3. Mutual aid among savages

Submitted by libcom on January 31, 2006

Supposed war of each against all. -- Tribal origin of human
society. -- Late appearance of the separate family. -- Bushmen
and Hottentots. -- Australians, Papuas. -- Eskimos, Aleoutes. --
Features of savage life difficult to understand for the European.
-- The Dayak's conception of justice. -- Common law.

The immense part played by mutual aid and mutual support in

the evolution of the animal world has been briefly analyzed in

the preceding chapters. We have now to cast a glance upon the

part played by the same agencies in the evolution of mankind. We

saw how few are the animal species which live an isolated life,

and how numberless are those which live in societies, either for

mutual defence, or for hunting and storing up food, or for

rearing their offspring, or simply for enjoying life in common.

We also saw that, though a good deal of warfare goes on between

different classes of animals, or different species, or even

different tribes of the same species, peace and mutual support

are the rule within the tribe or the species; and that those

species which best know how to combine, and to avoid competition,

have the best chances of survival and of a further progressive

development. They prosper, while the unsociable species decay.

It is evident that it would be quite contrary to all that we

know of nature if men were an exception to so general a rule: if

a creature so defenceless as man was at his beginnings should

have found his protection and his way to progress, not in mutual

support, like other animals, but in a reckless competition for

personal advantages, with no regard to the interests of the

species. To a mind accustomed to the idea of unity in nature,

such a proposition appears utterly indefensible. And yet,

improbable and unphilosophical as it is, it has never found a

lack of supporters. There always were writers who took a

pessimistic view of mankind. They knew it, more or less

superficially, through their own limited experience; they knew of

history what the annalists, always watchful of wars, cruelty, and

oppression, told of it, and little more besides; and they

concluded that mankind is nothing but a loose aggregation of

beings, always ready to fight with each other, and only prevented

from so doing by the intervention of some authority.

Hobbes took that position; and while some of his

eighteenth-century followers endeavoured to prove that at no

epoch of its existence -- not even in its most primitive

condition -- mankind lived in a state of perpetual warfare; that

men have been sociable even in "the state of nature," and that

want of knowledge, rather than the natural bad inclinations of

man, brought humanity to all the horrors of its early historical

life, -- his idea was, on the contrary, that the so-called "state

of nature" was nothing but a permanent fight between individuals,

accidentally huddled together by the mere caprice of their

bestial existence. True, that science has made some progress

since Hobbes's time, and that we have safer ground to stand upon

than the speculations of Hobbes or Rousseau. But the Hobbesian

philosophy has plenty of admirers still; and we have had of late

quite a school of writers who, taking possession of Darwin's

terminology rather than of his leading ideas, made of it an

argument in favour of Hobbes's views upon primitive man, and even

succeeded in giving them a scientific appearance. Huxley, as is

known, took the lead of that school, and in a paper written in

1888 he represented primitive men as a sort of tigers or lions,

deprived of all ethical conceptions, fighting out the struggle

for existence to its bitter end, and living a life of "continual

free fight"; to quote his own words -- "beyond the limited and,

temporary relations of the family, the Hobbesian war of each

against all was the normal state of existence."1

It has been remarked more than once that the chief error of

Hobbes, and the eighteenth-century philosophers as well, was to

imagine that mankind began its life in the shape of small

straggling families, something like the "limited and temporary"

families of the bigger carnivores, while in reality it is now

positively known that such was not the case. Of course, we have

no direct evidence as to the modes of life of the first man-like

beings. We are not yet settled even as to the time of their first

appearance, geologists being inclined at present to see their

traces in the pliocene, or even the miocene, deposits of the

Tertiary period. But we have the indirect method which permits us

to throw some light even upon that remote antiquity. A most

careful investigation into the social institutions of the lowest

races has been carried on during the last forty years, and it has

revealed among the present institutions of primitive folk some

traces of still older institutions which have long disappeared,

but nevertheless left unmistakable traces of their previous

existence. A whole science devoted to the embryology of human

institutions has thus developed in the hands of Bachofen,

MacLennan, Morgan, Edwin Tylor, Maine, Post, Kovalevsky, Lubbock,

and many others. And that science has established beyond any

doubt that mankind did not begin its life in the shape of small

isolated families.

Far from being a primitive form of organization, the family

is a very late product of human evolution. As far as we can go

back in the palaeo-ethnology of mankind, we find men living in

societies -- in tribes similar to those of the highest mammals;

and an extremely slow and long evolution was required to bring

these societies to the gentile, or clan organization, which, in

its turn, had to undergo another, also very long evolution,

before the first germs of family, polygamous or monogamous, could

appear. Societies, bands, or tribes -- not families -- were thus

the primitive form of organization of mankind and its earliest

ancestors. That is what ethnology has come to after its

painstaking researches. And in so doing it simply came to what

might have been foreseen by the zoologist. None of the higher

mammals, save a few carnivores and a few undoubtedly-decaying

species of apes (orang-outans and gorillas), live in small

families, isolatedly straggling in the woods. All others live in

societies. And Darwin so well understood that isolately-living

apes never could have developed into man-like beings, that he was

inclined to consider man as descended from some comparatively

weak but social species, like the chimpanzee, rather than from

some stronger but unsociable species, like the gorilla.2

Zoology and palaeo-ethnology are thus agreed in considering that

the band, not the family, was the earliest form of social life.

The first human societies simply were a further development of

those societies which constitute the very essence of life of the

higher animals.3

If we now go over to positive evidence, we see that the

earliest traces of man, dating from the glacial or the early

post-glacial period, afford unmistakable proofs of man having

lived even then in societies. Isolated finds of stone implements,

even from the old stone age, are very rare; on the contrary,

wherever one flint implement is discovered others are sure to be

found, in most cases in very large quantities. At a time when men

were dwelling in caves, or under occasionally protruding rocks,

in company with mammals now extinct, and hardly succeeded in

making the roughest sorts of flint hatchets, they already knew

the advantages of life in societies. In the valleys of the

tributaries of the Dordogne, the surface of the rocks is in some

places entirely covered with caves which were inhabited by

palaeolithic men.4 Sometimes the cave-dwellings are superposed

in storeys, and they certainly recall much more the nesting

colonies of swallows than the dens of carnivores. As to the flint

implements discovered in those caves, to use Lubbock's words,

"one may say without exaggeration that they are numberless." The

same is true of other palaeolithic stations. It also appears from

Lartet's investigations that the inhabitants of the Aurignac

region in the south of France partook of tribal meals at the

burial of their dead. So that men lived in societies, and had

germs of a tribal worship, even at that extremely remote epoch.

The same is still better proved as regards the later part of

the stone age. Traces of neolithic man have been found in

numberless quantities, so that we can reconstitute his manner of

life to a great extent. When the ice-cap (which must have spread

from the Polar regions as far south as middle France, middle

Germany, and middle Russia, and covered Canada as well as a good

deal of what is now the United States) began to melt away, the

surfaces freed from ice were covered, first, with swamps and

marshes, and later on with numberless lakes.5 Lakes filled all

depressions of the valleys before their waters dug out those

permanent channels which, during a subsequent epoch, became our

rivers. And wherever we explore, in Europe, Asia, or America, the

shores of the literally numberless lakes of that period, whose

proper name would be the Lacustrine period, we find traces of

neolithic man. They are so numerous that we can only wonder at

the relative density of population at that time. The "stations"

of neolithic man closely follow each other on the terraces which

now mark the shores of the old lakes. And at each of those

stations stone implements appear in such numbers, that no doubt

is possible as to the length of time during which they were

inhabited by rather numerous tribes. Whole workshops of flint

implements, testifying of the numbers of workers who used to come

together, have been discovered by the archaeologists.

