Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 26, 1915.djvu/129

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


Psychology mtd Ethnology. 1 1 9

suggest a name ; how painful it is to have to find one ; how we will rack our brains for days when the whole business could be settled in five minutes by opening a book at random or drawing letters out of a bag.^ We are in practice thorough determinists : we must have something to determine our conduct, and it must be something of social importance, if it is to be accepted by society. Where is the man who would dare name a new island by lottery, and where is the geographer who would accept such a name ?

If we worry ourselves to hang even the most trifling inventions on to precedents, can we believe that savages, some of the most backward of any we know, can invent a new social order bearing no relation to the old ? And if it was founded on the old one, Ave want to know what that old one was in order to understand the new one.

We are no wiser for being told that Australians deliber- ated at some time in the distant past, because all men are continually deliberating, only they are not always deliber- ating about the same objects, and therefore it is these objects that interest us by their difference, not their de- liberations, which are all very much alike. What we want to know is what was the state of society so different from ours, out of which the Australian aborigines evolved another state of society different from the first, and known to us through the researches of Australianists.

The fact that social organization " bears the impress of design upon it " - does not prove that it was devised within one day or even a century. The British Constitu- tion " bears the impress of design upon it " to such a point that other nations have copied it; yet it is the boast of every true Briton that his constitution grew and was not made. The truth is, it is being made every day, and is

' People are not yet agreed whether to speak of Indo-Gernianic or Indo- European languages ; and no one is quite satisfied with either. ^Frazer, Totemisni and Exogamy, vol. iv., p. io6.