Polygamy and Monogamy Compared

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"There, shall be no widows in the land, for I will marry them all; there shall be no orphans, for I will father them all."— OLD PLAY.

Preface to 1885 edition[edit]

This little book disdains disguise, and paints humanity as it is. As the artist delineates the exact forms of Nature, although his living models are never perfect, either in feature or in attitude, so should the moral writer portray both the beauiies and the blemishes of social life, without omitting even those which are most repulsive. It is an axiom of prudence, never to shut our eyes against a painful truth, but to know the worst, and to provide for it. In the following pages, I have depicted some of the evils of society, but only in order to demonstrate them to be evils, and to point out a remedy for them which is desirable, practicable, and beneficent. Some eminent critics have suggested that I have drawn the picture with so great freedom as to be offensive, especially to the ladies; and I began to think of preparing an expurgated edition for their reading, which should advocate the same principles, but in which many of the historical facts upon which those principles depend should be suppressed. On further reflection, however, I am ashamed to have yielded to such suggestions even for an hour. If we treat the sex like fools, and they submit to such treatment, neither they nor the men can justly complain if they are somewhat foolish. It is a just cause of complaint against the men, that they have too long kept the women in subjection and ignorance ; first withholding from them the key of knowledge, and then charging them with incapacity for many responsible duties and employments, for which an equal share of knowledge would have qualified them. This sin shall not be justly imputed to my account. I cordially welcome them to every branch of learning and of industry. I have written nothing that I shall blush to have my sisters or my daughters read. I blush for humanity that so many debasing crimes against the laws of chastity should ever be committed ; but I do not blush to know when and by whom they have been committed, nor to know what are their terrible consequences. This knowledge has been a part of human experience and history, which it, is not only proper, but important, for every one to know; for this knowledge is my heritage and my children's heritage, that we may take warning from the calamities of others, and guard ourselves against them.

That a second edition should be called for, of a philosophical treatise so generally regarded as heterodox in its social opinions, and so avowedly opposed to the fashionable vices and prejudices of the times, is a sufficient vindication of the importance of the subject, and the candor of the public. The author gratefully acknowledges his obligations to those gentlemen of the press who have condescended to notice the work. These notices, some extracts from which are appended to this edition, are all that could ba expected. While most of the reviewers are very conservative upon the main question, they very generally express some graceful compliments to the author's earnestness and ability, which are equally creditable to him, and honorable to them. Some have given a full analysis of the argument, and done ample justice to the work; some have condemned it without reading it; and a few have made the most gross misstatements of its scope and design. There his been much contradiction, but no rebutting testimony. Not one historical or statistical fact stated in the hook has been disproved, not one proposition claimed to be demonstrated has been shown to he fallacious. The only critique worthy of reply is from the pen of J. A. H., Esq., of Springfield, Mass., which is quoted in full in this edition, with the author's reply; and each one can now judge for himself of tic merits of the respective arguments. Some other additions to this edition will further enhance the value of the work.

Chapter I. Introductory[edit]

Philosophy takes nothing for granted. It doubts all things that it may prove all things. The marriage question is a proper subject of philosophical inquiry, involving an examination and analysis of both polygamy and monogamy. Of the latter form of marriage the Christian world has known too much, and of the former too little, to have felt, hitherto, the need of any analysis of either. We have iuherited our monogamy, or the marriage system which restricts each man to one wife only, and have practised it as a matter of course, without any special examination or inquiry : so that we really know but little concerning its origin or its early history ; while we know still less of the system of polygamy. We read some- thing of it in the Bible and in the history of Eastern nations, and we learn something more from the reports of modern travellers ; and it cannot be denied that what we know of it has come to us in such a form as to prejudice our minds against it. This prejudice is unfavorable to a just and candid philosophical inquiry ; and while pursuing this inquiry, let us hold this prejudice in abeyance. Let us not forget that what we have seen of this system is in its most unfavorable aspects. Most travellers carry their native prejudices abroad, and look upon the customs of distant countries with less astonishment than contempt. And they remember, when writing up their accounts of those countries, that their books are made to be sold at home ; and they must not institute comparisons unfavorable to their own land, but must flatter the conceit of their fellow-countrymen by assuring them that their own social and political institutions are vastly better than those of other lands.

