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HUSBANDS AND WIVESEdit
It has always been common to discuss the psychology of women. The psychology of men has usually been passed over, whether because it is too simple or too complicated. But the marriage question to-day is much less the wife-problem than the husband-problem. Women in their personal and social activities have been slowly expanding along lines which are now generally accepted. But there has been no marked change of responsive character in the activities of men. Hence a defective adjustment of men and women, felt in all sorts of subtle as well as grosser ways, most felt when they are husband and wife, and sometimes becoming acute.
It is necessary to make clear that, as is here assumed at the outset, "man" and "husband" are not quite the same thing, even when they refer to the same person. No doubt that is also true of "woman" and "wife." A woman in her quality as woman may be a different kind of person from what she is in her function as wife. But in the case of a man the distinction is more marked. One may know a man well in the world as a man and not know him at all in his home as a husband; not necessarily that he is unfav- ourably revealed in the latter capacity. It is sim- ply that he is different.
The explanation is not really far to seek. A man in the world is in vital response to the influences around him. But a husband in the home is playing a part which was created for him long centuries before he was born. He is falling into a convention, which, indeed, was moulded to fit many masculine human needs but has become rigidly traditionalised. Thus the part no longer corresponds accurately to the player's nature nor to the circumstances tinder which it has to be played.
In the marriage system which has prevailed in our world for several thousand years, a cer- tain hierarchy, or sacred order in authority, has throughout been recognised. The family has been regarded as a small State of which the hus- band and father is head. Classic paganism and Christianity differed on many points, but they were completely at one on this. The Roman sys- tem was on a patriarchal basis and continued to be so theoretically even when in practise it came to allow great independence to the wife. Chris- tianity, although it allowed complete spiritual freedom to the individual, introduced no fund- amentally new theory of the family, and, indeed, re-inforced the old theory by regarding the family as a little church of which the husband was the head. Just as Christ is the head of the Church, St. Paul repeatedly asserted, so the husband is the head of the wife; therefore, as it was constantly argued during the Middle Ages, a man is bound to rule his wife. St. Augustine, the most influential of Christian Fathers, even said that a wife should be proud to consider her- self as the servant of her husband, his ancilla, a word that had in it the suggestion of slave. That was the underlying assumption throughout the Middle Ages,, for the Northern Germanic peoples, having always been accustomed to wife-purchase before their conversion, had found it quite easy to assimilate the Christian view. Protest- antism, even Puritanism with its associations of spiritual revolt, so far from modifying the accepted attitude, strengthened it, for they found authority for all social organisation in the Bible, and the Bible revealed an emphatic predominance of the Jewish husband, who possessed essen- tial rights to which the wife had no claim. Milton, who had the poet's sensitiveness to the loveliness of woman, and the lonely man's feel- ing for the solace of her society, was yet firmly assured of the husband's superiority over his wife. He has indeed furnished the classical pic- ture of it in Adam and Eve,
"He for God only, she for God in him,"
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and to that God she owed "subjection/' even though she might qualify it by "sweet reluctant amorous delay/' This was completely in har- mony with the legal position of the wife. As a subject she was naturally in subjection; she owed her husband the same loyalty as a subject owes the sovereign; her disloyalty to him was termed a minor form of treason ; if she murdered him the crime was legally worse than murder and she rendered herself liable to be burnt.
We see that all the influences on our civilisation, religious and secular, southern and north- ern, have combined to mould the underlying bony structure of our family system in such a way that, however it may appear softened and disguised on the surface, the husband is the head and the wife subject to him. We must not be supposed hereby to deny that the wife has had much authority, many privileges, considerable freedom, and in individual cases much opportunity to domineer, whatever superiority custom or brute strength may have given the husband. There are henpecked husbands, it has been remarked, even in aboriginal Australia. It is necessary to avoid the error of those enthusiasts for the emancipation of women who,, out of their eager faith in the future of women, used to describe her past as one of scarcely mitigated servitude and hardship. If women had not constantly succeeded in overcoming or eluding the difficulties that beset them in the past, it would be foolish to cherish any faith in their future. It must, moreover, be remembered that the very constitution of that ecclesiastico- feudal hierarchy which made the husband supreme over the wife, also made the wife jointly with her husband supreme over their children and over their servants. The Middle Ages, alike in England and in France, as doubtless in Christendom generally, accepted the rule laid down in Gratian's Decretum, the great mediaeval text-book of Canon Law, that "the husband may chastise his wife temperately, for she is of his household," but the wife might chastise her daughters and her servants, and she sometimes exercised that right in ways that we should nowadays think scarcely temperate.
