Charles Jean Marie Letourneau.

Sociology based upon ethnography online

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Some degree of truth lias been admitted in the charge not
unfrequcntly brought against the English, that they are assiduous
rather than solid readers. They give themselves too much to
the lighter forms of literature. Teclmicai Science is almost ex-
clusively restricted to its professed votaries, and, but for some
of the Quarterlies and Monthlies, very little solid matter would
come within the reach of the general public.

But the circulation enjoyed by many of these very periodicals,
and the increase of the scientific journals, may be taken for
sufficient proof that a taste for more serious subjects of study is
now growing. Indeed there is good reason to believe that if
strictly scientific subjects are not more universally cultivated, it
is mainly because they are not rendered more accessible to the
people. Such themes are treated either too elaborately, or in
too forbidding a style, or else brought out in too costly a form
to be easily available to all classes.

The splendid conquests of Mod-^rn Science in every branch

of human knowledge are moreover, as a rule, scattered over a
multiplicity of monographs, essays, memoirs, and special works of
.nil sorts. Except in the Encyclopaedias, their varied results are
nowhere to be found, so to say, under one cover, and even in
these unwieldy compilations they are nccessai'ily handled more
suiinnavily than is always desirable.

Willi lli.> view of remedying this manifold and increasing
incunvcuLeucc, we are glad to be able to take advantage of a
comprehensive project recently set on foot in France, emphatically
tlic land of Popular Science. The well-knoAvn publLshcr,-^, MAL
LNinwald J' Co., liavo made satisfactory arrangements with some
<»[ llic Icauuig' ,iarniUs of that country to supply an exhaustive
series of Avorks on each and all of the sciences of the day, treated
in a style at once lucid, popular, and strictly methodic.

'Hif iiaiMcs of MM. P. Broca, Secretaiy of the Society
(l'AiitiMM]M,l,.jir : rii. Afarfni^. AroiiinpHipr TTniversitv ; C. Vogt,

I'liivcr-ity of i Muscuiu of Saint Ger-

mail! : A. ( Ii'll^ laiii, author of "Ciel" and " Phenom^nes de la
niysi.|iir:' A. ilovilacque, editor of the " lievue de Linguis-
ti(liii';' IM. h.'lly, Dr. Letourneau, and many otlici*s, whose co-
opt ra1i«^n li i- alnady been secured, are a guamntee that their
K |..(!i\( .iil.j((is Avill t(( five thorough treatment, and will in all
(a-(-; lie wiitlni u]t to tin- wxy latest di<roA-(M-!''<. \\\\\ kept in
cv.T.v rc^i^crt fully alava.t of \W \\\\\r<,

\\r lia\.'. I'll iiur lull. ln.'1'U fortuuale i:i making such fnvtlicr
anaiijvii:- 111 wiili .some of tlifi l)est writers and recognised
authoritii's laiv. as will ciial*!*' us to jtrcscm ilir series in a
thon)U";li!\ !'i> r li .liv..; to the reading public of this country.
In so <!' i: ! e uvinetd that wo are taking the best means

of sui)|>lyiu'; a want that has long been felt.

The \..luin"^ ill aelual cej;-.,' <^f (>xeeutioii. ov C'jntomplatcd,

will embrace such subjects as : Anthropology, Biology, Science
of Language, Comparative Mythology, Astronomy, Prehistoric
Archaeology, Ethnography, Geology, Hygiene, Political Economy,
Physical and Commercial Geography, Philosophy, Architecture,
Chemistry, Education, General Anatomy, Zoology, Botany,
Meteorology, History, Finance, Mechanics, Statistics, (tc. &c.

All the volumes, while complete and so far independent in
themselves, will be of uniform appearance, slightly varying,
according to the nature of the subject, in bulk and in price.

The present volum^e, on the Science of Language, with which
the English series is introduced, and wliich will be immediately
followed by others on Biology and Anthropology, may be
accepted as a fair sample of the style and execution of these

When finished they will form a complete collection op
STANDARD WORKS OF REFERENCE ou all the physical and mental
sciences, thus fully justifying the general title chosen for the
series — '^ Library of Contemporary Science."

ciLiPMAisr A:NrD hall.