Traces of a more advanced period, already characterized by

the use of some pottery, are found in the shell-heaps of Denmark.

They appear, as is well known, in the shape of heaps from five to

ten feet thick, from 100 to 200 feet wide, and 1,000 feet or more

in length, and they are so common along some parts of the

sea-coast that for a long time they were considered as natural

growths. And yet they "contain nothing but what has been in some

way or other subservient to the use of man," and they are so

densely stuffed with products of human industry that, during a

two days' stay at Milgaard, Lubbock dug out no less than 191

pieces of stone-implements and four fragments of pottery.6 The

very size and extension of the shell heaps prove that for

generations and generations the coasts of Denmark were inhabited

by hundreds of small tribes which certainly lived as peacefully

together as the Fuegian tribes, which also accumulate like

shellheaps, are living in our own times.

As to the lake-dwellings of Switzerland, which represent a

still further advance in civilization, they yield still better

evidence of life and work in societies. It is known that even

during the stone age the shores of the Swiss lakes were dotted

with a succession of villages, each of which consisted of several

huts, and was built upon a platform supported by numberless

pillars in the lake. No less than twenty-four, mostly stone age

villages, were discovered along the shores of Lake Leman,

thirty-two in the Lake of Constance, forty-six in the Lake of

Neuch?tel, and so on; and each of them testifies to the immense

amount of labour which was spent in common by the tribe, not by

the family. It has even been asserted that the life of the

lake-dwellers must have been remarkably free of warfare. And so

it probably was, especially if we refer to the life of those

primitive folk who live until the present time in similar

villages built upon pillars on the sea coasts.

It is thus seen, even from the above rapid hints, that our

knowledge of primitive man is not so scanty after all, and that,

so far as it goes, it is rather opposed than favourable to the

Hobbesian speculations. Moreover, it may be supplemented, to a

great extent, by the direct observation of such primitive tribes

as now stand on the same level of civilization as the inhabitants

of Europe stood in prehistoric times.

That these primitive tribes which we find now are not

degenerated specimens of mankind who formerly knew a higher

civilization, as it has occasionally been maintained, has

sufficiently been proved by Edwin Tylor and Lubbock. However, to

the arguments already opposed to the degeneration theory, the

following may be added. Save a few tribes clustering in the

less-accessible highlands, the "savages" represent a girdle which

encircles the more or less civilized nations, and they occupy the

extremities of our continents, most of which have retained still,

or recently were bearing, an early post-glacial character. Such

are the Eskimos and their congeners in Greenland, Arctic America,

and Northern Siberia; and, in the Southern hemisphere, the

Australians, the Papuas, the Fuegians, and, partly, the Bushmen;

while within the civilized area, like primitive folk are only

found in the Himalayas, the highlands of Australasia, and the

plateaus of Brazil. Now it must be borne in mind that the glacial

age did not come to an end at once over the whole surface of the

earth. It still continues in Greenland. Therefore, at a time when

the littoral regions of the Indian Ocean, the Mediterranean, or

the Gulf of Mexico already enjoyed a warmer climate, and became

the seats of higher civilizations, immense territories in middle

Europe, Siberia, and Northern America, as well as in Patagonia,

Southern Africa, and Southern Australasia, remained in early

postglacial conditions which rendered them inaccessible to the

civilized nations of the torrid and sub-torrid zones. They were

at that time what the terrible urmans of North-West Siberia are

now, and their population, inaccessible to and untouched by

civilization, retained the characters of early post-glacial man.

Later on, when desiccation rendered these territories more

suitable for agriculture, they were peopled with more civilized

immigrants; and while part of their previous inhabitants were

assimilated by the new settlers, another part migrated further,

and settled where we find them. The territories they inhabit now

are still, or recently were, sub-glacial, as to their physical

features; their arts and implements are those of the neolithic

age; and, notwithstanding their racial differences, and the

distances which separate them, their modes of life and social

institutions bear a striking likeness. So we cannot but consider

them as fragments of the early post-glacial population of the now

civilized area.

The first thing which strikes us as soon as we begin studying

primitive folk is the complexity of the organization of marriage

relations under which they are living. With most of them the

family, in the sense we attribute to it, is hardly found in its

germs. But they are by no means loose aggregations of men and

women coming in a disorderly manner together in conformity with

their momentary caprices. All of them are under a certain

organization, which has been described by Morgan in its general

aspects as the "gentile," or clan organization.7

To tell the matter as briefly as possible, there is little

doubt that mankind has passed at its beginnings through a stage

which may be described as that of "communal marriage"; that is,

the whole tribe had husbands and wives in common with but little

regard to consanguinity. But it is also certain that some

restrictions to that free intercourse were imposed at a very

early period. Inter-marriage was soon prohibited between the sons

of one mother and her sisters, granddaughters, and aunts. Later

on it was prohibited between the sons and daughters of the same

mother, and further limitations did not fail to follow. The idea

of a gens, or clan, which embodied all presumed descendants from

one stock (or rather all those who gathered in one group) was

evolved, and marriage within the clan was entirely prohibited. It

still remained "communal," but the wife or the husband had to be

taken from another clan. And when a gens became too numerous, and

subdivided into several gentes, each of them was divided into

classes (usually four), and marriage was permitted only between

certain well-defined classes. That is the stage which we find now

amOng the Kamilaroi-speaking Australians. As to the family, its

first germs appeared amidst the clan organization. A woman who

was captured in war from some other clan, and who formerly would

have belonged to the whole gens, could be kept at a later period

by the capturer, under certain obligations towards the tribe. She

may be taken by him to a separate hut, after she had paid a

certain tribute to the clan, and thus constitute within the gens

a separate family, the appearance of which evidently was opening

a quite new phase of civilization.8

Now, if we take into consideration that this complicated

organization developed among men who stood at the lowest known

degree of development, and that it maintained itself in societies

knowing no kind of authority besides the authority of public

opinion, we at once see how deeply inrooted social instincts must

have been in human nature, even at its lowest stages. A savage

who is capable of living under such an organization, and of

freely submitting to rules which continually clash with his

personal desires, certainly is not a beast devoid of ethical

principles and knowing no rein to its passions. But the fact

becomes still more striking if we consider the immense antiquity

of the clan organization. It is now known that the primitive

Semites, the Greeks of Homer, the prehistoric Romans, the Germans

of Tacitus, the early Celts and the early Slavonians, all have

had their own period of clan organization, closely analogous to

that of the Australians, the Red Indians, the Eskimos, and other

inhabitants of the "savage girdle."9 So we must admit that

either the evolution of marriage laws went on on the same lines

among all human races, or the rudiments of the clan rules were

developed among some common ancestors of the Semites, the Aryans,

the Polynesians, etc., before their differentiation into separate

races took place, and that these rules were maintained, until

now, among races long ago separated from the common stock. Both

alternatives imply, however, an equally striking tenacity of the

institution -- such a tenacity that no assaults of the individual

could break it down through the scores of thousands of years that

it was in existence. The very persistence of the clan

organization shows how utterly false it is to represent primitive

mankind as a disorderly agglomeration of individuals, who only

obey their individual passions, and take advantage of their

personal force and cunningness against all other representatives

of the species. Unbridled individualism is a modern growth, but

it is not characteristic of primitive mankind.10

Going now over to the existing savages, we may begin with the

Bushmen, who stand at a very low level of development -- so low

indeed that they have no dwellings and sleep in holes dug in the

soil, occasionally protected by some screens. It is known that

when Europeans settled in their territory and destroyed deer, the

Bushmen began stealing the settlers' cattle, whereupon a war of

extermination, too horrible to be related here, was waged against

them. Five hundred Bushmen were slaughtered in 1774, three

thousand in 1808 and 1809 by the Farmers' Alliance, and so on.

