This section of the book is from "The Complete Herbalist" by Dr. O. Phelps Brown. Also available from Amazon: The Complete Herbalist: The People Their Own Physicians By The Use Of Nature's Remedies.
This is the conjugal union of a male with one female only. We have seen that monogamy was co-equal with the dawn of civilization, and that most probably the majority of the males had but one wife, even among polygamic nations. Universal polygamy is practically impossible, the scarcity of females and the poverty of the males forbidding it. The excess of females is not so great in any county as to allow to each male more than one wife, except the male portion is depleted by long and disastrous wars. Monogamy has done more for the elevation of the female than any other custom of civilization. The rich could only afford to practise polygamy, and should the poor imitate the example, it would necessarily subject the wives to a state of serfdom. In the economy of nature it is designed that the male should be the protector of the female, and that by his exertions the provision of food and raiment should be secured In polygamous nations the female has not attained that social state that she has reached in countries where the male is entitled to but one female as his wife. Woman's highest sphere is not in the Harem or the Zenani, but in that dignified state in which she is the sole connubial companion of but one man. It is debasing to her nature, and subversive of his dignity in the rank of humanity, to make her the equal only with others in the marital union with one male. She becomes only the true, noble, and affectionate being when she is conscious of a superiority to others in the connubial companionship with her accepted one. The female of birds chirps but for her single mate, and she is pugnaciously monogamic as well as virtuous, allowing neither male nor female at or near her home. The spirit of independence she gains by being the mate of but one male gains for her the victory over the intruders.
The physical and mental welfare of the female is also dependent upon monogamic marriage. I have demonstrated that temperate indulgence is conducive to the sanitary condition of the sexes, and that absolute abstinence is opposed to the designs of nature. It is also evident that the male is not endowed with greater power, vigor or capacity than the female; therefore, confinement or limitation of the congress to the companionship of one male with one female, as in monogamic marriage, gives the healthy balance to the marital union. The polygamic husband must either suffer from the consequences of excessive indulgence, or his wives from poverty of uxorial gratification; probably both would be the case. Polyandry is equally as proper as polygamy, yet it never in the history of man obtained a foothold. The female is equally capable, if not more so, to capacitate more husbands than one as the male more than one wife, and the physical deterioration would not be greater. The system is more logical than polygamy, because her dependence would be distributed between two or more husbands, in which case she would be better insured against poverty, and her support would be guaranteed by greater probability.
We have now described the history and aspect of the two customs, and will conclude this subject by remarking that a man is morally and physically entitled to but one wife, and that a plurality is a great wrong to to the female, and in total opposition to the ordinance of Nature. Wherever polygamy is the custom the female is held in slavish subjection. It only prospers in proportion to the ignorance of the sex. Intelligent and civilized woman will always rebel against such uxorial debasement and servitude.