Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 10.djvu/287

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273
THEORIES OF PRIMITIVE MARRIAGE.

line of his theory I disentangle, as well as I can, from statements that are not altogether consistent.

Scarcity of food led groups of primitive men to destroy female infants; because, "as braves and hunters were required and valued, it would be the interest of every horde to rear, when possible, its healthy male children. It would be less its interest to rear females, as they would be less capable of self-support, and of contributing, by their exertions, to the common good" (p. 165).

Mr. McLennan next alleges that "the practice in early times of female infanticide," "rendering women scarce, led at once to polyandry within the tribe, and the capturing of women from without" (p. 138).

Joined with a restatement of the causes we come upon an inferred result, as follows: "The scarcity of women within the group led to a practice of stealing the women of other groups, and in time it came to be considered improper, because it was unusual, for a man to marry a woman of his own group" (p. 289). Or, as he says on p. 140, "usage, induced by necessity, would in time establish a prejudice among the tribes observing it (exogamy)—a prejudice, strong as a principle of religion, as every prejudice relating to marriage is apt to be against marrying women of their own stock."

To this habitual stealing of wives, and restealing of them, as among the Australians (p. 16), he ascribes that doubtful paternity which led to the recognition of kinship through females only. Though elsewhere admitting a more general cause for this primitive form of kinship (p. 159), he regards wife-stealing as its most certain cause, saying that "it must have prevailed wherever exogamy prevailed—exogamy and the consequent practice of capturing wives. Certainty as to fathers is impossible where mothers are stolen from their first lords, and liable to be restolen before the birth of children." (p. 226).

Assuming the tribes which thus grew into the practice of wife-stealing to have been originally homogeneous in blood, or at least to have supposed themselves so, Mr. McLennan argues that the introduction of wives who were foreigners in blood, joined with the rise of the first definite conception of relationship (that between mother and child) and consequent system of kinship exclusively in the female line, led to recognized heterogeneity within the tribe: there came to exist, within the tribe, children regarded as belonging by blood to the tribes of their mothers. Hence arose another form of exogamy. The primitive requirement that a wife should be stolen from another tribe, naturally became confounded with the requirement that a wife should be of the blood of another tribe; and hence girls born within the tribe, from mothers belonging to other tribes, became eligible as wives. The original exogamy, carried out only by robbing other tribes of their women, gave place, in part, or wholly, to the modified