Monogamy And Polygamy
( Originally Published 1936 )
IN expressing my belief in the persistence of marriage I spoke of some form of marriage; I did not say monogamous marriage. Even in the Christian world mono-gamy has not always been the only form of marriage in the past. And there are writers who maintain that it will not be so in the future.
Although the New Testament assumes monogamy as the normal or ideal form of marriage, it does not expressly prohibit polygyny, except in the case of a bishop or a deacon.' It has been argued that it was not necessary for the first Christian teachers to condemn polygyny because monogamy was the universal rule among the peoples in whose midst it was preached; but this is certainly not true of the Jews, who still both permitted and practised polygyny at the beginning of the Christian era. Some of the Fathers accused the Jewish Rabbis of sensuality; but no Council of the Church in the earliest centuries opposed polygyny, and no obstacle was put in the way of its practice by kings in countries where it had occurred in the times of paganism. In the middle of the sixth century Diarmait, king of Ireland, had two queens and two concubiines. Polygyny was frequently practised by the Merovingian kings. Charlemagne had two wives and many concubines; and one of his laws seems to imply that polygyny was not unknown even among priests.' This, of course, does not mean that such a practice was recognised by the Church; nor must the permissions granted to kings be taken as evidence of her rules, for, as the Council of Constantinople decided in 8oq, " Divine law can do nothing against Kings ". Yet in the earlier part of the Middle Ages the strenuous general rule of monogamy was relaxed in certain exceptional circumstances, as in cases of sexual impotency and of enforced or voluntary desertion later times Philip of Hesse and Frederick William II. of Prussia contracted bigamous marriages with the sanction of the Lutheran clergy. Luther himself approved of the bigamy of the former, and so did Melanchthon.On various occasions Luther speaks of polygyny with considerable toleration. It had not been forbidden by God; even Abraham, who was a perfect Christian ", had two wives. God had allowed such marriages to certain men of the Old Testament in particular circumstances, and if a Christian wanted to follow their example he had to show that the circumstances were similar in his case; 6 but polygyny was undoubtedly preferable to divorce, In 1650, soon after the Peace of Westphalia, when the population had been greatly reduced by the Thirty Years' War, the Frankish Kreistag at Nuremberg passed the resolution that thenceforth every man should be allowed to marry two women.' Certain Christian sects have even advocated polygyny with much fervour. In 1531 the Anabaptists openly preached at Munster that he who wants to be a true Christian must have several wives.2 Among the Mormons the duty of polygyny, when economic re-sources permitted, was urged upon the men, both as a means of securing eternal salvation and as a step in harmony with their earthly interests.
Group-marriage or, as it was called, " complex marriage " was practised by the Oneida Community in Madison county, New York, which was established in 1848 by John Humphrey Noyes and consisted mostly of descendants of New England Puritans. It embodied the principle of community of goods and interests, and devised a new system of sexual relation-ships in harmony with this principle. All the men were the actual or potential husbands of all the women, though every man was not free to have children with every woman. This community of wives was based on Noyes' interpretation of certain passages of the New Testament, but he also appealed to the law of nature in support of it. " Sexual love ", he says, " is not naturally restricted to pairs. Second marriages are contrary to the one-love theory, and yet are often the happiest marriages. Men and women find universally however the fact may be concealed) that their susceptibility to love is not burnt out by one honeymoon, or satisfied by one lover. On the contrary, the secret history of the human heart will bear out the caution that it is capable of loving any number of times and any number of persons, and that the more it loves the more it can love. This is the law of nature, thrust out of sight and condemned by common consent, and yet secretly known to all ". Of monogamy we are told that it provokes to secret adultery, ties together unmatched natures, sunders matched natures, gives to sexual appetite only a scanty and monotonous allowance, and makes no provision for the sexual appetite at the very time when that appetite is strongest. In 1879, however, Noyes proposed that the community should give up the practice of complex marriage, not as renouncing his belief in the principles and prospective finality of that institution, but in deference to public sentiment. The Oneida Community then came to an end. The hope, cherished by some of its members, that the discovery of Noyes would in the future be accepted and adopted by the world at large needs no consideration. Group-marriage is supposed by several anthropologists, though quite arbitrarily, to have been the earliest form of marriage, but it may be left out of account in any discussion of the possible modifications of marriage in Western civilization. Genuine group-marriage is known to exist only among peoples who practise polyandry, and then as a combination of polygyny with polyandry.