If we seek to observe how the system worked some five hundred years ago when it had not yet become, as it is to-day, both weakened and disguised, we cannot do better than turn to the Paston Letters, the most instructive documents we possess concerning the domestic life of excellent yet fairly average people of the upper middle class in England in the fifteenth century. Marriage was still frankly and fundamentally (as it was in the following century and less frankly later) a commercial transaction. The wooer, when he had a wife in view, stated as a matter of course that he proposed to "deal" in the matter ; it was quite recognised on both sides that love and courtship must depend on whether the "deal" came off satisfactorily. John Paston approached Sir Thomas Brews, through a third person, with a view to negotiate a marriage with his daughter Margery. She was willing, even eager, and while the matter was still uncertain she wrote him a letter on Valentine's Day, ad- dressing him as "Right reverent and worshipful and my right well-beloved Valentine," to tell him that it was impossible for her father to offer a larger dowry than he had already promised. "If that you could be content with that good, and my poor person, I would be the merriest maiden on ground." In his first letter — boldly written, he says, without her knowledge or license — he ad- dresses her simply as "Mistress," and assures her that "I am and will be yours and at your com- mandment in every wise during my life." A few weeks later, addressing him as "Right worship- ful master," she calls him "mine own sweet- heart," and ends up, as she frequently does, "your servant and bedeswoman." Some months later, a few weeks after marriage, she addresses her husband in the correct manner of the time as "Right reverent and worshipful husband," asking him to buy her a gown as she is weary of wearing her present one, it is so cumbrous. Five years later she refers to "all" the babies, and writes in haste: "Right reverent and worshipful Sir, in my most humble wise I recommend me
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unto you as lowly as I can," etc.,, though she adds in a postscript: "Please you to send for me for I think long since I lay in your arms." If we turn to another wife of the Paston family, a little earlier in the century, Margaret Paston, whose husband's name also was John, we find the same attitude even more distinctly expressed. She always addressed him in her most familiar letters, showing affectionate concern for his welfare, as "Right reverent and worshipful husband" or "Right worshipful master." It is seldom that he writes to her at all, but when he writes the superscription is simply "To my mistress Paston,," or "my cousin," with little greet- ing at either beginning or end. Once only, with unexampled effusion, he writes to her as "My own dear sovereign lady" and signs himself "Your true and trusting husband."*
If we turn to France the relation of the wife to her husband was the same, or even more defin- itely dependent, for he occupied the place of fa- ther to her as well as of husband and sovereign, in this respect carrying on a tradition of Roman Law. She was her husband's "wife and sub- ject"; she signed herself "Vostre humble obeis-
- We sec just the same formulas in the fifteenth century letters
of the Stonor family (Stonor Letters and Papers, Camden So- ciety), though in these letters we seem often to find a lighter and more playful touch than was common among the Pastons. I may refer here to Dr. Powell's learned and well written book (with which I was not acquainted when I wrote this chapter), English Domestic Relations 1 487-1653 (Columbia University Press).
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sante fille et amye." If also we turn to the Book of the Chevalier de la Tour-Landry in Anjou, written at the end of the fourteenth century, we find a picture of the relations of women to men in marriage comparable to that presented in the Paston Letters, though of a different order. This book was, as we know, written for the instruction of his daughters by a Knight who seems to have been a fairly average man of his time in his be- liefs, and in character, as he has been described, probably above it, "a man of the world, a Chris- tian,, a parent, and a gentleman." His book is full of interesting light on the customs and man- ners of his day, though it is mainly a picture of what the writer thought ought to be rather than what always was. Herein the Knight is saga- cious and moderate, much of his advice is ad- mirably sound for every age. He is less con- cerned with affirming the authority of husbands than with assuring the happiness and well-being of his dearly loved daughters. But he clearly finds this bound up with the recognition of the authority of the husband, and the demands he makes are fairly concordant with the relation- ships we see established among the Pastons. The Knight abounds in illustrations, from Lot's daughters down to his own time, for the example or the warning of his daughters. The ideal he holds up to them is strictly domestic and in a sense conventional. He puts the matter on practical rather than religious or legal grounds, and his fundamental assumption is "that no woman ought ever to thwart or refuse to obey the ordinance of her lord; that is, if she is either desirous to be mistress of his affections or to have peace and understanding in the house. For very evident reasons submission should begin on her part" One would like to know what duties the Knight inculcated on husbands, but the corresponding book he wrote for the guidance of his sons appears no longer to be extant.
