Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 18.djvu/16

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6
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

uan societies, may be given instances showing in high degrees sundry traits which we ordinarily associate only with a human nature that has been long subject to the discipline of civilized life and the teachings of a superior religion. One of the latest testimonies is that of Signor D'Albertis, who describes certain New Guinea people he visited (near Yule Island) as strictly honest, "very kind," "good and peaceful," and who, after disputes between villages, "are as friendly as before, bearing no animosity"; but of whom the Rev. W. G. Lawes, commenting on Signor D'Albertis's communication to the Colonial Institute, says that their good-will to the whites is being destroyed by the whites' ill-treatment of them: the usual history.

Contrariwise, in various parts of the world, men of several types yield proofs that societies relatively advanced in organization and culture may yet be barbarous in their ideas, sentiments, and usages. The Feejeeans, described by Dr. Pickering as among the most intelligent of unlettered peoples, are among the most ferocious. "Intense and vengeful malignity strongly marks the Feejeean character." Lying, treachery, theft, and murder are with them not criminal, but honorable; infanticide is immense in extent; strangling the sickly habitual; and they sometimes cut up while alive the human victims they are going to eat. Nevertheless they have a "complicated and carefully conducted political system"; well-organized military forces; elaborate fortifications; a developed agriculture with succession of crops and irrigation; a considerable division of labor; a separate distributing agency with incipient currency; and a skilled industry which builds canoes that carry three hundred men. Take again an African society, Dahomey. We find there a finished system of classes, six in number; complex governmental arrangements with officials always in pairs; an army divided into battalions, having reviews and sham-fights; prisons, police, and sumptuary laws; an agriculture which uses manure and grows a score kinds of plants; moated towns, bridges, and roads with turnpikes. Yet along with this comparatively high social development there goes what we may call organized criminality. Wars are made to get skulls with which to decorate the royal palace; hundreds of subjects are killed when the king dies; and five hundred are annually slaughtered to carry messages to the other world. Described as cruel and bloodthirsty, liars and cheats, the people are "void either of sympathy or gratitude, even in their own families," so that "not even the appearance of affection exists between husband and wife, or between parents and children." The New World, too, furnished, when it was discovered, like evidence. Having great cities of one hundred and eighty thousand houses, the Mexicans had also cannibal gods, whose idols were fed on warm, reeking, human flesh, thrust into their mouths—wars being made purposely to supply victims for them; and with skill to build stately temples, big enough for ten thousand men to dance in their courts, there went the immolation of twenty--