet—which is only a question of time—shall have been completed.

England has many a bright jewel in the crown of her achievements in behalf of civilisation, but the brightestbrightest of all is this, that she was the first country in the world—ancient, mediæval, or modern—that removed the bars from woman’s prison-windows, opened every door to Cupid, and made him thoroughly welcome and comfortable. And grateful Cupid has retaliated by setting up English manners and customs as a model which all other nations are slowly but surely copying. Eighteen million souls in the United States, or almost two persons in every five, are not of English origin; yet of these there are not one million who have not given up their old country methods of courtship as antiquated, and adopted the Anglo-American style. The Germans in America make love not after the German but after the English fashion. So 289do the French, though somewhat more reluctantly and tardily. In San Francisco and Chicago it is said that but one name in ten is of English origin; yet who ever heard of a San Franciscan or Chicagoan making love in foreign style? During the last hundred years the majority of the immigrants to America have come from non-English countries; yet, though the parents enter the country as adults with all their national traditions stamped on their memories, they invariably allow their sons and daughters to court and be courted in American style. And now that England is gradually extending her influence to every one of the five continents, Romantic Love—to whose sway, quite as much as to their outdoor active life, the English owe the fact that they are to-day the handsomest and most energetic race in the world—is also rapidly extending its sphere, and will finally oust the last vestiges of Oriental despotism, feminine suppression, and mediæval masculine barbarism.

For some centuries woman has been more favoured by law, and especially by national custom, in England than in any other European state. It is true that the Englishman who beats his wife is the most brutal savage on the face of the globe, but he is to be found only among the lowest classes. Nor has wife-selling ever been quite such a universal custom in England as foreigners imagine; although cases are on record as far back as 1302 and as late as 1884. In an article in All the Year Round (Dec. 20, 1884) more than twenty cases are enumerated with full details, the price of a wife varying from twenty-five guineas to a pint or half a pint of beer, or a penny and a dinner; and the Times of July 22, 1797, remarks sarcastically: “By some mistake or omission, in the report of the Smithfield market, we have not learned the average price of wives for the week. The increasing value of the fair sex is esteemed by several eminent writers the certain criterion of increasing civilisation. Smithfield has, on this ground, strong pretensions to refined improvement, as the price of wives has risen in that market from half a guinea to three guineas and a half.”

That these cases occurred only among the lowest classes is self-evident; yet even the lowest classes often resented the brutal transaction by pelting the offenders with stones and mud; whereas, as far as the women were concerned, the offence was mitigated by the fact that in all cases on record they appear to have been only too glad to be sold, so as to get rid of their tyrants.

It cannot be said that English women are all exempt from the hardest manual labour even to-day; but the tendency to relieve them of tasks unsuited to feminine muscular development has 290existed longer in England than elsewhere. The difference can be best observed with regard to agricultural labour. Any one who travels through Italy, Switzerland, France, or Germany in the autumn, gets the impression that most of the harvesting is done by the women; whereas in England, as shown by statistics, there are twenty-two men to every woman engaged as field-labourers. Yet even at that rate there are still 64,840 women in England engaged in agricultural labour unsuited to their sex.

On the other hand, English women, like American women, are manifesting a great disposition at present to try their hand or brain at almost every employment heretofore considered exclusively masculine. The census enumerates 349 different classes of work, and of these all but about 70 have been invaded by women; including 5 horse-dealers, 14 bicycle makers and dealers, 16 sculptors, 18 fence makers, 19 fossil diggers, etc.; whereas there are as yet no female pilots, dentists, police officers, shepherds, law students, architects, cab-drivers, commercial travellers, barristers, etc. [Full list in Pall Mall Gazette, Oct. 3, 1884.]

Inasmuch as there are almost a million more women than men in England, it is not surprising that women should thus seek to extend their sphere of usefulness. We live in an experimental epoch, when it is to be ascertained what is and what is not becoming to woman regarded as a labourer. It is therefore of the utmost importance that there should be some standard by which each employment is to be judged. And this standard, fortunately, is supplied by Romantic Love.

We have seen that the tendency of civilisation has been to differentiate the sexes more and more in appearance, character, and emotional susceptibilities, and that on this differentiation depends the existence and power of Love, because it individualises man and woman, and Love is the more intense the more it is individualised.

Hence every employment which tends to make woman masculine in appearance or habits is to be tabooed by her because antagonistic to Love. If she, nevertheless, persists in it, Love will have its revenge by eliminating her through Sexual Selection. No man will marry a masculine woman, or fall in love with her, so that her unnatural temperament will not be transmitted to the next generation and multiplied.

But what is to be accepted as the standard of femininity? The answer is given us by Nature. Throughout the animal world, with a few insignificant exceptions, the sexes are differentiated distinctly; and the female is the more tender and gentle of the two, the more devoted to domestic affection and the care and education 291of the young, the more amiable, and, above all, less aggressive, bold, and pugnacious than the male. “Any education which women undergo,” says the Spectator, “should be an education not for the militant life of war against evil but for the spiritual life inspiring a persuasive or patient charity.... Even in a field properly suited to them—the field of charitable institutions, of poor-law work, of educational representation—women no sooner take up the cudgels than they lose their appropriate influence, and are either unsexed or paralysed.”

According to Mr. Ruskin, “woman’s work is—(1) To please people. (2) To feed them in dainty ways. (3) To clothe them. (4) To keep them orderly. (5) To teach them.”

Statistics concerning the employments instinctively sought by the majority of women bear out Mr. Ruskin’s table quite well. Woman’s first duty is to please people by being beautiful, amiable, and fascinating in conversation and manners. No man would marry a woman unless she pleased him in one way or another; hence matrimony is the most successful female profession, which in England includes 4,437,962 women. But there are other ways in which women seek to please and prosper; hence there are in England 2368 actresses as against 2197 actors, and 11,376 women whose profession is music, as against 14,170 men.

Domestic service, which includes the “feeding in dainty ways” (though too often the “dainty” must be omitted), employs 1,230,406 women in England—about 30,000 fewer than industrial employments, which are somewhat more popular owing to the greater individual liberty they allow the employed. Yet domestic service is a much better preparation for married life than labour in a manufactory; so that, other things being equal, a labouring man looking for a wife would be apt to select one who has learned how to take care of his home. This thought ought to help to render domestic service more popular.

“To clothe them.” Dressmaking, staymaking (alas!), and millinery, employ 357,995 women in England.

“To keep them orderly.” Bathing and washing service employ 176,670 women; medicine and nursing, almost 50,000; missions, 1660.

“To teach them.” This, one of woman’s special vocations, eminently suited to her capacity, employs 123,995 females.

If I have failed in correctly interpreting Mr. Ruskin’s oracle, I stand subject to correction from that earnest labourer in the task of finding for woman her proper sphere—a work for which he has not yet received the recognition and thanks he deserves.

292That marriage, and not miscellaneous employment, is woman’s true destiny, is shown by the way in which Cupid influences statistics. Thus there are in England about 29,000 school-mistresses aged 15-20, and 28,500 aged 25-45; but the time from 20-25, the period of courtship and marriage, has only 21,000. In the case of dressmakers this fact is brought out still more strikingly: 15-20—84,000; 20-25—76,000; 25-45—129,000, in round numbers.

Although, therefore, as Emerson remarks, “the circumstances may be easily imagined in which woman may speak, vote, argue cases, legislate, and drive coaches, if only it comes by degrees,” facts show that there is more philosophy of the future in Mrs. Hawthorne’s remark that “Home, I think, is the great arena for women, and there, I am sure, she can wield a power which no king or emperor can cope with.”

A consideration of all the foregoing facts shows that Love may be safely accepted as a guiding-star in making a proper division of the world’s labour between men and women. And the reason why England and America have made so much more progress than other nations in ascertaining woman’s true capacity and sphere, is because she has been educated to a point where she can assert her independence, and where she can inspire as well as feel Love—thus making man humble, gallant, gentle, ready to make concessions and remove restrictions. It is in England and America alone that Love plays a more important rôle in marriage than money and social position; that the young are generally permitted to consult their own heart instead of parental command; and that the opportunities for courtship are so liberal and numerous that the young are enabled to fall in love with one another not only for dazzling qualities of Personal Beauty, viewed for a moment, but for traits of character, emotional refinement, and a cultured intellect.

These two nations alone have fully taken to heart and heeded Addison’s maxim that “Those marriages generally abound most with love and constancy that are preceded by a long courtship. The passion should strike root and gather strength before marriage be grafted on it. A long course of hopes and expectations fixes the idea in our minds, and habituates us to a fondness of the person beloved.”

There is, however, a difference between English and American Love which shows that we have learned Addison’s lesson even better than his own countrymen. As Mr. Robert Laird Collier remarks in English Home Life: “The American custom, among the mass of the people, of leaving young men and young women 293free to associate together and to keep company with each other for an indefinite length of time, without declaring their intentions, is almost unknown in any country of Europe. It is not long after a young man begins to show the daughter attentions before the father gives intimation that he wishes to know what it means, and either the youth declares his intentions or is notified to ‘cut sticks.’” “Courtships in England are short, and engagements are long.”

The London Standard doubtless exaggerates the difference between English and American girls and their attitude toward men in the course of an article, part of which may, nevertheless, be cited: “American girls offer a bright example to their English sisters of a happy, unclouded youth, and instances seem to be few of their abusing the liberty which is accorded to them. Perhaps their immunity from sentimental troubles arises from the fact that from earliest childhood they have been comrades of the other sex, and are therefore not disposed to turn a man into a demi-god because they only see one at rare intervals under the eagle eye of a mother or aunt. A great revolution in public opinion would be required ere English girls could be emancipated to the extent which prevails on the other side of the Atlantic, and even then it is doubtful whether the system would work well. The daughters of Albion, with but few exceptions, are single-hearted, earnest, and prone to look upon everything seriously. They often make the mistake of imagining that a man is in love because he is decently civil.”

Yet in German Home Life, written from an English point of view, we read that “There is no such thing as country life, as we understand it, in Germany; no cosy sociability, smiling snugness, pleasant bounties and hospitalities; and, above all, for the young folk, no freedom, flirtation, boatings, sketchings, high teas, scamperings, and merriments generally.” And again: “The sort of frank ‘flirtation,’ beginning openly in fun and ending in amusement, which is common amongst healthy, high-spirited boys and girls in England, and has no latent element of intrigue or vanity in it, but is born of exuberant animal spirits, youthful frolics, and healthy pastimes shared together, is forbidden to her” (the German girl).

The Standard itself apparently contradicts itself in another article on “Flirtation,” concerning which it says: “It is usually so innocent that it has become part of the education most of our young women pass through in their training for society. The British matron smiles contentedly when she sees that her daughter, 294just entered on her teens, exhibits a partiality for long walks and soft-toned confabulations with her cousin Fred or her brother’s favourite schoolmate. Three or four such juvenile attachments will do the girl no harm, if they are gently watched over by the parental eye. They serve to evolve the sexually social instincts in a gradual way. Through them the bashful maiden learns the nature of man in the same fashion as she takes lessons on the piano. In a word, she is ‘getting her hand in’ for the real game of matrimony that is to be played in a few years. Her youthful swains, of course, derive their own instructions from these innocent amours.... Chivalrous feeling is developed which it takes a deal of worldly wisdom to smother in after years.... When we observe this sentimentality in a boy, we derive great amusement from it, but it should raise the lad in our estimation. He has something in him to which ideals appeal, and his early-developed susceptibility will—to use a beautiful but forgotten word—engentle his nature.”

Perhaps the difference between English and American courtship and flirtation is not so great as often painted, and is becoming less every year, owing to the Americanisation of Europe.


It is in the United States of America that Plato’s ideal—so completely ignored by his countrymen—that young men and women should have ample opportunity to meet and get acquainted with one another before marriage, is most perfectly realised; as well as Addison’s supplementary advice that marriage should be preceded by a long courtship.

As boys and girls in America are commonly educated in the same schools, they are initiated at an early age into the sweets and sorrows of Calf-love Courtship, which has such a refining influence on the boys, and renders the girls more easy and natural in society when they get older; destroying among other puerilities that spring-chicken Coyness which makes many of their European sisters appear so silly. In the Western country-schools each girl has her “beau”—a boy of fourteen to seventeen—who brings her flowers, apples, or other presents, accompanies her home, and performs various other gallant services; nor has any harm ever been known to result from this juvenile Courtship—except an occasional elopement, in case of a prematurely frivolous couple, whom it was just as well to get rid of in that way as any other.

295When they get a little older, the young folks go to picnics without a chaperon, or they enjoy a drive or sleigh-ride, or go a-skating together; and after a party, dance, church fair, or other social gathering, where the elders commonly keep out of the way considerately, each young man accompanies a young lady home. Were you to insinuate to him the advisability of having a chaperon for the young lady, he would inform you pointedly that the young lady needed no protection inasmuch as he was a gentleman and not a tramp. It is this high sense of gentlemanly honour that protects women in America—a hundred times better than all the barred windows of the Orient and the dragons of Europe. Thanks to this feeling of modern chivalry, a young lady may travel all alone from New York to Chicago, or even to San Francisco, and, if her manners are modest and refined, she will not once be insulted by word or look, not even in passing through the roughest mining regions.

It is the consciousness of this chivalrous code of honour among the men that gives an American girl the frank and natural gaze which is one of her greatest charms, and that allows her to talk to a man just introduced as if they were old acquaintances. It is a knowledge of this gentlemanly code that makes parents feel perfectly at ease in leaving their daughter alone in the parlour all the evening with a visitor. In a word, American customs prove that if you treat a man as a gentleman he will behave like a gentleman.

Unquestionably there are girls who abuse the liberty allowed them, and encourage the men to encourage them in their freedom. Mr. Henry James has done a most valuable service in holding up the mirror to one of these girls, to serve as a warning to all Daisy Millers and semi-Daisy Millers. There are not a few of the latter kind, and I have myself met three full-fledged specimens of the real “Daisy” in Europe—girls who would not have hesitated to go out rowing on a lake at eleven o’clock in the evening with a man known to them only a few hours, or to go next day with him to visit an old tower, or to say that mamma “always makes a fuss if I introduce a gentleman. But I do introduce them—almost always. If I didn’t introduce my gentlemen friends to mother, I shouldn’t think I was natural.” It is this class of American tourists that have, unfortunately, given foreigners a caricatured notion of the American girl’s deportment.