The suggestion that polygyny will in the future be a legally recognised form of marriage deserves more attention. In England proposals were made, in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, to legalise it as a means of restraining infanticide, adultery, prostitution, and the evils of sexual intercourse outside marriage.* In more recent times James Hinton declared that although monogamy may be good, nay even the only good order, if of free choice, a law for it is another thing. We have arrived at it as a legal and universal form to carry it out in its integrity, and so actually called into being more licentiousness than would be possible under an open polygyny. A forced monogamy is responsible for many of the evils of prostitution, and leads to hatred and quarrels, to intense jealousy in women, and to an insistence on the mere physical relationship which turns spontaneity and purity into corruption. " The woman's natural jealousy is not at a man's loving another but at his forsaking her. So, with the thought of love as necessarily meaning love for one only, two things become identified and the passion of jealousy becomes degraded even from its own poor nature to one infinitely worse. It is the association of love with exclusiveness that has done this ". On the other hand, " how perfect a gain is the idea of polygamy voluntarily accepted—or rather insisted on—by woman (at least the legal right to it) ''; it is the women who will lead the way. That fine polygamy will break down " the restraint on the married women which compels them to hold the position of possessing to the exclusion of others; against their will and wish, but seeming their duty. . . . The wife is set free to give ". Hinton asks how a woman can make a more beautiful gift to her sister than by sharing the finest things in life with her.5 Mrs. Havelock Ellis, who has published extensive extracts from Hinton's manuscript, says that, though his idea was clean and fine, " he failed to realise that his Quixotic cry to wives to become heroines, to distribute joy and to call on men to put aside impurity through a fine polygamy, was to a great extent a masculine claim in its mode of proclamation. Hinton's ` polygamy ' was always a polygyny and never a polyandry ".
Other writers advocate the legalisation of polygyny on more realistic grounds. Dr. Cope sees no objection to voluntary polygyny or polyandry being permitted, if agreed to by all three parties. " Under ordinary circumstances ", he says, " very few persons would be found willing to make such a contract, but there are some cases of hardship which such permission would remedy. Such, for instance, would be the case where the man or woman had become the victim of a chronic disease; or, where either party should be childless, and in other contingencies that can be imagined ". For the most part, he adds, " the best way to deal with polygamy is to let it alone ". So also according to Mr. Southern, the preference that most people give to monogamy is no reason why the State should enforce it: " so far as other forms of marriage can be practised by mutual consent, and without detrimentally affecting children, the State hasn't a ghost of a right to veto them ". Dr. Norman Haire, who maintains that legalised polygamy would offer many advantages for the majority of people, argues that " if the children are supported by the State there need be no limit, except personal inclination, to the number of legal mates a man or woman might have. . . . Before marriage the man and woman would state whether they desired the union to be monogamous or polygamous. If one wanted monogamy and the other were unwilling to agree to this, the marriage would not take place ". Professor Dunlap thinks it may well be that certain individuals cannot attain complete satisfaction in monogamy, but may reach a highly satisfying adaptation in polygynous or polyandrous marriage; and that the system of the future therefore will leave individuals free to form whatever type of matrimonial alliances are most advantageous to them. " Change, variety, newness ", says Mr. Calverton, " seems to be part of the ineluctable demands of the sexual impulse. . . . The change of economic system and social environment alone have rendered monogamy a struggling fiction. It is part of an old age. It cannot be the marital basis of the new. The direction of economic life, and the drive of sexual impulse, are in revolt against it. What has happened in Soviet Russia represents only the vanguard of this change ". But, as a matter of fact, Soviet law lays down that the existence of a registered or an unregistered marriage is an obstacle to the registration of a second one.
In France, Dr. Le Bon has predicted that European legislation in the future will recognise polygyny; and, more recently, Georges Anquetil has strongly advocated it. He argues that both men and, in a smaller degree, women are by nature polygamous, and that monogamous marriage is the outcome of social conditions alone. Like Engels' he attributes it to the subjugation of woman by man and his treatment of her as a piece of property. A return to polygyny, the natural relationship between the sexes, would remedy many evils: prostitution, venereal disease, abortion, the misery of illegitimate children, the misfortune of millions of unmarried women resulting from the disproportion between the sexes, adultery, and even jealousy, since the disregarded wife would find consolation in her cognisance of not being secretly deceived by her husband. Hans Blither maintains that a man really requires for his complete satisfaction two women of different types, one of the " Penelope " type, who creates the home and bears children, and another who, like the Greek lzetaira, gratifies his spiritual needs; and he consequently demands, as a noble and needful institution, " the sacrament of polygyny ", consisting of one man's enduring relation both to a dependent spouse and to a free woman. A radical champion of polygyny is Professor Christian von Ehrenfels, who regards it as necessary for the preservation of the Aryan race. He argues that as among animals the males engage in combats with each other for the possession of the female and the strongest of them become the propagators of the species, so also should the propagation of the human race be brought about by the men who are best suited for this task. As the sexes are about equal in number, polygyny would be a natural consequence of this arrangement, and the women would hardly offer any objection to it, being proud of their motherhood and the distinction conferred on them by it. It seems to have escaped Professor Ehrenfels' attention that in modern society the polygyny proposed by him would presumably become the prerogative of the wealthy men, who are not apt to be the best propagators of the race.
