Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 22, 1911.djvu/401

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Correspondence. 365

high civiHzation, and affords no criterion of what may take place in a very low one. Moreover, by the subtleties of churchmen, the ceremony is held to create a real, though spiritual, relationship between the sponsors themselves, and between them and the child for whom they stand as sponsors. By the Slav " groomsman " Dr. Westermarck means the Brautfilhrer ox BJeveri, who is usually either a brother of one or other of the parties (and so a member of the family by blood), or is the godfather. Where this is not so, the mere relationship of Bratitfuhrer is not invariably held to be a bar to marriage. The Chinese law referred to proceeds on the assumption that every one bearmg the same patronymic is in fact related by blood ; the possession of the name is held irrefutable evidence of kinship. It is a case of the survival of exogamic clans into a high stage of civilization. There only remains the pro- hibition of marriage between relatives by aUiance. The rules as to this are very various ; and it seems probable that, so far as they are found in the lowest culture, they are based upon an actual relationship held to be contracted by the marriage. However this may be, none of these cases of prohibition carry Dr. Wester- marck very far. The most that any of them can do is to prove that the region of relationships is not exempted from the operation of the universal law of the association of ideas. Indeed he claims no more for it. But it is hardly necessary to point out that this is a long way from proving his hypothesis, or even introducing a presumption in its favour : it leaves it a pure speculation still. The hypothesis, however, that the very general (but not universal) horror of incest is founded on the aversion to sexual relations between persons intimately associated from childhood is plausible, and not to be dismissed without examination. It seems worth while to take the opportunity to summarize a few of the objections to it. Since the direct knowledge of primitive human society is denied to us, we must judge of it and of the feelings that actuated its members from what we find to-day in low grades of civiHzation. There the customs are very different in different tribes. They all agree in very little more than that sexual relations are prohibited between some persons. These persons are by no means always persons who have been brought up in contiguity from childhood. Among the Bantu sexual intercourse takes place from quite early