Popular Science Monthly/Volume 45/July 1894/Savagery and Survivals

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SAVAGERY AND SURVIVALS.

By J. WILLIAM BLACK, Ph. D.,

ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF POLITICAL ECONOMY IN OBERLIN COLLEGE.

MR. EDWARD A. FREEMAN, the eminent English historian, has given us a short and popular definition of history in the phrase, "History is past politics." While it is true that history includes past politics, and that the political events of to-day become the history of to-morrow, we must acknowledge that the province of history is more extensive than is indicated in this pithy phrase if we are ready to admit, as it seems we should, that the highest end of history is ethical and social, and not merely political.

We can not say that history is limited for its materials to written records; nor do we agree with Morrison,[1] who says that history is simply literature, and begins with the historical books of the Old Testament.

We really commence our study of history with the first traces of man's presence upon this earth. His bones are to us not only of physiological but of historical importance. His tools, implements, ornaments, and relics are historical records.

Formerly history was altogether written on the artistic plan. We find that many of the most prominent Greek and Roman writers continually sacrificed the truth to literary finish. Since the middle of this century our conception of history has greatly changed. We regard history as a science, and employ scientific methods in our treatment of historical data. Herodotus's conception of history comes to us again in a new light — "ἱστορία," meaning a learning by investigation.

The study of history conveys to us a knowledge of the intimate connection existing between the past and the present. Much of our material for historical investigation we find not in the past, but in living and present things. Archæology will demonstrate this to us. Thanks to the recent discoveries and excavations of the archæologists of the Capitoline Hill, the history of Rome has been entirely rewritten since the French Revolution. How much new light the study of institutions in the primitive times and among the peoples of to-day, whose development has not kept pace with our own, throws upon the origin of the state and of many of our own social institutions!

History brings to us a knowledge of the past to aid us in the settlement of present problems; and so Droysen's ideal comes to us as the highest and best conception of history. "History," he says, "is the self-knowledge of humanity; it is the potential knowledge of the present with reference to its development from the past."[2] Thus, history is not politics, not simply the science of government, and a story of revolutions and conquest, nor simply literature; but is more. It is something which includes the history of culture, of law and custom, the development of the family, justice, the social life as well as the political life. It is an unfolding panorama of the self-conscious development of humanity.

History has become more and more sociological in its character, and perhaps this has caused much of the confusion which surrounds the definition of the comparatively new term "sociology." Auguste Comte and Herbert Spencer have shown a disposition to appropriate this scientific conception of history and call it "sociology," giving history a subordinate place under the latter. What the true position of sociology will be in the hierarchy of sciences time alone can settle. Perhaps we shall ultimately call history in the scientific sense "sociology," putting it, as Comte and Spencer do, at the head of all the sciences, or perhaps we may make of it a philosophy of society, dealing with universal laws and universal types, for which history, its chief adjunct, will furnish the data; or we may regard sociology in a way similar to the popular conception of it at present, as the science which deals with social problems.

It is, however, institutional history or historical sociology that is so attracting the attention of scholars at the present time. There is no study, perhaps, so attractive as the study of primitive society, the habits and customs of savage life, the development of culture and of moral and religious ideas; while its chief profit lies in the solution and understanding of our own progress and development in a continuous line from the historic past. If we would understand the development of our modern state, we must study the beginnings of family life and government, the evolution of the state from the family. To deal intelligently with the divorce problem in modern society, one must study the origin and early history of marriage, and approach the solution of the problem from the historical point of view.


In many of our ceremonial institutions, our fashions, habits, dress, ornamentation, opinions, notions of marriage, property, and law we are but the slaves of the customs and traditions of the past. It may be of interest to look at some of these habits and customs of savage life. We might ask the question, "How is the course of civilization traced?" One means is through the aid of survivals. And what do we mean by "survivals?" "Those opinions, customs, and peculiar notions of ours which require an explanation for their presence and which represent an older period of culture."[3] The Hindu, for example, continues to use the primitive fire-drill for kindling the sacred fires, although the lucifer match is used for all other purposes. Catlin noticed a similar custom among many Indian tribes of North America. The ancient Eygptians continued the use of the stone knife in the religious rite of circumcision long after the introduction of the metals. The institution of marriage to-day offers us illustrations of ceremonies which seem a necessary part of the institution; and yet, if we were asked for rational explanations of them, we should be at a loss to explain, were we not able to appeal to the evidence of history and call them survivals.

