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Title: Married Love - A New Contribution to the Solution of Sex Difficulties
Author: Stopes, Marie Carmichael
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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       *       *       *       *       *


Books by the same Author


"The Cretaceous Flora, Part I." Illustrated. Published by the
Trustees of the British Museum. 12s. net.

"The Cretaceous Flora, Part II." Illustrated. Published by the
Trustees of the British Museum. £1 1s. net.

"Ancient Plants." Illustrated. Published by Blackie. 4s. 6d. net.

"The Study of Plant Life." Illustrated. Published by Blackie. 3s.
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"Wise Parenthood." Published by Fifield. 2s. 6d. net.


"A Journal from Japan." Published by Blackie. 7s. 6d. net.


"Man, Other Poems, and a Preface." Published by Heinemann. 3s. 6d.

"Conquest," a Three-Act Play. Published by French. 1s. net.

"Gold in the Wood" and "The Race." Two Plays. Published by Fifield.
2s. net.

     With Prof. J. Sakurai, "Plays of Old Japan, The Nö." Published
         by Heinemann. 5s. net.

_The author's vivid and imaginative sympathy has really enabled her
in some degree to communicate the incommunicable._



  A New Contribution to the
  Solution of Sex Difficulties


  _Doctor of Science, London; Doctor of Philosophy, Munich; Fellow
  of University College, London; Fellow of the Royal Society of
  Literature, and the Linnean Society, London_

  _With a Preface by Dr. JESSIE MURRAY

  _Sixth and enlarged Edition_

  London: A. C. Fifield
  13, Clifford's Inn, E.C.4

  _Dedicated to young husbands and all those who are betrothed in love_

  _First published March 26, 1918_

  _Second Edition printed May 17, 1918_

  _Third Edition printed June 25, 1918_

  _Fourth Edition printed August 2, 1918_

  _Fifth Edition printed September 19, 1918_

  _Sixth Edition printed February 3, 1919_

  _Printed by the Pelican Press, London._

  _Copyright; translation and all other rights reserved
  by the Author_
  _Copyright in U.S.A._



  Preface by Dr. Jessie Murray                   vii

  Letter from Professor Starling, F.R.S., &c.      x

  Author's Preface                                xi

  Letter from Father St. John and Reply          xiv

  Chapter  I. The Heart's Desire                   1

  Chapter  II. The Broken Joy                      7

  Chapter  III. Woman's "Contrariness"            14

  Chapter  IV. The Fundamental Pulse              26

  Chapter  V. Mutual Adjustment                   38

  Chapter  VI. Sleep                              55

  Chapter VII. Modesty and Romance                66

  Chapter VIII. Abstinence                        72

  Chapter  IX. Children                           77

  Chapter  X. Society                             92

  Chapter  XI. The Glorious Unfolding            107

  Additions to Sixth Edition                     114

  Appendix                                       123

  Charts                           to face 32 and 33




In this little book Dr. Marie Stopes deals with subjects which are
generally regarded as too sacred for an entirely frank treatment.
Some earnest and delicate minds may feel apprehensive that such
frankness in details is "dangerous," because the effect on prurient
minds might be to give them food for their morbid fancies. It is
just such a fear which has been largely responsible for the silence
and mystery which have for so long been wrapped round the sacred
rites of mating.

The question now is, Has this reticence been carried too far? Has
it been carried so far that it now tends to defeat its purpose of
safeguarding public morals? There are many who unhesitatingly answer
such questions in the affirmative. Their intimate knowledge of human
lives compels them to recognise that at least as much harm is done
by silence as by speaking out. Everything depends on how the matter
is presented.

Those who are shocked at the publication of such a book as this on
the ground that it gives material for impure minds to sport with,
need only reflect that such material is already amply provided in
certain comic papers, in hosts of inferior novels, too often on the
stage and film, and presented thus in coarse and demoralising guise.
It can do nothing but good to such minds to meet the facts they are
already so familiar with in a totally new light.

On the other hand, there are all the earnest and noble young minds
who seek to know what responsibilities they are taking on themselves
when they marry, and how they may best meet these responsibilities.
How few of them have more than the vaguest ideas on the subject! How
few of them know how or where to obtain the help they desire!

They recoil from the coarse and impure sources of information which
are so accessible, and they hesitate to approach those they have
learned to regard as virtuous and modest, realising that from such
they will receive so little actual information, and that so veiled
as to be almost useless.

Dr. Stopes has attempted to meet the need of such seekers, and her
book will certainly be warmly welcomed by them. It is calculated
to prevent many of those mistakes which wreck the happiness of
countless lovers as soon as they are actually married. If it did no
more than this it would be valuable indeed!

But there is an even more important aspect to be considered--the
effect on the child. In all civilised lands there is a growing sense
of responsibility towards the young.

The problems of their physical and mental nurture attract more and
more attention day by day. Eugenists, educationists, physicians,
politicians, philanthropists, and even ordinary parents discuss and
ponder, ponder and discuss, matters both great and small which have
a bearing on the development of the child. By common consent the
first seven years of life are regarded as the most critical. It is
during these years that the foundations of the personality-to-be
are laid--"well and truly" or otherwise. It is during these years
that the deepest and most ineradicable impressions are made in the
plastic constitution of the child, arresting or developing this or
the other instinctive trend and fixing it, often for life.

And it is during these years above all that the parents play the
most important role in the inner history of the child's life, not so
much by anything they directly teach through verbal exhortations,
warnings, or commands, as by those subtler influences which are
conveyed in gesture, tone, and facial expression. The younger the
child, the more is it influenced through these more primitive modes
of expression, and quite as much when they are not directed towards
itself but are employed by the parents in their intimate relations
with one another in the presence of their apparently unobserving
child--the infant in its cot, the toddling baby by the hearth, the
little child to all appearance absorbed in its picture book or toy.

Is it not of the utmost importance that these earliest impressions
should be of the finest nature? And should we not therefore welcome
all that may help--as this book can--to make the living cradle of
the next generation as full of beauty and harmony as love and mutual
understanding can?

The age-long conflict between the "lower" and the "higher" impulses,
between the primitive animal nature and the specifically human
developments of an altruistic and ethical order, are fought afresh
in each soul and in every marriage.

We need to realise more clearly that the lower is never--ought
never to be--_eliminated_ but rather _subsumed by the higher_. No
true harmony can be hoped for so long as one factor or the other is
ignored or repressed.

Dr. Stopes makes some very important biological suggestions which
should not be lightly dismissed. Further observation is required
to establish or disprove her theory of the normal sexual cycle in
women, but my own observation certainly tends to confirm it.


_Letter from_ Professor E. H. STARLING, M.D., B.S., F.R.S.,
_Professor of Physiology_, _University of London_.

  November 23, 1917.


The need of such guidance as you give is very evident. After all,
instinct in man is all insufficient to determine social behaviour,
and there is need of instruction in the highest of physiological
functions, that of reproduction, as there is in the lower functions
of eating and drinking--the only difference being that in the former
instruction can be deferred to a later age. And there is no doubt
that in this case it is better to acquire knowledge by instruction
than by a type of experience which is nearly always sordid and may
be fraught with danger to the health of the individual and of the

At the present time it is of vital importance to the State that its
marriages should be fruitful--in children, happiness, and efficiency
(and all three are closely connected).

If your book helps in securing this object, your trouble will not
have been in vain.

  Believe me,
  Yours very truly,

Author's Preface

More than ever to-day are happy homes needed. It is my hope that
this book may serve the State by adding to their numbers. Its object
is to increase the joys of marriage, and to show how much sorrow may
be avoided.

The only secure basis for a present-day State is the welding of
its units in marriage; but there is rottenness and danger at the
foundations of the State if many of the marriages are unhappy.
To-day, particularly in the middle classes in this country, marriage
is far less really happy than its surface appears. Too many who
marry expecting joy are bitterly disappointed; and the demand for
"freedom" grows; while those who cry aloud are generally unaware
that it is more likely to have been their own ignorance than the
"marriage-bond" which was the origin of their unhappiness.

It is never _easy_ to make marriage a lovely thing; and it is an
achievement beyond the powers of the selfish, or the mentally
cowardly. Knowledge is needed and, as things are at present,
knowledge is almost unobtainable by those who are most in want of it.

The problems of the sex-life are infinitely complex, and for their
solution urgently demand both sympathy and scientific research.

I have some things to say about sex, which, so far as I am aware,
have not yet been said, things which seem to be of profound
importance to men and women who hope to make their marriages

This little book is less a record of a research than an attempt to
present in easily understandable form the clarified and crystallised
results of long and complex investigations. Its simple statements
are based on a very large number of first-hand observations, on
confidences from men and women of all classes and types, and on
facts gleaned from wide reading.

My original contributions to the age-long problems of marriage
will principally be found in Chapters IV., V., and VIII. The other
chapters fill in what I hope is an undistorted picture of the
potential beauties and realities of marriage.

The whole is written simply, and for the ordinary untrained reader,
though it embodies some observations which will be new even to those
who have made scientific researches on the subjects of sex and human
physiology. These observations I intend to supplement and publish at
greater length and in more scientific language in another place.

I do not now touch upon the many human variations and abnormalities
which bulk so largely in most books on sex, nor do I deal with the
many problems raised by incurably unhappy marriages.

In the following pages I speak to those--and in spite of all our
neurotic literature and plays they are in the great majority--who
are nearly normal, and who are married or about to be married, and
hope, but do not know how, to make their marriages beautiful and

To the reticent, as to the conventional, it may seem a presumption
or a superfluity to speak of the details of the most complex of all
our functions. They ask: Is not instinct enough? The answer is No.
Instinct is _not_ enough. In every other human activity it has been
realised that training, the handing on of tradition are essential.
As Dr. Saleeby once wisely pointed out: A cat knows how to manage
her new-born kittens, how to bring them up and teach them; a human
mother does not know how to manage her baby unless she is trained,
either directly or by her own quick observation of other mothers. A
cat performs her simple duties by instinct; a human mother has to be
trained to fulfil her very complex ones.

The same is true in the subtle realm of sex. In this country, in
modern times, the old traditions, the profound primitive knowledge
of the needs of both sexes, have been lost, and nothing but
a muffled confusion of individual gossip disturbs a silence,
shamefaced or foul. Here and there, in a family of fine tradition,
a youth or maiden may learn some of the mysteries of marriage, but
the great majority of people in our country have no glimmering of
the supreme human art, the art of love; while in books on advanced
Physiology and Medicine the gaps, the omissions, and even the
misstatements of bare fact are amazing.

In my first marriage I paid such a terrible price for sex-ignorance
that I feel that knowledge gained at such a cost should be placed
at the service of humanity. In this little book average, healthy,
mating creatures will find the key to the happiness which should
be the portion of each. It has already guided some to happiness,
and I hope it may save some others years of heartache and blind
questioning in the dark.



I so much regret that many people have had to wait for the book, or
been unable to get it. The paper restrictions and difficulties of
printing and binding have been great. At first the publisher started
with a modest edition of 2,000, not knowing what sort of reception
the book would have. Now that we know that people not only need the
book but really _want_ it we hope to be able to keep it in print,
instead of perforce having it so often "reprinting," as it has been
in the first few months of its existence.



To mention some of those whose appreciation and encouragement have
so much helped the progress of this book would be invidious, and to
record them all would fill pages with mere names; but there is one
toward whom I have often desired to record in print my gratitude,
and that is Humphrey Verdon Roe. These thanks are rendered to him
not in his private capacity of adored and adoring husband, but in
his more public office of sympathetic friend. Though he did not
meet me early enough to contribute to the text of the book itself
his interest has nevertheless been invaluable in creating a helpful
atmosphere for the ever-increasing work the book brings.



The difficulty and cost of printing still renders it inadvisable
to incorporate throughout this edition the number of small notes I
should like to add, and the further points about which my various
correspondents have asked advice.

Among the subjects of inquiry, two are particularly prominent in
the many letters which readers send me. The most frequent questions
concern the practical extension so many desire to Chapter 9. This
I have already dealt with separately in the short companion volume
called "Wise Parenthood." The other subject deals with the reverse
state of affairs and is also an extension of Chapter 9. This, for
the present, I am placing at the end of the volume, Addition 4, page
119. Other points are dealt with on pages 114, _et seq._

Readers who have kindly contributed information, or have made
requests for more light in a new edition, will, I hope, be satisfied
now before too long a time has elapsed.


_Letter from_ Father STANISLAUS ST. JOHN, F.C., S.J.

  December 11, 1917.


I have read "Married Love" with deep interest. As a piece of
thoughtful, scientific writing I find it admirable throughout,
and it seems to me that your theme could not have been treated in
more beautiful or more delicate language, or with a truer ring of
sympathy for those who, through ignorance or want of thought, make
shipwreck of their married happiness.

Your clear exposition of the rhythmic curve of sex-feeling and of
the misinterpretation on the part of so many husbands of what they
call their wives' contrariness, arising from their ignorance of its
existence, should bring happiness to many married couples whose
lives are drifting apart through want of knowledge. In the exercise
of my ministry I have repeatedly traced the beginnings of the rift
to this want of knowledge and consequently of sympathy.

So far we are in complete agreement, but our ways part when you
treat of birth control.

You write primarily as a scientist (though a very human scientist),
and so you are naturally mainly occupied with the facts and
conditions of what I may call our earth-life. I, on the other
hand, writing as a Catholic, regard our earth-life as essentially
and inseparably connected with an eternal existence which reaches
out beyond the grave. I look on this life as utterly meaningless
in itself, as a period which is simply and solely a means to an
end--Eternity--a period of which all the circumstances of pleasure
and pain can only be explained and rightly used in their relation to
this Eternity.

Let me take in illustration of my meaning the case you give of the
worn-out mother of twelve. The Catholic belief is that the loss
of health on her part for a few years of life and the diminished
vitality on the part of her later children would be a very small
price indeed to pay for an endless happiness on the part of all.

In our belief, then, the destruction of one spermatazoon is not
the question, but the deliberate prevention of an eternally
happy existence which, in the supposition, might arise from its
preservation. Holding, as we do, that the marriage-act is the
divinely ordained means by which man offers to God the opportunity
of creating an immortal being, we do not believe that he may make
use of this means and deliberately frustrate it of its end without
doing grave wrong.

You do me the honour of suggesting that I should write a foreword
to your book, but any foreword from me could obviously only derive
value from my position as a Catholic priest, and that position is in
opposition to this part of your work.

I cannot end without thanking you very sincerely for allowing me to
read your book. Apart from what, as a Catholic, I object to in it,
it contains so much most helpful matter that I feel sure it will
bring to many a happiness in married life now wanting through the
ignorance and the consequent want of sympathy which you so rightly

  Believe me, dear Dr. Stopes,
  Yours very sincerely,
  S. ST. JOHN, S.J., C.F.

I publish this letter with sincere thanks to Father St. John for his
permission to use it.--M. C. S.

Reply to Father St. John, S.J.

  LEATHERHEAD, December 12, 1917.


Your letter wins my heart entirely by its appreciation and kindness.
It is a great help and encouragement to find that we are so far in
essential agreement, and that you are so well disposed toward even
part of my effort.

But--and I wish I could say it in burning words--it is not because
I am chiefly concerned with Time that I wrote Chapter IX., but just
because I am so acutely and so persistently conscious that I am
dealing with factors of Eternity. _To me to-day is essentially a
part of my Life Everlasting._

I cannot separate time and eternity, this world and the next, as
religious people often seem able to do; to me this body is a tool
in the service of (though not completely in the control of) my
immortal soul. Now it seems to me that religious people--and even
in your letter I fancy I detect the same tendency (forgive me if
I am wrong)--are too ready to separate this world and the next,
to act unreasonably or cruelly here and to trust to Eternity, or
the Hereafter, to put all right. I do not think that is the way
God wills us to work out His plans now that He is giving us the
knowledge to do better.

Could there be anything more unreasonable or cruel than to bring
into life half a dozen children _doomed from birth_ to ill-health,
poverty, and almost inevitable crime?

Christ forgave the thief upon the Cross, but He said, "Woe unto him
through whom offences come. It were better for him that a millstone
were hanged about his neck and he cast into the sea." Would Christ
approve of deliberately creating a thief by bringing forth a child
who was one inevitably through predictable weakness of physique
and mentality and an environment of poverty? ("Thief" stands for
criminals in general.)

But more, what about others, born dead, born imbecile, thwarted of
life by miscarriage, which tear and rend the overburdened mother so
that she is forced to neglect the children she has, and her neglect
turns them into thieves? The poor, uneducated mother commits this
crime through ignorance: it is _we who know_ and allow her to remain
in ignorance who are really responsible. Is not our withholding
God-given knowledge the greatest stumbling-block of offence to these
little ones, and shall we not deserve the millstone round our necks?

Were everyone to have all the children physiologically possible
(now that infant mortality is so much reduced by science) in a few
centuries there would not be standing room on the earth, and nowhere
for a blade of grass or an ear of corn to grow between the crowding
feet. Is then a Roman Catholic mother, the increases to whose large
family get punier and punier, to be privileged to go deliberately
with that host of puny children _at the expense of others_, not only
through that part of Eternity called Time, but through all Eternity?

But, dear Father St. John, it is not my place to preach or to argue
with you, especially after your generous kindness and appreciation.
And, alas! I fully realise that even were I granted the tongues of
men and of angels, and I converted you to my thought in this matter,
you as a Roman Catholic priest could not uphold a position in
opposition to your Church.

Oh, that the Churches would look to Christ's own words instead of to
the official Church interpretation of them!

I thank you very sincerely for your kindness to a stranger, and
remain, always yours respectfully,


Chapter I.

The Heart's Desire

     She gave him comprehension of the meaning of love: a word in
     many mouths, not often explained. With her, wound in his idea of
     her, he perceived it to signify a new start in our existence, a
     finer shoot of the tree stoutly planted in good gross earth; the
     senses running their live sap, and the minds companioned, and
     the spirits made one by the whole-natured conjunction. In sooth,
     a happy prospect for the sons and daughters of Earth, divinely
     indicating more than happiness: the speeding of us, compact
     of what we are, between the ascetic rocks and the sensual
     whirlpools, to the creation of certain nobler races, now very
     dimly imagined.--George Meredith's "Diana of the Crossways,"
     chap. 37.

Every heart desires a mate. For some reason beyond our
comprehension, nature has so created us that we are incomplete in
ourselves; neither man nor woman singly can know the joy of the
performance of all the human functions; neither man nor woman singly
can create another human being. This fact, which is expressed in our
outward divergencies of form, influences and colours the whole of
our lives; and there is nothing for which the inner-most spirit of
one and all so yearns as for a sense of union with another soul, and
the perfecting of oneself which such union brings.

In all young people, unless they have inherited depraved or diseased
faculties, the old desire of our race springs up afresh in its
pristine beauty.

With the dreams and bodily changes of adolescence, come to the youth
and maiden the strange and powerful impulses of the racial instinct.
The bodily differences of the two, now accentuated, become mystical,
alluring, enchanting in their promise. Their differences unite and
hold together the man and the woman so that their bodily union
is the solid nucleus of an immense fabric of interwoven strands
reaching to the uttermost ends of the earth; some lighter than the
filmiest cobweb, or than the softest wave of music, iridescent
with the colours, not only of the visible rainbow, but of all the
invisible glories of the wave-lengths of the soul.

However much he may conceal it under assumed cynicism, worldliness,
or self-seeking, the heart of every young man yearns with a great
longing for the fulfilment of the beautiful dream of a life-long
union with a mate. Each heart knows instinctively that it is only a
mate who can give full comprehension of all the potential greatness
in the soul, and have tender laughter for all the child-like wonder
that lingers so enchantingly even in the white-haired.

The search for a mate is a quest for an understanding heart clothed
in a body beautiful, but unlike our own.

In the modern world, those who set out on high endeavours or
who consciously separate themselves from the ordinary course of
social life, are comparatively few, and it is not to them that
I am speaking. The great majority of our citizens--both men and
women--after a time of waiting, or of exploring, or of oscillating
from one attraction to another, "settle down" and marry.

Very few are actually so cynical as to marry without the hope of
happiness; while most young people, however their words may deny it
and however they may conceal their tender hopes by an assumption of
cynicism, reveal that they are conscious of entering on a new and
glorious state by their radiant looks and the joyous buoyancy of
their actions. In the kisses and the hand touch of the betrothed
are a zest and exhilaration which stir the blood like wine. The
two read poetry, listen entranced to music which echoes the songs
of their pulses, and see reflected in each other's eyes the beauty
of the world. In the midst of this celestial intoxication they
naturally assume that, as they are on the threshold of their lives,
so too they are in but the ante-chamber of their experience of
spiritual unity.

The more sensitive, the more romantic, and the more idealistic is
the young person of either sex, the more his or her soul craves for
some kindred soul with whom the whole being can unite. But all have
some measure of this desire, even the most prosaic, and we know from
innumerable stories of real life that the sternest man of affairs,
he who may have worldly success of every sort, may yet, through the
lack of a real mate, live with a sense almost as though the limbs of
his soul had been amputated. Edward Carpenter has beautifully voiced
this longing:--

     That there should exist one other person in the world towards
     whom all openness of interchange should establish itself, from
     whom there should be no concealment; whose body should be as
     dear to one, in every part, as one's own; with whom there should
     be no sense of Mine or Thine, in property or possession; into
     whose mind one's thoughts should naturally flow, as it were to
     know themselves and to receive a new illumination; and between
     whom and oneself there should be a spontaneous rebound of
     sympathy in all the joys and sorrows and experiences of life;
     such is perhaps one of the dearest wishes of the soul.--"Love's
     Coming of Age."

