Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 11.djvu/272

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258
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

and vermin to be caught, cattle have to be fed, the distribution of pasturage, here in larger, there in smaller oases, will determine the numbers of animals, and consequently of human beings, which can keep together. In the separation of Abraham and Lot we have a traditional illustration.

Thus recognizing the natural origin of the wandering family group, let us ask what are likely to become its traits. We have seen that the regulating system of a society is evolved in the course of conflicts with environing societies. Between pastoral hordes which have become separate, and in course of time alien, there must arise, as between other groups, antagonisms: caused sometimes by appropriation of strayed cattle, sometimes by encroachments upon grazing areas monopolized. But now mark a difference. In a tribe of archaic type, such ascendency as war from time to time gives to a man who is superior in strength, will, or cunning, commonly fails to become a permanent headship, since his power is regarded with jealousy by men who are in other respects his equals. It is otherwise in the pastoral horde. The tendency which war between groups has to evolve a head in each group, here finds a member prepared for the place. Already there is the father, who at the outset was, by right of the strong hand, leader, owner, master, of wife, children, and all he carried with him. In the preceding stage his actions were to some extent under check by other men of the tribe; now they are not. His sons could early become hunters and carry on their lives independently; now they cannot.

Note a second difference. Separation from other men brings into greater clearness the fact that the children are not only the wife's children, but his children; and further, since among its neighbors his group is naturally distinguished by his name, the children spoken of as members of his group are otherwise spoken of as his children. The establishment of male descent is thus facilitated. Simultaneously there is apt to come acknowledged supremacy of the eldest son: the first to give efficient aid to the father, the first to reach manhood, the first likely to marry and have children, he is usually the one on whom the powers of the father devolve as he declines and dies. Thus the average tendency through successive generations will be for the eldest male to become head of the increasing group, alike as family ruler and political ruler the patriarch.

At the same time industrial coöperation is fostered. Savages of the lowest types get roots and berries, shell-fish, vermin, small animals, etc., without joint action. Among those who, having reached the advanced hunting stage, capture large animals, a considerable combination is implied, though of an irregular kind. But on rising to the stage in which flocks and herds have to be daily pastured and guarded, and their products daily utilized, combined actions of many kinds are necessitated; and under the patriarchal rule these become