They were poisoned like rats, killed by hunters lying in ambush

before the carcass of some animal, killed wherever met with.11

So that our knowledge of the Bushmen, being chiefly borrowed from

those same people who exterminated them, is necessarily limited.

But still we know that when the Europeans came, the Bushmen lived

in small tribes (or clans), sometimes federated together; that

they used to hunt in common, and divided the spoil without

quarrelling; that they never abandoned their wounded, and

displayed strong affection to their comrades. Lichtenstein has a

most touching story about a Bushman, nearly drowned in a river,

who was rescued by his companions. They took off their furs to

cover him, and shivered themselves; they dried him, rubbed him

before the fire, and smeared his body with warm grease till they

brought him back to life. And when the Bushmen found, in Johan

van der Walt, a man who treated them well, they expressed their

thankfulness by a most touching attachment to that man.12

Burchell and Moffat both represent them as goodhearted,

disinterested, true to their promises, and grateful,13 all

qualities which could develop only by being practised within the

tribe. As to their love to children, it is sufficient to say that

when a European wished to secure a Bushman woman as a slave, he

stole her child: the mother was sure to come into slavery to

share the fate of her child.14

The same social manners characterize the Hottentots, who are

but a little more developed than the Bushmen. Lubbock describes

them as "the filthiest animals," and filthy they really are. A

fur suspended to the neck and worn till it falls to pieces is all

their dress; their huts are a few sticks assembled together and

covered with mats, with no kind of furniture within. And though

they kept oxen and sheep, and seem to have known the use of iron

before they made acquaintance with the Europeans, they still

occupy one of the lowest degrees of the human scale. And yet

those who knew them highly praised their sociability and

readiness to aid each other. If anything is given to a Hottentot,

he at once divides it among all present -- a habit which, as is

known, so much struck Darwin among the Fuegians. He cannot eat

alone, and, however hungry, he calls those who pass by to share

his food. And when Kolben expressed his astonishment thereat, he

received the answer. "That is Hottentot manner." But this is not

Hottentot manner only: it is an all but universal habit among the

"savages." Kolben, who knew the Hottentots well and did not pass

by their defects in silence, could not praise their tribal

morality highly enough.

"Their word is sacred," he wrote. They know "nothing of the

corruptness and faithless arts of Europe." "They live in great

tranquillity and are seldom at war with their neighbours." They

are "all kindness and goodwill to one another.. One of the

greatest pleasures of the Hottentots certainly lies in their

gifts and good offices to one another." "The integrity of the

Hottentots, their strictness and celerity in the exercise of

justice, and their chastity, are things in which they excel all

or most nations in the world."15

Tachart, Barrow, and Moodie16 fully confirm Kolben's

testimony. Let me only remark that when Kolben wrote that "they

are certainly the most friendly, the most liberal and the most

benevolent people to one another that ever appeared on the earth"

(i. 332), he wrote a sentence which has continually appeared

since in the description of savages. When first meeting with

primitive races, the Europeans usually make a caricature of their

life; but when an intelligent man has stayed among them for a

longer time, he generally describes them as the "kindest" or "the

gentlest" race on the earth. These very same words have been

applied to the Ostyaks, the Samoyedes, the Eskimos, the Dayaks,

the Aleoutes, the Papuas, and so on, by the highest authorities.

I also remember having read them applied to the Tunguses, the

Tchuktchis, the Sioux, and several others. The very frequency of

that high commendation already speaks volumes in itself.

The natives of Australia do not stand on a higher level of

development than their South African brothers. Their huts are of

the same character. very often simple screens are the only

protection against cold winds. In their food they are most

indifferent: they devour horribly putrefied corpses, and

cannibalism is resorted to in times of scarcity. When first

discovered by Europeans, they had no implements but in stone or

bone, and these were of the roughest description. Some tribes had

even no canoes, and did not know barter-trade. And yet, when

their manners and customs were carefully studied, they proved to

be living under that elaborate clan organization which I have

mentioned on a preceding page.17

The territory they inhabit is usually allotted between the

different gentes or clans; but the hunting and fishing

territories of each clan are kept in common, and the produce of

fishing and hunting belongs to the whole clan; so also the

fishing and hunting implements.18 The meals are taken in

common. Like many other savages, they respect certain regulations

as to the seasons when certain gums and grasses may be

collected.19 As to their morality altogether, we cannot do

better than transcribe the following answers given to the

questions of the Paris Anthropological Society by Lumholtz, a

missionary who sojourned in North Queensland:20 --

"The feeling of friendship is known among them; it is strong.

Weak people are usually supported; sick people are very well

attended to; they never are abandoned or killed. These tribes are

cannibals, but they very seldom eat members of their own tribe

(when immolated on religious principles, I suppose); they eat

strangers only. The parents love their children, play with them,

and pet them. Infanticide meets with common approval. Old people

are very well treated, never put to death. No religion, no idols,

only a fear of death. Polygamous marriage. quarrels arising

within the tribe are settled by means of duels fought with wooden

swords and shields. No slaves; no culture of any kind; no

pottery; no dress, save an apron sometimes worn by women. The

clan consists of two hundred individuals, divided into four

classes of men and four of women; marriage being only permitted

within the usual classes, and never within the gens."

For the Papuas, closely akin to the above, we have the

testimony of G.L. Bink, who stayed in New Guinea, chiefly in

Geelwink Bay, from 1871 to 1883. Here is the essence of his

answers to the same questioner:21 --

"They are sociable and cheerful; they laugh very much. Rather

timid than courageous. Friendship is relatively strong among

persons belonging to different tribes, and still stronger within

the tribe. A friend will often pay the debt of his friend, the

stipulation being that the latter will repay it without interest

to the children of the lender. They take care of the ill and the

old; old people are never abandoned, and in no case are they

killed -- unless it be a slave who was ill for a long time. War

prisoners are sometimes eaten. The children are very much petted

and loved. Old and feeble war prisoners are killed, the others

are sold as slaves. They have no religion, no gods, no idols, no

authority of any description; the oldest man in the family is the

judge. In cases of adultery a fine is paid, and part of it goes

to the negoria (the community). The soil is kept in common, but

the crop belongs to those who have grown it. They have pottery,

and know barter-trade -- the custom being that the merchant gives

them the goods, whereupon they return to their houses and bring

the native goods required by the merchant; if the latter cannot

be obtained, the European goods are returned.22 They are

head-hunters, and in so doing they prosecute blood revenge.

'Sometimes,' Finsch says, 'the affair is referred to the Rajah of

Namototte, who terminates it by imposing a fine.'"

When well treated, the Papuas are very kind. Miklukho-Maclay

landed on the eastern coast of New Guinea, followed by one single

man, stayed for two years among tribes reported to be cannibals,

and left them with regret; he returned again to stay one year

more among them, and never had he any conflict to complain of.