How can we explain the wedding cake, the bridal tour, the storm of rice and old shoes accompanying the departure of the happy couple, without an appeal to the customs of the past? The coyness of the maiden to-day is fully equaled by that of the savage maiden. It is customary with the latter to manifest opposition to entering the paths of matrimony, though that opposition in some cases is merely feigned. This probably originated—as most writers agree—among nations who were in the habit of capturing their wives from hostile tribes, but it has lingered as a conventional observance in cases where the change of state is not distasteful. Marriage by capture is not uncommon, and prevails among some of the Hindu tribes, Circassians, and the primitive races of Australia, New Zealand, and America; and survivals of this custom to-day would seem to indicate traces of this institution among the early Aryan and Semitic races. The rape of the Sabines affords a good illustration of this custom among the early Romans.

The primitive form of marriage by capture, however, gave way later to the ceremony of marriage by purchase, a price being paid by the groom to the parents of his bride, and the marriage contract being settled generally without the latter's consent. In this second stage, where the bride was secured by a more peaceful method, the violence accompanying the former mode of securing a wife still lingered in the form of a survival. In turn, the custom of purchasing a bride passed from the stage of reality to the ceremonial stage. Among the New-Zealanders a bride is only secured after a prolonged struggle between the friends of the groom and the friends of the bride. Among certain tribes of India the groom is obliged to overcome a strong man who is appointed to defend the bride. A curious parallel to this is noted among the Eskimos. The youthful candidate to matrimony is only qualified to marry after he has succeeded in killing a polar bear without assistance. This is taken as an evidence of his ability to provide for the wants of the household. In Turkey a prominent part of the ceremony is the chasing of the bridegroom by the guests, who strike him and hurl their slippers at him. And what adds zest to the occasion is the fact that these onslaughts are usually led by the females who were disappointed at the loss of a former lover. Another survival of marriage by capture is discovered among the Ceylonese, where it is common at royal marriages for the king and queen to throw perfumed balls and squirt scented water at each other.

As stated above, even in the latter stage of marriage by purchase, where the marriage contract is settled on a friendly basis, the symbol of capture is still maintained. For example, after the purchase price is agreed upon, the girl is given the privilege of running for her independence. This is known as "bride-racing," and takes various forms. In one instance, the girl is mounted on a swift horse; she is given a good start, and then pursued by her lover similarly mounted. If he overtakes her, she becomes his bride. If not, the marriage is declared off. As a rule, however, after a little exciting sport, the girl allows herself to be overtaken.

Among other tribes, we find the symbol of capture perpetuated in the foot race, or water chase in canoes; or the race may be run through a series of tents, as observed by Mr. Kennan in Siberia. In this case all sorts of obstructions are placed in the way of the groom by the friends of the bride, and if he be successful in running the gantlet and jumping the improvised hurdles in time to catch the girl he becomes a Benedict. It is also a custom for the "fair one," if she be more fleet-footed than her lover, to wait kindly in the last tent until he joins her.

Thus it is general among uncivilized peoples to accompany the wedding ceremony with violence of some sort. Kicking and screaming on the part of the bride are considered an evidence of modest; and the stouter her resistance and the more violent her convulsions, the greater is she appreciated ever after by her husband and her own friends. It is said even to-day that the young girl hardest to woo is best appreciated by her lover.

Marriage among the Greeks and Romans consisted of three acts: First, the quitting of the paternal hearth; second, the conducting of the young girl to the house of her husband, accompanied by relatives and friends and preceded by the nuptial torch. Then the act of violence survives in the following, the third part of the ceremony; for at this point it was the duty of the groom to seize the bride and carry her into his house without allowing her feet to touch the sill. Around the domestic hearth the band and wife now gather, offer sacrifices, say prayers, and eat of the sacred wheaten cake. This last performance, which still survives in our wedding-cake of today, was of great importance, as it cemented and sanctified the union of the two, who were now associated together in the same domestic circle and the same worship.

