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Title: The Sexual Life of Our Time in Its Relations to Modern Civilization

Author: Iwan Bloch

Translator: Eden Paul

Release date: December 19, 2019 [eBook #60968]
Most recently updated: April 4, 2024

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Turgut Dincer, Harry Lamé and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at (This book was produced from images made available by the HathiTrust Digital Library.)


Please see the Transcriber’s Notes at the end of this text.







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The author’s aim in writing this book was to write a complete Encyclopædia on the sexual sciences, and it will probably be acknowledged by all who study its pages that the author has accomplished his intention in a very scholarly manner, and in such form as to be of great value to the professions for whom this translation is intended. The subject is no doubt one which appeals to and affects the interests of all adult persons, but the publishers have, after very serious and careful consideration, come to the conclusion that the sale of the English translation of the book shall be limited to members of the legal and medical professions. To both these professions it is essential that a knowledge of the science of Sex and the various causes for the existence of “abnormals” should be ascertained, so that they may be guided in the future in their investigations into, and the practice of attempts to mitigate, the evil which undoubtedly exists, and to bring about a more healthy class of beings. It is the first time that the subject has been so carefully and fully gone into in the English language, and it is believed that the very exhaustive examination which the author has made into the matter, and the various cases to which he has called attention, will be of considerable use to the medical practitioner, and also to the lawyer in criminal and quasi-criminal matters, and probably in matrimonial disputes and cases of insanity.





Page 189, note, line 2, for “Classes in Antiquity,” read “Age Classes.”

Page 361, line 1, forinflammation of the retina,” readsyphilitic iritis.”

Page 361, line 2, for “retina,” read “iris.”

Page 446, lines 6 and 7 from foot, forreflection,” readreflective.”

Page 481, note 493, line 5, for “Classes of Antiquity,” read “Age Classes.”

Page 485, line 17, for “Classes of Antiquity,” read “Age Classes.”

Page 548, note 577, line 1, for “Classes in Antiquity,” read “Age Classes.”

Page 747, lines 21 and 24, for “divorce,” read “adultery.”



It seems at first sight as if Nature had endowed man with the procreative impulse solely with a view to the preservation of the species, and regardless of the individual; and yet it is undeniable that in the high estimation of this impulse the individual was not forgotten.” (“On the Art of Attaining an Advanced Age,” vol. i., p. 2; Berlin, 1813).



The two constituents of modern love — The purposes of the species and the purposes of the individual — Insufficiency of the former for the understanding of love — The individualization of love through the process of civilization — The organic interconnexion between the bodily and the mental manifestations of love — Possibilities of future development — Victory of the love of civilized man over the elemental force of the sexual impulse — Our own time a turning-point in the history of love.



The sexuality of the modern civilized man—the sum, that is to say, of the phenomena of sexual love dependent upon and associated with the sexual impulse—is the result of a process of development lasting many thousands of years. Therein, as in a mirror, we may see an accurate reflection of all the phases of the bodily and mental history of the human race. Anyone who wishes to understand modern love in all its complexity must, in the first place, succeed in informing himself, not merely regarding the first foundations of the feeling of love in the grey primeval age, but, in addition, as to the manner in which that feeling has been transformed and enriched in the course of the history of civilization. For modern love is a complex of two constituents.

The word “love” is applicable to the sexual impulse of human beings only. Its use implies that in the case of man the purely animal feelings have acquired an importance far greater than that of subserving the purposes of mere reproduction, and aim at a goal transcending that of the preservation of the species. The nature of human love can be understood and explained only with reference to this intimate and inseparable union of its purposes in respect of the preservation of the species and its independent significance in the life of the loving individual himself. Herein is to be found the starting-point of the whole so-called “sexual problem,” and it is necessary that the matter should be clearly understood at the outset of this book. In earlier days human love was mainly concerned with the purposes of the species. Modern civilized man, conceiving history as progress in the consciousness of freedom, has also come to recognize the profound individual significance of love for his own inward growth, for the proper development of his free manhood. To quote a phrase from Georg Hirth, a cultured modern writer, the genuine experienced love of a civilized man of the present day is one of the “ways to freedom.” By love is made manifest, and through love is developed, his inmost individual nature. For this reason Schopenhauer’s “Metaphysik der Geschlechtsliebe” (“Metaphysic of Sexual Love”), which wholly ignores this individual factor, must be regarded, brilliant as it unquestionably is, as a quite inadequate explanation of the nature of love. Again, a recent writer, Arnold Lindwurm, greatly influenced by Schopenhauer’s teaching, in the introduction to his work entitled “Ueber die[4] Geschlechtsliebe in sozial-ethische Beziehung” (“Sexual Love in its Socio-Ethical Relations”), writes: “The fruit of love, children, and marriage as a domestic institution indispensable for the upbringing of children—these constitute the author’s ethical criterion in the field of sexual research; these also form the socio-ethical goal of all sexual love, inasmuch as the sole standard by which sexual love can be judged is the procreation and upbringing of children.” We, however, at the very outset, contest the validity of such a standpoint, for we consider that it fails entirely to do justice to the nature of modern love. For the history of the human sexual impulse teaches us beyond dispute that, in the course of the development of the human species, that impulse, through its progressive association with intellectual and emotional elements to form the complex whole designated by the term “love,” has undergone a progressive individualization, and has attained a more defined significance for the unitary human being. At the present day sexual love constitutes a part of the very being of the civilized man; his sexual life clearly reflects his individual nature, and love influences his development in an enduring manner.

Love conjoins in a quite unique way the two principal classes of vital manifestations—the lower vegetative and the higher animal life; and it thus constitutes the highest and the most intense expression of the unity of life (Schopenhauer’s “focus of the will;” Weismann’s “continuity of the germ-plasma”).

Whoever wishes to understand the developmental tendencies of love as they manifest themselves at the present day in the course of human history, whoever desires to grasp how remarkably love has been developed, enriched, and ennobled in the course of civilization, must at the outset gain a clear understanding of this apparently dualistic, but in reality thoroughly monistic, nature of the passion.

The matter may be expressed also in this way—that he who has scientifically investigated love, who has based his conception of it philosophically, and has personally experienced it, will become a convinced monist in relation to life, at least, and to the organic world, and will be compelled to regard every dualistic division into a physical and a spiritual sphere as something quite artificial. In love above all is manifested this mystery of the life force, as for centuries the poets, the artists, and the metaphysicians have declared, and more especially as the great natural philosophers of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries have proved—above all Charles Darwin and Ernst Haeckel. There is, indeed, no more[5] happily chosen metaphor, none that better describes the fundamentally monistic nature of love, than the saying of the old æsthetic J. G. Sulzer—that love is a tree, that it has its roots in the physical sphere, but that its branches extend high above the physical world, expanding more and more, branching more and more abundantly into the sphere of the spiritual.[1] It is certainly impossible to find a more appropriate comparison. Thereby we show clearly the intimate organic connexion between the physical and spiritual phenomena of love; it is rooted for ever in Mother Earth, but it grows always upwards into the subtle ether. Just as the arborescence of the tree has a richer, more manifold, more extensive development than the root, so also it is in the spiritual form that love is first capable of extending upwards and in all directions, compared with which its physical capacity for development is minimal and strictly limited. But just as the arborescence of the tree grows from, and is supplied with nutriment by, the root, so also the higher love is inevitably founded upon a sensory basis. Even while love becomes spiritually richer, it remains as irrevocably as ever dependent upon the physical.[2]

To put the matter briefly, the future developmental possibilities of human love rest purely in the spiritual sphere, but they are inseparably connected with the far less variable physical phenomena of sexuality.

Upon the development, the configuration, and the differentiation, of the spiritual elements of sexual love are alone based the intimate relations of love with the process of civilization. This fact is again reflected in the manifold phases of the evolution of the sentiment of love.

For the human spirit in the course of its development has become not merely lord of the earth and of the elementary forces of Nature: it has become also lord and master, interpreter and guide, of the sexual impulse; for this impulse owes to the human spirit its new and peculiar life, its life capable of further development as manifested in the history of human love. The history of love is the history of mankind, of civilization. For love manifests a continual progress, which can be denied by those only who have failed to understand the deep significance of human love in the entire civilized life of all times, and who, observing the persistence[6] of the primeval and ever-active sexual impulse, elemental in its nature, are led only to a hopeless doubt as to the possibility of all love, and thus justify the pessimism with which Schopenhauer has condemned the significance of human sexual love. Undoubtedly this elemental impulse persists for ever, and to follow it alone leads to death, to utter desolation, to nothingness, as Tolstoi, Strindberg, and Weininger, the bitter opponents of modern “love,” have so vehemently declared. But did these men know true love? Had they become conscious of the inevitable necessity with which civilization in the course of ages and generations had transformed the human sexual impulse into love as it now exists, transformed it in so manifold and so wonderful a way? Had they any idea of the development of love, and of its place and its significance in history?

Let them believe this, these doubting and despairing souls—nothing has been destroyed of all the spiritual relations, of all the wonderful possibilities of development, which have manifested themselves in the course of the long and varied history of the evolution of love. To describe this evolution, it is necessary to draw attention to all those elements of civilization which remain at present influential in love, but it is further indispensable to forecast their future development. Once again we stand at an important turning-point in the history of love. The old separates itself from the new, the better will once more be the enemy of the good. But love regarded, as it must now be regarded, in its inner nature, as a sexual impulse most perfectly and completely infused with a spiritual content, will remain the inalienable gain of civilization; it will stand forth ever purer and more promotive of happiness, like a mirror of marvellous clearness, wherein is reflected a peculiar and accurate picture of the successive epochs of civilization.

[1] The natural philosopher Kielmeyer, the teacher of Cuvier, also compared the genital organs with the root, the brain with the arborescence, of a tree. Cf. Arthur Schopenhauer, “New Paralipomena” (Grisebach’s edition, p. 217).

[2] Eduard von Hartmann points out very effectively that “an assumed love without sensuality is merely a fleshless and bloodless phantom of the creative imagination” (“Philosophy of the Unconscious,” sixth edition, p. 196; Berlin, 1874).



The critical natural philosopher conceives this process, this ‘crown of love,’ in a very matter-of-fact manner, as the process of conjugation of two cells and the coalescence of their nuclei.”—Ernst Haeckel.



The well-spring of love — The conjugation of the germinal cells as the simplest expression of the nature of the sexes — The active masculine and the passive feminine principles of sexuality — Their representation in ancient mythology — The significance of sexual procreation — The most important principle of progressive development — The significance of sexual differentiation — The development of heterosexuality — Vestiges of an original hermaphroditic state in men and women — New acquisitions — The hymen — Metchnikoff’s hypothesis of the original significance of the hymen — The “third sex” — The attainment of perfection by means of progressive sexual differentiation — The increase in the intensity of the sexual attractive force in the course of human evolution — Its cause — Explanation of Paul Rée — Theory of Havelock Ellis — Elementary psychical phenomena of love — A sensation analogous to one of smell — Theories of Steffens, Haeckel, and Kröner — The specific sexual odours of the capryl group — Odoriferous glands in animals and human beings — An example from Southern Slavonic folk-lore — The position of the nose in relation to the genital system — The sexual rôle of artificial perfumes — Origin of the latter — Reduction in size of the organ of smell in the human species — Primary and secondary elements in human sexuality — Bölsche’s “fusion-love” and “distance-love” — Their different significance.



The mystery of sexual love, of this “wonder of life,” from which both religious belief and artistic inspiration have drawn and continue to draw the major part of their force, may ultimately be referred to a single phenomenon in the sexuality of the great group of metazoa to which the major part of the animal world and the human species belong. This process is a conjugation of the female germ cell with the male sperm cell—the “well-spring of love,” to use Haeckel’s expression; in comparison with this conjugation, all other spiritual and physical phenomena, however complicated, are of a subordinate and secondary nature. From this primitive organic process of reciprocal attraction and conjugation of the two reproductive cells has arisen the entire complex of the remaining physical and spiritual phenomena of love. We have, in this process of cell conjugation, a picture in little of love, a greatly simplified representation of the nature of the relations between man and woman; moreover, the highest and the finest psychical experiences and impressions occurring under the influence of love are ultimately no more than the results of this “erotic chemotropism” of the sperm and germ cells.

Sexual differentiation existed already as a natural product in the early stages of organic evolution, and civilization has done no more than develop, increase, and refine that differentiation, which is typified in a manner at once simple and convincing—because directly visible—in the male sperm cell and the female germ cell. Herein the specific sexual differences are made visibly manifest.

Procreation results from the approach of the male sperm cell towards the female germ cell, and from the entrance of the former into the latter.

Thus, the sperm cell represents the active, the germ cell the passive, principle in sexuality. Already in this most important act in the process of procreation the natural relations between man and woman are very clearly manifested. This fact is clearly grasped already in the mythology and the sepulchral symbolism of antiquity. In these the man is always represented as the active principle; woman, on the contrary, as the passive principle.

“Peace reigns in the ovum, but when driven by the desire of creation the masculine god breaks through the shell and begins his work of fertilization, everything at once becomes movement, restless haste,[10] impulsive force, unending circulation. Thus the male generative principle appears as the representative and embodiment of movement in the visible act of creation.... The active principle in Nature appears to be identical with the principle of motion.... Winged is the phallus, quiescent the female; the man is the principle of movement, and the woman the principle of repose; force is the cause of eternal change, woman the picture of eternal repose; for which reason the ‘earth-mother’ is almost always depicted in a sitting posture” (Bachofen).

The appearance of sexual reproduction in the history of the evolution of the organic world is an especially instructive example of the great importance of differentiation and variation as the most effective principle of evolution in general. The lowliest forms of life reproduce their kind in an extremely simple manner by a process of asexual cell division, which has not improperly been regarded as nothing more than a peculiar form of growth; and this simple process of cell division is retained as a mode of growth also in the higher organisms which reproduce their kind by sexual union. In some cases of simple cell division the secondary cell, the “daughter cell,” separates itself from the old cell, the “mother cell,” and forms a new complete individual; in other cases the cell division occurs as gemmiparous reproduction (budding or pululation), the daughter cell remaining united with the mother cell, so that a new organ is built up. Reproduction by cell division is found in many plants and lower animals side by side with sexual reproduction. This latter becomes the exclusive method of production in higher animals and in the human species, whose capacity for the procreation of new individuals by cell division, and for the replacement of lost organs by growth, has been lost. Thus, the progress and the gain which on the one hand are derived from the process of sexual reproduction, whose character we are about to investigate more closely, are balanced on the other hand by a loss. We shall often encounter this fact again in the history of the evolution of the sexual impulse, more especially in mankind and in relation to human love.

With the evolution of sexual reproduction is introduced the opportunity for a great step forward, since an incomparably greater sphere of action is opened to the differentiation and variability of specific forms than was possible in the case of species reproduced asexually (Kerner von Marilaun, R. Martin). By means of the sexual union of two differing independent individuals, each of which, again, has been brought into the world by the sexual union of two differing individuals, the way is freely opened for a progressive differentiation of the individuals of this species. No one of them is exactly similar to any other. Each one exhibits[11] new peculiarities, new capabilities, and all of these play their part in the struggle for existence. This gradually results in a progress towards higher, better, more perfect forms. The persistence of specific type, due to inheritance, is largely counteracted by sexual reproduction, inasmuch as the conjugation of reproductive cells derived from two different individuals induces a tendency to progressive variation and improvement. Moreover, by this sexual mode of reproduction the preservation of the species is rendered much more secure than by asexual reproduction, whilst at the same time the possibility of differentiation or variation is indubitably increased. We have already insisted on the fact that in the striking difference between the sperm cell of the male and the germ cell of the female we must seek for the ultimate cause of the profound difference between the sexes. Those who maintain the theory of the absolute identity of man and woman must continually be reminded of this fact. Unquestionably the greater motility of the male reproductive cell as compared with the more passive quality of the female cell implies the existence of deeply founded psychical differences; and the existence of these may be assumed with more confidence since we know from experience to what a high degree the finest psychical peculiarities of father and mother can be transmitted by inheritance to the child.

For this reason, all attempts, whether initiated by some natural process or by some intentional guidance of the process of civilization, towards the obliteration of the distinction between the specific masculine and the specific feminine, must be regarded as futile, and as antagonistic to the process of development. The production of the so-called “third sex” is unquestionably a step backwards. For bisexual differentiation is an advance upon the more primitive form of sexual differentiation in which both the male and the female sexual elements were produced by a single individual (hermaphroditism). In the phylogeny of the human species unilateral sexual reproduction gave place to the bilateral type, the reproductive elements being formed within the bodies of two distinct individuals—the sperm cells within the body of the male, the germ cells within the body of the female. In this manner originated the contrast between the individuals of the two sexes, or bisexual differentiation, which, in the course of phylogenetic development, has become continually more definite, more extensive, and more characteristic, through the operation of the principle of sexual selection; and thus by inheritance and adaptation the mental and physical characteristics of sexuality, primitive and superadded, have gradually become defined and fixed.[12] In the higher ranks of the animal kingdom and in the human species, this heterosexuality has, through inheritance, become continually more sharply defined; but the traces of the primitive hermaphroditic state have never been wholly obliterated. Love in the human species is manifested by pairing. Such is the normal condition, and the only condition in harmony with the progressive tendency towards perfection. But remnants of hermaphroditism, of bisexuality in a single individual, of the “third sex,” are to be found in every human being, and are disclosed by embryology and comparative anatomy in the form of vestiges of female reproductive organs in the male and of male reproductive organs in the female. Herein exists an indisputable proof of the originally hermaphrodite nature of the human ancestry. But these female organs in the male body, and their converse, the male organs in the female body, are stunted, are rudiments merely; whereas in the course of evolution the masculine reproductive organs of the male and the feminine reproductive organs of the female have been more and more powerfully developed, and more and more sharply differentiated in type, until they have come to constitute the expression of the specific differences between man and woman. They alone represent the more advanced stage. Moreover, these vestiges of an early hermaphroditic condition are in the human species far less extensive than in other mammals; and the sexual discrepancy in the human species, as compared with the lower animals, becomes still more noticeable when we take into account the fact that certain parts of the reproductive system are peculiar to mankind, are new acquisitions, and, above all, the hymen, which is non-existent even in the anthropoid apes.

The original purpose of the hymen, which unquestionably must at the time of its appearance have represented an evolutionary advance, is still undetermined. Metchnikoff has propounded an interesting hypothesis on this subject. According to him, it is very probable that human beings, during the earliest period of human history, began sexual relations at an extremely youthful age, at a time when the external genital organs of the boy were not yet fully developed. In such a case the hymen would not only have been no hindrance to the act of copulation, but rather, by narrowing the vaginal outlet, and thus accommodating its size to the relatively too small penis of the male, would have rendered pleasure in sexual intercourse possible. In such cases, moreover, the hymen would not have been brutally lacerated, but gradually dilated. Laceration of the hymen represents a later and secondary phenomenon.


It is a fact that, even at the present day, among many primitive races, marriages commonly take place in childhood, and it is further true that even in civilized races in a considerable number of cases (15 per cent., according to Budin) the hymen is not always lacerated during sexual intercourse, but is retained; thus some support is given to Metchnikoff’s hypothesis.

It is unquestionable that evolution and the progress of civilization have resulted in an extremely marked differentiation between the two sexes, and for this reason the formation of a so-called “third sex,” in which these sexual differences are obscured, can only be regarded as a markedly retrogressive step. Ernst von Wolzogen, in a well-known romance, to which he gave the name of “The Third Sex,” described a kind of barren, stunted woman, capable, however, of holding her own at work in competition with men; but in our opinion such women represent merely a stage of transition in the great battle of women for the independent, free development of their peculiar personality. Such types as these are certainly not the final goal of the woman’s movement; they are caricatures, products of a false and extreme conception of woman’s development. This “third sex,” which Schurtz very justly compares to the stunted, barren workers among ants and bees, is incapable of prolonged existence, and will give place to a new generation of women, who, while fully retaining their specific feminine peculiarities, will share with men the rights and duties of the great work of civilization; and thus this work will unquestionably be enriched by a number of new and fruitful elements.

It is indeed possible that this “third sex,” that hermaphrodites, homosexual individuals, sexual “intermediate stages,” also play a certain part in the great process of civilization. But their significance is slight and limited, if for this reason alone because from these individuals the possibility of transmission by inheritance of valuable peculiarities is cut off, and hence the possibility of a future perfectibility, of true “progress,” is excluded. There are two sexes only on which every true advance in civilization depends—the genuine man and the genuine woman. All other varieties are ultimately no more than phantoms, monstrosities, vestiges of primitive sexual conditions.

Very ably has Mantegazza described the intimate relationship between these dreams of the “third sex” and the fantastic aberration of the sexual impulse. He writes:

“While the pathology of love recognizes in many sexual aberrations the obscure traces of a general hermaphroditism, imagination, which works faster than science, shows us the possibility that in more complicated[14] creations sexual differentiation might be more than twofold, so that in such worlds sexual reproduction might be effected by a more elaborate division of labour. Thus, in the cynical or sceptical distinction between platonic, sexual, and licentious love, we see the first traces of new and monstrous possibilities of sexual union, on the one hand reflecting the sublimity of the supersensual, and on the other more brutal than the most horrible sexual aberration.”

In reality, it is only for normal heterosexual love between a normal man and a normal woman that it is possible to find an unimpeachable sanction. Only this love, continually more differentiated and more individualized, will play a part in the future course of civilization.

Heterosexuality arises from the reciprocal attraction and the coalescence of the reproductive cells of two individuals of distinct sexes; it forms the foundation and constitutes the most important element of the sexual relations of the higher animal world and of the human species; and it obtains through inheritance continually a more sharply defined expression. Since this fundamental phenomenon of the sexual impulse has been transmitted from the most ancient and simplest forms of the organic world and has been modified only in the direction of heterosexuality, it has come to pass, as Ewald Hering says at the end of his celebrated lecture on “Memory as a General Function of Organic Matter,” that organic matter has the strongest memory of the impulse of conjugation in its most ancient and most primitive form; thus this impulse at the present day continues to dominate mankind as an intensely powerful physical imperative, endowed with the strength of an elemental force, which, notwithstanding the gradually higher development of the brain, has remained during thousands of years undiminished in its potency, and indeed by the accumulative influence extending through thousands of generations has acquired a notable increase in intensity. We must assume that for untold generations always those animals and men have had the most numerous descendants in whom the sexual impulse was the most powerful; this powerful impulse being inherited, was transmitted once more to the next generation, and tended by natural selection continually to increase.

This explanation of the indisputable gradual increase in the intensity of the sexual impulse, first given by the moral philosopher Paul Rée, is more illuminating than the theory propounded by Havelock Ellis of the increase of the sexual impulse by civilization, which was long ago maintained by Lucretius (“De Rerum Naturâ,” V. 1016). In support of this latter theory, it is asserted that among savage people the genital organs are less[15] powerfully developed than among civilized races, but this can by no means be regarded as an established fact. Civilization has done no more than cause a fuller development of all sides of sexual love by a multiplication of physical and psychical stimuli; but it appears extremely doubtful if civilization itself is to be regarded as the immediate causal influence in the increase of the intensity of the sexual impulse.

Having studied the elementary phenomena of human love dependent upon the phylogenetic history of the human race, namely the union of the male and female reproductive cells, the question now arises as to the nature of the psychical processes, the character of the sensations that accompany this union of the sperm cells and the germ cells. What is the most primitive psychical elementary phenomenon of love?

It is apparently that sensation in which the actual contact of the psyche with the material occurs—an immediate sensation of the nature of matter—namely, the sense of smell. The metaphysical significance of the sense of smell has been aptly indicated by describing that sense as the “sublimated thing-in-itself,” as a sense which, like no other sense, allows us to enter immediately into the nature of matter; it is, in fact, the sense of personality.

“Smell,” says Heinrich Steffens, “is the principal sense of the higher animals; it represents for them their own inner world; it envelops their existence. Upon smell, wherein sympathy and antipathy are represented, is based the whole security of the higher animal instinct; for carnal desire is comprehended in this sense.... Indeed, in sexual union the subjective sensation which is developed by means of smell blends completely with the objective, and from the monistic union of the two arises the intenser libido, wherein the unfathomableness of the procreative force and the whole power of sex are absorbed.”

Ernst Haeckel ascribes to the two sexual cells a kind of inferior psychical activity; he believes that they experience a sensation of one another’s proximity; and indeed it is probably a form of sensory activity analogous to the sense of smell that draws them together. The sensation of the two sexual cells, which Haeckel believes to be situated especially in the cell nuclei, he denotes by the term “erotic chemotropism.” He attributes it to an attraction of the nature of smell, and considers that it represents the psychical quintessence, the original being of love.

A later investigator, Eugen Kröner, holds the same view. In the conjugation of two vorticellæ he recognizes the influence of the chemically operative sensation of smell; to him smell is the most important element in the sexual impulse of animals.


This theory is strongly supported, and indeed elevated to the rank of a natural law, by the circumstance that in the higher animals the sense of smell, in the course of phylogenetic development, has attained a continually greater significance in relation to sexuality; and by the fact that, according to the discovery of Zwaardemaker, there exists widely diffused throughout Nature a distinct group of sexual odours, the so-called capryl odours, which have a natural biological connexion with the vita sexualis. These capryl odours, which already in plants play a sexual part, are in animals and in the human species localized in or near the genital organs (odoriferous glands of the beaver, the musk-ox, etc., the secretions of the male foreskin and the female vagina), or in other cases are found in the general secretions, such as the sweat. Recently Gustav Klein has succeeded in proving that a definite group of glands in the female genital organs (glandulæ vestibulares majores, or glands of Bartholin) must be regarded as a vestige from the time of periodic sexual excitement (rutting). At that time in the human species, as now in the lower animals, the sexual impulse was periodic in its activity, and the secretion of these odoriferous glands of the human female then served as a means of alluring members of the male sex. At the present time these glands have for the most part lost their significance as specific stimuli. Now it is rather the exhalation from the entire surface of the female body which exercises the erotic influence. Cases in which such stimuli proceed exclusively from the female genital organs are regarded by Klein as a phylogenetic vestige of the primitive relations between the rutting odours of the female and sexual excitement in the male. Friedrich S. Krauss, in his “Anthropophyteia” (1904, vol. i., p. 224), reproduces a Southern Slavonic story in which a man is described who obtained sexual gratification only by enjoying the natural smell of the female genital organs. The remarkable classification of Indian women according to the various odours proceeding from their genital organs must not be forgotten in this connexion.

That this primitive phenomenon of love has even to-day a certain significance, although, in consequence of the enormous development of the brain and the predominance of purely psychical elements in man, its influence has been very notably diminished, is shown by the existing physiological connexion proved by Fliess to exist between the nose and the genital organs. On the inferior turbinate bones there exist certain “genital areas,” which, under the influence of sexual stimulus and excitement,[17] as in coitus, during menstruation, etc., swell up. From these areas it is also possible to influence directly certain conditions of the genital organs.

It is noteworthy that civilization has to a large extent replaced the natural sexual odours by artificial scents, so-called perfumes, whose origin is partly due to the imitation or accentuation of the natural odours, in part, however, and especially in recent times, to an endeavour to conceal these natural odours, especially when the latter are of a disagreeable character. For this reason, in addition to penetrating perfumes, such as civet, ambergris, musk, etc., we have also mild perfumes, for the most part vegetable in origin. The markedly exciting influence of these artificial scents is employed especially by women, above all by professional prostitutes, in order to excite men.[3] Frequently also the simple perfume of flowers suffices for this purpose. Krauss tells us that in the kolo-dance of the Southern Slavs the girls fasten strong-scented flowers and sprigs in the front of their dress, and thereby excite intense sexual desire in the young men. In the East sexual stimulation by means of the sense of smell plays a far more extensive rôle than in Europe.

In the human species, however, as a specific elementary phenomenon of sexual reproduction, smell has long been thrust into the background by the strong development of other senses, especially that of sight. This fact is very clearly exhibited by the notable reduction which has occurred in the size of the organ of smell. In man the frontal lobes of the brain, the seat of the highest intellectual processes and of speech, have taken the place of the olfactory lobes in the lower animals. Besides, by means of clothing, the natural odours of men and women, which previously had such marked sexual significance, have been rendered almost imperceptible, and nowadays sexual stimulation may result merely from the senses of touch and of sight, so that the hands and the lips and the female breasts have been transformed into erotic organs. Notwithstanding, however, the notable weakening of the sexual significance of smell, this most primitive sense (actually associated, as we have shown, with the activity of the germinal cells) will never completely cease to influence the sexual life.


“Still, there always surrounds us a now gently moving and now stormy sea of odours, whose waves without cessation arouse in us feelings of sympathy or antipathy, and to the minutest movements of which we are not wholly indifferent” (Havelock Ellis).

Inasmuch as we have pointed out as the single primæval basis, as the most important elementary phenomenon, of human love, the conjugation of the male sperm cell with the female ovum (dependent probably upon a sensation analogous to that of smell), we denote this particular phenomenon of sexuality as primary, and we separate all the other phenomena as secondary, as more remote. Wilhelm Bölsche has also expressed this difference by denoting the union of the two reproductive cells as “fusion-love,” whilst all that has occurred later, in the course of many thousands of years of evolution, and that has transformed this primary process, by innumerable new influences, stimuli, and perceptions, into the love of modern civilized man, he denotes by the apt name of “distance-love.”

According to him,

“the ultimate act of love in a member of the most highly civilized community assumes the form of a sudden withdrawal from the entire world of surrounding artifacts, of alphabets, posts, telephones, submarine cables, etc.... At this instant the principle of union is once again victorious, as it were, in an ultimate posthumous vision in a vital experience of a portion of primæval Nature, of the primæval world, of an instant’s profoundest self-absorption into the great mystery of the obscure original basis of Nature, to which neither time nor old and new is known, but which is ever renewed in us in its elemental force—the procreative principle. At this instant the loving individual must return home to the heart of the all-mother—it is useless to resist. It must draw from the fountain of youth—must descend like Odin to the Norns, like Faust to the Mothers—and there all civilization is swallowed up; there cell body must join cell body, in order in the ardent embrace to reduce to a minimum the distance which usually sunders such large bodies. Indeed, in reality the sexual act goes further and deeper than this reduction of separation to a minimum. Within the body of one of the partners of the sexual act the ovum and the spermatozoon undergo an ultimate perfect fusion of soul and body, in comparison with which even the closest approximation of the great halves of the love partnership is no more than a mere mechanical apposition. The ultimate aim of the loving union is attained only in the coalescence of ovum and spermatozoon.”

To express the matter briefly, fusion-love fulfils the purpose of the species, while distance-love subserves rather the purpose of the individual. Thus the natural course of the development of love, which in the next chapter we propose to follow further, affords already the proof of the thesis propounded in the introduction regarding the duplicate nature of human love.

[3] According to Laurent (“Morbid Love,” pp. 133, 134, Leipzig, 1895), common prostitutes generally use musk; young working women, violet or rose-water; ladies of the bourgeoisie, penetrating perfumes, such as white heliotrope, jasmine, and ylang-ylang; women of the half-world, finer perfumes, or such “as are complex, like their own mode of life”—for example, lily-of-the-valley, or mignonette.



From these considerations it follows that man, in the course of his phylogenetic development extending through lengthy geological periods, has lost numerous advantages; and the question arises whether, in exchange for these, he may not also have gained certain other advantages. Such must, indeed, have been the case if the human species was to remain capable of survival. There has been a process of exchange, by means of which man has gained an equivalent for all the qualities he has lost. And the gain consists in the unlimited plasticity of his brain. By this he is fully compensated for the loss of the large and long series of advantages which his remote predecessors possessed.”—R. Wiedersheim.



The secondary phenomena of sexuality — Their connexion with the nervous system and the sense organs — The brain as criterion of human sexuality — Its development proportional to the retrogression of other parts — Example of the organ of smell and of the mammary glands — Relative retrogression of the female clitoris — Variation of the female genital organs — Reduction of the hairy covering of the skin — Theory regarding the origin of the comparative baldness of the human species — Assumed connexion with climate — With dentition — Influence of artificial clothing — The hygienic and æsthetic significance of the loss of hair — The reason why the axillary and pubic hair have been retained — Sexual influence of the hair of these regions and of the hair of woman’s head — Gradual retrogression of the male beard — The change of bodily type under the influence of the brain — The way of the spirit in love — The pure instinctive in the sexuality of primitive man — His lack of the idea, “love” — Analogy of this state among the lower classes of the present day — Periodicity of the sexual impulse in the time of primitive man — Periodicity amongst savage races of to-day — The researches of Fliess and Swoboda — The twenty-three day “masculine” and the twenty-eight day “feminine” periods — Menstruation — A peculiarity of the human female — The origin of enduring love in mankind — Love rendered more enduring by the spirit — Kant’s views on the subject — Hypothesis of W. Rheinhard and Virey — The complication of the sexual impulse through sensory stimuli — Buddha’s speech to the monks — The prepotency of the higher senses — The sense of touch — The skin as an organ of voluptuous sensation — Erogenic areas of skin — The kiss — Its erotic significance — An Arabian poet (Sheik Nefzawi) on this subject — Burdach’s definition of the kiss — The kiss on the boundary-line between erotism and actual sexual enjoyment — The origin of the kiss — The primitive elements of contact, licking and biting — Its connexion with the nutritive impulse — European origin of the kiss of contact — The smelling kiss of the Mongols — The kiss and sexuality — Voltaire’s genito-labial nerve — The sense of taste and sexuality — The preponderant importance of the higher senses in the love of civilized man — The beautiful explanation of Herder — Liberation from the material in the higher senses — The sense of sight as the true æsthetic sense — Beauty as the product of love — Its perception by the sense of sight — Rôle of the sense of hearing in love — The investigations of Darwin — The voice as a sexual lure — The rhythmical repetition of alluring sounds — Origin of song and music — Greater susceptibility of women to impressions received through the sense of hearing — The charm of woman’s voice — An experience of the natural philosopher Moreau.



As we have learnt in the first chapter, the primitive phenomenon of sexual attraction and reproduction, the conjugation of the male and the female germinal cells, persists unaltered in man as the most important part of the act of procreation; but this process of “fusion-love” derived by inheritance from unicellular organisms, is associated in man with a number of new secondary physical and psychical phenomena of sexuality. This inevitably results from the nature of the human organism as a cell society, from the development of man as one of the order of mammalia, and finally from man’s elevation above the other mammalia as a being of enormously enhanced brain powers. The complex of these secondary physical and psychical phenomena of love, dependent upon the process of evolution, has, as we have already said, been denoted by W. Bölsche by the apt name of “distance-love,” which he thus distinguishes from the primary elemental phenomenon of “fusion-love.” These superadded elements play an extremely important part in human civilization, and, indeed, actually characterize that civilization which is in no way dependent on the primitive qualities shared by man with plants and lower animals.

This secondary sexuality of mankind is, in correspondence with the differentiation of the various organs of his body, extremely complicated, and it is by no means solely dependent upon the structure of the special reproductive or copulatory organs; it is also intimately connected with other parts of the body, and more especially with the sense organs and the nervous system. Thus it has accommodated itself to all the external influences to which the species has been subjected in the long course of its development history. We may say that the criterion, the characteristic mark of distinction between the human body and that of the lower animals, is also the distinctive differential characteristic between human sexuality and that of the lower animals. And this criterion is the brain.

The present physical and mental constitution of man is the result of an evolutionary process, of which the most marked characteristic has been a continually more rapid increase in the size and complexity of the brain. Phylogeny and ontogeny clearly demonstrate the evolution of the human body from lower states to higher, the slow but sure improvement in the direction[22] of a continual enlargement and increasing convolution of the brain, which has by no means yet attained finality, but which may be expected to continue into the far-distant future; and associated with this physical development will undoubtedly proceed an equally extensive improvement in the quality of human consciousness.

This progressive development of the brain has resulted in a retrogression and arrest of development of other parts and organs, and among these some more or less closely associated with the sexual functions, and originally of considerable importance. Gegenbaur, in his “Anatomy,” and Wiedersheim, in his interesting work on “The Structure of Man as Bearing Witness to his Past,” recognize in the unlimited plasticity of the human brain the sole cause of the arrest of development and retrogressive metamorphosis of many organs and functions which persist in other members of the animal kingdom.

In the sexual life, also, in correspondence with this preponderating development of the brain, purely psychical elements continually play a larger part, whilst parts and functions at one time intimately related to sexuality have undergone atrophy. Thus, as we have already pointed out, the human organ of smell had unquestionably in earlier times much greater significance in relation to the vita sexualis than it has at the present day. Wiedersheim shows that in the ancestors of the human race this organ was much more extensively developed, and that it must now be regarded as in a state of atrophy. The mammary glands, the original function of which was perhaps the production of odoriferous substances, but which later became devoted solely to the secretion of milk, existed in our ancestors in a larger number than in the present human race. This is clearly shown by the fact that the human embryo normally exhibits a “hyperthelia,” an excess of breasts, of which, however, two only normally undergo development; moreover, the breasts of the male, which are now in a state of arrested development, were formerly better developed, and served, like those of the female, the purpose of nourishing the offspring. These facts are clearly explicable on the assumption that at one time the number of offspring at a single birth was considerable, and that in this way the preservation of the species was favoured (Wiedersheim).

It is a very interesting fact that the principal “organ of voluptuousness” in women, the clitoris, is notably diminished in size absolutely and relatively as compared with the clitoris of apes. It certainly no longer represents an organ so susceptible[23] to voluptuous stimulation and excitement as it was assumed to be by the older physicians and physiologists; so that, for example, Van Swieten, the celebrated body physician of the Empress Maria Theresa, recommended titillatio clitoridis as the most certain means of curing the sexual insensibility of his royal patient.

Moreover, the common variations in the external configuration of the female genital organs, which Rudolf Bergh has very fully and minutely described in his “Symbolæ ad Cognitionem Genitalium Externorum Femineorum,” are largely dependent on such arrests of development, which, indeed, occur also in the male.

A very remarkable phenomenon in the course of human evolution has been the diminution in the hairy covering of the body. As compared with the other mammalia, especially those most nearly allied to man—the anthropoid apes—man is relatively bald. This baldness has been gradually acquired, and seems likely to progress further in the future. Numerous hypotheses have been propounded regarding the purpose and true cause of this progressive atrophy of the hairy covering which originally extended over the entire surface of the body. The effect of tropical climate will not suffice to account for the change, for in the tropics the hairy covering is useful for a covering against the rays of the sun—witness the thick hairy coat of the tropical apes. More apt is the idea of sexual selection, advanced by Darwin in explanation of the loss of hair. According to this theory, the comparatively balder women were preferred by the men to those with a thicker covering of hair. Helbig raises the objection that primitive man in sexual intercourse would observe only the genital organs and the parts in their immediate neighbourhood. Yet in this region the sexually mature woman has retained a portion of the hairy covering of the body. We must therefore, in order to rescue the idea of sexual selection as an explanation of the increasing baldness of the human race, assume that primitive man had cultivated æsthetic tastes, and was not an extremely sensual person, and that in his choice of a partner he would be guided by the appearance of the woman’s entire body. This, however, is a very questionable assumption. Very doubtful also is the suggested connexion between largely developed dentition and the baldness of the skin (Helbig). More apposite is W. Bölsche’s view that the atrophy of the human hairy covering is related to the adoption of an artificial covering. Since that time the thick hairy covering of the skin was felt to be burdensome,[24] since it hindered perspiration beneath the clothing, and also favoured the harbouring of parasites, fleas, lice, etc., which play so large a part in the annoyance of all hair-covered mammals. In these circumstances bareness of skin became an ideal to primitive man. By rubbing away the hair beneath the clothes, by cutting it short, and by pulling it out by the roots, an artificial baldness was produced; this then became an ideal of beauty. Thus it happened in the choice of a partner that those individuals less hairy than others were preferred, and thus gradually by this process of sexual selection the race became continually less hairy, until ultimately the relative baldness of the present day was attained.

In certain parts of the body, especially in the armpits and in the neighbourhood of the external genital organs, the thick hairy covering has been retained. This may, perhaps, be dependent upon the fact that from the axillary and pubic hair certain erotic stimuli proceed, more especially certain odours. In fact, it is possible that the hair of those regions in which strong-smelling secretions were produced have played the part of scent-sprinklers, analogous to the “perfume brushes” of butterflies.

In a similar way, the preservation of an exceptionally rich development of the hair of a woman’s head may be explained by the fact that therefrom erotically stimulating odours unquestionably proceed. This circumstance has influenced sexual selection in the direction of the preservation and continual increase in the length of the hair of a woman’s head; while, in the opposite direction, and equally by the process of sexual selection, the female body has been much more fully deprived of hair than that of the male.

It seems, however, that this process of loss of hair is not yet completed. The male beard has already ceased to play the part of a sexual lure, which it formerly undoubtedly possessed. Schopenhauer’s opinion, that with the advance of civilization the beard will disappear, probably represents the truth; he regarded shaving as a sign of the higher civilization. It is certainly a logical postulate of the natural course of development.[4]

Havelock Ellis, in “Man and Woman,” comes to the conclusion that the bodily development of our race is a progress in the direction of a youthful type. This is merely another way of[25] expressing the fact that in the case of many organs and systems, and more especially in the case of the hairy covering of the skin, an arrest of development has occurred, and it is a recognition of the fact that the retrogressive metamorphosis of these organs is a compensation for the dominating and enormous development of the brain.

Parallel with this development of the brain there has occurred a progressive development of sexuality from the lowest animal instinct to the highest human “love.” The way of the spirit in love becomes predominant pari passu with the development of mankind in civilization. There is a profound meaning in the saying of Schopenhauer that the transformation of the sexual impulse into passionate love represents the victory of the intelligence over the will. And when another writer of genius has described the history of civilization as the history of the progress of mankind from nearer to more remote, more spiritual stimuli of pleasure, this is above all true of human love.

In lower states of human love these spiritual elements are undoubtedly wanting. Amongst primitive men the manifestations of sexuality can have differed in no wise from those of the animals most nearly related to them. Their love was still a pure animal instinct. The Asiatic myth which divided the earliest periods of human history in this way, asserting that the inhabitants of paradise loved for thousands of years merely by means of glances, later by a kiss, by simple physical contact, until ultimately they underwent a “fall” through adopting the debased methods of common animal sexual indulgence—this infantile mythology would be accurate enough if one inverted the series of stages in the evolution of love.

This view is confirmed by the fact that, according to the most recent investigation into the history of primitive man, it is extremely probable that to palæolithic man of the earlier diluvial period the idea of the spiritual was still completely unknown—that palæolithic man was, in fact, purely a creature of impulse—an opinion already maintained by Darwin in his work on the “Descent of Man.” In the sexual instinct, above all, every dualistic division into physical and spiritual was entirely foreign to primitive man. The more primitive the state of civilization, the less is the idea “love” known, a fact first established by Lubbock. Even at the present day, in regard to this matter, there is a notable difference between the upper and the lower classes in a European civilized community. For example, Elard Hugo Meyer, in his excellent “Deutsche Volkskunde” (“German[26] Folk-lore,” p. 152; Strasburg, 1898), states that from Eastern Friesland to the Alps amongst the common people the word “love,” to us so indispensable and so exalted, is entirely unknown; in its place words expressing rather the sensual side of the impulse are employed.

Rousseau suggested that primitive man embraced primitive woman only in the fugitive moments of domination by his instinctive impulse. It is no doubt very probable that primæval man shared with other animals the periodicity of the sexual impulse; this periodicity disappeared only in the subsequent course of human development, and traces of it yet remain. It is probable that this periodicity of the sexual impulse was associated with variations in the supply of nutriment, and was thus, as Darwin assumes, a kind of natural obstacle to too rapid an increase in the population. Later, in consequence of an increase in individual security, and of a more enduring supply of abundant nutriment, such periodic rutting ceased to occur, or was preserved only in the form of menstruation (ovulation) in women, in whom at this period there is a perceptible increase in sexual excitability. Among savage races this periodicity of the sexual impulse, its increase at definite seasons of the year, is still clearly manifested even in the male. Heape and Havelock Ellis have carefully studied this primitive phenomenon, and have adduced numerous proofs of its truth.[5]

Only the human female experiences true “menstruation”; that is to say, only in women is the maturation of the ovum accompanied by a monthly discharge of blood from the genital passage. The so-called menstruation of female apes is limited[27] to a periodic swelling of the external genital organs, with a mucous discharge therefrom. According to Metchnikoff, the menstruation of apes constitutes the intermediate stage between the rutting of the lower animals and the menstruation of the human female. This latter is a new acquisition, the purpose of which is perhaps the limitation of fertility and the prevention of the excessively early marriage of girls.

With the advanced development of the brain, the old periodic rutting, of which rudiments still persist, became more and more subordinate to the conscious will, was transformed more and more into enduring love. Charles Letourneau writes:

“If we go to the root of the matter, we find that human love is in its essence merely the rutting season in a reasoning being; it increases all the vital forces of the human being, just as rutting increases those of the lower animals. If love apparently differs enormously from rutting, this is merely due to the fact that the reproductive impulse, the most primitive of all impulses, becomes in developed nerve centres more diffuse in its sphere of operations, and thus in man awakens and excites a whole province of psychical life which is entirely unknown to the lower animals.”

Philosophers and scientific observers have defined the distinction between human and animal love as consisting in the fact that man can love at all times, the animal periodically only; but this distinction certainly does not apply to the beginnings of human development; it originates beyond question with the first appearance of the spiritual element in love. This alone makes man capable of enduring love, this alone frees him from dependence upon periodic rutting seasons. The prolongation of love by the introduction of the spiritual element was already pointed out by Kant, whose writings (especially the lesser ones) are rich in valuable observations of a similar kind. In his treatise published in 1786, “The Probable Beginning of Human History,” he says regarding the sexual instinct:

“Reason, as soon as it had become active, did not delay to exert its influence also in the sexual sphere. Man soon discovered that the stimulus of sex, which in animals depended merely on a transient and for the most part periodic impulse, was in his own case capable of prolongation, and indeed of increase, by the force of imagination. This influence works more moderately, it is true, but with more persistence and more evenness the more the affair is withdrawn from the dominion of the senses, so that the satiety produced by the gratification of a purely animal passion is avoided.”

This important question regarding the origin of the love of human beings as contrasted with the periodic instinct of the[28] lower animals and primitive man has hitherto, strangely enough, hardly received any attention, notwithstanding the fact that it is one of the most important evolutionary problems in the history of human civilization, and represents to a certain extent the only problem in the primitive history of love.

The principal cause of the perennial nature of human love, as contrasted with the periodic character of the sexual impulse of the lower animals, must, as Kant says, be sought in the appearance of these psychical relations between the sexes. Hypotheses such as that put forward by Dr. W. Rheinhard in his book, “Man considered as an Animal Species, and his Impulses,” according to which the prolonged separation of the sexes, consequent on the increased difficulty in the provision of sufficient nutriment (more especially in the Ice Age), led to an incomplete satisfaction of the sexual impulse during the rutting season, and thus gave rise to an enduring sexual excitement, cannot be treated seriously. The same author suggests that the excessive consumption of meat of the Ice Age, owing to the absence of vegetable food, was responsible for the stronger stimulation of the sexual impulse, and for its prolongation beyond the rutting season.

Unquestionably Kant’s explanation is the only true one; it is the one which Schiller had in his mind when in his essay on the connexion between the animal and the spiritual nature of man, he spoke of the happiness of the animals as of such a kind that

“it is dependent merely upon the periods of the organism, and these are subject to chance, to blind hazard, because this happiness rests solely on sensation.”

The sexual love of primitive man was, like this, purely instinctive and impulsive.

For him, beginning, course, and end, of every love-process was “directly linear, with no to-and-fro oscillations into the indefinite province of the transcendental.” The need for love and the satisfaction of that need were in primitive man entirely limited to the physical process of sexual activity (L. Jacobowski, “The Beginnings of Poetry,” p. 84).

It was the interpenetration of the whole of sexuality with spiritual elements which first interrupted this single line of sensation, making in a sense two lines: hence arose the frequently unhappy dualism between body and mind in our experience of love; and yet at the same time it was the cause of the elevation of human love to purely individual feelings, which, extending far[29] beyond the purposes of reproduction, subserved the spiritual demands of the loving individual himself.[6]

Natural science, and especially the doctrine of descent, have shown that in the higher animal world, to which we have proved primitive man belongs, a complication of the sexual impulse exists as compared to this condition in lower forms; this complication consists mainly in the intimate association of sensory stimuli with the sexual impulse. In a speech to monks, reported in the Pali Canon, Buddha has well described the sexual part played by the various senses:

“I do not know, young men, any other form which fetters the heart of man like a woman’s form.

“A woman’s form, young men, fetters the heart of man.

“I do not know, young men, any other voice which fetters the heart of man like the voice of woman.

“The voice of woman, young men, fetters the heart of man.

“I do not know, young men, any other odour which fetters the heart of man like the odour of woman.

“The odour of woman, young men, fetters the heart of man.

“I do not know, young men, any other taste which fetters the heart of man like the taste of woman.

“The taste of woman, young men, fetters the heart of man.

“I do not know, young men, any touch which fetters the heart of man like the touch of woman.

“The touch of woman, young men, fetters the heart of man.”

Then there follows, in the same rhythmical form, an enumeration of the sexual stimuli emanating from woman through eye, ear, smell, taste, and touch.

Associated with the progress towards “love” of this sexual impulse enriched by sensory stimuli was a preponderance, a prevalence, of certain particular sensory stimuli. Herein are certainly to be found the beginnings of a spiritualization of purely animal instincts and impulses.

The most important part in the amatory life of man is played, even at the present day, by the sense of touch, and by the two[30] higher senses, sight and hearing, these two latter containing so many spiritual elements.

The sense of touch is more widely extended in space than the other senses, and for this reason touch is quantitatively the most excitable of the senses. The stimulation of the sensory nerves of the skin, the enormous number of which suffices to explain the richness of sensation through the skin, experienced as touch, tickling, or slight pain, transmits very similar sensations to the voluptuous sensorium. The relationship between these various modes of sensation is confirmed by the fact that the terminals of the sensory nerves of the skin, the so-called corpuscles of Vater or Pacini, closely resemble in structure the corpuscles of Krause found on the glans penis and glans clitoridis, on the prepuce of the clitoris, the labia majora, and on the papillæ of the red margin of the lip. From this point of view, the entire skin may be regarded as a huge organ of voluptuous sensation, of which the skin of the external organs of conjugation is most strongly susceptible to stimulation.

Mantegazza therefore describes sexual love as a higher form of tactile sensation. In human beings of a baser disposition love is no more than a touch. Between the chaste stroking of the hair and the violent storm of the sexual orgasm there is a quantitative, but not a qualitative difference. The sense of touch is a profoundly sexual sense, which at the present day plays much the same part as was in primitive times played by the sense of smell.

“The skin,” says Wilhelm Bölsche, “became the great procurer, the dominant intermediary of love, for the multicellular animals, in which complete conjugation of the cell bodies had become impossible, so that their sexual gratification had to be obtained by distance-love, by contact-love. Thus the skin was the primitive area of voluptuous sensation, the arena of the supreme bodily triumph of this distance-love.”

It has been well said that the first intentional touching of a part of the skin of the loved one is already a half-sexual union; and this view is confirmed by the fact that such intimate bodily contacts, even when they occur between parts far distant from sexual organs, very speedily lead to states of marked excitement of these organs. Quite rightly, therefore, the pleasurable sensations aroused by means of cutaneous sensibility are regarded by Magnus Hirschfeld as the stages of transition along which the power of self-command and the capacity for resisting the impulses arising out of the transformation of sensory perceptions into movements and actions most commonly break down. He who avoids these first contacts, best protects himself against the[31] danger of being overpowered by his sexual impulse, and of blindly following where that impulse leads—if, for example, he wishes to avoid intercourse with a person whom he suspects to be suffering from some venereal disease.

Areas of skin more especially susceptible to sexual stimulation, the so-called erogenic areas, are those parts of the body where skin and mucous membrane meet—above all therefore the lips, but also the region of the anus, the female genital organs, and the nipples of the female breast. That in certain circumstances even the eye may be an erogenic zone is shown by the remarkable observation of Dr. Emil Bock, that in many female patients a gentle inunction of Pagenstecher’s ointment into the eye gives rise to changes of countenance showing that a sexual orgasm is occurring.

The contact of the lips in the kiss is one of the most powerful stimuli of love.[7] An Arabian author of the sixteenth century (Sheikh Nefzawi) in his work, “The Perfumed Garden,” an Arabian ars amandi, alludes to this fact. He quotes the verses of an Arabian poet:

“When the heart burns with love,
It finds, alas, nowhere a cure;
No witch’s magic art
Will give the heart that for which it thirsts;
The working of no charm
Will perform the desired miracle;
And the most intimate embrace
Leaves the heart cold and unsatisfied—
If the rapture of the kiss is wanting.”

The physiologist Burdach, influenced by the then dominant natural philosophy of Schelling, defined the kiss as “the symbol of the union of souls,” analogous to “the galvanic contact between a positively and a negatively electrified body; it increases sexual polarity, permeates the entire body, and if impure transfers sin from one individual to the other.” Goethe has very perspicuously described sexual union in a kiss:

“Eagerly she sucks the flames of his mouth:
Each is conscious only of the other.”


And Byron writes:

“A long, long kiss, a kiss of youth and love,
And beauty, all concentrating like rays
Into one focus kindled from above;
Such kisses as belong to early days,
Where heart and soul and sense in concert move,
And the blood’s lava, and the pulse a blaze,
Each kiss a heart-quake—for a kiss’s strength,
I think it must be reckoned by its length.”

It is therefore a true saying, that a woman who permits a man to kiss her will ultimately grant him complete possession.[8] Moreover, by the majority of finely sensitive women the kiss is valued just as highly as the last favour.[9]

The problem of the origin of the kiss, which Scheffel, in his book (“Trompeter von Säckingen”), has treated in humorous verse, has recently been investigated by the methods of natural science. The lip kiss is peculiar to man and in him the impulse to kiss is not innate, but has been gradually developed, and the kiss has only acquired by degrees a relation to the sexual sphere.

Havelock Ellis has recently made an interesting investigation regarding the origin of the kiss, and has proved that the love kiss has developed from the primitive maternal kiss and from the sucking of the infant at the maternal breast,[10] which are customary in regions where the sexual kiss is unknown. Both the sense of touch and the sense of smell play a part in this primitive kiss, and to simple contact primitive man superadded both licking and biting. This primitive physiological sadism of the biting kiss was probably inherited from the lower animals, which when copulating often bite one another (Kleist in “Penthesilea” writes “Küsse”—kissing—rhymes with “Bisse”—biting). Earlier authors—as, for example, Mohnike, in his admirable essay on the sexual instinct—have inferred from the existence of these passionate accompaniments of the kiss that the latter has an intimate connexion with the nutritive impulse. We have indeed[33] the familiar expression, “I could eat you for love.” Indeed, according to Mohnike, the frenzy of the wild kisses of passionate love may actually lead to anthropophagy, as in a case reported by Metzger, in which a young man on his wedding night actually bit and began to devour his wife. Although in this case we doubtless have to do with an insane individual, such sadistic feelings in a lesser degree are so often observed in association with kissing that they may be regarded as physiological.[11]

In the novel “Hunger,” by Knut Hamsun, the author describes a peculiar relationship between hunger and the libido sexualis. Georg Lomer also, in the beginning of his thoughtful work, “Love and Psychosis” (Wiesbaden, 1907), expresses the opinion that hunger and love are not opposites, but that one is rather the completion, the larval state, or the sublimation, of the other. In certain species of spiders the male runs the danger, when performing his share in sexual congress, of being actually devoured by the stronger female.

The kiss by contact between the lips or neighbouring parts of the skin is of European origin, and even here is a comparatively recent practice, for the ancients very rarely allude to it. Its erotic significance was early pointed out by Indian, Oriental, and Roman poets. Amongst the Mongol races the so-called olfactory kiss (“smell-kiss”) is in much more common use. In this the nose is apposed to the cheek of the beloved person, and the expired air and the odour arising from the cheek are inhaled.

With the diffusion of European civilization, the European kiss of contact has also been diffused. It is no longer possible to determine whether the peculiar connexion between the lips and the genital organs, as manifested for example by the growth of hair on the upper lip at puberty in the male sex, and also by the well-known thick “sensual” lips often seen in individuals with exceptionally powerful sexual impulses, is originally primary, or merely a secondary result of the employment of the lips in a sexual caress.[12]

To our consideration of the kiss we may naturally append a few remarks on the rôle of the sense of taste in human love. Inasmuch as taste is almost invariably closely connected with[34] smell, we are rarely able to prove in an individual case whether an impression of taste or an impression of smell more powerfully affects the vita sexualis. In kissing, an unconscious tasting of the beloved person seems often to play a part; and as regards the kissing of other parts of the body, especially the genital organs, at the acme of sexual excitement this undoubtedly often occurs. In Norwegian folk-tales, and in a South Hungarian song published by Friedrich S. Krauss, this tasting of the woman is very realistically described. The taste for sweets has also been largely associated with sexuality. Children who are fond of sweets, who have, as it is called, a sweet tooth, are also sensually disposed, sexually more excitable, and more inclined to the practice of onanism, than other children. The sensory impulses have therefore been classified as the hunger impulse and the sexual impulse respectively. A certain amount of truth appears to lie in these observations.

Much greater influence than these lower senses possess is exerted in the sexual sphere on modern civilized man by the higher, truly intellectual senses, sight and hearing. With the adoption of the upright posture they gained an advantage over the sense of smell and taste.

In his work “Ideas Concerning the Philosophy of Human History” Herder writes:

“In the beginning all the senses of man had but a small area of action, and the lower senses were more active than the higher. We see this among savages of the present day: smell and taste are their guides, as they are in the case of the lower animals. But when man is raised above the earth and the undergrowth, smell is no longer in command, but the eye: it has a wider kingdom, and accustoms itself from early childhood to the finest geometry of lines and colours. The ear, deeply placed beneath the projecting skull, has closer access to the inner chamber for the collection of ideas, whilst in the lower animals the ear stands upright, and in many is so formed as to point in the direction of the sound.”

Smell, taste, and even touch, have but little æsthetic value as compared with the two higher senses, because in the former the material preponderates too greatly, and because they are more closely related with the pure animal impulses than are sight and hearing. Johannes Volkelt, in his valuable work “Æsthetics,” has carried on an interesting investigation of this question, and comes to the conclusion that in sight and hearing perception proceeds without any trace of the material; in touch and taste, on the other hand, the material enormously predominates, whilst smell stands between. Schiller wrote:


“In the case of the eye and the ear the surrounding matter is rejected by the senses; for this reason, these two senses give the freest æsthetic enjoyment unalloyed with animal lust.”

The sense of sight is a true æsthetic sense in relation to the vita sexualis; it is the first messenger of love. By means of this sense, colour and form become sexual stimuli: by the sense of sight the entire impression of the beloved personality is first conveyed; sympathy and sexual attraction are almost always at first dependent upon sight. In regard to love’s choice, sight is unquestionably the sense of the greatest importance.

According to researches guided by the light of the modern doctrine of evolution, we can no longer doubt that the beauty of the living world is intimately connected with the sexual life, and is indeed by this first called into being. All beauty is, to use the words of Darwin and P. J. Möbius, “love become capable of perception,” and, let us ourselves add, love become capable of perception by means of the sense of sight. The figure, the carriage, the gait, the clothing, the adornment, the observation of the beauties of the various parts of the body of the beloved person—all these impressions, received by means of the sense of sight, have the most powerful erotic influence.

Havelock Ellis also comes to the conclusion that for mankind the ideal of a suitable love-partner is based far more upon the data of the sense of sight than upon those of touch, smell, and hearing.

However, in addition to the sense of sight, the sense of hearing plays a part of considerable importance in the amatory life of mankind. A sufficient indication of this fact is given by the change occurring in a man’s voice at the time of puberty. Darwin’s classical investigations prove beyond a possibility of doubt the intimate relationship between the voice and sexual life. The masculine voice, especially, has a sexually stimulating effect upon woman; but the converse influence of a woman’s voice upon man may also be observed. In the other mammalia, it is especially in the rutting season that the voice is used as a means of sexual allurement. The repetition of this vocal lure at measured intervals gives rise to rhythm and song. The rhythmical repetition of the same tone possesses something highly suggestive, fascinating, and so gives rise to sexual attraction and charm in the most powerful manner. Here lies the origin of the profound erotic influence of singing and music. Darwin assumes that the early progenitors of mankind, before they had acquired the faculty of expressing their mutual love in articulate speech, used[36] to charm one another by musical tones and rhythms. Woman is far more susceptible than man to the sexual influence of singing or music, but man himself is by no means indifferent to the charms of the beautiful feminine voice. The soft tones of a woman’s voice are, for many men, the first enthralling disclosure of woman’s nature. The French physician and natural philosopher Moreau relates that he was once compelled to renounce the pleasure of seeing the performance of a beautiful actress, for only thus could he overcome a violent outburst of sexual passion which was evoked in him by the mere stimulus of her voice.

[4] If at the present day an inquiry were instituted among the cultured women of European and Anglo-American descent, whether bearded or beardless men more nearly corresponded to their ideal of beauty, there can be little doubt that the majority—perhaps a very large majority—would declare against a full beard.

[5] Recently, apart from sexual periodicity, a general periodicity of vital manifestations, more especially of the psychical phenomena associated with sexuality, has been proved to exist in both sexes. In a work that attracted much attention—“The Course of Life: Elements of Exact Biology” (Vienna, 1905)—Wilhelm Fliess proved the occurrence in the human species of a twenty-three day “masculine,” and a twenty-eight day “feminine” period. Not merely do physical phenomena recur quite spontaneously at intervals of twenty-three and twenty-eight days respectively, but the same is true of perceptions, feelings, and voluntary impulses. Hermann Swoboda, a thoughtful supporter of Fliess’s theory, has treated this question in two works—“The Periods of the Human Organism in their Psychological and Biological Significance” (Leipzig and Vienna, 1904), and “Studies in the Elements of Psychology” (Leipzig and Vienna, 1905). In these he has described also twenty-three-hour and eighteen-hour vital undulations in human beings, and has discussed the significance of this periodicity to psychology. These researches of Fliess and Swoboda need to be confirmed by other investigators before they can be regarded as definite additions to our scientific knowledge. In this connexion also the older work of Carl Reinl—“Undulatory Movements of the Vital Processes in Woman” (Leipzig, 1884)—may be consulted. See also Van de Velde’s “Ovarian Functions, Undulatory Movement, and Menstrual Hæmorrhage” (Jena, 1905).

[6] Virey likewise explains the enduring nature of human love as dependent upon an excess of potent nutritive material, whereas the poor savages of Northern Europe and America, who must often go hungry, really experience no more than an instant of sexual pleasure, just like the wild animals, who rut only at certain distinct seasons. For the same reason, our domestic animals, which have a superfluous supply of nutriment, copulate far more frequently. And in our own case, the incessant intimate association of the sexes in our domestic life is a continued source of ever-renewed sexual needs, even contrary to our own will. The assumption of the upright posture by man, which is so intimately connected with the preponderance of the human brain, is also regarded by Virey as “an enduring cause of sexual excitement.” Cf. J. J. Virey, “Das Weib” (“Woman”), p. 301; Leipzig, 1827.

[7] Recently Gualino [“Il Riflesso Sessuale nell’ Eccitamento alle Labbra” (“The Sexual Reflex resulting from the Stimulation of the Lips”), published in the Italian “Archives of Psychiatry,” 1904, p. 341 et seq.] by mechanical stimulation of the red parts of the lips, has produced erotic ideas and congestion of the genital organs, and this proves that the lips are an erogenic zone. Compare also the interesting remarks of Professor Petermann and Dr. Näcke on the origin of the kiss, in the German “Archives of Criminal Anthropology,” 1904, vol. xvi., pp. 356, 357.

[8] A kiss is on the boundary-line between erotism and sexual enjoyment. Bölsche calls it the true transitional form between fusion-love and distance-love. At the instant of the kiss the distance between the two lovers is certainly reduced to a minimum; the distance-love, therefore, is on the point of becoming fusion-love. On the other hand, however, the kiss is still simply tactile contact, and contact of the heads only, the actual seat in mankind of the sentiment of distance-love. The kiss represents a yearning for complete fusion-love, and yet is at the same time a symbol of purely spiritual distance-love.

[9] Especially in France is this the case. Madame Adam describes very tastefully this feeling of loss of virtue after granting a kiss.

[10] Cf. also J. Librowicz, “The Kiss and Kissing,” p. 22 (Hamburg, 1877).

[11] It is interesting to observe that the Chinese regard the European kiss as a sign of cannibalism [d’Enjoy, “Le Baiser en Europe et en Chine” (“The Kiss in Europe and in China”), Bulletin de la Société d’Anthropologie, Paris, 1897, No. 2.]

[12] We can allude only in passing to the celebrated genito-labial nerve of Voltaire.



Sexual passion is a matter of universal experience; and speaking broadly and generally, we may say it is a matter on which it is quite desirable that every adult at some time or other should have actual experience.”—Edward Carpenter.



Origin and purpose of the reproductive organs — Progressive differentiation of these organs — Original identity of their rudiments in the two sexes — Weininger’s theory of the intermixture of the sexual elements — This theory anticipated by Heinse — Bisexuality — The actual significance of bisexuality trifling — Phylogenetic explanation of the organs of sexual congress — Bölsche’s three problems — The “aperture-problem” — Connexion between the genital aperture and the urinary passage — Between the genital aperture and the anus — Significance in relation to certain sexual aberrations — The “member-problem” — Earlier modes of fixation during coitus — Sucking and biting — The action of the limbs (the embrace) — The penis — Its various forms — The penis-bone — The free character of the human penis — The descent of the testicles — The feminine rudiment of the penis — Its original function rendered superfluous by the further evolution of the sexual orifice — Transformation into the clitoris and the labia minora — The “libido-problem” — Voluptuousness a phenomenon of distance-love — Questionable specificity of voluptuousness — Theory of the “sexual sense” and of the “sexual cells” — Relations of voluptuousness to tickling and to painful sensations — A special variety of contact stimuli — Localization to the genital organs — The sexual impulse — Relative independence of the impulse from the reproductive glands — Genesis of sexual excitement — Stage of prelibido (sexual tension) — Terminal libido (sexual gratification) — Symptoms and early appearance of prelibido — Causes of sexual tension — Freud’s chemical theory of sexual tension — The act of sexual intercourse — Roubaud’s description of coitus — Demeanour of woman in coitus — Magendie on this subject — Dr. Theopold’s observations — Physiological phenomena associated with coitus — Sadistic and masochistic elements — The normal position during sexual intercourse — Figuræ Veneris — Significance of the normal position in relation to civilization.



As the progressive evolution of the multicellular organism continued, and there occurred an increasing differentiation of the individual portions of the body, it became necessary that the very simple process of reproduction of the unicellular organism (by simple cell-division or by conjugation) should, in the multicellular organisms of the metazoa, be ensured and facilitated by the development of new apparatus. This was all the more necessary because, owing to the differentiation of the other organs, the originally independent reproductive elements became more and more dependent upon the parent organism, and lost their former capacity for obtaining nourishment by means of their own activity. Hence it became necessary that the period of time elapsing between the moment when the reproductive cells were freed from the parent organism and the moment in which they coalesced to form a new individual should be shortened to a minimum. This purpose is subserved by apparatus which renders possible the secure and rapid coalescence of the two reproductive elements, having the form of special excretory canals with contractile walls, through which the two sexual elements pass. These are the “copulatory organs,” by means of which the distance between the two loving individuals is abridged. According to the exhaustive investigations of Ferdinand Simon, the perfection and differentiation of these conducting canals proceeds pari passu with the higher development of the organism.

Simultaneously therewith proceeds the differentiation of the proper internal reproductive organs, the rudiments of which are identical in the two sexes. A portion of these primitively identical structures undergoes further development in the male, another portion undergoes further development in the female, whilst in both sexes rudiments of the earlier condition are retained, and these bear witness to the primitive state in which both reproductive glands were present in a single individual (hermaphroditism). In this sense Weininger’s theory applies—viz., that there is no absolutely male and no absolutely female individual, that in every man there is something of woman, and in every woman something of man, and that between the two various transitional forms, sexual “intermediate stages,” exist. Therefore, according to this view, every individual has in his composition so many fractions “man” and so many fractions “woman,” and according[40] to the preponderance of one set of elements or the other, he must be assigned to one or the other sex. This theory, which Weininger regards as his own discovery, is by no means new, and already finds a place in Heinse’s “Ardinghello,” where we read:

“I find it therefore necessary to assume the existence in Nature of masculine and feminine elements. That man is nearest perfection who is composed entirely of masculine elements, and that woman perhaps is nearest perfection who contains only so many feminine elements as to be able to remain woman; whilst that man is the worst who contains only so many masculine elements as to qualify for the title of man.

Magnus Hirschfeld, to whom this noteworthy passage in Heinse’s book appears to be unknown, has recently, in his valuable monographs, “Sexual Stages of Transition” (Leipzig, 1905) and “The Nature of Love” (Leipzig, 1906), thoroughly investigated these relations, and quotes, among others, sayings of Darwin and Weismann, according to which the latent presence of opposite sexual characters in every sexually differentiated bion must be regarded as a normal arrangement. Unquestionably the widely diffused phenomenon of “psychical hermaphroditism,” or “spiritual bisexuality,” is connected with the physical facts just enumerated, and provides us with the key for the understanding of the nature of homosexuality. Both these states—the physical and the mental—may be referred to primitive conditions of sexuality. They cannot play any serious part in the future course of human evolution, of which the progressive differentiation of the sexes is so marked a characteristic. In contrast with this differentiation, these rudimentary sexual conditions are practically devoid of significance. Suggestion, indeed, the influence of momentary tendencies of the time and of transient mental states, may temporarily deceive us. And when, for example, Hirschfeld maintains that in the central nervous system of women the more masculine, rational qualities, and in the central nervous system of men the more feminine, emotional qualities, are respectively on the increase, we must answer, in the first place, that this is not generally true, and, in the second place, that, in so far as it is true, it is a passing phenomenon, which has already provoked a powerful reaction in the opposite direction.[13] The exuviæ of a dead condition cannot again be vitalized.


The original purpose of the organs of sexual congress is, then, to safeguard and to facilitate, in the more complicated conditions peculiar to multicellular organisms, the conjugation of the two reproductive cells. They do not exist, as Eduard von Hartmann assumes, as a mere lure to voluptuousness, to induce man to continue the practice of sexual congress, purely instinctive in his animal ancestors, but now endangered by the development of the higher type of consciousness. For animals without organs of sexual congress also experience a voluptuous sensation at the instant of the sexual orgasm and of procreation.

The history of evolution alone solves the riddle of the origin of the organs of sexual congress, and renders their purpose clear to us. In a most ingenious manner, W. Bölsche distinguishes three problems in this history of the genital organs: the “aperture-problem,” the “member-problem,” and the “libido-problem.”

The first problem relates to the character and the position of the two apertures from which the sexual products, the reproductive cells, issue; the second relates to the exact mutual adaptation of the male and the female reproductive apertures; the third relates to the impulse to the intimate apposition of the genital apertures in consequence of a powerful nervous stimulus.

The most remarkable fact that we encounter in our consideration of the first problem—the “aperture-problem”—is the intimate association between the sexual aperture and the excretory canal of the urinary apparatus both in woman and in man—in the latter, indeed, the association is more pronounced. There seems to be a sort of parsimony on the part of Nature to combine so closely these two excretory tubes of the urine and of the products of sexual activity. Phylogenetically, indeed, the reproductive products originally passed with the urine freely into the open, and it was there that their conjugation took place. Among certain worms still existing at the present day we find this “urine-love.” Later, the genital canal became separated from the urinary canal, but the two tubes remained partly united at their outlets, opening side by side at the same part of the body. In man, indeed, the urethra still subserves the double purpose of the excretion of urine and the emission of semen. In woman the two excretory apertures are distinct, but they open in close proximity into the genital fissure between the thighs.

The intimate connexion which thus obtains between the urinary and the reproductive organs is not without significance for the understanding of certain aberrations of the libido sexualis. The same is true of the relations between the orifice of the[42] genital passage and the similarly adjacent aperture of the large intestine, the anus. “Anus,” or, better, “cloaca love,” plays a part, indeed, in many fishes, amphibia, and reptiles; in these the act of procreation and the excretion of urine and fæces all take place by way of the cloaca. Among the mammals, at an early stage of phylogenetic development the intestine became completely separated from the sexual rudiment and the sexual excretory passages; and it is only in the proximity of the respective orifices that we find an indication of the primitive association. The act of pæderasty reminds us of the same fact.

The “aperture-problem” itself leads us, in the course of progressive development, to the “member-problem”—that is to say, to the problem of the more accurate apposition of the two reproductive apertures. The penis, by its introduction into the body of a member of the opposite sex, acts as a means for the shortening of distance-love; it serves for the fixation, for the clamping together, of the copulating pair, which in earlier stages of animal life was effected by sucking and biting; for example, in birds, who for the most part lack an actual penis, the cock holds the hen firmly with his beak during intercourse, and the sucking and biting which often occur in human beings in the sexual act persist as a reminiscence of these relations. In various vertebrates other means of fixation are employed: by the shape of fins, of arms, or of legs, a close “embrace” is rendered possible; finally, the evolution of a special member for sexual purposes closed the long series of means of ensuring union. Originally no more than a peg or a spine, in man the penis is first developed into the form of an absolutely free limb. Dogs, beasts of prey, rodents, bats, and apes, have a strong bone in the organ, the so-called “penis-bone.” In man this bone is lacking; the penis has become entirely free. W. Bölsche writes:

“In relation to the large, heavy, massive trunk and thighs, the sharply individualized, independent, mobile penis appears as a kind of spiritualized central point; as it were, a finger or a small third hand to the trunk, appearing to the eye to stand in rhythmical relation with the hands, right and left.”

In phylogenetic parallelism with the development of the penis, proceeds (from the marsupials upwards) the descensus testiculorum, the descent of the male reproductive glands, the testicles, until they attain their final position in the scrotum, beneath the penis. Here also we can recognize the principle of “limb-mobility,” mentally refined mobility.

In the clitoris woman also possesses a rudiment of a primitive[43] penis. By the apposition of the two limbs, a more complete and rapid conjunction of the reciprocal sexual products must have been effected. But the further development of the large sexual aperture of the female checked the progressive development of this primitive penis, made it to some extent superfluous, since now, by the adaptation of the male penis to the female sexual aperture, a sufficient internal fixation in the act of copulation was rendered possible. Thus the female penis came to subserve other purposes: a portion of it formed the labia minora; another portion, the upper, the clitoris, the name of which sufficiently indicates the fact that, like the penis of the male, its function is connected with the voluptuous sense.

This leads us to the third and last problem, the “libido-problem.” In the human species voluptuous pleasure is almost completely divorced from the process of “fusion-love,” the coalescence of spermatozoon and ovum, and has for the most part become a phenomenon of “distance-love.” It appears extremely doubtful if there is anything specific about the voluptuous sensation—whether there is, in fact, a special “sexual sense.” Magnus Hirschfeld assumes the existence of peculiar “sexual cells,” of receptive areas for sexual stimuli, furnished with a sensory substance endowed with a peculiar specific sensibility. He regards love and the sexual impulse as “a molecular movement or force of a quite specific quality, streaming through the nervous system,” and accompanied by a quite peculiar sensation, or pleasure-tone, arising from a condition of excitement of the sexual cells. But, as we have already pointed out, the voluptuous sensation is merely a special case of general cutaneous sensibility; it is very closely allied with the cutaneous sensation of tickling; properly speaking, it is no more than an excessively powerful tickling.[14] It has also intimate relations with the sensation[44] of pain.[15] The structure and position of the nerve-terminal apparatus of the genital organs, by means of which voluptuous pleasure is rendered possible, exhibit great similarity with the touch corpuscles and sensory end-organs of other parts of the skin. In the sexual orgasm the general cutaneous sensation increases to so high a degree of intensity, becomes so powerful, that for an instant consciousness is actually lost. The association of a momentary loss of consciousness with the acme of sensation indicates the summit of sexual pleasure—it is an abandonment, a dissolution, of individual personality.

Voluptuous pleasure plays its part in the human species entirely in the sphere of distance-love. Bölsche has very beautifully described its significance in this relation:

“All-embracing in its path towards the attainment of its final aim is the love-life also of the great cell societies, such as you yourself are, such as I myself am, such as your beloved is. These higher, more advanced individuals saw one another, approached one another, heard one another, perceived one another through a hundred external media; they became spiritually fused, and attained a condition of wonderful harmony—their principal body walls came at length into immediate contact—they pressed one another’s hands, they embraced one another, kissed one another—they drew ever closer and closer together; to a certain extent the body of one penetrated the body of the other. In all this, their love undertook the whole affair, undertook it a thousand times more effectually than the individual cells seeking conjunction could ever have done; undertook it for the sake of the reproductive cells hidden deep within their bodies. All the pleasurable and painful feelings of love undulated and surged for so long a time throughout the entire organism with intense force; these feelings agitated the entire superior, comprehensive, individual personality, searched its every depth with stormy emotions of desire, complaint, and exultation.

“But at a precise instant this all came to a halt. The seminal cells[45] were ejaculated; one of them conjugated with the ovum; the hidden inward life of a tiny separate organism began within the body of one of the over-individuals. The last separation was bridged, and the true cell-fusion took place. But when this happened, the immediate relationship with the love-life of the great individual man and woman was already completely severed. The bodily act of love was already long at an end; its increase to a climax and its fulfilment had long passed by.

“The instant of supreme voluptuous pleasure, which in the case of unicellular beings naturally occurs at the moment of complete coalescence, must in the case of the multicellular organisms just as naturally be transferred to another stage, as it were, in the great path of love.

“To an earlier stage.

“To that stage of distance-love which is nearest to the true act of fusion of the reproductive elements. To the farthest point, that is to say, attained by the great containers of the genuine unicellular sexual elements (themselves capable of the act of ultimate coalescence)—the farthest point attained by the multicellular over-individuals.”

This farthest point is an act of contact.[16] We have already learnt to regard the skin as a projection of the nervous system, and we have come to understand the significance of the skin in the sphere of sexuality. The other senses which have arisen from the skin must also be taken into account in this matter. In the genital organs, this touch stimulus assumes a quite peculiar character; it gives rise here to the proper voluptuous sensation which is associated with the discharge of the reproductive products. In man this association is most distinctly manifest. The instant of most intense sexual pleasure coincides with ejaculation, with the expulsion of the semen. The character of this voluptuous sensation can hardly be defined; in part, it is like an intense tickling sensation, but, on the other hand, it has an unmistakable relationship to pain. Later, in another connexion, we shall consider this interesting point at greater length. Not inaptly the sexual act has also been compared with sneezing; the preliminary tickling sensation, with the subsequent discharge of nervous tension, in the form of a sneeze, have, in fact, a notable similarity with the processes occurring in the sexual act.

The sexual act depends upon the occurrence of certain stimuli which are connected with the complete development of the internal and external genital organs and of the reproductive glands. The time when this development occurs in man and woman is known as puberty. The sum of these stimuli is known as the “sexual impulse.” Whereas in the lower animals the sexual impulse is for the most part connected with the activity[46] of the reproductive glands, in the human species, in association with the preponderating significance of the brain, it has attained a relative independence of the reproductive glands; whilst the mind has come to influence the sexual impulse very powerfully. Generally speaking, sexual excitement is produced in three ways: first, by the activity of the reproductive glands; secondly, by peripheral excitement derived from the so-called “erogenic” areas; and thirdly, by central psychical influences. S. Freud has recently studied the relations between these three causes of sexual excitement, of the sexual impulse, and has very properly distinguished two stages—the stage of “prelibido” (sexual desire), and the stage of the proper sexual “libido” (sexual gratification).

The stage of prelibido has distinctly the character of tension; the stage of libido, the character of relief. The feeling of tension during the prelibido finds expression mentally as well as physically by a series of changes in the genital organs. The tension is further increased by the stimulation of the various erogenic zones. If this prelibido increases beyond a certain degree, the characteristic potential energy of sexual tension is transformed into the relief-giving kinetic energy of the terminal libido, during which the evacuation of the reproductive products occurs.

Prelibido, which is especially characterized by engorgement, swelling, and erection of the corpora cavernosa of the male and female reproductive organs, occurring as a reflex from the spinal cord, may be experienced long before puberty; it is much more independent of processes occurring in the reproductive glands than is the terminal libido, or sexual gratification, which in the male accompanies ejaculation of the semen, and is associated with conditions attained only at puberty.

The actual origin of the sexual tension which ultimately leads to ejaculation is still obscure; it seems, at first sight, probable that in the male this sensation is connected with the accumulation of semen in the seminal vesicles. Pressure on the walls of these structures may be supposed to stimulate the sexual centres in the spinal cord, and also those in the brain; but this theory fails to take into account the condition in the child, in woman, and in castrated males, in all of whom, notwithstanding the absence of the accumulation of any reproductive products, nevertheless a distinct state of sexual tension may be observed. It is, indeed, an old experience that eunuchs may have a very powerful sexual impulse. It is obvious, then, that the sexual impulse must be, to a very great extent, independent of the reproductive glands.


The nature of sexual tension is still entirely unknown. Freud assumes, in view of the recently recognized significance of the thyroid glands in relation to sexuality, that possibly some substance generally diffused throughout the organism is produced by stimulation of the erogenic zones, that the products of decomposition of this substance exercise a specific stimulus on the reproductive organs, or on the associated sexual centre in the spinal cord. For example, such a transformation of a toxic, chemical stimulus into a special organ-stimulus is known to occur in the case of certain foreign poisonous materials introduced into the body. Freud considers that the probability of this chemical theory of sexual excitement is increased by the fact that the neuroses referable to disturbances of the sexual life possess a great clinical similarity to the phenomena of intoxication induced by the habitual employment of aphrodisiac poisons (certain alkaloids).

The relief of sexual tension occurs in the natural way in the sexual act, in the completion of normal intercourse between man and woman. Notwithstanding the numerous observations of leading natural philosophers and physicians concerning the act of sexual congress, among which I need only refer to those of Magendie, Johannes Müller, Marshall Hall, Kobelt, Busch, Deslandes, Roubaud, Landois, Theopold, Burdach, and many others, we possess, for reasons it is easy to understand, no really exact investigations regarding the different phenomena occurring during the sexual act. More particularly, the demeanour of the woman during this act is a matter which remains extremely obscure.

The French physician Roubaud has given us the most vivid description of sexual intercourse:

“As soon as the penis enters the vaginal vestibule, it first of all pushes against the glans clitoridis, which is situated at the entrance of the genital canal, and owing to its length and to the way in which it is bent, can give way and bend further before the penis. After this preliminary stimulation of the two chief centres of sexual sensibility, the glans penis glides over the inner surfaces of the two vaginal bulbs; the collum and the body of the penis are then grasped between the projecting surfaces of the vaginal bulbs, but the glans penis itself, which has passed further onward, is in contact with the fine and delicate surface of the vaginal mucous membrane, which membrane itself, owing to the presence of erectile tissue between the layers, is now in an elastic, resilient condition. This elasticity, which enables the vagina to adapt itself to the size of the penis, increases at once the turgescence and the sensibility of the clitoris, inasmuch as the blood that is driven out of the vessels of the vaginal wall passes thence to[48] those of the vaginal bulbs and the clitoris. On the other hand, the turgescence and the sensitiveness of the glans penis itself are heightened by compression of that organ, in consequence of the ever-increasing fulness of the vessels of the vaginal mucous membrane and the two vaginal bulbs.

“At the same time, the clitoris is pressed downwards by the anterior portion of the compressor muscle, so that it is brought into contact with the dorsal surface of the glans and of the body of the penis. In this way a reciprocal friction between these two organs takes place, repeated at each copulatory movement made by the two parties to the act, until at length the voluptuous sensation rises to its highest intensity, and culminates in the sexual orgasm, marked in the male by the ejaculation of the seminal fluid, and in the female by the aspiration of that fluid into the gaping external orifice of the cervical canal.

