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The History and Philosophy of Marriage   [ Menu ]

The History and Philosophy of Marriage

Chapter 7
Monogamy As It Is


Take monogamy as it is to-day, in Protestant countries, and

we see that the old Roman leaven is still in it.

Christianity has not reformed and purified that system so

much as that has corrupted Christianity. Most of us in these

countries are accustomed to congratulate ourselves upon our

happy escape from the bondage and the bigotry of the Papal

Church. But we are mistaken. We have not escaped. Rome

binds us in stronger shackles than the iron chains of the

holy Inquisition. Her shackles are upon our consciences:

they are intertwined with every fibre of our social life.

Much of her intolerant spirit, many of her questionable

doctrines and practices, and her traditional forms and

ceremonies, are still common to the nominally Christian

world. In respect to a

Page 145

few of them, we have discovered that they are unscriptural,

and unsupported by divine authority, and are therefore of no

binding obligation; but, by many other traditional doctrines

and practices of that hierarchy, we are unconsciously, and

therefore so much the more securely fettered. We boast of

our Christian freedom, while we are, in fact, but little

better than slaves; for if we are nominally free, yet we are

bound by an apprenticeship to Rome more degrading than our

former slavery itself: and our boasted emancipation is but a

miserable farce. We are too servile and timid in our

interpretation of the Bible, and in our examination of the

divine and natural laws. We hesitate to follow the simple

truth to its legitimate and logical conclusions. We stand

aghast at the radical changes which severe truth requires in

our religious and social systems. We shrink from exploring

the profound labyrinths to which truth attempts in vain to

lead us; while we look anxiously around for clews and

leading-strings by which to trace our way. We dare not go

forward without example and authority; and authority and

example are reconducting us to Rome.

Page 146

Our great champion, Dr. Martin Luther, made a few bold steps

in the right direction, but stopped far short of the ultimate

results to which his own principles were leading. A

Protestant in theory, he was, in practice, essentially a

Romanist. He insisted much upon justification by faith

alone, and declared personal piety to be necessary to true

Christianity; and yet he admitted all citizens, irrespective

of their faith or their want of it, to the most solemn and

most esoteric ordinances of the Christian Church. He

repudiated the authority of earthly potentates to compel

men's Christian belief, but retained the union of Church and

State in order to compel their Christian obedience. He

denied the infallibility of the pope, and the miraculous

power of the priesthood, and yet believed in the Real

Presence, if not the adoration of the host. His disciples

are to-day imitating his example rather than promoting his

principles, and possess little more evangelical faith than

the Romanists themselves.

Henry the Eighth, the founder of the Church of England, was

even less a Protestant than Luther; and the present tendency

of many of the most

Page 147

influential doctors and dignitaries of this Church is in the

same retrograde direction as that of the Lutherans. Yet

these two churches, the Anglican and the Lutheran, are the

main pillars of Protestantism,- the Boaz and Jachin of the

porch of the new temple. I have not lost my hope that the

truth of gospel simplicity will ultimately prevail over

ecclesiastical bigotry; but it may require as many centuries

for the Christian world to unlock the trammels of the Roman

hierarchy, and to escape from its thraldom, as it originally

required to fix those trammels upon the consciences of

Christian freemen.

But the Romans are more consistent in their system of

monogamy than we are; for while the dogmas of the Church

forbid polygamy, and even single marriages to the ministry,

they provide for the surplus women, by having numerous

societies of nuns and sisters of charity, who make a merit of

necessity, by assuming the vows of perpetual celibacy, to

serve the Church, and acquire religious merit. As

Protestants, we have been taught to believe that these

monastic institutions have proved to be schools of vice, and

that the vows of perpet-

Page 148

ual chastity assumed in them are unnatural and wicked, and

that they are often violated under the detestable hypocrisy

of sacerdotal sanctity.*1 For

Page 149

these reasons, we have suppressed the nunneries; but we have

made no provision for the nuns, and those who would have

become nuns. In those institutions they were, at least,

assured of a home and a support, even if they did learn vice;

but now, when thrown upon the world, they are still more

exposed to vice, and are without a home and without support.