So, also, with history : it presents human affairs in a perspective view, painting its roughest mountains with distinct exactness, but casting its peaceful plains quite into the shade. It devotes a hun- dred pages to the details of wars and intrigues, illustrating the crimes of men, in proportion to a single page of descriptions of common life and domestic tranquillity, illustrating their virtues.

If the writer, on the contrary, shall seem prejudiced in favor of polygamy, let it be attributed to his love of fair play, and his desire to let both sides be heard, rather than to any undue bias of mind preventing him from doing equal justice to the arguments in favor of either system.

It is attested and proved by competent authority, which no one doubts, that polygamy, or that social system which permits a plurality of wives, has always prevailed in most countries and in all ages of the world, from time immemorial ; but this form of marriage, being foreign to the customs of modern Europe and her colonies in America, is very naturally regarded throughout these enlight- ened regions as something heathenish and barba- rous. And modern writers, whose works are the exponents of European civilization, have hitherto said every thing against it, and nothing for it. But they have condemned it almost without ex- amination or debate, rather because it is strange than because they have proved it to be at fault. No one has given to the subject the time and re- search necessary to its fair elucidation. But as a venerable institution the social system of polygamy does not deserve such supercilious treatment. Such treatment, besides being unjust, is unphilosoph- ical, and unworthy a liberal and an enlightened age. Its great antiquity alone should entitle it to sufficient respect to be heard, at least, in its own defence. It constitutes an important part of hu- man history. It is a great fact that cannot be ignored ; and as such, it must be studied and known. To insist upon the condemnation of this system, without hearing its defence, is oppression. It is even the worst kind of oppression ; for, in such case, it must be allied with ignorance and bigotry. But if there ever was a time, when polygamy could properly be thrust aside with a sneer, and it was satisfactory to Christian justice to condemn it unheard and unexamined, it can be so no longer ;

for, with the general diffusion of knowledge and the increased facilities of modern intercourse, our speculative inquiries are seeking a range of cos- mopolitan extent, and we are brought into daily contact with the opinions and the practices of the antipodes. If we disapprove of their practices we should be prepared to make substantial objections to them ; and if we wish to teach them our own, we should be able to give equally substantial rea- sons. If the advocates of polygamy are in the minority in the Christian world, let the common rights of the minority be granted them, — freedom of debate and the privilege of protest ; and let their solemn protest be listened to with respect, and be spread upon the current records of the day. And, on the other hand, if those who prac- tise this ancient system do constitute the majority of mankind, it cannot be either uninteresting or unimportant to inquire what has made it so nearly universal, and caused it to be adopted by so many different nations, and even different races of men, among whom are, no doubt, some persons who are justly distinguished for their wisdom, their piety, and their humanity.

The writer is not aware that any former attempt has been made in this country to analyze and explain the social system of polygamy, or that any works written abroad for this purpose have ever been current here ; at least, he has not been able to obtain any,[1] and thus to avail himself of their assistance. While, therefore, the subject- matter of this essay is of the most venerable anti- quity, the manner of its discussion must be entirely new ; and not only can the author claim the singu- lar merit of originality, but the reader can be assured of the no less singular zeat of novelty.