“When we take into consideration the influence which temperament, constitution, and a number of other special and general circumstances are capable of exercising on the intensity of sexual sensation, it may well be doubted if the problem regarding the differences in voluptuous sensation between the male and the female is anywhere near solution; indeed, we may go further, and feel convinced that this problem, in view of all the difficulties that surround it, is really insoluble. So true is this, that it is a difficult matter to give a picture at once accurate and complete of the phenomena attending the normal act of copulation. Whilst in one individual the sense of sexual pleasure amounts to no more than a barely perceptible titillation, in another that sense reaches the acme of both mental and physical exaltation.

“Between these two extremes we meet with innumerable states of transition. In cases of intense exaltation various pathological symptoms make themselves manifest, such as quickening of the general circulation and violent pulsation of the arteries; the venous blood, being retained in the larger vessels by general muscular contractions, leads to an increased warmth of the body; and, further, this venous stagnation, which is still more marked in the brain in consequence of the contraction of the cervical muscles and the backward flexion of the neck, may cause cerebral congestion, during which consciousness and all mental manifestations are momentarily in abeyance. The eyes, reddened by injection of the conjunctiva, become fixed, and the expression becomes vacant; the lids close convulsively, to exclude the light. In some the breathing becomes panting and labouring; but in others it is temporarily suspended, in consequence of laryngeal spasm, and the air, after being pent up for a time in the lungs, is finally forcibly expelled, accompanied by the utterance of incoherent and incomprehensible words.

“The impulses proceeding from the congested nerve centres are confused. There is an indescribable disorder both of motion and of sensation; the extremities are affected with convulsive twitchings, and may be either moved in various directions or extended straight and stiff; the jaws are pressed together so that the teeth grind against each other; and certain individuals are affected by erotic delirium to such an extent that they will seize the unguarded shoulder, for instance, of their partner in the sexual act, and bite it till the blood flows.


“This delirious frenzy is usually of short duration, but sufficiently long to exhaust the forces of the organism, especially in the male, in whom the condition of hyperexcitability is terminated by a more or less abundant loss of semen.

“A period of exhaustion follows, which is the more intense in proportion to the intensity of the preceding excitement. The sudden fatigue, the general sense of weakness, and the inclination to sleep, which habitually affect the male after the act of intercourse, are in part to be ascribed to the loss of semen; for in the female, however energetic the part she may have played in the sexual act, a mere transient fatigue is observed, much less in degree than that which affects the male, and permitting far sooner of a repetition of the act. ‘Triste est omne animal post coitum, præter mulierem gallumque,’ wrote Galen, and the axiom is essentially true—at any rate, so far as the human species is concerned.”

Kobelt, in his celebrated work on the human organs of sexual pleasure (Freiburg, 1884, p. 55 et seq.), gave a similar description of copulation. In the majority of descriptions of coitus but little attention is usually paid to the demeanour of the woman. Magendie long ago drew attention to the fact that there was much obscurity about this matter, and insisted that, in comparison with the male, the female exhibited extremely marked differences, in respect to her active participation in copulation and to the intensity of her voluptuous sensations.

“Very many women,” says this distinguished physiologist, “experience a sexual orgasm accompanied by very intense voluptuous sensations; others, on the contrary, appear entirely devoid of sensation; and some, again, have only a disagreeable and painful sensation. Many women excrete, at this moment of most intense sexual pleasure, a large quantity of mucus, but the majority do not exhibit this phenomenon. In reference to all these phenomena, there are perhaps no two women who are precisely similar.”

The demeanour of the woman in coitu has been especially studied by gynæcologists, such as Busch, Theopold, and recently Otto Adler. Little known are the observations of Dr. Theopold, based upon his own experience, and published in 1873. He energetically denies the view that the woman is always passive in coitus, and also that the female reproductive organs are inactive during intercourse. During erotic excitement in woman the heart beats more frequently, the arteries of the labia pulsate powerfully, the genital organs are turgid and are hotter to the touch. As the most intense libido approaches, the uterus undergoes erection; its base touches the anterior abdominal wall; the Fallopian tubes can be distinctly felt through the abdominal wall, when these are thin, as hard, curved strings.[50] The vagina, especially the upper part of the passage, undergoes rhythmical contraction and dilation, and complete gratification terminates the act.

As long as the muscle guarding the vaginal outlet (constrictor cunni—bulbo-cavernosus muscle) is intact, the woman is able, by tightly grasping the root of the penis, to expedite the ejaculation of semen, or to increase the stimulation of the male until ejaculation occurs.

These powerful contractions of the vagina, alternating rhythmically with the dilatations occurring during the orgasm, grip the glans penis tightly, and induce a coaptation of the male urethral orifice with the os uteri externum, and the enlargement of the latter orifice facilitates the entrance of the semen. According to O. Adler, sexual excitement of the woman during sexual intercourse begins with very powerful congestion of the entire reproductive apparatus, including even the fimbriæ surrounding the abdominal orifice of the Fallopian tubes; this congestion gives rise to an erection of these parts, and especially of the clitoris, the labia minora, and the vaginal wall. At the same time, the glands of the vaginal mucous membrane and of the vaginal inlet begin to secrete, as is manifest by the moistness of the external genital organs. There now begin gentle rhythmical contractions of the vagina and of the pelvic muscles, and during the orgasm these increase, to become spasmodic contractions, whereby an increased secretion is extruded, and more especially is there an evacuation of uterine mucus.

It is very important to note the various physiological accompaniments of coitus, since they assist us to understand the mode of origin and the biological root of many sexual perversions. Already in normal sexual intercourse sadistic and masochistic phenomena may be observed. The biting and crying out mentioned by Roubaud as occurring in the voluptuous ecstasy are, indeed, of very frequent occurrence. Rudolf Bergh, the celebrated Danish dermatologist and physician, of the Copenhagen Hospital for Women suffering from Venereal Diseases, alludes regularly in his annual reports to the consequences of “erotic bites.” Amongst the Southern Slavs, the custom of “biting one another” is very general (Krauss). The intense dark red coloration of the face and of the reproductive organs and their environment is also a physiological accompaniment of sexual excitement, and this coloration is more marked in consequence of the associated turgescence of the male and female genital organs; it leads, moreover, to associations of feeling in[51] which the blood plays a dominant part. Hence we deduce the biological and ethnological significance of the colour red in the sphere of sexuality. The nature of the sadist “to see red” during sexual intercourse is, therefore, firmly founded upon a physiological basis, and merely exhibits an increase of a normal phenomenon.[17] The crying and cursing in which many individuals find sexual gratification has also a physiological representative in the inarticulate noises and cries frequently expressed in normal intercourse. It is remarkable that an Indian writer on erotics—Vātsyāyana—deduces this verbal sadism from the various noises which are commonly made in normal intercourse. Similarly, in both parties to the sexual act the presence of masochistic elements can be detected: witness the patience with which pain is borne when it has a voluptuous tinge.[18]

Passing to the consideration of the posture adopted during intercourse, we find in civilized man, who in this respect is far removed from animals, the normal position during coitus is front to front, the woman lying on her back with her lower extremities widely separated, and the knee and hip joints semiflexed; the man lies on her, with his thighs between hers, supporting himself on hands or elbows—or often the two unite their lips in a kiss.

Of all other numerous positions during coitus, or figuræ Veneris, some of which, according to Sheikh Nefzawi, are possible only “in words and thoughts,” the postures that demand consideration on hygienic grounds are, lateral decubitus of the woman, dorsal decubitus of the man, and coitus a posteriori (for example, when man and woman are extremely obese); but this subject belongs rather to the chapter on sexual hygiene.

Ploss-Bartels has proved that the position described above as normal was usual already in ancient times and amongst the most diverse peoples. The adoption of this position in coitus undoubtedly ensued in the human race upon the evolution of the upright posture. It is the natural, instinctive position of civilized man, who in this respect also manifests an advance on the lower animals.

[13] Apart from Strindberg and Weininger, who advocate, for the salvation of the future and as ideals of development, the most pronounced and one-sided development of the masculine type, I need refer only to “The Physiological Weakmindedness of Woman” by Möbius, and to such writings as B. Friedländer’s “Renaissance des Eros Uranios” (Berlin, 1904), and to Eduard von Mayer’s “The Vital Laws of Civilization” (Halle, 1904), as characteristic symptoms of such a reaction.

[14] Itching, Tickling, and Sexual Sensibility.—On September 2, 1890, Dr. Bronson, Professor of Dermatology in the New York Polyclinic, read before the American Dermatological Association a paper on “The Sensation of Itching” (printed in the New York Medical Record of October 18, 1890, and republished by the New Sydenham Society in 1893 in a volume entitled “Selected Monographs on Dermatology”). In this paper the author deals at some length with the relations between itching and the voluptuous, or, as he calls it, the “aphrodisiac,” sense. He also denies the specific character of sexual sensations, and states that the aphrodisiac sense “is but a higher development of the primitive sense of contact. It has a special organ or instrument—the penis in the male, the clitoris in the female. Moreover, it is distributed over the entire cutaneous surface” (New Sydenham Society, op. cit., p. 314). In this connexion, and more particularly apropos of Dr. Bloch’s statement on the previous page that “the function of the clitoris is expressed by its name” (German, Kitzler), it is interesting to note that in German the word Kitzel variously denotes—(1) tickling, (2) itching, (3) sexual desire, (4) sexual gratification. The more commonly employed German term for itching, Jucken, does not possess any secondary sexual signification; but, as Dr. Bronson points out (op. cit., p. 312), “both the English words itch and itching, and the Latin prurio and pruritus, in their secondary significations, convey the idea of a longing, teasing desire, while pruritus was commonly used by the Latins as a synonym for lasciviousness.” The same idea is, of course, conveyed by the English derivations, pruriency and prurient. Thus, we see that the familiar terminology of these three tongues (and doubtless of many others) refuses to countenance Hirschfeld’s view regarding the specific character of sexual sensibility.—Translator.

[15] In his profound essay, containing a number of new points of view, “Concerning the Emotions” (Monatsschrift für Psychiatrie und Neurologie, 1906, vol. xix., Heft 3 and 4), Dr. Edmund Forster has ably discussed these primitive relations between voluptuous sensation and pain. According to him, the sexual tension, which commences at the time of puberty, is an increased stimulus of the sensory nerves of the genital organs. The positive sensation-tone of libido accompanying ejaculation represents the relief of the painful, disturbing sensation of sexual tension, and for this reason it has a pleasurable tone.

[16] Carpenter perceives in this “sense of contact” the essence of all sexual love.

[17] For this reason many ingenious prostitutes wear a red chemise.—Cf. P. Näcke, “Un Cas de Fetichisme de Souliers,” etc. (“A Case of Shoe Fetichism”), in Bulletin de la Société de Médecine Mentale de Belgique, 1894.

[18] Thus it appears that sadism and masochism are not manifestations of “genital atavism” in the sense of Mantegazza and Lombroso, but are rather due to the gradual and pathological increase of physiological phenomena still manifest at the present day.



We have here a primitive inequality, whose primitiveness goes back to the opposition between content and form. From this primeval difference arise all the other secondary differences.”—Alfons Bilharz.[54]


Sexual differentiation as the primeval fact of human sexual life — Waldeyer on the significance of sexual differentiation — The biological law of Herbert Spencer — Antagonism between reproductive and developmental tendencies — Example of menstruation in illustration of this contrast — The primitiveness of woman, and her greater proximity to nature — Untenability of the notion of the “inferiority” of woman — Views upon the nature of her physical development — Increased differentiation of the sexes in consequence of civilization — Comparison between medieval and modern pictures of women — Obscuration of the sexual contrast in primitive times — Examples — Change of the voice in consequence of civilization — Return to primitive conditions in certain phenomena of the emancipation of woman (the adoption of a masculine style of clothing, tobacco-smoking) — Sexual indifference in the primitive history of mankind — Connexion therewith of a primordial gynecocracy (according to Ratzel) — Secondary sexual characters — Principal difference between the masculine and the feminine body — New researches on sexual differences — Skeletal differences — The specific sexual differences of the human pelvis — Their dependence upon civilization and upon development of the brain — Differences in body-size and body-weight — In muscular and fatty development — In the constitution of the blood — Sexual differences in the larynx and the voice — The skulls of men and women — The weight of the brain — No ground for the assumption of the inferiority of women — Differences in brain-structure — Researches of Rüdinger, Waldeyer, Broca, G. Retzius, etc. — Recognition of the fact that the feminine type is somewhat infantile — This type due to adaptation to the purposes of reproduction — Masculine and feminine beauty — Men and women different, but neither superior to the other.



The difference between the sexes is the original cause of the human sexual life, the primeval preliminary of all human civilization. The existence of this difference can be proved, alike in physical and psychical relations, already in the fundamental phenomenon of human love, in which, because here the relations are simple and uncomplicated, it is most easily visible.

Waldeyer, in his notable address on the somatic differences between the sexes, delivered in 1895 at the Anthropological Congress in Kassel, drew attention to the fact that the higher development of any particular species is notably characterized by the increasing differentiation of the sexes. The further we advance in the animal and vegetable world from the lower to the higher forms, the more markedly are the male and the female individuals distinguished one from another. In the human species also, in the course of phylogenetic development, this sexual differentiation increases in extent.

In the development of these sexual differences, the antagonism first shown by Herbert Spencer to exist between reproduction and the higher evolutionary tendency plays an important part. Among the higher species of animals the males exhibit a stronger evolutionary tendency than the females, owing to the fact that their share in the work of reproduction has become less important. The more extensive organic expenditure demanded by the reproductive functions limits the feminine development to a notably greater extent than the masculine. In the human species this retardation of growth in the female is especially increased in consequence of menstruation, and this affords a striking example of the truth of Spencer’s law. I quote also in this connexion the remarks of the Würzburg anatomist Oskar Schultze, in his recently published valuable monograph on “Woman from an Anthropological Point of View,” pp. 55, 56 (Würzburg, 1906);

“The undulatory periodicity of the principal functions of the feminine organism, which depends on the processes of ovulation and menstruation, and is invariable in the females of the human species, does not occur in the other mammalia (with the exception of apes). In these latter, as far as we have been able to observe, the secondary sexual characters, in the matter of differences in muscular development and in strength, are not so developed, or sometimes are not so developed, as in the human species. We must in this connexion exclude the differences which appear in domestic animals as a result[56] of domestication (for example, the difference between the cow and the bull). In the human female, the periodicity, which begins to act even on the youthful, still undeveloped body, has during thousands of years increased the secondary sexual differences. Periodicity is, in my opinion, an important cause of the fact that woman is inferior to man, more especially in the development of the muscular system and in strength, and that her organs, for the most part, are more closely approximated to the infantile type.

“The sexually mature body of a woman has always during the intermenstrual period to make good the loss undergone during menstruation. Hardly has this been effected and the climax of vital energy been once more attained, when a new follicle ruptures in the ovary, and the menstrual hæmorrhage recurs; thus continually, month after month, the vital undulation and the vital energy rises and falls. The energy periodically expended in woman’s principal function has for thousands of years ceased to be available for her own internal development. The actual loss on each occasion is so trifling that numerous women hardly find it disagreeable. The effect depends upon summation. The earnings are almost immediately spent, not for the purpose of her own domestic economy, but for the sake of another, in the service of reproduction; this comes first, for the species must be preserved. To accumulate capital for her personal needs has been rendered more difficult for woman than it is for man.

The previously quoted biological law of Spencer (regarding the antagonism between reproduction and the higher evolutionary tendency), of which menstruation affords so interesting an illustration, explains also the fact pointed out by Milne Edwards, Darwin, Brooks, Lombroso, Alfons Bilharz, and other investigators—to wit, the greater simplicity and primitiveness of woman as compared with the more complicated and more variable nature of man—more variable, because it oscillates within wider boundaries. Paracelsus long ago enunciated the profound saying, “Woman is nearer to the world than man.

It would be fundamentally erroneous to deduce from these considerations any inferiority or comparative inutility of woman. Rather, indeed, the nature of her bodily structure in relation to the purposes it has to fulfil is comparatively nearer perfection; and this admirable adaptation has undergone an increase in the course of the evolution of civilization. We have already noted the fact that under the influence of the continually increasing predominance of the brain in the male, certain retrogressive processes have also made themselves manifest (as, for example, the increasing loss of hair); and these processes in woman have gone farther than in man, because in her case the progressive development is in its very nature less extensive. Hence recent investigators, such as Havelock Ellis, have actually come to the conclusion that the ideal type, towards which the bodily development[57] of mankind is striving, is represented by the feminine—that is, by a youthful type.[19]

It is, however, very doubtful if this evolution will ever go so far that the primitive difference between man and woman, founded as it is in the very nature of the sexual, will ever pass away. On the contrary, notwithstanding the retrogressive changes associated with the excessive development of the brain, we find that there is an increasing differentiation of the sexes induced by civilization. To this fact, which possesses great importance in connexion with the discussion of the woman’s question and the problem of homosexuality, W. H. Riehl, the historian of civilization, in his work on the family, published in 1885, was the first to draw attention. He devotes the second chapter of this book to the differentiation of the sexes in the course of civilized life. He was astonished by the fact that in almost all the portraits of celebrated beauties of previous centuries the heads appeared to him too masculine in type when compared with the ideal of feminine beauty which now appeals to us.

“The medieval painters, when representing the general type of angels and saints, van Eyck and Memmling in their Madonnas and female saints, paint heads exhibiting the most clearly defined individual characteristics, but into these feeling representations of delicate virginity there intrude certain harsh lineaments, so that the heads strike us as masculine, or as a little too old. Van Eyck’s Madonnas,[58] with the Christ-child at their breast, frequently look to us like women of thirty years old. But the painter must have followed Nature; it is Nature which since his time has changed. The tender virgin of three hundred years ago had more masculine lineaments than she has at the present day, and he who in the portrait of a Maria Stuart expects to find a face like one he would meet in a modern journal of fashion will find himself greatly disappointed by certain traits in the pictures of this celebrated beauty, traits which to the nineteenth century would seem almost masculine.”

The contrast between the sexes becomes with advancing civilization continually sharper and more individualized, whereas in primitive conditions, and even at the present day among agricultural labourers and the proletariat, it is less sharp and to some extent even obliterated. Let the reader familiarize himself with the likenesses of modern women of the working classes; they seem to us almost to resemble disguised men. In the stature, also, of the sexes among savage peoples, and among the lower classes of the civilized nations, the sexual differences are much less marked than in our cultivated large towns. Very characteristic of the differentiating influence of civilization is, moreover, the effect on the voice. Riehl remarks on this subject:

“The tone of the voice even, in simpler conditions of civilization, is generally far more alike in the two sexes. The high tenor, the feminine man’s voice, and the deep alto, the masculine woman’s voice, are among civilized peoples far rarer than among savage races, in whom masculine and feminine varieties sometimes seem hardly distinguishable. Our bandmasters travel to Hungary and Galicia to find clear high tenors, whilst deep alto voices are now increasingly difficult to find, for the reason that among the civilized peoples the masculine-feminine contraltos die out. Dominant, on the other side, is the distinct contrast between the two sexual tones of voices—soprano and bass. This fact has already had a determining influence in our school of song; it affects our vocal tone-teaching—to such a hidden, out-of-the-way path have we been led by our recognition of the continually increasing contrast between man and woman.”

Certain phenomena and aberrations of the movement for the emancipation of women, such as the adoption of a masculine style of dress and the use of tobacco, are no more than relapses into a primitive condition, which among the common people has persisted unaltered to the present day. We need merely allude to the man’s hat, the short coat, and the high-laced boot of the Tyrolese women, and to the tobacco-smoking of the women at the wedding festivals among the German peasantry. A false “emancipation” of this kind is frequently encountered among peasants, vagabonds, and gipsies, to which, moreover, the neuter[59] designation of the women of this class as das Mensch and “woman-fellow,” etc., bears witness; we have herein characteristic indications of the fact that “peculiar to the woman of the people is a self-conscious, actively progressive masculine nature.”

That the comparative obliteration of sexual contrasts among the lower orders of modern society is a vestigial relic of primitive conditions, is shown also by the primeval history of the nations. The idea appearing already in the Biblical creation myth, and the thought later expressed by Plato, and recently by Jacob Böhme, that the first human being was originally both man and woman, and that the woman was subsequently formed out of this primeval human being Adam—this pregnant thought merely expresses the fact of the indifference of the sexes among savage people and in the primitive history of mankind. The hermaphrodite of ancient art is, like the man-woman of the modern woman’s movement, an atavism, a retrogression to these long-past stages, of which we have only the above-mentioned vestiges to remind us.[20]

Friedrich Ratzel, in the introduction to his great work on “The Races of Man,” also alludes to this primitive obscuration of sexual contrasts in earlier stages of civilization, and draws therefrom interesting conclusions regarding the existence of a primordial gynecocracy, a “regiment of women.” I have myself discussed this question in the second volume of my book, “Contributions to the Etiology of Psychopathia Sexualis,” and shall return to the subject when dealing with masochism.

W. H. Riehl, and after him Heinrich Schurtz, have laid stress on the dangers to civilization involved in the obliteration of sexual differences. Sexual differentiation stands and falls with civilization. The former is the indispensable preliminary of the latter. Destroy it, and the whole course of development will be reversed.

Sexual differences comprise for the most part the diverse development of the so-called “secondary sexual characters”—that is to say, all the differential characteristics which distinguish man from woman, over and above those strictly related to the work of sex—for instance, stature, skeleton, muscles, skin, voice, etc.

The masculine body has evolved to a greater extent than the[60] feminine body as a force-producing machine, for in man the bones and the muscles have a larger development, whereas in woman we observe a greater development of fat, whereby the plasticity of the body is enhanced, but its mechanical utility and energy are impaired.

According to the most recent scientific representation of sexual differences, as we find them enumerated in the monograph of Oskar Schultze, based upon his own observations, and also on the earlier works of Vierordt, Quetelet, Topinard, Pfitzner, Waldeyer, C. H. Stratz, J. Ranke, E. von Lange, Havelock Ellis, Merkel, Bischoff, Rebentisch, Welcker, Schwalbe, Marchand, and others, the most important physical differentiæ between man and woman are the following:

The supporting framework of the body, the osseous skeleton, exhibits important differences in man and woman. The bones of women are on the whole smaller and weaker. Especially extensive sexual differences are noticeable in the pelvis. Wiedersheim regards these sexual differences of the woman’s pelvis as a specific characteristic of the human species. In all the anthropoid apes they are far less strongly marked than in man. Moreover, these differences exhibit a progressive development, which is to an important extent dependent upon advancing civilization. For this reason, as G. Fritsch, Alsberg, and others, point out, among the majority of savage races the differences between the male and the female pelvis are far less extensive than among civilized nations. The characteristic peculiarities of the pelvis of the European woman, which can be distinguished from the male pelvis at a glance—namely, its greater extent in transverse diameter, the greater depression and the wider opening of the anterior osseous arch—are far less marked among women of the South African races and among the South Sea Islanders.

The enlargement of the female pelvis in the course of human evolution is dependent upon the most important of all the factors of civilization, the brain. Even in the human fœtus the great size of the brain gives rise to a far greater proportionate development of the skull than we find in the fœtus of any other mammal. This influences the pelvic inlet and the sacrum, but also the large pelvis, since, in consequence of the adoption by man of the upright posture, the pregnant uterus expands more laterally, and thus opens out the iliac fossæ. In the lower races of man, it is precisely this plate-like expansion of the iliac fossæ which is so much less developed than in the case of civilized races.


Another physical difference between the sexes concerns stature and body-weight.

The mean stature of woman is somewhat less than that of man. Among Europeans it is about 1·60 metres (5 feet 3 inches), as compared with 1·72 metres (5 feet 734 inches) for the average stature of the male. According to Vierordt, the new-born boy is already on the average from 12 to 1 centimetre (15 to 25 inch) longer than the new-born girl. Johannes Ranke characterizes the individual factors which give rise to these differences in the following manner:

“The typical bodily development of the human male is characterized by a trunk relatively shorter in relation to the whole stature; but in relation to the length of the trunk, the upper and the lower extremities are longer, the thighs and the legs longer, the hand and the foot also longer; relatively to the long upper arm and to the long thigh respectively, the forearm and the leg are still longer; and relatively to the entire upper extremity, the entire lower extremity is also longer.

“On the other hand, the feminine proportions, remaining more approximate to those of the youthful state, as compared with those of the fully developed male, are distinguished by the following characteristics: comparatively greater length of the trunk; relatively to the length of the trunk, comparatively shorter arms and lower extremities, shorter upper arm and forearm, shorter thigh and leg, shorter hands and feet; relatively to the shorter upper arm, still shorter forearm, and relatively to the shorter thigh, still shorter leg; finally, relatively to the entire upper extremity, shorter lower extremities.”

This difference in the stature is found also in primitive peoples. Among the savage races of Brazil, who are still living in the stone age, Karl von den Steinen found that the average height of the men was 162 centimetres (5 feet 3·8 inches), whilst that of the women was 10·5 centimetres (4·14 inches) less. This difference corresponds exactly with that given in Topinard’s figures as corresponding to the average male height of 162 centimetres (5 feet 3·8 inches).

In relation to the greater length of the body, the other proportions of the male body also exhibit greater figures. More particularly, the width of the shoulders is greater in man as compared with woman.

The body-weight of man is likewise notably greater than that of woman. According to Vierordt, the average weight of a new-born boy in middle Europe is 3,333 grammes (7·348 pounds), as compared with that of a new-born girl 3,200 grammes (7·055 pounds). The difference, therefore, is 133 grammes (0·293 pounds = about 412 ounces). In the case of adults, the mean[62] difference amounts to 7 kilogrammes (15 pounds), since the average weight of man is 65 kilogrammes (143 pounds), that of woman 58 kilogrammes (128 pounds).

Corresponding with the slighter development of the skeleton, the muscular system in woman is also less strongly developed; the muscles contain a larger percentage of water than those of man, and in this point also we find a resemblance to the juvenile state.

On the other hand, the development of fat in woman is much greater than in man. Bischoff investigated the relations between muscle and fat in man and woman, and found that in the entire body in the male there was 41·8 per cent. muscle and 18·2 per cent. fat; in the female 35·8 per cent. muscle and 28·2 per cent. fat. In the female two regions of the body are distinguished by a specially abundant deposit of fat, the breast and the buttocks, whereby both parts receive the stamp of extremely prominent secondary sexual characters. Upon this greater deposit of fat depends the softer, more rounded form of the feminine body; whilst the muscular system is less developed than in man. Man, on the other hand, is especially powerful in the head, neck, breast, and upper extremities. The contrast between the typical beauty of man and woman, respectively, is mainly explicable by the differences just enumerated.

Woman’s skin is clearer and more delicate than that of man.

More important is the fact that the blood of man contains a notably larger quantity of red blood-corpuscles (erythrocytes) than that of woman. Woman’s blood is richer in water. Welcker found in a cubic millimetre of man’s blood 5,000,000, and in the same quantity of woman’s blood 4,500,000 blood-discs. In correspondence with this, the hæmoglobin content and the specific weight of woman’s blood are both less than those of man’s. Since the red blood-corpuscles play a very important part in the human economy as oxygen-carriers, this sexual difference in the corpuscular richness of the blood is very important, and influences to a high degree the bodily organization of both sexes.

Larynx and voice remain infantile in woman. Woman’s larynx is notably smaller than man’s. After puberty woman’s voice is, on the average, in the deep tones an octave, in the high tones two octaves, higher than man’s.

According to the investigations of Pfitzner, the measurements of the head (length, breadth, height, circumference) are smaller in woman than in man. Woman’s skull remains, in respect of[63] numerous peculiarities of structure, strikingly like the skull of the child.[21] This infantile quality of a woman’s skull, we must again point out, justifies no conclusion regarding the inferiority of woman. Schultze, when presenting these data for our consideration, rightly reminds us of the well-known fact that the man of genius is also frequently distinguished by infantile peculiarities.

Woman’s skull is absolutely smaller than man’s; hence, of course, her brain is also absolutely smaller. Waldeyer gives as the mean weight of a man’s brain 1,372 grammes (44·12 ounces), and of a woman’s brain, 1,231 grammes (39·58 ounces); Schwalbe’s figures are respectively 1,375 grammes (44·21 ounces) and 1,245 grammes (40·03 ounces).

In this connexion O. Schultze remarks:

“The question immediately arises, whether we are justified in speaking of the mental ‘inferiority’ of woman, because her brain weighs less than that of man.

“Now, in the first place, it is obvious that the greater body-weight of man demands a greater weight of brain. And there is nothing remarkable about the fact that the greater size exhibited by many organs of the male should be exhibited also by the brain. It seems very natural that the unquestionably greater functional activity which has distinguished the masculine brain for many thousand years should be manifested by the notably greater size of that organ, just as a larger muscle generally performs more work than a small one.

“As a matter of fact, among the numerous investigators occupied with this question, many have assumed that differences in the psychical power of human brains are dependent upon differences in their size. But this is an assumption merely, and with Bischoff, who as long as forty years ago conducted an exhaustive investigation into the problem of the relations between brain-weight and intellectual capacity, we must say also to-day that ‘the proof of any such connexion has not yet been offered us.’”

Whether the study of the finer structure of the brain in man and woman will enable us to form more trustworthy conclusions regarding their respective intellectual valuation, is a question whose answer must for the present be postponed. According to Rüdinger and Passet, in new-born boys and girls there exist very remarkable differences in the formation and development of the brain. In the male fœtal brain the frontal lobes are larger, wider, and higher; the convolutions, especially those of the[64] parietal lobe, are better formed than in the female fœtal brain. Waldeyer was able to confirm this observation, and he considers it of great importance, especially in view of the large share which the frontal lobes have in the performance of purely intellectual functions. Broca, however, was unable to detect a lesser development of the frontal lobes in woman. Eberstaller and Cunningham even believed that they could establish that this portion of the brain was more powerfully developed in woman! Finally, the great Swedish cerebral anatomist, G. Retzius, made an exact investigation of the sexual differences between the brains of man and woman in the adult state. According to O. Schultze, his results can be regarded as authoritative. Retzius stated that hitherto no specific invariably recurrent peculiarity had been found by which the female brain could always with certainty be distinguished from the male; still, he was inclined to attribute to woman’s brain a greater simplicity of structure; it showed less divergence from the fundamental type.

This coincides with the fact to which we have already alluded, that woman as compared with man possesses less variability, that she is the simpler, more primitive being. Similarly, experience teaches ethnologists that the men of a race differ from one another to a much greater extent than the women.[22]

If we wish to sum up in a word the nature of the physical sexual differences, we must say: Woman remains more akin to the child than man.

This, however, in no way constitutes an inferiority, as Havelock Ellis and Oskar Schultze have convincingly shown. It is only the expression of a primitive difference in nature, brought about by the adaptation of the female body to the purposes of reproduction. This is the cause of the more infantile habitus of women (according to the above-quoted biological law of Herbert Spencer).

The observation of the physical differences between man and woman also teaches us the futility of the old dispute as to whether man’s body or woman’s was the more beautiful.[23] The different[65] tasks which lie before the male and female bodies respectively give rise to different development of individual parts. If this development is complete in its kind, the body is beautiful. Stratz, in the introduction to his book on “The Beauty of the Female Body,” has rightly identified perfect beauty with perfect health. Man’s body and woman’s will alike be beautiful if all secondary sexual characters are developed in a harmonious and not excessive degree, if the idea of “manliness in man” and “womanliness in woman” have attained full expression, and have not been unduly limited by isolated peculiarities and variations.

Masculine and feminine beauty are different. There can be no question regarding the superiority of one or the other.

[19] Another author—H. Quensel—goes even farther than this in his book (in some respects most fantastic), “Do We Advance? An Ideal Philosophical Hypothesis of the Evolution of the Human Psyche based upon Natural Science,” pp. 152, 153 (Cologne, 1904). He writes: “When we compare the position in civilization of man and woman, we find that man unquestionably takes the higher position in respect of those intellectual impulses which serve as the basis of the higher and the highest stages of civilization, especially the impulse of building and construction, of the collection and the elaboration of scientific facts, in regard to the science of statesmanship and social activities, in respect also of the study of the connexion between cause and effect, and in respect of art. When, however, we apply to the problem before us the data I have obtained concerning the details of physical retrogression and of psychical advance, it appears that woman in many relations stands unquestionably higher than man; for woman, in her development, not alone in bodily relations, as regards the retrogression of the skeletal and muscular systems and the delicacy of constitution dependent thereon, as regards the cutaneous covering of the body, and as regards speech and voice, has advanced much farther than man on the path of bodily retrogression necessary for the progress of civilization. Positively, also, in all that concerns the development of the highest psychical impulses, the development of general nervous sensibility, of a finer discrimination of moral values and of idealism, of general charity and capacity for self-sacrifice in association with diminishing egoism, of transcendental piety and religious sentiment, and also of clearness of vision, and, finally, in all that concerns the development of an adaptability disclosing supreme psychical differentiation—associated, indeed, with deficient fixity of purpose—woman has advanced far beyond man on the forward path of civilization; that is to say, in respect of civilization, woman unquestionably excels man.”

[20] W. Havelburg, in his essay, “Climate, Race, and Nationality in Relation to Marriage,” published in “Health and Disease in Relation to Marriage and the Married State,” by Senator and Kaminer, p. 127 (London, Rebman, Limited, 1904), also alludes to the significance of progressive sexual differentiation in the process of civilization, and draws attention to the increase in feminine beauty.

[21] We may refer also to Paul Bartel’s valuable work, “Ueber Geschlechtsunterschiede am Schädel”—“Sexual Differences in the Skull” (Berlin, 1898). The author concludes: “We are unable to recognize any important difference between man’s skull and woman’s—probably, indeed, no such difference exists.”

[22] We must not ignore the fact, that other distinguished anthropologists, such as Manouvrier, Pearson, Frassetto, and especially Giuffrida-Ruggieri, have recently contested the slighter variability and the infantile character of woman. Cf. Giuffrida-Ruggieri, “Anthropological Considerations regarding Infantilism, and Conclusions regarding the Origin of the Varieties of the Human Species” (Italian Zoological Review, 1903, vol. xiv., Nos. 4, 5). Cf. also the interesting remarks of Näcke in the “German Archives for Criminal Anthropology,” 1903, vol. xiii., pp. 292, 293.

[23] Konrad Lange—“Das Wesen der Kunst” (“The Nature of Art”), pp. 361-364; Berlin, 1901—has ably exposed the subjective grounds of this ancient dispute, and has shown their untenability.



Among all the higher activities and movements of our time, the struggle of our sisters to attain an equality of position with the strong, the dominant, the oppressive sex, appears to me, from the purely human point of view, most beautiful and most interesting; indeed, I regard it as possible that the coming century will obtain its historical characterization, not from any of the social and economical controversies of the world of men, but that this century will be known to subsequent history distinctively as that in which the solution of the ‘woman’s question’ was obtained.”—Georg Hirth.



The fact of psychical sexual differences — Attempts to deny their existence — Rosa Mayreder’s “Critique of Femininity” — The sexual nuances of the psyche — Ineradicability of these — Condemnation of psychical bisexuality — Expression of psychical difference in the demeanour of the sperm cell and the germ cell — Original representatives of the differing natures of man and woman — Recent researches regarding psychical sexual differences — Sensory sensations — Intellectual differences — Experiments of Jastrow, Minot, and others — Inquiries of Delaunay and Havelock Ellis — Readier suggestibility of women — Tendencies to independent activity on the part of women — Higher spiritual activities in man and woman — Woman’s talent for politics — Emotivity of woman — Greater susceptibility to fatigue — Decline of emotivity in the modern woman — Artistic talents of man and woman — Greater variability of man — Influence of menstruation on the feminine physique — Psychological experiments of H. B. Thompson — Woman and man heterogeneous natures — Comparison by Alfons Bilharz — The enigmatical in woman — Poets and thinkers on this question — A saying of Theodor Mundt — Antipathy of the sexes — Love as the solution of the enigma — Significance of psychical differences for the woman’s question — Part played by women in civilization — Retrospect of primeval history — Women as the discoverers of handicrafts and arts — As the teachers of man — Thomas Henry Huxley on the woman’s question — The value of work for woman — Improvement of domestic service according to Schmoller — The woman of the future.

Appendix: Sexual Sensibility in Woman. — An old topic of dispute — Sexual sensibility in man — Feminine erotic types — Theory of Lombroso and Ferrero — Adler’s monograph — Refutation of the theory of the lesser sensual sensibility of woman — Diffuse character of the feminine sexual sphere — Researches of Havelock Ellis regarding the sexual impulse in woman — Experience of alienists regarding sexuality in woman — A case of temporary sexual anæsthesia — Causes of sexual frigidity.



The unquestionably existing physical differences between the sexes respectively, correspond equally without question to existing psychical differences. Psychically, also, man and woman are completely different beings. We must not employ the word “psychical,” as it is so often employed, in the sense of pure “intelligence”; we must understand the term to relate to the entire conception and content of the psyche, to the whole spiritual being—the spiritual habitus, emotional character, feelings, and will: we shall then immediately be convinced that masculine and feminine beings differ through and through, that they are heterogeneous, incomparable natures.

Under the influence of Weininger’s book, the attempt has recently been made to deny the existence of sexual differences in the psychical sphere, and especially to contest the origin of these differences from the fundamentally different nature of the masculine and feminine types. (Weininger himself not only went so far as to declare the obliteration and equalization of sexual differences, but he even asserted that all feminine nature was a personification of nothingness, of evil; he wished to annihilate femininity, in order to allow the existence of one sex only, the male, this being to him the embodiment of the objective and the good.) I recently read with great interest a most intelligent book, one full of new ideas, by Rosa Mayreder—“Zur Kritik der Weiblichkeit” (A Critique of Femininity), Jena, 1905—in which the author maintains what she calls the “primitively teleological character of sexuality”; that is, she considers the different sexual functions of man and woman to be comparatively unimportant for the determination of their spiritual nature, and regards the individual psychical differentiation as independent of sexuality and of the different sexual natures. In her opinion, sexual polarity does not extend to the “higher nature” of mankind, to the spiritual sphere. She offers as a proof of this, among other points, the fact that by crossed inheritance spiritual peculiarities of the father can be transmitted to the daughter. Very true. Moreover, no objective student of Nature will deny that a woman can attain the same degree of individual psychical differentiation as a man, or that she can bring her “higher nature” to an equally great development. But quite as incontestable is the fact which Rosa Mayreder keeps too much in[70] the background: that everything psychical, the entire emotional and voluntary life, receives from the particular sexual nature a peculiar characterization, a distinctive colouring, and a specific nuance; and that these precisely constitute the heterogeneous and the incomparable in the masculine and the feminine natures.

The attempts to annihilate sexual differences in theory are very old,[24] but they have always proved untenable in practice. They have invariably been shattered by contact with—sexual differences.

Naturam expellas furca, tamen usque recurret (You may drive out Nature with a pitchfork, but she will inevitably return). And this return of Nature is, in fact, a step forward, in advance of primitive hermaphroditic states. Sexual differences are ineradicable; civilization shows an unmistakable tendency to increase them. There is also an individual differentiation of sexual characters. It is proportional to the differentiation of the psychical characters of man and woman. And the problem is this: How is it possible for woman to ensure the development and perfectibility of her higher nature, without eliminating and obscuring her peculiar character as a sexual being?

When Rosa Mayreder herself, at the end of her book (p. 278), comes to the conclusion—

“In the province of the physical, about which no doubt is possible, the development towards ‘homologous monosexuality,’ towards the unconditional sexual differentiation of individuals, constitutes the most desirable aim. Every divergence from the normal renders the individual an imperfect being; physical hermaphroditism is repulsive because it represents a state of insufficiency, an inadequate and malformed structure. It appertains to the qualities of beautiful and healthy human beings that the body should be that of an entire man or an entire woman, just as it is desirable that the body should be intact in all other respects”

—she has at the same time expressed a judgment regarding the value of psychical bisexuality which must ever be a rudiment merely in the “entire man” or the “entire woman,” and can[71] never attain the transcendent importance, can never represent the progress towards higher altitudes, which the author, in her singular misunderstanding of the true relations, wishes to ascribe to that condition. We may admit that the bisexual character is more or less strongly developed in the individual male or female, without thereby abandoning the fundamental natural difference between man and woman, which involves not merely the physical, but also the psychical sphere.

I disbelieve, therefore, in Rosa Mayreder’s “synthetic human being,” who is “subordinate alike to the conditions of the masculine and the feminine” but I do believe, as I have already stated in earlier writings, in an individualization of love, in an ennobling and deepening of the relationship between the sexes, such as is possible only to free personalities. This is easily attainable in conjunction with the retention of all bodily and mental peculiarities, as these have developed during the process of sexual differentiation between man and woman.

There can be no possible doubt that psychically woman is a different creature from man. And quite rightly Mantegazza declares the opinion of Mirabeau, that the soul has no sex, but only the body, to be a great blunder.

Let us now return to the directly visible elementary phenomenon of love, to the process of coalescence of the spermatozoon and the ovum. From our study of other natural processes we feel we are justified by analogy in drawing the conclusion that the observed kinetic difference between the spermatozoon and the ovum is the expression also of different psychical processes. Georg Hirth draws attention to these remarkable differences in respect of their modes of energy between spermatozoa and ova.[25] He also infers from the greater variability of the spermatozoa in the different animal species, as compared with the usual spherical form of the ova, that to the spermatozoon is allotted the most important kinetic function in the process of reproduction, to which opinion its aggressive mobility would also lead us, whereas the ovum rather represents potential energy.

“We can indeed hardly believe that anywhere in the entire organic world is there anything, of the same minute size, endowed with like energy and enterprise as these so-called spermatozoa (‘little sperm animals’), which are indeed not animals, and which yet prepare for us more joy and more sorrow than any animal does. There everything is busy. With what turbulence they hurry along until they attain their ardently desired goal, and having attained it, thrust themselves[72] head first into the interior of the ovum! In this we have a drama for the gods. To doubt the energy of these structures would be preposterous.”

Spermatozoa and ova are the original representatives of the respective spiritual natures of man and woman. Disregarding all further differentiation and individualization, the fundamental lineaments of the masculine and feminine natures harmonize with the demeanour of the reproductive cells; and we are able to recognize that for each is provided a different task, and yet that the task of each is no less important than that of the other. Quite rightly Rosa Mayreder points out, that the male sex stands biologically no higher than the female from the reproductive and procreative point of view; that in the continued reproduction of life male and female have equal share.

No less true, on the other hand, is the remark of Havelock Ellis, whose position in relation to the woman question is throughout objective:

“As long as women are distinguished from men by primary sexual characters—as long, that is to say, as they conceive and bear—so long will they remain unequal to man in the highest psychical processes” (“Man and Woman,” p. 21).

The nature of man is aggressive, progressive, variable; that of woman is receptive, more susceptible to stimuli, simpler.

Numerous exact, scientific, ethnological, and psychological investigations concerning the sexes, among the most important of which we may mention those of Darwin, Allan, Münsterberg, C. Vogt, Ploss-Bartels, Jastrow, Lombroso and Ferrero, Shaw, Havelock Ellis, and Helen Bradford Thompson, have confirmed the existence of these differences in the nature of the two sexes. Many individual points still remain obscure, but the above-mentioned sexual difference is everywhere recognizable, and can never be entirely eradicated, even by a higher psychical differentiation. Even the author of the “Critique of Femininity,” who would open an unlimited perspective to the freedom of individuality, is still compelled to admit that the majority of women differ from men, no less in character than in intellect.

Havelock Ellis, in his classical work “Man and Woman” (London, 1892), has given a summary of the psychical differences between the sexes, based upon the most recent anthropological and psychological investigations. This work forms the foundation for all later researches.

Of the individual psychical phenomena in man and woman,[73] the sensory sensations first demand consideration. In these no absolute and general superiority of one sex over the other can be shown to exist. The assumption that women have a more delicate power of sensory receptivity cannot be sustained; indeed, the contrary appears the truer view. It is true that women can be more readily excited by sensory stimuli, but they do not possess a more delicate sensory receptivity.

As regards the general intellectual endowment of the sexes, the interesting experimental researches of Jastrow into the psychology of woman show that she possesses a greater interest in her immediate environment, in the finished product, in the decorative, the individual, and the concrete; man, on the other hand, exhibits a preference for the more remote, for that which is in process of construction or growth, for the useful, the general, and the abstract.

In agreement with these views is a report in the Berliner Städtischen Jahrbuch (1870, pp. 59-77), concerning the knowledge possessed by several thousands of boys and girls at the time of their entry into school. The report states:

“The more usual, the more approximate, and the easier an idea is, the greater is the probability that the girls will excel the boys, and vice versa. In boys more frequently than in girls do we find that they know nothing of quite common things in their immediate environment.”

Professor Minot arranged that persons of both sexes should cover ten cards with sketches of any subject they chose. It appeared from this experiment that the sketches of the men embraced a greater variety of subjects than those of the women.

In respect of quickness of comprehension and intellectual mobility woman is distinctly superior to man. Women, for example, read faster than men, and can give a better account of what they have read. From this fact, however, no conclusion can be drawn regarding their higher intellectual capacity, for many men of exceptional intelligence read very slowly.

Delaunay inquired of a number of merchants regarding the industrial capacity of the two sexes, and was informed that women are more diligent than men, but less intelligent, so that they can be trusted only in routine work.

In general, the experience of the postal service coincided with what has already been stated. Havelock Ellis regarded the result of an inquiry made at several of the large English post-offices as “typical and trustworthy.” One of the chief postmasters was of the opinion that as counter and instrumental clerks, doing[74] concurrently money-order and savings-bank business, taking in telegrams and signalling and receiving, and in attending to rough and illiterate persons, women clerks were preferable to men. Women telegraphists work as intelligently and as exactly as their male colleagues. They do not, however, like the men, exhibit an interest in the technical working of telegraphy; and, owing to a lack of staying power, they are unable to compete with the men in times of pressure. The comparatively slighter strength of the wrist made it difficult for women telegraphists to write at the desired speed, and to produce the requisite number of copies.

All the reports agree in this—that

“Women are more docile and amenable to discipline, they do light work as well as men, and are steadier in some respects; on the other hand, they more often remain away from work on the ground of trifling indisposition, are more likely to fail to meet severe demands, and show less intelligence in respect of tasks lying outside the course of their current work, and in general show less desire and less capacity for self-culture.”

Unquestionable is the greater suggestibility of women, doubtless dependent on organic peculiarities, in consequence of which they so quickly become subject to the influence of persons and opinions, when the latter exercise a sufficiently powerful effect upon their emotional life. The independent, the poietic,[26] are more distant from women, are more foreign to their nature, than in the case of men. But that these are quite impossible to them I am compelled to doubt. And when, for example, Havelock Ellis considers it unthinkable that a woman should have discovered the Copernican system, I need merely call to mind the widely known physical discoveries of Madame Curie, whose thoroughly independent work qualified her to succeed her husband as professor at the Sorbonne. We cannot therefore exclude the possibility that in the sphere of the natural sciences notable discoveries and inventions may be made in the future in consequence of the independent work of women.

Very interesting are the observations of Paul Lafitte on the differences between the higher intellectual qualities of man and woman. After drawing attention to the greater receptivity of woman, he says:

“When children of both sexes are educated together, during the first year the girls lead; at this time they have to do chiefly with the reception and retention of impressions, and we see every day that women put men in the shade by the vividness of their impressions and the excellence of their memory. In addition to this we must take into[75] account the inborn sense of women for symmetry, from which it is readily explicable that they generally receive geometrical instruction with very beneficial results. In correspondence with this, we find that woman students of medicine excel in the examinations in physiology and general pathology, and show a clearness of apprehension of series of facts which is really remarkable; on the other hand, they are distinctly inferior in clinical investigations, in which other intellectual qualities are involved. In general, women are more receptive for facts than for laws, more for the concrete than for general ideas. If we chance to hear an opinion expressed regarding someone with whom we are acquainted, a man’s opinion will probably be more accurate in the general outlines, but a woman’s will show a clearer perception of the nuances of character.”

Thus it is that among women concrete philosophers are greater favourites than abstract metaphysicians. According to the experience of a London bookseller, ladies of the West End of London prefer Schopenhauer, Plato, Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus, and Renan; that is to say, the most concrete, the most personal, the most poetical, and the most religious of thinkers. This last quality especially fascinates the mind of woman. At the same time, want of relationship between the strong suggestibility of woman and her slight power of independent production also strikingly manifests itself in woman’s position with regard to the religious phenomena of the spiritual life. Havelock Ellis shows that ninety-nine in every hundred of the great religious movements of the world have received their initial impulse from men. And yet it has always been women who have been the first to attach themselves to the founders of religions.

In contrast with this, women appear to possess more independent significance in the sphere of politics, as is shown by the fact that there has been such a large number of celebrated women rulers. Diplomatic adroitness, finesse, and self-command, to the extent to which these qualities favour political activity, are indeed specific feminine peculiarities.

The above-mentioned greater suggestibility of woman is connected with her greater emotivity; that is, woman reacts to physical and psychical stimuli more quickly than man. The “vasomotor theory” of the emotions, originated by Mosso and C. Lange, is true to a greater extent of woman than of man. Woman’s neuro-muscular system is more irritable, as is especially shown in the case of the pupil of the eye, and in that of the urinary bladder. By Mosso and Pellacani the bladder is termed the most sensitive psychometer in the body. Contraction of the bladder is well known to occur in many emotional states, such as fear, expectation, tension, and bashfulness. This is much commoner[76] in women and children than in men. The fact that in women under the influence of strong excitement there arises a powerful impulse to urinate, is a fact extremely well known to medical men and others with special opportunities for observation.

The greater neuro-muscular irritability of woman may also be explained as the result of the relatively greater size of her abdominal organs.

To this greater irritability of woman there corresponds a greater susceptibility to fatigue. It appears as a result of any long-lasting task; it is, in fact, a safeguard against over-exertion, which in man so commonly leads to complete exhaustion, because he works too long. The ease with which a woman becomes exhausted is no doubt partly dependent upon the physiological anæmia to which we alluded in the last chapter—to the larger quantity of water and the smaller quantity of red blood-corpuscles (erythrocytes) in her blood.

Havelock Ellis has detected a decline in the emotivity of modern woman, under the influence of custom and education, especially as a result of the great diffusion of bodily sports among girls. But he does not believe that anything of the kind can lead to a complete abolition of the emotional differences between the sexes, since these depend upon firmly established bodily differences, such as the greater extension of the sexual sphere and of the visceral functions in woman, upon woman’s physiological anæmia, and upon the more marked periodicity of her vital processes.

“So many factors work in combination, in order to give a basis for the play of the emotions, whose greater extension can be overcome by no alteration of the milieu, or of custom. The emotivity of woman may be reduced to finer and more delicate shades, but it can never be brought down to the level of the emotivity of the male sex.”

In respect of artistic endowment the male sex is unquestionably superior to the female. The long series of male poets, musicians, painters, sculptors, of the highest genius cannot be matched by any notable number of striking female personalities in the same sphere of artistic activity. Even the art of cooking has been further developed by men. Without doubt the differences in sexuality are the principal causes of this deficiency. The impetuous, aggressive character of the male sexual impulse also favours poietic endeavours, the transformation of sexual energy into higher plastic activity, as it fulfils itself in the moments of most exalted artistic conception. The greater variability of the[77] male also serves to explain the greater frequency of male artists of the first rank.

John Hunter, Burdach, Darwin, Havelock Ellis, and others, have shown that there exists a greater tendency on the part of man to divergence from type. In the course of evolution, man represents the more variable and progressive, woman the more monotonous and conservative, moiety of mankind. These differences find no less clear expression in the psychical sphere. Notwithstanding increasing individual differentiation—in truth, affecting only the minority, the élite among women, as Rosa Mayreder very rightly insists—this great difference in the variability of the sexes will ever continue. This biological fact is certainly of great importance in respect of civilization and of the relation between the sexes.

In a comparison between man and woman, the important fact of menstruation must never be forgotten. Menstruation is only the expression, only a phase, of a continuous undulatory movement in the entire feminine organism. The intellectual and emotional state of woman is, beyond question, a different one in different phases of the monthly cycle. Icard, and recently Francillon (“Essai sur la Puberté chez la Femme”—“Essay on Puberty in Woman,” pp. 189-198; Paris, 1906), have given us exact information on this subject.

“In all tests of strength and cleverness,” says Havelock Ellis, “the woman’s degree of strength and exactitude is related to the level of her monthly curve. Moreover, in every criminal procedure, the relation between the time of occurrence of the alleged crime and the accused’s monthly cycle should invariably be taken into consideration.”

The results obtained by Helen Bradford Thompson by experimental research in her “Comparative Psychology of the Sexes” (Würzburg, 1905) agree in general with the details we have already given as the result of earlier researches. In her experiment also

“man proved better developed in respect of motor capacity and accuracy of judgment. Woman had, indeed, sharper senses and a better memory. The opinion, however, that emotional excitement plays a greater part in the life of woman has not been confirmed. On the contrary, woman’s greater tendency towards religion and towards superstition is a proof of her conservative nature, of her function to guard established beliefs and modes of action.”

Thus we cannot expel from the world the fact that man and woman are eminently different alike physically and mentally. Whether, as Alfons Bilharz declares, they are really throughout[78] equivalent opposites, or, as he expresses the comparison, like +1 and -1, their sum is equivalent to nil, must remain at present undetermined. But that ineradicable differences exist is certain. There is no question here of an inferiority to man. What woman lacks on one side she has more of on another. She is through and through a creature constructed on other lines, standing nearer to Nature than man, and for this reason, like Nature, problematical, the great guardian of the secrets of Nature (Bärenbach).

“Who shall explain the wonderful
Magic power of woman?”

says Platen, thus touching an aspect of ancient German sentiment, which has also found expression in the sanctum aut providum of Tacitus. Ovid, Byron, Börne, and Rousseau, have also described the wonderful and mysterious influence of woman’s nature, fundamentally different from that of man. Most beautifully has it been described by Theodor Mundt in the following magnificent passage of his book on Charlotte Stieglitz:

“The most secret elements of woman’s nature, in association with the magic mystery of her organization, indicate the existence in her of peculiar and deep-lying creative ideas, and in this wonderful riddle of love we find the sympathetic of the entire universe expressed. The sympathetic, which attracts and binds forces, the silent music in the innermost being of the world’s soul, by means of which the stars, the suns, bodies, spirits, are compelled to move in this eternal, changeable rhythm, and in this continuous opposition—is the feminine of the universe. This is the eternal feminine, of which Goethe says that it draws us heavenward. Therefore there is nothing deeper, more gentle, more unsearchable, than a woman’s heart. All-movable, it extends into that wonderful distance of existence, and hears with fine nerves the most hidden elements of existence. Touched and shaken by every sound, like a spiritual harp, the most hidden aspects of nature and of life often evoke in its strings prophetic oscillations. The feminine is something common to all life, the most gentle psyche of existence, and hence the fine connexion of the feminine nature with the general organizations, operations, and world forces; hence the mysterious force of attraction which exercises itself in such a magic manner as the true pole of sex, as though each one only in, and with, the true feminine could first find peace.... The ancients made a remarkable use of this idea of a common feminine element in human nature, inasmuch as by the name they gave to the pupil of the eye they expressed the idea that a young girl was to be found in every man’s eye. Young girls (pupillæ, κοραι)—these formed the centre of the human eye, as Winkelmann points out; and is it possible to describe the eye more aptly and distinctively, this radiant chiaroscuro of the hidden basis of the soul, than by ascribing femininity to it—femininity, which rises from that hidden basis of the soul as an Anadyomene rises from the deep?”


Nietzsche speaks also of the “veil” of beautiful possibilities with which woman is covered, and which makes the charm of her life. This undefinable spiritual emanation, this dark, irrational element in woman, led von Hippel to coin the clever phrase that woman is a comma, man a full-stop. “With man, you know where you are—you have come to an end; but with woman, there is something more to be expected.” From this inward nature of woman there proceed immense results: the feminine essence is a civilizing factor of the first rank; were woman wanting, civilization would be non-existent. Very beautifully has the great Buckle drawn attention to the indispensability of woman for the spiritual progress of mankind. He remarks that men, the slaves of experience and of fact, have only the women to thank for the fact that their slavery has not become much more complete and more narrowing. Women’s way of thinking, their spiritual care, their intercourse, their influence, diffuse themselves unnoticed through the whole of society, and take their place throughout its entire structure. By means of this influence, more than by any other cause, we men have been conducted, says Buckle, to a completely thought-out world.

This obscure, wonderful nature of woman has, however, its shadowy side. Upon it depends that primitive, deeply-rooted antipathy of the sexes, which is due to their profound heterogeneity, to the impossibility that they can ever really understand one another. Herein lie the roots of the brutal enslavement of woman by man in the course of history; of the belief in witchcraft; of contempt for women, and the continued renewal of theoretical misogyny. The victory of sexual love over this contrast is often apparent only. Leopardi, and Theophile Gautier (in “Mademoiselle de Maupin”), have shown how little woman understands the inner nature of man; how little man understands woman has been poetically described by Annette von Droste-Hülshoff.

For this reason, true love is an understanding of the contrasted natures, a solution of the riddle. “Être aimé, c’est être compris,” says Delphine de Girardin.

What significance for the so-called “woman’s question” has the determination of the existence of psychical sexual differences? We answer: The nature of woman, completely developed in all her peculiarities, and enriched throughout her being by all the spiritual elements of our times adequate to her being, ensures her an equal share in civilization and in the progress of humanity.

Complete equality between man and woman is impossible.[80] But are all sides of woman’s nature as yet adequately worked upon, fully developed? Is not the civilized woman of the future still to be created? The true nucleus of the woman’s movement is, I conceive, to be found in the emancipation of woman from the dominion of pure sensuality, and from the not less disastrous dominion of masculine spiritual arrogance. Have we men really any right to pride ourselves to such a degree upon our knowledge and intelligence? Should we without woman have advanced anything like so far?

A glance at the beginnings of human civilization should teach us a little modesty, for there we see that woman was equal, if not superior, to man in productive, poietic activity. Gradually only, in the progress of civilization, man supplanted woman, and monopolized all spheres of productive activity, whilst woman was limited more and more to domestic occupations. According to Karl Bücher, to women were originally allotted all the labours connected with the obtaining and subsequent utilization of vegetable materials, also the provision of the apparatus and vessels necessary for this purpose; to man, on the other hand, were allotted the chase, fishing, herding, and the provision of weapons and tools. Thus woman was engaged in threshing and grinding the grain, in baking bread, in the preparation of food and drink, in the making of pots, and in spinning. Since these occupations are largely conducted in a rhythmical manner, and the women worked together in the fields or in their huts, while the men hunted singly in the forests, it resulted that women were the first creators of poetry and music.

“Not,” writes Bücher, “upon the steep summits of society did poetry originate; it sprung rather from the depths of the pure strong soul of the people. Women have striven to produce it; and as civilized man owes to woman’s work much the best of his possessions, so also are her thought and her poetry interwoven in the spiritual treasure handed down from generation to generation. To follow the traces of woman’s poetry farther, in the intellectual life of the people, would be a valuable exercise. Although these traces have to a large extent disappeared, during the subsequent period of man’s poetic activity, which appears to have gained predominance in proportion as men monopolized the labours of material production, still, in a number of races the influence of woman’s poetry can be followed for a long way into the literary period.”

To a large extent men first learned from women the elements of the various handicrafts. For instance, as Mason says, primeval woman gave her “ulu”[27] to the saddler, and taught him the mode of preparing leather. Women were the first discoverers[81] of numerous industries and handicrafts. The further development of these in later times was the work of men; men alone understood how to differentiate their work, while from the first it was inevitable that motherhood should greatly limit the working powers of woman.

In the middle ages there still existed in Europe, especially in Germany and France, certain industries which were exclusively in the hands of women—for instance, the silk-spinners, silk-weavers, tailoresses, and girdle-makers. In all these occupations there were mistresses, maids, and female apprentices. It was not until the sixteenth century that manufactures became a monopoly of the male sex. In the eighteenth century women were actually forbidden by law to take part in manufactures, until in recent times a reaction in their favour took place.

Therefore we must not from the present conditions judge the capacity of women for practical activity outside the home. I quite agree with Gerland, who assumes that during this oppression of the female sex for thousands of years, a certain deteriorating influence must have been exercised, and I agree also with Havelock Ellis, who hopes much from the development in the civilization of the future of an equal freedom for man and woman, and who demands that we should acquire experience by unlimited experiment regarding the qualifications of the female sex for all departments of activity. Golden words as to the necessity for a comprehensive emancipation of woman were uttered in 1865 by the celebrated anthropologist Thomas Huxley, in his essay on “Emancipation—Black and White,” in which he strongly condemns the present system for the education of girls:

“Let us have ‘sweet girl graduates’ by all means. They will be none the less sweet for a little wisdom; and the ‘golden hair’ will not curl less gracefully outside the head by reason of there being brains within. Nay, if obvious practical difficulties can be overcome, let those women who feel inclined to do so descend into the gladiatorial arena of life, not merely in the guise of retiariæ, as heretofore, but as bold sicariæ, breasting the open fray. Let them, if they so please, become merchants, barristers, politicians. Let them have a fair field, but let them understand, as the necessary correlative, that they are to have no favour. Let Nature alone sit high above the lists, ‘rain influence and judge the prize.’”

And that men would maintain their old position cannot be doubted. The only change would be that women, too, would take part in the work of civilization.[28] They would introduce a[82] new and fresh element into this work; and inasmuch as every woman would be brought up systematically with a view to her life’s work, the physically and psychically disastrous idleness of unmarried young girls, of “old maids,” and of “misunderstood women,” would come to an end, and these unattractive types would pass away for ever. The work of mother and housewife must, in correspondence with these changes, be more highly esteemed than has hitherto been the case. The technique and the theory of domestic economy can even now, with sufficient intelligence devoted to the question, be remodelled and transformed to a satisfying activity.[29]

Woman is an integral constituent of the processes of civilization, which, without her, becomes unthinkable. The present moment is a turning-point in the history of the feminine world. The woman of the past is disappearing, to give place to the woman of the future; instead of the bound, there appears the free personality.



An old and still unsettled subject of dispute is the strength and nature of sexual sensibility in woman. Whilst the manifestation of sexual appetite and sexual enjoyment in the male are fairly simple—and in man, as A. Eulenburg has proved, the copulatory impulse is much more powerful than the reproductive impulse—the sexual sensibility of woman is still involved in obscurity. Magendie remarked that no two women are exactly alike in respect of their sexual sensations and perceptions. There is no question that among women the varieties of erotic type are far more numerous than among men. Rosa Mayreder, for instance, distinguishes an erotic-eccentric, an altruistic-sentimental, and an egoistic-frigid type. The attempt has been made to prove that the last-named type is the most widely diffused—that it is, in fact, the characteristic type of woman. Lombroso and Ferrero were the first to maintain the slight sexual sensibility of woman; Harry Campbell took the same view; and recently a Berlin physician—Dr. O. Adler—has published a book on the “Deficient Sexual Sensibility of Woman,” the conclusions of which are that

“the sexual impulse (desire, libido) of woman is, alike in its first spontaneous origin and in its later manifestation, notably less intense than that of man; and further, that libido must first be aroused in a suitable manner, and that often it never appears at all.”

Albert Eulenburg, in an article in Zukunft (December 2, 1893), and later in his “Sexual Neuropathy,” pp. 88, 89 (Leipzig, 1895), first opposed this doctrine of the physiological sexual anæsthesia of woman, and quoted in support of his view the following passage from the writings of the celebrated gynæcologist Kisch:

“The sexual impulse is so powerful, in certain life periods it is an elementary force which so overwhelmingly dominates the entire organism of woman, that it leaves no room in her mind for thoughts of reproduction; on the contrary, she greatly desires sexual intercourse even when she is very much afraid of becoming pregnant or when there can be no question of any pregnancy occurring” (see Kisch, “The Sexual Life of Woman,” English translation, Rebman, 1908).

I have myself asked a great many cultured women about this matter. Without exception, they declared the theory of the lesser sexual sensibility of women to be erroneous; many were[84] even of opinion that sexual sensibility was greater and more enduring in woman than in man.[30]

When we actually consider the physical bases of feminine sexuality, we must admit that women’s sexual sphere is a much more widely extended one than that of men. The author of “Splitter” has very well characterized this fact when he says:

“Women are in fact pure sex from knees to neck. We men have concentrated our apparatus in a single place, we have extracted it, separated it from the rest of the body, because prèt à partir. They (women) are a great sexual surface or target; we have only a sexual arrow. Procreation is their proper element, and when they are engaged in it they remain at home in their own sphere; we for this purpose must go elsewhere out of ourselves. In the matter of time also our part in procreation is concentrated. We may devote to the matter barely ten minutes; women give as many months. Properly speaking, they procreate unceasingly, they stand continually at the witches’ cauldron, boiling and brewing; while we lend a hand merely in passing, and do no more than throw one or two fragments into the vessel.”

It is possible, however, that the greater extension of the sexual sphere in woman gives rise, if one may use the expression, to a greater dispersal of sexual sensations, which are not, as they are in man, closely concentrated to a particular point, and for this reason the spontaneous resolution of the libido (in the form of the sexual orgasm) is rendered more difficult.

Recently Havelock Ellis has made a searching investigation into the nature of the sexual impulse in woman. He found the following differences by which it was distinguished from the sexual impulse of the male:

1. The sexual impulse of woman shows greater external passivity.

2. It is more complicated, less readily arises spontaneously, more frequently needs external stimulus, while the orgasm develops more slowly than in man.

3. It develops in its full strength only after the commencement of regular sexual intercourse.


4. The boundary beyond which sexual excess begins is less easily reached than in man.

5. The sexual sphere has a greater extension, and is more diffusely distributed than in man.

6. The spontaneous appearances of sexual desire have a marked tendency to periodicity.[31]

7. The sexual impulse exhibits in woman greater variability, a greater extent of variation, than in man—alike when we examine separate feminine individuals, and when we compare the different phases in the life of the same woman.

This great extension of the feminine sexual sphere is illustrated, for example, by the case reported by Moraglia, of a woman who was able to induce sexual excitement by the masturbation of fourteen different areas of her body.

How much more woman is sexuality than man is can be observed in asylums, where the conventional inhibitions are withdrawn. Here, according to Shaw’s observations, the women greatly exceed the men in fluency, malignity, and obscenity; and in this relation there is no difference between the shameless virago from the most depraved classes of London and the elegant lady of the upper circles. Noise, uncleanliness, and sexual depravity in speech and demeanour, are much commoner in the women’s wards of asylums than on the male side. In all forms of acute mental disorder, according to Shaw, the sexual element plays a much more prominent part in woman than in man.

Another experienced alienist, Dr. E. Bleuler, confirms this permeation of woman with sexuality. In a recently published work he remarks:

“The whole ‘career’ in the average woman depends on sexuality; marriage, or some equivalent of marriage, signifies to her what to man a position in business signifies—viz., her ambition in all relations, the happily conducted struggle for simple existence, as well as for pleasure and for all else that life can bring, and only after these, sexuality also, and the joy of having children. Not to marry, and also extra-conjugal sexual indulgence, induce in woman inevitable consequences, with strongly marked emotional colouring; to the average man all this is a trifling affair, or it may even be a matter of absolute indifference. And we have further to consider the limits imposed by our civilization, which make it impossible for the well-brought-up woman to live, and even to think, as she pleases in sexual matters, and which demand the actual suppression of sexual emotions, not merely of the[86] outward manifestation of these emotions. Is it to be wondered at that in these circumstances, in mentally disordered women, we encounter once more the suppressed sexual feelings, those sexual feelings which really comprise at least half of our natural existence?—I say at least half, for the analogous impulse, the nutritive impulse, seems really to be inferior in strength to the sexual impulse, in civilized as well as in savage human beings.”

In the majority of cases the sexual frigidity of woman is, in fact, apparent merely—either because behind the veil prescribed by conventional morality, behind the apparent coldness, there is concealed an ardent sexuality, or else because the particular man with whom she has had intercourse has not succeeded rightly in awakening her erotic sensibility, so complicated and so difficult to arouse.[32] When he has succeeded in doing so, the sexual insensibility will in the majority of cases disappear. A striking example of this is seen in the following case:

Case of Temporary Sexual Anæsthesia.—Girl twenty years of age. Early awakening of the sexual impulses. Already practised onanism at the age of five years; often for the sake of sexual stimulation introduced hairpins into the vagina, until one day one of these remained, and had to be removed by operation. Notwithstanding this, she soon resumed masturbation, using for this purpose a finger, a candle, etc. Ultimately this became a daily practice, which she continued until she was eighteen years of age. She then first had sexual intercourse with a man, in which, however, she remained quite cold; this was the case also in subsequent attempts with this man and with others. Finally she met a man with whom she was in sympathy, who succeeded in inducing in her sexual gratification, by exchange of rôles, and corresponding alteration in the position in intercourse. Later, intercourse in the normal position also induced complete sexual gratification; since then onanism has been entirely discontinued, and in coitus the orgasm occurs speedily in one or two minutes.

Where sexual frigidity in woman is enduring in character, we have to do either with inherited influences, with sexual developmental inhibition, the psycho-sexual infantilism of Eulenburg, or with some disease (especially hysteria and other nervous disorders), and with the consequences of habitual masturbation.

Speaking generally, the sexual sensibility of woman is, as we have seen, of quite a different nature from that of man; but in intensity it is at least as great as that of man.

[24] The hermaphroditic idea of antiquity has repeatedly fascinated the human spirit. It certainly cannot be denied that something great and noble underlay this idea of overcoming sex. As long as eighty years before, Weininger and the modern apostles of bisexuality, Johann Michael Leupoldt, Professor of Medicine at the University of Erlangen, made the following prophecy: “The reconciliation of the sexual contrast in every human individual will some day proceed so far that, dynamically understood, with the general attainment of a kind of hermaphroditism, humanity, having reached its earthly goal, will become totally extinct” (“Eubiotik oder Grundzüge der Kunst, als Mensch richtig, tüchtig, wohl und lang zu leben”—“Eubiotics, or Principles of the Art of Living as Man Rightly, Virtuously, Well, and Long,” pp. 232, 233; Berlin and Leipzig, 1828). This would amount to a kind of natural realization of E. von Hartmann’s ideal of conscious self-annihilation at the end of time!

[25] G. Hirth, “Entropy of the Germinal System and Hereditary Enfranchisement,” pp. 89, 90 (Munich, 1900).

[26] See note ([36]), p. 94.

[27] The “ulu” is a kind of knife used by Eskimo women.

[28] Cf. in this connexion, Alice Salomon, “The Choice of a Profession for Girls”; Josephine Levy-Rathenau, “A Consideration of the Various Professions for Women, Qualifications and Prospects”; Elizabeth Altmann-Gottheiner, “A Study of Woman.” These are all published in “Das Buch vom Kinde” (“The Book of the Child”), edited by Adele Schreiber, Leipzig and Berlin, 1907, vol. ii., Div. 2, pp. 182-188, 189-209, 210-216 (contains an abstract of the most important literature of the subject).

[29] On this subject one of our most celebrated economists writes as follows: “Let us observe what to-day a good housewife of the middle class is able to get through in the way of domestic and hygienic activity, and of the education of children, and by means of the knowledge and employment of domestic machines; let us not overlook in what a one-sided way the great advances in natural science and in the mechanical arts have hitherto been devoted to the service of the great industries, what enormous economies are still possible if the same knowledge and intelligence are devoted to the amelioration of domestic service. Only the rough, barbarous housewife of the lower classes can say, ‘I have no more to-day to do in the house.’ When the mode of life is a healthy one, when to every dwelling-house is attached a garden, the housewife even to-day is fully occupied, and in the future will be still more so, notwithstanding all the schools that come to her assistance, all the shops, all the trades; notwithstanding all the products, including food-products, which nowadays she buys ready-made. And besides her domestic activity, she has to find time for lectures, for culture, for music, and for various socially useful activities—even women of quite the lower classes. Without this no social cure is possible.”—G. Schmoller, “Elements of General Domestic Economy,” vol. i., p. 253 (Leipzig, 1901).

The Simplification of Household Duties.—English readers will find the questions briefly touched upon in this note—the enslavement of woman by an unceasing round of petty domestic toil, the necessity for devoting the same amount of finished intelligence to these domestic problems that has been devoted to “labour-saving” in most departments of masculine activity, and the lines on which future progress may be expected to move, bringing about in this way alone a much-needed “emancipation” of women—fully discussed by Mr. H. G. Wells in his sociological studies. See “Anticipations,” “Mankind in the Making,” “A New Utopia,” “In the Days of the Comet.”—Translator.

[30] Noteworthy is the following utterance of a clergyman regarding the sensuality of country girls: “Young women are in no way behind young men in the strength of their fleshly lusts; they are only too willing to be seduced—so willing that even older girls frequently give themselves to half-grown boys, and girls give themselves to several men in brief succession. Moreover, it is by no means always the young men by whom the seduction is effected. Often enough it is the girls who lure the lads to sexual intercourse, in which case they do not wait till the lads come to their rooms, but they go themselves to the young men’s bedrooms, or wait for them in their beds.”—C. Wagner, “The State of Affairs as Regards Sexual Morality among the Evangelical Agricultural Population of the German Empire,” vol. i., sec. 2, p. 213 (Leipzig, 1897).

[31] E. Heinrich Kisch (“The Sexual Life of Woman,” English translation, Rebman, 1908) names the ovaries “regulators of the sexual impulse.” In the ovary, and in the periodical changes that occur in that organ, are to be found the fundamental cause, and the means of regulation, of the sexual impulse; in the clitoris is the seat of voluptuous sensibility.

[32] Georg Hirth remarks very aptly (“Ways to Love,” Munich, 1906, p. 570): “For it is the task of the man to summon his whole power of self-command, to employ all his skill, to take all the care in his power, that the woman may be, as one says, ‘ready.’ The man who thinks only of his own gratification, and who leaves his partner ungratified, is a brutal being, or, if not brutal, he is simply ignorant of the harm he is doing.... In general, the man has the tempo of gratification much better and more securely under control than the woman; in many women, indeed, the sexual orgasm is very difficult to induce, and in such cases the man must help with skill and tenderness.”



The more dearly we understand how the indeterminate sexual attractive force of the most lowly organisms has, by a continuous addition of psychical elements, slowly developed into the love of the higher species of animals and of mankind, the sooner shall we be inclined to attribute to this sentiment the importance which it deserves. Then we shall no longer be able to regard it as an individual imagination, which has no relation to reality and no roots in the depths of life. It will become to us a measuring rule for the stage of evolution to which we have attained.”—Charles Albert.



Influence of the development of the brain upon the sexual impulse — Relations between speech and love — The psychic-emotional roots of love — Love as a product of civilization — Relation between the physical and the spiritual poietic impulse — The “function-impulse” of Dr. Santlus — Psychical sexual equivalents — Schopenhauer, Hirth, and Mantagazza, on this subject — Rôle of sexuality in the feelings of life — The organic necessity of love — Sexual philosophy — The Marquis de Sade — Otto Weininger — Max Zeiss — Relations of love to the individual feelings of personality — The reproductive impulse and the conjugative impulse — Love and love’s embrace as a personal aim.

The psychogenetic fundamental law of love — The way of the spirit in love — Its tendency from the general to the individual — From the remote to the proximate — Love as a transcendental and as a personal relationship.

The association of religio-metaphysical ideas with the sexual life — A general anthropological phenomenon — Anthropomorphistic-animistic explanation of the relation between religion and the sexual life — Billroth’s scientific analysis of religious perception — L. Feuerback, M’Lennan, and Tylor on this subject — My own description of the psychological processes in the association between the religious and the sexual life — The deification of love according to E. von Mayer — Strongest in women — Vicarious religions and sexual perceptions — History of religio-sexual phenomena — Religious prostitution — Single and repeated acts of religious prostitution — Sexual self-surrender to the deity or his representative — Defloration by divine symbols — Defloration deities among the Indians, the Jews, and the Romans — Religious defloration by representatives of the deity — The Babylonian Mylitta-cult — Diffusion and explanation thereof — Religious prostitution in India — Among primitive peoples — Bachofen’s brilliant explanation of religious prostitution as a counteraction to the individualization of love — Contempt for virginity among primitive peoples — Permanent religious prostitution — Sexual intercourse as a consecrated act — The temple-girls of the Greeks, Phœnicians, and Indians — The Indian “nautch-girls” — The sense of eternity in the religious and the sexual impulse — Sexual mysticism — Religio-erotic festivals — Their wide diffusion — Examples from antiquity, from India, and from Central and South America — Sexual mysticism in Christianity — Religio-sexual sects — The “unio mystica” — The primiz, or mystical marriage — Mariolatry — A religious poem.

Asceticism — Its origin — Metchnikoffs explanation of the origin of asceticism — Disharmonies of the sexual life — Psychology of ascetics — Their hypersexuality — Great antiquity and ubiquity of asceticism — The asceticism of the Indians, Mohammedans, and Christians — Preoccupation of Christian ascetics with sexual matters — Sexual visions — Dissolute sects — Monastic and cloistral life — Modern asceticism — Its difference from ancient asceticism — Its connexion with actual experiences — Example of Schopenhauer — Hitherto unpublished evidence of the relationship between his ascetic views and his own life — Tolstoi on the sorrows of voluptuousness — His relative[89] asceticism — Weininger’s renewal of early Christian asceticism — Its cause — Characteristics of Weininger’s book.

The belief in witchcraft — The principal source of all misogyny and contempt of women — Not a Christian discovery — Primeval association between sexuality and magic — The sexual origin of the belief in witchcraft — Devil’s mistresses — The predisponents of the medieval belief in witchcraft — Continuance of this belief into our own times — Rôle of sexuality in pastoral medicine — External and internal causation of the theological treatment of sexual problems — Sexual casuistic literature — The religious factor in the sexual life of the present day — Sexual excesses of modern sects — The revival of romanticism — Experiences of an elderly physician regarding religion and sexuality — Deprivation of love and satiety of love as sources of religious needs — Significance of the religious factor in the history of love — Subordinate rôle of this in the individualization of the sentiment of love.



If, with Friedrich Ratzel, we understand by civilization the sum total of all the mental acquirements of a period, then also human love, this specific product of civilization, is merely a mirrored picture of the mental activities of the existing epoch of civilization. We can follow this way of the spirit in love from the primitive age down to the present day, and we can detect, in each successive epoch of civilization, the association with sexuality of peculiar spiritual states; and after thus passing in review the thousands of years of human history, we can discern once more in our own epoch the individual psychical elements which characterize the love of modern civilized man.

The increasing spiritualization and idealization of sensuality in the course of civilization, notwithstanding the persistence of the elementary intensity of the sexual impulse, is associated with the fact to which we have already alluded—namely, the preponderance of the brain characteristic of the genus homo—a preponderance which was unquestionably gradually acquired, and arose in consequence of an accumulation of original variations which gave their possessors a certain advantage in the struggle for existence.

Thus very gradually the primary, instinctive, still powerful animal ego underwent expansion into the secondary ego (in Meynert’s sense), into the spiritual personality, to which a fixed foundation was given by the possession of speech. With some justice the origin of speech has been singled out as extremely significant for the development of the feeling of love; and the conquest of the primitive animal instinct has been, above all, attributed to this faculty. A. Cabral, in his interesting work, “La Vénus Génitrix” (Paris, 1882, p. 155), expresses the opinion that speech and song developed solely on account of sexual relations; and he alludes in support of this view to the well-known manifold noises made by various animals in conditions of sexual excitement. It is very significant in this connexion that anthropological science has proved, as an important fact in racial psychology, that the development of poetry preceded that of prose.[33] The original form of speech was rhythmical noise, a[91] poem, a song. And we saw above that this was subservient to more suggestive purposes, and, above all, to sexual allurement. Thus the primitive natural connexion between speech and sexuality appears somewhat probable. With these earlier erotic noises and alluring tones were subsequently associated the first elements of intellectual comprehension, the first thoughts.

This “withdrawal of mankind from pure instinct,” which Schiller, in his essay on the earliest human society, describes as the “most fortunate and most important occurrence in human history,” from which time the struggle towards freedom may be said to begin, gradually enabled the higher feeling-tones of sensation to become more predominant. The elementary impulses became associated with sensations of pleasure and pain as psychical reactions. The “organic sensations” entered the sphere of consciousness, and so gave rise, in association and reciprocal working with the higher sensory stimuli, to the psychico-emotional roots of the impulses. Thus, in the sexual sphere, out of pure voluptuousness, the simple instinctive impulse towards copulation, arose love, whose essence is an intimate association of physical sensations with feelings and thoughts, with the entire spiritual and emotional being of mankind.[34]

“Love,” says Charles Albert, “is the result of all the forward steps of human activity in all departments, and in every direction, as manifested in their effects upon the sexual life. It is an advance which goes hand in hand with all other advances. Man is an inseparable whole, and in theory only can he be subdivided into separate faculties. In reality, indeed, all departments of human development are so intimately associated that progress in any one of them must place something to the credit of all.”

Increasing psychical refinement and differentiation of the human type, domination of the intelligence and of emotion over brute force, transformation of the social relations between man and woman in consequence of economic conditions or of religious and moral ideas, respect for personality, a secured provision for the most pressing vital needs, and a consequent elevation and complication of the sexual life, the influence of a longing for ideal beauty in a psychical and moral sense—all these and much more have contributed to constitute sexual love in the sense in which we understand and experience it at the present day. The speech[92] of the lover of our own time is the comprehensive expression of all human progress. The difference between animal rutting and the lofty sensation of love corresponds exactly to the gulf which separates primitive man, capable only of chipping for himself a few almost useless flint tools, from civilized man who, with the aid of innumerable machines, has tamed to his service the elementary forces of Nature.

We must recur to the earliest beginnings of the evolution of the human psyche in its association with sexuality, in order to understand the profound and primitive connexion between the bodily and the spiritual formative impulse; this connexion has been expressed by the saying that the sexual impulse is the father of all those intellectual impulses peculiar to man which have made him a thinker and a discoverer. In the time of Schelling’s natural philosophy, they went so far as to speak of the “testicular hemispheres” as analogous to the hemispheres of the brain. And is not this connexion also expressed etymologically (in German) in the verbal association of Zeugung (procreation) and Ueberzeugung (certainty, i.e., higher, or intellectual, procreation), and, further, by the fact that in the Hebrew tongue the ideas of “procreation” and “cognition” are jointly represented by a single term? And, returning to the physical sphere, it may be mentioned that, according to Moebius (“Ueber die Wirkungen der Kastration”—“Concerning the Effects of Castration,” Halle, 1906), sexuality is the common product of testicular and cerebral activity.

Plato was already aware of this relationship when he called thought a sublimated sexual impulse, and Buffon likewise when he described love as “le premier essor de la sensibilité, qui se porte ensuite à d’autres objets.” In more recent times, Dr. Santlus, in his valuable essay, “On the Psychology of the Human Impulses” (Archiv für Psychiatrie, 1864, vol. vi., pp. 244 and 262), alluded to this combination of the sexual sphere with the highest spiritual interests of mankind under the name of the “function-impulse.”

From these intimate relations between sexual and spiritual productivity is to be explained the remarkable fact that certain spiritual creations may take the place of the purely physical sexual impulse; that there are psychical sexual equivalents into which the potential energy of the sexual impulse may be transformed. Here belong numerous emotions, such as ferocity, anger, pain, and the productive spiritual activities which find their vent in poetry, art, and religion—in short, the whole[93] imaginative life of mankind in the widest sense is able, when the natural activity of the sexual impulse is inhibited, to find such sexual equivalents, the importance of which in the evolutionary history of human love we shall have later to study in further detail.

Interesting observations regarding this intimate connexion between the spiritual and the physical procreative impulse are to be found in the work of a thinker who made no secret of his intense sensuality, and in whose life and thought sexuality played a peculiar part—in the work of Schopenhauer. In his “New Paralipomena” he lays stress on the similarity between the work of productive genius and the modification of the sexual impulse peculiar to the human race. In another place in which, as Frauenstädt also insists, he is speaking from personal experience, he writes: “In the days and hours when the voluptuous impulse is most powerful, not a dull desire, arising from emptiness and dullness of the consciousness, but a burning longing, a violent ardour, precisely then also are the highest powers of the spirit available, the finest consciousness is prepared for its intensest activity, although at the moment when the consciousness has given itself up to desire they are latent; but it needs merely a powerful effort to turn their direction, and instead of that tormenting, despairing lust (the kingdom of darkness), the activity of the highest spiritual powers fills the consciousness (the kingdom of light).”