It may chance that someone into whose hands this book falls may
protest that he or she has never felt the fundamental yearning to
form a part of that trinity which alone is the perfect expression
of humanity. If that is so, it is possible that all unconsciously
he may be suffering from a real malady--sex anæsthesia. This is the
name given to an inherent coldness, which, while it lacks the usual
human impulse of tenderness, is generally quite unconscious of its
lack. It may even be that the reader's departure from the ordinary
ranks of mankind is still more fundamental, in which case, instead
of sitting in judgment on the majority, he will do well to read
some such book as "The Sexual Question" (English translation 1908)
by the famous Professor August Forel, in order that his own nature
may be made known to him. He may then discover to which type of our
widely various humanity he belongs. He need not read my book, for
it is written about, and it is written for, ordinary men and women
who, feeling themselves incomplete, yearn for a union that will have
power not only to make a fuller and richer thing of their own lives,
but which will place them in a position to use their sacred trust as
creators of lives to come.

It has happened many times in human history that individuals have
not only been able to conquer this natural craving for a mate,
but have set up celibacy as a higher ideal. In its most beautiful
expression and sublimest manifestations, the celibate ideal has
proclaimed a world-wide love, in place of the narrower human love of
home and children. Many saints and sages, reformers and dogmatists
have modelled their lives on this ideal. But such individuals cannot
be taken as the standard of the _race_, for they are out of its main
current: they are branches which may flower, but never fruit in a
bodily form.

In this world our spirits not only permeate matter but find their
only expression through its medium. So long as we are human we must
have bodies, and bodies obey chemical and physiological, as well as
spiritual laws.

If our race as a whole set out to pursue an ideal which must
ultimately eliminate bodies altogether, it is clear that very soon
we should find the conditions of our environment so altered that we
could no longer speak of the human race.

In the meantime, we _are_ human. We each and all live our lives
according to laws, some of which we have begun to understand, many
of which are completely hidden from us. The most complete human
being is he or she who consciously or unconsciously obeys the
profound physical laws of our being in such a way that the spirit
receives as much help and as little hindrance from the body as
possible. A mind and spirit finds its fullest expression thwarted by
the misuse, neglect or gross abuse of the body in which it dwells.

By the ignorant or self-indulgent breaking of fundamental laws
endless harmonies are dislocated. The modern, small-minded ascetic
endeavours to grow spiritually by destroying his physical instincts
instead of by using them. But I would proclaim that we are set in
the world so to mould matter that it may express our spirits; that
it is presumption to profess to fight the immemorial laws of our
physical being, and that he who does so loses unconsciously the
finest flux in which wondrous new creations take their rise.

To use a homely simile--one might compare two human beings to two
bodies charged with electricity of different potentials. Isolated
from each other the electric forces within them are invisible, but
if they come into the right juxtaposition the force is transmuted,
and a spark, a glow of burning light arises between them. Such is

From the body of the loved one's simple, sweetly coloured flesh,
which our immemorial creature instincts urge us to desire, there
springs not only the wonder of a new bodily life, but also the
enlargement of the horizon of human sympathy and the glow of
spiritual understanding which a solitary soul could never have
attained alone.

Many reading this may feel conscious that they have had physical
union without such spiritual results, perhaps even without an
accession of ordinary happiness. If that is so, it can only be
because, consciously or unconsciously, they have broken some of
the profound laws which govern the love of man and woman. Only by
learning to hold a bow correctly can one draw music from a violin:
only by obedience to the laws of the lower plane can one step up to
the plane above.

Chapter II.

The Broken Joy

     What shall be done to quiet the heart-cry of the world? How
     answer the dumb appeal for help we so often divine below eyes
     that laugh?--Æ. in "The Hero in Man."

Dreaming of happiness, feeling that at last they have each found the
one who will give eternal understanding and tenderness, the young
man and maiden marry.[1]

  [1] In this, and in most of the generalisations found in this
  book, I am speaking of things as they are in Great Britain. While,
  to a considerable extent, the same is true of America and the
  Scandinavian countries, it must be remembered all through that I am
  speaking of the British, and primarily of our educated classes.

At first, in the time generally called the honeymoon, the
unaccustomed freedom and the sweetness of the relation often does
bring real happiness. How long does it last? Too often a far shorter
time than is generally acknowledged.

In the first joy of their union it is hidden from the two young
people that they know little or nothing about the fundamental
laws of each other's being. Much of the sex-attraction (not only
among human beings, but even throughout the whole world of living
creatures) depends upon the differences between the two that pair;
and probably taking them all unawares, those very differences which
drew them together now begin to work their undoing.

But so long as the first illusion that each understands the other is
supported by the thrilling delight of ever-fresh discoveries, the
sensations lived through are so rapid and so joyous that the lovers
do not realise that there is no firm foundation of real mutual
knowledge beneath their feet. While even the happiest pair may
know of divergencies about religion, politics, social custom, and
opinions on things in general, these, with goodwill, patience, and
intelligence on either side, can be ultimately adjusted, because in
all such things there is a common meeting ground for the two. Human
beings, while differing widely about every conceivable subject in
such human relations, have at least _thought_ about them, threshed
them out, and discussed them openly for generations.

But about the much more fundamental and vital problems of sex, there
is a lack of knowledge so abysmal and so universal that its mists
and shadowy darkness have affected even the few who lead us, and who
are prosecuting research in these subjects. And the two young people
begin to suffer from fundamental divergencies, before perhaps they
realise that such exist, and with little prospect of ever gaining a
rational explanation of them.

Nearly all those whose own happiness seems to be dimmed or broken
count themselves exceptions, and comfort themselves with the thought
of some of their friends, who, they feel sure, have attained the
happiness which they themselves have missed.

It is generally supposed that happy people, like happy nations,
have no history--they are silent about their own affairs. Those
who talk about their marriage are generally those who have missed
the happiness they expected. True as this may be in general, it is
not permanently and profoundly true, and there are people who are
reckoned, and still reckon themselves, happy, but who yet unawares
reveal the secret disappointment which clouds their inward peace.

Leaving out of account "_femmes incomprises_" and all the
innumerable neurotic, super-sensitive, and slightly abnormal people,
it still remains an astonishing and tragic fact that so large a
proportion of marriages lose their early bloom and are to some
extent unhappy.

For years many men and women have confided to me the secrets of
their lives; and of all the innumerable marriages of which the
inner circumstances are known to me, there are tragically few which
approach even humanly attainable joy.

Many of those considered by the world, by the relatives, _even by
the loved and loving partner_, to be perfectly happy marriages, are
secretly shadowed to the more sensitive of the pair.

Where the bride is, as are so many of our educated girls, composed
of virgin sweetness shut in ignorance, the man is often the first to
create "the rift within the lute"; but his suffering begins almost
simultaneously with hers. The surface freedom of our women has not
materially altered, cannot materially alter, the pristine purity
of a girl of our northern race. She generally has not even the
capacity to imagine the basic facts of physical marriage, and her
bridegroom may shock her without knowing that he was doing so. Then,
unconscious of the nature, and even perhaps of the existence of his
fault, he is bewildered and pained by her inarticulate pain.

Yet I think, nevertheless, it is true that in the early days of
marriage the young man is often even more sensitive, more romantic,
more easily pained about all ordinary things, and he enters
marriage hoping for an even higher degree of spiritual and bodily
unity than does the girl or the woman. But the man is more quickly
blunted, more swiftly rendered cynical, and is readier to look upon
happiness as a Utopian dream than is his mate.

On the other hand, the woman is slower to realise disappointment,
and more often by the sex-life of marriage is of the two the more
_profoundly_ wounded, with a slow corrosive wound that eats into her
very being.

Perfect happiness is a unity composed of a myriad essences; and this
one supreme thing is exposed to the attacks of countless destructive

Were I to touch upon all the possible sources of marital
disappointment and unhappiness, this book would expand into a dozen
bulky volumes. As I am addressing those who I assume have read, or
can read, other books written upon various ramifications of the
subject, I will not discuss the themes which have been handled by
many writers, nor deal with abnormalities, which fill so large a
part of most books on sex.

In the last few years there has been such an awakening to the
realisation of the corrosive horror of all aspects of prostitution
that there is no need to labour the point that no marriage can be
happy where the husband has, in buying another body, sold his own
health with his honour, and is tainted with disease.

Nor is it necessary, in speaking to well-meaning, optimistic young
couples, to enlarge upon the obvious dangers of drunkenness,
self-indulgence, and the cruder forms of selfishness. It is with the
subtler infringements of the fundamental laws we have to deal. And
the prime tragedy is that, as a rule, the two young people are both
unaware of the existence of such decrees. Yet here, as elsewhere
in Nature, the law breaker is punished whether he is aware of the
existence of the law he breaks or not.

In the state of ignorance which so largely predominates to-day,
the first sign that things are amiss between the two who thought
they were entering paradise together, is generally a sense of
loneliness, a feeling that the one who was expected to have all in
common is outside some experience, some subtle delight, and fails to
understand the needs of the loved one. Trivialities are often the
first indicators of something which takes its roots unseen in the
profoundest depths. The girl may sob for hours over something so
trifling that she cannot even put into words its nature, while the
young man, thinking that he had set out with his soul's beloved upon
an adventure into celestial distances, may find himself apparently
up against a barrier in her which appears as incomprehensible as it
is frivolous.

Then, so strange is the mystical inter-relation between our bodies,
our minds, and our souls, that for crimes committed in ignorance of
the dual functions of the married pair, and the laws which harmonise
them, the punishments are reaped on planes quite diverse, till new
and ever new misunderstandings appear to spring spontaneously from
the soil of their mutual contact. Gradually or swiftly each heart
begins to hide a sense of boundless isolation. It may be urged that
this statement is too sweeping. It is, however, based on innumerable
actual lives. I have heard from women whose marriages are looked
upon by all as the happiest possible expressions of human felicity,
the details of secret pain of which they have allowed their husbands
no inkling. Many men will know how they have hidden from their
beloved wives a sense of dull disappointment, perhaps at her
coldness in the marital embrace, or from the sense that there is in
her something elusive which always evades their grasp.

This profound sense of misunderstanding finds readier expression
in the cruder and more ordinary natures. The disappointment of the
married is expressed not only in innumerable books and plays, but
even in comic papers and all our daily gossip.

Now that so many "movements" are abroad, folk on all sides are
emboldened to express the opinion that it is marriage itself which
is at fault. Many think that merely by loosening the bonds, and
making it possible to start afresh with someone else, their lives
would be made harmonious and happy. But often such reformers forget
that he or she who knows nothing of the way to make marriage great
and beautiful with one partner, is not likely to succeed with
another. Only by a reverent study of the Art of Love can the beauty
of its expression be realised in linked lives.

And even when once learnt, the Art of Love takes _time_ to practise.
As Ellen Key says, "Love requires peace, love will dream; it cannot
live upon the remnants of our time and our personality."

There is no doubt that Love loses, in the haste and bustle of the
modern turmoil, not only its charm and graces, but some of its
vital essence. The evil results of the haste which so infests and
poisons us are often felt much more by the woman than by the man.
The over-stimulation of city life tends to "speed up" the man's
reactions, but to retard hers. To make matters worse, even for
those who have leisure to spend on love-making, the opportunities
for peaceful, romantic dalliance are less to-day in a city with its
tubes and cinema shows than in woods and gardens where the pulling
of rosemary or lavender may be the sweet excuse for the slow and
profound mutual rousing of passion. Now physical passion, so swiftly
stimulated in man, tends to override all else, and the untutored man
seeks but one thing--the accomplishment of desire. The woman, for
it is in her nature so to do, forgives the crudeness, but sooner
or later her love revolts, probably in secret, and then for ever
after, though she may command an outward tenderness, she has nothing
within but scorn and loathing for the act which should have been a
perpetually recurring entrancement.

     So many people are now born and bred in artificial and false
     surroundings, that even the elementary fact that the acts of
     love should be _joyous_ is unknown to them. A distinguished
     American doctor made this amazing statement: "I do not believe
     mutual pleasure in the sexual act has any particular bearing
     on the happiness of life." (Amer. Med. Assoc. Rep. 1900.) This
     is, perhaps, an extreme case, yet so many distinguished medical
     men, gynecologists and physiologists, are either in ignorance or
     error regarding some of the profoundest facts of human sex-life,
     that it is not surprising that ordinary young couples, however
     hopeful, should break and destroy the joy that might have been
     their life-long crown.

Chapter III.

Woman's "Contrariness"

     Oh! for that Being whom I can conceive to be in the world,
     though I shall not live to prove it. One to whom I might
     have recourse in all my Humours and Dispositions: in all my
     Distempers of Mind, visionary Causes of Mortification, and Fairy
     Dreams of Pleasure. I have been trying to train up a Lady or two
     for these good offices of Friendship, but hitherto I must not
     boast of my success.--HERRICK.

What is the fate of the average man who marries, happily and
hopefully, a girl well suited to him? He desires with his whole
heart a mutual, life-long happiness. He marries with the intention
of fulfilling every injunction given him by father, doctor, and
friend. He is considerate in trifles, he speaks no harsh words, he
and his bride go about together, walk together, read together, and
perhaps, if they are very advanced, even work together. But after
a few months, or maybe a few years of marriage they seem to have
drifted apart, and he finds her often cold and incomprehensible. Few
men will acknowledge this even to their best friends. But each heart
knows its own pain.

He may at times laugh, and in the friendliest spirit tease his
wife about her contrariness. That is taken by everyone to mean
nothing but a playful concealment of his profound love. Probably it
is. But gnawing at the very roots of his love is a hateful little
worm--the sense that she _is contrary_. He feels that she is at
times inexplicably cold; that, sometimes, when he has "done nothing"
she will have tears in her eyes, irrational tears which she cannot

He observes that one week his tender love-making and romantic
advances win her to smiles and joyous yielding, and then perhaps a
few days later the same, or more impassioned, tenderness on his part
is met by coldness or a forced appearance of warmth, which, while
he may make no comment upon it, hurts him acutely. And this deep,
inexplicable hurt is often the beginning of the end of his love. Men
like to feel that they understand their dearest one, and that she is
a rational being.

After inexplicable misunderstanding has continued for some time,
if the man is of at all a jealous nature he will search his wife's
acquaintances for someone whom she may have met, for someone who
may momentarily have diverted her attention. For however hard it is
for the natural man to believe that anyone could step into _his_
shoes, some are ready to seek the explanation of their own ill
success in a rival. On some occasion when her coldness puzzles him
the man is perhaps conscious that his love, his own desires, are as
ardent as they were a few days before; then, knowing so intimately
his own heart, he is sure of the steadiness of its love, and he
feels acutely the romantic passion to which her beauty stirs him; he
remembers perhaps that a few days earlier his ardour had awakened a
response in her; therefore, he reaches what appears to him to be the
infallible logical deduction--that either there must be some rival
or his bride's nature is incomprehensible, contrary, capricious.
Both thoughts to madden.

With capriciousness, man in general has little patience. Caprice
renders his best efforts null and void. Woman's caprice is, or
appears to be, a negation of reason. And as reason is man's most
precious and hard-won faculty, the one which has raised mankind
from the ranks of the brute creation, he cannot bear to see it
apparently flouted.

That his bride should lack logic and sweet reasonableness is a flaw
it hurts him to recognise in her. He has to crush the thought down.

It may then happen that the young man, himself pained and bewildered
at having pained his bride by the very ardour of his affection, may
strive to please her by placing restraint upon himself. He may ask
himself: Do not religious and many kinds of moral teachers preach
restraint to the man? He reads the books written for the guidance of
youth, and finds "restraint," "self-control," in general terms (and
often irrationally) urged in them all. His next step may then be
to curtail the expression of his tender feelings, and to work hard
and late in the evenings instead of kissing his bride's fingers and
coming to her for sweet communion in the dusk.

And then, if he is at all observant, he may be aggrieved and
astonished to find her again wistful or hurt. With the tender
longing to _understand_, which is so profound a characteristic in
all the best of our young men, he begs, implores, or pets her into
telling him some part of the reason for her fresh grievance. He
discovers to his amazement that _this_ time she is hurt because he
had not made those very advances which so recently had repelled her,
and had been with such difficulty repressed by his intellectual

He asks himself in despair: What is a man to do? If he is
"educated," he probably devours all the books on sex he can obtain.
But in them he is not likely to find much real guidance. He learns
from them that "restraint" is advised from every point of view,
but according to the character of the author he will find that
"restraint" means having the marriage relations with his wife not
more than three times a week, or once a month--or never at all
except for the procreation of children. He finds no _rational_
guidance based on natural law.

According to his temperament then, he may begin to practise

But it may happen, and indeed it has probably happened in every
marriage once or many times, that the night comes when the man who
has heroically practised restraint, accidentally discovers his wife
in tears on her solitary pillow.

He seeks for advice indirectly from his friends, perhaps from his
doctor. But can his local doctor or his friends tell him more than
the chief European authorities on this subject? The famous Professor
Forel ("The Sexual Question," transl. 1908) gives the following

     The reformer, Luther, who was a practical man, laid down the
     average rule of two or three connections a week in marriage, at
     the time of highest sexual power. I may say that my numerous
     observations as a physician have generally confirmed this rule,
     which seems to me to conform very well to the normal state to
     which _man_[2] has become gradually adapted during thousands
     of years. Husbands who would consider this average as an
     imprescriptable right would, however, make wrong pretensions,
     for it is quite possible for a normal man to contain himself
     much longer, and it is his duty to do so, not only when his wife
     is ill, but also during menstruation and pregnancy.

  [2] The italics are mine.--M. C. S. [see transcriber's note]

This pronouncement of an exceptionally advanced and broadminded
thinker serves to show how little attention has hitherto been paid
to the woman's side of this question, or to ascertaining _her_
natural requirements.

Many men will not be so considerate as to follow this advice, which
represents a high standard of living; but, on the other hand, there
are many who are willing to go not only so far, but further than
this in their self-suppression in order to attain their heart's
desire, the happiness of their mate, and consequently their own
life's joy.

However willing they may be to go further, the great question for
the man is: Where?

There are innumerable leaders anxious to lead in many different
directions. The young husband may try first one and then the other,
and still find his wife unsatisfied, incomprehensible--capricious.
Then it may be that, disheartened, he tires, and she sinks into the
dull apathy of acquiescence in her "wifely duty." He is left with
an echo of resentment in his heart. If only she had not been so
capricious, they would still have been happy, he fancies.

Many writers, novelists, poets and dramatists have represented the
uttermost tragedy of human life as due to the incomprehensible
contrariness of the feminine nature. The kindly ones smile, perhaps
a little patronisingly, and tell us that women are more instinctive,
more child-like, less reasonable than men. The bitter ones sneer
or reproach or laugh at this in women they do not understand, and
which, baffling _their_ intellect, appears to them to be irrational

It seems strange that those who search for natural law in every
province of our universe should have neglected the most vital
subject, the one which concerns us all infinitely more than the
naming of planets or the collecting of insects. Woman is _not_
essentially capricious; some of the laws of her being might have
been discovered long ago had the existence of law been suspected.
But it has suited the general structure of society much better for
men to shrug their shoulders and smile at women as irrational and
capricious creatures, to be courted when it suited them, not to be

Vaguely, perhaps, men have realised that much of the charm of life
lies in the sex-_differences_ between men and women; so they have
snatched at the easy theory that women differ from themselves by
being capricious. Moreover, by attributing to mere caprice the
coldness which at times comes over the most ardent woman, man was
unconsciously justifying himself for at any time coercing her to
suit himself.

Circumstances have so contrived that hitherto the explorers and
scientific investigators, the historians and statisticians, the
poets and artists have been mainly men. Consequently woman's side
of the joint life has found little or no expression. Woman has
been content to mould herself to the shape desired by man wherever
possible, and she has stifled her natural feelings and her own deep
thoughts as they welled up.

Most women have never realised intellectually, but many have been
dimly half-conscious, that woman's nature is set to rhythms over
which man has no more control than he has over the tides of the
sea. While the ocean can subdue and dominate man and laugh at his
attempted restrictions, woman has bowed to man's desire over her
body, and, regardless of its pulses, he approaches her or not as
is his will. Some of her rhythms defy him--the moon-month tide of
menstruation, the cycle of ten moon-months of bearing the growing
child and its birth at the end of the tenth wave--these are
essentials too strong to be mastered by man. But the subtler ebb and
flow of woman's sex has escaped man's observation or his care.

If a swimmer comes to a sandy beach when the tide is out and
the waves have receded, leaving sand where he had expected deep
blue water--does he, baulked of his bathe, angrily call the sea

But the tenderest bridegroom finds only caprice in his bride's
coldness when she yields her sacrificial body while her sex-tide is
at the ebb.

There is another side to this problem, one perhaps even less
considered by society. There is the tragic figure of the loving
woman whose love-tide is at the highest, and whose husband does
not recognise the delicate signs of her ardour. In our anæmic
artificial days it often happens that the man's desire is a surface
need, quickly satisfied, colourless, and lacking beauty, and that
he has no knowledge of the rich complexities of love-making which
an initiate of love's mysteries enjoys. To such a man his wife may
indeed seem petulant, capricious, or resentful without reason.

Welling up in her are the wonderful tides, scented and enriched by
the myriad experiences of the human race from its ancient days of
leisure and flower-wreathed love-making, urging her to transports
and to self-expressions, were the man but ready to take the first
step in the initiative or to recognise and welcome it in her. Seldom
dare any woman, still more seldom dare a wife, risk the blow at her
heart which would be given were she to offer charming love-play to
which the man did not respond. To the initiate she will be able to
reveal that the tide is up by a hundred subtle signs, upon which
he will seize with delight. But if her husband is blind to them
there is for her nothing but silence, self-suppression, and their
inevitable sequence of self-scorn, followed by resentment towards
the man who places her in such a position of humiliation while
talking of his "love."

