Studies in the Psychology of Sex, Volume 3 by Havelock Ellis - HTML preview
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The justification for using the term "tumescence," which I here propose, is to be found in the fact that vascular congestion, more especially of the parts related to generation, is an essential preliminary to acute sexual desire.
This is clearly brought out in Heape's careful study of the "sexual season" in mammals. Heape distinguishes between the "pro-estrum," or preliminary period of congestion, in female animals and the immediately following
"estrus," or period of desire. The latter period is the result of the former, and, among the lower animals at all events, intercourse only takes place during the estrus, not during the pro-estrum. Tumescence must thus be obtained before desire can become acute, and courtship runs pari passu with physiological processes. "Normal estrus," Heape states, "occurs in conjunction with certain changes in the uterine tissue, and this is accompanied by congestion and stimulation or irritation of the copulatory organs.... Congestion is invariably present and is an essential condition.... The first sign of pro-estrum noticed in the lower mammals is a swollen and congested vulva and a general restlessness, excitement, or uneasiness. There are other signs familiar to breeders of various mammals, such as the congested conjunctiva of the rabbit's eye and the drooping ears of the pig. Many monkeys exhibit congestion of the face and nipples, as well as of the buttocks, thighs, and neighboring parts; sometimes they are congested to a very marked extent, and in some species a swelling, occasionally prodigious, of the soft tissues round the anal and generative openings, which is also at the time brilliantly congested, indicates the progress of the pro-estrum.... The growth of the stroma-tissue [in the uterus of monkeys during the pro-estrum] is rapidly followed by an increase in the number and size of the vessels of the stroma; the whole becomes richly supplied with blood, and the surface is flushed and highly vascular. This process goes on until the whole of the internal stroma becomes tense and brilliantly injected with blood.... In all essential points the menstruation or pro-estrum of the human female is identical with that of monkeys.... Estrus is possible only after the changes due to pro-estrum have taken place in the uterus. A wave of disturbance, at first evident in the external generative organs, extends to the uterus, and after the various phases of pro-estrum have been gone through in that organ, and the excitement there is subsiding, it would seem as if the external organs gain renewed stimulus, and it is then that estrus takes place.... In all animals which have been investigated coition is not allowed by the female until some time after the swelling and congestion of the vulva and surrounding tissue are first demonstrated, and in those animals which suffer from a considerable discharge of blood the main portion of that discharge, if not the whole of it, will be evacuated before sexual intercourse is allowed." (W. Heape, "The 'Sexual Season' of Mammals,"
Quarterly Journal of Microscopical Science, vol. xliv, Part I, 1900. Estrus has since been fully discussed in Marshall's Physiology of Reproduction.) This description clearly brings out the fundamentally vascular character of the process I have termed "tumescence"; it must be added, however, that in man the nervous elements in the process tend to become more conspicuous, and more or less obliterate these primitive limitations of sexual desire.
(See "Sexual Periodicity" in the first volume of these Studies.) Moll subsequently restated his position with reference to my somewhat different analysis of the sexual impulse, still maintaining his original view ("Analyse des Geschlechtstriebes," Medizinische Klinik, Nos. 12 and 13, 1905; also Geschlecht und Gesellschaft, vol. ii, Nos. 9 and 10). Numa Praetorius ( Jahrbuch für Sexeuelle Zwischenstufen, 1904, p. 592) accepts contrectation, tumescence, and detumescence as all being stages in the same process, contrectation, which he defines as the sexual craving for a definite individual, coming first. Robert Müller ( Sexualbiologie, 1907, p. 37) criticises Moll much in the same sense as I have done and considers that contrectation and detumescence cannot be separated, but are two expressions of the same impulse; so also Max Katte, "Die Präliminarien des Geschlechtsaktes," Zeitschrift für Sexualwissenschaft, Oct., 1908, and G. Saint-Paul, L'Homosexualité et les Types Homosexuels, 1910, p. 390.
While I regard Moll's analysis as a valuable contribution to the elucidation of the sexual impulse, I must repeat that I cannot regard it as final or completely adequate. As I understand the process, contrectation is an incident in the development of tumescence, an extremely important incident indeed, but not an absolutely fundamental and primitive part of it. It is equally an incident, highly important though not primitive and fundamental, of detumescence. Contrectation, from first to last; furnishes the best conditions for the exercise of the sexual process, but it is not an absolutely essential part of the process and in the early stages of zoölogical development it had no existence at all. Tumescence and detumescence are alike fundamental, primitive, and essential; in resting the sexual impulse on these necessarily connected processes we are basing ourselves on the solid bedrock of nature.
Moreover, of the two processes, tumescence, which in time comes first, is by far the most important, and nearly the whole of sexual psychology is rooted in it. To assert, with Moll, that the sexual process may be analyzed into contrectation and detumescence alone is to omit the most essential part of the process. It is much the same as to analyze the mechanism of a gun into probable contact with the hand, and a more or less independent discharge, omitting all reference to the loading of the gun. The essential elements are the loading and the discharging.
Contrectation is a part of loading, though not a necessary part, since the loading may be effected mechanically. But to understand the process of firing a gun and to comprehend the mechanism of the discharge, we must insist on the act of loading and not merely on the contact of the hand. So it is in analyzing the sexual impulse. Contrectation is indeed highly important, but it is important only in so far as it aids tumescence, and so may be subordinated to tumescence, exactly as it may also be subordinated to detumescence. It is tumescence which is the really essential part of the process, and we cannot afford, with Moll, to ignore it altogether.
Wallace opposed Darwin's theory of sexual selection, but it can scarcely be said that his attitude toward it bears critical examination. On the one hand, as has already been noted, he saw but one side of that theory and that the unessential side, and, on the other hand, his own view really coincided with the more essential elements in Darwin's theory. In his Tropical Nature he admitted that the male's "persistency and energy win the day," and also that this "vigor and liveliness" of the male are usually associated with intense coloration, while twenty years later (in his Darwinism) he admitted also that it is highly probable that the female is pleased or excited by the male's display. But all that is really essential in Darwin's theory is involved, directly or indirectly, in these admissions.