Georg Hirth, who, in the section of his “Ways to Love” entitled “Stark-naked Thoughts,” gives in aphorisms an interesting account of the psychology of love, affirms the “delightful phenomenon of a peculiarly active enhancement of our impulse to thought and production,” after erotic satisfaction, after a fortunate love-night. Very ably, also, has Mantegazza described the spiritual activity produced by a happy and victorious love.[35]

Many great thinkers have complained of the alleged impairment of pure spirituality by the sexual life, and have recommended asceticism in order to arrive at a truer internal enlightenment. This, however, would imply pulling up the roots of spiritual poietic[36] activity, the suppression of a rich inner life of[94] thought and feeling, the destruction of all true poetry and art. There would be left behind only the wilderness of a cold abstraction. Look at the letters of Abelard before and after his emasculation. Sexuality first breathes into our spiritual being the warm and blooming life.

“The world,” says Philipp Frey, “would be conceived by us in sharply bounded intellectual pictures, unless we saw it in the changing lights of our sexuality. From the green of gently dreaming desire, through the yellow of surging emotion, and from the blood-red of eager desire to the cool blue of satisfaction—all things appear to us in the light of our sexuality. Life would be better ordered if we were purely intelligible machines for the purposes of nutrition, work, and production. But without the dualism of desire and satisfaction, the world would become torpid in a great yawn.”

This intimate connexion between the psychic-emotional being and the sexual impulse gave rise to a deepening, a concentration, and an increasing intensity, of the feeling of love, whereby the latter becomes the most powerful influence affecting mankind in bodily and spiritual relations. Voltaire, in his “Pensées Philosophiques,” says aptly: “L’amour est de toutes les passions la plus forte, parce qu’elle attaque à la fois la tête, le cœur, et le corps.” That it is in love that the immediate admixture of organic processes most clearly manifests itself is a fact pointed out already by Aristotle, and among modems emphasized by Griesinger.[37]

Thus love discloses itself as a nucleus, the axis of the individual, and therewith also of the social life, a fact indicated already in Schopenhauer’s phrase, describing love as the “focus of the will,” and in Weismann’s expression “the continuity of the germ-plasma.” And we can easily understand that there are literary advocates of a consequent “sexual philosophy,” who base their view of the universe solely and entirely upon the sexual. To them the sexual problem becomes a world problem, eroticism expands into metaphysics. These sexual philosophers start from love to unveil the mysteries of life. The most celebrated advocate of such a sexual philosophy was the Marquis de Sade, of whom I have myself given an account in a pseudonymous[95] work entitled “New Researches concerning the Marquis de Sade” (Berlin, 1904). According to de Sade, it is only through the sexual that the world can be grasped and understood.

In a certain sense the antipodes of the Marquis de Sade is a remarkable sexual philosopher of our own time, the author of “Sex and Character,” Dr. Otto Weininger. His whole circle of thought also revolves exclusively round the sexual. It forms the basis, the starting-point of his exposition; though, indeed, it does so in a purely negative sense. For Weininger is the apostle of asexuality; to him the highest type of human being is the non-sexual, the one who renounces all sexuality. And woman, as the incorporation of sexuality, is to him “nothingness,” the “radically evil” which must be annihilated.

A positive sexual philosopher of a nobler kind than these two anomalous spirits is Max Zeiss, whose book, “Ragnarök, a Philosophico-Social Study,” was published at Strasburg in 1904. He regards work, effort, creation, the strife for material position, for honour and renown, only as subordinate aims for the attainment of one aim—love.

The ever more intimate association of love with the spiritual life, its increasing depth, the inclusion within its sphere of influence of all feelings and thoughts, necessarily give rise to a stronger development of the feeling of individual personality, which, in contrast with the earlier instinctive impulse, came more and more to dominate the amatory life. Now love gained at least an equal importance for the individual that in former conditions it had for the purposes of reproduction, and therewith subjectively the reproductive idea was unquestionably thrust into the background, in comparison with the idea of personal living, of personal enrichment and development, by means of love. Hegel says aptly (“Æsthetics,” Berlin, 1837, vol. ii., p. 186): “The sorrows of love, these frustrate hopes, the very state of being in love, the never-ending pains which the lover actually experiences, this never-ending happiness and joy to which he looks forward in imagination—these are matters devoid of all general interest; they concern only the lover himself.” Schleiermacher also insists, in his letters concerning “Lucinde,” on the great importance of love for the spiritual development of the individual.

The individualization of love has certainly resulted in a great decline in the predominance of the reproductive idea, of the subjective sense of race, without it ever being possible for it to lose its eminent objective significance. Nietzsche, therefore,[96] declares a “reproductive impulse” to be pure “mythology;”[38] and Carpenter, also, in his book, “Love’s Coming of Age,” says that human love is mainly a desire for complete union, and only in much less degree a wish for the reproduction of the race. The profound significance of individual love in the promotion of civilization is exceedingly well described by him when he says:

“Taking union as the main point, we may look upon the idealized sex-love as a sense of contact pervading the whole mind and body—while the sex-organs are a specialization of this faculty of union in the outermost sphere: union in the bodily sphere giving rise to bodily generation, the same as union in the mental and emotional spheres occasions generation of another kind.”

Proof of the fact that love, in its purely individual relations, is also of great importance for human civilization, that it is profoundly significant for the higher evolution of humanity, in addition to its importance for the perpetuation of the species—the proof of this thesis is very important in view of certain problems connected with the theory of population and in view of the practical conclusions deduced from that theory, as, for example, the doctrine of neo-malthusianism. Love and love’s embrace do not exist only for the purposes of the species: they are also of importance to the ego; they are necessary for the life, the evolution, and the internal growth of the individual himself.

And we must not fail to recognize to what extent the fact that the individual has gained much from love ultimately reacts also to the advantage of the species. For the species, as well as for the individual, the true path of progress lies in the direction of the individualization of the sexual impulses.

When we study in detail the gradual permeation of sexuality with spiritual elements, the gradual development of love, and its advance towards perfection by means of civilization, we ascertain that for the love of the modern civilized man there exists a kind of biogenetic, or rather psychogenetic, fundamental law. In[97] modern love we encounter all the spiritual elements which were actively operative in the love of past times; the love of the civilized man of the present day is an extracted, shortened, compressed repetition of the entire developmental course of love from the earliest times to the present day. And the general course of this development reappears also in the love of the individual.

This course is, to put the matter shortly, from the general to the individual, from the remote to the proximate. We can further divide the history of human love into two great epochs. In the first epoch, love was, above all, a transcendental relationship of a religio-metaphysical nature. The transcendental relationships played a more important part than the purely human and personal. Everywhere an ulterior element played its part. In the second epoch, love underwent an evolution into a more personal relationship, in which the human being himself took foremost place, as compared with any transcendental considerations. The history of love is, in fact, an illustration of Compte’s replacement of the theologico-metaphysical epoch of mental development by the anthropological. In individual love, however, there still remain active and demonstrable many transcendental elements. The oldest spiritual elements of love continue to form a portion of the content of modern love, and to play a more or less dominant part in its genesis.

To this primeval and psychical phenomenon belongs, above all, an intimate association between religious ideas and feelings and the sexual life. In a certain sense, the history of religion can be regarded as the history of a peculiar mode of manifestation of the human sexual impulse, especially in its influence on the imagination and its products.

Certain modern writers, members of the laity far from learned in the history of civilization, have considered the Roman Catholic Church pre-eminently responsible for the appearance of this sexual element in ritual and dogma. This, however, is grossly unjust. A scientific study of these relations teaches us that all religions exhibit to a greater or less degree this sexual admixture, and if this appears more prominent in the Roman Catholic Church, it is due, in the first place, to the fact that this religion is nearer to us in time than many of the religions of antiquity, and, in the second place, it is explicable on the ground that the Roman Catholic Church has always displayed greater openness and less hypocrisy than, for example, the Protestant pietists, who, as the Königsberg scandal, the Eva van Buttler affair, etc., show, are no less blameworthy in respect of sexual vagaries.


A really objective basis for an opinion regarding the relations between religion and sexuality can only be obtained when we cease to consider these relations as an affair of dogma and of the confessional, and study them upon the basis to which they properly belong—to wit, the anthropological. For these relationships are peculiar to the genus homo as such. The sexual element is quite as prominent in the religions of primitive peoples as in those of modern civilized nations.

Anthropological science has hitherto been occupied more with the fact than with the explanation of the remarkable relations between religion and sexuality. There can, however, be no doubt that these relations arise out of the very nature of mankind. The various anthropologists and physicians who have occupied themselves with these problems are in agreement upon this point: that the connexion between religion and the sexual life can be explained only on anthropomorphic-animistic grounds—that is, by the same kind of ideas which Tylor has proved to be the foundation of the primitive mental life.

Thus, the great physician and anthropologist Theodor Billroth doubts the existence of any pure religious perception entirely free from all sensual elements. In a letter to Hanslick, dated February 21, 1891, he writes:

“In my opinion, it is nonsensical to speak of a special religious perception. What we call by this name is either a purely fanciful and imaginative opinion, which may rise to the intensity of hallucination, and has for substratum any kind of imaginative product which excites a yearning in the believing or loving individual—or else, in fanatics, it is an actual erotic excitement, like the rhythmical prayer-movements of the Mohammedans, the dancing of the Dervishes, or the jumping of the Flagellants. The Church as bridegroom for the nun, as bride for the monk, has a similar signification. It is, in a certain sense, the continuation of the service of Isis, and of the festivals of Aphrodite and Bacchus. Man has always created his gods or his god in his own image, and prays and sings to him—that is, properly speaking, to himself—in the artistic forms of the period. Since the so-called divine is always a mere abstraction or personification of one or several human attributes in the highest conceivable potency, it follows that human and divine, worldly and religious, cannot really be of differing natures. Man cannot, in fact, think anything supernatural, nor can he do anything unnatural, because he never can think or act except with human attributes.”

This explanation coincides with the view of Ludwig Feuerbach, who has especially insisted on the anthropomorphistic element in religio-sexual phenomena in his essay “Concerning Mariolatry.”

M’Lennan and Tylor were among the chief discoverers of the animistic aspect of religio-sexual ideas. In a way analogous to[99] his attitude towards other phenomena, primitive man assumed the activity of spirits in explanation of the sexual impulse and everything associated therewith; and he paid divine worship to the sexual impulse, as the visible and palpable manifestation of those spirits.

I myself have more fully described this physiological process in a somewhat different manner (“Contributions to the Etiology of Psychopathia Sexualis,” vol. i., pp. 76, 77), and I quote here my account of the primitive deification of the sexual.

As something elemental, incredible, supernatural, the sexual impulse made its appearance in man’s life at the time of puberty; by its overwhelming force, by the intensity, spontaneity, and multiplicity, of the perceptions to which it gave rise, it awakened feelings which enriched, vivified, and inflamed the imagination in an unexpected manner. This phenomenon, overwhelming him with elemental force, filled primitive man with a holy fear. He ascribed it to a supernatural influence, and this supernatural influence became associated in his circle of perceptions with those others which he had previously experienced, and which had aroused in him the feeling of dependence upon one or several higher powers, before which he knelt in worship. To what an extent the metaphysical invaded the whole sexual life of man, Schopenhauer has clearly shown in his “Metaphysic of Sexual Love.” Religion and sexuality come into the most intimate association in this perception of the metaphysical and in this feeling of dependence; hence arise the remarkable relations between the two, and that easy transition of religious feelings into sexual feelings which is manifest in all the relations of life. In both cases the surrender, the renunciation, of the individual personality is experienced as a pleasurable sensation. Schopenhauer has described in a classical manner the metaphysical impulsive force of love striving onward towards the infinite and the divine, whose analogy with the religious impulse we cannot fail to recognize.

In his thoughtful book, “The Vital Laws of Civilization” (Halle, 1904, p. 52), Eduard von Mayer has also discussed the religio-sexual problem. He starts from the idea that man regarded as higher than himself that which he was unable to master, and, above all, hunger and love.

“The pains of ungratified hunger or love plough deep furrows, into which falls the seed of voluptuousness, of satisfied hunger, or of the joys of love. And to primitive man, to whom the entire universe is full of living beings, hunger and love also appear as divine powers, which pain and plague him until their will is satisfied.”


The association of sexuality with religion affects both sexes equally, although the phenomenon appears more intense in woman, and is more enduring in her, owing to the greater depth of her emotional life. The brothers de Goncourt, in their diary, describe religion as simply a portion of woman’s sexual life. Feminine sexual activity thus appears something religious, pious, holy. And those priests who pretended to “sanctify” by their love the women whom they seduced, were certainly more accurate, from the physiological point of view, than the Church was in its condemnation of carnal lust as sin and the work of the devil. In the middle ages it was a view commonly held in France that women who had intercourse with priests were in some sort sanctified thereby. The mistresses of priests were called the “consecrated.”

The identity of religious and sexual perceptions explains the frequent transformation of one into the other, and the continuous association between the two. A sexual emotion will often function vicariously for a religious emotion, in part or wholly.

The unusually interesting history of the complicated and remarkable religio-sexual phenomena renders clear to us individual processes of this kind and certain peculiarities of racial psychology; and thereby we are led to understand the powerful after-effects of these phenomena in the customs, the morals, and the conventions of our time, and we are enlightened as to the rôle still played by the religio-sexual factor in the life of many men even of our own day.

One of the oldest, if not the oldest, of religio-sexual phenomena is religious prostitution—the “lust-sacrifice,” as Eduard von Mayer happily expresses it—since therein the sexual act is regarded as a sacrifice made to the deity. We have here the unrestricted offering by a woman of her body to every chance comer without love, as an act of simple sensuality, and for payment, and thus we find all the characteristics of what at the present day we term “prostitution.”

According to the researches I have myself previously published regarding religious prostitution, this may be divided into two great groups:

1. A single act of prostitution in honour of the deity.

2. Permanent religious prostitution.

A single act of religious prostitution mostly consists in the offering of virginity; sometimes also in the single, not repeated, offering of an already deflowered woman. In the single act of religious prostitution, the woman either offers herself directly to[101] the deity, the bodily act of defloration being effected by a divine physical symbol—as, for instance, by a penis made of stone, ivory, or wood—or by direct intercourse with the statue of the god; or else the woman gives herself to a human representative of the deity—for instance, to the king, to a priest, to a blood-relative (not seldom to her own father, this being a variety of religious incest), and sometimes to a passing stranger.[39]

With regard to the first mode of defloration, by means of a divine symbol, we have especially full reports from the East Indies. Here, in the sixteenth century, in the Southern Deccan, the Portuguese Duarte Barbosa first saw the religious defloration of girls effected by means of the “lingam,” the divine phallus. Girls aged ten years only were sacrificed to the deity in this brutal manner. From a later time come the accounts of Jan Huygen van Linschoten and Gasparo Balbi, regarding the customs of the inhabitants of Goa. The bride was taken into the temple, where a penis of iron or ivory was thrust into the vagina, so that the hymen was destroyed. In other cases, the girl’s genitals were brought into contact with the stone penis of an image of the god, at a shrine eighteen miles distant from Goa. W. Schultze, in his “East Indian Journey” (Amsterdam, 1676, p. 161a), relates:

“By means of this priapus, with the assistance of friends and relatives, the maiden was deprived of her virginity with force and in a painful manner; at the same time the bridegroom rejoiced that the foul and accursed idol had done him this honour, in the hope that as a result of this sacrifice he would enjoy greater happiness in his marriage.”

This process of defloration of Indian virgins by the lingam idol is confirmed by the reports of John Fryer, Roe, Jeon Moquet, Abbé Guyon, Démeunier, and others.

The god Baal Peor, worshipped by the Moabites and Jews, seems also to have possessed such a divine power of defloration. His name, “Peor,” “to open,” is supposed to relate to the destruction of the hymen.[40]

This relationship is more distinctly expressed in the names of certain gods of the ancient Romans, such as Dea Perfica, Dea Pertunda, Mutunus Tutunus, regarding whose functions in connexion with defloration, shown unquestionably by the etymology of their names, I have referred to at greater length in my[102] essay on “Ancient Roman Medicine” (published in Puschmann’s “Handbook of the History of Medicine,” p. 407; Jena, 1902).

For the honour of the sexual divinities, the bride was compelled, as Augustine, Lactantius, and Arnobius report, to seat herself upon the “fascinum”—that is, the membrum virile of the priapus statue—and in this way, either physically, or at least symbolically, sacrifice her virginity to the deity. According to the legend, the conception of Ocrisia was actually effected in this way![41]

According to the second method by which single acts of religious prostitution are effected, a representative of the deity exercises the latter’s right of defloration. It is a form of religious jus primæ noctis, which is given to the king, the priest, the father, and, above all, to a casual stranger, before the girl becomes the property of her husband or master. In cases in which the husband has effected defloration, the deity may be satisfied by the woman later giving herself once to his representative.

The best-known form of religious prostitution is the Mylittacult of the Babylonians, the worship of that goddess who, according to Bachofen, represents the uncontrolled life of Nature in its fullest creative activity, unchecked by any man-made laws—the goddess whose free nature is opposed to the constraining bonds of marriage. For this reason the goddess, as representative of the unrestrained nature principle, demands from every girl a free gift of herself to any man wishing to have intercourse with her. This demand is made in the name of Mylitta and in the temple devoted to her. The money paid by the man in return for his sexual indulgence belongs to the goddess, and is added to the treasures of the temple.[42]

Herodotus and Strabo give us additional accounts of this remarkable service of Mylitta. Women of rank, as well as those of the lower classes, must allow themselves to be possessed once by a stranger, and were not permitted to return home until they had given their tribute to the goddess. Moreover, the woman might not refuse herself to any stranger, whilst the man, on the other hand, had a free choice. Thus in this account we find all the characteristics of “prostitution” according to our present ideas.

This custom was abolished by the Emperor Constantine, as Eusebius informs us, in his biography of this Emperor. The accounts of Strabo and of Quintus Curtius show us that it had[103] persisted from the time of Herodotus to the time of Constantine; in Cyprus, Phœnicia, Carthage, Judea, Armenia, and Lokris, the Mylittacult was diffused.[43]

The true origin of this cult was a consecration to the deity, a tribute to the goddess of voluptuousness. Secondarily only, other elements may have entered into the practice, as, for instance, the later widely diffused assumption of the uncleanness and poisonous properties of the blood which was shed in the act of defloration. At the same time the religious idea of a “sacrifice” may have become associated with the idea of “self-surrender” to an utterly strange and unloved man, so that it is possible that at the root of this peculiar custom there lay a kind of masochism on the part of the woman, whilst we cannot fail to recognize the existence of a sadistic basis in the demeanour of the betrothed man or husband, surrendering the woman to a strange man; both of these elements—sadism and masochism—having here a religious signification.

In Eastern Asia, and among many savage races, priests played the part of representatives of the deity to whom the defloration of the girls and the newly-married was assigned; for instance, in the Indian sect of the “Mahārājas,” founded by Vallabha, in which “immorality was elevated to the level of a divine law.”[44]

These “great kings” assumed the part of deities who had an unlimited right of possession over the wives of the faithful—above all, the right of defloration. They proclaimed as the most perfect mode of honouring the god a complete surrender of the woman to the spiritual chief of the sect, for purposes of carnal lust—in exact imitation of the shepherdesses (“gopis”), the mistresses of the god Krishna. This took place during the pastoral games “rasmandali” in the autumn.[45] In addition, on account of his activity as deflorator, the priest received a present in the name of the deity. Abel Rémusat reports in his “Nouveaux Mélanges Asiatiques” (Paris, 1824, vol. i., p. 16 et seq.), following the account of a Chinese author of the thirteenth century, the peculiar methods employed in Cambodia for the purpose of religious defloration. Here the priests of Buddha or the priests of the Tao religion were carried in sedan-chairs to the girls awaiting them. Each girl had a candle with a mark on it. The “tshin-than[104]” (= adjustment of posture—that is, sexual intercourse) must be finished before the candle had burnt down to this mark!

The medicine-men and wizards among the Caribs of Central and South America, the “piaches” or “pajes,” had to effect the defloration of the young girls;[46] whilst among other primitive peoples this right was assigned to the chiefs.[47]

The talented and far-seeing Bachofen, one of the greatest of our investigators into the history and psychology of civilization, in his classical works upon “Matriarchy” and upon “The Legend of Tanaquil,” has very cleverly pointed out that religious prostitution in general arises from the primitive opposition to the individualization of love, instinctively felt by primitive peoples. In fact, in the religious view of sexual matters more value is placed upon the act than the person, the individual. Hence arises the slight esteem—so strongly opposed to our modern view—felt for physical and moral virginity in woman, which to us (whether rightly or not we will not now discuss) appears the symbol of feminine individuality. Waitz, Bachofen, Kulischer, Post, Ploss-Bartels, Rottmann, and other ethnologists, give additional accounts of the contempt, to us so remarkable, felt in primitive states for the virgin woman. The tragi-comic position of our own “old maids” is closely connected with this primeval sentiment.[48]

The facts we have just given regarding single acts of religious prostitution will pave the way for the understanding of permanent temple prostitution as a historical phenomenon.

Sexual self-surrender as a purely sensual act is associated with religious feeling. Thus in some cases a woman would experience a combination of ardent sensuality with intense religious feeling, would devote herself wholly to the service of the god, and in his name would permanently surrender her body; whilst in other cases the idea of a divine harem—in Indian belief every god has a harem—would find its earthly exemplar in temple prostitution, by means of which the deity would enjoy a number of women through the intermediation of men; or, finally, this custom would arise out of the primitive practice, according to which sexual intercourse, regarded as a religious act, customarily took place in a temple, or in some[105] consecrated room of a house. In support of this view, we may quote a significant utterance from Herodotus (chapter lxiv. of the second book of his “History”), who in ethnological matters had such accurate discrimination. He reports that among the Egyptians intercourse was strictly forbidden in the temples, and then says:

“For people of all nations, except the Egyptians and the Hellenes, are accustomed to copulate in holy places, and proceed after intercourse unwashed into the holy places; and they are of opinion that men resemble animals, and every one sees beasts and birds copulating in the temples of the gods, and in the consecrated groves. Now, if this were displeasing to the gods, the animals would not do it. Men, therefore, do this, and give this reason for it.”

This custom arose, without doubt, from the need for a religious sentiment, and from the wish to enter into direct communion with the deity, by remaining in the temple during the sexual act. When later the divine beings obtained their own consecrated women in the form of the temple-girls, it was no longer necessary for a man to take his own wife or some other woman into the temple, for now communion with the deity could be obtained by means of intercourse with the temple-girls. In the case of feminine deities a fourth cause or influence comes into operation in the production of temple prostitution, inasmuch as the courtesans, on account of their extreme beauty and their remarkable intellectual powers, were often regarded as representatives of the goddess. This explains how it happened that among the Greeks beautiful hetairae served as models for Praxiteles and Apelles, when these sculptors were making statues for the temple.

The sacred priests of Venus, the “kade-girls” of the Phœnicians, and the “hierodules” of the Greeks, were the servants of Aphrodite, and dwelt within the precincts of the temple. Their number was often very great. Thus in Corinth more than 1,000 female hierodules prostituted themselves in the precincts of the temple of Aphrodite Porne, and even within the temple.[49]

India, where the primitive phenomena of the amatory life can best be studied, is also the favourite seat of temple prostitution, since the religious view of the sexual life is nowhere so prominent as in the Indian beliefs.[50] The temple girls of India are known as “nautch-girls,” or “nautch-women.” Warneck writes regarding them:


“Every Hindu temple of any importance possesses an arsenal of nautch-girls—that is, dancing-girls—who, next to the sacrificial priests, are the most highly respected among the personnel of the temple. It is not long since these temple-girls (just like the hetairae of Ancient Greece) were among the only educated women in India. These priestesses, betrothed to the gods from early childhood, were under the professional obligation to prostitute themselves to every one without distinction of caste. This self-surrender is so far from being regarded as a disgrace that even the most highly placed families regarded it as an honour to devote their daughters to the service of the temple. In the Madras Presidency alone there are about 12,000 of these temple prostitutes.”[51]

Shortt gives further interesting details of these temple prostitutes, who are also known as “thassee.”

Religious prostitution is to a certain extent still practised in Southern Borneo; and in a newspaper published at Amsterdam—The German Weekly News of the Netherlands—the following account of the practice appears in the issue of July 30, 1907:

“In the Dyak country there are to be found in nearly every kampong (village) individuals known as ‘balians’ and ‘basirs.’ The balians are prostitutes who also perform medical services. The basirs are men who dress in women’s clothing, and in other respects perform the same functions as the balians, but not all the basirs act in this way. Balians and basirs are also commonly employed to perform certain religious ceremonies, on festal occasions, at marriages, funerals, births, etc. According to the nature of the festivity, five to fifteen of them officiate. The president of the balians and basirs goes by the name of the ‘upu’; usually the oldest and most experienced is chosen for this office. The upu sits in the middle, with the others to right and left. At an important festival the upu receives from twenty to thirty gulden; the others one to fifteen gulden. The further away that a balian sits from the upu, the smaller is her honorarium; the honorarium is called ‘laluh.’ The principal balians and basirs are known as ‘bawimait maninjan sangjang’—that is, ‘holy women.’ At the present time the basirs no longer exercise the immoral portions of their duties, because the Government inflicts severe penalties if they do so; moreover, they are not allowed now to appear in public in women’s clothing.”

Religion shares with the sexual impulse the unceasing yearning, the sentiment of everlastingness, the mystic absorption into the depths of life, the longing for the coalescence of individualities in an eternally blessed union, free from earthly fetters. Hence the longing for death felt by lovers and by mystically enraptured pietists, which has been so wonderfully described by Leopardi.[107] “The yearning for death felt by lovers is identical with the yearning for sexual union,” aptly remarks H. Swoboda, and he very rightly points out that many a suicide ascribed to “unfortunate love” is rather the result of a happy love.

Among primitive peoples, and in ancient times, religio-erotic festivals first gave an opportunity for the manifestation of this religio-sexual mysticism. In this the transition of religious ecstasy into sexual perceptions is very clearly visible, and in the sexual orgies in which these religious frenzies often found an appropriate finale we see the crudest expression of the relationship between religion and sexuality. In such cases sexual ardour appears to be equivalent to a prolongation and an increase of the religious ardour—fundamentally, radically coincident, as the natural earthly discharge of an ecstatic tension directed to the sphere of the remote and the metaphysical.

The fact that such sexual excesses are throughout the world found in association with religion, that since the very earliest times they have been connected with the most various forms of religion, proves once more that the origin of this relationship is dependent on the very nature of religion as such, and that it is not in any way due to the individual historic character of any one belief. It is, moreover, quite uncritical and altogether without justification for any modern writer to endeavour to make Roman Catholicism responsible for such an association; Roman Catholicism as such has as little to do with the matter as all other beliefs. Religio-sexual phenomena belong to the everywhere recurring elementary ideas of the human race (elementary ideas in the sense of Bastian); and the only way of regarding such phenomena that can be considered scientifically sound, is from the anthropological and ethnological standpoint.

This sexual religious mysticism meets us everywhere—in the religious festivals of antiquity, the festivals of Isis in Egypt, and the festivals of imperial Rome, both alike accompanied by the wildest sexual orgies; in the festivals of Baal Peor, among the Jews, in the Venus and Adonis festivals of the Phœnicians, in Cyprus and Byblos, in the Aphrodisian, the Dionysian, and the Eleusinian festivals of the Hellenes; in the festival of Flora in Rome, in which prostitutes ran about naked; in the Roman Bacchanalia; and in the festival of the bona dea, the wild sexual licence of which is only too clearly presented to our eyes in the celebrated account of Juvenal.

In India, the sect of Caitanya, founded in the sixteenth century,[108] celebrated the maddest religio-sexual orgies. Their ritual consisted principally of long litanies and hymns, stuffed full with unbridled eroticism, and followed by wild dances, all leading up to the sexual culmination, in which “the love of God” (bhakti) was to be made as clearly perceptible as possible.[52] Even worse were the Sakta sects (the name is derived from sakti, force—that is, the sensuous manifestation of the god Siva). They gave themselves up with ardent sensuality to the service of the female emanations of Siva, all distinctions of caste being ignored, and wild sensual promiscuity prevailing. Divine service always preceded the act of sexual intercourse.

Among the Kauchiluas, one of these Sakta sects, each of the women who took part in these divine services threw a small ornament into a box kept by the priests. After the termination of the religious festival, each male member of the congregation took one of these articles out of the box, whereupon the possessor of the article must give herself to him in the subsequent unbridled sexual excesses, even if the two should happen to be brother and sister.[53]

Ancient Central and South America were also familiar with wild outbreaks of a sexual-religious character. In Guatemala, on the days of the great sacrifices, there occurred sexual orgies of the worst kind, men having intercourse promiscuously with mothers, sisters, daughters, children, and concubines; and at the “Akhataymita festivals” of the ancient Peruvians, the religious observances terminated in a race between completely nude men and women, in which each man overtaking a woman immediately had sexual intercourse with her.[54]

Sexual mysticism found its way also into Christianity. When the renowned theologian Usener, in his work “Mythology,” writes in relation to these matters, “the whole of paganism found its way into Christianity,” we must point out that in our view what “corrupted” Christianity was not “paganism,” but the fundamental phenomena of primitive human nature, the primordial connexion between religion and sexuality, which by a natural necessity manifested itself in Christianity not less than in other religions.

Thus down to the present day we encounter the most peculiar manifestations of sexual mysticism in the most diverse Christian sects, and not merely in Roman Catholicism.


In the fourth century of our era, the Jewish-Christian sect of the Sarabaïtes concluded their religious festivals with wild sexual orgies, which are graphically described by Cassianus. This sect persisted into the ninth century. The later history of the Christian sects is full of this religio-sexual element. Religious and sexual ardour take one another’s place, pass one into the other, mutually increase one another. I need merely allude to certain points familiar in the history of civilization, and investigated and described by many recent students: the religio-erotic orgiastic festivals of the Nicolaitans, the Adamites, the Valesians, the Carpocratians, the Epiphanians, the Cainites, and the Manichæans. Dixon, in his “Spiritual Wives” (2 vols., London, 1868), has described the sexual excesses of recent Protestant sects, such as the “Mucker” of Königsberg, the “Erweckten” (“the awakened”), the Foxian spiritualists of Hydesville, etc. Widely known also is the peculiar association between sexuality and religion in Mormonism, polygamy being among the Mormons a religious ordinance.

Not only do Roman Catholicism and Protestantism exhibit such phenomena, but in the Greek Church also sexual mysticism gives rise to the most remarkable offshoots. Leroy-Beaulieu gives an account of the Russian sect of the “Skakuny,” or “Jumpers,” who at their nocturnal assemblies throw themselves into a state of erotic religious ecstasy by hopping and jumping, like the dancing Dervishes of Islam. When the frenzy reaches a climax, a shameless, utterly promiscuous union of the sexes occurs, of which incest is a common feature.[55]

Quite apart from these sectarian peculiarities, religio-sexual perceptions play a definite part in the ideas of present-day, truly pious Christians. The idea of a “unio mystica” between man and the Deity manifests itself everywhere.[56]

Albrecht Dieterich, in his learned work, “A Mithraist Liturgy,” contributes valuable material to the history of civilization concerning these mystical unions. The oldest heathen cults were familiar with the idea of love unions as a representation of the union of man with God; and in the New Testament the ideas of the bridegroom and the marriage feast play a leading part. Christ is the “bridegroom” of the Church, the Church is His “bride.” Pious maidens and nuns are happy to call themselves the brides of Christ. This ecstatic union has always as its substratum a sexual imagination. Augustine says: “Like a bridegroom[110] Christ leaves His bridal chamber; in the mood of a bridegroom He bestrides the field of the world.”

The literature, the theology, the visions, and the plastic art of the middle ages abound in embellishments of the mystical marriage. St. Catherine of Siena and St. Theresa were favourite objects of this form of art. The baroque artist Bernini, in his representation of St. Theresa, in the Church Santa Maria della Vittoria in Rome, has painted a truly modern “alcove scene,” so that a mocking Frenchman, President de Brosses, said, speaking of this picture, “Ah, if that is divine love, I know all about it.”

On October 8, 1900, when Crescentia Höss, of Kaufbeuren, was canonized in the Peterskirche, a picture was exhibited in which was depicted the mystical union between the new saint and the Redeemer. To the picture was attached a Latin inscription signifying, “Our Lord Jesus Christ presents to the virgin Crescentia, in the presence of the most holy Mother of God and of Crescentia’s guardian angel as groomsman, the marriage ring, and weds her.” The novice about to become a nun appears before the altar dressed as a bride, in order to wed herself eternally to Christ; and in the life of the common people we find an even more realistic view is taken of this mystical marriage. A celibate priesthood appears to the peasant, notwithstanding all the respect that he has for the clerical vocation, as something strange and incomprehensible; he regards the “primiz,” the first mass of the newly ordained priest, as a marriage which the most reverend priest celebrates with the Church, and for this purpose the Church is represented by a young girl. This is at the present day still a popular custom in Baden, Bavaria, and the Tyrol. In this ceremony, which does not lack a poetic aspect—it is admirably described by F. P. Piger in the Zeitschrift des Vereins für Volkskunde, 1899—the peasants who are present make the coarsest and most pointed jokes, and as soon as the celebration is finished, they withdraw, in the company of the “holy” bride, to a public-house, where “they need not be embarrassed by the presence of the reverend priest.”

The intimate association between sexuality and religion in these mystical unions and marriages has been shown by Ludwig Feuerbach in his treatise, “Ueber den Marienkultus” (“On Mariolatry”), Complete Works, Leipzig, 1846, vol. i., pp. 181-199. A very interesting instance of this is also afforded by the following religious poem, which appears in a poetical devotional work, at one time very widely diffused among the feminine[111] population of France (“Les Perles de Saint François de Sales, ou les plus belles Pensées du Bienheureux sur l’Amour de Dieu,” Paris, 1871):

“Vive Jésus, vive sa force,
Vive son agréable amorce!
Vive Jésus, quand sa bonté
Me reduit dans la nudité;
Vive Jésus, quand il m’appelle:
Ma sœur, ma colombe, ma belle!
Vive Jésus en tous mes pas,
Vivent ses amoureux appas!
Vive Jésus, lorsque sa bouche
D’un baiser amoureux me touche!
Vive Jésus quand ses blandices
Me comblent de chastes délices!
Vive Jésus lorsque à mon aise
Il me permet que je la baise!”
[“Praise to Jesus, praise His power,
Praise His sweet allurements!
Praise to Jesus, when His goodness
Reduces me to nakedness;
Praise to Jesus when He says to me:
‘My sister, My dove, My beautiful one!’
“Praise to Jesus in all my steps,
Praise to His amorous charms!
Praise to Jesus, when His mouth
Touches mine in a loving kiss!
“Praise to Jesus when His gentle caresses
Overwhelm me with chaste joys!
Praise to Jesus when at my leisure
He allows me to kiss Him!”]

In addition to religious prostitution and to sexual mysticism, two other religious manifestations show an intimate relationship with the sexual life, are, indeed, in part of sexual origin—namely, asceticism and the belief in witchcraft.

Neither of these is, as has often been maintained by superficial writers, peculiar to the Christian faith. As Nietzsche says, Eros did not poison Christianity alone; asceticism and the belief in witchcraft are common anthropological conceptions, met with throughout the history of civilization, and arising from the primitive ardour of religious perceptions.

To what degree is the high estimation of asceticism—that is, the view that earthly and eternal salvation are to be found in[112] complete sexual abstinence—associated with the religious sentiment? Religion is the yearning after an ideal, a belief in a process of perfectibility. To such a belief the sexual impulse and everything connected with it must appear as the greatest possible hindrance to the realization of the ideal, because nowhere else is the disharmony of existence so plainly manifest as in the sexual life.

In the fifth chapter of his work on “The Nature of Man,” Metchnikoff has collected all the numerous disharmonies of the reproductive organs and the reproductive functions, in consequence of which the modern man, become self-conscious, suffers so severely. Among these disharmonious phenomena in social life, Metchnikoff enumerates, inter alia, the troublesome, painful, and unæsthetic menstrual hæmorrhage in women, which all primitive peoples regarded as something unclean and evil; the pains of childbirth; the asynchronism between puberty and the general maturity of the organism, the latter occurring much later than the former, and thus giving rise to temporal inequalities of development in different parts of the sexual functions, causing, for example, masturbation actually before the development of spermatozoa; the long interval that commonly elapses between the onset of sexual maturity and the conclusion of marriage; the numerous disharmonious phenomena occurring in connexion with the decline of reproductive activity at a later stage of life, when marked specific excitability and sexual sensibility often persist after the capacity for sexual intercourse has been lost; and finally the disharmonies in sexual intercourse between man and woman.

According to Metchnikoff, this disharmony of the sexual life, from the earliest to the most advanced age, is the source of so many evils, that almost all religions have harshly judged and severely condemned the sexual functions, and have recommended abstinence from coitus as the best means for the harmonious and ideal regulation of life.

In addition to this, we have to take into consideration the opposition between spirit and matter, deeply realized already by primitive man. The sexual, as the most intense and most sensuous expression of material existence, was opposed to the spiritual, and was regarded as an unclean element, which must be fought, overcome, and, when possible, utterly uprooted, in favour of the spiritual life. In one of the most ancient of mythologies the first recorded instance of the gratification of sexual desire resulted in excluding man for ever from “Paradise”—in excluding[113] him, that is to say, from the highest kind of spiritual existence. The principal psychological characteristic of asceticism is therefore to be found, not only in the vow of poverty, but, in addition, and even more, is it found in sexual abstinence, in the battle against the “flesh” (“caro,” to the fathers of the early Church, always denoted the genital organs).

What is, however, the inevitable consequence of this continual battle with the sexual impulse? Weininger expressed the opinion (“Sex and Character,” p. 469, second edition; Vienna, 1904): “The renunciation of sexuality kills only the physical man, and kills him only in order, for the first time, to ensure the complete existence of the spiritual man”; but this is entirely false, and proceeds from an extremely deficient knowledge of human nature. For the “renunciation of sexuality” is, in truth, the most unsuitable way of securing a complete existence for the spiritual man. Just as little will it annihilate the physical man. For he who wishes to overcome and cast out the sexual impulse (powerful in every normal man, and at times overwhelming in its strength) must keep the subject constantly before his eyes, for ever in his thoughts. Thus it came to pass that the ascetic was actually more occupied with the subject of the sexual impulse than is the case with the normal man. This was favoured all the more by the ascetic’s voluntary flight from the world, by his continuous life in solitude—a life favourable to the production of hallucinations and visions, and one which becomes tolerable only by a sort of natural reaction in the form of a luxuriance of imaginative sensuality. For

“Nous naissons, nous vivons pour la société:
A nous-mêmes livrés dans une solitude,
Notre bonheur bientôt fait notre inquiétude.”

(Boileau, Satire X.)

[“We are born, we live for society:
Given up to ourselves in solitude,
Our happiness is speedily replaced by restlessness.”]

This “inquiétude,” this intensification of the nervous life in all relations, was especially noticeable in the sexual sphere. Visions of a sexual character, erotic temptations, mortifications of the flesh in the form of self-flagellation, self-emasculation and mutilations of the genital organs, are characteristic ascetic phenomena. On the other hand, the excessive valuation and glorification of the pure spiritual led not only to the view that matter was something in its nature sinful and base, but also led[114] directly to sexual excesses, for many ascetic sects declared that what happened to the already sinful body was a matter of indifference, that every contamination of the body was permissible. Hence is to be explained the remarkable fact of the occurrence of natural and unnatural unchastity in numerous ascetic sects.

Sexual mortification and sexual excesses—these are the two poles between which the life of the ascetic oscillates, so that we see in each case a marked sexual intermixture. Asceticism is, therefore, often merely the means by which sexual enjoyment is obtained in another form and in a more intense degree.

Asceticism is as old as human religion, and as widely diffused throughout the entire world. We find individual ascetics among many savage peoples; ascetic sects, especially among the ancient and modern civilized races, in Babylon, Syria, Phrygia, Judæa, even in pre-Columbian Mexico, and most developed in India, in Islam, and in Christianity.

The Indian samkhya-doctrine, demanding increased self-discipline, “yoga,” which was based upon the opposition between spirit and matter, led to the adoption of asceticism in Buddhism and in the religion of the Jains, also to the foundation of ascetic sects, such as the “Acelakas,” the “Ajivakas,” the “Suthrēs” or “Pure,” who, according to Hardy, “are in their life a disgrace to their name.” Yogahood attained its highest development among Sivaitic sects of the ninth to the sixteenth centuries; these alternated between uncontrolled satisfaction of the rudest sexual impulses and asceticism pushed to the point of self-torture.

In Islam it was the sect of the Sufi in which the relation between sexuality and asceticism was especially manifest; but before this Christianity had developed asceticism into a formal system, and had deduced its most extreme consequences. To the early Christians, only the nutritive impulse appeared natural; the sexual impulse was debased nature; physical and psychical emasculation were actually recommended in the New Testament writings (cf. Matt. xix. 12). Already in the second century of the Christian era numerous Christians voluntarily castrated themselves, and in the fourth century the Council of Nicæa found it necessary to deal with the prevalence of this ascetic abuse, and with the predecessors of the modern “skopzen.”[57]


Numerous ascetics and saints withdrew into solitude in order to attain salvation by castigation of the body. But it is very noteworthy that they almost all lived and moved exclusively in the sexual, and that, in the way already explained, they came to occupy themselves incessantly with all the problems of the sexual life.

The writings of the saints are full of such references to the vita sexualis, and are, therefore, a valuable source for the history of ancient morals. Nothing was so interesting to these ascetics as the life of prostitutes and the sexual excesses of the impious. Numerous legends relate the attempts of the saints to induce prostitutes to abandon their profession, and to turn to a holy life, and the work of Charles de Bussy, “Les Courtisanes Saintes,” shows the result of these labours. St. Vitalius visited the brothels every night, to give the women money in order that they might not sin, and prayed for their conversion.

Thus, in the case of the ascetics, whose thoughts were continually occupied with sexual matters, the sole result of their castigation, self-torture, and emasculation, was to lead their sexual life ever wider astray into morbid and perverse paths. The monstrous sexual visions of the saints reflect in a typical manner the incredible violence of the sexual perceptions of the ascetics. To use the words of Augustine, how far were these unhappy beings from the “serene clearness of love,” how near were they to the “obscurity of sensual lust!” These visions, these “false pictures,” allured the “sleepers” to something to which, indeed, in the awakening state they could not have been misled (Augustine, “Confessions,” x. 30). The forms of beautiful naked women (with whom, moreover, the ascetics often really lay in bed in order to test their powers) appeared to them in dreams. Fetichistic and symbolic vision of an erotic nature pestered them, and led to the most violent sensual temptations, until in the sects of the Valesians, the Marcionites, and the Gnostics they resulted in sexual excesses. Marcion, the founder of the well-known sect named after him, preached continence, but maintained that sexual excesses could not hinder salvation, since it was only the soul that rose again after death! The Gnostics oscillated between unconditional celibacy and indiscriminate sexual indulgence. As late as the nineteenth century an ascetic mystic led the Protestant sect of Königsberg pietists into the grossest sensual excesses.

From asceticism arose monasticism and the cloistral life, to which the considerations above given fully apply. The undeniable[116] unchastity of the medieval cloisters, which found its most characteristic expression in denoting brothels by the name of “abbeys,” and, above all, in popular songs and in folk-tales, also shows us very clearly the relations between religious asceticism and the vita sexualis.

The idea of asceticism has not lost its primitive force even at the present day, and retains it for certain men not under the influence of the Church. But the character and origin of this modern asceticism are different. We understand it when we remind ourselves of the saying of Otto Weininger, this typical adherent of “modern” asceticism, that the man who has the worst opinion of woman is not the one who has least to do with them, but rather the one who has had the greatest number of bonnes fortunes (“Sex and Character,” p. 315).

The ascetics of early Christianity first denied sexuality—for example, by self-castration, or by flight into solitude—in order subsequently to affirm it the more strongly. Our modern fin-de-siècle ascetics, above all, the three most successful literary apostles of asceticism—Schopenhauer, Tolstoi, and Weininger—at first affirmed their sexuality most intensely, in order subsequently to deny it in the most fundamental manner. They studied voluptuousness, not merely in the ideal, but also in reality. For this reason, also, they have furnished us with more valuable conclusions regarding its nature and its significance in the life of individual men than we can obtain from the visions of the early Christian ascetics. This is true above all of Schopenhauer and Tolstoi.

Schopenhauer had first to endure in his own person the whole tragedy of voluptuousness, to experience the elemental force of the sexual impulse, the “enmity” of love (see his own account given to Challemel-Lacour), before he proceeded to grasp the full significance of the ascetic idea. His asceticism is intimately associated with his sensuality, and with the consequences of its activity. I believe that I have myself recently furnished a striking proof of this fact by the publication of a hitherto unknown holograph manuscript of the philosopher,[58] by which it is clearly established that he had suffered from syphilitic infection. In this connexion we find the explanation of the close relationship which Schopenhauer himself postulated between the “wonderful venereal disease” and asceticism. From his own utterances[117] regarding syphilis, and, above all, from the fact that he himself had suffered from the disease, we are able to grasp the significance that syphilis had in the conception of his ascetic views, which were developed under the immediate influence of his experiences, sorrows, and passions; whereas in old age, when the elemental force of the sexual impulse, and the unhappy consequence of yielding to it, no longer troubled him, there appeared in his thought a distinctly happier colouring.

Tolstoi also recognizes without reserve how much he had been affected by voluptuousness. “I know,” he says, “how lust hides everything, how it annihilates everything, by which the heart and the reason are nourished.” Lack of continence on the part of men is, in his view, the cause of the stupidity of life. Tolstoi’s conception of asceticism is, however, by no means identical with the early Christian, the Buddhistic, and the Schopenhauerian asceticism. In the beautiful saying, “Only with woman can one lose purity, only with her can one preserve it,” lies the admission that absolute chastity is an unattainable ideal, and that man can reach only a relative asceticism. We should hold fast to this utterance in Tolstoi’s teaching, which is in no way systematically developed, and should ignore his insane doctrine of the unchastity of married life. Later, during our discussion of the so-called “problem of continence,” we shall return to this idea of a relative continence, and of the good that lies therein.

Weininger, whose views are unquestionably strongly pathological, recurs wholly to the ideas of early Christian asceticism. According to him, “coitus in every case contradicts the idea of humanity”! Sexuality debases man, reproduction and fertility are nauseating.”[59] Man is not free, only because he has originated in an immoral manner! In woman he denies again and again the idea of humanity. The renunciation, the conquest of femininity, it is this that he demands. Since all femininity is immorality, woman must cease to be woman, and must become man![60]

Georg Hirth has described Weininger’s book as “an unparalleled crime against humanity.”[61] Since, however, Probst, in his psychiatric study of Weininger, has brought forward evidence to[118] show that in Weininger’s book we have to do with the work of a lunatic, the author of this crime cannot at any rate be held responsible. It is only to be regretted that so many readers have been led astray by the presence of isolated thoughtful passages in the book to take Weininger in earnest as a “thinker,” and even in company with the bizarre August Strindberg to believe that Weininger has solved “the most difficult of all problems”!

Very significant and influential even down to the present day are the relations between religion and sexual sentiments exhibited in the belief in witchcraft.[62] This belief, extending backwards to the most remote age, is the principal source of all misogyny and contempt for women—of which fact we cannot too often remind our modern misogynists, in order to make clear to them the utter stupidity, the primitiveness, and the atavistic character of their views.

Here, again, we must first show the falsity of the view that the belief in witches is a specifically Christian experience. To the diffusion of this error the celebrated work of J. Michelet, “La Sorcière,” has especially contributed, for in this book the witch is represented as a Christian medieval discovery. But the Christian religion, as such, is as little blameworthy for this belief as are all the other confessions of faith. The belief in witches, with its religio-sexual basis, is a primitive general anthropological phenomenon, a fixture, a part of primitive human history arising from the primeval relations between religious magic and the sexual life.

“When we look deeply into the province of psychology,” says G. H. von Schubert, “we not only suspect, but recognize with great certainty, that there exists a secret combination between the activities of the animal carnal sexual impulse and the receptivity of human nature for magical manifestations.

“We stand here in the depths of the abyss in which the lust of the flesh becomes inflamed to the lust of hell, and in which the flesh, with all its indwelling forces of sin and death, celebrated its greatest triumph over the spirit appointed by God to command the flesh.”[63]

The animism of primitive man, and of savage man at the present day, sees in all frightful natural phenomena shaking his innermost being to its foundation the manifestation and action of demons and sorcerers. The rutting impulse also, which[119] attracts primitive man to woman, appears to him to be due to the influence of a demon, and soon woman herself came to seem to man something uncanny, something magical. Thus, in its origin the belief in witchcraft arises from the sexual impulse, and throughout its history sorcery in all its forms remained associated with the sexual impulse.

This sexual origin of the belief in witches and in magic has been carefully described by the celebrated ethnologist K. Fr. Ph. von Martius, on the basis of his observations amongst the indigens of Central Brazil. “All sorcery arises from rutting,” said an old Indian to him.

Magic propagates itself by means of sexual desire, and, according to Martius, will predominate among primitive peoples as long as these remain unchaste.[64] Secret arts, voluptuousness, and unnatural vice are inseparable one from another. This is proved by the entire history of human civilization and morals. Among the indigens of Brazil, the “pajé” or “piache,” the sorcerer or medicine-man, plays the same part as the medieval or Christian witch.

Sorcerers and witches are, above all, experienced in the sexual province; popular belief always turns first to this subject. The witches of ancient Rome resemble those of the middle ages in respect of their evil practices in sexual relations. According to J. Frank, the word “hexe” (witch) is derived from “hagat”—that is, “vagabond woman.” The ascetic view of the middle ages, formulated principally by men, saw in woman one who seduced man to sensual, sinful lust, the personification of the Evil One, the “janua diaboli,” and, ultimately, a female demon and a witch, whose very being is an impersonation of the obscene and the sexual. The doctrines of Original Sin and of the Immaculate Conception had unquestionably an important share in this conception of woman.

The idea of woman as a witch turned almost exclusively on the sexual, and the witch was for the most part represented as a “mistress of the devil” (cf. W. G. Soldan, “History of Witch-Trials,” pp. 147-159; Stuttgart, 1843), in which sexual perversion plays the principal part, since, instead of simple sexual intercourse, the most horrible unnatural vice was assumed to occur.

Holzinger, in his valuable lecture on the “Natural History of[120] Witches,” characterized the spiritual and moral condition of the time, which brought forth such an idea, in a few apt words:

“Whilst in the fifteenth and the beginning of the sixteenth centuries, as those well acquainted with the state of morals during this period can all confirm, a most unbounded freedom was dominant in sexual relations, the State and the Church were desirous of compelling the people to keep better order by the use of actual force, and by religious compulsion. So forced a transformation in so vital a matter necessarily resulted in a reaction of the worst kind, and forced into secret channels the impulse which it had attempted to suppress. This reaction occurred, moreover, with an elemental force. There resulted widespread sexual violence and seduction, hesitating at nothing, often insanely daring, in which everywhere the devil was supposed to help; every one’s head was turned in this way, the uncontrolled lust of debauchees found vent in secret bacchanalian associations and orgies, wherein many, with or without masquerade, played the part of Satan; shameful deeds were perpetrated by excited women and by procuresses and prostitutes ready for any kind of immoral abomination; add to these sexual orgies the most widely diffused web of a completely developed theory of witchcraft, and the systematic strengthening by the clergy of the widely prevalent belief in the devil—all these things woven in a labyrinthine connexion, made it possible for thousands upon thousands to be murdered by a disordered justice and to be sacrificed to delusion.”

The study of the witch-trials of the middle ages and of recent times—for it is well known that in the seventies of the nineteenth century (!) such trials still occurred[65]—would without doubt afford valuable contributions to the doctrine of psychopathia sexualis, and at the same time would throw a remarkable light upon the origin of sexual aberrations.

What a large amount of sexual abnormality arises even to-day from this common, human, obscure, superstitious impulse dependent upon the intermixture of religious mysticism and sexual desire, and which in the medieval belief in witches attained such astonishing development!

As Michelet proved in his great work on “Sorcery,” it was the religious imagination straying into sexual by-paths, which for the most part animated the belief in witchcraft, and thus led to the most horrible aberrations, principally of a sadistic nature.

Like superstition, so also the sexual-religious obsession of the[121] middle ages, still persists in many persons, even at the present day, and gives rise to sexual anomalies.

Apart from asceticism and the belief in witchcraft, theological literature offers numerous instances of the relationship between religion and sexuality.

In an essay published six years ago,[66] I showed the important part which sexual questions have played in the so-called pastoral medicine—that is to say, in those theological writings in which the individual facts and problems of medicine are studied from the theological standpoint, and their relation to dogma is determined. We find here theological casuistry carried to its extreme limits, in relation to all possible problems of the vita sexualis. The experiences of the confessional are employed in a remarkable manner, the religious imagination wandering, in a peculiar combination of scholasticism and sensuality, in the obscure fields of human aberration.

The ostensible inducement to the theological consideration of sexual problems is in part offered by the statements of perverse individuals in the confessional, and in part by public scandals. In both cases casuistry endeavours, from the religious standpoint, to formulate certain normal rules for the judgment of the various matters relating to the sexual life. This would, however, have been impossible, had there not existed an intimate connexion between sexuality and religion.

Only in this way is it possible to explain the origin of the gigantic literature of sexual casuistry in theology, and especially in pastoral medicine. A comprehension of these facts has led certain writers to launch bitter invectives against the system of which the confessional formed so essential a part. This is a narrow and prejudiced view, which we mention only to condemn. There is, however, ample justification for the representations of physicians and anthropologists, who are able to observe matters in the great connexion sketched above, and who have recognized the relations between religion and the sexual life to be something common to all humanity, not the artificial products of any particular spiritual tendency. It is precisely the frequent endeavours of the Catholic Church to overcome the worst outgrowths in this direction, which teach us, notwithstanding their failure to eradicate sexual aberrations, that these relationships depend upon the very nature of religion.

There is not a single sexual problem which has not been discussed[122] in the most subtle manner by the theological casuists,[67] so that their writings offer us a most instructive picture of imaginative activity in the sexual sphere.

The most detailed discussion, verging on the salacious, of the degree to which sexual contact is permissible, gave rise to the name “theologiens mammillaires,” because some of them—Benzi, for example, and Rousselot—sanctioned “tatti mammillari” (mammillary palpation). This doctrine was condemned by Pope Benedict XIV., which proves that the Catholic Church as such has not invariably sanctioned these things.

In the “Golden Key” (“Llave de Oro”) of Antonio Maria Claret, the Archbishop of Cuba, in Debreyne’s “Moechialogie,” in the writings on moral theology of Liguori, Dens, and J. C. Saettler, in the “Diaconales,” widely diffused in France, and in many similar works, all possible sexual problems which have come before the confessional, or possibly might come there, have been thoroughly discussed—even the most improbable and impossible. Coitus interruptus, irrigatio vaginæ post coitum, pollutions (nocturnal seminal emissions), bestiality, necrophilia, figuræ Veneris (positions in which coitus is effected), procuration, various kinds of caresses, conjugal onanism, abortion, varieties of masturbation, pæderasty, intercourse with a statue (!), psychical onanism, pædication, etc.—all have been subjected to a subtle critical theological analysis. In a sense, these writings are really valuable mines for the study of psychopathia sexualis. Later we shall have frequently to touch on the religious etiology of the individual sexual aberrations.

From the preceding discussion it appears quite clearly that the relations between religion and the vita sexualis are to be regarded as general anthropological phenomena, and not as peculiarities arising by chance, the accidental results of beliefs, time, or race. The modern physician, jurist, and criminal anthropologist must therefore pay the most careful attention to the religious factor in the normal and abnormal sexual life of mankind, if he wishes to arrive at an unprejudiced and undisturbed knowledge of sexual anomalies. Havelock Ellis has also laid stress on the leading significance of religious sexual perceptions. He proved that small oscillations of erotic feelings accompany all[123] religious perceptions, and that in some circumstances the erotic feelings overwhelm the religious perceptions.[68] We still meet with sexual excesses under the cloak of religion, as occurred recently (1905) in Holland, and (1901) in England. In the English instance young girls were initiated into the most horrible forms of unchastity in the religious association founded by the American Horos and his wife, and known by the name of “Theocratic Unity.”[69]

Friedrich Schlegel, as Rudolf von Gottschall remarks, proclaimed in his “Lucinde” the new evangel of the future, in which voluptuousness—as during the time of Astarte—is to form a part of religious ritual. The reawakened tendency of our own day towards romantic modes of perception would certainly seem to involve the danger of a renewal and strengthening of religio-sexual ideas.

For as long as the feelings of love carry with them an inexpressible, overwhelming force, like that of religious perceptions, the intimate association between religion and sexuality will persist both in a good and a bad sense. An elderly physician, who in his interesting book detailed the experiences derived from forty years of practice,[70] made very apposite remarks regarding this religious sexualism. According to him, unbounded piety is “often no more than a sexual symptom,” proceeding from deprivation of love or satiety of love, the latter reminding us of the saying “Young whore, old devotee.” Moreover, this is true alike of man and woman. Piety dependent upon deprivation of love can often be cured by “castor, cold douches, or a well-arranged marriage with a robust, energetic man,” who drives away for ever the “heavenly bridegroom.”[71]

The religious perception is a completely general yearning, and the same is the case with the associated sexual feelings. The boundless everlasting impulsion which both contain does not admit of any individualization. For this reason, the religio-sexual perceptions can play only a subordinate part in the individual[124] love of the future; they constitute only the first step in the history of the idealization of the sexual impulse, and of its spiritualization to form love.

In the romance “Scipio Cicala,” by Rehfues, the Neapolitan abbess calls out “I love love,” after she has gone through the enumeration of all the phases of passionate love towards God. The modern man, however, says to the woman, and the woman says to the man, “I love you”; the general religious love has capitulated to the individual love.

This is clearly the direction taken by “the way of the spirit” in love, which we shall now pursue further.

[33] Cf. F. von Andrian, “Some Results of Modern Ethnology,” in “Correspondenzblatt der deutschen Gesellschaft für Anthropologie, Ethnologie, und Urgeschichte” (1894, No. 8, p. 71).

[34] “Love,” in the sense above defined, is peculiar to mankind, and for this reason we must, as Ploss-Bartels also insists, admit its existence in human beings at the very lowest levels of civilization. There it is, indeed, no more than “a faintly glimmering, easily extinguished spark,” while among civilized peoples it has become “a bright, widely diffused flame.”

[35] Regarding the connexion between sexuality and spiritual activity, see also Virey, “Recherches médico-philosophiques sur la Nature et les Facultés de l’Homme” (Paris, 1817, p. 39).

[36] For the apt and convenient word poietic, in preference to creative or productive, I have to thank Mr. H. G. Wells. See his most admirable “A Modern Utopia,” and on p. 265 et seq. his brilliant classification of “four main classes of mind—the Poietic, the Kinetic, the Dull, and the Base.”... “The Poietic or creative class of mental individuality embraces a wide range of types,” but, he goes on to say, the two principal varieties of the poietic type are those classified as artistic and scientific natures respectively. It is the quality by which these two natures are distinguished from the kinetic and the dull to which Mr. Wells gives the name of “poietic,” and it is precisely this quality whose interconnexion with the sexual life is insisted on in the text by Dr. Bloch and by the authors from whom he quotes.—Translator.

[37] Cf. W. Griesinger, “Mental Disorders,” third edition (Brunswick, 1871, p. 7).

[38] Rudolf Topp speaks of a “degeneration” of the “healthy natural reproductive impulse” into the “sexual impulse.” In the primeval period of human history, he maintains, man knew and gratified the reproductive impulse only; the sexual impulse developed gradually, and in a later stage of the evolutionary history of mankind, out of the reproductive impulse, and, in fact, is a degeneration (!) of the latter. In this period we may look for the first beginnings of functional impotence, on account of the too frequent exercise of the sexual function. Cf. R. Topp, “On the Therapeutic Use of Yohimbin ‘Riedel’ as an Aphrodisiac, with Especial Reference to Functional Impotence in the Male,” published in the Allgemeine Medizinische Central-Zeitung, 1906, No. 10.

[39] From this fact we may draw the conclusion that the so-called hospitable prostitution is only a variety of religious prostitution.

[40] J. A. Dulaure, “Des Divinités génératrices,” etc. (Paris, 1885).

[41] W. Schwartz, “Prehistoric Anthropological Studies,” p. 278 (Berlin, 1884).

[42] Cf. J. J. Bachofen, “The Legend of Tanaquil, an Investigation concerning Orientalism in Rome and Italy,” p. 43 (Heidelberg, 1870).

[43] Cf. the details and more exact reports in my work, “Contributions to the Etiology of Psychopathia Sexualis,” vol. i., pp. 84, 85.

[44] Karsandas Mulji, “History of the Sect of Mahārājas or Vallabhāchārjas in Western India,” p. 161 (London, 1865).

[45] Cf. E. Hardy, “History of Indian Religions,” pp. 124-126 (Leipzig, 1898).

[46] K. Fr. Ph. von Martius, “Contributions to the Ethnography and Philology of America,” vol. i., p. 113 (Leipzig, 1867).

[47] Starke, “The Primitive Family,” p. 135 (Leipzig, 1888).

[48] Cf. L. Tobler, “Old Maids in Belief and Custom among the German People” (Zeitschrift für Völkerpsychologie), by Lazarus and Steinthal, vol. xiv., pp. 64-90 (Berlin, 1882).

[49] W. H. Roscher, “Nectar and Ambrosia,” pp. 80-89 (Leipzig, 1883).

[50] Cf. Edward Sellon, “Annotations on the Sacred Writings of the Hindus,” p. 3 (London, 1865).

[51] Ploss-Bartels, “Das Weib in der Natur- und Völkerkunde,” vol. i., p. 580 (eighth edition, Leipzig, 1905).

[52] E. Hardy, op. cit., p. 125.

[53] Sellon, “Annotations,” etc., p. 30.

[54] Ploss-Bartels, op. cit., p. 608.

[55] Cf. H. Beck, “Count Tolstoi’s ‘Kreuzer Sonata,’” etc., p. 5 (Leipzig, 1898).

[56] Cf. “Mystical Marriages,” in the Vossische Zeitung, No. 370, August 9, 1904.

[57] Cf. Adolf Harnack, “Medical Data from Ancient Ecclesiastical History” (Leipzig, 1892, pp. 27, 28, and 52).

[58] Iwan Bloch, “Schopenhauer’s Illness in the Year 1823” (A Contribution to Pathography based upon an Unpublished Document). Paper read at the Berlin Society for the History of the Natural Sciences and Medicine on June 15, 1906. Printed in Medizinische Klinik, 1906, Nos. 25 and 26.

[59] It is a remarkable fact that the hypersexual Marquis de Sade expressed this identical idea, in precise agreement with the asexual Weininger.

[60] Cf. the chapter “Woman and Humanity,” in “Sex and Character,” pp. 453-472.

[61] G. Hirth, “Ways to Love,” p. 219. Cf. also the pertinent remark of Grete Meisel-Hess, “Misogyny and Contempt for Women” (Vienna, 1904).

[62] Cf. also the exhaustive research, with regard to witch-mania and witchcraft, by Count von Hoensbroech, “The Papacy in its Socio-Civil Reality” (third edition, vol. i., pp. 380-599; Leipzig).

[63] Gotthilf Heinrich von Schubert, “The Sins of Sorcery in their Old and New Form” (Erlangen, 1854, p. 25).

[64] Cf. K. Fr. von Martius, “The Nature, the Diseases, the Doctors, and the Therapeutic Methods of the Primitive Inhabitants of Brazil” (Munich, 1843, pp. 111-113).

[65] According to Holzinger, on August 20, 1877, at St. Jacobo in Mexico, five witches were burnt alive! Then “hundreds of angry pens were set in motion to declaim the horrible anachronism.” As late as 1875, Friedrich Nippold, in a work published by Holtzendorff and Oncken—“Problems of the Day in Germany”—gives an account of the continued belief in witches at the present day.

[66] Iwan Bloch, “Regarding the Idea of a History of Civilization in Relation to Medicine,” published in Die Medizinische Woche, 1900, No. 36.

[67] The best-known of these are Augustine, Benzi, Bouvier, Cangiamila, Capellmann, Claret, Debreyne, Dens, Filliucius, Gury, Liguori, Moja, Molinos, Moullet, Pereira, Rodriguez, Rousselot, Sa, Thomas Sanchez, Samuel Schroeer, Skiers, Soto, Suarez, Tamburini, Thomas Aquinas, Vivaldi, Wigandt, Zenardi. Copious extracts from their writings are given by Count von Hoensbroech in the second volume of his work—“The Papacy in its Socio-Civil Reality” (Leipzig, 1907).

[68] Havelock Ellis, “The Sexual Impulse and the Sentiment of Shame.”

[69] We shall return later to the religio-sexual “Masses,” celebrated even at the present day in Paris and other large towns.

[70] “Personal Experiences, or Forty Years from the life of a Well-known Physician” (Leipzig, 1854, three vols.). In addition, “Gleanings In and Out of Myself,” from the papers of the author of the “Personal Experiences,” etc. (Leipzig, 1856, four vols.).

[71] “Gleanings In and Out of Myself,” vol. ii., pp. 37-45. Regarding the relations between religion and sexuality, many interesting details are found in the work of George Keben, “The Half-Christians and the Whole Devil: the Road to Hell of Superstition” (Gross-Lichterfelde, 1905), especially in the chapter “The Brothel,” pp. 93-110.



Shame has made no change in man as regards his bodily outlines, but shame has played a very important part in the entire province of clothing, and it has acquired such spiritual power that the entire amatory life of the higher human beings is dominated by it. It is, in the first place, in consequence of this sense of shame that man’s amatory life has ultimately and individually separated from that of other animals.”—Wilhelm Bölsche.



The individualizing influence of the sentiment of shame — Recent anthropological researches regarding the origin and nature of the erotic sense of shame — The animal and the social factor of shame — Shame as a biological sense of warding off — Coquetry — The fundamental social element of the sense of shame — Lombroso’s theory of shame — The dread of arousing repulsion — Connexion of the sense of shame with clothing — Conditions among the indigens of Central Brazil — Nudity as a natural condition — The coverings of the genital organs among the primitive races have a protective function, and are not portions of clothing — Origin of clothing — The original purpose of decoration and adornment — Relation of clothing to the feeling of love — Tattooing a preliminary stage to clothing — Prehistoric painting of the body — Tattooing as a sexual lure — Tattooing of the genital organs — Sexual effect of colours — Occurrence of tattooing amongst modern civilized nations — Recent anthropological researches regarding this subject — Erotic tattooing — Tattooing in women of the upper classes — The colour element in clothing — Its connexion with sexual charm — With jealousy — With sexual allurement — Sexual influence of concealment — The stimulus of the unknown — The two fundamental elements of fashion — Accentuation and display of portions of the body — Influence of partial concealment, of retroussé — The two principal forms of clothing — Accentuating and enlarging influences of clothing — H. Lotzes’s theory of the nature of clothing — Reciprocal influence between clothing and personality — “Physiognomy” of clothing — Clothing as an expression of the psyche — Denuding of portions of the body as a sexual stimulus — Fashion — Its absence in antiquity — Difference between ancient and modern clothing — Diaphanous raiment of the ancient half-world — Analysis of clothing — Upper and under clothing — The waist — Further differentiation into clothing proper and more intimate articles of dress — Dressing and undressing — Separation of the body-spheres by the waist — Beginnings of fashion in the middle ages — The corset as a witness of Christian teaching — Contest between medieval fashion and asceticism — Victory of fashion — Accentuation of the bosom — Décolleté — Views of the æsthetics on this subject — Harmfulness of the corset — A sin against æsthetics and hygiene — Its deleterious influence upon the thoracic and abdominal organs — The corset and anæmia — Atrophy of the mammary glands — Other serious consequences — Its influence on the female reproductive organs — The corset and “fluor albus” — The corset and sterility — Pre-Raphaelite flat-breastedness — Accentuation of the regions of the hips — Tournure (cul de Paris), the “crinolette” — Indication of the abdominal region and of pregnancy — The farthingale and the crinoline — Waldeyer’s views regarding the cause of the difference between men’s clothing and women’s — Greater simplicity of men’s clothing — Connexion of this with the greater mental differentiation of man — Former anomalies of men’s clothing — The breeches-flap — Feminine men’s clothing — Present predominance of the English style in men’s clothing — Influence of clothing on the skin — Venus im Pelz (Venus in fur) — Sacher-Masoch’s explanation of the sexual influence of furs — The face and clothing — Sexual[127] differentiation of the features — The relation of clothing to the environment — Enlargement of the conception of “fashion” — Theory of fashion — The two functions of fashion — Social equalization and individual differentiation — The demi-monde and fashion — Fashion as a safeguard of personality — Economic theories of fashion — Their connexion with capitalism — The reform of women’s clothing — “Rational dress.”

The relation between the feeling of shame and nudity as a problem of modern civilization — Prudery — Natural and lascivious nakedness — Prudery is concealed lust — Schleiermacher’s talented characterization of the sexual element in prudery — Psychiatric observations — Unnatural increase in the sense of shame — Importance to civilization of the genuine, natural feeling of shame — False fig-leaf morality — Natural views regarding nudity and sexual matters the watchword for the future.



The first step on the road to the individualization of love was effected at the very outset of the grey primeval age by the origination of the sexual sense of shame. Recent researches have for the first time established the fact that the sense of shame is not innate in man, but that it is a specific product of civilization—that is to say, a mental phenomenon arising in the course of progressive evolution, and as such is peculiar to man—present already, indeed, in the naked man, but, above all, characteristic of the clothed man. Clothing and the sense of shame have developed proportionally side by side, and in dependence each on the other; and originally both subserved the same purpose, to develop more strongly, and to bring to expression the individual, personal, peculiar nature of the individual man. They mirror the first individual activities in the amatory life of primitive man.

Georg Simmel has recognized very clearly this individualizing influence of the sense of shame by saying: “The entire sense of shame depends upon the self-uplifting of the individual.”[72]

By means of the recent critical investigations of leading anthropologists and ethnologists, we have obtained most important conclusions regarding the erotic sense of shame. Above all worthy of mention are the clear-sighted investigations of Havelock Ellis, and these have been supplemented by the researches of C. H. Stratz, Karl von den Steinen, etc.

Havelock Ellis distinguishes an animal and a social factor of shame. The former is specifically of a sexual nature, and is the simplest and most primitive element in the sense of shame. It is unquestionably more strongly developed in woman than in man; originally, indeed, it was peculiar to the female sex, and was the expression of the endeavour to protect the genital organs against the undesired approach of the male. In this form we may observe the sense of shame in other animals.

The sexual sense of shame of the female animal, declares Havelock Ellis, is rooted in the sexual periodicity of the female sex in general, and is an involuntary expression of the organic fact that the present time is not the time for love. Since this fact persists throughout the greater part of the life of the females[129] of all animals kept under man’s control, the expression of this sense of warding off becomes so much a matter of custom that it manifests itself also at times when it has ceased to be appropriate. We see this, for example, in the bitch, which, when on heat, herself runs up to the dog, but then turns round again and tries to run away, and finally permits copulation only after the most delicate approaches on the part of the dog. In this manner the sense of shame becomes more and more a simple manifestation of the proximity of the male; it comes to be expected by the male, and takes its place among his ideas of what is sexually desirable in the female. Thus the sense of shame would appear to be also explicable as a psychical secondary sexual character. The sexual sense of shame of the female, continues Havelock Ellis, is, therefore, the unavoidable by-product of the naturally aggressive demeanour of the male being in sexual relations, and of the naturally repellent demeanour of the female; and this, again, is founded upon the fact that—in man and in nearly all the species allied to him—the sexual function of the female is periodic, and must always be treated with circumspection by the other sex; whereas in the male any care of this kind in regard to the exercise of his own sexual functions is seldom or never needed.

Groos very rightly points out that the great biological and psychological importance of coquetry is dependent upon this protective nature of the sense of shame, coquetry arising from the conflict between the sexual instinct and the innate sense of shame. It is to some extent the turning to account of the sense of shame for sensual purposes, a seldom failing speculation on the sexual impulse of the male, and in this sense it is the outcome of a genuine gynecocratic instinct, which we shall again encounter in our study of masochism.

Since, then, it is no longer possible to question the data of the most recent researches, by which we are assured of the existence of a primitively organic animal basis for the sexual feeling of shame, it is quite as little open to doubt that the true psychic individual importance of the feeling of shame arises out of a second fundamental element of that feeling, out of the social factor; and this factor also affords an explanation of the origin of the sense of shame in man. This phenomenal form of the sense of shame is, moreover, specifically human.

This second social fundamental element of the sense of shame is the fear of arousing disgust.

In this connexion we must refer to the interesting and[130] thoroughly naturalistic theory of Lombroso regarding the origin of the sense of shame. Lombroso starts from the observation that in many prostitutes there exists a kind of remarkable equivalent of the sense of shame—namely, the dislike to permit of an inspection of their genital organs when they are menstruating, or when for any other reason the organs are not clean. Now, the Romance term for shame is derived from “putere,” which indicates the origin of the sense of shame from the repugnance to the smell of decomposing secretions. If we connect with this the fact that the kiss was originally a smell, Lombroso declares that this pseudo-shame of prostitutes represents the original, primitive sense of shame of primeval woman—that is, the fear of being disgusting to man.[73] Sergi also accepts this hypothesis of Lombroso’s.

According to Richet’s studies regarding the origin of disgust, the genito-anal region, with its secretions and excrements, is an object of disgust among most primitive races, for which reason they carefully conceal it even from their own sex, but more particularly from the other sex. Later, quite commonly the fear of arousing dislike or disgust plays a prominent part in the production of the sense of shame. This fear relates not only to the actual sexual organs, but also to the buttocks. Among many primitive races the latter alone are covered.

The idea also of ceremonial uncleanness, aroused especially by the process of menstruation, and associated with ritual practices, plays a part in the genesis of the sense of shame.

Incontestably, however, the sense of shame has most intimate relations with clothing; but clothing is in part only to be referred to the above-described primary factors of the sense of shame. In the later course of the development of civilization, however, clothing has come to play a peculiar independent rôle in the further development of a refined sexual sense of shame.

Karl von den Steinen is led, as the result of his own observations among the Bakäiri of Central Brazil, to the most remarkable conclusions.

“I find it,” he writes, “impossible to believe that the sense of shame, which is entirely wanting among these naked Indians, can in other men be a primary sense. I am compelled to believe that this sense first made its appearance after certain parts of the body had been covered by clothing, and that the nakedness of women was first[131] concealed from the gaze of others when, perhaps, in very slightly complicated economic and social conditions, the value of marriageable girls had increased, in consequence of more active intercourse, as is now the case among the principal families in Schingu. I am also of opinion that we make the explanation more difficult than it really is when we theoretically believe ourselves to possess a greater sense of shame than we practically have.”[74]

Thus we find that among the Bakäiri, who go completely naked, our (sexual) sense of shame is almost completely undeveloped; more especially, a sense of shame due to disclosure of parts does not exist, whilst the purely animal, physiological sense of shame is clearly manifested by these people.[75]

Where nudity is customary, the erotic sense of shame is very slightly developed. Civilized man also accustoms himself with incredible quickness to nudity, as if it were an entirely natural condition.

“The feeling of being in the presence of nudity is no longer noticed after a quarter of an hour, and when those who witness it are intentionally reminded of it, and are asked whether naked men and women, fathers, mothers, and children, who are standing about or walking unconcernedly, should be condemned or regarded with compassion on account of their shamelessness, the observer only feels inclined to laugh, as at something quite absurd, or to protest at a preposterous suggestion.... With what rapidity in unfamiliar regions it is possible to become accustomed to a purely nude environment is most clearly shown by the fact that I myself, in the night from the 15th to the 16th September, and again on the following night, dreamed of my German home, and there in my dream I saw all my acquaintances as completely nude as the Bakäiri with whom I was sojourning. I myself felt astonished at this, but my neighbour at table at a dinner-party at which in my dream I was a guest, a lady of quality, at once bade me compose myself, and said, ‘Now we all go like this.’”[76]

The Bakäiri, who go completely naked, have no “private parts.” They jest about these parts verbally and pictorially with complete indifference. It would be ridiculous for this reason to regard them as “indecent.” The onset of puberty is celebrated in the case of both sexes by noisy popular festivals, in which the “private parts” receive a demonstrative and joyful attention. A man who wishes to inform a stranger that he is the father of one of those present, a woman who wishes[132] to declare herself to be the mother of a child, grasps the genital organs with an earnest and unconcerned demeanour, intending by this gesture to indicate that they themselves are the procreators. The cloth covering the penis of the male, and the three cornered apron of the female, are not for purposes of concealment, but are simply intended to protect the mucous membranes—as a bandage or an apron in the women, and in the men as an apparatus for the mechanical treatment of phimosis.

It is only in jest that such things can be regarded as “articles of clothing,” the principal object of which is to subserve the sense of shame. Sexual excitement is not concealed by this simple covering. The red threads of the Trumai, the vari-coloured cloths of the Bororo, are adornments, by which attention is attracted to this region rather than repelled.[77] The completely naked Suyá women wash their genital organs in the river in the presence of Europeans.[78]

Thus among these Caribs of Central Brazil, who are still living in the stone age, we observe in all their simplicity the results of complete nudity, and we are able to determine that this nudity entirely prevents the origination of an erotic sense of shame in our meaning of the term. The physiological factors of the sense of shame are not, taken alone, sufficiently strong to lead to the appearance of this sense in its full strength as a special psychical phenomenon. It is first in association with clothing that these physiological factors have any great significance in the production of the sense of shame.

C. H. Stratz, in a historical and anthropological study regarding women’s clothing (Stuttgart, 1900), has compared the data of[133] the more recent ethnological investigations with the facts already known in the history of civilization and art, and has noticed a remarkable agreement between the two. According to him, “the first original purpose of clothing was, not the covering, but simply and solely the adornment of the naked body.”[79] The naked man feels little or no shame; the clothed man is the first to feel shame—he feels it when the customary ornament is lacking. This is true alike for primitive and for civilized man. For Stratz very rightly points out that any manifestation of nudity which is prescribed by fashion—that is to say, by the then dominant code of beautification—is never felt as nudity. On the contrary, a lady in a high-necked dress amongst the décolletée ladies of a ballroom, “would feel deeply ashamed because her breast was not bare.”

The history of clothing and of fashion, which is so closely associated therewith, affords us the most important elements for the understanding of the sense of shame of modern man, and for the judgment of its importance and of its natural limitations. Moreover, clothing has most intimate relations to love as a psychical phenomenon. “How great an influence,” says Emanuel Herrmann, “love exercises, in all its stages, upon clothing, and how clearly, on the other hand, love is expressed by clothing!”[80] Clothing more especially satisfies the general human need, proved by Hoche and myself to exist, for variety in sexual relationships, which continually demands new allurements and new stimuli.

The preliminary stage of clothing, a kind of symbolic clothing for primitive man, is the staining, painting, and tattooing, of the skin, regarding which recent ethnological researches, especially those of Westermarck,[81] Joest,[82] and Marquardt,[83] have afforded us noteworthy conclusions.

It is a fact of great interest that the tendency to painting and adorning the body existed already in prehistoric times, thus[134] affording a notable illustration of the truth of Herbert Spencer’s opinion that the vanity of uncivilized man was much greater than that of civilized man. In palæolithic dwellings coloured earths have actually been discovered, and coloured pastes made by mixing iron rust with reindeer fat, which unquestionably were employed for the colouring of the human body. Moreover, as Ludwig Stein remarks, the history of cosmetics, which Lord Bacon, in his “Cosmetica,” dated from the days of Biblical antiquity, can be traced back with certainty to the man of the ice age, upon whose individual and moral qualities this fact throws a significant light. According to Klaatsch, palæolithic man was not contented simply with painting his skin; he also tattooed himself by means of fine flint knives.[84]

Painting and tattooing of the body must, then, be regarded as a primitive stage of clothing. Ploss-Bartels remarks: “I find it impossible to doubt that the original meaning of tattooing is to be found in the endeavour to cover nakedness”; and Joest, the most learned student of tattooing, is of the same opinion. He writes: “The less a man clothes himself, the more he tattoos his skin; and the more he clothes himself, the less he tattoos.”[85]

We must also regard the coloration of the skin produced by tattooing as a means of allurement; tattooing was, in fact, principally carried out for the purpose of sexual allurement and stimulation. The tattooed man is the more beautiful, the more worthy object of desire. Even in cases in which painting and tattooing were originally undertaken for other purposes—for instance, with some therapeutic aim, or perhaps to serve as means of social or political differentiation—still, these signs and visible changes in the skin of the body speedily exerted a powerful influence upon the other sex, and by sexual selection were converted into sexual lures.[86]

This sexual character of tattooing is indicated also by the fact that amongst numerous savage people of the South Seas, in the Caroline Islands, in New Guinea, and in the Pelew Islands, the girls, in order to attract the men, were accustomed to tattoo exclusively the genital region, and especially the mons Veneris;[135] thus, by tattooing, they made this region markedly apparent. It is characteristic that Miklucho-Maclay at the first glance received the impression that the girl tattooed in this manner wore on the mons Veneris a three-cornered piece of blue cloth, so closely can tattooing simulate clothing.

The sexual nature of tattooing is also shown by its association with phallic festivals. In Tahiti there is a very characteristic legend regarding the sexual origin of tattooing.[87] Among many primitive peoples the first appearance of menstruation gives the signal for tattooing, and for priapistic festivals.

An important sexual relationship is also manifested by the colour element of tattooing. It appears that the sense of love in primitive man is closely connected with the sight of particular colours. According to Konrad Lange, the sensual voluptuous value of these colours obtained its peculiar character from the feeling of love associated with viewing them; and, speaking generally, we can prove the existence of a certain association between the love of colour and the sexual impulse. Lange records an experience of his own youth, that when, about fourteen years of age, he was glancing at a vari-coloured necktie he had feelings which were not very different in their nature from sexual desire. He rightly draws attention to the fact that in primitive man this association of ideas is especially vivid, for the reason that, as already stated, the painting of the body is usually first undertaken at the time of the commencement of puberty.[88]

It is a significant fact that among modern civilized peoples the practice of tattooing is generally confined to certain lower classes of the population, such as sailors, criminals, and prostitutes, among whom the primitive impulses remain active in a quite exceptional strength, as Lombroso has more especially shown in his “Palimsesti di Carcere,” and in his works on the criminal and the prostitute. Very frequently obscene tattooings were found in such persons.[89] Marro, Lacassagne, Batut, and Rudolf Bergh, have also studied the tattooings of prostitutes and criminals, and have observed the same objects and ornaments in both classes. Salillas in Spain, Drago in the Argentine, Ellis and Greaves in England, and Tronow in Russia, obtained similar results. In 12·5 per cent. of the inmates of reformatories in Brieg, Kurella found that the skin was tattooed. According to[136] him, cynicism, revenge, cruelty, remorselessness, gloomy or indifferent fatalism, bestial lewdness, with a dominant tendency to unnatural vices of every kind, “constituted the principal psychical manifestations exhibited by these tattoo-pictures.”

