Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 11.djvu/153

This page has been validated.

And the implication appears to be that this slavery of women, derived from the patriarchal state, and naturally accompanied by inability to hold property, has been slowly mitigated, and the right of private possession acquired, as the primitive family has decayed. But when we pass from the progenitors of the civilized races to existing uncivilized races, we meet with facts requiring us to qualify this proposition. Though in tribes of primitive men, knowing no law but that of brute force, entire subjection of women is the rule, yet there are exceptions, both in societies lower than the patriarchal in organization, and in higher societies which bear no traces of a past patriarchal state. We learn from Hodgson that among the Kocch, who are mainly governed by "juries of elders," "when a woman dies the family property goes to her daughters." Mason tells us of the Karens, whose chiefs, of little authority, are generally elective and often wanting, that "the father wills his property to his children. . . . Nothing is given to the widow, but she is entitled to the use of the property till her death." Writing of the Khasias, Lieutenant Steel says that "the house belongs to the woman; and in case of the husband dying or being separated from her, it remains her property." Among the Dyaks, whose law of inheritance is not that of primogeniture, and whose chieftainships where they exist are determined by merit, St. John tells us that as the wife does an equal share of work with her husband, "at a divorce she is entitled to half the wealth created by their mutual labors;" and Rajah Brooke writes, concerning certain Land Dyaks, that "the most powerful of the people in the place were two old ladies, who often told me that all the land and inhabitants belonged to them." North America furnishes kindred facts. Of the Aleutian-Islanders, Bancroft, in agreement with Bastian, tells us that "rich women are permitted to indulge in two husbands"—ownership of property by females being implied. Among the Nootkas, in case of divorce, there is "a strict division of property"—the wife taking both what she brought and what she has made; and similarly among the Jpokanes, "all household goods are considered the wife's property," and there is an equitable division of property on dissolution of marriage. Again, of the Iroquois, who, considerably advanced as we have seen, were shown, by their still-surviving system of descent in the female line, never to have passed through the patriarchal stage, we read that the proprietary rights of husband and wife remained distinct; and, further, that in case of separation the children went with the mother. Still more striking is the instance supplied by the peaceable, industrious, freely governed Pueblos, whose women, otherwise occupying good positions, not only inherit property, but, in some cases, make exclusive claims to it. Africa, too, where the condition of women is in most respects low, but where descent in the female line continues, furnishes examples. Shabeeny tells us that in Timbuctoo a son's share of the father's property is double that of a daughter. Describing the cus-