|The Intermediate Sex|
|The Edward Carpenter Archive|
by Simon Dawson
IN its various forms, so far as we know them, Love seems always to have a deep significance and a most practical importance to us little mortals. In one form, as the mere semi-conscious Sex-love, which runs through creation and is common to the lowest animals and plants, it appears as a kind of organic basis for the unity of all creatures; in another, as the love of the mother for her offspring - which may also be termed a passion - it seems to pledge itself to the care and guardianship of the future race; in another, as the marriage of man and woman, it becomes the very foundation of human society. And so we can hardly believe that in its homogenic form, with which we are here concerned, it has not also a deep significance, and social uses and functions which will become clearer to us, the more we study it.
To some perhaps it may appear a little strained to place this last-mentioned form of attachment on a level of importance with the others, and such persons may be inclined to deny to the homogenic [Footnote 1] or homosexual love that intense, that penetrating, and at times overmastering character which would entitle it to rank as a great human passion. But in truth this view, when entertained, arises from a want of acquaintance with the actual facts; and it may not be amiss here, in the briefest possible way, to indicate what the world's History, Literature, and Art has to say to us on this aspect of the subject, before going on to further considerations. Certainly, if the confronting of danger and the endurance of pain and distress for the sake of the loved one, if sacrifice, unswerving devotion and life-long union, constitute proofs of the reality and intensity (and let us say healthiness) of an affection, then these proofs have been given in numberless cases of such attachment, not only as existing between men, but as between women, since the world began. The records of chivalric love, the feats of enamoured knights for their ladies' sakes, the stories of Hero and Leander, etc., are easily paralleled, if not surpassed, by the stories of the Greek comrades-in-arms and tyrannicides - of Cratinus and Aristodemus, who offered themselves together as a voluntary sacrifice for the purification of Athens; of Chariton and Melanippus, ["Athenæus" xiii., ch. 78.] who attempted to assassinate Phalaris, the tyrant of Agrigentum; or of Cleomachus who in like manner, in a battle between the Chalkidians and Eretrians, being entreated to charge the latter,
"asked the youth he loved, who was standing by, whether he would be a spectator of the fight; and when he said he would, and affectionately kissed Cleomachus and put his helmet on his head, Cleomachus with a proud joy placed himself in the front of the bravest of the Thessalians and charged the enemy's cavalry with such impetuosity that he threw them into disorder and routed them; and the Eretrian cavalry fleeing in consequence, the Chalkidians won a splendid victory."
[See Plutarch's "Eroticus," xvii.]
The annals of all nations contain similar records - though probably among none has the ideal of this love been quite so enthusiastic and heroic as among the post-Homeric Greeks. It is well known that among the Polynesian Islanders - for the most part a very gentle and affectionate people, probably inheriting the traditions of a higher culture than they now possess - the most romantic male friendships are (or were) in vogue. Says Herman Melville in "Omoo" (chap. 39),
"The really curious way in which all Polynesians are in the habit of making bosom friends is deserving of remark. . . . In the annals of the island (Tahiti) are examples of extravagant friendships, unsurpassed by the story of Damon and Pythias - in truth much more wonderful; for notwithstanding the devotion - even of life in some cases - to which they led, they were frequently entertained at first sight for some stranger from another island."
So thoroughly recognised indeed were these unions that Melville explains (in "Typee," chap. 18) that if two men of hostile tribes or islands became thus pledged to each other, then each could pass through the enemy's territory without fear of molestation or injury; and the passionate nature of these attachments is indicated by the following passage from "Omoo":-
"Though little inclined to jealousy in ordinary love-matters, the Tahitian will hear of no rivals in his friendship."
Website Editor's note - These examples of role-model couples in classical literature and primitive culture can be found in in many of Carpenter's books. See Iolaus for a comprehensive anthology of Friendship literature, and Intermediate Types among Primitive Folk for a more detailed discussion of the contributions made by such friendships (and the homosexual nature) to society and religion.
Even among savage races lower down than these in the scale of evolution, and who are generally accused of being governed in their love-relations only by the most animal desires, we find a genuine sentiment of comradeship beginning to assert itself - as among the Balonda [Footnote 2] and other African tribes, where regular ceremonies of the betrothal of comrades take place, by the transfusion of a few drops of blood into each other's drinking-bowls, by the exchange of names, [Footnote 3] and the mutual gift of their most precious possessions; but unfortunately, owing to the obtuseness of current European opinion on this subject, these and other such customs have been but little investigated and have by no means received the attention that they ought.