Under Catholic monogamy, if a young woman made a false step,

she could hide

Page 150

her shame in a convent, and devote her future life to

penitence and prayer; but, under Protestant monogamy, the

frail fair sinner has no such refuge. Her first lapse from

virtue shuts her out forever from the respect and sympathy of

the world, and from the hope of future reformation; and her

downward career to the gates of hell is so generally taken

for granted, that it becomes almost a certainty. The only

safe and proper provision for homeless women is marriage. An

early marriage will usually save them from the dangers to

which they are exposed. Monogamy cannot secure their

marriage; but polygamy can: yet we are taught to look with

horror upon polygamy as one of the "relics of barbarism,"

although it is plainly taught in the Bible, and is the only

social system which provides marriage for all, and which

secures the honest and lawful gratification of those

impetuous passions which must be and which will be indulged

in some manner, if not by marriage, then without it; while we

wink at all the disgusting abominations of prostitution,

divorce, adultery, and other vices, which are the well-known

and the inevitable results of restricted marriage. Monogamy,

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in "forbidding to marry," assumes all the curses which

this prohibition entails. We must choose between the system

which provides marriage for all, with comparative purity, or

the system of restricted marriage with inevitable impurity.


The Bible forbids prostitution, but permits polygamy. The

ancient Greeks and Romans forbade polygamy, but permitted

prostitution. Modern monogamy pretends to forbid both, but

really permits prostitution also. Our monogamous morality

is, therefore, that of ancient paganism and not that of the

Bible; and prostitution is as much a necessary part of our

social system as it was of that at Athens, at Corinth, or at

Rome. Our magistrates are not ignorant of the extent of

public licentiousness; but they do not attempt to suppress it.

They only seek to conceal it, and confine it, if possible,

within its present limits, requiring its votaries to keep it

in the dark. Our police-officers know almost every prostitute

that walks the street, and allow her to ply her nefarious

trade unmolested, so long as she is polite

Page 152

and unobtrusive. As the Spartans are reputed to have said

to the youth of their state, in respect to theft, "Steal, but

do not be caught at it," so the guardians of our public

morals say, "You may be as licentious as you please, only

make no public display of your immorality." The reason of

this connivance at prostitution must be because our

legislators and judges believe its suppression to be

impossible; and, with our system of monogamy, it is

impossible. If there must be a multitude of women unmarried

and unprovided for, there will be a multitude of prostitutes;

and, if there are a multitude of prostitutes, there will be a

multitude of men, who like Shakespeare's Falstaff, will

decline marriage, because they can be "better accommodated

than with a wife:" and so the evil will go on continually

increasing and propagating itself. The Foundling Hospital,

the Five Points House of Industry, and the Home for

Friendless and Abandoned Women, must be built alongside of

the brothel; and their numerous inmates must be maintained

either by public tax or by Christian charity (most frequently

by the latter) : so that honest

Page 153

men must support their own wives and children and also the

cast-off drabs and bastards of unprincipled libertines. If we

must have public prostitutes, let us have them openly and

boldly, as the ancient Greeks and Romans did; and let them be

publicly licensed, as they were under Caligula, and as they

are said to be still in France; and let the state derive, at

least, sufficient revenue from them to bury their murdered

infants, and to bring up their abandoned foundlings.


Let me not be misunderstood in what I have just said. I do

not depreciate that form of charity which seeks out the

victims of licentiousness, and makes them the special objects

of its beneficence. I would not say one word in its

disparagement. On the contrary, I acknowledge its

genuineness. Such charity is worthy of great commendation:

it is in a special sense true Christian charity, for it is

eminently Christ-like; since he came to seek and to save the

lost, and disdained not to be called the Friend of publicans

and sinners. But what I demand is this, that this form of

Christian charity

Page 154

should so expand its efforts and its aims as fully to

meet the case, and yield a permanent and radical relief to

that class of the poor and miserable which it has taken under

its charge. Let its aims be so comprehensive, so high, so

broad, and so deep, that it cannot be satisfied with any

thing less than a prevention of the "social evil" which it

has hitherto attempted only to alleviate. And it is

certainly no slander to our present charities of this kind,

to say that the alleviation which they have effected is

altogether inadequate. The miserable victims of this vice

are increasing faster than the ability or the disposition to

relieve them. The most enthusiastic philanthropists have

already become disheartened in vainly endeavoring to furnish

sufficient relief, and they can see no means of prevention.

