Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 9, 1898.djvu/278
clan which does not answer to this definition, and is not exoga- mous, and that all societies have themselves passed through this organisation, or are sprung from others which have. Since incest consists in a sexual union between relatives of a prohibited degree, it follows that exogamy is a prohibition of incest. But exogamy alone will not prevent the union of persons who are in fact near akin. In Australia this is effected by the combination of the class-system with the clan-system. Contrary to Morgan, M. Durk- heim argues that the rise of the class-system is subsequent to the development of the clan. He assumes that each clan had its territory, and contends that the class name really indicates in one word the clan of the person and the territory where he was born, that is to say, his paternity. It is difficult to explain the details without occupying more space than is at our disposal. It must suffice to say that the theory is an ingenious one, and if correct it solves a formidable difficulty. At the same time, it seems to raise others which require careful consideration. The author declares that the clan is uterine, but that there is no evidence (if we under- stand him aright) of any other family arrangement than that which subsists generally at present, namely, that the wife and children dwell with the husband (not he with them) and are under his power. But if so, then there could be no clan-terri- tory \ and, in fact, M. Durkheim's hypothesis as to the rise of the class-system is hardly conceivable, or at all events hardly pro- bable, except as the concomitant of a change from a condition where the husband visited, or dwelt with, his wife among her kin, to the present arrangement, whereby he takes her to dwell with him.
So far, however, we are not brought face to face with any explanation of exogamy as a rule, nor of the horror which the idea of incest inspires in all communities. But the way has been cleared. After an excellent criticism of rival theories, the author points out that exogamy is simply a particular instance of a reli- gious institution found at the base of all primitive religions (and, indeed, in a sense, of all religions), the taboo. He points out that women are, in savage opinion, invested with a special reli- gious character which holds the masculine population at a dis- tance, not merely in what concerns sexual matters, but in all the details of life. This interdiction is of course emphasised at certain periods ; and M. Durkheim connects it with the horror