True that his rule was never -- under no pretext whatever -- to

say anything which was not truth, nor make any promise which he

could not keep. These poor creatures, who even do not know how to

obtain fire, and carefully maintain it in their huts, live under

their primitive communism, without any chiefs; and within their

villages they have no quarrels worth speaking of. They work in

common, just enough to get the food of the day; they rear their

children in common; and in the evenings they dress themselves as

coquettishly as they can, and dance. Like all savages, they are

fond of dancing. Each village has its barla, or balai -- the

"long house," "longue maison," or "grande maison" -- for the

unmarried men, for social gatherings, and for the discussion of

common affairs -- again a trait which is common to most

inhabitants of the Pacific Islands, the Eskimos, the Red Indians,

and so on. Whole groups of villages are on friendly terms, and

visit each other en bloc.

Unhappily, feuds are not uncommon -- not in consequence of

"Overstocking of the area," or "keen competition," and like

inventions of a mercantile century, but chiefly in consequence of

superstition. As soon as any one falls ill, his friends and

relatives come together, and deliberately discuss who might be

the cause of the illness. All possible enemies are considered,

every one confesses of his own petty quarrels, and finally the

real cause is discovered. An enemy from the next village has

called it down, and a raid upon that village is decided upon.

Therefore, feuds are rather frequent, even between the coast

villages, not to say a word of the cannibal mountaineers who are

considered as real witches and enemies, though, on a closer

acquaintance, they prove to be exactly the same sort of people as

their neighbours on the seacoast.23

Many striking pages could be written about the harmony which

prevails in the villages of the Polynesian inhabitants of the

Pacific Islands. But they belong to a more advanced stage of

civilization. So we shall now take our illustrations from the far

north. I must mention, however, before leaving the Southern

Hemisphere, that even the Fuegians, whose reputation has been so

bad, appear under a much better light since they begin to be

better known. A few French missionaries who stay among them "know

of no act of malevolence to complain of." In their clans,

consisting of from 120 to 150 souls, they practise the same

primitive communism as the Papuas; they share everything in

common, and treat their old people very well. Peace prevails

among these tribes.24 With the Eskimos and their nearest

congeners, the Thlinkets, the Koloshes, and the Aleoutes, we find

one of the nearest illustrations of what man may have been during

the glacial age. Their implements hardly differ from those of

palaeolithic man, and some of their tribes do not yet know

fishing: they simply spear the fish with a kind of harpoon.25

They know the use of iron, but they receive it from the

Europeans, or find it on wrecked ships. Their social organization

is of a very primitive kind, though they already have emerged

from the stage of "communal marriage," even under the gentile

restrictions. They live in families, but the family bonds are

often broken; husbands and wives are often exchanged.26 The

families, however, remain united in clans, and how could it be

otherwise? How could they sustain the hard struggle for life

unless by closely combining their forces? So they do, and the

tribal bonds are closest where the struggle for life is hardest,

namely, in North-East Greenland. The "long house" is their usual

dwelling, and several families lodge in it, separated from each

other by small partitions of ragged furs, with a common passage

in the front. Sometimes the house has the shape of a cross, and

in such case a common fire is kept in the centre. The German

Expedition which spent a winter close by one of those "long

houses" could ascertain that "no quarrel disturbed the peace, no

dispute arose about the use of this narrow space" throughout the

long winter. "Scolding, or even unkind words, are considered as a

misdemeanour, if not produced under the legal form of process,

namely, the nith-song."27 Close cohabitation and close

interdependence are sufficient for maintaining century after

century that deep respect for the interests of the community

which is characteristic of Eskimo life. Even in the larger

communities of Eskimos, "public opinion formed the real

judgment-seat, the general punishment consisting in the offenders

being shamed in the eyes of the people."28

Eskimo life is based upon communism. What is obtained by

hunting and fishing belongs to the clan. But in several tribes,

especially in the West, under the influence of the Danes, private

property penetrates into their institutions. However, they have

an original means for obviating the inconveniences arising from a

personal accumulation of wealth which would soon destroy their

tribal unity. When a man has grown rich, he convokes the folk of

his clan to a great festival, and, after much eating, distributes

among them all his fortune. On the Yukon river, Dall saw an

Aleonte family distributing in this way ten guns, ten full fur

dresses, 200 strings of beads, numerous blankets, ten wolf furs,

200 beavers, and 500 zibelines. After that they took off their

festival dresses, gave them away, and, putting on old ragged

furs, addressed a few words to their kinsfolk, saying that though

they are now poorer than any one of them, they have won their

friendship.29 Like distributions of wealth appear to be a

regular habit with the Eskimos, and to take place at a certain

season, after an exhibition of all that has been obtained during

the year.30 In my opinion these distributions reveal a very

old institution, contemporaneous with the first apparition of

personal wealth; they must have been a means for re-establishing

equality among the members of the clan, after it had been

disturbed by the enrichment of the few. The periodical

redistribution of land and the periodical abandonment of all

debts which took place in historical times with so many different

races (Semites, Aryans, etc.), must have been a survival of that

old custom. And the habit of either burying with the dead, or

destroying upon his grave, all that belonged to him personally

-- a habit which we find among all primitive races -- must have

had the same origin. In fact, while everything that belongs

personally to the dead is burnt or broken upon his grave, nothing

is destroyed of what belonged to him in common with the tribe,

such as boats, or the communal implements of fishing. The

destruction bears upon personal property alone. At a later epoch

this habit becomes a religious ceremony. It receives a mystical

interpretation, and is imposed by religion, when public opinion

alone proves incapable of enforcing its general observance. And,

finally, it is substituted by either burning simple models of the

dead man's property (as in China), or by simply carrying his

property to the grave and taking it back to his house after the

burial ceremony is over -- a habit which still prevails with the

Europeans as regards swords, crosses, and other marks of public


The high standard of the tribal morality of the Eskimos has

often been mentioned in general literature. Nevertheless the

following remarks upon the manners of the Aleoutes -- nearly akin

to the Eskimos -- will better illustrate savage morality as a

whole. They were written, after a ten years' stay among the

Aleoutes, by a most remarkable man -- the Russian missionary,

Veniaminoff. I sum them up, mostly in his own words: --

Endurability (he wrote) is their chief feature. It is simply

colossal. Not only do they bathe every morning in the frozen sea,

and stand naked on the beach, inhaling the icy wind, but their

endurability, even when at hard work on insufficient food,

surpasses all that can be imagined. During a protracted scarcity

of food, the Aleoute cares first for his children; he gives them

all he has, and himself fasts. They are not inclined to stealing;

that was remarked even by the first Russian immigrants. Not that

they never steal; every Aleoute would confess having sometime

stolen something, but it is always a trifle; the whole is so

childish. The attachment of the parents to their children is

touching, though it is never expressed in words or pettings. The

Aleoute is with difficulty moved to make a promise, but once he

has made it he will keep it whatever may happen. (An Aleoute made

Veniaminoff a gift of dried fish, but it was forgotten on the

beach in the hurry of the departure. He took it home. The next

occasion to send it to the missionary was in January; and in

November and December there was a great scarcity of food in the

Aleoute encampment. But the fish was never touched by the

starving people, and in January it was sent to its destination.)

