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Mutual Aid by P. Kropotkin

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and it is evidently the same instinct which brings together the
big columns of butterflies which have been referred to already.

The habit of coming together for dancing and of decorating
the places where the birds habitually perform their dances is, of
course, well known from the pages that Darwin gave to this
subject in The Descent of Man (ch. xiii). Visitors of the London
Zoological Gardens also know the bower of the satin bower-bird.
But this habit of dancing seems to be much more widely spread
than was formerly believed, and Mr. W. Hudson gives in his
master-work on La Plata the most interesting description, which
must be read in the original, of complicated dances, performed by
quite a number of birds: rails, jacanas, lapwings, and so on.

The habit of singing in concert, which exists in several
species of birds, belongs to the same category of social
instincts. It is most strikingly developed with the chakar
(Chauna chavarris), to which the English have given the most
unimaginative misnomer of "crested screamer." These birds
sometimes assemble in immense flocks, and in such cases they
frequently sing all in concert. W.H. Hudson found them once in
countless numbers, ranged all round a pampas lake in well-defined
flocks, of about 500 birds in each flock.

"Presently," he writes, "one flock near me began singing, and
continued their powerful chant for three or four minutes; when
they ceased the next flock took up the strains, and after it the
next, and so on, until once more the notes of the flocks on the
opposite shore came floating strong and clear across the water--
then passed away, growing fainter and fainter, until once more
the sound approached me travelling round to my side again."

On another occasion the same writer saw a whole plain covered
with an endless flock of chakars, not in close order, but
scattered in pairs and small groups. About nine o'clock in the
evening, "suddenly the entire multitude of birds covering the
marsh for miles around burst forth in a tremendous evening
song.... It was a concert well worth riding a hundred miles to
hear."(27) It may be added that like all sociable animals, the
chakar easily becomes tame and grows very attached to man." They
are mild-tempered birds, and very rarely quarrel"--we are told--
although they are well provided with formidable weapons. Life
in societies renders these weapons useless.

That life in societies is the most powerful weapon in the
struggle for life, taken in its widest sense, has been
illustrated by several examples on the foregoing pages, and could
be illustrated by any amount of evidence, if further evidence
were required. Life in societies enables the feeblest insects,
the feeblest birds, and the feeblest mammals to resist, or to
protect themselves from, the most terrible birds and beasts of
prey; it permits longevity; it enables the species to rear its
progeny with the least waste of energy and to maintain its
numbers albeit a very slow birth-rate; it enables the gregarious
animals to migrate in search of new abodes. Therefore, while
fully admitting that force, swiftness, protective colours,
cunningness, and endurance to hunger and cold, which are
mentioned by Darwin and Wallace, are so many qualities making the
individual, or the species, the fittest under certain
circumstances, we maintain that under any circumstances
sociability is the greatest advantage in the struggle for life.
Those species which willingly or unwillingly abandon it are
doomed to decay; while those animals which know best how to
combine, have the greatest chances of survival and of further
evolution, although they may be inferior to others in each of the
faculties enumerated by Darwin and Wallace, save the intellectual
faculty. The highest vertebrates, and especially mankind, are the
best proof of this assertion. As to the intellectual faculty,
while every Darwinist will agree with Darwin that it is the most
powerful arm in the struggle for life, and the most powerful
factor of further evolution, he also will admit that intelligence
is an eminently social faculty. Language, imitation, and
accumulated experience are so many elements of growing
intelligence of which the unsociable animal is deprived.
Therefore we find, at the top of each class of animals, the ants,
the parrots, and the monkeys, all combining the greatest
sociability with the highest development of intelligence. The
fittest are thus the most sociable animals, and sociability
appears as the chief factor of evolution, both directly, by
securing the well-being of the species while diminishing the
waste of energy, and indirectly, by favouring the growth of

Moreover, it is evident that life in societies would be
utterly impossible without a corresponding development of social
feelings, and, especially, of a certain collective sense of
justice growing to become a habit. If every individual were
constantly abusing its personal advantages without the others
interfering in favour of the wronged, no society--life would be
possible. And feelings of justice develop, more or less, with all
gregarious animals. Whatever the distance from which the swallows
or the cranes come, each one returns to the nest it has built or
repaired last year. If a lazy sparrow intends appropriating the
nest which a comrade is building, or even steals from it a few
sprays of straw, the group interferes against the lazy comrade;
and it is evident that without such interference being the rule,
no nesting associations of birds could exist. Separate groups of
penguins have separate resting-places and separate fishing
abodes, and do not fight for them. The droves of cattle in
Australia have particular spots to which each group repairs to
rest, and from which it never deviates; and so on.(28) We have
any numbers of direct observations of the peace that prevails in
the nesting associations of birds, the villages of the rodents,
and the herds of grass-eaters; while, on the other side, we know
of few sociable animals which so continually quarrel as the rats
in our cellars do, or as the morses, which fight for the
possession of a sunny place on the shore. Sociability thus puts a
limit to physical struggle, and leaves room for the development
of better moral feelings. The high development of parental love
in all classes of animals, even with lions and tigers, is
generally known. As to the young birds and mammals whom we
continually see associating, sympathy--not love--attains a
further development in their associations. Leaving aside the
really touching facts of mutual attachment and compassion which
have been recorded as regards domesticated animals and with
animals kept in captivity, we have a number of well certified
facts of compassion between wild animals at liberty. Max Perty
and L. Buchner have given a number of such facts.(29) J.C.
Wood's narrative of a weasel which came to pick up and to carry
away an injured comrade enjoys a well-merited popularity.(30) So
also the observation of Captain Stansbury on his journey to Utah
which is quoted by Darwin; he saw a blind pelican which was fed,
and well fed, by other pelicans upon fishes which had to be
brought from a distance of thirty miles.(31) And when a herd of
vicunas was hotly pursued by hunters, H.A. Weddell saw more than
once during his journey to Bolivia and Peru, the strong males
covering the retreat of the herd and lagging behind in order to
protect the retreat. As to facts of compassion with wounded
comrades, they are continually mentioned by all field zoologists.
Such facts are quite natural. Compassion is a necessary outcome
of social life. But compassion also means a considerable advance
in general intelligence and sensibility. It is the first step
towards the development of higher moral sentiments. It is, in its
turn, a powerful factor of further evolution.

If the views developed on the preceding pages are correct,
the question necessarily arises, in how far are they consistent
with the theory of struggle for life as it has been developed by
Darwin, Wallace, and their followers? and I will now briefly
answer this important question. First of all, no naturalist will
doubt that the idea of a struggle for life carried on through
organic nature is the greatest generalization of our century.
Life is struggle; and in that struggle the fittest survive. But
the answers to the questions, "By which arms is this struggle
chiefly carried on?" and "Who are the fittest in the struggle?"
will widely differ according to the importance given to the two
different aspects of the struggle: the direct one, for food and
safety among separate individuals, and the struggle which Darwin
described as "metaphorical"--the struggle, very often
collective, against adverse circumstances. No one will deny that
there is, within each species, a certain amount of real
competition for food--at least, at certain periods. But the
question is, whether competition is carried on to the extent
admitted by Darwin, or even by Wallace; and whether this
competition has played, in the evolution of the animal kingdom,
the part assigned to it.

The idea which permeates Darwin's work is certainly one of
real competition going on within each animal group for food,
safety, and possibility of leaving an offspring. He often speaks
of regions being stocked with animal life to their full capacity,
and from that overstocking he infers the necessity of
competition. But when we look in his work for real proofs of that
competition, we must confess that we do not find them
sufficiently convincing. If we refer to the paragraph entitled
"Struggle for Life most severe between Individuals and Varieties
of the same Species," we find in it none of that wealth of proofs
and illustrations which we are accustomed to find in whatever
Darwin wrote. The struggle between individuals of the same
species is not illustrated under that heading by even one single
instance: it is taken as granted; and the competition between
closely-allied animal species is illustrated by but five
examples, out of which one, at least (relating to the two species
of thrushes), now proves to be doubtful.(32) But when we look
for more details in order to ascertain how far the decrease of
one species was really occasioned by the increase of the other
species, Darwin, with his usual fairness, tells us:

"We can dimly see why the competition should be most severe
between allied forms which fill nearly the same place in nature;
but probably in no case could we precisely say why one species
has been victorious over another in the great battle of life."

As to Wallace, who quotes the same facts under a
slightly-modified heading ("Struggle for Life between closely-allied
Animals and Plants often most severe"), he makes the following
remark (italics are mine), which gives quite another aspect to the
facts above quoted. He says:

"In some cases, no doubt, there is actual war between the
two, the stronger killing the weaker. but this is by no means
necessary, and there may be cases in which the weaker species,
physically, may prevail by its power of more rapid
multiplication, its better withstanding vicissitudes of climate,
or its greater cunning in escaping the attacks of common

In such cases what is described as competition may be no
competition at all. One species succumbs, not because it is
exterminated or starved out by the other species, but because it
does not well accommodate itself to new conditions, which the
other does. The term "struggle for life" is again used in its
metaphorical sense, and may have no other. As to the real
competition between individuals of the same species, which is
illustrated in another place by the cattle of South America
during a period of drought, its value is impaired by its being
taken from among domesticated animals. Bisons emigrate in like
circumstances in order to avoid competition. However severe the
struggle between plants--and this is amply proved--we cannot
but repeat Wallace's remark to the effect that "plants live where
they can," while animals have, to a great extent, the power of
choice of their abode. So that we again are asking ourselves, To
what extent does competition really exist within each animal
species? Upon what is the assumption based? The same remark must
be made concerning the indirect argument in favour of a severe
competition and struggle for life within each species, which may
be derived from the "extermination of transitional varieties," so
often mentioned by Darwin. It is known that for a long time
Darwin was worried by the difficulty which he saw in the absence
of a long chain of intermediate forms between closely-allied
species, and that he found the solution of this difficulty in the
supposed extermination of the intermediate forms.(33) However,
an attentive reading of the different chapters in which Darwin
and Wallace speak of this subject soon brings one to the
conclusion that the word "extermination" does not mean real
extermination; the same remark which Darwin made concerning his
expression: "struggle for existence," evidently applies to the
word "extermination" as well. It can by no means be understood in
its direct sense, but must be taken "in its metaphoric sense." If
we start from the supposition that a given area is stocked with
animals to its fullest capacity, and that a keen competition for
the sheer means of existence is consequently going on between all
the inhabitants--each animal being compelled to fight against
all its congeners in order to get its daily food--then the
appearance of a new and successful variety would certainly mean
in many cases (though not always) the appearance of individuals
which are enabled to seize more than their fair share of the
means of existence; and the result would be that those
individuals would starve both the parental form which does not
possess the new variation and the intermediate forms which do not
possess it in the same degree. It may be that at the outset,
Darwin understood the appearance of new varieties under this
aspect; at least, the frequent use of the word "extermination"
conveys such an impression. But both he and Wallace knew Nature
too well not to perceive that this is by no means the only
possible and necessary course of affairs.