Almost everybody who takes up a new book is curious to know something of the writer ; of his special qualifications for his work, of his opportunities of acquiring a thorough knowledge of his subject, and of the standpoint from which he views it. He will, therefore, proceed at once to give some account of himself, and how he came to write this work. And the courteous reader will now please permit him to drop the indirect style of address so common among writers, and to introduce himself by speaking in the first person. I am a native of New England, and was brought up a strict Puritan. My father always declared his intention to educate me for the law, and I took to learning as readily as most boys of my age. I was graduated from college almost forty years ago, and had nearly completed my professional studies, when my health suddenly broke down ; and I then discovered that I had been bestowing all my care upon the improve- ment of the mind, to the total neglect of the health- fulness of the body. And this, I fancy, was only a common defect at that time, in our American, or, at least, our New-England, system of education. The physicians having prescribed a voyage at sea and a residence of some months in a tropical climate, the influence of my friends obtained a for- eign situation for me in one of our Boston houses having an extensive business in India ; and I be- came their clerk, and afterwards their factor. The engagements then entered into could not easily be broken off, and I have continued in them many years ; and having seen all the continents of the globe, and many islands of the sea, and having observed human society in every climate and in every social condition, I have at length returned to my native land, an older, and, I hope, a wiser man. Having become an active member of the church in my youth, I did not renounce my Christian charac- ter abroad, but have always afforded such encour- agement and assistance as I was able, to our Ameri- can and English missionaries, whenever I fell in with them. In fact, I had long cherished a pro- found respect and admiration for the missionary enterprise ; and, notwithstanding my father's wish to educate me for the law, I had, during my course of study, seriously offered myself as a candidate for missionary labor ; and, had I been deemed worthy of that honor, I should, no doubt, have devoted my life to that service. But Providence did not so order it. Yet when I went abroad, my early predi- lections easily reconciled me to the pain of leav- ing my native land, to the disappointment which I experienced in renouncing a career of professional and literary honors, and readily introduced me to the society of those devoted missionaries whom I would fain have chosen for my fellow-laborers and life-companions. I was very much surprised, however, soon after my first acquaintance with them, to learn that, under certain circumstances, they allowed the members of the native Christian churches a plurality of wives. As I had been educated a strict monogamist, in New England, I had never once dreamed that any other social sys- tem than monogamy could be possible among Christian people, anywhere ; and I remonstrated with the missionaries for permitting polygamy among their converts, under any circumstances whatever.


I was answered by them that the Bible has not forbidden it, but, on the contrary, has recognized it, as sometimes lawful and proper ; and although they themselves did not encourage it, they could not positively prohibit it. I then endeavored to recol- lect some prohibition in the Bible, but could neither recollect nor find one there. On the contrary, to my own astonishment, after a careful examination of the Sacred Scriptures, I did find therein many things to favor it. The missionaries also said that their experience had taught them that the converting grace of God was granted to those living in polyg- amy as often as to others ; the natives themselves attach no moral reproach to it ; " and," said the missionaries, " if such persons give evidence of genuine conversion, ' Can any man forbid water, that they should not be baptized, who have received the grace of God as well as we?' Besides," they added, " if they are not received and recog- nized as Christians, how shall we dispose of them? Shall we refuse them our fellowship, and send them back again to their idolatry? This would be no less unchristian than unkind. Shall we compel them to put away all their wives, but those first married, and then receive them into the church? But in many cases this would be impracticable, in others unjust, in all cruel. For the chastity of the women hitherto irreproachable would be tarnished by their repudiation : they would often be left without a home and without support ; and, like other dis- graced and destitute women of all lands, they would be thrust upon a life of infamy and vice. Who," continued they, " shall dare assume the responsibility of separating wife from husband, and children from parents? since the Bible expressly forbids a man to divorce his wife, for any cause, except unfaithfulness to her marriage vow: God is not said in the Bible to hate polygamy, but it says there that ' he hateth putting away.' "

I need not say that I was completely disarmed and silenced by this array of " the law and the tes- timony ; " and was compelled, by their arguments, to admit that their course was one of equal justice and mercy. I soon learned, however, that the rules of the missionaries are by no means uniform upon this question. Many of them, particularly those who possess a great regard for the authority and the dogmas of the church, and who reason rather from the " tradition of the elders," than from the laws of Nature or of God, have rigidly enforced monogamy among their converts ; and if any one becomes a Christian while living in polygamy, such missionaries require him to repudiate all his wives but one. It was not many months after the conver- sation above related that one of the missionaries called my attention to a religious journal that he had just received from Boston, containing the report of certain missionaries among the North-American Indians, giving an account of the conversion of an old and influential chief.


This chief at the time of his conversion to Chris- tianity was living with two wives. The one first married was now aged, blind, and childless. The other was young, attractive, healthful, and the mother of one fine boy. One of these wives the missionaries required him to put away, as an indis- pensable requisite to baptism and church-member- ship. The old chief, after careful deliberation, could not decide which one to repudiate. The first he was bound by every honorable motive " to love and to cherish," especially on account of her age and infirmity ; while the other was devotedly attached to him, and was the mother of his only child and heir, which he could not give up, and from which he could not separate the mother. He, therefore, submitted the case to the missionaries to decide which one of them he should put away. They decided against the younger one. And as he was old himself and his other wife was barren, that she must also give up her child. This mandate was obeyed with martyr-like fortitude, which nothing but the strongest religious motives could have inspired ; opposed, as it was, to every natural sentiment of love and honor. And thus, in one hour, was that young wife and mother deprived of her husband, her child, her character, and her home ; and sent away a bereaved and lonely outcast into the wide world. The report which the missionaries themselves gave of this affair closed by saying that the repudiated wife and bereaved mother soon died inconsolable and broken-hearted.


