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animals. A boy educated by his mother was at a certain age admitted to an afsembly of men, and the man he clung to was reputed his father. Justin and other authors report, that before Cecrops, who reigned in Attica about 1600 years before Christ, marriage was not known in Greece; and that the burden of children lay upon the mother.
Before entering dire&ly into the matter, it is proper to remove, if possible, the bias of these great names. The practice of the Garamantes and of the Auses is mentioned by Pliny and Herodotus as singular ; and, were it even well vouched, it would avail very little against the practice of all other nations. Little weight can be laid upon Pliny's evidence in particular, confidering what he reports in the same chapter of the Blemmyans, that they had no head, and that the mouth and eyes were in the breast. Pliny at the same time, as well as Herodotus, being very deficient in natural knowledge, were grossly credulous ; and cannot be relied on with respect to any thing strange or uncommon. As to what is reported of ancient Greece, Cecrops possibly prohibited polygamy, or introdu
ced some other matrimonial regulation, which by writers might be mistaken for a law appointing matrimony. However that be, one part of the report is undoubtedly erroneous ; for it will be made evident afterward, that in the hunter-state, or even in that of shepherds, it is impracticable for any woman, by her own industry alone, to rear a numerous issue. If this be at all possible, it can only be in the torrid zone, where people live on fruits and roots, which are produced in plenty with very little labour. Upon that account, Diodorus Siculus is less blameable for listening to a report, that the inhabi. tants of Taprobana, supposed to be the island of Ceylon, never marry, but that women are used promiscuously. At the same time, as there is no such custom at present in the East Indies, there is no good ground to believe, that it ever was cuftomary; and the East Indies were so little known to the ancient Greeks, that their authors cannot be much relied on, in the accounts they give of that distant region. The authority of Cicero, however respectable in other matters, will not be much regarded upon the present question, wheri
the passage above quoted is dissected. How crude inust'his notions be of the primitive state of man, when he denies to favages any sense of religion or of moral
duty! Ought we to rely more on him, · when he denies that they have any notion
of matrimony? Caesar's account of the ancient Britons approaches the nearest to a loose commerce with women, tho’in the main it is good evidence against Cicero. It was common, he says, for a number of brothers, or other near relations, to use their wives promiscuously. The offspring however were not common; for each man maintained the children that were produ, ced by his own wife. Herodotus reports the same of the Maslagetae.
Laying thus aside the great names of Cicero, Herodotus, and Pliny, the field lies open to a fair and impartial investigation. And as the means provided by nature for continuing the race of other animals, may probably throw light upon the oeconomy of nature with respect to man; I begin with that article, which has not engaged the attention of naturalists fo much as it ought to have done. With respect to animals whose nourishment is Vol. II.
grass, pairing would be of no use: the female feeds herself and her young at the same instant; and nothing is left for the male to do. On the other hand, all brute animals whose young require the nursing care of both parents, are directed by nature to pair ; nor is that connection difsolved till the young can provide for themselves. Pairing is indispensable to wild birds that build on trees ; because the male must provide food for his mate while she is hatching the eggs. And as they have commonly a numerous issue, it requires the labour of both to pick up food for themselves and for their young. · Upon that account it is so ordered, that the young are sufficiently vigorous to provide for themselves, before a new brood is produced.
What I have now opened suggests the following question, Whether, according to the oeconomy above displayed, are we to presume, or not, that man is directed by nature to matrimony? If analogy can be relied on, the affirmative inust be held, as there is no other creature in the known world to which pairing is so necessary. Plan is an animal of long life, and is pro
portionally flow in growing to maturity : 'he is a helpless being before the age of fifteen or fixteen ; and there may be in a family ten or twelve children of different births, before the eldest can shift for itself. Now in the original state of hunting and fishing, which are laborious occupations, and not always successful, a woman, suckling her infant, is not able to provide food even for herself, far less for ten or twelve voracious children. Matrimony, therefore, or pairing, is so necessary to the human race, that it must be natural and instinctive. When such ample means are provided for continuing every other animal race, is it supposable that the chief race is neglected ? Providential care descends even to vegetable life: every plant bears a profusion of feed; and in order to cover the earth with vegetables, some seeds have wings, some are scattered by means of a spring, and some are so light as to be carried about by the wind. Brute animals which do not pair, have grass and other food in plenty, enabling the female to feed her young without needing any assistance from the male. But where the young require the nursing care