So unaware of the elements of the physiological reactions of women
are many modern men that the case of Mrs. G. is not exceptional.
Her husband was accustomed to pet her and have relations with her
frequently, but yet he never took any trouble to rouse in her the
necessary preliminary feeling for mutual union. She had married as
a very ignorant girl, but often vaguely felt a sense of something
lacking in her husband's love. Her husband had never kissed her
except on the lips and cheek, but once at the crest of the wave of
her sex-tide (all unconscious that it was so) she felt a yearning to
feel his head, his lips, pressed against her bosom. The sensitive
inter-relation between a woman's breasts and the rest of her
sex-life is not only a bodily thrill, but there is a world of poetic
beauty in the longing of a loving woman for the unconceived child
which melts in mists of tenderness toward her lover, the soft touch
of whose lips can thus rouse her mingled joy. Because she shyly
asked him, Mrs. G.'s husband gave her one swift unrepeated kiss
upon her bosom. He was so ignorant that he did not know that her
husband's lips upon her breast melt a wife to tenderness and are one
of a husband's first and surest ways to make her physically ready
for complete union. In this way he inhibited her natural desire,
and as he never did anything to stir it, she never had any physical
pleasure in their relation. Such prudish or careless husbands,
content with their own satisfaction, little know the pent-up
aching, or even resentment, which may eat into a wife's heart, and
ultimately may affect her whole health.

Often the man is also the victim of the purblind social customs
which make sex-knowledge _tabu_.

It has become a tradition of our social life that the ignorance
of woman about her own body and that of her future husband is a
flower-like innocence. And to such an extreme is this sometimes
pushed, that not seldom is a girl married unaware that married
life will bring her into physical relations with her husband
fundamentally different from those with her brother. When she
discovers the true nature of his body, and learns the part she has
to play as a wife, she may refuse utterly to agree to her husband's
wishes. I know one pair of which the husband, chivalrous and loving,
had to wait years before his bride recovered from the shock of the
discovery of the meaning of marriage and was able to allow him a
natural relation. There have been not a few brides whom the horror
of the first night of marriage with a man less considerate has
driven to suicide or insanity.

That girls can reach a marriageable age without some knowledge
of the realities of marriage would seem incredible were it not a
fact. One highly-educated lady intimately known to me told me that
when she was about eighteen she suffered many months of agonising
apprehension that she was about to have a baby because a man had
snatched a kiss from her lips at a dance.

When girls so brought up are married it is a _rape_ for the husband
to insist on his "marital rights" at once. It will be difficult or
impossible for such a bride ever after to experience the joys of
sex-union, for such a beginning must imprint upon her consciousness
the view that the man's animal nature dominates him.

In a magazine I came across a poem which vividly expresses this
peculiarly feminine sorrow:

      ... To mate with men who have no soul above
      Earth grubbing; who, the bridal night, forsooth,
    Killed sparks that rise from instinct fires of life,
      And left us frozen things, alone to fashion
    Our souls to dust, masked with the name of wife--
      Long years of youth--love years--the years of passion
    Yawning before us. So, shamming to the end,
      All shrivelled by the side of him we wed,
    Hoping that peace may riper years attend,
      Mere odalisques are we--well housed, well fed.


Many men who enter marriage sincerely and tenderly may yet have some
previous experience of bought "love." It is then not unlikely that
they may fall into the error of explaining their wife's experiences
in terms of the reactions of the prostitute. They argue that,
because the prostitute showed physical excitement and pleasure in
union, if the bride or wife does not do so, then she is "cold"
or "under-sexed." They may not realise that often all the bodily
movements which the prostitute makes are studied and simulated
because her client enjoys his climax best when the woman in his arms
simultaneously thrills.

As Forel says ("The Sexual Question," 1908, Engl. trans.): "The
company of prostitutes often renders men incapable of understanding
feminine psychology, for prostitutes are hardly more than automata
trained for the use of male sensuality. When men look among these
for the sexual psychology of woman they find only their own mirror."

Fate is often cruel to men, too. More high-spirited young men than
the world imagines strive for and keep their purity to give their
brides; if such a man then marries a woman who is soiled, or, on the
other hand, one who is so "pure" and prudish that she denies him
union with her body, his noble achievement seems bitterly vain. On
the other hand, it may be that after years of fighting with his hot
young blood a man has given up and gone now and again for relief to
prostitutes, and then later in life has met the woman who is his
mate, and whom, after remorse for his soiled past, and after winning
her forgiveness for it, he marries. Then, unwittingly, he may make
the wife suffer either by interpreting her in the light of the other
women or perhaps (though this happens less frequently) by setting
her absolutely apart from them. I know of a man who, after a loose
life, met a woman whom he reverenced and adored. He married her, but
to preserve her "purity," her difference from the others, he never
consummated his marriage with her. She was strangely unhappy, for
she loved him passionately and longed for children. She appeared to
him to be pining "capriciously" when she became thin and neurotic.

Perhaps this man might have seen his own behaviour in a truer light
had he known that some creatures simply _die_ if unmated (see p. 123

The idea that woman is lowered by sex intercourse is very deeply
rooted in our present society. Many sources have contributed to
this mistaken idea, not the least powerful being the ascetic ideal
of the early Church and the fact that man has _used_ woman as his
instrument so often regardless of her wishes. Women's education,
therefore, and the trend of social feeling, has largely been in the
direction of freeing her from this and thus mistakenly encouraging
the idea that sex-life is a low, physical, and degrading necessity
which a pure woman is above enjoying.

In marriage the husband has used his "marital right"[3] of
intercourse when _he_ wished it. Both law and custom have
strengthened the view that he has the right to approach his wife
whenever he wishes, and that she has no wishes and no fundamental
needs in the matter at all.

  [3] "Conjugal Rights." Notes and Queries. May 16, 1891, p. 383.
  "S. writes from the Probate Registry, Somerset House: 'Previous to
  1733 legal proceedings were recorded in Latin and the word then
  used where we now speak of _rights_ was _obsequies_. For some time
  after the substitution of English for Latin the term _rites_ was
  usually, if not invariably adopted; _rights_ would appear to be a
  comparatively modern error.'"

  "Mr. T. E. Paget writes ('Romeo and Juliet,' Act V., Scene III.):

      "What cursed foot wanders this way to-night
      To cross my obsequies, and true lovers rite?"

  "Well may Lord Esher say he has never been able to make out what the
  phrase 'conjugal rights' means. The origin of the term is now clear,
  and a blunder, which was first made, perhaps, by a type-setter in
  the early part of the last century, and never exposed until now, has
  led to a vast amount of misapprehension. Here, too, is another proof
  that Shakespeare was exceedingly familiar with 'legal language.'"

That woman has a rhythmic sex-tide which, if its indications were
obeyed, would ensure not only her enjoyment, but would explode the
myth of her capriciousness, seems not to be suspected. We have
studied the wave-lengths of water, of sound, of light; but when will
the sons and daughters of men study the sex-tide in woman and learn
the laws of her Periodicity of Recurrence of desire?

Chapter IV.

The Fundamental Pulse

     The judgments of men concerning women are very rarely matters
     of cold scientific observation, but are coloured both by their
     own sexual emotions and by their own moral attitude toward the
     sexual impulse.... [Men's] Statements about the sexual impulses
     of women often tell us less about women than about the persons
     who make them.--H. ELLIS.

By the majority of "nice" people woman is supposed to have no
spontaneous sex impulses. By this I do not mean a sentimental
"falling in love," but a physical, a physiological state of
stimulation which arises spontaneously and quite apart from any
particular man. It is in truth the _creative_ impulse, and is an
expression of a high power of vitality. So widespread in our country
is the view that it is only depraved women who have such feelings
(especially before marriage) that most women would rather die than
own that they _do_ at times feel a physical yearning indescribable,
but as profound as hunger for food. Yet many, many women have shown
me the truth of their natures when I have simply and naturally
assumed that of course they feel it--being normal women--and have
asked them only: _When?_ From their replies I have collected facts
which are sufficient to overturn many ready-made theories about

Some of the ridiculous absurdities which go by the name of science
may be illustrated by the statement made by Windscheid in the
Centralblatt für Gynäkologie: "In the normal woman, especially
of the higher social classes, the sexual instinct is acquired,
not inborn; when it is inborn, or awakens by itself, there is
_abnormality_. Since women do not know this instinct before
marriage, they do not miss it when they have no occasion in life to
learn it." (Ellis transl.)

The negation of this view is expressed in the fable of Hera quoted
by Ellen Key. Hera sent Iris to earth to seek out three virtuous and
perfectly chaste maidens who were unsoiled by any dreams of love.
Iris found them, but could not take them back to Olympus, for they
had already been sent for to replace the superannuated Furies in the
infernal regions.

Nevertheless it is true that the whole education of girls, which so
largely consists in the concealment of the essential facts of life
from them; and the positive teaching so prevalent that the racial
instincts are low and shameful; and also the social condition which
places so many women in the position of depending on their husband's
will not only for the luxuries but for the necessaries of life, have
all tended to inhibit natural sex-impulses in women, and to conceal
and distort what remains.

It is also true that in our northern climate women are on the
whole naturally less persistently stirred than southerners; and
it is further true that with the delaying of maturity, due to our
ever-lengthening youth, it often happens that a woman is approaching
or even past thirty years before she is awake to the existence of
the profoundest calls of her nature. For many years before that,
however, the unrealised influence, diffused throughout her very
system, has profoundly affected her. It is also true that (partly
due to the inhibiting influences of our customs, traditions and
social code) women may marry before it wakes, and may remain long
after marriage entirely unconscious that it surges subdued within
them. For innumerable women, too, the husband's regular habits of
intercourse, claiming her both when she would naturally enjoy union
and when it is to some degree repugnant to her, have tended to
flatten out the billowing curves of the line of her natural desire.
One result, apparently little suspected, of using the woman as a
passive instrument for man's need has been, in effect, to make her
that and nothing more. Those men--and there are many--who complain
of the lack of ardour in good wives, are often themselves entirely
the cause of it. When a woman is claimed at times when she takes no
_natural_ pleasure in union, it reduces her vitality, and tends to
kill her power of enjoying it when the love season returns.

It is certainly true of women as they have been made by the
inhibitions of modern conditions, that most of them are only fully
awake to the existence of sex after marriage. As we are human
beings, the social, intellectual, spiritual side of the love-choice
have tended to mask the basic physiological aspect of women's
sex-life. To find a woman in whom the currents are not all so
entangled that the whole is inseparable into factors, is not easy,
but I have found that wives (particularly happy wives whose feelings
are not complicated by the stimulus of another love) who have been
separated from their husbands for some months through professional
or business duties--whose husbands, for instance, are abroad--are
the women from whom the best and most definitive evidence of a
fundamental rhythm of feeling can be obtained. Such women, yearning
daily for the tender comradeship and nearness of their husbands,
find, in addition, at particular times, an accession of longing for
the close physical union of the final sex-act. Many such separated
wives feel this; and those I have asked to keep notes of the
dates, have, with remarkable unanimity, told me that these times
came specially just before and some week or so after the close of
menstruation, coming, that is, about every fortnight. It is from
such women that I got the first clue to the knowledge of what I call
the Law of Periodicity of Recurrence of desire in women.

This law it is possible to represent graphically as a curved line; a
succession of crests and hollows as in all wave-lines. Its simplest
and most fundamental expression, however, is generally immensely
complicated by other stimulations which may bring into it diverse
series of waves, or irregular wave-crests. We have all, at some
time, watched the regular ripples of the sea breaking against a
sand-bank, and noticed that the influx of another current of water
may send a second system of waves at right angles to the first,
cutting athwart them, so that the two series of waves pass through
each other.

Woman is so sensitive and responsive an instrument, and so liable
in our modern civilised world to be influenced by innumerable sets
of stimuli, that it is perhaps scarcely surprising that the deep,
underlying waves of her primitive sex-tides have been obscured, and
entangled so that their regular sequence has been masked in the
choppy turmoil of her sea, and their existence has been largely
unsuspected, and apparently quite unstudied.

For some years I have been making as scientific and detailed a study
as possible of this extremely complex problem. Owing to the frank
and scientific attitude of a number of women, and the ready and
intimate confidence of many more, I have obtained a number of most
interesting facts from which I think it is already possible to
deduce a generalisation which is illuminating, and may be of great
medical and sociological value. A detailed statement of this will be
given in a scientific publication, but as it bears very intimately
on the subject of the present chapter, a short and simple account of
my conclusions must be given here.

It is first necessary to consider several other features of woman's
life, however.

The obvious moon-month rhythm in woman, so obvious that it _cannot_
be overlooked, has been partially studied in its relation to some of
the ordinary functions of her life. Experiments have been made to
show its influence on the rate of breathing, the muscular strength,
the temperature, the keenness of sight, etc., and these results have
even been brought together and pictured in a single curved diagram
supposed to show the variability in woman's capacities at the
different times in her twenty-eight-day cycle.

But it brings home to one how little original work even in this
field has yet been done, that the same identical diagram is repeated
from book to book, and in Marshall's Physiology it is "taken from
Sellheim," in Havelock Ellis "from Von Ott," and in other books is
re-copied and attributed to still other sources, but it is always
the same old diagram.

This diagram is reproduced by one learned authority after another,
yet nearly every point on which this curve is based appears to have
been disputed.

According to this curve, woman's vitality rises during the few days
before menstruation, sinks to its lowest ebb during menstruation and
rises shortly after, and then runs nearly level till it begins to
rise again before the next menstrual period. This simple curve may
or may not be true for woman's temperature, muscular strength, and
the other relatively simple things which have been investigated. My
work and observations on a large number of women all go to show that
this curve does _not_ represent the waves of woman's sex-vitality.

The whole subject is so complex and so little studied that it is
difficult to enter upon it at all without going into many details
which may seem remote or dull to the general reader. Even a question
which we must all have asked, and over which we have probably
pondered in vain--namely, what is menstruation?--cannot yet be
answered. To the lay mind it would seem that this question should be
answerable at once by any doctor; but many medical men are still far
from being able to reply to it even approximately correctly. (See
also Appendix, note 2.)

There are a good many slight variations among us, ranging from a
three to a five weeks "month," but the majority of the women of our
race have a moon-month of twenty-eight days, once during which comes
the flow of menstruation. If we draw out a chart with succeeding
periods of twenty-eight days each, looking on each period as a unit:
When in this period is it that a normal healthy woman feels desire
or any up-welling of her sex-tides?

The few statements which are made in general medical and
physiological literature on the subject of sex feeling in women
are generally very guarded and vague. Marshall ("Physiology of
Reproduction," p. 138), for instance, says: "The period of most
acute sexual feeling is generally just after the close of the
menstrual period." Ellis speaks of desire being stronger before and
sometimes also after menstruation, and appears to lean to the view
that it is natural for desire to coincide with the menstrual flow.

After the most careful inquiries I have come to the conclusion
that the general confusion regarding this subject is due partly
to the great amount of variation which exists between different
individuals, and partly to the fact that very few women have any
idea of taking any scientific interest in life, and partly to the
fact that the more profound, fundamental rhythm of sex desire which
I have come to the conclusion exists or is potential in every
normal woman, is covered over or masked by the more superficial
and temporary influences due to a great variety of stimuli or
inhibitions in modern life. For the present consideration I have
tried to disentangle the profound and natural rhythm from the more
irregular surface waves.

The chart given opposite may assist in making graphically clear
what has been said in these last few pages. It is compounded
from a number of individual records, and shows a fair average
chart of the rhythmic sequence of superabundance and flagging
in woman's sex-vitality. The tops of the wave-crests come with
remarkable regularity, so that there are two wave-crests in each
twenty-eight-day month. The one comes on the two or three days just
_before_ menstruation, the other after; but after menstruation
has ceased there is a nearly level interval, bringing the next
wave-crest to the two or three days which come about eight or nine
days after the close of menstruation--that is, just round the
fourteen days, or half the moon month, since the last wave-crest.
If this is put in its simplest way, one may say that there are
fortnightly periods of desire, arranged so that one period comes
always just _before_ each menstrual flow. According to her
vitality at the time, and the general health of the woman, the
length of each desire-period, or, as we might say, the size and
complexity of each wave-crest, depends. Sometimes for the whole of
as much as, or even more than three days, she may be ardently and
quite naturally stimulated, while at another time the same woman, if
she is tired and over-worked, may be conscious of desire for only a
few hours, or even less.

  [Illustration: CHART I. Curve showing the Periodicity of
  Recurrence of natural desire in healthy women. Various causes make
  slight irregularities in the position, size and duration of the
  "wave crests," but the general rhythmic sequence is apparent.

  (_to face page 32_)]

  [Illustration: CHART II.

       Curve showing the depressing effects on the "wave-crests" of
       fatigue and over-work. Crest _a_ represented only by a feeble
       and transient up-welling. Shortly before and during the time of
       the crest _d_ Alpine air restored the vitality of the subject.
       The increased vitality is shown by the height and number of the
       apices of this wave-crest.

  (_to face page 33_)]

The effects of fatigue, city life, bad feeding, and, indeed, of
most outward circumstances may be very marked, and may for years,
or all her life, so reduce her vitality that a woman may never have
experienced any spontaneous sex-impulse at all.

The effects of fatigue, which reduces the vital energy, even in
a normal, strongly sexed woman, can be seen in the second curve
opposite, where at _a_ the intermediate wave-crest is very much
reduced. This is not a generalised chart, but a detailed record of
an actual individual case.

Curves similar to those shown facing page 32 represent
in general terms a simplified view of what my research leads me to
believe to be the normal, spontaneous sex tide in women of our race.
As one young married woman confided to me, her longing for bodily
union with her husband, as distinct from her longing for his daily
companionship, seemed to well up naturally like "clockwork," and
this during his long absence. But human beings vary remarkably in
every particular, and just as no two people have the same features,
so no two people would have _absolutely_ identical curves were
they recorded in sufficient detail. Many a woman is particularly
conscious of only one sex-impulse in each moon-month. Of such
women, some feel the period which comes before menstruation, and
some feel the one which follows it. In those who generally feel only
one, the second period is sometimes felt when they are particularly
well, or only when they read exciting novels, or meet the man
they love at a time coinciding with the natural, but suppressed,
time of desire. There are a few women, who seem to be really a
little abnormal, who feel the strongest desire actually during the
menstrual flow.

If anyone who reads this thinks to test my view by questioning a
number of women, the result will probably appear very conflicting,
partly because it is not often that women will tell the truth about
such a thing, and partly because in the larger number of women
either one or the other period is the more acute and is the one
they observe in themselves--if they have observed anything. But a
delicate and more accurate investigation of such cases will often
bring to light the existence of the second crest of vitality. Once
the fundamental idea is grasped, much that appeared obscure or of
no significance becomes plain and full of meaning. One lady doctor
with whom I discussed my view at once said that it illuminated many
observations she had made on her patients, but had not brought
together or explained.

There is but little evidence to be found in scientific works on
sex, but an interesting instance is mentioned by Forel ("The Sexual
Question," Engl. Transl. page 92) in another connection. He says:
"A married woman confessed to me, when I reproached her for being
unfaithful to her husband, that she desired coitus at least once
a fortnight, and that when her husband was not there she took the
first comer." Forel did not see any law in this. We may perhaps all
see in her want of self-control a grievous _moral_ abnormality, but
in her fortnightly periods of desire she fits perfectly into the
physiological law which, it appears to me, governs the normal sex
tides of our race.

In this connection it is of interest to note the decrees of the
Mosaic Law regarding marriage intercourse. Not only was all
intercourse with a woman during her menstruation period very
heavily punished (see Leviticus xx. 18: "If a man lie with a woman
having her sickness ... both of them shall be cut off from among
their people"), but the Mosaic Law provided that women should be
protected from intercourse for some days _after_ each such period.
The results obtained by my independent investigation thus find some
support in this ancient wisdom of the East. Modern writers are
inclined to deride the Mosaic Law on the ground that it prohibits
intercourse just at the time when _they think_ sex feeling should
be strongest. But it does not appear on what grounds they make the
latter statement, nor do they give any scientific data in support
of it. Thus Galabin in his Manual of Midwifery says: "In the Jewish
law women are directed to abstain[4] from coitus during menstruation
and for seven days after its cessation. Strict observers of the
law are said to go beyond what is commanded in Leviticus, and even
if discharge lasts only for an hour or two, to observe five days
during which the discharge might last, for the period itself, and
add to these seven clear days, making twelve in all. It is much
to be doubted whether a whole nation was ever induced to practise
abstinence at the period of most acute sexual feeling." But, as will
readily be recognised, the old Jewish plan of having twelve clear
days after the beginning of menstruation before the next union is in
almost exact harmony with the Law of Periodicity of Recurrence of
women's desire shown in my charts, pp. 32, 33.

  [4] NOTE.--In Leviticus xv. it is the _man_ who is directed to
  abstain from touching the woman at this period, and who is rendered
  unclean if he does.--M. C. S.

These comparatively simple curves represent what I would postulate
as the normal spontaneous up-welling of natural desire in woman.
These are the foundations on which the edifice of the physical
expression of love may be built. It must not be forgotten, however,
that, particularly in modern luxurious life, there are innumerable
excitements which may _stimulate_ sexual feeling, just as there are
many factors in our life which tend to inhibit or retard it. A woman
may be, like a man, so swayed by a great love that there is not a
day in the whole month when her lover's touch, his voice, the memory
of his smile, does not stir her into the thrilling longing for the
uttermost union. Hence it is often difficult, particularly for a
woman dwelling with the man she loves, to recognise this rhythm in
herself, for she may be perpetually stimulated by her love and by
his being.

I am convinced, however, that ordinarily, whether she recognises it
by outward signs or not, a fortnightly rhythm profoundly influences
the average woman, and hence that it fundamentally affects the
marriage relation in every way. The burning magnificence of an
overpowering life-long love is not given to many, and a husband who
desires lasting and mutual happiness in his marriage will carefully
study his wife, observe how far she has a normal rhythm, and in what
she has little personal traits. He will then endeavour to adapt his
demands on her so that they are in harmony with her nature.

This mutual adaptation is not an entirely simple matter, and will be
considered in the next chapter.

Chapter V.

Mutual Adjustment

     "Love worketh no ill to his neighbour."--St. Paul.

In the average man of our race desire knows no season beyond the
slight slackening of the winter months and the heightening of
spring. Some men have observed in themselves a faintly-marked
monthly rhythm; but in the majority of men desire, even if held in
stern check, is merely slumbering. It is always present, ever ready
to wake at the lightest call, and often so spontaneously insistent
as to require perpetual conscious repression.