“Pæderastic symbols among the men, and tribadistic among the female prostitutes, are of especially frequent occurrence, and among these we often find a mackerel sketched on the vulva, denoting the souteneur; still more perverse sexual representations even French authors such as Batut have not ventured to reproduce; we see things which would send the police des mœurs out of their minds. Already in quite young vagabonds, frequently sons of prostitutes, we see representations of this kind.”[90]

Not only, however, in criminals and prostitutes, but also in the non-criminal members of the lowest classes of the population, we often observe erotic tattooings of the most obscene character, which, without doubt, serve as sexual lures and stimuli. J. Robinsohn and Friedrich S. Krauss recently published an interesting account of these matters.[91]

Cases of Tattooing in Women of the Upper Classes.—It appears that the primitive tendency to tattooing as a sexual stimulus and means of allurement has recently revived in certain circles of the refined sensual world. René Schwaeblé, in his celebrated book based on his own observations and moral studies, and entitled, “Les Détraquées de Paris” (Paris, 1904), gives an account of the increasing diffusion of tattooing among both men and women of the upper classes of Parisian society, for which purpose a specialist has opened an atelier in the Rue Blanche, in Montmartre. Schwaeblé devotes a special chapter to the “tatouées” (pp. 47-57), and describes an assembly of some of these distinguished libertines in a house in the Rue de la Pompe in Passy. In one of these ladies, tattooing imitated in a most deceptive manner a pair of stockings, thus affording a characteristic instance of the above-mentioned association between tattooing and clothing. Another woman had inscriptions tattooed on the thighs and hips; in two the legs were adorned with garlands of vine-leaves, birds were billing on the abdomen, and on the back were depicted many coloured bouquets of flowers, with the inscription, “X. pinxit, after Watteau.” A marchioness had her family coat-of-arms depicted between the shoulder blades; another great lady had had tattooed on her body the maddest[137] and most obscene drawings of a satanistic character! Two unmistakably homosexual women had a common tattooing—that is to say, one was complementary to the other; only when they were side by side had the picture a meaning. The most remarkable of all the tattooings, however, was that of the hostess. On her body was the picture of a complete hunt, the individual scenes of which wound round her body; it was in the most vivid colours; carriages, packs of hounds and hunters were all shown. The final goal of the hunt was a fox tattooed in the genital region.

Tattooing leads on to the consideration of many-coloured clothing, which is especially common in primitive conditions of mankind. Such clothing, in such conditions, serves chiefly to accentuate particular portions of the body, in order to stimulate the sexual appetite of members of the opposite sex. According to Moseley, the savage begins by painting and tattooing himself for the sake of adornment. Then he takes a movable appendage, which he throws round his body, and on which he places the ornamentation which he had previously marked on his skin in a more or less ineradicable manner. Now a greater variation is rendered possible than was the case with tattooing and painting. Thus, by means of vari-coloured and bright bands, fringes, girdles, and aprons, which for the most part are attached in the genital region, attention is drawn to this part—and here a contrast of colours is found extremely effective. The Indians of the Admiralty Islands have as their only article of clothing a brilliant white mussel-shell, which exhibits a striking contrast to the dark colour of their skin. The Areois of Tahiti, a class of privileged libertines and voluptuous individuals, manifested this character in public places by wearing a girdle made of “ti-leaves.”[92]

The first and most primitive form of clothing was this pubic ornament, the original purpose of which was adornment, not concealment. The latter significance it acquired only in proportion as the genital organs became the object of a superstitious feeling of fear and respect, and were regarded as the seat of a dangerous magic.[93] The above-mentioned connexion between sexuality and magic here made itself apparent. It was necessary that this wonderful, daimonic region should be concealed, in order to protect an onlooker from its evil and influence, or, contrariwise, to protect the genital region from the evil glance of the observer. Both ideas are ethnologically demonstrable. According to Dürkheim, the genital organs, and especially those of women, were covered in primitive times, in order to prevent the perception[138] of any disagreeable emanations from these regions. Finally, Waitz, Schurz, and Letourneau propounded the theory that the jealousy of primitive man was the primary ground of clothing, and was indirectly also the cause of the sense of shame. This view is supported by the interesting ethnological fact that in many races only the married women are clothed, whilst the fully-grown unmarried girls go completely naked. The married woman is part of the property of the husband; to the latter, clothing appears to be a protection against glances at his property—to unclothe the wife is a dishonour and a shame. When the idea of possession was extended to the relationship between the father and his unmarried daughters, these latter also were clothed; thus the idea of chastity and the feeling of shame were developed.[94]

We can, however, adduce numerous considerations in support of the view that the first covering of the genital organs, in association with the pubic ornament, did not arise out of the feeling of shame, but, on the contrary, that it served as a means of sexual allurement. By all kinds of striking ornaments, such as cat’s tails, mussel-shells, or strips of hide, fastened either in front or behind, every possible attention was attracted to the genital region or the buttocks.[95] Concealment made itself felt as a more powerful sensual stimulus than nudity. This is an old anthropological experience which still possesses great significance in our modern civilized life.

Virey believed that human beings had more intense and manifold sexual enjoyments than the lower animals, because these latter see their wives at all times without any kind of adornment, whereas the half-opened veil with which the human female conceals or partially discloses her charms increases a hundredfold the already boundless lust of mankind. “The less one sees, the more does imagination picture.”[96] That which causes a refined and sensual stimulus is not the entirely naked, but the half-naked or partial nudity. Westermarck remarks:

“We have numerous examples of races who generally go about completely naked, but sometimes employ a covering. In such cases they always wear the latter in circumstances which make it perfectly clear that the covering is used simply as a means of allurement. Thus, Lohmann relates that among the Saliras only prostitutes wear clothing, and they do this in order to stimulate by means of the[139] unknown. Barth informs us that among many heathen races in Central Africa, the married women go entirely naked, whilst the girls ripe for marriage clothe themselves (in order that they may appear worthy of desire). The married women of Tipperah wear no more than a short apron, while the unmarried girls cover the breasts with vari-coloured cloths with fringed edges. Among the Toungta, the breasts of the women remain uncovered after the birth of the first child, but the unmarried women wear a narrow breast-cloth.”[97]

The significance of clothing and partial clothing as a sexual stimulus, proved by K. von den Steinen and Stratz to exist among primitive peoples, can be shown to form an element in the “fashion” of civilized races, which provides the imagination with entirely new sexual stimuli, by means of the two fundamental elements of the accentuation and disclosure of certain parts, and speaks to man of “hidden joys.” Moses made use of this psychical sexual influence of clothing. He wished to increase the numbers of his small people, and therefore he ordered the concealment of the feminine charms, “in order to stimulate the senses of the male members of his community, and thus increase the fertility of his people.”[98] Nudity, rejected by him as unsuitable, came in the Christian teaching to be regarded as “immoral”; for such a change in the point of view, we can find numerous examples in the public life of the present day.

The greatest sensual stimulus is exerted by the half-clothing or partial disclosure of the body, the so-called retroussé—that is, the art of bringing about a refined mutual influence between the charms of clothing and the charms of the body.[99] This plays a very important part in the origination of the so-called “clothes fetichism,” which we shall describe at greater length when we come to the consideration of these sexual anomalies.

There are two fundamental forms of clothing, the tropical (coat and sash) and the arctic (doublet and hose), and these, in addition to their simple function of protecting in the tropics from the powerful rays of the sun, and in the northern climates of protecting from cold, serve also in both sexes as a means of sexual allurement. The changeful phenomena and phases of “fashion in clothing” afford the most certain proofs of this fact; they may, in fact, be regarded as the most valuable sexual psychological documents of the successive epochs of civilization.[140] The celebrated writer on æsthetics Friedrich Theodor Vischer has regarded them especially from this point of view in his original work, distinguished by its pithy style, “Fashion and Cynicism: Contributions to the Knowledge of the Forms of Civilization and of our Moral Ideas” (Stuttgart, 1888). He regards “the rage to excel in man-catching” as “the most powerful of impulses, capable of inflaming to fever-heat the madness of fashion, with its brainless changes, its furious inclinations, its raging distortions.” In a certain sense we may also speak of some of the fashions of men’s clothing as an art of “woman-catching.” Still, on the whole, this feature is much less manifest here than in relation to woman’s clothing.

Clothing has a sexually stimulating influence in a twofold manner: either certain parts are especially accentuated and enlarged by the shape or cut of the clothing and by peculiar kinds of ornamentation, or else particular portions of the body are directly denuded. Both of these have a sexual influence.

The accentuation and enlargement of certain parts of the body by means of clothing takes its origin in man’s belief that by this means he really produces certain enlargements of his personality, as though these portions of clothing were actually a part of himself. This remarkable theory of clothing, according to which the latter represents a strengthening of the body, a kind of outwardly projected emanation of the human personality, a direct continuation of the body, was first enunciated by the celebrated philosopher Hermann Lotze. He writes:

“Everywhere when we place a foreign body in connexion with the surface of our body (for not the hand alone develops this peculiarity), the consciousness of our personal identity is in a certain sense transmitted into the ends and outer surface of this foreign body, and there arise feelings, partly of an enlargement of our personal ego, partly of a change in form and in extent of movement, now become possible to us, but naturally foreign to our organs, and partly of an unaccustomed tension, firmness, or security of our carriage.”[100]

Naturally the reciprocal influence of one person upon another is not wanting, and the observer believes that in the clothing he actually finds the body. Parts that otherwise would not have attracted attention now appear as important objects. For example, the tall hat, as a prolongation of the head, seems to give the latter a certain height and worth. Gustave Flaubert, in “Madame Bovary,” very beautifully describes this remarkable transition, this identification of clothing with the body:


“Beneath her hair, which was drawn upwards towards the top of the head, the skin of the nape of her neck appeared to have a brownish tint, which gradually became paler, and lost itself in the shadows of her clothing. Her dress spread out on either side over the chair on which she was sitting; it fell in many folds, and spread out on the floor. When he chanced to touch it with his foot, he immediately drew the foot back again, as if he had trodden on something living.”

The same association of ideas has led to the idea that clothing “is, as it were, a complete skin to man,” as if it must represent a kind of “ideal nudity.”[101] Clothing represents the person, shelters the nature, the soul. It can, therefore, become the means of expression of human peculiarities, of individual traits of character. There exists a “physiognomy” of clothing; it is a mirror of the physical and spiritual being.[102] Very rightly is it asserted, in a pseudonymous essay on the “Erotics of Clothing,” that clothing, in the course of the many thousand years of the development of civilization, has taken up into itself so much of the spirit of mankind that we should find a solution for all the problems of human civilization if we were able completely and immediately to understand the spirit of clothing. The form of clothing is at the same time also the most subtle and accurate measuring apparatus for the peculiar and personal in a man—for the individual in him.[103]

If the accentuation of certain parts is the first sexual stimulus of clothing the denuding of certain parts is the second. When once the custom of concealing the body has been introduced, the denuding of portions of the body has acquired a sexually stimulating effect which it did not previously possess, and which it does not now possess among primitive communities. In the saying of a thoughtful writer, that there is a great difference from an erotic point of view between a glance at the naked leg of a sturdy peasant girl and a glance at the naked leg of a fashionable young lady, this different conception of nudity finds very clear expression. There is, in fact, a natural, sexually indifferent nudity, and an artificial, erotically stimulating nudity. It is the latter only which plays a part in the history of clothing and of fashion; and it is this, in association with the erotic accentuation of certain portions of the body, which has from early times been cultivated for the allurement of men, and above all by the world of prostitution and by the half-world.


This first occurred in classical antiquity, to which, however, true “fashion” was unknown, because clothing was not then, as it is in modern times, fused with the body, and therefore did not appear to be a continuation and representation of the bodily personality. In general, the refined quality of the modern “mode” was lacking, in regard to the accentuation of particular parts of the body by means of clothing. Very aptly has Schopenhauer, in the second volume of his “Parerga and Paralipomena,” pointed out the thorough-going difference between antique and modern clothing in this relationship. In the days of antiquity clothing was still a whole, which remained distinct from the body, and which allowed the human form to be recognized as distinctly as possible in all its parts. Sexual stimulation could be effected only by the employment of diaphanous fabrics, which were preferred in the circles of the half-world and by effeminate men. Varro, Juvenal, and Seneca chastise with biting words this immorality of “coacæ vestes,” and of the network clothing imported from Egypt. Then there appeared for the first time as a peculiar type the woman in man’s clothing, a proof of the wide diffusion of the love of boys, on which those prostitutes who went about clothed as men must have speculated when they assumed this dress.

The analysis of clothing into upper-clothing and under-clothing signifies a differentiation of clothing very effective as regards erotic influence. For the first time could the individual portions of the body appear in definite significance in relation to the body as a whole. And the indication of the waist became characteristic of fashion in clothing.[104]

The analysis of clothing was carried a stage further in the separation of clothing, properly speaking, from that which lies beneath it, the more intimate covering of the body, the washable underclothing—shirt, chemise, petticoat, etc. More especially had this differentiation a great erotic significance. It was the increase in the number of individual articles of clothing which first gave rise to the erotically tinged idea of the gradual “dressing” and “undressing,” to the idea of the intimate “toilet.” The possibilities of disclosure, half concealment, and semi-nudity were notably increased, and a much larger playground was opened to the erotic imagination.

In association with this, the waist, especially in the case of[143] woman, indicated a separation of the bodily spheres into an upper sphere, associated chiefly with the intellectual, and a lower sphere, belonging rather to the purely sexual.

“The waist, which is already, roughly speaking, indicated by the sash or girdle, but which, in consequence of the progressive differentiation of feminine clothing, comes to play a principal part in women’s dress, divides the woman’s body into thorax and abdomen. The fully clothed woman becomes an insect, a wasp, with two sharply defined emotional and sexual spheres, with a heavenly and an earthly division.”[105]

With this classification and differentiation of clothing there now developed a fertile field for the activity of “fashion,” which therefore, as such, first really takes its rise in the middle ages. According to Sombart,[106] it was in the Italian States of the fifteenth century that it first became a living reality. Fashion is a product of the Christian middle ages; the specific element that this period introduced into feminine clothing—the corset—is a witness to Christian doctrine.

Stratz remarks on this subject:

“Strange as it may seem, it is very remarkably true that the corset derives its origin from the Christian worship of God. Owing to the strict ecclesiastical control in the middle ages—strict, at least, as regards public life—the dominant ascetic point of view demanded the fullest possible covering of the feminine body, and the mortification of the flesh; it insisted, at any rate, that those portions of the body should be withdrawn from the view of sinful man which are regarded as especially characteristic of the female sex. Through woman sin had entered the world, and therefore woman must, above all, take care to conceal as much as possible the sinful characteristics of her baser sex. Whilst man, by the greatest possible increase in breadth of shoulders and chest, endeavoured to suggest a more powerful and warlike aspect, we find that among women from the twelfth to the sixteenth century, the endeavour was dominant to make the breasts as flat and childlike and as narrow as possible, and for this purpose, for the compression and obliteration of the breasts, an early form of the corset was employed.”[107]

It is characteristic that fashion later employed the corset in precisely the opposite sense—namely, in order to make the breasts “stand out more prominently above the upper margin of the corset, which continually became shorter.” Thus there arose a conflict between medieval fashion and the ascetic tendencies[144] of the times. Fashion was victorious along the whole line, as we can learn in detail in Ritter’s interesting essay regarding the nudities of the middle ages.[108]

Since the middle ages, two portions of the body have in the female sex been especially accentuated by clothing—the breasts, and the region of the hips and the buttocks.

As we have already pointed out, the corset was especially employed to accentuate the breasts, the corset having already produced the stimulating contrast between the prominence of the breast and the slenderness of the waist, increased by lacing. At the same time, at an early date the denuding of the upper part of the breasts was associated with this accentuation, the top of the dress being cut away in front à la grand’ gorge, whilst the corset, strengthened by rods of whalebone or steel, produced a bonne conché. This accentuation of the breasts dominated feminine fashion down to the present day. Besides the use of the corset in this matter, the region of the breasts was also rendered more prominent by the use of artificial breasts made of wax, by ornaments in the form of breast-rings, etc.

The partial denuding of the breasts represents the true décolleté of our balls and parties, a custom which a man so tolerant in other respects as H. Bahr condemns on æsthetic grounds.[109]

“The art of undressing and enjoying in imagination beautiful girls and women,” says Georg Hirth, “is learnt chiefly at Court and other balls, at which the feminine guests are compelled by fashion to bare the upper part of the body. It is astonishing how quickly, how invariably, the girls of the upper classes accustom themselves to this exhibition, which exercises so stimulating an effect upon us of the opposite sex. And yet they would turn up their noses if, at the parties of non-commissioned officers and servants, the women allowed such extensive glimpses of their charms. I once heard a girl three years of age express a naive surprise when she saw the décolletage of her mother, who was about to go to a ball. What a scolding would the poor servant-girl get if she were to exhibit her nudity to the children in such a manner!”[110]

Fr. Th. Vischer also severely criticizes this exposure of feminine nudities coram publico. Moreover, the free enjoyment of alcohol customary among men at these evening entertainments is likely to induce a frame of mind in which the charms[145] thus freely displayed before their eyes will receive an attention not purely æsthetic.

As regards the corset more particularly, it is not only unæsthetic, but also unhygienic.

The corset draws in the beautiful outline of the feminine body in the most disagreeable manner; the wasp waist which it produces is an ugly exaggeration of the natural condition. The lady editor of the Documents of Women instituted an inquiry amongst a number of artists in regard to the corset. One of these, the architect Leopold Bauer, replied as follows:

“Nature has endowed the feminine body with a most beautiful outline. It is almost incomprehensible that the ideal of beauty should during so lengthy a period aim at the destruction of this wonderful and unique perfection. The corset makes an ugly bend in the vertebral column, it makes the hip shapeless, it suggests an unnatural and even repulsive development of the breasts, which transforms our sentiment of the sacred beauty of the human body into the lowest sexual and perverse impulses. That the corset does not really make the body appear slender is no longer open to doubt. All the suggested advantages of the corset are prejudices.... It is only when women’s dress is freed from the tyranny of this detestable corset that it will be able to develop in a free and artistic manner.”[111]

Physicians are unanimous regarding the unhygienic nature of the corset. The deleterious influence of tight-lacing upon the form and the activity of the thoracic and abdominal organs has been thoroughly elucidated by many authors. I need refer only, among many, to the writings of Hugo Klein,[112] Menge,[113] and O. Rosenbach,[114] regarding the dangers of the corset. The corset hinders the sufficient inspiration, which is so necessary for the adequate activity of the respiratory and circulatory organs, and herein we find a principal cause of anæmia (O. Rosenbach); it exercises the most harmful pressure on the abdominal organs, especially on the stomach and the liver, and presses them out of their natural situation, so that it gives rise to a descent of the kidneys, the liver, and the genital organs. The extremely ugly “pendulous belly” is also dependent on the influence of the corset. The pressure of the corset also often gives rise to an atrophy of the mammary glands, and to abnormal changes in the nipples. Thence ensues, further, a serious hindrance to the function of lactation, which may indeed be rendered completely[146] impossible. For this reason, Georg Hirth, in his admirable essay upon the indispensable character of the maternal breast, exclaims: “Away with the corset!”[115]

The dorsal and abdominal muscles also undergo partial atrophy in consequence of the habitual wearing of the corset, because this garment to some extent relieves these muscles of their natural function. Anæmia, gastric and hepatic disorders, and intercostal neuralgia are also dependent upon this “most disastrous error of woman’s dress,” as von Krafft-Ebing calls the corset. Menge has very thoroughly studied the hurtful influence of the corset on the feminine reproductive organs. He enumerates, as a result of wearing it, among many evil results, inflammatory states and enlargement of the ovaries, relaxation of the uterine muscles, atrophy and excessive proliferation of the uterine mucous membrane, the onset of the extremely disagreeable fluor albus, premature termination of pregnancy, displacements of the uterus (retroflexion, anteversion, prolapse), abnormal stretching of the entire pelvic floor, retention of urine, constipation, and nervous troubles of the most varied character. Very often, also, sterility in woman is causally dependent upon the constriction and pressure exercised by the corset.

Rightly, therefore, the abandonment of the corset plays a principal part in the “reformed dress” of woman—a subject to which we shall later return.

In addition to the accentuation of the breast by the corset and by other apparatus,[116] another aim of feminine fashion has been most persistent in very various forms, namely, the exaggeration of the hips, or the buttocks, or both—in fact, of all the visible parts of the clothed body which are directly related to the sexual functions of woman; that is to say, there has been a persistent endeavour to indicate in the most prominent manner, in a way to stimulate the male, the secondary sexual characters of the female in this region of the body.

“The thoroughly modern women,” says Heinrich Pudor, “coquet at the present day less with their breasts than with their hind-quarters—for this reason, because for the most part they have a masculine[147] type (?). It began with the cul de Paris. Nowadays, clothes are cut in such a way that in the view from the back the gluteal region is especially prominent. This is how the fashionable wife of a German officer strikes us at present.

“‘Tailor-made’ is the phrase that has for some time been in use in England. The tailor has made it—not the milliner. No, the tailor, who perhaps is at the same time bath-master and masseur.... Certain species of baboons are distinguished by their brightly coloured and prominent hind-quarters—there seems to be no doubt that our modern ladies in high life have taken these for their example. Or can it be that they wish to avail themselves of the homosexual inclinations of their male acquaintances? Beyond question this is so. Here we find the fundamental ground of the type of clothing of our own day by which so much attention is drawn to the region of the buttocks. What is repulsive here is not the homosexuality, but the misuse that is made of clothing. In fact, that which is most repulsive to a refined sentiment is this—that women have their clothes cut as tightly as possible round the hips, in order that the broad pelvis, which is especially characteristic of women as a sexual being, shall be as far as possible visibly isolated.”[117]

Similarly Fr. Th. Vischer has castigated the immorality of the gross accentuation of kallipygian charms,[118] which in the eighteenth century was inaugurated by the invention of the so-called tournure (cul de Paris), against which Mary Wollstonecraft inveighed so severely. By the tension of the clothing, not only the buttocks, but also the hips and the thighs, were rendered grossly apparent. In certain epochs, also, the feminine abdomen was very markedly indicated by the mode of dress; for instance, in the middle ages, down to the sixteenth century, fashion provided women and girls with the insignia of pregnancy, as is apparent in the pictures of Jan van Eyck (“The Lamb,” “Eva”), Hans Memling (“Eva”), and Titian (“The Beauty of Urbino”). The fashion of the “thick abdomen” in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries was only another variation of the same theme.

In close relation to the variations of fashion we have just described is the farthingale (montgolfière) or crinoline. It was first adopted in the sixteenth century by courtesans and prostitutes, who thus exhibited rounded and provocative forms, wishing to allure men by these vertugales, which, according to the bon mot of a Franciscan, expelled vertu, leaving behind only the gale (syphilis). The aptest remarks regarding the repulsive and dirty fashion of the crinoline were made by Schopenhauer.[119][148] It seems as if the crinoline, which is well known to have celebrated its greatest triumph during the period of the Second Empire in France—who is not familiar with the characteristic daguerrotypes of that period?—has recently endeavoured to come to life once more, for it appears that attempts have actually been made towards the rehabilitation of this monstrosity of clothing.

The physical difference between man and woman is also beyond question the principal cause of the difference between masculine and feminine clothing. According to Waldeyer (Proceedings of the Twenty-Sixth Congress of Anthropologists at Kassel, 1895, published in the Journal of the German Society of Anthropologists, No. 9, p. 76), it is especially the difference in the length and position of the thigh-bones that is responsible for the differentiation between masculine and feminine clothing. In woman, the upper ends of the femora are, in consequence of the greater width of the pelvis, more widely separated than in the male; and since in both sexes these bones are closely approximated at the knees, in women their position appears more oblique. This, in combination with the comparative shortness of women’s thighs, has a manifest influence upon the gait, especially in running, in which man distinctly excels woman. In this purely anatomical difference is to be found the reason why the masculine mode of dress, which makes the lower extremities very manifest, is not adapted for woman, especially when in the upright posture. This is an important cause for the differentiation between masculine and feminine clothing.

A further fundamental difference between the clothing of man and that of woman is the much greater simplicity and monotony, on the whole, of masculine clothing. This has, with good reason, been associated with the greater intellectual differentiation of man, who, therefore, stands less in need of any peculiar accentuation of the individual personality by means of clothing. Woman, who earlier was only a sexual being, utilized clothing in manifold ways as a means of sexual allurement, as the chief means of compensation for the life of activity denied her by Nature and custom, whereas to man, on the whole, the employment of sexual stimulation by means of clothing was superfluous.

Georg Simmel writes from another point of view. He is of opinion that woman, in comparison with man, is, on the whole, the more constant being, but that precisely this constancy, which expresses the equability and unity of her nature on the[149] emotional side, demands, on the principle of compensation of vital tendencies, a more active variability in other less central provinces; whereas, on the contrary, man, in his very nature less constant, who is not accustomed to cleave with the same unconditional concentration of all vital interests to any once experienced emotional relationship, precisely in consequence of this, stands less in need of such external variability. Man, as regards objective phenomena, is, on the whole, more indifferent than woman, because fundamentally he is the more variable being, and therefore can more easily dispense with such objective variability.[120]

Notwithstanding this, down to the beginning of the nineteenth century there were not wanting, in the fashion of men’s clothing, attempts to employ certain parts of dress for the purpose of sexual stimulation. I refer in this connexion to my earlier contributions.[121] Here I shall allude only in passing to the peculiar and characteristic variations of men’s clothing in the form of marked attention drawn to the male genitals by the breeches-flap (braguettes); to the shoe, à la poulaine, which imitated the form of a male penis; to certain effeminate tendencies in the dress of man which have recurred very often since the days of the Roman Empire,[122] which are connected with the wide diffusion of homosexual tendencies, and which sometimes have given men’s dress so variegated a character, have involved such frequent changes and such occasional nudities, that at these times it could enter into competition with women’s clothing. In this respect, clothing enables us to draw conclusions not merely regarding the nature of the men who wore it, but also regarding the character of the time. There exists also the modern dandyhood, which recalls many peculiarities of earlier times; but, on the whole, fashion in men’s clothing tends to simplicity and sexual indifference. This movement originated in England, and the English fashion in men’s clothing has become dominant throughout the whole world, whereas women’s clothing now, as formerly, receives its fashionable stimulus from Paris.

In addition to the indirect relations of clothing with the vita sexualis, which we have already described, there is a direct relationship, and this is the effect of certain fabrics upon the skin, from which certain associations of ideas and certain[150] abnormal tendencies may arise. Thus, for example, the contact of woollen stuffs and of furs has a sexually stimulating influence. Ryan compared their influence with that of flagellation.[123] In this sense, also, furs and the whip go together—these two symbols of “masochism”; velvet has a similar effect. The celebrated author of “Venus im Pelz,” Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, in his well-known romance bearing this name, deals fully with the sexual significance of furs. According to him, they exert a peculiar, prickling, physical stimulus, perhaps dependent upon their being charged with electricity, and upon the warmth of their atmosphere. A woman in a fur coat is like a “great cat,[124] a powerful electric battery.” Influences of smell also appear to be associated herewith. For, in a letter to his wife, Sacher-Masoch once wrote to tell her what voluptuous pleasure it would give to him to bathe his face in the warm odour of her furs.[125] With the description of the stimulating effect of fur dependent upon sensations of contact and smell, he associated also the fact that fur gave woman a dominant, masterful, magical influence. His “Venus im Pelz” is also to him “one who commands.” Titian found for the rosy beauty of his beloved one no more costly frame than dark fur. It is doubtless the strong contrast-effect between the delicate charm and the shaggy surroundings that evokes that remarkable symbolical relationship to longings for power and cruel despotism. In a thoughtful essay, “Venus im Pelz” (Berliner Tageblatt, No. 487, September 25, 1903), the idea is developed and explained, that the love of woman for furs results from her inward nature. It is the secret longing for an increase of her power and influence by means of contrast.[126]

Men’s and women’s clothing comprises the covering of the entire body with the exception of the face—the idea does not, as a rule, include the head-covering and the way the hair is dressed. In a recent work, H. Pudor brings the face into a peculiar sexual relationship with the clothing. His remarks on this subject, which contain many valuable observations, notwithstanding the fact that much of what he says is overdrawn, run as follows:

“There is no doubt that the face is a bearer of the sexual sense in the second and third degree. Not only the mouth or the larynx. The[151] nose, especially in virtue of the mucous membranes by which odours are perceived. The eye, in virtue of the magnetic currents, the perception of light, and the chemical activity of the retina. But even the cheeks and the ears. Let some one you are fond of whisper something into your ear—notice the emotional wave you will feel, and observe how from the ear there are paths of conduction to the sexual cells [!]. Above all, however, naturally the mouth. We speak of the labia of the female genital organs, and therewith already we indicate the relationship to the lips of the mouth. We can, in fact, prove the existence, not only of a parallelism in the structure of the mouth and that of the sexual organs, in man just as in woman. We can go even further: we can regard the sacral region as the forehead, the anal region as the nose, the pudendal region as the mouth, and the gluteal region as the cheeks [!].

“If we regard the sexual differentiation of the features of the face as established, from this standpoint we gain an interesting light upon the deeper lying causes of the wearing of clothes. Civilized mankind conceals the sexual organs of the first degree; the sexual organs of the third degree—that is, the features of the face—are left naked; in fact, on account of the thorough way in which the parts of the body adjacent to the face are covered, stress is actually laid upon the nakedness of the face as bearing sexual organs of the third degree—now we recognize the rôle played by the hat—and by means of that which we call coquetry, we see mirrored in the features the proper sexual organs, or we have our attention drawn to the sexual organs by means of the features, and by the latter we are made aware of certain peculiarities of the former. In this connexion, let us remember certain facial adornments which serve to limit still more the naked area of the face, and to clothe a larger portion of that region, such as the locks of hair covering the ears which the dancer Cléo de Mérode introduced, ringlets such as were worn in youth by our grandmothers, or the chin-band drawn across the middle of the chin. Perhaps even other ornaments of the face (neck-band, ear-rings, and even eyeglasses and lorgnette [!]) also play a certain part in this connexion. Think, above all, of the stand-up collar and all other varieties of high collar by which the clothing is carried up as high as the chin. But those parts of the face which remain naked must now be as naked as possible; for this reason hairs, unless they belong to the beard as sexual organs of the second degree, must be removed, and society determinedly insists that faces shall be clean-shaven.”[127]

The relation of the face to the clothing already makes clear to us the idea of “costume” as an extension of clothing beyond the mere covering of the body. All which surrounds man, which has a relation to his appearance, is costume in the widest sense of the word; thus, sitting-room, workshop, study, dressing-room, park, library, etc.

“We take pains regarding all that we have nearest to us and round about us, our toilet, because therein we are at home, therein we suffer and we rejoice. Where we feel ourselves at home, we shall endeavour[152] so to arrange matters that everything is comfortable to us, down to the furthest manifestations of our existence, so that our sitting-room, our bedroom, our house and our garden, constitute a prolongation, an extension of our clothing” (A. von Eye).[128]

Thus it happens that fashion is concerned, not merely with clothing, but also with an abundance of customary details of environment. The arrangement and furnishing of rooms, artistic objects, bodily exercises, social intercourse, sports, etc., are subject to the caprices of fashion. On this extended idea of fashion is based Fr. Th. Vischer’s definition: “Fashion is a general term to denote a complex of temporary current forms of civilization.”

The theory of fashion has been elaborated especially by Sombart[129] and Simmel.[130] In the work of W. Fred,[131] also, we find some thoughtful observations.

According to Simmel, fashion fulfils a double task. On the one hand, it is the imitation of a given example, and thus satisfies the need for social dependence; it leads the individual along the path on which all are going. But, on the other hand, it satisfies also the need for difference, the tendency to differentiation, to variation, to self-assertion. This fashion effects by means of frequent changes, and by the fact that first of all it is always a class fashion. The fashions of the upper classes are distinguished from those of the lower classes, and are instantly abandoned when the lower classes adopt them. Thus, according to Simmel’s definition, fashion is nothing else than a peculiar form among many forms of life, by means of which the tendency towards social equalization is connected with the tendency towards individual differentiation and variation to constitute a unitary activity.

In Paris, the centre of fashion, the associated work of these two tendencies may be studied most accurately and purely. We can there observe how at first always a portion only of society adopts the fashion, whilst the commonalty are still only on the way towards its adoption. If the fashion has become entirely general, if it is followed without exception, it is already over, it is no longer “fashionable,” because this class difference has ceased to exist.


“By means of this interplay—between its tendency to general diffusion on the one hand, and, on the other, the annihilation of its significance which this very diffusion brings about—fashion exercises the peculiar charm of the border-line, the charm of simultaneous beginning and ending, the charm of that which is at the same time new and obsolete” (Simmel).

In connexion with this fact we find that from the earliest times the “demi-monde” has always given the impulse to new fashions. Owing to the peculiarly uncertain position occupied by this class, everything conventional, everything long in use, is detested by its members; only newness and change are agreeable.

“In the continuous endeavour to find new, hitherto unheard-of fashions, in the heedlessness with which precisely that which is opposed to what has gone before is passionately grasped, there lies an æsthetic form of the destructive impulse, which all pariah existences appear to possess, so long, at any rate, as they are not completely enslaved” (Simmel).

On the other hand, the equalizing tendency of fashion serves delicate, sensitive natures as a kind of protection of their personality, as Simmel has shown in a masterly manner. To such persons fashion plays the part, as it were, of a mask.

“Thus it is a delicate shame and shyness, lest by a peculiarity in outward aspect, some peculiarity of the subjective character might perhaps be betrayed, that leads many natures to seek with eagerness the concealing equalization of fashion.... It gives a veil and a protection to all that lies within, and that thereby becomes more perfectly free.”

That modern fashion is, for the most part, a child of the nineteenth century, and is most intimately dependent upon the nature of capitalism, has been directly proved by W. Sombart. He indicates as a decisive fact in the process of the formation of fashion the perception that the participation of the consumer is thereby reduced to a minimum, that, on the contrary, the driving force in the creation of modern fashion is the capitalistic entrepreneur. If, for example, a Parisian cocotte discovers a new style of dress, or if, as the newspapers recently reported, the King of England introduces the fashion of a white hat or white shoes for men, these actions have, according to Sombart, the character only of intermediate assistance. The true driving agent for the rapid general diffusion of fashion, and for the frequent changes of fashion, remains the capitalistic entrepreneur, the producer, or merchant. Sombart proves this convincingly by striking examples. This economic aspect of fashion must receive no less consideration than the psychological.


If men’s clothing, as we have already said, is, in the gross, far less subject to the dominion of fashion than women’s clothing, still recently efforts have been apparent to simplify women’s clothing also, to make it independent of the caprices of fashion, and, above all, to subordinate it to hygienic principles. It is noteworthy that these efforts proceed more particularly from the leaders of the modern woman’s movement, an interesting proof of the connexion already alluded to between personality and clothing. The more differentiated and the more inwardly rich the personality, the simpler and more monotonous is the clothing. To this extent, therefore, the desire for simplification of feminine clothing is an entirely logical postulate of the emancipation of women. But this demand finds a justification also from the point of view of hygiene. This fact has been discussed especially by Paul Schultze-Naumburg in his book on “The Culture of the Feminine Body as the Basis of Women’s Clothing” (Leipzig, 1901). He insists above all on the complete abandonment of the corset, and of the “small waist,” and on a return of women’s clothing to the free, simple outlines of the antique. He makes, also, very noteworthy observations on the unhygienic footgear of both sexes.

The idea that woman’s clothing should unconstrainedly represent the form of her body has been admirably realized in the different varieties of the so-called “reformed dress.” Not without influence on these deserving attempts has been the recognition of the distinguished simplicity and hygienic purposefulness of the Japanese women’s clothing.

For the present, however, fashion, as of old, remains dominant, and celebrates annually its triumph in respect of new discoveries and refinements of the dress of women of the world, employing for this purpose the familiar means of accentuation and disclosure, and of coloured and ornamental stimuli. The “woman’s movement” has as yet had little ostensible and practical influence in liberating women’s dress from the all-powerful control of fashion.

Now that we have considered clothing and fashion in their relations to the sexual life, and have learned to understand how they combine in action as means of sexual stimulation of a peculiar nature, we are in a position to grasp the relations between the sense of shame and nudity, as it presents itself to us as a problem of modern civilization.

While, as Simmel also maintains, and as we have thoroughly explained above, clothing, through the intermediation of fashion, gives rise to shamelessness as a group manifestation, or, as we are accustomed to say at the present day, seriously impairs the[155] sense of shame in such a manner as would be repelled with disgust if it were adopted by the personal choice of an isolated individual,[132] clothing has, on the other hand, led astray the natural biological sense of shame, since it is the sole cause of the “exaggerated sense of shame” known as prudery. Prudery recognizes the existence of clothed human beings only; it will not recognize the existence of naked man; it refuses to admit the purely moral-æsthetic influence of natural nudity—to prudery this is something immoral and repulsive.

To prudery alone we must ascribe the fact that we modern civilized human beings have completely lost the taste for natural nudity, and also for the natural sense of shame, and thus we show little understanding of the ennobling, civilizing influence of both.

Natural nudity, the state in which every human being is born into this world, not artificial nudity, with its lascivious influence dependent upon clothing, posture, and gesture, is purely an object of simple contemplation for the human being of normal perceptions, who sees in the unclothed human body precisely the same individual natural object as he sees in the bodies of other living beings. People, in other respects extremely prudish, admit this when they have the opportunity—at the present day certainly very rare—of seeing completely naked human beings in natural surroundings, as, for instance, when bathing.

It is only when we introduce intentionally a sensual or, speaking generally, an artificial influence, that nudity has an effect of lascivious stimulation. Prudery is, however, nothing more than such a way of looking at nudity, with concealed lustful feelings. The talented Schleiermacher already recognized this fact. He unmasked prudery as a lack of the sense of shame, and very clearly pointed out the sexual and lascivious element which it conceals. In his “Vertrauten Briefen über die Lucinde” (edition of K. Gutzkow, Hamburg, 1835, pp. 63-65) we find the following beautiful passage:

“What, then, shall we think of those who pretend to be in a condition of quiet thought and activity, and yet are so intolerably sensitive that as a result of the most trivial and most remote impulse, passion arises in them, and who believe themselves to be the more fully equipped with the sense of shame the more readily they find in everything something worthy of suspicion? They do not really find what they pretend to find in every occurrence; it is their own crude lust which lies always on the watch, and springs forward as soon as anything shows itself in[156] the distance akin to themselves, and which therefore they find it possible to condemn; and they will quickly seize an opportunity for blaming anything of which the motives were absolutely blameless. Ordinarily, indeed, blamelessness appears to them a pretence. Youths and maidens are represented as knowing nothing as yet of love, but none the less as full of yearnings which every moment threaten to break out, and which clutch the slightest opportunity in order to grasp the forbidden fruit. But this is absurd. True youths and maidens are, indeed, the ideals of this kind of modesty, but in them it takes another form. Only that which has no other purpose than to arouse desire and passion can do them any harm; but why should they not be allowed to learn love and to understand Nature, both of which they see everywhere round them? Why should they not, without restraint, understand and enjoy what is thought and said about these matters, since in this way so much the less would passion be aroused in them? Such anxious and limited modesty as is at the present day characteristic of society is based only upon the consciousness of a great and widespread perversity, and upon a deep corruption. What will be the end of all this? If matters were left to themselves, they would become worse and worse; when we so persistently hunt out that which in reality is not shameful, we shall at last succeed in finding something immodest in every circle of ideas; and finally all conversation and all society must come to an end; we must separate the sexes so that they may not look at one another; we must introduce monasticism, or even something more severe. But this is not to be borne, and it will happen to our society as it happened to our wives when morality confined them ever more and more strictly, until at last it became improper for them to show the tips of their fingers—and then in despair they suddenly turned round, and they exposed their necks, their shoulders, and their breasts to the rude winds and to lascivious eyes; or, like the caterpillars, they cast off their old skin by a predetermined movement. Thus will it be; when corruption has reached its climax, and the crude impulses become so dominant that it is no longer possible to keep them within bounds, all these false appearances will break down of themselves, and behind them we shall see youthful shamelessness which has long intimately entwined itself round the body of society, so that this has become the true skin in which society naturally and easily moves. Complete corruption and completed culture, by way of which we return to blamelessness—both of these make an end of prudery.”

Fine words from a theologian! This thoroughly just description of the nature of prudery and of its dangers should be laid seriously to heart by our modern theological bigots and moral fanatics. How truly Schleiermacher has depicted the nature of prudery is shown by the observations of the alienist J. L. A. Koch, that it is precisely the women who were formerly prudish and “moral” when they become insane—for example, in mania—who are much more shameless than women who in everyday life had taken a more natural view of sexual relationships.

The eternal concealment of the most natural things is what first makes them appear unnatural, first awakens desire, where[157] otherwise they would have been passed by quietly and harmlessly without attention. At the present day the natural justifiable sense of shame has been intensified to an unnatural degree, and has been falsified to such an extent that this exaggeration of the sense of shame, this unceasing objective suppression of natural harmless activities and feelings, has really increased the hidden desires to an immeasurable degree; it is this, in fact, which heaps fuel on the fire of fleshly lust.[133]

The genuine, natural, biological sense of shame sets bounds to lust. To this shame we owe the ennobling and spiritualizing of the crude sexual impulse; it is the preliminary stage to the individualization of that impulse. It is intimately related to that voluntary, temporary, and relative continence which has so great an importance for the individual life. The sense of shame has civilized the sexual impulse without denying its essential basis.

Complete culture returns to complete innocence. It knows no fig-leaves; it does not go about, as did recently in the Dresden Museum a clergyman affected with the psychosis of hyper-prudery, knocking off the genital organs from naked statues; nor does it castrate the human spirit, as we find most biographers do even now in the case of the great men whose lives they describe. It recognizes the sexual as something noble and natural.

The sense of shame is an inalienable acquirement of civilization; it is self-respect. But, as Havelock Ellis rightly remarks, in completely developed human beings self-respect keeps a tight rein on any excess of the sense of shame. Knowledge and culture give the death-blow to all false prudery. The cultured man looks the natural in the face; he recognizes its value and its necessity. To him the sexual is the indispensable preliminary of life; hence in its essential nature it is something harmless, wholly comprehensible; something that must not be underrated, but above all must not be overrated, as our virtuous hypocrites and fanatics of prudery invariably overrate it.

The true league against immorality is the league against prudery. The apostles of the nude do more service to true morality than the men of the “Lex-Heinze,” than those who hold conferences on morality, than the German Christian League of Virtue. A natural conception of the nude—that is the watchword of the future. This is shown by all the hygienic, æsthetic, and ethical endeavours of our time.

[72] G. Simmel, “Philosophy of Fashion” (Berlin, 1906, p. 27).

[73] Cf. C. Lombroso and G. Ferrero, “Woman as Criminal and Prostitute.”

[74] Karl von den Steinen, “Experiences among the Savage Races of Central Brazil” (Berlin, 1894, p. 199).

[75] Op. cit., p. 66.

[76] Op. cit., p. 64.

[77] A discussion of the early manifestations of the sexual sense of shame as exhibited by savages and by primitive man would hardly be complete without an allusion to the theory mentioned by Robert Browning (“Bishop Blougram’s Apology,” Collected Works, 1889, vol. iv., p. 271):

“Suppose a pricking to incontinence—
Philosophers deduce you chastity
Or shame, from just the fact that at the first
Whoso embraced a woman in the field,
Threw club down and forewent his brains beside,
So stood a ready victim in the reach
Of any brother savage, club in hand;
Hence saw the use of going out of sight
In wood or cave to prosecute his loves:
I read this in a French book t’other day.”

[78] Op. cit., pp. 190, 191, 195. Cf. also the interesting remarks regarding the nudity of the indigens of South America by Alex. von Humboldt, “Journey in the Equinoctial Regions of the New Continent” (Stuttgart, vol. ii., pp. 15, 16).

[79] Somewhat diverging from these views, Karl von den Steinen (op. cit., pp. 174, 178, and 186) is of opinion that man learned first by their use for practical ends the employment of the articles later utilized for adornment. Above all, in this connexion, he alludes to tattooing, which originated, he believes, in the practice of smearing the body with various coloured earths and with different kinds of clay, these at the same time serving to promote coolness and to afford a protection against the bites of insects. Cf. also Yrjö Hirn, “The Origin of Art” (Leipzig, 1904, p. 222).

[80] E. Herrmann, “Natural History of Clothing” (Vienna, 1878, p. 239).

[81] Edward Westermarck, “History of Human Marriage.”

[82] Wilhelm Joest, “Tattooing, Scarifying, and Painting the Body” (Berlin, 1887).

[83] Carl Marquardt, “Tattooing of Both Sexes in Samoa” (Berlin. 1899).

[84] Ludwig Stein, “The Beginnings of Human Civilization” (Leipzig, 1906, pp. 74, 75); Edward Tylor, “Anthropology: an Introduction to the Study of Man and Civilization” (Macmillan, 1881, p. 237).

[85] According to Karl von den Steinen (op. cit., p. 186), the oil colours used in painting the body are “actually the clothing of the Indians, employed for this purpose as occasion demands.” Their oldest aim was protection against heat, cutaneous irritation, and external noxious influences.

[86] Cf. Y. Hirn, “The Origin of Art” (Leipzig, 1904, pp. 223, 224).

[87] Cf. my “Contributions to the Etiology of Psychopathia Sexualis,” vol. ii., p. 338.

[88] Cf. K. Lange, “The Nature of Art” (Berlin, 1901, vol. ii., pp. 185, 186).

[89] The significance of tattooing of this nature in the diagnosis of sexual perversities we shall later discuss at greater length.

[90] Cf. Kurella, “The Natural History of the Criminal” (Stuttgart, 1893, pp. 105-112).

[91] “Erotic Tattooing” in “Anthropophyteia, Annual for Folk-lore and for Researches regarding the History of the Evolution of Sexual Morals,” edited by Friedrich S. Krauss (Leipzig, 1904, vol. i., pp. 507-513). According to an account in the Temps, in a deserter from the French army the most remarkable tattooings were observed. On the breast there were two seductive women throwing kisses to a sturdy musketeer, in addition to portraits of music-hall singers, both male and female—for example, Yvette Guilbert. The entire back was covered with love sketches. Cf. B. Z. am Mittag, August 21, 1906.

[92] William Ellis, “Polynesian Researches” (London, 1859, vol. i., p. 235).

[93] Cf. Hirn, “The Origin of Art,” pp. 214, 215.

[94] Cf. Havelock Ellis, op. cit. pp. 56-62.

[95] It is well known that the buttocks formed an object of erotic allurement in many savage races, and especially so in certain African tribes.

[96] J. J. Virey, “Woman” (Leipzig, 1825, p. 300).

[97] Westermarck, “History of Human Marriage,” pp. 193, 197.

[98] C. H. Stratz, “Women’s Clothing” (Stuttgart, 1900, p. 42).

[99] In his “Confessions,” Rousseau writes regarding the collar of the beautiful courtesan Giulietta: “Her cuffs and collar had silken threads running through them, and were adorned with pictures of roses. These made a beautiful contrast with her fine skin.

[100] H. Lotze, “Mikrokosmus: Ideas regarding the Natural History of Mankind” (third edition, Leipzig, 1878, vol. ii., p. 210).

[101] H. Bahr, “Clothing Reform,” in Dokumente der Frauen, 1902, vol. vi., No. 23, p. 665.

[102] Cf. the detailed account of this aspect of clothing in my “Contributions to the Etiology of the Psychopathia Sexualis,” vol. ii., pp. 334-336.

[103] Cf. Lucianus, “Erotics of Clothing,” published in Die Fackel, edited by Karl Kraus (Vienna, No. 198, March 12, 1906, pp. 12, 13).

[104] Cf., in this connexion, Ernest Kapp, “Fundamental Outlines of a Philosophy of Technique,” p. 267 (Brunswick, 1877).

[105] Lucianus, “Erotica of Clothing,” p. 16.

[106] W. Sombart, “Domestic Economy and Fashion” (Wiesbaden, 1902, p. 12).

[107] Stratz, “Woman’s Clothing,” pp. 123, 124.

[108] B. Ritter, “Nudities in the Middle Ages: Outlines of the History of Morals,” in the Annual of Science and Art, published by O. Wigand (Leipzig, 1855, vol. iii., p. 229).

[109] H. Bahr, “Clothing Reform,” op. cit., p. 666.

[110] G. Hirth, “Ways to Love,” p. 619.

[111] Leopold Bauer, in Documents of Women, March, 1902, pp. 675, 676.

[112] Op. cit., pp. 671, 672.

[113] Menge, “The Influence of Constricting Clothing upon the Abdominal Organs, and more Especially upon the Reproductive Organs of Woman” (Leipzig, 1904).

[114] O. Rosenbach, “The Corset and Anæmia” (Stuttgart, 1895).

[115] G. Hirth, “Ways to Love,” p. 49.

[116] The modern fancy for slender, ethereal, Pre-Raphaelite feminine figures is also to some extent allied with a negative accentuation of the breasts. Heinrich Pudor with good reason declares that at the present time perhaps the strongest sexual influence of woman is dependent upon the fact that “the existence of the breasts is concealed, and the appearance of the male sex is simulated.” Cf. his article, “Clothing and Sex,” in Die Gemeinschaft der Eigenen, August number, 1906, p. 22. Still, the sexual stimulating influence of this concealment of the breasts appears to be of a transient character, and confined to certain circles of the hyperæsthetic and the homosexual.

[117] Heinrich Pudor, “Nackt-Kultur,” vol. ii.; “Clothing and Sex; Limbs and Pelvis,” pp. 7, 8 (Berlin-Steglitz, 1906).

[118] Cf. the passages relating to this in my work, “Contributions,” etc., vol. i., pp. 152, 153.

[119] Schopenhauer, “Parerga and Paralipomena,” vol. v., p. 176.

[120] G. Simmel, “Philosophy of Fashion, p. 24” (Berlin, 1906).

[121] “Contributions to the Etiology of Psychopathia Sexualis,” vol. i., pp. 158-162.

[122] Ovid, in his “Ars Amandi,” long ago advised men who wished to please women to avoid feminine adornments, and to leave those to the homosexual.

[123] J. Ryan, “Prostitution in London,” p. 382 (London, 1839).

[124] In Alfred de Musset’s erotic story, “Gamiani,” he describes how a woman danced on a mat of catskin, which gave rise in her to very voluptuous sensations.

[125] “Confessions of My Life,” Memoirs of Wanda von Sacher-Masoch, p. 38 (Berlin and Leipzig, 1906).

[126] Here we may allude to a remark in the diary of the de Goncourts that there is nothing to compare to the delicate voluptuous charm of old cashmere as a dress-fabric for women (E. and J. de Goncourt, “Diary,” 1851-1895).

[127] H. Pudor, “Nackt-Kultur,” vol. ii., pp. 4-6.

[128] Ernst Kapp, “Elements of a Philosophy of Technique,” pp. 269, 270 (Brunswick, 1877).

[129] W. Sombart, “Domestic Economy and Fashion” (Wiesbaden, 1902).

[130] G. Simmel, “The Psychology of Fashion,” published in Die Zeit, October 12, 1895; “The Philosophy of Fashion” (Berlin, 1906).

[131] W. Fred, “The Psychology of Fashion” (Berlin, 1905).

[132] Simmel rightly points out that many women would feel very uncomfortable if they had to appear in their private sitting-room, or before a single strange man, in a dress so décolleté as that in which they readily appear, in society and following the fashion, before thirty or a hundred.

[133] What serious dangers to health prudery may entail has recently been shown by Karl Ries in a valuable essay, “Prudery as the Cause of Bodily Disorders” (published in the Reports of the German Society for the Suppression of Venereal Diseases, 1906, vol. iv., pp. 113-121).



Above all, we must avoid the widely diffused error of regarding love as a simple and single feeling. The exact opposite is the truth—love consists of an entire group, and, indeed, of an extremely complex, incessantly varying, group of feelings.”—H. T. Finck.



The individualization of love a product of recent times — Finck’s “romantic” love too narrow a conception — Rôle of the idealization of the senses — First beginnings of individual love — The Platonism of the Greeks and of the Renascence — Distinction between the plastic and the romantic — The love of the minnesinger — The connexion between the nature-sense and love — The secret elements in love — Love and gallantry — The slavery of love — The imaginative element in love — Predominance of tender feelings in the days of chivalry — The development of the conventional in the relationships of love — True and false gallantry — Love as presented by Shakespeare — Conventional life of pleasure in the days of Louis XIV. and XV. — The belief in woman (“Manon Lescaut”) — Rousseau’s “Julie” and Goethe’s “Werther” — The nature-sense and sentimentality in love — Difference between “The New Héloïse” and “Werther” — The first beginnings of Weltschmerz — Its physiological connexion with the vital feelings of puberty — The vital energy in the Weltschmerz of Goethe and Heine — The modern Weltschmerz — Nietzsche’s connexion with this matter — The love of the romantic period — A mirroring of the past — Dreams and emotions — Moonshine reverie — Conflict with conventional Philistine morality — Friedrich Schlegel’s “Lucinde” — Apotheosis of individual love — Individual love in relation to genius — Rôle of the emotional in romantic love — Love mysticism — The modern renascence of romanticism — The Dionysiac element in modern romantic love — Difference between romantic and classical love — Theodor Mundt on this subject — Goethe’s “Tasso” — Gretchen and Helena in “Faust” — Heine’s “Ardinghello,” a combination of romantic and classical love — The prototype of “young Germany” — Discussion of all modern love problems in young German literature — Gutzkow’s overwhelming importance — Among writers of the nineteenth century, Gutzkow’s knowledge of women is the most profound — His characteristic girls and women — Brings for the first time the problem of love upon the stage — The problem of personality in Gutzkow’s writings — The young German poetry of the flesh — Self-analysis and reflection in love — French precursors — Replacement of the medieval “sin” by self-reflection — Gutzkow’s “Wally” and “Seraphine” — The love of the emancipated woman — Kierkegaard’s and Grillparzer’s diaries — “Free love” and “free marriage” in modern literature — Influence of the Second Empire — The satanic and artistic elements in love — Pessimism. — Grisebach’s “New Tanhäuser” — The affirmation of life in this work — A glance at the present day.



The individualization of love is principally a product of recent times. A talented author, H. T. Finck, has dealt with this fact in a comprehensive work in two volumes.[134] This individual love, containing the spiritual elements of all the successive epochs of civilization, he denotes by the term “romantic” love, whereas we ourselves generally understand by that term a special variety of the more comprehensive individual love.

Every one who is interested in the numerous “overtones” of individual love will find in Finck’s book a rich, though not very well arranged, supply of material.

Independently of Finck, I shall endeavour in this chapter to describe very briefly the most important elements and the developmental phases of modern love.

First, however, let us consider the “idealization of the senses,” this expression being used by Georg Hirth to denote the capacity of the senses for self-government; for independent feelings of pleasure and pain; for the development of peculiar imaginations, ideas, and talents; and for the utilization at will of other sensory areas and foci of impulse—indeed, of the entire individual—for the purposes of purely sensual self-command. The lower senses, among which Hirth also reckons the sexual impulse, can only be idealized in consequence of the centripetal spontaneous activity of the higher senses.[135]

This artistic idealization of the senses and impulses also plays an important part in the process of the individualization and spiritualization of love. The sexual impulse becomes “the source of rich joys and imaginative tragedy” by means of the “veil of imagination,” the “heaping up of emotions,” and the “helmet of reason” (Hirth). The libido sexualis also takes part in the idealization of all the human senses and impulses. This is the indispensable preliminary and foundation of the transformation of the sexual impulse into love.

The first important enrichment of the sexual inclinations by means of a higher spiritual, individual element, which continues to-day to form a constituent of modern love, is, I consider, the[162] Platonism of Greek antiquity and of the Italian renascence. It is a metaphysic of love resting upon the individual, æsthetic contemplation of the beloved personality.[136] For that is the true sense of “Platonic love.” It ennobles physical love to the heavenly Eros, which is nothing else than the idea of beauty in the highest sense of the word. Kuno Fischer, in his first published writing, “Diotima” (Pforzheim, 1849), has erected a beautiful monument in honour of this Platonic love. And did not the immortal Darwin restate the thought of Plato, when he described beauty as the testimony of love? In Platonism, at any rate, is to be found the first intimation of a higher individual significance of love. In Dante’s Beatrice, in Petrarch’s Platonic lyrics, this idea is reillumined after the long night of the middle ages, to shine forth still more clearly at the time of the renascence in the new Platonism and in the cult of the beautiful, thus attaining a much more powerful individual colouring than it had among the Greeks.

In the sphere of love, as elsewhere, the plastic genius of the Greeks manifested itself in the form of peaceful æsthetic contemplation; romantic individualism, on the other hand, was foreign to the Greek mind. The latter is a modern sentiment. Jean Paul, in his “Vorschule der Aesthetik” (Hamburg, 1804, vol. i., p. 139), has aptly characterized the difference between antique and modern sensibility in the words: “The plastic sun (of the ancients) illuminates universally, like waking; the romantic moon (of the moderns) gleams fitfully, like dreams.”

These first traces of romantic-individual love may be detected already in Christian medievalism, among the troubadours and the minnesinger. The heartfelt song, “Thou art mine, I am thine,” gives the clearest expression to the individual, purely personal nature of the love-relations between man and woman, and discloses also the “romantic” sentiment, as in “Thou art locked within my heart; lost is the key: now must thou stay there for ever,” and discloses the intimate association peculiar to romanticism between the nature-sense and the feeling of love. It is the beloved who first fills for us the joy of summer; her love is like the rose. An enormous range is thus opened to the subjectivity of this sentiment. The romanticism of the secret[163] element in love is first perceived at this time, and finds perception in the words:

“No fire, no coal, can burn so hot
As secret love, of which no one knows anything.”[137]

The age of chivalry now arrives, the epoch of minne[138] (love) and gallantry. What a new and remarkable change in the spiritual physiognomy of love! This also has left deep traces in the love of modern civilized man; this period represents an important stage in the developmental history of individual eroticism.

In the middle ages the honour of the knight and the love of woman, “the most beautiful radiance coming down to us from the life of this wonderful period,” as Wienberg says, belong together. Since that time man’s honour has been associated in a peculiar manner with woman’s love.

Boldly but aptly the far-sighted Herder has described the knightly minne (love) as a reflex of the Gothic. The same immeasurability of the imagination, the same indescribable sentiment, constructed the huge cathedral, and disclosed the unrivalled worth and beauty of the beloved—created minne and its outward expression, gallantry.

In deifying supplication, the knightly spirit elevated the beautiful sex to the heavens, raised woman far above man, and placed man far beneath woman. The knight sacrificed himself for the mistress of his heart, subjected himself to her judgment before the cours d’amour (courts of love), and in the lists. He became the slave of love and of the beloved woman; he wore her fetters, he obeyed her slightest nod, he endured chastisement and pain for her sake. But was this all reality? Was it not rather pure imagination? There was, indeed, as Johannes Scherr says, a worm at the heart of all this romanticism. The ideal deification of woman did not affect a corresponding elevation in her true social position; minne was but too often a mere[164] “pose,” and was often associated with unbridled sexual licence in relation to women of lower degrees.

The domination of the imaginative element characterized the aberrations of minne, debasing itself for the honour of the beloved. The masochistic element concealed in all love was here for the first time elevated into a system. We shall return to this subject in the chapter on “Masochism.”

And yet there is another side to the matter, and by the spirit of chivalry there was aroused a nobler view of woman’s nature.

“The cause and the secret of this dominance (of women) is this, that woman, with her complete, noble womanliness, entered wholly and fully into life; that she controlled a kingdom which was hers by right, the world of feeling and emotion, but controlled this kingdom and no more. As mistress of feeling, as guardian of feeling, she brought poetry into life; and into art she brought that lofty impetus, the above-described fanciful ideal or feminine tendency, which, when observed and perceived, reacts on the emotional mood of the observer.”[139]

To this time also belongs the development of the conventional in the amatory relations of the sexes, which came to be governed by definite rules; since that time, for example, it has been regarded as improper and scandalous for an unmarried woman to remain for any considerable time alone with a man, a view which has persisted to the present day. The social intercourse of the sexes was based upon “gallantry” or “courtesy,” upon a refined behaviour towards “ladies,” regulated by the laws of beauty, propriety, and social tact. In the sequel there developed out of this that exaggerated modern gallantry, characterized by little real delicacy of feeling, because it exhibits an undertone of contempt which makes woman feel only too clearly that she is the representative of a “weaker,” inferior sex, and is in no way the possessor of any proper individual, personal value. Intelligent, eminent women have always protested against this modern gallantry. Mantegazza, in his “Physiology of Woman,” p. 442 (Jena, 1893), ably describes the hypocrisy underlying this evil form of gallantry.

The first intimation of modern individual love is to be found in Shakespeare, to whom love was in general, indeed, only a “superhuman” passion, something lying beyond good and evil, which seized hold of man against his will; but none the less he embodies in his work the romantic ideal life of his time in feminine characters possessing the fullest individuality—as, for example,[165] Ophelia, Miranda, Juliet, Desdemona, Virginia, Imogen, and Cordelia, whilst in Cleopatra he has described the daimonic-bacchantic traits of the love of woman. In Juliet, who sees in “true love acted simple modesty,” we observe the passionate emotion of the primordial natural impulse, and the first awakening of woman as a personality.

False gallantry, in association with conventional propriety, both of which were developed to the fullest degree at the Courts of Louis XIV. and Louis XV., subordinated love to rules, and was very well compatible with the most frivolous and epicurean sensual life. And this occurred at the expense of deeply-felt natural sentiment, the place of which was taken by mere flirtation and coquetry. Here, also, the contempt of woman clearly shows itself. Especially in regard to this period, the opinion has been maintained that the modern Frenchman has never suspected, understood, recognized the divine in woman’s nature. Still, the general truth of this assertion is belied by the amatory life of the celebrated heroines of the salons, such as Du Deffand, Lespinasse, Du Chatelet, Quinault, and above all of the celebrated Ninon de l’Enclos[140]; and the Abbé Prévost, in his immortal “Manon Lescaut,” proved that even in that period the indestructible belief in woman persisted, at least as an ideal.

It was, in fact, in France that the higher individual love underwent a new spiritual enrichment; Rousseau’s “Julie” appeared on the horizon of Love’s heaven. And in the background was disclosed the German “Werther,” a book strangely influenced by that of Rousseau. The nature-sense on the one hand, sentimentality on the other, are the new elements in the love of the period of Héloïse and Werther.

In Rousseau’s “New Héloïse,” passionate love and a complete self-surrender were described without the artificiality, and also without the coquetry and wantonness, of which the literature of the time was full. It was love in a grander style than people were then accustomed to see. For this reason, the book constituted a turning-point in literature. That love is an earnest thing, that it can become “la grande affaire de notre vie,” has perhaps never been more deeply and thoroughly depicted than in the character of “Julie.” In maintaining the essential purity of the love relationship, when the voice of Nature is really expressed therein, Rousseau speaks of the principal theme of his own life.


“Is not true love,” asks Julie, “the chastest of all bonds?... Is not love in itself the purest as well as the most magnificent impulse of our nature? Does it not despise low and crawling souls, in order to inspire only grand and strong souls? And does it not ennoble all feeling, does it not double our being and elevate us above ourselves? In contrast to social inequalities, the love relationship points to a higher law, before which all are equal.”[141]

The love of Rousseau is, in fact, not social; it is not a product of civilization, but it is a creation of nature; it is one with nature. The nature-sense and the love-sense are here most intimately associated. And he observes both, nature and love, with feeling. The sensibilité de l’âme finds in nature and in love objects of the most glorious delight, of the sweetest pain, of the most burning tears.

“Out of the perceptions of mingled pain and ecstasy which the vision of nature, of beauty, or of a fine action, induced in him, he wove the web of sensibility with which he enveloped the creatures of his imagination. Incessantly thrust back into himself, his heart bleeding from wounded friendship or from unrequited love, self-tormentingly dissecting his own wishes and illusions, his own faculties and impossibilities, he became one of the first heralds of the Weltschmerz, of the woes of Werther and René, to which Byron and Heine had only to add self-mockery.”[142]

The sentimentality of the eighteenth century took its rise in England, as I have explained at some length in my pseudonymous work, “The Sexual Life in England,” vol. ii., pp. 95-107 (Berlin, 1903). In that country it found its most characteristic expression in the romances of Richardson and Sterne, and in landscape-gardening; but it was by Rousseau and Goethe that for the first time it was really brought into contact with the realities of life.

For the history of Julie, the history of Werther—this was the history of all happily or unhappily loving youths and maidens of that day; each maiden had her Saint Preux, each youth his Lotte.

The profound influence exercised by Rousseau, especially on women, has been described by H. Buffenoir in a very careful study.[143] The significance which “Werther” had for the emotional life of the time has been explained with the most cultivated understanding by Erich Schmidt in a well-known monograph.[144]

He shows that the nature-sense and sentimentality are much more deeply felt in Goethe’s “Werther” than in Rousseau’s[167] “Nouvelle Héloïse.” Goethe himself says in “Wahrheit und Dichtung,” speaking of this poetical, rational, intimate, and loving absorption into nature:

“I endeavoured to separate myself inwardly from everything foreign to me, to regard the outward world lovingly, and to allow all beings, from the human onwards, to influence me, each in its kind, as deeply as was possible. Thus arose a wonderful alliance with the individual objects of nature, and an inward harmony, a harmony with the whole; so that every change, whether of places and of regions, or of days and seasons, or of any possible kind, moved me to my inmost soul. The painter’s view became associated with that of the poet; the beautiful country landscape through which the friendly river was wandering, increased my inclination to solitude, and favoured my quiet attitude of contemplation extending itself in every direction.”

Werther’s feeling for nature is intimately related to his love passion. The two harmonize, and each exercises a reciprocal influence upon the other. Nature is to Werther a second beloved. The youth of nature, the spring of nature, are also the youth and the spring of his love.

In the peculiar association of love with the nature-sense and sentimentality, which is so characteristic of the time of Julie and Werther, are to be found the first beginnings of the “Weltschmerz,” with its erotically significant “ecstasy of sorrow.” The following words in Goethe’s “Stella” appear to me to bind Weltschmerz and eroticism in an extremely distinct relationship. Stella says of men:

“They make us at once happy and miserable! They fill our heart with feelings of bliss! What new, unknown feelings and hopes fill our souls, when their stormful passion invades our nerves! How often has everything in me trembled and throbbed, when, in uncontrollable tears, he has washed away the sorrows of a world on my breast! I begged him, for God’s sake, to spare himself!—to spare me!—in vain!—into my inmost marrow he fanned the flames which were devouring himself. And thus the girl, from head to foot, became all heart, all sentiment.”

Here we find clearly described the erotic element in mental pain; and we observe the remarkable increase of passion by means of sorrow, tears, and a profound perception of the evil of the world. This Weltschmerz fans the flames of eroticism, increases love, and ultimately gives rise to a peculiar sense of power; it is, indeed, most frequently in the first bloom of love, in the years of puberty, that its relations with sexuality are most distinctly manifested. The celebrated alienist Mendel has described this almost physiological Weltschmerz of the age of puberty as “hypo-melancholia.” An indefinite, passionate[168] longing, which seeks relief in tears, a by no means negligible inclination to suicide—of which Werther is the classical exemplar—characterizes this condition, which is connected with the complete revolutionizing of the spiritual and emotional life by means of the sexual. The Weltschmerz of youth is a latent sexual sense of power.

How the nature-sense and love combine to constitute a perception of Weltschmerz has been most beautifully expressed by Byron and Heine in their poetry. With quite exceptional clearness, Heine also describes it in a letter to Friedrich Merckel (written at Nordeney on August 7, 1826), in which he described a nightly recurring scene with a beautiful woman on the seashore:

“The sea no longer appeared so romantic as before—and yet on its strand I had lived through the sweetest and most mystically dear experience of my life which could ever inspire a poet. The moon seemed to wish to show me that in this world happiness yet remained for me. We did not speak—it was only a long, profound glance, the moonlight supplied the music—as we walked to and fro, I took her hand in mine, I felt the secret pressure—my soul trembled and glowed—afterwards I wept.”

How different were these tears from the floods of tears in Miller’s “Siegwart,” and in other similar productions of the Werther epoch, which, with their weakly sentimentality, their emotionally happy “sensibility,” had nothing whatever in common with the much more natural Weltschmerz of Goethe and Heine—more natural because based on a physiological foundation.

In modern love also, the Weltschmerz continues to live. The only difference is that by means of the pessimistic philosophy it has to some extent obtained a logical foundation. And Nietzsche has shown us the force which lies hidden in this ecstasy of sorrow. Precisely on account of the pains of the world, he affirms joyfully life and love. Anyone who wishes to write the history of Weltschmerz, from a psychological point of view so profoundly interesting, must not overlook Nietzsche as a most important turning-point in that history.

The passion inspired by genius, the excess of vital energy in the “Sturm und Drang” epoch of German literature, was admirably consistent with that genuine, primitive Weltschmerz. Rousseau’s more indeterminate sensibility had, on the other hand, a more powerful influence upon the mode of feeling of romanticism, and this movement appears more closely related to him than to Goethe.

Romantic love combines the elements of feeling of the previous[169] epochs in an increased subjectivism. Not nature alone, but history also, folk-tales, legends, poetry, and the wonderful secrets of the primeval age—all these are reflected in romantic love, and awaken singular dreams and emotions. The “mondbeglänzte Zaubernacht” (“moon-illumined magic night”) is much more than a mere feeling of nature; it is the recognition of a connexion with the past and with its secret, sweet, half-forgotten stories. Fonqué’s “Undine” is the classical type of all this. Romantic love delights in this wonder-mood of the heart; reality becomes, as it were, a dream. The obscure, the problematical—these attract the romanticist. It is for this reason that he loves the night and the night-mood of nature, rather than the clear daylight. Moonshine reverie is a characteristic trait of romantic love. Everything flows away into the indeterminate, the cloudy, the boundless. This love knows no limitation or narrowing, no fetters. It is the sworn enemy of the conventional, narrow-hearted, philistine morality, and of all limitations of personality. In Friedrich Schlegel’s “Lucinde” this most celebrated monument of romantic love, the campaign against philistinism, as the greatest enemy of a free, noble amatory life, is most energetically carried on. It is utterly untrue to describe “Lucinde” as a romance in which there is a cult of suggestive nudity—as the poetry of the flesh. It certainly preaches the free natural conception and perception of the nude and the sexual, and is a glorious protest against the artificial and hypocritical separation of body and soul in love; but, on the other side, it unlocks in love the entire kingdom of the emotional and spiritual life, and discloses its significance for the individual man as a free personality.

More than Rousseau’s “Julie” and Goethe’s “Werther” is Friedrich Schlegel’s “Lucinde” the apotheosis of individual love. Romantic love is the mirror of personality; it is changeable, filled with the highest spiritual content, and, above all, like personality, is capable of development. In a masterly manner Schlegel has represented the intimate connexion between true love and all vital energy. The relations of love to genius have never before been so admirably described.

“Here,” says Karl Gutzkow, “there is no question of artificiality; we have to do rather with the yearning of a youth who loves, who sees the one and only beloved in many different forms, in the metamorphoses of his own ego, which yearns to reconcile egoism and love.”

Schleiermacher, in his “Confidential Letters regarding Lucinde,” Gutzkow in his preface to the new edition of this[170] work, and recently H. Meyer-Benfey,[145] have supplied us with conclusions regarding the true significance of “Lucinde,” conclusions in harmony with our own view.

We must allude here to a new element in romantic love, which since that time has played an important part in modern eroticism. It is l’art pour l’art of love, the revelling in pure moods and emotions as the means of enjoyment. The emotional frequently grows luxuriantly and chokes the natural feeling of love. Jean Paul, for example,

“regards eroticism purely as a method of cultivation. Human beings are not to be actually loved, but are to be used to strike sparks from, by which one’s own inward life may be illuminated.... He is the exemplar of that artist-love which, vampire-like, drinks the souls of those who become its prey. This love sees in the hearts offered to it only the stuff for pictures; and in their warm blood it finds only an intoxicating, stimulating drink.”[146]

This unqualified search for personal emotional experiences in love, without regard to the love-partner, is especially represented in Jean Paul’s “Titan.”

Wackenroder, in his “Phantasien über die Kunst” (“Imaginative Studies concerning Art”), has already warned us of the dangers of this purely erotic-emotional love. Karl Joel has recently described very vividly how the romanticists ultimately reduced all vital relationships to the emotions of love.[147] This attempt must lead finally to mysticism, the poetical representative of which is Novalis.

It is very interesting to find that all the diverse elements of romantic love may also be detected in the latter-day renascence of romanticism. In his admirable book on “Nietzsche and Romanticism,” Karl Joel has clearly shown the existence of this romantic element in modern love, and, above all, has insisted upon the intimate connexion which the philosophy of Nietzsche has with the joy in battle and the vital energy of the romanticists. Both are apostles of the Dionysiac, not of the Apollinian.[148]

This also is the difference by which “romantic” love is distinguished from “classical” love—a difference and a distinction[171] which I find indicated for the first time in Theodor Mundt’s romance “Madelon oder die Romantiker in Paris” (Leipzig, 1832).

The relevant passage (pp. 9-12) runs as follows:

“I am therefore of opinion that there can be a romantic and a classical poetry; there are also romantic and classical love; and it is only by means of this twofold nature that it is possible to discover and understand this contrast in poetry....

“This wild and yet so sweet disturbance of the heart, in which love subsists, this rejoicing and revelry of the aroused imagination which, originated by the charm of the beloved, lead to an intoxication with all the sensual dreams of a delightful, ethereal happiness; and as in the flower-bud in which a burning ray of sunshine has suddenly awakened the impulse to bloom, give rise to the desire and longing of sensual impulsion—all these tears and sighs of the lovers, pains and joys, this love-happiness and love-misery at the same time, this star-flaming night-side of passion, to which after a vagrant drunken frenzy, an ice-cold, unwelcome morning follows—all this, my friend, is romantic love....

“And shall I now describe also classical love?... Believe me, there are faces which at the very first glance seem to us so trustworthy and so near akin, they draw us to them, as if we had spent years with them in sympathy, asking for love and receiving love. By the sight of this girl’s face there was induced in me so suddenly a sense of peace, such as never before in my life had I experienced; and this gentle feeling which drew me towards her, I may call true love and true happiness. In her loving eyes there glowed no seductive fire, no repellent pride like that of our romantic Madelon; in the simple beautiful German girl, all is clear and true; out of her gentle features speaks her gentle soul; and all for which I have longed in passionate, aberrant hours of my life—a definite, unalloyed happiness in existence—seemed to me, as I saw her for the very first time, to shine on me out of her blue true eyes. My friend, is not that classical love?”

It is the Apollinian-Platonic element of modern love which Theodor Mundt here describes as “classical” love, and certainly he wrongly places it before romantic love, which is the expression of modern subjectivism and individualism. Such classical love found in Goethe’s “Tasso” its most complete representation. Here love was conceived as “possession, which should give peace”; the beloved being influences after the manner of an already understood picture. As Kuno Fischer remarks, in the world of Goethe’s “Tasso” the Platonic Eros is the fashion. Love is here the pure, quiet contemplation of beauty in and with the beloved.

Gretchen and Helena in “Faust” embody very clearly the contrast between romantic and classical love. We find these contrasts united in Wilhelm Heinse’s celebrated “Ardinghello,” a romance which even to us at the present day seems so modern.[172] In this work we find the Dionysiac-Faustian impulse of the loving individual, and the Apollinian-artistic contemplation of the loved one, described with equal mastery.

In regard to love, Heinse was the prototype of “Young Germany.” And we are young Germany.

For all the problems of amatory life which to-day occupy our minds have already been made topics of public discussion by the authors of young Germany. In young German love-philosophy, the “Knights of the Spirit” as well as the “Knights of the Flesh,” come to their full rights. Only the ignorant can regard the so-called “emancipation of the flesh,” the apotheosis of lascivious sensuality, as the sole characteristic of the efforts and battles of our own time. No, he who wishes to understand modern love, in all its spiritual manifestations and relationship, let him read the writings of young Germany, especially the works of Laube, Gutzkow, Mundt; and also those of Heine, who has a more intimate relationship to young Germany than he has to romanticism.

More especially Gutzkow,[149] who appears to me the greatest and most comprehensive spirit of the young German literature—indeed, of the more recent German literature in general—overlooks no single riddle and problem of modern eroticism. Of all the writers of the nineteenth century, he has the profoundest knowledge of women. How stimulating are his girl characters; how true, notwithstanding their manifoldness! Wally, riding proudly upon a white palfrey, outwardly an image of beauty, but, like so many modern emancipated women, inwardly tormented by the demon of doubt; Seraphine the dreamer, uncertain about herself and her love, of whom the poet himself later admitted that her character was based on reality; Idaline,[150] full of majesty, the ideal “bride of the waves,” a typical figure of conventional high life, who yet in sudden revolution against this conventionalism gives her whole being to a chance love, a love of the moment,[151][173] which alienates her from her betrothed and later husband, and drives her to death; then, again, all the brilliant feminine characters in the great romances, “Die Ritter vom Geiste,” Melanie, Helene, Selma, Pauline, Olga—all are characters bearing the stamp of reality in their spiritual and emotional life, so various and yet so true, and, above all, in their manifold, differentiated relationships to men, genuinely modern women.

Gutzkow was also the first to bring upon the stage the modern woman and the problems of modern love, long before the French dramatists and before Ibsen.

As Karl Frenzel pointed out as early as 1864, Gutzkow made the stage the battlefield of modern ideas. The inward contrasts of love, the psychological problem of the heart—he first ventured to deal with these in the dramatic form.

“We all of us felt the wounds which ‘the world’ inflicted on Werner; we all wandered from the quiet violet, Agathe, to the brilliant rose, Sidonie; as in Ottfried, so in ourselves, the love of the heart battled with the love of the spirit. Who would admit himself to be so miserably poor as never to have revelled, lived, and suffered, in the play of these feelings? What wife has not, at least in imagination, hesitated for a moment, like Ella Rose, between the lover and the husband? Such figures as these bear in themselves the essence of truth, and do not lose their lofty value because, perhaps, their garments are not draped with sufficient harmony. They touch us, because we recognize in them our own flesh and blood; and they fulfil, in so far as the form of the society drama allows, Shakespeare’s canon of dramatic art—they hold the mirror up to nature.”

In his tragedies, “Werner,” “Ottfried,” “Ella Rose,” Gutzkow presents in a masterly manner the inner life of the time; we see in them the pulsing wing-beats of the souls, which in pain, as it must be in these days, soar upwards in the effort to attain beauty and freedom.[152]

Of all the young German authors, Gutzkow has best grasped the problem of problems in love—the problem of personality. In the painful question asked of Helene d’Azimont, in “Die Ritter vom Geiste”—

“Is it, then, thy innermost need,
To be everything to others, nothing to thyself?
Nothing to woman’s highest glory, love,
Nothing, Helene, to the pang of renunciation?”


—this inalienable right to the safeguarding and development of the individual personality, notwithstanding all the self-sacrifice of passionate love, is most forcibly maintained. This is, indeed, the true nucleus of all higher individual love between man and woman.

Gutzkow has been accused, by those who had in mind only the purely symbolic nudity scene in “Wally,” of preaching the “emancipation of the flesh”; the same accusation has been levelled against other young German authors, such as Lambe (in “Jungen Europa”), Theodor Mundt (in the “Madonna”), Wienbarg (in the “Aesthetische Feldzüge”), Heine (in the “Neue Gedichte”). The charge is unjust. It is only the poetry of the flesh which they wish to bring to its rights. Notwithstanding his enthusiastic hymn of praise to Casanova, Theodor Mundt declares in his “Madonna” that the separation of flesh and spirit is the “inexpiable suicide of the human consciousness.”

Much more important, the true characteristic of all the authors of young Germany, appear to me the parts which self-analysis and reflection here for the first time play in love, visible beneath the influence of the offshoots of French romanticism, in which, however, we also encounter the same phenomenon, as in George Sand’s “Lelia,” in Alfred de Musset’s “Confession d’un Enfant du Siècle,” in Balzac’s “Femme de Trente Ans”—in which last romance we find the following passage:

“Love assumes the colouring of every century. Now, in the year 1822, it is doctrinaire. Instead of, as formerly, proving it by deeds, it is argued, it is discussed, it is brought upon the tribune in a speech.”

Just as in the middle ages the idea of “sin” was the disturbing principle of love, so for the modern civilized man, since the days of young Germany, this cold self-reflection, this critical analysis of one’s peculiar passionate perceptions and feelings, is the modern disturbing principle. This is the worm which gnaws unceasingly at the root of our love, and destroys its most beautiful blossoms. Gutzkow’s “Wally the Doubter” and “Seraphine” are the classical literary documents for this destructive ascendancy of pure thought in love. Very noteworthy is it that in both these romances it is woman who destroys life and love by reflection, whilst from earliest days this danger has always lain in the path of man. It is the fate of the modern woman, of individual personalities, which is here depicted; this fate makes its appearance from the moment when woman comes[175] to take a share in the spiritual life of man. The cold dialectic of Seraphine, who, as Gutzkow makes one of her lovers say, reverses the natural order of man and woman, is a necessary product of the love of woman ripening in the direction of a free personality—happily, however, it is only a transient phenomenon. The fully developed personality will return to the primitiveness of feeling, and will no longer endure within herself any kind of division or laceration. The corresponding phenomena in man have been described by Kierkegaard and Grillparzer in their diaries, which are classical documents of “reflection-love.”

The love of the present day contains within itself, and nourishes itself upon, all the above-described spiritual elements of the past. More especially at the present day is the question of the so-called free love or free marriage, disregardant of the legally binding forms of civil and ecclesiastical marriage, representative of all the heartfelt needs of highly civilized mankind, hitherto held back, oppressed, and fettered by the materialism of the time, and still more by its conventionalism still active beneath its covering of outlived forms. The problem of free love was first formulated in “Lucinde,” but found in the young German literature, especially in the writings of Laube, Mundt, and Dingelstedt, its theoretical foundation; and in the Bohemian life of the Second Empire free love obtained its practical realization, although the purely idyllic character of this Bohemian life, and its limitation to the circle of the dolce far niente students and artists, in truth makes it differ widely from the most intensely personal free love, taking its part fully in the struggle for life, as it presents itself in the ideal form to modern humanity.

The Second French Empire, whose significance for the spiritual tendencies of our time was a very great one, allowed two elements of love, to which we have earlier alluded, to appear with marked predominance—elements still influential at the present day: the satanic-diabolic element of eroticism, which found its most incisive expression in the works of Barbey d’Aurevilly (strongly influenced by the writings of de Sade), of Baudelaire, and more particularly of the great Félicien Rops; and the purely artistic element, as it appears in the works of the authors just mentioned, but more especially in the writings of Théophile Gautier. This “Young France” (to use the name of a novel of Gautier’s) has influenced the amatory life and the amatory theory of the present day almost as strongly as young Germany.

At the same time, in the sixties of the nineteenth century Schopenhauer’s philosophy was dominant in Germany, and his[176] metaphysic of love, which considered the individual not at all, but the species as all in all—this pessimistic conception of all love found its poetic expression in Edward Grisebach’s “New Tanhäuser,” published in 1869. Here, also, it would be a grave error to condemn these erotic poems of the day, on account of their glowing sensuality, as mere glorifications of carnal lust. The poet himself was the new Tanhäuser. He wished, as he often told me, to find expression in these poems for the life-denying as well as for the life-affirming forces. He sang the pleasure and the pain, the hopes and the disappointments of modern love. For him love is indeed the rose with the thorns. For this reason the motto of the poem is a saying of Meister Eckart: “The voluptuousness of the creature is intermingled with bitterness;” and this is the theme of the poets, though expressed in numerous variations: “There is no pleasure without regret.”

But for this reason Grisebach—and in this respect he resembles Nietzsche—wished none the less joyfully to affirm this life, filled as it is with pain, and in all its activity bringing with it regrets. In this sense he is no exclusive pessimist, but an apostle of activity, like the men of young Germany, in whose footsteps, and especially in those of Heine, he follows. The beautiful saying of Laube, in his “Liebesbriefen” (Leipzig, 1835, p. 29), “He who has never been shaken to the depths by any profound sorrow is also ignorant of all deep rejoicing, he knows no single verse of that enthusiasm which woos the denied heaven, he experiences no sort of religion, he is capable of no sacrifice, of no greatness,” is suited also to the “new Tanhäuser,” which so powerfully influenced German youth during the seventies and eighties of the nineteenth century.

He who wishes to understand how the various love-problems are represented in the literature of the present, strongly influenced as it is by the problem-poems of Ibsen, by Zola’s naturalism, and by the French symbolism[153] dependent on him, will find it described later in a special chapter devoted to love in the literature of to-day.

In the following chapter we have to consider one additional influence which is especially apparent in the love and eroticism of the present day, and possesses great importance for the individualization of love. This is the artistic element in modern love.

