Page:Primitive Culture Vol 1.djvu/84

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rudest artificially shaped stone implement is imperceptibly gradual, and onward from this rude stage much independent progress in different directions is to be traced, till the manufacture at last arrives at admirable artistic perfection, by the time that the introduction of metal is superseding it. So with other implements and fabrics, of which the stages are known through their whole course of development from the merest nature to the fullest art. The club is traced from the rudest natural bludgeon up to the weapon of finished shape and carving. Pebbles held in the hand to hammer with, and cutting-instruments of stone shaped or left smooth at one end to be held in the hand, may be seen in museums, hinting that the important art of fixing instruments in handles was the result of invention, not of instinct. The stone hatchet, used as a weapon, passes into the battle-axe. The spear, a pointed stick or pole, has its point hardened in the fire, and a further improvement is to fix on a sharp point of horn, bone, or chipped stone. Stones are flung by hand, and then by the sling, a contrivance widely but not universally known among savage tribes. From first to last in the history of war the spear or lance is grasped as a thrusting weapon. Its use as a missile no doubt began as early, but it has hardly survived so far in civilization. Thus used, it is most often thrown by the unaided arm, but a sling for the purpose is known to various savage tribes. The short cord with an eye used in the New Hebrides, and called a 'becket' by Captain Cook, and a whip-like instrument noticed in New Zealand, are used for spear-throwing. But the more usual instrument is a wooden handle, a foot or two long. This spear-thrower is known across the high northern districts of North America, among some tribes of South America, and among the Australians. These latter, it has been asserted, could not have invented it in their present state of barbarism. But the remarkable feature of the matter is that the spear-thrower belongs especially to savagery, and not to civilization. Among the higher nations the nearest approach to it seems to have been the