They are at their wit's-end; and some of them have become

fully aware, that, under our present social system, no

prevention can be possible. "While sin is in the world,"

some say, "we cannot prevent men and women from sinning: they

will sin, in spite of us and in spite of everything; and the

world itself is growing more and more depraved and wicked

Page 155

every day. All that we can do is to show Christian mercy,

and grant some present relief." But the true Christian

philanthropist does not rest satisfied in such conclusions.

He knows that it is not true that the world is growing worse

and worse, but that facts and statistics prove the contrary.

He believes in the "good time coming," and that the world is

actually growing better and better. Many causes of human

misery have been discovered and removed, or greatly

diminished, and he hopes that more will be. The average

duration of human life is actually being prolonged. The

average state of health is incontestably being improved.

Christianity has not been instituted in vain. It has already

accomplished wonders of mercy and grace, and its blessed work

of reform is still going on. The true philanthropist,

therefore, must not and will not despair. If no preventive

of licentiousness has hitherto been found, and if it be

impossible to find any under our present social system of

marriage, we must look for it under some other system.

Marriage was made for man, and not man for marriage.

Page 156


But perhaps some may suppose that sincere and genuine piety

is a sufficient preventive of licentiousness, and that, when

all the people become truly converted, and well instructed in

religious knowledge, then they will be secure from this vice.

I have great confidence in genuine piety, and believe that it

is indeed the best antidote to all the ills that flesh is

heir to; but the difficulty is, that it is this very

licentiousness which is hindering people from becoming pious.

And, besides this, it is not from want of religious knowledge

that people become licentious: they have already had line

upon line, and precept upon precept, for many successive

generations. They know that licentiousness is a sin; and

they know, that, when they fall into it, they become liable

to the most fearful punishment, both in this life and in the

world to come: but the tyranny of monogamy has left them no

alternative; they have no other available means of gratifying

the wants of nature. Marriage is impossible to half the

women, and a single marriage is inadequate to the


Page 157

of half the men. Pious exhortation is but idle talk to those

who are sinning from the excitement of amorous desire of

which there is no possible gratification except a sinful one.

If the philanthropist who is giving them these exhortations

cannot point out a lawful means of meeting those natural

wants, of what profit can his exhortations be? "If a brother

or a sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of

you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled;

notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are

needful to the body; what doth it profit?" It is not

instruction which our "destitute and abandoned women" want;

they want marriage; they want homes of their own to shelter

them, and husbands to love them and to provide for them. And

I have already demonstrated that it is their right to have

them; their natural and unquestionable right, of which the

injustice and tyranny of monogamy has cruelly deprived them.

Society has wronged them; and with their own peculiar,

intuitive instinct they feel it, though they cannot tell

exactly how. Society, somehow, has made war upon them, most


Page 158

justly; and, when they become licentious, it is from an

instinctive feeling of self-defense; it is only to take such

justifiable revenge upon society as a state of warfare

authorizes, and has, in a manner, rendered necessary.

Now, let this warfare cease. Let the women have their rights.

Let every woman have a husband and a home; and let every man

have as many women as he can love, and as can love him, and

as he is able to support, until all the women are provided

for: then, and not till then, will prostitution cease; and

then the happy time that the poet dreamed of, when he put the

apparently extravagant sentiment into his hero's mouth, which

I have placed upon my titlepage, will have come at last, and

"There shall be no more widows in the land."*2

Page 159


If any of my readers have failed to see that there is any

necessary connection between monogamy

Page 160

and female ruin, I beg them to examine carefully the

following observations. It has been demonstrated, in a

former chapter, that monogamy leaves a multitude of women

unprotected, and unprovided with the privileges of marriage.