In discussing what chances there may be for polygyny to become a legally recognised institution in Western civilization, the experience of its nature and causes gained from countries where it exists may be of some use. One factor that influences the form of marriage is undoubtedly the numerical proportion of available males and females.l Although our knowledge of the proportions of the sexes among the lower races is very defective, I think we may safely say that whenever there is a marked and more or less permanent majority of marriageable women in a savage tribe polygyny is allowed. I have found no reliable statement to the contrary, and cannot believe that savage custom would make monogamy obligatory if any considerable number of women were thereby doomed to celibacy. But when an excess of females leads to polygyny it is really only an indirect cause of it. It facilitates polygyny or makes it possible, while the direct cause is, generally, the men's desire to have more than one wife. If polygyny were permitted in modern civilization its actual prevalence would also be influenced by the women's feelings about it. It is said that if we reckon the age of marriage from twenty to fifty years, the disproportion between the sexes causes at least three or four women per cent. to be, in normal circumstances, compelled to lead a single life in consequence of our obligatory monogamy. But the introduction of polygyny would by no means guarantee that the number of married women would become larger than it is now. At the lower stages of civilization nearly every man endeavours to marry when he has reached the age of puberty, and practically every woman gets married; but nothing of the kind would happen among ourselves. The number of women who have to remain single on account of the disproportion between the sexes would certainly be a most fragile ground for legalising polygyny.
We shall now consider the main reasons why a man may desire to have more than one wife. Among many peoples the husband must abstain from his wife during her pregnancy. A pregnant woman is often regarded as unclean, that is, more or less dangerous; she may even be forbidden to wait upon her husband or to eat with him, and sexual intercourse with her is also believed to injure or kill the child.' There may, however, be other than superstitious grounds for this taboo, and the superstitions themselves may ultimately have a biological foundation. As soon as the female mammal is impregnated she rejects all advance of the male until, after birth and lactation are over, another period of heat sets in. We are told that all monkeys, as an exception to the rule, tend to have sex intercourse until within a few weeks or even days of parturition; 2 but this, statement is based upon experience of monkeys in captivity, and it is quite possible that captivity has deranged their normal reproductive functions.3 Dr. Havelock Ellis says that " as men have emerged from barbarism in the direction of civilization, the animal instinct of refusal after impregnation has been completely lost in women ", and that, " in civilised women at all events, coitus during pregnancy is usually not less agreeable than at other times and by some women is felt indeed to be even more agreeable ". But Dr. Emanuele Meyer maintains that when sexual excitement is felt by women after impregnation it is due to transitory irritation, and that the majority of pregnant women have no desire for sexual intercourse even with the most beloved husband and, in most cases, no sexual feelings during such intercourse.i Of 81 married women who answered Dr. Hamilton's questions on this subject, 28 stated that pregnancy did not essentially affect their sex desire, 25 that they experienced increased, and 32 that they experienced decreased, desire during one phase or another of at least one pregnancy. But in no case does pregnancy, among ourselves, lead to general abstinence from conjugal intercourse, and however desirable it may be proved to be in certain cases and at certain stages of pregnancy, I think such abstinence is ruled out as a cause of prospective polygyny. The same may be said of abstinence after childbirth until the child is weaned, which is a very widespread cause of polygyny, and all the more important as among simple peoples the suckling-time often lasts for years.
Other reasons for polygyny which are very potent among numbers of peoples, but would not exist at all in modern civilization, are of an economic or social character: it contributes to a man's material comfort or increases his wealth through the labour of his wives, and at the same time adds to his social importance, reputation, and authority. The usefulness of wives as labourers largely accounts for the increasing tendency to polygyny at the higher grades of savage culture; but economic progress also leads to a more unequal distribution of wealth, and this, combined with the necessity of paying a bride-price, the amount of which is more or less influenced by the economic conditions, makes it possible for certain men to acquire several wives whilst others can acquire none at, all. Polygyny thus comes to be associated with greatness and to be regarded as honourable and praiseworthy, whereas monogamy, as associated with poverty, is considered mean.