[134] H. T. Finck, “Romantic Love and Personal Beauty.”

[135] Cf. G. Hirth, “Ways to Freedom,” pp. 468-472 (Munich, 1903).

[136] G. Saint-Yves (“La Littérature Amoureuse,” Paris, 1887, p. 25) also sees in the æsthetic contemplation of the beloved person the fundamental root of individual love. It has gradually developed out of the ordinary æsthetic contemplation of nature. An interesting proof of this connexion is the Song of Solomon, in which the æsthetic stimuli of the beloved one are compared with every possible animate and inanimate natural object.

[137] Cf. regarding the numerous variations of this ancient couplet, the interesting account given by Arthur Kopp, “Old Proverbs and Popular Rhymes for Loving Hearts,” published in the Zeitschrift des Vereins für Volkskunde, Heft i., pp. 8, 9 (Berlin, 1902).

[138] Minne is an old German word (now obsolete) for love, “the love of fair women.” The minnesinger were love-singers who sang their own compositions to the accompaniment of the music of harp or viol—in fact, they were lyric poets. The most flourishing years of this art were from about 1170 to 1250; thus the minnesinger were contemporary with and closely akin to the Provençal troubadours. But the German development was essentially native, and the minnesinger’s treatment of love was characterized by a more ideal note than was usually attained by the troubadours. A good, though brief, account (with a list of authorities) is given of the minnesinger in “Chambers’s Encyclopædia.”—Translator.

[139] Jacob Falke, “The Society of Knighthood in the Epoch of the Cult of Women,” p. 49.

[140] In her letters (“Letters of Ninon de l’Enclos,” with ten etchings by Karl Walser, Berlin, 1906), the deep spiritual relationships of love found a classical representation.

[141] Cf. Harald Höffding, “Rousseau and his Philosophy,” pp. 86, 89 (Stuttgart, 1897).

[142] Emil Du Bois-Reymond, “Frederick II. and Jean Jacques Rousseau.”

[143] H. Buffenoir, “Jean Jacques Rousseau and Women” (Paris, 1891).

[144] Erich Schmidt, “Richardson, Rousseau, and Goethe” (Jena, 1875).

[145] H. Meyer-Benfey, “Lucinde,” published in Mutterschutz—Zeitschrift zur Reform der sexuellen Ethik, 1906, No. 5, pp. 173-192. Edited by Dr. Helene Stöcker.

[146] Felix Poppenberg, “Jean Paul Friedrich Richter’s Liebe und Ehestand,” in “Bibelots,” p. 214 (Leipzig, 1904).

[147] Carl Joel, “Nietzsche und die Romantik,” pp. 13-16 (Jena and Leipzig, 1905).

[148] Cf. also Helene Stöcker, “Nietzsche und die Romantik,” in Kölnische Zeitung, No. 1127, October 29, 1905.

[149] At the present time but few of my living contemporaries share this opinion of Gutzkow, which I myself base upon the careful reading of all his works. I may quote, however, with satisfaction the prophecy of the deceased dramatist Theodor Wehl. He writes of Gutzkow: “As a literary phenomenon he will grow with time. After long, long years, out of the literature of our time two characteristic heads will emerge—one laughing, and one glancing round him earnestly and sorrowfully: the head of Heinrich Heine, and the head of Karl Gutzkow” (F. Wehl, “Zeit und Menschen,” “Tagebuch Aufzeichnungen aus den Jahren von 1863 bis 1884,” vol. i., p. 297 (Altona, 1889)).

[150] Karl Gutzkow, “Reminiscences of my Life,” p. 18 (Berlin, 1875).

[151] “The time of love is not age, it is not youth: the time of love is the moment,” says Beate, one of Gutzkow’s characters, at the end of the tragedy “Ein Weisser Blatt.”

[152] K. Frenzel, “Karl Gutzkow,” published in “Büsten und Bilder,” pp. 177 and 178 (Hanover, 1864).

[153] Heinrich Stümcke refers to this connexion between naturalism and symbolism in a very thoughtful essay (“Zwischen den Garben,” p. 156; Leipzig, 1899).



I am of opinion that love bears within itself, more than any other moral relationship, the sense of the beautiful, and when anywhere a heavy heart begins to move its wings and to strive towards the ideal, it is in the time when it loves. Without doubt an æsthetic perception always accompanies the eye of the lover, and in a greater degree than it ever accompanies the dispassionate eye.”—Kuno Fischer.



Ennoblement and reform of the amatory life as a demand of our time — The battle with the elemental forces of the sexual impulse and of asceticism — The artistic element in modern love — Erotic rhythmotropism — Sexuality and æsthetics — The awakening of æsthetic sensibility at the time of puberty — Importance of sensuality to life and to the poietic impulse — The example of Annette von Droste-Hülshoff — Sensuality of great poets and artists — Views of recent æsthetics regarding the relations between sexual love and artistic perception — Rôle of the erotic need for illusion in social life — Emerson, Konrad Lange, and William Scherer, on the æsthetic eroticism of social life — The liberating and vitalizing elements therein — Significance of modern individual beauty — Misnamed “nervous” beauty — The English “Pre-Raphaelites” and the ideal of beauty — Masculine beauty — Why women love ugly men — Caroline Schlegel, Goethe, Eduard von Hartmann, and Swedenborg, on this subject — The attractive force of the poietic and the spiritual in man.



At the present day, notwithstanding all the adverse opinions and jeremiads of infatuated apostles of morality, the epoch of our amatory life through which we are passing is by no means one of decadence. On the contrary, we are now actually engaged in its re-constitution, reform, and ennoblement. All the tendencies of the time proceed towards such a radical perfectionment of love, towards its free, individual configuration, not by the unchaining of sensuality, but by its idealization; and when we have once attained a natural view of sensuality, it loses all its terrors. We fight at first against the elemental force of the wild impulse, and against the elemental force of life-denying asceticism. In this struggle the artistic element in modern love plays a notable part. By this we do not signify “sugary” æstheticism, nor yet the completely non-sensual Platonic Eros, but that æsthetic tendency in human love, bringing about an intimate association of the bodily and spiritual, which W. Bölsche denotes by the term “rhythmotropism.” It is “an impulsive, forced reaction of the higher animal brain to rhythmical beauty,” to which art also owes its origin. This æsthetic natural impulse is of great importance to love, as Darwin recognized many years ago. It was he who expressed the great thought that beauty is love become perceptible.

The sexual is in no way hostile to æsthetic contemplation, as the unhappy Weininger quite erroneously maintained in the confused chapter “Erotism and Æsthetics” of his book. He curtly denies that sexuality has any æsthetic value whatever, yet Plato himself deduced from the physical Eros the highest æsthetic contemplation of a spiritual nature. In the world of the senses he discovered the reflection of the Divine.

The well-known fact that with the awakening of the sexual life, spiritual creative activity also awakens, and an artistic tendency becomes kinetic, that at the time of puberty every youth is a poet, confirms the suggested existence of this intimate relationship between sexual and æsthetic perception.

“There appears to me to be no doubt,” says J. Volkelt in his “Æsthetics” (vol. i., p. 523; Munich, 1905), “that in the youth or the maiden the awakening of sexuality induces an individualization and invigoration of artistic perception. Hand in hand with the first love of youth, somewhere about the sixteenth or seventeenth year, the[180] sense of grace and beauty in the landscape, the appreciation of the charm of poetry, painting, and music, are strengthened and refined to such a degree, that in comparison with what is now felt, all earlier experiences and enjoyments seem to be as nothing.”

Sensuality first gives life colour, brings out the nuances and the finer tones of feeling, without which life would be tinted a uniform grey, would be a monotonous waste, and lacking which the joy of existence and creative activity would be annihilated, or, at least, would be reduced to a minimum. Even the most ideal love must be nourished upon sensuality, if it is to remain poietic and full of vitality. Of this Annette von Droste-Hülshoff is an interesting example—a woman and poet in whom in other respects sexual influences can have played only a very modest part. But she lost on the instant all poetic capacity, all artistic creative power, when her lover, Lewin Schücking, became engaged to Louise von Gall. The mere idea of the possibility of physical possession was to her a spur to poetic activity without its being necessary for this possibility to be translated into reality. But when the possibility was for ever removed, her muse at once became dumb.

An absolutely convincing proof of the intimate connexion between sexuality and æsthetics is the fact that great artists and poets have, in the majority of cases, possessed thoroughly sensual natures. The previously described relationship between the sexual impulse and the poietic impulse, comprised in the “function impulse” of Santlus, is especially manifest in the case of artists. In these artistic natures the perceptive æsthetic power is associated with an ardent sensuality, which derives its most powerful impulse directly from the beautiful. We agree with von Krafft-Ebing when he denies the possibility of genius, art, and poetry except upon a sexual foundation. We do not believe in a so-called purely æsthetic contemplation and perception without any sexual admixture. Even Volkelt, who is inclined to sever art and the sexual impulse each from the other, is unable to deny the genetic connexion between the two. Oskar Bie makes the interesting observation that “in æsthetic relationships the cord of the will does not become thinner to the breaking point, but stronger, until it becomes blind passion” (Neue Deutsche Rundschau, 1894, p. 479). Nietzsche and Guyau have also declared themselves opposed to Schopenhauer’s theory regarding the absence of a will-element in æsthetic perception. Nietzsche speaks even of an “æsthetic of the sexual impulse.” Guyau bases his æsthetic upon the love of life and upon sexual[181] love (“Les Problèmes de l’Esthétique Contemporaine,” Paris, 1897). Magnus Hirschfeld alludes in his “Wesen der Liebe” (“The Nature of Love”), p. 48, to a work by G. Santayana entitled “The Sense of Beauty,” in which the theory is propounded that “for human beings the whole of nature is an object of sexual perception, and it is chiefly in this way that the beauty of nature is to be explained.” Finally, Gustav Naumann (“Sex and Art: Prolegomena to Physiological Æsthetics,” Leipzig, 1899) says most convincingly that the sexual is the root of all art, of all æsthetics.

But whatever view may be held regarding the relationship between sexuality and art, it is a quite incontestable fact that our latter-day life is characterized by a need “for erotic illusion” (to use the expression of Konrad Lange), that the slighter degree of eroticism, as it exhibits itself in social intercourse between the two sexes, is principally of an artistic nature. I do not speak here merely of the dance as the artistic transfiguration of the erotic phenomena of courtship, or of dress and fashion and the whole milieu as æsthetic means of expression of the personality (as they were described in earlier pages of this work), but I refer above all to social intercourse as a whole, which to-day represents a free and facile æsthetic element, in which modern love receives its most manifold suggestions.

Emerson, in his essay on Love, has very beautifully described the importance to our civilized life of these slight, imponderable influences of an erotic-æsthetic nature; and Konrad Lange, in his “Wesen der Kunst” (vol. ii., p. 23; Berlin, 1901), refers the pleasure of social intercourse ultimately to the sexual impulse, even though therein sensuality is mitigated by illusion and is elevated to a purer sphere. Erotic enjoyment is modified into a “love-play,” sensuality is refined, spiritualized, dematerialized. It is precisely this æsthetic eroticism which at the present day becomes of increasing importance in the emotional life of civilized humanity, in the life of those engaged in the hard struggle for existence, to whom time and leisure are lacking for the “great” love-passion. For such as these, these gentler suggestions constitute the true charm of life, into the dreary monotony of which they bring light and colour.

In his excellent “Remarks on Goethe’s Stella,” Wilhelm Scherer has assigned its true value to this erotic æstheticism and æsthetic eroticism of society and social intercourse. He speaks of a charm of personal presence, which brings out all that is best in two human beings. He speaks of an enthusiastic and[182] complete surrender of the spirit and the emotions, in which the souls seem to enter into inseparable union—and yet only seem. For in reality this surrender occurs for weeks, for days, for minutes, for moments, and to various persons. These frequent, individual, purely spiritual contacts between the two sexes have completely the character of æsthetic joy; they give rise to a perception of freedom, of liberation from the power of the senses. Who does not know the happy freedom of spirit which is aroused by the glance of a beautiful girl, by the smile of a sympathetic face?

This æsthetic incitation by means of eroticism has, moreover, in it something vitalizing, something which spurs on the will, because its cause—eroticism itself—contains within it such an element of action and vital energy. The modern love ideals of the sexes have a peculiar impulsive force. Classical beauty taken by itself, and without the individual, personal characteristic element, is valueless. And woman herself also is no longer the patient Gretchen of yore. She must have temperament, character, passion—she must be a personality.

More than by the beautiful are we allured by the characteristic, by the developed personality, by the passionate, the subjective in woman—by that which, in pursuance of a false connotation, is often now termed “nervous” beauty. The pale Josepha of the days of Heine’s boyhood is an example of this type.

In her “Buch der Frauen” (“Book of Women”) (Paris and Leipzig, 1895), Laura Marholm has described in the figures of Marie Bashkirtzeff, Anna Charlotte Loeffler, Eleonore Duse, George Egerton, Amalie Skram, and Sonja Kowalewska, well-marked and characteristic types of modern woman as a personality.

This attraction to the characteristic, to the personal, in the aspect of woman conflicts to some extent with the preference arising under the influence of the English “Pre-Raphaelites,” of Burne-Jones and Rossetti, for straight lines, for slender, ethereal, unduly spiritual, supersensual forms, which no longer express the free personality of the mature, complete woman, but approximate rather to the infantile, asexual habitus. In this case, however, we have to do with a mere transient fashion, which cannot countervail the above characterized general tendency towards the personal.

This personal, individual has in man even greater importance than actual beauty. It is a distinctive fact that, throughout the history of civilization, men have always had a clearer understanding[183] of “masculine beauty” than women. Women have preferred power, intelligence, energy of will, and marked individuality. Caroline Schlegel, in a letter to Luise Gotter, writes of Mirabeau: “Hideous he may have been—he says so himself frequently in his letters—but Sophie loved him, for what women love in men is certainly not beauty” (“Letters of Caroline Schlegel,” vol. i., p. 93; edited by G. Waitz, Leipzig, 1871). This conception also elucidates the words in the second part of Goethe’s “Faust”:

“Women, accustomed to man’s love,
Fastidious are they not,
But cognoscenti;
And equally with golden-haired swains
Shall we see black-bristly fauns,
As opportunity may serve,
Over their rounded limbs
Attain rights of possession.”

It explains, too, the opinion of Eduard von Hartmann (“Philosophie des Unbewussten”—“Philosophy of the Unconscious,” p. 205; Berlin, 1874), that the most powerful passions are not aroused by the most beautiful, but, on the contrary, by the ugliest, individuals. The influence of powerfully developed individuality is, in fact, notably greater than that of physical beauty. The mystic Swedenborg long ago declared that in man woman desired truth, spiritual significance, not beauty alone.[154]

Herein we see a suggestion of the fact that true beauty is ultimately spiritual beauty, the expression of the force of will, of poietic activity, and of free personality.

[154] “It is by no means rare,” says Lermontoff in “Ein Held unserer Zeit” (“A Hero of our own Time”), “for women to love such men to distraction, and to be unwilling to exchange their hideousness for the beauty of an Endymion.”



The individualistic tendency, in the most decisive and characteristic form peculiar to our system of civilization, is most happily represented in the monogamic form of marriage; for here, on the woman’s side also, the development of individuality is gently and imperceptibly accomplished.”—Ludwig Stein.



The disputed question of sexual promiscuity — The fact of its existence — Westermarck’s defective criticism of the doctrine of promiscuity — Persistence of promiscuity until the present day — Ethnological proofs of this fact — The researches of Friedrich S. Krauss — Marriage an artificial product — Group-marriage — A form of limited promiscuity — Diffusion of group-marriage — Connexion of polygamy and group-marriage — The loan and the exchange of wives — Matriarchy and patriarchy — Progress from lower to higher social forms of sexual relationship — Transition from matriarchy to patriarchy — Formation of the patriarchal family — Marriage by capture and marriage by purchase — The bright side of patriarchy — Patriarchal forms of marriage — Polygamy and the patriarchal family — Levitical marriage — Monogamic marriage — Coexistence with monogamic marriage of a facultative polygamy — The conventional lie of marriage — Hegel’s definition of marriage — Criticism of this definition — Combination of the matriarchal and the patriarchal forms of the sexual relationship — Revival of the idea of matriarchy — Transformation of the ancient patriarchal form of marriage to freer forms — Introduction of civil marriage and divorce — Chief grounds for marriage reform — Duplex sexual morality — Its origin — Criticism thereof — Relationship between prostitution and the conventional coercive marriage — Necessity of, and justification for, freer forms of marriage — Lecky’s views on this subject — Roman concubinage, and the morganatic marriage — Significance of the sacramental character of marriage — Sanction by the State of a freer form of marriage (civil marriage, mixed marriage, divorce) — Psychology of love in the marriage problem — Inconstancy of human love — The eternity lie — Transient character of youthful love — Gutzkow, Kierkegaard, and Rétif de la Bretonne on this subject — The poetical character of the first stages of every love — The sexual need for variety as an anthropologico-biological phenomenon — This simply an explanatory principle, not an ideal — Rarity of the “only” love — The psychologist Stiedenroth on this subject — The possibility of love felt simultaneously for several persons — Explanation of this fact — Examples — Difficulty of complete harmony between man and wife — The ideal of the “one” love — Schleiermacher on the necessity for experiments in love — The examples of Wilhelmine Schröder-Devrient and Caroline Schelling — The need for love unaffected by disillusion — Dangers of habituation — The double rôle of habituation in marriage — Danger of intimate life in common — The common bedroom — Unfavourable conditions with regard to the relative ages of husband and wife — Increase in premature marriages — Connexion of this phenomenon with the premature awakening of sexuality — Too great a difference in age between husband and wife — Consequent physiological disharmony — Postponement of marriage in consequence of civilization — Diminution of marriages in various European countries — Economical factors — Mercenary marriage a vestige of earlier times — Disappearance[187] of the economic background to marriage with the further advance of civilization — Marriage and the price of corn — Part played by mercenary marriage in various classes — Importance of economic factors in marriage — Summary of the causes of the diminution of the “marriage impulse” — “Conjugal rights” — Justification and misuse of these — Boredom in married life — Marriage and disease — Opinion of an alienist on the calamities of marriage — Statements of a wife — Schiller and Byron upon love and marriage — A dictum of Socrates — Growing disinclination to the coercive character of the marriage bond — Great increase in the number of divorces in recent years — § 1568 of the Civil Code — Legal possibility of several successive divorces on the part of the same individual — A kind of civil sanction of free love — Dependence of the consciousness of duty upon freedom — Grounds for divorce — Marriage reform in France — Composition and programme of the French committee for marriage reform — The idea of sexual responsibility.

Appendix: Report of one hundred typical marriages, and twelve characteristic more detailed pictures of married life, after Gross-Hoffinger.



Since the subject first engaged my close attention, it has always seemed to me incomprehensible that a dispute should ever have arisen among anthropologists, ethnologists, and historians of civilization as to whether, among the primitive forms of the sexual relationship, marriage was the first, or whether it was preceded by a state of sexual promiscuity.

Whoever knows the nature of the sexual impulse, whoever has arrived at a clear understanding regarding the course of human evolution, and, finally, whoever has studied the conditions that even now prevail, alike among primitive peoples and among modern civilized races, in the matter of sexual relations, can have no doubt whatever that in the beginnings of human development a state of sexual promiscuity did actually prevail.[155]

“The ideal goal,” says Heinrich Schurtz, “towards which, more or less consciously, civilized humanity is undoubtedly advancing, involuntarily also becomes the standard by which the past is judged, and sentiment and mood take the place of a single-minded endeavour to arrive at truth.”

Thus it has happened that the ideal of permanent marriage between a single man and a single woman, which, in fact, as we shall proceed to explain, must persist as an ideal of civilization never to be lost, has been employed as a standard for the judgment of bygone conditions. This error is one into which Westermarck more especially has fallen in his “History of Human Marriage” (Jena, 1893)—a work of considerable value from its richness in ethnological detail. Hence Westermarck’s criticism of the[189] doctrine of promiscuity, based as it is upon false premises, “has ultimately remained barren,” as Heinrich Schurtz has proved.[156] Westermarck, for example, simply ignores the fact that within the group-marriage of sexual associates, within the totem, promiscuity undoubtedly existed.

Since, as we shall see, among the tribes and races living in social unions, sexual promiscuity can be proved to have existed side by side with, and commonly in advance of, the development of marriage, it is indubitable that primitive man, in whom the sexual impulse was still purely instinctive, had simply no knowledge of “marriage” in the modern sense of the term. Otherwise, indeed, the “mother-right” would not have been necessary, for matriarchy was the typical expression of the uncertainty of paternity which resulted from sexual promiscuity.

The great freedom of sexual intercourse in primitive times is denoted by various investigators by many different terms; sometimes it is called “promiscuity,” sometimes “free-love,” sometimes “group-marriage,” “polyandry,” “polygamy,” “religious and sexual prostitution,” etc. The classical works of Bachofen, Bastian, Giraud-Teulon, von Hellwald, Kohler, Friedrich S. Krauss, Lubbock, MacLennan, Morgan, Friedrich Müller, Post, H. Schurtz, Wilcken, and others, have proved beyond question the existence of this primordial hetairism.

When modern critics at length find it convenient to admit the overwhelming force of the enormous mass of evidence that has been collected concerning this subject, they still exhibit a great dislike to the conception and the term sexual “promiscuity,” whereby is understood the boundless and indiscriminate intermingling of the sexes. They admit the possibility of group-marriage, although this is merely a socially limited form of promiscuity; they admit even the existence of polyandry and polygamy, and of indiscriminate religious prostitution; but they refuse to believe in the existence of genuine promiscuity.

And yet, if they only chose to make use of their eyes, they could observe sexual promiscuity at the present day among the modern civilized nations. In certain strata and classes of the population, such an indiscriminate and unregulated sexual intercourse, in no way leading to the formation of enduring relationships, can be observed to-day. Ask a young man, even of the better classes, with how many women he has had connexion during[190] a single year—not one of these need have been a prostitute—and, if he speaks the truth, you will be astounded at the number of the “objects of lust”! This last expression is suitable enough, because in most cases there is no individual relationship between such casual partners. Ask certain girls also—maidservants, for example, or girls engaged in the manufacture of ready-made clothing—and you will obtain analogous information regarding the number of their annual lovers. Phillip Frey (“Der Kampf der Geschlechter”—“The Battle of the Sexes,” p. 51; Vienna, 1904) bases on similar grounds the assumption of a primitive sexual promiscuity; he refers especially to the condition of the seaports:

“Ports in which ocean-going vessels come to harbour are familiar with the sexual impulse in its most completely animal form, and devoid of every refinement and concealment. We find ourselves transported into the depths of an urgent primitiveness and savagery, which gives the lie to the advance in civilization, and this will enable us to form a clearer idea of the bestial indifference in sexual matters that must have obtained amongst the herds of primitive man. Intercourse between man and woman promoted by the lust of the moment, dependent solely upon reciprocal animal desire, the various male and female individuals of the human herd differing too little each from the other to make it worth while to strive for permanent rights of possession, the absence of any ownership of land amongst those wandering to and fro through the primeval forest, the common ownership of children by the herd or tribe—that such was the primitive, ape-like condition of the human race, one actually inferior to that of many other mammals, is a belief amply justified by the polygamous and polyandrous instincts of homo sapiens, recurring again and again in all the stages of civilization.”

Fortunately, ethnology furnishes us with incontrovertible proofs of genuine promiscuity.

Of the Nasomoni in Africa, Herodotus (iv. 172) reports:

“When a Nasomonian man takes his first wife, it is the custom that on the first night the bride should be visited by each of the guests in turn, and each one, as he leaves, gives her a present which he had brought with him to the house.”

Diodorus Siculus makes a similar report regarding the inhabitants of the Balearic Islands (v. 18). Have we not here an echo of primeval custom, of sexual promiscuity prior to marriage?

Very interesting are the accounts recently given by Melnikow regarding the free sexual relationships customary among the Siberian Buryats. There before marriage unregulated sexual intercourse between men and girls prevails. This is especially to be observed at festival seasons. Such festivals occur usually late in the evening, and can rightly be called “nights of love.[191]” Near the villages bonfires are lighted, round which the men and women dance monotonous dances termed “nadan.” From time to time pairs separate from the thousands of dancers, and disappear into the darkness; soon they return and resume their place in the dance, to disappear again by and by into the obscurity; but they are not the same couples that disappear each time, for they continually change partners.[157]

Is this not promiscuity? In a mitigated form we can see the same among ourselves. A case recently came under my notice in which two friends made an exchange of their “intimates”; moreover, the “intimacy” in each case had been of very brief duration. This, indeed, happened in the full light of day; while among the Buryats the darkness concealed a completely indiscriminate promiscuity.

Marco Polo reports as a remarkable custom of the inhabitants of Thibet, that there a man would in no circumstances marry a girl who was a virgin, for they say a wife is worth nothing if she has not had intercourse with men. Girls were offered to the traveller, and he was expected to reward the courtesy with a ring or some other trifle, which the girl, when she wished to marry, would show as one of her “love-tokens.” The more such tokens she possessed, the more she was in request as a wife.[158]

From New Holland we receive similar reports.

Of especial importance, as proving the existence of sexual promiscuity, are the investigations of the student of folk-lore, Friedrich S. Krauss, regarding the sexual life of the Southern Slavs. Krauss has, indeed, rendered most valuable aids to the scientific study and anthropological foundation of the human sexual life; a place of honour among the founders of “anthropologia sexualis” must be given to Krauss, and also to Bastian, Post, Kohler, Mantegazza, and Ploss-Bartels.

Dr. Krauss first published his pioneer investigations in “Kryptadia,” vols. vi. and vii. (Paris, 1899 and 1901); but later he founded an annual for the record of researches into the folk-lore and ethnology of the sexual life, entitled “Anthropophyteia: Jahrbuch für folkloristische Erhebungen und Forschungen zur Entwicklungsgeschichte der geschlechtlichen Moral”—“Anthropophyteia: Annual for Folk-lorist Investigations and Researches in the History of the Evolution of Sexual Morality.” This has been published now for four years, 1904-1907, Krauss having the[192] co-operation of anthropologists, ethnologists, folk-lorists, and medical men, such as Thomas Achelis, Iwan Bloch, Franz Boas, Albert Eulenburg, Anton Herrmann, Bernhard Obst, Giuseppe Pitré, Isak Robinsohn, and Karl von dem Steinen. It constitutes a most important addition to the hitherto very scanty works for the scientific study of sexual problems. Later, I shall have occasion to refer again to this important undertaking. Krauss, who, as he himself says, is insensitive to the romantic appeal of folk-lore, but has an open mind for the realities and possibilities of human history, has proved in this publication the unquestionable existence of sexual promiscuity among the Southern Slavs. As he himself declares, such an abundance of trustworthy proofs, obtained by a professional folk-lorist, regarding the existence of a form of sexual promiscuity within the narrow sphere of a single geographical province of research, has not hitherto been available.

It is, moreover, perfectly clear that the human need for sexual variety, which is an established anthropological phenomenon,[159] must in primitive times have been much stronger and more unbridled, in proportion as the whole of life had not hitherto risen above the needs of purely physical requirements. Since even in our own time, in a state of the most advanced civilization, after the development of a sexual morality penetrating and influencing our entire social life, this natural need for variety continues to manifest itself in almost undiminished strength, we can hardly regard it as necessary to prove that in primitive conditions sexual promiscuity was a more original, and, indeed, a more natural, state than marriage.

For from the purely anthropological standpoint—only from this standpoint, since with questions of morality, society, and civilization we are not now concerned—permanent marriage appears a thoroughly artificial institution, which even to-day fails to do justice to the human need for sexual variety, since, indeed, vast numbers of men live de jure monogamously, but de facto polygamously—a fact pointed out by Schopenhauer. This criticism is, of course, based upon purely physical sensual considerations; it does not touch marriage as an ideal of civilization possessing a spiritual and moral content.

The other social forms of sexual intercourse, forms whose existence is admitted even by the critics of promiscuity, are characterized by frequent changes in sexual relationships. This is[193] especially true of the oldest form of marriage, the so-called group-marriage.”[160]

Group-marriage is not a union in marriage of isolated individuals, but such a union between two tribal groups, composed respectively of male and female individuals, a union between the so-called totems.

The social instinct, the impulse towards companionship, upon which even to-day the State and the family depend, united mankind at one time into tribes of a peculiar kind, which felt themselves to constitute single individuals, and believed themselves to be inspired by an animal spirit, their protective spirit. Their union was known as the totem.

Group-marriage is the marriage of one totem with another—that is, the men of one totem-group marry the women of another, and vice versa. But no individual man has any particular wife. On the contrary, if, for example, twenty men of the first totem espoused twenty women of the second totem, then each one of the twenty men had an equivalent share of each one of the twenty women, and vice versa. This was indeed an advance over unrestricted sexual promiscuity, limited by no social forms; but it afforded no possibility of any individual relationships of love, it remained promiscuity within narrow bounds. Group-marriages exist at the present day in Australia in a well-developed form among certain tribes; whilst, as an occasional custom, in the form of an exchange of wives among friends, guests, and relatives, it appears to be almost universally diffused throughout Australia. Schurtz regards Australian group-marriage as a kind of partial taming of the wild sexual impulse.

Well known is the description of group-marriage in ancient Britain given by Julius Cæsar: “The husbands possess their wives to the number of ten or twelve in common, and more especially brothers with brothers, or parents with children.” Here we have a special variety of group-marriage.

According to Bernhöft, polyandry is also to be regarded as the[194] vestige of a primitive form of group-marriage, arising from a deficiency of women in a totem, so that one woman was left as the representative of the totem married to several husbands. Marshall has, in fact, amongst the polyandrous Toda in Southern India, actually observed group-marriage side by side with polyandry.

Among certain Indian tribes we find even at the present day indications of group-marriage. For example, the husband will have a claim on the sisters of his wife, or even on her cousins or her aunts, and gradually he may marry them. In this case we see that polygyny has developed out of the group-marriage.

The widely diffused practice of wife-lending and wife-exchange is also connected with the conditions of group marriage. In Hawaii, in Australia, among the Massai and the Herero in South Africa, we encounter this custom, but more especially in Angola and at the mouth of the Congo, also in North-Eastern Asia, and among many tribes of North American Indians.

Schurtz points out that similar conditions may arise among European proletariat in consequence of inadequate housing accommodation.

In this state of a somewhat limited promiscuity the only natural tie was that between mother and child. The child belonged exclusively to the mother, and therefore, in the wider sense, belonged to his mother’s totem. As Bachofen proved in his celebrated work,[161] in primeval times, and among many primitive tribes even at the present day, the “mother-right” (matriarchy), founded upon purely sensual, non-individual relations, was predominant; and only with the appearance of freer, more spiritual, more individual relations between the sexes (though this did not necessarily involve the development of monogamy) was “mother-right” first superseded by “father-right” (patriarchy).

These recent ethnological researches have proved the untenability of Westermarck’s criticism of the doctrine of promiscuity; it is no longer possible to doubt the fact of a primitive sex-companionship, taking the form of a more or less limited promiscuity of sexual intercourse. Ludwig Stein also lays stress on this view.[162] The sexual relationships of the primeval hordes were either quite unregulated, or regulated only to a very small extent.

In this view of the matter there is nothing in any sense degrading to the human race; on the contrary, in the development of[195] individual, enduring relationships between man and woman out of a condition of primitive promiscuity, we see manifested a continuous progression from lower to higher social forms of the sexual relationships, a gradual improvement and ennoblement of these relationships, until the development of monogamic marriage (which even to-day is merely an ideal state, since the reality does not correspond to it, or the original pure idea has been falsified and obscured).

The transition from matriarchy, resting on a purely natural basis, in which women assumed a leading social position, and often also a leading political position, to patriarchy, in which the spiritual and the individual relationships were brought into the foreground, signified a great step forward in the developmental history of marriage. Bachofen was the first to recognize the profound importance in the history of civilization and for the spiritual and social life of humanity of this transition of the mother-right to the father-right, from matriarchy to patriarchy. Schurtz found the following formula to express the change:

“Woman is the central point of the natural groups arising from sexual intercourse and reproduction; man, on the other hand, is the creator of free forms of society based upon the sympathy of like kinds.”

The development of the individual personal marriage is most intimately dependent upon patriarchy. In this sense, but only in this sense, Eduard von Mayer is right when he points to man as the true creator of the family. For under the matriarchal system the “family” was incomplete: it consisted only of mother and child. Only with the development of patriarchy could the family become a complete whole. This patriarchal family, which is also our modern family, is thus “the masculine form of the human tendency to social aggregation.”[163]

The father-right consisted in the right of the father over the wife and her children; it was a right of domination acquired by a severe struggle. The rape of women and marriage by capture belong to the beginnings of patriarchy; later, when woman, completely enslaved, had fallen to the position of a mere chattel, marriage by purchase was introduced. The debased position of women under the domination of the primitive father-right can be best studied among the Greeks, where free sexual relationships were possible only in connexion with hetairæ and the love of boys. To the Greeks of classical antiquity the love of boys was precisely[196] that which to the modern civilized man hetero-sexual love is, resting upon the most personal, most individual, most spiritual contact and understanding.

Kohler has beautifully described the bright side of the complete and unrestricted father-right:

“Now for the first time the man founds his home; he is the master of the domestic herd, he is the priest of sacrifice at the domestic altar; his ancestors are present in the spirit; he honours them; the house is permeated by them. In his house nothing unclean shall exist; he teaches the children propriety and dependence on the family; and the wife, at the moment when, as a bride, she crosses the threshold of her husband’s house, or is carried across it, gives up her household gods; his home is now her home. Now, at the domestic hearth, the virtues flourish—those virtues which become the preliminaries of national greatness. In the bosom of his family the man gains power, which fits him for the most important functions, whether in the life of the State or in the life of science; and a township or an agricultural community based upon such conditions constitutes the necessary foundation upon which to erect the structure of ethical, scientific, and political life. The wife passes into the background, but in the house she develops new virtues; self-sacrifice to the family, a domestic sense, joy in the home, amiability in narrower circles, are the bright sides of her influence, for the wife knows how to develop everywhere beautiful traits of character, so long as her lot is not cast amidst rude or degenerating conditions.”

The most ancient form of marriage under the father-right was polygamy, as, for example, we find it described in the Old Testament. Here we have a typical picture of the patriarchal order of family. The head of the house and of the family has a principal wife for the procreation of legitimate issue, but, in addition, numerous concubines. Among the Jews, the great stress laid upon father-right gave rise to the so-called “Leviratsehe”—that is to say, a widowed wife was compelled to marry the brother of her deceased husband, in order that the race of the dead man should be continued. Out of this patriarchal polygamy there gradually arose monogamic marriage, which down to the present time—let us insist on the matter once for all—has remained an ideal, never in reality attained, either by the Greeks or Romans or in the modern civilized world. For the modern civilized marriage is mainly a production of the father-right, and stands under the dominion of “man-made” morality, which, beside monogamy, legally established and assumed to be binding, tolerates “facultative polygamy”; hence there is here concealed an element of lying and hypocrisy which has rightly brought into discredit the modern patriarchal marriage as a conventional form among those who regard as the[197] true ideal of marriage in the future the enduring life in common of two free personalities endowed with equal rights.

Hegel, in his celebrated definition of marriage,[164] which he regards as the embodiment of the reality of the species and as the spiritual unity of the natural sexes brought about by self-conscious love, as legal-moral love, has not done justice to the recognition and development of the individuality of both parties. The “unity,” the “one body and one soul,” corresponds indeed to the patriarchal conception, according to which the woman is completely absorbed into the man; it does not correspond, however, to the modern idea of individual marriage, in which both man and woman are united as free personalities. This, as we shall see later, is the meaning of the struggle for “free-love,” which must not be confused, as, for example, it is confused by Ludwig Stein (“Beginnings of Civilization,” p. 110), with the free-love, the hetairism, of ancient times, or with the simple extra-conjugal intercourse of the present day.

Neither the mother-right alone, nor the father-right alone, is competent to satisfy the ideals of modern civilized human beings, in respect of the configuration of the social forms of the amatory life. This is only possible when both forms of right are united in a new form, by equal rights given to both sexes.[165]

Hence, in association with the endeavour for the free individual development of the feminine nature, we find also the tendency to reintroduce into public life, into true valuation and honour, the ancient conception of the mother-right.

“Slowly and gradually,” says Kohler, “has the reawakened idea of the mother-right been gnawing with a sharp tooth, now in one way, now in another, at the rigid fetters of this system, and has loosened them.... That in this manner woman will attain a worthier position is certain. But the unitary family-sense has long ceased among us to be the powerful incentive to action that it is among the purely agnate (patriarchal) peoples.... Our own conditions render it possible that the institutions of civilization will continue to thrive, even though the family tie is no longer tense and exclusive.”

The modern civilized man can quietly accustom himself to the idea that the old patriarchal family under the dominion of the father-right will gradually disappear; and that at the same time the patriarchal conventional marriage of ancient times, still to[198] all appearance so firmly established, will be replaced by other, freer forms. The idea of marriage, and its value as a form of social life, remains meanwhile unaffected. It is possible to be a critic of the old, outlived form of marriage, without therefore being exposed to the suspicion of wishing to dispense with the idea of “marriage” altogether. The one-sided, juristic, political, sacramental, and ecclesiastical conception of the past does justice neither to the social nor to the individual significance of marriage. He who, like Westermarck, regards monogamic marriage as something primitively ordained, as if it were a biological fact, and denies completely the development of that institution out of lower forms, denies also the possibility of any extensive transformation of the existing forms of marriage. The common mistake is, to place on the one hand monogamy in its most ideal form, that of life-long marriage, and on the other hand, the so-called “free love,” understanding by free love completely unregulated extra-conjugal sexual intercourse. It is not a matter for surprise that, in respect of both of these extreme forms of sexual relationship, a pessimistic view should easily gain ground. According to the point of view, one party will insist on the intolerable character, in relation to the need for individual freedom and as regards the development of personality, of a lifelong marriage of duty; whilst the other party will lay stress upon the equally great, if not greater, dangers of the unrestrained practice of extra-conjugal sexual intercourse.

With regard to recent views on the marriage problem, the reader will do well to consult the thoughtful pamphlet of Gabriele Reuter, “The Problem of Marriage” (Berlin, 1907). The author points out that there is a “deep-lying dissatisfaction with the existing marriage conditions, a yearning and restless need for improvement.” In marriage, she holds, the bodily and spiritual process of human development is completed in the most concentrated manner. As a cause of the numerous unhappy marriages of our time, she points to the divergencies, so widely manifest at the present day, between modes of thought and views of life among members of the same strata of society and among those of the same degree of education, more especially in religious matters, and she refers also to experiments made in respect of new modes of life, such as the woman’s movement. According to Gabriele Reuter, the child will become the regulator of all the changes in the married state which we have to expect in the future. As “marriage,” she defines that earnest union between man and woman which is formed for the purpose of a life in[199] common, and with the intention of procreating and bringing up children, and she regards it as altogether beside the question whether that union has been affected with or without civil or ecclesiastical sanction. In contrast with this idea of “marriage,” there would be other fugitive or more enduring unions, serving only for excitement and sensual enjoyment. It is interesting to note that the author recommends to the modern woman “good-humoured and motherly forbearance” in respect of marital infidelity. For a woman’s own good and for that of her children, it is more important that her husband should show her love, respect, and friendship, than that he should preserve unconditional physical faithfulness. But the author here ignores the possibility of venereal infection as a result of occasional unfaithfulness, which very seriously threatens the well-being of the wife and the children! Very wisely she advises a facilitation of divorce. This would not make husband and wife careless in their relations one to the other; on the contrary, it would make both more careful and thoughtful in the avoidance of anything causing pain to one another. The children should always remain with the mother up to the age of fourteen years. A detailed and valuable account of the problems of modern marriage will be found also in the work “Regarding Married Happiness: the Experiences, Reflections, and Advice of a Physician” (Wiesbaden, 1906).

Fortunately, by the legal introduction of civil marriage and of divorce the necessity has now been recognized by the State of leaving open for many persons a middle course—one which lies between lifelong marriage (whose sacramental character is thus abandoned) and free extra-conjugal sexual intercourse, and yet maintains the tendency towards the ideal of monogamic marriage.

The principle of divorce forms the most important foundation at once for a future reformation of marriage, and for a rational view, one doing equal justice to the interests of society and those of the individual, of the relations between man and wife. By the introduction of divorce, the State itself has recognized the purely personal character of conjugal relations, and has admitted that circumstances arise in which the marriage ceases to fulfil its aims and becomes injurious to both parties. Thus the State has proclaimed the rights of the individual personality in the married state.

In the marriage problem, the so-called “duplex sexual morality” also plays an important part—that is to say, the idea that man is by nature inclined to polygamy, but woman to monogamy. Herein, indeed, the thoroughly correct idea was[200] dominant that the cohabitation of one woman with several men—be it understood we refer to simultaneous cohabitation—is harmful to the offspring. From this, however, the only permissible inference is that for the purposes of the procreation of children and of racial hygiene “monogamy” can be demanded of woman on rationalistic grounds—that is to say, the intercourse of woman should be restricted to a single man during such a time and for such a purpose. But it is not legitimate from these considerations to deduce the necessity of permanent “monandry” for woman.

I will consider this question somewhat more exactly, and in doing so will refer to the interesting essay of Rudolph Eberstadt on “The Economic Importance of Sanitary Conditions” in relation to marriage, being the concluding chapter of “Health and Disease in Relation to Marriage and the Married State,” by Senator and Kaminer (Rebman, 1906), because here we find a very clear recognition of the confusion between monogamy and monandry.

According to Eberstadt, there are above all two things characteristic of modern civilized marriage—in the first place, the higher rank allotted to the husband in the married state, and, in the second place, the increased demand for prenuptial purity and for conjugal fidelity on the part of the wife. The husband demands from his wife, in addition to his own mastership in the married state, also sexual continence before marriage and unconditional fidelity during marriage. But the husband does not recognize that corresponding duties are imposed on himself.

This difference of judgment regarding extra-conjugal sexual intercourse on the part of husband and wife respectively, depends entirely upon the perfectly sound experience that simultaneous cohabitation on the part of a woman with several men obscures paternity, and therewith the foundations of the family, quite apart from a not uncommon physical injury to the child. This natural difference between man and woman, in respect of sexual intercourse and its consequences, will always endure. A man can simultaneously cohabit with two women without thereby interfering with the formation of a family; but a woman cannot with similar impunity cohabit with two men. It is possible that the demand for the virgin intactness of the wife at the time of marriage is based upon the old experience that by sexual intercourse, and still more by the first conception, certain far-reaching specific changes are induced in the feminine organism, so that the first man impregnates the feminine being for ever in his own sense, and even transmits his influence to children of a second[201] male progenitor. (Cf. in this connexion G. Lomer, “Love and Psychosis,” p. 37.)

“It is not the brutality of man,” says Eberstadt, “which has imposed a higher responsibility upon woman; Nature herself has done this. Nature has endowed man and woman differently in respect of the consequences of sexual intercourse. The fruit of intercourse is entrusted to the woman alone. Now, one who has special responsibilities has also special duties. Certain breaches of conjugal responsibility are more sternly condemned when committed by the man; certain others—especially such as concern care for the offspring—are more severely judged in the wife. The relative positions in respect of sexual intercourse are different in man and in woman, for reasons which are physical and inalterable. Seduction, ill-treatment, abandonment of a wife, and adultery, are punished in the husband by law and custom. The wife, on the other hand, loses her honour simply on account of promiscuous and unregulated intercourse, because Nature herself forbids this intercourse if the material and spiritual tie between mother, father, and child is to persist.”

In accordance with these considerations, Eberstadt holds fast to the demand for “monandry” on the part of the wife; he rejects on principle the idea of sexual equality between man and wife, and relegates the progressive development of marriage exclusively to the spiritual and moral provinces.

Although we recognize the general accuracy of this view, and admit that it is based upon conditions imposed once for all by Nature herself, still we are compelled to regard it as too narrow and one-sided, for it completely overlooks the fact that this demand for monandric love on the part of woman can be fulfilled in association with a freer moulding of woman’s amatory life. We need merely think of the often happy marriages of one woman to several men—nota bene in temporal succession—in which marriages perfectly healthy children have been born to different fathers, in order to see that for the woman of the future a freer moulding of the amatory life is also possible, though admittedly within narrower limits than in the case of man. Just as the mastership of the husband must give place to an equality of authority on the part of husband and wife, considered as two free personalities, so also must the “duplex morality” undergo a revision in the sense above indicated.

In passing, let us remark that all those who proscribe any kind of extra-conjugal intercourse on the part of woman, and who love to brand as an “outcast” any woman who indulges in it, should have their attention directed for a moment to the tremendous fact of politically tolerated, and even legalized, prostitution, which, like a haunting shadow, accompanies the[202] so-called conventional marriage—a shadow growing ever larger the more strictly, exclusively, and narrowly the idea of this “marriage” is conceived.[166]

The civilized ideal of marriage is the lifelong duration of the marriage between two free, independent, mature personalities, who share fully love and life, and by a common life-work further their own advantage and the well-being of their children. But this rarely attained ideal of civilization in no way excludes other forms of marriage, which have a more transient and temporary character, without thereby doing any harm either to the individual or to society.

More than forty years ago Lecky, the English historian of civilization, an investigator whom no one can blame, in respect of the tendency of his writings, for advancing lax ideas regarding sexual morality or for advising libertinage, expressed himself admirably on this subject. In his “History of European Morals” he wrote:

“In these considerations, we have ample grounds for maintaining that the lifelong union of one man and of one woman should be the normal or dominant type of intercourse between the sexes. We can prove that it is on the whole most conducive to the happiness, and also to the moral elevation, of all parties. But beyond this point it would, I conceive, be impossible to advance, except by the assistance of a special revelation! It by no means follows that because this should be the dominant type, it should be the only one, or that the interests of society demand that all connexions should be forced into the same die. Connexions, which were confessedly only for a few years, have always subsisted side by side with permanent marriages; and in periods when public opinion, acquiescing in their propriety, inflicts no excommunication on one or both of the parties, when these partners are not living the demoralizing and degrading life which accompanies the consciousness of guilt, and when proper provision is made for the children who are born, it would be, I believe, impossible to prove, by the light of simple and unassisted reason, that such connexions should be invariably condemned. It is extremely important, both for the happiness and for the moral well-being of men, that lifelong unions should not be effected simply under the imperious prompting of a blind appetite. There are always multitudes who, in the period of their lives when their passions are most strong, are incapable of supporting children in their own social rank, and who would therefore injure society by marrying in it, but are nevertheless perfectly capable of securing an honourable career for their illegitimate children[203] in the lower social sphere to which these would naturally belong (!). Under the conditions I have mentioned these connexions are not injurious, but beneficial, to the weaker partner; they soften the differences of rank, they stimulate social habits, and they do not produce upon character the degrading effect of promiscuous intercourse, or upon society the injurious effects of imprudent marriages, one or other of which will multiply in their absence. In the immense variety of circumstances and characters, cases will always appear in which, on utilitarian grounds, they might seem advisable.”

In ancient Rome these laxer unions were recognized by law as a form of marriage, and this legal recognition protected them, notwithstanding the unlimited freedom of divorce, from social contempt and stigmatization. “Concubinage” was such a second kind of marriage, which was thoroughly recognized and thoroughly honourable. The amica convictrix or uxor gratuita was neither a legitimate wife nor simply a mistress; she had rather the position of women in our own day who have contracted a “morganatic” marriage, a “left-handed marriage.” The only difference was that these ancient unions were more readily dissoluble.

It was the Christian dogma and the sacramental and lifelong character of marriage which first caused the stamp of infamy to be impressed upon all other varieties of sexual intercourse. The religious marriage was in its very nature indissoluble; indeed, by forbidding mixed marriages (marriages between Christian and pagan) individual freedom was entirely prohibited.

In contrast with this ancient religious view, the State, by the introduction of civil marriage, of mixed marriage (vide supra), and of divorce, has been compelled to make continually greater concessions to modern ideas, and has already recognized in principle that marriages limited in duration harmonize exceedingly well with the demands of civilization; that in general, as Lecky maintained, the recent changes in economic conditions have a much greater influence upon marriage and the forms of marriage than the ecclesiastical and mystical conception of the institution.

Anyone who wishes to gain an insight into this very difficult problem of modern marriage must first obtain clear views in respect of certain peculiarities of individual human love, regarding the intimate connexion of which with the whole process of mental evolution we have already dealt in earlier chapters.

Max Nordau has written a celebrated chapter on “The Lie of Marriage,”[167] and in the light of reality marriage is, in fact, often[204] such a lie as he describes, especially in view of the fact that not less than 75 per cent. of modern marriages are so-called “marriages of convenience,” and in no sense are properly love-marriages.[168]

But it is a well-known fact that these marriages of reason are often more enduring than love-marriages. This depends upon the nature of human love, which is by no means inalterable, but changes in accordance with the various developmental phases of the individual, needs new incitements and new individual relationships.

In No. 14,919 of the Neue Freie Presse of Vienna, March 6, 1906, there appeared among the advertisements a remarkable question, which was probably directed by a betrayed or deceived lover to his beloved:

“Ewige Liebe—ewige Lüge?”
“Eternal Love—Eternal Lie?”

Love also, personal love, is transitory, like man himself, like the isolated individual. It differs in the different ages of life; it differs, too, according to its object for the time being. Eduard von Hartmann calls love a thunderstorm, which does not discharge in a single flash of lightning, but gradually discharges the electrical energy in several successive flashes, and after the discharge “there comes the cool wind, the heaven of consciousness clears once more, and we look round astonished at the fertilizing rain falling on the ground, and at the clouds fleeing towards the distant horizon.”

All those who are well acquainted with humanity, all poets and psychologists, are in agreement respecting the fugitive character of youthful love. For this reason, they advise against marriage concluded during the passion of early youth. This poetry of love at first sight is, according to Gutzkow, the eternal game of chance of our young people, in which their health, their life, and their future go to wreck.

Another keen observer, Kierkegaard, in his “Diary of a Seducer,” says:

“Love has many mysteries, and this first love is also a mystery, if not the greatest. Most men in their ardent passion are as if insane; they become engaged or commit some other stupidity, and in a moment it is all over, and they know once more what it has cost them, what they have lost.”


And, finally, a third eminent writer on eroticism, Rétif de la Bretonne, says:

“It is a folly of the same kind to trust the constancy of a young man of twenty years of age. At this age it is less a woman that one loves than women; one is intoxicated rather by sensual phenomena than by the individual, however lovable that individual may be.”

But to youth love is almost always no more than a beautiful memory, a vanishing paradise. There clings to it something imperishable, which has, however, no binding force.

And just as to every man the love of youth appears ideal in character, precisely because it is not subjected to the rude considerations of reality, so also in every subsequent love it is almost always the first beginnings only in which true beauty and deep perception are experienced.

“A thousand years of tears and pains,” Goethe makes his Stella say, “could not counterpoise the happiness of the first glance, the trembling, the stammering, the approach and the withdrawal, the self-forgetfulness, the first fugitive ardent kiss, and the first gently breathing embrace.”

The eternal duration of such feelings is contradicted by an anthropologico-biological phenomenon of human sexuality, which I have described as “the need for sexual variety.”[169] Human love, as a whole and in its individual manifestations, is dominated and influenced by the need for change and variety. Schopenhauer drew attention to this primordial and fundamental phenomenon of human love; he was wrong, however, in limiting it to the male sex.[170] As I have already insisted, this general human need for variety in sexual relationships is to be regarded rather as a general principle of explanation of admitted facts, than as a desirable ideal. On the contrary, in my opinion, faithfulness, constancy, and durability in love, bring under control and diminish this need for sexual variety, through the recognition of the eminent advances in civilization by means of which the human amatory life will be further developed and perfected in a higher sense. But the facts of daily observation are not to be shuffled out of existence by any kind of hypocrisy or prudery. They must be faced and dealt with.

First, it is an incontestable fact that the so-called “only” love is one of the greatest rarities; that, on the contrary, in the[206] life of the majority of men and women a frequent repetition and renewal of love-sentiments and love-relationships occurs. For the most part these loves occur at successive intervals. Stiedenroth, in his admirable “Psychology,” makes the following remarks regarding these successive outbursts of passion and the transitory character of the feeling of love:

“Since no two human beings are precisely alike, one will at one time love passionately one only; in succession, however, several can be loved, and the opinion that one person only can be loved in a lifetime originates in rare dreams regarding the ideal, of which a quite false representation is made. An object can indeed appear which transcends the ideal hitherto conceived; but passion does not need a fully developed ideal for its first foundation; it needs merely that which in the theory of the feelings has been found to be a necessary condition of love. That every love gladly thinks itself immortal, lies in the nature of the case, for on account of the overwhelming character of the sensations of love, it is impossible to understand how they can ever come to an end. Experience, however, teaches us the contrary, and insight enables us to recognize the reason.”[171]

Regarding the frequent occurrence of several love-passions on the part of the same person, there can be two opinions; but is it possible that anyone can simultaneously be in love with several individuals? I answer this question with an unconditional “Yes,” and I agree fully with Max Nordau when he explains that it is possible to love at the same time several individuals with almost identical tenderness, and that it is not necessarily lying when ardent passion for each of them is expressed.[172]

It is precisely the extraordinarily manifold spiritual differentiation of modern civilized humanity that gives rise to the possibility of such a simultaneous love for two individuals. Our spiritual nature exhibits the most varied colouring. It is difficult always to find the corresponding complements in one single individual.

I ask those who are well acquainted with modern society if they have not met men, and women also, who had advanced so far in the adaptation of their love-needs to the anatomical analysis of their psychical life, that for the romantic, realistical, æsthetic traits of their nature, for the lyrical or dramatic moods of their heart, they demanded correspondingly different lovers; and if these several lovers should encounter each other, and be angry with one another, the one who loved them both (or all)[207] would be inclined to cry out in naive astonishment, like the heroine in Gutzkow’s “Seraphine,” “Love one another! love one another! You are all one, one—in me!”

In the romance “Leonide,” by Emerentius Scävola, the heroine is at the same time the wife of two husbands. Reality also is familiar with double love of this kind—for example, in the relationship of the Princess Melanie Metternich to her husband, the celebrated statesman, and to her previous bridegroom, Baron Hügel.[173] Especially frequent is the gratification of higher ideal needs and of the simple natural impulse, by means of two different persons. A man can love at the same time a woman of genius and a simple child of Nature. In the novel “Double Love” (1901), Elisar von Kupffer describes the simultaneous love of a learned man for his extremely intelligent wife and for a buxom servant-girl. A well-known example is also the double love of Wieland—the ideal love for Sophie Laroche, the frankly sensual love for Christine Hagel. But not only do differences of culture, of position, of character, play a part in such multiple love; the simple difference also of bodily appearance may lead to such simultaneous attractions; for example, a man may love at the same time a brunette and a blonde, an elegant little sylph and a distinguished presence. This is, however, on the whole, much rarer than simultaneous attraction to two different spiritual varieties.

Such facts as these are not to be employed so much in advocacy of the multiplication of love-relationships as for the illustration of the enormous difficulty in obtaining complete harmony between human beings, between one man and one woman. There remains always a balance of yearning, which the other does not fulfil; always a balance of striving, which the other is unable to understand. This cannot, however, affect in the slightest degree the ideal of the single love; on the contrary, it makes it stand out all the more brilliantly before our spiritual vision. It is rare, like every ideal, and attainable only by few. This rarity of complete love between a man and a woman is dwelt on also by Henry Laube in his novel “Die Maske,” in which he describes love in all its manifoldness and modern distraction.


Schleiermacher described very strikingly the necessity that exists for the repetition and manifoldness of love-perceptions:

“Why,” says he, “should it be different with love from what it is in every other matter? Is it possible that that which is the highest in mankind should be brought at the first time, by the most elementary activity, to a perfect conclusion in a single deed? Should we expect it to be easier than the simple art of eating and drinking, which the child first attempts, and attempts again and again, with unsuitable objects and rude experimentation, and with results which, contrary to his deserts, are not always unfortunate? In love, also, there is need for preliminary experiments, leading to no permanent result, from which, however, every one carries away something, in order to make the feeling more definite and the prospect of love greater and grander.”[174]

Georg Hirth also shows that true mastery of love only becomes possible by means of repetition. There are ideal masculine and feminine Don Juan natures, which are always searching for the genuine, eternal, only love; as, for example, Wilhelmine Schröder-Devrient, wandering perpetually from man to man; or a similar figure, the titular heroine of the romance “Faustine,” by the Countess Ida Hahn-Hahn. Many, most indeed, of such never learn to know true love, because they never find the proper object of love; and they die, as Rousseau, in his “Confessions,” says so strikingly, without ever having loved, eternally torn by the need for love, without ever having been able perfectly to satisfy that need. Happy indeed are those like Karoline, who in Schelling found at length the man whose powerful personality fully corresponded to her idea of love.

The need for such a great and true love remains fixed, notwithstanding all deceptions, bitternesses, and the sorrows of unsatisfied longing. Love is, in fact, the human being himself; like the human being, love has its development, its impulse towards higher things, towards that which is better. No painful experience can completely annihilate love, and the need for love. In a beautiful stanza a French poet of the eighteenth century, the Chevalier de Bonnard, has described this essential permanency of love:

“Hélas! pourquoi le souvenir
De ces erreurs de mon aurore
Me fait-il pousser un soupir!
Je dois peut-être aimer encore,
Ah! si j’aime encore, je sens bien
Que je serai toujours le même;
Le temps au cœur ne change rien:
Eh! n’est-ce pas ainsi qu’on aime?”


True love is the product of the ripest development; it is therefore rare, and comes late. For this reason, as Nietzsche points out, the time for marriage comes much earlier than the time for love. It is by means of spiritual relationships that love first becomes enduring. Its prolongation is almost always effected only by an enlargement and variation of psychical relationships. Physical relationships alone soon lose through habituation the stimulus of novelty; whence we explain the fact that so many husbands, notwithstanding the physical beauty of their wives, become unfaithful to them, often in favour of much uglier women, of girls of the lower classes, or even of prostitutes. The de Goncourts remark in their “Diary” that the beauty which in a cocotte a man will reward with 100,000 francs, will not in his own wife seem worth 10,000 francs—in the wife whom he has married, and who, with her dowry, has brought him this magnificent beauty into the bargain. For this reason, a priest, when a wife complained to him that her husband had begun to get somewhat cold in his manner to her, gave the following by no means bad advice: “My dear child, the most honourable wife must have in her just a suspicion of the demi-mondaine.”

The greatest danger for love, a danger which therefore makes its appearance above all in married life, is the danger of habituation. This has a double effect. On the one hand, by the mere monotony of eternal repetition, love may become blunted.

“It is worth remarking,” says Goethe, “that custom is capable of completely replacing passionate love; it demands not so much a charming, as a comfortable object; given that, it is invincible.”

In the second place, however, custom contradicts the already mentioned need for variety, the eternal uniformity of daily companionship puts love to sleep, damps its ardour, and even gives rise to a sense of latent or open hatred between a married pair. This hatred is observed most frequently in love-matches,[175] precisely because here the ideal is all the more cruelly disturbed by the rude grasp of realities; especially if the intimate life in common enfolds a human, all-too-human, element, and tears away the last ideal veil. With justice the common bedroom of a married couple has been called “the slaughter of love.”


A further cause of unhappy marriages is to be found in unfavourable age-relations of the married couple. The most serious is the premature entrance upon marriage.

Before the introduction of the Civil Code, the age of nubility in the German Empire was attained, in the male sex, with the completion of the twentieth, in the female sex with the completion of the sixteenth year of life. In Prussia a Minister of Justice could give permission to marry at an even earlier age. According to the Civil Code, men could not marry until they were of full age (twenty-one), and women, as before, not until they were sixteen years of age. Women are able to obtain remission from this restriction, but not men. In special cases, however, a man is enabled to marry before the age of twenty-one years if the Court of Wardship (cf. the English Court of Chancery) declares him to be of full age, which the Court has power to do at any time after he is eighteen years of age.

Whilst, before the year 1900, on the average, there were not as many as 300 men under twenty years who annually contracted marriage with the permission of the Minister of Justice—already a matter for serious consideration—since the introduction of the new Code, by which the ordinary age of nubility for man is raised by one year, the number of persons prematurely contracting marriage has exhibited a notable increase. In the year 1900 there were 1,546, and in the year 1901 actually 1,848 young men married before the age of twenty-one years. These very early marriages were distributed among all professions, and almost all classes of the population.

This increase in premature marriages is, speaking generally, a symptom indicative of the premature awakening of sexuality in our own time, a phenomenon which we shall discuss more fully later. Such an occurrence as the elopement of a girl aged fourteen with a boy aged fifteen, the pair having already for some time been engaged in an intimate love-relationship, and having finally come to the conclusion that they could no longer live apart, is by no means a great rarity.[176] No detailed argument is needed to show that persons completely wanting mental and moral maturity are not suited for marriage, which can only be regarded as offering some security for endurance and life happiness, when it is the union of two fully-developed personalities. In this respect it seems to me that the regulations of the Civil Code are not at present sufficiently strict.

A second notable factor in the causation of unhappy marriages[211] is an excessive difference between the ages of husband and wife, and in this respect it is quite an old experience, that a marked excess of age on the part of the husband has a less unfavourable influence than a similar excess on the part of the wife. This observation harmonizes with the fact that men can preserve sexual potency up to the most advanced age—even in a centenarian active spermatozoa have been found[177]—that such old men can have complete sexual intercourse, and can procreate children; whereas in women, at the age of forty-five to fifty years, with the cessation of menstruation the procreative capacity is extinguished, though not, indeed, the capacity for sexual intercourse and for voluptuous sensation. Naturally, in this connexion we are not alluding to quite abnormal cases, such as a premature impotence in the husband, or other morbid conditions in either husband or wife. We are considering merely the normal physical difference in age. Metchnikoff lays great stress upon this physical disharmony between husband and wife. He insists upon the fact that in the man sexual excitability generally begins much earlier than in woman, and that at a time when the woman stands at the acme of her needs the sexual activity in the man has already begun to decline; but this is only the case when the husband was notably older than the wife when the marriage was contracted. A difference of five or ten years in this respect is a small matter; but a difference of ten or twenty years may be of serious significance. Generally speaking, in the case of marriages which are intended to be of lifelong duration, the difference of age should never exceed ten years.

With increasing civilization, the average age at marriage has continually advanced (in Western Europe the average age at marriage is for men twenty-eight to thirty-one years, and for women twenty-three to twenty-eight years), whilst the number of persons who do not marry until late in life, and of those who do not marry at all, is continually increasing. This is partly the result of spiritual differentiation and of the ever-increasing difficulty in finding a suitable life-partner, and partly it is the result of the increasing economic difficulty in providing for the support of a household.

Schmoller has calculated that under normal conditions about 50 per cent.—one-half, that is to say—of the population of the country must be either married or widowed. In Europe, however, a much smaller proportion is in this condition. Thus, taking only persons over fifty years of age, in Hungary[212] 3 per cent., in Germany 9 per cent., in England 10 per cent., in Austria 13 per cent., in Switzerland 17 per cent., were unmarried.

The number of married and widowed persons among those over fifty years of age varies in the different countries between 56 per cent. (in Belgium) and 76 per cent. (in Hungary). In England, in the years 1886 to 1890, the number was 60 per cent., in Germany 61 per cent., in the United States 62 per cent., in France 64 per cent. If we enumerate the married only, excluding the widowed, we find 8 or 10 per cent. fewer. When we compare the number of married with the entire population, we find, instead of the above-mentioned 50 per cent., no more than 37 to 39 per cent. And this percentage appears likely to undergo a continual further decline. We must, at any rate, in the future reckon with this fact, although, of course, isolated oscillations in the marriage frequency may continue to occur. In these oscillations economic and domestic factors play a great part.

It is, however, quite erroneous to regard our own time as one especially characterized by “mercenary marriages,” one in which the union between man and wife has become a simple affair of commerce. There are not wanting reformers who attribute to mammonism all the blame for the disordered love-life of the present day, and who describe very vividly and dramatically Amor’s dance round the golden calf.

The facts of the history of civilization and folk-lore completely contradict the view that this mammonistic character of marriage is a product of our modern civilization. It is, on the contrary, a vestige of early primitive civilization, in which economic factors always had a far greater importance for marriage than spiritual sympathies. Thus, Heinrich Schurtz proves that among the majority of savage races marriage is rather an affair of business than of inclination. And where are money marriages more frequent than they are among our sturdy German peasants, with whom everything conventional has the freest possible play?[178]

It is first the higher, refined spiritual civilization which brings with it a higher conception of marriage as the realization of the ideal, individual only-love. As Ludwig Stein justly remarks:

“It was not in our own time that marriage first began to degenerate to the level of an economic idea. The converse, indeed, is true; the economic background of marriage, as it so clearly manifests itself among savage races, first began to disappear in the course of the [213] development of our own system of civilization, and therewith began also the liberation of mankind from the burden of metallic shackles.”[179]

At the same time, it cannot be denied that even at the present day the economic factor plays a very extensive part in the determination of marriage, although certainly not to the degree maintained by Buckle, who held that there was a fixed and definite relationship between the number of marriages and the price of corn.[180] Beyond question, economic considerations have a great influence upon the frequency of marriage. Many marriages, even to-day, are purely mercenary marriages; but still at the present time the qualities of intellect and emotion, quite apart from physical characteristics, have at least an equal share in the production of marriage. Only among the classes who feel it their duty to keep up a particular kind of appearance, among the upper-middle classes, the aristocracy, and among officers in the army, is the economic question the main determining influence in marriage. Well known, also, is the predominance of mercenary marriages among the Jews.

One may be an enemy of mammonism, and still see the necessity for an economic regulation of conjugal relations in view of the expected offspring, of the altered conditions of life, of the increase in the household, and of the necessity for safeguarding personal independence and free development. Such economic considerations can harmonize perfectly with the demand for personal sympathy, and with the most intimate physical and spiritual harmony between husband and wife.

Schmoller rightly places the most important advance of the modern family in this, that it becomes more and more transformed from a productive and business institute into an institute of moral life in common; that by the limitation of its economic purposes the nobler ideal must become more predominant, and the family become a richer soil for the cultivation of sympathetic sentiments.[181]

More especially among the upper classes of modern European and American society is there apparent an increasing disinclination to marriage, or, to employ a phrase of the moral statistician Drobisch, there is a decline in the intensity of the marriage impulse. Although the often burning money question no doubt[214] plays its part, that part is, on the whole, much smaller than the part played by the ever-increasing difficulties of individual spiritual harmony, difficulties dependent on differences in age, character, education, views of life, and individual development during marriage. This disinclination to marry is nourished by certain tendencies of the time to be subsequently described, and by certain changes in the relations between the sexes.

To many also the idea of “conjugal rights,” as established by law, appears a horrible compulsion, an assignment to physical and spiritual prostitution. The modern consciousness of free personality, in fact, no longer harmonizes with that stoical conception of duty in marriage such as, for example, is described by B. Chateaubriand in his memoirs, although, of course, every one who enters on marriage ought to be aware that by doing so he assigns to the other party certain rights, the non-fulfilment of which actually destroys the character and the idea of marriage. Thus, the conduct of a schoolmistress of Berlin, who persistently refused physical surrender to her husband, on the ground that she had wished merely to contract an “ideal” marriage (of the same kind as the mystical “reformed marriage” of the American woman Alice Stockham), demands emphatic condemnation. But an abominable misuse of “conjugal rights” is unquestionably made by inconsiderate husbands, who demand from their wives unlimited, excessively frequent, gratification of their sexual desire, without any regard to the wife’s physical and spiritual condition at the time. That in this respect the idea of “conjugal rights” is greatly in need of revision has been convincingly proved by Dorothee Goebeler in an essay entitled “Conjugal Rights,” published in the Welt am Montag of August 6, 1906.

Too frequently, also, it happens that the husband simply transfers into his married life previous customs of extra-conjugal sexual intercourse, and makes use in marriage of the experience he has gained in intercourse with prostitutes or with priestesses of the love of the moment; he treats his wife as an object of sensual lust, without paying any regard to her individuality and to her more delicate erotic needs.

This physical dissonance is not even the worst. Too often it is simply boredom which kills love in married life. Like Nora in “A Dolls’ House,” one waits for the “wonderful,” and the wonderful does not happen. Instead of this the years pass by; sexual passion, greatly influenced as it is by the spiritual environment, gradually disappears, and with it disappears also the last possibility of spiritual sympathy. Thus, the character of most[215] marriages is solitude. They represent the tragedy of desolation, of the eternal self-seeking of husband and wife.

What disastrous consequences, finally, may result from the part played in marriage by disease, what tragic conflicts may here rise, can be studied in the great book “Health and Disease in Relation to Marriage and the Married State” (Rebman, 1906), an encyclopædic work edited by H. Senator and S. Kaminer, discussing in detail the relation between disorders of health and the married state.

The calamities of modern marriage are strikingly illuminated in the following psychologically interesting account given by the alienist Heinrich Laehr (“Concerning Insanity and Lunatic Asylums,” p. 44 et seq.; Halle, 1852):

“How, as a matter of fact, do marriages come about? In heaven certainly a very small number indeed, if by that phrase we understand marriages undertaken with the full understanding of the nature of the sacrifice involved, under the impulsion of an inner necessity, and based upon deep mutual inclination founded upon self-respect and respect for each other; in social circles, and not in heaven, on the other hand, the majority of marriages are made. The question upon which ultimately so many marriages depend is, what each will gain by it, whilst inner sensations and mutual liking are regarded as subordinate matters.... A man is fully informed about such matters in early years; a woman is full of dark perceptions, uncertain as to what she is to receive and what she is to give. She is naturally impelled by her sense of inward weakness to yield to anyone more powerful than herself, and, in the intoxication of sensual excitement, under conditions in which both, in order to please, tend to show the best side only to each other, she is far less able than man to weigh beforehand the significance of such a step. Later, indeed, when, in the trodden path of marriage, the current of love runs more slowly, her eyes are opened, naked reality takes the place of the pictures of imagination, which formerly caused self-deception, and what appeared to be love, but was not love, takes flight for ever. What has not been hidden under the name of love! It conceals the pretence of egoistic impulses, vanity it may be, the life of pleasure, avarice, indolence; and what a number of marriages are entered into on the part of the woman in order to escape from the oppression of repugnant domestic conditions, because the imagined future appears to them more pleasant in contrast with the actual present.

“There are in the course of marriage so many periods of misunderstood depression, sadness, trouble; and mankind so readily forgets the golden rule, that these periods have to be got through by means of mutual aid, and that in married life husband and wife should do all that is possible to help one another onwards, and not to thrust one another back—so easily is this forgotten, that only too readily the mirth and gladness with which married life was begun vanish away. The intense pain which attacks us with violence, but only at long intervals, has a far less depressing influence on our organism[216] than much less severe, but frequently repeated, emotional disturbances, especially such as arise out of the wretchedness of life. They give rise in us to irritability of the nervous system, by which sensitiveness is increased; and repeated misunderstandings in married life soon make both husband and wife feel that marriage is rather a burden than a joy.”

That women as well as men recognize the danger to love entailed by marriage is shown by Frieda von Bülow in “Einsame Frauen,” pp. 93, 94 (1897):

“During this period I have often considered the question of such continued life in common. Is it not inevitable that this unceasing, intimate association must always give rise to mutual hatred? Husband and wife learn to know one another through and through. The veil of white lies which plays so important a part in ordinary social intercourse is here impossible. The characters are seen naked in all their weakness, all their incapacity for love, all their vanity, all their egoism. In such circumstances, phrases intended to conceal appear simply untruths, and instead of producing illusion they repel. Just as in the first awakening of love, all the powers of the soul are directed towards the discovery of the excellences of the beloved one, so here the soul is for ever upon a voyage of discovery seeking for faults. In both cases alike, a sufficiency of that which one seeks is found.”

The poets also give us an insight into the depths of the eternal contradiction between love and marriage. Who does not know the saying of the idealistic and optimistic Schiller: “Mit dem Gürtel, mit dem Schleier reisst der schöne Wahn entzwei”—“With the girdle, with the veil (of marriage), the beautiful illusion is torn to pieces”? Consider, also, the horribly clear characterization of the pessimistic Byron (in “Don Juan,” canto iii., stanzas 5-8):


“’Tis melancholy, and a fearful sign
Of human frailty, folly, also crime,
That love and marriage rarely can combine,
Although they both are born in the same clime.
Marriage from love, like vinegar from wine—
A sad, sour, sober beverage—by time
Is sharpen’d from its high, celestial flavour,
Down to a very homely household savour.


“There’s something of antipathy, as ’twere,
Between their present and their future state;
A kind of flattery that’s hardly fair
Is used until the truth arrives too late—
Yet what can people do, except despair?
The same things change their names at such a rate;
For instance—passion in a lover’s glorious,
But in a husband is pronounced uxorious.


“Men grow ashamed of being so very fond;
They sometimes also get a little tired
(But that, of course, is rare), and then despond;
The same things cannot always be admired,
Yet ’tis “so nominated in the bond,”
That both are tied till one shall have expired.
Sad thought! to lose the spouse that was adorning
Our days, and put one’s servants into mourning.


“There’s doubtless something in domestic doings,
Which forms, in fact, true love’s antithesis;
Romances paint at full length people’s wooings,
But only give a bust of marriages;
For no one cares for matrimonial cooings,
There’s nothing wrong in a connubial kiss.
Think you, if Laura had been Petrarch’s wife,
He would have written sonnets all his life?”

It is significant that those who most praise marriage are young people who do not know marriage from experience, but have failed to find true happiness in celibacy. We think of the words of Socrates, that it is a matter of indifference whether a man marries or does not marry, for in either case he will regret it.

Our own time is certainly characterized by hostility to marriage. It is the form of modern marriage which frightens most people; the compulsion which has actually been rendered more stringent by the new Civil Code of 1900. Modern individualism draws back from the undeniable loss of freedom which legal marriage entails. The shadow which, according to a saying of E. Dühring, indissoluble marriage has thrown upon love and upon the nobler aspects of the sexual life, is darker to-day than ever before.

Hence the growing disinclination to marry, which, significantly enough, is increasingly manifest upon the part of women; hence, above all, the extraordinary increase in divorce.

According to a statement in the Vossische Zeitung (No. 137, March 22, 1906), the number of divorces in Germany underwent a marked increase in the year 1904. In that year there were 10,882 divorces; in 1903, 9,932; in 1902, 9,074; thus in the year 1904 there was an increase of 590, or 9·6 per cent.

In the closing years of the nineteenth century, a marked increase in the number of divorces was already discernible. For instance, in the years 1894-1899 the number rose from[218] 7,502 to 9,433. It was at that time believed that the increase depended upon the fact that in most of the countries of the German Confederation the new Civil Code made divorce more difficult, and that for this reason as many people as possible were seeking divorce before the new Code came into action. It is true that the number of divorces diminished after the Civil Code passed into operation. In the year 1900 the divorces numbered 7,922, and in the year 1901, 7,892. Since then, however, there has once more been a marked increase, so that the figure for the year 1904 is 2,990 in excess of that for the year 1901, an increase of 38 per cent. This increase is principally to be referred to the fact that the so-called relative grounds for divorce, enumerated in § 1568 of the Civil Code,[182] appear to have justified a great number of demands for divorce. The marked extensibility of the sections of this paragraph leaves the judge very wide discretion in its application.

To what an extent the increase in the number of divorces influences the existing marriages is seen as soon as we compare the number of divorces with the number of marriages. It appears that in the years 1900 and 1901, for every 10,000 marriages, there were 8·1 divorces; in 1902, 9·3 divorces; in 1903, 10·1 divorces; and in 1904, 11·1 divorces. Thus in the year 1904, there were 3 more divorces per 10,000 marriages than in the year 1901.

I have already referred to the enormous importance of divorce in relation to the recognition on the part of the State of the temporary character of every marriage, whereby, in principle, free love, which is no more than a temporary marriage, receives a civil justification, and is legitimized. This fact stands out still more clearly when we recognize the legal possibility of repeated divorces on the part of one and the same person. Numerous actual examples of this can be given. Thus a well-known author was divorced no less than four times, and of his four wives one, on her side, had been divorced by other men. Two divorces on both sides are by no means rare. If we consider the matter openly and unemotionally, it must be admitted that this is nothing else than the much-opposed “free love,” the bugbear of all[219] honest Philistines, a free love which has already received the official sanction of the State.

When four or five divorces are possible to the same individual by official decree, when, that is to say, this procedure has received civil sanction, the number may for theoretical purposes be multiplied at discretion.

He who knows human nature, he who knows that the consciousness of freedom in mature human beings—and only such should enter upon marriage—strengthens and confirms the consciousness of duty—such a one need not fear the introduction of free marriage. On the contrary, it may be assumed that divorces would be far less common than they are in the case of coercive marriage.

According to the Civil Code, divorces are obtainable on the ground of adultery, hazard to life, malicious abandonment, ill-treatment, mental disorder, legally punishable offences, dishonourable and immoral conduct, serious disregard of conjugal duties. As we saw, the last clause empowered the judge in difficult cases, by a humane, reasonable interpretation of the idea “disregard of conjugal duties,” to pronounce a divorce. It is obvious that in every divorce the interests of the children of the marriage (if any) must be especially safeguarded.

Marriage in France, to which hitherto the clauses of the Code Napoléon, analogous to those of our Civil Code, have been applicable, is said to have recently undergone reform, both in respect of moral and of legal rights. In Paris there has been constituted a standing “Committee of Marriage Reform,” composed of well-known authors, jurists, and women, among the number being Pierre Louys, Marcel Prevost, Judge Magnaud, Octave Mirbeau, Maeterlinck, Henri Bataille, Henri Coulon, and Poincaré.

In an address to the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate by the President of this Committee, Henri Coulon, in which he gives the reasons for desiring a change in the present marriage laws,[183] he says:

“It would be childish to disguise the fact that the institution of marriage has entered upon a critical phase; philosophers and novelists lay odds on the complete disappearance of the institution. In this, perhaps, they go too far. But it is none the less true that it is a matter of profound interest and importance to reform the institution of marriage. Granted this, how shall we begin?

“The entrance into marriage must be made as easy as possible; in this way the number of marriages which are based upon love will rapidly increase. Then, the married pair must have equal rights,[220] equal duties, and equal responsibilities; in this way marriage will become more practical and less immoral than it is at present. Finally—and this is the most important of all—it is necessary to facilitate divorce. Divorce will then become the worthy separation of two thinking beings, and will no longer be the disgusting comedy that it is at the present day.

“For those determined to live apart, for those whose morals are loose, indissoluble marriage itself is no longer a bond. Absolute freedom is no hindrance to conjugal fidelity and constancy; on the contrary, freedom is the cause of constancy.

“Divorce is not happiness, but it is a help towards happiness. For two human beings who hate one another to continue to live together is a much greater evil than divorce. Certainly it would be preferable if husband and wife could continue to love one another as they did during the first days of their married life; that they should love their children and be honoured by them. But since humanity is not free from faults and vices, this does not always happen. Divorce, as we wish for it, makes marriage worthier and more profound. Such marriages will be better suited to the new social movements and to the modern spirit.

The civil equality of the two sexes must be a fundamental principle of modern law. The French Civil Code already recognizes for both sexes equal rights in some respects; but the wife still loses a certain portion of her rights in the moment that she marries. She is in fact rendered incapable of business. The contrast between the incapacity for business of the married woman and the capacity for business of the unmarried is one of the characteristic traits of our legislation.

“Divorce, as it now exists, contradicts the indissolubility of the marriage bond demanded by the Church. Adultery should only be regarded as a ground for divorce, and should not exonerate the murderer who kills his adulterous wife or her accomplice.

“We demand the abolition of the punishment for adultery, because prosecutions of this character arise either from revengeful feelings or from litigiousness.”

Justice demands that with this facilitation of divorce, as advocated in the French scheme of marriage reform, there should be associated increased security for the care of the dependent wife and children after divorce. In this connexion, conjugal responsibility is merely a part of sexual responsibility in general. If two independent, free individuals have sexual relations one with the other, in or out of marriage, they thereby both undertake in respect of their own persons and of all possible offspring, the duty and the responsibility which are the outcome of a natural instinctive feeling, namely, “the sense of sexual responsibility.” This must dominate the entire sexual life of every human being, as a categorical imperative. In this is to be found the necessary ethical counterpoise to the activity of boundless sexual egoism.


For the love of the future and its social regulation, the three following conditions appear to me to be determinative; they form a part also of the French programme of marriage reform:

1. Equal rights, equal duties, equal responsibilities on the part of husband and wife.

2. Facilitation of divorce.

3. Individual freedom to be regarded as preferable to coercion. Freedom best promotes constancy in love.[184]

If these principles were strictly carried out in practical life, without doubt, and as a matter of absolute certainty, the number of divorces would not increase, but would diminish, and we should sooner witness the realization of the ideal of true marriage, as the lifelong union of two free personalities, fully conscious of their duties and their rights.

The high ethical and social significance of family life will ever continue, even under the freest love, by which, as I must again and again insist, I do not understand unrestricted and continually changing extra-conjugal sexual intercourse. Against this the gravest considerations must be urged. What “free love” is, is already apparent from the preceding exposition, but in the next chapter the subject will be more thoroughly discussed.


In a long-forgotten, but very interesting, book by Dr. Anton J. Gross-Hoffinger, entitled “The Fate of Women, and Prostitution in Relation to the Principle of the Indissolubility of Catholic Marriage, and especially in Relation to the Laws of Austria and the Philosophy of our Time,”[185] we find a collection, equally interesting to psychologists and to students of human character, to the physician, the jurist, and the sociologist, of a hundred typical marriages, and also a more detailed description of the course of a few marriages. These sketches deserve to be preserved[222] from oblivion, because they will serve equally well as an example of marriages of our time.

In the first place, the author discusses the principal difficulties of marriage. He then asks whether, in view of the smallness of the number of those comparatively happy persons who have found it possible to live a legal and at the same time a natural family life, the existing marriage laws, religious ideas, and social customs have attained their aim, whether they give rise, as a general rule, to happy and fruitful, honourable and blessed unions. The author hesitated long before presenting for the first time “to the Catholic world the picture of the actual state of marriages in that world, a picture based upon numerous experiences and observations.” He investigated one hundred marriages of persons belonging to the most diverse classes, without selection, as they came under his observation by chance; then, again, another hundred, and once again a third hundred. Always the results were equally sad; always the ratio between happy and unhappy marriages was the same. The result of his investigations was, he states:

“Although I have earnestly sought for happy marriages, my search has to this extent been vain, that I have never been able to satisfy myself that happy marriages are anything but extremely isolated exceptions to the general rule.”

In his view this is not the unhappy result of erroneous observation, but depends upon exact observation during a long series of years, and in conditions which brought him into intimate relationship with numbers of persons in all classes of society.

Thus, after a long, difficult, and careful investigation into a hundred marriages among persons of different classes, he obtained the following results, here briefly summarized:

Upper Classes.

Upper-Middle Classes.

Professional and Trading Classes.

Lower Classes.

Thus, among these hundred marriages there were:

Unhappy, about 48
Indifferent 36
Unquestionably happy 15
Virtuous 1
Virtuous and orthodox

Further, among these hundred marriages there were:

Intentionally immoral 14
Dissolute and libertine 51
Altogether above suspicion ?


Wives who were ill owing to the husband’s fault 30
Wives who were ill not owing to the husband’s fault 30
Wives who were unhappy, and had themselves to blame for it 12

Among these hundred marriages only one was happy owing to mutual faithfulness; all the other slightly happy marriages, if one may call them so, were so only because the wife did not disturb herself with regard to the question of her husband’s faithfulness.

From these statistics Gross-Hoffinger draws the following conclusions:

1. About one-half of all marriages are absolutely unhappy.

2. Much more than one-half of all marriages are obviously demoralized.


3. The morality of the remaining smaller moiety is preserved only by avoiding questions regarding the husband’s faithfulness.

4. Fifteen per cent. of all marriages live on the earnings of professional unchastity and procurement.

5. The number of orthodox marriages which are entirely above every suspicion of marital infidelity (assuming the existence of complete sexual potency) is in the eyes of every reasonable man, who understands the demands which Nature makes, and the violence of those demands, equivalent to nil. Hence the ecclesiastical purpose of marriage is generally, fundamentally, and completely evaded.