When we turn to the poetic and literary utterances of the more civilised nations on this subject we cannot but be struck by the range and intensity of the emotions expressed - from the beautiful threnody of David over his friend whose love was passing the love of women, through the vast panorama of the Homeric Iliad, of which the heroic friendship of Achilles and his dear Patroclus forms really the basic theme, down to the works of the great Greek age - the splendid odes of Pindar burning with clear fire of passion, the lofty elegies of Theognis, full of wise precepts to his beloved Kurnus, the sweet pastorals of Theocritus, the passionate lyrics of Sappho, or the more sensual raptures of Anacreon. Some of the dramas of AEschylus and Sophocles - as the "Myrmidones" of the former and the "Lovers of Achilles" of the latter - appear to have had this subject for their motive; [Footnote 4] and many of the prose-poem dialogues of Plato were certainly inspired by it.
Then coming to the literature of the Roman age, whose materialistic spirit could only with difficulty seize the finer inspiration of the homogenic love, and which in such writers as Catullus and Martial could only for the most part give expression to its grosser side, we still find in Vergil a noble and notable instance. His second Eclogue bears the marks of a genuine passion; and, according to some, [Footnote 5] he there under the name of Alexis immortalises his own love for the youthful Alexander. Nor is it possible to pass over in this connection the great mass of Persian literature, and the poets Sadi, Hafiz, Jami, and many others, whose names and works are for all time, and whose marvellous love-songs ("Bitter and sweet is the parting kiss on the lips of a friend") are to a large extent, if not mostly, addressed to those of their own sex. [Footnote 6]
Of the mediæval period in Europe we have of course but few literary monuments. Towards its close we come upon the interesting story of Amis and Amile (thirteenth century), unearthed by Mr. W. Pater from the Bibliotheca Elzeviriana. [W. Pater's "Renaissance," pp. 8-16.] Though there is historic evidence of the prevalence of the passion we may say of this period that its ideal was undoubtedly rather the chivalric love than the love of comrades. But with the Renaissance in Italy and the Elizabethan period in England the latter once more comes to evidence in a burst of poetic utterance, [Footnote 7] which culminates perhaps in the magnificent sonnets of Michel Angelo and of Shakespeare; of Michel Angelo whose pure beauty of expression lifts the enthusiasm into the highest region as the direct perception of the divine in mortal form; [Footnote 8] and of Shakespeare - whose passionate words and amorous spirituality of friendship have for long enough been a perplexity to hide-bound commentators. Thence through minor writers (not overlooking Winckelmann [Footnote 9] in Germany) we pass to quite modern times - in which, notwithstanding the fact that the passion has been much misunderstood and misinterpreted, two names stand conspicuously forth - those of Tennyson, whose "In Memoriam" is perhaps his finest work, and of Walt Whitman, the enthusiasm of whose poems on Comradeship is only paralleled by the devotedness of his labours for his wounded brothers in the American Civil War.
It will be noticed that here we have some of the very greatest names in all literature concerned; and that their utterances on this subject equal if they do not surpass, in beauty, intensity and humanity of sentiment, whatever has been written in praise of the other more ordinarily recognised love.
And when again we turn to the records of Art, and compare the way in which man's sense of Love and Beauty has expressed itself in the portrayal of the male form and the female form respectively, we find exactly the same thing. The whole vista of Greek statuary shows the male passion of beauty in high degree. Yet though the statues of men and youths (by men sculptors) preponderate probably considerably, both in actual number and in devotedness of execution, over the statues of female figures, it is, as J. A. Symonds says in his "Life of Michel Angelo," remarkable that in all the range of the former there are hardly two or three that show a base or licentious expression, such as is not so very uncommon in the female statues. Knowing as we do the strength of the male physical passion in the life of the Greeks, this one fact speaks strongly for the sense of proportion which must have characterised this passion - at any rate in the most productive age of their Art.
In the case of Michel Angelo we have an artist who with brush and chisel portrayed literally thousands of human forms; but with this peculiarity, that while scores and scores of his male figures are obviously suffused and inspired by a romantic sentiment, there is hardly one of his female figures that is so, - the latter being mostly representative of woman in her part as mother, or sufferer, or prophetess or poetess, or in old age, or in any aspect of strength or tenderness, except that which associates itself especially with romantic love. Yet the cleanliness and dignity of Michel Angelo's male figures are incontestable, and bear striking witness to that nobility of the sentiment in him, which we have already seen illustrated in his sonnets. [Footnote 10]
This brief sketch may suffice to give the reader some idea of the place and position in the world of the particular sentiment which we are discussing; nor can it fail to impress him - if any reference is made to the authorities quoted - with a sense of the dignity and solidity of the sentiment, at any rate as handled by some of the world's greatest men. At the same time it would be affectation to ignore the fact that side by side with this view of the subject there has been another current of opinion leading people - especially in quite modern times in Europe - to look upon attachments of the kind in question with much suspicion and disfavour. [Footnote 11] And it may be necessary here to say a few words on this latter view.
