Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 11.djvu/147

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ON THE EVOLUTION OF THE FAMILY.

belonging to higher types, and while in some cases citing confirmatory evidence furnished by certain barbarous peoples of lower types, he has practically disregarded the great mass of the uncivilized, and ignored the vast array of facts they present at variance with his theory. Though criticisms have led him somewhat to qualify the sweeping generalizations set forth in his "Ancient Law;" though, in the preface to its later editions, he refers to his subsequent work on "Village Communities" as indicating some qualifications—yet the qualifications are but small, and in great measure hypothetical. He makes light of such adverse evidence as Mr. McLennan and Sir John Lubbock give, on the ground that the part of it he deems most trustworthy is supplied by Indian Hill-tribes, which have, he thinks, been led into abnormal usages by the influences invading races have subjected them to. And, though in his "Early Institutions" he goes so far as to say that "all branches of human society may or may not have been developed from joint families which arose out of an original patriarchal cell," he clearly, by this form of expression, declines to admit that in many cases they have not been thus developed.

He rightly blames earlier writers for not exploring a sufficiently wide area of induction. But he has himself not made the area of induction wide enough; and that substitution of hypothesis for observed fact which he ascribes to his predecessors is, as a consequence, observable in his own work. Respecting the evidence available for framing generalizations, he says:

"The rudiments of the social state, so far as they are known to us at all, are known through testimony of three sorts—accounts by contemporary observers of civilizations less advanced than their own, the records which particular races have preserved concerning their primitive history, and ancient law."

And since, as exemplifying the "accounts by contemporary observers of civilizations less advanced than their own," he names the account TacituS gives of the Germans, and does not name the accounts modern travelers give of uncivilized races at large, he clearly does not include as evidence the statements made by these.[1] Let me name here two instances of the way in which this limitation leads to the substitution of hypothesis for observation.

Assuming that the patriarchal state is the earliest, Sir Henry Maine says that "the implicit obedience of rude men to their parent

  1. He does, indeed, at page 17 of his "Village Communities," deliberately discredit this evidence—speaking of it as "the slippery testimony concerning savages which is gathered from travelers' tales." I am aware that, in the eyes of most, antiquity gives sacredness to testimony; and that so what were "travelers' tales" when they were written in Roman days have come, in our days, to be regarded as of higher authority than like tales written by recent or living travelers. I see, however, no reason to ascribe to Tacitus a trustworthiness which I do not ascribe to modern explorers, many of them scientifically educated—Barrow, Barth, Galton, Burton, Livingstone, Seeman, Darwin, Wallace, Humboldt, Burckhardt, and others too numerous to set down.