Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 22, 1911.djvu/410

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374 Correspondence.

tending, in their turn, to strengthen the unions previously formed. So far as we know, there could be no opposition arising from motives we may class as rehgious. But the case would be altered when it came to interfering with a social order around which sacred associations had gathered, and abandoning a taboo to which was attached a sanction not merely human but supernatural. Against a change of that kind a clamour would be aroused of which we may faintly judge by the fierce opposition offered in this country at the present day to marriage with a deceased wife's sister, and to the remarriage of divorced persons. Supernatural terrors have at least as strong a hold on the savage as on the writers and readers of the Church Times ; and it would require all the common sense of the community to insist on the reform. But with every such change the opposition would be weakened. As we see from the cases of the Masai and the Garos, the way for change would often be prepared by a long period of social evolution. Among other peoples, like the Mekeo, it would come to be regarded as a normal development, in which the fuller liberty of connubium was only one of the incidents.

Finally, be it observed that this suggestion does not assume the universality of totemism. Twenty years ago anthropologists were inclined to presume totemism as a necessary stage in the evolution of human culture. To-day the pendulum has swung in an opposite direction. Perhaps it has swung too far. In any event exogamic clans are now as a fact found without totemism. Whether they ever were totemic is a question we may leave for the present pur- pose undecided. The vaHdity of the suggestion here propounded will not depend upon the answer. Incidentally, it is true, it pro- vides an explanation of their totemism where they are totemic ; but it neither asserts nor presupposes that they are all totemic.

Such is the alternative I venture with some diffidence to submit. I do not put it forward in any but the most tentative spirit, or dignify it by the name of hypothesis. It may have been anticipated in whole or in part by others. This is inevitable where discussions on a subject have been proceeding for years. But I think it requires more detailed consideration than to my knowledge it has yet received.

E. Sidney Hartland.