On reading this report, I could not forbear con- trasting their mode of treating polygamy with that of the missionaries in the East, which had come under my own observation there, and which I had, at first, so severely criticised. I now began to blush at my own late ignorance and bigotry. And the more I thought of the ecclesiastical tyranny of the North-American missionaries, the higher rose my indignation against it. I could not fail to see that their narrow attachment to their own social system had made them judicially blind to the merits of any other ; and that they were more ignorant of the true spirit of Christianity as well as of the natoral rights of man concerning the laws of marriage, than even the poor savages themselves. Yet they undoubtedly supposed they were doing God essential service by this act of inhumanity ; just as our fa- thers did when they hanged and burned honest men because they worshipped God in a different manner, and entertained different views of divine truth, from them&elves. Their mistake is one which has always been too common, and from which no one, perhaps, is altogether free. It consists in assuming that because we are honest in our belief, and mean to be right, others who essentially differ from us are dishonest and wrong ; and in presuming to judge the conduct of others by what we feel to be right, i.e., by our own standard of morality, instead of judging them by what we know to be right, according to the infallible standard of divine truth.

These reflections led me to give the whole sub- ject of marriage, in respect to its divine and natural laws, as thorough and as critical an investigation as my abilities and advantages enabled me to do ; and to inquire into the origin and the moral tendencies of the two social systems of monogamy and polygamy.

I have now pursued this investigation many years, and have become convinced that polygamy is not always au immorality ; that sometimes a man may innocently have more than one woman ; and then that it is their right to be married to him, and his duty to love and cherish them for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, till death shall part them.


I am unwilling to leave the world without hav- ing given it the benefit of these reflections. All truth is important. If these views are true, they ought to be known ; if they are not true let them be refuted. If the prejudices of modern Christians are opposed to the social system which their ancient brethren, the earliest saints and patriarchs, prac- tised in the good old days of Bible truth and pasto- ral simplicity, I believe that these prejudices are neither natural nor inveterate ; but that they have been induced by the corrupted Christianity of the mediaeval priesthood, and that they will be removed when Christian people become better informed ; and if it be necessary for me to sacrifice my own ease and my own credit, in attempting to remove them, I shall only suffer the common lot of all reformers before me. Yet I scarcely expect to see any immediate result of my labors. It is a melancholy and an hu- miliating fact that the opinions of most people are de- termined more by what others around them think and say than by what they believe themselves. They are not accustomed to the proper exercise of their own reason, and do not follow the convictions of their own minds. Yet there are some who dare to think and act for themselves ; and into the hands of a few such I doubt not these pages will fall : and to all such I most heartily commend them. To an active and an ingenuous mind there is no pursuit more fascinating than the pursuit of knowledge, no pleas- ure more exquisite than the discovery of truth. All those who would enjoy this pleasure in its highest sense must love Truth for herself alone ; they must emancipate themselves from the trammels of prejudice and public opinion, and dare to follow Truth wherever she may lead. And I make no further apology for calling the attention of an intelligent age to a new examination of an old institution. Truth dreads no scrutiny ; shields herself behind no breastwork of established custom or of respectable authority, but proudly stands upon her own merits. I will not despair, therefore, of gaining the atten- tion of every lover of the truth while I attempt to develop and demonstrate the laws of God and of nature upon the important subjects of love and mar- riage, and to apply those laws to the two systems of monogamy and polygamy.