It does

Page 161

not and it cannot furnish half of them with husbands and

homes of their own; hence the galling bondage of female

dependence; hence the difficulty of woman's finding her

"sphere." Yet there is nothing mysterious or doubtful about

what constitutes her sphere; for it is defined by the simple

term "home," - that word, above all others, so charming, and

so suggestive of every excellence in the female character,

and of all the sweet memories which cluster round the blessed

names of mother,

Page 162

sister, and bride. But, alas! the practical mystery with an

immense number of women still remains; and that is, how to

find a home. A father's house is no longer a home to many a

young woman; perhaps that father is poor, and the burden of

years is at last superadded to that of poverty. He

cheerfully toiled for his child while she was young and

necessarily dependent upon him; and, as she grew up to

womanhood, he stinted not to bestow upon her such learning

and such accomplishments as his scanty means could command;

and his heart was often cheered by the hope of seeing her

well married and well settled in life: but, as these hopes

are not realized, he begins to feel the burden of her

maintenance. "She is old enough to provide for herself," and

"Why doesn't she get married?" Sure enough! poor thing, why

doesn't she? But oh! how cruel to reproach her with her

involuntary dependence and her miserable lot! And it is an

immense relief to her, when it is at length decided that she

must go out to service. And so she goes to toil for bread

among strangers. Her frail form is overburdened, and often

broken down, by unremitting and ill-requited labor, and her

young heart

Page 163

not unfrequently corrupted and hardened by unavoidable

contact and contamination with vice.


What wonder is it, then, that, under such circumstances, the

unprotected, wearied, homesick girl should yield a reluctant

ear to the seductive flatteries of the profligate libertine,

who scruples not to utter vows of constancy, and draw fond

pictures of future affluence, to be shared with her; but who,

having accomplished his fiendish purpose, and stolen from

her, forever, her only dower of innocence and purity, now

ignores his vows and promises, and casts her off to seek and

ruin another victim! What shall become of that poor,

desolate, guilty, heart-broken wretch thus ruthlessly

abandoned? Alas! the result is scarcely doubtful: it is too

often experienced. Despised by herself no less than by the

world, driven in anger from the paternal threshold, the gates

of honest toil and the doors of Christian charity closed

against her, she yields to hopeless despair, and even for the

miserable purpose of prolonging a wretched existence, she

abandons herself at length to a life of open

Page 164

shame; becoming herself the means of propagating that misery

of which she is such an unhappy victim.

The artificial system of monogamy offers up other sacrifices

on the unholy altar of abandoned lust, besides those

furnished from among the daughters of toil or the victims of

seduction. The accomplished, the refined, the proud, and the

wealthy have furnished their full proportion to swell the

aggregate number of the lost. We hope, of course, that much

the larger portion of women who have been well brought up,

and have failed to marry, have lived and died honest old

maids. They never quite lost their hope. Poor, simple souls,

they had always been told that their husbands would come for

them by and by; that there is a Jack for every Gill, as many

men as women in the world; and so they sat and waited, -

"Rusticus expectant, dum difluat amnis; at ille Labitur et

labetur in omne volubilis aevum."

And thus the ceaseless tide of human life rolls on and on,

the number of competitors among marriageable maids abates

not, the number of men

Page 165

who are ready to marry augments not. Some, therefore, among

the higher and the middling ranks of life, who ought to die

old maids, according to the system of monogamy, do not so

die. The very pride and spirit of accomplished women have

sometimes proved their ruin. When they have discovered that

real men are comparatively rare in the matrimonial market,

and that there are more rakes and triflers than honest lovers

in society, and that there cannot be husbands and homes

provided for more than half the women, - being unable to

suppress all their strong susceptibilities of love, and

unwilling to surrender all their rights to its enjoyment, -

they have deliberately determined to enjoy what they can

without marriage; and thus to defy the scorn of men and the

wrath of God.

But passion does not impel so great a number of intelligent

women to self-abandonment, as a desire of self-support and a

dread of being an intolerable burden to others. Under such

apprehensions, many unhappy women, who had been nursed in the

lap of luxury, and accustomed to every indulgence during

childhood, have found, after coming of age, that as year

after year passed round, and no

Page 166

eligible opportunity of marriage occurred, their presence at

home was becoming more and more unwelcome, and their

formidable bills of expenses more and more reluctantly

allowed, till they have at last fled from those halls of

wealth, and from an intolerable dependence on churlish

relatives, to a still more wretched existence in the haunts

of public vice.