The origin of it is not far to seek. Those who have no great gift themselves for this kind of friendship - who are not in the inner circle of it, so to speak, and do not understand or appreciate its deep emotional and romantic character, have nevertheless heard of certain corruptions and excesses; for these latter leap to publicity. They have heard of the debaucheries of a Nero or a Tiberius; they have noted the scandals of the Police Courts; they have had some experience perhaps of abuses which may be found in Public Schools or Barracks; and they (not unnaturally) infer that these things, these excesses and sensualities, are the motive of comrade-attachments, and the object for which they exist; nor do they easily recognise any more profound and intimate bond. To such people physical intimacies of any kind (at any rate between males) seem inexcusable. There is no distinction in their minds between the simplest or most naive expression of feeling and the gravest abuse of human rights and decency; there is no distinction between a genuine heart-attachment and a mere carnal curiosity. They see certain evils that occur or have occurred, and they think, perfectly candidly, that any measures are justifiable to prevent such things recurring. But they do not see the interior love-feeling which when it exists does legitimately demand some expression. Such folk, in fact, not having the key in themselves to the real situation, hastily assume that the homogenic attachment has no other motive than, or is simply a veil and a cover for, sensuality - and suspect or condemn it accordingly.
Thus arises the curious discrepancy of people's views on this important subject - a discrepancy depending on the side from which they approach it.
On the one hand we have anathemas and execrations, on the other we have the lofty enthusiasm of a man like Plato - one of the leaders of the world's thought for all time - who puts, for example, into the mouth of Phædrus (in the "Symposium") such a passage as this:
"I know not any greater blessing to a young man beginning life than a virtuous lover, or to the lover than a beloved youth. For the principle which ought to be the guide of men who would nobly live - that principle, I say, neither kindred, nor honour, nor wealth, nor any other motive is able to implant so well as love. Of what am I speaking? Of the sense of honour and dishonour, without which neither states nor individuals ever do any good or great work. . . . For what lover would not choose rather to be seen of all mankind than by his beloved, either when abandoning his post or throwing away his arms? He would be ready to die a thousand deaths rather than endure this. Or who would desert his beloved or fail him in the hour of danger? The veriest coward would become an inspired hero, equal to the bravest, at such a time; love would inspire him. That courage which, as Homer says, the god breathes into the soul of heroes, love of his own nature inspires into the lover."
[Jowett's "Plato," 2nd ed., vol. ii., p. 30.]
Or again in the "Phædrus" Plato makes Socrates say:
"In like manner the followers of Apollo and of every other god, walking in the ways of their god, seek a love who is to be like their god, and when they have found him, they themselves imitate their god, and persuade their love to do the same, and bring him into harmony with the form and ways of the god as far as they can; for they have no feelings of envy or jealousy towards their beloved, but they do their utmost to create in him the greatest likeness of themselves and the god whom they honour. Thus fair and blissful to the beloved when he is taken, is the desire of the inspired lover, and the initiation of which I speak into the mysteries of true love, if their purpose is effected."
[Jowett, vol. ii., p. 130.]
With these few preliminary remarks we may pass on to consider some recent scientific investigations of the matter in hand. In late times - that is, during the last thirty years or so - a group of scientific and capable men chiefly in Germany, France, and Italy, have made a special and more or less impartial study of it. Among these may be mentioned Dr. Albert Moll of Berlin; R. von Krafft-Ebing, one of the leading medical authorities of Vienna, whose book on "Sexual Psychopathy" has passed into its tenth edition; Dr. Paul Moreau ("Des Aberrations du sens génésique"); Cesare Lombroso, the author of various works on Anthropology; M. A. Raffalovich ("Uranisme et unisexualité"); Auguste Forel ("Die Sexuelle Frage"); Mantegazza; K. H. Ulrichs; and last but not least, Dr. Havelock Ellis, of whose great work on the Psychology of Sex the second volume is dedicated to the subject of "Sexual Inversion." [Footnote 12] The result of these investigations has been that a very altered complexion has been given to the subject. For whereas at first it was easily assumed that the phenomena were of morbid character, and that the leaning of the love-sentiment towards one of the same sex was always associated with degeneracy or disease, it is very noticeable that step by step with the accumulation of reliable information this assumption has been abandoned. The point of view has changed; and the change has been most marked in the latest authors, such as A. Moll and Havelock Ellis.