To prevent misconception of the meaning intended to be conveyed by these terms, it is proper to state, that, by the laws of God, I mean the writ- ten laws contained in the Holy Bible ; which I believe to be the most perfect revelation of the divine will and God's inestimable gift to man. The laws by which the universe subsists, embracing those of mind as well as those of matter, are un- doubtedly the laws of God also ; but we call them, by way of distinction, the laws of nature ; because it is only by a diligent study of nature, and by rea- soning from cause to effect and from effect to cause, that they can be determined, yet when determined they are always found to harmonize with each other and also with the written law, which they may safely and properly be employed to illustrate and explain.

Both these classes of law differ materially from the civil law, or the laws of States and nations ; es- pecially in these respects : the former are always harmonious with each other, and equally valid at all times and places, and are, therefore, infallible and unchangeable. The latter are always conflict- ing with and often contradictory to one another ; and are constantly being altered, amended, and repealed ; and, although founded upon truth, in gen- eral, and inteuded for the public good, and there- fore entitled to our respect and obedience, they are so only in a qualified sense, far inferior to that pro- found respect and implicit obedience due to divine and natural law.

In my analysis of the laws of love and marriage on which depends the mutual relation of the two sexes, I shall be obliged to speak of that relation with unusual familiarity ; even though I may sometimes offend our modern notions of modesty and propriety — notions which I shall not now stop to discuss, whether they be true or false ; it matters not. Truth rises superior to every consideration of fastidiousness, and it is high time that these truths should be demonstrated. Yet it shall be my care so to treat them as not to offend true modesty un- necessarily : puris omnia pura.


1. .The term " monogamy" is used throughout this volume to denote enforced or restricted monogamy, or the system which allows each man but one wife ; and a monogamist is one who supports this system, whether he be married or unmarried. The term "polygamy" denotes freedom to marry either one wife or more; and a polygamist is one who maintains this freedom, whether he has one wife or many, or is unmarried.

2. This treatise is restricted, as its former title indicates, to the history and philosophy of polygamy and monogamy exclusively ; and attempts no dis- cussion of any other form of marriage so called, or of any other social system whatever. The curious reader will find many important facts concerning the history of marriage, and other systems of social life, in a new and valuable work entitled "Medical Common Sense and Plain Home Talk." By E. B. Foote, M.D., 120 Lexington Avenue, New York, 1870.

Chapter II. Primary Laws of Love[edit]


Among all the inherent properties of mankind, none is more important than that of love ; and no one more clearly eviuces the wisdom and benevolence of his Creator. Love, in its primary sense, to which it will be restricted in this treatise, is the mutual attraction of the two sexes. It exists in all persons, either as a sensibility or a passion. It is a sensibility when in a state of rest, or when exercised towards the whole of the opposite sex indiscriminately ; but it is a passion when strongly excited and when exercised towards particular individuals. And it is as truly and fundamentally a law of human nature as electricity is of material nature, — to which it bears a curious analogy. We can scarcely reason with more certainty upon the laws of electricity than upon those of love, for we have the assistance of consciousness in one case which we want in the other. But note the analogy : it has been demonstrated that all bodies possess electricity in a greater or less degree ; and that some are positive when compared with others, and some are negative. They are usually at rest ; but when two bodies of different electrical states ap- proach each other, they at once become highly excited, and continue so till brought in contact with each other, when the positive charges or im- pregnates the negative. So it is found that love exists in different states in the two sexes, and in different degrees of intensity in different individuals of the same sex. Males are positive, and females negative ; and while the latter differ less from each other than the former do, being nearly all of them susceptible to the proper proposals of genuine love, yet they are not so much affected by sponta- neous passion as the former are, who usually ex- perience it with great intensity, and are impelled to make the first advances. Bat there are always some individuals among them who need a great deal of encouragement before they will advance and propose ; and others who are almost destitute of the common sensibility of love, and who will neither make proposals nor receive them.


Love sheds on earth something of the beauty and the light of heaven. Love develops the no- blest traits of humanity ; and often brings them out from those persons who had given little promise of possessing them, until they were brought under the influence of this master passion. There is nothing so great, so difficult, or so self-sacrificing that love will not inspire men to dare and to do. But it is not more in splendid achievements or wonder- ful adventures, than it is in the innumerable little things, which conspire to make up the happiness of social life, that the greatest victories of love are won. We cannot love any person, without seeking his or her benefit ; and in endeavoring to benefit and please the object of our affection, we are impelled to improve and beautify ourselves, in order to become more worthy of our beloved one's affection in return. And this leads us not only to adorn our persons but to polish our manners and cultivate our minds.