Espinas, in 1878, in his suggestive book, Des Sociétés Animales, described the odors, colors and forms, sounds, games, parades, and mock battles of animals, approaching the subject in a somewhat more psychological spirit than either Darwin or Wallace, and he somewhat more clearly apprehended the object of these phenomena in producing mutual excitement and stimulating tumescence. He noted the significance of the action of the hermaphroditic snails in inserting their darts into each other's flesh near the vulva in order to cause preliminary excitation. He remarks of this whole group of phenomena: "It is the preliminary of sexual union, it constitutes the first act of it. By it the image of the male is graven on the consciousness of the female, and in a manner impregnates it, so as to determine there, as the effects of this representation descend to the depths of the organism, the physiological modifications necessary to fecundation." Beaunis, again, in an analysis of the sexual sensations, was inclined to think that the dances and parades of the male are solely intended to excite the female, not perceiving, however, that they at the same time serve to further excite the male also.
A better and more comprehensive statement was reached by Tillier, who, to some extent, may be said to have anticipated Groos. Darwin, Tillier pointed out, had not sufficiently taken into account the coexistence of combat and courtship, nor the order of the phenomena. Courtship without combat, Tillier argued, is rare; "there is a normal coexistence of combat and courtship." Moreover, he proceeded, force is the chief factor in determining the possession of the female by the male, who in some species is even prepared to exert force on her; so that the female has little opportunity of sexual selection, though she is always present at these combats. He then emphasized the significant fact that courtship takes place long after pairing has ceased, and the question of selection thus been eliminated. The object of courtship, he concluded, is not sexual selection by the female, but the sexual excitement of both male and female, such excitement, he asserted, not only rendering coupling easier, but favoring fecundation. Modesty, also, Tillier further argued, again anticipating Groos, works toward the same end; it renders the male more ardent, and by retarding coupling may also increase the secretions of the sexual glands and favor the chances of reproduction.
In a charming volume entitled The Naturalist in La Plata (1892) Mr. W. H. Hudson included a remarkable chapter on "Music and Dancing in Nature." In this chapter he described many of the dances, songs, and love-antics of birds, but regarded all such phenomena as merely "periodical fits of gladness." While, however, we may quite well agree with Mr. Hudson that conscious sexual gratification on the part of the female is not the cause of music and dancing performances in birds, nor of the brighter colors and ornaments that distinguish the male, such an opinion by no means excludes the conclusion that these phenomena are primarily sexual and intimately connected with the process of tumescence in both sexes. It is noteworthy that, according to H. E. Howard ("On Sexual Selection in Birds," Zoölogist, Nov., 1903), color is most developed just before pairing, rapidly becoming less beautiful—even within a few hours—after this, and the most beautiful male is most successful in getting paired. The fact that, as Mr. Hudson himself points out, it is at the season of love that these manifestations mainly, if not exclusively, appear, and that it is the more brilliant and highly endowed males which play the chief part in them, only serves to confirm such a conclusion. To argue, with Mr. Hudson, that they cannot be sexual because they sometimes occur before the arrival of the females, is much the same as to argue that the antics of a kitten with a feather or a reel have no relationship whatever to mice. The birds that began earliest to practise their accomplishments would probably have most chance of success when the females arrived. Darwin himself said that nothing is commoner than for animals to take pleasure in practising whatever instinct they follow at other times for some real good. These manifestations are primarily for the sake of producing sexual tumescence, and could not well have been developed to the height they have reached unless they were connected closely with propagation. That they may incidentally serve to express "gladness" one need not feel called upon to question.
Another observer of birds, Mr. E. Selous, has made observations which are of interest in this connection. He finds that all bird-dances are not nuptial, but that some birds—the stone-curlew (or great plover), for example—have different kinds of dances. Among these birds he has made the observation, very significant from our present point of view, that the nuptial dances, taken part in by both of the pair, are immediately followed by intercourse. In spring "all such runnings and chasings are, at this time, but a part of the business of pairing, and one divines at once that such attitudes are of a sexual character.... Here we have a bird with distinct nuptial (sexual) and social (non-sexual) forms of display or antics, and the former as well as the latter are equally indulged in by both sexes." (E. Selous, Bird Watching, pp. 15-20.)
The same author ( ibid. , pp. 79, 94) argues that in the fights of two males for one female—with violent emotion on one side and interested curiosity on the other—the attitude of the former "might gradually come to be a display made entirely for the female, and of the latter a greater or less degree of pleasurable excitement raised by it, with a choice in accordance." On this view the interest of the female would first have been directed, not to the plumage, but to the frenzied actions and antics of the male. From these antics in undecorated birds would gradually develop the interest in waving plumes and fluttering wings. Such a dance might come to be of a quite formal and non-courting nature.
Last, we owe to Professor Häcker what may fairly be regarded, in all main outlines, as an almost final statement of the matter. In his Gesang der Vögel (1900) he gives a very clear account of the evolution of bird-song, which he regards as the most essential element in all this group of manifestations, furnishing the key also to the dancing and other antics. Originally the song consists only of call-cries and recognition-notes. Under the parallel influence of natural selection and sexual selection they become at the pairing season reflexes of excitement and thus develop into methods of producing excitement, in the male by the muscular energy required, and in the female through the ear; finally they become play, though here also it is probable that use is not excluded. Thus, so far as the male bird is concerned, bird-song possesses a primary prenuptial significance in attracting the female, a secondary nuptial significance in producing excitement (p. 48). He holds also that the less-developed voices of the females aid in attaining the same end (p. 51). Finally, bird-song possesses a tertiary extranuptial significance (including exercise play, expression of gladness). Häcker points out, at the same time, that the maintenance of some degree of sexual excitement beyond pairing time may be of value for the preservation of the species, in case of disturbance during breeding and consequent necessity for commencing breeding over again.