Polygyny is, moreover, practised as a means of obtaining a large progeny: man in a savage or barbarous state of society is proud of a large family, and he who has most kinsfolk is most honoured and most feared. I think that polygyny would offer no such inducement among us. A different thing is that the barrenness of a wife is a very common reason for the choice of another partner in addition to the former one. The desire for offspring is one of the principal causes of polygyny in the East. The polygyny of the ancient Hindus seems to have been due chiefly to the dread of dying childless, and the same motive persists among their modern descendants. Many a Mohammedan takes an additional wife only if the first one is barren, and he is too much attached to her to divorce her. It was in the hope of obtaining offspring that Anaxandridas, king of Sparta, and Diarmait, king of Ireland, contracted a second marriage.' It is conceivable that some men among ourselves might follow their example if they were. permitted to do so. I knew a fisherman in Finland who divorced his wife because she bore him no child and took another one, and then lived together with both.
We now at last come to two very important causes of polygyny which have a bearing on the question under discussion: the attraction that female youth and beauty exercise upon men, and man's taste for sexual variety. It is these characteristics of the sexual instinct, particularly the latter one, that are thought of when it is said that the man is naturally polygamous and that, consequently, polygyny is in concordance with nature.
From circumstances that lead to polygyny we shall now turn our attention to such as make for monogamy. Where the sexes are about equal in number, or there is an excess of men, and a woman consequently has a fair chance of getting a husband for herself, she will hardly care to become the second wife of a man who is already married, or her parents will hardly compel her to marry such a man, unless some particular advantages, economic or social, are gained by it. Hence the absence of disparity in wealth or rank in a society tends to make monogamy general. To judge by my collection of facts, polygyny has not been practised on a considerable scale by any of the lowest savages, except some Australian and Bushman tribes. Again, where there is inequality of wealth or otherwise considerable social differentiation, the poor or low-class people may have to be satisfied with one wife even though there be an excess of females. We often hear that a man must live in monogamy owing to the price he has to pay for a bride or to the difficulty of maintaining several wives. Such a difficulty would certainly be a great obstacle to polygyny in modern civilization, where so many men cannot afford to maintain even a single wife. The expenses of having several are very frequently increased by the necessity of providing each wife with a separate dwelling. In my collection of facts from the savage world the cases where each wife is said to live in a house by herself are nearly six times as many as those in which the wives are said to live together. The custom of giving a separate dwelling to each wife is intended to prevent quarrels and fights.
True, we often hear that no jealousy or rivalry disturbs the peace in polygynous families. In many cases we are told that the women do not object to polygyny, or that they rejoice at the arrival of a new wife, or themselves bring their husband a fresh one when they become old or prove barren, or that they approve of polygyny because it implies a division of labour, or increases the reputation of the family or the authority of the first wife, or gives greater liberty to the married women. This notwithstanding I have found that polygyny is more frequently reported to be a cause of quarrel and domestic misery in the savage world. In Mohammedan countries, also, it occasions much strife and unhappiness. So far as my experience goes, there is in Morocco nothing that a married woman dreads more than the introduction of a fresh wife, nor. any more frequent object for her witchcraft than to prevent such a fatality or to make her husband incapable of having sexual intercourse with a fellow-wife. In India, both among Mohammedans and Hindus, there is much intriguing and disquiet in polygynous families; and the same seems to have been the case in ancient times—in the Rig-Veda there are hymns in which wives curse their fellow-wives. In Hebrew the popular term for the second wife was hassarah, meaning " female enemy ". In China many women are said to dislike altogether the idea of getting married because they fear the misery which is in store for them if their husbands take other wives; hence some become Buddhist or Taoist nuns, and others prefer death by suicide to marriage. Would the fellow-wives in the West be more amiable to each other than they are in the East? I am not certain that they would; and the husband might have a harder time of it than he has there, for he has not the same coercive power over his wife as has the Oriental husband.
Female jealousy may be a hindrance to polygyny either because the husband for his own sake dreads its consequences, or because his wife simply prevents his taking another wife, or because he has too much regard for her feelings to do so. Even in the savage world a married woman often occupies a respected and influential position, and the relations between man and wife may be of a very tender character. As I have shown else-where, this is said to be the case among many uncivilised peoples who are strictly or almost exclusively monogamous; and I can at least affirm that I am not aware of a single instance in which any such people is reported to treat its women badly. It is true that the position of women may be comparatively good also among peoples who are addicted, and even much addicted, to polygyny; but the case is different with many other peoples who practise it on a large scale.l Hence I think we may assume that considerations for the woman's feelings is one cause of monogamy among the lower races, although this consideration itself may be due to circumstances which also in other respects make for monogamy, such as scarcity of women or economic conditions unfavourable to polygyny. And there can be no doubt that the same cause has been operating among civilised nations which prohibit polygyny.