Hence, we are deeply indebted to this sentiment for those qualities of mind and person which com- bine to constitute us social beings ; since it does not more certainly impel us to the acquisition of what is beautiful and becoming in dress and de- portment, than to the attainment of intelligence and politeness, and to surround ourselves with all the embellishments of civilization. Love refines all that it touches. Under its influence the rough boy becomes the respectful young gentleman, and the awkward girl assumes the innate refinement of the lady. Love paints the cheek with roses, adds new lustre and intelligence to the eye, imparts strength and elasticity to the step, grace and dignity to the mien, courage to the heart, elo- quence to the tongue, and poetry to every thought. In fact, love is at once the poetry of life, and the life of poetry. Love has inspired, in every age, the brightest dreams of fancy and the noblest con- ceptions of literature and of art, constituting the perpetual theme which animates the writer's pen and tunes the poet's lyre. Love reposes in the sculptor's marble ; love blushes upon the painter's canvas. And all these various embodiments of love by literature and art are universally appreciated and admired ; for the pen, the chisel, and the pencil have only given expression to the gen- eral sentiment of mankind. The poet and the artist have only wrought out what every one else had already thought : and have only given speech, form, and color to the silent, shadowy images of the common heart of man.


That the language of love is universally understood, and that its varied delineations by the inspiration of art are always and everywhere delightfully recognized, is sufficient proof that the sentiment is universally experienced. It is not confined to the gifted, the highborn, or the rich, nor is it peculiar to any period of the world, or to any condition of life. All have possessed the sensibility, if they have not experienced the passion ; they have felt the want of love, if they have not enjoyed its fruition.

It is our birthright. We have no sooner passed the period of adolescence than we inherit the power and the inclination to love. We then feel an instinctive yearning of the heart for a kindred heart. We are each of us conscious of being incomplete alone, and incapable of enjoying alone our fullest happiness, and we intuitively seek that happiness by linking our destiny in life with some dear one of the opposite sex. It is there only that our natural wants can be supplied. One sex is the complement of the other. Each is imperfect alone, and each supplies what the other lacks. Self-reliant as man may suppose himself to be, yet divine wisdom has said, " It is not good for the man to be alone ; " he needs a " helpmeet " in woman. Still less is it good for the woman to be alone, for u she was created for the man," and every woman wants a man to love ; for love is her life, and it is only while she loves, or hopes to love, that she lives to any happy or useful or honest purpose. It has been said that as woman was taken out of man in her creation, so it is man's instinctive desire to seek her and to reclaim her as his own counterpart, or that portion of himself which is required to complete the symmetry of his nature and the happiness of his life. For this love the youthful heart longs and Junes until it attains the object of its desires, or until it has become so sordid, so hard, and so profligate, as to be, at once, unworthy of possessing it, and incapable of enjoying it. This susceptibility of the youthful heart has been faithfully portrayed by a youthful poet, in the following lines, which are at once recognized, as expressing the common sentiment of humanity : —

" It is not that my lot is low,
That bids the silent tear to flow,
It is not grief that bids me moan,
It is that I am all alone.

In woods and glens I love to roam,
When the tired hedger hies him home ;
Or by the woodland pool to rest,
When pale the star looks on its breast.

Yet when the silent evening sighs,
With hallowed airs and symphonies,
My spirit takes another tone,
And sighs that it is all alone.

The woods and winds with sudden wail
Tell all the same unvaried tale ;
I've none to, smile when I am free,
And when I sigh, to sigh with me.

Yet in my dreams a form I view,
That thinks on me and loves me too ;
I start ! and when the vision's flown,
I weep that I am all alone."

H. K. White.

Another poet has expressed the same sentiment in the following impassioned lines : —

" Give me but Something whereunto I may bind my heart ;
Something to love, to cherish, and to clasp
Affection's tendrils round."

Now, if any one should be inclined to call all this but love-sick sentimentality, unworthy our serious consideration, I shall only answer him in the words of Dr. Johnson, the English moralist : " We must not ridicule the passion of love, which he who never felt, never was happy ; and he who laughs at never deserves to feel, — a passion which has inspired heroism, and subdued avarice ; a passion which has caused the change of empires, and the loss of worlds."

