The chief cause of monogamy in every country is undoubtedly the youth, beauty, or other charm in the girl which excites and sets in motion those psycho-sexual processes which, for lack of a better name, we call love. Whether this love be what Plato called it, the great devil, because it rules and commands every other devil of passion; or whether it be divine, first created by God Himself, in Paradise; we do know that it operates most powerfully in youth. "Love is painted young because he belongs particularly to the young," says Hebraeus. He is fair and fat because, as another old writer naively remarks, "such folks are first taken." He is pictured naked, because all true affection is simple and open; has a quiver and bow, to indicate that he is a hunter, of hearts; is blind, because he neither sees nor cares where he hits; and is a great commanding god, above Jupiter himself, according to Athenssus.1 But to enjoy fully the passion of love, both men and women should marry young. The importance of a man manying younger than himself is obvious. Women age much faster than men. The nervous system is frailer, and the metabolic mechanism of the entire body far more sensitive and delicate. Their charm, and therefore the sexual life, are shorter in duration.
In California, Mr. Powers tells us, women are handsome in their carefree, untoiling youth, but break down after twenty-five to thirty, and become, many of them, positively ugly.3 Among the Mandan Indians, maidens are sometimes beautiful, but all get homely after marriage.3 The Kutchin women "get coarse and ugly as they grow old;"1 and among the Warraus, according to Schomburgk, the flower of a woman's life is gone at twenty. The Patagonian women fade early; and in New Zealand, Tahiti, Hawaii and the Philippines—partly from too early sexual excesses—woman's beauty is lost at a very unripe age.6
In Africa female beauty is particularly evanescent. The Egyptian girl, from fourteen to eighteen, is a model of loveliness and grace; but at twenty-five to thirty-five—the season of a woman's prime in America—she is broken-down and coarse-featured.* In Eastern Africa female charms are less perishable than in India and Arabia; but even there the sex falls into the "hideous decrepitude of the East"7 at a very early age; and the Arab girls of the Sahara preserve the bloom and freshness of our women of thirty only till about the sixteenth year."
The Wolof girls are very pretty, with their soft, glossy black skins; "but," as Mr. Reade remarks, "when the first jet of youth is passed, the skin turns to a dirty yellow, and creases like old leather; their eyes sink into the skull, and the breasts hang down like the udder of a cow."1 " Among the Fulah, it is rare for women above twenty to become mothers;"1 and in Unyoro, Emin Pasha never met a woman over twenty-five with a baby.1