Apart from the general regard for the feelings of women, there are in sexual love itself elements that tend to make men inclined to restrict themselves to one wife, at least for some time. " The sociable interest ", says Bain, " is by its nature diffused: even the maternal feeling admits of plurality of objects; revenge does not desire to have but one victim; the love of domination ` needs many subjects; but the greatest intensity of love limits the regards to one ". The beloved person acquires in the imagination of the lover an immeasurable superiority over all others. " The beginnings of a special affection turn upon a small difference of liking; but such differences are easily exaggerated; the feeling and the estimate acting and re-acting, till the distinction becomes altogether transcendent ". The absorbing passion for one is not confined to mankind. Hermann Muller,Brehm,and other good observers have shown that it is experienced by birds. Darwin found it among certain domesticated mammals. It has been noticed that even in a generally polygynous species of monkeys, the Hamadryas baboon, the male may care for one female only, once she has become a mother, and for their common offspring, taking no notice of other females.2 Tinklepaugh describes a case of " monogamous attachment " on the part of a young Rhesus monkey, called " Cupid ", living in the Psychological Laboratory of the University of California, to a female common macaque much older than himself, called " Psyche ", that had sexually initiated him. When, two and a half years after their first meeting, two young female Rhesus monkeys were introduced into the laboratory, Cupid proved very antagonistic to their intrusion. On five successive occasions when they were introduced into his cage, after Psyche had been previously removed, he attacked them, even though he had been sexually starved for two or three weeks before three of these incidents; and when Psyche was returned he continued to manifest a strong sexual interest in her.3 In mankind the absorbing passion for one is found not only in civilised but also in savage men and women. Suicide from unsuccessful or disappointed love is by no means infrequent among them, and although apparently more common in women it also occurs in men. But although the absorbing character of his love prevents a man for some time from taking another wife, it does not necessarily prevent his doing so for long. His love of one may be suppressed by his desire for change. As Bernard Shaw remarked, " even those who say there is only one man or woman in the world for them, find that it is not always the same man or woman ".
As pointed out above, the man's taste for variety in sex experience is more intense than the woman's, and this has led to the often repeated statement that he is instinctively polygynous. " Man ", says Dr. Robin-son, " is a strongly polygamous or varietist animal. . . . To a greater percentage of men a strictly monogamous life is either irksome, painful, disagreeable or an utter impossibility. . A man may love a woman deeply and sincerely and at the same time make love to another woman, or have sexual relations with her or even with prostitutes. It is quite a common thing with men ". Michels writes that " although for a short time, or even for considerable periods, a man's sexual affections may appear to assume an exclusive and monogamic form, it is Nature's will that the normal male should feel a continuous and powerful sexual sympathy towards a considerable number of women. . . . We regard it as beyond doubt that there is no man, of whatever degree of virtue, who has not, at least in imagination, or in dream life, possessed more women than one. Attention has been drawn to this fact by an unending series of writers, both of scientific treatises and of belletristic literature. . . . In the male, the stimuli capable of arousing sexual excitement (this term is not to be understood here in the grossly physical sense) are so extraordinarily manifold, so widely differentiated, that it is quite impossible for one single woman to possess them all ".
The question has often been raised whether it is possible for any one to be simultaneously in love with several individuals—which would be the truly polygamous form of the sexual instinct—and it has been answered in the affirmative. Iwan Bloch observes that it is " the extraordinary manifold differentiation of modern civilised humanity that gives rise to the possibility of such a simultaneous love for two individuals.
It is difficult always to find the corresponding complements in one single individual ". Dr. Hamilton asserts that one of the contentions of the younger generation of spouses about which he heard a good deal uring his studies of one hundred married men and one hundred married women " was to the effect that for a married person to have an extra-marital love affair need not necessarily imply dissatisfaction with the spouse: that, on the contrary, it may even enrich the lives of a husband and wife if each can have an outside affair about which there shall be no cheating or secrecy ".
All of the extra-marital love affairs recorded by him, however, did not involve sexual intercourse . Dr. Robinson also says that, in the opinion of advanced sexologists, one love, instead of excluding another, may even intensify the other love. Max Nordau holds that we can actually love several individuals at the same time with nearly equal tenderness, and that we need not lie when we assure each one of our passion. Van de Velde is much more cautious. He writes: " I must admit that psychic complexes, to which we dare not deny the proud name of love, because of their depth, their permanence, their variety and delicacy of emotion, may be, in exceptional cases, directed towards more than one object at the same time; nevertheless, I consider the essentially monogamous stamp of a highly evolved love . . . as established beyond all doubt. So long as any one loves ardently with both soul and senses, the mind is so pervaded by the image of the beloved, that the lover remains monogamous in essentials ". " The love of two ", says Stekel, " is no genuine love ".
