James Quayle Dealey.

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devoting itself to food-getting, warding against
enemies, and to the rudiments of domesticity.

The change from this earher primitive period
came when a steadily increasing population faced
the problem of a relatively decreasing food
supply. The struggles for survival under such
conditions slowly brought about profound mod-
ifications in the family through the rise of newer
organizations. The hunting-pack or band devel-
oped so as to obtain flesh foods more easily by
combination. This band in case of necessity
readily became a war-band, for warring was
merely an additional method of adding to food
supplies by taking possession of the hunting-
grounds of rival bands or by using the bodies of
slain enemies as food, a natural and proper cus-
tom in savagery. As a warrior the male developed
a fiercer and crueler disposition, while women
became less free and more passive, being confined
to the inner circle through additional labors
and external dangers. Hunting and war also
developed greater ingenuity in the invention of
weapons, since these often determined survival.
Hunting-bands relying upon their weapons
would often under the pressure of scarcity mi-
grate far and wide in search of better hunting-
grounds or safer homes. Women in their turn,
under the stimulus of hunger, their own and their
children's, hit on the devices of domesticating


animals for food supplies and of occasionally
cultivating the ground for the sake of vegetable
foods. Each of these great discoveries later
ushered in new eras of civilization when men
were forced to rely as their chief sustenance either
on their domesticated flocks and herds or on
edible grains, fruits, and herbs laboriously culti-
vated through manual toil and rude implements.
Such changing economic conditions neces-
sitated changes in domestic institutions. As the
work of civilization began to multiply, a large
share of its burdens devolved on the woman.
The art of cooking had developed, implements
for this purpose had to be invented, ornamenta-
tion and clothing demanded labor in preparation,
and the period of childhood was prolonging so
as to allow more time for training in customs,
traditions, and vocations. Group life at the same
time tended to become somewhat artificial, and
systems of social control began to compel con-
formity to custom and to punish infractions of it.
Natural leaders came to the front, and devised
the tabu вАФ in general, a series of prohibitions
against doing what was thought to be socially
harmful. Primitive reasoning was not always
logical and its conclusions were sometimes per-
verted for selfish purposes, so that moral stand-
ards became confused. Men could no longer rely
on their instinct to decide rightly, but had to


know the law, which so often seemed contrary
to instinct. Such changes as these were reflected
in the family, which became henceforth a more
artificial institution than that founded on natu-
ral instinct.

For human beings began to organize them-
selves into kinship bands, basing relationship on
the natural kinship of mother and child. Obvi-
ously the child was born from its mother and
was related to her and to other children born
from her. The mother of course would also be
related to the children of her daughters and
granddaughters. By emphasizing in this way
kinship and by tracing descent from a common
mother there developed the metronymic ^ group
in which kinship is maternal, and paternal rela-
tionships are ignored, being at that time un-
known. This metronymic kinship resulted in a
new form of marriage. For since brothers and
sisters reared together in the same household
do not as a rule feel sexual promptings towards
one another, they naturally tend to marry out-
side of their own group. That is, they became
exogamous, not endogamous. Under such con-
ditions two neighboring and friendly groups might
easily become marriage groups to each other,
the males from one marrying the females of the
other. As the children of the female belonged
^ Mother-name.


to her kin, not to the husband's, it was natural
that she remain under the protection of her kin
and that the husband be looked on as a sort of
outsider. Hence the lawful protectors of a child
were its mother's kindred, not its father, who
had small place in the system. In this manner
the natural family of earlier days was superseded
by one in which a father as such had no place in
his marriage family, and if admitted within the
home had a somewhat subordinate position.
Like some modern husbands, he would lodge at
his wife's house and was expected to contribute
generously towards its maintenance, but was not
expected to have much voice in the management
of the household. Hence there developed the
custom of demanding services or gifts from a
would-be husband, who might be unceremoni-
ously dismissed if his labor proved unsatisfactory
or other suitors came with richer gifts. Under
this system monogamy still prevailed, but as
divorce depended on mere whim, marriage must
often have resembled more a system of prostitu-
tion, which in fact traces its beginnings to this
period. Yet the females still had large freedom
in the choice of suitors and wooing on the part of
the males was still necessary, so that a fair degree
of equality was maintained between the sexes.
Furthermore the household had become firmly
established, kinship bonds were broadening, the


connection between mother and child was becom-
ing more permanent, and formal instruction in
traditions was regularly imparted by the elders
to the youth at adolescence, when lengthy initia-
tory rites signalized their entrance into maturity.
This type of metronymic family flourished
best when the struggle for existence was not too
strenuous and the kindred in consequence felt
competent to supply all of its members with
food. Under harsher conditions the lot of women
was less happy, children in excess became a
burden and were put to death along with the
aged and the inefficient. Infanticide, especially
of females, developed; excessive toil and cruel
treatment became women's lot ; and suitors who
would take to their own homes their wives might
be required to pay merely nominal gifts or might
even be given dowries with the brides out of the
property of the kinship. Clearly conditions in
such social groups had become different; the
family was still metronymic, the child still in
theory a member of its mother's kindred and
under their protection; but in actual fact it was
under its father's roof, protected by his kin, and
the father had become a more important person
in the household than his wife. In other words,
the family was ceasing to be metronymic and
was becoming patronymic.^

^ Father-name.