Etiquette differs somewhat in various American cities and among the different classes. For instance, a young lady of the “upper circles,” who in Chicago is permitted to drive to the 296theatre in a carriage with a young man, is not allowed the same privilege in New York.

The New York Sun, an excellent authority in social matters, gives the whole philosophy of American Courtship and Love in answering a young man’s question as to whether, in asking a young lady of the highest circles to accompany him to a place of amusement, it is necessary to invite a chaperon at the same time. He is told that he must,—in those circles:—

"But these people are only a few among the many. What is called society more exclusively in New York comprises, all told, no more than a hundred or two hundred families. Outside of them, of course, there are larger circles, to which they give the law to a greater or less extent, but the whole number of men and women in this great town of a million and a half of inhabitants who pay obedience to that law is not over a few thousand.

"Nine girls out of ten in New York, with the full consent of their parents and as a matter of course, accompany young men to amusements without taking a chaperon along. They feel, and they are, entirely able to look out for themselves, and they would regard the whole fun as spoiled if a third person was on hand to watch over them. A large part of the audience at every theatre is always made up of young men and young women who have come out in pairs, and who have no thought of violating any rule of propriety. Very many of these girls would never be invited to the theatre by their male acquaintances if they were under the dominion of such a usage, for the men want them to themselves, else they would not ask their company, and besides do not feel able to pay for an extra ticket for an obnoxious third person; or, if they have a little more money to spare, they prefer to expend it at an ice-cream saloon after the play.

"Nor can it be said that the morals of these less formal young people are any worse than those of the more exacting society. Probably they are better on the average, and if the laws of Murray Hill prevailed throughout this city, the marriage-rate of New York would be likely to decline, for nothing discourages the passion of the average young man so much as his inability to meet the charmer except in the presence of a third person, who acts as a buffer between him and her. He feels that he has no show, and cannot appear to good advantage under the eyes of a cool critic, whereas if he could walk with the girl alone in the shades of the balmy evening, the courage to declare his affection would come to him.

“Therefore it is that engagements, even in the most fashionable 297society, are commonly made in the country during the summer, where the young people come together more freely and more constantly than in the town.”

The attempt made in certain corners of New York “Society” to introduce the foreign system of chaperonage is one of the most absurd and incongruous efforts at aping foreign fashions (which are on the decline even in Europe) ever witnessed in our midst. In Europe Chaperonage is in so far excusable, as it is a modified survival from barbarous times when men were mostly brutes, being drunk half the time and on military expeditions the other half. To treat American men, who are brought up as gentlemen, and commonly behave as such, as mediæval ruffians, is a gratuitous insult, which they ought to resent by avoiding those houses where Oriental experiments are being tried with the daughters. That would bring the “mammas” to reason very soon.

Yet it would seem as if New York “Society” had already had enough of the Oriental experiment; for the same high authority just quoted asserted last autumn that “A regular stampede in favour of the liberty of the young unmarried female is to be undertaken this winter by a number of ‘three-years-in-society’ veterans, supported and encouraged by nearly all this seasons débutantes. The first step is to be the establishment of a right on the part of young girls to form parties for theatre matinées and afternoon concerts, untrammelled by the presence of even a matron of their own age, and to which all ‘reliable and well-behaved young men are to be eligible.’... Rule No. 2 establishes beyond all dispute the often-mooted question whether the presence of a brother and sister in a party of young people going to any place of evening amusement throws a shield of respectability over the others of the party. Society long ago frowned upon this mongrel kind of chaperonage; but upon the principle that no young man would permit indiscretions or improprieties in a party of which his sister made one, the ‘veterans’ have voted in favour of it. The young man with a sister is therefore to enact the part of dragon on these occasions, and will be largely in demand. Failing a convenient sister, he may get a cousin, perhaps, to take her place.”

When it comes to the cousin, the reversion to Americanism, pure and simple, will be complete.

The gentlemanliness and Gallantry of Americans have at all times been acknowledged by observers of all nationalities; and it is indeed hardly too much to say that the average American is disposed to treat the whole female sex with a studied Gallantry, which in most European countries is reserved by men for the 298one girl with whom they happen to be in love. Even the irate and vituperative Anthony Trollope in his book on North America was obliged to admit that “It must be borne in mind that in that country material wellbeing and education are more extended than with us, and that therefore men there have learned to be chivalrous who with us have hardly progressed so far. The conduct of the men to the women throughout the states is always gracious.... But it seems to me that the women have not advanced as far as the men have done.... In America the spirit of chivalry has sunk deeper among men than it has among women.”

Anthony Trollope is by no means the only writer who has put his finger on the greatest foible of American women. No doubt they have, as a class, been spoiled by excessive masculine Gallantry. They do not, like the women of the Troubadour period, who were similarly spoilt, go quite so far as to send their knights on crusades and among lepers, but they often shroud themselves in an atmosphere of selfishness which is very unfeminine—to choose a complimentary adjective.

In the East, where there is already a large excess of women over men, this evil is less marked than in the West, where women are still in a minority. Thus the Denver Tribune, in an article on “The Impoliteness of Women,” remarks: “If there is any characteristic of Americans of which they are more proud than any other, it is the courtesy which the men who are natives of this country exhibit towards women, and the respect which the gentler sex receives in public. This is a trait of the American character of which Americans are justly proud, and in which they doubtless excel the people of any other country. But while this is true of the men, it is a matter to be deeply regretted that as much cannot be said of the women of this country.” After praising American women for their beauty, vivacity, high moral character, and other charms, the Tribune adds that they “seem very generally to be prompted in their conduct in public by a spirit of selfishness which very often finds expression in acts of positive rudeness.” They are ungrateful, it continues, to the men who give up their seats in street-cars; they compel men to step into a muddy street, instead of walking one behind the other at a crossing; and at such places as the stamp-window of the post-office they do not wait for their turn, but force the men to stand aside.

Another Western paper, the Chicago Tribune, complains that in that city there are 10,000 homes in which the daughters are ignorant of the simplest kind of household duties. It adds “That they do not desire to learn; that, having been brought up to do 299nothing except appear gracefully in society, their object in life is to marry husbands who can support them in idle luxury; that this state of things has substituted for marriages founded on love and respect a market in which the men have quoted money-values, and where a young man, however great his talents, has no chance of winning a wife from the charmed circle.”

So that the pendulum has apparently swung to the other extreme. In mediæval times the women were married for their money by the lazy, selfish men; now the women are lazy and selfish, while the men toil and are married for their money.

Yet there is much exaggeration in this view, which applies to only a small portion of the American people. We are far from the times when Miss Martineau complained of the feeble health of American women, and attributed it to the vacuity of their minds. Their health is still, on the average, inferior to that of English and German damsels, from whom they could also learn useful lessons in domestic matters; but intellectually the American woman has no equal in the world; while her sweetness, grace, and proverbial beauty combine into an ensemble which makes Cupid chuckle whenever he looks at a susceptible young man.

Goldsmith says somewhere that “the English love with violence, and expect violent love in return.” Certainly this holds true no less of the Americans. There are indeed several favourable circumstances which combine to make Romantic Love more ardent and more prevalent in the United States than in any other part of the world.

(1) The first is the intellectual culture of women just referred to, which they owe partly to the leisure they enjoy, partly to the fact that America has the best elementary schools in the world, so that their minds are aroused early from their dormant state. As Bishop Spalding remarks: “Woman here in the United States is more religious, more moral, and more intelligent than man; more intelligent in the sense of greater openness to ideas, greater flexibility of mind, and a wider acquaintance with literature.” Now the whole argument of this book tends to show that the capacity for feeling Romantic Love is dependent on intellectual culture, and increases with it; hence we might infer that there is more Love among the women of America than among those of any other country, even if this were not so patent from the greater number of Love-matches and various subtle signs known to international observers.

And as the sweetest pleasure and goad of Love lies in the conviction that it is really returned, man’s Love is thus doubled in ardour through woman’s responsive sympathy.

300(2) That Courtship proper is longer than in England, and engagement shorter, is a circumstance in favour of America. For nothing adds so much to the ardour of Love as the uncertainty which prevails during Courtship; whereas, after engagement, all these alternate hopes and doubts, confidences and jealousies, are quieted, and the ship approaches the still waters of the harbour of matrimony, which may be quite as deep but are less sublime and romantic than mid-ocean, with its possibilities of storm and shipwreck.

Moreover, the longer the time of tentative Courtship, the fewer are the chances of a mistake being made in selecting a sympathetic spouse.

In Germany an engagement is so conclusive an affair that it is announced in the papers, and cards are sent out as at a wedding. In America we meet with the other extreme, for it is not very unusual for a couple to be engaged some time before even the parents know it. Though there is such a thing as breach of promise suits against fickle young men, such engagements, if unsatisfactory to either side, are commonly broken off amicably. And, as one of Mr. Howells’s characters remarks in Indian Summer: “A broken engagement may be a bad thing in some cases, but I am inclined to think it is the very best thing that could happen in most cases where it happens. The evil is done long before; the broken engagement is merely sanative, and so far beneficent.”

Were engagements less readily dissolved, divorces would be more frequent even than they are now.

(3) Parental dictation is almost unknown in America; nowhere else have young men and women such absolute freedom to choose their own soul-mate. Hence Individual Preference, on which the ardour of Love depends in the highest degree, has full sway. The comparative absence of barriers of rank and social grade also makes it easier for a man to find and claim his real Juliet.

(4) This dependence of Love on Individualisation gives it another advantage in America. For nowhere is there so great a mixture of nationalities as here; and, away from home, a national peculiarity of feature or manners has a sort of individualising effect. Till we get used to such national peculiarities through their constant recurrence we are apt to judge almost every woman in a new city attractive. From this point of view Love may be defined as an instinctive longing to absorb national traits, and blend them all in the one cosmopolitan type of perfect Personal Beauty.

(5) There are beautiful women in all countries of the world, but no country has so many pretty girls as America. Money and 301rank find it hard to compete with such loveliness, hence Love has its own way. Here alone is it possible to find heiresses who have failed to get married through lack of Beauty. Personal Beauty is the great matchmaker in America; and thus it comes that Beauty is ever inherited and multiplied. For Love is the cause of Beauty as Beauty is the cause of Love.

One more characteristic of American Love remains to be noted—the most unique of all. American women are of all women in the world the most self-conscious, and have the keenest sense of humour. To these quick-witted damsels the sentimental sublimities of amorous Hyperbole, which may touch the heart of a naïve German or Italian girl, are apt to appear dangerously near the ludicrous; hence an American lover, if he is clever enough, deliberately covers the step which separates the sublime from the ridiculous. He gilds the gold of his compliments by using the form of playful exaggeration, which is the more easy to him because exaggeration is a national form of American humour. Mr. Howells’s heroes often make love in this fashion. The lover in The Lady of the Aroostook spices his flatteries with open burlesque, and succeeds admirably with this new Ars Amoris; and Colville in Indian Summer says to Imogene: “Come, I’ll go, of course, Imogene. A fancy-ball to please you is a very different thing from a fancy-ball in the abstract.”

“Oh, what nice things you say! Do you know, I always admired your compliments? I think they’re the most charming compliments in the world.”

“I don’t think they’re half so pretty as yours; but they’re more sincere.”

“No, honestly. They flatter, and at the same time they make fun of the flattery a little; they make a person feel that you like them even while you laugh at them.”

Perfect success in this form of flattery requires a talent for epigram. Not many, unfortunately, even in America, are poets and wits at the same time, like Mr. Howells; but there is an abundance of clever compliments nevertheless, and they are apt to assume the form of playful exaggeration.


A first hasty perusal of Schopenhauer’s brilliant essay on the “Metaphysics of Sexual Love” (in the second volume of his Welt als Wille und Vorstellung) will dispose most readers to 302agree with Dühring that the great pessimist “makes war on love.” But a more careful consideration of his profound thoughts shows that this is not the case, notwithstanding his habitual cynical tone.

In the first place, his theory can do no possible harm, because, as he himself admits, no lover will ever believe in it. Secondly, the gist of Schopenhauer’s theory is to show that a lover is the most noble and unselfish martyr in the world, because his usual attitude and fate is self-sacrifice.


The fundamental truth which Schopenhauer claims to have discovered is that love is an illusion—an instinctive belief on the lover’s part that his life’s happiness absolutely depends on his union with his beloved; whereas, in truth, a love-match commonly leads to lifelong conjugal misery. The lover, on reaching the goal so eagerly striven for, finds himself disappointed, and realises, to his consternation, that he has been the dupe of a blind instinct. Quien se casa por amores, ha de vivir con dolores, says a Spanish proverb (“to marry for love is to live in misery”): and this doctrine Schopenhauer re-echoes in a dozen different forms: “It is not only disappointed love-passion that occasionally has a tragic end; successful love likewise leads more commonly to misery than to happiness.” “Marriages based on love commonly end unhappily,” etc.


The reason of this curious fact is given in this sentence: “Love-marriages are formed in the interest of the species, not of the individuals. True, the parties concerned imagine that they are providing for their own happiness; but their real [unconscious] aim is something foreign to their own selves—namely, the procreation of an individual whose existence becomes possible only through their marriage.”

What urges a man on to this sacrifice of individual happiness to the welfare of his offspring is, as already intimated, a blind instinct known as Love. The universal Will (Schopenhauer’s fetish, or name for an impersonal deity underlying all phenomena) has implanted this blind instinct in man, for the same reason that it implants so many other instincts in various animals—to induce the parents to undergo any amount of labour, and even danger to 303life, for the sake of benefiting the offspring, and thus preserving the species. All these animals, like the lovers, are urged on blindly to sacrifice themselves in the belief that they are doing it for their own pleasure and benefit; whereas it is all in the interest of their offspring.

