Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 22, 1911.djvu/399

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page needs to be proofread.

Correspondence. 363

unites its members is due to the common totem or to the common descent?" Put in that way, indeed, the question is difficult to answer. But why has he not quoted Dr. Frazer's ipsisshna verba ? What Dr. Frazer says (i. 53) is: — "The totem bond is stronger than the bond of blood or fatnily in the modern sense." Surely this is incontestable. He goes on : — " This is expressly stated of the clans of Western Australia and of North- Western America, and is probably true of all societies where totemism exists in full force." Dr. Westermarck has evidently not referred to the authorities cited in support of the statement; instead he flies off to the Arunta. Now {pace Dr. Frazer) totemism among the Arunta is not in full force, but manifestly in decay ; and one of the symptoms of its decay is the relaxation or annihilation of the old bond of blood. Dr. Westermarck's reply on this point may accordingly have some force against Dr. Frazer, but is of no validity against those who refuse to believe in the primitive character of Arunta institutions. At all events, the evidence concerning the peoples referred to by Dr. Frazer is conclusive. I have elsewhere {Primitive Paternity, i. 280) cited some very striking examples not mentioned by him in this connection. As the book is in the hands of all members of the Folk-Lore Society I need not here repeat them.

Again, for Dr. Westermarck, Dr. Frazer's criticism of other writers' theories is not always convincing. He cites two examples. The first is that of " the American theory, according to which the totems of clans are merely the guardian spirits of ancestors transmitted by inheritance to their descendants." Dr. Frazer had argued that " it encounters a serious difficulty in the comparative insignificance of the guardian spirits of women, which is hard to reconcile with descent of the clan-totem in the female line." Upon which Dr. Westermarck asks, — " Why could not a person inherit the guardian spirit of his maternal uncle, as he in many cases inherits his property?" How is this relevant to Dr. Frazer's criticism? It does not touch the comparative insignificance of the guardian spirits of women ; and it ignores the equal application of true totemism to women and to men.

The other example is that of Dr. Frazer's objection to the late Prof. Wilken's theory that totemism originated in the doctrine