On the whole, the fundamental traditions of our western world concerning the duties of hus- bands and wives are well summed up in what Pollock and Maitland term "that curious cabinet of antiquities, the marriage ritual of the English Church." Here we find that the husband prom- ises to love and cherish the wife, but she prom- ises not only to love and cherish but also to obey him, though, it may be noted, this point was not introduced into English marriage rites until the fourteenth century, when the wife promised to be "buxom" (which then meant submissive) and "bonair" (courteous and kind), while in some French and Spanish rites it has never been intro- duced at all. But we may take it to be generally implied. In the final address to the married couple the priest admonishes the bride that the husband is the head of the wife, and that her part is submission. In some more ancient and
84 LITTLE ESSAYS OF LOVE AND VIRTUE
local rituals this point was further driven home,, and on the delivery of the ring the bride knelt and kissed the bridegroom's right foot. In course of time this was modified, at all events in France, and she simply dropped the ring, so that her motion of stooping was regarded as for the pur- pose of picking it up. I note that change for it is significant of the ways in which we modify the traditions of the past, not quite abandoning them but pretending that they have other than the fundamental original motives. We see just the same thing in the use of the ring, which was in the first place a part of the bride-price, frequently accompanied by money, proof that the wife had been duly purchased. It was thus made easy to regard the ring as really a golden fetter. That idea soon became offensive,, and the new idea was originated that the ring was a pledge of affection ; thus, quite early in some countries, the husband also wore a wedding ring.
The marriage order illustrated by the Paston Letters and the Book of the Chevalier de la Tour-Landry before the Reformation, and the Anglican Book of Common Prayer afterwards, has never been definitely broken; it is a part of our living tradition to-day. But during recent centuries it has been overlaid by the growth of new fashions and sentiments which have softened its hard outlines to the view. It has been disguised, notably during the eighteenth century, by the
HUSBANDS AND WIVES 86
development of a new feeling of social equality, chiefly initiated in France, which, in an atmo- sphere of public intercourse largely regulated by women, made the ostentatious assertion of the husband's headship over his wife displeasing and even ridiculous. Then, especially in the nine- teenth century, there began another movement, chiefly initiated in England and carried further in America, which affected the foundations of the husband's position from beneath. This move- ment consisted in a great number of legislative measures and judicial pronouncements and ad- ministrative orders — each small in itself and never co-ordinated — which taken altogether have had a cumulative effect in immensely increasing the rights of the wife independently of her hus- band or even in opposition to him. Thus at the present time the husband's authority has been overlaid by new social conventions from above and undermined by new legal regulations from below.
Yet, it is important to realise, although the husband's domestic throne has been in appear- ance elegantly re-covered and in substance has become worm-eaten, it still stands and still retains its ancient shape and structure. There has never been a French Revolution in the home, and that Revolution itself, which modified society so extensively, scarcely modified the legal supremacy of the husband at all, even in France under the Code Napoleon and still less anywhere else. Interwoven with all the new developments, and however less obtrusive it may have become, the old tradition still continues among us. Since, also, the husband is, conventionally and in large measure really, the economic support of the home, — the work of the wife and even actual financial contributions brought by her not being supposed to affect that convention, — this state of things is held to be justified.
Thus when a man enters the home as a husband, to seat himself on the antique domestic throne and to play the part assigned to him of old, he is involuntarily, even unconsciously, fol- lowing an ancient tradition and taking his place in a procession of husbands which began long ages before he was born. It thus comes about that a man, even after he is married, and a hus- band are two different persons, so that his wife who mainly knows him as a husband may be un- able to form any just idea of what he is like as a man. As a husband he has stepped out of the path that belongs to him in the world, and taken on another part which has called out altogether different reactions, so he is sometimes a much more admirable person in one of these spheres — whichever it may be — than in the other.