Why was the Will compelled to implant this blind instinct in man? Because man is so selfish wherever guided by reason, that it would have been unwise to entrust so important a matter as the welfare of coming generations to his intellect and prudence. Prudence would tell young people to choose not the most attractive and healthy partners, who would be able to transmit their excellence to the next generation, but the ones who are most liberally supplied with money and useful friends. That is, they would invariably look out first for “Number One,” indifferent to the deluge that might come after them. It was to neutralise this selfishness that the Will created the instinct of Love, which impels a man to marry not the woman who will make him the most happy and comfortable, but whose qualities, combined with his own, will be likely to produce a harmonious, well-made group of children.

Schopenhauer’s Will, it must be understood, is an æsthetic sort of a chap. He has his hobbies, and one of these hobbies is the desire to preserve the species in its typical purity and beauty. There are a thousand accidents of climate, vice, disease, etc., that tend to vitiate the type of each species; but Love strives for ever to restore a harmonious balance, by producing a mutual infatuation in two beings whose combined (and opposite) defects will neutralise one another in the offspring.


More definitely speaking, there are three ways in which the Will preserves the purity of its types—three ways in which it inspires the Love whose duty it is to achieve this result. Physical Beauty is the first thing desired by the lover, because that is the expression of typical perfection. Secondly, he may be influenced by such Psychic Traits as will blend well with his own; and thirdly, he will be attracted by perfections (or imperfections) which are the opposite of his own. These three sources must be considered briefly in detail.

(1) Physical Beauty.—The most important attribute of Beauty, in the lover’s eye, is Youth. Men prefer the age from eighteen to twenty-eight in a woman; while women give the 304preference to a man aged from thirty to thirty-five, which represents the acme of his virility. Youth without Beauty may still inspire Love; not so Beauty without Youth.

Health ranks next in importance. Acute disease is only a temporary disadvantage, whereas chronic disease repels the amorous affections, for the reason that it is likely to be transmitted to the next generation.

A fine framework or skeleton is the third desideratum. Besides age and disease, nothing proves so fatal to the chances of inspiring Love as deformity: “The most charming face does not atone for it; on the contrary, even the ugliest face is preferred if allied with a straight growth of the body.”

A certain plumpness or fulness of flesh is the next thing considered in sexual selection; for this is an indication of Health, and promises a sound progeny. Excessive leanness is repulsive, and so is excessive stoutness, which is often an indication of sterility. “A well-developed bust has a magic effect on a man.” What attracts women to men is especially muscular development, because that is a quality in which they are commonly deficient, and for which the children will accordingly have to rely on the father. Women may marry an ugly man, but never one who is unmanly.

Facial beauty ranks last in importance, according to Schopenhauer. Here too the skeleton is first considered in sexual selection. The mouth must be small, the chin projecting, “a slight curve of the nose, upwards or downwards, has decided the fate of innumerable girls; and justly, for the type of the species is at stake.” The eyes and the forehead, finally, are closely associated with intellectual qualities.

(2) Psychic Traits.—What charms women in men is preeminently courage and energy, besides frankness and amiability. “Stupidity is no disadvantage with women: indeed, it is more likely that superior intellectual power, and especially genius, as being an abnormal trait, may make an unfavourable impression on them. Hence we so often see an ugly, stupid, and coarse man preferred by women to a refined, clever, and amiable man.” When women claim to have fallen in love with a man’s intellect, it is either affectation or vanity. Wedlock is a union of hearts, not of heads; and its object is not entertaining conversation, but providing for the next generation. This part of Schopenhauer’s theory is evidently an outcome of his doctrine that children inherit their intellectual qualities from the mother, and their character from the father. Hence the feeling that they are capable of 305supplying their children with sufficient intellect is part of the feminine Love-instinct, and makes women indifferent to the presence or absence of those qualities in men.

It does not follow from all this that a sensible man may not reflect on his chosen one’s character, or she on his intellectual abilities, before marriage. Such reflection leads to marriages of reason, but not to Love-marriages, which alone are here under consideration.

(3) Complementary Qualities.—The physical and mental attributes considered under (1) and (2) are those which commonly inspire Love. But there are cases where perfect Beauty is less potent to inflame the passions than deviations from the normal type.

“Ordinarily it is not the regular perfect beauties that inspire the great passions,” says Schopenhauer; and this seems to be borne out by the experience of Byron, who says: “I believe there are few men who, in the course of their observations on life, have not perceived that it is not the greatest female beauty who forms [inspires] the longest and the strongest passions.”

How is this to be accounted for? By the anxiety of Nature (or the Will) to neutralise imperfections in one individual by wedding them to another’s excesses in the opposite direction; as an acid is neutralised by combining it with an alkali. The greater the shortcoming the more ardent will be the infatuation if a person is found exactly adapted for its neutralisation. The weaker a woman is, for example, in her muscular system, the more apt will she be to fall violently in love with an athlete. Short men have a decided partiality for tall women, and vice versâ. Blondes almost always desire brunettes; and if the reverse does not hold true, this is owing to the fact, he says, that the original colour of the human complexion was not light but dark. A light complexion has indeed become second nature to us, but less so the other features; and “in love nature strives to return to dark hair and brown eyes, as the primitive type.”

Again, persons afflicted with a pug-nose take a special delight in falcon-noses and parrot-faces; and those who are excessively long and slim admire those who are abnormally short and even stumpy. So with temperaments; each one preferring the opposite to his or her own. True, if a person is quite perfect in any one respect, he does not exactly prefer the corresponding imperfection in another, but he is more readily reconciled to it.

Throughout his essay, Schopenhauer tacitly assumes that the parental peculiarities are fused or blended equally in the offspring, 306and that this blending is what the Will aims at. But on this point Mr. Herbert Spencer has some remarks, in his essay on “Personal Beauty,” which directly contradict Schopenhauer, of whose theory, however, he does not seem to have been cognisant:—

“The fact,” he says, "that the forms and qualities of any offspring are not a mean between the forms and qualities of its parents, but a mixture of them, is illustrated in every family. The features and peculiarities of a child are separately referred by observers to father and mother respectively—nose and mouth to this side; colour of the hair and eyes to that; this moral peculiarity to the first; this intellectual one to the second—and so with contour and idiosyncrasies of body. Manifestly, if each organ or faculty in a child was an average of the two developments of such organ or faculty in the parents, it would follow that all brothers and sisters should be alike; or should, at any rate, differ no more than their parents differed from year to year. So far, however, from finding that this is the case, we find not only that great irregularities are produced by intermixture of traits, but that there is no constancy in the mode of intermixture, or the extent of variations produced by it.

“This imperfect union of parental constitutions in the constitution of offspring is yet more clearly illustrated by the reappearance of peculiarities traceable to bygone generations. Forms, dispositions, and diseases, possessed by distant progenitors, habitually come out from time to time in descendants. Some single feature, or some solitary tendency, will again and again show itself after being apparently lost. It is notoriously thus with gout, scrofula, and insanity.”

Again, unite a pure race “with another equally pure, but adapted to different conditions and having a correspondingly different physique, face, and morale, and there will occur in the descendants not a homogeneous mean between the two constitutions, but a seemingly irregular combination of characteristics of the one with characteristics of the other—one feature traceable to this race, a second to that, and a third uniting the attributes of both; while in disposition and intellect there will be found a like medley of the two originals.”

The fact that the more remote ancestry must be taken into account besides the parents, in considering the traits of the offspring, is one which Mr. Galton has done much to emphasise, and which Schopenhauer completely ignores. It tells against the metaphysical part of his theory; for all the efforts of the Will to merge opposite characters into homogeneous traits must prove 307futile if a blue-eyed man, for instance, who marries a black-eyed girl, finds that their children have neither the father’s blue nor the mother’s black, but the grandmother’s gray eyes.

Yet in the long run diverse traits of figure and physiognomy do tend to a harmonious fusion. Though a man with a prominent nose, which he inherited from his father, is likely to transmit it to his son, though his wife may have a snub-nose, yet there will be a slight modification even in the son’s organ; and if the son keeps up the tradition of marrying a snub-nosed girl, and his children follow his example, the chances are that in a few generations the nose of that family will be a feature of moderate size and classic proportions. The very fact emphasised by Mr. Galton that all the ancestral influences count, will here aid the ultimate fusion. Conspicuous instances of the long-continued prevalence of a particular nose—or other feature—may be accounted for by the fact that other kinds of that organ were rare in the vicinity, or that marriage was decided by so many other considerations that the dimensions of one organ could not come into consideration, much as the bride or groom might have preferred an improvement in that respect.

So far as Schopenhauer’s theory concerns only the fact that Love is apt to be based on complementary qualities, he is doubtless correct; but it needs no erratic metaphysical fetish, as a deus ex machina, to account for that fact. A simple application of psychologic principles explains the whole mystery.

In the first place, nothing could be more remote from the truth than the cynical notion that every woman considers herself a Venus. She may, on the whole, consider herself equal to the average of Beauty; but if she has any special fault—a mouth too large or too small, an upper lip too high, a nose too flat or too prominent, too much or too little flesh, excessive height or shortness—she is not only conscious of the defect, but morbidly conscious of it, and uses every possible device to conceal it. Thus constantly brooding over her misfortune her mind, by a natural reaction, will conceive a special admiration for an organ that exceeds the line of Beauty in the opposite direction. Every day one hears a petite girl admiring a specially tall woman; and this admiration will prompt her, other things being equal, to fall in love with a tall man.

Secondly, familiarity breeds indifference to one’s own charms, and a disposition to admire what we lack ourselves.

Novelty comes into play. A Northern blonde among a nation of brunettes cannot fail to slay hearts by the hundred, while the 308mystic flashes of a Spanish woman’s black eyes are fatal to every Northern visitor.

Nations, like individuals, admire and desire what they lack. The Germans and the English are deficient in grace—hence that quality is what chiefly charms them in the French, who have much more of it than of Beauty, and in the Spanish. Byron was so much smitten with the sun-mellowed complexions and the graceful proportions and gait of the Spanish maidens, that he became quite unjust to his own lovely countrywomen—

“Who round the North for paler dames would seek?
How poor their forms appear! How languid, wan, and weak!”

Were savages susceptible to Love, it might be suggested that their practice of exogamy, or marrying a woman from another tribe, had something to do with their admiration of novelty and complementary qualities; but we know that they do not admire such qualities, but only such typical traits as prevail among their own women, and these, moreover, in an exaggerated form. This is one reason why savages are so ugly. They have no Romantic Love to improve their Personal Beauty by fusing heterogeneous defects into homogeneous perfections.

Thus we may freely endorse Schopenhauer’s doctrine regarding the benefits derived by the offspring (ultimately, in several generations) from marriages based on complementary Love, without bowing down before his fetish—a fetish which appears doubly objectionable because it is old-fashioned; i.e. it strives to “maintain the type of the species in its primitive purity,” whereas modern science teaches that this “primitive type” of human beauty had a very simian aspect.

Nor need we at all accept the pessimistic aspect of his theory—the notion that Love is an illusion, and that Love-marriages commonly end unhappily, the lover sacrificing himself for his progeny.

Mr. Herbert Spencer, in his Sociology, elaborates an idea which so curiously leads up to this phase of Schopenhauer’s doctrine that it must be briefly referred to for its evolutionary suggestiveness.

Among the lowest animals—the microscopic protozoa—the individual, as he remarks, is sacrificed after a few hours of life, by breaking up into two new individuals, or into a number of germs which produce a new generation. The parents are here entirely sacrificed to the interests of the young and the species. As we ascend in the scale of life this sacrifice of parents to the young and the species becomes less and less prevalent. Among 309birds, for instance, “The lives of the parents are but partially subordinated at times when the young are being reared. And then there are long intervals between breeding-seasons, during which the lives of parents are carried on for their own sakes.... In proportion as organisms become higher in their structures and powers, they are individually less sacrificed to the maintenance of the species; and the implication is that in the highest type of man this sacrifice is reduced to a minimum.”

Here is the point where Schopenhauer, had he been an evolutionist, might have dovetailed his theory with Spencer’s, by saying that in man it is no longer the life of the individual, or most of his time, that is sacrificed, but merely his conjugal happiness, which the Love-instinct induces him unconsciously to barter for the superior physical and mental beauty of his offspring.

Unfortunately, Schopenhauer did not take any pains to verify his theory by testing it by vulgar facts. There are plenty of unhappy marriages, but no one who will search his memory can fail to come to the conclusion that the vast majority of them are cases where money or rank and not Love supplied the motive of an unsympathetic union. Though Conjugal Affection consists of a different group of emotions from Romantic Love, yet there is an affinity between them; and it is not likely that Conjugal Love will ever supervene where before marriage there was an entire absence of sympathy and adoration. Even an imprudent Love-match which leads to poverty—is it not preferable to a mariage de convenance, which leads to lifelong indifference and ennui? Is it not better to have one month of ecstatic bliss in life than to live and die without ever knowing life’s highest rapture?

Again, the French marry for money and social convenience, and their children are ugly; the Americans marry for Love, and have the most beautiful children in the world. Is it not more conducive to conjugal happiness to know that one has lovely children and that the race is increasing, than to have ugly children and to know that the race is dying out?

Love-matches would never end unhappily if the lovers would take proper care of their own happiness by transfusing the habits of Courtship into conjugal life, as elsewhere explained in this book.

Schopenhauer’s whole argument is vitiated by the fact that it is chiefly the physical complementary qualities that inspire Love, not the mental—the latter, in fact, being barely noticed by him. Mental divergence might indeed occasionally lead to an unhappy marriage, but physical divergence—the fact that he is large and 310blond, she small and a brunette—cannot possibly lead to matrimonial discord. This knocks the whole bottom out of Schopenhauer’s erotic pessimism. The only sense in which Love is an illusion is in its Hyperbolic phase—the notion that the beloved is superior to all other mortals; and that is a very harmless illusion.

Schopenhauer’s pessimism, it should be added, is greatly mitigated by the poetic halo of martyrdom with which he invests the lover’s head. Society and public opinion, he points out, applaud him for instinctively preferring the welfare of the next generation to his own comfort. “For is not the exact determination of the individualities of the next generation a much higher and nobler object than those ecstatic feelings of the lovers, and their super-sensual soap-bubbles?” It is this that invests Love with its poetic character. There is one thing only that justifies tears in a man, and that is the loss of his Love, for in that he bewails not his own loss but the loss of the species.

