Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 26, 1915.djvu/21

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Presidential Address.

"civilization," as we optimistically call it, but with the opposite condition which for want of a better word goes by the name of "savagery." Now, as Sir Everard im Thurn points out in the Address which I had the pleasure of hearing him deliver a short while ago in Australia,[1] it is unfortunate that there is no "term of less misleading suggestion" to provide a label for that form of human culture which in broad contrast to our own we class as rude or primitive. One is apt in speaking of "savagery" to allow the implication of brutal ferocity to slip in unchallenged. But such a piece of question-begging is utterly unfair. No wonder that, by way of counterblast, Professor von Luschan was moved to emit his famous paradox: "The only "savages" in Africa are certain white men!"[2]

For, as we all know, "savage" is by etymology nothing other than "silvaggio," a "forester" or "woodlander" resembling those of whom Lucretius sang:—

"silvestria membra
Nuda dabant terrae, nocturno tempore capti,
Circum se foliis ac frondibus involventes."[3]

Now such a label would not be inappropriate if it could be made to carry a purely economic, as distinguished from a moral, connotation. Economically regarded, the class of savage or wild folk includes all those who live in close dependence on the immediate physical environment. The savage is thus the veritable "child of nature," since his natural surroundings so largely make him what he is. This description does not merely apply to the most backward jungle tribes who, like Pliny's Artabatites, "wander and go up and downe in the forests like foure-footed sauvage

  1. Sir E. im Thurn, Presidential Address to Section H of Brit. Assoc., Sydney, 1914, 1.
  2. F. von Luschan in Papers on Inter-Racial Problems, ed. G. Spiller, 22.
  3. Lucretius, De Rerum Natura, v. 969.