It was not sufficient among most primitive races A Severe Love- that the suitor should be young and attractive—he Test must be both brave and strong; and the more enemies he subdued in battle, and the more heads of a hostile tribe he could lay at the feet of his inamorata, the more he was prized and admired.
Among the Dongolowees, as Felkin informs us,s the difficulty of choice between two rivals, which the modem belle would probably decide on a purely monetary basis, was determined in the following manner. The young lady tied a knife blade to each forearm, the points projecting from the elbows, then seating herself upon a log, with a young lover on each side, she slowly leaned forward, pressing the points of the blades into the young men's thighs, and the one who whimpered first was ignominously rejected. It is a matter for pious gratitude that courting in this country is not governed by such strenuous conditions. I fear there would be more bachelors even than at present if it were.
Regarding the natives of the River Darling, Mitchell says that the possession of girls, or wives, appears to be associated with all their ideas of fighting, while the girls have it in their power to evince that universal prerogative of the fair—a partiality for the brave.4
It is not difficult to explain women's instinctive preference for strong men, as a fundamental law in natural selection. The strong man not only begets strong children, but is better able to protect and provide for both them and the mother. In the early stages of human and social evolution, bodily vigor was the chief factor in the struggle for existence. The strong man might perpetuate the weak woman, but the woman, however strong, could not give continued existence to the weak man. This principle did not cease to exist with the progress of civilization; but prevails, and must continue to prevail, so long as society and the human race depend, as they presumably always will, on the law of selection for their growth and perpetuation.
To the ancient Greeks, Eros was an extremely handsome boy; and Aphrodite was the goddess of beauty as of love. Under the names, Cupido and Venus, in the Roman mythology, they also represented, respectively, man and woman; showing that in both countries the ideas of strength and beauty were inseparably connected. And these ideas were by no means confined to the higher conditions of civilization.