Apart from the suggestive details of his essay, Schopenhauer’s merit and originality lies, first, in his having pointed out that Love becomes more intense the more it is individualised; secondly, in emphasising the fact that in match-making it is not the happiness of the to-be-married couple that should be chiefly consulted, but the consequences of their union to the offspring; thirdly, in dwelling on the important truth that Love is a cause of Beauty, because its aim always is either to perpetuate existing Beauty through hereditary transmission, or to create new Beauty by fusing two imperfect individuals into a being in whom their short-comings mutually neutralise one another.

Love, however, is only one source of Personal Beauty. Personal Beauty has four sources; and these must now be considered in succession, in the order which roughly indicates their successive evolution—Health, Crossing, Love, and Mental Refinement.

The remainder of this work will be devoted exclusively to the subject of Personal Beauty, as it influences and is influenced by Romantic Love. And here, as in the preceding pages, I shall always cite the ipsissima verba of the greatest specialists who have written on any particular branch of this subject.



Plants, Animals, Savages.—In two of the most exquisite passages, not only in his own works, but in all English literature, 311Mr. Ruskin has emphasised the dependence of physical beauty in plants on their healthy appearance, and the independence of this beauty on any idea of direct utility to man.

“It is a matter of easy demonstration,” he says, “that, setting the characters of typical beauty aside, the pleasure afforded by every organic form is in proportion to its appearance of healthy vital energy; as in a rose-bush, setting aside all considerations of gradated flushing of colour and fair folding of line, which it shares with the cloud or the snow-wreath, we find in and through all this certain signs pleasant and acceptable as signs of life and enjoyment in the particular individual plant itself. Every leaf and stalk is seen to have a function, to be constantly exercising that function, and, as it seems, solely for the good and enjoyment of the plant. It is true that reflection will show us that the plant is not living for itself alone, that its life is one of benefaction, that it gives as well as receives, but no sense of this whatever mingles with our perception of physical beauty in its forms. Those forms which appear to be necessary to its health, the symmetry of its leaflets, the smoothness of its stalks, the vivid green of its shoots, are looked upon by us as signs of the plant’s own happiness and perfection; they are useless to us, except as they give us pleasure in our sympathising with that of the plant, and if we see a leaf withered or shrunk or worm-eaten, we say it is ugly, and feel it to be most painful, not because it hurts us, but because it seems to hurt the plant, and conveys to us an idea of pain and disease and failure of life in it.”

“The bending tree, waving to and fro in the wind above the waterfall, is beautiful because it is happy, though it is perfectly useless to us. The same trunk, hewn down and thrown across the stream, has lost its beauty. It serves as a bridge,—it has become useful; it lives not for itself, and its beauty is gone, or what it retains is purely typical, dependent on its lines and colours, not its functions. Saw it into planks, and though now adapted to become permanently useful, its whole beauty is lost for ever, or to be regained only in part when decay and ruin shall have withdrawn it again from use, and left it to receive from the hand of Nature the velvet moss and varied lichen, which may again suggest ideas of inherent happiness, and tint its mouldering sides with hues of life.”

In the animal world we find the same dependence of Beauty upon Health. As Mr. Wallace has shown, “colour and ornament are strictly correlated with health, vigour, and general fitness to survive.” It is the superior vitality, vigour, and vivacity of 312certain male animals that leads the choicest females to prefer them to others less favoured; and thus it happens that, thanks to the dependence of Beauty on Health, animals have become more and more beautiful. Moreover, it is Love in its primitive form that urges animals to prefer those that are most healthy. And thus we have the three great agents acting and reacting upon one another. Health produces Beauty, and together they inspire Love; while Love selects Health, and thus preserves and multiplies Beauty. But this whole subject has been so fully discussed in the chapter on Love among Animals that it is needless to recapitulate the facts here.

Concerning savages, there is a prevalent notion that, owing to their free and easy life in the forests, they are healthier on the average than civilised mankind. As a matter of fact, however, they are as inferior to us in Health as in Beauty. Their constant exposure and irregular feeding habits, their neglect and ignorance of every hygienic law, in conjunction with their vicious lives, their arbitrary mutilations of various parts, and their selection of inferior forms, prevent their bodies from assuming the regular and delicate proportions which we regard as essential to Beauty. They arrive at maturity at an earlier age, and lose their vitality sooner than we do. “Decrepitude,” says Dr. Topinard, “shows itself sooner in some races than in others. The Australians and Bosjesmans are old men at a period when the European is in the full enjoyment of his faculties, both physical and intellectual. The Japanese the same, according to Dr. Krishaber, physician to the Japanese embassy.”

Women everywhere pay less attention to the laws of Health than men. They have less exercise, less fresh air and sunshine than men. Hence, although the most beautiful women are more beautiful than the handsomest men, yet in probably every country of the world the average man is a more perfect specimen of masculine than the average woman of feminine Beauty. Concerning savages, Mr. Spencer says: “Very generally among the lower races the females are even more unattractive in aspect than the males. It is remarked of the Puttooahs, whose men are diminutive and whose women are still more so, that ‘the men are far from being handsome, but the palm of ugliness must be awarded to the women.’ The latter are hard-worked and apparently ill-fed.” Again, of the inhabitants of the Corea Gutzlaff says: “The females are very ugly, whilst the male sex is one of the best formed of Asia.... Women are treated like beasts of burden.” Many similar cases are cited by Dr. Ploss in Das Weib.

313Concerning modern civilised nations a well-known art-critic has given his testimony to the effect that “Possibly owing to the fact that men are freer to follow their normal lives, I have found that in a majority of the countries I have visited there are more handsome men than beautiful women. This is peculiarly the case with the modern Greek, and was, if antique sculpture could be accepted as witness, with the ancient.”

Greek Beauty.—In the preceding chapters of this work an attempt has been made to show that there is a general connection between the growth of Love and the growth of Beauty throughout the world. To some readers, no doubt, the thought has suggested itself, “How, if this be true, did the loveless Greeks succeed in reaching such uncommon physical beauty—beauty which artists of all times have admired?”

It must be borne in mind, however, that we are very liable to exaggerate in our notions of Greek Beauty, because we are apt to generalise from the fine statues that have come down to us, and to imagine that they represent the common type of Greek Beauty. But it is well known that the Greeks idealised their statues according to certain physiognomic rules; and, moreover, as Winckelmann remarks, “Beauty was not a general quality even among the Greeks, and Cotta in Cicero says that, among the great numbers of young persons at Athens, there were only a few possessing true beauty.”

Besides, it has not been claimed that Love is the only cause of Beauty. Taking into consideration the other sources of Beauty, it is easy enough to account for such physical attractiveness as the Greeks did possess. The intellectual culture which the men enjoyed gave them a great advantage over the women; and equally important, if not more so, was the attention which the men (and in some cases the women too) paid to Health. Their habitual life in the open air, while the women were locked up at home, combined with their daily gymnastic exercises in making their complexion healthy, their eyes sparkling, their limbs supple, vigorous, and graceful.

Other causes that tended to keep up an average of healthy bodily development were the refusal to bring up sickly and deformed infants, and the existence of numerous slaves, who did all the drudgery for the Greeks.

It is most characteristic that the author of a very old Greek ode formulates his wishes in this order: First, health; then, beauty; thirdly, wealth honestly got; fourth, the privilege of being gay and merry with his friends.

314First, Health; then, Beauty. There lies the secret, for they always go together; and in aiming at one the Greeks got the other too.

There was every reason why Greek parents should have striven eagerly to follow those laws of Health which ensure beautiful children. In ancient Greece Beauty was a possession which led to national fame. Some persons, Winckelmann informs us, were even characterised by a particular name, borrowed from some specially fine feature. Thus Demetrius Poliorketes was named, from the beauty of his eyelids, χαριτοβλέφαρος i.e. on whose lids the graces dwell.

“It appears, indeed,” the same writer continues, "to have been a belief that the procreation of beautiful children might be promoted by the distribution of prizes for beauty, as there is reason to infer from the contests of beauty which were instituted in the remotest ages by Cypselus, King of Arcadia, in the time of the Heraclidæ, on the banks of the river Alpheus, in Elis; and also from the fact that at the festival of the Philesian Apollo, a prize for the most exquisite kiss was conferred on the youthful. Its assignment was subject to the decision of a judge, as was probably also the case at Megara, at the tomb of Diocles.

“At Sparta, and at Lesbos, in the temple of Juno, and among the citizens of Parrhasia, the women contended for the prize of beauty. The regard for this quality was so strong that, as Oppian declares, the Spartan women placed in their sleeping-rooms an Apollo, or Bacchus, or Nereus, or Narcissus, or Hyacinthus, or Castor and Pollux, in order that they might bear beautiful children.”

Some hint as to what the Greeks regarded as beautiful is given by the epithets Homer bestows on Helen—"the well-rounded" “the white-armed,” “fair-haired,” “of the beautiful cheeks.”

Mediæval Ugliness.—This is a topic which might as well be introduced under any of the other Sources of Beauty, for it is difficult to say which of these sources was most completely and deliberately choked up during the Dark Ages.

It is a curious irony of language that makes asceticism almost identical with æstheticism, of which it is the deadly enemy. As diseases are transmitted from generation to generation, so it seems that the fear of Beauty born of mediæval asceticism has not yet died out completely; for it is related that some years ago a pious dame in Boston seriously meditated the duty of having some of her daughter’s sound teeth pulled out, so as to mitigate her sinful Beauty.

315If this worthy lady had followed St. Jerome’s injunction—"I entirely forbid a young lady to bathe"; if she had taught her that it is unladylike to have a healthy appetite; if she had locked her up in a house rendered pestilential by defective drainage; allowed her mind to rot in fallow idleness; taught her that to be really saintly and virtuous she must be pale and hysterical; or imitated the lady who was praised by a bishop in the fourth century for “having brought upon herself a swarm of diseases which defied all medical skill to cure,”—if the worthy Boston lady had but followed this mediæval system, she would have succeeded in a short time in overcoming her daughter’s sinful Beauty, and making her “ugly as a mud-fence,” as they say out West.

That Personal Beauty cannot flourish where Health is regarded as a vice and Disease as a virtue is self-evident. And one needs only to look at mediæval pictures to note how coarse and void of refined expression are the men, how hard and masculine the women. The faces of the numerous mediæval women in Planché’s Cyclopædia of Costume have almost all an expression approaching imbecility, and features as if they had been chiselled by a small boy trying his hand at sculpture for the first time. Thackeray does not hesitate to speak even of “those simpering Madonnas of Rafael.” Mr. G. A. Simcox remarks that in manuscripts of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries (like the Harleian Gospels and Maccabees) we meet with “short, thickset figures, mostly with the long, square, horsey face, moving stiffly in small groups, in heavy dresses; and even the daughter of Herodias dances upon her head [sic] in a gown that might have stood alone. On the other hand, the faces are more set, more articulate, less flabby, though they are all mean, or almost all, and look askance out of the corners of their eyes” (Art Journal, 1874, p. 58).

There may be Oriental countries where woman is kept more closely under lock and key than she was in Europe during the Dark Ages; but nowhere else has man so well succeeded in reducing the pursuit of unhappiness to a science, in snubbing, scorning, abusing, maltreating woman. How all this must have tended to increase Personal Beauty is well brought out in the following advice given by Mr. Ruskin: “Do not think you can make a girl lovely if you do not make her happy. There is not one restraint you put on a good girl’s nature—there is not one check you give to her instincts of affection or of effort—which will not be indelibly written on her features, with a hardness which is all the more painful because it takes away the brightness from the eyes of innocence, and the charm from the brow of virtue.”

316Modern Hygiene.—Disease is Beauty’s deadliest enemy. Yet for the sake of gratifying a silly vanity—for the sake of being distinguished from ordinary mortals—a certain pallor and blasé languor have long been considered in certain influential circles as more distingué than ruddy cheeks and robust health. Yet even if pale cheeks were more beautiful than rosy cheeks, would it be worth while to purchase them at the cost of premature decay—of the certainty that a few years of pale cheeks will be followed by many years of sallow cheeks and lack-lustre eyes, deeply sunk into their orbits?

Though beauty is still of lamentably rare occurrence in every country, there is infinitely more of it than during the Middle Ages; and certainly not the least cause of this is the increased attention paid to Hygiene—public and personal. The difference in this respect between us and our ancestors is well brought out by the statistics regarding the average length of life. In ancient Rome, it is stated, "the average longevity among the most favoured classes was but thirty years, whereas to-day the average longevity among the corresponding class of people is fifty years. In the sixteenth century the average longevity in Geneva was 21·21 years. Between 1814 and 1833 it was 40·68, and as large a proportion now live to seventy as lived to forty-three three hundred years ago." Dr. Corfield, comparing the statistics of 1842 with those of 1884, states that the mean duration of life in London has increased from twenty-nine to thirty-eight years. “In the reign of Queen Elizabeth the death-rate of the metropolis as it then was amounted to 40 per thousand. In the reign of Queen Victoria, almost entirely by the reduction of mortality by means of improved drainage, ventilation, and water, it has often touched 15 and 14, and even fallen as low as 13 in the thousand,” while “in many of the suburban districts, and in the fashionable region about Hyde Park it ranges from 11 to 12.”

In France, according to M. Topinard, the mean duration of life, which was twenty-nine at the close of the eighteenth century, and thirty-nine from 1817 to 1831, increased to forty from 1840 to 1859, thanks to the progress of sanitary science and civilisation.

As Hygiene is receiving more and more attention every year, it is possible that in course of time Dr. W. B. Richardson’s ideal will be realised—a town ideally perfect in sanitary matters, having a death-rate of 9 per 1000, and 105 years the duration of a man’s life.

As decrepitude and premature old age means a premature loss of Beauty, personal attractiveness would be correspondingly prolonged and increased with life itself.