The wedding feast is of ancient origin, and probably originated, as Westermarck points out, in the purchase stage, where the feast was regarded as a part of the purchase price paid by the groom; or, in cases where the expenses were met by the parents of the bride, as part compensation for the sum of money paid for the bride. The custom of giving presents to the bride is also interesting in its origin. In all probability it also came from the purchase sum paid by the groom to the family of his bride, this purchase sum degenerating into a mere present, more or less arbitrary, which in some cases was returned to the giver; in others, given to the bride. In Athens, during an early period, the dower was known, for the bride was frequently provided with a marriage portion by her father or guardian. This led to the giving of presents by the bridegroom to his wife. It was a common observance for gifts to be exchanged between the bride and groom or their guardians, and numerous instances of this are recorded. It is a part of the ceremony in China and Japan; and Tacitus relates a similar custom among the Germans. Thus the custom of giving the bride a good start in life with the aid of presents is not new; while the bridal tour, and the practice of throwing rice and old shoes after the departing bride and groom, are symbols of the violence that formerly accompanied the marriage ceremony. Even more dangerous weapons were used within recent times, for it is related to have been a custom among the Irish to cast darts at the bridal party. On one occasion, however, a certain Lord Hoath lost an eye by the foolish practice, and since that time it has become obsolete, less harmful weapons having been substituted. The "best man" of to-day was formerly the chief lieutenant of the groom in the act of capturing his bride, while we find the wedding ring in use among the ancient Hindus. Among the Ceylonese the latter takes a curious form, for "the bride ties a thin cord of her own twisting round the bridegroom's waist, and they are then husband and wife."[4] This he wears through life as an emblem of the union. The ceremony would indicate that among these people the woman is "the boss." This, however, is contrary to the usual custom which we find among many other tribes, for the boxing of the bride's ears by her husband to indicate that he is master is an important part of some ceremonies, while it is said that in ancient Russia the father, taking a new whip, would strike his daughter gently, and then hand it over to the groom, indicating thereby that a change of master had taken place.

The blood-feud or revenge offers a field of similar interest to a student of legal and institutional history. Formerly, before the age of judges, state prisons, and reformatory institutions, it was the custom for an individual to take the law into his own hands. "Self-help," says Farrer, "is for individuals the first rule of existence. But generally this deficiency in the legal protection of life and property is made up for by a principle which lies at the root of savage law the principle, that is, of collective responsibility, of including in the guilt of an individual all his blood relations jointly or singly."[5] One can see upon reflection why the avenging of murders or wrongs committed should be regarded as a family or tribal rather than a personal affair, on account of the powerful influence it must have in repelling crime and keeping the public peace. A good illustration of blood vengeance we have among the native Australians today, where it is regarded as one's holiest duty to avenge the death of his nearest relation. The force of public opinion compels the man to do his duty by his relative. It is the custom among a certain Brazilian tribe for the "murderer of a fellow-tribesman to be conducted by his relatives to those of the deceased, to be by them forthwith strangled and buried, in satisfaction of their rights; the two families eating together for several days after the event as though for the purpose of reconciliation." But the affair is not always so happily and permanently healed, for if the guilty one escape the avenger slays his nearest relative. Consequently, it was a matter of the greatest importance that the punishment should be visited upon the real culprit, and frequently both families united in hunting down the murderer. But more often, where the innocent received the punishment due the guilty, hereditary feuds sprang up between the tribes, and tribal warfare resulted.