Nordau, however, admits that the polygamous tendencies may be overcome. His argument contains certain points that may make it worthy to be quoted in full length. " Human love ", he says, " although principally nothing more than the impulse for the possession of a certain individual with the purpose of reproduction, is yet something more; it is an enjoyment of the intellectual qualities of the beloved being; it is also friendship. This element of love survives its physiological element. Certain it is, that the sentiment felt for the loved one is not the same after possession as it was before. But it is a profound and powerful sentiment still, sufficient to form the foundation for the desire and even for the necessity of a lifelong union, whose justification is no longer the natural aim of marriage—reproduction—but the want experienced by an intellectually more highly developed individual for companionship with one of similar culture. Even in the most constant hearts, even when the original passion was the most violent conceivable, love undergoes this transformation after the honeymoon or after the birth of the first child; it is still far from considering the yoke of matrimony a burden, but yet it is by no means a perfectly safe protection against the outbreak of a new passion. But there are other circumstances which aid the will in the struggle with the polygamous instinct. When the union of two persons, who gave evidence of their natures being harmoniously attuned to each other to a certain degree, by loving for a brief period, has lasted a while it becomes a habit, which sustains fidelity most wonder-fully. They perhaps, after a time, cease to experience the slightest love or even friendship for each other, but their companionship is still kept up, and kept up as a matter of course. . . . If the union is blessed with children the tenderness of the parents is diverted to them, and a new love springs up in their hearts which twines around both parents and unites them once more, as a vine joins two neighbouring trees together with its luxuriant growth and covers them with foliage and blossoms, although they may be already dead and rotten at the core. Moreover, as the years pass the impulse to love grows weaker, from natural causes, and even if the germs of new attractions do not die out or vanish, it becomes easier every year for the will and judgment to prevent their development. There remains finally after the dawn of love has passed away, a sweet and deep memory of it through the remaining hours of the day of life, which produces a sensation of gratitude to the one loved once so dearly, and impels the two hearts to cling to each other still. On account of all these reasons it may be practicable to mate human beings monogamically for life, even if their disposition of mind or body seems to indicate that they were principally destined to a number of contemporaneous or succeeding relations. There will, however, always be numerous cases in which nothing can prevent the outbreak of a new passion ". Balzac writes: " It is as absurd to pretend that it is impossible to love the same woman always, as to say that a great artist needs several violins to execute a piece of music to perfection ".
The absorbing passion for one may be supposed to have become more pronounced in the course of civilization owing to the increasing importance of the spiritual element in love; but at the same time the greater differentiation and multiplicity of sexual stimuli have also increased the power of its great rival, the desire for variety. Married people belonging to the uncultured classes are evidently much less troubled by it than educated persons: the main thing for them is to have an opportunity to gratify their sexual appetite. It is not to be expected, then, that the conflict between those competing forces will become less serious in the future. But this does not imply that if polygyny were legalised, any considerable number of men would indulge in it. It is a curious freak on the part of Bernard Shaw to say that as polygyny would enable the best men to monopolise all the women, a great many men would be condemned to celibacy.3 Apart from other reasons, economic considerations, fear of domestic troubles, and the difficulty of finding a woman who would care to share her married life with a fellow-wife, would prevent men from taking advantage of the new right granted them. The experience gained from peoples who permit polygyny teaches us that generally only a small minority of the men practise it. In the Mohammedan world, for instance, the large majority of men live in monogamy. In Persia, according to Colonel Macgregor, only 2 per cent. have a plurality of wives.
Among the Mohammedans of India, according to a report from 1907, there are 1021 wives to every loco husbands, so that, even if no husbands have more than two wives, all but 21 per thousand must be monogamous.'
We may assume, then, that there would be little to be gained by legalising polygyny. On the other hand, any proposal to that effect would undoubtedly be rejected, not only as being generally unwanted by the men, but also as being degrading to the women and contrary to public feelings. Numerous facts show that advancement in civilization has been adverse to polygyny. Even among the Mohammedans many of the educated classes regard it with " disapprobation amounting almost to disgust ", in spite of the sanction given it by the Koran.' A growing section of Islamists, particularly among the Mutazalas, consider it positively unlawful, emphasising the fact that the clause in the Koran which contains the permission to contract four contemporaneous marriages is immediately followed by the sentence, " And if ye fear that ye cannot be equitable, then [marry] only one ". It is argued that as it is impossible for all ordinary men who have a plurality of wives to be quite impartial to each wife, monogamy must be considered the law for them.' In China the best feelings of the nation are said to be at heart against the practice of having, besides the legal principal wife, so-called wives " by courtesy " or lawful concubines.4 In Japan concubinage of the Chinese type was abolished as a legal institution with the promulgation of the Criminal Code of 1880.' Although Hindu law places no restriction upon polygyny, most castes object at the present day to their members having more than one wife, except for special reasons, such as the failure of the first wife to bear a son, or her affliction with some incurable disease or infirmity; and in such cases the consent of the caste panchayat must generally be obtained before a man marries again. " Public opinion ", says Sir P. S. Sivaswamy Aiyer, " has been steadily undergoing a change in favour of monogamy as the result of education, economic pressure and recognition of the just claims of women ".