Society, in passing from a metronymic to a
patronymic social organization, was deeply in-
fluenced by the economic struggle for foods. In
the earlier period humanity existed on what
nature spontaneously furnished, and progress
consisted in securing foods through increasing
cunning and invention. In the transition to the
later period there was a fierce struggle for exist-
ence, finally changing to a more peaceful civiliza-
tion as man acquired the art of multiplymg foods
through domestication of animals and then
through agriculture.

In the transitional period human savagery had
full expression. Ruthless wars of extermination
and cannibalism marked the period and surplus
population within the group was put to death.
Social regulations placed a ban on the marriage
of young men, resulting in polyandry,^ prostitu-
tion, and in polygyny ^ among the older powerful

* A marriage system in which a female has several

* A marriage system in which a male has several wives.


chiefs. Women began to lose their importance
in the social order and to become subordinated
to the males. This pressure of population on food
supplies might easily have become more severe,
social regulations far more rigorous, and cruelty
more terrible, had not civilization taken the de-
cisive step that ushered in patriarchal civiliz-
ation. The principle that brought about this
social "mutation" was the intrusion of intellect-
ual guidance over nature in its production of
foods. When man had become familiar with a
reasonable explanation of fatherhood and birth,
it was but a step, though a long one, to apply this
knowledge to the more rapid multiplication of
animals, suitable for foods, by selecting and tam-
ing species capable of domestication. Hence-
forth man, in place of relying on natural produc-
tion, gorging in one season, starving in another,
was able to store his food supply into flocks and
herds, thereby securing a constant and abundant
source of flesh and milk.

Under these new conditions courage and vigor
were in demand, since the race had of necessity
to be brave in the defense of its wealth and ag-
gressive against robber bands and carnivorous
beasts. The inert and the cowardly were killed,
or as slaves received life in return for labor. In
this way developed a breed of masterly men who
loved war with its turmoil and bloodshed and


who ruled with an iron hand over slave and
family alike. These dominating males, as war-
riors, priests, and judges, were the heads of
powerful families and groups, owning slaves,
flocks and herds, and wide areas of grazing-lands.
To the male the wild free life of nomadism was
the joyous period of human existence, but, un-
fortunately for him, when once again the press-
ure of population on foods increased, reluctantly
he had to enter upon the monotonous round of
agriculture with its newer and laborious occupa-
tions, so as to eke out his diminishing food sup-
plies. Thus there came a steady encroachment
of agriculture on pasturage until of necessity
grain foods became "the staff of life." Yet this
change had its compensations, since every man
who expended labor and thought in agriculture
secured grain for himself and his cattle in such
abundance that famine seemed inconceivable,
unless perchance nature would prove unpropi-
tious and would fail to supply its wonted crops.
Even this possibility seemed remote enough,
since religion assured him of bountiful harvests,
if only he were generous to the gods in gifts and
sacrifices. For the period of ancestor worship
had come, and a man's most familiar gods were
of his own kith and kin, propitious and kindly as
long as they received from him due veneration
and needed offerings. Even the great divinities


of nature showered blessings upon him richly,
for the secrets of the supernatural were no longer
altogether hidden from human knowledge, since
wise seers were at hand who knew the will of the
gods and could teach him the paths whereby he
might avoid their anger.

This new type of civilization brought about a
corresponding modification in mentality, since
the qualifications needed for the occupation of
farming were quite different from those needed
in grazing. The substitution also of a diet largely
vegetal instead of flesh would itself have marked
effects on physique and mentality. Patient en-
durance in toil, perseverance, forethought, and
a reliance on the supernatural world about them
became requisites for survival, while a more
leisurely and peaceful existence gave time for
reflection. Under such conditions social life
assumed a stability hitherto unknown, and be-
cause it was stable it became comprehensible.
Men walked in the realm of the known; rules,
customs, and maxims became set, and wisdom
consisted not so much in reflecting on the new
as in conning over the teachings of the past, so
as to fix in memory the sayings of one's ances-