Their code of morality is both varied and severe. It is

considered shameful to be afraid of unavoidable death; to ask

pardon from an enemy; to die without ever having killed an enemy;

to be convicted of stealing; to capsize a boat in the harbour; to

be afraid of going to sea in stormy weather. to be the first in a

party on a long journey to become an invalid in case of scarcity

of food; to show greediness when spoil is divided, in which case

every one gives his own part to the greedy man to shame him; to

divulge a public secret to his wife; being two persons on a

hunting expedition, not to offer the best game to the partner; to

boast of his own deeds, especially of invented ones; to scold any

one in scorn. Also to beg; to pet his wife in other people's

presence, and to dance with her to bargain personally: selling

must always be made through a third person, who settles the

price. For a woman it is a shame not to know sewing, dancing and

all kinds of woman's work; to pet her husband and children, or

even to speak to her husband in the presence of a stranger.32

Such is Aleoute morality, which might also be further

illustrated by their tales and legends. Let me also add that when

Veniaminoff wrote (in 1840) one murder only had been committed

since the last century in a population of 60,000 people, and that

among 1,800 Aleoutes not one single common law offence had been

known for forty years. This will not seem strange if we remark

that scolding, scorning, and the use of rough words are

absolutely unknown in Aleoute life. Even their children never

fight, and never abuse each other in words. All they may say is,

"Your mother does not know sewing," or "Your father is blind of

one eye."33

Many features of savage life remain, however, a puzzle to

Europeans. The high development of tribal solidarity and the good

feelings with which primitive folk are animated towards each

other, could be illustrated by any amount of reliable testimony.

And yet it is not the less certain that those same savages

practise infanticide; that in some cases they abandon their old

people, and that they blindly obey the rules of blood-revenge. We

must then explain the coexistence of facts which, to the European

mind, seem so contradictory at the first sight. I have just

mentioned how the Aleoute father starves for days and weeks, and

gives everything eatable to his child; and how the Bushman mother

becomes a slave to follow her child; and I might fill pages with

illustrations of the really tender relations existing among the

savages and their children. Travellers continually mention them

incidentally. Here you read about the fond love of a mother;

there you see a father wildly running through the forest and

carrying upon his shoulders his child bitten by a snake; or a

missionary tells you the despair of the parents at the loss of a

child whom he had saved, a few years before, from being immolated

at its birth. you learn that the "savage" mothers usually nurse

their children till the age of four, and that, in the New

Hebrides, on the loss of a specially beloved child, its mother,

or aunt, will kill herself to take care of it in the other

world.34 And so on.

Like facts are met with by the score; so that, when we see

that these same loving parents practise infanticide, we are bound

to recognize that the habit (whatever its ulterior

transformations may be) took its origin under the sheer pressure

of necessity, as an obligation towards the tribe, and a means for

rearing the already growing children. The savages, as a rule, do

not "multiply without stint," as some English writers put it. On

the contrary, they take all kinds of measures for diminishing the

birth-rate. A whole series of restrictions, which Europeans

certainly would find extravagant, are imposed to that effect, and

they are strictly obeyed. But notwithstanding that, primitive

folk cannot rear all their children. However, it has been

remarked that as soon as they succeed in increasing their regular

means of subsistence, they at once begin to abandon the practice

of infanticide. On the whole, the parents obey that obligation

reluctantly, and as soon as they can afford it they resort to all

kinds of compromises to save the lives of their new-born. As has

been so well pointed out by my friend Elie Reclus,35 they

invent the lucky and unlucky days of births, and spare the

children born on the lucky days; they try to postpone the

sentence for a few hours, and then say that if the baby has lived

one day it must live all its natural life.36 They hear the

cries of the little ones coming from the forest, and maintain

that, if heard, they forbode a misfortune for the tribe; and as

they have no baby-farming nor cr?ches for getting rid of the

children, every one of them recoils before the necessity of

performing the cruel sentence; they prefer to expose the baby in

the wood rather than to take its life by violence. Ignorance, not

cruelty, maintains infanticide; and, instead of moralizing the

savages with sermons, the missionaries would do better to follow

the example of Veniaminoff, who, every year till his old age,

crossed the sea of Okhotsk in a miserable boat, or travelled on

dogs among his Tchuktchis, supplying them with bread and fishing

implements. He thus had really stopped infanticide.

The same is true as regards what superficial observers

describe as parricide. We just now saw that the habit of

abandoning old people is not so widely spread as some writers

have maintained it to be. It has been extremely exaggerated, but

it is occasionally met with among nearly all savages; and in such

cases it has the same origin as the exposure of children. When a

"savage" feels that he is a burden to his tribe; when every

morning his share of food is taken from the mouths of the

children -- and the little ones are not so stoical as their

fathers: they cry when they are hungry; when every day he has to

be carried across the stony beach, or the virgin forest, on the

shoulders of younger people there are no invalid carriages, nor

destitutes to wheel them in savage lands -- he begins to repeat

what the old Russian peasants say until now-a-day. "Tchujoi vek

zayedayu, Pora na pokoi!" ("I live other people's life: it is

time to retire!") And he retires. He does what the soldier does

in a similar case. When the salvation of his detachment depends

upon its further advance, and he can move no more, and knows that

he must die if left behind, the soldier implores his best friend

to render him the last service before leaving the encampment. And

the friend, with shivering hands, discharges his gun into the

dying body. So the savages do. The old man asks himself to die;

he himself insists upon this last duty towards the community, and

obtains the consent of the tribe; he digs out his grave; he

invites his kinsfolk to the last parting meal. His father has

done so, it is now his turn; and he parts with his kinsfolk with

marks of affection. The savage so much considers death as part of

his duties towards his community, that he not only refuses to be

rescued (as Moffat has told), but when a woman who had to be

immolated on her husband's grave was rescued by missionaries, and

was taken to an island, she escaped in the night, crossed a broad

sea-arm, swimming and rejoined her tribe, to die on the

grave.37 It has become with them a matter of religion. But the

savages, as a rule, are so reluctant to take any one's life

otherwise than in fight, that none of them will take upon himself

to shed human blood, and they resort to all kinds of stratagems,

which have been so falsely interpreted. In most cases, they

abandon the old man in the wood, after having given him more than

his share of the common food. Arctic expeditions have done the

same when they no more could carry their invalid comrades. "Live

a few days more. may be there will be some unexpected rescue!"

West European men of science, when coming across these facts, are

absolutely unable to stand them; they can not reconcile them with

a high development of tribal morality, and they prefer to cast a

doubt upon the exactitude of absolutely reliable observers,

instead of trying to explain the parallel existence of the two

sets of facts: a high tribal morality together with the

abandonment of the parents and infanticide. But if these same

Europeans were to tell a savage that people, extremely amiable,

fond of their own children, and so impressionable that they cry

when they see a misfortune simulated on the stage, are living in

Europe within a stone's throw from dens in which children die

from sheer want of food, the savage, too, would not understand

them. I remember how vainly I tried to make some of my Tungus

friends understand our civilization of individualism: they could

not, and they resorted to the most fantastical suggestions. The

fact is that a savage, brought up in ideas of a tribal solidarity

in everything for bad and for good, is as incapable of

understanding a "moral" European, who knows nothing of that

solidarity, as the average European is incapable of understanding

the savage. But if our scientist had lived amidst a half-starving

tribe which does not possess among them all one man's food for so

much as a few days to come, he probably might have understood

their motives. So also the savage, if he had stayed among us, and

received our education, may be, would understand our European

indifference towards our neighbours, and our Royal Commissions

for the prevention of "babyfarming." "Stone houses make stony

hearts," the Russian peasants say. But he ought to live in a

stone house first.

