Apart from religious precept, the analogies of savage life, the pairing of animals, the preservation of health, the perpetuation of the race, the prevention of disease, and the thousand and one evils incident to promiscuity in the sexual relation, all teach the usefulness and necessity of marriage.
The Greeks regarded it, very properly, as not only a matter of private but of public concern. This was especially so in Sparta, where criminal proceedings might be instituted against those who married too late, or not at all. In the laws of Solon, marriage was placed under the rigid inspection of the State; and Plato remarks that every individual "is bound to provide for a continuance of representatives to succeed himself, as ministers of the Divinity."
The Hebrews were, and are now, preeminently a marrying race. They have a proverb that " he who has no wife is no man;"1 Among Hebrews and the ancient Israelite, as Michaelis remarks,* would hardly have believed it possible that a period of the world should come when it would be counted sanctity to live unmarried. Marriage was looked on as a religious duty. The authorities, according to the Talmud, might compel a man to marry; and he who remained single after the age of twenty, was, in old times, regarded as accursed of God almost as much as if he were a murderer.* As I have elsewhere stated, at the advents of the various false Messiahs, the Jews of Palestine, in reviving their ancient ceremonies, "were not negligent of the laws relating to multiplying and increase, and married children together, of ten years and upwards, without regard to poverty or riches, quality or condition; so that the synagogues of the city were one continual scene of wedding festivity, and the streets were strewn with bridal garlands of olive blossoms and the sweet-scented Narcissus of Sharon."1
Savages as a rule marry earlier in life than civilized races. Among the Cingalese, it is the father's duty to provide his son with a wife when that son reaches eighteen.* Harmon found * that among the Blackfeet, Crees, Chippewas and other tribes on the eastern side of the Rocky Mountains, celibacy was a rare exception, the girls marrying at from twelve to sixteen years.