|The Intermediate Sex|
|The Edward Carpenter Archive|
by Simon Dawson
WHATEVER differing views there may be on the many problems which the Intermediate sexes present - and however difficult of solution some of the questions involved - there is one thing which appears to me incontestable: namely that a vast number of intermediates do actually perform most valuable social work, and that they do so partly on account and by reason of their special temperament.
This fact is not generally recognised as it ought to be, for the simple reason that the Uranian himself is not recognised, and indeed (as we have already said) tends to conceal his temperament from the public. There is no doubt that if it became widely known who are the Uranians, the world would be astonished to find so many of its great or leading men among them.
I have thought it might be useful to indicate some of the lines along which valuable work is being performed, or has been performed, by people of this disposition; and in doing this I do not of course mean to disguise or conceal the fact that there are numbers of merely frivolous, or feeble or even vicious homosexuals, who practically do no useful work for society at all - just as there are of normal people. The existence of those who do no valuable work does not alter the fact of the existence of others whose work is of great importance. And I wish also to make it clearly understood that I use the word Uranians to indicate simply those whose lives and activities are inspired by a genuine friendship or love for their own sex, without venturing to specify their individual and particular habits or relations towards those whom they love (which relations in most cases we have no means of knowing). Some Intermediates of light and leading - doubtless not a few - are physically very reserved and continent; others are sensual in some degree or other. The point is that they are all men, or women, whose most powerful motive comes from the dedication to their own kind, and is bound up with it in some way. And if it seems strange and anomalous that in such cases work of considerable importance to society is being done by people whose affections and dispositions society itself would blame, this is after all no more than has happened a thousand times before in the history of the world.
As I have already hinted, the Uranian temperament (probably from the very fact of its dual nature and the swift and constant interaction between its masculine and feminine elements) is exceedingly sensitive and emotional; and there is no doubt that, going with this, a large number of the artist class, musical, literary or pictorial, belong to this description. That delicate and subtle sympathy with every wave and phase of feeling which makes the artist possible is also very characteristic of the Uranian (the male type), and makes it easy or natural for the Uranian man to become an artist. In the "confessions" and "cases" collected by Krafft-Ebing, Havelock Ellis and others, it is remarkable what a large percentage of men of this temperament belong to the artist class. In his volume on "Sexual Inversion," [Footnote 1] speaking of the cases collected by himself, Ellis says:-
"An examination of my cases reveals the interesting fact that thirty-two of them, or sixty-eight per cent., possess artistic aptitude in varying degree. Galton found, from the investigation of nearly one thousand persons, that the general average showing artistic taste in England is only about thirty per cent. It must also be said that my figures are probably below the truth, as no special point was made of investigating the matter, and also that in many of my cases the artistic aptitudes are of high order. With regard to the special avocations of my cases, it must of course be said that no occupation furnishes a safeguard against inversion. There are, however, certain occupations to which inverts are specially attracted. Acting is certainly one of the chief of these. Three of my cases belong to the dramatic profession, and others have marked dramatic ability. Art, again, in its various forms, and music, exercise much attraction. In my experience, however, literature is the avocation to which inverts seem to feel chiefly called, and that moreover in which they may find the highest degree of success and reputation. At least half-a-dozen of my cases are successful men of letters."
Of Literature in this connection, and of the great writers of the world whose work has been partly inspired by the Uranian love, I have myself already spoken. [Footnote 2] It may further be said that those of the modern artist-writers and poets who have done the greatest service in the way of interpreting and reconstructing Greek life and ideals - men like Winckelmann, Goethe, Addington Symonds, Walter Pater - have had a marked strain of this temperament in them. And this has been a service of great value, and one which the world could ill have afforded to lose.
The painters and sculptors, especially of the renaissance period in Italy, yield not a few examples of men whose work has been similarly inspired - as in the cases of Michel Angelo, Leonardo, Bazzi, Cellini, and others. As to music, this is certainly the art which in its subtlety and tenderness - and perhaps in a certain inclination to indulge in emotion - lies nearest to the Urning nature. There are few in fact of this nature who have not some gift in the direction of music - though, unless we cite Tschaikowsky, it does not appear that any thorough-going Uranian has attained to the highest eminence in this art.