It is not possible here to go into anything like a detailed account of the works of these various authors, their theories, and the immense number of interesting cases and observations which they have contributed; but some of the general conclusions which flow from their researches may be pointed out. In the first place their labours have established the fact, known hitherto only to individuals, that sexual inversion - that is the leaning of desire to one of the same sex - is in a vast number of cases quite instinctive and congenital, mentally and physically, and therefore twined in the very roots of individual life and practically ineradicable. To Men or Women thus affected with an innate homosexual bias, Ulrichs gave the name of Urning, [Footnote 13] since pretty widely accepted by scientists. Some details with regard to "Urnings," I have given in the preceding paper, but it should be said here that too much emphasis cannot be laid on the distinction between these born lovers of their own kind, and that class of persons, with whom they are so often confused, who out of mere carnal curiosity or extravagance of desire, or from the dearth of opportunities for a more normal satisfaction (as in schools, barracks, etc.) adopt some homosexual practices. It is the latter class who become chiefly prominent in the public eye, and who excite, naturally enough, public reprobation. In their case the attraction is felt, by themselves and all concerned, to be merely sensual and morbid. In the case of the others, however, the feeling is, as said, so deeply rooted and twined with the mental and emotional life that the person concerned has difficulty in imagining himself affected otherwise than he is; and to him at least his love appears healthy and natural, and indeed a necessary part of his individuality.
In the second place it has become clear that the number of individuals affected with "sexual inversion" in some degree or other is very great - much greater than is generally supposed to be the case. It is however very difficult or perhaps impossible to arrive at satisfactory figures on the subject, [Footnote 14] for the simple reasons that the proportions vary so greatly among different peoples and even in different sections of society and in different localities, and because of course there are all possible grades of sexual inversion to deal with, from that in which the instinct is quite exclusively directed towards the same sex, to the other extreme in which it is normally towards the opposite sex but capable, occasionally and under exceptional attractions, of inversion towards its own - this last condition being probably among some peoples very widespread, if not universal.
In the third place, by the tabulation and comparison of a great number of cases and "confessions," it has become pretty well established that the individuals affected with inversion in marked degree do not after all differ from the rest of mankind, or womankind, in any other physical or mental particular which can be distinctly indicated. [Footnote 15] No congenital association with any particular physical conformation or malformation has yet been discovered; nor with any distinct disease of body or mind. Nor does it appear that persons of this class are usually of a gross or specially low type, but if anything rather the opposite - being mostly of refined, sensitive nature and including, as Krafft-Ebing points out ("Psychopathia Sexualis," seventh ed., p. 227) a great number "highly gifted in the fine arts, especially music and poetry"; and, as Mantegazza says, "Gli amori degli uomini." many persons of high literary and social distinction. It is true that Krafft-Ebing insists on the generally strong sexual equipment of this class of persons (among men), but he hastens to say that their emotional love is also "enthusiastic and exalted," ["Psychopathia Sexualis," 7th ed., p. 227.] and that, while bodily congress is desired, the special act with which they are vulgarly credited is in most cases repugnant to them. [Footnote 16]
The only distinct characteristic which the scientific writers claim to have established is a marked tendency to nervous development in the subject, not infrequently associated with nervous maladies; but - as I shall presently have occasion to show - there is reason to think that the validity even of this characteristic has been exaggerated.
Taking the general case of men with a marked exclusive preference for persons of their own sex, Krafft-Ebing says ("P.S." p. 256):
"The sexual life of these Homosexuals is mutatis mutandis just the same as in the case of normal sex-love . . . The Urning loves, deifies his male beloved one, exactly as the woman- wooing man does his beloved. For him, he is capable of the greatest sacrifice, experiences the torments of unhappy, often unrequited, love, of faithlessness on his beloved's part, of jealousy, and so forth. His attention is enchained only by the male form . . . The sight of feminine charms is indifferent to him, if not repugnant."
Then he goes on to say that many such men, notwithstanding their actual aversion to intercourse with the female, do ultimately marry - either from ethical, as sometimes happens, or from social considerations. But very remarkable - as illustrating the depth and tenacity of the homogenic instinct [Footnote 17] - and pathetic too, are the records that he gives of these cases; for in many of them a real friendship and regard between the married pair was still of no avail to overcome the distaste on the part of one to sexual intercourse with the other, or to prevent the experience of actual physical distress after such intercourse, or to check the continual flow of affection to some third person of the same sex; and thus unwillingly, so to speak, this bias remained a cause of suffering to the end.
I have said that at the outset it was assumed that the Homogenic emotion was morbid in itself, and probably always associated with distinct disease, either physical or mental, but that the progress of the inquiry has served more and more to dissipate this view; and that it is noticeable that the latest of the purely scientific authorities are the least disposed to insist upon the theory of morbidity. It is true that Krafft-Ebing clings to the opinion that there is generally some neurosis, or degeneration of a nerve-centre, or inherited tendency in that direction, associated with the instinct; see p. 190 (seventh ed.), also p. 227, where he speaks, rather vaguely, of "an hereditary neuropathic or psychopathic tendency" - neuro(psycho)pathische Belastung. But it is an obvious criticism on this that there are few people in modern life, perhaps none, who could be pronounced absolutely free from such a Belastung! And whether the Dorian Greeks or the Polynesian Islanders or the Albanian mountaineers, or any of the other notably hardy races among whom this affection has been developed, were particularly troubled by nervous degeneration we may well doubt!