In Europe obligatory monogamy is a time-honoured institution: it was not first introduced by Christianity. Roman marriage was monogamous. Liaisons between married men and mistresses were not uncommon by the close of the Republic, but a relation of that kind was not considered lawful concubinage in after times; according to Paulus, a man who had a wife (uxor) could not have a concubine (concubina) at the same time.4 There can be little doubt that monogamy was the only recognised form of marriage in Greece: a second marriage seems to have presupposed the dissolution of the first, or at all events to have given the first wife the right to dissolve her marriage.5 Concubinage, however, existed at Athens at all times, and was hardly censured by public opinion.6 But it was well distinguished from marriage: it conferred no rights on the concubine, and the children were " bastards ". Polygyny occurred among the ancient Slays, but generally, it seems, only chiefs and nobles were addicted to it. Among the West Germans, according to Tacitus, only a few persons of noble birth had more than one wife. Among the Anglo-Saxons there is no direct evidence of polygyny, but it cannot have been entirely unknown among them, as it is prohibited in some of their lawbooks.4 The general custom among the ancient Irish was to have one wife, but we sometimes find a king or chief with two. It has been assumed that polygyny occurred in ancient Gaul; but this assumption is based on a probable misinterpretation of the word uxores in a statement made by Caesar, where this plural seems to be simply due to the plural viri.8 The laws of ancient Wales did not permit polygyny. The trend of marriage in pre-Christian Europe has thus been distinctly monogamous. It would be strange if polygyny were introduced in the future—even for " kings " and " nobles ". Up to recent times it was considered a matter of course for a king or ruling prince to have, besides his wife, a concubine, whom he could change at will, nay also for a happily married one to have a maltresse en titre; but even this praxis can hardly be expected to be revived in the shape of a legal institution.
While the man is said to be polygamous by nature, the woman is often said to be monogamous or predominantly so. Dr. Grete Meisel-Hess remarks that " in the male satiety ensues as soon as he has gained the goal of his desire. He wishes to pass on in search of fresh sexual experiences, whereas the woman who has given herself to a man clings for this reason all the more firmly to him ".3 According to Forel, woman is generally much more particular than man in giving her love: while the normal man is as a rule attracted to coitus by nearly every more or less young and healthy woman, this is by no means the case in the normal woman with regard to man. She is also much more constant than man from the sexual point of view, and it is rarely possible for her to experience sexual desire for several men at once.4 Georg Hirth is of the same opinion.° Of 324 female students at the University of Moscow 31 thought it possible to love two men at the same time.° Kisch says that " the young sexual conqueror is thinking of women, the sexually ripening girl of the man "; and he attributes the predominantly monogamous character of woman's love to the commanding strength of its spiritual elements.' Johanna Elberskirchen writes of her own sex: " We do not long only for the rude sexual act. We spiritualise it—at least some of us do so; at any rate we individualise it. It is one particular man whom we desire, he alone can still our longing, our bodily and mental hunger for love ". Even the prostitute has generally her special fancy man.
At the same time, the opinion that woman is by nature considerably more monogamous than man has been contradicted. Judge Bartlett writes: " The important trend we see in the modern divorce court, and even out of it, is the revelation that women are little, if any, more monogamous than men ". Dr. Friedlaender maintains that, in this respect, there is no difference between the sexes; that if men and women have found a partner who completely satisfy them spiritually and bodily, they are absolutely monogamous, whereas in the contrary case they are polygamous; and that the apparently weaker desire for variety in women is largely due to the greater restraints to which they are subjected. Mr. Calverton thinks that woman is more monogamous than man only when the social system makes such a relationship on her part imperative, and that under a convention in the coming society, which permits equal freedom for both sexes, women will be no less polygamous than men.° Of the married women studying at the University of Kazan whose sexual life was investigated by means of questionnaires, 30 per cent admitted that they practised extra-matrimonial sexual intercourse.) Dr. Hamilton's question, " Do you believe that you would derive greater sex pleasure from intercourse with any other man than your husband? " was answered in the negative by 48 of his group of one hundred married women and in the affirmative by 19; and 24 of the women had committed adultery. But it seemed to him that " the majority of the young wives who had indulged in adulterous sex relations had done so more out of loyalty to a belief in spousal sex freedom than in response to anything suggestive of an overwhelming sex urge "; the younger generation, he says, is displaying a considerable interest in the theory that marriage need not be monogamous in order to be successful.4 Another American writer thinks that the attacks of individualism on the monogamic family probably need not be taken too seriously. " Already ", says Dr. Goodsell, " there are signs that young women are moving from theories (and, in some instances, practices) of sexual individualism to a belief in the desirability of permanent marriage, homes that endure and children upon whom the interests and plans of parents may focus. Having swung far toward undisciplined freedom, the pendulum appears to be swinging back toward a modified form of mid-Victorian-ism. Ample evidence exists in the statements of young college women to the effect that marriage, home-making and children are experiences that they sincerely desire and do not intend to lose ".
