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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 44.djvu/309

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THE ETHICS OF TRIBAL SOCIETY.

superseded by better and more comprehensive methods and ended by playing only the frivolous part of a sentimental pastime in social life, like the modern philopena, they had originally a more serious purpose and were of no small importance as means of promoting intertribal intercourse and thus encouraging trade and leading to the establishment of commercial treaties.

Another step toward the realization of the conception of human brotherhood was the custom established at a very early period whereby chiefs of tribes came to address each other as kinsmen and members of one family. This assumption of consanguinity, which originated in the desire of dynasties to strengthen their position and to perpetuate their power, naturally led to increase of friendly intercourse and to frequent intermarriages, so that they finally became in fact what they at first claimed to be by a polite and politic fiction. Traces of this usage are found in the oldest records of royalty. Among the treasures of the Berlin and British Museums are preserved two hundred and forty-one tablets of cuneiform inscriptions containing letters written to Amenophis III and Amenophis IV of Egypt by Burnaburiash, King of Babylonia, and Dushratta, King of Mesopotamia, which show that, at least sixteen centuries before the Christian era, "dear brother" was the ceremonial title of salutation which monarchs were wont to use in their epistolary correspondence. This feigning of a common lineage still survives among crowned heads, and the vilest plebeian adventurer who, by force or fraud, gets himself proclaimed king or emperor is admitted to the select circle of sovereigns and greeted as "dear cousin."

Principles, once grown obsolete, are denounced as prejudices; religious beliefs, which have been supplanted by superior creeds, are scoffed at as superstitions; and dethroned deities haunt the imagination of their former worshiper as demons. In like manner, the lower classes of civilized communities correspond, in a measure, to the lower races, and reflect atavistically the ideas and passions of primitive man; and in periods of great social and political upheaval we are often rudely brought face to face with tumultuous masses of these strata of palæozoic humanity violently and unpleasantly thrown to the surface. It crops out in the English boor, who at the sight of a stranger is ever ready to "'eave 'arf a brick at 'im," and would deem the neglect of this duty a treasonable lack of local patriotism and loyalty to time-honored tradition; in the Cretan herdsman, who instinctively seizes his cudgel whenever a traveler in trousers passes by; and in the Egyptian fellah, who teaches his children to spit at every man with a hat on and cry out: "Yâ nasrânîy! Yâ khinzîr! O you Nazarene! O you pig!"

The publican, in some parts of southern Italy, is still disposed