We must not be surprised if the husband's posi- tion has sometimes developed those qualities which from the modern point of view are the less
HUSBANDS AND WIVES 87
admirable. In this respect the sovereign hus- band resembles the Sovereign State. The Sov- ereign State, as it has survived from Renais- sance days in our modern world, may be made up of admirable people, yet as a State they are forced into an attitude of helpless egoism which nowadays fails to commend itself to the outside world, and the tendency of scientific jurists today is to deal very critically with the old conception of the Sovereign State. It is so with the husband in the home. He was thrust by ancient tradition into a position of sovereignty which impelled him to play a part of helpless egoism. He was a celestial body in the home around which all the other inmates were revolving satellites. The hours of rising and retiring, the times of meals and their nature and substance, all the activities of the household — in which he himself takes little or no part — are still arranged primarily to suit his work, his play, and his tastes. This is an accepted matter of course, and not the result of any violent self-assertion on his part. It is equally an accepted matter of course that the wife should be constantly occupied in keeping this little solar system in easy harmonious movement, evolving from it, if she has the skill, the music of the spheres. She has no rec- ognised independent personality of her own, nor even any right to go away by herself for a little change and recreation. Any work of her own,
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play of her own,, tastes of her own, must be strictly subordinated, if not suppressed alto- gether.
In the old days, from which our domestic tra- ditions proceed, little hardship was thus inflicted on the wife. Her rights and privileges were, in- deed, far less than those of the modern woman, but for that very reason the home offered her a larger field; beneath the shelter of her husband the irresponsible wife might exert a maximum of influential activity with a minimum of rights and privileges of her own. To many men, even to-day, that state of things seems the realisation of an ideal.
Yet to women it seems increasingly less so, and of necessity since the cleavage between the position of woman in society and law, and the position of the wife in the sacramental bonds of wedlock, is daily becoming greater. To-day a woman, who possibly for ten years has been lead- ing her own life of independent work, earning her own living, choosing her own conditions in accordance with her own needs, and selecting her own periods of recreation in accordance with her own tastes,, whether or not this may have in- cluded the society of a man- friend — such a woman suddenly finds on marriage, and with- out any assertion of authority on her husband's part, that all the outward circumstances of her life are reversed and all her inner spontaneous movements arrested. There may be no signs of this on the surface of her conduct. She loves her husband too much to wish to hurt his feelings by explaining the situation, and she values domestic peace too much to risk friction by making unex- pected claims. But beneath the surface there is often a profound discontent, and even in women who thought they had gained an insight into life, a sense of disillusion. Everyone knows this who is privileged to catch a glimpse into the hearts of women — often women of most distinguished intelligence as well as women of quite ordinary nature — who leave a life of spontaneous activity in the world to enter the home.*
It is not to be supposed that in this presenta- tion of the situation in the home, as it is to-day visible to those who are privileged to see beneath the surface, any accusation is brought against
♦While this condition of things is sometimes to be found in the more distinguished minority and in well-to-do families, it is, of course, among the great labouring majority that it is most conspicuous. Mrs. Will Crooks, of Poplar, speaking to a newspaper reporter (Daily Chronicle, Vj Feb., 1919), truly re- marked : "At present the average married woman's working day is a flagrant contradiction of all trade-union ideals. The poor thing is slaving all the time! What she needs — what she longs for — is just a little break or change now and again, an oppor- tunity to get her mind off her work and its worries. If her husband's hours are reduced to eight, well that gives her a chance, doesn't it? The home and the children are, after all, as much his as hers. With his enlarged leisure he will now be able to take a fair share in home duties. I suggest that they take it turn and turn about — one night he goes out and she looks after the house and the children; the next night she goes out and he takes charge of things at home. She can sometimes go to the cinema, sometimes call on friends. Then, say once a week, they can both go out together, taking the children with them. That will be a little change and treat for everybody."
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the husband. He is no more guilty of an unrea- sonable conservatism than the wife is guilty of an unreasonable radicalism. Each of them is the outcome of a tradition. The point is that the events of the past hundred years have produced a discrepancy in the two lines of tradition, with a resultant lack of harmony, independent of the goodwill of either husband or wife.