It would go ill with the men of our race had women retained the wild
animals' infrequent seasonal rhythm, and with it her inviolable
rights in her own body save at the mating season. Woman, too, has
acquired a much more frequent rhythm; but, as it does not equal
man's, he has tended to ignore and over-ride it, coercing her at all
times and seasons, either by force, or by the even more compelling
power of "divine" authority and social tradition.

If man's desire is perpetual and woman's intermittent; if man's
desire naturally wells up every day or every few days, and woman's
only every fortnight or every month, it may appear at first sight
impossible for the unwarped needs of both natures simultaneously to
be satisfied.

The sense that a satisfactory mutual adjustment is not within the
realms of possibility has, indeed, obsessed our race for centuries.
The result has been that the supposed need of one of the partners
has tended to become paramount, and we have established the social
traditions of a husband's "rights" and wifely "duty." As one man
quite frankly said to me: "As things are it is impossible for both
sexes to get what they want. One _must_ be sacrificed. And it is
better for society that it should be the woman."

Nevertheless, the men who consciously sacrifice the women are in
a minority. Most men act in ignorance. Our code, however, has
blindly sacrificed not only the woman, but with her the happiness
of the majority of men, who, in total ignorance of its meaning
and results, have grown up thinking that women should submit to
regularly frequent, or even nightly, intercourse. For the sake of a
few moments of physical pleasure they lose realms of ever-expanding
joy and tenderness; and while men and women may not realise the
existence of an untrodden paradise, they both suffer, if only half
consciously, from being shut out from it.

Before making some suggestions which may help married people to find
not only a _via media_ of mutual endurance, but a _via perfecta_
of mutual joy, it is necessary to consider a few points about the
actual nature of man's "desire." In the innumerable books addressed
to the young which I have read, I have not found one which gives
certain points regarding the meaning of the male sex-phenomena which
must be grasped before it is possible to give rational guidance to
intelligent young men. The general ground plan of our physiology
is told to us in youth because it so obviously is right for us to
know it accurately and in a clean scientific way, rather than to be
perpetually perplexed by fantastic imaginings. But the physiology
of our most profoundly disturbing functions is ignored--in my
opinion, criminally ignored. To describe the essentials, simple,
direct and scientific language is necessary, though it may surprise
those who are accustomed only to the hazy vagueness which has
led to so much misapprehension of the truth. Every mating man and
woman should know the following: The sex organs of a man consist
not only of the tissues which give rise to the living, moving,
ciliated cells, the _sperms_, and of the penis through which they
pass and by means of which they are directed into the proper place
for their deposition, the woman's vagina. Associated with these
primary and essential structures there are other tissues and glands
which have numerous subsidiary but yet very important parts to
play; some of which influence almost every organ in the body. Man's
penis, when unstimulated, is soft, small and drooping. But when
stimulated, either by physical touch which acts through the nerves
and muscles directly, or indirectly through messages from the brain,
it increases greatly in size, and becomes stiff, turgid and erect.
Many men imagine that the turgid condition of an erection is due
to the local accumulation of sperms, and that these can only be
naturally got rid of by an ejaculation. This is entirely wrong. The
enlargement of the penis is not at all due to the presence of actual
sperm, but is due to the effects of the nervous reaction on the
blood-vessels, leading to the filling, principally of the _veins_,
and much less of the arteries. As the blood enters but does not
leave the penis, the venous cavities in it fill up with venous blood
until the whole is rigid. When rigid this organ is able to penetrate
the female entrance, and there the further stimulation of contact
calls out the sperms from their storehouses, the seminal vesicles,
and they pass down the channel (the urethra) and are expelled.
If this is clear, it will be realised that the stiffening and
erection does not _necessarily_ call for relief in the ejaculation
of sperm. If the veins can empty themselves, as they naturally do
when the nervous excitement which restricted them locally passes,
the erection will subside without any loss of sperms, by the mere
passing back of the locally excessive blood into the ordinary
circulatory system. This can happen quite naturally and healthily
when the nerves are soothed, either physically or as a result of a
sense of mental peace and exaltation. When, on the other hand, the
local excitement culminates in the calling up and expulsion of the
sperms, after it has once started the ejaculation becomes quite
involuntary and the sperms and the secretions associated with them
pass out of the system and are entirely lost.

Of what does this loss consist? It is estimated that there are
somewhere between two and five hundred million sperms in a single
average ejaculation.[5] Each single one of these (in healthy men) is
capable of fertilising a woman's egg-cell and giving rise to a new
human being. (Thus by a single ejaculation one man might fertilise
nearly all the marriageable women in the world!) Each single one of
those minute sperms carries countless hereditary traits, and each
consists very largely of nuclear plasm--the most highly-specialised
and richest substance in our bodies. It is not surprising,
therefore, to find that the analysis of the chemical nature of
the ejaculated fluid reveals among other things a remarkably high
percentage of calcium and phosphoric acid--both precious substances
in our organisation.

  [5] See Pflügers Archiv., 1891.

It is therefore the greatest mistake to imagine that the semen is
something to be got rid of _frequently_--all the vital energy and
the precious chemical substances which go to its composition can be
better utilised by being transformed into other creative work on
most days of the month. And so mystic and wonderful are the chemical
transformations going on in our bodies that the brain can often
set this alchemy in motion, particularly if the brain is helped by
_knowledge_. A strong will can often calm the nerves which regulate
the blood supply, and order the distended veins of the penis to
retract and subside without wasting the semen in an ejaculation.

But while it is good that a man should be able to do this often, it
is not good to try to do it always. The very restraint which adds
to a man's strength up to a point, taxes his strength when carried
beyond it. It is my belief that just sufficient restraint to carry
him through the ebb-tides of his wife's sex-rhythm is usually the
right amount to give the best strength, vigour, and joy to a man if
both are normal people. If the wife has, as I think the majority of
healthy, well-fed young women will be found to have, a fortnightly
consciousness or unconscious _potentiality_ of desire, then the
two should find a perfect mutual adjustment in having fortnightly
unions; for this need not be confined to only a single union on
such occasion. Many men, who can well practise restraint for twelve
or fourteen days, will find that one union only will not then
thoroughly satisfy them; and if they have the good fortune to have
healthy wives, they will find that the latter, too, have the desire
for several unions in the course of a day or two. If the wave-crests
facing page 32 are studied, it will be seen that they spread over
two or three days and show several small minor crests. This is what
happens when a woman is thoroughly well and vital; her desire
recurs during a day or two, sometimes even every few hours if it
does not, and sometimes even when it does, receive satisfaction.

Expressed in general terms (which, of course, will not fit
everybody) my view may be formulated thus: The mutually best
regulation of intercourse in marriage is to have three or four days
of repeated unions, followed by about ten days without any unions
at all, unless some strong external stimulus has stirred a mutual

I have been interested to discover that the people known to me who
have accidentally fixed upon this arrangement of their lives are
_happy_: and it should be noted that it fits in with the charts I
give which represent the normal, spontaneous feeling of so many

There are many women, however, who do not feel, or who may not
at first recognise, a second, but have only one time of natural
pleasure in sex in each moon-month. Many men of strong will and
temperate lives will be able so to control themselves that they can
adjust themselves to this more restrained sex-life, as do some with
whom I am acquainted. On the other hand, there will be many who find
this period too long to live through without using a larger amount
of energy in restraining their impulse than is justifiable. It seems
to me never justifiable to spend so much energy and will power on
restraining natural impulses, that valuable work and intellectual
power and poise are made to suffer. If, then, a strongly-sexed
husband, who finds it a real loss to his powers of work to endure
through twenty-six days of abstinence, should find himself married
to a wife whose vitality is so low that she can only take pleasure
in physical union once in her moon-month (in some it will be before,
in some a little time after, her menstrual flow), he should note
carefully the time she is spontaneously happy in their union, and
then at any cost restrain himself through the days immediately
following, and about a fortnight after her time of desire he should
set himself ardently to woo her. Unless she is actually out of
health he is more likely then than at any other time to succeed not
only in winning her compliance, but also in giving her the proper
feeling and attaining mutual ecstasy.

The husband who so restrains himself, even if it is hard to do it,
will generally find that he is a thousand-fold repaid not only
by the increasing health and happiness of his wife, and the much
intenser pleasure he gains from their mutual intercourse, but also
by his own added vitality and sense of self-command. A fortnight is
not too long for a healthy man to restrain himself with advantage.

Sir Thomas Clouston says ("Before I Wed," 1913, page 84): "Nature
has so arranged matters that the more constantly control is
exercised the more easy and effective it becomes. It becomes a
habit. The less control is exercised the greater tendency there
is for a desire to become a _craving_ of an uncontrollable kind,
which is itself of the nature of disease, and means death sooner or
later." This conclusion is not only the result of the intellectual
and moral experience of our race, but is supported by physiological

While a knowledge of the fundamental laws of our being should in the
main regulate our lives, so complex are we, so sensitive to a myriad
impressions, that clock-work regularity can never rule us.

Even where the woman is strongly sexed, with a well-marked
recurrence of desire, which is generally satisfied by fortnightly
unions, it may not infrequently happen that, in between these
periods, there may be additional special occasions when there
springs up a mutual longing to unite. These will generally depend
on some event in the lovers' lives which stirs their emotions; some
memory of past passion, such as an anniversary of their wedding, or
perhaps will be due to a novel, poem, or picture which moves them
deeply. If the man she loves plays the part of tender wooer, even
at times when her passion would not _spontaneously_ arise, a woman
can generally be stirred so fundamentally as to give a passionate
return. But at the times of her ebb-tides the stimulus will have to
be stronger than at the high tides, and it will then generally be
found that the appeal must be made even more through her emotional
and spiritual nature and less through the physical than usual.

The supreme law for husbands is: Remember that each act of union
must be tenderly wooed for and won, and that no union should ever
take place unless the woman also desires it and is made physically
ready for it. (See page 47.)

While in most marriages the husband has to restrain himself to meet
the wife's less frequently recurrent rhythm, there are, on the other
hand, marriages in which the husband is so under-sexed that he
cannot have ordinary union save at very infrequent intervals without
a serious effect on his health. If such a man is married to a woman
who has inherited an unusually strong and over-frequent desire, he
may suffer by union with her, or may cause her suffering by refusing
to unite. It is just possible that for such people the method of
Karezza (see Dr. A. Stockham's book "Karezza"[6] on the subject)
might bring them both the health and peace they need; conserving the
man's vital energy from the loss of which he suffers, and giving the
woman the sense of union and physical nerve-soothing she requires.
But the variations in the sex-needs and the sex-ideas of different
healthy people are immense, far greater than can be suggested in
this book.

  [6] This book is now out of print, but can be seen at the British

Ellis states that the Queen of Aragon ordained that six times a day
was the proper rule in legitimate marriage! So abnormally sexed
a woman would today probably succeed in killing by exhaustion a
succession of husbands, for the man who could match such a desire is
rare, though perhaps less exceptional than such a woman.

Though the timing and the frequency of union are the points about
which questions are oftenest asked by the ignorant and well-meaning,
and are most misunderstood, yet there are other fundamental facts
concerning coitus about which even medical men seem surprisingly
ignorant. Regarding these, a simple statement of the physiological
facts is essential.

An impersonal and scientific knowledge of the structure of our
bodies is the surest safeguard against prurient curiosity and
lascivious gloating. This knowledge at the back of the minds of the
lovers, though not perhaps remembered as such, may also spare the
unintentioned cruelty of behaviour which so readily injures one
whose lover is ignorant.

What actually happens in an act of union should be known. After
the preliminaries have mutually roused the pair, the stimulated
penis, enlarged and stiffened, is pressed into the woman's vagina.
Ordinarily when a woman is not stimulated, the entrance to this
canal, as well as the exterior lips of soft tissue surrounding it,
are dry and rather crinkled, and the vaginal opening is smaller
than the man's distended penis. But when the woman is what is
physiologically called tumescent (that is, when she is ready for
union and has been profoundly stirred) local parts are flushed by
the internal blood supply and to some extent are turgid like those
of the man, while a secretion of mucus lubricates the opening
of the vagina. In an ardent woman the vaginal orifice may even
spontaneously contract and relax. (So powerful is the influence of
thought upon our bodily structure, that in some people all these
physical results may be brought about by the thought of the loved
one, by the enjoyment of tender words and kisses, and the beautiful
subtleties of wooing.) It can therefore be readily imagined that
when the man tries to enter a woman whom he has _not_ wooed to the
point of stimulating her natural physical reactions of preparation,
he is endeavouring to force his entry through a dry-walled opening
too small for it. He may thus cause the woman actual pain, apart
from the mental revolt and loathing she is likely to feel for a man
who so regardlessly uses her. On the other hand, in the tumescent
woman the opening, already naturally prepared, is lubricated by
mucus, and all the nerves and muscles are ready to react and easily
accept the man's entering organ. This account is of the meeting
of two who have been already married. The first union of a virgin
girl differs, of course, from all others, for on that occasion the
hymen is broken. One would think that every girl who was about
to be married would be told of this necessary rupturing of the
membrane and the temporary pain it would cause her; but even still
large numbers of girls are allowed to marry in complete and cruel

It should be realised that a man does not woo and win a woman
once for all when he marries her: _he must woo her before every
separate act of coitus_, for each act corresponds to a marriage as
other creatures know it. Wild animals are not so foolish as man;
a wild animal does not unite with his female without the wooing
characteristic of his race, whether by stirring her by a display
of his strength in fighting another male, or by exhibiting his
beautiful feathers or song. And we must not forget that the wild
animals are assisted by nature; they generally only woo just at the
season when the female is beginning to feel natural desire. But man,
who wants his mate all out of season as well as in it, has a double
duty to perform, and must himself rouse, charm, and stimulate her to
the local readiness which would have been to some extent naturally
prepared for him had he waited till her own desire welled up.

To render a woman ready before uniting with her is not only the
merest act of humanity to save her pain, but is of value from the
man's point of view, for (unless he is one of those relatively few
abnormal and diseased variants who delight only in rape) the man
gains an immense increase of sensation from the mutuality thus
attained, and the health of both the man and the woman is most
beneficially affected.

Assuming now that the two are in the closest mental and spiritual,
as well as sensory harmony: in what position should the act be
consummated? Men and women, looking into each other's eyes, kissing
tenderly on the mouth, with their arms round each other, meet face
to face. And that position is symbolic of the coming together of the
two who meet together gladly.

It seems incredible that to-day educated men should be found
who--apparently on theological grounds--refuse to countenance any
other position. Yet one wife told me that she was crushed and nearly
suffocated by her husband, so that it took her hours to recover
after each union, but that "on principle" he refused to attempt any
other position than the one he chose to consider normal. Mutual
well-being should be the guide for each pair. (See Addition, p.

It is perhaps not generally realised how great are the variations
of size, shape, and position of all the sex parts of the body in
different individuals, yet they differ more even than the size
and characters of all the features of the face and hands. It
happens, therefore, that the position which suits most people is
unsatisfactory for others. Some, for instance, can only benefit by
union when both are lying on their sides. Though medically this is
generally considered unfavourable or prohibitive for conception, yet
I know women who have had several children and whose husbands always
used this position. In this matter every couple should find out for
themselves which of the many possible positions best suits them

When the two have met and united, the usual result is that, after
a longer or shorter interval, the man's mental and physical
stimulation reaches a climax in sensory intoxication and in the
ejaculation of semen. Where the two are perfectly adjusted, the
woman simultaneously reaches the crisis of nervous and muscular
reactions very similar to his. This mutual orgasm is extremely
important (see also p. 58), but in many cases the man's climax comes
so swiftly that the woman's reactions are not nearly ready, and she
is left without it. Though in some instances the woman may have one
or more crises before the man achieves his, it is, perhaps, hardly
an exaggeration to say that 70 or 80 per cent. of our married women
(in the middle classes) are deprived of the full orgasm through
the excessive speed of the husband's reactions, or through some
mal-adjustment of the relative shapes and positions of the organs.
So deep-seated, so profound, are woman's complex sex-instincts as
well as her organs, that in rousing them the man is rousing her
whole body and soul. And this takes time. More time, indeed, than
the average, uninstructed husband gives to it. Yet woman has at
the surface a small vestigial organ called the clitoris, which
corresponds morphologically to the man's penis, and which, like it,
is extremely sensitive to touch-sensations. This little crest, which
lies anteriorly between the inner lips round the vagina, enlarges
when the woman is really tumescent, and by the stimulation of
movement it is intensely roused and transmits this stimulus to every
nerve in her body. But even after a woman's dormant sex-feeling is
aroused and all the complex reactions of her being have been set in
motion, it may even take as much as from ten to twenty minutes of
actual physical union to consummate her feeling, while two or three
minutes often completes the union for a man who is ignorant of the
need to control his reactions so that both may experience the added
benefit of a mutual crisis to love.

A number of well-meaning people demand from men absolute
"continence" save for procreation only. They overlook the
innumerable physiological reactions concerned in the act, as well as
the subtle spiritual alchemy of it, and propound the view that "the
opposition to continence, save for procreation only, has but one
argument to put forward, and that is appetite, selfishness." (_The
Way of God in Marriage._)

I maintain, however, that it should be realised that the complete
act of union is a triple consummation. It symbolises, and at the
same time actually enhances, the spiritual union; there are a myriad
subtleties of soul-structures which are compounded in this alchemy.
At the same time the act gives the most intense physical pleasure
and benefit which the body can experience, and it is a _mutual_,
not a selfish, pleasure and profit, more calculated than anything
else to draw out an unspeakable tenderness and understanding in both
partakers of this sacrament; while, thirdly, it is the act which
gives rise to a new life by rendering possible the fusion of one of
the innumerable male sperms with the female egg-cell.

It often happens nowadays that, dreading the expense and the
physical strain of child-bearing for his wife, the husband practises
what is called _coitus interruptus_--that is, he withdraws just
before the ejaculation, but when he is already so stimulated that
the ejaculation has become involuntary. In this way the semen is
spent, but, as it does not enter the wife's body, fertilisation
and, consequently, procreation cannot take place. This practice,
while it may have saved the woman the anguish of bearing unwanted
children, is yet very harmful to her, and is to be deprecated.
It tends to leave the woman in "mid-air" as it were; to leave
her stimulated and unsatisfied, and therefore it has a very bad
effect on her nerves and general health, particularly if it is done
frequently. The woman, too, loses the advantage (and I am convinced
that it is difficult to overstate the physiological advantage) of
the partial absorption of the man's secretions, which must take
place through the large tract of internal epithelium with which they
come in contact. If, as physiology has already proved is the case,
the internal absorption of secretions from the sex organs plays so
large a part in determining the health and character of remote parts
of the body, it is extremely likely that the highly stimulating
secretion of man's semen can and does penetrate and affect the
woman's whole organism. Actual experiment has shown that iodine
placed in the vagina in solution is so quickly absorbed by the
epithelial walls that in an hour it has penetrated the system and
is even being excreted. It still remains, however, for scientific
experiments to be devised which will enable us to study the effects
of the absorption of substances from the semen. On the other hand,
_coitus interruptus_ is not always harmful for the man, for he has
the complete sex-act, though a good many men think its effects on
them are undesirable, and it may lead to lack of desire or even
impotence toward his wife in a man who practises it with her, or,
on the other hand, to a too swift fresh desire from the lack of
complete resolution of nervous tension. It is certainly bad when its
safety from consequences induces him to frequent indulgence, for
thus wastefully to scatter what should be _creative power_ is to
reduce his own vitality and power of work (see also page 41).
By those who have a high appreciation of the value of their
creative impulse, and who wish to know the mutual pleasure and
enhancement of sex-union without wasting it, this method should not
be practised.

It should never be forgotten that without the discipline of control
there is no lasting delight in erotic feeling. The fullest delight,
even in a purely physical sense, can _only_ be attained by those who
curb and direct their natural impulses.

Dr. Saleeby's words are appropriate in this connection (Introduction
to Forel's "Sexual Ethics," 1908): "Professor Forel speaks of
subduing the sexual instinct. I would rather speak of transmuting
it. The direct method of attack is often futile, always necessitous
of effort, but it is possible for us to transmute our sex-energy
into higher forms in our individual lives, thus justifying the
evolutionary and physiological contention that it is the source
of the higher activities of man, of moral indignation, and of the
'restless energy' which has changed the surface of the earth."

Forel says ("The Sexual Question," 1908): "Before engaging in a
life-long union, a man and woman ought to explain to each other
their sexual feelings so as to avoid deception and incompatibility
later on." This would be admirable advice were it possible for a
virgin girl to know much about the reactions and effects upon her
mind and body of the act of coitus, but she does not. Actually it
often takes several years for eager and intelligent couples fully
to probe themselves and to discover the extent and meaning of the
immensely profound physiological and spiritual results of marriage.
Yet it is true that a noble frankness would save much misery when,
as happens not infrequently, one or other of the pair marry with
the secret determination to have no children.

So various are we all as individuals, so complex all the reactions
and inter-actions of sex relations, that no hard-and-fast rule can
be laid down. Each couple, after marriage, must study themselves,
and the lover and the beloved must do what best serves them both and
gives them the highest degree of mutual joy and power. There are,
however, some laws which should be inviolable. Their details can be
gathered from the preceding pages, and they are summed up in the
words: "Love worketh no ill to the beloved."

Chapter VI.


     He giveth His Beloved Sleep.

The healing magic of sleep is known to all. Sleeplessness is a
punishment for so many different violations of nature's laws, that
it is perhaps one of the most prevalent of humanity's innumerable
sufferings. While most of the aspects of sleep and sleeplessness
have received much attention from specialists in human physiology,
the relation between sleep and coitus appears to be but little
realised. Yet there is an intimate, profound and quite direct
relation between the power to sleep, naturally and refreshingly, and
the harmonious relief of the whole system in the perfected sex-act.

We see this very clearly in ordinary healthy man. If, for some
reason, he has to live unsatisfied for some time after the acute
stirring of his longing for physical contact with his wife, he tends
in the interval to be wakeful, restless, and his nerves are on edge.

