Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 22, 1911.djvu/115

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Correspondence. 89

law are crimes which many men have a natural propensity to commit. I must confess that this argument greatly surprises me. Of course, where there is no transgression there is no law. But Dr. Frazer cannot be ignorant of the variability of instincts and of the great variability of the sexual instinct ; nor should he forget that there are circumstances in which a natural sentiment may be blunted and overcome. Would he maintain that there can be no deep natural aversion to bestiality because bestiality is forbidden by law, and that the exceptional severity with which parricide is treated by many law books proves that a large number of men have a natural propensity to kill their parents ? The law expresses the feelings of the majority and punishes acts that shock them.

Dr. Frazer accuses me of having extended Darwin's methods to subjects which only partially admit of such treatment, because my theory of the origin of exogamy attempts to explain the growth of a human institution " too exclusively from physical and biological causes without taking into account the factors of intelligence, deliberation, and will." This, Dr. Frazer adds, is "not science but a bastard imitation of it." What have I done to incur so severe an accusation ? I have suggested that the instinctive aversion to sexual intercourse between persons who have been living very closely together from early youth may be the result of natural selection. I am inclined to think, — and so is Dr. Frazer also, — that consanguineous marriages are in some way or other detrimental to the species. This fact would lead to the develop- ment of a sentiment which would be powerful enough, as a rule, to prevent injurious unions, — a sentiment which would not, of course, show itself as an innate aversion to sexual connections with near relatives as such, but as an aversion on the part of individuals to union with others with whom they Hved closely together from early childhood. These, as a matter of fact, would be blood- relations, and the result would consequently be the survival of the fittest. All that I have done, then, is that I have appealed to natural selection to explain the origin of a primeval instinctive sentiment; and I can never believe that this is to transgress the legitimate boundaries of Darwinism.

Dr. Frazer himself thinks that "we may safely conclude that infertility is an inevitable consequence of inbreeding continued