The difficulty of obtaining reliable data as to homosexual practices among savages, has been greatly augmented by the disinclination of even scientific explorers to touch upon the theme. They speak vaguely of "brutish customs" and "crimes against nature;" but "sodomy" and "incest" seem to be about the only words the ordinary divine deems permissible in describing vices which, if accurately defined, might aid us largely in our present task. Sufficient evidence, however, is forthcoming to convince us that even among the most primitive races there exists a widespread, and, presumably, instinctive knowledge of sexual laws and phenomena; a knowledge frequently utilized for social and tribal purposes; and which, there is little reason to doubt, at a very early age was properly recognized as the great procreative principle of nature.
Unnatural intercourseŚmeaning most probably pederastyŚwas regarded as an antisocial offense among the Mexicans, Peruvians, Chinese, Hebrews, Teutons and Mohammedans; and it is worthy of note, as I have heretofore remarked, that the early nations in which it received the greatest tolerance and recognition were the most refined and civilized, notably Greece, Egypt and Rome, German law only deals primitively with unnatural relations between men; while in Austria, the same vice between women is taken cognizance of; but as jurists, in almost every country, seem to have conceived but one idea of sexual immorality of this character Śthe unnatural intercourse of men with men, either by the rectum or mouthŚwe find only immi&sio penis in corpus vivum covered by the criminal code.
In this country, it is regrettable, little attention seems to be paid to homosexuality, per se, by our judiciary, unless when associated with other overt acts;1 and there is hardly any doubt that within recent years it has been perceptibly stimulated in our larger cities, and by our native-born population, particularly, by the ever-growing desire to escape having children.
Indeed, we are told that in New Guinea, Torres Straits and various other countries, the practice is not only indulged in but publicly advocated on this very ground;* and Aristotle informs us that in Crete, for a somewhat similar reason, a special law was passed to protect it. Among nations with whom war and religion were paramount pursuits, it naturally obtained much more readily, and largely, than among domestic and home-loving peoples. Thus Mohammedans, who spent a goodly portion of their lives In long pilgrimages to Mecca, were permitted by law to masturbate on the way; and among the Carthagenians, Darians, Scythians, Normans and Tartars, peoples who, along with the separation from their women entailed by their protracted campaigns, felt no strong moral sentiment against it, we find it assuming almost the fixity of a tribal custom. Indeed, homosexuality is the peculiar vice of armies, sailors, tramps and convicts; of those isolated permanently from women; and among the Sikhs, the finest soldier-race of India, Mr. Ellis tells us, the practices of masturbation and, especially, rectal intercourse, are unusually common.3
' A highly respectable member of the Philadelphia Bar recently informed me that he would not consent to defend a person accused of such a crime, on the mere ground of social and professional decency.