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II.4. The Wild Weddings; or, the Polygamy Charge
"A modern man," said Dr. Cyrus Pym, "must, if he be thoughtful, approach the
problem of marriage with some caution. Marriage is a stage--doubtless a suitable
stage--in the long advance of mankind towards a goal which we cannot as yet
conceive; which we are not, perhaps, as yet fitted even to desire. What,
gentlemen, is the ethical position of marriage? Have we outlived it?"
"Outlived it?" broke out Moon; "why, nobody's ever survived it! Look at all the
people married since Adam and Eve--and all as dead as mutton."
"This is no doubt an inter-pellation joc'lar in its character," said Dr. Pym frigidly. "I
cannot tell what may be Mr. Moon's matured and ethical view of marriage--"
"I can tell," said Michael savagely, out of the gloom. "Marriage is a duel to the
death, which no man of honour should decline."
"Michael," said Arthur Inglewood in a low voice, "you MUST keep quiet."
"Mr. Moon," said Pym with exquisite good temper, "probably regards the
institution in a more antiquated manner. Probably he would make it stringent and
uniform. He would treat divorce in some great soul of steel--the divorce of a
Julius Caesar or of a Salt Ring Robinson-- exactly as he would treat some no-
account tramp or labourer who scoots from his wife. Science has views broader
and more humane. Just as murder for the scientist is a thirst for absolute
destruction, just as theft for the scientist is a hunger for monotonous acquisition,
so polygamy for the scientist is an extreme development of the instinct for
variety. A man thus afflicted is incapable of constancy. Doubtless there is a
physical cause for this flitting from flower to flower-- as there is, doubtless, for the
intermittent groaning which appears to afflict Mr. Moon at the present moment.
Our own world-scorning Winterbottom has even dared to say, `For a certain rare
and fine physical type polygamy is but the realization of the variety of females, as