So rapidly did population multiply under its
improved conditions that the new type of civiliza-
tion took possession of the habitable earth and


established itself so firmly that even now the
larger half of mankind lives in a patriarchal agri-
cultural civilization. In consequence, even down
to the middle of the nineteenth century tradi-
tions of early metronymic civilization had passed
from men's minds. From time immemorial the
patronymic or patriarchal system had been
taught through sacred books and classical in-
struction without a thought of a still earlier stage
of civilization. Complete or partial metronymic
systems exist even now among almost one fourth
of the world's population, but these, when noted
at all, were considered to be merely degenerations
from the dominant type. The metronymic ele-
ment running throughout the historical accounts
in the Old Testament, and found in the early
histories of practically all patriarchal races,
excited no curiosity except as puzzles awaiting
the solution of scholars. Only when the scien-
tific method of comparison was applied to the
study of human history did it become possible
to get a truer insight into the development of the
family as an institution. Through this method,
however, a new world of knowledge is opening
up, as it were, before the modern student of
society. The present is becoming better known
through a more thorough knowledge of the past,
and from the basis of this larger knowledge an
insight into the future becomes possible.


Yet in the general subjection of women there
was a darker aspect to patriarchal civilization.
There is much truth in the statement that the
quality of any given civilization may be estim-
ated from the status of its women. About one
half of a population is feminine and it largely
dictates the quality of home life enjoyed by the
males and the kind of education imparted to the
next generation. In that fierce transition from
metronymic conditions to nomadism when the
principle of vcb victis was the only war code in
use, marriageable women were in practice seldom
slaughtered as were the males, but were enslaved
as concubines of the conquerors. Plainly the
children of these subordinate wives could in no
sense be considered as the property of her kin-
dred. They belonged to their mother's owner,
were born under his roof, and were his to keep,
kill, or sell at his good pleasure. Again, patri-
archal civilization was characterized by the
definite rise of private property, so that it was
not always necessary for a man to capture his
wife or wives in war. They might be purchased
either in the slave market or from poorer fam-
ilies, who would be glad to receive a price for a
commodity the supply of which was greater than
the demand. Ownership, whether through cap-
ture or purchase, made the family patronymic,
not metronymic. Doubtless for many ages the



two systems existed side by side.^ A man might
have a metronymic wife whose children counted
as members of her kin, and at the same time he
might have several slave wives whose children
would be patronymic. Yet the increasing sub-
jection of the female worked against the former
system, and the male either in fact or in form
ended by buying his wife or wives, so that their
children became legally his and bore his name.

Thus as long as there was a "golden age" with
a simple life in the midst of abundant natural
foods, the metronymic family of a monogamous
type developed spontaneously; but when the
struggle for survival and existence began, the
metronymic system tended to break down and
the comparatively free woman of the earlier
period became more and more a subordinate or a
slave. In place of a personal choice in marriage
she was compelled to take whatever husband
chance or fortune dictated. Her initiative in the
household became compulsory devotion to routine
within a somewhat narrow sphere. She no longer
had a voice in the duration of marriage, since that
depended on the whim of her husband, who could
make her lot hard or easy at his will. Her duties

* In modern law a child born outside of legtiimate wed-
lock, whose father is unknown, is metronymic. The sam*;
male, therefore, may chance to be the father of a patro-
nymic legitimate child and an illegitimate metronymic child.


were regularly so exacting that she became pre-
maturely old and then might be supplanted in
the household by a younger wife more attractive
to her husband. Thus the natural love marriage
of earlier civilization was yielding to one in
which sensuality and sexual indulgence played
an increasing part among the wealthy and
powerful; the male no longer had to woo; he
selected according to his own standards, and the
woman was passively submissive. Yet among
the masses of men monogamy survived, since
the marriage basis had become largely economic
and the maintenance of more than one wife
became too expensive for the ordinary man.
Women were therefore chosen on the basis of
their economic capacity, and the more capable
were selected as wives; the others were either
sold by their parents as secondary wives to the
wealthy, or else became prostitutes and earned
in that fashion a precarious living.

The status of women of native stock was of
course made worse by the incoming of women of
foreign birth through slavery. There is no more
pernicious influence in its effects on domestic
standards than the enslavement of females.
Racial progress largely depends on a free mutual
choice in marriage; but the slavery of women
thwarts this by making her submissive to any
master who will pay her price in the market.


Under such a system, with its inevitable sexual
excesses, a slave woman had no rights that a free
man was bound to respect, so that a polygynous
system is at war with the best instincts of woman.
It degrades most of the wives to a position of
servility, and it results in offspring poorly
equipped by birth and training for the larger
affairs of life. Then, too, sexualism^ becomes
rampant among males, since they live constantly
in an atmosphere surcharged with sexual sug-
gestion and under conditions rife with licentious-
ness, enervation, and disease. Presumably races
possessed of great hordes of slaves may acquire
wealth for a time through their labor, but ultim-
ately they pay the price in racial exhaustion and
national degeneracy.

