There is a popular dread among men of the so-called "strong minded," or educated woman of to-day, which I think requires a little examination. A right mind can hardly be too strong, and a wrong mind, however weak, is never desirable in either man or woman. If a woman's desires, aims, ambitions be abnormal, unseemly, or unwomanly; if they tend to public speech-making, preaching, politics—pursuits primitively and naturally masculine—instead of the home, maternity and the part which, by her grace, beauty and attractiveness, nature evidently intended her to play in society, she must be regarded as a sexual pervert, a monstrosity, and utterly unfitted for the serious duties of wifehood and motherhood. But if she be simply a learned woman, with sexual instincts normal and refined, no doubt should trouble the wife-seeker. She will make him a better companion, a better mother for his children, a better ruler of his home, and exert a holier and better influence upon his life, by reason of her education than without it.
By education, however, I must not be understood to mean the so-called "modern accomplishments"—dancing, music, rhetoric, and a little dab of Latin and French. These too often betray, not education, but the lack of it. At best they are but the froth and bubbles of the deep, clear current of useful knowledge. The woman whom you should select as your wife ought to know something of education in its deeper, broader, truer sense,—art, literature, history, biography, philosophy and the great trend of worldly affairs; but more than all, of her own nature, her limitations and opportunities, as well as the great sexual laws which God has ordained for her government. She should be as competent to cook a meal as to play a gem from the last opera; to mend her stocking as to dance a two-step; and to make a bed, a shirt, a gown, or to rear a child, even better than she speaks French or Italian, and pours tea or plays tennis.
Do not call me a cynic, or a misogynist. I am neither. I shall have something to say to men, too, after awhile. Neither have I that erotic tendency of the times which can find nothing bad in womanhood; which frees the murderess on account of her sex, and violates, day by day, the God-ordained principle of eternal justice for a fair face or the lecherous glance of a lewd woman. " These are hard words," but fully justified, I think, in view of the fact that we find a notorious woman, of far greater beauty than virtue, now in the dock on a charge of murder, choosing her own jurors, with far greater psychological knowledge than her judges possess, by the color of their eyes and the fullness of their lips.1
Human intercourse, after all, both social and sexual, is only one long struggle for supremacy; and the prisoner alluded to, in not trying to influence her jury by a show of learning or mental culture, as so many women would, simply demonstrated that she knew more perfectly the weapons of a woman's power.
Shallow women may accuse me of speaking disparagingly of their sex, when in reality I am showing them the greatest measure of respect, by warning them against unworthy members of it, by treating them as reasoning beings, differing from men only in the finer texture of their feelings, and quite as capable as the latter of discriminating between frivolous flattery, empty compliment, and earnest, serious counsel.
We train the physician, or the clergyman, by five or six years of indefatigable study for the practice of his profession; we do not even buy a
1 Trial of "Nan" Patterson, accused of killing Caesar Young, New York, Nov., 1904. Acquitted by disagreement of jury, although believed by both trial-judge and the general public to be guilty as charged.
The women of Madagascar,1 the chiefs of the Garos,s and the Lundu Sea Dyaks,' are all degenerating physically and mentally; and the Todas of the Nielgherry Hills, according to Marshall,4 probably the most interesting group of savages in this respect, who are so intermarried that the whole tribe, "when not parents and children, or brothers and Bisters, are first cousins, descended from lines of first cousins prolonged for centuries," although seemingly in ordinary health, are nevertheless dying out.
Enough has been said to indicate the trend of the most advanced scholarship on this matter, without wearying the reader with quotations and statistics in extenso, to further demonstrate the strength of my position, that the opposition to incest springs, chiefly, from absence of sexual desire. Among our savage ancestors, as among all other animals, there was doubtless a time when blood relationship offered no bar to sexual intercourse; but long observation taught the human race that those who avoided in-and-in breeding survived, and multiplied, while the others perished. Thus, probably, rather than through any exercise of abstract morality, was developed the instinct for exogamous marriage, if any influence were needed other than that already alluded to, in the natural aversion of kin for kin in the sexual act.
It may be objected that this aversion is too complicated a mental phenomenon to be classed as a true instinct; but in answering the objection, perhaps too briefly, I shall only say that there are instincts, equally complicated, which cannot be explained any more satisfactorily, but which yet stand as recognized ethnographical principles, of which may be cited as an example the law of opposites in sexual love.