Shall these heaven-born impulses of nature be regarded, or must they be repressed? Shall we permit these tendrils of our love to bind themselves around some kindred heart, or shall we suffer them to be rudely torn asunder, and cast aside to wither and decay? Implanted for the noblest purposes within our breasts, interwoven with the very fibres of our being, the laws of God and of nature unquestionably demand their indulgence.


In plainer terms, the laws of God and of nature clearly indicate that every man and every woman, possessing sufficient health and vitality to experience the passion of love, is benefited by its proper grati- fication ; and those laws both allow and invite every one to enjoy it in its full fruition. A man is not wholly a man, nor a woman wholly a woman, who has never experienced the ecstasies of gratified love. And those men and women who are spending their most vigorous period of life in cold and barren celibacy, without ever having yielded to the warm desires of reproduction, are living, every moment, in debt to their Creator and to the commonwealth of mankind. They have never fulfilled some of the most important purposes of their being.

" Torches arc made to light, jewels to wear, Dainties to taste, fresh beauty for the use, Herbs for their smell, and sappy plants to bear ; Things growing to themselves are growth's abuse : Seeds spring from seeds, and beauty brecdeth beauty, Thou wast begot — to get it is thy duty. Upon the earth's increase why shouldst thou feed, Unless the earth with thy increase be fed ? By law of Nature thou art bound to breed, That thine may live, when thou thyself art dead ; And so in spite of death thou dost survive, In that thy likeness still is left alive."

Shakspeare (Venus and Adonis).


Tet men and women must not rush into sensual pleasure like brutes, for we are moral beings, as well as corporeal beings, and, as such, the subjects of moral law, which requires us to govern our passions, and circumscribe them within the limits of purity. But, even in this respect, there is no real disagreement between the laws of morality and those of Nature : when they are properly un- derstood, they are each equally explicit in forbid- ding every form of licentious impurity. The most loathsome and incurable diseases are the penalties imposed by natural law, and the severest retribu- tions of eternity, the penalties imposed by divine law, upon the promiscuous and unrestrained in- dulgence of the amorous propensity. Nor are these j penalties unnecessary. No passion of our nature ( is more vehement, and no one more liable to be i tempted and led astray from the path of rectitude ; and we should, therefore, attend the more carefully to those laws and limitations which God and Nature have imposed upon its indulgence. And I cannot doubt that they have limited its indulgence strictly to the marriage relation. Some well- defined limit there must be between chastity and unchastity, and vice and virtue, or else the laws which define them and which punish transgressors must be unjust and oppressive.


Here there is no oppression and no injustice. Everybody is born with a propensity to love, and everybody that is willing to marry may marry, and indulge that propensity in innocence and purity. Within this limit the gratification of love affords us the most exquisite pleasure, promotes health, conduces to longevity, and is entirely consistent with the rules of morality and religion. But when it oversteps this limit prescribed by our Creator, and bursts the barriers of chastity, it then assumes the form of unprincipled lust, and inflicts upon its miserable votaries the utmost torture of body, degradation of mind, and remorse of conscience.

" Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled ; but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge." — Heb. xiii. 4.

"Hail wedded love, mysterious law, true source Of human offspring, sole propriety, In Paradise, of all things common else. By thee adulterous lust was driven from man, Among the bestial herd to range ; by thee Founded in reason, loyal, just, and pure Relations dear and all the charities Of father, son, and brother first were known. Far be it, that I should write thee sin or blame ; Or think thee unbefitting holiest place ; Perpetual fountain of domestic sweets, Whose bed is undefiled and chaste pronounced, Present or past, as saints and patriarchs used. Here Love his golden shafts employs, here lights His constant lamp, and waves his purple wings."

Paradise Lost, Book iv.

Chapter III. Primary Laws of Marriage[edit]

Chapter IV. Origin of Polygamy[edit]

Chapter V. Origin of Monogamy[edit]

Chapter VI. Monogamy after the Introduction of Christianity[edit]

Chapter VII. Monogamy as it is[edit]

Chapter VIII. Relation of Monogamy to Crime[edit]

Chapter IX. Objections to Polygamy[edit]


  1. See Appendix.