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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 18.djvu/750

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

through successive generations. And evidently in the earlier stages of social evolution, while the coherence is small and the want of structure great, it is requisite that the principle of inheritance should, especially in respect of the political headship, predominate over the principle of efficiency. Contemplation of the facts will make this clear.

 

Two primary forms of hereditary succession have to be considered. The system of kinship through females, common among rude peoples, results in descent of property and power to brothers or to the children of sisters; while the system of kinship through males, general among advanced peoples, results in descent of property and power to sons or daughters. We have first to note that succession through females results in less stable political headships than does succession through males.

From the fact named, when treating of the domestic relations, that the system of kinship through females arises where unions of the sexes are temporary or unsettled, it is to be inferred that this system characterizes societies which are unadvanced in all ways, political included. We saw that irregular connections involve paucity and feebleness of known relationships, and a type of family the successive links of which are not strengthened by so many collateral links. A common consequence is, that along with descent through females there goes either no chieftainship, or chieftainship is established by merit, or, if hereditary it is usually unstable. The Australians and Tasmanians may be named as typical instances. Among the Haidahs and other savage peoples of Columbia "rank is nominally hereditary, for the most part by the female line"; and actual chieftainship "depends to a great extent on wealth and ability in war." Of other North American tribes, the Chippewas, Comanches, and Snakes, show us the system of kinship through females joined with either absence of hereditary chieftainship or very feeble development of it. Passing to South America, the Arawaks and the Waraus may be instanced as having female descent and almost nominal though hereditary chiefs; and much the same may be said of the Caribs.

A group of facts having much significance may now be noted. In many societies where descent of property and rank in the female line is the rule, an exception is made in the case of the political head; and the societies exemplifying this exception are societies in which political headship has become relatively stable. Though in Feejee there is kinship through females, yet, according to Seemann, the ruler, chosen from the members of the royal family, is "generally the son" of the late ruler. In Tahiti, where the two highest ranks follow the primitive system of descent, male succession to rulership is so pronounced that, on the birth of an eldest son, the father becomes simply a regent on his behalf. And among the Malagasy, along with a prevailing kinship through females, the sovereign either nominates his successor, or,