Puslapio vaizdai

porary who live outside our civilization, an organism far more essential than it is have conceived and practised matrimony to-day, because it held within itself many not as a right of sentiment, but as a duty functions, educational, industrial, and poof reason. To fulfil it, the young have litical, now performed by other instituturned to the sagacity of the aged, and tions. But reason itself is not perfect. Like these have endeavored to promote the suc- passion, it has its weakness, and marriage cess of marriage not merely to the satis- so conceived by Rome produced grave in

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faction of a single passion, usually as brief conveniences, which one must know in as it is ardent, but according to a calcu- order to understand the story, in many related equilibrium of qualities, tendencies, spects tragic, of the women of the Cæsars. and material means. The principles regulating Roman mar

THE EVIL OF EARLY MARRIAGE riage may seem to us at variance with human nature, but they are the principles to The first difficulty was the early age at which all peoples wishing to trust the which marriages took place among the arisestablishment of the family not to passion tocracy. The boys were almost always as mobile as the sea, but to reason, have married at from eighteen to twenty; the had recourse in times when the family was girls, at from thirteen to fifteen. This



disadvantage is to be found in all society much perturbed and shifting, there were in which marriage is arranged by the par- not a few women of the aristocracy who ents, because it would be next to impossi- had changed husbands three or four times, ble to induce young people to yield to the and that not for lightness or caprice or will of their elders in an affair in which inconstancy of tastes, but because their the passions are readily aroused if they fathers, their brothers, sometimes their were allowed to reach the age when the sons, had at a certain moment besought or passions are strongest and the will has be- constrained them to contract some particcome independent. Hardly out of child- ular marriage that should serve their own hood, the man and the woman are natu- political ends. rally more tractable. On the other hand, It is easy to comprehend how this preit is easy to see how many dangers threat- cariousness discouraged woman from ausened such youthful marriages in a society tere and rigorous virtues, the very foundawhere matrimony gave to the woman wide tion of the family; how it was a continliberty, placing her in contact with other uous incitement to frivolity of character, men, opening to her the doors of theaters to dissipation, to infidelity. Consequently, and public resorts, leading her into the midst the liberty the Romans allowed her must of all the temptations and illusions of life. have been much more dangerous than the

greater freedom she enjoys to-day, since it DIVORCE

lacked its modern checks and balances, The other serious disadvantage was the such as personal choice in marriage, the facility of divorce. For the very reason relatively mature age at which marriages that matrimony was for the nobility a po- are nowadays made, the indissolubility of litical act, the Romans were never willing the matrimonial contract, or, rather, the to allow that it could be indissoluble; in- many and diverse restrictions placed upon deed, even when the woman was in no divorce, by which it is no longer left to sense culpable, they reserved to the man the arbitrary will or the mere fancy of the the right of undoing it at any time he wished, solely because that particular mar- In brief, there was in the constitution riage did not suit his political interests. of the Roman family a contradiction, And the marriage could be dissolved by which must be well apprehended if one the most expeditious means, without for- would understand the history of the great mality-by a mere letter! Nor was that ladies of the imperial era. Rome desired enough. Fearing that love might out- woman in marriage to be the pliable inweigh reason and calculation in the young, strument of the interests of the family and the law granted to the father the right to the state, but did not place her under the give notice of divorce to the daughter-in- despotism of customs, of law, and of the law, instead of leaving it to the son; so will of man in the way done by all other that the father was able to make and un- states that have exacted from her complete make the marriages of his sons, as he self-abnegation. Instead, it accorded to thought useful and fitting, without taking her almost wholly that liberty, granted their will into account.

with little danger by civilizations like The woman, therefore, although in the ours, in which she may live not only for home she was of sovereign equality with the family, for the state, for the race, but the man and enjoyed a position full of also for herself. Rome was unwilling to honor, was, notwithstanding, never sure treat her as did the Greek and Asiatic of the future. Neither the affection of her world, but it did not on this account give husband nor the stainlessness of her life up requiring of her the same total selfcould insure that she should close her days abnegation for the public weal, the utter in the house whither she had come in her obliviousness to her own aspirations and youth as a bride. At any hour the fatali- passions, in behalf of the race. ties of politics could, I will not say, drive

