Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 13.djvu/50

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

traffic." And other statements suggest that, when exchange begins, there is little idea of equivalence between the things given and received. Speaking of the Ostiaks, who supplied them "with plenty of fish and wild-fowl," Bell says, "Give them only a little tobacco and a dram of brandy, and they ask no more, not knowing the use of money." Remembering that at first no means of measuring values exists, and that the conception of equality of value has to grow by use, it seems not impossible that mutual propitiation by gifts was the act from which barter arose; the expectation that the present received would be of like worth with that given being gradually established, and the exchanged articles simultaneously losing the character of presents. One may, indeed, see the intimate connection between the two in the familiar cases, instanced at the outset, of presents from European travelers to native chiefs; as where Mungo Park writes, "Presented Mansa Kussan [the chief man of Julifunda] with some amber, coral, and scarlet, with which he appeared to be perfectly satisfied, and sent a bullock in return." Such transactions show us both the original meaning of the initial present as propitiatory, and the idea that the responsive present should have an approximately-like value, implying informal barter.

Leaving this speculation, however, we have here to note the way in which the propitiatory present becomes a social observance. Like every other kind of ceremony which begins as an effort to gain the good-will of some feared being, visible or invisible, gift-making descends through successive stages, until it becomes an act of civility between those who, while not actually subordinate one to the other, please one another by simulating subordination. That along with the original form of it, signifying allegiance to a chief or king, there goes the spread of it as a means of insuring the friendship of powerful persons in general, we see in ancient Peru, where, as already said, "no one approached Atahuallpa without bringing a present in token of submission," and where also "the Indians. . . never thought of approaching a superior without bringing a present." And then in Yucatan the usage extended to equals. "At their visits the Indians always carry with them presents to be given away, according to their position; those visited respond by another gift." In Japan, so rigorously ceremonious, the stages of the descent are well shown: there are the periodic presents to the mikado, expressive of loyalty; there is the fact named by Mitford that "the giving of presents from inferiors to superiors is a common custom;" and there is the further fact he names that "it is customary on the occasion of a first visit to a house to carry a present to the owner, who gives something of equal value on returning the visit." Among other peoples we see this mutual propitiation between equals taking other forms. Markham, writing of Himalayan people, states that exchanging caps is "as certain a mark of friendship in the hills as two chiefs in the plains exchanging turbans." And, referring more especially to the Iroquois, Morgan says, "Indian nations, after treating,