Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 10.djvu/290

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Again, while in some places the establishment of the exogamous prejudice is ascribed to the practice of wife-stealing (pp. 53, 54, and 136), it is elsewhere made the antecedent of wife-stealing: interdict against marriage within the tribe was primordial. Now if this last is Mr. McLennan's view, I agree with Sir J. Lubbock in thinking that it is untenable. It cannot be assumed that in these earliest groups of men, with which Mr. McLennan commences, there were any established rules of marriage. Unions of the sexes must have preceded all social laws. The rise of a social law implies a certain preceding continuity of social existence; and this preceding continuity of social existence implies the reproduction of successive generations. Hence reproduction, entirely unregulated by interdicts, must be taken as initial.

Assuming, however, that of his two views Mr. McLennan will abide by the more tenable one, that wife-stealing led to exogamy, let us ask how far he is justified in alleging that female infanticide, and consequent scarcity of women, led to wife-stealing. At first sight it appears undeniable that destruction of infant girls, if frequent, must have been accompanied by a deficiency of adult females; and it seems strange to call in question the legitimacy of this inference. But Mr. McLennan has overlooked a concomitant. Tribes in a state of chronic hostility are constantly losing their adult males, and the male mortality so caused is usually considerable. Hence the killing many female infants does not necessitate paucity of women: it may merely prevent excess. Excess must, indeed, be inevitable if, equal numbers of males and females being reared, some of the males are from time to time slain. The assumption from which Mr. McLennan's argument sets out is, therefore, inadmissible.

How inadmissible it is, becomes conspicuous on finding that, where wife-stealing is now practised, it is commonly associated with polygyny. The Fuegians, named by Mr. McLennan among wife-stealing peoples, are polygynists. According to Dove, the Tasmanians were polygynists, and Lloyd says that polygyny was universal among them; yet the Tasmanians were wife-stealers. The Australians furnish Mr. McLennan with a typical instance of wife-stealing and exogamy; and though Mr. Oldfield alleges scarcity of women among them, yet other testimony is quite at variance with his. Mitchell says: "Most of the men appeared to possess two [females], the pair in general consisting of a fat plump gin, and one much younger;" and, according to the Frenchman Peltier, named in the last chapter as having lived seventeen years with the Macadama tribe in Queensland, the women were "more numerous than the men, every man having from two to five women in his suite." In North America the Dakotas are at once wife-stealers and polygynists, Burton tells us. In South America the Brazilians similarly unite these two traits; and among the Caribs they are especially associated. Writing of polygyny as practised on