As to Moll, though he speaks ["Conträre Sexualempfindung," 2nd ed., p. 269.] of the instinct as morbid (feeling perhaps in duty bound to do so), it is very noticeable that he abandons the ground of its association with other morbid symptoms - as this association, he says, is by no means always to be observed; and is fain to rest his judgment on the dictum that the mere failure of the sexual instinct to propagate the species is itself pathological - a dictum which in its turn obviously springs from that pre-judgment of scientists that generation is the sole object of love, [Footnote 18] and which if pressed would involve the good doctor in awkward dilemmas, as for instance that every worker-bee is a pathological specimen.
Finally we find that Havelock Ellis, one of the latest writers of weight on this subject, in chapter vi. of his "Sexual Inversion," combats the idea that this temperament is necessarily morbid; and suggests that the tendency should rather be called an anomaly than a disease. He says
"Thus in sexual inversion we have what may fairly be called a `sport' or variation, one of those organic aberrations which we see throughout living nature in plants and in animals."
[(2nd edition, p. 186) Pub.: F. A. Davis, Philadelphia, 1901.]
With regard to the nerve-degeneration theory, while it may be allowed that sexual inversion is not uncommonly found in connection with the specially nervous temperament, it must be remembered that its occasional association with nervous troubles or disease is quite another matter; since such troubles ought perhaps to be looked upon as the results rather than the causes of the inversion. It is difficult of course for outsiders not personally experienced in the matter to realise the great strain and tension of nerves under which those persons grow up from boyhood to manhood - or from girl to womanhood - who find their deepest and strongest instincts under the ban of the society around them; who before they clearly understand the drift of their own natures discover that they are somehow cut off from the sympathy and understanding of those nearest to them; and who know that they can never give expression to their tenderest yearnings of affection without exposing themselves to the possible charge of actions stigmatised as odious crimes. [Footnote 20] That such a strain, acting on one who is perhaps already of a nervous temperament, should tend to cause nervous prostration or even mental disturbance is of course obvious; and if such disturbances are really found to be commoner among homogenic lovers than among ordinary folk we have in these social causes probably a sufficient explanation of the fact.
Then again in this connexion it must never be forgotten that the medico-scientific enquirer is bound on the whole to meet with those cases that are of a morbid character, rather than with those that are healthy in their manifestation, since indeed it is the former that he lays himself out for. And since the field of his research is usually a great modern city, there is little wonder if disease colours his conclusions. In the case of Dr. Moll, who carried out his researches largely under the guidance of the Berlin police (whose acquaintance with the subject would naturally be limited to its least satisfactory sides), the only marvel is that his verdict is so markedly favourable as it is. As Krafft-Ebing says in his own preface,
"It is the sad privilege of Medicine, and especially of Psychiatry, to look always on the reverse side of life, on the weakness and wretchedness of man."
Having regard then to the direction in which science has been steadily moving in this matter, it is not difficult to see that the epithet "morbid" will probably before long be abandoned as descriptive of the homogenic bias - that is, of the general sentiment of love towards a person of the same sex. That there are excesses of the passion - cases, as in ordinary sex-love, where mere physical desire becomes a mania - we may freely admit; but as it would be unfair to judge of the purity of marriage by the evidence of the Divorce courts, so it would be monstrous to measure the truth and beauty of the attachment in question by those instances which stand most prominently perhaps in the eye of the modern public; and after all deductions there remains, we contend, the vast body of cases in which the manifestation of the instinct has on the whole the character of normality and healthfulness - sufficiently so in fact to constitute this a distinct variety of the sexual passion. The question, of course, not being whether the instinct is capable of morbid and extravagant manifestation - for that can easily be proved of any instinct - but whether it is capable of a healthy and sane expression. And this, we think, it has abundantly shown itself to be.
Anyhow the work that Science has practically done has been to destroy the dogmatic attitude of the former current opinion from which it itself started, and to leave the whole subject freed from a great deal of misunderstanding, and much more open than before. If on the one hand its results have been chiefly of a negative character, and it admits that it does not understand the exact place and foundation of this attachment; on the other hand since it recognises the deeply beneficial influences of an intimate love-relation of the usual kind on those concerned, it also allows that there are some persons for whom these necessary reactions can only come from one of the same sex as themselves.
"Successful love," says Moll (p. 125) "exercises a helpful influence on the Urning. His mental and bodily condition improves, and capacity of work increases - just as it happens in the case of a normal youth with his love."
And further on (p. 173) in a letter from a man of this kind occur these words:-
"The passion is I suppose so powerful, just because one looks for everything in the loved man - Love, Friendship, Ideal, and Sense-satisfaction. . . . As it is at present I suffer the agonies of a deep unresponded passion, which wake me like a nightmare from sleep. And I am conscious of physical pain in the region of the heart."