Then, when the propitious hour arrives, and after the love-play, the
growing passion expands, until the transports of feeling find their
ending in the explosive completion of the act, at once the tension
of his whole system relaxes, and his muscles fall into gentle, easy
attitudes of languorous content, and in a few moments the man is
sleeping like a child.

This excellent and refreshing sleep falls like a soft curtain
of oblivion and saves the man's consciousness from the jar and
disappointment of an anti-climax. But not only is this sleep a
restorative after the strenuous efforts of the transport, it has
peculiarly refreshing powers, and many men feel that after such a
sleep their whole system seems rejuvenated.

But how fare women in this event? When they too have had complete
satisfaction they similarly relax and slumber.

But as things are to-day it is scarcely an exaggeration to say that
the majority of wives are left wakeful and nerve-racked to watch
with tender motherly brooding, or with bitter and jealous envy,
the slumbers of the men who, through ignorance and carelessness,
have neglected to see that they too had the necessary resolution of
nervous tension.

Many married women have told me that after they have had relations
with their husbands they are restless, either for some hours or for
the whole night; and I feel sure that the prevalent failure on the
part of many men to effect orgasms for their wives at each congress,
must be a very common source of the sleeplessness and nervous
diseases of so many married women.

The relation between the completion of the sex act and sleep in
woman is well indicated in the case of Mrs. A., who is typical
of a large class of wives. She married a man with whom she was
passionately in love. Neither she nor her husband had ever had
connection with anyone else, and, while they were both keen and
intelligent people with some knowledge of biology, neither knew
anything of the details of human sex union. For several years her
husband had unions with her which gave him some satisfaction and
left him ready at once to sleep. Neither he nor she knew that women
should have an orgasm, and after every union she was left so "on
edge" and sleepless that never less than several hours would elapse
before she could sleep at all, and often she remained wakeful the
whole night.

After her husband's death her health improved, and in a year or two
she entered into a new relation with a man who was aware of women's
needs and spent sufficient time and attention to them to ensure a
successful completion for her as well as for himself. The result was
that she soon became a good sleeper, with the attendant benefits of
restored nerves and health.

Sleep is so complex a process, and sleeplessness the resultant of
so many different maladjustments, that it is, of course, possible
that the woman may sleep well enough, even if she be deprived of the
relief and pleasure of perfect union. But in so many married women
sleeplessness and a consequent nervous condition are coupled with a
lack of the complete sex relation, that one of the first questions a
physician _should_ put to those of his women patients who are worn
and sleepless is: Whether her husband really fulfils his marital
duty in their physical relation.

From their published statements, and their admissions to me, it
appears that many practising doctors are either almost unaware
of the very existence of orgasm in women, or look upon it as a
superfluous and accidental phenomenon. Yet to have had a moderate
number of orgasms at some time at least is a necessity for the full
development of a woman's health and all her powers.

As this book is written for those who are married, I say nothing
here about the lives of those who are still unmarried, though,
particularly after the age of thirty has been reached, they may
be very difficult and need much study and consideration. It is,
however, worth noticing how prevalent sleeplessness is among a
class of women who have never had any normal sex-life or allowed any
relief to their desires. There is little doubt that the complete
lack of a normal sex relation is one of the several factors which
render many middle-aged unmarried women nervous and sleepless.

Yet for the unmarried woman the lack is not so acute nor so
localised as it is for the married woman who is thwarted in the
natural completion of her sex-functions after they have been
directly stimulated.

The unmarried woman, unless she be in love with some particular
man, has no definite stimulus to her sex desires beyond the natural
upwelling of the creative force. The married woman, however, is not
only diffusely stirred by the presence of the man she loves, but is
also acutely locally and physically stimulated by his relation with
her. And if she is then left in mid-air, without natural relief to
her tension, she is in this respect far worse off than the unmarried

When a wife is left sleepless through the neglect of the mate who
slumbers healthily by her side, it is not surprising if she spends
the long hours reviewing their mutual position; and the review
cannot yield her much pleasure or satisfaction. For, deprived of
the physical delight of mutual orgasm (though, perhaps, like so
many wives, quite unconscious of all it can give), she sees in the
sex act an arrangement where pleasure, relief and subsequent sleep,
are all on her husband's side, while she is merely the passive
instrument of his enjoyment. Nay, more than that: if following every
union she has long hours of wakefulness, she then sees clearly the
encroachment on her own health in an arrangement in which she is
not merely passive, but is actively abused.

Another of the consequences of the incomplete relation is that
often, stirred to a point of wakefulness and vivacity by the
preliminary sex-stimulation (of the full meaning of which she may
be unconscious), a romantic and thoughtful woman is then most able
to talk intimately and tenderly--to speak of the things _most_ near
and sacred to her heart. And she may then be terribly wounded by
the inattention of her husband, which, coming so soon after his
ardent demonstrations of affection, appears peculiarly callous. It
makes him appear to her to be indifferent to the highest side of
marriage--the spiritual and romantic intercourse. Thus she may see
in the man going off to sleep in the midst of her love-talk, a gross
and inattentive brute--and all because she has never shared the
climax of his physical tension, and does not know that its natural
reaction is sleep.

These thoughts are so depressing even to the tenderest and most
loving woman, and so bitter to one who has other causes of
complaint, that in their turn they act on the whole system and
increase the damage done by the mere sleeplessness.

The older school of physiologists dealt in methods too crude to
realise the physiological results of our thoughts, but it is
now well known that anger and bitterness have experimentally
recognisable physiological effects, and are injurious to the whole

It requires little imagination to see that after months or years of
such embittered sleeplessness, the woman tends not only to become
neurasthenic but also resentful towards her husband. She is probably
too ignorant and unobservant of her own physiology to realise the
full meaning of what is taking place, but she feels vaguely that he
is to blame, and that she is being sacrificed for what, in her still
greater ignorance of _his_ physiology, seems to her to be his mere
pleasure and self-indulgence.

He, with his health maintained by the natural outlet followed by
recuperative sleep, is not likely to be ready to look into the
gloomy and shadowy land of vague reproach and inexplicable trivial
wrongs which are all the expression she gives to her unformulated
physical grievance. So he is likely to set down any resentment she
may show to "nerves" or "captiousness"; and to be first solicitous,
and then impatient, towards her apparently irrelevant complaints.

If he is, as many men are, tender and considerate, he may try
to remedy matters by restricting to the extreme limit of what
is absolutely necessary for him, the number of times they come
together. Unconsciously he thus only makes matters worse; for as a
general rule, he is quite unaware of his wife's rhythm, and does
not arrange to coincide with it in his infrequent tender embraces.
As he is now probably sleeping in another room and not daring to
come for the nightly talks and tenderness which are so sweet a
privilege of marriage, here, as in other ways, his well-meaning but
wrongly-conceived efforts at restraint only tend to drive the pair
still further apart.

To make plain the reasonableness of my view regarding sleep, it is
necessary to mention some of the immensely profound influences which
it is now known that sex exerts, even when not stimulated to its
specific use.

In those who are deprived of their sex-organs, particularly when
young, many of the other features and organs of the body develop
abnormally or fail to appear. Castrated boys (eunuchs) when
grown up, tend to have little or no beard, or moustache, to have
high-pitched voices and several other characters which separate them
from normal men.

The growth of organs and structures so remote from the sex-organs,
as, e.g., the larynx, have been found to be influenced by the
chemical stimulus of secretions from the sex-organs and their
subsidiary glands. These secretions are not passed out through
external ducts but enter the blood system _directly_. Such
secretions passing straight from the ductless glands into the
vascular system are of very great importance in almost all our
bodily functions. They have recently been much studied, and the
general name of _Hormones_ given to them by Starling.[7] The idea
that some particular secretions or "humours" are connected with
each of the internal organs of the body, is a very ancient one; but
we have even yet only the vaguest and most elementary knowledge
of a few of the many miracles performed by these subtle chemical
substances. Thus we know that the stimulus of food in the stomach
sends a chemical substance from one ductless gland in the digestive
system chasing through the blood to another gland which prepares a
different digestive secretion further on. We know that the thyroid
gland in the neck swells and contracts in very sensitive relation
with the sex organs; we know that some chemical secretion from
the developing embryo, or the tissue in which it grows, sends its
chemical stimulus to the distant mammary glands of the mother;
we know that if the ovaries of a girl or the testes of a boy are
completely cut out, the far-reaching influences their hormones would
have exerted are made evident by the numerous changes in the system
and departures from the normal, which result from their lack.

  [7] See Prof. Ernest H. Starling's Croonian Lecture to the Royal
  Society, 1905.

But we do _not_ know, for physiologists have not yet studied the
degree and character of the immense stimulus of sex-life and
experience on the glands of the sex-organs, or how they affect the
whole of the human being's life and powers.

The "Mendelians" and the "Mutationists," who both tend to lay so
much (and I think such undue) stress on morphological hereditary
factors, seem at present to have the ear of the public more than
the physiologists. But it is most important that every grown up man
and woman should know that through the various chemical substances
or "messengers" (which Starling called the hormones) there is an
extremely rapid, almost immediate, effect on the activities of
organs in remote parts of the body, due to the influences exerted on
one or other internal organ.

It is therefore clear that any influences exerted on such profoundly
important organs as those connected with sex must have far-reaching
results in many unexpected fields.

What must be taking place in the female system as a result of the
completed sex act?

It is true that in coitus woman has but a slight external secretion,
and that principally of mucus. But we have no external signs of
all the complex processes and reactions going on in digestion and
during the production of digestive secretions. When, as is the case
in orgasm, we have such intense and apparent nervous, vascular
and muscular reactions, it seems inevitable that there must be
correspondingly profound internal correlations. Is it conceivable
that organs so fundamentally placed, and whose mere existence
we know affects the personal characters of women, could escape
physiological result from the intense preliminary stimulus and acute
sensations of an orgasm?

To ask this question is surely to answer it. It is to my mind
inconceivable that the orgasm in woman as in man should not have
profound physiological effects. Did we know enough about the
subject, many of the "nervous breakdowns" and neurotic tendencies of
the modern woman could be directly traced to the partial stimulation
of sexual intercourse without its normal completion which is so
prevalent in modern marriage.

This subject, and its numerous ramifications, are well worth the
careful research of the most highly-trained physiologists. There is
nothing more profound, or of more vital moment to modern humanity as
a whole, than is the understanding of the sex nature and sex needs
of men and women.

I may point out as a mere suggestion that the man's sex-organs
give rise to _external_ and also to _internal_ secretions. The
former only leave the glands which secrete them as a result of
definite stimulus; the latter appear to be perpetually exuded in
small quantities and always to be entering and influencing the
whole system. In women we know there are corresponding perpetual
internal secretions, and it seems evident to me that there must be
some internal secretions which are only released under the definite
stimulus of the whole sex-act.

The English and American peoples, who lead the world in so many
ways, have an almost unprecedentedly high proportion of married
women who get no satisfaction from physical union with their
husbands, though they bear children, and may in every other respect
appear to be happily married.

The modern civilised neurotic woman has become a by-word in the
Western world. Why?

I am certain that much of this suffering is caused by the
_ignorance_ of both men and women regarding not only the inner
physiology, but even the obvious outward expression, of the complete

Many medical men now recognise that numerous nervous and other
diseases are associated with the lack of physiological relief for
natural or stimulated sex feelings in women. Ellis[8] quotes the
opinion of an Austrian gynecologist who said that, "of every hundred
women who come to him with uterine troubles, seventy suffer from
congestion of the womb, which he regarded as due to incomplete
coitus." While a writer in a recent number of the _British Medical
Journal_[9] published some cases in which quite serious nervous
diseases in wives were put right when their husbands were cured of
too hasty ejaculation.

  [8] H. Ellis. "Sex in Relation to Society," 1910, p. 551.

  [9] See Porosz, _British Medical Journal_, April 1, 1911, p. 784.

Sleep, concerning which I began this chapter, is but one of
innumerable indications of inner processes intimately bound up with
the sex-reactions. When the sex-rite is, in every sense, rightly
performed, the healing wings of sleep descend both on the man and on
the woman in his arms. Every organ in their bodies is influenced
and stimulated to play its part, while their spirits, after soaring
in the dizzy heights of rapture, are wafted to oblivion, thence to
return gently to the ordinary plains of daily consciousness.

Chapter VII.

Modesty and Romance

     A person can therefore no more promise to love or not to love
     than he can promise to live long. What he can promise is to take
     good care of his life and of his love.--ELLEN KEY.

Artists clearly, and poets in veiled language, have in all
ages, expressed the glory of the naked human body. Before the
Venus of Milo in her Paris home, even the empty-headed and
ridiculously-dressed creatures of fashion stand for a moment with
a catch in the throat and a sense that here is something full of
divine secrets. One day, when I was doing my reverence before
this ancient goddess, drinking in strength and happiness from the
harmonies of her curves, a preposterously corsetted doll came up
to the statue, paused, and said with tears in her voice to the man
beside her: "Hasn't she got the _loveliest_ figure!"

If cold marble so stirs us, how much more the warmth and vitality of
living beauty! Any well-formed young man or woman is immeasurably
more graceful when free from the clinging follies of modern dress,
while a beautiful woman's body has a supernal loveliness at which
no words short of a poetic rapture can even hint. Our race has so
long neglected the culture of human beauty that a sad proportion of
mature men and women are unattractive; but most young people have
the elements of beauty, and to them chiefly this book is addressed.

A young man or woman perfectly naked _cannot_ be tawdry. The
fripperies, the jagged curves and inharmonious lines and colours
of the so-called "adornments" are surmounted, and the naked figure
stepping from their scattered pile is seen in its utter simplicity.
How charming even the raggedest little street urchins become when
they leave their rags on the bank and plunge into the water!

It is therefore not surprising that one of the innumerable sweet
impulses of love should be to reveal, each to each, this treasure of
living beauty. To give each other the right to enter and enjoy the
sight which most of all sights in the world draws and satisfies the
artist's eyes.

This impulse, however, is, on the part of the woman, swayed by two
at least of the natural results of her rhythmic tides. For some time
during each month, age-long tradition that she is "unclean," coupled
with her obvious requirements, have made her withdraw herself from
even her husband's gaze. But, on the other hand, there regularly
come times when her body is raised to a higher point of loveliness
than usual by the rounding and extra fullness of the breasts.
(This is one of the regular physiological results of the rhythmic
processes going on within her.) Partly or wholly unconscious of the
brilliance and full perfection of her beauty, she yet delights in
its gentle promptings to reveal itself to her lover's eyes when he
adores. This innocent, this goddess-like self-confidence retreats
when the natural ebb of her vitality returns.

How fortunate for man when these sweet changes in his lover are not
coerced into uniformity! For man has still so much of the ancient
hunter in his blood that beauty which is always at hand and ever
upon its pedestal must inevitably attract him far less than the
elusive and changing charms of rhythmic life. In the highly-evolved
and cultivated woman, who has wisdom enough not to restrict, but to
give full play to the great rhythms of her being, man's polygamous
instinct can be satisfied and charmed by the ever-changing aspects
of herself which naturally come uppermost. And one of her natural
phases is at times to retreat, to experience a profound sex
indifference, and passionately to resent any encroachment on her

This is something woman too often forgets. She has been so
thoroughly "domesticated" by man that she feels too readily that
after marriage she is all his. And by her very docility to his
perpetual demands she destroys for him the elation, the palpitating
thrills and surprises, of the chase.

In the rather trivial terms of our sordid modern life, it works out
in many marriages somewhat as follows: The married pair share a
bedroom, and so it comes about that the two are together not only at
the times of delight and interest in each other, but during most of
the unlovely and even ridiculous proceedings of the toilet. Now it
may enchant a man once--perhaps even twice--or at long intervals--to
watch his goddess screw her hair up into a tight and unbecoming knot
and soap her ears. But it is inherently too unlovely a proceeding to
retain indefinite enchantment. To see a beautiful woman floating in
the deep, clear water of her bath--that may enchant for ever, for
it is so lovely, but the unbeautiful trivialities essential to the
daily toilet tend only to blur the picture and to dull the interest
and attention that should be bestowed on the body of the loved one.
Hence, ultimately, everyday association in the commonplace daily
necessities tends to reduce the keen pleasure each takes in the
other. And hence, inevitably and tragically, though stealthily and
unperceived, to reduce the keenness of stimulation the pair exert
on each other, and thus to lower their intensity of the consummation
of the sex act, and hence to lower its physiological value.[10]

  [10] A quotation from Thomas (p. 112 of William Thomas' book "Sex
  and Society," 1907, Pp. 314) is here very apt, though he had been
  speaking not of man, but of the love play and coyness shown by
  female birds and animals.

"We must also recognise the fact that reproductive life must be
connected with violent stimulation, or it would be neglected and
the species would become extinct; and on the other hand, if the
conquest of the female were too easy, sexual life would be in danger
of becoming a play interest and a dissipation, destructive of energy
and fatal to the species. Working, we may assume, by a process of
selection and survival, nature has both secured and safeguarded
reproduction. The female will not submit to seizure except in a
high state of nervous excitation (as is seen especially well in the
wooing of birds), while the male must conduct himself in such a
way as to manipulate the female; and, as the more active agent, he
develops a marvellous display of technique for this purpose. This
is offset by the coyness and coquetry of the female, by which she
equally attracts and fascinates the male, and practises upon him to
induce a corresponding state of nervous excitation."

In short, the overcoming of her personal modesty, which is generally
looked on as an essential result in marriage where the woman becomes
wholly the man's, has generated among our women a tradition that
before their husbands they can perform any and all of the details of
personal and domestic duties. Correspondingly, they allow the man to
be neglectful of preserving some reticence before them. This mutual
possession of the lower and more elementary experiences of life has
been, in innumerable marriages, a factor in destroying the mutual
possession of life's higher and more poetic charms.

And woman's beauty wanes too often more through neglect than
through age. The man, with the radiant picture of his bride blurred
by the daily less lovely aspects, may cease to remind her by acts
of courtship that her body is precious. But many men by whom each
aspect of their wives is noted, are often hurt by woman's stupidity
or neglect of herself. Women lose their grace of motion by relying
on artificial bones and stiffenings, and clog their movements with
heavy and absurdly fashioned garments. They forget how immeasurably
they can control not only their clothed appearance but the very
structure of their bodies by the things they eat and do, by the very
thoughts they think.

A wise man once said that a woman deserved no credit for her beauty
at sixteen, but beauty at sixty was her own soul's doing. I would
that all the world so thirsted for beauty that we moulded the whole
race into as lovely forms as the Greeks created.

In this respect I am inclined to think that man suffers more
than woman. For man is still essentially the hunter, the one who
experiences the desires and thrills of the chase, and dreams ever of
coming unawares upon Diana in the woodlands. On the other hand, the
married woman, having once yielded all, tends to remain passively in
the man's companionship.

Though it may appear trivial beside the profound physiological
factors considered in recent chapters, I think that, in the
interests of husbands, an important piece of advice to wives is: Be
always escaping. Escape the lower, the trivial, the sordid. So far
as possible (and this is far more possible than appears at first,
and requires only a little care and rearrangement in the habits of
the household) ensure that you allow your husband to come upon you
only when there is delight in the meeting. Whenever the finances
allow, the husband and wife should have separate bedrooms. No soul
can grow to its full stature without spells of solitude. A married
woman's body and soul should be essentially her own, and that can
only be so if she has an inviolable retreat. But at the same time
the custom of having separate rooms should not mean, as it often
does, that the husband only comes to his wife's room when he has
some demand to make upon her. Nothing is more calculated to inhibit
all desire for union in a sensitive wife than the knowledge of what
her husband wants when he comes, however lovingly, to her side.
Every night, unless something prevents, there should be the tender
companionship and whispered intimacies which are, to many people,
only possible in the dark. The "good-night" should be a time of
delightful forgetting of the outward scars of the years, and a
warm, tender, perhaps playful exchange of confidences. This is not
incompatible with what has been said in the previous chapters, and
when this custom is maintained it overcomes the objection some
people make to separate rooms as a source of estrangements.

Chapter VIII.


     How intoxicating indeed, how penetrating--like a most precious
     wine--is that love which is the sexual transformed by the magic
     of the will into the emotional and spiritual! And what a loss
     on the merest grounds of prudence and the economy of pleasure
     is its unbridled waste along physical channels! So nothing
     is so much to be dreaded between lovers as just this--the
     vulgarisation of love--and this is the rock upon which marriage
     so often splits.--EDWARD CARPENTER.

And because marriage so often splits upon this rock, or because men
and women have in all ages yearned for spiritual beauty, there have
been those who shut themselves off from all the sweet usages of the
body. In the struggle of man to gain command over his body, and in
the slow and often backsliding evolution of the higher love, there
is no doubt that humanity owes much to the ascetic. But this debt
is in the past. We are now gaining control of the lower forces, we
are winning knowledge of the complex meanings and the spiritual
transformations of our physical reactions, and in the _future_ the
highest social unit will be recognised to be the pair, fused in love
so that all human potentialities are theirs, as well as the higher
potentialities which only perfect love can originate.

Yet, as we live to-day, with still so many remnants of the older
standards within and upon us, we must endeavour to understand the
ascetic. He (less often she) is by no means seldom one of the
products of marriage. It not infrequently happens that after a
love-marriage and some years of what is considered happiness, the
man or woman may withdraw from the sex life, often looking down upon
it, and considering that they have reached a higher plane by so
doing. But such people seldom ask themselves if, while they lived
it, they reached the highest possible level of the sex-life.

One of the most famous instances of the married ascetic is Tolstoy,
whose later opinion was that the _highest_ human being completely
inhibits his sex-desires and lives a celibate life. Ascetics,
however, seldom have much knowledge of human physiology, and it
seems to me that, with all their fine and religious fervour, they
often lack the mysticism necessary for the full realisation of
the meaning and potentialities of the new creation resulting from
man's and woman's highest union. Doubtless if for an hour we were
to take the place of the individual chemical atoms of Oxygen or of
Hydrogen, we could have no inkling of the physical properties of the
water-drop they together form.