Olive Schreiner, in her Woman and Labour, has eloquently set forth the tendency to parasit- ism which civilisation produces in women; they no longer exercise the arts and industries which were theirs in former ages, and so they become economically dependent on men, losing their en- ergies and aptitudes, and becoming like those dull parasitic animals which live as blood-suckers of their host. That picture, which was of course never true of all women, is now ceasing to be true of any but a negligible minority; it presents, moreover, a parasitism limited to the economic side of life. For if the wife has often been a lazy gold-sucking parasite on her husband in the world, the husband has yet oftener been a help- less service-absorbing parasite on his wife in the home. There is, that is to say, not only an eco- nomic parasitism with no adequate return for financial support, but a still more prevalent do- mestic parasitism, with an absorption of services for which no return would be adequate. There are many helpful husbands in the home, but there
HUSBANDS AND WIVES 91
are a larger number who are helpless and have never been trained to be anything else but help- less, even by their wives, who would often detest a rival in household work and management. The average husband enjoys the total effect of his home but is usually unable to contribute any of the details of work and organisation that make it enjoyable. He cannot keep it in order and cleanliness and regulated movement, he seldom knows how to buy the things that are needed for its upkeep, nor how to prepare and cook and present a decent meal; he cannot even attend to his own domestic needs. It is the wife's consola- tion that most husbands are not always at home. "In ministering to the wants of the family, the woman has reduced man to a state of con- siderable dependency on her in all domestic af- fairs, just as she is dependent on him for bodily protection. In the course of ages this has gone so far as to foster a peculiar helplessness on the part of the man, which manifests itself in a some- what childlike reliance of the husband on the wife. In fact it may be said that the husband is, to all intents and purposes, incapable of main- taining himself without the aid of a woman." This passage will probably seem to many readers to apply quite fairly well to men as they exist today in most of those lands # which we consider at the summit of our civilisation. Yet it was not written of civilisation, or of white men, but of the Bantu tribes of East Africa, complete Ne- groes who, while far from being among the lowest savages, belong to a culture which is only- just emerging from cannibalism, witchcraft, and customary bloodshed. So close a resemblance between the European husband and the Negro husband significantly suggests how remarkable has been the arrest of development in the husband's customary status during a vast period of the world's history.
It is in the considerable group of couples where the husband's work separates him but little from the home that the pressure on the wife is most severe, and without the relief and variety secured by his frequent absence. She has perhaps led a life of her own before marriage, she knows how to be economically independent ; now they occupy a small dwelling, they have, maybe, one or two small children, they can only afford one helper in the work or none at all, and in this busy little hive the husband and wife are constantly tumbling over each other. It is small wonder if the wife feels a deep discontent beneath her willing ministrations and misses the devotion of the lover in the perpetual claims of the husband.
But the difficulty is not settled if she persuades him to take a room outside. He is devoted to his wife and his home, with good reason, for the wife makes the home and he is incapable of making a home. His new domestic arrangements sink into careless and sordid disorder, and he is conscious of profound discomfort. His wife soon realises that it is a choice between his return to the home and complete separation. Most wives never get even as far as this attempt at solution of the difficulty and hide their secret discontent.
This is the situation which to-day is becoming intensified and extended on a vast scale. The habit and the taste for freedom, adventure, and economic independence is becoming generated among millions of women who once meekly trod the ancient beaten paths, and we must not be so foolish as to suppose that they can suddenly renounce those habits and tastes at the threshold of marriage. Moreover, it is becoming clear to men and to women alike, and for the first time, that the world can be remoulded, and that the claims for better conditions of work, for a higher standard of life, and for the attainment of leisure, which previously had only feebly been put forward, may now be asserted drastically. We see therefore to-day a great revolutionary movement, mainly on the part of men in the world of Labour, and we see a corresponding movement, however less ostentatious, mainly on the part of women, in the world of the Home.