193, Piccadilly, W.,

May Ibth, 1877.



Social Science has never "been so much talked about as in our
own times. "We all know now that the life of human societies,
like everything else, is governed by rules, by laws, and may
therefore become a question of science. This idea is far from
new, for the " Politics " of Aristotle is a treatise upon Sociology,
doubtless very incomplete, but nevertheless scientifically conceived.
And in their way the " Laws " and " The Kepublic " of Plato are
also sociological works, though in them the scientific method is
that which is most wanting. Aristotle and Plato have also had
many imitators or followers. To the former we may trace much
of what we read in Machiavelli and in Montesquieu ; on the other
hand, still confining ourselves to a few names, Campanella and
Eousseau may be counted as descendants of Plato. By the side of
these two schools, a third has made for itself a place ; — this we may
call the systematic school. It is doubtless from the results of
observation that systematic socialists start their theories. Eut
they confine their field of observation ; and they distort facts by
so selecting them that to their questions they may find an answer


whicli will agree with their preconceived opinions. Vico, Condorcet,
Saint-Simon, Auguste Comte, are the most illustrious representatives
of this school, and all these men possessed minds of the highest

But have all these thinkers succeeded in founding Sociology?
— for this hybrid word was first brought into fashion by Comte.
We can hardly think so, unless we wish to close our eyes very
determinedly. We have the word without the thing, and it
cannot be otherwise. The commencement of any science_, however
simple, is always a collective work. It requires the constant labour
of many patient workmen, succeeding each other, each benefiting
from the toil of his predecessor, and through a long series of
generations. Isolated minds, let them be ever so powerful, can-
not do more than promulgate speculative questions that may be
more or less ingenious.

Again, the rise of any science is all the more laborious in pro-
portion as it is vast ; and what can be more complex than Social
Science 1 Modern investigations have taught us the fundamental
truth that everything in the universe must be governed by laws.
We have therefore our sociological laws. But it becomes more
difficult to discover a law in proportion as the phenomena which it
governs are multiple, are variable and intricate; and social facts
are numberless, their intricacy and their variability are extreme.
By dint of observations and experiments made and continued
during historic periods we have succeeded in formulating a few
astronomical laws ; and yet we are told that the isolated meditations
of some few systematic minds can give us a ready-made scientific
Sociology ! Anyone who likes to believe in this illusion is of
course free to do so.


It is difficult for us to look around over the whole vast field of
Sociology ; for we must take into account all the infinitely various
manifestations of human activity, and also all the exterior agents
that may in any way influence that activity. Will the evolution
of societies always continue to unfold itself confusedly and spon-
taneously 1 Must we despair of ever finding and possessing a
scientific Sociology ? Assuredly not ; but it is all-important that
we should not think complete a work as yet hardly begun.

We now know how sciences first rise, and how they grow. It
is before all things necessary — and this is a very long task — to
bring together rich materials of well authenticated and carefully
noted facts. We must then select them, group them, class them,
and arrange them in order. For until then we are not entitled to
make inductions; we cannot see correctly the links between the
phenomena in past times; we ought not to risk observations as
to their future evolution. As a matter of course all this elabora-
tion will be of greater value in proportion as it rests upon a
larger basis. In many sciences experience may assist us in our
observations, and especially in controlling our inductions. This
precious means of verification has hitherto been wanting to Soci-
ology; but human societies, as they felt the need, have made
many attempts, which in a great measure may serve as pre-
meditated analytical experiments, perhaps to be undertaken at
some future date.

Before this vast preliminary labour that we have just indicated
can be accomplished centuries must first elapse; all hope of
a scientific Sociology would otherwise be vain. All that we can
now do is to make some few attempts; and it behoves us to
define our objects, directing our efforts to each one in turn of


the many sides of social life. Sociology must necessarily rest
upon the groundwork of many sciences : natural history, anthro-
pology, ethnography, demography, pedagogy, the study of climates,
political economy, history, etc. etc. etc. The enumeration would
he infinite, for everything which can, directly or indirectly, have
influence upon human life has also its sociological importance.

