Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 16, 1905.djvu/121

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99
Correspondence.

Group Marriage.

(Vol. XV., pp. 466, 472.)

Probably other readers of Folk-Lore beside myself, have observed in Mr. Hartland's review of Spencer and Gillen the phrase, "group marriage can hardly arise . . . under father-right." Now, if by father-right no more is meant than the tracing of kinship—totemic, class, or phratriac bonds—through the father, it is hardly clear why it is inconsistent with father-right; for (a) if one husband takes precedence there is no reason why the child should not follow him; and (b) if the woman is allied to a group of brothers with equal rights, there is no question as to the totemic designation of the child. Only, therefore, if Mr. Hartland understands by "group marriage"—an ill-defined and variously used term—something other than the forms I have mentioned, does his argument hold good.

The point, however, on which I wish to understand his view is the origin of group marriage. The phrase I have quoted suggests that it arose out of monogamous relations—a view very different from that of Spencer and Gillen or Howitt. Group marriage on this view is simply a bye-path, teratological, not embryological. But if this statement of his view is correct, Mr. Hartland can clearly not endorse the statement of Spencer and Gillen that "group marriage preceded the modified form of individual marriage"; for the only group marriage which is likely to arise out of monogamy is precisely what Spencer and Gillen describe as "the modified form of individual marriage," and not the union of all the persons who are in the noa relationship. Mr. Hartland, however, on p. 466, endorses, so far as I can see, the noa-group theory, and thus contradicts his later statement, unless my view of the probabilities is wrong.

The fact of group marriage—in the sense of pirrauru—is unquestionable; the theory of group marriage—in the sense of noa-group union—highly problematical. If Mr. Hartland endorses the latter theory, how does he suppose that it "arose" under mother-right?