The right of revenge was a recognized principle of the Jewish law, as seen in the following quotation from Exodus: "And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe."[6] It was likewise a right recognized by the law and custom of the Germans. In time the right of revenge gave way and certain modifications of the old institution were made to relieve its severity. This was probably due, as Tylor suggests, to the increase of population and the growth of town life. Among the Jews the right of revenge was suspended on certain festival days, and cities of refuge were established, whither the criminal might flee and be safe; or, as in Western Australia, "crimes might be compounded by the criminal committing himself to the ordeal of having spears thrown at him by all such persons as conceive themselves to have been aggrieved," care being taken, however, to limit the punishment in such a way that the prisoner might escape without mortal wounds. But the law in the interest of peace and progress soon fixed upon a composition for the crime, known as "wergild, or man-money." Such was the practice of our Anglo-Saxon forefathers less than a thousand years ago, when the wergild, or fine, of which our judicial fines are a survival, was regarded a fitting substitute for personal vengeance. The survival of the law of retaliation, as expressed in the passage from Exodus, is seen in the composition provided for each part of the body. The teeth, hair, nails, and other parts had their peculiar value, the hair being especially prized. For instance, the loss of the beard was estimated at twenty shillings, while a broken thigh was worth only twelve. The loss of a front tooth was reckoned at six shillings and a fractured rib at three. The composition for a freeman was two hundred shillings, or half price for the loss of a foot or hand, five shillings for the little-finger nail, and so on. There is one point, however, that deserves notice in this connection. The value of a man varied according to his rank, the royal thegn or lord being rated as high as twelve hundred shillings. While impartiality with regard to rank or wealth is the rule of justice in all civilized communities to-day, yet in many instances it seems as difficult for our courts and juries to overlook these factors as it was in Anglo-Saxon law, and the big embezzler stands an infinitely greater chance of escaping punishment befitting the crime than the petty thief.

Our criminal law grew out of the old private vengeance, but in accordance with modern ideas the state, representing the community, has become the avenger. While the older method of family responsibility went a long way toward securing orderly government, it has given way to the better plan of holding the individual responsible, though the traces of the former still linger on in the ignominy which seems even in these days to attach to the relatives of a criminal.

When we speak of the vengeance of the law, the old idea that the law is being avenged by the punishment of the criminal is revived; but the prevailing idea in dealing with the criminal classes is that punishment is exacted for the benefit of society and for the repression of crime. The public prosecutor stands in the place of the avenger, and witnesses may be compelled by the state to appear in the interest of the public peace. The blood-feud, or vendetta, still lingers as a survival almost in our very midst, in the mountain regions of our South. It is not an uncommon thing to read in our papers of the perpetration of some atrocious crime as the result of a long-standing feud between the Hatfields and the McCoys, the Frenchs and Eversoles, or the Jarvises and the Kendalls. And it is surprising that often when the law once gets its grip upon these modern savages it does not repress them by a wholesome administration of justice. As a matter of fact, it is difficult to secure a conviction or anything more than a very light sentence for a willful aggressor in our Southern vendetta.

The international prize fight is a degenerate suggestion of the old tribal champion, who was appointed to defend his country in single combat against the representative of a hostile nation. Of this primitive institution, the familiar stories of David and Goliath, and the Horatii and the Curatii, are good illustrations. Passing now to a different branch of our subject, let us glance at a few peculiarities of savage life with regard to dress, ornamentation, and bodily disfigurements. On these subjects Prof. Frederick Starr's recent articles[7] in The Popular Science Monthly will be found full of interesting and suggestive facts.

It is a matter of uncertainty how dress has developed until it has reached its present form among civilized peoples. While it is probable that the desire for ornamentation, which is usually the first thought in the savage mind, led to its adoption and development, protection and modesty also contributed; for, as Tylor says, it was a custom among the Andaman-Islanders to plaster themselves with a mixture of lard and clay as a shield against the heat and mosquitoes. Among the rudest races, and even in the warm climates, we find clothing worn, or, as a fitting substitute the body is painted, tattooed, or plastered, as described.