This is the scientific method. It is doubtless long and laborious ;
hut it is the only one that can do the work, and more than one
pioneer has already begun to clear the way. It wiU be enough to
mention the large historic pictures of Buckle and Draper, the ethno-
graphical works of Lubbock, Tylor, and others, and lastly Herbert
Spencer's book on Sociology. This latter is also mainly ethnogra-
phical, but it has in some way deceived the public; for more was
expected of its author, than whom few men in our own time possess
a larger or a more acute intellect, or a mind more richly fur-
nished. Mr. Spencer's work no doubt gives evidence of much
sound thought and nice perception ; but his exposition of facts
is singularly unmethodical, and he is often led astray by a priori
systematic conceptions. We may mention his very strong belief
in the doctrine of the Greek philosopher Euhemeros, according
to which the pagan gods were superior men who had become
deified by the people; and also his unwarrantable comparison
between social and biological organisms. We may add, that in
many of his conclusions Mr. Spencer has run directly counter to
noticeable facts, and to those which have been already established.

For ourselves, our own views or opinions here in this volume are
very confined. Such has been our intention. Our purpose was
to write a chapter on Sociology — tlie ethnographical chapter —
and we have endeavoured not to heap up our facts confusedly and


without order. "We have undertaken to describe the principal
manifestations of human activity successively in the principal
human races, connecting them as nearly as possible with similar
phenomena that have been observed in animals. In nearly every
case we have closed our short inquiry with an attempt at
generalisation, and even of induction ; but the reader will at once
distinguish our own personal views from the facts which in our
opinion will justify them, and may himseK draw any other
conclusion that appears to him to be more sound.

After what has been said, no one will expect to find in
this volume an enumeration of " Sociological Laws," drawn up
with all the strictness of the laws of true science. Social science
is yet in its infancy; to formulate its laws is therefore beyond
our power. But scientific laws do not spring suddenly as from
spontaneous generation. The way is first prepared by extracting
from the chaos of minute information some few general facts.
This has been our endeavour : we hope we may have succeeded.

Ch. Letourneau.



Chapteh I. Enumeeation of the Human Eaces .
Chapter II. Distribution of the Human Eaces on the Face
OF the Globe




Nutritive Life.

Chapter I. Food . .15

II. Food in Melanesia 17

y^ III. Food in Polynesia 19

^ lY. Food in America . . . . .22

V. Food in Asia 24

YL Food in Africa 27

YII. Food and the Eaces of Men ... 29

Chapter II. Cookery 31

Chapter III. Psychology of the Nutritive Wants . . 36
Chapter IY. Intoxicating Substances . . . . .42
Chapter Y. Stupefying or Exciting Substances. . . .48

BOOK 11.

Sensitive Life.
Chapter I. On Sensitive Life in General






On Genesic Want, and on Shame





Intercourse between the Sexes .




Genesic Aberrations




The Delicacy of the Senses ....






I. Painting and Tattooing
II. Deformations and Mutilations

III. Jewellery, Clothing, and Head-dressing

IV. Evolution of Taste in Ornament .





On the Arts in General ....


Chapter YIII.





Vocal Music



- X.

Instrumental Music




The Taste for Music generally .




On the Graphic and Plastic Arts


Chapter XIII.

Greek Sculpture


Chapter XIV.

On Painting




The Evolution of Sensitive Life .















Chapter VIII.




• X.


Affective Life.

The Keflex Action according to Eace and

Civilisation 131

On Politeness and CEREiioNiAL Bearing . 134
Love for the Young in Animals . . .139

Abortion 143

Infanticide 145

Love for the Young in Humanity . . 149

Filial Love, Assistance to the Old, to the ,

Sick, etc 152

The Ferocious Instincts in Humanity . .157

Benevolent Sentiments 165

The Condition of Women . . . . 173



Chapter XI. Warlike Manners 185

I. "Warlike Manners among Animals . 185

II. Warlike Manners in Melanesia . . 188
III. Warlike Manners in Africa. . . 190
ly. Warlike Manners in Polynesia . . 192