Such a theory as this fairly coincides with the views brought forward in the preceding pages,—views which are believed to be in harmony with the general trend of thought today,—since it emphasizes the importance of tumescence and all that favors tumescence in the sexual process. The so-called esthetic element in sexual selection is only indirectly of importance. The male's beauty is really a symbol of his force.
It will be seen that this attitude toward the facts of tumescence among birds and other animals includes the recognition of dances, songs, etc., as expressions of "gladness." As such they are closely comparable to the art manifestations among human races. Here, as Weismann in his Gedanken über Musik has remarked, we may regard the artistic faculty as a by-product: "This [musical] faculty is, as it were, the mental hand with which we play on our own emotional nature, a hand not shaped for this purpose, not due to the necessity for the enjoyment of music, but owing its origin to entirely different requirements."
The psychological significance of these facts has been carefully studied and admirably developed by Groos in his classic works on the play instinct in animals and in men. Going beyond Wallace, Groos denies conscious sexual selection, but, as he points out, this by no means involves the denial of unconscious selection in the sense that "the female is most easily won by the male who most strongly excites her sexual instincts." Groos further quotes a pregnant generalization of Ziegler: "In all animals a high degree of excitement of the nervous system is necessary to procreation, and thus we find an excited prelude to procreation widely spread." Such a stage, indeed, as Groos points out, is usually necessary before any markedly passionate discharge of motor energy, as may be observed in angry dogs and the Homeric heroes. While, however, in other motor explosions the prelude may be reduced to a minimum, in courtship it is found in a highly marked degree. The primary object of courtship, Groos insists, is to produce sexual excitement.
It is true that Groos's main propositions were by no means novel. Thus, as I have pointed out, he was at most points anticipated by Tillier. But Groos developed the argument in so masterly a manner, and with so many wide-ranging illustrations, that he has carried conviction where the mere insight of others had passed unperceived. Since Darwin wrote the Descent of Man the chief step in the development of the theory of sexual selection has been taken by Groos, who has at the same time made it clear that sexual selection is largely a special case of natural selection. The conjunction of the sexes is seen to be an end only to be obtained with much struggle; the difficulty of achieving sexual erethism in both sexes, the difficulty of so stimulating such erethism in the female that her instinctive coyness is overcome, these difficulties the best and most vigorous males, those most adapted in other respects to carry on the race, may most easily overcome. In this connection we may note what Marro has said in another connection, when attempting to answer the question why it is that among savages courtship becomes so often a matter in which persuasion takes the form of force. The explanation, he remarks, is yet very simple. Force is the foundation of virility, and its psychic manifestation is courage. In the struggle for life violence is the first virtue. The modesty of women—in its primordial form consisting in physical resistance, active or passive, to the assaults of the male—aided selection by putting to the test man's most important quality, force.
Thus it is that when choosing among rivals for her favors a woman attributes value to violence. Marro thus independently confirms the result reached by Groos.
The debate which has for so many years been proceeding concerning the validity of the theory of sexual selection may now be said to be brought to an end. Those who supported Darwin and those who opposed him were, both alike, in part right and in part wrong, and it is now possible to combine the elements of truth on either side into a coherent whole. This is now beginning to be widely recognized; Lloyd Morgan, for instance, has readjusted his position as regards the "pairing instinct" in the light of Groos's contribution to the subject. "The hypothesis of sexual selection," he concludes, "suggests that the accepted male is the one which adequately evokes the pairing impulse.... Courtship may thus be regarded from the physiological point of view as a means of producing the requisite amount of pairing hunger; of stimulating the whole system and facilitating general and special vascular changes; of creating that state of profound and explosive irritability which has for its psychological concomitant or antecedent an imperious and irresistible craving.... Courtship is thus the strong and steady bending of the bow that the arrow may find its mark in a biological end of the highest importance in the survival of a healthy and vigorous race."
Having thus viewed the matter broadly, we may consider in detail a few examples of the process of tumescence among the lower animals and man, for, as will be seen, the process in both is identical. As regards animal courtship, the best treasury of facts is Brehm's Thierleben, while Büchner's Liebe und Liebes-Leben in der Thierwelt is a useful summary; the admirable discussion of bird-dancing and other forms of courtship in Häcker's Gesang der Vögel, chapter iv, may also be consulted. As regards man, Wallaschek's Primitive Music, chapter vii, brings together much scattered material, and is all the more valuable since the author rejects any form of sexual selection; Hirn's Origins of Art, chapter xvii, is well worth reading, and Finck's Primitive Love and Love-stories contains a large amount of miscellaneous information. I have preferred not to draw on any of these easily accessible sources (except that in one or two cases I have utilized references they supplied), but here simply furnish illustrations met with in the course of my own reading.
Even in the hermaphroditic slugs ( Limax maximus) the process of courtship is slow and elaborate. It has been described by James Bladon ("The Loves of the Slug [ Limax cinereus]," Zoölogist, vol. xv, 1857, p. 6272). It begins toward midnight on sultry summer nights, one slug slowly following another, resting its mouth on what may be called the tail of the first, and following its every movement. Finally they stop and begin crawling around each other, emitting large quantities of mucus. When this has constituted a mass of sufficient size and consistence they suspend themselves from it by a cord of mucus from nine to fifteen inches in length, continuing to turn round each other till their bodies form a cone. Then the organs of generation are protruded from their orifice near the mouth and, hanging down a short distance, touch each other. They also then begin again the same spiral motion, twisting around each other, like a two-strand cord, assuming various and beautiful forms, sometimes like an inverted agaric, or a foliated murex, or a leaf of curled parsley, the light falling on the ever-varying surface of the generative organs sometimes producing iridescence. It is not until after a considerable time that the organs untwist and are withdrawn and the bodies separate, to crawl up the suspending cord and depart.