Similar remarks must be made as regards cannibalism. Taking

into account all the facts which were brought to light during a

recent controversy on this subject at the Paris Anthropological

Society, and many incidental remarks scattered throughout the

"savage" literature, we are bound to recognize that that practice

was brought into existence by sheer necessity. but that it was

further developed by superstition and religion into the

proportions it attained in Fiji or in Mexico. It is a fact that

until this day many savages are compelled to devour corpses in

the most advanced state of putrefaction, and that in cases of

absolute scarcity some of them have had to disinter and to feed

upon human corpses, even during an epidemic. These are

ascertained facts. But if we now transport ourselves to the

conditions which man had to face during the glacial period, in a

damp and cold climate, with but little vegetable food at his

disposal; if we take into account the terrible ravages which

scurvy still makes among underfed natives, and remember that meat

and fresh blood are the only restoratives which they know, we

must admit that man, who formerly was a granivorous animal,

became a flesh-eater during the glacial period. He found plenty

of deer at that time, but deer often migrate in the Arctic

regions, and sometimes they entirely abandon a territory for a

number of years. In such cases his last resources disappeared.

During like hard trials, cannibalism has been resorted to even by

Europeans, and it was resorted to by the savages. Until the

present time, they occasionally devour the corpses of their own

dead: they must have devoured then the corpses of those who had

to die. Old people died, convinced that by their death they were

rendering a last service to the tribe. This is why cannibalism is

represented by some savages as of divine origin, as something

that has been ordered by a messenger from the sky. But later on

it lost its character of necessity, and survived as a

superstition. Enemies had to be eaten in order to inherit their

courage; and, at a still later epoch, the enemy's eye or heart

was eaten for the same purpose; while among other tribes, already

having a numerous priesthood and a developed mythology, evil

gods, thirsty for human blood, were invented, and human

sacrifices required by the priests to appease the gods. In this

religious phase of its existence, cannibalism attained its most

revolting characters. Mexico is a well-known example; and in

Fiji, where the king could eat any one of his subjects, we also

find a mighty cast of priests, a complicated theology,38 and a

full development of autocracy. Originated by necessity,

cannibalism became, at a later period, a religious institution,

and in this form it survived long after it had disappeared from

among tribes which certainly practised it in former times, but

did not attain the theocratical stage of evolution. The same

remark must be made as regards infanticide and the abandonment of

parents. In some cases they also have been maintained as a

survival of olden times, as a religiously-kept tradition of the


I will terminate my remarks by mentioning another custom

which also is a source of most erroneous conclusions. I mean the

practice of blood-revenge. All savages are under the impression

that blood shed must be revenged by blood. If any one has been

killed, the murderer must die; if any one has been wounded, the

aggressor's blood must be shed. There is no exception to the

rule, not even for animals; so the hunter's blood is shed on his

return to the village when he has shed the blood of an animal.

That is the savages' conception of justice -- a conception which

yet prevails in Western Europe as regards murder. Now, when both

the offender and the offended belong to the same tribe, the tribe

and the offended person settle the affair.39 But when the

offender belongs to another tribe, and that tribe, for one reason

or another, refuses a compensation, then the offended tribe

decides to take the revenge itself. Primitive folk so much

consider every one's acts as a tribal affair, dependent upon

tribal approval, that they easily think the clan responsible for

every one's acts. Therefore, the due revenge may be taken upon

any member of the offender's clan or relatives.40 It may often

happen, however, that the retaliation goes further than the

offence. In trying to inflict a wound, they may kill the

offender, or wound him more than they intended to do, and this

becomes a cause for a new feud, so that the primitive legislators

were careful in requiring the retaliation to be limited to an eye

for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, and blood for blood.41

It is remarkable, however, that with most primitive folk like

feuds are infinitely rarer than might be expected; though with

some of them they may attain abnormal proportions, especially

with mountaineers who have been driven to the highlands by

foreign invaders, such as the mountaineers of Caucasia, and

especially those of Borneo -- the Dayaks. With the Dayaks -- we

were told lately -- the feuds had gone so far that a young man

could neither marry nor be proclaimed of age before he had

secured the head of an enemy. This horrid practice was fully

described in a modern English work.42 It appears, however,

that this affirmation was a gross exaggeration. Moreover, Dayak

"head-hunting" takes quite another aspect when we learn that the

supposed "headhunter" is not actuated at all by personal passion.

He acts under what he considers as a moral obligation towards his

tribe, just as the European judge who, in obedience to the same,

evidently wrong, principle of "blood for blood," hands over the

condemned murderer to the hangman. Both the Dayak and the judge

would even feel remorse if sympathy moved them to spare the

murderer. That is why the Dayaks, apart from the murders they

commit when actuated by their conception of justice, are

depicted, by all those who know them, as a most sympathetic

people. Thus Carl Bock, the same author who has given such a

terrible picture of head-hunting, writes:

"As regards morality, I am bound to assign to the Dayaks a high

place in the scale of civilization.... Robberies and theft are

entirely unknown among them. They also are very truthful.... If I

did not always get the ' whole truth,' I always got, at least,

nothing but the truth from them. I wish I could say the same of

the Malays" (pp. 209 and 210).

Bock's testimony is fully corroborated by that of Ida

Pfeiffer. "I fully recognized," she wrote, "that I should be

pleased longer to travel among them. I usually found them honest,

good, and reserved... much more so than any other nation I

know."43 Stoltze used almost the same language when speaking

of them. The Dayaks usually have but one wife, and treat her

well. They are very sociable, and every morning the whole clan

goes out for fishing, hunting, or gardening, in large parties.

Their villages consist of big huts, each of which is inhabited by

a dozen families, and sometimes by several hundred persons,

peacefully living together. They show great respect for their

wives, and are fond of their children; and when one of them falls

ill, the women nurse him in turn. As a rule they are very

moderate in eating and drinking. Such is the Dayak in his real

daily life.

It would be a tedious repetition if more illustrations from

savage life were given. Wherever we go we find the same sociable

manners, the same spirit of solidarity. And when we endeavour to

penetrate into the darkness of past ages, we find the same tribal

life, the same associations of men, however primitive, for mutual

support. Therefore, Darwin was quite right when he saw in man's

social qualities the chief factor for his further evolution, and

Darwin's vulgarizers are entirely wrong when they maintain the


The small strength and speed of man (he wrote), his want of

natural weapons, etc., are more than counterbalanced, firstly, by

his intellectual faculties (which, he remarked on another page,

have been chiefly or even exclusively gained for the benefit of

the community). and secondly, by his social qualities, which led

him to give and receive aid from his fellow men.44

In the last century the "savage" and his "life in the state

of nature" were idealized. But now men of science have gone to

the opposite extreme, especially since some of them, anxious to

prove the animal origin of man, but not conversant with the

social aspects of animal life, began to charge the savage with

all imaginable "bestial" features. It is evident, however, that

this exaggeration is even more unscientific than Rousseau's

idealization. The savage is not an ideal of virtue, nor is he an

ideal of "savagery." But the primitive man has one quality,

elaborated and maintained by the very necessities of his hard

struggle for life -- he identifies his own existence with that of

his tribe; and without that quality mankind never would have

attained the level it has attained now.