Christianity, like most religions, had a strong wave of asceticism
early in its history. While there was, as there still is, a harsh
asceticism which is hostile to the other sex, it is of much interest
to see that there was also a romantic asceticism which, while
revolting from the sensuality of the pagan contemporaries, did not
entirely prohibit the charms and pleasures of mutual companionship.
Thus, in a mutilated form, it seems these early Christian ascetics
gained some of the immaterial benefits of marriage. Ellis (Vol.
6, "Sex and Society," 1913) gives an interesting account of these
ascetic love-unions:

     "Our fathers," Chrysostom begins ("Against those who keep
     Virgins in their Houses"), "only knew two forms of sexual
     intimacy, marriage and fornication. Now a third form has
     appeared: men introduce young girls into their houses and keep
     them there permanently, respecting their virginity. What,"
     Chrysotom asks, "is the reason? It seems to me that life in
     common with a woman is sweet, even outside conjugal union and
     fleshly commerce. That is my feeling; and perhaps it is not my
     feeling alone; it may also be that of these men. They would not
     hold their honour so cheap nor give rise to such scandals if
     this pleasure were not violent and tyrannical.... That there
     should really be a pleasure in this which produces a love more
     ardent than conjugal union may surprise you at first. But when I
     give you the proofs you will agree that it is so." The absence
     of restraint to desire in marriage, he continues, often leads to
     speedy disgust, and even apart from this, sexual intercourse,
     pregnancy, delivery, lactation, the bringing up of children, and
     all the pains and anxieties that accompany these things, soon
     destroy youth and dull the point of pleasure. The virgin is free
     from these burdens. She retains her vigour and her youthfulness,
     and even at the age of forty may rival the young nubile girl. "A
     double ardour thus burns in the heart of him who lives with her,
     and the gratification of desire never extinguishes the bright
     flame which ever continues to increase in strength." Chrysostom
     describes minutely all the little cares and attentions which the
     modern girls of his time required, and which these men delighted
     to expend on their virginal sweethearts whether in public or
     in private. He cannot help thinking, however, that the man who
     lavishes kisses and caresses on a woman whose virginity he
     retains is putting himself somewhat in the position of Tantalus.
     But this new refinement of tender chastity, which came as a
     delicious discovery to the early Christians who resolutely
     thrust away the licentiousness of the pagan world, was deeply
     rooted, as we discover from the frequency with which the grave
     Fathers of the Church, apprehensive of scandal, felt called
     upon to reprove it, though their condemnation is sometimes not
     without a trace of secret sympathy.

     Thus Jerome, in his letter to Eustochium, refers to those
     couples who "share the same room," often even the same bed, and
     call us suspicious if we draw any conclusions; while Cyprian
     (_Epistola_, 86) is unable to approve of those men he hears of,
     one a deacon, who live in familiar intercourse with virgins,
     even sleeping in the same bed with them, for, he declares, the
     feminine sex is weak and youth is wanton.

The harsh ascetic, however, is the one the word ascetic most
generally conjures up. Even if he accomplishes miracles of
self-restraint, and subdues desire, he is often weakened rather
than strengthened by his determination to flout nature. Save only
in the truly great, there is a warping and narrowing which results
from coercing beyond the limits of reason the desires which were
implanted in Adam and Eve when they were told to be fruitful and

As Ellen Key says ("Love and Marriage"):

     Those ascetics who recommend only self-control as a remedy for
     the mastery of sexual instinct, even when such control becomes
     merely obstructive to life, are like the physician who tried
     only to drive the fever out of his patient: it was nothing to
     him that the sick man died of the cure.

     But these ascetics may have arrived at their fanaticism by
     two different paths. One group--which includes most of the
     female ascetics--hates Cupid because he has never shown to them
     any favour. The other group--embracing the majority of male
     ascetics--curse him because he never leaves them in peace.

Approaching the subject in a more modern and scientific attitude of
impartial inquiry, the medical man can produce an imposing list of
diseases more or less directly caused by abstinence both in men and
in women. These diseases range from neuralgia and "nerves" to (in
women) fibroid growths. And it is well worthy of remark that these
diseases may be present when the patient (as have many unmarried
women) has no idea that the sex-impulse exists unmastered.

Thus the ascetic and the profligate (whether or not in _legal_
marriage) have both to run the gauntlet of disease. There is,
however, no disease I know of which is caused by the normal and
mutually happy marriage relation--a relation which, certainly to
most, has positive healing and vitalising power.

The profound truth which is perceived by the ascetics is that the
creative energy of sex can be _transformed_ into other activities.
This truth should never be lost sight of in marriage; where between
the times of natural, happy, and also stimulating exercise of
the sex-functions, the periods of complete abstinence should be
opportunities for transmuting the healthy sex-power into work of
every sort.

Chapter IX.


    I am for you, and you are for me,
    Not only for your own sake, but for others' sakes,
    Envelop'd in you sleep greater heroes and bards,
    They refuse to awake at the touch of any man but me.


The Mystic in his moment of enlightenment attains through the flux
of his personality the realisation of oneness with the divine forces
of the Universe.

To ordinary men and women, however, this mystical ecstasy is
unknown, and the ordinary human consciousness is far more aware
of its separateness than of its oneness with the vital forces
of creation. Yet the glow of half swooning rapture in which the
mystic's whole being melts and floats in the light of the divine
force is paralleled in the rapture of lovers.

When two who are mated in every respect burn with the fire of the
innumerable forces within them, which set their bodies longing
towards each other with the desire to inter-penetrate and to
encompass one another, the fusion of joy and rapture is not purely
physical. The half swooning sense of flux which overtakes the
spirit in that eternal moment at the apex of rapture sweeps into
its flaming tides the whole essence of the man and woman, and as
it were, the heat of the contact vapourises their consciousness so
that it fills the whole of cosmic space. For the moment they are
identified with the divine thoughts, the waves of eternal force,
which to the Mystic often appear in terms of golden light.

From their mutual penetration into the realms of supreme joy the
two lovers bring back with them a spark of that light which we call

And unto them a child is born.

This is the supreme purpose of nature in all her enticing weft of
complex factors luring the two lovers into each other's arms. Only
by the fusion of two can the new human life come into being, and
only by creating a new life in this way can we hand on the torch
which lights our consciousness in the sphere of matter.

This mystical and wonderful fact has never yet found the poet to
sing its full glory. But in the hearts of all who have known true
love lies the realisation of the sacredness that is theirs when they
are in the very act of creation.

Were our bodies specifically organised for this supreme purpose,
two human beings would only pass through the sacred fire of mutual
fusion in order to create a new life. But, however far our spirits
have evolved, our bodies are composed of matter which bears the
imprint of the many past phases through which we have reached our
present position. And because in the world of the lower animals
there is an immense wastage of all the young lives created, and
it is necessary that myriads should be conceived in order that a
small number should reach maturity, so in our bodies (specialised
though they are in comparison with the lower animals) both sexes
still produce a far larger number of germs awaiting fertilisation
than can be actually fructified and imbued with individual life. So
profoundly has the course of our history been stamped upon us that
each germ, unaware of its own futility if it reaches maturity at an
unpropitious moment, is just as insistent in its development as the
favoured one which follows out the full natural course of its career
and gives rise to a new individual.

It is utterly impossible, organised as our bodies are at present,
for us to obey the dictates of theologians and refrain from the
destruction of potential life. The germ cells of the woman, though
immeasurably less numerous than the male germ cells (the sperm) yet
develop uselessly over and over again in every celibate as well as
in every married woman. While myriads of sperm cells are destroyed
even in the process of the act which does ensure fertilisation of
the woman by the single favoured sperm. If the theologians really
mean what they say, and demand the voluntary effort of complete
celibacy from all men, save for the purpose of procreation, this
will _not_ achieve their end of preventing the destruction of all
potential life; and the monthly loss of unfertilised eggcell by
women is beyond all the efforts of the will to curb. Nature, not
man, arranged the destruction of potential life against which
ascetic Bishops rage.

If, then, throughout the greater part of their lives the germinal
cells of both sexes inevitably disintegrate without creating an
embryo, there can be nothing wrong in selecting the most favourable
moment possible for the conception of the first of these germinal
cells to be endowed with the supreme privilege of creating a new

What generally happens in marriage where this is not thought of is
that one of the very earliest unions results in the fertilisation
of the wife, so that the young pair have a baby nine months, or a
little more, after marriage.

Whereas, were they wise and did they realise the full significance
of what they were doing, they would allow at least six months or a
year to elapse before beginning the supreme task of their lives, the
burden of which falls mainly upon the woman.

For many reasons it is more ideal to have the children spontaneously
and early; but if economic conditions are hard, as they so often
are in "civilised" life, it may be better to marry and defer the
children rather than not to marry. (See my "Wise Parenthood.")

If the pair married very young, and before they could afford to
support children, they might wait several years with advantage.
An exceptional case is one of the happiest marriages I know. The
pair married while they were young students in the University,
and fourteen years later they had their first child, a splendidly
healthy boy. Though such a long interval is certainly not to be
universally recommended, as it is said that it may result in
sterility, in this instance it was triumphantly better for the two
to have lived normally satisfied happy lives than to have waited for
fourteen years and risked the man's "fall."

There are many reasons, both for their own and for the child's sake,
why the potential parents should take the wise precaution of delay,
unless owing to special circumstances they cannot expect to live
together uninterruptedly.

The child, conceived in rapture and hope, should be given every
material chance which the wisdom and love of the parents can devise.
And the first and _most_ vital condition of its health is that the
mother should be well and happy and free from anxiety while she
bears it.

The tremendous and far-reaching effects of marriage on the woman's
whole organism make her less fitted to bear a child at the very
commencement of marriage than later on, when the system will have
adjusted itself to its new conditions.

Not only for the sake of the child, however, should the first
conception be a little delayed, but also to secure the lasting
happiness of the married lovers. It is generally (though perhaps
not always) wise thoroughly to establish their relation to each
other before introducing the inevitable dislocation and readjustment
necessitated by the wife's pregnancy and the birth of a child.

In this book I am not speaking so much of the universal sex relation
as to those who find themselves to-day in the highly civilised,
artificial communities of English-speaking people: and in our
present society there is little doubt that the early birth of a
child demands much self-sacrifice and self-restraint from the man,
one of the reflex vibrations of which is his undefinable sense of
loss and separation from his bride. This has been confided to me
by many men who have been generous enough to trust me with some of
the secrets of their lives. Mr. C. is typical of many others of his

He was quiet and refined, with a strong strain of romantic
love, which was entirely centred in his bride. He was manly and
sufficiently virile to feel the need of sex intercourse, but he was
unaware (as are so many men) of the woman's corresponding need;
and he did not give his wife any orgasm. She took no pleasure,
therefore, in the physical act of union, which for her was so

Very shortly after marriage she conceived, and a child was born ten
months after the wedding day.

For two years after the birth of the child her vitality was so
lowered that the sex-act was to her _so_ repugnant that she refused
her husband any union; and it was thus three years after their
marriage before they met in anything like a normal way. By that
time the long separation from sex-life, and the strain on the
man, coupled with daily familiarity at home, had dimmed, if not
completely destroyed, his sense of romance. The natural stimulation
each should exert on the other had faded, so that they never
experienced the mutual glow of rapture in their sex-union.

Another pair suffered similarly: Mr. and Mrs. D. were prevented
for several years by the wife's real and fancied ill-health from
having any intercourse. When, after that time, she recovered and
passionately desired the true marriage relation, the husband felt
it to be impossible. To him it would have been, as he expressed it,
"like raping his sister."

Once such a thought has grown into a man's mind it is very difficult
"to recapture the first fine early rapture." And with the loss of
that early rapture the two lose, for the rest of their lives, the
irradiating joy which is priceless not only for its beauty, but for
the vitality with which its wings are laden.

On the other hand, if by waiting some months (or even years if
they are young) the mated pair have learnt to adjust themselves to
each other and have experienced the full possibilities of complete
love-making, the disturbance which is caused by the birth of the
child is in no sense a danger to their happiness, but is its crown
and completion.

A man once said to me--"One can endure anything for the sake of a
beloved wife." But the _wife_ is only utterly beloved when she and
her married lover have not only entered paradise together, but when
she fully realises, through insight gained by her own experiences,
the true nature of that of which she is depriving her husband so
long as her bodily condition makes sex-union with him impossible.

Much has been written, and may be found in the innumerable books on
the sex-problems, as to whether a man and woman should or should
not have relations while the wife is bearing an unborn child. In
this matter experience is very various, so that it is difficult
or impossible to give definite advice without knowing the full
circumstances of each case.

When, however, we observe the admirable sanctity of the pregnant
females of the woodland creatures, and when we consider the
extraordinary ignorance and disregard of woman's needs which mark so
many of our modern customs, we cannot but think that the safe side
of this debatable question must be in the complete continence of
the woman for at least six months before the birth of the child. I
have heard from a number of women, however, that they desire union
urgently at this time; and from others that the thought of it is
incredible. (See Addition 2, p. 115.)

Tolstoy strongly condemned any sex contact while the wife was
pregnant or nursing, and blames the husband who "puts upon her the
unbearable burden of being at one and the same time a mistress, an
exhausted mother, and a sickly, irritable, hysterical individual.
And the husband loves her as his mistress, ignores her as a mother,
and hates her for the irritability and hysteria which he himself has
produced and produces." His view is taken by many of our noblest men.

While the wife feels that she cannot allow her husband to enter
the portals of her body when it has become the sacred temple of a
developing life, she should also consider the perpetual strain which
nature imposes upon him; and the tender and loving wife will readily
find some means of giving him that physical relief which his nature

The exquisite, unselfish tenderness which is aroused in a man by the
sense of mental and spiritual harmony with a wife who sympathises
with, because she understands, his needs is one of the loveliest
things in marriage. The wife who knows how to waken this tenderness
in a man raises him out of the self-centred slough in which so many
men wallow unhappily.

With an ardent man, wholly devoted to his wife and long deprived
of her, the time will come when it will be sufficient for him to
be near her and caress her for relief to take place without any
physical connection.

After the birth of the first child the health of the mother and of
the baby both demand that there should be no hurried beginning of a
second. _At least_ a year should pass before the second little life
is allowed to begin its unfolding, so that _a minimum_ of about two
years should elapse before the second child is born.

The importance of this, both for the mother and for the child, is
generally adequately recognised by medical specialists, and some
distinguished gynecologists advocate as much as three or five years
between the births of successive children. While in the whole human
relation there is no slavery or torture so horrible as coerced,
unwilling motherhood, there is no joy and pride greater than that
of a woman who is bearing the developing child of a man she adores.
It is a serious reflection on our poisoned "civilisation" that a
pregnant woman should feel shame to appear in the streets. Never
will the race reach true health till it is cured of its prurient
sickness, and the prospective mother can carry her sacred burden
as a priestess in a triumphal procession. (See Addition 3, p.

Of the innumerable problems which touch upon the qualities
transmitted to the children by their parents, the study of which may
be covered by the general term Eugenics, I shall here say nothing:
nor shall I deal with the problems of birth and child-rearing. Many
writers have considered these subjects, and my purpose in this book
is to present aspects of sex-life which have been more or less
neglected by others.

While throughout I have omitted the consideration of abnormalities,
there is one condition which verges on the abnormal but yet touches
the lives of some married people who are individually both normal
and healthy, about which a few words need to be said.

It not infrequently happens that two healthy, loving people, for no
apparent reason, seem unable to have a child. (See Addition 4, p.

The old-fashioned view was that the fault lay with the woman, and
the reproach of being a barren woman is one which brought untold
anguish to many hearts. It is now beginning to be recognised,
however, that in a childless union the "fault," if fault it be, is
as often the man's as the woman's, particularly where the husband is
a brain worker in a city.

Though it is natural that there should not be the same joy for the
pair in a child which had not arisen from their own supreme fusion,
nevertheless, the man who is generous and broadminded might find
much joy in a child of his wife's were the obtaining of this child
not coupled with the yielding of her body to the embrace of another
man, which is so generally and so naturally repugnant to a husband.
The future possibilities of science here come in. Much interesting
research has already been done on the growth of the young of
various creatures without the ordinary fertilisation of the mother
egg-cell. Then there are the experiments by the famous Dr. Hunter at
the end of the eighteenth century, and more recent work. See, for
instance, Heape, in the "Proceedings of the Royal Society, 1897,"
and Marshall's text-book of "The Physiology of Reproduction, 1910."

While in such an event as these discoveries adumbrate, the husband
would have no bodily part in the heritage of the child, yet in
the creation of its spirit he could play a profound part, the
potentialities of which appear to be almost unrecognised by humanity.

The idea that the soul and character of the child can be in any
degree influenced by the mental status of the mother during the
months of its development as an embryo within her body, is apt to
be greeted with pure scepticism--for it is difficult of proof, and
repugnant to the male intellect, now accustomed to explain life in
terms of chemistry.

Yet all the wisest mothers whom I know vary only in the degree
of their belief in this power of the mother. All are agreed in
believing that the spiritual and mental condition and environment of
the mother does profoundly affect the character and the mental and
spiritual powers of the child.

An interesting fact which strengthens the woman's point of view,
is quoted (though not in this connection) by Marshall,[11] who
says: "It has been found that immunity from disease may be acquired
by young animals being suckled by a female which had previously
become immune, the antibody to the disease being absorbed in the
ingested milk." This particular fact is explainable in terms of
chemistry; but it seems to me more than rash for anyone in these
days of hormones from ductless glands, to deny the possibility of
mental states in the mother generating "chemical messengers," which
may impress permanent characters in the physiological reactions of
the developing child. Ellis says (Vol. 6, "Sex and Society," 1913):
"The mother is the child's supreme parent, and during the period
from conception to birth the hygiene of the future man can only be
affected by influences which work through her."

  [11] See p. 566 of the text-book on "The Physiology of
  Reproduction," Pp. xvii., 706, 1910.

And Alfred Russel Wallace, the great naturalist, thought the
transmission of mental influence neither impossible nor even very
improbable.[12] I am convinced that it takes place all the time,
moulding and influencing the hereditary factors.

  [12] See his letter to the scientific journal "Nature" in the year
  1893, August 24, pp. 389 and 390.

Hence I suggest that the husband who is deprived of normal
fatherhood may yet make the child of his wife's body partly his own,
if his thoughts are with her intensely, supportingly, and joyously
throughout the whole time of the unborn baby's growth. If he reads
to her, plays beautiful music or takes her to hear it, and gives her
the very best of his thoughts and aspirations, mystical though the
conclusion may seem, he does attain an actual measure of fatherhood.

The converse is even more difficult, where the wife is really barren
and the husband capable of having children with another woman. Then
the attainment of children by the man is impossible without the
collaboration of another woman in a manner not outwardly recognised
by our laws and customs. Even if this done it is clear that to
introduce the child of another woman into the home is demanding a
much greater self-abnegation from the wife than is demanded from the
husband in the situation we have just considered.

Many people whose ideals are very noble are yet strangely incapable
of adapting the material acts of life to the real fulfilment of
their ideals. Thus there is a section of our community which
insists that there should be no restriction whatever of the number
of children born to married people. They think any birth control
immoral. They take their stand upon the statement that we have no
right to destroy potential life. But if they would study a little
human or animal physiology they would find that not only every
celibate, but also every married man incessantly and inevitably
wastes myriads of germs (see p. 41) which had the potentiality of
fusion with an ovum, and consequently could have produced a child
had opportunity been given them. For the supposed sake of one or two
of these myriad sperms which must naturally and inevitably die, they
encourage the production of babies in rapid succession which are
weakened by their proximity while they might have been sturdy and
healthy had they been conceived further apart from each other.

Such people, while awake to the claims of the unborn, nay, even of
the unconceived, are blind to the claims of the one who should be
dearest of all to the husband, and for whose health and happiness
he is responsible. A man swayed by archaic dogma will allow, even
coerce, his wife to bear and bring forth an infant annually. Save
where the woman is exceptional, each child following so rapidly
on its predecessor, saps and divides the vital strength which is
available for the making of the offspring. This generally lowers the
vitality of each succeeding child, and surely even if slowly, may
murder the woman who bears them.

Of course, the effects of this strain upon the woman vary greatly
according to her original health and vitality, the conditions of
her surroundings and the intensity of the family's struggle for
food. A half-starved mother trying to bring up children in the foul
air of city slums, loses, as a rule, far more of her family than
a comfortable and well-fed woman in the country. Nevertheless,
conditions are not everything; under the best conditions, the
chances of death of the later children of a large family, which
comes rapidly, are far greater than for the earlier children.

Dr. Ploetz found that while the death-rate of first-born infants
is about 220 per thousand, the death-rate of the seventh-born is
about 330, and of the twelfth-born is 597 per thousand. So that when
"Nature" has its way, and twelve children come to sap a woman's
vitality, so little strength has she that nearly 60 per cent. of
these later ones die. What a waste of vitality! What a hideous
orgy of agony for the mothers to produce in anguish death-doomed,
suffering infants!

Forel ("The Sexual Question," 1908) says: "It seems almost
incredible that in some countries medical men who are not ashamed to
throw young men into the arms of prostitution, blush when mention is
made of anti-conceptional methods. This false modesty, created by
custom and prejudice, waxes indignant at innocent things while it
encourages the greatest infamies."

It is important to observe that Holland, the country which takes
_most_ care that children shall be well and voluntarily conceived,
has increased its survival-rate, and has thereby, not diminished,
but increased its population, and has the lowest infant mortality
in Europe. While in America, where the outrageous "Comstock Laws"
confuse wise scientific prevention with illegal abortion and label
them both as "obscene," thus preventing people from obtaining decent
hygienic knowledge, horrible and criminal abortion is more frequent
than in any other country.