If the physical and the biological conditions of a given
area, the extension of the area occupied by a given species, and
the habits of all the members of the latter remained unchanged--
then the sudden appearance of a new variety might mean the
starving out and the extermination of all the individuals which
were not endowed in a sufficient degree with the new feature by
which the new variety is characterized. But such a combination of
conditions is precisely what we do not see in Nature. Each
species is continually tending to enlarge its abode; migration to
new abodes is the rule with the slow snail, as with the swift
bird; physical changes are continually going on in every given
area; and new varieties among animals consist in an immense
number of cases-perhaps in the majority--not in the growth of
new weapons for snatching the food from the mouth of its
congeners--food is only one out of a hundred of various
conditions of existence--but, as Wallace himself shows in a
charming paragraph on the "divergence of characters" (Darwinism,
p. 107), in forming new habits, moving to new abodes, and taking
to new sorts of food. In all such cases there will be no
extermination, even no competition--the new adaptation being a
relief from competition, if it ever existed; and yet there will
be, after a time, an absence of intermediate links, in
consequence of a mere survival of those which are best fitted for
the new conditions--as surely as under the hypothesis of
extermination of the parental form. It hardly need be added that
if we admit, with Spencer, all the Lamarckians, and Darwin
himself, the modifying influence of the surroundings upon the
species, there remains still less necessity for the extermination
of the intermediate forms.

The importance of migration and of the consequent isolation
of groups of animals, for the origin of new varieties and
ultimately of new species, which was indicated by Moritz Wagner,
was fully recognized by Darwin himself. Consequent researches
have only accentuated the importance of this factor, and they
have shown how the largeness of the area occupied by a given
species--which Darwin considered with full reason so important
for the appearance of new varieties--can be combined with the
isolation of parts of the species, in consequence of local
geological changes, or of local barriers. It would be impossible
to enter here into the discussion of this wide question, but a
few remarks will do to illustrate the combined action of these
agencies. It is known that portions of a given species will often
take to a new sort of food. The squirrels, for instance, when
there is a scarcity of cones in the larch forests, remove to the
fir-tree forests, and this change of food has certain well-known
physiological effects on the squirrels. If this change of habits
does not last--if next year the cones are again plentiful in
the dark larch woods--no new variety of squirrels will
evidently arise from this cause. But if part of the wide area
occupied by the squirrels begins to have its physical characters
altered--in consequence of, let us say, a milder climate or
desiccation, which both bring about an increase of the pine
forests in proportion to the larch woods--and if some other
conditions concur to induce the squirrels to dwell on the
outskirts of the desiccating region--we shall have then a new
variety, i.e. an incipient new species of squirrels, without
there having been anything that would deserve the name of
extermination among the squirrels. A larger proportion of
squirrels of the new, better adapted variety would survive every
year, and the intermediate links would die in the course of time,
without having been starved out by Malthusian competitors. This
is exactly what we see going on during the great physical changes
which are accomplished over large areas in Central Asia, owing to
the desiccation which is going on there since the glacial period.

To take another example, it has been proved by geologists
that the present wild horse (Equus Przewalski) has slowly been
evolved during the later parts of the Tertiary and the Quaternary
period, but that during this succession of ages its ancestors
were not confined to some given, limited area of the globe. They
wandered over both the Old and New World, returning, in all
probability, after a time to the pastures which they had, in the
course of their migrations, formerly left.(34) Consequently, if
we do not find now, in Asia, all the intermediate links between
the present wild horse and its Asiatic Post-Tertiary ancestors,
this does not mean at all that the intermediate links have been
exterminated. No such extermination has ever taken place. No
exceptional mortality may even have occurred among the ancestral
species: the individuals which belonged to intermediate varieties
and species have died in the usual course of events--often
amidst plentiful food, and their remains were buried all over the

In short, if we carefully consider this matter, and,
carefully re-read what Darwin himself wrote upon this subject, we
see that if the word "extermination" be used at all in connection
with transitional varieties, it must be used in its metaphoric
sense. As to "competition," this expression, too, is continually
used by Darwin (see, for instance, the paragraph "On Extinction")
as an image, or as a way-of-speaking, rather than with the
intention of conveying the idea of a real competition between two
portions of the same species for the means of existence. At any
rate, the absence of intermediate forms is no argument in favour
of it.

In reality, the chief argument in favour of a keen
competition for the means of existence continually going on
within every animal species is--to use Professor Geddes'
expression--the "arithmetical argument" borrowed from Malthus.

But this argument does not prove it at all. We might as well
take a number of villages in South-East Russia, the inhabitants
of which enjoy plenty of food, but have no sanitary accommodation
of any kind; and seeing that for the last eighty years the
birth-rate was sixty in the thousand, while the population is now
what it was eighty years ago, we might conclude that there has
been a terrible competition between the inhabitants. But the
truth is that from year to year the population remained
stationary, for the simple reason that one-third of the new-born
died before reaching their sixth month of life; one-half died
within the next four years, and out of each hundred born, only
seventeen or so reached the age of twenty. The new-comers went
away before having grown to be competitors. It is evident that if
such is the case with men, it is still more the case with
animals. In the feathered world the destruction of the eggs goes
on on such a tremendous scale that eggs are the chief food of
several species in the early summer; not to, say a word of the
storms, the inundations which destroy nests by the million in
America, and the sudden changes of weather which are fatal to the
young mammals. Each storm, each inundation, each visit of a rat
to a bird's nest, each sudden change of temperature, take away
those competitors which appear so terrible in theory.

As to the facts of an extremely rapid increase of horses and
cattle in America, of pigs and rabbits in New Zealand, and even
of wild animals imported from Europe (where their numbers are
kept down by man, not by competition), they rather seem opposed
to the theory of over-population. If horses and cattle could so
rapidly multiply in America, it simply proved that, however
numberless the buffaloes and other ruminants were at that time in
the New World, its grass-eating population was far below what the
prairies could maintain. If millions of intruders have found
plenty of food without starving out the former population of the
prairies, we must rather conclude that the Europeans found a want
of grass-eaters in America, not an excess. And we have good
reasons to believe that want of animal population is the natural
state of things all over the world, with but a few temporary
exceptions to the rule. The actual numbers of animals in a given
region are determined, not by the highest feeding capacity of the
region, but by what it is every year under the most unfavourable
conditions. So that, for that reason alone, competition hardly
can be a normal condition. but other causes intervene as well to
cut, down the animal population below even that low standard. If
we take the horses and cattle which are grazing all the winter
through in the Steppes of Transbaikalia, we find them very lean
and exhausted at the end of the winter. But they grow exhausted
not because there is not enough food for all of them--the grass
buried under a thin sheet of snow is everywhere in abundance--
but because of the difficulty of getting it from beneath the
snow, and this difficulty is the same for all horses alike.
Besides, days of glazed frost are common in early spring, and if
several such days come in succession the horses grow still more
exhausted. But then comes a snow-storm, which compels the already
weakened animals to remain without any food for several days, and
very great numbers of them die. The losses during the spring are
so severe that if the season has been more inclement than usual
they are even not repaired by the new breeds--the more so as
all horses are exhausted, and the young foals are born in a
weaker condition. The numbers of horses and cattle thus always
remain beneath what they otherwise might be; all the year round
there is food for five or ten times as many animals, and yet
their population increases extremely slowly. But as soon as the
Buriate owner makes ever so small a provision of hay in the
steppe, and throws it open during days of glazed frost, or
heavier snow-fall, he immediately sees the increase of his herd.
Almost all free grass-eating animals and many rodents in Asia and
America being in very much the same conditions, we can safely say
that their numbers are not kept down by competition; that at no
time of the year they can struggle for food, and that if they
never reach anything approaching to over-population, the cause is
in the climate, not in competition.

The importance of natural checks to over-multiplication, and
especially their bearing upon the competition hypothesis, seems
never to have been taken into due account The checks, or rather
some of them, are mentioned, but their action is seldom studied
in detail. However, if we compare the action of the natural
checks with that of competition, we must recognize at once that
the latter sustains no comparison whatever with the other checks.
Thus, Mr. Bates mentions the really astounding numbers of winged
ants which are destroyed during their exodus. The dead or
half-dead bodies of the formica de fuego (Myrmica saevissima)
which had been blown into the river during a gale "were heaped in
a line an inch or two in height and breadth, the line continuing
without interruption for miles at the edge of the water."(35)
Myriads of ants are thus destroyed amidst a nature which might
support a hundred times as many ants as are actually living. Dr.
Altum, a German forester, who wrote a very interesting book about
animals injurious to our forests, also gives many facts showing
the immense importance of natural checks. He says, that a
succession of gales or cold and damp weather during the exodus of
the pine-moth (Bombyx pini) destroy it to incredible amounts, and
during the spring of 1871 all these moths disappeared at once,
probably killed by a succession of cold nights.(36) Many like
examples relative to various insects could be quoted from various
parts of Europe. Dr. Altum also mentions the bird-enemies of the
pine-moth, and the immense amount of its eggs destroyed by foxes;
but he adds that the parasitic fungi which periodically infest it
are a far more terrible enemy than any bird, because they destroy
the moth over very large areas at once. As to various species of
mice (Mus sylvaticus, Arvicola arvalis, and A. agrestis), the
same author gives a long list of their enemies, but he remarks:
"However, the most terrible enemies of mice are not other
animals, but such sudden changes of weather as occur almost every
year." Alternations of frost and warm weather destroy them in
numberless quantities; "one single sudden change can reduce
thousands of mice to the number of a few individuals." On the
other side, a warm winter, or a winter which gradually steps in,
make them multiply in menacing proportions, notwithstanding every
enemy; such was the case in 1876 and 1877.(37) Competition, in
the case of mice, thus appears a quite trifling factor when
compared with weather. Other facts to the same effect are also
given as regards squirrels.

As to birds, it is well known how they suffer from sudden
changes of weather. Late snow-storms are as destructive of
bird-life on the English moors, as they are in Siberia; and Ch.
Dixon saw the red grouse so pressed during some exceptionally
severe winters, that they quitted the moors in numbers, "and we
have then known them actually to be taken in the streets of
Sheffield. Persistent wet," he adds, "is almost as fatal to

On the other side, the contagious diseases which continually
visit most animal species destroy them in such numbers that the
losses often cannot be repaired for many years, even with the
most rapidly-multiply ing animals. Thus, some sixty years ago,
the sousliks suddenly disappeared in the neighbourhood of
Sarepta, in South-Eastern Russia, in consequence of some
epidemics; and for years no sousliks were seen in that
neighbourhood. It took many years before they became as numerous
as they formerly were.(38)

Like facts, all tending to reduce the importance given to
competition, could be produced in numbers. Of course, it might
be replied, in Darwin's words, that nevertheless each organic being
"at some period of its life, during some season of the year, during
each generation or at intervals, has to struggle for life and to
suffer great destruction," and that the fittest survive during such
periods of hard struggle for life. But if the evolution of the
animal world were based exclusively, or even chiefly, upon the
survival of the fittest during periods of calamities; if natural
selection were limited in its action to periods of exceptional
drought, or sudden changes of temperature, or inundations,
retrogression would be the rule in the animal world. Those who
survive a famine, or a severe epidemic of cholera, or small-pox, or
diphtheria, such as we see them in uncivilized countries, are
neither the strongest, nor the healthiest, nor the most intelligent.
No progress could be based on those survivals--the less so as all
survivors usually come out of the ordeal with an impaired health,
like the Transbaikalian horses just mentioned, or the Arctic crews,
or the garrison of a fortress which has been compelled to live for a
few months on half rations, and comes out of its experience with a
broken health, and subsequently shows a quite abnormal mortality.
All that natural selection can do in times of calamities is to spare
the individuals endowed with the greatest endurance for privations
of all kinds. So it does among the Siberian horses and cattle. They
are enduring; they can feed upon the Polar birch in case of need;
they resist cold and hunger. But no Siberian horse is capable of
carrying half the weight which a European horse carries with ease;
no Siberian cow gives half the amount of milk given by a Jersey cow,
and no natives of uncivilized countries can bear a comparison with
Europeans. They may better endure hunger and cold, but their
physical force is very far below that of a well-fed European, and
their intellectual progress is despairingly slow. "Evil cannot be
productive of good," as Tchernyshevsky wrote in a remarkable essay
upon Darwinism.(39)