In such cases the love, in some degree physically expressed, of another person of the same sex, is allowed to be as much a necessity and a condition of healthy life and activity, as in more ordinary cases is the love of a person of the opposite sex.
If then the physical element which is sometimes present in the love of which we are speaking is a difficulty and a stumbling-block, it must be allowed that it is a difficulty that Nature confronts us with, and which cannot be disposed of by mere anathema and execration. The only theory - from K. H. Ulrichs to Havelock Ellis - which has at all held its ground in this matter, is that in congenital cases of sex-inversion there is a mixture of male and female elements in the same person; so that for instance in the same embryo the emotional and nervous regions may develop along feminine lines while the outer body and functions may determine themselves as distinctly masculine, or vice versa. Such cross-development may take place obviously in a great variety of ways, and thus possibly explain the remarkable varieties of the Uranian temperament; but in all such cases, strange as may be the problems thus arising, these problems are of Nature's own producing and can hardly be laid to the door of the individual who has literally to bear their cross. For such individuals expressions of feeling become natural, which to others seem out of place and uncalled for; and not only natural, but needful and inevitable. To deny to such people all expression of their emotion, is probably in the end to cause it to burst forth with the greater violence; and it may be suggested that our British code of manners, by forbidding the lighter marks of affection between youths and men, acts just contrary to its own purpose, and drives intimacies down into less open and unexceptionable channels.
With regard to this physical element it must also be remembered that since the homogenic love - whether between man and man, or between woman and woman - can from the nature of the case never find expression on the physical side so freely and completely as is the case with the ordinary love, it must tend rather more than the latter to run along emotional channels, and to find its vent in sympathies of social life and companionship. If one studies carefully the expression of the Greek statues (see p. 9, supra) and the lesson of the Greek literature, one sees clearly that the ideal of Greek life was a very continent one: the trained male, the athlete, the man temperate and restrained, even chaste, for the sake of bettering his powers. It was round this conception that the Greeks kindled their finer emotions. And so of their love: a base and licentious indulgence was not in line with it. They may not have always kept to their ideal, but there it was. And I am inclined to think that the homogenic instinct (for the reasons given above) would in the long run tend to work itself out in this direction. And consonant with this is the fact that this passion in the past (as pointed out by J. Addington Symonds in his paper on "Dantesque and Platonic Ideals of Love" [Footnote 21]) has, as a matter of fact, inspired such a vast amount of heroism and romance - only paralleled indeed by the loves of Chivalry, which of course, owing to their special character, were subject to a similar Transmutation.
In all these matters the popular opinion has probably been largely influenced by the arbitrary notion that the function of love is limited to child-breeding; and that any love not concerned in the propagation of the race must necessarily be of dubious character. And in enforcing this view, no doubt the Hebraic and Christian tradition has exercised a powerful influence - dating, as it almost certainly does, from far-back times when the multiplication of the tribe was one of the first duties of its members, and one of the first necessities of corporate life. [Footnote 22] But nowadays when the need has swung round all the other way it is not unreasonable to suppose that a similar revolution will take place in people's views of the place and purpose of the non-child-bearing love. [Footnote 23]
I have now said enough I think to show that though much in relation to the homogenic attachment is obscure, and though it may have its special pitfalls and temptations - making it quite necessary to guard against a too great latitude on the physical side; yet on its ethical and social sides it is pregnant with meaning and has received at various times in history abundant justification. It certainly does not seem impossible to suppose that as the ordinary love has a special function in the propagation of the race, so the other has its special function in social and heroic work, and in the generation - not of bodily children - but of those children of the mind, the philosophical conceptions and ideals which transform our lives and those of society. J. Addington Symonds, in his privately printed pamphlet, "A Problem in Greek Ethics" (now published in a German translation), [Footnote 24] endeavours to reconstruct as it were the genesis of comrade-love among the Dorians in early Greek times. Thus:-
"Without sufficiency of women, without the sanctities of established domestic life, inspired by the memories of Achilles and venerating their ancestor Herakles, the Dorian warriors had special opportunity for elevating comradeship to the rank of an enthusiasm. The incidents of emigration into a foreign country - perils of the sea, passages of rivers and mountains, assaults of fortresses and cities, landings on a hostile shore, night-vigils by the side of blazing beacons, foragings for food, picquet service in the front of watchful foes - involved adventures capable of shedding the lustre of romance on friendship. These circumstances, by bringing the virtues of sympathy with the weak, tenderness for the beautiful, protection for the young, together with corresponding qualities of gratitude, self-devotion, and admiring attachment into play, may have tended to cement unions between man and man no less firm than that of marriage. On such connections a wise captain would have relied for giving strength to his battalions, and for keeping alive the flames of enterprise and daring."