In any case the desire for variety is not absent in women, whatever its strength may be; and there are even women who apparently need more than one man to make life reasonably happy for them. It may be said that from a purely physical point of view woman is, in a way, more polygamous than man: although her sexual energy is aroused more slowly and with more difficulty than man's, it is more enduring, and the act of sexual intercourse which exhausts his capacity may have only served to arouse her ardour. " At the best ", says Vatsayana, " a man can please only one woman physically, mentally, and spiritually; therefore, the man who enters into marriage relations with more than one woman, voluntarily courts unhappiness and misery ". On the other hand a woman could easily sexually satisfy several husbands. Nevertheless, the suggestion that in the future polyandry will be recognised among ourselves as a form of marriage 3 needs no serious consideration. In the countries where it is found it owes its origin to circumstances which cannot be supposed to recur in modern civilization.4 It is true that in certain parts of Europe cicisbeism has existed as a recognised custom in comparatively modern times. We are told that formerly a Florentine girl of good family, by a clause in the nuptial contract, claimed her right to take a lover whenever it should please her to do so. Lady Montagu, who visited the Court of Vienna in 1716, writes that it is there " the established custom for every lady to have two husbands, one that bears the name, and another that performs the duties. And these engagements are so well known, that it would be a downright affront, and publicly resented, if you invited a woman of quality to dinner, without at the same time inviting her two attendants of lover and husband, between whom she always sits in state with great gravity. These sub-marriages generally last twenty years together, and the lady often commands the poor lover's estate even to the utter ruin of his family ". A woman, she adds, " looks out for a lover as soon as she's married, as part of her equipage, without which she could not be genteel ". And the husbands " look upon their wives' gallants as favourably as men do upon their de uties, that take the troublesome part of their business off of heir hands; though they have not the less to do; for they are generally deputies in another place them-selves ". These customs were of course not polyandry in the proper sense of the term, but merely libertinism peculiar to an aristrocratic clique. Even in Soviet Russia, where there is greater sexual freedom than in any other Western country, the " polyandric " women studied by Professor Blonsky teachers between the ages of thirty and forty who have formed numerous relation-ships with men, either successively or simultaneously—are generally depreciated and scorned by the very men with whom they form relationships; and they are said to be far from happy in other respects as well.
In speaking of monogamy and polygamy (including both polygyny and polyandry) I have uniformly used those terms for legally recognised forms of marriage—independently of the durability of the union—not for other sexual relationships between one man and one woman or between one man and several women or between one woman and several men. Like myself, Dr. Ellis maintains that no radical modification of the existing monogamic order is to be expected, but he thinks that we may " reasonably expect in the future a slow though steady increase in the recognition, and even extension, of those variations of the monogamic order which have, in reality, never ceased to exist ". He then means by the question of sexual variations " not a question of introducing an entirely new form of marriage, but only of recognising the rights of individuals, in exceptional cases, to adopt such aberrant forms, and of recognising the corresponding duties of such individuals to accept the responsibilities of any aberrant marriage forms they may find it best to adopt ".I It seems to me very likely that this prediction will come true: that in questions of sex people will be less tied by conventional rules and more willing to judge each case on its merits, and that they will recognise greater freedom for men and women to mould their own amatory life. But so far as " aberrant marriage forms " are concerned, I very much doubt that the recognition will be a legal one. In England they are tolerated by the law to the extent of not being punishable in the ordinary sense of the term, but adultery is a legal ground of divorce. The husband's liberty was restricted in this way not many years ago; and I do not consider it probable that the law in the future will give greater freedom either to an aberrant husband or an aberrant wife by preventing the other party's escape from the bonds of matrimony. I shall revert to this subject in the following chapter.