Happily enough, competition is not the rule either in the
animal world or in mankind. It is limited among animals to
exceptional periods, and natural selection finds better fields
for its activity. Better conditions are created by the
elimination of competition by means of mutual aid and mutual
Support.(40) In the great struggle for life--for the greatest
possible fulness and intensity of life with the least waste of
energy--natural selection continually seeks out the ways
precisely for avoiding competition as much as possible. The ants
combine in nests and nations; they pile up their stores, they
rear their cattle--and thus avoid competition; and natural
selection picks out of the ants' family the species which know
best how to avoid competition, with its unavoidably deleterious
consequences. Most of our birds slowly move southwards as the
winter comes, or gather in numberless societies and undertake
long journeys--and thus avoid competition. Many rodents fall
asleep when the time comes that competition should set in; while
other rodents store food for the winter, and gather in large
villages for obtaining the necessary protection when at work. The
reindeer, when the lichens are dry in the interior of the
continent, migrate towards the sea. Buffaloes cross an immense
continent in order to find plenty of food. And the beavers, when
they grow numerous on a river, divide into two parties, and go,
the old ones down the river, and the young ones up the river and
avoid competition. And when animals can neither fall asleep, nor
migrate, nor lay in stores, nor themselves grow their food like
the ants, they do what the titmouse does, and what Wallace
(Darwinism, ch. v) has so charmingly described: they resort to
new kinds of food--and thus, again, avoid competition.

"Don't compete!--competition is always injurious to the
species, and you have plenty of resources to avoid it!" That is
the tendency of nature, not always realized in full, but always
present. That is the watchword which comes to us from the bush,
the forest, the river, the ocean. "Therefore combine--practise
mutual aid! That is the surest means for giving to each and to
all the greatest safety, the best guarantee of existence and
progress, bodily, intellectual, and moral." That is what Nature
teaches us; and that is what all those animals which have
attained the highest position in their respective classes have
done. That is also what man--the most primitive man--has been
doing; and that is why man has reached the position upon which we
stand now, as we shall see in the subsequent chapters devoted to
mutual aid in human societies.


1. Syevettsoff's Periodical Phenomena, p. 251.

2. Seyfferlitz, quoted by Brehm, iv. 760.

3. The Arctic Voyages of A.E. Nordenskjold, London, 1879, p. 135.
See also the powerful description of the St. Kilda islands by Mr.
Dixon (quoted by Seebohm), and nearly all books of Arctic travel.

4. Elliot Coues, in Bulletin U.S. Geol. Survey of Territories,
iv. No. 7, pp. 556, 579, etc. Among the gulls (Larus argentatus),
Polyakoff saw on a marsh in Northern Russia, that the nesting
grounds of a very great number of these birds were always
patrolled by one male, which warned the colony of the approach of
danger. All birds rose in such case and attacked the enemy with
great vigour. The females, which had five or six nests together
On each knoll of the marsh, kept a certain order in leaving their
nests in search of food. The fledglings, which otherwise are
extremely unprotected and easily become the prey of the rapacious
birds, were never left alone ("Family Habits among the Aquatic
Birds," in Proceedings of the Zool. Section of St. Petersburg
Soc. of Nat., Dec. 17, 1874).

5. Brehm Father, quoted by A. Brehm, iv. 34 seq. See also White's
Natural History of Selborne, Letter XI.

6. Dr. Coues, Birds of Dakota and Montana, in Bulletin U.S.
Survey of Territories, iv. No. 7.

7. It has often been intimated that larger birds may occasionally
transport some of the smaller birds when they cross together the
Mediterranean, but the fact still remains doubtful. On the other
side, it is certain that some smaller birds join the bigger ones
for migration. The fact has been noticed several times, and it
was recently confirmed by L. Buxbaum at Raunheim. He saw several
parties of cranes which had larks flying in the midst and on both
sides of their migratory columns (Der zoologische Garten, 1886,
p. 133).

8. H. Seebohm and Ch. Dixon both mention this habit.

9. The fact is well known to every field-naturalist, and with
reference to England several examples may be found in Charles
Dixon's Among the Birds in Northern Shires. The chaffinches
arrive during winter in vast flocks; and about the same time,
i.e. in November, come flocks of bramblings; redwings also
frequent the same places "in similar large companies," and so on
(pp. 165, 166).

10. S.W. Baker, Wild Beasts, etc., vol. i. p. 316.

11. Tschudi, Thierleben der Alpenwelt, p. 404.

12. Houzeau's Etudes, ii. 463.

13. For their hunting associations see Sir E. Tennant's Natural
History of Ceylon, quoted in Romanes's Animal Intelligence, p.

14. See Emil Huter's letter in L. Buchner's Liebe.

15. With regard to the viscacha it is very interesting to note
that these highly-sociable little animals not only live peaceably
together in each village, but that whole villages visit each
other at nights. Sociability is thus extended to the whole
species--not only to a given society, or to a nation, as we saw
it with the ants. When the farmer destroys a viscacha-burrow, and
buries the inhabitants under a heap of earth, other viscachas--
we are told by Hudson--"come from a distance to dig out those
that are buried alive" (l.c., p. 311). This is a widely-known
fact in La Plata, verified by the author.

16. Handbuch fur Juger und Jagdberechtigte, quoted by Brehm, ii.

17. Buffon's Histoire Naturelle.

18. In connection with the horses it is worthy of notice that the
quagga zebra, which never comes together with the dauw zebra,
nevertheless lives on excellent terms, not only with ostriches,
which are very good sentries, but also with gazelles, several
species of antelopes, and gnus. We thus have a case of mutual
dislike between the quagga and the dauw which cannot be explained
by competition for food. The fact that the quagga lives together
with ruminants feeding on the same grass as itself excludes that
hypothesis, and we must look for some incompatibility of
character, as in the case of the hare and the rabbit. Cf., among
others, Clive Phillips-Wolley's Big Game Shooting (Badminton
Library), which contains excellent illustrations of various
species living together in East Africa.

19. Our Tungus hunter, who was going to marry, and therefore was
prompted by the desire of getting as many furs as he possibly
could, was beating the hill-sides all day long on horseback in
search of deer. His efforts were not rewarded by even so much as
one fallow deer killed every day; and he was an excellent hunter.

20. According to Samuel W. Baker, elephants combine in larger
groups than the "compound family." "I have frequently observed,"
he wrote, "in the portion of Ceylon known as the Park Country,
the tracks of elephants in great numbers which have evidently
been considerable herds that have joined together in a general
retreat from a ground which they considered insecure" (Wild
Beasts and their Ways, vol. i. p. 102).

21. Pigs, attacked by wolves, do the same (Hudson, l.c.).

22. Romanes's Animal Intelligence, p. 472.

23. Brehm, i. 82; Darwin's Descent of Man, ch. iii. The Kozloff
expedition of 1899-1901 have also had to sustain in Northern
Thibet a similar fight.

24. The more strange was it to read in the previously-mentioned
article by Huxley the following paraphrase of a well-known
sentence of Rousseau: "The first men who substituted mutual peace
for that of mutual war--whatever the motive which impelled them
to take that step--created society" (Nineteenth Century, Feb.
1888, p. 165). Society has not been created by man; it is
anterior to man.

25. Such monographs as the chapter on "Music and Dancing in
Nature" which we have in Hudson's Naturalist on the La Plata, and
Carl Gross' Play of Animals, have already thrown a considerable
light upon an instinct which is absolutely universal in Nature.

26. Not only numerous species of birds possess the habit of
assembling together--in many cases always at the same spot--
to indulge in antics and dancing performances, but W.H. Hudson's
experience is that nearly all mammals and birds ("probably there
are really no exceptions") indulge frequently in more or less
regular or set performances with or without sound, or composed of
sound exclusively (p. 264).

27. For the choruses of monkeys, see Brehm.

28. Haygarth, Bush Life in Australia, p. 58.

29. To quote but a few instances, a wounded badger was carried
away by another badger suddenly appearing on the scene; rats have
been seen feeding a blind couple (Seelenleben der Thiere, p. 64
seq.). Brehm himself saw two crows feeding in a hollow tree a
third crow which was wounded; its wound was several weeks old
(Hausfreund, 1874, 715; Buchner's Liebe, 203). Mr. Blyth saw
Indian crows feeding two or three blind comrades; and so on.

30. Man and Beast, p. 344.

31. L.H. Morgan, The American Beaver, 1868, p. 272; Descent of
Man, ch. iv.

32. One species of swallow is said to have caused the decrease of
another swallow species in North America; the recent increase of
the missel-thrush in Scotland has caused the decrease of the
song-thrush; the brown rat has taken the place of the black rat
in Europe; in Russia the small cockroach has everywhere driven
before it its greater congener; and in Australia the imported
hive-bee is rapidly exterminating the small stingless bee. Two
other cases, but relative to domesticated animals, are mentioned
in the preceding paragraph. While recalling these same facts,
A.R. Wallace remarks in a footnote relative to the Scottish
thrushes: "Prof. A. Newton, however, informs me that these
species do not interfere in the way here stated" (Darwinism, p.
34). As to the brown rat, it is known that, owing to its
amphibian habits, it usually stays in the lower parts of human
dwellings (low cellars, sewers, etc.), as also on the banks of
canals and rivers; it also undertakes distant migrations in
numberless bands. The black rat, on the contrary, prefers staying
in our dwellings themselves, under the floor, as well as in our
stables and barns. It thus is much more exposed to be
exterminated by man; and we cannot maintain, with any approach to
certainty, that the black rat is being either exterminated or
starved out by the brown rat and not by man.

33. "But it may be urged that when several closely-allied species
inhabit the same territory, we surely ought to find at the
present time many transitional forms.... By my theory these
allied species are descended from a common parent; and during the
process of modification, each has become adapted to the
conditions of life of its own region, and has supplanted and
exterminated its original parent-form and all the transitional
varieties between its past and present states" (Origin of
Species, 6th ed. p. 134); also p. 137, 296 (all paragraph "On

34. According to Madame Marie Pavloff, who has made a special
study of this subject, they migrated from Asia to Africa, stayed
there some time, and returned next to Asia. Whether this double
migration be confirmed or not, the fact of a former extension of
the ancestor of our horse over Asia, Africa, and America is
settled beyond doubt.

35. The Naturalist on the River Amazons, ii. 85, 95.

36. Dr. B. Altum, Waldbeschadigungen durch Thiere und Gegenmittel
(Berlin, 1889), pp. 207 seq.

37. Dr. B. Altum, ut supra, pp. 13 and 187.

38. A. Becker in the Bulletin de la Societe des Naturalistes de
Moscou, 1889, p. 625.

39. Russkaya Mysl, Sept. 1888: "The Theory of Beneficency of
Struggle for Life, being a Preface to various Treatises on
Botanics, Zoology, and Human Life," by an Old Transformist.