How great is the injustice and oppression of the social

system which makes no other provision for so many of its most

beautiful and originally innocent daughters than this! Well

may the poet thus rave against the social tyranny of our


"Cursed be the social lies that warp us from the living

truth; Cursed be the social wants that sin against the

strength of youth; Cursed be the sickly forms that err from

honest Nature's rule." TENNYSON.


Monogamy being partial in its privileges, and oppressive in

its prohibitions, like every other oppressive and unjust

thing, provokes resentment and

Page 167

enmity, and cannot be thoroughly maintained and honestly

observed. Human nature is constantly rebelling against it,

and is persistently asserting its inherent and inalienable

right to all the benefits of love and marriage, of which this

system has deprived it. These struggles for freedom from

oppression of monogamy, being made in ignorance of the

privileges of polygamy, have assumed the form of defiant

transgression against the laws of chastity itself; for the

popular conscience is so depraved by the erroneous education

of our social system, as to regard the restrictions of

monogamy as identical with those of religion. And, finding

them too hard to be borne, instead of resorting to the just

and proper alternative of polygamy, many persons have broken

away from all moral restraint whatever, have given loose rein

to impetuous passion, and have become lost to every sentiment

of virtue and to every hope of heaven.

As Christianity itself was outraged and repudiated at the

period of the French Revolution, on account of the abuses of

Roman Catholicism, with which the popular mind had confounded

it (Romanism being the only acknowledged form of Christianity

Page 168

then known in that country, so that, when they rose

against it, they rose against Christianity itself, and became

raging demons of barbarity and crime), so now, throughout

Europe and America, is chastity outraged and religion

repudiated on account of the unjust restrictions which

monogamy has instituted in their names. But neither religion

nor chastity are the real objects of this hatred. All men

sincerely respect the one and revere the other. Yet many

cannot see how to assert their natural rights and achieve

their long-lost freedom without destroying both. Polygamy

alone solves the problem how those rights can be enjoyed

while chastity is preserved and religion maintained; for

polygamy alone can honestly furnish sufficient indulgence of

love to all the men, and sufficient protection of marriage to

all the women. Monogamy says, "Thou canst marry but one

woman, and one only shalt thou love," without regard to the

condition of that woman, or her ability or inability to meet

his conjugal wants.

It is a physical fact that women are not only

Page 169

less inclined to amorous passion than the men, at all times,

but they are also subject to interruptions and periodical

changes, which men do not experience. During the long period

of lactation, or nursing, most women have a positive

repugnance to the embrace of love, as well as during the

progress of certain nervous chronic disorders peculiar to the

sex, which are aggravated, if not caused, by frequent

connubial intercourse; so much so, that some medical men

insist upon entire separation from the marriage-bed during

the continuance of these disorders, and also during the

period of lactation. At such times, one would suppose that

no civilized man, or at least that no Christian man, could be

so brutal and so cruel as to force his wife to yield to his

propensities against her own inclinations and in spite of her

repeated and earnest remonstrances: but nothing is more

certain than that there are many thousands of just such

Christian men; for what can the poor monogamist do? The

healthful currents of vigorous life impel him to amorous

desires; and he cannot afford to shut down the gates or to

shut off the steam. To do so would involve immense loss of

pleasure and of

Page 170

power. The passions furnish the only streams to turn the

machinery of action; and love is the strongest of them all.