Some snails have a special organ for creating sexual excitement. A remarkable part of the reproductive system in many of the true Helicidæ is the so-called dart, Liebespfeil, or telum Veneris. It consists of a straight or curved, sometimes slightly twisted, tubular shaft of carbonate of lime, tapering to a fine point above, and enlarging gradually, more often somewhat abruptly, to the base. The sides of the shaft are sometimes furnished with two or more blades; these are apparently not for cutting purposes, but simply to brace the stem. The dart is contained in a dart-sac, which is attached as a sort of pocket to the vagina, at no great distance from its orifice. In Helix aspersa the dart is about five-sixteenths of an inch in length, and one-eighth of an inch in breadth at its base. It appears most probable that the dart is employed as an adjunct for the sexual act. Besides the fact of the position of the dart-sac anatomically, we find that the darts are extended and become imbedded in the flesh, just before or during the act of copulation. It may be regarded, then, as an organ whose functions induce excitement preparatory to sexual union. It only occurs in well-grown specimens. (Rev. L. H. Cooke, "Molluscs," Cambridge Natural History, vol.
iii, p. 143.)
Racovitza has shown that in the octopus ( Octopus vulgaris) courtship is carried on with considerable delicacy, and not brutally, as had previously been supposed. The male gently stretches out his third arm on the right and caresses the female with its extremity, eventually passing it into the chamber formed by the mantle. The female contracts spasmodically, but does not attempt to move. They remain thus about an hour or more, and during this time the male shifts the arm from one oviduct to the other. Finally he withdraws his arm, caresses her with it for a few moments, and then replaces it with his other arm. (E. G. Racovitza, in Archives de Zoölogie Expérimentale, quoted in Natural Science, November, 1894.)
The phenomena of courtship are very well illustrated by spiders. Peckham, who has carefully studied them, tells us of Saitis pulex: "On May 24th we found a mature female, and placed her in one of the larger boxes, and the next day we put a male in with her. He saw her as she stood perfectly still, twelve inches away; the glance seemed to excite him, and he at once moved toward her; when some four inches from her he stood still, and then began the most remarkable performances that an amorous male could offer to an admiring female. She eyed him eagerly, changing her position from time to time so that he might be always in view. He, raising his whole body on one side by straightening out the legs, and lowering it on the other by folding the first two pairs of legs up and under, leaned so far over as to be in danger of losing his balance, which he only maintained by sliding rapidly toward the lowered side. The palpus, too, on this side was turned back to correspond to the direction of the legs nearest it. He moved in a semicircle for about two inches, and then instantly reversed the position of the legs and circled in the opposite direction, gradually approaching nearer and nearer to the female. Now she dashes toward him, while he, raising his first pair of legs, extends them upward and forward as if to hold her off, but withal slowly retreats.
Again and again he circles from side to side, she gazing toward him in a softer mood, evidently admiring the grace of his antics. This is repeated until we have counted one hundred and eleven circles made by the ardent little male.
Now he approaches nearer and nearer, and when almost within reach whirls madly around and around her, she joining and whirling with him in a giddy maze. Again he falls back and resumes his semicircular motions, with his body tilted over; she, all excitement, lowers her head and raises her body so that it is almost vertical; both draw nearer; she moves slowly under him, he crawling over her head, and the mating is accomplished."
The same author thus describes the courtship of Dendryphantes elegans: "While from three to five inches distant from her, he begins to wave his plumy first legs in a way that reminds one of a windmill. She eyes him fiercely, and he keeps at a proper distance for a long time. If he comes close she dashes at him, and he quickly retreats.
Sometimes he becomes bolder, and when within an inch, pauses, with the first legs outstretched before him, not raised as is common in other species; the palpi also are held stiffly out in front with the points together. Again she drives him off, and so the play continues. Now the male grows excited as he approaches her, and while still several inches away, whirls completely around and around; pausing, he runs closer and begins to make his abdomen quiver as he stands on tiptoe in front of her. Prancing from side to side, he grows bolder and bolder, while she seems less fierce, and yielding to the excitement, lifts up her magnificently iridescent abdomen, holding it at one time vertical, and at another sideways to him. She no longer rushes at him, but retreats a little as he approaches. At last he comes close to her, lying flat, with his first legs stretched out and quivering. With the tips of his front legs he gently pats her; this seems to arouse the old demon of resistance, and she drives him back. Again and again he pats her with a caressing movement, gradually creeping nearer and nearer, which she now permits without resistance, until he crawls over her head to her abdomen, far enough to reach the epigynum with his palpus." (G. W. Peckham, "Sexual Selection of Spiders," Occasional Papers of the Natural History Society of Wisconsin, 1889, quoted in Nature, August 21, 1890.) The courtship of another spider, the Agelena labyrinthica, has been studied by Lécaillon ("Les Instincts et les Psychismes des Araignées," Revue Scientifique, Sept. 15, 1906.) The male enters the female's web and may be found there about the middle of July. When courtship has begun it is not interrupted by the closest observation, even under the magnifying glass. At first it is the male which seeks to couple and he pursues the female over her web till she consents. The pursuit may last some hours, the male agitating his abdomen in a peculiar way, while the female simply retreats a short distance without allowing herself to be approached. At last the female holds herself completely motionless, and then the male approaches, seizes her, places her on her side, sometimes carrying her to a more suitable part of the web. Then one of his copulative apparatus is applied to the female genital opening, and copulation begins. When completed (on an average in about two hours) the male withdraws his copulatory palpus and turns over the female, who is still inert, on to her other side, then brings his second copulatory apparatus to the female opening and starts afresh. When the process is definitely completed the male leaves the female, suddenly retiring to a little distance. The female, who had remained completely motionless for four hours, suddenly runs after the male. But she only pursues him for a short distance, and the two spiders remain together without any danger to either. Lécaillon disbelieves the statement of Romanes (in his Animal Intelligence) that the female eats the male after copulation. But this certainly seems to occur sometimes among insects, as illustrated by the following instance described by so careful an observer of insects as Fabre.