40. "One of the most frequent modes in which Natural Selection
acts is, by adapting some individuals of a species to a somewhat
different mode of life, whereby they are able to seize
unappropriated places in Nature" (Origin of Species, p. 145)--
in other words, to avoid competition.



Supposed war of each against all. Tribal origin of human
society. Late appearance of the separate family. Bushmen
and Hottentots. Australians, Papuas. Eskimos, Aleoutes.
Features of savage life difficult to understand for the European.
The Dayak's conception of justice. Common law.

The immense part played by mutual aid and mutual support in
the evolution of the animal world has been briefly analyzed in
the preceding chapters. We have now to cast a glance upon the
part played by the same agencies in the evolution of mankind. We
saw how few are the animal species which live an isolated life,
and how numberless are those which live in societies, either for
mutual defence, or for hunting and storing up food, or for
rearing their offspring, or simply for enjoying life in common.
We also saw that, though a good deal of warfare goes on between
different classes of animals, or different species, or even
different tribes of the same species, peace and mutual support
are the rule within the tribe or the species; and that those
species which best know how to combine, and to avoid competition,
have the best chances of survival and of a further progressive
development. They prosper, while the unsociable species decay.

It is evident that it would be quite contrary to all that we
know of nature if men were an exception to so general a rule: if
a creature so defenceless as man was at his beginnings should
have found his protection and his way to progress, not in mutual
support, like other animals, but in a reckless competition for
personal advantages, with no regard to the interests of the
species. To a mind accustomed to the idea of unity in nature,
such a proposition appears utterly indefensible. And yet,
improbable and unphilosophical as it is, it has never found a
lack of supporters. There always were writers who took a
pessimistic view of mankind. They knew it, more or less
superficially, through their own limited experience; they knew of
history what the annalists, always watchful of wars, cruelty, and
oppression, told of it, and little more besides; and they
concluded that mankind is nothing but a loose aggregation of
beings, always ready to fight with each other, and only prevented
from so doing by the intervention of some authority.

Hobbes took that position; and while some of his
eighteenth-century followers endeavoured to prove that at no
epoch of its existence--not even in its most primitive
condition--mankind lived in a state of perpetual warfare; that
men have been sociable even in "the state of nature," and that
want of knowledge, rather than the natural bad inclinations of
man, brought humanity to all the horrors of its early historical
life,--his idea was, on the contrary, that the so-called "state
of nature" was nothing but a permanent fight between individuals,
accidentally huddled together by the mere caprice of their
bestial existence. True, that science has made some progress
since Hobbes's time, and that we have safer ground to stand upon
than the speculations of Hobbes or Rousseau. But the Hobbesian
philosophy has plenty of admirers still; and we have had of late
quite a school of writers who, taking possession of Darwin's
terminology rather than of his leading ideas, made of it an
argument in favour of Hobbes's views upon primitive man, and even
succeeded in giving them a scientific appearance. Huxley, as is
known, took the lead of that school, and in a paper written in
1888 he represented primitive men as a sort of tigers or lions,
deprived of all ethical conceptions, fighting out the struggle
for existence to its bitter end, and living a life of "continual
free fight"; to quote his own words--"beyond the limited and,
temporary relations of the family, the Hobbesian war of each
against all was the normal state of existence."(1)

It has been remarked more than once that the chief error of
Hobbes, and the eighteenth-century philosophers as well, was to
imagine that mankind began its life in the shape of small
straggling families, something like the "limited and temporary"
families of the bigger carnivores, while in reality it is now
positively known that such was not the case. Of course, we have
no direct evidence as to the modes of life of the first man-like
beings. We are not yet settled even as to the time of their first
appearance, geologists being inclined at present to see their
traces in the pliocene, or even the miocene, deposits of the
Tertiary period. But we have the indirect method which permits us
to throw some light even upon that remote antiquity. A most
careful investigation into the social institutions of the lowest
races has been carried on during the last forty years, and it has
revealed among the present institutions of primitive folk some
traces of still older institutions which have long disappeared,
but nevertheless left unmistakable traces of their previous
existence. A whole science devoted to the embryology of human
institutions has thus developed in the hands of Bachofen,
MacLennan, Morgan, Edwin Tylor, Maine, Post, Kovalevsky, Lubbock,
and many others. And that science has established beyond any
doubt that mankind did not begin its life in the shape of small
isolated families.

Far from being a primitive form of organization, the family
is a very late product of human evolution. As far as we can go
back in the palaeo-ethnology of mankind, we find men living in
societies--in tribes similar to those of the highest mammals;
and an extremely slow and long evolution was required to bring
these societies to the gentile, or clan organization, which, in
its turn, had to undergo another, also very long evolution,
before the first germs of family, polygamous or monogamous, could
appear. Societies, bands, or tribes--not families--were thus
the primitive form of organization of mankind and its earliest
ancestors. That is what ethnology has come to after its
painstaking researches. And in so doing it simply came to what
might have been foreseen by the zoologist. None of the higher
mammals, save a few carnivores and a few undoubtedly-decaying
species of apes (orang-outans and gorillas), live in small
families, isolatedly straggling in the woods. All others live in
societies. And Darwin so well understood that isolately-living
apes never could have developed into man-like beings, that he was
inclined to consider man as descended from some comparatively
weak but social species, like the chimpanzee, rather than from
some stronger but unsociable species, like the gorilla.(2)
Zoology and palaeo-ethnology are thus agreed in considering that
the band, not the family, was the earliest form of social life.
The first human societies simply were a further development of
those societies which constitute the very essence of life of the
higher animals.(3)

If we now go over to positive evidence, we see that the
earliest traces of man, dating from the glacial or the early
post-glacial period, afford unmistakable proofs of man having
lived even then in societies. Isolated finds of stone implements,
even from the old stone age, are very rare; on the contrary,
wherever one flint implement is discovered others are sure to be
found, in most cases in very large quantities. At a time when men
were dwelling in caves, or under occasionally protruding rocks,
in company with mammals now extinct, and hardly succeeded in
making the roughest sorts of flint hatchets, they already knew
the advantages of life in societies. In the valleys of the
tributaries of the Dordogne, the surface of the rocks is in some
places entirely covered with caves which were inhabited by
palaeolithic men.(4) Sometimes the cave-dwellings are superposed
in storeys, and they certainly recall much more the nesting
colonies of swallows than the dens of carnivores. As to the flint
implements discovered in those caves, to use Lubbock's words,
"one may say without exaggeration that they are numberless." The
same is true of other palaeolithic stations. It also appears from
Lartet's investigations that the inhabitants of the Aurignac
region in the south of France partook of tribal meals at the
burial of their dead. So that men lived in societies, and had
germs of a tribal worship, even at that extremely remote epoch.

The same is still better proved as regards the later part of
the stone age. Traces of neolithic man have been found in
numberless quantities, so that we can reconstitute his manner of
life to a great extent. When the ice-cap (which must have spread
from the Polar regions as far south as middle France, middle
Germany, and middle Russia, and covered Canada as well as a good
deal of what is now the United States) began to melt away, the
surfaces freed from ice were covered, first, with swamps and
marshes, and later on with numberless lakes.(5) Lakes filled all
depressions of the valleys before their waters dug out those
permanent channels which, during a subsequent epoch, became our
rivers. And wherever we explore, in Europe, Asia, or America, the
shores of the literally numberless lakes of that period, whose
proper name would be the Lacustrine period, we find traces of
neolithic man. They are so numerous that we can only wonder at
the relative density of population at that time. The "stations"
of neolithic man closely follow each other on the terraces which
now mark the shores of the old lakes. And at each of those
stations stone implements appear in such numbers, that no doubt
is possible as to the length of time during which they were
inhabited by rather numerous tribes. Whole workshops of flint
implements, testifying of the numbers of workers who used to come
together, have been discovered by the archaeologists.

Traces of a more advanced period, already characterized by
the use of some pottery, are found in the shell-heaps of Denmark.
They appear, as is well known, in the shape of heaps from five to
ten feet thick, from 100 to 200 feet wide, and 1,000 feet or more
in length, and they are so common along some parts of the
sea-coast that for a long time they were considered as natural
growths. And yet they "contain nothing but what has been in some
way or other subservient to the use of man," and they are so
densely stuffed with products of human industry that, during a
two days' stay at Milgaard, Lubbock dug out no less than 191
pieces of stone-implements and four fragments of pottery.(6) The
very size and extension of the shell heaps prove that for
generations and generations the coasts of Denmark were inhabited
by hundreds of small tribes which certainly lived as peacefully
together as the Fuegian tribes, which also accumulate like
shellheaps, are living in our own times.

As to the lake-dwellings of Switzerland, which represent a
still further advance in civilization, they yield still better
evidence of life and work in societies. It is known that even
during the stone age the shores of the Swiss lakes were dotted
with a succession of villages, each of which consisted of several
huts, and was built upon a platform supported by numberless
pillars in the lake. No less than twenty-four, mostly stone age
villages, were discovered along the shores of Lake Leman,
thirty-two in the Lake of Constance, forty-six in the Lake of
Neuchatel, and so on; and each of them testifies to the immense
amount of labour which was spent in common by the tribe, not by
the family. It has even been asserted that the life of the
lake-dwellers must have been remarkably free of warfare. And so
it probably was, especially if we refer to the life of those
primitive folk who live until the present time in similar
villages built upon pillars on the sea coasts.

It is thus seen, even from the above rapid hints, that our
knowledge of primitive man is not so scanty after all, and that,
so far as it goes, it is rather opposed than favourable to the
Hobbesian speculations. Moreover, it may be supplemented, to a
great extent, by the direct observation of such primitive tribes
as now stand on the same level of civilization as the inhabitants
of Europe stood in prehistoric times.

That these primitive tribes which we find now are not
degenerated specimens of mankind who formerly knew a higher
civilization, as it has occasionally been maintained, has
sufficiently been proved by Edwin Tylor and Lubbock. However, to
the arguments already opposed to the degeneration theory, the
following may be added. Save a few tribes clustering in the
less-accessible highlands, the "savages" represent a girdle which
encircles the more or less civilized nations, and they occupy the
extremities of our continents, most of which have retained still,
or recently were bearing, an early post-glacial character. Such
are the Eskimos and their congeners in Greenland, Arctic America,
and Northern Siberia; and, in the Southern hemisphere, the
Australians, the Papuas, the Fuegians, and, partly, the Bushmen;
while within the civilized area, like primitive folk are only
found in the Himalayas, the highlands of Australasia, and the
plateaus of Brazil. Now it must be borne in mind that the glacial
age did not come to an end at once over the whole surface of the
earth. It still continues in Greenland. Therefore, at a time when
the littoral regions of the Indian Ocean, the Mediterranean, or
the Gulf of Mexico already enjoyed a warmer climate, and became
the seats of higher civilizations, immense territories in middle
Europe, Siberia, and Northern America, as well as in Patagonia,
Southern Africa, and Southern Australasia, remained in early
postglacial conditions which rendered them inaccessible to the
civilized nations of the torrid and sub-torrid zones. They were
at that time what the terrible urmans of North-West Siberia are
now, and their population, inaccessible to and untouched by
civilization, retained the characters of early post-glacial man.
Later on, when desiccation rendered these territories more
suitable for agriculture, they were peopled with more civilized
immigrants; and while part of their previous inhabitants were
assimilated by the new settlers, another part migrated further,
and settled where we find them. The territories they inhabit now
are still, or recently were, sub-glacial, as to their physical
features; their arts and implements are those of the neolithic
age; and, notwithstanding their racial differences, and the
distances which separate them, their modes of life and social
institutions bear a striking likeness. So we cannot but consider
them as fragments of the early post-glacial population of the now
civilized area.