317Even at the present time not one house in a thousand is so constructed that every room has good ventilation. Architects are, however, less to blame than the people who will persist in their absurd old superstition that draughts and night air are injurious. Professor Reclam, the distinguished hygienist, not long ago opened a crusade against the horror of night air and draughts which is especially prevalent among his countrymen. “Sleeping with open windows,” he says, “is most unjustly decried among the people, as well as night air in general. But night air is injurious only in swampy regions, whereas on dry soil, in the mountains, and everywhere in the upper stories of a house it is more salubrious than day air.... Draughts are not injurious unless we are in a glow. To healthy persons they cannot possibly do so much harm as the stagnant air in a close room. The fear of draughts is entirely groundless, though it affects most people in a manner which is simply ludicrous.”

Electricity, no doubt, will in less than a decade abolish horses from our cities, and with them the dust, foul odours, and sleep-murdering noise. The gain to Health, and through it to Beauty, from this alone, will be enormous. Doubtless one of the reasons why there is so much Beauty, so many fresh and sparkling eyes, in Venice, is because there are no horses in that city, and the inhabitants are not roused and half-roused from sleep every fifteen minutes during the night by a waggon rattling down the street.

It is not sufficiently known that street-noise may injure the Health even of those whom it does not entirely wake up. The restorative value of sleep lies in its depth and the absence of dreams. A noisy waggon interferes with the depth of sleep and starts a current of dreams, thus depriving it of half its potency.

Beauty sleep” is an expression which rests on a real physiological truth. Sleep before midnight really is more health-giving and beautifying than after midnight, for the reason that in all towns and cities there is less noise in the early hours of the night than after four in the morning, wherefore sleep is deeper between ten and twelve than between six and eight o’clock. The reason why so many more proposals (by city folks) are made in the country than in the city is not only because there are more frequent opportunities of meeting at a summer hotel, but because the young folks retire early, and appear in the morning with an exuberance of Health, born of fresh air and sound sleep, which cannot fail to inspire Love.

Other matters of Hygiene will be discussed in connection with the organs which they specially concern.



Darwin has proved experimentally that in the vegetable kingdom “cross-fertilisation is generally beneficial, and self-fertilisation injurious. This is shown by the difference in height, weight, constitutional vigour, and fertility of the offspring from crossed and self-fertilised flowers, and in the number of seeds produced by the parent plants.” He also showed that “the benefit from cross-fertilisation depends on the plants which are crossed having been subjected during previous generations to somewhat different conditions.”

Similarly, concerning animals, we read in Topinard, that “breeders who select their subjects with a definite object to breed in and in, that is to say, between near relations, rapidly obtain excellent results. They know, however, that fertility then diminishes, and that it will cease altogether if they do not have recourse from time to time to crossing, in order to strengthen the race.”

But both in the vegetable and the animal kingdom, as we have seen, superior Health also implies superior Beauty.

The inference is natural that the human race also must be benefited by marriages of individuals of different races, or of the same race, but brought up under different conditions of life. And the facts are entirely in favour of this supposition, as are the best authorities in Anthropology. Dr. Topinard gives the following instances among many others: “Immigration into the United States, which has taken so considerable a flight during the last thirty years, has already been enormous. Every variety of cross has been going on between English, Irish, Germans, Italians, French, etc., with the greatest possible success. We may also mention numberless Spaniards from the Peninsula, among whom are found the features of the Saracen invaders of the ninth century; then that population on the Barbary coast, called Moors, and which is a medley of races of every description, the Arab and Berber blood predominating. On tracing back the yellow races, we also discover a perfect eugenesis.... De Mas speaks in the highest terms of mixed breeds of Chinese and Mongolians, and MM. Mondières and Morice of those of Chinese and Annamites under the name of Minuongs. Dr. Bowring describes a race in the Philippine Islands, intermediate between the Malays and Chinese, as the principal agent of civilisation in these latitudes.”

On the other hand, “it is undeniable that in Africa the Negro races do not cross to any great extent.” Nor has any one ever 319accused the Negroes of an excessive amount of Beauty. Whereas in Lima, which has the finest women in South America, “there are twenty-three different names to designate the varieties of mixed breeds of Spaniards, Peruvians, and Negroes.” “The number of mongrels on the face of the globe has been estimated at twelve millions, of whom no fewer than eleven millions are in South America.” South American women are already famous for their Beauty, and there is reason to believe that when the fusion of all these elements is complete the race will be one of the finest in the world. What Beauty it has now seems to be owing chiefly to the magic of Crossing; for attention to Health there is little but what comes from life in the open air; while Romantic Love is perhaps as rare as Mental Refinement, inasmuch as Courtship is not so free and easy a matter as in North America. All the more honour to the potency of Crossing.

Take a few more cases. The African Negroes, as just stated, do not mix much, and are an ugly type. Among the Polynesians, on the other hand, there are many very fine types of human beauty; and it is therefore not surprising to read that to-day in Polynesia, “mixed breeds are so numerous that it would be difficult to find among them any individuals of pure race.”

Again, concerning the Magyars or Hungarians, Schweiger-Lerchenfeld remarks that “they are a splendid race, physically and intellectually.... The girls and young women are of most piquant charm, models of health in mind and body.” But these Magyars, when they first came to Europe, were, as Waitz states, “of a repulsive ugliness in the eyes of all their neighbours.” That they have mixed with the Indo-Germanic type is shown by their appearance, as well as by peculiarities of their language. “Where they have probably remained less mixed,” Waitz continues, “and at the same time less cultivated, in some remote regions, especially in the mountains, the ugly primitive type may be found to the present day; in the plains may be found every transitional form from this to the nobler type; at Szegedin both are found face to face.”

The Magyars, in turn, have, like the Slavo-Italians, Czechs, etc., assisted the Austrians in evolving a superior type of Beauty by fusing with them. That there is very much more Beauty in Vienna than in any purely German city is an almost proverbial commonplace; and the reason why may be found in the statistics: in Germany 31·80 per cent are blond, 14·05 brunet, 54·15 mixed; in Austria 19·59 per cent are blond, 23·17 brunet, and 68·04 mixed.

320The European Turks have much nobler forms of the head and features than their Asiatic relatives; and the inference seems inevitable that they owe these improvements to intermarriage with Circassian women.

A negative instance, showing the disadvantages of abstaining from Crossing, is given by the Jews. There are handsome Jews and, up to a certain age, very beautiful Jewesses. But the typical Jew is certainly not a thing of beauty. The disadvantages of Jewish separatism are shown not only in the long, thick, crooked nose, the bloated lips, almost suggesting a negro, and the heavy lower eyelid, but in the fact that the Jews “have proportionately more insane, deaf mutes, blind, and colour-blind” than other Europeans. From an intellectual and industrial point of view, the Jews are one of the finest races in the world, and their absorption by the natives of the countries in which they have settled could not but benefit both parties concerned. From this point of view there may be something said even in favour of the money-marriages, which are now so frequent between extravagant German officers and Jewish heiresses. Unfortunately, the Jews have kept apart so long from the rest of the world that they do not readily mix with non-Jews. Contrary to the general rule, mixed marriages of Jews and Christians are less fertile than pure Jewish unions.

The precise manner in which a mixture of races improves physical appearance is a question still open to debate. Professor Kollmann (Plastische Anatomie) thinks “the result of the crossing of two forms is comparable, not to a chemical, but to a mechanical mixture”; and this agrees with the view of Mr. Herbert Spencer, who endeavours to trace to this fact the frequent want of correspondence between intellectual and physical beauty. He believes, however, the time will come “when the present causes of incongruity will have worked themselves out,” and intellectual beauty emerge in harmony with physical, in all details, as it no doubt exists in general.

There is no lack of facts supporting the view that sexual fusion is a mere mechanical mixture. The “Bourbon nose” seems to defy mitigating circumstances for generations; and “M. de Quatrefages knew a great-grandson of the bailiff of Suffren who was a striking likeness of his ancestor after four generations, and who, nevertheless, bore no resemblance either to his father or his mother.” A child may resemble its father, mother, aunt, uncle, grand-parents, or several of them at once; and the resemblance may vary at different ages.

More extraordinary are the following cases cited by Topinard: 321“Sometimes the child possesses altogether the character of one or other parent: for example, the child of a European father and a Chinese mother, Dr. Scherzer says, is altogether a European or altogether a Chinese. A Berber with blue eyes and with the lobule of the ear absent, married to a dark Arab woman with a well-formed ear, had two children, one like himself, the other like his wife. An English officer, fair, with blue eyes and florid complexion, had several children by an Indian negress. Some were the image of the father, others exactly like the mother.... A decided negro, having had a white among his ancestors, has unexpectedly a child with a white skin by a negress.”

Yet all these are exceptional cases, which, like the winning number in a lottery, get a disproportionate amount of attention. Moreover, this “mechanical” form of assimilation seems to occur chiefly where very unrelated races are fused, and then especially in the first generation. In subsequent generations the union doubtless tends to become more and more chemical—no longer a negro character floating on a white one, like oil on water, but a mixture, as of wine and water.

Take the American quadroons, for instance, famous for their beauty of form and features. They are mongrels of the third generation, having one-eighth black, seven-eighths white blood in their veins. Surely these characters are not “mechanically” mixed in such a woman, but “chemically.” That is, you do not find her with the eyes and nose of a negro, the lips and ears of a white, one part of her skin dark the other light: but in everything there is a fusion of the ancestral elements. Her nose is not flat like that of her ancestress, nor her lips swollen, but both are intermediate between those of her white and black ancestors. Her lip is still thicker than that of the whites, and that gives her a sensuous aspect, kiss-inviting. Her eyes, again, have lost the fierce glare and opaque blackness of the negro-grandmother, and assumed a more crystalline, tender lustre; while their form and surroundings have become more refined and expressive. All this is homogeneous fusion, not “heterogeneous mixture.”

Finally, it is hardly correct to state dogmatically that a certain person resembles this or that ancestor. In nothing else do opinions vary so constantly and so ludicrously. No one who has ever been “trotted around” among his relatives in the “old country,” can have failed to be amused at the countless resemblances to this and that uncle, aunt, or grand-parent discovered in him, until he came to the conclusion that he must be a veritable epitome of the whole genealogy. A man who at home is supposed to be absolutely unlike 322his brother, is elsewhere mistaken for him and addressed as such; while another man finds a friend who knew his father in his youth, and declares he is exactly like him; though a second friend who knew only the mother, claims a similar hereditary influence for her. All of which tends to show that there is more of both parents in each person than is commonly supposed; and that the reason why opinions differ so, is because the fusion is chemical rather than mechanical, which makes it difficult to put the finger on distinct points of resemblance.

It is in the more closely allied races, like the English and German, or Italian and Spanish, that “chemical” fusion is most readily attained, and Beauty most rapidly evolved. Such are the unions which take place on such a large scale in the United States and Canada; and this may account for the fact that there is more Beauty in North America than in South America, where the races that intermingle are less related. There is a golden mean here as in everything else.


What Crossing does on a national scale, Love continues with individuals, by fusing dissonant, but complementary, parental qualities into a harmonious progeny. How this is done is sufficiently shown in the chapter on Schopenhauer.

This, however, is only one of the ways in which Love increases the amount of Beauty in the world. There are several others.

The second is that—apart from complementary considerations—Romantic Love always urges the choice of a mate who approaches nearest to the ideal type of Beauty. As Beauty is hereditary, and as a beautiful father and mother may have six or more beautiful children, this predilection for Beauty shown by Love necessarily preserves and multiplies it—

“From fairest creatures we desire increase,
That thereby Beauty’s rose might never die,”

says Shakspere, anticipating the modern theory of heredity.

On this particular topic nothing more need be said here, because all the remainder of this book will be taken up with a consideration of those features of Personal Beauty for which the æsthetic taste which forms part of Romantic Love shows a decided preference.

The third way in which Love promotes the cause of Beauty is by the great attention it pays to Health in its choice. For though 323Health is not always synonymous with Beauty, it is the soil on which alone Beauty can germinate and flourish.

The fourth way is through the elimination of ugliness. Love, says Plato, is devotion to Beauty: “with“with the ugly Eros has no concern.”

From the æsthetic point of view, ugliness is disease. Now there is a cast-iron Lykurgean law prevailing throughout Nature which eliminates the diseased and the ugly. It is a cruel agency, called Natural Selection, and has not the slightest regard for individuals, but provides only for the weal of the species, as Schopenhauer erroneously says is the case with Love. In a bed of plants, if there are more than can find sustenance, the stronger crowd out the weaker. Among animals, wherever there is competition, the best-developed, handsomest lion survives in combat, and the most fleet-footed, and consequently most graceful, deer escapes, while the clumsy, the ugly, and diseased perish miserably, inexorably. Savages leave the old and feeble to die, and weak or deformed children are either deliberately put out of the way or perish from want of proper care. Nor among the ancient civilised nations were such methods unknown. Plato and Aristotle, says Mr. Grote, agree in this point: “Both of them command that no child born crippled or deformed shall be brought up—a practice actually adopted at Sparta under the Lykurgean Institutions, and even carried further, since no child was allowed to be brought up until it had been inspected and approved by the public nurses.” The Romans, too, were legally permitted to expose deformed children.

Christianity, the religion of pity and charity, abhors such practices. Christianity is antagonistic to Natural Selection. One of its chief functions is the building of hospitals in which the cripples, the insane, the incurably diseased, are gratuitously and tenderly cared for, instead of being allowed to perish, as they would under the sway of Natural Selection.

This artificial preservation of disease and deformity, in and out of hospitals, due to Christian charity, might in the long run prove injurious to the welfare of the human race, were it not for the stepping in of Modern Love as a preserver of Health and Beauty. What formerly was left to the agency of Natural Selection is now done by Love, through Sexual Selection, on a vast scale.

From a moral point of view, the substitution of Sexual for Natural Selection is a great gain, in harmony with the spirit of Christianity. For Cupid does not kill those who do not come up to his standard of Health and Beauty, but simply ignores and condemns them to a life of single-blessedness.



“After all,” says Washington Irving, speaking of Spanish women, “it is the divinity within which makes the divinity without; and I have been more fascinated by a woman of talent and intelligence, though deficient in personal charms, than I have been by the most regular beauty.”

It is one of the commonest commonplaces of conversation that in moments of intellectual or emotional excitement the features of plain people assume an aspect of exquisite beauty. Love transfuses a homely girl’s countenance with a glow of angelic loveliness; and biographies are full of statements concerning the countenances of men of genius, which, ordinarily unattractive, assumed an expression of unearthly beauty while their minds were active and electrified the facial muscles.

