Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 35.djvu/654

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
630
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

equivalents in different languages, was devised by man when lie was still in a barbarous condition, when bis band was against every other man, and every other man's hand was against him. It was necessary that he should have some sort of a defense or cover to enable him to attack his enemies without being immediately killed, and this defense or cover, whether it was a shield to hold before his person or a strong wall built about his dwelling-place, he called a protection. Holding the shield before him, he could throw his spear or shoot his arrows at his enemy and not be harmed by the spear or the arrows his enemy returned; behind the strong wall he could be safe from assault and carry on the various activities of life without fear of molestation. He could, if he chose, scour the surrounding region, and rob and kill right and left, and get back to his strong wall before those he attacked could rally and take him prisoner. The outside barbarians would not endure this sort of thing forever. They also longed for protection. They got shields for themselves and built strong walls about their places of refuge, and in this way groups of what we now call society were first organized. Each of these groups was a very barbarous sort of society, but it was society nevertheless. A society means an association of persons for mutual profit or advantage. The barbarous group was a society based on protection, and protection was therefore an invention of barbarism; it was armed and organized selfishness; it was the means by which theft and rapine and murder were made possible on a large scale.

Time went on, and man gradually acquired better ideas of living. The little protected groups who were continually making war on each other and trying to prosper, each at the advantage of the other's happiness and prosperity, were led to see that they would be happier and more prosperous if they would stop making war on each other, tear down their strong walls, and unite in one harmonious community. It is not known who the first man was that conceived this idea, but whoever he may have been he was unquestionably a great benefactor to the human race. The groups that united into communities, however, did not embrace the whole of mankind. In fact, in these first days of primitive intelligence, a single community in which all mankind could unite was out of the question. A good many groups were still so barbarous that they preferred a hazardous existence maintained by war, rather than the prosperity that was sure to follow a friendly cultivation of the arts of peace. The groups that did join into communities were closely related to one another by blood; they spoke the same or nearly the same language, they had the same or similar customs, and their ideas of what life was for were nearly identical. These groups united and formed larger