While there is the hope of indulgence, the machinery runs

smoothly, and the whole man is full of life and buoyancy and

power; but, if this master-passion must be repressed, its

unnatural restraint absorbs all the remaining strength of the

man, and he is no better than a hermit or a monk. Hence no

vigorous man is willing to endure this restraint. Yet the

Christian monogamist has been taught that it is both a sin

and a shame to look for the gratification of his desires away

from home; so the poor heart-broken and back-broken wife

must submit to torture, and so the otherwise kind and

honorable husband must commit violence upon his dearest

friend, whom he has most solemnly promised to love and to

cherish, in sickness and in health, till death shall part

them. Many a poor wife then prays for death to part them

soon. But other men, at such times, disdaining to avail

themselves of extorted pleasures, which can afford so little

satisfaction, and despising that religion which will justify

or allow such cruel brutality, then steal away from their


Page 171

wives, and, in defiance of the most solemn obligations and

sacred laws of God and man, go and do worse; defiling the

beds of virgin innocence, or wasting their health and

strength upon vile prostitutes. Which horn of this trilemma

should the vigorous husband of the invalid woman choose;

imbecile continence, wicked licentiousness, or matrimonial

brutality? Would not polygamy be an alternative preferable

to either? Would it not be more just and more merciful than

either? It is just and merciful to both men and women; it

preserves the marriage-bed undefiled; it provides husbands

for all the women; and it allows each man to take more than

one wife when circumstances warrant and require it. And they

often do require it. The extraordinary vehemence and

intensity of the amorous propensity which some men experience

is sufficient of itself to require it. Such men can no more

restrain this desire than that for their necessary food. They

may call to their assistance every motive to continuence that

can be drawn from heaven and earth and hell, but they often

call in vain; for the intensity of this passion sweeps down

every barrier, and rushes to its grati-

Page 172

fication. If, then, there will be and there must be

indulgence, let it be such as is regulated and controlled by

divine and natural law. God who made man and who knows what

is in man, has provided sufficient means to supply his

natural amorous wants. Marriage is that means; and, as one

wife is not always sufficient, he has provided more. There

are women enough, and no man need be either pining or sinning

for want of them.

"Take the good the gods provide thee: Lovely Thais sits

beside thee, Blooming like an Eastern bride, In flower of

youth and beauty's pride. Happy, happy, happy pair! None but

the brave, None but the brave, None but the brave deserves

the fair."


And it is the brave, the gifted, the talented, that deserve

the fair, who have always desired the fair, and won the fair.

"Lovely Thais" never refuses to unveil her charms to the true

hero. Great men always recognize the voice of God in the

voice of

Page 173

Nature, no matter under what social system they may live.

They yield to the natural and the divine behests, even though

they transgress the laws of ordinary social life. They obey

God rather then men; and this obedience is the first element

of their greatness. Ordinary laws may be sufficient to

restrain ordinary men; but when a Samson is within their

bonds, those bonds are snapped asunder like the green withes

and the new ropes of Delilah. Yet, were not our social laws

so manifestly arbitrary and oppressive, such eminent

philosophers as Plato, Aristotle, and Bacon, such noble

heroes as Alexander, Caesar, Napoleon, and Nelson, such

divine poets as Goethe, Burns, and Byron, and such

enlightened statesmen as Pericles, Augustus, Buckingham,

Palmeston, and Webster, and many thousands more, would never

have incurred the odium of libertinism as they have. Although

they lived under the system of monogamy, they would not and

did not submit to it. Their noble natures required a larger

indulgence, and they took it, law or no law, like brave men

as they were. And there are many more such men than the

world dreams of in its narrow monogamic philosophy;

Page 174

and yet it is a shame and a pity that our social laws cannot

be so amended, and brought into harmony with those of God and

Nature, that our noblest men would yield them the most prompt

obedience. And is it not a sad pity, a burning shame, and a

fearful wrong that our laws are such, that such men cannot

acknowledge their mistresses, and avow their children? The

wrongs of these women and children are crying to God from the

ground, and be will hear and judge. These great men are

brave; but they are not brave enough. They have no just

right to practise their polygamy in the dark. Let us have

either an honest monogamy or an avowed polygamy. Hence it is

that I am called by justice of God and the sufferings in

mankind in behalf of a greater freedom to marry, and a

greater purity of the marriage relation. Let us have such

marriage laws, that whatever relations any honorable man

shall determine to form with the other sex can be honorably

formed and honorably maintained.