“There is not any virtue the exercise of which, even momentarily, will not impress a new fairness upon the features,” says Mr. Ruskin; and again, he speaks of “the operation of the intellectual powers upon the features, in the fine cutting and chiselling of them, and removal from them of signs of sensuality and sloth, by which they are blunted and deadened, and substitution of energy and intensity for vacancy and insipidity (by which wants alone the faces of many fair women are utterly spoiled and rendered valueless); and by the keenness given to the eye and fine moulding and development to the brow, of which effects Sir Charles Bell has well noted the desirableness and opposition to brutal types.”

An English clergyman, the Rev. F. P. Lawson, diocesan inspector for Northamptonshire, issued a report not long ago concerning the results of his observations in 325 urban and rural schools during several years, regarding the effects of good education in improving the appearance of the children. “A school, thoroughly well taught, seldom failed to exhibit a considerable number of interesting little faces, and a striking absence of such faces might invariably be associated with poverty of tone and superficial instruction. Nothing struck him more forcibly in a school that has been suddenly lifted out of the mire by a firstrate teacher than the bright and thoughtful look which the children soon acquire.”

Negative evidence to the same effect might also be cited by the volume, but one case may suffice. “It is unhappily a fact,” says Mr. Galton, “that fairly distinct types of criminals breeding true to their kind have become established, and are one of the saddest disfigurements of modern civilisation.”

325The connection between culture and a superior type of Beauty is strikingly revealed in the following remarks on the far-famed Georgian women of the Caucasus, made by a great connoisseur of feminine beauty, the poet Bodenstedt: "In Europe the notion prevails that a Georgian woman is a tall, graceful being, of luscious form, clothed in wide, rich garments, with dense black hair, long enough to enchain all masculine hearts, an open, noble forehead, and a pair of eyes which contain within their dark, mysterious, magic circle all the secrets of human delight that come through the soul or the senses. Her gait is rapture. Joy precedes, and admiration follows her.... With such notions in their heads, strangers generally arrive in Georgia, and find themselves wofully disappointed. The tourists who come with such great expectations to visit this country, invested with the atmosphere of a fairyland by history and legend, either adhere stubbornly to their preconceived notions, or else they instantly go over to the opposite extreme, and find everything dirty, ugly, disgusting, dreadful.

"The truth lies between these extremes. The Georgians are, all in all, one of the handsomest nations on the earth. But although I am a great admirer of women, I am compelled in this case to award the prize to the men instead of the women. This opinion is endorsed by all educated inhabitants of Georgia who have eyes, taste, and an impartial judgment.

“I must add that of that higher beauty where heart and intellect and soul are mirrored in the eye, I found few traces in the whole Caucasus, either among men or women. I have seen the greater number of the beauties which Georgia boasts, but not one face have I seen that satisfied me completely, though the picturesque native costume does much to heighten the charms of the women. The face entirely lacks that refined mental expression which makes a beautiful European woman such a unique enchantress. Such a woman may still inspire love and win hearts long after the time of her bloom; whereas in a Georgian everything fades with youth. The eyes, which, notwithstanding their apparent fire, never expressed anything but calm and voluptuous indolence, lose their lustre; the nose, which even in its normal relations exceeds the limits of beauty, assumes, in consequence of the premature hollowness of the cheeks, such abnormal dimensions that many people imagine that it actually continues to grow; and the bosom, which the national costume makes no effort to conceal, prematurely loses its natural firmness—all of which phenomena are observed in European women much less frequently, and in a less exaggerated form. If you add to this the habit, so prevalent 326among Georgians, young and old, of using white and red cosmetics, you will understand that such rude and inartistic arts of the toilet can only add to the observer’s sense of dissatisfaction.”

America affords many illustrations of the manner in which refinement of mind and manners increases Beauty in a single generation. There are in every city thousands of parents who began life as ordinary labourers, but soon got rich through industry or good luck. They bring up their children in houses where every attention is paid to sanitary rules; they send them to school and college; and when they come back you would hardly believe that those coarse-featured, clumsy-limbed, ungraceful persons could be their father and mother. The discrepancy is sometimes so great that when the young folks invite people of “their set” to their house, the old birds keep out of the way discreetly, either of their own accord or by filial dictation, which in America appears to be displacing parental authority.

But if there is such an intimate connection between culture and Beauty, how is it that we so often find plain features joined with a noble mind and fine features with a mean mind? Mr. Spencer has endeavoured to explain this apparent discrepancy by assuming that in such cases plain features are inherited severally and separately from ancestors of diverse physiognomies, which being merely mechanically mixed, not fused, fail to harmonise. There may be something in this, but a simpler explanation is at hand.

Noble minds are often the result of individual effort, and persistence in it. Many men of genius have had humble parents not specially gifted. From these parents and their ancestors they inherited their plain faces. Now individual effort, in the short period of a lifetime, is insufficient to alter the proportions of a face, which depend on its bony parts; but it does suffice to alter the expression, which depends on the movements of the soft, muscular parts. Hence every person, however plain-featured, may acquire a beautiful expression by cultivating his mind and refining his manners and temper. Whenever, therefore, we meet a man or woman whose features are less attractive at rest than when moved to expression of emotion, we may feel sure that they owe their mental refinement more to individual effort than to inherited capacity.

The children of such persons will be more beautiful than they are themselves, because they will inherit the parents’ habit of expressive muscular action of the features. And owing to the fact that all the bony parts of the body are modified in accordance with the action of the muscles attached to them, the bony parts, 327the proportions, of the face will also be gradually modified and moulded into nobler shapes, through the continuance of refined emotional expression.

It is in this manner that intellectual growth and emotional refinement have gradually differentiated our features from those of our savage ancestors. Our lips have become more delicate, our mouths smaller, our jaws less gigantic, ponderous, and projecting, because civilisation has taught us to use the hands in preparing food, and to cut it instead of tearing it off the bone with the teeth, as savages and other wild animals do.

Use increases, disuse diminishes the size of an organ. Hence for the same reason that our jaws have become less projecting and heavy, our forehead has lost its backward slope and become straight and noble, owing to the growth of the brain. And similarly with other peculiarities of the face, indicating the connection between mental refinement and physical beauty. “Thus is it,” says Mr. Spencer, “with depression of the bridge of the nose, which is a characteristic both of barbarians and of our babes, possessed by them in common with our higher quadrumana. Thus, also, is it with that forward opening of the nostrils, which renders them conspicuous in a front view of the face,—a trait alike of infants, savages, and apes. And the same may be said of widespread alæ to the nose, of great width between the eyes, of long mouth, of large mouth—indeed of all those leading peculiarities of feature which are by general consent called ugly.”



In all the preceding remarks concerning the connection between mental and physical beauty, the assumption has been made tacitly that what we consider beautiful is so in reality; and that our taste is a safe guide to follow. Yet this assumption may be challenged, and has, indeed, been often challenged. Every nation, every savage tribe, has its own standard of Beauty; what right, therefore, have we to claim dogmatically that we are infallible judges?

Ask the devil, says Voltaire, what is the meaning of το καλὸν—the Beautiful—and he will tell you “Le beau est une paire de comes, quatre griffes, et une queue”—a couple of horns, four claws, and a tail. Ask a North American Indian, says 328Hearne, what is Beauty, he will answer: “A broad, flat face, small eyes, high cheek-bones, three or four broad black lines across each cheek, a low forehead, a large, broad chin, a clumsy hook-nose, a tawny hide, and breasts hanging down to the belt.” In the Chinese empire “those women are preferred who have ... a broad face, high cheek-bones, very broad noses, and enormous ears.” “One of the titles of the Zulu king,” says Darwin (who gives many other instances à propos in chapter xix. of the Descent of Man), “is ‘You who are black.’ Mr. Galton, in speaking to me about the natives of South Africa, remarked that their ideas of beauty seem very different from ours; for in one tribe two slim, slight, and pretty girls were not admired by the natives.”

Darwin himself appears to have been staggered and puzzled by this diversity of taste, and to have partly inclined to the theory that Beauty is relative to the human mind (though elsewhere he repudiates it)—a theory which Jeffrey has so boldly formulated in the assertion that “All tastes are equally just and true, in as far as concerns the individual whose taste is in question; and what a man feels distinctly to be beautiful is beautiful to him, whatever other people may think of it.”

Fiddlesticks! The Alison-Jeffrey school of Scotch æstheticians, having been among the first in the field, have done more to confuse the English mind on the subject of Beauty than several generations of other clever writers will be able to clear up again.

There are about half a dozen sound, square, solid, scientific reasons why we have a better right to our opinion concerning the nature of Beauty than a Hottentot or a North American Indian.


One of the things most commonly forgotten by those who wonder at the strange “taste” of savages is that many of their customs have nothing whatever to do with the sense of beauty. The habit of putting on “war-paint” originated not in a desire for ornamentation, but in the wish to make themselves frightful in appearance to the enemy. For the same reason heads are mutilated. As Waitz notes in speaking of Tahiti: “A very ugly mutilation is that to which most of the boys had to subject themselves. Immediately after birth their mothers compressed their forehead and the back of the head, so that the former became narrow and high, the latter flat; this was done to make their aspect more terrible, and thus turn them into more formidable warriors.” Tattooing, likewise, was originally intended to be an 329easy sign of recognition, or of social or religious distinction, rather than an ornament of the body. And when we consider how prone the mind of our own fashionable ladies is to violate every canon of good taste in their wild effort to surpass one another in some novel extravagance just from Paris; when we note that if a Fifth Avenue lady wears a gull on her hat, her coloured cook will invest in a turkey or ostrich for hers, we understand at once that many of the mutilations approved by savages are the outcome of vanity and emulation, not of æsthetic taste.


Yet there are undoubtedly a number of physiognomic and other peculiarities which savages admire while we consider them ugly; and some, again, which we admire and they dislike. Have we a right to consider them inferior to us in taste because they fail to admire what we adore?

Certainly; beyond the shadow of a doubt. It takes genius to fully appreciate genius; it takes a refined taste to appreciate refined beauty. This is what the savage lacks.

Look at any one of the fine arts. Why does the savage prefer his monotonous drumming and ear-piercing war-songs to a soft, beautiful, dreamy Chopin nocturne? Because he cannot understand the nocturne.

Why does he prefer his painted, clumsy, coarse-featured squaw to a civilised woman with delicate contours, refined features, graceful gait? Because he does not understand the beauty of the latter. It is too subtle for his coarse nerves, his feeble imagination. The smiles and manifold expressions that chase one another across her lovely features, like the subtly-interwoven melodies in a symphonic poem, are the visible signs of thoughts and emotions which he has never experienced, and therefore cannot understand. It is like giving him a page of Sanskrit to read.

It is for this reason that a negro never falls in love with a white woman, and that a peasant prefers his plump, crude country-girl to the fair, delicate city visitor. He requires more vigorous arms, broader features, than the city girl possesses, to make an impression on his callous nerves of touch and sight. And it is fortunate for the peasant girl that her lover does lack taste, else she would soon find him a fickle deserter.

The savage, in a word, prefers his style of “beauty” to ours for the same reason that he prefers a piece of raw liver and a glass of oil to the subtle flavours of French cookery and French wines. 330His senses are too coarse, his mind too vulgar, to perceive the poetry of refined features. Everything must be loud and exaggerated to make an impression on him—loud music, loud and glaring red and yellow colours, loud and coarse features.

This doctrine that differences of taste are merely due to differences in the degree of æsthetic culture, and that there is such a thing as an absolute standard of human beauty, derives further support from the facts (1) that the ideal of beauty set up by the æsthetic Greeks two thousand years ago corresponds so remarkably with that of modern artistic minds; (2) that e.g. a Japanese student in the United States soon learns to prefer American female beauty to the Japanese variety; (3) that an English, Italian, or American audience who at first admire Norma and find Lohengrin tiresome, can in a few seasons be so educated as to prefer Lohengrin and actually scorn Norma; but not vice versâ, in either case (2) or (3).

Mr. Ruskin takes a similar view regarding differences of taste when he says that “respecting what has been asserted of negro nations looking with disgust on the white face, no importance whatever is to be attached to the opinions of races who have never received any ideas of beauty whatsoever (these ideas being only received by minds under some certain degree of cultivation), and whose disgust arises naturally from what they suppose to be a sign of weakness or ill-health.”

That this consideration of health does affect the negro’s judgment regarding the beauty of the white complexion, is also shown by what Mr. Winwood Reade told Mr. Darwin, namely, that the negro’s “horror of whiteness may be attributed ... partly to the belief held by most negroes that demons and spirits are white, and partly to their thinking it a sign of ill-health.”

But of all the theoretical truths emphasised in the Modern Painters none is so important as this: “That not only changes of opinion take place in consequence of experience, but that those changes are from variation of opinion to unity of opinion,—that whatever may be the difference of estimate among unpractised or uncultivated tastes, there will be unity of taste among the experienced; and that, therefore, the result of repeated trial and experience is to arrive at principles of preference in some sort common to all, and which are part of our nature.”

Let us now see what are those principles of Beauty that may be considered independent of a more or less crude and undeveloped taste. Some are negative, some positive.



(a) Animals.—"It has been argued," says Darwin (by Schaffhausen), “that ugliness consists in an approach to the structure of the lower animals, and no doubt this is partly true with the more civilised nations, in which intellect is highly appreciated; but this explanation will hardly apply to all forms of ugliness.”

Curiously enough, savages themselves use animals as a negative test of beauty. Thus we read that “the Indians of Paraguay eradicate their eyebrows and eyelashes, saying that they do not wish to be like horses.” “On the Eastern coast, the negro boys, when they saw Burton, cried out, ‘Look at the white man; does he not look like a white ape?’” “A man of Cochin China ‘spoke with contempt of the wife of the English ambassador—that she had white teeth like a dog, and a rosy colour like that of potato-flowers.’”

