The latter emotion, modesty, seems to be so generally diffused amongst all races, so common to both sexes, and so early a manifestation in the sexual life that we are fairly justified in regarding it as congenital. Centering, as a rule, around the sexual processes, it forms one of the component elements of woman on the psychical side, and as such will be treated when I come to take up the nature and analysis of the sexual instinct.
That it forms "the beginning of morality in the sexual life," however, as stated by Krafft-Ebing, I take the liberty of doubting. It is within the experience at least of many who have associated largely with prostitutes, that modesty is no infrequent trait among them; while the girl who blushes the most readily, and hangs her head in shame at the slightest indiscreet word, offers, it is fairly well known, usually the least resistance when you get her behind the door.
While acting as surgeon with the 11th U. S. Cav-ilry in the Philippines, I have been, on the other land, amazed to find such an utter lack of modesty among women whom, to my equally great amazement, I found to be perfectly virtuous. It is no uncommon thing to see the young Filipino dandy, while talking to his lady-love, turn his back to her and urinate; and, on the railroad from Manila to Dagupan, during the detention of trains at stations, both male and female passengers may be frequently seen squatting or standing side by side, relieving themselves in a similar, or even more offensive, way.
And yet the females who do these things are, to my certain knowledge, among the most virtuous women on earth. So virtuous that I saw a girl, quite pretty and attractive, who, occupying the same social rank in the United States, and with a different complexion, would be extremely apt to yield to such a glowing temptation, offered fifty dollars in gold by a handsome young officer for her dusky favor, and yet carry away her virtue unscathed.
"It has been my experience," remarks H, Crawford Angus, writing of Central Africa," that the more naked the people and the more, to us, shameless and obscene their manners and customs, the more moral and strict tbey are in the matter of sexual intercourse." He then gives a description of the Chensamwali, or initiation ceremony practised in introducing a young girl of Azimba Land to the modus operandi of the sexual act, and all the secrets of marriage, with certain songs and dances expressive of the pleasures and sensations attending it; stating in conclusion that "the whole thing is looked upon as a matter of course, and not one to be ashamed of, or to hide; and being thus openly treated of, and no secrecy made about it, you find that in this tribe the women are very virtuous."1
The present writer's cousin, Dr. Thomas H. Parke, who accompanied Stanley as medical officer of the Emin Pasha Relief Expedition, says that "the women of Upoto wear no clothes whatever, and came up to us in the most unreserved manner. An interesting gradation in the arrangement of female costume has been observed by us: as we ascended the Congo, the higher up the river we found ourselves, the higher the dress reached, till it has now, at last, culminated in absolute nudity."*
The question of modesty in the sexual life is wholly one of conventionality, different nations adopting different standards. The fashionable lady of Pekin, who blushes to expose her feet, even to the physician, and the Thessalian girls who, as described by Perseus, habitually danced naked at the national banquets, and the maidens of Chios, spoken of by Athena-us as wrestling naked with the youths in the gymnasium,* and which, with a sexual enthusiasm quite pardonable, he calls "a beautiful sight," had each her own idea of modesty; as has also our own Newport belle, whose seashore displays of loveliness are startlingly at variance with the correctness of her city costume, in which only a passing gleam of variegated hosiery, perhaps, is permitted to lighten the monotony of our street-life.
The Roman damsel, shut up naked in her bath with an equally nude Greek slave, can readily be pardoned for those frequent losses of virginity which history has taken care to record, and which so excited the pious scandal of Clement of Alexandria that he made it the subject of a very forcible and spicy section of his " Psdagogus."
"Women will scarce strip naked before their husbands," he writes, "affecting a plausible pretense of modesty, but any others who wish may see them at home, shut up in their own baths, for they are not ashamed to strip before spectators, as if exposing their persons for sale. The baths are opened promiscuously to men and women; and there they strip for licentious indulgence, as if their modesty had been washed away in the bath. Those who have not become utterly destitute of modesty shut out strangers; but bathe with their own servants, strip naked before their slaves, and are rubbed by them, giving to the crouching menial liberty to lust, by permitting fearless handling; for those who are introduced before their naked mistresses, while in the bath, study to strip themselves in order to show audacity in lust; casting off all fear in consequence of the wicked custom."1