Another direction along which the temperament very naturally finds an outlet is the important social work of Education. The capacity that a man has, in cases, of devoting himself to the welfare of boys or youths, is clearly a thing which ought not to go wasted - and which may be most precious and valuable. It is incontestable that a great number of men (and women) are drawn into the teaching profession by this sentiment - and the work they do is, in many cases, beyond estimation. Fortunate the boy who meets with such a helper in early life! I know a man - a rising and vigorous thinker and writer - who tells me that he owes almost everything mentally to such a friend of his boyhood, who took the greatest interest in him, saw him almost every day for many years, and indeed cleared up for him not only things mental but things moral, giving him the affection and guidance his young heart needed. And I have myself known and watched not a few such teachers, in public schools and in private schools, and seen something of the work and of the real inspiration they have been to boys under them. Hampered as they have been by the readiness of the world to misinterpret, they still have been able to do most precious service. Of course here and there a case occurs in which privilege is abused; but even then the judgment of the world is often unreasonably severe. A poor boy once told me with tears in his eyes of the work a man had done for him. This man had saved the boy from drunken parents, taken him from the slums, and by means of a club helped him out into the world. Many other boys he had rescued, it appeared, in the same way - scores and scores of them. But on some occasion or other he got into trouble, and was accused of improper familiarities. No excuse, or record of a useful life, was of the least avail. Every trumpery slander was believed, every mean motive imputed, and he had to throw up his position and settle elsewhere, his life-work shattered, never to be resumed.
The capacity for sincere affection which causes an elder man to care so deeply for the welfare of a youth or boy, is met and responded to by a similar capacity in the young thing of devotion to an elder man. This fact is not always recognised; but I have known cases of boys and even young men who would feel the most romantic attachments to quite mature men, sometimes as much as forty or fifty years of age, and only for them - passing by their own contemporaries of either sex, and caring only to win a return affection from these others. This may seem strange, but it is true. And the fact not only makes one understand what riddles there are slumbering in the breasts of our children, but how greatly important it is that we should try to read them - since here, in such cases as these, the finding of an answering heart in an elder man would probably be the younger one's salvation.
How much of the enormous amount of philanthropic work done in the present day - by women among needy or destitute girls of all sorts, or by men among like classes of boys - is inspired by the same feeling, it would be hard to say; but it must be a very considerable proportion. I think myself that the best philanthropic work - just because it is the most personal, the most loving, and the least merely formal and self-righteous - has a strong fibre of the Uranian heart running through it; and if it should be said that work of this very personal kind is more liable to dangers and difficulties on that account, it is only what is true of the best in almost all departments.
Eros is a great leveller. Perhaps the true Democracy rests, more firmly than anywhere else, on a sentiment which easily passes the bounds of class and caste, and unites in the closest affection the most estranged ranks of society. It is noticeable how often Uranians of good position and breeding are drawn to rougher types, as of manual workers, and frequently very permanent alliances grow up in this way, which although not publicly acknowledged have a decided influence on social institutions, customs and political tendencies - and which would have a good deal more influence could they be given a little more scope and recognition. There are cases that I have known (although the ordinary commercial world might hardly believe it) of employers who have managed to attach their workmen, or many of them, very personally to themselves, and whose object in running their businesses was at least as much to provide their employees with a living as themselves; while the latter, feeling this, have responded with their best output. It is possible that something like the guilds and fraternities of the middle ages might thus be reconstructed, but on a more intimate and personal basis than in those days; and indeed there are not wanting signs that such a reconstruction is actually taking place.