Yet in patriarchal civilization, wherever mar-
riage was monogamous, as it was of necessity
among the poor who lived a simple and frugal life,
a woman's lot was not necessarily unbearable, for
her evident utility and natural capacity would
make her status approximate to that of her hus-
band. As a matter of fact, in any polygamous
society by far the largest part of the population
will be monogamous through poverty. ^ In these

* A word used to emphasize the vicious aspects of sex-
uality; suggested to the writer by the Hon. T. W. Bicknell
of Providence.

' Howard, vol. I, p. 142; over ninety-five per cent.


families there might naturally be expected a fair
amount of equality between husband and wife,
since they live and work together and have their
children under joint care and protection. Still,
if the woman is inferior by law and custom and
if sexualism is general through slavery, then her
position as wife and mother becomes very in-
secure, for divorce is an ever present possibility.
A population made up largely of slaves, a priv-
ileged class monopolizing wealth, and a public
opinion convinced of the essential inferiority of
the female sex, are social conditions that slowly
sap the energy of a race and retard the upward
course of its domestic standards.

In conclusion, it may be said that the broad
term "patriarchal civilization" includes many
varieties of this most important stage of social
development. Each set of conditions would pre-
sent its own modification of the generalized
type. When nomadism prevailed, and pastoral
rather than agricultural occupations, the familial
institution would retain many survivals of me-
tronymic conditions. The height of patriarchal
supremacy came in the stage when men settled
down into fixed abodes and gained their liveli-
hood from their arable lands, but throughout the '
entire period the family was in general patro-
nymic, the male sex dominated, women and
children were subordinated to the head of the


family, and the real center of social life was the
family, to which were united ancestral religious
rites and civic responsibilities in respect to life
and death. For some races a still later stage of
civilization developed when the rural occupa-
tions of grazing and farming became subordinate
to the urban vocations involved in commerce
and manufactures; but this period marks the
decline of patriarchal and the rise of modern
civilization. The patriarchal family,^ therefore,
is of primary importance, not only because it is
the type numerically prevailing throughout the

* There are many excellent studies of the numerous
races of patriarchal civilization and from these a few may
be mentioned as typical, though full biographical lists may
be found in the first volume of Howard's Matrimonial

Morgan's Ancient Society is one of the most famous of
these works, tracing the development of the family and
comparing, as it does, the family of the Iroquois Indians of
New York with the families of classical Greece and Rome.
The social institutions of these last two races are explained
also by Fustel de Coulanges in his Ancient City, in which
especial attention is paid to a study of ancestor worship.
Robertson Smith, in his Kinship and Marriage of Early
Arabia, discusses the metronymic survivals in the family
organization of Arabian nomadic tribes; Louis Wallis, in
his Sociological Study of the Bible, explains in a similar way
the development of the ancient Hebraic family; Keller, in
his Homeric Society, and Gummere, in Germanic Origins,
present sociological studies of the institutions of those
semi-patriarchal tribes, and Hearn, in his Aryan Household,
sets forth a somewhat idealized study of our hypothetical
distant ancestors.


earth, but because in the main the family of
Western civilization is a modification of it. These
modifications are, however, so important that a
new and possibly higher type of family may be
said to be in process of formation.



The natural or physical basis of marriage is,
of course, permanent. As long as humanity
exists on the earth, the fundamental feelings of
hunger and love will energize human action.
Under purely natural conditions these feelings
may be relied on for the accomplishment of a
certain degree of social progress, but in the growth
in civilization man devised in the interest of
order a series of regulations over human activ-
ities. These might be based not only on errors
in judgment through imperfect reasoning, but
even might be intentionally partial in favor of a
privileged individual, or a class, or one ambitious
institution as against another. By long experi-
ence mankind has learned that, on the whole,
marriage and its related interests might better
be left for regulation to the families and individ-
uals most directly concerned, in preference to
undue regulation by other institutions.

Throughout patriarchal civilization it will be
found, for example, that as a rule marriage is
under the control of the families interested, with


a minimum of regulation or suggestion from state
or church. The state may wish to understand
clearly who are of legal birth and who are en-
titled to inherit property, but the customs regu-
lating these are grown, not created by legislation,
and are based on the practices and decisions of
family groups and councils. Religion, also, with
its deep interest in the continuance of ancestral
worship, may countenance and bless marriages
sanctioned by custom, but by its approval would
add nothing to the validity of the marriage. Yet
with the passing of patriarchal customs, Western
civilization has tended to regulate marriage some-
what more in detail, since modern families do
not have the stability or the authority exercised
in earlier centuries, and since individuals, under
the pressure of their own interests and passions,
are not always reliable judges of what is socially
right or wrong. This larger field of social control
fell to the lot of church and state, sometimes
cooperating as friendly institutions, at other
times rivaling each other in a struggle for su-

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Online LibraryJames Quayle DealeyThe family in its sociological aspects → online text (page 2 of 8)