Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 26, 1915.djvu/128

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1 1 8 Psychology a7td Ethnology.

do not stop there in our investigations, but go on to other islands, where we find this fourfold division so common that it is evident it was once an institution.

So often is this the case that in the field it is a good rule, after studying minutely one community, to collect bare lists of clans, titles, functions, etc., from neighbouring communities in order to determine what features are accidents and which are constant.

Motives arising out of temporary and local circumstances must be temporary and local in their effects. They may for a time be predominant in the minds of the community, but, as soon as they have been satisfied or quashed, their action ceases ; but the permanent tendencies are always there. Reasons of state may for a time overwhelm a traditional preference for a fourfold division of the tribe, but this preference will remain when the reasons of state are gone, and it will assert itself at the first opportunity. A chief of C may succeed a chief of C because the candidate of B is unpopular ; but at the next election this motive will have disappeared and the chieftainship will return to B. A collective resolution to change a custom, to prohibit incest, or whatever it may be, to be permanent must be the outcome of long and steady preparation ; show us this preparation, show us previous custom inevitably and logic- ally leading up to the resolution, and we can dispense with the resolution itself, which is to the new order of things but as the guard's whistle to the departure of the train.

Nothing can come out of nothing ; a man cannot involve a whole system out of emptiness. No one has ever denied that Australian Blacks do reason, argue, and discuss cere- monies and the application of custom. We do so ourselves, and therefore we can safely assume that savages do likewise without our troubling to go and see. V/hat one is justified in doubting is whether they could evolve a whole social organization out of their own minds. Consider how difficult it is to name a new thing when there is nothing about it to