Page:Eskimo Life.djvu/158

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116
ESKIMO LIFE

These are laws which have developed through the experience of long ages, and have become established by the habit of many generations.

The Greenlander is, on the whole, like a sympathetic child with respect to the needs of others; his first social law is to help his neighbour. Upon it, and upon their habit of clinging together through good and ill, depends the existence of the little Greenland community. A hard life has taught the Eskimo that however capable he may be, and able as a rule to look after himself, there may come times when without the help of his fellow men he would have to go to the wall; therefore, it is best to help others. 'Therefore, all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them'—this commandment, one of the first and most important of Christianity, Nature itself has instilled into the Greenlander, and he always acts up to it, which can scarcely be affirmed of Christian nations. It is unfortunate that, as he advances in civilisation, this commandment seems to lose its power over him.

Hospitality to strangers is a no less binding law among the Eskimos than helpfulness to neighbours. The traveller enters the first hut he comes to, and remains there as long as convenient. He is kindly received and entertained with what the house can offer, even if he be an enemy. When he proceeds