Open main menu

Page:Earth-Hunger and Other Essays.djvu/290

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
264
EARTH HUNGER AND OTHER ESSAYS

came to be considered a "toy" she ceased to be a drudge; when she came to be esteemed as a woman she lost value as a slave whose labor could be productively employed. Then, however, she began to get a share in the use and enjoyment of wealth, if not in the legal title to it. Then, too, her husband began to want property, not as a share in a common stock owned with his comrades, but as a possession which he could not only consume and enjoy, but dispose of and give away to the wife and children who possessed a special and lasting claim on him. Of course this distinction between participating in a momentary enjoyment of a common stock, and "having and holding" things, so as to dispose of them, is of immeasurable importance in the theory of property. What, then, is the authority for us, as regards our institutions, of any facts about property as it existed where "having and holding" was unknown? But it is plain that the development of the family was what drew in its train an imperative necessity for goods to have and to hold and to dispose of. A permanent family bond led to a permanent property title.

The most reasonable explanation of the different forms of marriage which has been proposed, due allowance being made for anomalous cases, is that they have been due to variations in the conditions of the struggle for existence. Polyandry has existed where the conditions of life have been hard, and the cost of offspring great. Polygamy has not always been expensive; where women have been drudges they have not, of course, been costly. The decline of polygamy, however, in connection with the advance of luxury, has been distinctly traceable to considerations of expense, that is to say, of property. The development and perfection of the monogamic fam-