“No compulsion,” thus concludes the author, “is more unnatural than that of the Catholic (Protestant, Jewish, Greek Orthodox) religion, by which is prescribed a compulsory continuance of marriage, with its fantastic code and ridiculous conjugal duties and rights.

“First of all, this compulsion—this sacrament of marriage—marriage which is nothing, can be nothing, according to nature should be nothing, but a free union and a civil arrangement—results in the avoidance of marriage.

“Secondly, it results that in marriage the purposes of marriage are not and cannot be completely fulfilled.

“Thirdly, that marriage has ceased to be the natural marriage which it should be, and has become merely a business, a speculation, or a hospital for invalids.”

In illustration of this proposition, Gross-Hoffinger finally describes from life twenty-four marriages, some of which, being especially interesting, we will here record.


Countess B., owing to unavoidable difficulties, was unable to contract a suitable marriage, and attained the age of thirty whilst still unmarried. The result of this was she gave herself to a servant, consequently became infected, and died of syphilis some months after she had, finally, married. Her husband was left with an unhappy memorial of this brief marriage.


Count C., a man of high rank, lost his beloved wife through death. Circumstances made it impossible for him to marry again. He was afraid of acquiring venereal disorders, and therefore abstained from natural connexion. Through lack of natural sexual gratification his sexual impulse became perverse, and he took to the practice of Greek love.


Prince D., young, impotent, concluded a marriage of convenience with a beautiful, very passionate lady, who, on account of her husband’s[228] impotence, compensated herself with domestic servants, members of her retinue, and cavalry soldiers, and gave birth in these conditions to several children, which inherited the title of the putative father. In such circumstances the marriage has been very unhappy, but necessity compels the husband to bear his fate with patience.


Count E., in other respects a man of fine character, made a marriage of convenience with a lady of good family, who, however, was not in a position to make him happy. From natural nobility of character, he was unwilling to distress his unhappy wife by entering openly into relations with a concubine, and therefore sought sexual gratification with prostitutes. He became infected, and transmitted the illness to his wife, who became seriously ill, and gave birth to diseased children. Although the poor sufferer is unaware of the origin of her troubles, and bears them with patience; although her husband takes all possible care of her, and does his best to bring about the restoration of her health; the marriage, owing to the uneasy conscience of the husband and the physical suffering of the wife, is obviously a very unhappy one.


Baron F., a man of wide influence, in youth a libertine—frivolous, and of an emotional disposition, insusceptible to finer feelings, contracted successively four marriages of convenience, which in all cases terminated in the death of the wife. There is reason to believe that the unceasing libertinism and unscrupulous conduct of the husband had shortened the life of his wives—and this is all the more probable because all the Baron’s children are sickly and scrofulous.


Count G., dissipated libertine, wasted his property in wild extravagance, and compelled his wife to live apart from him, whilst he spent enormous sums on professional singers and dancers and common prostitutes. Being ruined as completely financially as physically, he was despised by persons of all classes, persecuted by his creditors, and absolutely detested by his wife. Although his pleasures consist chiefly in reminiscences, he still devotes enormous sums to them, the money being obtained by a continued increase in his debts.


Count H. has been married for many years, but lives on the most unpleasant terms with his wife, and devotes his spare time to the society of prostitutes. The scum of the street form his favourite associates; but his voluptuous adventures carry him also into family life, and no respectable middle-class wife or girl, however innocent, is safe from his advances, which are all the more incredible because he is quite an old man and completely impotent. He uses all possible means to make the woman of his choice compliant—presents, promises, threats.



Dr. S., husband of an immoral wife, public official, libertine, philosopher, enjoying a small secured income. Lives with his wife on a footing which permits both parties unlimited freedom. The worthy couple devote their whole energies to earning money by their industry, in part by secret prostitution on the part of the wife, in part by direct and indirect procurement by the holding of piquant evening parties for youthful members of the aristocracy. The family has an extraordinary vogue. Persons of high position are engaged in confidential intercourse with them; young girls of the better classes gladly attend their soirées, since there they meet the élite of the young aristocracy, rich Jews, and officers. This interesting pair get through an almost incredible amount of money; they keep a magnificent carriage, they have a country house, a valuable collection of pictures, etc. It is only from their servants that both of them receive little respect, since the male portion of the household subserve the lustful desires of the wife, the female domestics those of the husband, and all must be initiated into the secrets of the household industry.


Dr. U. was till recently an old bachelor, who had never wished to share his property with a wife and children, and found it much cheaper and more agreeable to impregnate servant-girls and other neglected characters than to keep a mistress, or to seek his pleasures in the street. Finally, becoming infirm at sixty-two years of age, and needing nursing, on account of an occasional gouty swelling of the leg, he discovered that it was not good for man to be alone. Having rank and wealth, it would have been easy for him to find a young and pretty girl who, under the title of wife, would have undertaken to play the part of sick nurse. But the old practitioner knew too well the value of what he had to offer to throw himself away on a poor girl. He considered that it would be reasonable to choose such a partner that he would not be obliged to divide his income, and to find some one to take care of him in his old age who would cost him nothing at all, but would rather provide for her own needs. He thought less, therefore, of youth than of property, less of beauty than of thrifty habits; and finally found an old maid, a woman with some property, who, on account of a somewhat unattractive exterior, had failed to obtain a husband. Now one can see the prudent husband, who is as faithful to his wife as the gout is faithful to him, walking from time to time in the street on the arm of his life companion, whose aspect is somewhat discontented. She still wears the same clothes which she wore before her marriage, and which have a sufficiently shabby appearance, but she endures her lot with patience, because she is now greeted as “gnädige Frau,” and people kiss her hand, as they did not do formerly.


Count J., a man of unblemished character, lived for some time a happy married life. The increasing age of the wife, however, associated with the exceptional constitution of the Count, whose youth[230] seemed remarkably enduring, led to scenes of jealousy, which embittered the life of both. We can hardly suppose that this jealousy is altogether unfounded; but surely it is a matter for regret that two human beings of distinctly noble character should by marriage be exposed to lifelong unhappiness.


Herr von K., a young merchant in the wholesale trade, is married to the daughter of a man of position, and the wife by a rich dowry helped to found her husband’s fortunes; hence she enjoys the distinction over other wives that her husband pretends a great tenderness for her, and conceals his indiscretions with the greatest possible care. For this reason, she has always been devoted to him; she regards him as the example for all other husbands, as a true phenomenon in the midst of an utterly depraved world of immoral men. And as an actual fact, if one sees this man, how he lives in appearance only for his business, with what delicate modesty he avoids any conversation about loose women, if one hears him zealously preach against husbands who deceive their wives, how inconceivable it is to him that a man should find any pleasure in immoral women—one would be willing to swear that he is everything that his wife enthusiastically describes him to be. But some wags amongst his acquaintances, by taking incredible pains, discovered that this honourable merchant had no less than seven mistresses, two of whom belonged to the class of prostitutes, two to the class of grisettes; the remaining three had been decent middle-class women. To these last he presented himself under various names and in the most diverse forms—now as attaché to an embassy, now as an officer, now as a journeyman mechanic. To all these latter mistresses he had promised marriage, and by a succession of presents, oaths, and lies, he had in each case attained his end, and thereafter abandoned them without remorse to the consequences of the adventure, whilst he himself set out to seek in a fresh quarter of the town new sacrifices for the altar of his lusts. Since he never had anything to do with known prostitutes and procuresses, but by personal pains provided the materials for his pleasures, he succeeded both as a merchant and as a husband in preserving the reputation of a man free from illicit passion and deserving of all confidence.


Major W., a distinguished officer, a man of honour in every respect, had in youth married a chambermaid, naturally, as one can imagine, from pure inclination. But the marriage remained barren, because the wife suffered from organic troubles; and soon her sexual powers were completely extinguished. Whilst the husband still remained virile, the wife was already an old woman, suffering from spasmodic and other affections, surrounded always by medicine-bottles and medical appliances, always ill-humoured and nagging, a true torment for the good-natured and amiable husband. The latter bears with Christian patience and inexhaustible love the ill-humour of his wife; but Nature is less pliable than his kind heart: his conjugal tenderness diminishes, and his ardent temperament seeks other outlets for the gratification[231] of his natural sexual desires. The sick wife notices this coolness, and revenges herself by a refined cruelty. She knows that sulkiness on her part makes him ill and miserable; she therefore afflicts him with coldness of manner, and by jealousy and ill-temper she makes his life a hell. There occur horrible scenes of domestic brawling, which more than once have led the husband to attempt to end his troubles by suicide. He suffers in a threefold fashion: by the continued irritation of his healthy natural impulse, by the illnesses he contracts in gratifying that impulse, and by the sorrows of his really loved wife. He imposes upon himself a voluntary celibacy in order that he may not make her ill; but this sacrifice does not suffice, it does not make his wife gentler towards him. She demands from him, tacitly, all the ardency of the bridegroom; there is no rescue possible from this inferno. The husband surrenders himself to a quiet despair. He is faithful in his vocation; he lives only for the wife, who torments him continually. The neighbours see a very unedifying example of an extremely unhappy marriage, originally contracted as a pure love match, and none the less entailing martyrdom alike on husband and wife.

Note.—That in Vienna the conjugal conditions so graphically described in the above extracts are still much the same as formerly, and that marriage needs and marriage lies are there exceptionally painful is shown by the foundation in Vienna of a “Society for Marriage Reform,” which sent to the Assembly of German Jurists, meeting at Kiel in the beginning of September, 1906, the telegraphic request that they would undertake a revision of Austrian marriage law, since hitherto no cure had been found for unhappy marriage in Austria, no divorce was possible, and those who had obtained a judicial separation could, according to Canon Law, sue one another on account of adultery (cf. Neue Freie Presse, No. 15108, September 13, 1906). It is hardly credible, but, according to a report in the Berlin Aerzte-Correspondenz, 1907, No. 8, it is true, that the Medical Court of Honour for the town of Berlin and the province of Brandenburg, in the year of our Lord 1906, punished physicians on the ground of adultery!

[155] P. Näcke, one of the most trustworthy authorities on sexual anthropology, writes as follows: “That in ancient times, before monogamy, there was polygamy, or even a state resembling promiscuity, is very probable (Westermarck notwithstanding), and can, in fact, be assumed a priori” (“Einiges zur Frauenfrage und zur sexuellen Abstinenz”—“A Contribution to the Woman’s Question and to the Problem of Sexual Abstinence”), published in the Archiv f. Kriminalanthropologie, vol. xiv., p. 52 (Hans Gross, 1903). Cf. also Lohsing’s “Zustimmung zur Annahme einer ursprünglichen Promiscuität,” ibid., vol. xvi., p. 332.

The question of sexual promiscuity has recently been further considered by P. Näcke (“Earliest Beginnings of Human Society,” in Die Umschau of August 17, 1907). He believes that the state of pure promiscuity lasted a short time only, and gave place to certain nuclei of family structure, a kind of semi-promiscuity, which, prior to the complete development of the family union, lasted much longer than the state of pure promiscuity. Still, these earliest families were merely temporary, and only later became fixed and permanent. This assumption, however, does not affect the fact of a primordial pure promiscuity. Näcke himself also recognizes promiscuity as the natural state of primitive man.

[156] H. Schurtz, “Altersklassen und Männerbünde: eine Darstellung der Grundformen der Gesellschaft”—“Age Classes and Associations of Men: a Demonstration of the Fundamental Forms of Society,” p. 176 (Berlin, 1902).

[157] N. Melnikow, “The Buryats of the District of Irkutsk,” published in the Transactions of the Berlin Society of Anthropology, Ethnology, and Primeval History, p. 440 (1899).

[158] Marco Polo, translated by Yule, 2nd edition, vol. ii., pp. 38, 39 (London, 1875).

[159] Cf. my “Contributions to the Etiology of Psychopathia Sexualis,” vol. i., pp. 165-169.

[160] Cf., regarding group-marriage, the writings of Joseph Kehler, more particularly “Zur Urgeschichte der Ehe”—“The Primitive History of Marriage” (Stuttgart, 1897); “Rechtsphilosophie und Naturrecht”—“The Philosophy of Law and Natural Right,” published in Holtzendorff-Kohler’s “Encyklopädie der Rechtswissenschaft,” pp. 27-36 (Leipzig, 1902); “Die Gruppenehe”—“Group-Marriage,” in “Aus Kultur und Leben,” pp. 22-29 (Berlin, 1904); finally the chapter on “Group-Marriage” by Schurtz (op. cit.). [A quite modern instance of group-marriage was the Oneida community, “a league of two hundred persons to regard their children as ‘common.’” For an account of the Oneida experiment see Noyes, “A History of American Socialisms.”—Translator.]

[161] J. J. Bachofen, “Das Mutterrecht”—“Matriarchy” (Stuttgart, 1861).

[162] Ludwig Stein, “Die Anfänge der Kultur”—“The Beginnings of Civilization”—pp. 106, 107.

[163] Eduard von Mayer, “Die Lebensgesetze der Kultur”—“The Vital Laws of Civilization”—p. 210.

[164] G. F. W. Hegel, “Fundamental Outlines of the Philosophy of Law, or Natural Rights and Political Science in Outline,” edited by Eduard Gans, second edition, p. 218 (Berlin, 1840).

[165] That is to say, it is not sufficient to replace the father-right by the mother-right, as, for example, Ruth Bré demands (“The Children of the State, or the Mother-Right?” Leipzig, 1904).

[166] There is a most apposite remark in one of George Meredith’s novels. He imagines that an Oriental vizier (from a Mohammedan country) is visiting our “Christian” capital, and late one evening, after a dinner-party at a distinguished house, walks homeward by way of Piccadilly. He asks, and is told, who are the numerous ladies walking the streets at that late hour. “I perceive” said the vizier, “that monogamic society has a decent visage and a hideous rear.”—Translator.

[167] M. Nordau, “The Conventional Lies of our Civilization,” pp. 263-317 (Leipzig, 1884).

[168] Georg Hirth estimates the percentage of marriages of convenience as even higher—viz., 90 per cent. Cf. his “Ways to Love,” p. 607.

[169] Cf. my “Contributions to the Etiology of Psychopathia Sexualis,” vol. i., pp. 165-174; vol. ii., pp. 190, 191, 208, 209, 363, 364.

[170] Schopenhauer’s Collected Works, edited by E. Grisebach, vol. ii., p. 1337 (Leipzig, 1905).

[171] Ernest Stiedenroth, “Psychologie zur Erklärung der Seelenerscheinungen,” pp. 224, 225 (Berlin, 1825).

[172] Max Nordau, “Conventional Lies,” p. 305.

[173] Cf. in this connexion the feuilleton of the Vossische Zeitung, No. 286, June 17, 1904. Jean Paul, also, was an enthusiast in theory and practice for such double love. He called it “simultaneous love.” The idea of simultaneous love has also been employed in a recently published French novel, “A la Merci de l’Heure,” by Jean Tarbel (Paris, 1907). The heroine has need of two lovers—a celebrated literary professor for head and heart, and in addition, a young physician for the gratification of her sensual needs. Contrariwise, Knut Hamsun, in “Pan,” and Guy de Maupassant in “Notre Cœur,” describe the double love of a man for a woman of the world and for a child of Nature.

[174] Friederich Schleiermacher, “Philosophic and Other Writings,” vol. i., p. 473 (Berlin, 1846).

[175] Cf. Eduard von Hartmann, “Philosophie des Unbewussten,” p. 205. In a French collection—“L’Amour par les Grands Écrivains,” by Julien Lemer, p. 14 (Paris, 1861)—we find the saying, “Ordinairement, lorsqu’on se marie par amour, il vient ensuite de la haine; c’est que j’ai vu de mes yeux” (“Ordinarily, when one marries for love, hate takes its place. I have seen it with my own eyes”).

[176] B. Z. am Mittag, No. 210, September 7, 1906.

[177] “Annales d’Hygiène Publique,” 1900, p. 340.

[178] Elard H. Meyer, “Deutsche Volkskunde,” p. 166 (Strasburg, 1898).

[179] Ludwig Stein, “Der Sinn des Daseins”—“The Sense of Existence,” p. 235 (Tübingen and Leipzig, 1904).

[180] H. Th. Buckle, “History of Civilization in England.”

[181] G. Schmoller, “Elements of General Political Economy,” vol. i., p. 250 (Leipzig, 1901).

[182] § 1568 runs: “A husband or wife can sue for divorce when the wife or husband by serious disregard of the duties entailed by marriage, or by dishonourable or immoral conduct, has brought about so profound a disorder of the conjugal relationship that to the offended party the continuation of the marriage appears impossible. Gross ill-treatment is also to be regarded as a serious infringement of these duties.” It is clear that the emphasized passage is capable of manifold interpretations, and it thus compensates for the abolition of the earlier grounds for divorce based upon incompatibility of temper.

[183] Taken from the newspaper Le Jour, No. 337, July 6, 1906.

[184] Compare Browning’s lines, in “James Lee’s Wife”:

“How the light, light love, he has wings to fly
At suspicion of a bond.”—Translator.

[185] “Die Schicksale der Frauen und die Prostitution im Zusammenhange mit dem Prinzip der Unauflösbarkeit der katholischen Ehe und besonders der österreichischen Gesetzgebung und der Philosophie des Zeitalters” (Leipzig, 1847).



The transformation of coercive marriage into a free and equal marriage, one more closely approaching perfection, both naturally and morally, can only be effected in conjunction with social arrangements providing for the complete economic independence of woman, and giving security for her material means of subsistence. Unless this indispensable preliminary is fulfilled, the highest ideal of free morality will be debased to the level of a gross caricature.”—E. Dühring.[234]


Free love as a burning question of our time — Definition — Free love not equivalent to extra-conjugal sexual intercourse — Defamation of free love and sanction of extra-conjugal sexual intercourse by the coercive-marriage-morality — The immoral duplex morality for man and woman — Its momentous influence upon the sexual corruption of the present day — Free love as the only source of help — Actual realization of free love among the proletariat — Strengthening of the sense of responsibility in consequence of free love.

History of free love in the nineteenth century — William Godwin’s fight against coercive marriage — His free union with Mary Woolstonecraft — Shelley’s polemic against conventional sexual morality — John Ruskin on free love — Goethe’s marriage of conscience — His “Wahlverwandtschaften” (“Elective Affinities”) — The remarkable proposal for a temporary marriage in this romance — Perhaps based upon a Japanese custom — Malayan temporary marriage — Influence of Schlegel’s “Lucinde” — Karoline’s marriage wanderings — Free love in Jena and Berlin — Communistic-socialistic ideas regarding free love — Rétif de la Bretonne, Saint-Simon, Enfantin, and Fourier — George Sand’s “Jacques” — The “Es-geht-an-Idea” of the Swedish author Almquist — Schopenhauer’s fight against coercive marriage — His one-sided standpoint — His description of the disastrous effects of monogamic coercive marriage — His apology for concubinage — Criticism of his view of the rôle of women in marriage reform — His theory of tetragamy — First communication of a hitherto unpublished note of Schopenhauer’s on tetragamy — Criticism of this theory.

Free love based upon only-love, the watchword of the future — Bohemian love — Does not correspond to the ideal of free love — Importance of social and economic factors in the sexual relationships of the present day — Efforts for sexual reform — The literature of free love — Charles Albert’s communistic foundation of free love — Liberation of love from the dominion of the state and of capital — Ladislaus Gumplowicz — Bebel’s “Die Frau und der Sozialismus” (“Woman and Socialism”) — The psychologico-individual foundation of free love — Eugen Dühring — Edward Carpenter’s “Love’s Coming of Age” — His ideas regarding self-control and spiritual procreation — Ellen Key’s work, “Ueber Liebe und Ehe” (“Love and Marriage”) — Detailed analysis of this work — Her critique of nominal “monogamy” — Her idea of “spiritualized sensuality” — “Erotic monism” — The unity of marriage and love — Sexual dualism owing to coercive marriage and prostitution — General diffusion of erotic scepticism — Recognition of love as the spiritual force of life — Importance of relative asceticism — Love’s choice — Medical certificates of fitness for marriage — Immoral love — The right to motherhood — Preliminary conditions — Necessity for free divorce — Unfortunate marriages — Importance of divorce to children — New programme of the rights of children — Ellen Key’s new[235] marriage law — Endowment of motherhood — Authorities for the protection of children — Division of the property of husband and wife — Discontinuance of the coercion to live together — Secret marriages — Conditions under which marriage is to be contracted — Divorce — Council of Divorce — Jury for the care of children — Sexual responsibility — “Marriages of conscience” — Examples from Sweden — Public notification of “free” unions — Legal recognition of “free” unions in Sweden — Increase in the number of “marriage protestants” — Importance of free love to the vital advance of humanity — General characterization of Ellen Key’s book — Its importance in connexion with sexual reform in Germany — Formation of “The Association for the Protection of Mothers” — Directors and committee of this society — Preliminary appeal and programme of the association — The periodical Mutterschutz — The formation of local groups — The “Umwertungs-Gesellschaft” (Revaluation Society) of the United States — Its characterization of modern marriage — The Berlin “Union for Sexual Reform” — Helene Stöcker’s “Love and Woman” — Conception of the sexual problem in the sense of Nietzsche — No revolution, but evolution and reform — Deepening of woman’s soul by means of the older love — The affirmation of life of the new love — The economic and social grounds for the necessity of social reform — Friedrich Naumann, Lily Braun, and others, on this subject — Increase in enforced abstinence from marriage — The “maintenance question” a crying scandal of our time — A characteristic letter — The radical evil of conventional morality — Insurance of motherhood — Homes for pregnant women and for infants — The rights of the “illegitimate” child — Suggestions regarding a statistical inquiry relating to free love and illegitimate offspring in the upper classes — Examples of celebrated personalities.



The problem of “free love” is the burning question of our time. Upon its proper solution depends the future of civilization, and our ultimate liberation from the ignominious conditions of the amatory life of the present day, dependent as these are upon coercive marriage. This is our firm conviction, our profound belief, one which we share with many, and those not the worst minds of our day.

Free love is neither, as malevolent opponents maintain, the abolition of marriage, nor is it the organization of extra-conjugal sexual intercourse. Free love and extra-conjugal sexual intercourse have nothing whatever to do one with the other. Indeed, I go so far as to maintain that true free love, as it must and will prevail, will limit casual and unregulated extra-conjugal sexual intercourse to a far greater extent than coercive marriage has ever succeeded in doing. Above all, free love will ennoble sexual intercourse.

For the longer, in existing economic conditions, we cling to the antiquated “coercive marriage,” which has so long been in need of reform, the smaller is the number of those who desire to marry, the more advanced becomes the age of marriage, the greater becomes the general sexual wretchedness, the deeper shall we sink into the mephitic slough of prostitution, towards which the increasing promiscuity of extra-conjugal sexual intercourse inevitably leads us.

For this is the peculiar, hypocritical, and absurd mode of argument of those who uphold conventional marriage; they despise and brand with infamy every sexual relationship of two adult independent persons based upon free love, and sanction quite openly casual transitory extra-conjugal sexual intercourse, devoid of all personal relationships, not only with prostitutes, but also with respectable women.

“Bachelorhood,” says Max Nordau, “is very far from being equivalent to sexual continence. The bachelor receives from society the tacit permission to indulge in the convenience of intercourse with woman, when and where he can; it calls his self-seeking pleasures ‘successes,’ and surrounds them with a kind of poetic glory; and the amiable vice of Don Juan arouses in society a feeling composed of envy, sympathy, and secret admiration.”[186]


On the other hand, this same conventional coercive marriage morality demands from the girl complete sexual continence and intactness until the time of her marriage!

But every reasonable and just man must ask the question, Where, then, are the unmarried men to gratify their sexual impulse if at the same time the unmarried girls are condemned to absolute chastity?

It is merely necessary to place these two facts side by side in order to expose the utter mendacity and shamelessness of the coercive marriage morality, and to display the true cancer of our sexual life, the sole cause of the increasing diffusion of prostitution, of wild sexual promiscuity, and of venereal diseases.

When hereafter, before the judgment-seat of history, the dreadful “j’accuse” is uttered against the sexual corruption of our time, then there will be a good defence for those of us who, under the device, “Away with prostitution! away with the brothels! away with all ‘wild’ love! away with venereal diseases!” were the first to indicate free love as the one and only means of rescue from these miseries.

We are always told that men are not yet ready for the free, independent management of their sexual life; mankind is not yet ripe for the necessary responsibility. Our opponents point especially to the danger of such an opinion and such reforms for the lower classes.

But human beings are better than the defenders of the obsolete conventional morality would have us believe, and above all, it is the members of the lower classes whom we may quietly allow to follow the dictates of their own hearts. They, indeed, give us the example that freedom is not equivalent to immorality and pleasure-seeking; that, on the contrary, it is freedom that awakens and keeps active the consciousness of duty and the sense of responsibility.

Alfred Blaschko rightly draws attention to the fact that among the proletariat for a long time already the idea of free love has been actually realized. In a large majority of cases men and women of these classes have sexual intercourse with one another, especially between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five, without marrying.[187]


“Among the proletariat free love has never been regarded as sinful. Where there is no property which is capable of being left to a legitimate heir, where the appeal of the heart draws man and woman together, from the very earliest times people have troubled themselves little about the blessing of the priest; and had it not been that at the present day the civil form of marriage is so simple, whilst, on the other hand, there are so many difficulties placed in the path of unmarried mothers and illegitimate children, who can tell if the modern proletariat would not long ago, as far as they themselves are concerned, have abolished marriage?”[188]

Blaschko adduces proofs that in all places in which free love is not possible prostitution takes its place.

This fact affords a striking proof of the necessity of free love. For there can be no doubt as to the correct answer to the question which is better, prostitution or free love.

Max Marcus and other physicians have recently discussed the question whether the medical man is justified in recommending extra-conjugal sexual intercourse. I myself, as a physician, and as an ardent supporter of the efforts for the suppression of venereal diseases, in view of the enormous increase of professional prostitution (both public and private), and in view also of the extraordinarily wide diffusion of venereal diseases, feel compelled to answer this question, generally speaking, in the negative. Yet I look to the introduction of free love, and in association with free love of a new sexual morality, in accordance with which man and woman are regarded as two free personalities, with equal rights and also equal responsibilities, as the only[239] possible rescue from the misery of prostitution and of venereal disease.

Place the free woman beside the free man, inspire both with the profound sense of responsibility which will result from the activity of the love of two free personalities, and you will see that to them and to their children such love will bring true happiness.

Before going further into this problem of free love, I will give a brief account of the history of the question during the nineteenth century. We shall see that quite a number of leading spirits, morally lofty natures, were occupied with the question, because they were deeply impressed with the intolerable character of existing conditions in the sexual sphere, and were convinced that help was only to be found in a relaxation of those conditions in the sense of a freer conception of sexual relationships.

In addition to the romanticists (vide supra, pp. 169 and 175) in the beginning of the nineteenth century in England, William Godwin, the lover and husband of Mary Wollstonecraft (the celebrated advocate of woman’s rights), in his “Political Justice,” declared the conventional coercive marriage to be an obsolete institution, by which the freedom of the individual was seriously curtailed. Marriage is a question of property, and one person ought not to become the property of another. Godwin maintained that the abolition of marriage would have no evil consequences. The free love and subsequent marriage of Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft deserves a short description. Godwin was of opinion that the members of a family should not see too much of one another. He also believed that they would interfere with one another’s work if they lived in the same house. For this reason he furnished some rooms for himself at a little distance from Mary Wollstonecraft’s dwelling, and often first appeared at her house at a late lunch; the intervening hours were spent by both in literary work. They exchanged letters also during the day.[189]

Doubtless under the influence of the views of Godwin, Shelley, in the notes to “Queen Mab,” writes a violent polemic against coercive marriage. He says:

“Love withers under constraint; its very essence is liberty; it is compatible neither with obedience, jealousy, nor fear; it is there most pure, perfect, and unlimited, where its votaries live in confidence, equality, and unreserve. How long, then, ought the sexual connexion to last? What law ought to specify the extent of the grievances which should limit its duration? A husband and wife[240] ought to continue so long united as they love each other; any law which should bind them to cohabitation for one moment after the decay of their affection would be a most intolerable tyranny.”[190]

He then proceeds to attack the conventional morality so intimately associated with coercive marriage, and concludes with the words:

“Chastity is a monkish and evangelical superstition, a greater foe to natural temperance even than unintellectual sensuality; it strikes at the root of all domestic happiness, and consigns more than half of the human race to misery, that some few may monopolize according to law. A system could not well have been devised more studiously hostile to human happiness than marriage. I conceive that from the abolition of marriage, the fit and natural arrangement of sexual connexion would result. I by no means assert that the intercourse would be promiscuous; on the contrary, it appears, from the relation of parent to child, that this union is generally of long duration, and marked above all others with generosity and self-devotion.”[191]

Here, also, we find the expression of the firm conviction that in the freedom of love is to be found an assured guarantee for its durability!

Later, also, the English Pre-Raphaelites, especially John Ruskin, advocated free love, and maintained that the sacredness of these natural bonds lay in their very essence. It is love which first makes marriage legal, not marriage which legalizes love (cf. Charlotte Broicher, “John Ruskin and his Work,” vol. i., pp. 104-106; Leipzig, 1902).

In Germany, at the commencement of the nineteenth century, a lively discussion of the problems of love and marriage ensued upon the publication of Friedrich Schlegel’s “Lucinde” and Goethe’s “Wahlverwandtschaften”—“Elective Affinities” (1809).

Goethe, in his very rich amatory life, especially in his relationship to Charlotte von Stein and to Christiane Vulpius, with the latter of whom he lived for eighteen years in a free “marriage of conscience,”[192] and whose son, August, the offspring of this union, he adopted long before the marriage was legitimized, realized the ideal of free love more than once. Although in his book “Wahlverwandtschaften” (“Elective Affinities”) he at length gave the victory to the moral conception of monogamic marriage,[241] and propounded it as an illuminating ideal for civilization (which “ideal standpoint” we ourselves, as we have shown in the previous chapters, fully share), yet in this novel he has represented conjugal struggles, from which it appears how profoundly he was impressed by the importance of a transformation of amatory life in the direction of freedom. It is especially by the mouth of the Count in this work that he gives utterance to such ideas. The latter records the advice of one of his friends that every marriage should be contracted for the term of five years only.

“This number,” he said, “is a beautiful, sacred, odd number, and such a period of time would be sufficient for the married pair to learn to know one another, for them to bring a few children into the world, to separate, and, what would be most beautiful of all, to come together again.”

Often he would exclaim:

“How happily would the first portion of the time pass! Two or three years at least would pass very happily. Then very likely one member of the pair would wish that the union should be prolonged; and this desire would increase the more nearly the terminus of the marriage approached. An indifferent, even an unsatisfied, member of such a union would be pleased by such a demeanour on the part of the other. One is apt to forget how in good society the passing of time is unnoticed; one finds with agreeable surprise, when the allotted time has passed away, that it has been tacitly prolonged. It is precisely this voluntary, tacit prolongation of sexual relationship, freely undertaken by both parties without any extraneous compulsion, to which Goethe ascribes a profound moral significance.”

I should like to draw the attention of students of Goethe to the fact that this recommendation of a temporary marriage for the term of five years, with tacit prolongation of the term, is a very ancient Japanese custom, or, at any rate, was so thirty years ago.

Wernich, who for several years was Professor of Medicine at the Imperial University of Japan, remarks:

“Marriages were concluded for a term only: in the case of persons of standing for five years; among the lower classes for a shorter term. It was very rare, however, only in cases in which the marriage was manifestly unhappy, for a separation to take place when the term expired. If there were healthy living children such a separation hardly ever occurred—most of these temporary marriages were, in fact, extremely happy, and the same is true of Jewish marriages, in which divorce is easily effected by a very simple ceremonial, closely resembling that of the Japanese.”[193]


In view of the remarkable coincidence between the proposal in Goethe’s “Elective Affinities” and the Japanese custom, we are probably justified in assuming that Goethe was acquainted with the latter.

“Lucinde” gave expression to the feelings and moods of the time in respect of love and marriage on behalf of a circle far wider than that of the romanticists. At no time were the ideals of free love so deeply felt, so enthusiastically presented, as then; above all, by the beautiful Karoline, who, after long “marriage wanderings,” especially with A. W. Schegel, finally found the happiness of her life in a free marriage with Schelling, which subsequently became a legally recognized union.

“In her letters,” says Kuno Fischer, “she praises again and again the man of her choice and of her heart, in whose love she had really attained the goal which she had longed and sought in labyrinthine wanderings.... And that Schelling was the man who was able completely to master the heart of this woman and to make her his own, gives to his features also an expression which beautifies them.”[194]

Rahel, Dorothea Schlegel, and Henriette Herz, extolled, under the influence of “Lucinde,” the happiness of free love. For this period of genius in Jena and Berlin, as Rudolph von Gottschall calls it, the free-love relationship of Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia and Frau Pauline Wiesel was typical. This relationship is more intimately known to us from the letters exchanged between the two, published by Alexander Büchner in 1865. In these letters, to quote a saying of Ludmilla Assing, we find “the most passionate expression of all that it is possible to express in writing.”

In France the discussion of the question of free love was to an important extent associated with the communistic-socialistic ideas of Saint Simon, Enfantin, and Fourier. Before this, Rétif de la Bretonne, in his “Découverte Australe” (a work which exercised a great influence upon Charles Fourier),[195] demanded that the duration of marriage should be in the first instance two years, with which period the contract should spontaneously terminate. Saint Simon and Barrault proclaimed the “free wife,” Père[243] Enfantin proclaimed the “free union,” and Fourier proclaimed “free love” in the phalanstery.

A reflection of this idea is to be found in the novels of George Sand, especially “Lelia” and “Jacques,” these tragedies of marriage; in “Jacques,” for example, we find the following passage:

“I continue to believe that marriage is one of the most hateful of institutions. I have no doubt whatever that when the human race has advanced further towards rationality and the love of justice, marriage will be abolished. A human and not less sacred union would then replace it, and the existence of the children would be not less cared for and secured, without therefore binding in eternal fetters the freedom of the parents.”

We must mention Hortense Allart de Méritens (1801-1879) as a contemporary of the much-loving George Sand, and, like her, a theoretical and practical advocate of free love. She was cousin to the well-known authoress Delphine Gay, and herself wrote a roman à clef, published in 1872, “Les Enchantements de Prudence,” in which she records the history of her own life, devoted to free love. First the beloved of a nobleman, she ran away when she discovered she was pregnant, and then lived successively with the Italian statesman Gino Capponi (1826-1829); with the celebrated French author Chateaubriand (1829-1831); with the English novelist and poet Bulwer (1831-1836); the Italian Mazzini (1837-1840); the critic Sainte-Beuve (1840-1841); these being all free unions. From 1843 to 1846 she was the perfectly legitimate and extremely unhappy wife of an architect named Napoléon de Méritens, whereas with her earlier lovers she had lived most happily. Léon Séché, in the Revue de Paris of July 1, 1907, has recently described the life of this notable priestess of free love, to whose above-mentioned romance George Sand wrote a preface (cf. Literarisches Echo of August 1, 1907, pp. 1612, 1613).

In Sweden at about the same time the celebrated poet C. J. L. Almquist was a powerful advocate for free love. In the numbers for July and August, 1900, of the monthly review, Die Insel, Ellen Key has published a thoughtful essay, containing an analysis of Almquist’s views on this subject.

In the novel “Es Geht An” Almquist advocates the thesis that true love needs no consecration by a marriage ceremony. On the contrary, a ceremony of this kind belies the very nature of marriage, for it forms and cements false unions; and any relationship concluded on the lowest grounds, if it has only been[244] preceded by a marriage ceremony, is regarded as pure, whilst a union based upon true love without marriage is regarded as unchaste. In the sense of free love Lara Widbeck, in “Es Geht An,” arranges her own life and that of her husband Albert. Both are to be masters of their respective persons and of their respective property; they are to live for themselves, the work of each is to be pursued independently of the other, and in this way it will be possible to preserve a lifelong love, instead of seeing love transformed into lifelong indifference or hate.

Even at the present day in Sweden the idea of free love is known, after this romance of Almquist’s, as the “Es-geht-an idea” and also as “briar-rose morality.” It was, above all, Ellen Key who revived Almquist’s idea, and enlarged it to the extensive programme of marriage reform in the direction of free love, which we shall consider more fully below.

In his last writings Schopenhauer occupied himself at considerable length with the problems of love, but entirely from the standpoint of misogyny and of duplex sexual morality. Still, he recognized the great dangers and disasters which the traditional coercive marriage entails upon society, and rightly regarded this formal marriage as the principal source of sexual corruption.

In his essay “Concerning Women” (“Parerga and Paralipomena,” vol. xi., pp. 657-659), ed. Grisebach, he writes:

“Whereas among the polygamist nations every woman is cared for, among monogamic peoples the number of married women is limited, and there remains an enormous number of unsupported superfluous women.[196] Among the upper classes these vegetate as useless old maids; among the lower classes they are forced to earn their living by immeasurably severe toil, or else they become prostitutes. These latter lead a life equally devoid of pleasure and of honour; but in the circumstances they are indispensable for the gratification of the male sex, and hence they constitute a publicly recognized profession, the especial purpose of which is to safeguard against seduction those women more highly favoured by fortune, who have found husbands, or may reasonably hope to do so. In London alone there are 80,000 such women. What else are these women than human sacrifices on the altar of monogamysacrifices rendered inevitable by the very nature of the monogamic institution? All the women to whom we now allude—women in this miserable position—form the inevitable counterpoise to the ladies of Europe, with their pretension and their pride. For the female sex, regarded as a whole, polygamy is a real benefit. On the other hand, from the rationalistic point of view, it is impossible to see why a man whose wife is suffering from a chronic disease, or remains unfruitful, or has gradually become too old for[245] him, should not take a second wife. That which produces so many converts to Mormonism appears to be the rejection by the Mormons of the unnatural institution of monogamy. In addition, moreover, the allotment to the wife of unnatural rights has imposed upon her unnatural duties, whose neglect, nevertheless, makes her unhappy. To many a man considerations of position, of property, make marriage inadvisable, unless the conditions are exceptionally favourable. He would then wish to obtain a wife of his own choice, under conditions which would leave him free from obligations to her and her children. However economical, reasonable, and suitable these conditions may be, if she agrees to them, and does not insist upon the immoderate rights which marriage alone secures to her, she will, because marriage is the basis of every society, find herself compelled to lead an unhappy life, one which, to a certain degree, is dishonourable; because human nature involves this, that we assign a quite immeasurable value to the opinion of others. If, on the other hand, she does not comply, she runs the danger either of being compelled to belong as a wife to a man repulsive to her, or else of withering as an old maid, for the period in which she can realize her value is very short. In relation to this aspect of our monogamic arrangement, the profoundly learned treatise of Thomasius, De Concubinatu, is of the greatest possible value, for we learn from it that among all cultured people, and in all times, until the date of the Lutheran Reformation, concubinage was permitted, and even to a certain extent legally recognized, and was an institution not involving any dishonour. From this position it was degraded only by the Lutheran Reformation, for the degradation of concubinage was regarded as a means by which the marriage of priests could be justified; and, on the other hand, after the Lutheran denunciation of concubinage, the semi-official recognition of that institution by the Roman Catholic Church was no longer possible.

“Regarding polygamy there need be no dispute, for it is a universally existing fact, and the only question is regarding its regulation. Where are the true monogamists? We all live at least for a time, but most of us continually, in a state of polygamy. Since, consequently, every man makes use of many wives, nothing could be more just than to leave him free, and even to compel him, to provide for many wives.”

Just as are these views of Schopenhauer’s regarding the necessity of a freer conception and a freer configuration of sexual relations, and regarding the shamefulness of exposing to infamy the unmarried mother and the illegitimate child, so much the more dangerous is his view of the part to be played by women in this reform of marriage. Woman as an inferior being, without freedom, is once more to lose all her rights, instead of standing beside man as a free personality with equal rights and equal duties. The result of a rearrangement of amatory life on this basis would inevitably be a new and a worse sexual slavery.

As Julius Frauenstädt records, Schopenhauer, in a separate manuscript found amongst his papers, has described the evil conditions of monogamy, and has recommended, as a step to[246] reform, the practice of “tetragamy.” This peculiar and unquestionably very interesting essay has not found its way into the Royal Library of Berlin. With regard to the whereabouts of the manuscript we are uncertain; perhaps Frauenstädt destroyed it.

However, we find a brief, hitherto unpublished, extract from this essay in Schopenhauer’s manuscript book, “Die Brieftasche,” written in 1823, which is preserved in the Royal Library in Berlin.[197]

I publish here, for the first time, the summary account of tetragamy contained on pp. 70-77 of the aforesaid manuscript book:

(Hitherto Unpublished).

“Inasmuch as Nature makes the number of women nearly identical with that of men, whilst women retain only about half as long as men their capacity for procreation and their suitability for masculine gratification, the human sexual relationship is disordered at the very outset. By the equal numbers of the respective sexes, Nature appears to point to monogamy; on the other hand, a man has one wife for the satisfaction of his procreative capacity only for half the time for which that capacity endures; he must, then, take a second wife when the first begins to wither; but for each man only one woman is available. The tendency exhibited by woman in respect of the duration of her sexual capacity is compensated, on the other hand, by the quantity of that capacity: she is capable of gratifying two or three vigorous men simultaneously, without suffering in any way. In monogamy, woman employs only half of her sexual capacity, and satisfies only half of her desires.

“If, now, this relationship were arranged in accordance with purely physical considerations (and we are concerned here with a physical, extremely urgent need, the satisfaction of which is the aim of marriage, alike among the Jews and among the Christians), if matters were to be equalized as completely as possible, it would be necessary for two men always to have one wife in common: let them take her when they are both young. After she has become faded, let them take another young woman, who will then suffice for their needs until both the men are old. Both women are cared for, and each man is responsible for the care of one only.

“In the monogamic state, the man has for a single occasion too much, and for a permanency too little; with the woman it is the other way about.

“If the proposed institution were adopted in youth, a man, at the[247] time when his income is usually smallest, would have to provide only for half a wife, and for few children, and those young. Later, when he is richer, he would have to provide for one or two wives and for numerous children.

“Since this institution has not been adopted—for half their life men are whoremongers, and for the other half cuckolds; and women must be correspondingly classified as betrayed and betrayers—he who marries young is tied later to an elderly wife; he who marries late in youth acquires venereal disease, and in age has to wear the horns. Woman must either sacrifice the bloom of her youth to a man already withered; or else must discover that to a still vigorous man she is no longer an object of desire. The institution we propose would cure all these troubles; the human race would lead happier lives. The objections are the following:

“As matters are at present, Duty and Nature are continually in conflict. For the man it is impossible from the beginning to the end of his career to satisfy his sexual impulse in a legal manner. Imagine his condition if he is widowed quite young. For the woman, to be limited to a single man during the short period of her full bloom and sexual capacity, is an unnatural condition. She has to preserve for the use of one individual what he is unable to utilize, and what many others eagerly desire from her; and she herself, in thus refusing, must curb her own desires. Just think of it!

“More especially we have to remember that always the number of men competent for sexual intercourse is double the number of functionally capable women, for which reason every woman must continually repel advances; she prepares for defence immediately a man comes near her.”

When we consider this suggestion of tetragamy of Schopenhauer’s from our own standpoint, we find an accurate exposition of the evils arising from monogamic coercive marriage, and a clear-sighted presentation of the physiological disharmonies of the sexual life arising from the difference between man and woman, upon which recently Metchnikoff also has laid so much stress. In other respects Schopenhauer’s views are for us not open to discussion, for, as already pointed out, he regards woman from the first simply as a chattel, and denies to her any[248] individuality or soul; and, secondly, because he rejects the principle of the only-love—a principle so intimately associated with the idea of woman as individual. For the watchword of the future must be: Free love, based upon the only-love! and, indeed, the only-love manifesting itself reciprocally in the full struggle for existence.

For this reason, also, the characteristic free love of the Bohemians of Paris during the second half of the nineteenth century, and more especially during the period 1830 to 1860, can only be regarded as a truly poetic love-idyll, when compared with that grand and earnest love consecrated wholly to work, and to the inward spiritual development which presents itself to modern humanity as an ideal love, as the united conquest of existence. Grisette love, which Sebastian Mercier described with great force, and which found its classic representation in Henry Murger’s “Vie de Bohème,” was characterized by the enduring life-in-common of the loving couples, who belonged for the most part to the circle of artists and students. Thus it stood high as heaven above our modern “intimacy,” which, for the most part, has a quite transitory character; and yet the Bohemian free love corresponded in no way to the conception and ideal of free love as a community of spirit and of life.

The development of modern civilization, in association with the awakening of individualism, and with the economic revolution of our time, has created entirely new foundations for sexual relationships, and has made continually more apparent the injurious and destructive effects of our long outworn sexual morality. These changes have taught us to understand that in the so-called social question the sexual problem possesses as much importance as the economic problem—perhaps more. They have shown us the necessity for a new love of the future, for the reason that to cling to the old, outlived forms would be equivalent to a continuous increase in sexual corruption in the widest sense of the word, combined with a general disease contamination of civilized nations—as the threatening spread of prostitution, and more especially of secret prostitution, and the increased diffusion of venereal diseases, demonstrate before our eyes.

Almost at the same time, during recent years, among the various civilized nations of Europe there have originated efforts for a radical transformation of conventional sexual morality, and for a reform, adapted to modern conditions, of marriage and of the entire amatory life. In France, England, Sweden, and Germany, writers have appeared, producing books, many of[249] which have been important, full of matter, and comprehensive, entirely devoted to this object. Societies for marriage reform and sexual reform have been founded in North America, France, Austria, and Germany; parliamentary commissions for the investigation of these questions have been established. Several newspapers have been founded for the reform of sexual ethics. In short, a general interest has been aroused in this central question of life, and theoretical and practical activity have been directed towards its solution.

All at once, as if by general agreement, civilized humanity asked itself the earnest and solemn question, How was it possible that to hundreds and thousands the simple right to love was refused, so that they were condemned to a joyless existence, in which all the beautiful blossoms of life withered away; that hundreds of thousands of others were condemned to the hideous misery of prostitution; that, finally, the community at large was delivered up in ever-increasing degree to devastation by venereal diseases and their consequences?

How is it possible, asks Karl Federn, in the preface to his translation of Carpenter’s “Wenn die Menschen reif zur Liebe werden” (“Love’s Coming-of-Age”)—how is it possible that we sing love-songs, and yet have an amatory life like that which we lead to-day, and have a moral doctrine such as that which is dominant to-day?

All honour to the men and women who have dared to give an answer to these questions, who have opposed conventional lies with the truth of love, and who point out the new way along which mankind will go—will go, because it must.

It is impossible here to mention by name all the writings dealing with the reform of sexual relationships which have appeared within recent years. Their name is legion. We must content ourselves with an allusion to those books which most of all deserve the name of epoch-making, which have aroused the interest of the community, and which may probably be said to have first stimulated the discussion of the problem, and to have been principally effective in starting the flowing current of reform.

In France, Charles Albert has treated the problem of free love from the communistic standpoint.[198] In the first two chapters of his book, he describes the development of the primitive sexual[250] impulse, to become the most supreme individual love, and then gives an interesting account of the struggle of middle-class society against love, which to-day is endangered to an equal extent both by the state and by capital.

“Capitalistic society represents one fact, love another. It suffices to place them one beside the other in order to notice how sharp a contrast there is between them, an eternal state of war.”

It is only money that dominates the thought and feeling of modern humanity; for love and its idealism there is no longer any room; social economy recognizes only a sexual relationship, but not the higher feeling of love. Capital subjects the whole of the sexual life to its laws. In prostitution this great social crime finds its conclusion. The majority of marriages are nothing more than “sexual bargains.”

Free love is simply love liberated from the dominion of the state and of capital. It can, therefore, be realized only by an economic revolution, which will put an end to the economic struggle for existence. Free love means the independence of the sexual from the material life. Economic reform is the only way to the higher love. This is the author’s conviction. But he is not subject to any deceptive delusion that with this all will become beautiful and good; with this all problems will be solved, all incompleteness at an end.

“We do not,” Albert continues, “regard the province of the sexual life in the society of the future as an Eden, wherein those individuals best suited one to the other will come together with mathematical certainty, to lead a cloudless existence. Just as to-day, there will be unrequited love, uncertain search and endeavour, errors and deceptions, misunderstandings, satiety, aberrations, and sorrows. However great the material prosperity may be which mankind in the future will enjoy, the life of feeling will always remain the source of incalculable disturbances, and love will not be the rarest cause of such disturbances; but still a large proportion of the existing causes of pain can and must disappear.”

The indispensable preliminary to free love is the complete equality of man and woman. This, however, can only be attained by means of communism—that is to say, by that ordering of society in which property and wages cease to exist, in which not only the means of production, but also all the articles of consumption, are appropriated to the common use, and woman will no longer possess a commercial value, as she does at the present day.


Like Albert, Ladislaus Gumplowicz[199] also believes that free love can only be realized in a collectivist community.

However important it is to draw attention to the economic point of view, as was done before Albert and Gumplowicz by Bebel, in his celebrated “Woman and Socialism” (thirty-fourth edition, Stuttgart, 1903), still, it appears to me that the communistic solution is not the only possible solution, and that free love can very well be associated with the preservation of private property.[200]

While the progressive changes in the economic structure of society powerfully influence sexual relationships and lay down the rules for their existing forms, still, physiological individual factors play a great part also in the matter. The first to insist on this fact were the Englishman Carpenter and the Swedish writer Ellen Key.[201]

Edward Carpenter,[202] at one time a priest in the Anglican Church, in his study of the question of free love, without ignoring the economic factor, lays stress above all on the psychical factor, the inward spiritual relationship between man and wife.

He writes (op. cit., p. 120):

“It is in the very nature of Love that as it realizes its own aim it should rivet always more and more towards a durable and distinct relationship, nor rest till the permanent mate and equal is found. As human beings progress, their relations to each other must become much more definite and distinct, instead of less so—and there is no likelihood of society in its onward march lapsing backwards, so to speak, to formlessness again.”

Above all, Carpenter has introduced into the discussion of free love an element which to me appears of great importance from[252] the medical standpoint: the question of relative asceticism, of self-control. He rightly considers that the duty of the love of the future does not subsist merely in the common physical union, but also in spiritual procreation. From the intimate spiritual contact between two differentiated personalities, the highest spiritual values proceed. Only self-control leads us to this highest love.

“It is a matter of common experience that the unrestrained outlet of merely physical desire leaves the nature drained of its higher love-forces.... Any one who has once realized how glorious a thing Love is in its essence, and how indestructible, will hardly need to call anything that leads to it a sacrifice” (op. cit., pp. 7, 8).

The indispensable prerequisites to the reform of love and marriage are, according to Carpenter, the following (op. cit., p. 100):

(1) The furtherance of the freedom and self-dependence of women. (2) The provision of some rational teaching, of heart and of head, for both sexes during the period of youth. (3) The recognition in marriage itself of a freer, more companionable, and less pettily exclusive relationship. (4) The abrogation or modification of the present odious law which binds people together for life, without scruple, and in the most artificial and ill-assorted unions.

Carpenter accepts Letourneau’s view, that, in a more or less distant future, the institution of marriage will undergo transformation into monogamic unions, freely entered on, and when necessary freely dissolved, by simple mutual consent, as is already done in several European countries—in Canton Geneva, in Belgium, in Roumania, as regards divorce; and in Italy as regards separation. State and society should take part in the matter only so far as the safety of the children demands, concerning whom more extensive duties should be expected from the parents. Carpenter also points out, as was shown seventy years ago by Gutzkow, that, as regards the development of the children, it is better, in unhappy marriages, that their parents should separate than that the children should grow up amid the miseries of such marriages.

“Love”—thus Carpenter concludes his dissertation on marriage in the future—“is doubtless the last and most difficult lesson that humanity has to learn; in a sense, it underlies all the others. Perhaps the time has come for the modern nations when, ceasing to be children, they may even try to learn it” (op. cit., p. 113).


A greater vogue even than Carpenter’s book had was obtained by the essays of the Swedish writer Ellen Key, “Love and Marriage,” which in 1894 appeared in a German translation,[203] and had an unusual success in the book-market. It is without exception the most interesting and pregnant work on the sexual question which has ever appeared. Written from the heart, and inspired by the observations of a free and lofty spirit, it avoids none of the numerous difficulties and by-paths in this department of thought; and the reproach of libertinism which has been cast at the author must be emphatically rejected. Ellen Key is the most outspoken realist of all the writers on the subject of free love. She takes her arguments from actual life; she associates her ideas of reform always with the real; she writes as an earnest evolutionist. Thus, in her book, her first aim is to establish “the course of the evolution of sexual morality” and the “evolution of love.”

Ellen Key starts from the fact that no one has ever offered any proof that monogamy is that form of the sexual life which is indispensable to the vital force and civilization of the nations. Even among the Christian nations it has never yet really existed, and its legalization as the only permissible form of sexual morality has hitherto been rather harmful than helpful to general morality.

The writer then develops the idea, no less beautiful than true, that the genuine character of love can be proved only by the lovers actually living together for a considerable time; only thus is it possible to demonstrate that it is moral for them to live together, and that their union will have an elevating influence on themselves and their generation. Consequently, of no conjugal relationship can we beforehand affirm or deny its success. Every new pair, whatever form they may have chosen for their common life, must first of all prove for themselves that they are morally justified in living together.

Ellen Key then proceeds to maintain a view, which I myself also regard as an integral constituent of the programme of the love of the future, and one which I have advanced in earlier writings: that love is not merely, as Schopenhauer thought, an affair of the species, but is, at least in equal degree, the concern of the loving individuals. This is the result and the meaning of civilization, which, as I have proved in earlier chapters, exhibits a progressive individualization and an increasing spiritual enrichment of love (the “spiritualized sensuality” of Ellen Key), and[254] thus gives to love a thoroughly independent importance for each individual.

“In view of the manner in which civilization has now developed personal love, this latter has become so composite, so comprehensive and far-reaching, that not only in and by itself—independently of the species—does it constitute a great life-value, but it also increases or diminishes all other values. In addition to its primitive importance, it has gained a new significance: to carry the flame of life from sex to sex. No one names that person immoral who, deceived in his love, abstains in his married life from procreating the species; that husband and wife also we shall not call immoral, who continue their married life rendered happy by love, although their marriage has proved childless. But in both cases these human beings follow their subjective feelings at the expense of the future generations, and treat their love as an independent aim. The right already recognized in these individual cases, as belonging to the individual at the expense of the species, will continue to undergo enlargement in proportion as the importance of love continues to increase. On the other hand, the new morality will demand from love an ever-increasing voluntary limitation of rights at those times when the growth of a new life renders it necessary. It will also demand a voluntary or enforced renunciation of the right to procreate new life under conditions which would make this new life deficient in value.”

Ellen Key terms this new, modern love “erotic monism,” because it comprehends the entire unitary personality, including the spiritual being, not merely the body. George Sand gave the first definition of this love as being of such a kind that “neither had the soul betrayed the senses, nor had the senses betrayed the soul.”

This erotic monism proclaims as its indestructible foundation the unity of marriage and love.

The idea of unity gives to the human being the right to arrange his sexual life according to his personal wishes, subject to the condition that he does not consciously injure the unity, and therewith, mediately or immediately, the right, of possible posterity.

Thus, according to Ellen Key, love “will continually become to a greater extent a private affair of human beings, whilst children, on the contrary, will become more and more a vital problem of society.” From this it follows that the two “most debased and socially sanctioned manifestations of sexual subdivision (of dualism), coercive marriage and prostitution, will gradually become impossible, because, after the victory of the idea of unity, they will cease to correspond to human needs.”

Ellen Key rightly insists that among the young men of the present day there is an increasing hostility to socially protected[255] immorality (both in the form of coercive marriage and in that of prostitution); whilst they increasingly exhibit a monistic yearning for love. The general diffusion, which we shall describe at length in a special chapter, of ascetic moods and of misogyny among men and of misandry among women, is partly connected with the feeling that the present social forms of the sexual relationship limit to an equal extent the worth and the freedom of mankind.

To-day the “purity fanatics and the frantic sensualists” meet in common mistrust of the developmental possibilities of love, because they do not believe in the possible ennoblement of the blind natural impulse. In contrast to these, Ellen Key reminds us of the fact of the “mystical yearning for perfection, which in the course of evolution has raised impulse to become passion, and passion to become love, and which is now striving to raise love to an ever greater love.”

We must recognize love as the spiritual force of life. Love, like the artist, like the man of science, has a right to the peculiar, original activity of its own poietic force, to the production of new spiritual values. The more perfect race that is to come must, in the fullest meaning of the words, be brought forth by love.

For this, however, the indispensable preliminary is the inward freedom of love; the free-love union is the watchword of the future. Ellen Key also shows that among the lower classes free love has long been customary, and that there the dangerous utilization of prostitution is far more limited than among the higher classes, with which view Blaschko’s statistical data regarding the far greater diffusion of venereal diseases among the higher classes of society are in substantial agreement.

No less indispensable to free love, however, is the full, mature development of the loving individual. For this reason, Ellen Key demands self-control and sexual continence at least until the age of twenty years. She regards the indiscriminate sexual intercourse which is to-day an established custom among all young men as the murder of love. But too early marriages are no less dangerous. She demands for the woman at least an age of twenty; for the man, an age of twenty-five years; and until these respective ages are attained, sexual continence should be observed as fully as possible by both sexes.

This self-command is good for the physical development, “steels the will, gives the joy of power to the personality; and these qualities are later of importance in all other spheres of activity.[256]

With wonderful beauty, Ellen Key describes the happiness of the power of waiting in love, and quotes in this connexion the lovely phrases of the Swedish poet Karlfeldt:

“There is nothing on earth like the times of waiting,
The days of springtime, the days of blossoming;
Not even May can diffuse a light
Like the clear light of April.”

On the other hand, it is a demand of true morality that healthy men and women between the ages of twenty and thirty years should enjoy the possibility of marriage—of free marriage. This possibility can, however, be secured only by economic reforms.

The author then considers the very important point of love’s choice, and demands above all the compulsory provision of a medical certificate of health before entering on marriage.

“It is absolutely beyond question that the healthy self-seeking which wishes to safeguard the personal ego, in conjunction with the increasing valuation of a healthy posterity, will hinder the contraction of many unsuitable marriages. In other cases, love might overcome these considerations, as far as husband and wife are themselves concerned; but they must then renounce parentage. In those cases, on the contrary, in which the law would distinctly forbid marriage, one could naturally not prevent the sick persons from procreating independently of marriage; but the same is true of all laws: the best do not need them, the worst do not obey them, but the majority are guided by them in the formation and development of their ideas of what is right.”

As immoral, Ellen Key indicates:

“Parentage without love.

“Irresponsible parentage.

“Parentage on the part of immature or degenerate human beings.

“Voluntary unfertility on the part of a married pair who are competent to reproduce their kind.

“All manifestations of the sexual life resulting from force or seduction, or from the disinclination or the incapacity for the proper fulfilment of sexual intercourse.”

It is interesting to note that Ellen Key prophesies as the result of the progressive improvement of the species by love’s selection, the attainment of a state wherein every man and every woman will be suited for the reproduction of the species. Then would the ideal of monogamy, one husband for one wife, one wife for one husband, be for the first time realized.

Very beautifully, and with a prudent insight into the actual relationships, Ellen Key discusses the question of the “right to motherhood,” where she finds occasion to describe the new and[257] very various types of women which the evolution of modern life has brought into being. She recognizes only with reservation the general right to motherhood, but she does not regard it as a desirable example to follow when a woman becomes a mother without love, either in marriage or out of it. It is not right to do what is generally done to-day by the man-haters—namely, to demand from the majority of unmarried women that they should produce a child without love. This should not even happen when love exists, but a permanent life-in-common with the father of the child is impossible. An unmarried woman who determines on motherhood should be fully mature, and already have behind her “the second springtime” of her life; she must “not only be pure as snow, pure as fire, but also must be possessed of the full conviction that with the child of her love she will produce a radiance in her own life and will endow humanity with new wealth.”

Such an unmarried woman really makes a present of her child to humanity, and is quite different from the unmarried woman who “has a child.”

Indeed, for the majority, the ideal always remains that of the ancient proverb, that man is only half a human being, woman only half; and only the father and the mother with their child become a whole one!

With regard to divorce, Ellen Key demands that it should be perfectly free, and should depend only upon the definite desire, held for a certain lapse of time, of either or both parties. The dissolution of marriage must be no less easy than the breaking off of an engagement.

“Whatever drawbacks,” she says, “free divorce may involve, they can hardly be worse than those which marriage has entailed, and still continues to entail. Marriage has been degraded to the coarsest sexual customs, the most shameless practices, the most distressing spiritual murders, the most cruel ill-treatment, and the grossest impairment of personal freedom, that any province of modern life has exhibited! One need not go back to the history of civilization; one need simply turn to the physician and magistrate, in order to learn for what purpose the ‘sacrament of marriage’ is employed, and frequently employed by the very same men and women who are professed enthusiasts as to its moral value!”

Just as little as the relations between friends, between parents and children, or between brothers and sisters, necessarily give rise to lasting sentiments of affection, is it possible to expect this of two lovers. The “marriage fetters,” described with such horrible truth by John Stuart Mill and Björnstjerne Björnsen,[258] are to-day felt to be intolerable. The love of the modern man flourishes only in freedom.

“The delicate erotic sentiment of the present day shrinks from becoming a fetter; it shuns the possibility of becoming a hindrance.”

Free divorce, in a case of unhappy marriage, is no less necessary when there are children to the marriage. The duties of the parents to the children remain in such cases unaltered, without, however, thus rendering it necessary that the parents should continue to live together. For the sorrows of such a union, and the harm done thereby to the children, are greater than those that would result from divorce.

Human love has its phases of development. It does not remain for ever the same, but it alters pari passu with the evolution of the individual. Lifelong love is an ideal, but it is not a duty. Such a demand would as inevitably destroy personality as would the demand for the unconditional belief in a doctrine, or for the unconditional pursuit of a profession.

Very interesting is Ellen Key’s description of the numerous disillusions of love, which become still more perceptible in a coercive marriage. There is a whole series of “typical unhappy fates” in marriage, often with no blame properly attaching to either party, dependent merely upon incompatibility of temperament, but also upon faults of one or both parties to the marriage.

Frequently a man or a woman of a thoroughly sympathetic temperament lives with a woman or a man of such faultless excellence that the home seems filled with icicles. One day the husband or the wife runs away because the air has become so thin as to be irrespirable. The general sentiment is one of commiseration for the—superlatively excellent man or woman!

In the case of earnest, mature human beings, free divorce will not increase the number of dissolutions of marriage. On the contrary, the obligations imposed by a free relationship are greater than those of legal coercive marriage. The fear also that with the granting of free divorce every one will enter upon numerous free marriages one after another is groundless. It is precisely those who are united in free love to whom such a separation, when it does become necessary, is so profoundly painful, that life itself forbids the frequent repetition of such unhappiness.

Very beautiful, and based upon lofty ethical conceptions, are the writer’s views regarding the necessity for divorce precisely in view of the existence of children. She says:


“Men and women of earlier times went on patching up for ever and ever. The psychologically developed generation of to-day is more inclined to let the broken remain broken. For, except in those cases in which objective misfortunes, or a retarded evolution, gave rise to a rupture, patched-up marriage, like patched-up engagements, seldom prove durable. Often it was owing to profound instincts that the rupture became inevitable; reconciliations fortify these instincts, and sooner or later they once more find free vent.

“Thus it happens that even an exceptional nature is strained by the burden it has to bear, and the children are not then witnesses of their parents living together, but of their dying together.

“Neither religion nor law, neither society nor a family, can determine what it is that marriage is killing in a man, or what he finds it possible to rescue in that state—he himself alone knows the one and suspects the other. He alone can delineate the boundaries, can decide whether he is satisfied to regard his own existence as closed, and to remain contented in the life of his children; whether he is able so to endure the sorrows of a continued married life with such fortitude as to make it increase his own powers and those of his children.”

The conviction of the rights of love, and the consciousness of the rights of the children, are to-day unmistakably on the increase. There is no danger that the latter right, the right of the children, will suffer in comparison with the rights of love. It is, on the contrary, characteristic, that out of the very same feeling by which the freer configuration of the amatory life is demanded, there has also arisen a new programme of the rights of children. This same Ellen Key who proclaims the inalienable rights of free love, speaks also of the “century of the child,” and devotes to this subject an admirable book.

The most important point with regard to free divorce, in respect to the children, is that the father and the mother must not separate from one another in hatred, but in friendship, and that, in the interest of the children, they should continue to meet one another from time to time. Ellen Key here rightly condemns the conduct of the good friends and relatives who simply lay down the law that the separated pair must hate one another, and must in every relationship torment and cheat one another. It is precisely such “enmity” of the parents after divorce that is so full of bad consequences in respect of the children.

We also have to consider this point of view, that sometimes the new husband or the new wife has a better influence over the children than their own parents, and that in this way divorce may have brought the children greater happiness, may have been for them a true blessing.

The closing chapter of her work is devoted by Ellen Key to the formulation of practical recommendations regarding the new[260] marriage laws. She indicates as a starting-point of her dissertation that the ideal form of marriage is the perfectly free union between a man and a woman. But this ideal can in the meanwhile only be attained through transitional forms. In this the opinion of society regarding the morality of the sexual relationship must find expression, and thus remain as the support for undeveloped personalities; but at the same time, these transitional forms must be sufficiently free to favour a progressive development of the higher erotic consciousness of the present day.

There always remains, therefore, the necessity for laws, to some extent limiting individual freedom; but these laws must admit of an advance towards perfection in respect of the freer gratification of individual needs. The sense of solidarity demands a new marriage law adapted to new modern erotic needs, since the majority are not yet prepared for complete freedom. But it is only the needs of modern civilized human beings, and not abstract theories concerning the idea of the family or the “historic origin” of marriage, that should be determinative in this matter.

In the marriage of the future, above all, the economic and legal subordination of woman must be abolished. Woman must supervise her own property and arrange her own work, and she must in the main care for herself in so far as this is compatible with her maternal duties. She must, however, have this assurance—that during the first years of the life of every child she shall be cared for by society, and this under the following conditions:

She must be of full age.

She must have performed her feminine “military service” by a one year’s course of instruction in the care of children, in the general care of health, and, whenever possible, in sick-nursing.

She must either care for her child herself or provide another thoroughly competent nurse.

She must bring proof that she does not possess sufficient personal property, or sufficient income from her work, in order to provide for her own support and half of her child’s support, or else that the care for her children compels her to discontinue her professional occupation.

Only in exceptional cases should this support of motherhood be provided for a longer time than during the three first and most important years of the life of the child.

The funds for this most necessary of all kinds of insurance must be provided in the form of a graduated income tax, graduated so as to make the wealthier classes pay the most, and the unmarried should pay just as much as the married.


In every community the central authorities of this insurance should consist of “boards for the care of children.” The members of these boards should be two-thirds women and one-third men; they should distribute the funds and supervise the care of the infants and older children; in cases in which the mother was not properly fulfilling her duties to the child, they could cut off supplies, or remove the child from the mother’s care.

The mother should receive yearly the same sum, but, in addition, she should receive for each child half of the cost of its support, as long as the number of children is not exceeded which the society has laid down as desirable. Children born in excess of this number would be a private concern of the parents. Every father must, from the time of birth until the child attains the age of eighteen years, provide one-half of the money needed for its support.

The existing immoral distinction between legitimate and illegitimate children is practically equivalent to freeing unmarried fathers from their natural responsibility, and drives unmarried mothers to death, prostitution, or infanticide.

All this would be done away with by a law ensuring from the State support for the mother during the first, most difficult years, and ensuring the child a right to support from both parents, a right also to the name of both, and to inheritance from both.

Legal expression is also demanded for the right of each member of a married couple to possess his or her property; those who wish to make any other arrangement can do so by special contract after a definite valuation of their property. And in respect of the right of inheritance, the domestic work of the wife (housekeeping and the care of the children) must receive due economic consideration—a matter hitherto ignored. Not only in respect of her property, but also in respect of all civil rights, and of the right of control over her own person, the married woman must be placed in the same position as the unmarried.

Ellen Key’s remarks on the removal of the coercion exercised at present on husband and wife in respect of living together are very interesting. She writes:

“There are persons who would have continued to love one another throughout the whole of their life had they not been compelled—day after day, year after year—to adapt their customs, their volitions, and their inclinations entirely according to one another’s tastes. So much unhappiness depends, indeed, upon matters of almost no importance, difficulties which two human beings endowed with moral courage and insight would easily have overcome, had it not been that the instinct towards happiness was overpowered by regard for ordinary[262] opinion. The more personal freedom a woman (or man) has had before marriage, the more does she (or he) suffer in a home in which she does not possess an hour or a corner for her own undisturbed use. And the more the modern human being gains an increase in his individual freedom of movement, the more he feels the need for privacy in other relations, the more also will man and wife need these things in the married state....

“But at present custom (and law) demand from the married pair that they should lead a life in common, which often ends in a permanent separation, merely because conventional considerations prevented them from living apart!

“Also for those otherwise constituted, the narrow dependence, the compulsory belonging each to the other, the daily adaptation, the unceasing mutual consideration, may become oppressive. In continually increasing numbers people are beginning quietly to transform conjugal customs, so that they may correspond to the new needs. For instance, each goes for a journey by himself, when he feels the need for privacy; one of the pair seeks alone pleasures which the other does not value; in former times both would have ‘enjoyed’ them together, against the will of one, or both would have renounced what one could have genuinely enjoyed. More and more married people have separate bedrooms, and after a generation, it is probable that separate dwelling-houses for husband and wife will be sufficiently common to arouse no particular attention.”

With regard to the question of personal freedom in marriage, Ellen Key takes into account the possibility of marriage being kept secret on urgent grounds; also the introduction of new forms of divorce, the present procedure giving rise to such detestable practices in the law-courts—for example, the detailed statement of the grounds for divorce, or an account of the refusal or the misuse of “conjugal rights,” or an account of the malicious desertion of one party by the other.

The author, therefore, makes proposals for a new marriage law and a new divorce law.

As conditions preliminary to marriage, the new law should insist—

That man and wife should be of full age;

That neither should be more than twenty-five years older than the other;

That neither should be closely related or connected with the other, as the present law already forbids. The new law must in this respect be modified in the sense either of greater severity or of relaxation, according as the scientific knowledge of the future may direct.

Finally, neither party should simultaneously enter upon another marriage. On both parties will be imposed the duty of providing a medical certificate regarding the state of their[263] health; a proposed marriage must be forbidden when either party is suffering from a disease transmissible to the children (also when suffering from a disease which would infect the other party?). With regard to other illnesses, the matter may be left to the free judgment of those wishing to be married.

Marriage will take place before the marriage assessor of the commune, and before four other witnesses, without any special ceremony; the contracting parties will enter their names in the register, and their signatures will be witnessed by those present. When for any reason the marriage is to be kept secret, the witnesses will, of course, be bound to secrecy.

This civil marriage is all that the law will direct; the religious ceremony will be a voluntary affair, and will have no legal force.

In marriage, husband and wife will retain all the personal rights which they had before marriage, over their bodies, their names, their property, their work, their wages, also the right to choose their own place of residence, and all other civil rights. For common expenses and debts they will have a common responsibility; whilst each will be personally responsible for personal expenditure and debts. In case of divorce, each will retain his or her property. In the event of death, the widower or widow will inherit half the property, the remainder going to the children.

For divorce, Ellen Key suggests there should be a “council of divorce,” consisting of four persons, men or women. The first aim of this council will be, somewhat like that of a court of honour before a duel, to attempt to reconcile the parties, to adjust any cause of quarrel. If this attempt fails, the matter must go before the marriage assessor of the commune; but this cannot take place until the expiration of six months from the time when it was brought before the council of divorce. The council of divorce must testify before the assessor that six months before each party was fully informed regarding the wish of the other that the marriage should be dissolved, and regarding the reasons for that wish. If there are no children, if a division of the property has been arranged, and if husband and wife have lived completely apart for one year, the divorce will be effected one year after the commencement of proceedings. When there are children to the marriage, there will be needed a special “jury for the care of children” to deal with the custody of the children. If either party is found by the jury and the judge to be unworthy for or incapable of the custody of the children, on the ground of his (or her) morals or character, he (or she) loses his (or her) rights. If either father or mother is deprived of the custody of[264] the children, a guardian must be appointed—a man to represent the father, a woman to represent the mother—and this guardian will supervise the education of the children in association with the remaining parent. If both parents are found to be unfitted for the custody of the children, the education of the latter must be supervised by a guardian only. If both parents are equally fitted and worthy for the custody of the children, the latter should remain with the mother until the age of fifteen, and would then have the right to choose between their parents.

Ellen Key demands severe laws against the seduction and abandonment of girls under age, on the part of unconscientious men; and she considers that the witting transmission of any infective disorder by means of sexual intercourse should be punished by imprisonment for a minimum term of six months. Speaking generally, the law should always come to the assistance of the weaker party, above all, to the assistance of the children, and in most cases to the assistance of the mother.

Although the new marriage law is to give to adult citizens complete freedom to arrange their erotic relationships at their own responsibility and risk, with or without marriage, it remains necessary that double marriages (bigamy), sexual relationships within forbidden degrees, or on the part of persons suffering from transmissible disease, which the law has declared to be a hindrance to marriage, and also intercourse with persons under eighteen years of age, should be regarded as punishable offences. The same is true of homosexual and other perverse manifestations. The trial in such cases will be conducted by a judge, with the assistance of a jury of physicians and crimino-psychologists.

The writer does not believe that marriage will be transformed by legal changes in the way outlined above, but she is of opinion that what will happen is that “men and women will refuse to submit themselves to the unworthy forms of marriage, which will remain established by law, and will form free unions, the so-called ‘marriage of conscience,’” such as those which the Belgian sociologist Mesnil has recommended in his work, “Le Libre Mariage.”

It is, in fact, in Sweden, Ellen Key’s fatherland, in which these free marriages of conscience appear to have first obtained adherents. She records the free union of the professor of national economics at Lund, Knut Wicksell. Additional reports of free marriages in Sweden are given by the Swedish physician Anton Nyström.[204] He mentions among those who have formed free[265] unions, without legal or ecclesiastical ceremony, but simply by public notification, in addition to the already mentioned university professor, also the editor of a leading newspaper, a physician and doctor of philosophy, and a candidate of philosophy. The latter is engaged in study with his wife at the high school at Göteborg. In February, 1904, they made a public announcement in the newspaper that they were entering on a “marriage of conscience,” since they had a conscientious objection to the ecclesiastical form of marriage. The principal of the college wrote an address to the young couple, stating that, although this union was not entered upon on immoral grounds, and therefore could not be regarded as a punishable offence, still, such a free union, unrecognized by the State, between man and woman, was not compatible with the good order of society, that it was injurious to the general ethical conception of the sacramental character of marriage, and also constituted a dangerous example, which others might be led to imitate. The principal therefore urged the young people most earnestly “to place their union as soon as possible on a legitimate footing.” This exhortation, however, led to no result.

Moreover, the University of Upsala was more free-thinking than that of Göteborg, for the above-mentioned professor and his wife were, for a long time after they had become united in free love, matriculated students at the University of Upsala, and the university authorities favoured them with no attention with regard to this matter.

In recent years, the public declaration of “free marriages” has also found observance in other European countries. Thus, not long ago the author who writes under the pseudonym of “Roda-Roda” announced in the newspapers his free union with the Baroness von Zeppelin; and in the Vossische Zeitung, No. 410, September 2, 1906, we find the following announcement:

“Dr. Alfred Rahmer
Wilhelmine Ruth Rahmer
geb. Prinz-Flohr

Similar public announcements are reported from Holland. Moreover, according to Nyström, it has since 1734 been legally established in Sweden, that in certain cases engagement is equivalent to marriage—namely, when the engaged woman becomes pregnant. “When a man impregnates his fiancée, the engagement becomes a marriage.... If the man refuse to go through the[266] ceremony of marriage, and wishes to break off the engagement, the woman is legally declared to be his wife, and enjoys full conjugal rights in his house.” So runs this law.

We can predict with certainty that the adherents of free marriage, the number of “marriage protestants,” as Ellen Key happily calls them, will continue to increase. To such will belong all those who have an equal antipathy to coercive marriage, to the debasing intercourse with prostitutes, and to the transient casual love, such as is experienced in ordinary extra-conjugal sexual intercourse, the true “wild” love.

“It is only a question of time”—thus Ellen Key concludes her remarks on marriage reform—“when the respect felt by society for the sexual union will not depend upon the form of the life in common, by which two human beings become parents, but only on the worth of the children which these two are producing as new links in the chain of the generations. Men and women will then devote to their spiritual and physical preparation for sexual intercourse the same religious earnestness that the Christians devote to the welfare of their souls. No longer will divine laws regarding the morality of sexual relationships be considered the mainstay of morality; in place of these the desire to elevate the human race and a sense of personal responsibility will be the safeguards of conduct. But the conviction on the part of the parents that the purpose of life is also their own proper life—that is, that they do not exist only for the sake of children—should free them from certain other duties of conscience which at present bind them in respect of children—above all, from the duty of maintaining a union in which they themselves are perishing. The home will perhaps become more than it is at present; something at unity with the mother, something which—far from excluding the father—carries within itself the germ of a new and higher ‘family right.’...

“A greater and healthier will-to-live in respect of erotic feelings and demands—this it is that our time needs! Here from the feminine side real dangers threaten; and one of several ways in which these dangers must be averted is by the construction of new forms of marriage.

“Human material of ever higher worth and capable of higher evolution—it is this which in the first place we have to create. If we preserve coercive forms of the sexual life, the possibility of doing this is a diminishing one; if we adopt free forms of the sexual life, the possibility of doing it will increase. Not only because the present time asks for more freedom are its demands full of promise, but because those demands approximate ever more closely to the central point of the problem—to the conviction that love is the principal condition upon which depends the vital advance of the individual and of humanity at large.”

I have given such a lengthy analysis of Ellen Key’s book because, in the first place, in no other work do we find so lucid[267] an exposition of all the points needed for the consideration of the question of free love—an exposition based upon the richest experience of life and a really astonishing psychical knowledge of mankind, combined with the finest understanding of the subtle activities and sentiments of the loving soul; and, in the second place, because as an actual fact—at any rate, in Germany—this book has formed the true starting-point of all endeavours towards the reform of sexual morality. Ellen Key’s “Ueber Liebe und Ehe” (“Love and Marriage”) is a demonstration of human rights in the matter of love; it is the evangel for those who have determined to harmonize love with all the changes and advances attendant on the evolution of civilization, and have resolved not to allow the forcible retardation of progress by conditions which were perhaps still tolerable one hundred or two hundred years ago, but to-day are unconditionally hostile to civilization.

In Germany these endeavours have been centralized in the Bund für Mutterschutz (the Association for the Protection of Mothers), founded in the beginning of 1906, whose purpose it is to protect unmarried mothers and their children from economic and moral dangers, to counteract the dominant condemnation of such mothers, and thereby also indirectly to bring about the reform of the existing views on sexual morality. Those who initiated this most important movement were indeed high-minded women. I mention, among many, only the names of Ruth Bré, Helene Stöcker, Maria Lischnewska, Adele Schreiber, Gabriele Reuter, and Henriette Fürth.

By the preparatory committee to which Maria Lischnewska, Dr. Borgius, Dr. Max Marcuse, Ruth Bré, and Dr. Helene Stöcker belonged, a committee meeting was called on January 5, 1905, and the Association for the Protection of Mothers was founded, its programme having already received the support of a number of leading personalities from all parts of the German Empire.

In addition to this committee, to which, besides the above-named members of the preparatory committee, there belonged Lily Braun, Georg Hirth, and Werner Sombart, a further committee was formed, the members of which were: Alfred Blaschko, Iwan Bloch, Hugo Böttger, Lily Braun, Gräfin Gertrud Bülow von Dennewitz, M. G. Conrad, A. Damaschke, Hedwig Dohm, Frieda Duensing, Chr. v. Ehrenfels, A. Erkelenz, W. Erb, A. Eulenburg, Max Flesch, Flechsig, A. Forel, E. Francke, Henriette Fürth, Agnes Hacker, Hegar, Willy Hellpach, Clara Hirschberg,[268] Georg Hirth, Graf Paul von Hoensbroech, Bianca Israel, Josef Kohler, Landmann, Hans Leuss, Maria Lischnewska, R. von Liszt, Lucas, Max Marcuse, Mensinga, Bruno Meyer, H. Meyer, Metta Meinken, Klara Muche, Moesta, A. Moll, Müller, Friedrich Naumann, A. Neisser, Franz Oppenheimer, Pelman, Alfred Ploetz, Heinrich Potthoff, Lydia Rabinowitsch, Gabriele Reuter, Karl Ries, Adele Schreiber, Heinrich Sohnrey, Werner Sombart, Helene Stöcker, Marie Stritt, Irma von Troll-Borostyani, Max Weber, Bruno Wille, L. Wilser, L. Woltmann.

In the programme which the newly founded Association for the Protection of Mothers speedily published, we are told:

One hundred and eighty thousand illegitimate children are born in Germany every year, approximately one-tenth of all births. This important source of our strength as a people, children who at the time of birth are usually endowed with powerful vitality (for their parents are commonly in the bloom of youth and health), we allow to go to ruin because a rigorous moral view bans unmarried mothers, undermines their economic existence, and compels them to entrust their children for payment to strange hands.

The momentous consequences of this state of affairs are shown by the fact that the average number of still-births, in the case of illegitimate children, amounts to 5 per cent., as compared with 3 per cent. of still-births among the total number of births; the mortality of illegitimate children during the first year of life is 28·5 per cent., as compared with 16·7 per cent. for the mortality of all children born. And whilst only a diminishing percentage of illegitimate children ever become fitted for military service, the world of criminals, prostitutes, and vagabonds, is recruited to an alarming extent from their ranks. Thus, by unfounded moral prejudices, we produce artificially an army of enemies to society. At the same time the birth-rate of Germany is relatively declining. In the year 1876 the number of births per 1,000 living was 41; in the year 1900 it was only 3512!

To put an end to this robbery of the strength of our people is the aim of the

Association for the Protection of Mothers.

The attempt has already been made by means of crèches, foundling institutions, and the like, to deal with this matter. But the protection of children without the protection of mothers is, and must remain, no more than patchwork; for the mother is the principal source of life for the child, and is indispensable to the child’s prosperity. Whatever ensures rest and care to the mother in her most difficult hours, whatever secures her economic existence for the future, and protects her from the contempt of her fellow-beings, by which her health is endangered and her life embittered, will serve to provide a secure foundation for the bodily and mental prosperity of the child, and will simultaneously give the mother herself a stronger moral hold. Therefore the Association for the Protection of Mothers will, above[269] all, make the mothers’ position safe, by assisting them to the attainment of

Economic Independence

—especially such as are prepared to bring up their own children—by the formation in country and in town of

Homes for Mothers,

in which, in addition, arrangements will be made for the necessary care and upbringing of the children, the granting of legal protection, and the provision of medical aid. Experience has shown that such provision also corresponds to the wish of many of the fathers, and assists in retaining their help and interest for mother and child.

The Association will, however, above all, close the sources from which the present poverty of unmarried mothers arises, and these are more especially the moral prejudices which at the present day defame them socially, and the legal regulations which burden them almost exclusively with the economic care and responsibility for the child, and which entail on the father not at all, or in a quite insufficient degree, his contribution to the burden.

The Moral Defamation

of unmarried mothers would, perhaps, be comprehensible if we lived in economic and social conditions rendering it possible for every one to marry soon after attaining sexual maturity, so that the involuntary celibacy of adult persons was an abnormal state. In such a time as ours, however, in which no less than 45 per cent. of all women competent to bear children are unmarried, and those who actually marry do so for the most part at a comparatively late age, we must regard as untenable the view which considers the unmarried woman giving birth to a child to be an outcast, thrusts her out of society like the basest criminal, and gives her up to despair. Equally untenable appears

The Present-Day Legal View,

which, when the actual father has not gone through the forms prescribed by the State for a marriage, does not regard him as father in the legal sense, ascribes to him no relationship with the child procreated by him, and imposes on him no responsibility for the child or its mother, although in the majority of cases the mother is economically the weaker, and he himself economically the stronger party. There must, therefore, be a legal reform in the direction of equalizing as far as possible the position of the illegitimate and the legitimate child in relation to the father.

