Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 22, 1911.djvu/408

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372 Correspondence.

apparently always has been, a centrifugal tendency which, with the absence of a central authority, has permitted the formation of a large number of pangua by fission from the parent stock." He describes the process. Its final step is a big feast at the expense of the ambitious group, to which all the chiefs of the district come, and there the status desired is granted, " the leader of the new unit is declared a chief, and the new section, while retaining the old name, is declared free and independent." In other words, it attains the dignity of an exogamous pangua.^

We cannot indeed say that in all these cases the object of fission is to provide a greater choice of mates ; but, seeing that that is at least one of the effects, it may reasonably be one of the objects. Whether this were so or no, the change is voluntary, and it is a step in the organization of the entire tribe. To us, however, the difficulty lies in attributing to a mere step in organiza- tion the genesis of the common horror, — the horror which we experience in a high degree, — of incest. This seems to be caused by omitting to place ourselves at the savage point of view and thence tracing the course of evolution. The horror of incest is, as I have pointed out, by no means universal. The evils of inbreeding are not likely to have been within the purview of our remote ancestors. Even yet they are not finally admitted by modern science: or, if admitted, they are admitted only with qualifications, and in the somewhat vague form that indefinite inbreeding, without rigid selection, natural or artificial, results in deterioration. Nor does exogamy in its simpler forms altogether avoid inbreeding. But, when the first hypothetical step was taken in the formation of exogamic clans, kinship, — the possession of a common blood, — was only recognized on one side, probably that of the mother, and only between the mother and her offspring. The segregation of a number, larger or smaller, of mothers and offspring would naturally lead to the recognition of a common blood between the offspring themselves. The consciousness of brotherhood and sisterhood would be awakened. The whole clan would share in common rites, which would accentuate the feeling of fraternity. The feeling of fraternity once quickened would grow. Within the original clan groups would be formed, the

^ Seligmann, The Melanesians of British New Gtiitiea, pp. 367, 337, 16.