The author then goes on to suggest that though in such relations as those indicated the physical probably had some share, yet it did not at that time overbalance the emotional and spiritual elements, or lead to the corruption and effeminacy of a later age.
At Sparta the lover was called Eispnêlos, the inspirer, and the younger beloved Aïtes, the hearer. This alone would show the partly educational aspects in which comradeship was conceived; and a hundred passages from classic literature might be quoted to prove how deeply it had entered into the Greek mind that this love was the cradle of social chivalry and heroic life. Finally it seems to have been Plato's favourite doctrine that the relation if properly conducted led up to the disclosure of true philosophy in the mind, to the divine vision or mania, and to the remembrance or rekindling within the soul of all the forms of celestial beauty. He speaks of this kind of love as causing a "generation in the beautiful" [Footnote 25] within the souls of the lovers. The image of the beloved one passing into the mind of the lover and upward through its deepest recesses reaches and unites itself to the essential forms of divine beauty there long hidden - the originals as it were of all creation - and stirring them to life excites a kind of generative descent of noble thoughts and impulses, which henceforward modify the whole cast of thought and life of the one so affected.
If there is any truth - even only a grain or two - in these speculations, it is easy to see that the love with which we are specially dealing is a very important factor in society, and that its neglect, or its repression, or its vulgar misapprehension, may be matters of considerable danger or damage to the common-weal. It is easy to see that while on the one hand marriage is of indispensable importance to the State as providing the workshop as it were for the breeding and rearing of children, another form of union is almost equally indispensable to supply the basis for social activities of other kinds. Every one is conscious that without a close affectional tie of some kind his life is not complete, his powers are crippled, and his energies are inadequately spent. Yet it is not to be expected (though it may of course happen) that the man or woman who have dedicated themselves to each other and to family life should leave the care of their children and the work they have to do at home in order to perform social duties of a remote and less obvious, though may be more arduous, character. Nor is it to be expected that a man or woman single-handed, without the counsel of a helpmate in the hour of difficulty, or his or her love in the hour of need, should feel equal to these wider activities. If - to refer once more to classic story - the love of Harmodius had been for a wife and children at home, he would probably not have cared, and it would hardly have been his business, to slay the tyrant. And unless on the other hand each of the friends had had the love of his comrade to support him, the two could hardly have nerved themselves to this audacious and ever-memorable exploit. So it is difficult to believe that anything can supply the force and liberate the energies required for social and mental activities of the most necessary kind so well as a comrade-union which yet leaves the two lovers free from the responsibilities and impedimenta of family life.
For if the slaughter of tyrants is not the chief social duty now-a-days, we have with us hydra-headed monsters at least as numerous as the tyrants of old, and more difficult to deal with, and requiring no little courage to encounter. And beyond the extirpation of evils we have solid work waiting to be done in the patient and lifelong building up of new forms of society, new orders of thought, and new institutions of human solidarity - all of which in their genesis must meet with opposition, ridicule, hatred, and even violence. Such campaigns as these - though different in kind from those of the Dorian mountaineers described above - will call for equal hardihood and courage, and will stand in need of a comradeship as true and valiant. And it may indeed be doubted whether the higher heroic and spiritual life of a nation is ever quite possible without the sanction of this attachment in its institutions, adding a new range and scope to the possibilities of love.[Footnote 26]
Walt Whitman, the inaugurator, it may almost be said, of a new world of democratic ideals and literature, and - as one of the best of our critics has remarked - the most Greek in spirit and in performance of modern writers, insists continually on this social function of
"intense and loving comradeship, the personal and passionate attachment of man to man."
"I will make," he says, "the most splendid race the sun ever shone upon, I will make divine magnetic lands. . . . I will make inseparable cities with their arms about each others' necks, by the love of comrades."
And again, in "Democratic Vistas,"
"It is to the development, identification, and general prevalence of that fervid comradeship (the adhesive love at least rivalling the amative love hitherto possessing imaginative literature, if not going beyond it), that I look for the counterbalance and offset of materialistic and vulgar American Democracy, and for the spiritualisation thereof. . . . I say Democracy infers such loving comradeship, as its most inevitable twin or counterpart, without which it will be incomplete, in vain, and incapable of perpetuating itself."
Yet Whitman could not have spoken, as he did, with a kind of authority on this subject, if he had not been fully aware that through the masses of the people this attachment was already alive and working - though doubtless in a somewhat suppressed and un-self-conscious form - and if he had not had ample knowledge of its effects and influence in himself and others around him. Like all great artists he could but give form and light to that which already existed dim and inchoate in the heart of the people. To those who have dived at all below the surface in this direction it will be familiar enough that the homogenic passion ramifies widely through all modern society, and that among the masses of the people as among the classes, even below the stolid surface and reserve of British manners, letters pass and enduring attachments are formed, differing in no very obvious respect from those correspondences which persons of opposite sex knit with each other under similar circumstances; but that hitherto while this relation has occasionally, in its grosser forms and abuses, come into public notice through the police reports, etc., its more sane and spiritual manifestations - though really a moving force in the body politic - have remained unrecognised.
