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mind still bears vestiges, neither few nor slight, of a past condition from which savages represent the least, and civilized men the greatest advance. Throughout the whole vast range of the history of human thought and habit, while civilization has to contend not only with survival from lower levels, but also with degeneration within its own borders, it yet proves capable of overcoming both and taking its own course. History within its proper field, and ethnography over a wider range, combine to show that the institutions which can best hold their own in the world gradually supersede the less fit ones, and that this incessant conflict determines the general resultant course of culture. I will venture to set forth in mythic fashion how progress, aberration, and retrogression in the general course of culture contrast themselves in my own mind. fancy ourselves looking on Civilization, as in personal figure she traverses the world; we see her lingering or resting by the way, and often deviating into paths that bring her toiling back to where she had passed by long ago; but, direct or devious, her path lies forward, and if now and then she tries a few backward steps, her walk soon falls into a helpless stumbling. It is not according to her nature, her feet were not made to plant uncertain steps behind her, for both in her forward view and in her onward gait she is of truly human type.

We may

CHAPTER III.

SURVIVAL IN CULTURE.

Survival and Superstition - Children's games — Games of chance — Tradi

tional sayings—Nursery poems—Proverbs—Riddles-Significance and survival in Customs: sneezing-formula, rite of foundation-sacrifice, prejudice against saving a drowning man.

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WHEN a custom, an art, or an opinion is fairly started in the world, disturbing influences may long affect it so slightly that it may keep its course from generation to generation, as a stream once settled in its bed will flow on for ages. This is mere permanence of culture; and the special wonder about it is that the change and revolution of human affairs should have left so many of its feeblest rivulets to run so long. On the Tatar steppes, six hundred years ago, it was an offence to tread on the threshold or touch the ropes in entering a tent, and so it appears to be still. Eighteen centuries ago Ovid mentions the vulgar Roman objection to marriages in May, which he not unreasonably explains by the occurrence in that month of the funeral rites of the Lemuralia :

:

"Nec viduæ tædis eadem nec virginis apta

Tempora. Quæ nupsit, non diuturna fuit.
Hac
quoque

de causa, si te proverbia tangunt,
Mense malas Maio nubere volgus ait.'2

The saying that marriages in May are unlucky survives to this day in England, a striking example how an idea, the meaning of which has perished for ages, may continue to exist simply because it has existed.

1 Will. de Rubruquis in Pinkerton, vol. vii. pp. 46, 67, 132; Michie, *Siberian Overland Route,' p. 96.

2 Ovid. Fast. v. 487. For modern Italy and France, see Edélestane du Méril, 'Études d'Archéol.' p. 121.

Now there are thousands of cases of this kind which have become, so to speak, landmarks in the course of culture. When in the process of time there has come general change in the condition of a people, it is usual, notwithstanding, to find much that manifestly had not its origin in the new state of things, but has simply lasted on into it. On the strength of these survivals, it becomes possible to declare that the civilization of the people they are observed among must have been derived from an earlier state, in which the proper home and meaning of these things are to be found; and thus collections of such facts are to be worked as mines of historic knowledge. In dealing with such materials, experience of what actually happens is the main guide, and direct history has to teach us, first and foremost, how old habits hold their ground in the midst of a new culture which certainly would never have brought them in, but on the contrary presses hard to thrust them out. What this direct information is like, a single example may show. The Dayaks of Borneo were not accustomed to chop wood, as we do, by notching out V-shaped cuts. Accordingly, when the white man intruded among them with this among other novelties, they marked their disgust at the innovation by levying a fine on any of their own people who should be caught chopping in the European fashion; yet so well aware were the native woodcutters that the white man's plan was an improvement on their own, that they would use it surreptitiously when they could trust one another not to tell.1 The account is twenty years old, and very likely the foreign chop may have ceased to be an offence against Dayak conservatism, but its prohibition was a striking instance of survival by ancestral authority in the very teeth of common sense.

Such a proceeding as this would be usually, and not improperly,

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1 'Journ. Ind. Archip.' (ed. by J. R. Logan), vol. ii. p. liv.

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described as a superstition; and, indeed, this name would be given to a large proportion of survivals, such for instance as may be collected by the hundred from books of folk-lore and occult science. But the term superstition now implies a reproach, and though this reproach may be often cast deservedly on fragments of a dead lower culture embedded in a living higher one, yet in many cases it would be harsh, and even untrue. For the ethnographer's pur

. pose, at any rate, it is desirable to introduce such a term as 'survival,' simply to denote the historical fact which the word “superstition' is now spoiled for expressing. Moreover, there have to be included as partial survivals the mass of cases where enough of the old habit is kept up for its origin to be recognizable, though in taking a new form it has been so adapted to new circumstances as still to hold its place on its own merits.

Thus it would be seldom reasonable to call the children's games of modern Europe superstitions, though many of them are survivals, and indeed remarkable ones. If the games of children and of grown-up people be examined with an eye to ethnological lessons to be gained from them, one of the first things that strikes us is how many of them are only sportive imitations of the serious business of life. As children in modern civilized times play at dining and driving horses and going to church, so a main amusement of savage children is to imitate the occupations which they will carry on in earnest a few years later, and thus their games are in fact their lessons. The Esquimaux children's sports are shooting with a tiny bow and arrow at a mark, and building little snow-huts, which they light up with scraps of lamp-wick begged from their mothers, Miniature boomerangs and spears are among the toys of Australian children, and even as the fathers keep up as a recognized

; means of getting themselves wives the practice of carrying them off by violence, so playing at such Sabine marriage has been noticed as one of the regular games of the little

1 Klemm, ‘Cultur-Geschichte,' vol. ii. p. 209.

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native boys and girls. Now it is quite a usual thing in

? the world for a game to outlive the serious practice of which it is an imitation. The bow and arrow is a conspicuous instance. Ancient and widespread in savage culture, we trace this instrument through barbaric and classic life and onward to a high mediæval level. But now,

when we

look on at an archery meeting, or go by country lanes at the season when toy bows and arrows are 'in' among the children, we see, reduced to a mere sportive survival, the ancient weapon which among a few savage tribes still keeps its deadly place in the hunt and the battle. The cross-bow,

. a comparatively late and local improvement on the longbow, has disappeared yet more utterly from practical use; but as a toy it is in full European service, and likely to remain so.

For antiquity and wide diffusion in the world, through savage up to classic and mediæval times, the sling ranks with the bow and arrow.

But in the middle ages it fell out of use as a practical weapon, and it was all in vain that the 15th century poet commended the art of slinging among the exercises of a good soldier :

• Use eek the cast of stone, with slynge or honde :

It falleth ofte, yf other shot there none is,
Men harneysed in steel may not withstonde,

The multitude and mighty cast of stonys;
And stonys in effecte, are every where,

And slynges are not noyous for to beare.'? Perhaps as serious a use of the sling as can now be pointed out within the limits of civilization is among the herdsmen of Spanish America, who sling so cleverly that the saying is they can hit a beast on either horn and turn him which way they will. But the use of the rude old weapon is especially kept up by boys at play, who are here again the representatives of remotely ancient culture.

As games thus keep up the record of primitive warlike

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i Oldfield in ‘Tr. Eth. Soc.' vol. iii. p. 266; Dumont d'Urville, 'Voy. de l'Astrolabe,' vol. i. p. 411.

2 Strutt, ‘Sports and Pastimes,' book ii. chap. ii.

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