It was an early custom to wear a girdle about the waist, and from this suspend skins, feathers, and other ornaments. In time this led to the wearing of a loose robe for the covering of the body, which is known as the southern type of dress, so common in the Orient, notably in China, Japan, as well as in ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome; while in the north, where the climate demanded the greater protection of the body, the close-fitting garment, including jacket and trousers, at first made of skins, became the prevailing costume. The Eskimos, for instance, have long worn this type of dress. Skins and furs made the most durable garments, and as a covering for our feet we have yet to find something to supplant this inheritance of savage times. In the absence of skins, the leaves of the forest were used for costuming, and one is often reminded of this savage custom in the diversions of the rural picnic party, when the leaves of the forest are woven into primitive garlands and aprons. In Brazilian forests Nature is especially kind to the savage, for upon the "shirt tree" is grown the ready-made garment. All the native has to do is to remove the bark of the tree, cut slits in it for armholes, soak and soften the bark, and then place it upon his body. The plaiting of mats for clothing, followed by the invention of the loom, and the weaving of cloth are interesting processes connected with the development of dress.

In contrasting the close-fitting garment of the northern type with the loose-fitting or blanket type of garment in the South, Prof. Starr is led to make the suggestion that this accounts for the two prevailing types of dress which exist in civilized society to-day. One of the great conservative elements in society is woman, who stands as a useful brake upon rash and too impetuous change. "The northern and southern types of dress once came in conflict. The time was that of the invasions of the northern barbarians upon imperial Rome. Both men and women, in the ancient days of Rome, wore the southern dress. The barbarians wore the tighter-fitting garments of their colder climate. The southern man adopted the more convenient type, the woman did not; and so we see to-day our men in jackets with tight sleeves and close-fitting trousers, while women continue to wear in a modified form the dress of the sunny South flowing garments, skirts and cloaks."[8]

We are reminded of this southern type of dress in the spotless robes and vestments of the priest and chorister; and it is not difficult to see in the cap-and-gown fad, which has recently attacked our colleges with the vigor of a prairie fire, a survival of this classic type of dress.

A curious costume is that of the medicine man, the most unique and important individual among savage races. His object is to terrorize his patient by his grotesque costume, his weird movements and incantations, and to kill or cure as the case may be. Catlin gives a picture of one and describes his movements. His body and head were covered with the skin of a yellow bear, the head serving as a mask, a rare and conspicuous thing to begin with. "The huge claws dangled upon his wrists and ankles. In his right hand he shook a frightful rattle, in the other he brandished his medicine spear or magic wand."[9] The medicine man ordinarily administers to his patient roots and herbs, and if these fail, then as a last rite lie arrays himself in his strange dress and goes through his hocus-pocus over the dying man, with the expectation that his mysterious and magical skill may be invoked at this point to save the patient. In case of an adverse result, however, he easily maintains his self-respect in the community by the explanation that "it was the will of the Good Spirit." An illustration of savage logic is also interesting in this connection, for the medicine man argues by analogy that extraordinary cases demand extraordinary remedies. Dorman relates an incident which seems to substantiate this. "An Indian warrior was brought to camp after a most disastrous encounter with a grizzly bear. The doctor compounded a medicine that ought really to have worked wonders. It was made by boiling together a collection of miscellaneous weeds, a handful of chewing tobacco, the heads of four rattlesnakes, and a select assortment of worn-out moccasins. The decoction thus obtained was seasoned with a little crude petroleum and a larger quantity of red pepper, and the patient was directed to take a pint of the mixture every half hour. He was a brave man, conspicuous for his fortitude under suffering, but after taking his first dose he turned over and died with the utmost expedition."

Savages are very fond of ornaments, and in some respects we resemble them—with this difference, that in savage life it is the men who are the most highly decorated. The incentive of personal adornment was, as it is now, due to the desire to make one's self prominent or conspicuous in the eyes of others. As proud as the schoolboy is of his medal received as a reward of merit, so is the savage of his trophies, which he wears as a mark of his prowess in battle, or in an encounter with some wild beast. Necklaces, bracelets, and earrings made of these trophies were among the earliest ornaments worn. Teeth, claws, shells, pearls, ivory, bone, hair, and feathers were commonly used, while the brass plates for keyholes, sardine boxes, and other metallic objects are said to be especially prized. On the arms circular rings of ivory, iron, or copper were worn, and the savage delights to load himself to the extent of physical endurance with these heavy and useless appendages. Schweinfurth, the African explorer, thus describes the ornaments of the Dinka, a Central African tribe: "The wives of some of the wealthy are often laden with iron to such a degree that, without exaggeration, I may affirm that I have seen several carrying about with them close upon half a hundred weight of these savage ornaments. The heavy rings with which the women load their wrists and ankles clank and resound like the fetters of slaves. . . . The favorite ornaments of the men are massive ivory rings, which they wear round the upper part of the arm; the rich adorn themselves from elbows to wrists with a whole series of rings, close together so as to touch."[10] It is said that an African princess, who had her arm covered from wrist to shoulder with these curious bracelets, suffered so much from the heat of the sun playing upon these rings, that she was obliged to hire a maid, whose duty it was to attend her constantly and cool them from a watering pot.

