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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 19.djvu/211

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COMPOUND POLITICAL HEADS.

by a council of elders, the litigants voluntarily submitting to their arbitration. But, correctly speaking, there is not the shadow of a constituted authority in the Naga community, and, wonderful as it may seem, this want of government does not lead to any marked degree of anarchy and confusion." Similarly among such peoples, remote in type, as many of the warlike tribes of North America. Speaking of these Indians in general, Schoolcraft says that "they all wish to govern, and not to be governed. Every Indian thinks he has a right to do as he pleases, and that no one is better than himself; and he will fight before he will give up what he thinks right." Of the Comanches, as an example, he remarks that "the democratic principle is strongly implanted in them"; and that for governmental purposes "public councils are held at regular intervals during the year." Further, we read that in districts of ancient Central America there existed somewhat more advanced societies which, though warlike, were impelled by a kindred jealousy to provide against monopoly of power. The government was by an elective council of old men who appointed a war-chief; and this war-chief, "if suspected of plotting against the safety of the commonwealth, or for the purpose of securing supreme power in his own hands, was rigorously put to death by the council."

Though the specialities of character which thus lead certain kinds of men in early stages to originate compound political headships, and to resist, even under the stress of war, the rise of single political headships, are innate, we are not without clews to the circumstances which have made them innate; and, with a view to interpretations presently to be made, it will be useful to glance at these. The Comanches and kindred tribes, roaming about in small bands, active and skillful horsemen, have, through long-past periods, been so conditioned as to make coercion of one man by another difficult. So, too, has it been, though in another way, with the Nagas. "They inhabit a rough and intricate mountain-range"; and their villages are perched "on the crests of ridges." Again, very significant evidence is furnished by an incidental remark of Captain Burton to the effect that in Africa, as in Asia, there are three distinctly marked forms of government—military despotisms, feudal monarchies, and rude republics; the rude republics being those formed by "the Bedouin tribes, the hill people, and the jungle races." Clearly, the names of these last show that they inhabit regions which, hindering by their physical characters a centralized form of government, favor a more diffused form of government, and the less decided political subordination which is its concomitant.

These facts are obviously related to certain other facts with which they must be joined. Already evidence has been given that it is relatively easy to form a large society if the country is one within which all parts are readily accessible, while it has barriers through which exit is difficult; and that, conversely, formation of a large society is prevented, or greatly delayed, by difficulties of communication within