Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 14.djvu/39

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29
EVOLUTION OF CEREMONIAL GOVERNMENT.

our most familiar titles we have this genesis implied. "Esquire" and "Mister" are derived the one from the name of a knight's attendant and the other from the name magister—originally a ruler or chief, who was a military head by origin and a civil head by development.

As in other cases, comparisons of societies of different types disclose this relation in another way. Remarking that in sanguinary and despotic Dahomey the personal name "can hardly be said to exist; it changes with every rank of the holder," Burton says: "The dignities seem to be interminable; except among the slaves and the canaille, 'handles' are the rule, not the exception, and most of them are hereditary." So, too, under Oriental despotisms. "The name of every Burman," says Yule, "disappears when he gets a title of rank or office, and is heard no more;" and in China "there are twelve orders of nobility, conferred solely on the members of the imperial house or clan," besides "the five ancient orders of nobility." In Europe it is the same. Travelers in both Russia and Germany, with their social organizations subordinated to the purposes of war, comment on the "insane rage for titles of every description:" the results being that in Russia "a police-office clerk belongs to the eighteenth grade, and has the right to the title of Your Honor;" while in Germany the names of ranks and names of office, so abundantly distributed, are habitually expected and studiously given, in both speech and writing. Meanwhile England, for ages past less militant in type of structure, has ever shown this trait in a smaller degree; and along with the recent growth of industrialism and accompanying changes of organization, the use of titles in social intercourse has greatly decreased.

With equal clearness is this connection shown within each society. Names of honor pertain to members of that regulative organization which militancy originates. By the thirteen grades in our army and the fourteen grades in our navy, we are shown that the exclusively militant structures still continue to be characterized in the highest degree by numerous and specific titular marks. To the ruling classes, descendants or representatives of those who in past times were heads of military forces, the higher distinctions of rank still mostly belong; and of remaining higher titles, the ecclesiastical and legal are also associated with the regulative organization. Meanwhile the producing and exchanging parts of the society, carrying on industrial activities, only in exceptional cases bear any titles beyond those which, descending and spreading, have almost lost their meanings.

It is indisputable, then, that, serving first to commemorate the triumphs of savages over their foes, titles have expanded, multiplied, and differentiated, as conquest has formed larger societies by consolidation and reconsolidation of small ones; and that, belonging to the type of social structure generated by habitual war, they tend to lose their meanings, their uses, and their values, in proportion as this structure is replaced by one fitted for carrying on the pursuits of peace.