Mantegazza finds sexual intercourse between women as significant, in many cases, of an unsatisfied hyperesthesia sexualis; but, from personal study of the subject, under somewhat favorable circumstances, I am led to believe that, as it is well known to be a vice of the higher classes of society, it arises far more frequently from an unsatisfied cesthetic feeling, and a longing for the refinements, softness and love which are associated with the female character, as against the customary brutality and coarseness of man.
I am fully aware that I stand alone in this position; but find it extremely difficult to account in any other way for the well-known prevalence of sapphism in the higher ranks of modern society; where, it is unfortunately true, the vices of alcoholic intoxication and other forms of physical indulgence do not tend to the highest types of manly gentleness and refinement.
It would astonish most persons to know the number of women who are living together in this kind of sexual relationship in every highly civilized community. There are few who cannot recall at least one instance of the sort; and, in a matter which appeals peculiarly to social secrecy, there must be an infinitely greater number who are not known.
In a certain court in London a woman was arraigned on the charge of being married to no fewer than three other women, and, on conviction, was sentenced to six months' imprisonment.1
In the same city two women lived together quite happily as man and wife for thirty years, the secret only being divulged in the death-bed confession of the "husband;" 1 and Havelock Ellis records a case, as personally known to himself, where "a congenitally inverted Englishwoman of distinguished intellectual ability, now dead, was attached to the wife of a clergyman, who, in full cognizance of all the facts in the case, privately married the two ladies in his church." 1
Traces of this form of sexual aberration have been found among the peoples of New Zealand, Brazil, India and Arabia, as well as almost all the older European civilizations.