Primitive folk, as has been already said, so much identify

their lives with that of the tribe, that each of their acts,

however insignificant, is considered as a tribal affair. Their

whole behaviour is regulated by an infinite series of unwritten

rules of propriety which are the fruit of their common experience

as to what is good or bad -- that is, beneficial or harmful for

their own tribe. Of course, the reasonings upon which their rules

of propriety are based sometimes are absurd in the extreme. Many

of them originate in superstition; and altogether, in whatever

the savage does, he sees but the immediate consequences of his

acts; he cannot foresee their indirect and ulterior consequences

-- thus simply exaggerating a defect with which Bentham

reproached civilized legislators. But, absurd or not, the savage

obeys the prescriptions of the common law, however inconvenient

they may be. He obeys them even more blindly than the civilized

man obeys the prescriptions of the written law. His common law is

his religion; it is his very habit of living. The idea of the

clan is always present to his mind, and self-restriction and

self-sacrifice in the interest of the clan are of daily

occurrence. If the savage has infringed one of the smaller tribal

rules, he is prosecuted by the mockeries of the women. If the

infringement is grave, he is tortured day and night by the fear

of having called a calamity upon his tribe. If he has wounded by

accident any one of his own clan, and thus has committed the

greatest of all crimes, he grows quite miserable: he runs away in

the woods, and is ready to commit suicide, unless the tribe

absolves him by inflicting upon him a physical pain and sheds

some of his own blood.45 Within the tribe everything is shared

in common; every morsel of food is divided among all present; and

if the savage is alone in the woods, he does not begin eating

before he has loudly shouted thrice an invitation to any one who

may hear his voice to share his meal.46

In short, within the tribe the rule of "each for all" is

supreme, so long as the separate family has not yet broken up the

tribal unity. But that rule is not extended to the neighbouring

clans, or tribes, even when they are federated for mutual

protection. Each tribe, or clan, is a separate unity. Just as

among mammals and birds, the territory is roughly allotted among

separate tribes, and, except in times of war, the boundaries are

respected. On entering the territory of his neighbours one must

show that he has no bad intentions. The louder one heralds his

coming, the more confidence he wins; and if he enters a house, he

must deposit his hatchet at the entrance. But no tribe is bound

to share its food with the others: it may do so or it may not.

Therefore the life of the savage is divided into two sets of

actions, and appears under two different ethical aspects: the

relations within the tribe, and the relations with the outsiders;

and (like our international law) the "inter-tribal" law widely

differs from the common law. Therefore, when it comes to a war

the most revolting cruelties may be considered as so many claims

upon the admiration of the tribe. This double conception of

morality passes through the whole evolution of mankind, and

maintains itself until now. We Europeans have realized some

progress -- not immense, at any rate -- in eradicating that

double conception of ethics; but it also must be said that while

we have in some measure extended our ideas of solidarity -- in

theory, at least -- over the nation, and partly over other

nations as well, we have lessened the bonds of solidarity within

our own nations, and even within our own families.

The appearance of a separate family amidst the clan

necessarily disturbs the established unity. A separate family

means separate property and accumulation of wealth. We saw how

the Eskimos obviate its inconveniences; and it is one of the most

interesting studies to follow in the course of ages the different

institutions (village communities, guilds, and so on) by means of

which the masses endeavoured to maintain the tribal unity,

notwithstanding the agencies which were at work to break it down.

On the other hand, the first rudiments of knowledge which

appeared at an extremely remote epoch, when they confounded

themselves with witchcraft, also became a power in the hands of

the individual which could be used against the tribe. They were

carefully kept in secrecy, and transmitted to the initiated only,

in the secret societies of witches, shamans, and priests, which

we find among all savages. By the same time, wars and invasions

created military authority, as also castes of warriors, whose

associations or clubs acquired great powers. However, at no

period of man's life were wars the normal state of existence.

While warriors exterminated each other, and the priests

celebrated their massacres, the masses continued to live their

daily life, they prosecuted their daily toil. And it is one of

the most interesting studies to follow that life of the masses;

to study the means by which they maintained their own social

organization, which was based upon their own conceptions of

equity, mutual aid, and mutual support -- of common law, in a

word, even when they were submitted to the most ferocious

theocracy or autocracy in the State.

1 Nineteenth Century., February 1888, p. 165
2 The Descent of Man, end of ch. ii. pp. 63 and 64 of the 2nd
3 Anthropologists who fully endorse the above views as regards
man nevertheless intimate, sometimes, that the apes live in
polygamous families, under the leadership of "a strong and
jealous male." I do not know how far that assertion is based upon
conclusive observation. But the passage from Brehm's Life of
Animals, which is sometimes referred to, can hardly be taken as
very conclusive. It occurs in his general description of monkeys;
but his more detailed descriptions of separate species either
contradict it or do not confirm it. Even as regards the
cercopith?ques, Brehm is affirmative in saying that they "nearly
always live in bands, and very seldom in families" (French
edition, p. 59). As to other species, the very numbers of their
bands, always containing many males, render the "polygamous
family" more than doubtful further observation is evidently
4 Lubbock, Prehistoric Times, fifth edition, 1890.
5 That extension of the ice-cap is admitted by most of the
geologists who have specially studied the glacial age. The
Russian Geological Survey already has taken this view as regards
Russia, and most German specialists maintain it as regards
Germany. The glaciation of most of the central plateau of France
will not fail to be recognized by the French geologists, when
they pay more attention to the glacial deposits altogether.
6 Prehistoric Times, pp. 232 and 242.
7 Bachofen, Das Mutterrecht, Stuttgart, 1861; Lewis H. Morgan,
Ancient Society, or Researches in the Lines of Human Progress
from Savagery through Barbarism to Civilization, New York, 1877;
J.F. MacLennan, Studies in Ancient History, 1st series, new
edition, 1886; 2nd series, 1896; L. Fison and A.W. Howitt,
Kamilaroi and Kurnai, Melbourne. These four writers -- as has
been very truly remarked by Giraud Teulon, -- starting from
different facts and different general ideas, and following
different methods, have come to the same conclusion. To Bachofen
we owe the notion of the maternal family and the maternal
succession; to Morgan -- the system of kinship, Malayan and
Turanian, and a highly gifted sketch of the main phases of human
evolution; to MacLennan -- the law of exogeny; and to Fison and
Howitt -- the cuadro, or scheme, of the conjugal societies in
Australia. All four end in establishing the same fact of the
tribal origin of the family. When Bachofen first drew attention
to the maternal family, in his epoch.making work, and Morgan
described the clan-organization, -- both concurring to the almost
general extension of these forms and maintaining that the
marriage laws lie at the very basis of the consecutive steps of
human evolution, they were accused of exaggeration. However, the
most careful researches prosecuted since, by a phalanx of
students of ancient law, have proved that all races of mankind
bear traces of having passed through similar stages of
development of marriage laws, such as we now see in force among
certain savages. See the works of Post, Dargun, Kovalevsky,
Lubbock, and their numerous followers: Lippert, Mucke, etc.
8 See Appendix VII.
9 For the Semites and the Aryans, see especially Prof. Maxim
Kovalevsky's Primitive Law (in Russian), Moscow, 1886 and 1887.
Also his Lectures delivered at Stockholm (Tableau des origines et
de l'?volution de la famille et de la propri?t?, Stockholm,
1890), which represents an admirable review of the whole
question. Cf. also A. Post, Die Geschlechtsgenossenschaft der
Urzeit, Oldenburg 1875.
10 It would be impossible to enter here into a discussion of the
origin of the marriage restrictions. Let me only remark that a
division into groups, similar to Morgan's Hawaian, exists among
birds; the young broods live together separately from their
parents. A like division might probably be traced among some
mammals as well. As to the prohibition of relations between
brothers and sisters, it is more likely to have arisen, not from
speculations about the bad effects of consanguinity, which
speculations really do not seem probable, but to avoid the
too-easy precocity of like marriages. Under close cohabitation it
must have become of imperious necessity. I must also remark that
in discussing the origin of new customs altogether, we must keep
in mind that the savages, like us, have their "thinkers" and
savants-wizards, doctors, prophets, etc. -- whose knowledge and
ideas are in advance upon those of the masses. United as they are
in their secret unions (another almost universal feature) they
are certainly capable of exercising a powerful influence, and of
enforcing customs the utility of which may not yet be recognized
by the majority of the tribe.
11 Col. Collins, in Philips' Researches in South Africa, London,
1828. Quoted by Waitz, ii. 334.
12 Lichtenstein's Reisen im s?dlichen Afrika, ii. Pp. 92, 97.
Berlin, 1811.
13 Waitz, Anthropologie der Naturvolker, ii. pp. 335 seq. See
also Fritsch's Die Eingeboren Afrika's, Breslau, 1872, pp. 386
seq.; and Drei Jahre in S?d Afrika. Also W. Bleck, A Brief
Account of Bushmen Folklore, Capetown, 1875.
14 Elis?e Reclus, G?ographie Universelle, xiii. 475.
15 P. Kolben, The Present State of the Cape of Good Hope,
translated from the German by Mr. Medley, London, 1731, vol. i.
pp. 59, 71, 333, 336, etc.
16 Quoted in Waitz's Anthropologie, ii. 335 seq.
17 The natives living in the north of Sidney, and speaking the
Kamilaroi language, are best known under this aspect, through the
capital work of Lorimer Fison and A.W. Howitt, Kamilaroi and
Kurnaii, Melbourne, 1880. See also A.W. Howitt's "Further Note on
the Australian Class Systems," in Journal of the Anthropological
Institute, 1889, vol. xviii. p. 31, showing the wide extension of
the same organization in Australia.
18 The Folklore, Manners, etc., of Australian Aborigines,
Adelaide, 1879, p. 11.
19 Grey's Journals of Two Expeditions of Discovery in North-West
and Western Australia, London, 1841, vol. ii. pp. 237, 298.
20 Bulletin de la Soci?t? d'Anthropologie, 1888, vol. xi. p.
652. I abridge the answers.
21 Bulletin de la Soci?t? d'Anthropologie, 1888, vol. xi. p.
22 The same is the practice with the Papuas of Kaimani Bay, who
have a high reputation of honesty. "It never happens that the
Papua be untrue to his promise," Finsch says in Neuguinea und
seine Bewohner, Bremen, 1865, p. 829.
23 Izvestia of the Russian Geographical Society, 1880, pp. 161
seq. Few books of travel give a better insight into the petty
details of the daily life of savages than these scraps from
Maklay's notebooks.
24 L.F. Martial, in Mission Scientifique au Cap Horn, Paris,
1883, vol. i. pp. 183-201.

