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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 18.djvu/452

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

some restrictions on the powers of the owners. Ceasing to stand in the position of domestic cattle, slaves begin to form a division of the body-politic, when their personal claims begin to be distinguished as limiting the claims of their masters.

 

It is commonly supposed that serfdom arises by mitigation of slavery; but examination of the facts shows that it arises in a different way. While, during the early struggles for existence between them, primitive tribes, growing at one another's expense by incorporating separately the individuals they capture, thus form a class of absolute slaves, the formation of a servile class, considerably higher, and having a distinct social status, accompanies that later and larger process of growth under which one society incorporates other societies bodily. Serfdom originates along with conquest and annexation.

For whereas the one implies that the captured people are detached from their homes, the other implies that the subjugated people continue in their homes. Thomson remarks that, "among the New-Zealanders, whole tribes sometimes became nominally slaves when conquered, although permitted to live at their usual places of residence, on condition of paying tribute, in food, etc."—a statement which shows the origin of kindred arrangements in allied societies. Of the Sandwich Islands government when first known, described as consisting of a king with turbulent chiefs, who had been subjected in comparatively recent times, Ellis writes, "The common people are generally considered as attached to the soil, and are transferred with the land from one chief to another." Before the late changes in Feejee, there were enslaved districts; and of their inhabitants we read that they had to supply the chiefs' houses "with daily food, and build and keep them in repair." Though conquered peoples, thus placed, differ widely in the degrees of their subjection—being at the one extreme, as in Feejee, liable to be eaten when wanted, and at the other extreme called on only to give specified proportions of produce or labor—yet they remain alike as being undetached from their original places of residence. That serfdom in Europe originated in an analogous way there is good reason to believe. In Greece we have the case of Crete, where, under the conquering Dorians, there existed a vassal population, formed, it would seem, partly of the aborigines and partly of preceding conquerors, of which the first were serfs attached to lands of the state and of individuals, and the others had become tributary land-owners. In Sparta the like relations were established by like causes: there were the helots, who lived on, and cultivated, the lands of their Spartan masters, and the periæci, who had probably been, before the Dorian invasion, the superior class. So was it also in the Greek colonies afterward founded, such as Syracuse, where the aborigines became serfs. Similarly in later times and nearer regions. When Gaul was overrun by the Romans, and again when Romanized Gaul was overrun by the