Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 17, 1906.djvu/26

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1 6 Presidential Address.

raised in the last year : the origin and meaning of totemism, coupled with the names of Mr. Frazer and Mr. Lang. As we all remember, the great works of Messrs. Spencer and Gillen threw new light on totemism. For many years totemism has been in the melting-pot, but nothing came out. The hypotheses which seemed fairly adequate when Mr. Frazer wrote his monograph on the subject have been necessarily modified by the discovery of new facts ; and nothing very satisfac- tory had been suggested in their place, although some attempts have been made by scholars, including Mr. Frazer himself Last autumn, however, Mr. Frazer pub- lished two articles in the Fortnightly Review (July and September) offering a new solution with full confidence >' not long after Mr. Lang published The Secret of the Totem (Longmans), in which he with equal confidence propounds another solution. Both are extremely inter- esting, both are based on simple principles ; and both set out from the manners and customs of the Arunta tribe of Australia. These happy savages have lived and moved and had their being from time immemorial in the most quiet and obscure way : now, by no fault of their own, they have become famous. Around the Arunta fierce battles rage. They have no national debt, no navy, no political parties, not even a fiscal ques- tion — none of the marks of civilisation. Yet keen wits, in the most civilised country, are exercised over the question. Are the Arunta primitive .■' Our society has already heard Mr. Lang's argument on this point.

The word primitive must of course be used relatively. For example, female kinship is generally accepted as a primitive mark ; yet a state of things is conceivable in which no man or woman would be interested in ques- tions of kinship. If there were no property and no rights to transmit, no religion, why should any primeval