25 Captain Holm's Expedition to East Greenland.
26 In Australia whole clans have been seen exchanging all their
wives, in order to conjure a calamity (Post, Studien zur
Entwicklungsgeschichte des Familienrechts, 1890, p. 342). More
brotherhood is their specific against calamities.
27 Dr. H. Rink, The Eskimo Tribes, p. 26 (Meddelelser om
Gr?nland, vol. xi. 1887).
28 Dr. Rink, loc. cit. p. 24. Europeans, grown in the respect of
Roman law, are seldom capable of understanding that force of
tribal authority. "In fact," Dr. Rink writes, "it is not the
exception, but the rule, that white men who have stayed for ten
or twenty years among the Eskimo, return without any real
addition to their knowledge of the traditional ideas upon which
their social state is based. The white man, whether a missionary
or a trader, is firm in his dogmatic opinion that the most vulgar
European is better than the most distinguished native." -- The
Eskimo Tribes, p. 31.
29 Dall, Alaska and its Resources, Cambridge, U.S., 1870.
30 Dall saw it in Alaska, Jacobsen at Ignitok in the vicinity of
the Bering Strait. Gilbert Sproat mentions it among the Vancouver
indians; and Dr. Rink, who describes the periodical exhibitions
just mentioned, adds: "The principal use of the accumulation of
personal wealth is for periodically distributing it." He also
mentions (loc. cit. p. 31) "the destruction of property for the
same purpose,' (of maintaining equality).
31 See Appendix VIII.
32 Veniaminoff, Memoirs relative to the District of Unalashka
(Russian), 3 vols. St. Petersburg, 1840. Extracts, in English,
from the above are given in Dall's Alaska. A like description of
the Australians' morality is given in Nature, xlii. p. 639.
33 It is most remarkable that several writers (Middendorff,
Schrenk, O. Finsch) described the Ostyaks and Samoyedes in almost
the same words. Even when drunken, their quarrels are
insignificant. "For a hundred years one single murder has been
committed in the tundra;" "their children never fight;" "anything
may be left for years in the tundra, even food and gin, and
nobody will touch it;" and so on. Gilbert Sproat "never witnessed
a fight between two sober natives" of the Aht Indians of
Vancouver Island. "Quarrelling is also rare among their
children." (Rink, loc. cit.) And so on.
34 Gill, quoted in Gerland and Waitz's Anthropologie, v. 641.
See also pp. 636-640, where many facts of parental and filial
love are quoted.
35 Primitive Folk, London, 1891.
36 Gerland, loc. cit. v. 636.
37 Erskine, quoted in Gerland and Waitz's Anthropologie, v. 640.
38 W.T. Pritchard, Polynesian Reminiscences, London, 1866, p.
39 It is remarkable, however, that in case of a sentence of
death, nobody will take upon himself to be the executioner. Every
one throws his stone, or gives his blow with the hatchet,
carefully avoiding to give a mortal blow. At a later epoch, the
priest will stab the victim with a sacred knife. Still later, it
will be the king, until civilization invents the hired hangman.
See Bastian's deep remarks upon this subject in Der Mensch in der
Geschichte, iii. Die Blutrache, pp. 1-36. A remainder of this
tribal habit, I am told by Professor E. Nys, has survived in
military executions till our own times. In the middle portion of
the nineteenth century it was the habit to load the rifles of the
twelve soldiers called out for shooting the condemned victim,
with eleven ball-cartridges and one blank cartridge. As the
soldiers never knew who of them had the latter, each one could
console his disturbed conscience by thinking that he was not one
of the murderers.
40 In Africa, and elsewhere too, it is a widely-spread habit,
that if a theft has been committed, the next clan has to restore
the equivalent of the stolen thing, and then look itself for the
thief. A. H. Post, Afrikanische Jurisprudenz, Leipzig, 1887, vol.
i. p. 77.
41 See Prof. M. Kovalevsky's Modern Customs and Ancient Law
(Russian), Moscow, 1886, vol. ii., which contains many important
considerations upon this subject.
42 See Carl Bock, The Head Hunters of Borneo, London, 1881. I am
told, however, by Sir Hugh Law, who was for a long time Governor
of Borneo, that the "head-hunting" described in this book is
grossly exaggerated. Altogether, my informant speaks of the
Dayaks in exactly the same sympathetic terms as Ida Pfeiffer. Let
me add that Mary Kingsley speaks in her book on West Africa in
the same sympathetic terms of the Fans, who had been represented
formerly as the most "terrible cannibals."
43 Ida Pfeiffer, Meine zweite Weltrieze, Wien, 1856, vol. i. pp.
116 seq. See also M?ller and Temminch's Dutch Possessions in
Archipelagic India, quoted by Elis?e Reclus, in G?ographie
Universelle, xiii.
44 Descent of Man, second ed., pp. 63, 64.
45 See Bastian's Mensch in der Geschichte, iii. p. 7. Also Grey,
loc. cit. ii. p. 238.
46 Miklukho-Maclay, loc. cit. Same habit with the Hottentots.