*• . v. Warlike Manners in America . . 194
.YI. Warlike Manners in the Mongolian

Eace 199

YII. Warlike Manners in the White Race . 201

Chapter XII. Anthropophagy 203

I. Anthropophagy in general . . . 203

II. Cannibalism in Melanesia . . . 205
III. Cannibalism in Africa .... 206
lY. Cannibalism in Polynesia and in Malay 208

Y. Cannibalism in America . . . 213
YI. Cannibalism among the Mongolian and

the White Eaces . . . .214

Chapter XIII. Funereal Eites _ . 217

I. The Idea of Death . . . .217

• 11.^ Funereal Eites in Melanesia . . 220

III. Funereal Eites in Africa . . . 223
17. Funereal Eites in Polynesia . . 228

Y. Funereal Eites in America . .233

YI. Funereal Eites in Asia and in Malay 238
YII. Funereal Eites among the White

Eaces . . . . . .243

YIII. The Evolution of Funereal Eites . 245

Chapter XIY. " Eeligion in General 246

Chapter XY. On the Future Life 249

I. Future Life according to the Mela-

nesians 249

II. Future Life according to the Negroes

in Africa 252

III. Future Life according to the Egyptian

Mythology 254

lY. Future Life according to the Poly-
nesians 256

Y. Future Life according to American

. * * * Mythology 261


Chapter , XV, — Continued.

VI. Future Life according to the Asiatic

Mythologies 265

VII. The Evolution in Ideas of Future Life 272

Chapter XVI. The Gods 274

I. Mythology in General . . .274.
II. Myths in Melanesia .... 277

III. African Keligions . . . .279

IV. Eeligions in South America . . 287
V. Eeligions in Central and in Northern

America 289

VI. Ancient Eeligions in Central America 290

VIL The Polynesian Gods. . . .295

VIIL The Asiatic Eeligions . . .299

IX. The Evolution of Mythology . .317

Chapter XVII. Worship and Priesthood .... 319


Social Life.

Chapter I. Marriage 327

I. Union of the Sexes among Animals . 327

II. On Human Marriage .... 330

III. Marriage in Melanesia . . . 331

IV. Marriage in Africa .... 335
V. Marriage in America .... 341

VI. Marriage in Mexico and Peru . . 347

VIT. Marriage in Polynesia . . . 350

VIII. Marriage in the Malay Archipelago . 352

IX. Marriage among the Natives in India 353

X. Marriage in Indo- China, in Burmah,

and in Thibet . . . . .356
XL Marriage among the Mongolians and

the Mongoloids of Northern Asia . 358

XII. Marriage in China and in Japan . 361

XIII. Marriage among the White Races in

Asia 364

XIV. The GroBco-Eoman Marriage . . 369
XV. European Marriage outside Greece

and Eome 373





When we attempt to enumerate and to classify tlie various races
of men, the anthropologist and the ethnographer are at once beset
with difficulties, — so changeable, so multiform, and so various are
the human mammalia. Let it not be thought for a moment that
we wish, as do some over-metaphysical anthropologists, to perch
man up in the clouds, to pretend that our puny vertebrated body
has upon this earth a separate existence of its own — a gulf dividing
us from all other animals. Though man is incontestably a
mammiferous animal of the highest order, he differs, nevertheless,
very widely from his more humble congenerous creatures ; for with
him the higher nervous centres, and their use, which is shown
in his intelligence, are susceptible of a relatively enormous develop-
ment. Again, as far as scientific data will allow us to judge, the
origin of man is multiple. It may very well be that the now
existing human race descends, coming down through a long series
of metamorphoses, from monkey-bearing breasts. But these early
progenitors of man were very numerous, and even from the first of
very various kinds. Starting from this low primitive state, the
earliest types that were even nearly human must have been subject
to changes from the ordinary habits of life ; for during very long
geological cycles man was necessarily obliged to live in various
climates, to which he was constrained to adapt himself in order to
maintain his own existence. And, in its turn, this labour of
accommodating himself to places more or less inclement has become

B 2


a cause of organic change. Everywhere on the face of the globe
man has formed for himself a separate existence, and he has made
for himself a civilisation that is more or less intelligent ; both of
which have served to protect hira from rough contact with the
surrounding elements, and have also either tended to stifle in him
certain preponderating energies, or to foster some latent capabilities.
Now there is no functional modification which is not both the
sign and the effect of a corresponding modification in the organs.
Owing to the combined influence of the diversity of his origin, and
to the disparity of civilisation, — to both of which we must add the
effect, ever various, of the innumerable ethnical unions which took
place during the long night of the prehistoric ages, when his
last thought was to write his own annals, — man modelled himself
after many and different types. In one place these different types
were clearly determined, in another they were so closely joined
together by intermediary mixings, and were effected so gradually,
that further gradation is no longer possible. In a word, that
has happened to man, but upon an infinitely larger scale, which
has happened to our domestic animals — for instance, to our canine
creatures. The greyhound and the bulldog, the spaniel and the
^Newfoundland, are all canine mammalia, but how different are they
one from the other !