It may seem to some that this new movement of upheaval in the sphere of the Home is merely destructive. Timid souls have felt the like in every period of transition, and with as little reason. Just as we realise that the movement now in progress in the world of Labour for a higher standard of life and for, as it has been termed, a larger "leisure-ration," represents a wholesome revolt against the crushing conditions of prolonged monotonous work — the most deadening of all work — and a real advance towards those ideals of democracy which are still so remote, so it is with the movement in the Home. That also is the claim for a new and fairer allotment of responsibility, of larger opportunities for free- dom and leisure. If in the home the husband is still to be regarded as the capitalist and the wife as the labourer, then at all events it has to be recognised that he owes her not only the satis- faction of her physical needs of food and shelter and clothing, but the opportunity to satisfy the personal spontaneous claims of her own indi- vidual nature. Just as the readjustment of Labour is really only an approach to the long recognised ideals of Democracy, so the read- justment of the Home, far from being subversive or revolutionary, is merely an approximation to the long recognised ideals of marriage.
How in practice, one may finally ask, is this readjustment of the home likely to be carried out?
In the first place we are justified in believing
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that in the future home men will no longer be so helpless, so domestically parasitiq, as in the past. This change is indeed already coming about. It is an inestimable benefit throughout life for a man to have been forcibly lifted out of the rou- tine comforts and feminine services of the old- fashioned home and to be thrown into an alien and solitary environment, face to face with Nature and the essential domestic human needs (in my own case I owe an inestimable debt to the chance that thus flung me into the Australian bush in early life), and one may note that the Great War has had, directly and indirectly, a re- markable influence in this direction, for it not only compelled women to exercise many enlarg- ing and fortifying functions commonly counted as pertaining to men, it also compelled men, deprived of accustomed feminine services, to de- velop a new independent ability for organising domesticity, and that ability, even though it is not permanently exercised in rendering domestic services, must yet always make clear the nature of domestic problems and tend to prevent the demand for unnecessary domestic services.
But there is another quite different and more general line along which we may expect this problem to be largely solved. That is by the simplification and organisation of domestic life. If that process were carried to the full extent that is now becoming possible a large part of the
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problem before us would be at once solved. A great promise for the future of domestic life is held out by the growing adoption of birth-con- trol, by which the wife and mother is relieved from that burden of unduly frequent and un- wanted maternity which in the past so often crushed her vitality and destroyed her freshness. But many minor agencies are helpful. To sup- ply heat, light,, and motive power even to small households, to replace the wasteful, extravagant, and often inefficient home-cookery by meals cooked outside, as well as to facilitate the grow- ing social habit of taking meals in spacious public restaurants, under more attractive, economical, and wholesome conditions than can usually be secured within the narrow confines of the home, to contract with specially trained workers from outside for all those routines of domestic drudgery which are often so inefficiently and laboriously carried on by the household-worker, whether mistress or servant, and to seek perpetu- ally by new devices to simplify, which often means to beautify, all the everyday processes of life — to effect this in any comprehensive degree is to transform the home from the intolerable burden it is sometimes felt to be into a possible haven of peace and joy.* The trtffible in the past,
- This aspect of the future of domesticity was often set forth
by Mrs. Havelock Ellis, The New Horizon in Love and Life, 1 921.
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and even to-day, has been, not in any difficulty in providing the facilities but in prevailing people to adopt them. Thus in England, even under the stress of the Great War, there was among the working population a considerable disinclination —founded on stupid conservatism and a mean- ingless pride — to take advantage of National Kitchens and National Restaurants, notwith- standing the superiority of the meals in quality, cheapness, and convenience, to the workers' home meals,, so that many of these establishments, even while still fostered by the Government, had speedily to close their doors. Ancient traditions, that have now become not only empty but mis- chievous, in these matters still fetter the wife even more than the husband. We cannot regu- late even the material side of life without culti- vating that intelligence in the development of which civilisation so largely consists.