Finally, however, motherhood—legitimate and illegitimate alike—is a factor of such profound importance to society, that it appears urgently desirable not to leave it exclusively to private care, with all the results that private care entails. In the interest of the community it is desirable that there should be

A General Insurance of Motherhood,

the cost of which should be defrayed by contributions from both sexes, as well as supplemented by grants from public sources. This[270] assurance must not only suffice to provide for every woman sufficient medical assistance and skilled care during pregnancy and delivery, but should also furnish a provision for the education of the child until it is of an age to earn its own living.

In order to propagate these views and endeavours methodically and upon the widest possible foundation, the active assistance and participation of every class in the population is indispensable. We therefore urge on all those who share our views the pressing demand

to join the Association for the Protection of Mothers,

and thus to assist in securing and accelerating the attainment of these ends.

As the official organ of the Association, was chosen the monthly magazine, edited by Dr. Phil. Helene Stöcker, Mutterschutz: Zeitschrift zur Reform der Sexuellen Ethik (The Protection of Mothers: a Journal for the Reform of Sexual Ethics)—hitherto published in the year 1905 twelve numbers, in the year 1906 twelve numbers, and in the year 1907 three numbers.

The foundation of the Association was followed on February 26, 1905, by the holding of its first public meeting, in the Architektenhaus, under the presidency of Helene Stöcker; and the meeting was extensively attended by the general population of Berlin. The aims and endeavours of the new union were explained, in longer and shorter speeches, by Ruth Bré, Max Marcuse, Maria Lischnewska, Justizrat Sello, Helene Stöcker, Ellen Key, Lily Braun, Adele Schreiber, Iwan Bloch, and Bruno Meyer; and from the standpoint of the advocates of woman’s rights, of jurists, of physicians, of sociologists, and of moralists, in equal degree, a radical transformation and reform of the present untenable conditions was demanded.[205]

Soon afterwards, the Association proceeded to form local groups. The first was formed in Munich, where on March 28, 1905, the first local meeting took place. Frau Schönfliess, Margarethe Joachimsen-Böhm, Alfred Scheel, and Friedrich Bauer belonged to this committee. Further local groups were founded in Berlin (May 20, 1905—members of this committee, as distinct from the committee of the general Association: Finkelstein, Galli, Agnes Hacker, Albert Kohn, Bruno Meyer, Adele Schreiber), and in Hamburg (president, Regina Ruben).[206]


The first general meeting (cf. Helene Stöcker, “Our First General Meeting,” published in Mutterschutz, 1907, No. 2) took place in Berlin, January 12 to 14. After speeches on the practical protection of mothers (Maria Lischnewska), the present-day form of marriage (Helene Stöcker), prostitution and illegitimacy (Max Flesch), limitation of marriages by economic conditions (Adele Schreiber), limitation of marriage by hygienic factors (Max Marcuse), the position of the illegitimate child (Böhmert and Ottmar Spann), the insurance of motherhood (Mayet), there followed animated discussions, and various important resolutions were passed, dealing with the equality of husband and wife in married life, the legal recognition of free marriages, and of the offspring of such marriages, the necessity for the provision of certificates of health before the conclusion of marriage, the means to be employed in the care of illegitimate children, and the insurance of motherhood. Especially noteworthy was the address of the leading medical statistician, Professor Mayet, regarding the introduction and management of the insurance of motherhood. At his suggestion, proposals followed regarding the enrolling of working-class members in the societies for insurance against illness and for the insurance of motherhood, the necessity for contributions on the part of the State, the inclusion of the agricultural and forest labourers, and of domestic servants of all kinds, in the schemes of insurance against illness and the insurance of motherhood, the possibility of a voluntary insurance of all women, what could be effected by the insurance of motherhood (free provision of midwives and medical assistance, free lodging in case of need, the provision of premiums for mothers suckling their own children, the institution of places where advice could be given to mothers, of homes for women during pregnancy and child-birth, and homes for women and infants), and the further development of factory legislation with regard to nursing mothers. The committee for 1907 was chosen: it consisted of Helene Stöcker, Maria Lischnewska, Adele Schreiber, Wilhelm Brandt, Iwan Bloch, Max Marcuse, Heinrich Finkelstein.

In the end of January, 1907, an Austrian Association for the Protection of Mothers was founded in Vienna, under the presidency of Dr. Hugo Klein. To the committee of this Society there belong, Siegmund Freud, Rosa Mayreder, Marie Eugenie[272] delle Grazie, Professor Schauta, and about forty other well-known persons, physicians, lawyers, schoolmasters, and many women. In the meeting at which the Association was founded, Dr. Ofner spoke regarding the legal rights of illegitimate mothers and children, and Dr. Friedjung regarding the protection of nursing infants.

In the United States also an Association for sexual reform has been founded, the so-called “Umwertungsgesellschaft” (Revaluation Society), the principal aim of which is the complete re-estimation of all values in the amatory life, and the introduction of a more ideal view of love. The President of this American Association is Emil F. Ruedebusch; the secretary, Mrs. Lina Janssen; the meeting-place of the society is Mayville, in the State of Wisconsin. Regular evenings of discussion are fixed, on which questions of especial interest are debated.

[In Holland also an Association for the Protection of Mothers has been founded; its name is “Vereeniging Onderlinge Vrouwenbescherming.”]

In the newspaper Mutterschutz (1905, No. 9, pp. 375, 376), we find a report of the meeting of the American Association held on October 8, 1905, when the topic of discussion was:

What is the true nature of marriage?

The answer ran as follows:

Is it the family (parental) relationship?—No; for a married couple may have no children, may not desire to have children, and can, none the less, be thoroughly married.

Is it the common home, domestic life?—No; for husband and wife may live their whole life in a hotel, and, none the less, be thoroughly married.

Is it the lifelong community of material interests?—No; for man and wife can keep their property separate, if they wish to do so.

Is it mutual assistance and a state of comradeship throughout life?—No. When a conjugal union is the exact opposite to this, we speak of a bad husband and a bad wife; they are, none the less, man and wife.

Does it signify a contract for a lifelong exclusive love?—Certainly not; if marriage signified that, all Christians would be opposed to this institution. And yet these are the things which, according to the common estimation, make up the nature of marriage, whenever the question is discussed in a manner which is regarded as “respectable” and “decent.”—As a matter of fact, there is nothing respectable or decent in this mystification.

What is it, then, in which the true nature of marriage is to be found?—It is the possession of a human being for lifelong exclusive sexual service.

Very various views have prevailed on the question how many[273] human beings it is legitimate for one human being to employ for his exclusive sexual gratification, and among different nations, and at various times, the most widely divergent rules and regulations have prevailed regarding the mode of sexual possession, and, on the other hand, regarding the duties towards this sexual property; but wherever marriage has existed, it has signified a right of property in respect of sexual utilization.

If we oppose marriage, we mean that we oppose that which actually constitutes marriage according to morality, and according to written law, that which even the most enthusiastic advocates of this institution regard as so debasing that they are ashamed to name it openly.

But, with the exception of the matters relating to sexual service, we hold fast to and defend everything which is publicly considered as marriage, and we expect that in this case we shall be “faithful,” “constant,” and “trustworthy” in all circumstances. For, according to our view, these most important imponderabilia, and these intimate associations of interest between husband and wife, are not the inevitable result of the longing for physical enjoyment in common, but are the much-to-be-desired result of a well-considered longing for any one or all of the relations entering into the question. According to our view, however, the duration of this union, and constancy while it lasted, would not be dependent upon the activity of sexual desires.

A special Association for Sexual Reform was founded in Berlin in the year 1906, at the instance of the editor of the Die Schönheit, Karl Vanselow. It is an Association of cultured men and women who also have in view the formation of local groups, and the delivery of artistic and scientific lectures in furtherance of their movement for reform.

In the above-mentioned monthly magazine, Mutterschutz, edited by Helene Stöcker, all the modern problems of love, marriage, friendship, parentage, prostitution, and all the associated problems of morality, and of the entire sexual life, are discussed from their philosophical, historical, legal, medical, social, and ethical aspects.

The editor herself, a talented disciple of Nietzsche, has since the year 1893 been chiefly occupied in the study of the psychological and ethical aspects of the problems of higher love, and has recently published her collected writings on this subject in a single volume.[207]

It is an interesting literary physiognomy which is offered to us in this book; we encounter here a lofty, free, and pure conception of the love of the future. After the first spiritual wanderings[274] and confusions, which no one in emotional pursuit of the ideal can escape, we see this courageous and undismayed advocate of the eternal, inalienable rights of love, ultimately insisting on the recognition of the lofty mission of love, in accordance with the saying of Nietzsche, which she lovingly quotes: “Ye shall not propagate onwards, but upwards!” (“Nicht fort sollt Ihr Euch pflanzen, sondern hinauf!”). She especially insists on the duty and responsibility of individual love. No one can take a more earnest view of love than is taken here. Helene Stöcker is throughout no radical revolutionist, but an evolutionist and reformer. She sees quite clearly that to-day there is no panacea, no unfailing solution of sexual problems. While she energetically contests the old sexual morality, and demands its replacement by a new freer conception of sexual relationships, she, none the less, recognizes throughout the significance and the value of self-command, of relative asceticism, the wonderful influence of which, in the deepening of emotional life, she has most rightly emphasized. Especially the soul of woman, she believes, has by the asceticism imposed on women by conventional morality, gained in a high degree, depth, fulness, and comprehensiveness. The inward development of woman will be greatly advantaged by the newer valuation of love. This will be characterized, neither by an arid renunciation and denial of life, nor by a coarse, egoistic search for pleasure, but by a joyful affirmation of life and all its healthy powers and impulses.

Whilst Helene Stocker has laid especial stress upon the psychological and ethical relationships of free love, its equal importance from economical and social points of view has been discussed by Friedrich Naumann,[208] W. Borgius,[209] Lily Braun,[210] Maria Lischnewska,[211] and Henriette Fürth.[212]

Naumann rightly draws attention to the fact that our purely monetary economic system is favourable to the production of sterility, for the reason that in this system motherhood is equivalent to loss of money, because the wife ceases to earn money in a degree proportionate to the extent to which she becomes a mother. The burden of the upbringing of children must be made[275] an affair of the community. At the present time, on the contrary, the producer of human beings is burdened upon all sides. He who has children has more rent to pay, and increased school expenses. Therefore, Naumann demands, as a first step to the recognition of the fact that it is a public duty to educate children, that school expenses shall no longer be demanded from the individual parent. Above all, however, it must be made easier to the wife to be a mother.

The wife as a personality demands her right to work, and her right to motherhood. The fact of the compulsory celibacy of an ever-increasing number of women competent to become mothers is the problem which here demands solution. According to the census of 1900, there were in Germany no less than 4,210,955 women between the ages of eighteen and forty years unmarried, the total number of women of corresponding age being 9,568,659—that is, 44 per cent. were unmarried. Among these there were 2,830,538 between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five years, the period most suitable to child-bearing, the total number of women of corresponding age being 3,593,644—that is, no less than 78 per cent. According to Lily Braun, there remain from 2,000,000 to 2,500,000 German women permanently unmarried; and we may expect the number of female celibates to increase. The economic conditions, the previously described unhealthy conditions of coercive marriage, and the efforts of women for emancipation, have a combined influence hostile to marriage. On the other hand, law and conventional morality co-operate in making life a martyrdom for the unmarried mother and for the illegitimate child.[213]

The woman who becomes a mother, when united only in the bonds of free love, is at the present day defamed, despised, a being without rights. The question of “maintenance” is a scandal of our time! It is the proof of the degree to which most men are devoid of conscience. An experienced lawyer has very forcibly described the intolerable conditions which at present obtain in this matter.[214] He published the following characteristic letter from a young master-butcher, which shows how meanly[276] even a simple-minded man may endeavour to escape the duty of maintenance. The letter runs:

Dear Dora,

“I wanted to come round to-day, and wished to deal with the matter by word of mouth, but I can’t do it, and so I must write to tell you that we cannot marry, for, in fact, I have now less money even than when I was a journeyman. The few hundred marks that I had I have put into the business; and, in fact, I really cannot marry; if I did, I couldn’t exist at all. I should have to shut up the shop. What should we do then? I shouldn’t be able to show my face in H—— again; besides, at best, the business is not worth very much. So, my dear Dora, write to me now how we can settle matters; you mustn’t draw the string too tight, or ask too much; if you do, you see, you will have to find your own way out of the trouble. Of course, I shall be glad enough to do what’s right, because I am as much to blame as you are. If after a while I get on as well as my brothers have done, I can do more for you. But just now I can’t help you much. Let’s hope you may find some other man with whom you may live more happily than you have lived with me. Dear Dora, don’t make such a fuss about it: there are plenty more in the same case, up and down the world; you are not the only one. Now, write to me directly what you want to do; let’s get the matter settled quietly; that’ll be better for you. Your mother won’t leave you in the lurch, and you will find it will all come right.

“Best love.

Fritz H.

“P.S.—Write soon.”

Let us imagine the state of mind of the young woman who receives this letter, characterized as it is by such crafty heartlessness! And yet this heartlessness is no greater than that of modern European society, which simultaneously makes fun of the “old maid” and condemns the unmarried mother to infamy. This double-faced, putrescent “morality” is profoundly immoral, it is radically evil. It is moral and good to contest it with all our energy, to enter the lists on behalf of the right to free love, to “unmarried” motherhood. Let us make a clearance of this medieval bugbear of coercive marriage morality, which is a disgrace in respect of our state of civilization and economical development. Two million women in a condition of compulsory celibacy and—coercive marriage morality. It is merely necessary to place these two facts side by side, in order to display before our eyes the complete ethical bankruptcy of our time in the province of sexual morality.

In addition to this necessity for a radical alteration in sexual morality, we must, in the second place, enunciate the demand for a general insurance of motherhood, for the foundation of homes for pregnant women, for women in child-birth, and for infants.[277] The fulfilment of these demands alone will bring us a great step forward in the restoration to health of our sexual life, and in the preparation of a more beautiful future.[215]

If it be true, as W. B. Stevenson reports,[216] that King Charles IV. decreed that all foundling children in Spanish America were to be regarded as of noble birth, in order that all professions might be open to them, we cannot but consider that this mode of thought and action, on the part of a ruler in the country of the Inquisition, was a shining example for our own time.

“Society,” says Eduard Reich, “as well as the Church, sins against the laws of morality, as long as it stands in the way of the advancement of illegitimate children, either by the maintenance of miserable prejudices against these poor beings, or by positive decrees. We shall never be able, even should the human race enter Paradise, to make it impossible for extra-conjugal procreation to occur: love-children will always exist. Since, then, it is not the fault of the latter that their parents have brought them into the world; and, further, since, even if all men were married, one could not impute it to a man as a moral transgression, if he, in the plenitude of his procreative powers, had intercourse with a beautiful girl, instead of with his wife (suffering, for example, from cancer, or some other serious disease); and since, on the other hand, a wife still in the full bloom of youth could not be blamed for unfaithfulness if, her elderly husband having been impotent for several years, she now has intercourse with a vigorous and healthy young man—for such reasons, let us throw the veil of forgetfulness over all well-intentioned human weaknesses, and no longer ask whether a citizen of the world has been engendered in the marriage-bed, or has sprung from the well-spring of love. To the reasonable being it is the man himself who is of value; and only blockheads, simpletons, and donkeys will inquire as to his origin.”[217]


And yet one more question I will address in conclusion to the adherents of coercive marriage morality. How many free-love relationships, how many illegitimate children have there not been at all times among the cultured classes, even among the pillars of the throne and the altar, precisely among those who, on account of their higher spiritual development, ought to possess a stronger ethical sensibility (nota bene, from the standpoint of coercive marriage morality). It would be an interesting task to collect statistics relating to such free unions, and the resulting “illegitimate” offspring, in the case of notable men and women! The marriage fanatics would be horrified! Quite apart from the innumerable secret relationships of this nature, and their consequences, a short observation and enumeration of the illegitimate loves and parentage of men and women of high standing, alike spiritual and moral, would alone suffice to illuminate the actual conditions, and would enable us to draw remarkable conclusions regarding coercive marriage. It is my intention, as soon as possible, to represent in a brief work the rôle of free love in the history of civilization, and to adduce proofs that free love is very well compatible with a moral life. Who would venture to reproach with immorality a Bürger, a Jean Paul, a Gutzkow, a Karoline Schlegel, a George Sand, or even a Goethe?[218]

It is a simple evolutionary necessity that free love, in association with progressive differentiation and with the reshaping of economic conditions, will find its moral justification also for those who at present judge and condemn it from the point of view of long outworn social conditions.

[186] M. Nordau, “The Conventional Lies of Our Civilization.” See also P. Näcke, “Einiges zur Frauenfrage und zur sexuellen Abstinenz”—“A Contribution to the Woman’s Question and to the Question of Sexual Abstinence.” Näcke condemns this duplex morality, and demands for the woman in principle the same sexual freedom that is granted to the man.

[187] One of the most remarkable instances of free love as a popular institution was the “island custom” of the (so-called) Isle of Portland. Here, until well on into the nineteenth century, experimental cohabitation was universal, and marriage did not take place until the woman became pregnant. But if, as a result of this experimental cohabitation, “the woman does not prove with child, after a competent time of courtship, they conclude they are not destined by Providence for each other; they therefore separate; and as it is an established maxim, which the Portland women observe with great strictness, never to admit a plurality of lovers at one time, their honour is in no way tarnished. She just as soon gets another suitor (after the affair is declared to be broken off) as if she had been left a widow, or that nothing had ever happened, but that she had remained an immaculate virgin” (Hutchins, “History and Antiquities of the County of Dorset,” vol. ii., p. 820, 1868). So faithfully was this “island custom” observed that, on the one hand, during a long period no single bastard was born on the “island,” and, on the other, every marriage was fertile. But when, for the further development of the Portland stone trade, workmen from London, with the “wild love” habits of the large town, came to reside in Portland, these men took advantage of the “island custom,” and then refused to marry the girls with whom they had cohabited. Thus, in consequence of freer intercourse with the “civilized” world, the “Portland custom” has gradually fallen into desuetude. But the words I have emphasized in the quotation show how faithfully the conditions of “free love,” as defined in this work, were observed in Portland. An account of Portland, with allusions to the local practice of “free love,” will be found in Thomas Hardy’s novel, “The Well Beloved.”—Translator.

[188] A. Blaschko, “Prostitution in the Nineteenth Century,” p. 12 (Berlin, 1902).

[189] Cf. Helen Zimmern, “Mary Wollstonecraft” in Deutsche Rundschau, 1889, vol. xv., Heft 11, pp. 259-263. Consult also C. Kegan Paul, “William Godwin: His Friends and Contemporaries,” 2 vols. (London, 1876).

[190] “Shelley’s Poetical Works,” edited by Edward Dowden, p. 42 (Macmillan, 1891).

[191] Ibid., p. 44.

[192] Cf. the admirable critical investigation by Georg Hirth, “Goethe’s Christiane,” published in “Ways to Love,” pp. 323-366, containing new and valuable aids to our judgment of this relationship.

[193] A. Wernich, “Geographical and Medical Studies, based upon Experiences obtained in a Journey Round the World,” p. 137 (Berlin, 1878). Among the Malays of the Dutch Indies divorce is very easy; it costs only a few gulden, and is often carried out “very much to the advantage of husband and wife who are not held together by love. But it is by no means rare for a divorced couple to remarry after a certain time” (Ernst Haeckel, “Aus Insulinde, Malayische Reisebriefe”—“From the Indian Archipelago, Malay Letters of Travel”), p. 242 (Bonn, 1901).

[194] Kuno Fischer, “History of Recent Philosophy,” vol. vii., p. 135 (Heidelberg, 1898).

[195] Cf. in this connexion my pseudonymous work, “Rétif de la Bretonne: the Man, the Author, and the Reformer,” p. 500 (Berlin, 1906).

[196] Cf. George Gissing’s powerful novel, “The Odd Women.”—Translator.

[197] A brief sketch of tetragamy is also given by Schopenhauer in the fragments of his “Lecture on Philosophy” (“Schopenhauer’s Legacy,” ed. Grisebach, vol. iv., pp. 405, 406), also in the manuscript books, “Pandektä” and “Spicilegia” (op. cit., pp. 418, 419).

[198] Charles Albert, “Free Love.”—We may also allude to the more generally philosophic work by Armand Charpentier, “L’Évangile du Bonheur. Mariage. Union Libre. Amour Libre” (Paris, 1898).

[199] L. Gumplowicz, “Marriage and Free Love” (Berlin, 1902, second edition).

[200] In this connexion English readers will do well to consult Karl Pearson’s admirable “The Ethic of Freethought.” In the third or sociological section of that book there are numerous references to the subject of free love in relation to the economic structure of society. One of these will, however, for the present, suffice for quotation: “The economic independence of women will, for the first time, render it possible for the highest human relationship to become again a matter of pure affection, raised above every suspicion of restraint and every taint of commercialism.” It will be seen that Karl Pearson, like Albert, Gumplowicz, Bebel, and Socialists in general, believes that collectivism and the economic independence of women are indispensable preliminaries to a far-reaching reform of our sex relationships in the direction of free love.—Translator.

[201] I must here call attention to the fact that the celebrated philosopher Eugen Dühring, in his notable work, “The Value of Life,” pp. 155-158 (Leipzig, 1881, third edition), made a violent attack on the coercive marriage system, and demanded on ethical grounds a transformation of our amatory life in the direction of freedom and of personal love.

[202] Edward Carpenter, “Love’s Coming-of-Age,” third edition, London, 1902.

[203] Ellen Key, “Love and Marriage,” translated into German by Francis Maro (Berlin, 1904).

[204] Anton Nyström, “The Sexual Life and its Laws,” pp. 244-247 (Berlin, 1904).

[205] The speeches on this occasion were published by Helene Stöcker in her pamphlet, “The Association for the Protection of Mothers” (No. 4 of “Modern Questions of the Day,” edited by Dr. Hans Landsberg; Berlin, 1905).

[206] Unfortunately, Ruth Bré, who has played such a leading part in the history of the movement for the protection of mothers and for sexual reform, has recently gone her own way, and has founded an association of her own for the protection of mothers, which we may hope will soon be reabsorbed into the general Association. Above all, in such a province of reform as this, open as it is to attacks of every kind, unity is essential.

[207] Helene Stöcker, “Die Liebe und die Frauen”—“Love and Women” (Minden, 1906).

[208] Fr. Naumann, “Women in the New Economic Life,” published in Mutterschutz, 1906, No. 4, pp. 133-149.

[209] W. Borgius, “Mutterschafts-Rentenversicherung,” ibid., pp. 149-154.

[210] Lily Braun, “Die Mutterschaftsversicherung,” ibid., 1906, Nos. 1-3, pp. 18-24, 69-76, 110-124.

[211] M. Lischnewska, “The Economic Reform of Marriage,” ibid., No. 6, pp. 215-236.

[212] H. Fürth, “Motherhood and Marriage,” ibid., 1905, Nos. 7, 10-12, pp. 165-169, 389-395, 427-435, 483-489.

[213] The facts to which we have alluded throw a peculiar light upon the ever-renewed attack, made by certain writers who will not see, against the emancipation of women, whilst at the same time they advocate motherhood! A typical example of this is the book written by the gynecologist Max Runge, “Woman in her Sexual Individuality” (Berlin, 1896), the objectivity of which, in comparison with other hostile writings, must, however, be expressly recognized.

[214] “Office Consultations of a Solicitor,” by Severserenus, p. 70 et seq. (Hanover, 1902).

[215] The question of unmarried motherhood, sociologically of such profound importance, has recently been treated by Max Marcuse in an admirable monograph, “Unmarried Mothers” (Berlin, 1907, vol. xxvii. of the “Documents of Great Towns,” edited by Hans Ostwald). Herein we find exact data regarding the number, religion, position, profession, and characteristics of unmarried mothers, also the social and psychological causes of unmarried motherhood, and the existing and future means of caring for women in this position. The same author, in the newspaper Soziale Medizin und Hygiene, 1906, vol. i., pp. 657-667, discusses the important question of the adoption of illegitimate children. Valuable monographs concerning illegitimate children are those of Hugo Neumann, “The Illegitimate Children of Berlin,” Jena, 1900; Ottomar Spann, “Investigations Regarding the Illegitimate Population of Frankfurt-on-the-Main,” Dresden, 1906; Frieda Duensing, “The Legal Position of Illegitimate Children,” and Taube, “Illegitimate Children,” published in “The Book of the Child,” edited by Adele Schreiber, vol. ii., div. 2, pp. 57-61, 62-69 (Leipzig, 1907); the practical work hitherto effected—already extensive, but still far less than we could wish—by the Association for the Protection of Mothers has been detailed by Maria Lischnewska, in her excellent pamphlet, “The Practical Protection of Mothers” (Berlin, 1907).

[216] W. B. Stevenson, “Travels in Arauco, Chile, Peru, and Columbia, in the years 1804-1823,” vol. i., p. 174 (Weimar, 1826).

[217] Eduard Reich, “Immorality and Excess, from the Point of View of the Medical, Hygienic, Political, and Moral Sciences,” p. 127 (Neuwied and Leipzig, 1866).

[218] Apart from the study of the numerous free-love relationships of the poet Goethe, it would be interesting to make an investigation regarding his illegitimate children. Only a few years ago there died in Stützerbach one of the last illegitimate grandchildren of Goethe, a wood-cutter, a man of tall stature and proud gait, resembling in appearance and demeanour the beloved of all women. Cf. A. Trinius, “From the Mountain-World of Goethe,” published in the Berliner Lokal-Anzeiger, No. 453, of September 6, 1906.



In the sensual life, imponderabilia play a leading part, and many an effort towards improvement, many a reform, has been shattered against them, simply because the would-be reformer has overlooked the finer threads which connect the human soul with the institutions and customs of the material world.”—Willy Hellpach.



Difference between free love and wild love — The danger of wild love — Forms the bridge to prostitution — Its connexion with the sensual life and with seduction — The peculiarities of modern epicureanism — Restless character of the sensual life — The life of “amusement” — The erotic aim of this life — Sexual excesses of the present day — Heedlessness of wild love — Influence of large towns on the sensual life — Nocturnal life — Character of the pleasures of large towns — Increase of sexual tension — Pursuit of pleasure among the common people — The increasing number of young embezzlers — Public seduction — Professional seduction — History of the art of love — Its gradual spiritualization — Seducer types — Don Juan and Casanova — British Don-Juanism — The domineering erotic, and the erotic genius — Kierkegaarde, “Diary of a Seducer” — Pseudo Don-Juanism — Printed guide-books to the sensual life for the modern man of pleasure — Influence of the mode of life upon the sexual life — Alcohol as the incorporation of evil in this respect — Analysis of its influence on the vita sexualis — Its peculiar duplex influence — Utilization of this influence by prostitutes and seducers — Alcoholism and venereal diseases — Absinthe in France — Share of alcohol in producing offences against morality — Encouragement of wild love by alcohol — Connexion of illegitimate births with alcoholic excess — Increase of wild love at the present day — “Intimacy” (“das Verhältnis”) — Its gradual degeneration — History of the origination of the “intimacy,” and psychological explanations thereof — Increasing similarity between the nature of the “intimacy” and the conditions of prostitution — Causes — Frequent changes of “intimates” — The diffusion of venereal diseases by means of wild love — Rôle of lies, mistrust, and hatred therein — Produces disbelief in love — Wild love and coercive marriage — Causes of sexual corruption — Need for the campaign against wild love and sexual libertinism — Hellmann’s book on sexual libertinism — Attitude of the medical man towards “extra-conjugal” sexual intercourse — Increasing aversion to wild love — The increase in free ideal love unions — Wild love as the transitional stage to prostitution.



In the previous chapter we repeatedly drew attention to the fact that free love is not identical with the sexual promiscuity indulged in at the present day to such an alarming extent and with such disastrous consequences—sexual promiscuity in the form of extra-conjugal sexual intercourse, irregular in character, and dependent almost entirely upon chance.

I am an ardent advocate of “free love,” by which I understand sexual union based upon intimate love, personal harmony, and spiritual affinity, entered on by the free resolve of both parties, involving the assumption of all the duties entailed by such free unions, and with satisfactory mutual assurances regarding health. But with corresponding emphasis I must condemn, from the standpoint of the physician and from that of public hygiene, and also on ethical grounds, the now so widely diffused “extra-conjugal” sexual intercourse, for which, in order to distinguish it from the entirely different extra-conjugal “free” love, I suggest the term “wild love.”

This wild love is the true cancer of our society, for its chief characteristic is that it constitutes an enduring connexion and means of transition between hygienically and ethically unexceptionable sexual intercourse and prostitution, and thus involves the unceasing risk of transferring to the former all the dangers of the latter. In this sense, wild love can really be regarded as a kind of irradiation of the whole nature of prostitution into the entirety of sexual relations in general. Thus, it remains a powerful hindrance to all ennoblement and resanation of the amatory life, and it is an invincible source of the moral and physical degeneration and the infective contamination of the nation.

Wild love is intimately connected with the artificial sensual life of our time, and with the manifold varieties of seduction[219] arising from that life. Wild love, the sensual life, and seduction, form, as it were, a triad, each member of which is the principal predisposing condition of the others.


He who wishes to characterize in a few words the European civilization of the present day may say that its nature consists in epicureanism, mitigated by toil and the struggle for life; but this epicureanism is of a very peculiar kind. It is no longer the unqualified sensual life of the eighteenth century, in which sensual lusts and epicurean refinements were to many the whole object of life, nor is it the comfortable enjoyment of “the good old times”; it is a quite peculiar concentrated enjoyment of the moment, in the midst of the hard work of life. The carpe diem of Horace has to-day become carpe horam!

The forced labour which the fierce struggle for existence at present entails upon the majority of men leaves no more time for a simple undisturbed enjoyment of existence, for the inward deep experience of reality, and for a quiet joy therein. No, our sensual life of to-day bears in it the sting of pain, because the will to live, which, according to Schopenhauer, continually strives for an “increase of life,” has now degenerated into a convulsive search for the most violent sensations possible, into a wild hunt after the strongest possible and most frequent enjoyments, because the time is lacking for a peaceful, harmonious existence. Each man asks himself anxiously whether he may not have “missed” this or that possibility of objective pleasure; and forgets in doing so that the true happiness of life lies within himself, and that the greatest possible sum of outward enjoyments cannot procure him this happiness.

The signature of our time is “amuse oneself,” a phrase which conveys the idea of all our modern superficial pleasures, and of our sensual and spiritual sensations, which must chase one another in rapid succession in order to enable the modern civilized man to feel that he “lives.”

For the majority of those living in great towns, amusement is equivalent to a continued succession of superficial sensual pleasures, as preparatory stimuli for an equally fugitive and debasing sexual act.

The frequently heard and favourite phrases “to go through with it,” “to live one’s life,” “to sow one’s wild oats,” etc., have all the same significance, in the sense of preparation for sexual indulgence by means of such stimuli.

From beer-saloons and public-houses of all kinds, especially those at which the attendants are women, from the cabarets and variety theatres, the low-class music-halls and dancing-saloons, also, however, from better-class balls, soirées, and luxurious dinners, the road is open to the prostitute, or to the arms of a[283] girl excited by similar sensual stimuli to a similarly transitory sexual desire.

A great physician has said: “We eat three times too much.” I might add, in amplification of this saying, Not only do we eat three times too much, but we look for all other sensual pleasures in excess, and for this reason we love also three times too much, or rather, we indulge too often in sexual intercourse.

One of our most talented psychologists, Willy Hellpach, has described these relationships with great insight:

“To the enormous majority of our young men sexual indulgence is a matter of course, like their card-parties, their evenings at the club, their glass of beer; and of the few who live otherwise, a considerable proportion do so simply from timidity, or from poverty of spirit (they would like to, but they cannot screw their courage up). Another portion is honourably continent, but does not dare to make any display of this adhesion to principle, and rather pretends not to be distinguished in any way from the majority; and the very few young men who openly set their faces against the custom may be counted on the fingers of one hand. It is obvious that in this way the extra-conjugal sexual act loses the distinction of the unaccustomed; it is effected continually in a more heedless, light-hearted, frivolous manner—until, finally, the very idea of danger connected with indiscriminate sexual indulgence is forgotten; the preventive is thrown aside with an easy “Nothing has ever happened to me.” Indeed, many a man goes to his fate in the shape of infection with his eyes open, and with the most light-hearted confidence: if he is infected, there will be plenty of time before his marriage to be thoroughly cured.

“This factor comes the more readily into play in proportion to the degree in which the whole arrangement of the sensual life culminates in the stimulation of erotic activities. Such a tendency is inevitably associated with the development of the modern large town; and there ensues an imitation of the sensual life of large towns in smaller towns, and even in country villages.[220]

“Every large town provides the means for a much more extensive stimulation of the senses than country life; and the alternate stimulation and deadening of the senses, characteristic of town life, has in the very large towns of our time reached an unheard-of degree of intensity. The town is the typical habitat of that sensual and nervous condition of irritability which historically characterizes our own generation; the townsman is the typical representative of “nervousness” in its modern form. The verbal connexion between “senses” and “sensuality” represents an actual transition; and in ordinary parlance, by the “sensual” we understand the “erotic.” Where the senses are more strongly stimulated, there erotic desire grows, there it loses its periodical course in favour of a continuous wakefulness, or, at any rate, in favour of a light slumber, which the slightest[284] stimulus will disturb. And the townsman is more easily impelled to the sexual act, not merely because the town offers him prostitutes, “intimates,” etc., in much greater numbers, but also because his over-stimulated nervous system impels him much more powerfully to search for these objects, and makes it much more difficult for him to safeguard himself against their allurements.

“And town life is nocturnal life! The more so, the larger the town; and we see the extreme form of this in the great capitals of Europe. The consequences in regard to the opportunities for and incitations to sexual enjoyment are not lacking. First of all, nocturnal life gives rise to a summation of stimuli, to an incredible variety of nervous titillation, and this induces an increasing sensuality; and once the sensual life has become habitually nocturnal, now, by a vicious circle, all enjoyment is unavoidably fettered to the town. Natural recuperation has become a secondary consideration, and in place of the relief of tension, we have apparent restoration by means of variety. All, all, tends in favour of a sharpening of sensual stimuli, of arousing the wish for erotic pleasures. And the town is untiring, inexhaustible, in its discovery of means for the gratification of these instincts. Variety theatres, gin-palaces, low music-halls, and all the amusements of similar kind, are simply unthinkable without the sensual note; and even where they maintain themselves to be free from that note, it will be unconsciously sought by the audience, will be easily found, and if it were absent, its absence would be angrily resented. The same is true, more or less, of entertainments of a higher æsthetic rank. With very few exceptions, our theatres are compelled to take into consideration the instincts of the public, and the instincts of the population of our large towns are chiefly concerned with eroticism. Even where sexual questions are elevated into the sphere of the highest art, and by the artist himself the common is detested, the audience will, after their kind, merely extract erotic stimulation; and that the opera and the stage are sought by many merely on account of these accessory influences, is too well known to need proof—not to say a word regarding the pantomime and the ballet.

“Perhaps the worst of all is yet to come. In his public dinners, his parties, his clubs, his balls, etc., the man of the upper classes, and also the man of the middle classes, does not find the much-to-be-desired ethical counterpoise to this characteristic sensual life of our young men; but rather finds the prolongation of it in a somewhat more masked and artificial form. From the outset, the relationship between the sexes is of so suggestive, so purposive a character, that this exercises a gentle, stimulating influence upon desire; and a man is thrown into a state of tension for which he often finds only one outlet, sexual gratification—which he must either buy or obtain by cunning—and thus he passes straightway from the influences of the public sensual life, to become the customer of the prostitute, the partner in the “intimacy,” the seducer in the nocturnal life of the great town. He then either runs the danger of infection with venereal diseases, or he occupies himself with their dissemination; for the man suffering from venereal disease is not merely a victim: he is commonly also a focus of infection, one who finds new victims in the shape of girls hitherto uninfected.

“To this evil a remarkable trait in the sensual life of the simpler[285] woman extends ready assistance—I mean that servility, that erotic obsequiousness which finds expression already in the gossip, and in the favourite reading of the lower classes, and which makes them feel to some extent flattered if they are treated as means of enjoyment by a man of good position. It is well known that the prostitute in her talk gladly makes her lover a baron; but, unfortunately, a similar tendency characterizes the feminine half of the lower classes throughout, and to our regret, this is more especially true of the German people. Our commercial-traveller nature, to which, according to Sombart, we owe a portion of our ascendancy in the markets of the world, finds its most regrettable and disastrous seamy side in the readiness with which the masses forget their pride and self-respect, when it is a question of snatching a pleasure. This characteristic has, in recent lustra, unfortunately become not better, but rather worse; the desire to look well at any cost, with which the simple girl so often makes herself laughable, inspires also her longing to ‘walk out’ with a distinguished admirer.”[221]

But not only does the simple girl of the people sacrifice her life and health in this pursuit of pleasure; the young men also are not behindhand in the pursuit, which they regard as “gentlemanlike,” of enjoyment and of women. It is astonishing what an increase in recent times there has been in the number of youthful embezzlers, learners and clerks in merchants’ offices, whose offences have been committed simply in order to provide funds for the gratification of their pothouse pleasures. Among them one meets lads between the ages of fourteen and eighteen years, a symptom of the earlier sexual maturity of the present day. When, as usually happens, they are arrested after a few days, it comes out in evidence that the embezzled money was squandered in the society of prostitutes, but we learn that the tendency to such excess had existed in the embezzler long before he actually committed a crime. If the heads of businesses were to keep themselves better informed regarding the mode of life of their employees, many a disillusion and many a loss would be spared them.

Sexual seduction is at the present time effected less by individuals than by the environment. The sensual life as such, the entire stimulating sensual atmosphere of that life, plays to-day a rôle which at an earlier time, when our social life and pleasures were less fully developed, fell to the “seducer,” the galant homme and Don Juan of earlier days. Our young people are subjected rather to the general influences of the pursuit of amusement, which fascinates all circles, than to the allurements[286] of the habitual seducer. To-day, the victims of public seduction, by means of the sensual life characteristic of our time, are far more numerous than those seduced by isolated individuals, though such there have been, and will be, at all times.

Before I pass to the consideration of the individual influences of the modern sensual life, those by which wild love is especially favoured, and before I describe the general seduction of the present day, I propose to touch upon the interesting question of “professional seduction,” to consider Don-Juanism and the practice of the “ars amandi.”

It is remarkable how strongly the history of the art of seduction reflects the general tendency of the evolution of love from purely physical impulses to spiritual love. This we learn simply from the study of the numerous text-books of the art of love, the so-called “ars amandi.”

Whereas in the earlier text-books of this subject, from Ovid’s “Ars Amandi,”[222] widely celebrated in antiquity, to the “Practica Artis Amandi,”[223] the “Morale Galante, ou l’Art de Bien Aimer,”[224] of the seventeenth century, and Gentil Bernard’s “L’Art d’Aimer,”[225] of the eighteenth century, the principal stress was laid upon all the possible sensual stimuli, and upon the superficial gallantry associated with this; in the modern text-books, in that of Manso[226] (still belonging to the eighteenth century), but especially in the more recent works by Stendhal,[227] Paul Bourget,[228] A. Silvestre,[229] Catulle Mendés,[230] Robert Hessen,[231] and Hjalmar Kjölenson,[232] we find much more stress laid on all the spiritual influences of the art of love. In this way it is possible to follow in these works the whole course of the enrichment of the spiritual and emotional life in love.[233]

The same process of development can be recognized also in the[287] figure of Don Juan. His type has undergone gradual alteration, always becoming more and more intellectual. The purely sensual Don Juan, as Lord Chesterfield, for example, characterizes and embodies him, is to-day quite out of date even among sensual men of the ordinary type; whereas though Kierkegaard’s “Diary of a Seducer” describes an extreme type, that of the purely reflective libertine, yet in this extreme, the author has very rightly recognized the general tendency of evolution.

Recently, Oscar A. H. Schmitz has published an extremely original and thoughtful study of “Don Juan, Casanova, and other Erotic Characters” (Stuttgart, 1906), in which he distinguishes very sharply the seducer type of a Casanova from the seducer-type of a Don Juan. Don Juan is a deceitful, cunning seducer, to whom the sense of possession associated with the attainment of his aim, the danger, the activity of his desires for power and dominance, are the principal matters, but who is in himself unerotic; whereas Casanova is pre-eminently the erotic, also crafty and deceitful, not, however, for the gratification of his need for power, but rather for the agreeable satisfaction of his need for sensual love. Don Juan knows only “women”; for Casanova each one is “the woman.” Don Juan is demoniacal, devilish he goes on to the complete destruction of the women seduced by him, deliberately he ensures their unhappiness; Casanova is human, cares always for the happiness of the women he loves, and devotes to them a tender reflection. Don Juan despises women, he is of the type of the misogynist, of the satanic woman-hater; Casanova is the typical feminist, he possesses a profound understanding of woman’s soul, is not disappointed by love, and needs for his life’s happiness continuous contact with feminine natures. Don Juan seduces by means of his own elemental nature, by the attractive power of brutal wild force; Casanova does so by means of the sensual atmosphere which surrounds him.

With an accurate psychological insight, Schmitz remarks:

“It seems as if the love of one, or, where possible, of several, women inoculates the man, as it were, with a vital fluid, and gives his glance a fire which at times makes him irresistible. Men of pleasure declare that after the most fortunate nights, when, exhausted, they were returning home to sleep, on the way the most eager and meaning glances were cast upon them by the women whom they passed.”

This distinction between the two types of seducer, which Schmitz makes in his original book, containing excellent observations on the psychology of love, is indeed not new. Stendhal, in[288] the chapter “Werther and Don Juan” of his book, “Ueber die Liebe,” pp. 241-251 (German edition, Leipzig, 1903), points out the same types. “The genuine Don Juans,” he says, “ultimately come to regard women as their enemies, and find actual pleasure in their manifold unhappiness”; whereas Werther, the equivalent of Casanova, regards all women as entrancing beings, towards whom we are far too unjust. The love of Don Juan is “a similar feeling to the love of the chase”; Werther’s love is gentle, idealizes the reality, is full of tender and romantic impressions. Don Juan is the conqueror; Werther is the erotic.

I myself also, in my work on “Sexual Life in England,” vol. ii., p. 159 (Berlin, 1903), have, earlier than Schmitz, clearly distinguished from one another these two seducer types, in a passage in which I depict the British Don Juan, in contrast to the French and Italian Don Juan.

The passage runs:

“The principal characteristic of the British Don Juans, who are completely distinct from the libertines of the Latin and of the other Teutonic countries, is the cold, brazen quietude with which they indulge in the sensual pleasures of life; love is much less to them an affair of passion than one of pride and of the gratification of their consciousness of power. The French, the Italian Don Juan is driven by ardent sensuality from conquest to conquest. This is the principal motive of their actions and of their mode of life. The English Don Juan seduces on principle, for the sake of experiment; he pursues love as a sport. Sensuality plays a part only in the second degree, and in the midst of his sensual enjoyment the coldness of his heart is still painfully apparent.

“This is the rake, the type of Lovelace, which Richardson, in his ‘Clarissa Harlowe,’ has described with incomparable mastery.”

Taine, also, in his “History of English Literature,” has described this British Don-Juanism, which hates rather than loves.

Finally, we find these types also in Rosa Mayreder’s book, “Zur Kritik der Weiblicheit” (“Critique of Femininity,” Leipzig, 1905), especially in the chapter, “A Few Words on the Powerful Faust” (pp. 210-243). Her type of the “masterful erotic” closely resembles the Don Juan type of Schmitz, and my own British seducer type.

“Erotic excitement,” says Rosa Mayreder, “gives rise in these men to the lust of dominion; to them the relationship with women signifies a grasping possession, an enjoyment of power, and they are unable to think of women except as subject and dependent. Only in so far as woman adapts herself to them as a means do they know her; as a personality, with individual aims, she does not exist for them.”


This masterful eroticism exists among men of quite low social position, just as much as among men of high position.[234] Their diametrical opposite is the love-perception of delicately sensitive, erotical, highly differentiated men, whose highest type constitutes the “erotic genius.” Rosa Mayreder characterizes this latter type in the following terms:

“The increasing differentiation of erotic perception brings with it a new faculty, which extinguishes the consciousness of superiority and transforms the need for contrast into the need for community, for reciprocity—the capacity for devotion. Thus comes to pass the most remarkable phenomenon in the masculine psyche, the great miracle, which effects a complete transformation of the primitive mode of perception, a transformation of the teleological sexual nature.

“The erotic genius grasps the nature of the opposite sex with intuitive understanding, and is capable of assimilating it completely. The other sex is to him the primevally akin and primevally allied; his love-relationships are accompanied by ideas of enlargement, fulfilment, liberation of his own essential nature, or even by the idea of a mystical union. To him sexuality does not denote an annulment or limitation of personality, but rather an enlargement and enrichment by means of the individuals with which, in this way, his personality is associated.”

As an erotic genius of such a kind, Rosa Mayreder points to Richard Wagner, as he manifests himself in his letters to Mathilde Wesendonk.

The sensibility and refinement of the modern woman, her emergence as a personality, must continually repel the masterful type of erotic—although doubtless that type will never be entirely eliminated. I do not believe in a complete transformation of the teleological sexual nature of man, which has always assigned to him the active aggressive rôle. But it is true that the possibilities of existence for the masterful erotic, the Don Juan type, have become limited. He must, as Schmitz rightly insists, intellectualize himself if he wishes to continue to exist. This psychological satanism of the modern Don Juan is wonderfully described by Kierkegaard, in his “Diary of a Seducer.”[235]

The hero of this book learns best from the girls themselves how they can be betrayed; he develops in them “spiritual eroticism,” in order then suddenly to abandon them, but they themselves must loosen the tie. Woman and love are not to him in themselves the principal need; what is important to him is, as he says[290] at the conclusion, that he has been able to enrich himself with numerous erotic perceptions. The modern Don Juan is, therefore, nothing more than a cold psychological experimenter. It is in this way that, with prophetic insight, Choderlos de Laclos has described him in the Vicomte de Valmont, the hero of his “Liaisons Dangereuses.”

Yet another interesting Don Juan type of our time has to be considered, one which indeed is not a genuine Don Juan, but a pseudo Don Juan, or rather a pseudo Casanova; and this type makes its appearance also in the female sex.

Like Rétif de la Bretonne, it is the man or woman seeking eternally for the ideal, for true love; a type which only, in consequence of the ever-repeated disillusions and errors, assumes a Don Juanesque character. At the present day, we meet this type very often. It is only the expression of the increasing difficulty of the proper love choice, owing to the progressive differentiation of our time; and it is not originated by the desire for sensual lust, but rather by the eternally disillusioned yearning for genuine individual love.

But we must return after this excursion to the consideration of the commonest type of public seduction by means of the sensual life of our time. It is significant that this also possesses its literary guides and course of instruction, in the form of the numerous printed handbooks for the world of pleasure. Among these we may mention, “Guides du Viveur,” “Guides de Plaisir,” “Führer durch das Nächtliche Berlin” (“Guide to Berlin by Night”), “New London Guide to the Night Houses,” “Die Geheimnisse der Berliner Passage” (“Secrets of the ‘Passage’ of Berlin”), “Paris by Night,” “The Swell’s Night Guide through the Metropolis,” “Bruxelles la Nuit, Physiologie des Établissements Nocturnes de Bruxelles” (for Englishmen of pleasure, published under the title of “Brussels by Gas-light”), “Paris and Brussels after Dark,” “The Gentleman’s Night Guide,” “Hamburgs galante Häuser bei Nacht und Nebel” (“Hamburg’s Fast Houses by Night and Cloud”), “Das Galante Berlin,” “Naturgeschichte der galanten Frauen in Berlin” (“Natural History of the Fast Women of Berlin”), “Paris Intime et Mystérieux,” “Guide des Plaisirs Mondains et des Plaisirs Secrets à Paris.” All these have appeared during the last thirty years, some of them in several editions. For Vienna, Buda-Pesth, St. Petersburg, Rome, Milan, Barcelona, Madrid, Marseilles, Rotterdam, and New York, there also exist such guides to all open and secret enjoyments.


In order to give an idea of the contents of such a guide to the sensual life, I need merely enumerate the chapter headings of a book published in 1905, and, as the Paris bookseller from whom I obtained it informed me, immediately confiscated, but none the less still openly sold in the bookshops of the Boulevards and the Rue de Rivoli. It bears the title, “Pour s’Amuser. Guide du Viveur à Paris, par Victor Leca” (Paris, 1905). In his versified dedication, the compiler writes:

“Nous connaissons la Capitale,
Et nous l’aimons avec ferveur;
Ma science expérimentale
A fait ce ‘Guide du Viveur.’”
[“We know the Capital,
And we love it with fervour;
My experimental science
Has made this Guide for the Man about Town.”]

And he states in the preface that all the various pleasures of Paris, for the eye, the ear, and the sense of taste, lead ultimately to—woman, in complete agreement with the definition which I gave above of the sensual life of our time. All these pleasures concur in leading to sexual indulgence—that is the end, the climax of every “amusement,” the true punctum saliens of the life of pleasure of our large towns. Thus Leca, in his comprehensive and elaborate guide for men of pleasure, lays the principal stress on announcements regarding eroticism and on opportunities for erotic adventures in the individual places of pleasure. He enumerates these in series: the theatre, especially the “théâtres très légers,” the “cafés-concerts,” the dancing-saloons, the hippodromes, and circuses, the cabarets of Montmartre, the Quartier Latin, the women’s cafés, the boulevards, the halls of the central market, the brothels (with an exact indication of the streets, and with the numbers of the houses!!), the houses of accommodation (maisons de rendezvous), the likenesses of a few “ladies of pleasure,” the arcades, the parks and public gardens, the popular festivals, the races, drives, public bathing establishments, cemeteries, museums, and exhibitions—all, always, in relation to the feminine element.

These handbooks of the art of enjoyment are existing proofs, from the point of view of the history of civilization, of the fact that the sexual impulse is, in every possible way, influenced, increased, elaborated, and complicated, by the civilization of the present day. Especially the life of great towns, where the essence of modern civilization is found in its most concentrated[292] form, is a sexual stimulant in the highest degree, with its haste and hunting, its “nocturnal life,”[236] with its multiplicity of enjoyments for all the senses, with its gastronomic and alcoholic excesses—in short, with its new device that after work comes pleasure, and not repose.

In my “Sexual Life in England” (vol. ii., p. 261 et seq.) I have described the momentous influence of the mode of life upon sexuality, and have proved how both in the old England and in the new the excessive consumption of meat and of alcoholic beverages has unnaturally stimulated the sexual impulse, and has conducted it into devious paths.

But of Germany also we may say that, apart from the times of “meat famine,” we eat too much meat and drink too much alcohol, the former especially among the higher classes, the latter among all classes of society.

The sexually stimulating influence of luxurious feeding, which, for example, Gabriele d’Annunzio describes in the early part of his romance “Lust,” and which Tolstoi, in the “Kreutzer Sonata,” describes as the principal cause of incitation to lasciviousness, is indeed a well-known fact of experience; and the later in the day these heavy meals are consumed, the more dangerous are they in respect of their influence on the sexual impulse. I am fully convinced that the good old German custom of taking the principal meal of the day at noon is greatly preferable to the so-called “English dinner,” when the principal meal is deferred to four or six o’clock. Luxurious suppers, or even midnight dinners, such as at the present day are quite customary, must be definitely regarded as aphrodisiac.

A far more momentous rôle is played by alcohol in the modern sensual life. A writer who is not himself a strict teetotaller may yet feel it his duty to lay all possible stress on this fact. Indeed, from the standpoint of medical experience and observation, I am prepared to term alcohol the evil genius of the modern sexual life, because in a malicious and underhand manner it delivers its victim to sexual misleading and corruption, to venereal infection, and to all the consequences of casual sexual intercourse.[237]

This is not the place for a detailed discussion of the drink question, or for stating the reasons for my own opinion, that complete abstinence is a Utopian idea, and that the moderate[293] and careful use of alcohol, in quantities suited to the particular individuality, and at suitable times, does no harm worth mentioning. Though this be so, I cannot fail to recognize the deeply tragic rôle which the customary abuse of alcohol plays in the sexual corruption of our time. As to the connexion between alcohol and the sexual life, I must therefore speak at greater length.[238]

The influence of alcohol upon the sexual life and upon the psyche is a very peculiar one. Beer or wine, taken in very moderate quantities, unquestionably give rise, in addition to their general psychical stimulating influence, to sexual excitement of greater or less degree. This sexual excitement, if more alcohol is now taken, endures longer than the psychical excitement, which soon gives place to psychical paralysis, to a discontinuance of the inhibitory influences proceeding from the brain. It is in this unequal influence exercised upon the purely sensual-sexual and upon the psychical processes, that the peculiar danger of alcoholic excesses appears to me to depend. The sexual stimulation produced by the first draught of alcohol continues at a time when the man has already lost all control over reason and will, and thus he becomes an easy prey to sexual seduction.

It is only in this way that we can explain the momentous influence of alcohol, for we know, generally speaking, it is not a means for the increase of sexual power. On the contrary, it increases voluptuousness and sexual desire, but almost always hinders erection and delays the sexual orgasm.

Thus, a man under the influence of alcohol requires a longer time for the completion of the act of sexual intercourse than a sober man, and in this way the danger of venereal infection is notably increased, for the contact with the infecting person is considerably longer. I have inquired of many patients who were infected during intercourse with prostitutes after alcoholic excess, and was almost always informed that the act of intercourse, owing to the well-known relative impotence produced by alcohol, was exceptionally long in duration, and this naturally gave more[294] opportunity for excessive contact, for mechanical injuries dependent upon increased friction, etc., and thus brought about infection.

In medical literature, numerous cases are reported in which two men have completed intercourse with an infected prostitute, shortly after one another, and, remarkable to relate, one only became infected, whilst the other remained healthy. More exact inquiry would show without doubt in many such cases that the uninfected man was sober, in comparison with the infected man, who must have been under the influence of alcohol.

In the case of women, with regard to whom there can be no question of any specific effect upon sexual “potency,” the influence of alcohol in exciting libido, in association with its withdrawal of all psychical inhibitions, makes itself all the more manifest. Thus, to woman, who, speaking generally, is far more intolerant of the drug than man, very moderate enjoyment of alcohol entails dangers.[239]

The seducer, the procuress, and the prostitute are all familiar with the above-described peculiar influence of alcohol upon the libido sexualis and upon the psyche, and it is precisely this discriminative duplex influence which is utilized by them. Not only in the so-called “Animierkneipen”—that is, the drinking-saloons with women attendants—and in the brothels does alcohol subserve this purpose, but the street-walkers also await their victims by preference outside the doors of the great restaurants, or after festival dinners, and keep an eye especially on drunken men, because in the case of these, in whom all self-command has been lost, they have, in every respect, an easy prey.[240]


A man under the influence of alcohol is as easily led and as devoid of will-power as a child. He is not particular in his choice: he generally fails to notice whether the prostitute who accosts him is young or old, pretty or ugly, clean or dirty; he follows her blindly, and in most cases with results disastrous to his pocket and to his health. The following case illustrates very clearly this loss of will produced in a man by indulgence in alcohol:

An officer of high rank, a married man, in general a man of solid repute, left the officers’ casino after a banquet late at night, very tipsy, to seek his house. Suddenly he felt an arm thrust into his; it was a prostitute who had noticed his condition, and she had turned it to her own advantage. Without reflection and without exercise of will, he allowed her to lead him to her dwelling, and there, still in a quite apathetic condition, had intercourse with her, without taking any precautions whatever. It was not until afterwards that he saw, being then somewhat sobered, that he was in the company of an elderly prostitute of the lowest class. His dread of venereal infection was justified a few days later by the appearance of a urethral discharge. In great alarm he consulted me. Microscopic examination of the urethral secretion, and the cure which ensued in a few days, showed me that he was suffering from a simple urethral catarrh, and not from gonorrhœa.

Such cases as this, however, do not always end so fortunately. It is notorious, and has been proved by the researches of leading physicians and medical statisticians, that the majority of venereal infections take place under the influence of alcohol.

For this reason, the continued increase in the consumption of alcohol leads to a further diffusion of venereal diseases. While our ancestors consumed alcoholic beverages to excess only on Sundays and festival days, at the present time spirits are freely consumed on weekdays—above all, during the evenings. Brandy and beer have become everyday beverages, especially beer, whose consumption increases year by year, so that in the year 1898 the beer drunk in Germany was valued at £100,000,000! Strümpell showed that labourers earning three marks a day are accustomed to spend eighty pfennige—that is, more than one-third of their income—on beer; these are by no means notorious drinkers, but steady fellows who only follow the general “custom.” The part played by beer in Germany is played by absinthe in France; the well-known “apéritif” to which prostitutes of Paris so often invite their male clients is in most cases absinthe. Wine, as the[296] experienced Fiaux says, is merely an “ideal drink” in the dreams of the ordinary Parisian prostitute.

We shall return in subsequent chapters of this work to the consideration of alcohol in its relations to the sexual life in general, and to abnormal sexual manifestations in particular. We shall also have occasion to speak of the momentous rôle played by alcohol in the causation of offences against morality. Baer goes so far as to assert that alcohol is the cause in 77 per cent. of such offences.

Here we shall only once more insist upon the high degree to which the excessive enjoyment of alcohol assists in seduction and favours wild love—that is, sexual intercourse free from all choice and all regulation. This is to be seen with especial clearness at popular festivals and other occasions giving rise to alcoholic excesses; and the effects are later shown by the resulting increase in the number of illegitimate births.

Magnus Hirschfeld relates that when he was a student he spent one Christmas Eve in the company of a professor of medicine in Breslau. Among the guests were two of the maternity assistants, and first one, then the other, was called away to attend confinements. An old physician who was present thereupon remarked: “Yes, yes; these are the children of the Emperor’s birthday.” Hirschfeld, who asked for an explanation of this incomprehensible phrase, was told that on Christmas Night the lying in hospitals were overcrowded, because then the illegitimate children were born which had been procreated nine months earlier, on March 22, the birthday of the old Emperor, celebrated as a popular holiday.

The increase in wild love, in sexual intercourse dependent upon the inclination of the moment and upon chance, with a rapid succession of different individuals—this increase, which is associated in the way above described with the sensual life, is a characteristic of our own time.

In addition to prostitution, which we shall treat in a separate chapter, the so-called “intimacy” constitutes the true nucleus of wild love. When those who support coercive marriage speak of free love, they do not mean the free love, the higher individual love, which we have described in the previous chapter, but they always refer to the latter-day “intimacy,” which, in fact, does involve the most serious dangers, alike from the physical and from the moral point of view; for, on the one hand, the “intimacy” forms the principal intermediate agent in the wider diffusion of venereal diseases, and, on the other hand, this new[297] form of sexual relationship has above all introduced the element of hypocrisy, lying, and mistrust, which poisons love to-day, separates the sexes continually more each from the other, and gives rise to that tragic sexual hate, enmity of men on the part of women, and misogyny on the part of men, which is also peculiarly characteristic of our own time.

The gradual differentiation of the originally ideal intimacy, to the wild love of the present day, has been admirably described and psychologically elucidated by Hellpach in his short work on “Love and Amatory Life in the Nineteenth Century.”

In this admirable characterization of the “intimacy,” the fact is first established, that it is above all and through and through a product of great towns, and consequently that it is closely connected with the capitalistic evolution which compels thousands of young girls to earn their own living, so that from them are especially recruited the great human class of shop-girls, and all the allied varieties, so typical of large towns. This is the soil in which the “intimacy” naturally develops. [Hellpach writes first of conditions of a generation ago, and then passes on thirty years to our own day.]

“By day these girls were occupied. When the evening came, bringing with it the greatly desired closing of the shop, the prospect opened to them of going home to poor surroundings, often enough of taking part in painful family scenes, then going to bed, and the next morning early returning to business. This was their life, day in, day out. Here was no very pleasant calendar, especially when the way from the places of business to their home led through streets crowded with brilliantly lighted beer saloons, cafes, theatres, and concert-halls. And all this during the years of sexual blossoming, when the ardent sensual desire for the first time ran through all the nerves! Who can wonder that the longing became absolutely fiery, after all the work of the day, to enjoy a little share of all the glories of the great town which lay extended before their gaze? After the confinement of the shop, not to return straightway to the confinement of the family, but to learn to know a little about the freedom of pleasure—and this under the most entrancing form of a little love affair?

“And the social conditions were such as to make it possible for this yearning to be fulfilled. Were there not thousands of young shopmen, hundreds of students, clerks, non-commissioned officers, who would rather walk about in the evening with a girl on their arm than alone? Prostitutes would be little suited for such companionship. Besides, it would not be always the young man’s intention to proceed to an extremity, to have a night of love following the evening of amusement; the young man simply was in the mood to walk about with the girl, to gossip, perhaps to embrace and kiss her a little.

“Here was the beginning. The young man accosted a shop-girl, accompanied her a little way, made an appointment for the following evening; then he went a little further; he saw how pleased the little[298] one was; the tutoyer and the kiss followed. So it went on for a few evenings, and the young man felt that the happy girl was quite as eager as he himself was to take the last step; and when this was done, there was the “intimacy” complete. And in all respects it appeared preferable to prostitution; it was inexpensive, unassuming, very pleasant, and—involved no risk to health. Moreover, to both this amatory life did not seem a ‘necessary evil’ on the contrary, it was a glorious pleasure, and there were only two little shadows in the bright picture: the fear of having a child, and the thought of separation. Moreover, this cloud troubled the man only; girls then, as to-day, thought very little about matters so remote.

“In the development of the ‘intimacy’ during the last thirty years, many details have undergone change, but the picture as a whole has been but little affected. The young shop-girl of to-day does not need a long courting; she enters her business already fully aware that she will soon be ‘intimate’ with some one. At first she will always prefer to choose a man of whom it is possible to assume that he may marry her. A young shopman, a non-commissioned officer, will, therefore, be most in demand. It is not till later, when resignation comes, and the only remaining wish is for amusement, that University students have the preference; they are jollier, more entertaining, and the girl is vain about their position. That has all remained just as it used to be; only thirty years ago there were many shop-girls who, notwithstanding all their desire, remained untouched. For the girl brought up in the atmosphere of the lower middle classes there was a certain ill-odour about free sexual intercourse. This has completely passed away. The girls of this stratum, who, with open eyes, withstand all allurements, might be counted on the fingers. At the present day, these ‘intimacies’ extend deeply into the middle classes of society.

“As regards the men, there has certainly been one marked change. The illusion that sexual intercourse with an ‘intimate’ offered any guarantee against the danger of venereal disease has now long been dispelled. We are to-day confronted with the fact that the intimacy is the focus of venereal infection to a far greater extent[241] than is actual prostitution. In order to understand this, we must glance at the dissolution of the intimacy.

“We have already pointed out that in the German ‘intimacy’ there has never occurred a thorough development of a life like that of the Parisian ‘grisette’; and there will be no change in this respect within a time which we can at present foresee. Even in Berlin there are not many dwellings in which the landlord would tolerate the visits of ladies of doubtful reputation on any account whatever. But even those who let quarters on easy terms, or, as the student calls them, ‘storm-free’ rooms, would never allow their lodger to entertain a woman day after day, and could not do so without running the risk of being suspected by the police of procurement. Thus, the only thing that unites the two parties in the intimacy is in almost all cases sexual intercourse. The characteristic of grisette-love, the prose of the life in common, day after day, is hardly ever experienced in the ‘intimacy.[299]In consequence of this, on the man’s side satiety very readily ensues. New impressions enchain and stimulate him. He breaks off the intimacy, and this is not usually done with tenderness. The possibilities are numerous, but the only decent way, the open verbal communication of the fact, is probably the rarest. He breaks off the intimacy without a word, and as far as he is concerned the matter is at an end; he is richer by an agreeable experience, and after a while begins to look round once more.

“The girl also. But for her, this dissolution of the intimacy is very often the first step upon a very steep downward path. At first there perhaps ensues a short period of bitterness, but the sexual impulse makes light of all other activities; a new intimacy begins. And now, gradually, the idea gains ground in her mind that a change in love is, after all, not such a bad thing. The second breach is borne with equanimity; and very soon it is by no means rare for the girl to limit her love associations to a few days, and ultimately, as a matter of daily custom, to seek fresh gratification with a new associate. It is not yet professional prostitution; psychologically also there is still a difference. There is still sensual perception at the root of her actions, and of such a strength, increasing owing to excess in sexual intercourse, that the personality of the partner in the sexual act becomes almost a matter of indifference. But now an economic difficulty commonly intervenes: discharge from her position, expulsion from her parents’ house, either or both being due to her dissipated life, with its heedlessness and the resulting dislike to hard work—and then the avalanche falls. Hunger drives her to do that for payment which hitherto she has done only for the gratification of her own desires. Prostitution has one victim the more.

“But the whole period between the beginning of the second intimacy and her enrolment in the list of prostitutes by the police offers to all her lovers the greatest possible danger of venereal infection. For the majority of girls actually become infected in their very first intimacy. The explanation of this goes back to the time in which the intimacy first began to become fashionable, and in which the control of prostitutes with regard to their condition of health was even more defective, and the safeguarding against the danger of venereal infection was even less understood than at the present day. In the majority of cases the young men of the large towns were infected in their very first experience of love; for it was with prostitutes that they always sought their first sexual gratification, as is still customary at the present day. For the inexperienced youth this course is easier, making, as it does, fewer demands on his adroitness, and none at all on his seductive skill; whereas in the formation of an ‘intimacy’ these qualities are somewhat in demand. Later, when he had had enough of prostitution, he sought an ‘intimate,’ and since at that time the treatment of gonorrhœa was still extremely defective, he promptly infected his partner in the intimacy. In this manner the girls engaged in intimacies, since they first became fashionable, have been systematically infected.

Next to prostitution, the intimacy is the great focus of sexual infection; and wild love, from the psychological and ethical[300] points of view, involves the same danger as prostitution. The frequent changes, the multiplicity of sexual intercourse in intimacies, allows no deeper spiritual relationships to be formed; thus, the girls are debased to become the simple objects of physical sensuality, and they are forced more and more to depend on the financially stronger men; thus, they rapidly become partial or complete prostitutes. To them now the sensual life, the pursuit of pleasure, is the principal thing, not love. Venereal infection is soon superadded, to deprave them more thoroughly. Still worse is the corruption of the world of men, who transfer to the intimacy the practices they have learned in their association with prostitutes; but, above all, they come finally to seek and to desire the rude sexual act solely for its own sake, without feeling the need for any deeper spiritual association. Hence results the fugitive character of these sexual relationships, the frequent changes on both sides, and the end—lies, mistrust, hatred.

Belief in and hope for true love disappear for ever; there remains only the cold, desolate, unspeakably embittered disillusionment, the distrust of the other sex which is so characteristic of our time. Never before were there so many woman-haters and man-haters on principle. In the intercourse between the sexes, neither believes the other any longer; and on both sides the “intimacy” is entered on without any illusions, the sole aim of both parties being to satisfy in the intensest possible way their desire for enjoyment and their sensual lusts.

Prostitution can destroy no illusions, for its true character is manifest at the first glance; but the modern intimacy has become the grave of love, and has given rise to a new corruption of the sexual life, which appears almost more dangerous than the old corruption dependent on prostitution. It has, moreover, become a second, and not less dangerous, focus of venereal infection, to the diffusion of which it is extraordinarily favourable.

He, therefore, who wishes to take part in the fight against the moral degeneration of our amatory life, and to assist in the campaign against venereal diseases, must attack and endeavour to suppress the modern development of the life of “intimacy” just as energetically as he attacks prostitution.

The wild love of the present day, “extra-conjugal” sexual intercourse (which, as I cannot too often repeat, has nothing whatever to do with “free love”), and coercive marriage, are the true causes of sexual corruption. They are intimately associated one with the other. The social, economic, and spiritual[301] civilization of the present day demands free love, with which neither coercive marriage nor wild love is compatible.

Neither for prostitution, nor for the wild extra-conjugal sexual intercourse of our time, can any justification be found from the point of view of medicine, racial hygiene, or sociology. In their nature both lead to the same end: the death and destruction of all individual love, of all the finer activities of love, by which the spiritual nature of man is so greatly enriched; and they both give rise to a continuous increase and rapid diffusion of venereal diseases.

The salvation of our people is not to be found in the “recommendation” of extra-conjugal sexual intercourse for all those who are not in a position to marry—and the number of these grows from day to day—but it is to be found in the reform of marriage, in a freer configuration of the amatory life, in connexion with which we can confidently trust Ibsen’s saying in the “Lady from the Sea”:

“We can’t get away from this—that a voluntary promise is to the full as binding as a marriage.”

There shall not and must not be “sexual freedom,”[242] but there must be “freedom of love.”

When anyone asks me whether I should advise him to indulge in “extra-conjugal sexual intercourse,” as a physician and a man of science I am compelled to answer with a bald “No,” because I cannot undertake the responsibility of the consequences of such advice.

Fortunately, alike in the world of women and in the world of men, there manifests itself an increasing disapproval of wild love as it exhibits itself in the modern “intimacies.” There are already numerous intimacies which closely resemble free love, and in which all the conditions of free love are fulfilled, in respect of duration, of a profound spiritual relationship, a sense of sexual[302] responsibility alike physical and moral, and in the joyful acceptance of the consequences in respect of offspring.

We must, however, continually keep up the fight against wild love as the enduring associate of prostitution, to which it constitutes the bridge or stage of transition. Therein lies its greatest danger. This we shall recognize more clearly in the ensuing chapter, in which we turn to consider the subject of prostitution.

[219] In the titular heading to this chapter, throughout the chapter, and in most cases throughout the book, the German word Verführung has been translated as seduction. Verführung means “leading astray,” and one of the commonest uses of the term is to denote sexual leading astray—the seduction of a woman by a man. But in some cases Verführung, like the English seduction, is used in its more primitive and wider signification. The context will suffice to show the sense in which the word is employed.—Translator.

[220] Thus, at the present day, in quite small country towns, we find variety theatres and low music-halls; and with these, prostitutes are commonly introduced into the town, so that the wild love, which was previously free from danger, now becomes a focus of venereal infection.

[221] Willy Hellpach, “Our Sensual Life and Venereal Diseases,” published in the “Reports of the German Society for the Suppression of Venereal Diseases,” 1905, vol. iii., Nos. 5 and 6, pp. 103-105.

[222] Of this work there recently appeared an excellent German translation, admirably modernized in blank verse by Karl Ettlinger, “Ovid’s Art of Love: a Modern Translation.” (An English translation of Ovid’s “Art of Love,” revised by Charles W. Ryle, was published in 1907 by Sisley.—Translator.)

[223] Hilarii Drudonis, “Practica Artis Amandi” (Amsterdam, 1652).

[224] Paris, 1659.

[225] Paris, 1775.

[226] J. F. C. Manso, “Die Kunst zu Lieben” (Berlin, 1794).

[227] Henry Beyle (Stendhal), “On Love.”

[228] Paul Bourget, “Physiologie de l’Amour Moderne.”

[229] Armand Silvestre, “Le Petit Art d’Aimer” (Paris, 1897).

[230] Catulle Mendés, “L’Art d’Aimer” (Paris).

[231] Robert Hessen, “Das Glück in der Liebe: Eine technische Studie” (Stuttgart, 1899).

[232] Hjalmar Kjölenson, “Die Erschliessung des Liebesglückes” (Leipzig, 1905).

[233] An exhaustive study of the history and literature of the ars amandi, by the author of the present work, is in course of preparation, and will appear shortly.

[234] Cf. regarding masterful erotics, also the exposition of Georg Hirth in “The Ways to Love,” p. 563.

[235] S. Kierkegaard, “Entweder—Oder. Ein Lebensfragment,” pp. 221-311. German translation by O. Gleib (Dresden and Leipzig, 1904).

[236] “The sun,” says Grillparzer in his “Diary,” “is hostile to voluptuousness. But the artificial sun of our nocturnal illumination in our large town, has the opposite effect.”

[237] The old proverb says: “From the two V’s, Vinum (wine) and Venus (woman), there arises a big W, Weh (woe or pain).”

[238] Cf., in addition to the great works on the subject of alcohol, the special monograph by B. Laquer, “A Lecture on Alcohol and Sexual Hygiene,” published in the “Reports of the German Society for the Suppression of Venereal Diseases,” 1904, vol. ii., Nos. 3 and 4, pp. 56-63; W. Hellpach, op. cit., pp. 100-102; Magnus Hirschfeld, “The Influence of Alcohol on the Sexual Life,” Berlin, 1905; Magnus Hirschfeld, “Alcohol and Family Life,” Berlin-Charlottenburg, 1906; Otto Lang, “Alcohol and Crime,” Basel; Oscar Rosenthal, “Alcohol and Prostitution,” Berlin, 1906; G. Rosenfeld, “Alcohol and the Sexual Life,” published in the Journal for the Suppression of Venereal Diseases, 1905, pp. 321-335.

[239] It has been established by Bonhoeffer, Hoppe, A. H. Hübner, and others, that chronic alcoholism constitutes an important cause of prostitution in the case of the so-called “late prostitutes”—that is to say, in those women who do not commence a life of professional prostitution at puberty, but usually after the age of twenty-five years. Cf. Artur Hermann Hübner, “Prostitutes in Relation to Criminal Jurisdiction,” published in Monatsschr. für Kriminalpsychologie, edited by G. Aschaffenburg, 1907, p. 5.

[240] At the great public dinner which, in 1890, the town of Berlin gave in the Rathaus to the members of the International Medical Congress, and at which 4,000 persons consumed 15,382 bottles of wine, 22 hectolitres (484 gallons) of beer, and 300 bottles of brandy, there were witnessed in and outside the Rathaus the most disgusting scenes of drunkenness. “As the blowflies gather round a piece of carrion, so in the street in front of the Rathaus there had gathered a swarm of prostitutes, who found a rich booty among the drunken, staggering guests” (cf. Rosenfeld, op. cit., p. 325).—A striking example of the manner in which alcohol sometimes completely annihilates every æsthetic perception is reported by E. Kraepelin (“The Psychiatric Duties of the State,” p. 6; Jena, 1900): “A number of students were infected by a prostitute, who from early youth had been weak-minded, and who was suffering from both lupus of the nose and recent syphilis.”

[241] It is not yet quite so bad as this. But the number of venereal infections that occur in consequence of wild love, and of free sexual intercourse in these relations of “intimacy,” is continually on the increase.

[242] Sexual freedom—that is to say, the formal organization of sexual promiscuity—was demanded by a certain Dr. Roderich Hellmann in a book which has now become very rare, because it was confiscated immediately after publication. Its title was “Sexual Freedom: a Philosophic Attempt to Increase Human Happiness” (Berlin, 1878). The author demands that immediately after puberty “the sexual organs shall have the opportunity of a regulated activity,” and that it shall now be allowed to persons of both sexes “to indulge in sexual intercourse as much as they please,” of course, with the avoidance of injury to health and of pregnancy. This remarkable freak proceeds to demand that public lavatories shall be done away with, so that persons of both sexes shall relieve themselves freely in one another’s presence in the open street, and, with equal freedom, shall display their sexual organs to one another for the purpose of sexual allurement!!



On that one degraded and ignoble form are concentrated the passions that might have filled the world with shame. She remains, while creeds and civilizations arise and fall, the eternal priestess of humanity, blasted for the sins of the people.”—Lecky.



Prostitution and venereal disease the central problem of the sexual question — My belief in the possibility of the suppression of both — Only in recent years has the scientific attack on both begun — The plaie sociale — Internal and local treatment — The scientific literature of prostitution — Rosenbaum’s work on prostitution in antiquity — Aretino, Delgado, and Veniero on the prostitution of the renascence — Franckenaus’s first medical polemic against brothels — The commencement of the scientific study of prostitution and venereal diseases in the eighteenth century — Rétif de la Bretonne and his “Pornographe” — “Moral Control” — Parent-Duchatelet’s fundamental work — Analysis of this book — Contemporary works on prostitution in Paris, London, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Lisbon, Lyons, and Algiers — First employment of the term “male prostitution” — A peculiar species of souteneur — Prostitution in Hamburg — Dr. Lippert’s book — “Memoirs of a Prostitute,” the predecessor of the “Diary of a Lost Woman” — Gross-Hoffinger’s book on “Prostitution in Austria” — Demonstration of the connexion between prostitution and coercive marriage — Celebrated chapter on “Maidservants and Prostitution” — Schrank on prostitution in Vienna — Prostitution in Leipzig — In New York — General works on prostitution — Jeannel, Acton and Hügel — Books on secret prostitution, on prostitution of girls under age, on regulation and on brothels, and on the social importance of prostitution — Blaschko’s recent critical investigation on the subject of prostitution — Results of this investigation — Lombroso’s anthropological theory — The works of Tarnowsky and Ströhmberg, of Fiaux and von Düring.

Conception and definition of prostitution — Genuine and pseudo-prostitutes — Prostitution among primitive peoples — Religious prostitution as the germinal form of modern prostitution — This latter the product of the growth of large towns — Medieval conditions — Diminution in the number of brothels since that time — The demand for prostitutes — Relation between the number of prostitutes and the male population — The supply greater than the demand — Causes of the male demand for prostitutes — Prostitution as a product of civilization — Repression of primitive sexual instincts by civilization — The sexual supra- and sub-consciousness — Transient elemental activities of the sub-consciousness — Reports of J. P. Jakobsen and other writers on this subject — Gratification of these instincts by means of prostitution — This in part the product of the physiological masochism of men.

The numerous causes of prostitution — The anthropological theory and the doctrine of the congenital prostitute — Criticism of this view — Proof that many of the physical and mental peculiarities of prostitutes are acquired — The obliteration of the secondary and tertiary sexual characters in prostitutes — The nucleus of Lombroso’s theory — The economic factors of prostitution — Actual and relative poverty as a cause — Poverty a cause of prostitution in the mass — Women’s and children’s work — Prostitution as an accessory occupation — Insufficient wages — The inquiries of 1887 and 1903 on this[305] subject — Examples — The large proportion of maidservants who become prostitutes — Explanation of this — Relative poverty of maidservants — Psychological factors of maidservant prostitution — Overcrowded dwellings — Families living in single rooms, and taking in lodgers for the night — Alcoholism — The traffic in girls — Sources of this — National and international preventive measures — Work done by the Jewish Committee to prevent the traffic in girls in Galatia — Measures taken in Buenos Ayres — The central police organization in Berlin for the suppression of the traffic in girls.

The localities of prostitution — Public prostitution — Street prostitution — Character and dangers of street prostitution — Still greater dangers of brothels — Brothels as centres of sexual corruption and perversity, and as foci of venereal infection — The high school of psychopathia sexualis — The brothel jargon — “Animierkneipen” — Dancing saloons, variety theatres, low music-halls, cabarets, and “Rummel” — “Pensions” and houses of accommodation — Massage institutes — Cafés with female attendants.

Appendix: The Half-World. — Origin of the name — The “Demi-Monde” of the younger Alexandre Dumas — Change undergone by the conception at the present day — Analogy with the Greek hetairæ — Connexion of the half-world with high life — Origin — The social influence of the “grandes cocottes” — The half-world in Germany — The international prostitute.



Prostitution, and the venereal diseases so intimately connected with it, constitute, properly speaking, the nucleus, the central problem, of the sexual question. The abolition of prostitution and the suppression of venereal diseases would be almost tantamount to the solution of the entire sexual problem. Imagine the extension and the intension of the idea: No prostitution, no more venereal disease!

There is, in fact, no more gratifying notion, no more illuminating ideal, than that of moral and physical purity in the relations between the sexes. At a time in which, especially in social spheres, such abundant activity and such far-seeing ideas of reform are apparent, this notion of a campaign against prostitution and venereal diseases, in the hope of eradicating both evils, should stand in the forefront of all the demands of civilization, in order that finally the tragical influence, the poisonous sting, should be removed from the disordered, unhappy, amatory life of the present day, and herewith, unquestionably, a proper foundation should be laid for a more beautiful future for that life. This idea is unique; it is the greatest of all that man, at length become self-conscious,[243] has ever grasped; and to this idea belongs the future!

The French term prostitution and venereal diseases une plaie sociale, a rodent ulcer in the body of society. I take this apt comparison, and carry it a stage further, to show a clear picture of the way along which we must go in order to eradicate prostitution; for in this respect I am a confirmed optimist. I believe in the possibility of the eradication of venereal diseases, and of the abolition of prostitution within the civilized world by national and international measures. I do not join in the chorus of those who say, “because prostitution has always existed, it must always exist in the future; because venereal diseases have always[244] existed, they are unavoidable accompaniments of civilization.”


How long is it, then, since any attempt has been made to oppose prostitution and venereal diseases? As regards the latter, it is only within the last few years that we have begun, in the battle against them, to make systematic use of the results of scientific research; and the study of prostitution, and the measures based on that study for its control and prevention, do not date further back than the second half of the eighteenth century. In fact, for practical purposes, they date from the appearance of the classical and epoch-making work of Parent-Duchatelet (1836).

We are, indeed, in the very first stages of the campaign against prostitution and venereal diseases. All that has hitherto been done has been to make inadequate, isolated attempts to introduce unsuitable and half-considered regulations, based upon successive misconceptions, which have only made matters worse. To-day medicine, social science, pedagogy, jurisprudence, and ethics have combined in a common campaign; and this is not national merely, but unites all civilized nations in a common cause.

Here we find an actual prospect, a credible hope, of a radical cure of the plaie sociale. But such an ulcer can only be radically cured when we are not content merely with the local treatment of the existing sore; we must simultaneously attack the internal causes of this chronic disease, and in the case with which we have to do the internal causes are even more important than the external—that is to say, ethics, pedagogy, and social science are even more important and indispensable in the campaign against prostitution than medicine and hygiene. We shall never attain our goal by considering and fighting prostitution and venereal diseases, the consequences of prostitution, purely from the medical and hygienic standpoint. In this case, one-sidedness will prove tantamount to failure. The problem of prostitution must be approached from many sides, because the causes that have to be considered are manifold, alike anthropological, economic, social, and psychological, in their nature. There are many varieties of prostitution; in the same way there are numerous and various types of prostitutes. It is, therefore, impossible for one who is acquainted with actual life to hold fast in a one-sided manner to a single theory. Thus, in one and the same case the most various points of view have to be considered.

The history of prostitution is an extremely interesting chapter of the general history of civilization, which has not hitherto been written in a manner satisfying scientific and critical demands; but the literature of prostitution is already alarmingly comprehensive. Here, also, critical grasp and mode of presentation are[308] still entirely wanting. It is impossible, in this place, in which we speak only of the present-day conditions, to enter at any length into the historical and literary aspects of the question of prostitution. This I must leave for a later, comprehensive work, for which I have for several years been collecting the materials. Here I shall only briefly refer, for the sake of the reader interested in the matter, to the most important writings on the subject of prostitution which have any scientific and historical importance.

Prostitution in antiquity is treated in a masterly manner by Julius Rosenbaum in his celebrated “History of Syphilis in Antiquity” (Halle, 1839); this is, down to the present day, the chief source of our knowledge of the conditions in antiquity. It is true that he starts from the false assumption that syphilis already existed in ancient times, a view which in the second volume of my book on the “Origin of Syphilis” (now in course of preparation) I show to be incorrect; this work will also contain a thorough study of prostitution among the ancients, based upon the more recent researches published since the year 1839, when Rosenbaum’s book appeared.