It should be realised that all the proper, medical methods of
controlling pregnancy consist, not in destroying an already
growing embryo, but in preventing the male sperm from reaching
the unfertilised egg cell. This may be done either by shutting
the sperms away from the opening of the womb, or by securing the
death of _all_ (instead of the natural death of all but _one_) of
the two to six hundred million sperms which enter the woman. Even
when a child is allowed to grow in its mother, all these hundreds
of millions of sperms are inevitably and naturally destroyed
every time the man has an emission, and to add one more to these
millions sacrificed by Nature is surely no crime! To kill quickly
the ejaculated sperms which would otherwise die and decompose
naturally, is a simple matter. Their minute and uncovered bodies
are plasmolised in weak acid, such as vinegar and water, or by a
solution of quinine, or by many other substances.

To those who protest that we have no right to interfere with the
course of Nature, one must point out that the whole of civilisation,
everything which separates man from animals, is an interference with
what such people commonly call "Nature."

Nothing in the cosmos can be against Nature, for it all forms part
of the great processes of the universe.

Actions differ, however, in their relative positions in the scale of
things. Only those actions are worthy which lead the race onwards
to a higher and fuller completion and the perfecting of its powers,
which steer the race into the main current of that stream of life
and vitality which courses through us and impels us forward.

It is a sacred duty of all who dare to hand on the awe-inspiring
gift of life, to hand it on in a vessel as fit and perfect as
they can fashion, so that the body may be the strongest and most
beautiful instrument possible in the service of the soul they summon
to play its part in the mystery of material being.

Chapter X.


     Love is fed not by what it takes, but by what it gives, and that
     excellent dual love of man and wife must be fed also by the love
     they give to others.--EDWARD CARPENTER.

Man, even the commonplace modern man, is romantic. He craves
consciously or unconsciously for the freedom, the beauty, and the
adventure which his forefathers found in their virgin forests. This
craving, transmuted, changed out of recognition by civilised life
and modern circumstances, is yet a factor not to be ignored in the
relationship of the sexes.

The "bonds of matrimony," so often referred to with ribald laughter,
touch, and perhaps secretly gall, even the most romantic and devoted
husband. If to the sincere and friendly question: "What is most
difficult in married life for the man?" one gets the sincere and
rueful answer--that answer may be summed up in the words "perpetual

Of this, the wife, particularly if she be really in love, is seldom
fully aware. If her husband is her true lover, his tenderness
and real devotion will give him the wit to conceal it. But
though by concealment he may preserve the unruffled surface of
their happiness, yet the longing to be roving is not completely
extinguished. In the true lover this unspoken, unconscious longing
is perhaps less a desire to set out upon a fresh journey than a
longing to experience again the exquisite joy of the return; to
re-live the magic charm of the approach to the spot in which the
loved one is living her life, into the sacred separateness of which
the lover breaks, and, like the Prince by his kiss, to stir her to
fresh activity.

As will be realised by those who have understood the preceding
chapters, each coming together of man and wife, even if they have
been mated for many years, should be a fresh adventure; each winning
should necessitate a fresh wooing.

Yet what a man often finds so hard is to come to that wooing with
full ardour and with that complete sense of romance which alone can
render it utterly delightful, if the woman he is to woo has been in
a too uninterrupted and prosaic relation with him in the meantime.

Most men, of course, have their businesses apart from their homes,
but in the home lives of the great mass of middle-class people the
Victorian tradition still too largely preponderates, and the mated
pair bore or deaden each other during the daily routine.

To a very thoughtful couple whom I have known, so precious was
the sense of romantic joy in one another that they endeavoured to
perpetuate it by living in different houses.

Such a measure, however, is not likely to suit many people,
particularly where there are children. Yet even without bodily
separation (which must always entail expense) or any measure of
freedom not at everyone's command, much can be done to retain that
sense of spiritual freedom in which alone the full joy of loving
union can be experienced.

But even intellectual and spiritual freedom is often rendered
impossible in present-day marriage.

The beautiful desire for ideal unity which is so strong in most
hearts is perhaps the original cause of one of the most deadening
features in many marriages. In the endeavour to attain the ideal
unity, one or other partner consciously or unconsciously imposes
his or her will and opinions first upon the wife or husband, and
then upon the children as they grow up.

The typical self-opinionated male which this course develops,
while a subject for laughter in plays and novels, a laughter which
hastens his extermination, is yet by no means extinct. In his less
exaggerated form such a man may often be an idealist, but he is
essentially an idealist of narrow vision. The peace, the unity, for
which he craves is superficially attained; but it takes acuter eyes
than his to see that it is attained not by harmonious intermingling,
but by super-position and destruction.

I have known a romantic man of this type, apparently unaware that he
was encroaching upon his wife's personality, who yet endeavoured not
only to choose her books and her friends for her, but "prohibited"
her from buying the daily newspaper to which she had been accustomed
for years before her marriage, saying that one newspaper was enough
for them both, and blandly ignoring the fact that he took it with
him out of the house before she had an opportunity of reading it.
This man posed to himself more successfully than to others, not only
as a romantic man, but as a model husband; and he reproached his
wife for jeopardising their perfect unity whenever she accepted an
invitation in which he was not included.

On the other hand, in homes where the avowed desire is for the
modern freedom of intellectual life for both partners, there is
very frequently a bickering, a sense of disharmony and unrest that
dispels the peace and the air of restful security which is an
essential feature of a true home.

It is one of the most difficult things in the world for two people
of different opinions to retain their own opinions without each
endeavouring to convert or coerce the other, and at the same time to
feel the same tender trust in the judgment of the other that each
would have felt had they agreed.

It takes a generous and beautiful heart to see beauty and dignity in
the attitude of a mate who is looking at the other side of a vital

But the very fact that it _does_ take a beautiful and generous heart
to do this thing proves it well worth the doing.

If the easier way is chosen and the two mutually conceal their views
when they differ, or the stronger partner coerces the weaker into
hiding those traits which give personality to an individual, the
result is an impoverishing of both, and through that very fact, an
impoverishment, a lowering of the love which both sought to serve.

In marriage each one dreams that he will find the Understander--the
one from whom he may set out into the world in search of treasures
of knowledge and experience, and before whom the spoils may be
exhibited without thought of rivalry, and with the certainty of
glad apprisal. Treasures, dear to our own hearts but of no value
to others, should here find appreciation, and here the tender
super-sensitive germ of an idea may be watered and tended till its
ripe beauty is ready to burst upon the world.

As marriage is at present such tenderness and such stimulating
appreciation is much more likely to come from the woman to the man
and his work than from the man to the woman. For too long have men
been accustomed to look upon woman's views, and in particular on her
intellectual opinions, as being something demanding at the most a
bland humouring beneath the kindest smiles.

Even from the noblest man, the woman of sensitive personality
to-day feels an undercurrent as of surprised congratulation when
she has anything to say worth his _serious_ attention outside that
department of life supposed to belong to her "sphere." Thus man robs
his wedded self of a greatness which the dual unity might reach.

But in marriage the mutual freedom and respect for opinion,
vitally important though it be, is not sufficient for the full
development of character. Life demands ever-widening interests.
Owing partly to the differentiation of many types of individuals due
to the specialisation of civilisation, which interests thoughtful
individuals, and partly to the transmutation of his old vagrant
instinct, man increasingly desires to touch and to realise the lives
of his fellows. In the lives of others our hearts and understanding
may find perpetual adventures into the new and strange.

Individual human beings, even the noblest and most complex yet
evolved, have but a share of the innumerable faculties of the race.
Hence even in a supremely happy marriage, which touches, as does the
mystic in his raptures, a realisation of the whole universe, there
cannot lie the _whole_ of life's experience. Outside the actual
lives of the pair there must always be many types of thought and
many potentialities which can only be realised in the lives of other

In the complete human relation friends of all grades are needed,
as well as a mate. Marriage, however, in its present form is too
often made to curtail the enjoyment of intimate friendships. The
reason for this is partly the social etiquette, which, though
discarded in the highest levels of society, still lingers in many
circles, of inviting the husband and the wife together upon all
social occasions. It is true that they are separated at the dinner
table, but they are always within the possibility of earshot of
each other, which very often deadens their potentialities for being
entertaining. The mere fact of being overheard repeating something
one may have already said elsewhere is sufficient to prevent some
people from telling their best stories, or from expressing their
real views upon important matters.

And, still more serious barrier to joy, so primitive, so little
evolved are we even yet, there is in most human beings a strong
streak of sex-jealousy. For either mate to be allowed to go out
uncriticised into the world, is to demand, if not more than the
other is willing to give, at least a measure of trust which by its
rarity appears nowadays as something conspicuously fine.

Jealousy, which is one of the most frequent shadows cast by the
blight of love, is very apt to sow a distrust in one which makes a
normal life for the other partner impossible.

It is hard to say in which sex the feeling is more strongly
developed. It takes special forms under different circumstances,
and if a nature is predisposed towards it, it is one of the most
difficult characteristics to eradicate.

Custom, and generations of traditions, seem to have imprinted on our
race the false idea that marital fidelity is to be strengthened by
coercive bonds. We are slowly growing out of this, and nowadays in
most books giving advice to young wives there is a section telling
them that a man should be allowed his men friends after marriage.

But this is not enough. There should be complete and unquestioning
trust on both sides. The man and the woman should each be free to
go unchallenged by a thought on solitary excursions, or on visits,
weekends or walking tours, without the possibility of a breath of
jealousy or suspicion springing up in the heart of one or the other.

It is true that many natures are not yet ready for such trust, and
might abuse such freedom. But the baser natures will always find a
method of gratifying their desires, and are not likely to err more
in trusted freedom than they would inevitably have done through
secret intrigues if held in jealous bondage.

While, on the other hand, it is only in the fresh unsullied air of
such freedom that the fullest and most perfect love can develop. In
the marriage relation it is supremely true that only by loosening
the bonds can one bind two hearts indissolubly together.

When they are sometimes physically apart married lovers attain the
closest spiritual union. For with sensitive spirits--and they are
the only ones who know the highest pinnacles of love--periods of
separation and solitude can be revivifying and recreative.

So great is the human soul that some of its beauty is hidden by
nearness: it needs distance between it and the beholder to be
perceived in its true perspective.

To the realisation of the beauty and the enjoyment of solitude,
woman in general tends to be less awake than man. This, perhaps, is
due to the innumerable generations during which the claims of her
children and of domestic life have robbed her of Nature's healing

Although it is merely incidental to the drama, yet to me the most
poignant thing in Synge's beautiful play _Deirdré_ is that she could
feel inevitable tragedy when the first thought of something apart
from herself crosses her lover's mind. Deirdré and her lover had
been together for seven years in an unbroken and idyllic intimacy,
and she feels that all is finished, and that her doom, the knell of
their joy, had struck, when for the first time she perceived in him
a half-formed thought of an occupation apart from her.

This ancient weakness of her sex must be conquered, and is being
conquered by the modern woman.

While modern marriage is tending to give ever more and more freedom
to each of the partners, there is at the same time a unity of work
and interest growing up which brings them together on a higher
plane than the purely domestic one which was so confining to the
women and so dull to the men. Every year one sees a widening of the
independence and the range of the pursuits of women: but still,
far too often, marriage puts an end to woman's intellectual life.
Marriage can never reach its full stature until women possess as
much intellectual freedom and freedom of opportunity within it as do
their partners.

That at present the majority of women neither desire freedom for
creative work, nor would know how to use it, is only a sign that
we are still living in the shadow of the coercive and dwarfing
influences of the past.

In an interesting article on woman's intellectual work, W. Thomas
(1907, "Sex and Society") says:

     The American woman, with the enjoyment of greater liberty,
     has made an approach toward the standards of professional
     scholarship, and some individuals stand at the very top in their
     university studies and examinations. The trouble with these
     cases is that they are either swept away and engulfed by the
     modern system of marriage, or find themselves excluded in some
     intangible way from association with men in the fullest sense,
     and no career open to their talents.

He sees clearly that this is but a passing phase in the development
of our society, and he advocates a wider scope for the play of
married women's powers.

     The practice of an occupational activity of her own choosing,
     and a generous attitude towards this on the part of the man,
     would contribute to relieve the strain and make marriage more
     frequently successful.

When woman naturally develops the powers latent within her, man will
find at his side not only a mate, free and strong, but a desirable
friend and an intellectual comrade.

The desire for freedom, both for physical and mental exploration and
for experiences outside the sacred enclosure of the home, may at
first sight appear to be conflicting and entirely incompatible with
the ideal of closer and more perfect unity between the married pair.
But this conflict is only apparent, though it is true that most
writers have failed to realise this. Consequently in some sections
of the writing and teaching of the "advanced" schools there are
claims only for increased freedom--a freedom to wander at will--a
freedom in which the wanderer does not return to his fixed centre.

On the other hand there are those who realise principally the beauty
of married unity, and, concentrating on the demand for the unity and
extremest stability on the part of the married pair, are very apt
to ignore the enriching flow of a wide life's experiences. They try
to dam up the fertilising tide of life, and thus, though they are
unconscious of what they are doing, they tend to reduce the richness
and beauty of marriage.

It is for the young people of the new generation to realise that the
two currents of longing which spring up within them--the longing
for a full life-experience and the longing for a close union with a
lifelong mate--are not incompatible, but are actually both essential
parts of the more perfect and fuller beauty of the future that
already seeks to find its expression in their lives.

Ellen Key ("Love and Marriage") seems to fear the widening of the
married woman's life, and she writes as though the aspiration to do
professional and intellectual work of a high order must dwarf and
sterilise the mother in the married woman.

She writes of a more northerly people, the Scandinavians, and it
may be true of her countrywomen, I do not know. But it is _not_
essentially and universally true. I am writing of the English,
the English of to-day, and though we also have among us that
dwarfed and sterilised type of woman, she forms in our community a
dwindling minority. The majority of our best women enter marriage
and motherhood, or else long for a marriage more beautiful than the
warped mockery of it that is offered them.

As Mrs. Stetson says ("Women and Economics"):

     In the primal physical functions of maternity the human female
     cannot show that her supposed specialisation to these uses has
     improved her fulfilment of them, rather the opposite. The more
     freely the human mother mingles in the natural industries of a
     human creature, as in the case of the savage woman, the peasant
     woman, the working woman everywhere who is not overworked, the
     more rightly she fulfils these functions.

     The more absolutely the woman is segregated to sex-functions
     only, cut off from all economic use and made wholly dependent on
     the sex-relation as means of a livelihood, the more pathological
     does her motherhood become. The over-development of sex caused
     by her economic dependence on the male reacts unfavourably
     on her essential duties. She is too female for the perfect

The majority of our young women, I am convinced, have in them
the potentiality of a full and perfected love. So, too, have the
majority of our young men. For the best type of young man to-day is
tired of polygamy; he has seen enough in his father's and friends'
lives of the weariness of the sinister, secret polygamy, that hides
itself and rots the race under the protecting cloak of the supposed
monogamy of our social system.

But as things are at present in England, the young man who marries,
however much he may be in love, is generally too ignorant (as has
been indicated in the preceding chapters) to give his wife all
her nature requires. Then, sooner or later, comes the sequence of
disappointments which culminate in the longing for a fresh adventure.

As one young husband said to me, "A decent man can't go on having
unions with his wife when she obviously does not enjoy them," and so
he is forced to "go elsewhere." "And they call us polygamists! We
are not polygamists any longer. But marriage is a rotten failure,"
was his verdict.

No. They are not polygamists, the finest young men of the present
and of the future. Most men to-day are not in their heart of hearts
polygamists, in spite of all the outward signs to the contrary; in
spite of the fact that so few of them have remained faithful to one
woman. But they are ignorant of the sex-laws and traditions, that
sex-knowledge which was the heritage of much less civilised tribes,
and so they have trampled and crushed out the very thing for the
growth of which their hearts are aching.

Hence secretly (for in a marriage that is at least superficially
happy the man seldom does this openly) the man begins to crave for
another type of society and he "goes elsewhere." Not, it is true,
to find, or even in the hope of finding, what he would get from a
perfect marriage; but often to satisfy in some measure that yearning
for fresh experience, for romance, and for that sense of fusion
with another in the romantic experience which, even if it is only a
delusion of the senses, is yet one of the most precious things life
has to offer.

It is hard, indeed in many cases it seems impossible, for a good
woman to understand what it is that draws her husband from her.
Restricted by habit and convention in the exercise of her faculties,
she is unaware of the ever-narrowing range of her interest and her
powers of conversation. The home life tends to become that of a
fenced pond, instead of a great ocean with innumerable currents.
From the restricted and fenced man's instinct is ever to escape.
Man's opportunities for exploration in the cities are few, and the
prostitute is one of the most obvious doors of escape into new

Women feel a so righteous and instinctive horror of prostitution,
and regarding it they experience an indignation so intense, that
they do not seek to understand the man's attitude.

The prostitute, however, sometimes supplies an element which is not
purely physical, and which is often lacking in the wife's relation
with her husband, an element of charm and mutual gaiety in pleasure.

If good women realised this, while they would judge and endeavour
to eliminate prostitution no less strenuously, they might be in a
better position to begin their efforts to free men from the hold
that social disease has upon them.

It is perhaps impossible to find the beginning of a vicious circle,
but the first step out of it must be the realisation that one
is within it, and the realisation of some, at any rate, of its
component parts.

Man, through prudery, through the custom of ignoring the woman's
side of marriage and considering his own whim as marriage law,
has largely lost the art of stirring a chaste partner to physical
love. He therefore deprives her of a glamour, the loss of which he
deplores, for he feels a lack not only of romance and beauty, but
of something higher which is mystically given as the result of the
complete union. He blames his wife's "coldness" instead of his own
want of art. Then he seeks elsewhere for the things she could have
given him had he known how to win them. And she, knowing that the
shrine has been desecrated, is filled with righteous indignation,
though generally as blind as he is to the true cause of what has

Manifold and far-reaching, influencing the whole structure of
society not only in this country, but in every country and at
every time, have been the influences which have grown up from the
root-fallacy in the marriage relation.

Then there is another cause for the dulling of a wife's bright
charm--her inferior position in the eyes of the law. It is indeed a
serious matter, as Jean Finot says, "that, under present conditions,
the mistress keeps certain liberties which are denied to married

The past and its history have been studied by many, and we may leave
it. What concerns the present generation of young married people is
to-day and the future. The future is full of hope. Already one sees
beginning to grow up a new relationship between the units composing

In the noblest society love will hold sway. The love of mates will
always be the supremest life experience, but it will no longer be an
experience exclusive and warped.

The love of friends and children, of comrades and fellow-workers,
will but serve to develop every power of the two who are mates. By
mingling the greatness of their individual stature they can achieve
together something that, had both or either been dwarfed and puny
individuals, would have remained for ever unattainable.

The whole trend of the evolution of human society has been toward an
increased coherence of all its parts, until at the present time it
is already almost possible to say that the community has an actual
life on a plane above that of all the individuals composing it:
that the community, in fact, is a super-entity. It is through the
community of human beings, and not in our individual lives, that we
reach an ultimate permanence upon this globe.

When our relation to the community is fully realised, it will be
seen that the health, the happiness, and the consequent powers of
every individual, concern not only his own life, but also affect
the whole community of which he is a member.

The happiness of a perfect marriage, which enhances the vitality
of the private life, renders one not only capable of adding to
the stream of the life-blood of the community in children, but by
marriage one is also rendered a fitter and more perfect instrument
for one's own particular work, the results of which should be shared
by society as a whole, and in the tempering and finishing of which
society plays a part.

Thus it is the concern of the whole community that marriage should
be as perfect, and hence as joyous, as possible; so that the powers
which should be set free and created for the purpose of the whole
community should not be frittered away in the useless longing and
disappointment engendered by ignorance, narrow restrictions, and low

In the world the happily mated pair should be like a great and
beautiful light; a light not hid under a bushel, but one whose beams
shine through the lives of all around them.

Chapter XI.

The Glorious Unfolding

    Let knowledge grow from more to more,
    but more of reverence in us dwell.


We are surrounded in this world by processes and transmutations so
amazing that were they not taking place around us hourly they would
be scouted as impossible imaginings.

A mind must be dull and essentially lacking in wonderment which,
without amazement, can learn for the first time that the air we
breathe, apparently so uniform in its invisible unity, is in reality
composed of two principal, and several other, gases. The two gases,
however, are but mixed as wine may be with water, and each gas by
itself is a colourless air, visually like that mixture of the two
which we call the atmosphere.

Much greater is the miracle of the composition of water. It is made
of only two gases, one of them a component of the air we breathe,
and the other similarly invisible and odourless, but far lighter.
These two invisible gases, when linked in a proportion proper to
their natures, fuse and are no longer ethereal and invisible, but
precipitate in a new substance--water.

The waves of the sea with their thundering power, the sparkling
tides of the river buoying the ships, are but the transmuted
resultants of the union of two invisible gases. And this, in its
simplest terms, is a parable of the infinitely complex and amazing
transmutations of married love.

Ellis expresses the strange mystery of one of the physical sides of
love when he says:

     What has always baffled men in the contemplation of sexual
     love is the seeming inadequacy of its cause, the immense
     discrepancy between the necessarily circumscribed regions of
     mucous membrane which is the final goal of such love and the
     sea of world-embracing emotions to which it seems the door, so
     that, as Remy de Gourmont has said, "the mucous membranes, by an
     ineffable mystery, enclose in their obscure folds all the riches
     of the infinite." It is a mystery before which the thinker and
     the artist are alike overcome.

To me, however, the recent discoveries of physiology seem to
afford a key which may unlock a chamber of the mystery and admit
us to one of the halls of the palace of truth. The hormones (see
page 61) in each individual body pour from one organ and affect
another, and thus influence the whole character of the individual's
life processes. The visible secretions and the most subtle essences
which pass during union between man and woman, affect the lives
of each and are essentially vital to each other. As I see them,
the man and the woman are each organs, parts, of the other. And
in the strictest scientific, as well as in a mystical, sense they
_together_ are a single unit, an individual entity. There is a
_physiological_ as well as a spiritual truth in the words "they
twain shall be one flesh."

In love it is not only that the yearning of the bonds of affinity
to be satisfied is met by the linking with another, but that out of
this union there grows a new and unprecedented creation.