The first thing which strikes us as soon as we begin studying
primitive folk is the complexity of the organization of marriage
relations under which they are living. With most of them the
family, in the sense we attribute to it, is hardly found in its
germs. But they are by no means loose aggregations of men and
women coming in a disorderly manner together in conformity with
their momentary caprices. All of them are under a certain
organization, which has been described by Morgan in its general
aspects as the "gentile," or clan organization.(7)

To tell the matter as briefly as possible, there is little
doubt that mankind has passed at its beginnings through a stage
which may be described as that of "communal marriage"; that is,
the whole tribe had husbands and wives in common with but little
regard to consanguinity. But it is also certain that some
restrictions to that free intercourse were imposed at a very
early period. Inter-marriage was soon prohibited between the sons
of one mother and her sisters, granddaughters, and aunts. Later
on it was prohibited between the sons and daughters of the same
mother, and further limitations did not fail to follow. The idea
of a gens, or clan, which embodied all presumed descendants from
one stock (or rather all those who gathered in one group) was
evolved, and marriage within the clan was entirely prohibited. It
still remained "communal," but the wife or the husband had to be
taken from another clan. And when a gens became too numerous, and
subdivided into several gentes, each of them was divided into
classes (usually four), and marriage was permitted only between
certain well-defined classes. That is the stage which we find now
among the Kamilaroi-speaking Australians. As to the family, its
first germs appeared amidst the clan organization. A woman who
was captured in war from some other clan, and who formerly would
have belonged to the whole gens, could be kept at a later period
by the capturer, under certain obligations towards the tribe. She
may be taken by him to a separate hut, after she had paid a
certain tribute to the clan, and thus constitute within the gens
a separate family, the appearance of which evidently was opening
a quite new phase of civilization.

Now, if we take into consideration that this complicated
organization developed among men who stood at the lowest known
degree of development, and that it maintained itself in societies
knowing no kind of authority besides the authority of public
opinion, we at once see how deeply inrooted social instincts must
have been in human nature, even at its lowest stages. A savage
who is capable of living under such an organization, and of
freely submitting to rules which continually clash with his
personal desires, certainly is not a beast devoid of ethical
principles and knowing no rein to its passions. But the fact
becomes still more striking if we consider the immense antiquity
of the clan organization. It is now known that the primitive
Semites, the Greeks of Homer, the prehistoric Romans, the Germans
of Tacitus, the early Celts and the early Slavonians, all have
had their own period of clan organization, closely analogous to
that of the Australians, the Red Indians, the Eskimos, and other
inhabitants of the "savage girdle."(9) So we must admit that
either the evolution of marriage laws went on on the same lines
among all human races, or the rudiments of the clan rules were
developed among some common ancestors of the Semites, the Aryans,
the Polynesians, etc., before their differentiation into separate
races took place, and that these rules were maintained, until
now, among races long ago separated from the common stock. Both
alternatives imply, however, an equally striking tenacity of the
institution--such a tenacity that no assaults of the individual
could break it down through the scores of thousands of years that
it was in existence. The very persistence of the clan
organization shows how utterly false it is to represent primitive
mankind as a disorderly agglomeration of individuals, who only
obey their individual passions, and take advantage of their
personal force and cunningness against all other representatives
of the species. Unbridled individualism is a modern growth, but
it is not characteristic of primitive mankind.(10)

Going now over to the existing savages, we may begin with the
Bushmen, who stand at a very low level of development--so low
indeed that they have no dwellings and sleep in holes dug in the
soil, occasionally protected by some screens. It is known that
when Europeans settled in their territory and destroyed deer, the
Bushmen began stealing the settlers' cattle, whereupon a war of
extermination, too horrible to be related here, was waged against
them. Five hundred Bushmen were slaughtered in 1774, three
thousand in 1808 and 1809 by the Farmers' Alliance, and so on.
They were poisoned like rats, killed by hunters lying in ambush
before the carcass of some animal, killed wherever met with.(11)
So that our knowledge of the Bushmen, being chiefly borrowed from
those same people who exterminated them, is necessarily limited.
But still we know that when the Europeans came, the Bushmen lived
in small tribes (or clans), sometimes federated together; that
they used to hunt in common, and divided the spoil without
quarrelling; that they never abandoned their wounded, and
displayed strong affection to their comrades. Lichtenstein has a
most touching story about a Bushman, nearly drowned in a river,
who was rescued by his companions. They took off their furs to
cover him, and shivered themselves; they dried him, rubbed him
before the fire, and smeared his body with warm grease till they
brought him back to life. And when the Bushmen found, in Johan
van der Walt, a man who treated them well, they expressed their
thankfulness by a most touching attachment to that man.(12)
Burchell and Moffat both represent them as goodhearted,
disinterested, true to their promises, and grateful,(13) all
qualities which could develop only by being practised within the
tribe. As to their love to children, it is sufficient to say that
when a European wished to secure a Bushman woman as a slave, he
stole her child: the mother was sure to come into slavery to
share the fate of her child.(14)

The same social manners characterize the Hottentots, who are
but a little more developed than the Bushmen. Lubbock describes
them as "the filthiest animals," and filthy they really are. A
fur suspended to the neck and worn till it falls to pieces is all
their dress; their huts are a few sticks assembled together and
covered with mats, with no kind of furniture within. And though
they kept oxen and sheep, and seem to have known the use of iron
before they made acquaintance with the Europeans, they still
occupy one of the lowest degrees of the human scale. And yet
those who knew them highly praised their sociability and
readiness to aid each other. If anything is given to a Hottentot,
he at once divides it among all present--a habit which, as is
known, so much struck Darwin among the Fuegians. He cannot eat
alone, and, however hungry, he calls those who pass by to share
his food. And when Kolben expressed his astonishment thereat, he
received the answer. "That is Hottentot manner." But this is not
Hottentot manner only: it is an all but universal habit among the
"savages." Kolben, who knew the Hottentots well and did not pass
by their defects in silence, could not praise their tribal
morality highly enough.

"Their word is sacred," he wrote. They know "nothing of the
corruptness and faithless arts of Europe." "They live in great
tranquillity and are seldom at war with their neighbours." They
are "all kindness and goodwill to one another.. One of the
greatest pleasures of the Hottentots certainly lies in their
gifts and good offices to one another." "The integrity of the
Hottentots, their strictness and celerity in the exercise of
justice, and their chastity, are things in which they excel all
or most nations in the world."(15)

Tachart, Barrow, and Moodie(16) fully confirm Kolben's
testimony. Let me only remark that when Kolben wrote that "they
are certainly the most friendly, the most liberal and the most
benevolent people to one another that ever appeared on the earth"
(i. 332), he wrote a sentence which has continually appeared
since in the description of savages. When first meeting with
primitive races, the Europeans usually make a caricature of their
life; but when an intelligent man has stayed among them for a
longer time, he generally describes them as the "kindest" or "the
gentlest" race on the earth. These very same words have been
applied to the Ostyaks, the Samoyedes, the Eskimos, the Dayaks,
the Aleoutes, the Papuas, and so on, by the highest authorities.
I also remember having read them applied to the Tunguses, the
Tchuktchis, the Sioux, and several others. The very frequency of
that high commendation already speaks volumes in itself.

The natives of Australia do not stand on a higher level of
development than their South African brothers. Their huts are of
the same character. very often simple screens are the only
protection against cold winds. In their food they are most
indifferent: they devour horribly putrefied corpses, and
cannibalism is resorted to in times of scarcity. When first
discovered by Europeans, they had no implements but in stone or
bone, and these were of the roughest description. Some tribes had
even no canoes, and did not know barter-trade. And yet, when
their manners and customs were carefully studied, they proved to
be living under that elaborate clan organization which I have
mentioned on a preceding page.(17)

The territory they inhabit is usually allotted between the
different gentes or clans; but the hunting and fishing
territories of each clan are kept in common, and the produce of
fishing and hunting belongs to the whole clan; so also the
fishing and hunting implements.(18) The meals are taken in
common. Like many other savages, they respect certain regulations
as to the seasons when certain gums and grasses may be
collected.(19) As to their morality altogether, we cannot do
better than transcribe the following answers given to the
questions of the Paris Anthropological Society by Lumholtz, a
missionary who sojourned in North Queensland:(20)--

"The feeling of friendship is known among them; it is strong.
Weak people are usually supported; sick people are very well
attended to; they never are abandoned or killed. These tribes are
cannibals, but they very seldom eat members of their own tribe
(when immolated on religious principles, I suppose); they eat
strangers only. The parents love their children, play with them,
and pet them. Infanticide meets with common approval. Old people
are very well treated, never put to death. No religion, no idols,
only a fear of death. Polygamous marriage. quarrels arising
within the tribe are settled by means of duels fought with wooden
swords and shields. No slaves; no culture of any kind; no
pottery; no dress, save an apron sometimes worn by women. The
clan consists of two hundred individuals, divided into four
classes of men and four of women; marriage being only permitted
within the usual classes, and never within the gens."

For the Papuas, closely akin to the above, we have the
testimony of G.L. Bink, who stayed in New Guinea, chiefly in
Geelwink Bay, from 1871 to 1883. Here is the essence of his
answers to the same questioner:(21)--

"They are sociable and cheerful; they laugh very much. Rather
timid than courageous. Friendship is relatively strong among
persons belonging to different tribes, and still stronger within
the tribe. A friend will often pay the debt of his friend, the
stipulation being that the latter will repay it without interest
to the children of the lender. They take care of the ill and the
old; old people are never abandoned, and in no case are they
killed--unless it be a slave who was ill for a long time. War
prisoners are sometimes eaten. The children are very much petted
and loved. Old and feeble war prisoners are killed, the others
are sold as slaves. They have no religion, no gods, no idols, no
authority of any description; the oldest man in the family is the
judge. In cases of adultery a fine is paid, and part of it goes
to the negoria (the community). The soil is kept in common, but
the crop belongs to those who have grown it. They have pottery,
and know barter-trade--the custom being that the merchant gives
them the goods, whereupon they return to their houses and bring
the native goods required by the merchant; if the latter cannot
be obtained, the European goods are returned.(22) They are
head-hunters, and in so doing they prosecute blood revenge.
'Sometimes,' Finsch says, 'the affair is referred to the Rajah of
Namototte, who terminates it by imposing a fine.'"