The first truly classical descriptions of the nature of modern prostitution dated from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries; these are not scientific, belonging rather to the province of belles-lettres; but they are of great value in respect of the accuracy of their observations, and of their psychological insight into the nature of prostitution. I refer above all to the celebrated “Ragionamenti” of Pietro Aretino;[245] next, to the not less important work, published earlier, in 1528, “Lozana Andaluza,” by Francisco Delgado (Francesco Delicado).[246] Both these books, and also the celebrated “Zafetta” of Lorenzo Veniero (circa 1535), describe the conditions of prostitution at the time of the Italian renascence; these display a most astonishing similarity to the conditions of the present day, and the books mentioned have therefore still an instructive value.[247]

From the seventeenth century we have as important documents of civilization the description of prostitution in Holland in the interesting work “Le Putanisme d’Amsterdam” (Brussels,[309] 1883; the original Dutch edition, Amsterdam, 1681), and also in the work published in the same year, 1681, “Disputatio Medica qua Lupanaria ex Principiis quoque Medicis Improbantur,” by Georg Franck von Franckenau,[248] noteworthy as being the first medical polemic against brothels.

Down to the middle of the nineteenth century the study of prostitution was most active in France.[249] In the second half of the eighteenth century, according to the expression of the de Goncourts, “pornognomonie” was a scientific problem. Various attempts at reform were made; as early as 1763 “moral control” was recommended; and in 1769 there appeared the celebrated “Pornographe” of Rétif de la Bretonne,[250] the first extensive work on the state regulation of prostitution, the great historical importance of which was recognized by Mireur, the well-known syphilologist of Marseilles, by the publication of a new edition (Brussels, 1879).

But it was with the publication of the immortal and most admirable work of Parent-Duchatelet,[251] on prostitution in Paris, that in the year 1836 the modern scientific literature of prostitution really began. It is the first work in which full justice is done to the importance of prostitution in all its relations, and it is based upon exact medical observations and psychological and social studies. Even to-day it remains unique in its kind, and a standing example of critical research and of French learned zeal.

A very short account of the contents of this epoch-making book of Parent-Duchatelet will best teach us its importance, and will give us an insight into all the problems connected with prostitution, and considered by the French author.

In the introduction, Parent-Duchatelet explains the reasons which led him to undertake the work, and the literary sources he has consulted. The first chapter then proceeds to the consideration of certain general problems, gives a definition of the term prostitute, an estimate of the number of prostitutes in Paris, their origin in respect of native country, position, culture, profession, their age, and the first cause of their adoption of this profession. The second chapter discusses the manners and customs of prostitutes, the opinion they have of themselves, their religious ideas, their sense of shame, their spiritual qualities,[310] tattooing, occupation, uncleanliness, speech, defects and good qualities, the various classes of prostitutes, and, finally, the souteneurs. The third chapter contains physiological observations concerning prostitutes—namely, concerning their obesity, the changes in their voice, peculiarities in the colour of the hair and the eyes, the stature, the condition of the genital organs, and fertility. In the fourth chapter he deals with the influence of professional prostitution on the health of the girls, and describes the various morbid conditions which may result from their occupation. The fifth chapter treats of the public houses of prostitution (brothels), their advantages and disadvantages, the question of brothel streets, and the localization of prostitution in definite quarters of the town. In the sixth chapter the inscription of prostitutes in police lists is discussed; in the seventh procurement and the owners of brothels. Chapters eight, nine, and ten deal with secret prostitution in houses of accommodation, drinking-saloons, coffee-houses, tobacconists’ shops, etc.; chapter eleven discusses street prostitution; chapter twelve, the diffusion of prostitution in the various parts of Paris; chapter thirteen, the relation of prostitution to military life; chapter fourteen, prostitution in the environs of Paris. The fifteenth chapter describes the ultimate destiny of prostitutes; the sixteenth deals with their medical treatment—above all, the methods of examination to ascertain their state of health are accurately described. Chapters seventeen and eighteen deal with hospitals and prisons for prostitutes; chapter nineteen, with the former taxation of prostitutes; chapter twenty considers questions relating to administration, and the special branch of police dealing with the institution—for example, the suggestion (recently revived) is discussed of the medical examination of the male clients of prostitutes; prurient pictures and books are also considered, and thefts in brothels. The twenty-first chapter is devoted to the question which still attracts attention at the present day, viz., the peculiar relationship between the owner of a house and the prostitutes living there, and deals also with the legal aspect of the punishments decreed against prostitutes. Chapter twenty-two is occupied with a general discussion of the legal questions connected with prostitution. At the conclusion, in chapters twenty-three and twenty-four, the author discusses the question whether prostitutes are necessary, and this question (nota bene, from the standpoint of coercive marriage morality) he answers in the affirmative; he asks also whether the police should be entrusted with the application of measures for the prevention of venereal diseases, and this[311] he agrees to conditionally only, for he considers that the public recommendation of protective measures should be forbidden by police ordinance. Finally, in the last chapter, the twenty-fifth, he speaks of the institutions for the rescue of fallen women, and he concludes his comprehensive work, in which he has dealt so thoroughly with all the subdivisions of his general topic, with the words:

“My work is at an end. When I commenced it, I pointed out what reasons I had for undertaking it, what aim I wished to attain. Had I not been firmly convinced that the investigations begun by me regarding the nature of prostitutes might favour health and morality, I should not have published them. I have exposed to the public gaze great infirmities of mankind; thoughtful men, for whom I have written, will thank me for doing so. He who loves his fellow-men will without anxiety follow me into the department of knowledge I have described, and will not turn away his glance from the pictures I have drawn. He who wishes to know the good that remains to be done, and who wishes to learn how to pursue with good results the way by which something better is to be attained, must first know what actually exists; he must know the truth.

“The profession of prostitution is an evil of all times, all countries, and appears to be innate in the social structure of mankind. It will perhaps never be entirely eradicated; still, all the more we must strive to limit its extent and its dangers. With prostitution itself it is as with vice, crime, and disease; the teacher of morals endeavours to prevent the vices, the lawgiver to prevent the crimes, the physician to cure the diseases. All alike know that they will never fully attain their goal; but they pursue their work none the less in the conviction that he who does only a little good yet does a great service to the weak man. I follow their example. A friend whose loss I shall always mourn drew my attention to the fate of the prostitute. I studied them, I wished to learn the causes of their degradation, and wherever possible to discover the means by which their number could be limited. What experience has taught me on this subject I have openly stated, and I am convinced that the lawgiver, the man whom the State has empowered with authority to care for public health and morality, will find in my book useful information.”

Parent-Duchatelet’s book, no less admirable in its execution than in its design, still remains the foundation for the scientific study of prostitution. It is the exemplar for all contemporary and subsequent works.

The powerful influence exercised by this book was shown above all in this—that works on prostitution appeared in rapid succession in the various capitals of the civilized world. These were all based to a greater or less extent upon the work of Parent-Duchatelet, and thus they constitute extremely valuable scientific monographs regarding the conditions of prostitution in particular towns,[312] such as since that date have not been issued. Here there still lies hidden a wealth of material, a large part of which has not yet been utilized.

As an enlargement and continuation of the work of Parent-Duchatelet, there appeared three years later, in the year 1839, the work of the Commissary of Police Béraud[252] on the prostitutes of Paris and on the Parisian police des mœurs. The book is more especially distinguished by an elaborate history of prostitution, and by the wealth of psychological observations it contains; also by its exact information regarding secret prostitution.

In the same year a well-known London physician, Dr. Michael Ryan,[253] published his important book on Prostitution in London,[254] with a comparison of the conditions in Paris and New York. Ryan first dealt with the general social and economic causes of prostitution, with critical acumen, as we could not but expect from an Englishman. His book also contained an interesting account of the extraordinary diffusion in England at that time of pornographic books and pictures,[255] and concerning their publication and sale by pedlars, and the measures undertaken to repress this traffic. Valuable also are the detailed reports given in this book, on pp. 212-252, regarding prostitution in the United States, and especially in New York.

The example of Ryan was followed by his countrymen, Dr. William Tait and the Rev. Ralph Wardlaw. The former treated in a comprehensive work the subject of prostitution in Edinburgh;[256] the latter, in a shorter book, described prostitution in Glasgow.[257]

Very interesting is the book, of which a few copies only ever reached Germany (one of which is in my own possession), and which even in Portugal is extremely rare, of Dr. Francisco Ignacio dos Santos Cruz regarding prostitution in Lisbon,[258] in which the whole subject of Portuguese prostitution is admirably described, with special reference to the capital city. Santos Cruz gives[313] most careful attention to the legislative aspect of the question. He was the first to advocate a measure which has recently been proposed also by Lesser (doubtless in ignorance of the work of his predecessor)—viz., the formation of polyclinics for the gratuitous treatment of prostitutes.[259]

Regarding prostitution in the town of Lyons, renowned for its immorality, Dr. Potton wrote a celebrated book, which received a prize from the Medical Society of Lyons in the year 1841. This work was based on official sources, and had especial reference to the relationships of prostitution to the hygienic and economic conditions of the population.[260]

A valuable book, also, is the work on prostitution in Algiers by E. A. Duchesne.[261] It contains an elaborate account of “male prostitution”—that is, prostitution of men for men—an expansion of the idea of prostitution which is, as far as my knowledge goes, found here for the first time. Naturally, in earlier works we find allusions to men who practise pederasty for money, but the idea “prostitution” had hitherto been strictly limited to the class of purchasable women.

We see this, for example, in the anonymous book “Prostitution in Berlin, and its Victims,”[262] published in Berlin seven years before the appearance of the work of Duchesne. The author definitely states that “the admirable book of Parent-Duchatelet on prostitution in the town of Paris, and its remarkable success, have chiefly given occasion to the publication of my own work.” The book is, however, quite independent in character, and treats of the individual relationships of prostitution in Berlin, on the basis of official sources and experience, in historical, moral, medical, and political relations, and also from the point of view of police administration. It contains an appendix on “prostituted men” (p. 207), who, however, are not homosexual prostitutes, but, according to the writer’s own definition, “men who make it their profession to serve for payment voluptuous women by the gratification of the latter’s unnatural passions.” This species still exists at the present day, but there is no particular name for the type. (In the seventies, in Vienna, men who could be hired to perform coitus were known locally as “stallions”—Ger. Hengste.) We must include them in the great army of[314] souteneurs, although the term is not strictly applicable. Later we shall return to the consideration of this peculiar variety of male prostitution.

As an enlargement of the work just mentioned, we can regard the book published in the same year, 1846, by the Criminal Commissary, Dr. Carl Röhrmann, on Prostitution in Berlin.[263]

This book is especially remarkable from the fact that it contains “complete and candid biographies of the best-known prostitutes in Berlin,” an idea which has recently been revived, for example, in W. Hammer’s “The Life-History of Ten Public Prostitutes in Berlin” (Berlin and Leipzig, 1905).

Very valuable official material is, finally, to be found in a third work on prostitution in Berlin, written by the celebrated syphilologist F. J. Behrend.[264] It begins with a careful history of the police regulations regarding prostitution in Berlin, then discusses the consequences of the abolition of the Berlin brothels in the year 1845, and proceeds to demand new measures and regulations for the control of prostitution and for the prevention of syphilis in Berlin. As a collection of material, the book is of considerable value.

Little known, but thoroughly original, is the work of the Hamburg physician, Dr. Lippert, on prostitution in Hamburg.[265] Blaschko even fails to mention it in the bibliography at the end of his own work, presently to be described. Lippert adduces numerous and interesting new contributions to our knowledge of “the many-headed hydra, the colour-changing chameleon,” of prostitution. After an introductory sketch regarding the historical development of prostitution in Hamburg, he gives a “characterization of the present moral condition of Hamburg,” embodying important information regarding the number of brothel prostitutes and street-walkers, the topographical distribution of prostitution and of brothels, the secret houses of accommodation, the remarkable decline in the number of marriages, the relationship between legitimate and illegitimate births, and the number of drinking-saloons and dancing-halls; and he goes on to describe with more detail these individual factors of prostitution,[315] and especially the opportunities for prostitution. The third chapter contains an extremely interesting physiological and pathological description of the Hamburg prostitutes. According to Lippert, the principal motives of prostitution are “idleness, frivolity, and, above all, the love of finery.” He rightly lays especial stress upon the last-named cause, which, in the more recent scientific investigations regarding the causes of prostitution, has, unfortunately, been too much neglected. Then follow data regarding the age, nationality, class, and occupation of prostitutes. We learn that as early as the date of this book of Lippert’s the greatest number of public prostitutes had originally been maidservants (p. 79), not girls of the labouring classes. Thus the fact that prostitutes recruit their ranks chiefly from the servant class is not, as recent writers assert, exclusively the consequence of the increasing mental culture of the modern proletariat, but is most probably rather connected with the freer configuration of the amatory life among the labouring classes, where the nobler form of “free love” has long been dominant. From the very nature of the case, this must lead to a limitation of the supply of prostitutes from this class. The chapter closes with an elaborate description of the physical and mental peculiarities of the Hamburg prostitutes, and of the diseases observed in them. In the fourth chapter the various classes of prostitutes are considered more closely—the brothel prostitutes (with an exact description of the celebrated brothel streets of Hamburg), the prostitutes living alone, the street-walkers, the “kept women,” the large group of secret prostitutes. There follow in an appendix interesting accounts of the public places which are related to prostitution; of prostitution in the Hamburger Berg and in the suburb of St. Pauli; and of the rescue work of Hamburg.

A very good account of prostitution in Hamburg is also found in a book contemporary with that of Lippert, entitled “Memoirs of a Prostitute, or Prostitution in Hamburg” (St. Pauli, 1847). This work, which is now extraordinarily rare, resembles the book which recently gained such celebrity, the “Tagebuch einer Verlorenen” (“Diary of a Lost Woman”), by Margaret Böhme, in that it was edited by a Dr. J. Zeisig, professedly after the “original manuscript.” As usual, it has all happened before!

In the preface to his book, Lippert remarks that, since prostitution in Berlin and in Hamburg has now been adequately described, it was desirable that an analogous book should be compiled regarding Vienna, in order that we might have the necessary[316] comparative statistics of “the three principal towns and principal factors of German prostitution.”

The actual account of prostitution in Vienna did not, however, appear till forty years later, in the year 1886. Still, as early as 1847 the book of Dr. Anton J. Gross-Hoffinger was published, describing exclusively the conditions of prostitution in Austria, and naturally chiefly concerned with conditions in Vienna.[266] In my opinion, this book has an epoch-making significance, because therein we find asserted for the first time, with all possible emphasis, that the institution of coercive marriage is the ultimate cause of prostitution, to which all the other causes are subsidiary. In no other book do we find so painful a description, drawn with such astonishing clearness, of the horrible conditions resulting from the artificial preservation of the official and ecclesiastical coercive marriage, which was really based upon economic conditions peculiar to the remote past. The two first sections, “Woman the Slave of Civilization” and “Woman in her Degradation,” are the most frightful accusations of conventional marriage. On pp. 190 and 191 the author formulates in fifteen paragraphs a law of marriage reform, which has a very close resemblance to the previously described ideas of Ellen Key. A perfect classic is the chapter on servant-girls (pp. 226-284), unique in its thoroughness, and affording an admirable description of the legal, moral, and economic relationships of domestic service.

The great army of domestic servants,” he writes, “constitute the ever-ready reserve force of prostitution. Daily from this reserve are drawn new recruits for the regular service, and daily the vacant places in the reserve are once more filled.

Gross-Hoffinger, in 1847, came also to the conclusion that in “free love” or “free marriage” was to be found the only salvation from the misery of prostitution.

The comprehensive work of Schrank upon prostitution in Vienna[267] is distinguished by an abundance of interesting isolated observations, and these are especially to be found in the earlier historical portion. The second part is occupied with the administration and hygiene of prostitution in Vienna. The work gives an exhaustive account of Viennese prostitution down to the year 1885.


Prostitution in Leipzig was described in three chapters of a general work on prostitution, published in the year 1854.[268] The titles of these three chapters are: “Moral Corruption in Leipzig”; “Tolerated Prostitutes and Tolerated Houses in Leipzig”; “Tolerated Prostitutes in Leipzig: their Morals, their Customs, their Hygienic Condition, their End.” Very interesting is the statement of the author that of the 3,000 maidservants in Leipzig, one-third were engaged in secret prostitution.

The prostitution in the largest town of the new world, in New York, also found an admirable description in the sixth decade of the nineteenth century in the great historical work of the New York physician, William M. Sanger.[269] Of the 685 large octavo pages which the book contains, pages 450 to 676 are devoted to the description of the conditions of prostitution in New York. The historical portion of the book is also extremely valuable, being based upon the best historical authorities.

With the year 1860, or thereabouts, this first period of the scientific literature of prostitution, characterized by monographs dealing with individual towns, in pursuance of the example of Parent-Duchatelet, came to a close. Just as Parent-Duchatelet had inaugurated this kind of description, so the French now undertook the introduction of the further researches into prostitution. First of all, Dr. J. Jeannel summarized the results of the books we have already mentioned in a general work on prostitution,[270] which contained a comparative view of the conditions in various countries and towns. An Englishman, W. Acton, also wrote a similar general work on prostitution;[271] whilst yet another general work on the subject was written by the German Hügel.[272]

The extremely important question of secret prostitution has been elucidated especially by the writings of Martineau[273] and Commenge;[274] the not less important question of prostitution practised by girls under full age is treated by Augagneur;[275] the[318] problems of regulation and of brothels have been studied by Fiaux, whose work is comprehensive and based upon carefully compiled statistics, and the author attempts the solution of these problems;[276] the sometime French Minister Yves Guyot has discussed the problem of prostitution from the higher philosophical and social point of view;[277] in short, the French physicians illuminated this obscure province of thought from every side, and laid the foundations for the scientific and critical study of prostitution, which began with the last decade of the nineteenth century.

To Alfred Blaschko unquestionably belongs the credit of having broken entirely new ground in connexion with the problem of prostitution, by means of the debate instituted by him in the year 1892 in the Medical Society of Berlin, and by several works distinguished by a sharp-sighted, critical faculty.[278] Upon his exhaustive scientific studies, and upon the most careful practical considerations, Blaschko bases the demands:

Abolish Regulation!
Away with Brothels!

At the same time, Blaschko is a convinced advocate of the economic theory of prostitution.

Almost at the same time, Cesare Lombroso, the celebrated alienist and criminal anthropologist of Turin, propounded his anthropological theory of prostitution, and enunciated the doctrine, which attracted so much attention, of the “Donna delinquinte e prostituta,” of the “congenital prostitute.”[279] This doctrine found an unconditional supporter in the St. Petersburg syphilologist Tarnowsky; whilst the latter strongly opposed the efforts made by the International Federation, founded in 1875 by Mrs. Josephine Butler, for the abolition of the regulation of prostitution.[280] Ströhmberg, in an interesting work on prostitution,[281] takes the same standpoint as Lombroso and Tarnowsky.


It is, however, noteworthy that quite recently the French observers also, and, above all, the experienced Fiaux, are inclining to the views of Blaschko, of the accuracy of which I myself am now fully convinced, notwithstanding the fact that in my work on prostitution in England,[282] which appeared eight years ago (October, 1900), I still advocated regulation. E. von Düring also, who, as professor of medicine in Constantinople for many years, has made elaborate study of the conditions of prostitution in that town, adheres, in an essay well worth reading, without qualification to the opinion of Blaschko regarding the uselessness of regulation and of brothels.[283]

After this brief enumeration of the most important descriptive and scientific studies of prostitution, we shall now proceed to a short account of the conditions that obtain at the present day.

The idea of “prostitution” is in no respect clearly and sharply limited. Parent-Duchatelet considered that prostitution only occurred

“when a woman was known to have accepted money for this purpose on several successive occasions, when she was openly recognized as being engaged in this occupation, when an arrest had occurred and the offence had thus been definitely discovered, or when in any other way it was proved to the satisfaction of the police” (vol. i., p. 11).

But in this way he entirely excluded the so-called “secret” prostitution—that is to say, he excluded by far the largest category of prostitution.

As soon as we take this latter into consideration, we find it necessary to have a wider conception of the term “prostitution.” This is recognized by the French physician Rey in his little book on “Public and Secret Prostitution” (German edition, p. 1; Leipzig, 1851). He regards as prostitution the act “by which a woman allows the use of her body by any man, without distinction, and for a payment made or expected.”

In this admirable definition we see the two most important characteristics of prostitution: complete indifference with regard to the person of the man demanding the use of her body, and the fact that the act is done for reward. The only point omitted from consideration is the condition mentioned by Parent-Duchatelet—namely, the frequent repetition of the act of prostitution with different men.

Schrank combines all these characteristics of prostitution in a[320] much briefer phrase, by defining them as “professional acts of fornication performed with the human body,” by which, in the first place, we include male and female homosexual prostitution, which are not covered by the definitions previously quoted, and, in the second place, Schrank’s definition lays stress on the fact that in genuine prostitution the monetary reward is the aim of the act of prostitution much more than any kind of enjoyment. Where enjoyment plays a prominent part, in addition to the earning of money, we are no longer concerned with genuine prostitution. Even a prostitute, who in other respects is typically a woman of that class, ceases at that moment and for that time to be a prostitute, when her earnings become a secondary consideration, and the man to whom she gives herself the principal consideration.

For this reason, strictly speaking, a large proportion of secret prostitutes and numerous members of the half-world cannot be reckoned as prostitutes in the proper sense of the term—at any rate, not always; not when, for instance, the man who supports and pays them is at the same time their “lover”;[284] they then belong for the time being to the not less dangerous province of “wild love.” But in practice this distinction cannot be strictly maintained, for the same woman will very frequently undertake a genuine act of prostitution.

It is only the “sale of the sweet name of love,” as the celebrated politician Louis Blanc expresses it, which constitutes prostitution—the complete lack of all spiritual and all personal relationships on the one side, and the ignominious predominance of the mercantile character of the sexual union on the other. Hence there may be prostitution in marriage, although this always remains widely different from the sale of the body to numerous and frequently changing individuals.

The “prostitution” of primeval times, in which social relationships were so utterly different from ours, unquestionably resembled rather the wild love of the present day than our own prostitution. It was sexual promiscuity, not professional fornication. According to Heinrich Schurtz, prostitution is indeed not an exclusive product of higher civilization, but occurs also among primitive peoples, and appears everywhere where the unrestricted sexual intercourse of youth—wild love—is prevented, without early marriage taking its place. But what he describes as prostitution—for example, the living of several unmarried girls in the houses[321] of men—is still no more than a peculiar form of wild love. Still, according to the reports of numerous travellers, there are among primitive peoples also purchasable women, and this must be explained, just as in our own case, from the combined influence of individual, social, and economic conditions.

To my mind there is no doubt that the so-called “religious” prostitution is to be regarded as at least a germinal form and predecessor of the prostitution of the present day. In this case also we had to do with professional fornication; only, although the temple-girls, just like our modern prostitutes, gave themselves indifferently to any man that offered the money paid for this service, that money did not, in the case of religious prostitution, go to the girl herself, but to the deity, or to the crafty priests who represented him; thus the priests really played the part of our modern brothel-keepers. It is absolutely unquestionable that in this religious prostitution a more ideal element also played a part. This subject was discussed at considerable length above (pp. 100-112).

Prostitution is everywhere a product of the growth of large towns; its peculiar characteristics are developed only in large towns. To the country it was always foreign until those beautiful times of the middle ages, in which prostitution was regarded as a necessary of life, like eating and drinking, and was organized in guilds, so that everywhere “women-houses” were instituted for the public, unconstrained use of all classes, for peasant and prince. At that time quite small towns also had their brothels. The appearance of syphilis, and the awakening of modern individualism, brought these conditions to an end; the brothels disappeared everywhere; and this tendency to a continuous decrease of barrack prostitution, to a progressive diminution in the number of brothels, has continually strengthened. On the whole, the rural districts to-day do not know prostitution; there we have only free love and wild love. The existence of prostitution is confined to the large towns, because in these all the necessary conditions are fulfilled, and, above all, because in large towns the possibilities for the gratification of the sexual impulse by marriage or by free love are in the case of men much more limited than they are in the country. In the town there is even a demand for prostitutes, but not in the country. It is true that the demand on the part of men does not correspond to the extension which modern prostitution has assumed in the large towns; this demand corresponds, as it were, to a portion only of prostitution. In his admirable work on the campaign against prostitution[322] (Journal for the Suppression of Venereal Diseases, vol. ii., pp. 311-313) F. Schiller proves that prostitution has not increased merely in proportion to the increase in the male population, but that in reality, in recent decades, it has increased, on the whole, in a much greater proportion than the population, and that different towns exhibit the most remarkable contrasts in the respective ratios of prostitutes to male population.

For example, in Berlin prostitution has increased to an extent almost double that of the increase in male population. A similar relationship is to be observed in other large towns. Everywhere the supply of prostitutes exceeds the demand; and we cannot doubt that by this great supply the need for prostitutes is to a large extent at first aroused. Street-walkers and brothels allure many men to sexual intercourse who otherwise would not have felt any need for it.

But, on the other hand, the existence of a voluntary demand for prostitutes on the part of men is a fact which cannot be denied. In this sense prostitution has been described as mainly a “man’s question.”

Here we touch upon an extremely difficult problem, and one which, as far as I can see, no one before myself has definitely stated, perhaps because no one has ventured to do it—and yet, for our knowledge of prostitution, the question is one of great importance.

What precisely is the “need of man for prostitution” of which Blaschko speaks? Is it merely the sexual impulse? Or is there any other factor in operation?

Certainly the sexual impulse, simple sensuality, plays a large part in this male demand for prostitutes; but this does not explain the fact why married men, and so many men who, if not married, have yet opportunities for other sexual intercourse, have recourse to prostitutes; it does not explain the fact, by which I am myself continually and anew astonished, of the peculiar attractive force which prostitutes exercise upon cultured men with delicate æsthetic and ethical perceptions. Is there any deeper physiological relationship here involved?

I answer this question unconditionally in the affirmative.

It is not by chance that prostitution is mainly a product of civilization, that it finds in civilization its proper vital conditions, whereas in primitive states it cannot properly thrive.

In primitive times, unrestrained by the (just) demands of a higher civilization, and by the social morality intimately associated therewith, men could, without fear or regret, satisfy[323] their wild impulses, no less in the sexual sphere than in others; they could give free play to those peculiar biological instincts of a sexual nature which lie hidden in every man. Their sexual “supra- and sub-consciousness,” to use the happy phrase which Chr. von Ehrenfels invented to denote the dualism of modern sexuality, were still monistic. To-day, however, the primitive instincts are repressed by the necessities of civilized life, and by the coercive force of conventional morality; but these instincts still slumber in every one. Each one of us has also his sexual sub-consciousness. Sometimes it awakens, demands activity, free from all restraint, from all coercion, from all convention. In such moments it seems as if the man were an entirely different being. Here the “two souls” in our breast become a reality. Is this still the celebrated man of learning, the refined idealist, the sensitive æsthetic, the artist who has enriched us with the most magnificent and the purest works of poetry or of plastic art? We recognize him no longer, because in such moments something quite different has awakened to life; another nature stirs within him and urges him with an elemental force to do things from which his “supra-consciousness,” the consciousness of the civilized man, would draw back in horror.

Such a delicate sensitive nature, open to the finest spiritual activities, as that of the Danish poet J. P. Jakobsen, must feel this contrast in an especially painful manner; it is precisely such natures—those in which the extremes we have described appear most sharply and most clearly—which afford us proof of the existence of a double consciousness. The primitive instinct breaks out, like a monomania—of which old psychiatric doctrine of “monomania” we are involuntarily reminded when we see how even men of light and leading, men who in other respects live only in the highest regions of the spirit, are subjected to the domination of this purely instinctive sexualism, so that they lead a “secret” inner life, of whose existence the world has no suspicion.

In “Niels Lyhne” J. P. Jakobsen has admirably characterized this double life.

“But when,” he writes, “he had served God truly for eleven days, it often happened that other powers gained the upper hand in him; by an overwhelming force he was driven to the coarse lust of coarse enjoyments; he yielded, overcome by the human passion for self-annihilation, which, while the blood burns as blood only can burn, demands degradation, perversity, dirt, and foulness, with no less force than the force which inspires the equally human passion for becoming greater than one is, and purer.”


These human instincts can be satisfied only by prostitution. By the purchasable prostitute this desire, described so aptly and with so much insight by Jakobsen, can be fully satisfied. To the origin of the desire we shall return in another connexion. The common, the rough, the brutal animal in the nature of prostitution, exercises a formal magical attractive force on large numbers of men.

Ludwig Pietsch, in his “Recollections of Sixty Years,” vol. ii., p. 337 (Berlin, 1894), tells of the celebrated cocotte of the Second French Empire, Cora Pearl, whom he saw in Baden-Baden:

“I have never been able to understand how it was that she exercised so powerful an attraction. In her appearance, her tumid, painted ‘pug-face,’ the secret was certainly not to be found. Perhaps the influence which she exercised on so many men rested principally in the quality which the royal friend of the Danish Countess Danner described to the latter, when explaining to her the reason of the power, to others quite incomprehensible, which Cora Pearl had exercised on his own heart. He said: ‘She is so gloriously vulgar.’”

This word speaks volumes, and illuminates the peculiar influence of prostitutes and prostitution upon man in an apt and powerful way.[285]

Admirably, also, has Stefan Grimmen, in his novelette “Die Landpartie” (published in Die Welt am Montag, No. 22, May 28, 1906), described this influence, which in this case was exercised by two demi-mondaines lying in the grass, upon the masculine members of a picnic-party, who were so enthralled as completely to forget the ladies of their company. The de Goncourts were also aware of the specific allurement exercised by prostitutes, for in one place in their diary they recommend a wife to adopt certain customs of prostitutes, in order to bind her husband to her for a long time.

In this respect, we cannot fail to recognize a certain masochistic trait in the sensibility of men, which appears especially remarkable when we call to mind the contrast between the nature of the above described spiritually lofty persons and the nature of a prostitute. In this way we should be led to the view that prostitution is in part a product of the physiological male masochism—that is to say, of the impulse from time to time to plunge into the depths of coarse, brutal, sexual lust and of self-mortification[325] and self-abasement, by surrender to a comparatively worthless creature. This attraction towards prostitutes is one of the most remarkable phenomena in the psyche of the modern civilized man; it is the curse of the evolution of civilization.

“The most ideal man also is unable to free himself from his body,” says Heinrich Schurtz; “refinement leads ultimately to an unnatural over-nicety, which must necessarily be permeated from time to time by a breath of fresh unrefinement and coarse naturalism, if it is not to perish from its own inward contradiction.”

In a certain sense the same need finds expression also in Gutzkow’s remark in the “Neue Serapionsbrüder,” vol. i., p. 198 (Breslau, 1877), that man sometimes has a need for “woman-in-herself,” not woman with the thousand and one tricks and whimsies of wives, mothers, and daughters.

Without question, this need is much more characteristic of man than of woman. Still, I am not prepared altogether to deny its existence in the latter. In another connexion I shall return to this extremely important question.

Naturally in this we see no more than a favouring factor of the appearance of prostitution in the mass; we do not speak of it as the definite cause of the production of any individual prostitute.

Speaking generally, I consider the dispute regarding the causes of prostitution as superfluous; a number of causes are in operation, and in each individual case it is always an unfortunate concatenation of circumstances, of subjective and objective influences, which have driven the girl to prostitution. The various theories regarding the causes of prostitution have therefore only a relative value. Not one of them explains it wholly; each explanation demands the assistance of others.

This is, above all, true of the celebrated theory of Lombroso, regarding the “born prostitute,” a theory which states, to put the matter shortly and clearly, that the girl is born with all the rudimentary characteristics of a prostitute, and that these rudimentary characteristics have also a physical foundation, in the form of demonstrable stigmata of degeneration.

Lombroso’s “born prostitute” is, above all, distinguished by a complete lack of the moral sense, by typical “moral insanity,” which is the true “root” of the prostitute life, for he regards that life as very little dependent upon the sexual. Prostitution, therefore, according to Lombroso, “is only a special case of the early tendency to all evil, of the desire which characterizes the morally idiotic human being from childhood upwards, to do that[326] which is forbidden.”[286] The individual cause of prostitution, according to this view, is to be found, not in the sexual, but in the ethical province. With the ethical defects are associated greediness, the love of finery, a tendency to drink, vanity, dislike of work, mendacity, and an inclination towards criminality. To this moral degeneration there corresponds the presence of stigmata of degeneration, such as anomalies of the teeth, cleft palate, abnormal distribution of the hair, prominent ears, asymmetry of the face, etc.

The above-described type of degenerate woman does, as a fact, exist. But, in the first place, such women constitute only a small fraction of prostitutes, and such women are found following other occupations. Thus, the expression “born prostitute” is a false one; it should run, “born degenerate,” for not all born degenerates become prostitutes.

In the second place, not all degenerate prostitutes are born degenerates. In many cases the degeneration is a result of the professional unchastity.

“No one,” says Friedrich Hammer, “who has not personally investigated the matter can conceive how rapidly and completely the process of transformation from an honourable girl into a prostitute proceeds—the transformation into a street-walker. A few weeks before she was clean-looking and trim, perhaps with a somewhat frivolous appearance, but still able to understand the position in which she found herself; now, however, she seems to have completely ‘gone to pieces’; she is dirty and verminous, and on her face is an expression of absolute wretchedness, not, as you perhaps might imagine, of unbridled sensuality—no, rather one of indifference, of complete helplessness and loss of will, of unresponsiveness alike to punishment and to benefit.”[287]

The earlier investigators of prostitution, including the first of all, Parent-Duchatelet, did not fail to recognize that the mental and physical abnormalities of the prostitute were changes due to her mode of life. In many prostitutes we can observe a typical obliteration of the secondary and tertiary sexual characters after a prolonged practice of their profession. Virey remarked, very justly, that “in consequence of the frequent embraces of men, prostitutes gain a more or less masculine appearance”: their neck is thicker, their voice harsher and more masculine (J. J. Virey, “Woman,” pp. 157, 158; Leipzig, 1827).

Most prostitutes have done more or less injury to the functions of the human body, have completely disordered their sexual life,[327] and are sterile. It is not to be wondered at that this sometimes manifests itself in their outward appearance—as, for example, in the slight development of the breasts, which often amounts to a simple atrophy. The “unmistakable development” of the tertiary characters of the male in individual prostitutes, which has led Kurella to propound the interesting hypothesis that prostitutes are a sub-variety of the homosexual,[288] rests for the most part upon their assumption of a masculine mode of life and masculine habits, which in the long-run cannot fail to influence also the bodily development—as, for example, smoking and the excessive use of alcohol, pot-house life, gluttony, and other masculine habits. The “deep masculine voice” of many prostitutes is unquestionably in most cases the result of the excessive use of tobacco and alcohol. To this striking gradual change in the voice Parent-Duchatelet devoted considerable attention (vol. i., pp. 86-88, of the German edition); it also attracted Lippert’s notice. Parent-Duchatelet refers the common development in prostitutes of the masculine voice to their excessive indulgence in alcoholic beverages, and to their exposure to frequent changes of weather (catching cold, etc.). Smoking also certainly plays a part.

Lippert draws attention to other changes (“Prostitution in Hamburg,” pp. 80 and 90):

“By the daily practice of their profession for many years their eyes acquire a piercing, rolling expression; they are somewhat unduly prominent in consequence of the continued tension of the ocular muscles, since the eyes are principally employed to spy out and attract clients. In many the organs of mastication are strongly developed; the mouth, in continuous activity either in eating or in kissing, is conspicuous; the forehead is often flat; the occipital region is at times extremely prominent; the hair of the head is often scanty—in fact, a good many become actually bald. For this reasons are not lacking: above all, the restless mode of life; the continued running about in all weathers in the open street, sometimes with the head bare; the often long-lasting fluor albus from which they suffer;[289] the incessant brushing, manipulation, frizzling, and pomading of the hair; and, among the lower classes of prostitutes, the use of brandy.

“The rough voice is the physiological characteristic of the woman who has lost her proper functions—those of the mother.”

However, the majority of youthful prostitutes exhibit purely feminine characteristics; it is only late in life that the above-described[328] type becomes predominant, and this shows us that the masculine characteristics are the result of objective influences. From five to ten years bring about a notable difference. In the year 1898 I treated a maidservant for syphilis. At that time she was of an elegant, genuinely feminine appearance. Seven years later, in the year 1905, I saw her once more. What a change! Her face was bloated and widened; her eyes, once so bright and clear, had become cloudy and expressionless; her voice was rough; all the specific feminine forms and characters had been obliterated by extreme corpulence. It was no longer a woman, it was a “prostitute,” a special type of humanity, but one which had been gradually produced, and as a result of no more than six years of the practice of professional prostitution.

These facts do not by any means exclude the existence of genuine degenerates among prostitutes in a greater percentage than among non-prostitutes;[290] nor do they exclude the existence of genuine homosexuals among prostitutes. To this extent Lombroso’s theory contains a nucleus of truth; but it concerns only a fraction of the entire world of prostitutes. Lombroso has himself been repeatedly compelled to recognize the frequency with which he has encountered among prostitutes women of normal appearance, and even beautiful women.[291]

Finally, the doctrine of the “born prostitute” is contradicted by the fact that the same types of degenerate which are described by Lombroso among prostitutes are found also among women who are not prostitutes.[292] In fact, Lombroso has been led to this view by the recognition of an “equivalent of prostitutes among the upper classes”; but in this way he has only proved that the same moral degeneration that is encountered in a certain proportion of prostitutes is also seen in misconducted women of other and higher classes. There are, in fact, prostitute natures among the “upper ten thousand.”

The best limitation of the general value of the doctrine of the “born prostitute” is the concluding chapter of Lombroso’s book[329] upon “Occasional Prostitutes.” He begins with the pertinent remark:

“Not all prostitutes are ethically indifferent—that is to say, they are not all born prostitutes; in this province opportunity also plays its part.”

Lombroso proceeds to develop this thesis, thus markedly limiting the application of his own theory, and recognizing that, in addition to natural predisposition, quite other causes and influences come into play in the production of prostitution.

Above all, the economic factors are of greater importance in the genesis and growth of prostitution, even though their influence is not an exclusive one.

I distinguish here between real, genuine poverty (lack of food, proper housing accommodation, etc.) and merely relative poverty. Hitherto, in considering the economic causes of prostitution, these two elements have not been distinguished with sufficient clearness.

The fact that real, absolute poverty and lack of the necessaries of life drives many girls to a life of prostitution can, in view of recent statistical data, no longer be disputed. More exact material dealing with this subject is to be found in the above mentioned writings of Blaschko, one of the principal advocates of the economic theory of prostitution; also in the works of Georg Keben,[293] Oda Olberg,[294] Anna Pappritz,[295] Pfeiffer,[296] Paul Kampffmeyer,[297] E. von Düring,[298] and many others. Here we have a superabundant material, a quantity of distressing and tragical individual data and proofs of Gutzkow’s thesis, that the material evils of society always and everywhere undergo transformation into immorality. Here unquestionably must we first apply the lever for the removal of this economic predisposing condition of prostitution. Hic Rhodus, hic salta! I am myself firmly convinced[330] of this fact, although I do not consider that the causes of prostitution are to be found exclusively in economic conditions—an opinion which Anna Pappritz, for example, maintains in the most extreme form. It is quite true, however, that our entire sexual life at the present day is so intimately connected with the social question that the reform of the sexual life demands as an unconditional preliminary a reform of economic conditions. Prostitution on the large scale, as it manifests itself in modern days, and its continuous increase to an extent quite unparalleled in former times, is only explicable by the rapid transformation of economic conditions—as, for example, by the concentration of population in large towns, by the industrial revolution, and by the development of great aggregations of capital, by the consequent greatly increased severity of the struggle for existence, the postponement of marriage, and the ever-increasing number of individuals who are not economically and professionally independent. The increase in child-labour (naturally we refer especially to children of the female sex) has also to be considered as a remarkable phenomenon of modern industrial life; but, above all, we must take into account the fact that woman’s work is on the average regarded at a very low valuation, and is paid accordingly.

The insufficiency of their earnings is the immediate cause of the fact that so many women and girls seek accessory earnings in the form of prostitution. It is well known that employers reckon on this fact in drawing up their pay-lists, and frequently are so brutally cynical as to point out to their female employees the possibility of increasing their earnings in this manner—one very convenient to the employer!

The Reichsarbeitsblatt, No. 2, of the year 1903, publishes a very remarkable account of the conditions of work and life of the unmarried female factory employees in Berlin. It is based upon the reports of the professional factory inspectors in Berlin, who have access to material affording them accurate information regarding the mode of life of factory women. The reports concern 939 unmarried factory hands, and include all occupations in which in Berlin a considerable number of women were employed. The average age of the women who came under observation was 2212 years; the oldest was 54 years; 53·5 % of the whole number were over 21 years of age; 42 % were between 16 and 21 years of age; 4·5 % were below 16 years of age. The average number of hours of daily work was 912; 3·2 % of all the women worked from 712 to 8 hours; 37·2 %, 8 to 9 hours; 47·7 %, 9 to 10 hours;[331] and 11·9 %, 10 to 11 hours. The weekly wage amounted on the average to 11·36 marks (shillings); individually, the wages were very variable; 4·3 % of the women were paid less than 6 marks (shillings); 1·1 % were paid from 20 to 30 marks (shillings). In a very large majority of instances the wages varied between 8 and 15 marks. Supplies from a source independent of their wages, in the form of money, clothing, and means of subsistence, were received, according to their own statement, by 88 of the women; among these, 41 were assisted by parents, 4 by other relatives, 3 in other ways; 542 of those examined lived with their parents, 57 with other relatives—that is, altogether 64·2 of the total number—21·5 % lived in common lodging-houses, 14 % in their own rooms. The worst-paid workwomen lived chiefly with their parents; as soon as the wage sufficed to support them away from home a great many left their parents’ houses. The housing accommodation was ascertained in 846 instances; in 758 of these a single room constituted the dwelling, in 82 cases a kitchen, in 2 cases an attic, in 3 some other room. In isolated cases quite unsuitable places were used to sleep in. Speaking generally, the conditions were worse than appears from the above figures. Of 832 workwomen, only 169 had a room to themselves; 193 slept in a room with one other person, and 470—that is, 56·6 %—with several persons. With regard to the cost of their dwellings, there were 464 reports; the average payment was 1·79 marks (shillings) per week. The cost of the food (dinner and lesser meals) amounted on the average, in the case of 568, to 6·77 marks (shillings); of these, 205 paid less than 6 marks (shillings), 109 more than 8 marks (shillings) per week. The total cost for lodging and food amounted in the case of 867 workwomen on the average to 7·62 marks; 44·7 % had their principal meal at midday; 55·3 % in the evening; 79·4 % took it at home; 9·4 % in the factory; 11·2 % in a public kitchen, a cooking-school, or an eating-house. With regard to the expenditure for clothing, etc., very scanty details were obtained—too scanty to be worth recording. Of the 939 workwomen of whom inquiry was made on the point, 197, or 21 %, contributed money to the education or support of relatives or children; about 10 % paid (direct) taxes, with a mean expenditure of 8 pfennige (one penny) per week. For amusement, 233 women recorded an average weekly expenditure of 1 mark (shilling). To a considerable number of those examined it was possible to put a little money by; in most cases the amount averaged from half to one mark (sixpence to one shilling) per week; in many cases, however,[332] the money saved was spent at some other time during the year, in consequence of diminished earnings or illness. The figures obtained, although in many cases they require further examination, elaboration, and illustration, still suffice to show that much remains to be done for the improvement of the conditions of life of female factory employees.

That these wages are quite insufficient is shown by the following table of the daily expenditure of a sempstress for food and lodging (based on the reports of von Stülpnagel):

  Mk. Pf.
Bedroom and coffee 0 20
Second breakfast 0 15
Dinner (midday) 0 30
Afternoon tea 0 15
Supper 0 20
Two bottles of beer 0 20
Total 1 20

That amounts per week to 8 marks 40 pfennige (eight shillings and fivepence) for board-lodging. For the rest, clothing, washing, and a little amusement, have to be provided for, and this is only possible in the case of the highest wages, varying from 12 to 15 marks; but this higher wage often enough suffices, as Anna Pappritz herself admits. In many cases the weekly wage is only 5 to 8 marks. In the majority of occupations connected with the manufacture of ready-made clothing, trade is only brisk for four to six months in each year. Thus, there is necessarily a great deal of unemployment.

According to the Statistical Annual for the town of Berlin for the year 1907, the annual wages amounted:

For  tailoresses  to  457  marks
„  sempstresses 486
„  hand buttonhole workers 354
„  machine buttonhole workers 700
„  other women factory employees 354

According to the report of the Statistical Bureau, the average yearly income of women factory employees throughout the German Empire was only 322 marks!

It is, therefore, no matter for surprise that the industrial councillors of Frankfurt-on-the-Main and of Wiesbaden, in their published reports on the wages of female factory employees for the year 1887, state:


“In Frankfurt, at the end of last month, among 226 persons under the observation of the police des mœurs (that is, not reckoning secret prostitution), 98 were female factory employees. Since for their necessary bare support (food and sleeping accommodation only), the minimum daily sum needed is 1·25 marks, it appears that the wages which can be earned by female employees of 1·50 to 1·80 marks can hardly suffice to provide for all their needs. It would seem, therefore, that the lowness of their earnings must play some part in the matter under discussion.”

The reports of the industrial councillors of Düsseldorf, Posen, Stettin, Neuss, Barmen, Elberfeld, Gladbach, Erfurt, etc., have a similar signification.

Important in relation to the incontrovertible connexion between material poverty and prostitution is the fact that in the majority of cases the prostitution of female factory employees is only occasional, and not professional prostitution—that is to say, such women have recourse to prostitution only when compelled thereto by deficient means.

As regards genuine professional prostitution, female factory employees, who live in a state of comparative freedom, contribute a smaller contingent of recruits than maidservants, whose position is always a more dependent one, and who are much less experienced in the struggle for existence, although, generally speaking, they live in better conditions. From a computation based upon figures for the years 1855, 1873, and 1898 (those for 1855 and 1898 relating to far too small a number of cases), Blaschko derives the opinion that formerly female factory employees provided a greater number of recruits to prostitution than they do at present; but that, on the contrary, the contribution of maidservants to the ranks of professional prostitution has enormously increased. This assertion cannot pass without contradiction. Gross-Hoffinger, in the work previously mentioned, pointed out that the class of maidservants was the true nucleus of prostitution, and devoted to this fact a long and illuminating chapter of his book. And at about the same time (1848) Lippert also wrote (op. cit., p. 79): “The principal sources of prostitution are maidservants, sempstresses, flower-girls, tailoresses, hairdressers, shop-girls, and barmaids.” (Gross-Hoffinger himself emphasizes the word “maidservants.”)

We see, therefore, that the preponderance of ex-maidservants in the ranks of professional prostitution is by no means a new phenomenon, although, possibly, that preponderance is even greater now than it was in former times. And though in isolated instances it may happen that simple poverty forces a maidservant[334] to become a prostitute, this explanation does not suffice for the generality of cases. The same reservation must be made in respect of seduction and illegitimate motherhood as causes of prostitution. And in so far as poverty is a cause, we must speak rather of relative poverty, poverty which has more of a subjective than an objective character.

Schiller rightly remarks, in his admirable essay on the “Prevention of Prostitution,” that in respect of prostitutes who have been maidservants, in the majority of cases there can be no question of insufficient wages and actual poverty (if we except the badly paid servants in public-houses, laundry-maids, and a few others), since the maidservant receives, in addition to her wages, free board and lodging, and therefore is in a much better position than the majority of female factory employees and of women engaged in home industries. Notwithstanding this, maidservants supply the largest proportion of prostitutes.

The majority of maidservants come from the country, where lax views prevail regarding sexual relationships. In addition, girls usually come to town when still very young. The want of education and experience of life is, in their case, very striking; and this is increased by their permanently dependent position, in contrast with the early independence of the town factory-women, who are speedily initiated into all the possible evils of town life. In addition, there comes into the question an influence which hitherto has been underestimated: the love of finery. Among maidservants this is especially powerful, since, in this respect, they are continually exposed to suggestive influences, arising from the clothing of their mistresses. This love of dress, in association with a far greater unscrupulousness in sexual matters than exists among workwomen, drives many servant-girls, even without real poverty, to prostitution. After they have lost their place, after they have acquired a distaste for work, have given birth to an illegitimate child, or have been infected with venereal disease, they very readily enter the ranks of professional prostitution.

This subjective psychological factor plays nearly as great a rôle as the economic factor. Blaschko himself draws attention to the fact that, in proportion to the hundreds of thousands of women who are compelled to earn their bread by hard, badly paid toil, the number of those who ultimately become prostitutes is really almost infinitesimally small; and that, therefore, we must regard as accessory causes of prostitution, defective will-power, want of industry, of perseverance, and of moral instincts, and, finally, also—and here Lombroso is justified—congenital deficiency. Hellpach[335] is right when, in his most readable essay on “Prostitution and Prostitutes” (Berlin, 1905), he lays the principal stress on this “social-psychological” explanation of prostitution, and regards the purely economic factor as “the ultimate turning-point” in the fatal road that leads to prostitution. (Earlier than Hellpach, Anton Baumgarten attempted to give a social-psychological explanation of prostitution. See his essays, containing much valuable material, “Police and Prostitution,” and “The Relations of Prostitution to Crime,” published in the eighth and eleventh volumes respectively of the “Archives of Criminal Anthropology.”)

We must, therefore, hold firmly to the fact that the most diverse and heterogeneous vital conditions may ultimately lead to prostitution. Among these, lack of education, premature habituation to sexual depravation by casual observation and by deliberate seduction, play an important rôle. And these causes are themselves to a large extent secondary to the miserable housing conditions in great towns, recently so dramatically described by von Pfeiffer and Kampffmeyer.

“It is easier,” says Pfeiffer, “to thunder against immorality from the top of a lofty tower, than it is to resist every allurement in dull, narrow dwellings, in the midst of poverty and deprivation.... The lodger flirts with the wife; the married or free-loving pair, also living in the house, do not wait to begin their caresses until the children are out of the way. The children are witnesses of many scenes which are little adapted to the preservation of pure morals; they see things which they later come to regard as matters of course, and when they have the opportunity they act in the same way themselves, for they have not learned otherwise, and they think that every one does the same....

“The servant-girl becomes pregnant; no one knows what has become of her child’s father. Driven out of her place, she remembers that she has a married sister, and after long search she finds her in a damp basement dwelling. This dwelling consists of a single room and a dark kitchen; three shivering, dirty children are playing on the floor; the husband is out of employment; but still they can find room for this sister-in-law and her illegitimate child. Then perhaps there are better days for a time. But within the narrow limits of the one-roomed dwelling the association is too intimate, and the sister-in-law again becomes pregnant, and ultimately in the same week both the sisters are delivered as the result of impregnation by the same man. When we think how all this has taken place in the only available room, we can understand that the children must have seen a great deal little suited to childish eyes.”

The housing statistics of Berlin for the year 1900 give horrible reports regarding this, and even much worse conditions—conditions[336] which are sufficiently explained when we consider how often families living in a single room take in a male or a female lodger for the night. One-roomed dwellings in which from four to seven sleep every night are common; those in which eight to ten sleep are by no means rare!

After what has been said above, no elaborate demonstration is needed to show that alcoholism everywhere, in the most diverse conditions, prepares the soil for prostitution. Kräpelin and O. Rosenthal have thoroughly exposed this intimate connexion between prostitution and alcoholism.

An even more important source of prostitution is to be found in procurement and in the traffic in girls—this grave social evil of our time. How often are children initiated into the practice of prostitution, for the sake of pecuniary gain, by their own parents, or by some other individual devoid of all moral feeling, and taught to serve as mere instruments of earning money by lust! Paris offers more examples of this traffic than any other European city, but London is not far behind, as was proved by the Pall Mall Gazette scandals of 1883, to which we shall return in another connexion. In Berlin itself in recent years the number of half-grown, and even childish, prostitutes has enormously increased. Prostitutes from thirteen to fourteen years of age are no longer rare.

An even sadder phenomenon is the modern traffic in girls, a characteristic product of the age of commerce, although earlier times were, indeed, familiar with it, especially France in the eighteenth century,[299] witness more especially the accounts of the celebrated Parc-aux-Cerfs.

The modern traffic in girls[300] is intimately connected with the[337] brothel question. We can, in fact, assert that if there were no brothels there would be no traffic in girls. This is proved also by the growing dislike to brothels felt by prostitutes, who prefer a free life. For this reason, it becomes more and more difficult for the keepers of brothels to obtain inmates, and the international traffic in girls attempts to fill the continually increasing deficiency in the number of girls entering brothels.

The traffic in girls is to-day almost exclusively recruited from Eastern Europe. As regards its original sources, we find that Galicia—i.e., Austrian Poland—supplies 40 %, Russia 15 %, Italy 11 %, Austria-Hungary 10 %, Germany 8 %, of the “White Slave Trade.” Most of the girls are transported to the Argentine, where we find them in the brothels.[301]

The traders in girls, or “kaften” as they are called in Brazil, are, for the most part, Polish Jews. Rosenack shows, in his report on the campaign against the traffic in girls (a campaign actively taken up by the Western European Jewish Unions, and especially by the Jewish Association for the Protection of Girls and Women), that five out of six of the Galician Jews engaged in this traffic are what are called “Luftmenschen” (men of air)—that is, men without any definite or secure means of livelihood—and that only an improvement in their social conditions can put an end to the traffic in girls. As regards that part of the world, he considers that the measures resolved upon by the National and International Conference for the Suppression of the Traffic in Girls (Berlin, 1903; Frankfurt-on-the-Main, 1905) are not adapted to offer any important hindrances to the traffic. More effective has been the work of the Jewish Branch Committee in Germany for the suppression of the Galician traffic in girls. Dr. Rosenack, Berta Pappenheim, and Dr. Sera Rabinowitsch, in furtherance of the work of the committee, studied the local conditions; the population was instructed verbally and by leaflets and pamphlets. Endeavours have been made to improve the economic condition of the workwomen of Galicia. For this purpose, instructed female assistants are sent from Germany to Galicia. It has been possible to awaken in Galicia general[338] interest in the work of the suppression of traffic in girls. In a Conference held at Lemberg, the Galician clubs and Jewish committees made representations to German and other societies, in order to formulate a plan, and to devise measures for the improvement of Galician conditions.

In Buenos Ayres, the principal town of entry for Galician girls, a committee has been formed to oppose the traffic in girls, the members of this committee being of all religions and nationalities. This has had one good effect—that the traders in girls have become alarmed; they no longer practise their profession so openly as before. The Argentine police are also taking an active part in the fight with the traffic. Not more than two of the judges at Buenos Ayres were found to make common cause with the “traders,” and to discharge them on receipt of large bribes. A law has been drafted for the punishment of those engaged in this traffic, by imprisonment for six years and confiscation of their property.

The traders in girls constitute an international ring, and the centre of their organization is in Buenos Ayres.

In Berlin, since 1904, there has existed a central police organization for the suppression of the international traffic in girls, the activity of which extends throughout the Empire. Every case of this traffic which comes to the notice of the police in Germany is reported to the central police organization. This draws up a list of all the traders in girls whose names are definitely known. It has started an album containing photographs of traders who have been punished, and it exchanges experiences with the police of other countries. It is to be hoped that in comparison with the other countries of Europe the number of German girls exported to brothels abroad will continually grow smaller, and that the local measures undertaken in Galicia and the Argentine will have a good effect in limiting, and ultimately suppressing, this traffic.

Henne am Rhyn has shown that to and from other countries—for example, from England to Belgium and Germany (Hamburg), from Galicia to Turkey, from Italy to North America, etc.—individual girls are transported. According to Felix Baumann, the number of traders in girls in New York approaches 20,000. They have close relations to the police, and they employ young handsome men, called “cadets,” to attract the girls. The abolition of brothels would here also be the best means of abolishing the traffic in girls.

Having now learned the sources of prostitution, we must proceed to give a brief account of the places in which it is carried on.[339] Here we have first of all to distinguish public from secret prostitution.

As regards public prostitution, there are only two principal varieties to consider: street prostitution, where the women seek their victims in the streets, in order to carry them off either to their own dwellings or to houses of accommodation; and brothel prostitution. At the present day in most countries public street prostitution is far the most general form, and this is especially true as regards Germany, where in a few towns only brothels continue to exist. In many places this street prostitution—for example, in the Friedrichstrasse of Berlin, and also on the boulevards of Paris—gives rise to conditions which recall the worst days of imperial Rome. The contact between public life and professional prostitution is unquestionably a great evil. The activity of prostitutes in the open streets, the shameless and lascivious display of their sexual charms, their bold solicitation coram publico, the stimulating character of professional unchastity—all these poison our public life, obliterate the boundary between cleanliness and contamination, and display daily a picture of sexual corruption—alike before the eyes of the pure, blameless girl, those of the honourable wife, and those of the immature boy. Aptly has this street prostitution been termed the cloaca of our social life, which empties into the open street, whereas at least brothel prostitution only represented a hidden cloaca, whose offensive odour need not annoy all the world, as inevitably happens in the case of street prostitution. In addition, we have to consider the serious dangers involved in the practice of professional fornication in private dwellings and houses of accommodation, as they involve the decent families living in such houses. What do the children living in such houses see and hear? Frequently prostitutes are admitted to confidential family intercourse, and they seduce the daughters of poor people to join them in the practice of prostitution, and the sons to a vicious life or to become souteneurs. That the danger of contamination of the lower classes of the population by means of prostitution is by no means imaginary, is clearly shown by numerous examples from actual life. I subscribe to all that the advocates of brothels say in this respect.

And yet brothels are a still greater evil! They constitute an incomparably more dangerous centre of sexual corruption, a worse breeding-ground of sexual aberrations of every kind, and last, not least, the greatest focus of sexual infection. With reference to the last point, the matter will be discussed more fully in[340] the chapter dealing with the question of regulation in connexion with the suppression of venereal diseases.

The brothel is the high-school of refined sexual lust and perversity. The detailed proof of this I must leave to the descriptions of the two writers most experienced in the life of brothels, Léo Taxil[302] and Louis Fiaux.[303]

It is a fact well known to all that many young men learn in brothels for the first time the manifold and artificial ways in which natural sexual intercourse can be replaced by perverse methods of sexual activity. Here, in the brothel, psychopathia sexualis is systematically taught. And what the old debauchee demands from the prostitute and pays her for, perverse intercourse, is spontaneously offered to the youthful initiate, because competition between the prostitutes, and the hope of a higher payment, lead them to do so. The opinion of the French authors just mentioned is perfectly credible—that there are young men who in this way have learned about perverse sexuality before they were fully acquainted with natural sexuality, and who thus have permanently acquired more inclination for these mysteries of Venus than for a natural and normal sexual intercourse.

Brothel-jargon,” or “brothel-slang,” contains a number of words almost peculiar to this dialect, by which the contra-natural, abnormal methods of sexual intercourse are denoted in a more or less cynical manner; for example, faire feuille de rose = anilinctus; sfogliar la rosa (to pluck the leaves from the rose) = pædicare; faire tête-bêche = reciprocal cunnilinctus of two tribades; punta di penna = masturbatio labialis; pulci lavoratrici (learned fleas!) = tribades, etc.

A learned investigator like Fiaux is led by his observations of many years to the conclusion that brothels constitute not only the most dangerous form of public prostitution, but the most dangerous kind of prostitution that exists at all, and that it is urgently necessary that they should be abolished in all countries as soon as possible.

In addition to the two varieties and localities of “public” prostitution—that is, prostitution carried on under the observation of the police—there is a much more extensive secret prostitution, in connexion with which, however, the word “secret” must always be accepted with reserve, since in its case also it comes more or less under the eye of the public. This secret prostitution[341] is, for example, accessible at numerous places, and these are very different one from another. Secret prostitution also has its types, its peculiarities—in short, its definite local colouring, according to the place in which it is practised. Let us give a brief account of the various localities of secret prostitution.

1. Public-houses with Women Attendants, the so-called “Animierkneipen.”—The waitress (barmaid) is the true exemplar of the secret prostitute, and further, in consequence of the perpetual association with alcoholism, is the most dangerous variety;[304] for the barmaid allures the guest even more to the excessive consumption of alcohol than to sexual indulgence. For this purpose barmaids receive a percentage of the receipts from the sale of liquor, and this sum, in addition to free board, is their only wage.

The “animierkneipen”[305] and the restaurants with women attendants can be plainly distinguished from a considerable distance by their curtained windows, and by the red, green, or blue glass panes over the doors of entry. These coloured panes are so characteristic of these places of lust and gluttony that at the last year’s District Synod of the Friedrichswerder section of the town of Berlin the attempt was made (cf. Vossische Zeitung, No. 248, May 30, 1906) to forbid the use of such illuminated panes for the advertisement of the houses of entertainment in Berlin with female attendants. To this proposal the reasonable objection was made that if this distinguishing mark were abolished, there would be no means of recognizing such places, and therefore no warning signal for blameless individuals.

Many “animierkneipen”—the French similarly term the girls in such places “les inviteuses[306]—by their mysterious-looking interior; by the heavy curtains, which produce semi-obscurity; by small very discreet chambres séparées, lighted by little coloured lanterns and with erotic pictures on the walls; by their Spanish walls and their enormous couches—obtain the appearance of small lupanars. To these the richer customers and the initiates are brought, whilst the ordinary habitual guests commonly assemble in the larger bars, where also music—it must be admitted very[342] bad music—in the form of a piano- or a zither-player, is not wanting.

The whole shameless activity of these “animierkneipen,” in which alcohol and indecency play the principal rôle, has recently been described by Hermann Seyffert in a manner no less perspicuous than true to life.[307] The clients of such places are, for the most part, immature lads, who squander here the money of their parents or their employers; but we find there also the habitual guests, usually elderly married men, who find in this atmosphere a welcome variety in comparison with the monotony of their homes. The quantities of alcohol which are consumed in the “animierkneipen,” both by the guests and by the attendants, are enormous. The barmaids must always drink at the cost of the guests, in order that the sales of liquor may be larger. O. Rosenthal[308] speaks of barmaids who consume twenty to thirty glasses of beer a day, and more, without mentioning brandy and liqueurs!

2. Ball-Rooms and Dancing-Saloons.[309]—Properly speaking, these are only a sub-variety of the places described in Section 1; they are enlarged “animierkneipen,” with the addition of (better) music and of dancing. But the beautiful days of the Bal Mabille and the Closerie des Lilas, or of Cremorne Gardens, the Portland Rooms, the Argyll Rooms, and the Orpheum have long passed away. The majority of the ball-rooms of Berlin and Paris (in London they disappeared long ago) have sunk to a lower level. Prostitution is now dominant. The “intimacy,” which in the earlier more idyllic ball-rooms felt so much at home, is now no longer to be found there. It is only necessary to visit the celebrated ball-rooms of Berlin—the Ballhaus in the Joachimstrasse, the “Blumensäle,” etc., not to speak of the seats of baser prostitution, as, for example, Lestmann’s Dancing-Saloon—in order to be aware of this fact. Here also the principal thing is drinking, and always more drinking! In Paris, in the dancing-rooms of Montmartre, we can see the “inviteuses” in full cry; some of the French dancing-rooms, however, appear more attractive from the æsthetic point of view than the haunts of Terpsichore in Berlin. A dancing-saloon that was not exclusively[343] concerned with prostitution was that of Emberg in the Schumannstrasse, but in the year 1906 this was closed for ever. Now, similar great ball-rooms exist, properly speaking, only in the suburbs—in Halensee, Grünau, Nieder-Schönhausen, etc. Here also, however, the dance is not the principal thing—procurement and prostitution are widely diffused, as was pointed out fifty years ago by Thomas Bade in his essay, in this respect most convincing, “Ueber Gelegenheitsmacherei und Öffentliches Tanzvergnügen”—“Procurement in Relation to Public Ball-Rooms” (Berlin, 1858).

3. Variety Theatres, Low Music-Halls, and Cabarets.—The principal object of these places, so characteristic of our time, is “to kill time” in as amusing a manner as possible, “amusement” being what the “average sensual man” of to-day, dull and empty-headed, demands. What he wants is the satisfaction of his desire for sensations by the appearance of more or less décolleté singers, dancers, acrobats, male and female, by the representation of tableaux vivants in which the parts are played by beautiful women, by the kinematograph, or by pantomime, by spicy songs, by the performance of clever jugglers, by wrestling and boxing matches between men and women, by juggling, and all kinds of spectacles, etc. In short, the most diverse “varieties”—hence the name—of amusement are offered here, and it is significant that these places of pleasure first appeared in the great seaports of Liverpool, London, Hamburg, and Marseilles, where the sailors, after the weary monotony of long sea voyages, found satisfaction in the variegated display of enjoyment offered to them in such places. Now the monotony, the emptiness of their life, drives innumerable crowds of townsmen to the variety theatres, which, even though as little as the drinking-saloons can they be called true “places” of prostitution, still serve as localities in which prostitutes meet their clients; and in this way evening after evening a large number use them as the field of their activities.

The lowest class of variety theatre, the “Tingel-Tangel” (low music-hall), also euphemistically called “Academy of Music,” is, in fact, nothing more than a brothel, the only difference being that the actual sexual intercourse does not take place in the house itself, as so often occurs in the similar “animierkneipen.” The singers appearing in these “tingel-tangel” are all low-class prostitutes. In most cases, whilst one of their number is practising the “art of song” (sit venia verbo), the others, sitting about the hall in shameless décolleté, display their charms, and incite[344] (“animieren”) the visitors to drink. Clerks and students form the indulgent audience; in seaport towns the audience consists generally of sailors. Who is not familiar with the most celebrated tingel-tangel streets in the world, the Spielbudenplatz and the Reeperbahn, in St. Pauli, near the docks of Hamburg? In these streets we see one variety theatre after another, and all are crowded by a smoking, drinking audience, taking part in the choruses of the songs. A peculiar kind of these places of pleasure is constituted by the so-called “Rummel,” a speciality of Berlin. Wherever, within or without the town limits, by the demolition of old houses or in any other way, a large area remains free from building for a considerable time, these tingel-tangel proprietors invade the place, erect merry-go-rounds and cake-stalls, and there develops in the place a manifold activity, in which the lower classes of the population exclusively share. Here the very lowest types of prostitute seek their prey, and find it.

4. “Boarding-Houses” (“Pensionate”) and Maisons de Passe (Houses of Accommodation).—Anyone walking through the streets of Berlin will not fail to notice boards at the doors of certain houses, bearing the inscription, “Here rooms can be hired by the month, week, or day.” I do not assert that this announcement always represents an invitation to fornication, or the provision of an opportunity therefor; but in many cases these announcements serve as indications of the “intercourse” obtainable in such dwellings. Often several stories, or even the entire house, is devoted to this purpose. It professes to be a “Private Hotel” or Furnished Lodgings; but in reality it is a masked brothel, a “house of accommodation” for prostitutes and their clients, a place in which the landlord—in most cases the landlord is of the female sex—has for principal occupation the practice of procurement. Other dwellings, without these sufficiently well-known and suspicious boards attached to the door-posts, passing under the less striking name of a “pension,” are adapted rather for the exquisite and artificial enjoyment of the richer classes, and are employed for sexual orgies of a more extensive character, for the procurement and seduction of young girls, and for the assignations of the higher classes of the demi-monde and their clientèle.

5. “Massage Institutes.”—To these distinctly modern establishments, which mainly subserve the purposes of masochistic prostitution, we shall return in the chapter on masochism. Many prostitutes have some knowledge of massage, and masquerade as “masseuses”; their supplementary profession is ordinary prostitution,[345] and for this reason we are justified in alluding to them in this section.

6. The Weibercafés.—These are found in all the large towns, especially in London, Paris, Berlin, Vienna, and Buda-Pesth, and they serve as the principal places in which prostitution is carried on by day. Prostitutes sit here in great numbers hour after hour, and wait for their clients, who, of course, must pay for drinks which are consumed. Certain cafés in Berlin—as, for example, the “Café National,” the Café Keck in the Leipziger Strasse, etc.—are typical nocturnal cafes, in which from the onset of darkness until early in the morning prostitutes await their clients.

Naturally, the above classification does not include all varieties of modern prostitution, which exhibits many other modes of activity. Most of these others, however, have some sort of relationship to the varieties already described, and it is, therefore, unnecessary to deal with them all at length. Prostitution can, of course, be practised anywhere; and its allurements are found in all places in which great numbers of human beings come together.


To prostitution in the wider sense of the term belongs also the “half-world” (“demi-monde”), under which name, first used by the younger Dumas, we include the various categories of “mistresses,” femmes soutenues (kept women), lorettes, cocottes, and fast women.

Alexandre Dumas, in the celebrated passage of his play “Demi-Monde” (Act II., Scene 9), gives by the mouth of Olivier de Jalin the following definition of the half-world:

“All these women have made a false step in their past; they have a small black spot upon their name, and they go in company as much as possible, so that the spot may be less conspicuous. They have the same origin, the same appearance, the same prejudices as good society; but they no longer belong to it, and they form that which we call the half-world (demi-monde), which floats like an island upon the ocean of Paris, and draws towards itself, assumes, and recognizes, everything which falls from the firm land, or which wanders out or runs away from the firm land, without counting the foreign shipwrecked individuals who come no man knows whence.

“Since the married men, under the protection of the legal code, have[346] had the right to banish from the bosom of the family a woman who has forgotten her duty, the morals of married life have undergone a revolution which has created a new world—for what becomes of all these expelled, compromised women? The first of them who found herself shown the door, bewailed her fault, and hid her shame in retirement; but—the second? She sought the first one out, and as soon as there were two of them, they called the fault a misfortune, the crime a mistake, and began to make excuses for one another mutually. Having become three, they asked one another to dinner; having become four—they danced a quadrille. Now round these women there grouped themselves young girls also who had begun their life with a false step; false widows; women who bore the name of the lovers with whom they lived; some of those rapid ‘marriages’ which had lasted as liaisons of many years’ duration; finally, all the women who wished people to believe that they were something else than they really were, and did not wish to appear in their true colours. At the present day this irregular world is in full bloom, and its bastard society is greatly loved by young men. For here love is less difficult than in circles above—and not so expensive as in circles below.”

From the last sentence we see that the original idea of the “half-world” was not so wide as that of the present day; above all, the former notion did not, as it does at present, include the idea of prostitution. The ladies of the half-world of Dumas were “not so expensive” as ordinary prostitutes. Our modern demi-mondaines are characterized by the fact that their price is high. They are prostitutes for the upper ten thousand. And yet they have this in common with the other demi-monde—that they do not, like prostitutes properly speaking, give themselves indifferently to anyone able to pay the price, but they lay stress on the social position of their lover for the time being, and upon his character as a “gentleman.” They can even exhibit something of the nature of love. The modern half-world can most aptly be compared with the Greek hetairism. It forms a characteristic constituent of modern “high life.” Whether this especially manifests itself on the racecourse, at first nights at the theatre, in great charitable bazaars, at masked balls, at fashionable seaside resorts, at Monte Carlo, at floral festivals, and the like, there also we encounter the half-world; and its members, in respect of beauty, toilet, distinguished appearance, cultivation, and conversation, are in no way to be distinguished from the ladies of high society. Certain types of the demi-monde realize, in fact, the ideal of the Greek hetairæ; but even more than these, the modern demi-mondaine represents elaborated enjoyment. These women are thoroughly cultivated, the true law-givers of fashion, the arbiters in every question of taste. Mondaines and demi-mondaines are in outward appearance hardly to be distinguished[347] one from the other; at least, this is the case in Paris, where a witty writer defined the distinction between them in this way—that the former received their lovers only in the daytime, the latter also by night.[310] It is only the connoisseur who is able to detect the “half-world aroma,” that indefinable quality which gives the demi-mondaine such an exceptional value in the eyes of the jeunesse dorée.

From what circles do the recruits of the half-world come? The ladies of the theatre, the stars of the variety stage and of the ballet, send their contingent; the aristocracy is also represented in their ranks; but many a distinguished lorette or “fille de marbre” is of low origin, and yet understands admirably how to adapt herself rapidly to all the demands of high life, to drive her dog-cart as smartly as the most genuine Countess, and in Longchamps, Karlshorst, Ostend, or Trouville, to play the part of the fine lady.

The one distinction between them—and it is the distinction of half a world—is the fact that this fashionable life of the demi-monde is not provided out of their own means, but out of the pockets of one, or more often of several, rich galants.

The type of the “grande cocotte” is encountered in its genuine and unadulterated form only in Paris. Here the demi-mondaine plays a great part in public life. The time of the earlier mistresses of princes, with their political intrigues and their far-reaching spheres of influence, is indeed over—a Lola Montez, an Aurora Königsmark is to-day no longer possible; and yet the Parisian demi-mondaine maintains influential relationships with the new great power of our time—the power of the press. The journalists who are in the service of the demi-monde are by George Dahlen termed the “Press-Fridoline,” because “their pens are paid, not with ducats, but with more or less enviable hours of love in distinguished boudoirs”;[311] and Victor Joze also describes the advertisements—paid for by a night of love, or perhaps only by a smile—which the writers of Paris give in the newspapers to the distinguished cocottes of the Quartier Marbœuf or of the Avenue du Bois de Boulogne, in order to attract the attention of Indian nabobs, Russian Grand Dukes, or American millionaires, to this or that fashionable beauty. This is characteristic of Paris. In other great capitals marketable gallantry does not seek publicity in this way, but pursues a more hidden course.

For what the German, and especially what the Berliners, term[348] the “half-world” is very different from the type we have just described of the true Parisian demi-mondaine. Our half-world (the half-world of Berlin) is recruited for the most part from intelligent prostitutes, who are to be found chiefly in the public gardens, in the Zoological Gardens, in the Lehrter Ausstellungspark, and in the leading restaurants. Here every evening they seek new prey, every evening they sell their charms to a new lover for a definite sum of money; whereas the true lady of the half-world never has at any time more than one or two admirers, who provide for all the expenses of her life, and she never—at any rate in public—practises professional prostitution, as do the women just described.

Finally, there is yet another type, which must not be confused with the demi-monde. This is the international prostitute, who journeys from one place to another, has indeed often the appearance of a distinguished lorette, but leads a much more insecure, unstable life than the true demi-mondaine, and often combines with prostitution the profession of an adventuress. Now she is in Paris, now in London, now at Biarritz, now at Monte Carlo (the principal field of her activity), now in Constantinople, Smyrna, St. Petersburg, or Berlin. Sometimes she undertakes a voyage of discovery to the New World. Germany provides a not insignificant percentage of these international cocottes. Such wanderers are especially well known in the circles of officers and of speculators on the Bourse; by these they are not seldom “recommended,” after the manner in which a traveller is given letters of introduction. They may even be “raffled for,” as recently happened in an officers’ mess in Munich, and so pass to the share of the fortunate (generally much to be commiserated) winner. Abroad they prefer to adopt French or exotic names.

[243] Here, in the phrase “man at length become self-conscious,” we have the animating idea of this work, as it is of all fruitful efforts at the amelioration of the human lot. See the admirable development of this idea in E. Ray Lankester’s Romanes lecture, “Nature and Man”; and also in H. G. Wells’s later writings, more especially “A Modern Utopia” and “New Worlds for Old.”—Translator.

[244] That this opinion is false, I have proved incontestably as regards syphilis in my book, “The Origin of Syphilis” (Jena, 1901). For the European and Asiatic world, syphilis is a specifically modern disease, not more than 400 years old.

[245] Venice, 1534.

[246] “La Lozana Andaluza” (“The Gentle Andalusian”), by Francesco Delicado. Traduit pour la première fois, texte Espagnol en regard par Alcide Bonneau, 2 vols., Paris, 1888. Regarding this work, see my book “The Origin of Syphilis,” vol. i., pp. 36-43.

[247] Cf. also the interesting work of Salvatore di Giacomo, “Prostitution in Naples in the Fifteenth, Sixteenth, and Seventeenth Centuries, based on Unpublished Documents,” revised in accordance with the German translation, and provided with an introduction by Dr. Iwan Bloch (Dresden, 1904).

[248] Reprinted in his “Satyræ Medicæ XX.,” pp. 528-549 (Leipzig, 1722).

[249] Cf. my work on “Rétif de la Bretonne,” p. 504 et seq. (Berlin, 1906).

[250] The contents of this work are enumerated in my above-mentioned book, pp. 505-512.

[251] A. J. B. Parent-Duchatelet, “De la Prostitution dans la Ville de Paris,” third edition, 1857 (Paris, 1836).

[252] F. F. A. Béraud, “Les Filles Publiques de Paris” (Brussels, 1839, 2 vols.).

[253] Dr. Michael Ryan was an acquaintance of Arthur Schopenhauer, who in June, 1829, sent Ryan a copy of his book “Theoria Colorum.” Cf. Eduard Grisebach, “Schopenhauer: the History of His Life,” p. 168 (Berlin, 1897).

[254] M. Ryan, “Prostitution in London, with a Comparative View of that of Paris and New York” (London, 1839).

[255] Cf. in this connexion also the report from other sources given in my “Sexual Life in England,” vol. iii., pp. 315-319, 440-447 (Berlin, 1903).

[256] W. Tait, “Magdalenism: An Inquiry into the Extent, Causes, and Consequences of Prostitution in Edinburgh,” second edition (Edinburgh, 1842).

[257] R. Wardlaw, “Lectures on Female Prostitution; its Nature, Extent, Effects, Guilt, Causes, and Remedy,” third edition (Glasgow, 1843).

[258] F. I. dos Santos Cruz, “Da Prostituiçao na Cidade de Lisboa” (Lisbon, 1841).

[259] “Estabelecimentos de Beneficencia para as Consultas Gratuitas,” pp. 203-206.

[260] A. Potton, “De la Prostitution et de ses Conséquences dans les Grandes Villes, dans la Ville de Lyon en Particulier” (Paris and Lyons, 1842).

[261] E. A. Duchesne, “De la Prostitution dans la Ville d’Alger depuis la Conquête” (Paris, 1853).

[262] “Die Prostitution in Berlin und ihre Opfer” (Berlin, 1846).

[263] C. Röhrmann, “Der sittliche Zustand von Berlin nach Aufhebung der geduldeten Prostitution des weiblichen Geschlechts”—“The Moral Condition of Berlin after the Abolition of Tolerated Prostitution of the Female Sex” (Leipzig, 1846).

[264] F. J. Behrend, “Prostitution in Berlin, and the Measures it is Desirable to Adopt against Prostitution and against Syphilis,” etc. A work based on official sources, and dedicated to His Excellency the Minister von Ladenberg (Erlangen, 1850).

[265] H. Lippert, “Prostitution in Hamburg” (Hamburg, 1848).

[266] A. J. Gross-Hoffinger, “The Fate of Women and Prostitution, in Relation to the Principle of the Indissolubility of Catholic Marriage, and especially in Relation to the Laws of Austria and the Philosophy of our Time” (Leipzig, 1847).

[267] Josef Schrank, “Prostitution in Vienna in Historical, Administrative, and Hygienic Relations” (Vienna, 1886, 2 vols).

[268] “The Moral Corruption of Our Time and its Victims in their Relationship to the State, to the family, and to Morality, with especial Reference to the Conditions of Prostitution in Leipzig” (Leipzig, 1854).

[269] W. M. Sanger, “The History of Prostitution” (New York, 1859).

[270] J. Jeannel, “Prostitution in Large Towns in the Nineteenth Century, and the Abolition of Venereal Diseases.”

[271] W. Acton, “Prostitution in its Various Aspects,” second edition (London. 1874).

[272] Hügel, “The History, Statistics, and Regulation of Prostitution” (Vienna. 1865).

[273] L. Martineau, “La Prostitution Clandestine” (Paris, 1885).

[274] O. Commenge, “La Prostitution Clandestine à Paris” (Paris, 1897).

[275] V. Augagneur, “La Prostitution des Filles Mineures” (Paris, 1888).

[276] L. Fiaux, “La Police des Mœurs en France et dans les Principales Villes de l’Europe” (Paris, 1888); “Les Maisons de Tolérance, leur Fermeture,” 3me édition (Paris, 1862); “La Prostitution ‘Cloitrée’” (Brussels, 1902).

[277] Yves Guyot, “La Prostitution: Étude de Physiologie Sociale” (Paris, 1882).

[278] A. Blaschko, “The Problem of Prostitution,” published in the Berliner Klin. Wochenschrift, pp. 430-435 (1892); “Syphilis and Prostitution from the Hygienic Standpoint” (Berlin, 1893); “Hygiene of Prostitution and of Venereal Diseases” (Jena, 1900); “Prostitution in the Nineteenth Century” (Berlin, 1902); “The Dangers to Health resulting from Prostitution, and the Contest with these Dangers” (Berlin, 1904).

[279] C. Lombroso and G. Ferrero, “Woman as Criminal and Prostitute.”

[280] B. Tarnowsky, “Prostitution and Abolitionism” (Hamburg, 1890).

[281] C. Ströhmberg, “Prostitution: a Socio-Medical Study” (Stuttgart, 1899).

[282] E. Dühren (Iwan Bloch), “The Sexual Life in England,” vol. i., pp. 201-445 (Charlottenburg, 1901).

[283] E. von Düring, “Prostitution and Venereal Diseases” (Leipzig, 1905).

[284] Goethe, in the poem “Der Gott und die Bajadere,” has very beautifully described the ennoblement of gross love by means of ideal love.

[285] Henry Murger, in his “Vie de Bohème,” also alludes to the “incomprehensible” fact that “persons of standing who sometimes possess spirit, a name, and a coat cut according to the fashion, out of their love for the common will go so far as to raise to the level of an object of fashion a creature whom their very servant would not have chosen as a mistress.”

[286] C. Lombroso, “Woman as Criminal and Prostitute,” p. 550.

[287] Friedrich Hammer, “The Regulation of Prostitution,” published in The Journal for the Suppression of Venereal Diseases, vol. iii., No. 10, p. 380 (Leipzig, 1905).

[288] H. Kurella, “A Contribution to the Biological Comprehension of Physical and Psychical Bisexuality,” published in the Zentralblatt für Nervenheilkunde, 1896, vol. xix., p. 239.

[289] Syphilis is not to be forgotten.

[290] This modified Lombrosism is advocated by B. A. H. Hübner in his interesting work concerning prostitutes and their legal relations (Monatsschrift für Kriminalpsychologie, 1907, pp. 1-11). He found that among sixty-four insane prostitutes, under observation in the Hertzberg Asylum in Berlin, not less than 59·45 % were already intellectually defective at the time they had come under police control as prostitutes.

[291] C. Lombroso, “Recent Advances in the Study of Criminals.”

[292] Schrank observes (“Prostitution in Vienna,” vol. ii., p. 216) that striking physical peculiarities do not appear to be either more or less frequent among prostitutes than they are among the generality of the population.

[293] G. Keben, “Prostitution in its Relation to Modern Realistic Literature” (Zurich, 1892).

[294] Oda Olberg, “Poverty in the Domestic Industry of Making Ready-made Clothing” (Leipzig, 1896).

[295] Anna Pappritz, “The Economic Causes of Prostitution” (Berlin, 1903).

[296] Pfeiffer, “Poverty and Overcrowding in Great Towns and in Relation to Prostitution and to Venereal Diseases,” published in The Journal for the Suppression of Venereal Diseases, 1903, vol. i., pp. 135-144.

[297] P. Kampffmeyer, “Poverty and Overcrowding in Great Towns,” etc., published in The Journal for the Suppression of Venereal Diseases, 1903, vol. i., pp. 145-160; “Bad Housing Accommodation in Relation to Prostitution and ‘Night-Lodgers’; the Necessary Legal Reforms,” op. cit., 1905, vol. iii., pp. 165-229.

[298] E. v. Düring, “Prostitution and Venereal Diseases.” p. 11.

[299] Cf. the description of the astonishing development of the French procurement of that day which is given in my “New Researches concerning the Marquis de Sade,” pp. 88-98 (Berlin, 1904). The Marquis de Sade, in his novel “The One Hundred and Twenty Days of Sodom,” has very fully described the traffic in girls of his time. Incredible revelations of this traffic, of the almost absolute power of the procuresses, and of their relations to the police, led in October, 1906, to an action against the procuress Regine Riehl, who, under the mask of a dressmaker’s shop, had for years conducted a brothel, in which the girls were entirely robbed of their freedom, were subjected to corporal punishment, and never received payment for their “work.” Cf. A. Blaschko, The Journal for the Suppression of Venereal Diseases, 1906, vol. v., pp. 427-433; also Karl Kraus, “The Riehl Trial” (Vienna, 1906).