PURITANISM AS A SAFEGUARD her forth, but gently invite her exit from the house where her children were born. This contradiction explains to us one of An ordinary letter was enough to annul the fundamental phenomena of the history a marriage. So it was that, particularly of Rome - the deep, tenacious, age-long in the age of Cæsar, when politics were puritanism of high Roman society. Puri

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tanism was the chief expedient by which in a certain measure to check his selfish Rome attempted to solve the contradic- instincts by the need of conserving, ention. That coercion which the Oriental larging, and defending against rivals his world had tried to exercise upon woman social, economic, and political situation. by segregating her, keeping her ignorant, But the woman? If she is freed from terrorizing her with threats and punish- family cares, if she is authorized to live ments, Rome sought to secure by training. for her own gratification and for her It inculcated in every way by means of beauty; if the opinion that imposes upon education, religion, and opinion the idea her, on pain of infamy, habits pure and that she should be pious, chaste, faithful, honest, weakens; if, instead of infamy, disdevoted alone to her husband and chil- soluteness brings her glory, riches, homdren; that luxury, prodigality, dissolute- age, what trammel can still restrain in her ness, were horrible vices, the infamy of the selfish instincts latent in every human which hopelessly degraded all that was being ? She runs the mighty danger of best and purest in woman. Puritanism changing into an irresponsible being who is essentially an intense effort to rouse in will be the more admired and courted and the mind the liveliest repulsion for certain possessed of power--at least as long as her vices and pleasures, and a violent dread of beauty lasts — the more she ignores every them; and Rome made use of it to check duty, subordinating all good sense to her and counterbalance the liberty of woman, own pleasure. to impede and render more difficult the This is the reason why woman, in periabuses of such liberty, particularly prodi- ods commanded by strong social discipline, gality and dissoluteness.

is the most beneficent and tenacious among It is therefore easy to understand how the cohesive forces of a nation; and why, this puritanism was a thing serious, in times when social discipline is relaxed, weighty, and terrible, in Roman life; and she is, instead, through ruinous luxury, how from it could be born the tragedies dissipation, and voluntary sterility, the we have to recount. It was the chief most terrible force for dissolution. means of solving one of the gravest prob- One of the greatest problems of every lems that has perplexed all civilizations- epoch and all civilizations is to find a balthe problem of woman and her freedom, ance between the natural aspiration for a problem earnest, difficult, and complex freedom that is none other than the need which springs up everywhere out of the of personal felicity-a need as lively and unobstructed anarchy and the tremendous profound in the heart of woman as of man material prosperity of the modern world. ---and the supreme necessity for a disciAnd the difficulty of the problem consists, pline without which the race, the state, above all, in this: that, although it is a and the family run the gravest danger. hard, cruel, plainly iniquitous thing to de- Yet this problem to-day, in the unmeaprive a woman of liberty and subject her sured exhilaration with which riches and to a régime of tyranny in order to con- power intoxicate the European-American strain her to live for the race and not for civilization, is considered with the superherself, yet when liberty is granted her to ficial frivolity and the voluble dilettanlive for herself, to satisfy her personal de- tism that despoil or confuse all the great sires, she abuses that liberty more readily problems of esthetics, philosophy, statesthan a man does, and more than a man manship, and morality. We live in the forgets her duties toward the race.

midst of what might be called the Satur

nalia of the world's history; and in the WOMAN'S ABUSE OF LIBERTY

midst of the swift and easy labor, the inShe abuses it more readily for two rea- ebriety of our continual festivities, we sons: because she exercises a greater power feel no more the tragic in life. This short over man than he over her; and because, history of the women of the Cæsars will in the wealthier classes, she is freer from set before the eyes of this pleasure-loving the political and economic responsibilities contemporary age tragedies among whose that bind the man.

However unbridled ruins our ancestors lived from birth to the freedom that man enjoys, however death, and by which they tempered their vast his egoism, he is always constrained minds.

(To be continued)

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