Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 26, 1915.djvu/133

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Psychology and Ethnology. 123

we can think of, but to all appearances by a series of social changes which it is our task to reconstruct by historical research. Instinct in itself appears to be a precarious thing; it is weaker even than etiquette. However deeply in love, an English girl is forbidden by convention to propose ; she can only hint in a modest and maidenly way, and, if the hint is not taken,

Sit like Patience in a monument, Smiling at Grief.

But if she is a Queen, etiquette requires that she should intimate to the suitor that he is at liberty to propose. South Sea women are not much given to dying of love ; a mere liking is enough to overcome female modesty and impel them to propose; that is because custom supports the liking; in England it opposes the strongest passion.

The truth is there is one set of instincts that dominates all the rest, namely the social instincts. Their action is quite indefinite : they are essentially opportunists. They give the whole weight of their support to public opinion ; it makes a man care more for what his people think right than for anything under the sun. It is clear that such instincts help us not at all, since they merely reinforce custom, but do not create it.

Instincts are therefore useless for our purpose : we can leave hunger out of fishing, love out of marriage,^ pugnacity out of warfare, religious emotions out of religion, the .social instincts out of everything, and Man out of Ethnology.

  • Most theories of marriage seem to assume that it is based on the sexual

instinct and jealousy. If it is so, it is hard to understand why those people who allow praemarital freedom and do not enforce conjugal fidelity, should marry at all. In certain parts of the world marriage looks more like an economic insti- tution ; praemarital intrigues are love affairs, but marriage is business. Love as the real or ostensible motive is possibly limited to a minority of races and due to the almost impossibility of indulging romance outside of marriage and to a strict individualism that makes pleasant companionship the all-important con- sideration in marriage.