Portal Site for Russellian in Japan
Love and Money
[From: Mortals and Others, v.1, 1975.］
When the Romantic Movement was still in its first fervour(fervor), it was a common matter of debate whether people should marry for love or for money. The young people concerned usually favoured love, and their parents usually favoured money. In the novels of the period the dilemma was felicitously solved by the discovery, on the last page, that the apparently penniless heroine was really a great heiress. But in real life young men who hoped for this denouement were apt to be disappointed. Prudent parents, while admitting that their daughters should marry for love, took care that all the young men they met should be rich. This method was sometimes very successful; it was adopted, for example, by my maternal grandfather, who had a large number of romantic daughters, none of whom married badly.
In these days of psychology the matter no longer looks so simple as it did eighty years ago. We realise now that money may be the cause, or part of the cause, of quite genuine love; of this there are notable examples in history. Benjamin Disraeli, who became Lord Beaconsfield, was, in his youth, poor and struggling and passionately ambitious. He married a rich widow, much older than himself, and considered by the world to be rather silly. Owing to her, he was able to make his career a success. A cynical world naturally assumed that he loved her money better than he loved her, but in this the world was mistaken ; throughout the whole of their married life, he was deeply and genuinely devoted to her. I do not suppose he would have loved her if she had been poor when he first knew her, but the gratitude which he felt for the help which he owed to her kindly interest in him easily developed into a sincere affection. A great deal of affection is based upon the fact that its object is a help in realising the purposes of the person who feels it. Men in whom ambition is the leading passion are likely to love women who assist them in their career, and it would be very shallow psychology to suppose that the love is not real because it has its instinctive root in self-interest.
An even more notable instance than Disraeli is Mohammed. As everyone knows, he was camel-driver to a rich widow whom be loved and ultimately married. It was her capital which supported him throughout the early unremunerative years of the prophet business. Mohammed was not the man to give an exclusive devotion to any one woman, but there is no doubt that, within the limit set by polygamy, he was genuinely fond of his wife and benefactress.
I have taken examples where the man was poor and the woman rich, but in a world dominated by men the opposite is the commoner case. The psychology, however, is much the same. If a very rich man asks a very poor girl to marry him, she is likely, especially if she has social ambitions, to feel a kind of gratitude which will lead her to fall in love with him, provided he is not too repulsive ; at any rate, he will need a smaller degree of personal attractiveness than a poor man would need.
To him that hath shall be given ; wealth can often purchase not only the semblance of love but its reality. This is unjust and undesirable but nonetheless a fact.