The "Letters of Love and Labour" written by Samuel M. Jones of Toledo, Ohio, to his workmen in the engineering firm of which he was master, are very interesting in this connection. They breathe a spirit of extraordinary personal affection towards, and confidence in, the employees, which was heartily responded to by the latter; and the whole business was carried on, with considerable success, on the principle of a close and friendly co-operation all round. [Footnote 3]
These things indeed suggest to one that it is possible that the Uranian spirit may lead to something like a general enthusiasm of Humanity, and that the Uranian people may be destined to form the advance guard of that great movement which will one day transform the common life by substituting the bond of personal affection and compassion for the monetary, legal and other external ties which now control and confine society. Such a part of course we cannot expect the Uranians to play unless the capacity for their kind of attachment also exists - though in a germinal and undeveloped state - in the breast of mankind at large. And modern thought and investigation are clearly tending that way - to confirm that it does so exist.
Dr. E. Bertz in his late study of Whitman as a person of strongly homogenic temperament [Footnote 4] brings forward the objection that Whitman's gospel of Comradeship as a means of social regeneration is founded on a false basis - because (so Dr. Bertz says) the gospel derives from an abnormality in himself, and therefore cannot possibly have a universal application or create a general enthusiasm. But this is rather a case of assuming the point which has to be proved. Whitman constantly maintains that his own disposition at any rate is normal, and that he represents the average man. And it may be true, even as far as his Uranian temperament is concerned, that while this was specially developed in him the germs of it are almost, if not quite, universal. If so, then the Comradeship on which Whitman founds a large portion of his message may in course of time become a general enthusiasm, and the nobler Uranians of to-day may be destined, as suggested, to be its pioneers and advance guard. As one of them himself has sung:-
These things shall be! A loftier race,
Than e'er the world hath known, shall rise
With flame of freedom in their souls,
And light of science in their eyes.
Nation with nation, land with land,
In-armed shall live as comrades free;
In every heart and brain shall throb
The pulse of one fraternity.
[John Addington Symonds.]
To proceed. The Uranian, though generally high-strung and sensitive, is by no means always dreamy. He is sometimes extraordinarily and unexpectedly practical; and such a man may, and often does, command a positive enthusiasm among his subordinates in a business organisation. The same is true of military organisation. As a rule the Uranian temperament (in the male) is not militant. War with its horrors and savagery is somewhat alien to the type. But here again there are exceptions; and in all times there have been great generals (like Alexander, Cæsar, Charles XII. of Sweden, or Frederick II. of Prussia - not to speak of more modern examples) with a powerful strain in them of the homogenic nature, and a wonderful capacity for organisation and command, which combined with their personal interest in, or attachment to, their troops, and the answering enthusiasm so elicited, have made their armies well-nigh invincible.
The existence of this great practical ability in some Uranians cannot be denied; and it points to the important work they may some day have to do in social reconstruction. At the same time I think it is noticeable that politics (at any rate in the modern sense of the word, as concerned mainly with party questions and party government) is not as a rule congenial to them. The personal and affectional element is perhaps too remote or absent. Mere "views" and "questions" and party strife are alien to the Uranian man, as they are on the whole to the ordinary woman.
If politics, however, are not particularly congenial, it is yet remarkable how many royal personages have been decidedly homogenic in temperament. Taking the Kings of England from the Norman Conquest to the present day, we may count about thirty. And three of these, namely, William Rufus, Edward II., and James I. were homosexual in a marked degree - might fairly be classed as Urnings - while some others, like William III., had a strong admixture of the same temperament. Three out of thirty yields a high ratio - ten per cent - and considering that sovereigns do not generally choose themselves, but come into their position by accident of birth, the ratio is certainly remarkable. Does it suggest that the general percentage in the world at large is equally high, but that it remains unnoticed, except in the fierce light that beats upon thrones? or is there some other explanation with regard to the special liability of royalty to inversion? Hereditary degeneracy has sometimes been suggested. But it is difficult to explain the matter even on this theory; for though the epithet "degenerate" might possibly apply to James I., it would certainly not be applicable to William Rufus and William III., who, in their different ways, were both men of great courage and personal force - while Edward II. was by no means wanting in ability.
