Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 26, 1915.djvu/27

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Presidential Address.

Let us consider in turn the predatory savage. No doubt much has been urged, not unjustly, in his disparagement. But we must remember that the criticism comes from without, namely, from those to whom the fighting tribe necessarily displays its unamiable side. The European who approaches in the guise of a stranger, and mostly, let us add, in the guise of an armed stranger, is apt to meet with a rough reception at the hands of just that group of wild folk whose morale and military spirit are highest; and in such a case uncharitable epithets are likely to be forthcoming by way of response.

Cet animal est très méchant—
Quand on l'attaque, il se défend.

A more impartial estimate of the morality of savages of the fierce type must needs make full allowance for the fact that, amongst themselves, they manifest much forbearance and goodwill. The worst charge that can be brought against them relates to what a German author calls the "dualism" of their ethics[1]—in other words, their acquiescence in the two-edged doctrine which Sir Edward Tylor formulates thus: "Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy."[2]

Postponing for a moment the investigation of their limitations on the side of strict ethics, let us first pay heed to their achievements in the way of worldly success. It is a commonplace of anthropology that at a certain stage of evolution—the half-way stage, so to speak—war is a prime civilizing agency; in fact, that, as Bagehot puts it, "Civilization begins, because the beginning of civilization is a military advantage."[3] The reason is not far to seek. "The compact tribes win," says Bagehot.[4] Or, as Spencer

  1. M. Kulischer, Der Dualismis der Ethik hei den primitiven Völkern, in Zeitschrift für Ethnologie, 1885, vi.
  2. Sir E. B. Tylor, Contemporary Review, xxi. 718.
  3. W. Bagehot, Physics and Politics, 52.
  4. Bagehot, op. cit. ib.