Page 175


But an honest monogamy is an impossibility. Wherever it is

practised, it is a system of hypocrisy. It is a veil of

abstemiousness assumed to conceal a mass of hidden

corruption. Its direct tendency is to stimulate the

contemptible vices of intrigue and lying, as well as the

equally detestable ones of prostitution and adultery. By

attempting to deprive one-half the women of any lawful and

honorable means of amorous pleasure, and by allowing the men

only partial and inadequate means, it impels a multitude of

each sex to secret transgression, or else to open profligacy;

and thus the laws of chastity are violated on every hand, and

truthfulness, integrity, purity, and honor are becoming but

unmeaning terms.

No one familiar with social life in Europe will dare to

dispute that a large proportion of the upper classes of

society there are addicted to some form of licentiousness. It

is often observed there, that, as soon as the women marry,

they throw off the restraints of chastity, and encourage

secret lovers; and while each of the men live openly with

Page 176

one woman only, or with none, yet they indulge in promiscuous

criminal intercourse to an incredible extent. Now, which

social system is the more honorable and manly, the more

virtuous and pure, the one more in accordance with Nature and

the laws of Nature's God, - a pretended and a corrupt

monogamy, or an open and honest polygamy? Which manifests

the more base and selfish passion, - the man who espouses the

partners of his love, and takes them to his home and his

heart, and provides for them and their children, or the man

who steals away from his house in the dark, and indulges his

dishonorable and degrading passion in secret places, and then

abandons the partners of his guilty pleasure to a life of

wretchedness and shame and want?

"Domestic happiness, thou only bliss Of Paradise that has

survived the fall! Though few now taste thee unimpaired and

pure, Or, tasting, long enjoy thee! . . . . Thou art the

nurse of Virtue: in thine arms She smiles, appearing, as in

truth she is, Heaven-born, and destined to the skies again.

Thou art not known where Pleasure is adored, That reeling

goddess with the zoneless waist.

Page 177

And wandering eyes, still leaning on the arm Of Novelty, her

fickle, frail support; For thou art meek and constant, hating

change, And finding in the calm of truth-tried love Joys that

her stormy raptures never yield. Forsaking thee, what

shipwreck have we made Of honor, dignity, and fair renown!

Till prostitution elbows us aside In all our crowded streets;

and senates seem Convened for purposes of empire less Than to

release the adulteress from her bond." THE TASK.


*1 The following citations are Froude's Hist. of Eng., vol.

ii., chap. 10.

"Only light reference will be made in this place to the

darker scandals by which the abbeys were dishonored. Such

things there really were, to an extent which it may be

painful to believe, but which evidence too abundantly



Among other specifications, Mr. Froude cites the letter of

the Archbishop of Canterbury (written A.D. 1489) to the Abbot

of St. Albans, wherein he accuses him thus: "'Not a few of

you fellow monks and brethren, as we most deeply grieve to

learn, giving themselves over to a reprobate mind, laying

aside the fear of God, do lead only a life of lasciviousness,

- nay, as is horrible to relate, be not afraid to defile the

holy places, even the very churches of God, by infamous

intercourse with nuns. You yourself, moreover, among other

grave enormities and abominable crimes whereof you are

guilty, and for which you are noted and diffamed, have, in

the first place, admitted a certain married woman named Elena

Germyn, who has separated herself, without just cause, from

her husband, and for some time past has lived in adultery

with another man, to be a nun, or sister in the Priory of

Bray; and . . . Father Thomas Sudbury, one of your brother

monks, publicly, notoriously, and without interference or

punishment from you, has associated and still associates with

this woman, as an adulterer with his harlot. Moreover,

divers other of your brethren and fellow-monks have resorted

and do resort continually to her and other women at the same

place, as to a public brothel or receiving house. Nor is

Bray the only house into which you have introduced disorder.

At the Nunnery of Sapwell, you depose those who are good and

religious, you promote to the highest dignities the worthless

and the vicious.'"


In the year 1536, the Report of Special Commissioners

appointed to inspect the Monasteries of England was laid

before parliament, by which it appeared, says Mr. Froude,

that "two-thirds of the monks in England were living in

habits which may not be described. . . . The case against

the monasteries was complete; and there is no occasion either

to be surprised or peculiarly horrified at the discovery.

