Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 22, 1911.djvu/112

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86 Correspondence.

them." Moreover, if the superstition in question were the root of the aversion to incest, we should still have to explain the origin of that superstition itself, and this Dr. Frazer has not even attempted to do. If, on the other hand, the horror of incest has originated in the way I have suggested in a theory which Dr. Frazer has subjected to a detailed criticism, the superstition which he is inclined to regard as the cause of that feeling is a very natural result of it or of the prohibition to which it gave rise. That this is the case is all the more probable because the same injurious effects as are attributed to incest are supposed to result from other sexual irregularities as well, such as adultery and fornication.

My own belief is that there is an innate aversion to sexual intercourse between persons living very closely together from early childhood, and that, as such persons are in most cases related by blood, this feeling naturally displays itself in custom and law as a horror of intercourse between near kin. Dr. Frazer admits that there seems to be some ground for beheving in the existence of "a natural aversion to, or at least a want of inclination for, sexual intercourse between persons who have been brought up closely together from early youth " ; but he finds it difficult to understand how this could have been changed into an aversion to sexual intercourse with persons near of kin, and maintains that, till I explain this satisfactorily, the chain of reasoning by which I support my theory breaks down entirely at the crucial point. For my own part I think that the transition which Dr. Frazer finds so difficult to understand is not only possible and natural but well-nigh proved by an exactly analogous case of equally world-wide occurrence and of still greater social importance, namely the process which has led to the association of all kinds of social rights and duties with kinship. The maternal and paternal sentiments, which largely are at the bottom of parental duties and rights, cannot in their simplest forms be based on a knowledge of blood relationship, but respond to stimuli derived from other circumstances, notably the proximity of the helpless young, that is, the external relationship in which the offspring from the beginning stand to the parents. Nor is the so-called filial love in the first instance rooted in considerations of kinship ; it is essentially retributive, the agreeable feeling produced by benefits received making the individual look with pleasure and