It is hardly needful in these days when social questions loom so large upon us to emphasise the importance of a bond which by the most passionate and lasting compulsion may draw members of the different classes together, and (as it often seems to do) none the less strongly because they are members of different classes. A moment's consideration must convince us that such a comradeship may, as Whitman says, have "deepest relations to general politics." It is noticeable, too, in this deepest relation to politics that the movement among women towards their own liberation and emancipation, which is taking place all over the civilised world, has been accompanied by a marked development of the homogenic passion among the female sex. It may be said that a certain strain in the relations between the opposite sexes which has come about owing to a growing consciousness among women that they have been oppressed and unfairly treated by men, and a growing unwillingness to ally themselves unequally in marriage - that this strain has caused the womenkind to draw more closely together and to cement alliances of their own. But whatever the cause may be, it is pretty certain that such comrade-alliances - and of quite devoted kind - are becoming increasingly common, and especially perhaps among the more cultured classes of women, who are working out the great cause of their sex's liberation; nor is it difficult to see the importance of such alliances in such a campaign. In the United States where the battle of women's independence is also being fought, the tendency mentioned is as strongly marked.
A few words may here be said about the legal aspect of this important question. It has to be remarked that the present state of the Law, both in Germany and Britain - arising as it does partly out of some of the misapprehensions above alluded to, and partly out of the sheer unwillingness of legislators to discuss the question - is really impracticable. While the Law rightly seeks to prevent acts of violence or public scandal, it may be argued that it is going beyond its province when it attempts to regulate the private and voluntary relations of adult persons to each other. The homogenic affection is a valuable social force, and in some cases a necessary element of noble human character - yet the Act of 1885 makes almost any familiarity in such cases the possible basis of a criminal charge. The Law has no doubt had substantial ground for previous statutes on this subject - dealing with a certain gross act; but in so severely condemning the least familiarity between male persons [Footnote 27] we think it has gone too far. It has undertaken a censorship over private morals (entirely apart from social results) which is beyond its province, and which - even if it were its province - it could not possibly fulfil; [Footnote 28] it has opened wider than ever before the door to a real, most serious social evil and crime - that of blackmailing; and it has thrown a shadow over even the simplest and most ordinary expressions of an attachment which may, as we have seen, be of great value in the national life.
That the homosexual feeling, like the heterosexual, may lead to public abuses of liberty and decency; that it needs a strict self-control; and that much teaching and instruction on the subject is needed; we of course do not deny. But as, in the case of persons of opposite sex, the law limits itself on the whole to a maintenance of public order, the protection of the weak from violence and insult, [Footnote 29] and of the young from their inexperience; so we think it should be here. The much-needed teaching and the true morality on the subject must be given - as it can only be given - by the spread of proper education and ideas, and not by the clumsy bludgeon of the statute-book. [Footnote 30]
Having thus shown the importance of the homogenic or comrade-attachment, in some form, in national life, it would seem high time now that the modern peoples should recognise this in their institutions, and endeavour at least in their public opinion and systems of education to understand this factor and give it its proper place. The undoubted evils which exist in relation to it, for instance in our public schools as well as in our public life, owe their existence largely to the fact that the whole subject is left in the gutter so to speak - in darkness and concealment. No one offers a clue of better things, nor to point a way out of the wilderness; and by this very non-recognition the passion is perverted into its least satisfactory channels. All love, one would say, must have its responsibilities, else it is liable to degenerate, and to dissipate itself in mere sentiment or sensuality. The normal marriage between man and woman leads up to the foundation of the household and the family; the love between parents and children implies duties and cares on both sides. The homogenic attachment, left unrecognised, easily loses some of its best quality and becomes an ephemeral or corrupt thing. Yet, as we have seen, and as I am pointing out in the following chapter, it may, when occurring between an elder and younger, prove to be an immense educational force; while, as between equals, it may be turned to social and heroic uses, such as can hardly be demanded or expected from the ordinary marriage. It would seem high time, I say, that public opinion should recognise these facts; and so give to this attachment the sanction and dignity which arise from public recognition, as well as the definite form and outline which would flow from the existence of an accepted ideal or standard in the matter. It is often said how necessary for the morality of the ordinary marriage is some public recognition of the relation, and some accepted standard of conduct in it. May not, to a lesser degree, something of the same kind (as suggested in the next chapter) be true of the homogenic attachment? It has had its place as a recognised and guarded institution in the elder and more primitive societies; and it seems quite probable that a similar place will be accorded to it in the societies of the future.