The Mantis religiosa is described by Fabre as contemplating the female for a long time in an attitude of ecstasy.
She remains still and seems indifferent. He is small and she is large. At last he approaches; spreads his wings, which tremble convulsively; leaps on her back, and fixes himself there. The preludes are long and the coupling itself sometimes occupies five or six hours. Then they separate. But the same day or the following day she seizes him and eats him up in small mouthfuls. She will permit a whole series of males to have intercourse with her, always eating them up directly afterward. Fabre has even seen her eating the male while still on her back, his head and neck gone, but his body still firmly attached. (J. H. Fabre, Souvenirs Entomologiques, fifth series, p. 307.) Fabre also describes in great detail ( ibid. , ninth series, chs. xxi-xxii) the sexual parades of the Languedoc scorpion ( Scorpio occitanus), an arachnid. These parades are in public; for their subsequent intercourse the couple seek complete seclusion, and the female finally eats the male.
An insect (a species of Empis) has been described which excites the female by manipulating a large balloon. "This is of elliptical shape, about seven millimeters long (nearly twice as long as the fly), hollow, and composed entirely of a single layer of minute bubbles, nearly uniform in size, arranged in regular circles concentric with the axis of the structure. The beautiful, glistening whiteness of the object when the sun shines upon it makes it very conspicuous. The bubbles were slightly viscid, and in nearly every case there was a small fly pressed into the front end of the balloon, apparently as food for the Empis. In all cases they were dead. The balloon appears to be made while the insect is flying in the air. Those flying highest had the smallest balloons. The bubbles are probably produced by some modification of the anal organs. It is possible that the captured fly serves as a nucleus to begin the balloon on. One case of a captured fly but no balloon was observed. After commencing, it is probable that the rest of the structure is made by revolving the completed part between the hind legs and adding more bubbles somewhat spirally. The posterior end of the balloon is left more or less open. The purpose of this structure is to attract the female. When numerous males were flying up and down the road, it happened several times that a female was seen to approach them from some choke-cherry blossoms near by. The males immediately gathered in her path, and she with little hesitation selected for a mate the one with the largest balloon, taking a position upon his back. After copulation had begun, the pair would settle down toward the ground, select a quiet spot, and the female would alight by placing her front legs across a horizontal grass blade, her head resting against the blade so as to brace the body in position. Here she would continue to hold the male beneath her for a little time, until the process was finished. The male, meanwhile, would be rolling the balloon about in a variety of positions, juggling with it, one might almost say. After the male and female parted company, the male immediately dropped the balloon upon the ground, and it was greedily seized by ants. No illustration could properly show the beauty of the balloon." (Aldrich and Turley, "A Balloon-making Fly," American Naturalist, October, 1899.)
"In many species of moths the males 'assemble' around the freshly emerged female, but no special advantage appears to attend on early arrival. The female sits apparently motionless, while the little crowd of suitors buzz around her for several minutes. Suddenly, and, as far as one can see, without any sign from the female, one of the males pairs with her and all the others immediately disappear. In these cases the males do not fight or struggle in any way, and as one watches the ceremony the wonder arises as to how the moment is determined, and why the pairing did not take place before. Proximity does not decide the point, for long beforehand the males often alight close to the female and brush against her with fluttering wings. I have watched the process exactly as I have described it in a common Northern Noctua, the antler moth ( Charæax graminis), and I have seen the same thing among beetles." (E. B. Poulton, The Colors of Animals, 1890, p. 391.) This author mentions that among some butterflies the females take the active part. The example here quoted of courtship among moths illustrates how phenomena which are with difficulty explicable by the theory of sexual selection in its original form become at once intelligible when we realize the importance of tumescence in courtship.
Of the Argentine cow-bird ( Molothrus bonariensis) Hudson says ( Argentine Ornithology, vol. i, p. 73): "The song of the male, particularly when making love, is accompanied with gestures and actions somewhat like those of the domestic pigeon. He swells himself out, beating the ground with his wings, and uttering a series of deep internal notes, followed by others loud and clear; and occasionally, when uttering them, he suddenly takes wing and flies directly away from the female to a distance of fifty yards, and performs a wide circuit about her in the air, singing all the time. The homely object of his passion always appears utterly indifferent to this curious and pretty performance; yet she must be even more impressionable than most female birds, since she continues scattering about her parasitical and often wasted eggs during four months in every year."
Of a tyrant-bird ( Pitangus Bolivianus) Hudson writes ( Argentine Ornithology, vol. i, p. 148): "Though the male and female are greatly attached, they do not go afield to hunt in company, but separate to meet again at intervals during the day. One of a couple (say, the female) returns to the trees where they are accustomed to meet, and after a time, becoming impatient or anxious at the delay of her consort, utters a very long, clear call-note. He is perhaps a quarter of a mile away, watching for a frog beside a pool, or beating over a thistle-bed, but he hears the note and presently responds with one of equal power. Then, perhaps, for half an hour, at intervals of half a minute, the birds answer each other, though the powerful call of the one must interfere with his hunting. At length he returns; then the two birds, perched close together, with their yellow bosoms almost touching, crests elevated, and beating the branch with their wings, scream their loudest notes in concert—a confused jubilant noise that rings through the whole plantation. Their joy at meeting is patent, and their action corresponds to the warm embrace of a loving human couple."
Of the red-breasted marsh-bird ( Leistes superciliaris) Hudson ( Argentine Ornithology, vol. i, p. 100) writes:
"These birds are migratory, and appear everywhere in the eastern part of the Argentine country early in October, arriving singly, after which each male takes up a position in a field or open space abounding with coarse grass and herbage, where he spends most of his time perched on the summit of a tall stalk or weed, his glowing crimson bosom showing at a distance like some splendid flower above the herbage. At intervals of two or three minutes he soars vertically up to a height of twenty or twenty-five yards to utter his song, composed of a single long, powerful and rather musical note, ending with an attempt at a flourish, during which the bird flutters and turns about in the air; then, as if discouraged at his failure, he drops down, emitting harsh, guttural chirps, to resume his stand. Meanwhile the female is invisible, keeping closely concealed under the long grass. But at length, attracted perhaps by the bright bosom and aërial music of the male, she occasionally exhibits herself for a few moments, starting up with a wild zigzag flight, and, darting this way and that, presently drops into the grass once more. The moment she appears above the grass the male gives chase, and they vanish from sight together."