But while the Uranian temperament has, in cases, specially fitted its possessors to become distinguished in art or education or war or administration, and enabled them to do valuable work in these fields; it remains perhaps true that above all it has fitted them, and fits them, for distinction and service in affairs of the heart.
It is hard to imagine human beings more skilled in these matters than are the Intermediates. For indeed no one else can possibly respond to and understand, as they do, all the fluctuations and interactions of the masculine and feminine in human life. The pretensive coyness and passivity of women, the rude invasiveness of men; lust, brutality, secret tears, the bleeding heart; renunciation, motherhood, finesse, romance, angelic devotion - all these things lie slumbering in the Uranian soul, ready on occasion for expression; and if they are not always expressed are always there for purposes of divination or interpretation. There are few situations, in fact, in courtship or marriage which the Uranian does not instinctively understand; and it is strange to see how even an unlettered person of this type will often read Love's manuscript easily in cases where the normal man or woman is groping over it like a child in the dark. [Not of course that this means to imply any superiority of character in the former; but merely that with his double outlook he necessarily discerns things which the other misses.]
That the Uranians do stand out as helpers and guides, not only in matters of Education, but in affairs of love and marriage, is tolerably patent to all who know them. It is a common experience for them to be consulted now by the man, now by the woman, whose matrimonial conditions are uncongenial or disastrous - not generally because the consultants in the least perceive the Uranian nature, but because they instinctively feel that here is a strong sympathy with and understanding of their side of the question. In this way it is often the fate of the Uranian, himself unrecognised, to bring about happier times and a better comprehension of each other among those with whom he may have to deal. Also he often becomes the confidant of young things of either sex, who are caught in the tangles of love or passion, and know not where to turn for assistance.
I say that I think perhaps of all the services the Uranian may render to society it will be found some day that in this direction of solving the problems of affection and of the heart he will do the greatest service. If the day is coming as we have suggested - when Love is at last to take its rightful place as the binding and directing force of society (instead of the Cash-nexus), and society is to be transmuted in consequence to a higher form, then undoubtedly the superior types of Uranians - prepared for this service by long experience and devotion, as well as by much suffering - will have an important part to play in the transformation. For that the Urnings in their own lives put Love before everything else - postponing to it the other motives like money-making, business success, fame, which occupy so much space in most people's careers - is a fact which is patent to everyone who knows them. This may be saying little or nothing in favour of those of this class whose conception of love is only of a poor and frivolous sort; but in the case of those others who see the god in his true light, the fact that they serve him in singleness of heart and so unremittingly raises them at once into the position of the natural leaders of mankind.
From this fact - i.e., that these folk think so much of affairs of the heart - and from the fact that their alliances and friendships are formed and carried on beneath the surface of society, as it were, and therefore to some extent beyond the inquisitions and supervisions of Mrs. Grundy, some interesting conclusions flow.
For one thing, the question is constantly arising as to how Society would shape itself if free: what form, in matters of Love and Marriage, it would take, if the present restrictions and sanctions were removed or greatly altered. At present in these matters, the Law, the Church, and a strong pressure of public opinion interfere, compelling the observance of certain forms; and it becomes difficult to say how much of the existing order is due to the spontaneous instinct and common sense of human nature, and how much to mere outside compulsion and interference: how far, for instance, Monogamy is natural or artificial; to what degree marriages would be permanent if the Law did not make them so; what is the rational view of Divorce; whether jealousy is a necessary accompaniment of Love; and so forth. These are questions which are being constantly discussed, without finality; or not infrequently with quite pessimistic conclusions.