In this I am not speaking of the bodily child which springs from
the love of its parents, but of the super-physical entity created
by the perfect union in love of man and woman. Together, united by
the love bonds which hold them, they are a new and wondrous thing
surpassing, and different from, the arithmetical sum of them both
when separate.

So seldom has the perfection of this new creation been experienced,
that we are still far short even of imagining its full potentialities,
but that it must have mighty powers we dimly realise.

Youths and maidens stirred by the attraction of love, feel
hauntingly and inarticulately that there is before them an immense
and beautiful experience: feel as though in union with the beloved
there will be added powers of every sort which have no measure in
terms of the ordinary unmated life.

These prophetic dreams, if they are not true of each individual
life, are yet true of the race as a whole. For in the dreams of
youth to-day is a foreshadowing of the reality of the future.

So accustomed have we recently become to accept one aspect
of organic evolution, that we tend to see in youth only a
recapitulation of our race's history. The well-worn phrase "Ontogeny
repeats Phylogeny" has helped to concentrate our attention on the
fact that the young in their development, in ourselves as in the
animals, go through many phases which resemble the stages through
which the whole race must have passed in the course of its evolution.

While this is true, there is another characteristic of youth: It is

The dreams of youth, which each young heart expects to see fulfilled
in its own life, seem so often to fade unfulfilled. But that is
because the wonderful powers of youth are not supplied with the
necessary tool--knowledge. And so potentialities, which could have
worked miracles, are allowed to atrophy and die.

But as humanity orients itself more truly, more and more will the
knowledge and experience of the whole race be placed at the disposal
of all youth on its entry into life.

Then that glorious upspringing of the racial ideal, which finds its
expression in each unspoiled generation of youth, will at last meet
with a store of knowledge sufficient for its needs, and will find
ready as a tool to its hand the accumulated and sifted wisdom of the

Then youth will be spared the blunders and the pain and the
unconscious self-destruction that to-day leaves scarcely anyone

In my own life, comparatively short and therefore lacking in
experience though it be, I have known both personally and
vicariously so much anguish that might have been prevented by
knowledge. This impels me not to wait till my experience and
researches are complete, and my life and vital interest are fading,
but to hand on at once those gleanings of wisdom I have already
accumulated which may help the race to understand itself. Hence I
conclude this little book, for, though incomplete, it contains some
of the vital things youth should be told.

In all life activities, house-building, hunting or any other, where
intellectual and oral tradition comes in, as it does with the human
race, "instinct" tends to die out. Thus the human mother is far
less able to manage her baby without instruction than is a cat her
kittens; although the human mother at her best has, in comparison
with the cat, an infinitude of duties toward, and influences over,
her child.

A similar truth holds in relation to marriage. The century-long
following of various "civilised" customs has not only deprived our
young people of most of the instinctive knowledge they might have
possessed, but has given rise to innumerable false and polluting

Though many write on the art of managing children, few have anything
to say about the art of marriage, save those who have some dogma,
often theological or subversive of natural law, to proclaim.

Any fundamental truth regarding marriage is rendered immeasurably
difficult to ascertain because of the immense ranges of variety in
human beings, even of the same race, many of which result from the
artificial conditions and the unnatural stimuli so prevalent in what
we call civilisation. To attempt anything like a serious study of
marriage in all its varieties would be a monumental work. Those who
have even partially undertaken it have tended to become entangled in
a maze of abnormalities, so that the needs of the normal, healthy,
romantic person have been overlooked.

Each pair, therefore, has tended to repeat the blunders from which
it might have been saved, and to stumble blindly in a maze of
difficulties which are not the essential heritage of humanity, but
are due to the unreasoning folly of our present customs.

I have written this book for those who enter marriage normally and
healthily, and with optimism and hope.

If they learn its lessons they may be saved from some of the
pitfalls in which thousands have wrecked their happiness, but they
must not think that they will thereby easily attain the perfection
of marriage. There are myriad subtleties in the adjustment of any
two individuals.

Each pair must, using the tenderest and most delicate touches, sound
and test each other, learning their way about the intricacies of
each other's hearts.

Sometimes, with all the knowledge and the best will in the world,
two who have married find that they cannot fuse their lives; of this
tragedy I have not here anything to say; but ordinary unhappiness
would be less frequent than it is were the tenderness of _knowledge_
applied to the problem of mutual adjustment from the first day of

All the deepest and highest forces within us impel us to evolve an
ever nobler and tenderer form of life-long monogamy as our social
ideal. While the thoughtful and tenderhearted must seek, with ever
greater understanding, to ease and comfort those who miss this
joyful natural development, reformers in their zeal for side-issues
must not forget the main growth of the stock. The beautiful sense
for love in the hearts of the young should be encouraged, and they
should have access to the knowledge of how to cultivate it, instead
of being diverted by the clamour for "freedom" to destroy it.

Disillusioned middle age is apt to look upon the material side of
the marriage relation, to see its solid surface in the cold, dull
light of everyday experience; while youth, irradiated by the glow of
its dreams, is unaware how its aerial and celestial phantasies are
broken and shattered when unsuspectingly brought up against the hard
facts of physical reality.

The transmutation of material facts by celestial phantasies is
to some extent within the power of humanity, even the imperfect
humanity of to-day.

When knowledge and love together go to the making of each marriage,
the joy of _that new unit, the pair_ will reach from the physical
foundations of its bodies to the heavens where its head is crowned
with stars.

_Addition_ 1 (_to page_ 49)

A curious rigidity of mental and physical capacity seems to
characterise some excellent and well-meaning people, and among those
whose marriages unaccountably fail to reach just that height of
perfection in a physical sense which they may intellectually desire,
are those who are either entirely ignorant that sex union may be
accomplished in many various positions, or those who consider any
other position but the most usual one to be wrong.

Yet, curiously enough, it sometimes comes to light that a pair do
not even know the usual position, and in my own experience several
couples who have failed to have children, or have failed to obtain
the complete delight of union, have revealed that the woman did
not know that it is not only her arms which should embrace her
lover. Consequently, entry was to him both difficult and sometimes

In addition to this, the encouragement of that spontaneous movement
which comes so naturally to those who are highly stirred, needs
in far too many of our moderns to be cultivated. A pair should,
impelled by the great wave of feeling within them, be as pliable as
the sea-plants moved by the rushing tides, and they should discover
for themselves which of the innumerable possible positions of
equilibrium results in the greatest mutual satisfaction. In this
matter, as in so many others of the more intimate phases of sex
life, there should not harden a routine, but the body should become
at the service of intense feeling a keen and pliable instrument.

_Addition_ 2 (_to page_ 83)

It must be remembered that the parallel of the more primitive
creatures cannot be pressed too far, because in a thousand ways we
highly civilised human beings have developed in fresh directions
away from our ancestral habits. This question, of whether or not it
is right and wise to have sex unions during pregnancy, is one on
which scientific research should be undertaken. Far too few men and
women are clean-minded and frank enough to record their feelings in
this connection, and far too few medical men delicately sympathetic
enough to elicit the facts even from those women who are personally
conscious of them. The little evidence which I have acquired
through direct personal confidences about this subject points in
absolutely conflicting directions, and there is little doubt that
in this particular, even more than in so many others, the health,
needs, and mental condition of women who are bearing children
vary profoundly. From one distinguished medical specialist I have
acquired the interesting suggestion that in one or two cases among
his own patients, where the prospective mother had desired unions
and the husband had denied them thinking it in her interest, the
doctor had observed that the children seemed to grow up restless,
uncontrollable, and with an unduly marked tendency to self-abuse.
On this most suggestive and important idea, I would gladly obtain
evidence from parents and the medical profession, for only from a
large number of cases can reliable conclusions be drawn. But just
as in popular opinion it is good for the child and the woman to
gratify any harmless fancy for food which she may develop, so, in
my opinion, it seems probable that any desire for moderate and
careful sex union between the prospective mother and the father of
the coming child should be gratified in the interests of all three.
But this opinion is expressed merely provisionally, and largely
in response to a number of inquirers who have asked me about this
point. Immoderate and excessive sex union must undoubtedly be looked
upon as an unfavourable symptom, and a practising doctor should be
consulted about it.

A woman who is bearing a child by the man she deeply loves, has an
intense longing that he should share, so far as is possible, in
influencing that child while it is coming, and that he should be
as near and as close to it and to her as is possible. The basis of
this longing we may well imagine may be not only a tender sentiment
of the brain, but may depend on that fine sensual interchange of
ultra-microscopic particles which must take place between skin and
skin during physical contact, the idea of which is so beautifully
foreshadowed in Carpenter's "Love's Coming of Age."

A woman who is bearing a child should not--indeed, she cannot--have
the intensest form of muscular orgasm, but this subtler and
deeper sweetening and harmonising union has not only a romantic
justification, but will, I think, be proved by Science, when Science
becomes sensitive enough to handle such delicate things, to have a
real bio-chemical basis.

As so many people lack a due visualising imagination, perhaps
I should add that the ordinary position of union is not
suitable--indeed, may be very well most harmful--to a woman during
this time; but she and her husband can easily so intertwine
themselves that the weight of both is lying upon the bed or upon
pillows, and so no pressure falls upon the woman.

_Addition_ 3 (_to page_ 85)

Although it is out of the province of this book to give advice about
the more material and better-known details of the general management
of the health of the prospective mother, yet there are one or two
very important points generally overlooked which profoundly affect
both the woman's health and happiness, and may affect also the
child. For instance, leading medical experts are in the habit of
considering the "morning sickness" which is so usual in the early
months of pregnancy as a "physiological process," and to look upon
it complacently as perfectly normal and to be endured as a matter of
course. This marks a deplorably low standard of health. Why should
this comparatively small but nauseating experience accompany what
should be among the most rapturously beautiful months of a woman's
life? In my opinion there is no reason for this at all, except that
medical men have been blind leaders of the blind; accustomed always
to deal with invalids or semi-invalids, they have lost the instinct
to demand of humanity a high and buoyant state of health, while
women so harried by the undue drains of unregulated sex experience,
with vitality so lowered by "civilised" life, have seen one another
suffering on all sides until they too have lost the racial memory of
radiant bodily beauty and health.

Here and there an exceptional woman has gone through the months of
pregnancy with no handicap, with not even morning sickness. Instead
of looking upon her as an enviable exception, as all do now, look
upon her as the normal standard which all should attain! One of the
aids to attaining this standard for every prospective mother would
be the knowledge by all adult women that, directly they know they
are bearing a child, they should instantly discard not only all
corsets, but all clothes of every kind which are heavy and close
or which have any definite bands or tight fastenings. Specialists
are content to say no harm accrues if a woman wears "comfortable"
corsets until the third or fourth month. I denounce this as
misleading folly. The sensitiveness to pressure, often unconscious,
at such a time is extraordinary, and the penalty of even the
lightest pressure is the morning sickness. The standard of clothing
should be so light, so loose, that a butterfly could walk upon the
bare skin beneath the clothes without breaking its wings. This may
seem exaggerated to nearly everyone, but it is a very profound truth.

Another aid to buoyant health during this time is to add to the diet
the largest possible amount of uncooked fruit, particularly oranges,
plums, and apples.

Various books have been written on the health in pregnancy, though
few of these are enlightened. Although one must deplore the many
mistakes in elementary chemistry which are made therein, by far
the best of the books on this subject known to me is Dr. Alice
Stockham's "Tokology." In this book it is only such comparative
trifles as the calling of carbonaceous material _carbonates_ which,
though sufficient to prejudice the scientific mind against the rest
of her work, does not really affect the profound truth of the gist
of her message--a message which was first given to the public by a
wise old Englishman long ago.

_Addition_ 4 (_to page_ 85)

Owing partly to the incredible ignorance of our bodily structure
in which it is possible for a grown man or woman not only to enter
marriage but to be married for years, sometimes apparently childless
unions are not in any sense due to the incapacity of either partner
for parenthood, but are due sometimes to trifling impediments which
can easily be removed, or to trifling peculiarities of construction
which can very simply be overcome.

While the great majority of married couples are actually suffering,
or would suffer, without the exertion of definite control, from
too many pregnancies there are still--particularly in the middle
and upper classes--many would-be parents who long for children
but seem to be mysteriously deprived of them. Doctors may have
examined both the man and the woman, and pronounced them perfectly
normal, perfectly healthy, and perfectly capable of having children
together, and yet children do not come. Sometimes this is caused
by an undue activity of a slightly acid secretion on the part of
the woman, a secretion doing her no harm and of which she is quite
unconscious, but which may be sufficient to render the active
sperm impotent. Sometimes, therefore, it is sufficient to ensure
conception for the woman to syringe the vagina with a little weak
neutralising solution such as sodium carbonate shortly before sex
union. Another cause which sometimes operates against the vital
sperm penetrating to the waiting ovum is an excess of mucus at the
mouth of the womb. In such a case it is important that a really
complete and muscularly energetic orgasm should be achieved by the
woman, not before but coincident with or after the sperm has been
ejaculated. It is often argued that it makes no difference whether
or not the woman has a complete orgasm, for so many cases are
recorded in which women who have never experienced an orgasm have
had many children; but it is generally forgotten that women are of
many different types, and while one type of woman, the very fruitful
mother with a wide vagina and but slight internal mucus, may
conceive a dozen times without an orgasm, the more highly nervous,
equally perfect, woman may only conceive on the occasion when she
experiences an orgasm whilst the sperm are actually in the vagina.

Another slight obstacle to conception on the part of a woman which
is not infrequent is the position of the mouth of the womb and the
relation of the vaginal canal, which may be such that the spermatic
fluid tends to be lost without any of it penetrating the orifice of
the womb itself. To overcome this it is often sufficient for the
woman to turn over directly the act of union is complete and lie
face downwards for a few hours.

Without any question, all women have times of greater or less
reproductive vitality, but in some women this is less marked than
in others, and with some conception may take place at almost any
date in the menstrual month; but with other women there is a group
of days ranging from three or four to a dozen or more, in which
conception seems to be impossible; while, on the other side of this
group of neutral days, the days grade upwards towards a date of
greater reproductive potency. Therefore, a woman and her husband who
desire children, but have not after some years of marriage had the
good fortune to attain parenthood, should choose for their acts of
union those days on which conception is most likely. It is generally
found that the most certain date for conception is--with very few
exceptions--about the last day of the monthly period, or the day or
two immediately after it; so that the husband who ardently desires
his wife to conceive should, with her consent, concentrate their
unions so far as possible on such dates.

On the other hand, it must not be forgotten that the effect on the
whole nervous system of the desire to conceive is very great. A too
frantic desire, which leads to too frequently repeated unions, will
probably defeat itself, because it is not the mere coalescence of
the sperm with the ovum which completes conception, it is also the
attachment of that impregnated ovum to the wall of the womb, and
intense nervous excitement may prevent that. Indeed, it has been
stated by a medical man of considerable weight in the last century
that there are women among those races to whom sex-knowledge is not
taboo who can voluntarily control conception at will and consciously
expel an impregnated ovum by mere exercise of nervous force. A
woman in modern society who is in a highly nervous condition,
which may find expression in her constant need of cigarettes or
excitement, may be (though this is by no means universally true)
frequently impregnated and at the same time continually throwing off
the impregnated ovum before the settling down of that ovum, which
results in true conception, can take place. If, therefore, the
woman who urgently desires to be a mother finds herself continuously
smoking, or notes in herself any other indication of a lack of
placidity in her nerves, she would do well--not merely to restrict
her smoking, which is nothing but a symptom of a deeper need--but
she would do well to restore so far as possible a calm poise to her
whole system by longer sleep, more country air, plenty of fresh
butter, or whatever simple remedy it may be that will supply her
nerves with something lacking, and for which she is unconsciously

Although to many it may seem incredible, yet it is not so rare as
might be supposed, that the adult pair may be married for years,
and the wife still physically a virgin owing to neither of the
pair knowing that penetration must be effected. Amazing as it
may seem, four or five such cases, all of intelligent apparently
average people, have come to my direct knowledge in the course of
one year alone. Another cause, less extreme, is due to the woman
making full entry difficult or impossible by not taking up a proper
position during union. (See also p. 114.) In such cases a knowledge
of the true details involved may speedily bring the desired

These very simple suggestions are of the kind often overlooked by
the medical specialist, to whom a woman goes tremblingly asking if
she is abnormally formed in any way, because she does not get the
children she so much longs for. Such advice, of course, will apply
only to people who are essentially normal and without deformity. For
more serious obstructions to parenthood, the pair, and not the woman
only, should seek medical advice.


     NOTE 1.--(See p. 24.)

     For suffering and even death of unmated females, see _e.g._
     MARSHALL, in _Quarterly Journal Microscopical Society_, Vol. 48,
     1904, p. 323.

     PARSONS, in _British Medical Journal_, October, 1904.

     NOTE 2.--(See p. 31.)

     A frequent mistake (made even by gynæcologists) is to confuse
     menstruation with the "period of desire," which is generally
     called "heat" in animals. Even in the most authoritative recent
     text books, such phrases as "heat and menstruation" are very
     common, thus coupling heat and menstruation as though they were
     equivalents, while the older books quite explicitly look on the
     menstrual period in women as corresponding to desire of "heat"
     in animals. This error has even been repeated very recently in
     the _Proceedings_ of the Royal Society of Medicine.[13]

       [13] See Dr. Raymond Crawfurd's mistaken statement that "the
       identity of oestrus, or 'heat' in the lower animals and of
       menstruation in the human female, admits of no doubt." P. 62
       _Proc._ Roy. Soc. Medicine, vol. 9., 1916.

     Some physiologists have studied this subject in several of the
     higher animals, and now realise that the time of desire is
     physiologically distinct from the phase which is represented by
     menstruation in women. It seems to be fairly well established
     that in women menstruation is caused by an internal secretion of
     the ovaries (_c.f._ p. 61), and is not directly due to ovulation,
     though it must have some connection with it.[14]

       [14] The best modern account of these complex subjects will
       be found in the advanced text-book, "The Physiology of
       Reproduction," pp. xvii., 706, by F. H. A. Marshall. Reference
       may be made to original papers by J. Beard in the _Anat.
       Anzeiger_ for 1897; and by Heape in the _Philosophical Trans._
       Royal Society, 1894, 97.

     The most that modern science appears to have attained is briefly
     summarised in the following quotation from Marshall ("The
     Physiology of Reproduction," p. 69): "According to Martin and
     certain other writers, the human, female often experiences a
     distinct post-menstrual oestrus [Modern research has recognised
     a period when the female animal is ready for impregnation, which
     is called the oestrus, and a preparatory series of physiological
     changes called the pro-estrous phase.--M.C.S.], at which sexual
     desire is greater than at other times; so that, although
     conception can occur throughout the intermenstrual periods, it
     would seem probable that originally coition was restricted to
     definite periods of oestrus following menstrual or pro-estrous
     periods in women, as in females of other mammalia. On this point
     Heape writes as follows: 'This special time for oestrus in the
     human female has very frequently been denied, and, no doubt,
     modern civilisation and modern social life do much to check
     the natural sexual instinct where there is undue strain on the
     constitution, or to stimulate it at other times where extreme
     vigour is the result. For these reasons a definite period of
     oestrus may readily be interfered with, but the instinct is, I
     am convinced, still marked.'"

     In nearly all wild animals there is a definite period for sexual
     excitement, very commonly just at that time of the year which
     fits into the span of gestation, so that the young are born
     at the season which gives them the best chance to grow up. In
     animals the period of desire, the ovulation (or setting free of
     the female germ or unfertilised egg-cell) and the time of the
     birth of the young, are all co-related harmoniously. The male
     animal is only allowed to approach the female when the natural
     longing for union is upon her. Among human beings, the only race
     which seems to have long periods of sexual quiescence at all
     comparable with those natural to the animals are the Esquimaux,
     who appear to pass many months without any unions of the men and




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"Dr. Marie Stopes has endeavoured to meet the need of healthy young
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responsibilities of marriage. Though not a medical woman, the author
has special qualifications for this task: with high scientific
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idealism, and more than common courage.... To the married and to
those about to marry, provided they are normal in mind and body
and not afraid of facing facts, this should prove a most helpful
book."--_British Medical Journal._

"It is probably the most important contribution to the sex problem
that has ever been made really _accessible_ to the English
public."--_Cambridge Magazine._

"In saying that, unless the art of love is studied, marriage cannot
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In exquisite quality of understanding the book is a contribution
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London: A. C. Fifield, 13 Clifford's Inn, E.C.4

_By the same Author_







(_Postage 2d.; postage abroad, registered, 4d._)

As not only individual inquirers, but the world at large, and even
the medical profession, lack a rational, scientific and critical
consideration of the effects of the birth-control methods now used
by millions of people, this little book seems urgently needed. It is
hoped that it will help materially to improve our race and to check
the spread of nervous and other injuries so prevalent as a result of
ignorant attempts to obtain that wise and health-giving control of
parenthood which all who think must crave.

It forms a sequel of practical advice to the same author's book,
"Married Love," of which serious and enthusiastic reviews have been
published in many medical and popular journals.

     "We hope millions and tens of millions of this manual gets into
     the hands of the younger generation."--_Cambridge Magazine._

     "I would strongly recommend any who are interested in the
     practical aspect [the scientific method of birth control] to
     read a little book which has just appeared, from the pen of
     Dr. Marie C. Stopes, 'Wise Parenthood,'"--C. Killick Millard
     (Medical Officer of Health for Leicester) in _Medical Officer_,
     Dec. 7th, 1918.

     "The method is that which people, including many doctors, want
     to know.... It meets the immense æsthetic difficulties.... The
     work is especially for those happy people who recognise the
     kindred duty and delight of having, by a healthy mother, healthy
     children."--_The Hospital._

London: A. C. Fifield, 13 Clifford's Inn, E.C. 4

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's note:

The footnote on page 17 says "The italics are mine.--M. C. S.",
however, there are no italics found in the designated paragraph.

Minor typographical and punctuation errors have been corrected
without note. Irregularities and inconsistencies in the text have
been retained as printed.

The cover for the eBook version of this book was created by the
transcriber and is placed in the public domain.

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