"Courtship with the mallard," says J. G. Millais ( Natural History of British Ducks, p. 6), "appears to be carried on by both sexes, though generally three or four drakes are seen showing themselves off to attract the attention of a single duck. Swimming round her, in a coy and semi-self-conscious manner, they now and again all stop quite still, nod, bow, and throw their necks out in token of their admiration and their desire of a favorable response. But the most interesting display is when all the drakes simultaneously stand up in the water and rapidly pass their bills down their breasts, uttering at the same time a low single note somewhat like the first half of the call that teal and pintail make when 'showing off.' At other times the love-making of the drake seems to be rather passive than active. While graciously allowing himself to be courted, he holds his head high with conscious pride, and accepts as a matter of course any attention that may be paid to him. A proud bird is he when three or four ducks come swimming along beside and around him, uttering a curious guttural note, and at the same time dipping their bills in quick succession to right and left. He knows what that means, and carries himself with even greater dignity than before. In the end, however, he must give in. As a last appeal, one of his lady lovers may coyly lower herself in the water till only the top of her back, head, and neck is seen, and so fascinating an advance as this no drake of any sensibility can withstand."
The courting of the Argus pheasant, noted for the extreme beauty of the male's plumage, was observed by H. O.
Forbes in Sumatra. It is the habit of this bird to make "a large circus, some ten or twelve feet in diameter, in the forest, which it clears of every leaf and twig and branch, till the ground is perfectly swept and garnished. On the margin of this circus there is invariably a projecting branch or high-arched root, at a few feet elevation above the ground, on which the female bird takes its place, while in the ring the male—the male birds alone possess great decoration—shows off all its magnificence for the gratification and pleasure of his consort and to exalt himself in her eyes." (H. O. Forbes, A. Naturalist's Wanderings, 1885, p. 131.)
"All ostriches, adults as well as chicks, have a strange habit known as 'waltzing.' After running for a few hundred yards they will also stop, and, with raised wings, spin around rapidly for some time after until quite giddy, when a broken leg occasionally occurs.... Vicious cocks 'roll' when challenging to fight or when wooing the hen. The cock will suddenly bump down on to his knees (the ankle-joint), open his wings, and then swing them alternately backward and forward, as if on a pivot.... While rolling, every feather over the whole body is on end, and the plumes are open, like a large white fan. At such a time the bird sees very imperfectly, if at all; in fact, he seems so preoccupied that, if pursued, one may often approach unnoticed. Just before rolling, a cock, especially if courting the hen, will often run slowly and daintily on the points of his toes, with neck slightly inflated, upright, and rigid, the tail half-drooped, and all his body-feathers fluffed up; the wings raised and expanded, the inside edges touching the sides of the neck for nearly the whole of its length, and the plumes showing separately, like an open fan. In no other attitude is the splendid beauty of his plumage displayed to such advantage." (S. C. Cronwright Schreiner, "The Ostrich," Zoölogist, March, 1897.) As may be seen from the foregoing fairly typical examples, the phenomena of courtship are highly developed, and have been most carefully studied, in animals outside the mammal series. It may seem a long leap from birds to man; yet, as will be seen, the phenomena among primitive human peoples, if not, indeed, among many civilized peoples also, closely resemble those found among birds, though, unfortunately, they have not usually been so carefully studied.
In Australia, where dancing is carried to a high pitch of elaboration, its association with the sexual impulse is close and unmistakable. Thus, Mr. Samuel Gason (of whom it has been said that "no man living has been more among blacks or knows more of their ways") remarks concerning a dance of the Dieyerie tribe: "This dance men and women only take part in, in regular form and position, keeping splendid time to the rattle of the beat of two boomerangs; some of the women keep time by clapping their hands between their thighs; promiscuous sexual intercourse follows after the dance; jealousy is forbidden." Again, at the Mobierrie, or rat-harvest, "many weeks'
preparation before the dance comes off; no quarreling is allowed; promiscuous sexual intercourse during the ceremony." The fact that jealousy is forbidden at these festivals clearly indicates that sexual intercourse is a recognized and probably essential element in the ceremonies. This is further emphasized by the fact that at other festivals open sexual intercourse is not allowed. Thus, at the Mindarie, or dance at a peace festival (when a number of tribes comes together), "there is great rejoicing at the coming festival, which is generally held at the full of the moon, and kept up all night. The men are artistically decorated with down and feathers, with all kinds of designs.
The down and feathers are stuck on their bodies with blood freshly taken from their penis; they are also nicely painted with various colors; tufts of boughs are tied on their ankles to make a noise while dancing. Promiscuous sexual intercourse is carried on secretly; many quarrels occur at this time." ( Journal of the Anthropological Institute, vol. xxiv, November, 1894, p. 174.)
In Australian dances, sometimes men and women dance together, sometimes the men dance alone, sometimes the women. In one dance described by Eyre: "Women are the chief performers; their bodies are painted with white streaks, and their hair adorned with cockatoo feathers. They carry large sticks in their hands, and place themselves in a row in front, while the men with their spears stand in a row behind them. They then all commence their movements, but without intermingling, the males and females dancing by themselves. The women have occasionally another mode of dancing, by joining the hands together over the head, closing the feet, and bringing the knees into contact. The legs are then thrown outward from the knee, while the feet and hands are kept in their original position, and, being drawn quickly in again, a sharp sound is produced by the collision. This is also practised alone by young girls or by several together for their own amusement. It is adopted also when a single woman is placed in front of a row of male dancers to excite their passions." (E. J. Eyre, Journals of Expeditions into Central Australia, vol. ii, p. 235.)