Now in the Urning societies a certain freedom (though not complete, of course) exists. Underneath the surface of general Society, and consequently unaffected to any great degree by its laws and customs, alliances are formed and maintained, or modified or broken, more in accord with inner need than with outer pressure. Thus it happens that in these societies there are such opportunities to note and observe human grouping under conditions of freedom, as do not occur in the ordinary world. And the results are both interesting and encouraging. As a rule I think it may be said that the alliances are remarkably permanent. Instead of the wild "general post" which so many good people seem to expect in the event of law being relaxed, one finds (except of course in a few individual cases) that common sense and fidelity and a strong tendency to permanence prevail. In the ordinary world so far has doubt gone that many to-day disbelieve in a life-long free marriage. Yet among the Uranians such a thing is, one may almost say, common and well known; and there are certainly few among them who do not believe in its possibility.
Great have been the debates, in all times and places, concerning Jealousy; and as to how far jealousy is natural and instinctive and universal, and how far it is the product of social opinion and the property sense, and so on. In ordinary marriage what may be called social and proprietary jealousy is undoubtedly a very great factor. But this kind of jealousy hardly appears or operates in the Urning societies. Thus we have an opportunity in these latter of observing conditions where only the natural and instinctive jealousy exists. This of course is present among the Urnings - sometimes rampant and violent, sometimes quiescent and vanishing almost to nil. It seems to depend almost entirely upon the individual; and we certainly learn that jealousy, though frequent and widespread, is not an absolutely necessary accompaniment of love. There are cases of Uranians (whether men or women) who, though permanently allied, do not object to lesser friendships on either side - and there are cases of very decided objection. And we may conclude that something the same would be true (is true) of the ordinary Marriage, the property considerations and the property jealousy being once removed. The tendency anyhow to establish a dual relation more or less fixed, is seen to be very strong among the Intermediates, and may be concluded to be equally strong among the more normal folk.
Again with regard to Prostitution. That there are a few natural-born prostitutes is seen in the Urning-societies; but prostitution in that world does not take the important place which it does in the normal world, partly because the law-bound compulsory marriage does not exist there, and partly because prostitution naturally has little chance and cannot compete in a world where alliances are free and there is an open field for friendship. Hence we may see that freedom of alliance and of marriage in the ordinary world will probably lead to the great diminution or even disappearance of Prostitution.
In these and other ways the experience of the Uranian world forming itself freely and not subject to outside laws and institutions comes as a guide - and really a hopeful guide - towards the future. I would say however that in making these remarks about certain conclusions which we are able to gather from some spontaneous and comparatively unrestricted associations, I do not at all mean to argue against institutions and forms. I think that the Uranian love undoubtedly suffers from want of a recognition and a standard. And though it may at present be better off than if subject to a foolish and meddlesome regulation; yet in the future it will have its more or less fixed standards and ideals, like the normal love. If one considers for a moment how the ordinary relations of the sexes would suffer were there no generally acknowledged codes of honour and conduct with regard to them, one then indeed sees that reasonable forms and institutions are a help, and one may almost wonder that the Urning circles are so well-conducted on the whole as they are.
I have said that the Urning men in their own lives put love before money-making, business success, fame, and other motives which rule the normal man. I am sure that it is also true of them as a whole that they put love before lust. I do not feel sure that this can be said of the normal man, at any rate in the present stage of evolution. It is doubtful whether on the whole the merely physical attraction is not the stronger motive with the latter type. Unwilling as the world at large is to credit what I am about to say, and great as are the current misunderstandings on the subject, I believe it is true that the Uranian men are superior to the normal men in this respect - in respect of their love-feeling - which is gentler, more sympathetic, more considerate, more a matter of the heart and less one of mere physical satisfaction than that of ordinary men. [Footnote 5] All this flows naturally from the presence of the feminine element in them, and its blending with the rest of their nature. It should be expected a priori, and it can be noticed at once by those who have any acquaintance with the Urning world. Much of the current misunderstanding with regard to the character and habits of the Urning arises from his confusion with the ordinary roué who, though of normal temperament, contracts homosexual habits out of curiosity and so forth - but this is a point which I have touched on before, and which ought now to be sufficiently clear. If it be once allowed that the love-nature of the Uranian is of a sincere and essentially humane and kindly type then the importance of the Uranian's place in Society, and of the social work he may be able to do, must certainly also be acknowledged.