Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 3.djvu/353

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341
THE STUDY OF SOCIOLOGY.

crime, but a glory." They kill the decrepit, maimed, and sick. While, on the one hand, infanticide covers nearer two-thirds than one-half of the births, on the other hand, "one of the first lessons taught the infant is, to strike its mother:" anger and revenge are fostered. Inferiors are killed for neglecting proper salutes; slaves are buried alive with the posts on which a king's house stands; and ten or more men are slaughtered on the decks of a newly-launched canoe, to baptize it with their blood. A chief's wives, courtiers, and aides-de-camp, are strangled at his death—being thereby honored. Cannibalism is so rampant that a chief, praising his deceased son, wound up his eulogy by saying that he would "kill his own wives if they offended him, and eat them afterward." Victims were sometimes roasted alive before being eaten; and Tanoa, one of their chiefs, cut off a cousin's arm, drank the blood, cooked the arm and ate it in presence of the owner, who was then cut to pieces. Their gods, described as having like characters, commit like acts. They eat the souls of those who are devoured by men, having first "roasted" them (the "souls" being simply material duplicates). The Fiji gods "are proud and revengeful, and make war, and kill and eat each other;" and among their names are "the adulterer," "the woman-stealer," "the brain-eater," "the murderer." Such being the account of the Samoans, and such the account of the Fijians, let us ask what the Fijians think of the Samoans. "The Feegeeans looked upon the Samoans with horror, because they had no religion, no belief in any such deities" (as the Feegeean), "nor any of the sanguinary rites which prevailed in other islands"[1]—a fact quite in harmony with that narrated by Jackson, who, having behaved disrespectfully to one of their gods, was angrily called by them "the white infidel."

Any one may read, while running, the lesson conveyed; and, without stopping to consider much, may see its application to the beliefs and sentiments of civilized races. The ferocious Fijian doubtless thinks that, to devour a human victim in the name of one of his cannibal gods, is a meritorious act; while he thinks that his Samoan neighbor, who makes no sacrifices to these cannibal gods, but is just and kind to his fellows, thereby shows that meanness goes along with his shocking irreligion. Construing the facts in this way, the Fijian can form no rational conception of Samoan society. With vices and virtues interchanged in conformity with his creed, the benefits of certain social arrangements, if he thinks about them at all, must seem evils and the evils benefits.

Speaking generally, then, each system of dogmatic theology, with the sentiments that gather round it, becomes an impediment in the way of Social Science. The sympathies drawn out toward one creed and the correlative antipathies aroused by other creeds, distort the interpretations of all the associated facts. On these institutions and

  1. Lubbock's "Prehistoric Times," second edition, p. 442.