Page:Eskimo Life.djvu/213

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171
MORALS

multiply seems to be of greater weight. The reason may partly be that his race is by nature unprolific.

Like many other peoples, the Eskimos found it strange that we should not regard polygamy with warm approval. Among them, a man was held in esteem in proportion to the number of wives he possessed, and they therefore thought the Old Testament patriarchs more reasonable than we. This, however, is a view which we find prevailing among our own forefathers, until well on in historical times.

When Paul Egede was remonstrating with the Greenlanders one day upon their polygamous proclivities, one of them fell to eulogising his own wife for her 'good humour in never being angry because he loved strange women.' Egede said that 'women in our country could not endure that their husbands should care for others; they would turn them out of their houses.' 'It is no praise to your women,' replied the Eskimo, 'that they want to have their husbands all to themselves and to be masters over them; we hold that a fault.'

Their way of thinking in these matters is less ideal and more practical than ours, and their point of view entirely different. Their habit of exchanging wives, for example, and their treatment of barren women, seems to us wanton and immoral; but when we remember that the production of offspring is the