Newspapers, magazines and various publications of a quasi-scientific character, literally teem with discussions—for the most part foolishly or illogically founded—as to " why men do not marry," the causes of unhappy unions, and the probable ultimate development of the ever-growing divorce evil. Indeed, with the present hypothetical character of the wedding contract, the perils which involve it, and the comparative rarity with which it is either entered into, or lasts, for a lifetime, it would seem that a return to the primitive method of the Sagno negroes, as described by Merolla da Sorrento, would be strictly in order, in America at least. "Women have experience of their husbands before marrying them, and in like manner men of their wives; and in this particular I can aver that the women are commonly much more obstinate or fickle than the men, for I have known many instances in which the men were willing to be married, while the women held back, and either Red away or made excuses."1
The last clause of the quotation is less applicable to my present purpose than the first. What I mean to convey is that Mr. Meredith's scheme of ten-year marriages is, after all, nothing new; and that as a remedy for the "divorce disease " it might not be unworthy of a trial. Lobo tells us that, in Abyssinia, " marriage was usually entered upon for a term of years;"3 and we are informed by Waitz3 that many of the negro peoples marry either "on trial" or for a fixed time. The Aleuts used to exchange their wives for food and clothes, just as the modern lady exchanges her husband for notoriety and alimony. The system is the same, only the modern lady, being a more valuable asset, naturally brings the higher price. I shall, however, defer consideration of this theme until we come to the duration of marriage among ancient and modern peoples, and continue my investigation of the physical causes which underlie the sexual union.