Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 26, 1915.djvu/24

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
Presidential Address.

commit any evil among themselves or against any other people."[1] And so one traveller after another ascribes the character of "blameless Ethiopians" to this or that small and unwarlike group of wild folk.[2] We need not spend time over the enumeration of instances, when the testimony is so unanimous. It is plain that hidden away in the odd corners of the world are many little peoples, as innocent as they are insignificant, of whom one might say in the language of cold science very much what in the romantic pages of Sir John Mandeville is expressed thus: "and alle be it that thei ben not cristned, ne have no perfyt lawe, zit natheless of kyndily lawe thei ben fulle of all Vertue, and thei eschewen alle Vices and alle Malices and alle Synnes."[3]

On the other hand, again, the predatory savages form a well-marked type; and it is incontestable that, though Iroquois or Zulus, let us say, represent in some sense the very flower of the North American or African stocks, yet their cruelty and ruthlessness were on a level with their energy and courage. What need to labour the point? Their record, written in blood, speaks for itself.

Comparing, then, the mild savages with the fierce in respect of their position in the evolutionary scale, we are at once struck by the fact that, whereas the fierce peoples were established and, until the oncoming of the Whites, held their own, in the midst of some crowded field of competition, some capital "area of characterization," as de Quatrefages would term it, the mild peoples, on the contrary, are one and all the denizens of "protected" districts. The latter, in other words, pursue the simple life in

  1. A. R. Colquhoun, Among the Shans, 234.
  2. See the multitude of examples collected by H. Spencer in Principles of Sociology, ii. Part 2, 234 ff.; or consult the anonymous monograph, Der Volkergedanke ivi Aufban einer Wissenschaft vom Menschen, Berlin, 1881, esp. 24, 46, and notes.
  3. Halliwell's edition, London, 1837, 291.