A charming Australian folk-tale concerning two sisters with wings, who disliked men, and their wooing by a man, clearly indicates, even among the Australians (whose love-making is commonly supposed to be somewhat brutal in character), the consciousness that it is by his beauty, charm, and skill in courtship that a man wins a woman.
Unahanach, the lover, stole unperceived to the river where the girls were bathing and at last showed himself carelessly sitting on a high tree. The girls were startled, but thought it would be safe to amuse themselves by looking at the intruder. "Young and with the most active figure, yet of a strength that defied the strongest emu, and even enabled him to resist an 'old man' kangaroo, he had no equal in the chase, and conscious power gave a dignity to his expression that at one glance calmed the fears of the two girls. His large brilliant eyes, shaded by a deep fringe of soft black eyelashes, gazed down upon them admiringly, and his rich black hair hung around his well-formed face, smooth and shining from the emu-oil with which it was abundantly covered." At last he persuaded them to talk and by and by induced them to call him husband. Then they went off with him, with no thought of flight in their hearts. ("Australian Folklore Stories," collected by W. Dunlop, Journal of the Anthropological Institute, new series, vol. i, 1898, p. 33.) Of the people of Torres Straits Haddon states ( Reports Anthropological Expedition to Torres Straits, vol. v, p.
222): "It was during the secular dance, or Kap, that the girls usually lost their hearts to the young men. A young man who was a good dancer would find favor in the sight of the girls. This can be readily understood by anyone who has seen the active, skilful, and fatiguing dances of these people. A young man who could acquit himself well in these dances must be possessed of no mean strength and agility, qualities which everywhere appeal to the opposite sex. Further, he was decorated, according to local custom, with all that would render him more imposing in the eyes of the spectators. As the former chief of Mabuiag put it, 'In England if a man has plenty of money, women want to marry him; so here, if a man dances well they too want him.' In olden days the war-dance, which was performed after a successful foray, would be the most powerful excitement to a marriageable girl, especially if a young man had distinguished himself sufficiently to bring home the head of someone he had killed."
Among the tribes inhabiting the mouth of the Wanigela River, New Guinea, "when a boy admires a girl, he will not look at her, speak to her, or go near her. He, however, shows his love by athletic bounds, posing, and pursuit, and by the spearing of imaginary enemies, etc., before her, to attract her attention. If the girl reciprocates his love she will employ a small girl to give to him an ugauga gauna, or love invitation, consisting of an areca-nut whose skin has been marked with different designs, significant of her wish to ugauga. After dark he is apprised of the place where the girl awaits him; repairing thither, he seats himself beside her as close as possible, and they mutually share in the consumption of the betel-nut." This constitutes betrothal; henceforth he is free to visit the girl's house and sleep there. Marriages usually take place at the most important festival of the year, the kapa, preparations for which are made during the three previous months, so that there may be a bountiful and unfailing supply of bananas. Much dancing takes place among the unmarried girls, who, also, are tattooed at this time over the whole of the front of the body, special attention being paid to the lower parts, as a girl who is not properly tattooed there possesses no attraction in the eyes of young men. Married women and widows and divorced women are not forbidden to take part in these dances, but it would be considered ridiculous for them to do so. (R.
E. Guise, "On the Tribes of the Wanigela River," Journal of the Anthropological Institute, new series, vol. i, 1899, pp. 209, 214 et seq. )
In the island of Nias in the Malay Archipelago, Modigliani (mainly on the excellent authority of Sundermann, the missionary) states, at a wedding "dancing and singing go on throughout the day. The women, two or three at a time, a little apart from the men, take part in the dancing, which is very well adapted to emphasize the curves of the flanks and the breasts, though at the same time the defects of their legs are exhibited in this series of rhythmic contortions which constitute a Nias dance. The most graceful movement they execute is a lascivious undulation of the flanks while the face and breast are slowly wound round by the sarong [a sort of skirt] held in the hands, and then again revealed. These movements are executed with jerks of the wrist and contortions of the flanks, not always graceful, but which excite the admiration of the spectators, even of the women, who form in groups to sing in chorus a compliment, more or less sincere, in which they say: 'They dance with the grace of birds when they fly. They dance as the hawk flies; it is lovely to see.' They sing and dance both at weddings and at other festivals." (Elio Modigliani, Un Viaggio a Nias, 1890, p. 549.) In Sumatra Marsden states that chastity prevails more, perhaps, than among any other people: "But little apparent courtship precedes their marriages. Their manners do not admit of it, the boojong and geddas (youths of each sex) being carefully kept asunder and the latter seldom trusted from under the wings of their mothers.... The opportunities which the young people have of seeing and conversing with each other are at the birnbangs, or public festivals. On these occasions the young people meet together and dance and sing in company. The men, when determined in their regard, generally employ an old woman as their agent, by whom they make known their sentiments, and send presents to the female of their choice. The parents then interfere, and the preliminaries being settled, a birnbang takes place. The young women proceed in a body to the upper end of the balli (hall), where there is a part divided off for them by a curtain. They do not always make their appearance before dinner, that time, previous to a second or third meal, being appropriated to cock-fighting or other diversions peculiar to men. In the evening their other amusements take place, of which the dances are the principal. These are performed either singly or by two women, two men, or with both mixed. Their motions and attitudes are usually slow, approaching often to the lascivious. They bend forward as they dance, and usually carry a fan, which they close and strike smartly against their elbows at particular cadences.... The assembly seldom breaks up before daylight and these birnbangs are often continued for several days together. The young men frequent them in order to look out for wives, and the lasses of course set themselves off to the best advantage. They wear their best silken dresses, of their own weaving, as many ornaments of filigree as they possess, silver rings upon their arms and legs, and ear-rings of a particular construction. Their hair is variously adorned with flowers, and perfumed with oil of benjamin. Civet is also in repute, but more used by the men. To render their skin fine, smooth, and soft they make use of a white cosmetic called poopoor [a mixture of ginger, patch-leaf, maize, sandal-wood, fairy-cotton, and mush-seed with a basis of fine rice]." (W. Marsden, History of Sumatra, 1783, p. 230.) The Alfurus of Seram in the Moluccas, who have not yet been spoilt by foreign influences, are very fond of music and dancing. Their maku dances, which take place at night, have been described by Joest: "Great torches of dry bamboos and piles of burning resinous leaves light up the giant trees to their very summits and reveal in the distance the little huts which the Alfuras have built in the virgin forests, as well as the skulls of the slain. The women squat together by the fire, making a deafening noise with the gongs and the drums, while the young girls, richly adorned with pearls and fragrant flowers, await the beginning of the dance. Then appear the men and youths without weapons, but in full war-costume, the girdle freshly marked with the number of slain enemies. [Among the Alfuras it is the man who has the largest number of heads to show who has most chance of winning the object of his love.] They hold each other's arms and form a circle, which is not, however, completely closed. A song is started, and with small, slow steps this ring of bodies, like a winding snake, moves sideways, backward, closes, opens again, the steps become heavier, the songs and drums louder, the girls enter the circle and with closed eyes grasp the girdle of their chosen youths, who clasp them by the hips and necks, the chain becomes longer and longer, the dance and song more ardent, until the dancers grow tired and disappear in the gloom of the forest." (W.