When well treated, the Papuas are very kind. Miklukho-Maclay
landed on the eastern coast of New Guinea, followed by one single
man, stayed for two years among tribes reported to be cannibals,
and left them with regret; he returned again to stay one year
more among them, and never had he any conflict to complain of.
True that his rule was never--under no pretext whatever--to
say anything which was not truth, nor make any promise which he
could not keep. These poor creatures, who even do not know how to
obtain fire, and carefully maintain it in their huts, live under
their primitive communism, without any chiefs; and within their
villages they have no quarrels worth speaking of. They work in
common, just enough to get the food of the day; they rear their
children in common; and in the evenings they dress themselves as
coquettishly as they can, and dance. Like all savages, they are
fond of dancing. Each village has its barla, or balai--the
"long house," "longue maison," or "grande maison"--for the
unmarried men, for social gatherings, and for the discussion of
common affairs--again a trait which is common to most
inhabitants of the Pacific Islands, the Eskimos, the Red Indians,
and so on. Whole groups of villages are on friendly terms, and
visit each other en bloc.

Unhappily, feuds are not uncommon--not in consequence of
"Overstocking of the area," or "keen competition," and like
inventions of a mercantile century, but chiefly in consequence of
superstition. As soon as any one falls ill, his friends and
relatives come together, and deliberately discuss who might be
the cause of the illness. All possible enemies are considered,
every one confesses of his own petty quarrels, and finally the
real cause is discovered. An enemy from the next village has
called it down, and a raid upon that village is decided upon.
Therefore, feuds are rather frequent, even between the coast
villages, not to say a word of the cannibal mountaineers who are
considered as real witches and enemies, though, on a closer
acquaintance, they prove to be exactly the same sort of people as
their neighbours on the seacoast.(23)

Many striking pages could be written about the harmony which
prevails in the villages of the Polynesian inhabitants of the
Pacific Islands. But they belong to a more advanced stage of
civilization. So we shall now take our illustrations from the far
north. I must mention, however, before leaving the Southern
Hemisphere, that even the Fuegians, whose reputation has been so
bad, appear under a much better light since they begin to be
better known. A few French missionaries who stay among them "know
of no act of malevolence to complain of." In their clans,
consisting of from 120 to 150 souls, they practise the same
primitive communism as the Papuas; they share everything in
common, and treat their old people very well. Peace prevails
among these tribes.(24) With the Eskimos and their nearest
congeners, the Thlinkets, the Koloshes, and the Aleoutes, we find
one of the nearest illustrations of what man may have been during
the glacial age. Their implements hardly differ from those of
palaeolithic man, and some of their tribes do not yet know
fishing: they simply spear the fish with a kind of harpoon.(25)
They know the use of iron, but they receive it from the
Europeans, or find it on wrecked ships. Their social organization
is of a very primitive kind, though they already have emerged
from the stage of "communal marriage," even under the gentile
restrictions. They live in families, but the family bonds are
often broken; husbands and wives are often exchanged.(26) The
families, however, remain united in clans, and how could it be
otherwise? How could they sustain the hard struggle for life
unless by closely combining their forces? So they do, and the
tribal bonds are closest where the struggle for life is hardest,
namely, in North-East Greenland. The "long house" is their usual
dwelling, and several families lodge in it, separated from each
other by small partitions of ragged furs, with a common passage
in the front. Sometimes the house has the shape of a cross, and
in such case a common fire is kept in the centre. The German
Expedition which spent a winter close by one of those "long
houses" could ascertain that "no quarrel disturbed the peace, no
dispute arose about the use of this narrow space" throughout the
long winter. "Scolding, or even unkind words, are considered as a
misdemeanour, if not produced under the legal form of process,
namely, the nith-song."(27) Close cohabitation and close
interdependence are sufficient for maintaining century after
century that deep respect for the interests of the community
which is characteristic of Eskimo life. Even in the larger
communities of Eskimos, "public opinion formed the real
judgment-seat, the general punishment consisting in the offenders
being shamed in the eyes of the people."(28)

Eskimo life is based upon communism. What is obtained by
hunting and fishing belongs to the clan. But in several tribes,
especially in the West, under the influence of the Danes, private
property penetrates into their institutions. However, they have
an original means for obviating the inconveniences arising from a
personal accumulation of wealth which would soon destroy their
tribal unity. When a man has grown rich, he convokes the folk of
his clan to a great festival, and, after much eating, distributes
among them all his fortune. On the Yukon river, Dall saw an
Aleonte family distributing in this way ten guns, ten full fur
dresses, 200 strings of beads, numerous blankets, ten wolf furs,
200 beavers, and 500 zibelines. After that they took off their
festival dresses, gave them away, and, putting on old ragged
furs, addressed a few words to their kinsfolk, saying that though
they are now poorer than any one of them, they have won their
friendship.(29) Like distributions of wealth appear to be a
regular habit with the Eskimos, and to take place at a certain
season, after an exhibition of all that has been obtained during
the year.(30) In my opinion these distributions reveal a very
old institution, contemporaneous with the first apparition of
personal wealth; they must have been a means for re-establishing
equality among the members of the clan, after it had been
disturbed by the enrichment of the few. The periodical
redistribution of land and the periodical abandonment of all
debts which took place in historical times with so many different
races (Semites, Aryans, etc.), must have been a survival of that
old custom. And the habit of either burying with the dead, or
destroying upon his grave, all that belonged to him personally--
a habit which we find among all primitive races--must have
had the same origin. In fact, while everything that belongs
personally to the dead is burnt or broken upon his grave, nothing
is destroyed of what belonged to him in common with the tribe,
such as boats, or the communal implements of fishing. The
destruction bears upon personal property alone. At a later epoch
this habit becomes a religious ceremony. It receives a mystical
interpretation, and is imposed by religion, when public opinion
alone proves incapable of enforcing its general observance. And,
finally, it is substituted by either burning simple models of the
dead man's property (as in China), or by simply carrying his
property to the grave and taking it back to his house after the
burial ceremony is over--a habit which still prevails with the
Europeans as regards swords, crosses, and other marks of public

The high standard of the tribal morality of the Eskimos has
often been mentioned in general literature. Nevertheless the
following remarks upon the manners of the Aleoutes--nearly akin
to the Eskimos--will better illustrate savage morality as a
whole. They were written, after a ten years' stay among the
Aleoutes, by a most remarkable man--the Russian missionary,
Veniaminoff. I sum them up, mostly in his own words:--

Endurability (he wrote) is their chief feature. It is simply
colossal. Not only do they bathe every morning in the frozen sea,
and stand naked on the beach, inhaling the icy wind, but their
endurability, even when at hard work on insufficient food,
surpasses all that can be imagined. During a protracted scarcity
of food, the Aleoute cares first for his children; he gives them
all he has, and himself fasts. They are not inclined to stealing;
that was remarked even by the first Russian immigrants. Not that
they never steal; every Aleoute would confess having sometime
stolen something, but it is always a trifle; the whole is so
childish. The attachment of the parents to their children is
touching, though it is never expressed in words or pettings. The
Aleoute is with difficulty moved to make a promise, but once he
has made it he will keep it whatever may happen. (An Aleoute made
Veniaminoff a gift of dried fish, but it was forgotten on the
beach in the hurry of the departure. He took it home. The next
occasion to send it to the missionary was in January; and in
November and December there was a great scarcity of food in the
Aleoute encampment. But the fish was never touched by the
starving people, and in January it was sent to its destination.)
Their code of morality is both varied and severe. It is
considered shameful to be afraid of unavoidable death; to ask
pardon from an enemy; to die without ever having killed an enemy;
to be convicted of stealing; to capsize a boat in the harbour; to
be afraid of going to sea in stormy weather. to be the first in a
party on a long journey to become an invalid in case of scarcity
of food; to show greediness when spoil is divided, in which case
every one gives his own part to the greedy man to shame him; to
divulge a public secret to his wife; being two persons on a
hunting expedition, not to offer the best game to the partner; to
boast of his own deeds, especially of invented ones; to scold any
one in scorn. Also to beg; to pet his wife in other people's
presence, and to dance with her to bargain personally: selling
must always be made through a third person, who settles the
price. For a woman it is a shame not to know sewing, dancing and
all kinds of woman's work; to pet her husband and children, or
even to speak to her husband in the presence of a stranger.(32)

Such is Aleoute morality, which might also be further
illustrated by their tales and legends. Let me also add that when
Veniaminoff wrote (in 1840) one murder only had been committed
since the last century in a population of 60,000 people, and that
among 1,800 Aleoutes not one single common law offence had been
known for forty years. This will not seem strange if we remark
that scolding, scorning, and the use of rough words are
absolutely unknown in Aleoute life. Even their children never
fight, and never abuse each other in words. All they may say is,
"Your mother does not know sewing," or "Your father is blind of
one eye."(33)

Many features of savage life remain, however, a puzzle to
Europeans. The high development of tribal solidarity and the good
feelings with which primitive folk are animated towards each
other, could be illustrated by any amount of reliable testimony.
And yet it is not the less certain that those same savages
practise infanticide; that in some cases they abandon their old
people, and that they blindly obey the rules of blood-revenge. We
must then explain the coexistence of facts which, to the European
mind, seem so contradictory at the first sight. I have just
mentioned how the Aleoute father starves for days and weeks, and
gives everything eatable to his child; and how the Bushman mother
becomes a slave to follow her child; and I might fill pages with
illustrations of the really tender relations existing among the
savages and their children. Travellers continually mention them
incidentally. Here you read about the fond love of a mother;
there you see a father wildly running through the forest and
carrying upon his shoulders his child bitten by a snake; or a
missionary tells you the despair of the parents at the loss of a
child whom he had saved, a few years before, from being immolated
at its birth. you learn that the "savage" mothers usually nurse
their children till the age of four, and that, in the New
Hebrides, on the loss of a specially beloved child, its mother,
or aunt, will kill herself to take care of it in the other
world.(34) And so on.

Like facts are met with by the score; so that, when we see
that these same loving parents practise infanticide, we are bound
to recognize that the habit (whatever its ulterior
transformations may be) took its origin under the sheer pressure
of necessity, as an obligation towards the tribe, and a means for
rearing the already growing children. The savages, as a rule, do
not "multiply without stint," as some English writers put it. On
the contrary, they take all kinds of measures for diminishing the
birth-rate. A whole series of restrictions, which Europeans
certainly would find extravagant, are imposed to that effect, and
they are strictly obeyed. But notwithstanding that, primitive
folk cannot rear all their children. However, it has been
remarked that as soon as they succeed in increasing their regular
means of subsistence, they at once begin to abandon the practice
of infanticide. On the whole, the parents obey that obligation
reluctantly, and as soon as they can afford it they resort to all
kinds of compromises to save the lives of their new-born. As has
been so well pointed out by my friend Elie Reclus,(35) they
invent the lucky and unlucky days of births, and spare the
children born on the lucky days; they try to postpone the
sentence for a few hours, and then say that if the baby has lived
one day it must live all its natural life.(36) They hear the
cries of the little ones coming from the forest, and maintain
that, if heard, they forbode a misfortune for the tribe; and as
they have no baby-farming nor creches for getting rid of the
children, every one of them recoils before the necessity of
performing the cruel sentence; they prefer to expose the baby in
the wood rather than to take its life by violence. Ignorance, not
cruelty, maintains infanticide; and, instead of moralizing the
savages with sermons, the missionaries would do better to follow
the example of Veniaminoff, who, every year till his old age,
crossed the sea of Okhotsk in a miserable boat, or travelled on
dogs among his Tchuktchis, supplying them with bread and fishing
implements. He thus had really stopped infanticide.

