Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 18.djvu/15

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5
POLITICAL INSTITUTIONS—PRELIMINARY.

As having this trait may be named the Santals, of whom Hunter says, "They were the most truthful set of men I ever met"; and, again, the Sowrahs, of whom Shortt says: "A pleasing feature in their character is their complete truthfulness. They do not know how to tell a lie." Notwithstanding their sexual relations of a primitive and low type, even the Todas are described as considering "falsehood one of the worst of vices." Though Metz says that they practice dissimulation toward Europeans, yet he recognizes this as a trait consequent upon their intercourse with Europeans; and this judgment coincides with one given to me by an Indian civil servant concerning other Hill tribes, originally distinguished for their veracity, but who are rendered less veracious by contact with the whites. So rare is lying among these aboriginal races when unvitiated by the "civilized," that, of those in Bengal, Hunter singles out the Tipperahs as "the only Hill tribe in which this vice is met with."

Similarly in respect of honesty, some of those peoples classed as inferior read lessons to those classed as superior. Of the Todas just named, ignorant and degraded as they are in some respects, Harkness says, "I never saw a people, civilized or uncivilized, who seemed to have a more religious respect for the rights of meum and tuum." The Marias (Gonds), "in common with many other wild races, bear a singular character for truthfulness and honesty." Among the Khonds "the denial of a debt is a breach of this principle, which is held to be highly sinful. 'Let a man,' say they, 'give up all he has to his creditors.'" The Santal, who "never thinks of making money by a stranger," prefers to have "no dealings with his guests; but when his guests introduce the subject he deals with them as honestly as he would with his own people. . . he names the true price at first." The Lepchas "are wonderfully honest, theft being scarcely known among them." And the Bodo and Dhimáls are "honest and truthful in deed and word." Colonel Dixon dilates on the "fidelity, truth, and honesty" of the Carnatic aborigines; and they show "an extreme and almost touching devotion when put upon their honor." And Hunter asserts of the Chakmás, that "crime is rare among these primitive people. . . . Theft is almost unknown."

So it is, too, with the general virtues of these and sundry other uncivilized tribes. The Santal "possesses a happy disposition," is "sociable to a fault," "courteous," but "at the same time firm and free from cringing"; and, while the "sexes are greatly devoted to each other's society," the women are "exceedingly chaste." The Bodo and Dhimáls are "full of amiable qualities, and almost entirely free from such as are unamiable." The Lepcha, "cheerful, kind, and patient," is described by Dr. Hooker as a most "attractive companion"; and Dr. Campbell gives "an instance of the effect of a very strong sense of duty on this savage." In like manner, from accounts of certain of the Malayo-Polynesian societies, and certain of the Pap-