Intelligence, and even something more than intelligence, is needed along the third line of progress towards the modernised home. Simpli- fication and organisation can effect nothing in the desired transformation if they merely end in themselves. They are only helpful in so far as they economise energy, offer a more ample leisure, and extend the opportunities for that play of the intellect, that liberation of the emo- tions with accompanying discipline of the primi- tive instincts, which are needed not only for the
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development of civilisation in general, but in particular of the home. Domineering egotism, the assertion of greedy possessive rights, are out of place in the modern home. They are just as mischievous when exhibited by the wife as by the husband. We have seen, as we look back, the futility in the end of the ancient structure of the home, however reasonable it was at the be- ginning, under our different modern social con- ditions, and for women to attempt nowadays to reintroduce the same structure, merely reversed, would be not only mischievous but silly. That spirit of narrow exclusiveness and self centred egoism— even if it were sometimes an egoisme a deux — evoked, half a century ago, the scathing sarcasm of James Hinton, who never wearied of denouncing the "virtuous and happy homes ,, which he saw as "floating blotches of verdure on a sea of filth." Such outbursts seem extrava- gant, but they were the extravagance of an ideal- ist at the vision which, as a physician in touch with realities, he had seen beneath the surface of the home.
It is well to insist on the organisation of the mechanical and material side of life. Some lead- ers of women movements feel this so strongly that they insist on nothing else. In old days it was conventionally supposed that women's sphere was that of the feelings ; the result has been that women now often take ostentatious pleasure in
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washing their hands ,of feelings and accusing men of "sentiment/' But that wrongly debased word stands for the whole superstructure of life on the basis of material organisation, for all the finer and higher parts of our nature, for the greater part of civilisation.* The elaboration of the mechanical side of life by itself may merely serve to speed up the pace of life instead of ex- panding leisure., to pile up the weary burden of luxury, and still further to dissipate the energy of life in petty or frivolous channels.f To bring order into the region of soulless machinery running at random, to raise the super-structure of a genuinely human civilisation, is not a task which either men or women can afford to fling contemptuously to the opposite sex. It concerns them both equally and can only be carried out by both equally, working side by side in the most intimate spirit of mutual comprehension, con- fiding trust, and the goodwill to conquer the
♦"The growth of the sentiments," remarks an influential psychologist of our own time (W. McDougall, Social Psychology, p. 160), "is of the utmost importance for the character and con- duct of individuals and of societies ; it is the organisation of the affective and conative life. In the absence of sentiments our emotional life would be a mere chaos, without order, consistency, or continuity of any kind; and all our social relations and con- duct, being based on the emotions and their impulses would be correspondingly chaotic, unpredictable, and unstable. . . . Again, our judgments of value and of merit are rooted in our senti- ments ; and our moral principles have the same source, for they are formed by our judgments of moral value."
tThe destructive effects of the mechanisation of modern life have lately been admirably set forth, and with much precise illustration, by Dr. Austin Freeman, Social Decay and Regenera- tion.
100 LITTLE ESSAYS OP LOVE AND VIRTUE
demon of jealousy, that dragon which slays love under the pretence of keeping it alive.
This task, it may finally be added, is always an adventure. However well organised the foundations of life may be, life must always be full of risks. We may smile, therefore, when it is remarked that the future developments of the home are risky. Birds in the air and fishes in the sea, quite as much as our own ancestors on the earth, have always found life full of risks. It was the greatest risk of all when they insisted on continuing on the old outworn ways and so became extinct. If the home is an experiment and a risky experiment, one can only say that life is always like that. We have to see to it that in this central experiment, on which our happiness so largely depends, all our finest qualities are mobilised. Even the smallest homes under the new conditions cannot be built to last with small minds and small hearts. Indeed the discipline of the home demands not only the best intellectual qualities that are available, but often involves — and in men as well as in women — a spiritual training fit to make sweeter and more generous saints than any cloister. The greater the free- dom, the more complete the equality of husband and wife, the greater the possibilities of discipline and development. In view of the rigidities and injustices of the law, many couples nowadays dispense with legal marriage, and form their own
HUSBANDS AND WIVES 101
private contract; that method has sometimes proved more favourable to the fidelity and per- manence of love than external compulsion; it assists the husband to remain the lover, and it is often the lover more than the husband that the modern woman needs; but it has always to be remembered that in the present condition of law and social opinion a slur is cast on the children of such unions. No doubt, however, marriage and the home will undergo modifications, which will tend to make these ancient institutions a little more flexible and to permit a greater degree of variation to meet special circumstances. We can occupy ourselves with no more essential task, whether as regards ourselves or the race, than to make more beautiful the House of Life for the dwelling of Love.
- Hon. C. Dundas, Journal of the Anthropological Institute, Vol. 45, 1915, P. 3Q2.