The same is true as regards what superficial observers
describe as parricide. We just now saw that the habit of
abandoning old people is not so widely spread as some writers
have maintained it to be. It has been extremely exaggerated, but
it is occasionally met with among nearly all savages; and in such
cases it has the same origin as the exposure of children. When a
"savage" feels that he is a burden to his tribe; when every
morning his share of food is taken from the mouths of the
children--and the little ones are not so stoical as their
fathers: they cry when they are hungry; when every day he has to
be carried across the stony beach, or the virgin forest, on the
shoulders of younger people there are no invalid carriages, nor
destitutes to wheel them in savage lands--he begins to repeat
what the old Russian peasants say until now-a-day. "Tchujoi vek
zayedayu, Pora na pokoi!" ("I live other people's life: it is
time to retire!") And he retires. He does what the soldier does
in a similar case. When the salvation of his detachment depends
upon its further advance, and he can move no more, and knows that
he must die if left behind, the soldier implores his best friend
to render him the last service before leaving the encampment. And
the friend, with shivering hands, discharges his gun into the
dying body. So the savages do. The old man asks himself to die;
he himself insists upon this last duty towards the community, and
obtains the consent of the tribe; he digs out his grave; he
invites his kinsfolk to the last parting meal. His father has
done so, it is now his turn; and he parts with his kinsfolk with
marks of affection. The savage so much considers death as part of
his duties towards his community, that he not only refuses to be
rescued (as Moffat has told), but when a woman who had to be
immolated on her husband's grave was rescued by missionaries, and
was taken to an island, she escaped in the night, crossed a broad
sea-arm, swimming and rejoined her tribe, to die on the
grave.(37) It has become with them a matter of religion. But the
savages, as a rule, are so reluctant to take any one's life
otherwise than in fight, that none of them will take upon himself
to shed human blood, and they resort to all kinds of stratagems,
which have been so falsely interpreted. In most cases, they
abandon the old man in the wood, after having given him more than
his share of the common food. Arctic expeditions have done the
same when they no more could carry their invalid comrades. "Live
a few days more. may be there will be some unexpected rescue!"
West European men of science, when coming across these facts, are
absolutely unable to stand them; they can not reconcile them with
a high development of tribal morality, and they prefer to cast a
doubt upon the exactitude of absolutely reliable observers,
instead of trying to explain the parallel existence of the two
sets of facts: a high tribal morality together with the
abandonment of the parents and infanticide. But if these same
Europeans were to tell a savage that people, extremely amiable,
fond of their own children, and so impressionable that they cry
when they see a misfortune simulated on the stage, are living in
Europe within a stone's throw from dens in which children die
from sheer want of food, the savage, too, would not understand
them. I remember how vainly I tried to make some of my Tungus
friends understand our civilization of individualism: they could
not, and they resorted to the most fantastical suggestions. The
fact is that a savage, brought up in ideas of a tribal solidarity
in everything for bad and for good, is as incapable of
understanding a "moral" European, who knows nothing of that
solidarity, as the average European is incapable of understanding
the savage. But if our scientist had lived amidst a half-starving
tribe which does not possess among them all one man's food for so
much as a few days to come, he probably might have understood
their motives. So also the savage, if he had stayed among us, and
received our education, may be, would understand our European
indifference towards our neighbours, and our Royal Commissions
for the prevention of "babyfarming." "Stone houses make stony
hearts," the Russian peasants say. But he ought to live in a
stone house first.

Similar remarks must be made as regards cannibalism. Taking
into account all the facts which were brought to light during a
recent controversy on this subject at the Paris Anthropological
Society, and many incidental remarks scattered throughout the
"savage" literature, we are bound to recognize that that practice
was brought into existence by sheer necessity. but that it was
further developed by superstition and religion into the
proportions it attained in Fiji or in Mexico. It is a fact that
until this day many savages are compelled to devour corpses in
the most advanced state of putrefaction, and that in cases of
absolute scarcity some of them have had to disinter and to feed
upon human corpses, even during an epidemic. These are
ascertained facts. But if we now transport ourselves to the
conditions which man had to face during the glacial period, in a
damp and cold climate, with but little vegetable food at his
disposal; if we take into account the terrible ravages which
scurvy still makes among underfed natives, and remember that meat
and fresh blood are the only restoratives which they know, we
must admit that man, who formerly was a granivorous animal,
became a flesh-eater during the glacial period. He found plenty
of deer at that time, but deer often migrate in the Arctic
regions, and sometimes they entirely abandon a territory for a
number of years. In such cases his last resources disappeared.
During like hard trials, cannibalism has been resorted to even by
Europeans, and it was resorted to by the savages. Until the
present time, they occasionally devour the corpses of their own
dead: they must have devoured then the corpses of those who had
to die. Old people died, convinced that by their death they were
rendering a last service to the tribe. This is why cannibalism is
represented by some savages as of divine origin, as something
that has been ordered by a messenger from the sky. But later on
it lost its character of necessity, and survived as a
superstition. Enemies had to be eaten in order to inherit their
courage; and, at a still later epoch, the enemy's eye or heart
was eaten for the same purpose; while among other tribes, already
having a numerous priesthood and a developed mythology, evil
gods, thirsty for human blood, were invented, and human
sacrifices required by the priests to appease the gods. In this
religious phase of its existence, cannibalism attained its most
revolting characters. Mexico is a well-known example; and in
Fiji, where the king could eat any one of his subjects, we also
find a mighty cast of priests, a complicated theology,(38) and a
full development of autocracy. Originated by necessity,
cannibalism became, at a later period, a religious institution,
and in this form it survived long after it had disappeared from
among tribes which certainly practised it in former times, but
did not attain the theocratical stage of evolution. The same
remark must be made as regards infanticide and the abandonment of
parents. In some cases they also have been maintained as a
survival of olden times, as a religiously-kept tradition of the

I will terminate my remarks by mentioning another custom
which also is a source of most erroneous conclusions. I mean the
practice of blood-revenge. All savages are under the impression
that blood shed must be revenged by blood. If any one has been
killed, the murderer must die; if any one has been wounded, the
aggressor's blood must be shed. There is no exception to the
rule, not even for animals; so the hunter's blood is shed on his
return to the village when he has shed the blood of an animal.
That is the savages' conception of justice--a conception which
yet prevails in Western Europe as regards murder. Now, when both
the offender and the offended belong to the same tribe, the tribe
and the offended person settle the affair.(39) But when the
offender belongs to another tribe, and that tribe, for one reason
or another, refuses a compensation, then the offended tribe
decides to take the revenge itself. Primitive folk so much
consider every one's acts as a tribal affair, dependent upon
tribal approval, that they easily think the clan responsible for
every one's acts. Therefore, the due revenge may be taken upon
any member of the offender's clan or relatives.(40) It may often
happen, however, that the retaliation goes further than the
offence. In trying to inflict a wound, they may kill the
offender, or wound him more than they intended to do, and this
becomes a cause for a new feud, so that the primitive legislators
were careful in requiring the retaliation to be limited to an eye
for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, and blood for blood.(41)

It is remarkable, however, that with most primitive folk like
feuds are infinitely rarer than might be expected; though with
some of them they may attain abnormal proportions, especially
with mountaineers who have been driven to the highlands by
foreign invaders, such as the mountaineers of Caucasia, and
especially those of Borneo--the Dayaks. With the Dayaks--we
were told lately--the feuds had gone so far that a young man
could neither marry nor be proclaimed of age before he had
secured the head of an enemy. This horrid practice was fully
described in a modern English work.(42) It appears, however,
that this affirmation was a gross exaggeration. Moreover, Dayak
"head-hunting" takes quite another aspect when we learn that the
supposed "headhunter" is not actuated at all by personal passion.
He acts under what he considers as a moral obligation towards his
tribe, just as the European judge who, in obedience to the same,
evidently wrong, principle of "blood for blood," hands over the
condemned murderer to the hangman. Both the Dayak and the judge
would even feel remorse if sympathy moved them to spare the
murderer. That is why the Dayaks, apart from the murders they
commit when actuated by their conception of justice, are
depicted, by all those who know them, as a most sympathetic
people. Thus Carl Bock, the same author who has given such a
terrible picture of head-hunting, writes:

"As regards morality, I am bound to assign to the Dayaks a high
place in the scale of civilization.... Robberies and theft are
entirely unknown among them. They also are very truthful.... If I
did not always get the 'whole truth,' I always got, at least,
nothing but the truth from them. I wish I could say the same of
the Malays" (pp. 209 and 210).

Bock's testimony is fully corroborated by that of Ida
Pfeiffer. "I fully recognized," she wrote, "that I should be
pleased longer to travel among them. I usually found them honest,
good, and reserved... much more so than any other nation I
know."(43) Stoltze used almost the same language when speaking
of them. The Dayaks usually have but one wife, and treat her
well. They are very sociable, and every morning the whole clan
goes out for fishing, hunting, or gardening, in large parties.
Their villages consist of big huts, each of which is inhabited by
a dozen families, and sometimes by several hundred persons,
peacefully living together. They show great respect for their
wives, and are fond of their children; and when one of them falls
ill, the women nurse him in turn. As a rule they are very
moderate in eating and drinking. Such is the Dayak in his real
daily life.

It would be a tedious repetition if more illustrations from
savage life were given. Wherever we go we find the same sociable
manners, the same spirit of solidarity. And when we endeavour to
penetrate into the darkness of past ages, we find the same tribal
life, the same associations of men, however primitive, for mutual
support. Therefore, Darwin was quite right when he saw in man's
social qualities the chief factor for his further evolution, and
Darwin's vulgarizers are entirely wrong when they maintain the

The small strength and speed of man (he wrote), his want of
natural weapons, etc., are more than counterbalanced, firstly, by
his intellectual faculties (which, he remarked on another page,
have been chiefly or even exclusively gained for the benefit of
the community). and secondly, by his social qualities, which led
him to give and receive aid from his fellow men.(44)

In the last century the "savage" and his "life in the state
of nature" were idealized. But now men of science have gone to
the opposite extreme, especially since some of them, anxious to
prove the animal origin of man, but not conversant with the
social aspects of animal life, began to charge the savage with
all imaginable "bestial" features. It is evident, however, that
this exaggeration is even more unscientific than Rousseau's
idealization. The savage is not an ideal of virtue, nor is he an
ideal of "savagery." But the primitive man has one quality,
elaborated and maintained by the very necessities of his hard
struggle for life--he identifies his own existence with that of
his tribe; and without that quality mankind never would have
attained the level it has attained now.