But before we begin to speak of Sociology itself we must
endeavour, as well as we can, to unravel this chaos of ideas ; we
must divide the human species into different kinds, and extricate
some of the principal types, more or less homogeneous, from out of
the confused mass of the human races. We shall now attempt to
do this as briefly as possible.

If the anatomical characters, now so carefully studied by con-
temporary anthropologists, were well classified and well arranged
in their proper order, our task would then be simple enough. As
it is the special object of this book to speak of sociology, we might
pass over small anatomical details, tracing out the principal groups
and showing the peculiarities of each. But unfortunately the
study of anatomical anthropology is as yet in its early phases.
It enables us only to prove certain facts, not to classify them.
One anthropologist will base his classification of races on the form


of the cranium, on the quantity and the formation of the brain,
another will satisfy himself by examining the hair. In this still
confused state of human taxonomy we must proceed somewhat at
random, taking groups of characters for our guide, so as to lessen
as far as possible the chances of falling into error. No doubt that
the actions of men and women form the principal study of the
sociologist ; but he is bound nevertheless to connect these actions
as far as possible with certain anatomical facts, or at all events to
show the connection existing between them, — for between the
labourer and his work the tie is very close. An inferior ana-
tomical race has never created a civilisation superior to itself.
Over such a race hangs an organic malediction, the weight of
which can only be reduced by millenary efforts, and by a struggle
for improvement constantly going on during geological cycles. As to
the nobility of organisation, we see the greatest variety in men ; and
these differences are so strongly marked, that any idea of close and
gradual progression is at once excluded. Nevertheless, taking into
consideration only the very large and important features, we may
group, both anatomically and sociologically, the existing types of
men under three main heads : —

I. The black man, whose brain is small, especially in the frontal
region, which with him is narrow and receding. His cranium
is elongated and oval-shaped. Correlatively, his jaws are prog-
nathous, that is to say, the rudimentary organs are projecting. His
nose is more or less flat. The skin is also more or less black, and
the hair woolly, except with the Australian negro, who seems to be
a man of mongrel breed.

II. The yelloiv man, the Mongolian, or Mongoloid, is still farther
separated from the animal form. His brain, more developed in the
Asiatic Mongolians, but very small with the American Mongoloid, is
better shaped. The forehead — where the intelligence mainly lies —
is with him less sacrificed, it is even relatively largely developed
in the case of the Asiatic Mongolians. His cranium is large
and short, brachycephalous ; the prognathism is here much less
strongly marked than in the preceding type. His eyes, or rather
his palpebral openings, are very elongated, scarcely open; they
are contracted, and often raised obliquely, both inside and outside.


His hair is always black and straight; his skin is yellow, or
yellowish in colour.

III. The ivhite man has ascended a few degrees higher in
the organic hierarchy. His brain is developed; his forehead
has expanded and become straight ; his jaw-bones have become
reduced, and in him we no longer find the prominence of a
blobber-lipped mouth. His eyes are set straight, are open, some-
times dark and sometimes light in colour, whilst with the two-
preceding types they are nearly invariably black. And so with
his hair, instead of being always black, we see it of very various
colours, from quite fair to jet black. His skin is more or less
white, and his hair is sometimes straight, sometimes curly, but
never woolly.

From the sociological point of view these different types of
human beings are far from possessing the same dignity ; there
are also many subdivisions in each class of very various kinds,
and these differ very widely one from the other. The negro will
generally be found to belong to the most inferior type. The black
man, guided by no instincts but his own, in whom there is no-
admixture of blood of a superior race, has never been able to form

Online LibraryCharles Jean Marie LetourneauSociology based upon ethnography → online text (page 1 of 54)