A few centuries ago it was a favourite pastime of physiognomists to draw elaborate parallels between men and animals. Thus, in 1593, there appeared a work, De Humana Physiognomia, with numerous illustrations, in which always a human face was matched with some animal’s head. Professor Wundt thus sums up the essence of this book: “A broad forehead, we are told, indicates fearfulness, because the ox with his broad head lacks courage. A long forehead, on the other hand, indicates erudition, as is shown by means of an intelligent dog who has the honour of serving as a pendant to Plato’s profile. Persons with shaggy hair are good-natured, as they resemble the lion. He whose eyebrows are turned inwards, towards the nose, is uncleanly like the pig, which this resembles. The narrow chin of the ape signifies malice and envy. Long ears and thick lips, such as the donkey possesses, are signs of stupidity. A person who has a nose crooked from the forehead inclines, like the raven, to theft, etc. These animal-physiognomists appear to have favoured a thoroughly pessimistic view of man’s capacities, inasmuch as for every creditable resemblance they find at least ten discreditable ones.”

Apart from these puerilities, it is in most cases simply absurd to compare man with animals. Except in the case of apes there are no proper terms of comparison, because the types are so distinct; and, moreover, from the point of view of its own type, the average animal of any species is more beautiful than the average man or woman from the human point of view. This assertion is indirectly corroborated by Mr. Galton’s testimony, that “our human civilised 332stock is far more weakly through congenital imperfection than that of any other species of animals, whether wild or domestic.”

Schopenhauer considered animals beautiful in every way, and suggested that whenever we do find an animal ugly it is due to some irrelevant, inevitable association of ideas, as when a monkey suggests a man, or a toad mud. And Mr. Ruskin pertinently suggests that “That mind only is fully disciplined in its theoretic power which, when it chooses, throwing off the sympathies and repugnancies with which the ideas of destructiveness or of innocence accustom us to regard the animal tribes, as well as those meaner likes and dislikes which arise, I think, from the greater or less resemblance of animal powers to our own, can pursue the pleasures of typical beauty down to the scales of the alligator, the coils of the serpent, and the joints of the beetle.”

When Sir Charles Bell intimated that in Greek sculpture the guiding principle was remoteness from the animal type, he stated only one side of the truth, of which the other is thus noted by Winckelmann: among the Greeks, he says, “The study of artists in producing ideal beauties was directed to the nature of the nobler beasts, so that they not only instituted comparisons between the forms of the human countenance and the shape of the head of certain animals, but they even undertook to adopt from animals the means of imparting greater majesty and elevation to their statues ... especially in the heads of Hercules.” Jupiter’s head “has the complete aspect of the lion, the king of beasts, not only in the large, round eyes, in the fulness of the prominent, and, as it were, swollen forehead, and in the nose, but also in the hair, which hangs from his head like the mane of the lion, first rising upward from the forehead, and then, parting on each side into a bow, again falling downward.”

So that we may safely reject the theory that ugliness consists in an approach to the structure of the lower animals, whatever savages and Chinamen may think on this subject. Coarse minds little suspect what exquisite beauty is to be found in the head of a cow or a donkey, a puppy or a lamb—beauty which, like a lovely melody, may bring tears to the eyes of one who is sensitive to æsthetic impressions. Objectively considered, even the destructive emotions do not appear ugly in an animal. The ferocity of a lion does not make him appear vicious, because ferocity is his nature. He knows no better; can only live by fighting. But a man is disfigured by ferocity because he does know better; he can live without fighting; and it is the consciousness of his selfish meanness that puts the stamp of ugliness on his distorted features.

333In apes alone does fierceness seem ugly and brutal instead of sublime. For apes bear so much resemblance to us, and have a brain so superior in structure to that of other animals, that we feel justified in applying the human standard. Hence apes alone afford us a negative test of beauty. Their heads and faces are cast in our mould, and therefore afford the means of direct comparison. In looking at their massive, brutal jaws, their receding foreheads, their undifferentiated hands and feet, their coarse, hairy skin, their clumsy, inexpressive, gigantic mouths, their flat noses and nostrils open to the view, we are justified in calling them ugly, compared with ourselves, and in feeling proud that civilisation has gradually raised us so far above our country cousins, in beauty as in everything else, except the art of climbing trees.

(b) Savages are valuable as negative tests of beauty for the same reason: they enable us to see what progress we have made in refining our features into harmonious proportions, and making them susceptible of diverse emotional expression. It should be noted that Nature constantly endeavours to make primitive mankind beautiful, as it does with all other animals. Tourists constantly note the occurrence of remarkable instances of Personal Beauty among the young in most tribes. But this natural Beauty is not appreciated by the vulgar taste of savages, as we saw a few pages back in a case mentioned by Mr. Galton. Beauty must be distorted and exaggerated before it pleases the savage’s taste. Paint must be laid on an inch thick, the nose perforated and “adorned” with a ring, and ditto the abnormally lengthened lips. This corrects the notion that savage hideousness is a product of Nature. Nature may blunder, but never so sadly as in the appearance of a savage belle or warrior; and in scorning these we do not therefore scorn Nature, but merely the artificial products of the vulgar taste of primitive man.

(c) Degraded Classes.—Poverty, suffering, want of leisure for mental culture, want of money for sanitary modes of living, have, unfortunately, produced in all countries a large class in whom Personal Beauty occurs only as an accident. That such unhappy mortals afford a negative test of Beauty is seen by the fact that, just as savages are intermediate between monkeys and them, so they stand between savages and refined men in features and expression.

Poverty alone does not produce this vulgar type of personal appearance; it is intellectual indolence, moral vice, and hygienic indifference that are responsible for it. Hence this third negative teat of Beauty is not at all difficult to find in any sphere of 334society, from the hod-carrier to the aristocrat with a pedigree of a hundred generations. In every scale of the social ladder may be found “features seamed by sickness, dimmed by sensuality, convulsed by passion, pinched by poverty, shadowed by sorrow, branded with remorse; bodies consumed with sloth, broken down by labour, tortured by disease, dishonoured in foul uses; intellects without power, hearts without hope, minds earthly and devilish” (Ruskin).

(d) Age and Decrepitude.—It is not true, as a famous Frenchwoman has remarked, that age and beauty are incompatible terms. Even age and Love are not incompatible, as we saw in the chapter on Genius in Love; and Byron has remarked that Love, like the measles, is most dangerous when it comes late in life.

There is a special variety of Beauty for every period of life, and the Beauty of old age certainly is not the least attractive of these varieties. What could be more majestic, more admirable, than the head of a Longfellow in his last days? Provided health of mind and body has been maintained, even the folds in the cheeks, the wrinkles on the forehead of old age, are not unbeautiful. But when senility means decrepitude, brought on by a neglectful or otherwise vicious life, then it is positively ugly. The loveliest thing in the world is a fair and amiable maiden; the ugliest a vicious old hag—savages and apes not excepted.

(e) Disease.—Temperance preachers and other hygienic reformers commonly dwell too exclusively on the dangers to health, domestic peace, moral progress, and refinement which the indulgence in various vices entails. If they would insist with equal, or even greater, emphasis on the havoc which diseases brought on by intemperance and neglect of the laws of Health make on Personal Beauty, they would double their influence on their audiences or readers. For in woman’s heart the desire to be beautiful is and always will be the strongest motive to action or nonaction; nor are men, as a rule, much less interested in the matter of preserving a handsome appearance. It may make some impression on a man to tell him that if he takes ice-water before breakfast, or “cock-tails” at various odd hours on an empty stomach, he will ruin his digestion; but the impression will be six times as deep if you can convince him that he will ere long look like that confirmed dyspeptic Jones, with lack-lustre eyes, sallow complexion, and a general expression of premature senility, which accounts for the fact that he has been twice already refused by the girl he adores.

335Or take that girl over there who never takes a walk, always sleeps with her windows hermetically closed, and never allows a ray of sunshine to touch any part of her body. Tell her she is ruining her health and she may be momentarily alarmed by this vague warning, and walk half a mile for a week or so, until she has forgotten it. But make it clear to her what is the exact consequence of such neglect of the primal laws of health—namely, the premature loss of every trace of Personal Beauty and youthful charm, with old-maidenhood inevitably staring her in the face, owing to her apathetic appearance and gait, her sickly complexion, her features distorted by frequent headaches, brought on by lack of fresh, cool air—each of which leaves its permanent trace in the form of an addition to a wrinkle or subtraction from the plumpness of her cheeks,—tell her all this, and that her eyes will soon sink into their sockets and have blue rings like those of an invalid, and a ghastly stare—and she will, perhaps, be sufficiently roused to save her Health for the sake of her Beauty.

We are now confronted with the question, Why is it that disease is a mark of ugliness, health a mark of Beauty? The old Scotch school of æstheticians think it is all a matter of association. We consider certain forms characteristic of health as beautiful simply because we associate with them various emotions of affection, the pleasures of love, etc., and conversely with disease and vice. According to Stendhal, “La beauté n’est que la promesse du bonheur,” or, in American, Beauty is simply the promise of a “good time.” But it is Lord Jeffrey who, to use another appropriate American expression, “goes the whole hog” in this matter, by practically denying the existence of such a thing as a pure, disinterested, æsthetic sense. Suppose, he says, "that the smooth forehead, the firm cheek, and the full lip, which are now so distinctly expressive to us of the gay and vigorous periods of youth—and the clear and blooming complexion, which indicates health and activity—had been, in fact, the forms and colours by which old age and sickness were characterised; and that, instead of being found united to those sources and seasons of enjoyment, they had been the badges by which Nature pointed out that state of suffering and decay which is now signified to us by the livid and emaciated face of sickness, or the wrinkled front, the quivering lip, and hollow cheek of age; if this were the familiar law of our nature, can it be doubted that we should look upon these appearances, not with rapture, but with aversion, and consider it as absolutely ludicrous or disgusting to speak of the 336beauty of what was interpreted by every one as the lamented sign of pain and decrepitude?

“Mr. Knight himself, though a firm believer in the intrinsic beauty of colours, is so much of this opinion that he thinks it entirely owing to those associations that we prefer the tame smoothness and comparatively poor colours of a youthful face to the richly fretted and variegated countenance of a pimpled drunkard.”

Bosh! and a hundred times bosh! One feels that these men lived at a time when port was drunk by the bottle, like claret, and when variegated noses were to a certain extent fashionable.

Though every reader feels the sophistry and absurdity of the above argumentation, it is not easy to refute it. Professor Blackie declaims against it, Ruskin sneers at it, but nowhere have I been able to find a definite direct refutation of the thesis. The following suggestions may, therefore, be of some value.

In the first place, Jeffrey’s supposition is equivalent to saying that if black were white, white would be black. For if all the phenomena of human nature were reversed, our taste, being also a “phenomenon,” would be reversed too. If health meant emaciation, then a lover would not be happy unless he could kiss a pair of leathery lips and embrace a skeleton. Hence his sense of touch, like his sight, would have to be the reverse of what they are now; and that being the case, æsthetic taste, which is based on the senses, would of course be reversed too. But that is simply saying that if you stand a man on his head his feet will be in the air.

Secondly, Lord Jeffrey’s argument involves the old fallacy that the useful and the beautiful are identical—that we only consider those things beautiful which afford us some utilitarian gratification. If this theory were correct, a coal-boat would be more beautiful than a yacht; a savage’s big jaw-bone more beautiful than our delicate ones; a clumsy, dirty, coarse-featured labourer more beautiful than a society belle.

No; we have, thank heaven, an æsthetic sense which enables us to see and admire beauty quite independently of any “associations” which it may have with our utilitarian cravings. It is possible, however, and even probable, that the æsthetic sense was originally developed from utilitarian associations. On this subject Mr. Grant Allen has some exceedingly valuable remarks in his interesting work on the Colour-Sense. He there eloquently sets forth the view that it was the bright tints of luscious fruits that first taught primitive man to derive pleasure from the sight of 337coloured objects. This gradually led to a “predilection for brilliant dyes and glistening pebbles; till at last the whole series culminates in that intense and unselfish enjoyment of rich and pure tints which make civilised man linger so lovingly over the hues of sunset and the myriad shades of autumn.... The disinterested affection can only be reached by many previous steps of utilitarian progress.” But—and here lies the kernel of the argument—"fruit-eaters and flower-feeders derive pleasure from brilliant colours ... not because those colours have mental associations with their food, but because the structures which perceive them have been continually exercised and strengthened by hereditary use," until at last they formed a special nervous or cerebral apparatus which presides over impressions of beauty, and takes a special pleasure in its own activity, apart from all utilitarian considerations.

Lord Jeffrey apparently lacked this special æsthetic sense, as shown by his whole argument, and by his inability, which he shared with Alison, of finding beauty in Nature, unless it was in some way associated with man’s presence and man’s mean utilities.

How different this from the feelings of the man who of all writers on Beauty has the most highly developed æsthetic sense—Mr. Ruskin, who has just told us in his Autobiography that his love of Nature, ardent as it is, depends entirely on the wildness of the scenery, its remoteness from human influences and associations.

It is this specially-developed æsthetic taste that would prevent man from calling flabby cheeks, sallow complexions, pimpled noses, and sunken eyes beautiful, if by some miracle they should be changed into signs of health. For this sense of beauty was first educated not by the sight of human beauty, but of beauty in Nature—fruits, pebbles, shells, lustrous metals, etc.; and the notions of beauty thus obtained have been gradually transferred to human beings as standards of attractiveness. It can be shown that what the best judges pronounce the highest human beauty, is so because it partakes of certain characteristics which we find beautiful throughout Nature. And conversely, what we consider ugly in the human form and features would also be called ugly in external objects; in both cases, be it distinctly understood, without any direct reference to utilitarian considerations, and sometimes even in opposition to them, as in our admiration of a beautiful poisonous plant or snake, or a tiger.

It is these universal characteristics of Beauty, found in man as in animals, that we now have to consider. They are the positive 338criteria of Beauty, and may be regarded as a new set of “overtones” or leading motives for the remainder of this volume, although the old ones will occasionally reappear and combine with them.


Of these there are at least eight—Symmetry, Curvature, Gradation, Smoothness, Delicacy, Colour, Lustre, Expression, including Variety and Individuality.

