I have noted elsewhere that many savage races are really more modest than the civilized; and the fact is quite susceptible of explanation. The teaching of at least the outlines of physiology in our public schools has familiarized us, to a great extent, with the phenomena of physical functions, sexual anatomy, and the laws of procrcation; and with that knowledge has come, necessarily, a greater freedom in discussing such questions, as well as a stimulated desire for their investigation. Our modern life is largely subservient to human needs, in art, literature and science. Outward expression, chastened by the refinements of society, touches freely themes and sentiments which are forbidden ground to the unlettered; and as a consequence we find the semblance, as well as the principle, of modesty far more invincibly established among the latter than the former class. Hence, conversations and themes are admitted quite readily into the drawing-rooms of educated people which would be considered outrageous in the household of a workingman. The disgust for certain portions of our anatomy, which is an instinct of most savage races, as Richet has well pointed out, "necessarily decreases as our knowledge increases;" and examining scientifically the wonderful mechanism from which our physical functions spring, we lose, to a large extent, the feeling of disgust which that mechanism originally conveyed to our senses. Thus civilization tends to subordinate modesty as an instinct, to intellect as a law; and in doing so, while still recognizing it in principle, has necessarily deprived it of much of its original power.
Mr. Darwin in his Descent of Man, and Mr. Wallace Love-Lures of in his Contributions to the Theory of Natural Selec-Civilization tion, have so clearly and cleverly covered the ground of sexual choice among animals, describing the various means which the latter resort to for the purpose of attracting the opposite sex, means after all scarcely differing from our own, that I shall omit, however reluctantly, this very important phase of the question, and pass at once to those attributes of sex which are mutually attractive to men and women, and which so largely influence the question of marriage and procreation in the human family.
I place marriage first, with a clear eye to the fact that man, unlike other male animals, is usually ready to pair off with the female every time he gets a chance; so that the mere act of copulation becomes in a sense secondary to the law of legitimate union as one of the foundations of society.
" Let a man be never so good-looking, he will not be much sought after; bat let a woman be never so plain, she will still be eagerly courted;" is an old proverb, the truth of which is far more apparent when applied to previous generations than to this. Notwithstanding the undoubted fact that the progress and refinements of civilization, with the greater regard paid to the laws of health, and culture of the mind, have materially raised the standard of female beauty, it is equally undeniable that woman, in her sexual capacity, is not as largely sought after today as heretofore.
Whether this be due to that gradual weakening of the sexual life, formerly hinted at, the enlarging of the ideal at the expense of the purely sensual, the, possibly, greater prevalence of illicit indulgence, or any other, or all, of a number of causes, it is not the writer's province, in his strict dealing with sexual facts, to determine; but at no period in the history of the race, it can truthfully be said, has the question of the sexual relation furnished a more interesting held for philosophical speculation than at present.