Thus the different parts of the body—the neck, arms, and ankles—which Nature has so abundantly provided for the carrying of ornaments are utilized; and, what is still more curious, the savage, not satisfied with this, cuts holes in himself for the purpose of carrying others. The most frequent mutilations are those of the lip, cheek, nose, and ear. Some curious illustrations of this custom are related by Schweinfurth. The upper lip is pierced, and there is inserted a round-headed copper nail or a copper plate. Among the Bongos, the women suffer a hideous mutilation for the purpose of extending the lower lip. A hole is bored in it, and in this a wooden plug is fitted, which is gradually enlarged until the lip is five or six times its original size. In this way, by wearing these plugs, which are an inch in thickness, the lower lip remains extended beyond the upper, though the latter is similarly pierced and fitted with a smaller copper plate or nail or bit of straw. The lips are similarly extended sometimes by the insertion of circular plates of quartz, ivory, or horn the size of a half-dollar. These cause the lips to rest in a horizontal position, and when the wearer is in a fit of anger have their advantages, for these cymbal-like attachments on the lips add noise and effect to the chattering of the individual. It is likely that the wooden or quartz plug which is so often inserted in the lower lip was suggested by the horn of the rhinoceros. Not content with labial adornment, they attack the nose in the same manner, small bits of straw being fitted into each side of the nostrils. Occasionally the cartilage between the nostrils is pierced, and a wooden plug or copper ring is worn. This is a common sight among Indian tribes. The ear is often pierced in many places, sufficient to carry a half dozen rings. The slitting and the stretching of the ear is also a common practice. Mr. Catlin gives a picture of a chief in a Delaware tribe, "Lay-law-she-kaw"—i. e, "He who goes up the river"—who had his ears slit and elongated to the shoulders, through the wearing of heavy weights in them at times. When on parade, he made use of them as quivers, carrying in that way a bunch of quills or arrows for the sake of ornament. Other savages use them for the carrying of snuffboxes or knives; and I have known a Chinaman in these days to make use of his ear as a pocketbook, in which he carried his car fare until called for by the conductor. Just as the dress or bodily ornaments characterize the tribe, so does the peculiar style of disfigurement serve as a tribal mark as well as a decoration. Some file the teeth in fantastic shapes; others bore and stud them with brass nails. Among some African tribes it is the custom to break off the lower jaw teeth. Sometimes they are filed to a point for the purpose of griping the arm of an adversary in wrestling or in single combat.

In tribal or family distinctions they do not stop here, for body-painting, tattooing, gashing the face and body were used for the purpose, while the savage can give the moderns many valuable points on dressing the hair. "The ancient Egyptian woman had blue hair, green eyelashes, painted teeth, and reddened cheeks, while the modern Egyptian follows similar fashions, prolonging the eyes by means of a drug, staining the nails brown, and painting blue stars on the chin and forehead." One does not have to go far in our own land to find a physiognomy as artificial in its makeup as that of the savage or Egyptian; while the painted face of the savage and the Indian is still kept before us in a more grotesque and ludicrous form in the curiously painted face of the circus clown.

Tattooing is a mode of ornamentation adopted by a great number of savage tribes, but with the development of dress, skin decorations cease, and as we get higher up in civilization but few remains of these savage customs are found. Our sailors, however, have shown a considerable degree of conservatism in preserving this custom.