The demoralization which was exposed was nothing less and

nothing more than the condition into which men of average

nature compelled to celibacy, and living as the exponents of

a system which they disbelieved, were certain to fall."


*2 "No man who loves his kind can in these days rest content

with waiting as a servant upon human misery, when it is in so

many cases possible to anticipate and avert it. Prevention is

better than cure; and it is now clear to all that a large

part of human suffering is preventible by improved social

arrangements. Charity will now, if it be genuine, fix upon

this enterprise as greater, more widely and permanently

beneficial, and therefore more Christian, than the other. It

will not, indeed, neglect the lower task of relieving and

consoling those, who, whether through the errors and

unskillful arrangements of society, or through causes not yet

preventable, have actually fallen into calamity. Its

compassion will be all the deeper, its relief more prompt and

zealous, because it does not generally, as former generations

did, recognize such calamites to be part of man's inevitable

destiny. When the sick man has been visited, and every thing

done which skill and assiduity can do to cure him, modern

charity will go on to consider the causes of his malady, and

then to inquire whether others incur the same dangers, and

may be warned in time. When the starving man has been

relieved, modern charity inquires whether any fault in the

social system deprived him of his share of Nature's bounty,

any unjust advantage taken by the strong over the weak, any

rudeness or want of culture in himself, wrecking his virtue

and his habits of thrift." [I continue this quotation with a

reservation; applying it to the first Roman Christians, but

doubting its truthfulness in respect to the "apostolic,"

Jewish Christians.]


"The first Christians were probably not so much hopeless of

accomplishing great social reforms, as unripe for the

conception of them. They did not easily recognize evil to be

evil, and did not believe, or rather had never dreamed, that

it could be cured. Habit dulls the senses, and puts the

critical faculty to sleep. The fierceness and hardness of

ancient manners is apparent to us; but the ancients

themselves were not shocked by sights which were familiar to

them. To us it is sickening to think of the gladiatorial

show, of the massacres common in Roman warfare, of the

infanticide practised by grave and respectable citizens, who

did not merely condemn their children to death, but often in

practice, as they well knew, to what was still worse, - a

life of prostitution and beggary. The Roman regarded a

gladiatorial show as we regard a hunt; the news of the

slaughter of two hundred thousand Helvetians by Caesar, or

half a million Jews by Titus, excited in his mind a thrill of

triumph; infanticide committed by a friend appeared to him a

prudent measure of household economy. To shake off this

paralysis of the moral sense produced by habit, to see misery

to be misery, and cruelty to be cruelty, requires not merely

a strong, but a trained and matured compassion. It was as

much, probably, as the first Christian could learn at once,

to relieve the sick, the starving, and the desolate. Only

after centuries of this simple philanthropy could they learn

to criticise the fundamental usages of society itself, and

acquire courage to pronounce that, however deeply rooted and

time honored, they were in many cases shocking to humanity.


"Closely connected with this insensibility to the real

character of common usages is a positive unwillingness to

reform them. The argument of prejudice is twofold. It is not

only that what has lasted a long time must be right or wrong,

must be intended to continue. We are advanced by eighteen

hundred years beyond the apostolic generation. Our minds are

set free, so that we may boldly criticise the usages around

us, knowing them to be but imperfect essays toward order and

happiness, and no divinely or supernaturally ordained

constitution which it world be impious to change. We have

witnessed improvements in physical well-being which incline

us to expect further progress, and make us keen-sighted to

detect the evils and miseries that remain. Thus ought the

enthusiasm of humanity to work in these days, and thus,

plainly enough, it does work. These investigations are

constantly being made, these reforms commenced." - ECCE HOMO.


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The History and Philosophy of Marriage
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Chapter Menu
Chapter 1 - Introductory
Chapter 2 - Primary Laws of Love
Chapter 3 - Primary Laws of Marriage
Chapter 4 - Origin of Polygamy
Chapter 5 - Origin of Monogamy
Chapter 6 - Monogamy After the Introduction of Christianity
Chapter 7 - Monogamy As It Is
Chapter 8 - Relation of Monogamy to Crime
Chapter 9 - Objections to Polygamy
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