Joest, Welt-Fahrten, 1895, Bd. ii, p. 159.)
The women of the New Hebrides dance, or rather sway, to and fro in the midst of a circle formed by the men, with whom they do not directly mingle. They leap, show their genital parts to the men, and imitate the movements of coitus. Meanwhile the men unfasten the manou (penis-wrap) from their girdles with one hand, with the other imitating the action of seizing a woman, and, excited by the women, also go through a mock copulation.
Sometimes, it is said, the dancers masturbate. This takes place amid plaintive songs, interrupted from time to time by loud cries and howls. ( Untrodden Fields of Anthropology, by a French army-surgeon, 1898, vol. ii, p. 341.) Among the hill tribes of the Central Indian Hills may be traced a desire to secure communion with the spirit of fertility embodied in vegetation. This appears, for instance, in a tree-dance, which is carried out on a date associated not only with the growths of the crops or with harvest, but also with the seasonal period for marriage and the annual Saturnalia. (W. Crooke, "The Hill Tribes," Journal of the Anthropological Institute, new series, vol. i, 1899, p. 243.) The association of dancing with seasonal ritual festivals of a generative character—of which the above is a fairly typical instance—leads us to another aspect of these phenomena on which I have elsewhere touched in these Studies (vol. i) when discussing the "Phenomena of Periodicity."
The Tahitians, when first discovered by Europeans, appear to have been highly civilized on the sexual side and very licentious. Yet even at Tahiti, when visited by Cook, the strict primitive relationship between dancing and courtship still remained traceable. Cook found "a dance called Timorodee, which is performed by young girls, whenever eight or ten of them can be collected together, consisting of motions and gestures beyond imagination wanton, in the practice of which they are brought up from their earliest childhood, accompanied by words which, if it were possible, would more explicitly convey the same ideas. But the practice which is allowed to the virgin is prohibited to the woman from the moment that she has put these hopeful lessons in practice and realized the symbols of the dance." He added, however, that among the specially privileged class of the Areoi these limitations were not observed, for he had heard that this dance was sometimes performed by them as a preliminary to sexual intercourse. (Hawkesworth, An Account of the Voyages, etc., 1775, vol. ii, p. 54.) Among the Marquesans at the marriage of a woman, even of high rank, she lies with her head at the bridegroom's knees and all the male guests come in single file, singing and dancing—those of lower class first and the great chiefs last—and have connection with the woman. There are often a very large number of guests and the bride is sometimes so exhausted at the end that she has to spend several days in bed. (Tautain, "Etude sur le Mariage chez les Polynésiens," L'Anthropologie, November-December, 1895, p. 642.) The interesting point for us here is that singing and dancing are still regarded as a preliminary to a sexual act. It has been noted that in sexual matters the Polynesians, when first discovered by Europeans, had largely gone beyond the primitive stage, and that this applies also to some of their dances. Thus the hula-hula dance, while primitive in origin, may probably be compared more to a civilized than to a primitive dance, since it has become divorced from real life. In the same way, while the sexual pantomime dance of the Azimba girls of central Africa has a direct and recognized relationship to the demands of real life, the somewhat allied danses du ventre of the Hamitic peoples of northern Africa are merely an amusement, a play more or less based on the sexual instinct. At the same time it is important to bear in mind that there is no rigid distinction between dances that are, and those that are not, primitive. As Haddon truly points out in a book containing valuable detailed descriptions of dances, even among savages dances are so developed that it is difficult to trace their origin, and at Torres Straits, he remarks, "there are certainly play or secular dances, dances for pure amusement without any ulterior design." (A. C. Haddon, Head Hunters, p. 233.) When we remember that dancing had probably become highly developed long before man appeared on the earth, this difficulty in determining the precise origin of human dancing cannot cause surprise.
Spix and Martius described how the Muras of Brazil by moonlight would engage all night in a Bacchantic dance in a great circle, hand in hand, the men on one side, the women on the other, shouting out all the time, the men
"Who will marry me?" the women, "You are a beautiful devil; all women will marry you," (Spix and Martius, Reise in Brasilien, 1831, vol. iii, p. 1117.) They also described in detail the dance of the Brazilian Puris, performed in a state of complete nakedness, the men in a row, the women in another row behind them. They danced backward and forward, stamping and singing, at first in a slow and melancholy style, but gradually with increasing vigor and excitement. Then the women began to rotate the pelvis backward and forward, and the men to thrust their bodies forward, the dance becoming a pantomimic representation of sexual intercourse ( ibid. , vol. i, 1823, pp. 373-5).