Gashing is one of the most curious of all practices. "In South Africa, the Nyambanas," says Lubbock, "are characterized by a row of pimples or warts, about the size of a pea, and extending from the upper part of the forehead to the top of the the nose. . . . The tribal mark of the Bunns (Africa) consists of three slashes from the crown of the head down the face toward the mouth; the ridges of flesh stand out in bold relief. This painful operation is performed by cutting the skin and taking out a strip of flesh; palm oil and wood ashes are then rubbed into the wound, thus causing a thick ridge upon healing. . . .The Eskimos from Mackenzie River make two openings in their cheeks, one on each side, which they gradually enlarge, and in which they wear an ornament of straw resembling in form a large stud, and which may therefore be called a cheek stud."[11]

I am told that now some young women occasionally submit to a rather painful surgical operation for the removal of a piece of flesh from the chin or cheek, the result being, upon the healing of the wound, the appearance of a coquettish dimple.

With the progress of civilization, the tendency is to dispense to a greater or less degree with the various forms of bodily ornamentation, and the most painful operations for the adornment of the person are given up first. The piercing of the ear, however, is still common, and continues to remind us of the customs of savages, but perhaps the day is not far distant when the earring, the bracelet, the superabundant finger-ring, the costly diamond necklace, and other reminders of savage life and social inequality may give way before the spirit of democracy which is coming to prevail more and more in our social as well as political life. And yet we must not underrate the importance that these facts from savage life have played in the world's progress. The dude, as Prof. Starr reminds us, occupies an important place in the history of culture, for personal vanity and the desire to emphasize one's individuality have done much toward the development of our aesthetic senses, and as well for the arts and sciences, and for the cultivation and satisfaction of wants outside of the mere primitive needs of food and clothing.

One might go on multiplying by the hundreds illustrations of the peculiarities of savage life, and suggesting interesting and curious survivals, but the scope of a single short article would not i^ermit the mention of a great variety of topics that properly come within the field of primitive institutions and survivals. Volumes of interesting facts have already been gathered upon this vast and comparatively new department of study, and any one who enters upon it will increase his respect for the advantages which modern civilization has brought to us. If we examine, from the historical point of view, language, customs, mythology, mathematics, jurisprudence, property, folklore, morals, religious beliefs and superstitions, we shall find "savage opinion in a more or less rudimentary state, of which civilized man still bears the traces, and over which state he represents the greatest advance." We hear of the "freedom of the savage," but we need to remember that he is utterly dependent upon Nature for his support and is a slave to his own passions. It is estimated that it requires fifty thousand acres, or seventy-eight square miles, for the support of one man in the primitive hunting and fishing stage; consequently, as their numbers increase they are driven to cannibalism in self-defense. But with the progress of civilization, man increases his dominion over Nature, and, as a rule, we find the most highly civilized countries those where the population is densest and production greatest.

Our great World's Fair presented us with a magnificent object lesson of man's power over Nature. The marvelous rapidity of our progress within recent years, the numerous discoveries and inventions for shortening time and space, increasing production, combating disease, etc., seem almost to indicate that we are scarcely more than upon the very threshold of civilization. To quote a short sentence from Tylor, "The unconscious evolution of society is giving place to its conscious development, and the reformer's path of the future must be laid out on deliberate calculation from the track of the past."[12] If this be our understanding of scientific history, then we accept the conception of history with which we started that is, we agree that "history is the self-conscious development of society."


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  1. Encyclopædia Britannica, article History, by J. C. Morrison.
  2. Droysen's Principles of History.
  3. Tylor's Primitive Culture, vol. i, chap. iii.
  4. Westermarck's The History of Human Marriage, p. 420.
  5. Farrer's Primitive Manners and Customs, p. 163.
  6. Exodus, xxi, 23-25.
  7. Popular Science Monthly, August, October, November, December, 1891. Articles on Dress and Adornment.
  8. Popular Science Monthly, October, 1891, p. 800.
  9. Smithsonian Report, 1885, Part II, pp. 417-419.
  10. Schweinfurth's The Heart of Africa, vol. i, p. 153.
  11. Lubbock's Origin of Civilization, chap, ii, p. 59.
  12. Contemporary Review (article on Primitive Society), vol. xxii, p. 72.