Primitive folk, as has been already said, so much identify
their lives with that of the tribe, that each of their acts,
however insignificant, is considered as a tribal affair. Their
whole behaviour is regulated by an infinite series of unwritten
rules of propriety which are the fruit of their common experience
as to what is good or bad--that is, beneficial or harmful for
their own tribe. Of course, the reasonings upon which their rules
of propriety are based sometimes are absurd in the extreme. Many
of them originate in superstition; and altogether, in whatever
the savage does, he sees but the immediate consequences of his
acts; he cannot foresee their indirect and ulterior consequences--
thus simply exaggerating a defect with which Bentham
reproached civilized legislators. But, absurd or not, the savage
obeys the prescriptions of the common law, however inconvenient
they may be. He obeys them even more blindly than the civilized
man obeys the prescriptions of the written law. His common law is
his religion; it is his very habit of living. The idea of the
clan is always present to his mind, and self-restriction and
self-sacrifice in the interest of the clan are of daily
occurrence. If the savage has infringed one of the smaller tribal
rules, he is prosecuted by the mockeries of the women. If the
infringement is grave, he is tortured day and night by the fear
of having called a calamity upon his tribe. If he has wounded by
accident any one of his own clan, and thus has committed the
greatest of all crimes, he grows quite miserable: he runs away in
the woods, and is ready to commit suicide, unless the tribe
absolves him by inflicting upon him a physical pain and sheds
some of his own blood.(45) Within the tribe everything is shared
in common; every morsel of food is divided among all present; and
if the savage is alone in the woods, he does not begin eating
before he has loudly shouted thrice an invitation to any one who
may hear his voice to share his meal.(46)

In short, within the tribe the rule of "each for all" is
supreme, so long as the separate family has not yet broken up the
tribal unity. But that rule is not extended to the neighbouring
clans, or tribes, even when they are federated for mutual
protection. Each tribe, or clan, is a separate unity. Just as
among mammals and birds, the territory is roughly allotted among
separate tribes, and, except in times of war, the boundaries are
respected. On entering the territory of his neighbours one must
show that he has no bad intentions. The louder one heralds his
coming, the more confidence he wins; and if he enters a house, he
must deposit his hatchet at the entrance. But no tribe is bound
to share its food with the others: it may do so or it may not.
Therefore the life of the savage is divided into two sets of
actions, and appears under two different ethical aspects: the
relations within the tribe, and the relations with the outsiders;
and (like our international law) the "inter-tribal" law widely
differs from the common law. Therefore, when it comes to a war
the most revolting cruelties may be considered as so many claims
upon the admiration of the tribe. This double conception of
morality passes through the whole evolution of mankind, and
maintains itself until now. We Europeans have realized some
progress--not immense, at any rate--in eradicating that
double conception of ethics; but it also must be said that while
we have in some measure extended our ideas of solidarity--in
theory, at least--over the nation, and partly over other
nations as well, we have lessened the bonds of solidarity within
our own nations, and even within our own families.

The appearance of a separate family amidst the clan
necessarily disturbs the established unity. A separate family
means separate property and accumulation of wealth. We saw how
the Eskimos obviate its inconveniences; and it is one of the most
interesting studies to follow in the course of ages the different
institutions (village communities, guilds, and so on) by means of
which the masses endeavoured to maintain the tribal unity,
notwithstanding the agencies which were at work to break it down.
On the other hand, the first rudiments of knowledge which
appeared at an extremely remote epoch, when they confounded
themselves with witchcraft, also became a power in the hands of
the individual which could be used against the tribe. They were
carefully kept in secrecy, and transmitted to the initiated only,
in the secret societies of witches, shamans, and priests, which
we find among all savages. By the same time, wars and invasions
created military authority, as also castes of warriors, whose
associations or clubs acquired great powers. However, at no
period of man's life were wars the normal state of existence.
While warriors exterminated each other, and the priests
celebrated their massacres, the masses continued to live their
daily life, they prosecuted their daily toil. And it is one of
the most interesting studies to follow that life of the masses;
to study the means by which they maintained their own social
organization, which was based upon their own conceptions of
equity, mutual aid, and mutual support--of common law, in a
word, even when they were submitted to the most ferocious
theocracy or autocracy in the State.


1. Nineteenth Century, February 1888, p. 165.

2. The Descent of Man, end of ch. ii. pp. 63 and 64 of the 2nd

3. Anthropologists who fully endorse the above views as regards
man nevertheless intimate, sometimes, that the apes live in
polygamous families, under the leadership of "a strong and
jealous male." I do not know how far that assertion is based upon
conclusive observation. But the passage from Brehm's Life of
Animals, which is sometimes referred to, can hardly be taken as
very conclusive. It occurs in his general description of monkeys;
but his more detailed descriptions of separate species either
contradict it or do not confirm it. Even as regards the
cercopitheques, Brehm is affirmative in saying that they "nearly
always live in bands, and very seldom in families" (French
edition, p. 59). As to other species, the very numbers of their
bands, always containing many males, render the "polygamous
family" more than doubtful further observation is evidently

4. Lubbock, Prehistoric Times, fifth edition, 1890.

5. That extension of the ice-cap is admitted by most of the
geologists who have specially studied the glacial age. The
Russian Geological Survey already has taken this view as regards
Russia, and most German specialists maintain it as regards
Germany. The glaciation of most of the central plateau of France
will not fail to be recognized by the French geologists, when
they pay more attention to the glacial deposits altogether.

6. Prehistoric Times, pp. 232 and 242.

7. Bachofen, Das Mutterrecht, Stuttgart, 1861; Lewis H. Morgan,
Ancient Society, or Researches in the Lines of Human Progress
from Savagery through Barbarism to Civilization, New York, 1877;
J.F. MacLennan, Studies in Ancient History, 1st series, new
edition, 1886; 2nd series, 1896; L. Fison and A.W. Howitt,
Kamilaroi and Kurnai, Melbourne. These four writers--as has
been very truly remarked by Giraud Teulon,--starting from
different facts and different general ideas, and following
different methods, have come to the same conclusion. To Bachofen
we owe the notion of the maternal family and the maternal
succession; to Morgan--the system of kinship, Malayan and
Turanian, and a highly gifted sketch of the main phases of human
evolution; to MacLennan--the law of exogeny; and to Fison and
Howitt--the cuadro, or scheme, of the conjugal societies in
Australia. All four end in establishing the same fact of the
tribal origin of the family. When Bachofen first drew attention
to the maternal family, in his epoch-making work, and Morgan
described the clan-organization,--both concurring to the almost
general extension of these forms and maintaining that the
marriage laws lie at the very basis of the consecutive steps of
human evolution, they were accused of exaggeration. However, the
most careful researches prosecuted since, by a phalanx of
students of ancient law, have proved that all races of mankind
bear traces of having passed through similar stages of
development of marriage laws, such as we now see in force among
certain savages. See the works of Post, Dargun, Kovalevsky,
Lubbock, and their numerous followers: Lippert, Mucke, etc.

8. None

9. For the Semites and the Aryans, see especially Prof. Maxim
Kovalevsky's Primitive Law (in Russian), Moscow, 1886 and 1887.
Also his Lectures delivered at Stockholm (Tableau des origines et
de l'evolution de la famille et de la propriete, Stockholm,
1890), which represents an admirable review of the whole
question. Cf. also A. Post, Die Geschlechtsgenossenschaft der
Urzeit, Oldenburg 1875.

10. It would be impossible to enter here into a discussion of the
origin of the marriage restrictions. Let me only remark that a
division into groups, similar to Morgan's Hawaian, exists among
birds; the young broods live together separately from their
parents. A like division might probably be traced among some
mammals as well. As to the prohibition of relations between
brothers and sisters, it is more likely to have arisen, not from
speculations about the bad effects of consanguinity, which
speculations really do not seem probable, but to avoid the
too-easy precocity of like marriages. Under close cohabitation it
must have become of imperious necessity. I must also remark that
in discussing the origin of new customs altogether, we must keep
in mind that the savages, like us, have their "thinkers" and
savants-wizards, doctors, prophets, etc.--whose knowledge and
ideas are in advance upon those of the masses. United as they are
in their secret unions (another almost universal feature) they
are certainly capable of exercising a powerful influence, and of
enforcing customs the utility of which may not yet be recognized
by the majority of the tribe.

11. Col. Collins, in Philips' Researches in South Africa, London,
1828. Quoted by Waitz, ii. 334.

12. Lichtenstein's Reisen im sudlichen Afrika, ii. Pp. 92, 97.
Berlin, 1811.

13. Waitz, Anthropologie der Naturvolker, ii. pp. 335 seq. See
also Fritsch's Die Eingeboren Afrika's, Breslau, 1872, pp. 386
seq.; and Drei Jahre in Sud Afrika. Also W. Bleck, A Brief
Account of Bushmen Folklore, Capetown, 1875.

14. Elisee Reclus, Geographie Universelle, xiii. 475.

15. P. Kolben, The Present State of the Cape of Good Hope,
translated from the German by Mr. Medley, London, 1731, vol. i.
pp. 59, 71, 333, 336, etc.

16. Quoted in Waitz's Anthropologie, ii. 335 seq.

17. The natives living in the north of Sidney, and speaking the
Kamilaroi language, are best known under this aspect, through the
capital work of Lorimer Fison and A.W. Howitt, Kamilaroi and
Kurnaii, Melbourne, 1880. See also A.W. Howitt's "Further Note on
the Australian Class Systems," in Journal of the Anthropological
Institute, 1889, vol. xviii. p. 31, showing the wide extension of
the same organization in Australia.

18. The Folklore, Manners, etc., of Australian Aborigines,
Adelaide, 1879, p. 11.

19. Grey's Journals of Two Expeditions of Discovery in North-West
and Western Australia, London, 1841, vol. ii. pp. 237, 298.

20. Bulletin de la Societe d'Anthropologie, 1888, vol. xi. p.
652. I abridge the answers.

21. Bulletin de la Societe d'Anthropologie, 1888, vol. xi. p.

22. The same is the practice with the Papuas of Kaimani Bay, who
have a high reputation of honesty. "It never happens that the
Papua be untrue to his promise," Finsch says in Neuguinea und
seine Bewohner, Bremen, 1865, p. 829.

23. Izvestia of the Russian Geographical Society, 1880, pp. 161
seq. Few books of travel give a better insight into the petty
details of the daily life of savages than these scraps from
Maklay's notebooks.

24. L.F. Martial, in Mission Scientifique au Cap Horn, Paris,
1883, vol. i. pp. 183-201.

25. Captain Holm's Expedition to East Greenland.

26. In Australia whole clans have been seen exchanging all their
wives, in order to conjure a calamity (Post, Studien zur
Entwicklungsgeschichte des Familienrechts, 1890, p. 342). More
brotherhood is their specific against calamities.

27. Dr. H. Rink, The Eskimo Tribes, p. 26 (Meddelelser om
Gronland, vol. xi. 1887).

28. Dr. Rink, loc. cit. p. 24. Europeans, grown in the respect of
Roman law, are seldom capable of understanding that force of
tribal authority. "In fact," Dr. Rink writes, "it is not the
exception, but the rule, that white men who have stayed for ten
or twenty years among the Eskimo, return without any real
addition to their knowledge of the traditional ideas upon which
their social state is based. The white man, whether a missionary
or a trader, is firm in his dogmatic opinion that the most vulgar
European is better than the most distinguished native."--The
Eskimo Tribes, p. 31.

29. Dall, Alaska and its Resources, Cambridge, U.S., 1870.

30. Dall saw it in Alaska, Jacobsen at Ignitok in the vicinity of
the Bering Strait. Gilbert Sproat mentions it among the Vancouver
indians; and Dr. Rink, who describes the periodical exhibitions
just mentioned, adds: "The principal use of the accumulation of
personal wealth is for periodically distributing it." He also
mentions (loc. cit. p. 31) "the destruction of property for the
same purpose," (of maintaining equality).

31. See Appendix VIII.

32. Veniaminoff, Memoirs relative to the District of Unalashka
(Russian), 3 vols. St. Petersburg, 1840. Extracts, in English,
from the above are given in Dall's Alaska. A like description of
the Australians' morality is given in Nature, xlii. p. 639.

33. It is most remarkable that several writers (Middendorff,

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