(a) Symmetry.—"In all perfectly beautiful objects," says Mr. Ruskin, “there is found the opposition of one part to another, and a reciprocal balance obtained; in animals the balance being commonly between opposite sides (note the disagreeableness occasioned by the exception in flat fish, having the eyes on one side of the head); but in vegetables the opposition is less distinct, as in the boughs on opposite sides of trees, and the leaves and sprays on each side of the boughs, and in dead matter less perfect still, often amounting only to a certain tendency towards a balance, as in the opposite sides of valleys and alternate windings of streams. In things in which perfect symmetry is, from their nature, impossible or improper, a balance must be at least in some measure expressed before they can be beheld with pleasure.... Symmetry is the opposition of equal quantities to each other. Proportion the connection of unequal quantities with each other. The property of a tree in sending out equal boughs on opposite sides is symmetrical. Its sending out shorter and smaller towards the top, proportional. In the human face its balance of opposite sides is symmetry, its division upwards, proportion.”

Mr. Darwin thus gives his testimony as to the prevalence of symmetry in Nature: “If beautiful objects had been created solely for man’s gratification, it ought to be shown that before man appeared there was less beauty on the face of the earth than since he came on the stage. Were the beautiful volute and cone shells of the Eocene epoch, and the gracefully sculptured ammonites of the Secondary period, created that man might ages afterwards admire them in his cabinet? Few objects are more beautiful than the minute silicious cases of the diatomaceæ: were they created that they might be examined and admired under the higher powers of the microscope? The beauty in this latter case, and in many others, is apparently wholly due to symmetry of growth” (Origin of Species, chap. vi.)

In the floral world, again, the natural tendency is always towards symmetry. Wind-fertilised flowers are symmetrical in 339form; and “as Mr. Darwin has observed, there does not appeal to be a single instance of an irregular flower which is not fertilised by insects or birds” (Lubbock), and therefore modified in form in the effort to adapt itself to useful insects and to exclude pirates.

Throughout the animal kingdom, including man, this law of symmetry is true. Hence it is not likely that we should ever admire a lame leg, a crooked nose, bent on one side, eyes that are not mates, or a face several inches longer on one side than the other, owing to paralysis—as beautiful, even if, as Jeffrey would have it, Madame Nature should suddenly take it into her head to associate such abnormalities with health instead of with disease.

(b) Gradation.—On this law of Nature Mr. Ruskin again has spoken at once more scientifically and poetically than any other writer on æsthetics: "What curvature is to lines, gradation is to shades and colours.... For instances of the complete absence of gradation we must look to man’s work, or to his disease and decrepitude. Compare the gradated colours of the rainbow with the stripes of a target, and the gradual concentration of the youthful blood in the cheek with an abrupt patch of rouge, or with the sharply-drawn veining of old age.

“Gradation is so inseparable a quality of all natural shade and colour that the eye refuses in art to understand anything as either which appears without it; while, on the other hand, nearly all the gradations of nature are so subtile, and between degrees of tint so slightly separated, that no human hand can in any wise equal, or do anything more than suggest the idea of them.”

The following remarks which the same writer makes in another place concerning Gradation show at the same time how asinine it is for a savage or any other person of uncultivated taste to set himself up as a judge of Personal Beauty, as good as any one else, on the plea that it is all “a matter of taste” and de gustibus non est disputandum:—

“When the eye is quite uncultivated, it sees that a man is a man, and a face is a face, but has no idea what shadows or lights fall upon the form or features. Cultivate it to some degree of artistic power, and it will then see shadows distinctly, but only the more vigorous of them. Cultivate it still further, and it will see light within light, and shadow within shadow, and will continually refuse to rest in what it has already discovered, that it may pursue what is more removed and more subtle, until at last it comes to give its chief attention and display its chief power on gradations which to an untrained faculty are partly matters of indifference and partly imperceptible.”

340The words italicised enable us to appreciate what Sokrates must have had in his mind when he distinguished between that which is beautiful and that which only appears beautiful. Æsthetic training enables us to see things as they are, instead of as they appear through inattention, through ignorance, or through clouds of national prejudice, or individual utilitarianism.

The way in which æsthetic training enables us to see gradations of beauty previously imperceptible can be most strikingly illustrated in the case of music. There are thousands of intelligent folks who cannot tell the difference between a superb Steinway Grand, just timed for a concert, and a harsh, clangy, mountain-hotel piano that has not been tuned for two years. But give these persons a thorough musical education, and they will soon be able to smile at Jeffrey’s notion that the tone of the hotel-piano was quite as beautiful as that of the Steinway, because it seemed so to them. It is not only the imagination but the senses themselves that require training. A Hottentot or any unmusical person cannot tell the difference between two consecutive tones on the piano, whereas a skilled musician can detect all the gradations from one tone to another, down to the sixty-fourth part of a semitone!

“It is all a matter of taste!” Precisely. Of good taste and bad taste.

Examples of gradation in the human form are the gradual tapering of the limbs and the fingers, the exquisite line from the female neck to the shoulders and the bosom, the blushes on the cheeks, so long as they do not assume the form of a hectic flush, and the delicate tints of the complexion in general, varying with emotional states, according as the veins and arteries are more or less filled with the vital fluid.

Is it then “entirely owing to their associations” with health or disease that we prefer the complexion of a youthful face to the hideous daubs of red which Knight refers to as the “richly fretted and variegated countenance of a pimpled drunkard”? Is it owing to such associations that we prefer the delicately gradated blushes of coloured marble to the richly bedaubed countenance of a pimpled brickbat? But it would be a waste of time to refer again to the crude anti-æsthetic notions of Messrs. Knight, Alison, and Jeffrey.

One more exquisite illustration of subtle gradation in the human form divine may be cited from Winckelmann:—

“The soul, though a simple existence, brings forth at once, and in an instant, many different ideas; so it is with the beautiful youthful outline, which appears simple, and yet at the same time has 341infinitely different variations, and that soft tapering which is difficult of attainment in a column, is still more so in the diverse forms of the youthful body. Among the innumerable kinds of columns in Rome some appear pre-eminently elegant on account of this very tapering; of these I have particularly noted two of granite, which I am always studying anew: just so rare is a perfect form, even in the most beautiful youth, which has a stationary point in our sex still less than in the female.”

(c) Curvature.—"That all forms of acknowledged beauty are composed exclusively of curves will," Mr. Ruskin believes, “be at once allowed; but that which there will be need more especially to prove, is the subtility and constancy of curvature in all natural forms whatsoever. I believe that, except in crystals, in certain mountain forms admitted for the sake of sublimity or contrast (as in the slope of debris), in rays of light, in the levels of calm water and alluvial land, and in some few organic developments, there are no lines or surfaces of nature without curvature, though, as we before saw in clouds, more especially in their under lines towards the horizon, and in vast and extended plains, right lines are often suggested which are not actual. Without these we should not be sensible of the value of contrasting curves; and while, therefore, for the most part, the eye is fed in natural forms with a grace of curvature which no hand nor instrument can follow, other means are provided to give beauty to those surfaces which are admitted for contrast, as in water by its reflection of the gradations which it possesses not itself.”

In a footnote to the last edition of the Modern Painters he adds regarding the apparent exceptions named: “Crystals are indeed subject to rectilinear limitations, but their real surfaces are continually curved; the level of calm water is only right lined when it is shoreless.”

On the other hand, “Generally in all ruin and disease, and interference of one order of being with another (as in the cattle line of park trees), the curves vanish, and violently opposed or broken and unmeaning lines take their place.” I feel tempted to cite another most admirable passage on curvature throughout Nature—even where it is least looked for, and the untrained eye cannot see it—in the shattered walls and crests of mountains which “seem to rise in a gloomy contrast with the soft waves of bank and wood beneath.” But it is too long to quote, and I can only advise the reader most earnestly to look it up in chapter xiv. vol. iv.

“Straight lines,” Professor Bain observes, “are rendered artistic 342only by associations of power, regularity, fitness, etc.” “In some situations straight lines are æsthetic.... In the human figure there underlies the curved outline a certain element of rigidity and straightness, indicating strength in the supporting limbs and spine. Whenever firmness is required, there must be a solid structure, and straightness of form is a frequent accompaniment of solidity. The straight nose and the flat brow are subsidiary to the movement and the stability of the face.”

Yet even our straight limbs follow in their motions the law of curvature. And to this fact that they move more easily and naturally in a curved than in a straight line, which requires laborious adjustment, Bain traces part of our superior pleasure in rounded lines.

What infinite subtlety and variety Curvature is capable of is vividly brought before the eyes by Winckelmann: “The forms of a beautiful body are determined by lines the centre of which is constantly changing, and which, if continued, would never describe circles. They are, consequently, more simple, but also more complex, than a circle, which, however large or small it may be, always has the same centre, and either includes others or is included in others. This diversity was sought after by the Greeks in works of all kinds; and their discernment of its beauty led them to introduce the same system even into the form of their utensils and vases, whose easy and elegant outline is drawn after the same rule, that is, by a line which must be found by means of several circles, for all these works have an elliptical figure, and herein consists their beauty. The greater unity there is in the junction of the forms, and in the flowing of one out of another, so much the greater is the beauty of the whole.”

Masculine and Feminine Beauty.—The universality of curvature as a form of beautiful objects throughout nature and art is of importance in helping us to determine the question which is the more beautiful form, a perfect man or a perfect woman—an Apollo or a Venus? A Venus, no doubt. In those qualities which are subsumed under the terms of the sublime or the characteristic—in strength, manly dignity, intellectual power, majesty—the masculine type, no doubt, is superior to the feminine. But in Beauty proper—in the roundness and delicacy of contours, in the smoothness of complexion and its subtle gradations of colour, in the symmetrical roundness and lustrous expressiveness of the eyes—the feminine type is pre-eminent.

“Woman,” says Professor Kollmann, “is smaller, more delicate, but also softer and more graceful (schwungvoller) in form, in her 343breasts, hips, thighs, and calves. No line on her body is short and sharply angular; they all swell, or vault themselves in a gentle curve.... The neck and the rounded shoulders are connected by gracefully curved lines, whereas a man’s neck is placed more at a right angle to the more straight and angular shoulders.... The hair is softer, the skin more tender and transparent. All the forms are more covered over with adipose tissue, and connected by those gradual transitions which produce the gently rounded outlines; whereas in a man everything—muscles, sinews, blood-vessels, bones—is more conspicuous.”

Schopenhauer, accordingly, was clearly in the wrong when he endeavoured to make out that man is vastly superior to woman in physical beauty,—a notion which Professor Huxley, too, does not appear to disapprove of very violently. At the same time it is, no doubt, true that there are more good specimens of masculine beauty in most countries than of feminine beauty; true also that man’s beauty lasts much longer than woman’s. A boy is more beautiful than a girl under sixteen, for the very reason that his form is more like that of an adult woman than a girl’s is. From eighteen to twenty-five woman is more beautiful than man; while after thirty, owing to the almost universal neglect of the laws of health—women are apt to become either too rotund, which ruins their grace and delicacy, or too angular—more angular than a man under fifty.

(d) Delicacy and Grace.—The difference between masculine and feminine beauty and the superiority of the latter is also indirectly brought out in Burke’s remarks on Delicacy, which, though open to criticism in one or two points, are on the whole admirable and exhaustive:—

"An air of robustness and strength is very prejudicial to beauty. An appearance of delicacy, and even of fragility, is almost essential to it. Whoever examines the vegetable or animal creation will find this observation to be founded in nature. It is not the oak, the ash, or the elm, or any of the robust trees of the forest which we consider as beautiful; they are awful and majestic, they inspire a sort of reverence. It is the delicate myrtle, it is the orange, it is the almond, it is the jasmine, it is the vine, which we look on as vegetable beauties. It is the flowery species, so remarkable for its weakness and momentary duration, that gives us the liveliest idea of beauty and elegance. Among animals the greyhound is more beautiful than the mastiff, and the delicacy of a jennet, a barb, or an Arabian horse is much more amiable than the strength and stability of some horses of war or carriage.

344“I need here say little of the fair sex, where I believe the point will be easily allowed me. The beauty of women is considerably owing to their weakness or delicacy, and is even enhanced by their timidity, a quality of mind analogous to it. I would not here be understood to say that weakness betraying very bad health has any share in beauty; but the ill effect of this is not because it is weakness, but because the ill state of health, which produces such weakness, alters the other conditions of beauty; the parts in such a case collapse, the bright colour, the lumen purpureum juventæ is gone, and the fine variation is lost in wrinkles, sudden breaks, and right lines.”

Delicacy is a quality closely related to grace, or beauty in motion and attitude. “Grace,” says Dr. J. A. Symonds, “is a striking illustration of the union of the two principles of similarity and variety. For the secret of graceful action is that the symmetry is preserved through all the varieties of position.” This is well put; but the first condition and essence of grace is that there must be an exact correspondence between the work done and the limb which does it. The attitude of an oak-trunk, with nothing on the top but a geranium bush, however symmetrical, would always be ungraceful, owing to the ludicrous disproportion between the support and the thing supported. Conversely, a weak fern-stalk, trying to support a branch of heavy cactus leaves, would be equally ungraceful; for there must be neither a waste of energy nor a sense of effort. Part of this feeling may perhaps be traced to sympathy—thus showing how various emotions enter into our æsthetic judgments, sometimes weakening, sometimes strengthening them. As Professor Bain remarks, à propos: “We love to have removed from our sight every aspect of suffering, and none more so than the suffering of toil.”

Grace is almost as powerful to inspire Love as Beauty itself. Women know this instinctively, and in order to acquire the Delicacy which leads to grace, they deprive their bodies of air and sunshine and strengthening sleep, hoping thereby to acquire artificially, through ill-health, what Nature has denied them. Fortunately such violations of the laws of health always frustrate their object. Delicacy conjoined with Health inspires Love, but delicacy born of disease inspires only pity—a feeling which may inspire in a woman what she imagines is Love, but in a man never.

(e) Smoothness is another attribute of Beauty on which Burke was the first to place proper emphasis: It is, he says, “a quality so essential to beauty that I do not recollect anything beautiful that is not smooth. In trees and flowers, smooth leaves 345are beautiful; smooth slopes of earth in gardens; smooth streams in the landscape; smooth coats of birds and beasts in animal beauties; in fine women, smooth skins; and in seve