Friday, September 11, 2009


1. Polygamy.—There is a wide difference as regards the relations of the sexes in different parts of the world. In some parts polygamy has prevailed from time immemorial.

Most savage people are polygamists, and the Turks, though slowly departing from the practice, still allow themselves a plurality of wives.

2. Rule Reversed.—In Thibet the rule is reversed, and the females are provided with two or more husbands. It is said that in many instances a whole family of brothers have but one wife. The custom has at least one advantageous feature, viz.: the possibility of leaving an unprotected widow and a number of fatherless children is entirely obviated.

3. The Morganatic Marriage is a modification of polygamy. It sometimes occurs among the royalty of Europe, and is regarded as perfectly legitimate, but the morganatic wife is of lower rank than her royal husband, and her children do not inherit his rank or fortune. The Queen only is the consort of the sovereign, and entitled to share his rank.

4. Different Manners of Obtaining Wives.—Among the uncivilized almost any envied possession is taken by brute force or superior strength. The same is true in obtaining a wife. The strong take precedence of the weak. It is said that among the North American Indians it was the custom for men to wrestle for the choice of women. A weak man could seldom retain a wife that a strong man coveted.

The law of contest was not confined to individuals alone. Women were frequently the cause of whole tribes arraying themselves against each other in battle. The effort to excel in physical power was a great incentive to bodily development, and since the best of the men were preferred by the most superior women, the custom was a good one in this, that the race was improved.

5. The Aboriginal Australian employed low cunning and heartless cruelty in obtaining his wife. Laying in ambush, with club in hand, he would watch for the coveted woman, and, unawares, spring upon her. If simply disabled he carried her off as his possession, but if the blow had been hard enough to kill, he abandoned her to watch for another victim. There is here no effort to attract or please, no contest of strength; his courtship, if courtship it can be called, would compare very unfavorably with any among the brute creation.

6. The Kalmuck Tartar races for his bride on horseback, she having a certain start previously agreed upon. The nuptial knot consists in catching her, but we are told that the result of the race all depends upon whether the girl wants to be caught or not.

7. Hawaiian Islanders.—Marriage among the early natives of these islands was merely a matter of mutual inclination. There was no ceremony at all, the men and women united and separated as they felt disposed.

8. The Feudal Lord, in various parts of Europe, when any of his dependents or followers married, exercised the right of assuming the bridegroom's proper place in the marriage couch for the first night. Seldom was there any escape from this abominable practice. Sometimes the husband, if wealthy, succeeded in buying off the petty sovereign from exercising his privilege.

9. The Spartans had the custom of encouraging intercourse between their best men and women for the sake of a superior progeny, without any reference to a marriage ceremony. Records show that the ancient Roman husband has been known to invite a friend, in whom he may have admired some physical or mental trait, to share the favors of his wife; that the peculiar qualities that he admired might be repeated in the offspring.